New Year’s Resolutions and 2014 Favorites!

Just over a week into 2015, I’m finally posting my “2014 Favorites” list with the little things I enjoyed the most, reached for the most, or just generally all-around dug the most last year.

Some things that landed on my Monthly Favorites lists in 2014 turned out to be notable UNfavorites, such as the Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain lip color, which started out feeling great, but ultimately caused my lips to flake off, and the T.V. series Stalker, which started out fun, but ended up proving to be a big disappointment.

Before we get too far into the New Year, I also wanted to share my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions with you, especially since one of them ties in nicely with these “Favorites” posts. I have two resolutions this year:

1). Get more sleep!! (7-8 hours/night)

2). Switch to cruelty-free skincare products, cosmetics, hair products and other personal care items as much as possible.

I plan to make every effort on that second one, but I’m looking sideways at my beloved Korean Epielle facial sheet masks and the Jergens Natural Glow gradual self-tanning lotion that keeps my legs from blinding my Body Combat class with their natural snowy whiteness.

I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but I’ve been too intimidated by the challenge, and too reluctant to spend money on expensive products. Things are different now, though, and I’m not anticipating any difficulties in finding great, budget-friendly, cruelty-free products. The time is right! Throughout the year, I’ll refer to this list on mybeautybunny.com, as it’s meticulously updated. For instance, if a brand starts to sell in China, a country that requires animal testing on products, a warning will pop up on the list.

As for that first resolution about sleep, I’ve already got a good start on that one, thanks to the stomach flu. I actually blame sleep deprivation for coming down with that bug in the first place. Callaghan gets more sleep than I do by several hours per night, and he did not get sick. Silver lining to the stomach flu: I have a fail-proof incentive to make sure I get enough sleep on a regular basis! Adequate sleep keeps the bad things away.

So, as I was starting to say before I veered off into resolutions, of all the things I’ve listed over the months of 2014, some stood out more than others. There were T.V. series and movies that left us speechless, foods I couldn’t get enough of, and products that were game-changers. Some of the things on this list didn’t even appear in the Monthly Favorites lists, so they’re appearing here for the first time.

That being said, onward with this sampling of some of my favorite little things from 2014. I’ll start with products, since they follow my cruelty-free resolution (see… I got a head start)!

 

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

 

The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica's Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.

The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.

 

This is advertised as a makeup remover-cleanser-toner product, but the refreshing, invigorating wipes quickly became my go-to facial cleansing product in harried times, and I’ve been re-purchasing them continuously. I don’t use them for removing makeup… I use them in lieu of actual cleansing on days (or nights) I don’t have time for the whole soap-and-water thing. Without fail, I use them on Saturday mornings before putting on sunscreen and heading to the gym. I jump in the shower as soon as I get home, and I don’t see the point in washing my face “for real” twice in a morning (I do put sunscreen on twice, though).

 

2). Cosmetic: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original.

 

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My favorite eyeshadow primer by Urban Decay.

 

Urban Decay is one of the high-end cruelty-free brands. I don’t mind splurging on their eyeshadow primer potion, because each tube lasts forever, apparently, and it works so well. I’ve been using my current tube for almost a year; I finally picked up another one just because I figured it’s got to end any day now, and yet that was almost two months ago, and it hasn’t. It’s magic!

 

3). Fast food: Chipotle’s sofritas (tofu).

 

My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas

My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas

 

Chipotle’s black beans and brown rice were always a good enough reason for me to enjoy going there, but now they’ve completely won me over with the brilliant creation of their vegan sofritas dish. It’s basically a hearty, spicy, perfectly seasoned tofu chili. The omnivorous Callaghan loves it, too, because its texture is pretty much the same as ground beef. An omnivore would never take a bite of this and say, “I’m eating tofu.”

My standard Chipotle order is a burrito bowl with sofritas, brown rice, black beans, grilled onions and peppers, pico de gallo, hot sauce, lettuce and guacamole. I don’t mind paying extra for the guac. It’s one of my favorite things in the world, and I value the addition of the healthy fats!

 

4). Beverage: Sumatra ground coffee from Starbucks.

 

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

 

“Beverage.” I just love that word. Careful, man, there’s a beverage here! I’m just so pleased that we stumbled upon some really good coffee on the humble shelves of Target, I can’t even tell you. I don’t drink a lot of coffee every day, but I like the coffee I do drink to be solidly satisfying. Starbucks’ ground Sumatra kills it.

 

5). Protein bar: Clif (snack size) Builder’s bars.

