Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year In Review: 2014

I've been blogging on this site since May and I thought I'd take a look back at what's happened here this year.

My Favorite Posts

1. This is a newer post but I loved reaching back to my roots in Where I'm From.

2. Seventeen is about the summer I met my closest friends.

3. I love this funny story from my students in Nothing, If Not Honest

4. I really love this example of how God has provided for us in Korea. I titled it My Fish and Loaves Story because it seemed that God was making everything multiple.

Most Popular Posts

1.  Jane of All Trades is where I blogged about my dream jobs.

2. In my post, Just a Regular Day, I shared what a typical teaching day looked like at my former academy.

3. Throwback Thursday: 2006 was where I shared about my childhood best friend and our beach trips.

4. Lessons in Gratitude is about things I learned to appreciate much more after living in Korea. Hint: They're all things I took for granted in America.

What type of post is your favorite? Recipes? Travel stories? Reflections? Funny stories?

*This post inspired by a Mama Kat prompt. 01 02 12

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Like to Shop? Don't Like to Spend Money? Click Here.

This summer I placed an order on Thredup. It's a second hand clothing site. You can sell and buy from them. A giant plus for me is they have 30 days free return shipping, so if something isn't up to par or doesn't fit you can just pop it back in the mail and get a refund.

I spent $90 on 9 items. I love 6 of the items, like one and don't like or can't wear two of the items. If I was in the States I would have just returned the two items I didn't like for a refund. Now, I'm just going to try and sell them on a local flea market page.

Another thing I really liked it that everything came freshly washed and packaged well. I could literally wear everything straight out of the box. You could smell the scent of fresh washed clothes.

Now, for the goodies:

I ordered this lovely red jacket from Stile Benetton. It came new with tags.

This Forever 21 dress was around $3 and was also new with tags.

I really liked this Stile Benetton blouse, also new with tags at $10.

I thought this Daisy Fuentes top had black beading around the collar, but it turns out to be reflective pieces. I think I actually like it better.



I snagged this Calvin Klein top for less than $10. I wore it my office party today with a black cardigan and loved it.

I really really like this dress and it was one of my favorites when I ordered. However, it is WAY too short on the sides. The back and front are fine but for some reason the sides are cut really high. I tried it on with my jeans but it's too long for a top. I think it's okay paired with leggings though.

This next dress is NO-GO! It turned out to be statue of liberty green and hangs terribly. If I keep it it'll be for a Halloween costume.


I wore this dress already. My husband was Santa Claus for my school party and I wore this to look a little "elfish" . I'm half and half on whether or not to keep it.

I LOVED this dress. It wasn't new with tags but it looks new. Best part? It was originally $60 and I got it for less than $10.


Which item is your favorite?
Thredup has a great referral program. If you sign up through one of my links, then we both get $10 off when you place your first order. CLICK HERE. They've also been good about sending me coupon codes throughout the year, both through the mail and in my inbox.

01 02 12

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Land of Inefficency

Korea's motto is "the land of morning calm".

I have a better one- the land of inefficiency.  If you want something done and you want it done inefficiently, this is the place to come.

Inefficiency #1:

Our apartment in Daegu is a prime example of inefficiency run rapid. Buildings are erected very quickly with little to no regard given to safety or function.  In our apartment our heating bill was outrageous because we couldn't close the window. Why? I'll tell you why. The wiring, cables and gas pipes all came in through the window. The drainage system for the air conditioner went out the window.

Inefficiency #2: Toilet Plunger

I didn't even think to include toilets on my list. Most of the ones over here can't handle more than one square of 2-ply, much less anything that comes out of your body. So, plungers are an extra vital necessity. Yes, I'm aware that's redundant. That's how necessary they are.

The first plunger I purchased over here was utterly useless. I don't even think it could be re-commissioned as a doorstop.  When you applied any amount of pressure on the plunger, the rubber part would flip itself inside out. Useless, right?

Inefficiency #3: Spatula

I used a spatula to flip a pancake and it melted. Enough said.

