See You on the Other Side

Sometimes there are things in life that deserve to take first priority, like being there for our friends.  All I can say is that life can throw some unexpected events, surprises, and losses, as it is in this case. A dear friend of mine, whom I had lost touch with over the past few years, has gone to be in our Daddy's presence last Wednesday.  There are not many words I can say, except that grieving can come in so many different waves and magnitudes.  Although I do want to continue living my life as usual and go on my daily tasks with fortitude, I also want to live with even more purpose than before.  More mindfulness of my loved ones as I take advantage of their amazing presence in my life. 

Contrary to popular thinking, tomorrow is never promised and the day to love and live to the fullest is TODAY.  All I can say is--dear brother, you've fought the good fight!  I am thankful that you were the one who so perfectly related to me in those times when I felt like the biggest outsider in this foreign land...when I didn't know what this immigrant life had in store for me, really.  Thank you for your consistent faith and for being the example of an open ear and an open heart not only to me, but to all.  We are proud of you and can't wait to see you on the other side!  Probably break dancing to heavenly tunes and tripping a time or two.

So with that said, I will probably be back next Monday or Tuesday with our normal schedule, you guys.  This week is busy to the max as I'm tying loose ends with a workshop I'm teaching for a youth conference.  I am excited and rather nervous for some reason, so prayers are much appreciated!  I wish you a blessed week and see you soon!

Lately {Mother's Love}

Hey there! Taps the mic.  

Is this thing on?  Oh yes, hello my fellow humanoids! Nervous giggle ensues.

I am pleased to say that I am alive and well, despite the fact that it has been an innnnnteresting week.  In what ways was it interesting, you ask?  Well, let's just start by saying that it's true what they say.  When baby is sick, it's almost like you're sick. 

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Unfortunately earlier this week, Selah caught an ear infection and her fever was hovering 103 F out of nowhere, so initially we thought she was just teething.  Thankfully our parent(ly) hunch led us to take Selah to the doctor and all was good!  Well not really.  The antibiotics she was prescribed contained Penicillin and lo and behold, the poor buggaboo is allergic to the stuff!  Did you know that?  I didn't know that.  I mean, how do you know if your child is allergic to certain medications when they're still so inexperienced?  Beats me. And we found out the hard way, as she suddenly broke out in hives all over her chin, neck, stomach, and diaper area. 

Well, thanks to this episode I have been watching her like a hawk!  But a happy hawk. :)  Even though it all sounds so terrible, which it kind of is if I think about the suffering she's going through, I am extremely grateful for the ability to stay at home right now.  It's times like these I realize all these luxuries (even a good dr.) might not be here forever.  Who knows what life can bring about?  And it's this kind of circumstance that truly helps me see what I'm made of.  I may not be a perfect mom (obviously), but God sure has granted me the patience to endure this thing.  First of all, I now fully understand what our parents mean when they say cheesy lines like, "I wish it was me instead of you because this hurts me more than it hurts you."  And what's more is the fact that I now grasp a greater understanding of God's fatherly and perfect love.

Wow. 

Because in light of the fact that we aren't able to stick to our normal routine and everything is somewhat out of whack, the love that I have for this little child outshines every negative aspect.   Every negative aspect except the endless reruns of Frozen, and the fact that I can't get the songs out of my head!  But in all seriousness, it makes me wonder too...how much more does it hurt God when we're hurting--or worse yet, when we're hurting ourselves?  Something to think about, right?

Super deep and dramatic rant over.

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Now, I still could use some of this beach right now.  I definitely wouldn't complain about it, if you know what I mean. ;)


What are some recent experiences that have helped you see what you're "made of"?

Marugame Monzo with the Best | Little Tokyo LA

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to finally try dinner at Marugame Monzo with one of my best friends, Susan.  You've seen Susan here a good number of times, as she was even my maid of honor (sorry for embarrassing you) just a few years ago. ;) 

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So like I said, I have been dying to know what all this hype is about.  After seeing that Marugame is so highly acclaimed by some of the greatest foodistas, I knew I had to give it a try.

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Their dishes average out to about $12-15 a bowl (a big bowl, mind you), so you can bet your bottom dollar that I've been preeettyy wise with my money. But despite all that, I conclude that Marugame is a huge winner when it comes to Japanese Udon!  Although Udon isn't my first choice when it comes to Japanese cuisine, this place has got me thinking about it in a whole different light. 

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I ordered the Vongole Udon bowl since I can never say no to seafood.  The verdict?  It was exploding with flavor, even though the looks of it says otherwise!  Since their noodles are handmade, they were perfectly chewy and soft.  The broth was light but still satisfying, while the clams weren't "veiny", but rather, fresh and tender.  Next time I visit Marugame I have to try their Sea Urchin bowl, so hold me to it.

