A Round Up of Really Good Things, January Edition
From LED masks to a geezer tortoise, here's what I've been loving this month
Hello! I’m Helen, thanks for reading this. Many of you are new here, WELCOME! If you enjoy(ed) my personality on YouTube, I really let loose here while bringing you info you can use, so let’s have some fun together.
Last week I wrote about leaving YouTube and letting artificial intelligence write my goodbye letter, so go back and read that if you missed it.
Onto this year’s FIRST round up of very good things, starting with…a tortoise! ⬇️ 🐢
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🐢 Jonathan the 190-Year Old Tortoise. Here’s some factoids about this tortoise dude who is OLDER than the world’s first photograph. He is real and his age is well-recorded through history, my skeptical friends.
Jonathan was born around 1832
He’s blind, has no sense of smell and yet is still randy AF and tries to mate with fellow tortoises Emma and sometimes Fred. Yes, get some, Jonathan! On the other hand, this makes him the world’s ultimate dirty old man, am I right?
Jonathan (and Emma and Fred) are giant tortoises that live in St. Helena (no relation), a remote volcanic island located between Africa and South America deep in the south Atlantic ocean.
He likes to sunbathe
You can read more about Jonathan in this Popular Science article about him.
📕 Book pick: Declassified: A Low-Key Guide to the High Strung World of Classical Music by Arianna Warsaw-Fan Rauch (Penguin, 2022). [edit: I spelled her name wrong in the emailed version of this. Apologies, Arianna!]
Oh man. This is the book I wish I wrote if only I had a rare and valuable talent, like being a top violinist. Instead I spend my time testing LED skincare masks (more on that later) and writing things of questionable value like this article.
Anyhoo, this is how I described Declassified to a friend in an email: “when I saw a snippet about it in the NYTimes Book Review recently [note to readers: see, I’m a classy high-brow lady], I knew I had to read it. The writing is really wry, sharp and incisive, and it's on a subject that I used to care about in a general sense, "classical" music! This is terrible to admit, but I also got a shock when I saw the author: young and impossibly gorgeous!”
This book deconstructs classical music, throws shade at the uptight concert musician scene, is so much fun and, unlike this newsletter, you actually get smarter reading it! Buy it, borrow it, get your hands on it. Do it now. Here’s a link to the publisher page.
🐑 Betterfelt slippers. Danish slippers became all the rage a few years ago, but I held off. Then I was invited to check out Betterfelt slippers and I fell in love. They’re light, you can wear them barefoot, and they are fair trade certified. Even though they’re wool, because of the felting process they don’t irritate my bare skin at all, and the thermoregulation is spectacular. My feet don’t sweat and they’re not cold either, which is a stasis I never have been able to reach with past slippers. Buy them here via Betterfelt.com.
Here’s a YouTube short I made about it: I Love These: Betterfelt Slippers
🍪 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. Yes, bars. Sometimes (ok, all the time) I can’t be bothered to shape and drop cookies, because I’m lazy and don’t want to make tray after tray of cookies which get eaten by the house cookie monsters soon as I put them on the cooling rack, so I make these bars and slice them instead. This is the recipe I use from iambaker.net. Sometimes I substitute half the butter with neutral oil and it turns out good as well, though predictably not quite as buttery. What can I say, butter costs are high where I live!
🎧 Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast and mental health and fitness content.
Ummm. Have you seen this man? Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. is neuroscience professor at Stanford. He hosts a top podcast on neuroscience, mental health, fitness, ophthalmology (I was a liberal arts major so I had to look that up to spell it) and more—where everything is taken to the nerd level.
Dr. Huberman is serving us rugged lumberjack realness and he’s a bonafide scientist at Stanford.
His podcast offers excellent (if long) deep dives into the world of science.
He says “Thank you for your interest in science” during every podcast, in what has to be one of the kindest male voices I’ve ever heard.
Why thank us losers? No, thank YOU, Dr. Huberman.
