When It Rains, It Pours

It has been a rough few days in my household. After my cheerful blog post on Tuesday, things went downhill. My mom got really sick & went to Urgent Care which turned into an emergency room visit. She used to be a nurse so sickness rarely affects her unbelievable threshold for discomfort & illness. I knew the pain was serious when she sought treatment from a doctor. Approximately fourteen hours later, all tests had come back negative, and my very tired parents were back home. I was worried sick about what the illness might be, but nothing major appears to be wrong. My mom is strong & healthy, and I have no doubt she’s going to make a speedy recovery. I swear she is a living, breathing superwoman. The day she got sick, she bought groceries & dinner despite the pain. After everything was unloaded from the car, she said the following to me: “Here’s the food. Please fill this container with dish soap. I’m going to Urgent Care. I’ll be back.” If you think that sounds nonchalant, you are correct. She might as well have said “I’m going to the nail salon. I’ll be back.” I want to be her when I grow up! 💪🏻

In the midst of being concerned for my mom, I received a distressing email early Wednesday morning from YouTube. According to their new standards, I am no longer eligible for their YouTube Partner Program. This means I lose out on making money from my videos as well as helpful features such as creating my own thumbnails & scheduling upload times. I wouldn’t still be a YouTuber if money was my main motivation, but what little I do make helps me to continue creating content. It is so motivating to watch my monthly income increase month by month thanks to increased viewership & support. Right now the news feels like a punch to the gut, but I refuse to let this stop me. I am here to stay for as long as I feel inspired to make videos. If you want to support my channel, thank you from the bottom of my heart! <3

The cherry on top of this emotionally draining week is a bit more humorous. Thanks to the amount of clothing I have jammed into my teeny tiny closet, the right pole flange (look it up) broke. I had to remove one of my hanging shelf organizers on the other side of the closet, no easy task when you’re angry & tired, and make space for some of the clothes about to fall to the floor. Just what I needed to cheer me up! 🙄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

I have waited all year for this movie! Part of my birthday celebration was seeing the first showing at my local theater. As a passionate Agatha Christie fan, I have thoughts both good and bad so settle in for a semi-bumpy Orient Express ride.

Many people had doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of beloved detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a doubter, I want to put your mind at ease. Mr. Branagh is hands down the best part of the movie. He kept the spirit of the Poirot we all know and love while adding humor and his own unique touch to the character. He is a constant source of smiles and laughs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the ensemble cast did not disappoint. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always (SPOILER) even though his part is short-lived. Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have some shining moments, and Dame Judi Dench’s monologue about little Daisy Armstrong made me tear up. Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin’s respective portrayals of Count & Countess Andrenyi are dark, a hidden gem that is impressive considering their inexperience. Josh Gad was good for the most part, but the chase scene involving Poirot felt awkward. The conflict between Hercule and Dr. Arbuthnot also felt clumsy. Daisy Ridley acted well, but I did not like Mary Debenham’s demeanor. In the book, she is polite and reserved which leads Poirot to suspect she might be the mastermind behind the murder; his suspicion makes little sense in the movie because Mary is much too bright and happy.

The book’s methodical layout is not perfectly suited for a movie. Some may find the added action irritating, but I understand the necessity to shake up the format onscreen. That being said, some of the clues got lost in the shuffle due to a speedier pace. As far as I remember, all the clues from the book were included, but they weren’t given the time they needed to simmer and encourage the audience to consider possible outcomes. Perhaps the extra, non-book stuff could’ve been trimmed to accommodate character interviews and clue discoveries, making the final reveal much more grand than it actually was. I also want to mention that I don’t remember Biniamino Marquez being named at the end. (SPOILER) The twist relies on the shock of twelve people being involved, each with a specific connection to the Armstrong family. The cast may seem large, but those who know the story well won’t miss anything, even if only one name is passed over. This goes back to details being muddled at the end. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the greatest stories ever written in the mystery genre. If you don’t lay it out correctly, you spoil the thrill and fun of the twists and turns.

