Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Craving: nature!

It's the very first day of February 2012! Unfortunately, it doesn't look anything like this photo (taken on Jeju Island this past summer). It's -3 degrees outside and I'm thankful for my cozy little apartment, which keeps me warm and lets the beautiful sunshine in.

Living in Korea has been incredible, enjoyable, and for the most part very comfortable. One thing that is a little difficult though is being so separate from nature. In Canada, I just had to walk out my door and I was surrounded by flowers, trees, and just five minutes from the ocean. Glorious! I completely took it for granted. These days (and especially in the winter, when it's hard to spend much time outside), I'm craving nature and outdoorsy-ness more and more. There's a kind of peace that only green trees and blue water can provide. Away from cars, concrete, busy shops...a place for rest, rejuvenation, and inspiration. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cute stationery + paper love

My favourite stores in Korea are the ones bursting with beautiful stationery, art supplies, gorgeous books, handmade jewelry and accessories, and super cute things. And wow - there are a LOT of stores like this just waiting for me to step inside, heart pounding with excitement. Yes, I get very excited about these things. I don't understand why in North America most things are so plain and boring, when in Korea EVERYTHING features cute and beautiful designs. Even older adults carry around colourful stationery and I have yet to see a boring office supply store. And have I mentioned the socks??

Even though I will be living here for many more months, the fact that I will eventually go back to North America makes me anxiously want to purchase as much as possible - stocking up for the future, oh yes. 

These little notebooks are adorable. Notebook paper is always high quality here, another bonus. I paid about 50 cents for each notebook. And about $1 for the socks. I had to restrain myself from buying more. Another time, no doubt.

I also bought some beautiful origami paper. It's so pretty I almost don't want to use it. 

I think I'm attracted to all paper-y things (surprise!). Books, notebooks, letter paper, postcards, cute memo paper, origami paper, construction paper, wrapping paper, wallpaper, so on and so forth. Partly, it's beautiful. Also, I think it suggests possibility and creative potential. Using these lovely paper-y things, we can create something new.

I love writing because it's world-building - words literally bring to life the world around us. Using words, I can contribute to my own little world and help to shape it. All of this paper eventually takes shape, absorbs someone's words, becomes a unique form of expression that contributes to the world. It's a kind of transformation that feels amazing and incredibly satisfying. Hooray for creativity! And pretty stationery ;-)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Origami stars + recap of the day

Yesterday was both quiet and exciting. 

I watched the Australian Open (yay tennis!) final featuring Nadal and Djokovic. They played hardcore tennis for almost six hours, it was insane. Professional tennis players are superheroes. They didn't even have a muffin break or anything.

I made some stars. Today I have to buy some pretty paper so I can keep on origami-ing until the end of time. 

I ate fresh crab. That sounds strange, no? But I did, and it was amazingly delicious. Also felt like I was at the beach. 

I read a new book on the bus - Prague by Arthur Phillips. I picked it up on a whim when I visited What the Book in Seoul. It's completely different from the old books I usually cling to, but it's good to change things up once in a while. Having said that, I miss the 19th century already, sniff sniff.

I found some awesome + super inspiring crafty blogs such as one sheepish girl. I can't believe how talented she is. Just lovely :-)

Toodle-oo! :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cardigan love

This is not your ordinary cardigan. Mandy Moore did not wear this in A Walk to Remember (I cried during that movie). It's like a bright pink cheetah with puffed shoulders and those little shiny circle things (what are those called again??). It looks good with artificial pearls and dangly earrings.

But I love ALL cardigans almost indiscriminately (almost/kind of). They're classic, elegant, ladylike, can be old-fashioned, can we worn all throughout the year, can be bright pink and shiny, and go great with skirts. Oh cardigans, how I love you.

Some words sometimes associated with cardigans:

- librarian

- Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember

- elementary school teacher

- lady from the 1950's

- England

- smartly dressed boy

- Carey Mulligan

All very positive associations, non? Cardigans are exciting! Let's wear one today!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chandelier earrings and cute teacups...

Yesterday I received a care package from my awesome parents, lovely! It included necessities such as vitamins, iron supplements, a gorgeous cardigan, and these beautiful earrings. 

I adore dangly, sparkly earrings. Especially chandelier earrings. Life is short, and wearing twinkly, gorgeous earrings makes any day more special. Also, your artistic inclinations will undoubtedly strengthen and become forever enhanced by the magical quality of such not so ordinary accessories. It's a glorious transformation that starts at the ears.

What else makes the day more special? Meeting a friend for peppermint tea and drinking out of this cute cup. Cafe Roma is still my favourite. Yesterday, the scent of cinnamon lingered around our table for a full hour...heavenly. I really really hope I will never go to Starbucks again. I've been spoiled here in Korea, spoiled in a wonderful way.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crafty: Origami!

Yesterday, origami madness continued. This time with pretty paper. I made two cranes (guess which colours are mine) and it was incredibly fun. Today I will buy some pretty paper and keep practising. Once I master the crane, I will move on to something different, but not the frog. My bf tried making the frog and it looked way too complicated and difficult. He said it looks like a monster but I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. There were at least 4 pages of instructions to make the frog, eek!

I think origami qualifies as a meditative activity. You get so immersed in folding that paper that time flies by and all non-paper-related thoughts melt away. Which feels pretty good.

I think I will try to keep doing artsy things more regularly. Yes, my little paper crane is artsy. The pretty paper enhances the effect ;-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cute coffee shops + tactile experiences

First up, a super adorable teapot filled with loose leaf peppermint tea. Perfect.

