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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Things I'm Into Right Now

Man, what a difference it makes when your contacts aren't messing with you in the morning. Yesterday they were being a pain in the ass all morning, and it made me feel bleary from head to toe. But today, they're clear and in place and not blurry at all, and that feels good. Plus, Alexandra and Todd both woke up when I did before I left for work, and it's so nice to kiss smiling faces instead of sneaking out like a bandit, trying not to wake anyone up.


1. Kiss My Face shampoo and conditioner in Green Tea and Lime.

It's light and refreshing, doesn't have all those nasty things like SLS and parabens, and from what I could tell, some pretty spot on ingredients. One thing I've learned from ingredient checking is that the first ingredients are the most abundant. Here is the list right off their website:

Aloe Barbadensis*, Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Chamomilla Recutitia (Chamomile) Flower Extract*, Melissa Offcinalis (Lemon Balm) Leaf Extract*, Urtica Dioca (Nettles) Leaf Extract*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract*, Calendula Officinlis (Marigold) Flower Extract*, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract*, Olefin Sulfonate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt), Caprylic Acid, Glycine, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid. *Organic

Now, nearly all of the run of the mill commercial shampoos out there like Pantene or whatever, will have water, then SLS as the first two ingredients. Which is why when I realized the first NINE ingredients listed were all organic plant matter or extracts, I was like hell yes. Both of the weirder ingredients, Olefin Sulfonate and Cocomidopropyl Betaine, are components or derivatives of coconut oil, so while it could be synthetically created (and lacks the telltale organic asterisk), I really don't give a shit. They're not stripping agents like SLS and other detergents, so Imma let it slide.

I will stop a moment and bitch that the shampoo calls itself Green Tea and Lime but those ingredients are pretty close to the bottom. However, I think they're mostly there to perform as fragrance, and since there is no ubiquitous and suspicious "Fragrance" listed, Imma let that slide too.

Jesus Jil, way to write an essay about a shampoo. Anyways, you can find this stuff at Whole Foods or even better, on Vita Cost.

2. Neutrogena Body Oil

And now for below the neck! I have a feeling I've posted about this stuff before, but back then it was used more sporadically in my moisturizing routine (I was hooked on Jason products then but something changed in their formulas for both lotions and hair care and I'm no longer as impressed). Now, however, I use this oil, and only this oil, every single day. I LOVE IT. The scent is light and slightly exotic thanks to the sesame, but never overpowering, never cloying. I never ever get sick of it, and when I hang my towel up after getting dressed and get a whiff of the scent, I smile involuntarily. That's how lovely it is. It never mingles with your perfume either. Just make sure to apply when your skin is still pretty damp. I just lightly pat my skin after showering or bathing and then apply the oil very promptly. One thing I've found though is that after shaving your legs, apply a second time after your skin is fully dry, and that will keep moisture on your gams.

3. It's Always Sunny in Philedelphia

Oh, man. Okay, look, I know that humor is subjective, and perverse, shameless humor like this is VERY subjective, but my God this is some of the funniest shit I have ever watched in my life. Just when you're fairly certain they won't go there, they go there, balls out (Dee Dates A Retard is an actual episode title). It's kind of like Seinfeld in which no one is truly likeable, they're all horrible people, and they all seem to hate each other deep down, so even for me this show is best in smaller doses (I could, however, do an hours-long marathon of How I Met Your Mother). It's like a super rich sinful dessert, and nothing caps off a night of mild mannered television like a show where in order to stay on welfare, Dee and her brother Dennis actively choose to get hooked on crack.

