Hey everybody! I have been away from my blog for a long time. Mostly for good reasons– my jewelry business has kept me pretty busy. I’ve been working on a new soldering technique and happily creating tons of new stuff with stones and crystals. It’s pretty fulfilling. And I’ve been prepping for the Spoutwood Faerie Festival in Glen Rock, PA, at which I will again be co-vending with Faerie Magazine, and dancing with my troupe, Transcendence Bellydance Collective (we’re billed as the Faerie Ring Dance Collective out of cheeky tradition).
So I’ve been keeping pretty busy, and just not having a lot of time to do reviews– although to be honest, I’ve been on a low-buy in general. I’ve been working so much, I’ve been doing my makeup about two days a week at best, and so buying new stuff hasn’t been much of a priority. I’ve picked up some new things here or there, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to write about them soon.
I did want to review some things that I tried recently, though– but I want to be clear that it’s a project I started, and I’m very excited about. In January, I founded Sihaya & Company, a four-times-a-year seasonal box. Focused on indie makers, it’s a gift box full of bath and body, household items, sweet treats, and other fun surprises.
The Spring box, which I am reviewing here, has come and gone, and cost $75 for goods worth nearly $100. I was so thrilled to start out the project with a group of makers I absolutely adore. It featured products from Deconstructing Eden, Villainess Soaps, Paintbox Soapworks, Blooddrop Fineries, Leccare Lollipops, Dryad Tea, and my company, Sihaya Designs. The summer box will feature new collaborators (aside from me!), but I am so in love with all of the companies that I selected that I hope to create a rotating roster of regular participants.
I did want to write up my thoughts on the contents of the Spring box, so here they are.
Deconstructing Eden contributed a 5ml perfume spray, Soft Awakening, created especially for the box. It honestly surprised me that I fell so head over heels in love with it. When Toni was telling me about the scent she was crafting, it sounded floral and aquatic– my two least favorite scent families. But I also knew to trust her– she has created many scents that I didn’t expect to like very much, but absolutely surprised me when I tried them on.
Soft Awakening was love at first sniff. It opens with a burst of lavender maillette, a soft lavender that is not at all heavy or medicinal. But what follows it is just spring in a bottle. It’s the scent of cold morning dew on a freshly-tilled field, and raindrops clinging to quivering fresh buds. It’s so incredibly realistic– this is the way hiking smells on a day after rain, that clean dirt and condensation and soft breeze smell that instantly relaxes me and brings a smile to my face. I have worn it at least six times in the month since I received it, and I anticipate wearing it all through the sticky summer months. Even though it was created for the box, Toni has the option of releasing it in her own collections if she so chooses, and I really hope she does, because it’s just that great. It’s a real hit for people who love fresh scents– it reminds me of a springtime version of another favorite DE scent, Anael. So if that sounds like something you’d like, be sure to tell her!
Paintbox Soapworks contributed a 2 oz guest soap, Song of the Lark, also custom made for the box. It is a two-color soap; the bottom layer is a lovely lavender, and the top, a beautiful peach dusted with golden shimmer. The listed notes are “The soft air of dawn, flowering bulbs, sweet earth.” To my nose, it’s a bouquet of soft pastel floral notes. The “earth” note isn’t as prevalent here as it is in some of Hayley’s other earthy blends, like Hiraeth or Potting Shed In A Deluge, two of my favorite PBSW scents to date, but it’s there, softly underpinning the florals. I can’t really tell you what the florals ARE, but I can tell you what they probably aren’t– I don’t smell rose, gardenia, jasmine, or carnation. Overall, it’s a clean floral, just a touch powdery, and not at all heavy or cloying. The formula is Hayley’s glycerin formula, softly moisturizing, and so silky.
Villainess contributed one of their mainstay sugar scrubs, Jai Mahal, in the Smooch formulation. The notes are “4 rich vanillas and tonka, Mysore sandalwood, bourbon and coconut. Expensive woods, incense and imported spices – cedar, amber, myrrh, cardamom and nutmeg.” It’s a definite crowd pleaser of a scent– the rich vanillas blend so seamlessly with the sandalwood and spice notes that it stops short of dessert-y, while still remaining an incredibly sexy gourmand. I love the Smooch formula, too– this particular one is middle-of-the-road in scrubbiness, and lathers a little bit. It’s such a lovely indulgence, and the one I almost always recommend to folks looking to try Villainess, so it made a great addition to the box.
