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)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-AHSHotel2015

 

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)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ScreamQueensS12015

 

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.

I fall, therefore I am ridiculous.

I have a new embarrassing story to share. It’s a pretty relatable one, I think.

It happened as I was walking home from work on Thursday. There was this crack in the sidewalk, see, and I stumbled on it and pitched forward. At least a billion people saw it.

Before I could register what was happening, my hands shot out (yay reflexes!), so my upper half landed on my palms. My knees took the fall for my lower half. The heavy backpack on my back slammed forward onto my upper back and lower neck area, adding to the impact of the fall. On the street next to me – University Road, a busy street, to give you an idea of the embarrassment factor – a long line of cars sat waiting at a red light, OF COURSE. As I said, there were a billion of them at least, and everyone was bored and watching me and so they all saw me.

I stumble on sidewalk cracks sometimes. I don’t usually fall.

Is it ever not embarrassing to fall?

I got up quickly and kept walking, resuming my pace. Like, “OH HEY EVERYONE that was no big deal, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” But in my head, I was thinking OW OW OW OW OW.

My palms stung a little, but my knees. My knees instantly tightened into bands of pain holding my upper and lower legs together, the right side worse than the left. The pain was actually stupid, but I got up quickly and power-walked to my house, which, thankfully, was literally just around the corner. I reached the front door two minutes later.

Why are we so embarrassed when we fall that we’ll sometimes pretend it didn’t happen? Is it simple self-consciousness, or is it more along the lines of how a cat instinctually conceals pain and weakness for self-protection reasons?

I could ditch the stoic act once I got home, because Callaghan is away and I’m the alpha cat so our cats wouldn’t take advantage of my vulnerability.

The first thing I did was I sat down to investigate the aftermath. My palms didn’t hurt anymore, and they looked surprisingly normal – despite landing hard on the pavement, I found no marks, no scratches, and no redness. They looked clean, too, somehow. Okay, fine. Then I looked at my legs, and I was vexed to see that my newest jeans were ripped over the right knee. It couldn’t have happened when I was wearing anything else, I thought. I slid them off and found a colorful strawberry just below my right kneecap, the top layer of skin peeled back from a large spot in shades of deep red and purple.

Who gets road rash from walking? I DO.

I touched the wound to check it out. (No, I didn’t think to wash my hands first.) The skin on top was intact; there was no blood or other fluid. It was perfectly dry. Perfectly smooth. And perfectly excruciating when I touched it.

Having had no experience with wounds that look bloody, but aren’t, I decided to err on the side of DO NOTHING because I’d had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, so I figured I was covered.

(I wondered where the top layer of skin went, though, because it wasn’t flapping over the strawberry… it was just gone, leaving the wound neatly frayed around the edges in a complete circle. I decided that the missing skin was either stuck to the sidewalk or to the inside of my jeans.)

While the wound looked superficial, the knee itself had inflated in a lumpy non-pattern all the way around. I considered what to do. Place a bag of frozen peas over the swelling? I decided to just elevate my leg.

My right knee took the worst punishment. Left knee was just bruised, but also painful to the touch. Palms got away with the whole thing completely, though I swear they also met the sidewalk with considerable force. A headache had developed – I’m guessing from the heavy backpack landing on the back of my neck – and (spoiler alert!) it lasted for three days.

So that was that, but it didn’t end there. The embarrassing effects extended into the weekend.

On Friday, my head and knees throbbed all day, and I felt useless at work.

On Saturday, I woke up with an intensified headache and almost ate a handful of Advil, but I resisted and went to Body Combat un-ibuprofenized. I’d missed class on Wednesday night… there was no way I was going to miss Saturday morning!

Body Combat mostly went fine. I went easy on the knees. I just got disoriented at some point, almost fell backwards at another point, and couldn’t let my knees touch the floor.

Then I went to do some grocery shopping at Sprouts, where I got disoriented again and nearly drove my shopping cart into one of those cardboard display things piled high with products, but I managed to swerve around it, which worked, but the edge of the cart got caught on the corner of the display, and I almost tore the whole thing down.

