No faster month. (October Favorites!)

This post is going to go as quickly as October. Shenanigans of all flavors abound! So I’m here once again to drop my favorites (of late) in mindless entertainment, vegan junk food, and  a couple of cruelty-free products, because it’s the little things that brighten our little worlds.

To sum up, October was an awesomely creeptastic month, made even better with a bonus good house guest. There’s a lot to be said about good house guests!

Let’s get right into it.

 

1). Bad Times at the El Royale (film)

 

 

We actually found ourselves in the movie theater not zero, not once, but twice in October!

We went to see Bad Times at the El Royale, in which it’s confirmed that Jeff Bridges is more than just The Dude, Jon Hamm is more than just Don Draper, and Chris Hemsworth is more than just a pretty face. Also, Quentin Tarantino isn’t the only one who can pull off a film like this. Good times, not bad times.

 

2). Halloween (2018) (film)

 

 

We also (surprise!) went to see Halloween (2018). If I’m not mistaken, this was the first Halloween film I’ve had the pleasure of catching in a theater. Halloween is my favorite classic horror flick of the slasher variety, so this was a treat. It was like that time I saw AC/DC live after enjoying their music for three decades. At long last, it happened… and it was worth it. Little things, right?

 

3). The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

 

 

The Haunting of Hill House: not only the scariest T.V. series we’ve ever seen, but maybe the scariest anything we’ve ever seen on a screen… especially as far as the ghosts. The ghosts of Hill House aren’t cheesy. They often appear casually and without warning, so there’s little in the way of cheap jump-scares. The series is psychologically dense and gorgeous in its visual elements. With an emphasis heavy on the family drama, you sometimes forget that you’re watching a work of horror, which heightens its chilling effect. Basically, if This is Us had a horror genre sister, it would be The Haunting of Hill House.

 

4). Lore (Amazon Prime original series)

 

 

Lore is Amazon Prime’s original horror documentary series. With each episode devoted to a horrific episode in history, Lore amounts to a collection of informative creative nonfiction short stories, each compelling in its production. We’ve enjoyed season 2’s story-telling even more than season one’s. We have two episodes left to go!

 

5). MHz Choice (streaming channel).

 

 

We finished all the Engrenages available on Hulu. Knowing that there was another season (the latest), we went online and did a mad search. How and where could we watch the most recent season of one of our favorite French series? We stumbled upon MHz Choice and added it to our Roku immediately. This is a channel that offers (I believe) international series and films exclusively.

 

6). Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate).

 

Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate)

 

Another month, another favorite protein/energy bar. It seems that way, doesn’t it? As with the last few months’, the Olly bar is vegan and gluten-free. At one time not long ago it would have been too sweet for me, but thanks to last month’s Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar discovery, my taste has now gotten accustomed to the fake sweetness of such bars. I’m okay with it. I really like this bar. The Olly bar is actually a cookie, rounded and dense, with a nutritional profile that surpasses that of the KIND breakfast bars I’d listed a couple of months ago (which I still enjoy). I should also add that so far, I only like the peanut butter flavor; I tried out the chocolate coconut Olly bar and loathed it. That’s just me… to each their own.

 

7). Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative.

 

Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative

 

I’ve probably talked about this stuff before, but I rediscovered it in October, and I’m still heavy on the kick. Follow Your Heart found a way to replicate shredded fresh Parmesan cheese using plant-based ingredients, and it’s delicious. Lactose intolerant and vegan friends, rejoice!

 

8). Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy).

 

Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy)

 

This is for sure a “favorites” list repeat; I listed it the first time two years ago. The processed-all-to-hell delicacy managed to vanish shortly thereafter. I was thrilled to find it again in October, cleverly disguised in new packaging. It’s the same as it was… it’s just as delicious, just as spicy, just as vegan, and just as inedible by Callaghan (too spicy-hot for his tolerance level). More for me! Heheh.

 

9). Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes.

 

Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes

 

The thing about posting a skincare regime post is that I change up my routine frequently, so whatever I’m doing when I post about it usually isn’t exactly what I’m doing several months later. In October, I started using these cleansing wipes in the morning in lieu of washing/exfoliating my face. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped using water on my face twice a day. I haven’t noticed any adverse effects so far, and I’ve been liking the way the change has simplified my morning routine. These wipes work well for this purpose! They’re full of good stuff. My skin likes them.

 

10). e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette (Berry Bliss).

