Thursday, December 31, 2009

A very late Happy Thanksgiving :)

Yep, it's 2 months after Thanksgiving but I just got the pictures (thanks, G) so I wanted to share!I went to a cabin/pension outside of Seoul for Thanksgiving with my Meetup group. Dear William was a wonderful planner and somehow, 60 people were fed and watered that weekend. I was on the cooking team and planning started way in advance. Saturday after Thanksgiving, I met up with Adrienne, William, and Jamaica to shop at Costco for all the things we needed to make it a truly wonderful Thanksgiving. While our shopping wasn't PERFECTLY smooth, we made it happen and finally got all the ingredients.
When we got to the pension, we cooks pretty much dove right in with chopping and preparing. We were so blessed to have great helpers, who became great friends (I'm talking about you, ROH!!!). I made Uncle Fred's Mac and Cheese (sooooooooo delicious) and a couple salads, Jamaica was in charge of mashed potatoes and gravy, Adrienne did the green bean casserole and a garlic and squash bisque (amazing) and we ordered the rest from the base. It was quite a feat to have so much going on and only having one real oven (and it was tiny), plus the fact we only have 6 stove-top eyes...I mean, logistical challenge much? It all turned out very good and we even had room for s'mores and wine afterwards!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's almost Christmas, folks. The weird thing is that it doesn't feel like it. I mean, I realize I'm in a different country but there just isn't a huge emphasis on Christmas and that is REALLY strange for me. I grew up with a mom who LOVES holidays. Any excuse to bring the family together and cook an amazing meal.

The past two years, I worked at the Gap, where Christmas just made me angry. Kids crying because they want more, people spending HUNDREDS of dollars while being completely rude, the horrible Christmas music (I really only like hymns ... there are very few exceptions), and long hours .... I hated it. BUT, this year, with no emphasis on Christmas whatsoever (I work Christmas Eve and tutor on Christmas Day!), Plus the fact that I'm a million miles from my family, I'm kinda wishing I was working another Gap Christmas this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful. I've been able to talk with my brothers and parents (and my dog) and I have AMAZING friends who sent me the best Christmas package ever (thanks, winos!). I also have good friends here and I won't be alone. It's just ... a little depressing to spend my first Christmas away from my family.

On a brighter note, I went skiing last weekend. I was really nervous because it's been 11 years since I last skiied, and I've really only been twice in my life. I thought I would end up hurt or stuck at the top of an incredibly steep run, but I actually did well! I'm a good skiier! Now, my dad told me not to pat myself on the back too much, but I am just really proud. I love the speed! I kinda hate the cold but there's always the promise of a steamy hot jimjilbang to warm the cockles of my heart (what ARE cockles, anyway?).

ANYWAY, I wanted to post a few happy Christmas memories:
Sam, Peter, Nanny, Mom, Brad, me, Adam, and Olivia
Christmas 2006

Me-Maw, Brad, Peter, Sam and me
I LOVE the bow on her head...she left it on there all morning :)
Quite possibly the best Christmas picture ever.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Miss Independent

I think I have finally arrived into that strange world where you are an adult and can't call your dad to fix things at your place. I've never been much of a handy-woman, although my dad DID teach me how to paint a room like a pro, I can mow the lawn better than my brothers, I can check my oil, I can trim hedges, I can pressure wash, etc...all fairly simple things, but things my dad passed on. Things he didn't pass on: computer fix-it knowledge, plumbing knowledge, etc. So, when the chain to the toilet plug thingy broke yesterday and I'm a gazillion miles from my dad, what do you do???

You figure it out. I took a picture of said toilet plug thingy because I don't even know the word for it in ENGLISH much less Korean. I walked past a hardware-y kind of store and showed the man the picture. He gives me a replacement part for 1,000 won (like, 75 cents) and I'm on my way. I texted my boss to let him know of the problem, because I'm thinking there's no way I'm going to be able to put this thing together.

BUT I DID IT!!! I know this may seem like a trivial accomplishment to many of you, but I'm not a gadget girl...I don't do these things well. But, one new toilet plug thingy and 5 minutes later, I have a working toilet.

