Do You Believe In Miracles?

Before I had children, I was never diligent in attending Church nor showing any interest in anything religious. I was always a believer in Christ. I never faltered in my belief but I was never-in-your-face-lets-tell-the-whole-world-about-it either. Funny how much having kids changes you. The one thing that I always wanted to do when i had kids was to teach them about God. Despite my faults, flaws and lack of desire to attend church, I made it a priority to take them to Sunday school every week. That is where they can learn that if mommy and daddy are not around, God is there to protect them. If they are scared, they can pray to God. If they feel helpless and alone, they can rely on God. If nothing else, I wanted them to believe in the real God and that they have nothing to fear. The world is a scary place and as my children continue to grow, I can only shelter them for so long…

I don’t normally share intimate details of my life but what happened today was so mind-blowing, i needed to blog about it.

Today was like any other morning except that i was sick as a dog but still had to tend to my two energetic little runts. I had to sum up every molecule of energy in me to get up and proceed with the day. As I glance around the house, there are toys sprawled out in the living room, dirty dishes left in the sink and last nights dinner left crusted on the kitchen floor. Despite the lack of energy, I took the kids out of the house and headed straight to the playground stopping to get a coffee to go. After letting them play for about an hour or so, it was time to go back home for lunch. Suddenly Aly (my first born) rushes over and exclaims, “Mommy, where is my small blanket?!” I check the stroller to see if she left it there and I don’t see anything. I ask her if she brought it with her and she nods her head fiercely. I tell her its not in the stroller and at that moment she goes into panic mode. Perhaps I shouldn’t have criticized her at that time by telling her its her fault for bringing something so valuable out to the public and that is just a good lesson that she learned. After all she is only 3 and her whole world just collapsed because she lost her beloved small blanky. But I was just too tired, too sick and too cranky as I was also trying to strap her screaming one year old sister back in the stroller to journey back home.  “Thats too bad Aly, lets go home” I told her. My three year old broke down in tears. Sobbing. I immediately felt terrible. After all, she’s had that blanky since she was born and although it might not be a good thing for kids to be attached to an object, it wasn’t the time to justify or explain such things to her. I picked her up and and said, “Aly, do you want to pray to God to help you find your blanky?” She nodded with tears still dripping down her face. I asked her to repeat the following,

“Dear God,

Please help me find my small blanky. I love it so much. I am sad I lost it. Please help me. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen”.

I could see her desperately muttering out the prayer. I felt a twinge of regret praying about it because after all, how on earth am I going to find it?? (Yes, ME. I didn’t actually think God would find this blanket that could have fallen anywhere in the street) In addition, the little faith that I built for her wrapped pretty in a box might be shattered once she realizes God can’t find her blanket.

Once we got home, I put the kids in the living room and proceeded to cook lunch.

“Mommy!” Aly shouts. “Wheres God?”

That threw me off as I had forgotten about our little prayer.

“Oh, are you still looking for your blanky?”

“Yes, Mommy. Blanky not here. God is not here.”

A wave of sadness overcame me as I tried to explain to Aly that maybe she has to say goodbye to her blanky.

“You said God will find it for me” she said.

Err i did… didn’t I. Crap. What do I do.

At this moment, I thought to myself, I have no faith. At all. And I am trying to teach my daughter to have faith when even I don’t believe it.

Now this sounds really crazy, but a voice maybe my conscience or my train of thought says, “Have a little bit of faith. Don’t be skeptical and call the coffee shop”. It was so ridiculous but I called the coffee shop thinking of course they won’t have it but whatever I’ll just call anyway.

“Hello, umm so sorry to ask you a random question, but do you happen to have an old looking kids blanket……”

The lady cut me off and said, “with stars on it and its white?”

OH MY GOOSEBERRYMOTHAF***ing GUMDROPS.

“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. “Yes, yes, yes that one!!!”

I can’t believe it. Honestly, you can’t make this sh*t up. I found Alys blanky… no, God really did find my daughters blanket. It could have been anywhere lost forever but we found it. I arranged to come and pick it up and thanked them for holding on to it.

I quietly went to Aly and said, “Aly if you pray again one more time and ask God, maybe he will find the blanky for you!”

Anyway, and the rest is history…

Life can get so overwhelming sometimes, but when little things like this happen, it makes you want to cast all your sorrows, stresses and burdens to God and let him take care of it. Its not, “Have Faith Little One,” This time its, “Mommy, Have Faith”

Thanks for reading,

Esther

Family Day: Summer 2017

Slowly turning into a fob…

You know its been a long time since you last blogged when you don’t remember how to log into your own blogging platform. –.–

Somewhere along the way, i kind of stopped blogging as it was too much effort to try and produce a clean, well written post that was somewhat interesting, humorous and informative. I forgot the reason i started this blog was to just write whatever thoughts popped in my head.. an avenue to vent and share the ups and downs of my life. Writing for me, not for you.

