Friday, November 18, 2022

Siphon Draw Apothecary: Chocolate Rose Kiss Lip Balm

On visiting Siphon Draw Apothecary in Goldfield Ghost Town earlier this year, I promised the possibility of reviewing some of their chocolate products. So now at long last we have today the Chocolate Rose Kiss Lip Balm. There is also a chocolate rose soap for any who prefer a soap version (or want to put together a little set), though my preference turns out to be for the lip balm (maybe because I already have a local soap brand, Daisy G's, that I'm used to). There are several scents/flavors in lip balms, besides the Chocolate Rose Kiss. Prickly Pear promises popularity and the Lizard Lips variety is wonderfully named. But it's chocolate that I write about on here, so it's just the chocolate we're looking at.

Much of Siphon Draw's packaging leans toward the black and white look. It keeps things sleek and neutral and on some of the products even creates more of a semi-historical, apothecary look (for the ghost town location) than more obviously western imagery would do. It's just a pale background image, but on this lip balm you can see a picture of the Superstition Mountains, which is where the apothecary's namesake, Siphon Draw, is located. It's also the view from Goldfield. The kiss sticker on the cap adds in that feminine touch.

While I haven't tried many of the apothecary's products, I do have pretty full trust in them by this point. Nothing artificial, as you can tell by their white bath bombs (most handmade bath bombs you come across are in those fantastical colors that are obvious signs of artificial colorings). Like I mentioned before, certain ingredients, most notably the creosote, are also harvested locally. Our lip balm today of course does not have creosote. Its base is cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, and beeswax--all of which are wonderful in a lip balm. I'm biased, sure, but cocoa butter does add an especially nice, soft, moisturizing touch. 

For the rose element, we have both rose hips powder and rose kaolin clay. There's also Vitamin E oil, which is going to be great for the skin. And paprika, chocolate (I'm going to assume this means cocoa powder, as there is no further breakdown of ingredients), stevia, ylang ylang, geranium, and cinnamon. The rose clay, cinnamon, paprika, and chocolate probably all contribute to the warm, reddish-pink color in the balm. It isn't labeled as tinted balm, and I wouldn't quite call it that, either. But there is an almost tint to it, which is a quality I quite like in a lip balm. Whether it will add a hint of color to your lips or not will depend on your own coloring; I feel like it adds just the tiniest hint of color when I use it. 

There is a definite floral feeling to this balm from the rose and geranium. As chocolate lip balms are easier to find than floral ones, I'm enjoying this rosy element. What I was a little surprised by the first time I tried it was a slight tinging from the cinnamon. It's very slight and it goes away immediately; I just wasn't expecting it. I also find that if I'm already wearing some of the balm and I add more, I don't notice the cinnamon when reapplying. It's actually a nice element, adding to the warmth of the flavor, even adding more of a chocolate feel. Because, what with all of these scents and aromas, there isn't exactly a huge chocolate flavor. I feel like I get more of the texture of the cocoa butter and an overall feeling of its presence than any specific chocolate scent/flavor. But I certainly don't mean that as a complaint. I much prefer this to a strong, artificial chocolate flavor added in. Subtle can in fact be more luxurious.

Because of all the ingredients in here, this is a wonderfully moisturizing balm. And the scent is warm and enticing. Rose being one of my preferred fragrances, the inclusion here with the chocolate is welcome. I could easily see using this balm, or trying out some of the others, for a daily lip balm. And the handmade element, as well as the unique scents, make them perfect for gifts, as well. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Tetris and Accepting Imperfection

I've never been big on computer or phone games. But I liked Oregon Trail back in the day. And Tetris. Oh, I did like Tetris. I was good at Tetris. I could play a continuous game for a long time. I remember finding it harder to play once iPhones came out and you had to use a touchscreen instead of going click, click, click. Tetris is the game that I occasionally do pick up again, mainly when my mind is itchy and needs something to focus on, like if I have five minutes to wait on something I'm a little anxious about. I'm still pretty decent at Tetris.

A couple months ago, I discovered Woodoku and had a temporary fixation with it. It's a little addictive because there are different levels that you complete within a week's time and other little sets that you do over the course of the month. So it makes you feel like you have to check in at least half the days in the week. It looks like Tetris, but it uses that square setup of sudoku. So you use your wooden blocks to fill in the squares, kind of like how you fill numbers into sudoku. I've never seen the appeal of sudoku. But this is good; I like this.

The way that the setup is, you often have no choice but to put a piece in where it will make a trapped, empty space. But it's okay because you have to take the best choice available and think in long term, not just for the one move. You might make empty spaces now, but maybe in the next more you'll get the right piece that allows you to access that space again and fill it in even better than you could have before. After all, since the pieces aren't falling down in ever-increasing speeds like in Tetris, you have time to plan and try to make a strategy (I say try because of course you still don't know which pieces you'll get next) (not that I normally like having to make a strategy--so maybe I like that you can only strategize so far. The strategy is more about how best to fill in space, not about military moves). 

Given that it's so different from Tetris despite looking fairly similar, I wondered. I tried up a game of ol' Tetris again. I wondered if I wouldn't play as well, since it had been a while and since I'd been getting new ways of thinking. And guess what I didn't anticipate.

Usually, I keep a pretty clean Tetris game. Just a couple rows on the bottom, no gaps within the rows. If I have to make a trapped, empty space, I get knocked off my game. The rows start stacking up, and I'm buried. But playing Woodoku got me used to having those empty spaces. So when I found that the best option in Tetris was to make a trapped space, I did it and kept going and cleared up the space again. I found that I could play a better game with higher stacks of rows that I had been able to before. I found that I could play through the imperfection.

