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.

 

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Insert snazzy title here. (March Favorites!)

Hello, and welcome to the “Little Things” I enjoyed in March. Since I’m again later than I’d wanted to be with this post, I’m offering a streamlined version of Monthly Favorites… meaning, with no further ado…

 

1). Jessica Jones (T.V. series, Netflix)

 

 

Jessica Jones is back for season 2 (Netflix), and Callaghan and I both like this season even better than the first. The writers infused the story with deeper intrigue, along with emphasis on character development. The effort left us with tantalizing fodder for speculation… we have a million questions, ideas, and theories regarding what will unfold in season three. It’s going to be a long wait!

 

2). Tabula Rasa (T.V. series, Netflix)

 

 

This series from Belgium is simply stunning. If you like horror/thrillers such as The Sixth Sense and Fatal Attraction, there’s a strong chance that you’ll like Tabula Rasa. As always, we watched it in its original language (Flemish), which I recommend. Honestly, this series was creepier to me than most horror movies I’ve seen. There was an effective wink or two at The Ring, I might add! Loved this series.

 

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

 

 

March brought season 6 of my favorite series, FX’s Cold War drama/thriller The Americans. Sadly, it’s its last. We’re looking forward to seeing how things wind up for the hottest pair of fictional deep-cover Soviet agents ever to pose as ordinary Americans. (Hyperbole totally deserved, in my opinion.) We’ll have to get our Washington D.C. Russian spy fix elsewhere on T.V. after this. Oh, wait….

 

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

 

 

Thus begins another excellent second season… The Good Fight continues. Its characters roll with the proverbial punches, as hard-boiled Chicago lawyers do. We hated to see the end of The Good Wife, so it’s been satisfying to watch its spin-off carry on the madness so well. We’re here for it!

 

5). Sumo March Grand Tournament (Honbasho) and rikishi Kaisei.

 

There’s a Grand Sumo Tournament (Honbasho) in every odd month, so we got to enjoy 15 days of Sumo in March. The Honbasho isn’t an organization, but it is to Sumo what a UFC card is to MMA – the combat sport’s highest level of competition. This time, we set our early sights on Kaisei, the rikishi (fighter) from Brazil. We’ve always been fans, but Kaisei came out swinging this tournament and got us all hyped about the possibility of a Brazilian (go New World!) winning the Yusho to take the Emperor’s Cup. Spoiler alert: he didn’t, but he got close.

 

Let’s get into food…

6). Archer Farms raw, unsalted mixed nuts.

 

Archer Farms (Target) raw, unsalted mixed nuts

 

Contrary to what I say sometimes when I’m waxing enthusiastic about nuts being great carriers for salt, I do cycle through periods of eating lots of raw, unsalted nuts. I do enjoy them! For weeks now – since early February, in fact – I’ve been eating a big handful of these nuts every day, usually at breakfast.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Multigrain Sourdough with Sunflower & Sesame Seeds bread.

 

Trader Joe’s multigrain sourdough bread with sunflower and sesame seeds

 

I’ve posted a couple of other brands of sourdough bread here before. Trader Joe’s multigrain sourdough with sunflower and sesame seeds is one that I always go back to. Trader Joe’s makes several varieties of their sourdough (plain, whole wheat, etc.), and they’re all good, but this multigrain version is my favorite! I’ve eaten two or three slices of this bread every day since the beginning of the year, though I’m just posting it now. It goes without saying that bread is always one of my “favorite things.”

 

8). Emmy’s Organic Vanilla Bean Coconut Cookies.

 

Emmy’s Organic Vanilla Bean Coconut Cookies

 

I’m not big on dessert-type foods anymore, but I thought I’d try these “cookies” (I wouldn’t call them that, personally) because sometimes I get a hankering for chewy-sweet coconut concoctions. These are nice. They’re slightly too sweet for me, since I’m not used to sweets anymore, so I probably won’t get these again. I did enjoy them, though.

 

9). Derma-e firming DMAE Eye Lift and Moisturizer.

 

Derma-e firming DMAE Eye Lift and Moisturizer

 

I used up my daytime eye cream and moisturizer in March, so I picked these up. I use several other Derma-e products, and they’re all fabulous. These two products follow suit. I’ll definitely repurchase these! They’re vegan and cruelty-free, of course.

