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.

 

 

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!

 

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!

T.V. series, food obsessions, and more: February Favorites!

Well so hey, it’s March. Want to know what I loved in February? I’m going to tell you.

 

1). Luther (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Luther2

 

Because Idris Elba is my boyfriend current favorite actor, and this series is awesome.

 

2). 11-22-63 (T.V. mini-series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-112263

 

Because Stephen King’s magic always thrills, no matter where a closet transports you when you walk deep into it. (And I’m not talking about Narnia.)

 

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

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-BetterCallSaulS2

 

Because honestly, we couldn’t be more impressed with a T.V. show. Season 2 of Better Call Saul is blowing our minds.

 

4). Walking to and from work again.

 

Waiting at the train tracks on the way home.

Waiting at the train tracks on the way home.

 

Because I’ve been immensely enjoying the walk (five days a week to work, and three days a week home). It adds up to roughly 16 miles per week with a heavy backpack on my back. I make it a personal challenge to always improve my time, but the time is hard to gauge because of the red light variable. Sometimes I spend up to 10 minutes waiting to cross streets, and sometimes I make all the lights and only have to wait at one. ETA: And sometimes, I have to wait for the train.

 

5). Super cheap yin-yang necklace.

 

Cheap necklace from Claire's.

Cheap necklace from Claire’s.

 

Because I wandered into Claire’s across from the vision place in the mall where Callaghan was trying on new glasses, and this yin-yang necklace caught my eye. It was six bucks. I love it.

 

6). Cetirizine, aka “Zyrtec” (allergy medication).

 

Ceterizine antihistamine is everything.

Ceterizine antihistamine is everything.

 

Because this antihistamine allows me to breathe in the gorgeous scent of orange blossoms in the air, which is to say, ALL the air. My daily stomping grounds are currently orange-blossom-scent-saturated, and thanks to Ceterizine, it’s all appreciation, no sneezing.

If you’re like me and you’re allergic to every species of pollen on the earth as well as on all the other planets in our solar system, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You can get cetirizine/Zyrtec over the counter at any drugstore. I happen to get mine as a prescription.

 

7). Beanitos.

 

Beanitos chips

Beanitos chips

 

Because we tried these chips on a whim, and now we’re obsessed. I don’t use that word lightly. We seriously love these chips. They’re mainly made of beans, and there’s some rice and sunflower and/or safflower oil, guar bean gum (gotta have some kind of b.s. in there to keep them crisp), and sea salt. They’re high in protein, fiber, and iron, and they’re delicious. They’re awesome with guacamole. The original black bean one is my favorite.

 

8). Cookies.

 

Cookies from Trader Joe's. Yes, they're vegan.

Cookies from Trader Joe’s. Yes, they’re vegan.

 

Because there are too many cookies, and someone’s got to eat them.

I know that eating lots of refined carbs isn’t the best thing for the body, but I’ve been eating sugar pretty much constantly since the beginning of this year, and other than the occasional zit, nothing bad has happened. When a painful eruption happens on my face, I stop eating sugar until it goes away. Then I start again. Haha.

Trader Joe’s has some of my favorite packaged vegan cookies. I’m still eating the vegan cookies, doughnuts, and chocolate-chip scones from the Whole Foods bakery (as well as dark chocolate and tsoynamis from Green), but cookies are an essential of life.

Other than sweets, though, I do avoid refined carbs. I only eat whole wheat/grain pasta and bread, sweet potatoes (except for french fries every now and again), and brown rice – not the white kinds of all of that.

 

9). 365 brand pasta sauce.

 

365 Organic tomato basil pasta sauce

365 Organic tomato basil pasta sauce

 

With pasta always and forever being my favorite food group, and rarely having time to really cook (plus always wanting to cook other things than sauce when I do have time), this sauce means a lot to me. We like to joke that Whole Foods is Whole Paycheck, but the fact of the matter is that 365, their generic brand, has a lot to offer at surprisingly reasonable prices. This pasta sauce is simple, organic, vegan, and tasty. I thicken it up with a generous amount of nutritional yeast and add dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and a little sea salt, and it’s marvelous. We also get Whole Foods’ 365 brand pasta. We eat pasta at least twice a week, on average, so this stuff is important.

 

10).  Pears.

