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.

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#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

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!)

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hippos and alligators!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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morning tea

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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!

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breakfast in the wild

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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.

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3 Travel Tips With A Baby

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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.

 

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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.

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In London!
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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.

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

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Relaxing with my baby girl
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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.

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Beautiful beach in Mombasa
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Lake Naivasha with pelicans and hippos
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Who needs plastic surgery when you got contouring?

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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.

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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.

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Lips

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

Must See Places In Kenya – Lake Naivasha

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Hello beautiful people! Its been a while since my last blog but Im back in town after a month of travel and with jet lag and the whole city of Vancouver asleep at 3 in the morning, I’ve decided to blog about my adventures in Africa. Finally, I was able to visit my home again after leaving Nairobi 14 years ago. I was lucky enough to be able to take my daughter and husband to show them the beautiful country that i grew up in. Kenya was where i spent my childhood to teenage years and going back to visit after all these years brought back mixed emotions. Showing my husband the school I attended, the house I used to live in, the streets I played on, the local snacks I ate was another experience on its own. A lot has changed, yet some things still remain the same. He still cant get over the fact that I used to play in the slums of Mathare with local kids when I was a small child (He checked it out first hand with my dad on our second day of arrival).

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Even I have a hard time believing, I grew up here as a child… My school uniform was green.
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Slums of Mathare, still the same…

This is where i picked up Swahili and learned it fluently. After all these years I am amazed at myself for still remembering the language and used it to bargain like a crazy old lady at the ever so popular Maasai markets (A local african market that sells a variety of kenyan souvenirs). If you are ever in Nairobi, check out Village Market on Fridays. This is where you will find many street vendors selling their goodies at outrageous prices that you should not fall for. My advice is whatever price they quote you, divide that by 2 and then bargain your way down from that price.

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bargained a dress here!
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maasai market

Anyway, I can go on about my adventures in Kenya as there is so much to share but I’ve decided to break it down into different parts to fully highlight several places I’ved visited, starting with Lake Naivasha.

Must Visit Places In Kenya: Lake Naivasha

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Hippos literally an arms reach away… although not recommended to go that close.

Want to see some animals but a safari is not within your budget? No problem. Lake Naivasha, a freshwater lake is home to many animals, hippos included. Here, you will be able to take a morning stroll with giraffes and zebras grazing nearby or hop on a boat to intimately see schools of hippos, pelicans and other species of birds.

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prettiest monkey i’ve seen!
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wildlife roaming around our backyard hotel

Just a two hour drive from Nairobi, we stayed at the Sopa resort in Naivasha. For families with children and babies, I highly recommend staying here for a pleasant and comfortable experience. As i was traveling with a baby, comfort and convenience was my number one priority.

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boating with my love

Although it was a bit pricey to stay at Sopa, it was worth every penny! We stayed only for one night but really you pretty much see everything within your two day, one night stay here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included and I must say the food was actually quite decent. The suites are individual luxury huts that assemble next to each other and is so close to the animals, sometimes a giraffe will peer through your second floor patio. How cool is that? (No giraffe on our window unfortunately). I wanted a selfie with one of the giraffes but apparently i was too short so i had to settle for the giraffe to appear in the background. After dropping off our luggage to our suites, we had lunch and got ready to jump on a boat to see hippos. Im talking about seeing 50 hippos within the one hour boat ride. None of that, oh I see one or two hippos sticking their head above water nonsense. You are definitely not at a zoo. The hour boat ride was perfect with a baby. Not too long and not too short for my daughter to get restless. In addition, I loved the fact that the boat was shaded! Overall, we were quite impressed with Lake Naivasha from our comfortable hotel to the intimate wildlife viewing. Pictures need no explaining, check it out!

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Giraffes hanging out nearby
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view from our balcony
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Giant pool at Sopa resort. Unfortunately, they close at 6 pm.. with good reason since mosquitos come out to play in the evening.
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our suites!
Even their mosquito nets were well done!
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hotel lobby
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lunchtime!
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one school of hippos out of the many that we saw
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These pelicans were gigantic!
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blue heron
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Another school of hippos – different family
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water buffalo with her baby

Lake Naivasha is a must see when you visit Kenya. Check back at www.thatkimchilife.com next week for my next post: Must See Places in Kenya – Maasai Mara!

