Park’s BBQ – Best Korean Restaurant in Los Angeles

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Park’s BBQ was a happy accident. Michael and I were in Korea Town for a food festival but when Michael say the 3 block long line to get in he made an executive decision that we weren’t going. So instead I google, “Best Korean BBQ in Korea Town” and we happened upon this very tasty establishment. The entry wall was lined with photos of famous people from Anthony Bourdain to hollywood celebrities. The staff didn’t really speak english and we felt grateful we could get a table at all. The meat was succulent and delicious. The sides were exotic and tasty. I’ve never been to Korea but we definitely felt we experienced a little slice of it. So to all those visiting (or living) in Los Angeles, make a detour to Park’s BBQ. You won’t be disappointed. And as a side note, I randomly ran into the Dad of an ex boyfriend there that night. You never know what can happen. He recommended the Bulgogi and so do we.

 

 

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My Body Image

 

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Those were the days. Running around fancy free in a bathing suit at my Grandma’s pool every summer. Jumping in the pool, going down the slide and being generally  unaware of my body, its movement or appearance. And then I turned 15… Suddenly, I became extremely aware of my figure. It wasn’t like my Mom’s and my sisters. Why were my hips so wide and my butt so big? Why did I feel like a giant around everyone? On the first day of my Freshman year in English class a popular girl turned around to me and told me that Scott  (popular boy – or more popular than me) said I had a nice a$$. What? To me that wasn’t a compliment. To me that was a confirmation that I was NOT skinny. And skinny to me was the only way to be pretty.  I wasn’t fat nor did I have a weight problem. I just wasn’t skinny. But I was getting attention like mad for my figure but had no idea why. This new obsession with attempting to conform my body down to the size that I felt it should be would take me on a journey spanning over two and a half decades. The sad reality is that my story probably isn’t that unique. It isn’t the most extreme story either. But here it is.

My dieting started out slow. It began by trying to be proactive about my food choices. I had spent the first semester of high school going to the cafeteria before school started and getting a grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milk before Drama class. This undoubtedly aided in inability to fit into the pants I had previously been able to fit into. There was also the widening of my hips which I could do nothing about. So, I thought, “Why not try to pack a healthy lunch?’ I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrots instead of a hamburger. Then at 16 my Mom let me go to Weight Watcher meetings with my Grandma. My Mom would alway say that I wasn’t fat but after incessant rants about my body she conceded. There I learned how to count Weight Watcher points. I lost a few pounds to start off with but I was really hungry all the time. I’d get a frozen yogurt from the cafeteria that was only 150 calories and try to believe that it would fill me up for lunch. I decided that Weight Watchers was not doing the trick so I did the cabbage soup diet. Its this super weird plan where you eat a different thing every day (Beef & Tomatoes on Monday, Banana’s and Milk on Tuesday) but could have cabbage soup every day. That lasted probably 3 days. I started taking hunger suppressant pills that never seemed to really suppress hunger. For awhile I made myself throw up. I think I did that mostly as a cry for help for someone to say, “Um…you really don’t need to lose weight.” They WERE saying that but I wasn’t listening. My sister bought me a anorexia/bulimia book from Barnes and Nobles. My Dad told me to stop doing it. I did.  Then I started weight watchers again. My body just wanted to be 145 pounds. I believed that if I wasn’t 120 pounds then I was doing something wrong. Even though no one in my family told me that I was fat or needed to lose weight I was still so insecure. I went to a hypnotherapist who had these tapes you could listen to in order to lose weight. I’d put on a headset and soak in the tub while trying to hypnotize myself into not eating. I bought a book called, “Think Yourself Thin.” where you would just breathe and imagine yourself getting thin. I bought it on the bargain counter at the books store. I guess you get what you pay for. And then I decided to give up. I was sick of dieting and never getting results. I was sick of my constant working out and it going no where. I was 20 at this point. So I ate Carl’s Jr every single day and gained 20 pounds over the summer. Fabulous. I was in college by then and was doing a musical called, “Carnival.” I met my friend Elena while doing that show and she was my inspiration to get a little more healthy and balanced. She was a 5′ 9 gorgeous Russian who looked like a model. We called her “runway.” I was totally engrossed with the fact that she never watched what she ate but looked absolutely incredible. So I decided to eat like her. I would eat what sounded good to my body ( it happened to be a little healthier usually) and stopped when I wasn’t hungry anymore. I also took it upon myself to take semester off of regular coursework and take only dance classes. I had 12 classes a week I’d attend AND I was waiting tables at night. Within a year I had lost 30 pounds. I looked great. I was wearing size 6 pants (sometimes size 4) and finally my yo yo dieting seemed to be at an end. Just eat reasonably and exercise and you’ll be fine.