Inefficiency #4: The Mini-broom

Mine literally only comes up to my knee. Some are shorter than that.

It's been explained that these brooms came about because a family's living quarters used to be so small that they basically only needed something slightly bigger than a duster to clean with. That was then. This is now. Korea, welcome to 2014.

I've only seen one originally full-sized broom in this country and for several months I was the proud owner. Unfortunately, we couldn't bring it on the bus when we moved. I haven't seen one since.

I say "originally" because I once saw a man who modified his mini-broom by attaching some type of piping to the handle to make it longer. That man should be president. He can break the bonds of mini-broomdom.

My school has two  full sized mops and about eight mini-brooms for us to clean the school with. It's ridiculous. I'm considering gifting the school a set of full-sized brooms when I go home. Leave a legacy and all that.

Inefficiency #5: Washing Machine Draining System

My washing machine requires it's own room because when it finishes the cycle it empties  it's bladder on to the floor. The water goes down a drain in the center of the room. Nothing else can go in the room or it will also get soaked. Similarly, the window in the room must stay open or the floor won't dry,  as their is no ventilation fan.  Even when it is snowing outside.

Inefficiency #6: The Fresh Air Mindset

We can run the heat in the winter or the AC in the summer but as soon as it's turned on we must open the door. We need to let fresh air into the building when they're running. So basically, I'm heating/cooling the sidewalk.

Inefficiency #7: Eraserless pencils

This is a personal pet peeve for me as I've been duped by these things more times than I can count. I think it's a money making scheme. Why sell you a pencil with an eraser when I can sell you a pencil and then an eraser? Most pencils don't have erasers, some just have wooden ends and you can obviously tell the eraser is missing. Some, however, are topped with these things (metal, possibly) that are painted to look like erasers but have no actual erasing capability. Instead, they grate against your paper and make the nails on the chalkboard sound.


01 02 12

Midnight Madness Abounds or the Curious Case of the "American Snowman"

A little before midnight, my husband and I decided we would sneak outside and build a big snowman in front of my school for the children to enjoy. Once outside we discovered that the snow was very light and wouldn't pack enough to make a snowball, much less an entire man.

So we thought about it and decided to make a big mound of snow and then shape it into a snowman, An hour later, we had a four foot mound of snow, starting with a wide base and tapering off to a head. We plucked a carefully carved carrot into make a nose and decorated the rest of the features with black stones. For finishing touches, we tied an old sweater around the "shoulders" and topped it off with a paper birthday hat from my work party.  We were excited and happy with our creation.

When I walked into work the next afternoon, my boss gestured to the snowman and declared that she know my husband made it because it was "American style". I asked what she meant.

"A Korean snowman is made of two big balls and has a black hat."

I explained the problem with the snow not packing and how we cleverly maneuvered around the problem. As for the hat? It was the only one I had. She smiled as nodded as she usually does when I am speaking.

As each student, parent and bus driver arrived they asked about the snowman's lack of a defined body or black hat.  I fumed silently as each student was given the explanation that the snowman was "American style".

After about the 10th explanation, a light bulb went off. Unwittingly,  my boss was actually giving me a compliment. 

The sameness culture pervades South Korea. Everyone does everything the same way and if you don't you are questioned and asked to explain yourself. Sometimes, this place reminds me of a scene from A Wrinkle in Time, where upon arriving on a new planet, Meg and Charles notice that each is  identical and that in each driveway is an identically dressed child bouncing a ball to the same rhythm. Each Korean snowman probably DOES have exactly two balls and is topped off with the same, Lottemart bought, black hat.

My snowman, however, is American. In the face of a challenge, my husband and I rose above by putting our American ingenuity to use.

We thought creatively.
We overcame.
We built a snowman, despite all odds.
You, Mr. Korean Snowman, would have given up when you realized you couldn't make proper snowballs or didn't have the requisite black hat.
But not us, the Americans. We thought for ourselves. And we persevered. Long live American ingenuity!
Meet Gene. He's visiting from America.
01 02 12

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Where I'm From

I am from cheese biscuits, from sweet tea and fried okra.

