Little Things. (May Favorites.)

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post a “May Favorites,” to be honest. I had my running list, but in light of the critically important matters of the day, the idea of a “favorite little things” post just seemed ridiculous and self-indulgent.

I decided to post it, though I’m without many words. I’m sorry for this, for the fact that my heart just isn’t in it. My heart has been broken and flung to far more worthwhile places, along with millions of other hearts. I’ve been preoccupied with wanting to do my part as an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement. By this, I mean that I want to do more. I’m unsure of how. I’ve been educating myself. I’ve donated. It doesn’t feel like enough. I’m going to continue with my education, that’s for sure.

Here are those Little Things that I enjoyed in May:

 

1). El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story (Netflix)

 

 

Somehow, it’d escaped us that there was a movie continuing Jesse Pinkman’s story after the conclusion of Breaking Bad. We rectified the oversight, and we were glad that we did. Breaking Bad fans, if you haven’t seen El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story, you really must. Those of you who haven’t seen Breaking Bad: don’t bother with this. It’s excellent, but it’ll only make sense if you’ve seen the series.

(Also, if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad yet, WHY NOT? It hasn’t been over-hyped. It can’t be hyped enough.)

 

2). Alps (Amazon Prime rental)

 

 

 

I only got to one of the Yorgos Lanthimos films on my list, and Alps was it. I found it to be as bizarre, thought-provoking, risky, and lyrically semiotic as Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The next film of his I plan to watch is The Favourite, which I believe is his most commonly known film.

 

3). Ingrid Goes West (Amazon Prime rental)

 

 

I went for this film because of Aubrey Plaza, and her performance was as satisfying to watch as I’d thought it would be. Parks and Recreation fans could imagine how she’d own the role of a stalker. I think that this indie film would be enjoyable to many, but it’s a must-watch for social media influencers.

 

4). The Ritual (Netflix)

 

 

A proper horror flick seemed appropriate at the time that I watched this film on Netflix. It was rather “eh” to me, but it proved its worth in terms of my love for the cabin/camping-in-the-woods sub-genre of horror. As mediocre as I thought it was, I was in the mood for it. It worked. If you’re also a fan of this sort of horror, you might enjoy escaping into this film, too.

 

5). Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas (Netflix)

 

 

 

This Netflix comedy special also proved to be the right thing at the right time, and I found it to be excellent. It came recommended to me by a friend (thank you, April!), and I second her recommendation.

 

6). Dead to Me (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

Dead to Me: for when you want some light and funny with your crime. I was there for it, and also for the outstanding acting performances. I love the writing in this series, as well.

 

7). Bordertown (Sorjonen) (S3) (Netflix)

 

 

We enjoy Scandinavian noir, in general, but Bordertown (original title: Sorjonen) is our favorite project within this sub-genre of crime thriller. With its third and final season, its creators deftly wrapped up the series. They took the development of Kari Sorjonen’s eccentric character as far as they could. Story-wise, they left things exactly the way I would’ve wanted them to be left, though I didn’t know what that would look like until they did it. This is a great series, in general, but I’d especially recommend it to you if you’re new to Scandinavian noir.

 

9). JASON Calming Lavender Body Wash. (vegan and cruelty-free)

 

JASON Calming Lavender Body Wash

 

I used up all of my body washes from The Body Shop and decided to look to the drugstore shelves for another aromatic option. JASON is a brand that’s never missed the mark for me; I usually re-purchase the products of theirs that I try. This body wash will be no exception. I find its scent to be more crisp and invigorating than calming, but I like it nonetheless.

 

10). Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shaving Cream. (vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shaving Cream

 

Kiss My Face finally returned their vegan/cruelty-free shaving cream to their stock, but before I could realize that, I went looking through Callaghan’s products. He’d started using this Natural Shaving Cream, and I had no idea that it was vegan and cruelty-free! This is just a good product. I recommend it.

 

That about does it, my friends. Until Thursday!

 

 

In like a lion, out like a tiger: March was a liger. (March Favorites!)

March was a long-ass month, and yet I only have four “Little Things” items to share with you.

This first one is really the only one, though.

 

  1. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)

 

 

Words escape me.

Tiger King isn’t on my list because I loved it so much. (It’s not a lovable story.) It’s on my list because it’s shenanigans of unbelievable proportions, and it’s an excellent production.

This seven-part docuseries follows former private zoo owner “Joe Exotic,” aka “The Tiger King,” though the story isn’t just about him. You meet many other characters along the way as Tiger King’s events unfold on their twisted path. What’s mind-boggling to me is that each new character is somehow more bizarre than the last, and not one of them is fictitious. I had to keep reminding myself that Tiger King is a documentary. It contains hours and hours of footage accumulated over months, if not years.

One take-away is that there are cat people, and then there are cat people. Your garden-variety “crazy cat lady” has nothing on the folks involved in Tiger King.

Tiger King is well worth the watch because it’s an outstanding production, as I’d said, and the story is just… well, let’s just say that if ever there was a train wreck custom-designed to serve as a distraction from a pandemic menacing all of humankind, it’s Tiger King.

(As a strong proponent of animal rights and welfare, I found Tiger King to be difficult to watch in some places. I turned my eyes away from those moments.)

 

I’m going to leave the following two films bare of text. They’re both fantastic cinematic achievements showcasing impressive acting performances, directing, and story-telling. I have nothing further to say about these films except that I highly recommend them both if you haven’t already seen them. The Invisible Man, a re-make, is a spooky sci-fi thriller, and …Hollywood is a Tarentino comedy-thriller without much of a plot, but entertaining nonetheless. “Tarentino” says it all, right? Ha!

2. The Invisible Man (in theaters now, but we rented it on Amazon Prime Video)

 

 

 

3. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

 

 

 

4. Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream

 

I bought this product when I was almost out of the sunscreen I was using, and I was glad that I had it stored away for the occasion. I used up the last of my sunscreen during the worst time to go looking for a new sunscreen. Fortunately, I love this one. It’s everything I want in a sunscreen: SPF 30, broad spectrum, high zinc oxide content (15.50%), and smooth application.

This SPF product is really an all-in-one moisturizer, but I layer it over my Nourish Organics day cream, anyway. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I’m a skin-care junkie.

 

The End, then. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

The Big Things can wait. (February Favorites!)

There were a couple of Big Things that made the month of February especially enjoyable, but these lists I put together are about the Little Things. If you’re new here, hello! I do a list like this at the beginning of each month. They’re basically/mostly a run-down of whatever entertainment, processed foods, and non-edible products I discovered and particularly enjoyed in the previous month.

Without further ado, then! Here are the Little Things I’ve got to show you from February:

 

1). The Autopsy of Jane Doe (Netflix)

 

 

It’s not often that we pick a horror movie that actually grips us in any kind of way you’d want from a horror piece. This one did. Highly recommend, fellow horror fans!

 

2). The Pharmacist (Netflix)

 

 

The Pharmacist is the docuseries you don’t necessarily want to watch, but you should. I watched it alone (Callaghan doesn’t watch everything that I watch), and I pretty much binged the four parts/episodes. A New Orleans man searches for his son’s killer and ends up exploring avenues that lead him to other killers, killers of others. (Those last three words were unnecessary, but I couldn’t resist that palindrome. Had to do it.)

 

3). I Am Not Okay with This (Netflix)

 

 

Each episode of this Netflix dramedy is 30 minutes or less, and there are only seven. It’s easy, fun, fast, and cringey. It’s light and dark, real and fantastical… in other words, as balanced in contradiction as a teenager can be. I Am Not Okay with This is a story about a young girl whose superhero powers develop in tandem with all else that develops in adolescence. (It’s based on a comic book series, in case you’re wondering about the superhero part.)

 

4). Homeland, S6 (Netflix)

 

 

All last year, Callaghan periodically wondered out loud about Homeland’s new season. Isn’t it supposed to be out by now? Two years after the last, its final season has finally arrived. As usual, it’s outstanding. We’re already wondering, “WTF, Carrie!” We’re going to miss Homeland.

 

5). Better Call Saul, S5 (Netflix)

 

 

Another series we’d been anticipating was Better Call Saul. May I just suggest that if you loved Breaking Bad and you haven’t yet watched Better Call Saul, you might want to get on it…? This Breaking Bad prequel focuses on the development of Saul, Walter’s attorney, and it’s brilliant. Season Six is the series’ penultimate one; as of now, the overlap between the two series is getting real.

 

6). Locke & Key (Netflix)

 

 

Like I Am Not Okay with This, Locke & Key is another “kid’s show” of a series. This outright fantastical story gives off Stranger Things vibes that become especially potent by the end of the season. If you enjoy stories in the Stranger Things vein, you’ll likely enjoy Locke & Key.

 

7). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins

 

8). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Original Flake Cereal. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

If you’ve been here awhile, you know that I love Ezekiel breads. Lately, I’ve been eating Ezekiel 4:9 cereal and English muffins… together. Hence, I’m writing about them together.

Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 products were “Inspired by the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9., Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…

…indeed, Ezekiel 4:9 breads and cereals are made of these ingredients. This is a bad picture of the informative back panel of the cereal box, but if you click to enlarge it, you might be able to read it:

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

 

9). Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate. (Vegan)

 

Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71%)

 

I love a dark, bitter chocolate. I’ve been eating more sugar than usual lately because I’ve cycled into a chocolate phase. It’s safe to say that I’ve consumed maybe three of these Equal Exchange chocolate bars in the last month. It’s hard to resist! Equal Exchange dark chocolate is rich and creamy. It’s divine.

 

10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap

 

Also in February, I discovered Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom scent. It’s kind of vanilla-almond-amberish. It’s my new favorite of the brand’s fragrances!

 

That’s it for February, my friends. Happy March to you!

 

 

Campy. Tasty. Ethical. (January Favorites!)

January’s “favorite little things” theme involved easily digested entertainment, sweet munchies, and a couple of products. January wasn’t all that bad. Check out what I’ve got for you today!

 

1). The Witcher (Netflix)

 

 

Exaggerated video game/graphic novel aesthetics (The Witcher had already been delivered in both of those mediums) contribute to the comic-book style of this fantastical series. Where some see The Witcher in comparison to Game of Thrones, I see it as the adopted lovechild of Lord of the Rings, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

As I’d commented to a friend, from what I’ve read online, there are two types of Game of Thrones fans: those who can’t watch The Witcher because of GoT, and those who love The Witcher. (Callaghan is a huge fan of GoT, and he enjoyed The Witcher.) It’s funny how a series can polarize a fandom of another series! I love humans. Whatever your case, The Witcher is done well from an artistic standpoint, so there’s that. I also appreciate and resonate with its thought-provoking tagline, “The worst monsters are the ones we create.”

 

2). American Horror Story – 1984 (S9)

 

 

Continuing on with campy entertainment to be enjoyed at home, we’ve got American Horror Story – 1984, which came out last fall. We finally got around to it in January! It’s unabashedly cheesy, and I loved everything about it; 1984 instantly landed in my top-three favorite AHS seasons.

 

3). Good Girls (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

Good Girls is the series you turn to when you want a crime thriller, a comedy, and a light watch. It’s well-cast with actors who can act, but as usual, I especially enjoyed the performances of Christina Hendricks and Retta.

 

4). Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (S3)

 

 

We were also happy to have a new season of Sabrina. The series gets darker, sappier, and more complicated in season three, and we were into it.

Come to think of it, we didn’t watch anything heavy in January. It was all magic, monsters, and ridiculous shenanigans… a fabulous tone to strike in the first month of the new decade, and appropriate for the times, at that!

 

5). Ten Second Songs (YouTube channel)

So there’s this guy named Anthony Vincent on YouTube. He’s a phenomenal music talent who plays numerous instruments very well, and he can sing like, well, everyone, apparently. In YouTube favorites this month, I bring you his channel: “Ten Second Songs.” From video to video, I’m endlessly entertained. One thing he does is he takes this challenge: he picks a song requested by a viewer, and he sings/performs it in the style of other musicians, also requested by viewers. You don’t need to be familiar with the songs or the musicians Vincent covers, as he’s hilarious and awesome to watch, regardless, but it’s especially fun when you do know the songs and musicians he’s covering. Here are a couple of examples of his cover challenges:

Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” (I know the song because I’m big a Disturbed fan):

 

 

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” (I know the song because of Body Combat):

 

 

6). Mountain Dew Zero Sugar commercial (As Good As The Original) – The Shining edition

 

 

I love almost everything about this most excellent commercial. The only thing about it I don’t like is the product it’s touting, but who cares what it’s about when you have Bryan Cranston, Tracee Ellis Ross, and The Shining. I never get tired of this.

 

7). CLIF Bar – Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt

Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt CLIF Bar

 

I’d lost my ability to taste while I was sick in January, but I could taste sweet. One sweet I particularly got into was this variety of CLIF bar. Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt is delicious.

 

8). Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

I don’t have much to say about these cough drops beyond 1). they helped, and 2). they didn’t taste terrible. I actually like this flavor! I always have a few in my bag now. You never know when you’ll need a cough drop.

 

9). Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

I discovered this toothpaste as I was researching teeth-whitening products. I’m glad I gave it a try! It actually works, and it’s fun to brush with black toothpaste. You end up with a mouthful of ghoulish zombie teeth, and then you get to spit black stuff into the sink. It tastes like a minty toothpaste with a hint of barbeque (not BBQ foods, but the actual BBQ), and it’s just slightly gritty in texture. Love this stuff. I brush with it after brushing with my normal JASON toothpaste. I don’t mind brushing twice.

 

10). Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

For the first time, a mainstream drugstore nail polish brand has a line of vegan nail polishes! Sally Hansen has stepped into the future. It’s good nail polish, too.

 

This brings us to The End. Didn’t I just say “Happy Friday Eve”? I’m saying it again!

 

 

Last “little things” loves of 2019! (December Favorites!)

Here we are at my final “favorite little things” post of 2019! Somehow, I found a lot to include on December’s list. Let’s jump right into the goods, eh?

 

1). Knives Out

 

 

I love going to the movies on my birthday. This year, I chose Knives Out, and it was a fabulous good time. A classic “whodunit” murder mystery, this film exemplifies outstanding film-making on every level. Daniel Craig with a Southern gentleman accent was a bit disconcerting at first, but it was a part of the fun! Daniel Craig, right? I hadn’t been aware of his gift for comedic timing, either. The entire cast was excellent, but I was particularly impressed with Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas. Highly recommend this one.

 

2). Reprisal (Hulu Original Series)

 

 

Hulu’s Reprisal left us immediately counting the days until S2 drops next year. This was one of those series that started with a slow burn, then fully spread and intensified until we were thoroughly captivated by the end. Reprisal is easily one of my favorite series of 2019.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (S3) (Amazon Prime Original Series)

 

 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel continues to be marvelous. I’m endlessly impressed with this entire production, and Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein are superb! Also, for me, as far as period pieces go, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel spectacularly fills the void left by Mad Men. Looking forward to S4!

 

4). You (S2) (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

I’m not sure where to begin with Netflix’ You, so let me just sum it up with my appreciation of how the writers took Joe’s shenanegans to another level in Season 2… and how the twist at the end is one of the most brilliant twists I’ve seen in a series. Like Reprisal, Callaghan and I were kind of “eh” at the start, but by episode 4, we were ALL IN. One aspect I particularly enjoyed this time was the added depth given to Joe’s complex psyche. Season 2 is deeper, crazier, more surprising, and just as outstanding as Season 1. You is a rare series in that I actually enjoyed its second season even more than its first.

