Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shari's Handcrafted Soap

This summer I joined a soapmaker's forum and it's been "interesting". I mostly use the forum from an android app on my phone. One day I happened to be on the laptop when I noticed that some (most) of the users have signature lines. Some of them even have links to their soapy blogs and / or ... gasp!... the website where they sell soap! Insert excited little girl scream here.

I chose my first seller carefully. I wanted to buy from someone who not only seemed knowledgeable and open minded, but also was nice about giving advice, criticism, and corrections on the forum. I finally chose Shari's Handcrafted Soap - having the same name helped!

I hopped onto her website and immediately put one of every bar she had into my cart. Reality handed me a big fat check upside the head, so I geeked out on her website for a week before choosing which bars I would buy. I convinced myself I could narrow the list to four, I put five in my cart, and at the last minute I added a note to Shari that I found her website through the forum and my own user name.

When my box arrived, there were six bars, a shower poofy, and two lip balms! Oh lovely lovely handmade soap and lip balms! The Diva and I oohed and aahhed over the box for a good hour, then she grabbed one of the lip balms for herself and dashed off to do whatever divas do when their mom is distracted by pretty soap.

Shari's lip balm: I didn't get to try The Diva's Gooey Caramel lip balm - but she told me it is "utterly divine". She has it stashed in her school bag and I see her with it several times a day, so it must be good! The lip balm I managed to keep for myself is margarita flavored and isn't on Shari's website. I'm not sure if that means it's an obsoleted flavor or a new one - I have to make a note to ask because I love it and I'm going to be sad if I can't buy another one (or ten) now that it's gone. Aside from the flavor, the balm has great glide and staying power. My lips feel instantly soothed and softened. I will definitely be checking out her other flavored lip balms (Pizza! Rootbeer Float!) to tuck into the kids' Christmas stockings.

Sometimes toughing out the drama on a special interest forum is a good thing. I know using Shari's soaps and lip balm have been a special little treat for me that I wouldn't have found otherwise.


In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Sherry's Stuff. All products I review are either purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

One Word

So while you're all waiting for the next book or soap review, here's something to keep yourself entertained.

One Word. As I'm prepping for NaNoWriMo - writing up my plot outlines, scene outlines, psyching myself up to actually do it, and getting the rest of my life in order so crap doesn't fall apart - I'm also putting my brain into writing mode. Just getting some darn words on paper and not editing myself to the point of NOT writing.

The idea is simple. One random word. 60 seconds to write about it. Try it - I'd love to see your One Word in the comments!

Kayde couldn't hide behind anonymity. Her looks, her voice, her actions were carefully styled to make her stand out. She wasn't meant to be normal. She wasn't meant to fit in.

She couldn’t move past it. The hurt was too raw. The horror was too mind numbingly real. She had seen his eyes, open, heard his cries. She had watched the truck fill up with water. She hadn’t found the wrench fast enough.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Sugar Queen

The Sugar QueenThe Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's something magical about the way Sarah Addison Allen writes. Her characters and the magic within them create beautiful stories. Stories you want to read in one night, stories you don't want to end.

Summary: Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’ s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

Recommended Reading:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stress Relief Bar from Great Cakes Soapworks

The Stress Relief bar was one of the free samples in my first Great Cakes Soap Works order. I used the small soap ball as a facial bar. I didn't notice a scent at the time, but loved the feel of the bar. Curious to try a whole bar, I added two of them to my second order.

I'm glad I did. The Diva went through my soap stash one night and found one of the bars. She took a big whiff of it, proclaimed it hers and to the upstairs bathroom it went. Once there, The Spawn claimed a co-ownership of the bar. After that, there was no way I was getting my hands on that soap. See? Good thing I ordered two.

Ingredients: tallow, olive oil, coconut oil, water, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, castor oil, cocoa butter, essential oils of eucalyptus, spearmint & peppermint, sodium lactate, and dried peppermint leaves.

First Glance: This is a brilliantly white bar studded with peppermint leaves. One deep whiff of this bar makes me think of starlight mints. The eucalyptus is a very mild background scent - my kids only notice the mint. This bar is bigger than the Sandalwood - or at least it seems that way. I looked at my notes and it seems that they're the same size... but for some reason the Stress Relief bar feels heavier and looks like a bigger cut bar.

First Use: Creamy bubbles abound with this soap bar. I think this bar may have a higher lye discount, because it feels super moisturizing. The mint essential oils are not overpowering and did not cause any skin sensitivity. Very refreshing to use as a face wash. Amy doesn't advertise it as an acne bar, but it did dry out and heal up a recent seasonal acne breakout without stripping moisture out my face.

Overall Thoughts: My kids and I are both loving this soap in our showers. An eucalyptus mint dupe is going onto my What To Soap Next list. In the meantime, we'll continue to use and buy Amy's awesome soap.

DisclaimerIn accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Sherry's Stuff. All products I review are either purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Replacement

The ReplacementThe Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put off reading this book for awhile - I was interested in it enough to want to read it, but at the same time repulsed by the idea of the book. While I was looking for something for The Duder to read, I picked up this book and committed myself to reading it. I'm glad I did and I hope that TD will read it too.