Drink #2 is a green tea frappucino. Smooth, sweet, cold, and decadent. Yum. 

Cafe Roma is a good place to go. 

While waiting for our drinks, we started making boats and fortune tellers out of the receipt paper. Then we got more paper and tea time turned into a full-on origami session. Which will continue today, with proper pretty paper. 

I love making things with my hands. It's so satisfying, crafty, fun, and just very tactile. I suppose people used their hands way more in the past to do everyday tasks and just out of necessity. These days, we have technology, kitchen gadgets, appliances, factories, and automatic super fast everything so we don't have to touch a thing. While I do love the dishwasher as much as anyone, I kind of wish some things weren't quite so easy. 

Take cooking for example. If I just buy some food and eat it, sure it might be delicious but on a certain level it's not satisfying and I feel a bit disconnected, having no idea what kind of process led to this meal appearing on my plate. But if I buy all the separate ingredients, wash, chop, cook, smell, season, put the food on the plate myself, share, and eat - wow! It's the most satisfying thing ever! 

I can only imagine what it would feel like to grow some of my own veggies, to sew and knit some of my clothes, to paint my own picture and hang it on the wall, to play the guitar for musical entertainment rather than pressing 'play', to experience life in a more direct, tactile way that fills the smallest of actions with meaning. I know this would mean a lot more hard work, but I think it would be worth it. Too many things have become too easy, the process of getting there has been erased, and the instant results feel a bit empty.

So, what to do about it?

Today, origami - paper cranes, here I come!

Tomorrow, relearning how to knit.

Near future, growing tomatoes.

It's all about baby steps. And doing what feels right.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Comfort Foods...

Is it still winter?  Yes.
Is it still (freezing) cold?  Yes.
Do I feel extra hungry?  Yes!

When it's cold and dark I definitely want to enjoy some comfort foods. This winter, I'm also in a different country eating mostly very different food so I really really want to enjoy some comfort-food-from-home. Here are 5 things I would love to eat but probably won't (for a few more months):

1. A panini sandwich. Like the gourmet ones at Whole Foods. Sandwiches are not widely available in Korea, and the ones that are...are different. Warm toasted bread filled with colourful roasted veggies, melted cheese, and maybe some pesto - heavenly!

2. Freshly baked crusty bread. The bread available here is usually dessert/snack bread, since rice is eaten at meals, never bread. And it's always soft, never crusty. I still (vaguely) remember the smell of freshly baked bread...and then biting into a delicious chunk - wonderfully crusty and flavourful on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. Sigh!

3. Roasted salmon + smoked salmon. Salmon is not a local fish here so it's incredibly expensive and probably doesn't taste as good or as fresh as in BC. Back home, I used to eat salmon so often I took it for granted. I will never ever view salmon so dismissively again.

4. Pureed soup. Another item I used to cook several times a week and took for granted. Throwing in loads of veggies, a splash of water, pureeing everything with the result of a delicious, creamy soup = amazing!! Here, it's rather impossible. Korean soups are delicious, but the flavours and choice of veggies are totally different. And they are never ever pureed.

5. Vegetable tart. This is my mother's. And it's incredibly, breathtakingly delicious. She makes a super awesome, wholesome crust. The topping is all veggies and a sprinkling of good cheese. Into the oven it goes. A beautiful, perfect vegetable tart comes out. I proceed to eat half of it. Oh, how I want to eat it right now!

It's fascinating how certain foods are connected with specific places, times, people, memories...Food is much more than mere fuel. I can't wait to enjoy some homemade soup and vegetable tart with my family when I go back home :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom Preview - woohoo!

I suspect that I enjoy watching movie trailers even more than movies themselves. Movies are long. No matter how good a movie may be, it must contain a certain amount of people walking around, maybe answering the phone, driving a car, buying a snack, making small talk, drinking tea, playing board games, writing a letter (oops, I think I'm starting to list things I want to do right now). It's hard for an entire movie, from start to finish, to be completely memorable and for each second of its running time to be profound and magical.

A movie trailer, however, can be mesmerizing in its entirety. All of life's precious memorable moments, insights, epiphanies, declarations, times of despair as well as triumph - they are all easily accessible in the form of a tiny little trailer. Feeling down? Just watch a trailer for an inspiring movie. Even if the movie itself is horrendous and not to be watched, the preview will undoubtedly make you feel better. Feeling sad? Watch a trailer for a comedy. Preferably a good one, but since those are hard to find even a poor comedy's trailer should contain at least one bite of hilarity. 

There's nothing like a trailer to make life feel especially exciting. If you watch a whole bunch of trailers one after the next, life will seem beyond extraordinary. So many things to experience! So much wisdom to encounter! So many awkward and surprising things to laugh about! So many goblins to defeat!

Whenever I'm bored, you know what I'll be doing. Maybe one day watching so many trailers will inspire me to write my own movie script. But I would prefer to create a trailer - a little taste of neat perfection.

Muju Resort, Korea!

Happy Lunar New Year!

I spent the last three days at this beautiful place in the picture. But not exactly, because here I'm in a gondola at the top of a mountain, and most of the time I was not in a gondola, but in a hotel-like building. At Muju Resort, about two hours from Daegu.

I joined my boyfriend's family and extended family (aunts + uncles + cousins) for a total of 15 people. I'm an only child, so it was quite the experience. And wow, I've never seen so much food in one place before. 

