The Pursuit of Perfection: The Irony of It All

by fitforthesoul in , , ,


Last weekend I attended one of those events that send my giddiness over the moon and my imagination overflowing with DIY ideas. IMG_9613

I attended my extended cousin’s wife’s baby shower!  Haha, it’s a mouthful isn’t it? I utterly love and appreciate these few relatives that are in my life, not to mention, who actually live only about 15 minutes away!  I grew up not ever having had the opportunity to see my relatives because they all live in the distant land of Korea.

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Christina’s belly is just about ready to release that darling baby, and what surprised me was that she looks as healthy as ever without any pregnancy side-effects.  That’s so awesome and it gives me hope that my future pregnancy(ies) will be smooth sailing.  Winking smile  I don’t know about you, but I think her stomach looks amazing and perfect.  So cute!

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Turns out that my cousin is pregnant as well, and she’s already 5.5 months into her pregnancy.  It’s quite comical that all of us have been getting married and pregnant—well, except me.  At least not for a while!

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Christina is such a DIY (Do it yourself) queen that all the way from her wedding to her first baby shower, everything was made my hand.  I am in love with this little yarn ball!  I can’t wait to make some time and tackle this little project in the future.

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And of course, a good share of tasty dessert, cake and food was consumed.  I particularly loved the mini lemon cupcake and shortbread thumbprint cookie!  It’s probably one of my favorite cookies because it brings me sweet memories of Argentina.  Now, I feel like for somebody who was super elated to welcome a new member into the family while having a blast at a party full of women and good food, I had pretty good self control with the way I ate.  I wish that on this post I could give you ways of "How to:  control your cravings, etc.”  But I feel lead to write about something different and perhaps a bit on the touchy side.

One thing of which I’ve come to realize (more so still in the process of learning and embracing) is the importance of balance in my life.  Ah—that good ol’ balance that we all long for and work so hard to achieve!

I consider myself a rather healthy eater and once in a while I consume a few meals here and there that contain heavier ingredients than preferred, and sometimes they require more leniency of my part to just “let go” and simply eat it without thinking about it twice.  Many of the meals that I show on the blog may seem a bit on the sugary side as of late.  The reasoning behind that is because I want to show others that in order to be physically healthy, we don’t need to be 100% perfect in our diet.  I sometimes tend to struggle with needing to eat 100% healthy food because a) certain things can mess with my stomach b) there’s an all or nothing mentality that stems from my slightly disordered past.  I tend to lean towards the “all” side.  Nevertheless, I want to make it a point to readers and to myself that although we should definitely consume wholesome food full of nutrients along with supplements to better nourish our bodies, there’s a fine line between healthy and what some call, “orthorexic”.

Please please!  Before you go any further and get defensive about this term, remember that I’m just talking about the difference between a healthy balance and obsessive habits that can be destructive.

Not very surprisingly, God has been showing me through marriage that I can’t reach perfection in any area of my life.  I’ve been realizing more and more that if we STRESS about perfection and healthy this and healthy that to an EXCESSIVE point, then that preoccupation itself can potentially become unhealthy for our mind and soul.  I believe that in anything in life, whether it be our diet, workout regimen, our jobs, our relationships, our schooling, if we take it to a perfectionistic attitude it will only end up harming us inside.  It is so important to watch out for ourselves and not become wrapped up in IDOLIZING those things—which is HARD NOT TO DO!

I’m not suggesting that we need to settle for less because on the contrary, God wants us to strive for high standards in our endeavors and in the way that we love others.   In fact, I plan on treating the people in my life with loads of veggies and healthy treats as some of them are suffering from diabetes.  But what I AM suggesting is that we need to embrace reality and have the right heart and mindset; our lives are so much more short lived and temporary than we might think.  We need to aim for good health while being open to bumps on the road.

Healthy living is an amazing thing and I wouldn’t stop pursuing it, and neither should you.  But I need to remind myself that perfection in ANYTHING IN LIFE is not possible, nor will it ever happen because this is a fallen world.  As you’ve probably heard the saying, “it’s about the journey, not about the destination”, this holds true in the case of pursuing health.  May we remember that life isn’t about perfection and that the more lenient and resilient we are in all of life’s circumstances, the more blessed we will be. Smile  So let’s hold each other accountable because this ain’t easy for me either.  Deal?

