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SPRING/SUMMER AM SKINCARE
I feel like Spring literally breezed on by since we spent a majority of it in quarantine, but with Summer judt around the corner I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share my current morning skincare routine! The weather in LA tends to be more on the dryer side, since we lack humidity but I'm a huge huge fan of these products because they are truly great for ALL SKIN TYPES - even sensitive skin :) It's been a crazy couple of months for us all, and the stress, heightened emotions and inconsistent sleep has a huge effect on our skin. So remember to be kind to yourself and to show more compassion towards others. We're all in this together and we have been making huge strides towards a better future 💞 Below I've linked my YouTube video which I just recently launched - YAY! We tackle all the early AM skin concerns such as puffiness, dull skin and dehydration. I've also included all the products I used in the video. This feature is in no way sponsored so if you'd like to support me, I'd appreciate if you shopped the links I've shared below. These products have been tried and tested for months and it really will leave your skin glowing throughout the day! Hope you all enjoy and get ready for more tutorials and videos on my favorite beauty tips and tricks!
MUSHROOM BAOS ( *gf & df )
Growing up in the East Bay, my family was so lucky to be next door to the oldest Chinatown in the United States. My grandfather owned his own medical practice in the heart of Chinatown and so my grandmother always knew the best shops to go for different items. One of my favorite dim sum dishes was, of course, Baked Char Siu Baos. The perfectly tender, honey roasted pork and sweet onions nestled inside a soft glazed bun is a familiar taste and smell that I will never forget. Even when I moved away from home, my grandmother would buy boxes of them and store them in freezer bags so I could take them with me. She would just wrap them in a moist paper towel and microwave them for 2 minutes. Every so often, I would cave in and order them at a restaurant but for the most part I try to avoid consuming meat. This prompted a quarantine challenge of trying to recreate a vegetarian version at home! This recipe was adapted from The Woks of Life and it came out soooo good! I used a variety of mushrooms for the filling instead of pork and WOW! I think it's about time I make another batch. Feel free to experiment with ingredients for the filling based on your preference for textures and sweetness. This recipe is a bit more labor intensive than most recipes I will be publishing but it was SOOOO fun and satisfying! As someone who doesn't bake bread or work with yeast, this recipe seemed to be pretty fool proof. Now, let's get started! I'm going to explain the recipe in the order I followed to best maximize your time and work around the proofing time for the dough :) Char Siu Bao Dough: 2/3 C Oatly Barista oat milk (room temp) 1 C plus 1 tablespoon Oatly oat milk (room temp) 1 large egg (room temp) 1/3 C cane sugar 1/2 C cake flour *tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets and level with knife* 3 1/2 C bread flour *tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets and level with knife* 1 T active dry yeast 1 1/2 tsp salt Egg wash: whisk together 1 egg with 1 tsp water Simple syrup: 2 tsp of sugar dissolved in 2 tsp hot water Sesame seeds Char Siu Bao Filling: 2 T neutral oil 1 medium onion, diced 1 C chopped mushrooms (I used shiitake, oyster and chanterelle) 2 T liquid aminos 1 T honey or sugar 1 tsp sesame oil 1 T hoisin sauce white pepper, to taste 1 ¼ C vegetable stock 2 T gf flour We're going to make the dough first. If you do not have a stand mixer with a dough hook, then please use a large bowl with a wooden spoon, if possible, and prepare to put in some work! Turn your mixer on its "stir" setting and add the ingredients in the following order: barista oat milk, oat milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast and salt. Let it go for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally pausing to push the dough down from the edges. If you're doing this by hand, extend the kneading time 5-10 minutes until the dough comes together. If the dough feels too sticky, add 1T of bread flour to the dough at a time until it no longer sticks to the bowl and starts to form a ball. Now it's time to proof your dough, and let it rise! I feel like the best place for this is in the oven as you can control the temperature better - here's a great article that explains an easy way to proof your oven. This is going to take 1 hour, so in the meantime we can prep the filling! Heat a medium sized wok or non stick pan over medium-high heat and add the oil and onions. Once the onions start to turn translucent add the liquid aminos, honey, sesame oil, hoisin and white pepper to taste. Then add your chopped mushrooms and evenly coat them in the