A lot has changed in my life since i started this blog… wow.. 3 years coming up! Happy 3 year thatkimchilife! Time sure does fly… somewhere along the way, i popped two kids, switched careers, started an online business but had to put it on hold to pursue a bigger dream which i can happily say that i have achieved…something I had wanted to do when I was 18 but instead had to go get a degree (which i don’t regret). Funny how life works out. I don’t believe in luck as I believe things and opportunities are placed in your life within God’s timing. I am not lucky. I am blessed and humbled and excited to see where this new opportunity will take us.

As both kids get older, i find that it is getting easier to do more activities with them. Last week, we decided to take them for a bike ride around the seawall. At that time, I thought it was such a brilliant idea! It was a nice sunny day, we live in a beautiful city, and the kids were old enough to sit on bike chairs. Expectation: We each take one kid and enjoy the beautiful water view with the kids as the wind caresses our faces pedaling down the seawall. Reality: We forgot how physically demanding it was  especially with the weight of the kids on each bike. I don’t know about my hubby but I had toddler Z strapped in the front of my bike and all i could think of was trying not fall with her. Forget enjoying the view! My eyes were glued to the road, sweat dripping down my back with my hands grasping firmly on the steering wheel thinking are we almost back to the bike shop?? At one point, I lost control and Z and I plunged down the hill before I stepped on the brakes and saved my child but not myself. I was a bit scraped up and bruised but Z was ok and thats all that mattered. SO, the brilliant idea i had of having a nice family bike ride along the seawall was an epic fail. Perhaps it was because i haven’t ridden a bike in years or having Z strapped in the front threw off the balance but despite it being an unpleasant experience for me, the hubby and the kids seemed to have enjoyed it so i think it was actually a success! My family comes first before my own happiness. Because when they are happy, I am happy. I guess thats what being a mom is…

The Life And Times Of A Stay At Home Mom

My youngest is turning one so we celebrated in style!

They say it would get easier. They say you are lucky to be a stay at home mom. Well, it hasn’t gotten easier and although I am lucky to be able to stay at home to watch my own kids, I also feel like I am slowly losing myself – my personality, my identity and my sanity. At least, when I went back to work after my firstborn, I had “ME” time, was a lot more productive, and could actually drink a cup of coffee in peace. I made myself coffee at 6:30 am this morning and after reheating it three times, I am now drinking it at 2:00 pm while writing my thoughts down on this blog. Sometimes, I don’t get the chance to drink it until 9:00 pm, when both kids are finally in bed at the end of the day. But that also is rare, as my oldest daughter has a tendency to stay up until 11:00 pm. My youngest is way passed the newborn stage but she is still getting up every 3 hours after midnight to feed and wakes up bright and early at 6:00 am on the dot. Every. Single. Day. All the degrees, diplomas and experiences you’ve built for your resume is totally irrelevant now. At least not right now. Because once you become a mother, the only thing important in your life is the well being of your children and your family.

I haven’t blogged in a while as it takes a lot of time, thought and effort. Today, I am blogging, but i am also venting. I need an outlet to release my stress and frustration and putting aside the logistics of how topics, sentences and grammar should be arranged, the following will just be a series of random thoughts that I want to bring to life in writing.

It is rare that I get to enjoy a cup of coffee in silence ever because if one kid is napping, the other is usually up screaming for my attention or destroying the living room with toys that i just finished putting away. Having one kid is hard, but two, especially so close in age… I went into depression. It comes and goes but taking care of them with NO help has not been easy. My heart truly goes out to the mom who lost her life battling PPD. 🙁 This is temporary but how much i understand you…  On a positive note, two really is better than one. As they get older, watching them interact with each other solidifies my decision of wanting more than one child. They are so adorable together!! Having a sister is so great! And… it ends at two. 😛 (sorry hubby, unless YOU want to give birth and breastfeed another kid).

Pinky and the brain
storytime

Having children definitely changes your life. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with two bundles of joy but it has been a struggle holding onto my sanity each day. What is often displayed in social media never depicts the actual life of the individual. Deceiving, yet so addictive.

I do have dreams. I have goals, but trying to achieve them with a baby and a toddler is so hard. I don’t know how these mompreneurs do it! Its challenging as it is trying to keep the house clean (because i cant relax if the house looks like its been hit by a hurricane, hence i am always tense), cook meals to try and save some money (that never works out and we often end up eating take out), trying to stimulate my two kids by taking them to different activities throughout the day (swimming, gymnastics, art class, etc…), trying to revive my social life by making an effort to be thoughtful (which i always fail because i am so forgetful and trying to reach out to any friends that i have left is too much effort as i am exhausted and just want to sleep), making an effort to go to mom groups but the thought of trekking out with these two in the snow is so dreadful (because husband is usually working), hoping to get back to the gym (I have yet to step foot into one) and the list goes on…

*Tiptoeing to the kids room to check on them*

Both sleeping like angels! Oh, how I love them so. I honestly cant imagine my life without them. They are truly a gift from God as i know in this day and age, there are many who try to have children and are not able to.

making snow angels
dinosaur, dwarf and that star wars robot thing

So, I just realized I sound bipolar. I am not bipolar but kids do that to you.. One day, you just want to throw this mom thing out the window and call it quits and the next, you cant live without your kids because they are the cutest, sweetest, little humans alive. There are also days when I am convinced that taking care of yourself comes first so i push my husband to go training, I push myself to work out, we pump ourselves, saying we are gonna build an empire and then comes two little people crawling and running to you that needs their diaper changed, need to be fed, need to be entertained, need to create lasting memories, and out goes that empire… for the time being.

finally she has her own play makeup instead of wrecking mine.. lol
She now wants everything her sister touches..