I love two-thirds of the movie, but the ending is a disappointment. Things can surely get better from here so I hope Kenneth Branagh is giving the chance to continue the series, perhaps with a book that has less adaptations. I truly believe he can do great things with Poirot. The final scene hints at a sequel based on Death on the Nile. How great would that be?! 😄

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSSSZpAkyw&t=25s

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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All In

The final countdown is upon us fanboys & fangirls, the moment we’ve been waiting for since childhood: the Justice League will be on the big screen in one week! I am here to encourage peace before the chaos commences. DC community, respect your fellow fans. If your enthusiasm does not match that of someone else, please leave them alone and allow them to be happy. Marvel community, please don’t turn this into a war. No two fans are alike, but we all have one thing in common: we LOVE superheroes! I think both the Avengers and the Justice League would want us to be united, not divided. I am personally very excited and refuse to let anybody or anything to ruin this experience which is why I’m turning off all social media starting November 14th. I will be avoiding petty comments and reviews until I see the movie on the 16th because I want to form my own opinion without outside influence. If you’re not already jumping out of your skin with excitement, GET ON MY LEVEL!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_6yBZKj-eo

💪🏻 🦇 👑 🐠 ⚡ 🤖   J  U  S  T  I  C  E      L  E  A  G  U  E      A  L  L      I  N   💪🏻 🦇 👑 🐠 ⚡ 🤖  

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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The Balloon & the Zipper | Blogmas 2016 🎄

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

• 18 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

I know I’m starting Blogmas six days late, but I have had quite the week.  I worked a long weekend then had possibly my worst day as a Youtuber yesterday.  I filmed three videos, lost two of them, hated the third, and burned my finger on a candle.  I am determined to maintain maximum holiday cheer so I’m going to get the party started with a hilarious story from my exciting job as a retail associate.

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

Customer: I am a longtime customer. I only buy my jeans here. I’ve never had this problem before. I wore and washed my new jeans, and now the zipper won’t zip. I want to return them.

Me: Let me check the zipper first and see if I can do anything.

*A few seconds later*

Me: It looks like there’s something jammed inside the zipper.

Customer: I don’t see anything!

Me: It looks like gum.

Customer: I don’t chew gum!

*Strange object is pulled out after minimal effort*

Me: It looks like a piece of a green balloon.

Customer: I don’t own balloons!

Me: Oh! That’s strange. Well, the zipper works fine now.

Customer: Wow! Thank you! You just made my day!

I do what I can for the people. ;)

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

VLOGMAS – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUvowXnQBLryeHcwz801Rsx7d1upOgV8k

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

11 DAYS UNTIL ARTMAS – https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: Life Update | November 2016

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Anthology Candles

Today I am reviewing products from Anthology Candles, a company owned by Rheney Williams and her husband Stephen.  Their soy products are whimsically inspired by music, movies, & books.  Keep reading for information on their candles, mini candles, & wax tarts.  My Youtube review video will be posted at the end for those of you who want to see the products in action.

Candles | $16.00

The top white layer is clean river water; the middle lavender layer is a floral blend; and the bottom purple layer is a mixture of flowers & water.  There is no need to burn the candle down to smell each layer; it immediately smells clean and floral.  If you like strongly scented candles that fill a room within minutes, this is not the product for you.  It took an hour for me to smell the scent, and even then I had to remain within a foot or two to enjoy it.  Once it is burnt, the candle’s scent is hidden by the smell of burnt wick.  As time goes on, the scent comes back and gets stronger.  The draw of this candle is definitely the aesthetic.  The design, inspired by the lantern scene in the Disney film Tangled, is spot on.  The white wax becomes transparent when burning and makes the candle appear as though it is a lantern.  The effect is mesmerizing!  If you are planning a Tangled party, think about investing in these candles and creating your very own “Floating Lanterns” scene.