Cheers,

Ess.

Best Seolungtang (Oxtail Soup) in Vancouver

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Spring is around the corner!

Its March already and I haven’t blogged for a while. Where does the time go! Anyway, I thought it was time to post one more blog before I dash off to Africa to meet Simba and his entourage! Yep, thats right. I am going back to my home country – Kenya! Its been more than 10 years since I had left to come to Canada and going back to visit brings a lot of mixed emotions – joy, anxiety, excitement, to name a few! During my time there I might not have the time to blog, so follow me here on Facebook or here on instagram to see pictures of my adventures in Africa!

I also had a night out this past weekend from baby (thanks to an awesome babysitter aka her dad and my husband) to check out a very cool and fresh new lounge called Prohibition in Downtown Vancouver with some awesome girlfriends. It was nice to dress up and catch up with friends.

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Individual bathroom stalls at prohibition, kind of like Vegas!

I must say I was quite impressed with the venue. I felt like I was at an upscale lounge in New York City! I would have liked to write a review on this place but I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the Venue… just selfies of me, myself and I. Hehe. This mama doesn’t get to dress up much so when I do, I applaud my efforts of looking like a human being again. Its nice to get dolled up once in a while.

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Lately into polka dots…

Anyway, back to the title of this blog and without further ado, presenting a blog about one of my favourite foods of all time – Seolungtang!

My love for food has led me to blog about a hidden gem that I recently discovered tucked away in a little town called Ktown in Coquitlam. What a marvellous find! Introducing THE best Seolungtang dish that I have ever tasted in Canada at Wang Ga Ma Restaurant, located across from Hmart. The Seolungtang served at this family owned establishment is comparable to Seolungtang that you find in Ktown NYC, Ktown LA and of course the motherland – Korea, meaning it is AMAZING. If you’ve checked out the various Korean restaurants at any of these cities then you are on par with how finger licking delicious everything is on their menu, Seolungtang included. Even their banchan (Side dishes) alone will blow your mind! The quantity, quality and authenticity of Korean food in these cities puts Korean food served in Vancouver to shame. Korean restaurants in Vancouver need to step up their game. Seriously.

What is Seolungtang?

Seolungtang is a delicious broth made from oxtail or ox bones that has been simmered for hours producing a milky and cloudy colour. Seasoning includes sea salt, green onions and pepper that you can add to your own liking. Rich in nutrients and a favourite hangover food, this oxtail soup is loved by many Koreans.

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Seolungtang

Accompanying Seolungtangs are the spicy pickled radish, Mu and/or fresh Kimchi. The Mu and Kimchi either makes or breaks your first bite with the creamy broth. A good seolungtang needs a good kimchi partner. Just like Beyonce and Jayz, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Peanut butter and Jelly, Fried chicken and Beer, Salt and Pepper, you get the point. Fresh, semisweet, spicy, pickled Kimchi or Mu just hits the spot with the soup. The two are inseparable.

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The picture doesn’t do justice! Delicious Kimchi!

Anyway, thanks to my desperate hunger I walked into the first Korean restaurant (which happened to be Wang Ga Ma) that I saw and ordered a Doganitang (Beef tendon soup. The soup base is the same as Seolungtang, only that it comes with beef tendons). Wang Ga Ma definitely knows what they are doing as they specialize in the beef broth. With a limited selection on their menu, many come for their Seolungtang and Bossam (pork belly topped with spices and wrapped in cabbage. Drool).

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Oh My Lawd. What is this heaven that I am tasting? I haven’t had good seolungtang soup in a very long time and I was so happy to have found a place in my city that I can go to at the whim of a craving! The mustard brown sauce dip for the meat was also an added bonus! I no longer have to wait to visit Ktown LA, Ktown NYC or even Korea to be able to taste well brewed Seolungtang broth. Wang Ga Ma, I thank you!

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Even the rice is delicious and comes in a stone pot bowl!

Check It Out!

Wang Ga Ma Restaurant

Address: 450 – 329 North Road, Coquitlam BC

Hours: 10 am – 10 pm

Price Range: $10 – $20

 

Bon appetit!

Ess.