 

e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette Berry Bliss

 

The bloody kisses lip look I wore in October came from this cruelty-free and vegan palette… I layered the darkest shade over the red shade (third from the right). I love the creamy smoothness of this product. It applies easily, wears well, and feels comfortable. e.l.f. has done it again.

 

There we have it for now… we’re less than a week into November, and I already have a few favorites on deck! Spoiler alert: it’s garage gym season and it’s a sumo month and a few of my favorite MMA fighters are on next week’s UFC card. (Crossing fingers that everyone makes weight and stays on the card.) A solid combat sports month is underway. Let the good times roll, as they say.

 

The End.

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I had one foot in October before the month ended, though. (September Favorites!)

I’m excited about this monthly (September) favorites list, because I’ve got some new stuff for you… “new” as in different than the usual TALC monthly favorites fare.

(Incidentally, I’m also excited to post this list because that means it’s OCTOBER, the most creeptastic month of the year.)

The list is still mostly comprised of T.V. series and movies and food, but I’m also including some short YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure.

These videos make great procrastination material. For me, it’s more than gratuitous time-suckage. It’s brain-cleansing, and it’s actually serious business: when my head’s been submerged in the worlds of my creative endeavors, it’s good to clear it out and forget that on which I’d been focused. This allows me to return to those worlds with fresh eyes. I can then see clearly what oversaturation had concealed.

My recent – and current – tool of choice for brain-cleansing is YouTube. I need simple escapism into the creative worlds of others. My favorite YouTube videos of late are short horror films and videos of this one guy fabricating sharp kitchen knives out of materials such as tin foil, underwear, and jello.

You’ll see. I’ve provided a few of the videos. You can click to watch them right here! Down the rabbit hole with you, too.

Let’s get on with it!

 

1). Searching (film)

 

 

We went to the theater to see this one. Searching is a different sort of thriller, and a different sort of film in the “found footage” genre. What the audience sees on the screen is a movie entirely shown on other screens – computer screens, phones, televisions, surveillance videos, etc. It makes for some solid and unique entertainment regardless of the film’s other merits (or lack thereof). As well, I love a good mystery/thriller.

 

2). Ozark (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

An intense, atmospheric, dark drama/thriller, this Netflix original series is a work of art about which I cannot say enough. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are superb in their roles – Bateman more than I’d ever seen him in any role, and Linney as per usual. Julia Garner’s performance confirms what we suspected when we saw her in The Americans: she’s an artist with a formidable future. Ozark wants you to binge-watch it, and it’s hard to resist if you have the luxury of time. Breaking Bad fans, here’s your fix.

 

3). American Horror Story: Apocalypse (S8) (TV – FX)

 

 

What can I say? AHS is back, and it’s more twisted than ever… and that’s already saying a lot. Thanks to its mid-September release date, October’s coming in on a delightfully disturbing note. I love it.

 

4). Horror short films (YouTube)

YouTube rabbit hole number one: short horror movies. You’ll run into all the horror movie tropes you expect: jump scares, white dresses, cheesy demons and monsters, tripping and falling while running away, doors that close and then won’t open, gratuitous gore, characters who make maddeningly stupid decisions, etc. I find, though, that these transgressions are often more forgivable in a film that’s less than 15 minutes long. Besides, thanks to their short duration, I know pretty quickly whether I should move on. If I make it through the whole thing and end up not liking it, I only wasted a few minutes of my life compared to two hours wasted during a full-length horror flick that never got better. When these short movies are good, they deliver what you want in horror. They’re tense and tightly-wound because they get straight to the point. Many of them are silent films in that there’s little to no dialogue, which can add to their creepiness. The whole spectrum of the horror genre can be found across the hundreds of these films on YouTube… and they’re free.

Two examples:

 

 

 

 

5). Luna Bar (Blueberry Bliss).

 

Luna Bar Blueberry Bliss

 

I wasn’t sure whether I’d include this bar on my list. It’s too sweet for my taste, but I really like its thin layer of blueberry jam. Moreover, after two test runs, I determined that this bar gets me through a Body Pump workout if for any reason I can’t have a normal breakfast. I guess it’s on the list because of the blueberry jam part and the instant fuel part. If you like blueberries and instant fuel, you might like these.

 

6). Nori – specifically, Kirkland Signature Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack.