 

10). The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick.

I’d jokingly said that Jessica Jones inspired me to look for new lipsticks, but that was partially true. I’d been wanting to broaden my color range out from the one color I wear. I love all three shades I got from The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipstick line, and they’re all quite moisturizing, too. I love the way these feel!

This morning, I put on #240 “Damson in Distress,” a blue-toned, medium berry shade. Later, I took a selfie to show how it looked after six hours of being out, running around, talking, eating, drinking water, chewing gum, and applying colorless lip balm. I did not reapply the lipcolor. This is how the remaining lipstick looks on my bare face (I wore no other make-up today):

 

The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 240 (Damson in Distress)

 

(As usual, there’s no filter on this selfie; this is the lipcolor exactly as the daylight captured it.)

There’s just a hint of color remaining, but I love the faint stain as much as I love the lipstick when it’s freshly applied. I’d blotted it before I left, so I didn’t start the day with a heavy layer, either. This lipstick wears well, feels great, and the colors are great. They’re vegetarian and cruelty-free.

 

That’s it! I hope you all have a great month ahead.

 

Ruthless. (February Favorites!)

I’m a little embarrassed looking at this list. For being such a short month, we sure watched a lot of T.V. in February.

Of the little things that helped to brighten our days (or distract, as it were) in February, there was one stand-out vegan junk food item, and only two non-food items: a perfume and a household cleaner, of all things. No skin care on the list this time! I haven’t run out of anything, and I’m loving everything I’m currently using. I have been testing out a product, though – actually an item – so you might see that on next month’s list. I need another month with it to get a good idea of how I like it.

Back to the aforementioned T.V. escapism-fest. We didn’t catch any fight cards in February, nor was there Sumo to watch, so that left us with more screen-time for Netflix and the like. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Of the six series listed in this post, we only binge-watched three. There’s one ongoing series, and there are two complete seasons of series we just haven’t finished yet.

On with the list, then!

 

1). Black Panther

 

 

We went out to see just one movie in February, and we did well to choose this one. Black Panther  was absolutely worth the excursion. Black Panther is awesome. Its superpowers are manyfold, but mainly it’s managed to change the superhero film game, in our opinion, delivering in big, sweeping and important ways. I would have to dedicate an entire post to this film in order to begin trying to discuss my experience with it as a movie-goer. Suffice it say that we walked away feeling like we’d watched something quite profound… not at all what you’d expect when sitting down in front of a superhero flick.

 

2). Zone Blanche (T.V. series)

 

 

This thriller series stars Suliane Brahim, a French actress whose work Callaghan admires, so we thought we’d watch the pilot one night. We went from watching the pilot to binge-watching the whole season. The story’s premise might lack in originality (Silence of the Lambs kept coming to mind), but it held our interest with its mystery. Fine writing and acting had a lot to do with that.

 

3). Babylon Berlin (T.V. series)

 

 

Babylon Berlin is another intriguing and well-wrought foreign-language thriller series – this one’s German (we always watch in the original language with subtitles). We’re enjoying it, but we’re taking it one episode at a time, every few days or so. We’re finding this series to be a hefty bite; you don’t escape into mindless entertainment with this one. You escape by getting drawn into a dark and complex web of we’re not even sure what, at this point.

 

4). The End of the F*cking World (T.V. series)

 

 

Here’s one series we did binge-watch. The End of the F*cking World tells a brilliantly original, neatly-paced story of the misadventures had by two teenagers. You go along for the ride fully immersed in its weirdness, then you’re struck by the sheer poetry of its ending. I was, at least. If you’re up for a dramedy, I highly recommend this one!

 

5). Everything Sucks! (T.V. series)

 

 

We started Everything Sucks! toward the end of the month, and we’re still working on it. This is another fine coming-of-age dramedy. Heavy topics are covered with a light touch, a strategy that works to soften the blows. Youth at high-school age can be uncomfortable and often plain awful, and Everything Sucks! doesn’t let you forget that reality. I’ve done a fair amount of cringing so far, but still, I go back for more. There are a couple of stand-out young actors here whose work, alone, makes it compelling.