I met my husband during that time and we fell in love and got married within a year and 8 months. I looked great and life was good. And then Michael and I fell into a bit of a “treat” rut. Michael has a bit of a sweet tooth. Probably more than just a “bit” actually… Most nights after dinner Michael would say something like, “Do we have any treats?” or “Let’s go get donuts.” etc. At first I was like, “Why?” I wasn’t craving anything or thinking about a treat at all. Then slowly but surely I’d go with him on a donut run or to the grocery store to get something sweet. He’d get me in the mood for something and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I gained 5 pounds the first year. Then another five the second. Then another pound or two a year until I was at 155 when I got pregnant with Georgiana at the age of 30. During those years I would get on a diet plan and lose a few pounds and then get sick of it and stop. And on and on I went.

I gained 50 pounds total including the baby when it was all said and done. After Georgiana was born I had 40ish to lose. I counted Weight Watcher points and exercised regularly for 2 years until now when I more or less back to where I started. And then something happened. I decided to get my body fat tested. And not just with a regular test but the gold standard in body fat testing. Water submersion. I got dunked in a hot tub that measures not only your body fat but also your lean body mass. The lean body mass I really wanted to know. I’ve had a hunched all these years that it wasn’t so much that I had fat to lose but that I had more muscle and bone than many women my same height and age. Well, I was right. I have 120 pounds of lean body mass. That means that if I lost enough to get to the weight I’ve always thought I SHOULD be then I would die. DIE. I am 25% body fat which is average for women. Suddenly I felt free from the pressure I always felt to be thin. And then even something more remarkable happened. I started actually connecting with the fact that my figure is hot. I mean HOT. I have a Kardashian butt and a small waist. It doesn’t suck. Like my Grandpa Ozzy told me once, “You’ve got all the right curves in all the right places.” Sort of an inappropriate comment for my 90 year old Grandpa to make….but at a certain age you get to say whatever you want. Now that I have figured out that I actually look great, I feel completely free and empowered. I’m so thankful that while I’m still relatively young I can actually enjoy and appreciate my youth. Of course I love food (duh) but I also love eating in a balanced way and exercising.  I’ve found its all about balance and not about perfection. Because perfection sometimes truly doesn’t exist. My only wish is that anyone out there that is struggling with how they look can wake up and start appreciating the beauty that is uniquely YOU. I hope writing this will knock someone out there out of their body image funk as I have recently been knocked out of mine. Now lets just go out there and be  “knock out’s.”

Amazing Art – Amazing Sister

My sister Leah Florence is the most incredible artist. She does these super original, creative and epic pieces that have been VERY quickly finding success in almost every place she goes to. She does these fabulous portraits that she pairs with stories from real life and real people. I’m very lucky that she did a piece on my little family that I’m excited to show it off.  I seriously want to do a wall of her work at our house, especially the ones that highlight my family (parents, sisters, brother etc.) If you have ever thought it would be great to put up family pictures but wanted to do it in an original way, I would suggest commissioning her to do some artwork for you. Its incredible!

 

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Blueberry Farm

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Georgiana and I had quite the lovely time at Restoration Oaks Ranch off the 101 fwy near Lompoc & Buelton. We were like kids in a candy store.  Both of us were stuffing our faces with these little blue morsels of goodness and having fun while doing it. I wish I had a great blueberry recipe to go along with this post, but this entire bucket was WAXED once we got home and Dad got a hold of them. Super fun and we’ll definitely go again!

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An Indulgent Post about my Baby Girl

*I wrote this about a year ago and never posted it. I just found it and wanted to share. Amazing to read past thoughts… ;)

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Like most Moms, I’m totally obsessed with my baby girl. I had no idea when I got pregnant with Georgiana that I was about to meet the most beautiful, amazing and special little girl on the planet. It really is true that your kids are the light of your life and Georgiana is no exception. How is it possible that every morning when she wakes up I just can’t believe that this perfect little soul is all mine?  What you don’t know before you have a baby is that your heart is still not fully mature until you have a baby of your own. Then suddenly you heart magically grows twice the size and you feel its warmth beating steadily for your baby all day long. And the love you had for your husband grows stronger too as you see his full potential shine through in all he does as a father. My Grandpa Ozzy once said to me that when he see’s a young couple go from being childless to a family it gives him joy. It was because he felt that until you have kids the marriage relationship wasn’t truly fulfilled. I now know what he meant. Its not that I love Michael more now magically, but we have more love to share than we could ever have had before.

