MC 12.4: Choreo is King

Hey friends,

I bring you another short and sweet blog post! Since I want to make my last dance update great for you guys, I’ve decided to spend two weeks practicing it, which means I don’t have an update for you this week. BUT I think it will be totally worth it to have a great finale to my year of challenges!

In the meantime, here are a few videos from some great choreographers I’ve found. If you have any you can recommend, I would love to check them out!

Kyle Hanagami: Boom Clap

Lia Kim: Sing

Matt Steffanina: 24k Magic

Check back next week for my last dance update!

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FFF: Les Amis

It’s Frugal Foodie Friends Friday! Be sure to check out Esther’s review too! If you missed it, here’s the post with our bucket list. And here is our list on Yelp if you want to check it out!

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Instagram: @lesamis_restaurant

Arrived: 5:40 pm
Overall rating: 5
Ambiance: 5
Timeliness: 5
Service: 4
Quality of food: 5
Cost of meal: $29 each
Time spent: About 1.5 hours

Downtown Fullerton is basically the downtown area that lazy people like me go to because they don’t want to drive to LA. It’s known for its great food and night life, so there is quite a bit of competition when it comes to choosing where to eat. However Les Amis, a family-owned Lebanese restaurant, stands out among the others. I’ve been once with my friend a few months ago and ever since then have dreamed about going back. I knew it had to be on our list because it is such a unique place with amazing food.

I talked up the food at Les Amis quite a bit to Esther, and thankfully my second visit to Les Amis did not let me down! In fact, they had expanded their restaurant quite a bit into two dining areas and an outdoor patio!

Once we found parking (parking in DTF is always horrendous, especially on the weekends), we walked around the corner to Les Amis and explored the inside. The minute you step inside, you feel transported to the Middle East with the music, colors, decor, and food. At 5:40 on a Friday night the place was fairly empty, so we were able to explore the restaurant a bit before sitting down.

Once we did, we were promptly handed menus and brought fresh pita chips and hummus, which were amazing. Another improvement from when I first visited Les Amis is the addition of a happy hour menu with great pricing for food and drinks! For appetizers, we decided to order 4 falafel and their fried cauliflower dish, which I had previously and couldn’t wait to try again. Within about 15 minutes of ordering, our appetizers were brought out steaming hot.

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Fried Cauliflower – $8

Topped with parsley, tomato, tartour, onion, pine nuts, and fresh lemon juice. This is one of my favorite dishes maybe ever. The cauliflower was fried on the outside and soft on the inside, the pine nuts added some crunch, and the lemon packed a great punch. It was even great when I reheated it for lunch the next day!

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Falafel – $6
Deep fried bean & vegetable mix flavored with herbs & spices, topped with fresh herbs and served with taratour.
I’ve only had falafel one other time so I don’t have much to compare this falafel with, but I really enjoyed it! It was crunchy and tasted meaty, although there’s no meat in it. It was a little spicy, but the garlic aoli it came with balanced it out nicely!

About 8 minutes after our appetizers arrived, our main course came! We both decided to get platters, which was a great choice because it came with so many different things! Esther ordered the Chicken Schwarma platter and I ordered the Kafta platter. Both were amazing!

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Kafta Platter – $15
Extra lean ground lamb herbed and spiced, served with parsley, onion, summac, tomato and house yogurt. Served with basmati rice, cream of zucchini soup, baba ghanouge and hot pita.
I had never heard of cream of zucchini soup before, but it was the house soup of the night and I thought it would be interesting to try. It was a really nice soup and reminded me of fall. I also opted for baba ghanouge instead of hummus and really enjoyed it! Although it was a little stringy from the eggplant, I really enjoyed the roasted flavor. And the warm pita bread went great with it! The lamb was very tender since it was ground. My meal was great for leftovers the next day!

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Chicken Schwarma Platter – $14
Chicken marinated strips served with garlic spread. Served with basmati rice, cream of zucchini soup, hummus and hot pita.
The chicken in this had a great flavor, almost like BBQ!