It was pretty amazing, at times overwhelming, incredibly cozy and fun, delicious, and confusing. Confusing because everyone was speaking Korean. But because my significant other was off snowboarding most of the time, I got to bond with aunts and uncles...mostly through the medium of shared meals and laughter. 

I'm still amazed at how kind and friendly people have been from the moment I arrived (almost a year ago now!). I'm incredibly lucky and grateful to be here and to have these beautiful experiences, shared with such warm and lovely people.

The year of the dragon will be fantabulous! Yay!

Raise your hand if you're a hypochondriac...

Sometimes I worry about things. Like what to say when meeting a friend's relatives. Or how to find bathrooms when traveling. There's the fear of getting lost. Saying something rude by accident, or mispronouncing something (especially when I attempt to speak a language that is not English). Getting thirsty when I'm in a movie theatre but having nothing to drink. Missing the bus. 

And then there's the big one: getting sick. I'm sure I worry too much about my health. This worry in turn leads to actions and anxiety that inevitably result in illness.

Once, I got really sick after eating two persimmons. I thought I had a bezoar. I'm pretty sure I have never in my life had a bezoar, but I haven't touched a persimmon since that incident.

A few times I've been out in extremely snowy and freezing conditions. My feet especially tend to turn into icicles and it takes a long time for them to regain feeling again. So naturally I was scared I'd gotten frostbite and feared for my innocent toes.

And every time I get a cold that doesn't quickly disappear I worry about how long it will take to recover. A lot of scientific research says that laughter and a positive, optimistic attitude strengthen the immune system and speed up recovery time. So I watch comedies (and worry that they are not funny enough to produce sufficiently powerful laughter).

As I try to achieve more balance in my life (and attempt to keep my overactive imagination from overpowering me), I can always count on three things to make everything better:

1. Vitamin C juice in a glass bottle. It's like drinking Pure Sunny Health. Just look at the girl on the bottle, she's never been sick in her life!

2. Eating vegetables, especially green ones. The power of the earth is in each little bite. Amazing. A little olive oil makes it even better.

3. Gilmore Girls Seasons 1 & 2 (and 3). The most comforting show ever. And it's funny, so your immune system benefits too.

Here's to health and happiness :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Books: The Mysterious Benedict Society First Thoughts...

I was in the mood for something a bit lighter, something with a pinch of humour and a dash of cleverness. So I reached for my new copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. 

When I was younger, I adored books about clever children who went on amazing adventures and refused to live a dull life. Roald Dahl books were my favourite, later followed by Philip Pullman's wonderful trilogy His Dark Materials. And of course, there's always Harry Potter. Oh, and I also liked the Worst Witch series. 

This book follows the tradition of adventure stories that offer a delicious escape from mundane life while featuring spunky, highly intelligent children who band together because they don't fit in anywhere else. So far, it's a real treat.

At the beginning of the novel, there is a series of "mysterious, mind-bending tests" aimed at special children. Those who succeed will receive the challenge of going on "a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete". 

The characters are colourful and likeable. Each child is unique, with quirks that are amusing and interesting rather than annoying.

I love stories which emphasize children's intelligence and idealism. While adults can be cynical, limited by their own lack of imagination and hope, and a little dull, children are still electrically alive. Their minds are open and they are able to see the world in a completely different light. A child's world is still magical and full of amazing possibilities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Books: The House of Mirth Final Thoughts

It took me longer to finish this book than I initially expected because...it gets really, really sad. I like Lily Bart. I like reading about strong, thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent women and their attempts at finding a place in society. When it turns out there is no place for them, it gets harder to turn the pages. 

I think Edith Wharton must have been a brave and brilliant woman. I can't wait to read more of her novels. She allows us to see clearly through Lily's eyes and makes us feel all of her anxiety, dread, hope, and hunger for life. Though Lily doesn't quite grasp this, we realize that there is no place for her. Society is wrong. 

It seems like she only has two choices. The nice choice is to marry a rich man who wants to parade her around like a pretty doll and feel super proud of her. He promises to shower her with money, because obviously that's a woman's greatest dream. He likes when she listens to him talk, so sensitive and kind. They can play out dialogues just like in the theatre, except she is conscious that this is just playing. She wants to live. 

The not so nice choice is to use her hands and try and work. She was raised to look pretty, say pretty things, and make tea in a pretty way. She struggles with having a real job. For the first time, she feels clumsy and awkward. She fails. 

She can't sacrifice her soul, her intelligence, her self and become a mere ornament to be bought and displayed. She has no skills to be able to work. She has no real knowledge of society, of life, of the world, she only knows playacting, performance, pretending. She's different because she's still in touch with her inner self, yearning for real life, following her intuition. Feeling. 

What to do with such women?

The ending is heartbreaking.

The book is wonderful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shopping Spree - cute skirt edition...

Yesterday afternoon featured the First Shopping Spree of 2012. These are four of ten items that I purchased, eek! Of course, everything was on sale. For a shopping spree to go successfully and make you feel satisfied and elated, you must stick with the sales - stay tough, smart, and keep your eyes on the pretty prize.

I adore skirts. They're lovely. They're feminine. They're comfortable. Putting on a skirt rather than a pair of jeans makes me feel different, and usually I feel more like a Skirt person than a Trousers/Jeans person. 

Winter is super cold this year so I haven't been thinking much about gorgeous outfits. Instead, I've been wearing layers upon layers of my warmest clothes. My winter look = marshmallow yeti.

