Squishy’s Baek-il

Squishy turned 100 Days Old and I was consumed by my inner domestic voice to plan a DIY party. I’m no Ina Garten, but there are a few things that I truly enjoy such as the company of great friends and faces that live near and far.

‘100 Days’ Celebration (baek-il) is a Korean heirloom tradition that started back when infant mortality was a big issue in Korea. The gathering typically includes both sides of the family, tons of rice cake, and can be as large or as intimate as you’d like.

Our celebration was smaller and much more casual with no traditional costumes or rituals. Instead, I did a picnic style lunch with semi-homemade dishes, fresh produce from our local farms, and light bites from Veggie Grill. Oh and did I ever mention how the wine is insanely cheap here? $65 for 6 bottles from Ralph’s. The accessories (utensils and cutlery) was ordered from Oh! Happy Day, an online party store and our local Daiso.

Overall good vibes with plenty of food, a chill baby, and lots of ro-saaay.

Date Night

With our newborn around, our outings have been limited to the local Target for occasional diaper runs. But today, my husband and I paid a visit to the Erewhon Market in Venice.

Squishy’s Godmother took me to the market a few weekends ago and I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was. You know one of those stores that persuade you into buying things that you don’t even need and simultaneously make you think, “Thank God I don’t live around here…?” Well, that’s Erewhon – and just FYI, bring cash and leave your credit cards at home. Trust me. Erewhon is a west coast version of Dean and Deluca, but with a health-conscious message.

They carry an array of house-made products (packaged soups, nut butter) as well as artisanal, small-batch products including Zen Bunni chocolates (a personal favorite of mine), Moon Juice pantry goods, and the infamous $25 Coconut Cult non-dairy yogurt. The store isn’t exclusively vegan, but many of the products are tailored for those who are celiac and/or raw vegan. I also love the strategic placement of items like finding $9 containers of pre-cut fruit sitting next to twenty-dollar tubs of yogurt (as shown above) [Below] Bounty of local organic produce, beautifully curated.

Erewhon has a wide selection of prepared sandwiches, salads that you can quickly grab and go… or for an elevated fast-casual dining experience, try one of their entree plates, which come with a main and two sides. My personal favorites include the Rad Thai and Buffalo Cauliflower. Not surprisingly, Erewhon is one of the few non-vegan markets where 75% of the prepared food is vegan.

To give you an idea of why it’s difficult to resist the urge to buy everything, just look at these chic jars of INNA jams. Don’t you just want to collect them all?

If it weren’t for the restrictive 30-minute parking policy, I would lounge for a few hours to relax, check emails, and people-watch. You’re only a hop, skip away from Abbott-Kinney where you’ll find a plethora of shopping and entertainment: Alternative, James Perse, Sabah, and the famous Blue Star Doughnuts. This adorable baby husky was patiently waiting for his owner – and naturally, like everything else, he was too perfect – he even matched the rug. Was that intentional? Perhaps. Erewhon Market in Venice (..soon coming to Santa Monica).

Puppet Play

One of my favorite toy stores in Costa Mesa called ‘Granola Babies’ is closing down at the end of the month to focus exclusively on classes. So, I picked up these wonderful puppets made by HABA for $10 each and we’ve been having fun with them ever since.

Using puppets is a great way to stimulate the baby’s brain and jump start language learning for infants, exposing them to sounds and pronunciations as early as possible. When doing puppet play, I speak in Korean while my husband speaks in Japanese/Mandarin.

We’ll occasionally catch Squishy engaging in “baby talk” back to the puppets (nothing we can understand…yet). In between naps, feedings, and tummy time, we use the puppets to keep him engaged during those down periods of time.

For older children, puppets serve as a great way to get their creative juices flowing and they construct scenarios and character development. It’s also a great way for children to overcome their shyness by channeling their emotions through characters. Give the HABA Puppet Frog a try.

Farmer’s Market

Our town hosts a small farmer’s market every Saturday. While its modest appearance certainly doesn’t stand out as grand or impressive compared to some of the larger markets throughout LA (my personal favorite being Santa Monica), the intimate size of this one makes shopping more accessible.

Most of the vendors travel down from the mountainous regions of Southern California including Ojai and Ventura County. I especially love the large selection of greens and locally harvested herbs, which are plucked from the ground earlier that day. The products that we see in contemporary supermarkets have been sitting in storage containers for at least a few days before they hit the shelves. Last week, I purchased a bag of triple-washed mesclun greens from the farmer’s market and the mix lasted for an entire 2 weeks before it started wilting and turning brown… Amazing. Definitely one of the things I’ll miss about California if we ever left.

The farmers are super generous with their samples: you’ll find large chunks of peaches, plums, strawberries to try and questions are encouraged. Not to mention, products are ultra-competitively priced. Flowers go for the ultra-cheap. The ‘Cactus Man’ (not pictured here) is my favorite vendor – his knowledge and passion for Cactus always inspire me.

There’s a large number of Asian-operated, independent farms throughout California (Mr. Ha, pictured above, brings his snow mountain apples to the market every week) where you’ll find the less common varieties of Asian produce including specialty bok choy, yu-choy, foraged wild mushrooms, and Japanese eggplants. And did I mention… BALUT? Ok, so balut is not for everyone, but if you’re a fan, you’ll certainly find plenty here. Cerritos Farmer’s Market, Inside The Town’s Business Plaza, Every Saturday 8AM-12PM. 

Lean Green Pasta

With a crying infant on my arm, I definitely won’t be reaching a heightened level of domesticity anytime soon. Which is why I love this dish – it’s semi-homemade, nutritious, and effectively wow(s) my skeptical carnivore friends to even consider going partially vegetarian. You can opt for homemade pesto or store-bought pesto, whichever floats your boat. And… did I mention that it only takes 15 minutes to make?

1/2c. Pesto Sauce (Store-Bought, Homemade)
Black Sesame Seeds
2 tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon
12oz. Kelp Noodles
1 tblsp. Baking Soda

Prep
Soak the kelp noodles in a medium bowl of warm water. To the water, squeeze the juice from 1/2 the lemon, and add baking soda, swirl to mix the contents. Soak the noodles for 15 minutes until they turn nice and soft.

Assembly
Drain the noodles. Add pesto sauce to the kelp noodles and massage thoroughly. Top off the dish with a generous sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Enjoy!