*And one is up now… until my next rant*

-ThatKimchiLife

Korean Beauty Trend: 3D Eyebrow Tattoo

hyoyeun

From BB Creams to Lip Tints, South Korea is undoubtedly the leading trend setter when it comes to beauty. What was once the rage in Korea often doesn’t trickle to the North American market until years later. Such is the case with a recent beauty craze known as Microblading. What is a common semi-permanent cosmetic procedure in Korea has recently emerged as the latest fad in North America. Also identified as Korean 3D Eyebrow Tattoo or Eyebrow Embroidery, Microblading is a tattoo technique that mimics eyebrow hairs by using a row of fine needles to fill in your missing brows. The illusion of fine hair strands leaves the brows looking natural and full lasting up to two years.

My brows before and after...wow, what a difference!
My brows before and after…wow, what a difference!

Due to its low maintenance and natural look, Microblading has been a popular choice for many Koreans, including Kpop stars like Girls Generation’s, Hyo Yeon & Tae Yeon. In a bali bali (hurry hurry) culture, it is definitely one less thing to worry about when getting ready in the morning!

taeyeon
kdramastars.com
hyoyeon-eyebrows-snsd
photo credit: kpopmap.com

I have to admit that I was quite skeptical at first after hearing horror stories on sharpie looking eyebrow tattoos gone bad but after seeing my sister’s perfectly symmetrical eyebrows done, I had to give it a try! Since flying to Korea wasn’t really an option nor was it within my budget, I set up an appointment with Michelle at Meraki Brow Bar in Vancouver, BC. After seeing her work on instagram and hearing great reviews from her past clients (including my sister), I decided to fully entrust her with my eyebrows.

Not only was Michelle a professional but she was extremely patient and meticulous, erasing, measuring and drawing my brows until I was 100 percent satisfied with the shape before etching semi-permanent ink on them. In the 2.5 hour session, most of the time was spent on perfecting my brows while the application of ink itself only took about 20 minutes.

mybrows
#wokeuplikethis…. literally!

The result was incredible. Not only did my eyebrows look full and on point but they looked very natural! I had been living under a rock all these years. Why did I not discover this earlier? It would have saved me a lot of time and money spent on quick brow fixes. I used to often wear baseball hats to hide my unkempt barely there eyebrows from the public but after having them filled, I can confidently walk out makeup free! For a busy mama with two small kids, this has been life changing.

Like what you see? Check out Michelle at Meraki Brow Bar and get $50 off your first Microblading session by referencing Esther from ThatKimchiLife! Your welcome. 🙂 (Please note that the discount is only applicable to the first 10 clients booked).

Meraki Brow Bar

Website: www.merakibrowbar.com

Email: merakibrowbar@gmail.com

Contact: 778.288.2686

Resources:

https://www.dramafever.com/news/the-power-of-eyebrow-tatoos

/http://www.instyle.com/news/what-is-eyebrow-microblading-guide-facts

Things to Do in Seoul: A Brow-Baring Post! (Eyebrow Tattoo) Updated 2016.09

How To Make Korean Side Dishes

banchan

Growing up in a Korean household, I never went hungry. There was always some kind of banchan (side dishes) and bab (rice) in the fridge. Some days we would find an assortment of banchan’s that included my favourite, Jangjorim – braised beef soaked in sweet & salty soy sauce and other days it was just kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage) and kim (roasted seaweed). As long as there was fresh cooked rice available, the banchans were in the fridge for us to whip out whenever we were hungry. The rice cooker was always on as we had rice with our meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Find it odd to have rice and side dishes for breakfast? In Korea, this is the norm as Koreans like to have a hearty breakfast with their rice, soup and side dishes. Apparently having a cup of coffee and a donut is not as satisfying. Despite growing up abroad, my parents were very traditional and raised us very Korean. (Later on, they loosened up a bit but by then I was over 21!) This meant sending us to the dreaded Korean school every Saturday morning, stressing the importance of the mother tongue and banned the use of English at home. Now that I am older  and “wiser”, I am so grateful that they “forced” us to go. Although my Korean is not perfect, I appreciate that i can somewhat understand, read and write my language. Funny how i am applying the same principle to my kids now. When they are old enough, straight to Korean school they will go! (They will hate me for it, but Im sure they will thank me later as i did with my parents…hehe). Anyway, I wanted to start practicing my banchan skills so that later on my kids (including my husband, the other kid), can also grab banchan from the fridge and feed themselves when they can’t wait for meal times. Less work for this mom, yay!

