this, that, and the other thing {xxviii}

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Currently in love with this little gold-kissed delftware inspired bumblebee by Relm Art

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The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time

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“Theatre of Fear and Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris”

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Footprints in Delirium: Exploring the Art Giallo, Part 1

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Episode Two of Kate and Jack’s brilliant Bad Books For Bad People!

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Bloodmilk book club: win a copy of Sonya Vatomsky’s Salt is For Curing!

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Download Issues of “Weird Tales” (1923-1954)

A Lesbian Artist Who Painted Her Circle of Women at the Turn of the 20th Century

5 Ways to Make Peace With The Ghost of a Murdered Silent Film Ingénue Living In Your House

Watch John Malkovich’s Impersonations of David Lynch Characters, Including the Log Lady

Teen Makes ‘Sit With Us’ App That Helps Students Find Lunch Buddies

10 children’s TV shows that were more disturbing than Watership Down

Music I have traveled to by Soyna Vatomsky

Less Lee Moore’s reviews over at Modern Horrors are your new favorite movies

The Unexpectedly Existential Roots of Adjective Order

Angela Carter’s monsters

The Politics of Pockets

THE OCCULT ACTIVITY BOOK VOLUME TWO HAS ARRIVED

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The Occult Activity Book Volume Two has arrived! To those who have pre-ordered, our winged demons will begin the process of packing and shipping your mystical goods over the next few days. Many, many thanks to our extraordinary contributors: Tenebrous Kate, Jack W. Shear, EC Steiner, Carisa Swenson, Dana Glover, Dan Bythewood, Heather Drain, Laurel Barickman, Sonya Vatomsky, and Alex Kievsky.

You can still order your copy of The Occult Activity Book Volume Two at MunichArtStudio.bigcartel.com

Links of the Dead {September 2016}

"Evening Walk" by Kristin Forbes-Mullane, 2016

“Evening Walk” by Kristin Forbes-Mullane, 2016

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

💀 Dhruvi Acharya’s new work explores the journey of reconstructing the self after loss.
💀 Little Miss Funeral: Lauren LeRoy reflects on her experiences in a male dominated industry and on why her job is so important.
💀 Shopping for the Afterlife in China
💀 A Daughter Reflects On Her Mother’s Fight For A Medically-Assisted Death.
💀 How Quakers Cope with Death
💀 After escaping the World Trade Center on 9/11, Stephen Milller left Wall Street to become a professional obituary writer.
💀 What It Feels Like to Die: Science is just beginning to understand the experience of life’s end.
💀 The funeral business? Eternally healthy. But finding younger mortuary workers is a challenge.
💀 Is 2016 the year of the celebrity death? An update.
💀 Morbid Curiosity is a card game about death. Part trivia, part conversation it offers an intriguing and delightfully morbid evening with friends.
💀 The Sobering Thing Doctors Do When They Die
💀 Life, The Universe And Everything: Five Things I Learnt At A Death Cafe

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…and speaking of Death Cafe, I have just facilitated my fourth and final Death Cafe Orlando event. It was a lively, yet bittersweet gathering, but I can’t be too sad, for I have passed the torch to some truly fantastic folks, and in the meantime, I am gearing up to begin Death Cafe Daytona Beach to serve the Volusia County area! Our first event will be in early 2017 and I couldn’t be more excited.

Previous installments:
Links of the Dead for August 2016
Links of the Dead for July 2016
Links of the Dead for June 2016
Links of the Dead for May 2016
Links of the Dead for April 2016
Links of the Dead for March 2016
Links of the dead for February 2016
Links of the dead for January 2016
Links of the dead for December 2015
Links of the dead for November 2015
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

Swan Children Alchemy giveaway winner

Our winner is Eden Royce! Thanks for your comments and for sharing your obsessions, everyone! Be looking for more nosy interviews and fun giveaways on Unquiet Things in the near future.

In the meantime, were you wondering How To Wear a Swan Children Alchemy scent giveaway? Well, of course you were. And I’ve got you covered.

songstress, scenteur, & crystal-slinger

 

Currently {September 2016}

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This past month has seen a slow shift into a less hectic pace and has presented me with more time to focus on things I have been neglecting. The past year has been so busy, especially the earlier part of the summer, and so it was easy to ignore things piling up…as in literal, actual piles and stacks of things that just kept growing and slowly taking over the entire house.

