UFC-inspired minimalism musings and The Body Shop lipstick review! (Minimalism, post 11.)

Minimalism paradox of materialism: when you’re so bored with everything, you want nothing. This is a new mindset for me, one that developed naturally as I began to settle into minimalism. It used to be that if I grew bored with something, I would want something else, or I would think of something else. Now, it’s just good-bye when I’m no longer enamored with that thing.

I do differentiate between replacing something because 1.) I’m bored (“I need something different”); 2). there’s something else that I want (“something has to go”); and 3). there’s necessity… something happened to my old one, or I have to get one because I need it and I don’t already have one. With minimalism, my inclination toward #1 has melted away.

Then there are special cases of I just want that thing, like last Saturday when I bought a new t-shirt and it didn’t replace a damn thing. UFC Fight Night came to Phoenix (specifically, to Glendale). We went, and we were confronted with once-in-a-lifetime merch. It was a t-shirt that had to happen. It’s one of those shirts that if I’m still alive 30 years from now, I’ll come across it and bemoan that it’s full of holes and falling apart. The shirt will go on into infinity. Good memories will wear the shirt more than I ever could.

Come to think of it, though, I do have a thing for souvenir merch. I always get a t-shirt when we go to concerts and whatnot. We don’t go to them so often that I’ve had the opportunity to consider it since moving my mindset into minimalism. I’ve had the opportunity now. I bet the UFC has no idea that it can inspire people to think about minimalism.

Speaking of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night case and purchases made to fill an empty space (this one would be the red lipstick space): I wore one of my new The Body Shop lipsticks to those UFC fights, and I wanted to report on how it held up, because that was a long night. This is my public service announcement to you lipstick-wearing individuals: The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipsticks kick ass. I give this product five out of five stars.

I was impressed by how well the lipstick held up after eight hours of wear. The color stayed vibrant even after chewing gum, eating a protein bar, drinking water, and applying lip balm over the lipstick several times. (Granted, a protein bar is not a good indicator of how well the lipstick would wear while eating an actual meal.) I took some selfies in the car on the way home, in three different lights, as lighting fluctuates on the freeway. As usual, I didn’t filter these pics, neither did I use a lip-liner. The color-saturation shown here is authentic, and the color is visible even in the darkest light. It didn’t bleed onto my face in the absence of lip-liner, either. This is The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”):

 

The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”) – 8 hrs later

 

No retouches after eight hours! Callaghan’s surprise was real, too, and he expressed it even though I didn’t ask him about it. We got home and he said, “Did you put on more lipstick?” and I said, “No,” and he said, “Wow that stays on!” Yes, it does… especially surprising because the lipstick is so weightless and moisturizing. I added to the moisture with lip balm, as I’d said; you’d think that several applications of lip balm over lipstick would cause the color to fade and bleed. That did not occur.

The next time I purchase this lip product, it will be a minimalism-considered replacement. I would love to get another UFC souvenir t-shirt, too, but that’s much less likely to happen.

Cracktastic edibles, great e.l.f. products, etc…. June Favorites!

June was a hot mess of assorted kitty shenanigans and related madness. Managing the situation has become a full-time job. We have three teenagers in the house who all want to be an Only FurChild, and they dislike each other in various permutations that I will not bother to compute.

Apropos of that, it’s been over three weeks since I’ve made significant progress on my main writing project, meaning, I’ve hardly touched it. The Keeping of the Feline Peace has precluded sitting down to focus. I’m still writing here in TALC, obviously, and I’m continuing with the haiku – I’ve written three more sets of four, and I’m working on a fourth – though I’ve decided not to publish them here anymore.

All of that aside, life has been dandy. If you want to know which little things caught my fancy in June, keep reading!

 

1). Wayward Pines (T.V. series) – Season 1

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-WaywardPinesS1

 

Note that I specified Season 1. We started Season 2, but… we just couldn’t. Wayward Pines is a mystery quietly seeded in horror, initially holding our attention enough that we kept at it. We got hooked as the story took shape into something we weren’t expecting. The finale concluded the whole thing for us so well that when we started Season 2, it felt like a different story altogether, and we just weren’t interested anymore. The intrigue that made Season 1 delectable was gone. And that’s okay.

 

2). The Fear of 13 (film/documentary)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TheFearOf13

 

I happened upon this film on Netflix one day, and I had no idea what it was about when I hit play… I didn’t even know that it was a documentary, and my favorite kind, at that (biographical). The Fear of 13 drew me into its story by way of Mr. Yarris’ gift of storytelling, and it left me without words. I still have no words. This film is a beautiful work of art, and a powerful one.

 

Moving on to food:

3). Goldminer California sourdough bread.

