Category: Favorites

Five Things I Loved in July

It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out.
– Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

It’s been another hectic month, but here is a list of the things that I discovered or enjoyed in July that might just be worth your time or attention!

 

Explained, by Vox and Netflix

I enjoy a lot of the Vox Media podcasts, including Today Explained where each weekday the hosts spend about half an hour diving into a particular topic or issue. It’s miles better than the short sound bites most TV news is based around these days. In partnership with Netflix, they launched a new film series called Explained which takes the same premise but via video. It’s well worth a watch! Topics include the sport of Cricket, the interbang punctuation mark, and K-pop. Go on, get educated.

 

Caliphate, by the New York Times

Rukmini Callimachi is an extrodinary journalist and it’s largely due to her and the sources she has cultivated over many years that the West has been able to learn as much as it has about the inner workings of ISIS. The New York Times launched a podcast earlier this year called Caliphate in which Callimachi takes listeners into not just the Islamic State, but also the process of her journalism and how she reports on the stories she covers. Each episode is utterly gripping. I made this time to listen to the whole series on catch up and ended up binging it in a single go.

 

Bite Verbenna

Yes, I may have a goal to pan this lipstick by Halloween, but I could only have worn it down to a nub already if I loved it. And I do. It’s fantastic. A significant part of the lipsticks I own are Bite Beauty for a reason, but this one has been getting a lot of extra love this month.

 

 

Trousers, by Boden

I found these emerald green trousers by Boden earlier in the year and bought them on sale, but didn’t get them properly tailored until a few weeks later. Worth every penny. I’ve worn them regularly this month and have gotten compliments every time I whipped them out of the closet. What minimalism? I don’t know her!

 

Prague

I owe you guys a whole series of posts on our trip to this city, but it was a joy to discover a new-to-me country and city this month. Whether you need a passport or not, I think a bit of summer travel or exploration does a body a world of good.

Five Things I Loved in June

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
– Russel Baker

London is currently experiencing the first of a series of projected heatwaves and it’s blazing hot outside. In other words, it’s a perfect time to talk about the things that kept me feeling and looking good in the month of June! Roll on summer!

Clinique Take the Day Off Balm Cleanser
As the weather warms up and I layer more products on my face (multiple layers of SPF throughout the day, makeup, waterproof mascara, and goodness knows sweat), I need to take a lot more off when I get home in the evening. This is a fantastic cleanser that I used for a long time, and then just never got around to replacing it as I was trying to use up other items in my bathroom cabinet. I only got around to repurchasing it at the start of the month and have been using it practically every day to take my face off. It’s a lovely cleanser that melts makeup and other products

 

Queer Eye Season Two
Everything I loved about season one, double it. Supportive, lovely, encouraging friendships are often portrayed along gender lines–women experiencing the “sisterhood” of emotional support while men are portrayed bucking one another up with toughness and stiff upper lips. Of course the spectrum of lived experience is vast, but in media and culture I think that while it has become more acceptable and even attractive for women to take on certain “masculine” traits and roles, it still isn’t nearly common enough to see men take on more traditionally “feminine” aspects (such as being nurturing and gentle). I unabashedly love the portrayal of male emotional support and friendships on this show for this reason. If more men and boys got the hype squad treatment that I experience with my female friends, we’d have a lot fewer problems in the world.

 

Radiolab presents: Gonads
Radiolab is one of the great pioneers of radio and podcasting and each episode is worth a check in. However, I really love when they dive into topics for extended projects which they have done recently on the topic of human reproduction. What are gonads? How did they evolve? What is fertility, infertility, and how are people using science to have children? What are the ethics of all these questions? It’s good scientific fun!

Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square
This long standing favorite lip pencil has done service in the wars this month and is deserving of a shoutout. Look how much of this sucker I have used up! The goal is to finish it entirely and eventually replace it once I have also used up some similar but inferior items in my makeup stash.

 

That guy I’m married to
Jeff has been absolutely working his tail off recently and still managed to give me a gorgeous birthday dinner, help plan a much needed upcoming holiday, rant with me about the troubles we see in the world, watch comedy specials with me to make ourselves feel better, and generally be a good guy all around. Happy 9 year anniversary today, love. I’m still rather fond of you.

