Monday, June 29, 2015

My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge Update (Heavy on the CHALLENGE)


My last three weeks with the My Life Balanced 120 Day Challenge program has been, well... challenging.  As a refresher, this is a workbook written by Vanessa Hartmann, a holistic life coach and minimalist (and one of our very own reviewers/contributors).  I've been working with this for about six weeks now, and I've hit some rough patches.

I am doing fine with the program when my day is routine, but I have found it very difficult to incorporate when I am being thrown for a loop by unusual circumstances.

Jury Duty

The biggest challenge was being called for jury duty for the first time.

I had very little idea what to expect, but was assured by those who have been through it that it was most likely going to involve sitting in a waiting room for a few hours and then being told to go home.  Should I actually be called to sit on a court case, that would likely be only a couple extra hours and that would be it.

I was to report to the courthouse by 7:30am - it was across town with heavy commuter traffic in between, so I had to be up and alert very, very early in the day, so the first thing that fell by the wayside was my usual morning routine.  No setting my intentions for the day and no decent breakfast, because there was simply no way I could face having to eat at 5:30 in the morning.

I did consider the likelihood of vending machines being my only lunch options and planned ahead to avoid that by bringing a large bottle of water and a container of salad along with a fork.  I also planned for 'sitting time' with reading material and my current stitchery project.  I'd have liked to have brought my My Life Balanced workbook, but it is in a large and unwieldy format so I left it at home. (Had I known how the day was going to go, I'd have written a few items from it on index cards to review!)

I lived to regret almost all of these choices - first, they made me toss both my fork and my brand new needlework scissors when I was going through security.  I should have thought about that last one - but I wasn't expecting the fork to be problematic, and I'd deliberately avoided a sandwich as a lunch option because I am avoiding bread! Plastic forks would have been allowed, but we don't use disposable tableware, and it never occurred to me to pick up a pack!  I had called the night before, as instructed, and they had a list of things not to bring - but forks was not one of the listed items.

So -  I was left with no way to eat my lunch, no way to stitch (and left to haul around both for no reason) and couldn't even avail myself of the vending machines because I only had a $20 bill with me, and the machines didn't take anything larger than a $10.

Topping it off, I got called with a large group of people (150!) to be considered for a jury, so we left the relative comfort of the waiting room and were instead crammed into a colonial era court room with narrow benches that would have made a virtuous Puritan cry - and in this room we weren't allowed to have anything out - no food or drink, no reading materials, nothing.

This picture is a LIE - you only get the comfy chairs if you're actually selected as one of the 12 jurors.

We sat and sat and sat, being asked a variety of questions and then those who needed to respond to those questions ("Are you, any of your family or close friends involved in law enforcement?"  "Have you, any of your family or close friends ever been the victim of a violent crime?") went up to the judge's bench to discuss their answers out of earshot - so even when there would have been some interesting people-watching opportunities, there wasn't.  Just a lot of waiting and doing nothing and trying not to feel my butt turning into a giant stone of pain with very little ability to shift or move because we were packed in so tightly.

After 9 hours of this - with a couple short breaks and an hour lunch, which I used to walk the grounds surrounding the courthouse, we were released. For the day - because they'd not only not found their jury but it turned out we were the 2nd round up - they'd narrowed down a similarly large group from the day before to around 80 and the following day, that group and what was left of ours would be combined and from that pool the 12 jurors would be selected.

I was actually a little excited about the prospect of being selected in spite of the physically and mentally taxing process facing me - while we didn't know the details of the trial yet and weren't allowed to look anything up about it, just the questions being asked made me realize this was no small trial. 

The next day I was better prepared - money for the vending machine, handheld nibbles that offered some nutrition in a container, and left hobby items at home.  I did pack a small notebook and a pen to hopefully keep hands and brain busy, but there was never opportunity to even sneak it out.  The second day was still a very early start time, so my 120 Days routine was a bust.  And I was TIRED and achy.  The only movement really possible was Kegels, and I did a whole lot of Kegels those two days, but it did nothing to alleviate the growing stiffness and inevitability that I was going to pay for this experience with a good old fashioned rheumatoid arthritis flare sometime in the next couple of days.

It was JUST LIKE this, except no scenery and we were packed in like sardines.
The long rounds of nothing-to-do mind numbing stretches of boredom were very imperfectly dealt with by trying to remember breathing and meditation techniques, interspersed with interesting things happening in the courtroom. 

Here's my one tip for jury duty (other than 'bring a plastic fork'):

If the judge asks if anyone present believes the sight of graphically violent photos would so upset you that you might not be able to render a fair and impartial decision based on the evidence, and you don't want to be called - say YES, you are not able to do that.

When he asked that question, about 8 people stood up, and instead of calling them forward to discuss it, he just took their numbers (we are not referred to by name in front of  the defendants) and dismissed them without further discussion.  The hilarious part was that after about 3 of them had been dismissed, others that were just hoping to get out of there caught on, and another 20-30 people abruptly stood up!  And each one was dismissed without question.  It was the one and only 'freebie' question that happened that day.

In the end, I wasn't called or dismissed as unqualified or undesirable - by 1pm, they'd found their 12 and the rest of us were released.