Trying on beautiful clothes, twirling around giddily, and getting to take some lovely things home felt awesome after all this dreary winter-wear. Now I'm tempted to buy a super warm pair of tights and wear skirts for the rest of the winter, and beyond ;-)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cafe Roma, Daegu - Cute Coffee Shop Review

Besides drinking tea, one of my absolute favourite things to do is go to cute coffee shops and while away the hours drinking something warm and tasty, and chatting with a friend. Yesterday I went to a recently renovated coffee shop just a minute's walk from my home. 

Name: Cafe Roma

Style: Casual elegance

Ambiance: Excellent. Great modern lighting, cute cups and dishes, instrumental + classical music, warm.

Service: Very good. It took a while to get our drinks, but when they were brought to our table they looked so lovely and the barista was very friendly and kind.

Good for: Couples, group meetings, studying.

Taste: My green tea latte was delicious and not overly sweet. The texture was foamy and perfect and I loved the cute little flowers. They also have cake and muffins and I will definitely try a muffin next time.

Time: My friend and I spent almost two and a half hours there and it would be easy to stay even longer than that - so cozy and comfy and warm :-) Don't forget to stretch your legs.

Stars: 4 out of 5 stars - one star taken off because the music was sometimes too loud, forcing everyone to talk loudly as if we were in a bar rather than a coffee shop. Although this added to the festivity and woke up the lady who had fallen asleep instead of reading her book. I wonder what she was reading.

I'm looking forward to going there again. Daegu has many independent coffee shops, and this one is now one of my favourites. I must say, all the cute + beautiful + atmospheric coffee shops here make the plain, generic ones in North America seem...um, really not good. Maybe I can avoid going to a chain coffee shop for the rest of my life (I probably can't)!!

Have a delicious day :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lady talking time...

Yesterday a friend came over for Afternoon Tea, which, in my apartment, means lounging on the floor Korean style and eating from a cute little table that I can unfold when required. Usually it stays leaning against the wall, along with my giant pink and blue hula hoop. And my yoga mat. And my clothes drying rack thingybob. My fan is also in the same vicinity. And some books. Storage space is scarce, but that's okay. Coziness all the way! 

Whenever I meet this particular friend, we always eat chocolate cake. It's become a wonderful tradition. This time, she also brought honey bread, a popular snack in Korea. Bread (in any shape/form) isn't considered a mealtime food, but only a snack. The word 밥 means 'rice', and it also means 'meal'. Rice is the staple food that forms the foundation of most meals, never bread. I think this is much healthier and better for digestion, but now I'm going off on a tangent. Honey bread is tasty and makes for a nice snack, but anything with chocolate always wins in my world. Mmm, chocolate! :-)

As we talked, I realized (again) how important it is to make time for this kind of get together. Lady talking time is the best way to de-stress, relax, strengthen relationships, laugh a lot, feel awesome, eat some cake, and simply enjoy. No matter what kind of mood I'm in, when I meet a good friend and we chat, I leave feeling incredibly refreshed, lighter, and happier. Even when we're super busy, or it's freezing outside, or there's no chocolate cake to eat, it's necessary to make time for these get togethers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Butter Biscuit Conversation

The Biscuits Before Bed "Challenge" continues!

Yesterday I walked to the nearest supermarket to pick up a few necessities (mainly lettuce, onions, and eggs - not too shabby). I also picked up some butter biscuits.

In Korea, the word 'premium' is often used to advertise products and promote them as being super high quality. It's not just your average biscuit, oh no - it's a premium biscuit! In this case, this statement is further emphasized by the European artwork on the biscuit box. European things are always premium.

Here is the conversation between Mother (With a Hat) and (Glossy Haired) Daughter (also known as Cynthia):

Mother: Cynthia, the air is rather brisk this fine morning. Why didn't you wear your hat?

Daughter: Mumsie, just look at my glossy hair! I simply cannot cover such glorious glossiness with head ornaments. I would get hat hair! 

Mother: This is true, my daughter. Sad, but true. But we must fortify ourselves somehow. If you were to catch a chill, I would never forgive myself.

Daughter: Oh, mumsie! I have a marvelous idea! How about fortifying ourselves with a scrumptious biscuit?

Mother: A biscuit?

Daughter: A biscuit!

Mother: Oh, Cynthia...a lady such as I does not dine on mere biscuits. Why, that is food fit for horses, not ladies with large head ornaments and their glossy-haired children! How silly you can be.

Daughter: But, mumsie - this is not just any dry biscuit! This is a PREMIUM biscuit!

Mother: What's that you say? A PREMIUM biscuit? Well, that changes everything. 

Daughter: Yes, it does. Shall we eat our biscuits now?

Mother: Oh dear, eating outside like a peasant. And without the servants! Why don't we start our journey back to the castle? We can fortify ourselves in the dining hall. The servants will wait on us.

Daughter: Mumsie, I am a strong and rather independent girl. That's why my hair is so glossy. I can eat a biscuit without the help of the servants. 

Mother: No! 

Daughter: Yes mumsie, it is true. Also, this is a butter biscuit. 

Mother: A butter biscuit?

Daughter: A butter biscuit! 

Mother: Why, that is my favourite kind of crunchy, yet melty, treat!

Daughter: Yes, it is.

Mother: This is the only kind of premium biscuit that I would consume while strolling out-of-doors. Its premium-ness fills the act of eating with dignity and a minimum amount of crumbs.

