Goodbye MN


Off to a girls’ weekend in the Big Easy!

<3, p.w.m.


Isabella’s First Birthday (Part 3 – Seriously, I know)

or… How to party like a Rockstar!

After a quick wardrobe change, Isabella was back and ready to rock.

Party Time!  Excellent!


A toast and a Korean blessing by grandma, dinner and a slideshow of Isabella’s first 12 months, first steps and first time vomiting on camera.  I’m sure these cherished memories will be replayed for every boyfriend she brings home.

Izzy downed a gallon of miso soup, a cupcake and even helped eat her friends cupcake too.  Afterall, that’s what friends are for, right?

Then Izzy’s parents unveiled her brand-new, fully-loaded, luxury-class, sports tricycle.

“Yeah, check it, that’s a sunroof, rims and detachable snack bag, baby.”

Is it just me, or is this starting to look more and more like an episode of M.TV’s My Super Sweet Six.teen???

All that fun really wore her out.

But in no time she was up and ready for presents!and then daddy was all wore out.

Isabella’s First Birthday (part 2)

How to throw a First Birthday – Korean style.

You will need:

a cute kid


(It’s a shame no one took a pic of the rice cooker conga line)



vat of kimchi

(No Korean party is complete without this!)

and more food

a cake

or two…

party favors

some pretty hanboks

then just add your friends, your family and voila!  or shall I say 짜잔!

Phew!  Easy, right?
Now that the party is all set up it’s time to put the baby to work!

The Doljabi is a “game” *coughritualcough* where the innocent and unsuspecting little one is forced to choose his/her life destiny before a large audience of friends and family.  If the average American teen thinks it’s a lot of pressure to decide at 18… try being a Korean-American 1 year-old!

I kid, I kid.  It really is a game and it’s all in good fun.  Here are the objects her parents selected for her…

Yarn – Long Life
Pencil – Scholarly Ambition
Rice – Abundant and Fruitful Life
Artists Brush and Palette: Artistic Aptitude
Doctor’s Bag – Skill in Medicine
Bag of Coins – Great Wealth
Computer Mouse – Talent in Technology
Guitar – Great Mustical Ability
Bandaged Cat – Gifted Veterinarian
Judges Gavel – Cunning Lawyer

The stakes are high, every good Korean baby knows she is expected to be a doctor, dentist or a lawyer.

Will she honor her parents or follow her dreams?

That’s right go for the money.  It looks just like ravioli and auntie was tipped off on how much you love ravioli!  Grandma also sweetened the deal with 100 big ones…

The bribes are also high, little does she know that her friends and family have actually laid down bets on her choices.

After much indecision and several incidents of being startled by the public’s applause…

Her first selection:

Scholar! and lunch, mmm…

Yes, yes, that’s a good baby, now go for the money!

Tension filled the room again.  Izzy began to reach for an object, but right as the crowd was about to applaud she pulled back.  Again, and again, and again.  She had us right where she wanted us.

Then she choose…


Artist? wait… Huh?  It’s ok Izzy, no one’s disappointed…  Besides there are plenty of witnesses and undeniable photographic proof of your first choice.

haha, just kiddng, geez what is with me tonight?  But really, she’s a smart kid; pleases her parents and follows her dreams 😉

It will be fun to see where life takes her as she grows up.

Isabella’s First Birthday Party! (Part 1)

This post could have been titled so many different things like…

Surviving 21 hours in a car with my mom.


99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer…

A hobbits tale, or there and back again.

Let’s just say, I love my brother, but 10.5 hours each way is pushing it!

However, this little pumpkin?  Totally worth the drive.

Isn’t she just too cute for words?

After a seemingly endless car ride and a big family dinner –  Isabella decided to treat us all to a little piano performance.

such focus

After much convincing, she finally got her old man to accompany her for a duet.

“ok dad, take it from here”

I love how serious they both look

Can’t be serious all the time 🙂

After the evening’s entertainment concluded, the girls set to work finishing the party decorations while my brother and sister-in-law ran last minute errands.

Here is my sister hot gluing beans to an oatmeal cannister masterfully hand-crafting a Dol tower.

Dol towers are…  Well, I don’t know really.  Originally they were stacks of rice cakes that were passed out to guests as party favors.  Each color of the rice cake represents different elements of life: health, safety, purity, honesty, and of course a long life.  Sharing the rice cakes is supposed to help bless the child with each of these things.  Also, they are really yummy and just should be shared!  Today the more modern thing to do is create a series of towers that represent the child.  In our case we had three.  One that represented her chinese zodiac for the year she was born, one that had her Korean name and one that said first birthday.  They are more for decorative purposes and, in a way, maybe a little more practical than trying to consume/pass-off hundreds of rice cakes…

My Grandmother and I working on our tower

Here’s what the finished towers looked like at the party.  Not too shabby, eh?  This was the combined effort of 5 people and many hours.  Now, as long as my family produces female children, cyclically in the year of the tiger, whom all happen to take the Korean name of Min Young, we won’t have to do this again… ever.  Just kidding guys.  It wasn’t THAT bad.

Pics from the party coming next, but for now goodnight!


