Monday, 13 October 2014

If you fall, dust it off.

If you fall, dust it off

October 13, 2014
In January when I went on this epic date, I promised myself 11 dates this year. As you may have noticed, I've only had two others: One in March that included a date at the cinema and one small one in my town in May. I wish I had a valid excuse for not having any since then but I don't. To be honest, I've been busy living my everyday life and trying to stay ahead of the game for my classes. Also, I just forgot. I did think of doing one when  I was home in August but despite half my family not knowing that I was coming I ended up being busy nearly every single day (more on that and Japan later!). Well, this last week, Wednesday and Thursday in fact, I finally took some time for myself. It was so hard to do so this time, too! I made my decision on Monday that I'd have the date starting with my Yoga class on Wednesday and I'd continue until 5pm or so on Thursday as it was a day off. While this was a sound plan the amount of invites to hang out with friends was sorely tempting especially as they were going to the pub, on hikes and to see baseball games (which seemingly is quite a treat here!). Instead, I somehow resisted. It must have been my amazing willpower and the bottle of wine in my fridge because I don't know how I managed that!
So it started with Yoga under the tunnel at the lake park with a very beautiful Lunar Eclipse in the background. After buying some essentials in the local mart, I poured myself a nice large glass of wine and made dinner. I decided to do a cozy night in watching a movie. I really wanted to watch something with a Hallowe'en theme but I'm already committed to watching Hocus Pocus with some friends and netflix didn't have Hallowe'en town. So, instead, I settled down with a warm quinoa salad, some more wine and the hilarity that is Overboard. Seriously, if you haven't seen this Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn movie, stop what you are doing right now and watch it!  Once the movie, a good chunk of ice-cream and about three biscuits were eaten, I headed to bed. I wanted to get up early-ish to go on a bike ride which was my challenge for this date.
Nina and I went for a cycle
Nina and I went for a cycle
A bike ride was my challenge? Well, yes! You see, I bought a bike from my friend, Liz, when she left Korea. I've had it out once on a Saturday and I was really, really wibbly-wobbly on it. I've avoided taking it out since then because I am so nervous. I don't know why it happened because when I was a kid I loved cycling and while I wasn't a wheelie person, I didn't have this weird fear of falling (which is a genuine fear as I've problems braking so when I need to stop I fall off. STOP LAUGHING NOW! I MEAN IT, STOP LAUGHING!). So, I got up, did my dishes and a load of laundry (I know these aren't things you do on a date but consider it my preparation for bringing myself home. Ok now, I sound weird!). So, off I went. I started off great. That is until I saw this couple coming towards me and behind them I could see another couple heading the same direction I was going in. The first couple were a piece of cake...obviously as they could see me and moved out of the way. So, I rang the bell, the grandmother looked back, saw me and moved out of the way whilst saying something to her husband, who instead of staying where he was, moved into my side of the trail. I rang the bell again, and once more they swapped places. At this stage I was almost upon them so I rang the bell again. They stopped moving and I braked so suddenly that I fell slightly before catching myself. My heart was pounding and I was trying not to be a complete eeijet in front of them. I failed miserably as the old lady kept asking me questions and the old man kept looking at me as if I were the biggest idiot he ever saw. After about 30 seconds to one minute of absolute panic, I managed to whimper out (in English). "I'm okay!" and hop back on the bike and cycle on for the rest of my journey (around 4.5k!). I met them on the way back but except for a slight nod of recognition no more encounters were had! PHEW! In other biking news - and this is a big one, guys, I managed to traverse the stiles in the middle of the biking path - even the ones that my brain tells me are too slim for a bike to get through! Making progress! 
A wee bit of make-up, heels and a dress, i look halfway decent!
A wee bit of make-up, heels and a dress, i look halfway decent!
I bought this present for my self - amazing scent!
I bought this present for myself - amazing scent!
So while this was not the most successful date of my life, at least I accomplished my goal to get back out there and get on my bike and I'm incredibly proud of myself for getting back on it despite that little incident with the old couple. The rest of the date was spent reading outside Plan B Coffee Shop and in the local gimbap restaurant. I read part of a Jeffrey Deaver and started and completed the amazing wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson which is a novel about a girl who is anorexic. I found it fascinating and a great insight into how someone with this disease behaves. As someone who loves food it is really hard for me to understand this perspective. But, as someone who loves food, it's also easy in some ways to realise how quickly it can become an obsession. I work really hard to be healthy and I'm constantly battling with myself to not eat that biscuit or to avoid the snack aisles in the supermarket because, boy, do I have a weakness. My weakness has not spilled into as disease as, even though I am overweight, I'm not morbidly so, thank God. But for me everytime I eat something I know I shouldn't I beat myself up about it. So, while I find it hard to understand basically starving yourself, I can sympathise with the sentiments behind it because we are constantly told how we need to look/should look/have to look. It's horrid and it's no wonder this disease is so prevalent especially amongst teenagers. 
Once I finished that book, I decided to take some time to reflect at home. I lay on my bed thinking about this issue and at some point I fell asleep. I woke up to find myself under the covers. I guess I was tired! So yes, not the most successful date!
However, I really enjoyed this date and it gave me a lot of food for thought: If  I want to reflect on the serious aspects of life, I can not do it lying down - I need to sit up and think on it properly; bike riding, whilst fun, needs to happen more often so that I can completely enjoy it; and wine, good food and a great rom-com should probably be watched at END of the date and not the beginning!
You might think I'm mad but I will try and complete the remaining 7 dates before the 1st of January. I'm not promising anything but I will TRY and do it! Again, I'd appreciate suggestions for ways to challenge myself. However, I have picked the next one - to go to a cafe/restaurant alone with no phone, no camera, no book, no notebook. Nothing to distract me but my thoughts!
PS the title of this post was inspired by my wee incident and Beyonce's "Just Stand Up"

