Intensity before our eyes. (July Favorites!)

Most of this list is stuff we watched. I tried no new products in July. Two of the three food items here aren’t even new. I’ve just never mentioned them.

That being said, that which we watched in July made for some intense entertainment, some of it difficult to watch. It wasn’t all weighty and dark, though.

Let’s take a look!


1). To the Bone (film, Netflix)



I don’t know what life is like inside an eating disorder, but I would guess that this film captures a realistic glimpse of what it might be like… for both patients and their family members. To the Bone focuses on a young woman struggling with anorexia nervosa. We were surprised to find ourselves laughing a bit, which felt awkward at first – I would never expect to laugh while watching a film about eating disorder patients – but we’re supposed to laugh. To the Bone is a fine example of a dramedy, deftly scripted with humor to help make a serious and uncomfortable subject more understandable.

I’m not sure that I would recommend this film to everyone, as it may be triggering. Watch with caution.


2). Ozark (T.V. series)



What’s this?! It’s another Netflix original crime drama/thriller. Atmospheric Ozark stars Jason Bateman, whose outstanding turn as the desperate protagonist should earn him Best Actor nominations throughout the 2017 awards season next year. We were impressed when we saw the trailer, and with the cast including Laura Linney, we marked it on the calendar. Bateman was great, Linney didn’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers – thrillers such as Breaking Bad, let’s say – then you’ll likely enjoy this one.


3). Black Mirror (T.V. series) – S3 “Hated in the Nation” and “San Junipero”



Netflix’ sci-fi thriller Black Mirror is the series we watch when we’re in the mood to have our brains scrambled. I’m thinking particularly of season 3’s “Playtest,” followed by “Shut Up and Dance.” Season 2’s “White Bear” did it, too, as well as season 1’s “Fifteen Million Merits.” Never before had we encountered a series whose episodes made us say “Well that was a mindf*ck” so consistently.

This series is unique in that I couldn’t binge-watch it. That would be a bad mental health decision.

Black Mirror episodes are written as stand-alone stories, so they can be watched in any order. We haven’t seen them all, but of the episodes we have seen, the above-mentioned ones were made more disturbing by their very excellence. Two other season 3 episodes, though, stood out. They weren’t disturbing so much as they were just plain successful at being mysterious (“San Junipero”) and thrilling (“Hated in the Nation”).

I think it’s safe to say that if you like The Twilight Zone, you’ll dig Black Mirror.


4). The Handmaid’s Tale (T.V. series)



The Handmaid’s Tale takes Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and brings it to chilling life in this outstanding Hulu original series. Elisabeth Moss may well have secured herself major awards nominations for her performance as Offred. There was also stunning beauty before our eyes in the town of Gilead: anywhere we hit “pause,” the image on the screen could’ve been a Vermeer painting. The use of color and music play strong roles in the telling of this story.

Sidenote: Callaghan found The Handmaid’s Tale to be so unsettling that we took a long break from it… we started it in June and finished it in July. We returned to it after we saw The Keepers (next on this list), which made The Handmaid’s Tale seem mild.


5). The Keepers (T.V. series)



I honestly don’t know what to say about this Netflix docuseries. I think it’s important to watch, but I would not call it “entertainment.”

Two middle-aged women – former classmates at a Catholic high school in Maryland – continue their efforts to solve the case of their teacher Sister Cathy Cesnik’s murder. A priest and the Archdiocese of Baltimore come under scrutiny, and horrors are uncovered in the process. By the end of episode two, we were disgusted and enraged into speechlessness. We watched the seven episodes over the course of a week, and when it was over, we immediately signed the petition. I do recommend this docuseries, but again, my recommendation comes with a trigger warning (this one for sexual abuse).


6). Gypsy (T.V. series)



Admittedly, it was only Naomi Watts’ name that drew our attention to this Netflix series; we had no idea what Gypsy was about. Turned out we’d gotten ourselves into a psychological thriller, which we kept watching because of its intrigue… from beginning to end (of the season), we never stopped asking, “What is going on, exactly?” Naomi Watts plays a shrink whose behavior, um, deviates from the norm. I’ll just leave it at that! We did enjoy Gypsy, though, and I would recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for a different sort of ride.


7). GLOW (T.V. series)



I’m finishing this part of the list with GLOW, an offbeat Netflix dramedy that gave us a respite from the heavy intensity of the rest. GLOW was a treat. It’s smart and satirically (sometimes crudely) funny. It combines combat sports, misfit women, and the 80’s. There are a few turning-point situations in the women’s lives, and there’s some outlandish and creative problem-solving… solemn moments and hilarity held together with Aqua Net. An original, indeed!

Now let’s get into the food….


8).  Pearls pitted Kalamata Greek olives.


Pearls pitted Kalamata Greek olives


I love these olives in my salads. I always have, but now I have them on hand at all times, and I eat a few of them every day. I’m sure I’ll cycle through this olive phase eventually, but it’ll be one of those recurring phases. I can tell.


9). Nectarines.




All of a sudden, in the third week of July, I realized that I hadn’t eaten a single summer stone fruit since the cherries my parents brought when they visited in May. It was like I’d had blinders on in the grocery store. How could it be that I’d been so intent on finding the red grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pears, oranges, and bananas that I’d failed to see the plethora of peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots right before my eyes? I’m still eating those other fruits, but I’m also making up for lost time. At the moment, I’m swooning over the white nectarines. Better late than never!


10). Trader Joe’s extra virgin olive oil.


