My best husband-approved soup recipes. One of the easiest and best things for your health.

Guess what?! I cut bangs! I asked my hairstylist cousin if she thought I’d look good with bangs and she said start off small. Every time I have bangs I have them for a few months then vow to never have them again. Well, I’ve since learned that you can just side part your hair and swoop it and voila, weird short bangs begone! So basically, no risk. They’re not perfect, but they’ll do. Here I am at the LMU library. When I cut them I felt like Billie Jean (’80s movie- you wouldn’t understand) or Jason Bourne’s girlfriend cutting my own hair. 

I started realizing however long ago that perhaps I should follow certain lifestyle methods of the Chinese and Japanese since they’re so dang healthy. I start the morning drinking a cup of lemon water followed by a cup of hot green tea, and after 30 minutes I eat breakfast. And boy, if you struggle with being regular, just follow this method and you’ll be as regular as Colgate regular flavor toothpaste. Well, this particular method I got from Gwyneth Paltrow (GOOP), but it’s like she’s her own country I guess. 

So, I’ve adopted the tradition of trying to have some sort of hot soup every meal, like when you go to a Chinese restaurant and there’s always egg drop soup available. Matthew said he thought canned soup was yummy, but my soup blows Campbell’s out of the water. Aww.

Here are some of my husband-tested, wife-approved soup recipes:

Hearty Whole Mung Bean Soup – I used kielbasa instead of ham, and once didn’t use chilis or onion and it was still yummy. Mung beans are really good for you, and can clear heat in your gut, which is what I really need, according to my acupuncturist. I bring this one to school with me in my Foogo on my long day  because it’s so hearty and easy to make the night before. (“Long” as in I see two of my classmates for 8 hours in just two classes, and that’s not even all of them.)

Egg Drop Soup – I left out the cornstarch, and sometimes add small veggies like peas, spinach, or zucchini, because Lord knows we all need more fiber and veggies. Well, my UP app kept nagging me about eating more fiber.

Chicken and Wild Rice soup Panera copycat – SOOO good y’all. Instead of the heavy cream I used almond milk and added a tablespoon or two of Earth Balance margarine. 

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup – This is actually not great for my gut because it’s so spicy but oh man. 

And last but not least, PHO! Turkey Pho – This is a more intensive recipe, but if you want a super easy quick fake pho, try this.  I always have pho, pad thai, and egg roll noodles on hand, you know, for emergencies. 

And the easiest quickest soup I’ve ever made:

Serves 2:

2 cups chicken broth

1.5 Tbs soy sauce

veggies

 

My healthy spin on Martha Stewart’s Simple Crepes

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Sautéed apple and yogurt crepe for breakfast

I wanted a fun yummy brunch today after church, so I asked my tummy what it was feeling like, and it said “crepes.” What I made was a crepe filled with a sausage/mushroom/spinach gravy topped with a type of hollandaise sauce. We both had two, and we warmed our third crepe with a half tablespoon of butter (Earth Balance for me) in the middle topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Delectable! (Side note: I’ve also made a gluten free crepes recipe with corn starch, and I honestly do not notice a difference.)

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For dessert: melted butter, cinnamon, powdered sugar

I used Martha Stewart’s Simple Crepe recipe but I used 1/2 whole wheat flour, raw cane sugar, did 1/2 almond milk, substituted 1 flax egg, and used Earth Balance margarine. The consistency and taste were perfect.

For the filling I used All Recipe’s Crepes with Spinach, Bacon, and Mushroom Filling. I didn’t have any bacon so I used kielbasa, for the flour gravy I used whole wheat, and I omitted the Parmesan for my sake. Next time we’ll probably halve or nix the gravy as, overall, it seemed a bit mushy.

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Sausage, spinach, mushroom crepe for dinner

 

 

Afterwards, I looked up crepe cake recipes, and for my next birthday I’m definitely trying my hand at one. The dilemma is which to choose: lemon mascarpone, chocolate eclair, creme brulée, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate amaretto, strawberry nutella, raspberry rose. . . Although, after taking a look at all the dairy that’s in the recipes, I better stay away (unless I use a dairy alternative), so I guess I’ll be making the Lemon Meringue or vegan Blackberry Cannoli Cream!

If you wanted some crepe filling inspiration, here are some savory and sweet ones! 

All in all, Matthew doesn’t necessarily like healthy things, but he loved this savory and sweet crepe meal! Definitely a repeat. Now, time to clean the kitchen. . .

Handmade men’s vintage style cardigan

One of my favorite things I ever made was a men’s cardigan, made with a ponte double knit fabric for structure. It’s an incredibly simple and quick garment to make, and I love that the ponte fabric is pretty wrinkle resistant. Here is a famous model in one of the cardigans. He’s quite tall so I customized them to his size.

