July 2017 Favorites

Do you ever have those times that go by, where nothing occurs as planned? 

That really would probably be the theme of my life, but if we want to tack it down to July 2017, I would say the above sentiment describes the month perfectly. 

To say I had a lot of goals I wanted to accomplish this July would be an overstatement, but I was really looking forward to working more on my blog, honing in one some other creative ambitions, and focusing hard on what was most important to me - which is my faith, my family, my friends, and doing good things for other people. 

Instead, I was wrapped up inside of my head, and trapped by things I don't normally talk about on my blog that I deal with constantly - anxiety and depression. [not exactly a cheery subject, ya know?]

It's been really hard the last month or so. Some days have been harder than others. But slowly, I can feel myself rising out of the funk. I'm adjusting to Molly, the new family puppy I talked about last month, and trying hard to find a new normal with changing work schedules and heavier work loads for my husband and I both. Life is not static, it's ever changing. And while I LONG fervently to be one of those people who goes with the flow effortlessly, I have to stop and remember that just because my mind and body does not like to adapt in a normal fashion, I can recognize it for what it is - beyond my control. I have to be gracious to myself. I need to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. 

My list of favorites for July is short. Honestly, in the middle of my muddled mind, it was hard to pull out things during the month that were enjoyable or seemed "good enough". But these few things stand out. They were small pleasures and reprieves in the midst of a private, internal war. 

I hope and pray every day that August will be less tumultuous and more enjoyable. I am trying new things that I want to blog about - the [slightly modified] Whole30 beginning this month would be the biggest thing. I want to tell you all about my recent Asheville trip, and all about my plans for the upcoming Fall season. But for my own sanity, I'm keeping my expectations at a minimum, for the blog and my life. August will be what it will be - and I have to make the choice to remind myself every day that it can be good, if I will let it. 

Now, after that very long and honest commentary, here's my favorites for July 2017! 

"You Must Remember This" Podcast

I have a boring desk job [a good one, but it's boring], and I have discovered that podcasts REALLY make the time go by a lot faster! This whole thing started with True Crime Garage [as mentioned in my May favorites], and from then I have tried to branch out into other topics of interest. However, finding podcasts I like has been harder than I thought it would be. Seems like I can often stumble my way through a book that's not very well written, but I'll easily find fault with the way a podcast is structured, or the poor narrator's voice, or that the story or discussion is awkwardly executed or terribly dry. So when I found this particular podcast, I was over the moon - especially when there's so many episodes available to catch up on!

I loved the MGM series on the "You Must Remember This" Podcast. I listen via the Itunes Podcast app. 

I loved the MGM series on the "You Must Remember This" Podcast. I listen via the Itunes Podcast app. 

A well-spoken woman who loves vintage Hollywood, Karina Longworth, writes and narrates "You Must Remember This" with great prose and detail. While it seems out in left field and very specific, the podcast focuses on the history of Hollywood in it's first century. There are so many stories to tell that I knew nothing of! 

The first series I listened to was about the popular era of the movie-making mega giant, MGM. This series contains 14 episodes, and each episode runs for about 45 minutes, so there was hours of content to listen to. There was lots of tidbits about old Hollywood actor's lives, the movies that were made during the 30's and 40's, and the ideas, lives, and innuendos of the headliners who ran MGM in it's infancy. It was so well written, and the stories were fascinating! The whole podcast has really got me back into vintage fashion and the eras of the World Wars. [This is just how my mind works, and it's quite a ride!]

The stories told on "You Must Remember This" contain some adult content and salacious quotes, so it's definitely only suitable for older teens and adults. If you don't get interested in history from or around that era, or you aren't interested in old Hollywood glamour, or you can't really get into long stories about people you will never know -- then this podcast is not for you. But if you enjoy old movies, historical culture events, and the lives and times of diverse people, you'll want to check this podcast out, post haste!