sauce. Now, add the vegetable stock and flour (for this I like to take a little bit on stock once its hot, and use a separate bowl to whisk the flour in so there are no lumps) Then add it to the pan. Let this simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens into a jelly like texture. Now's a great time to wash some dishes, clean up some counter space and prep for the proofed dough. You'll want a clean, dry space where you'll be rolling the dough. Either on a large cutting board or countertop. Flour the surface lightly with flour to prevent sticking and keep some flour on the side for your hands. Once the dough has proofed for an hour, transfer it out onto your floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until all the air bubbles are gone. Use flour sparingly as you don't want the dough to get dry. Now divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and place the same damp towel you used for proofing on top. My dough rose extremely well so it actually yielded 15 this last time! I'd say you want each piece to be roughly the size of your fist. Now, take one ball at a time and use a rolling pin (or wine bottle) to roll each piece into a round disc. Make sure that the center is thicker than the edges. Add about 2 T of filling and fold the edges into the middle and use a pinch and twist motion to seal the dough together. Place the bun seam-side down on a lined baking sheet and repeat steps until each one is complete. Once the buns are formed, proof for another hour. Clean up time again, YAY! When the proofing is done preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While it's preheating, make the egg wash and brush over the buns. Feel free to add sesame seeds too if you have them! Once its preheated, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and add the buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. When they're done baking remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack or cutting board so the bottoms of the buns don't burn. Brush them with the remaining sugar wash and let cool 5 minutes. Hope you enjoy! These buns can be stored in an airtight container and if they're not inhaled within the first 2-3 days feel free to store them in the freezer and heat them up per my grandmother's instructions! I'm happy to say that these were indeed mom approved!
LEMON POPPYSEED DONUTS
Whip out your apron, and slap some powder on your hands - cause we are about to go to work! JK this recipe surprisingly only takes 25 minutes start to finish and WOW are these good. Tired of being cooped up in your house all day and looking for ways to pass the time? Have you had random cravings for things you normally don't eat - cause SAME! I can't even remember the last time I had a donut because they are like crack and once I get my hands on an Old Fashioned donut with vanilla icing and sprinkles, I am hooked! But here we are spending so much time in our homes and what do you know? My sweet tooth snuck up on me. Now, the nice thing about baking at home is YOU get to use whatever ingredients you like! So I always try to opt for healthier ingredients and methods of recreating some of my favorite foods. I decided to go with Lemon Poppyseed because I had a couple lemons that were super ripe and a container of Poppy Seeds just laying around in my pantry. But if your not a lemon lover, just leave it out and enjoy some plain Old Fashioned donuts - heck throw some cinnamon, nutmeg and extra vanilla instead...HAVE SOME FUN WITH IT! Cooking and baking is another great way at letting your creativity grow. Now these are gluten free but not vegan...they can be! Just use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of the grass-fed one I use. INGREDIENTS: Donuts: - 4 T butter (I like Kerrigold Grass-fed Butter) - 1/4 C veg. oil - 1/2 C sugar - 1/3 C brown sugar, packed - 2 lrg. eggs - 1 1/2 tsp baking powder - 1/4 tsp baking soda - 3/4 tsp salt - 1 tsp vanilla extract - 2 2/3 C flour (I used Cup-4-Cup gf flour) - 1 C oat milk (Oatly Barista) - 1 T poppyseeds - 1 T fresh lemon juice - 2 T lemon zest Icing: - 1 1/4 C powdered sugar *sifted to remove any lumps* - 2 T fresh lemon juice - 1 T melted butter - 1 - 2 T nut-milk - 1/2 tsp vanilla extract PREPARATION: 1. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Starting with the flour first and ending with flour, making sure everything is well combined. The batter will be fairly thick; when you draw your spatula through the batter, it will leave a trail. 2. Lightly grease donut pan, I use coconut oil in spray can! Filling the wells to about 1/4" shy of the rim. 3. Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 to 7 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a cooling rack. **My batter actually made 16 donuts, and this depends on your donut pan size..but if you do make more than one batch, be sure to fill the empty donut wells with water! Otherwise the pan will burn :) 4. While the donuts are cooling, you can make the icing! Mix all the ingredients together and play around with the amount of nut-milk and juice starting with the smallest amount and gradually adding more until you have the desired consistency and taste! 5. For the icing you can dip the donuts into the icing and swirl them in a circular motion or you can use a spoon and drizzle them on like I did for a nice cascading effect If you make extra, just store in an airtight container on your countertop for 2-3 days (if they last that long) Hope you enjoy your tasty treats! If you made them I would love to see your photos and hear your thoughts on how they turned out. Feel free to tag me on Instagram or upload it in the comments below
