Our Boho Vineyard Wedding!

    Once in a while, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.
Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 9.11.32 PMIn the last 10 months, I had brain surgery, eloped with my man, gained my vision back, and announced that we are expecting a little one this December. I feel like the ultimate comeback kid! Somewhere in the flurry of these monumental life moments, we also threw a “wedding”, though, we had already eloped by then:) Despite the blood, sweat and lots of Bevmo runs that it took to plan the big celebration, we’d do it all over again. 99.99% of our wedding was DIY. I want all photo (76)the future brides and grooms out there to know that with a little creativity and time, you can cut a bulk of the cost by doing most of the things yourself. Sure, it’s a bit more hectic than just showing up for the dance, but I think planning a wedding together with your partner is such a great microcosm of what marriage is all about. You’re working with a budget, dealing with family/friends politics, things falling through, all the while not losing perspective that this is just a “party”. And that, ultimately, you’re building a beautiful memory together. From the wedding invites (I swear I have carpel tunnel from writing enough invite calligraphy to rival the Torah!) to the flowers (we got them from Trader Joe’s! Spent all of $250, including flowers for my bouquet and flower crown!) to the hair and makeup team (Um, that’d be me!), so much of our big day had our personal touch. A slew of family members and friends pitched in all their talents to add to our big day. To us…this made our wedding all the more special, not to mention, possible! Condé Nast’s Brides was kind enough to feature our special day: “A Boho Vineyard Wedding in Paso Robles, California”. Brides included the detail of how my man proposed. It was pretty much the day I tried to break up with him! It’s not what you think. It’s rather very Nicholas Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 9.23.45 PMSparks. If you’re curious, click here. And like so many of Sparks’ heart tugging novels, our fairytale definitely came with its ups and downs. But the beauty is…by the time we got to the alter, we never had to say in “sickness and in health” because through our journey, we already knew. Truth is, no magazine feature or blog post, can capture the magic of July 12, 2014. With the rare super moon illuminating the sky, the rolling hills of Hammersky Vineyards ensconcing us in a space that somehow felt so expansive yet so intimate, all set to the live music of our favorite band, The Family Crest …it’s a miracle we didn’t see unicorns. The rehearsal night was also clutch Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 8.57.05 PMbecause it was pretty much all the same people, same venue, but very chill. The summer camp theme (think Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”), the taco truck, and bonfire all highlighted our playful, easygoing nature. After all, we’re just two kids from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who were lucky enough to find each other again in bustling New York. And now here we are…building a family together in California. In the spirit of our wedding…here’s to s’mores love:)

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hammersky Vineyards || Bride’s Wedding Dress: Grace Loves Lace || Shoes:Pour La Victoire || Jewelry: Vram || Hair & Makeup: The bride || Groom’s Attire: J.Crew || Flower Girls’ Attire:Zara || Ring Bearer’s Attire: J.Crew || Engagement Ring: The bride’s grandmother, Harry Winston || Wedding Bands: Vram || Florist: The bride, sister of the bride || Music: The Family Crest || Cake: Lady M Confections|| Rentals: All About Events || Photography: Ballad’s Photography

2 Weddings and a Baby!

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Truly Julie and hubby, Leif, at their “wedding” rehearsal night.The theme: Glamping!

photo(4)I dropped a lot of bombshells this past week. Our July 12th wedding was actually our 2nd! Leif and I eloped last October, just one month after my brain tumor diagnosis. The reason photo (74)is perhaps the least and the most romantic. Leif was the only person with me during my brain surgery. So, in the case of any major split-second decisions in the operating room, he needed to be my “husband.” Furthermore, Leif’s insurance was much more comprehensive than mine. Leif was emotionally and logistically taking care of me:)
You could say the Good Day LA family was surprised by the photoelopement news. Watch! Only thing that could top this moment was the BIG news on my little news that I shared just the following day. Watch! I’ll share more wedding #1 (elopement) and wedding #2 pictures in the weeks to come, but for now, I wanted to share this hilarious video from our Hammersky Vineyard nuptials . Thanks SLO Motions for the memmmmm…ooooor…..riesssss (insert slow speech).

Changchella: a Bridal Festival Full of Love, Laughter & Lingerie!

                         Truly Julie (bridal) showered with so much love and light!photo (1)

I’d be lucky to have just one friend who is thoughtful, creative, fun, loving, smart, inspirational, caring, loyal and generous, but somehow, I hit the jackpot in the friendship lotto and I ended up with a dozen or so friends who are all freaking ROCK STAR human beings. This weekend (in person & in spirit) they threw me a bachelorette party/bridal shower that was so festive that we could only call it: Changchella. With handmade REAL flower crowns, boho chicness galore, and a sunset worthy of a postcard, these ladies created the most epic bride-to-be weekend. They were there when I was sick…and they are here as I embrace perhaps one of the happiest moments in my life. I’m so glad I’m able to give them a better reason to celebrate these days. Now excuse me as I need to try on a trunk full of beautiful things! 