(For the curious - once I was off the selection, I was able to look up the trial case, and it involves a murder that occurred in order to kill off a witness in a previous murder case for which one of the defendants has already been convicted. The remaining two defendants are charged with carrying out the murder he hired them for - I'm still a little disappointed that I wasn't selected, even though those that were were told to expect at least a couple weeks worth of trial time.  I'd have loved to see how a trial like this actually happens.)

Now - how this impacted my 120 Days Challenge - the upheaval and difficulty of being able to fit it in actually threw me out of my routine for a few days after. I was tired, working on a terrible sleep deficit and babying a very sore body, and needing to play catch up on my regular daily tasks, and that was taking up all my "spoons".  I found myself having to work hard to re-establish my still-budding routine, and resisting wanting to expend the necessary energy to do so.

Home Repairs and Gross Weather

The second big challenge was shortly after, when our very new AC unit started shorting out every few hours, with the heat index up around 100F.  So suddenly, every day for a week was spent either trying to get repair people out, or dealing with them being here for long stretches.  Here again, my entire day was thrown off, and it was too hot and uncomfortable to want to even think about exercise. Or cooking.

They eventually figured out that a wire that should have been replaced when it was installed wasn't and was giving up the ghost rapidly.  I'm glad for the shorts, however annoying the whole thing was, because I have vision of that wire eventually just burning down the house!

I limped along with my plan, but the routine was again floundering, and eating choices were made for what's fast and ready to eat and needing no cooking rather than for what were my best nutritional options. (in other words, a whole lot of potato chips)  I knew I was making bad choices, but by that time I was starting to think in terms of "I DESERVE these chips - this day sucks!"

And yes - the My Life Balanced workbook talks about this sort of faulty thinking.  We tell ourselves we 'deserve' things that are bad for us instead of reminding ourselves we deserve foods and activities that make us feel better, healthier and stronger.

Eating at Social Events and Celebrations

The last challenge was the run up to a holiday weekend - we celebrate Midsummer with a large gathering of friends and there was a lot of planning that had to go into it.

The challenge here was, once again, fitting in time to keep to my routines and daily tasks when there were a lot of extra things to attend to, as well as the simple challenge of joining in with potluck style festivities without making a lot of (delicious) food choices that might not be a good idea nutritionally.

We brought a mixed berry crisp - sweet but still full of great foods - but there were a lot (LOT) of other dessert options and as a group we failed to ensure a good balance of healthy proteins and vegetables, so on the day I ate far more sweet things that would be good for anyone, and it caused me some immediate wellness impact I should have been able to avoid.

Again the biggest problem there was mental - I was firmly in the grip of "I DESERVE pie. And cake. And these cookies. What, no main dish? Ok then - CHEESECAKE!"

Ironically, the theme of our Midsummer gathering was Finding Balance with Creativity - and if I'd been more focused on creative solutions to achieving balance (an ongoing theme of the 120 Days Challenge), I could have saved myself a lot of literal heartburn this month.

My takeaways right now are these:

  • I deserve to take appropriate care of myself, especially when life intrudes on my daily routine.
  • I need to be prepared for unexpected upsets to routine, and learn how to be more flexible in addressing them.
  • The more practiced I become at meditation, the better I'll be able to draw on it when I am experiencing boredom while waiting.
  • Cheesecake will always be delicious. (Let's be real - that's just the truth.)

A good friend of ours often refers to challenges as "Opportunities to practice." - to practice mindfulness, to practice ones' ethics and faith, to practice integrity of commitment and action.  I'm taking that to heart and realize that uncovering the things that make sticking to my path aren't failures - they are opportunities to practice.

And so, Onward!

Previous posts in this series:
My Life Balanced - Introduction to a New Series
My Life Balanced - 1st Progress Report


Friday, June 26, 2015

Review/Giveaway: The Keeper Menstrual Cup


I was actually pretty psyched to get to review The Keeper, because I’ve been meaning to get a menstrual cup for a while. Score! The catch is, I have to talk (gasp!) about periods (double gasp!!).

(Everyone finished clutching their pearls? Good. Ahem. Moving right along.)

Ok, so I know like half y’all are gonna be like, “What the heck is a menstrual cup?”

A menstrual cup a little reusable rubber cup inserted into the vagina that catches menstrual blood until you dump it out, rinse, repeat. 

Tampons and sanitary pads dominate the feminine hygiene industry, but the menstrual cup has actually been around for about 80 years, invented by a woman named Leona Chalmers. (Read more about the history of the menstrual cup here.)  It catches the menstrual flow rather than absorbing it, so you can leave it in without having to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) for up to 12 hours, and it holds significantly more fluid than a tampon, so you don’t need to fool with it a lot. Its reusability means it’s much less wasteful than pads or tampons, and more economical.

The menstrual cup disappeared from the market for about 20 years before The Keeper brought it back in 1987. And I am here, Gentle Readers, to tell you all about it.  You’re welcome.

When I opened my little package that arrived in the mail, Steve peered over and said, “What’s that?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“What is it??”