Five Things I Loved in May

It’s May, the lusty month of May
That darling month when everyone throws self-control away
It’s time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day, one you’ll always rue
– Camelot

Another month has whizzed past us! Here are the things I loved and got me through May, share your own finds in the comments.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I confess that I have been sleeping on this show and I. Am. Sorry! It was on the long list I have of pop culture to be consumed but for various reasons I’d never gotten around to it until the minor Twitter saga this month when the show was cancelled before being optioned and picked up by another network–all within a couple of days. Obviously I had to make up for lost time by mainlining the series. It’s fantastic and the characters are a joy. Terry is a loving family man, who happens to be gorgeously jacked for both aesthetics AND humor. Charles is a nice guy whose weirdness is teased but also actively embraced, instead of being a venue of mocking and bullying. Gina is a rockstar. Amy is a type A control freak (whom I relate to on a level that left my husband howling with laughter) who is also really, really good at her job and whose ambitions are celebrated. Jake is immature but grows as a character–and also is fundamentally kind and decent in a way that most male lead characters on sitcoms are not written or allowed to be. Every character gets an arc, the running gags are legitimately hilarious, the side characters are as great as the main ones, the vibe is aggressively good willed. One of the things I absolutely adore about the show is the main romantic story between Jake and Amy which is both realistic in the sense that the characters have believable quirks and foibles, but also is healthy and loving. There is no back and forth drama about their relationship, both are supportive partners (extra shout out for how Jake’s character is written to genuinely rejoice in and encourage Amy’s success and ambitions in a way that is not in the least pandering but actually feels like how a good couple would behave), and their love story feels very…normal. We need more representations of healthy, sweet romance on TV. love this show and I will evangelize for it hard.

 

The High Low Podcast

Run by prolific British journalists (and gal pals) Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, this weekly news and pop culture podcast is a fresh and decidedly from the female perspective. The hosts review the news, recommend media–especially books and journalistic pieces, and talk about cultural happenings. According to Ms. Sykes, “Our founding mantra is that there is no shame in asking questions – but reading (a lot) can help inform you.” My kind of girl talk!

 

MM LaFleur Dresses

I’ve written about this line before, but I own four dresses from MM LaFleur and hope to get at least a couple more. I’ve been lusting after the Aditi dress in green, pictured above, but am being fiscally responsible. Damn it. Between this company and Everlane, I have built a classy and modern capsule work wardrobe that both makes me feel great and gets a lot of (work appropriate) compliments.

 

PBS Eons

If you were obsessed with dinosaurs as a child–I personally had a cardboard box time machine and a well-loved book on the subject that guided me on my time travels as a tot–this YouTube channel scratches an itch you might not have realized you had. Scientific, thorough, nerdy. Love it.

 

 

The Curated Closet, by Anuschka Rees

There are lot of books out there on personal style, many of which are unhelpful, lazy, full of tired language and phrases, and often a marketing ploy to sell more of the author’s products or services. This book is actually a thoughtful take on organization and strategic wardrobe building that I enjoyed and found helpful in reorganizing my closet. Again. Because I am Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Amy Santiago and things like organization and planning make me super excited.

 

Five Things I Loved in April

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” 
― William Shakespeare, (Sonnet XCVIII)

The year is 1/3 gone and I’m not sure how I feel about that. An awful lot has happened this month, both in the world and for me personally, and it’s time to pay homage to the things that got me through April intact.

What have you discovered or treasured this month, kittens?

 

Ugly Delicious, on Netflix
I seem to be in a food mood when it comes to media this month. I’ve been reading cookbooks and mainlining shows about cooking and baking, but Ugly Delicious has been my favorite new find by far. Hosted by Korean American chef David Chang, each episode takes a food item or concept and dives into it in interviews, travel, and conversation. One episode is all about pizza: what qualifies as pizza and who gets to claim it? Another is all about family recipes and what it means to nourish your tribe. If you’ll pardon the pun, I gulped this series down.

 

Full Coverage
I have no idea how I didn’t know about this, but a podcast all about beauty is bloody right up my street. I’ve been going through the back catalog and reveling in the girl talk about products and the beautiful stuff we put on our faces and bodies for fun.

 

Modern Mercury highlighter by Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder
My fangirl-ing over this collaboration is well documented, but now that the sun is (mostly) back, I’m amping up the wattage on my highlight game. It may not technically be eye safe, but I’ve also been wearing this on my lids on weekend days were I want to look luminous whilst doing the absolutely minimum amount of work for it.

 

Beyonce’s Coachella Performance
Did I watch the livestream? Have I watched every clip of this thing on YouTube? Have I rewatched almost every clip of this thing on YouTube about once a day since it aired? A solid hell yes, to all of the above. I have started working out again, eating healthy, and doubled down on my work output all because I genuinely believe that the Queen blessed us with a year’s worth of inspiration in two weekends.

