Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Strengths

So the college I went to was all about the Gallup Strengthfinders.  As a result, some people who went to my college LOVE strengthfinders and some people HATE strengthfinders.  I don't think there are people who are really on the in between on this one :)

I will let you decide if I am a lover or a hater.

My roommate recently told me about a free online test that is very similar to Strengthfinders.  I.had.to.take.it!  Seriously, I have been wondering for years what my #6 strength is!  The man who created it, does say that it is not exactly like the real strengthfinders...but it is free and I figure it is close enough!  Before you head over there, know it is 170 questions.

Also, I made Ian take it.  I can't remember what all five of his strengths are but I do remember: Belief, Learner, Input, and Ideation.

My old strengths (from my Senior year of High School) are: Belief, Learner, Restorative, Achiever, and Intellection.

My strengths (as of right now)

  1. Intellection
  2. Discipline
  3. Strategic
  4. Focus
  5. Context
  6. Ideation
  7. Maximizer
  8. Significance
  9. Activator
  10. Analytical
  11. Responsibility
  12. Belief
  13. Achiever
  14. Learner
  15. Restorative
  16. Self-Assurance
  17. Arranger
  18. Communication
  19. Futuristic
  20. Harmony
  21. Competition
  22. Relator
  23. Connectedness
  24. Fairness (a.k.a Consistency)
  25. Input
  26. Deliberative
  27. Developer
  28. Command
  29. Inclusiveness
  30. Individualization
  31. Empathy
  32. Adaptability
  33. Woo
  34. Positivity
Yes, all of my top five strengths are either Strategic Thinking or Executing Strengths.  I think my obsession with "doing things the most efficient way" has started showing through.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Here is our Christmas letter.  Just in case you are wondering, I got the idea from here.


And here is our Christmas picture.  Not too bad considering we do not have a fancy-smanchy camera and we just used the self-timer.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pizza Party!

We had Bob and Mark over for a pizza night.  I am pretty sure that neither one of them had ever made pizza before  - we had a great time showing them how to make their very own pizza!

Hi Mark!



rolling out the dough

The perfect combo of American (notice the meat and peppers) and Korean (notice the mustard and mayo) pizza!

Pop 'em in the oven

I need to work on my "taking photos of stuff in the oven" pictures


Finished Pizzas - delicious!



Monday, December 12, 2011

Slightly obsessed...pumpkin scones

YA'ALLLLLLLLLLL!

I need to share this with you!  I am currently obsessed (after I wrote the title for this blog post, I realized that slightly and obsessed never go in the same sentence for me) with PUMPKIN!!!!!!!!!!  (Guess who got a care package from America with CANNED PUMPKIN in it last week?)

Case-in-point:  I had some pumpkin pie oatmeal with a pumpkin scone for breakfast today and I drank a lovely pumpkin spice latte.  I forgot how ahhmmmaazzzziiinnngggg pumpkin from a can tastes.  I am not going to even suggest that the pumpkin puree I made back in September can even begin to compare to canned American pumpkin.

Currently I am also intrigued with using milk kefir in dessert-y recipes to add probiotics (do probiotics die in the oven when they get heated to a certain point?) and reduce the amount of sugar needed for a recipe.  Have I shared this recipe for sugar free pancakes?  These are the only pancakes getting eaten in our house (er, apartment) right now.

Can you tell where this is headed?

Pumpkin (in a can, from America)

And

Kefir - reducing sugar in dessert


Pumpkin Kefir Scones (with dried cranberries if that floats your boat or if you are my amazing husband the craisins kinda sink the boat...)


Ingredients:
3/4 c milk kefir
6 Tblsp pumpkin puree
1/4 c dried cranberries (unless you are making this for a boat sinker, then leave them out)

1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of cloves
dash of ginger (more like half of a dash)
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
flour (start with 2 cups....I ended up using closer to 3 cups)

1.) Preheat your oven to 200 C (maybe 400 F) and turn on some Christmas music, a sermon (I listened to this one) or whatever you like to listen to as you bake.

2.) Mix the together kefir and pumpkin (and cranberries if you are using them).  Set this bowl in a safe place (not near your computer preferably)

3.) Mix together all the dry ingredients.  Then stir in the pumkefir mixture.  You want the dough to be a little bit sticky but not too sticky.  The first time I made these, I added in quite a bit of flour.

3.5) Take off your wedding ring (Or get half way through the next step and have your amazing husband come take them off for you.)

4.) Knead the dough a few times on a floured surface.  Pat the dough into a circle.  Cut it in half, then each half into half, then each half-half into half (that is, eighths).    Place each scone on a baking sheet (or the bottom rack of your oven if you have a janky oven like us).

