Blessings.

November 27, 2009

Was going to do the traditional Thanksgiving title, but I’ve been seeing it left & right & all over fb, so decided to call it “blessings” instead. Cause indeed, that’s what they are. Mine might sound cliche, but hey, these are cliche for a reason. So here goes… things I’m thankful for:

1. The Gospel. Much like many others, this past year has been a rediscovery of the beauty & freedom of the gospel message. I have always been somewhat of a “hard master”… hard on myself & hard on others. You can imagine the result: discouragement, disappointment, criticism, legalism, despair. However, this year has been a lesson in grace. The doctrine of grace runs much deeper than I ever imagined… There is grace not only in my initial point of salvation, but throughout this seemingly long laborious process of being made like Christ. My soul–for the first time since I can remember–genuinely feels at peace. His judgment does not weigh upon me; Christ has borne it all.

2. My husband. I speak of him often, because I cherish him dearly! He is my best friend, my partner in life, my other half. He is everything I’m not… even-keeled, respectful, submissive, humble, optimistic, gracious, gentle, patient, trusting, and steadfast. We have only been married for less than 6 months, and I am already learning so much about the grace of God from his own example of grace to me and to others. He is the strongest man I know–not because he speaks out in anger or defense, or because he can boldly state his opinion in front of many–but because he can hold his tongue, turn the other cheek, and continue to speak highly of those I would easily slight.

3. My mom. In the past few months, my mom has become more of a friend to me than she ever has been in the past. Somehow our relationship has blossomed through our common role as wife & homemaker. Where in college our phone conversations would last 5 minutes (mainly her asking me what I ate for lunch that day), now I find myself talking to her for nearly an hour at a time (talking about cooking, cleaning, decorating, crafts, shopping, scheduling… sharing new techniques we learn, new recipes, books we’re reading, etc. etc.). I am so thankful for her tireless service to our family & the example she set for me in submission, humility, and selflessness. Doesn’t mean I will become a replica of her, but thankful that the Lord gave me a tangible example to follow.

4. Friends, Old & New. Having to start my life over in Orange County has given me renewed appreciation for close friends. I always forget what an anxious process it is to make new friends–the uncertainty & insecurities–and the trust that is required. I’m thankful for the friends that the Lord has brought into my life, a few of whom I was  able to catch up with this week! It was such a sweet time, of just speaking my mind, without bothering to qualify myself, knowing that they would understand me & not judge me. I love that our bond is strong, even though we are miles apart & in different stages of life. On the flip side, I’m also thankful for the budding friendships at Cornerstone. These are women that I didn’t know existed only half a year ago, but already I feel a kinship with them, and I know it is only because of Christ.

5. Crafts. Hehe, this is kind of a silly one, but I still consider it a blessing. Since I got married, I have been dabbling in a number of crafts & really exploring my options. I never was much of the adventurous or ambitious type, but Steven has been such an encouragement to me in rooting for me & believing that I can do things. So yes, I have been trying my hand at photography, calligraphy, handmade goods, etc. I’m even thinking of taking a couple intro to graphics classes next semester. Don’t know where it’ll lead, but I am enjoying it for what it is so far!

The end, for now. But before I go, some recent pictures. Got to spend an afternoon with Jane & baby Norah, and Jane taught me how to do a basic knit & purl! Loved the therapeutic feel of knitting… will have to pick up my own set of knitting needles! :]

Norah wore a dress for the first time, just for me!

Super cute headband that Jane crocheted for Norah

Adorable washcloth that Jeena made (so talented!)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! :]

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The Chungs.