I am an independent woman.

Now, if someone will just come fix my computer for me ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I haven't blogged in quite awhile and that's because I've felt overwhelmed by everything I want to share. I feel like I've gotten to do some really cool things with some really cool people and I want to write about it, but then I sit down to do it and.......nothing. So, here's my attempt to get back into it with a quick post about something completely Korean that I think is cool.

So, everyone knows that kimchi is THE signature dish of Korea. There are so many different kinds, but it's pretty much fermented cabbage and spices served as a side dish with every meal. variations include radishes, other greenery, some roots, and other things like that. Some is REALLY good (cough Brian's mom's kimchi cough) and some is so-so. You can buy it "fresh" at the store or in jars, or just go to your favorite mom and pop restaurant and keep asking for more (side dish refills are free, yo!).

This time of year (fall-ish, getting colder) is kimchi making time. I knew this but hadn't seen it happening until I walked home after lunch one day. My favorite dakgalbi restaurant had a whole group outside making kimchi. They wash the cabbage and half it, then put mounds of them in big plastic containers and sprinkle rock salt all over it to draw out the water...then they add the other root vegetables, their personal selection of spices and additives (pear juice anyone? fish sauce?) and then layer it into big plastic bins ("back then" they used big kimchi pots and left them outside) and put those into their kimchi fridges. Very cool to see, and very traditional. Pictures do a better job of letting you see the work in progress. I'll be eating this kimchi in about 6 months! Yay!Very common sight in my neighborhood, where people put their peppers out to dry. These will be used in soups, kimchi, and many other dishes. A group shot of the kimchi makers!You can see the big bins of salted cabbage on the far left, and the lady with the striped shirt is the one who owns my favorite restaurant. She and that man are shredding radish and the women in the background are cutting up what looked like green onions (but massive ones).
LOTS of cabbage and my sweet restaurant lady (I need to learn her name!)...

Monday, October 26, 2009

In lieu of a real post (because I procrastinate)...

Just one?

beautiful fall colors by the bus stop

view of Seoul from Taeyeon's wedding reception

I'm going to have a real update soon...I swear!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Random pictures

Gina and me on top of a mountain

relaxing in a meadow

making my wish rock pile

fun with chopsticks

foamy coffee makes me think of Shan my boss (and Gina, but he looks sillier)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jeju-do, Part One

So, before I start this blog post about my recent trip, I wanted to ask your opinion on something: are the pictures good here or should I just blog and do the pics on Facebook? Are they distracting? Let me know what you think....

Ok, now the good stuff. This past weekend was Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving. It's the biggest holiday here, outside of the lunar new year (which falls in February this year, I think)...anyway, the school was closed for Chuseok so I had a 5 day weekend! SCORE! Plus, my boss gave me a fruit box which was wonderful because I love me some fruit and I got to try the massive Asian pears that I've had my eyes on but was scared to try because they're just so big! For the record, they're amazing and I'm now in love with them.

Anyway, I had originally planned on going to North Korea* for Chuseok on an awesome tour of Mt. Kumgang. BUT, sad to say, this tour isn't running right now...hopefully it'll open soon, because I really want to see this place during the autumn while the leaves are changing. So, I changed my plans to Jeju-do, an island off the southern coast of Korea. It is advertised as "Korea's Hawaii" and how could I pass that up? So, I contacted one of my oldest and dearest friends, JD, to come hang with me for Chuseok.

Seriously, this place is gorgeous. I was a little worried when we arrived because it was all rainy and grey, and what use is paradise if the weather is bad? We said our prayers that the weather would improve and it did, thank the Lord! The first day there, JD took a nap while I wandered around looking for food...found a little place and had some spicy, cold noodles that were really pretty good...headed back to wake JD up and we headed to "Hotel Alley" where all the expensive hotels are for Korean massages (one of the most painful things I've ever had done), and then on to Nanta Theatre for a really cool show.