“Something I’m reviewing for Reviews, Chews, and How To’s.”

“What is it???”

“A menstrual cup thing.”

“No way! Really?”



“Yes, really.”

“Ugghhhh….noooo….that stuff freaks me out!”

I LOL’d hard. I wasn’t really surprised at his reaction. Menstruation is something that’s been happening to the higher primates for a very long time and has still not ceased to freak us out, even in these enlightened times. Menstruation carries with it some hefty psychological baggage, with undertones of uncleanliness, sex, and shame. It’s something we “just don’t talk about”, which is why I understand that coming to you, Dear Readers, with a message of, “Hey, this thing is pretty cool and super practical, here are several good reasons you should get one. Thing is, you’re going to have to stick your fingers in your vagina!” is a harder sell than it should logically be.

But hear me out on this. 

The best thing about The Keeper, in my opinion, is the environmental impact (or lack thereof). Disposable feminine hygiene products are incredibly wasteful. Over 12 billion pads and tampons are disposed-of annually, and I’m a big believer in treading lightly on the Earth when possible. Since The Keeper collects the menstrual flow instead of absorbing it, you just wash it right down the drain and re-insert, and you’re done.

Another huge bonus: you don't have to empty it very frequently. The Keeper will hold an ounce of fluid, and most women will only produce 2-4 ounces of fluid over the course of their entire period. I have a pretty average flow, and I found I typically only have to empty it once in the morning and once at night. And I love the idea of being able to take The Keeper backpacking or camping without toting around a box of tampons and trying to dispose of them outdoors. 

No more buying packages of tampons (or forgetting to), which is expensive as well. The Keeper is $35, which may seem kind of expensive, but it pays for itself over the course of a couple months. If a box of tampons is $5 and you use one box each month, you’ve paid for your cup in 7 periods. The cup itself lasts for 10 years, so you’re saving some cash.

They were kind enough to send me both the Moon Cup (silicone) and The Keeper (rubber latex). Each comes in a handmade bag with no logo, and no unnecessary packaging to dispose of.  As they say, "Our cups are practically impervious to damage during shipping, so why not keep things simple?"
Since The Keeper is made of rubber (and the Moon Cup made of latex-free silicone), you don’t have to worry about chemicals used to treat and bleach the cotton in other feminine hygiene products, or the source of the cotton itself. It’s also made sweatshop-free in the USA.

However, the down side of The Keeper is that it takes a little practice to use, and will probably take more than one cycle to get your technique down. 

So far, I've used it for two cycles and had a little bit of trouble with leakage on my heavier days, but after consulting their Q&A page, I realized that I probably had it positioned incorrectly. 

I expected my first "public bathroom experience" with the Keeper to be a real hassle, but I was pleasantly surprised that dumping it out and wiping it (and your fingers) clean with a bit of TP got the job done without leaving you looking like a murder victim when exiting the stall. 

I learned you can be rougher on it than you think you should be. I’ve found that putting your foot up on the toilet makes insertion a little easier, but YMMV. Their website provides clear instructions for how to fold it and insert it, as well as how to clean it.  Just like back when we first learned to use a tampon, practice makes perfect.

I personally preferred the texture of The Keeper, being a little more substantial, while the Moon Cup was a little softer and squishier. Both worked well, though, and the Moon Cup is a great option for those with latex sensitivities. 

I think the benefits of using these are definitely worth the cost of the practice necessary to use it. 

Learn more, purchase a cup, or join their newsletter for specials and environmental tips at

Meanwhile, The Keeper is generously offering one menstrual cup, (The Keeper OR Moon Cup, your choice) as a Giveaway for you, Dear Readers.  See below!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY
and will end just before midnight ET on 7-10-15. 

The winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Awesome Life Friday #24

It's Awesome Life Friday time!  We missed you last week and can't wait to have you join the party and share your blog posts with us! 

Before we begin the party, check out what we've been up to the last couple of weeks:

Jackie shared one of her signature family recipes (ok those of us who have tasted them did a lot of coaxing, some of it possibly involving blackmail).  Give these a try - they are amazing!

Chelsea took a whole different path with her tacos - this crockpot meal is an easy and delicious way to prepare a low-fat healthy dish.

How to Travel with a Baby or Toddler & Enjoy It
Vanessa offers tips on traveling with small children without turning it into an ordeal, using her extensive experience doing just that.

Adrenne whips up a tasty frozen treat (and if you're fast, it's great for people, too).

But wait, there's more! We put out some great reviews and giveaways, too. Check these out:

Lynda tested Pinrose's line of mood-inducing scents, and we're offering a giveaway of the same sample starter kit she tried - which one is your favorite? You've got until July 6 to enter!

Review/Giveaway: ReCAP Mason Jar Caps
Vanessa checked out these brilliant pour lids for Mason Jars - and if you enter by June 29, you might just snag a wide mouth and regular mouth lid for yourself (and if you see what other Mason Jar adapters ReCAP carries, you'll want them all).

Review: Walls of the Wild Mural Decals
Amber introduced us to this lovely collection of handpainted wall murals - mix and match to create a beautiful motif all your own.

