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Foreign Creatures

Snociety: Theme

restaurant, home decorJessicaComment

After 4 months of being stuck with a logo...it's done! And now that I'm out of my stuck zone, I feel more confident in sharing our process and progress. So let's start off with our inspiration for changing up the space then we'll get more in depth in future post. When we got the restaurant, the space looked like this:

We decided to keep the wood walls and the major construction items like the countertops, flooring, and furniture. At least for phase 1. Phase 2 would be like if we had money to spend. Phase 1 is like a $2000 budget. And we know that budgets are really just a number that we kid ourselves. The wood is a tile and has a distressed look. The flooring is concrete, which I love. We wanted to bring some life into the restaurant and to be in the LA VIBE scene especially since we're located in downtown LA. So our theme word is...Urban Earthy. When it came to deciding furniture, decoration, uniform, and everything in between, we would ask ourselves..."is it urban earthy?" That was a good parameter for us to keep a cohesive theme going.

Since this restaurant was passed down to us and we were already in operation, we couldn't shut down to remodel. Plus, we didn't have the financial means to do it. So we did things little by little but fast.

Here were some inspirational photos for our Urban Earthy restaurant:

More photos to come and I'm excited to share the transformation especially when we get the funds to transform it into a beautiful urban earthy restaurant!

We bought a Poke Shop!

food, thoughtsJessicaComment

Here's the story of how we bought a poke and boba shop called Snociety Urban Eatery in Little Tokyo and how all of this happened in 3 days! One Friday we found out that our family member was planning to sell the poke shop. They offered it to us but we said no because we had no interest in being restaurant owners nor did we know anything about it. BUT THEN my parents talked to us about how it's a great opportunity and they crunched some numbers for us to see. And on Saturday night, we were like okay maybe we should do this. (Everything also made sense. It wasn't just because my parents that we decided to do this.) Then Sunday we prayed about it and Monday morning we decided YES. We needed to make the decision quick or else the shop would've been sold to someone else. So that Monday I had to tell my boss that that week will have to be my last week with the company.

Here are 3 reasons why we decided to take on a poke shop and call ourselves restaurant owners!

  1. The opportunity was there - the shop's Yelp reviews were good, people liked the food, everything was set in place. We just had to survive. And will we?
  2. It's been hard waiting to adopt and we needed to do something BIG to keep our minds off of kids. We figured owning a shop will definitely help us with that.
  3. We love poke, boba, Little Tokyo, and Japan. The Saturday my parents talked to us about the shop, was the same day Aaron and I had our Japanese Day Date. On those dates, we would go to Little Tokyo to eat ramen for lunch and then pick up sashimi at the Japanese market and eat it for dinner at home while watching a movie, which ends up being a Marvel movie. Was it meant to be?

It's been about 3 months since we owned the shop and a lot of things have changed. I'll be posting before and after photos and many many challenges and joys of being a restaurant owner. So many things to share! Aaron and I could not have done it without our parents, family, and friends support. We've had so many visitors and we feel so loved every time a familiar face opens our door. It's been a joy and I am thrilled to serve our family and friends in this way.

Sharing the News

familyJessicaComment

Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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We've heard from the agency and from other adoptive parents how it may be difficult to discuss adoption with family and friends. We were told that "they just won't understand." Aaron and I now understand what those people meant. And the longer we're in this process, the more weight and worry I feel. But I think that's why God wants us to rely on Him and to bring our worries and fears to him. Here are some of the questions and responses we got when we told people we're planning to adopt for our first kid:

  • Can you afford it?
  • What if the birthparents take the kid back?
  • Why do you want to adopt your first kid?
  • I'm worried about the birthparents medical history
  • Won't they feel less loved if your 2nd kid is biological?

These are all great questions that we had to ask ourselves as well. Some of these are misconceptions, which we didn't even know. And even with our worries, we feel good about our decision. I think it's great that people ask us questions but there are questions that stir a bit when asked. As long as people ask with a good tone or attitude then I'd be happy to answer them. I'm very wishful thinking. If this adoption really does go through, then our family will never stop hearing these questions. This is something I'll have to learn to get through and be okay not answering others.

