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Oct 14

Things I’m Loving: October 2013

At any given moment there are usually a bunch of things I’m currently obsessed with and that I wish I could share with you all. I decided to change up the format a bit for this post and instead of posting a recipe today I’m going to share a few of the things I’m loving right now. What kinds of things? Anything from food products and kitchen tools to beauty products, web sites, books and TV shows. Maybe you’ll love them too!

For those of you who are worried about the format change, have no fear! I’ll be back to recipes in the next post. I’d like to make this list an occasional (bi-monthly? seasonally? whenever the mood strikes? we’ll see…) series though if it seems like some of you are interested.  It could be a fun way for you to find out about some new things or to discover I love the same things you do and we can gush about them together in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links

1.    Wonder by R.J. Palacio

You should read this book. It’s rare that I would recommend the same book to people of all ages and tastes, but this is for everyone. Wonder is a book about a boy named Auggie who was born with such a severe facial deformity that at the age of 10 he’s undergone 27 surgeries and he knows there are more in his future. Auggie has gotten used to pretending he doesn’t see the looks people give him or the comments made under their breaths, but he still sees and hears them. Until now his mother has homeschooled him but he’s about to start 5th grade at a brick and mortar school with other students. This book is the story of that school year from Auggie’s point of view as well as members of his family and his classmates.

This is not a book you read passively. This book makes you FEEL. Through the eyes of the characters you will experience fear, hope, hurt, excitement, betrayal, justice, injustice, pride and compassion. You will worry about the characters. You will get angry. You will feel touched. You will likely cry and likely cheer out loud. At the end of the book you will want to be a better person and you will want to share the book with others.

I really hope you read it.

2.    C25K

I used to run. I’ll never be super fast and I’ll probably never aim to run a marathon (though a half someday would be incredible!) but a couple years ago I actually enjoyed running. Then I stopped. Winter came along with snow and ice and it was less convenient and I just stopped. I’ve tried to get back into it a few times since then but usually it’s been extremely short-lived, mostly because it’s frustrating to be out of shape and so far away from what I used to be able to do! I’m sure at least a few of you can relate.

It was hard for me to bite the bullet and realize I needed a tool to keep me motivated, provide structure and ease me back into it. I downloaded the c25k app for my phone (there is only one official app, and it costs $1.99 to download – definitely worth it to me but there are some free knock offs out there as well!) because I’d heard a bunch about it before and almost everyone I know who used it in the past now runs much longer races and has stuck with running after the program is complete. C25k stands for “Couch to 5K” because you can start with a couch potato fitness level and presumably run a 5K 9 weeks later. The thing that drew me to it is that it uses a very similar technique to the one I used to build up to running in the first place a few years back. The app has you commit to 3 workouts a week and it instructs you to alternate between walking and jogging for predetermined intervals, jogging for longer amounts each week until you can straight-up jog. The first week you just have to be able to jog for 60 second intervals, with 90 seconds of walking in between. The second week the jogging increases to 90 seconds and the walking to 120, and so on.

I just finished my 5th week and I’m really excited about it right now. I was super nervous about my last workout because it was the first one running 20 minutes straight without walking intervals, but I was ready! Every time I’ve been worried I wasn’t ready for the next step up in c25k the app has been right and I did it. Twenty minutes may not seem like much to the distance runners out there, but it’s a big deal when you’re starting at couch! I am extra proud because it was raining out last night and I went out and did it anyway. Feels great!

The app is very easy to use. You can pick from several different “trainers” to give you vocal cues to switch between walking and jogging and the app will play music and playlists from elsewhere on your phone right through the app (which is super convenient). It tracks your route using your GPS ad gives you statistics afterward about your pace. It streamlines everything so that all you have to focus on is walking/jogging.

For anyone who wants to get into running (at any fitness level) but isn’t “a runner,” this is a great app to get you started. Has anyone else had success with C25K? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! I will definitely keep you all updated on my progress.