 

Vintage pearl earrings
I’ve got a post on my recent shopping habits coming tomorrow–there’s a twist!–and these beauties feature. You’ll know more about why they stand out when the posts drops, but the story behind these babies is that for about a year I’ve been lusting after a pair of giant pearl earrings that are something between these Celine ones and something that would appear in a Vermeer painting. I found a vintage pair from a French seller that I had to sit on for reasons that will become more apparent tomorrow, but I also decided to play the waiting game to see if I could get them on sale or at a reduced price. I hit the jackpot this month and have been wearing them as often as I can.

Five Things I Loved in March

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

It’s been another work filled month and I’ve not been able to do the kinds of writing and blogging that I wanted to, but it’s also been a very nice month. Jeff closed down busy season (also known as Accountancy Widow Season in our household) and is therefore back in the land of the living, the weather is inching its way towards spring, and things are generally in a good place at the moment. We do need a holiday, however!

Here’s a few of the nice things I discovered in March; share your monthly faves in the comments below!

Hamilton
I bought these tickets almost a calendar year ago and it was absolutely worth the wait to see this show live at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It’s been too long since we made theatre and music a priority and it was a joy to be back in the cheap seats of a packed London theatre enjoying the hell out of a good show!

 

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
My favorite book this month was a nonfiction read about the cycles of natural extinction over planetary history…and how an upstart ape species out of Africa has impacted those cycles. Some catastrophes bubble up from beneath the earth’s crust, some fall from the stars, both of those are down to geological and cosmic chance–but an increasing pace of extinction right now has one common theme: us.

 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette
An old favorite but a good one and I’m getting a lot of use out of it this month. It’s my my almost exclusive go to make up product in my ongoing effort to use up items I already own this year. This is an old shot because I’ve fully panned two eyeshadows now, am milimeters away from finishing a third, and am gunning for two more shades entirely. For those as obsessed with makeup pans as me, Reddit is here for you.

 

Queer Eye
I have thought a lot about this show this month and decided it is an active force for good and light in the world that needs it terribly. This Netflix reboot is a joy. Much like the original show, the idea is that a team of experts work to help individuals raise their style, confidence, and lifestyle game. Each episode features a totally different man with a different story trying to embrace a bit of a positive lifestyle change: some are dads needing some help organizing themselves, others are single men looking to date, others are businessmen who don’t know how to look professional. The twist this time, something acknowledged in the first episode, is that society has come a long way since the first Queer Eye series and gayness is far more open and less stigmatized now. In the words of Tan France, the first show was about “tolerance,” this take is about “acceptance.” That goes for the subjects of the episode who are encouraged to think about their lives and style in terms of what feels personally good, right and helpful, rather than what’s expected by society of men. The new Fab Five deliver everything from grooming advice to pep talks with an aura of confidence and positivity that’s just plain fun and nice to watch in a really uncomplicated way. Silliness, personal bravery, camaraderie, self acceptance, style, humor, vulnerability, and confidence all rolled into one. I gulped it down. More examples of this kind of (varied) masculinity in society, please!

Bookstores
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d been in an actual, physical bookstore until I headed to Daunt’s Cheapside location for an after work indulgence. No coffee shop, no hipster lighting, just tons and tons of books. I indulged in a Penguin Classic paperback of Oscar Wilde for the sheer pleasure of it, plus a gift for a friend.

Five Things I Loved in February

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” 
― Carl Reiner

Kittens, I have failed you! This post is late, but as mentioned before, it’s because this month has really taken it out of me. We are currently dealing with the #beastfromtheeast storm battering the UK, which has iced over the city and actually stirring out of doors is dangerous, uncomfortable, and difficult. Meanwhile my stress levels are up again, alas, and my routines are still all over the place. Send help, chocolate, or podcast recommendations to get me through!

Here are the things that got me through the shortest and yet most irritating month of the year.

Lush Sleepy Body Lotion
This product actually caused something of a social media commotion when everyone and their dog began writing about how it helped them fall and stay asleep better. “What they hell,” thought I, “at this point I’ll give most anything a go,” and I purchased a tub when buying Christmas presents for my coworkers. Well, color me converted. I don’t know if it’s all voodoo or self-delusion, but I really feel this goop has actually helped me fall asleep and on nights I don’t use it it’s become harder to switch my brain off. Whether it’s just become a mental signal that it’s time to wind down, or because it’s become part of my evening routine after a hot bath (absolutely necessary given the state of the thermostat!), this stuff helps me relax.