 

5). Miyoko’s Un-Lox Your Dreams Vegan Cream Cheese. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Miyoko’s Un-Lox Your Dreams Vegan Cream Cheese

 

INGREDIENTS: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream, Sea Salt, Organic Seaweed, Vegetable Juice For Color, Spices, Cultures.

December started out as I was beginning to eat solid foods again. I felt that I had a lot of catching up to do, and I definitely had several pounds to re-gain after November’s post-oral-surgery menu. This may have biased me when I went to taste Miyoko’s “Un-Lox” vegan cream cheese flavor, but I’m pretty sure that I’d like it just as much under normal circumstances. I haven’t tried a Miyoko’s product that I didn’t like, after all.

 

6). World Cuisine Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (Sea Salt). (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

World Cuisine Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (Sea Salt)

 

INGREDIENTS: Organic Chickpeas, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid.

I’m still not biting into anything hard with my front teeth, but I started tossing crunchy snacks into my mouth again around the third week of December. The savory such food I went for was roasted, salted chickpeas. The first few bags I devoured were these from Saffron Road, and then Callaghan went ahead and got me a huge bag of whatever the brand is they have at Costco. Salted crunchy chickpeas are all the same, and they’re all delicious! They’re crunchy, but they’re not hard, corn-nut-level crunchy. I’ve been mixing these chickpeas with raw almonds for my afternoon nosh.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS: Coconut milk, water, green curry paste (shallot, lemon grass, garlic, green chili, galangal, water, salt, coriander seed, Thai lime peel, ginger, turmeric, white pepper, cumin, citric acid), cane sugar, rice bran oil, modified cornstarch, basil leaf, green chili, salt.

Trader Joe’s satisfied my recent cravings for curry with its prepared green curry simmering sauce. A typical fast, processed lunch I enjoyed in December consisted of Trader Joe’s frozen rice medley (red rice, brown rice, and barley, I think) with this sauce mixed into it. It was like a quick and dirty Thai risotto. I must’ve curried myself out for the time-being, though, because I haven’t been wanting it lately! I loved it and loved it and loved it, and now I’m done. No doubt I’ll cycle back around to it at some point, though.

 

8). NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil (True Beige Buff). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

 

This tinted moisturizer became my new ride-or-die foundation the second I tried it from the tester at Ulta. I wear the shade True Buff Beige, and it’s a perfect match. A little goes a long way when you apply it with your fingers! I use a pea-size dab on each side of my face, and that’s it. I don’t know what else to say about it, really. It just works for my skin, and it’s lovely and it feels amazing and it’s vegan and affordable and available in every drugstore, and, well, I’m going to cry if NYX ever discontinues it. That is all.

 

9). The Body Shop Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask

 

I said that I wasn’t going to go crazy on The Body Shop’s website this past Black Friday season, and I didn’t. I only purchased a few items, and I got them at astonishing prices. It had to be one of my proudest retail moments when I ordered $41.00 worth of stuff from The Body Shop and checked out at only $11.60! I had $19.50 worth of promotions, including a $5.00 coupon found by the Honey app, and I also used my birthday month $10.00 voucher. I love that my birthday month is also Black Friday/seasonal scent month! The Body Shop’s seasonal scents are my favorites, as you’ll see in the entry below.

Oh, but first, this mask, you guys. From the first time I used The Body Shop’s Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask, I knew that it was what my skin had been needing. It’d been months since I’d done a daytime mask of any kind. I’m so glad that I tried this one. Another new favorite-favorite, for sure.

 

10). The Body Shop Juicy Pear seasonal scent (body butter). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

The Body Shop Juicy Pear (2019 seasonal scent) (body butter)

 

Juicy Pear is one of those seasonal/limited edition scents from The Body Shop that I wish would stick around, it’s so good. It doesn’t really smell like pears to me. It just smells divine. If only they’d keep it and make a spray fragrance of it….

 

11). Crystal Mineral Deodorant Roll-On (Vanilla Jasmine). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Crystal Mineral Deodorant Roll-On – Vanilla Jasmine

 

I ran out of deodorant and decided to try this Crystal roll-on. The Schmidts deodorant worked well for me, so I was surprised that this one worked even better. In fact, it works better than most non-natural deodorants I’ve used! The scent I chose is vanilla jasmine, but it smells herbal and crisp and kind of masculine to me, which I like in a deodorant.

 

12). Jason Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening Gel. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

JASON Powersmile®
Anti-Cavity & Whitening Gel
Powerful Peppermint

 

Again, necessity gave me an excuse to try something new. I’m happy with everything this toothpaste has to offer, but my favorite thing has to be its sharp peppermint flavor. My teeth and mouth feel super clean and fresh after brushing with it, and again, a little goes a long way! A small dab on the toothbrush is enough.

 

So… that is IT for 2019! I hope your New Year is off to a wicked good start.

 

 

No tricks, all treats. (November Favorites!)

In this “monthly favorites” post, I’m doing something different in including a few recipes. I figured, why not? I believe it was last month that I started posting food ingredients, so this is just an extension of that. If I discover good recipes, then I should share them with you, after all. Good recipes are definitely “little things” that qualify for the “favorites” list.

November was fairly low-key. We saw one good film that we loved, one good streaming series that we enjoyed (and that we’re still watching), one bad series that we also enjoyed, and the new Jack Reacher novel came out at the end of October (which I’m still reading, as I got a late start), and I discovered awesome foodstuffs even before I could eat “for real” again toward the end of the month.

Let’s go!

 

1). Ford v Ferrari

 

 

Fabulous, entertaining flick. Matt Damon and Christian Bale have great chemistry, and if I ever doubted that either of them could act, I’m not doubting it now!

 

2). Sneaky Pete (Amazon Prime Original Series)

 

 

After passing over this Netflix Original Series for years, we finally landed on it and decided to try it. We’re almost at the end of Season 1, and we’re into it! Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is one of the crime thriller series’ co-creators, and he’s featured in it, as well. It’s interesting to see him in a role other than Walter White. I’m always a little thrown during his scenes. Aside: It’s funny how an actor becomes a character so thoroughly that they’re always that character, no matter how talented they are. In my mind, Jeff Bridges will always be The Dude. Bryan Cranston will always be Walter White.

Anyway, we’re enjoying Sneaky Pete. You might like it, too.

 

3). The Mist (Netflix)

 

 

Here’s the series that apparently everyone in the world hated except for us. I’ve read nothing even remotely positive about this badly rated series, but we really enjoyed it! Granted, I haven’t read the novel, nor have I seen the film version of the story, so I had no basis of comparison… yet there were many others new to The Mist who gave this production a thumbs-down. At any rate, we got into the story and had ourselves a good time watching the series on Netflix.

 

4). Blue Moon (new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child)

 

“Blue Moon” by Lee Child (Jack Reacher novel, 2019)

 

I’ve only just started reading Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel, but I liked it from its opening pages. I would love to get inside Lee Child’s mind to see where/how he comes up with his plot ideas. How many different sorts of adventures can one character have? Reacher lands in the middle of some shit going down every single year. I like some of the stories more than others, but I’m always impressed. REACHER FAN FOR LIFE OVER HERE.

 

5). Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes

 

These ready-made protein shakes saved me in the month following my surgery! I’d usually mix up my own, but drinking two of these a day, it was just easier to grab them from the fridge. I like both the chocolate and the vanilla, but the chocolate is my favorite!

Ingredients and nutrients in a nutshell and quoted directly from Vega’s site (“sic” all the way through):

  • 20 grams protein: each bottle has 20 grams plant-based protein from a multisource blend of pea protein, hemp protein, and pumpkin seed protein
  • Veggies & greens: with ingredients including spinach powder, kale powder, carrot juice powder, and organic spirulina
  • 25% DV of at least 11 vitamins and minerals
  • 3-4 grams fiber: Vanilla flavor has 3 grams fiber, or 12% DV, while Chocolate flavor has 4 grams fiber, or 16% DV. The fiber in both flavors comes primarily from flaxseed
  • 1 gram Omega-3 ALA: You’ll get essential fatty acids from flaxseed

 

6). Imagine Organic Miso Broth. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Imagine Organic Miso Broth

 

INGREDIENTS: Filtered Water, Organic Yellow and Red Miso Paste (Organic Whole Soybeans, Organic Rice, Sea Salt, Koji Starter [Aspergillus Oryzae]), Organic Flavors, Organic Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup, Organic Potato Starch, Yeast Extract, Organic Ginger Juice, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola Oil and/or Organic Safflower Oil and/or Organic Sunflower Oil.

This miso broth was another life-saver, the warm and savory to Vega’s cold and sweet. I love adding silken tofu to this broth. Did you know that you can eat silken tofu without chewing it? Neither did I.

 

7). Mandarin oranges.

 

Mandarins

 

Once I could eat again, I found that mandarins are great for when you can’t bite into fruit and you want to add to your selection of bite-size options. I’ve been cutting up strawberries and tossing them into a bowl with red grapes and mandarin slices to make a little bite-size fruit bowl for dessert, and it’s wonderful!

 

8). One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Oat Vanilla Chia Granola. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Oat Vanilla Chia Granola

 

INGREDIENTS: Sprouted gluten-free organic oats, organic cane sugar, sprouted organic brown rice, organic sunflower oil, organic flax seeds, sprouted organic sunflower seeds, organic chia seeds, organic vanilla, unrefined salt, tocopherols (Vitamin E).

This granola! Is so! Delicious! Enough said.

 

9). Impossible Pumpkin Pie (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie). (Vegan)

 

Impossible Pumpkin Pie, aka Crustless Pumpkin Pie (recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie)

 

WHAT I PUT INTO THIS PIE: Pumpkin puree, plain unsweetened soy milk, flaxseed meal, agave syrup, whole wheat flour, canola oil, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, baking powder

(For the exact ingredients list, see Katie’s recipe)

The whole concept of Thanksgiving is still somewhat foreign to my French husband. He never liked pumpkin pie, and he typically dislikes pumpkin anything (pumpkin is very New World and pretty much doesn’t figure in French cuisine), but he loved this pie that I made for Thanksgiving this year! I loved it, too. I made another one this morning and took the pic you see above.

This dessert is called “Impossible” because it’s a crustless pie. The flour you mix in with the other ingredients gives it a structure while it maintains the classic pumpkin pie texture. (You can see in the pic how it kind of forms its own “crust.”) I got verification of its awesomeness when one of my exacting Thanksgiving guests – a pumpkin pie purist, mind you – remarked that “it tastes just like pumpkin pie.” I suspect that if it doesn’t taste “healthy” to him, it won’t taste “healthy” to anyone.

You can use whatever sweetener you want, and Chocolate Covered Katie gives options to make the pie gluten-free and/or fat-free, so there’s a version of this simple and easy recipe for everyone. And I do mean it’s easy: you mix everything together by hand and pour it into the pie pan without having to deal with a pastry, and it’s in the oven for less than 30 minutes. Clean-up is easy, too. You need this recipe in your life if you like pumpkin pie.

 

10). Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie). (Vegan)

 

Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal, aka Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal for One (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie)

 

WHAT I PUT INTO THESE OATMEAL SQUARES: Rolled oats, plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, plain unsweetened soy milk, agave syrup, peanut butter, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, mini chocolate chips [ETA: I use Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips… they’re vegan.]

(For the exact ingredients list, see Katie’s recipe)

I wanted to eat oatmeal. I was not in the mood for oatmeal. I was tired of mushy food. I had a feeling that Chocolate Covered Katie’s The Healthy Dessert Blog would hold the answer, and it did. Put 1/2 cup of oats into a bowl, she said, and mix in these other things, and throw the whole shebang into the oven, and there you go – oatmeal that isn’t oatmeal.

Like the pie, this baked oatmeal is so simple and so good. The most difficult part is having to break it to Callaghan that the oatmeal isn’t for sharing. It’s one serving, the same serving I’d have were I to make it the traditional way. It looks like a lot because I make it in a loaf pan and cut it up into squares, but it’s really not a lot. In fact, it’s not enough.

I did tell him that I’d make him his own pan, though. No guilt!

Also, I think that Chocolate Covered Katie is my new spirit animal.

The End.

p.s. December’s already grand, because I started the month by going back to the gym!! I did my first Body Pump workout in a month yesterday.

 

 

Warm days, chilly nights, good horror. (October Favorites!)

October’s short horror posts left little room for daily-life or other content here, so all that kind of thing will pick up again henceforth. First, a look back at the little things I enjoyed in the tenth month of the year!

I bring to you a few films, a streaming T.V. series, some food items, skin care, and make-up. As usual, the food items are vegan (plant-based), and the skin care and cosmetic items are vegan (no animal ingredients) and cruelty-free (not tested on animals). I’ve also got a song/music video for you this time!

All of the viewables on this list are horrific in their unique and unexpected ways, might I add. Altogether, they amplified everything I love about October. It was a good “favorites” month, for sure.

Without further ado!

 

1). Joker

 

 

 

It’s always satisfying when a movie I’m anticipating exceeds my expectations. Joker accomplished this in brutally raw fashion. Joaquin Phoenix acted the hell out of this character, a comic book villain who didn’t seem like one, at all, because the film didn’t come across as a comic book film. Joker is a very real, very human story… a story about the making of a monster.

 

2). Parasite (Gisaengchung)

 

 

Parasite was brought to life by Bong Joon Ho, the genius behind Okja (Netflix); like Okja, Parasite is a masterpiece. It’s also scarce. If you can find this Korean film in a theater within your reach, I’d 100% approve of your decision to chase it down. Be prepared for a dramedy that gets pretty dark!

 

3). Suspiria (Amazon Prime Video)

 

 

Suspiria had been on my “to watch” list for months, so when it came to my attention that it was available on Amazon Prime Video, I wasted no time. Incidentally, this horror remake features Tilda Swinton, who was also in Okja, the brilliant film created by the guy who did Parasite (above). I’m convinced that Tilda Swinton’s otherworldly talent makes Suspiria creepier than it would be been without her, but the story’s creep-factor is solid.

 

4). Creepshow (Shudder Original Series)

 

 

I believe I’ve already raved about this Shudder Original Series somewhere in a past post. Creepshow is horror I’d characterize as good fun. Highly recommend!

 

5). Marilyn Manson’s cover of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (and official video)

 

 

Thick in this current cycle of my Marilyn Manson obsession, Manson went and dropped a cover of my favorite folk song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” I popped the video into this post so that you may appreciate the man’s cutting and creeptastic artistic vision, as well. Manson growls out the song’s darkness in glorious Manson form – he digs his own grave and buries himself alive – though the song is plenty dark on its own. (Johnny Cash’s chilling version is still my favorite. Manson’s is a close second.)

Allow me to take this minute to whine about missing Marilyn Manson’s show when he played here on Sunday night. YES – Marilyn Manson performed at the Van Buren downtown two nights ago, and where was I? NOT THERE, that’s where. Not only that, but he performed “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” which he’d dropped in conjunction with his tour. I’m dying. Anyway.

 

6). Mighty Manna Bread (Carrot Raisin). (Vegan)

 

Mighty Manna Bread in Carrot Raisin

 

INGREDIENTS: Sprouted organic wheat kernels, filtered water, organic carrots, organic raisins.

(I’ve decided to start including the ingredients of my food favorites, so you can see what you’d be putting into your body were you to eat these things.)

