Guilt Free Bakery

Let me introduce you to a sweet baker friend of mine! Her name is Lisa. She went to FIT to study fashion, and switched tracks when she decided that baking is her passion. While her peers stayed up with their design projects, she truly felt alive when she baked the night away. Her bakery is called Guilt Free Bakery. Gluten-free and vegan products are fairly new "Western" trends in South Korea, so her goods made without white flour, sugar, butter, diary, egg, and preservatives are pioneers in the food industry.

1. Gluten-free classic choco-chip cookies made w/ chickpea flour
2. Whole-wheat banana cupcakes w/ vanilla frosting
3. Brown rice fudge brownies   
4. Gluten-free plain & deep chocolate cake donuts made w/ chickpea flour   
5. Blueberry cake & earl grey muffins (my faves!)

We met in a formal business setting, but quickly became friends when we connected through our similar interests and passions. During the two days I spent time with her, I discovered that:

- We were born on the same year, and our birthdays are only two days apart
- We both wanted to be a fashion designer when we were little
- We bonded over our love for healthy food. We both love Native Foods in California. Hence our first meal together was at a quaint vegan place called Plant in Itaewon #datveganlife #ilovemeattoo
- Lisa's sister and I both went to UCLA (Go Bruins!)
- We are both on a journey of learning what it means to unveil Beauty in spirit and in truth

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Check out her bakery if you are in Korea! It's currently located in Hwasung, which is about an hour away from Seoul. She hopes to expand into Seoul in the near future. For now, she's holding a pop-up shop at Toss & Turn, an American-style resturant in Itaewon from Halloween through the month of November. Come by for a meal and grab some of her guilt-free, delicious goods for dessert!

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Autumn Sparks

Elongated periods without creative production are unsettling and uncomfortable to a creative doer. The pressure to create heats up until it encounters a moment of inspiration - and explodes into a tangible expression. The lack of creative production is not equivalent to the lack of creativity itself. My production process usually involves a period of documentation and reflection. Words and images accumulate in the private space. Perseverance crawls through the trenches against the counteracting impulses of impatience. By the time you arrive in front of the door of Possibility, you realize that the key to unlock yourself into the unexplored space is your resolve to remain steady despite opposition. Along the journey, the imagined materials and forms you started off with takes shape into a key that fits right in the lock. When you open the door, the fire meets oil - and you are off to a new journey to transfer the private gatherings into the public space.

I'm at the brink of stepping into the new door. I've been off the production grill due to life transitions and self reflections. As I let life unfold itself, September flew by and I'm already at the end of October. As I leave behind summer jitters and pack away summer dresses, I welcome a new season of creation and production. My recent move to Philadelphia and trip to Korea ignited the internal hums of creativity back to life. The engine is on, the oil tank is full, and the car is ready to zoom its way towards the end of 2015. 

Here are some inspiration to spark you alive in the midst of pumpkin lattes, autumn leaves, and denim jackets!

Fashion 

The Whitepepper Autumn '15 Collection "Sunday Morning"

When I first discovered The Whitepepper, a UK-based womenswear brand, my heart jumped for joy. Their collections and social media content exude a quirky energy full of colors and prints. I've been in love since Day 1. I recently found out that they did a photoshoot in Korea and I couldn't contain my excitement. The photos released two days ago - and as always, they did not disappoint. I'm digging the Faces dresses, but they are sadly sold out. Whether you purchase or not, the girly flairs and fun prints adorned by the cute Korean model will inspire all fashion loving gals out there.   

Film

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I watched this film during my 14-hour flight from Korea to New York. I planned to journal and sleep, but when I saw the film poster, I couldn't resist the temptation. By the end of the film, I had gone through intense, tender, inspirational moments all at once - but felt so calm and peaceful. I sat through the credits because the background music was so beautiful. 

The movie is about a high schooler who makes parody films with his friend - while trying to find a place in the midst of craziness that is high school. His life transforms when he meets Rachel, a classmate who's been diagnosed with cancer. It's an Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind (an all-time favorite!) meets The Fault in Our Stars with a deep message about friendship and creativity. It will warm your heart and inspire you to create through "quirks" unique to you!