 

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Podcasts and audiobooks are necessary components of my commute. I try to read “smart” during the week and save my trashy novels or quick reads for the weekend, but this month was not a month for serious nonfiction–I’ve had to renew my library checkouts for my latest political and scientific reads because I could not get through them! But this audiobook, narrated by the author and astrophysicist himself, was the exception. It’s a delightful short book that discusses the wonders of the cosmos in a nicely accessible way.

 

Wowder, by Glossier
Yeah, yeah, another Glossier product. I didn’t start using powder until my late 20s but like so many things beauty, it was a gamechanger. No wonder people have been wearing this stuff for centuries (exclaimed the noob)! I’d been trying to use up another pressed powder with a sheen to it…until I caught sight of myself in a mirror recently and recoiled. Apparently in the depths of winter, that “sheen” actually looked more like a “disco ball,” and I hadn’t realized because like all of the rest of us poor suckers at this time of year, I’m doing my makeup in the dark. Oops. Luckily this was a Thanksgiving present from X when she visited and I finally gave it some love this month, only to have it seriously love me back. Until the sun returns, only matte powders shall be allowed near my face.

 

It’s Been a Minute Podcast (Black Panther Interview), by NPR

Go listen to this thing, already! This is a great podcast by the same guy who helped create and launch NPR’s politics podcast, but which takes a look at news and pop culture through the lens of interviews with artists, or friendly discussions between journalists or creators. It’s also riddled with humor and is a nice alternative to the more angsty news digests out there. The episode about Black Panther in particular, featuring one of the most recent writers of a comic book run of the eponymous character, is excellent.

 

Best mates
Shout out this month to my girl squad, one of whom is rocking a new job in NYC and back to pitching writing, and the other who is working on her next novel. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I am the least impressive member of my friend group! But in spite of that, our text chains, calls, and general shenanigans have helped make February a bit less awful.

Five Things I Loved in January

You’d be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through.
-William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

I swear that time is speeding up, but we’re already at the end of the first month of 2018 so it’s time to check in with a few of the things that made me happy this month. Don’t forget to share your favorite things this month in the comments!

Shearling Slippers
My journey towards being a style granny before 40 continues apace! One of downsides of our apartment is that the window’s aren’t double glazed, meaning that we have subpar insulation. We make the frugal call to keep our apartment cooler in the winter than most other people as well, and choose to layer up clothing and use throws and blankets to keep warm when lounging rather than turning up the temperature. Meaning that my feet freeze! Also, after a day in work heels, I’ve found hardwood floors and cold tiles are not easy on my feet. Like I said, granny. My remedy has been a pair of thick shearling slippers that I pop into almost the moment I walk in the door. There are all kinds of designer or branded choices out there…skip them all. Find something sensibly priced on Amazon.co.uk the way I did and remember that the only person who’s going to see you in them are the partners or flatmates who are contractually obliged to like or tolerate you!

The Good Place
After consuming a lot of heavy media over the past few months (and that’s apart from the news!) I was desperate for something bright, funny, and light on the brain. The Good Place is a great series about four people not quite getting what they expected out of the afterlife. To say anything more than that gives way too much away, but if you’re looking for charming entertainment, I can highly recommend this comedy.

We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Annnnndddd on the other end of the spectrum… I’m finishing up this audiobook as I put this post together and it’s been a sucker punch. Coates documents the Obama years from the perspective of a black man witnessing the culmination (in his perspective) of a history of racial animus in thwarted hope and a swift swing towards backlash. Presented as a series of essays some of which were first published in The Atlantic and some unique to the book, he looks at the history of black America, his own rise as a prominent writer, and the conflicts between patriotism and contempt communities feel for their country based on their experiences. This is not a book that will make you feel comfortable, especially if you are a white American of any political persuasion at all, which is probably why a lot of people should read it.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyshadow Palette
I’ve owned this palette for months, but have been using it almost exclusively this January and have actually used up an entire shadow recently, something I’ve not managed to accomplish in a while. This is a beautiful palette if you like warm toned shades and a lot of the individual colors may look shocking in the pan, but can be very wearable day-to-day if you use them right. The beauty market is currently oversaturated with warm toned palettes and shades, but this baby was the one that really got the trend started, and for a good reason. I’ve got a goal to use up makeup this year rather than buy more, and it’s nice to start out with an empty pan!

The Indicator, by NPR
From the same people who created Planet Money (the podcast that really helped explain to a young millennial what exactly had happened to the economy around me), this is a short, daily podcast that takes one item from the day’s news–usually a number and somewhat obscure–and dives into why that fact or figure is important or significant. It’s a nice little burst of facts!