April 28, 2011

The Royal Life

Forget the royal wedding.   I have my own princes (or " wangjas" as we call them in Korean) to cater to.  These boys are living the life of royalty.

As I'm huffing, puffing, and breaking a sweat pushing them around in the double stroller, they've got their feet kicked up, enjoying the ride and the cool breeze with their snugly friends.

Man, life is good at their age.

They better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because before they know it, they'll be pushing me and Daddy around in our wheelchairs.  We'll see who's going for a joy ride then.  ;)

April 26, 2011

A Celebration Feast

Easter is probably the most significant holiday in our family, and yet, we have never formally gathered together to celebrate the occasion over a meal.  I think it's more of a Western tradition and it's not one either of our families adopted along the 30-plus-years of assimilation in the U.S.  Well, we wanted to change that this year.  So we gathered with good friends after church to celebrate the risen Savior over a simple Korean feast (it also happened to be my wedding anniversary).

These beauties, a Korean dish known as galbi (marinated beef short ribs), served as the main entree.

I'm actually not a big red meat eater (in fact, I abstained from it all throughout college and then for some period afterwards).  It wasn't until I started dating my husband (who could probably eat a whole cow straight from the slaughterhouse) that I started eating red meat again.  But only galbi and bulgogi - both marinated in a special sauce consisting of soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic.  I don't know what it is about that sauce, but it's the only way I can eat and appreciate red meat.  I still cannot bring myself to eat steak or burgers (much to my husband's dismay).

My husband marinated and baked the galbi to perfection.  The secret is in the sauce, which I'll save for a future post.

If you saw the way I devoured these short ribs, you'd never guess red meat and I are not the best of friends.

Complementing the galbi was a host of popular Korean side dishes.

Here we have the seafood pancake ("haemul pajeon").

I wanted to keep it very simple, so I used the prepared pancake mix and added a few, basic ingredients:  scallions, spicy Korean red peppers, and seafood medley (which consisted of squid, shrimp, and clam).

I used the same pancake mix to make fried battered sweet potato (goguma twigim).  I simply sliced the sweet potato into thin pieces, steamed it until tender, poured it into the mix, and then fried it with vegetable oil.

And then lastly, we had vegetable and meat dumplings (mandoo).  I wish I could claim I made these from scratch, but I didn't have the time.  These are of the store bought, packaged variety, nevertheless, very good.

Then we finished off with dessert.  A trio of Junior's cheesecake samples (lemon coconut, red velvet, and devil's food chocolate).  Chocolate was my favorite.

Food coma slowly started to set in, so we thought it would be a good idea to get some exercise and let the kids out for the Easter egg hunt.

Nate ran as fast as his little legs could take him.

The boys loved every minute of it.

And when all was said and done, everyone had a fabulous time and we relished this gift of life - now and forever - graciously given to us through a great act of love.  This is the first of many Easter gatherings to come for our family.


April 23, 2011

Celebrating Love and Life

This year, our wedding anniversary falls on Easter Sunday.  According to Answers.com, this will only occur in 2011 and 2095 in this century, so I want to relish it.  The significance of this is not lost on me.  I celebrate the two greatest loves of my life on this dedicated occasion.  And both their names just happen to start with the letter "J".

I celebrate the one here on earth, who six years ago promised to hold and love me for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.  And in those six years, he has loved me through the good and the bad, the fun times and the rather awful, and exercised forgiveness and grace when it would have been easier to walk through the front door and not look back.  I've done the same for him.

And I rejoice in the One, the King, who thousands of years ago was promised to us, humbly came to earth born in a manger, and lived a brief but perfect and righteous life only to endure an awful death and the wrath of hell for my sake.  In the greatest act of love, He took on the punishment that should have been mine instead of walking away and turning His back.  He died and rose again so that death can never keep us apart.


April 21, 2011

Compost Salad with a Side of Hairball

April 22nd is Earth Day.   In celebration, I'd like to share with you a recipe that's made every day in our house.  It's so simple, my 2-year-old can make it with his eyes closed!  The beauty of this recipe is that it requires no measurements, no cooking, and you already have all the necessary ingredients.  And it's great for the earth!

First, you take some egg shells:

Then you throw in a couple banana peels:

Then add chopped watermelon rinds:

Some onion peel:

For added fragrance, throw in a couple used tea bags (the one shown is Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry but really any flavor will do):

Some coffee grinds and filter (there's never a shortage of this in our house):

And when you're done wiping down the counter, you can throw in the paper towel:

And the piece de resistance?  Dryer lint with just a touch of dog hair to add a nice garnish:

And if you really want to go all out and impress your guests, you can also add the hairball from the shower.  But I'll spare you the image because even that would gross me out.

