My favorite things

I think I did a favorites list once, and I’m pretty sure it had one thing; chocolate. Since everyone is doing favorites lists, I thought, why not? So here are my favorite things from the last year or so across any category.

Movie: The Martian

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Matt Damon. What else is there to say? Seriously though, this is such a good movie. I could not convince the Husband to go to the theater with me when it came out (and I think it actually came in 2015) but as soon as it was available digitally, we owned it. I watched it countless times since, and last night at the Boy’s request, we watched it again for movie night. There’s just something wonderful about a man being left behind on a planet and trying to survive. Maybe it’s a metaphor for me trying to survive the epically martian land of England? Who knows.

Book: Impossible to just pick one given my love of all things BOOOK! but here are two four I’ve read that I keep revisiting: {if you need more check out my GoodReads page}

Philipa Gregory, I fell in love with Three Sisters, Three Queens (the first of hers I read), and then proceeded to speed through her Cousins War series. I’ve hit a slow down with the Tudor Series, but I think I just needed a break from the pace I was reading them.

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Black Boy by Richard Wright, I have never been able to let this book from my mind. There’s just something sad, and moving, and wonderful in it. It is partly non-fiction and partly fiction (there’s academic debate about it being memoir and embellished). You decide.

Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser. I am a lover of all tings Scottish because of my family ancestry, and I’ve read a few books on Mary but this was my favorite.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. I loved her take on living for a year in the land of hygge. Especially how she refers to her husband as Lego Man.

The Rival Queens, Nancy Goldstone. This is about the trials of Catherine de Medici and her daughter Marguerite of Valois. Absolutely fascinating, and horrifying what things went on in the 15th century! I became fascinated by Catherine de Medici after watching Reign (yes that soapy not exactly historically correct teen drama), but her real life was very interesting. It also led me to be very interested in this Netflix original:

TV: Medici: Masters of Florence. You will pretty much find almost every character has been on a show you’ve either seen or heard of (Rob Stark from Game of Thrones AND Walter Frey as in laws??) It has a fabulous cast (Dustin Hoffman and et al), and the story is very worthy of binge watching. The drama, the backstabbing (literally), the time period. I can never get enough of these shows from another time. (It also led me to read The Medici by Paul Strathern – Loving It.)

Mini-Series: I couldn’t pick just one, so here are two:

The White Queen from Starz (based on 3 books from Philippa Gregory’s Cousins War series. Really, Really hoping that season two rumors are true, since this originally ran in 2013.)

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Victoria from ITV. It tells the first years of Queen Victoria’s reign from when she was crowned at 18 to the birth of her first child. Highly entertaining and my 10 year old also loves watching it. I believe there will be a season two.

I fell in love with this beauty product so much that the Husband is even schlepping to Nordstrom today while he’s in Seattle for work to get me some more (he’s awesome!). I hate it when products I love aren’t available in the UK:

Kate Sommerville Age Arrest Serum. I’ve gone two months without it since I ran out, and yes, it definitely improves my skin and I love the silky texture and the way my skin feels when I use it. Even though it’s $95….If you know an alternative that is just as good, for cheaper, please tell me!

MV Organics Rose range: everything. The moisturizer, cleanser, and the rose boost oil. (I have the Skin Tonic as well, but the jury’s still out on that one). Let’s just not even talk about the price, please. The cleanser is reasonable comparative to other similar brands but the moisturizer, {heart attack} on the 70ml price –> £77. I finally paid for it after schlepping out repeatedly for the 15 ml size at £25 a jar. Normally, I’d say NUTS to pay that much (even though I’ve bought pricier things…Sunday Riley, Sisley and May Lindstrom spring to mind…) but this is the first product that might actually be toning back the rosacea. And I’ve been consistent in using it every day, twice a day for a few months. I think we might be getting somewhere. I’m sure it’s probably not available in the US because {story of my life}.

