K-Pop Obsessed

It started out simply enough: N and I showed the Gangnam Style video to the kids and they loved dancing around to it and requested to watch it all the time. Then we started watching other K-pop videos on Youtube with the kids. Next, N made me a mix-cd for my birthday so the kids and I could listen to K-pop in the car.  And then I liked it so much that he made me another, and another, and another!

Now, 8 times out of 10 you’re going to hear K-pop playing if you get in my car; N checks allkpop several times a day during his breaks at work; and we watch a few videos together every night, and lately E’s pretend-play centers around being the leader of his own “Big Bang squad.”

This is one of our favorite videos.  It’s kind of epic and I love the operatic sensibility. Also, I have a wee crush on Top (the one with the blue hair).

I know that posting’s been light lately–I’ve been pouring most of my energy into working out and trying to cook healthy meals and in the evenings I just mostly want to crash on the couch and watch tv (and K-pop videos).

But I have some things I want to share so I’m going to buckle down and get on it.  So please don’t give up on me quite yet 🙂

I hope you have a great weekend!

Korean-Themed Gift Ideas

Korean-themed gift ideas: toys, books, art, jewelry

I put together a few gift ideas for kids and adults with ties to Korea. 

1st row
Custom gold and silver Korean necklaces – a few different styles available
Musical soft doll – It plays Arirang.  Maybe next year there will be a model that plays Gangnam Style 🙂
Korable blocks – These lovely blocks are nice for kids or adults who love design. (my review)

2nd row
Bee-Bim Bop! – This was E’s favorite book for a 4 months straight.  Cute illustrations, catchy rhymes.
New Clothes for New Year’s DayBeautiful illustrations.  I’m contemplating getting a second copy just to cut out some of the pages and frame them.
Korean Blocks by Uncle Goose – I like the vintage style of these colorful blocks.  They should last forever.

3rd Row
Howon and Uman by Hosang Park.  I love these photographs of Korean parks. Prints are available in a few different editions, framed and unframed. I’ve bought a few prints from 20×200 and have been happy with every one.

Review: Korable Block

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some holiday gift ideas, mostly for kids because the man in my life mostly wants obscure music CDs and a list of those is unlikely to be helpful to anyone else 🙂

First up is this set of Korean alphabet blocks, Korable Block.

Korean language blocks -  Korable Blocks

I know I’m biased, but I think the Korean alphabet is incredible.  It was invented in 1444 by the Korean king Sejong and consists of vowels and consonants and is basically phonetic.  This means that unlike character-based languages like Chinese it is fairly simple to learn to read and write Korean.

(As I found out during my two years studying Korean in college, understanding what you’re reading is of course a whole other matter.)

Korable Block was invented by Si-Yeon Min, a father, to help his son study the Korean alphabet in a fun way.  These lovely blocks are handmade made in Michigan by Uncle Goose.

You can arrange the blocks to make over 120 common Korean words like numbers, days of the week, foods, body parts, etc…  Below on the left I spelled the Korean word for “door” and the word for “one” is on the right.

Korean language blocks -  Korable Blocks

The full Korable block set ($41.50) comes with four blocks, a wooden tray to house them in, a booklet containing different words you can make, and a signed artist card.  There is also an option of just purchasing the blocks themselves ($17.50).

I like this product a lot.  E doesn’t know how to read Korean yet (we’re working on English first) but I think these blocks will be a fun tool when he starts to learn Hangul.  And they’re so lovely that I think I’ll keep them out for display on my coffee table until then.

The only improvement I would suggest would involve price.  I understand that making small batches of quality toys inherently costs more but I wish that difference between the blocks alone and the full set wasn’t so quite as much.  I would like to get a few of the sets for some of my nieces and nephews but sadly my Christmas budget won’t stretch that far.     

All in all, Korable Block is a great gift for children in your life interested in learning Korean or adults who love design or Korea or both 🙂

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary Korable Block set for the purposes of writing a review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Epic Girls’ Night Out

For me traveling with two kids is more than twice as difficult than traveling with one.  When we went up to WA it seemed like someone was either hungry or tired every other hour (usually Mimi) or playing too rough and running around like crazy (E). 

So while there were days on our trip that I crawled thankfully into bed at 9:30 pm, I did go out for a fun night while my mom watched the kids (thanks again, Mom!)  It was one of the highlights of my trip.

It was an incredible night.  I started the evening by going to a Korean spa.  I love Korean spas and every time I’m in WA I try and make it a priority to go.

I’ve written about the Korean spa experience here, but basically it’s a women-only spa where you relax by soaking in pools of different temperatures.  As soon as you enter you take a shower to make sure you’re all clean and then you soak in these deep hot tubs.  Everyone’s naked except for little shower caps.

After you’ve soaked for a hour or so, you can pay extra and get a body scrub where you lie on a massage table and a middle-aged Korean lady scrubs you all over with abrasive mitts.  The dead skin just pills off and is sloshed down the drain.  It’s very relaxing and afterward my skin is incredibly soft.  I love getting a scrub!

When I told my friends in Utah how eager I was to go to the spa and I explained about the body scrubs, I got some blank looks.  Some of my friends said they couldn’t imagine being naked in front of others like that. I’ll admit that I still get a little nervous every time I first walk into the spa–there’s that “Aagh! I’m naked!” moment–but I get over it in a millisecond.  It’s a very relaxed and supportive atmosphere–I feel less body-conscious there than I would at a beach. 

Away, enough about semi-public nudity.  After I left the spa with my silky-smooth skin I met my friend Carol for dinner at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ place.  I first met Carol on the study abroad trip that I went on in college (which was where N and I got to be good friends too) and I love catching up in person with her.  (Here’s a picture of all of us on our study abroad trip.) 

After a delicious dinner, Carol generously treated me to a Chinese foot massage which was incredible!  They massaged our feet, but also our shoulders, backs, legs, and arms.  When it was over I felt like a limp noodle: a limp noodle with a full tummy and super smooth skin. I wish we had foot massage places like that here in Utah! 

Going to the spa, catching up with a good friend over Korean BBQ, and getting a foot massage–a month later that evening still shimmers in my mind like a dream. 

MeeMaw’s Birthday

My mom is in town to attend BYU’s Women’s Conference with some of her friends. Earlier this week was her birthday so my sister Jan, who is an AMAZING cook, whipped up some tasty Korean food and I picked up a Costco cake (I have ambitions but am sadly basically useless in the Korean kitchen).

Singing “happy birthday” and blowing out candles proved to be so much fun that the grandkids wanted to have turns at it too.

Multiple times 🙂

For your Friday

Behold the power of 80s pop music! It can bring together North Korean musicians and Norwegian shipwrights!

We have an exciting weekend ahead of us. We’re on pins and needles waiting for the arrival of a new nephew who’s going to be born today(!!!) and then tomorrow we’re celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday (and getting a cake from our favorite vegan bakery)!

So yeah, a new baby + yummy cake = awesomeness (and an excuse for lots of !!!)

Have a lovely weekend!

Coming up for air

Phew! After being laid low over the weekend by a nasty stomach bug things are finally getting back to normal. Sweet Mimi is still a little under the weather but E and I are back to normal and lucky N managed to avoid the whole thing.

I have some things I’m working on but in the mean time, you should totally watch this video.

(Found via Asian Mommy)

Aren’t they amazing? Back in college I attended a casual Taekwondo class with the kids from my Korean class but watching this makes me want to sign up for real classes. It looks so much fun and what great exercise!