Samgyupsal, a casual meal

Samgyupsal is as common as eating a hamburger in the states.  Having it once a week is not uncommon.

Koreans just love a good table of grilled fatty pork and soju!  I think it's more of the atmosphere that people enjoy when a slab of fat meat is grilling in front of them.  

Had a hard day? 

Let's talk it over fatty pork and soju!

We haven't seen each other in a while!  Let's get merry w samgyupsal!

It's your bday! 

Golfing was fun! Let's go get some samgyupsal!

Samgyupsal is usually the cheaper option  compared to other meats and grills, which makes samgyupsal a big favorite for many Koreans.

Eaten for pretty much any occasion!

Bad air pollution in Seoul

It's back!!! The dreaded air pollution is back!  Everything looks gray and lifeless out there.

It's been well over a week now since I opened our windows.  Seoul is having a hit of bad airpollution right now.  There seems to be nothing stopping it either.  I wish the rain would wash it all down.

A reading of 100 or above for pm2.5 is when we take cautionary measurements.  We don't stay outside too long, we don't open our windows, and we try to eat cleaner to offset the pollution.  

We drink lots of water and try to eat as fresh as we can while limiting processed foods when pollution takes over.  It takes some discipline to be healthy here.

They say the norm level is 20 or below...Well the norm for us is around 60 in Seoul these days.  

I hope it goes away soon.


Fall is a perfect season for detoxing

I love this time of the year because root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, cabbage, and potatoes just to name a few are in season, which means they are nutritiously dense and cheap!  

I ordered sweet potatoes online(3kg) for a taster and I've already ordered a 10kg box today because I've devoured them in just a few days.  

They're so sweet!  I put them in our electric oven for 17 minutes in "bake potatoe" mode.  They become a bit charred outside and its sweetness beats eating a piece of cake!

Sweet and nutritious root vegetables are perfect substitutes for my sweet cravings.  I've been eating my share of cakes and sweet coffees lately and realized I need to cut down.  This might be tmi, but my measurement and alarm is when my throat gets mucusy, especially when I wake up with it!  It's a gross feeling.  That's my hint of, "slow down your sugar and processed food intake".  I also avoid dairy when my body gets this way.  

Today, I made a light sauté of veggies(onions, egg plant, tomatoes and 애호박) with some spices(homemade curry mix) and the baked sweet potatoe on the side for the sweetness.   

 My detox is eating whole foods and of course cutting out sugar as much as I can.  I'm not a "one-ist".  I just stick to what works for me and what makes me feel better.  Also drinking lots of water is in the agenda for me.  My skin is clearer and no more mucusy throat :)


Indoor worm composting at home - new method

I don't what it is about soil that allures me.  The need to touch and smell its aroma like coffee has become a daily necessity, like having a cup of coffee, or two or three cups of it.

But one has to be diligent to fill this need.  Living in a city, especially here in Seoul, access to soil admiration precedes with some effort.  I wish sometimes that it was as easy as driving to a secluded tree dense park with an always availability of empty benches to read with peace while the scent of trees and soil whiffs through your nose with so little effort and while being engulfed in its surrounding like a baby being cradled to sleep.  

I get that Mother Nature hit from gardening and worm-composting at home.  I think this need is innate.

Getting plants at home was mainly for health reasons and for better air quality.  We got our first tree, a weeping fig tree named, "mr tree",
5 years ago.  He survived being left along outside the house in a hurricane.  He's battled a few diseases.  He's a tough one, and he's going with us everywhere we go.  So my obsession with plants began rapidly.  Our windows and sun touched areas had to be covered with a plant.  My excuse were for better air quality, but I was finding that it's been a tipping point in paving my passion to "getting back to the land"(more on this on future posts).

I finally am getting my groove on gardening indoors, but composting has been an ongoing experiment.   I'm trying to find the non messy stinky way to compost food scraps and I think I may have found a solution!

Ill call this my pot method.

 I'm using a regular plant pot and a water dish that captures the water!  This allows water to run down and air to breathe for my worms. 