HOW I DESIGNED MY HOME
When I think about the things that I accomplished before turning 30, it’s pretty crazy to think one of those things was buying a home! In all honesty, I wasn’t looking to purchase a home and was actually looking to rent but when I was looking over my financial assets and increasing cost of rentals in Los Angeles, it made more sense to use the money I had saved and invest in a home. I loved living in DTLA and came upon this hidden oasis, on the top of a hill in Highland Park. As soon as I saw the unit, I was SOLD! 12 bids later and a personal letter with a picture of Mila and I, we landed ourselves a steal and we prepared to move into our new place. Now, interior design became a growing passion after I went through several processes of designing commercial spaces for the nails salons and ice cream store. So with my new home, I wanted to have some fun and bring more life and personality to the space! Here’s some pictures of the condo before I moved in. What stood out to me in this unit versus the other properties I look at were - vaulted ceilings, top floor location (no noisy footsteps echoing throughout my place), dual master bedrooms on opposite ends of the space, laundry room and the balcony which overlooks a beautiful green hillside. The only thing was, I felt the color of the walls was too dark and drab, in addition to the kitchen cabinets looking a bit outdated. Now, I’m a very visual person and did not have a budget to hire interior designers to help render the space, so I went ahead and created a blank document for each area of my place and pulled photos from online to get a better idea of how the space would look! Here are the renderings that I put together, keeping in mind the dimension of each space and the furniture measurements. Huge thank you to Joss & Main and RoveConcepts for helping me furnish my place! Additionally, I used Dunn Edwards paint to change the color of the walls, giving it a more fresh, clean and modern look. The walls were painted in Heirloom Shade and the ceilings were Cool December. My vision was to create a space that combined Transitional pieces with Mid Century modern vibes and for the bedroom I wanted it to be as chic and modern as possible. I had to hire a painter due to my vaulted ceilings, but I'm proud to say I built 90% of the furniture myself. Now the kitchen is in the process of getting it’s final touches, but I cannot even begin to explain how huge of a difference it made to just paint the cabinets and replace the fixtures! I meannnnnn.....WOW! I can’t wait to replace the countertops and upgrade the appliances. But after I painted the cabinets white, attached new fixtures and replaced the kitchen sink, it really made a world of difference. When moving into a new space, furnishing is a huge expense. So I’ve been adding little by little! I’m currently working on re-vamping my bathroom and I feel like the dining room needs some artwork. Hopefully this gives you all a nice feel of my home and gives you some ideas for how to decorate your space! If you have any design tips, I’d love to hear.
MY LA STAPLES
When it comes to restaurant recommendations, I am your go to girl! Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll all say I am obsessed with food. So instead of getting numerous text messages, calls, DM’s every time someone is in town and wants to know the best places to go, everyone can come here and find my recommendations. My list changes as some new restaurants continue to pop up, but here is a list of some of my favorite staple spots! I’ve broken them down by meal and location (and included my must order dishes). Hope you all enjoy and please leave comments below on any restaurants you’d recommend as I am always on the hunt for new places to try! Happy Scrolling! Don't mind me, I'm already drooling thinking of all the food at these amazing places haha Brunch: because let’s face it - when you live in LA most people don’t go out for breakfast because who the heck wakes up that early and leaves their house???...Not me, that's for sure. So here we have it...get your brunch on! Republique (Hancock Park) - I live for this place. Don’t be intimidated by the line, it moves quickly! Order the Kimchi Fried Rice, you won’t regret it. Have a sweet tooth? I’ll tip my hat to their Brioche French