 

Goldminer California sourdough bread

Goldminer California sourdough bread

 

I’ve said before that pretty much the only thing I miss about the Bay Area is the sourdough. I always cycle back around to this kind of bread. There’s no such thing as Boudin’s here in Arizona, so I get Goldminer’s, instead. It’s almost as good.

I’m also still enjoying Eureka! Seeds the Day bread. I like toasted sourdough with non-dairy buttery spread, and Seeds the Day with peanut butter and jelly, or just peanut butter. I ate those two things every day throughout June, and I’m still eating them. Bread, it is life.

 

4). Smart Balance Original dairy-free/imitation butter.

 

Smart Balance Original dairy-free/imitation butter

Smart Balance Original dairy-free/imitation butter

 

I used to eat Smart Balance. Then I started eating Earth Balance because it was a shiny new discovery, and I forgot about SB. A few weeks ago, we went to get groceries from a different place than usual, and they didn’t have EB. They had SB. We grabbed it. Thus, I was reminded of the deliciousness of SB. Why didn’t I go back to it sooner? Habits! I’d still use EB sticks for baking, though. EB is marvelous in place of butter in baked goods.

 

5). Trader Joe’s Thai vegetable gyoza.

 

Trader Joe's Thai vegetable gyoza

Trader Joe’s Thai vegetable gyoza

 

Here’s another thing I used to eat a lot, then stopped and forgot that it existed. Trader Joe’s does a few things I love, including their Thai vegetable gyoza (in the frozen section). We enjoy this high-sodium, processed bad/goodness with coconut aminos and Sriracha sauce, and we usually have brown rice and broccoli on the side… but we’ve been known to eat it plain, too. These gyoza are great hot or cold.

Since I’m a perfect wife, I’ll often slave over a microwave for four whole minutes so I can pack a container of cold gyoza for Callaghan’s lunch the next day. He loves it.

 

Moving out of food into the material:

6). New glasses.

 

New glasses (June 2016) - and they work.

New glasses (June 2016) – and they work.

 

It’s unlikely that I’d have tried such large glasses frames if they hadn’t fallen into my lap by accident. (The lab put my lenses into the wrong frames that you see here.) These are super lightweight and comfortable to where I sometimes forget that I’m wearing them. The best part, of course, is that the prescription is correct.

Moving on further to beauty products. It’s been a while, but a few weeks ago I wandered onto e.l.f.’s website and found some items I hadn’t seen before. Good move!

 

7). e.l.f. Daily Hydration Moisturizer.

 

e.l.f. Daily Hydration Moisturizer

e.l.f. Daily Hydration Moisturizer

 

Oh, how I’ve been loving this moisturizer! I haven’t used moisturizer during the day in over a year. This one is fantastic, and my sunscreen goes on smoother when I put it over top. I can’t say enough about e.l.f. with its high-quality, cruelty-free, CHEAP and extensive line of products.

This moisturizer rivals Clinique’s classic one (in the yellow bottle) that I’d used years ago… and it only costs $8.00. EIGHT.

 

8). e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum (Fair/Light).

 

e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum (Fair/Light)

e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum (Fair/Light)

 

Again, only $8.00 for a product that could easily pass for high-end. This foundation serum by e.l.f. goes on as a liquid, glides into your skin feeling like face primer, and finishes like a fine powder. I apply it sparingly with my fingers, which is tricky at first because it’s so liquidy… but I got the hang of it quickly. I start with a light coat and then build it up a little where I feel I want more coverage. Somehow, this serum evens out your skin tone while looking like you’re wearing nothing. (See my New Glasses pic above.)

 

9). e.l.f. Everyday Smoky Eyeshadow Palette.

 

e.l.f. Everyday Smoky Eyeshadow Palette

e.l.f. Everyday Smoky Eyeshadow Palette

 

Here’s a palette containing 10 high-quality, good-size eyeshadows for $10.00. (Yes. TEN.) I’m generally not a person who goes for makeup palettes, because when I do, I want to be able/willing to use it all… I won’t spend money on a palette only to use two shades. This one is cheap, and I’ll use every shade. The eyeshadows are silky and buildable, and you can apply them dry or with a damp brush to intensify the color.

 

10). e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara (Very Black).

 

e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara (Very Black)

e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara (Very Black)

 

This is my new favorite mascara. My former favorite mascara was also from e.l.f., and I had doubts as I chose a different one this time. I’m so glad that I went for it! This lengthening, thickening, wetter formula mascara costs $3.00. THREE.

I used a high-end mascara one time a long time ago, and I can’t even remember why I bought it. It was from Dior. I regretted the pricey purchase when it turned out that I liked my go-to Revlon mascara better. Over the years, I’ve tried Revlon, L’Oreal, and Maybelline mascaras… and then I went cruelty-free. Now I prefer e.l.f. mascaras over all of them.

Did I mention that I can’t say enough about e.l.f.?

