What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

My favorite “Little Things” of June were mostly edible… succulent yellow nectarines, crisp, white nectarines and peaches, and white corn, too. Family and food. They go together. One major personal development for me in June was that when my parents were here, I ventured into Costco, and I didn’t have a panic attack! I don’t know how. It was like, that whole Costco thing was an irrational trigger that just ran its course.

So food was central, but let’s start with…

1). Sense8 (T.V. series)

 

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Sense8

 

Netflix released season one of this series early in June, and it came to our attention, so we found it and watched it on the site we use to watch T.V. shows (we no longer have Netflix). Our reaction was HOLY. MOLY. We really didn’t have any expectation going in, so it was a nice surprise when Sense8 turned out to be utterly brilliant, a tour de force of sci-fi action/drama with a story fresh and skillfully wrought, seemingly over-ambitious, at first, then startlingly adept at dealing with the intricacies written into the plot. It’s going to be a long year waiting for season two! We might re-watch season one again as season two’s release date approaches; it’ll be good to refresh our memories of some of the story’s complexities.

 

2). True Detective (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-truedetectiveseason2

 

It’s been thrilling to finally sit before a new season of episodes that tell a new story in this excellent anthology series, but can I just say WTF, episode two?? Colin Farrell’s near-perfection in his role isn’t the only good and immediately evident thing about season two, but it’s the central thing so far, in my opinion. Just… really? That’s all I’m going to say. No spoilers here.

 

3). Jurassic World (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-jurassicworld

 

I actually deleted the paragraph I originally wrote about Jurassic World because I ended up digressing into a tangent that sounded more like a rant, and this is not the place for such thoughts. This is a place to highlight the Little Things I loved about June, so I’m just going to say (again) that I loved this movie. It’s a film with a plot that’s more or less a facade; it’s really just about dinosaurs and dinosaur-hybrids, particularly a monster in dinosaur clothing. This, to me, is the icing on the 2015 summer action blockbuster cake. A generous dash of visual sensationalism can sometimes have an anesthetizing effect, and Jurassic World delivered!

Now let’s get into some of the food…

 

4). Simple Truth organic creamy peanut butter.

 

Simple Truth Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Simple Truth Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

 

As a peanut-butter junkie, I’m sensitive to the stuff; I feel like each brand has its own, distinct character. Somehow, they’re all different, even the ones that have the same ingredients. In past “Favorites” posts, I’ve talked about Whole Foods’ 365 brand, and, more recently, Justin’s. This one by Simple Truth is wonderful, too, with its rich flavor and ideal, creamy texture that isn’t too thick or thin. I’m loving it, and I’d definitely buy it again, but we now have two large jars of Costco’s peanut butter sitting in our pantry… they’re next up when this jar of Simple Truth’s is gone… so don’t be surprised if I come back in August reporting on how I noshed ecstatically on Costco’s peanut butter throughout July! We shall see. One can never have too many “favorite” peanut butters, as far as I’m concerned.

 

5). Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Unsalted Mixed Nuts.

 

Giant jar of roasted, unsalted mixed nuts from Costco!

Giant jar of roasted, unsalted mixed nuts from Costco!

 

Why are these unsalted, roasted mixed nuts Extra Fancy? Only Costco knows. They seem pretty normal to me, and I was happy to find them in these enormous plastic jars. It’s like, my life is complete now… and now that I seem to be cured of my Costcophobia, we’re thinking we might have to join the cult Costco, because what are we going to do once these nuts are gone?

 

6). SkinnyPop popcorn mixed with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds.

 

SkinnyPop Popcorn combined with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds!

SkinnyPop Popcorn combined with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds!

 

I decided to pour some of these seeds over my bowl of popcorn one day after work, and I’ve been hooked on the combination ever since. It makes a thoroughly satisfying marriage of delicate flavors and delicious salt and light crunch and crisp meltiness, and hey, could salty snacking even get more American than this? Popcorn and pumpkin seeds. Welcome to the New World!

