Is it just me, or did July come and go at the speed of light? I hardly recognized it was July before it was over! I don’t even know what happened there! Well, I guess I do. A lot happened in July. We enjoyed and cherished the blessing of priceless moments with family, friends, and our new kitty, Nenette, but I’m glad to take this moment to dwell on the Little Things that helped to make the month awesome.
Jumping right in…
1). Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (novels by Stephen King)
How did the existence of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes escape me for a whole year? Finders Keepers came to my attention when it became available this summer, but it wasn’t until then that I learned about Mr. Mercedes, which precedes Finders Keepers. On the up side, discovering the two books at the same time meant that I got to indulge in some delicious Stephen King binge reading. I heartily enjoyed the stories and characters in these novels, along with the technical surprises of them… they’re more thriller than horror, and King’s writing style departs from his usual, as well… but they’re not lacking in his usual flair. No matter how he writes, I’m always left wanting more. Such is the genius of Stephen King.
2). Southpaw (film)
Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in this film is brilliant. It’s exciting to think that his superb portrayal of boxer Billy Hope, a role of a sort he’s never taken on before, might lead to an even broader selection of projects. He had nothing to prove in the first place, but now that we know he’s solid action flick material, we hope to see him turn up in more places we wouldn’t have expected.
3). The Body Shop’s Honeymania (fragrance).
When I made the commitment to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, I started experimenting with fragrances from The Body Shop. You know I love their beautiful Madagascar Vanilla scent, but I found that I’m even more enamored with Honeymania. On me, this fragrance works better than the former in terms of staying power and sillage, and it’s gorgeous, presenting, with my particular chemistry, like wildflowers with a subtle note of honey underneath. Other people love it when they smell it on me, too, which is always a good thing! I keep the body butter on my desk at work so my friends there can enjoy it, too.
4). Alba Botanica Very Emollient sunless tanner.
This pic is supposed to show how the color from Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient sunless tanner develops on my legs, the only place I put the stuff. I’m aware that my legs still look pale. That’s because they’re very pale in their natural state! Like many mixed chicks, I’m two-toned, with varying shades and textures of skin on different body parts. My face and legs are pale with thin skin that burns rather than tans, while the skin on my neck, arms, torso and back is thicker and tans easily. Every summer, my neck and arms turn brown no matter what I do, so I like to do a little self-tanning on my legs just to even things out a bit.
I like the way this cruelty-free sunless tanner works, but my favorite thing about it is the surprising way that it smells. Inexplicably… this is a self-tanning lotion we’re talking about, remember… this product smells like a scrumptious, baked treat. Callaghan and I have been trying to identify it, and it’s been driving us crazy, as we can’t quite figure it out. It’s a familiar scent, kind of buttery and caramelesque, but… not quite. It’s a mystery. It’s awesome.
5). Naturtint Naturally Better permanent hair color in 5G (Light Golden Chestnut).
Here’s another cruelty-free product that, because of what it is, has no business wafting a delicious food scent into your nostrils. This hair color actually smells like anise! This is a permanent hair dye. It smells like anise, not like chemicals. Amazing! The shade I use is beautiful, too. The color comes out rich and multi-dimensional, and it lasts longer than the product I was using before. Like the Honeymania fragrance, others have noticed; I’ve never received compliments on my hair color before I started using this one. In every respect, this hair color is superior to any I’ve ever used… and I never would have found it had I not gone cruelty-free.
6). Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask.
I’m missing my beloved Epielle sheet masks much less now, thanks to this product from Freeman. My explorations into the realm of cruelty-free facial masks led me to their Golden Grain Brightening Mask, which is unlike anything I’ve used before.
Formulated with vitamin C to brighten the skin and even out discoloration, the product comes out of the tube looking and feeling like clear hair gel. I eyed it warily at first, but there’s nothing even remotely unpleasant about it. The mask spreads over your skin like watery silk, not the slightest bit sticky. It’s good for dry skin, but it’s not oily or greasy. It’s thick, but it goes on feeling hydrating. If water came in gel form, it would be like this. I love its fresh, clean herbal scent, too, which is just as important!
I leave the mask on five minutes longer than recommended, and it never feels tight, dry or otherwise uncomfortable. The entire experience of this mask is pleasant and relaxing. I use it interchangeably with Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask, which is more like your traditional clay mask. I’ve said that I’d never go back to masks that harden on your skin and require work to remove, but my skin likes a variety of masks (when I was using the Epielle sheet masks, I alternated between four different formulas), so I re-thought that when I began my cruelty-free adventure. The Dead Sea Minerals mask by Freeman is a great one, as well.
Now that I’ve talked about products that smell like food… fragrance that smells of honey, self-tanning lotion that smells of a buttery-sweet dessert, and hair color that smells of anise… let’s talk about actual food!
It appears that I have a tendency to find things I love and then proceed to eat them to excess all month long. This probably isn’t the best idea, especially when the food in question tends to give me digestive issues! I’ve always had a mild sensitivity to cherries, but they’re my favorite fruit, so I eat them with abandon when they’re in season, regardless. I ate tons of cherries in July and didn’t regret a single one.
8). Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.
This is my all-time favorite dish, and it so happened that I married the person who makes it the best, in my opinion! Callaghan’s pasta with garlic and olive oil is sublime. Of course, I grind more sea salt onto my plate than anyone should eat in a sitting, probably, but I love this dish on the saltier side. There’s just something about the combination of garlic and salt. We like to eat the pasta first and then distribute the minced garlic and olive oil (left at the bottom of the pasta bowls) over toasted whole wheat bread spread with Earth Balance. Fantastic garlic bread!
We eat this year-round – it’s one of our staple meals – but we went a little crazy with it in July. We started out the month with four pounds of whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry, and by the end of the month, we’d eaten it all. We’ll never get tired of it.
9). Sprouts’ Vegan Super Fruit muffins.
We found these muffins in Sprouts’ bakery, and we enjoyed them all through July. These are not your standard, oversized muffins, bloated with sugar and bad fats. These are delicious and just perfect. They’re large, but not two-servings huge, and they’re light and not too sweet. The fruit in them balances the flavor with a nice tang. I wish Sprouts existed outside of Arizona so you could all try them!
ETA: I just checked their web site and saw that new locations are coming to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia! Sprouts is finally branching out of the Land of AZ. Move over, Whole Paycheck!
10). Clif bar in Nuts & Seeds.
Like the muffins, the new Nuts & Seeds Clif bar isn’t as sweet as you’d expect. I still love their Sierra Trail Mix bar, but this one’s my new favorite! I usually enjoy half a bar as weekday workout fuel. You can’t go wrong with a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.
That’s it for July’s Little Things… my list for August is already filling up, and we’re only three days into it!