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What Our Team Loved in September

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

So technically this challenge only began last week, but I'm excited to be a part of #PursueBlackLiberationChallenge, created by Monique Melton (@moemotivate on Instagram). She's an anti-racism educator, author, international speaker and host of the Shine Brighter Together Podcast. It's a 21-day challenge that officially started on September 21st (but you can join anytime after that) and we will be focusing on doing the work to build a daily practice of anti-racism by pursuing Black liberation. The challenge is completely free (though I'd highly recommend purchasing Monique's "Anti-Racism 101 Crash Course") and is designed in a way for you to take practical and sustainable anti-racism action every day. In addition to the daily work, we're supposed to invite three other people to participate with us, but I'd love for as many of you as possible to join me.


A few days after sharing my dry eye affliction (sexy stuff), I received a DM about a product I never knew I needed, but am so thrilled exists: a "chic solution for dry eyes." Never in a million years did I expect to see "chic" in the same sentence as "dry eyes," but that's exactly what Peep Club is. Ever since the founder sent me their Dry Eye Kit, I've been using it nightly. The kit comes with coconut oil balm and a warming wand that does essentially the same thing as a hot compress: unblocks the glands in your eyes that produce lubricating oils (you can see why "chic" does not usually come to mind). I am clearly not a doctor, but I did get the go-ahead to use Peep Club from my own, with the idea that it can't hurt! I use it in conjunction with other treatments for blepharitis (the dry eye condition I have), like Nu Lids but alternate between hot compresses and Peep Club since they accomplish the same thing. I hope it brings a little relief to those of you also struggling with dry eyes.


Back in June, I did an overhaul of the brands I regularly purchase from, particularly replenishable items, to see where I could be supporting businesses owned by POC. Coffee seemed like a no-brainer, and after some research, I found Patria Coffee, a small-batch coffee roaster based in Compton with Yoshawn Smith as lead barista. I instantly added their espresso beans and Ethiopian blend to my cart, and have been enjoying lattes, pour-overs, and cold brews with them ever since. I also ordered a few varieties from Portrait Coffee Roasters, and plan on alternating between the two brands for the foreseeable future.


I am only slightly embarrassed to say that I am obsessed with this new series from Kenny Ortega, the filmmaker behind High School Musical. It's sweet, funny TV that packs a mean musical punch and deals with some bigger themes (like, most notably, death). We follow Julie, a super talented singer and high school sophomore (played by Madison Reyes, who is only 16!) who lost her mom a year ago and hasn't been able to sing since. She discovers an old CD while going through her mom's things, and can all of a sudden see three ghosts that no one else can–members of the band "Sunset Curve" who died in 1995 after eating some bad hot dogs before playing the Orpheum in Los Angeles. After discovering that other people can see them when they're playing music with Julie, these four insanely talented people decide to form a band–not only in the show, but Ortega set out to create an actual band instead of just hiring actors who can sing. I've decided that's the reason (along with a large team of super talented songwriters) this series is so good. I laughed and cried basically every episode and found myself SOBBING during the finale (happy tears!!). If you're a fan of Glee, High School Musical, or just really killer pop music, watch all nine episodes of Julie and The Phantoms and thank me later. 


Please raise your (virtual) hand if you have an absurd amount of lip products. I find them hidden away in bags, on my bedside table, and (regretfully) left in my car. On top of some really dry weather and a lot of mask-wearing, my lips have been drier than usual so finding this in my medicine cabinet was a godsend. Most of my heavy-duty lip products come in jars which is why I love the packaging of this lip oil. It's in a tube that has a doe-foot applicator, making it look just like lipgloss. The oil gives just the right amount of shine without any stickiness. It feels like a luxurious upgrade to my regular lip balm routine. I use the clear version but if you're looking for a little bit of color, Wander Beauty carries it in three other shades.


I'd been looking for a casual waistbag (aka, fannypack) for those times when I'm out on a walk that requires essentials (hand sanitizer, keys, sunglasses, etc), but don't want to carry them in my hands or in a purse. When I was in a parking lot a few weeks ago, I was directly behind a girl who had impeccable style and had this bag effortlessly tossed across her body. After first just seeing the strap, I assumed it was Gucci or something similarly extravagant and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it was actually Champion. It comes in four different colors, but the dark gray, especially when worn against a similarly monochromatic outfit, is my favorite.


I think it was Jonah who did the math and realized that if I had invested the same amount into Peloton that I spent on my bike in April, I could have purchased the equivalent of seven bikes with the money earned from investments by August. That kind of growth is not the norm of course, but it still got me thinking... While I have some investments, it's all through high-yield savings accounts, and the idea of buying stocks has always felt totally intimidating. Last month, I finally did some research and discovered the app Robinhood, which makes it so easy to buy and sell (though I've only bought so far) stocks. Since downloading it, I've been investing Poshmark earnings back into stocks, which feels like a fairly low-risk way to experiment. I'm sure I could be more strategic, but for now I've been investing in upcoming companies I believe in or have been using a lot (hat tip to all of the readers who invested in Zoom pre-quarantine). I encourage you to play around with it—but, as with every money decision, educate yourself on its pitfalls as well. Check out their site here, or use this link for us each to receive a free 'mystery' stock! Speaking of which, any interest in an updated 101 guide to saving and investing?


If I were to rank household chores from my most to least favorite, washing dishes would be at the bottom of the list. I don't mind vacuuming the entire house, wiping down every counter, or doing multiple loads of laundry—but for some reason, I wind up leaving most of the dishwashing to Justin. That is, until this month, when my future in-laws raved about their Scrub Daddy and how it changed their life. I'm so glad I listened to them and ordered a pack for our sink, because it's truly a miracle product. They're durable, don't scratch any of our dinnerware, glassware, or cookware, and they somehow manage to avoid having that icky mildew smell a sponge usually acquires. Throw one in your won't regret it!


My bookstagram friend and longtime cupcakes and cashmere reader, Sarah (@bookishandblack), recently started a Patreon. If you love books as much as we do, let's show her some love from this community! ❤️ For $3 (Book Lover), $5 (Bookworm), or $10 (Bibliophile) per month, get access to Sarah's bookish content which includes newsletters, personalized book recommendations, access to her Zoom book club discussion at the end of each month (at the $5 and $10 levels), and giveaways exclusively for Bookish and Black patrons. I actually get a lot of my book recommendations from Sarah, so I am thrilled she started this Patreon and immediately signed up to show my support. Bookstagram is often an exhausting amount of work (and no one pays us to do it), so keep killing it, Sarah!


I spent the better part of this month packing up my apartment in preparation for a trip back home and since I don't plan on being away for too long, getting a storage unit seemed like a good call. I did a lot of research on storage facilities and was discouraged by the number of horror stories I found (theft-related and not of the You persuasion). Then I found MakeSpace, a storage service with a twist: you never have to visit a storage facility. They pick up everything and once you're ready to get your things back, you schedule a delivery. For heavy-duty pieces, like furniture, I just unassembled them, and the MakeSpace movers handled wrapping them up. I was extra impressed with the reusable bags they send over before your pickup. They're designed to fit perfectly into their storage boxes and come with pre-made labels. That way, I was able to avoid single-use cardboard boxes. I'm a sucker for a well-designed app with efficient service, both of which MakeSpace is. For anyone who might be relocating temporarily while the world sorts itself out, I couldn't recommend MakeSpace more.

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