Some version of this has happened to most of you, right? Right?

Things have improved a lot at this point. The headache is gone, for one thing. My knee looks a lot better, albeit scabby, and the pain has lessened quite a bit. (I went to Body Combat last night and still couldn’t put pressure on the knees, but it was better than Saturday.)

I’m thinking of writing to the City of Tempe to ask them to either fix the sidewalk cracks or post signs like this in the more cracky areas:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TrippingHazard_Fromcvsignsandsafetycom

 

I have to admit, I’m kind of hoping they go with the sign option. I love that tripping cartoon person!

What I’m Digging Right Now – July Favorites

Is it just me, or did July come and go at the speed of light? I hardly recognized it was July before it was over! I don’t even know what happened there! Well, I guess I do. A lot happened in July. We enjoyed and cherished the blessing of priceless moments with family, friends, and our new kitty, Nenette, but I’m glad to take this moment to dwell on the Little Things that helped to make the month awesome.

Jumping right in…

1). Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (novels by Stephen King)

 

Stephen King novels - always a good time!

Stephen King novels – always a good time!

 

How did the existence of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes escape me for a whole year? Finders Keepers came to my attention when it became available this summer, but it wasn’t until then that I learned about Mr. Mercedes, which precedes Finders Keepers. On the up side, discovering the two books at the same time meant that I got to indulge in some delicious Stephen King binge reading. I heartily enjoyed the stories and characters in these novels, along with the technical surprises of them… they’re more thriller than horror, and King’s writing style departs from his usual, as well… but they’re not lacking in his usual flair. No matter how he writes, I’m always left wanting more. Such is the genius of Stephen King.

 

2). Southpaw (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawMoviePoster

 

Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in this film is brilliant. It’s exciting to think that his superb portrayal of boxer Billy Hope, a role of a sort he’s never taken on before, might lead to an even broader selection of projects. He had nothing to prove in the first place, but now that we know he’s solid action flick material, we hope to see him turn up in more places we wouldn’t have expected.

 

3). The Body Shop’s Honeymania (fragrance).

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

 

When I made the commitment to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, I started experimenting with fragrances from The Body Shop. You know I love their beautiful Madagascar Vanilla scent, but I found that I’m even more enamored with Honeymania. On me, this fragrance works better than the former in terms of staying power and sillage, and it’s gorgeous, presenting, with my particular chemistry, like wildflowers with a subtle note of honey underneath. Other people love it when they smell it on me, too, which is always a good thing! I keep the body butter on my desk at work so my friends there can enjoy it, too.

 

4). Alba Botanica Very Emollient sunless tanner.

 

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

 

This pic is supposed to show how the color from Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient sunless tanner develops on my legs, the only place I put the stuff. I’m aware that my legs still look pale. That’s because they’re very pale in their natural state! Like many mixed chicks, I’m two-toned, with varying shades and textures of skin on different body parts. My face and legs are pale with thin skin that burns rather than tans, while the skin on my neck, arms, torso and back is thicker and tans easily. Every summer, my neck and arms turn brown no matter what I do, so I like to do a little self-tanning on my legs just to even things out a bit.

I like the way this cruelty-free sunless tanner works, but my favorite thing about it is the surprising way that it smells. Inexplicably… this is a self-tanning lotion we’re talking about, remember… this product smells like a scrumptious, baked treat. Callaghan and I have been trying to identify it, and it’s been driving us crazy, as we can’t quite figure it out. It’s a familiar scent, kind of buttery and caramelesque, but… not quite. It’s a mystery. It’s awesome.

 

5). Naturtint Naturally Better permanent hair color in 5G (Light Golden Chestnut).