I have been flipping and moving my compost box to get the water ratio right. And this task had been putting me off on getting any bigger.  Now I can have as many pots like these and no one would know worms and food scrapes were in them!  A Perfect disguise. 

Now I can compost almost everyday!  I have about 70+ earth worms working away, so I think they're doing their job :)

I actually realized to use the water dish for my worm compost just today.  I've been using them for the bigger plants at home.  It amazes me what a little thinking can do...I could have been doing this years ago!  I'm slow learner and it takes a lot of trials to get me set into doing things right.  

I don't cover the pots, but cut up a box to roughly make a lid.  Newspapers and dried leaves are common toppers, but I don't have them as accessibly.  

I'm really excited about getting this right. In Korea, we have to throw food trash separately and it's a chore to get down your apt building every so many days to throw the almost rotting food stuff.  But if you are not as lazy as I am, you wouldn't have this problem.

I don't dig in my compost much at all now.  I add the food scraps and cover it with some soil that lying around the house (I have a bag of soil almost all the time).  I water it just enough so its wet on the top.  I cover it with the make shift lid and that's it.  And hours later I check on the water gold released from the water dish that collects it.  I water it down to my growing family of house plants.  

The pink flowering plant is one of my favorite!  

Our cats love the canopy of plants and trees that hover above them. 

At least Jack appreciates my effort and the whiff of soil is a mere addiction to an Eco-freak like me.  


Discovering a gemlike park behind mapo post office

Fall is finally here!

We took a nice long stroll in our neighborhood and discovered this park that was tucked in behind "mapo post office"(it's in renovation right now until the end of this year, it's torn down and being rebuilt). 

There's a small "farmers market" across the mapo post office and when you walk behind it, there's a long long long park...!

It's amazing what you miss right under your nose!  So happy we finally decided to walk through this market and discover this awesome park.

Unfortunately we didn't take many photos be we were so ingrained in the walk, the tress and the serene atmosphere. 

We will have to take my dslr to do its justice.  It's really so beautiful what a piece of land of trees and flowers can bring.

I can't wait to bring you more about this park!

Kimchijjigae for the soul

A proper kimchijjigae meal with a piping hot pot of it, hearty side dishes, and white glistening rice. 

Perfect when you want something sour, sweet and spicy! 

This restaurant serves a good meal of it for just 7000won.

From 최고집 in mapo station arcade under "hanhwa obelisk" building.

Library books this week: gentle barn

My library readings 

1) learned about importance of soil, no tilling, crop covering, and lettings plants grow wild.. Everything in nature serves a purpose and works together 

2) easy to read stories and advice for business and life - not just for the 20s. Titles can be misleading sometimes bc I can recommend this to all. 

3)  I enjoyed this book so much that I couldn't put it down.  There's a reason behind why people do the things they do. Her stories resonated w me.  A great book for the healers and those who want to be healed.  

Happy reading!

My favorite chocolate place

My favorite chocolate place is "Laderach" .  Pretty much everything in the store is great!  If you want chocolate cake, get it from here.  

Laderach classic dark chocolate drink, my favorite 

Choco cool mint - sweet and minty drink

In Gwanghwamun Seoul Finance Center "mall".  

Vitaheim: wake me up picker upper

Our "vitamin drink".

Our new staple in our pantry. 

It's a shot of vitamins in one fizzy orangey drink.  I get them for less than $2 online which has 10 tablets, much cheaper than the almost $2 vitamin bottle drinks in stores. 

It immediately perks you up!  I first got them from "olive young" stores.  I buy them in bulk online for a better deal :)

Love these!

Mandala drawing

I started drawing mandala this summer. 

I found interest in these while learning about how shapes and colors can change your mood and overall health balance.  

It's been therapeutic to draw these.  It's like ur brain is working to find symmetry and balance along with coordination w ur hands.  I'm not an artist therefore it was also stimulating to do something new.

There are plenty of info and tutorials online if you are interested in learning about it more.  

I love how we can learn so many things for free and w ease of access nowadays.  I have to appreciate tech advancement for the many pros that outweigh the cons .

New project - tshirt crochet rug

I have a new project for this winter.

I am ripping our old tshirts together to make this "do as u go" crochet rug.  

