Banter (Sullivan Street) – Aussie Cafe near NYU

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Fancy brunch spots are nice when you get the change, but nothing is more relaxing and satisfying than sipping on some coffee at a cozy, quiet cafe. Last week, I had the pleasure of discovering this new Austrailian cafe super close to school! My friend and I walked in on a Thursday evening, and we were immediately greeted by a coffee counter with a giant espresso machine – and some nice Austrailian baristas/waiters who guided us to a table.

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Korea Haul | Winter 2017

Since I will probably have to move later this year, I didn’t want to buy and bring back a lot of stuff with me from Korea this winter break. Nevertheless, there were some essentials and cool items that I could not help but purchase… and here they are! This year, my purchases seem to be heavily leaning towards products from Innisfree (understandably because there are no store in New York and it happens to be one of my favorite brands). Anyway, let’s dive in!

[SKINCARE]

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1.Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Mist. This is a frequent repurchase item for me, and Innisfree stores often have great deals for these facial mists. I got two bottles for the price of one, and these travel-sized bottles are great to carry around in my purse as well. It has a very refreshing scent, and with the heater on when the weather is cold outside, this is a must-have item to keep your face moisturized. One thing to remember is to NOT shake the bottle – otherwise it will spray in little blotches.

2.Innisfree Green Barley Multi-cleansing Tissue. I had just run out of makeup removing wipes when I arrived in Seoul, so this was one of the first items I bought in Korea. I remember one of my high school friends telling me that Innisfree’s facial wipes were famous, so I decided to try them out! Indeed, these wipes make my skin feel super clean and effectively removes all of my face makeup. However, it’s not so good at taking down that waterproof mascara… I would suggest going in with an eye makeup remover beforehand. I rather like the slightly oily feeling the wipes leave on my skin, because I often hang around the house for a good while after using one of these wipes to take off most of my makeup. That lotion-y effect keeps my skin hydrated before I cleanse further right before bed.

3.Missha Super Aqua PORE-Kling Toner. This one takes the cake for the most surprisingly great skincare purchase this winter. Originally around $11-12, I found this toner on sale for just around $3. I had for some reason only brought a travel-sized bottle of toner, so this seemed like a good purchase. I figured that must be a reason for the sale, but this toner is actually pretty good! It contains sparkling water from Napoli, Italy that has fine bubbles rich in potassium. It’s supposed to tighten and purify the pores, and I think it does a good job. The bottle carries 180 ml of product, which was more than a generous amount for me to douse my face in this freshly-scented toner water day and night for an entire month (I’ve used up less than a quarter so far). I like the minimal design and the lightness of the bottle, and overall, highly recommend this toner!

4.Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Blackhead Out Balm. Did you know that pore strips are actually worse for your pores in the long run? I might still go for one (just to feel that satisfaction of pulling out the gunk and seeing it happen) from time to time, but I was looking for a milder alternative for getting rid of white/blackheads when I found this balm. Before cleansing, I just take a dime-sized amount and massage it onto my nose and chin area, and the product draws out all the sebum and melts away the blackhead. It’s somewhat less satisfying than a pore strip, but I think it’s healthier for my pores.

[MAKEUP]

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Seoulful Moments: Winter in Korea

It’s the first day of my last semester as an undergrad today… but I just can’t seem to break out of winter break mode! On that note, I wanted to share the fun times I had in Korea over the winter.

Except for my family’s little hiatus in Busan, I spent most of my break in Seoul. I edited the footage in three parts – and here they are!

Family Trip to Busan!

This past weekend, my family took a pretty spontaneous trip down to Busan. This time, none of us were driving; instead, we took the KTX bullet train, which took us approximately 2 hours for a trip that would have taken more than 4 hours by car. The last time I had been to Busan was in elementary school for a brief summer trip to the beach, and I barely remember it; this one was much more memorable, and filled with amazing food as well! Here’s a video of our trip:

Read on for more details about our journey!

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Goodbye 2016, It’s Been Real.

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It’s 2017, and the time has come to reflect on the past year and make new goals for the new year. A lot happened last year. I tried a lot of new things, and I grew a lot over those twelve months. I have to say that my 2016 was a pretty good year, and a really LONG one! Honestly, I was scrolling through old pictures from earlier in 2016 and didn’t even realize that all of those things had happened in the same year.