Unfortunately, my mom is continents away to physically teach me so i had to katalk (korean messenger) to get her recipe instructions as well as google some resources to assist me in this challenge. My moms recipe was catered more for toddler/baby taste buds hence omitting a lot of the msg, sugar, etc.. Since the side dishes will be eaten by myself and hubs and i wanted more flavour, I looked into other cooking websites. There were several that i checked out but I liked the layout and detail oriented instructions at crazykoreancooking the most. You can check out their website here – http://crazykoreancooking.com as I used them for reference.

b15
Keeping her occupied as i cook in peace

Initially, i wanted to make four to five banchans but after cooking up a storm all day, i only produced three. The most time consuming dish was the jangjorim. This seriously took all day just to make one lb of beef flank that will probably be gobbled up by my husband in 15 minutes. —.—; At least it was well appreciated. 🙂

b3
Jangjorim

I wont go into too much detail on the recipe and instructions of how to make the three banchans as you can refer to http://crazykoreancooking.com for a step by step breakdown. I must say that I really applaud recipe bloggers! Not only do you have to cook the food that you are blogging about but you have to take pictures of everything – from the ingredients to the step by step process and after you’ve finished cooking, cleaning and placing your dish to look visually appealing, you have to write about the whole process and finally edit your draft! That is a LOT of work. I couldn’t even blog about the banchans i made the day of as i was too exhausted from cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids! Anyway, this is my first attempt at trying these recipes and i am proud to say that they all turned out quite good! Eh-hem, superstar housewife right here. ^.^ (Thank you to my mom and crazykoreancooking for the help as well!)

So the first banchan i made is called Jangjorim – braised beef boiled in sweet & salty soy sauce. My favourite and a popular side dish for many koreans as we love our meat! If you find this side dish at a Korean restaurant then you’ve hit the Lotto because most restaurants don’t usually offer it as it is very time consuming to make.

I bought beef flank for this but you can also use beef brisket. I soaked it in water for about 5 minutes to get some of the red blood out but you can leave it in for longer if you want to completely strip the blood out.

b18

Then i combined green onion, onion, radish, garlic, mirin and beef in a pot of water bringing it to a full boil for about 30 minutes.

b17

In another pot, i combined soy sauce, brown sugar, green chili and garlic and added about 5 cups of the broth from the other pot. Dump the beef in the soy sauce pot and boil in low heat for another 30 minutes.

b14

You can also separately hard boil some eggs and add it to sauce. Shred the beef in small strips and add it back to the sauce. I let the peeled eggs and beef sit in the sauce until it has cooled down.

b9

Tada ~ Your finally product! I put it in a jar and sealed it so i can store it in my fridge for about a week (Either the jar is too big or i should have bought two lbs instead of one).

b2

For more details, you can find the full recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/braised-beef-jangjorim.

The next banchan i made is called Myulchi Bbokgeum (anchovy stirfry). You will often find this side dish at most Korean restaurants as it is easy and quick to make and rich in calcium. I bought the “jan” myulchi which are tiny anchovies as it is easier for my toddler to eat. You can find the recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/panfried-anchovies.

b10
finished product!

The last banchan i made is called Gajinamul (steamed eggplant) but i improvised and added cauldiflower for more veggie options so that i can feed my toddler more vegetables in her diet. You can find the recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/eggplant-gaji-namul.

banchan
This is just side dishes…Now, off to cook the main dish! >.<

Making these banchan’s was a lot of work! I don’t know how Korean moms do it. It is definitely easier to just buy premade banchans from Korean grocery stores such as Hmart but having tasted the difference between homemade and store bought, homemade is definitely a lot fresher and you can make more to store away so give it a try! Thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Ess.

 

Let Me Take A Selca: Korean Selfie 101

selfieBefore the birth of Selfies, there was Selcas.

Selca is the Korean term for selfie, a shortened version of two words – self & camera – combined together. Similar to the definition of a selfie, it also means to take one’s photo with the intention of posting it on social media. If there is one thing Koreans are extremely good at, it is taking a hellavu great Selca.

puffy1
photo credit: weheartit.com
harrypotter
photo credit: weheartit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selfies might be a recent global phenomenon that has currently overtaken social media but in Korea, it is a past fad that has been perfected with years of practice. Korea’s obsession with selca’s long started before the birth of Instagram or Facebook, using platforms such as Cyworld (a Korean social networking service) from back in the early 2000’s to showcase one’s face. The practice of displaying one’s selfie for public viewing quickly led to what Koreans have termed an “ulzzang” culture. The word Ulzzang literally translates to “best face”. Basically, individuals would post their selfie on ulzzang communities such as Ulzzang Zone (a popular online forum) for ratings and popularity polls. It is said that some even get scouted to become celebrities in the Korean entertainment industry. It’s no wonder the whole nation is trigger happy.

ulzzangg
photo credit: http://leejooyeon.tumblr.com

In Korea, it is not uncommon to see people at public places snapping away in varying angles for a ridiculous amount of time for the perfect selfie. In fact, it is completely the norm and the public is unfazed by what to me seems quite odd and somewhat ego-centric behavior. Similar to how girls will whip out their mirrors in public, be it at a coffee shop or a bus station and spend hours just staring at their face – a culture shock to me as i was not raised in Korea. But as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”; so when in Korea, do as the Koreans do and unabashedly take that selfie until you get it right! Ain’t nobody judging!

