June Favorites

by Ellie Betzen | from scratch, mostly in


So what do you know?  June came and went as swiftly as ever, which perhaps isn't too bad of a thing.  At least for me.  Sure, I may be having some of those "special event blues" because beliieeeeeve me!  This was a crazy and eventful month for us--packed with a blessed and fun-filled VBS at church, flying to Kansas with Selah for the first time, weaning her off the breast just this past week (I'll talk about this on a separate post), and...am I missing something else?  Oh yeah!  Let's not forget Selah's Doljanchi and all the preps that went into it. I think it's safe to say that my body has had enough action for the time being. :) 

July, I'm excited to see what you have in store for us.  But for now, let's welcome July with some of my June favorites, shall we?  I really hope you find my features and recommendations somewhat helpful!

Food Love

1st Birthday Cake from Cake House

cake from Cake House Buena Park

So you know that gigantic cake we ordered for the party, which by the way, was meant to feed 100+ guests?  Well, perhaps 'gigantic' is an understatement because there were at least 10 of us who took a plateful of leftover cake home.  Granted, there were less than 90 people who showed up to the party, but I ended up with at least 14 slices and now there are probably 4 left in the freezer.  Poor me, right?  I told you that I'm the greatest cake fan EVER, and thankfully I've learned to cut back this week and took care of this situation.  Sort of.

Running Elsewhere

Although I can't say that running in humidity is very fun, since the last time I did that I got quite humbled, it was a pretty cool experience to explore a city other than the ones in OC and LA.  More than anything, I loved running in such crisp and clean air, where all I saw was long stretches of greenery ahead!  You don't get that here like you do in the Midwest. 

You all know how much I love fitness.  I mean, the way it makes me feel in the aftermath is almost equivalent to taking happy pills!  Whatever that means, haha.  :) 

I mentioned on my weekly workout schedule that yoga is one of my highlights these days.  In fact, it has been for the past 3-4 months and I am extremely surprised by how much my body craves it!  I tend to go through phases with workouts every year--and although I love barre work with Leah, and still do perform most of the routines I've featured on the blog, I feel like I've found my niche within yoga stretches as well.  It is also motivating when I twist myself in every which way possible, only to realize that I'm now able to do such and such pose like the eight angle (Astavakrasana).  I still have a long way to go, but it's a start!  I also try to be mindful of mentioning how I veer away from its spiritual thinking and philosophy, simply because I don't believe it is in alignment with the Word of God. I believe God's Love, along with His Word, are all we need to have a life changing transformation within our hearts.

Fashion+Beauty Love

Pacifica Vegan Lip Tint

pacifica-vegan-lip-tint

I rarely find beauty products that I love right away, and sometimes it takes me a while to actually start liking them.  I think it's partly because I'm not into beauty and makeup like I am with fitness, as an example. 

While I was running errands at Target, I stumbled upon the Pacifica beauty product section and was immediately drawn to their cutely packaged products, hah!  Since natural lip color is one of the few beauty related things I love, I knew I wanted to try Pacifica's Blood Orange lip tint.  It is so beautiful when it goes on the lips!   Pacifica's lip tint contains avocado and coconut oil as the moisturizing ingredient, and not only is it super hydrating, but the color is that of a naturally blushed set of lips.  It isn't too light or too bright--just perfect for those who prefer the more natural look.  Let me warn you, though...it doesn't feel very smooth and velvety when you're putting it on, but the final result is definitely a winner.  I am looking forward to try more Pacifica products in the future, and fingers crossed that they are just as good as this one!

black-sneaker-sandals.jpg

They say there are two kinds of women.  The bag collector and the shoe fanatic.  Well, although I may not be a fanatic, per se, I have a true penchant for shoes.  Make that Korean shoes (especially).  You know, the kind that they ship over from Korea and sell in little Korean fashion boutiques? 

My mother in law wanted to spoil me, and spoil me she did, by gifting me money to go out and buy something for myself.  So I found this pair in a shoe store located in Arirang, which is in the city of Garden Grove.  It was originally priced over $70 but I got it on sale for $40, woot!  #longlivesales  I love how versatile these are.  They go beautifully with A-line skirts, shorts, and jeans--my kind of shoe.  The best part is that they are extremely comfortable, and whenever I slip into them I feel like I'm wearing house slippers.

Time spent with my favorite humans!

Vacation Bible Summer School (VBS) at church, especially when looking after babies.  Babies are probably my favorite. ;)

trader-joe's-gift-card-from-Kat

Really unexpected gifts like this Trader Joe's gift card, from my dearest friend, Kat!


What are some of your June favorites?

Which beauty products caught your attention immediately?

Bags or Shoes???

 


March Favorites

by fitforthesoul in


I probably should have published this post on Tuesday but the excitement to post the green tea éclairs recipe got the best of me; thus, here I am sharing my March Favorites 3 days late!

