Five Things (19)

Happy Earth Day! I spun a wheel and won a succulent.

Well, the title told the entire story, so here’s a letter to my succulent.

Dear Gregor the Succulent,
It’s not your fault I won you, but I will try to keep you alive until the next Earth Day – the one in 2024, not the one in a few days. I’ve never been a good plant mom and I really don’t want to try raising a plant, especially after I read that they cry. But I will set a reminder on my phone and hopefully, your location will provide you with the perfect amount of sunlight.

The pollen has arrived!

Every year I fool myself into thinking that I can go without allergy meds and every year the pollen wins1. I could hate pollen for what it does to my body, but the beautiful blooms wouldn’t exist without it, so I’ll take my allergy meds and suffer through the few weeks of intense pollination to watch the flowers bloom. I don’t know why I went from zero allergies to crazy allergies, but I loved the botanical sexism theory… alas, it’s since been debunked.

23 & Me, and then some.

I was pretty bored when I was recovering from a major surgery some years ago and one of the things I did was take an ancestry test because I was curious. What’s interesting to me is that since then the breakdown of my ancestry has gotten more and more precise – for example, they can now pinpoint (with accuracy) my country of origin – it’s a footnote that while my ancestry is elsewhere people from my background are found in that country and region. I had a few unassigned percentages left – some trace ancestry that they couldn’t assign yet. Well, I recently logged in and part of that trace ancestry has been assigned as Sardinian. There’s still a tiny bit of trace ancestry left, so I’m really curious if they will figure that out someday.

My favorite thing about 23 & Me though is their algorithm thinks that I have the genetic muscle composition common in elite power athletes2. I guess I’ve missed my calling.

Some cozy media recommendations.

This year I decided that I needed more cozy in my life, I started reading more cozy books, playing cozy games, and looking for cozy shows or movies3. Cozy shows are hard to find but I discovered that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries had a lot of cozy movies based on books, my fave has been the Aurora Teagarden movies. However, a few months ago I was reintroduced to the PBS Masterpiece shows and started watching Miss Scarlet and The Duke, which I absolutely love; and which has led me to one of my new fave cozy mysteries books, the Veronica Speedwell series.

If you’re looking for a fun female protagonist who is breaking the rules and conventions of her time while also solving mysteries, then I highly recommend Scarlet and Veronica. Also, any period piece is a fave for me.


It’s been two years and counting since I lost my mom, and every day I feel that loss. There’s so much I want to ask her, and so many things I wish she was around to see and experience. The first year I felt like I was in fixing mode — I needed to take care of everything and take care of my dad. The following year I tried to grieve but I was busy making sure that both houses were taken care of. Now I feel like I’ve found a rhythm, and I’m settling down a bit, hanging with friends again, yet in the quiet moments, it hits me and I can finally grieve.


1 Maybe this is the plants’ way of getting back at me.

2 I did run a half marathon once!

3 I still listen to my murder podcasts

And I chose you the one I was dancin’ with, in New York, no shoes… looked up at the sky and it was, maroon

– Taylor Swift

Netflix Originals Faves

I’ve had Netflix for a few years now and have always been a fan of the shows they offered. In recent years, Netflix has started creating Netflix Originals – and I’m hooked!

It started innocently enough, take a popular TV series, put up an extra season, like Arrested Development. But then they started producing their own series altogether like Orange is the New Black. And from the successes of those, they basically took over all my TV watching time. So, here are seven of my Netflix Original faves (in no particular order).

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A Series of Unfortunate Events is based on the children’s book series of the same name. Before Netflix, there was a movie that spanned four of the thirteen books. Let’s just say, Netflix’s approach – currently, each book is two episodes – is a much better one.

The costumes and set design are gorgeous! Since they worked closely with the author of the series, they managed to keep true to the source material – with a few extra bits (that work!) here and there. I especially loved the way they included the story’s narrator – Lemony Snicket. And the acting? Remarkable!