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

But I would walk (not) 500 miles

Since deciding to do the Camino, I've been trying to make some small changes in my life that will make life on the road for 6-8 weeks so much easier!
Firstly, I have started the walking, duh! And secondly, I've been trying to go to bed at 10.30 latest and get up at 6.00 every morning, Monday to Friday. The 6.00am wake up has been surprising successful. My key to success - arrange a skype call! Seriously! On Monday, I was supposed to call my sister - it didn't happen as she ended up not being free but I got up at 5.40, showered and was ready for her call at 6.00 on the dot! On Thursday, I did the same thing and got to have a lovely chat with Katetastic who is back in America. I miss her a lot. So if there is anyone out there who wants a Skype call in the afternoon/evening - let's do it!
I've also started eating porridge, ugh! (Shivers with disgust and fear). I still think it the mankiest food but it's heart-healthy and a good option for additional fuel to wake me up in the mornings.  What else have I done? Oh yea, I've read, made a cake,  did dishes and laundry, and generally cleaned my house. So, while my brain is still objecting to the earlier bed time, the earlier mornings are working out just fine! 
Lastly, a small update on this last weekend - I went to Chuncheon for the Dakgalbi festival. While the Dakgalbi was delicious and the company outstanding, I wasn't much impressed with the festival itself. My friends and I then had Uno's pizza at Yongsan station and while they made their way back to Jochi-land, I got ready for a great night out. I met up with my friends Conor and Oisin from Ireland and we went to this amazing bar in Jogno tower. It's definitely a place to go AFTER you've been paid as it was quite expensive. However, the atmosphere was lovely, the live music excellent and the views beautiful, particularly from the bathroom. I went in just to take photos. We then repaired to Hongdae where we went out dancing at FF's. A great night to be sure! (go here to see more photos: - just click on the photo and it will take you through a small gallery)
Thursday Sept 18
I went for a walk (distance) and then hopped over to my friend Becky's once I made the topping for my Vegan Apple Chia Pudding. After a lovely time hanging out and chatting about what we were going to cook on Sunday, I hastened over to meet my friend, Adam, for a cup of tea and to discuss the logo for my cooking blog. Exciting stuff, mates! Success
Friday Sept 19th
Today was quite easy - after I got home I read some of Deeds of the Disturber  and then got ready to join some of the newbies for a dinner in a great local restaurant that I haven't been to in over a year. Afterwards, I joined everyone in the park for a drink before heading home to bed as I was up early on Saturday to meet some friends for lunch at Braai Republic followed by dessert and drinkies for my friend Luke 2.0's birthday. Success
Monday Sept 22nd. No time for walking today! Instead when I got home I started cooking for a dinner to celebrate Frodo and Bilbo's birthday. Only one friend was able to come in the end but we'd mushrooms and pork, vegan apple chia pudding (again!) and I made roast potatoes. Nommers! Afterwards, I joined some friends in the park for a chat and made plans for the upcoming weekend. Success
Tuesday Sept 23rd 
Immediately after work, my friend Nari and I went for a walk around Sejong Lake Park. We then went to dinner at Mekong Thai. When I got home I was shattered but I'd games to prepare for my 5th and 6th graders so I'd to stay up! Success
Wednesday Sept 24th
After dinner, my friend Stacy and I went for a long walk, then it Dr Who time until bed and I also coloured in a little of my super secret art project. Success
Thursday September 25th
Great day altogether. My last class of the day was cancelled for a performance in the gym - there was traditional singing, drums and dancing.  In the afternoon we finished school early and went to see a play about a boy whose parents have died and he goes to live with his grandad. It was quite funny and although I couldn't understand everything that was said, I still was able to follow along.
We then went to a military base (Korean) to have dinner which was fabulous! When I got home it was time for Wine and Crafts and I continued working on my engraving. I don't have a picture yet but will take on soon so you can see it! It's slow going though!  Success
So, I think overall this week was a bit more productive than last but work still needs to be done! 
PS This post was inspired by The Proclaimers "I'm gonna be (500 miles)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Another one gone, and another one gone, Another one bites the dust.