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The true winner, however, was the Mentai Squid Butter Udon that Susan ordered!  Not being the greatest fan of creamy pasta, even I thought it was heavenly.  The creamy sauce brought this dish to life.  Let me explain it this way...The flavors had several dimensions to them--something like creamy first, nutty second, and a rich lobster taste at the end. 

The only thing I would recommend to save you some trouble, is to park in the lot right across the street.  Also, keep in mind that Marugame is extremely small, and the signs blend in with the surrounding businesses.  But if you love Japanese food and don't mind taking a sweet stroll through little Tokyo, then Marugame Monzo is your place! :)

Marugame Monzo // Little Tokyo, LA

329 E 1st St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

213.346.9762 // Yelp


Have you been to Little Tokyo?  If so, which places do you recommend?

What strange combinations turned out to be amazing for you?

Instagram Eats and Inspiring Blogs

Hey there, how's your week been treating you so far?  I'm curious to know--how's your healthy (or semi-healthy) eating these days?  Have you been struggling in that area and perhaps in need of some motivation? 

Maybe I can help a bit! These are some of my Instagrammed meals so you really should excuse the blurry phone pictures.  Even still, I hope that you can get some ideas on how to eat healthfully on a reasonable budget.  Remember that your pursuit of healthful eating doesn't have to be perfect, and as long as you enjoy the taste of your food and you know you're getting in your nutrients, that's all that matters. :)  As for myself?  I've been trying to throw together whatever is in my pantry, and quite surprisingly it's been wonderful and a whole lot cheaper than going out.

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Okay so--this one was definitely a "treat".  It's not on the cheap end as you would have guessed, so you bet that this heavenly Acai Bowl from Beach Bowls in Torrance was savored down to the last bit.  Selah was a fan from the get-go and she would get mad whenever I stopped feeding it to her, hah!

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Next to my love for quinoa protein pancakes (or any pancakes for that matter), long lives my love for oats!  Especially when they're as easy as 1-2-3.  This bowl of raw oats cereal consists of 1/4 C oats, soymilk, flax, banana, mango, cinnamon, and a dollop of Chobani key lime yogurt.  It was also really nice to hear that my friend loved it so much! 

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Matcha overnight oats for the win!  And some life+faith inspiration never hurt anyone. :)

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And to continue on with the matcha flavor theme, the other day I managed to whip up a super fast and improvised batch of matcha oat muffins!  Although it was tasty, it was improvised so definitely far from perfect--meaning, not worth sharing the recipe.

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I know this looks scary, guys.  But hear me out.  This mishmash of leftover taco meat with baked potato, cheese, and ketchup was amazing!  You know those days when it's challenging to take a breather?  Yeap, that's what this kind of dinner is for.

Inspiring Blogs

I often get inspired by certain bloggers' amazing work.  Whether it be a mouthwatering recipe, jaw dropping photography skills, or unique DIY ideas, all of that contributes to making life a bit more fun and cute, wouldn't you agree? ;)

These amazing key lime tartlettes by Eva.  You know my love for all citrus flavored desserts.

A thoughtful post on detoxing our digital system.  It's definitely a challenge nowadays, but I'm determined to make that a way of living before my life becomes too digitally cluttered.

Strawberry oat scones by Hummingbird High.  Need I say more?! 

Changing up your photography station can do wonders!  Ashley is always so generous with her photography knowledge.

A plateful of heirloom caprese with mint pesto sounds so refreshing.  Love and Lemons' recipes and photos are both a breath of fresh air.

Adorable kid party foods that make me want to be a child again.  Joy Cho's whimsical ideas are so fun to read about!

Every outfit is so fun--whether it's simple, old school, classy, or preppy--Marta has a knack for styling unique outfits.

Have a blessed day and let's make the most of it by adopting hopeful attitudes!


Who has been inspiring you lately? 

What are some awesome links you've found?

Korean Recipe: Stonepot Bibimbap 비빔밥

Who needs Korean restaurants when you have a recipe for legit stone pot bibimbap?!  Well okay, let's be realistic and say that we all need a good Korean restaurant from time to time.  But in all seriousness, I hope this recipe goes into your meal rotation sometime in the near future, because it will surely make your life more fun!  That, or more stressful?