5.) Bake for 17ish minutes.  Here is a timer for ya'll in case you have a janky oven that is timer-less. {Even though our oven IS janky, I am still VERY thankful for it}

And you are good to go.  Seriously, you are not going to miss the 3/4 cup of sugar most other pumpkin scone recipes call for.  I adapted this recipe for Honey From Rock.

Our Christmas tablerunner and some yummy scones (that you should go make and eat!)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Home Tour

Hey ya'll - want come over to see our cute apartment Christmas-ified?  Even if you an ocean away, you can come on in and see our cozy place.


 The front door...paper snowflakes and a Christmas potholder


Magazine Christmas Trees
These might look difficult to make, but they are SO simple, all you need is a magazine!
This blog shows each step for the Christmas trees with pictures.  I did have a few problems getting the tree to end up a circle, so I just put the back towards the wall and no one can tell what the back actually looks like. I used magazine that were different lengths to add variety.

This is the back of my shorter Christmas tree - not perfect, but that will  be a secret !

My friend Gabi, recently taught us how to make a mosaic using pictures.  (Thanks Gabi!)  So here is my snowflake mosiac....






white snowflakes on a white wall...(obviously I am obsessed with paper snowflakes)
 I tried to make a Christmas tree.  It is, uh, a little Charlie Brownish (to say the least)  It did not come out perfect, but it definitely better than no Christmas tree at all.  We also have a designated place to put presents.  I will save ya'll from actually having to see it!

What is your favorite way to decorate for Christmas? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Right now...

...I am listening to Christmas music, addressing Christmas cards, and enjoying a nice glass of warm water.  The kiddos are taking their final exams, thus I have nothing to do (desk-warming!).

I have about 10 blog posts in draft, and I promise to get working on those soon : )

For now, you can enjoy the photos that did not make the cut for the Christmas card.
This is one is okay....
Oh man!  This one reminds me of the video we made last year!
Next week, I will let you see the one did make the cut!  Speaking of Christmas videos....here is ours from last year.  I still crack up when I watch the end of this video.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

a boost for the metabolism

Do you remember the free detox this summer?  Those days seems long ago.  These days it is cold here.

So instead of a free detox, my metabolism is getting a nice little boost.

I am pretty sure that just being cold ups your metabolism because your body is working harder to stay warm.  And if that does not do it, then running in place to try to stay warm and entertain your students definitely gets some extra calories burning.

How perfect that the time to freeze time to boost your metabolism and the holidays come all at the same time. I am pretty sure that means I can have second helpings of pumpkin pie, right?

Praise the Lord that I have a warm bed (with lots of covers and someone to snuggle with), my super hero suit (i.e. a whole layer of shiny spandex that I wear under my clothes to help me stay warm at school) and lots of warm beverages to drink.

Thanksgiving Afternoon - fresh kimchi

So I have already told you about our Thanksgiving Day.  But ya'll definitely need to hear about our Saturday afternoon!  This will be a memory that I hold onto for probably the rest of my life.

After feasting upon American foods, some of us decided to take a walk to enjoy the gorgeous day.  (We were out in the country, not the city, got to breathe in that fresh air!)

As we were walking, one person noticed a Korean man carrying a heavy bag of rice from his truck to his house and several more lying in the truck bed. Taking note that there were 4 other men that could make his load a bit lighter, we offered to help, and the man said he only needed one more, but sure, he'd like the help.

The family soon invited us all into their courtyard where we discovered the event of the day: Kimjang, the time of the year when family, neighbors, and friends gather together for a few days and make the kimchi they will eat for the year ahead.  It's a big job, usually involving 100-200 heads of cabbage, depending on the family size, and lots of time preparing materials, washing, stuffing spices between leaves, etc.  These sweet women responded with a mixture of surprise and delight at the sight of a handful of foreigners in their courtyard, but it didn't take long for their generosity to extend to us in very tangible ways.

Before I really knew what was happening, the women were hand-feeding everyone fresh (un-fermented) kimchi.  Fresh kimchi is spicy!  And I had to eat all of it, as the women stuffed put it all in my mouth for me :)

My fresh kimchi taste testing
The amazing hubs got in on it too
 And the Koreans, being the generous people that they are, sent some kimchi home with us!



Thanks Melody for capturing these funny memories in pictures!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick recap of our Thanksgiving:

5:43 AM Turkey trot began.  I came in first and last place.  I may have organized the race as well.  And the race started outside the door of our apartment.  It ended there as well.  It is not Thanksgiving without a Turkey Trot.

7:50 AM: left for school, carrying half an apple pie (from Costco) and 15 pumpkin chocolate chips muffins
8:20 AM: arrived at school, my arms were so sore and my hands were cold :)

8:23AM: dig into the food with my coteachers

1:20PM: Student: "Alissa-Teacher does that taste like spaghetti?"  Me: "No, green bean casserole taste nothing like spaghetti."

