Because “resolution” without the “re” is SOLUTION.

Like many people, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been an on-and-off cynic most of my adult life. My birthday falls five days before New Year’s Day, though, so at some point, I finally thought, Why not turn my personal one-year-older goals into resolutions? Because what are birthdays if not opportunities for introspection and decision-making to move forward with new or refreshed goals, right? Or something like that (says my inner self-help guru to myself).

“Resolution” minus the “re” is “solution,” after all… and that stands out to me. I’m a fan of solutions.

As it turns out, I do well participating in the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. It’s glorified goal-setting that could be undertaken on any random day, sure, but January 1 is as good a day as any, fanfare or no. If we don’t have the motivation to commit to a goal on any other day of the year, at least there’s that day!

“Goals” is a popular word right now, but I want to talk plainly about how there’s a difference between wanting to achieve goals and needing to achieve them. Resolutions, in my opinion, are goals that we need to achieve; we make them in order to reignite the mechanisms we have for growth, self-improvement, joie de vivre… whatever it is that we’re lacking, in whatever way it needs to manifest. Ultimate goals are things like contentment and productivity. Contentment and productivity are good. People who are content and productive are good for society, good for us all.

You might receive advice that’s actually detracting, usually coming from the hearts of well-intentioned loved ones. There’s the old “…but you have to WANT to do it,” which I think is psychobabble for “You have to feel that doing xyz is going to result in personal gratification, or it’s not worth the effort.” I don’t believe this. Some of my greater achievements in life resulted from goals that I needed to pursue, but I absolutely didn’t want to pursue them.

Quitting smoking, for instance. I smoked between the ages of 15 and 23. I only smoked for eight years, but addiction is addiction no matter how long you’ve had it.

I absolutely did not WANT to quit smoking. I loved smoking. Whenever I’d think about quitting, all I WANTED my next cigarette. When I finally committed to breaking the habit, I still didn’t want to. I did it because I knew that I needed to.

Quitting was every bit as excruciating as I thought it would be.

I quit cold turkey, and I never smoked another cigarette. That was 24 years ago. (I think I was successful in part because I suffered through the process without the aid of chemical replacements. This was pre-nicotine patch. There was nicotine gum, but I wasn’t attracted to that strategy.) Suffering for that victory, that solution to the problem of my compromised health, made me value my success even more. If at any point in my smoking cessation journey someone uttered those condescending words in my general direction – “You just have to WANT to quit!” – I would have had to bite my tongue REALLY HARD. I know why I’m quitting. It’s a decision that I made. I don’t need you to tell me that if I just WANT to quit, I’ll effortlessly break my addiction overnight and ride off on a unicorn into a field of flowers and happy little bunnies.

Overcoming addiction of any kind is never easy, no matter if someone WANTS to do it or not.

But I digress. My point is, make a resolution, for the New Year or on any other day. Think of it as going after a solution. Focus on seizing something that will change your life for the better if you capture it. You’re not just making a change (passive connotation). You’re taking action (aggressive connotation). So be aggressive in tackling your resolution. Be a New Year’s resolution badass. Go for it.

Another thing people commonly say: “Do it for yourself. If you do it for someone else, you won’t succeed.” Again, I disagree. I mean, I don’t think this is always the case.

Last year, my main New Year’s resolution was to go cruelty-free… for Ronnie James, my feline fur-child. As Callaghan and I tried desperately to save his life, I told the Wrah-Wrah that I’d make every effort to avoid purchasing and using personal care products and cosmetics made by companies who engage in animal cruelty practices. (Granted, this wasn’t difficult, as I’d already been boycotting a couple of big-name brands for years to avoid contributing to their human rights violations. Boycotting companies that test on animals wasn’t a far stretch from that.)

I did it for Ronnie James. He died five months into the year, but I’m still doing it. For him. For all animals, but first and foremost for him. And doing it for him has kept me motivated to stick to my resolution more than I would were I just “doing it for myself.” In a strange sense I can’t really explain, the act of consciously and continuously striving to remove myself from the cycle of animal suffering at human hands keeps Ronnie James alive.