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I spent the greater portion of August getting these things sorted and settled. Stacks of books were dismantled and properly shelved. Art was hung on walls, makeup and brushes were given a home, and jewelry is now untangled and on display. It’s about time.

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If you’re curious about the coffin shaped pin boards and jewelry hanger, they were created by brilliant folks over at Life After Death Design, and I’ve written about their marvelous virtues previously.

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Currently I am obsessing, just a bit, over okinomiyaki…which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically (as far as I can tell) just a savory Japanese pancake. I think it usually always contains cabbage, but from there you can probably add whatever you like: shrimp, pork belly, chicken, sausage, squid…whatever. Or maybe shredded carrots and lots of green onions, if you don’t want to add any meat.

I see some people refer to it as “Japanese pizza”, but maybe that’s because it seems a bit like junk food? Or maybe because it’s a flat disk-like food with lots of toppings? Who knows!  Anyway, here’s a basic recipe for it, and it’s fairly easy to make. You mix a bunch of stuff together, fry it, throw some other stuff on top, and serve it.  Here’s a shopping list for the items that might present more of a challenge to locate, if you wanted to make it for dinner tonight: okonomiyaki kit // dashi // bonito flakes // kewpie mayo // okonomiyaki sauce

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How did this okonomiyaki obsession begin? Well, I blame it on Wakakozake, an anime I started watching last year. Shown in 2 minute episodes, it follows Murasaki Wakago, a 26 year old woman, who likes to go out to dinner or for a snack and a drink, every night after work. Somehow, they took that concept and turned it into a half an hour live action show (or maybe the animated short came second? I’m actually not sure.)

On the surface, it’s not very complex: our main character picks a restaurant or a bar, she orders something and eats it, musing on its delicious qualities all the while. Sort of like a food blog, I guess, but much less pretentious. Wakago can be silly and is a bit of a day-dreamer, and there’s such a lovely lack of artifice in her observations. Also, I loved what this reviewer had to say about it, and after reading this, I really did start to think about the many layers of Wakakgo’s reflections and interactions. And although, as the reviewer notes, the show barely scratches the surface of this way of thinking. It’s fascinating.

“I think one of the best things about this series is how it both introduces and scratches the surface of a side of Japanese thinking and approaching food that is very specific and methodical, yes, but even that touches on something that is very characteristic of traditional cultural aesthetic values in Japan – there is not only a right way to prepare food, but to eat food, and to evaluate, criticise and appreciate what is placed in front of one.”

Sometimes I will prepare dinner, and depending what sort of mood we are in, we will either have our meal at the dining room table, or sit in front of the tv and watch something. Lately, my response to the question of “what shall we watch?” is “I want to watch the lady eat!”
Nope, I’m not creepy or anything.

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Some more one-word reviews for you on films I have recently watched:

Sun Choke — maybe
Kwaidan — YES
Let Us Prey*  — yes
The Silenced* — yes
Rebirth — NOPE
Neon Demon — yes

*these titles can be found on netflix

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I just finished Jeff Vandermeer’s extraordinary Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Acceptance, & Authority), and now I’m at a bit of a loss and I don’t know what to do with myself–the perils of reading something so wondrous that you just don’t think anything else can measure up! The books tell of the mysterious, dangerous wilderness of Area X and the humans exploring it: several decades ago, an inexplicable environmental change occurred and a large swath of land and sea was sealed behind an invisible and largely impenetrable barrier. “Inside it, nature shifted. It grew wild and pristine, dense and fertile—improbably pure, as though nature had said “Enough!” and reclaimed itself.”  It’s an uncanny, and genuinely surprising read that haunted me for days and probably will continue to do so for a long time to come. With this series The New Yorker refers to Vandermeer as The Weird Thoreau, and …yeah, I totally see that.

