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… I’m a little obsessive…

  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:

our new old car
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

healthy_oatmeal_raisin_cookie_diabetic

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.

magnolia_story_book

 

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)

warm_natural_batting

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

grace_coddington_quote

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…

 

Capsule Wardrobe: my finished embroidered Alabama Chanin tank top at Commissary at The Line

alabama_chanin_tank
Alabama Chanin tank, GAP skirt from 2001, UO hearty leather sandals, gifted DogEared necklace

I love actually getting dressed and going into town to see old friends. I recently went to celebrate a good friend’s birthday and got tucked in by chef Roy Choi (of Kogi food truck fame) at Commissary at The Line Hotel and Break Room 86 which, hey Crystal, is just down the street from our old stomping grounds in K-Town! My, how things change. Oh, and by tucked in I mean we ate at his hotel restaurant.

Tracing the pattern
Tracing the pattern

Noemi (Yelp Elite) and The Other Helen Kim have a penchant for always knowing just the place to go to experience food and culture. Corban’s ironic cocktail came in a tupperware container so you know this place is the hip bee’s knees.

Walking to the super swank Break Room 86, I told Matthew and Corban about the time I was invited to a birthday party in Hollywood. I thought it was at someone’s apartment, so I dressed comfortably (we’re talking Midwest church outfit — loose khaki pants, loafers, and button down) and brought a large cheese platter on a stone board. I should’ve been the wiser once I saw that the “apartment” had a bouncer. I walked in to the dark room, and to my chagrin, HWood was a club with celebs and all the most beautiful people right in front of me, NOT wearing khaki pants and sweater vests I might add. I panicked and stashed my cheese platter in a corner and nonchalantly went to join my friends. I’m surprised the bouncer didn’t see my platter and point me to the service entrance.

Well, enough about swanky places that are too cool for my blood. I wore my finished Alabama Chanin tank top!!! I love it so much, I wear it every week. It’s comfortable, upcycled, handmade, and a little piece of fashion art. I didn’t finish embroidering the whole thing, but from time to time will work on it while we’re watching a movie, on a roadtrip, etc. I wore the top with a crocheted mini skirt (old) and some new grey clog-like sandals I hemmed and hawed over but love now (Kenneth Cole past season.)

Climbing Daisy stencil
Climbing Daisy stencil, Cretan stitch for the arms and neckline

Here are the items I needed to make the tank:

  • The sewing pattern from my Alabama Chanin Sewing Studio + Design book
  • Sky blue Gutermann hand quilting thread to sew it together and embroider it
  • Peach embroidery thread
  • Climbing Daisy stencil from the book.
  • An old men’s t-shirt size large to make a size medium women’s tank top. You’ll need the leftover scraps for the arm and neck binding.
  • 5mm cotton tape (embroidery ribbon) from Alabama Chanin (I haven’t purchased this yet)
  • alabama_chanin_climbing_daisy

I had SO much fun making this. I loved bringing it with me in my project bag to ballgames and constructing a garment without sitting by my lonesome in front of a sewing machine. My favorite part was sewing the felled flat seams to sew the entire top together… by hand, say what?! Sewing the tank top is really quick. Making the stencil, transferring the stencil, embroidering the arm and neck holes, and embroidering the flowers is a long process, but very meditative. It’s like knitting since it takes forever, but it’s something fun to do while you’re also doing something else like hollering at Nori Aoki at Angel Stadium.

original: Getty Images
original: Getty Images

 

The only thing I would change is make sure the arm holes fit just right. I think I may have stretched it out a bit before sewing it all together. The amazing thing about Alabama Chanin-style clothing is the style is so classic, like your favorite delicately embroidered cardigan. It transcends trends, so even though it’s not a plain t-shirt, you can still style the pieces with so many things. This is a key piece in my Capsule Wardrobe Experiment. I love you, new blue shirt.

Have you filled out the short Capsule Wardrobe sheet to assess your closet yet and make your life a lot simpler?

Linen and flannel bird blanket sewing project: cool in summer, warm in winter

Happy Fall 2016 everyone! All-American girls, break out the Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Or save that $25/week ($1100/yr) latte habit to invest in a house, but you know, to each her own.