Presenting 7 types of poses that Koreans love to snap for the ultimate selca!

1.The Victory Sign Selca: The infamous V sign is a staple when it comes to taking selcas. As soon as a camera is in sight, whipping out the V is automatic like its second nature.

v
Peace!

However, recently it seems they’ve upgraded the V sign and switched it to a heart sign. This hand motion is created by pinching your thumb and index finger together and pivoting the two slightly to form a heart shape as shown below. Apparently its the current rage in Korea!

hearts
I heart You!

2. The Puffy Face Selca: The idea of this is to look cute by puffing out your cheeks and enlarging your eyes kind of like a blowfish but its supposed to make you look adorable. This takes some serious skills. Try puffing your face, smiling and at the same time puckering your lips a little? Took a while to get this one down as I kept laughing at how ridiculous I looked.

puffyface

3. The Pouty Selca: This ones a little tricky and if you don’t do it right you end up looking like a retarded duck. To get that cute pouty look, try saying the word “Blue”. The formation of the word will slightly protrude your bottom lip giving you that desired pout.

pout
I suck at pouting. #selfiefail

4. The Glasses Selca: A selca collection is never complete without a picture with glasses. A trend often set by kpop stars, glasses are worn as an accessory rather than for its aid in vision. Therefore, before you start grabbing your reading/night glasses or whatever’s laying around the house, keep in mind what is trending at the moment. Currently, the craze in Korea are the Harry Potter looking glasses.

glasses
These are not Harry Potter Glasses, but close enough..

5. The Ugly Selca: Yes, you read that correctly, the ugly selfie. Koreans will purposely post ugly selfies just to get a reaction. Even the prettiest girls will post hideous selfies of themselves just for fun. So, i tried too. My favourite part of the selfie series! 😛 Flattering much?

ugly1
well, how YOU doing?

6. The Face-Half-Cut-Off Selca: I never quite understood this one. What is the point of taking a selfie if half your face is gone? Apparently, its supposed to look like art. Either that or its supposed to highlight a facial feature one feels most confident in, be it your forehead, lips or your right eye. My sister actually likes to take these types of selcas, but then again she is an extremely talented artisteI

halfface
Do I look artsy?

7. The Wink Selca – This one is probably universally used and not limited to just a Korean thing. You simply just wink, hold the pose and snap! Wink selfies are fun to take as it shows a playful and upbeat side of the individual.

wink

Now that we’ve established the various poses, the next step is to filter filter filter! Ulzzang fanatics swear by it. Filters will either make or break your selca. There are many filter apps that you can download to apply to your picture but the one that i am most familiar with and use besides instagram is called BeautyPlus. The filter i used for the selfies above were from snapchat. Hence, the flawless complexion. No, my skin is not that great, in fact its pretty terrible so i cheated. 😛 For more filter options, you can also check out the following link, http://www.soompi.com/2016/06/21/8-selfie-apps-thats-got-korea-hooked/.

So there it is, I welcome you to the world of Selcas. If you are a selfie virgin, I hope that this will be a good intro and if you are a selfie pro, feel free to comment and let me know what other poses i’ve missed. Happy Snapping!

Cheers,

Esther

www.thatkimchilife.com

Resources:

https://sokoglam.com/blogs/news/14438997-seoul-style-the-art-of-the-korean-selfie-meet-the-selca

http://jmsupercuteinkorea.blogspot.ca/2011/07/culture-101-selca_1603.html

http://www.poproks.com/culture/samsungs-new-selfie-camera-fueling-koreas-obsession-with-selcas

 

 

DIY Cooking: Miyeuk Guk (Seaweed Soup)

seaweed
Korean Seaweed Soup

Im back!

Wow, its been almost a year since my last blog post. How time flies… so much for keeping up with writing after starting work. I don’t know how other mommy bloggers do it. Juggling work, household chores, a toddler, and a social life (that i barely have); trying to squeeze a blog post has been challenging. Much respect to consistent bloggers. Anyway, a lot has happened since last April and I’m happy to announce that i welcomed another healthy little princess 2 weeks ago! I now have two beautiful little girls that will be best friends for life! I’ve always wanted my daughter to have a sister since i grew up with 3 sisters and I’m happy that my wish has come true because girls really do have more fun!

At 27 weeks i think...
At 27 weeks i think…
37 weeks
taken at 37 weeks and a few days before i went into labour.

So I’m back into the blogging world since i will be on maternity leave for another year! (I love Canada). Its not easy with a newborn and a toddler but I’m hoping to share my experiences and everything in between here at thatkimchilife.com.

After the birth of my second daughter, all i’ve been eating is seaweed soup with brown rice. Not only is it nutritious for the body but quick and easy to make. In Korea, Seaweed soup is a must have for new mothers to help with postpartum recovery. The seaweed is high in Iodine and Calcium and helps detoxify and purify the blood. I personally like the flavour of seaweed soup and with the cold rainy season, its been my go to comfort food. Perhaps it has helped rejuvenate my body as I am not as tired as i was with my first child. Mind you, i still don’t get enough sleep but my milk supply has increased tremendously (they say seaweed soup also helps increase breastmilk supply). I should be happy that i am able to feed my kid breastmilk but oh dear lord, i am constantly dripping with milk (not a sexy picture i know). With my first, i barely had enough milk that i had to supplement with formula; with my second kid, i have too much milk! Is there no happy medium?