 

Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack (aka nori)

 

First off, I should say that I have a cousin to thank for my return to eating nori straight out of the bag. Like all Japanese-Americans (with family rooted in Hawaii) I know, I grew up eating this stuff. Mom used to send me this Korean version from Costco, but it’d been a while as I’d turned my salty snack attention elsewhere. I’m back!

These have no nutritional value, but they don’t contain anything detrimental, either. They’re organic and devoid of chemicals. Eating this nori is like eating air. Crispy, salty, seaweedy air.

 

7). Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (plain).

 

Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (soy, plain)

 

I cycle through yogurt phases, and I’ve been in one since September. This time, it’s this soy yogurt by Silk. I prefer the plain version because it’s the least sweet, but I often top it with granola (see below), which is sweeter. It’s a great combination, though. I love the thick creaminess of this yogurt.

 

8). Bear Naked Granola (V’nilla Almond).

 

Bear Naked Granola V’nilla Almond

 

This lightly sweetened granola is fabulous on the plain Silk soy yogurt. That’s why it’s on this list.

 

9). NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring).

 

NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring)

 

Remember the NYX butter gloss lip (in Ginger Snap) on my July list? This lip liner goes perfectly with it. Just thought I’d share!

 

10). kiwami japan (YouTube channel)

Rabbit hole number two: THIS GUY. This enormously talented guy. This guy can make a knife out of anything. (If you know me, you know that I love knives.) His YouTube channel is called “kiwami japan,” and his videos are awesome, fascinating, and entertaining. I feel obliged to show you a couple of them.

 

Making a knife out of underwear:

 

Making a knife out of tin foil:

 

The End, and have fun.

 

 

So we waited. (August Favorites!)

Hello, my friends. I don’t know about you, but this week has wrung me out in pretty much every way. I’m glad to be here talking to you for the second time this week – that means it’s Thursday, aka Friday Eve, aka within sight of the decompression zone. As a writer, I work at home on and off 24/7, but the weekend is still the weekend in that I usually have nothing obligatory going on.

Are we ready for some monthly favorites now that we’ve arrived at the second week of September? This time around, I present a movie, three T.V. series (one American, two French), a breakfast bar, a pasta, and three Pacifica products (all vegan and cruelty-free).

Also, I’m including my favorite person-discovery of the month, as I did last month with Karl the Fog on Twitter. I’m thinking I want to make this a mainstay of my “favorites” lists. If I stumble upon a personality that captures my interest, why not share, right?

Okay, then… let’s get into these delightful “little things” that came to my attention in August. Some of them I may have known in the past, but if they’re just now on the list, that means I’ve really gotten into them.

Ahem…

 

1). BlackKklansman (film)

 

 

Our date nights are few and far between these days – to the point where a “movie in a movie theater at night” is a big event. (We go to the movies infrequently as it is, and we almost always prefer to go in the mornings or afternoons to catch a matinee.) Thus, it’s a huge plus if we really, actually like the movie we choose on these rare evening occasions!

We had such a date night in August, I’m happy to say. We went down to Alamo Drafthouse to watch the dramedy BlackKklansman, and we were not disappointed.

(Also, when Denzel’s son opens his mouth, he sounds almost exactly like Denzel, in my opinion. He inherited his father’s talent, too.)

You might also enjoy this film telling the true story of a black cop who, with the help of a Jewish cop, manages to join the KKK. Dramedy, as I said.

 

2). Better Call Saul (TV-14 AMC)

 

 

Better Call Saul is back for season 4, and we’re all in!

 

3). Les Témoins (Netflix)

 

 

We continue to find and plow through French T.V. series on our streaming services. Netflix International is a beautiful thing.

 

4). Engrenages (Netflix)

 

 

We’d just started watching this French series when Netflix dropped Ozark season 2. We’ll see you on the flip side, Engrenages! (You can just assume that you’ll see Ozark on my September Favorites list.) In all seriousness, though, Engrenages looks to be unfolding in promising ways.

 

5). KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar.

 

KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar

 

My fellow Americans: this breakfast bar tastes like Nutter Butter Peanut Butter cookies, and I felt that it was my duty to bring it to your attention. The bars contain more sugar than I like to eat, but I don’t eat them every day, and their macronutrient panel looks good. It’s only vegan-friendly if you’re a honey-eating vegan, though. (I’m a mostly non-honey-eating vegan. There are exceptions. Like these bars.)