 

Pears

Pears

 

Because I love fruit, and the pears are wonderful these days. I don’t know if these are Anjou pears or Bartlett pears – they’re next to each other in the store, and we grab pears from both without looking at the labels (they pretty much look the same) – but it doesn’t matter. It’s all good.

The season of my favorite foods that grow on bushes or trees is upon us! Hello, hefty artichokes and fresh pineapple every day.

2015 Favorites!

Today, instead of “December Favorites,” I’m diving right into my top favorite little things (some not so little!) of the year that just ended. These are my favorites of the favorites… if some of them are from December, you wouldn’t have seen them here before.

If you’re curious or you just enjoy these “Favorites” posts, read on! Here are the things I loved the most in 2015:

1). Favorite cruelty-free skin care products: Burt’s Bees coconut & pear moisturizing lip balm, The Body Shop camomile waterproof eye and lip make-up remover, The Body Shop honey & oat 3-in-1 scrub mask, Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 face cream, Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter eye treatment, Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial cleanser pore purifying pineapple enzyme, and Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial scrub pore purifying pineapple enzyme.

2). Favorite T.V. series: Empire, The Affair, American Crime, Better Call Saul, Hannibal, The Good Wife, American Horror Story: Hotel, Jessica Jones, Modern Family, Scream Queens, and Master of None.

3). Favorite films: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Southpaw, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Bridge of Spies, Creed, The Revenant, Soaked in Bleach (documentary), and Tyke Elephant Outlaw (documentary).

4). Favorite cruelty-free cosmetics: Too Faced Born This Way foundation in Nude, e.l.f. Essential volumizing & defining mascara (black), Burt’s Bees 100% natural lip crayon in Redwood Forest, e.l.f. High Definition powder in Shimmer, Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage concealer in Light Neutral, and Flower by Kenzo l’Elixer (perfume).*

5). Favorite foods: Dave’s Killer Organic Bread in 100% whole wheat, Arrowhead Mills organic buckwheat pancake & waffle mix, any natural no-added-B.S. creamy peanut butter, Lara fruit and nut bars, fresh pineapple, fresh artichokes, pasta with garlic and olive oil, and Sting ‘n’ Linger habanero salsa.

6). Favorite random thing: New footwear for the gym… Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes.

7). Favorite random events: Setting up our home gym in the garage, adopting our little girl kitty Nenette, going to Drag Bingo, and plastering my (work) Mac with a Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat Riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex laptop sticker.

2015 Highlights: Outfitting our garage as a home gym in January and adopting Nenette on the 4th of July were definitely high points!

*****

Four images and a video clip:

We’re enjoying our home gym immensely now that it’s not 110 degrees. The heat kept us out of the garage all summer. This year, we have a plan for making the space tolerable during the hot months, so we won’t have to stop training in there for so long.

 

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

 

(I’ll go into more home gym detail in a future post!)

Meanwhile, Nenette says, “Don’t breed or buy while homeless animals die. Adopt a pet and save a life.”

 

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

 

What really happened to Kurt Cobain? The makers of Soaked in Bleach lay it all out. They don’t draw a conclusion, but the evidence, if it is what they say it is, is damning. This excellent documentary reveals details surrounding Cobain’s death that shocked us, quite frankly. I highly recommend this film, even if you don’t know or care about Kurt Cobain or Nirvana or music.

 


thatasianlookingchick.com-soaked-in-bleach_from_live-metal-dot-net

 

The final episode of Hannibal was glorious…

 

Maybe the most beautiful scene I've ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

Maybe the most beautiful scene I’ve ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

 

And The Affair? Its opening sequence’s images paired with the music and lyrics of Fiona Apple’s song (“Container,” which she wrote specifically for The Affair) become increasingly spooky and suggestive of clues as the story develops. By the middle of Season 2, we found ourselves replaying the opening from time to time, stopping and starting to search the images for answers. It’s haunting. It gives me chills. I love it.

 

 

(Don’t even get me started on Maura Tierney’s great performance, especially when she sings Lucinda Williams’ “Changed the Locks” in S2, Episode 4.)

HOWEVER, if I had to pick just ONE series as my current number one favorite, I’d have to say it’s Empire. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love it, too, or you’ll at least see where I’m coming from. And Taraji P. Henson as Cookie is phenomenal.

 

*Kenzo’s perfumes aren’t tested on animals, and I’m glad because this perfume I’m wearing now was a gift. I adore the fragrance. I wouldn’t want it to collect dust.