2:40PM: finish off the the apple pie and pumpkin chocolate muffins (with my co-teachers of course!)

3:58PM: Finish writing my 100 things I am thankful for list.

4:30 PM: Head home.
5PM: arrive home

The rest of the day: ate chili for dinner, I did some grocery shopping, my amazing husband made cinnamon rolls, I caught up on the Biggest Loser and made sweet potato casserole from scratch.

It was a great day.  This weekend we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with some other waygooks....bring on the turkey!

2011 Thankfuls

Every since I was like 9, I have written a list of 100 things I am thankful for on Thanksgiving. The tradition began one year when I was bored while riding in the car to Grandma and Grandpas. It is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving now.

Thankfuls for Thanksgiving 2011:
1.) God, his love, his wisdom, his mercy, His plans
2.) Costco – it makes Thanksgiving in Korean WAY better
3.) Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith
4.) Christmas music – it makes every season in Korea way better
5.) My amazing husband, he is so great!
6.) My bike
7.) Friends who skype or email or snail mail or do whatever necessary to stay in touch
8.) Family who sends the most amazing care packages ever
9.) Time to reflect
10.) Sister-in-laws who are more like sisters
11.) Garmin running watch
12.) Family who remembers every holiday and sends us a card (that is you, Grandpa and Kathryn!)
13.) Homemade pizza
14.) The miracle oven (after living for 14 months without an oven, I am SO thankful for this)
15.) Sunshine that comes in the windows dries the clothes, and makes the clothes all nice warm, like they just came out of the dryer.
16.) Learning how to make my own pumpkin puree from scratch
17.) Figuring out how to stay warm during the winter
18.) My amazing husband making cinnamon rolls for us!
19.) Decaf Coffee
20.) snow
21.) God moving us to Korea
22.) Soft hearts
23.) Being able to go to America this summer for a visit
24.) A warm bed
25.) God’s faithfulness
26.) Hot chocolate mixed with coffee
27.) My amazing husband always sharing bites of his food with me!
28.) The Holy Spirit, and his spirit of truth
29.) Fellow waygooks
30.) Running partners, past and present
31.) Facebook, skype, pinterest, blogs, and other forms of technology
32.) Online radio
33.) Free printables
34.) Knowing more Korean right now than I did a year ago
35.) The beauty of mathematics
36.) Being fit, healthy, and strong
37.) Journals
38.) kimchi
39.) Running shoes that fit
40.) Being able to watch The Biggest Loser even though I am not in America
41.) A beautiful walk to and from school everyday
42.) Kleenex
43.) Cute, adorable, Korean children eating with chopsticks at lunch everyday
44.) Bibimbap, popensue, jangjang myeon, sangupsal, and all other Korean foods that I LOVE
45.) 537 lovely days of marriage and many more to come!
46.) Laughing with coworkers
47.) A spring marathon to look forward to
48.) Electric blankets, space heaters, and really thick socks
49.) Finding community
50.) Rice heat packs
51.) the pure bliss of licking the spoon with batter on it (I forgot how delightful this was, when we were sans oven)
52.) God’s provisions
53.) Anticipation…the best is yet to come
54.) Waking up after a night of full restorative sleep
55.) My Verse of the Day girls (love you!) and your accountability
56.) Those fish cake things that you buy on the street
57.) Learning to live without and being content
58.) Peanut butter
59.) Korean ATMs
60.) Clean water
61.) The change of each season
62.) The Heavenly Homemaker – I love this blog (http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/) J
63.) English is my first language
64.) American sized coffee mugs
65.) American sized anything
66.) Books in English
67.) Board games and friends to play them with
68.) A big enough apartment to have more than 2 people over at a time
69.) Paper snowflakes
70.) Discovering new Christmas music
71.) Emmanuel, God with us
72.) Online sermons
73.) Being able to choose to run inside or outside
74.) Hand sanitizer
75.) People that are creative and pass their creativity along to me
76.) Being young, without responsibility (footloose and fancy free ya’ll)
77.) Libraries
78.) Warm, cute slippers
79.) English speaking churches in Korea
80.) Emart bulgogi pizza
81.) Learning flexibility
82.) Learning creativity
83.) Weather.com’s ability to know the weather in Korea
84.) Bags, bags, and purses
85.) Crockpot
86.) Blender
87.) Getting bit by the craft bug…and loving it
88.) Those times when you find something really funny and want to laugh, but you are supposed to be working, so your whole body is shaking and you starting snorting and crying (does this only happen to me?)
89.) Hugs
90.) Inspiring quotes
91.) Those photo booths that make stickers that you can Korean-ify
92.) Cute clothes
93.) Lemon tea
94.) Puppy chow
95.) The Word
96.) Nike tempo running shorts
97.) Cute adorable Korean children
98.) Homemade pumpkin pie blizzards
99.) Christmas cards
100.) Christmas decorations

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our Weekend Trip to Tokyo: the Details



Confession: I am actually writing this post in January 2012 and not November 2011.  Sorry about that.  Better late than never.

