And now we’re raining. (June Favorites!)

Just like that, we’re monsooning here in the Land of AZ. I don’t know what happened, but this time of year arrived quickly. I’m into it. I shouldn’t blink. Summer storms in the desert are magical, and our monsoon seasons seem to be getting shorter and less… just less. It’s been years since I’ve seen dumpsters rolling across the street, I’ll put it that way.

Just as quick, here’s my “favorite little things” list for June. Yes, that June. That weird and wonderful black hole of a month.

 

1). Hereditary (horror film)

 

 

2). Thor: Ragnarok AND Avengers: Infinity War (superhero films)

 

 

 

3). Goliath (Amazon Prime drama series)

 

 

Three words about this excellent original Amazon Prime dramatic series: Billy Bob Thornton. Also, William Hurt as Billy Bob’s nemesis. If you love a good legal/suspense drama and you’ve been looking for an excuse to sign up for a Prime free trial, this is it.

 

4). La Casa de Papel, aka Money Heist (Netflix crime thriller series)

 

 

5). Fresh Off the Boat (comedy series)

 

 

Blackish being on hiatus had us antsy for a good comedy. We love Ali Wong and knew of her creative involvement with Fresh Off the Boat, so we thought we’d check it out. It’s now our second-favorite comedy series. We watch it on Hulu.

 

6). Karl the Fog (twitter account)

 

 

San Francisco isn’t one of my favorite cities, but I’ve always loved the fog in the Bay Area. It turns out that the fog is witty and he has a name and a Twitter account.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil pesto.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

8). Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

9). Peaches, nectarines, plums.

 

Summer fruit

 

10). e.l.f. Velvet Touch Eyeshadow Palette (Island Breeze) – CRUELTY FREE AND VEGAN.

 

e.l.f.

 

I’m enjoying this e.l.f. eyeshadow. You swipe it on with your finger… no brush necessary! It’s more like a cream than a powder, and I love the colors in the Island Breeze version.

 

That takes care of it for June… sorry to be a little late this time!

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.

 

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!

Typical Food.

Several friends have been asking me what I typically eat, and I find it difficult to answer on the spot, because, I guess, I don’t put all that much thought into food… so the last time I was asked, I decided to do a food journal over the next two days, which happened to be Sunday and Monday (yesterday). The timing was great for the experiment because my documentation captured a weekend day and a weekday that also happened to be a gym day. It covers a pretty good idea of the average food picture in my life. I’m sharing the results here this morning, for anyone who may be curious.

Since this was a spontaneous decision, I didn’t premeditate it or go shopping for it or anything. That’s my excuse for not exhibiting dishes prepared from scratch. Some weekends, I cook food to feed us for a few days, if not for the week, and some weekends, I don’t… and this last weekend, I didn’t.

Here are a few generalities:

1). Water is key to starting my day right. First thing in the morning, I drink three big glasses of chilled water, and I continue drinking water all day long. I have a little idiosyncrasy about water: I prefer very cold water, except I like to drink room-temperature water when I’m eating.

Water is the only thing I drink besides coffee and the occasional cup of tea or iced tea. (I stopped drinking grapefruit juice last year… I used to have it with breakfast.) I’ll sometimes squeeze fresh lemon juice into my water when I’m at home. I’m hyper-vigilant about keeping myself hydrated – I also drink a big glass of water right before going to sleep. I’m just really into water. Fun fact!

2). You’ll notice a lot of carbs on both days, since that’s my favorite food group. I prefer complex carbs and actually avoid simple carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes, refined sugar, and alcohol… I think my last glass of wine was back in either October or November). (Oh wait, did I have champagne with my in-laws when they were here visiting from France for New Year’s? Yes, I believe did! December 31 was the last time I drank alcohol, then.)

3). I’m in the habit of waiting until 9:00am to eat breakfast, even though my alarm goes off at 5:00-5:30am in the morning five days a week. I get up and drink the three glasses of water with my thyroid medication, and then I wait 30 minutes before consuming anything else, because that’s how thyroid medication works. (I have Hashimoto’s disease – hypothyroidism. In my case, it’s autoimmune thyroiditis.) When the 30 minutes has passed, I take my other morning meds, and I have my first of two mugs of coffee.

4). I take supplements twice a day (different ones with my morning and evening meals).

5). I tend to cycle through certain foods. For instance, for a few weeks recently, I was having a Trader Joe’s blueberry-bran muffin for breakfast every weekday. Then I moved on to waffles and berries. I change it up every two to three weeks.

