Tag Archives: march

Sunday Serenity

This morning I awoke to a dusting of white snow on the streets below and hillside just behind our apartment. I also awoke with a terrible sore throat. Perhaps it was that I slept with my mouth open the night before? No, not me… I’d never do such a thing. LOL! Perhaps it was the evening walk the night before with Mr. B in the blustery winds, or perhaps it’s just something I picked up from work that continues to make its rounds. Whatever it was… it isn’t welcomed and needs to go.

Normally I’d sip a spicy peppery remedy that my grandparents would make when i’d be back home staying with them, but this time I remembered that we had some Asian pears and honey. The two ingredients that my Korean co-workers tell me will heal any throat ailments because they are loaded with Vitamin C and K. Today I’ll put them to the test and get some sweet serenity on this Sunday.


What The Wang Chung?

Everyone has some freakishness they rather keep to themselves, right? Something embarrassing about their existence that they would never openly admit…today mine comes in the form of my Korean co-worker catching me singing out loud “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung… WHAT? Yes… me… No clue where it came from. I completely blame it on 94KX. Central Pennsylvania folks you know the terrible local radio station that I speak of. Somewhere Wang Chung went to craving spicy coconut lime shrimp for dinner. Yeah… sort of all over the place when I think about it? Whatever it was, I went with it.

This succulent spicy shrimp is quick to whip up on the whim and big on flavor! So….”Ev’rybody have fun tonight!”

Spicy Coconut Lime Shrimp


2 Jalapeno peppers
1 Lime, zested with juiced
2 Garlic cloves
1/3 Cup sweetened shredded coconut, heaping
1/4 Cup coconut oil
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1 Pound cooked medium shrimp


Combine first six ingredients in Vitamin or food processor; blend throughly. The consistency will be thick. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Pour in the thick sauce over the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and allow to marinate at least 1 hours.

Cook shrimp on the stove in a skillet, turning frequently until nicely warmed throughout, about 10 minutes.

Of course any excuse to eat roasted garlic too!

Anyone else want to share their freakishness moments with me tonight?


Sob Story

Did you see the latest Instagram Backpackbees photo? Yes… that’s a chair that sits in the lobby area of work that a parent let a little Picasso doodle all over with crayons. Yikes… That’s not even the sob story piece of this blog. It’s been a pretty rough week in general, but never in my twenty something years on this earth have I ever experienced tears while chopping my onions, that is until tonight. Can you believe a teeny tiny shallot was the one to do me in? The tears just streamed down my cheeks as I chopped as quickly as I could. Seriously it was as if I were sobbing. Of course I had to pause intermittently because my eyes were on fire and walk away from the cutting board, but I returned as quickly as I could to get the little guy prepped for our dinner.

What about you, are your eyes sensitive to onions? Intrigued, also waiting for Mr. B to finish up cooking the chicken, I looked it up on the internet and found that the syn-propanethial-soxide that the onion releases as a form of gas when cut into causes the eye irritation to some. It then went onto say that a good onion cry, though not hormonal or emotional, often makes people feel better afterwards. As silly as it sounds, it sort of did….

Wellll….. maybe it was just the excitement and anticipation to dig into this meal? Or, maybe it’s that we realized it’s Wednesday and that means we are closing in on another weekend!

The recipe was slightly altered from Iowa Girl Eats.


5 Slices turkey bacon, chopped
4 Chicken breasts, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Shallot, chopped
3 Cups white button mushrooms, sliced
6 Cups fresh organic Korean spinach
1 1/2 Cup half & half
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese


First cook bacon in a large skillet, cook until crispy. Not much grease, if any is left behind from the bacon, don’t bother wiping out, continue on with cooking chicken breast in same skillet to gather any remaining bacon flavors.

Season to taste chicken breasts with salt and pepper then add to skillet and sauté until no longer pink. Remove off to side and cover with foil to keep warm while you cook the rest of the meal.

Next, melt butter in skillet, add shallots and mushrooms, season to taste with salt and pepper, and then sauté until mushrooms are tender. Throw in spinach then cover and sauté randomly until just barely wilted. Add half & half  and cook until the sauce is thickened, after thickened, stir in grated parmesan cheese.

Last but certainly not least, arrange chicken on your plate,  pour sauce on top and sprinkle with cooked turkey bacon.

We enjoyed with twice baked potatoes and a nice glass of refreshing wine.

Next time we think we will add in some spice to spice it up! Until then, enjoy, check out Iowa Girl Eats, and stay tuned.