I am from the yellow house in the country and the brick one uptown.

I am from the snow white cotton fields, magnolias that reach sky high and the shimmering sea.

I am from eating fried chicken on Huntington Beach and shooting fireworks on Chrismas Eve.

I am from brown hair and brown eyes with tan skin, from Watson and Beasley and McLendon. .

I am from the gardeners and hunters and the hardheads.

I am from eating wooden doughnuts, stray cat parades and Princess Rachel bedtime stories.

From turning into pumpkins at midnight and lizardman lore.

I am from Baptist potlucks and Sunday School.
From meat and threes. From half a hots. From boiled peanuts and low country boil.

I’m from the Seminoles and the Scottish, red foxes and red devils.

I am from blackeye peas, fat back and nanner pudding.

From the house that was hit by fireworks, endless knock knock jokes and the grandmother who calls her granddaughter Lasagna.

I am from the little city with the big heart, the land of smiling faces and beautiful places, the school of hard work pays off and the mantra, “I think I can , I think I can, I think I can.”

01 02 12

Friday, December 5, 2014

Top Gift Picks (That Won't Break the Bank)

It seems that everybody whose somebody these days is putting out a gift guide. So here's my list of gifts I think you'd enjoy giving and receiving this holiday season.

Wrapped Gift

For the Booklover:

This handmade bookmark makes a sweet stocking stuffer:

Unique Bookmark for Booklovers/Bedtime Stories/Diary/Bookworms/Fairytales/Thrillers/ Sci-Fi/ Romance. Ideal stocking filler for Christmas

Frostbeard, an etsy shop, sells candles scented in a variety of book related scents. I'm pining after "The Shire" and "Sassenach", from two of my favorite book series.  They also sell scents like bookstore and trashy romance.

I'm also excited to try Paddywax's collection of literary candles. They created scents based around authors. I'm especially interested in the Mark Twain candle.

For the Cupcake Lover:

These vintage inspired cupcake earrings were my one of my birthday gifts this year. I can't wait for them to come! I'd been admiring them for some time. There are matching rings and necklaces available as well!

Pink Cupcake earrings - Cupcake Party favor - Cute jewelry  (E019)

I've also been craving this cute cupcake pan necklace:

For the Foodie:

I follow Lisa Leake's website, 100 Days of Real Food , and I can't wait to get my hands on her cookbook.

This is a great gift for the cook who likes to party! Great for serving foods that need to be shelled or pitted before eaten. They can also be used separately.

I love this brownie brittle. The chocolate chip is my favorite but they make a few other flavors.

For the Fashionista :

These pink and white earrings are currently on sale and come with free worldwide shipping for the season!

White tulip and pink earrings - Flower jewelry  - Bloom Collection by BeautySpot (E138)

What better way to stay warm and stylish this winter than with these super soft boot cuffs or lacy infinity scarf in your choice of color?

Cream Boot Cuffs

Lacy Infinity Scarf

This simple gold leaves necklace would make a stunning gift without breaking the bank!

Gold Leaves Necklace, Tiny Triple Gold Leaves

For Your Man:

I think my husband would like these next two items for his mancave.

Who doesn't love bacon?

Or beer?
Pillow-Periodic Table Element  Beer Embroidered- black cotton and white felt

If your man likes to smell good I'd try this apple jack scented bar soap. for a stocking stuffer. This shop has a variety of scents so click around!

Apple Jack Handmade Cold Process Soap

What's on your wish list this year? What gifts do you love to give?

*All recommendations are my 100% honest opinion. I am not compensated for any of the etsy links. If you click through and purchase from an Amazon link then I may receive a small commission.

**Inspired by Mama Kat 01 02 12

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What's for Lunch?

Because of our schedules (we both work 2pm-9/10pm) I usually cook us a hot lunch and then we take sandwiches or leftovers for supper.

We went shopping at HomePlus today. It's a British owned store and we can usually find a good bit of western groceries. It's a little further away and a bit pricier as well so we try to only go every 2-3 months.