I say if this adoption really does go through because even though we're invested already, there's a possibility that we won't be placed. Maybe after 2 years of waiting, Aaron and I will be tired of just waiting. It's hard to say and we won't know until the time comes. We just have to keep praying that if this is God's will, then we have to be patient and trust in Him.

The beginning of our adoption process

familyJessica1 Comment

Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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IMG_7608.JPG

Aaron and I attended an 8 hour orientation with Bethany Christian Services tonight and there are so many things racing through our minds. With the advice of some adoptee parents, I decided to journal our process - for us, for our future kids, and for you. I am writing this in January and I don't know when or if this will ever get published on my blog. There are things I want to share...the excitement and joy about adopting, concern about the birthparents and waiting period, how faith and prayer plays a huge role in this, what others may think, and why we want to adopt. I'm unsure where to start talking about these things so I'll start off with when we started thinking about adopting.

Plans for children
Adoption was on our mind before we got engaged. I think a lot of couples start off this way. Aaron was more into adoption than I was. I just wanted kids so I just considered adoption as a possibility. We both agreed to have kids first and then adopt because we wanted to adopt an available child and because it's a picture of how God adopted us to be His children. We got married in 2013 and lived our lives just us 2 for 2 years. We talked about having kids after 2 years of marriage. But right before our 2 year anniversary (in May 2015) we bought a home and decided to wait to have kids until our home was organized and livable so we don't have to worry about moving things around while I'm pregnant. Our goal was then to get pregnant starting January 2016, which meant that we had to finish organizing and decorating our home in 7 months. We didn't doubt that we would have trouble getting pregnant. We never took a fertility test but just assumed that it'll be easy to get pregnant. Wishful thinking we know. So we had our plan set. Get pregnant beginning of 2016 and have a kid by the end of the year.

How adoption came to our mind sooner than later
Last September I videoed a coworker (and his family) who adopted a kid from Korea. One of my company's purpose is to serve and care for others so our CEO wanted the adoptive parents to share their adoption process and wanted me to film their story to be shared with the rest of the company. I'm a graphic designer at work but I also do some video stuff - so that's why I'm the one who would be filming. I finished the video, learned more about adoption, shared it with Aaron and discussed and confirmed again with Aaron that we want to adopt in the future.

One month later I was thinking about the adoption video at work (not sure why). Maybe I was viewing the videos I've done in 2015. And I thought to myself "why not just adopt now? What are we waiting for?" That day Aaron picked me up from work and I told him what I thought. To my surprise he said "Okay, let's do it"...I didn't think he would be up for it so soon. For us it seemed so simple to just do it now. We didn't have a great reason to have biological kids first...we just wanted kids. It just seemed right to do it and we didn't have to discuss it further.

Finding an agency
The day after, I started to look at adoption agencies and asked my coworker for a bit more info. Aaron and I needed more information before doing anything so we signed up for a couple of meetings. At this point we knew we wanted to adopt an infant and have a closed adoption. Then we attended the International Adoption meeting at Bethany in November. We learned so much at this meeting: why Bethany encourages an open adoption, restrictions on adopting internationally, and what is required to adopt internationally. We were also convinced to have an open adoption instead of a closed adoption, which I will explain in a later post. So we came out of this meeting so confident and excited to start the process and so sure that adopting through Bethany was the right choice - especially because the gospel is part of their mission. They put so much love and care to the pregnant mothers. They give resources to the women and see if they are fit to raise a child; they don't push them towards adoption but instead give them that option. Aaron and I were convicted after this meeting and felt so strongly about adoption and why God put this in our hearts.

Is it a good time to adopt?
Though we felt so much more passionate about adoption after our first informational meeting, we wanted a kid fast. We didn't want to wait another year or 2 to have our adopted kid in our home. We wondered if we could get pregnant and adopt at the same time. I asked the agency and they said if we do get pregnant then our adoption application will have to be put on hold and we wouldn't be able to adopt until our kid is 1 year old (the rule now is if the kid is 6 months old). Aaron and I were struggling with this fact. We knew adopting would push our family plan further and that was hard for us. We prayed for God's wisdom on what we should do. Then we decided to have our first kid and then to adopt our second. But then I felt a tug in my heart that I wanted our first kid to be adopted. I wanted our kid to know that we chose to adopt him or her first. I told Aaron this and he was on board. We felt that God's plan for us was to adopt first.

