Little Luxuries: 8 Things Under $50 I Can’t Live Without

We’re kickin’ it old school today in two ways: for one, you might recall the Little Luxuries column I used to do all the time back in the day. And second (and even more fun!), I’m participating in a Link Up! This one is being hosted by <em>press, the WordPress themes shop I run with Lisa. You might not know this, but not only are we selling WordPress themes and plugins, we’ve also regularly been publishing content over on our blog there. Our goal is to build a community specifically for bloggers! Several years back, when I ran The B Bar, we hosted Link Ups similar to this, and it was one of my favorite aspects of that shop. I thought I’d bring it back with <em>press, and today is our first link up!

Basically: we published an open prompt, and anyone who wished to join in was invited to answer it! This month’s Link Up prompt is:

What are 5 things under $50 you can’t live without?

I couldn’t keep mine to just 5, so hooray, you’re getting my top 8. Read on to find out what they are, and be sure to check out the other blog participants in this month’s Link Up to see what they selected too! You can find their links at the end of this post.
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Lead photography by Chuttersnap via Unsplash. Graphics created by Victoria McGinley Studio.

Ugly Delicious

quick thing.

You really, really need to watch the entire Ugly Delicious series on Netflix, if you haven’t started it already. Any devoted Netflix-ee will tell you that it feels like the network has been overrun with questionable programming in the last six to twelve months (this joke from South Park still comes up in our household and makes us laugh). But Ugly Delicious is one of the best docuseries I’ve seen as of late, if not the last couple of years. Dare I say it rivals Chef’s Table in its scope, and bests it in its commentary?

Made by chef David Chang (of Momofuku fame) and documentary director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom and many others), each episode of Ugly Delicious focuses on a particular dish, and examines its cultural impact, historical context, and who’s making delicious versions of it worldwide. It’s a travel and food show, but not like any you’ve seen before. There’s not a ton of food porn montaging; instead, I think some of the most fascinating scenes are round table discussions between chefs, celebrities, and authors discussing what the dish means to them and their home culture.

For example.

The fried chicken episode explores a dish that can be found in nearly every culture in the world, but deeper still, how politically and racially charged it can be here in the States (while abroad, there’s no connotation with it at all other than it being delicious). Growing up in Texas, the barbecue episode was another favorite. The team explores how barbecue is viewed regionally in the states (where I grew up, it meant brisket and really good quality sausage; rarely pork and never simply grilling stuff outside), but makes the interesting point that while Americans probably wouldn’t consider something like Peking duck barbecue…it is.

thoughts on ugly delicious docuseries

There’s SO much more to these topics than what I could possibly write in a short little Wednesday post for you, but all I can say is I strongly recommend you add this show to your queue! I got Joe to watch an episode with me and he was hooked too. We blew through all of the episodes in the last couple of weeks, and enjoyed them all (his fave was the “Stuffed” episode). You don’t need to watch the episodes in order; pick your favorite food and dig in!

You can get more info on Ugly Delicious here , and read up on it here, here, and here.

Origin Story: Part II

So, what are you?


I’m on my back, right leg in the air, and a woman I met less than half an hour ago is making casual conversation with me while spreading hot wax on my netherbits. She doesn’t know it, but she’ll soon be the second person in my entire life with whom I’m able to share details of my ethnic background.

You have questions, I realize. First among them: Don’t I have one dedicated, regular person I task with this torture every 4-6 weeks? I do! In fact, when it comes to these types of very up close and personal self-care rituals, I’m quite loyal. But my regular aesthetician—a kind-hearted French woman named Marion—is unavailable, and I’m desperate. My backup waxing salon exists for this reason alone, and here I find myself, prone on a foreign table with a stranger as intimately placed as one could be.

We’ve covered the usual topics: relationship status, jobs, where we are from, and I mention in passing that my husband is Indian.

“That’s cool,” she says, popsicle stick spreading molten blue lava carefully. “So he’s Indian…what’s your background?”

I perk up as much as one can in my position.

“I’m half Korean,” I say excitedly, “And then the other half is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and other mixed Asian from all over.”

She hasn’t registered my excitement. “Oh cool,” she repeats in that off hand, slightly-interested small talk way, concentrating on her task.

“Yeah.” I’m quiet for a few seconds. “Actually, I have to tell you—you’re only the second person in my entire life who I’ve been able to say that to. I only found out my ethnic background last summer. I did a DNA test.”

Now she really stops and looks at me. That is cool.

*  *  *

She was the second person; the first was an Uber driver who asked, “What are you?” maybe three months before. That a livery driver should be the first person to ask me post-test was ironic and yet not at all surprising, since cab drivers have the highest ethnicity inquiry rates based on my non-scientific tracking over the last 15-odd years.

And they’re not the only ones. To be sure, wherever I’ve gone throughout life — college, convenience stores, conferences; on dates, to the dry cleaners, to the drive-thru —I’ve heard this same question, or some country-specific derivative of it.

“So, what are you?” View more