To a Tea

Of all the hot beverages out there, I think tea is the one I’m least fanatic about, but certainly not because it isn’t well-deserved. Tea, especially of the barley, millet, or corn husk variety, was so comfortably in the background whilst growing up in a Korean household, that I never gave it much thought. A huge pot of it was always ready for us to have either cold or hot, largely unnoticed unless it was empty.

Irenekly - tea2

I suppose that’s why I will rarely buy tea like I buy a cappuccino or a cocktail – I prefer sipping my tea in the calm of home, during breakfast, after dinner, or in the afternoon lull. I by no means meticulously brew my tea, but coming home with this lovely mélange of colors and smells from the apothecary (yes, apothecary – this one.) made me think a bit harder on the art of steeping tea.

There are grand metaphors of making tea that is related to life and living in a variety of ways, I’m sure, but one that feels particularly relevant is the beauty of letting new flavors unfurl in completely different temperatures. Meaning: seeing the beauty that comes from being thrust into new environments, and enjoying the changes. I hope to live with great intention in the midst of all this transition, and watching and waiting for my tea to properly steep is helping me slow down and make each step judiciously.

Irenekly - tea1
To not have the most remarkably ordinary blend in with mundanity, but to have eyes to see the possibility of intention in the everyday. I hope for this!

Utter sidenote: these photos were taken with my iPhone and that’s pretty crazy.


Bees Knees Favorites

Bees knees is not just one of my favorite ways to describe favorite things, but is a most delectable drink and my favorite way to enjoy gin (so far). Okay no more saying ‘favorite’ and on to my extremely amateur bartender technique in mixing this bright and tangy concoction.

Irenekly - Bees Knees Cocktail


I first tried the Bees Knees at Prizefighter, one of my favorite (I can’t stop!) bars in the East Bay, and was amazed with how simple ingredients could make gin so delightful! It takes:

1.5 tbsp of honey – mine is this ridiculous orange blossom raw honey I compulsively splurged on once. It was worth it.
Juice from 1/2 a lemon – meyer lemon if you can find some!
2 oz gin – the one pictured above is from St George Spirits, which I’ll say more on.
4 oz tonic water

I melt the honey in the microwave, because I’m lazy, then mix in lemon juice and wait until it’s all room temperature. Then I pour the mixture into a glass with ice, add the gin, and top it off with tonic water. I also vigorously stir everything. I hope I’m not seriously offending any bartender or mixologist with my crude techniques…

But it tastes very good to me! The gin is so yummy, especially this one and this one from St George Spirits. Garrett and I did a tour and tasting of the St George distillery last weekend, and had way too much fun learning and trying everything. So fascinating, how all this tasty stuff is made.

Okay and now just for fun, here are some other favorites that are the bees knees:

Ally and I made this cake (recipe here) over the weekend for Shela’s birthday and it was amazing. Not even humble brag, just brag!

All of The Boffin Society’s Thinking Drink posts.

These two wondrous mugs.

This exhibition.

Birthday Scotch

I had been scheming knock-his-socks-off birthday gift ideas for Garrett since December, when while on my usual Pinterest perusal, I noticed myself pinning lots of packaging designs for spirits. Vodka, scotch, gin – I love that there are so many possibilities with design involving all the different, delicious libations and I knew that Garrett loved it too. But it wasn’t until I saw the Migrant whiskey label design and read the story behind it (here), that the idea struck on designing a personalized birthday label for him. Obviously, huge amounts of inspiration were taken from the Migrant design – I just added some fun icons and cheesy puns.

Here are some examples of cool label designs and the final design for Garrett:

Irenekly - Garrett's-Whiskey2

I found this really awesome bottle in some random shop on Piedmont and I’m so glad the end result turned out okay! Printing labels is tricky business, but sticking them on is even trickier. I gave up any notions of perfect smoothness and decided that the wrinkles were intentional to create a more “vintage” effect.

Irenekly - Garrett's Birthday Scotch

Happy birthday, Garrett! I love you and may this next year be filled with lotsa whiskey.

1., 2., 3. 

Satsuma Rosemary Salt



Basically everything that Local Milk posts, I am drooling and having those heart eye emojis over. But as much as I would like to try out Beth’s recipes, I don’t have the luxury of time/ingredients too often…except for when I’m on holiday vacay at home where my parents gloriously stock up on a slew of food! And have a crazy overrun herb garden to boot!