Here’s what a part of our kitchen counter’s been looking like:

 

What can I say. I snacked my way through June. The bag of blue corn tortilla chips is off to the side, and yes, that would be a big BOX of Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the back.

What can I say. I snacked my way through June. The bag of blue corn tortilla chips is off to the side, and yes, that would be a big BOX of Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the back.

 

7). Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt.

 

Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt

Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt

 

More dark chocolate! More pumpkin seeds! More salt!

Guess why these weren’t included in that happy little group photo of the other snacks? Because, yes, we polished off this gigantic bag of chocolate in less than a week. (Thanks, COSTCO!) Well, they weren’t all that unhealthy… not at all, in fact… but it was just a lot of sugar. In June, I probably consumed triple the amount of sugar I normally eat, and that is not an exaggeration. I’m surprised I didn’t break out. (*knocks wood*)

Actually, between this and that 28-count box of Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups that I was helpless to resist, we might want to re-think that Costco membership. I need a dark chocolate intervention.

Enough food… let’s move on to products!

 

8). Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream.

 

Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream

Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream

 

Here’s an important distinction: I love the sun, and I love living in the sunniest spot in the U.S. of A. But I’m not a sun-worshipper. I’m a sunscreen worshipper. Sunscreen is the number one most important product that I use, and when I went cruelty-free, it became one of the most difficult items to replace. After making much effort with some varieties available in drug stores, I caved and went to Sephora to pick up this expensive sunscreen of Lavanila’s. It’s made for the face, and that’s what I needed… the sunscreens by the other cruelty-free brand I tried not only didn’t play well with make-up, but they also stung when sweat got in my eyes! Lavanila got it right with this sunscreen. It is outstanding.

 

9). Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm.

 

Burt's Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm

 

This is my cruelty-free answer to EOS lip balms, which I’d loved. I keep the Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm in my bag, and on my nightstand, I put the Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter, because I like a heavier lip balm for night… but I found myself reaching for this one more and more while getting ready for bed. For some reason, it works better for me than the one that’s supposed to be more moisturizing. Now, the Vanilla Bean is the only one that I use. I actually prefer it to EOS!

 

10). Make-up removers: The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye and Lip Make-up Remover and e.l.f. Studio Makeup Removing Cleansing Cloths.

 

My current cruelty-free makeup removers of choice: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths and The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Make-up Remover

My current cruelty-free makeup removers of choice: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths and The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Make-up Remover

 

It was so hard to find good cruelty-free make-up removing products. e.l.f. to the rescue once again! (Huge e.l.f. product review post upcoming, by the way, once I can find time to do it.) e.l.f.’s make-up removing cleansing cloths are really good… and when I explored the shelves at The Body Shop, I found this waterproof eye make-up remover, which is not only fantastic, but it’s better than the ones I’d used that were tested on animals. See? If not for my resolution, I’d have never discovered these products.

That’s it for June. Bring on July! (Maybe less chocolate, though!)

Happy Friday, All… and Happy 4th of July, U.S. friends. =)

The Number of the Feast.

Well. This was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

Here in Phoenix metro this week, someone found “666” swirled with frosting onto her child’s dinosaur birthday cake. Not just any birthday cake, either. The demonic cake was a COSTCO cake. See? I was right… Costco is evil. My Costco-induced panic attacks are NOT due to Costco being a chaotic warehouse of a special kind of too much of a good thing is a bad thing hell in which you’re supposed to be able to find what you’re looking for, frothing over with the ricocheting energy of hundreds of human-shaped mice let loose in a gigantic maze with rows and rows of towering boxes and crates and a million little pieces of cheese laying around everywhere, throwing the mice into confusion as they can’t decide which one to grab first so the pattern within the movement of the masses is schizophrenic as some of the mice wander aimlessly in a retail overload induced state of zombification while others dart hither and thither with varying degrees of harrowing spontaneity as they’re driven by impulse triggered by the things their eyeballs hone in on and ultimately their shopping carts collide like bumper cars and things get knocked over, and since it’s a warehouse, all the sounds in the entire place are amplified and bounce off of each other. Oh, no… the cause of my panic attacks in Costco is clearly written on this ominous cake expelled from the bowels of their bakery last weekend.