 

6). Imposters (T.V. series)

 

 

I’d say that Imposters is the classic escapism vehicle on this list. It’s not especially brilliant or original, but it’s entertaining enough, just light and fun. It’s one of those where you look forward to witnessing the demise of the bad guys, even though you don’t really care that much. This might make you wonder why I’ve included it on my “Favorites” list, right?! I can’t fully remember why we kept watching Imposters on consecutive nights, sometimes more than one episode per night, but watch it all the way to the end, we did. The Bumblers’ shenanigans definitely amused us. As I’d said: escapism.

 

7). Homeland (Season 7) (T.V. series)

 

 

This (7th) season of Homeland is so intense, it’s insane. It wastes no time. It grabbed us by the throat in episode 1, and it tightens with each new episode. This seventh season is my favorite so far. How could Homeland not only get better, but completely outdo itself this late in the duration of the series? The writers, that’s how.

 

Moving on to the non-entertainment “little things!”

 

8). Beanfields Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips.

 

Beanfield’s Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice chips

 

We discovered Beanfields at our neighborhood farmer’s market down the street. These chips taste as junky as you want your junk food to taste, but they offer 5g protein and 6g fiber per serving… so while they’re not exactly healthy, they do have some nutritional value. They’re vegan, of course, but you should also know that they’re gluten-free, as well; they don’t crunch in quite the same way that average chips crunch. You soon get used to this as the flavor of the chips seeps into your bloodstream where it transforms into an opioid. Kidding. Or not.

 

9). DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go.

 

DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go

 

ETA: This fragrance is vegan.

My new favorite fragrance! I found DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go on Ulta’s website and thought I’d try it. It’s available online, only. Since I was placing an order with the gift card Callaghan gave me for my birthday, it was actually a gift from him, and it worked out surprisingly well (it’s a risk, buying a fragrance without smelling it first). Callaghan loves this fragrance as much as I do. It’s light and crisp, not too sweet, and it develops well with my chemistry. On me, it has great lasting power and sillage, as well. I will be repurchasing this fragrance!

 

10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent).

 

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent)

 

I don’t know what to say about this cleaning product other than it’s more pleasant to clean when I know I’m not spraying chemicals all over the place. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner is “made with plant-derived ingredients, natural essential oils, and birch bark extract.” I use it on everything, including mirrors, and it works well! Its scent is pleasant, too, but not at all overpowering or even that noticeable.

 

That wraps it up! We’re stoked about March… it’s a Sumo month, for one thing.

Happy Tuesday, All!

First Favorites of 2018! (January Favorites)

January was interesting… it seemed to go on forever, and yet it was a great month!

Without the usual blathering, may I present some of the “little things” I enjoyed in January:

 

1). The Florida Project

 

 

You may already know how I feel about The Florida Project if you’ve read my “non-review movie review” about it. If you haven’t, and you’d like to, it’s here. We found this to be Just a wonderful film, with the best acting I’ve seen from Willem Dafoe (whose acting I’ve always enjoyed, anyway). I highly recommend it!

 

2). Sumo – January 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament (Basho)

Sumo, Japan’s national sport, is one of my favorite martial arts/combat sports to watch. There’s a Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan every other month, and we watch them all – the “Grand Sumo Highlights,” that is. There are 15 days in the tournament, and we watch each day’s Highlights (on YouTube). Some tournaments are more enjoyable than others. We didn’t much enjoy last November’s tournament, but January’s was amazing… it was probably my favorite of all the tournaments I’ve seen!

Early on in the 15-day tournament, we were impressed with the rikishi Tochinoshin – one of our favorites – when he came out looking like he’d been training hard. We rooted for him to win the championship (Emperor’s Cup), and win it, he did!

For those who don’t know, this is Tochinoshin, the first European to win a Grand Sumo Championship since 1972!!

 

Tochinoshin receiving the Emperor’s Cup (January 2018)

 

Tochinoshin is Georgian. His actual name is Levan Gorgadze.

 

Tochinoshin (January 2018 Grand Champion)

 

 

3). Glitch (T.V. series)

 

 

Thanks to Netflix, we have access to all kinds of wonderful international T.V. series, and this is the latest we’ve started. Glitch comes from Australia with a great cast and an intriguing sci-fi mystery storyline. There are two seasons so far, and we just started the second.

 

On to food…

 

4). Cherry Pie Larabars.