Another week of ups and downs! However, the main difference, as I am sure you will notice, is how often I am getting out for a walk the last few weeks as opposed to before.  Beyond the obvious health benefits that walking has, the main reason I am doing this is as follows: On Monday we received a letter from the Education Office asking if I'd be staying another year. The answer was no as I've decided to go off on new adventures. I am walking more frequently as my big adventure when I finish here will be to do the Camino. I am hoping to do it for around 6 weeks so I am preparing myself at the moment. The goal until the end of September is to walk around 2-miles at least 3 times a week and hopefully by the end of October that will be every day. 
Getting out for the walk has curtailed some other elements of my free "hour". I've been doing some experimentation with cooking and I really need to finish my art project. But if you are interested, read on!
Thursday, September 11th
Immediately after work I ran to Daiso and got some messages - a candle and a mop as I've lost the bottom to my other one. When I got home, after a quick chamchi gimbap (chamchi means tuna), I proceeded out on my two-mile walk. On returning home, I made dinner, watched some Dr Who (I think), paid my bills and met Liz for a hot chocolate at Rosetta. I also ran over my lesson plans before going to bed Thursday = Success
Friday, September 12th
After work, I met up with Liz for dinner - we had Shabu Shabu and then we repaired to her house to watch our friends (and me, too!) claim different items. We ended up going for deep-fried ice-cream with our friend Simone before heading home. Friday = Success
Monday, September 15th 
When I got home, I stopped for Chamchi gimbap again, did my walk (I walked a little further than 2 miles). I'd rooted through my freezer on Sunday so I used up my leftovers to make a chickpea and spinach pasta dish. When I was finished I worked on this blog and my cooking blog, reviewed my notes for my classes on Tuesday and my open class on Wednesday, readThe last camel died at noon, did the dishes and picked up some of the floor and went to bed later than I wanted. Gah! Monday = Success
Tuesday, September 16th
I really wanted this day to be an art day but I had dishes, clothes sorting and general tidying to do. In case you're wondering why it takes me so long to clean such a small space - I get distracted - TV, books, my phone, the shadows on the walls. Basically, anything. I did progress much further than I had to this point! So yay. However, I also got completely distracted by "Words with Friends" and looking at recipes. So Tuesday = Success (and some failure due to the aforementioned game!)
Wednesday, September  17th
Normally on Wednesdays I should be going to Yoga since it has started back up but I'd open class today so I was in need of a break! When I got home I bought a caprese sandwich from Paris Baguette and ate it as soon as I got home. I then followed it up with some more freezer raiding leftovers! I watched TV while I cleaned and my friend Ashley came over for tea and a chat. We then met up with another friend and went for a nice walk - it was over an hour and I think a little less than 4km. Wednesday = Semi Success
So you might think I'm mad but I have to admit part of me wanted to lie and describe some amazingly exciting things for you...or even just to say I finally got to that art project as well a special project I am working on for school. I obviously didn't lie but as I look over my week it's been walk/read/eat/walk/read/eat ..blah di blah di blah. I will really and truly try and be more productive next week, so bear with me! 
PS this post's title was inspired by Queen's "Another one bites the dust."

Monday, 15 September 2014

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!

