What I’m Digging Right Now – October Favorites

Thing One: It’s time for October Favorites, which means that this is the one-year anniversary of my Monthly Favorites posts!

I’m not at all surprised that I started this series in October, because I find it easy to enjoy pretty much everything in October. It’s my favorite month, so there are lots of favorites in it.

Thing Two: I regret to say that I have to retract a previously-listed favorite. That Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain lip color I’d raved about in my September Favorites post? Is no longer a favorite. September was a weirdly humid month here, and my lips didn’t know how to deal with it, I guess. That lip stain (stains are drying products, but that one seemed to be different!) turned out to be a disaster on my lips as soon as the monsoon humidity ended. They just suddenly dried out, and nothing I did could soften them. No amount of exfoliation helped. No variety of products helped.

Until I tried… and this brings me to my first favorite “little thing” on the list for October…

 

1). Nivea  A Kiss of Moisture Essential Lip Care.

 

Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Essential Lip Care

Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Essential Lip Care

 

As I was saying, nothing in my arsenal of lip care products worked when my lips dried out. Oil didn’t work. Vaseline didn’t work. The Aquaphor I traditionally use at night didn’t work. The L’Occitane lip balm I’d raved about a few months ago stopped working. The EOS balm I’d been enjoying did nothing but taste good (and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting any nutritional benefit from it). So I headed to the drugstore in search of something different, and I walked out with this modest little product by Nivea that’s literally the only thing that works. My lips went from extremely dry and flaky to soft and moist overnight. I have a feeling that this is going to be a favorite for life, not just for now.

 

2). Asymmetrical, geometric, metal statement necklace.

 

Wearing the necklace at Rage in the Cage.

Wearing the necklace at Rage in the Cage.

 

A former co-worker gave this necklace to me for Christmas one year, but somehow, I never wore it until October. I threw it on as we were heading out the door to Rage in the Cage, and I’ve worn it several times since then. It’s funny how our tastes change over time… something that seemed awkward to me at first now interests me with its unusual, unexpected appeal, and I love it.

Shall we move on to food?

 

3). Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

 

Roasted Brussels sprouts with quinoa

Roasted Brussels sprouts with quinoa

 

LET IT BE KNOWN that finally, after several years, I’ve discovered a way to get Callaghan to eat Brussels sprouts with genuine gusto. Brussels sprouts are way at the top my favorite foods list – I love cruciferous vegetables, particularly Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, rapini and kale – and the fact that he didn’t like them no matter what I did made things challenging. One day last month, I put them in the oven to roast. Callaghan enjoys roasted broccoli and cabbage, so I thought, why not try roasting the ol’ sprouts? And miraculously, he loves Brussels sprouts when they’re roasted! It’s simple… I just cut off the ends, remove the outer leaves, cut them in half length-wise, arrange them cut-side-up on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle them with coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper before putting them in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. He demolishes them and then asks for more. SUCCESS IS MINE.

 

4). Organic Honeycrisp apples.

 

Organic honeycrisp apple! Apple perfection.

Organic honeycrisp apple! Apple perfection.

 

It’s apple season, and everywhere I look in the produce section, it’s applicious abundance all over the place! My favorite kind are the Honeycrisp apples. They’re so sweet, juicy and flavorful. I have one every day. I know I need to enjoy them while they last, because they are seasonal.

 

5). Kashi Go Lean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble cereal.

 

Kashi Go Lean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble cereal

Kashi Go Lean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble cereal

 

I’m always on the prowl for protein-rich foods, so when I spotted this cereal on the store shelf, I grabbed it, read the label and brought it home to try. Plus, toasted berry crumble! I had high hopes, and it didn’t disappoint. I eat it with plain, unsweetened almond milk, and it is SO GOOD.

 

6). Clif Builder’s Snack Size protein bars in Chocolate Mint.

 

Clif Builder's Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

 

Oh my goodness. If you’re American – and maybe even if you aren’t – you probably know what Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies taste like. Imagine a Thin Mint in the form of a substantial little bar with 10 grams of protein and only 140 calories, and it should be evident why I have to rave about these today. This nutritionally-dense little bar functions as a dessert that means business… the business of supplying me with yet more protein while tricking my taste buds into thinking they’re smacking on Thin Mints. The best part is that you don’t have to wait for Girl Scout cookie season to get them!

Now exiting food territory…

 

7). Arizona sunsets.

 

Arizona sunsets are always beautiful, but they're especially dramatic in October....