The next day, Victor, our guide, picked us up at the hotel and we headed to our first stop. It had cleared up overnight and we had some amazing views from the volcanic crater. Jeju is a volcanic island, so there are dozens of craters and lava tubes and rocks....absolutely stunning scenery that makes you just want to sit there and not stop looking, ever. The sky was so blue, the rocks so black, the trees and grasses so green...and then the water that was every shade of blue-green you could imagine.

The first crater was beautiful (I have a feeling I'll be using that word a lot in this post) and the peaceful feeling brought on by such quiet and beauty was intense. As was...the wind. Haha, the wind buffeted us every step of the trip and I'm STILL brushing tangles from my hair. Pictures of us on top of the crater don't show the intensity of the wind, but I'll show you anyway :)
After the crater, we stopped by a gorgeous beach on our way to the botanical gardens. JD and I decided to hang out at the beach instead of going to the gardens and Victor, being the chill guide that he is, agreed to come pick us back up in a couple hours for lunch. JD hung out there and I wandered down the coast to explore. I've always been a beach girl at heart, but I also love the mountains. This was the best of both worlds because I had crystal clear water in beautiful shades of blue and green, a backdrop of volcanic mountains, and the stunning lava rocks that made up most of the coast. The beach we were at was one of the few white sandy beaches on Jeju and I spent the better part of an hour wandering in and out of the water, playing with hermit crabs and enjoying the solitude. Pictures just do not do this beach justice....

After lunch, we drove to a green tea plantation. It's amazing to see how it's all done the same way it's been done for thousands of years. Row upon row of lush, green bushes with tiny white flowers stretched across the hilly fields. The rows were dotted with carved, wooden birds perched on top of tall poles, guardians in Korean culture and, in the distance, Mt. Hallasan served as a picturesque backdrop to this unique farm. We were able to sample some of the green tea and all in all, it was a charming and beautiful visit.

After the tea plantation, we hit up a waterfall near Hotel Alley. I forget the name of the waterfall, but legend says that it has something to do with fairies. Hmm...I guess I should have been listening to Victor instead of taking pictures :) Anyway, we walked down lots of very steep stairs (what is it with Asians and really steep, narrow stairs?!) to the waterfall, which was (of course) beautiful. I SO wanted to jump in but no swimming allowed :( After checking out that part, we hiked up more stairs to a....would I call it a pond? No...not sure what it was but it fed the waterfall. It was even more beautiful because it was so clear and was turquoise colored. So pretty...

For a first day of real touring, we got to see a large portion of the island and learned a lot about Jeju-do and it's people. More to come about day two....

*Yes, I want to go to North Korea. I know some might find this absolutely crazy, but it's a good tour and very safe. I have no plans to be insulting or rude, so I should have no problems...I just want to see the scenery!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I have these strange, almost out of body moments when I realize, holy crap, I'm an adult! When did this happen and how do I make it stop? I sometimes wonder if my parents have these moments still, even though they are past the 50's mark (sorry Mom and Dad) where they wonder, when did this happen?

I had it tonight. I had just gotten home and changed into my pajamas, washed the breakfast dishes, looked at the clock and realized it was already past 9pm. I immediately took my nightly pills, drank my probiotic yogurt, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and got in bed to read. Then it hit me...I'm old. I'm an adult. I live alone, halfway across the world from the most important people in my life and I'm an adult. I am responsible for the education of children. I pay bills. I can go on trips without asking permission. I mean, I've been doing this and able to do this for awhile now, but it just hits me at these weird times and I am struck dumb by how quickly life passes. I'm almost 30. 30, people. Wow.

Maybe this is just one of those reflective, late-night moments, but when they happen, they always make me wonder if I'm doing justice to all I've been education, my loving upbringing, my amazing and loyal friends, my kids...even whether or not my grandfather would be proud of me if he could see the woman I am today.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

아 디???

This is my question for daily prayer.