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Netflix released season three of Black Mirror, that was the first time I heard of the show – a British Sci-Fi show with a satirical glimpse into modern society’s psyche. I started from episode one of the third season – imagine a world where you rated others based on your interactions, now imagine those ratings determining your worth to society. Then I moved back to the first episode of the first season. I’m glad I didn’t start with that one, most people I spoke with afterwards were turned off from watching the rest of the series because of the pig storyline. Yeah, what a way to kick-off a series!

There are so many great gems of episodes, so much to think about after seeing each one. Thought provoking is definitely a phrase I would use to describe this.

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As a lover of British history – specifically the monarchy – I was especially happy to see that Netflix was releasing The Crown last year. I binged watched over several weekends, and I’m anticipating the next season. It was so well done, with great acting! Clarie Foy and Matt Smith were exceptional.

Queen Victoria is still the most fascinating monarch to me, but Queen Elizabeth II is coming in a close second.

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I’m not often interested in documentaries, but 13th came highly recommended by quite a few friends, so I decided to watch it. Wow, did it pack a punch!

As an immigrant, who migrated just a few months short of my high school graduation, I didn’t spend a lot of time learning U.S. History in school, and to be honest, at that point in my life I didn’t care much for any history lessons. Now, I enjoy reading about historical figures and learning about past events, so seeing how the laws – and America’s particular history with slavery – shaped the current penal system was fascinating.

It gives you a lot to think about, and I appreciate that it looks at both sides of the political spectrum and has people from both ends commenting on our current system. I believe that it’s a must-see documentary for anyone living in the U.S.

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I’ve heard Stranger Things being described as a nostalgic movie for folks who grew up in the 80s, and I can understand why. There are a lot of references to things a kid of the 80s would understand. Nevertheless, it’s a series anyone would be able to enjoy. I wouldn’t call this a horror, but there were some frightening bits and a lot of suspenseful moments. I’d think of it more like science fiction, a little bit like Firestarter or E.T.

The acting was good overall, but I think the kids stole the show, especially Eleven. I’m looking forward to the next season. Warning, you might have the urge to eat Eggos after watching this show.

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of those shows that I find funny, no matter how many times I look at an episode. There are so many little gems that one might miss after the first viewing. I really love that there was a sweetness to the show under all the comedy.

Season three is releasing soon, and I’ve got my calendar marked!

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A recent fave of mine, The OA is a good deal magical realism and some mystery. It’s compelling enough to keep you clicking on the “Yes, I’m Still Watching” button. I appreciated the way they slowly revealed Prairie’s missing years, allowing the viewers to switch back and forth between believing she’s insane and wondering if, perhaps, what she’s saying is real.

I can’t wait to see how the story continues!


TEN more Favourite Doctor Who Episodes

A while ago I posted ten of my favourite Doctor Who episodes. Since then, I found a lot more that I liked. So here’s another list of ten favourite Doctor Who episodes.

Note, spoilers!

Asylum of the Daleks


The Story: The Doctor, Amy and Rory meet Oswin Oswald – who later becomes important to, and is one of my favourite characters on, the show. Along the way, the Doctor helps to fix Amy and Rory’s marriage.

Why I love it:

  • The story of Oswin and her humour. “Is there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?”
  • Also, the first time we hear “Run you clever boy, and remember.” (>>)

The Snowmen


The Story: One of the Christmas specials where we meet Clara Oswald, a governess in the Victorian Era.They investigate sentient snowmen and the Doctor starts on the mystery that is Clara.

Why I love it:

  • More Clara, I love her as a companion, she’s spunky and a bit of the Doctor’s equal. I also loved that she doesn’t swoon over him!
  • Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax – love these three!
  • Victorian England (>>)

The Day of the Doctor


The Story: The Doctor and Clara are taken by UNIT where they receive a message from Elizabeth 1. The 10th incarnation of the doctor and doctor prime(? original?) also make an appearance. This episode focused a lot on the time lords and Gallifrey.

Why I love it:

  • I liked the glimpse into the time war.
  • I loved that this had a little bit of everything, from future travel to past travel.
  • Also, David Tennant. (>>)



The Story: What if there was an entity that was so good at hiding that you never realised it exists? Also, what’s that under your bed?