Here's what we've got coming up over the next two weeks:

Sunday- Duck, Mashed Potatoes and Beans
Monday- Chicken Curry Rice with Mandu
Tuesday- Tuna Noodle Casserole
Wednesday Smothered Chicken and Gravy with Potatoes
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Ham Steaks, Broccoli and Potato Wedges
Saturday- Breakfast (lunch )Leftovers or Out (dinner)

Sunday- Spicy Pork Stir-fry with  Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes
Monday- Samgypsal and Mandu
Tuesday - Beef Chili
Wednesday- Beef Roast/Steak with Potato Wedges
Thursday- Leftovers

Hopefully I can squeeze in one more meal of leftovers as I won't be shopping until 9:30pm Friday night! Or Maybe we'll have another breakfast. 01 02 12

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ramblings From A Peson Locked in a Hospital

Yesterday I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. I'm having a ball, let me tell you.

I turned off the heat in my room because it was smoking hot and now every nurse asks me if I'm cold.

They have communal shower shoes....doesn't that defeat the purpose of shower shoes?

Mike had to run out and get soap for my bathroom.

Today I had to go down to the 2nd floor for a CT scan. As I'm slipping on my sneakers the nurse freaks out and insists I wear the shower shoes. Never mind that they are made for Bigfoot and I have the feet of Thumbelina. And I lose a shoe before we're even out of the room and trip over them again in the hallway. Yeah, these are definitely safer.

More later, I'm sure.

Oh, and they woke me up before sunrise to get my IV started for the day. I was thrilled. Still am, can't you tell? 01 02 12

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Korean House Warming Party

I teach a group of women on Wednesday nights. One of the class members recently moved to a new apartment so last night we held our class there as sort of a housewarming party.

I entered the apartment to a chorus of welcomes and a strange whacking noise.

I peered around the refrigerator to find one of my students whacking away at a live octopus.


"Come here. Come look", she beckoned me. Another octopus sat in a Styrofoam cooler filled with water. She picked it up, straightened it's tentacles and studied my face as I watched the tentacles dance.

The table was set with fried chicken, bread, shrimp, salad, Korean "cookies" and octopus three ways. We could choose from boiled octopus head, boiled tentacles or raw, still squirming bits and bobs of octopus. Having had my fill of octopus many years ago, during my first trip to Korea, I focused this time on the chicken, shrimp and salad. Both were delicious.

However, everyone was extremely worried about me going hungry since I was not partaking in the octopus.  After I explained my issue with the texture, one of my students said , "That's okay. Just pretend it's gum that is very good for your health. Chew it and just think 'good for my health, good for my health'" .

Stylized Animals  3
We ate and chatted...mostly about the new apartment and out host's endeavor to sew curtains and an air conditioner cover.  What's this you ask?

Most of Korea doesn't have central air so home owners and renters but these huge standing air units. Our hosts came in a bright purple and occupied the corner opposite the big screen TV.

Overall we had a good night and laughed a lot during our study (as usual). 01 02 12

Monday, November 3, 2014


Okay, I don't think persimmons are eww.

I just think they taste like nothing.

If you know me, then you know I'm a flavor gal. If I'm going to eat something I want it to have lots of flavor. My favorite cake is lemon with chocolate frosting and blueberry filling. Lots of flavor going on in that one. Are you catching a ride on the flavor train?

So, when my sweet neighbor presented me with a bag of 10 persimmons I freaked. And by freaked, I mean I went on a pinterest and googling safari.

And I found many good looking recipes for jams and fruit butter but all of them required the persimmons be pureed, and I don't know if you've seen my kitchen, but that's not happening in here.

Anyway, I finally stumbled upon this delicious sounding recipe from Cook Play Explore.

So, I adapted it to fit my current living situation. Here we go:

8 persimmons, peeled and chopped
8 tablespoons water, divided
4 tablespoons honey
2 capfulls of orange juice
about 2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons flour

Combine  persimmons, 4 tablespoons water, honey, and orange juice in a saucepan and  bring to a boil over medium heat (for 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, add cinnamon, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine flour and remaining four tablespoons of water. Add to fruit in pan and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and cool before storing.