Review: Natural Goal Green Tea Extract
Our newest reviewer, Rose, explains the benefits of green tea extract, and shares her experiences with this supplement alternative to drinking it (because while we can all agree that it's good for us, not everyone enjoys the taste).

Review/Giveaway: Open Farm Dog Food
Finally, Michael reviews Open Farm Pet - a dog food brand that is sustainable, humanely sourced and grain-free.  And if you enter by July 5, your favorite dog might win a 4.5lb bag of Homestead Turkey & Chicken Recipe blend!

I hope you'll enjoy checking out some of our posts - we sure enjoyed reading all of yours!  Here are just a few we really loved:

Here we go!

Ice Cream for Dogs (Only 3 Ingredients!)


Summer time is here and it's time to whip out the ice cream! But lets not forget about our four legged family members - dog friendly ice cream is a great way to help them keep cool, too.

This is a great recipe that is easy to make, healthy for both dogs and people, and it's easy enough that your kids can make it.

3 Ingredient Ice Cream for Dogs

This recipes makes One full ice tray of ice cream pops! 

Items Needed:
1 cup Plain yogurt
1 cup Peanut Butter
2 Bananas

Put everything into a mixing bowl.

You can mash the bananas but we decided to cut them in slices then cut those slices in half. This was a great moment for me to add my child into the work as he loves helping.

Mix well. At anytime you feel it's too thick you can add in a little more yogurt but this worked great for me. You don't want it to be runny!

Spoon into an ice cube tray. Freeze for at least 4 hours then they are ready to eat!  Expect to get a lot of pleading stares while they wait.

Your dogs will love it!!!
What are your dog's favorite summertime treats?

I Was Featured!

The Cottage Market


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to Travel with a Baby or Toddler and Enjoy It


I know a relaxing getaway and baby don’t often fit into the same sentence. But I am here to tell you it is possible.Here are a few tips for making traveling with babies or toddlers not just easier, but even enjoyable.  We will look at traveling in three different sections: flights, road trips, and when you’re at your destination.


Our son's first flight was at the age of 3 months old. From there his traveling has sprouted into endless adventures. We started small, his first flight was from Oahu to Lanai (less than an hour flight). He did great so we kept building up. By the age of one he had visited all the Hawaiian islands and three states on the mainland. Now he’s a toddler and travels monthly.

I suggest a trial getaway as your first trip. Start with a short flight.

The less you pack, the less you have to lug around. This includes your carry on and checked bags. We travel with one bag for the 3 of us, this makes us more aware of bringing what we really need.

Babies can travel as a “lap baby” until the age of 2. Make sure you have a birth certificate with you when you check in. Some airlines will ask for proof.

I have a travel bag that holds my car seat. I pack it up and check it with my bag. An extra bonus is you can put in some extra diapers and wipes in if you need extra space. I’ve never carried the car seat on with me or gated checked it - the less you have to carry, the easier it is to navigate the airport.

We baby wear and leave the stroller at home. We’ve never taken our stroller on a trip. We choose this because we would rather not have to juggle getting our jog stroller into the travel bag, check it, juggle multiple bags at baggage claim to the rental car, and our son is happier being close to us in busy, chaotic places. At security if your stroller does not fit through you are required to take it apart!

At security, if you baby wear you are not required to take the baby out. They will have you go through the old school metal detector and have your hands swiped.

Most airports now let families with young children go through pre-check screening. At pre-check you do not have to take out liquids or take your shoes off. Pre-check and baby wearing make security a breeze! Check your airport's regulations - most allow water, pumped breast milk, and baby food through security.

Yay you're through, now to your gate. When our son began walking we spent our time before boarding letting him burn his energy off. We have our one carry on bag with us and let him roam the airport with us by his side.

I always try to plan our flight and his nap time together.

In our carry-on we have a pen, snacks, water, small toys, and an iPad for the last resort. We bring a pen because there’s always paper around you can draw on (your boarding pass). I pack snacks I know our son will be excited to eat (no need for a h-angry baby).

I think space when packing toys, what can I get the most variety of with the smallest space. If he’s bored of everything and nap time didn’t line up we pull out the iPad and watch shows or play games together.

On take off and landing I have always nurse. Another great option is a water bottle. This helps their ears with the pressure.

If your child is unhappy don’t worry about everyone else around you. If they are annoyed that’s their problem (they probably haven’t had kids). Take a few deep breaths and find your zen place. If you stay calm, you'll have a better chance of calming your child.

Road Trips

Again start with a short trip and building up.

We plan to head out about 30 minutes before it’s nap time. Our son gets to look around a bit, play some and then falls asleep with the motion of the car. Sometimes we get lucky and he sleeps the entire way depending on the distance.

If our son is not sleeping we start with snacks if he is hungry (don’t worry you can always vacuum the car out.)

Then we move onto books. I pack 2-3 books that are new to him or haven’t been looked at recently.
Next are trucks and small toys that he can pretend with.

Once the boredom starts to sink in I move to the back with him and engage in the books and toys with him.

We when are almost there and he’s ready to run, I pull out the iPad and let him watch a show. Because, let’s face it - an unhappy baby won’t make us get there any faster.