And here we go again.
First up, a warning - I was sick - again! I really can't seem to get a break, healthwise. I wasn't very productive for part of the week and also, it was goodbye time as a few friends were leaving. Anyway, here is my rundown:
Friday, August 29th
Becky and I had dinner together around 7.30. Before that when I got home I did some cleaning. Tried to call my family on Skype with no success and watched Dr. Who. After dinner though, I headed out to one of the local bars around 8 or 9 for drinks with friends and rolled home a little after one. Tipple of choice? Kahlua and milk. Friday = Success and Failure
Monday, September 1st
Ok, I am ashamed of this day. I was off but I didn't do anything except meet Katetastic for lunch and hang out as it was her last day. I did some dishes and cleaned a little but I mostly watched Dr Who and coughed. Yep, still sick. So, yes, basically had Katetastic not been around I would have been a complete loser. Monday = Failure
Tuesday, September 2nd 
A good day! I was meeting my friend, Liz, at 6.30 so when I got in there wasn't much more time then to run out and eat. After dinner we had delicious tea at Plan B and when I got home I did the dishes and cleaned. I think I watched 10 to 20 minutes of Bones, finished some games for lessons the next day and went to bed. Tuesday = Success. 
Wednesday, September 3rd
Oh, so proud of this day! When I got home I had about an hour and a half until I would meet my friend, Swaglu to go to dinner. I went for a 2 mile walk, and shaved off around a minute of my time!! I then, got home, changed clothes and walked downtown to eat with an old co-teacher. We then went to Rosetta and chatted until 9.30. When I got home the only English program on that I was interested in watching was Dr. Who (Bates Motel, ugh!) so I had that on in the background while I got some serious cleaning and laundry done. Yes, I was actually productive! I went to bed nearer 11 than I wanted so I was too tired on Thursday to get up and go on a cycle. Fingers crossed for Friday or Saturday. Wednesday = Success
Thursday, September 4th
Another day to be proud of! When I got home I went on a 2 mile walk, started making an ice-cream cake (recipe here) and then met my friend, Lindsey for Shabu-Shabu. It was in a different restaurant than we usually go to but it was still good. I continued making the ice-cream cake until way past my bedtime and it still wasn't done! In between I did some lesson planning and watching Dr WhoThursday = Success
Well, I may not have gotten up to do a bike ride but I was fairly productive this week! So you might think I'm mad, considering I'm not a morning person, but I am going to persevere and try and get up early next week at least one day for a bike ride! I'm off to Japan for Chuseok so this will probably be published late but it will be published!
PS - the post is inspired by my new bike and the fact that I've yet to take it out, and Queen's "Bicycle Race". 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Are you sleeping

And on to week three! Wow time flies!  I can't believe this is my third week on this exercise. As you will read below things weren't plain sailing this week:
Friday, July 11th: This was a fantastic evening! Katetastic and I finally had our mushroom and wine night. We ended up out at the local Ministop (which is a convenience store) with some other friends drinking more drinks. Then into the pub for even more in an evening that culminated in Tequila shots. All in all, a great evening. Friday = Success 
Monday, July 14th: I wanted to finish reading my Mistborn book (I was reading Well of Ascension), so I stopped at a local coffee shop, had an iced chocolate drink and read until dinner time when I joined Swaglu, Katetastic one of Swaglu's friends who is visiting from the USA. Afterwards, Katetastic and I sat on the park swings and chatted. As we sat there slowly but surely quite a bit of Jochiwon joined us. I ended up getting a tummy ache so around 9 or 9.30 I abandoned the gathering crowd and instead headed home to sleep. Monday = Success
Tuesday, July 15th: Well, what was a tummy ache has turned into something else and I was dying all day in work. A wee headache, scratchy throat, upset tummy. I got a lift as far as the Office of Education so as I walked home (around 15 minutes), I stopped and bought crispy chicken. I know it's not healthy but the idea or doing anything in front of the stove just about killed me. I got home, made some tortilla wraps with the chicken and some balsamic roasted tomatoes I'd made on Sunday night. It was easy and semi-healthy. Afterwards I  fell asleep for 1.5 hours and then prepared some games and worked on my camps. I did watch TV (or had it on in the background, rather) while doing my work.  Tuesday = Success? Well, only because I was sick.
Wednesday, July 16th:  Ugh. That's all I have to say, well not literally as you can tell by the following epistle. By the time 4.30pm rolled around all I wanted was my bed. My throat was really closed up and all I had eaten to that point was saltine crackers and Chilsung cider (like 7-up). I bought meds, orange juice and a nice big new bottle of water. When I got home I decided some wallowing was in order so I turned on the TV. While it turns out I hadn't been missing much (besides CSI Miami and the movie A.I. There wasn't much on for about 30 minutes and I hate CSI Miami) until Modern Family came on which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good news, I did do half my dishes and my 30 jumping jacks for a July Challenge I'm participating in. For dinner, I ate some fairly unhealthy wraps with the remaining crispy chicken and roasted tomatoes. At 7pm tired out by these really exhausting activities (this is supposed to drip with sarcasm but as this is the internet and I'm not a very sarcastic person, that intent might be lost in translation), I fell asleep and slept relatively soundly until around 6.45am on Thursday. Wednesday = Not a success
Thursday, July 17th:  I bought baguette and some ham, did the balsamic roasted tomatoes again and made a sandwich. I worked on my blogs, did the dishes and packed for the culture trip I was on for Friday and Saturday. And bed. Oh yea, still sick!
Well, I may not have watched much TV but the week was a disaster - no personal growth at all and all projects went to hell.
Oh well, you might think I'm mad but I hope to remain encouraged for next week!
PS The title of this post was inspired by that French children's song that I learnt as a child "Frère Jacques"

Friday, 11 July 2014

Learning how to dance the rain.