Trader Joe’s extra virgin olive oil


There’s actually nothing new about Trader Joe’s extra virgin olive oil in our house. It just occurred to me, as we went to pick up yet another bottle, that it’s one of our staple foods, and I’ve never mentioned it in a “favorites” list. We eat salads at least four days per week, so we go through these big bottles of Trader Joe’s olive oil pretty quickly. It’s a good, dependable favorite, and the spout that comes with it makes it friendly to use, as well.


This brings us to the end. Heading into August! Much to anticipate already!

What I’m Digging Right Now – November Favorites

November favorites are here! Let’s get right into it and start with food, shall we?

1). KeVita sparkling probiotic drink in strawberry acai coconut.


KeVita! Doesn't that word make you want to dance?

KeVita! Doesn’t that word make you want to dance?


Let’s just say that ever since a friend introduced me to this softly fizzy, mildly fruity and lightly sweet probiotics drink, I’ve considered probiotics to be my spirit animal.


2). Mrs. May’s All Natural Cashew Crunch.


Mrs. May's All Natural Cashew Crunch slow dry-roasted snack (original flavor)

Mrs. May’s All Natural Cashew Crunch slow dry-roasted snack (original flavor)


Guys, I stumbled upon this sweet, healthy and wholesome snack at Ross a few weeks ago and literally squealed with delight. I used to go to the airport just to buy this, since I couldn’t find it anywhere else. It’s been years since I’ve indulged my addiction to it, and I’d actually forgotten about it until I found it by accident again. Love.


3). Garlic from Gilroy.


All hail to the garlic from Gilroy!

All hail to the garlic from Gilroy!


We pass through the town of Gilroy when we drive to San Jose, California, and this last time, when we went for Thanksgiving, we stopped and picked up a bunch of garlic from the side of the road. Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world, or something like that, and I’m here to testify that garlic from Gilroy is a whole ‘nother species of garlic from its supermarket cousins. Mounds of garlic sautéed in olive oil and piled on pasta never tasted so good!


4). Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Graham Clusters cereal.


Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Graham Clusters cereal

Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Graham Clusters cereal


Here’s another Go Lean cereal flavor that captured my everlasting affection. When I took my first bite, the first thing I thought was Lucky Charms! Okay, it doesn’t actually taste like Lucky Charms, but it does remind me of them, vaguely, or enough, anyway, for it to trigger all the good memories from my childhood. With 11 grams of protein per serving, you really can’t go wrong with this. It is delightful with almond milk. Do recommend!


5). Vega protein smoothie powder in Viva Vanilla.


Vega protein smoothie in Viva Vanilla

Vega protein smoothie in Viva Vanilla


I’m really not a vanilla fanatic… it’s coincidental that there are two vanilla-flavored favorites on my list this month. It just kind of happened that way. The Kashi cereal brings memories of Lucky Charms, and this plant-based protein powder right here whirled up in the Nutribullet with plain, cold water? Tastes like vanilla ice cream! It’s not terribly high in protein, since it’s the smoothie mix rather than the actual protein powder (Vega makes both)… but you get 15 grams of protein in only 80 calories in that little glass of vanilla ice cream-tasting goodness. Drinking a serving of this is my favorite way to add a low-calorie shot of protein to my day.

Let’s move on to products!


6). CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion for normal to dry skin.


CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion for normal to dry skin

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion for normal to dry skin


I picked this up because I needed a basic moisturizer to use after those times I take an early evening shower (post-workout), not wanting to put on a thick, rich night cream until right before bed, but I was hooked after first use, and I haven’t used anything else at night ever since. My thick, rich night cream has been collecting dust. I should probably start using it again, too… I’m a fan of layering products… but just saying. This lotion by CeraVe is pretty amazing stuff.


7). Cover Girl Ready, Set, Gorgeous Foundation.


Cover Girl Ready, Set Gorgeous! in 115

Cover Girl Ready, Set Gorgeous! in 115


I really don’t know why I bought this in the first place… I didn’t need it, since I’d recently purchased (and featured on a “favorites” list) a foundation by L’Oreal. I think it caught my eye one day and I remembered that I’d read rave reviews about it, and it just looked so small and cute and innocuous, like, what harm can come from trying me?  Whatever the case, it’s my new favorite. Not only has it kicked L’Oreal out of its spot on my list of favorite foundations, but I’ve also stopped using my Benefit concealer since I discovered that I can spot-apply this as a cover-up, too. It layers really well, feels great, lasts all day and doesn’t cost much.

And finally, entertainment…


8). Nightcrawler (film)


Jake Gyllenhaal. Jake Gyllenhaal in a gritty, dark, intelligent film. We saw this on Veteran’s Day, and it struck us as brilliant on many levels. Does Jake ever choose projects we don’t like? Come to think of it, no, but we found this film to be especially compelling.


9). John Wick (film)


Okay, now, this, folks, is what film-candy is made of, and finally, unbelievably, here’s an action flick that managed to restore my faith in Keanu Reeves. Loved it.


10). Miranda Sings.


Who makes me laugh, besides Callaghan? This girl right here! Miranda Sings.

Who makes me laugh, besides Callaghan? This girl right here! Miranda Sings.


I started watching Miranda Sings videos and immediately found myself semi-obsessed with her music videos, so when she came to Tempe to perform in November, I had to drop everything and scour Craigslist for tickets to her sold-out show. This girl is freaking hilarious! Go watch her videos!! Here, I’ll get you started:



Now, let’s see what December brings!