Are we doing it or not?
Fast forward to today - the day we attended the domestic infant orientation with Bethany. It was an 8 hour orientation and oh my goodness we learned so much. We heard stories from a couple adopted parents and a birthmom, went thru the paperwork process of adopting, what would happen during the waiting period, and what happens during placement and post placement. I cried like 7x since the meeting. A whirlwind of thoughts.

During this meeting I struggled again with the fact that the average wait time to adopt a baby is 2 years. And this is average. The most may be 4 years. I got emotional and couldn't accept the fact that we would have to wait another 2 years to have a child. I cried and told Aaron that I'm not sure if adopting is what I want to do first even though earlier I said that I wanted our adopted kid to know that we chose him/her first. Very contrary but that's just how I felt. Aaron remained the same - he was willing to wait 2 years. After listening to the rest of the orientation, I changed my mind again. Geez right? On our way home I told Aaron how I came to the conclusion that adopting first is what I want to do. These are my reasons:

  • God is tugging on my heart to adopt a kid just as God adopted us to his family. I guess so much that we got to do it now
  • The adoption process will surely test Aaron and I in our marriage and us as individuals - and I want to feel it and be invested in it
  • God may be wanting us to use the waiting period to run full force to serve the church. We're involved in different ministries at church and I'm not sure if we're ready to step down in some of those ministries to focus on our family

If I were to sum up this post it would be this: Should we adopt or not? I first said yes, then no, then yes, then no, then yes let's do it. We are very excited yet scared to start this journey and I thank you for reading along :)

Let's Be Open

thoughtsJessicaComment

This year has been insane. Or maybe that's just the nature of Aaron and me. So let me just let it out and tell you what's going on. I'll explain more in future posts but here's what's been happening since our Paris trip.

  1. Aaron and I are planning to adopt
  2. Aaron and I were almost matched with a child but the adoption plan didn't go through. We we're sad to say the least
  3. I quit my job as a full-time graphic designer at a corporate company, where I've been working at for almost 4 years
  4. Aaron and I opened a poke shop
  5. Our guestroom's custom bookshelf is finally done

I'm pretty proud of #5 btw. Is this God's plan for us? We shall see.

Updates and a Trip to Paris

JessicaComment

I needed to organize my life before I could blog again so here is my partial return. Now on to some "fun" updates.

Sync to Dropbox NOW
So this is what happened. A month ago my work computer crashed and everything was gone. Two weeks after that happened, my home desktop computer crashed while I was syncing my files to Dropbox. Everything was gone but then I took it to Di-No Computers to get it fixed. And they did it! I thought it was gone forever but they recovered all my files. So I have all my blog posts, client work, photos since 2004, and a ton of other lovely things. I took more photos in high school than I do now so if I lost those photos, I would've been crushed.

Off to Paris
Aaron and I are off to Paris today! We are so excited but also nervous. We're excited because we just want to relax. We got our professional and personal things tidied up and we're ready to leave our duties behind to focus on our marriage and seeing Paris. Being there will also inspire us to dream big and to come up with ideas for music, art, and how we can better serve our church together. I hope to come back from Paris feeling rejuvenated and ready to create.

So we're also nervous because it's our first time traveling just us 2 internationally, it'll be raining, and we're trusting my organization and planning for this trip. I love scheduling but traveling to Paris is foreign to me, so this is a true test if I planned well. I talked to a lot of people who went to Paris and I read many blogs and articles on what to do there. There's just so many things to do that we decided to play it cool and go at our own pace and go to whatever bakery and cafe smell lures us.

Perhaps I'll blog a bit while I'm there. I still have a lot to share from our Japan trip last summer and on our home that I'm excited to post. I'll also be sharing some exciting news soon! Not yet because I'm not ready to share it publicly. Just know that it is something we're very excited about and that it's worth reading.