This strategy of goal-planning works for me, anyway. Everyone is different, but it might work for you, too. It would be worth trying! Dedicate your resolution to someone who deeply matters to you. Make them a promise you won’t want to break, and you might find that it’s easier to stick to your efforts.

This brings me to Resolutionary Road, 2016! I have more than one resolution. Here’s my list:

1). Get more sleep on a regular basis.

2). Improve my French (conversation).

3). Commit to strength-training.

Getting more sleep was my secondary resolution in 2015. Since I failed completely, it’s at the top of my 2016 list. I really, really need to get more sleep. Here, again, is the difference between wants and needs: I don’t WANT to get more sleep. I WANT the opposite… I want more hours in the day. I want to stay up until 3:00am, because for some reason, I’m often possessed by a rush of creative energy at around 11:00pm every night, and I’m afraid that if I don’t utilize it, I’ll squander it. But more sleep is an absolute necessity for my health, so this year, I’m going to try to shut everything down at 10:00pm so I can be in bed by 10:30pm. I get up at 5:30am on weekdays, so this would give me seven hours of sleep IF I fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow. (Which never happens. But nearly seven hours of sleep would be a great improvement over the four-five hours I typically get.)

I dedicate this resolution to Mom, who always worries that I don’t sleep enough. I don’t want her to worry about me for any reason, because worrying is detrimental to her health.

For my second resolution, improving my French conversation, I simply need to speak more French. I have a bad habit of answering Callaghan in English when he speaks to me in French. The divide between my comprehension level and speaking level is now so great that it’s ridiculous! I have no excuses. I just need to speak it more; that’s the only way I’m going to improve.

I dedicate this resolution to Callaghan, obviously!

As for strength-training, I need to make that a regular part of my workout routine. I’m not weak, but I would feel better in a stronger body. Doing pull-ups in my home office doorway every once in a while isn’t sufficient, and shadow-boxing with dumbbells isn’t cutting it, either. We have heavier dumbbells, so I need to start using them.

I dedicate this resolution to Ming, my best friend who died suddenly in 2003. Ming was one of my Tae Kwan Do instructors, and as friends, we developed a brother-sister bond that made him a member of my family. Ming was an extremely talented martial arts athlete, and his work ethic in the do-jang inspires me to this day. Improving my strength so I can be a better martial artist is my tribute to him.

 

Ming and me, 1996

Ming and me, 1996

 

Happy Resolutioning, if you do it!

New Year’s Resolution check-in! Cruelty-free cosmetics (e.l.f. review)

We all know how it is. When we’re amped about our New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, we broadcast them to the world, but it’s less common to mention them again after that. We’re all about our resolutions for four weeks or so, and then we never speak of them again. Given this, and to share some of the results of my efforts, I wanted to check in with a mid-year 2015 resolutions update.

(Side-note: It was actually my intention to do this post last month, but I’ve been procrastinating. There are more interesting things to read and write about than the make-up I’m using, but I wanted to hold myself accountable for my resolutions, so here we are. Bear with me, guys, please!)

For 2015, I mainly resolved to switch to cruelty-free products – products that are not tested on animals – so I’m going to share some of the make-up items I’ve been using. I’m just talking about cosmetics in this post (I’ve also switched to cruelty-free hair-care and body products), and mainly one brand.

Cruelty-free drugstore cosmetics include brands such as Milani, e.l.f., Flower, Physician’s Formula, Pacifica, and Burt’s Bees, among others. I’ve tried a smattering of things from different brands, but I decided early on to focus on e.l.f., because it’s the cheapest of the cheap. When I made this resolution, I wanted to go cruelty-free, not broke. Spending as little as possible on make-up means that I can justify spending more on good cruelty-free skin-care.

