What Our Team Loved in June - Cupcakes & Cashmere

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What Our Team Loved in June

A monthly series, corralling the various food, products, and entertainment we're currently enjoying.
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1

I've always enjoyed the process of doing my own nails at home, but since the elevated experience of being at a salon is lost when you're crouched in your own bathroom, any special touches that you can add to make it feel a little bit more luxurious go a long way. I recently discovered the nail polish line Veque, inspired by founder Audrey Siu's Vietnamese heritage, and it's a new favorite for three primary reasons: The packaging is beyond chic, I love that they make a wide range of nudes, and, best of all, their polish lasts. I gave myself a pedicure last week and went to the beach days later, fully prepared for it to be sloughed off by the sand. But when I stepped out of the shower, the vampy deep shade I had on looked just as glossy, shiny, and vibrant as the afternoon I had put it on. 

2

I can't remember a single other work of nonfiction that has challenged my preconceived notions and taught me so much as Shane Bauer's American Prison did. I went from generally believing in the criminal justice system in America to being in favor of disrupting and rebuilding the entire thing in about 300 pages. The book, which I recommended in The List here, documents Bauer's experience as a prison guard at a privately owned CCA facility. His experience is interspersed with chapters that dissect the business of prison, particularly how insanely problematic a for-profit prison system is. Jonah's currently reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, which specifically addresses the racial impact of America's criminal justice system, but I plan to pick that up as soon as he's finished with it!

3

Throughout quarantine, our house has instated a "Takeout Thursday" ritual, where we typically order in from a restaurant whose cuisine is tough to create at home. Chinese food is not in our repertoire, but I tried my hand at making Lisa Lin's scallion pancake recipe alongside a big takeout order, and damn – they're better than the ones we were ordering in. They take time, but very few ingredients, and nothing is better than a piping hot scallion pancake fresh out of the pan.

4

I discovered Dear White People a few weeks ago in Netflix's Black Lives Matter Collection, and I'm already halfway through Season 3. The show follows a cast of Black students at the fictional Winchester University, showcasing what it's like to be Black on a mostly white Ivy League campus. Samantha White, the show's main character, has a radio show called "Dear White People" where she provides so much of the same commentary the world is finally waking up to now, three years later (Season 1 aired in 2017). It's partly a scripted show about race in America and partly an addicting sitcom, and I think it succeeds at both. Its fourth and final season is anticipated to air this fall. 

5

I don’t pre-order many things but when my favorite podcasters announced their new book, I knew I had to have it! Act Like A Lady is a series of essays covering mishaps in the bedroom, dating in L.A., body positivity in the age of social media, and everything in between. Becca Tobin, Keltie Knight, and Jac Vanek have done a great job at bringing the same crazy, fun, and blunt spirit of their podcast to this book. Because of the format, it’s not something you have to finish in one sitting so I've been pacing myself to really enjoy it. The reason I love both the podcast and the book is because they feel like the type of conversations you have with friends over brunch (or a couple glasses of wine) and I’ve been missing that human connection the most during this time. You’ll laugh, feel seen (or called out), and maybe even tear up a bit. (P.S. If you’re part of the Bachelor Fandom—like most of the c&c team is—they’ve interviewed a lot of our favorite Bachelors and Bachelorettes!

6

When G bought our crushed ice machine for my birthday, I felt like we had to really step up the rest of our beverage game to match it. After buying some new glassware for cocktails, I also purchased these pink silicone straws. The pastel pink is such a welcome color when sipping on iced coffee in the morning or a gin and tonic after work, and they clean easily!

7

Since quarantine began in March, a few new traditions have taken hold in my life—one of which is dessert every evening. When I'm not diving into one of Jonah's pies (he's been on a roll lately), I've been loving Daily Harvest's new line of (n)ice creams. As much as I love traditional ice cream, it can be too rich and sweet for me to crave daily, but these, made without refined sugars, dairy, or fillers, are the perfect just-sweet-enough end to the day. I've already gone through multiple pints of each flavor, but my favorite is Mint + Melty Cacao Chips, followed closely by Vanilla and Black Sesame (!). I often layer my other favorite, Hakuna Banana Choco Choco Chip (which I wrote about here) with the mint and it is so good.

8

I'm embarrassed to admit that Justin and I watched the first of this four-part drama when it was released exactly a year ago, and I abandoned it after Part One. The Netflix limited series (which was created, directed, and co-written by Ava DuVernay) follows the five boys who were falsely accused of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989 across decades, through their trials, prison sentences, and eventual reentries into society. Last year, I couldn't get through the unlawful interrogations, reprehensible police, legal, and media tactics, and overall lack of justice within the first hour. I've recently learned to sit with the discomfort that leads me to withdraw so quickly and begin to unpack it—so we decided to try again. It's been one of the most impactful pieces of media I've watched as of late, and getting to see the Exonerated Five share their own perspectives on Oprah's subsequent special was harrowing, heartbreaking, and eyeopening. I can't recommend viewing these two back-to-back more.

9

I wouldn't call myself a "chef" by any stretch of the imagination, but living alone during a global pandemic does require frequent cooking, so my cookware has been going the extra mile. I've been using the coated pan from Material Kitchen since January, and I can now safely say I don't want to use another sauté pan ever again, period!! There's a lot of fancy-sounding information about the coating on the company's website, but let me just tell you–NOTHING sticks to this pan. I've cut the amount of olive oil I use in half, and I have never met an easier thing to clean. The emerald green color is a delightful bonus.

10

When we moved last December, one of the main details we missed from our old house was our outdoor kitchen and more specifically, our grill. G had been doing some research over the past few months and originally wanted to invest in a traditional Kamodo style grill/smoker, but quite a few people recommended we look into the Traeger Wood Pellet Grill...and we’re so happy we did! This machine is phenomenal and is so easy to use that even a novice can create amazing grilled recipes. It uses small pellets (with a variety of wood options) that automatically feed into the burning chamber, which allows you to keep a consistent temperature for long cooking recipes (i.e. brisket), but also works perfectly for traditional bbq, smoked salmon, whole chickens, or pretty much anything you’re craving. If you’re looking for a grill, give this brand some serious consideration.

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