I’ve tried several varieties of Mighty Manna’s delicious, dense, sticky-sweet breads, but this carrot raisin one is my favorite so far. I love it for breakfast! I cut the bread into thick slabs and bake a couple of them in the toaster oven until the outside edges are slightly crisp, and then I slather them with organic almond butter.

I’m incorporating more gluten into my diet these days, but I’m choosing sprouted grains as much as possible. So far, so good.

 

7). Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread. (Vegan)

 

Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread

 

INGREDIENTS: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

I’ve cycled back around to Ezekiel bread with its yummy, wholesome sprouted grains. It’s a classic, and I’ll always love it!

 

8). Kitehill Almond Milk Cream Cheese (plain). (Vegan)

 

Kitehill Almond Milk Cream Cheese (plain)

 

 

INGREDIENTS: Almond Milk (Water, Almonds), Salt, Enzyme, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Lactic Acid, Cultures.

This almond milk cream cheese is so light and creamy!! I’ve enjoyed Kitehill’s vegan cream cheese in the past, but I don’t remember it being like this (though it was also amazing).

 

9). Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion

 

Between this product and the cosmetic item below, you’ll see what I mean when I say that I generally spend more money on skin care than I do on make-up. I love Nourish Organic’s products, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I love this face lotion.

 

10). e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer

 

I had to blink the first time I put this on and looked in the mirror; I could not believe what I was seeing. This liquid concealer seemed to effortlessly erase the dark circles under my eyes. e.l.f. continues to astound me… it’s sorcery, what they do. I’ve used pricey concealers by Urban Decay, Tarte, and NARS, and they were all good, but e.l.f.’s humble little $6.00 concealer is my holy grail of concealers. It’s PURE MAGIC.

On that note, I’ll close out this list… it’s a good and appropriate note for October.

 

 

With love from one season to the next. (August Favorites!)

Check out, if you will, my favorite little things from August! I’ve got a movie, two streaming series, one facial product, and a whole lot of food.

We’ve discovered Russian-language series, and now I want to watch every single one available. The two equally excellent projects mentioned here both feature Estonian actor Kirill Käro. You would be correct in guessing that Kirill Käro is my current favorite actor. Let’s start with a film from South Korea, though!

 

1).  Train to Busan (Original title: Busanhaeng)  – from South Korea

 

 

Someone has gone and created a brilliant film melding family drama with the zombie apocalypse. Train to Busan is great for when you can’t decide whether you want to see a drama, a thriller, or a horror movie. It’s currently on Netflix.

From the protagonist’s standpoint: When you’re bored with your routine and think it would be nice, for once, to have a day filled with family drama, high-speed thrills, and a zombie apocalypse.

[Sidenote: this film has revived my interest in preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve already gotten that endeavor underway.]

 

2).  Better Than Us (Original title: Luchshe, chem lyudi) (Netflix) – from Russia

 

 

 

When you get adopted by a robot who happens to have been made in China, shenanegans will ensue. (Kirill Käro is on the right.)

I must put in that we couldn’t help but continually marvel at the way actress Paulina Andreeva portrayed a robot. The person who trained Paulina Andreeva knew what they were doing, and Paulina Andreeva is hella talented.

 

3).  The Sniffer (Original title: Nyukhach) (Netflix) – from Ukraine

 

 

We’re only four episodes into The Sniffer. I’ve seen enough, though, to know that you’re daft if you don’t insure your nose and its superhuman power of being able to smell in such detail that you can make hefty coin as a freelance detective. This series is a dramedy with an often hilariously bumbling duo, one half being Kirill Käro’s character. (I won’t say his name anymore in this post, I promise.)

 

4). Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon Cereal. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon Cereal

 

As pumpkin-spice everything takes over the States, I indulge my love for one of those spices by sprinkling extra cinnamon onto this delicious, crunchy cinnamon cereal. My current passion for this flavor may be related to my eagerness to plow into Halloween season (aka fall), but I can see enjoying this cereal year-round.

 

5). GoMacro Macrobar Sunny Uplift Cherries + Berries. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

GoMacro Macrobar Sunny Uplift Cherries + Berries

 

August was one of those months that left me hooked on a particular food. I cannot get enough of these Cherries + Berries GoMacro bars. I’ve liked all of the GoMacro bars I’ve tried, but these? I love cherries! These bars are sweet and tart and chewy and wonderful, and they vaguely remind me of Pop Tarts.

 

6). 365 Cape Cod Trail Mix. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

365 Cape Cod Trail Mix

 

Here’s another simple one: cashews, almonds, and dried cranberries in a mix that’s altogether similar in flavor to the Cherries + Berries GoMacro bars. I’m enjoying this flavor combination of sweet and tart in a wholesome food. It tastes of both summer and fall to me. I love the transition of summer to fall.

 

7). Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas

 

These tortillas make for some seriously yummy black bean tacos, and they contain only four ingredients: organic sprouted corn, filtered water, sea salt, and lime. They’re delicious. They will make you wonder why you’d put any other ingredient into a corn tortilla.

 

8). Follow Your Heart Gluten-Free Oat Bread. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

Follow Your Heart Gluten-Free Oat Bread

 

I’ve also been enjoying this oat bread by Follow Your Heart. I pretty much only eat toasted bread when I’m at home, though, so I can’t tell you how this bread comes across when un-toasted. I should’ve thought to try it out for you! After all, texture is everything when we’re talking about gluten-free baked goods. Really good toast, though.

 

9). Food For Life Gluten-Free Brown Rice English Muffins. (Vegan and gluten-free.)

 

Food For Life Gluten-Free Brown Rice English Muffins

 

These English muffins are super dense. They’re like hockey pucks, and it would probably hurt to get hit with one. They’ve become my staple breakfast on Body Pump mornings! I split two of them apart and toast them and spread Earth Balance on two halves and peanut butter and jam on the other two halves, and they’re good. It takes a while to eat them, they’re so heavy! Awesome energy for a pre-workout meal!

 

10). Acure Brightening Facial Scrub. (Vegan and cruelty-free.)

 

Acure brightening facial scrub

 

I cannot describe to you the luxury of this exfoliating facial scrub. With its base of sea kelp and “French green clay,” it’s a green so dark, it’s almost black. A little goes a long way. The formula is thick and rough, as in large-grain grainy, so I proceed with a very light touch with added water throughout use. I massage it in circles from my forehead all the way down my neck. The luxurious part is the feeling on my skin as I rinse it off. It’s unlike anything I’ve tried! I use this scrub every night following my Earth Science Creamy Fruit Oil Cleanser (a favorite from July). I love the combination of these two products. It’s like a spa in my shower every night.

 

The End. I can’t wait to get back here with my September Favorites, because that would mean the start of Short Horror Movie October! I know that you can’t wait, either. Heheh.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

It was all too cool. (March Favorites!)

I’m back with a “monthly favorites” post, and this time it’s an actual 10-item list and also on the first blog day of the new month – just like old times! I’ve got more food on the list than anything else, along with a couple of products, one random item, and only one entertainment mention. We didn’t get to the theater at all (not to worry – Us is at the top of our list for when we do), and we watched less T.V. than usual. We caught the March Grand Sumo Highlights, but you already know how much I love Sumo. We watched a fluffy streaming series that kept us entertained, but I didn’t feel compelled to include it here.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been watching, eating, and using:

 

1). Hanna (Amazon Prime Original)

 

 

I hesitated to include this series because it just dropped, and we’ve only seen the first two episodes. It might’ve been better to put it on my April list, but I’m already so impressed that I wanted to share it now as a recommendation. Hanna is based on the 2011 film, and it brings together one of my favorite T.V. duos: Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) from The Killing.

 

2). Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes.

 

Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes

 

I ran out of facial wipes for makeup-removal, and I saw these and almost didn’t get them… they’re not the cheapest. I was looking for my usual Yes to Coconut facial wipes when my eye caught on the word “coconut” on this package. Of course, I got them. Of course, I love them. They’re refreshing and wonderful with my makeup removing products, and they don’t feel oily at all.

 

3). W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss (Berry).

 

W3LLPEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss in Berry

 

Target’s added more vegan/cruelty-free cosmetic lines to their stock! They’re killing it. I picked up this W3LLPEOPLE lip gloss in Berry, and now it’s my new favorite lip product. I love the feel of its formula, its herbal scent, the staying power of the color, and the color, itself.

 

4). Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit.

 

Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Kit

 

There’s not much to say about this salad mix except I’M HOOKED. It is chopped salad perfection. I’ve been eating this for lunch every day, removing the cranberries from the seed packet and using my own dressing (olive oil and balsamic vinegar for this one) rather than the one included.

 

5). Dried apples.

 

Dried apples

 

Dried apples: a new favorite snack that’s easy to eat while writing. No mess! They’re tart and light and lightly sweet, and the chew is satisfying and not clingy to the teeth.

 

6). Japanese sweet potatoes.

 

steamed Japanese sweet potatoes

 

Here’s another new favorite snack: these tiny sweet potatoes. I steam a whole bag all at once and keep them in the refrigerator. They’re easy to grab and eat, and they’re also mess-free since they’re cooked in water with no oil. So good!

 

7). Vega Sport Protein Bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter).

 

Vega Sport Protein Bar in Crunchy Peanut Butter

 

Vega Sport’s peanut butter crunch bar is my new favorite way to get in some post-workout protein if I can’t get home right away to make a protein shake.

 

8). Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie.

 

Munk Pack Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

 

Clearly, I’m eating more sugar these days; I was impressed with the nutrition panel on these protein cookies, so I thought I’d try them. Lenny and Larry’s, move over. Munk Pack’s protein cookies’ nutrition panel looks better, and from what I recall of L & L’s, I like these better, too. I cut them in half and store them in the freezer in individual snack bags, so I only eat half at a time (half = one serving). They’re awesome frozen! I also love the double chocolate ones. I currently have both in the freezer.

 

9). C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds.

 

C-Weed Snack Seaweed Crunch with Almonds

 

MORE SNACKS. Mom sent two bags of these seaweed snacks from Hawaii. I love seaweed in all forms. I also love almonds. This one was going to make my list without question… I mean, it was going to have to try really hard to not make the list. It’s not just not-horrible, it’s really good. If you like seaweed, you’ll want to try these!

 

10). Bat birthday card.

You guys, this was a totally random and anti-minimalism purchase. I was looking for a card for a specific person/occasion – not a birthday – and my eye snagged on this one. Bats! I read the outside, read the inside, and felt an uplifting of mirth such that there was no way my depression-challenged ass wasn’t going to bring it home. I love the art, as I said, but the card had me at the incorrect comma, weird/wrong syntax, and the awesome WTF-ness of the punchline. This card with its goofy message and birthday-hat-wearing-bats sits on my dresser and makes me giggle every day. Best four bucks spent in the month of March.

 

[studio ink another side of hallmark – art by brace]

goofy birthday bats by brace

 

The artist signed as just “Brace.” Thank you, Brace!

The End… of March.

 

 

What there was to see can now be seen. (February Favorites!)

For being the shortest month of the year, February 2019 seemed long and drawn-out. Some awesomeness came out of February, for sure! On the 10th, I added a Sunday cardio class to my workout week, so I’m finally back to five workouts per week: three days of weights, two days of cardio. The last time I was in this place was when I started Body Pump and I was still going to Monday night kickboxing. That was over two years ago! I’m determined to let nothing get in the way of this modality split. If I have to miss a class, I have to find a way to make it up. Yesterday, I found out that I’ll be out of town for a week in June, but I’ll be staying in a place with gym equipment. No excuses.

What else? Looking at my planner’s February month view, I see that I went to many appointments, most of them at the V.A. hospital, and also I went to the dentist and to the optometrist. I had no social agenda items in February at all! I met with 0 of my friends. It was a long and busy month, but it was productive and not at all unpleasant.

Oh! If you read my last post, then you know that Geronimo (our Sonoran desert tortoise) emerged from hibernation on February 28th. That automatically makes February awesome.

Onto the wonderful Little Things, then…

Three Netflix offerings we watched that I enjoyed (in the order that we watched them):

1). Velvet Buzzsaw

 

 

2). Russian Doll

 

 

3). Doctor Foster

 

 

A cosmetic item that I’m finding to be lovely:

4). Pacifica Super Powder Supernatural Eyeshadow Trio (Stone Cold Fox).

 

Pacifica Super Powder Supernatural Eyeshadow Trio in Stone Cold Fox

 

And one random little thing:

5). New glasses. New prescription, new specs. I don’t have a new-glasses selfie (yet), but I can post a pic from the company’s website and link you to the frames. They’re Prodesign Denmark Model 4729 from the Danish Heritage Collection. I got them in Tortoise… of course! They’re light and comfortable, and they weren’t on the pricier side. That’s always a plus.

 

 

 

That about does it, I would say! I hope you all enjoyed an overall good February.

 

 

i.e. stuff I eat in a week. (Food post by request!)

People love food posts, and I’m here today to honor this popular request. And I get it. I like seeing what other people are eating, too. I don’t often post food pics on instagram, but I’m making up for it now with these pics showing the stuff I’ve eaten in the last week. It’s all vegan and gluten-free and delicious.

If you’re here for it, enjoy!

(Please to pardon the weird, yellowish overhead lighting in the dinner pics.)

Dinners:

Kale salad with green onion, fresh jalapeño pepper, grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, coarsely ground black pepper, hummus (my favorite: Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus); gluten-free whole grain toast; avocado

 

Kale salad

 

Brown rice spaghetti with vegan pesto and nutritional yeast; arugula salad with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper

 

Spaghetti with pesto

 

Miso soup; brown rice, tofu with shoyu (soy sauce) and fresh grated ginger, kimchee, green salad with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and nori (seaweed)

 

Miso soup with plate of Asian randomness

 

Amy’s Rice Crust Roasted Vegetable No Cheese pizza with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes; arugula with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and coarsely ground black pepper

 

Pizza buried in arugula

 

1-Pot Vegan Minestrone Soup: navy beans, brown rice pasta, carrots, green beans, onion, garlic, kale, zucchini, vegetable broth, canned fire-roasted tomatoes; gluten-free whole grain toast (not pictured)

 

Minestrone soup

 

Get this fabulous Minimalist Baker recipe here! I modified it slightly to our tastes by using less sugar (my preference) and no red pepper flakes (Callaghan’s preference).

Quinoa salad with brown rice, chickpeas, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, coarsely ground black pepper; cold roasted sweet potato; kale sautéed in olive oil with fresh garlic

 

Quinoa-chickpea salad

 

Asian salad: Black Sesame Cold Noodles with Spring Veggies; fresh pan-fried teriyaki tofu; fresh green beans with shoyu and sesame seeds

 

Cold Asian noodles

 

Get this awesome Thug Kitchen recipe here! I modified it to use the veggies I had on hand. Rather than asparagus, I stirred in a “superblend” slaw of green cabbage, broccoli, kale, and carrots. Also, I made this with brown rice spaghetti rather than soba noodles.