 

Cherry Pie Larabar

 

This is getting predictable, I know. I still enjoy those apple pie Larabars – and all the other ones I’ve written about – but cherry pie Larabars are my favorite-favorite so far. They’re tart and just barely sweet enough to be sweet, if that makes sense. I love cherries, but these bars taste more like cranberries to me. They remind me of this cranberry quick bread recipe someone in my family used to make at Christmas. Very festive, Larabar.

Cherry pie Larabars have three ingredients: dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries.

 

5). Lifelight meatless pastas (esp. Wild Mushroom Ravioli).

 

Lightlife meatless pasta (esp. wild mushroom ravioli)

 

This month’s favorite processed vegan food discovery award goes to Lightlife for their frozen meatless pastas. My favorite is the wild mushroom ravioli… so flavorful and hearty!

 

6). Baby sweet potatoes.

 

Mini sweet potatoes

 

We found that mini sweet potatoes come out creamy – buttery, even – and delicious after 20 minutes in the steamer. They’re a treat hot or cold!

 

7). Coconut yogurt bowl with berries and seeds.

 

Coconut yogurt with berries, hemp seeds, and chia seeds

 

You may have seen this on Instagram when I posted it recently. I’ve been enjoying plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt with a little bit of light agave nectar, hemp seeds and chia seeds (a heaping tablespoon of each), and whatever berries we have on hand. It’s so tasty and satisfying!

 

Products…

 

8). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil.

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil

 

Being that I’m a skin care junkie and a devotee of The Body Shop, I went a little crazy when said establishment had their Black Friday sale a few months ago. I stocked up on some favorites, and I also ordered some new products to try.

I’ve been using these Oils of Life products since the middle of December, so I’ve had some time to decide how I like them. I like them a lot, as in, “I will re-purchase before I run out” a lot. The two products I use are the facial oil (above, #8), and the night cream (below, #9).

I’ve seen mixed reviews of the Oils of Life line. Many reviewers were turned off by the products’ fragrance, saying that they thought the scent was terrible, overwhelming, or both. This seemed to be the number one complaint about this line.

I don’t mind if skin care products are scented as long as I like the scent, and I love sandalwood and other woodsy, warm notes, so the Oils of Life products appeal to me even more because they’re rich with such a fragrance. Oils of Life, to me, smell like a Buddhist temple. Or like a man who smells great. (haha)

That aside, I’m very happy with the way these products work on my skin. I use the oil twice a day and the night cream at night, of course. I put the oil on first, then layer other products over it. I use an overnight mask over the night cream.

(About the pricing: this is The Body Shop, and The Body Shop isn’t drugstore cheap, but it’s not La Mer, either.)

 

9). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream.

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream

 

(See above for the text!)

 

10). Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids).

 

Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids)

 

This product for towel-dried hair is just refreshing and pleasant. I found it in the kids’ hair care section at Target.

 

That’s it for January! Onward with the new year.

In a nutshell. (December Favorites!)

Happy New Year! I can’t say that enough. Every day since last January, 2017 showed no sign of ending anytime soon, and now, at long last, it’s over. At the same time, the year went way too fast. 2017 was the split personality of years in my life, and it leaves me excited for 2018.

I’m starting 2018 with a new approach to these “monthly favorites” posts: I’m going to answer three questions about each “little thing” on my lists, rather than writing paragraphs about them. If I have something more to say about something, I’ll devote a separate post to it. Starting now, these posts will be more visual, less blah-blah-blah.

 

1). Darkest Hour

 

 

What I liked: The acting, the direction, the musical score, the story of Dunkirk from the back end, Gary Oldman’s make-up and costume, the overall quality of the production.

What I didn’t like: It dragged slightly in some places, but not enough to lessen my regard of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you enjoy biopics.

 

2). Black Mirror (S4)  (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: Every story in every episode, the writing, the direction, impact/thought-provoking nature of the stories, the big philosophical questions raised, the overall excellence of the production.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. You might enjoy this even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi thrillers.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The writing, the acting, the costumes and set, the entertainment factor, the film’s freshness and overall excellence.

What I didn’t like: Some of the humor fell flat on me.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

4). I Love Dick (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The story, the writing, its presentation as art, its unapologetic rawness, some of the acting (mainly Kathryn Hahn’s).