 

This is the Costco dino cake design selected by the child's grandmother.

This is the Costco dino cake design selected by the child’s grandmother.

 

The devil is in the details.

The devil is in the details.

 

Might I add that the Costco in question is the Superstition Springs one, which is near the Superstition Mountains, and we all know that the Superstitions are haunted. I mean, of course the demonic cake came from that location. Maybe an evil spirit flew down from the Superstitions to embed itself into this cake. And maybe if you play the music in that Costco backwards, you’d hear demonic whisperings commanding you to buy everything in sight.

Needless to say, the child’s mother was aghast at the 666 “hidden message” (what a clever visual pun of Satan’s, hiding the sign of the beast in a cartoonish beast’s cake-frosting legs) and took action just as quickly as the person who discovered the Virgin Mary emblazoned on a grilled cheese sandwich. This cake incident is actually unsurprising… if you believe in God, then you believe in the devil, and from this logic it follows that if the Virgin Mary is going to appear on a grilled cheese sandwich, then sooner or later, Satan is going to appear on a birthday cake.

Anyway, the news source carrying the article seems to be a Christian outfit out of the Midwest (judging by the listing of news items in the sidebar, and by the announcer’s accent… broadcast journalists at national stations use non-regional diction); I couldn’t find a hint of this demonic dinosaur cake item in the Arizona Republic/AZCenteral.com or the East Valley Tribune or any other Arizona publication. I’m not sure why Yahoo News decided to pluck this article from the Examiner and insert it into its news feed that day, but they did, and that is how it came to my attention.

On that note, I’m off to get ready for work. Happy Friday, All!

Costco is my Kryptonite, and other tales of things I want to have in my life, but can’t, because they’d kill me.

The other day, I was watching a video, and I had a reaction to it that prompted this brief list of popular trains I can’t board:

1). Costco.

 

Nooooo...

Nooooo…

 

Costco is amazing, but I just… no. I have a panic attack every time I go into a Costco. I mean, every time no matter what.

Your guess is as good as mine. Nothing awful has ever happened to me in a Costco. This makes no sense at all. Costco is my only consistent panic “trigger,” and I have no idea why.

It’s just a huge warehouse with people milling and mingling haphazardly, and everything is towering and disorganized, and the products are piled so high, and you don’t know who or what is coming around the corner, and you don’t know where anything is, and the layout of the place doesn’t seem to make sense, and the noises echo and bounce off the walls, and, and, and, et cetera, ad nauseum.

I could launch into some anecdotes about my panic episodes in Costco in both Arizona and California, but that would result in a complete essay, and how boring would that be? My Ridiculous Panic Attacks in Costco, by Kristi Garboushian. I’ll refrain. (You’re welcome.)

Suffice it to say that the other day (here’s the event that spawned this blog post), I had a panic attack while I was watching a vlog of some people shopping in a Costco. I seriously can’t even see the inside of a Costco on video without having this reaction.

Is there a name for this? Costcophobia?

 

2). Game of Thrones.

 

Game-of-Thrones-Season-3-1788115

 

I watched most of the first season, and I tried hard to get into it. I plunged in with great expectations because of the series’ high ratings, immense popularity and sheer aesthetic appeal, but my interest waned progressively with each episode. While I could recognize and appreciate the excellence of the writing, acting, cinematography, costumes and basically the entire production, I couldn’t sit the season through to the end.

The reason is simply that fantasy isn’t a genre I enjoy enough to make the mental effort it takes to keep track of everybody running around in that series.

I couldn’t keep up with who was related to whom, and all the interconnections between individuals and groups of characters, and all the intimate liaisons, and who died/got killed (and for what reason), and who was going where, and why, and so on. First it interested me, then it tired me, then it bored me, and that was the end.

(Like most of the rest of humanity, Callaghan enjoyed it, so he’s still watching. I’m glad for him.)