What I’m Digging Right Now – February Favorites

February – the month of Valentine’s, Callaghan’s birthday, new-to-me discoveries and other things I want to share with you!

Usually I start with entertainment, so let’s change it up and get right into it with food this time.

 

1). Kind Healthy Grains Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds (cereal).

 

Kind Healthy Grains Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds (with assorted fresh berries and almond milk)

Kind Healthy Grains Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds
(with assorted fresh berries and almond milk)

 

Since the beginning of February, this cereal has been my go-to evening snack on the evenings I want one, and I always have it just the way you see it in the picture… a third of a cup (one serving) covered in fresh berries and moistened with almond milk. We just picked up another bag. I like it because it’s not too sweet – in fact, it’s just barely sweet – and it’s super crunchy. This is a favorite that’s going to be a favorite for a while, methinks.

 

2). Mediterranean chopped salad (with added tofu) at True Food Kitchen.

 

Mediterranean chopped salad at True Food Kitchen.  I remembered to take this pic after I ate maybe a quarter of it. SO GOOD.

Mediterranean chopped salad at True Food Kitchen.
I remembered to take this pic after I ate maybe a quarter of it. SO GOOD.

 

Here we have my official new salad obsession, guys, and I don’t use the word “obsession” lightly! This salad is a flavor stand-out as well as a nutritional powerhouse with its greens, cucumber, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, feta, sprouted almonds, and lemon oregano vinaigrette. (You can ask them to hold the feta if you’re going for a vegan option. For me, it’s a rare vegan exception.) I add tofu to boost the quinoa’s protein, and it’s out of this world. One of the principles of True Food Kitchen is to use what’s in season, so the last time we went (Sunday, when I took the picture) there were green beans in the salad, as well. IT IS SO GOOD. So, so, so good. I can’t even tell you. If you ever find yourselves in the vicinity of a True Food Kitchen, go there and try this salad. You’re welcome.

Now that I’ve raved about food, let’s move on to entertainment!

 

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

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-bettercallsaul

 

AT LAST! The series Breaking Bad fans have been waiting for finally aired its premiere, but you don’t have to have watched Breaking Bad in order to get it. The story of Saul Goodman’s legal career and persona evolution tells itself with no reliance on the BB laurels. We’re enjoying it even more than we’d thought we would.

 

4). Kingsman: The Secret Service (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-kingsmanthesecretservice

 

As in January, we only went out to the movies once in February, and only because there was a particular movie whose impending release kept us on edge for ages, it seemed. We went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service. I’m thrilled to say that it handily exceeded our expectations, offering up a caper of magnificent exuberance and cloaked in strategically overwrought, finely-sharpened darkness featuring great characters played by a great cast. Kingsman was action-packed, absurd in the best of ways, hilarious and just all-around entertaining in exactly the fashion you want your comic book action flick to be. The writing was terrific; many of the lines of dialogue surprised us. I’m not going to provide any spoilers here, so you’ll have to go see it for yourselves, if you’re into that sort of thing!

This brings me to a random favorite of the month:

 

5). The 4th workout.

 

My woman cave! That South Korean flag was handed down to me by my Tae Kwon Do master before he moved out of state many years ago. After traveling all over the place with me, it's finally found a wall on which to hang.

My woman cave! That South Korean flag was handed down to me by my Tae Kwon Do master before he moved out of state many years ago. After traveling all over the place with me, it’s finally found a wall on which to hang.

 

Awesome “little thing” number five is the fourth workout I’ve incorporated into my weekly routine.

I’ve been enjoying the training area we carved out in our garage, and in February, I made sure to get in there at least once a week (I aspire to adding another day somehow, but this is a good start)! Being the creature of habit that I am, it quickly became a Sunday thing. If you’ll remember, it all sprung from the arrival of the WaveMaster heavy bag that Callaghan got me for Christmas. I think I started working out here toward the end of January, having been delayed due to illness, but it really took off as a regular thing in February.

Every week, I look forward to my training session in the garage as much as I look forward to our three Body Combat classes at the gym. Though I mix it up and never do the same workout twice, the main elements are always cardio, stretching, abs, shadow boxing, and bag-work. As for the particulars of what I do, I just go with whatever I feel like doing. I don’t go in at the same time every Sunday, and I don’t time my workouts… sometimes I do a short session (20-30 minutes), sometimes longer (up to an hour). I have goals for the year, though, one of which is to find someone who can hold pads to come over and train with me!

