Things that smell good, and other April Favorites!

Looking back on April, I’m happy to be alive and eating fewer processed foods. Haha! There are no processed foods on this list, maybe for the first time in the history of Monthly Favorites posts on TALC. That is something.

This is not to say that I didn’t eat any, though, because I certainly did. But I managed to cut way back, and I didn’t discover any new processed foods.

As for the rest, well, we’ve got the usual assortment of movies and T.V. series. Also, there are more products than usual on this list.

Take a look!

 

1). The Devotion of Suspect X (film)

 

 

We went to see The Devotion of Suspect X when we saw that it was playing in the theater near our house. The Chinese film (with English sub-titles) detailed a mysterious story whose reveal toward the end came as a surprise. I found the development of the two main characters (and their relationship) to be somewhat lacking, but the aspects that were emphasized were intriguing enough. All in all, the movie’s minor deficiencies didn’t have much of an impact on our enjoyment of it. It was an interesting time, and it was fun to see a film that we knew nothing about when we went in.

 

2). Split (film)

 

 

James McAvoy’s turn in Split is something to behold. Can one actor win 23 Best Actor awards for the same film? That is the question. Of course, I’m creating a wild exaggeration here… this is just to say that I was enthralled by McAvoy’s ability to shift from one personality to the next, and I thought that his main personalities were well-acted in their own right. His performance was truly stunning. I was also impressed with Anya Tayler-Joy’s performance. This is, in my opinion, one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better films.

 

3). Better Call Saul  (Season 3) (T.V. series)

 

 

Between Better Call Saul and The Good Fight, spin-off series have been some of our favorites! Better Call Saul gets better and better. We’re now at the point where we’re seeing the evolution of the liaisons in Breaking Bad, which is extremely satisfying. Last night’s episode left us on a particularly maddening cliff-hanger. Is it Monday yet?

 

4). Sorjonen (Bordertown) (Finnish T.V. series)

 

 

Here again we have a foreign language piece, only Sorjonen (English title: Bordertown) is a T.V. series. In fact, it’s the first foreign-language T.V. series we’ve seen. It’s in Finnish and Russian, sub-titled, of course, and it’s a crime thriller (surprise, surprise). It’s fun to watch the Finnish protagonist at work with his unique methodology, and his Russian counterpart is one of the more badass women (of the many) that I’ve seen in such pieces. Sorjonen was picked up by Netflix, so it’s binge-watch friendly!

 

5). D’anjou pears.

 

 

Pears are one of two repeats on this list. D’anjou pears are fabulous right now! They’re flavorful and refreshing straight from the refrigerator. I love pears as a transition fruit to stone-fruit season.

 

6). The Body Shop Vitamin E sink-in moisture sleeping mask.

 

The Body Shop Vitamin E sink-in moisture sleeping mask

 

Still addicted to The Body Shop. Still haven’t stepped foot in a Lush store or tried any Lush products… but old-school works for me. The Body Shop is a little costly, and its parent company is L’Oreal, but their products are cruelty-free and pretty reliably awesome.

This sleeping mask from their Vitamin E line is my latest TBS passion. It was my first foray into sleeping masks, so I didn’t have expectations going in. I put it on and immediately felt sort of like my skin couldn’t breathe… and also, the mask on my face felt tacky to the touch, which wasn’t the most pleasant feeling. Luckily, of course, you go to bed right away, so you’re asleep and unaware of how weird it feels. The important thing was that in the morning, I woke up and couldn’t believe how different my skin looked. My skin loves this mask! (My skin also loves The Body Shop’s Vitamin E serum-in-oil as a nightly treatment. And their Honey and Oat 3-in-1 moisturising scrub mask.)

 

7). The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey body butter.

 

The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey body butter

 

But wait! I’m not done raving about The Body Shop. They’re famous for their body butters, but this new one of theirs is something else. TBS Almond Milk & Honey body butter is silky, creamy, and rich, and it has an unexpected bouncy feel to it when you scoop it out. I love the way it sinks in and transforms my severely dry skin into soft skin, especially on my hands. Bonus: I love its fragrance; it’s exactly what it is. Almonds and honey.

 

8). Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh daily repairing moisturizer.

 

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh daily repairing moisturizer

 

When I went looking for a daytime moisturizer, I picked up this blueberry/age refresh one from Yes To. I loved their night cream (see below), so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with their daytime formula. It’s wonderful. I have a feeling it’s going to stay a favorite for a while.