Also read, to some degree of enjoyment or another:

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix — this was quite fun!
Consumed by David Cronenberg — didn’t love it, but glad I read it
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay — suspenseful and compelling.
Preacher Book One — well, I had to read this sooner or later
Sex Criminals Volume Three — still enjoying this, though the meta-narrative is getting tedious
Ghostie Boo by Kate Litterer — a book of poetry that I am still musing on. I am not so great with sussing out the meaning of or analyzing writing, especially with abstract writing like poetry. Often times I have to read reviews or interviews to get a perspective, and then return to the source and re-read. I am aware that in doing so, I might be unduly influenced by thoughts not my own, but sometimes, well, that’s the only way it works for me. I’m telling you this now because you should buy the book, read it, and then read this terrific interview of Kate Litterer by poet Sonya Vatomsky, who asks some thoughtful, illuminating questions.

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Currently smelling: the few offerings from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s The Art of the Unicorn collection. I have not yet made much headway, but I can tell you that De Vos’ Unicorn (sugared peony and rose-tinted vanilla with mallow, white musk, lavender buds, and a touch of apricot) smells like a brothel run by a flock of scrumptious marshmallow peeps. But like, peeps if…they weren’t purchased stale and on sale after Easter, but rather if some enterprising, over-achiever foodie made a bespoke, hand-crafted batch of peeps. After a few hours, the scent softens becomes very much like my beloved but sadly discontinued Antique Lace, so it is definitely going to be hoarded away.

Incidentally, did you know that the collective noun for unicorns is a “fondle” of unicorns? Well, according to Wondermark it is. I’d like to add that it’s no doubt a “glittering fondle of unicorns.”

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Interview & Giveaway with Aubrey Bramble, songstress, scenteur, and crystal-slinger.

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Isn’t a wonderful thing when you discover that someone you admire for one particular reason actually has another, previously unknown-to-you facet that is equally, fascinating?

Captivating songstress Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble is one half of the duo Golden Gardens, whose shimmering, shadowy sound I became aware of through my dear friend and ghost poet, Sonya Vatomsky. I can think of few greater pleasures than new music to obsess over! Few, that is…except for fragrance. And so you can imagine my surprise when I realized that Aubrey is also a crystal worker, an aromatherapist, and the proprietress of Swan Children Alchemy for which she creates and sells “Oil blends, crystal magic, and herbal wisdom for personal empowerment and maximum luminosity.”

Well, am I the grandchild of the world’s nosiest woman, or what? You know my interest was piqued to a fever pitch and of course I had tons of questions for Aubrey. She has graciously indulged my curiosity below, as well as generously offered a few of her scents for a giveaway here at Unquiet Things!  One winner will be chosen at random on September 23rd and will receive two fragrances listed below. To enter, just leave a comment about your current obsessions, or recommend to us something that you adore! Nothing to repost anywhere, and no, you don’t have to be following either of us on instagram, but I mean, why wouldn’t you want to? Well, just in case, here we are:

Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble @primaesq
Unquiet Things/S. Elizabeth @ghoulnextdoor

Red Room from the Twin Peaks Collection {Terror. Shadows. Doppelgängers. And a strange little dancing man. The scent of danger, unfiltered. Top notes: hallucinogenic incense smoke; Middle notes: motor oil, scorched wood; Base notes: tobacco ash, ambrette, murky forests}

The Morrigan from the Goddess Collection {A dark and mysterious forest calls to your inner crow through a deathly blend of dragon’s blood, juniper berry, black pepper, fir needle, patchouli, and sweet almond oil with an inky black onyx obelisk holding queenly court in the center of the vial.}

And now…tiptoe past the swan for my Q&A with Aubrey!

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You’re a self-professed perfume addict–I am curious about the fragrances you loved when you were younger, how your tastes have changed and evolved, and what scents you are obsessing over now.

The very first “fancy” fragrance I can remember falling in love with (and one that I just wore yesterday) was Cacharel’s “LouLou.” I remember my parents purchasing it for me on a cruise ship vacation we took when I was 11. A couple of years ago, it popped back into my mind after reading Luca Turin’s and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and I went on a mad search for it. I now wear it regularly and always get stopped by people wanting to know what I’m wearing. It’s so oddly sweet and dark and juicy and musky and intoxicating. It’s a gem.

