August Favorites 2015

I spent most of August in China, in a constant state of culture shock and slight discomfort that naturally comes with being somewhere you’re unfamiliar. It was a life-changing trip, and I have a bunch of favorites to share.FullSizeRender 102

CHINESE FOOD

So fresh and simple, yet beautifully presented. I kept an open mind and tried anything and everything this past month, because there’s really no better place to try authentic Chinese food than in China. I ate eel, “drunk shrimp”, abalone and more (coming soon on my food blog). I’ll give anything a go before I pass any judgment.

So much coming on Cat the Critic. You don’t even know.

BOOKS

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The Roald Dahl Omnibus and my beloved xfinity notebook, the topic of a future post! Look out for it!

The Roald Dahl Omnibus is a 1986 collection of short stories by Roald Dahl. In high school English class, we annotated short stories and discussed themes and analyzed every sentence, and that left me with no desire to read short stories for fun, which is pretty unfortunate. So this was the first time I’ve properly read short stories, which is weird because I even attempted to write short stories. That being said, I really enjoyed this collection. Dahl’s writing style doesn’t make me miss the length of conventional stories I’m used to. Each one gets me properly nervous but always features an interesting plot twist. I admire his choice descriptive details and now properly feel inspired write a few myself.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is about 26 year old Lou, who takes on a job caring for a quadriplegic. This book is realistic, touching on ideas I’ve never anticipated. As I read it, I considered all possible endings, and how each one would be so cliché, but she managed to conclude the book in a meaningful way. The book switches points of views with other characters multiple times in the story, moves that I thought were crucial and handled super well.

Also, special shoutout to Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed for singlehandedly keeping me alive during the entire month of August, seeing as every other website (mainly Facebook and Youtube) seemed to be blocked.

GOING MAKEUP FREE

China is so freaking hot and humid, and my skin is on the oily side. On the first day, I wore concealer, eyeliner and mascara, which had pretty much melted off my face by the time I returned. Eventually, I started to phase makeup out of my morning routine. I became too lazy to even wear mascara, and only really bothered with using sunscreen. Unless I was going out, I didn’t make an effort, and no one said anything. It was liberating to splash my face with water in the middle of the day if I felt like it, and my routine is now simpler and quicker. My skin has also improved a lot, so I’m going to try to stay makeup-free when I’m back in the States.

TAKING PICTURES AND VIDEOS

At Long Jing Village, an amazing tea plantation that will be featured very soon on my food blog, Cat the Critic!

At Long Jing Village, an amazing tea plantation in Hangzhou! Read more on Cat the Critic

I wanted to create a portfolio to capture my adventures in China. I haven’t been back since 2010 and I have no clue when I’ll have the chance to come back after this, so I plan to document my days through a video blog series, and publish many travel diaries for you all. Stay tuned!

MUSIC

Spotify Premium was my savior this past month. A few favorites I found myself gravitating towards:

One of my first music reviews was about Wildcat! Wildcat! This synth pop band has released a few albums, all of which are musical gold. Some of my favorite songs include: Circuit Breaker, Marfa, End of the World Everyday, Tower // W.O.H.L, Pleaase & Thank You, Mr. Quiche, Garden Grays, and The Chief.

A Northwestern graduate, Andrew Bird creates music similar to that of Sufjan Stevens. So far, I’ve really enjoyed Dance of Death, Giant of Illinois, and Pulaski at Night.

Sufjan Stevens is a prolific artist whose influence and music productions span many decades. Most of my favorites come from his Illinois-inspired album, including but not limited to: John Wayne Gacy, Jr., The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders, Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!, Vesuvius, All Delighted People, Chicago, and Come On! Feel the Illinoise!

Thanks to Christina for proving that there’s much more to Hellogoodbye than just “Touchdown Turnaround”. “The Magic Hour is Now” has become one of my favorite songs of all time.

T-Pain made a resurgence this past month. I was particularly obsessed with his music in spring, when I saw him live – twice. Favorites include: Up Down (Do This All Day) [REMIX], Booty Wurk, Bartender, and many many more.

I also reviewed one of Toro Y Moi’s latest releases, but I also love a bunch of songs from his penultimate album, including High Living, Studies, and Rose Quartz.

I’m also obsessed with Alina Baraz & Galimatias, ever since Michelle showed them to me. I love anything from the Urban Flora EP, as well as the Vices remix of Fantasy.

Also, FYI: TV Girl’s Birds Don’t Sing is such a happy, catchy song.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Alina Baraz and the afternoon I truly listened to music | Catherine Zhang

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