First Favorites of 2018! (January Favorites)

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

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

 

1). The Florida Project

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Tochinoshin receiving the Emperor’s Cup (January 2018)

 

Tochinoshin is Georgian. His actual name is Levan Gorgadze.

 

Tochinoshin (January 2018 Grand Champion)

 

 

3). Glitch (T.V. series)

 

 

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

 

On to food…

 

4). Cherry Pie Larabars.

 

Cherry Pie Larabar

 

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

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

 

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

 

Lightlife meatless pasta (esp. wild mushroom ravioli)

 

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

 

6). Baby sweet potatoes.

 

Mini sweet potatoes

 

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

 

7). Coconut yogurt bowl with berries and seeds.

 

Coconut yogurt with berries, hemp seeds, and chia seeds

 

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

 

Products…

 

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

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream

 

(See above for the text!)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Opening windows, letting in fresh air. (September Favorites!)

Are we ready to talk about the little things I found to love in September? I mean, ready already?

I’m not complaining that it’s already. I’m loving October.

Here’s one thing I discovered in September: two of my go-to, ride-or-die product brands – Organix (shampoo and conditioner) and Burt’s Bees (my lip products) – are no longer cruelty-free. I had to go on the hunt for replacement products, and that’s fine… I’ve had it in mind to go completely vegan with products, anyway, as up until now, I’ve only been partially there. Organix’ and Burt’s Bees’ decisions to start selling their products in China (therefore abandoning their ethics – testing on animals is mandatory in China) gives me a long-overdue push in the direction of finding vegan replacements for any non-vegan products I’ve been using. And find them, I did. They’re on the list below.

Other than these products, I’ve got a great movie to share, a T.V. series we’re particularly enjoying, and some noms, as well and as usual.

 

1). What the Health

 

 

This excellent documentary about health and how we can manage it with success is informative, and, in our opinion, surprisingly fun to watch (for what it is). What the Health is available on Netflix. I highly recommend it!

 

2). American Horror Story: Cult (T.V. series)

 

American Horror Story: Cult (season 7)

 

We went into this season of AHS with a degree of skepticism. After watching the pilot, we were still somewhat skeptical, but intrigued enough to watch the next episode. We ended up hooked despite our initial misgivings. After the last episode (4), we decided that “Cult” is our new favorite AHS season, with our former favorite (“Asylum”) down to second-place. Let’s face it, though: we love the gruesome, over-the-top insanity of AHS no matter what the story.

The great thing about AHS is that since it’s an anthology series, you don’t need to have watched any previous seasons.

 

3). Kite Hill cream cheese style spread (both plain and chive).

 

Kite Hill cream cheese style spread (chive)

 

In the world of plant-based cream cheese spreads, Kite Hill makes my favorite, so far… and that’s saying a lot, because I really like Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese. Kite Hill makes their product from almond milk, and they do it wonderfully.

A 1 oz serving of the chive variety has 78 calories, 3g protein, 6g fat (0 saturated – 0 cholesterol), and 3g carbs.

 

4). Gardein Beefless Ground.

 

Gardein Beefless Ground over a layer of vegetarian refried beans (with hot sauce and Daiya cheddar-style shreds) (Side salad not pictured.)

 

Gardein makes a delicious plant-based ground to replace ground mammal or bird. We love using it in red pasta sauces, or simmering it in taco seasonings to use in tacos (as in the pic above). This would also be great in Hamburger Helper-style meals, to make them healthier and just as tasty. We’ve seen Gardein Beefless Ground at most of the grocery stores we frequent (Sprouts, Fry’s, Whole Foods, Safeway), but we get ours at Target, where it’s $3.99 for the 13.7oz bag.

A 3/4 cup serving has 120 calories, 18g protein, 2g fat (0 saturated – 0 cholesterol), and 8g carbs (4g fiber).

 

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian shampoo and conditioner Colorific Plumeria. (cruelty-free and vegan)

 

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Colorific Plumeria shampoo and conditioner

 

I’ve long been been a devotee of Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Pineapple Enzyme facial cleanser and facial scrub, so when I went looking for new hair care products (to replace my products from now-sold-in-China Organix), I thought I’d try Alba’s shampoo and conditioner from the same line… the Colorific Plumeria is formulated for color-treated hair. I’m thrilled to report that I like these products better than Organix’! They smooth out my hair and leave it super shiny and smelling so good. I don’t have to use any after-products, either.