I’ll always prioritize skin-care over make-up. I use a $3.00 mascara so I can feel less guilty spending $30.00 on sunscreen. It does even out!

Anyway, in the last seven months, I’ve experimented with a lot of e.l.f. make-up. It turns out that the quality of their cosmetics is exceptional and impressive, so the experimentation wasn’t as tedious as I’d thought it would be. I placed an initial order with e.l.f. online in January, and a second order in April. For some reason, with that second order, e.l.f. sent a bag filled with extra, full-size items for free, so I had the opportunity to try out some things I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise. In addition to those two orders, I’ve also picked up a few e.l.f. items at Target here and there, and I’ve already re-purchased several things, as well.

Without further ado, here’s the break-down on how it’s shaken out so far, prices included. The priciest item out of everything I tried was $10.00, but the items I use daily range from $2.00-$6.00.

Current daily products:

 

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

 

1). e.l.f. Studio High-Definition Powder in Shimmer ($6.00)

2). e.l.f. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Sand ($6.00)

3). e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in St. Lucia (I just use the bronzing side) ($3.00)

4). e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls ($3.00)

5). e.l.f. Studio Baked Blush in Passion Pink ($3.00)

6). e.l.f. Studio Fan Brush ($3.00)

7). e.l.f. Essential Flawless Face Powder in Ivory ($2.00)

8). e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Dark (I just use the powder side) ($3.00)

9). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Ain’t that Sweet ($3.00)

10). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Cruisin’ Chic ($3.00)

11). e.l.f. Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight ($3.00)

12). e.l.f. Essential Waterproof Eyeliner in Black (I just use it on the upper lid) ($2.00)

13). e.l.f. Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire ($3.00)

14). e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths ($3.00)

Thoughts: The e.l.f. smudge pots are comparable to Maybelline’s Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel shadows. The Cruisin’ Chic color is my cruelty-free replacement for my old favorite, Bad to the Bronze, and in fact, I even prefer it. At $3.00 a pop, the e.l.f. smudge pots are less than half the price of the Maybelline ones, which are $7.00 each.

To show how the products look and wear, I have pictures from yesterday morning, mid-day, and late afternoon:

 

7:40AM. Freshly applied.

7:30AM.
Freshly applied, photo taken by daylight.

 

1:30PM, over five hours later. Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

1:30PM, six hours later.
Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

 

5:10PM, over nine hours  later. Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

5:10PM, over nine hours later.
Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

 

It’s hard to see the quality of the face make-up in this bad lighting, but note the $3.00 mascara still going strong after nine hours! I don’t curl my eyelashes, either. That’s all product. Seriously, why would I pay $8.00 for an average drugstore mascara or $30.00 for an average high-end mascara?

 

5:14PM, four minutes after the last. This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

5:14PM, four minutes after the last.
This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

 

(I changed into my gym clothes in the car, as usual, haha!)

Conclusion: I’m happy with the way the e.l.f. cosmetics wear over extended periods of time. I don’t bother using face primers or setting sprays or anything like that, either… I’m not a high-maintenance make-up user. My whole mission every morning is to slap everything on as quickly as possible. It takes me 15 minutes to do my make-up.

Now that I’ve listed my current preferred everyday items, here’s what I thought about the other e.l.f. products I tried:

Liked: Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara in Jet Black ($2.00), Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out ($2.00), Essential Smudge Pot in Hit the Town ($3.00), Studio Prism Eyeshadow in Naked ($10.00), Essential Brightening Eye Color in Butternut ($1.00), Studio Baked Eyeshadow Trio in Lavender Love ($4.00), Studio High-Definition Undereye Setting Powder in Sheer ($3.00), Studio BB Cream SPF 20 in Buff ($6.00), Studio Moisturizing Foundation Stick in Nude ($6.00), Studio Lip Balm SPF 15 in Rose ($3.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon ($3.00), Studio Eye Refresh ($3.00)

Eh: Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer in Radiant Glow ($6.00), Studio Poreless Face Primer in Clear ($6.00), Studio Mineral Pearls in Natural ($8.00), Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Nude ($3.00), Studio Make-Up Remover Pen ($3.00), Studio Kabuki Brush ($6.00)

Thoughts: The two face primers I tried are probably very good, but in keeping with my general experience with foundation primers, they don’t do anything for me at all, so I don’t use them. Lots of people swear by them, but for me, using a primer just adds an extra time-consuming step that makes no difference whatsoever in how my skin and make-up looks and wears throughout the day.

