korean palaces

Despite dealing with some family things while I was recently in Korea, I was still able to go sightseeing a few of the days. My sister lives in Kuwait, but she flew over for about a week of the time that I was over there with my mom. It worked out great because it meant I had some else who spoke English and someone to do touristy things with, since my mom isn’t interested. Plus it was extra nice to spend some time with my sister, who I usually see just once a year. We took the train into Seoul a couple times and some of my fave sights were the Korean palaces – so pretty so I need to share some (of the manyyyyyy) photos.

First we went to Gyeongbokgung, which was actually my favorite. It was originally built in 1395 and was the principal royal residence until 1592. It was destroyed in a Japanese invasion and in ruins for nearly 300 years. Work to restore it began in the 1800s and it was fully restored more recently. I loved the sprawling lush grounds around the buildings. It was the perfect season to be in Korea.

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Above are the traditional jars for “jang” or sauces, like soy sauce, hot pepper paste etc. Lots of jars, lots of sauces yum. Below – I loved see some of the girls dressed in the traditional Korean hanbok dresses. So pretty. I think they were just randomly walking around in them. Like, whatevs. I like it.

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Next we went to Changdeokgung, which my travel guidebook suggested was the must-see palace. But I gotta say I liked the first one more. I don’t know if we didn’t give ourselves enough time to explore but it seemed like there wasn’t as much to see. But I think we kinda got lost. And there is apparently an amazing secret garden which we accidentally didn’t buy tickets for. Oops. This is what happens when you plan a trip in only a few days. It had the most restored interiors though which was cool to see.

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Lastly we went to Deoksugung. There are four main palaces in Seoul and we only made it to three. Oops. This palace didn’t have as much grounds to see really and was more in the city, right near City Hall and taller buildings. But we went for the changing of the guards ceremony which was really cool to see.


It was really cool to see these palaces which had so much history. I wish we would’ve had more time to explore and planned better so that we could’ve taken some of the guided tours in English. The architecture of the palaces was really similar but each one had its own unique qualities too. And I guess next time I go to Korea, I will just need to hit up that fourth major palace (Changgyeonggung, in case you were wondering). Good reason to go back, right? Right.

Are you a fan of visiting foreign palaces too? Don’t they make you dream of being a fancy princess? Sigh. Well I hope everyone has a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. I’m looking forward to catching up on house things, life things, relaxing, Game of Thrones and sleeping!

jetlag is real

pugs sleeping

I’m writing this post at 3 am on Monday morning because I cannot sleep. Jetlag is real, people. And she’s a mean old lady.

I’ve never been a great sleeper. But I can typically get in a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep on average nights. I feel for about half an hour before bed and fall asleep pretty easily. I might wake up once or twice but I typically sleep right up to my alarm and hit snooze once or twice. Then I never need to nap during the day. I typically take 0-1 naps per year. I’m a scheduled sleeper so naps just don’t work for me.

But in the week I’ve been back from spending 2 weeks in Korea, my body is alllllllll out of whack. I immediately went back to work since I took 2 weeks off. I’ve been waking up about an hour earlier each day after sleeping fitfully all night. I’m wide awake in the mornings. I feel okay for the first few hours of work. And then I find myself talking to people and losing my train of thought. I’ve also been mindlessly eating all day to keep myself awake. Then around 2 pm, I feel like I could go to sleep standing up for 100 hours.

I’ve taken several naps in the last week after work. Then I wake up feeling better but can’t sleep at night. I’ve been trying to work out but I feel like I’m going to fall on my face. Over the weekend, I had some drinks with friends and slept at my friend’s house. I only woke up once for about an hour and then slept in until an amazingly glorious 8 am. I thought I was cured.

Then Sunday night I woke up every hour, tossed and turned all night and finally was just completely wide awake by 3 am. Whyyyyyy. I read (on the Googles) that traveling west to east gives you much worse jetlag (which explains why I felt totally fine traveling west TO Korea). And it can take the amount of days as time zones you crossed to feel normal again. Korea is 13 hours ahead of East Coast time. It’s been 7 days. If I’m still this off schedule and have 6 more days to get back to normal, I’m going to lose my mind.

Also when you wake up at night surrounded by a happily snoozing husband and 2 snoring pugs, you want to punch everyone. (Don’t worry, I haven’t punched any humans or dogs. Yet.)
Share your tips for getting over jetlag. Or send me your extra sleep you don’t need. Thaaaaaanks!

creating the perfect wedding registry

Happy Monday. How was everyone’s weekend? I’m finally starting to get over my jetlag but I’m still zombie-ing my way through the days. And after Friday’s serious post, today it’s time for something lighter. Since I got married within the last year, I’m going to say that I’m a wedding planning expert. Makes sense, right? Right. So I totally need to share my amazing wedding knowledge with you guys today on creating the perfect wedding registry.

creating the perfect wedding registry - jadeoak.com

What you need

I read registry lists saying you must register for x, y and z. But why would I register for something I absolutely don’t need? For example, we aren’t fancy people, so I didn’t get china because I figured I would never use it.