 

6). The Body Shop vanilla eau de toilette. (cruelty-free… and vegan?*)

 

The Body Shop Vanilla Eau de Toilette

 

I loved Pacifica’s gardenia scent during the summer. The last time I put it on, though, I couldn’t stand it and tried to remove it as much as possible before going out. I’m not sure what happened… why it suddenly offended me so much… maybe something about my chemistry changed so the fragrance just went bad on me? But I was inspired to find a different sort of fragrance altogether.

The Body Shop’s vanilla eau de toilette is a lovely, updated 90’s vanilla scent with a spicy-sweet, musky dry-down. That’s how it works on my skin, anyway. It’s perfect for now. I absolutely love it.

*I put a question mark after “vegan” because when I did a “vegan” search on The Body Shop’s website, this product came up on the list… and it still does… but when I search for “vegan” as a sub-category under fragrances, it’s not on that list. Since it appears on the main vegan list, though, I’m thinking that it just got left off the sub-category list.

 

7). Method nourishing hand wash (in Almond Flower). (cruelty-free and vegan)

 

Method nourishing hand wash in almond flower

 

Callaghan chose this hand wash for the kitchen; since it’s called “almond flower,” I wasn’t expecting its vaguely spicy scent, so that was a bonus. Maybe almond flower actually is spicy. I don’t know. Whatever the case, I’m enjoying this product. I love its scent, and I love the fact that it’s indeed moisturizing. We get our Method products from Target, and all of their products are cruelty-free and vegan.

 

8). Pacifica Bali Coconut Natural Lip Balm. (cruelty-free and vegan)

 

Pacifica Bali Coconut Lip Balm

 

Luckily, I found replacements for Burt’s Bees lip products that are not only cruelty-free, but vegan, as well… and it turns out that I like them better than Burt’s Bees’. I had to replace a plain lip balm, a tinted lip balm, and a lipstick.

Pacifica’s Bali Coconut lip balm is silky and softer than the Burt’s Bees lip balm I’d used for so long, and it feels more hydrating, too. I don’t have to use as much of it, and I don’t need to reapply it as often as I did the Burt’s Bees, either. Love this product!

 

9). Pacifica Devocean Natural Lipstick (in Natural Mystic). (cruelty-free and vegan)

 

Pacifica Devocean Natural Lipstick in Natural Mystic

 

I didn’t think there was a lip color I’d like better than Burt’s Bees Redwood Forest, but here’s Natural Mystic by Pacifica to prove that wrong. Again, think 90’s: Natural Mystic is an updated 90’s mauvy-brown shade, hinting at Bordeaux. The Devocean formula’s creamy softness feels wonderful, and the color is highly-pigmented. In comparison, the Burt’s Bees lip crayon was drier, and the Redwood Forest shade had a slightly orange undertone rather than the purple undertone of Pacifica’s Natural Mystic. I like it better all the way around.

 

10). Pacifica Color Quench Lip Tint (in Sugared Fig). (cruelty-free and vegan)

 

Pacifica Color Quench Lip Tint in Sugared Fig

 

Last, but not least, I found Pacifica’s tinted lip balm in Sugared Fig to replace my Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia lip balm. As with the lip color above, I like it even better… and for the same reasons. It’s creamier and more hydrating, and its undertone is cool, rather than warm.

[Sidenote about Pacifica: I ordered these lip products from Ulta online, since I couldn’t find their cosmetics in the store. From what I’ve seen, stores only carry Pacifica’s skincare.]

 

This brings us to The End. I’m happy to be in the Octoberness of now. I hope you are, too.

Cycling back around. (June Favorites!)

I’m going to let the pics do most of the talking here, but I do have some blurbs to go with them (some more blurby than others). It goes without saying that I recommend everything on this list! (The foods are vegan and the products are cruelty-free, as usual.)

Getting on into it: some of my favorite little things from June!

 

1). Wonder Woman (film)

 

 

I already dedicated an entire post to this superhero movie, so rather than repeat myself here, I’ll just direct you to that post: If you’re interested, click here to read my thoughts. (The link will open the page in a new tab; whatever glitch was causing my links to open in the same tabs has been fixed.)

Suffice it to say that we highly enjoyed this film.

 

2). Okja (film)

 

 

Joon-ho Bong’s stunning feat of cinematic wizardry brings to life the story he wrote about the plight of an engineered animal and the girl who loves her. While love, loss, loyalty, and identity comprise some of the story’s themes, desperation is the dominant mood… in every character, at every level. Okja is a study in ethics, a socioeconomic commentary set in a fantastical world that’s yet real enough to be imaginable.