Daughter: Most certainly, dear mumsie. Have a biscuit.

Mother: I am so happy.

Daughter: Me, too mumsie. Me, too. And it is all because of this delicious, yet rather small, premium butter biscuit. 

Mother and Daughter share a hug, and then eat more biscuits out-of-doors.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Future luxuries that I would like to enjoy in my life (not the eggs and tofu in the photos, though I like them too, very much)

So cooking is going well so far. A little home cooking every day makes the world brighter and more nutritious. And actually it makes my apartment feel a lot more like home, nice. Unfortunately, my photos are not of the shiny magazine type. I took them with my iPod. Which people always mistake for an iPhone. I should pretend it's the latest super thin and sleek model and make imaginary calls with it.

By the way, onions + mushrooms + garlic + olive oil = heavenly :-) I love when simple things taste great. I adore mushrooms and they're much cheaper and more common here, especially oyster mushrooms. 

Now let's get to the main part of this post - Future Luxuries That I Would Like To Enjoy in My Life

1. A fireplace. It's warm, instant coziness - comforting, atmospheric, pretty, and suggests the feeling of Christmas. Imagine - outside the weather is horrific...freezing rain is beating down, multiple winds are howling in every direction, the darkness of the sky portends doom...but you manage to drag yourself to the safety of home and collapse in front of your lovely fireplace. The flames are warm and comforting. You wrap yourself in a blanket, have a cup of hot cocoa, and suddenly all is alright in the world. 

2. A library/study room. Lined with book cases. With a table and some comfy chairs and a sofa because reading while you're lounging around rather than sitting upright is the best. Why sit and suffer when you can luxuriate on your very own sofa? Maybe the sofa is from Versailles...or at least a replica. If it doesn't resemble a sofa from Versailles it's not really a luxury, is it? It's just any old sofa. But this room is about books, not sofas! And how could you not want to study in such a room? Just going inside it will make you smarter - an intellectual with an affinity for antique sofas. Lovely!

3. A samovar. I have vague recollections of giant samovars from the Old Country (Russia) but they remain a little mysterious in my eyes. Yes, they are clearly for tea time. And princesses. And since it's so big you can have a whole tea party, princess style, and make casual samovar references to your friends so they can fully appreciate the amazingness (and mystery) of your samovar. "Masha, would you like another cuppa from my giant samovar? Oh, don't worry, there's still lots of tea left - the samovar is very big".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Afternoon tea

Mmm, a nice and delicious post today - who doesn't love cake? And biscuits? Two of the best things in life! 

But first up - these are my freshly painted nails. Cosmetics shops are abundant here and while I'm not hugely into make-up, I love selecting nail polish and always want to paint my nails a new colour. It's easy to do here due to the previously mentioned abundance and array of choices, and also because nail polish is incredibly cheap in these cute little shops.

Back to cake! And biscuits! One of the many reasons I love England is Afternoon Tea Time. To me, there are few pleasures in life as satisfying as sitting down with a friend, a cup of tea, and something sweet (and preferably chocolatey). It's marvelous. And I think it's more of a lady time thing - when I attempt to have tea time with a boy, the sweet thing gets consumed far too quickly, the tea is not fully appreciated (or declined altogether! gasp!), and the chit chat doesn't really develop to its full potential. 

When ladies sit down for afternoon tea, hours may go by without notice, more than one cup of tea may be required, and the sweet thing lasts a little longer (unless one of the ladies happens to be very hungry).

I have also started a new tradition for myself - Biscuits Before Bed. While there is a noticeable absence of chit chat, this is more about quiet time to unwind and prepare for a night of glorious sleep. A bit of reading, some herbal tea, and a biscuit or two (or sometimes even three!) make the evening feel complete. 

Possible future "challenges": 

1) Tea time every day

2) Trying all the different biscuits available in Korea (or at Home Plus, the supermarket where I go shopping)

I hope you get to enjoy tea time today :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Doing something new for 30 days...

Firstly, I went downtown a few days ago and stumbled upon this book signing outside Kyobo bookstore. I have no idea who the author is but book signings are super exciting and inspirational so I edged my way into the crowd of spectators and snapped a photo. 

Wouldn't it be amazing to have written your very own shiny book and to be able to share it with people like this? And they actually want to read it? Seriously amazing. 

Also, Korean books are way prettier than North American ones, and the pages are made from high quality paper rather than newsprint.

In other news, I watched a super short and sweet TED Talk yesterday about doing something new for 30 days and found it very inspiring. The thing that stood out most was when he said that time goes by so quickly and usually it seems to slip away from us...where did the time go? time is flying by! and such...but if you try doing something new for 30 days, suddenly your time gains meaning and becomes more memorable. I totally agree with this. 

If we just follow the same routine, it's so easy to get stuck in a rut and feel like time is running away from you, but if we choose to mark that time and do something new with it, well, that changes everything. And I like feeling productive, inspired, doing new things, so on and so forth. Who doesn't really?

Some of his examples: taking a photo everyday, riding a bike to work, writing a postcard...

It's an exciting idea. My first new thing is writing in this blog EVERY day for 30 days. I've been doing well for a while now and will try to keep it up. Writing makes me feel good. Even after 30 days when I am back at work with hyper kids, I hope I will take the time to write something regularly. 