La Fin… this concludes my list of favorite things from June!

What I’m Digging Right Now – October Favorites

The theme here is Halloween, obviously. This “favorites” post is late, so let’s get right into it, shall we?

 

1). American Horror Story: Hotel (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-AHSHotel2015

 

People either love this season of AHS, or they hate it. We love it. It was love at first step into the extravagant art deco set, and so far, there’s no aspect of Hotel that hasn’t impressed us. For one thing, we were happily surprised to find, right from episode one, that Lady Gaga can act (it was anyone’s guess how that casting decision would pan out). Hotel is a gorgeously done gore-fest of lavishness, and an equally gorgeously wrought mystery. Fine writing. Fine directing and acting performances. Breath-taking set. And that intro with its split-second, neon flashes of the 10 Commandments has to be the creepiest (therefore the best) yet – at least, it’s our favorite so far.

 

2). Scream Queens (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ScreamQueensS12015

 

We were skeptical about this new series, so I’m thrilled to include it here as a favorite. Every episode of this comedy/horror series features at least one moment that causes us to hit “pause” so we can pick ourselves up from the floor. We’re always a little surprised when we bust out in spontaneous laughter during Scream Queens. Its random humor just strikes you that way, out of nowhere. The series spoofs horror films, so it appropriately stars Emma Roberts (American Horror Story) and, most brilliantly, Jamie Lee Curtis in essentially the same role she played in Halloween H20. Between Scream Queens and American Horror Story, we were set for Halloween all through the month (and between Scream Queens and Modern Family, we were set comedy-wise, as well). Oh, and did I mention that two of Scream Queens’ creators are American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk? There you go. Now go watch it.

 

3). Drag Bingo (Melonhead Foundation charity event).

 

Off to the Melonhead Foundation's annual Drag Bingo. This has to be my favorite wig yet.

Off to the Melonhead Foundation’s annual Drag Bingo. This has to be my favorite wig yet.

 

The Melonhead Foundation put on its annual Drag Bingo gala, so of course we attended. Where else can you contribute to a great charity while playing dirty bingo dressed up for Halloween while some of the finest drag queens around MC the event and provide the entertainment, and there’s dinner, candy, a costume contest, and mystery prizes? Don’t say I didn’t told you… if you’re in Phoenix next October, don’t miss this event!

 

4). Too Faced Born This Way foundation (Nude).

 

Too Faced Born This Way foundation in Nude

Too Faced Born This Way foundation in Nude

 

Don’t worry… I’m still an e.l.f. devotee, and e.l.f. is still the brand of cruelty-free make-up I mainly use, but I unexpectedly found myself purchasing this high-end foundation one day in October. What happened was I went to Ulta in search of the Urban Decay concealer I prefer – one of two high-end cosmetic items I use – and just when I found (for the third week in a row) that they were sold out of my shade, the Too Faced lady, who had been lurking further down the aisle in the Too Faced section, snuck up behind me and got her claws into my common sense and then her fingers on my face and next thing I knew, I was walking out of the store $40.00 poorer. But the little orange bag I held contained this amazing foundation, and I absolutely love it. (Plus, since I didn’t get the Urban Decay concealer, I only spent $10.00 more than I’d planned, anyway.)

 

5). Iced Coffee.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-IcedCoffee

 

Maybe it’s because October’s heat felt unusually extreme to me, or maybe the heat actually did register as unusual… in any case, I sort of fell into the habit of drinking iced coffee while home in the afternoons. I’d put the morning’s leftover coffee in the refrigerator, and then I had this fabulous, refreshing drink to look forward to later in the day. It became a special treat.

 

6). Tempe Farmer’s Market vegan breakfast burros.

 

Tempe Farmer's Market vegan burritos

Tempe Farmer’s Market vegan burritos

 

We live across and slightly down the street from the Tempe Farmer’s Market, so once we discovered that their deli offers huge, delicious vegan burros every day, it became challenging to go by without stopping in to pick one up. They’re a lot of food for a reasonable price, and there are all different kinds, so you never know what you’ll find. My favorite is the breakfast burro (the one on the right).

 

7). Frontera salsa (Jalapeño-Cilantro).

 

Frontera Jalapeno Cilantro salsa

Frontera Jalapeno Cilantro salsa

 

Even something as simple as an excellent salsa can add to the enjoyment of a whole month! We’d never tried Frontera brand salsa before, so when we spotted it at Sprout’s one day, we decided to try it. This Jalapeño-Cilantro one immediately became my new favorite jarred salsa.

 

8). Larabar (Cashew Cookie).

 

Larabar fruit and nut bars in Cashew Cookie

Larabar fruit and nut bars in Cashew Cookie

 

These little bars contain a mere two ingredients: Cashews and dates. That’s it. While these tasty and satisfying nutrient-dense treats aren’t cheap, they’re definitely worth it.