 

6). Delverde Wholewheat Organic pasta.

 

 

Pasta is my favorite food. Since I discovered Delverde’s whole wheat pastas, I’ve been eating it nearly every day… that’s no exaggeration. Also, I eat more than the serving size (kind of a lot more). I will never willingly go back to any other brand of pasta if I can get my hands on this one. I’m not sure how Delverde manages to make their pastas so exceptional, especially since they contain only the same two ingredients as many pastas: 100% organic whole durum (wheat) semolina and water. However they do it, this is the pasta.

 

7). Pacifica Coconut Milk & Essential Oils Underarm Deodorant Wipes.

 

Pacifica Coconut Milk & Essential Oils Underarm Deodorant Wipes

 

You know those mornings you go to the gym and you didn’t break that much of a sweat and life happens and you don’t make it into the shower but you can wash your face and freshen up a little? Pacifica has changed the “freshen up a little” game with these underarm deodorant wipes. They’re inexplicably effective. They cleanse and refresh, and they can actually take the place of deodorant. I can’t explain it. Just try it.

 

8). Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask.

 

Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask

 

Acure DISCONTINUED my holy grail overnight mask, so in August – after I used up the last of my Wonderfluff stockpile – I went on the hunt for another one. I ended up a fan of Pacifica’s Wake Up Beautiful Mask. I say “end up” because I didn’t like it at first. I tried it, didn’t like its scent, decided it was awful, and exiled it to my box of Women’s Shelter donations. After failing to find a cruelty-free overnight mask that worked for me, I gave Pacifica’s another try. For some reason, it didn’t bother me at all the second time. I love it.

 

9). Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream.

 

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

 

For make-up, I’ve been wearing this wonderful preparation on my face instead of foundation. I used to only use BB creams; I don’t know what happened to that. I got away from it somehow. Now I’m back, because this one from Pacifica is amazing.

 

10). Ask a Mortician (YouTube channel).

 

Meet my favorite internet-person find of the month: mortician Caitlin Doughty, whose YouTube channel “Ask a Mortician” has become somewhat of an obsession of mine.

Be careful when you click on her videos, though… remember that what has been heard cannot be unheard. I watched her “Ask a Mortician – Worst Way to Die?” video, and I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.

Caitlin has authored several books, and she also runs The Order of the Good Death, whose website also has serious rabbit-hole potential. If you’re as fascinated with death, the macabre, and the funeral industry as I am, you’re going to love this woman. If you’re not, you may still love Caitlin and her videos. She’s awesome. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll realize that there is, in fact, a need for death-acceptance (and the re-thinking of death, in general) in western society. Did you know that there are Death Doulas? I didn’t. I’m glad that I know it now!

 

All I can say to wrap up this post is “The End.” I’m out of time over here! Have a great weekend, All.

 

 

Bah Ouais. (July Favorites!)

July, then! In (sweeping) summary, I finished writing my book, we went out of town, and we spent most of our entertainment hours over the month watching French-language T.V. series – we found a few great ones on Netflix, and I’m sure we’ll find some on Hulu and Prime Video, as well. We’ve still got a few in our Netflix queue before we move on.

I should have mentioned in my last “Monthly Favorites” that I’ve changed up my format for these posts, namely in the interest of streamlining them: 1. I’m now specifying where we watched the series mentioned, 2. I’m including less in the way of commentary, and 3. for the food and products listed, I’m linking to the items and using pics from their websites (rather than taking my own… this way you can see the item clearly, packaging and all).

For the movies/series, especially, I’ll try to keep my commentary brief. I may not write anything at all. If it’s on my “Favorites” list, it’s because I enjoyed it!

[ETA: I corrected the typo of “100%” – thank you, sharp reader!]

 

1). La Forêt (Netflix series)

 

 

(Crime drama set in an appropriately dark and beautiful forest on the Belgian side of the France/Belgium Ardennes.)

 

2). La Trêve (Netflix series)

 

 

La Trêve – our favorite of the French crime drama/thriller/mystery series we’ve watched so far.

 

3). Dix Pour Cent (Netflix series)

 

 

I’m not sure why the title “Dix Pour Cent” (“10%”) got turned into “Call My Agent!” – whatever the case, this is a fun series. It makes for a good change of pace, too. It’s good to mix some humor into our dark and sinister crime dramas.