5 Days

5 Days… I can’t believe that’s all it took to build a home for a family in Cambodia!

The words home sweet home have a nice ring to it, don’t they? I can announce that I am officially home safe and sound from my trip with Habitat for Humanity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

There are so many things that I associate with the word home. My heart, my loving husband, my Bean cat, safety, my serenity, my comfort. I cannot imagine my life without having my home and all the feelings associated with it.

I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to give the gift of home to another family, all thanks to the support and donations from people like you! Your contributions and support allowed my team and I to build a 4 x 6 brick home for a well deserving mother, her children, and her grandchildren. Makes you really count your blessings, right?

On this build, myself and twelve other volunteers lived and worked in a small village located west on the outskirts of Phnom Penh city. We partnered and worked alongside of  local artisans and the future homeowners. We mixed, shoved, and carried mortar, moved and laid piles and piles of brick, bucketed and poured concrete floors, dirt, sand, and we hammered on an aluminum roof.

Not once did I ever feel unsafe or outside of my comfort zone. Okay, maybe once when I had to use the squatty Potty and let the door cracked because their was no power to be able to see anything. HA HA! That is a whole other story in itself, I’ll spare you this time. The village that we built-in was so friendly and always waved and smiled at as. Everyone popped by the site to tame their curiosity and practice using their best English vocabulary to say “hello”! We had two wonderful translators on site, and one supervisor that we nicknamed BN. Sorry, somethings have to remain left unspoken and in Cambodia. Use your imagination…wink,wink.

The children quickly warmed up to our group and eventually learned our work schedule. My heart eagerly looked forward to every morning knowing that when our work vans were pulling in, those kids would be running alongside or up to us to greet us with the biggest grins and sparkles in their little eyes. You could feel how genially excited they were that we were giving them individualized attention. These children had next to nothing, some not even fully clothes, yet they were the happiest and strongest children I have ever met. Another thing that I was absolutely taken back by was, the children would try their hardest to work alongside of us. Mimicking our brink or bucket lines that we formed to get items quickly from point A to B, helping us collect trash, trying to be helpful and bring a tool they would find somewhere. I learned so much from that village in such a short time frame that will stick within me for the rest of my life.

On the last day of the build, we held and attended a ceremony that presented the family with the keys to their new home. After every member of the build took a snip of the red ribbon, the homeowner took the last snip with the scissors and cut completely through to finalize the ribbon cutting ceremony event. We were all invited to remove our shoes and come into the home. Once we were inside we were asked to say something to the family on our experiences during the build. It was incredibly emotional. What a journey it had been for all of us. We all came from such diverse backgrounds, we all were in search of something different when it came to  reasons we were volunteering for the build. However, one thing that bonded us and linked us together in that very moment was the prayers, well wishes, and our hearts all filled with thankfulness and fulfillment for the family.

The words thank you will never ever truly be enough to express what I feel…but for now they will have to do. So, thank you all!!!

Ah! I still cannot believe WE BUILT A HOME IN 5 DAYS!! I hope that I never come down from the high this trip provided my soul. I don’t know about the rest of my team, but I’m ready for my next build!

Please feel free to check out the remaining photos from my trip. You will find photos of the Royal Palace, Independence Monument, National Museum of Cambodia, Wat Phnom temple, Toul Tum Poung Market, our river cruise down the Mekong river,  various foods that I loved (too bad they didn’t share the same love back for me), The killing fields, Genocide museum, and the Cambodian traditional weaving house.


Reality Check


Socks, check.
Bug spray, check.
Bandanas, check.
Sunblock, check.
Bean cat, Wait…Bean cat?! Little miss cannot resist an open bag.



It’s now a reality!

Only a few short hours away from gathering my packed bags and heading off to Cambodia.

My heart and mind are open and ready to be fulfilled with this amazing experience and opportunity with Habitat for Humanity.

I can’t express my thanks, my love, and sheer gratitude enough to my husband, all my dear friends, family, and co workers who are supporting me with praise, prayers, words of encouragement, and have donated to the cause! Without you all I’d never be able to accomplish half of what I have!

Thank you, Thank you!


Good, Bad, Everything in Between

Many apologies, lately I feel like I’ve been rather inconstant with keeping up on our blog. I know it’s only been a week or so since the last update, but it feels like months have went by that I’ve left you all hanging. Life has certainly been fast paced here for the bees. Travel, wonky work hours, and life, just plain life. Now I’m left trying to catch up on my e-mails, blogger friends, pen pal, books, and the heaping pile of laundry that’s bursting at the seams every time I open our walk in. The only real comforting fact to subside my OCD is that i know my grandma’s advise would be, it’s not going anywhere, you will get to it when you can get to it. She’s sweet! I won’t even get started on the fact I haven’t put any thought into packing for my trip to Cambodia yet. Eek! Yes, that’s this Friday…more on that later.