A little late, but firstly: Happy 4th July to everyone! My Mam's American so we have sporadically celebrated over the years. I don't remember celebrating as much when we were younger but in recent years we'd at least have some cake! Since coming to Korea, my first 4th of July was negligible - I don't remember doing anything special. Last year my friend, Swaglu, hosted a lovely party with hot dogs, soju drinking games and plenty of chat! This year a few of us shared pizzas, fried chicken and pasta salad on the rooftop of Swaglu's building. It was low key but we did sing the national anthem and some crazy people said the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag cake.

So how did I do this week on having no TV during the first hour home? Well, I got lucky the first two days and the others, well judge for yourself:

Friday, July 4th: Came home, cleaned and then roasted tomatoes and sausages for a 4th July inspired dish, When I wasn't cleaning I just sat and breathed! It was a very busy but also relaxing hour. I then proceeded to eat eat pizza and crispy chicken with some friends until the late evening. Friday = Success.
Red, white and blue warm salad. My contribution for the Fourth of July. The recipe will be on my blog eventually!
Red, white and blue warm salad. My contribution for the Fourth of July. The recipe will be on my blog eventually!
Monday, July 7th: When I got home, I heated up some Sunday dinner leftovers (pot roast!) and started reading Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, which was a Christmas gift from my sister for Kriskindle. It's really interesting but after about 10 pages, exhaustion had set in and Ifell asleep for around an hour and a half. Told you I lucked out! Monday = Lucky Success.
It's more than it looks like! That's part of what I feed my co-teachers! I just had the tiniest amount of that for dinner the next day!
It's more than it looks like! That's part of what I feed my co-teachers! I just had the tiniest amount of that for dinner the next day!
The wee glimpse!
The wee glimpse!
Tuesday, July 8th: When I got back to Jochiwon I went in search of some cardamom to make spiced tea. Sadly, Asia Mart didn't have any. So, instead I drowned (ate?) my sorrows with Katetastic at Misoya eating delicious food. When I got home I spent 30 or so minutes working on a drawing on the rooftop. It then started to rain so I went downstairs to finish it off. At the moment the drawing is a secret gift for someone special so I can't show you all of if, but here is a wee glimpse to the right: 

I then was overcome by exhaustion (see below as to why) that I went straight to sleep. I didn't even put on pj's, I just opened the windows and turned on the fan. (Note, in the morning I woke up shivering and discovered I was so cold because I forgot to turn off the a/c! Agghhh dreading that electricity bill!). Tuesday = Success.

Wednesday, July 9th: I was actually really good and got off near the Sejong Office of Education and walked home. It was really muggy and by the time I got to the lovely Liz's place to borrow some cardamom in exchange for some tea (it's that good, peeps, check out the recipe here), I was hot, sweaty and gross. When I got home, I stopped in to buy water and got an ice-cream. Man, was it delicious. I sat outside cooling off in front of my apartment and when I was ready, I went upstairs. I then made the tea and sorted some laundry to wash. I have run out of summer clothes so it was in dire need of being done! Have I mentioned before how much I HATE laundry? If not, well, now you know! While the laundry was washing, I ate chia pudding and a couple of bananas for dinner, worked on a new post for The Sejong Dish and did photo editing for this post and my post on my cooking blog. Wooo! Productive! And after that followed it up with Book Club (my choice - Waris Dirie) and a very important chat with my sister and niece (ok her chats were all giggles and coos, but still really important!). In the end only 20 minutes of TV watching - thankfully I'd already seen the episode of Criminal Minds and the hotness of Jonathan Rhys Meyers aside The Tudors isn't up my alley. Wednesday = Success.
Thursday, July 10th
Baduk - a traditional game
Baduk - a traditional game
Another busy day! As Katetastic and I are are making stuffed mushrooms anddrinking wine tomorrow, I'd to go to Homeplus on the way home for the ingredients. After dropping my things off, I went to Plan B to play Baduk with another friend who is teaching me the game. That was followed up by a Fried Chicken dinner for our Chicken Strutposts on the Sejong Dish. When I got home I baked some brownies for my students and tidied my house, so there was no TV at all. Oh, the brownies? Yeah. Forgot I didn't need to preheat the oven as it's just a toaster one - they were burned and tasted more like a (dried-out) cookie. We'll still eat it! Thursday = Success.