Now, let’s eat healthy!

Then nosh on that big juicy burger.

Get down on that yoga mat and crank out some burpees.

But be okay with not eating the perfect meal and eat like everyone else at that party you’re attending.

Be flexible.  Be resilient.  Be joyful and be thankful for this life [and the next].

God loves you for who you are and not what you achieve.  Same goes for me although I’m still in the process of learning this truth.

Do you have all-or-nothing tendencies?  If so, what areas do you struggle with?

Do you consider yourself resilient and lenient when it comes to healthy living?

Love,

Ellie <33


Marvelous Mondays Recap

by fitforthesoul in , , , ,


This is the perfect time to join in on Katie's Marvelous in my Monday series since I'm talking about...you guessed it.  Monday.  

Two Mondays ago Greg and I had date night just like most of our Mondays.  Actually, it was more like another one of those date days since we wanted to take advantage of the sunny skies and cool and breezy night all at once.

We had some business to take care of at the San Juan Capistrano area that day, so while we were there we decided that it would be a great opportunity to re-visit "our" place!  The few fond memories we have there, though not at all to be minimized, include the time when we were thinking of making the Franciscan Gardens our wedding venue.  Then, since we fell in love with the beautiful atmosphere and oh-so-photogenic old school surroundings, we had our engagement pictures taken there as well. :)  My, how time flies!

Oddly enough, all of downtown SJC seems to close up  shop at exactly 5 p.m.  Huh?!!  Exactly.  So before they shut the doors on us we hurried our way into the Hidden House Coffee as I was super curious to try this place out when we were last there.  Isn't it so adorable outside?!  It is like some secret garden hidden in the woods.

The decorum inside is quite minimalistic and really different from the outside view.

It was a pretty hot day, so iced coffee it was! :D  In my opinion, there's nothing better than iced coffee and iced tea on a warm sunny day...

Greg added his beloved milk and creamer, and I went with soy as usual.  Immediately after Greg sipped sipped on his straw, he scrunched his face and said that he really didn't like the taste.  I took a huge gulp and knew right away what he didn't like about it.  It was a very strong brew and in addition, it had very "flowery notes" to it.  Don't get me wrong!  I actually love strong coffee and wouldn't have it any other way, so it wasn't terrible in my opinion.  However, I've come to the conclusion that my favorite brew leans to the nuttier and smokier side rather than flowery.

Though I don't consider myself a coffee connoisseur, I definitely examine it and make sure to give an honest review to my fellow coffee lovers out there.  Because trust me.  I know how disappointing a bad cup of joe can be! Drinking bad coffee feels like the equivalent of a kid getting his balloon taken away and then getting a kick in the shin.  Okay maybe that's an exaggeration...? :D  It wasn't too bad, but definitely not my favorite.

Isn't this place so cute?  And ahem, I have to say that I'm really pleased with the pictures I took with my point and shoot.  It's not often that they come out like this.  Thank you sunlight, and thank you camera!

Yay, a normal one! Hahaha.

Yesterday was a super busy and long day for us.  It was filled with so much love and joy throughout our church because it started with a great service, a hula dance from two lovely ladies, two baptisms, a huge feast (obviously), a hospital visitation, and sorting out donation food and clothes filled boxes that we're sending to the Philippines!

*Phew*  

On my last post I mentioned that Greg's dad is really talented at building things and that he tore apart and re-did the whole baptism pool.

Isn't it really nice? :D

Since we were exhausted (but in a good way), we decided to pay a visit to an organic vegetarian restaurant called Steamed.  It's located in a somewhat sketchy part of Long Beach.

I ordered their "Tuna" salad, which is vegan, and I was surprisingly delighted by the taste and fresh ingredients!  Although the chickpea "tuna" salad didn't taste like fish at all, and I wouldn't want vegan food to smell fishy because I'm a "real" fish lover, the flavors went together perfectly.  I really want to make this at home!  If only I had the recipe.