Let's make our time memorable ;-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Summer Camp ~ Down

As much as I love feeling cozy, indoorsy, and wrapped up in books (and sometimes YouTube) in the winter, occasionally I also feel a bit cabin fever-ish and desperately want to run and jump around in a field outside or have a snowball fight or play tennis (gosh, I miss tennis).

I think large outdoor spaces are conducive to good mental health. Maybe that's partly why Europe feels so perfect - all those city squares are brilliant. And then there's the lovely countryside. 

I want to go outside!

But it's cold, and I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather. So I will continue drinking green tea and eventually stumble out of my chair to exercise (indoors).

Hope your day is sunny and awesome! :-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good things - salad and notebooks!

Martha Stewart has her "good things" so why not share a couple of mine? As you can see by glancing at the photos, my "good things" are a little less refined (but only a little).

First up, the previously mentioned cute notebooks! I think this is actually becoming a problem for me. I keep buying notebooks even though I have more than enough already. Usually I a) fill out a few pages and then use a different notebook (because obviously each topic deserves its very own set of pages) or b) have trouble writing anything at all in the notebook because it's so pretty and I don't want to wreck it. Another conundrum: the inability to choose between different cover designs...resulting in the purchase of multiple notebooks. I'm so bad...one more notebook and I just may fall off the edge.

Next up - salad! I had a hard time adjusting to food shopping here at the beginning but it's gotten a lot easier and it's always super fun. I constantly see new things (sometimes I don't know what they are) and try lots of samples (usually I know what these are). Anywho, this is about salad, not grocery shopping. This is an example of "good cooking" - throwing together some romaine lettuce, baby greens, lemon juice, olive oil, and sesame seeds. Clean, delicious, simple and it makes me feel like a superhero, woohoo! Best followed by a mug of hot chocolate :-) And also the rest of your meal, because salad just isn't enough.

Here's to the good things in life :-)

Some things I've learned in Korea...

1. When you discover the most delicious waffle in existence, you should return the following weekend and surrender once again to its extra-ordinariness. But wait to take a photo before eating it.

2. Being surrounded by cute things (hair accessories, clothes, jewelry, stationery (oh, the stationery!!!), pictures, advertisements, wallpaper, etc) greatly improves one's quality of life. I love cute things!!

3. Sweet potatoes can be eaten in a vast variety of ways (including cake and in pizza crust) but one thing remains the same - it is ALWAYS delicious and comforting.

4. You can never have too many coupon/stamp/points cards. Even as your wallet starts to buckle and break at the seams, there is no way you will ever give up even one of your cards - one day you will get that free coffee, and boy will you enjoy it!

5. There is such a thing as too much studying.

6. Eating rice everyday forms a nice secure foundation for one's life. No matter what happens, you can count on your rice.

7. Actually, it's not unusual to use a parasol in summertime. And then you can also pretend you're in a Jane Austen novel!

8. You should change your cell phone as often as possible, preferably upgrading to the latest, shiniest model. (This is one rule I cannot follow).

9. Eating out without having to pay extra taxes and tips is amazing and liberating.

10. There's never a bad time to eat ramyen.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lily Bart in The House of Mirth

I'm about halfway though The House of Mirth but I have to write something about Lily Bart. I think she's a fascinating character...I'm always interested in female characters who are trapped in stifling outward roles despite possessing a beautiful inner world full of original, interesting thoughts and a desperate desire to be free and to live a life independent of society's norms and restrictions.

Lily Bart is a beautiful woman with no parents and no money. She was born into the upper classes and made her debut in society, but at 29 she remains unmarried and reliant on her aunt's charity. She has a natural affinity for beauty and luxury...to me, her desire for a luxurious life does not seem superficial. I think Lily is very sensitive to the beauty in life and finds fulfillment, inspiration, and a kind of joie de vivre in lovely things. The world that fits her is a beautiful world in which dowdiness, passivity, and unimaginative day to day drudgery are unacceptable. Unfortunately, the only way that she can inhabit this world permanently is to marry rich.

I guess it could be said that one of the sad things in the novel is how Lily has many chances to change her life, but she never succeeds in doing this. If she can just (finally) make a choice and commit herself to a man, she can live comfortably for the rest of her life. But to do this would also be completely against her character. On the one hand, Lily wants an exquisite life in high society...but her strong sense of self, her desire to live freely, her repugnance at being possessed by a man like a brainless doll get in the way of her plans to marry rich. She cannot help but rebel, even when she is incredibly close to success.

To me this seems really amazing actually. Lily is very aware of her poverty and such a life of insecurity would cause most people to jump at the first opportunity of a comfortable, secure future.  However, Lily is so resistant to having her sense of self, her identity, her freedom be swept away, tainted, bought that she refuses to bend even in the most dire times.

It's also interesting to note how most men in the novel are presented as oily, ignorant buffoons. They are easily manipulated by women and possess very narrow and shallow minds. The one exception is the man Lily genuinely loves but cannot marry because he is a lawyer (in this world lawyers are not rich enough - and they actually have to work - gasp!). He is an outsider who sees the high society world for the ridiculous theatrical performance that it truly is. He reads books, says witty things, and thinks his own thoughts. He seems to be a perfect match for Lily. He appreciates and admires her mind...he only becomes attracted to her after becoming the first person to enter her inner world and getting acquainted with her real thoughts and ideas. If this was a Hollywood movie, they would totally end up together...eating a candlelit dinner in his modest but comfortable apartment and having a witty conversation reflective of their equality. Alas, Lily needs luxury. And while that makes her sound selfish and shallow, Edith Wharton makes her so easy to sympathize with. I really hope the ending won't be too sad.