Fireworks & 4th of July

I always have illusions of grandeur in my head when it comes to holidays. I have great memories of holidays gone by, and yes, I am very tied to nostalgia. But another reason I love holidays is because it's specifically taking time of daily life to celebrate something different than the "norm". That seems very special, considering how special that time can be.

Sparklers! I used to be really scared of these, but I've grown more brave in my "old" age :) 

Sparklers! I used to be really scared of these, but I've grown more brave in my "old" age :) 

4th of July is no exception. America is an amazing, blessed country and deserves to be recognized for its many capabilities. The hallmark of 4th of July is fireworks. I used to HATE fireworks when I was young because I hated loud noises.  There was just something about the sudden boom of fireworks that used to send me into fear flight. And while I'm still easily startled in my adulthood, I have moved past the fear of fireworks and learned to appreciate the beauty of those fiery colors against a black sky. 

The fireworks were so beautiful! 

The fireworks were so beautiful! 

This year, some of my family and I were able to watch a great fireworks show put on by our local water park. It was one of the best shows I had ever seen! Lots of different colors and bursts, and lasted for about 25 minutes. Before the fireworks show commenced, we lit sparklers and my brother-in-law set off some small fireworks. We had the best time! Next year we are going to set up early, tail gate style, and make it a 4th of July "thing". 

Did I mention holidays are the best? 

Historical Fiction TV: Mercy Street & Poldark

On a recent, rare day off from work, I indulged in some binge tv watching therapy. I finally was able to watch the 2nd season of Mercy Street, a historical drama show from PBS. I binged hardcore and watched the entire 6 or so episodes of season 2 all in one day! Mercy Street was centered around a hospital ran during the Civil War - I say "was", because I found out the day after my binge that PBS cancelled the show due to funding issues. I was so very sad! The show was amazing. The actors and setting were superb, the content interesting and historically accurate. Such a disappointment. Still, it would be worth your time to watch seasons 1 and 2 and appreciate it for what it is! 

Josh Radnor is amazing in Mercy Street. And hott!

Josh Radnor is amazing in Mercy Street. And hott!

Another great show I love that is set in a historical time period is Poldark. Based on a large book series by Winston Graham, this BBC show from across the pond is pretty popular. I had not finished watching season [or, "series", in British terms] 2, and so I recently wrapped it up. The plot is continuously twisting and turning in dramatics, and the time period the story is set in [late 1700s] is my very favorite. For a hopeless romantic such as myself, it's a great show.

Aiden Turner is amazing in Poldark. And also hott. 

Aiden Turner is amazing in Poldark. And also hott. 

Both Poldark and Mercy Street can be found on Amazon Prime for free!  

Nena Moreno's Vintage Style

....and my obsession with vintage continues! Besides the podcast above, and the whole post I wrote on modern vintage items, I have found other places to relish in my love for the past. I found this beautiful lady on my Instagram suggestions one day this past month. Nena Moreno specializes in vintage hairstyles and makeup, and has so many great instructural videos that can be found on YouTube. I love her Instagram videos because they are brief and simple. It's so neat to watch how she creates these beautiful looks and how she is able to transform herself over and over! 

Here is my favorite look of hers that I've seen so far: 

Here is a link to her Instagram account! 

Butter Pecan Iced Coffee Dunkin Donuts

Time for honesty - I don't care much for Dunkin Donuts coffee. I am very picky when it comes to my cup of jo. My husband calls me a coffee snob, but I prefer to think of it is as just being selective. Life is too short to drink crappy coffee! 

Coined as "old fashioned" butter pecan in this scrumptious iced coffee.

Coined as "old fashioned" butter pecan in this scrumptious iced coffee.

Except for on Sundays, apparently. Our town's local, amazing coffee shop, Baxter's Coffee, is closed on Sundays, and so in an effort to caffeinate ourselves adequately, my husband and I went around the drive thru at Dunkin. It wasn't hard to choose the drink that was prominently displayed on the side of the menu, which was a current special - butter pecan iced coffee.