So you might think I'm mad to have let naps become part of my hour but as the weather gets more humid I'm having a much harder time sleeping. This, coupled with nightmares and already terrible sleeping habits, has kept me fairly sleepless over the last couple of weeks. Nightmares? Yes, here I am a mature 31 year old having nightmares! What about? Being late for school, realising that I am then in the wrong school with the wrong lessons planned and having brought the wrong books. It's awful. It's been happening every night for the last week. It also panics me into waking early and then not being able to fall back asleep. Gah!

I have to say, sleep aside, I am really enjoying this exercise in self-control and the eclectic tasks are keeping me entertained! I may not be "learning how to dance the rain" but I am definitely learning how to live life a little more fully. I guess in a way these hours are starting to become the my "mini-dates" which is good because I am no way near to making 12 dates with my self this year! I've only had two more since that first one!

This post is inspired by Take That's "The Flood" (featuring Robbie Williams) and my efforts to have less TV in my life.

Friday, 4 July 2014

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime

So, I've been bad lately! I've let other projects take over my personal writing. This would have been okay had it only lasted a couple of weeks but it's been much longer as you, dear readers, know.

So what is it that I've been up to that caused me to slack off on something I really love? Well, I started a new blog - a cooking one back in April. I actually started working on it in January but I wasn't really happy with it for a long while, hence the launch date of April! It's taken up a lot of my time - testing, re-testing, writing, editing, publishing. I really love it though as it balances two of my favourite things - cooking and writing. I've also been busy with the SejongDish where I write another cooking blog as well as restaurant reviews and answering FAQs. Between these two writing projects my personal blog has taken a backseat. However, this post is to tell you that I am changing that.

Even though I have a few posts in the making (the long promised part 2 of my Wand'rin' Star trilogy of photo posts, to name one), I haven't been able to finish them yet. They are mostlyphoto posts and, even though some of my photos are pure awful, it's really hard to pick the best ones to showcase my town and the different areas I've visited in Korea. I will get them done at some stage - but I hope I'm not still saying that this time next year!

Anyway, I digress, the reason for this post is to share with you some changes I am making in my life. I am overweight, I am lazy and I sometimes fail miserably at eating healthily. This laziness has taken over my life and despite the other projects detailed above, the main reason I haven't written is due to this actual and very real problem. So how am I trying to tackle that problem, well read on:

Since May, I've been making and bringing my own lunches to school three times a week. I've done pretty well on those and even on my laziest days (saltine crackers and whole cherrytomatoes), I still eat plenty of vegetables. However, I've a huge sweet tooth. I've always had one but it's gotten much worse in Korea, which is odd as we definitely have better chocolate at home! I tend to have a stack of candy for my students and I often find myself munching them. Lately, I've been actively trying to make sure I don't reach for that bag as I know when I do I won't just eat one. I sometimes forget and I've stuffed 10 Hershey Kisses down my throat before I've realised what happened but mostly, I do remember and put them back.

Another change I've made which is the main one I'm going to be sharing with you, is to try and watch less television. The television itself isn't the problem, the way I watch it is. Usually, as soon as I walk in the door, the tv goes on and I flop on the bed. After an hour or so I make dinner, maybe read or do some lesson planning but usually I go back to watching tv. And, then, I bemoan the fact that the day got away from me. Really? Really? Really? Where do I think it went? Humm in a cloud of smoke known as The Good Wife or some other drama (that TV show is my latest obsession). I've tried tackling it a few times this year but I never succeeded. Recently my friend, Jamie, posted this article on Facebook and it really made me reflect on my life and my habits. So many things I love doing have been sacrified for a TV show: Going on walks, cooking (less so because of my blog but until I was working on that this was definitely true), reading, writing, drawing, hanging out, and calling home to name but a few.

Since last Friday, I try to spend the first hour home, or after work, away from the TV and watching TV on my computer and being on Facebook/Gmail etc unless it's blog related. So let's see how I did, shall we:

Friday June 27th: Ate dinner with my friend Katetastic, delicious bibimbap and kimchi. I then headed up to my rooftop armed with a water bottle, sketchbook, pencil, eraser and parer. I was up there around 20 minutes when my friend, Jules, asked me to go on a walk. I'd a Skype date lined up with my Mam for her birthday in one hour from then, but a walk sounded divine, so off we went. Friday = Success!