 

9). Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh deep wrinkle night cream.

 

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh deep wrinkle night cream

 

This is an old favorite that you’ve probably seen before, if you’ve been reading here for a while. I loved this night cream, but I drifted away from it as I tried other products. I came across a lot of good ones, but I’ve circled back around to Yes To Blueberries. This night cream is just the best for my skin.

To give you an idea: I tried The Body Shop’s Vitamin E night cream in April, too (there was a crazy sale going on, so it was a good opportunity to try new things), and while it’s good, the Yes To night cream beat it to get on this list. Adding to its wonders, Yes To is a more affordable drugstore brand.

 

10). Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia perfume roll-on.

 

Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia perfume roll-on

 

This is a first: a cruelty-free fragrance (vegan, to boot) that I absolutely love. Its sillage is impressive, and its scent doesn’t change on my skin over time, which is probably the nature of a perfume oil. It’s not a chemical concoction. I picked this up at Sprouts on a whim, as I’d been on the hunt for a new fragrance. I love this one.

 

La Fin. Let’s see what there is to discover in May.

Happy Tuesday, All!

 

All kinds of action! (March Favorites!)

A lot (a lot a lot) happened in March. It was busy. It was painful in more ways than one. We lost our Cita, and I’ve been dealing with a medical situation that actually had me incapacitated at one point… both of which occurred in the midst of some home improvement projects we’d scheduled. It was a lot all at once, but we got through it. There were some stellar moments in there, as well, make no mistake! I’m not complaining. I’m grateful to say that I’ve been blissfully pain-free for the last week, I’m back at the gym, and my writing’s going well, albeit slowly.

So in March, the little things that provided pleasant distraction amounted to a whole lot of junk food for the brain. We seem to have something of a Marvel and Shakespearean theme going on in this post, and I also included trailers, which I don’t usually do in “monthly favorites.” Let’s get started!

 

1). Logan (film)

 

 

This well-crafted film features Wolverine at his most human – human in ways that invoke a sort of empathy I wouldn’t expect to feel for a comic book superhero. Apart from a few choice scenes, Hugh Jackman’s character wouldn’t rouse suspicion that he even is a superhero, if you weren’t familiar with his storyline from the previous X-men/Wolverine installments. You might be a bit confused, but I doubt you’d be thinking superhero. This human feature of the superhero protagonist sets Logan apart from other superhero movies and allows it to engage a broader audience than the strict superhero fandom. (Are you counting the number of times I’ve written “superhero” in this paragraph?)

 

 

2). John Wick 2 (film)

 

 

John Wick 2 was the other franchise installment we saw in March. The thing about Keanu Reeves is that his action flicks tend to be slick and over-the-top stylish, with plenty of theatrical embellishment to backdrop the inevitable violence. No one, in my opinion, centerpieces such projects better than Reeves. They seem to be made for him. There’s something Shakespearean about Reeves’ acting that doesn’t always do it for me, but I like the way it works in such films. John Wick 2 offers elaborate, suave eye candy for the eye that appreciates action movies. You don’t need to see the first John Wick in order to escape into John Wick 2. That’s always a plus.

 

 

3). Fortitude (T.V. series)

 

 

Fortitude is a dramatic mystery/horror series saturated with spooky intensity coming largely from its excellent pacing and the stark clarity and loveliness of its cinematography. For one thing, it’s set on the north pole, essentially, in a small Arctic town; you immediately wonder why would anyone want to live here? The sheer intelligence of this series makes it chilling. Pardon the pun.

 

 

4). Legion (T.V. series)

 

 

We started watching Legion, another Marvel-associated production on this list, and now we’re a few episodes behind as we only have so much time and other series have taken priority in the plethora of shows we’re currently watching (i.e., we discovered and got sucked into Fortitude). But we’ll catch up. Honestly, Legion’s acid trippiness kind of wore us down and we needed a break, but I wouldn’t say don’t watch this. I would say, give it a try if you like your T.V. to scramble your brain at the end of a long day.

 

 

5). The Americans (T.V. series)

 

 

It’s the return of The Americans! I just love this series about Cold War-era Russian spies. The plot, as they say, thickens.