While we were there, the manager came and checked on us a few times and was so friendly. Les Amis is a family-owned restaurant, and you can just feel the homeyness when you’re there! Even though it’s a little spendy, the food is so tasty and quality that it’s worth it! And the likelihood of having leftovers is pretty high, so really you’re getting two meals. We really enjoyed our time at Les Amis and can’t wait to go back! Check back next month for another Frugal Foodie Friends review!

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MC 12.3: It’s Like the Movies

Hey friends, I went line dancing again last weekend and each time I go it gets more and more fun! This time I wanted to learn something impressive so I could knew more than just the beginner dances, so I decided to learn the Fake ID line dance from footloose! (Photo cred: K.C. Bailey).

Thankfully, the choreographers from the movie have a tutorial on youtube that does a great job at explaining it. While the choreography seems simple at first, when I watched the video from the movie I realized there are a lot of nuances to this dance!

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There are only 6 8-counts to this dance, but the song is so fast-paced that you really have to know the steps in order to keep up. Even though it’s a fast dance, once I watched the video a few times I didn’t think it was too hard! Although I’m sure I’ll never match Julianne Hough’s flair in the movie.

Anyways, when I went line dancing this weekend I was a little bit of a nerd and tried to write down all the dances they called out (that I could understand at least) and looked up a few when I got home. So if you want some more line dance tutorials, I have a few for you!

Redneck Angel

Slappin Leather

Cowboy Up

That’s it for this week! I’m already practicing my final dance for you guys, so hopefully it’s a really good one! See you next week!

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MC 12.2: So You Think You Can Dance?

Hey friends! Hope you had a great week! I spent the weekend in the Bay area because one of my besties got engaged and I went to surprise her! The 12 hours driving in the car was worth it to get to celebrate her and her new fiance 🙂

Even though I had a busy week, I still got to dance a little bit! As some of you might now, I have always loved to dance and I especially love tutorial videos. So I decided to revisit a video I learned from in high school with my small group! My leader Melinda, and her sister got me and some of the other girls involved in National Dance day, promoted by some of the choreographers from the show So You Think You Can Dance. The Dizzy Feet Foundation, in conjunction with the choreographers, puts out a few dance tutorials for a variety of skill levels so that the whole nation can learn the dances and do them in flash mobs on National Dance day. If you want to learn more, check out their website here.

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This dance, set to Party Rock Anthem, was the first one I learned for the 2011 National Dance day. It’s at the Master Class level, so it’s pretty advanced. Even though I remembered some of the moves I had a hard time keeping up when I was relearning it! I guess I should probably work out dance more :).

The thing I love about Tabitha and Napolean’s video is that they have a name for each set of steps so they are easy to remember. They also do a really good job of counting it out for people like me who need the counts. AND they teach in short spurts, vs. several 8 counts at a time. This video is mirrored, so you can just follow them how they are.

If you’re interested in watching dance tutorials, I would definitely recommend going back through the videos from the past few years! They have different instructors and dances each time. I really like this recent beginner level video from Twitch. And in case you want to catch the next National Dance day, it’s the last Saturday in July! See you next week for another update!

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5/17 Friday Favorites

Hey friends! Know what month it is?

may

Sorry, I had to. #JTforthewin

I have a great roundup for you this month, including a great gift for Mother’s Day! Enjoy!

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Burt’s Bees Coconut Lip Balm
Burt’s Bees has always been my favorite chapstick – I pretty much never go anywhere without it. So when I needed to spend a little extra to get my ULTA coupon, I grabbed this Coconut Pear lip balm. It’s perfect for summer and smells amazing! I put it on about 5,000 times a day because who wants dry lips, ya know what I mean?

