Tag: Favorites

Five Things I Loved in February

Today is the first of February, snowy, brilliant, but dripping with the sound of spring wherever the sun lies warm, and calling with the heart of spring yonder where the crows are assembling. There is spring in the talk of the chickadees outside my window, and in the cheerful bluster of a red squirrel in the hickory.
– Dallas Lore Sharp, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1908

This has been another packed month with lots of ups and downs, more so than you would think possible for the shortest month of the year! Here is a list of the things that made the highs lovely and the lows a bit more bearable, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Share your monthly favorites in the comments and help put more good things on my radar for March.

Russian Doll, Netflix

This month I have been boring/frightening anyone within earshot who will listen with my evangelization for this show. Something between Groundhog Day and Sliding Doors, this perfectly formed standalone series follows a woman who gets stuck in a loop, repeating the same day for reasons unknown. Each reboot we learn more and more about her past, her dark and twisty mind, and why this delightfully difficult and selfish person is the way that she is. And then, quite suddenly, it turns out she might not be the only one experiencing this phenomenon. The series rests of the strength of each character, even the peripheral ones (who are all blissfully weird), and how they interplay with one another. Add to this the fact that this show is so well-crafted with dark humor and plot beats that are almost suspiciously perfect in their delivery–chef’s kiss.. It’s difficult to talk about the show without giving too much away so all I can say is that if you haven’t watched it yet, you truly are missing out.

Venom lipstick, by Pat McGrath

Having finally finished my previous red lipstick (and there is nothing more self-satisfying that the holding aloft a lipstick, worn down to the very bottom of the bullet), I immediately picked up a fresh shade to work on this month. It was part of a limited edition set purchased a couple of years ago and I wanted to use it up before it goes off, but I’ve fallen in love with it in its own right. I lean towards bright, orange-ish reds by preference, but this shade by Pat McGrath is a cool-toned one that’s normally a bit out of my wheelhouse. However, I may have to rethink my position on true reds or blue-toned ones, because I feel absolutely fabulous wearing it and have been enjoying a steady stream of compliments every time I do. The formula is intensely pigmented and feels lovely on the lips. Pat McGrath is definitely a luxury brand and I have never been able to justify purchasing anything else from her line due to the shocking pricepoint, but I fully intend to use this elegant product to the very last swipe,

 

Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State and Woman Who Knows What the Hell She’s Talking About Madeleine Albright’s book gripped me last month and I read it in two sittings. First and foremost, this book is a history lesson about the 20th century and the movements that led its most horrible conflicts. Looking back on my own high school experience, I know I learned more about certain wars or tensions from this than I can remember from any class or module–but I think that is in part due to the fact that we are two decades into the 21st century now and hindsight is a lot more clear. Age and experience make Secretary Albright a formidable narrator as she has the benefit of an almost unique personal and professional vantage point. For anyone looking to draw exact parallels to the current state of Western politics, she has a few lessons from history as to how hyperbole and moral panic are unhelpful. And for those who dismiss any parallels between now and the past, she also has the titular warning: fascism is endlessly adaptable and always a threat. It make wear new clothing from time to time, but its intentions and destinations do not change and anyone who says, “This time will be different,” is a fool or a liar.

 

 

Art

We have so many prints and art pieces and all of them have been lovingly hoarded for far too long. Well no more! This month I picked up our first custom framed piece, a limited print by Charlotte Gerrard, and am already plotting which piece will get treatment next. At some point I’ll write a whole post about the shop I’m using because it’s a London gem in its own right. In the meantime, I’m absurdly pleased with my cow!

 

Style

My accountability post is short and sweet this month because this shirt was my only desire-based purchase. I have no regrets, I love it. A very bold print made wearable due to the muted tones that go with every neutral under the sun: a perfect way to marry loud and exuberant dressing with practical and sedate functionality. My sweet spot! I was happy to add this item to my rolling list of purchased items for the year.