Greg had their Cal Quesadilla and it was amazing.  He loved it so much that he literally cleaned his plate!  It's really rare for him to do that, but aside from the fact that it was delicious, I think that the vegetarian aspect of it helped him digest better and feel less full.

Check them Out

I've been wanting to give a shout out to many of you out there simply because I feel so blessed to have you in my life, even if they're very long and cyber distance relationships.  Thank you for inspiring me, supporting me, and allowing me to be a reader of your blogs/sites as well!

Min [Savor the Rainbow]-  Congratulations on her first day of school and God bless her with her studies!  Her love for God, writing, attitude, and fun posts keep me goin'.

Allie [Forgotten Beast]-  I'm so proud of her for aiming to be in a figure competition despite the challenges she may face from being vegan!  Her down to earth attitude is refreshing.

Lauren [Oatmeal with a Fork]-  Her honest and thought provoking comments are always encouraging.  And her perseverance through this time of potential moving and transition is somethin'!  Plus, I love her mouth watering recipes.

Coco [Roost Blog]-  Her beautiful blog, pictures, recipes, and smile say it all!  Her simplistic way of living with her husband while cooking up delicious food to cater to his Crohn's disease is an amazing feat.

Katie [Katie k Did]-  Katie's photos are so gorgeous and fun to look at!  Also, her passion for wholesome eating and crossfit are really inspiring.  So many people seem to have adopted more "natural" ways of eating through her blog.  Also, she has her own photo website now.

Fitsugar-  Fun and informative site where you can learn about new health tips as well as connect with other people around the world.

Something Swanky-  She's a lover of mouth-watering sweet treats, and she's also a master at making them and doing how-to tutorials!

Jen [Head to Toe]-  Her cuteness overload, sincere character, successful Youtube channel, all while being a super humble God loving gal, is a reminder that we need to use our gifts to the fullest while giving God the praise for those very gifts.  Oh yeah, and she's a fellow 5 foot Asian.  Woop woop!

Man, I'd love to add more in here but this computer is slowing down like crazy.  I just want all of you out there to know that you make me smile, whether you know it or not! And I want all of us to know that in the end, it's really  not about what we accomplish in life, but just being ourselves and embracing each other for who we are.  You are LOVED.

Live life to the fullest, y'all.

Love,

Ellie <33


Reward in Perseverance

by fitforthesoul in , ,


Happy Saturday everyone! This is going to be a lengthy post, so if you actually want to read all of it, then grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and relax. :D  I will be talking about things that are really significant in my life, as I’ve been praying about this matter for so long.  Well, pretty much most of my life.  And hey, we’re talking about more than 10 years since I’m still in my early 20’s.  Aren’t you jealous?  :D  Just kidding.

Basically, I’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ ever since I was at the ripe old age of 4.

red lippsss When I was two.  Just because I looked cute.

Ever since I had let Him into my heart, I knew that anything and everything was from Him because He loves me so much.  Though I was cognitively young, my spirit was bursting at the seams with a knowledge of who God was, and most importantly, what it meant to have a relationship with Him. 

You see, I didn’t necessarily grow up in a “Christian” environment or household, aside from the fact that every now and then my parents would drop me off at church or I would just walk to service on my own, since in Argentina there are pretty much no regulations when it comes to keeping children safe on the streets, and cops don’t even care.  But even when my parents did attend church service, they would leave right away.  It was then that I realized that I wanted to—no—I needed to pray for them for the relationship with God that they’d been missing out on…and that peace that they longed for so long, but yet didn’t have a clue as to how they could find it.

I have to be honest that day in and day out my heart broke for my family because I wanted them to know God’s love, because I believe that it’s the only true love that lasts…for eternity!!!  I mentioned in a post a little over a year ago that my sister had finally come to make peace with God.  And that deserves a hallelujah, right?!!  Well, fast forward to about 4 months ago, and my dear brother in law finally surrendered his heart to Jesus.  As I type these words I’m having such a difficult time maintaining a straight face, partly because of joy, and partly because of the pain that they all had to go through before they met God.  Now, this isn’t to say that pain doesn’t come to a Christian because truth be told, sometimes pain and opposition can get greater as we walk a life of faith.  But the great news is that it is all worth it in the end because He promises to be with us wherever we go, and He comes to our rescue when we least expect it.

