Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category

I Miss…

December 18, 2012

                  I miss the cute Christmas cakes you would find at the Baskin Robbins in Korea.

I miss my girls: Jennifer, Hannah and Hellena.  I don’t know how I would have survived South Korea without them.

I got my first Korean Christmas card from Choi.  He was my yoga buddy and friend.  I miss him and his adorable family too.

He even printed out his own greeting instead of the Korean greeting the card came with. 

We spent Christmas last year in Myeongdong, South Korea.  This year it will be spent with family back here in the States.  It’s good to be home and cuddling grandbabies. I’ve been baking up a storm and you can get the recipes over at my cooking blog


Tis the Season….Pooping and Farting Edition

December 12, 2012

I don’t know what it is about this 2012 Christmas season but everywhere I go, I find this.  Toys that poo.  These were in my local Joann’s.

I found this pooping penguin at Macy’s of all place.  We were in South Korea last Christmas so maybe this is nothing new to anyone else.  Poo has always been a big thing in Korea.  There are tons of children’s books on it, poo stuffed animals (I have several) and even the old Korean mayor of Suwon built a “toilet house.”  We even went to see it and you can read about it here.

So I thought this would be the perfect post to show off my farting Korean dolls.  My Korean girlfriend, Hannah bought them for me and sent them over.  I did a little video on them.
Here is the original Korean commercial on the dolls.  Tis the Season!!!

Hanging Around

November 12, 2012

I did a lot of crafting while living in South Korea and I came back with  a ton of things to put on the wall.  It included things I had made, things I had bought and gifts that were given to me.  I had my chilbo (Korean enameling) put onto a handmade frame while in Korea knowing I wanted to make a collage on one of my walls back home.  Rocketman helped me set these up.

On Sunday, I spent the afternoon working on hanji with the Hanji Crew.  I had hinted (asked) Rocketman that it would be wonderful to get everything put up on the walls while I was away. This is where I wanted my chilbo collection to go.

 He got to it while I was away and he placed these on the wall for me.  The center is a chilbo piece I did and the other two were made by my Korean bodyguard who is also an expert in wood carving.

 He also did this over the television which included the copper painting done by my friend, Metal Guy.  I made the chilbo on the left and I was gifted the chilbo on the right by a dear friend.

He even managed to place this painting that was a going away gift from his co-workers.  I forgot the guy’s name but he was a friend of Buddha.

And here is my chilbo collection.  I was so surprised at all the work Rocketman did while I was gone.  We both LOVE how everything turned out.  I think Rocketman was a little surprised at how may nails he had to put into the walls.

Korean Jeong

September 30, 2012

Korean Jeong is one of those words that is not easily translated into English.  It means so many things: love, affection, attachment, empathy…  It’s my favorite word in Korean.  I have “Jeong” necklaces available in my Etsy Shop.  I also have earrings but I need to photograph them.

I have what I feel is a good example of Korean jeong.  Hellena, my Korean girlfriend, was telling me that her boyfriend was off of work for four months.  I asked if there was a layoff and she told me that he had volunteered to be off.  I thought he was crazy until she explained why.

At his company, senior co-workers made a terrible mistake which caused the company to lose a great deal of money.  In order to weather the blow, the owners said that everyone would have to take a temporary pay cut and would also have to take time off without pay.  He had talked to Hellena about what was going on and how this was going to be really tough on his co-workers, all of whom were married and with families.

Hellena suggested that he volunteer to take the four months off (without pay) because he wasn’t married and he lived with his mother so it wouldn’t be a huge financial burden to him.  He didn’t immediately agree to doing this but with prodding from Hellena, he finally relented and let the company know he was willing do this even though the mistake was made by others.

During the four months off, he exercised a lot and lost a lot of weight.  He also spent quality time doing what he liked to do which if you know the Korean work ethic, this is nearly impossible.  When Hellena visited Korea during a layoff, I went up to Seoul and got to spend the day with him and Hellena.  Even though he wasn’t making a salary, he wouldn’t allow me to pay for a thing.  I was able to pay him back when Hellena visited us in the States and she picked out a North Face jacket.  North Face is very expensive in Korea and very desirable.

He is back at work now and I wonder what his co-workers think of what he did.  I’m sure they are very grateful.  I also wondered if that same scenario here in the States would have the same outcome.  But to me, this is a perfect example of Korean jeong and one of the millions of reasons I love Korea so.

Kim’s Oriental Market in St. Paul

September 10, 2012

I really needed to get out of a funk so I knew a trip to a Korean market would be just the thing.  Rocketman had bought me a small, college-size refrigerator so I could buy kimchi and not have it stink up the entire refrigerator.  Kim’s is not much to look at from the outside.