Here are some details of our trip that I really want to remember:

Christmas - oh man!  Tokyo had Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and a Christmas feel to it!  I was amazed how "Christmasy" everything felt!  Koreans do not put up any decorations until about a week before Christmas.  Here we are 6 weeks out and there are decorations everywhere.  It made the Christmas part of my heart SO happy.

European feel:  In Tokyo, you walk on the left side of the sidewalk, you drive on the left side of the street, cars have the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car etc.  I have never been to Europe before, but Tokyo seemed way more European than Korea.  The architecture was definitely Asian, but after living in Korea, it was easy for us to spot the hints of European influence in the buildings and design.  We were confused the whole weekend about what side of the street we were supposed to be on and why people were actually walking in orderly fashion. (Koreans just walk on whatever side of the street they are on.  If you are younger than the person you are approaching, it is your job to get out of their way.  Not organized at all in my brain - I digress.)
Thanks Google Images

$, won, yen  - my math brain was at work all weekend.  It is quite easy to convert US dollars to Korean Won (1,000 won = 0.86 US dollars - I just use a 10 to 9 ratio).  Converting from Won to Yen or US dollar to Yen is a nightmare for me (100 yen = 13 US dollars or about 15,000 won).  100 won is CHEAP 100 yen is NOT cheap.  Lesson learned.  One cool aspect about Japanese Yen is that some of the coins have holes punched in the middle of them.  If it is has a hole it either 5 yen or 50 yen.  And finding coins on the ground is jackpot (think of finding 6 dollars on the ground)

Reading Japanese: This was hilarious to me!  My amazing husband and I developed a way of reading the subway maps (that were ONLY in Japanese, thankfully we had printed off an English translation before hand.)  Our conversations went something like this, "what stop do we want?"  "the one that is like an asterisk, then a d in Korean, a window, and then a y in English".  Some of the symbols looked very Korean and some did not look like any letters I have ever seen before in my life.

Fat People:  I definitely thought that all Asian were thin.  In Korea saying that an individual is fat is the same as saying he or she has brown hair.  It is a physical appearance trait - it is not an emotionally charged, offensive comment.  Koreans are thin.  I can count on my hands how many times I have met overweight Koreans.  There are fat people in Japan.  I stared at them (I am SO Korean).  I was just surprised to see this.

Bathrooms:  Oh goodness!  The bathrooms in Tokyo were so confusing.  Case-in-point: The toilet has 14 buttons on it, but NONE of them are to flush.  The action of opening the stall door triggers something to flush the toilet.  (WEIRD).  Also, most of the toilet seats I encountered were heated.  God Bless Japan and it's heated toilet seats.  Asians do NOT heat their bathrooms all that much - which results in many a cold bathrooms trips for me.  Heated Toilet Seats are Great.  Korea  My school should invest in more of them.

Not the clearest picture, but just in case you have not experienced the 14 button toilets

And that is about it!  All the fun details that I rememeber from our Tokyo Trip!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Weekend Trip to Tokyo!

About two weeks ago, we realized we both had this past Friday off school.  We checked (just to see) how much plane tickets were to Jeju Island and Tokyo.  Plane tickets to Tokyo were cheaper, so we decided to go to Japan for the three day weekend.

Sometimes I read people's blogs and think, "Wow!  They have an awesome life."  And God has blessed many of us with incredible lives!  At the same time, please do not think we have a perfect life.  One area of our marriage that we are working on is communicating while traveling.  We did not argue the whole time we were in Japan, but we did not have an absolutely perfect trip with no bumps either.  I just wanted to throw that out there.  {Note: most of the work in our marriage about traveling needs to be done by me.  Good thing I am married to a great husband who takes care of me and triple checks the map just to make me happy even though he knows he is walking the right way.}

Not that you have a realistic setting, let me share the fun details of our trip!

Hello Kitty driving her own tour bus = fun, right?