 

3). black-ish (T.V. series)

 

 

The comedy series black-ish is thought-provoking comedy gold; once we were able to access it again, we were thrilled to be able to pick up where we left off. We’re nearing the end of season 3, and we’re still laughing! For us, black-ish’s brilliant writing and the performances of its actors amount to unparalleled hilarity in television.

 

4). Tofurky hickory-smoked deli slices.

 

Tofurky Deli Slices Hickory-Smoked

 

As far as food is concerned, it’s more fun to talk about the processed stuff, so here we are again!

Tofurky’s deli slices, now. I’ve enjoyed all of Tofurky’s deli slice varieties for years, but in June, I cycled back around to the hickory-smoked flavor. I’m still going strong. I love the peppered flavor, as well. Tofurky does a good job with these slices!

 

5). Van’s Power Grains waffles.

 

Van’s Power Grains waffles

 

Actually, since I do cycle through foods, I probably post repeats in these “favorites” lists more often than I think. I know for a fact that I included these waffles on a favorites list from last summer. Van’s Power Grains waffles are delicious and satisfying, firstly, and secondly, they give you 10 grams of protein per serving (2). They prepare themselves in the toaster oven. What else could I want in a waffle?

 

6). Dave’s organic thin-sliced 21 wholes grains and seeds bread.

 

Dave’s thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread

 

As a breadaholic, it’s my inclination to try new breads all the time. We’ve been fans of Dave’s breads for several years now, so we weren’t surprised to find that we love this thin-sliced version, too. For one thing, the smaller slices perfectly accommodate the deli slices and the sliced Daiya cheezes we eat. Comparatively, the larger breads seem awkward.

 

7). La Costeña jalapeños.

 

Costena jalapeno peppers

 

I’ve also cycled back into a jalapeño pepper kick. (Haha! Kick! Get it?) I’ve been eating these peppers with sandwiches instead of dill pickles… savory sandwiches, that is. Personally, I wouldn’t eat these alongside peanut butter and jelly.

 

8). Maitake Mushroom (supplement; Solaray).

 

Maitake mushroom supplement

 

I’ve updated my daily supplement regimen with the addition of ‘shrooms: Maitake Mushroom (Solaray). Each capsule is a triple-mushroom threat with 600 mg maitake mushroom, 180 mg shitake mushroom, and 180 mg reishi mushroom. The reported health benefits of these mushrooms are numerous; click the links to read about them. (Again, the links will open the pages in new tabs.)

 

9). OGX Orchid Oil shampoo, conditioner, and color-protect oil.

 

OGX Orchid Oil shampoo & conditioner and oil

 

I finally ran out of my OGX Vitamin E shampoo and condition and went to repurchase them, but when I got to the shelf, I found OGX’ Orchid Oil shampoo and conditioner, which I didn’t recall seeing before. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve gone looking for hair care products.

It seems that this line isn’t just safe for color-treated hair, but it was formulated specifically for it. I’ve been putting dark brown color in my dark brown hair that’s naturally – but not uniformly – reddish. When the color fades, some parts look artificially red, even though the reddish color is real. I also have a silver hair here and there, and it’s a mystery why my hair comes out blondish in some pics. Mixed chick hair identity issues!

I went for the Orchid Oil line, and I’m digging it so far. I haven’t refreshed the color in my hair in quite a while, so when I finally do, I’ll really be able to see whether these products extend the color’s longevity. I got the oil to mist on as a detangler, too. OGX claims that all of these products provide broad-spectrum sun protection, which, if true and truly effective, would be a great bonus.

 

10). New prescription sunglasses.

 

Selecting frames for sunglasses (Instagram 05/30/2017)

 

I Instagram’d this pic when I was trying on frames at my optometrist’s office. These sunglasses are nothing short of life-changing. They arrived a week or so into June, and I still can’t get over how great it is to be able to see everywhere at every distance while wearing sunglasses! My old ones were single-lens, the prescription was wrong, the frames didn’t fit correctly, and one of the lenses kept popping out.

 

That does it for June. I’ve already got a list going for July!

Heading into summer. (May Favorites!)

It’s a fine day for that customary list of my favorite Little Things from the month that just ended. It’s a fine day for some fluff: entertainment, edibles, and stuff to put on your face.

The month of May brought our late-to-the-party discovery of a dark crime dramedy series, the return of a favorite Netflix comedy series, and a book filled with short stories revolving around my favorite fictional character. It brought frozen veggies and yet another protein bar discovery. Also, I’ve got a slew of rave-worthy skincare products – more than usual, in fact. I don’t know what happened in May, but here we are with all kinds of goodness from The Body Shop and Yes to. If skincare products don’t figure in your life, feel free to pass this along to someone you know who may be interested!