As for the progression of my scent addiction over the years, it wasn’t always tasteful. I had an embarrassing spell of time when I wore “Exclamation!” in middle school and a peer-pressure-inspired “CK One” phase in high school (hard to type that without rolling my eyes). Luckily, post high school I seemed to be a little more mindful and discerning in my scent selections, though clearly there’s been a maturation over time. In college and directly after, I was obsessed with the original self-titled Anna Sui fragrance. The bottle and design just captured my little romantic goth heart! My early 20s were dominated by Givenchy’s “Hot Couture” and Hanae Mori’s “Butterfly.” My mid-twenties were all about “Lolita Lempicka” and Narciso Rodriguez’s “Her.” Later I became consumed by Tom Ford’s “Black Orchid: Voile de Fleur” and Fresh’s “Cannabis Santal” and “Cannabis Rose.” I’m probably still in my peak obsession phase; I currently have (and wear and love) Diptyque’s “Volutes” and “34,” Atelier Cologne’s “Orange Sanguine,” Fiele Fragrances’ “Viola,” Raw Spirit’s “Smoke,” Chanel’s “Sycomore” and “Coromandel,” Serge Lutens’ “Fille en Aiguilles,” and Santa Maria Novella’s “Gardenia.”

I tend to gravitate towards more woodsy, incense-y fragrances and super rich, dark florals. And I love strange combinations/unusual pairings of notes. I like to think of my perfume style as one part Josie Packard, one part Bjork, and one part Elizabeth Taylor – mysterious, avant-garde, decadent. My absolute favorite current perfume house is Byredo. I love and regularly wear their “Oud Immortel.” My number one signature scent of the moment is their “Black Saffron.”

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Your Twin Peaks inspired line of perfumes is such an intriguing idea! Tell us what was it about Twin Peaks that captured your imagination? Twenty five years later have you found anything else that measures up?

I remember being allowed to watch Twin Peaks when it first aired, when I was about 11 years old. (11 seems to be the magic age for this interview, huh?) It was just so completely imaginative and non-traditional. It mesmerized me, and began a lifelong David Lynch crush. I have yet to find anything that holds the intensity of magic in my heart that Twin Peaks does. I suppose being introduced to it at such a young and impressionable age has a little bit to do with the intensity of romanticism I give it, but I also think part of the magic of it all is the window of time it originally unfolded in – before that sort of adventurous programming was a regular occurrence, and before some of the more restrictive and bland/formulaic standards of modern media really dug into society. My line of Twin Peaks perfumes came about because I always found myself wondering what each of the characters smelled like, what certain environments reeked of, etc. It’s been a really fun project to explore, asking myself questions like, “Would Shelly with all that amazing spiral-curled 90s hair smell like mousse and curl spray?” Probably.

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If you could choose to bottle a scent right now capturing the essence of current artistic zeitgeist or inspired by a piece of 2016 pop culture, what do you think that might be?

I’d have to say what inspires me most about current events/current arts/the current evolution of humanity is the dissolution of and breaking free from the more restrictive and traditional ways society “expects” people to exist in the world. Despite the increased persecution and destruction and authoritarian control and trauma, people seem to be having these beautiful personal transformations in the way they express themselves both internally and externally. There seems to be a heightened commitment to authenticity and reclamation of individual power. I look at what is going on with the resurgence and rebirth of witchcraft, gender roles, self-expression, ways of earning a living. It’s really exhilarating and motivating and exciting. If I were to “bottle” that feeling or movement, I like to imagine it would be something incredibly animalistic and wild, something strangely juxtaposed and with an unmistakable presence. I immediately think of notes like aldehyde, vinyl, galbanum. Those notes that either turn you off or turn you on. It’d be a very cilantro fragrance haha.

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You mention the healing power and wisdom of stones and crystals with regard to your mystical education. I am wondering when you first noticed this deep connection and how did it develop? And personally, I am always interested in practical applications of metaphysical and psychic knowledge–I am wondering how you might utilize these philosophies and principles on a day-to-day basis?

