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 then...to 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"