It's a work in progress until it gets big enough to be an actual workable rug.  I can always use extra rugs in the house.

For now it's not as big enough to fit one of our cats in - so it will wait until I can find an old tshirt to spare - which I think we have enough of hanging inside the closet.  

Winter cleaning will have to come soon!


F4 renewal procedure at Seoul Immigration Office

We finally decided on a date to go to the immigration office to renew our F4 visas.  And somehow it fell on a cool rainy day.  Nothing wrong with the rain, but you know I was just hoping it would be a nice walk to the immigration office.

Seoul Immigration Office is about 15 minutes walk from the Omokgyo (line 5, purple color) station.  I think I've been to this office 5+ times or so, but I still get jittery thinking of visiting it.  It helps having a camaraderie, or a husband in my case, to tell you that it's just another chore, procedure, duty, whatever you can call this stuff.

I've been quite lucky the first time I think I came to this one - I remember having to need some sort of paper/information and vouching it by talking him out of having me bring it in.  Those were the old days.

I think Korea has tightened its "act" a lot these days, last time I checked, you need a whole lot of new things to teach English here now, when it didn't require much except a 4 year college degree before.

So I figured I would check what we needed to renew our F4 visa just the day before our promised date.   We DO need something new that we never needed before, a LEASE (to confirm your address). 

And so today is the day, and it's raining, so we hopped into a taxi in order to stay dry for the visa renewal duty.  And out of all the days, our taxi driver is one harmless talkative ajoshi.  He asked us about who we were, why we were here, where we lived, how much our rent was, and the last 5 minutes consisted of him advising us how we should save more money (since we were a young married couple) by moving just a bit away from the center of Seoul - I knew all this talk was his way of trying to be friendly.  We nudged our heads in order to show him we were listening and throwing a few laughs and giggles at his advice and so forth.  You never know what kind of taxi driver you will get in Korea.  They seem to either be careless or too caring(in their own way).

We arrived, but since the streets were one-way streets around the immigration office, he let us out that we had to cross 2 crosswalks to get there.  I was wrong in thinking I was going to stay dry.  My holey Crocs didn't help.  My toes were soaking wet.  Oh well, at least we are here, let's get this done.

Despite how many times I've been here, I don't exactly remember what to do.  I asked the help desk lady and she told me to get up to 3rd floor to renew our F4 visas.  I would advice checking with a staff to make sure you are at the right place.

seoul immigration office F4 visa
3rd floor

seoul immigration office F4 visaThe 3rd floor was emptier than we imagined and a room we've never been before (or my memories have failed me).  It's been 3 years since I've done this  and for some reason, I felt pretty good about it seeing an emptier room.  There were only 3 people ahead of us (get a ticket number at the door).

My husband went to the 2nd floor to get the "stamps" - 60,000won for each of us while I waited for our number.   He came back with a paper receipt of some sort just in a few minutes (no longer "stamp" looking).

We waited about 15 minutes or so and our turn came!  Much faster than I expected! 

We handed our
  • passports,
  • application form (form #34),
  • stamp receipts, 
  • and our lease.

With the guy scribbling this and that on our forms, photocopying the lease, and not even checking our passports - it took about 10~15 minutes there at the desk.  He told us to sit and wait 20 minutes to get our cards back with the new expiration date.

By this time, the room was filling up and it was about 10:30am.  We got there around 10am..  Keep that in mind - the earlier the better.

About 5~10 minutes later, our cards were handed back to us with our new expiration dates stamped on our cards.  We are good for 3 more years in Korea!  Pretty easy breezy.

Done and done.  We were out of there in no time.  We decided to walk back to the subway despite the pouring rain.

We stopped by a Paris Baguette to warm ourselves up to get some breakfast and coffee  The coffee  was pretty good for 1500won and the yummies were just as good.  Freshly baked bread makes me feel like I have it all.

It has been a while since we walked and got wet in the rain.  My toes were soaking wet with the brine of whatever the street water composed of, but it felt refreshing to be "dirty".

I didn't mind much of it - especially after having to get the visa chore done!  whoohoo!

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