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Reasons Why I Love Spring // Spring Happy List

While spending the past week and a half in Atlanta with my family, I was reminded of how beautiful and green Georgia is. Something to be missed when you live in the desert! Since spring is so short-lived here, I wanted to take the moment to appreciate it before it’s gone.

Dandelion Pictures & Dandelion Photography | Pictures of springtime | Why I Love Spring.

Reasons Why I Love Spring // My Spring Happy List:
  1. Driving with the windows down. I was meant to own a convertible.
  2. Festivals. Food festivals, music festivals, etc. I love that there’s always something happening.
  3. Strawberry picking season. I hear Camarillo has the best strawberries in Cali. ALSO means time for donut man!
  4. Attempting gardening (again). I’ve enjoyed watching my mom garden, but I don’t seem to have her green thumb.
  5. Spring cleaning. Seeing everyone else collectively clean this time of year inspires me to shuffle some things around.
  6. The days are longer. I feel more productive when we can do a lot more while the sun’s out.
  7. More sunlight. I never realized this until recent years, but having more sun actually affects my mood & makes me happier.
  8. BBQs and Crawfish Boils. Oh man! I miss the South. At least we have our open container policy -> Picnics with booze.
  9. Flip flops & Sundresses. I like to wear them year round as long as there is no snow, but now I look “normal”.
  10. Hiking. I think we can fit in one more trip to Red Rock Canyon and possibly Valley of Fire!
  11. Spring flowers & cherry blossoms. I LOVE cherry blossoms. Have you seen my cherry blossoms in Kyoto post?
  12. Smell of freshly cut grass. Even having grass is a big deal in Vegas.
  13. Easter. It’s always a great reminder. And I love seeing pinteresting egg crafts.
  14. Making wishes. And spreading dandelions all over the neighborhood. ;) OOPS!
  15. Everything starts anew. Even though you make resolutions in January, I feel like I can hit the reset button in Spring.

Also, a little more about the above photo. I’ve realized after spending hours trying to capture that cliche photo of the dandelion with the one seedling flying away… there is no way that it’s not photoshopped. They do not perfectly fly one by one in the direction that you want. It’s hard for me to believe there is someone out there that would patiently wait for possibly days for that key moment. I suppose the natgeo photogs do it though. My poor mom had to sit there with me and repeatedly try to blow the perfect amount of air.

This one was the closest I got to getting that “perfect” dandelion photo (*SIGH* out of focus seedling):

Some see a weed some see a wish quote | Dandelion images | Pictures of spring season | Why I Love Spring.

Also from mom’s garden, these are what baby peaches look like!:
Georgia peaches | Pictures of springtime | Why I Love Spring.

Her strawberry patch. You can see the growth of new strawberries.
Strawberry Patch | Pictures of springtime | Why I love spring.

My mom is so proud of her garden. She would stop and point out each plant or flower growing in her backyard and ask me to photograph them, even the wildflowers (though some would call them weeds).
Why I love spring | Pictures of springtime.

Teeny tiny spring flowers | Why I love spring | Pictures of spring season.

All photos were taken with a Canon 5d Mark III and 50 mm / 1.2L lens.

Spring is also the theme for this month’s lovely letters snail mail exchange. What’s your favorite thing about spring?

This is week 32 of practicing gratitude. 20 more weeks to go! Click the banner below to see my previous gratitude posts:
This is week 32 of practicing gratitude on why I love spring.
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{Announcement} Lovely Letters // A Snail Mail Exchange

While I’ve been hanging with the fam, Jacob sent me a card to remind me that I’m still married. Guess it’s no secret that I love snail mail.

Snail mail from my eternal penpal

For those of you who love snail mail too, I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be hosting my very first link-up! Lauren and I had met through Melyssa’s Snail Mail Collective, and we were both sad to see it end. We loved our past experiences with it that we wanted to continue connecting with other bloggers through the mutual love for snail mail.

So here’s how it’s going down. If you want to participate:

  1. Sign up here. Sign ups will be open from the 1st until the 6th midnight EST, but since this is the first one we’re starting it early.
  2. Get your partner & start chatting. We will email out your partner pairings by the 9th, and you can start getting to know your partner through blog stalking, social media, skype, or however you like. If your partner does not contact you or respond within 2 days of being paired please email esther or lauren so we can attempt to pair you with someone on the waiting list. Also, email us if you have missed the sign up by 3 or less days and want to be on the waiting list.
  3. Send your lovely letters & packages no later than the 20th. There is a $5 limit and optional monthly themes.
  4. Link up! If you write a blog post about your experience, don’t forget to link up back here on the last day of the month.
May’s theme for the Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange:
The theme of lovely letters snail mail exchange for may is spring.

This means while you are putting together your packages, find things that remind you of spring

We would love for you to participate and share about this project to others who would too!

Please grab a button here:

LovelyLetters Snail Mail Exchange Button.

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange"><img src="" data-lazyload-src="" alt="Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


For more detailed info READ THIS. If you want to tweet about it, you can use the hashtag #lovelyletters or tag @estherjulee to possibly be retweeted.

In addition to Lovely Letters, I’ve been wanting to do something fun like Erika’s 101 postcard project, I don’t know if it will be 101 postcards to be exact, but I hope to send out more mail and words of encouragement this year. I figure if my main love language is words of affirmation, it might be the same for some of you too. Let me know in the comments below if you would like to receive a handwritten postcard from us. Depending on the response, we’ll decide on how many we’ll send out this year.

