The hilarity, insanity, and deliciousness of it all. (May Favorites!)

I’m keeping this short, but it’s very sweet. Clearly, my favorite little things about May were T.V. series, movies, and FOOD.

 

1). Empire (T.V. series) S2 finale: “Past is Prologue”

 

Cookie in Empire's S2 finale (Past is Prologue)

Cookie in Empire’s S2 finale (Past is Prologue)

 

Because this season finale, written by Lee Daniels (who created the show and produces it too, I think), was a fine example of spectacular hysteria. Empire managed to out-shenanigan itself with this one, and we loved it. I mean, just look at Cookie in that outfit!

 

2). Blindspot (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Blindspot

 

 

Because it’s a binge-worthy mystery/thriller/spy show, and we are enthralled. Why did it take us a year to happen upon this one?

 

3). The Nice Guys (film)

 

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Because I would totally see it again.

 

4). Captain America: Civil War (film)

 

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Because I enjoy superhero movies with controversial endings. Personally, this is my favorite of the series. I should’ve written about it on its own, but suffice it to say, I loved this movie.

 

5). SuperStarch (UCAN).

 

SuperStarch (UCAN)

SuperStarch (UCAN)

 

Because, as you may recall I’d written (when I waxed enthusiastic about SuperStarch in this recent Garage Gym workout post), this product is a game-changer.

 

6). The veggie roll at Yogis Grill.

 

Veggie Roll at Yogis Grill

Veggie Roll at Yogis Grill

 

Because usually, I’m lucky if I can get a vegetarian sushi roll at all, much less one that’s anything more than cucumbers and carrots. I can’t begin to describe the deliciousness of the veggie roll at Yogis Grill. It’s plump with avocado, drizzled in sauce, and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and you do not think to yourself, “I’m eating raw cucumbers and carrots wrapped in rice.” Neither do you think to yourself, “I’m eating raw fish.” This is a win-win if you want sushi but you’re a vegetarian or a person who doesn’t like raw fish.

 

7). Cherries (and other stone fruits).

 

Fresh cherries

Fresh cherries

 

Because it’s the season of stone fruits, and they’re my favorites: cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums… if there’s a stone in it, I love it. This 8-lb box of perfect Bing cherries arrived early in May courtesy of my Dad, who went to pick them the day the orchard opened to the public in Brentwood, California. Yes, I’m spoiled.

 

8). Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy ice cream (coffee caramel fudge).

 

Ben & Jerry's Coffee Caramel Fudge - dairy-free

Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Caramel Fudge – dairy-free

 

Because coffee caramel fudge is my dream flavor combination, and this one is dairy-free. FULL DISCLOSURE: I had some dairy ice cream a few weeks ago, and I regretted it immediately on all the levels, including the taste level. This concoction of Ben & Jerry’s is to die for. And yes, it’s creamy and rich. DO RECOMMEND.

 

9). Biena Chickpea Snacks with sea salt.

 

Biena Chickpea Snacks with sea salt

Biena Chickpea Snacks with sea salt

 

Because sometimes, I just want a small handful of something tasty, salty, and crunchy… but not nutrient-empty. A serving of these gives you 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber with 0 sugar, 0 cholesterol, 8% iron, and only 4 grams of fat. Oh, and 18 grams of carbs, if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. Anyway, these are nutritious and awesome, and you should try them.

 

10). Eureka! Seeds the Day bread.

 

Eureka! Seeds the Day.

Eureka! Seeds the Day.

 

Because Dave’s Killer Bread is fabulous, but it’s more expensive than Eureka! and honestly, we like Eureka! better. We like its nutrition panel better and its flavor/texture better. Seeds the Day rules.

 

The End.

 

What I’m Digging Right Now – July Favorites

Is it just me, or did July come and go at the speed of light? I hardly recognized it was July before it was over! I don’t even know what happened there! Well, I guess I do. A lot happened in July. We enjoyed and cherished the blessing of priceless moments with family, friends, and our new kitty, Nenette, but I’m glad to take this moment to dwell on the Little Things that helped to make the month awesome.

