Too many screens. All the foods. Let’s Go! (September Favorites!)

September is over, fall has begun (it was 60 degrees when we woke up this morning! Woo!), some of our favorite T.V. series have premiered, theaters have been swarming with more good movies than we could see, though we’ve seen a few… and, well. After this epic pile-up of hours spent in front of various screens, including the hours I’ve spent sitting here writing, I’m feeling like a blob right about now. But a well-entertained blob. A well-worked blob. And a well-fed blob. In fact, there’s too much blobbiness going on around here, so I’m engaging mindful mode.* Too much of a good thing, blahbidy, blah, blob.

[*By “mindful mode,” I mean, not eating in front of the screens quite as much. Haha.]

Body Combat is, as usual, saving my ass from slipping into complete blobdom. The new release is a monster. Review coming Friday!

Back to September favorites.  Lots of T.V. these days, and more is coming: Haters Back Off premieres this month. (I love Miranda Sings. Fingers crossed the show is good.) The Affair premiers in November. It’s good that Homeland won’t premiere until January this time around, because there’s already way too much going on. ~Movies, as mentioned, and food, as usual! No beauty products this time.

And now, with limited commentary, here are a few things that tripped my trigger in September:

 

1). Hell or High Water (film)

 

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You may have already read my thoughts on this film. If you haven’t, you can read it here.

NOTE: If you click any links in this post, their pages will open in the same window, so you’ll have to hit the back button to return here. WP changed their link function and I haven’t toyed with it enough to figure out how to get links to open in a new window.

 

2). Don’t Breathe (film)

 

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Ditto! Click here to read my thoughts about this film.

 

T.V. up next:

3). Broadchurch (T.V. series)

 

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Mom recommended this one, saying that it’s excellent. Mom, as usual, was right. Reminiscent of The Killing, Broadchurch is based on a true story. It drew us in. David Tennant and Olivia Colman are brilliant, and as with any good murder mystery, we were tempted to binge this series. And so we did.

 

4). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (T.V. series)

 

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We love a fresh, new comedy, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt nails the “fresh” part. In keeping with Kimmy’s personality, I’d use the word “zany” to describe the humor in this series. This one’s a charmer. Highly recommend!

 

6). The new seasons of American Horror Story, Empire, and Modern Family

 

American Horror Story: Roanoke

American Horror Story: Roanoke

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-empire

 

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…because WOW, these series. I’m enjoying the latest perverted installment from Ryan Murphy’s sick, sick mind (AHS: Roanoke), and Empire never fails to astound me with its Shakespearean brilliance (it starts out as King Lear and goes from there), and the talent in its cast and every aspect of its production. It’s great to have Modern Family back, too… it’s a charmer that never disappoints.

 

Food!

7). Seedless red grapes.

 

Seedless red grapes

Seedless red grapes

 

Crisp, sweet, and delicious red grapes. I seem to transition into the equinoxes eating red grapes. They buffer the fall space between summer fruits and apples, and again between spring’s citrus and berries.

 

8). Colombian dark chocolate (in bulk at Sprouts).

 

Colombian dark chocolate in the bulk bin at Sprouts

Colombian dark chocolate in the bulk bin at Sprouts

 

We’ve been keeping this chocolate on hand all month. Callaghan doesn’t usually like dark chocolate, but he’s a huge fan of this Colombian variety in bulk at Sprout’s. In fact, he’s the one who discovered it. I’m not too picky about dark chocolate, as long as it’s dark enough to be vegan, but I have to admit, there’s something special about this particular dark chocolate. Who knows what they put into it down there in Colombia.

 

9). Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels.

 

Trader Joe's sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels

Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels

 

Mid-September, I had a moment of nervousness when my doctor ordered blood tests to check me for food allergies. I immediately thought of the worst (of course)… what if the tests showed that I was allergic to wheat/gluten? My mind went into overdrive coming up with wasteland scenarios, myself in the center of them, doomed to a life bereft of the pastas and breads that are my mainstays. Thankfully, the tests all came back negative.

Anyway, I went to Trader Joe’s and got this variety of their bagels, and they’re so good. SO GLAD and grateful that I can eat them!

 

10). Chipotle Tabasco sauce.

 

Chipotle Tabasco sauce (on avocado toast)

Chipotle Tabasco sauce (on avocado toast)

 

One of my new favorite things is to smash up an avocado, spread it on toasted whole wheat bread, give it a scant grind of pink Himalayan salt, and douse it with chipotle Tabasco sauce. The rich smokiness of the sauce does something to the avocado that you have to taste to understand. You’re welcome.

Yay!

 

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2015 Favorites!

Today, instead of “December Favorites,” I’m diving right into my top favorite little things (some not so little!) of the year that just ended. These are my favorites of the favorites… if some of them are from December, you wouldn’t have seen them here before.

