Jeju, you are a gem

by Grace Ko in ,


The first and last time I was in Jeju was 16 years ago, my freshman year of high school. That year was a tumultuous one, full of adolescent angst and a whole gamut of emotions. But I do fondly remember my trip to Jeju - my brother and I tagged along with my aunt, uncle and cousin on a trip with their friends. 

Last weekend, Y and I went to Jeju for 3 nights, 4 days. A typhoon had passed through only a few days before our arrival and the lingering effects of it were felt - the first two days were filled with intermittent downpours. We spent our first full day escaping the rain in sundry indoor spaces: O'Sulloc Tea Museum, Bangju Church, Bonte Museum. Married to an architect, I have grown to appreciate buildings and architecture. The husband calls architecture "the container of life" and I was grateful it for these containers of life and places of refuge from the temperamental weather. 

But like they say, after the rain comes the sun and scintillating it was. It was all the more glorious. We spent our days breathing in the fresh autumn air, letting our eyes soak in the blue skies and took the time to say things like, "How beautiful!" "This is so amazing!" Making the most of the weather, we spent one day exploring winding paths through lush forests and rolling hills, the following day making our way along the coast's beaches. Our bellies were filled with a motley of Jeju's finest: abalone, pork belly, seafood stew just to name a few. 

I went to Jeju just an excitement of getting away from the hubbub of Seoul life and feasting on good eats and sights. But I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and recalibrated, with a greater sense of hope and expectation. To be quite honest, grieving has been a real part of this pregnancy. I often look through Instagram or Facebook and see the places people are traveling to and I'm filled with the occasional pang of wanderlust, an ounce of envy and a sense of loss: "There's another place we won't get to go to," "That's another thing I won't be able to do once baby comes..." Now, don't get me wrong. I am extremely excited for baby's impending arrival but I'm also very aware his impending arrival brings very real impending life changes. 

A part of me went to Jeju thinking, "Okay, here's one last hurrah." But God must've known my heart. At every corner, every stop, every cafe, there were families traveling with young children. It made me realize that my life won't stop with baby's arrival. Yes, there will be changes. Yes, there will be adjustments. But there will also be a new sense of joy. And I can still travel, WITH baby! 

Baby, I can't wait to take you to Jeju and to show you the beauty of this country you will be in born in. Korea is beautiful, you'll see. 


Whole30 before 30

by Grace Ko in , ,


Can you believe that I'll be turning 30 next month? Because I sure can't; in my mind, I'm still eighteen...  But hey ho, c'est la vie and I'm going to embrace thirty and do thirty proud. And what better way to usher in thirty than to do Whole30 before thirty!

We're already halfway through but it's been quite a journey. I'll admit, I've been a hangry, cranky-pants at times and the cravings for all things sweet (cupcakes, chocolate, donuts, macarons...) and carbs (mainly anything of the noodle kind) have been so real. I've eaten more eggs during the past fifteen days than what seems like in my entire life. Going out to eat has posed to be quite challenging. Meal-planning is a real thing, apparently. I've been resorting to a lot of leftovers for lunch. 

But we've been taking it day by day. I've been trying to satiate my sweet tooth with lots of fresh fruit and Lara bars! (Thank you, Lara bars!) And I'm grateful to the husband for doing it with me and for great friends, K and M for motivating me to start! 

Here are some of the meals we've had over the past 15 days. 

A simple breakfast: Scrambled eggs, avocados & cherry tomatoes

A simple breakfast: Scrambled eggs, avocados & cherry tomatoes

A more elaborate dinner: Mustard-marinated chicken, grilled onions and mushrooms, arugula salad with tomatoes and avocado

A more elaborate dinner: Mustard-marinated chicken, grilled onions and mushrooms, arugula salad with tomatoes and avocado

Brunch @Suji's: Omelette with bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, home fries, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, ham 

Brunch @Suji's: Omelette with bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, home fries, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, ham 

A hearty lunch: Skirt steak, broccoli and eggs over-easy (I told you, a lot of eggs...)

A hearty lunch: Skirt steak, broccoli and eggs over-easy (I told you, a lot of eggs...)