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Wait that’s not a cardigan model, that’s a baby wearing my hat!

My mom’s wrinkle-free face: Just 2 products

Happy Saturday! So, I’ve been doing a lot of research on K-Beauty and anti-aging products and procedures. The latest company I looked into was Glow Recipe, which was featured on Shark Tank. I’d like to try one of their masks, namely the Organic Sea Kelp Facial Sheet Mask. What I use right now is bentonite clay that I got from Bulk Herb Store ($9 for 1 pound.) It’s so cheap because it’s not in a super fancy branded container, just a bag!

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If you ever wanted to see first-hand if a product works for aging skin, we could use my mom’s face as a perfect example! Six years ago when I moved back to the Midwest, I noticed that her face was very dry and wrinkly. After doing an assessment with her, we did some things that dramatically reduced her wrinkles. I wasn’t an expert but I do read a ton about skincare.

  1. No need to wash your face in the morning, which strips your face of oils. Instead, if needed, use some witch hazel on a cotton ball.
  2. We bought a bottle of Rose essential oil from Young Living, and put 3 drops into her Aveeno Absolutely Ageless night cream she already had (super affordable- get at any drugstore.) She said she saw results instantly, namely the wrinkle between her eyebrows.

That’s it! That’s all we did. I told her she needs to wear sunblock even if it’s cloudy out but she refuses, so there’s that.

After seeing her again at Christmas, I was surprised at how taut and smooth her skin looked. Matthew asked me in private if she had had some plastic surgery done. I laughed and said No, she just takes good care of her skin!

Some additional things I added to her nutrition:

Young Living’s Ningxia Red (this may seem pricey, but it’s just $1.25/day, plus we get 2-4 free bottles every year with our rewards points.)

Young Living’s Sulfurzyme powder

Garden of Life’s women’s one-a-day food-based multivitamin

She is also a regular green tea drinker and brothy soup with leafy greens and sweet potato eater. I think a lot of women think that taking all these vitamins is super expensive, but for one, it’s your dang health, and two, the aforementioned vitamins/supplements are not just for healthy skin but for your joints, energy, and overall well-being. If you want to read more about my personal skin care regimen, see this previous post. I’d like to add that in the winters, I spray my homemade glycerin makeup setting spray on my face, and it gives me an amazing dewy look as well as keeps my skin hydrated. In the summer, I lightly do two mists of it on both sides of my face (everywhere but my t-zone). And, of course, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and the occasional glycolic acid peel!

The rose essential oil from Young Living is pretty pricey at $244 retail, but it’s definitely worth it and really cost-effective, considering we only use 3 drops in an entire bottle of night cream, so one bottle will last you maybe 5 years. Contact me if you want to purchase, you’ll need a referral if you want the wholesale pricing!

In closing, remember,

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Quick & delicious breakfast: Rosemary arugula poached egg breakfast bowl

IMG_6565.JPGThis morning I felt like being creative with my breakfast, so I perused my new cookbook, Caroline Potter’s All American Paleo Table Cookbook. I didn’t have some of the ingredients for her Rosemary egg hash, so I made some substitutions… well basically it’s not really the same recipe, but I was inspired by her recipe.

In this rosemary arugula breakfast bowl, the flavors of each of the items can be appreciated because of the simplicity of the ingredients. I love using arugula since it has a bite to it, and is so healthy for you. When I don’t have arugula I use spinach.

As I was making this meal I was reminded of making breakfast at home this past Christmas. I broke open a farm-fresh egg and noticed 1) How large it was- It didn’t even fit properly in the egg carton and 2) How hard it was to open. My mom later told me it was a duck egg. Ha! She has dozens of eggs sitting at home. Lucky for her, her coworker has chickens and gives her a dozen eggs for $0.50. Um, where can I find hospitality and prices like that in Orange County? Do tell.

Ingredients:

Steamed rice, white or brown

Handful of arugula

2 fresh free-range eggs

1/8 tsp rosemary

salt and pepper (I like to use Himalayan pink salt for added minerals)

Optional: salsa

Directions:

  1. Poach eggs to your liking and dry them on a paper towel. For me, the runnier, the better!
  2. Put a scoop of steamed rice into a bowl. (I always have some pre-made steamed rice on hand in the fridge for quick lunches, then just microwave it for 1.25 minutes to heat up. Not ideal to microwave, but it’s the quickest option, and it softens just fine.)
  3. Add a handful of arugula on top. Place eggs on top, sprinkle on rosemary, salt and fresh-cracked pepper.
  4. Optional: I added a tablespoon of salsa on the side.