Japan: Fukui Part 1

travelJessicaComment

Fukui is where my brother-in-law Nate lives. He's been there for about 2 years now teaching English. We were told that older people lived in this country area and they're kind of known for dinosaurs. I got this really cute blue and yellow dinosaur backpack for my nephew. Places are not that close in proximity so we rented a car. It was great staying here because we got to visit Nate's church, where he worked, and we got to do a lot of traditional stuff like making soba noodles, going to festivals, and an onsen. We spent 5 days here so we took our time and relaxed :)

See after the photos to see a list of our expenses

VISIT
Festival - there are a lot of festivals in the summer and they're free so I recommend visiting one while you're there and eat as much as you can. We tried scallops, takoyaki, egg waffle and crepe!
Lpa Shopping Center - we shopped here twice and there's a ton of stuff from clothing, gifts, food, to stationery items
Bunkyo Gospel Center - we attended this church on Sunday. It was great to see Christians worshipping God from a different country. They also had english translators and a lot of english speaking people there
Wego - clothing shop where I bought a cute skirt and top
Seria - equivalent to daiso or the dollar store in US. Tons of great stuff
Tea Ceremony - we attended a tea ceremony for the junior high and high schoolers. We decided not to participate in it and just watched
School - we went to Nate's school and they had summer class going on. We had to wear slippers indoors and got to see some students play the taiko

EAT
Hacchouya - dinner here was great! We ordered some sashimi and hot pot. We went here twice because they open late
Circle K - convenient store that you can find anywhere
Venice de Bakery - located in Fukui station, it's a great place to get bread for breakfast or anytime of the day really
Akiyashi Yakitori - we had dinner here with Nate's church friends. We tried basically every yakitori they had and it was delicious!!
Revolving sushi - it was fun going to these restaurants. One trip we got to order from a LCD screen and another place we just had to grab the fish off the revolving belt

EXPENSES (for 2) by days according to video
Day 1 - Fukui
Hacchouya dinner - 2000
Circle K ice - 498

Day 2 - Fukui
Venice de Bakery - 713
Doutor iced green tea - 340
Ham - 500
Scallop - 400
Takoyaki - 500
Egg waffle - 300
Strawberry crepe - 500
Snail shell- 300
Seven eleven - 895

Day 3 - Fukui
Venice de Bakery - 456
Rice - 300
Wego - 3218
Seria - 108
Headband - 842
Grove headband - 1512
Akiyashi Yakitori - 3827

A Break in LA

travelJessicaComment

Last Friday my friends and I took PTO to just have a day of fun...AND IT WAS FUN. We started off with make your own poke Thursday night then watched She's the Man. Friday we started off our day early and had non-stop fun.

EAT
Tacos Tumbras a Tomas (in Grand Central Market)- $3 tacos for a load of food. I tried the pork intestine and birria (goat) and so yummmyyy
Berlin Currywurst (in GCM) - we got the brat and fries
Eggslut (in GCM) - we tried the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for $7
DTLA Cheese + Kitchen (in GCM) - afternoon cheese for snack. We tried gouda and some other soft cheese I forgot the name of
G & B Coffee (in GCM) - Iced coffee to start the day off right
Cha for Tea - my favorite boba shop. I got the honey green milk tea
Relax Massage Skincare - $18 foot massage for 1 hour. It was perfect especially since we walked for over 3 hours
Pho 79 - this is near my house so we just walked over. $6.95 for their pho soup dishes

DO
LA Flower Market - WOW love it. I don't think I ever been and I want to go again. I was able to make 8 bouquets from the flowers and greenery I bought
Pop Physique - we got a free class for checking in on yelp. It was a barre workout
WB Studio Tour - 3 hour tour and it was so fun! My favorite part was the prop part and seeing the Pretty Little Liars set. My phone died so I didn't get any photos. We weren't allowed to take photos at the PLL set because the show is still going on. It was cool cause they were also shooting the new Gilmore Girls for Netflix while we were there. We weren't allowed in that area. Another favorite was the Friends set
Think Tank Gallery - Break Bread exhibit. This was a free exhibit and it was quite cool. The artists had cake on the wall and a nice neon sign right when you enter