Experiment to see what time of day is better to travel, if stopping to run and play helps, or if it’s best to push through and get there.

When You’re at Your Destination

I always have essential oils in our diaper bag. My travel oils are doTerra’s OnGuard, DigestZen, Breathe, Balance, and Lavender. With these I can fight off germs, treat stomach bugs, colds, diaper rash and calm the baby.

My intention on getaways is to see new things and wear the toddler out so I can relax some. When we go check places out we let him walk/run around to expend his energy.

I always try to find one of these 3 each day to give him a good energy release: a children’s museum, pool or ocean and play park. The more tired they are the more a parent gets to relax right?

My biggest secret to traveling is babywearing. I won't go down the street or out of town without our carrier.

Travel, explore, have fun, and when there’s a road bump, pause and ask is this really a big deal? Laugh it off because it is not worth being upset if something goes wrong.

When something goes differently than planned, do what you can and move to the next moment where your destination is inner frustration or inner peace.

I'd love to hear your tips for traveling with little ones - what have you found to work for you?

 This post includes an affiliate link to - by choosing to purchase via our link, we may receive compensation which helps us offset the costs of running this website.  All opinions about the product are the unbiased views of the author and in no way connected to our affiliate relationship.

I Was Featured!

Bes of Baby

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Pinrose Scents


I am a very sensory person - I can be made very happy or very irritable by textures, sounds, color blends and scents, and how they make me feel varies according to my own mood, so I tend to keep lots of eclectic options around so that just the right stimulus for the right moment is readily at hand.

This means I currently have a lot of perfumes, colognes, and body oils I like to drawn on, rather than one or two signature scents, even though I often prefer to wear none at all.  

I was really interested in trying the Pinrose line of eau de parfums - each one is specifically designed to elicit a particular mood, and their website descriptions for each scent include multiple sensory metaphors that compliment each blend, from colors and moods, to tastes and even songs.  To further help the new shopper determine their preferences, there is a quiz that will help you find a fragrance that is likely to appeal to you.

But I found that the best way to get to know Pinrose fragrances is to try them for yourself, and they make that easy by offering a Sample Starter Kit that includes 1 'petal' sample of 13 of their fragrances (that's all of them except the Surf Siren) for only $9.00!

Once you've figured out which blends you like (and I'm betting you'll like far more than one of them), you can purchase a 30ml bottle for $50, or a package of 25 single sachet petals for $24.  And if, like me, you find it impossible to narrow it down to one, they have a variety of combo packs of petals and even a "Build Your Own" combo petal pack.  Exciting, right??

For review, I received the Sample Starter Kit, which came with the petal sachets tucked into a mesh bag along with a booklet describing each fragrance and with the bonus of a $25 off gift card to Le Tote.  It was my enormous pleasure to spend the next several days trying each one and writing notes on how I experienced them.

It is important to remember that when it comes to scents, it is much like wine tasting - some elements will be common to each person experiencing it, but each person will experience it individually.  Particularly with fragrances, once it hits your skin, your own chemistry interacts with it, altering not only the scent but how far the 'throw' is (that is, how far away from you the fragrance can be perceived by others), how long it lasts, and which particular scent notes dominate.

My experience with fragrances make me wary of strong florals - they tend to amp up to the point of making me sneeze - and to fragrances that use alcohol.  I tend to prefer oils to colognes for that reason, and so I was unsure how well these would work for me.  To my utter delight, not a single one of these disappeared into alcohol scent on me, and with very few exceptions they each lasted several hours with no reapplication. And to my surprise, even most of the floral blends were evocative and pleasant to me, which I thoroughly did not expect to be the case.

If you look on their website, you will see how each one has fragrance notes for the short term, the midrange, and for the long range, labeled "Smile", "Heart" and "Soul".  While my fragrance knowledge isn't sharp enough to pick out all the scent notes by name, I found that nearly every one morphed very much as they were described.

So, let's look at each one (and remember, your experience will not be identical to mine).  These are my notes as I took them in the moment:

Ballroom Philosopher
"I dance therefore I am. Embrace this romantic mix of peony, mandarin petals, and creamy sandalwood."

In the package: astringent and alcohol.
Smile (1st 20 minutes): "Italian Bergamot, lemon, apple"  
Upfront, lemon and bergamot are apparent - like earl grey tea with lemon. Astringent - apple maybe?  Apple notes stronger after about 5 minutes - like a crisp raw apple, growing sweeter.

Heart (2 hours) "lavender, peony, mandarin petals"

After 1 hr, mostly sweet/floral, with a hint of pepper. Can make out lavender, but subtle.  From there, it becomes less definable.

Soul (after 2 hours) "creamy sandalwood, amber, cedarwood"

This faded on me rapidly as a fairly generic scent.  "Smells like perfume" (not a helpful comment, but that's all I could think.)  None of the notes dominate.

Conclusion: I like this, but it doesn't particularly stand out for me as one to choose for repeated use.  I do think on the right person, this one translates well to both day and night time use, and it would certainly be an acceptable scent for any public use where scent is appropriate at all.