Lunches:

Hummus sandwich with spinach and grape tomatoes on gluten-free whole grain toast

 

Hummus sandwich

 

Peanut butter and jelly on gluten-free whole grain toast (creamy natural peanut butter and no-sugar-added black raspberry jam)

 

Open-face PBJ

 

Chickpea “tuna” sandwich on gluten-free whole grain toast with arugula; grape tomatoes; sliced organic gala apple

 

Chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich

 

Junk version lunch! Amy’s Gluten Free Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap with Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Frontera Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa with Roasted Tomato and Garlic; sliced pickled jalapeño peppers

 

Tofu scramble burrito

 

Breakfasts:

Gym mornings: Bear Naked V’nilla Almond Granola with Silk plain, unsweetened soy milk and creamy natural peanut butter

 

Granola with peanut butter

 

Non-gym mornings: Van’s Gluten Free Original Waffles with Earth Balance buttery spread; raw, unsalted mixed nuts

 

Gluten-free waffles with mixed nuts

 

Go-to snacks and desserts every day: fresh fruit; roasted and salted nuts and sunflower seeds; protein/energy bars.

 

Go-to snacks and desserts

 

There you go! I’m hungry. Oh – that Asian noodle salad is what we’re going to eat right now; I took the pic after I made it today. It’s been chilling in the refrigerator.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

Just a little something. (January Favorites!)

I sat down to work on my January Favorites post, then realized that I don’t have enough to form an actual list. Sudden events opened a black hole that swallowed the entire month. All good things, though! January vanished in a good way, but by the end of it, I’d noted nothing for this list. January was Big Things, not Little Things.

I can tell you that we loved the Netflix series You and Hemlock Grove. The former was unique (to us) in that we hadn’t seen a thriller series of the stalker-as-protagonist variety before. The latter is a horror series we couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen yet.

 

 

 

I can also tell you that we enjoyed 15 days of Grand Sumo Highlights… the first tournament of 2019.

 

(Grand Sumo opening ceremony)

 

I developed deep feelings for The Body Shop’s Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel (vegan and cruelty-free) and Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap (vegan and gluten-free).

 

The Body Shop Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel

 

Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap

 

(I have these wraps for lunch, though. Not for breakfast.)

What else? That would be it for this first Monthly Favorites post of 2019. It’s like January 2019, itself: short and sweet!

Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

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!

 

 

November Favorites!

I love sunshine the most, but I’m fond of occasional days like today, too. It’s a moody day, damp, chilly, and gray.

We’ve reached the penumbra of Christmas, and I, for one, am actually feeling calm and ready for it. The high point of Black Friday/Cyber Week for me was scoring a space heater for my parents on a ridiculous sale at Home Depot. You know you’re a grandma at heart when your proudest consumer extravaganza moment is a space heater. It was such a good deal, and we really needed it!

Hopefully this will be the last time we’ll have to think about heating my parents’ room when they visit in the winter, since the A/C guy is coming next month to address the ventilation issue.

Anyway, let’s get right into some of my favorite Little Things from November!

 

1). Book: Past Tense (the new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child)

 

Past Tense (2018 Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child).

 

Okay, Lee Child’s 2018 Reacher might be one of my favorite Reachers ever. I just really enjoyed this novel. I found it to be deliciously taut, intriguing, and twisted, and I loved the Sumo comparison Child wrote into one of the bad guys!

Incidentally, I’m as thrilled as any Reacher fan that Lee Child is planning a Jack Reacher streaming series… and that Tom Cruise will not be cast as Reacher! It also came to my attention that Child is open to suggestions for Reacher actors! I’m going to dedicate next week Tuesday’s post to my ideas for this.

 

2). Homecoming (Amazon Prime Video)

 

 

In case you didn’t know: Amazon Prime Video released this original series called Homecoming, and it would be well worth your while to check it out if you’re into intrigue, military themes, and Julia Roberts.

 

3). Bodyguard (Netflix)

 

 

Speaking of Reacher, this guy! Richard Madden! A few of his scenes in Bodyguard made me shout “HE IS REACHER.” Not fight scenes, mind you. It was more these little, transitional moments in which the character would reply to someone, move between places, or stand and allow a certain mood to arrange his features in a Reacher-like fashion. It was about attitude and the air about him, I guess… subtle and important qualities. There’s more to Reacher than 6′,5″ and and 220 lbs. Spoiler alert for Tuesday’s TALC post: Madden didn’t make my short list of potential Reacher actors (no pun intended). Dommage.

But I wildly digress. I was going to say that the Netflix series Bodyguard is brilliant, in my opinion, and quite a ride. I’m posting this here with my highest recommendations!

 

4). Get Shorty (Netflix)

 

 

We discovered the series Get Shorty by accident, and what a pleasant, hilarious accident it was. Callaghan and I both prefer this series to the film (1995). The infuriating thing is that we know there’s a season 2 out there, but we can’t figure out how/where to watch it!! Netflix doesn’t have it yet. How’s that for a so-called first world problem? At any rate, you may love this series, too.

 

5). Sprouts Organic Creamy Peanut Butter.

 

Spouts Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

 

I don’t know how any natural (i.e. stir-it-yourself) peanut butter could differ from Laura Scudder’s Old-Fashioned creamy peanut butter, but somehow, Sprouts came up with one that does. Laura Scudder’s brand is good, but Sprouts’ is sublime. It has one ingredient: organic peanuts. Laura Scudder’s brand has peanuts and “less than 1% salt.” Close enough, right? But Sprouts’ creamy pb is easier to mix, its consistency is more indulgent, and its flavor is just perfection. Sorry, Laura Scudder’s. As long as Sprouts is making theirs, I’m never going back.

 

6). Pacific Organic Roasted Garlic Mushroom Lentil Soup.

 

Pacific Organic Roasted Garlic Mushroom Lentil Soup

 

I’ve been sick since November 6 (yes, still sick, as it turns out), so I ate a lot of soup in November. I just wanted it, you know? Most of the time, when I want soup, I’m also not in the mood to make my own. My go-to, ready-made soup is Amy’s lentil or lentil vegetable. My new favorite soup, though, is this one by Pacific. This organic roasted garlic mushroom lentil soup is divine. I don’t think I would’ve discovered it had I not gotten sick, so thank you, forces of the universe.

 

7). Pumpkin Pie Larabar.

 

Pumpkin Pie Larabar

 

Dates, cashews, apples, almonds, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. These are the ingredients mashed together to make Larabar’s pumpkin pie bars. The recipe works. These bars were perfect for November… for anytime, but especially for November. Love these!

 

8). Van’s Gluten-Free Original Waffles.

 

Van’s Gluten-Free Original Waffles

 

I discovered that Van’s gluten-free original waffles eaten hot with only butter (Earth Balance, in my case) taste like biscuits! These are wonderful. They’re crispy on the outside, and the inside melts in your mouth. Consider this post to be a Public Service Announcement.

 

9). Bigelow Green Tea Classic.

 

Bigelow Green Tea Classic

 

Another thing that happened in November as a direct result of my illness? I quit drinking coffee. That was a cold day in hell. It must have been. What happened was coffee started to upset my stomach to the point of I can’t do this anymore. Coffee’s never affected me like that! It only took two days of intense nausea and related trips to the bathroom. The first day it happened, I suspected that it was the coffee. The next day, it was obvious that it was the coffee. I started drinking green tea in the morning, instead, and now I’m hooked on early morning green tea.

 

Now for a lone product:

10). Pacifica Hot Vegan Probiotic & Spice Rehab Mask.

 

Pacifica Hot Vegan Probiotic & Spice Rehab Mask

 

I had no expectations when I picked up this daytime mask. Pacifica Hot Vegan Probiotic & Spice Rehab Mask kind of surprised me. I thought it might have a spicy sort of fragrance, but it does not. I thought that it would go on like a gel and feel like a gel, but it doesn’t… it glides over the skin, and it tightens up just a little bit. Just enough to remind you that you’re wearing it. It doesn’t dry into the aggressive, pulling second skin that many masks become the longer you wear them. I leave it on for five minutes longer than suggested, and the tightness of it doesn’t change. My skin glows after I rinse it off. I will be repurchasing this product!

So there we have it for November’s favorite Little Things. Until next time! Happy Friday Eve.

 

 

No faster month. (October Favorites!)

This post is going to go as quickly as October. Shenanigans of all flavors abound! So I’m here once again to drop my favorites (of late) in mindless entertainment, vegan junk food, and  a couple of cruelty-free products, because it’s the little things that brighten our little worlds.

To sum up, October was an awesomely creeptastic month, made even better with a bonus good house guest. There’s a lot to be said about good house guests!

Let’s get right into it.

 

1). Bad Times at the El Royale (film)

 

 

We actually found ourselves in the movie theater not zero, not once, but twice in October!

We went to see Bad Times at the El Royale, in which it’s confirmed that Jeff Bridges is more than just The Dude, Jon Hamm is more than just Don Draper, and Chris Hemsworth is more than just a pretty face. Also, Quentin Tarantino isn’t the only one who can pull off a film like this. Good times, not bad times.

 

2). Halloween (2018) (film)

 

 

We also (surprise!) went to see Halloween (2018). If I’m not mistaken, this was the first Halloween film I’ve had the pleasure of catching in a theater. Halloween is my favorite classic horror flick of the slasher variety, so this was a treat. It was like that time I saw AC/DC live after enjoying their music for three decades. At long last, it happened… and it was worth it. Little things, right?

 

3). The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

 

 

The Haunting of Hill House: not only the scariest T.V. series we’ve ever seen, but maybe the scariest anything we’ve ever seen on a screen… especially as far as the ghosts. The ghosts of Hill House aren’t cheesy. They often appear casually and without warning, so there’s little in the way of cheap jump-scares. The series is psychologically dense and gorgeous in its visual elements. With an emphasis heavy on the family drama, you sometimes forget that you’re watching a work of horror, which heightens its chilling effect. Basically, if This is Us had a horror genre sister, it would be The Haunting of Hill House.

 

4). Lore (Amazon Prime original series)

 

 

Lore is Amazon Prime’s original horror documentary series. With each episode devoted to a horrific episode in history, Lore amounts to a collection of informative creative nonfiction short stories, each compelling in its production. We’ve enjoyed season 2’s story-telling even more than season one’s. We have two episodes left to go!

 

5). MHz Choice (streaming channel).

 

 

We finished all the Engrenages available on Hulu. Knowing that there was another season (the latest), we went online and did a mad search. How and where could we watch the most recent season of one of our favorite French series? We stumbled upon MHz Choice and added it to our Roku immediately. This is a channel that offers (I believe) international series and films exclusively.

 

6). Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate).

 

Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate)

 

Another month, another favorite protein/energy bar. It seems that way, doesn’t it? As with the last few months’, the Olly bar is vegan and gluten-free. At one time not long ago it would have been too sweet for me, but thanks to last month’s Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar discovery, my taste has now gotten accustomed to the fake sweetness of such bars. I’m okay with it. I really like this bar. The Olly bar is actually a cookie, rounded and dense, with a nutritional profile that surpasses that of the KIND breakfast bars I’d listed a couple of months ago (which I still enjoy). I should also add that so far, I only like the peanut butter flavor; I tried out the chocolate coconut Olly bar and loathed it. That’s just me… to each their own.

 

7). Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative.

 

Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative

 

I’ve probably talked about this stuff before, but I rediscovered it in October, and I’m still heavy on the kick. Follow Your Heart found a way to replicate shredded fresh Parmesan cheese using plant-based ingredients, and it’s delicious. Lactose intolerant and vegan friends, rejoice!

 

8). Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy).

 

Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy)

 

This is for sure a “favorites” list repeat; I listed it the first time two years ago. The processed-all-to-hell delicacy managed to vanish shortly thereafter. I was thrilled to find it again in October, cleverly disguised in new packaging. It’s the same as it was… it’s just as delicious, just as spicy, just as vegan, and just as inedible by Callaghan (too spicy-hot for his tolerance level). More for me! Heheh.

 

9). Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes.

 

Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes

 

The thing about posting a skincare regime post is that I change up my routine frequently, so whatever I’m doing when I post about it usually isn’t exactly what I’m doing several months later. In October, I started using these cleansing wipes in the morning in lieu of washing/exfoliating my face. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped using water on my face twice a day. I haven’t noticed any adverse effects so far, and I’ve been liking the way the change has simplified my morning routine. These wipes work well for this purpose! They’re full of good stuff. My skin likes them.

 

10). e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette (Berry Bliss).

 

e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette Berry Bliss

 

The bloody kisses lip look I wore in October came from this cruelty-free and vegan palette… I layered the darkest shade over the red shade (third from the right). I love the creamy smoothness of this product. It applies easily, wears well, and feels comfortable. e.l.f. has done it again.

 

There we have it for now… we’re less than a week into November, and I already have a few favorites on deck! Spoiler alert: it’s garage gym season and it’s a sumo month and a few of my favorite MMA fighters are on next week’s UFC card. (Crossing fingers that everyone makes weight and stays on the card.) A solid combat sports month is underway. Let the good times roll, as they say.

 

The End.

I had one foot in October before the month ended, though. (September Favorites!)

I’m excited about this monthly (September) favorites list, because I’ve got some new stuff for you… “new” as in different than the usual TALC monthly favorites fare.

(Incidentally, I’m also excited to post this list because that means it’s OCTOBER, the most creeptastic month of the year.)

The list is still mostly comprised of T.V. series and movies and food, but I’m also including some short YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure.

These videos make great procrastination material. For me, it’s more than gratuitous time-suckage. It’s brain-cleansing, and it’s actually serious business: when my head’s been submerged in the worlds of my creative endeavors, it’s good to clear it out and forget that on which I’d been focused. This allows me to return to those worlds with fresh eyes. I can then see clearly what oversaturation had concealed.

My recent – and current – tool of choice for brain-cleansing is YouTube. I need simple escapism into the creative worlds of others. My favorite YouTube videos of late are short horror films and videos of this one guy fabricating sharp kitchen knives out of materials such as tin foil, underwear, and jello.

You’ll see. I’ve provided a few of the videos. You can click to watch them right here! Down the rabbit hole with you, too.

Let’s get on with it!

 

1). Searching (film)

 

 

We went to the theater to see this one. Searching is a different sort of thriller, and a different sort of film in the “found footage” genre. What the audience sees on the screen is a movie entirely shown on other screens – computer screens, phones, televisions, surveillance videos, etc. It makes for some solid and unique entertainment regardless of the film’s other merits (or lack thereof). As well, I love a good mystery/thriller.

 

2). Ozark (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

An intense, atmospheric, dark drama/thriller, this Netflix original series is a work of art about which I cannot say enough. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are superb in their roles – Bateman more than I’d ever seen him in any role, and Linney as per usual. Julia Garner’s performance confirms what we suspected when we saw her in The Americans: she’s an artist with a formidable future. Ozark wants you to binge-watch it, and it’s hard to resist if you have the luxury of time. Breaking Bad fans, here’s your fix.

 

3). American Horror Story: Apocalypse (S8) (TV – FX)

 

 

What can I say? AHS is back, and it’s more twisted than ever… and that’s already saying a lot. Thanks to its mid-September release date, October’s coming in on a delightfully disturbing note. I love it.

 

4). Horror short films (YouTube)

YouTube rabbit hole number one: short horror movies. You’ll run into all the horror movie tropes you expect: jump scares, white dresses, cheesy demons and monsters, tripping and falling while running away, doors that close and then won’t open, gratuitous gore, characters who make maddeningly stupid decisions, etc. I find, though, that these transgressions are often more forgivable in a film that’s less than 15 minutes long. Besides, thanks to their short duration, I know pretty quickly whether I should move on. If I make it through the whole thing and end up not liking it, I only wasted a few minutes of my life compared to two hours wasted during a full-length horror flick that never got better. When these short movies are good, they deliver what you want in horror. They’re tense and tightly-wound because they get straight to the point. Many of them are silent films in that there’s little to no dialogue, which can add to their creepiness. The whole spectrum of the horror genre can be found across the hundreds of these films on YouTube… and they’re free.