 

9). New Hair.

Finally! I had bangs cut! By Melanie, my fabulous hair stylist and friend! Finally, my hair is back to the way it was before I moved to France, it’s out of my eyes, and it’s much easier to control. I’m displaying this particular pic because you can see the shape of the cut, even though it’s wind-blown because I’m sitting at the bus stop in the early morning and there’s weather and lots of fast cars going by.

 

New hair with bangs and a little face-framing and layering.

New hair with bangs and a little face-framing and layering.

 

Hello, November! We’re already two weeks into the month, but it’s never too late to say hello.

New Year’s Resolution check-in! Cruelty-free cosmetics (e.l.f. review)

We all know how it is. When we’re amped about our New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, we broadcast them to the world, but it’s less common to mention them again after that. We’re all about our resolutions for four weeks or so, and then we never speak of them again. Given this, and to share some of the results of my efforts, I wanted to check in with a mid-year 2015 resolutions update.

(Side-note: It was actually my intention to do this post last month, but I’ve been procrastinating. There are more interesting things to read and write about than the make-up I’m using, but I wanted to hold myself accountable for my resolutions, so here we are. Bear with me, guys, please!)

For 2015, I mainly resolved to switch to cruelty-free products – products that are not tested on animals – so I’m going to share some of the make-up items I’ve been using. I’m just talking about cosmetics in this post (I’ve also switched to cruelty-free hair-care and body products), and mainly one brand.

Cruelty-free drugstore cosmetics include brands such as Milani, e.l.f., Flower, Physician’s Formula, Pacifica, and Burt’s Bees, among others. I’ve tried a smattering of things from different brands, but I decided early on to focus on e.l.f., because it’s the cheapest of the cheap. When I made this resolution, I wanted to go cruelty-free, not broke. Spending as little as possible on make-up means that I can justify spending more on good cruelty-free skin-care.

I’ll always prioritize skin-care over make-up. I use a $3.00 mascara so I can feel less guilty spending $30.00 on sunscreen. It does even out!

Anyway, in the last seven months, I’ve experimented with a lot of e.l.f. make-up. It turns out that the quality of their cosmetics is exceptional and impressive, so the experimentation wasn’t as tedious as I’d thought it would be. I placed an initial order with e.l.f. online in January, and a second order in April. For some reason, with that second order, e.l.f. sent a bag filled with extra, full-size items for free, so I had the opportunity to try out some things I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise. In addition to those two orders, I’ve also picked up a few e.l.f. items at Target here and there, and I’ve already re-purchased several things, as well.

Without further ado, here’s the break-down on how it’s shaken out so far, prices included. The priciest item out of everything I tried was $10.00, but the items I use daily range from $2.00-$6.00.

Current daily products:

 

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

 

1). e.l.f. Studio High-Definition Powder in Shimmer ($6.00)

2). e.l.f. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Sand ($6.00)

3). e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in St. Lucia (I just use the bronzing side) ($3.00)

4). e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls ($3.00)

5). e.l.f. Studio Baked Blush in Passion Pink ($3.00)

6). e.l.f. Studio Fan Brush ($3.00)

7). e.l.f. Essential Flawless Face Powder in Ivory ($2.00)

8). e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Dark (I just use the powder side) ($3.00)

9). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Ain’t that Sweet ($3.00)

10). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Cruisin’ Chic ($3.00)

11). e.l.f. Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight ($3.00)

12). e.l.f. Essential Waterproof Eyeliner in Black (I just use it on the upper lid) ($2.00)

13). e.l.f. Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire ($3.00)

14). e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths ($3.00)

Thoughts: The e.l.f. smudge pots are comparable to Maybelline’s Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel shadows. The Cruisin’ Chic color is my cruelty-free replacement for my old favorite, Bad to the Bronze, and in fact, I even prefer it. At $3.00 a pop, the e.l.f. smudge pots are less than half the price of the Maybelline ones, which are $7.00 each.

To show how the products look and wear, I have pictures from yesterday morning, mid-day, and late afternoon:

 

7:40AM. Freshly applied.

7:30AM.
Freshly applied, photo taken by daylight.

 

1:30PM, over five hours later. Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

1:30PM, six hours later.
Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

 

5:10PM, over nine hours  later. Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

5:10PM, over nine hours later.
Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

 

It’s hard to see the quality of the face make-up in this bad lighting, but note the $3.00 mascara still going strong after nine hours! I don’t curl my eyelashes, either. That’s all product. Seriously, why would I pay $8.00 for an average drugstore mascara or $30.00 for an average high-end mascara?

 

5:14PM, four minutes after the last. This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

5:14PM, four minutes after the last.
This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

 

(I changed into my gym clothes in the car, as usual, haha!)