Five Things I Loved in January

“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.” 
― Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

What an absurd month January has been. Once again, I feel as though the sheer amount of news it has contained (most of it bad) has been enough for six months in normal times, and we are the dead of winter which means it’s hard to feel particularly motivated or enthusiastic about anything. This coming from a woman who actually likes winter. And yet! There are good things out there which deserve to be shouted from the rooftops!

Here is a short list of things that made me happy this month. Share your favorite things with me in the comments and let’s beat the cold weather together.

Kate Spade Quincy Bag

This was my Christmas present from Jeff and I love it. It was a pricier purchase and gift, but I had been researching black leather bags for several months and had a very specific set of requirements. It needed to be big enough to carry all the stuff I schlep around with me on a daily basis, but still not overly large or a tote. It needed to be nice enough for work and running around the city, but “plain” enough for every day. It had to be made of nice materials but of a design and style that would wear well and I could use for literal years. I hunted for months and dismissed several subpar candidates until I found this one and even then I didn’t buy it because I was being responsible. However, as Jeff himself put it, “You’ve been talking about needing a basic black bag for months,” so we agreed it was an acceptable Christmas present. We don’t tend to buy birthday presents or anniversary gifts so Christmas is the one holiday we are okay getting nice presents for one another (he got a fancy fitness tracker). We picked it up in the States where the currency exchange is in our favor and I’m justifying it by using it every day that I’ve owned it so I am definitely already getting some good Cost Per Wear numbers.

 

Library cards

On the OTHER side of the spending spectrum, I renewed my British library card this month. I have a library card for the county in the States where I’m registered to vote and pay taxes and I use if constantly for ebooks and audio books. At any given point I have at least three books going in various formats and have usually maxed my borrowing limit. But one of my Year of Discipline goals was to catch up on some very basic life admin, which included updating the British account that I had let slide, which was registered under the wrong address, and to which I owed a late fee of £3. A very nice librarian helped me reactivate my account and kindly waved the fee, after which I immediately checked out four actual books. I’ve been consuming my digital book content for so long that I’d genuinely forgotten the pleasure of physical library books. They smell great, feel great in my hands, and the process of remembering how gosh darn nice it is wandering through shelves looking for interesting finds has been lovely. I may not have a bedside table (due to camping in our front room), but by golly my book stack is back!

 

Baths

Also free, or very nearly: baths. I made the mistake of remarking how mild a winter we have been having and Mother Nature immediately cackled and sent us several weeks of freezing weather this month to show me who was in charge. It’s been the kind of London-y, Dickensian cold that seeps into your bones and makes you feel like you will never be warm again. Enter hot water and accoutrements! Because we’ve been exercising so much more, we’ve stocked up on large bags of epsom salts to soak in. I’ve also taken advantage of various deals at Boots to buy 2 For 1 bath oils or gels. Expensive stuff may look great on your tub rim but at the end of the evening, when all you want to be is cozy when you finally slide into bed, cheap bubbles are just as nice as anything you could possibly fork money out on. Beat the winter! Wear layers, break out the nice cashmere for nights in, take baths!

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes

I used up yet another both of this extremely expensive and (alas for me) extremely effective skincare product. Good Genes is a bit of a cult product, and for good reason. It doesn’t work for everyone but those who see results from it tend to swear by it. I am a devotee. The excesses of the holiday season, plus travel, plus biting cold and winter air generally have all conspired to do an absolute number on my face. This lactic acid treatment helps exfoliate and break down gunk and debris, which helps my skin absorb other ingredients better and makes makeup look better on. However, due to EU regulations, the UK version of the product is made up of different materials in very different quantities and I’m loathe to slather something on my face that I’m not familiar with–especially at this price point! Ergo, I shall not be replacing this product for a long while (probably until I’m back in the States again on our next visit, and goodness knows when that will be) and am instead making due with similar products at much lower pricepoints in the meantime. But I must salute a product that has done good service in the wars!