Jumping right in…

1). Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (novels by Stephen King)

 

Stephen King novels - always a good time!

Stephen King novels – always a good time!

 

How did the existence of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes escape me for a whole year? Finders Keepers came to my attention when it became available this summer, but it wasn’t until then that I learned about Mr. Mercedes, which precedes Finders Keepers. On the up side, discovering the two books at the same time meant that I got to indulge in some delicious Stephen King binge reading. I heartily enjoyed the stories and characters in these novels, along with the technical surprises of them… they’re more thriller than horror, and King’s writing style departs from his usual, as well… but they’re not lacking in his usual flair. No matter how he writes, I’m always left wanting more. Such is the genius of Stephen King.

 

2). Southpaw (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawMoviePoster

 

Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in this film is brilliant. It’s exciting to think that his superb portrayal of boxer Billy Hope, a role of a sort he’s never taken on before, might lead to an even broader selection of projects. He had nothing to prove in the first place, but now that we know he’s solid action flick material, we hope to see him turn up in more places we wouldn’t have expected.

 

3). The Body Shop’s Honeymania (fragrance).

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

 

When I made the commitment to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, I started experimenting with fragrances from The Body Shop. You know I love their beautiful Madagascar Vanilla scent, but I found that I’m even more enamored with Honeymania. On me, this fragrance works better than the former in terms of staying power and sillage, and it’s gorgeous, presenting, with my particular chemistry, like wildflowers with a subtle note of honey underneath. Other people love it when they smell it on me, too, which is always a good thing! I keep the body butter on my desk at work so my friends there can enjoy it, too.

 

4). Alba Botanica Very Emollient sunless tanner.

 

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

 

This pic is supposed to show how the color from Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient sunless tanner develops on my legs, the only place I put the stuff. I’m aware that my legs still look pale. That’s because they’re very pale in their natural state! Like many mixed chicks, I’m two-toned, with varying shades and textures of skin on different body parts. My face and legs are pale with thin skin that burns rather than tans, while the skin on my neck, arms, torso and back is thicker and tans easily. Every summer, my neck and arms turn brown no matter what I do, so I like to do a little self-tanning on my legs just to even things out a bit.

I like the way this cruelty-free sunless tanner works, but my favorite thing about it is the surprising way that it smells. Inexplicably… this is a self-tanning lotion we’re talking about, remember… this product smells like a scrumptious, baked treat. Callaghan and I have been trying to identify it, and it’s been driving us crazy, as we can’t quite figure it out. It’s a familiar scent, kind of buttery and caramelesque, but… not quite. It’s a mystery. It’s awesome.

 

5). Naturtint Naturally Better permanent hair color in 5G (Light Golden Chestnut).

 

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

 

Here’s another cruelty-free product that, because of what it is, has no business wafting a delicious food scent into your nostrils. This hair color actually smells like anise! This is a permanent hair dye. It smells like anise, not like chemicals. Amazing! The shade I use is beautiful, too. The color comes out rich and multi-dimensional, and it lasts longer than the product I was using before. Like the Honeymania fragrance, others have noticed; I’ve never received compliments on my hair color before I started using this one. In every respect, this hair color is superior to any I’ve ever used… and I never would have found it had I not gone cruelty-free.

 

6). Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask.

 

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

 

I’m missing my beloved Epielle sheet masks much less now, thanks to this product from Freeman. My explorations into the realm of cruelty-free facial masks led me to their Golden Grain Brightening Mask, which is unlike anything I’ve used before.