But inside was like I stepped back into Korea.  I opted for one of the small shopping carts instead of a basket and proceeded to fill it up.  Frozen mandu!!!  WooHoo!!!

                         And lots of choices for ramen just like my Home Plus back in Suwon.

These jars are deliciousness and are going into the new refrigerator because they smell to high heaven even though they haven’t been opened yet.

When we stayed at the Dormy while waiting for our things to arrive we ate the free breakfast that was offered by the staff.  Rocketman would always get one of these yogurt drinks and I thought to surprise him with one each day with his lunch.

                                                I couldn’t pass these up too.  I missed them both!

                           And how could I even begin to do any Korean cooking without these? 

This stuff is so good and I think it will help me get over this cold even faster.  I couldn’t stop smiling as I shopped.  The wonderful ajumma who owns the store remembered me from 2010 and was surprised to hear we had gone back to Korea. 

I came home and put everything away.  I can’t wait to make some kimchi jjigae now!!!

I Miss Dollhouse World!!

August 22, 2012

I was scheduled for one last class at Dollhouse World in Suwon and was so looking forward to it.  Unfortunity, the owner, Jung-Mi’s father-in-law had fallen gravely ill and as the wife of the eldest son, the hospital vigil fell on her shoulders.  She spent every hour of every day at the hospital keeping me informed (through my Korean girlfriend) his status and the possibility of still having my class.

But he ended up passing right before we left so I was unable to have that class.  But I did stop in one more time to pick up a few supplies.

 While her sister (who owns the coffee shop adjacent to the shop) scurried around collecting items along with some phone calls to her sister looking for things, I took some photos of all the talent.

                Then I stayed for lunch and had a bittersweet meal with her.  Her shop is so cute.

I just love this bagel sandwich of hers.  It had egg, bacon, lettuce and mayo.  Yummy.

If you every are in Suwon near Sungdae Station, stop by.  She has kits available too.  If you have two full days, have a Korean friend give her a call and see if she can schedule a class for you.  It will be one of the best things you ever did in Korea.  To get to Dollhouse World:  From Sungdae Station, walk West for a few blocks until you past a gas station.  Take a right at the next street, its’ a steep one and walk.  You will see the coffee shop and Dollhouse World on the left.  You can’t miss it, it’s the first building when you take that left.

There is a huge miniature show in Chicago every year and she would love to go.  I’m trying to convince her to go and that I would drive down and help her with the show.  I’ll let you know if she ever takes me up on it.

Garbage, It’s Serious Business in South Korea

June 5, 2012

I never knew how complicated garbage could be until we moved to South Korea back in 2007.  Korean households for the most part are comprised of apartment buildings each with their own basic rules of garbage.  In our apartment complex, garbage day was Sunday’s and Wednesday’s.  The first time we lived there containers were unlocked from 6-10pm on these days but this last time they had lightened up on the hours and all bins were open all day.

The first time we lived in Korea, there was only one bin for plastics.  This time there were many and I would always look into the sack to see what people had put in them.  Most of the time I found that each sack had similar items so it would be guessing game.  But I had a few times when an ajosshi (they seem to have one hanging around the garbage area on garbage day) would watch everything I was doing with a stern look.  I was scared to death and a few times I was yelled at.  They also kept the area really clean so I did appreciate them for doing that but not scaring the foreigner.  Some ajosshis were so nice and would take my garbage and put it into the correct bin to help me out.

 They had easily tripled their collecting bags since our first stay.  It was a bit crazy.

 The plastic bag bins filled the most quickly and these were open everyday since a lot of people kept their “wet” wastes in a plastic bag to be disposed of daily.  More on that later.

This was where the dreaded (at least to me who has a weak stomach) “wet” waste went.  “Wet” waste was anything that animals could eat so any food wastes would go into these bins which were always open and smelly especially in the summer. 

To be perfectly honest, I never ever put anything in the “wet” waste bins.  Just the few times I had seen the inside of one of those bins made the bile rise to the top of my throat.  I have a weak stomach where that kind of thing is concerned so I would just put the food waste in with our regular garbage.

These bins were for everything else (including my “wet” garbage) and you had to use special plastic bags that you had bought at your local grocery store.  I always got mine at Home Plus.  You could through these bags out anytime but I was always terrified that they would see my “wet” garbage.  It was always the longest elevator ride of my life when I had to throw those bags out.

 They also had a huge plastic bag for styrofoam.  You may wonder why there would be a lot of stryofoam but that is how a Baskins Robbin cake is packed for you so it stays cold on the trip home. 