Out of the five love languages, which way do you feel most loved, and which way do you express love?

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Korean Dried Squid Recipe (마른 오징어채무침)

This was one of my fave side dishes I loved growing up, and Jacob loves this one too! My aunt actually makes it the best, so her version of the recipe or a variation of it has been passed around our family.

While I was spending time at my family’s over my grandma’s near death experience, it made me realize that I must never take anything for granted. You never know when it will be the last time you see someone. I need to spend quality time with them, tell them I love them (super weird for verbally non affectionate koreans), and hear their stories. I have a lot to learn. I was never big on heirlooms or traditions,but I am starting to see how valuable they are in connecting generations of family.

Korean Banchan Recipes // South Korean Food Recipes.

I’ve never really felt the need to learn how to make korean food until more recently. This past year, I learned how to make my mom’s kimchi and have been trying my best to learn all the basics of korean cooking. While home, we knocked out several new korean banchan recipes including this one. Thanks for teaching me umma (mom)!

Korean Dried Squid Recipe // Korean Banchan Recipes // South Korean Food Recipes.

Korean Dried Squid Recipe // Korean Banchan Recipes // South Korean Food Recipes.

Korean Banchan Recipes | Seasoned Dried & Shredded Squid (마른 오징어채무침):



  1. Mix all the ingredients except the squid in a small bowl to make a paste
  2. In a larger bowl, mix the paste evenly with the dried squid and massage in for approx 3 minutes.
  3. Serve! Refrigerate what’s leftover. You can keep this for a couple weeks.

So simple and can take less than 5 minutes. In case you’re not very familiar with korean food, “banchan” are small korean side dishes. Koreans usually eat rice with a variety of banchan, and they often make them to store in the fridge for many future meals since you are eating smaller amounts of a variety of dishes. You can go here to find a pretty comprehensive list of different banchan.

What are some recipes or traditions you hope to pass down?

I do a recipe a month, and you can check out some of the others if you click on the banner below:
Recipe of the month banner. You can click through to see other recipes.

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Spending Quality Time with Grandma & Update On Her Health

It was Thursday around 3AM when I received a call from my mom letting me know my halmoni (grandma) was sick and was unlikely to make it. Halmoni had been like a mom to me. She raised me while my mom was getting her Ph.D. There was a time when I actually thought she was my biological mom.

All the signs were telling us that death was near. She slept all day, and when my mom persistently questioned her, she could barely peel her eyes open. She had labored breathing and her words were no longer coherent. My whole family had caught pneumonia, and halmoni being 96 had the worst of it. Was it okay to fall apart now? Do I have to stay strong on behalf of my mom? Does it get easier to cope with death as you get older? Seems so.  Is it because it’s all around you and you’re more aware of the inevitable? Is it just selfish for me to want her to live when her pain just gets progressively worse?

While I was distraught, Jacob calmly packed my things and booked the quickest flight for me back to Atlanta. It was the next evening when I found her on the floor of her room unable to move. I held her hand and as I started asking her questions, it came as a surprise to all of us that she began speaking back.

Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma.

By the next day she regained enough energy to sit up by herself if we propped her up. And then a few hours after that, I saw her stand up and wobble over to the bathroom. It really was a miracle. She started dancing, arms only since she can only move so far. She sang how grateful she was to be alive again. Despite all the pain, she was so grateful.
Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma.

Thankfully now she has almost recovered fully from pneumonia, but I am learning how fragile she still is. A few days ago she fell, and I have to accept that this will be a normal occurrence. She gets a little better and then worse. A little better and then worse. You never know when it will happen. Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that she has been prepared and willing… maybe even hoping… for death to come. But I am asking myself.. Am I prepared to let her go? I really can’t stop crying whenever I think about it.
Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma.

Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma.

From this experience, I’m thankful to be reminded how important it is to make time for those you love. You really never know when it will be the last time. I kept feeling regret that I didn’t come back home to visit enough or call home enough. I am grateful that we have been given another chance to love her the best we can for whatever time she has left with us. I’m also grateful that she has her joyful smile back. You can really see the difference just on her face. This one was taken yesterday:
Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma

I’m so thankful for all your kind words, thoughts, and prayers over the past week or so. It was such a difficult week for the family, and I really appreciate the support. I had started prepping and editing my favorite photos of her while here, so I will eventually share those, but for now you can find more here, a couple here, and on instagram.

Sorry I didn’t have a travel tuesdays post yesterday. Unlike a good blogger, I haven’t had much scheduled ahead of time. This is week 31 of practicing gratitude. 21 more weeks to go! Click the banner below to see my previous gratitude posts:

This is week 31 of practicing gratitude on Dealing with Death & Spending Quality Time with Grandma.

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

We went on our first hike at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area a few weeks ago. We had signed up for a hiking meetup and then quickly learned that we have only been equipped to do level 2 hiking, so we ended up exploring a level 2 hike on our own. I guess in all my life my perception of hiking was that it required your feet but very little of your hands. If you had to use your hands, that was climbing.. or so I thought.

We did the Red Springs Loop or some people call part of it the Calico Loop. There was some scrambling but nothing where I felt like I was in danger. There were many trails that ultimately led to the Saddle or Guardian Angel Pass and on the way we saw several people bouldering:

Bouldering at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Guardian Angel Pass or the Saddle | Red Rock Canyon Hiking.

Guardian Angel Pass or The Saddle | Hiking Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Flowers on Red Rock Canyon Trails | Red Springs Loop or Calico Loop.
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