I am still in utter shock that Joey is TWO! I remember the day we found out I was pregnant, the day we brought her home, the day she took her first steps…I remember it all like it was yesterday. This year I was entirely too busy to host a big party myself so I reached out to my dear friend Easter (who is actually a fine jewelry designer) from Easter Ahn Design to help plan a party for our very own Mousketeer. We had the amazing photographer, Jeffery Cho take priceless photographs of the day.
This party was inspired from Joey’s love of Disneyland. Growing up I went to Disneyland with my family and absolutely fell in love with the thrill of it all. I knew when I had kids I wanted them to experience the same joy I felt when visiting the park…and Joey absolutely loves visiting! As Walt once said “If you can dream it you can do it”; so we did it! We created our very own Joeyland!
Location: We transformed the new E2Beauty lounge into Joeyland. It was the perfect venue for our party. They just opened their new salon location in Orange County. If you’re ever looking for hair or makeup for an event, go with them! They did my hair and make up for almost every big event in my life including my wedding.
Photobooth: Our friends at Third Eye Photobooth graciously came out and snapped photos for us for the day! If you’ve never been to a party with them you are seriously missing out!
Party Favors: If you remember seeing my Instagram stories from Joey’s birthday I am a realistic gift giver. I wanted to give each child something they would actually use so we got for all the kids custom name shirts from Jean and June. It was so fun seeing how excited each kid was when they got their own shirts to match Joey. Jean and June have the most softest organic tees so go check them out!
Ice cream: I used to live next to a Scoops ice cream in LA and when I moved I was incredibly sad because they had my favorite flavors. When I realized they opened up one in Orange County (Scoops OC), right next door to the party venue, I was absolutely thrilled. It was a no brainer that we had to try them out and I don’t regret it for a minute. Joey may have ate a bit too much gelato that day but who’s really counting? I asked them to create a special flavor for us, inspired by Disneyland’s Pineapple Dole Whip, and they created the most delicious Pineapple Coconut ice cream! Their Brown Bread flavor is one of their signatures. You need to try it if you’re ever in SoCal!
Florist: As usual I cannot throw a party without my friend Hanna at Echo Floral. She helped put so many small, feminine touches on the party. She took the colors Easter used for the party and created the most perfect floral arrangements. I can just imagine these being planted at the Disneyland parks. Aren’t they gorgeous?
Food: If you follow me you know I have a real love for Wholefoods! So naturally, I had to have them make some delicious food and treats for the party. We opted for beautiful simple cakes and pastries for dessert. These cakes were seriously some of the most delicious, mouthwatering cakes I have ever had! One of the great things about all Whole Foods catering is that they never use artificial coloring or ingredients! Joey loved poking her fingers in the cake haha!
Cookies: Joeyland could not have been complete without cookies! Sweetleemade & Sweets by Keeks took my cookie dreams and ran with it! Have you ever seen a cuter cookie? I haven’t! I don’t know anyone else who makes the best custom made desserts like these two. If you’re looking for cakes, cookies, macarons, or whatever desserts for your event, ask them! Thank you ladies!
We also put together a cookie decorating station for each guest to put their Disney imagination to work! Let me tell you we had some amazing decorators in the house that day! I think Joey ate most of the sprinkles though.
Graphic Design: When Easter and I first started brainstorming for this party we wanted to give the guests a true Joeyland experience. We teamed up with Kim Estoesta to create custom signs for each station, menus, props and placemats. When I first walked into the party these signs took my breath away! It was like I was really in a whole new world (see what I did there?).
Balloon art and cotton candy: What is Joeyland without balloons and cotton candy? Well, it’s not Joeyland. Her Balloon Art took Joeyland to the next level with the most amazing balloon art and custom cotton candy! I wish you could all taste her cotton candy because you’d never want anything else!
I wish so badly I could have invited each and every one of you to Joeyland! It truly was the most magical place on Earth. But until Allen let’s me open Joeyland up for good I will just have to share my memories of the day with you.
Custom built booths and backdrops: Easter wanted to have booths like how it would look like at Disneyland so she asked Iron Grace Rentals to custom build these amazing pieces for us. I was absolutely shocked. They came in to install, breakdown, and take everything with them at the end of the party as well. Wow.
All printed goods: Everything including the popcorn containers, signs and posters, menu maps and the incredible photo booth backdrop were all printed by Avant Print Media.
I’ve been trying to be better about feeding myself. Lately I’ve been just focused on cooking for Joey and then for some reason I’m not as hungry after she eats. Is anyone else like this?? Skipping meals is no good especially when you’re parenting and working all day and night. I found that when I do eat, it’s usually something really quick and not as healthy and I’m seeing the side effects of it already this year. I’m more tired and end up snacking on sweets more during the day.