 

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

 

Here’s another cruelty-free product that, because of what it is, has no business wafting a delicious food scent into your nostrils. This hair color actually smells like anise! This is a permanent hair dye. It smells like anise, not like chemicals. Amazing! The shade I use is beautiful, too. The color comes out rich and multi-dimensional, and it lasts longer than the product I was using before. Like the Honeymania fragrance, others have noticed; I’ve never received compliments on my hair color before I started using this one. In every respect, this hair color is superior to any I’ve ever used… and I never would have found it had I not gone cruelty-free.

 

6). Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask.

 

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

 

I’m missing my beloved Epielle sheet masks much less now, thanks to this product from Freeman. My explorations into the realm of cruelty-free facial masks led me to their Golden Grain Brightening Mask, which is unlike anything I’ve used before.

Formulated with vitamin C to brighten the skin and even out discoloration, the product comes out of the tube looking and feeling like clear hair gel. I eyed it warily at first, but there’s nothing even remotely unpleasant about it. The mask spreads over your skin like watery silk, not the slightest bit sticky. It’s good for dry skin, but it’s not oily or greasy. It’s thick, but it goes on feeling hydrating. If water came in gel form, it would be like this. I love its fresh, clean herbal scent, too, which is just as important!

I leave the mask on five minutes longer than recommended, and it never feels tight, dry or otherwise uncomfortable. The entire experience of this mask is pleasant and relaxing. I use it interchangeably with Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask, which is more like your traditional clay mask. I’ve said that I’d never go back to masks that harden on your skin and require work to remove, but my skin likes a variety of masks (when I was using the Epielle sheet masks, I alternated between four different formulas), so I re-thought that when I began my cruelty-free adventure. The Dead Sea Minerals mask by Freeman is a great one, as well.

Now that I’ve talked about products that smell like food… fragrance that smells of honey, self-tanning lotion that smells of a buttery-sweet dessert, and hair color that smells of anise… let’s talk about actual food!

 

7). Cherries.

 

Fresh sweet cherries!

Fresh sweet cherries!

 

It appears that I have a tendency to find things I love and then proceed to eat them to excess all month long. This probably isn’t the best idea, especially when the food in question tends to give me digestive issues! I’ve always had a mild sensitivity to cherries, but they’re my favorite fruit, so I eat them with abandon when they’re in season, regardless. I ate tons of cherries in July and didn’t regret a single one.

 

8). Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.

 

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

 

This is my all-time favorite dish, and it so happened that I married the person who makes it the best, in my opinion! Callaghan’s pasta with garlic and olive oil is sublime. Of course, I grind more sea salt onto my plate than anyone should eat in a sitting, probably, but I love this dish on the saltier side. There’s just something about the combination of garlic and salt. We like to eat the pasta first and then distribute the minced garlic and olive oil (left at the bottom of the pasta bowls) over toasted whole wheat bread spread with Earth Balance. Fantastic garlic bread!

We eat this year-round – it’s one of our staple meals – but we went a little crazy with it in July. We started out the month with four pounds of whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry, and by the end of the month, we’d eaten it all. We’ll never get tired of it.

 

9). Sprouts’ Vegan Super Fruit muffins.

 

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

 

We found these muffins in Sprouts’ bakery, and we enjoyed them all through July. These are not your standard, oversized muffins, bloated with sugar and bad fats. These are delicious and just perfect. They’re large, but not two-servings huge, and they’re light and not too sweet. The fruit in them balances the flavor with a nice tang. I wish Sprouts existed outside of Arizona so you could all try them!

ETA: I just checked their web site and saw that new locations are coming to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia! Sprouts is finally branching out of the Land of AZ. Move over, Whole Paycheck!

 

10). Clif bar in Nuts & Seeds.

 

Clif's new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

Clif’s new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

 

Like the muffins, the new Nuts & Seeds Clif bar isn’t as sweet as you’d expect. I still love their Sierra Trail Mix bar, but this one’s my new favorite! I usually enjoy half a bar as weekday workout fuel. You can’t go wrong with a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.

That’s it for July’s Little Things… my list for August is already filling up, and we’re only three days into it!