The Day I met James Caan: 13th Day of Christmas Trivia

Allow me this flashback in my little quiet life I lead. Here’s the answer to my Instagram question… “Which Elf stars did I have the pleasure of meeting?” And also, Happy Thirteenth Day of Christmas!!! I hope you didn’t take down your decorations yet because it’s still celebration time until Epiphany!

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James Caan

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Zooey Deschanel
To be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic since at that point in my life I hadn’t actually seen Elf or The Godfather, and New Girl was light years away.

I had checked “Mr. Jimmy Caan” as his friend called him, into a tournament, and I just smiled as his friend tried to name drop… er, I guess, person drop since he was standing right there. There you have it, pretty exciting, huh?

And I didn’t actually meet Zooey but here’s the story: I was working in West L.A., eating lunch with a filmmaker friend when he whispered, “I think that’s Zooey Deschanel.” She walked by us and walked into a Greek restaurant. Our coworker was obsessed with Zooey so we called him to come down. She actually finished eating before us and drove away in her black BMW. She was cute and petite. And that concludes Julia’s Magnificent 12th Day of Christmas Trivia. Tune in next week when I tackle the ubiquitous question where our other sock went post-laundry. Okay, I can’t wait. I have the answer. They get stuck inside sheets/tshirts/clothes and we don’t find them because we have too many clothes that we wear but once.

 

3 of Chip and Joanna’s Secrets to Success: from The Magnolia Story book

 

magnolia_story_bookI flipped when I got my pre-ordered copy of The Magnolia Story in the mail. I stayed up late reading it, and finished it in a week! When I read I really read, and when I don’t I really don’t.

Here are the three things The Magnolia Story by Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines (with Mark Dagostino) helped me realize about my circumstances:

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our new old car
  1. We can rejoice even in seemingly unfortunate circumstances. When Chip got thrown in jail when there was a warrant out for Joanna’s arrest, there was something so great that came out of that. (You’ll have to read the book to find out.) Yes, we are having to spend a ton of money for a new car for me this month, and my old car will rake in $150 at most at a junk yard but,
    1. I get a reliable new-ish car!
    2. I can see how God kept me safe. Both times the battery cable on my old car gave way, I wasn’t driving down the freeway when I very well could have been. Last year, I had just made my purchase at my friend’s cute store, went out to start my car to go home, but it was dead. My mechanic came out right away and long story short, the cable could have easily come undone while I was driving… and you know, a car needs a battery. I just hung out at my friend’s store drinking their tea until he was done fixing my car. The same thing happened this week where the cable didn’t come undone while I was driving, but finally just corroded so that I couldn’t start the car. Second moral of the story: don’t drive your car when your battery cable is corroded!
  2. Consistent, hard work pays off somehow. Hard work is never for nought. Chip is just like those farm boys I grew up with that worked super hard from dawn until dusk, took a quick lunch break, sometimes 10 minutes, and then it was back to the grindstone. Most of what made Magnolia (their company) what it is now is just everyday, fancy-free, unglamorous hard work.
  3. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. -Proverbs 16:9 It’s interesting to me that Joanna wanted to go into broadcast journalism, or perhaps take over her dad’s auto business someday, but she eventually started her Magnolia vintage and antiques store, started Magnolia Realty with Chip, hosts HGTV’s Fixer Upper remodeling show, and now every month I see her doing something new and exciting. As I get older the more I can see how often I fussed over details of life, striving and worrying, when God always took care of me. Looking back, I can see how something bad had to happen for me to have a realization to get me to the next step, like when I got a C+ in Accounting that made me change my career choices. (If you know me, you know that would be a silly career for me.)

This book was really heart-warming, hilarious, and like a manual of what NOT to do in life and business! But don’t take my word for it!

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Vanilla Frosting – Husband approved! – gluten free dairy free diabetic

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I love the look on people’s faces whenever they see freshly baked cookies. No words, no smiles, just a gimme gimme gimme look, also known as the get in my belly look. I’ve kind of prided myself on perfecting my chocolate chip cookie and sugar cookie recipes, but haven’t made them in years since I’ve tried to eat healthier. Back to the recipe after the jump.

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Getting Inspired

This week my Magnolia Story book came in the mail! I flipped. I’m almost done reading it, and a few chapters in I’d already cried twice. I freaked out about it so much my bookish husband was considering reading it. Joanna and Chip so delve into their personal lives that it really hit a nerve with me. They talk about all of the circumstances that helped them discover who they were created to be… To stop acting or being afraid of the future, and to trust in each other and in Jesus. I loved all of their stories about how things would seemingly go all wrong, like going to jail, but if those events hadn’t transpired, they wouldn’t have Magnolia Homes or their hit show Fixer Upper. I love this verse, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9


Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 

I decided to get back at it after taking a bit of a break in the cookie baking department, and I’m so glad I did! The downfall is that every time I go into the kitchen to grab a notepad or a glass of water, I, in auto mode, grab a cookie, go back down to sit, and then remember why I got up in the first place. Thankfully, I made each cookie quite small for this very reason!