 

6). Empire (T.V. series)

 

 

Empire also returned in March, and it’s better than ever, in my opinion. Cookie out-Cookies herself, Lucious continues to surprise without surprising (a paradox that makes his character particularly interesting to me), and the whole shebang continues to invoke Shakespeare. Where the poster says “King Lucious,” I still read “King Lear.” The series actually harkens back to Shakespearean tragicomedy at some turns, as well. Long live Empire!

 

7). Sumo: Grand Sumo Highlights (March 2017 Basho)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The March 2017 Basho (Grand Sumo Tournament) captivated us, too. Seriously, we needed all of this diversion, anyway, but we’re completely entranced with Sumo. We’ve become familiar with the Rikishi (fighters), so it’s fun to note who’s fighting who and cheer on our favorites in the matches. Somewhere in the middle of this spring tournament, I became a particular fan of Terunofuji’s; he’s now tied with Kisenosato as my favorite of favorites.

 

8). Strawberries.

 

Fresh strawberries

 

Because it’s strawberry season, and the strawberries are currently fabulous, we’ve been enjoying fresh strawberries for dessert every night. Strawberries have a fleeting season, so they’re a special treat when they’re this good!

 

9). Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs.

 

Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs

 

Honestly, I’ve been doing well in going lighter on processed foods lately. The fact that Trader Joe’s has these delicious meatless meatballs that find their way into our freezer doesn’t take away from that. Really.

That’s all I’ve got for March!

La Fin.

February Favorites!

From looking at this list, it would seem that all that happened in February was a whole lot of T.V. and movies. This is pretty much the case as far as “favorite little things” are concerned, but merely because there wasn’t much new in the way of things to eat and things to put on my face. I’ve only got two new food items one new product to share.

What you’ll see here probably amounts to the same number of watchables in which we indulge every month, except the volume was probably more because we stumbled into a few series that demanded binge-watching: Santa Clarita Diet (pun not intended) and The Fall (we’re just now starting season 3).

I’ll try to keep things succinct this time!

Without further ado….

 

1). Get Out (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-getout

 

The race-based singling out of victims in this brilliant horror movie chilled us to the core. This is a concept I’ve never seen done before, and there’s never been a better time for it. On the lighter side, the big take-away from the film is NEVER leave home without your portable phone charger, and keep it with you at all times.

 

2). The Wailing (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-thewailing

 

This Korean horror movie is almost three hours long, but not a moment of it is gratuitous… the pacing of the film’s development of the mystery is masterfully done. Its gorgeous cinematography helps the time to pass, as well… and we always appreciate not knowing what the hell is going on all the way up to the end. We found this excellent film on Netflix.

 

3). Santa Clarita Diet (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-santaclaritadiet

 

We had to employ our three-episode try policy to get into this Netflix series. At the end of the first episode, we were unimpressed and not at all amused, as we were supposed to be. But it left us with just enough curiosity to watch the second episode. And the third. By the end of third episode, we were in. And we were laughing.

 

4). The Good Fight (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-thegoodfight

 

Delightfully, The Good Fight is more a continuation of The Good Wife than a spin-off. It hits the ground running, so to speak. Diane has shifted to the spotlight, Alicia is absent completely (so far). Thanks to this series, we’re no longer The Good Wife orphans.

 

5). The Fall (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-thefall

 

The Fall is mainly what happened to us in February… if you’ve been wondering where we’ve been, look no further. Gillian Anderson hunting a serial killer. Need I say more?!

 

6). Bate’s Motel (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-batesmotel

 

Is there a T.V. character we’ve ever wanted to shake more than Norman in Bate’s Motel? I think not. He’s so repulsive and infuriating it’s almost difficult to bring ourselves to continue watching, but we know that Rihanna will appear as Psycho’s iconic shower victim (if you didn’t know, Bate’s Motel is the T.V. series version of Psycho)… and how could we miss Ri-Ri??

 

7). “Memphis” (episode 16 of This is Us – S1)

 

THIS IS US -- "Memphis" Episode 116 -- Pictured: Ron Cephas Jones as William -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

THIS IS US — “Memphis” Episode 116 — Pictured: Ron Cephas Jones as William — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

 

This episode of This is Us ranks up there as one of the finest hours of television I’ve ever watched. It had me crying at the end, which is very unusual, if not unheard of. The excellence of this series continues to amaze us.

Moving off-screen…

 

8). e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream.

