Much ado about the usual, but different… (December Favorites!)

We’re here today because, as usual, I’m compelled to share with you some of the past month’s riches. It’s all quite predictable. A movie. Some streaming series. Foods I’ve been eating with great enjoyment all month. A couple of products I’ll definitely re-purchase.

This month, though, I’m going to start with a person. Maybe I’ll make a habit of this!

1). Favorite Body Pump Bitcher and Moaner: RON.

 

 

This is Ron. Ron does not wish to be photographed in the wild. Ron’s favorite thing to do in Body Pump is bitch and moan. Ron has an answer for everything. When the instructor says “shoulder rolls,” Ron says “CINNAMON ROLLS.” When the instructor says “you can increase your weights,” Ron says “okay, I’ll decrease my weights.” When the instructor says “moving on to the lunge track!” Ron says “You mean the shoulder track. We already did lunges.” Ron loves lunges the MOST! Body Pump instructors everywhere: if Ron turns up in your class (you’ll know it’s him because he’ll be the one bitching and moaning about lunges before class even starts), make sure to do seven tracks of lunges.

(Thank you, Ron. LOL.)

 

2). The Possession of Hannah Grace

 

 

This film in a few words: spooky, dark, claustrophobic, fantastic. Horror fans, you’ll want to see this one. It’s not the demon-possession flick you’re used to seeing. That’s all I’m going to say.

 

3). The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Netflix)

 

 

We sprang for this series on a whim, and we’re so glad that we did! As Aunt Zelda would say, “HAIL SATAN.”

 

4). The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

 

 

I also recommend this smart series about a pair of longtime friends and Hollywood legends of yore. We found The Kominsky Method to be surprisingly fresh and delightful considering it features a couple of crotchety oldsters. Highly recommend!

 

5). Dumplin’ (Netflix Original Movie)

 

 

Again in a few words: powerful, moving, funny, sharp. We loved this Netflix film, and it’s not of a genre we usually prefer. The film is sorely underrated, in my humble opinion. I found Dumplin’ to be pretty much perfect, and I would see it again. I recommend that you see it, too!

 

6). Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta (spaghetti style). (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta (spaghetti)

 

I swear you’d never suspect that this pasta is gluten-free! You must try it to believe it. It’s amazing.

 

7). Victoria Vegan Alfredo Red Pepper Sauce. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Victoria Vegan Alfredo Red Pepper Sauce

 

We tried every pasta sauce in Victoria Vegan’s line, and this alfredo red pepper version was our favorite. To be honest, all of the sauces started out well and then disappointed with their slightly bitter aftertastes, but any bitterness at the end of this one melded perfectly with the sauce, itself. Victoria Vegan’s alfredo red pepper sauce is delicious.

 

8). Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter

 

Earth Balance will always be a staple, but now we have another buttery spread favorite in Miyoko’s Organic European Style Cultured Vegan Butter. It’s so good!

 

9). Vega Protein Snack Bar (Coconut Almond). (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Vega Protein Snack Bar (coconut almond)

 

Another month, another protein bar, I know. I can’t walk by a vegan protein bar without picking it up. I’ve found a lot of “favorites” in recent months, and I’m still noshing on them all… but this one. This one, guys, is my MOST favorite favorite. I’m borderline obsessed with this bar. I tried a few other flavors in this line, and I found them to be as disgusting as this one is superb. Vega is like that, in general, I’ve noticed. I either hate their products or really, really love them.

 

10). Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil Deep Moisturizing Kukui Nut. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil – Deep Moisturizing Kukui Nut

 

Yet another product from Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian line that I adore! My ride-or-die cleansers are still Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian facial cleanser, facial scrub, and plumeria shampoo, and now I’m hooked on their body oil, too. I smooth this on at night, in the shower before I dry off. It’s moisturizing, light, and not the slightest bit greasy.

