You’re a seasonal beast (October Favorites!)

Our daytime temperatures hung out in the 90’s all October, right up until yesterday, when it dropped into the 80’s… but it’s been fall enough for me!

Lots of food to talk about again. In October, I started making a point of watching the amounts of processed food and refined sugars that I consume. The situation has gotten better (it wasn’t that bad before, but there was a lot of room for improvement). I’m still a fan of protein/energy bars and cereals, though, so I’m always trying new ones. My latest discoveries are included in this list.

Things have been busier than usual with writing, plus preparation for various trips (those had and those to-be-had). So I’m just going to get right into these little things I loved in October. Happy Fall!

 

1). The Shallows (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theshallows

 

This wasn’t the greatest film ever, but it was entertaining and suspenseful and different, so we had a good time with it. Good shark films, let’s face it… because Sharknado movies don’t count (“good” being the operative word)… are few and far between. I can’t think of a decent one since Jaws, and that was something like 40 years ago. The Shallows filled that void nicely, despite its absurd ending. Nancy’s predicament was plausible enough, but the contrast between that modicum of believability and the big problem-solving action she takes at the end was just too stark. After all the time we spent balancing on the edge of our seats, waiting to see how she’d get out of her situation, we ended up, like, “…really?” It almost killed the whole thing for us (pardon the pun). But we enjoyed The Shallows 95% of the way through, and I do recommend it if you’re in for a shark-menaced thriller!

 

2). Speechless (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-speechless

 

Speechless is a new sitcom that stars Minnie Driver and features a main character with a disability. If there’s ever been a sitcom centered on a family with a specific set of challenges not only working into their dynamic, but shaping their dynamic, I haven’t heard of it. Speechless has us amused and charmed, impressed and appreciative… there’s a lot to appreciate about this series, on many levels. Highly recommended!

 

3). KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

 

KIND Nuts and Spices bars (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

KIND Nuts and Spices bars (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

 

Yes, it’s another KIND bar… but this one has 5 grams of sugar, which is less than the others I’d loved. This is a satisfying little bar with a decent amount of protein, for what it is. It’s been a delicious staple all month.

 

4). Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

 

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

 

And another bar! This one lands on the list because it reminds me of fig newtons, which I love… especially when I close my eyes and savor its aftertaste. This bar is more sugary than the KIND bar, but I like its solid good carb content, and it’s not devoid of nutrients. I have this as a treat once or twice a week.

 

5). Organic apples

 

organic apples

organic apples

 

I’m still enjoying red grapes every day, but I’ve added apples to the mix. It was time! Apples… I like them, but I tire of them quickly, so I save them for the fall and winter, for the most part. They’re always a surprisingly tasty twist after months of delicious spring and summer fruits.

 

6). Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

 

Bragg's organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

 

This is certainly new: I’ve been drinking apple cider vinegar, stirring a teaspoon of it into a glass of cold water three times a day. It’s an acquired taste, I guess… I found it strange, at first, but it’s become an oddly refreshing concoction that I look forward to drinking.

 

7). Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

 

Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

 

This is one of my favorite cereals! For some reason, I seem to gravitate toward Triscut-like Kashi cereals this time of year. I like the Autumn Wheat and the cinnamon one equally. The latter has more sugar, but neither of these are that sugary. I have them with fresh blueberries and soy milk.

 

8). Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

 

Trader Joe's Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

 

For years now I’ve been cycling in and out of raw almond phases. I usually eat roasted, salted nuts and seeds (every day), but I crave plain old raw almonds every once in a while. Trader Joe’s (“just a handful”) raw almonds is a time-saver. You can grab a pre-portioned packet on your way to anywhere.

 

9). Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

 

Nature's Wick bonfire nights candle

Nature’s Wick bonfire nights candle

 

Another candle! When last month’s candle died its natural death, Callaghan went to repurchase it… but there weren’t any left. So he got this one, instead. And I like it even better. It was slightly alarming at first (its wooden wicks are designed to crackle like a fire, which isn’t necessarily a sound you want to hear in your kitchen), but I’m used to it now, and I’m enraptured. I can’t even describe the scent. It really does evoke the woods in the fall, with a bonfire, and the crackling fire sound adds to the experience, as intended. It is lovely.

 

10). Les Mills BODYPUMP

 

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Body Pump just became a favorite last week, as you may know! I’m thrilled to have added two of these classes to my weekly workout schedule.

That wraps it up for October! I’m guessing that November will fly by, and I’ll be back with another Favorites post before I know it.

What I’m Digging Right Now – July Favorites

The month of July took one look at our calendar, looked at us, and laughed. It mocked us. It studied everything we had planned, and then it said, Ha! Plans, schmanz… I got something else for ya!

In my case, the “something else” included a doozy of a summer cold. But I have no complaints. It was still a fun month. It’s just that very little happened according to plan, and, well, we all know how I feel about plans. I can be a little neurotic about sticking to them. Partnering up with Callaghan has been a healthy balm for that tendency… he’s my opposite in many ways, and there’s nothing like living with your opposite to get you out of your comfort zones!

We only caught two of the six live music performances we’d planned to attend, with one of those no-shows being due to my cold. Also because of the cold virus, I couldn’t really hang out with our friends who were here for a few days, visiting from France.

And finally, the entire month was consumed by our unexpected plunge into an overwhelming exciting adventure of the nail-biting variety, which I’ll likely talk about in a near-future blog post. “Near-future,” as in, when it’s reached its successful conclusion (fingers crossed)!

Meanwhile, here are some little things that captured my fancy in July and made the month especially, splendiferously wonderful:

 

1). Night-blooming cactus.

 

Absolutely captivating night-blooming cactus flower!