Then you take all this, mix it in a large bowl, and it's ready to serve! 

Okay, because you just never know who's reading this and thinking "really?", here's the disclaimer.  No, not really.  PLEASE DO NOT actually try to serve this to anyone.  Unless it's your pet rat, in which case means we could probably never be friends. I HATE rats.

All these ingredients actually go into a plastic pail like this one:

And then when the pail is full, the contents make their way to The Earth Machine.  Meet Beartha.  She sits in the far back corner of our backyard.

The contents will eventually decompose and look something like this:

In summary, composting is one of the easiest ways to reuse and recycle.  Our town actually encourages it and supplies the Earth Machine at a fraction of the cost.  It even comes with a helpful handbook.   

So why compost?
This article on Planet Green does a good job of summarizing the benefits of composting.  Waste reduction, methane reduction, and free fertilizer.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  What could be a better reason?

What can you compost?
You'd be surprised.  Here's a fabulous list from Planet Green.  Almost everything but the kitchen sink!

How do I get started?
Purchase or make your own compost bin (Simple Mom offers a great tutorial on how to make your own using a trash can).   If you don't want to bother making one, be sure to check with your town before purchasing a bin.  Many counties encourage composting and will provide a bin at discount.

I live in a small space.  Can I still compost? 
Absolutely!   Here's some great tips from Planet Green on how you can compost in a small space.  You can use worm bins and/or Bokashi.  I'm not very familiar with these, but I'd love to hear how it's working for you if this is your method of composting.

What about the smell?  Doesn't compost reek?
If you're doing it properly, it shouldn't give off a bad odor.  If it does start to smell, turn it to help air it out and add "browns" (i.e. leaves, paper napkins and towels) to dry it out.   

How long before you get compost you can use?
Depending on how well it's cared for, you can get usable compost in as little as 6 weeks.  But 6 months is probably the average.

So my question to you:  Are you making this recipe at home?
If you're composting, I'd love to see your pictures!  Yes, really.  I never knew taking pictures of trash could be so fun until this project (granted it would have been better with the digital SLR but that's in the shop).  :)   I've love to see your compost pile.  Just post them on the Eaternal Bliss facebook page.  

And if you're not already composting, I hope you found this post informative and would at least consider it.   I think you'd find that it really is a simple way to reuse and recycle.  I'm happy to answer any questions you might have if you can't find what you're looking for on the internet.

Happy Earth Day!


April 19, 2011

Chocolate is the Winner

Thank you all for sharing your favorite cupcake flavors in this post!  It seems like chocolate is definitely a winner.  Speaking of chocolate cupcakes, I had a couple friends tell me they made Alice's Espresso Chocolate Cupcake last week and loved it as well!  So be sure to keep that in your repertoire if you're ever in need of a great chocolate cupcake recipe.  And Alice just posted a recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting on Savory Sweet Life which would go perfectly with the cupcakes.  I wanted to lick the monitor as soon as I saw it!

And now I'm looking at Hello, Cupcake! for some Easter inspirations.  How cute would this be?

So here are the winners of a free copy of Hello, Cupcake!:

KarenP who said:
Sometimes I'm in the mood for chocolate, and sometimes I want vanilla cupcakes!

Fresh Local and Best who said:
I am going to have to bookmark this recipe! I love coffee flavored desserts, and this one looks really good! I like so many cupcake flavors it's hard to say just one. If I had to choose a favorite it would be chocolate, not very original, but very reliable. 

Thank you for sharing, and I'd love to see what you create using this book!

April 17, 2011

Death Stare at the Zoo

The county zoo is five minutes from our house so we tend to make frequent trips there whenever the weather is decent (and it's free before the summer).  The animals have always been kind of shy, hiding behind the rocks or tucked in the corner and never looking at the camera.  But this past Friday's trip was a different story.  The day turned into a staring contest between the boys and these critters:

{ the lizard godfathers: "don't ask us about our business" }

{ "whatchoo lookin' at willis?" }

{ we think this orange monkey was dyed blue for his part in the wizard of oz }

{ cj asks me, "why are cow's udders on his neck?" to which i had no answer. }

{ nate and the goat got into a "baaah"-ing match.  it's the only sound he knows how to make besides "vroom vroooom" and "choo-choo". }

{ the mountain lion looked like he was ready to pounce. thank goodness for the fence. }

{ cj staring down the turtle }

{ but this little guy wins the death stare award for the day }

{ it made this bird run. }

April 14, 2011

Bocca di Nonna Cookies ("Grandmother's Kisses")

These have easily become my favorite cookies, and I think the folks I've made them for would agree (at least my husband does).  With just the right combination of chocolate, almonds, and hazelnut, this crunchy bite hits the spot.  I saw the recipe while flipping through my trusty Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens, and it peaked my interest. 