And now, more reading! And tea!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with youuu...

The Bracebridge Dinner episode of Gilmore Girls is one of my favourites. So cozy, magical, featuring a feast (who doesn't love a feast? especially with those awesome costumes and candles, I'm pretty sure there were candles, right?), sleigh rides that bring people together, and it basically captures the feeling of Christmas for me.

Yesterday I found out about Grey Gardens - how did I not know about this before?? A mother and daughter living in a crumbling house for decades...seemingly living in the past and depending on each other to hang on to their identities. It reminds me of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations - but it's real life! Truth is stranger than fiction indeed. Fascinating and also creepy.

Cooking has been going pretty well. My bf's favourite dish so far is tomato + shrimp pasta - it's so simple and fast to make and he loves it. I'm not sure what to try next - I think I will have to experiment with different vegetables since the staples I used before are either nonexistent or expensive luxury items in Korea (like carrots and broccoli! I will never take them for granted again!). The crackers and brie in the photo were a delicious snack yesterday. I warmed up the brie in a pan so it was soft and a little melty - delicious!

Friday, January 6, 2012

St. Vincent!

The song is gorgeous...the video freaks me out...Annie Clark is a musical genius who resembles an angel but is way more interesting than that.

New Favourite Song

I still like buying CDs, but I can't really do that in Korea (too expensive and no space in my one room apartment...not that that stopped me from buying too many books and collecting bunny and sheep soft toys won at the arcade).

But I really want this album. Sigh.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Day Out in Seoul

Yesterday I went to Seoul with the help of my sweet bf in order to renew my passport. Now, the things that stress me out most are form-filling, paperwork, bureaucratic, governmental, official type business transactions such as this one. I don't know why, but forms make me feel panic-y.

The day started off well as we got to the train station in time to change our tickets to an earlier train. This would prove to be extremely fortunate in the near future. It was very cold so early on a January morning so I was thankful to have brought a hot pack thingy that you shake to create instant heat and comfort. I don't remember seeing these in Canada but here they're everywhere.

When we arrived in Seoul the temperature dropped down several more degrees, my sinuses felt frozen. Luckily, we didn't have to go far to reach the downtown area where the Canadian Consulate lives. Office buildings in Canada seem pretty boring and dark to me, closed off from the outside world and ready to trap you inside (and make you fill out forms forever and ever until you forget your real identity and lose your mind). The Canadian Consulate is on the ground floor of a lovely building and the wall is basically all glass, so while you're sitting in a comfortable chair, waiting for your number to be called, sunshine pours into the room and makes you forget that this is a government office and not a lovely, bright room in which it's okay to talk above a whisper and even laugh occasionally.

Anywho, I soon realized that I had forgotten to bring my passport photos. This is like my worst nightmare, I'm sure I've dreamt of this exact situation sometime in the past. Thankfully my bf is not a bundle of nerves as I sometimes often am. Right away he found out where the nearest photo studio was and we marched out into the cold and walked around until we found it. He even asked for directions. He never asks for directions but I guess the situation was dire enough. Thank goodness we'd taken the earlier train. So we walked into the studio and my face was red from the cold and I also had hat hair - perfect for a passport photo! While we were waiting for the photo to be photoshopped developed, I filled out another form.

We got back to the consulate with plenty of time to spare, I filled out more information (because what you bring is never enough...never!). The ladies working there were actually very kind and their interrogation was gentle, sometimes even accompanied by a smile. Finally, my forms were adequate enough to be accepted, I paid my money, said thank you many times (and told the lady how stressed this process had been for me. Why? Sigh, I'm still a child.) and ran out of there, feeling free and able to breathe again.

We walked around the neighbourhood for a while - the weather had warmed up and the area is actually very beautiful and peaceful. We walked into an art gallery and looked at some modern abstract art (the free part of the gallery). I still prefer the old stuff. Give me Impressionism any day. Dots and splashes of paint will never cease to perplex me and make me wonder about the definition of art.

The photo is my lunch at Le Pul Sandwich Bar. BF ate a panini with ham and cheese. I think my shrimp salad was better and far more colourful. A good meal must feature some colour.

The best part of the day was going to a big(ish) English bookstore in the Itaewon neighbourhood. I haven't seen more than a couple of book cases of English books in one place for almost a year now. When we walked into a store selling exclusively English books (and mostly literature) I started to shake (with excitement rather than panic this time) and got happy float-y euphoric feelings. My bf sat down while I toured the store and inhaled all the books, smiling and feeling nourished and peaceful again. I bought four books and had to tear myself away. Once again, I thought how wonderful it would be to live in a bookstore. Bf laughed, thinking I was being humorous, but really...

We took a limousine bus home (so comfy! why don't we have these in Canada?) and I started reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. It's so good!!! We also ate walnut cakes - sooo delicious! I continue to be amazed by the street food here (along with all other food also). Some of the most delicious things I've eaten are dirt cheap and taken for granted (it's just ordinary street food) but to me they are like little bites of heaven. Anywho, I had to stop reading when it got dark (so sad!) and watched TV instead (limousine buses always have a big TV hanging at the front). The programming was about traditional food and showed three ladies visiting various countryside locations and eating the special local dishes there. It made me hungry. I also think that would be an awesome job to have.

But why am I still writing? This is getting super long and it's time to get back to the The House of Mirth, I'm already addicted to this book. All I want to do is drink tea (or hot chocolate), maybe treat myself to a biscuit, and READ!