Lets start with the good! I like to jump off on a positive not anyways.

Over the weekend we decided to get more adventurous and try out another new restaurant. Sweet victory! We loved it! Excellent duck and outstanding sides. Of course I included photos for you, even threw in a bonus video too. Sorry for the iPhone quality guys. Can I just point out how ingenious is that table with the built-in rotisserie! Oh Korea, you make being foodies so easy!






Onto the bad…no sugar coating…the place below was the pits. Period.



So whats everything in between? Planning to leave for my Habitat for Humanity trip in Cambodia this FRIDAY!


I wasn’t kidding, fast track life lately! I feel like it was just yesterday kicking off my build fundraising for my team. Here we are almost $2,000 later and boarding a plane soon. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m ready, if I’m excited, if I’m worried. Yes, yes, and yes!

I find myself soul-searching a lot, looking for ways to give a piece of myself, my heart, to something meaningful in this world. What an opportunity with Habitat! I get to build a home for a deserving family, give them a forever place. In so many ways I know this will fill my heart temporary. I’m ready to give my all! My sweat, my energy, my manpower. Oivay, sweat…did you see those temperatures above? I’m thinking there will be plenty of sweat to give.

I’m excited to learn about the Cambodia culture and way of life, work hand and hand with the people, be a tourist, and disconnect completely from all the technology that bogs me down. Yes, worry, had to mention that of too. What can I say? I’m a worry wort. With any trip outside of the norm there is always the element of worry, right? Mr. B made me make two deals. One, come back alive, and two I cannot bring any children back with me. Does this man know me or what? Shushhh don’t tell him I admitted that openly.

Cherio! I’m off to finish up and finalize all the in between things before leaving on my trip, but I’ll be back soon with lots of exciting things to share!


Sashimi House 횟집

Hoejip (횟집), means “sashimi house” in Korean. This weekend I was invited out to dinner to enjoy fresh raw fish, or sashimi as we mostly call it in America.  In Korea, the fish is sliced a bit thicker than that of the Japanese style, and the fish is known as hoe. Like almost all meals in Korea, the sashimi is served with complementary side dishes.

It was a lot of fun to see and compare the differences in ones dining experience when it comes to enjoying sashimi. We have eaten at a few restaurants in Korea that serve sushi rolls and sashimi, but nothing where it was the full-blown Korean Hoejip.

The restaurant was located very close to the Ganeung subway station. Very small, only housing roughly five tables. Two of the tables were tables with chairs, the rest were dining on a raised platform where the floor was heated for your bum. Thought the space may be small, the restaurant is very plain and very clean. I was told that this particular restaurant was well-known for its freshness and quality of fish. Also, if you didn’t have a reservation for dining chances are that you may not be able to get in most nights.

Koreans often serve raw fish in a different manner. They usually take a very large fish (mostly whitefish) straight from a tank that is displayed out front of the restaurant. A lot of times they let you pick the fish that you would like to eat. They will then prepare it and slice it  into  translucent slivers, and carefully arrange it on a very big platter of shredded cabbage, which is then placed in the center of the table for everyone to share family style.

Another difference in eating sashimi in South Korea was the way it should be enjoyed. Yes, even a simple dish of sashimi has it’s own traditional way. You take the  raw fish wrapped in ggaenip (similar to shiso leaf) and a slice of jalapeño, raw garlic, wasabi, and some rice, roll it up and shove it in your mouth. Of course one does this as gracefully as she can…haha! Yeahhhh…still feels like I’m breaking all the rules every time I do this, and goes against everything I was taught growing up.

Tonight I got to experience a true Korean treat, hoedeopbap. Hoedeopbap is a raw fish mixed with veggies and rice. It’s like bibimbop but without the rice! What’s not to love? It was delicious!

At the end of the meal, the last course served was a spicy soup called meuntang (매운탕). The soup was all of the bony parts that could not be served with the raw fish, (are you ready for this?) to include the fish head. Eek! Keeping my promise to myself, knowing that I’m only going to live once, I ate it too. It was spicy and pretty tasty!

Traditionally you should enjoy soju or some type of Korean alcohol with your meal too. You will look around towards the end of your meal and see all of the red faces, hear the bottles of soju clinking, hear the loud laughter and stories in Korean. In that moment you will know they are completely unwound from the everyday stressors in their life, and are now able to enjoy the deliciously fun moments of their dinner with their friends and family.




