One thing I will never tire of is hearing about people’s favorite things! Hopefully, if you are reading this, you feel the same.

Below are a few things that I have either been enjoying lately or relying on throughout the year. It was a weird year, and I have a feeling that things are only going to get weirder. I’m not sure if I want to say “get weirder before they even out” because most of the time I don’t think that’s possible anymore.

But it was a weird year in good ways, too. I wrote my second book (just working on image permissions at this point!) and I just signed a contract for my third. I was interviewed on four podcasts despite swearing up and down that I was never ever going to be on a podcast! I started a little TikTok account after proclamations that I hated TikTok and that I WOULD NEVER! Chances are, if I say I’m never going to do something, the universe will present me with a reason or an opportunity to do that very thing within the next 24 hours. I never learn my lesson! (According to this logic, all lessons be learned by tomorrow??)

Anyway, 2021 was a mixed bag. I’m still here. I’m glad that you are too. In honor of mixed bags, here’s some stuff. Just a total jumble of things, no theme tying anything together, and everything mixed up in no particular order!


Celestial Seasonings Fast Lane Tea
. I haven’t drunk Celestial Seasonings teas since I was a kid. Nothing wrong with them, I guess I was just seduced by the variety of options available nowadays and never bothered to revisit them. But I had several boxes of their Fast Lane tea – a lightly spiced black tea- thrust upon me, and it’s actually very good. I think there may be an extra kick of caffeine in it, and the spices are very subtle, more of a fragrance than a taste, and it’s a really lovely treat in the afternoon with the Silk “oatmeal cookie” Oat Creamer.
We’ve taken to having a mid-afternoon tea break and treat around 2-3 pm most days and this is really perfect for that. Serve with a cardamom bun or a slice of lavender tea bread!

Lavido Hand Lotion I already love the thick, nourishing version for feet, and this mildly musky coconut-scented hand cream is perfect to keep at my desk.

Jadeywadey180  I love watching videos where people are pampered. Massages, scalp scratches, even chiropractic videos! And of course, facials and skincare treatments. On Jadeywadey180’s channel, she once mentioned that you really need to massage your cleanser into your skin for at least 30 seconds for it to even begin to be effective. Now I don’t know if that’s true and I am not here to debate anyone, but I did start doing that and it feels amazing, so I think that’s reason enough to continue.

Christophe Robin Regenerative Hair Mask I love this luxuriously goopy stuff. It makes my hair super soft and it smells like a silent film star’s vanity table.

Molton Brown Geranium Nefertum shower gel is not exactly similar to my stupid expensive favorite Oud Wood shower gel from Tom Ford but they’re on similar wavelengths. A sort of rich, woody scent, balanced with moss and fig, perked up with pepper. It’s a dashing ghostly scoundrel of ascent and at $32 it’s still not cheap for a bottle of squirty shower shit, but it’s also not Oud Wood’s $75 price tag.

Some pieces from Universal Standard: these Universal Standard Stephanie wide leg striped pants which are sort of replacing my linen Swayers from STATE the Label because they are falling apart and for some reason, STATE refuses to make more of these plain black pants. Come on, guys! Pretty please!? Also, these bike shorts, which honestly are sort of amazing. From the fit to the feel to the side pocket for my phone, they are excellent. I also picked up this waffle-knit lounge set in a dusty rose-lavender-oatmeal color, and it’s comfy and cozy as heck and I strangely love this light neutral color and am looking for reasons to incorporate more of it into my wardrobe.

Here’s that color again, sort of! I was gifted an older Apple Watch from my BGF after they upgraded to a newer version, and I surprisingly loved it. It was a nice opportunity to try it out before making that sort of investment, and I probably would have just continued using it, but it wasn’t really charging very well, and it wasn’t super responsive after awhile. I purchased a new one and I was going to get a lavender band to accompany it, but somehow I ended up actually liking the band that was included with it. Sarah of 2017 would be aghast. *waves to old-Sarah from across time*

Le Bon socks I first saw these last year in Rachel Symes New Yorker gift guide in 2020 and I pooh-poohed them because I am obsessed with cute socks, and these are … not that cute. But my kawaii animal and anime character socks are often cheaply made and then and fall apart and I’ve been rethinking about what it is exactly that I expect from my cozy foot tubules. The socks from Le Bon are a bit utilitarian-looking in muted colors, no bright novelty prints here. But they do offer an extremely soothing sole swaddle, so I’m sold.