In one word, the theme of this list is “refreshing.”

Starting with entertainment, as usual…

 

1). Master of None (T.V. series)

 

 

After 2015’s debut of this fresh, intelligent, and hilarious series, we waited (im)patiently while Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang went back to work. Season 2 of Master of None was well worth the wait! It proves again that a comedy television series can be an exquisite work of art. This is storytelling made rich with subtleties… nuance and mood, humor and wit. Throughout the season, vignette after vignette, a larger story unfolds, and yet that larger story itself is nothing more dramatic than a slice of life. That is the brilliance of Master of None. An artist first and foremost, Aziz Ansari brings life to life.

 

2). Fargo (T.V. series)

 

 

We love dark comedy, thriller-mysteries, and crime drama. We’re huge fans of the Coen brothers. So it doesn’t matter that we’re (inexplicably) three years late getting to Fargo, the T.V. adaptation of the titular film. Season 1 takes off on the shoulders of strong character development, plowing through a series of increasingly outrageous events after Billy Bob Thornton ever so gently nudges that first domino.

Evidence of the Coen brothers’ involvement abounds. Billy Bob Thornton is terrifying. The music is awesome and actually supplies a lot of the humor in the dark-humor equation. We couldn’t ask for anything more, really.

 

3). No Middle Name (collection of Jack Reacher short stories by Lee Child).

 

 

After devouring all of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, I’m finally reading all of his Reacher short stories, and very happily so. The first two installments in this newly released collection had me a little worried, I’ll admit, but my enjoyment’s increased with each story. I’m just past halfway through the collection, so I can’t comment on it as a whole, but I can say that seven stories in, I’m having a blast!

Jack Reacher is my favorite fictional brain candy, and in terms of reading, brain candy is what I need right now. Thank you, Lee Child… and thanks to my friend Bob, who alerted me to the collection’s impending release.

Heading into food…

 

4). 22 Days Plant Power protein bar in salted caramel.

 

22 Days Plant Power protein bar in salted caramel

 

We knew this would happen sooner or later. I’m back with another protein bar.

This one threw me off at first, mostly with its unexpected texture… but it wasn’t bad. The texture, I eventually realized, reminds me of caramel candy, which is appropriate for a “salted caramel” flavored bar. My enjoyment of this bar increased when I stopped thinking of it as a bar and started thinking of it as a chewy caramel treat. It grew on me.

Also, consider the macros in each of these organic and plant-based bars: 15g protein, 9g fiber, and only 4g sugar (20g carbs in all) and 150 calories per bar. At this point I’ve gotten very good at limiting my consumption of processed foods, so I don’t eat protein bars every day anymore… but when I do, I feel pretty good about reaching for this one.

 

5). Trader Joe’s Soycutash.

 

Trader Joe’s Soycutash

 

I’ve never been a fan of succotash because I never learned to enjoy lima beans. I’ve tried. I can’t. (Add lima beans to my list of permanent food aversions.) So when I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s version of it, I had to try it.

TJ’s “soycutash” contains three ingredients: edemame (replacing lima beans), sweet corn, and red peppers. It is delicious. I prepare it in the microwave and then eat it cold as a refreshing and satisfying side or snack. Fun fact: I grew up snacking on fresh, cold boiled soybeans, but I never knew they were called “edemame” until they became popular in western cuisine!

Getting into the skincare products…

 

6). Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Facial Soufflé Moisturizer.

 

Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Facial Souffle Moisturizer

 

How do I begin to describe this product?

I know I included a moisturizer in a recent “monthly favorites” post. The problem with doing a monthly favorites post is that you try a moisturizer, think it’s great enough to add to the list… and then the next month, you try a different moisturizer, only to discover that it’s your Holy Grail of moisturizers.

This one from Yes to Coconut is thick and very rich, but it melts into my skin and leaves it soft and dewy without a trace of greasiness. Its coconut scent is subtle and not at all overpowering. I love this. I love it so much that I already re-purchased it, so I’ll have it at hand when this first one’s used up.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see another moisturizer on a monthly favorites post… at least not for a long while!

 

7). Yes to Cotton Micellar Cleansing Water and Yes to Coconut Cleansing Wipes.

 

Yes to Cotton Micellar Cleansing Water and Yes to Coconut Cleansing Wipes

 

My current favorite way to remove the makeup from my face involves these two products: I fold a Yes To Coconut makeup removing wipe into quarters, saturate it with two pumps of the Yes to Cotton micellar water, and smooth it over my skin… a refreshing treatment I’ll do even when I’m not wearing makeup.