I’m really into this whole Actual Scientists Create Killer Podcasts So We Don’t Have to Hear About Joe Rogan Anymore. Also, he is proof SCIENCE NERDS ARE GETTING REVENGE by becoming the cool kids later in life, and I love this for you.
Find his Huberman Lab podcast wherever you check out podcasts, but what I want to point you to is his foundational fitness protocol if you’re looking to switch up your exercise routine. Mine got so dull that I had to, and I’ve been loving this one.
🍝 A Pasta Recipe: Orrechiette with Sausage and Rapini
1 box of orrechiette pasta, DeCecco makes a good one
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings (it goes faster if you snip lengthwise up the casing with kitchen scissors). I’ve tried this with turkey sausage and, it was ok, though a bit dry
1 bunch rapini, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth (optional, you can just use starchy pasta water)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (also optional. I think of this as more of a salt and pepper dish)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned and crumbled, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the rapini and garlic to the skillet with the sausage. Cook for 5-ish minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Now bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orrechiette and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve a half cup of the starchy water if not using chicken broth. Drain.
Pour in the chicken broth/pasta water and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked orrechiette to the skillet with the sausage and rapini mixture. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce.
Serve the orrechiette hot, garnished with cheese if desired. Enjoy!
Regarding this recipe, I didn’t feel like writing an entire recipe from scratch (what people don’t realize is writing proper recipes is super time consuming and is actually it’s own format that requires specialized editors) so I asked ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence writing bot, to draft it for me and I edited it to my liking. What is this world?
👜 Dior over Chanel. While I think the Lady Dior purse is unforgivably box-like, I have always appreciated that Dior as a house has always offered the superior silhouette for a curvier body shape whereas Chanel is much better suited to Slim Jim Bony Maloneys like Gabrielle Chanel herself.
To me, Dior is romantic and literary. Chanel is business and sports. I hate business and sports.
So hey, while we’re here, let’s briefly digress into the history of the Miss Dior fragrance.
Don’t say I never taught you anything:
The Miss Dior perfume is actually named after Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine Dior. She was part of the French Resistance, was captured by the Nazis, sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp and then three satellite camps.
Catherine Dior was then sentenced to a death march to finish her off from which she daringly escaped. She became a florist afterward, and Miss Dior is named after Catherine and her lifelong devotion to flowers.
Today, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet (there are many iterations of Miss Dior now) is widely thought of by the “fragcomm,” aka fragrance community (yes, that’s a thing) as the nicest flanker in that perfume line.
📺 Sex Lives of College Girls, Season 2. This is a Mindy Kaling joint and strongly evokes her recent sitcoms like Never Have I Ever, but I feel it’s also a bit of a mashup of the absurdist themes of The Mindy Project with a strong homage to Sex in the City (uh, when it was good. Justice for Samantha).
You can fault Mindy Kaling on many things, but she knows how to pick hot actors to play roles so we can drool over them while still laughing at the storylines. I really did laugh out loud watching season two, which I seldom do anymore…when did TV get so dark? Watch it if you have access to HBO or in Canada, Crave. Season 1 is great too.
🏮 CurrentBody LED Skincare Mask. Listen, there is science behind LED masks but whether it will work on my particular issues (hyperpigmentation spot, deep crinkles between eyes) is yet to be seen: I’ll let you know after the 30 day mark.
However, if you’re set on getting an LED mask to boost collagen production for your fine lines, CurrentBody is one of the best according to the derms at the Doctorly channel in this video, check out the description box where they namedrop CurrentBody.
I’ve been testing it for a few weeks and I like that it’s very comfortable and hugs the contours of your face, unlike those hard ones you see. They are expensive so please use my coupon code or find some other way not to pay full price.
That’s all for this month’s round-up, my friends. Hope you enjoyed it! Remember you can reply to this email and I’ll see it, or feel free to leave a comment here on Substack if you’re signed in!
P.S. This was a first impression at the 10 day mark of using CurrentBody Skincare Mask, and incidentally my last YouTube vlog before I quit!