Exploring July’s Favourites
I have been very lucky this month to come across a fair few favourites in my exploration of new things from new series of T.V. shows to new beauty products and new ingredients to cook with. Here is just a breakdown of a few things I have loved exploring this month.
Before I truly begin, I do feel like I owe an apology, I know it has been so long since I have done a favourites, well I know exactly how long it was February. So sorry and I promise to be more consistent going forward as that is what I always look for in a friend and a community and that is what I hope to build here with my blog.
Television Shows and Documentaries
As part of this month I have been on a cleanse and due to work being so stressful I have had a fair few nights-in, which meant that I got to watch a few new things on Netflix (all fo the favourites are available on Netflix UK).
Somebody Feed Phil
If you haven’t heard of this show, finish reading the post first but then go and watch it. The second series was released this month as it was as good as the first. Phil, for whose who don’t know if Phil Rosenthal who was the greater of Everybody Loves Raymond. He is your typical old school new york Jewish comedian with a bit of LA laid-backness. It is travel meets food meets comedy show. It is he going to different places around the world this series from visiting his parents in New York to Cape Town and Venice. He meets such real and lovable people along the way that comedy moments just happen. Some of the funniest is him Skyping his elderly very new york Jewish parents. It will make you want to eat and definitely makes me want to travel (makes me very jealous) but in the end you will just binge watch it all and feel so much happier after that you did. I have had some so many joyful conversations with others who have watched it sharing our favourite moments, which is why I had to put in firmly on my favourites list for July.
Last Chance U: Indy and Where are they now
Another of my older favourites which finally came back with a new series. This is real life sports/human interest documentary which follows an American football team from a junior college in Independence, Kansas. The players are not your typical all-American players types – some have been kicked out of division 1 sports programmes for smoking drugs and bad behaviour. The series follows them and their coach who is a hard-core Compton-bread coach who is extremely hard on them with a lot of harsh language (so not for those who don’t like a curse of two). You want they develop as players, a team and as individual and you get really attached involved or at least I did. You cheer for them as they win and feel the pain and bitterness when they loss, takes you through their entire season – you might even end up binge watching to see if they win the championship (no spoilers from me).
In addition there is a special episode which shows you where the players and staff from the first two seasons are doing now. It is really enlightening and hard warming and breaking at the same time. I will again give no spoilers but am so happy that do go back and shows you some of your favourites and where they are now as I said you do get involved in their lives and their success.
Somm: Into the Bottle
This is a movie-length documentary about sommeliers and what they consider when drinking wine. The programs spreads to sommeliers, wine merchants, wine makers and you get their opinion and you also get to watch their excitement and love of wine. Including trying some very exclusive vintage wine – which again reinforce that at the end of the day wine if some enjoyment and sharing. That is doesn’t have to be elitist and that you just might have to pay a little more but you will ended up with a great bottle just for £15 and don’t need to spend £40+ to get that great experience. It is really educational, and I came away learning and demystifying a lot of what I had been taught about wine. I even went out a day or two later to buy a bottle of Riesling as after watching it I want to challenge my previous understanding as it being a very sweet wine and search for a dry version – which ended up being a very good bottle of wine (definitely after a stressful work day).
The Redeemed & the Dominant: Fittest on Earth
This is a documentary following competitors for the CrossFit games, namely the top male and female athletes one show is a reigning champion and the other who feel at the last hurdle from wintering last year. I will confess I have never done CrossFit, I feel it might kill me but again I love a good sports documentary mainly for the human interest part. Everyone even if you don’t exercise can relate to the struggles and pains of competing at that high level and the joy for achieve something and just surviving the race.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
I was so saddened to hear about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide in June and had watched my episodes of his different food travel shows. I therefore found myself again watching Parts Unknown and found episodes that I hadn’t seen before (enough to even go into August). From his episode in Vietnam, Hanoi and Halong Bay which I have visited so was great to see through his eyes which includes him sharing a meal with President Obama (which just highlights his power in the world of food). You do view the series differently after knowing he is no longer here especially when he talks of his daughter and retiring. I have loved his shows so were very thankful to find new ones – which give me an escape and a new insight into new places their food and culture.