Our Friday morning started pretty early.  We were out the door before 6:30, headed to the bus terminal (which is conveniently located about 10 minutes from us).  I love public transportation in Korea.  It is great.  We were dropped off at the door of the international airport in Gimhae.  Our flight left on time.  We I made epic wishes at 11:11 (to make it to Japan safely).  We enjoyed some sushi and kimbap for lunch (how fitting to eat sushi while flying over Japan).  It was rainy so we had a turbulent landing.  Can I just say that 2.5 hour flights are WAY better than 10 or 15 hour flights!?!?!  Love that we did not even change time zones.  We found our hostel, and then set out for our great Tokyo adventure.  Somehow we ended up two blocks from the hostel in a grocery store.  They had brats! (brots? brauts?  How do you spell that word?) And they had cream cheese that was SUPER cheap!  Yeah, so we spent some time walking around the grocery store discovering long lost comforts of America.  I tried to keep doing the money conversations to see what was cheaper than Korea and what was more expensive.  After we finally made it out of the grocery store with tomorrow's breakfast in hand (still talking about the brots), we found a cheap yummy place to grab dinner.  That was our super exciting Friday. Travel, rain, brots, and going to bed really early.

Stay tuned.  I promise Saturday is more exciting!

Saturday morning greeted us with warmer temperatures and clear skies!  {Thank you, Jesus, that we did not have to explore Tokyo in the rain!!!}  Our first stop was the Ueno area.  We went to the Yushima Tenjin Shrine first.  We wanted to see a Japanese shrine/temple to see how they compare to the temples in Korea.

Main difference between a Korean temple and a Japanese one, there is less red paint and more neutrals and gold paint.  

Also, I had read that there was a chrysanthemum exhibit at this particular shrine.  They even had life size "dolls" (If you are reading this and you know Iris, I am pretty sure the dolls were Iris' cousins.)  made from flowers.
I am not sure why the man is missing a huge patch of hair.  

And a cute bunny and bear too.


After the shrine, we visited Ueno Park.  I was so happy to see Saturday morning runners out and about!  We even saw some teenage girls running!  (Girls/Women/Females of all ages do not really run in Korea, they just walk.)
I wish I could have joined in on the running.  This would have been so pretty to run around!

We also went to a library on Saturday (we were not planning on this, but it was part of the walk from the park to the cemetery so we stopped by.)  It is not everyday that we can go to the International Library of Children's Literature.  By the time we made it to Yanaka Cemetery, I was ready for a break.  So we sat, stared at the tombs and guessed what the wooden sticks with Japanese writing on them could represent.  I think there are some famous people buried at this cemetery, but I can not read Japanese so there was no hope of finding them.  Plus I was hungry for some lunch.

Notice the large wooden sticks with Japanese writing.  Does anyone know what that is about?
We ate udon noodles in beef broth for lunch.  Udon noodles are nice and thick.  And they are carbs,  so what is not to like?  After lunch, we found the Sony Building.  If you ever go to Tokyo, you should find this place.  (It is free!)  You can walk around and try out new products about to hit the market.  Technology is amazing to me.  I can not begin to fathom how people invent this stuff.  If it was up to my inventing skillz, we would still be using fire.


Next we went to the weird area of Tokyo Kabukicho.  This neighborhood has a lot of arcades and interesting stores.  We happened upon a dance contest.  It was so cute to see the Japanese kids dancing.  They were so good!  We found a sushi conveyor belt restaurant near here to eat dinner at.

Entrance to the Kabukicho neighborhood
The sushi conveyor belt restaurant is a cool experience.  Basically there is a big oval bar.  The chef stands on the inside.  Customers sit around the outside.  As the chef makes sushi, he plates it, and sticks the plates on the conveyor belt (that is going around the bar).  Customers take whatever plate (or plates) that they want.  Your bill is determined by the number and color of plates you took.  I am not a huge fan of sushi, but we enjoyed the experience.  I think our total bill ended up being less than 10 US dollars.  I am so thankful that the sushi came with rice and wasabi!  It was a much better experience than this sushi experience.

And that was our Saturday.

We did a lot less on Sunday.  We started our day at Starbucks and then headed to find a Flea Market.  We were well prepared with a subway stop and a map.  After walking around (for a long time in my opinion) and trying different streets, we decided that flea market either moved or does not exist anymore.  So we decided to go to a nearby area that was supposed to have a lot of antique shops.  We got to the neighborhood and there were no antique shops (can you tell how this day is going so far?)  So basically on Sunday, we walked, and walked, and walked some more.  We could have taken public transportation to eliminate some of the walking but we are parsimonious {read: we are doing Tokyo on a budget.}  By the time we found some lunch it was time to head to Tokyo station to start our journey home.  We did do a little bit of survivor shopping before leaving.