What you have space for

If you are living in and plan to continue living in a smaller space, maybe don’t register for a million huge kitchen appliances like a stand mixer and a ginormous griddle. If you need those types of things now, consider a hand mixer and a larger skillet, knowing you can buy those other things later. Why receive a gift that will have to stay in a box for years?

Color scheme

You can never go wrong with white sheets and white towels. But if you want to color coordinate your house, pick out your fave colors. I picked a robin’s egg blue Kitchenaid mixer and a guest saw this and got me pretty placemats in a similar color. It helped to show people what I liked.

Pick a mix of price points

Some guest might want to just buy a few smaller things, like spatulas, can openers, etc. But you also might have some guests who want to chip in together and will get you a big ticket item you’re dying for. Give people options so they can still get you a thoughtful gift on any budget.

Choose your registry stores wisely

We went with Macy’s and Crate and Barrel. There is only one actual Crate and Barrel store in the Pittsburgh area, but I know that it is easy to order from there. But I also chose Macy’s since those are accessible to people all over the place, plus they have shipping too. I had to remember that not everyone shops online (shocking!) so having a local Macy’s would make it easier on them. Consider this so you aren’t choosing stores that no one can get to.

Consider if you’re traveling

If your bridal shower is out of town, you might not want to register for really big items that you will need to lug back home. You can always give guests the option to have gifts sent to your home. This makes it easier on you and they get out of wrapping something. Win win.

Don’t forget the basics

Getting the big ticket items is great, but don’t forget the little things you need to use everyday. This is a great time to get nice drinking glasses, silverware and pretty dish towels. You’ll have these items for years to come and it’ll be nice to remember that you got them for your wedding.

Don’t stalk the registry

You can soooo easily stalk your registry to see when items have been bought. I admit that I totally did this but I wish I hadn’t. Most gifts already aren’t a surprise, so why ruin it even more?


Aaaaand on the day of your actual bridal shower – smile! I know a lot of us have resting bitch face, but it’s just one day. Winky emoji.

Any tips you’d share for wedding registry planning?? Are you working on your registry now?

what i’m made of

Hello blogland! I’ve been back in America for a few days and am finally sitting down to blog. I have lots of wonderful things and pretty photos to share about my trip to Korea, but first I have a more reflective post. Bear with me.


While we were in Korea, I got some news about opportunities I missed out on. I was really disappointed about the news and let myself get a little down. And then I felt guilty for feeling bad for myself when I looked around me.

We were staying in my cousin’s two bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and their two kids. My aunt was staying with us off and on too. My mom, my sister and I were sleeping on 2 twin mattresses on the floor. My cousin and her boyfriend work 6 to 7 nights a week and sleep during the days.

We visited my mom’s oldest sister back in their hometown. She is 75 years old and lives in a small apartment with her son and takes care of his three daughters while he works. The apartment is on the 4th floor with no elevator and no lights in the stairwells. There was garbage on the floor, peeling wallpaper and holes in the couch with the stuffing coming out. But she still insisted on giving my sister and me $50 each.

We also visited my mom’s brother. He is depressed because his wife left him. He drinks and smokes and doesn’t eat very much. He looked to be about 100 lbs and the walls of his house are made of corrugated plastic fastened to wood posts with pushpins. (The photo above was taken near his house.) He was finally just hospitalized to hopefully get better in time for his daughter’s wedding next month.

My aunt who we were visiting has stage 3 lung cancer and just started chemo. 30 years ago, she spilled boiling water down the front of her body and sustained 3rd degree burns down her chest, stomach and arms. She had to have skin grafted from other parts of her body and suffers from the pain of it constantly. Still, she walked everywhere with us, slept on the floor and I watched her shuck oysters for hours while crouched on the floor.

I’m not telling you these things to make you feel bad for me or for family. I am proud and humbled by their generosity, positivity and resilience. They helped to remind me that life is hard for everyone in different ways. This was a real life in your face reminder, not some sort of hypothetical “you better eat your broccoli because kids are starving in China” stories that my parents told me when I was young.

This is my family and they are the same stuff that I am made of. If I can only remember how lucky I am, I can brush off tiny set backs like they are nothing. Because they are. Feeling sorry for myself gets me nowhere. Remembering all the good parts of my life will get me everywhere. It doesn’t matter if my problems are huge or small, because everyone is dealing with something. I just have to remember to not let my worries become all encompassing where they blot out the good things in my life.

I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer post. Instead I want it to be a reminder to feel content in our lives, while still striving for our goals. Our setbacks and failures don’t define us. How we react is what is more important.

So there’s my serious blog post for the year. Whew. I promise to be back next week with lighthearted goodness and pretty photos from beautiful Korea. Though it’s nice to dig down into those deep thoughts now and then. Have a great weekend, kiss your loved ones, sleep in, play in the sun, don’t stress about money/work and eat dessert!