What I didn’t like: Just that its IMDB rating is much lower than I’d expect it to be. In my opinion, this series is curiously underrated.

Would I recommend it? NOT TO EVERYONE. If you’d rather not see sexually explicit stories and raw, “artistic” story-telling of such material, I would not recommend.

 

5). Mom’s cooking.

 

Okara with brown rice and furikake

 

What I liked: Everything, meaning the tofu and the okara pictured above. Mom brought freshly made tofu from the little tofu place in my hometown’s J-town (Japan-town), so it was the tofu of my childhood. It’s nothing like the prepackaged tofu you get in a box in the supermarket.

Okara, by the way, is Japanese for “rubbish,” in a sense, from what I understand… as a dish, it’s the scraps leftover from the making of fresh tofu. You could buy it in bags and cook it up with dashi (Mom used plant-based dashi), seasonings, and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. It’s one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Grandma used to make it just for me!

What I didn’t like: That it was, perhaps, the last time I’d eat it. With the closing of the little family-run tofu factory (there’s no one left to take it over), fresh tofu and okara may be a thing of the past.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but this is irrelevant, of course.

 

6). Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels.

 

Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels

 

What I liked: High nutrient density in a bread that seems like a cheat-day indulgence.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve been eating one of these a day almost every day for over a month, and I’m not tired of them yet.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter.

 

Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter

 

What I liked: Peanut butter on an apple pie Larabar is as delicious as peanut butter on fresh apple slices. It’s a satisfying nutritional powerhouse of a treat.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? If the apple/peanut butter flavor combo appeals to you, then yes.

 

8). Cara Cara oranges.

 

Cara Cara oranges

 

What I liked: These beautiful red-fleshed navel oranges (they are not blood oranges) are incredibly sweet and juicy, and they have just a hint of tropical flavor.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

9). Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract).

 

Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract)

 

What I liked: This overnight mask makes my skin look more smooth in the morning. It goes on like a thick lotion that dries into a pleasant, slight tightness; it’s not sticky, as other overnight masks often are. I layer this on over my nightcream every night.

What I didn’t like: Its schoolroom fragrance (paste, maybe?) is somewhat strange, but actually, I don’t dislike it. It may be a turn-off for some people, though.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

10). OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter.

 

OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter

 

What I liked: Just that it actually works to smooth out the frizzy fly-aways all over my head, and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

The End. How’s that for succinct?

Until next time!

It’s that time again. (November Favorites!)

I’m back to share some “little things” that I enjoyed or actually loved in the last month! November brought significant “big” things to appreciate, such as visiting my family and finishing the first draft of my manuscript, but as always, this list is all about the fluff in between.

We’ve got a couple of T.V. series, a horror flick, some vegan processed (junk) food, some other edibles, and, of course, a few cruelty-free skincare products.

Without further ado, may I present…

 

1). Godless (T.V. series)

 

 

This series, in my humble opinion, is rave-worthy.

Westerns aren’t my favorite genre, but I do enjoy the genre; my all-time favorite movie – Tombstone – is a western. We thought we’d give Netflix’ new western mini-series a try. Godless did not disappoint. From its quintessential sweeping vistas to its characters who are badasses merely by virtue of existing, this one captivates for the reasons fans love westerns. One aspect that sets this western apart from others, though: in this traditionally male-dominated genre, Godless is female-dominated.

Add to this the story’s extravagant application of symbolism and metaphor (also characteristic of westerns), the quality of the production, itself, and the actors’ fine performances, and we’ve got a binge-watching hazard on our hands.

 

2). The Good Doctor (T.V. series)

 

 

Truth be told, we’re just entertained enough by The Good Doctor to keep watching it. The main attraction, for me, is Norman Bates in the lead role. I’m sorry, but hapless Freddie Highmore will always be Norman in my mind. (Bates Motel remains one of our favorite series.)

Callaghan feels the same way. While watching it, we’ll say things like, “Norman will figure it out!” and “Poor Norman is going to get blamed for this,” and “FINALLY Dr. Melendez recognizes that Norman is a genius surgeon!” Also, “But does Lea know that Norman is autistic?” because we’re rooting for Norman and Lea to become “Norman and Lea,” and the two of them are continuously confused by each other’s behavior communication-wise, and, well, you can see how this hospital drama closes in on soap opera territory at times. Maybe this explains why I’m only borderline super into The Good Doctor… generally-speaking, I don’t dig soap operas. We love Freddie Highmore’s character, though. We giggle every time he sums up his assessment with his emphatic, matter-of-fact “He’s dying” or “She’s dying” (right in front of the patient), which he does in almost every episode.

