ESL & The Phonemic Alphabet

Today, while studying for my TEFL certificate, I grudgingly learned how to read this:

Really?  WHY?!

Frozen Yogurt Love

Remember when the frozen yogurt craze first began?  Pinkberry made its mark in LA. They gained thousands of groupies, demand skyrocketed and thus caused the creation of many Pinkberry-wannabes.  Of those “wannabes” was the more notable, Red Mango.  For a while there was the debate of which was better- Pinkberry or Red Mango?

However, what most people don’t know is that it has been thought that Pinkberry was actually the copycat of Red Mango, even though Pinkberry was the first to open in LA.  Both founders of both companies are Korean.

The very first Red Mango store opened in Korea in 2003.

The very first Pinkberry store opened in LA in 2005.

The first Red Mango store in the US opened in LA in 2007.

See that?  Red Mango was first.  And, being that both founders are Korean, I think it wouldn’t be surprising if the founder of Pinkberry was influenced by the already successful Red Mango.  Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that Pinkberry wasn’t actually first.  And that they are both from Korea!

Interestingly enough, even though they are from Korea, the frozen yogurt craze hasn’t hit nearly as hard as it has in the US.  I came to Korea expecting many Pinkberrys, many Red Mangos and many just like them.  In the city I live in, just outside of Seoul, there was ONE Red Mango but it disappeared 2 years ago.  You’re able to find frozen yogurt and a few cafes here and there but there hasn’t been anything like Pinkberry (various flavors, choose your toppings etc.) on the scene.

However, in the recent year or so something similar opened in Hongdae.  Snow Spoon. (above) And even more recently another location opened here in Ilsan.  And another yogurt place opened called Yogurberry. (below)  I’m so happy!  This weekend I ate at both.  Yogurberry is better in that they offer fresh fruit options whereas Snow Spoon does not.  But Snow Spoon does have awesome neon spoons.

Oh and one other fun thing about Pinkberry is that one of my favorite actors, Larry David, actually made a shout out to Pinkberry and Korea in one of my favorite shows, Curb Your Enthusiasm, season 8.  Combo of two great things!

Korean Food Pt. I

I thought I’d start a mini-series of posts dedicated to Korean food specifically.  Because when I’m not cooking, Korean food is what’s usually going in my belly.

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure to eat with my boyfriend and his mother.  We went to a Korean “fusion” restaurant.  I suppose it’s called fusion because the dishes are traditional Korean food but slightly more modern?  I’m not exactly sure.  Anyway, at this kind of restaurant you order a set menu per person.  The set menu consists of at least 15 dishes and they are all served family style.  This kind of restaurant is really great for those who want to “sample” many kinds of Korean food.  *If your an expat in Korea and have friends/family visiting, definitely consider taking them to a place like this.

They bring you soup and 3 dishes to start.  10 minutes later, another 3 dishes come out.  10 minutes later, another 3 dishes…. you get the point.  It’s ALOT of food.  By the 3rd time they clear plates and bring new ones I know we’re all thinking, “Is this the last course?”  But, of course, it’s all delicious so I always manage to stretch my stomach just a bit more.

I wish I had taken a picture of each individual dish so I could make little remarks about each one, however, since I was with my boyfriend’s mother I felt a little sheepish for whipping out my camera every moment.  But I did embarrass myself enough to snap a couple quick photos.  I tried blaming it on my blog, but I’m not sure I got my point across and probably she just thought I am weird.

Anyway, here’s (some of) the food!

The tofu and kimchi was so good!  This particular kimchi was fried and had small pieces of pork mixed in.  It’s spicy but tastes so great paired with a block of tofu.  The muk shown is a type of muk (I’m not sure what kind) and I’m not even sure what English name to give it, but perhaps- Acorn jelly?  It is made from acorns!  The texture is like jello and the taste is clean and mild.  I really love muk.  The sweet potatoes have been glazed in sweetness, and the salad was topped with sesame dressing.

Japchae is one of my absolute favorite Korean dishes.  It’s basically noodles with mixed vegetables and sometimes beef. The unique thing about japchae are the noodles.  They’re made from sweet potatoes!  They are very soft and have a sorta chewy/sticky texture.  They are really, really good.  In Korean they’re called dang myeon, and I’m sure you can find them at Asian food stores in the States.  The green onion jeon also had some seafood in it; it was slightly crispy and had a surprising spicy kick.  As for the baby octopus- I’m not sure what this dish is exactly called.  If you like octopus, veggies and a little spice, you’d like this.

