Life Love Larson


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Seoul Food: What We Ate in South Korea

Steve and I took a trip to Seoul, South Korea in September to celebrate our 40 birthdays! We had a blast, just the two of us. It was a new spot for us so the anticipation of exploring a huge city and a  different culture and different foods really excited us! Also, when you travel really far away, you feel really far away, and that is what we love about travel! I am going to need to break down my posts on Seoul into a few different ones because we were there for a week and we did all the things! First up, I wanted to share what we ate. And it's fun to call it "Seoul" Food! We get this question a lot when we travel, so here goes!

I will preface this with the fact that we will try almost anything! We ate scorpion on a stick in China and have eaten some weird things on food tours before! Part of the fun of going to new places is immersing yourself in the culture and the food. We ate all kinds of things, including McDonald's!

BREAKFAST: For breakfast, we ate at our hotel every single morning. Asian hotels have the best breakfasts! It's a full spread of Asian, American, French, basically anything you can ask for. We knew we could fuel up on familiar breakfast foods, but also try some new things. Always muesli and cappuccinos and fruit! This particular breakfast, I also ate bagquette, grilled veggies, fish, and dumplings!

DRINKS: The Koreans love their beer! Ha! The perfect spot for us! We drank beer, I drank iced coffee (huge in Korea), tea, and coffee! And lots of bottled water! We also drank Soju which is a potent alcohol drink the Koreans love, and we tried Makgeolli, a raw rice wine. We both loved this one! You drink it out of small tin bowls!

 Don't forget the late night snacks from the 7-11! There is one on every corner!
CHICKEN & BEER: We went to a Korean baseball game and it might have been the highlight of our trip! We are sports-lovers! And they serve chicken and beer at the games! Also sushi and friend octopus! We stuck with the chicken and beer! Yep, served with the chicken on the top and you drink the beer out of a straw!
Koreans love Chimea, which is essentially chicken and beer. It's a thing. We had it several times because it's very Korean, but also felt easy for us to eat!
We booked a food tour before our visit. We used ZenKimChi Tours and ended up having a private tour with our guide. He is an American living in Korea and hosts walking food tours. We ate traditional Korean BBQ, which was so delicious! He taught us how to drink the rice wine and the Soju. We also ate some traditional fried foods. You go through a small market and choose what you want to be fried and brought to your table. We had a blast learning more about the Korean culture and sampling traditional foods.

MARKET FOOD: We explored Gwangjang Marketon one of the very last days we were there. We were in search of some Mung Bean Pancakes (kind of alike a hashbrown) and some noodles! We happened to get a seat at the stall where Netflix showcased on their show "Street Food".

EXTRAS: We ate at a restaurant that my sister introduced us to on our travels called Din Tai Fung. It's a chain and is found in a few major cities throughout Asia. There is also one in London and one or two in the US. We ate there twice because we love their dumplings and spicy wontons!
We also at KimChi Fried Rice twice! We loved it so much we went back to a little spot near our hotel.
We popped into a few places as we walked the streets to get noodles! And Cokes!
Close to the end of the trip, we also decided we needed a cheeseburger! We searched and found a place with good reviews and bonus, they also had cheese fries! Ha! You can find anything in big cities, so don't let the food scare you!
Traveling to big cities means you have so many choices! We did research about the food before we left! We knew what we wanted to try. Booking a food tour helps you learn more about traditional foods! We also got a recommendation form someone we knew who had been to Seoul before. It's also fun to come home and try to find food/drink you had while on your travels! It expands your mind and your palette! I can't wait to go back someday! xo
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Chalk Wall Winter Bucket List

Every year we add bucket lists to our chalk wall for each season! Our bucket list items are similar over the years, although things have changed since our kids have gotten older. I try to do a little something different with the way the chalkboard looks each year too! I'm going to be running out of ideas soon! Ha! Here is our winter bucket list for 2019 (kids ages 11 and 12 for reference)!
I like to add quotes and accessories to the chalk wall too! I never want anything sticking out or in the way because this is a high traffic zone area! This year, it's COLD HANDS, WARM HEARTS. It's already snowed here, so it seems appropriate!
I found the felt ball garland at Homegoods this year. I use two nails nailed right into the wall to hang the garland. I use regular old cheap chalk on our chalkboard. Sometimes, I use sidewalk chalk if I need additional fun colors. Keeping it simple with red and white this year.
I also hang a mistletoe in this high traffic area. Never know who you might run into here! XO I use a command hook with a hinged hook to hang the mistletoe.