Now fast forward again to…yesterday!  Yup, yesterday.

As soon as I awoke in the morning I had a deep tugging in my heart telling me that my parents wanted to finally open up to God, because you see, since last year they’ve been so much more open to prayer and topics about faith.  Just yesterday, I felt that they were somehow “ready”—whatever that meant, I wasn’t quite sure.  That this time around, there wouldn’t be any more of “Ohh we’ll go to church when the time is right.  Hmm  once we stop working and retire we will probably be willing to listen to a church sermon”.  Ohhhh the list of “reasonings” just goes on!  And after having prayed and thought about it for a while, I decided to call my parents at work and asked them if they wanted to go to my old church, since it’s so close to their place.  And without hesitation, their answer was a big fat incredible YES. 

Yes?!! Well, is that it?  Are you being serious or are you pulling my leg?”  I thought to myself.  And just like that, we met up at night to attend the church’s Friday night service which is held weekly.  I have to be honest with you here.  All throughout the time of praise and prayer I was a nerve wreck (in my heart of course) because I didn’t know what their final response would be.  I finally gave it to God and started to focus on Him and not on my parents.

The message was not only the same exact thing that I was reading about in my morning devotional, but it was exactly what my parents needed to hear.  At least, that’s what I’d like to think.  Pastor Han’s sermon basically revolved around the fact that the moment we forget about God’s grace, we are at a vulnerable state and it’s that much harder to turn back to Him.  And I couldn’t agree with him more on that matter.

After all was over, I quietly and patiently awaited for their response.

*Cue the crickets*  Yeah, it was one of those moments.

To my delight, they were extremely blessed by the message, and although they tried to hide the elation that they felt (because Korean parents aren’t very expressive to begin with), I just knew that God had answered my prayer.  They’re curious to find out what the Sunday service will be like, and it seems like they’re willing to give it another shot.

I realize that church isn’t the only way of “believing in Jesus”.  I believe that church for many people is just the tip of the iceberg of tasting God’s love, and for some other people, church is the cherry on top in their walk with Him.  Whatever the case may be, church is just a hospital for those who are hurting, and whether we are aware of it or not, all of hurt in some way because life is tough!  But how much better is it to let God carry us through the storm?

Greg said to me once, “I would rather suffer in the light with God rather than walk through it alone in the darkness.”  I think this was the revelation that was given to my parents as of last night.  Hopefully, the hurt they’ve received from “hypocritical” Christians will be healed and mended because believe me, we are all hypocrites at one point or another.  And the crazy thing is that Christ never promised us that we’d be perfect witnesses here on earth!  But we should strive to become more like Him in truth and in love.  The funny thing is, I totally understand why so many people don’t want to know Christ because of others’ “hypocrisy”.  I mean, why should they when they don’t see Jesus in them, right?!  We should ideally reflect Him one way or another, right?  But we’re all imperfect people in need of healing.  Simple as that.

I know that this was an INTENSE post, but this is who I am!  And as the motto of my blog suggests, good health starts from the inside out, I am constantly reminded that yes, watching out for mine and others’ physical health is important, but what’s even more important and eternal is taking care of our souls.

familywedding My beautiful family

Although I know that praying for my family is not over yet, as we should always be praying for one another, I feel so blessed to have experienced this amazing victory.  It’s almost as if God is giving me a nugget of gold of a reminder me to always persevere.  No matter what, always push through in prayer until I receive an answer.  Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes it’s yes, and sometimes it’s just silent for a long time (hello, 10+ years!).  But regardless, He always answers.

I do apologize in advance if I came off as preachy!  Because I don’t mean to be, and if I did sound that way, it’s all because of my limited writing skills…but, I’m working on it! ;)

What I don’t apologize for is the fact that God loves you so very much.  As weird as it may sound, He desires to be with us and be loved by us.  Say what??!!!  Loved by me, a minute human being?