Anyway, adding to my DIY cooking series, below is my version of Seaweed soup. Again, i don’t really measure ingredients precisely but i’ve tried my best to guesstimate what i put in for the broth. I recommend a lot of tasting in between to get the right flavour you desire.

Miyeuk Guk (Korean Seaweed Soup)

Duration: 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients:

5-6 cups of water

1/2 lb of beef cubes

1 tsp Minced Garlic

1 tsp Sesame Oil

1 tbls soysauce or soysauce for soup

1 tsp dashida (optional) (korean beef stock)

1/4 cup of Dried Kelp (You can pick this up at any korean grocery store. Looks like this…)

dryseaweed
Dried Kelp. You can pick this up at any korean grocery store.

 

Instructions:

  1. Soak dried kelp in water for 15 minutes or until the seaweed has expanded back to its slippery green form.
  2. Add water, beef cubes, garlic, soy sauce, dashima and sesame oil into pot and turn heat to medium.
  3. Scoop out the seaweed from the water and add to broth.
  4. Once soup is boiling, turn heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Dinner is served! I like to have my soup with brown rice and a side of kimchi and fried eggs.

seaweed 2

Simple and easy. Enjoy!

Ess.

Must See Places In Kenya: Maasai Mara

IMG_0887

One word – SAFARI. An african safari is generally a desired bucket list for many and after experiencing it again, I can see why it is so popular. I am happy to say that I helped my husband check this one off his bucket list.  Although I’ve gone on several safaris with my parents in Kenya when i was but a wee little child, I don’t actually remember much nor did I fully appreciate the beauty of it back then. Now returning to Kenya, I wanted to take it all in – Lions, cheetahs, elephants… bring it! (Im happy to say we saw these animals and more!)

IMG_3058
hippos and alligators!

IMG_0698 IMG_0704 IMG_3053 IMG_3174 IMG_0862

Headed to Maasai Mara, we booked a one night two day stay at Camp Naibosho (we could have booked for a longer stay but it would have been more expensive and i could not stay away from my baby for more than one night. Despite the fact that she was in good hands with my parents, something about being a mother makes it difficult to part with your offspring). Anyway, Camp Naibosho not only impressed my husband but we were both blown away with the entire experience – from the camps hospitality to the intimate safari, it was amazing.

Below is an overview of our mini adventure.

Initially we had booked our safari through Encounter Mara after hearing great things about the camp. However, due to reconstruction we were moved to a different camp – Camp Naibosho – which has also been rated very high on trip advisor and thus we had no problem with the relocation. We opted for the road transportation from Nairobi to Mara instead of flying to Mara. Although the drive was about 5 hours long compared to a mere 1 hour flight to Mara, it was significantly cheaper so we took that route. Lets just say if I had to do it again, I would pay the extra and fly there. The last two hours on the road was so dusty and bumpy, i thought my head was going to roll off my body from bopping around so much.

IMG_0771
the bumpy long, long road

 

Once we arrived, we were greeted with a cold glass of lemonade and ushered to our tent. So this was not just a tent. It was a luxury tent. Equipped with a flushable toilet, shower head, running tap water and a king sized bed, one might easily forget that they are in the wild … until night falls.

IMG_3078 IMG_3152 IMG_3075 IMG_3076 IMG_3077

Screeching, scratching, roaring, trampling and thrashing noises were all that we heard inside our tent all night long. Forget sleeping. The noise was so terrifying, I just wanted the sun to come up. Wildlife was very real and very close. The only thing dividing us was the thin cloth of nylon that magically shielded us from the wild. After dozing off a couple times, something magical happened. Silence happened. Morning had arrived and the sun was getting ready to rise. Can I get a Good Morning??! I peeked out of our tent to see if any animals were lingering about and wow. (Think Lion King, when the monkey blesses Simba up on the cliff, where the sun is rising and the animals below are bowing. Ok so not like that. There were no animals in sight. Maybe a few gazelles here and there but the way the sunrise hit the savanna was so.. MAJESTIC! Its too bad i didn’t take a picture of it. The picture probably wouldn’t do justice anyway).

IMG_3156
morning tea

IMG_0711 IMG_0700 IMG_2942

Anyway going to wrap it up. (sorry, i have to run and take my daughter to swimming class so gotta cut this short) Because we were pressed for time, we decided to pack our breakfast, jumped in our jeep and off we went to finish our safari with our awesome private maasai guide. This guy made sure we were able to see the animals up close and personal. We even got lucky and was able to witness lions eating their breakfast – fresh buffalo meat (that they probably hunted down at night). And of course loitering near the lions for a chance to nibble at left over meat were vultures, jackals, and hyenas… It was pretty cool to witness this in the flesh!