When we got to the airport and saw the lines for checking in and security, I thought we were going to miss our flight.  But we did not have to check in any luggage and the security line went faster than I anticipated!  It was so nice to hear Korean after a weekend of hearing just Japanese.  I love seeing little ones tottering around and shrieking "Oma!  Ab-bba!"  Korean children are seriously the cutest children in the world.  My amazing husband and I are becoming experts at flying internationally.  The last 7 or so flights I have taken have involved the customs declaration forms et al.  I remember being so freaked out on our honeymoon when I had to fill in the forms on the plane.  I think I asked a question to my amazing husband for every line that had to get filled in.

Anywho, we made it through customs and found our bus back to Daegu.  (sometime I will blog about the miracle of the bus ticket but for now just know it was a miracle that we made it back.)  We got back to our happy little apartment around midnight.  It was a packed weekend, but I feel like we got to see a lot of Tokyo and experience some Japanese culture.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I love wedding anniversaries!  They are so special - celebrating another 365 days of fun memories, love, respect, and everything else marriage.

Two years ago today my brother and sister-in-law got married!  Woot! Woot!

Love this picture from their wedding day!
One of the amazing things about my brother and sister-in-law is that they have been together forever (okay, not forever) but they started dating when my brother was 16 and my sister-in-law was 15.  How cool is that!?!?  I was 14 when they started dating.  I have gotten to grow up with my sister-in-law - not many people get to do that.  In some ways she is more like my big sister than my sister-in-law.  Anything I know about gf, Friends, hair, makeup, nails, and clothes comes from her!

I love my brother and sister-in-law.  They are such fun, hard-working people.  They have stuck together through so many highs and lows.  I hope after my amazing husband and I have been together as long as they have we love each other like they do.


Here's to many more years of happiness, bliss, and love!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Success - Apple Butter!

I made some apple butter this weekend.  It was SUPER easy.

Steps to making apple butter:
1.) Get applesauce out of freezer, defrost, put applesauce in blender and blend.

2.) Put now smooth applesauce in the crockpot.

3.) Add some sugar and cinnamon.

4.) Turn the crockpot on low.  (Note: I did not say put the lid on, you want to leave the lid off.)

5.) Wait 6 hours.  You can stir occassionaly within those 6 hours if you so desire.

There you go.  Apple butter.  I, in no way, came up with this idea.  I got it from here.

I served some for brunch today, everyone liked it.  Yeah!

Hope ya'll had a good weekend - if you live in the US of A (except Arizona and some parts of Indiana) I hope you enjoyed your extra hour of sleep!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Art Festival

So today we had a special day at school. (One of the best parts about teaching at an elementary school is all of the special days we have!)  It was Art Festival Day!  As of yesterday my job for art festival was to help the kids line up to go on stage.  (The kiddos take turns playing instruments, reciting poems, dancing, etc.).  I think my school wanted all the parents to see the waygook.

But then I got to school this morning and was told that my job had changed.  I "got" to stand near the art gallery  and "watch" it.  Yes, I stood for 3 hours and stared into space.  It was so boring.  Of course all the parents and grandparents that walked through the gallery had questions for me.  I did a lot of smiling and bowing.  And shrugging my shoulders.  There were some amazing pieces of art!


Check out these cross stitch pictures that some of the moms made!

The students contributed some art, the parents contributed some art (see above), and the teachers contributed some art.
Here is my awesome contribution.  I think it pales in comparison to the parents' submission.

I doubt that I will have the lovely opportunity to stand around for three hours and do absolutely nothing in my future jobs.

Monday, October 31, 2011

When nothing else presents itself....

When I have nothing exciting in my life to blog about, I make up something exciting {cooking or baking natured}, so I can share it with ya'll.  Yeah for excitement!

In not exciting news, I am sick.  I have a cold.  Boo! 

In exciting news, I have developed the ultimate immune system boosting soup! 

In not exciting news, it is has yet to work.

Things that help to boost your immune system naturally: chicken broth, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and green tea. (the green tea does not go in the soup, I just drank it as the beverage.)

I was out of ideas for dinner the other day, so I was browsing the Ovenless Chef's blog, looking for something new to try.  Chicken and Cheddar Dumplings.  YA.  ALL.  Ohmigoodness.  Please go over there right now and read this recipe, then go to the grocery store buy whatever ingredients you are lacking, come back home, and make this!

Maybe this does not look delicious, but it is.  Trust me!

My amazing husband gave the recipe a 9 out of 10 (for soups.  I am pretty sure a 9 out of 10 for soups is like a 5 out of 10 on the pizza scale, nothing compares with American pizza.  Or a good meatloaf.)

You may notice that there are no shiitake mushrooms in this recipe.  I switched out the onions for the mushrooms (mainly because I had bought mushrooms and not onions).  I added in some extra garlic too.  I had some homemade chicken stock, that I substituted for water (although I ended up pouring in some water too). 
Anticipation...waiting for everything to finish up!