Yes to has upped their game quite a bit!

 

8). The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Body Lotion, Hand Cream, and Shower Cream.

 

The Body Shop Almond Milk and Honey Body Lotion, Hand Cream and Shower Cream

 

I couldn’t stay away.

It’s safe to say that I’m enamored with The Body Shop’s entire Almond Milk & Honey line, starting a couple of months ago when I picked up the body butter. All of these lotion and cream formulas exist in TBS’s other lines, but the Almond Milk & Honey products are richer and more moisturizing than the others I’ve tried. I still love the scent. I hope TBS comes out with a body mist in the same line!

 

9). The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter.

 

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

 

I’ve been using The Body Shop’s camomile eye makeup remover since I discovered it well over a year ago, but when I finished up my last bottle in May, I decided to try something different from the same line.

After several tries, I figured out how to make this cleansing butter work for me: I take a little scoop onto my fingertips, massage it gently onto my eye makeup, and then (just as gently) wipe it away with one of those Yes to Coconut makeup removing wipes. I’m preferring this method to the application of the liquid eye makeup remover, which feels harsh in comparison; I’d used a cotton pad with that remover, and I always had to sort of work those rougher cotton fibers into my lash line to remove eyeliner and mascara.

I don’t use this cleansing butter on my entire face… just on my eyes. I do this first, and then I go over my face with the above-mentioned Yes to Cotton micellar water on the Yes to Coconut makeup removing wipe… this takes care of any eye makeup/remover residue, as well.

 

10). Freeman Beauty Infusion Brightening Overnight Mask.

 

Freeman Beauty Infusion Brightening Overnight Mask

 

I wouldn’t have tried this mask had I not gotten a free sample from a lady at Ulta when I went there with Mom a few weeks ago. I love this sleeping mask! Callaghan tried it at the same time I did, and he was also impressed with the appearance of his skin when he woke up.

I’m now alternating between this mask and The Body Shop’s vitamin E overnight mask (one each per week). I’m still doing TBS Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask one morning per week, too. They’re all wonderful.

That wraps it up for May!

La Fin.

 

Things that smell good, and other April Favorites!

Looking back on April, I’m happy to be alive and eating fewer processed foods. Haha! There are no processed foods on this list, maybe for the first time in the history of Monthly Favorites posts on TALC. That is something.

This is not to say that I didn’t eat any, though, because I certainly did. But I managed to cut way back, and I didn’t discover any new processed foods.

As for the rest, well, we’ve got the usual assortment of movies and T.V. series. Also, there are more products than usual on this list.

Take a look!

 

1). The Devotion of Suspect X (film)

 

 

We went to see The Devotion of Suspect X when we saw that it was playing in the theater near our house. The Chinese film (with English sub-titles) detailed a mysterious story whose reveal toward the end came as a surprise. I found the development of the two main characters (and their relationship) to be somewhat lacking, but the aspects that were emphasized were intriguing enough. All in all, the movie’s minor deficiencies didn’t have much of an impact on our enjoyment of it. It was an interesting time, and it was fun to see a film that we knew nothing about when we went in.

 

2). Split (film)

 

 

James McAvoy’s turn in Split is something to behold. Can one actor win 23 Best Actor awards for the same film? That is the question. Of course, I’m creating a wild exaggeration here… this is just to say that I was enthralled by McAvoy’s ability to shift from one personality to the next, and I thought that his main personalities were well-acted in their own right. His performance was truly stunning. I was also impressed with Anya Tayler-Joy’s performance. This is, in my opinion, one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better films.

 

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

 

 

Between Better Call Saul and The Good Fight, spin-off series have been some of our favorites! Better Call Saul gets better and better. We’re now at the point where we’re seeing the evolution of the liaisons in Breaking Bad, which is extremely satisfying. Last night’s episode left us on a particularly maddening cliff-hanger. Is it Monday yet?

 

4). Sorjonen (Bordertown) (Finnish T.V. series)

 

 

Here again we have a foreign language piece, only Sorjonen (English title: Bordertown) is a T.V. series. In fact, it’s the first foreign-language T.V. series we’ve seen. It’s in Finnish and Russian, sub-titled, of course, and it’s a crime thriller (surprise, surprise). It’s fun to watch the Finnish protagonist at work with his unique methodology, and his Russian counterpart is one of the more badass women (of the many) that I’ve seen in such pieces. Sorjonen was picked up by Netflix, so it’s binge-watch friendly!

 

5). D’anjou pears.

 

 

Pears are one of two repeats on this list. D’anjou pears are fabulous right now! They’re flavorful and refreshing straight from the refrigerator. I love pears as a transition fruit to stone-fruit season.