Moving on to another totally random favorite thing:

 

6). Overseas, online pharmacy: InHousePharmacy.vu

 

Our latest delivery for Ronnie James (aka the Wrah-Wrah) from InHousePharmacy.com

Our latest delivery for Ronnie James (aka the Wrah-Wrah) from InHousePharmacy.com

 

I may have mentioned this pharmacy before, in passing, but I want to provide details now because we’re so happy with the service we get from it!

When we started treating the Wrah-Wrah for his pulmonary health challenges, I researched pharmacy options and found 4CornersPharmacy.com, which recently became InHousePharmacy.vu. The “vu” domain stands for Vanuatu, the country from which the medications are shipped. Yes, we get Ronnie James’ Albuterol/Ventolin inhaler and his steroid inhalers from a tiny island in the South Pacific. Online pharmacies can be sketchy, so I first vetted it as thoroughly as I could online, then we asked our vet about it, and then we showed her the goods once our first order arrived. She approved.

InHousePharmacy.vu’s customer service is outstanding; they’re extremely efficient and professional, and they offer FREE SHIPPING to the United States (and maybe to other places… I don’t know). We’ve been using this pharmacy for about five months now, and we’re very satisfied with it, so I figured I ought to share!

On that note, I’ll finish this list with a few of the new cosmetic and skin-care products I’m loving that aren’t tested on animals, since transitioning to cruelty-free beauty products was the biggest of my New Year’s resolutions….

 

7). Milani Color Statement lipstick in 26 (Nude Crème).

 

Milani Color Statement lipstick in 26 (Nude Crème)

Milani Color Statement lipstick in 26 (Nude Crème)

 

I’ve never been a nude lip color person – I’ve always gravitated toward deeper red and berry shades, or darker neutrals – but on my quest to try all new things for the sake of the animals, I thought I’d venture out of my colorful comfort zone. Milani’s 26 (Nude Crème) is the lightest shade in their Color Statement line, and it’s the only nude lip color I’ve ever felt comfortable wearing. Callaghan was the first to give his approval (very important!), and then I got some compliments on it from friends at work, so I’m convinced! I love the lipstick’s formula, too. It feels nice, it wears well, and it also reapplies well, so it gets bonus points for that. I like it so much that I’ll probably pick up a few of my more typical colors at some point. I find Milani products at CVS.

 

8). Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eye Pencil (in zero).

 

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eye Pencil (in zero)

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eye Pencil (in zero)

 

I can’t believe it took a New Year’s resolution to go cruelty-free for me to find my Holy Grail lower-lash eyeliner. I’d been using one by Stila, which had been better than the Revlon one I’d used for years before that, and I just figured it wasn’t possible for eyeliners to wear really well under the eye for extended periods of time. Then I made this resolution and sprang for Urban Decay’s 24/7 eye pencil in the color “zero” (black), and wow! I’m so impressed. It’s creamy and easy to apply, and it literally wears the same ALL DAY. On the downside, it’s Urban Decay, so it’s pricey, and its creaminess means that you have to sharpen it often (it wears down quickly). I just repurchased it, even though I’m not done with the first one yet. It’s one of those things that’s worth the cost. I like an intense eye, anyway, so it’s worth it to me!

 

9). Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer (in light neutral).

 

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer (in light neutral) (Black negligee from Victoria's Secret)

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer (in light neutral)
(Black negligee from Victoria’s Secret)

 

(I couldn’t resist using my black negligee as the stage for Urban Decay’s “naked” concealer. Just work with my sense of humor here.

Aaand yeah, while I was at the Urban Decay display, I picked up this (gulp) ridiculously expensive concealer. This whole high-end cosmetic stuff is atypical of me, by the way. I’m a drugstore makeup kind of person, but after successfully replacing 95% of my cosmetics with outstanding, inexpensive drugstore cruelty-free products – I think I might focus an entire future blog post on the glories of e.l.f. – I was once again just down to the eyeliner and the concealer. (Usually when I splurge on expensive stuff at Ulta, it’s for eyeliners and concealers.)