Make sure you use a big pot.  We only have one pot.  It was not big enough.  We had yumminess dripping down the sides and making messes.  Not a big deal, but if you have a big pot, use it. 

In super exciting news, I am going to start listening to Christmas music tomorrow.  If I lived in America, this would wait until after Thanksgiving, but I live in Korea.  So bring on the Christ child and His tunes! 

Fun fact for today.  Christmas and carol are Konglish words, pretty much the same in English and Korean (except the r's are l's and add some funking vowels sounds in.  You are good to go.)

One of my all time favorite questions: What is your favorite Christmas song and why?

Monday, October 24, 2011

KNN Half Marathon!

I ran a half marathon this weekend!  It went well, but you need to hear the whole story (you know me and my love of details).  Let's start at the very beginning {that is a very good place to start!}.  On Saturday, my amazing husband and I headed to Busan.  We were able to see our friends, visit the 2nd biggest department store in the world, and drink some Starbucks.  Life was good.  Except I was freaking out in my brain because it was raining and I was so nervous about the half marathon.  We ate a fantastic dinner!  I wanted to make sure to carbo load, so I ate pasta in a bread bowl.  Did you catch that?  The land of morning calm has bread bowls.  Who knew?  First bread bowl I have had in 2 years I think.  Let's hope we do not have to go another 2 years sans bread bowls.
It was a combination of all different kinds of pasta in a cream sauce in a bread bowl - delicious!

I love bread bowls.

Oh yeah, Katelyn or John, if you are reading this, thank you for putting up with me through the viewing of Stardust.  To your surprise, I may watch it again sometime and probably not talk as much.  It has gone up from a 5 out of 10 to a 8 out of 10 movie on my scale (now that I know how it ends).

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and early.  I was so nervous.  As in, I knew if my amazing husband came with me he would get the outpouring of my stress through inappropriate comments.  I can be snippy when stressed.  So he stayed with Katelyn and John and went to church.  (Better for him and for our marriage I think).

Upon on arriving at the race, I watched some grand open girls dance, watched everyone do some group stretching, then there was a parade of 10 K runners headed to the start line.  Some guys carrying a banner saying "Half and a bunch of Korean words" followed the 10kers, so I thought "ah, we are going to start soon" and jumped in the parade.

I was wrong.

Completely and utterly wrong.

Unless you consider 40 minutes soon.  I stood, waiting for the race to start for 40 minutes.  There were about 2000 other people doing the same thing.  There were a Korean man and women MCing the whole 40 minutes.  I would love to know what they were saying.  What can you possibly say for 40 minutes?  Run fast?  Put one foot in front of the other?

During this 40 minutes I was FREAKED out.  I kept waiting for the pacers to show up.  I had seen pictures of previous years and there were pacers.  My whole plan was to run with a pace group for the first half of the race and chase a different pace group the second half of the race.

I was wrong.

Completely and utterly wrong.

There were no pacers.  I was freaking out (mentally).

My view of the start (that I stared at for 40 minutes).


Finally, the 10kers started and then we started about 5 minutes after them.  I spent the first 5 miles of the race dodging 10k folks who decided to walk.  It was super fun.  Thankfully the 5kers started after the half.

See the Orange Line?  It's the course  image credit
I do not have a lot of specific memories from the race.  Here are things I do remember thinking:

Mile 1: I hit mile 1 at exactly 9:00.  I was not a happy camper and decided to speed up.  Then my knee started to hurt.  A lot.  At this point in time, I just gave up.  I thought, "I can not run faster, there are no pace groups, let's just do an easy run and finish."

Mile 2.5: My knee miraculously stopped hurting.  (It was not really my knee, it is my IT band around my knee).  Thank you Jesus!

Mile 4: Who are all these guys in suits?  Everytime we had to turn there were two guys wearing the exact same 3 piece suits, doing the golf clap, and saying "PI-ghting!  PI-ghting!" (that is Korean for Fighting!).  I am pretty sure they were paid to be there.  They were the only people who cheered for us.  The people out in their front yards who we ran past just kept weeding their flower beds.

Mile 6.55: I think I hit the half way point somewhere around 56:30.  I realized that I would finish in 1:53: and some change if I kept up this pace.  So I decided to speed up.

Mile 7.76 or so: There was a water station, so I stopped to get some gatorade.  I think I was at 1:09 or so at this point in time, so I was headed in the right direction.  I had done some 4 or 5 mile tempo runs semi-successfully during my training, so I decided once I hit 14 km I was going to tell myself it was a tempo run and just run.

Mile 10: More men in suits, this time handing out hair ties.  I evaded the first one muttering, "I'm      oh      kay.    Gwen    chen  ni  yo"  But the second suited man got me.  I have a bright red hairtie with some metal on it if anyone would like it.