Speaking of not available, I have fallen.in.love. with this clothing company – Hackwith Design House. All ethically made, gorgeous things, that are pricey! but with the companies ethics, and sticking to being on sale, I can live with it. They DO ship to London, for $20, and then VAT and duties are paid on top of clothing cost + shipping. So one dress I love, the Desiree (among many others), would be $158 + 20% duties + £8 post office ‘fee’ = way too much money. It makes me VERY sad but that has been the luck. So many ethical outstanding clothing companies {Brass Clothing, Everlane, Jan-N-June, ArmedAngels, Uniform, Zady, Need Supply Co, Gather & See, esby, and on that will/won’t ship/or charge in Euros} but the price of buying something is astronomical by the time I pay to get it out of Duty Jail. 5 more months and The Husband will just have to deal with a little wallet pinching. For a fantastic list (and website in general!) see Anuschka Rees. She also has a book The Curated Closet which I am impatiently waiting to be available to the UK.

Dog items: Wagg Training Treats (there’s even a low-fat version which is hilarious) and Pill Pockets from Greenies. Both of these items have been lifesavers with Mocha for training/rewards, and for the unending medication rotation we seem to be on since we’ve been in London.

Those are some of the things I’ve fallen in love with this year. There are many other things  that I have loved this year, but if I listed all of them it would be more like a book than a list. What have you fallen in love with this year?

You’re going to want more

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“We’re not bad people. But we did a bad thing.”

So goes the tagline to Netflix’s latest (and personally, I think, the greatest even better than House of Cards that I raved about here) original program. Bloodline. If you haven’t seen it, then I feel sincerely sorry for you. It is the story of a family struggling to deal with the sudden reappearance of the black sheep eldest child, Danny, a sorry, drugged out, shiftless, no holds barred creepy, black sheep. Four siblings (and a hidden secret about a sibling), two parents, and a beautiful inn on the Key’s Island of Islamorada. Which has now surged to the top of my ‘must travel to’ list. It is a real place, but I’d be more than hesitant to visit in the dark, you might just come across Danny, and no one wants that.

Danny has a secret, he hates his family. They shunned him (in his mind) after the death of Sarah, the fifth Rayburn sibling. He’s back, and he wants retribution for the wrongs his siblings and parents have done to him. But someone gets hurt, someone dies, someone gets blackmailed, someone lies, cheats, steals, gets beaten up, robbed, and that’s just the first three episodes.

The story is full of secrets, half truths, hidden agenda’s, tempers – lots of tempers, and more than a few expletives. The ‘f’ word features very prominently, so if you don’t like language, then this isn’t the show for you. I have debated counting the number of times they say it in one episode, but I’m not sure I’d be able to count that high. Normally language like that is a huge factor in me pushing the stop button and moving on. But this show…it’s epically good. Intrigue. Suspense. Creepiness. Storyline. Bloodline.

It draws you in and you just can’t stop. One episode becomes one more, and one more, and one more….and before you know it you’ve downed the entire series in two days, you haven’t slept, showered, and you have no idea if your children are still alive.

It’s That Good.

I’ve watched it twice over, and I’m thinking it couldn’t hurt to watch it again. Just one more time. Or once more after that. After all, Season 2 is one whole long year away….

He did not just do that. Or THAT. (House of Cards)

As ever, I’m late to the party. Have you seen House of Cards? Holy moly. I will say I tried watching it when it first came out and hated the way Frank talked to the camera. I never made it more than 4 minutes in. Then, The Husband watched a bunch of episodes on a flight to Europe and got hooked. So we ordered up Netflix.

Up to this past weekend, I still wasn’t interested, even though he kept telling me to give it a go! Now season 3 is out (and The Husband is saving watching it until he moves to London next week.) Monday I decided fine, I’ll try it again.

I’m already 3 episodes into season 2.

AND OH MY GOD, THE HUSBAND WAS RIGHT.

If you haven’t watched the show, look away my friends because there may be details and spoilers coming your way. Because here’s what I have trouble wrapping my brain around.

First, Clare. Holy royal bitch. I hated her for like the first 4 episodes (and I’m really not fond of her even now, though her wardrobe is pretty nice…) And Frank. Totally thought he was okay; typical ten shades shy of legal politician. We know that stuff really does go on, and I love DC anyway.