Arizona sunsets are always beautiful, but they’re especially dramatic in October….

 

In Arizona, a sunset isn’t just a sunset… it’s an Arizona sunset. The Arizona sunset is a thing, and it seems that October in the desert brings the most unforgettable sunsets of all. Pictures don’t do them justice. I think it must have to do with the cloud arrangement at this time of year. I don’t know. All I know is that every year I’m in Arizona, I take more pictures of sunsets in October than I do in any other month. They are spectacular.

Let’s finish off the list with pop culture!

 

8). Homeland, Season 4. (T.V. series).

 

HOMELAND (Season 4)

 

No spoilers here, but just allow me to say that after the season three finale, we were kind of left with our jaws on the floor, thinking, What could be the point in continuing this? We were intrigued, and we knew we wouldn’t be let down, but we had no idea how not let down we’d be. Season four is turning out to be our favorite so far, and that’s saying a lot, because Homeland is one of our all-time favorite series.  It just keeps getting better!

 

9). The Good Wife (T.V. series).

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-thegoodwife

 

Okay… how is it that we never thought to watch The Good Wife before? We started watching this masterfully written and crafted drama series in October, and it immediately sucked us into the depths of its rich and complex world. You guys, this show is on its sixth season; we’ve been binge-watching it as if there weren’t other things we needed to be doing. We’re half-way through the second season. We’re completely addicted. We’re gone. Bye. See you next year.

 

10). American Horror Story: Freak Show and Stalker (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Freak-Stalker

 

T.V. is so good right now, it’s killing me. Between the shows mentioned in this post and Modern Family, I don’t even know what’s playing in the movie theatres right now, to tell you the truth.

So, we had no idea about Stalker until last month. We started watching it at about the same time as American Horror Story: Freak Show, and we’ve continued to watch the two as a double-feature every week, back-to-back. We start with Stalker, then move on to AHS, and by the time that’s over, I’m thoroughly creeped out.

With Stalker, it’s the camera angles… the way the show is filmed helps to build a sharp, paranoid intensity in a short amount of time, and you don’t even realize you’re on the edge of your seat until it’s over. With American Horror Story: Freak Show, it was mainly Twisty the Murder Clown that did it for me… until the other clown emerged. Again, no spoilers here. Just saying. There are two evil clowns, and the fact that the new one is the scarier one to me is telling.

I’ve actually been contemplating this season of American Horror Story beyond its dark surface display of evil and gore, and I might share those thoughts here at some point… probably when the season’s over and I’ve seen the whole thing to its conclusion. (It wouldn’t be fair to draw conclusions before watching the conclusion, right?)

With that, I’m off to enjoy another crisp and gorgeous November morning. Enjoy your week!

What I’m Digging Right Now – August Favorites

August was interesting. It brought death, storm destruction, unpleasant dental work and a diagnosis of asthma for the Ronnie James. It also brought much in the way of good times, a new home and a new job for Callaghan.

At work, the fall semester started, and my Monday that week was epic: I started it first thing in the morning at home by spilling a full, large mug of coffee all over myself, the couch, the floor and the inside of my bag, which was sitting (open, of course) on the floor. How to start your day! Bathe in hot coffee! Such literal, caffeinated ablutions sanitize the early-morning mind. That’s how I saw it. Too bad about the almond milk, though.

Coffee scent still wafts out of my bag every time I open it. It’s not a terrible thing.

On that note, let’s start with entertainment!

 

1). The Killing (T.V. series)

 

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

 

Netflix released the fourth and final season of The Killing on August first, and we greedily absorbed it all in two days. It’s over now, and we’re sad about that, but I’ll tell you what… rarely has the final episode of a series felt so satisfying.

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: we’re hard-pressed to explain how The Killing’s Linden and Holder endeared themselves to us so completely.  Our favorite aspect of watching the series was witnessing the development of these characters and their partnership over the arc of the four seasons, but in fact, we loved everything about it. We found the haunting crime drama to be intriguing and masterfully-paced. The city of Seattle was depicted as mostly rainy and gray, and it seemed to be cast as a character in and of itself to gorgeous effect, veiled more in lyricism than grunge. The actors’ performances were exceptional. The plotlines for each of the seasons kept us quietly on edge. We enjoyed seasons one, two and four the most, but each season built on the last while revolving around unique plotlines (with the exception of season two, which was part two of the opening season’s storyline). Overall, we would say that The Killing is a brilliant and underrated series.