 When we first lived in the complex, there was only one huge bag for cardboard and paper.  It had grown to three in the year we were gone.  You should see all the garbage after Chuseok.  It’s amazing!

 There was also an area where you could donated items.  I thought that was a great idea.

Finally, my favorite section was where all the furniture and large items that wouldn’t fit into one of those prepaid bags.  I got some great finds garbage picking here.  The management office would put a sticker on each item with a cost that the owner would have to pay for removal.  These things were removed once a month.

Our complex was so large that there were two garbage collection areas.  The second area I walked past everytime I went to Home Plus or yoga so I got a good look almost everyday at what people threw out.

The end of the month was the best because that was moving time.  They would discard furniture and items they didn’t want to take to the new apartment.  It was so much fun to pick through what they had left and sometimes I had fellow ajummas looking with me.  Oh, I miss those days.

I’m still trying to get Rocketman aclimated back to our neighborhood recycling rules.  He keeps forgetting we are not in Korea and our present systems only takes a few things.  He is forever putting plastic that isn’t bottles in the recycle bin when he knows they only take plastic bottles at this time.  Now, every piece of plastic he will ask me if it can be recycled to which I say “no”.  That may change someday but for now, we are way behind our Korean counterparts.

I Miss Korean Food

May 16, 2012

 I shot these photos shortly before we left South Korea.  It is from the food court at Home Plus and it just gives you an idea of all the food choices. 

These samples are made of plastic and are common in restaurant windows throughout Korea.  I’ve always thought it would be a great job to make these plastic foods.  There are always new restaurants popping up.

Around the lunch and dinner hour, you would find these cases packed with Koreans deciding on what they wanted to eat.  Many times it would be Rocketman and me trying to decide what we wanted.

Rocketman would order by number in Korean.  Most of the time he we get it right but the cashier seemed to prefer he write the numbers down on a piece of paper.  We would take our slips with our numbers on them, find a seat and wait for our numbers to appear.

The menu changes from time to time but you could always find the basics like kimchi jjigae and mandu guk.  You sure could not beat the prices.  You got a lot of food for a great price.
I also started a blog for my family recipes.  I’ve been having fun putting it together.  I hope you like it. 

Kraving Kimchi!

May 8, 2012

Yes, people, this is a poor, poor me post.  I have been without kimchi in my house for four months now.  I miss it like an old friend.  My Korean kimchi refrigerator was always full of kimchi.  There is something about Korean kimchi, it’s just not the same as U.S. kimchi.  Maybe it’s the ingredients, maybe it’s the prep, maybe it’s Lock n Lock kimchi containers that are perfect for kimchi storage. 

In Korea, I was never without kimchi.  Here is a list of all the Koreans who helped to keep my kimchi refrigerator full:

1.  Mr. Choi’s (my 76 year old yoga buddy) wife
2.  Nan Young (chilbo teacher)
3.  KJ (hanji teacher)
4.  Shim (fellow hanji student)
5.  Mi-Sun’s (our Nolboo waitress)
6.  Young-Su (friend of Nan Young who owned the restaurant next to chilbo)
7.  The owner of the miniature shop

I also know for a fact that if I was ever in need of kimchi I could count on anyone even a stranger to provide me with kimchi.  Maybe it’s not only the kimchi I am missing but Korean jeong.  Sigh.

Bojagi (Korean Quilting)

March 13, 2012

 Remember this bag of silk scraps that I got from a hanbok shop shortly before we left South Korea?

I finally opened the bag and I was shocked at how many scraps were stuffed into the bag.  It took up half of my kingsize bed.  The best part was that is was all free!  I’m so glad that I asked KJ, my bojagi teacher, if she had ever asked hanbok shops for their scrap fabric.  She had never thought to do it but I know she will be doing it now.

I also finished a triangle bojagi I started just as we were leaving.  I can’t believe how hard it was and I did a terrible job of lining up my corners.  Oh well, it wasn’t too bad for a first try. 

We are still waiting on our ocean shipment.  It’s been six weeks now and it should have arrived last week.  Rocketman is getting crabby because it’s been in the 70’s this week and all he has to wear are long-sleeved shirts.  We never thought it would be this warm so we only packed sweatshirts and sweaters.  I did finally go out today and get some short-sleeved shirts because I was roasting.

I’m really antsy too because I don’t have anything I want to work on since I have so many things coming in the ocean shipment.  Most of my craft supplies are in that shipment and I don’t want to go out and buy new.  I did break down and order some silk thread online so I could start another bojagi piece and JoAnn’s didn’t have any silk thread (at least mine didn’t).  So lets hope that shipment comes soon.