Two examples:

 

 

 

 

5). Luna Bar (Blueberry Bliss).

 

Luna Bar Blueberry Bliss

 

I wasn’t sure whether I’d include this bar on my list. It’s too sweet for my taste, but I really like its thin layer of blueberry jam. Moreover, after two test runs, I determined that this bar gets me through a Body Pump workout if for any reason I can’t have a normal breakfast. I guess it’s on the list because of the blueberry jam part and the instant fuel part. If you like blueberries and instant fuel, you might like these.

 

6). Nori – specifically, Kirkland Signature Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack.

 

Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack (aka nori)

 

First off, I should say that I have a cousin to thank for my return to eating nori straight out of the bag. Like all Japanese-Americans (with family rooted in Hawaii) I know, I grew up eating this stuff. Mom used to send me this Korean version from Costco, but it’d been a while as I’d turned my salty snack attention elsewhere. I’m back!

These have no nutritional value, but they don’t contain anything detrimental, either. They’re organic and devoid of chemicals. Eating this nori is like eating air. Crispy, salty, seaweedy air.

 

7). Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (plain).

 

Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative (soy, plain)

 

I cycle through yogurt phases, and I’ve been in one since September. This time, it’s this soy yogurt by Silk. I prefer the plain version because it’s the least sweet, but I often top it with granola (see below), which is sweeter. It’s a great combination, though. I love the thick creaminess of this yogurt.

 

8). Bear Naked Granola (V’nilla Almond).

 

Bear Naked Granola V’nilla Almond

 

This lightly sweetened granola is fabulous on the plain Silk soy yogurt. That’s why it’s on this list.

 

9). NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring).

 

NYX Slide On Lip Liner (Alluring)

 

Remember the NYX butter gloss lip (in Ginger Snap) on my July list? This lip liner goes perfectly with it. Just thought I’d share!

 

10). kiwami japan (YouTube channel)

Rabbit hole number two: THIS GUY. This enormously talented guy. This guy can make a knife out of anything. (If you know me, you know that I love knives.) His YouTube channel is called “kiwami japan,” and his videos are awesome, fascinating, and entertaining. I feel obliged to show you a couple of them.

 

Making a knife out of underwear:

 

Making a knife out of tin foil:

 

The End, and have fun.

 

 

So we waited. (August Favorites!)

Hello, my friends. I don’t know about you, but this week has wrung me out in pretty much every way. I’m glad to be here talking to you for the second time this week – that means it’s Thursday, aka Friday Eve, aka within sight of the decompression zone. As a writer, I work at home on and off 24/7, but the weekend is still the weekend in that I usually have nothing obligatory going on.

Are we ready for some monthly favorites now that we’ve arrived at the second week of September? This time around, I present a movie, three T.V. series (one American, two French), a breakfast bar, a pasta, and three Pacifica products (all vegan and cruelty-free).

Also, I’m including my favorite person-discovery of the month, as I did last month with Karl the Fog on Twitter. I’m thinking I want to make this a mainstay of my “favorites” lists. If I stumble upon a personality that captures my interest, why not share, right?

Okay, then… let’s get into these delightful “little things” that came to my attention in August. Some of them I may have known in the past, but if they’re just now on the list, that means I’ve really gotten into them.

Ahem…

 

1). BlackKklansman (film)

 

 

Our date nights are few and far between these days – to the point where a “movie in a movie theater at night” is a big event. (We go to the movies infrequently as it is, and we almost always prefer to go in the mornings or afternoons to catch a matinee.) Thus, it’s a huge plus if we really, actually like the movie we choose on these rare evening occasions!

We had such a date night in August, I’m happy to say. We went down to Alamo Drafthouse to watch the dramedy BlackKklansman, and we were not disappointed.

(Also, when Denzel’s son opens his mouth, he sounds almost exactly like Denzel, in my opinion. He inherited his father’s talent, too.)

You might also enjoy this film telling the true story of a black cop who, with the help of a Jewish cop, manages to join the KKK. Dramedy, as I said.

 

2). Better Call Saul (TV-14 AMC)

 

 

Better Call Saul is back for season 4, and we’re all in!

 

3). Les Témoins (Netflix)

 

 

We continue to find and plow through French T.V. series on our streaming services. Netflix International is a beautiful thing.

 

4). Engrenages (Netflix)

 

 

We’d just started watching this French series when Netflix dropped Ozark season 2. We’ll see you on the flip side, Engrenages! (You can just assume that you’ll see Ozark on my September Favorites list.) In all seriousness, though, Engrenages looks to be unfolding in promising ways.

 

5). KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar.

 

KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar

 

My fellow Americans: this breakfast bar tastes like Nutter Butter Peanut Butter cookies, and I felt that it was my duty to bring it to your attention. The bars contain more sugar than I like to eat, but I don’t eat them every day, and their macronutrient panel looks good. It’s only vegan-friendly if you’re a honey-eating vegan, though. (I’m a mostly non-honey-eating vegan. There are exceptions. Like these bars.)

 

6). Delverde Wholewheat Organic pasta.

 

 

Pasta is my favorite food. Since I discovered Delverde’s whole wheat pastas, I’ve been eating it nearly every day… that’s no exaggeration. Also, I eat more than the serving size (kind of a lot more). I will never willingly go back to any other brand of pasta if I can get my hands on this one. I’m not sure how Delverde manages to make their pastas so exceptional, especially since they contain only the same two ingredients as many pastas: 100% organic whole durum (wheat) semolina and water. However they do it, this is the pasta.

 

7). Pacifica Coconut Milk & Essential Oils Underarm Deodorant Wipes.

 

Pacifica Coconut Milk & Essential Oils Underarm Deodorant Wipes

 

You know those mornings you go to the gym and you didn’t break that much of a sweat and life happens and you don’t make it into the shower but you can wash your face and freshen up a little? Pacifica has changed the “freshen up a little” game with these underarm deodorant wipes. They’re inexplicably effective. They cleanse and refresh, and they can actually take the place of deodorant. I can’t explain it. Just try it.

 

8). Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask.

 

Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask

 

Acure DISCONTINUED my holy grail overnight mask, so in August – after I used up the last of my Wonderfluff stockpile – I went on the hunt for another one. I ended up a fan of Pacifica’s Wake Up Beautiful Mask. I say “end up” because I didn’t like it at first. I tried it, didn’t like its scent, decided it was awful, and exiled it to my box of Women’s Shelter donations. After failing to find a cruelty-free overnight mask that worked for me, I gave Pacifica’s another try. For some reason, it didn’t bother me at all the second time. I love it.

 

9). Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream.

 

Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream

 

For make-up, I’ve been wearing this wonderful preparation on my face instead of foundation. I used to only use BB creams; I don’t know what happened to that. I got away from it somehow. Now I’m back, because this one from Pacifica is amazing.

 

10). Ask a Mortician (YouTube channel).

 

Meet my favorite internet-person find of the month: mortician Caitlin Doughty, whose YouTube channel “Ask a Mortician” has become somewhat of an obsession of mine.

Be careful when you click on her videos, though… remember that what has been heard cannot be unheard. I watched her “Ask a Mortician – Worst Way to Die?” video, and I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.

Caitlin has authored several books, and she also runs The Order of the Good Death, whose website also has serious rabbit-hole potential. If you’re as fascinated with death, the macabre, and the funeral industry as I am, you’re going to love this woman. If you’re not, you may still love Caitlin and her videos. She’s awesome. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll realize that there is, in fact, a need for death-acceptance (and the re-thinking of death, in general) in western society. Did you know that there are Death Doulas? I didn’t. I’m glad that I know it now!

 

All I can say to wrap up this post is “The End.” I’m out of time over here! Have a great weekend, All.

 

 

Current skincare regimen. (Per request!)

Today, I’m honoring several recent requests for an updated skincare regimen. This is going to be quite detailed, just so you know. Pass on over it if it’s not your thing. If it is your thing or you’re otherwise interested, keep reading.

The products I use are cruelty-free (not tested on animals), and most of it is vegan. I’ve provided links to all of it,* including the collagen supplement I’ve been taking daily for the last four months. You’ll find that link in the “Notes” at the bottom.

*I hope all of the links work. My computer froze up while I was writing this; I had to re-start, etc. I’ll check them after I post and fix them if needed.

Here we go!

 

Current skincare products (August 2018)

 

Kind of extensive, right? I spend more time and money on skincare than I do on make-up. Good skincare translates to less make-up on my face, anyway, though.

Daytime routine (gym mornings)

I don’t do anything to my face before going to the gym in the morning. I don’t even wash it. I just put on sunscreen and go.

When I get home, I get in the shower and wash my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, the routine (in order):

*I apply water to my face as if it were a product.

Daytime routine (non-gym mornings)

On mornings I don’t go to the gym, I exfoliate my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Scrub Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, I do the same routine (as above).

Night routine

I take my showers at night. (If it’s a gym day, it’s my second shower of the day.) In the shower, I wash my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, the night routine:

[All of the above-mentioned products are great for both women and men]

Make-up Removal

I remove my make-up before getting into the shower at night. I use:

*I use the wipes with both the cleansing butter and the micellar water

Also pictured above, I forgot to say: the Pacifica Bali Coconut lip balm I use throughout the day, and Alba Botanica Very Emollient Maximum Body Lotion

[Products I loved but don’t use anymore because they’ve been discontinued: The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Moisturising Scrub Mask and Acure Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask]

Notes

  • I take a collagen supplement (and I believe that my skin loves it)
  • I do a facial massage in the shower as I’m cleansing my skin at night
  • To dry, I press the towel to my skin lightly rather than wiping it over my face
  • I pat on the serum (day) and the oil (night), and I apply the creams in an upward motion
  • I extend the face products to my neck and upper chest
  • I layer on the products, waiting 2-3 minutes between layers

Some of the following habits I’ve adopted for health reasons, but I believe they’re good for the skin:

  • drink water in great quantities, basically non-stop all day
  • avoid refined sugar and refined carbs (sugary sweets and beverages; white pasta, white bread, white rice, and white potatoes)
  • avoid deep-fried foods
  • avoid direct sunlight as much as possible (I have to, anyway, because of methotrexate)
  • refrain completely from smoking and drinking alcohol
  • eat fresh fruit and veggies every day
  • work out 3x/week, unless life interferes. I would like to work out at least 4x/week, but for one reason or another, I haven’t managed to hit the 4th workout on a regular basis. Ideally, I would work out 5x/week.

I think this is about as thorough as it’s going to get, my friends. Some of it may seem, to put it in the parlance of our times, “extra.” But I’m a total skincare junkie, as you may already know, and I prefer DIY skincare… I don’t go to spas or salons to have anything done.

On a final note, if you didn’t laugh when you read “in the parlance of our times,” you need to watch The Big Lebowski again. Just saying.

A skincare post wouldn’t be complete without a pic, so here’s one from yesterday… as usual, no filtering or modifying, blah blah…

 

(finally) updated “professional” profile pic (8/15/2018)

 

With that, I wish you a good weekend!

 

 

Bah Ouais. (July Favorites!)

July, then! In (sweeping) summary, I finished writing my book, we went out of town, and we spent most of our entertainment hours over the month watching French-language T.V. series – we found a few great ones on Netflix, and I’m sure we’ll find some on Hulu and Prime Video, as well. We’ve still got a few in our Netflix queue before we move on.

I should have mentioned in my last “Monthly Favorites” that I’ve changed up my format for these posts, namely in the interest of streamlining them: 1. I’m now specifying where we watched the series mentioned, 2. I’m including less in the way of commentary, and 3. for the food and products listed, I’m linking to the items and using pics from their websites (rather than taking my own… this way you can see the item clearly, packaging and all).

For the movies/series, especially, I’ll try to keep my commentary brief. I may not write anything at all. If it’s on my “Favorites” list, it’s because I enjoyed it!

[ETA: I corrected the typo of “100%” – thank you, sharp reader!]

 

1). La Forêt (Netflix series)

 

 

(Crime drama set in an appropriately dark and beautiful forest on the Belgian side of the France/Belgium Ardennes.)

 

2). La Trêve (Netflix series)

 

 

La Trêve – our favorite of the French crime drama/thriller/mystery series we’ve watched so far.

 

3). Dix Pour Cent (Netflix series)

 

 

I’m not sure why the title “Dix Pour Cent” (“10%”) got turned into “Call My Agent!” – whatever the case, this is a fun series. It makes for a good change of pace, too. It’s good to mix some humor into our dark and sinister crime dramas.

 

4). Les grandes Grandes Vacances (Netflix series)

 

 

We’re still working our way through this excellent animated series. The simplistic art of Les grandes Grandes Vacances lends the production an innocence and charm that’s perfectly fitting, but remember that WWII through the eyes of children in the (occupied) French countryside can be nothing but heartbreaking.

 

5). GoMacro Macrobar (Everlasting Joy: coconut + almond butter + chocolate chips).

 

GoMacro Macrobar (Everlasting Joy: coconut, almond butter, chocolate chips)

 

These bars! I’m totally into these. They probably contain more sugar than I’d like to be eating, but their nutritional panel looks good, overall, and I love the bar’s chewy coconut base. Supply is low wherever I find these, so I always do the courteous consumer thing and snap up what’s left. “First come, first serve,” right? I would order them online, but ordering anything with chocolate chips in the Arizona heat usually doesn’t end well. I may start ordering them online once the weather cools down.

 

6). Sprouts Organic Vegan Pesto.

 

Sprouts Basil Vegan Pesto

 

I know… I listed Trader Joe’s vegan pesto just last month. We still enjoy that one, but we’ve now discovered Sprouts’ vegan pesto, and I have to say that it’s my favorite of the favorites.

 

7). Acure Brilliantly Brightening Day Cream.

 

Acure Brilliantly Brightening Day Cream

 

I was almost-but-not-quite at the bottom of my day cream jar when the remaining product developed an odor. I used it one more day before throwing it out. Needless to say, I went looking for yet another day cream. This one by Acure seems to be good! If I enjoy it all the way to the end, I’ll re-purchase it.

 

8). The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel.

 

The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel

 

I used up the last of the Frosted Plum shower gel I’d purchased during The Body Shop’s Black Friday sale. It’d become my favorite – to me, the strongest note in its fragrance was pine, and I love the scent of pine. The Body Shop tells me that it’s unlikely they’ll bring back that particular holiday/limited edition. I had to find a replacement. I went for their Pink Grapefruit shower gel, and to my surprise and delight, it’s also redolent of pine! It could just be my nose, but I’m picking up the bitterness of the grapefruit as an evergreen bite.

 

9). Flower Beauty Sheer Up Lip Tint (Airy Orchid).

 

Flower Beauty Sheer Up Lip Tint (Airy Orchid)

 

The first thing I look for in a pigmented lip product is a cool undertone. I love this berry shade from Drew Barrymore’s cosmetics line. The lip tint is moisturizing, too… it feels good to wear.

 

10). NYX Butter Gloss (Ginger Snap).

 

NYX Butter Gloss (Ginger Snap)

 

This is a nice formula for a pigmented gloss, and the ginger snap shade is a good, neutral brown that’s just dark enough. It’s hard to find a brown without orange undertones. I like a brown with a plum undertone, but if I want to wear a brown gloss, it’s nice to have one with no undertone at all. I like the way the sheer effect of this one brings out the natural color of my lips.