3.    Ipsy

 My September Bag: Cailyn Cosmetics Tinted Lip Balm in Big Apple, Elizabeth Mott It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara, NYX Eye Shadow in Charcoal, Starlooks Kohl Eye Pencil in Obsidian and Freeman Beauty Facial Paper Masks. Other subscribers last month received Butter Nail Polish, Chella Ivory Highlighter Pencil, POP Beauty Lip Crayon and more!

ipsy is a monthly subscription service that sends you a cosmetic bag full of makeup and beauty products (some full-size and some sample sized) for just $10 a month. I’ve been a subscriber since May and I’m hooked! I get overwhelmed in stores like Sephora or even in the beauty department at Target and it’s hard for me to spend a lot of money to try a new product if I’m not sure how it will look or whether I’ll like it. ipsy is perfect for me because they send 4-5 new products in each bag, so I can be a little adventurous and try some new things without shelling out a ton of money. Some of the items I’ve loved best so far are things I never would have tried on my own, and for only $10 a month if there’s something in the bag I don’t love it’s no big deal – I’m still getting my money’s worth! The products even come in a fun new cosmetic bag each month.

When you sign up for ipsy you take a quiz about your hair/skin types, coloring, etc and some of the products you receive are chosen based on your preferences. You can also provide feedback on the products you do receive which helps them make better choices for you. Sometimes there is a waiting list to join (because they need to make sure they’re getting enough products for everyone!) but it’s worth the wait. I get so excited each month when I see that shiny, bright pink envelope at my door! If you want to subscribe, you can join here. That’s my personal referral link, but I promise I am not including this just to win a free nail polish or whatever I get for referring a bunch of people. I’d just love to see if any of you decide to get on board!

4.    Ziploc Vacuum Freezer System

My fiancé positively gushed about the Ziploc Vacuum bags and pump for over a month before I finally checked them out. He even bought a freestanding chest freezer to accommodate all the new freezing he was doing. I wasn’t convinced that I could get as excited about freezer bags as he was, but I have to admit that these are pretty darn awesome. If you’re sick of freezing leftovers in regular bags or plastic containers only to find your food covered in snowy freezer burn and traditional vacuum sealers seem pricey and cumbersome, this may just be your solution!

The Ziploc system is easy to use and store and the starter kit (includes the pump and 3 quart-size bags) cost a little over $4 at Walmart. Boxes of additional bags (which come in quart or gallon sizes) are a little over $3. All you do is fill the bag with whatever you want to freeze (so far I’ve done soup, chicken breasts and ground turkey and my fiancé has done a ton of fresh vegetables to use throughout the winter) and then seal it up the way you would a normal Ziploc bag. Then you place the pump over a specifically marked area of the bag and give it a few pumps until the air is removed and the bag is suctioned around your contents. That’s it! Place it in the freezer and you’re done.

I’d thought about getting a fancy vacuum sealer, but I don’t really have the cupboard space and they can be several hundred dollars. So far these bags have been a perfect solution for me – check them out!

5.    Fall TV

Fall TV is back! My DVR is full again with all my favorite shows and I can’t wait to see what they have in store. A few of my favorites are below; let me know if you think there’s anything new I should watch and tell me what you’re watching this season!

Parks & Recreation (NBC, Thursdays at 8 EST)
This is probably my favorite show. If you’ve never watched it, the previous seasons are on Netflix, so what are you waiting for? I do have to warn you, the first season wasn’t amazing, but it’s only 6 episodes long and they worked out most of the kinks and retooled some of the characters in season two. This show gets better and better every season. The characters have become so well developed and lovable and the relationships between them are really well done. Every Leslie should have a Ben, every April should have an Andy, every office should have a Tom or a Donna and everyone on Earth should know a Ron Swanson. Just trust me, you want to watch this show.

The Mindy Project (FOX, Tuesdays at 9:30 EST)
After reading Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?” I knew that if only we could meet in real life, we would obviously be best friends. With this information in mind, when she got her own show last year I enthusiastically tuned in. Mindy plays a successful OB in NYC (also named Mindy) with a messy love life and complicated relationships with her co-workers. Mindy is the hilarious, smart, shallow but lovable girlfriend we all want to have. She’s a little self-centered, but she can always make you laugh and that makes it all worth it. Plus it comes on right after New Girl (which would also be on this list if I wasn’t so worried this post is already too long!).

Scandal (ABC, Thursdays at 10 EST)
Scandal is my guilty pleasure show, except I don’t even feel guilty about it. This show is packed with drama, sex, lies, murder, government conspiracy, political dealings, and well, scandal. It’s addicting. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a fixer. Basically, if you’re a VIP in Washington DC and you have a PR nightmare of epic proportions on your hands, Olivia is your girl. She can fix it, spin it or bury it faster than the press can keep up. She also happens to be the President’s secret mistress and former advisor. This show is a rollercoaster of twists and turns and you’re not going to want to get off. You’re in luck because the previous seasons of this show are also on Netflix! If you’re looking to get sucked into a guilty pleasure show that has a plot that’ll keep you on your toes, this is the one for you.