Conclusion: I’m happy with the way the e.l.f. cosmetics wear over extended periods of time. I don’t bother using face primers or setting sprays or anything like that, either… I’m not a high-maintenance make-up user. My whole mission every morning is to slap everything on as quickly as possible. It takes me 15 minutes to do my make-up.

Now that I’ve listed my current preferred everyday items, here’s what I thought about the other e.l.f. products I tried:

Liked: Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara in Jet Black ($2.00), Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out ($2.00), Essential Smudge Pot in Hit the Town ($3.00), Studio Prism Eyeshadow in Naked ($10.00), Essential Brightening Eye Color in Butternut ($1.00), Studio Baked Eyeshadow Trio in Lavender Love ($4.00), Studio High-Definition Undereye Setting Powder in Sheer ($3.00), Studio BB Cream SPF 20 in Buff ($6.00), Studio Moisturizing Foundation Stick in Nude ($6.00), Studio Lip Balm SPF 15 in Rose ($3.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon ($3.00), Studio Eye Refresh ($3.00)

Eh: Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer in Radiant Glow ($6.00), Studio Poreless Face Primer in Clear ($6.00), Studio Mineral Pearls in Natural ($8.00), Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Nude ($3.00), Studio Make-Up Remover Pen ($3.00), Studio Kabuki Brush ($6.00)

Thoughts: The two face primers I tried are probably very good, but in keeping with my general experience with foundation primers, they don’t do anything for me at all, so I don’t use them. Lots of people swear by them, but for me, using a primer just adds an extra time-consuming step that makes no difference whatsoever in how my skin and make-up looks and wears throughout the day.

Ditto for the Kabuki brush, which, again, is probably excellent. I just prefer other kinds of brushes, like, looser-bristled ones, I guess. I should clean this brush (that I only used once) and give it to someone who wants it.

The mineral pearls product baffles me. Is it a powder? A bronzer? A contour product? All of the above? I’m not so into make-up that I enjoy dabbling; swirling a brush around on the pearls seemed complicated, and then I wasn’t particularly impressed with the look of the product once it was on. So, eh.

The tinted moisturizer was okay, but it was my least-favorite of the four e.l.f. foundation products I tried. Still, I’d wear it in a pinch. Its major plus, for me, is its SPF 20. You can’t have too much SPF!

I really wanted to love the make-up remover pen, and I did, up until the tip became darkened with the eyeliner it was meant to clean up. Then it was like, “okay, now what?”

This bring me to the final category:

Not for me: Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black ($1.00), Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara in Black ($3.00), Studio Undereye Concealer and Highlighter in Light/Glow ($3.00), Mineral Eye Brightener in Buff ($1.99), Studio High-Definition Powder in Sheer ($6.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Muted Mauve ($3.00), Studio Matte Lip Colors in Natural and Tea Rose ($3.00 each), Essential Long Wear Lip Liner in Natural Blush ($1.00)

Thoughts: The Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara looks good once it’s on, but I can’t get past the packaging! Its shape and dimensions make the wand awkward in my hand, and I’ve never stabbed myself in the eye with a mascara as much as I did with this one. PASS.

I think the lip products ended up on this list because my lips just look wrong in those colors, and the Matte Lip Color formula dries out my lips. Not a good formula for me!

The products that were free were the Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out, the Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight, the Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire, and the Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon… and I love it all!

The free products I haven’t tried yet: e.l.f. Studio Lip Stain in Lucky Lady ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Mango Madness ($2.00), e.l.f. Studio Lash & Brow Comb ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Cuticle Pushers ($1.00)

My everyday cruelty-free cosmetics that are NOT e.l.f.: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Neutral*, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero* (that I use under the eyes), Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Original (NOTE: e.l.f. does make eye shadow primers, and I’ll try them once I run out of the UD)**, Physician’s Formula Youthful Wear Cosmeceutical Youth-Boosting Dark Circle Corrector + Concealer (the yellow side only, which I wear underneath the Urban Decay concealer), and Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

*These are the few higher-end, cruelty-free cosmetic items that work better for me than those I could find at the drugstore.

**I haven’t tried an e.l.f. eyeshadow primer yet because believe it or not, I’m still trying to use up the first Urban Decay one I’d purchased almost a year and a half ago, and I have a second one to use after that! I have enough UD eyeshadow primer to last at least two more years, so it’ll be a while before I need to experiment with other brands.

I’d say that my seven months’ worth of experimentation with e.l.f. cosmetics has been instructional and eye-opening. I loved or liked a lot of the stuff I tried, didn’t care for some of it, and just felt so-so about the rest of it. Over time, I’ll continue experimenting to keep up with what’s new, too… I just visited e.l.f.’s website again and noticed a lot of new things, including a brand-new line of products called “Beautifully Bare.”