Yeah.  I’m confused by that statement as well.  Welcome to the club.

I love you guys and hope that you have an amazing rest of the weekend!

PS:  You don’t have to feel obligated to leave a comment if you don’t want because I understand it’s a heavy topic.  I’m just blurting out the things that make me happy and thankful, and if you read through all of this, then more power to ya.

Love,

Ellie <33


Working on My Passions

by fitforthesoul in , ,


Oh man, have these past few days been busy and tiresome!  Between you and me, waking up super duper early in order to spend a whole day with kids running around as if they had endless amounts of Red Bull is no easy job. IMG_9308

But I’m sure you and I already knew that. :P  Even then, VBS has been a blast simply due to the fact that the children are learning so much about God while enjoying themselves.

Yesterday’s “promise from God” was God is with us, and today’s promise challenged us to dig deeper into learning that God cares for us.  Sometimes, even we older folks need to go back to the basics and re-learn everything, not just by head knowledge but heart knowledge, otherwise known as experience.  I tell ya, if child like faith that is oozing from these children’s hearts is so heart warming to little old me, then I can’t even imagine what it would look like from the Jesus’ perspective.

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I don’t know what it is lately, but I’ve been actively pursuing my passions even more than I normally am used to.  For example, this morning I finally came up with a breakfast recipe that required fabulously healthy ingredients to kick start my day.  Actually, I started on this dish last night and baked it before I went to bed.  When morning came around and I was forced gladly woke up at the butt-crack of dawn, I simply warmed it up in the microwave for a few seconds.

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Ho ho ho…I bet you’re super curious what this is, right? ;) Well, I can’t reveal that just yet because although the recipe was fantabulous in my very own eyes, Greg thought it was yummy but not yummy enough to climb up walls.  If Mista G. doesn’t approve with a big goofy grin, then the recipe is not post-worthy just yet and I refuse to do it till I’m ready.  At least the picture came out somewhat decent, no?

Which brings me to my next point.

I’ve been adoring my camera’s potential more and more each day as I spend some free time playing around with the settings.  Sure, I may not be a great photographer like these wonderful gals, but photography surely is one of my newly discovered passions thanks to blogging.  In actuality, my interest in photos started when I first got my DSLR.  Oh, the wonderful possibilities that the blog world has introduced into my life!  In a strangely delightful way, I feel like God has given me this platform not only to “have fun”, but to share my passion with others who have the slightest bit of interest in Fit for the Soul.

And of course…I love working out and all that the fitness world has to offer.  I’ve been getting back into the groove of running intervals as well as ballet inspired workouts.  One activity that I cannot wait to go back to is bouldering with Greg.  Approximately 3 years ago, we used to go to indoor rock climbing classes 1-2 times a week, and we’re planning to tackle that sometime very soon.

And another thing I am in love with?

Children!

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No, not in that creepy kind of way!  :P  I just love their pure hearts and the smile they bring to my face.

Share your passions with me!  What have you discovered through blogging (if you blog)?

Are there any things you’ve picked up again recently? 

Love,

Ellie <33


Asian Pasta Salad with Orange-Ginger Dressing

by fitforthesoul in , , ,


What a marvelous Monday it is, my friends!

Thank you for hosting, Katie!  I will have to be honest with you guys and tell you in plain words:  My MARVELOUS today is that I'm having a heart of gratitude!

I know I may seem overly chirpy half of the time, but that's because I always try to have my perspective filtered through God and His Word.  And to show you that it is possible to remain with an attitude of thanksgiving, I have this documented for ya.

For the past few days I've been really struggling with my burning stomach symptoms of which nobody knows the cause  because every time I get them it's a different diagnose.  Hence, no one seems to know if it's IBS, stomach flu, too much acid, etc.  But thankfully, I feel much better today. Hallelujah!