And I do hope my passport makes it back to me someday soon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Yesterday it finally snowed! While we didn't have a White Christmas this year, it was a pleasant surprise to look out the window yesterday and see big fluffy snowflakes dancing around. Today the sky is blue, clear, and bright but you never never - maybe I will get snowed in and be forced to drink hot chocolate and watch movies all day. Hey, I'm on vacation - I can do that anyway gwahaha :-)

This delicious, super fresh salad is from Seoga & Cook, one of my favourite restaurants in my area. It is accompanied by garlic-y shrimp fried rice - enough rice to be shared by two or even three (very small) people. One of my goals is to cook shrimp fried rice at home and have it taste 1/3rd as good as this. My bf and I have made the attempt a couple of times but it's harder than it seems. And the salad? It is miiine, aaaaall mine...and my bf usually eats the corn. Corn is extremely popular here. Even on pizza.

Other sustenance - books! I want to mention a couple of books that I read in 2011. These were page turners that I couldn't tear my eyes from. First up - North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. After reading Wives and Daughters I couldn't wait to read more by this fabulous author. Her writing is lovely - elegant, full of truth, and all about everyday life and relationships though never mundane or predictable. Her characters are fully formed and they sparkle with life and their own independent thoughts. Her female characters are especially interesting - intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive, and full of deep feeling. And of course I fell in love with Mr. John Thornton...I think he is similar to Mr. Darcy in some ways but much more interesting, intelligent, and admirable. Gaskell also manages to present major societal issues, such as the clashes between different classes and the desperation of the poor in a human way that gives us a close-up view of the goings on rather than discussing the issue theoretically. Does that make sense? When I read books, what I care about most are the characters and their personalities and relationships and feelings. Gaskell's characters are simply brilliant. You can't help but feel along with them.

The other book I'll mention is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This one did not have real flesh and blood characters, but it did have magic and an incredible atmosphere. This book transported me to a beautiful, fascinating, stylish place and I was very happy to go along. Hooray for magic!

2012 = reading more books!!! I only read a handful last year since I was adjusting to a new country and a new job and now I am sooo hungry for books!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Old-fashioned me...

I often wish that I could travel back in time...the 1800s, 1920s (flappers!!), 1960s, 1980s...basically any time before now. I think it would be quite lovely. And not like Pleasantville at all, of course not! More like Midnight in Paris - definitely!

When I think of the rich culture, traditions, slower pace of everyday life, face to face relationships and vibrant conversations, textural music (textural is a word right?), less screen time, and obviously higher quality of life back in those days (yes, I tend to exaggerate and romanticize), boy do I ever want to go there :-)

Of course many would argue that now is the best time of all. Smart phones + the internet + digital everything are so incredible, groundbreaking and communication is so astounding, soon people will be bionic and Monsanto will own all our food so on and so forth but I think my energy just doesn't quite fit with modern energy.

I greatly enjoy walking, the sound of turning pages, writing things by hand, mix tapes, lady-like things of various kinds, cooking and eating real food, things that have shape and weight, eating meals with my family, discussing all sorts of things with a sense of romanticism rather than cynicism, fresh air, green spaces, taking time rather than instant everything, unique textures + designs + places, and just the sense that my life is associated with a certain time and influenced by the unique colours, smells, feelings, pictures, things of that time rather than being suspended in a digital, shapeless, ageless, black and white plastic nothingness. Oops, am I exaggerating again?

So another one of my goals for 2012 will be to add texture, colour, and shape to my everyday life rather than whining about this. It's up to us to make our lives into whatever we want them to be and, really, what is there to stop me? No one is saying I have to live a certain way. I can light candles, read musty old books, play board games, and listen to records if I want to and there's nothing wrong with that. Gwa ha ha! :-)

I'd like to say more about how fascinating it is to live in Korea - a land of the latest technology (home of Samsung and LG! and soooo many cell phones!) as well as being a land of tradition and Confucianism...but I will save that post for another time methinks :-)

Have a marvelous day :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Comfort...from the screen

There are some movies, TV shows, songs, books, other various media whatsits that never fail to cheer me up, or bring forth oodles of nostalgia, or make me feel intensely happy to be alive. Instant coziness and comfort! Here are some of the aforementioned whatsits:


- Almost Famous
- Roman Holiday
- Pretty in Pink/Sixteen Candles/The Breakfast Club/Say Anything...
- Elf
- Little Women
- Edward Scissorhands
- Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit
- Sense and Sensibility
- Only You
- The Shop Around the Corner


Gilmore Girls
Arrested Development
Freaks and Geeks
The Vampire Diaries (hehe)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer


- Simon and Garfunkel
- Queen
- The National
- Cat Stevens
- Bat for Lashes
- Silverchair
- 80s music in general
- Christmas music
- old soft rock that gets played on the radio
- movie soundtrack songs and TV theme songs....ex) Time of My Liiiife or I Don't Want to Wait


- His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
- Roald Dahl - especially Matilda and The Witches
- Jane Austen
- Elizabeth Gaskell
- Tamora Pierce (the Lioness Quartet, Immortals Quartet)
- Victorian lit (especially by female authors) in general, fantasy (esp by female authors) not quite in general
- Agatha Christie
- Sherlock Holmes stories
- Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen
- Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton

And now to wind things up as it is time to refuel and watch some Gilmore Girls! Hooray for vacations!!!