The important thing, to me, is that everything I wear on my face now is cruelty-free.

As for the stuff I used to use? I gathered up all of my pre-resolution gently-used cosmetics, hair  products, and toiletries, and I donated them to A New Leaf, a shelter for battered women here in the Valley. There were five paper grocery bags filled with products! I hope they brightened someone’s day a little.

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!

What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

June outdid all previous months with its disappearing act. Where did it go? On Friday morning, I said to Callaghan, “Oh, wait… TUESDAY is July 1st? Didn’t I just do my May Favorites post, like, very recently?”

Several exciting things came to pass in June, but the point of my Monthly Favorites posts is to highlight the little, tangible things that helped to elevate the month. I’m starting with entertainment this time because I have a bit of raving to do with this first thing…

 

1). Edge of Tomorrow (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

Let the appearance of this film in my June Favorites post stand as evidence that I don’t hate Tom Cruise just because he hijacked Reacher. (Hijacked Reacher, get it? Haha!) I’m always up for an insane, high-octane sci-fi thriller, and if Cruise is in it, that’s fine with me. We went to see Edge of Tomorrow Saturday evening. The last time I enjoyed a sci-fi action flick that much was Pacific Rim, and I enjoyed this one even more. Edge of Tomorrow is marvelous storytelling and explosive escapism to the nth degree. The Christopher McQuarrie/Tom Cruise team nailed it with this one!

May I just say that movies like this make me wonder why Reacher? Cruise doesn’t need to be Reacher! Let someone who is Reacher be Reacher, and Cruise can keep doing roles like this one in Edge of Tomorrow, because honestly, I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. He brought his charisma and unique brand of flair to the role, yet we never once found ourselves thinking this is just Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. In Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise doesn’t simply own his character. He locks it up and throws away the key. That’s a rare thing in an action flick, in my opinion.

I loved Emily Blunt in her role, too, make no mistake… and the story, writing, direction, editing, cinematography and CGI, all amazing. Yes, I would see it again, and maybe even again after that. I enjoyed it that much. The poster slogan reads, “Live… Die… Repeat.” It should be “Watch… Rave… Repeat.”

 

2). Modern Family (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ModernFamily

 

We fired up season one of this comedy series because of Sofia Vergara, who captured our attention in May in the film Chef. Hilarious! It brings the LOLs in an off-beat Arrested Development kind of way, and it hooked us instantly. We’re in the middle of season four now. Once we’re caught up, we can get our lives back catch up on some movies.

Moving on to skin care and cosmetics….

 

3). Physician’s Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Oh So Radiant! Powder in Translucent.

 

Physician's Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

Physician’s Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

 

What a name for a simple face powder, but radiant, indeed! I wanted to add more of a glow to my skin, and this brightening powder by Physician’s Formula delivers. This is my new setting powder and highlighter in one, and I think it’s going to be a long-time favorite.

 

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That's this powder by Physician's Formula.

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That’s this powder by Physician’s Formula.

 

I’ll say it again: I love that Physician’s Formula products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Not all the products I use are, but at least I’m conscious of the matter, right?

 

4). Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Gel Shadow Eye Makeup in Tough as Taupe 35.

 

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

 

Another unwieldy name, and this product apparently suffers an identity crisis, as well. Is it a cream? Is it a gel? Could they not make up their minds, so they dubbed it both a cream and a gel? Whatever. This richly pigmented, creamy eye shadow formula wears beautifully, and the “Tough as Taupe” shade is gorgeous.

I mean, in the pot, the color sort of reminds me of wet cement, but it applies as a perfect, soft taupe with just the faintest tinge of a lilac undertone… it’s a lovely, muted, silky gray-beige-lilac, like a smooth old stone. Depending on how much you build up the color, it’s an all-purpose neutral on the medium-dark end of the neutral shade spectrum, a shade that would be flattering on anyone. I apply it with my fingertip over a base of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (cruelty-free!), and it lasts all day… and by “all day,” I mean from 7:00am-11pm.

 

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes (Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme).

 

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

 

(Alba Botanica = cruelty-free!)

This has become my go-to Saturday morning cleanser, because on Saturday mornings, we basically sleep in as late as possible, roll out of bed, fuel up with coffee, inhale some breakfast and run out the door just in time for our 10:00am Body Combat class at the gym. I shower afterward. So, instead of doing my usual morning cleansing and skincare routine, I sweep one of these cleansing towelettes over my face, put on sunscreen and apply a little concealer, Revlon Nearly Naked powder (I don’t bother with the glowy face powder when I’m planning to be drenched in sweat an hour later) and my usual lip-color… just enough to make me feel dressed.

Callaghan loves using these cleansing towelettes, too. They’re refreshing, they leave you feeling super clean, and they smell great. Pineapples. Who doesn’t want to smell like pineapples at the gym on a Saturday morning?