 

6). The Body Shop Vitamin E sink-in moisture sleeping mask.

 

The Body Shop Vitamin E sink-in moisture sleeping mask

 

Still addicted to The Body Shop. Still haven’t stepped foot in a Lush store or tried any Lush products… but old-school works for me. The Body Shop is a little costly, and its parent company is L’Oreal, but their products are cruelty-free and pretty reliably awesome.

This sleeping mask from their Vitamin E line is my latest TBS passion. It was my first foray into sleeping masks, so I didn’t have expectations going in. I put it on and immediately felt sort of like my skin couldn’t breathe… and also, the mask on my face felt tacky to the touch, which wasn’t the most pleasant feeling. Luckily, of course, you go to bed right away, so you’re asleep and unaware of how weird it feels. The important thing was that in the morning, I woke up and couldn’t believe how different my skin looked. My skin loves this mask! (My skin also loves The Body Shop’s Vitamin E serum-in-oil as a nightly treatment. And their Honey and Oat 3-in-1 moisturising scrub mask.)

 

7). The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey body butter.

 

The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey body butter

 

But wait! I’m not done raving about The Body Shop. They’re famous for their body butters, but this new one of theirs is something else. TBS Almond Milk & Honey body butter is silky, creamy, and rich, and it has an unexpected bouncy feel to it when you scoop it out. I love the way it sinks in and transforms my severely dry skin into soft skin, especially on my hands. Bonus: I love its fragrance; it’s exactly what it is. Almonds and honey.

 

8). Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh daily repairing moisturizer.

 

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh daily repairing moisturizer

 

When I went looking for a daytime moisturizer, I picked up this blueberry/age refresh one from Yes To. I loved their night cream (see below), so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with their daytime formula. It’s wonderful. I have a feeling it’s going to stay a favorite for a while.

 

9). Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh deep wrinkle night cream.

 

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh deep wrinkle night cream

 

This is an old favorite that you’ve probably seen before, if you’ve been reading here for a while. I loved this night cream, but I drifted away from it as I tried other products. I came across a lot of good ones, but I’ve circled back around to Yes To Blueberries. This night cream is just the best for my skin.

To give you an idea: I tried The Body Shop’s Vitamin E night cream in April, too (there was a crazy sale going on, so it was a good opportunity to try new things), and while it’s good, the Yes To night cream beat it to get on this list. Adding to its wonders, Yes To is a more affordable drugstore brand.

 

10). Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia perfume roll-on.

 

Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia perfume roll-on

 

This is a first: a cruelty-free fragrance (vegan, to boot) that I absolutely love. Its sillage is impressive, and its scent doesn’t change on my skin over time, which is probably the nature of a perfume oil. It’s not a chemical concoction. I picked this up at Sprouts on a whim, as I’d been on the hunt for a new fragrance. I love this one.

 

La Fin. Let’s see what there is to discover in May.

Happy Tuesday, All!

 

What I do for skin care. (HINT: SUNSCREEN)

Today, I’m obliging another reader request: a few of you have asked about my skin care routine, so I’ll go into it. First, let me state that as far as products go, there’s no one product that works for everyone – except – and this is a HUGE except – SUNSCREEN.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. I cannot emphasize the importance of sunscreen enough.

After my recent mole-mapping (skin cancer check), the dermatologist remarked that my skin “looks at least 20 years younger than it is, and it’s entirely because of your use of sunscreen.”

Contrary to popular belief, if my skin looks young, it’s not because I’m half-Asian. According to the dermatologist, I didn’t inherit Asian skin. I inherited English skin, which is from my biological father’s side. The key is SUNSCREEN, and also certain behaviors, which I’ll get into in a minute.

First, I’ll continue on about sunscreen, because I’m absolutely fanatical about it, and I believe that all of you should be fanatical about it, too.

(I know I’ve talked about this before. I’m happy to talk about it again. It’s really that important.)

Sunscreen (plus covering up in direct sunlight, but SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN) could save your life. I did “tan” and unwittingly sunburn myself on ski slopes and beaches when I was younger, so I’m already at high risk for skin cancer. There’s nothing I can do about that. It’s like quitting smoking… I quit when I was 23, but the fact is that I’m an ex-smoker, and that puts me at higher risk for lung cancer (than the general non-smoking population). Point being, the damage has been done.

But it’s never too late. We can turn our behaviors around to prevent high-risk from becoming higher-risk and then hope for the best, right? Right.