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Greetabl

You know that rare instagram ad that’s just a gem instead of the usual annoying ads interrupting your feed? Greetabl was exactly that gem for me. I was looking for something cute to send my friend for her birthday and thought this was such a great idea. You choose a small gift, anything from confetti. to soap, to candles, to socks, pick a cute print for a box and three pictures to include, write a message, and ship it off! Since Mother’s Day is coming up, this is a unique and fun gift to send your mom if you don’t live nearby. They even have special packages for her! AND you can earn points with each box you send to get discounts. Definitely worth checking out!

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Mock Rock

Mock Rock is probably the #1 thing I miss about being in school. It’s a super intense lip syncing/dance competition that my university puts on every year and it fills the gym. People actually camp out in line the night before. I was in it all 4 years of school, in a different group each time. Each group practices for about 2-3 months to perform an 8 minute mini musical and it’s Biola’s best event! I was sad to miss it this year, but thankfully the full length videos are all up on the facebook page. Apex is the team that won this year, but I also think BroPoc had a great storyline and dance moves. If you want to be impressed at what some college kids can put on, check out the 6 videos on Biola Student Programming and Activities’s facebook page!

Photo Credit: Jason Lin/THE CHIMES

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Mark of the Lion Series

Francine Rivers is one of my all time favorite authors, and this series is one of my favorites! It’s set in Jerusalem 70 A.D. and weaves the story of a Jewish slave girl with an upperclass Roman family and even gladiators! Though the size of the book may seem daunting, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s the perfect series for long plane rides or road trips this summer!

Here’s a summary from Amazon covering the three books:

This classic series has inspired nearly two million readers.

#1 A Voice in the Wind: Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, a young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.

#2 An Echo in the Darkness: Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.

#3 As Sure As the Dawn: Atretes. German warrior. Revered gladiator. He won his freedom through his fierceness . . . but his life is about to change forever.

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12.1: Line Dancing

Hey friends! I don’t know about you, but I had a CRAZY busy weekend! I went from the beach to a serve day to coffee with a friend and then I had to nap to recuperate. But I ended the weekend line dancing for the first time for a friend’s birthday, and I legitimately thought to myself: “I think I’ve found my new hobby!” IT. WAS. SO. FUN.

Although we had to drive a ways to get to Montana’s, it was so worth it! There was about 15 of us that went, and most of them were line dancing pros! Thankfully there was another girl there that had never line danced before, so I wasn’t the only one. We watched for a few songs, then joined in behind our friends and tried to stay on top of it.

Here are a few things I loved about line dancing:

  • I knew all the songs we danced to
  • The dances are pretty repetitive, so it’s easier to pick up on
  • Everyone is very aware of the spacing around them so people aren’t bumping into each other
  • It’s just straight up a blast!

I danced from 9-12:30 and it was a workout – my legs are still sore days later! I had so much fun with my friends and I really hope to go line dancing again soon! Here are a few pictures – sorry they are blurry!

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They seriously had a saddle-shaped disco ball and I thought it was so funny so I had to take a picture.

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A picture of the gang! Shoutout to the birthday girl Alyssa for inviting me to come. I hope to go again soon!

If any of you are interested in learning how to line dance, you can practice at home before you go! Here are a few dances that would be great to start off with.

Footloose

Watermelon Crawl

Cowboy Hustle

Make sure you check back Friday for my Friday Favorites!

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MC 11.4: Wild Watercolor

Hey friends! I can’t believe it’s my last week of watercolor already! It sure flew by! This week I tried to be a little more loose and free with my watercolor, which is really hard for me. But I realized that the more I do watercolor, the more I’ll develop my own style and technique!

I did this very freehand peony watercolor from the Frugal Crafter’s tutorial here. I had a hard time getting the shadows on the petals right, but it was fun to try a different technique.

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After so many flowers, I decided to branch out and try something else, so I painted this hummingbird from another Frugal Crafter video. She has flowers in hers but mine didn’t turn out very good so you only get to see the hummingbird 🙂

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For my last painting, I wanted to do a little succulent garden with some depth to it. I found this tutorial and really liked how she had lots of different layers to the hen and chick.