6). While there’s almost always some overlap in the things we eat (like salads, guacamole, fruit, etc.), Callaghan and I eat different meals about half of the time, I’d say. He’ll incorporate non-vegan elements into his.

7). Have I mentioned that as of about a month and a half ago, I’m back to 100% vegan, 100% of the time? It feels good. I’m my old self again.

So all that said, let’s jump in! Here’s what I ate over the last two days:

Sunday

Breakfast: Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola (10g protein!) with plain, unsweetened almond milk, blueberries and raspberries; coffee with stevia and the same almond milk; whole wheat toast with Earth Balance buttery spread.

 

Granola with a generous topping of fresh berries and almond milk, and whole wheat toast - and Sumatra coffee, of course (my favorite)!

Granola with a generous topping of fresh berries and almond milk, and whole wheat toast – and Sumatra coffee, of course (my favorite)!

 

Lunch: Sandwich with vegan lunch slices in turkey and ham flavor with fresh spinach, Roma tomato, Dijon mustard (that Callaghan brought back from France!) and grapeseed-oil Veganaise on whole wheat bread; a nectarine.

 

I usually default to sandwiches for lunch, which is fine, because I love them. I usually have fruit, too.

I usually default to sandwiches for lunch, which is fine, because I love them. I usually have fruit, too.

 

Snack: Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds (1/3 cup), dry.

 

A handful of dry granola for a crunchy, sweet afternoon snack - one of my favorites! This is Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds. YUM.

A handful of dry granola for a crunchy, sweet afternoon snack – one of my favorites! This is Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds. YUM.

 

Dinner: Black beans and brown rice with HOT salsa; sliced avocado; a side salad of mixed baby spring greens and tomato with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and oregano.

 

This was a quick and easy dinner of brown rice, black beans, salsa, and avocado, with a salad on the side.

This was a quick and easy dinner of brown rice, black beans, salsa, and avocado, with a salad on the side.

 

Dessert: Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

 

Justin's organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my favorite vegan treat!

Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my favorite vegan treat!

 

Monday

(The standard two mugs of coffee with stevia and plain, unsweetened almond milk)

Breakfast: Two of Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles with Earth Balance buttery spread; blueberries and raspberries.

 

I toast and "butter" (it's Earth Balance) the waffles at home and bring them to work loosely wrapped in foil. Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles, blueberries and raspberries.

I toast and “butter” (it’s Earth Balance) the waffles at home and bring them to work loosely wrapped in foil. Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles, blueberries and raspberries.

 

Lunch: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread; a nectarine.

(On gym days, I’ll usually have peanut butter and jelly for lunch, but lately I’ve been alternating with hummus for the savory goodness of it. It’s still a great high protein/healthy fat sandwich spread.)

 

I ate lunch at my desk yesterday: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread... and a heavenly nectarine for dessert!

I ate lunch at my desk yesterday: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread… and a heavenly nectarine for dessert!

 

Snack: Small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds; a mini chocolate chip Clif bar.

(Workout fuel! I like a combination of protein, healthy fats, carbs, and a little unrefined sugar an hour or two before going to Body Combat.)

 

A small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds and a mini chocolate chip Clif bar fueled my workout after work. That mini Clif bar is so tiny! It's exactly the right size.

A small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds and a mini chocolate chip Clif bar fueled my workout after work. That mini Clif bar is so tiny! It’s exactly the right size.

 

Dinner: Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger (organic vegetables, quinoa and walnuts) on whole wheat toast; side salad of spinach, mixed baby spring greens and tomato with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and oregano.

(Post-workout delicious combination of complex carbs, plant-based protein and healthy fats.)

 

Callaghan made his guacamole to go with our dinner, and it was fabulous, as usual! Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger on whole wheat toast, plus a side salad.

Callaghan made his guacamole to go with our dinner, and it was fabulous, as usual! Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger on whole wheat toast, plus a side salad.

 

Dessert: Fresh strawberries.

 

Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Fresh strawberries for dessert.

 

The strawberries look kind of weird in the picture, somehow, but they were wonderful.

Not pictured: I had a cup of Celestial Seasoning’s Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea last night before bed. It’s my favorite nighttime tea.

Et voilà! Two typical days.

My favorite thing to eat besides carbs is seasonal produce. The nectarines are fantastic right now. You know they’re a June favorite!