The recipe on Local Milk has many more herbs in the salt, but I only used rosemary, as distinguishing weeds/herbs in the garden got a little tricky. Satsumas are also my favorite, and I can eat way too many in one sitting, so basically this salt is the best and super easy to make. Find the recipe here ! I’ve already added this salt to everything and anything (i.e. mostly just veggies and chicken), but methinks sprinkling some on top of shortbread cookies would be delicious. Happy salting!


Looking Back and Forward


2013 was a huge year.

I graduated college, set foot in new countries, and got my first “big girl” job. Last January, I remember marveling at all the milestones to be had this year and being equal parts frightened and excited. How could a year hold so much? Was it possible for everything to even happen? And yet, by the sheer grace of God, it has and more.

I learned that everything that happened at Berkeley was truly invaluable,  that my lens has been altered to ask hard questions and learn how to grapple with hard truth, but that the asking and grappling can and should never stop.

I learned that loving people is really difficult, especially when the vehicle through which my love is transmitted (my selfish, wimpy heart) needs a lot of working on.

I learned that traveling gives you unshakeable wanderlust in your feet and eyes, and that your hand will forevermore be writing new cities onto the “Must Visit” list. But even more so, I learned that planting roots in a new city, a new home, actually means more adventure and exploration.

I learned that fear–of failure, of loss–is crippling, but that there is love and freedom to be had in embracing inevitable imperfection. There is grace enough, and there will always be grace enough.

I learned that admitting weakness is asking for strength, and I learned the sweetness of having a strong hand to hold in prayer and encouragement.

And I learned that being in a posture of humble need, not petulant neediness, is how I must constantly step into the new and the old.

I’m so thankful that my wistfulness over this year already being over can actually surge into hope and expectation for what 2014 will bring, and that there will always be new life to be found. So, in the coming year, I have some small and big hopes. One of those is to balance out the levels in which I consume and produce, and to not just be sedately inspired all the time, but proactively create, too! And hopefully this blog will be a tool through which I can push myself to tackle some new projects.

I’m excited! It’s definitely an excitement that took some watering, but now it is growing and I trust that this year will be good, even if that “good” is not how I would exactly define it (read: lots of cookies, no conflict, and pretty stuff). Here’s to a full, blessed year!

Goodbye, December!


Some snapshots/igrams from this past month. December has been so sweet and lovely, it feels sad to bid it farewell already. A lot has happened, and there are super exciting adventures ahead, but December! I’m not ready for you to leave just yet. Better fill this last day with many excellent things, like a big cake and puppies.

Also! So surprised by this feature from Emmadime on my Instagram! I’m such a fan of you, Emma, and this is a huge honor. Thank you!

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

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A quick post on a simple, yet shnazzy breakfast recipe. The beauty of being home for the holidays means glorious ingredients so easily at hand, like these ikura, and ample time to test out new recipes.

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

Oven to 350, mix in salt, pepper, ginger, and teaspoon of miso into the crème fraîche, and plop a tablespoon in the ramekin. Crack an egg on top, add another tablespoon of the crème, top with dill, and pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Eat gustily with some crusty bread. Happy breakfasting!

Mamoo Totes!

Hooray, hooray! I’m so excited I get to finally share these. I mentioned the hang tags I re-designed for Mamoo Kids before, but a much bigger project had been in the works for a while: tote bags!!! When Anna from Mamoo reached out about designing a new line of kid-friendly book bags complete with empowering messages, how could I say anything but yes? All the totes are 100% natural cotton and awesomely handmade in San Francisco. Here they are!

Voyager BlueRobot Red

Whoohooo. My dream is that one day I’ll see some adorable kiddo around SF, sporting this bag filled with his or her favorite books. Check out more photos of the bags at all angles and other colors on Mamoo Kids! Big thanks to Anna for this amazing opportunity. (Aaand, one more design is in the works!)

Color Me | Forest Green


The early darkness has set in, winter is here, and Christmas is coming! And Thanksgiving. But Christmas!! Evergreen, forest green, misty greens, I find that I’m gravitating towards these deep colors with the oncoming chilliness. Hopefully I can get out into some actual nature soon, but ’til then, maybe I’ll just be on the hunt for a nice green sweater or fun house plant!

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