Tuesday Thoughts: Tea and Cake

I’ve always had a penchant for cards and letters–oh, and balloons.  If you were to spot anything in my room, it would be the boxes of notes and cards collected since middle school.  After college, I managed to discard a handful that held very little meaning.  For me, thoughtfully written words carry greater significance than a party attended by careless souls.  Maybe it’s because I was essentially required to host a “birthday party” for my entire class every year when I attended a private school.  Other than the few close friends who truly celebrated with me–yes, I was only 4–my peers would merely reiterate what my teacher said.  “We appreciate you.  Happy Birthday.”  Subsequently, another birthday celebration with family friends followed.  Mind you, most of them are at least 3 years older than I am and are boys.  I’d only look forward to wearing the princess crown and opening boxes with pink wrapping paper. Even now, I am a strong proponent of the color pink.

This year, I celebrated my birthday with the fambam on the real day for the first time in a while.  It also happened to be on the same day as Mother’s Day, which actually ended up being quite hilarious, as I prepared high tea for brunch and  my family set aside “Princess Christine” time after 1 pm.  What an exchange!

My mom loved the flowers I had customized at our favorite floral boutique–Hanadai–as well as the handcrafted chocolate from France.  Both she and my dad thoroughly enjoyed the homemade tea sandwiches, scones, strawberries and cream, and fragrant tea.  Making them and shopping for the ingredients were quite fun! (My brother had a difficult time keeping up with me at Whole Foods.)  We arranged an array of goodies on the trays: smoked gouda dip on panazella, sliced cucumbers with pesto garlic spread on squaw bread, potato salad on squaw bread, garlic lime grilled shrimp with cilantro and spread on  asiago roll, petit fours, scones.  The homemade clotted cream was surprisingly successful!  What I love about high tea the most, though, is taking out my mom’s fine china.  I already called dibs on inheriting her collection–all handcrafted in England and Germany!

From morning to evening, the day could not have been any more beautiful.

Thank you, friends and family, for making these past 12 months memorable.  You have pampered me with much love that I definitely do not deserve.  Thank you, Mom, for being an inspirational woman and mother.  Here’s a toast to another year of new adventures and memories.  Be excited for tomorrow’s post, “An Afternoon Pick Me Up: Flowers & Books”– dedicated to my sweet, sweet girlfriends Jeanette, Paula, and Amanda.

See you, soon!


{“CJP” bracelet–Christine, Jeanette, Paula}


{I see Paris, I see France. Absolutely beautiful card received from my family.}


{Making invitation cards to send out to my parents and brother for Mother’s Day tea time}


{Vintage Aynsley Bone China and Rosenthal China}


{Prepping for high tea brunch in honor of our mother}


{Customized birthday cake from our favorite Bonjour Pastry}

Thursday Tip: Just a Simple White Tee


{1. JCrew White Tee, 2. Cat’s Eye Sunnies, 3. Boyfriend Jeans, 4. Lo & Sons Bag, 5. Toe-capped Sneakers}

The one thing that I appreciate about Southern California weather is that it rarely hinders me from visiting a Farmer’s Market.  In Chicago, such was not the case.  Los Angeles and I share a love-hate relationship, as I constantly teeter-totter between, “Los Angeles, I love how you calm my soul,” and “Why are you so superficial?”  But when it comes to sharing cultural wealth, this city does a commendable job of doing so.  And having a brother who attends USC, I seize opportunities to indulge in such wealth.  A while back, I took a trip to the Trojan Farmer’s Market on campus and enjoyed visiting each booth.  I returned home with a bag full of berry kettle popcorn and rustic loaf of bread (no preservatives!) while my brother feasted on his very first pupusas.


For me, Farmer’s Market means dressing down than up.  A simple white tee and perfect pair of denim does the trick.  (If I were to conclude based on what my dad, brother, and guy friends say, then I must affirm the claim that men find women attractive when they throw on a white shirt and jeans.)  Since cat’s eye sunglasses are coming back next season, ditch those overrated aviators and grab these feminine sunnies instead.  And if you’re anything like me at the Farmer’s Market, do yourself a favor and carry a Lo & Sons bag (fashionable + utilitarian).  Whether you’re a college girl or working woman who travels, you will find the bag to be useful (space for camera, laptop, and/or shoes + attachable to suitcase).