If you’re curious or you just enjoy these “Favorites” posts, read on! Here are the things I loved the most in 2015:

1). Favorite cruelty-free skin care products: Burt’s Bees coconut & pear moisturizing lip balm, The Body Shop camomile waterproof eye and lip make-up remover, The Body Shop honey & oat 3-in-1 scrub mask, Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 face cream, Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter eye treatment, Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial cleanser pore purifying pineapple enzyme, and Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial scrub pore purifying pineapple enzyme.

2). Favorite T.V. series: Empire, The Affair, American Crime, Better Call Saul, Hannibal, The Good Wife, American Horror Story: Hotel, Jessica Jones, Modern Family, Scream Queens, and Master of None.

3). Favorite films: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Southpaw, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Bridge of Spies, Creed, The Revenant, Soaked in Bleach (documentary), and Tyke Elephant Outlaw (documentary).

4). Favorite cruelty-free cosmetics: Too Faced Born This Way foundation in Nude, e.l.f. Essential volumizing & defining mascara (black), Burt’s Bees 100% natural lip crayon in Redwood Forest, e.l.f. High Definition powder in Shimmer, Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage concealer in Light Neutral, and Flower by Kenzo l’Elixer (perfume).*

5). Favorite foods: Dave’s Killer Organic Bread in 100% whole wheat, Arrowhead Mills organic buckwheat pancake & waffle mix, any natural no-added-B.S. creamy peanut butter, Lara fruit and nut bars, fresh pineapple, fresh artichokes, pasta with garlic and olive oil, and Sting ‘n’ Linger habanero salsa.

6). Favorite random thing: New footwear for the gym… Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes.

7). Favorite random events: Setting up our home gym in the garage, adopting our little girl kitty Nenette, going to Drag Bingo, and plastering my (work) Mac with a Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat Riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex laptop sticker.

2015 Highlights: Outfitting our garage as a home gym in January and adopting Nenette on the 4th of July were definitely high points!

*****

Four images and a video clip:

We’re enjoying our home gym immensely now that it’s not 110 degrees. The heat kept us out of the garage all summer. This year, we have a plan for making the space tolerable during the hot months, so we won’t have to stop training in there for so long.

 

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

 

(I’ll go into more home gym detail in a future post!)

Meanwhile, Nenette says, “Don’t breed or buy while homeless animals die. Adopt a pet and save a life.”

 

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

 

What really happened to Kurt Cobain? The makers of Soaked in Bleach lay it all out. They don’t draw a conclusion, but the evidence, if it is what they say it is, is damning. This excellent documentary reveals details surrounding Cobain’s death that shocked us, quite frankly. I highly recommend this film, even if you don’t know or care about Kurt Cobain or Nirvana or music.

 


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The final episode of Hannibal was glorious…

 

Maybe the most beautiful scene I've ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

Maybe the most beautiful scene I’ve ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

 

And The Affair? Its opening sequence’s images paired with the music and lyrics of Fiona Apple’s song (“Container,” which she wrote specifically for The Affair) become increasingly spooky and suggestive of clues as the story develops. By the middle of Season 2, we found ourselves replaying the opening from time to time, stopping and starting to search the images for answers. It’s haunting. It gives me chills. I love it.

 

 

(Don’t even get me started on Maura Tierney’s great performance, especially when she sings Lucinda Williams’ “Changed the Locks” in S2, Episode 4.)

HOWEVER, if I had to pick just ONE series as my current number one favorite, I’d have to say it’s Empire. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love it, too, or you’ll at least see where I’m coming from. And Taraji P. Henson as Cookie is phenomenal.

 

*Kenzo’s perfumes aren’t tested on animals, and I’m glad because this perfume I’m wearing now was a gift. I adore the fragrance. I wouldn’t want it to collect dust.

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)

 

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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)

 

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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.

What I’m Digging Right Now – September Favorites

I can tell it’s October. The shorter days, cooler mornings, proliferating Spirit Halloween stores (not to mention the Halloween decor and things in all of the stores), and the pumpkin spice explosion everywhere we look gives it away. I love October. I’m not sure if September seemed so long this year because I’ve been impatient for October, or if September just really kind of blew. I’m thinking it was the latter. However, September wasn’t without its list-worthy Little Things, and I’m happy to share them with you!

 

1). Empire (T.V. series)

 

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We discovered Empire (created by the brilliant Lee Daniels) just a couple of weeks ago. Once we started, we couldn’t stop, and we didn’t stop until we were current, right up to Season 2, episode 2. Magnetizing.

First of all, Empire is Shakespeare from the very start. There was a funny moment when I turned to Callaghan to say, “This is King Lear!!” And right then, one of the sons actually said, “What is this, King Lear?” (Unsurprisingly, that son is one of my favorite characters.)