I let mine sit in the fridge overnight. Then, I mixed it with my plain yogurt. It was scrumdiddlyumptious! 

What do you do with your persimmons?

01 02 12

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Menu Monday

Hey y'all! What's on your menu for this week?

Here's mine:

Monday- Leftovers

Tuesday- Smothered Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday- Out

Thursday- Bulgolgi Pork Chops with Mandu

Friday- Spicy Pork Stir-fry with Sweet Potatoes

Saturday- Sausages with Potatoes and Beans

Sunday- Chopped Pork and Broccoli Stir-fry with Rice
01 02 12

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meal Plan Monday

What are you planning for dinner this week?

Here's what we've got coming up on the menu this week.

Monday- Hawaiian Chicken

Tuesday- Marinated Pork and Onions with Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday- Chicken Galbi and Mandu (dumplings)

Thursday: Beef with Mashed Potatoes

Friday: Leftovers

We've recently introduced sweet potatoes into our diets as they are very popular here. We'd both had them in sweet potato casserole before and we didn't like them. Here, we tried them grilled and in curry and liked them. If you have any recipes for sweet potatoes that aren't a sweet casserole I'd love to see them! We're always on the lookout for new things to try. 01 02 12

Friday, October 17, 2014

Moving to Mokpo: Another Example of God's Grace

We recently relocated to Mokpo. It is a much smaller city than where we were before. There are a lot more parks and places to enjoy nature. There's a hill by our apartment with a nature trail as well as plenty of bike paths and places to explore. I really like it here.                           

Getting here was a bit of a different story. About a week in advance we bought bus tickets for a 3 hour bus ride.

When we brought our suitcases down from our third floor apartment, we realized that an apartment on the second floor was flooding with sewage. It was cascading down the stairs!

We had to physically carry the suitcases down the stairs and try to avoid the sewage waterfall.  Yuck!

We had a lot of suitcases and a small cooler with perishables so we had to take two taxis. My husband took 2 suitcases and I took the other 5. We showed our taxi driver the bus tickets, which say the name of the terminal at the top and repeated the phrase "We want to go to the bus terminal" that we studied. My taxi driver nodded, and repeated bus terminal-ok.

So, we take off. And my taxi takes me to the train station and keeps repeating bus terminal and insisting we are there.  Fortunately, I know that we are only about 10 blocks from the bus terminal so I give him the last of my cash. Unfortunately, I have 5 huge suitcases to take with me.

I started praying. I knew we had an hour before our bus left. Surely, I could make it in an hour. So, I started walking.  And kept praying. I walked with 2 suitcases until I could just barely see the others, went back for them and kept repeating the process.

2 construction workers stopped and asked me in perfect English if they could help me. They carried my suitcases about 3-4 blocks, to a major intersection.

I started wheeling two bags across the intersection when a random German man and his Korean girlfriend appeared. They each wheeled a suitcase across with me. That left one suitcase on the other side of the street. As I stood watching it a small group of school children appeared.

"Is this yours?" They yelled across the lanes of traffic. I shouted back that it was and they formed a little ring around my suitcase. When they light changed they took off running and met me in the middle of the large intersection.

I crossed another small street. I could see the bus terminal and I could see my husband frantically pacing around. I knew he was worried. We don't have cell phones here so he couldn't call to check on me.

I screamed and hollered his name. I jumped up and down. I waved my arms.


So, I started walking, still about 4 blocks away. After 1 trip with the suitcases I shouted his name again. Nothing. And then the idea came to me.

And so I shouted my name.

Instantly he turned and saw me at the top of the hill. He came and we carried the suitcases down together. We still had 25-30 minutes before our bus left.


So, long story short, we are here and happy to be here.

Here are some pictures of our new place:

our apartment...we've since upgraded to a full size fridge and a trundle bed

 the park a few blocks away

the view from the top of the hill
hiking a small mountain

out and about
01 02 12