Moving on to what I do:

Behaviors

  • Wear lots of sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight. I put on sunscreen even if it’s overcast outside, and even if I’m not leaving the house that day at all.
  • Drink a lot of water (for hydration).
  • Avoid alcohol (to prevent dehydration, which leads to loss of skin elasticity and subsequent formation of wrinkles and sagging).
  • Greatly limit consumption of sugar and other simple carbs such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and white pasta (simple sugars age your skin from the inside by breaking down skin elasticity and causing inflammation via insulin level spiking, which also breaks down skin elasticity).
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Take certain supplements (I list mine below).
  • I eat more processed food than I should, but I do try to balance my diet with fresh fruit and veggies (for veggies, I mostly prefer greens, cruciferous vegetable, and salads).

Supplements

I take supplements every day. These include the following, which are good for your skin:

  • Vitamin A (collagen production)
  • Collagen (I primarily take it for my joints, but it has the same positive effect on skin)
  • Flax seed oil capsules (omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Green tea capsules (antioxidants)

 

BioCell collagen supplement

BioCell collagen supplement

 

Now for topical skin-care. I like to layer products. As with most everything, you’ll see experts advising this, and you’ll also see experts advising against this. Do what works for you!

Here’s what I do, in order:

Morning

  • Exfoliate
  • Eye cream
  • Mist with water
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen

Night

  • Gentle cleanser
  • Vitamin E facial oil (with serum)
  • Eye cream
  • Mist with water
  • Night cream

(I mist my face with water before putting on moisturizer because moisturizer works by locking in moisture. If there’s no moisture on your skin to begin with, the moisturizer is out of a job, and you’re wasting time and money.)

Once a week: Facial mask

Notes

  • I never rub my face dry. Instead, I press the towel onto my skin in different places, just to absorb the water. Skin hates it when you rub it with a towel. Skin also hates to be bone-dry.
  • I never go to bed with make-up on.
  • I use those white, non-latex triangle sponges for make-up application. I’ll take one and run it under water and then lightly squeeze a tissue around it, so it’s a little damp. I never wash and re-use them… I use a fresh one every time.
  • In sunscreens, I look for a broad-spectrum formula with SPF 30 and the highest concentration of zinc oxide I can find. Every single day. Rain or shine. Going out or not.
  • Any “anti-aging” products I use are from the drugstore. I haven’t ventured into the realm of prescription anti-aging products yet. The drugstore has some good products that aren’t tested on animals, and they’re much more affordable than high-end products, of course. While I have tried some high-end products, I always go back to drugstore products.
  • I keep my face make-up very light; I don’t like to feel my skin suffocating beneath heavy foundation. (<– I’m not sure how valid this concern is, but it’s my feeling for myself.)

Things I should be doing

  • I should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night (still working on it).
  • I should eat less processed food (at least I get in some fresh foods every day, too, as mentioned above).

Now to return to SUNSCREEN.

Here’s the scary thing: I’ve seen people on YouTube sharing their skin care routines, and I’m shocked by how many of them – pretty much all of them – omit sunscreen completely. They go from moisturizer straight to make-up. So while it’s never too late to start using sunscreen daily, I’m especially looking at you, younger people: Start now with the sunscreen. It could SAVE YOUR LIFE, and you’ll preserve your skin in the process.

Have I used enough repetition, caps, and italics regarding sunscreen? Good. My work here is done!

Shadow and light: January 2017 favorites!

There were so many “little things” that tripped my trigger (slang I picked up in the army) in January, I almost couldn’t decide which to include in this list. I try not to go beyond 10 because 10 already makes the “favorites” post pretty long.

I enjoy raving about productions I loved watching, and foods I loved eating (usually processed food, but you know that by now, if you’ve been here for a length of time). If I tried any new skin care/cosmetic-type products, I like to share those, too, if I think they’re great and I’m still using them.

So this list is par for the course. As usual, the food items are vegan and tasty (to me, anyway) and not terribly unhealthy nutrition-wise. The products are cruelty-free, meaning “not tested on animals.”

Let’s get into it!

 

1). Passengers (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-passengers

 

Passengers is candy, especially if you’re a fan of sci-fi action thrillers. You’ve got a guy who runs into some bad luck. Because he’s human and he wants to survive without completely losing his mind, he makes a decision that’s not the best for the other person involved… but in the end, the decision saves everyone, because the other person involved is a badass. That other person is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who does badasses pretty well. We were entertained and left the theater feeling like we’d spent a fun two or so hours that were worth whatever the tickets cost.