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As I mentioned in the past, I wasn't always the "ohhh so I'm proud of my Korean roots and I want Korean food all day everyday, whaaaaa?" kind of gal, until something magical happened, you see.  Marriage happened, which meant that I was out of my parents' house the day before our wedding, and that definitely meant that my mom's amazing cooking would now become a sporadic, yet special treat.  And after marriage, Selah graced my belly as she began to demand certain foods from me, and it was obvious that she wouldn't give up without a fight.  So that's when the scary hormonal shifts began to happen, which then led to my food preferences to change drastically even up until now.  I actually thought that my hormones would stabilize once I gave birth, but boy was I wrong.  I now find myself wanting Korean pork belly like nobody's business and, you guessed it.  A sizzling stone pot filled with spicy bibimbap to go with it!  ;)

And while I don't have pork belly for you right now, I do have this delicious bibimbap recipe!  Let me just encourage you in that it looks a lot more daunting than it really is.  If you don't have a stone pot, which you can easily buy at a Korean market for less than $10,  you can just cook the rice in a rice cooker.  Afterwards, throw in the rest of the ingredients and voila!  You've got yourself a regular bowl of bibimbap which is another equally delicious alternative.  

For this recipe I went ahead and actually cooked the rice in the stone pot, because this particular element produces a nuttier taste, followed by a thin layer of crunchy goodness stuck to the bottom!

homemade-stonepot-bibimbap-recipe

Homemade Stone Pot Bibimbap

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients for rice

  • 1 C rinsed brown rice (or white)
  • 2 1/4 C water for rice (1/4 C less if in rice cooker)

Ingredients for carrots

  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • dash of salt+pepper

Ingredients for meat

  • 1 C diced boneless rib (or other tender meat)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey

Ingredients for spinach

  • 1 C fresh spinach
  • 2 C water

Other ingredients

  • 1 egg sunny side up
  • 1 tsp sesame oil. 
  • I also suggest fresh julienned cucumber, royal fern (from Korean store), bean sprouts, etc., but many other vegetables will work.

Directions

  1. If using stone pot to cook rice, bring it to a boil for 6 minutes uncovered.  Then lower down to simmer and cover it, cook for about 30 more minutes but check up on it while stirring every now and then.  It's much easier to use the rice cooker though.
  2. Saute the carrots and meat in a large skillet.  The carrots should be slightly tender and meat is lightly caramelized.  Set aside.
  3. Cook the spinach in water just until it begins to wilt, like on this Kimbap recipe.
  4. Pan fry the egg and set aside.  You may add fresh julienned veggies, cooked mushroom, or root type veggies in the mix.
  5. If rice is ready, leave it on low-medium heat and add the sesame oil and rest of the ingredients on top, cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour gochujang sauce on top.

Bibimbap Gochujang Sauce

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C gochujang
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey

Directions

  1. Mix them in a small bowl and pour over the bibimbap!
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Basically, this dish consists of separately prepared ingredients that are thrown together into one colorful bowl.  Most ingredients you use will work, and you'll cut down on time if you buy some pre-made side dishes at the store, like this squiggly root called royal fern.

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What's cooking in your kitchen right now?

If you've tried bibimbap, do you like it cold or sizzling in the pot?

Which recipes have you meaning to tackle in the near future, whether it's yours or someone else's?

-For sure I want to try MJ's red bean mochi cake, Ashley's grilled cherry milkshake (omgness), and these amazing salisbury steak meatballs!

Why We Lack Joy: The Art of Compassion

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It's no secret that I'm a huge advocate for living a well balanced life--both emotionally and spiritually.  That's why today we are getting back to our Joy Series!  There's nothing like a spark of inspiration in the spur of the moment, and you know.  I really don't want it to go to waste. :)  So here we go!

Compassion.  Compassion is one of those things this world can definitely use more of, wouldn't you agree?  Quite surprisingly, the word 'compassion' doesn't equate to sympathy, which is what most people feel when they see a hurting individual.  Sympathy is great and all, don't get me wrong, but if I were to be super accurate about it, I would say that it's more like pity.  The interesting thing is that sympathy can only go so far, as it's merely an emotion projected unto the hurting individual.

We all know Webster dictionary is almost always right.  This time though, I beg to differ on its definition of the word 'compassion'...with all due respect.

Compassion (n): "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it."

I don't think it's simply a consciousness of others' suffering.  Rather, I think true compassion requires action no matter how small it may be.  In other words compassion=action.

I understand that we all hurt at one point or another, and perhaps YOU ARE facing some obstacles as we speak, but I think that far too often we escape the idea of serving others by resorting to justifications such as, "I myself am hurting, so I can't extend a helping hand right now".  Or how about this one?  "I'm just a small little individual with no talent, and you expect me to bring change into someone else's life?"  And here comes the big whammy..."God helps those who help themselves"  But you know what?  All of those excuses are probably some of the biggest lies we're told!  And I've been there too.  We've all thought that way at least at one hurting point in our lives, so when I write these things I'm reminding myself too.

So what to do when we are faced with circumstances that practically cripple us, while still showing compassion?  Ask God to give us the strength to overcome, and while so doing to put ourselves out there and love others.  For example, do you see that person behind the cashier register emanating sadness?  Ask how they're doing and genuinely listen to them.  Browsing the aisles of the Vortex, aka Target, and there are people passing right by?  Be mindful of them and give them a word of encouragement. 