 

e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream

e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream

 

I used up my night cream, and when I went to Target to get another one, all three of my go-to night creams were out of stock (Yes to Blueberries, Acure, and derma-e). I headed over to the e.l.f. section because I like their day moisturizer, so why not try their night cream, right? This cream was only ten bucks (LOVE e.l.f.), and it’s pretty good. I like it and I’ll keep using it until it’s gone, but I’m not sure I won’t pick up one of my other three go-to’s next time around. That said, I wanted to include this e.l.f. cream here…  I like it enough to repurchase it in the future at some point. I tend to switch up my creams.

 

9). Orgain Organic protein bars.

Okay, so I am trying to cut down on processed foods (I guess this has become somewhat of a New Year’s Resolution), so I’m limiting myself to ONE protein/energy bar per day. The one I discovered in February is my current favorite. These bars by Orgain are tasty (to me, anyway), and they contain a decent amount of protein for a snack. I think they only have 5 grams of sugar, which is important to me, too, as I limit my sugar intake as much as possible. I think I like the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor the best, but honestly, they all kind of taste the same.

 

Orgain Organic Protein bars

Orgain Organic Protein bars

 

10). Vega Clean Protein Powder.

 

VEGA Clean Protein powder

VEGA Clean Protein powder

 

I balked when I read the list of proteins in this new concoction of Vega’s: pea, hemp, alfalfa, and pumpkin. Translation: ugh, ugh, ugh, and ugh. But I bought it because I was out of my usual Vega protein powder… and I was pleasantly surprised! It’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it’d be. I got the vanilla flavor and I just shake it up with water, as usual. It’s got BCAAs and glutamine, too, which I guess sets it apart from Vega’s other protein powders. This turned out to be a happy accident.

That’s it for February’s little favorites! Happy Friday, All.

 

Shadow and light: January 2017 favorites!

There were so many “little things” that tripped my trigger (slang I picked up in the army) in January, I almost couldn’t decide which to include in this list. I try not to go beyond 10 because 10 already makes the “favorites” post pretty long.

I enjoy raving about productions I loved watching, and foods I loved eating (usually processed food, but you know that by now, if you’ve been here for a length of time). If I tried any new skin care/cosmetic-type products, I like to share those, too, if I think they’re great and I’m still using them.

So this list is par for the course. As usual, the food items are vegan and tasty (to me, anyway) and not terribly unhealthy nutrition-wise. The products are cruelty-free, meaning “not tested on animals.”

Let’s get into it!

 

1). Passengers (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-passengers

 

Passengers is candy, especially if you’re a fan of sci-fi action thrillers. You’ve got a guy who runs into some bad luck. Because he’s human and he wants to survive without completely losing his mind, he makes a decision that’s not the best for the other person involved… but in the end, the decision saves everyone, because the other person involved is a badass. That other person is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who does badasses pretty well. We were entertained and left the theater feeling like we’d spent a fun two or so hours that were worth whatever the tickets cost.

 

2). Hidden Figures (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hiddenfigures

 

Admittedly, we were lured to watch Hidden Figures partially because Cookie from Empire is in it. That would be Taraji P. Henson. With her versatile talent, she’s great in everything she does, but to me she’ll always be Cookie, just like Jeff Bridges will always be The Dude. Hidden Figures was high on my “to watch” list, anyway, though. I went into it already knowing that while it was a man who first went to the moon, it was a woman who got him there, so I was eager to watch the story unfold… and unfold well, it did. In Hidden Figures, we see the story (of these women and their roles in the historical NASA mission) told with focus on the social climate of the time, exemplifying ways in which segregation hindered progress. If you haven’t already seen this excellent and inspirational film, you may want to add it to your “to watch” list, too.

 

3). 2017 January Grand Sumo Tournament (Honbasho)

Sumo! We’re still obsessed with Sumo; we were thrilled that there was another Grand Tournament in January. Our question is, when will we see more Sumo incorporated into mixed martial artists’ game plans? It’s likely a matter of time before it joins the plethora of martial arts combined in MMA. Sumo is a technically intricate martial art, and it’s the most brutal one I’ve seen yet.

We wanted Kisenosato to win from Day 1 of January’s 15-day basho, and he did!! Behold the champion’s Tale of the Tape:

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-sumorikishi_kisenosato

 

 

4). The O.A. (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theoa

 

The O.A. was our binge-watch T.V. series of the month. (Thank you, Netflix, for releasing your series’ episodes all at once.) In The O.A., we saw nods to Netflix’ Sense8 and Stranger Things, both, and we enjoyed it as much, which is a lot. If you love a good dramystery (has anyone coined that term yet?) with a sci-fi/fantasy bend, you may enjoy this one, as well.