The innocents and perfection of a child is an exquisite and precious thing to be around on a daily basis. To see Georgiana’s eyes light up for the smallest things is so incredible to witness. Its like she’s showing me how amazing life is all around me that I haven’t noticed in awhile. Her love of dancing to whatever music she hears (including the bells chiming at the courthouse downtown) teaches me to dance with her as well. Having a child is amazing because if I was out at the courthouse dancing by myself people might think I’m homeless. But to have the excuse to dance at any moment while I’m with her gives me a great sense of freedom. To see her get excited about the smallest thing like a Squirmel (little fuzzy worm with a piece of thread attached to its nose) is sometimes too much to handle. She squeals with delight and even demands to snuggle with it during her nap. Her little teeth are slightly spaced apart and her blonde hair and her pointy ears makes her look like a little impish fairy elf. I just want to gobble her up on a minute by minute basis. At night after I’m exhausted and she has gone to bed, its usually only an hour or so before I miss her and have to go creepily stare at her while she sleeps. Sometimes when she wakes up when she isn’t suppose to I’m secretly happy so I can snuggle with her again. Its like a bonus.

After reading this you are probably thinking that I’m over glamorizing motherhood and that I’m conveniently not putting in the crazy moments. Well, I do have crazy moments. But in my opinion, anything that is worth it is hard. Losing weight is hard. Flossing your teeth regularly is hard. Working is hard. Marriage is hard. Motherhood is hard. But you know what is harder? Being a single, toothless, obese homeless person with no children. That’s REALLY hard.  Children are the best.

Mother’s Day & Table Decorations

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This Mother’s Day I was able to host at my house. We had 8 guests total (including our little halfling) which warranted pulling the table away from the wall and inserting our table leaf. I was also excited because this unseasonable hot weather made my roses bloom extra early and I had a bumper crop that I could harvest for the table decorations. In addition, I used my Anthropologie paper table mats with some yellow napkins topped with a little morsel of chocolate for the party attendee’s. Georgiana was VERY excited about the ensuing party as you can see from her excitement in the below photo. Said photo also reveals a not so clean windows of which Georgiana regularly attends to putting finger prints on. But I’m sure you weren’t looking.

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One of the forks is a drawing

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My garden roses with their lovely pink tips. Oh the delight.

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Whose says a cheese plate has to be boring? Cherries, mangoes, cheeses and fruit crackers. A colorful rainbow of deliciousness.

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The woman of the night! Grandma Nell & Georgiana. Had I not been exhausted from all the decorating and cooking maybe I would have thought to take a generational shot. Oh well. There’s always next year. ;)

10 Ways to Retain Sanity While Parenting a Toddler

 

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I’ve been waiting to write something like this at a time that I am in a moderate  mood. Its easy to write a rant on bad day or recount the most magical experience on a good one.  Recently I’ve been experiencing a two year old  that not only has been doing the cutest things possible but has also has been testing her boundaries constantly. One minute I’m in complete elation from her ecstatic joy on the train at the zoo. The next I’m telling Michael he needs to moderate a conflict resolution meeting between myself and Georgiana due to her constant testing of my nerves.  The thought of having more children is extremely difficult to wrap my brain around, especially the pregnancy part. So I have decided to document my thoughts on how to create a sane environment during these amazing yet challenging toddler years.