This brings us to the food things on this list!

 

6). Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal.

 

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature's Path.

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature’s Path.

 

I guess the theme for this Favorites post is “Little Things with Long Convoluted Names.”

Anyway, this is my new favorite cereal. I like to sprinkle on a little cinnamon to boost the healthy cinnamon factor, and I add fresh blueberries and almond milk. It’s crunchy and satisfying, and it keeps me full all morning!

 

7). Pears.

 

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they're so incredibly good.

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they’re so incredibly good.

 

PEARS! Simple. Just pears. But… organic pears. Organic pears from Argentina. Okay, now I’m making pears complicated when they don’t have to be, but they are organic, and they are from Argentina, and these organic pears from Argentina are abundant in all the stores now, and they’re amazingly juicy, sweet and flavorful. They’ve been a staple in our refrigerator for a month. So let’s complicate things even more and make that chilled organic pears from Argentina. Anyway, delicious, is what they are… in a word!

 

8). Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

 

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day...

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day…

 

THESE THINGS. These things are fantabulous, and I ate way too many of them in June. I ate so many, in fact, that I had to stage my own intervention, asking Callaghan to not let me go near them in the store for at least a few weeks. I’m currently in rehab for addiction to Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. “But they’re healthy!” is only relevant to a point. Overindulgence is overindulgence.

Rounding out the list, here are two random things that made me smile extra in June…

 

9). Cork phone case.

 

 

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called "Marrakesh."

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called “Marrakesh.”

 

This unusual phone case caught my eye as I wandered the aisles of Office Max one day. I’d been looking for a more protective phone case (the one I’d been using was hard plastic, and I have a tendency to drop my phone), so when this one lured me in with its lovely mandala-like design, I was ready with my justification.

And I did, in fact, drop my phone after I got this case, and the cork did, in fact, insulate the phone on landing! Cork phone cases… recommend.

 

10). Hummingbird feeder.

I got a hummingbird feeder for Callaghan when he told me that hummingbirds don’t exist in France. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that. (Har, har… couldn’t resist. Sorry.) We brought the feeder home and he mixed the sugar water, filled the bottle and hung it up on an existing nail near the edge of our balcony awning, and presto! We now have a small contingent of hummingbirds who perch and circulate near the feeder, and the pleasurable occasion to sit by the living room window to watch them, especially in the early mornings. We often see the littlest hummingbird hanging out on “his” branch outside our balcony. We call him “Nectar,” and he is beyond adorable, I’m telling you.

 

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

 

That’s it for June, Friends! July lies before us, and I’m excited because it’s going to be a month of solid back-in-the-day metal madness… we’re going to see Def Leppard, Kiss, Faster Pussycat (shout-out to Tara!), Alice Cooper and Motley Crue. Some friends from France are coming through town for a few days, too; all of that’s going to happen within a two-week period. Fun times ahead!

Oh, side note (literally): I added these “Monthly Favorites” posts to my sidebar as a category, so if you’d like to go back and see them all in one place, there you go. =)

What I’m Digging Right Now – March Favorites

It’s the first day of April! It’s time to show you some of the things I loved last month. There was an abundance of “little things” treasures in March, but I chose nine for this list.

Without further ado:

(ahem)

1). A new phone, which means a new camera… and it’s an Android, which means Instagram. Yes! I’d thought I’d forever avoid Instagram, but I actually really dig it now that I have it. I haven’t been that active on it yet, but I will be.

 

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan's portrait of my parents, and it's my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it's 82 degrees outside.

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan’s portrait of my parents, and it’s my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it’s 82 degrees outside.

 

The reason for the new phone was the fact that my camera died at the end of February. I needed a camera, and Callaghan and I both needed phones, and Verizon was offering a Buy One Get One Free deal on Samsung Galaxy S4s, and I had additional perks due to my “loyalty status” from my former years with Verizon… so it just made sense. Now I have a camera. It’s good enough for what I like to do with a camera, which is point and click.

 

2). Flowering cactuses!

 

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

 

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

 

IT HAS BEGUN. Between now and mid-June, the desert flora will display its myriad of flowers – the different species bloom at different times. Many pictures will be taken. How I’ve missed spring here! Our two visitors from France (one is coming in April, the other in May) are in for a treat.

 

3). New glasses.

 

New glasses. Not BCGs.

New glasses. Not BCGs.

 

These are not the ones I got from the V.A. in Austin. Those turned out to be a disaster in every way, starting with an inaccurate prescription and ending with that wrong prescription being put in the wrong frames that didn’t fit. Long story short, I couldn’t wear them. This is why mall optometrists exist. I walked in, made my appointment for the next day, went back for the appointment, and walked out with this new pair of glasses that seem to be perfect. Instant gratification glasses! I mostly just wear them for driving and watching T.V. and movies.