 

The Dead Queens Club, by Hannah Capin

You’ve heard a lot about this lately, but one of my two best friends in all the world published her debut novel this month and I’m so damned proud of her I could cry. Not only that, but the origin story of the idea dates to one of our many long correspondence and phone gossip sessions on the subject of Tudor history. I have probably never had a prouder friend moment in my life. And while I’m obviously biased…this book is GOOD, guys. A hilarious, sly, girl-power-y retelling of Henry VIII and more importantly the women who surrounded him–and without whom he would be nothing but a failed late medieval monarch. If you love YA, or just brilliant debuts, pick it up. I promise you will not be disappointed. And I promise you that what she’s going to do next will blow your socks off. Get it here, or even better at your local bookstore!

Five Things I Loved in November

“The house was very quiet, and the fog—we are in November now—pressed against the windows like an excluded ghost.” 
― E.M. Forster, Howards End

What a month, darlings. My life has been consumed with work again, but mostly pleasantly, I’m happy to say. I’ve been incredibly busy, but I am enjoying the work a great deal. But goodness, that means this month has gone by fast! We’re looking down the barrel of a two week holiday to the States to see family and I feel woefully unprepared for it in every way. The first half of December is going to be spent frantically preparing for the second half which will be spent frantically trying to cram in as many visits as possible before frantically trying to get back home in time for the new year. The holidays may be my favorite time of year but they are far from restful!

And with all that said, here are the things that have kept me going this month.

Christmas shopping

I LOVE Christmas shopping. I love finding the perfect presents for people, wrapping them, the process of gifting them. I may be behind on my holiday shopping for friends and family, but I am throwing myself into it with gusto now that Jeff’s birthday and Thanksgiving are behind us.

 

Netflix comedy specials

Netflix has picked up the mantle of Comedy Central, and I for one am loving it. As the news had felt progressively worse and worse over the past two years, I’ve been turning to comedy and lighthearted media more than ever. Yes I may have mainlined Sharp Objects, but I also never miss an episode of The Good Place and evangelize hard for media that injects kindness, thoughtfulness, humor, and levity into the world. This month I enjoyed a bunch of stand up specials, especially ones by Trevor Noah (recommended by Jeff) and was reminded of the vital and delightful role wit and satire should play in our lives. Comedy specials also fit my life right now, when I don’t have the time or attention to really enjoy a series the way I want to, but probably have an hour or two to spare here and there. If you’ve been enjoying, share your recommendations to me in the comments! I’ve been enjoying specials by Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj, Donald Glover, Allie Wong…huh. While I in no way intended this to be lacking in white dudes, that is definitely an unexpected bonus.

 

My new precious…

LK Bennett boucle jacket

This was a hell of a second hand find this month! Long on my list of items to buy was a boxy style, boucle tweed jacket–the nearer to Chanel the better. I found one at a beloved designer consignment store and, as I had in-store credit to use, the new with tags jacket that retails over £300 cost me just £28. I felt no shame breaking my no buy for this one at all. It’s a beautiful piece of clothing and if I take good care of it, it should last me for years and years to come.

 

Mac lipstick in Chili

I’ve favorited this item before but I have a goal to use up the bullet before the end of the year and have been wearing it most days in aid of that–with only the rare flirtations with darker, berry tones in honor of the season. This warm, brownish red is absolutely perfect for the fall and someday I will absolutely buy this shade again. However, I first have to get through the other items in my collection. In the meantime, it is only right and proper to salute those who have done good service in the lipstick wars!

 

Lip balm

Tis the season to moisturize everything. I used up two two tubes this month, not start to finish but it’s still a notable consumption pattern for me. One was the Glossier balmdotcom in coconut, which may be the first coconut scented or flavored item I’ve ever not actively hated. While this stuff is basically glorified Vaseline, it gets the job done in the season of wind chap. The other was DHC Lip Cream, which bears the strange honor of being the fastest I’ve ever used up in my life while I’m still not sure I like it. X. recommended it to me and because it came in a two pack, I’m going to continue to use it and see if my opinion on it forms more fully. Meanwhile, the comments are open to your best balm recommendations. Help a girl winterize her face!