November 23, 2009

Looks like we have a consensus–the natural route is the way to go! Grace Mao has been struggling through her transition period for a few weeks now & has finally hit the oil-free zone! (Grace, I want to see & feel your hair next time I’m in SD!) Sue started using the oil-cleansing method & has gotten awesome results! My mom even felt my skin this morning & was amazed by its baby-like softness. She is going to try the oil-cleansing method with me tonight taha! I am so excited to try out the baking soda shampoo. I will be sure to post my results after I have victory (hopefully) over my transition period :]

Anyway, I meant to post this earlier (story of my life), but I had the privilege of shooting a family portrait session for the Chungs. They scored some free photo card print-outs & wanted to put together some Christmas cards for relatives who haven’t seen Caleb recently. Unforch, they don’t have many family pictures since Mama Sharon is always behind the camera hahah. So of course I was really eager to snap some photos for them & really honored that they would ask me! I am still such a novice & I only have my kit lens, but I suppose I make do…

Steven & I are so thankful for Jimmy & Sharon! They have been welcoming and friendly to us since our first days at Cornerstone & definitely took the initiative in reaching out to us. In these early days of being a newcomer & having to start all over again, you have no idea how meaningful & priceless this is to us. Thanks so much for opening up your lives to us & being so gracious to the point where we feel comfortable opening up our lives to you too! We love the Chungs. :]

Without further ado, I present to you the beautiful Chung family:

Daddy & Caleb time.

Mommy & Caleb time. I heart this series!

Love this.

Also love the narrative feel of this.

HAha totally caught a yawning moment.

AHh one of my faves! His little face melts my heart.

Kkeut! Beautiful day with a beautiful family! :]

Going Au Natural.

November 16, 2009

So I finally got my hair cut yesterday. Last time I cut it was in May, right before the wedding. Since then, it has grown grown grown, along with a gajillion split ends and tangles. I would like to take a moment to say how much I loved my hair-cutting experience. It was the first time I didn’t feel like crying after I left the salon. (I know, so drama.) I was referred to Naomi by Joan, who I believe was referred to her by Bee. And Naomi is great. Not only is she very considerate about what I want my hair to look like (unlike many Korean ajumah hair cutters in the past who have butchered my hair without my permission), she is straight up nice. She’s soft-spoken, gentle, amiable, and really sweet. I heart Naomi. I will go to her again. And actually–not that anyone is interested–I almost cut my hair SHORT! It may not be a big deal to you, but I haven’t had short hair since I was in eighth grade. I almost did it, but decided to keep it long for Maria’s wedding in May. Next time. Maybe.

Anyhow, Naomi told me that I should switch to organic shampoo. She said that my hair is really fine for Asian hair, and I should make sure not to use shampoos with too much conditioner in it. Normally I wouldn’t pay any attention to what a hairdresser tells me (because you know they’re always trying to sell you something), but I did. Why? Because 1) Naomi seemed sincere & she really didn’t have a product she was trying to sell me. And 2) I was going to switch over to baking soda shampoo anyway.

I am going green for personal hygiene. A couple months ago, I read an article on simplemom about using all-natural shampoo & conditioner. And shortly after, another article about all-natural face wash. It caught my attention because shampoo, conditioner, and skin care products are all so durn expensive. Tsh from simplemom offered a cheap and healthier alternative: baking soda shampoo & apple cider vinegar conditioner. Sounds nasty, but it’s actually so cool! It’s better for your hair, adds natural moisture but prevents extra oil build-up, gives your hair more body, and you don’t have to wash it everyday. I’ve already switched over to ACV conditioner, which is working out fine for me. As soon as I have another empty squeeze bottle, I’m taking the plunge and switching over to baking soda shampoo. I’m just dreading the extra-oil transition period…

As for the face wash alternative, it’s called the oil cleansing method. You make a  mixture of castor oil & EVOO, rub some on your face, steam out your pores, and wipe the remainder off. The good oils replace the bad oils in your face and prevent your face from producing more nasty oils. Keeps your skin naturally moisturized so you don’t have to use moisturizer. I actually convinced Steven to start doing this with me after he saw good results in my skin muhaha. My oil mixture has 50/50 castor oil to EVOO. Steven’s has 75/25 castor oil to EVOO (his skin is more oily than mine). It’s become our nightly routine–it seriously feels like a relaxing facial every night. (Actually I’ve never had a facial, but it feels like what a facial should feel like.) My skin feels baby soft after I do it… oh how I miss those days. Another plus is that I no longer use makeup remover; the oil works as a natural makeup remover. I also use a lot less moisturizer. And the result? Less oily, more moisturized skin!