My general disinterest in fantasy (there have been exceptions, like Harry Potter, which I love) contradicts my deep fascination with the paranormal and my affection for most science fiction –especially super high-octane sci-fi with lots of action and cheesy comic book panache, like Tank Girl, Serenity, Transformers and Pacific Rim.

It’s human nature to be contradictory, I guess.

On Callaghan’s part, there’s a highly rated and extremely popular Netflix series that he can’t watch, and that’s Orange is the New Black. Actually, it’s even worse than that… Orange is the New Black is to Callaghan what Costco is to me. He just can’t deal with it at all; it agitates and angers him.

I liked it, though. Maybe one day I’ll continue watching it.

 

3). Beets.

 

328px-Beets

 

Beets are nutritional superstars, and I wish I could eat them with enjoyment. As it is, I can barely tolerate them. I love food and I want to love everything that I eat. For me, barely tolerating a food equals zero enjoyment in the whole food experience.

I’m not sure why I don’t like beets. I guess I find something suspicious (unpleasantly incongruous?) about their particular type of sweetness, and the metallic aftertaste in my mouth after I eat them nauseates me a little. I don’t know. On one occasion, I went to a restaurant and the roasted vegetables I ordered included small, whole roasted beets. They were of the yellow variety, and they were more palatable to me than the standard purplish-red ones.

Beets don’t make me sick-sick, though… I could eat them if I wanted to, but I don’t bother. When they arrive on my salad, I pass them over to Callaghan, who accepts them with alacrity. Good for him!

That wraps it up. Have a great Friday and weekend, everyone!

The Out-of-Context Pigeon

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting outside on our balcony, one of my favorite places to be in the mornings, when an unusual vision materialized before my eyes: a pigeon in a tree. It was more than unusual, I realized as I watched the bird. It was almost unheard of, about as rare as finding me in a Costco. (Costco gives me panic attacks. I don’t know why.)

It’s probably safe to say that I’ve seen more pigeons “in the wild” than any other type of bird. I’ve known them to be street birds, pavement birds, train station, dirt path and riverside birds. I know them from parking lots, rooftops, sidewalks and gutters. They’re a common sight in city parks, at strip malls and on school grounds, and I’ve even seen them nesting on other people’s balconies.

Pigeons are special in that they’re the only birds I’ve seen everywhere except in trees, and that is one reason why I like them. They are among us. Come to think of it, I don’t even really regard them as birds. They’re pigeons.

When I realized that the bird in the tree in front of me was a pigeon, I had to step inside and grab my camera. You know me.

It was mostly just surprising to see how a pigeon can shrug off his common cloak to become an utterly exotic bird when he’s in a tree.

For one thing, his usual stances and postures are replaced by those typical of any other bird in a tree… a bird delicately positioned on a limb (in this case, a frond, as the tree is a Phoenix date palm) instead of standing solid on the ground. I think that’s another reason why it took a minute to realize that he was a pigeon… he held himself differently, perching, balancing, being… un-pigeon-like. Rather than doing the urban pigeon-walk, he hopped lightly and fluttered, and because his movements were different, his colors flashed in the sunlight differently, too. I’ve always found pigeons to be beautiful, but now I could appreciate his beauty in a whole new way.

So, pictures. When I showed these to Callaghan, he laughed.

“These are four pictures of the same thing!”

“No they aren’t!” I protested, laughing. “Look closely – his posture is different in every one.”

Callaghan often makes fun of me for “taking 200 pictures of the exact same thing” every time I whip out my camera. It’s true, I do tend to take a zillion shots of my subject, whatever it is. I like to capture those minute differences in angle and lighting. Also, I know that out of the many, I’m going to get at least one really good one.

Here are my four favorites of this guy:

 

It was the emerald sheen on his outstretched neck that caught my eye first.

It was the emerald sheen on his outstretched neck that caught my eye first.

 

Hmm, this bird looks familiar...

Hmm, this bird looks familiar…

 

He turns to look at me as if to say, "Why yes, I am PIGEON!"

He turns to look at me as if to say, “Why yes, I am PIGEON!”

 

Standing proud.

Standing proud.

 

High in the sky, that pigeon. Not on the ground.