Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tegan and Sara - Alligator

This is a fun video for a catchy song that tends to get stuck in my head. Hooray for knitwear!

Last Weekend before Korea!!!

Good morning! It's still dark outside and I feel nice and cozy, sitting in a loft :-) I love mornings - so peaceful and rejuvenating and energizing! It's great to have some stillness and quiet before the day gets busy.

This is a Korean dish called 'japchae', which I've eaten a couple of times now. It's potato noodles with meat, veggies, sesame oil, and sesame seeds, oh and lots of garlic too - and it's sooo delicious! Good party food :-)

I've also been eating kimchi everyday. It started as a way of getting more accustomed to Korean food, but now I'm completely and utterly addicted to it and eat some every single day. There's a Korean specialty food store near my school so it's easy to pick some up before I head home. It reminds me a little bit of sauerkraut, which is also fermented cabbage, but kimchi contains more ingredients and it's pretty spicy! Yum yum!

This weekend will be all about packing and preparing for the big trip. I'm excited and also nervous...but at this point it's still not quite sinking in that in just a few days I'll be on a plane to Korea. I'll try to squeeze some extra language practice in as well - it's the language barrier that I find to be most intimidating.

I keep thinking how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone and take leaps - try new things, go to new places, meet new people, shake up old ways of doing things. It's the only way to grow and experience life fully I think. Otherwise, you're just stuck - stagnant and uninspired. I like feeling safe and comfortable, but all the greatest times in my life happened because of change and going beyond the familiar. Lately, there have been a lot of changes in my life and in some ways it's felt like waking up and feeling so much more alive! So yes, I hope I am learning to embrace change and to go with the flow, without resisting or running away from things. Carpe diem ;-)


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rainy Weekend

Wow - is it dark or what! It's after 7am but still feels like night time. For some reason I woke up early and didn't feel like staying in bed, so here I am, listening to rainy day music and getting ready to enjoy the weekend, weeee!

Lately I've been reading quite a few books about the mind-body connection and how it applies to health. I've always been interested in this topic and I'm trying to learn as much as possible about it. In my case, somehow I'm ultra sensitive and my mental state, stress response, feelings, etc. have a huge effect on my physical well-being. I would like to learn how to create more harmony and balance so that this connection can work in a positive way. While everyone seems to prescribe meditation, I find it quite challenging and often fall asleep, eek. But I will keep trying :-) I wish there was a forest in my backyard, being surrounded by trees and nature is the best thing!

This weekend I'm having another potluck so I'll be tasting some Korean and Vietnamese food that I've never tried before, mmm! I love potlucks. The good thing about dark, rainy weather - it makes cooking even more enjoyable!

Have a fantastic weekend!

She & Him - In The Sun

Zooey Deschanel is absolutely delightful and when I first heard She & Him's music I was pleasantly surprised - it's actually really good and she has a lovely voice. It also has an old-fashioned sound, and all things old-fashioned appeal to me :-) This is a fun video, and since it's raining outside it's a good way to bring some sunshine into the day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Belle and Sebastian - Wrapped Up In Books

For some reason, crisp Autumn days always make me think of this song. It's lovely and the video is lots of fun too :-)

Happy September Weekend!

Woohoo, another gorgeous sort of summery weekend is here again, ready to be fully enjoyed :-) I had a lovely short week at school. The theme of my afternoon classes was 'Movies' so we all had a good time talking about our favourite films. I'm amazed at how many Hollywood films the students have seen, even though their own countries produce wonderful movies themselves. I guess there's no escape from American culture. But there's nothing wrong with having a strong affinity for Johnny Depp ;-)

I also found it interesting that horror movies seem to be extremely popular in Korea and Japan, especially amongst women. And everyone seems to love action movies.

Yesterday we had a potluck in my morning class - everyone brought a dish from their country, yum! I had some delicious Korean japchae and I would definitely recommend this dish. It's great party food and lots of fun to share :)

Today I'm hosting a mini potluck at my house so I'll be tasting more new dishes and (hopefully) serving up something Russian. I still haven't decided what to cook, agh! Let the countdown begin!

This photo is from Whistler, yay! This was the view after taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain - it was breathtaking!

Well, the sun is calling me! It was supposed to rain all weekend but right now the sky is blue, the sunshine is brilliant, and I'm ready to play some tennis!