When I walk for exercise my toes flail and flounder aggressively, which results in holes being poked in the top of my shoes. Someone suggested to me that I need sneakers with a wider toe box, and after doing a little research (you know, reading like 2.5 reviews) I decided upon the Topo Athletic Zero Drop Magnifly 3…which I think is actually a running shoe, but that’s fine. Or at least it seems to be fine. I don’t know, I am not a shoe or foot or much-of-anything expert! They’re really comfortable and they’ve held up quite well. I purchased these in June and nary a toe hole in sight! With the previous pair, I’d managed to breach the top of the shoe in less than three months, so this is good news.

This adorable little glass cup is just the sweetest thing and makes me unreasonably happy. I had a tiny matcha latte in it one day and a little whiskey soda the next evening. Wheee!

Then there is this neutral color open-front cardigan from Cotton Emporium that’s getting pretty ratty because I wear it nearly every day. With dresses, with jeans and old metal or horror tees, with my pajamas when I wake up on a chilly morning–I wear it with everything. Does it go with everything? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, no one said that. I originally got this one from Stitchfix but I am fairly certain it is no longer available. This is the exact one that someone was selling over on tradesy a while ago. It’s really nothing special, just perfectly worn-in, and somehow both lightweight and cozy. Another piece that has been getting a lot of mileage these past few months is this mustard-colored tunic dress from Toast.

Recipe inspiration from two unlikely places: Nami’s YouTube channel & The Salad Lab on TikTok. Nami is a single woman living in Japan and her 20-30 minute videos often follow her over the course of a weekend while she documents the meals she prepares, tidying her home, small crafts, and occasional peeks at her neighborhood grocery shopping trips or visits to cafes to meet up with local friends. I usually watch this while I am knitting a simple project (it’s subtitled, so I partially need to pay attention!) and I love to see her go about her quiet, creative days. I especially enjoy Nami’s imaginative approach in the kitchen, where she often cooks simple meals using unexpected combinations of ingredients. In The Salad Lab, saladologist (I made that word up) Darlene “creates fabulous salads every day” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A brief minute or two long video of some disembodied hands making a variety of salads. I love salads! So I get a lot of ideas here, too. 

Also, I learned that you can shred chicken in your kitchen aid in less than 30 seconds with the paddle attachment. Now granted, I didn’t spend a lot of time shredding chicken with just two forks and elbow grease–that’s too much work!– but now that I know that I don’t have to do it that way…!

Sopor from Twilight Alchemy Lab is a pillowy sleep blend with notes of lavender, vanilla, chamomile, and blue tansy and its  gentle, aromatic lullaby has earned a position of prominence on my nighttime dream shelf.

Ok. So. While these two fragrances I’ve chosen to share here are not exactly my *favorite* scents this year, they are the scents that surprised me the most with how much I’ve enjoyed them. Also, I realize that I often write about perfumes that are not easily accessible; they’ve either been discontinued, or they’re prohibitively expensive, or hard to get one’s hands on, for whatever reason. I thought instead I might mention two fragrances that are fairly easy to find and accessible– in terms of purchasing a bottle, and also that neither of them are really challenging scents. I’ve already written reviews for both Hanae Mori and Glossier’s You, but I will share them both below again, in case you missed them!

I first learned of Hanae Mori on a blog that I was pretty obsessed with, back in the early 2000s. This person wasn’t a perfume enthusiast or fashionista, or even a popular blogger as far as I could tell…she seemed to be a gentle quiet weirdo, like me. She had a goth Betty Page bob and she did something in tech and updated sporadically about her little Seattle apartment. I thought she was the coolest. When I began to really delve into fragrances a few years later, I recall her mentioning this one in passing, and so sought out a sample. I was disappointed at how ordinary it seemed. Twenty years later I quite disagree with past me! Hanae Mori is a perfectly lovely woody vanilla and creamy, milky musk with hints of dusty dried grass and the airy green tang of blackberry leaves. A lot of reviewers mention fruit, but I don’t get any of that at all. If you enjoy the sweet comfort and nostalgic 90’s whispers of Vanilla Fields or the bitter Miss Havisham melancholia of Fleur Cachee, I’d say this scent falls squarely in the middle and I am surprisingly obsessed with it.