 

5). This is Us (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-thisisus

 

Speaking of hybrid T.V. genres, here’s This is Us, a brilliant dramedy that captured our admiration and affection right from the start. It can’t be easy weaving hilarity into dramatic (sometimes heavy) scenes and situations, but these writers and actors and directors do it with aplomb. This is Us became an instant favorite of ours.

 

Moving on to products…

6). Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint and Rosemary body wash.

 

Burt's Bees Fabulously Fresh peppermint and rosemary body wash

Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh peppermint and rosemary body wash

 

The scent of this body wash is redolent of a sauna… to my nose, its combination of peppermint and rosemary gives off a very similar rustic, invigorating, and warm aroma. It’s unusual. The first time I used it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. By the end of the shower, I realized what it reminded me of. Now I’m enraptured and I sometimes take two showers a day just so I can inhale this scent. I may have a problem.

 

7). Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm (Red Dahlia).

 

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm (red dahlia)

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm (red dahlia)

 

I added this tinted lip balm to my collection of Burt’s Bees lip products (which is getting slightly out of hand). What can I say? For over a year… maybe two… I haven’t used anything on my lips but Burt’s Bees. The Red Dahlia tint to this lip balm is similar to the Redwood Forest lip crayon that’s my go-to shade when I want more saturated color on my lips. I’ve had the tinted lip balm in Hibiscus, a pinkish shade, for a while now. I love that one, as well.

 

8). Pacifica Alight multi-mineral BB cream.

 

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

 

This one’s a rediscovery: I found my old tube of Pacifica BB cream when I was organizing my life a few weeks ago. I used it the next day and remembered everything I loved about it. Its sheerness leaves a lovely, dewy finish on the skin (not sure how this would work on oily skin types), and it feels like you’re wearing moisturizer. I plan to repurchase this product when I’ve used up this tube.

 

Now for food!

9). Larabar Fruits & Greens (strawberry spinach cashew).

 

Larabara Fruits and Greens (strawberry spinach cashew)

Larabara Fruits and Greens (strawberry spinach cashew)

 

Okay, I found this bar to be strange at first. Like apple cider vinegar water, these particular Larabars were somewhat of an acquired taste for me… but it took just one before I was hooked. This bar gives you fruit, greens, and nuts compacted into a chewy treat that’s slightly sweet, and slightly tart. It’s made of plants and nuts. If you can acquire the taste, you really can’t go wrong with this! I keep one in my bag at all times.

 

10). Trader Joe’s Wild Rice & Mushroom Sausage-less Sausage.

 

Trader Joe's wild rice & mushroom sausage-less sausage

Trader Joe’s wild rice & mushroom sausage-less sausage

 

Trader Joe’s came up with this wonderful plant-based sausage that balances umami (savory) with salty in all its herbalicious glory. We love this stuff. I think there are other varieties of Trader Joe’s veggie sausages; we’re looking forward to trying them out.

That brings us to the end. I’ve already got some things on my list for February!

Year in review, looking ahead, and my favorite little things (2016 favorites!)

Happy New Year! I know I probably already said that, but “Happy New Year” again. This is my annual year-in-review/resolutions/favorites of my past year’s favorites post.

1). 2016 was exciting, but I don’t have to be wistful about it because the good things are continuing into 2017.

I’m still heartened with deep satisfaction from the life changes I was able to make in 2016. It was a particularly great year occupation-wise. About this, I can only say that I’m thankful every day to experience the feeling of vitality the luckiest people feel when they wake up driven and eager because they know they’re going to spend the day doing what they love, where and how they love doing it. Any work-related stress I experience is self-imposed, productive stress. I keep thinking this is all a splendiferous dream. I’m aware that I may have to wake up one day, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Fitness-wise, adding (Les Mills) Body Pump to my workout routine was the best thing I did in 2016. It took me almost the whole year to get here, but I finally did, and I. Am. Loving. It.

The year was rich and rewarding family-wise, too. We spent lovely time with my family (between my brother’s wedding and Thanksgiving), and it was fun ending the year with my sister-in-law and her boys during their longish visit.

One thing we did with them was the annual Phoenix Zoo Lights, which is great, anyway, but so especially awesome with kids!