Food Love

berlin-bistro-kale-salad

Okay I fess up!  This just happened yesterday.  So it technically should be an April favorite, but why don’t we just go with the flow on this one? Winking smile

A dear sister from church, whom I consider a sweet friend and little sister all at the same time, joined me in this wonderful mommy-baby lunch date at one of the cutest cafes near us—Berlin Coffeehouse in Long Beach.  This cafe provides an ultra chic and relaxed experience with its rustic slash modern architecture.  But the best part of all was the kind service and yumtastic meal!

I got the kale salad which included sunflower seeds, fresh feta, avocado, sprouts, and a few other ingredients.  Everything about this dish was explosive even though it’s just a salad and I cannot wait to remake it at home.  Salads may not always look like much but they can be surprisingly awesome in terms of heartiness and flavor!

berlin-bistro-fries

We both shared garlic fries and ooh’d and aah’d with every bite we took.  The spicy harissa sauce (roasted red pepper base sauce) topped it off and complemented the fresh garlicky taste perfectly if I say so myself.  Berlin Coffeehouse is one of those places that leave their mark on your taste buds and little book of good memories, and I can’t wait to go back soon with Greg!

Fitness Love

  • Vinyasa and Power Yoga

image

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been following Ali’s yoga classes on Youtube, and let me tell you something…they are the best.  Never in my life have I been this “addicted” to yoga, which explains my forced self restraint from practicing it more than 3x per week.

Ali has a yoga routine for everyone’s need and not only are they challenging, but her instructions make everything doable.  Oh, so you can't stick your leg out to the side while you're in a pretzel position?  No problem.  Some of my favorite ones can be quite lengthy so I usually end up cutting them short.  I think that Ali’s classes along with some new HIIT circuits I’ve come up with recently have contributed to my overall change in physique, energy levels, and strength. Smile

Fun Love

  • Mommy and Baby Dates

shannen-and-babes

I really need to make more time to stop and smell the roses!  With other moms, that is.  Yesterday’s luncheon with Shannen and the girls was much needed and good for the soul!  If you’re a mom reading this I highly encourage you to get out and talk to other women.  It’s not only edifying but it also helps you recharge to do that much more of a better job with your little one!

  • Frozen

I have to be honest here.  It took me about two times of watching Frozen (coming in and out of it due to a busy baby, haha) to actually like it.  Actually, scratch that.  I love it!  Initially I didn’t understand why everyone raved so much about the music but alas, I am now one of “those” who sing Let it go, let it go over and over.  And to make matters worse, there’s a beautiful Korean rendition by some famous Korean singers; you must watch!  Here’s the link.

I already wrote about this book on my JOY post, but it deserves to be mentioned again.  It is eye opening and quite soothing to the soul, so if you’re looking for a great book about self worth, identity, love—it’s all in here.

  • DIY Photo Props

green-tea-eclairs4

DIY-food-color-board2

I am glad to report that my DIY photo color boards turned out to be a success!  At least in my opinion, haha.  I literally just grabbed the brush and painted my heart out without much thought to it.  Instead of trying to perfect the paint job by making it seep into the cracks, I painted it with rough strokes so that it sports somewhat of that vintage feel.  It didn’t turn 100% perfect but I’m happy with it. Open-mouthed smile  I have seen this awesome DIY distressed wood photo backdrop tutorial by Love and Olive Oil before, so if you want step-by-step instructions you’re in luck!

Past Monthly Favorites:

Tell me about some of your favorites this month, or as of late!

love-ellie


Cheers to 2 Years!

by fitforthesoul in


I promise I wasn’t trying to rhyme there!  But I guess our 2 years of marriage calls for a colorful title? So as I mentioned on my last post, Greg and I spent our evening away from home while his parents watched Selah till the next morning.  Yay!  We knew we didn’t have to worry about neither Selah nor my in-laws because they get along just dandy—they’re pretty much “3 peas in a pod”!  But since we obviously didn’t want to stay too far from home in case there was an emergency, not to mention that we would’ve had to beat the traffic if we were to travel a bit farther, we stayed at the Wyndham hotel in Santa Monica.  Although Santa Monica isn’t too far removed from the city like the bed & breakfast we stayed in during our last mini-vacay, we figured that it’s different enough to make us feel like we really are on vacation.  Sure, there may be some hustle and bustle but what’s not to like about the place?

The beach?  The fact that you’re breathing in some fresh salty air and feeling all zen’d out?  Or the fact that you’re always bound to find a fabulous restaurant?  Or the crazy traffic?  Okay, not that part so moving right along.