Also, this shade brings back the 90’s. Love it.

 

That’s it for July! I hope you all enjoyed a great month.

 

 

 

And now we’re raining. (June Favorites!)

Just like that, we’re monsooning here in the Land of AZ. I don’t know what happened, but this time of year arrived quickly. I’m into it. I shouldn’t blink. Summer storms in the desert are magical, and our monsoon seasons seem to be getting shorter and less… just less. It’s been years since I’ve seen dumpsters rolling across the street, I’ll put it that way.

Just as quick, here’s my “favorite little things” list for June. Yes, that June. That weird and wonderful black hole of a month.

 

1). Hereditary (horror film)

 

 

2). Thor: Ragnarok AND Avengers: Infinity War (superhero films)

 

 

 

3). Goliath (Amazon Prime drama series)

 

 

Three words about this excellent original Amazon Prime dramatic series: Billy Bob Thornton. Also, William Hurt as Billy Bob’s nemesis. If you love a good legal/suspense drama and you’ve been looking for an excuse to sign up for a Prime free trial, this is it.

 

4). La Casa de Papel, aka Money Heist (Netflix crime thriller series)

 

 

5). Fresh Off the Boat (comedy series)

 

 

Blackish being on hiatus had us antsy for a good comedy. We love Ali Wong and knew of her creative involvement with Fresh Off the Boat, so we thought we’d check it out. It’s now our second-favorite comedy series. We watch it on Hulu.

 

6). Karl the Fog (twitter account)

 

 

San Francisco isn’t one of my favorite cities, but I’ve always loved the fog in the Bay Area. It turns out that the fog is witty and he has a name and a Twitter account.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil pesto.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

8). Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing.

 

Trader Joe’s

 

9). Peaches, nectarines, plums.

 

Summer fruit

 

10). e.l.f. Velvet Touch Eyeshadow Palette (Island Breeze) – CRUELTY FREE AND VEGAN.

 

e.l.f.

 

I’m enjoying this e.l.f. eyeshadow. You swipe it on with your finger… no brush necessary! It’s more like a cream than a powder, and I love the colors in the Island Breeze version.

 

That takes care of it for June… sorry to be a little late this time!

Escapism + Food + Skincare = (April Favorites!)

First: We didn’t see any movies in April, but we found a couple of Netflix series that we thought were pretty great.

Second: I’m always talking about my efforts to avoid processed foods, yet every month I come to you with a list of the processed foods I ate all the previous month. I don’t even know what to say about this hypocrisy of mine, except that I’m still cognizant of eating a lot of whole foods, too, and I’m also trying to minimize the chemicals and other b.s. you often find in the ingredients lists of many processed foods. There are “healthy” processed foods out there. I don’t mind taking the time to search for them.

Without further ado, let’s talk about some of the awesome Little Things I found in April.

 

1). The Five (Netflix series)

Despite O-T Fagbenle’s minimal screentime in The Handmaid’s Tale (S1), we recognized him immediately when we started The Five. His starring role in this well-paced, artsy British mystery series showcases his talent. Based on his performance here, I’m pretty confident that we’ll get to see more of this actor in the near future.

 

 

2). Hotel Bon Séjour (Netflix series)

We’re two episodes away from finishing this Belgian (or Dutch… it’s unclear, as it straddles Belgium and the Netherlands) crime drama. It had me at the opening credits. This one is a stunner and a must-watch if you enjoy the genre! Tip: watch it in its original Flemish and enjoy the subtitles.

 

 

3). Quaker Select Starts Organic Instant Oatmeal.

I’ve been breakfasting on this oatmeal as of late. I went through an oatmeal phase about 10 years ago, and now that I’m in the mood for it again, I’m loving it. Oatmeal is funny… if I’m not in the mood for it, I can’t get into it. When I am in the mood for it, I love it. I make this oatmeal with water and add a little light agave syrup and a lot of cinnamon and call it good, because it is good.

 

Quaker Select Starts Organic Instant Oatmeal (Plain)

 

4). Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Sweet Earth Big Sur Breakfast Burrito.

How to make a satisfying approximation of a Chipotle sofritas burrito bowl in five minutes with very little fuss: zap this burrito, cut it up, put it in a bowl with some of this Trader Joe’s brown rice that you’ve already zapped, top it with fresh pico de gallo, shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa, and guacamole, and wonder why you’ve never thought of it before.

 

Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Sweet Earth Big Sur Burrito

 

5). Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma cereal.

Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma has been my go-to cereal for quite a while. My favorite way to eat it these days is dry, as something to munch on when I want a little sweet, but I’m not really hungry. This cereal is as close as I get to eating sugary sweets. For me, it’s just sweet enough. If you’re used to eating sugar, you might find it less than satisfying. Either way, it’s pretty benign for being a processed food… any six-year-old can read and comprehend all six ingredients on the list.

 

Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma cereal

 

6). Skinny Pop Popcorn.

I’ve cycled in and out of Skinny Pop phases for years, too. It’s currently saving the day when I’m craving salt, but I have no appetite. It’s like eating salty, corn-flavored air. What could be better for nausea?

 

Skinny Pop popcorn

 

7). POW Red Lentil Power Protein (rotini) Pasta.

Ingredients: organic red lentil flour, organic quinoa flour. That’s it.

I tried this pasta in my mission to maximize the nutritional density of the processed foods that I eat. I’m not going to lie and say that this pasta is “good” pasta, because to me, it’s not. Reasons why I don’t really care for it in and of itself: its vaguely unpleasant taste when sampled plain. Its texture that’s never “right.” However, it is good and satisfying when I mix it with my standard pasta sauce (organic tomato-basil jarred pasta sauce, nutritional yeast flakes, olive oil, sea salt, oregano, and crushed red pepper). I make the sauce spicy and thick (lots of the nootch), and I don’t even think of the red lentil pasta as pasta. It’s just good. Really good.

As for the pasta’s nutritional density: 14g protein, 7g fiber, 35g carbs, 1g sugar, 1g fat, 25% iron. POW, indeed.

 

POW red lentil rotini pasta

 

8). Perrier Sparkling Water.

I’ve been drinking Perrier for years. What can I say about it now other than it’s even better these days because it combats my nausea? Nothing. In the last month, it’s gone from good to wonderful.

 

Perrier

 

9). Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum.

I’m not thrilled about the scent of this product, but that aspect is easy to disregard because I love the lotion, itself. This is what you want a hardcore body lotion to be: thick, moisturizing, and non-greasy. Besides, the scent is very light, and it disappears quickly. (Where I got it: Target)

 

alba botanica very emollient body lotion maximum

 

10). Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum.

This is like a lighter, dryer version of the Oils of Life facial oil (The Body Shop) that I use at night. It’s fabulous, and I love its light, citrusy scent for daytime use. I put this on first, then layer on eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Like the lotion above, I will be re-purchasing this product! (Where I got it: Target)

 

Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum

 

The end… I think I finally succeeded in keeping the text to a minimum in this Monthly Favorites post! Happy Tuesday and month of May, everyone.

 

Getting personal: autoimmune disease. (Sjögren’s syndrome)

Though I’ve mentioned it in recent posts, my current medical situation has been a big enough part of my life that it warrants a post of its own, I guess, for anyone who might be interested. I’ve spent most of my adult life dealing with autoimmunity, working around various symptoms until receiving my diagnoses with Sjögren’s syndrome and autoimmune thyroiditis (hypothyroidism). I used to write about my Sjögren’s syndrome a lot. I haven’t written about it at length in years.

I felt fine when I left the country in 2011 and stopped taking my medication (hydroxichloroquine – Plaquenil, in my case), and I assumed that I was in remission. A few years later, I came back to the Land of AZ and went to my optometrist for a routine vision check. He informed me that as far as my eyes were concerned, I never went into remission. (Telling myself that I was in remission sure helped me to feel like I was in remission, though!)

Musculoskeletal symptoms started up again toward the end of 2016, along with worsening “brain fog.” I’d entered an autoimmune disease “flare,” and it left no room for denial. Weird things started to happen, as they do with autoimmunity. When the middle of one finger turned blue one night (“Idiopathic Blue Finger,” diagnosed the E.R. doctor – not Raynaud’s, which I also have), I returned to the rheumatologist, who put me back on hydroxichloroquine (again, Plaquenil). I shrugged my shoulders and pressed forward. I had a rough draft to finish! It was the thing that was causing my stress, but it had to get done.

Toward the end of 2017, my immune system went into overdrive again, even as I diligently took my daily dose of hydroxichloroquine.

2018’s been more difficult, yet. The last three months have revolved around some of the most painful attacks on my joints I can remember, some of it incapacitating. My agenda jammed up with medical appointments and testing of various sorts, as my rheumatologist wanted to rule out the development of other autoimmune disorders before deciding on our next course of action. Let me just say that my rheumatologist at the Phoenix V.A. has been the best I’ve ever had! She’s fantastic. Autoimmunity is something that can gather steam with time and generate additional disorders, so it’s good to re-check everything when things go awry.

Genetics likely play a role here, by the way, and I think I know the source of mine: when we met, my bio-mom told me that I physically take after my father’s mother’s family (the Ashcrofts, in England). I would love to meet them and find out who’s had what autoimmune disease. I’m assuming there’d be something to learn.

It’s pretty easy for me to dismiss my symptoms. I’ve had dry eyes for so long that I forget that it’s a part of my disease. A lot of people have dry eye syndrome without having Sjögren’s. It’s “my normal” to be unable to open my eyes in the morning until I put in artificial tears. (I might have stopped taking the hydroxichloroquine when I moved to France, but I’ve never stopped with the eye drops.) Since I push myself in the gym, it’s easy to assign blame to my workouts when I experience bouts of musculoskeletal pain. I focus when I work out. I don’t consider that I’m dealing with Sjögren’s symptoms. I don’t want to go there in my mind.

I don’t feel sick, for the most part. There’s a general malaise sometimes. My energy levels are mostly good, but fatigue sets in more quickly during my workouts now, and I can feel that it’s Sjögren’s-level fatigue. I have occasional abdominal pain and nausea. The brain fog has led me into some embarrassing conversational exchanges. All of this is minor enough.

Since 2016, my white blood cells have mainly attacked my joints and my eyes. My vision in my right eye has worsened slightly over the course of a year, and there’s more scarring on my corneas. My optometrist applied a temporary contact lens bandage to the cornea of my right eye (the more affected one, the one that hurts) and sent me to a corneal specialist.

My last musculoskeletal attack started at a party a week ago Saturday. In typical autoimmune fashion, it struck all of a sudden and out of nowhere. My left hand seized up with intense pain, starting at the large joints on the outside of the hand and radiating inward. For the rest of the night and into the next day, I couldn’t open or close that hand all the way. It swelled up a little bit and changed colors, and it felt like a mild constriction was happening. It was excruciating. Thankfully, the episode lasted less than 24 hours. Some of my recent attacks have lasted for almost two weeks.

I’m grateful that so far, Sjögren’s syndrome has left my internal organs alone.

Meanwhile, my plant-based lifestyle helps me to function at a physically high level with Sjögren’s syndrome.  I’m trying to keep processed foods to a minimum. I’m trying to get more sleep. I’m continuing to drink water all day long, including water spiked with organic, raw apple cider vinegar. I really believe in that stuff!

Now that my test results have come back, my rheumatologist is adding methotrexate to my hydroxichloroquine. On the alternative side and courtesy of my amazing parents, I’m also adding Manuka honey (Comvita brand, from New Zealand) and Ukon (tumeric) to my daily supplement cocktail. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting life to continue as it is, with good days (as in, I can go to the gym) and bad days (as in, I can’t go to the gym). No, it’s not all or nothing – there are days that are bad because I’m in pain, but I can still do something, so I go to work out and I do whatever I can.

I went to the gym this morning. I took this selfie about an hour ago, in the late afternoon. I’m still feeling fine.

 

Autoimmune, don’t care. Today is a good day.

 

With my new treatment plan, I hope to see the end of this flare. The attacks on my joints should stop. My head should clear up so I can remember things like, say, the first thing about a prominent politician, and that a person who’s ridden in my car on many an occasion does, indeed, know what my car looks like, and that a friend’s get-together was in April, not in March. About that last: I’ve never missed an occasion by a whole month before. It just happened, and it sucks, because the friend who invited me lives out of town, and it might be years before I can see her again… not to mention, I’d accepted her invitation. I accepted, and I didn’t show up, and I regret that very much.

That’s the story. I know that many of you also live with chronic illness. HUGS to you all. Let’s keeping fighting the good fight!

 

Insert snazzy title here. (March Favorites!)

Hello, and welcome to the “Little Things” I enjoyed in March. Since I’m again later than I’d wanted to be with this post, I’m offering a streamlined version of Monthly Favorites… meaning, with no further ado…

 

1). Jessica Jones (T.V. series, Netflix)

 

 

Jessica Jones is back for season 2 (Netflix), and Callaghan and I both like this season even better than the first. The writers infused the story with deeper intrigue, along with emphasis on character development. The effort left us with tantalizing fodder for speculation… we have a million questions, ideas, and theories regarding what will unfold in season three. It’s going to be a long wait!

 

2). Tabula Rasa (T.V. series, Netflix)

 

 

This series from Belgium is simply stunning. If you like horror/thrillers such as The Sixth Sense and Fatal Attraction, there’s a strong chance that you’ll like Tabula Rasa. As always, we watched it in its original language (Flemish), which I recommend. Honestly, this series was creepier to me than most horror movies I’ve seen. There was an effective wink or two at The Ring, I might add! Loved this series.

 

3). The Americans (T.V. series)

 

 

March brought season 6 of my favorite series, FX’s Cold War drama/thriller The Americans. Sadly, it’s its last. We’re looking forward to seeing how things wind up for the hottest pair of fictional deep-cover Soviet agents ever to pose as ordinary Americans. (Hyperbole totally deserved, in my opinion.) We’ll have to get our Washington D.C. Russian spy fix elsewhere on T.V. after this. Oh, wait….

 

4). The Good Fight (T.V. series)

 

 

Thus begins another excellent second season… The Good Fight continues. Its characters roll with the proverbial punches, as hard-boiled Chicago lawyers do. We hated to see the end of The Good Wife, so it’s been satisfying to watch its spin-off carry on the madness so well. We’re here for it!

 

5). Sumo March Grand Tournament (Honbasho) and rikishi Kaisei.

 

There’s a Grand Sumo Tournament (Honbasho) in every odd month, so we got to enjoy 15 days of Sumo in March. The Honbasho isn’t an organization, but it is to Sumo what a UFC card is to MMA – the combat sport’s highest level of competition. This time, we set our early sights on Kaisei, the rikishi (fighter) from Brazil. We’ve always been fans, but Kaisei came out swinging this tournament and got us all hyped about the possibility of a Brazilian (go New World!) winning the Yusho to take the Emperor’s Cup. Spoiler alert: he didn’t, but he got close.

 

Let’s get into food…

6). Archer Farms raw, unsalted mixed nuts.

 

Archer Farms (Target) raw, unsalted mixed nuts

 

Contrary to what I say sometimes when I’m waxing enthusiastic about nuts being great carriers for salt, I do cycle through periods of eating lots of raw, unsalted nuts. I do enjoy them! For weeks now – since early February, in fact – I’ve been eating a big handful of these nuts every day, usually at breakfast.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Multigrain Sourdough with Sunflower & Sesame Seeds bread.