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I hope you guys enjoyed my month of watercolor! I had lots of fun doing it and I hope to continue this summer. And now, for my final monthly challenge…

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I’m so excited to celebrate my last month with dance, one of my favorite hobbies! See you next week!

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FFF: Elbows Mac N’ Cheese

It’s my first Frugal Foodie Friends review! Be sure to check out Esther’s review too! If you missed it, here’s the post with our bucket list. And here is our list on Yelp if you want to check it out!

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Elbows Mac N’ CheeseBrea, CA
Instagram: @elbowsmacncheese

Arrived: 4:37 p.m.
Overall rating: 5
Ambiance: 4
Timeliness: 5
Service: 4.5
Quality of food: 5
Cost of meal: $14 each
Time spent: 1.5 hours

Although I had passed by Elbows many times on Brea’s main downtown strip, I had never stopped to try their mac n’ cheese. But I’m so glad we decided to make this our first stop! We arrived fairly early in the day, which was nice because the restaurant wasn’t crowded at all – only one of the 7 tables was occupied and there was plenty of counter space as well.

As soon as I walked in, I was delighted that although the place was small, it had a great ambiance. Brick walls, wooden tables, bright pillows, and lights with geometric wire balls around them made it feel modern and comfy.

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After taking a quick look at the menu, we decided to try one recommended mac n’ cheese dish from yelp and another that we hadn’t heard of. Thanks to Yelp, we got 10% off our order! We ordered at the cash register and less than five minutes after we sat down, both our appetizers were brought out. Our mac n’ cheese was brought about five minutes after that – I was impressed by the fast service!

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Vanilla Sweet Potato Fries – $4.95
I LOVE sweet potato fries, but I think I have to say these are my favorite. I could definitely taste the vanilla coating, which was a fun twist! They were also dashed with a little sugar and another spice with a bit of a kick – maybe chili powder. Either way, it was delicious! The fries came out steaming hot and there was plenty to share.

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Bruschetta – $4.95
I was expecting a small plate of bruschetta, but as you can see, this is a sizable appetizer! The ingredients were all very fresh and it tasted great. I liked that there was a good amount of cheese baked on. The only complaint I have is that the crostini wasn’t very sturdy, so the toppings fell off a few times because it folded. But other than that, it was a great dish.

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When Pigs Fly –  $8.65, regular size
Swiss, gruyere, and smoked applewood bacon are the delicious toppings for this mac n’ cheese. Several yelpers recommended this one, so we thought it would be a good one to try. I really liked the gruyere in this mac n’ cheese – it made the dish taste very smooth and almost sweet. There were some good chunks of bacon in it, but not overwhelming. Both Esther and I really liked the baked cheese on top!

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Fun Guy – $8.95, regular size
This fun combination had mushrooms, white truffle oil, and garlic – so fancy! This one was a little richer and saltier. I don’t get to eat mushrooms often since Matt doesn’t like them, so this was a treat for me! And the truffle oil was the perfect touch! Out of the two, I think this one was my favorite.

I would say we ate about 80% of the food between us and I’m glad that we shared all the dishes so we could eat a variety of things. The restaurant started getting a little busier around 5:15 or so, but we didn’t feel rushed to leave. We stayed until around 6:15 when it was getting really crowded.

I really enjoyed our time at elbows and hope to visit again soon! I hope you enjoyed our first Frugal Foodie Friends, and don’t forget to check out Esther’s review! See you next month!

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MC 11.3: (Water)color me an artist!

Hey friends! This week I had more time to watercolor since I had Good Friday off, and I really enjoyed challenging myself to do some more substantial projects. Watercolor is so relaxing, if you’re looking for a new hobby I would definitely recommend it!

The first thing I did this last week was watch Jess Park’s 3rd watercolor class – Painting Botanicals. Jess did a great job in quickly demonstrating how to do a variety of leaves, flowers, and cacti. It was a fun project! Here are the instructions if you’re interested.