 

Clif Builder's Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

 

Clif Bar makes my favorite everyday treat. As far as protein bars go, the snack size bars aren’t terribly high in protein (10 grams – it’s a small bar), but they’re higher in protein than your average candy bar, certainly higher in protein than most treats with only 140 calories, they’re nutrient-dense, there’s nothing bad in them, and they are, for the most part, vegan. The peanut butter ones are my standard 10:00-10:30am snack at work. If I have one after dinner instead, I go for the chocolate mint.

 

6). Activity: Body Combat.

 

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An hour of someone guiding me through a kick-ass cardio workout in which I can practice almost every martial art I’ve ever studied? Yes, please! This is like cardio shadow-boxing at someone’s command (mostly bad music notwithstanding). All I have to do is show up. It’s fun, it’s an awesome workout, the instructors are fantastic, we’ve met some wonderful people there… it’s a no-brainer!

 

7). Big Thing: XXL WaveMaster heavy bag.

 

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

 

Practicing my form in Body Combat is one thing, but cardio shadow-boxing only whets the appetite for the next level. I did a drop-in kick-boxing class at a place with bags one day last year, and the surge of excitement as I made actual contact and worked with a partner had my head swimming with twinkly visions of heavy bags, target mitts and medicine balls ever since. Then Christmas rolled around and Callaghan’s gift arrived. Awesome!!

 

8). Small Thing: Travel cup from Starbucks.

 

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

 

Not one, but two Starbucks products on this list! What is happening?! I remember being tempted to travel back through the dusty spring desert to Blythe, California early in 2014 to get this travel cup where I first spotted it, but then hitting numerous Starbucks stores around the Valley, instead, until I found it here. I’m so glad I did. I’ve become kind of embarrassingly attached to it. I carry it with me practically everywhere at work, and it starts a lot of conversations with various aspects of its design. I love it just because it’s awesome, though.

 

9). T.V.: The Killing, Homeland and The Good Wife

 

thatasianlookingchick.cm-the-killing-season-4-poster

 

HOMELAND (Season 4)

 

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Here we have a murder mystery/crime drama, a spy drama, and a legal drama. All of our cliffhanger needs were met in 2014. Figuratively speaking, our nails were bitten to the quick during these shows (especially during Homeland last fall, holy smokes)!!

Honestly, we saw so much good T.V. in 2014, I had a hard time narrowing it down. We loved House of Cards, The Following, True Detective, Hannibal and Mad Men. For comedies, we love Modern Family and Bob’s Burgers. Our token fluff comedy is Hart of Dixie. Gotta have the fluff!

 

10). Film: Edge of Tomorrow, Nightcrawler and The Babadook

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

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I love action, intrigue and terror, and between these three movies, 2014 delivered big time with this excellent trio of releases. That reminds me – American Sniper was released yesterday!!

That about wraps up this list – I’m looking forward to the fantabulous little things of 2015; in the coming year, expect to find mentions of books, articles and music (along with lots of cruelty-free products)!

Happy Friday, All. =)

What I’m Digging Right Now – October Favorites

Good morning! I thought I’d take a minute to highlight some of my current favorite things, because it is all about “the little things,” right?

1). The fall air, crisp and cool coming in through the open window at night.

 

Nounours and Ronnie James love the cool night air, too.

Nounours and Ronnie James love the cool night air, too.

 

2). Fall-scented candles. My favorite so far is Yankee Candle’s Autumn Wreath.

 

Cheerful during the day, spooky at night, and it smells wonderful!

Cheerful during the day, spooky at night, and it smells wonderful!

 

3). The current seasons of Homeland, American Horror Story: Coven and Hart of Dixie.*

 

The great trilogy - our favorite series this season

The great trilogy – our favorite series this season

 

(And the combination of those above three things? Sublime.)

4). My new necklace in the shape of the state of Arizona, which I ordered online (it was my October “mois-versary” gift from Callaghan).

 

State necklace from Baublebar.com. I chose Arizona and ordered it in tortoiseshell with a heart cut-out where Phoenix is, with a 16" sterling silver chain.

State necklace from Baublebar.com. I chose Arizona and ordered it in tortoiseshell with a heart cut-out where Phoenix is, with a 16″ sterling silver chain.

 

5). Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Luna Bars.

 

They were on sale at Sprouts (5 for $5.00), so I took advantage!

They were on sale at Sprouts (5 for $5.00), so I took advantage!

 

6). Thug Kitchen, a food blog whose recipes are creative, scrumptious, healthy, easy and fun to read (if you share my sense of humor).

 

CaptureThugKitchen

 

7). Elevation Burger.