 

Trader Joe’s multigrain sourdough bread with sunflower and sesame seeds

 

I’ve posted a couple of other brands of sourdough bread here before. Trader Joe’s multigrain sourdough with sunflower and sesame seeds is one that I always go back to. Trader Joe’s makes several varieties of their sourdough (plain, whole wheat, etc.), and they’re all good, but this multigrain version is my favorite! I’ve eaten two or three slices of this bread every day since the beginning of the year, though I’m just posting it now. It goes without saying that bread is always one of my “favorite things.”

 

8). Emmy’s Organic Vanilla Bean Coconut Cookies.

 

Emmy’s Organic Vanilla Bean Coconut Cookies

 

I’m not big on dessert-type foods anymore, but I thought I’d try these “cookies” (I wouldn’t call them that, personally) because sometimes I get a hankering for chewy-sweet coconut concoctions. These are nice. They’re slightly too sweet for me, since I’m not used to sweets anymore, so I probably won’t get these again. I did enjoy them, though.

 

9). Derma-e firming DMAE Eye Lift and Moisturizer.

 

Derma-e firming DMAE Eye Lift and Moisturizer

 

I used up my daytime eye cream and moisturizer in March, so I picked these up. I use several other Derma-e products, and they’re all fabulous. These two products follow suit. I’ll definitely repurchase these! They’re vegan and cruelty-free, of course.

 

10). The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick.

I’d jokingly said that Jessica Jones inspired me to look for new lipsticks, but that was partially true. I’d been wanting to broaden my color range out from the one color I wear. I love all three shades I got from The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipstick line, and they’re all quite moisturizing, too. I love the way these feel!

This morning, I put on #240 “Damson in Distress,” a blue-toned, medium berry shade. Later, I took a selfie to show how it looked after six hours of being out, running around, talking, eating, drinking water, chewing gum, and applying colorless lip balm. I did not reapply the lipcolor. This is how the remaining lipstick looks on my bare face (I wore no other make-up today):

 

The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 240 (Damson in Distress)

 

(As usual, there’s no filter on this selfie; this is the lipcolor exactly as the daylight captured it.)

There’s just a hint of color remaining, but I love the faint stain as much as I love the lipstick when it’s freshly applied. I’d blotted it before I left, so I didn’t start the day with a heavy layer, either. This lipstick wears well, feels great, and the colors are great. They’re vegetarian and cruelty-free.

 

That’s it! I hope you all have a great month ahead.

 

Ruthless. (February Favorites!)

I’m a little embarrassed looking at this list. For being such a short month, we sure watched a lot of T.V. in February.

Of the little things that helped to brighten our days (or distract, as it were) in February, there was one stand-out vegan junk food item, and only two non-food items: a perfume and a household cleaner, of all things. No skin care on the list this time! I haven’t run out of anything, and I’m loving everything I’m currently using. I have been testing out a product, though – actually an item – so you might see that on next month’s list. I need another month with it to get a good idea of how I like it.

Back to the aforementioned T.V. escapism-fest. We didn’t catch any fight cards in February, nor was there Sumo to watch, so that left us with more screen-time for Netflix and the like. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Of the six series listed in this post, we only binge-watched three. There’s one ongoing series, and there are two complete seasons of series we just haven’t finished yet.

On with the list, then!

 

1). Black Panther

 

 

We went out to see just one movie in February, and we did well to choose this one. Black Panther  was absolutely worth the excursion. Black Panther is awesome. Its superpowers are manyfold, but mainly it’s managed to change the superhero film game, in our opinion, delivering in big, sweeping and important ways. I would have to dedicate an entire post to this film in order to begin trying to discuss my experience with it as a movie-goer. Suffice it say that we walked away feeling like we’d watched something quite profound… not at all what you’d expect when sitting down in front of a superhero flick.

 

2). Zone Blanche (T.V. series)

 

 

This thriller series stars Suliane Brahim, a French actress whose work Callaghan admires, so we thought we’d watch the pilot one night. We went from watching the pilot to binge-watching the whole season. The story’s premise might lack in originality (Silence of the Lambs kept coming to mind), but it held our interest with its mystery. Fine writing and acting had a lot to do with that.

 

3). Babylon Berlin (T.V. series)

 

 

Babylon Berlin is another intriguing and well-wrought foreign-language thriller series – this one’s German (we always watch in the original language with subtitles). We’re enjoying it, but we’re taking it one episode at a time, every few days or so. We’re finding this series to be a hefty bite; you don’t escape into mindless entertainment with this one. You escape by getting drawn into a dark and complex web of we’re not even sure what, at this point.

 

4). The End of the F*cking World (T.V. series)

 

 

Here’s one series we did binge-watch. The End of the F*cking World tells a brilliantly original, neatly-paced story of the misadventures had by two teenagers. You go along for the ride fully immersed in its weirdness, then you’re struck by the sheer poetry of its ending. I was, at least. If you’re up for a dramedy, I highly recommend this one!

 

5). Everything Sucks! (T.V. series)

 

 

We started Everything Sucks! toward the end of the month, and we’re still working on it. This is another fine coming-of-age dramedy. Heavy topics are covered with a light touch, a strategy that works to soften the blows. Youth at high-school age can be uncomfortable and often plain awful, and Everything Sucks! doesn’t let you forget that reality. I’ve done a fair amount of cringing so far, but still, I go back for more. There are a couple of stand-out young actors here whose work, alone, makes it compelling.

 

6). Imposters (T.V. series)

 

 

I’d say that Imposters is the classic escapism vehicle on this list. It’s not especially brilliant or original, but it’s entertaining enough, just light and fun. It’s one of those where you look forward to witnessing the demise of the bad guys, even though you don’t really care that much. This might make you wonder why I’ve included it on my “Favorites” list, right?! I can’t fully remember why we kept watching Imposters on consecutive nights, sometimes more than one episode per night, but watch it all the way to the end, we did. The Bumblers’ shenanigans definitely amused us. As I’d said: escapism.

 

7). Homeland (Season 7) (T.V. series)

 

 

This (7th) season of Homeland is so intense, it’s insane. It wastes no time. It grabbed us by the throat in episode 1, and it tightens with each new episode. This seventh season is my favorite so far. How could Homeland not only get better, but completely outdo itself this late in the duration of the series? The writers, that’s how.

 

Moving on to the non-entertainment “little things!”

 

8). Beanfields Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips.

 

Beanfield’s Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice chips

 

We discovered Beanfields at our neighborhood farmer’s market down the street. These chips taste as junky as you want your junk food to taste, but they offer 5g protein and 6g fiber per serving… so while they’re not exactly healthy, they do have some nutritional value. They’re vegan, of course, but you should also know that they’re gluten-free, as well; they don’t crunch in quite the same way that average chips crunch. You soon get used to this as the flavor of the chips seeps into your bloodstream where it transforms into an opioid. Kidding. Or not.

 

9). DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go.

 

DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go

 

ETA: This fragrance is vegan.

My new favorite fragrance! I found DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go on Ulta’s website and thought I’d try it. It’s available online, only. Since I was placing an order with the gift card Callaghan gave me for my birthday, it was actually a gift from him, and it worked out surprisingly well (it’s a risk, buying a fragrance without smelling it first). Callaghan loves this fragrance as much as I do. It’s light and crisp, not too sweet, and it develops well with my chemistry. On me, it has great lasting power and sillage, as well. I will be repurchasing this fragrance!

 

10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent).

 

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent)

 

I don’t know what to say about this cleaning product other than it’s more pleasant to clean when I know I’m not spraying chemicals all over the place. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner is “made with plant-derived ingredients, natural essential oils, and birch bark extract.” I use it on everything, including mirrors, and it works well! Its scent is pleasant, too, but not at all overpowering or even that noticeable.

 

That wraps it up! We’re stoked about March… it’s a Sumo month, for one thing.

Happy Tuesday, All!

First Favorites of 2018! (January Favorites)

January was interesting… it seemed to go on forever, and yet it was a great month!

Without the usual blathering, may I present some of the “little things” I enjoyed in January:

 

1). The Florida Project

 

 

You may already know how I feel about The Florida Project if you’ve read my “non-review movie review” about it. If you haven’t, and you’d like to, it’s here. We found this to be Just a wonderful film, with the best acting I’ve seen from Willem Dafoe (whose acting I’ve always enjoyed, anyway). I highly recommend it!

 

2). Sumo – January 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament (Basho)

Sumo, Japan’s national sport, is one of my favorite martial arts/combat sports to watch. There’s a Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan every other month, and we watch them all – the “Grand Sumo Highlights,” that is. There are 15 days in the tournament, and we watch each day’s Highlights (on YouTube). Some tournaments are more enjoyable than others. We didn’t much enjoy last November’s tournament, but January’s was amazing… it was probably my favorite of all the tournaments I’ve seen!

Early on in the 15-day tournament, we were impressed with the rikishi Tochinoshin – one of our favorites – when he came out looking like he’d been training hard. We rooted for him to win the championship (Emperor’s Cup), and win it, he did!

For those who don’t know, this is Tochinoshin, the first European to win a Grand Sumo Championship since 1972!!

 

Tochinoshin receiving the Emperor’s Cup (January 2018)

 

Tochinoshin is Georgian. His actual name is Levan Gorgadze.

 

Tochinoshin (January 2018 Grand Champion)

 

 

3). Glitch (T.V. series)

 

 

Thanks to Netflix, we have access to all kinds of wonderful international T.V. series, and this is the latest we’ve started. Glitch comes from Australia with a great cast and an intriguing sci-fi mystery storyline. There are two seasons so far, and we just started the second.

 

On to food…

 

4). Cherry Pie Larabars.

 

Cherry Pie Larabar

 

This is getting predictable, I know. I still enjoy those apple pie Larabars – and all the other ones I’ve written about – but cherry pie Larabars are my favorite-favorite so far. They’re tart and just barely sweet enough to be sweet, if that makes sense. I love cherries, but these bars taste more like cranberries to me. They remind me of this cranberry quick bread recipe someone in my family used to make at Christmas. Very festive, Larabar.

Cherry pie Larabars have three ingredients: dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries.

 

5). Lifelight meatless pastas (esp. Wild Mushroom Ravioli).

 

Lightlife meatless pasta (esp. wild mushroom ravioli)

 

This month’s favorite processed vegan food discovery award goes to Lightlife for their frozen meatless pastas. My favorite is the wild mushroom ravioli… so flavorful and hearty!

 

6). Baby sweet potatoes.

 

Mini sweet potatoes

 

We found that mini sweet potatoes come out creamy – buttery, even – and delicious after 20 minutes in the steamer. They’re a treat hot or cold!

 

7). Coconut yogurt bowl with berries and seeds.

 

Coconut yogurt with berries, hemp seeds, and chia seeds

 

You may have seen this on Instagram when I posted it recently. I’ve been enjoying plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt with a little bit of light agave nectar, hemp seeds and chia seeds (a heaping tablespoon of each), and whatever berries we have on hand. It’s so tasty and satisfying!

 

Products…

 

8). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil.

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing facial oil

 

Being that I’m a skin care junkie and a devotee of The Body Shop, I went a little crazy when said establishment had their Black Friday sale a few months ago. I stocked up on some favorites, and I also ordered some new products to try.

I’ve been using these Oils of Life products since the middle of December, so I’ve had some time to decide how I like them. I like them a lot, as in, “I will re-purchase before I run out” a lot. The two products I use are the facial oil (above, #8), and the night cream (below, #9).

I’ve seen mixed reviews of the Oils of Life line. Many reviewers were turned off by the products’ fragrance, saying that they thought the scent was terrible, overwhelming, or both. This seemed to be the number one complaint about this line.

I don’t mind if skin care products are scented as long as I like the scent, and I love sandalwood and other woodsy, warm notes, so the Oils of Life products appeal to me even more because they’re rich with such a fragrance. Oils of Life, to me, smell like a Buddhist temple. Or like a man who smells great. (haha)

That aside, I’m very happy with the way these products work on my skin. I use the oil twice a day and the night cream at night, of course. I put the oil on first, then layer other products over it. I use an overnight mask over the night cream.

(About the pricing: this is The Body Shop, and The Body Shop isn’t drugstore cheap, but it’s not La Mer, either.)

 

9). The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream.

 

The Body Shop Oils of Life intensely revitalizing sleeping cream

 

(See above for the text!)

 

10). Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids).

 

Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus extra moisturizing hair detangler (for kids)

 

This product for towel-dried hair is just refreshing and pleasant. I found it in the kids’ hair care section at Target.

 

That’s it for January! Onward with the new year.

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!

It’s that time again. (November Favorites!)

I’m back to share some “little things” that I enjoyed or actually loved in the last month! November brought significant “big” things to appreciate, such as visiting my family and finishing the first draft of my manuscript, but as always, this list is all about the fluff in between.

We’ve got a couple of T.V. series, a horror flick, some vegan processed (junk) food, some other edibles, and, of course, a few cruelty-free skincare products.

Without further ado, may I present…

 

1). Godless (T.V. series)

 

 

This series, in my humble opinion, is rave-worthy.

Westerns aren’t my favorite genre, but I do enjoy the genre; my all-time favorite movie – Tombstone – is a western. We thought we’d give Netflix’ new western mini-series a try. Godless did not disappoint. From its quintessential sweeping vistas to its characters who are badasses merely by virtue of existing, this one captivates for the reasons fans love westerns. One aspect that sets this western apart from others, though: in this traditionally male-dominated genre, Godless is female-dominated.

Add to this the story’s extravagant application of symbolism and metaphor (also characteristic of westerns), the quality of the production, itself, and the actors’ fine performances, and we’ve got a binge-watching hazard on our hands.

 

2). The Good Doctor (T.V. series)

 

 

Truth be told, we’re just entertained enough by The Good Doctor to keep watching it. The main attraction, for me, is Norman Bates in the lead role. I’m sorry, but hapless Freddie Highmore will always be Norman in my mind. (Bates Motel remains one of our favorite series.)

Callaghan feels the same way. While watching it, we’ll say things like, “Norman will figure it out!” and “Poor Norman is going to get blamed for this,” and “FINALLY Dr. Melendez recognizes that Norman is a genius surgeon!” Also, “But does Lea know that Norman is autistic?” because we’re rooting for Norman and Lea to become “Norman and Lea,” and the two of them are continuously confused by each other’s behavior communication-wise, and, well, you can see how this hospital drama closes in on soap opera territory at times. Maybe this explains why I’m only borderline super into The Good Doctor… generally-speaking, I don’t dig soap operas. We love Freddie Highmore’s character, though. We giggle every time he sums up his assessment with his emphatic, matter-of-fact “He’s dying” or “She’s dying” (right in front of the patient), which he does in almost every episode.

That being said, it’s Norman’s (I guess I should say “Sean’s”) personal journey and challenges that intrigue us. The Good Doctor is ultimately thought-provoking and well-wrought.

 

3). As Above, So Below

 

 

I don’t have much to say about As Above, So Below except that we enjoyed it. We’re not too discriminating when it comes to horror, especially since horror is sometimes at its most entertaining when it’s cheesy, low-budget, or just plain bad. Horror’s found-footage sub-genre is usually guilty of one or all of the above. As Above, So Below is no exception. We liked this one more than most, and definitely enough that we’d see it again.