Monday, June 30th: I had soaked some cashews the night before and whilst at work, so I threw some small potatoes into the oven to bake and proceeded to make cashew cheese. It took me nearly the whole hour to do so as I don't own a food processer, so I'd to mash them, then mash them through a strainer and then, finally, blend them with a stick blender. It was hard work but a lot of fun, and whilst the cheese was "lacking" something I'm excited to try it again. With the time I'd left, I ate my dinner and set up for tea night. The picture below is of my cashew cheese! Monday = Success.

Tuesday, July 1st: I was really lucky today, I got out of school right on time, got a lift to the bus stop where I got a bus right away so it meant I was actually at home by 5.30. This NEVER happens for my Tuesday/Friday school, unlesss I get a (very rare) lift home. With all this extra time, I got so excited I bought an ice-cream (it was really hot) and turned my TV on as soon as I got home. I realised my mistake about 20 minutes in, turned it off, made dinner (potatoes and cashew cheese again) and then worked on 3 games for Wednesday classes to review in preparation for the exams next week. Tuesday = half Failure, half Success.

Wednesday, July 2nd: I went to Yoga after work at the Lake Park and then to eat dinner with my friend Annette (bibimbap is a necessity in my life!). I didn't actually walk in the door until after 8 (except to drop off my bags before dinner) so when I did get in, I did some dishes and turned on the TV. Wednesday = Success.

Thursday, July 3rd: I came home, realised that nearly everything in my fridge was expiring (and the spinach had expired) so cooked up an unsuccesful dish taste wise. While all the ingredients SHOULD have worked together they just didn't. Boo! In between cooking and chopping (remember I only have a one-ring stove), I cleaned my apartment in anticipation of Liz coming over to make some Nepalese Chiah (Nepalese tea). Thursday = Success.

So week 1 went well, didn't it? What I really liked was how much time an hour is. I don't think I realised how much time I have in an hour until I couldn't distract my self with TV. I have decided to try again this next week, starting with July 4th but leaving out the weekends. I liked being able to go up and draw, to get many things done all at the same time and to spend some valuable time experimenting in the kitchen. I really like the opportunities it affords.

What I didn't like was how easy it is to turn on the TV if the switches are already on. I didn't like having to clean but it IS practical to use the time. For next week, cooking included, I want to try and use this hour for projects like blogging, drawing, reading or for activities like meeting friends for tea, going for a walk, rather than any cleaning.

I don't think you will find me mad at all with this new opporunity. You only get one life to liveand we really shouldn't "blow" this one life. I can't stand, hand on heart,and not say that I am part of my problem. I need to seize the day and the responsibilty for how my actions affect my life. I figured the best way to do that is to share these little journeys with you. I want to do it for a month initially but hopefully for longer.

Until next time folks!

PS this post was inspired by Eminem's "One shot"

Friday, 27 June 2014

Home, home on the range, where the crisps and the tea are had.