Campfire Rebel
"Perfect for sipping whiskey in the woods after the rest of the tent has gone to bed. Spice up any adventure with burning oud wood and vanilla bourbon"

Just by the description, this sounds perfect to me.

In the package:   a whiff of raspberry liqueur. ooh!

Smile: "whiskey, raspberry"
I love the raspberry in liquor notes - almost immediately after application, a distant whiff of burnt wood is added.  I really love this first scent and I hope it doesn't change too soon.

Heart: "burning oud wood"
My first question is... what is oud wood?  On research, I find it is also known as agarwood, and it is a resin.  Sadly, the raspberry did quickly leave... what's left is a smoky resin - deciding if I like it or not, but in the meantime find myself huffing my wrist, so  I am thinking I do?  

Soul: "vetiver, vanilla bourbon"
At close to two hours in, I thought it'd settled down a bit into something indistinctly resiny, but then my husband - from over six feet away - passed me, saying, 'wow that scent sure is... pervasive.'  I never really identified the vanilla bourbon, and the vetiver (which tends to smell like dirt, for better or worse) adds to the sensory image of sitting outside around a campfire. On further talk, we both agreed, we don't dislike it as a scent, but couldn't figure out when it would be appropriate to actually wear it.  I think I may try finding agarwood as an incense, though.  

Conclusion: In spite of my husband's strong reaction, I really liked the evocativeness of the scent.  It reminds me of sitting around a fire with friends - which is probably the only really appropriate place I'd wear it.  I don't think I'd buy this, but I really enjoyed trying it.

Cuddle Punk
"For pillow fights and love bites. Get cozy with this playful mashup of apricot and vanilla."

In package - tropical, fruity

Smile: "apricot, cypress, coconut"
This smells like dessert - an apricot danish?  Very sweet! after about 10 minutes, I can get a bit of the cypress wood notes - still desserty, or maybe like an apricot liqueur (the apricot is not so much fresh fruit as stewed and sweetened) - I like the scent a lot, although I'm not sure I like it as a perfume - it is a bit more sweet and cloying than I would choose for myself. Still, an enjoyable beginning. Not directly picking out the coconut, although I imagine it is adding to the dessert/tropical imagery.

Heart: "tobacco, jasmine, mimosa"
After an hour, still tropical apricot, with some spicy pepper thrown in - I like this better now that it is less sweet but still very lush. "heady".  Two hours in - jasmine (a scent I love), with unidentified spice notes and apricot behind it.  I like this stage - still heady but no longer sweet or cloying.

Soul: "vanilla, saffron, patchouli"
3 hrs in - floral, a little powdery, spicy. Not picking out any specific notes.  4 hrs in, still heady, but in a really delicious spicy way - still has good throw, so I'd be cautious about applying this sparingly, and in spite of the earlier fruity/desserty notes, I don't think I'd wear this during the day.  But I do like it very much and would happily keep in on hand.  It is in evocative, sexy blend!  Good staying power - mellows out into a long lasting spicy scent that is really seductive.

Conclusion:  Not for everyday wear, but the longer I had this on, the better I liked it.  I would happily purchase this - it starts out sweet and fun, and then seduces you!

"I've got you and you've got me. The rich cocoa and pomegranate notes will make you fall head over heels for this brand new scent."

In package - alcohol

Smile: "cocoa, cardamom"
I am getting milk chocolate and incense - about 50/50 foodie and spice in tone. Within 10 minutes, it smells like chocolate covered spiced berries - very delicious and rich!

Heart: "pomegranate, mocha"
Chocolate notes growing more subtle.  Soft, almost powdery berries/spiced wine scent. In spite of foodie notes, it doesn't evoke food, so much as a scene - dessert and wine on a table, candlelight, and incense burning.  This is a night scent for me.  An hour in, the spice/incense notes have mostly overtaken the berries and the chocolate is gone.  It is a bit more powdery than I'd prefer, and already has a very low throw, but is still very evocative.

Soul: "amber, vetiver, cedar"
Never got to this point - had entirely disappeared by then! Sad.

Conclusion: I loved this right up until my skin ate it and it disappeared.  The early stages are enjoyable enough that I might be inclined to purchase and simply reapply often, but most of these last so much longer than this that I was disappointed to miss out on the entire progression.

Merry Maker
"Bring on the bottomless brunch. Radiate sunshine with this refreshing blend of nectarine, rose, and plum."

In the package: light, fresh-scented

Smile: Nectarine, Grapefruit, Cassis
Nectarine as top note (yum!) with some brisk grapefruit thrown in. Nice summer scent (heat index will be 100F today!)  Fruity without being cloying or heady.  It could stay just like this, and I'd be happy.

Heart: Violet, Rose, Plum
At an hour in, still predominantly nectarine - fruity, no florals yet.  Other than as a subtle backnote, they never did strongly appear.

Soul: Musk, Moss, Tonka 
By 2 1/2 hrs, it is very, very light and mildly tart - not getting much else, and I think it will be gone soon. Gone entirely by 3 1/2 hours.

Conclusion: Pleasantly effervescent, but short lasting - this is an excellent summer daytime scent if willing to reapply.  I would happily wear this often just for its earlier stages.  Brunch, yes. Bottomless, no.

