Photo by Jim Atwood
In this crazy little world, it always seems like it's the little things that change our lives: hearing a really great song on the radio, perfume that smells exactly like your first grade teacher did, tiny shops that look just how you imagine your dream house would. Collectively, these little pieces of happiness are the things that make our day. They're life's little fireworks that can shoot us out of mediocrity and into the land of the spectacular. Sure, they're only material goods, but if certain material goods can send our world spinning out of our daily rut and into a better direction, then doesn't that count for something?
If Oprah can do it, why can't we? Here are the little things that are changing my world right now.
- 365 Organic Oat Bran Sticks
Upon first glance, these tiny little treats appear to be inedible - possibly even wood shavings - but in all reality they're absolutely delicious snacks that are a great substitute for those over-salted potato chips. I'm a crazy stickler for healthy eating and these are really as good as you can get without sacrificing taste. No description could give them justice - trust me on this one, go out and give them a try!
- Smart Dogs Veggie Protein Links
Despite being a veteran vegetarian, there are a few childhood staples that I find myself missing in times of emotional crisis (or just extreme hunger!). One of which is the americana classic itself: the hot dog. After sampling a wide variety of vegetarian 'dogs, from Morningstar Farms to Yves brand Veggie Dogs, I found that most of them tasted (and smelled) far different from their classic counterparts - you might even say closer to the realms of the inedible. And then came Smart Dogs. These things are amazing - they're a guilt-free version of the good old American hot dog, tasting just like the real thing. They've become one of those staples that you're bound to find in my fridge at any given time.
- The Hot Food Bar at Whole Foods
For those not-to-rare occasions when I don't feel like cooking at home, the Whole Foods hot bar is always there. (At least until 9:30 pm!) Filled with Indian samosas and vegetarian lasagna and Israeli couscous and honey-orange tempeh, the hot bar has pretty much anything that a health-junkie could ever want in a meal in a delightfully quirky atmosphere. (The cafe at my local Whole Foods usually sports impromptu bands that set up and jam out anything from swing music and bluegrass.) In my opinion, it's ten times better than any of the chain restaurants around here at just about the same price.
- MAC Lip Conditioner Stick
If I could, I would buy one of these for every bag that I own so I would never have to go without it. MAC's lip conditioner is like silk for your lips - smooth, fragrance and color free, it leaves your lips feeling conditioned, fuller, and super-kissable. It's a great primer for lipstick or heavy gloss, but I prefer to wear it on its own for a soft, gentle look. If you're looking for the perfect, simple lip-gloss, try this wonderful alternative instead!
- Auric Blends Perfume Roll-On in One Love
I first found this fantastic little treasure at a new age store, hidden between teacup-sized bowls of incense and rose quartz. After sniffing through all their various scents, one in particular grabbed me instantly. One Love smells like cotton candy and sunsets - like drinking cherry soda and bright-pink-fruity-drinks at the very top of a ferris wheel, fireworks popping then sizzling out like burning champagne in the distance. It smells like princesses and carousels with the biggest, grandest horses you've ever seen and it smells like taking a cherry-pink bubble bath in the arms of your lover. It smells like tropical trees that sway wistfully, giving gifts of pineapple and mangoes and kiwi and melon to those who picnic underneath them. It smells like love.
- Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City
I first found Kiki Strike no more than a week ago, hidden behind westerns and romances at a used book store. The back reads that Kiki is a "black-clad, vespa-riding, cafe-au-lait-drinking girl", and with those simple words I was hooked! She's a New York superspy whose goal in life is be dangerous, a pre-teen who can pull off both a Russian fur hat and a Girl Scout beret. As influential and kick-ass as she is, though, she's generally unheard of amongst the pre-teen scene - her main market. I'm awed at how this is even possible, but nevertheless I still love the Kiki Strike series and would recommend it to those loving adventure in a heart-beat! Kiki Strike is a killer read!
- The Every Boy
Quirky and tragic, The Every Boy is the kind of book that's has a universal appeal. It plays like a Wes Anderson movie, Henry Every being a unique yet flawed teen trying to comprehend life, love, and the mystery of everything in-between. The real tragedy is his death, which we discover on page one, made all the more melancholy by the poignant misadventures he leaves behind in a meticulously organized ledger of his life so far. Henry Every is relatable, even if he's not, and the entire novel is oddly charming in the details, from the subplot focusing on the most deadly Jellyfish in the world to Henry's mid-novel journey to New York City. It's a trip starting on page one, and will forever be one of my favorites.