I seriously adapted this cookie recipe and made it my own, as it incorporates really healthy ingredients like flax, applesauce, oats, and raisins. This recipe is great for Type 1 diabetics, or yuan qi deficient persons. It’s a denser cookie, but I dare say you will enjoy.

**Baking notes: I decided to top these cookies with frosting because 1) I love frosting 2) the cookies turned out very healthy-tasting if you catch my drift. Some people don’t mind that, but I knew that would tip my husband off and he’d cry foul, so I added the frosting. I got my Miss Jones organic frosting at Sprout’s Market on sale for 2/$7. It’s a great tasting frosting, you’d never know it was healthier than a normal store-bought one. Looking at the ingredients in Miss Jones, here’s a similar recipe, except they use agave syrup, tapioca syrup, and palm oil. Actually, I probably could have saved $2 just making the frosting myself.

If you don’t want the frosting but still want a regular-tasting cookie, my tip is to replace the applesauce with brown sugar if you want it to taste like a regular sugary cookie.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies– good for diabetics

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Make your flax eggs. In a medium bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and apple sauce until smooth. Stir in the flax eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon, gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats and raisins.
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto unprepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies start to brown. I like to flatten the cookies with the back of a spatula when done. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.
  4. When cool, spread frosting on each cookie. Place rack in fridge to allow frosting to harden. Refrigerate to store.

 

Quick One Day Striped Baby Quilt with Satin Binding Tutorial

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Happy Friday all. As I write this post about baby quilts, I’ve heard twice now a conversation one of the neighbors is having.

Guy: WHY DO YOU ALWAYS MAKE ME HURT YOU?!

Girl: You’re hurting me!

Different Guy: Let go of her, Frank, you’re hurting her.

(mumbling, cursing, yelling)

Guy: Why should I let go of her?!

Different Guy: *pause* Because I love her.

Then a round of applause and jazz music.

Apparently one of my neighbors is hosting a play in their apartment in the middle of the day? I was about to call the cops. Okay I just went and looked- There is some sort of garden party at the school park, and I’m sad I wasn’t invited.

Striped Baby Quilt

I have had this quilt in mind for a month or so, as my cousin had another baby and I wanted to make something special. Altogether this baby quilt takes about a full day for an intermediate sewer. Like any worthy project invested in, I don’t want to see it go, but it is going off to get loved.

Materials:

Cotton batting (I used Warm & Natural 34×45 inches for a baby quilt)

Enough cotton quilt-weight fabric to make a 34×45″ quilt, prewashed

Cotton backing fabric 34×45″, prewashed

2.5″ wide binding 165″ long (I used satin bias binding)

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baby quiltI tore up strips that were all 35 inches wide (1 inch wider than the batting for margin of error) and all various lengths until it measured a 46″ long quilt. I arranged the strips the way I wanted, then sewed at 1/4″. Make sure to start on the same side of the quilt top each time you sew a strip on.

Iron seams to one side.

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Arrange the quilt back, cotton batting, and quilt top together, and safety pin it all together, starting in the middle. I put pins about 6″ apart.

I wanted to hand quilt with a running stitch the felled flat seam, but ain’t nobody got time for that (most of the time), so I machine quilted it together, sewing through the 1/4″ seam allowance of each quilt top strip. Make sure the edges of the backing is in place before you start sewing each section. I had one small part that had moved a little bit and caused me some trouble.

Trim the edges of the quilt.

Apply the binding. I couldn’t remember how to do it so I just watched a Fons video on Youtube. I actually did 2″ strips but 2.5″ would have been a lot easier to work with.

To finish it off, add a personalized cross-stitched label to the quilt, and voila! A beautiful handmade quilt for your loved ones made in just a day.

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Practicing Presence: what family does to you when you try to be nice

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Practicing Presence with Family

Practicing presence in a digital age is a tough road. I try to be anti-technology as much as I can in my personal life, because I have the sneaking suspicion that my smartphone won’t love me back. I got my very first smartphone when the iPhone 6 came out, so naturally I got the iPhone 4 (refurbished of course). That’s when I stopped journaling and reading in the mornings and before bed… In the mornings now I reach for my phone and scroll through Instagram. I’m on the road to recovery as I gave up Facebook for a month and I was able to detox from mindless Facebook scrolling AKA comparing myself to others.

This past weekend my niece Lucy wanted to go outside again to play, but once seemed enough and the adults were comfortable in their chairs. Because my husband is a kid at heart, he said he’d go outside with her and I decided to get off my duff as well. This, however, is what happens when you try to be nice…