Ditto for the Kabuki brush, which, again, is probably excellent. I just prefer other kinds of brushes, like, looser-bristled ones, I guess. I should clean this brush (that I only used once) and give it to someone who wants it.

The mineral pearls product baffles me. Is it a powder? A bronzer? A contour product? All of the above? I’m not so into make-up that I enjoy dabbling; swirling a brush around on the pearls seemed complicated, and then I wasn’t particularly impressed with the look of the product once it was on. So, eh.

The tinted moisturizer was okay, but it was my least-favorite of the four e.l.f. foundation products I tried. Still, I’d wear it in a pinch. Its major plus, for me, is its SPF 20. You can’t have too much SPF!

I really wanted to love the make-up remover pen, and I did, up until the tip became darkened with the eyeliner it was meant to clean up. Then it was like, “okay, now what?”

This bring me to the final category:

Not for me: Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black ($1.00), Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara in Black ($3.00), Studio Undereye Concealer and Highlighter in Light/Glow ($3.00), Mineral Eye Brightener in Buff ($1.99), Studio High-Definition Powder in Sheer ($6.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Muted Mauve ($3.00), Studio Matte Lip Colors in Natural and Tea Rose ($3.00 each), Essential Long Wear Lip Liner in Natural Blush ($1.00)

Thoughts: The Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara looks good once it’s on, but I can’t get past the packaging! Its shape and dimensions make the wand awkward in my hand, and I’ve never stabbed myself in the eye with a mascara as much as I did with this one. PASS.

I think the lip products ended up on this list because my lips just look wrong in those colors, and the Matte Lip Color formula dries out my lips. Not a good formula for me!

The products that were free were the Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out, the Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight, the Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire, and the Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon… and I love it all!

The free products I haven’t tried yet: e.l.f. Studio Lip Stain in Lucky Lady ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Mango Madness ($2.00), e.l.f. Studio Lash & Brow Comb ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Cuticle Pushers ($1.00)

My everyday cruelty-free cosmetics that are NOT e.l.f.: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Neutral*, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero* (that I use under the eyes), Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Original (NOTE: e.l.f. does make eye shadow primers, and I’ll try them once I run out of the UD)**, Physician’s Formula Youthful Wear Cosmeceutical Youth-Boosting Dark Circle Corrector + Concealer (the yellow side only, which I wear underneath the Urban Decay concealer), and Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

*These are the few higher-end, cruelty-free cosmetic items that work better for me than those I could find at the drugstore.

**I haven’t tried an e.l.f. eyeshadow primer yet because believe it or not, I’m still trying to use up the first Urban Decay one I’d purchased almost a year and a half ago, and I have a second one to use after that! I have enough UD eyeshadow primer to last at least two more years, so it’ll be a while before I need to experiment with other brands.

I’d say that my seven months’ worth of experimentation with e.l.f. cosmetics has been instructional and eye-opening. I loved or liked a lot of the stuff I tried, didn’t care for some of it, and just felt so-so about the rest of it. Over time, I’ll continue experimenting to keep up with what’s new, too… I just visited e.l.f.’s website again and noticed a lot of new things, including a brand-new line of products called “Beautifully Bare.”

The important thing, to me, is that everything I wear on my face now is cruelty-free.

As for the stuff I used to use? I gathered up all of my pre-resolution gently-used cosmetics, hair  products, and toiletries, and I donated them to A New Leaf, a shelter for battered women here in the Valley. There were five paper grocery bags filled with products! I hope they brightened someone’s day a little.