That being said, it’s Norman’s (I guess I should say “Sean’s”) personal journey and challenges that intrigue us. The Good Doctor is ultimately thought-provoking and well-wrought.

 

3). As Above, So Below

 

 

I don’t have much to say about As Above, So Below except that we enjoyed it. We’re not too discriminating when it comes to horror, especially since horror is sometimes at its most entertaining when it’s cheesy, low-budget, or just plain bad. Horror’s found-footage sub-genre is usually guilty of one or all of the above. As Above, So Below is no exception. We liked this one more than most, and definitely enough that we’d see it again.

Also, we’ve walked through those catacombs beneath Paris, and let me tell you… I believe these movie people 100% when they say that As Above, So Below was filmed down there. That the story unfolds in a familiar place made it even more creepy and entertaining.

 

4). Gardein Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes.

 

Gardein Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes

 

This is Gardein’s third consecutive appearance here. This time, it’s their crabless cakes, my friends. These little tidbits of doom are delightful. I don’t think they taste like crab, which is good if you like crab cakes that don’t taste like crab, if that makes any sense. Haha!

We bought these for my parents to try, and they liked them, too. We always find ourselves looking for more, so next time we’re in the mood for these junky, processed vegan treats, we’ll get two bags. (They’re not cheap, so they are treats.) Our preferred prep method is to bake them in the conventional oven. Oh… and they’re amazing with vegan chipotle “mayo,” in our opinion!

 

5). Simply Balanced Organic Agave Nectar Light.

 

Simply Balanced Organic Light Agave Nectar

 

I ran out of coconut sugar for my coffee and had to fall back on something else until we could get to the store. That “something else” turned out to be the unobtrusive bottle of light agave nectar we’ve had in the pantry forever. Now I remember how I used to love it! This might even be the second time I’ve featured it in a “favorites” post. For me, light agave nectar serves as a great middle ground (sweeter than coconut sugar, not as sweet as Truvia). I love its light smoothness, too.

 

6). Raw unsalted mixed nuts.

 

Raw unsalted mixed nuts

 

I love salted nuts, but in November, I cycled into my raw-unsalted phase. I leave a big jar of these mixed nuts out on the kitchen counter, and I grab a handful of them at random times… often with breakfast, actually. I’ll still have the salted nuts and seeds later in the day, so yeah, I’ve been doubling down on the mixed nuts. If you count the peanut butter I eat almost every day, it’s a triple-down. I have nothing against a daily mega-dose of healthy fats, though. They’re delicious.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar.

 

Apple Pie Larabar

 

I’ve also cycled back into a Larabar phase! Lately, I’ve been enjoying this apple pie version as a spicy-sweet refined-sugar-free alternative to fall desserts. Ingredients: dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon. That’s it. Yum.

 

8, 9, 10). Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm, and Yes to Coconut Naturally Smooth Lip Balm.

 

Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm, and Naturally Smooth Lip Balm

 

Okay, I think it’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan of this entire line of products by Yes To. I’ve already talked about (and continue to use) Yes to Coconut cleansing facial wipes and Yes to Coconut moisturizer. It’s all wonderfully rich and hydrating, and I can’t say enough about it, really. If you have dry skin like I do, then you might do well to try out the Yes To Coconut line for your skincare!

 

That’s it for November! Happy Friday, friends.

Cancelled plans, but good things, too. (October Favorites!)

In October news, nothing much happened. October was the month of cancelled plans.

We wanted to catch UFC 216 (Demetrius Johnson defending his title again!) at our usual sports bar, but it didn’t work out. We’d planned to go to a Halloween party – I even had a Harry Potter costume! – but we had to cancel. That’s right. We did nothing for Halloween. The closest I came to celebrating Halloween was going to BodyPump looking a little goth. That was it.

At the same time that nothing happened, a lot did happen. We had houseguests in October, you see, for 10 days in the middle of the month… and that was what happened. In the aftermath of their visit, we were wiped out on every level. We were compelled to hibernate.

