It’s been a while, friends. I’ve been well for the most part, living my day to day as normally I have ever felt since being diagnosed almost three years ago. There are days when fatigue or emotions get a hold of me and I lay in bed most of the day, but I am inherently an active person and I try to muster up energy and keep myself busy when I’m feeling unlike myself. With the onset of warmer weather and spring blossoms all around, I am feeling well and happy. Each season is such a gift, I am thankful I can enjoy another spring.
Near the end of March, my family and I took a short trip to Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Ojai (pronounced OH-ha-ee) during Elaine’s spring break. We enjoyed another side of California that we had forgotten about–one that is peaceful and green with prairies and cows and horses, so different from the urban beach cities of LA. A taste of bucolic country near the city hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
We started our trip in Solvang with typical touristy activities: walking around the Danish-inspired town eating Danishes, taking pictures in the giant red shoe and in front of windmills, and my favorite which was visiting a year-round Christmas shop. Because of our four-year-old, we also sought out a park in which she could run around and play. There was a unique park that I found online, but for some reason we couldn’t find its location because it wasn’t where some links were directing us. I initially saw that it was located at Hans Christian Andersen Park, but it turned out to be a skate park surrounded by greenery with tables, benches, and an everyday playground. It was great, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. Later I found out the park was a mile and half away from city-center, so we decided to hang around town for a bit and head to the park as our last stop before heading to Santa Barbara. The park was called Sunny Fields Park. I highly recommend stopping by if you have kids of your own.
“For God so loved the word, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).
I started reading advent stories with my daughter yesterday (since it was Dec. 1) and now that she’s older, she appreciates the stories and understands the reason for Christmas with more awareness. We have been using the Jesus Storybook Bible for reading since she was a baby, but I recently discovered they have an Advent calendar reading plan and some printable coloring pages available for free online. Here is the link. It was so funny because the introduction starts with the question that asks the child, “What do you love most about Christmas?” and my daughter immediately responded, “Presents!” and the book continued, “Most of us say, PRESENTS! And all the grown-ups will laugh and want us to say something more spiritual.” Haha, I was laughing and thinking the same thing. The introduction continued, “That IS the best, most important thing about Christmas. Because, you see, Christmas is all about a present—a gift. The greatest, most magnificent gift there has ever been…”
With the daily reading and reminder, my daughter has been preparing gifts to give others as well by drawing something for everyone she knows. It’s fun to watch her thinking process and how she goes about her plans. I say she gets that trait from me; I love drawing and planning, and it’s no surprise I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping!
And for all the planners out there, here is a short list of practical gifts for the female person in your life that likes comfort and self-care. This is a funny list because most of the items are great for moms and grandmas and they are things I already own, tried and true items–things that I would 100% recommend because they’re really good compared to other products from different brands. I am a grandma, so I should know. ;)
HUE Women’s Hidden Cotton No Show 4 pack socks: $11.20. I’ve tried so many no-show socks from so many brands, but these are the ones, ya’ll. There’s one at Macy’s that’s not cotton but a nylon-type material and it does not fall off your feet even when you’re taking off your shoes (which happens all the time with no-show socks)! They’re amazing and comfortable.
Hanyul: (a) Face Moisturizing Cream $19.99, (b) Rice Essential Skin Moisture Cream $34.76 : Like the “no-show socks”, I have been on a long journey trying to find the perfect moisturizing cream. It had to be moisturizing enough so that I didn’t have to apply it every 30 minutes and it had to be very gentle so that it didn’t sting (because my face is extremely dry and sensitive). I’ve tried many brands from varying prices and although I have found a few others that work just as well as the Hanyul cream, Hanyul beats them all because it works so well and it won’t break the bank. Other brands that have worked for dry, sensitive skin: Sulwhasoo products (I used their lotions and essence and they are excellent. I heard this serum is liquid gold; I’d recommend it to gift mothers) and La Mer products. But again, they’re pricey and Hanyul has great results for such a good price.
Crabtree & Evelyn 6-piece mini hand lotion gift set: $16.99 I purchased this set to gift because it’s an essential, everyday item that people like teachers, nurses, and people whose jobs require them to wash their hands constantly would appreciate. I always carry around hand lotion and I would assume almost every female I know does too.
Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over Coffee Maker ($16.94) OR this one ($14.97): This one is especially for my mother who breaks every coffee-making related product made of fragile material. In the past two years, she has broken 2 ceramic pour-over coffee makers and 2 glass French press coffee makers. This Christmas, I am getting her this one made of stainless steel! If she somehow breaks this, I… can’t.
Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly: $28. This product absorbs well unlike other lotion/moisturizing products that have creamy consistencies and sometimes sits on top of my face or leaves a white streak/residue. I use this product throughout the day when I need a quick touch-up on dry spots and they also sell a smaller tube so that it can fit in small purses so that you can carry it around everywhere.
Chocolove Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate Bar (2 for $5) OR the Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups ($1.99). I found these at Sprouts, but I’m sure you can find them around your local Whole Foods-like grocery store. I’ve been trying to consume dark chocolate instead of other sweets to satisfy my sweet tooth, and since I’m always low on magnesium and it just so happens that dark chocolate and almonds contain magnesium, it seems too good to be true that I can eat “candy.” They also taste amazing–much better than Reese’s peanut butter cups. *gasp* (and I love Reese’s peanut butter cups)
UNIQLO’s Heattech extra warm scoop neck shirt: $19.90. Great for PJs, great for loungewear, great for yoga because it’s clings to the body instead of sliding towards your chest during downward dog and other upside down exercises, great for layering under sweaters on cold days, great for wearing by itself on slightly chilly days. Great great great. Can’t find anything else like it.
Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb: $48. Moderate price for eye cream that thoroughly moisturizes, is lightweight, and doesn’t sting the sensitive skin around your eyes. Again, my skin has become so sensitive that products I used to love, e.g., Shiseido’s eye creams, cause too much pain now. Also, I think Belif’s Moisturizing Eye Bomb carries more product than other eye creams, so it lasts longer.
InnoGear 200ml Essential Oil Diffuser: $21.99. I didn’t think I’d be an essential oil-user, but I tried it and have enjoyed using it while sleeping. Certain oil-combinations have helped with lessening stress/anxiety.
UNIQLO plaid flannel pants: $14.90. During warmer seasons, I like to wear these, but my sister thinks they look like elderly-country-women (Korean ahjumma) pants and refuses to even try them on despite my testimonies of them being the most comfortable pants in the world! haha. Well, here are flannel ones that look more “hip” but still has the elastic waistband and wide legs, so they’re a thumbs up from me.