Wednesday, October 22, 2014

so it's been more than a year...

I just realized it had been more than a full year since I last blogged! That's just silly, but for the past several months my life had been drastically changed... my son Alex was born a couple days before Thanksgiving last year, and I have been super busy with him since.

Everything with Alex is new to me. Motherhood has been both exciting and challenging at times, and I am constantly learning to be a mom. And I am loving it. And of course there's our little coffee shop that just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and that remains a large part of my life, even though most of the time it's John at the business all by himself because I usually stay at home with Alex these days. And then there's still all the food adventures that I partake with both John and Alex... These simple daily happiness keep me occupied.

Anywho. Even though I have not really had much time to sit down and blog, I have been able to take photos (of course!) and use Instagram, flickr, and also facebook more regularly for my everyday little things.

So. Thanks for stopping by. I am hoping I can figure out how to utilize my time better so I can continue blogging. In the mean time I will be on Instagram, and if you are there as well, please feel free to follow me and share my journey through life's daily events, one little square at a time.

I am here on Instagram.


Alex is 10 months old now!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

this past few months

Oh my! I haven't blogged for over 4 months! How did that happen? Lots have actually happened during these 4 months - including John and my little trip to Tokyo in May (which was the best yet!) and the fact that I am pregnant (32 weeks and counting as of this week!)

And yes there are so many thing to blog about, and I hope I can manage to record fun little things here and there before the baby arrives. I am sensing that John and my life will get even busier and more exciting with the little guy in our lives, and it should be a lot of fun!


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Best of State award

So lots of fun things have been happening since I last blogged. If I do not slack off I shall blog about them soon.

And during this time, caffe d'bolla received the Best of State award for "exquisite coffee" and "excelling and surpassing all else." I am so proud of John!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seoul 11.12 - Cheong Wa Dae tour (part 1)

 I had signed up for a tour of Cheong Wa Dae prior to arriving in Seoul. The complete available tour schedule is on its web site, which is filled with great information and is easy to navigate, so if you're going to visit Seoul and are interested in visiting Cheong Wa Dae, you need to make sure you sign up for a tour in advance. (And spots fill up fast!)

Anyhow, John and I was so excited about our tour but when we tried to locate the gathering spot (at the "East Gate Parking Lot",) we got lost. Long story short, we eventually found the gathering spot for our tour, and it was way past our scheduled meeting time.

This was what we were looking for - "Cheong Wa Dae Tour" information booth and gathering place.

The lady at the counter of the Tour information center almost freaked out when she saw that we missed our appointment time. She then asked a guy in suit (secret service?) a bunch of questions, and long story short, we were given our visitor badges and guided onto a bus!

We picked a couple seats at the front of the bus and waited.

The secret service men.(?)

Some parents and kids coming onto the bus.

We were ready to go!

After a short bus ride we arrived at the outside gate of Cheong Wa Dae. Apparently John and I were the only foreigners on this tour. We were each given a gift!

Gift from Cheong Wa Dae.

It was a set of two beautiful mugs (each)! This was taken back at the hotel.

We were then guided toward another area.

Before everyone was allowed into the buildings we went through the security.

This was a hand of one of the guards who checked to make sure my camera was really a camera!

After security John and I were given our "tour guide" of Cheong Wa Dae. Very helpful.

We were then ready for a welcome presentation!

Oh! May I also say, at this point I noticed the secret service guys were all very tall and good-looking. (!)

During the presentation.

And then we were all prepped and ready for the actual tour!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Seoul 11.12 - a quick glimpse of Gyeongbokgung

John and I scheduled a tour to visit Cheong Wa Dae (the Blue House,) and I was planning on visiting Gyeongbokgung along the way.

We arrived at the Gyeongbokgung station and it had a wonderful traditional decor, vibe, and atmosphere.

And there was a stone gate that read "never old door/gate." It is believed that people would be forever young if they walk through the gate!

We took exit 5 and when we came out this was what we saw:

This was right outside of the main area of Gyeongbokgung, and we needed to find its East Gate parking lot for our Cheong Wa Dae tour.

We got lost and couldn't find the parking lot until much later...