Happy Thursday, and I’ll see you, soon.  LovePristineChristine


Spring from Head to Toe


I literally feel and taste spring every day now, which hypersurges–yes, this is a made up word–my happiness level by a factor of at least 10!  From the luscious strawberries to the gangling but sweet chrysanthemum coronariums, spring gives joy to my palate.  However, changing seasonal produce isn’t the only exciting part of the sun-filled quarter.  Transition in colors add to the thrill as well.  This Spring, we shift to pastels and gold.  From my humble perspective, it’s not wise to splurge on pastel-tone clothes for two main reasons.  One, not everyone can rock pastels (figure out whether your face is warm-tone or cool-tone).  Two, they’re less likely to be classics that will endure several seasons.  Instead, consider redirecting the focus to your extremities–fingers, toes, hands, head.  Check out my guide to Spring/Summer’14 Must Haves.   


1. Color-blocked pastel clutches 
2. Bucket bags (similar)
3. Glitter & mint nail polish (Opi, Jamberry)
4. Gold cocktail rings, statement necklaces, bangles
5. Baby blue espadrilles (Zara)

I’m rather ecstatic to share these next series of posts.  Stay tuned to catch a glimpse of a day at USC’s Farmer’s Market and to learn about my ideal outfit on casual days. :)

Playful Plating with Luscious Greens

My brother’s latest complaint has been that the memory card for our DSLR has been overloaded with my photos.  I dramatically put on my teary-eyed face and plead, “But… it’s such a difficult task, selecting the best one… help, please?”  I’m getting there… slowly.  I promise!  The next posts will increasingly exemplify the beauty of spring and summer. Speaking of which, spring naturally inspires everything green.  A number of “foodies” and chefs scoff at the idea of creating dishes that highlight vegetables, which makes me question how they can call themselves lovers of food.  Now, while I do love my variety of salads, I also believe in being innovative with our green friends.  (Ladies, please do not put yourself through “salad only” or “no-carb” diets.)  A month ago, I took the liberty of running our kitchen operations and cooked up something on the whim–Gold (金) Gama [금가마], which pays homage to my ancestor King Gyeongsun (金傅) of Silla and to my Korean heritage.  The crab shumai–symbolizing the king–sits atop his vast territory while being carried by a gama (aka “litter”),  an invention that came generations later, which is represented by the asparagus box.  Wow, that was a hefty sentence, wasn’t it?


{Asparagus box (cut blanched asparagus), perilla leaves, crab shumai, dollop of Sriracha, marinaded prime top blade steak}


{I call this dish ‘Gold Gama’, 금가마}


{Mama Kim’s Asparagus Brown Rice Risotto}


 And the elaborate details on asparagus’ functionality don’t stop there! Two weeks ago, my brother craved for some risotto, and Mama Kim cooked up magic with her asparagus risotto.  Nowadays, chefs opt for farro in their recipes as a way to promote healthy eating, but we decided to use genmai brown rice instead.  Surprisingly, the nuttiness from the genmai is similar to that of farro, and we may even prefer the Japanese grain for its more refined taste.  Most importantly, our friends reggiano and parmesan added the last touch to the final product.  Two words: amazing, addicting.  All of us spooned for more to our stomach’s content.  :)  We tried both family-style and individual plates of risotto, and if you’re looking to create a fun evening of dining, then consider family-style.

I hope you’re enjoying this fantastic Tuesday weather (sorry, Chicagoans, I know that the bizarre snow rained on your parade…)!  Tomorrow, I’ll update you on ways to incorporate this Spring and Summer colors to your outfit!


Daily Delights: Spring Medley

Spring came fairly early this year for those of us living in California.  The one perk of being 10 minutes away from three beaches rather than being in the city or “newer” areas–Pasadena, much of Irvine, Corona, etc.–is that you’ll rarely encounter unpleasant weather.  We have the most ideal weather–perfect breeze, cool temperatures, clear skies, and sunshine.  A change in seasons also calls for a new batch of vegetables and fruits coloring store shelves.  As much as I love my winter veggies, I am an enthusiast of spring produce as well.

My perennial affinity for herbs–my personal favorites’ being thyme, rosemary, and basil–still holds.  However, I also harbor a strong reverence for vegetables that beautifully capture the fine dining of my ancestors, as I am a direct descendant of King Gyung Soon of Silla.  And the heh-cho bibimbap not only embodies but elevates these ingredients with a modernistic approach.  You can use either the Korean squash or its Italian counterpart; for this particular dish though, I prefer the latter.  Speaking of heritage, Chef David Lefevre of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite took me back to Korean seas with his black miso cod and tender grilled octopus.  You may or may not remember my previous visit to Fishing with Dynamite (@eatfwd), but yesterday’s lunch there was nearly perfect–even more so than my first time.  The cod was anything but overly salty or sweet, maintaining the right balance in both texture and flavor.  Together, the braised daikon cubes, adzuki beans/red beans, glazed eggplant, and cooked cod explode with culinary brilliance.