Blooddrop created a box-exclusive linen & chamber spray, Douceur. It is described as a “gentle waking blend of powdery notes and florals, blackberries, sweet citrus, and lemon herbal tea.” When I spray it, I definitely get the powderiness loud and clear– very much like baby powder. I get a little bit of blackberry sweetness as well, and just a touch of lemony citrus. Overall, it’s a gentle smell like the cap of a baby’s head, and it’s a good choice for linen spray if you’re the type to need help with a restful night’s sleep.
Dryad Tea contributed a trio of deluxe tea samples in loose leaf form. Spring Sprite is “black tea and the kiss of spring blueberry.” Mermaid’s Promise is “green tea with vanilla, warm chocolate, and anise notes.” Moonlight Grove is “rich black teas laced with light spice and warmth. Perfect for Winter, giving way to Spring.” Of the three, Moonlight Grove was a favorite, as I am a chai girl. It wasn’t a chai, but the delicate spices were perfectly balanced, and the richness of the black tea stood up to milk, my preferred way of drinking tea. Spring Sprite was best without milk, and with a little bit of honey– that way the blueberry really stood out! Mermaid’s Promise was surprisingly tasty, as I am neither a green tea drinker nor an anise lover. The chocolate and vanilla added enough of a gourmand flair that even I liked it!
Leccare Lollipops sent a selection of four lollipops for the box, and even made them with special vegan flavorings to approximate honey and marshmallow. The flavors I received were Lavender & Marshmallow, White Peach & Rose, Marshmallow & Hibiscus, and Marigold. I loved all four, but of them, Marshmallow & Hibiscus was my most favorite. Marigold had a bit of a citrus lemon flavor. White Peach & Rose and Lavender & Marshmallow delicately balanced the flavors so that neither was soapy at all, but they still felt very lush. Each box got two lollies, and I was so very pleased with their inclusion.
As for me, I created petite owl pendants in the box– 16mm painted cabochons on an 18″ sterling chain. I did the owls in petal pink, sky blue, and mint green.
And, since I wanted the inaugural box to really be something special, I added a trio of mini travel candles, 4 oz each. I blend the scents for my candles by hand (ie, I do not use stock scents), and overall I was very happy with the three I ended up with.
(Those are the candles before I trimmed the wicks.)
Lavender & Cream: I know lavender can be major hate note for people if it’s too strong, so I made something that fit my idea of lavender silk– I cut the lavender with a young coconut note (which doesn’t smell like coconut the way we Westerners are used to smelling it) to give it a very smooth, soothing feel, and blended in a milky note that was fresh and not at all sour. So it felt very silky overall, and not “perfumey” like some types of lavender can be.
Antique Sandalwood & Madagascar Vanilla: My original scent profile for this blend in prototype was to achieve a non-sweet vanilla (because in a candle, that can very quickly get cloying and headache-inducing), blended with a very woody sandalwood. I had originally envisioned the blend to be more vanilla than sandalwood, but one of the sandalwood notes I tested was just STELLAR, and so I decided to make it the dominant note. It ended up a very rich, warm sandalwood blend with a dry vanilla pod note– much more vanilla extract smelling than sweet bakery vanilla. I was thrilled with how it turned out.
Ginger & Wild Peach: This was overall the scent I was the most worried about in the blending process, and I tried three separate ginger notes to get the right one. Ginger is a weird one, and it can either be too aggressively spicy, or it can be weirdly soapy, depending on the source. I wanted a baking spice ginger, but one that wasn’t diluted with cinnamon or cassia, so I was pretty picky about my ginger. For the peach, I actually ended up blending two different peach notes– mostly I used a farm-fresh peach note that smelled more like peach skin than peach juice, but I also blended in a bit of a peach candy note to give it that sweet juiciness to keep the ginger from taking over. The final result was totally mouth-watering, and I am definitely keeping the recipe so I can release this again in the future. I loved it so much.
So that was the first box! The second box will go up for pre-sale the first week of May, for shipment by the Summer Solstice. The theme is Forces of Enchantment, and it will retail for $60 or under. I am REALLY excited– fairytales and magic are among my absolute favorite themes. Also, look at the promo art, by Merle Pace Arts:
I’m practically giddy about it. I will be releasing a pre-order for a candle trio at the same time, to be based on lore of faery queens: Titania, Mab, and Nicnevin. They will be able to be purchased separately, or included in the purchase of a Summer box.
If you’re interested in keeping up with Sihaya & Company, you can visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or search the #SihayaAndCo hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be releasing more information about the box’s contents and contributors as we get close to the May pre-sale date.
It’s my aim to create a consistently stellar box and provide a great platform for the indie companies I love, so if you love indies, too, be sure to check it out!