 

4). Les grandes Grandes Vacances (Netflix series)

 

 

We’re still working our way through this excellent animated series. The simplistic art of Les grandes Grandes Vacances lends the production an innocence and charm that’s perfectly fitting, but remember that WWII through the eyes of children in the (occupied) French countryside can be nothing but heartbreaking.

 

5). GoMacro Macrobar (Everlasting Joy: coconut + almond butter + chocolate chips).

 

GoMacro Macrobar (Everlasting Joy: coconut, almond butter, chocolate chips)

 

These bars! I’m totally into these. They probably contain more sugar than I’d like to be eating, but their nutritional panel looks good, overall, and I love the bar’s chewy coconut base. Supply is low wherever I find these, so I always do the courteous consumer thing and snap up what’s left. “First come, first serve,” right? I would order them online, but ordering anything with chocolate chips in the Arizona heat usually doesn’t end well. I may start ordering them online once the weather cools down.

 

6). Sprouts Organic Vegan Pesto.

 

Sprouts Basil Vegan Pesto

 

I know… I listed Trader Joe’s vegan pesto just last month. We still enjoy that one, but we’ve now discovered Sprouts’ vegan pesto, and I have to say that it’s my favorite of the favorites.

 

7). Acure Brilliantly Brightening Day Cream.

 

Acure Brilliantly Brightening Day Cream

 

I was almost-but-not-quite at the bottom of my day cream jar when the remaining product developed an odor. I used it one more day before throwing it out. Needless to say, I went looking for yet another day cream. This one by Acure seems to be good! If I enjoy it all the way to the end, I’ll re-purchase it.

 

8). The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel.

 

The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel

 

I used up the last of the Frosted Plum shower gel I’d purchased during The Body Shop’s Black Friday sale. It’d become my favorite – to me, the strongest note in its fragrance was pine, and I love the scent of pine. The Body Shop tells me that it’s unlikely they’ll bring back that particular holiday/limited edition. I had to find a replacement. I went for their Pink Grapefruit shower gel, and to my surprise and delight, it’s also redolent of pine! It could just be my nose, but I’m picking up the bitterness of the grapefruit as an evergreen bite.

 

9). Flower Beauty Sheer Up Lip Tint (Airy Orchid).

 

Flower Beauty Sheer Up Lip Tint (Airy Orchid)

 

The first thing I look for in a pigmented lip product is a cool undertone. I love this berry shade from Drew Barrymore’s cosmetics line. The lip tint is moisturizing, too… it feels good to wear.

 

10). NYX Butter Gloss (Ginger Snap).

 

NYX Butter Gloss (Ginger Snap)

 

This is a nice formula for a pigmented gloss, and the ginger snap shade is a good, neutral brown that’s just dark enough. It’s hard to find a brown without orange undertones. I like a brown with a plum undertone, but if I want to wear a brown gloss, it’s nice to have one with no undertone at all. I like the way the sheer effect of this one brings out the natural color of my lips.

Also, this shade brings back the 90’s. Love it.

 

That’s it for July! I hope you all enjoyed a great month.

 

 

 

And now we’re raining. (June Favorites!)

Just like that, we’re monsooning here in the Land of AZ. I don’t know what happened, but this time of year arrived quickly. I’m into it. I shouldn’t blink. Summer storms in the desert are magical, and our monsoon seasons seem to be getting shorter and less… just less. It’s been years since I’ve seen dumpsters rolling across the street, I’ll put it that way.

Just as quick, here’s my “favorite little things” list for June. Yes, that June. That weird and wonderful black hole of a month.

 

1). Hereditary (horror film)

 

 

2). Thor: Ragnarok AND Avengers: Infinity War (superhero films)

 

 

 

3). Goliath (Amazon Prime drama series)

 

 

Three words about this excellent original Amazon Prime dramatic series: Billy Bob Thornton. Also, William Hurt as Billy Bob’s nemesis. If you love a good legal/suspense drama and you’ve been looking for an excuse to sign up for a Prime free trial, this is it.

 

4). La Casa de Papel, aka Money Heist (Netflix crime thriller series)

 

 

5). Fresh Off the Boat (comedy series)

 

 

Blackish being on hiatus had us antsy for a good comedy. We love Ali Wong and knew of her creative involvement with Fresh Off the Boat, so we thought we’d check it out. It’s now our second-favorite comedy series. We watch it on Hulu.

