midsummer dreams apothecary cologne oils

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I’ve had this review half-done forever. FOREVERRR. But now it’s actually finished! Finally. Mercifully. Not because it was unpleasant – it was not! – but because my pile of “to try” perfumes is quickly becoming a very daunting mountain. If I don’t post again within a week, send help.

Anyway, here we have Midsummer Dreams Apothecary’s new-ish collection of unisex cologne oils. They are, as with MDA’s other scents, fairytale-themed (which I love), and the samples come in adorable little mini bottles that don’t leak and stand up on their own. A+.

Beast: Warm spicy amber blends with sultry sandalwood amongst a base of white musk, rosewood, rounded out by just a hint of patchouli. This is a warm, woodsy, and earthy blend. (Amber, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rosewood, Sandalwood, White Musk.)

Warm and musky in the vial. On skin it’s all wood and spice, with a dry, powdery sort of vibe, which usually means sandalwood. After a few minutes I get more amber and musk, and it gets to be a bit much for me.

This is a very manly smell – warm, musky, woodsy, and spicy, and not sweet at all. It definitely smells like a masculine cologne. That’s not a bad thing – I love man smells, hence why I got these in the first place. But this one is a bit too strongly something for me – I can’t tell if it’s the amber or the musk or the various woody notes. It’s just very strong and a lot. However, I do think it fits the Beastly inspiration.

Charming: A heady blend of masculine, earthy, and wood scents are complimented by a hint of equal parts sweet floral and rugged leather that’s fit for a dashing, heroic prince. (Balsam, Basil, Bergamot, Cedar, Leather, Oakmoss, Sweet Grass, Rose, Rosewood, Tobacco, Vanilla, and Ylang Ylang.)

In the vial it smells slightly sweet, green, and floral. On skin it’s still a bit sweet, but more fresh and herbal, with something a little spicy and maybe citrusy going on. After a few minutes, it becomes a touch more floral, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s not a loud, heady floral, and it’s balanced out by the more masculine notes. There’s a deep, smooth sweetness to this that I really like.

Charming is much lighter than Beast, both in character and actual sillage. But it’s lovely. I really enjoy this one and can see myself getting a solid or a smaller bottle at some point.

Dragon: The scent of sharp, tangy grass, rich and fertile soil, earthy rosewood, musk, and the sweet incense of dragon’s blood. (Dragon’s Blood, Earth, Rosewood, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial, Dragon is earthy, warm, and dusty (not in a bad way). It almost smells a little oceanic at first. There’s something murky about it. On skin it’s warm, woody, and dirt-y. That musty, dusty murkiness translates into something really wonderful – it smells like an old stone building with a dirt floor, with sun streaming through the window, illuminating millions of floating dust particles. Forgive me for waxing poetic, but it really does.

I love this one. I didn’t expect to, because dragon’s blood, vetiver, and white musk are all iffy notes for me, but the earth really takes center stage on my skin, and I’m very glad for that. I’ll definitely be picking up at least a solid and probably a bottle of this one.

Hook: A herbaceous, masculine, earthy blend of bay rum and tobacco that is softened by sweet caramel on a base of rich leather and musk. (Bay Rum, Caramel, Leather, Tobacco, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Leather, mostly, with something a little tangy underneath. On skin the tanginess is the main thing I smell. I’m not entirely sure what it is. Not exactly citrus. It’s also pretty spicy. It smells like cologne, which it is, obviously, but like the classic “cologne” smell, if that makes sense. Bay rum? (Bay rum.) It smells good. I like those kinds of scents. The leather lurks beneath the bay rummy, maybe-citrus, spicy notes, and I’m somewhat less fond of that (I just generally don’t like leather scents), but it all works well together. It’s appropriately pirate-y.

Not one for me, I think, but it would smell awesome on a guy.

Sea Witch: A cool and crisp blend of green and aquatic notes with just a hint of sea salt and moss. (Bergamot, Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Lotus, Water Mint, Oakmoss, Ocean Mist, Sea Salt, Vetiver, and White Musk.)

In the vial: Ooh. A spicy green aquatic, really interesting. On skin it’s more spicy than green or aquatic at first, but after a few minutes it all melds together. It’s cooler and more watery-smelling in the vial than on skin, where it’s deeper and muskier. I’m not always a huge fan of aquatics, but I like this one – it manages to fall squarely into the aquatic category without smelling like a generic blue candle in a beach house bathroom. I credit that to the murky saltiness, which is common to most of the aquatics I end up enjoying.