 

Quick! Someone in Phoenix, buy a franchise and open it now THANK YOU. =)

Quick! Someone in Phoenix, buy a franchise and open it now THANK YOU. =)

 

They have a vegetarian burger and a vegan burger, and the latter is a feat of culinary kickass by anyone’s standards. Also, their fries are fantastic and cooked in healthy olive oil. Okay, I’ve just decided that I’m going to make a list of “Top Ten Things I’ll Miss about Austin,” just so I can put Elevation Burger on it!

8). It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin.

In this little bottle, we have THE ANSWER to my current First World beauty problem (that’s a redundancy, I know), which is that my hair is in an unmanageable stage of growing-out bangs and an awkward cut with even more awkward layers and over-texturized ends. I’ve recently started dealing with the whole mess by pretending that the bangs already don’t exist, and the result is a cascading achievement of blah. ENTER THIS PRODUCT.

 

It really is a miracle.

It really is a miracle.

 

I’d been stalking it for some time, but its price tag had deterred me… until I saw it on sale at Target last week. It was still expensive, but I felt less guilty springing for it when it was $4.00 off (and I got the small size – 4 fl. oz). Turns out, it’s totally the miracle product it claims to be, so it’s worth the expense, as far as I’m concerned. See how shiny, soft and tame my hair looks in the above picture? That’s because of this stuff. That’s all I put in my hair after I washed it that day, and I didn’t do anything to it after that… it’s air-dried and uncombed. Seriously.

9). Movies about Formula 1 racing.

 

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10). This Matt & Nat bag I unearthed from a pile in a thrift store for $9.00, a rare find.

 

It's large, in perfect condition and probably originally cost between $150.00-$200.00. I thrifted it for $9.00!

It’s large, in perfect condition and probably originally cost between $150.00-$200.00. I thrifted it for $9.00!

 

What are you crazy about right now?

—–

*Since I posted about our Pretty Little Liars addiction, we’ve lost interest in that show! Writing about it broke the spell, oddly enough.

On Breaking Bad and Jedi Cookies

Well. It’s been over three days since The Shipping arrived, but we’re still negotiating around piles of boxes and stuff. However, there’s a reason for our lack of significant progress in unpacking and organizing. We have no self-control. In the last few weeks, Breaking Bad has happened to our lives; once we started it, we quickly realized that it’s as addictive as the drugs it’s about. The more we watched, the harder it became to stop watching. We finally caught ourselves up, and then this morning we hopped online as soon as we woke up (I admit this to you with no shame whatsoever) to see if we could access last night’s episode. We could! So that was the first thing we did today – we watched Breaking Bad while drinking our coffee, surrounded by the mayhem of boxes.

It’s a fine way to start any day, as far as I’m concerned.

In the last year, several television series have taken us delightfully hostage with their excellence: American Horror Story, The Following (brought to my attention by one of you awesome readers), House of Cards, Homeland, Damages and Game of Thrones. Stunning works of art, all. Cute fluff such as Hart of Dixie mildly amused and entertained us. We discovered Arrested Development and greatly enjoyed it… up until the newly released episodes of this year, which did not inspire hilarity the way the prior seasons did. (We felt that the momentum had been lost, and the revised strategy behind it somehow resulted in awkward and left the jokes sitting outside, where they went stale.) And somewhere along the way, we found ourselves inexplicably sucked into Pretty Little Liars, which made no sense at all on any level, but it provided a steady stream of light and cheesy entertainment for quite a while. Purpose served! We’re not above it.

But Breaking Bad? Genius! 99.9% Pure genius. Everything about it astonishes… the writing, the acting, the direction. The character development, and the story, itself, it’s all just phenomenal. It lives up to the hype better than anything I’ve ever seen. We’re glad that we waited so long to start watching it, because starting it when we did brought us seamlessly up to the Final Season now airing. Our timing was perfect, albeit at the expense of making a swift job of the unpacking and organizing around here.

So that’s our status today. Surrounded by stuff, but current with Breaking Bad and waiting impatiently for next week’s episode, along with the show’s hundreds of thousands of other addicts.

On another note, the kitchen being buried in boxes precluded cooking for a few days, so on Saturday night we called in for Thai food from a mixed Asian cuisine place. I found fortune cookies at the bottom of the bag, which excited me. I never eat them, but I open them, anyway, because I enjoy reading the fortunes. The superstition is a remnant of my childhood. I like to believe in these things.

The problem is that in the last ten years or so, fortune cookie “fortunes” have become platitudes more and more, rather than predictions. “Everything happens for a reason.” “This, too, shall pass.” Like that. Still, I feel a hopeful thrill when I see a fortune cookie. Maybe this time it’ll be an actual fortune! I always think.