Glossier’s You is a scent I really had no intention of ever buying, but then my curiosity got the best of me. A minor point: I hate this bottle, it’s dreadful. It looks like a small pink blandly Cronenbergian lump of quivering flesh. I can, however, get over that, because as it turns out and much to my surprise…I actually really love what’s inside the horrid skin sack of a bottle. It’s possible that I had very low expectations because I don’t like any of Glossier’s other products and also because I am maybe a snob. But I really don’t mind being wrong! Okay, I am a Taurus and I hate being wrong! But I make an exception for perfume. You is a wonderful melding of this chilly, ghostly delicate iris musk and a warm, woody, sturdy peachy amber quietly enveloped in a crystalline psychic glow of pink pepper and you kind of wonder how these notes got together but then you think of Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus and it all just makes perfect sense. Yes, this is a queer classic anime power couple of a scent and I absolutely adore it.

Books. Always. Words have always been my dearest, staunchest companions, and this year I read a lot of good ones! I challenged myself to read 50 books this year, which I realize is not a lot for people who tend to read a lot, but I surpassed my goal at a current number of 55 and if I can finish Stephen Graham Jones’ My Heart Is A Chainsaw by the end of the day, it will be 56! (I probably won’t.) My two favorite from this year are books that I inadvertently read back to back and which have some similar themes in common: death, loss, grief, and food: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner and The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan.

Music: I’ve been remiss in recent years in keeping my ear to the ground for new and incredible music, but I will say I’ve been immensely enjoying Japanese Breakfast, both their newest release, Jubilee and basically everything else, too. And lots of Matt Berry, of course.

Watching: Both the ridiculousness and stunning costumery of The Great and the dreamy absurdity and upsetting realism of Atlanta. We also just binged S2 of The Witcher, which, although I enjoyed it, it kinda seemed like we were playing the video game this season. Do I need to read the books? Hm.

At just 12 hours until 2022, I am attempting to watch a handful of horror/esque/ish/adjacent movies I meant to watch before the end of the year. I have seen In the Earth, Possessor, and Censor (my favorite so far) and I am going to try and fit in Last Night in Soho and Titane before the night is over. Wish me luck!

 

I have glamorous aspirations, but in reality, I am pretty much the opposite of glamour. Despite all the makeup I have lying around, I barely wear any of it, unless I am going to make a little video for YouTube (which …isn’t that often), or else I have to leave the house for a special occasion. Which is also not often, or ever really, nowadays. On a daily basis, the only thing I do after morning skincare stuff is sunscreen and the most minimal of eyebrow stuff. I basically just want to make sure they are all going in the same direction, to be honest with you. I’ve been using this brow butter and styling gel from Saie, and it’s ok. It does the job. I think I just really like the packaging.

I do try to sneak a little glamour in with some daily jewels and the magics of the Face of the Oracle pendant from Atelier Narcé have been clasped around my neck more often than not throughout the week.

Paintbox Soapworks is a perpetual favorite in our household. Here are some of their wintry offerings that we are currently enjoying…

Honorable mentions include: my library card, which has really gotten a workout this year in accessing their digital collections // Stasher silicone bags which have been great to help with cutting down on plastic baggie usage (and another shoutout to Swedish dishcloths as a paper towel alternative!) // all of the friends, family, and acquaintances who have checked in on me during what I feel have been several near meltdowns over the past few months // finally accepting the idea that at 45 years old I don’t have to suffer unnecessarily, and maybe medication for depression and anxiety is an option worth exploring…I have been on it for 4 days now, go me! Better living through chemistry! // art and poetry, always // Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which was a perfect superhero movie // on a related note, I am happy to see that Michelle Yeoh is just about everywhere I look nowadays, and I don’t think I have ever been as excited to see a movie as I am Everything Everywhere All At Once

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Taking inspiration from the Needful Things series that we shared on a quarterly or semi-annual basis over at Haute Macabre….since things are slowing down over there, I thought I would give the installment a new home over at Unquiet Things. In that vein, here are some needful things in the form of spring favorites! ! From mundane to marvelous, below I am sharing all the stuff I love lately. Alternately (or, both, if you wish, I have also shared a version of this over on youtube!

Shower caddy shelves. My shower toiletries were just sitting on the edge of the tub, the bottoms coated with dust that becomes that disgusting wet glunk. It’s unsightly and gross and I am a million times happier after discovering that I could just put them on a shelf. These are just the stick-on-the-wall kind, and I was able to figure it out for myself, so it must have been pretty easy. Also this little tiered countertop organizer, which doesn’t exactly fit on my sink quite the way I had envisioned it, I mean god forbid I ever measure anything, but it definitely helps organize my clutter.