1. Structure. Having places to go and things to do that both myself and Georgiana enjoy is huge. Especially in the afternoon when the need to kill a solid 2-3 hours is the difference between a happy day and one that results in searching the internet for toddler boarding school. (thankfully NOT a true story  but you get the idea)

2. Rules and Regulations. Georgiana LOVES to test boundaries. If I don’t have down what exactly she can and can’t do then she walks all over me. She knows full well when she is doing something she isn’t suppose to and also knows the repercussions. Being unemotional and not taking personal offense when she pulls a chunk of my hair out at the checkout line at the grocery store is important (sadly that is a true story). I think of myself as Ms. Stacey from Anne of Green Gables. A sweet and lovable teacher from the Victorian era who is still strict and exacting. I demand respect but it takes a lot of energy…

3. Help. HELP! I mean, get help when you need it. Having a babysitter or a few days at preschool is not only a welcome change for both myself and Georgiana but is the difference between us having meaningful time together and having just tiiiiiiime together (and lots of it).  Remember when you’d have sleepovers as a kid and your friend stayed a little longer than you really wanted and before you knew it you were so sick of them you were making up excuses for them (or you) to leave? Sometimes a little distance does make the heart grow fonder. I’m not saying just check the kid into 24 hour daycare but maybe pre arrange a little time for you and him/her to have some fun apart. I’m finding it makes all the difference in the world

4. Get a hobby (aka a side-life). More than anything I need something in my life that I can grasp onto that vaguely reminds me of who I was BEFORE I had Georgiana. Being a Mom is the BEST but its also feels like it all about everyone else in your home but you. Between the needs of your spouse and kids its almost as if you are a shadow of person you once were doing tasks that you don’t care about but are somehow very necessary and take up all your time. Wiping butts, doing dishes, taking kids temperatures, reading “If you give a mouse a cookie” 1 million times and clocking hours on end at parks are some of the things that never realized would comprise ALL my time after having a baby. Of course I want my child to be healthy, happy and fed. But I’d like to also enjoy some of my own interests as well. Having a blog (oh, you thought I was just an avid cook not a Mom on the edge of having the baby blues?), a small business, volunteering for things you are passionate about can all make the difference between a Zombie Apocolypse Mom and a bright smiling one that people enjoy being with that isn’t constantly complaining about the depressing aspects of their life. Get a side-life and VOILA you will have a life again.

5. Schedule time to be with your spouse. I’ve found if you schedule time to be with your husband/wife other than working through the day to day minutia then you’ll be treat each other nicer and overall life will be easier. Scheduling time alone without the kid(s) is absolutely crucial for sanity in the home. I spend every waking second of Georgiana’s day figuring out how to make her happy and enjoy life. So when she goes to bed its only fair that I get some alone time with my husband where Georgiana is NOT invited. It gives Michael and I some time to just relax or talk about things we really need to go over but just hadn’t had the time during the day. It keeps us close and tight like the BFF’s we are. But when we don’t have time together for one reason or another I find we are bickering more, are not as kind and overall more vexed.

6. Take care of yourself. Go to the gym, get your hair done and above all take a shower and get ready! Its is beyond important to not lose a sense of yourself in all the surrounding chaos. There has been absolutely nothing better than getting random compliments from strangers on how cute Georgiana is AND that I look great too. I have worked my butt off (literally) to be able to go from flab to fab. For me, its less about the superficiality of looking decent but more that I look and feel myself. Carve out the time to be healthy and you will feel fabulous inside first and that will project outward.

7. Pray. If you’re not religious, meditate. I spend A LOT of time praying. I fall asleep every night praying. For me is  about conversing with a higher power about the day. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? How can I solve this problem with Georgiana, Michael or a loved one or friend. Are we on the right track with our business, life and decision? I ask, I listen. Thinks get worked out in my head. I start to feel clear of anxiety and stress. And that’s when I fall into a blissful sleep….

8. Love your child and the rest will fall into place. Georgiana is an absolute doll. She is funny, charismatic and adorable. She is cunning, smart and full of life. What is there not to love about that!? When I’m burdened with days that are tedious I just need to think about what life would be like without her. And its TERRIBLY boring. She brings meaning, purpose and most of all love to my life that would be impossible to acquire in any other way.

9. Remember there is a future. I won’t be running after my sprinting child headed for the street forever. It won’t always take a 1/2 hour just to leave the house. Rashes, fevers and exploding diapers at the park won’t always be just around the corner for me. Take a breath. The hard things of this time period WILL end. So just don’t worry about them as much.

10.  Relish in the NOW. The troubles of today will melt away and a whole new set will present themselves in the future. Be present in the magic that is all around and know that it won’t last forever. For better or worst.

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“Egg-citing” Easter Recap (a.k.a Mom can’t help posting cute pictures of kid)

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Easter “Egg-lation!”

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“Egg-celent” Hunting!

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I’ve already run out of egg pun’s. Okay you get the idea. She’s cute!

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True happiness is receiving a stuffed bunny from your Noni on Easter.