We already have some things crossed off! Please note, we usually never get to everything on the list! This is just a reference and jumping off point, and our kids are well aware of this! Hope you are having a great holiday season making memories with those you love! xo

Here are our Holiday Chalkboards/Home Tours from years past! Boy how things have changed!
Monday, December 9, 2019

2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide

Many of you know I have strong ties to the great state of Iowa! I lived in both Sioux City, IA and Storm Lake, IA as a little girl. I grew up just on the other side of the Mississippi River from Iowa throughout elementary, middle, and high school. I've been an Iowa Hawkeye fan for as long as I can remember and ended up attending the University of Iowa and meeting my husband there! We are a die hard Hawkeye family! My parents, as well as my sister and her family all currently live in Des Moines, IA (just 3 hours from us), as well as many other friends and family. A large piece of my heart will always be connected to the great state! And of course, everyone in Iowa affiliated with the state is "IOWA NICE"!
Iowa has a spirit of loyalty and kindness and is down to earth. The many towns across Iowa have some fabulous "makers" and products and foods to be shared! I can't wait to show you some of the fun items available through the 2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide. A great way to give back is to shop local and support Iowa shops, artists, and craftspeople! This year's guide has been curated to showcase gift ideas from across the state. One of my favorite parts about the gift guide is the story background of how all the shops came to be! Truly inspiring! ALSO...I'm hosting a giveaway to give a lucky winner an item from one of the shops! Details at the end of the post!

First up is 1st Avenue Collective out of Winterset, IA. They have an online shop where you can purchase art, crafts, and jewelry. I love how they include the name of the maker when you click to purchase!  This minimalist jewelry is so pretty!
Next up is The Maker's Loft. It's located in the downtown area in one of my favorite cities ever - Iowa City, IA. Iowa City has such a cool, eclectic vibe about it. I strongly encourage you to visit if you have never been! This shop is where my "Iowa Nice" tee shirt is from! Only $20! What a great gift idea! They also sell candles, and sweatshirts, and throw blankets from local makers! They also sell unique items like beard oil and tonic mixers!

The next small business you can support is Carver's Ridge out of Guthrie Center, IA. They sell personalized and engraved goods. Perfect gift ideas for teachers and friends and family members! How awesome is the recipe engraved on the cutting board?!

Let's talk local foods! That Iowa Girl out is out of Clarion, IA, She supports other local businesses by selling and delivering Iowa-made food products! How cool is that?! Be sure to visit her online shop to buy all the goodies for gifts or your next get together!
Next up is Barn Happy, a shop located in Cedar Falls, IA. They sell a wide variety of products and work with over 100 vendors! You can find everything from soaps, to jams, to custom Iowa gift baskets! They also have a little cafe open for lunch and brunch, so if you are in the area, be sure to stop by!

Next up is The Market Place located in Manning, IA. It's owned and run by Jaime England, who moved back to her hometown to open this shop along Main Street. She sells home decor and gift products from local vendors. There is also a coffee shop inside the store! I'm obsessed with these beaded tassels! The perfect gift idea! She also sells cozy throw blankets!

And last, but certainly not least, is The Little House on Main, a boutique and clothing shop in Bondurant, IA. The store looks absolutely adorable! She sells wooden signs and gifts, knit hats, and the cutest tea towels. 
I'm hosting a giveaway on my Instagram feed! One lucky winner will receive a Swedish dish cloth and beer bread kit from one of the shops that The Little House on Main supports called Doe A Deer. Click here to head to my feed to enter!
When you shop the 2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide, you support small business and makers. You support a state you love. You will bring a smile to the face of the recipient when you gift them something locally handmade and sourced! You can find something for every single person on your list! It's an all around win/win! 

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions and writing content are my own!*

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Christmas Tree Basket

Two years ago I decided to do away with a tree skirt for our main tree and go on the hunt for a basket. I like the clean look of a basket. I like that it doesn't need to be straightened like a tree skirt does. I like the texture of a basket. And most importantly, I like that I can sweep right around the tree to pick up all the needles! We get a real tree every year, so needle clean up is a thing! Putting our Christmas tree in a basket allows for easy clean up! Woo hoo! I've included a video tutorial at the end of the post! I've also included a way to shop the post at the bottom of the post!

I purchased this large basket at Homegoods. It was a random find and I know large baskets are hard to come by! I got lucky! The diameter is 22", so it's pretty substantial. We had to make sure our tree stand would fit inside the basket! Don't forget to check this part!
We also had to make sure the branches at the bottom were cut far enough up the tree so it didn't look smashed into the basket. We get our trees at Lowes and have them cut the bottom branches off. This is easy to do later on at home with a handsaw if needed. For reference, we usually get a 7-8 foot tree for our space. We place it in between the dining room and the living room, so it's visible from the whole first floor, and from the outside looking in!
To start, clear the space where you want the basket and the tree. I lined the bottom of the basket with a few garbage bags first. I then lined it with a water absorption pad that we picked up at Lowes when we got our tree. We assembled the tree into the tree stand in the garage and brought it in and dropped it into the basket.
Now, it's time to water and decorate your tree! I loved having the tree in a basket and we will be doing it again this coming year. During the off season (the other 11 months of the year), you can put blankets in your basket or a large plant! It never technically has to be put away or stored!
Tree collars give the same effect as a basket, they are usually just lower to the ground. I like the look of the basket best, but a collar is a great alternative! I even brought our tree outside the past few years to enjoy it during the month of January! I know some think I'm nuts, but I don't care! I love the natural look of a real tree!

I hope you enjoy all the season has to offer this year! XO