So it's official, I'm staying one more year in Korea. I don't think I've ever debated more over whether or not to stay in a place as I have done for this decision. I started debating way back in September and on at least 3 occasions was convinced that I'd be having my last day on 01 June 2014. The fates have intervened though, and I'm staying one more year.  Why? Well for so many reasons;
  • I like teaching.
  • I have fantastic students (except for, you know, the troublesome few).
  • My co-teachers are amazing.
  • I have great friends, both Korean and Expat alike.
  • I love my apartment, even with all the noise.
  • I like being responsible for all my own decisions - from whether or not I just sit down and watch TV to paying bills. Whatever my decision, it's my choice and the negatives are just as much a learning experience as the positives.
  • I like branching out and seeing more of Korea and the world.
  • I like challenging myself to be better, to work harder, to write more, to read more, to go live more authentically and to make healthier choices. 
  • I want to finish my bucket list, as much as possible.
Nevertheless, staying in Korea means one more year away from home and some creature comforts. So what is it that I miss most about my beloved Ireland? Well, number one: my family. Chatting to my parents, playing board games with my siblings, walks, talks and everything else. Taking trips together. Screaming with excitment at a match, especially staying up late and watching the World Cup FinalExchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, doing so on Skype isn't half as fun! My brother's terrible stories on Christmas Eve. Easter Egg hunts, birthdays, laughter and fun. Fighting with everyone. Seeing my nephew and niece grow up. Getting to experience  and partake in their lives.
Number two, are my friends. I really miss them. I miss being able to go to Butler's in the Pavilions for a quick cuppa on the way home. I miss having board game nights and eating at Indie Spice or Acapulco. I miss walking around HESC at lunch time or those quick chats during break time. I miss the long calls to friends who don't work with me any more, drinking wine, eating cake (and cake bakes!), travelling around Ireland and abroad. I miss just hanging out. 
After that I guess everything I miss is related to Ireland itself - whether it's the food, an aspect of the culture or even the environment. To be honest, I can go a long time without a craving for anything, but sometimes, I will get one suddenly and instead of having a lovely King sandwich, I'll eat a packet of these:
Or I will find myself craving some time walking along the Howth cliff walk with a nice breeze and the smell of salty sea air with every inhale. On those days I go for a walk along the river near my house or to the lake park. They don't come close but they are nearby. 
Climbing Bray Head, Co. Wicklow. 
While I can't capture the spirit, culture or environment of Ireland, I can sometimes capture the food and drinks. I recently have spent quite a bit of time browsing online shops to see where they deliver and to get approximate costs. Sadly, a lot of them don't deliver to Korea or, if they do, the prices are prohibitive for me. So, I wait in hope...or for some kindly soul to take pity on me! Nevertheless, I've included some links below - so even if I can't enjoy the goodness of Irish food, perhaps you can.
Howth cliff walk  (Photo courtesy of my sister)
Howth cliff walk  (Photo courtesy of my sister)
The river near my apartment in Korea
The river near my apartment in Korea
  1. While I have loads of Barry's teaat the moment thanks to two trips home and a wonderful mother and aunt, I miss being able to just pop into a shop and buy a box of tea whenever I need it.  I also won't say no to a cuppa Lyons. I was recently sent a box of Barry's tea by my Mam as she'd received a box of 600 teabags! It made me wonder if it had been ordered from here! Lucky Mam and lucky me! Along with tea, obviously I miss Avonmore milk. Seriously! It has taken me ages to make the perfect cup of tea here as the milk is really different. 
  2. I miss all the cheap sweets and crisps from Meanies to Animal Bars.  I found some websites recently that deliver to Korea called PennyJellies and Irish Home Comforts, so I want to figure out a way to order these treats from there for my students. Who knows, maybe for a Hallowe'en lesson? 
  3. I miss Cheese and Onion crisps and Salt and Vinegar Crisps. Especially crisp butties! For those wondering, I'm a wee bit more partial toKing but I love my Tayto as well.
  4. I miss Kingfisher chips, and just being able to go to any chippers. Oh, and homemade chips made in the deep fat fryer on a Friday night, wrapped in delicious bread, smothered in butter. HEAVEN!
  5. While Korea has certainly improved on the cheese front as you can get a decent range of cheese from cheddar to goat's cheese in Costco, the Foreign Food Market and even, at times, in Homeplus, there is something to be said for Irish Cheese. I miss Kilmeaden, Cashel Blue and going to markets like the ones in Galway or Howth and buying homemade cheese. This hamper, while it won't deliver to me, could be bought and brought to me? Any takers? Come know you want to visit me (and Korea!)!
  6. I miss everyone saying "thank you" when they got off the bus, even if the journey has been long, annoying and uncomfortable. I also really miss saying "excuse me" whenever the chance comes along.
  7. I miss Griffith Park. I miss having such close access to green. While our garden at home is the size of a postage stamp we were always really lucky to live 10 seconds away from an amazing park. It's big, really green and has a river running through it. I miss having picnics just inside the gate or up on the hill. I miss playing football or rounders  (even though it's been years since I played), flying kites or just walking around the park. I miss having a place you can go to get out of your head and just enjoy nature.
  8. Oh, and how I miss the National Botanical Gardens! Seriously, I live in such a great neighbourhood. I am only 5 minutes away from a beautiful garden with amazing trees, gorgeous flowers, impressive glasshouses and quiet walks. There is something so peaceful about being in there. 
  9. I miss the libraries. Again, I live in a great neighbourhood and I was a stone's throw from Drumcondra, Ballymun, Phibsborough and the Ilac Centre Libraries. The amount ofbooks I would consume if I were at home! From Austen to Christie. From Tintin toNancy Drew. I've never been at a loss for a good book at home. 
  10. I miss going on day trips around Dublin and further afield. Whether it is Howth in the rain, or walking barefoot down the river in Enniskerry forest, praying that nothing slithers or runs over foot. I didn't take near enough advantage of it when I was home, and I can't. I miss being able to go to water - the sea, especially. 
  11. I miss being able to fly nearly anywhere in the world with a cheap airline (and yes, I do try to avoid Ryanair). Weekend trips and long weekends away are harder to do here - I've managed one so far, to Japan.  
So you might think I'm mad to be missing Irish food as much as I do and you might think I'm mad to miss greenery and sea air especially since we have some in Korea. But, that's one of the advantages of being Irish.  You're never far from it. Sadly, though it's not as easy to get to either for me as it was at home...well except for the local mountain. That's kind of cool...and green.
PS The title of this post was inspired by the John A Lomax version of "Home on the Range".