Still not my favorite category of scent, but I’ll consider grabbing a solid of this one eventually.

Three winner for me here – I love love love Dragon, and like Charming and Sea Witch (in that order). Beast and Hook are perfectly nice, but not quite to my taste.

Everything in this post is available from Midsummer Dreams Apothecary.

free fridays: july favorites

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This week’s Free Friday is all about a few of my favorite things! Like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, both of which I would class as very enjoyable things. I mean, kittens. But since I don’t regularly swan around scenic mountaintops, here are some things that are somewhat more relevant to my actual life this month. (Links to reviews where I have them.)

1. Darling Clandestine EVERYTHING.

For the longest time, I had no interest in Darling Clandestine. It was a sort of willful ignorance, the same kind I apply to BPAL, though for different reasons. But after I was gifted some DC a few months back, the floodgates opened and I’ve been having a bit of a torrid love affair with the company since. I’ve liked or loved nearly everything I’ve tried, and the scents are just interesting – even the ones I don’t love, I can appreciate. I’ve been buying up bitsies, solids, and the occasional full bottle at a fairly disturbing clip – I went from having zero DC to having four gifted bottles/bitsies to owning 49 51 products in 35 different scents. In less than 3 months.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I don’t think I’ve out-and-out disliked anything I’ve tried yet (well… I kinda hated Carny Wedding), but my favorites are La La La, All Right (which is in my top 10 favorites scents ever, bar none), Cloudswing, Fisticuffs, Hellbender, Pyrotechnik, Tapadero, and Harpy.

2. Silk Naturals Sea Breeze and Zap.

Two lip products I’ve been using a lot this month are both from Silk Naturals – the Sea Breeze slick stick and Zap lipstick. Sea Breeze is a semi-sheer bright coral, and Zap is an opaque orange-red. The slick stick formula is smooth and a little glossy and doesn’t dry out my lips, and the lipsticks are creamy and pigmented. I also love the slim little tubes that keep me from giving myself Joker face if I try to apply without a mirror.

I do wish there were more shimmer-less colors, but that’s just me being boring and anti-glitter-mouth.

P.S. No review yet, but I’ll have a post about these soon!

3 & 4: Midsummer Dreams Apothecary Mermaid and Darling Girl Mermaid’s Dream.

Mermaid stuff!

The star of MDA’s small lineup for me (so far – I have but haven’t tested out samples of the new cologne oils), Mermaid is a gorgeous, sweet, summery floral that took me completely by surprise. If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ll know that I am not a floral perfume person – but I want to bathe in this. I’ve got a solid to carry around with me, but a bottle of the oil is high on my wish list and will probably find its way into this month’s beauty/perfume budget.

(Edit: MDA is having a flash sale today – 20% off with the code Lammas14 – soooo I just crossed that bottle off my wishlist. Perfect timing!)

And then there is Mermaid’s Dream. One of Darling Girl‘s Soft Focus blushes, Mermaid’s Dream is a beautiful vibrant-but-not-unwieldy strawberry red kind of color that I’ve been loving the hell out of. It actually pairs very well with Silk Naturals Zap, and I’ve been wearing them together a lot lately.

5. Cherries!

Cherry season is winding down now, and I’ve been popping them like candy while I have the chance. Cherries are my favorite fruit and several pounds a week have been making their way into our kitchen. Raniers are my favorite for snacking, but I won’t kick regular old Bings out of bed either – and they’re my choice for one of my favorite smoothies, which is:

Soymilk + a frozen banana + frozen cherries + a scoop of maple almond butter + vanilla protein powder (pea protein is my drug of choice) = delicious cherry pie protein smoothie.

6. Rhett Miller’s “The Instigator.”

This album came out the year after I graduated from high school (2002, what the actual fuck), and I listened to it constantly back then. I’ve enjoyed all of his subsequent releases, and of course his stuff with The Old 97’s (saw them live a few years ago, highly recommend!), but The Instigator remains my favorite. I haven’t listened to it in quite a while, but I came back to it recently when I needed something to help me power through some freelance work, and it’s been in near-constant rotation since.

