Category: Favorites

Five Things I Loved in September

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” 
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

This month was a bit rough, ducklings. Between the news, our apartment deciding to reenact the Great Flood, and basically doing nothing but work all month, I’m frankly running behind on things that made me actively joyful. And that’s not good.

Like most, when I don’t balance my life and lifestyle well, it tends to have ripple effects that reverberate in my brain and body in unhealthy ways. I’ve become much more attune to my health this past year and am overall in a much better and healthier place in almost every aspect of my life. The downside of this is that I’m also now much more aware when things get off track. I had an uptick in anxiety this month was was CERTAINLY related to the…well…*waves hands generally at the world* but I also didn’t eat as healthy as I normally do, worked long hours when I didn’t need to, and didn’t keep to a sleep schedule. Surprise! All of these things compounded for a few weeks and I had to do the work required to get back on track to feel better.

My pleasure and frivolous fun also took a backseat this month, which probably contributed to an overall malaise. I haven’t read a novel or good nonfiction book in weeks–shame on me! I also have only seen one film, and have mostly be rewatching favorite TV shows as easy watching and self-soothing mechanisms rather than making myself focus on new series or specials. No new music, no new podcasts, and not nearly enough fun.

Basically, I’m slacking. Help me out with your recommendations for pop culture, podcasts, places to eat, or general nonsense on the internet.

That being said, here are a few of the things that did make me smile, helped me towards my goal targets, and generally made me feel good in the month of September!

 

Warehouse shirtdress

This was a cheap buy that feels more expensive than it really is…and I love it. It’s delightfully wacky and colorful and bold. For a girl who doesn’t own or wear a lot of prints, it was an out of character purchase (one I actually made a couple of months ago), but I have been delighted with it in a way that more expensive or simple pieces have not moved me in a long time. My favorite way to wear it at the moment is with a leather jacket and prim jewelry, just to keep people on their toes.

 

Mac Lipstick, in Chili

This warm, orange-y brown-y red is pitch perfect for autumn and in my quest to finish as many beauty products as I can this year, I’ve been wearing it pretty much nonstop this month to get my money’s worth. Switching up clothes and makeup for a new season can be a lot of fun, but I’ve not yet started wearing the darker berry and purple shades that I normally gravitate to in colder months and have been staying faithful to red of late. I’ve finished all the lip products in my 13 By Halloween Challenge, and so am hoping to use this sucker up by Christmas.

 

Killing Eve

Once again I’m late to the party with this, but I had to wait for the BBC to upload the whole series to finally see what all the hype was about. Two women, an intelligence officer and a psychotic assassin, become mutually obsessed with one another in an intricate game of chase. It’s a dark comedy mixed with thriller, mixed with noir and the results are so mixed that you often end up laughing at horrible things and can be a bit unsure who you’re rooting for. Sandra Oh gives a great performance, but so does Jodie Comer as the villain of the piece. I’m clearly in the headspace for strange and oddly-likeable-whilst-being-unlikeable female characters, so do throw any similar media recommendations my way in the comments.

 

Shopping Without Buying

I’ve been upfront about my past retail therapy habits, but I’ve also written extensively about how those habits are changing in positive ways. I had a hankering to go check out a bunch of seasonal beauty and makeup launches and so, on an evening where Jeff had a poker night planned with the guys, I hied myself to Selfridges’ magnificent beauty hall to look at the colors, smell the scents, and even test a few products. It was fun! And I didn’t come home with anything because while it would have been great to pick up some stuff, I didn’t need anything and didn’t justify needless purchasing. Learning to love things and enjoy them in new ways, especially ones that don’t have permanent affect on things like budgets or habits, has been a big theme this year. Speaking broadly, it’s an important life skill.

 

Hannah Louise Potton

On that note, I’ve discovered a wonderful beauty channel on YouTube where the creator is documenting a year long project in not spending. I still miss Kimberly Clark, but this thoughtful take on anti-consumerism has helped scratch an itch and keep me mindful about my own goals.