Also, we’ve walked through those catacombs beneath Paris, and let me tell you… I believe these movie people 100% when they say that As Above, So Below was filmed down there. That the story unfolds in a familiar place made it even more creepy and entertaining.

 

4). Gardein Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes.

 

Gardein Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes

 

This is Gardein’s third consecutive appearance here. This time, it’s their crabless cakes, my friends. These little tidbits of doom are delightful. I don’t think they taste like crab, which is good if you like crab cakes that don’t taste like crab, if that makes any sense. Haha!

We bought these for my parents to try, and they liked them, too. We always find ourselves looking for more, so next time we’re in the mood for these junky, processed vegan treats, we’ll get two bags. (They’re not cheap, so they are treats.) Our preferred prep method is to bake them in the conventional oven. Oh… and they’re amazing with vegan chipotle “mayo,” in our opinion!

 

5). Simply Balanced Organic Agave Nectar Light.

 

Simply Balanced Organic Light Agave Nectar

 

I ran out of coconut sugar for my coffee and had to fall back on something else until we could get to the store. That “something else” turned out to be the unobtrusive bottle of light agave nectar we’ve had in the pantry forever. Now I remember how I used to love it! This might even be the second time I’ve featured it in a “favorites” post. For me, light agave nectar serves as a great middle ground (sweeter than coconut sugar, not as sweet as Truvia). I love its light smoothness, too.

 

6). Raw unsalted mixed nuts.

 

Raw unsalted mixed nuts

 

I love salted nuts, but in November, I cycled into my raw-unsalted phase. I leave a big jar of these mixed nuts out on the kitchen counter, and I grab a handful of them at random times… often with breakfast, actually. I’ll still have the salted nuts and seeds later in the day, so yeah, I’ve been doubling down on the mixed nuts. If you count the peanut butter I eat almost every day, it’s a triple-down. I have nothing against a daily mega-dose of healthy fats, though. They’re delicious.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar.

 

Apple Pie Larabar

 

I’ve also cycled back into a Larabar phase! Lately, I’ve been enjoying this apple pie version as a spicy-sweet refined-sugar-free alternative to fall desserts. Ingredients: dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon. That’s it. Yum.

 

8, 9, 10). Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm, and Yes to Coconut Naturally Smooth Lip Balm.

 

Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm, and Naturally Smooth Lip Balm

 

Okay, I think it’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan of this entire line of products by Yes To. I’ve already talked about (and continue to use) Yes to Coconut cleansing facial wipes and Yes to Coconut moisturizer. It’s all wonderfully rich and hydrating, and I can’t say enough about it, really. If you have dry skin like I do, then you might do well to try out the Yes To Coconut line for your skincare!

 

That’s it for November! Happy Friday, friends.

Cancelled plans, but good things, too. (October Favorites!)

In October news, nothing much happened. October was the month of cancelled plans.

We wanted to catch UFC 216 (Demetrius Johnson defending his title again!) at our usual sports bar, but it didn’t work out. We’d planned to go to a Halloween party – I even had a Harry Potter costume! – but we had to cancel. That’s right. We did nothing for Halloween. The closest I came to celebrating Halloween was going to BodyPump looking a little goth. That was it.

At the same time that nothing happened, a lot did happen. We had houseguests in October, you see, for 10 days in the middle of the month… and that was what happened. In the aftermath of their visit, we were wiped out on every level. We were compelled to hibernate.

Enough said.

Let’s get on to the little things I enjoyed in October. OH, here I must insert an apology in advance: these are not great pics. I didn’t have the wherewithal to work on getting super-good shots of anything this time. So it goes.

Starting with entertainment, as usual!

 

1). A Ghost Story

 

 

You may remember the non-review movie review I wrote about A Ghost Story. If so, you know how I feel about it. We were just as happy to watch it a second time.

 

2). Mindhunter (T.V. series)

 

The excellent Mindhunter is not your average T.V. series. It’s unusual. Words that come to mind: Vintage. Stylish. Noir. Not scary. Not glamorous. This series about the beginnings of criminal profiling in the FBI’s fledgling Behavioral Science unit first struck us as a bit awkward in its delivery, but you soon realize that this is deliberate. It works. This is a period piece, after all, and this was how T.V. looked back then.

I’ve heard people say that they had to watch two or three episodes of Mindhunter before they got into it. Our experience was that we were hooked by the end of the first episode.

 

3). Stranger Things 2 (Season 2) (T.V. series)

 

 

Is it even necessary for me to say that we loved Stranger Things 2 and it was fantastic and maybe even better than Season 1 and in our humble opinion everyone should watch it? I think not. If you’re not watching Stranger Things, then I don’t know how to help you.

 

Products!

4). Physician’s Formula Super BB cream SPF 30 (in “Light”).

 

Physician’s Formula Super BB Cream

 

Did you catch the complete name of this product? The operative words are SPF 30. I wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 cream every day, so I always have it on under my make-up, but I love a make-up product that also has sun protection. Physician’s Formula BB cream’s sun protection includes zinc oxide, which I look for in a sunscreen above other active ingredients.

It so happens that this cruelty-free product not only works as an extra layer of sunscreen, but it also wears nicely as a foundation. It works for me, at least. The color match is perfect, with the right undertone and everything, and the product is long-wearing, as well. Physician’s Formula is one of the more pricey drugstore make-up brands, but it’s still drugstore… easily accessible and not outrageously expensive. I highly recommend this product if you’re looking for a new foundation.

 

5). The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel.

 

The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel

 

The Body Shop’s 2017 holiday (limited edition) line is Frosted Plum, and – surprise, surprise! – I love it. I wasn’t expecting its pronounced pine scent; I adore pine fragrance, so this was a pleasant discovery. The vaguely sweet plum scent is detectable beneath the pine. I find this fragrance to be less sweet than the other fruity fragrances I’ve tried from The Body Shop. Callaghan loves this scent, as well. (On me, that is. He doesn’t use it.)

 

Food!

6). Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

 

Wholesome organic coconut palm sugar

 

I started sweetening my coffee with this coconut palm sugar… it’s an enjoyable change from the stevia-based product I’d been using. Coconut palm sugar is less sweet and more healthy. This was a great discovery!

 

7). Organic Honeycrisp apples.

 

Organic honeycrisp apples

 

Apple season! Honeycrisp apples are my favorites at the moment. They’re ubiquitous around here (we get them from Fry’s, but we’ve seen them everywhere), and they’re so tasty and satisfying. My fruit addiction hasn’t suffered a bit with the end of summer fruits.

 

8). Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces.

 

Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces

 

I’ve been eating walnuts the way they should be eaten, in my opinion: unsalted. My preference is always to crack whole walnuts, but time is of essence, so any brand of shelled walnut meat will do. It so happens that I picked up Simple Truth brand in October.

 

9). Gardein Meatless Meatballs.

 

Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs

 

Gardein does it again with their meatless meats! We love these “meatballs” of theirs. They’re high in protein, high in flavor, and super fast and easy to prepare.

 

10). Helpful friends at the gym.

I don’t have a pic. I just wanted to note that thanks to friends like Rawn, I’ve been able to do the leg track in BodyPump with my usual weights as I rest my tennis-elbow-compromised forearm. (I’m not doing upright rows right now, or any variation thereof. I’m finding ways to modify in the back and shoulder tracks.) I wouldn’t be able to do legs without assistance in getting the heavy barbell onto my back, and I appreciate having a buddy who’s willing to take time from our quick track-change to offer this.

 

Well, that wraps it up for October. November’s list is already filling up!

What I ate on a gym day. (Full day of eating!)

Let’s talk about food! Because in my last “What I ate” post, I said I’d do a gym-day version if anyone was interested, and several of you expressed interest. (Thank you for that!)

Yesterday was a typical weight-training (BodyPump) day. I ate seven times.

Without further ado…

 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

First: (Just like last time, as it’s the same every day) Alarm. Get up. Take thyroid medication (for Hashimoto’s/autoimmune hypothyroidism) with a full glass of room-temperature water.

(Wait 30 minutes because of the thyroid med.)

 

Breakfast (pre-workout): A peanut butter sandwich: 2 slices of Dave’s Killer organic thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread with creamy natural peanut butter. Lots of peanut butter! This pic only shows one slice, since I actually took it on Wednesday before BodyCombat. I always have a full peanut butter sandwich before BodyPump, and just one slice before BodyCombat (cardio).

 

Peanut butter sandwich (the second slice of bread is invisible)

 

Post-workout: (I think of this as a second breakfast) I always have a protein shake after weight-training, and my protein powder of choice is the vanilla Vega Clean Protein. I throw a scoop into a shaker bottle, add cold water, and shake it up. Nothing fancier than that. This is my favorite protein powder… it’s not gritty in the slightest… and I enjoy it plain.

 

Protein shake

 

(By the way, I drink Xtend BCAAs during my weight-training workouts. I forgot to put that in!)

 

Lunch: Apologies for the redundancy… like last time, I had pasta for lunch. (More often than not, I have a sandwich.) Yesterday it was whole wheat thin spaghetti with almost the same sauce of olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, dry oregano, and a lot of nutritional yeast (nooch).

Instead of broccoli on the side, I had these plant-protein meatless balls… Gardein classic meatless balls. (3 meatless balls have 15g protein. I had 5.) These are delicious. You’ll see them again in my upcoming October Favorites post.

 

Pasta with meatless balls

 

I sopped up the remaining olive oil with a slice of this sourdough bread (the only white bread I’ll eat, since sourdough doesn’t wreak havoc on the metabolism the way regular white flour does)… not to mention, I love sourdough bread.

 

Sourdough bread

 

…followed by a small bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries.

 

Fresh berries

 

 

After lunch: My usual tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

 

Apple cider vinegar

 

 

Mini-meal 1: A banana. Just one!

 

Bananas

 

 

Mini-meal 2: One organic Honeycrisp apple… another thing you’ll see in my October Favorites post.

 

Honeycrisp apples

 

(I took this pic of the apples a day or two earlier because of said October Favorites post!)

 

Mini-meal 3: A small bowl of walnuts and sunflower seeds.

 

Walnuts and sunflower seeds

 

Nuts and seeds every day, gym or no gym.

 

Dinner: A huge spinach salad with tomato, mushrooms, red onion, Kalamata olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and dry oregano.

I love a big spinach salad for dinner, especially on weight-training days. Did Popeye ever motivate you to eat spinach when you were a kid? Spinach is Popeye’s trademark get-strong-to-kick-ass superfood, after all. A plant! Bluto had no chance against it. I love fresh spinach, regardless.

 

Spinach salad

 

I went on a little Popeye spree on YouTube last night and entertained myself for about 20 minutes. Here’s a quick clip:

 

 

 

Dessert: Seedless red grapes.

 

Seedless red grapes

 

 

After dinner: Another glass of apple cider vinegar water.

 

apple cidar vinegar

 

I can see lip balm smudge-marks on the rim of the glass! These pics are not the best I’ve ever taken… but they do the job.

That’s it for a typical gym-day. Oh, and as always, I drank water all day long. I can never drink enough water! I’m grateful to have it.

What I ate on Monday. (Full day of eating!)

To those of you who’ve asked to see this: here’s a full day of eating. (And to anyone else who’s interested, of course.)

May I just say that it was strange spending the whole day stalking my own food with a camera?

I chose Monday so I could track a rest day (no gym).

First:

  • Yes, I normally eat five to six times throughout the day.
  • After dinner, I don’t eat again until later the next morning (unless I’m going to the gym). I like a good fast before I start my day of noshing.
  • I love food and only eat what I enjoy.
  • Other than two cups of coffee in the morning, I only drink water.
  • I’ve cut down on processed foods, but I do eat more of it on the weekends. Even then, I try to keep it minimal and nutrient-valuable to some degree. I avoid deep-fried foods, sugary foods, and empty-calorie foods.

Before I get into the dirty details, I should add that:

  • I take meds and supplements, but the only one I’m mentioning here is my thyroid medication, because that explains why I wait 30 minutes before having coffee in the morning.
  • I drink water all day long, so I didn’t bother to include it in these pics.

Onward, then!

 

Monday, October 9, 2017

5:30am: Alarm. Get up. Take thyroid medication (for Hashimoto’s/autoimmune hypothyroidism) with a full glass of room-temperature water.

(Wait 30 minutes because of the thyroid med.)

6:00am: Coffee (Sumatra is my favorite!) with plain, unsweetened soy milk and a teaspoon of organic coconut palm sugar. (x2 – I have two cups of coffee)

9:30am: Two slices of Dave’s organic thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread, toasted and topped with creamy natural peanut butter (lots of it!), banana slices, organic hulled hemp seeds, cinnamon, and a light drizzle of organic light agave nectar. Raspberries on the side.

 

Toast with natural peanut butter, banana slices, organic hulled hemp seeds, cinnamon, and organic light agave nectar. Raspberries on the side.

 

1:10pm: Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, a sprinkle of organic hulled hemp seeds, and a lot of nutritional yeast, aka nooch. (Maybe too much nooch. My blood tests always show that my vitamin B12 is “borderline too high.” B vitamins are fat-soluble, so there’s such a thing as “too high.”) Broccoli on the side. An orange.

With pasta, I like veggies on the side. I’m not the biggest fan of veggies in my pasta.

 

(plus olive oil and sea salt)

 

Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, a sprinkle of organic hulled hemp seeds, and a lot of nutritional yeast. Broccoli on the side. An orange.

 

After lunch: A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

I’m inexplicably hooked on this. I drink it twice a day, every day, after lunch and again after dinner. It’s weird because I don’t necessarily like the way it tastes, but I love it and look forward to it. It makes no sense. I’ve been drinking it for a year now.

 

Glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

 

3:25pm: A pear.

I have fruit four or five times a day. Since I quit eating sugary sweets about a year ago, fresh fruit has become an ecstatic experience… especially the fruit I eat in the afternoon. Somehow, that one piece of fruit in the afternoon makes my whole body feel energized and alive. It’s amazing.

 

Bartlett pear

 

5:15pm: A bowl of mixed nuts and sunflower seeds (somewhere around 3/4 cup).

I also eat nuts and seeds every day. Sometimes I throw raisins in there, too, but raisins are sweet, and let’s face it… nuts and seeds are wonderful vehicles for salt. They’re also wonderful carriers of trace minerals that we need in our bodies, not to mention other nutrients, a little protein, and a lot of healthy fats.

Examples of trace minerals: magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, iron, copper, etc.

(I’ll never say “no” to raw and/or unsalted nuts and seeds either, though. I do like them. It’s just that salt is my one vice.)

Walnuts! I prefer unsalted walnuts. Anyway…

 

Mixed nuts and sunflower seeds (roasted and salted)

 

8:00pm: We’ve been eating large salads for dinner four to five times per week, and cooked meals for dinner on the remaining nights. On Monday, I made our salad with red leaf lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, thinly-sliced mushrooms, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and cracked black pepper.

I love red wine vinegar on salads, but my favorite thing these days is just to press some fresh lemon juice over the salad already drizzled with olive oil. With lemon juice, I can really taste and appreciate the flavors of the lettuces and greens.

I didn’t get a pic of the finished salad, but here’s the main ingredient:

 

Red leaf lettuce

 

8:30: Small bowl of blueberries.

 

Blueberries

 

After dinner: A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

There you have it… a smattering example of what I eat on an average weekday rest day.

Let me know if you’re interested in seeing a full day of eating on a gym day, or a full day of eating on a weekend day when I eat more processed foods!