I have always loved a pretty, sparkly crystal. My cousin used to bribe me with loose rhinestones that he told me were diamonds when i was really little, and of course I always took the bait. In my early teens I began to immerse myself in witchcraft and metaphysics, so that’s when my current connection to the magic of stones and crystals really began. What I love most about working with crystals and stones is that they are three-dimensional, physical tools – objects you can hold in your hand or place on your body and actually feel energy around. I regularly add whole crystals to my perfume/oil blends, or infuse them with a handcrafted gem essence, to add an element of vibrational magic to the potions. I wear crystals and stones as jewelry everyday, for specific intentions around energies I am trying to manifest, balance, be shielded from, increase, etc. I dream, journey, and meditate with crystals; I have conversations with them. If you intentionally tune in to the crystals and stones, they have a lot of information for you. Just sitting and holding one in your hand and asking it to share its magic with you can be pretty transformative and powerful. We all come from the Earth; sitting with a crystal is a beautiful way to reconnect with that energy.

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In addition to a perfumer, aromatherapist and crystal worker, you’re also a musician! Can you tell us as to how that came about?

I’ve always wanted to sing in a band. Always. All of my idols are dreamy vocalists (Kate Bush, Elizabeth Frasier, Harriet Wheeler, Julee Cruise). Lucky for me, my friend Gregg was looking to start a dreampop project a few years ago but was having trouble finding a singer. I asked if I could give it a try, and voila! Golden Gardens was born. We wrote one song, three more immediately followed, and within a month or so we had our first EP (Somnambulist). Now we’re working on album number three! I really love collaborating with Gregg – I feel like we are psychic music twins. We each have a very independent and unique way of working that – when combined in a final composition – creates a beautiful complexity of sound and harmony with a depth and intricacy all our own.

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Dark, lustrous, shimmering–these are just a few words to describe Golden Gardens’ shoegaze/dream pop sound, billed as mystical music for “ghosts and shadowy spectres.” What’s your inspiration for the forthcoming album, and would you say that your sound or tone has shifted with the new stuff? And if so, why the shift?

The new record “Reign” is all about dismantling the Patriarchy and reclaiming personal power. All of the songs were inspired by fierce female archetypes throughout mythology and history. It’s an invocation to the warrior queens and the enchantresses, the priestesses and the mystics – those parts of ourselves that the status quo works so hard to shame and contain and erase.

Our sound has definitely shifted over the years, but I feel like it’s been a slow, continuous shift. We were definitely more “shoegazey” when we first started, and these days our sound is decidedly more pop-oriented. But if you’ve listened to us from the beginning, or if you go through and listen to the releases in order, I think you can hear that progression unfold in a natural, intelligent way. No matter what genre we are playing with I think one thing is always consistent, and that’s our dark mood. Everything we create has a bit of a somber overglow, even the so-called happier songs. And I absolutely love that about us. Doom and gloom 4eva.

Jumping back in time a bit, I saw that you worked with Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall (!!!!) on a few projects; these are two wildly different musicians that I think I can say that I adore equally. Can you tell me what it was like working with them?Do you have any dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist musicians or artists that you would like to work with? Who are they, and why?

Before I moved to Seattle in 2009, I was living in Tampa, FL and writing for a regional arts and music publication which provided me the opportunity to talk to/work with some of my favorite artists and musicians. Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall were two of them. I got to interview Marissa a couple of times around the release of her album “Songs III,” and later create a music video for one of her earlier compositions, “Virginia.” (My background is in film and television.) She was always really lovely to interact with, and I’m so glad she’s become a more well-known musical name in recent years because her work is always fantastic. Meeting and working with Leslie was also pretty spectacular. She is a smart lady, that one.

As for dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist artists, from a musical perspective I would love to collaborate with Max Richter or Dirty Beaches. If I could convince Gregg Araki to direct a Golden Gardens music video that would be magic.

Tell me about the art/music scene in Seattle. Do you find it to be a relatively welcoming, supportive community? And is there anything good coming out of Seattle right now that we should know about? Also, if a kindred spirit, someone with similarly gothy inclinations wanted to visit your fair city (HINT: IT ME), what are some things that you’d recommend or suggest for them?