Formulated with vitamin C to brighten the skin and even out discoloration, the product comes out of the tube looking and feeling like clear hair gel. I eyed it warily at first, but there’s nothing even remotely unpleasant about it. The mask spreads over your skin like watery silk, not the slightest bit sticky. It’s good for dry skin, but it’s not oily or greasy. It’s thick, but it goes on feeling hydrating. If water came in gel form, it would be like this. I love its fresh, clean herbal scent, too, which is just as important!

I leave the mask on five minutes longer than recommended, and it never feels tight, dry or otherwise uncomfortable. The entire experience of this mask is pleasant and relaxing. I use it interchangeably with Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask, which is more like your traditional clay mask. I’ve said that I’d never go back to masks that harden on your skin and require work to remove, but my skin likes a variety of masks (when I was using the Epielle sheet masks, I alternated between four different formulas), so I re-thought that when I began my cruelty-free adventure. The Dead Sea Minerals mask by Freeman is a great one, as well.

Now that I’ve talked about products that smell like food… fragrance that smells of honey, self-tanning lotion that smells of a buttery-sweet dessert, and hair color that smells of anise… let’s talk about actual food!

 

7). Cherries.

 

Fresh sweet cherries!

Fresh sweet cherries!

 

It appears that I have a tendency to find things I love and then proceed to eat them to excess all month long. This probably isn’t the best idea, especially when the food in question tends to give me digestive issues! I’ve always had a mild sensitivity to cherries, but they’re my favorite fruit, so I eat them with abandon when they’re in season, regardless. I ate tons of cherries in July and didn’t regret a single one.

 

8). Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.

 

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

 

This is my all-time favorite dish, and it so happened that I married the person who makes it the best, in my opinion! Callaghan’s pasta with garlic and olive oil is sublime. Of course, I grind more sea salt onto my plate than anyone should eat in a sitting, probably, but I love this dish on the saltier side. There’s just something about the combination of garlic and salt. We like to eat the pasta first and then distribute the minced garlic and olive oil (left at the bottom of the pasta bowls) over toasted whole wheat bread spread with Earth Balance. Fantastic garlic bread!

We eat this year-round – it’s one of our staple meals – but we went a little crazy with it in July. We started out the month with four pounds of whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry, and by the end of the month, we’d eaten it all. We’ll never get tired of it.

 

9). Sprouts’ Vegan Super Fruit muffins.

 

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

 

We found these muffins in Sprouts’ bakery, and we enjoyed them all through July. These are not your standard, oversized muffins, bloated with sugar and bad fats. These are delicious and just perfect. They’re large, but not two-servings huge, and they’re light and not too sweet. The fruit in them balances the flavor with a nice tang. I wish Sprouts existed outside of Arizona so you could all try them!

ETA: I just checked their web site and saw that new locations are coming to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia! Sprouts is finally branching out of the Land of AZ. Move over, Whole Paycheck!

 

10). Clif bar in Nuts & Seeds.

 

Clif's new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

Clif’s new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

 

Like the muffins, the new Nuts & Seeds Clif bar isn’t as sweet as you’d expect. I still love their Sierra Trail Mix bar, but this one’s my new favorite! I usually enjoy half a bar as weekday workout fuel. You can’t go wrong with a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.

That’s it for July’s Little Things… my list for August is already filling up, and we’re only three days into it!

What I’m Digging Right Now – May Favorites

May was a long month that brought a slew of healthy challenges. (If there isn’t already a book called The Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Month of Houseguests, I might write one.) May was also fun, satisfyingly busy, and rife with “little things” that provoked delight. I actually had to decide which ones to feature here! I doubled some up, so the 10-item list below really contains 13 things. Let’s start with…

1). New reading glasses.

 

Animal print reading glasses in the shadows

Animal print reading glasses in the shadows

 

Before we went to California for Memorial Day weekend, I went shopping for a summer hat for Mom and ended up walking out of Steinmart with two hats for her and these reading glasses for myself, because seriously, who am I to pass on a pair of animal print reading glasses?