Toast with a side of berries (and whipped cream of course). Sqirl (East Hollywood) - Realizing I must have a thing for rice, but please do yourself a favor and order the Crispy Rice Salad (I like the Disco style), get the Famed Ricotta Toast with Seasonal Jam. Lots of vegan options here as well, and I really enjoy their Horchoffee! Botanica Restaurant & Market (Silver Lake) - Their menu changes seasonally, but I thoroughly enjoy their Summer Scramble, all of their teas and their Chicken Rice Porridge with a soft boiled egg! Don’t be shy and treat yourself to the Garlicky Toast, their fresh bread is amazing. Drooling now, lord help me get through this list without leaving to walk to my fridge. Norah’s (West Hollywood) - I came here to celebrate the purchase of my first home, so it holds a special place in my heart. Bonus: their brunch on Sunday’s have a live band! Lastly, Carbs don’t count on weekends, so CARB OUT with the Skillet Cornbread, Monkey Bread (if they have it), Biscuit Benedict and Passion Fruit Margarita (you deserve it). Lunch Poppy & Rose (DTLA) - One of the best fried chicken sandwiches I have ever consumed. My mom ordered it and thank goodness she never finishes her food, cause I was more than delighted to help her out ;) Amazing farm style decor, with lots of healthy, tasty options. But if you want a lighter lunch split the sandwich and get a salad - I personally love their Brassica. Sugarfish (Multiple Locations) - Some people hate on this place, but it’s simple, consistent, quality sushi every.single.time! Crab Hand Roll is a must and I love their Sweet Shrimp, Albacore Belly, Uni and Bay Scallops. They sometimes have a Monkfish Liver Pate drizzled with a miso glaze which is sooooo rich and creamy! Yum Yum! Din Tai Fung (Glendale/Century City) - Xiao Long Baos for the win! Wish they had a little more soup like Joe’s Shanghai in NYC but they’re still really good! Pork XLB, Spicy Braised Noodle Soup, Pork Chop Fried Rice and their Steamed Kale. If you love Boba, the quality tea is fantastic. Add boba, sea cream and take it to go! Pho 87 (DTLA) - Whenever I’m feeling under the weather, this is the place I crave. Their Oxtail Pho is SO GOOD! They give you so much meat, and the owner always makes a special dipping sauce for it. Their Egg Rolls are also quite delicious! Just wrap them up in lettuce, add some carrots, radish, mint - give them a dip in the fish sauce and enjoy. Kazunori (DTLA) - Sugarfish’ sister restaurant - the mecca of hand rolls. Mimicking the minimalist, fresh style of its counterpart it’s a nice place to stop for lunch. I love their bay scallop, uni and crab handroll. Simple, consistent and quick. Dinner: This meal of the day is tricky for me, and my list varies based on who I’m going out with, the occasion, and the expectation - are we looking for a place with nice ambiance, good music, something more intimate? Case point with this list, is that I would recommend the to anyone! Friends in town, couples, parents...all of these places are great options that are overall well rounded. Élephante (Santa Monica) - From the decor to the location, ambiance and menu is hands down one of my favorite restaurants in LA. I love to come here for early dinners to watch the sunset, but be prepared and make reservations! They might have a few spots open at the bar, but you shouldn’t risk it. The Whipped Eggplant is ridiculously good, Soppressata Pizza (aka Bee Sting from Roberta’s), Gulf Shrimp and the Élephante signature drink are musts. Otoño (Highland Park) - WOW! This tapas place just popped up in my neighborhood and it is deliciously dangerous to be so close to something so good. Take all my money Otoño, you deserve it. First time I came here, I sat next to an old couple from Spain...they asked about the paella and I said it was the best I’d ever had! He even admitted that the paella in Spain was not the best in the world. Sad, but true. Come here instead. Standouts for me: Setas en Escabeche, Calamares en su Tinta, Boquerones, Mariscos Fideua. All their dishes are good, but branch out and try some new items! Margot (Culver City) - Another place, where every item did not disappoint. Ever been to Norah’s? This market-driven restaurant is by the same owners, so you can count on them for quality consistency. Ambiance, drinks, dishes and servers! Extremely well rounded. Be prepared to drop a pretty penny. Kampachi - refreshing spin compared to every other one in LA, Charred Broccoli, Yellowtail Collar (specialty item), and Cappelini for you fellow truffle lovers. Beverage of choice - Poma. Dessert wise, get the Churros! Everson Royce Bar (DTLA) - Funny story, came here on a date and ran into him as I was leaving the bathroom to head to the table. ‘I think I just saw you...’, “Oh really?” *Waiter, bring me a drink STAT!