When Someone Loves You in Sickness and in Health…YOU KNOW!

                     Truly Julie with her…(holy cow, grownup word)…fiancé!

photo (54)I had the pleasure of catching up with the Good Day LA gang this week. It’s kinda surreal. For weeks my man and I researched the best brain tumor centers around the country. Now…we’re looking for the perfect wedding venue:) Life. It always keeps you guessing. Here’s me gushing about the best man I know. 

12 Days of Christmas Gratitudes Continued…

                               Truly Julie with a full head of hair at 3 months! photo (45)7) I’m grateful my brain tumor has brought my family closer together. We hit a rough patch after my dad passed. He was the glue. However, my health scare reminded us that it’s not worth arguing about things that don’t matter…with people that matter.

Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 4.21.39 PM8) I’m happy hair grows back. I know it sounds vain and silly…but it was hard having a third of it buzzed. You can’t see a tumor (excluding X-ray). But you can see long locks hitting the floor & you most certainly can hear the loud humming of a shaver. Plus…I’ve always joked that God didn’t give me height but he gave me a lot of hair. Look at my baby picture above…I was born with a full mop! So to lose some of that identity was unsettling. However, that discomfort was short lived. My hair is growing back fast…and luckily, the bald, patchy parts are in the back of my head so it’s easier to conceal. Again…very trivial thing to worry about given the scope of everything. Regardless, I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to re-grow hair.

photo (46)9) I’m grateful I had the chance to work with Lighthouse International for the years I was in New York. For 5 years, I emceed its scholarship lunch where college students with vision loss accomplished the unthinkable. I’ll never forget the story of one scholarship recipient. She was blind since birth. At a young age, she became a single mom to a down syndrome child. Despite the challenges…she worked hard, excelled at school, and replaced the thought of “disability” with “this ability”.  Long story short, she got into a masters program at Yale. There…she married a man who respected and admired her for her differences…and had two more children. We honored her with a scholarship so she can continue her work on developing algorithms that benefit those with vision impairment. I also volunteered at the Lighthouse’s Saturday school…where children with vision loss learned how to cook, use computer programs, play instruments, make arts & crafts, etc. They focused on being handy…not “handicapped”. I share these experiences because I genuinely think the Lighthouse was put in my path to help me through this journey: one of the greatest risks of my surgery was the possibility of losing my vision. Last week…my vision test with my neuro-opthalmologist was a bit Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 5.28.26 PMdiscouraging. It’s been almost 5 weeks since my brain tumor surgery, and yet, my right field of vision is still impaired. This picture on the left is a diagram of both of my eyes. The black parts are where I can’t see. Will it get better? Maybe. Maybe not. That is out of my control. What is under my control is how I look at it. I’m grateful that I have any vision at all. I’m blessed that my left field of vision was unimpacted. I’m thankful to have met so many abled folks at the Lighthouse to know…that it’s more important to celebrate what you can do than it is to dwell on what you can’t do. Recognizing this analogy may sound trivial, but here’s how I look at it…you can complain that you have so much laundry to do. Or be thankful that you are in a well enough place to own clothes and to have access to clean water. My vision may be compromised…but I hope my spirit never falters.

10) I’m thankful for having health insurance. My brain surgery cost was equivalent to buying a 4-bedroom home. In the initial stages…it wasn’t clear if I’d be covered. At times…you have to have the procedure first, then file a claim…and only then will you find out what part of your procedure will be covered. So, in addition to the scare of having a clementine size tumor in my brain…I was also fearful of going bankrupt. Not to mention…so many of your choices – doctors, hospitals, prescriptions, pre-op/post-op care – are limited by your insurance plan. For the millions who face this dilemma…I empathize with you on a new level.

ChristmasDinner11) I’m appreciative for my appetite. I didn’t feel like eating a thing for the week I was in the hospital. And once I could eat…my jaw hurt too much to bite on anything good. I could only open it by a centimeter or so. Since the entry to my tumor was through the back of my head…they had me on my face for the 6 hour surgery. Between that and having a breathing tube wedged into my mouth…my jaw was stiff as a board for weeks. We as a society focus so much on NOT eating. Don’t forget…craving and enjoying food (with balance)  is a sign of health. So joyful that my appetite came back just in time for the holidays:) Above is my mom’s Korean New Year’s dumpling soup and cucumber kimchee. Mmmmmmm.