The Seattle art/music scene is very supportive. Or, rather, it’s very encouraging. I feel like the opportunities are endless here if you’re willing to do the work to make them happen. I feel very lucky to be in a place where I can make my art and have an audience for it, feel support from the community-at-large. That is definitely a gift. The journalists, the DJs, the promoters in this town are all art and music lovers (and many times artists and musicians themselves) which makes the “scene” even stronger in my opinion. It’s a very creative town.

There are so many great things coming out of Seattle it’s hard to select a few. I am definitely loving all of the local female, trans and non-binary magic being created in this town at the moment. And I do have to say we have our witchy wares on lock with so many rad local independent witch-owned businesses (do a quick #seattle search on IG or Etsy). As for a mini-list of local-gem specifics, everyone should read Sonya Vatomsky, listen to Belgian Fog, buy art from Kirk Damer and Heidi Estey, and gaze at anything made by Allyce Andrew.

If a kindred spirit was in Seattle for 24 hours, I’d recommend they hit the following spots: Gargoyles Statuary in the University District for gothy delights, The Cunning Crow Apothecary in Greenwood for witchy wares, The Belfry in Pioneer Square for all things undead, Essenza in Fremont for luxe perfume magic, Ballard Consignment for amaze vintage treasures, Sun Liquor Lounge on Capitol Hill for a decadent cocktail, Pony on Capitol Hill for Bloodlust and/or Hero Worship, Easy Street Records in West Seattle and Everyday Music on Capitol Hill for music finds, grocery shopping at Uwajimaya and book shopping at Kinokuniya in the International District, and you must visit the grave of Brandon Lee in Lake View Cemetery because, duh.

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Between ‘fuming and crystal slinging and singing and songwriting, what do you get up to in your spare time?

Witching, Netflix binging, black cat cuddles, skinnydipping in alpine lakes, being out in nature, cooking, reading everything by Dion Fortune, drinking mass quantities of La Croix, overfilling my social schedule, worrying about everything, buying $30 lipgloss, thrift shopping to find all the All That Jazz 90s dresses a girl can uncover.

I’m always curious as to what folks are currently into/digging on: are there any books/music/movies/television/whatevers that you’ve indulged in recently and that you would recommend to Unquiet Things readers?

Books: I read a lot of witchy reference books, too many to list; Essence and Alchemy – Mandy Aftel; The Magdalen Manuscript – Tom Kenyon; I am also finally getting around to reading The Mists of Avalon and I love it
Music: Been digging Samaris recently, also “Lost Boys” by Still Corners has been my jam this summer and even though it came out awhile ago I can never get enough of iamamiwhoi’s Blue album
Movies: The Neon Demon on repeat; Teen Witch always; The Sisterhood of Night; White Bird in a Blizzard
TV: Marcella, The Ascent of Woman, Stranger Things, Penny Dreadful, The Night Of, and The Great British Baking Show
Etc: I am currently obsessed with the weekly Pele Report by Kaypacha. Everyone should watch it. He’s on YouTube, you can look it up.

Thanks again, Aubrey, for your time and generosity. And darling readers–don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!

Occult Activity Book Volume Two Available For Preorder

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We are incredibly excited to share the final cover reveal for our greatly anticipated Occult Activity Book Volume Two. Both the book itself and the deluxe version featuring exclusive, spooky goodies are now available in the shop for pre-order!  

Brimming with all manner of completely new arcane arts and activities from our coven of brilliant contributors, the book will be ready to ship the first week in October…just in time for the *best* time of year!

Just a head’s up, friends, fiends, and phantoms – the first volume sold out completely in a very short period of time, so be sure to grab a copy while you can! Once it is gone, it is gone forever…

Between Fable and Reality: The Art of Darla Teagarden

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This autumn heralds some lovely changes, one of which is that I am now a staff writer over at Haute Macabre (where I had the pleasure to contribute previously as a guest blogger.) My inaugural offering in this new role: an interview with Darla Teagarden, a photographer and mixed-media artist whose brilliance and talent I have admired tremendously over the years.

Between Fable and Reality: The Art of Darla Teagarden

Limited Edition Pins from Wormwood & Rue

Marine Magic

Wormwood & Rue is the creative endeavor of Carisa Swenson, a lovely, long-time friend and the uncanny sculptress/stitchy mistress of GoblinFruit Studio. Carisa’s work strikes a balance between the odd and the endearing, the familiar and the fantastical–she creates some truly remarkable, utterly unique beasties and creatures, and I would populate my entire house with their strange little faces, if I could!