 

2). Hidden Figures (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hiddenfigures

 

Admittedly, we were lured to watch Hidden Figures partially because Cookie from Empire is in it. That would be Taraji P. Henson. With her versatile talent, she’s great in everything she does, but to me she’ll always be Cookie, just like Jeff Bridges will always be The Dude. Hidden Figures was high on my “to watch” list, anyway, though. I went into it already knowing that while it was a man who first went to the moon, it was a woman who got him there, so I was eager to watch the story unfold… and unfold well, it did. In Hidden Figures, we see the story (of these women and their roles in the historical NASA mission) told with focus on the social climate of the time, exemplifying ways in which segregation hindered progress. If you haven’t already seen this excellent and inspirational film, you may want to add it to your “to watch” list, too.

 

3). 2017 January Grand Sumo Tournament (Honbasho)

Sumo! We’re still obsessed with Sumo; we were thrilled that there was another Grand Tournament in January. Our question is, when will we see more Sumo incorporated into mixed martial artists’ game plans? It’s likely a matter of time before it joins the plethora of martial arts combined in MMA. Sumo is a technically intricate martial art, and it’s the most brutal one I’ve seen yet.

We wanted Kisenosato to win from Day 1 of January’s 15-day basho, and he did!! Behold the champion’s Tale of the Tape:

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-sumorikishi_kisenosato

 

 

4). The O.A. (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theoa

 

The O.A. was our binge-watch T.V. series of the month. (Thank you, Netflix, for releasing your series’ episodes all at once.) In The O.A., we saw nods to Netflix’ Sense8 and Stranger Things, both, and we enjoyed it as much, which is a lot. If you love a good dramystery (has anyone coined that term yet?) with a sci-fi/fantasy bend, you may enjoy this one, as well.

 

5). This is Us (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-thisisus

 

Speaking of hybrid T.V. genres, here’s This is Us, a brilliant dramedy that captured our admiration and affection right from the start. It can’t be easy weaving hilarity into dramatic (sometimes heavy) scenes and situations, but these writers and actors and directors do it with aplomb. This is Us became an instant favorite of ours.

 

Moving on to products…

6). Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint and Rosemary body wash.

 

Burt's Bees Fabulously Fresh peppermint and rosemary body wash

Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh peppermint and rosemary body wash

 

The scent of this body wash is redolent of a sauna… to my nose, its combination of peppermint and rosemary gives off a very similar rustic, invigorating, and warm aroma. It’s unusual. The first time I used it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. By the end of the shower, I realized what it reminded me of. Now I’m enraptured and I sometimes take two showers a day just so I can inhale this scent. I may have a problem.

 

7). Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm (Red Dahlia).

 

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm (red dahlia)

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm (red dahlia)

 

I added this tinted lip balm to my collection of Burt’s Bees lip products (which is getting slightly out of hand). What can I say? For over a year… maybe two… I haven’t used anything on my lips but Burt’s Bees. The Red Dahlia tint to this lip balm is similar to the Redwood Forest lip crayon that’s my go-to shade when I want more saturated color on my lips. I’ve had the tinted lip balm in Hibiscus, a pinkish shade, for a while now. I love that one, as well.

 

8). Pacifica Alight multi-mineral BB cream.

 

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

 

This one’s a rediscovery: I found my old tube of Pacifica BB cream when I was organizing my life a few weeks ago. I used it the next day and remembered everything I loved about it. Its sheerness leaves a lovely, dewy finish on the skin (not sure how this would work on oily skin types), and it feels like you’re wearing moisturizer. I plan to repurchase this product when I’ve used up this tube.

 

Now for food!

9). Larabar Fruits & Greens (strawberry spinach cashew).

 

Larabara Fruits and Greens (strawberry spinach cashew)

Larabara Fruits and Greens (strawberry spinach cashew)

 

Okay, I found this bar to be strange at first. Like apple cider vinegar water, these particular Larabars were somewhat of an acquired taste for me… but it took just one before I was hooked. This bar gives you fruit, greens, and nuts compacted into a chewy treat that’s slightly sweet, and slightly tart. It’s made of plants and nuts. If you can acquire the taste, you really can’t go wrong with this! I keep one in my bag at all times.

 

10). Trader Joe’s Wild Rice & Mushroom Sausage-less Sausage.

 

Trader Joe's wild rice & mushroom sausage-less sausage

Trader Joe’s wild rice & mushroom sausage-less sausage

 

Trader Joe’s came up with this wonderful plant-based sausage that balances umami (savory) with salty in all its herbalicious glory. We love this stuff. I think there are other varieties of Trader Joe’s veggie sausages; we’re looking forward to trying them out.

That brings us to the end. I’ve already got some things on my list for February!