7. New books!

This month I acquired three new books/graphic novels: “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell, “Seconds” by Byan Lee O’Malley, and “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll. I read the first two during the 4-ish days I was without my laptop last week (it had to spend some time at the Apple store for repairs), and really enjoyed both.

I’ve loved everything Rainbow Rowell has written – Eleanor & Park and Fangirl most of all. Landline is a bit of a departure – it’s not YA, for one, and it’s a smaller, more focused story. There are light and humorous moments, but the overall tone is fairly bleak and tinged with desperate soul-searching and regret. It lacks the youthful yearning and emotional gut punch of Eleanor & Park, and it’s not as sweet and sad and funny as Fangirl, but it is quite enjoyable in its own right, and Rainbow is an author I’ll follow anywhere.

Seconds is a new graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame, but I also really liked Lost at Sea), about a chef named Katie who has a bad day… and then gets the ability to undo it. Sounds great, until she keeps undoing it and undoing it and undoing it until she basically undoes herself and everyone else into a terrible life and, oh, kinda breaks the universe. The story is solid and compelling, the art is adorable, there’s a stealth Buffy reference – no complaints here.

I haven’t had the chance to read Through the Woods yet, but I’ve been a fan of Emily Carroll’s work for a long time – it’s beautiful and haunting and terribly creepifying. Flipping through the graphic novel reveals more of the same, so I’m excited to sit down with that… in the middle of the day… so I don’t have nightmares.

8. Pretty Little Liars!

I’m not even ashamed to admit how much I love this hot mess of a show. It’s absolutely, unabashedly cuckoo bananas – it really embraces the cray, and I appreciate that. Every Tuesday night I kick my fiance out of the living room (or sometimes hop on over to my BFF’s house for PLL + chinese food) to enjoy an hour of murderstalking, inapproriate relationship drama, and outfits that had to have been chosen in the dark.

FYI, Hanna is my favorite Liar. She is a magical unicorn. So if you are also a fan you will understand why I find this most recent turn of events very upsetting. Rosewood PA (which is supposed to be located quite close to where I live, actually) has a problem with grown-ass men, and that problem is that they aren’t all currently in jail.

Since I get super obsessed with the shows that I like, I’m always looking for recaps and podcasts about them. My favorites for PLL are the recaps from Forever Young Adult and After Ellen, and the podcasts Bros Watch PLL Too and Pretty Little Recaps.

So there you have it! What were you loving in July?

midsummer dreams apothecary

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Today I have a review of some scents from a new shop called Midsummer Dreams Apothecary. The brand has a fairytale theme, and there are currently five scents in the lineup. They’re available in 15 ml and 10 ml bottles of oil, .15 oz solids (vegan and beeswax options!), and of course the precious baby samples seen above.

Which – seriously, how cute are they? So flippin’ adorable, I can’t stand it. And much easier to open and deal with than the usual sample vials. You can sit them down without the lid on and they’re not going to fall over and spill oil everywhere! A+. The downside is that they don’t fit into the bullet boxes I used to store the majority of my samples. But they’re so cute.

Anyway – onto the reviews! Note that these reviews were done without looking at the scent notes, which is why they may seem a bit vague. I feel like having the notes in front of my really influences what I smell, or think I smell, in a blend, so this is an attempt to be unbiased in my review. Notes and descriptions were added to the post later.

Beauty: Creamy sweet vanilla joins with sensuous warm amber amidst the fragrance of a garden full of rich full-bodied roses, earthy rosewood, and hints of oakmoss. This perfume is both rich and feminine with a balance of bold florals, earthy scents, and sweet vanilla. Perfect to wear on a rainy afternoon while you cozy up with your favorite book. (Vanilla, Amber, Rose, Rosewood, Oakmoss)

I get mostly an oaky vanilla – maybe tonka? Something woody, anyway. It’s quite sweet. I can tell there are floral notes in there but it’s not overpowering. On skin I smell rose, but it’s a greenish rose, like a rose bush with all the leafy bits intact. It’s also a lot less sweet – the vanilla is much more in the background. I get mostly rose and that woody element and a little amber. The amber gets stronger as it dries, which I’m not crazy about, but that’s entirely down to skin chemistry and personal preference.

I wish the vanilla stayed as strong on my skin as it is in the vial, and amber, shut up, but I do like this one. I may try layering it with a straight vanilla oil to sweeten it up a bit more, but it’s a really nice woody rose scent.