Earlier this summer I wrote of Wormwood and Rue’s inaugural series of enamel pins full of woodland magics–wise owls, earthy mushrooms and the mystical mandrake.

I am pleased to share her latest, limited edition series of extraordinary art pins, this time around with a focus on wondrous marine life magics, and featuring the Southern Blue-Ringed Octopus and Chambered Nautilus.

Between the wonderful designs, the vivid, vibrant colors, and the luxurious feel of their weights in your palm (they’ve got a serious bit of heft to them!) these little works of art are incredibly special, and obviously created with a great deal of care and intention. Even the backing on which the pins are affixed is decorated with beautiful ocean flora illustrations! And if you flip them over, you will find some interesting data on these fascinating creatures…

“… providing some facts or fun info on the creatures I’m illustrating/creating is part of my desire to educate people about the wildlife that we share the planet with”, Carisa thoughtfully shared with me.

These pins are each a limited run of 100, with the opportunity to purchase each charming cephopod individually, or as a set (which saves you $2)! Click on the creatures below to be whisked away to the Wormwood & Rue site, where you can both purchase something quite exceptional and support a fantastic artist as well.

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A Mint-Haters Guide To Non-Minty Lip Products

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I tried to come up with a pithy title for this post, but I couldn’t make it work.

No doubt you have read my thoughts on mint scented/mint flavored beauty products previously, but if not, I will sum up for you: there is a special place in hell reserved for them.

There is nothing I find more galling that to have paid good money for a beautiful lipstick or soothing lip balm or what have you, only to ease off the lid and be greeted by the repugnant odor of peppermint or, (worse), spearmint [EDIT: or even worse–wintergreen!]. These odors remind me of chewing gum (which is the most disgusting thing of all time, ever) and the dentist office (an association for which I don’t think I need to justify my dislike).

Though most people associate the smell of mint with adjectives such as “cool” or “fresh”, I find it nauseatingly antiseptic, clean and pure to the point of parody, where it’s almost a mockery of the associations it’s supposed to conjure forth, where it somehow loops around and becomes vulgar and tacky.  I’d almost rather smell rotting garbage or poopy diapers, to be honest.

14156601_673154089518253_883477789_nI started thinking about all of this when I finally gave in and bought one of the Lip Tars that everyone seems to adore from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. I’d been on the fence about it for awhile; I mean, just the name itself, “Lip Tar”, brought up unsavory imagery for me: a gooey, glunky product that would sit on my lips and annoyingly ensnare stray hairs. But I thought, well, I’ll just give it a try.

And I knew just from twisting the cap off, before I’d even slid the wand out of the tube, that it just wasn’t gonna work. A smell wafted forth and struck me full in the face, an odor not unlike my worst nightmare, which is to say that it smelled like being trapped in close quarters with someone chewing and smacking on their gum, and they won’t stop talking to me, not even for one second.

Another one which recently broke my heart this past year are the liquid lipsticks from Nero Cosmetics. Miss Argentina and Gold Dust Woman are such stunning shades, but alas, I cannot handle their foul stench.

Are you like me? Can you just not even with the mint scented/flavored things? Do you hesitate before purchasing a lipstick/gloss/balm because it’s kind of a crap shoot and you just don’t know if it’s going to be pleasantly fragranced or if you’re going to wind up with a toothpaste-scented piece of garbage?

Well, I hear you. It’s an unfriendly world out there for us in the us mint-hating minority.  And so beneath this image of my weird, staring eyes and blue-lipped crone kisses you will find that I have compiled for you a list of brands that I have recently tried and found to be free of the mentholated menace. If there is anything you think that I am missing or that I should try, let me know in the comments!

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Note: don’t expect in depth reviews on these products. It is not my aim to be a beauty blogger! When possible, I have included links to photos of yours truly wearing these colors, although I get a little nuts with the Instagram filters so they might not be totally true to life. Also note, I know everyone hates Jeffree Star right now, and to a lesser extent I realize that Lime Crime is problematic for certain people. I am including them because I have tried them and they fit into this non-mint category; but yes, I am also aware of the issues surrounding them.