A midday pick-me-up: my own Whole30 version of cappuccino - blend coffee with half a banana for a subtly sweet and frothy drink! 

A midday pick-me-up: my own Whole30 version of cappuccino - blend coffee with half a banana for a subtly sweet and frothy drink! 

Dinner @"The Garden": Grilled fish, sauteed cabbage and tomatoes, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes

Dinner @"The Garden": Grilled fish, sauteed cabbage and tomatoes, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes

A Whole30-approved brunch feast on vacation: scrambled eggs, avocados, grilled tomatoes, sausages, grilled vegetable medley, home fries, fruit salad, bacon 

A Whole30-approved brunch feast on vacation: scrambled eggs, avocados, grilled tomatoes, sausages, grilled vegetable medley, home fries, fruit salad, bacon 

Lunch out at a Turkish restaurant: Coban salad  

Lunch out at a Turkish restaurant: Coban salad  

Dinner at home: skirt steak, eggs, grilled red peppers, roasted cauliflower 

Dinner at home: skirt steak, eggs, grilled red peppers, roasted cauliflower 

I am now armed with the instagram account of Whole30recipes for inspiration to get us through the next fifteen days!

Cheers to Whole30 and turning 30! 


Friday Favorites

by Grace Ko in ,


Every evening this week was eventful. This week was one of those delicious weeks imbued with deep rest and inspiration peppered with spontaneous conversations full of the power of connection, hope for the future, synergistic vibes. 

This weekend, we have a day trip planned and a movie outing. Happy Friday! Cheers!

Unfiltered light + vanilla mint chai

Unfiltered light + vanilla mint chai

A foggy day in Gwangju

A foggy day in Gwangju

Food for thought.

Food for thought.

Beauty in the brambles

Beauty in the brambles

Calligraphy and life: "Progress, not perfection" 

Calligraphy and life: "Progress, not perfection" 


Itaewon Eats

by Grace Ko in , ,


Itaewon seems to be "our spot" here in Seoul. For a multitude of reasons (including but not limited to restaurants, shopping, Ben's Cookies, chiropractor), I find myself there time and time again. But hey, I'm not complaining. 

With a few friends, Y and I decided to check out Southside Parlor. And are we glad we did! Their cocktails are tasty and unique, a concoction of distinct flavors. And their sandwiches and tacos are mouthwatering- a special plug for their pulled pork sandwich! 

We also recently went to Craftworks, a home of craft-brewed beers named after the mountains of Korea! 

Y & I had a lunch date the following day at Buddha's Belly, a Thai restaurant. The sun was out and we enjoyed our pad thai, pad see yew and Thai iced tea by the wide-open windows. We soaked in some much needed vitamin D and reminisced of our lunch dates in Manhattan.

Thank you, Itaewon for your eclectic cuisine and for giving us a taste of "home" when we miss it. 


Friday Favorites

by Grace Ko in ,


Long time no Friday Favorites!

My Friday Favorites apologize for having been MIA. But I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that without a Monday-Friday job, my days have been blurring into one another. I often find myself flummoxed trying to figure out what day of the week it is, which can be both a perk and a drawback. 

But this weekend may turn out to be an epic one. Y and I are running our first half marathon! I'm a mix of emotions currently. We've trained for the past two months, and I've been staying hydrated all day, stretched, loaded up on carbs and now I'm preparing for what will hopefully be a good night's rest before race day. 

With that, I wish you all a Happy Friday, a wonderful weekend and will leave you with some of my current favorites. 

Essentials for a cafe trip: current read- Amy Poehler's Yes Please, makeup bag, journals, pen, panama hat, and an iced americano. 

Essentials for a cafe trip: current read- Amy Poehler's Yes Please, makeup bag, journals, pen, panama hat, and an iced americano. 

Gray blue nails + milk tea with boba

Gray blue nails + milk tea with boba

Late night dinner after Monday Night Basketball

Late night dinner after Monday Night Basketball

One of the best noodle dishes I've had here

One of the best noodle dishes I've had here

New favorite bath time essential: Deep Steep Bubble Bath. Delicious scent. Recommendation from  The Belletrist

New favorite bath time essential: Deep Steep Bubble Bath. Delicious scent. Recommendation from The Belletrist