Rapunzel: Fields of fragrant sweet grass warmed by rich amber, with hints of delicate honeysuckle vines, climbing roses, and night blooming jasmine swirl together in this delicate blend. This is a delightfully fresh and feminine perfume that smells like a sunny, grassy meadow covered in wildflowers. (Amber, Sweet Grass, Honeysuckle, Rose, Jasmine)

In the vial this is a grassy floral, but mostly floral. It’s strongly jasmine or similar, some bossy white floral note. On skin that’s ALL I smell. As it dries I think I get a bit of amber around the edges, and just a hint of the grassiness I smelled in the bottle, but really anything else that’s in this one is drowned out by that loud bitch jasmine.

You pretty much had me at “fields of fragrant sweet grass” and “smells like a sunny, grass meadow covered in wildflowers,” but unfortunately this one is not for me. It gave me a bit of a headache. White florals are not my friend.

Snow White: Sweet apple, juicy pear, and crisp fig mingle with the floral scent of sweet ylang ylang and earthy scents of balsam cedar, and rosewood. This is a delicious blend of fruity and forest scents that is fresh and crisp. (Vanilla, Apple, Ylang Ylang, Balsam, Cedar, Rosewood, Pear, Bergamot, Fig)

Very smooth apple and something that smells almost licoricey. This isn’t a tart, crisp apple – it’s more like a deep, sweet red apple. On skin it’s very woody, with that sweet apple in the background. The spicy woods combined with the apple are giving me a little bit of a potpourri or candle vibe. It smells good, but it also smells like something you’d have burning next to the table during Thanksgiving dinner. As it dries the sweetness fades a bit, but it mostly stays the same – spicy woods and a faint fruitiness. My skin tends to amp spice, so others may get more fruity sweetness from this – I think I’d like it much more if that were the case. As it is I like it more in the bottle than I do on my skin.

Mermaid: A blend of sweet vanilla, sea salt, and calming lotus blossom is accompanied by the Hawaiian puakenikeni flower and rounded out with elegant gardenia. This blend is delicate and feminine and smells like a seaside garden on a breezy, spring day. (Sea salt, lotus, vanilla, Puakenikeni flower, gardenia, bergamot)

This one is quite sweet to my nose. I honestly can’t pick out any notes in the bottle, but it smells nice. On skin it’s still sweet, but I start to get more floral notes. Something tropical. As it dries it gets more floral, but never to the degree that Rapunzel did. I can tell it’s a white floral, but I’m guessing not jasmine (my nemesis), and it’s got enough of a sweetness to it that it’s pleasant rather than overpowering.

I actually really like this, which is pretty surprising. Especially once I looked at the notes. MULTIPLE FLOWERS YOU GUYS. I like a perfume with multiple floral notes. Mark this shit down in the history books. Check for a wire or maybe magic spells.

Sultan’s Daughter: Sultry, warm amber blends with sweet vanilla and is surrounded by a palace garden filled with rich jasmine blossoms, hints of fragrant and sweet ylang ylang, and fig. This is a feminine but slightly spicy blend that is warm and bold. (Vanilla, Jasmine, Amber, Fig, Ylang Ylang)

Incense and a bit of sweetness. Maybe sandalwood? On skin it’s jasmine god dammit of course it is. SULTAN’S DAUGHTER. There are some spicy, resiny things going on too, and still a faint sweetness, but mostly jasmine. I hate jasmine and jasmine hates me. All hope is lost. Abandon magic carpet. Jafar will have me as his wife.

My favorite from this collection is Mermaid, hands down. I will be getting a bottle of this one and wearing it all summer. I would never in a million years have expected that, but there you go. I thought I would love Beauty, like Snow White and Rapunzel, and pass the other two along in swaps. Not so! You really never know with perfume oils. After years of collecting and experimenting with fragrances, I’d like to think I have a good handle on what I like and what works for me, but every company’s notes are different and sometimes things surprise you, which is why it’s good to take a step outside of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Overall, my impression of Midsummer Dreams Apothecary is very positive. I love the theme and the branding, and while not all of the scents worked for me personally, I found them all well-blended. And anyone who can make me love a scent with not one, not two, but THREE florals in it has my attention. I’ll definitely be keeping this shop on my radar and am excited to see what she comes out with next!