Okay, I am done selling the natural hygiene route. Read the articles for yourselves & maybe you can take the plunge with me. Let me know. We can share transition period stories & admire each others’ hair & skin. Whoopeee!

Santa Barbara.

November 2, 2009

So here it is. Our weekend getaway to Santa Barbara. Twas super beautiful… The weather, blue skies. The museums, inspirational. The boutiques, so cute. The cafes, delicious. I loved the old town feel… brick roads all over, small shops, and people riding beach cruisers up and down State Street (including us!). It was a simple weekend with no planned schedule (much like our honeymoon), and perfectly relaxing for our worn bodies & souls.

SB11Our little modern motel, the Presidio. Each room had its own personalized wall design by a local artist. Some of them were creepy, but I requested this one! Cute, huh. Mattresses were two thumbs down, but we looooved this:

IMG_5805Our cute little beach cruisers!! Our motel rented these out for free to their guests. We biked all around downtown SB. It was awesome!! I heart biking (downhill).

IMG_5813

SB01Spent the morning exploring the side streets…

SB02Admiring cute window displays…

IMG_5914Spent a couple hours at SB Museum of Art…

SB04

SB03This cracks me up. Ever since Steve sent me this article when we first started dating, we make a point to practice Tip #7 every time we go to an art museum.

SB05Stopped off for lunch at the Natural Cafe, a small vegan place that had decent food.

IMG_5928Played with funny accessories at an old vintage store. We also learned that vintage is not the same as thrift… :[

IMG_5978But we did find an antique shop where we spent a good hour. Love antiques.

SB07While I ran around taking pictures of anything & everything…

IMG_5982Steve reverted back to his childhood days & dug through boxes and boxes of baseball cards.

SB08That’s pretty much what we did. Lots of walking (Steve took lots of pictures like these…), window-shopping, real shopping, and eating. Things we like to do. :]

IMG_5945Found this itty bitty art gallery & absolutely loved her work. But we weren’t allowed to take photos, so I just took one from the outside looking in.

SB09Dinner at Arigato Sushi. Loved sitting at the sushi bar–got to try recommendations from the top sushi chef. And loved eating sushi, ho ho.

IMG_6069McConnell’s Ice Cream for dessert. Opps was happy.

SB06Walked into a contemporary furniture store. Very cute, but we could never afford it.

SB10This was my fave eatery in SB, Tupelo Junction Cafe. Came highly recommended by Michelle Chung & did not disappoint! I got pumpkin oatmeal waffles, which were absolutely scrumptious. :]

SB12Our fave coffee shop, the French Press. They make all of their coffee by french press–isn’t that cool? Loved the decor & the feel of the place. And the typography on their sign won me over–I basically dragged him in with me. (He loved it too.)

IMG_6213Then we said goodbye to Santa Barbara.

SB16And hello to LA! We heart Korean BBQ. Me possibly more than him.

IMG_6236And one last stop: LACMA. I’d been wanting to go for a loong time, so I was thrilled when he said we could. :]

SB14

SB15I love love loved this exhibit. Don’t know if it’s still there, but you should definitely go if you haven’t! The first piece we saw may be one of my favorite things I’ve seen in an art museum EVER. Unforch, we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

SB13Thought this was so cute. It says “We are happy” in Korean. Sounds cheesy, but made me smile. We tried to get a picture of ourselves with it in the bg, but obviously failed.

The end. We had a great & refreshing time away from everything. We did everything I love (which thankfully, he likes too haha). I love my husband. And I thought the ending of our trip was so appropriate to describe where we are… we are happy. The Lord provides for our every need & is so kind to bless us with the beautiful gift of marriage. So thankful!