Five Things I Loved in October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Happy Halloween!

Another month has flown by and 2019 is barreling down on us fast, my piglets! The weather has turned cold recently so I’m adding extra layers to (my side of) the bed, pulling the jumpers out of storage, and suddenly gripped with the all-consuming desire to make soup for two meals a day. This is the best time of year.

That being said, it’s been a rough month for a lot of people I know and the world in general so I wasn’t surprised that in tallying up the things that brought me joy in October, items or pop culture that soothed and comforted kept cropping up. As the winter holidays creep closer with all their attendant joys and stresses, take a moment to do something comforting. It’s good for resilience and good for the soul.

Tell me what you’ve been drawn to this month in the comments!

Salt Fat Acid Heat, on Netflix

Another month, another love affair with a smart food show. In a oversaturated market, Netflix still manages to make some really delightful programming and I continue to eat it up with a spoon–pun intended. The host of Salt Fat Acid Heat, writer and cook Samin Nosrat, takes so much JOY in food and it’s wonderful to watch and participate in that joy with her. I now want to run out and buy her cookbook simply to make some of her recipes while rewatching this show…that’s how much I liked it. (Also, shout out to Tom and Lorenzo for this observation which is 100% correct!)

 

Leather jacket, by & Other Stories

A confession, I got my leather moto style jacket from & Other Stories at least three years ago and loved it, but was so intimidated by it as a piece of clothing that I rarely wore it. I honestly didn’t feel “cool” enough to wear it, such is the power of psychology of fashion and clothing. But over the past couple of years, as I’ve learned not only accept but lean into the styles and clothing I like and not act as though I had to meet some sort of achievement (be it thin-ness, grown up-ness, or wealthiness) to wear them, I have become so much happier. And a result, probably more stylish. I have been wearing the heck out of this leather jacket this year and loving it more and more every time I do. I will be a bit sad when I have to set it aside for a proper winter coat, but at the moment, the weather continues to be perfect for jackets and I continue to be a happy bunny about this fact.

 

Botanics Organic Hydrating Eye Cream

In my quest to discover drugstore or cheaper equivalents to higher end products, I’ve picked up a few bits and pieces from trusty Boots this past month including this eye cream. It’s been a joy. The weather turned chilly this past month and during the colder months my skin requires an extra boost of hydration and I’ve already been layering up additional moisturizing products. Eye cream is a product that incites a lot of feelings in the beauty world, some people swear by it and others consider it so much wasted money. Me personally, I feel that an extra layer of moisture in that area is beneficial and this is a delightful, lightweight cream that absorbs quickly without feeling greasy or disrupting other skincare or makeup items. Highly recommended!

 

 

Chillhop, YouTube

This is such a strange one but work this month has been very busy with a lot of curveballs through I’ve had huge stretches of time where I’ve been in a situation where I needed to do a lot of writing in very loud, crowded, and busy spaces. I needed unfussy, mellow, and pleasant background noise. Jeff has teased me about it all month but this channel has been a lifesaver! There are a million and a half channels like this but so far Chillhop is my favorite, which you can also find on Spotify.

 

Luminous Silk Foundation, by Giorgio Armani

A proper update in my 13 by Halloween challenge is coming shortly, but as a preview–yes! I did finish this foundation to the last drop! What a gorgeous product it is too, I do not remember the last foundation that I finished before it went off, caused skin issues, or was otherwise aggravating. This was (yet another spot on) recommendation from X. who has yet to lead me astray in such matters. The only reason I have not repurchased it is because it is 1) expensive as hell and, 2) I have another foundation I intend to use up before pushing the boat out on another. Per my shopping restrictions I am going to try and find a temporary replacement in the drugstore, but if I give myself any outs at all when it comes to my ban it may be for something as foundational as…well… you get it. That day is a long way off, so in the meantime let me salute a bottle that’s done good service in the wars and which I can heartily recommend for a variety of facial textures and tones.

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 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.