So I decided to do something different this year and attempt (key word: ATTEMPT) to start eating more salads during the week. Now that a Whole Foods Market opened up close by and I’ve been traveling around the west coast to different WF markets and have been seeing all the amazing produce they have, I decided to do a series on salads. I’m going to start getting more fresh ingredients from my local WFM local store to make myself some delicious lunch salads to motivate me to eat better. I made this salad this week and I’m pretty proud of it because it has 13 ingredients! It was so good that Joey stole some of it when I wasn’t looking! I realize when I make my salads like this, all elaborate and beautiful to eat, it ends up motivating me to make more and eat more salads. Looks like Joey’s not the only one I like to dress up! 😉
This is our favorite time of year because it’s the start of our favorite holidays beginning with Halloween. We love dressing up all year round but this month it’s socially acceptable haha. It’s also our favorite time of year because we get to feast on holidays foods and treats. This year Joey is old enough to take in part of the Halloween festivities with us such as trick-or-treating, however we decided not to indulge her with candy this year because if she’s anything like me, she will get HOOKED on candies. Might as well prolong the inevitable! So we decided to think of some alternatives for treats for her this year. Since Joey LOVES fruit, I thought it would be fun to get an Edible Arrangements full of cute fruit cut out and arranged in a bouquet. She loved it! There were some chocolate covered fruit but that went straight to my mouth.
In case you don’t have an Edible Arrangements store near you, here are some great ideas that I’ve been finding on blogs for candy alternatives for Halloween. We’ll be trying some of these treats for Joey this year!
I know Joey will LOVE these because tangerines are one of her favorite fruits. For these all you need are tangerines and celery stalks & leaves. Just take a pairing knife or use your fingers to remove the white membranes on the outside, wash and slide the celery stalks to fit in the middle and there you go! Not sure if Joey will eat the celery but there’s no hurt in trying!
This one cracked me up when I saw it because it just looked so easy! Why didn’t I think of that?? If you’ve seen Joey’s Banana Talk video, you’ll know how much she loves bananas. This one’s perfect for her! This one has a bit of chocolate chips but it’s pretty much just bananas. No pun intended.
If anyone has any more candy alternative ideas, comment below! I’m all for tricking kids into eating healthy snacks!
If you’ve been watching our Instagram Stories, you might’ve caught me feeding Joey some Miyeok Guk for lunch or dinner. It’s her absolutely favorite food. It’s so easy to make and is something she eats pretty often.
Miyeok Guk is a Korean seaweed soup which mothers eat postpartum for at least the first few weeks after giving birth because of its amazing health benefits. It helps with lactation/breastmilk supply and is known to be the best thing for mothers in recovery, at least in Korea. I ate this soup with rice for about 2 weeks straight along with a very simple no-salt/no fried diet (for a month) and I have to say it did make me feel like I was recovering quicker than I expected, I didn’t feel lethargic or tired like I thought I would be and I had a pretty good breastmilk supply by the end of the first week. It was tough being on a strict no-salt diet and eating this soup 3-4x a day for two weeks but I have friends who have done it for a month! The fish sauce has sodium in it so it was the only amount of sodium I had. Everything else I ate, for example, salmon, I had to only season with lemon. I will admit though that I feel strongly that it did help me with postpartum recovery, especially in the area of breast milk production. The Koreans started this postpartum tradition after they noticed centuries ago that whales would eat massive amounts of seaweed after giving birth to nurse their calves. I don’t know how much of that is true but that’s how the tradition started! Miyeok Guk is also known as Korean Birthday Soup and is commonly eaten during birthdays because of this tradition.
Miyeok/seaweed is actually a super food as it contains a great source of calcium, iodine, fibre, omega acids, vitamin B1 & B3, while low in calorie. It helps with metabolism, blood circulation and purification, constipation relief, detoxification, anti-carcinogen, anti-aging etc. No wonder the Koreans love this stuff!
There are many different variations of Miyeok Guk but since so many of you asked for my specific recipe that I use for Joey, here it is.
Ingredients: Yields 2-3 “Joey-servings”
Dried seaweed (You can find them at most Asian grocery stores) *Please note that this is not the same as the dried seaweed snacks. Those are already cooked, salted and ready to eat. The dried seaweed you want to get for this recipe is the one that is dried in its original state and it usually comes in a long packet like the one pictured below.