Have a splendid weekend!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rainy Labour Day

Tomorrow everyone is heading back to school and getting back into a different cycle now that summer is pretty much officially over. Saturday and Sunday were beautiful here and I played loads of tennis and went to Van Dusen Gardens - where I saw an owl! Actually, I saw two. One was sitting high up in a tree and another one flew over (very close to my head!) - it was pretty magical. They were so huge and almost mystical looking. I've always wanted to see an owl in the wild so another one of my dreams has now come true :-) I tried to take photos but the zoom on my camera isn't very good...blurriness does not good pictures make :-)

Today, however, it's raining and cooold! The only tennis available to me is the U.S. Open on TV. That's okay, a cozy day filled with hot tea, relaxation, and attempting to learn Korean is always welcome. Speaking of learning Korean, I highly recommend this hilarious romantic comedy adventure TV series: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. There are English subtitles of course. A gumiho is a nine-tailed fox originally featured in Korean folk tales. No knowledge of this is required to enjoy the show though - you can just sit back and enjoy an entertaining, original, and absolutely delightful story :-)

This photo was taken at a Korean restaurant near my school. This dish is bibimbap - rice with assorted vegetables, a little beef, and egg on top. Oh, and spicy sauce of course! I've gone to this restaurant a couple of times and will probably go again. The food is like real, homemade food and there are loads of great, healthy choices. The only problem is that they give you sooo much, including many side dishes. It's wonderful to share and go for a long walk afterwards :-)

I feel like I'm becoming more and more interested in Korean culture. Who knew that getting this job would open a door into a completely new world? It's all so rich and fascinating and just a joy to experience directly.

I also have to admit that in North America, it feels to me like people are kind of drifting without much of a culture or community or traditions to ground us and connect us and give more meaning and pleasure to our lives. I really miss that about Russia - I still have so many memories of community, family gatherings, feasts, togetherness, and connectedness and I haven't found that anywhere else yet. I think it's amazing that in Korea they still uphold so many ancient traditions, ceremonies, and that people really take care of each other and have more of a group-oriented rather than individual-centred society.

Well, I'm going to do a little bit of lesson planning - it's back to school tomorrow for me as well after three lovely days off.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

There and back again...

Wow, I missed August altogether, how did that happen?? I guess that's what vacation time is all about though - slipping into the present moment and forgetting about time completely :-) I feel so much better now - reenergized, refreshed, rested, and ready for whatever comes next. I also started meditating regularly again - in the evenings by candlelight - nice!

It definitely feels like transition time right now - the sun is setting earlier, the weather is changing, there's a crispness in the air, I'm eating apples again, and lots of people around me are moving/starting new jobs/going back to university/etc. It's an exciting time for sure!

My big news is that I'm travelling to Korea for the first time ever at the end of this month. I'm only going for one week, but since I've never been to Asia before it's going to be a huge, brand new experience for me. Hopefully a positive one :-) Learning about Korean culture from my students has been so incredible - I never predicted when I first started my job that I would have such an enriching and deep experience, but now I understand that the whole beauty of the school comes from the bonds that are made between everyone there. We are all sharing this experience of coming together, learning together, laughing together, and learning about each other in a very positive and supportive environment. It's absolutely wonderful!

Photo time - this one was taken in Whistler. I went there once before in the wintertime but going in the summer was completely different and so much fun! This was the amazing view from my lakeside hotel. The best part of the trip was doing the Peak to Peak - going to the top of Whistler mountain on a gondola, then taking a chairlift even higher up, then taking a gondola from the top of Whistler to the top of Blackcomb mountain, and then taking a chairlift all the way down. It was incredibly exhilarating and I'd love to do it again! We ate our lunch at the top of a mountain, ahhh, so nice.

And now for the last thing I cooked. Simple fare: a brown rice black bean risotto. In one pot I cooked brown rice with sauteed onions and garlic. I used extra water to make it really soft and creamy. In another pan, I sauteed lots of veggies including red bell pepper, onion, celery, and lots of mushrooms. When the rice was ready I added it to the pan, along with some black beans.

Now it's time to enjoy the long weekend! Three days off, woohoo! It's important to soak up the last bit of Summer :-)