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

 

With Legoland now open down the way at Arizona Mills (where we also went with the kids), Legos were featured in this year’s Zoo Lights:

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

 

On the darker side of 2016: It was a hard year in terms of our furbabies. It involved upheaval, heartbreak, and a lot of time, effort, and money spent trying to make life good for our kitties. It’s not over, but we’re determined. Our focus at the moment is on healing Cita physically. After that, we can focus entirely on healing her emotionally, with the ultimate goal of integrating her into our household with Nenette… yes, we’re going to attempt that again. We are not going to give up.

We’re already doing what we can to make Cita’s environment as stress-free as possible – putting Feliway (comforting feline pheromones) in her air, and Bach Rescue Remedy in her water – so we’re off to a running start. Reducing her stress is helping her to heal, in general.

2). Looking ahead at 2017, I am:

–Starting out the year with an updated workout routine, doing 3 Body Pump classes and 2 Body Combat classes per week, instead of the other way around. It was time for a change, and my body is loving it!

–Continuing work on alleviating (if not overcoming) my PTSD-related claustrophobia via repeated trips to the sensory deprivation tank.

–Speaking more French at home, since I completely failed last year’s resolution and spoke practically no French.

3). I usually do a “favorites of the past year” list; continuing with the tradition, here’s my list of my favorite of my 2016 favorites!

Favorite Random:

  • Les Mills Body Pump
  • Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

Favorite Skin care, hair care, cosmetics (all cruelty-free… not tested on animals):

  • Derma e antioxidant natural sunscreen with clear zinc oxide SPF 30
  • OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner
  • The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil
  • The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter
  • e.l.f. Flawless Finish foundation (in Sand)
  • e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Soft Luminescence
  • e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

Favorite Foods (all vegan):

  • Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry kiwi)
  • Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread
  • Eureka! Seeds the Day bread
  • Seedless red grapes
  • KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter
  • Chipotle Tabasco sauce

Favorite Movies:

  • Hush
  • Ghostbusters
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

Favorite T.V. series:

  • Orphan Black
  • The Americans
  • Empire
  • The Affair
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke
  • Better Call Saul
  • Bates Motel
  • Stranger Things
  • Black-ish
  • Speechless

That’s it for the wrap-up. Onward!

Staring at the rafters, waving at stars (December favorites!)

December irks me with all the chaos it creates in my agenda, and yet it thrills me because I enjoy the holiday season, and it’s my birthday month. I had adventures: I went to a party and consequently began my fight against PTSD-related claustrophobia (attempting to close myself inside a coffin-like tank filled with water, aka sensory deprivation tank). I simplified my life by switching my glasses lenses to progressives, and I actually like them because lo, this time they were done right. We saw three good movies, two of which I included in the Favorites list below. I had a weekend to myself (when Callaghan went out of town) during which I went alone to watch an exciting and intense UFC fight card (which included Urijah Faber’s last fight!). I had lunch dates with a few dear friends, one of whom introduced me to a tantalizing cuisine I’d never tried before (Malaysian). I met some good people. December ended with Callaghan’s sister and her two boys coming to visit (they’re still here), and that’s been fun, beginning with the fact that Christmas + kids = Good Times. And on the penultimate day of the month and of the year, UFC 207 happened. We left the sports bar on a thrilling high note, especially because of our girl Amanda Nunes (still the champ)! To say that the year ended on a bang is an understatement.

Also, I ended up getting a decent amount of writing done.

December had its trials and tribulations, too, because that’s how life works… everything can’t be all good all the time. On the not good side, Cita has been struggling to heal all month, and we’ve been struggling to help her. She’s a battle-scarred mess with wounds that aren’t healing. She’s been to the vet numerous times. She’s in convalescence and being a very good sport about it. I’ve never seen such a fearless and stoic cat (who talks trash, but can’t fight her way out of a paper bag). Loving and affectionate throughout it all, Cita is a walking contradiction with tremendous heart, and we wouldn’t have her any other way. We just need to get her healed. The next step will be, once again, to attempt to integrate her into the household with Nenette.

Getting on with the list of little things! December favorites:

 

1). Hacksaw Ridge (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hacksawridge

 

Hacksaw Ridge is an important film, an excellent film. I never thought I’d say this, but thank you, Mel Gibson. The man did indeed create a film to bring to our attention the heroism of a young man who literally dodged bullets unarmed while rescuing others in the bloodiest battle against the Japanese in WWII. This is a true story, and it is unforgettable.