There's still some discomfort there but most likely it will be 100% gone by the end of the day.  Not to mention, the bloating and extreme water retention that I'm constantly experiencing most definitely takes a toll on my body image, because it makes me feel "big" or like I've gained a whole lot of weight.  It definitely doesn't help when somebody asked me if Greg and I are finally expecting!

But you know what?  I brushed that off fairly quickly and forgave that person right away, because sometimes we just want to be nice to others and accidentally or unknowingly say something that's a little "out of line" without even meaning to hurt their feelings.  I knew that the longer I dwelt upon that comment and negative emotion, the less I'd be able to focus on God's true love for me.  I know that it is ultimately not about me--and I want to make His Grace over my life worth fighting for.

Having our eyes and hearts focused on the blessings that we have, rather than the negative aspects of life, can bring about a whole different dimension into our lives.  We definitely become what we think and feel, and changing the patterns of our thoughts is so crucial when it comes to coping with our daily obstacles.  In my opinion, this is one of the very basic steps to living an extraordinary life.  To exceed the limits that we thought we ever had, and to reach our full potential in fulfilling the purpose that God has for every single one of us.

I hope I'm not the only one having a marvelous Monday!  So why don't you share with us your marvelous?  Remember that struggling with something is actually a good sign!  It's a sign that we are alive and it means that we fight for what we believe is right. :)

Healthy and Tasty

Alright, so you might recall when I briefly mentioned that I had a blessed time with my family on the Fourth of July.  In addition to many laughs and watching Daniel chasing Orion (our "husky" cat) around the entire night, we also had a variety of scrumptious food.

Our "husky" cat!  He likes to study as you can see.

Surprise surprise!

Not really. :)  Because I'm sure that most of you had your fair share of delicious home cooked family meals on that day as well.  And I know the world doesn't revolve around me nor my blog, but if you're the least bit interested in some delicious, refreshing, summery pasta salad, then this one is for you.

 

Asian Pasta Salad with Orange-Ginger Dressing

This Asian inspired dressing goes really well with pasta salad or just a plain green salad.  Although this recipe includes a good amount of honey as the sweetener, it's still on the rather healthy side because honey is on the lower end of the Glycemic Index, which means that the blood sugar levels in the body will not peak as quickly as sugar does.  Ultimately, this means less "sugar crash" and more energy.  Youpi!

Makes approximately 1.5~2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 3 TBSP fresh ginger, no skin
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1/3 C sesame oil
  • sprinkles of sesame seeds (optional)
  • 2 TBSP fresh orange juice (or bottled)
  • 2 TBSP orange marmalade (optional)
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1/2 TBSP Miso paste (tastes better with it)
  • 1 TBSP cilantro

Ingredients for Pasta

  • 12 oz. whole wheat Rotini pasta (whole box)
  • 1/2 C grated carrots
  • 1 C Edamame beans

Directions

  1. Grab your food processor or Magic Bullet and add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.  Process until the ginger root is completely pureed.
  2. Now add the orange juice, marmalade, Miso paste, and honey.  Mix for another 30 seconds or so.  Finally, add the cilantro and sesame seeds to pulse just a few times.  I prefer those ingredients to remain a little more intact and visible.
  3. Try to dab a fork in the mixture to scoop out any stringy pieces from the ginger root.  Now, it is best to refrigerate the dressing for at least a few minutes.
  4. Cook the pasta according to directions and make it Al Dente.  Once it is finished rinse it with cold water.  Add the grated carrots, Edamame beans, and chilled dressing.
  5. Mix everything gently with a wooden spoon and voila, it is finished!

This pasta salad was a real hit with my family!  So much so that my brother in law requested the recipe so that my sister can make it for him, and naturally, he took the rest home with him to chow down on it during his lunch break.  :D

Since I already knew how hectic the Fourth of July would be (hello last minute shoving things in the closet house cleaning and cooking!), I was wise enough to think ahead the night before and got started on this salad dressing.  Then, I refrigerated it overnight and I have to say that the longer it's been chilled, the better it tastes!

As you may have already noticed, I don't always go back to my recipes and use them up all that often.  But that's because I hate being tied down to one recipe while all my creative juices are bursting out of my brain!  Haha.