2.5 ounces of thinly sliced beef brisket or ground beef
4 cups of cold water for the soup / Extra water to soak dried seaweed in
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of fish sauce
I like to use my Korean Stone Pot instead of my other cooking pots because it doesn’t leave a stain where the top of the soup is and it retains the heat longer than my stainless steel pots. In general I like to cook simple things like pasta and boiling water in my stainless steel pots as soups tend to leave odors behind. You can find a Korean Stone Pot here. You can cook Bibimbap in there as well, which is a fav Korean dish of mine.
Use your scissors to cut a handful of seaweed. FYI, a little bit dried seaweed goes a long way.
Soak the dried seaweed in cold water for at least 30 minutes. An hour is ideal. After 30 minutes, you’ll see the seaweed take its original shape.
When it’s ready, rinse the seaweed twice and drain. Squeeze to remove excess salt that was used in the drying process. Cut into bite sized pieces for your little one. You can always cut again after the soup is made.
Sauté the meat in your pot with a tiny bit of sesame oil. Again, a little bit of sesame oil goes a long way so use a very small amount. You can always a tiny bit more later if needed. Add the seaweed, minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Sauté for 5 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom, you can add a bit more oil.
Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a medium low and let simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Skim off any foam or oil that floats on top and serve with rice.
For Joey, I like to use this Seven Grain organic rice which includes brown rice, barley, millet, flax seed, wheat, red quinoa, and wild rice. I got these at Costco.
Sometimes I make a larger batch and keep several portions in the freezer so I can whip them out if I’m pressed for time for a meal prep. The regular version of this recipe is a little different as most people use soy sauce but I prefer the flavor of the fish sauce far more better. You can also substitute the beef with chicken, shiitake mushrooms, abalone or mussels. You can add tofu if you’d like as well! It’s a super healthy dish and hopefully your little ones will love it as much as Joey does!
We now have a YouTube Channel! Now you see follow more of our family’s journey through weekly vlogs. If there’s anything you’d like to see us vlog about, let us know in the comments below! We’re kicking it off with Joey’s First Birthday Cake Smash and Doljabi. If you haven’t already and wanted to check it out, Joey’s First Birthday party blog post is up! Traditionally in Korean culture, the first birthday is a big celebration because before access to medical care was readily available in Korea many many years ago, it was a big deal for a baby to live past his or her first birthday. Hence the big celebration. Since Joey is mostly Korean, we decided to keep this part of her heritage included in her birthday party. We set up a doljabi which is a Korean tradition where the birthday child is placed in front of various objects that represents a certain future with respect to career or lifestyle. Typically the items represent things like Doctor, Lawyer, Scholar, Entrepreneur, Judge, Athlete or Performing Artist. We decided to pick unique occupations that were sort of inside jokes to me and Allen. Obviously this game is just a tradition and isn’t what Joey will end up becoming but we decided to keep the tradition but change it up a bit just to make it fun. We had a planet toy to represent Astronaut, an In-N-Out hat to represent the In-N-Out District Manager, grapes to represent Sommelier, dining utensils to represent Michelin Star Food Critic and an American flag to represent POTUS. She ended up picking the grapes first and then continued to pick up every one of the other items so I guess she’ll tackle all of those jobs?? 😉 Her cake smash wasn’t so much of a smash as it was a gentle massage of the dessert. She was so tired and out of it by that point of the party but she was such a trooper and stuck her hands in there and soaked in the moment. So fun to see her first bite of sugar! Thank you Uncle Paul for this video footage!
Joey is eating more solids and purees these days and she’s been such a champ! One of her favorites lately is the spinach puree. We love that spinach is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s so simple and easy to prepare!
First, I wash the spinach and place it in the steamer in a pot of boiling water and cover with a lid. Depending on the portion size, I leave it steaming for about 5-7 minutes or when the spinach is tender and still vibrant in color. Once it’s ready, I add the steamed spinach in a cup or jar (Tip: Use a tall jar to avoid splashing), and use my immersion blender to puree the greens.
I’ve mentioned this before on my Instagram Stories, but the immersion blender is awesome for making purees! I know there are awesome products that both steam and puree foods all in one machine but for me, I wanted minimal cleaning and easy storage so the immersion blender worked for us. I don’t always use the blender however when I’m only making a tiny portion. After steaming, the spinach is so easy to chop up with a knife so I do that sometimes when I’m not making a larger batch to freeze.
Once the spinach is cool, it’s time to eat!
We are blessed that Joey is such a good eater and enjoys each meal time. She was all smiles and giggles eating her spinach puree! I hope this post inspires you to try new foods and flavors with your little one!
Hi, I'm Laura Izumikawa. I'm a stay-at-home-working-mama to Joey and wife to the funniest guy I know. My photos of my napping daughter dressed up as pop culture icons became viral one day and now I blog about our lives because it turns out, people want to know more about us which is totally crazy to me! Thanks for visiting!
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