So good on a miserably hot summer day! 

So good on a miserably hot summer day! 

I didn't have many expectations, but it actually turned out to be very nice! It was smooth, flavorful, and really tasted of butter pecan! Even though I would say it's a "bit much" for like a morning breakfast coffee [it's pretty sweet], it was perfect for a treat on a hot afternoon. I've had another one since, and decided this was very much worth mentioning on my favorites. However, I suspect they may be limited edition - so try it while you can! 

Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation

I don't think there is any more grievous of a sin in the world of makeup than not using a good foundation for your skin type. It can be quite a search to find the perfect one. I have tried out probably 30+ in my life time, no joke. Some have worked adequately, most have been flops - and then there's those 3 or 4 that I always come back around to. Those I know are tried and true, sitting well on my skin while not breaking me out, not rubbing off within 2 hours, or running down my face the second a humid Kentucky day arrives [which is basically every day in summer]. 

This is one of those amazing foundations that I am so impressed with! 

Glides on smooth, lasts ALL DAY! 

Glides on smooth, lasts ALL DAY! 

I first bought this last year to try out after seeing the raves it was recieving in the beauty world. Not only was it long lasting and full coverage, but it was SO CHEAP, at around $6.99. I think I wore it once, but the shade I picked, Ivory 100, was too dark. [There is a lighter shade, Light Ivory 080] I tried to mix it to be wearable, but decided ultimately that my old standby, Revlon Colorstay Whipped, was a better bet, and abandoned it all together.

Flash forward a year later, and the Revlon Colorstay Whipped is hard to find [I think it's being discontinued?], and was currently using the trial versions of the IT Cosmetics CC cream that I wrote about in my June Favorites post, mixed in with a little bit of Too Faced Born This Way foundation to make those samples stretch farther. I am obsessed with the CC cream - but a full size is so pricey at $40! I knew there probably wasn't a dupe for the CC cream, because it so packed full of so many good, anti-aging ingredients for the skin. But I remembered the Rimmel foundation had some of the same characteristics - full coverage, long long lasting [25 hour claim!] AND had SPF in it, like the CC cream. So I whipped it back out, and luckily my summer tan made it just the right shade! 

I've worn it the entire week and it's been so great! It hasn't broken me out and it truly does last a very long time - if I put it on at 6 in the morning, by the time I go to bed that night around 11, it is still sitting well on the main parts of my face. It's lightweight, moisturizing without being greasy, and blends so well! They have so many shades and it's so very affordable! If you enjoy high coverage foundations and are in the market to try a new one, you can't go wrong just buying a bottle. Chances are you will enjoy it, and if not, you're only out $5 instead of $50! 

Stubbs Red Pepper Beef Marinade

This is another one of those products that is not a recent find, but we have been enjoying it much more lately! With summer in full swing, there's not much better than a nice steak from the grill. While we do enjoy a "naked" steak every now and then [mine drenched in A1 sauce], we have been marinading some cheaper cuts of steak with this deliciousness and enjoying the results! It is, hands down, my new favorite marinade - slightly edging out the Island Soyaki from Trader Joe's [which is also highly recommended!]. It is bold and slightly sweet. There is red pepper flakes in the marinade, but I wouldn't say it makes the beef spicy by any means. More than anything, I feel like the marinade gives the meat a very "steakhouse" flavor.

So good. It's red pepper, but it is not spicy! 

So good. It's red pepper, but it is not spicy! 

Luckily, we found bottles of this marinade at Aldi's on sale for $1.50 at the end of June [they are regularly around $4 at Kroger], and we bought 3 bottles - all they had left. I think we only have 1 left in the pantry! If you like to grill, try this out! 

So there is it, my favorites for July! Here's hoping for new and more fun experiences and favorites in August! 

What was your favorite thing from July? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!