 

6). Karl the Fog (twitter account)

 

 

San Francisco isn’t one of my favorite cities, but I’ve always loved the fog in the Bay Area. It turns out that the fog is witty and he has a name and a Twitter account.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil pesto.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

8). Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

9). Peaches, nectarines, plums.

 

Summer fruit

 

10). e.l.f. Velvet Touch Eyeshadow Palette (Island Breeze) – CRUELTY FREE AND VEGAN.

 

e.l.f.

 

I’m enjoying this e.l.f. eyeshadow. You swipe it on with your finger… no brush necessary! It’s more like a cream than a powder, and I love the colors in the Island Breeze version.

 

That takes care of it for June… sorry to be a little late this time!

May Favorites!

I’m not sure how to sum up the month of May. Mental health real talk: May was the white serial killer van creeping slowly down the street in front of your office window; you’re mesmerized by a combination of horror and morbid fascination as you wonder when it’s going to stop, and what you’ll see when it does. The van doesn’t stop, though. It keeps going, slowly, and when it disappears from view, you’re relieved, but you wish you’d seen more. Then June rolls around in the form of another serial killer van, and now you’re wondering whether you should ask for an adjustment to your depression medication cocktail.

In other words, ugh. This is what “Little Things” are for, right? Here are some of the Little Things that I enjoyed in May:

 

1). Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (Netflix)

 

 

Some hilarity was in order. We got it by watching this. BEWARE if you have delicate sensibilities. Ali does not hold back!

 

2). A Quiet Place (film)

 

 

We finally made it out to a movie, and we picked a good one. It’s immensely gratifying when a horror film turns out to be good and not cheesy at all, like this one, though I love cheesy horror flicks, too.

 

3). The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, S2)

 

 

I probably noted the first time around that the phenomenal The Handmaid’s Tale is visually stunning, and that you could hit “pause” anywhere and it’s like you’re looking at a Vermeer painting. Season 2 follows suit.

 

4). Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (Netflix)

 

 

Netflix’ real-life crime drama docuseries game is strong.

 

5). Cobra Kai (YouTube Red)

 

 

Cobra Kai is a current day “where are they now” blast that puts you back in the 80’s because the main character is stuck there.

 

6). The Americans (FX) Series Finale (S6)

 

 

The Americans series finale couldn’t have been better, in our opinion. We’re sad that it’s over, but it had to end at some point, I suppose.

 

 

Philip and Elizabeth in the final scene of the very last episode of The Americans.

 

7). Sumo/Natsu Basho (May 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament) and Tochinoshin’s promotion to Ozeki.

 

Tochinoshin (actual name: Levan Gorgadze)

 

We’re big Tochinoshin fans, as you may recall if you’ve been here for a while, so we were thrilled to witness Tochinoshin’s historic promotion to Ozeki (Sumo’s 2nd-highest rank) at the end of his spectacular May tournament.

 

 

The wonderful tribute video above doesn’t include Tochinoshin’s most notable victory of the May Basho (for reasons of respect, I would guess), so I’m posting another video showing that match. This is his win over the formidable Yokozuna Hakuho. Yokozuna is Sumo’s highest rank. A Yokozuna is basically like a god in Japan.

 

 

8). Cherry season.

Cherry season is when Dad drives 1.5 hours to the cherry orchards in Brentwood (CA) and picks pounds and pounds of cherries and sends a big box of them to me, and then I know that we’re on the verge of summer, because I can taste it. Cherries are my favorite fruit. Callaghan doesn’t like them, so these were all for me.

 

Rainier cherries and another type whose name I can’t remember. The deep red-black Bing cherries come later in the season.

 

9). Popcorn with nuts.

 

popcorn and nuts

 

I started dumping roasted, salted mixed nuts on top of my popcorn, and it’s so very satisfying.

 

Alas, I could only come up with nine Things this time. They were outstanding. They were more than enough.

Escapism + Food + Skincare = (April Favorites!)

First: We didn’t see any movies in April, but we found a couple of Netflix series that we thought were pretty great.

Second: I’m always talking about my efforts to avoid processed foods, yet every month I come to you with a list of the processed foods I ate all the previous month. I don’t even know what to say about this hypocrisy of mine, except that I’m still cognizant of eating a lot of whole foods, too, and I’m also trying to minimize the chemicals and other b.s. you often find in the ingredients lists of many processed foods. There are “healthy” processed foods out there. I don’t mind taking the time to search for them.