I brought the two cookies to Callaghan, opened one, and read: “May the good spirits be with you always.”

“That’s not a fortune cookie. That’s a Jedi cookie,” Callaghan said indignantly.

Fortune from the Jedi cookie.

Fortune from the Jedi cookie.

Hmm… better to think of it as a Jedi cookie than as a non-fortune, right? That eases the disappointment somewhat! A Jedi cookie. I like that.

“The Dude’s not in. Leave a message after the beep.”

A while back, we were watching something, and there was a reference to boiling a bunny. Hart of Dixie, perhaps? I think it was Zoe Hart… she was talking to Lavon or someone about Wade – or maybe about George? – saying something along the lines of, “I’m not going to boil his bunny or anything like that.” (I could be misremembering this. Maybe it wasn’t Hart of Dixie at all.) Whatever the case, it made me snicker, and it brought to light an important information deficit. Callaghan didn’t get the reference. It turned out that he didn’t know anything about boiling bunnies, because he’d never seen Fatal Attraction. This threw me off. Callaghan got his American citizenship (he has dual French/American citizenship status) back in 2003, and I don’t know, I guess I’d just assumed that familiarity with Fatal Attraction is some sort of requirement. I mean, shouldn’t it be on the citizenship test? How can you claim to be an American if you don’t know about Glenn Close boiling a bunny? The cliché has become as American as baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, as the old commercial jingle goes. It’s circa 1980’s American Pop Culture 101 material.

So we watched Fatal Attraction, effectively rectifying the situation. Now, Callaghan has all the background he needs on Glenn Close and boiling bunnies, and he is enriched. His life is complete. What would he do without me?

Being dedicated pop culture afficionados, we ventured downtown Friday night to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Ritz) for The Big Lebowski Quote-Along, so we could sit in a theater with a bunch of fellow Big Lebowski geeks and shout out the famous lines captioned on the screen (lines we all know by heart, anyway), waving our glow sticks for The Jesus and swinging our oversize blow-up baseball bats to show Larry what happens when you fuck a stranger up the ass. Our waitress brought a White Russian for Callaghan, a tall glass of ice water for me, and a huge metal bowl of the best movie theater popcorn we’ve ever had.

The timing was great, since we’d been overdue for a Big Lebowski fix. Satiated, we emerged from the theater onto the thumping street. 6th Street in Austin at almost 2:00 on a Saturday morning looks like this:

 

Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.

Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.

 

6th St, Austin (6/28/13)

 

6th St, Austin (6/28/13)

 

Even the going-home was entertaining! The bus that took us back to our apartment is dubbed “The Night Owl,” but it should be called “The Party Bus,” because that’s exactly what it is. From 6th Street to our apartment. Direct.

No In-and-Out Burger on the way home for us, though. Nor music by the Eagles. You see what happens, Larry?

Dear Fellow Airplane Passengers:

We wish we weren’t THOSE PEOPLE on your flight, but we are. We’re sick. Not only that, but we’re the worst kind of sick for flying – we’re coughing. Yes! Surprise! We are your in-flight airborne virus carriers… and we’re so sorry. It’s been cold and rainy here, and we caught this bug (of the sore/scratchy throat, coughing, losing our voice variety) from a neighbor just this last week. The timing couldn’t be worse, we know.

We’re uncomfortable, but we’re more concerned about you than about ourselves, really. It’s just unfair to have to sit on an airplane with sick people. Believe me when I say that we’ve been trying to speed up the healing process for your benefit. We’ve been to the doctor, who put us on a variety of medications. We gargle with hydrogen peroxide twice a day, trying to kill germs in our throats, and we’re taking lots of vitamin C. We’ve been eating fresh oranges. We’ve been drinking lots of water. We’ve been huddling up to the kerosene heater, keeping as warm as possible. We’ve also been resting a lot… even while having to get so much done in our last days here.

Laughter heals. We tried to watch the new Arrested Development, but so far, it’s failed to make us LOL (we gave it a good three-episode shot), so we’ve put that on hold and settled back into Hart of Dixie, which had started to drag a little toward the end of season one, but has blossomed into a fluffy delight in season two. It’s coming through with exactly the simple, cute lightness we need right now! And we love Rachel Bilson, who we think possesses good comedic timing and resembles a young and even prettier Brigitte Bardot. (Our opinion!)

 

Rachel Bilson

Rachel Bilson

 

So we’ve been trying. But we’re still coughing. You will give us dirty looks, and we will understand. We’ll try not to cough in your direction; we’ll keep our heads down. We loaded up our tablet with a zombie movie: Warm Bodies. Nothing like a zombie movie for traveling! That, and Kit-Kats.