I’m always on the lookout for fun new things…tell me what you’re loving right now in the comments!

33 comments on “Things I’m Loving: October 2013”

  1. I just downloaded the book you recommended. I love to read anything so will give this a try as soon as I’m done the one I am on now.

    As for new shows this fall, I haven’t fallen in love with many yet. Witches of East End, Hostages and Blacklist are interesting so far, will give it a shot.I already gave up on Ironside and Betrayal. For sitcoms, The Crazy Ones, The Millers and The Goldbergs all seem funny so far. Not sure I will stick with the Michael J. Fox Show, it’s okay just not great. I really love Scandal, Revenge and Sons of Anarchy but you’d have to catch up on the last two since they are not on season 1.

    • You are going to love the book, Tracey! I’ve heard a few people say The Millers is good, so I’ll have to try to catch up on that one! I tried a couple episodes of the Michael J Fox show too but I also felt “meh” about it. I watched season 1 of Revenge but then I gave up on it because I had too many shows and that one just wasn’t one of my faves. I have heard amazing things about Sons of Anarchy – I’m going to go search around and see if I can find the past episodes anywhere based on your recommendation, so thank you!

      Let me know how you like the book 🙂

    • I started the book last night and could not put it down. It grabs you from Chapter 1 and makes you want to keep reading. Love it so far, will likely finish it today. Thanks for the great suggestion.

  2. I ordered ipsy last month. Waiting on my first arrival. Hope I enjoy it as much as you:)

    • I hope you do too! The wait always feel like forever each month, but I can see what I’m getting on the web site and my bag looks awesome this month. Let me know what you think!

  3. I LOVE The Mindy Project. I just was introduced to Super Fun Night on ABC and that one is really funny as well. I also subscribe to Ipsy, but my favorite subscription is the PopSugar Must Have box. More expensive but well worth it! Let me know if you want a referral link! 😉

    • Well, if you love The Mindy Project you clearly have fabulous taste, so I will definitely look into Super Fun Night – thanks! I’ve also never heard of the PopSugar box, but I will go look it up now and if I decide to order I will def use your link. Go ahead and post it in case anyone else reads this and wants to sign up too!

    • Yay, thanks for letting me post the link! Here it is: http://popsu.gr/tkk.

  4. Love this feature! I think this post gave me the kick I needed to get back into running and I think C25K will be a great tool!

    • Oh yay, I’m so glad this is getting a good response! I was nervous that there would be crickets, haha. c25k is awesome; it is turning me back into a runner and a few weeks ago that was nowhere in sight. You can do it! 🙂

  5. You have got to watch The Millers!!!! Very funny!!!

  6. That book sounds Interesting. I want to join ipsy. I never knew it existed and it sounds like a great way to try new products. I hate wasting money on something I end up nt liking.

    • You should definitely check out the book, it’s amazing. I couldn’t agree more about not wanting to pay $$ for a product that I might hate after one use. You definitely get your money’s worth with ipsy. I signed up for a year, but you can pay month-to-month to try it out and see if you like it.

    • what kind of products have you gotten? anything Neutrogena?

    • No Neutrogena, but a huge assortment of brands and products. You can check out ipsy.com to see everything that has been in past bags!

  7. ‘Wonder’ looks like it would be a great read, but heartbreaking at times I’m sure. I read something similar that is based on a true story, “Autobiography of a Face.” I don’t remember details, but I think she had jaw cancer. I would check it out for a similar tale, if you’re interested 🙂 And also, Mindy’s book?! I hear mixed things and I’m trying to decide who to read first in the Ellen/Tina Fey/Mindy book categories. Have you read those other ones?

    • I will definitely check that out, I’m always looking for new books to read! I haven’t read Tina’s or Ellen’s, though I m sure they’re both amazing. Mindy’s nook is kind of random, but I personally loved it because she’s just very real and my kind of person. It pains me that we’re not best friends in real life, haha.

  8. I read the book this summer… it is AWESOME! One of my favorites!! I plan on reading it to my middle school students this year. The other books I have read and loved: The Fault in our Stars by John Green… The One and Only Ivan (written from the point of view of a Gorilla) …. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I could go on and on.