 

2). Nocturnal Animals (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-nocturnalanimals

 

 

Nocturnal Animals is a film written and directed by Tom Ford. Tom Ford as in fashion design. Tom Ford as in Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Considering this, we shouldn’t be surprised that every scene in Nocturnal Animals is a vision of artistry; Ford’s eye and talent for design translates magnificently to the medium of film. This isn’t his first film – it’s his second – but it’s the first that I’ve seen, and I admit that I wasn’t expecting to leave the theater quite so impressed.

As in Hacksaw Ridge, the acting in Nocturnal Animals is first-rate, as well. It’s always great when you go to the movies and find that you made an awesome choice.

The third film we saw was Arrival, which was also outstanding. The extraordinary Amy Adams once again! She stars in Nocturnal Animals, too.

December was a great month for movies.

 

3). Samurai “Strength” print (original art by David Lozeau).

 

The Fyne Art of David Lozeau - Strength (Samurai series)

The Fyne Art of David Lozeau: Strength (Samurai series) – signed by the artist

 

I reconnected with my biological mother in December (such a month!), who reminded me again of our Samurai ancestry. With that in mind, Callaghan bought me this print for my birthday: a portrait of one of my ancestors, haha! Seriously, though, I love this badass painting, and I love David Lozeau’s art, in general. Visit his site and feast your eyes.

davidlozeau dot com

 

4). The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter.

 

The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter

The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter

 

This year’s holiday limited edition fragrance at The Body Shop is Frosted Berries… mostly cranberries “from North America.” (TBS is an English company; it’s funny to see what foreigners consider to be exotic on our side of the pond.) This scent is lovely. I stocked up.

 

5). The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil.

 

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil

 

I was eager to try this serum, and I’m glad that I did. My skin loves it. I put it on after I cleanse my face at night… this first, then eye cream, then night cream. I’ve always layered products on my face in both my morning and nighttime skin care routines, and this serum in oil is a wonderful base layer for the night. Its scent is lovely and light, too.

 

6). The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter.

 

The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter

The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter

 

More from The Body Shop! I discovered their hair butter, and a wonderful discovery, it was. I’m always looking for ways to smooth out my hair (which can never decide if it’s straight Japanese hair or curly ginger English hair). My hair is thin and fly-away and just plain frazzled these days, and this product has been helping.

 

7). e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette.

 

e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

 

I don’t know how e.l.f. does it. They create gorgeous, high-quality make-up that’s not tested on animals, and they sell it at unbelievably affordable prices. This Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette is only ten bucks. It’s my new favorite.

 

8). Urban Decay Perversion mascara.

 

Urban Decay Perversion mascara

Urban Decay Perversion mascara

 

Urban Decay is the only high-end, cruelty-free cosmetic brand whose products I use (most of the stuff I put on my face is from e.l.f.). In December, I started using their Perversion mascara, and I’m liking it a lot. I can’t even remember now why I got it, since the e.l.f. mascara I’d been using had been a favorite of mine for months. For whatever reason, this higher-end mascara got into my makeup bag, and it’s luscious.

 

9). Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread.

 

Trader Joe's multi-grain sourdough bread

Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough bread

 

I’ve found my new favorite sourdough bread! It’s at Trader Joe’s! This multi-grain sourdough with sunflower and sesame seeds is delicious! [/exclamation points] If you’re a fan of sourdough bread – and if you’re lucky enough to have Trader Joe’s in your state – I recommend that you run out right now and grab a loaf or three. You can thank me later.

 

10). Tofurky pizza with “pepproni” & mushrooms.

 

Tofurky pizza (pepproni and mushroom)

Tofurky pizza (pepproni and mushroom)

 

Because there are always those days where it feels like a good idea to turn on the oven and throw in a frozen, processed-all-to-hell pizza. This one is vegan, of course. It also happens to be gluten-free, which I usually don’t like. It’s good. It’s really good. Pricey, but good! It’s an expensive junky treat, and I love it.

That’s it for December! I hope your new year is off to a great start!

And they all fall down. (November favorites!)

Let’s just jump right into this list of enjoyable little things I discovered in November!

 

1). Jacket weather.

 

Winter has come.

Winter has come.