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Food

Juice Bars

I had easy access to acai bowls and cold pressed juices while going to college in LA. These food options are rare in Philly, so I wanted to take advantage of the trending "healthy" culture in Korea during my visit. I met the owner of Mercy Juice, a thriving juice bar in Seoul, and did a 3-day juice detox (blog coming soon!). I also visited Bad Farmers in Garosugil and I Mean Juice in Itaewon (pictured). I'm glad I got my long-missed juice fix during my visit! 

Art

Figless

I have been following Hosanna Poetry for awhile now. I'm inspired by her artistry of words and message of love and freedom. Her new album Figless is about a living a life set free from masks, lies, and shame from encountering the one and only Truth. Check out her new album here!

Music

IU 

IU is the only K-pop star I could listen to all day long. This 23-year-old singer has made a phenomenon of herself in the K-pop industry with her killer voice, unique style and songwriting skills that speaks louder than her cute face. Some even say her music is her own genre. I find her music so encouraging because she is loved for her individuality in a nation that's grown comfortable with conformity. 

Her new album CHAT-SHIRE packages her signature quirks with fantastical inspiration from tales like Alice In Wonderland and My Sweet Orange Tree. Her songs take you on a sweet ride through intricate melodies and words that create an immediate visual of her own little world. I admire her artistic sensibility and dedication to her unique craft. Watch her new music video "Twenty-Three" here

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Life

Guilt Free Bakery

My biggest inspiration? Doers who don't sit around in daydreams, but pull up their sleeves to make their dreams happen. I met Lisa in Korea. While studying fashion, she realized that baking is her true passion and opened a bakery. I was so inspired by her work and am thankful to have met a friend like her. I'm writing a blog about her bakery soon. Stay tuned! 

An Ode to K-Beauty

"Cleanse, tone, moisturize...Repeat.

The skincare mantra widely used by girls and women of America. 
The three-step process tested and approved by skincare experts for decades.

During my teen years, I adopted theses steps into my routine, as well as weekly exfoliators and face masks. The major players of my beauty collection were from drugstores, with the exception of occasional splurge in back-then beauty hub of wonder, Sephora. I recall the glee when I purchased my first Purity Made Simple cleanser. I proudly grabbed the 16oz bottle and milked that thing for months. 

While I sometimes abandoned weekly "luxury" treatments from laziness, I remained faithful to the three-step routine for years. Then, during my visit to Korea last summer, the growing empire of K-Beauty flipped my world upside down - and my beauty routine has never been the same. 

Long before my visit, I had access to K-Beauty products through relatives who brought back five-step skincare sets from recent trips. The problem was my naivety that gladly abandoned its tediousness to the good old three-step skincare. I thought, "why use an essence (Korean toner) AND emulsion (Korean lotion) AND cream when I can just slap on do-it-all lotion?!". Blasphemy. 

In recent years, K-Beauty inventions like BB and CC creams rose to fame in American beauty circles. The once exotic beauty experiments from Asia quickly became the most-coveted beauty trend. Makeup brands produced imitation products left and right while mainstream brands like Sephora and Urban Outfitters endorsed and sold K-Beauty items. 

I knew Korean beauty lingos and tried few essences and BB creams. I thought I was somewhat familiar with K-Beauty, but my first-hand experience in Korea presented a whole new world to me: 

Beauty stores, known as "road shops", line up in every main and local street corner - as accessible as Starbucks or 7-Eleven in the States. The overly friendly and enthusiastic saleswoman who knows exactly the cure to your skin problems. In her hand, the golden solution to your skin, among an overwhelming collection of products of various names and colors with functions for just about every skin need. A handful of skincare and makeup samples stuffed in the bag with your purchases. Echoing reminders about membership deals and discounts on your way out. Advertisements on subway stations, grocery markets, fliers and TV screens enticing your wallets open to get your hands on the newest product endorsed by an A-list celebrity...  

I returned home, overwhelmed and enlightened, with a suitcase full of K-Beauty products. South Korea proved worthy of the buzz in the beauty department - and drastically changed my perspective on beauty. As K-Beauty continue to climb the ladders of the international beauty scene, I don't doubt it will quickly alongside the thriving global markets of music and technology in Korea.

Stay tuned for posts covering K-beauty tips and products!