This concealer goes on as a silky liquid, but as soon as you pat it in, it somehow vanishes while covering what it needs to cover. It’s an invisible concealer that actually conceals, and the formula is simply magic. I can’t describe it. I’m not a beauty blogger. But I can tell you my opinion: this concealer is worth the expense.

(Yes, I know that Urban Decay’s parent company is L’Oreal, indisputably the worst offender in the cosmetics animal-testing industry, but Urban Decay products themselves are not tested on animals. Urban Decay makes the Leaping Bunny list of cruelty-free brands.)

And finally, we have a skin care product!

 

10). Acure Day Cream (for normal to dry skin).

 

Acure Day Cream (for normal to dry skin)

Acure Day Cream (for normal to dry skin)

 

I’m pretty much there with cosmetics, but I’m nowhere near the point of finding all the good, affordable cruelty-free skincare items I need to find. However, it’s only March. I’m taking my time. I have a year to fulfill my resolution (I still have to find cruelty-free hair products, too)! I did discover this moisturizer, though, and I really love it. It wears well under my sunscreen, and it has a fresh, natural citrus scent.

Some text on the packaging:

“gotu kola stem cell + 1% chlorella growth factor – firm, hydrate, restore – clinical collagen + hyaluronic support”

And the text on the box further informs that the moisturizer is organic, vegan, and free of silicone, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, gluten, petroleum and PEG. It’s cruelty-free, it won’t clog pores, and it’s 100% biodegradable.

I’m not going to question any of that. I’m just going to go with it. This moisturizer can be found at Target, so it’s affordable, and there are other products in the same line, so I predict (I hope!) you’ll find other Acure favorites here as the year goes on!

That’s it for February! Thank you for reading, as always!

SAY MY NAME: Victor Heisenberg.

We were talking about the highly anticipated Breaking Bad spin-off television series Better Call Saul the other day, Callaghan and I, and that got me thinking about French actor Jean Reno. Why?

I’m going to tell you.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with Luc Besson’s film La Femme Nikita and/or that T.V. series Breaking Bad, no worries! All you have to do to be engaged here is examine the image below and note that I’m not crazy. In the image, I compare a photo of La Femme Nikita’s Victor le Nettoyeur (Victor the Cleaner) to Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg. See, I have a theory about these two shadowy fictional characters (who happen to be two of my favorite shadowy fictional characters in recent pop culture history).

This is my theory: the persona of Heisenberg is a tribute to Victor le Nettoyeur.

We met Victor le Nettoyeur in La Femme Nikita back in 1990. Anyone remember him? The guy who’s called to the scene of Nikita’s job gone awry, announces himself as “the Cleaner,” then goes on to make an (ironically) atrocious mess? He’s only in the movie for about ten minutes, but within those ten minutes, he manages to steal the show in a gruesome display of dubious decision-making. I, for one, have been an ardent Jean Reno fan ever since.

Here’s a clip, but –

**WARNING! This scene from La Femme Nikita is violent and gory, so don’t watch if it’s not for you!**

…just go directly to 2:10 and watch Jean Reno as he utters two words:

 

 

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR.”

(I was looking for a three-second clip that just featured him saying that, but alas, I could only find full scenes.)I think it’s a riot how he introduces himself with such gravitas!

20 years later, we meet Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. Now here’s that side-by-side of the two:

 

"VICTOR, NETTOYEUR" on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

How could this be a coincidence?

The attire. The facial hair. The hats. The villainous demeanor and quirks. The most dramatic difference between the two is Heisenberg’s updated sunglasses style.

If that isn’t convincing enough, consider this:

–In 1990, “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” dumps corrosive acid on bodies (one of them not quite dead, as it turns out) in a bathtub.

–In 2008, Walter White orders the disposal of a body using acid, and that disposal also happens in a bathtub (though Jesse chose the bathtub against Walt’s instructions) – and two years later, in 2010 (exactly 20 years post-“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR”), Walter’s become the fearsome Heisenberg, who has since established as protocol the usage of acid for body-disposal purposes in (plastic) tubs.

I don’t know about you, but I find there’s something more than a little Victoresque about Heisenberg… and I think that to use Victor le Nettoyeur as inspiration for Heisenberg was a genius move and a marvelous tribute. Well done, Vince Gilligan! Well done.

So that’s what I was thinking the other day as we were talking about the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Incidentally, I’d rather call Saul than “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR,” though I’d call Jean Reno, himself, any day. Just sayin.’