Weekend Whirlwind

내 조카,이지의 돌잔치 엄마, 할머니와 여동생과 함께 운전!

Roadtrippin’ with my mom, grandma and little sis to my niece, Izzy’s first birthday party!
We are celebrating with a traditional Korean Dol.   Mmm rice cakes, anyone?

Can’t wait to see her all dolled up 🙂

Isabella Sofia 1 week

10 months

Prepare yourself for loads of cuteness. Pending my survival of 21 hours in a car… AHH!



It’s ok, I didn’t get it at first either, but there is actually a little wine country located in the heart of the desert Southwest.

There are 16 established wineries and many more up and coming.  While each location is open for tastings, there is a really warm community atmosphere between the vineyards.  You can buy glasses at any vineyard, do a tasting and take the glasses to the next vineyard for a discounted tasting.  Many of the vineyards are just minutes apart.  It’s a fun way to experience a lot of unique wines and collect a little souvenir along the way too.

We visited three different vineyards right outside of Sierra Vista, AZ.  I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and variety.  Each vineyard offered something entirely distinct and original from the others.

Callaghan Vineyards

Callaghan Vineyard with their beautiful mountain backdrop

This was our first stop.  I’ll admit, we were skeptics!  After having traveled to Napa Valley, I really wasn’t sure what we were getting ourselves into.  However, we were drawn to this vineyard by it’s allure of having been served at the White House.

I do have to say that I’m sorry in advance about the lack of wine reviews.  While I fancy a glass every once in awhile, I am really not too much of a wine connoisseur…

We sampled:

  • The Ann, a 2009 Muscat-y blend
  • Buena Suerte, a spicy 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon blend
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008

I remember really enjoying the cabernet sauv. but after tasting the other two, I might have had a bit of an unfair bias…

Next Stop was Kief-Joshua Vineyards.  We honestly didn’t plan to visit more than one vineyard, but it was literally right up the road and open for tastings.

It was a very gorgeous facility and the tasting room was beautiful.  With that said, what I really admired was their devotion to eco-friendly, holistic and sustainable business practices.

Ok, I’ll admit things get a little bit hazy here.  But not so much because of the wine…  It’s more the fact that it’s been a little over a week since my visit. 😉

Again we sampled three wines.

  • 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Fruity, dry and there was a definite “light grassiness” in the taste.  I remember being slightly puzzled after reading that in the brochure, but it’s there and adds a crisp, summery feel to the wine.
  • 2009 Mourvedre
  • 2009 Tempranillo

Both of the reds that we tried were a little on the strong side for me. This vineyard is advertised as having dry, full-bodied wines and I really feel that was an accurate description.  These were wines that I know would go well with a roast, steak or a hearty pasta dish, but maybe not something I would choose to drink unaccompanied.  Hence, the beauty of a wine tasting.

We were served by the owner himself, Kief Joshua Manning.  A very friendly and knowledgeable guy, but really, it’s hard to believe he is the owner and take in all that he’s done, he looks so young!  Definitely someone who is very driven.  It will be fun to watch how his vineyard evolves in the future.

Again, we thought our tour of AZ wine country was complete, but at the suggestion of Kief Manning we decided to make one last stop to Lightning Ridge Cellars.

Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by the sweetest guard dog I’ve ever met.

“Is this my good side?” – Bruna

I have to say that I really enjoyed our experience at this vineyard.  It was the most intimate of our three stops.  We got to chat quite awhile with one of the owner’s, learn about the vineyard and their experiences as wine-makers.  I also found out that the husband and wife are both engineers!  Awesome!!  Ok, so most of the wine-talk went right over my head, but it was fun to finally relax a bit and talk some shop.  It’s not every day that you meet someone who shares a background in optics.  🙂

Here we tried 4 different wines.

Overall, I enjoyed these selections the most.  And not just because it was made by engineers that happened to fall in love over a cubicle wall, *sigh*  too cute, right?  But because these were more traditional wines, and more along the lines of what I prefer to drink.

To the best my memory serves me…

  • 2008 Muscat Canelli – This was my favorite wine that we tried all day!  I know I’m kinda girly, but I just couldn’t stop thinking how this would be perfect for a knitting night.  A light-sparkling wine that’s floral and fruity but not very sweet.  I cannot wait to share this, but I’m a little nervous about ordering it since it was described as, “Not if it will blow… but when.”  Thankfully fall is moving in and bringing with some cooler temps.  (Ohh, I just learned they don’t ship to MN… sad  )
  • 2008 Montepulciano – Aw, it’s hard to give a review when I just learned that people in North Dakota (of all places!) can enjoy such luxuries when I can’t…
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – I really did enjoy the Montepulciano and the Cabernet.  Both of these wines were they were two smooth, classic red wines that could easily be enjoyed with a nice dinner or alone on an evening in.
  • Afterglow – This was their dessert wine.

Again, this is a fairly young vineyard, so I am excited to see what they produce in the future.  And also hoping that they begin to ship to MN in the future too!

All in all, this was a great way to spend the afternoon.  It was a beautiful drive in the Arizona countryside, a few treacherous “dips”, hairpin turns, and highways without shoulders, but nothing that didn’t add a little adventure to an already pleasant afternoon.