While reminiscing, I stumbled upon the new year’s resolution post I made back in the beginning of 2016 and decided to see if I lived up to any of those…

1. MORE QUIET TIME.

Using a busy schedule or homework as an excuse is just a way of pushing my faith out of my priorities, so I’m going to try to read the Bible at least twice a week.

I think I kept the goal of reading the Bible at least twice a week pretty consistently. It was hard at times because schoolwork or other commitments seemed like they should be my priorities, but I made it through by always reminding myself that this was just as important, if not more.

2016 was a time of both growth and challenges for my faith. The small groups at my church were reorganized, so I had to start leading a whole new group of people. But thanks to the grace of God, all of my group members were amazingly willing to listen and share what they felt about the sermon, their faith, and how the words of God apply to their own daily lives. We also had one week where we designated one person to each day of the week, so we could write compliments and praises for that person in our group chat – I was so surprised that every single member remembered to post, and they really put a lot of effort into writing those words of love for each other. I have to say it was quite a heartwarming week. My large group was awesome as well. my aunt has been battling cancer for a while now, and her condition had just been getting worse and worse; she had been transported to a hospital in Seoul for emergency treatment, and I didn’t even hear the new until I had come back from my trip during spring break! It killed me that I was in Europe enjoying a nice break while she was in pain at the hospital. I shared this struggle with my large group, and they always remembered to pray for her and ask me how she was doing every Sunday. At one gathering, they actually wrote a card for my aunt (who doesn’t go to church) along with a book, so that they could send it to my aunt’s address in Korea. I honestly was not expecting anything like that, and I felt so touched and overwhelmed by all of their kind hearts. I could not be more thankful for my church family.

(I soon got a message from my aunt – who is currently at a hospice in Cheonan – that she had received the gifts and will not give up her battle against cancer.)

I am so thankful that I am spiritually growing year after year, and I am so glad to have friends around me that I can share these thoughts with. Truthfully, I had moments where I tried to suppress myself from doing what I wanted or taking on new challenges because I thought my religion would condemn it for some reason. But I realized that maybe I was relying more on what others would think of me that what God would think of me. 2016 was a time of redefining and relearning these values to get a fresh perspective of what God would want me to do with my life. I want to live a colorful life rich with meaningful experiences and goodness, all the while walking with God. Nothing that I have achieved so far could have happened without His help, and I hope to be in constant communication with God in my everyday decisions. Yes, I know I’m going to feel lost sometimes, but if I have my heart and eyes set on God, I know that wherever I go, I will eventually be led back to the right path.

2. BE HEALTHIER

Take those vitamins. Go to the gym at least once a week. I tend to become really lazy with healthy eating during the semester, so eating clean is another one of the to-do list.

I was in a fitness rut after I had finished that 10K in November of 2015 – I admit that I was pretty bad with going to the gym during the school week, but I think I tried to go at least once every week in the spring and summer. In May, my friend told me about a Groupon deal for a month of unlimited hot yoga classes, so I tried hot yoga for the first time! I sweated in places that I didn’t know could sweat, and at time it felt like real torture… but after every class, walking out to the breezy street felt wonderful, and I think those classes really detoxify and renew your body!

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During the fall semester, I was really bad with going to the gym (I ended up canceling my membership after a whopping two years of attendance). I was bad. But while I could use my full load of classes and a tutoring job as an excuse, I did successfully make a lifestyle change that helped me a lot: I walked to class. Prior to the fall semester, I had been taking the subway to school. But this time, I decided to save some cash on unlimited subway passes and take a long walk to school. It’s about a 45-minute walk from my apartment to NYU, which was totally doable during the warmer months, but it did become somewhat challenging once the weather started to get colder. However, I managed to survive the whole semester having commuted by subway only two times! I think this really helped me build a healthier lifestyle, and I also lost close to ten pounds, which I credit to this habit (power-walking when you’re late to class is actually a pretty good workout!)