IMG_0869
breakfast in the wild

IMG_0857 IMG_0845 IMG_0829 IMG_0747 IMG_0754 IMG_0820 IMG_0724 IMG_3189 IMG_3230 IMG_3070

Forget zoos, If you decide that safari is what you want to do, i highly recommend checking out the following camps. You will not be disappointed. “Life is short, live everyday like its your last.”

Encounter Mara – www.encountermara.com

Camp Naibosho – www.naibosho,asiliaafrica.com

To read about Must Visit Places In Kenya: Lake Naivasha click HERE. Eventually, I’ll blog about Must Visit Places In Kenya: Mombasa when I can. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem!

Ess.

IMG_0599 2

3 Travel Tips With A Baby

IMG_3623
My baby enjoying the beach

 

I took my baby to Africa. Thats right. We survived a 36 hour journey from Vancouver to Nairobi with two 9 hour flights and an overnight layover in London with our 10 month old daughter! Call me crazy, but it had to be done. Visiting my parents in Kenya, showing my husband and daughter the home and school i grew up in, seeing the beautiful wildlife in Maasai Mara and getting some sunlight at the white sandy beaches in Mombasa was ALL worth it!

However, traveling with a baby is not so easy. Therefore, i’d like to share 3 tips that i hope will help should you decide to travel internationally with your baby. The following advice is just based on my personal experience.

 

IMG_3279
Flying to Mombasa beach!

1. Its better to pay more for comfort and convenience than cheap out and suffer the consequences. When booking our flight to Nairobi, we could have opted for the cheaper airfare at $1000 per person with a less reputable airline. However, this consisted of three layovers at three different cities with several hours in between each stop. This didn’t give us any time to rest or freshen up before catching the next 9 hour flight. It’s already hard enough flying 9 hours at a time twice! After careful consideration, we chose to fly with British Airways (a well known brand) for $1700 per person. In exchange this gave us one layover in london and an overnight stay at a great hotel (which is also an additional cost) to rest and freshen up for our next 9 hour flight to Nairobi the next day. Suffice to say, it was worth every penny.

IMG_2505
In London!
11140225_694345714025120_8287392274092881062_n
Checking out London with my family

 

2. Plan ahead. Book ahead. Know what to expect! Going to an unfamiliar territory without proper preparation can be disastrous. Although I grew up in Nairobi, I had left 14 years ago and it was probably not the same Nairobi that I once knew. Hotels, transportation and accommodation were all booked prior to landing in Nairobi. I wanted to be prepared. It was me and my husbands first visit to Africa with a baby. To be honest, I was more terrified than excited for the unknown. I mean… it is Africa. Regardless of the fact that it used to be my home, it is a third world country and for that reason alone i had to be prepared for my baby. The following are essential items that I brought with me on this trip and highly recommend should you ever travel to a third world country.

  • Squeezable baby food. Buy enough to last you for your entire trip, factoring your flight duration and layover time
  • Sippy cup or water bottle – baby will need to stay hydrated. I used this thing religiously.
  • Breastmilk – Whether you breastfeed or pump, giving your baby breastmilk helps fight any germs and sickness she may encounter there. Unfortunately i had to pump since my little one refused to breastfeed and oh my lawd, it was a nightmare trying to access clean water to wash and sterilize her 6 bottles and on top of that lugging around my breast pump everywhere i went. So not sexy.
  • Pack and Play – This is a must!! I had the biggest argument with my husband about packing this big thing and shipping it to Kenya. He thought it was ridiculous and an inconvenience but once we got there he was so thankful that I had my way in lugging this giant thing around because you NEED it. At 10 months, this little monkey crawls everywhere! Not only did it help contain her, she was comforted to know that it was her little space -sleeping SO well in it every night. In addition, I was able to put a mosquito net over her playpen everywhere we went (Beware of Malaria! if you are in Africa…)
  • Baby Blanket – Babies are attached to their blanky. This is not an option but a requirement.
  • Hydrasense Nose Sucker – I forget what the real name is. Anyway this thing is GOLD! During the trip my poor darling caught a mild cold and this nose sucker helped enormously when she was all stuffed up. I do caution not to use it too often though only if she cant eat and breath properly, suck those boogers out!
  • Lots of onesies (short and long) – Depending on what country you go to, pack a lot of onesies! For Kenya, the weather was so hot i wish I packed more short sleeve onesies. Dont pack pretty outfits for your kid just for pictures. It is NOT practical. Dont be me. My daughter was so hot, she got very annoyed when I tried to fit her into cute little outfits. She was all about her comfortable cotton onesies which I started running out of and had to hand wash.
  • Diapers – Lots and lots of diapers. Yes it takes up space but it was worth it. On our returning flight, the space that took up diapers was replaced with souvenirs!
  • Baby sunscreen – You need this stuff. Lather your baby in this because the last thing you want is a sunburn and I didn’t want to chance not finding a good solid sunscreen in that country. Bring a hat too.

There’s a lot more to add to this list but that would take me all day to add so I’ve just listed the essentials above that I found extremely handy.