Vehement boxing gloves – cruelty-free to animals, but not necessarily to your opponent!

As many of you know, I’ve been steadily working on switching over to cruelty-free cosmetics and other such products, as this was my primary New Year’s resolution for 2015. I also resumed my vegan eating habits back in April, which didn’t involve much of a change, as the only animal product I was consuming was a little dairy here and there. After three years, I’m finally back to my pre-France lifestyle, and I feel physically fantastic! Although I’m still floundering in the sleep department (a secondary-though-not-less-important New Year’s resolution was to “get more sleep” – still working on that one), I’m enjoying much more energy now.

After making the cruelty-free commitment with my personal care products and returning to 100% vegetarianism (aka dietary veganism), it made sense to extend the latter choice in the direction of classical veganism, beginning with examining the materials of the things I use and wear. I found that there were a few leather items left in my life at that point, the main one being out in the garage: my pair of boxing gloves. My boxing gloves were made of leather. I started researching to find an alternative. I only felt a little bit guilty springing for some new boxing gloves when a). I’m in financial recovery mode (from Ronnie James’ medical ordeal), and b). I had a beautiful, fairly new pair already (given to me for my birthday last December). But I’m passionate about animals, passionate about combat sports, passionate about my New Year’s resolution, and, before he died, I promised Ronnie James that I’d re-dedicate myself to our favorite cause.

Some of you might be thinking, But Kristi! Boxing gloves are made for hitting people. Why worry about hurting animals in the making of something intended to cause pain to others? I know it seems counter-intuitive. I know. But engaging in combat sports with adult human beings who know they’re going to get hit is not the same thing as taking something cruelly from non-consenting beings. I’m just going to leave my reasoning at that brief statement and get right to the point:

I stumbled upon Vehement, a company that makes boxing gloves, MMA gear and other combat sports equipment and apparel. This is all they do, and they do it very well… without harming animals, humans, or the environment.

 

"Sustainable." "Vegan." "Sweatshop free." What the label doesn't say, but could: "HARDCORE" and "KICK-ASS."

“Sustainable.” “Vegan.” “Sweatshop free.” What the label doesn’t say, but could: “HARDCORE” and “KICK-ASS.”

 

Vehement is a German company, but their international shipping rates are reasonable ($13.00 to the States), and the combat sports gear they make is extremely well-engineered and on point. When you go to their web site, you’ll find a statement that reads:

DESTROY YOUR ENEMIES, NOT YOUR PLANET.

Our hand sewn, sweatshop-free fight gear is made of 100% Battleskin™, an extremely advanced artificial leather: sustainable, durable and vegan. We won several awards for our innovative boxing gloves, MMA gloves and shin guards.

The Wolfheart X2 gloves that I purchased (I chose 12 oz) are a superb all-purpose pair of boxing gloves. Also, did I mention that this conscientious company’s logo is a beautiful wolf face? This is because Vehement shares their profits with the Wolf Conservation Center NY (WCC). That’s right… when you purchase gear from Vehement, you’re contributing to a great cause! From the Wolf Conservation Center NY site:

The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States.

 

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

 

I love the design and fit of Vehement's Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

I love the design and fit of Vehement’s Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

 

Vehement sells hand wraps, shin guards, MMA gloves and two types of boxing gloves, as well as clothing and water bottles. If you or someone you know is interested in combat sports gear, I highly recommend this company! Check them out, explore the goods and read their blog posts and announcements: http://vhmnt.com/

In case you’re short on time, I’m pasting in this description of the gloves that I got:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-VehementWebSiteText

 

I’m extremely happy with the fit, feel and performance of these vegan boxing gloves. I honestly can’t say enough about these gloves – they’re simply the best boxing gloves I’ve ever had (and I’ve owned pairs from both Title and Everlast). Two Battleskin-encased thumbs up!

[NOTE: This post is not sponsored by Vehement]

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. =)