This brings to mind an incident that occurred in the store the other day: I was approached by a guy who wanted to know whether we had cable at home (evidently he worked for a cable company), and when I said no, he asked why not. I answered, “Because Netflix.” He was annoyed (maybe because I laughed, which was probably rude, now that I think about it) and pretty much stalked away with a black cloud over his head. At least we didn’t upset him more by telling him about the other internet resources we use for watching all kinds of movies and T.V. series!

 

2). Rage in the Cage (August 9, 2014).

 

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

 

It’d been too long since I’d attended a combat sports event at the Celebrity Theatre, so when our friend and Body Combat instructor said that she could get us a good deal on tickets because she was going to be working the event as a ring card girl, we gladly seized the opportunity. Not only was it fun to see Izzy at the event (it was like a preview of her participation in the natural physique competition she ended up dominating at the end of the month!), but the fights provided rock-solid entertainment. It was awesome to see that two of the night’s winners hailed from Arizona Combat Sports, the gym where I’d trained in Muay Thai back in its earlier days. The next Rage in the Cage event is in October, and we’re looking forward to it!

 

3). White peaches.

 

The white peaches have been so good, we haven't been able to get enough.

The white peaches have been so good, we haven’t been able to get enough.

 

We devoured white peaches all month… the ones at our favorite Fry’s were fabulous (maybe they still are), and we couldn’t get enough of them! You know how it is when you bite deeply into a piece of fruit and it’s just so satisfying on every level? It’s like that with these peaches. They’re sweet, fragrant, juicy and dense. For me, nothing signals or defines summer as convincingly as certain stone fruits – peaches, cherries, apricots and plums.

 

4). Vegan donuts at Whole Foods.

 

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

 

Leave it to our favorite Whole Paycheck Foods store to start stocking their bakery with vegan donuts. There’s nothing healthy about these deep fried, refined carb- and sugar-loaded delectables; “vegan” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “healthy,” and treats like these donuts are a great case in point. I feel a bit sheepish admitting that I’ve eaten something like five of them since I discovered them just a few weeks ago. Now I need to develop a will power specific to these donuts. Or not.

 

5). Little Ranch House in the Desert.

We’ve been in our new house for two days, and we all love it! We feel like we’re home, and all the space is a wonderful novelty for the kitties. We adopted them from a small apartment in France, and they’ve lived in nothing but equally small spaces up until this move. It’s been funny watching them here… it’s like, they have so much space, they don’t know where to go first. The bed is still their headquarters of choice, though.

 

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

 

6). Framed “Not Cal” decal.

 

NOT CAL in a frame!

NOT CAL in a frame!

 

I finally got this second NOT CAL decal framed! I put it in my new home office, of course. I love it.

 

7). göt2b Guardian Angel Gloss Finish Flat Iron Balm.

 

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don't use heat.

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don’t use heat.

 

This is good stuff. I picked this up in August thinking that I would start using my straight-iron again, but I discovered that I like what it does just by itself, as a leave-in treatment on dry hair. It adds a little something (I don’t even know what, really) that I like to my hair.

 

8). Manifesto (perfume).

 

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

 

In August, I started wearing “Manifesto,” which caught my eye because of its name. It amused me because of the Unibomber. (Not that I in any way condone, support or agree with the Unibomber and his activities, mind you. Just… you know. Manifesto.) Then, of course, there was the fragrance, itself! Made by Yves St. Laurent, it’s lovely with its body of white flowers, woods and vanilla. I think it bridges the summer and fall gorgeously.

(I wear perfume strictly for myself, by the way… because I like it, and because of what it evokes for me. I wore fragrance long before I ever wore makeup. It’s a personal thing.)

 

9). Paws jewelry.

 

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael's. (Photo from instagram.)

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael’s. (Photo from instagram.)

 

We were on an errand at Michael’s when I saw this cheap little set of costume jewelry. Paws. They were near a Halloween-themed display, so they may have been a part of that, which would make sense… I’m more prone to impulse-buying when Halloween things are out than any other time of the year.

 

This brings us to Ronnie James’ and Nounours’ “Favorites” pick for August!

 

10). Feliway.

 

A Feliway'd Nounours on the eve of our move.

A Feliway’d Nounours on the eve of our move.