Today I’m sharing with you a linen blanket I just loved creating, but first, if you want to learn about an opportunity for you to donate items to our shipping container home development for veterans in Orange County, look at the comprehensive list of needed items here!

cotton_flannel_throw
Cotton and linen throw prayer blanket

Linen and Flannel Birthday Throw Blanket

I was perusing Pinterest and saw the loveliest hearty linen throw blankets with mitered corners and had to make one for my friend Noemi’s birthday coming up. I think blankets are such a special gift, especially if they are quilts laboriously made by hand. I remember watching my mom making thick comforters for us. My grandmother-in-law also made a quilt for every one of her grandchildren. Before Matthew and I got married, it was the only blanket he had. Now he’s married into about ten blankets- a lot of blankets for a single gal. What can I say, I’m one of those blanket hoarders. The first throw blanket I ever bought with my own money was a yellow knit Martha Stewart throw from the Cherokee K-Mart when I was in high school. I was obsessed with Martha Stewart and I just had to have this one.

I got enough fabric to make a 40×50 blanket. I looked at all of the cotton flannel and was torn between a rustic plaid and the cutesy blue bird. I settled on the bird because she loves birds, and it’s a serene fabric for when you want to feel cozy with a cup of tea on the couch. I followed Sew Much Ado’s tutorial on how to do a mitered corner blanket. I also had to watch a few videos to get it down. What made it difficult was that my blanket wasn’t square, it was a rectangle, so I had to miter the corners in a different way — the Julia way.

Mitering corners
Mitering corners

The cotton flannel is a nice warm fabric for winter, and the naturally-antibacterial-linen is great for cool summer nights. I wanted to use hemp but since it is not readily available (you know, the whole illegal thing), linen is a wonderful alternative. Years ago I read in my book The French-Inspired Home by Kaari Meng (French General in Atwater Village) that hemp sheets are amazing to sleep with since they help regulate body temperature. No more tossing and turning! Linen has the same properties, and is a very agreeable alternative.

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What is a prayer blanket you ask? Well, I prayed while I made the blanket, then I went over to the church and Father K graciously walked back to the office to bless it for me. The prayers go with the blanket to offer comfort. If you are in the Orange County area, let me know if you are in need of a blanket for someone who is ill, made possible through the prayer blanket ministry.

My Case for Natural Fibers- I threw the biggest fuss when I went camping for the first time as an adult in Yosemite. I realized too late that the sleeping bag was mostly polyester, and that’s why I felt damp all night. Our next camping trip, which will be in Death Valley, I am going to sew myself a linen sheet, and just wait for the R.E.M. dream fairies to come rushing in.

Our little Linus
Our little Linus

And here is our pretty little Linus at Commissary at The Line Hotel. We had a great time celebrating this spunky gal at a fun venue. Friends for life!

Violinist & Knitter-About-Town, Mia


Creative Women Profile: Violinist & Knitter-About-Town, Mia

“When I was two years old, growing up in Austin, Texas, I saw a mariachi band playing in Whole Foods. Later at home I played dress up with a mariachi hat I had and pretended to play violin with a wooden spoon and a chopstick.  Because of that my parents got me lessons on a real one and 20 years later I’m still playing.”11217951_876733299068568_448873870817528343_o
I love me some beautiful soul-stirring violin music (admit it- you cry listening to classical music too), and I also love knitters knitting. If you’re in the DC area, make sure to attend one of Mia’s orchestra’s concerts and tell ’em Trouvés sent ya!
Knitted mittens
Knitted mittens in the round
Yarns and Knitting: I’m a big fangirl for Quince and Co. and Madeline Tosh. I’ve heard amazing things about Looped Yarn Works (D.C.) that I’d love to visit soon.
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For me, my experiences in NYC and LA represent two sides of the creative process — LA felt more relaxed and artistic, the flowering creativity part of art; NYC was more driven and ambitious, the gritty side of art that drives you to get things out there in the world.  I’m really grateful to have experienced both.  I’m in DC now and I miss NYC a lot but my plans are actually angling more towards the West Coast each day.
Mia’s favorite things in NY and DC:
Music and DIYing, which at first maybe seem like separate interests but I think they’re really the same thing – creating structure and aesthetic out of empty space.
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Taszo Espresso Bar (Upper Manhattan Washington Heights) – It’s a locally owned coffee shop that’s become the heart of the community.  A lot of musicians live nearby and you can’t stop by without running into a friend hanging out or on their way to a gig.
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Bin 1301 on U Street (D.C.) It’s a really cool wine bar with live jazz on Saturday nights.  My favorite thing there (other than the wine) is their halloumi cheese board.
Hand knit tank top
Hand knit tank top
Cross stitching a fox
Cross stitching a fox
Knitted hoodie
Knitted hoodie
Contact Mia:
Wedding music website: www.turtledovemusic.com