As I spend about two weeks of this year on a cleanse I don’t have too many food favourites this month. However there were a few things I found on my cleanse and a few that I introduce to before and after to give myself lots of energy and goodness.
Yogi Tea – Heartwarming
Whilst at the Free From Show earlier this month I know that I was have to do stop at the Yogi Tea stall and get a fresh stock of teas. This time I wanted to try a new flavour and came across their herbal tea blend – Heartwarming. This has a main notes Chilli, Basil and Orange Peel and it does warm you up from within. Who would have thought of Basil in tea – not me – which was why I just had to try it and who isn’t after that comfort food sensation of having your heart warmed. You don’t get a strong basil but it blends really well with all the spiced which aren’t overpowering but do give you that great warm cup fo tea glow from within. As with all Yogi teas the tag on the teabag has a lovely little quote which in addition just lifts your spirits and inspires. I lived of this tea during my cleanse as it was such a clean and slight spicing it was great in between plain or cucumber water. I will be buying it again for certain and makes me want to explore more of their spiced and herbal teas to try new flavours.
Mylkman: Almond Matcha & Maca Mylk
Whilst on my cleanse I wanted to get in some nut milks to help transition out of the cleanse and on Farmdrop found this Almond Matcha & Maca mylk by Mylkman. It has in it 25% more almonds than your normal high-street nut mylk so you really do get that smooth silky taste of almond when you drink it. Then you have the matcha and maca which with the combination of a dash of agave and pink sea salt give a lovely subtle sweet green tea taste. I drank it by itself and was so sad when it was finish. In the heatwave having that ice-cold in the morning give me the right energy to get on with the day. I can also see it being great in a protein shake or smoothie.
Nespresso Ice Coffee Blend – Ispirazione Salentina
This is Nespresso’s limited edition coffee capsule for the summer and is built to be had as ice coffee. Unlike previous ice coffee blends this had it actually see packs a coffee punch which is what I look for in my coffee. I am a coffee snob so this isn’t the best coffee you will ever have or make the top ten even, however for me it was great to make an espresso of this and use it in protein smoothie for breakfast. It gave the right coffee undertone that you are looking for and of course that well-needed caffeine hit. It was also alright by itself (unlike last years). I will not be stocking up on it like the Brazilian single estate from a few years which still have few over but it has definitely be a favourite in this hot mornings.
Maca & Ashwagandha Superfood Powders
Whilst in whole foods markets, I can never just take a shopping list and just stick to it, I always have to explore what new brands, food and tastes are available. I was in such for some superfoods to add to smoothies, baking, water which would help with energy and hormones. I had sampled Maca before and been told that it was really good for helping control hormones (which I need especially for healthy happy hormone free skin). It also gives food a lovely caramel taste which for someone who lives a plant-based diet is hard to find otherwise. I found Superfoodies package with Organic Raw Maca Powder for only about £3.99 which just shows that eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It is also nutrient-rich in vitamins C, E and B1&2. So whilst on that shelf picking the Maca up, I came across Ashwagandha (I can attempt to say it but will most likely be 80% wrong) again under £4. It is known as the Indian Ginseng and is meant to be great for energy, it does have more of a fungi taste about it (fun fact the name in Sanskrit does mean horse-smell but it doesn’t smell in powder form at least), so not as sweet as Maca. The main pull for me to putting it in my basket was that it is meant to help the body resist physiological and psychological stress and promote healthy sleep all alongside improving immune system and energy levels. I knew what sort of stress levels I was expecting this month and work was stressful but my body didn’t get as stressed as it could, I do put that partly done to introducing this superfood into my diet. I am all about living a plant-based diet and trying to naturally make my body as enriched and healthy as I can. These two superfoods will now be a staple in diet going forward and I look forward to find other ways to use them in my cooking.