Sometimes that's life. You can't fit all the pieces in perfectly. But if you start in with the awareness that they won't all fit perfectly, then you can have the mindset that allows you to best work within that state of imperfection. You can keep reacting, planning not just for the perfect fit but also for the imperfect one. And then you can keep clearing out rows and racing towards your goal.

Monday, November 7, 2022

The Eisendrath House

It's really quite terrible that I've never been to the Peterson House, which is basically the only Victorian house left in the Phoenix area besides the Rosson House in Downtown. So I was looking up to see when they're doing holiday tours this year, and what do I find on Tempe's website? The Eisendrath House. Tour days were only listed at a few a year--with one coming up that weekend. So I betook myself to the Eisendrath House posthaste to see what I could see. (The next tour day is coming up this Saturday 11/12/22.)

The home is a little newer, built in 1930 in the Pueblo Revival style. It's also passed through many hands over the decades. Unlike the Rosson House, which received quite the impression restoration, the Eisendrath House has simply been rehabilitated. The house that you enter now is, then, not entirely like the house you would have entered in 1930; it's simply been put back on its feet, not brought back to its original state. What I didn't know is that the city has recently taken over the house; the day that I went was the first day of their tours. So they're still fairly fluid as they settle in on a tour structure and learn what we want to know about--and learn more about the house.

While I generally consider myself a Victorian at heart (so even the Rosson House leans more towards the 20th century), lately more things have been drawing me towards that general 1930's era. While the wild 20's rocked away the last vestiges of the Victorian era, the 30's did have a certain classiness to them. And what was still considered a little wild in the 30's is considered classy today--like music, or even clothing. So I enjoyed sitting (figuratively) in the era of this house for a bit. 

There isn't much furniture in the house at the moment and, of course, nothing that was originally there. But what is there is enough to give that impression of the types of things that would have been in it in 1930. And that, too, I enjoyed. It's a Pueblo Revival style home, but Rose Eisendrath didn't furnish it in "Santa Fe style" or "western" furniture like we have today. She seems to have furnished it in the type of furnishings she would have used for any of her other houses. I do like that concept. If I were to move into a pueblo/western/Santa Fe style house, I could still put my Victorian-esque furniture and decor inside. If I were to move into a really modern, clean lines, lots of glass sort of house, I could still decorate it with my Victorian trinkets. I like the idea of keeping the style of what furnishings and decor you have for as long as you can--and fitting them into whatever style of house you are in. It doesn't detract from the style of the house itself (necessarily--I know that's a broad statement), so long as you're not actually altering the structure of the house. If there are beautiful wooden vigas/beams, for instance, don't paint them or cover them just because they're not your style; let them be and put your style in the furnishings. You can work in some details to connect it all--like, in this case, maybe some pottery. But I like the idea of bringing styles together (okay, which is also why I like the Victorian era--they loved juxtaposition). 

I ramble. But my point (rather than to tell you exactly what I saw or learned from visiting the Eisendrath House) is that visiting these places makes both for a wonderful way to spend an hour and for a great conversation starting point. It's always intriguing what speaks to each of us, what inspiration we gained from visiting the same little spot.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

It Can Never Be Like It Was Before

Since moving back to the Phoenix area almost six years ago, I've been trying to enjoy the things the city has to offer, like the arts. Arizona Opera, Ballet Arizona, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Musicfest, the Mesa Arts Center, the Orpheum Theatre, Herberger--there's plenty to keep busy with show after show. So up until last month, I had never attended a performance from Phoenix Theatre Company. 

If Bandstand was anything of an example of the quality of their productions, I've been missing out. (Granted, Phoenix Theatre Company tickets also cost more than some of the saver ticket options for other companies, though they do offer lots of promo codes.) This musical was at their Mainstage, which is a relatively small venue. Yet the production was full--music and choreography and singing. Even towards the back, you're close enough to enjoy the detail of it all.

The story follows WWII vets trying to make their way back into society after the war. We also focus on Julia, the war widow trying to have an identity besides just being a war widow but also trying to find closure for the loss of her husband. And the way in which their story of "coming home" is told is quite unlike any other. Their PTSD, their lingering issues (whether physical or mental), their fears, their memories, what sets them off--it's all thrown in within the story. We don't see the innocent young men before the war, then the haunted men after the war, and then some sort of third act event that brings it all to a climax, then the resolution. That is, we see all the stages of the story told in the musical. But we don't see those stages in the characters' lives. We come to understand that for them, there is no going back, no coming home (in which I inadvertently take some of Frodo's words--which I suppose is fitting given that Tolkien wrote his story after his experience in WWI). They'll always carry the war with them; the sacrifice wasn't just in the time spent overseas but in their whole lives. It can't ever be "just like it was before."

So the story itself is incredibly moving. And the performances matched the material. 

Having dabbled in swing dancing in the past year, that swing era now has a little bit of connection for me. So it was nice even just getting to hear all the music and see the choreography. This is one of those musicals that flows from one song to the next; the beats keep moving. Swing makes for a wild and reckless abandon to energy that tries to stave off the pain of the war--and audience-wise, provides levity towards the serious material. Somehow this musical acknowledges the depths of darkness while also not being depressing. That's what art can do, though, no? The darkness is made into an elevated view of reality--by both the band in the musical and by the musical itself. Art can heal not by taking away the pain but by giving it outlet, giving a place to state the truth in full force in a way that you couldn't in any other way.