 

Okay, I didn’t discover this, but it happened, and I love it. Jacket weather has arrived! (My hair isn’t this light; this pic shows an illusion of the aggressive lighting in the optometrist’s room in which I was sitting yesterday afternoon. My hair looks red under light, anyway, but this pic is beyond.) It doesn’t matter what the calendar says… if it’s cold enough to wear a jacket – in the 60’s – it’s winter.

 

2). Night School (novel by Lee Child)

 

Lee Child's 2016 Reacher release!

Lee Child’s 2016 Reacher release!

 

It’s here, and I finally got my hands on it! I’m about half-way through, and I’m hooked, as usual. I’ll probably devote a post to this new Reacher novel of Lee Child’s.

 

3). Nerve (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-nerve

 

We were looking for a fluffy cinematic escapade for mindless entertainment one day, and we happened upon Nerve. We chose it because of Emma Roberts and the fact of having seen the trailer and remembering how we thought we discerned a unique premise for a sci-fi thriller… and that’s exactly what we got. And we were entertained. Success!

 

4). The Affair S3 (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theaffairs3

 

This season of The Affair is strikingly dark compared to the last two seasons, which were also dark, if that gives you any idea about this stunning series. Season 3 takes you down into an abyss, a drop that’s immediately evident as that eerie song of Fiona Apple’s in the opening credits now harmonizes with beautiful and morbid images of the characters sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

 

 

The Affair just gets better and better. The story seems straightforward enough as it begins in the first season, but by the time you’ve watched the first two/three episodes of the third season, you have no idea, really, what you’ve gotten into.

 

5). Acure night cream.

 

Acure night cream

Acure night cream

 

I think this cream may have appeared in a list from last year. It’s making a reappearance, as I’ve started using it again, and I still think it’s great. I’ve tried some very good night creams this year; my favorite is still Yes to Blueberries, but I’m enjoying using this one by Acure at the moment.

 

6). Amy’s organic lentil vegetable soup (light in sodium).

 

Amy's organic lentil vegetable (light in sodium) soup

Amy’s organic lentil vegetable (light in sodium) soup

 

I eat a lot of soup these days. I love homemade soup, but more often than not, I grab whatever can of soup we have on hand. It’s always Amy’s. This lentil vegetable one is my favorite. It’s “light in sodium,” but not to worry… it’s nothing a few twists of the salt grinder can’t fix! I load it up with pink Himalayan salt and figure I’ll deal with the repercussions of excess sodium consumption later. I’ve got to have some vices, right? At least one? And as far as processed foods go, Amy’s soups really aren’t that bad.

 

7). Clif Kid Organic Z bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter.

 

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter topping

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter topping

 

This bar appeared on last month’s list. Its taste reminds me of Fig Newtons, which I love. But now I top it with peanut butter for some added protein, and the aftertaste takes it from Fig Newton to pure oatmeal cookie. I’m so glad I tried this!

 

8). Scivation Xtend BCAAs in strawberry kiwi.

 

Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry-kiwi)

Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry-kiwi)

 

When deciding on BCAAs to supplement my weight-training workouts and muscle recovery, my only concern was finding a good one that’s vegan. I’d never taken BCAAs before, so I dove into some research and came up with Scivation Xtend. I got the strawberry kiwi. The flavor is good, and it works well in getting me through a Body Pump session and recovering faster afterward. SCORE.

 

9). Sumo wrestling.

 

Grand Sumo Tournament 2016

Grand Sumo Tournament 2016

 

Sitting in front of the T.V. with Dad when we were in California for Thanksgiving, I got to revisit those favorite childhood moments of watching combat sports with him… only this time, instead of boxing, it was sumo wrestling! It never occurred to me to actually sit and watch sumo. Callaghan and I were instantly drawn in; we were surprised at how much we enjoyed it. I’m still pondering the mystery of how a match that can be over in 5 seconds can be so exciting to watch. The 15-day tournament ended on the 27th (It was the November Grand Sumo Tournament, or Kyushu Basho, in Fukuoka, Japan). We watched the last two nights here at home, on YouTube. The next tournament will be in January.

 

10). New tattoo.

 

Three swallows in flight

Three swallows in flight

 

Fresh out of the studio, freshly wrapped in plastic.

Fresh out of the studio, freshly wrapped in plastic.

 

I finally got my bird tattoos! I’ve been wanting swallows, and I love the way they turned out.

That’s it for November, and that’s almost it for 2016!