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Around mid-November, I also started taking vitamins every morning. In terms of healthy eating, I think I did watch my portions, but I’m still really bad with watching the kinds of foods I eat… I still give in to the occasional guilty dessert or the sweet potato fries. But I think as long as I move around a lot and stay active, a splurge here and there won’t be too bad, will it?

3. BE MORE PRODUCTIVE

Definitely blog more, photograph more, and channel my creativity into tangible results. Some ideas I’ve been toying around are writing a journal, playing more violin, and getting into crafts/painting. No more scrolling endlessly through Facebook.

In 2016, I played in the community orchestra during the spring semester. Also, I really tried to channel my creativity into photography and blogging. In fact, I opened a YouTube channel where I document my travels, and I realized that creating videos is so much fun! From then on, I try to carry my DSLR around to document and cherish the small things I experience, so we’ll see how 2017 goes with my vlogging.

A lot of the photography I do of my daily life can be accessed on my Instagram, where I love to post photos (all taken and edited by me). This year, I had the pleasure of having my photos and jewelry featured in various Instagram accounts as well as articles online!
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I found other ways to be productive as well. After my summer internship, I found a tutoring job for the fall semester, and also got to design logos for the water bottles and T-shirts needed by a school club that I’m involved in. After arriving in Seoul, I picked up some pens and sketchbook, and I’ve already been making some drawings. Things like these – creating and experimenting – are what really relaxes me and makes me happy.

4. FEAR LESS, LIVE MORE.

I consider myself an ambivert – I enjoy socializing and meeting new people, but I need my alone time to process everything and recharge. Because of this, I sometimes tend to hide away and shut out everything else. In 2016, I want to be less afraid to feel more. I want to be there for other people. I want to show more kindness.What fun is it to stay in boring perfection when you can experience so much more by stepping outside of your comfort zone?

In 2016, I definitely stepped outside of my comfort zone. Besides opening myself up to make friends with a lot more people, I tried so many new things and was lucky enough to learn from many of those experiences.

These experiences include:

  • Traveling to Europe
  • Starring in a promotional video
  • Getting a full-time job offer
  • Going skiing
  • Celebrate an anniversary
  • Going to a hookah bar in NYC
  • Getting Lasik surgery (contacts and glasses, goodbye forever!!!)
  • Going to model auditions for a fashion show
  • Turning 21
  • Seeing Justin Bieber at a Duane Reade
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving in suburbia
  • Getting self-cut bangs
  • Leading a small group
  • Shooting a handgun

(And oh, there are so many more.)

I cannot believe that I was blessed enough to experience all of these things for the first time in 2016.

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I was blessed enough to experience all of these things for the first time in 2016. Of course, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. Mistakes and misfortunes happened, but I think I’ve learned to troubleshoot and deal with problems instead of wallowing in them. I hope 2017 will be another year full of happiness, love, and good news. This year, I don’t want to make grand plans to become a new person. I just want to keep growing, but as me. I want to become someone who gives more love, shows more kindness, possesses more courage and confidence, tries new things without fear, and someone who stays busy striving to make each moment meaningful.

And of course, I’ll share those moments along the way 🙂

Happy 2017!

 

Baking: Egg-free Cinnamon Sugar Scones

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After a wave of exams and a long weekend to celebrate, I am finally back with a baking recipe! I woke up on Saturday morning determined to be super productive, so I started my day by baking some scones. This recipe is very very simple and quick, and doesn’t require eggs either (I just happened to have run out of eggs, too. This is what midterms do to you.)

All you need is:

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks

1/4 cup granulated sugar (1/3 cup if you prefer a sweeter taste)

3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk, which works perfectly)

Cinnamon sugar (if you don’t have it then you can make your own by mixing some ground cinnamon and granulated sugar in a 1:2 proportion.)

The instructions are really simple:

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Summer Trip to Boston!

Summer break is drawing to a close… and before I waste any more time on TV and lounging around in my air conditioned room, I took a trip to Boston with two friends from church. The video is missing parts of the first day when we went kayaking and visited a cafe near MIT to taste some Boston cream pie… but that’s only a fraction of the whole trip because we ended up doing so much more throughout the rest of the trip!

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Here’s me kayaking on the Charles River.

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Here’s the night view from Skywalk Observatory.

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Here’s me posing in Post Office Square before we headed back to South Station.