But along the way we were fortunate to see part of the guard ceremony:

Eventually I saw the Gyeongbokgung information booth and a lady directed us to the right spot for our tour. We made it but totally missed our scheduled time spot! Thankfully the officials were kind and placed us in with another group so we could start our tour. The tour was great, and I will tell you about it later on.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seoul 11.12 - near the hotel

We stayed at the Western COOP Residence in Seoul, and because it's located near (even though not right inside) the Dongdaemun shopping district, there were night life going on in the area.

First off, there were plenty of street vendors near by, where you could get snacks and little fashion accessories and such, and there were also restaurants in small streets everywhere.

And there was a police station near by. Looks pretty cool!

Oh, and there were many, and I mean many, different convenience stores within a few blocks of the hotel. Most of them were GS25 stores. You could find simple household necessities, snacks, and all sorts of beverages at these stores, and you could also buy tickets to events and trains. Convenience indeed!

The baked goods section at a GS25.


Different milk and coffee drinks.

Korean food essentials: gochujiang (chili paste), sesame oil, soy bean paste, etc., and cute mini mayo!

Most of the canned sodas we saw were 250ml (1 cup) in volume.

Someone recommended these Melon Flavor Ice Bars from GS25 and we tried one. It was creamy and very honeydew-y!

Browsing at convenience stores was fun!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Seoul 11.12 - Nolboo budae jjigae

One of the best things in Seoul is that many restaurants open 24 hours a day, and there are fun and exciting choices for all!

Near by our hotel there was a Nolboo. It's a popular chain restaurant that serves budae jjigae. Budae jjigae literally translated to "military/army stew," and it originally came about when, after the war, food was not readily available, and people uses the surplus food items that the U.S. Army bases supplied, mixed with chili paste and kimchi to make this "fusion" dish!

At the second floor.

Look who greeted us at the door!

There were different meats, vegetables, mushrooms, and rice cakes, and the ajuma was pouring broth into the pan.

These little rice cakes were my favorite. They were so cute!

Like Myeongdong Kyoja, the chopsticks and long spoons were in the drawers.

Of course there were some kimchi.

View from above the pan.

We let everything cook for a while, and then everything turned red! There must be some gochujiang (hot chili paste) hidden underneath from the beginning! Oh it was spicy and delicious!

The Budae Jjigae pan looked gigantic in the photos, but the pan itself was pretty shallow so there wasn't a ton of food, but with the rice, kimchi, and other sides that come with the jjigae it was a very satisfying meal.

And I really enjoyed these "eating while cooking for yourself" style of restaurants in Seoul!

Friday, March 15, 2013

ZAGAT says...

John and I are honored. ZAGAT likes us! :)

Zagat names caffe d'bolla Utah's Must-Try Coffee Shop!

Utah: Caffe d’Bolla

At this Salt Lake City cafe, they source coffees from all over the world and micro-roast them in house. You can find all sorts of uncommon beans, including Kenya Nyeri AB Gatomboya, Nicaragua Finca Maria and Panama Volcancito. In case you want to learn more about these special blends, they also offer $20 "Coffee 101" classes each month. Not only do they do coffee right, but they also have a stellar tea program, traveling to Asia yearly to purchase some of their teas right from the growers.

249 E. 400 S #B, Salt Lake City, UT; 801-355-1398

(courtesy of

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seoul 11.12 - shopping in Myeongdong

After having yummy dumplings and noodles at Myeongdong Kyoja, I was all ready to start my shopping "spree"! I was planning on getting some skincare products and makeup from a few Korean skincare/makeup companies, plus other fun things I saw along the way.

John, on the other hand, was not excited about the idea of shopping all over Myeongdong, so we didn't end up spending a lot of time (according to me) shopping, really.

But I went prepared! I had a list of items I was interested in, and all I did was to politely ask the girls at the makeup shops to help me find them. This way I was able to get the things I needed without spending too much time. I was also planning on browsing a bit more around the different shops, though, but that didn't come about. Oh well. I still got a lot of goodies!

Oh, this is very helpful: when you buy things in shops with a "Tax Free" (or similar) you can get your tax money back at the airport! Make sure you ask at the register at the stores if they had such services. I will post a little "tutorial" about the tax return later. 

I also picked up some cute earrings and hair accessories. Oh my goodness there were so many choices!

There were also many street food vendors in different parts of Myeongdong!

Shopping in Myeongdong was definitely lots of fun!