I have a weakness for beauty products – there I have attempted it publicly. So I am always exploring new products and brands and have been very interesting in try to find more natural products to used to again promote cruelty-free practicing in the beauty industry and reducing the number of chemicals in my life.
Glossier – Balm dotcom
Balm dotcom is a culture classic and wanted to test it out for myself and this has been a favourite now for a few months (again sorry for last of favourites posts) but each month I find a new love for it. At its core it is a multi-use salve not just your ordinary lip balm. I use it constantly as a lip balm, even having one in by bag and desk at work – as it is so nourishing and you just want more of the taste. I have coconut for work, as is nice and mild with the right level of sweetness and Rose for handbag and it isn’t that horrid overpowering rose-water taste but more subtle. Beyond a lip salve I personally use it for as a cuticle cream, on scars, dried skin, and the one in the bag also get used when have foot rubbing to help prevent blisters. I love that it so versatile and it last so long, I have had it for few months and still have about half a tube left. It is worth the hype and is a classic for a reason.
Pur Mascara Trifecta Kit
I don’t imagine I am the only women who is still on the hunt for that perfect mascara and the Pur Cosmetics Mascara Trifecta kit which I got in the States definitely offered up some good contenders, especially the big look mascara. As it gave volume, length and did not disappear over the course of the day yet was also not nearly impossible to remove with every form of make-up remove you own. I would have lived a bit more definition and curl. Nevertheless, it was my go to for the last few months and was a very sad empty to get rid of. I do find that the travel size if better for me as I am more likely to use it up before the best before date as trying to be more hygienic with my make-up especially after reading up on some of the horrors of keeping open make-up too long.
Bamboo Charcoal Toothpaste
One of the few places where I have been trying to make a more chemical-free product selection is my toothpaste as it is going straight into your month. I found this activated bamboo charcoal toothpaste and through give it a go. I was a bit worried at first that it was going like getting my stomach-pumped (not know from personal experience just thought should put that out there). Yes, it comes out black but doesn’t have the horrid charcoal chalky taste about it. It really does clean your teeth (unlike some other natural toothpastes) and I do think with extended use would mean that teeth appear whiter.
Ordinary Buffet Serum & Caffeine Solution 5%
Whilst walking through Covent Garden with my mom we came across the Abnormal beauty company (DECIEM) and we went in to see what they had. One of the brands under the umbrella is Ordinary which I had heard about as it is the meant to be really affordable (especially by beauty product standards) and also really good. They are also cruelty-free and vegan products which is important to factor into your purchases. In store they were very helpful and after explaining my skin concerns and needs and after the assistant looked at my skin, we decided to force on my dark eyes and as I am not getting younger start actively looking after my wrinkles and my face ageing. She was very kind and recommended I try the “Buffet” Serum and Eye Caffeine Solution.
The “Buffet” serum is a post cleanse pre moisturizer serum and is to help target the multi signs of ageing on your face using a variety of peptides (don’t ask me what they are), you can use it AM and PM. It is very affordable at just £13 for a small bottle of serum and did last me well over a month (wasn’t using it religiously AM and PM and was probably at first using a bit too much). However, I did find that the texture and consistency of my skin was much improved. It is something that I would definitely buy again. It was a cheap and easy serum that worked.
The Caffeine Solution 5% with EGCG was to help give my eyes a bit of life, and reduce the puffiness and dark circles under my eye. Also to help reduce cellulite under the eye – who knew that was a thing. I have always suffered from dark circles, I can sleep for days or just 3 hours and they are about the same and I personally always feel they are pretty pronounced. My eyes are also the first place I have really spotted deepening of wrinkles – you got to love it when your concealer get highlights not just your eye but the fine-lines. This solution definitely has reduce the appears of fine lines, it hasn’t magically removed the existing ones but my eyes do look much better. It is probably one of the few eye products where I have actually be able to note a difference from using it. It also go a long way, I use it AM and PM and still have just under half a bottle to go. Not back for under a tenner.