Yep, that’s exactly how we feel about Santa Monica!  In case you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet. Winking smile

[FEEL FREE TO SCROLL DOWN TO THE PICTURES IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN THE REVIEW]

We first checked in at the Wyndham Hotel and quickly headed over to Mercado, a Mexican restaurant just a few blocks down the way.  Mexican cuisine doesn’t sound life changing to some of you I’m sure, but Mercado is different from the classic style we are used to in several ways:

  • A lot more vegetarian options (think—the most amazing sauted cauliflowers you will ever try!)
  • fresh and handmade tortillas
  • flavors burst with flavor despite the minimal amount of add-ons like a lava-full of cheese
  • extremely “hipster” atmosphere but with a touch of romantic
  • modern yet rustic architecture

The lighting was so dim, however, that I decided to opt out of snapping a photo of our dishes.  I ordered the Farmers’ Market Enchilada which came with a side of some of the best rice that has ever graced my taste buds!  And to top it off, it also came with perfectly cooked and lightly seasoned nopales.  Fresh and crunchy delight!

Greg ordered the Carnitas dish which was ao to die for.  The meat was extremely tender and the side of cauliflower was happily polished by yours truly. Open-mouthed smile

If you happen to visit Santa Monica and have the flexibility to eat a pricier meal than average, then consider this place!  Just be on the lookout because the MERCADO sign is extremely hard to see.  Greg and I drove around the block about 3 times before finding the spot.

crepe-de-paris-santa-monica All photos have been taken with the iPhone

We ended the night with a [chilly] stroll around the whole area and stopped for some dessert at Café Crepe.

crepe-de-paris-2-years

coffee-in-santa-monica

breakfast-in-santa-monica

So…errmmmm…I guess there was a lot of food involved this time!  And I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that we really ate that much, hah!  All in all, we had such a relaxing time and were reminded once again that we have been blessed with each other beyond measure.  We may have only been married for 2 years, but I feel like we’ve endured so many trials that our bond and communication have grown to be stronger.  I am so excited to see what God is going to do next in our lives so that we can hopefully be a blessing to others as a result.

weddingkisswithgrp

Greg, I think we make a fiiiiiine team and with His help NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

And thank you guys so so so much for reading and being part of our journey.  I always look forward to connecting with you, so thank you for your friendship and support!

What classic style of cuisine would you like to see more “vegetarianized” and “hipsterized”?

What places would you recommend in Santa Monica to someone who’s never been?

If you are in a relationship/marriage, what are some insights you’ve learned so far?

love-ellie


Beard Papa: A Rainbow of Cream Puffs

by fitforthesoul in


For at least 2 years I stuck to the notion that Korean pastries, cupcakes, Urth Café’s baked goods, and alfajores were the only way to do dessert.  Well, I guess that’s still an extensive list of “only way” to do desserts, but I’m glad to say that my taste buds have been enlightened! After several visits to the Torrance Bakery and getting myself 2 mini eclairs each visit, I started to daydream about the little dessert more often than I would have expected.  Perhaps just as much as cupcakes?!  Wait, is that even possible?

Beard-Papa-Gardena

So this brings me to my next point.  Enter the almost-always-reliable Yelp which helped me find a Beard Papa’s shop ten minutes away from my house!  I had only heard good things about this quaint, yet surprisingly delicious franchise eatery in the past, and when Yelp pointed me to their specialty treat—the notoriously ginormous and colorful cream puffs—I was sold.  I mean, cream puffs and eclairs pretty much taste the same in my opinion.

Trying to not get distracted from my errands was a challenge so I quickly made a pit stop at Beard Papa’s in Gardena.  It may not seem like such a big deal if you’re not fond of cream puffs, but what makes this place unique is that they fill the puffs with cream as you order.

Beard-Papas-cream-puffs

You just ask for the cream puff you want.

And then you ask for either the vanilla, chocolate, or green tea filling.  Perfect!  As green tea filling was exactly what I’ve been craving without ever having tried it, hah!

beard-papas-cream-puffs-ffts

cream-puff-with-chocolate-filling

cream-puff-with-greentea-filling

Both were perfectly puffy and slightly flaky.  Delicious!

However…Yes, I do have a however when it comes to the flavor.  The green tea filling was perhaps too mild for me as I could barely taste it.  I usually love flavors that make a STRONG statement, and I think the green tea was hardly detectable.  But if you’re one of those people who prefer mild flavors and aren’t a fan of strong tea, then this might be a good choice for you!  Also, if you swing by the South Bay area (Socal) and stop by Beard Papa’s make sure you bring some cash with you. Smile

I have been forming ideas on some éclair recipes these days, but I’m afraid I might have to go to an expert on this cute little French dessert because I only have a 2-day experience from high school French!

Have you tried eclairs and cream puffs?  What are your thoughts on these desserts?

Do you think they’re the next “fad”?  Or what do you predict the next food fad will be?

-I think it could easily become the next big thing, but I don’t think it will last very long since it doesn’t pair up with Americans’ uber sweet taste buds.

Love,

Ellie <33