Why I love it:

  • Thoroughly frightening – at least in the beginning.
  • Loved the way the stories ties to the nightmare of someone hiding under the bed, ready to grab your feet.
  • Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the doctor in this episode is great. (>>)

Time Heist


The Story: Think Ocean’s 11, but the most dangerous – and well protected – bank in the galaxy. Along with memory-wiping worms.

Why I love it: 

  • The “smartness” of the heist, especially when we find out why it happened.
  • The way some of the past Doctor  Who episodes were referenced.
  • Overall thrill of the episode. (>>)

Kill the Moon


The story: After crash landing on the moon in the future, the doctor, Clara and one of Clara’s students, Courtney, try to figure out what’s going on on the moon before astronauts can blow it up.

Why I love it:

  • There is only one reason I love this episode, and that’s because the moon is a dragon in an egg, waiting to hatch! (>>)

notes: images taken from



Five Things (16)

Miles ran: 14 | Miles cycled: 0 | Steps: 146,506

I’ve gone and done another crazy thing …

— Thing One —

This week, while complaining about signing up for a half marathon, I decided to sign up for the 5 Boro Bike Tour. I think I’m sabotaging myself. I did it six years ago, on a borrowed bike, having no training, so I don’t believe that it would be a problem. At least, this time, I do cycle some (though no miles logged this year).

I’m riding with a team, a total of seven people. I’m certain it will be great. (She says, as she tries to convince herself that riding forty miles, after a few weeks of running thirteen would be great).

— Thing Two —

The Symphony Chorus is back in rehearsals, and my heart is happy! Last October I joined this group of singers and instrumentalists, all volunteers who sing in churches across New York (and other places). A friend of mine introduced me to the group and the first time I sang in a concert with them, I felt a strong sense of contentment. I’m looking forward to our Spring concert and the other concerts along the way.


— Thing Three —

I had the pleasure of breakfast with friends. Getting up early and running is one thing, but getting up earlier to run so that I could meet with a friend for the best meal of the day is pleasing. I’m not a morning person, but I can get behind meeting people for pancakes, or omelettes.

I’ve also had the pleasure of sharing a free lunch with colleagues. We ordered from Maple; I got the chicken with roasted carrots and quinoa. It was delicious. I’m certainly going to order from Maple again. If you’re in Manhattan I suggest you check them out!


— Thing Four —

In an attempt to continue using products that contain ingredients that occur naturally, I found a site, Meow Meow Tweet,  that makes deodorant creams. I can make my own, but seeing as I just finished the batch that I made, I thought I’d try their version. So far, I like it! I think I might try to use shea butter in my own mixture when I decide to make it again.

I found the deodorant cream in (what I can only call) an alternative pharmacy – which is a new favourite place of mine – called Stanley’s Pharmacy. I tried their sore throat tea – it was delicious – I think I’ll try others from them as well.

— Thing Five —

This week in pop culture, I saw the first two episodes of the new Shadowhunter series and the new Tarantino movie, Hateful 8.

I liked the little changes they did (from the book) in the Shadowhunter series; I think it was a good move. A lot of the story (in the books ) focused on the romance than the rich and vibrant world of the Shadowhunters – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, I don’t think it gives a film/show much material to work with, so adding a some new characters and stories fleshes things out a bit more.

Moving on to Hateful 8. It sits at #4 in the list of six Tarantino films I’ve seen, but it still had all the key factors that make a Tarantino film great.  He does an excellent job with the visuals and the directing, as well as in the stories that he created.



The Year in Books

2015 was a terrible reading year for me! I spent a lot of my commute looking out the window as the city zipped by, instead of reading as I usually do. January started off brilliantly, but then February happened, and it was all downhill from there for a few months. I did pick up in November, but by then it was much too late to do any significant damage to my TBR pile.

Of the ones I read, three good reads (across different genres) were, Defying ISIS – a book about the issues that we’re facing globally, and what Christians can do. A lot has happened since this book published, but it’s still a great read.  Food Rules, for anyone who is interested in overall healthy eating, and, The Day the Crayons Came Home, companion to The Day the Crayons Quit – which I will read out loud to you if I corner you in a bookstore.

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*One book missing from this pile is Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder, which was also an insightful read.