• Find the candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/candles

Mini Candles | $14 per sampler pack

Instead of purchasing more big candles, I got a sampler pack of four mini candles.  Belle’s Library is aged library books, hint of leather, & wild roses.  To me, it smells nutty with a hint of rose.  My nose is obviously confusing the smell of old books for nuts.  I don’t know of any other way to describe it.  It just smells nutty!  Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is bakery cakes with vanilla icing, chamomile tea, and a twist of cinnamon.  I do smell cinnamon and occasionally vanilla but mostly an icee.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s true!  Part of Your World is crisp coastal breeze & warm golden sand.  I smell a blend of vanilla & flowers, and the strength of the scent reminds me of Bath & Body Works products.  Tink’s Flight is fresh verbena, sweet coconut, & tangy lime.  I smell every single one of those notes.  The scent is sweet & sour just like Tinker Bell.  Time for the bad news.  The wicks are folded down in the packaging so when it comes time to light them, zip zilch NADA!  I had to trim the wicks a little bit and wipe them gently with a paper towel; I wasted a lot of matches before finally getting flames.  Once lit, the candles look pretty but don’t smell at all.  These sampler candles are fine if you plan on testing the scents without flame.  It might be a better investment to know what scents you like and buy a few big candles.

• Find the mini candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/sample-packs

Wax Tarts | $25 for 4 different scents

* Note: Wax tarts are cubes of scent-infused wax.  Once placed in a warmer (e.g. Scentsy), the heat melts the wax and releases the scent.

I bought one sampler and received four different wax tarts.  Rivendell is amber, oakmoss, twilight woods, & woodland foliage.  I wish I could tell you that my dream of being a Middle Earth elf was fulfilled by this product.  Alas, it smells like play-doh, and the warmer is no help at all.  However, due to circumstances I cannot explain, the scent is improving.  There is hope yet!  Soaring Over is orange blossoms, orange groves, and salty sea breeze.  The scent is inspired by the Disney park ride Soaring Over California.  It smells of oranges and takes me right back to my childhood in Orange County.  The Black Pearl is cannonball smoke, mildewy wood, musty “pirates” water, & salty sea breeze.  I did not like this funky scent at first.  All you smell is must, mildew, and smoke.  Surprise of the year, it smells much more pleasant in the warmer.  If you aren’t into scents that are clean, floral, and/or sweet, this scent might float your boat (get it?!).  Wilderness Lodge is campfire and a forest tree mix of juniper, pine, & spruce.  This spicy forest scent will be p-e-r-f-e-c-t for Christmastime.  Overall, I am very happy with the scents I purchased.  However, much like the candles, it takes an hour or more for the scent to be recognizable, and it does not fill the room; you have to be within a few feet of the warmer to enjoy the scent.

* Rivendell scent description courtesy of http://ritareviews.net/2015/11/anthology-candles-spotlight-lord-of-the-rings/ *

• Find the wax tarts here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/wax-tarts

Conclusion:

The novelty of Anthology Candles is attractive.  I would recommend their products for two things:

1. The candles and wax tarts are best enjoyed in close proximity (e.g. bedside table or living room side table).

2. I have seen the candles used as decor all over Instagram, especially on bookshelves.

My overall experience was good.  There are only a few changes I would suggest.

1. There are descriptions on the website for the candles but not the wax tarts.  This works out fine if the wax tart happens to have a candle, but if it doesn’t, there is no way of knowing what the scent is.  Also, the packaging gives no indication of the scent.

2. The mini candle sampler packs are not customizable.  There are three packs available, each with a set group of candles.  I am not sure of the possible complications, but it would be nice to have a customization option in the future.

3. The wax tarts can only be purchased in groups of four.  Once again, a customization option would be nice in the future.

4. These products would be much more enjoyable and worth the money if the scents were stronger.

• My review video:

• If you’re interested in more information on Anthology Candles, here are some links to get you started:

Article – http://ritareviews.net/2015/10/the-craft-behind-the-candles-by-rheney-williams/

Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnthologyCandles

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anthologycandles/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/anthologycandles/?hl=en

Twitter – https://twitter.com/anthologycandle

Website – https://anthologycandles.com

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