Moonlight Gypsy
What do you wear to a party in a forest? Create some mystery with the enchanting notes of cardamom, orange blossom, and patchouli. 

In package: Very astringent - makes my nose sting. Uh oh...

Smile: "cardamom, mandarin, cherry"
The astringency left instantly. Now it's, mm, spiced black cherry! Like black cherry pie filling. After a few minutes, the cardamom comes to the front. Love this stage.

Heart: "orange blossom, gaiac wood, praline"
spice and gentle incense - no orange blossom that I can make out, but mildly smoky and nutty and really pleasant, still with an overlay of incense.  After about 1 1/2 hrs, I smell the praline notes - nutty, sweet and spicy.

Soul: "indonesian patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood"
Mellow incense, short intimate throw.  I really like this - none of the stages are unpleasant or overbearing, nor is the incense 'dirty hippy' in character.  This is vetiver done right! Gone by hour five.

Delightful and mysterious! I'd be happy to wear this often, reapplying occasionally.

Pillowtalk Poet
Nothing to wear is the perfect excuse for spending all day in bed. Slip into this fresh laundry mix of powder, ambergris, and musk.

In Package: alcohol. No other scent at all.

Smile: Powder, Geranium
Instant morph, smells 'clean' and soft, like body powder. (I am ready to stop being worried about the alcohol scent in the package - it goes away as soon as these are applied.)

Heart: Clove Leaf, Ambergris
 Still clean but less powdery.  Detecting notes of amber and vanilla.  This is a really comforting, comfortable scent. I like it.  It is melting into my skin, but not disappearing - smells like skin (in a good way). Low throw.

Soul: Musk, Amber, Sandalwood
Very gentle blend - the musk, amber and sandalwood are in perfect balance.  Very low throw - this is a scent for me and someone nuzzling my skin only.  I am not sure how long it will last, but I like it very much.  This would work well as a daily scent. In the end, this lingered over 8 hours in this very intimate subtle way.

Conclusion: I love this - easily a daily wear signature scent that doesn't invade other's space, except for those you've invited.

Stop and smell the roses. We proudly present our signature scent: A fresh rose with an edgy kick of leather.

It will come as no surprise by the name, but this is their signature scent! Pinrose was nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year, and this, their namesake scent, made it into the top five!

In package: roses and alcohol

Smile: Bulgarian rose, anise, elemi
Rich, dark red roses and something darkly spicy. When I was a kid, I absolutely adored Little Kiddles, tiny scented dolls that came in a perfumed bottle case.  This has that same full-bodied heady rose scent, only far more adult.

Heart: iris, clove, burnt rose
Now sure how to even describe this - I think my chemistry is doing bad things with this, which is very disappointing! - an indistinct sour/bitter scent is overlaying rose along with freshly cut grass. (this stage lasted about a half hour, and then settled out into an herbal scented floral, with a hint of smoke / leather. 'burnt rose' is a good description.

Soul:  labdanum, ambergris, vanilla
This pretty much just lingered as a nondescript scent that smelled of earthy tones and ashes of roses. Oddly, as much as I don't care for this on my own skin, I think I'd find it really sexy on my favorite guy.

Conclusion:  As this is signature scent, I know this must simply not be playing well with my own chemistry - disappointing! I very much loved it's earliest stage, and I know on the right person, this would be incredible.

Renegade Starlet
Pretty in pink and everything else. Make an entrance with this mix of gardenia, jasmine, and freesia.

In package: like... perfume.  Floral, but not able to pick out any particular variety.

Smile: tiare flower, bergamot, freesia
Definitely floral - something like gardenia, I think. I can't identify what else is going on (there are other scents there - something slightly peppery, I just am not familiar with what they are).  Very feminine. In reading, 'tiare flower' is a subset of gardenia, so that explains that.

Heart: gardenia, jasmine, frangipani
Lush and tropical - I like this, even though it's not something I'd instinctively gravitate toward without trying it.  Gardenia and jasmine play nicely together! Frangipani is another name for plumeria, another tropical flower.  At an hour and a half, it is still holding 'true' - gardenia and jasmine in equal part although the 'throw' has settled down a good bit.  Still quite lush, though!

Soul:  vanilla bean, amber
After 3 hours or so, this has settled down to a soft amber with gardenia - low throw, and very nice.   Lasted about 6 hours total - just right for a night out!

Conclusion: I would wear this again - one of the very few solidly floral scents that really worked well with me!

Rooftop Socialite
No better place to survey the scene than from the very top. Brighten the crowd with this fresh mix of Italian bergamot, lime, and mandarin. 

In package: effervescent, lime and something

Smile: Lime, Italian Bergamot, Mandarin
citrusy, very bright. Smells clean (almost like cleaning product). After about five minutes, that went away, and the lime was replaced with delicious fresh mandarin orange - like it had just been peeled. Lovely!

Heart: Freesia, Hedione, Apple Blossom
growing softly floral  along with the mandarin. Very much a 'daytime' scent for me.  Still 'clean' but now floral and also getting a bit of the bergamot.  I really like this and I don't generally like florals that much.
Dewy, cool morning floral.