It’s great knowing my prescription, by the way. This purchase was a no-brainer, and in fact, I was hardly responsible… the display of animal print glasses pulled me toward it, and all I had to do was find the ones marked +1.25.  I actually needed a pair, though (my rickety old ones fall off my face when I look down).

 

2). Snapea Crisps Harvest Snaps.

 

Snapea Crisps! SO GOOD.

Snapea Crisps! SO GOOD.

 

Snapea Crisps are an old favorite of mine I re-discovered when we got back to the States. At some point during the month of May, they became a staple in our kitchen. They’re as satisfying as potato chips, but they’re baked rather than fried (0 trans fats, 0 cholesterol), and they carry nutritional value… one lightly-salted serving gives you 5g protein, 4g fiber, 230 mg potassium, 6% calcium and 8% iron. I always count out an exact serving of 22 pieces, because if I don’t, I’d probably consume the whole bag in one sitting.

Nutritional density notwithstanding, I know it’s unhealthy to snack on crispy, salty little things in front of the T.V. – we are aware, and we do try to keep it to a minimum. But… you know. Some things just go together beautifully. Rock stars and models.  Desert and rain. Snapea Crisps and Mad Men.

 

3). Artichokes and cherries.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-artichokes

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-cherries

 

It so happens that two of my favorite varieties of edible flora come into season in May!

When I bring home artichokes, I keep it simple, boiling them with a bit of olive oil and salt and eating them with grape-seed oil Veganaise. Prepared in this manner, the artichoke becomes a glorious magic carpet that carries me off into a cloud of gustatory euphoria. Forget food porn. The artichoke is nature’s Demerol. We’re still indulging, as they’re having a long season this year.

As for the cherries, they ripened earlier than usual this year in the California orchards… they’re technically more a June fruit than May. Dad took us cherry-picking when we were there with Callaghan’s father, though, so they made it onto the list. We brought home heaps of lovely Brooks and Rainer cherries. Like the Snapea Crisps, I have to ration them out when I start eating them, because I will OD on them (if you’ve ever OD’d on cherries, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s not pretty).

 

4). Clif Mojo Dark Almond Cherry Trail Mix bar and Cascadian Farms Organic Peanut Protein Bar.

 

My new favorite energy and protein bars... and a weird fruit that seems to be a mutant kumquat.

My new favorite energy and protein bars… and a weird fruit that seems to be a mutant kumquat.

 

Yet more food!

You know I’m always on the hunt for perfect energy and protein bars, “perfect” meaning simple, delicious and balanced. In May, I discovered the Clif Mojo Dark Almond Cherry Trail Mix bar and the Cascadian Farms Organic Peanut Protein bar, and they are fantabulous both pre- and post-workout. Anytime, in fact.

 

Now, let’s talk skincare products…

5). Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Aging Eye Treatment.

 

Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Aging Eye Treatment

Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Aging Eye Treatment

 

I ran out of eye cream in May, so I thought I’d get one I hadn’t tried yet. I picked up the Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Aging Eye Treatment, and it quickly became a favorite. It appears to have a tint of color, but it doesn’t… it’s slightly brightening, and it actually reminds me a lot of Clinique’s All About Eyes (it’s similar in color, and it has the same light, velvety texture and feel on the skin). I put it on twice a day, in the morning and at night. I’m definitely going to re-purchase it once this one’s finished!

 

6). Garnier Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil (for dry skin).

 

Garnier Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil

Garnier Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil

 

I used to use olive oil on my face at night, so when I came across this new cleansing oil from Garnier last month, I thought I’d try it out. The verdict? Love it. It’s light yet rich with jojoba and macadamia nut oils, it smells nice, and it just feels good when I work it into my skin. Now, that part of my nighttime routine is less about removing my makeup and more about my face getting massage therapy. I rinse the oil off with water and follow it up with my normal nighttime cleanser (I’m currently using one by Simple).

 

7). Victoria’s Secret VS Fantasies fragrances in Sensual Blush and Amber Romance.