And. Then. He. Slept. With. Zoe.

I decided he’s a scumbag. Then he got Peter all sober and was helping him and I started to think, okay, men do what they do and he’s a politician, and even an I-will-screw-you-over-ten-fold-if-you-wrong-me politician. But he has good in him.

And.Then.He.Killed.Peter.

And really, where do you go for redemption after you stage someones murder to look like suicide? I just can’t recover from that one.

But again, he crept on my He’s-Evil-As-Hell-But-I-Still-Like-Him side.

And. Then. He. Pushed. Zoe. In. Front. Of. The. Train.

I have to admit, I did NOT see that coming. I could see the Peter thing forming in his mind and all that, and it was still shocking, but I full on gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth when he threw her into the subway train. Total freaking unexpected moment.

I am slightly afraid to keep watching (though this show is like a drug because it’s a train wreck, literally, and I can not stop, or look away, or avert my eyes, or any of the other things normal people would do, I just keep watching.)

Let’s hope this House of Cards thing just goes on and on and on. Because Clare and Frank are completely terrifying and somehow likable (I would run if I ever saw either of them coming down a back alley though, and we can probably add Doug Stamper to that list because that silent shit is pretty freaking scary in his own way).

So, if anyone needs me in the next day and half, I’ll be peeking out from under the covers at the tv, wondering who exactly Frank is going to kill next.

The past 24 hours

The last 24 hours have not been my favorite.  I am hoping whatever karma I upset sets things to rights soon because, really, have mercy on this poor soul!  

Last night a woman from my American group comes over to buy a stroller I had for sale.  We were not able to connect at Ikea as planned because she wanted to meet in the afternoon and I couldn’t with school pickup.  She is due this week with a baby so she said she didn’t want to postpone and would just come to my house.  Fantastic!  She gets to drive the 45 mins and I get rid of a stroller and make some money to put towards that new camera I want.  Life is good.  I removed the stroller from my car and when she arrives I show her how to use it.

‘You pull this handle to recline… umm, like this… uhh.’  Yep, the thing would NOT recline.  We spent 30 mins trying to figure out why it will no longer recline when two days ago it worked perfectly fine.  I was mortified that she drove all this way and it did not work.  Meanwhile the three kids (one of hers, two of mine) are running around like banshees (ok mine were, hers was reading a book like an angel).  I am sweating and embarrassed.  She is being really cool about the whole thing but I feel so dumb that the stroller I never, ever, once used won’t work.  It ended ok because she asked what other strollers I had for sale (I had three) and she ended up taking the Mac instead.  After hubby got home he fixed the other stroller.  One piece that allows it to recline was slightly bent preventing it from sliding.  All fixed and now works fine.
The second event was that the guy we hired to install the tv dish never showed up.  So no phone call no nothing.  Who knows when or if we will ever get him to come out?  We’ve got the box, the SKY card is on the way, but no satellite dish.
This morning I got Lucy’s picture taken.  By the polizei.  Yep, I got a camera ticket that will be arriving in the mail in the next 4-6 weeks.  I admit I was doing about 40 km/h in a 30.  So yes I was speeding (it’s like 5 miles over if that!)  Agrrrhh!  I won’t be taking that shortcut to school anymore.
And to top off the morning (thus far anyway) I met the really nice people that went to the bowling event for my dh’s work last week (hubbys sorta work together).  Their daughter and my son are in the same class.  We have the cutest pictures of them tearing it up bowling together.  (I missed the event because Chickadee was sick)  They have even invited us over to a dinner party at their house the week after the dad met hubby at work (no sitter so we couldn’t go).  Super nice people.  We said hello, chatted a second about what good bowlers the kids were.  They are T and L.  Did I bother to mention my name is A?  Noooo!  If I don’t feel the biggest idiot today.  Geesh!  These are people we’d like to be friends with and I can’t remember to introduce myself.  I think there is a little crush going on between little G and my Boo.  (Too cute for words!)  
I think I’ll go bury myself under the covers now.  The day can only get better from here right??