 

Feliway is a product consisting of synthetic feline pheromones – undetectable by humans – emitted by a plug-in device similar to a plug-in air freshener. Our vet prescribed it to Ronnie James as a part of his treatment plan for anxiety, which was aggravating his asthma and causing him to over-groom himself. It works, and it works really well! Feliway mellows kitties like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We had the first one in our bedroom in the apartment before we moved, and now, in the house, we have an additional one – so, one in the living room, and another in our bedroom. Kitty bliss. =)

 

That wraps up my “little things” favorites list for August. Welcome, September!

Inside the Ronnie James

Just when you thought it was safe to approach your computer (I know, you thought I was going to say “to go back in the water,” since this is shark week)… here’s another cat picture. But there’s a twist to this one:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-RonnieJames_x-ray

 

That would be the Ronnie James, aka “the Wrah-Wrah.”

Here’s how you’d normally see him:

 

Hi. You can call me the Wrah-Wrah.

Hi. You can call me the Wrah-Wrah.

 

Since the weekend, I’ve been kind of disheartened and distracted thinking about the Wrah-Wrah. We took him to the vet on Saturday, and he was diagnosed with asthma.

This is a controllable situation, but… but. I just feel like a bad kitty mommy.

He’s been uncomfortable for months. With his chronic cough and breathing quirks, we should have taken him in sooner. All this time, we could see and hear him breathing too quickly, too erratically. We could hear him wheezing now and then. We witnessed many of his coughing bouts, always in that same, telltale position, never hacking anything up, but acting as if he was trying to. Then I think back on that scary episode that woke us up one night not too long ago, and I think, why didn’t we take him to the vet immediately after that? Obviously, something wasn’t right.

We did schedule him to see the vet at some point, but at the last minute, something came up, and then he seemed to be okay again, so we cancelled it. It’s allergies, we thought. It’s a hairball, and he’s trying to eject it, we thought. It’s a mild upper respiratory thing. It’ll pass.

That was last month. Finally, after sitting with him through several more weird coughing episodes, we made another appointment. By the time it occurred to us that he really needed to be examined, the earliest appointment available (with the doctor that I wanted, though all the doctors at our clinic are excellent) was for 4:30pm last Saturday. We were heading out to Rage in the Cage, and we were almost late because we were at the vet with the Wrah-Wrah, waiting for his chest x-rays to come back. (Don’t worry… we did stop at home after the vet. We didn’t bring Ronnie James with us to Rage in the Cage, haha.)

When the vet went over the x-rays with us in the examining room, she showed us a frontal view of his chest and pointed at the ghostly white stringy-looking things in his lung area. This bolstered her suspicion of asthma, and the next day, the analyzing radiologist confirmed it. When the vet gave us the images on the disc, we weren’t able to get back to that first view, but you can still kind of see it here:

 

I CAN HAZ ASTHMA.

I CAN HAZ ASTHMA.

 

Apparently, only about 1% of kitties have asthma.

We discussed the available treatment plan options and decided to start with oral medication. It was a process of elimination decision: Ronnie James needs steroid treatment (Prednisone), and the injection option carries the risk of leading to diabetes later in life. There’s also a kitty inhaler we can use in the event of an asthma attack.

We get his Prednisone from Diamondback Drugs, a wonderful veterinary “compounding pharmacy” that prepares medications in a variety of ways. We asked them to make a flavorless liquid Prednisone formula (the liquid preparations are either tasteless or flavored) so the Wrah-Wrah won’t have to go through the daily ordeal of taking a pill.

Also toward the end of reducing his stress as much as possible, we bought a Feliway diffuser, which is like room deodorizer, except humans can’t smell it. Feliway is basically a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromone, and it works like aromatherapy for cats. We plugged it into an outlet in the bedroom, where he spends a lot of time. It actually works really well! The Wrah-Wrah’s nervous over-grooming habit has decreased dramatically since we plugged in the Feliway.

We’re also going to get a humidifier for the bedroom, since dry air can make asthma worse.

Yes… Ronnie James has a condition that’s exacerbated by dry air, and I brought him to the desert. =(

We have an asthmatic Wrah-Wrah, a special-needs Wrah-Wrah, and now we need to learn how to give CPR to kitties (which all kitty parents should probably know, anyway, come to think of it).

So that’s the latest in Ronnie James news, folks. Ronnie James, rockin’ on like his namesake, Ronnie James Dio. He continues to love snuggling up to any headphones he finds lying around.

 

Ronnie James with headphones, July 2013

Ronnie James with headphones, July 2013

 

 

Ronnie James with headphones, August 2014

Ronnie James with headphones, August 2014

 

Happy Friday!