You know that unexpected moment when a dear friend text’s you to see what you are doing, they are in need of a girls day, you end up meeting them while out doing your casual Saturday randomness? Of course they are looking smashing…and you on the other hand woke up that morning not thinking you’d run in to anyone you knew because let’s face it…your in Korea! You left the house basically keeping it real. Forget about really trying to tame your frazzles, that never even crossed your mind. Then, you are having so much fun chatting, warming up over some 20,000KRW Budae Jjigae,eating od’ing on sweets (come on folks FREE Krispy Kreme’s you know you can’t pass that up), walking around finding strange boutique with doll heads, arms, and legs detached, odd Engrish statements, and just plain laughing that you feel like you need to document it…no matter how hideous you look? Yeah, that happened to me today. Love you K! Thanks for the unexpected girls day!

2012_03_31 Ladies Weekend

2012_03_31 Ladies WeekendMar 31, 2012Photos: 17

I was scolded for taking pictures in the Too Cool For School cosmetic boutique. Reasoning was that this was their brand….no comment. Check out the oddly shaped mushroom puff to apply BB Cream.


We walked almost ran home once off the train because the sun set and the temperature dropped.

It took me very little time to snuggle into the rest of my Saturday night with a hot cup of chai spice black tea and some Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


Good Night Loves!

A Baby Shower

You know what?
Baby Showers are kind of the best…
You get to decorate your special location party place all whimsical and what not,
Stuff it full of fun people.
Eat sweets
And gush over the baby and parents to be.
What a wonderful twist of spirits ending a hectic work week.

Tonight we celebrated with the M family as they eagerly await the debut of their sweet boy A.

2012_03_30 Baby Shower

2012_03_30 Baby ShowerMar 30, 2012Photos: 7

All week at work the Korean ladies have been discussing what exactly a baby shower is. “How do you shower the baby before it gets here?”, “what does it mean to shower a baby?” Honestly being one of three American women at my work, we never gave it much thought that a baby shower wasn’t something typical the Korean culture might celebrate.

Tonight one of the Korean ladies I worked with decided to celebrate with us and see exactly what a baby shower was like. We played games like guess what chocolate was mushed in the baby dipper, timed fill in the nursery rhyme, measure how round the parents to be standing together are, blindfolded feed the “baby”, and see who can drink apple juice out of the baby bottle the fastest (pretty hysterical to watch!). You know, all the works.

Being a foreigner in Korea you tend to forge together and make “families” with the people you go to church with, work with, are friends with. These people help bridge the gap and make home feel a little less far away.

We ended the night with gift opening, and of course CAKE! The parents and big sister to be were so thankful and appreciative of all the love and support displayed in that room tonight.

What a terribly fun night!

Scenes From The Weekend

Whew! Weekend recap…. Sitting here with a nice cup of tea (complements to our friend Katya and her mother for sharing her garden herbs) and enjoying a tasty piece of toast with strawberry jam.

Rainy Friday, snow squall Saturday, and a Sunny but windy Sunday…

2012_03_24_Weekend Fun

2012_03_24_Weekend FunMar 18, 2012Photos: 22

What are the Bees to do with themselves when their original plans fell to the wayside because of mother nature’s indecisiveness?

Well, of course we just don’t let it get us down! Ha, that’s right! (Enter in a judo-chop) Take that mother nature! 😉

We celebrated our good friends birthday this weekend with dinner and drinks at Zelens (Bulgarian cuisine). We walked around Itaewon, where they showed us a hidden little gem called the Hidden Address (no pun intended). The Hidden Address is a vintage shop with a little coffee shop too. It really is a hidden address, located off the beaten path of the main street flowing through Itaewon. We loved it! Everything from the look of the building on the outside to the clean style inside called out to us. Thanks for sharing with us guys!

Our groupOur group


Our group


Throw in a morning waking up and seeing snow on the mountain! Yes! Snow! Comeeee on paaaallleeeaaasseee! Where is Spring?! The grandparents told us it’s been in the 80’s (and don’t forget this is central PA we are talking about).

Back at our place, we met up with some more of our friends this weekend and filled our bellies with some Budae jjigae. We couldn’t not think of anything more perfect to eat with the craziness of the weather. (Double negative-our high school english teacher’s ears are currently burning). The soup was awesome! However be prepared to smell like garlic the rest of the day. It worked out well for us Bees, we both smelled pretty ripe, however we smelled ripe together so it didn’t matter. If you remember from an earlier post Mrs. B ate Budae Jjigae in Uijeongbu, where the soup is pretty famous. This soup is MMmmmmm Mmmmm good!

I hope your weekend was as great as ours!