Mate The Label boxy tee. Ok, so these tee shirts overpriced but really nice, and they’re organic and sustainable and all that. There’s something about these shirts I really love, but it’s not the price, which is sort of ridiculous. I think it’s actually the necklines, which are raw and uneven and that might drive some people nuts, but my big head stretches out necklines anyway, so it’s like these guys have already done the work for me.

Stitch Fix floral tops I can’t count how many times I said I was done with Stitch Fix’s subscription boxes and for a while there, I really was, I swear! But this past year they switched their business model up a bit and instead of just offering you a box where a stranger picks some things out for you, they have started curating a little shop of outfits for you that changes throughout the day. Nine times out of ten it’s nothing I want but I’m afraid I’ve become a little bit addicted to peeking in to see if they’ve got the *perfect* floral top for me. Now I am not sure what this perfect,top even looks like, but I will know it when I see it, and as I’m a bit obsessed with florals in general, I’ve picked a few “not quite perfect but I like it anyway” pieces along the way.

Bookkeepers butter hand and cuticle salve from Paintbox Soapworks Packed with nourishing shea butter & a panoply of skin-pampering oils, this little jar is a lovely little treat for your grubby little mitts, and I love the smell of the herbal floral lavender natural oils, it makes me feel like I am getting a manicure and hand treatment from a gentle hobbit in the Shire.

Two fragrances that I have been wearing frequently this spring are both from indie perfumers: Antoinette, a zingy candied floral from Seance Perfume, and The Queen of May a limited edition scent from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and a riotous jumble of wildflower blossoms with a dusty heart of vanilla musk.

Kur nail polish + Smokin Hot for the past year I have basically been wearing two colors on my nails. This mushroomy purple-grey that reminds me of the gills on the underside of a fungi with the epic name of Amethyst Deceiver, and actually I wish that were the name of the product, but it’s not. It’s got the very basic name of Smokin’ Hot and it’s from Essie. Also Kur, an “illuminating nail concealer” , which reminds me very much of the creepy seer’s eyes from The Beyond.

Ever since the big chop earlier this year, now that I can finally see my ears, I have reverted back to my childhood love of massive earrings,I found a few inexpensive pairs of silver hoops on Etsy that have been in heavy rotation lately. I love the details and shapes of these two in particular. They’re not too crazy, but I think they’re still pretty and unique. 1st pair of silver earrings and second pair of silver earrings. Also Sacred Hearts from Rosita Bonita, Amparo Rosary from Vanessa Mooney, as well as earrings from Arcana Obscura, Under the Pyramids, and Bloodmilk.

I always keep a notebook and a pen nearby when I’m engrossed in a book. Whether it’s to jot down an unfamiliar word or turn of phrase, to capture a sentiment that particularly ensnared my heart or set my imagination alight, or make notes on this, that or the other interesting tidbit or topic for further research, I have found my book notes absolutely essential to deepening my experience of and engagement a story while I’m reading it. Equally as important, I revisit the thoughts and words I’ve recorded in this little grimoire of poetics for inspiration in my own writing when I am working on various projects. The notebook I am currently using is about 3/4 full, so inspired by an Instagram friend, I found another one that I’ll keep waiting in the wings until I need it.

This Hilma af Klint phone case to match the cover of my book, created by virtuoso of big glitter energy, Sparkledome Studio, is perhaps the most frivolous purchase I have ever made, and I don’t care. I LOVE IT.

Conversely, this little power strip/cube/whatever is not glamorous. I have devices scattered all over the house in search of unused outlets to charge them, and it’s never occurred to me to get a little multi-plugger-inner thing. It’s not very exciting, so there’s not much to say about it, but it’s nice to have the stuff I frequently use throughout the day plugged in and conveniently charging next to me, as opposed, to say, next to the toilet in the bathroom at the other end of the house.

I am always looking for somewhere to stash my knitting when I’m not working on it (otherwise it’s just strewn haphazardly across my desk) and this project bag from my friend Erica’s shop is just the perfect size and shape for just about everything I am working on. The vintage floral fabric makes my heart sing every time I catch a glimpse of it.

Milk Bread As long as I’ve been an adult with a kitchen to call my own I have been trying to bake bread and for a long time, they were mostly sad loaves of failure. I think I’ve really only begun to see success in the past 5 years or so and funny enough, the best loaf of bread I have ever made was whipped into creation last week…using a foolproof recipe that probably would have guaranteed me perfection a long, long time ago. This would be the plush, pillowy Japanese Milk bread. This is undoubtedly the exact opposite of all of the sourdough I have been making lately in that I feel sourdough is a real tough-love sort, bare bones of project, it only gets so much to work with and build on. Whereas milk bread, you got your full-fat milk, the addition a significant amount of sugar and a whole bunch of butter, and how is that even going to go wrong? The answer is that it doesn’t. If you’ve had bread problems, make this recipe and you’ll feel like a genius.