Now, my point isn't that we should force ourselves to do these things...especially if we're oozing with hatred for others, though sometimes those things do take more work if we have nothing left to give...but what I am saying is that joy comes from the inner being.  I mean, it just can't wait to break out of the core of our hearts, because compassion and loving others is one of the things we were made for!  Just the fact that we are being intentional and mindful of others makes us ALIVE.  And because we are living our purpose--THE PURPOSE--we know we're right where we're supposed to be.  Also, if we really think about it--when was the last time we felt crappy after feeding the person asking for money?  Yep, my point exactly. 

Finally, even though we may all not share the same faith/beliefs, I wholeheartedly stand firm on the fact that our purpose in life isn't about US, but putting God and others before us.  So...How do we do that when our love tank is empty?  We ask the one who IS LOVE, and the only one who can mend a broken heart.  I really hope that we will make it a point to ask for a heart of compassion, because if we do that even when our world is caving in, God will make sure that we are blessed.  When we help others heal, whether it's by listening to them or buying them a cup of coffee, we ourselves heal along the way (if that's what we need).  It's strange science if you ask me, but from my observation it's preeetty accurate. :) 

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So let's spread compassion because it produces joy within our hearts.  As much as it was devastating for God to give up His life on behalf of us, it was that much more satisfying to see the fruit of it--seeing His creation have a fulfilling and unbreakable relationship with Him.


When was the last time someone showed you compassion and it changed your day, or even your life?

In what ways do you need to show more compassion?

-I know for certain that I want to and need to go to the women's shelter, and have been meaning to.  But since time and taking care of Selah comes first, I haven't found a solution.  See?  An excuse, but I'm working on it. :)

Summer Blast Circuit

Hey guys!  How's your week starting off? 

We have an EXTREMELY busy day ahead of us and will be in Orange County pretty much all day, but hopefully Selah will go with the flow and help us out a bit? :)  I also have this AMAZING workout that I've been performing once/twice a week when I can actually make it out to the park, and in my opinion it is fantastic for fat burning, muscle firming, and core strengthening--particularly if you have only 30 minutes to exercise and cool down.  I guess I could even call it the "Mommy with Stroller Circuit" if I really wanted to, hah!  But in all seriousness, this kind of routine is the best for when you're short on time and want to get fit FAST.

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As always, make sure to give it your all with the little amount you have in order to get a full cardiovascular and strength training session!  And in case you aren't familiar with tricep pushups, there's a link that might help you out.  I highly recommend that you do it with your knees off the floor if you can.  Enjoy and I hope you give this workout a go!

Have a blessed day and let's bless others along the way.


What are some of the best workouts you've done lately?  Please share the links if you have them!

Guh-Mok Korean BBQ on the 4th | South Bay

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July!  We kept it simple and decided to dine at one of our favorite restaurants in Torrance--a Korean restaurant called Guh Mok

Guh Mok offers all kinds of Korean dishes, ranging from the famous hot stone pot bibimbap, to spicy ddeok-bokhee which is otherwise known as one of the most popular street foods in the motherland, all the way to reeeeaally fresh barbeque meat! 

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guh-mok-restaurant-side-dishes

Like every other Korean restaurant, Guh Mok serves plenty of side dishes.  They normally consist of pickled veggies as well as some mild foods, like creamy potato salad and sweet caramelized potatoes.  These two are probably a good option for non-Koreans who aren't used to our pungent but oh-so-addictive spicy dishes!  Greg and I also love the fact that they rotate some of the sides every now and then. This way they keep us guessing whenever we decide to pop in at Guh Mok.

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As you can see, we went with brisket slices and pork belly.  By the end of dinner we were both full but not stuffed!  Well, at least I wasn't.  I'm trying to exercise some self control especially since I stopped breastfeeding last week....you guys, my metabolism is as sluggish as ever and my body feels kind of shocked.  Talk about indigestion like the good ol' times (pre-baby)!

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Guh Mok is so far our favorite Korean restaurant in the South Bay, not only because of the food quality, but also because the ladies working here are extremely sweet and patient.  Now that's something you don't see very often at a Korean eatery, as they're always moving faster than lightning speed and calling them to your table takes quite the effort.  I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about...? ;)

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Guh Mok Korean BBQ // Torrance

2216 Sepulveda Blvd. Torrance, CA 90501

310.517.9200 // Yelp


How did you spend your 4th of July?

What is your favorite style of BBQ?  Have you tried pork belly and brisket slices?

Is food quality or service more important to you?

-To be honest, if the food quality is good then I really don't care about service, hah!  People will always be people so...you know. ;)