    Oh… and I LOVE Scandal…. I just discovered it last weekend. I watched season 1 & 2 on Netflix. I had some very late nights and very tired days that week! I’m all caught up and can’t wait for Thursday. AMAZING!

    • This would be a PERFECT book to read with your students – I’m so glad you’re doing that!! I also loved the Divergent series (I am a major sucker for YA dystopian series), but I haven’t read the other two. I will add them to my Goodreads list! Thanks, you obviously have awesome taste, so i’m excited to check them out.

      Also, OMG Scandal. This show is so addicting. I’m glad you binge watched the first two seasons, that’s my favorite way to watch anything, haha. Usually when I watch TV I am also doing something on my computer, or making a shopping list or some other distraction, but Scandal always gets my undivided attention.

      Do you want to be best friends with me and Mindy Kaling someday when I can make that happen?

  9. Parks & Rec is my fave, too! I think last week’s ep where they all met their Eagleton counterparts is an instant classic.

    I enjoyed reading this different type of post!

    • Hahaha, April and her valley girl doppelganger just about killed me. And hippie Ron! I love it. I was surprised Leslie wasn’t more “IN YOUR FACE, EAGLETON!” about their city dissolving. Maybe next week if any of them are still there. Craig is my new favorite character.

      I’m so glad you liked this post! I definitely think I’m going to do it again, because it seems like it was a surprise hit! 🙂

  10. Gotta love the typo on the episode description in that screen shot. “As they divorce becomes final”? lol

  11. I used one of the free knockoff C25k apps but it sounds like I should have just paid the $1.99 as this one looks like it has a lot more features (the GPS/pace feature seems extra nice!)

    I have been a Birchbox subscriber for a while now (sounds kinda like ipsy) and I am hooked on that as well!

    • The pace feature is awesome! In my workout history I can see which one was my best pace and which was my best distance, so I’m always trying to beat at least one. I haven’t tried any of the free ones but I’m sure some are better than others.

      I have a couple friends who do Birchbox and it seems like they’re very similar. Getting that package in the mail every month gets me really excited – I’m such a dork. Haha.

  12. The book sounds good and will have to give it a try. As for my fav fall shows I love the voice and biggest loser. Guess you could say I’m a realty show kinda person but not to leave out my addiction to Greys anatomy for 10 seasons now lol. As for C25k I personally loved zin labs for apple and droid which was free. It told me when to walk and jog while I could play music in the back. It doesn’t do GPS but Nike+ is free for that too. I didn’t run before this app and it def. gave me confidence to take my slow poke self out there. I’m not fast and I would compare myself to a turtle but I’ve done 4 5k,s since and love the accomplishment. I rewarded myself by making me sign up for one at the end of the program which I recommend because you then realize just how far you came. zen labs has a free 10k one too and starts from no running and builds up for 14 weeks.

  13. I love Scandal, but I tried watching both Parks and Rec and Mindy and both of those shows failed to make me laugh – they just weren’t funny. Maybe I should check out season 2 of P&R on Netflix if you think the problem is season 1?

  14. This was AWESOME!!! I signed up for a Glam Bag. I LOVE happy mail instead of getting bills and junk. I am EXCITED!!!!

  15. Yay – what a great list! I completed c25k w 6, d3 today – and I went from HATING running, and really barely being able to go for much time at all at the beginning to doing a 22 minute STRAIGHT jog / run today. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have always HATED running – and I still don’t necessarily LIKE it….. but I am feeling accomplished AND definitely seeing results (combined with WW) 🙂 Already seriously talking about / planning what I will do after this is complete, as I don’t want to just settle back into the “couch Kim” 🙂

  16. I just found out about your site and love it!!! I will request that book from the library, it looks good and maybe I will not feel sorry for myself about my surgery in December. I am currently obsessed with Netflix and watch it all the time (even at work on my lunch). I watched the entire Breaking Bad episodes and am currently on Orange is the New Black.

  17. I had done the C25K program and it was great. After I completed it I signed up for my first official 5K—I am hooked! I was never a runner in my younger years…but at age 50 just completed my first 1/2 marathon! Not fast, but was able to “run” the entire thing. WHAT A FEELING!! I would definitely recommend signing up for a race-it is AMAZING when you cross that finish line 🙂

  18. LOVE ipsy!!!! just for the little bags alone sometimes! Got a great anti humidity hair serum last month that is serious just amazing and some butter lip gloss which I’m already hooked on 🙂

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