 

4). Body Combat class at the gym.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

Over the last few months, I’ve had to face the fact that I’m just not as self-motivated at the gym as I used to be. Add to this the fact that when I join a group training situation that carries even the slightest semblance to martial/fighting arts, I feel as at-home as a bat in a cave… my so-called muscle memory knows what to do, and how to do it… and voilà! Body Combat is an ideal group fitness class for me. The instructor’s mission in life for that hour is to kick our butts. I don’t have to do anything but show up and follow along.

The Body Combat classes incorporate techniques from boxing, Muay Thai, capoeria, karate and MMA, all of which my muscles know and enjoy, even though they haven’t trained in years. The fast-paced classes focus on cardio rather than on form, but I’m loathe to execute the moves sloppily, so I end up getting a fantastic workout as I concentrate on form while trying to keep up (to the extent that my out-of-shape self can safely do. I’m careful to not exceed my limitations). We leave the class completely elated, worn out and drenched in sweat. I love it so much I can’t even tell you.

 

5). True Detective, season one (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-TrueDetective

 

Simply stated, this new series right here rather blew our minds. That is all.

 

6). Hannibal, season two (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-HannibalS2

 

As The Following continues to hold our eager attention, we’ve added Hannibal to our current series line-up, as the second season began on the last day of February – meaning, we picked it up at the beginning of March. It’s just as darkly sick and warped and luscious and richly textured as season one. What is this fascination with serial killers? Hannibal is so beautifully done. It’s mesmerizing.

 

7). Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in Stingray.

 

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

 

Finally, I’ve found a retractable black eyeliner pencil capable of drawing a line that stays where you put it! I’d thought I’d also be able to appreciate it for its status as a cruelty-free product, but when I got home and got online, I found that Stila Cosmetics has been struck from the list of cruelty-free cosmetic companies. The reason? “3rd party animal testing.” *sighs*

 

8). Tourni, our new sunflower.

 

Here's Tourni! It's hard to see him in this picture. He's the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

Here’s Tourni! It’s hard to see him in this picture. He’s the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

 

I met a new friend for lunch one day in March, and she surprised me with a thin, pale greenish-yellow stalk from her garden. Loosely wrapped, it appeared to be quite frail. She told me that it was a sunflower. Un Tournesol, I thought immediately. His name is Tourni! “Tournesol” is French for sunflower.

I left the restaurant with little Tourni hanging limply over the side of a plastic water cup, his vestige of a root-ball submerged in two or three inches of water. I pondered what to do with him. He looked so fragile. Our balcony is completely shaded; we have no real direct sunlight in which to grow a sunflower.

By the end of the day, Tourni was looking pretty lifeless and pathetic. Unsure of what to do, I left him in the drink holder in our truck for the night while I figured it out.

At the end of the next day, we went to retrieve Tourni from the truck, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The scant amount of dirt in the cup had absorbed all of the water, and there was little Tourni, upright, happy and spry! He looked like a completely different plant.

 

Alive and proud! I should have taken a "before" picture!

Alive and proud! I should have taken a “before” picture!

 

We brought him in and put him in a pot with some potting soil, both of which we happened to have on hand. He loves the close heat of the truck, so we set him in there during the day. At night, we bring him up to sit on our balcony with the other plants in our growing (ha!) collection.

 

9). Oil-pulling

 

Unrefined, organic coconut oil - the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

Unrefined, organic coconut oil – the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

 

At some point over the winter, an enormous can of unrefined, organic coconut oil appeared in Mom and Dad’s kitchen in California. Dad stirs a teaspoon of it into his coffee every morning. I noticed it when we were there at the beginning of March, and I was intrigued… I’d been reading about the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, and contemplating starting it.

The morning we left, Mom and Dad generously tucked three jars of the oil into our luggage. Dad started oil-pulling that morning, Callaghan started that night after we got back to Arizona, and I started the following morning.

It’s now been three weeks, and so far, I’ve noticed the following two effects: 1). I haven’t had a problem with insomnia since, and 2). my teeth, while never horribly discolored, are indeed much whiter now; many people who do this practice report whiter teeth as a result.

The whiter teeth thing is great, but the sleeping thing? Incredible!

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but what an odd coincidence it is. From Day One of swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty minutes as a part of my morning routine, I’ve been able to drop off to sleep effortlessly. This is unheard of, and it’s been consistent. The only thing I’ve been doing differently is the oil-pulling, so I’m thinking there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a connection.

Whatever the case, I’m going to keep doing it. It’s relaxing, and the whiter teeth are definitely a bonus!

On Callaghan’s part, he says that the quality of his sleep has improved greatly, and his teeth are definitely whiter now.

Okay… that’s it for March favorites! Here’s to spring. =)