This month I am treating this category as a bit of a catch-all one with a few home products and also a bit of entertainment.
Voluspa – Mokara Candle
I got this Voluspa candle ages ago from Anthropolgie (one of my favourite stores), where at the moment is one of my go-to places to find good high quality beauty and delicious smelling candles. This candle just called to me and eventually I couldn’t resist anymore (did try as candles in Anthropoligie aren’t the cheapest but always worth it and worth a bit for them in the sale hunt too). I like this candle as initially fell in love with beautiful white texture glass container and thought about how I can use it after the candle had long gone. Then there was the smell, which is light floral and earthy in smell done to being mokara orchid (yes I hadn’t heard of it before too), white lily and spring moss, which travels well it isn’t one of those where you only smell it when not lite and it doesn’t linger after you blow it out. It is a large candle and had a very long burn time, well beyond 60 hours at the moment I predict. I burn it nearly every day for about an hour or more (sometimes more than once a day) and yes I do follow good candle maintenance with wick cutting etc but still over a third of candle to go. This candle has become part of my daily routine and the smell as well now is very comforting to me (enough the power of the smell diminished slightly) and I will be very sad when it finishes – but also have few candles which might become new favourites.
Apple Music Subscription
I love my music, it is what motivates me whether that be on a run, road tripping or whilst working – you will find me music on the background at most times. I also have a very eclectic taste in music from classical, jazz to electronic, dance and rap. I never got into Spotify and hand-up am a full blow apple lover (she says as she types on her new MacBook listening to music on her iPhone), so it was only natural that I did the apple music 3-month trial. As I am such an apple person, I really did appreciate that I can get the music on all my devices, phone, laptop and TV to meet all my music needs. It also meets my needs for eclectic music tastes but the thing I like most is that it has led to me finding so much new types of music, songs and artists. It means that you never get bored an end up listening to the same songs over and over again, unless you want to, and you can always (most of the time) find music to match your mood and activity.
At the moment, my favourite playlists (slightly leaning to stress reducing music this month) are:
- Pure Chill – Diverse smoothing music which spans electronica to indie-rock
- Today at Apple – Literally the songs which are being played in apple stores
- Chill Radio – similar to pure chill but constantly changing instead of weekly updated
- New Tracks – which is tailored to your music tastes (admittedly there so get my tastes a bit wrong, where for a phrase where it was all Korean music for some reason)
- Best of the Week – always worth a try to see what is popular and get a bit of variety
- Pure Focus – Introspective electronic soundscapes which is great to work to.
- Mellow Days – Peaceful Pop which is regularly easy feeling
- Pure Cardio – which is music with a strong beat to help keep you motivated
I have also been exploring a few new artists as the benefits of the playlists is that you can download to your phone sounds you like and also find them on apple and listen to more of their album or past work. Here are a few new artists (to me to be clear) and the song that trigger me enjoying them this month:
- Steve Aoki – Lie to Me (feat, Ina Wroldsen)
- Josef Salvat – Hustler
- Ghostly Kisses – Garden
- Rosemary & Garlic – Old Now
- Jean-Michel Blais – Roses
- Dessa – Good Grief
- Billie Eilish – Lovely (feat. Khalid)
- Ruel – Younger
- Bishat – Give you up
I know it is £9.99 a month, but in the end for all the new music and how often I am listening to it, I have found it great value for money. I find music so emotional and impactful, so just the enjoyment of not really knowing what I might hear next and finding new music to love is worth the money for me without a doubt.
So those are a few of my favourites, let me know if you have tried any of them or if after reading this you think there is someone else I should try. As you might have gathered I am all about trying new things, we only live once and you don’t know what will be a favourite until you explore.