While I can boast that my ancestors ate some of Mother Nature’s finest , I must admit that they never had the privilege of experiencing California’s delightful berry season.  My morning routine is to make avocado toast or oatmeal, grab a serving of nuts, slice an apple–Fuji or Gala usually–and wash a bowl full of berries.  A lovely medley of tartiness and sweetness burst in my mouth, and I immediately taste spring and summer.


{Mix: Tossed seasoned seaweed salad (heh-cho), perilla strips, sautéed Italian squash, Korean seasoned daikon/radish (moo saeng chae), toasted sesame seeds, and rice}


{Fresh blueberries and raspberries}

{Credits to Darin Dines for the photo; Black Miso Cod @ Fishing with Dynamite}

{UPCOMING TALES: Fantastic Fashion Spring/Summer Essential, Farmer’s Market on Trojan Grounds (USC), Favorite Five Los Angeles Eats, Fish Taco Fridays at La Jolla, Lessons with Leftovers}

I hope you’re kicking off the weekend with some spring celebration.  Happy Friday!

pristine christine

Daily Delights: Feast for the Eyes

I’ve always been a morning slash breakfast hyphen brunch type of person.  From elementary to freshman year of college, I woke up at 6 am every day.  Beginning my sophomore year of college, my daily start began even earlier, and soon, 5 am became 4 am.  For a while, after graduating, I trained myself to not rise at the crack of dawn.  Now, I start my day at 5 am or 6 am.  Apparently, the creative types are most productive at odd hours–mine just happens to be before sunrise.  The Huffington Post article spoke my heart, as I tend to enter my “flow state” and block out my surroundings when my painting or writing absorbs me.

What I love the most about the AM (am, A.M., a.m…) is being able to enjoy a warm brew of coffee and hearty breakfast with my mom after morning prayer.  Over easy egg, sliced avocado, cracked pepper, and proscuitto–all on toasted whole wheat bread or English muffin.  We bond over our hobbies and life.  She reads the newspaper, while I dig through an avalanche of news from Wall Street and Washington Post.  I undergo my daily ritual of morose and nostalgia when staring at my dying friend, who goes by the name of Print Journalism.  Coffee does the bare minimum to temporarily assuage such grief.  Three months from now, my mornings will consist of a different routine.  Breakfast won’t be the same when I move into my new place.


{Proscuitto, over-easy egg, avocado, pepper cracked open face sandwich}


{Gifts from Paris, sent by a good friend}


I’m loving this spring/summer’s color swatch–pastels and brights–and hoping I can incorporate them somehow into my wall decor.  For those who normally stick to dark solids, be bold and play around with this season’s varying patterns and tones.  From floral to tribal to houndstooth,  and from seafoam to sand to coral, I don’t think I’ve seen a more exciting spring/summer since 2008 or 2009.

TGIF, everyone!

pristine christine

Friday Fave5 and a Belated Valentine Update


1. I left a piece of my heart with the croissants at Tartine.
2Brian Williams raps like a master (The Late Night Show)
3. Mil & Bird’s deep royal blue tote (millandbird.com)
4. Pointed skimmer flats are the rage this spring and summer.  You can find a cute pair from Madewell!
5. Flare jeans steal the spotlight this spring.  Fashion repeats itself.
6. We’re winding back to the 90s with style.  Flare jeans, check. Crop tops, check.  Zara’s black knit crop top flatters all body types (pear, hourglass, apple), and they’d look absolutely adorable with jeans, skirts, and shorts. (Zara.com)

Valentines_Card_DadMom{Heartfelt card and message from Daddy-O to Mama Bear + gift not pictured}

Esther_Lee_Letter{A Valentine of my own sent by a dear sister back from my alma mater}

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!  Whether you’re single or in a relationship, I hope all of you enjoyed last Friday regardless.  In fact, there’s nothing sinful about indulging in rich fondue as a single lady unless you’re coddled by both decadent chocolate fondue and bewitching cheese fondue simultaneously.  Guilty enough, my family and I treated ourselves to chocolate fondue made with 100% Belgian chocolate and to a heavenly mixture of white wine and gruyere and swiss cheese fondue.  Tyler Florence and Nigella Lawson share recipes I personally love, but as an avid Nigella follower, I can’t help but to show a slight bias toward hers.

I wish I could elucidate on the details of my pitch perfect Valentine/President’s Day Weekend in San Francisco because every aspect of the trip was truly a blessing.  We left the quaint, winding city with a newfound fondness for two things–Gialina Pizzeria and Tartine Bakery.  Crazy to say, we–lovers of bread and Italian cuisine–willingly waited 30 minutes to grab a bite of both and left not a bit disappointed.  We concurred that Gialina ranks at the top with Gjelina in terms of serving fantastic pizza baked the right way and that Tartine’s buttery croissants will have anyone vying for more.

Happy Friday!  

pristine christine 

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