12) I’m beyond grateful for what lies ahead. Remember in my last blog post I talked about how you don’t have to see to have a vision? I can already tell that 2014 is going to be a lot brighter. When someone loves you at your worst…weakest…and without a sure answer of how you’ll be after a major brain operation… it provides clarity like you have 20/20 vision. Good bye, tumor. Hello, new year…new chapter. Yes

Nobody Puts Baby (Babies) in the Corner! Such Cuteness Deserves Center Stage.

                         Truly Julie loves babies and puppies! Who doesn’t?!!Screen shot 2013-02-23 at 10.16.37 AMBDZTPtMCMAA3wEkI’m glad I’m an unthreatening woman with a somewhat disarming quality because, otherwise, my obsession with
babies might be viewed slightly creepy. I think my BDjcFANCcAAUmCwreverence for babies is a mix of many things. The fact that they smell like sweet buttermilk…that they have zero jadedness…that they seem to have a heightened sense in detecting good vs. bad people…and my fav, they have the softest skin right underneath their jawline which I call “chop-sal-duk” (that’s Korean for rice cake). When my nephew was  a toddler…I’d always IMG_2460say, “Odin, can emo (aunt in Korean) have a little chop-sal-duk?” If he was in a good mood, he’d tilt his little head and let me nuzzle my big face in there. I ADORE babies to the point that I always ask strangers if I can hold their little munchkin. There should really be warning posters all around town that say: watch out for crazy, baby obsessed Asian woman who will squeal and ask to hold your baby. And the same affection for cute dogs! I’ve
BDpIwArCQAEndbKshared my baby/puppy exaltation a few times on Good Day LA and boy, such awesome response! You guys made my heart smile by sending me so many pictures of your cuties via facebook, twitter, and email (my apologies if your lil’ one didn’t make it onto this post, but twitter only goes back so far). THANK YOU. And if you’re ever feeling down…just watch this Gangnam Style baby video and the universe will be all good. I hope one day if I’m lucky enough to become a mom…my baby will have Gangnam reflex:)
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Thanksgiving in Michigan: I went. I ate. I needed sweatpants.

Truly Julie embracing her inner Michigan with this sexy double-parka look.I was lucky enough to make it home to Ann Arbor, Michigan for Thanksgiving this year (working in news, I rarely get holidays off!). There are so many things I love about Ann Arbor but to name just two…a) I can dress like a borderline homeless person in mismatched layers and no one will bat an eye. In fact, you will get an unspoken but fully understood nod of approval…that you’re just trying to stay warm. b) this place envelopes you with love and comfort like no other! Look at my mom and my BF’s parents…these people are exploding with kindess. I felt like nothing short of a king when they fed me with the most splendid foods for 4 days straight…and when I ordered them to jump like cheerleaders in 30 degree weather…they did so without ever asking why! Their inspiration was my split jump in the Jordan desert. What I got…was the above. I don’t think my mom ever once got off the ground:) The point is…these wholesome folks are the first to jump when you ask for something. They are eager to care…and for that…I truly feel the essence of Thanksgiving.  I love the East/West Coasts…but I revel in the fact that I grew up in the heartland. As the T-shirt slogan goes: Midwest is best:)

Sonoma and Napa: Wind Down and Wine Up!

          Truly Julie and MamaisHaute having a royal of a time at Castello di Amarosa!The rolling hills…the neat rows of grape trees that look like well uniformed soldiers…the pace of life that trickles as slowly as cabernet legs on a fine wine glass…Sonoma and Napa are exactly what a New York City girl needs to wind down and wine up! It’s hard to believe just 40 minutes or so from San Franciso is this dreamboat of a place…where boozing and comparing the sweet grape nectars of different years, vineyards, and myriad of grapes is pretty much your only task for the day. I breezed through 3 vineyards for wine tasting: Spring Mountain, Barnett, and Chalk Hill. Spring Mountain had my favorite wine of the whole trip..the “Elivette”. I smile just thinking about the taste…which could only be described accurately if I had time to list 100 adjectives. Barnett is located on top of a hill so it has dashing views, plus it’s still family owned so it has that charm. Chalk Hill is cool because it offers horseback riding…though, if you want to cantor or trot, they’ll only let you in the pavilion. All the rules for riding at Chalk Hill made me really miss my experience in Uruguay where I got to gallop freely on a beach. But I guess the US is a lawsuit happy place…pun intended…tighter reins. I also squeezed in a pool day at Calistoga Ranch. I splashed around with my nephew by day..and by night…dined at The Lakehouse. Just look at this crab cake…it’s so beautiful and sculptural that it looks like it belongs in the MOMA. I often get asked if my blog pictures are all my own. YES. And while I was a bit tipsy during my stay in the wine country…it was hard to take a bad photo of this picturesque place. Wine goggles or not…Sonoma/Napa are worthy of every praise. I’ll drink to that!