There’s no aspect of this series that isn’t rendered with spectacular quality and flair. Every detail is exquisite… every song could be a hit, and every rehearsal could be an award-winning video in its own right. The acting performances! The writing! The direction! The costumes! THE MUSIC. We’re Hooked with a capital “H.” (And that last episode! Lucious’ new song! That ending! Okay, I’ll stop.)

 

2). Modern Family S7 (T.V. series)

 

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All month we were eager for the return of our favorite comedy, and since September went on forever, the wait seemed terribly long. But Modern Family is finally back, and its unique humor is more on point than ever!

 

3). Make Me (novel by Lee Child)

 

Lee Child's 20th Reacher novel

Lee Child’s 20th Reacher novel

 

Obviously, this book was a favorite. Reacher re-appears in a small town, and he’s more bad-ass than ever. Make Me is actually one of my top-five favorite Reacher books.

Speaking of Reacher, can we talk about pancakes?

 

4). Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix.

 

Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix

Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix

 

THIS.

This is your perfect, wholesome, five easy-to-read-ingredient pancake and waffle mix. The pancakes it makes are delicious, and that’s using egg replacer and almond milk to make them vegan. I took this pic last Sunday, when we ate them with Field Roast smoked apple sage vegan sausage, everything dripping in melty Earth Balance and pure maple syrup. The combination is sublime.

 

5). Raspberry Emergen-C.

 

Raspberry Emergen-C

Raspberry Emergen-C

 

Somewhere in early September, I mixed a packet of raspberry Emergen-C into a glass of cold water, and the resulting fizzy pink beverage was so refreshing, it became a daily afternoon treat. It wasn’t like I was an Emergen-C virgin or anything, but it just really hit the spot in that moment, and it continued to hit the spot every day throughout that long month. It’s wonderfully energizing, and even though I take my normal supplement combo every morning, who doesn’t like an extra 1,000 mg punch of vitamin C?

 

6). Pink Lady apples.

 

Pink Lady apples (this is a Cripps Pink)

Pink Lady apples (this is a Cripps Pink)

 

So sweet. So tasty. So crisp. It needs nothing! We’re still eating fresh pineapple like it’s nobody’s business, but with these apples, the first flavors of Fall have arrived.

 

7). New reading glasses.

 

New reading glasses

New reading glasses

 

I think I figured out why my old pair of reading glasses became ineffective: I cleaned the lenses exclusively with pre-moistened lens wipes. I’d been thinking that I just needed to take the strength up a notch, but these are the same strength as my old ones, and when I tried them on, I couldn’t believe how much better they worked! I guess reading glasses aren’t meant to last forever, anyway. Also, it may be a case of “all reading glasses aren’t made alike.” I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I have these now, and they’ve made a huge difference in my life!

Also, I only clean these glasses with soap and water. No more pre-moistened lens wipes.

 

8). e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara.

 

e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara

e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara

 

I ran out of mascara, went back to the e.l.f. section at Target, decided to try this new (revised?) Essential formula, and a new favorite mascara was discovered. Two bucks, guys. Two. $2.00. That’s it. Stuff like this helps to balance out my more expensive cruelty-free products a lot.

 

9). The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask.

 

The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask

The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask

 

Okay, so speaking of more expensive, this isn’t the cheapest facial mask around. I processed a twinge of doubt while standing at the cash register, because honey & oat? Wasn’t this a ridiculous thing to purchase for such a price ($18.00) when I could probably mix up something similar in my own kitchen?

But I bought it, feeling appropriately reckless and guilty. And then I used it. And now I’m borderline obsessed, and to be honest, I’m kind of kicking myself for having gotten sucked in, because I’m going to want to re-purchase it when it’s gone, and I really don’t have room in my budget for luxuries like this right now. I can’t even explain this mask! It defies explanation. The entire experience and after-effect of it is fantabulous.

(See? That $2.00 mascara helps. Thank you for making awesome, dirt-cheap make-up, e.l.f.!)

 

10). It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum.

 

It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum

It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum

 

Due to the uncharacteristic and relentless streak of humidity we experienced all month, my hair was more impossible than usual (if there can be such a thing as “more impossible”) in September. It would have looked even more unruly if it wasn’t for this product by It’s a 10. I had a coupon for it, so I thought I’d try it; it’s cruelty-free, and it doesn’t have the overwhelming-fragrance feature that turns me off of most hair products. This is just a nice, mild serum that works okay for me. I’m glad for it.

That’s it! Happy Friday, All. =)

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.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-urbandecayprimerpotion

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

 

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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

 

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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 – 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)

 

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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)

 

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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. =)