 

Victoria’s Secret VS Fantasies fragrances in Sensual Blush and Amber Romance

Victoria’s Secret VS Fantasies fragrances in Sensual Blush and Amber Romance

 

May brought warmer weather that I interpreted as an excuse to get a new fragrance. Walking by a Victoria’s Secret one day, I impulsively went in and tested every scent in their VS Fantasies collection on every available square inch of skin on both my arms until I couldn’t smell anything anymore. In the end, I decided to go with Sensual Blush (I got both the fragrance mist and the ultra-hydrating hand and body cream) and Amber Romance (the eau de toilette). I layer them, and the combination is sensational!

 

8). Chihuly in the Garden

When I realized that artist Dale Chihuly had returned to the Desert Botanical Gardens to show his work again – I’d gone with a friend to see his exhibit there a few years back – I had to seize the opportunity, and it was an excellent circumstance that one of our houseguests was with us at the time. Chihuly in the Garden was quite an unusual treat for a visitor from France! Spring in the desert is magnificent as it is, with all the cactuses in bloom… add the installation of Chihuly’s colorful glass sculptures amongst the desert flora, and you find yourself in a place of sheer alien beauty. It’s like springtime on another planet.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Chihuly2014_1

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Chihuly2014_2

 

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9). Chef (film)

 

chef-movie-poster-2014

 

We loved, loved, loved this movie! We loved everything about it… the story, the writing, the cast, the humor. It’s a comedy, and it’s incredibly well-done. I’m not in the business of writing film reviews, so all I’ll say about Chef is GO SEE IT!

 

10).  Evernote

 

Evernote-730x730

 

Ooh, online organizational tools!!

Yeah, I know. But what can I say. I had to start using it for work, and now I’m a card-carrying Evernote nerd with a paid subscription for a personal account (in addition to my work account). Two Evernote accounts! Yikes.

I still maintain my beloved Franklin-Covey agenda, though. Paper forever!

That about wraps it up for May. We’re only two days into June and I’ve already noted two things for my June Favorites post, so it looks like another fun month ahead. =)

Callaghan Doesn’t Eat Fish

“I can only eat tuna, and only sometimes, because tuna doesn’t bring that elephant cage quality to it,” he explained.

“What?”

“I used to eat sole, no problem! My grandmother used to make it.”

“No, I mean, what did you say about… I mean, did you say elephant cage?”

“Yeah, we went to the zoo in Vincennes when I was like six. It was a visit of the elephants’ cage. It was horrible.”

“And after that, you went to your grandmother’s house and ate sole?” I thought I was getting to the bottom of his elephant cage/sole association.

“No… I don’t remember why, exactly. All I know was that I went to the elephant cage, and after that, sole became TO BARF FOR.”

While this conversation left me with more questions than answers, it did remind me that I wanted to add Infamous to our “to watch” movie list. Infamous had come to my attention when a friend on Facebook posted a link to WTF Evolution.

The first thing I saw when I went to this page was a picture of a flatfish, which I saved because I thought it was endearing.

 

Flatfish pictured in WTF, Evolution?

Flatfish pictured in WTF, Evolution?

 

The ensuing search engine time-suckage exercise went like this:

WTF Evolution à flatfish. Flatfish à sole. Sole à swordfish. Swordfish à marlin. Marlin (the fish) à Marlin, Texas. Marlin, Texas à Infamous, because it was filmed in Marlin, as stated on the Marlin, Texas Wikipedia page (I had never known that there was a place called “Marlin” in Texas).

Now doesn’t it make perfect sense that the flatfish led me to the movie Infamous? It seems very obvious to me. I honestly don’t know how I knew anything before the internet.

Anyway, back to Callaghan and his gustatory idiosyncrasies. The elephant cage thing will have to remain a mystery while I ask him for the back-story on his distaste for cherries. I’m sure it’ll be a good one!