Enough said.

Let’s get on to the little things I enjoyed in October. OH, here I must insert an apology in advance: these are not great pics. I didn’t have the wherewithal to work on getting super-good shots of anything this time. So it goes.

Starting with entertainment, as usual!

 

1). A Ghost Story

 

 

You may remember the non-review movie review I wrote about A Ghost Story. If so, you know how I feel about it. We were just as happy to watch it a second time.

 

2). Mindhunter (T.V. series)

 

The excellent Mindhunter is not your average T.V. series. It’s unusual. Words that come to mind: Vintage. Stylish. Noir. Not scary. Not glamorous. This series about the beginnings of criminal profiling in the FBI’s fledgling Behavioral Science unit first struck us as a bit awkward in its delivery, but you soon realize that this is deliberate. It works. This is a period piece, after all, and this was how T.V. looked back then.

I’ve heard people say that they had to watch two or three episodes of Mindhunter before they got into it. Our experience was that we were hooked by the end of the first episode.

 

3). Stranger Things 2 (Season 2) (T.V. series)

 

 

Is it even necessary for me to say that we loved Stranger Things 2 and it was fantastic and maybe even better than Season 1 and in our humble opinion everyone should watch it? I think not. If you’re not watching Stranger Things, then I don’t know how to help you.

 

Products!

4). Physician’s Formula Super BB cream SPF 30 (in “Light”).

 

Physician’s Formula Super BB Cream

 

Did you catch the complete name of this product? The operative words are SPF 30. I wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 cream every day, so I always have it on under my make-up, but I love a make-up product that also has sun protection. Physician’s Formula BB cream’s sun protection includes zinc oxide, which I look for in a sunscreen above other active ingredients.

It so happens that this cruelty-free product not only works as an extra layer of sunscreen, but it also wears nicely as a foundation. It works for me, at least. The color match is perfect, with the right undertone and everything, and the product is long-wearing, as well. Physician’s Formula is one of the more pricey drugstore make-up brands, but it’s still drugstore… easily accessible and not outrageously expensive. I highly recommend this product if you’re looking for a new foundation.

 

5). The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel.

 

The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel

 

The Body Shop’s 2017 holiday (limited edition) line is Frosted Plum, and – surprise, surprise! – I love it. I wasn’t expecting its pronounced pine scent; I adore pine fragrance, so this was a pleasant discovery. The vaguely sweet plum scent is detectable beneath the pine. I find this fragrance to be less sweet than the other fruity fragrances I’ve tried from The Body Shop. Callaghan loves this scent, as well. (On me, that is. He doesn’t use it.)

 

Food!

6). Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

 

Wholesome organic coconut palm sugar

 

I started sweetening my coffee with this coconut palm sugar… it’s an enjoyable change from the stevia-based product I’d been using. Coconut palm sugar is less sweet and more healthy. This was a great discovery!

 

7). Organic Honeycrisp apples.

 

Organic honeycrisp apples

 

Apple season! Honeycrisp apples are my favorites at the moment. They’re ubiquitous around here (we get them from Fry’s, but we’ve seen them everywhere), and they’re so tasty and satisfying. My fruit addiction hasn’t suffered a bit with the end of summer fruits.

 

8). Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces.

 

Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces

 

I’ve been eating walnuts the way they should be eaten, in my opinion: unsalted. My preference is always to crack whole walnuts, but time is of essence, so any brand of shelled walnut meat will do. It so happens that I picked up Simple Truth brand in October.

 

9). Gardein Meatless Meatballs.

 

Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs

 

Gardein does it again with their meatless meats! We love these “meatballs” of theirs. They’re high in protein, high in flavor, and super fast and easy to prepare.

 

10). Helpful friends at the gym.

I don’t have a pic. I just wanted to note that thanks to friends like Rawn, I’ve been able to do the leg track in BodyPump with my usual weights as I rest my tennis-elbow-compromised forearm. (I’m not doing upright rows right now, or any variation thereof. I’m finding ways to modify in the back and shoulder tracks.) I wouldn’t be able to do legs without assistance in getting the heavy barbell onto my back, and I appreciate having a buddy who’s willing to take time from our quick track-change to offer this.

 

Well, that wraps it up for October. November’s list is already filling up!