Soul: White Musk, Cedarwood
musk starting, hint of cedarwood, still with florals - citrus notes gone now.  Still very enjoyable!  Very small throw after about 4 hours and completely gone by 6, but I really liked this one a lot.

Conclusion: This was a winner for me, and I'd happily use it often.

Sugar Bandit
Dish out toothaches and heartaches. Vanilla, cedarwood, and white chocolate create the perfect combination of sweet and sexy.

In package: sweet and rich - the initial alcohol is like a sweet liqueur. I like!

Smile: Caramel
Yes! It does smell like vanilla caramel - yum!  I love this a lot.

Heart: White Chocolate
Not particularly getting white chocolate... this is still caramel, settled down into a rich, but not bright scent.  Plays very well on my skin, and I find myself huffing my arm frequently just to inhale the goodness.  The vanilla is becoming more prominent - very pleasant! This one is a winner!

Soul: Madagascan Vanilla, Cedarwood, Sandalwood 
At 3 hours vanilla dominates and is nearly pure - hoping the woodsy tones come up. By hour 4, growing more subtle and rich - can't pick out cedarwood or sandalwood, but something is there in addition to the vanilla that makes it less foody than woodsy.  By hour 5, there it is - delicious sandalwood tamed with a hint of vanilla. Perfect!

Conclusion: Total winner for me, start to finish.  I would happily wear this as a signature scent.

Tambourine Dreamer
Light up the world with melodies and mirth. Exude effortless elegance with this avant-garde bouquet of white lily and ylang ylang.

In package: floral/alcohol

Smile: lily of the valley, orange blossom, violet leaves
Floral - primarily lily of the valley. After a minute, the last of the alcohol has faded off - the lily is really pretty dead on (as if I were in a garden smelling them).  I like this better than I expected to.

Heart: lemon verbena, musk, jasmine petals
1 hour in - this may be changing my mind about white florals - I'm liking it very much.  It smells very 'clean' and fresh.  Still primarily lily at this point, coupled with the lemon verbena.  Not yet noticing any white musk or jasmine.  Catching myself 'huffing' my arm, so I know I'm finding it appealing.  At 2 hours, the jasmine is starting to dominate, with subtle musk and still a hint of the lily - going from fresh and white to more sophisticated.  Still very much a floral scent, but growing more complex.

Soul: ylang ylang, cedarwood, peony
At 3 hours -The Ylang-Ylang has shown up - a scent I am often drawn to, and I'm back to huffing my arm.  Ylang-ylang, jasmine, lily and musk, and I definitely enjoy this a whole lot more than I thought I would. It is a 'big' scent, and I'd want to be very cautious about not using too much, but I am totally starting to see how a white floral could work for me (or at least THIS one).  5 hours in - scent is still floral - mainly jasmine and ylang-ylang, and holding up very well.  The throw is medium, and it is has staying power without a lot of morphing.

Conclusion: I am very surprised, but I really like it and would use it again!

Treehouse Royale
Who's the empress of the woods? Take on the day confidently with this elegant mix of fig, peony, and Haitian vetiver.

In the package: again a whiff of alcohol/cleaner.

Smile: Cassis, Pear, Fig
Actually getting vetiver right off the top (like dirt), with overripe fruit. Hope this calms down soon. Fruit notes are stronger, but still not picking out what they are - tropical fruit laying in dirt. After 15 minutes, it finally starts to settle down.. More green notes, like fresh leaves along with the fruit.

Heart: Jasmine, Violet, White Peony
fruit and floral - peony predominates, fruit still smells overripe.  Not unpleasant, but not loving it.  Seems less woodsy than tropical and not what I expected. About an hour in, mostly peony with a whiff of jasmine - not sure I could pick out violet.  Vetiver still noticeable, but far more pleasant now.  Cool morning floral at this point - yes like walking in the woods.  I like this better, than the earlier stage and would enjoy it if it stayed here.

Soul: Vanilla Bourbon, Haitian Vetiver, Moss
3 hours in I finally get pear! Still mainly floral, with a whiff of tropical notes and dirt (although much more subtle and well-behaved now).  Same at 4 hours - no move toward vanilla bourbon (sadly), nor is the vetiver returning as a strong note (happily).  By 5 hrs in, it has a much lighter throw, a vanilla floral that is pleasant. No vetiver at all at this point, but a much more pleasant finish than its beginning. Lasted nearly 10 hours before it was completely gone.

Conclusion: I expected to love this and didn't, which may be mainly due to my expectations not matching what it actually was.  That said, it lasted incredibly long and included many interesting elements, and if I had more than one petal to test, I'd try it again to reassess how I like it after repeated use.

Out of the 13 scents I sampled, eight of them were enjoyable enough that I'd consider buying them - that seems like a really high success rate to me! I highly recommend trying your own 'taste tests' with the Sample Starter Kit and finding out what you like - there were quite a few surprises in here for me.

Fortunately, Pinrose is letting us give away TEN of the Sample Starter Kits to our US readers! Read on to see how you can snag one - and if you don't, check them out at

Pinrose Website
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