* Boilermakers...haven’t ever tried one? Radler & Mezcal, a real zinger but it takes the edge off. Sharing is caring so try the Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, “Token” Frenchie Salad, Steamed Buns and [Crack] Burger. WOW! Tag me in a picture of your face after eating this burger because I need to know if it’s just as good as I remember. Ma’am Sir (Silverlake) - If you have any Filipino friends and have been to their parent’s house or have visited the Philippines, you’ll get the name! Favorites were Uni Lumpia, Crispy Lechon, Milkfish Inihaw, and Oxtail Kari Kari. Interesting cocktails as well. Bestia (DTLA) - This place should be no surprise if you’re an LA local, but I love bringing friends in town here. Amazing Italian food, at a leisure pace so it’s the perfect place to catch up over some good food. I always recommend the: Roasted Bone Marrow, Cavatelli alla Norcina and the Slow Roasted Lamb Neck! For dessert, don’t pass on the Bar Au Chocolat Budino Tart. Little Sister (DTLA) - A hip restaurant that bumps hip-hop music. Little Sister puts a twist on Vietnamese dishes. Been here plenty of times and really enjoy the Bo La Lot, Bo Kho, Viet Coconut Braised Pork, Salt & Pepper Lobster. *PS* If you’re in OC, go to LSXO (it’s a Speakeasy, sister restaurant and they have a full bar.! SOLD) Dinner at Margot in Culver City. Photos by Ashley Streff
We are all familiar with the saying, “beauty is only skin deep”, but what does it actually mean? Yes, inner confidence and self-love radiates from within, yet our physical appearance still affects our inner confidence from time to time. For me, my external appearance is a reflection of how I’m feeling internally. So, taking proper care of my skin ties into my overall wellness. It is also your body's largest organ, so treat it well! For those of you who don’t have cosmetology degrees or education within the industry, I think it can be really intimidating...There are millions of products and brands to sift through. So here’s my suggestion to you. Trim the fat. Find what works for you, and what doesn’t. You may not need a 6 step skincare regimen. Heck, some women find that a Dove soapbar is the best cleanser for their skin. I envy those women who get to save on simple products, but I have spoiled my skin lavishly throughout the years and it refuses to settle for soap! Aside from drinking as much water as possible, do your best to incorporate these three categories into your skincare regimen. Cleanser: Some people are lazy and want to skip this step. In the mornings, sure you can get away with it and use a washcloth instead. Definitely, wash your face at night though! Rid your skin of environmental toxins and excess oil build-up. Here are my favorites! Tatcha - Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser: Takes off ALL your make-up, even waterproof mascara and clumpy lash glue residue. Make-up remover and cleanser in one? Your welcome! Shiseido - Benefiance Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam: I’ve been using this ever since I was in high school. Rich, creamy lather; good for all skin types, removes makeup and excess surface cells, leaving your skin hydrated. Great anti-aging cleanser. I tend to use this one a lot during cold months as my skin gets pretty dry. Kopari - Coconut Cleansing Oil: Vegan product alert! Removes makeup, leaves skin soft and it doesn’t clog pores! *Kate Somerville - ExfoliKate* Very important and I usually keep this in the shower! Use 2-3 times a week but give your skin time in between. Very important to use a moderate exfoliating cleanser a few times a week to remove the buildup of impurities under your skin! Moisturizer: Wait a second, did I skip a step??? Okay, I’m trying to simplify the process and list the essentials! Tone all you want, and if it’s part of a 3 step program, stick with it. Otherwise, I’ve gone without it and seem to be doing just fine. Herbivore - Pink Cloud: Already sounds like a dream and your skin will think so too! Any time I notice a little rosacea on my cheeks, this soothes it - leaving my skin fresh and dewy. Tatcha - The Water Cream: Oil-free and anti-aging, this water cream provides the utmost moisture. A touch of 23 karat gold? Why thank you, ever so much. Dr. Dennis Gross - Vitamin C+ Collagen Deep Cream - Helps improve dark spots and wrinkles. Deep hydration, while improving your skin’s complexion. Eyes: Definitely don’t want to skip this step! Drunk Elephant - C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream: Vegan! Great for AM/PM use. Restores elasticity and firmness, while brightening and moisturizing Biossance - Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel: Helps puffiness, firmness and elasticity. If you ever get small bumps under your eyes, it may be from a heavy eye cream! Switch to this as it won’t clog your pores but still helps with those problematic under eye issues. Belif - Moisturizing Eye Bomb: Lightweight, but extremely moisturizing. Helps with dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Also provides a great canvas for makeup. **For those ladies who wan't anti-aging specific products, here are my recommendations**