- The Gift Moves
I love kids books - for some reason, these kinds of whimsical novellas always have ten times more depth than a regular piece of fiction ever could. This one in particular is that same kind of harrowing tale, a first-person account of Path Down The Mountain's life as she adventures into a post-apocalyptic metropolis to apprentice as a weaver. It sounds simple, even as she finds herself falling in love with the baker's son, but something about this whole novel seems to shake the ground beneath you. It reveals all those unspoken complexities that life throws at us, how difficult it is to truly be free, to be yourself, and it throws all of this in our direction in the form of a 230 page kid's book. The Gift Moves is a journey, both literally and figuratively, and it's one of the most poignant books I've read to date.
Since music generally speaks for itself, instead of posting a humdrum little overview for each album I'll simply sample what I consider to be my favorite song off of it. You can decide for yourself whether or not you like it!
- Estelle // Shine
Sample: American Boy (Feat. Kanye West)
- Violent Femmes // Add It Up (1981-1993)
Sample: Kiss Off (Live)
- The Tiger Lillies // The Gorey End
Although I've already professed my love for this adorable movie, (and it's not just because I share a first name with the title character!) I feel the need to shout out what a great flick this is yet again. Penelope is a modern fairy-tale wrapped in eccentric, home-made wrapping paper - it's the tale of a whimsical socialite who was born under her parent's family curse, a curse that to no surprise can only be broken by true love. She escapes from her parent's watchful eye and into the world, drawing public attention much to her mother's dismay, but nevertheless the world outside finds her to be just as charming as she really is and sees past her physical deformities. The movie is sugary sweet with a punch of morals and lessons learned - it's your typical fairy-tale, only completely different!
- Wristcutters: A Love Story
The story is simple: twentysomething Zia wakes up one morning, tidies up his cubicle-sized apartment, puts on something presentable to wear, and promptly kills himself. From there, he finds himself in a mysteriously crueler version of the world he sought to escape from inhabited by fellow jumpers and cutters from around the globe. Despite how depressing it initially sounds, the movie is a quirky trip that instantly landed on my list of personal favorites as soon as I took it out of the DVD player. With curious characters and tiny miracles that seem to brighten up the sleepy backdrop of Wherever, Wristcutters is all around stunning - the kind of movie where as soon as you finish watching it, you know you'll never find anything else like it ever again.
- Everything is Illuminated
Let me preface this blurb with one little fact: I have fallen in love with Eugene Hutz. As if being in the front man of bad-ass gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello isn't enough, he also plays the pivotal role of Alexander Perchov in Everything Is Illuminated, a jive-talking Ukrainian with a passion for tracksuits and "negroes". (His words - not mine.) Characters like Perchov and the lovable Sammy Davis Junior Jr., the canine accomplice to the story's misadventures, really make the film unique and memorable. There's no doubt that it's a drama - the slapstick comedy ceases as soon as the story gets into full swing - but for some reason the story is so infectious and silly that even the biggest hater of theatrics will still find it to be a stunning piece of work.
My goal in life is to be able to actually buy things from Anthropologie instead of just ogling the merchandise like a crazed bag lady. Despite the fact that most everything in the store is way out of my price-range, Anthropologie always manages to simultaneously have the funkiest and most down-to-earth goods for sale. The style is a strange combination of old and new, with huge oak poster beds draped in bright pink linens or satin babydoll dresses with pockets shaped like owls. It's what the nicest thrift store in town would look like if you lived in a modern day Jane Austen novel - an appealing concept to a new romantic such as myself.
- Betsey Johnson
Those of you who subscribe to Cocoa Kisses will know that I have very recently bought my very first Betsey Johnson dress - a beautiful yellow number that looks like a boho 60's slip. Despite my thrills over this still-unnamed beauty, I will forever crave more from my favorite designer's scattered boutiques - cotton candy dresses that look like hand-spun carnival treats, sequined and cinched gowns that drape down like mermaid tails, gingham printed lovelies taken straight from the dollhouse closet. Betsey has a butterfly garden kind of flair that daydreaming girls swoon over and I'd love nothing more than to meet this spectacular woman, even if just in passing. Miss Betsey will forever be a favorite of mine, through and through.