4. Mussels!!

Or moules au vin blanc, which is my absolute favorite way to make them. Nothing compares to a big bowl of these delicious critters, steamed in wine, shallots and garlic. They're also insanely quick and easy to make for a romantic dinner for two:

3.5lb mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (absolutely crucial to the flavor)
1 cup wine
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp butter

Bring wine to a boil in a six quart pot and let simmer a few minutes. Add your mussels, put the top on your pot and let them steam for about five minutes. Give the pot a good shake to redistribute the mussels, and then open up and give them a quick stir. If they're all open, they're done and should be removed promptly into large serving bowls. If they're not open, have no fear and just steam a little longer, two minutes more. After placing the moules into the bowls, add the parsley and butter to your wine and stir to melt the butter. Once that happens, turn off the heat, pour the delicious broth over the moules (making sure to spoon up all those delicious shallots and garlic pieces), and serve with crusty bread and a couple of glasses of the same wine you used to steam them.

An added bonus: you don't need utensils. Just use the shell of one mussel like mini tongs and pluck the meat from another mussel.

SO GOOD. Todd is always mildly reluctant when I start clamouring for these, and every single time I serve them he's like, damn, these are so good. We had them Saturday and we're sitting there, happily digging into our bowls, and Todd just goes "Well, you and your lousy moules! These are delicious!" and proceeded to devour the entire bowl.

5. Trader Joe's Block Red Wine

A friend of mine turned me on to this wine because she knows how much I love wine that comes in box form. But this wine is so much more than that. I mean, yes, it is box of wine, and yes it's only $10 which is actually cheaper than the Corbett Canyon box of wine I buy whenever I want pinot grigio. But it's actually a super decent wine. The reason I know this is because A: I drink a lot of wine and can tell and B: Todd, who gave up his wino status long ago after it started kicking his ass, will actually have a glass or three of this with his steak dinner. He does not do that unless it's pretty damn good, so that's why I'm here to tell you that this wine is pretty damn good, only costs you $10 and comes in a cool looking box.

What's not to love?

6. Freesia!

Another delight thanks to Trader Joe's. I've never before gotten freesia until this spring, and my goodness, now I understand why every other lotion in Bath and Body Works is freesia. They're poor attempts at harnessing the light and delicate fragrance of this flower, though. I was absolutely blown away when I got the first batch; it took a couple of days but suddenly every time I'd walk by the vase of flowers on the table, I would be overcome by this teasing, barely there floral scent that is just divine. It reminds me of a far milder version of a magnolia blossom. Anyways, this shade of the freesia flower is what I'm currently hosting at my house, and I just love it. I always get sad when Trader Joe's is out of them; my heart sinks just a bit when I realize they're nowhere to be found. Next time you find yourself with an opportunity to get some freesia, I strongly recommend you take it.

7. Kingdom Rush

So I'm a little embarrassed to be raving over a game app on my smartphone but I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF. Plus, again I refer to Todd's enthusiasm as an accurate measure for levels of awesomeness: He was more than happy to watch me play Plants vs. Zombies, but is all too eager to play Kingdom Rush for himself. Last night we had to take turns for God's sake, each playing a battle before reluctantly handing it off to the other person.

It's right up our alley, with knights and archers and mages and artillery, tools and weapons to help boost your fighting power, heroes and fireballs falling from the sky, trolls and wulfs and ogres and shamans and all kinds of cool shit that you're trying to kill in the name of the king. Have at you! Attack! Reinforce!! YAAARRRRRGH.

Plus this shit is free.

8. The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell

Part historical novel, part bodice ripper, this is a 17th century story about one of England's very first actresses, Nell Gwyn. I've gotten about halfway through and what I'm loving so far, apart from some very blushworthy scenes (she started off a prostitute after all, at least in Bagwell's novel), are the historical moments that are brought to life, such as the great fire that took place in the city of London during her lifetime, as well as The Great Plague. I also love the language used to illustrate the time period, and of course I love Nell's brazen wit and her strength and courage to not only become an actress but to simply survive.

And I just love a good historical novel. I love learning about real people who lived so long ago. Thanks to the author's diligent research, I'm able to see into the past, and especially for women in history, this is such a treat.

Plus those love scenes! Whew!!

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