I was curious what bocca di nonna meant so I googled it.  It's Italian for "Grandmother's kisses".  It then quickly took on sentimental value as I thought of my own maternal grandmother, and the way her kisses, sweet smile, and powerful prayers would move you in an instant.  She lost her battle to lung cancer and passed away six months ago. 

{ holding her great-granddaughter,
my niece.  photo by sun yun. }
It's still hard to believe she's not here.  She was an incredible influence and example in my life and still is.  I paid tribute to her in a eulogy given at her memorial service attended by hundreds who expressed their condolences.   She was greatly loved.  I realize how fortunate I was to share a good portion of my life with her.  She was there to see me graduate from high school, get my college degree, walk down the aisle to say "I do", and hold and kiss my two boys.  She was there for me through it all.

My entire family took the loss very hard.  It was painful watching her suffer in her last days as the cancer spread rapidly throughout her body.  Yet she remained resilient and filled with praise even to the end.  My sweetest memory of her last days occurred while she was in the ICU and had been unresponsive for over a week.  My mother, cousin, and I were in the room with her, and I softly sang "Amazing Grace" into her ears.  After a few stanzas, my mother jumped up from her seat and pointed at my grandmother's face.  The corner of her mouth had turned up ever so slightly.  It was the smile that brought me and my mother to tears.  I lovingly kissed my grandmother on the forehead knowing she was going home to see her heavenly Father soon.

I know for certain she still sends her kisses down from heaven, and one day, she'll adorn me with them again face to face.

So these cookies will hold a special place in my heart, because I'll think of her every time I make them.  I adapted the recipe a bit.  First I substituted white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour, and it tastes great.  I also used ground raw almonds instead of blanched.  To grind them, coarsely chop 1 1/2 cup whole almonds and then put them in a food processor or blender until they're finely ground. Finally, I used Nutella for the filling instead of the suggested earl grey ganache (although that sounds delightful and I'll have to give it a try).

These are very simple to make.  They're quite splendid on their own, but the Nutella takes it to a whole new level of sweet indulgence.

What recipe reminds you of your grandmother?

Bocca di Nonna Cookies with Hazelnut Filling
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
{Makes 24 cookie sandwiches; Prep time: 30 minutes; Chill time: 1 hour; Bake time: 12 minutes per batch}

2/3  cup white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
2  tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4  teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2  cups finely ground raw almonds
Nutella spread for filling

  1. In a small bowl, stir together flour and cocoa powder; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.   Add sugar and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl occasionally.  Beat in almonds.  Beat in flour mixture just until mixture is combined. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until it is easy to handle.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil; set aside.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.  Press each ball to flatten slightly.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm.  Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rack.  Remove cooled cookies from cookie sheet. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the nutella on the flat side of one cookie and top with another cookie, making a sandwich.  Makes 24 sandwich cookies.
  5. Place sandwich cookies in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

April 12, 2011


{ building something new every day }

The beauty of playing legos with your child is that you never make the same thing twice.  Today CJ wanted to make a "sleeping place" for his cars (he loves his beloved cars).  So we made this nice little tower for them to rest in.

And here lies an analogy for life (I do love analogies).  You take the "pieces" you have - nothing different from what you've had yesterday or the day before - and you build something new.

I've been in that process of "rebuilding" the past several weeks.  The "pieces" in my life just didn't seem to fit into place, and it all seemed to crumble around me.   I often wished for better and newer "pieces" thinking it would somehow solve all my problems and that I could build something better for myself.  And sure, new pieces do help sometimes and can be great fun.

But the pieces in my life are the same as they were weeks before.   However, God's been good in showing me how vital each one is and the potential for the new and beautiful things waiting to be built and created with them each and every day.

Tomorrow, CJ and I will take these same lego pieces and build a farm with animals and all.  He's quite good at making horses out of them.

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