💄 L.A. Splash Lip Couture – Favorite color: “OG Ghoulish” (grey/nude); a liquid lipstick that smells aggressively like nailpolish remover. At least it’s not mint! Also, this stuff will not budge; you need a sandblaster to remove it.
💄 Necromancy Cosmetica Matte Lipstick – Favorite color: “Deadly Nightshade” (light grey with soft blue undertones/as worn by me). A tube lipstick that smells vaguely of crayons.
💄 LimeCrime Velveteen – Favorite color “Cashmere” (greige). A liquid lipstick that smells of sickly sweet butter creme frosting.
💄 Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick -The only color I have tried is “Unicorn Blood” (dark, rusty red/as worn by me), and I really don’t love it on me. I don’t love the formula either, it’s really quite soupy and drippy. It smells of acrid, acidic fruit candies.
💄 Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick -Favorite color: “Ayesha” (pinky lavender/as worn by me). I think, even after everything I have tried, KvD’s will always be my favorite. It’s unfragranced as far as I can tell (though other folks say otherwise), the formula never gets gross and crusty throughout the day, and it’s not *too* much of a hassle to wash off. Second favorite color: “A-Go-Go” (bright orange red)
💄 Ofra Long Lasting Liquid Lipsticks – Favorite color: “Purple Rain” (pearly deep purple/as worn by me). Many folks comment on how good these smell, but I don’t get that at all. The few I have tried have a mild, chemical smell. The colors are gorgeous and there’s usually a coupon code floating around at all times for this brand.
💄 Black Moon Cosmetics Liquid Lipsticks – Favorite color: “Grim” (cool toned brown). I love the packaging from this brand and the product itself smells plastic-y and a little sweet, sort of like the top of one of your old Strawberry Shortcake doll’s heads.
💄 Lipland Liquid Lipstick -Favorite color: “Retrograde” (purple grey/as worn by me). Several folks say this this shade is similar to MAC’s stone, but I can’t personally confirm that. Like Ofra, the smell is vaguely chemical (it reminds me of synthetic fibers, like warm polyester, I guess?)
💄 DNA Cosmetics Intense Pop of Color Lipstick – The only color I have tried from DNA is “Disco” (silver grey/as worn by me). I recall thinking that the formula wasn’t very …slippy? It was kind of dry, and it had a lot of drag to it.  Smelled waxy. But I really dig the ghastly grey blue, and it doesn’t smell like mint, so it remains in rotation.
💄 Colourpop Lippie Stix – As much as I loathe the name (which is super dumb), I do love the Lippie Stix. They smell exactly like crayons–which is totally okay with me– and at $5 each they are relatively cheap in comparison to the rest of the stuff on this list. They have a million colors and though I don’t find the formula to be very long wearing, well, I don’t fault it much for that. I mean, you get what you pay for, right? Favorite color: “Tootsi” (described as a cool-toned grey beige, but it seems pretty warm toned on me) Bonus: they have matching lip liners (“Lippie Pencils“) for every shade they sell, and “Marshmallow” is a greyed out lavender that matches just about everything I am into lately.
💄 Rituel de Fille Forbidden Lipstick – Favorite color: “Strange Creature” (cool, silvery grey). There is not much I don’t love about this brand.  I believe it’s run by three sisters, which of course I find powerfully compelling, and their aesthetic is absolutely gorgeous, full of magic and mystery. Their Forbidden Lipstick smells waxy and faintly herbaceous. Lavender, perhaps? Exactly like how you’d want something that looks like this to smell. Tip: “Strange Creature” goes very nicely with ColourPop’s Lippie Pencil in “Marshmallow”!
💄 Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick – Favorite color: “Lavender Jam” (electric blue-violet). I’ve saved the weirdest for last with this one. This is a beautifully creamy formula, and I really love this stunning color, but the strange thing is, sometimes this smells a little minty to me, just for a split-second. But as soon as I catch notice of it, it immediately morphs into scent of a lime freezee pop. Odd! However, there is no mint listed in the ingredients anywhere, and the so allow it to remain on the list.

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