I will wait as long as it takes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


G and I made another foray into glamorous Seoul last Saturday for more shopping, eating, and checking out the sights. Luckily for me, G seems to enjoy the touristy things just as much as I do and is willing to come along with me :) Of course, we started the day out with an absolutely fabulous lunch at Cook N', I know that doesn't sound too appetizing but it was the cutest little restaurant/cafe up an alley. We shared the Premium Italian Burger (on focaccia, SO delicious) and the Shrimp and Crab Pasta....heavenly. And, of course, lunch would not have been complete without taking pictures of our scrumptious food...BEHOLD:

After lunch, we ambled down the market street, checking out the cool jade bracelets, kiosks selling heaven-knows-what-on-a-stick, and a certain street vendor making and selling a candy thing made of tiny threads of honey wrapped skillfully around some kind of powder...he told me he loved me. Memorable, I swear, to have a sweating street vendor tell you he loves you in broken English. In case you were wondering what happens when you pour your beer into your paper cup too quickly...

Roaming the streets of Seoul is always fascinating. Young and old mix in a cacophony of style, noise, and attitude. There is really cool artwork on the street walls, hidden used bookshops (which are great, but it's freaking heavy to carry around 15 lbs of books all day!), little cafes, and of course, what seems like millions of taxis and buses. Seoul is actually the cleanest and nicest Asian city I've been to though. Pollution isn't horrible and everyone is really nice. I'm liking living so close to such a cool city :)

And the token margarita glasses...big shout out to my pals at Margarita Grill! Miss you and your addicting queso!

The awesome used bookstore was right underneath this awesome sign...I love it when I find them...the last time I saw one was in South Africa.

At Seoul Tower, we took a million pictures and checked out Seoul by night. It is SO beautiful up there, and we didn't even go to the top of the tower! We rode a cable car (after hoofing it up a steep 1/2 mile inclined road) up to the base of the tower where they have a Cold Stone Creamery (holla!), souvenir shops, and overlook places where the fence is festooned with locks. Like, padlocks. Apparently, it very romantic to come to the Tower with your beloved and lock a padlock on the fence, thereby ensuring that your love will last forever. I mean, tons of locks, people. There are lots of lovey-dovey peeps in Seoul, y'all!
Can you see the city in the background? BTW, it was windy and pretty chilly up there...the view (and the ice cream) was so worth it!

On the way home, things got a little crazy. I was exhausted (I wimp out early these days) and as everyone knows, when I get tired, I get giggly and weird. We got on the first subway line where the young man beside me proceeded to fall asleep, head lolling on my shoulder. I was laughing so hard I was shaking...I'm surprised I didn't wake him up! We had to change lines after that, so we headed that way.

Here's the thing about the subway...the doors open and you force your way in, trampling old women and children alike, all so you can get a coveted seat for your journey. You DON'T want to stand the whole way. Anyway, I jumped on the subway quickly and headed for a freshly vacated end seat, congratulating myself for being so adept at managing the "Seoul Train". Well, the elderly gentleman who had just vacated the seat realized that it wasn't his stop and proceeded to "back it up" right into my lap. I swear, it seemed to happen in slow motion as his rump lowered itself into my lap. He rebounded fast, though, especially for his age! I, of course, apologized profusely (in English, trying not to laugh) and tried to avoid eye contact with him for the remainder of the journey.
We had such a great and G's little excursions to Seoul always end up memorable!

BTW, these last two pics are of me waiting for the LAST train...I was delirious by this time, which amused G greatly. There are actually quite a few pics of me looking like I'm a beggar and in other odd poses, but I think these show just how tired I really was. You gotta love the friends who capture you at your best ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Megan, I tried to send this in an email but it wouldn't here ya go :) A glimpse of my apt a little more adjusted...
Computer, bedside chest on the left, bookcase on the right...
Microwave, rice cooker, toaster, 2 burner stove, mini fridge....
TV, small table (when Gina comes over to eat, we pull the table out and sit on the floor.
The foyer opening is on the right, as is the bathroom...
Walking into my apt from the front door...
Door, foyer, where I keep my shoes (you take off your shoes when you come in to a house)

My bed and has hanging space and 2 big drawers on the bottom...