It's a strong character driven story, we're given a clear view of the protagonist and the antagonist is hearsay and acts until almost the end of the story when she is finally a character. I loved that aspect - we knew who we were against, but the struggle was to get our hands on her! loved it.

I also enjoyed not getting fed an entire history of being for the strange creatures that live under Gentry, or even a definition of what they really are. It let my imagination fill in the details (I pictured them very Tim Burton-ish) and the story wasn't held to any rules - as often happens with creatures (such as vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc).

There is some strong language (about 10 instances of the "F" word), sexual references, and teenage alcohol use, however I feel that this is not out of context with the story line (read: situational and not gratuitous) or real teenagers.

Looking forward to reading more from this author.

 Summary: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Recommended Reading:
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Torment by Lauren Kate
Matched by Ally Condie
Crescendo (Hush, Hush Saga #2) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia
Radiance by Alyson Noël

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


October is here. Oc.to.ber. Also known as The Month of Pumpkin Everything.

It's crazy how fast life is moving these days. It seems like just last week I was just prepping the deck and yard for summer, and now it's time to put everything away to bundle up for another winter on the prairie.

The leaves are slowly changing color, slowly falling from the trees. Soon this will pick up the pace, one day the trees will be clothed in beautiful yellow, orange and dusky red, and then the next they'll be bare, exposed branches. We've had unseasonably warm weather here, and I've been enjoying it. I've spent more time in my yard during September and (so far) October than I did all of the summer.

I'm still struggling with This Girl. She creeps in when I least expect it, I can only turn myself inwards, breathe, and try not to hurt anyone with my broken pieces. I am not healing, I am not fighting back, I am only surviving at this point.

Anxiety has been killing me since August. Every day I seemed to be wound up in knots, my thoughts and emotions like fallen leaves blowing across the yard. Whirling around and around with no destination. I'm working on getting rid of this anxiety, but sometimes setting up the boundaries and saying no umpteen million times creates a lot of short term anxiety itself. Most of my anxiety is caused by other people thinking I'm available at the drop of a hat or not respecting my time. I'm over it. I need my life back. I need to enjoy these things that I'm doing.

I have several goals through October.
  1. Continue managing my anxiety (or if not managing it at least being cognizant to recognize when anxiety could influence my behavior and gracefully excusing myself to a better place), boundaries, and keeping my to do list proportional to reality.
  2. Read three books. I seriously let the TBR list get out of control this year. Three books really isn't going to make much of a dent in that stack, but it will make me feel better about goal #3.
  3. Finish prepping for NaNoWriMo. This year I am not reading in November. I am consciously choosing to not read. This hasn't happened in a decade. I have always had a book started, a book I'm struggling through, or a book that I'm blatantly ignoring in favor of Netflix. I am not reading in November. Instead I'm going to really do NaNoWriMo. No more of this moaning about never finishing my manuscript. It's getting done. I'm going to take all that stuff that I struggled to learn in my college class and put it to work in October so I can sit down and just write. Write and finish.
I have a few other small goals around the house, but they're just "blah blah blah". Little projects that once I sit down and do them I can easily knock out in an hour here and there.

October is going to be a month of renewal for me, I can feel it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Patchouli Soap From Shari's Handcrafted Soap

1995 called and they miss me. I've been madly in love with anything Patchouli (and Sandalwood) all summer. It's been taking me back to my incense burning high school days. The colors in this soap are just an awesome tribute to Autumn, earthiness, representing a time to just settle and gather yourself (returning my inner hippie to her box in the corner) so I thought this would be a great time to try the Patchouli Soap from Shari's Handcrafted Soap out.

Ingredients: Olive Oil, Distilled Water, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Buttermilk, Unrefined Shea Butter, Castor Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Lactate, Skin Safe Mica, & Tussah Silk

First Glance: This bar is stinking huge! I didn't even look at the bar weight when I ordered, but when I took the bar out of the box I was floored by the size. It's manageable for small adult hands, but it's a thick cut bar with a good weight to it. The website says it's 5 ounces, but I'd guess that's a general minimum. I didn't weigh it to check. Packaged in stiff heat shrink with two open ends for sniffing capabilities, I could see most of the bar even with the two stick-on labels on the front and back.

The soap itself is lovely. Beautiful swirls that made me think of falling leaves blowing across my yard. The colors are solid and consistent, no graininess or unmixed color blobs in the swirls. The bar had a very glossy sheen and beautiful planed edges.

First Use: The soap lathered immediately with big luxurious bubbles. The bar is super hard, so there wasn't much change at all to the appearance of the soap. I was kind of disappointed in the smell - it didn't seem very "Patchouli" to me. I had to work to really pick out that scent. It almost seemed like there was a light citrus and powder scent covering up the patchouli. I do like the scent, it just wasn't what I wanted from a patchouli soap. No lingering scent after showering - which is ok and expected.

Overall Thoughts: This is a great soap, and while the scent wasn't what I expected, I am still ecstatic with my purchase from Shari's Handcrafted Soap. I look forward to using the other five bars that I bought from her. (Reviews coming! I promise!)


In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Sherry's Stuff. All products I review are either purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for an honest review.