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Of all the things I wanted to try in watercolor, I really wanted to learn how to do wreaths. I LOVED this tutorial by Shayda Campbell. She broke it down into simple steps and encouraged her viewers to not worry about it being perfect. Being a perfectionist, that is hard for me to do, but I’m learning it’s hard to be a perfectionist in watercolor! I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I’m excited to do some more wreaths.

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One of my favorite projects this week was making cute little watercolor cards with tutorials from K Werner Design! I made a fun flower watercolor card for a friend at work, and another birthday cake card in honor of my friend Sav who is turning 25 this week! They both were so simple but turned out so cute – I may never buy cards again!

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Lastly, I tried another Jay Lee flower tutorial. I’m finding watercolor is getting a little easier and I care a little bit less about it being perfect every time I do it! I don’t love the flowers on this one, but I do really like the variety of leaves!

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That’s all for watercolor this week, but make sure you check back later this week for my first Frugal Foodie Friends review! If you missed the announcement, read all about it on this post. Have a great week!

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Introducing… Frugal Foodie Friends!

Friends, I’m so excited to announce a new monthly segment I’ll be doing with my coworker and friend, Esther, from Paul’s Kitchen: Frugal Foodie Friends!fff headerEsther has recently started doing a food and travel blog on Chef Paul’s website, and we thought it would be so fun to link up and do a segment for both of our blogs – that way our readers can get two perspectives! We’ve been working hard for the past few weeks and are so excited to share a little bit about our new segment.

What is Frugal Foodie Friends?

We’re calling ourselves the Frugal Foodie Friends because we both love good food, but like most people (especially in the 20s like we are), we are ballin’ a budget!

Each month, we will visit a place in the LA/OC area and spend $30 or less on our meal. We’ll review each place we visit and score it based on a few factors, like ambiance, service, quality of food, and some other things. We aren’t experienced food critics by any means, but like most people just want to find great food that won’t break the bank. And hopefully in reading our thoughts on each place, you can know what to try (or not to try) in the LA and OC area, or are inspired to do go on some food-ventures yourself!

Why I’m excited for the Frugal Foodie Friends segment

I’m so excited to branch out and try new food places near me – I LOVE going to new places to eat! Yelp is my best friend when trying to find new places, and most of the time it hasn’t steered me wrong. I usually go out to eat with my wonderful hubby to eat, but we usually stick to a few places that we know and trust. So I’m excited to branch out and do some exploring with Esther!

What place I’m most excited to try

I’m excited to go to Amaya, which is an Indian restaurant in Buena Park. I’ve driven by it many times on the way to Knott’s Berry Farm and always thought to myself that it looks like a really fun place to go. Some of Esther’s and my coworkers recommended it as well, so I have some pretty high expectations for this place!

To see Esther’s thoughts about Frugal Foodie Friends and check out her blog, click here!

And now, here is our Frugal Foodie Friends bucket list!!! If you want to follow along, here’s our list on Yelp, too.

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  1. Elbows Mac and Cheese, Brea
  2. Les Amis, Fullerton
  3. Amaya, Buena Park
  4. Kettle Black, LA
  5. Pita Hot, Fullerton
  6. Phlight, Whittier
  7. Hidden House Coffee Roasters, Santa Ana
  8. Cauldron, Santa Ana
  9. Federal Bar, Long Beach
  10. Gjelina Brunch, Venice
  11. Brussel’s Bistro, Laguna
  12. Slapfish, Brea
  13. Playground, Santa Ana
  14. Mama D’s, Newport Beach
  15. Lock and Key Social Drinkery, Downey
  16. Thai Basil, Fullerton
  17. Mendacino Farms, Brea
  18. Milk and Honey, Costa Mesa
  19. Sqirl, LA
  20. Snooze AM, Tustin
  21. Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen, Orange
  22. Union Market, Tustin
  23. Wurstkucke/Pie Hole/Amazebowls, LA
  24. Fourth Street Market, Santa Ana
  25. El Mercado, Santa Ana

I hope you guys are as excited as I am! We’ll be releasing our first review on Thursday, so be sure to check back then! Have a great week!

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