Nevertheless, this one might be a different story because it's easy, quick, and healthy enough to eat for days on end.  Well, we'll see about that, so keep me accountable guys! ;)

 What obstacles do you constantly find yourselves fighting to overcome?

How do you change your patterns of thought?

-I ask for prayer, read the Bible, call out Scripture, and just become vulnerable before God!

What are your favorite pasta salad recipes?  Dressings?

Do you make your own dressing at home?

Love,

Ellie <33


Camping Out

by fitforthesoul in , , , ,


Happy weekend guys!  Are you having a weekend filled with joy and blessings?  I sure hope you are! I definitely had a weekend full of surprises and encouragement through my church family as we camped out at the Lake Casitas Recreation Area.  Last time I mentioned that this would be my first time ever camping out in the wild outdoors.  However, I made a mistake and forgot that I actually did get to camp and sleep in a tent before...for a full 7 days!

I know, how can a girl forget that she's been camping before for that long, right?  Well, that's because my first experience happened in Mexico about 2 years ago, when Greg and I were on a mission trip building houses for the people living in the villages.  I guess I thought of it more as ministry [which it was] rather than camping.

Well, that's enough talking and I'll let the pictures do the rest because I am pooped!  :P

Remember that good ol' activity called "stone skipping" that most of our technology immersed generation isn't even aware of?  We did that and it was cool....Call me old fashioned, but this is where the fun is at!

I seriously wanted to jump off this dock and swim!  The water was so pristine and calming, yet it reminded me of the stories in the Bible when Peter was walking on water.

And of course, what would a great camping trip be without some amazing food?  I said it before and I'll say it again.  Filipino brathas and sistas truly know how to feast!  They are all so talented and hospitable that it's kind of unbelievable.  Oh and I think I grew 2 jean sizes.

One of my faves--runny eggs!

Things got crazy over at Lake Casitas last night.  :D  Everyone was still chilling around the bonfire singing and playing their guitars, while Greg and I crawled into our little tent to get some sleep so that we could wake up early.  I gave Greg a free tanning service with his ginormous, bright flashlight.  Hah!

All in all, our camping trip was a huge success not only because of the great food, awesome company, and ridiculously funny skits, (by the way, our group won the skit and our prize was to sit in the VIP table for breakfast this morning ;)) but because God showed up in an amazing way.  Every conversation was filled with love and edification for one another.  In the end, what more can I ask for?  Nothing.

When we left the camp site Greg and I were hungry for some lunch, so we stopped at The Panini Place in the city of Camarillo.

To start off and wake ourselves up, we ordered some iced coffee.  We were sleepy, stinky, dusty, and full of uneven tan lines.  It's a miracle they even served us food!

This cute little cafe is based off of European cuisine and atmosphere, so the whole place felt nice and cozy.  The food was delicious as well!  It wasn't too heavy like most paninis that we're used to.  The bread tasted fresh and crisp, while the ingredients inside the sandwiches were perfectly seasoned.

I ordered the Veggie Panini, which I special ordered and subbed the mozzarella for goat cheese instead.  On the side, I had the most delicious Italian Wedding Soup I have ever tasted!  It kind of reminded me of the flavors that I grew up with in Argentina.

Greg got the Old Town Panini, which includes tri-tip, provolone cheese, grilled onions, fresh tomatoes and mayonnaise all on French roll.  It was really good.  So good that I took two several bites. :D

We both recommend The Panini Place to anyone living near the Camarillo and Ventura area.  The price is not too pricey nor too cheap.  I would say that it's somewhere in the middle.  The food is satisfying yet light on the stomach, so it's great for digestion.  For me that's always a big plus.

Before we knew it, we drove back home and unpacked our bags.

You would think that for dinner I would have thrown together a salad bowl for the both of us, but I finally got my second wind from retreating to the wild outdoors that I made a mess in the kitchen just for this.

Recipe coming soon!

What's the highlight of your weekend?

Do you like to retreat to places when things get crazy in life?

-Sometimes I love to just drive down to the beach and walk around!

Love,

Ellie <33