Jan 17, 2015  •  In Food, Personal, Travel

I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Blogger

Harro there! Remember me? I’ve decided to ease back to this blogging thing with a contrived post that crams my life within the last month through pictures (many which my Facebook friends and/or Instagram followers have already seen) and captions.

Can you believe it’s already been 3 weeks since Christmas? We kept it low-key again this year with a casual dinner at my parents’. My mother asked me to cook my famous 갈비찜 (kalbijiim, or braised short ribs) and while I was a bit nervous because I hadn’t made it in over a year, it still turned out delish and I was proud of myself for not losing my touch.

kalbijiim_christmas_dinner

The day after Christmas found me at King Spa. My mother had insisted on treating my sister and I, and while I’ve never been a big fan of 찜질방 (jjimjilbang , or Korean bathhouses/spas) — I always have trouble just letting go and relaxing — I had a fantastic time sweating, destressing, and gorging on snacks.

jjimjjilbang

Just a few days later, I hopped on a plane…

jfk_to_lax_virgin
How cute is this confirmation I received from Virgin after checking in for my flight?

For an 8-day vacation in LA! The purpose of the trip was for a cousin’s wedding, and while the original plan was for everyone to go and have the girls experience their first trip to Disneyland, the holiday airline fares were killer. And since I had visited LA the past two winters too, I decided to take this opportunity for a third annual solo vacation among friends and family.

(Thanks, C, for letting me crash at your place again! And I know you’re reading this!  ;-) )

And you guys, I had such a fabulous time in LA. I am so thankful for J and his parents who allowed me to take this solo trip, for my family out in the west coast (I always forget that I have such a large extended family out there!) as well as those who were visiting from Korea for reminding me how awesome my relatives are, and my friends for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet up with me, drive me around, and feed me ridiculous amounts of yummy grub. (I swear I gained like 5 lbs from this trip.)

family_at_wedding
At the wedding with family who were visiting from Korea.

dressed_for_wedding
First time getting dressed up in ages. (Love my friend’s mirror
for making me look thinner!  ;-) )

I even got to meet with an old blogging friend I’ve admired for years: none other than the Broke-Ass Bride herself, Dana! We both confessed that we were nervous about our “blind date” — while we had talked online for years, we’ve never met in person before and people can have such different online personas, you know?

But my fears were completely unfounded, because Dana is friendlier and funnier than I ever imagined. We hit it off immediately and I had a wonderful time cooking (I taught her how to make my famous kalbijiim and her Korean husband who has eaten at many famous eateries agreed that it’s the best kalbijiim he’s ever tasted :-D ) and hanging out with her.

cooking_with_dana
This picture doesn’t do her justice — Dana is GORGEOUS in real life!

I also got to sneak in a coffee break with Hellobee’s Mrs. Pencil, whom I’ve known since her days in NY many many years ago. It’s so strange to think that the last time I saw her (on my last trip to LA almost exactly a year ago), she was pregnant with her son and this time, he was a real life human being who is gurgling, drooling, grabbing, and just straight-up lovable. :-)  You’d think I wouldn’t have these thoughts seeing as I’m a mother of 2, but this little boy was so well-behaved and charming that I couldn’t help it!

with_baby_pencil
Look at that smile! Look at those cheeks! He was sick with his first
cold but once I worked my magic on him, he became a giggling,
gurgling little guy. :-D

And of course hanging out with my friends’ cute babies made me miss Claire & Aerin even more. One of my favorite days in LA was on New Year’s Day, as I hung out with my friend C (whose place where I was staying) on the couch all day, pigging out on junk food while gossiping and watching Friends (I’m sure everyone with Netflix was watching that show when it debuted on Jan 1!) and 슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다 (Return of Superman, a Korean reality show). I hadn’t watched this show in ages, so Song Il-kook’s triplets completely won me over and made me miss my girls so much.

superman_returns_triplets_new_years
Daehan, Mingook, and Manseh wish you a happy new year.
I need to start watching this show again!

c&a_with_daddy
Sometimes, a little time away from mommy is a good thing.
Everyone agrees that the girls have become closer to J and their
grandparents during my time away.

One last good and one bad. On December 31st, 2014, I was greeted by this message after I finished my daily devotional:

congratulations_one_year_bible

I had started the One Year Bible plan at the beginning of 2014. (It’s a reading plan that includes a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, verses from Psalms, and verses from Proverbs every day, divided so that you can read the entire Bible in one year. It actually goes through the book of Psalms twice.) Although I think I’ve read the Bible in its entirety at least once in my life, I could never say that with certainty…until now.

And I learned sooo much from the One Year Bible plan, especially in the connections between the Old and New Testaments — even through seemingly mundane subjects such as genealogy!