Without further ado, let’s talk about some of the awesome Little Things I found in April.

 

1). The Five (Netflix series)

Despite O-T Fagbenle’s minimal screentime in The Handmaid’s Tale (S1), we recognized him immediately when we started The Five. His starring role in this well-paced, artsy British mystery series showcases his talent. Based on his performance here, I’m pretty confident that we’ll get to see more of this actor in the near future.

 

 

2). Hotel Bon Séjour (Netflix series)

We’re two episodes away from finishing this Belgian (or Dutch… it’s unclear, as it straddles Belgium and the Netherlands) crime drama. It had me at the opening credits. This one is a stunner and a must-watch if you enjoy the genre! Tip: watch it in its original Flemish and enjoy the subtitles.

 

 

3). Quaker Select Starts Organic Instant Oatmeal.

I’ve been breakfasting on this oatmeal as of late. I went through an oatmeal phase about 10 years ago, and now that I’m in the mood for it again, I’m loving it. Oatmeal is funny… if I’m not in the mood for it, I can’t get into it. When I am in the mood for it, I love it. I make this oatmeal with water and add a little light agave syrup and a lot of cinnamon and call it good, because it is good.

 

Quaker Select Starts Organic Instant Oatmeal (Plain)

 

4). Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Sweet Earth Big Sur Breakfast Burrito.

How to make a satisfying approximation of a Chipotle sofritas burrito bowl in five minutes with very little fuss: zap this burrito, cut it up, put it in a bowl with some of this Trader Joe’s brown rice that you’ve already zapped, top it with fresh pico de gallo, shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa, and guacamole, and wonder why you’ve never thought of it before.

 

Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Sweet Earth Big Sur Burrito

 

5). Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma cereal.

Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma has been my go-to cereal for quite a while. My favorite way to eat it these days is dry, as something to munch on when I want a little sweet, but I’m not really hungry. This cereal is as close as I get to eating sugary sweets. For me, it’s just sweet enough. If you’re used to eating sugar, you might find it less than satisfying. Either way, it’s pretty benign for being a processed food… any six-year-old can read and comprehend all six ingredients on the list.

 

Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma cereal

 

6). Skinny Pop Popcorn.

I’ve cycled in and out of Skinny Pop phases for years, too. It’s currently saving the day when I’m craving salt, but I have no appetite. It’s like eating salty, corn-flavored air. What could be better for nausea?

 

Skinny Pop popcorn

 

7). POW Red Lentil Power Protein (rotini) Pasta.

Ingredients: organic red lentil flour, organic quinoa flour. That’s it.

I tried this pasta in my mission to maximize the nutritional density of the processed foods that I eat. I’m not going to lie and say that this pasta is “good” pasta, because to me, it’s not. Reasons why I don’t really care for it in and of itself: its vaguely unpleasant taste when sampled plain. Its texture that’s never “right.” However, it is good and satisfying when I mix it with my standard pasta sauce (organic tomato-basil jarred pasta sauce, nutritional yeast flakes, olive oil, sea salt, oregano, and crushed red pepper). I make the sauce spicy and thick (lots of the nootch), and I don’t even think of the red lentil pasta as pasta. It’s just good. Really good.

As for the pasta’s nutritional density: 14g protein, 7g fiber, 35g carbs, 1g sugar, 1g fat, 25% iron. POW, indeed.

 

POW red lentil rotini pasta

 

8). Perrier Sparkling Water.

I’ve been drinking Perrier for years. What can I say about it now other than it’s even better these days because it combats my nausea? Nothing. In the last month, it’s gone from good to wonderful.

 

Perrier

 

9). Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum.

I’m not thrilled about the scent of this product, but that aspect is easy to disregard because I love the lotion, itself. This is what you want a hardcore body lotion to be: thick, moisturizing, and non-greasy. Besides, the scent is very light, and it disappears quickly. (Where I got it: Target)

 

alba botanica very emollient body lotion maximum

 

10). Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum.

This is like a lighter, dryer version of the Oils of Life facial oil (The Body Shop) that I use at night. It’s fabulous, and I love its light, citrusy scent for daytime use. I put this on first, then layer on eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Like the lotion above, I will be re-purchasing this product! (Where I got it: Target)

 

Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum

 

The end… I think I finally succeeded in keeping the text to a minimum in this Monthly Favorites post! Happy Tuesday and month of May, everyone.