Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Surprise

Can you imagine a more appropriate way to kick off Fall's arrival than with a slice of pumpkin pie? Okay, so I'm technically a few days behind if we're going by the calendar. But regardless, aren't you wondering how I wound up with the pie?!

Would you believe I bought it this evening at Costco? My neighbor invited me along as his guest, and we had a field day rummaging through hard cheeses, familiar condiments, and those legendary Costco muffins. And then I spied the pie! So orange, so cheery, so delicious! Definitely the best purchase I've made in a long while. Now, if only I can figure out how to make it last a few days... 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bouncy Shoes

The other day on the subway I caught sight of a well-dressed man who appeared to be in his 30s and on his way home from work. Nothing about his ensemble seemed out of the ordinary, except for his footwear. I discreetly pulled out my camera and took a quick shot, hoping he wouldn't notice. I don't think he saw me, however many of the other passengers noticed his shoes, and I could tell they were talking about them. Can't imagine why...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Zee Whopper

In class today we were discussing healthy lifestyles and eating habits. I asked various students if they ate a healthy diet. My favorite response came from a French student who's here on an exchange program. Here's a paraphrase of our conversation:
Me:  Is your diet healthy?
Student:  It was in Paris but not here.
Me:  Why not? What changed?
Student:  Now in Korea I must go to zee Burger King because Korean food does not fill me up. So now I must eat zee Whopper.
I was smiling and laughing along with him because I know exactly what he means! Rarely do I experience that full feeling (maybe I'm not supposed to at this age). Another student piped in and suggested drinking "a lot of water" to feel full.

I find that drinking coffee (lots of it) can work as an appetite suppressant. Readers, any other ideas? 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

(Slight) Home Improvement

In the month that I've lived in this apartment, I've slowly been putting a little of me into the place. I'm working within some constraints -namely the furniture, wallpaper + paint that I inherited, and I've been trying to keep spending to a minimum. While it's quite a stretch from other apartments I've decorated, this one is beginning to take on a hint of my personality.

I've posted Before and After pics to help you visualize (nb:  If anyone from Dwell or happens to catch this post, please allow me to show you some of the previous work I've done!).

Living Area, Before:

Living Area, After:
Kitchen, Before:

Kitchen, After:

Guest Room, Before:

Guest Room, After:

My Room, Before:
My Room, After:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Children's Grand Park

Children's Grand Park is located a block away from my apartment, and this afternoon, I finally went over to check it out. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, and six hours later, I'm not really sure how to describe the experience. The place is definitely geared toward children; it is grand in size; and it does share traits of other urban parks -amphitheater, zoo, grassy areas, helium balloons, and typical park food. That said, it's also distinct. I'm still wrapping my head around the attractions I saw, hoping I won't have nightmares from a few of them... can you guess which ones?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

JSE 2, Mozzies 0

Last night I was the victor. Granted, it was a four-hour battle, but I couldn't even think about falling asleep until my opponents were defeated. Today, under the guidance of a friend, I purchased artillery to advance my efforts. I'm on offense now. Mozzies, beware!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mozzies 4, JSE 0

In a scene not uncommon to those living in Seoul, I found myself wrestling with a mosquito last night. As indicated by the score, he won. Not only do I have four new bites, I am now fighting through exhaustion stemming from a restless slumber. Minutes after dozing off, I awoke to the sound of buzzing in my ear -a sound resembling a dentist's drill that's faintly muffled by a wall.  I threw back the covers, bolted from my bed, and turned on the lights, ready to strike. My opponent, however, was more agile and escaped my haphazard swatting. This action sequence repeated twice during the course of the night. Eventually, it seems we reached an armistice; I'm guessing that hostilities will resume this evening.

A friend recently reached the point of desperation in handling his own mosquito dilemma:  he now sleeps inside of his camping tent, set atop his bed. I'm not at that stage yet, though ever-determined to knock out this little bug before he produces offspring or recommends my place to his buddies.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

1st Anniversary

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

[...] How about love? Measure in love.

At the risk of being utterly cliche, the above lyrics to the song "Seasons of Love" from Rent have been running through my mind over the last several days. I guess the significance of completing a full year of living in Korea has been weighing on me, especially now that I've officially begun Year Two.

I had hoped that by yesterday (September 18th) I would've sufficiently organized my thoughts and compiled a list of key learnings, highlights, and lowlights to mark my one-year anniversary. Alas, I've gotten behind in doing so. However, I will say this:  it's been a tremendous year, and I've learned a ton. I think I've grown up quite a bit, and there's still loads to do in that realm, which makes for an exciting upcoming year.

God has been faithful, and He's blessed me beyond measure. Among the many gifts He's bestowed:  never forsaking me (I haven't really ever felt lonely here) and placing people in my path with whom I can talk cultural differences, food, love, and baseball. Thus, wouldn't you know, to commemorate the first year and ring in the new, I found myself celebrating with friends at a baseball game followed by a hearty Mexican dinner?!