Absolutely captivating night-blooming cactus flower!

 

Virgil across the way cultivates what’s probably the most diverse cactus garden outside of the Desert Botanical Gardens. The day he told us about this particular night-blooming cactus in his collection, we schemed to capture her in action. We went out there at 5:00am the next morning, and again at 6:00am, and again at 7:00am, and we got to enjoy her splendor at each stage. I’ve always loved desert blooms, but this one flower stole the entire 20+-year show! It was especially fun to find an ecstatic bee rolling around in her depths, covered so thickly in pollen that it looked like he was wearing a bright yellow fuzzy coat.

 

2). Songzaa (App)

 

Songzaa - my current favorite app for finding new music.

Songzaa – my current favorite app for finding new music.

 

This free app magically cranks out playlists according to your mood or whim of the moment… you key something in, and it presents all the possibilities. Since I started listening to Songzaa’s playlists, I’ve discovered lots of new music, and that’s always a plus when you have no idea what’s out there and you don’t have time to investigate for yourself. You can find playlists by keying in your mood, a specific scenario (i.e. “cleaning the house” or “road trip”), or specific artists. However you search, it pulls up a list of artists followed by a selection of playlists. What’s not to love?

Let’s talk about food!

 

3). Trader Joe’s “just a handful” of raw almonds.

 

Big bag of smaller, individually-wrapped portions of raw almonds... measuring not required. =)

Big bag of smaller, individually-wrapped portions of raw almonds… measuring not required. =)

 

So healthy! So convenient! I throw one of these in my bag as I’m running out the door in the morning, and it saves me when my mid/late morning slump hits… we eat breakfast at 7:00am, so I’m hungry again by 10:30am. This pre-portioned bag of almonds gets me through with the protein and healthy fat it contains, and you’re never going to hear me complain about eating foods rich in Vitamin E, either (it’s so good for the skin)!

 

4). Van’s Natural Foods Chocolate Chip Chewy Baked Whole Grain Snack Bar.

 

My latest favorite energy bar.

My latest favorite energy bar.

 

There’s nothing unhealthy in these all-natural bars. They’re vegan (if that matters to you), gluten-free (if that matters to you), they’re free of GMOs and corn (if that matters to you), they’re kosher (if that matters to you), and they’re whole grain, fiber-rich and free of artificial colors and flavors… not to mention, they’re amazingly good! These bars are just tasty and satisfying to nosh when you need a little something to get you through that annoying, stomach-growling 4:00-5:00pm hour.

 

5). Apples with peanut butter.

 

I've been on a serious peanut butter and organic apple kick lately!

I’ve been on a serious peanut butter and organic apple kick lately!

 

I’ve always enjoyed this classic combination, but lately, I’ve been really craving it. I cut the apple into wedges and smear them with peanut butter, and the whole experience of eating them is so intensely satisfying, it’s borderline weird. But I’m going with it, because it’s a delicious and ridiculously healthy combination.

 

6). Anchorman 2 (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Anchorman2_Poster

 

We finally saw this movie, and it totally cracked us up! It was a riot, and we weren’t expecting to find it as funny as we did. We actually thought it was funnier than the first one, which doesn’t often happen with sequels.

Moving on to the beauty/skin-care products…

 

7). St. Ives Lotion Spray in Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter.

 

St. Ives made a spray-on lotion, and it's lovely.

St. Ives made a spray-on lotion, and it’s lovely.

 

St. Ives – I’ve always loved this brand. Now they’ve come out with their take on spray-on moisturizer, and it’s perfection in a can. This stuff was made for people like me who are super lazy about putting on body lotion. St. Ives’ is a light formula in a light spray with a faint, pleasant fragrance, and it practically applies itself! It’s delightfully effortless, and I really have no excuse to not moisturize, now.

 

8). Olay Body Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter.

 

According to Callaghan, the "Format Avantageux" is complete Quebecois... the French wouldn't say "value size" like that! It seems that all the French on the packaging of products in the States is Quebecois. Interesting.

According to Callaghan, the “Format Avantageux” is complete Quebecois… the French wouldn’t say “value size” like that! It seems that all the French on the packaging of products in the States is Quebecois. Interesting.

 

Here’s another wonder of a moisturizing product! We’ve actually been using this body wash since spring, and we’ve discovered that other moisturizing body washes just don’t compare. We keep coming back to this one; we re-purchased it again in July, so I thought I’d put it on the list.

Oh, and by the way, that St. Ives lotion spray following a shower with this Olay body wash results in the silkiest skin ever. Great combination!

 

9). L’Occitane en Provence Beurre de Karite (Shea Butter) lip balm.

 

L'Occitane en Provence shea butter lip balm... very simple, and very effective.

L’Occitane en Provence shea butter lip balm… very simple, and very effective.

 

L’Occitane en Provence was one of those little shops in the mall I always walked past and never entered; neither did I ever feel compelled to try their products when I lived in southern France, where the company originated and therefore has shops all over the place. Even after our friend Chantal gave me this little pot of lip balm, it took me a while to try it… she gave it to me in April, and I didn’t really start using it until June. In July, though, I found myself reaching for this product more and more as my lips became drier with the intensifying summer heat. This is a very effective all-purpose lip balm.

And hey, I just realized that all three of the skin-care products on my list this month feature Shea butter! Theme not intended. =)

 

10). Prescription sunglasses.

 

Driving legally again!

Driving legally again!

 

Did I ever tell you about the time I lost my prescription sunglasses in France at a gas station somewhere between le Vercors and Nice? Well, that happened, and I’ve been driving illegally ever since… until now. Oh yes! Now cops can pull me over all day, and they’re never going to cite me for driving without corrective lenses. Ha!

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)