Needless to say, I was very proud of myself for this little accomplishment. I think it’s the first new years resolution I kept throughout an entire year. :-)

The negative note with which I’ll end this post may be funny to some: on January 3rd, 2015, I felt my very first earthquake…AND I FREAKED OUT. :oops:  The earthquake was a small one by LA standards — a 4.5 which was later downgraded to 4.2 — but it was large enough to make me lose my balance and hear things falling from the apartment upstairs.

4.2_quake_socal
(source: NBC Southern California)

I immediately texted some friends in the area, and while some were sympathetic/supportive, all of them found it hilarious that I was making such a big deal of it. :evil:  Look, people. If you felt your very first earthquake at the age of 34, wouldn’t you be freaking out too?!?? I mean, a solid ground is something you come to expect without any given thought, y’know?

(I am reminded of the 2011 east coast earthquake and how my west coast friends reacted to that. Remember my response? :-P )

I got very little sleep that night because I was so shaken. (My friend was away for the night, so I was all alone at her place.) I ended up wrapping myself with a blanket, curled up on the floor in the corner of the room, tried to watch shows on Netflix in order to try to distract myself but failed, and ended up falling asleep only after singing praise songs to myself to gain some courage.

Yeah, yeah…you can laugh at me too.  :roll: 

Dec 18, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Books, Entertainment, Geek, Korean, Movies

Illustrator Gives Western Fairy Tales a Korean Makeover

Korean artist Na Young Wu has recently unveiled a series of illustrations which combines well-known western fairy tales with the Korean manhwa (the equivalent of manga in Korean) as well as the traditional Korean drawing style! They’re quite stunning, to say the least.

The Princess and the Frog:
western_folktales_korean_illustration_the_princess_and_the_frog

The Little Mermaid:
western_folktales_korean_illustration_the_little_mermaid

Snow White:
western_folktales_korean_illustration_snow_white

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Dec 10, 2014  •  In Beauty, Korean, Personal, Reviews

My Holiday Sales-Slash-Birthday Beauty Haul [Food Poisoning Edition]

I’m on day 4 of (what I believe to be) a bad case of food poisoning. My poor tummy. My poor plumbing system. My poor family.

Anyway, because today is the first day since last week where I felt semi-human yet still suffering a bit (and out of blogspiration) — and because so many of you seem to like my beauty recommendations, I wanted to share with you my holiday sales (all the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and numerous F&F sales) – slash – birthday present to myself haul!

1.  Banila Co It Radiant CC Melting Foundation, $36

banila_co_it_radiant_cc_melting_foundationI’ve been using the Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control ever since I ran out of the Innisfree Long Wear Cushion. (My thoughts after trying both? The Laneige cushion provides a marvelous finish that is a bit more radiant than the Innisfree cushion. However, the Innisfree has more coverage and better lasting power. And although the Laneige cushion is almost twice the price of the Innisfree one, the Laneige cushion comes with an extra refill, which evens out the price, IMO. Also, the Laneige packaging is so much prettier and more luxurious.)

I was just about to replace the Laneige cushion with the included refill when I read about the Banila Co It Radiant CC Melting Foundation. A product that’s similar to cushion compacts but with more coverage? I was sold, and patiently waited until Soko Glam’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale to pick one up for myself.

And you guys. This stuff is uh-mazing. Seriously. If I had one complaint about cushion pacts, it would have been their poor staying power. (But then again, they’re meant to be re-applied multiple times throughout the day.) But this Melting Foundation has about the same longevity as a regular foundation, layers beautifully, and is just so easy to use. In fact, it has become my go-to product when I do not have the time, or is too lazy, to use a full foundation. And it’s perfect to carry around to for use as touchups.

2.  Skinfood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, $10

skinfood_strawberry_black_sugar_maskI had heard some great things about Skinfood’s Black Sugar Mask, and how it’s supposed to be a great dupe for the popular $58 Fresh Sugar Face Polish, at a fraction of the price!

This strawberry version was released earlier this year as a gentler alternative to the Black Sugar Mask. I had read that it performs just as well with a scent that is TDF, so I decided to go it a try since I currently have no exfoliating system in place.

After trying the product for myself, I can definitely say that the smell is a hit-or-miss. Meaning, it smells — and looks! — exactly like strawberry preserves! Including the strawberry seeds! So while many people will love the scent (it seriously tempts you to taste it), I didn’t particularly like it because I’m very particular about scents in my beauty products.

(I should add that J makes fun of me whenever I use this scrub. “Why don’t you just slather some strawberry jam on your face?” I try to explain to him that it has other beneficial stuff in it than just strawberry and sugar, but he just smirks.  :roll: )

Despite the smell, I LOVE how this mask makes my skin feel. You can see an immediate difference in your skin texture as soon as you wash it off — it never fails to leave my skin baby soft, smooth, and supple. It has definitely become a weekly staple in my skincare routine.