San Francisco!

                                          Truly Julie with the Ann Arbor gang!Look at this dreamy sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge as our majestic backdrop! How fitting…given these are my childhood/high school Ann Arbor friends that I hope to have in my life well into my golden years:) In addition to my longtime Michigan friends who now live in SF…this earthy city also sparks so many childhood memories for me because I visited my late grandmother here every year as a kid. And boy…was she ahead of her time. Long story short…she raised 3 kids as a single mom during the Korean War aftermath…worked several odd jobs including being a maid to raise enough money to move to SF (and to put my uncle through med school)…opened her own jewelry boutique…powder blue convertible Benz…4 bedroom home in Twin
Peaks…BAM! The way she lead her life imbued in me: you can either wait for things to happen…or make things happen. Ding ding ding! You got it…she always opted for the latter. I really do think I get so much of my go-getter, independent spirit from her. And perhaps that’s why she chose SF as her final destination. This city, too, marches to it’s own beat. It doesn’t effing matter if you wear a Patagonia fleece to a nice dinner. Never mind the hills with the 90 degree incline..people will still bike around town with a smile. So hippie…yet so hardcore. Love it. I took more hikes during my 3 day stay in the Bay Area than I have…well…in 3 years! I highly recommend the trails throughout Tamalpais Park. We trekked the Matt Davis and Dipsea trails and I highly recommend. You get waterfalls…massive redwood trees…ocean view…a litte bit of everything. The park site says these trails are meant to “intensify your pleasure”. I don’t know about all that…but it was a beautiful 8 mile hike:) We also strolled through Sutro Baths which has sweeping views of Golden Gate Bridge and mesmerizing acres of Bay Area’s iconic Monterey pinetrees. As my Americana tour continues (check out N’awlinsPhillyBoston, Brooklyn & Cambridge …I’m glad I got to revisit SF. As the saying goes: it’s an oldie…but a goodie. Just like my friends I’ve known since I was kiddie:) (Don’t worry…not quitting my day job to become a rapper) Check out the picture gallery below which includes the best ice cream place ever!

I Heart You….Punta del Este, Uruguay!

         Truly Julie high on life in front of the famous La Mano sculpture on Brava Beach!screen-shot-2012-04-15-at-10-54-37-amPunta del Este is 5-stars!!! Or more like 5-fingers…given the obsession I have with the La Mano sculpture on Brava Beach. Punta is Argentina’s version of the Hamptons. From
screen-shot-2012-04-15-at-11-03-48-amJanuary through March…Argentinians pour into this little Uruguayan beach town for some posh yet rustic fun in the sun. My sister Grace and I went late March…so we missed the sceney peak season…but we were totally OK with that because we got to meet really cool locals; and there was no reservation stress for restaurants and popular activities. Speaking of…it was activity galore in Punta. From riding a thorough bred palomino on a secluded beach like she’s my “Seabiscuit”…wine tasting on a charming
screen-shot-2012-04-15-at-11-28-52-amvineyard…visiting an island carpeted with seals…taking in the architectural marvel of Casapueblo…Punta del Este definitely lived up to if not surpassed its hype. We also explored the quaint surfer town of Jose Ignacio. While Punta at times has a hint of Miami…Jose Ignacio is rustic and unpretentious like Montauk. But in a splendid contradiction…Grace and I discovered the most futuristic hotel in Jose Ignacio. Playa Vik is a property that looks like something from the year 3000. It only has 7 or so “rooms” (which are more like mini-townhouses)…and every inch of this place rivals the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Every painting…sculpture…furniture piece…tile in the bathroom…fork…is a conversation piece. We discovered Playa Vik as well as the Alto de Ballena Vineyard and Haras Godiva Horse Ranch through the one and only, Ryan Hamilton. I now call him “mi hermano”…simply because his warmth…genuine spirit…and dedication to show us all that Punta has to offer was soooooo “family”. Ryan runs The Wine Experience…and folks…I will not steer you wrong: this is a must-do. With a population of just over 3 million…and one of the lowest crime rates…and so much natural beauty…Uruguay is an absolute South American gem. I hope you get to see some of its sparkle through my picture gallery.