 

11). The Body Shop Blueberry Body Butter. (Cruelty-free)

 

The Body Shop Blueberry Body Butter

 

This body butter arrived as a free gift with my Black Friday purchases. I’m glad that this was the “surprise” scent they threw in, because I wouldn’t have tried it otherwise! This body butter smells divine. I’ve tried several other body butters from The Body Shop before, and they all smelled delicious, but this one. I’m already almost halfway through the large pot, and it’s only been a month. If The Body Shop expands their blueberry scent into a full product line, I’ll be all in.

 

La fin! Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

In a nutshell. (December Favorites!)

Happy New Year! I can’t say that enough. Every day since last January, 2017 showed no sign of ending anytime soon, and now, at long last, it’s over. At the same time, the year went way too fast. 2017 was the split personality of years in my life, and it leaves me excited for 2018.

I’m starting 2018 with a new approach to these “monthly favorites” posts: I’m going to answer three questions about each “little thing” on my lists, rather than writing paragraphs about them. If I have something more to say about something, I’ll devote a separate post to it. Starting now, these posts will be more visual, less blah-blah-blah.

 

1). Darkest Hour

 

 

What I liked: The acting, the direction, the musical score, the story of Dunkirk from the back end, Gary Oldman’s make-up and costume, the overall quality of the production.

What I didn’t like: It dragged slightly in some places, but not enough to lessen my regard of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you enjoy biopics.

 

2). Black Mirror (S4)  (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: Every story in every episode, the writing, the direction, impact/thought-provoking nature of the stories, the big philosophical questions raised, the overall excellence of the production.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. You might enjoy this even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi thrillers.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The writing, the acting, the costumes and set, the entertainment factor, the film’s freshness and overall excellence.

What I didn’t like: Some of the humor fell flat on me.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

4). I Love Dick (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The story, the writing, its presentation as art, its unapologetic rawness, some of the acting (mainly Kathryn Hahn’s).

What I didn’t like: Just that its IMDB rating is much lower than I’d expect it to be. In my opinion, this series is curiously underrated.

Would I recommend it? NOT TO EVERYONE. If you’d rather not see sexually explicit stories and raw, “artistic” story-telling of such material, I would not recommend.

 

5). Mom’s cooking.

 

Okara with brown rice and furikake

 

What I liked: Everything, meaning the tofu and the okara pictured above. Mom brought freshly made tofu from the little tofu place in my hometown’s J-town (Japan-town), so it was the tofu of my childhood. It’s nothing like the prepackaged tofu you get in a box in the supermarket.

Okara, by the way, is Japanese for “rubbish,” in a sense, from what I understand… as a dish, it’s the scraps leftover from the making of fresh tofu. You could buy it in bags and cook it up with dashi (Mom used plant-based dashi), seasonings, and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. It’s one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Grandma used to make it just for me!

What I didn’t like: That it was, perhaps, the last time I’d eat it. With the closing of the little family-run tofu factory (there’s no one left to take it over), fresh tofu and okara may be a thing of the past.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but this is irrelevant, of course.

 

6). Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels.

 

Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels

 

What I liked: High nutrient density in a bread that seems like a cheat-day indulgence.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve been eating one of these a day almost every day for over a month, and I’m not tired of them yet.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter.

 

Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter

 

What I liked: Peanut butter on an apple pie Larabar is as delicious as peanut butter on fresh apple slices. It’s a satisfying nutritional powerhouse of a treat.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? If the apple/peanut butter flavor combo appeals to you, then yes.

 

8). Cara Cara oranges.

 

Cara Cara oranges

 

What I liked: These beautiful red-fleshed navel oranges (they are not blood oranges) are incredibly sweet and juicy, and they have just a hint of tropical flavor.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

9). Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract).

 

Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract)

 

What I liked: This overnight mask makes my skin look more smooth in the morning. It goes on like a thick lotion that dries into a pleasant, slight tightness; it’s not sticky, as other overnight masks often are. I layer this on over my nightcream every night.

What I didn’t like: Its schoolroom fragrance (paste, maybe?) is somewhat strange, but actually, I don’t dislike it. It may be a turn-off for some people, though.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

10). OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter.

 

OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter

 

What I liked: Just that it actually works to smooth out the frizzy fly-aways all over my head, and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

The End. How’s that for succinct?

Until next time!