3.  The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Design My Eyebrow, $8

the_face_shop_design_my_eyebrowI only decided to pick up this product in order to quality for free shipping…and I was pleasantly surprised!

The coverage on this eyebrow pencil is buildable, and it comes in 4 shades: brown, dark brown, black brown, and dark gray. It even comes with a spoolie on the other end to help soften your brows for a more natural look.

However, my favorite part of this eyebrow pencil is its shape: it is angled! (For a close-up of the tip, see here and here.) I don’t know if there are other eyebrow pencils that have a similar shape, but this little detail was mind-blowing to me.  :oops:  It just makes the application so much easier and precise!

4.  By Terry Cover-Expert Perfecting Fluid Foundation, $66

by_terry_cover_expertI have read so many great things about the Cover-Expert foundation from By Terry. (Have you heard of By Terry? It’s a fairly-new cosmetics line from Terry de Gunzburg, the mastermind behind the iconic YSL Touche Éclat.) So when Beauty.com was having their F&F sale, I snapped up a bottle in #7 Vanilla Beige.

The verdict: I like it almost as much as the Giorgio Armani Maestro. Actually, strike that. I love them both for different reasons. The Maestro’s finish is unparalleled — I have yet to find another foundation that literally feels like I have nothing on my face, and even seems to enhance the texture of my skin. However, the By Terry Cover-Expert provides more coverage, is easier to build, and lasts longer than any other foundation I’ve ever tried.

Both foundations do have their caveats. The Maestro is not very travel-friendly (I usually wrap it in cling wrap and even then, it has sometimes leaked), while the Cover-Expert has a tendency to pool into the cap (I store it upside-down for this reason). However, this foundation junkie can confidently say that these two are my favorite foundations. I now have them both on rotation, using the Maestro for days when I want a more natural, glowing finish, and the Cover-Expert on days when I want a more polished, longer-lasting look.

I should add one thing about the color: I’m not sure if this is an issue with just my shade (#7, see Beauty Professor for swatches of all the shades) or all of them, but upon initial application, the Cover-Expert has a teensy bit of a gray undertone, similar to my favorite BB cream, the Missha M Perfect Cover. But like the Missha, the color quickly adjusts itself to match my natural skintone.

That’s it for this mini beauty haul! As usual, please let me know if you have any questions about these products. And stay tuned for another giveaway in the near future, featuring more goodies from Shiseido! (A teaser: it features items that are not even in stores yet!)

I now end this post with yet another omg-I-can’t-believe-how-old-I-am-now whine. My 34th birthday was quiet but enjoyable, and despite my stomach issues, I insisted on going to a seafood place for dinner. I was craving shellfish and beer, and I was going to have them, doggone it! Look how sick and tired (but happy!) I look!

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Nov 27, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Food

How Famous Artists Would Arrange Their Thanksgiving Plates

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of the holiday, I’d like to share with you a series of photographs by Hannah Rothstein. Each picture depicts theatrical plate stylings from some of the most recognizable names in art.

I’m a bit bummed that my two favorite artists (Modigliani and Kandinsky) weren’t included, but I gotta admit that each arrangement is beautifully and accurately executed when you consider the limitations of the medium.

Piet Mondrian:
famous_artist_thanksgiving_mondrian

René Magritte:
famous_artist_thanksgiving_magritte

Mark Rothko:
famous_artist_thanksgiving_rothko

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Nov 22, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Entertainment, Geek, Movies, Star Wars, Video Games, Web

5 Things I Found on the Internet This Week

1.  Do you want to code a snowflake?

Disney Interactive and Code.org has teamed up to inspire future computer programmers — especially girls — to learn some basic coding skills in a fun, visual way. Head on over to the Frozen Hour of Code to help Anna and Elsa create shapes and patterns on ice using simplified blocks of code that snap together.

No prior coding experience is necessary, because you start off by drawing simple lines, with short video tutorials between each subject. (Pop quiz: which “dinosaur” makes an appearance to explain functions? ;-) ) But you’ll soon be creating shapes like this:

frozen_hour_of_code

To appeal to the social-media loving crowd, the game even lets you share your creations with your friends. Each generated URL leads the visitor to a unique page where people can see your code in action. (See an example here.)

frozen_hour_of_code_social_media

Give it a try! I’m sure any Frozen-loving child — heck, adults too! — interested in computers would love the tutorial.

Via Mashable.

2.  The competitive rankings of Super Smash Bros characters over time

Head on over to The Unbalanced Design of Super Smash Brothers, written by Forrest Smith, to read and pore over various data, charts, and research dissecting the game and its characters, how the game has changed over time, and how the players’ perception of balance has shifted through the years.

In other words, some very nerdy stuff.  :mrgreen: 

smash_bros_rankings_chart

Via Reddit.

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