Five Things I Loved in August

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” 
― Sylvia Plath

Another month down and it’s time to share a few things I loved this month. This August was heavy on the video front when it comes to pop culture, from stand along shows to absolutely brilliant series, to thoughtful content creators. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not reading as much as previous months, but I am nearly caught up on podcasts, which is truly saying something!

I’m surprised at the mix of dark and light topics this month, and also at the overtly feminine and female topics that have grabbed my attention. From pop culture to personal stories, I was clearly all over the place, but there are a few narrative similarities if one wants to dig into my psyche a bit.

What have you loved or discovered this month? Share your favorite stuff in the comments; I’m curious as always.

 

Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby

I finally got around to watching this Netflix “comedy” special, and it’s just as powerful as people said it was. It’s less comedy than it is a cry for help and a battle cry at the same time by a brilliant woman who Has Had Enough. In her monologue, Hannah Gadsby debates breaking up with comedy for her own growth and mental health and takes an unexpected turn about halfway through her set, choosing to tell her truth with radical honesty. It’s not a happy story, but it feels deeply, deeply important in the current cultural moment as we grapple with identity and divisions and what knits us all together. And she’s also very funny! Definitely give this one an hour of your time if you haven’t yet, you will be moved.

 

Old school, cheap market bag

It’s a bit embarrassing how much of a good £5 well spent this was, but I picked up a French style, woven string market bag at a vintage shop simply because I thought it would be an easier thing to carry around in my work bag and use to do smaller shopping trips several times a week. And do you know what? I was right! Because both Jeff and I have had rougher work schedules lately, we have only been able to do big shopping trips at the weekend. This means we are likely to run out of stuff mid week and resort to other, less frugal eating choices when laziness rears its ugly head. Having something relatively small and weightless, and more expandable than your average mass marketed tote, has been ridiculously useful. It’s such a weird pick for something to love for the month, but I really do.

 

Sharp Objects, HBO

Guys, this show is dark. Unbelievably dark. It’s also incredibly well-crafted, superbly acted, gorgeously shot, and almost ridiculously well-edited. It’s almost absurd how good it is. This is a limited series from HBO, adapted from Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. She’s the dark and twisty mind that brought us Gone Girl and her preferred themes of toxic relationships, the dark side of the female experience, and the damage people can do to one another and themselves are on full display. I imagine watching this may be a gendered experience because there are certain lines and shots that absolutely knock me sideways and don’t quite land on Jeff in the same way, but he’s equally obsessed. This is a show about female rage, female generational violence, female evil–it leans into tropes and stereotypes and then twists them, or takes them to dark conclusions. Mother love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the societal pressures to look pretty and not be a bother can be lethal, and pristine packaging can hide some pretty devastating rot.

Amy Adams does some of her best acting in the role of a journalist who returns to her hometown to cover the murder of two young girls. As she investigates, her backstory is revealed through masterful editing cuts that flit back and forth from the present to the past and weaves the narrative together and a deliberately haunting way. I personally find many aspects of the story deeply triggering and difficult to watch, but it’s so amazingly done that I can’t stop watching. I wish that limited series were more popular in the US as a medium; when they are well done, they can be film masterpieces in their own right. Hopefully this project inspires more in the future.

 

Rosehip, Bite Beauty

I’m still working on using up my goal lipsticks this summer, so this month Rosehip by Bite got a lot of love in aid of that target. But it’s also a beautiful, bright coral shade that’s perfect for hot weather and wears beautifully on the lips. At time of writing this is set to be the third Bite lipstick I finish off this year and were it not for the fact that I need to use up even more before I’m allowed repurchase (plus the fact that I’m now on austerity shopping measures), I’d buy another one of this shade in a heartbeat. [ETA, I finished it!]

 

Audrey a la Mode

I’m not sure how I discovered this YouTuber but I have really been enjoying her video and blog content. While we don’t have exactly the same style, she has such a lovely aesthetic and is clearly so thoughtful about the kind of writing and filming she does in her own instantly recognizable way. She blogs on overlapping style interests of mine, including second hand and vintage shopping, slow fashion, and thoughtful consumerism.

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.