Here's to a fruitful year ahead.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Something's Fishy

Well, I'll be darned... it's becoming increasingly evident that the reason I was so nauseous and sick last week is probably due to the glucosamine supplements I'd begun taking. After a few days I became suspicious that they were the culprit because it occurred to me that I felt worse after ingesting them. I checked the label, and wouldn't you know, shellfish was highlighted as an ingredient; strangely enough, the specific fish listed were the ones I'd typically been able to handle (shrimp, crab, lobster). Based on today's observation, it looks like those days are over:  I had a bite of crab with some rice at lunch, and within three hours, my lunch was down the toilet. 

I now know 2 things for certain:
  1. I'm not built for bulimia.
  2. All shellfish is off-limits.
Case closed. Bring on the beef. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Known and Loved

People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.  -Don Draper

Part of me feels so cheesy quoting a fictional character from a television show. However, the above quote from this week's episode of Mad Men really resonated with me. I wonder just how often I see (and accept) people for who they really are instead of who I'd like them to be. For that matter, I wonder how often people substitute an idealized version for the real me.  

Tim Keller has an excellent sermon on a related topic. Entitled Nakedness and the Holiness of God, the sermon is based on Genesis 3 -The Fall of Adam and Eve. It's one of my all-time favorites, and every time I listen to it, I pick up another gem of an insight. Here's an excerpt^:   
We were built to be known. We want to be known. We want someone to look in and say "I love what I see." We die for it because that's what we were meant for:  to be naked and unashamed, which means to be known and loved. Most of us feel like the best we can do is just be loved. In fact, the essence of the human condition now, Genesis 3 tells us, is that we feel we can only be loved if we're not known.

What tremendous comfort to know that while nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight (Hebrews 4:13), He loves us still and offers eternal life to anyone who believes in Him (John 3:16).  

^Download the entire sermon for free here: 

Monday, September 13, 2010

An American Girl

Last week I had dinner with two former students. We got to talking about differences between Korea and America (shocker), and then the conversation turned more personal in that we discussed the stereotypical traits of females of each country. 

To sum up their observations:
Korean girls want to be thought of as cute, sweet, and innocent.

American girls want to be thought of as healthy, sexy, and strong.

I've been thinking about this assessment quite a lot, so much so that it inspired me to go running tonight. It had been awhile, but I was happy with the pace I maintained and the duration of the run. It felt great to have the strength to accomplish something physically demanding, and as an added bonus, I got those endorphins pumping from something other than chocolate.

Here's to being strong.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seattle 2.0

With its ubiquitous coffee shops and incessant rainy days of late, Seoul is poised to become the Seattle of Asia (provided it can produce and nurture local musical talent). Not that I mind in the slightest. The rain has been useful in helping me relax -something I'm loath to do- and it provides the perfect opportunity for nesting (even though the word itself drives me batty).  The new apartment is beginning to come together. I'll get some pictures up soon.  


Thursday, September 9, 2010

(Legal) Pot

Still fighting something but couldn't face another meal of rice or crackers. So, as I'm apt to do, I turned to my standard comfort fare:  pasta. It never gets old. Also, I recently purchased the above blue pot and was eager to try it out. It's so bright and cheery that I keep it out on display. Turns out it cooks well, too.

Form + Function = Delight

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mint Chip Dinner

Been fighting a bug (or something) for the last couple of days, and I can't keep much of anything down. When I got home from work tonight, the thought of preparing food made me feel even queasier, and besides, nothing sounded very appetizing. So, I indulged in one of the (few) perks of adulthood:  ice cream for dinner. Mint chocolate chip from Baskin Robbins to be exact. So far, it's staying put although as I type I'm feeling nauseated. Time for bed. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Grammy Love

Both of my grandmothers have been on my mind quite a lot over the last few weeks. I've got such fond recollections of spending time with them throughout my childhood and adult years, and it's tough to live so far away now. However, even in Korea, I can find plenty of things which remind me of them and bring a smile to my face, and so it was fun to stumble upon this store the other day:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It May Surprise You... Pt. 2

Time for another installment of:  It May Surprise You...
  • upon entering regular grocery stores, customers are greeted by an employee (usually male) who extends a deep bow.
  • it's perfectly acceptable to hang out by the sample ladies and double-dip, again and again.
  • in the last year or so, the government issued a mandate regarding air-conditioning and energy conservation; in public places, the A/C cannot be set lower than 23C, making it nearly impossible to cool off when out and about.
  • it's a good idea to carry an umbrella every day between April 1 and mid-November. Actually, come to think of it, it's usually either sunny, hazy, or raining, so you really ought to carry your umbrella 24/7/365, to block out UV rays, rain, or both. It's what the locals do.
  • a popular trend in nail color is to paint fingers and toes alternating hues (e.g. light pink, darker pink, lighter pink, super-dark pink...); not sure when I'll get around to trying this one out.
  • flashing the peace sign is reflexive for younger Koreans when they're being photographed; I've started doing it as well, though it still feels unnatural.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Sound of Wind

I awoke this morning to the sound of wind blowing hard against my bedroom window. Had I been in Kansas, I'd have assumed a tornado was on its way. However, this being Seoul, the current conditions outside are more similar to the monsoons characteristic of southern Asia and India.  

Whatever the official meteorological term may be, it was definitely a wild wake up call. Now, the question at hand:  how to do hair, makeup, and wardrobe for today...?!