IMG_2471
She’s ready to travel
IMG_2892
At Safari Park Hotel, where you try different types of meat.
IMG_2978
Giraffe Park

 

3. Leave your stroller at home and bring the ERGO baby carrier! If you don’t have an ERGO baby carrier, make sure the one you have is a good sturdy one because you will be carrying your baby EVERYWHERE and you don’t want to end up with a back injury. Lesson learnt – Many countries are not stroller friendly. From London to New York to Nairobi, pushing your stroller around the city is quite inconvenient and challenging. These cities have stairs everywhere, barely any ramps and half working elevators that are scattered in random corners of the buildings. In addition, swarms of people are not very empathetic to your gigantic stroller that hogs the space of three people. Bringing your stroller will be more of an Inconvenience than a convenience. You’ve been warned.

IMG_3345
Relaxing with my baby girl
10175040_694345694025122_5141514688791007617_n
Checking out Safari Park Hotel

 

There you have it. After experiencing a journey to the other side of the world with a 10 month old baby, I conclude by saying that traveling with my baby wasn’t such a nightmare. It wasn’t easy but with patience, careful preparation, and a solid partner aka hubby and baby daddy, it was doable and definitely worth it. Dont let fear hold you back from experiencing life.

IMG_3408
Beautiful beach in Mombasa
IMG_2706
Lake Naivasha with pelicans and hippos
IMG_3040
Safari at Maasai Mara.

Happy traveling folks!

Ess.

Korean Makeup Vs. North American Makeup Style

amakeup2Although I never grew up in Korea, I loved visiting my country. The food, the subway, the hustle and bustle and the familiarity of my mother tongue made me feel right at home. It wasn’t until I lived in Korea for several months that I started to blend in with the culture and my roots. One prominent change that I adapted to was my makeup style. Instead of my comfortable North American style makeup that i used to cake my face with, I unconsciously started applying less products to my face. What used to be an intense and slightly dramatic mask was replaced with a more subtle and natural visage. This was back in 2007. Fast forward to present day and a lot has changed with the Korean perception of beauty and makeup. Kpop stars are slowly taking the lead with a bold and sexy look challenging the unconventional ways of conservative Korea but the trend for a natural youthful look seems to remain steady and unwavering.

Presenting 5 feature differences between Korean vs North American makeup style. Please note not all Koreans or North Americans necessarily follow the two different styles. The following distinctions are gathered from my personal observation between the general Korean population versus the North American population. At the end of the day, everyone wants to look beautiful and beauty comes in all shapes and forms varying from culture to culture.

Eyebrows

Korean – Straight thick brows. Gives the face a soft and more youthful look.eyebrowyoona

North American – Arched thin or thick brows. Gives the face personality and bit of sass.

eyebrowmeganfox

Eyes

Korean– Neutral to sheer coloured eyeshadow is applied for a natural and youthful look. Eyeliner is angled downwards to create a puppy dog look for a sweet and innocent impression. What accentuates Korean eyes are the aegyosalAegyosal is the layer of fat located right below your eyes starting from your tear duct. Koreans like to highlight their aegyosal with a white eye pencil or shimmer to fully bring it out.

eyekorean

North American – Dark to vivid coloured eyeshadow is applied for a smoky, sexy and smouldering look. Eyeliner is angled upwards to create a cat eyed look for intensity. Forget aegyosal, hiding eye bags is a top priority. All types of concealers and eye creams are used to hide the dark patches that appear every morning.

eyeamerican

Skin

Korean – Fair skin is highly sought after. Generally, you will need to have a blemish free skin to pull this off. (This is where the famous Korean skincare routine comes to play). For those not blessed with perfect skin, bb cream is the next consolation. Many prep their skin to look dewy and moist, almost like they just got out of the shower. Almost.

skinkorean

North American – Tanned skin is highly sought after. Not only do you tan your skin but you bronze and contour like crazy.

skinamericann

Who needs plastic surgery when you got contouring?

skincontour

Eyelashes

Korean – Again, natural and youthful is the key point. All you need is an eyelash curler and mascara and hope that you were blessed with long lashes.

eyelash korean

North American – Long, thick and dramatic eyelashes otherwise known as falsies are a must. All you need is fake eyelashes and maybe some mascara to give it an extra oomph in case its not dramatic enough.

eyelashamerican

Lips

Korean – Small, dainty lips are desired. Like Song HyeKyo.

lipskoreann

North American – Big luscious lips are desired. Like Angelina Jolie.

lipsamerican

 

My attempt at trying Korean makeup vs. North American makeup style below.

Koreanmakeup3
My first time trying the korean style brow… so awkward.

 

koreanmakeup
Tried to curl what little eyelashes i had. If you squint really hard you might see a couple strands of lashes. lol

 

amakeup4
My version of north american style makeup and what i am familiar with

 

amakeup3
My eyebrows are back to normal! I can’t get used to the korean brows…. yet

 

In summary, it seems the Korean makeup style aims for a natural and youthful look while the North American makeup style aims for a sexy and sophisticated look. One is not necessarily better than the other. I definitely cant pull off the Korean style but the North American makeup style is also too intense. My personal preference is a mix of both. What makeup style is your preference?

Thanks for reading!

Esther