Joshua Weissman’s Tikka Masala is probably the most delicious recipe for this dish that I have ever tried, but his YouTube videos are kind of cringey and obnoxious and hard to watch. Luckily you can find the recipe on his blog, as well.

Daily Walks to look at “nature”; Every day, around 3 o’clock or so, Yvan and I take a walk outside and around the house to peek in on the growing and movings of the seedlings and sprouts and flowers and bees and all of the other daily dramas that take place in our backyard. We don’t live on an estate or anything (ha!) just a small house in the suburbs, but we’re hunched in front of our computers all day and it’s so nice to take a moment, stretch our limbs, get some fresh air, and look at bugs and lizards.

Poetic Remedies for Troubled Times: from Ask Baba Yaga I’ve been reading and rereading both books of enchanting advice from Russian American poet Taisia Kitaiskaia, who writes from the perspective of Russia’s most infamous witch, Baba Yaga. My dear friend Sonya, also a Russian poet, has written on how this folkloric entity is both benevolent and dangerous, and ultimately more unpredictable than evil–and that’s exactly how these wildly imaginative missives read. Beautifully and compellingly unpredictable. These books would make the most delicious gifts for your most daydreamy, whimsical friends.

Gaylords of Darkness has all the trappings of something I might hate if I am being honest. My least favorite kind of podcast or any interaction, really, is when two friends’ conversation devolves into tangents and inside jokes and it’s awkward and makes me feel like a third wheel. Stacy and Anthony wander all over the place and ramble about all kinds of silliness and I am fairly certain they think they are quite amusing, and you know what? THEY ARE. It must be that they are just on the right sort of weird wavelength as I am, or that their fanciful ridiculousness and whimsy aligns in all the right ways with mine because I love them, and existence in this world truly makes it a better and a million times more interesting place. Listening to them chat about horror movies, their thoughts and insights and experiences with them, reminds me of listening in on the *coolest* conversation at a party and wishing, and hoping against all hope that they were also talking with you. With every single episode I come away with a fresh take on horror and having peed myself a little from laughing so hard.

The Queen of Black Magic is an Indonesian horror film I had heard about, promptly forgot about, and then my interest was rekindled when I heard the glowing things that the aforementioned Anthony and Stacy had to say about it. A loose remake of a 1981 film sees three estranged orphan friends meeting up several decades after a traumatic event to say goodbye to the head of the orphanage, who is dying. Increasingly weird and violent things begin to happen once they arrive with their families in tow, and uncertain of the source, they soon discover the secret from their past is much more terrible and tragic than they realized. It is a pretty bonkers film in terms of both story, and uh, gory. And like an director Joko Anwar’s previous offerings, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Li Ziziqi’s YouTube channel is another fleeting nugget that someone had mentioned to me a year or so ago and which I then tucked away to look into later…and of course, never did. I saw the Chinese video blogger referenced again somewhere in my twitter feed last week and decided to have a peek at whatever they are all about, and I was utterly entranced. Known for her food and handicraft preparation, and depicting idyllic interludes of her life in her hometown of rural Pingwu, Mianyang, her storybook videos emphasize the stunningly beautiful countryside and many compelling ancient traditions. There’s a highly elaborate drama to the skills and craftsmanship she shares in her incredible creations, whether it’s salted egg yolks from ducks she raised by hand, the furniture she creates from stalks of bamboo, or the petals she cuts from a single piece of silk and colors one by one with vivid botanical dyes to create a charming peach blossom headdress and matching combs. Combine these creations with the pastoral scenes of the seasonal landscape and the lovely, lilting tranquility of the soundtrack, it conjures a wistfulness for a gem of life you’ve never experienced but most certainly want to –somehow– get back to. And I can’t get enough of it.

Honorable mentions: Astral Bath and Dragon Hoard Yarn // Wild Oak socks pattern // my new Hobonichi planner // velvet mythological creatures pillow from Baba Studio // a cat-shaped dish from my best good friend that says “Silently Judging You” // Totoro water bottle // Rae Dunn coffee mug // Iced Coconut 3 wick candle

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