I also remembered that I should take some pictures.  Kilometer 16! 

Mile 12.5: I always think the last mile or half mile of the race is the longest.  They had us twist and turn so many times the last half mile.  I kept thinking, "Almost there, almost there!"  I wanted to cry or walk or something but I summoned up all my adjuma power and pressed on.  It was definitely the hardest part of the race for me.  Where were all the identical three piece suit guys when you needed them?

30 seconds before I finished: I passed a lady!  Woot!  Woot!  I had passed about 100 guys when racing but only one other women.  My whole body felt like jello at this point in time, but I told myself I could not let her pass me back.

Mile 13.1: I finally looked at my watch!  1:48:01!  Woot!  Woot! I negative splitted!  My second half of the race was 51:31.

Probably not the smartest race of my life (went out too slow) but I was really happy that I did as well as I did.

Here are the results, I am quite easy to find:
My name gets two lines!
I got some sweet food after the race.  Unbeknownst to me, the land of morning calm also has granola bars!  Who knew?  I was SO excited.  Bliss.  I also got some triangle gimbap and soy milk.

I have missed Nature Valley Granola bars so much!
I got a medal for finishing the race and a piece of laminated paper that says I got 10th place.  Potentially the only time in my life that I will place 10th in a half marathon.

This was a few hours after the race, I did not look this smiley after finishing.  

Whew. That was quite a long story.  Thanks for listening to all of it!  I am in midst of 2 weeks of bad decisions right now.  Except it is more like 2 weeks of bad decisions for an 80 year old.  My bad decision from yesterday was to go to be at 8 pm.  Livin' the dream, folks, livin' the dream.

If you had two weeks to make bad decisions.  What would they be?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Anticipation

The anticipation is building!  There are some the pretty exciting events coming in the near future:

1.) Tomorrow - As of Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 we have been married for 500 days!  Yeah!  Praise God that He has sustained us, provided for us, been faithful to us...the list goes on and on.  It has been a great 500 days, can't wait to see what the next 500 days will bring us.

499 days ago, he was making me laugh...still true today.

2.) Half Marathon!  One of the best parts about racing in Korea is that you do not have go the day before and try to use body language and broken Korean to explain who you are and what race you are running; your number and complimentary jacket are delivered.  I am number 25001 and I got a cool new jacket.  Sadly it does not say, "Why yes, I have run a half marathon.  In South Korea."  My goal for signing up for a half marathon was not let myself get out of shape over the summer, do some speed work during my training, and be ready to start training for the Daegu Marathon.  Goals accomplished.  A good race on Sunday is just icing on the cake...we'll see what happens.

Fun fact: It cost me 27 US dollars to register for a half marathon in Korea.


3.) Baking and Pumpkin Spice Coffee!  This may not sound exciting to those of you in America, but we got a care package today!  Woot!  Woot!  It contained some pumpkin spice coffee

Can not wait to brew this!

and some baking dishes!

When no space presents itself, store new muffin tins in the oven itself!

It may have contained some Halloween candy, but that is gone already.  Thanks Mom and Dad for thinking of us!

Now I need to end this blog post and I stink at conclusions, so here it is:  I hope you are looking forward to some exciting events in your life too!  Please tell me about them because I would love to hear about it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Plan C - the weekend

So Apple Craziness Weekend did not really go as planned.  Even after it did not go as planned for plan A, it did not go as plan B was supposed to go either.  So we ended up with plan C (when does life go as planned in Korea?).

I can make applesauce any day of my life.  I can not play soccer with cute Korean kiddos any day of my life.


And by play soccer, I mean, watch my amazing husband play soccer.  I practiced telling time {in Korean} to all the cuties that kept asking me what time it was.  And I might have taken a picture or two.

Dae-Han-Mi-Gook!  DaeHanMiGook!

My fall "allergies" also decided to turn into a cold.  So I got to rest this weekend as well.  I was planning on running 10 miles Saturday morning.  It turned into 8.  So glad that it is taper week.  I am going to get as much sleep as I can between now and Sunday.

I did make one batch of applesauce.  I also tried out some cinnamon apple granola.  Lessons learned from my cooking this weekend:

1.) If you start applesauce at 7:30, 3.5 hours later is 11 not 10:25.  Applesauce taken out of the crockpot and then put back in still turns out fine.

2.) It is hard (for me) to take appealing pictures of applesauce.

maybe I need a garnish?

3.) If you make granola, you might want to try using rolled oats.  I live in Korea, I have only found one type of oatmeal.  It is not rolled oats.  My granola turned out more like apple crisp or something.  Still delicious.

apple cinnamon goodness

That was our weekend.  How was yours?