I’m not sure how the duck was prepared but it was really flavorful and delicious.  And the sesame mushroom soup was awesome.  I’m a big fan of anything sesame and mushrooms, so this was perfect.  It was slightly creamy, however it wasn’t that greasy creamy feeling you get from cream soups.

This platter had all sorts of banchan (side dishes) that are meant to be eaten with rice.  A couple different kinds of kimchi, mushrooms, seaweed, and soft shell crab.

There were other things that went un-pictured, however you can see all the variety that was served.  Besides the duck dish, everything else was mainly vegetable based.  With most Korean dishes, the main part is vegetables and rice.  It is quite a big contrast to the American diet where meat is usually the main part of a meal.  I think most of the more traditional Korean foods are pretty healthy.

Korean food in the States is slowly becoming more popular (Korean BBQ in particular), however I hope some of the more traditional foods will make their presence known as well.

Yoga & the Importance of Schedules

Yesterday marked my 18th yoga class.  Over 6 weeks.

I know that doesn’t seem all that impressive (3 classes a week), but for me it is actually quite remarkable.  Remarkable because I have actually managed to stick to an exercise regimen for 6 weeks straight.

When I signed up for 3 months of classes, I had 3 options.

a) unlimited classes

b) 3 classes a week – come any days you want

c) 3 classes a week – you must set in stone the 3 days in which you would attend class

Option a was out because it was just too expensive.  I considered option b because I thought a flexible schedule would be best, as you never know what will arise in your weekly plans.  Ultimately I chose option c- setting 3 yoga days in stone.  I reasoned that making a set, unchangeable plan would give me more discipline.  And it was also $60 cheaper.  (Really?  $60 more to have the option of coming any day of the week?  I still don’t understand the exact reasoning of that.  But anyway.)

My yoga days have been Mon, Wed, Fri.

As I finished my class last night I felt a little proud that I made it that far, that I actually stuck to my schedule.  I asked myself why, as this has never been my case in the past.

2 reasons.  First of all, I’ve just been really enjoying the practice of yoga.  I am a complete novice, but I’ve found the pleasure of being that.  I’ve enjoyed the challenge, and I’ve enjoyed seeing even the smallest improvements after each class taken.  Since beginning yoga I haven’t been doing any other form of exercise.  Exercise has finally become something enjoyable to me.

The second reason is the fact that I did make a set schedule.  I’ve realized the importance of schedules and what a difference they actually make.  Committing ahead of time and knowing that I only have these 3 single chances a week to take a class has made a big difference.  Yes, I’ve been enjoying yoga but of course there have been a few times when I really just didn’t feel like it.  But knowing in the back of my head, THIS is one of the three ONLY chances you have this week, pushed me.  And I am a person that needs to be pushed.

I guess my point is that scheduling anything (exercise, nights-out, food shopping etc.) can make a big impact on how productive you are.  I really recommend it.  Especially if you are a lazy person like me.

Aren’t you glad?

I’ve been recently studying to get a TEFL certificate.  I’ve realized 2 things.

1)  It’s amazing how little I actually know about the English language.

2)  How incredibly hard reading/pronouncing a non-phonetic language can be.  My case is below.  It’s a poem written by George Bernard Shaw.

 

I take it you already know
of tough and bough and cough and dough.
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.

 

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead-it’s said like bed, not bead.
For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat.
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

 

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for pear and bear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose
Just look them up–and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward.
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come I’ve hardly made a start.

 

A dreadful language? Man alive,
I’d mastered it when I was five!

Aren’t you glad English is your mother language?

Oh and one more thing I’ve realized- English grammar bites the big one.

Baking Bug Bit

I haven’t baked in ages.  The last thing I made were brownies from a box (Duncan Hines Extra Fudgy!) and I can barely remember when that even was.

I used to love baking.  And the lack of it in my recent life had made me sad yet not sad enough to actually get back in the kitchen.  I actually feel as though I’ve lost confidence in my ability.  Not that I was ever great, but I’m certainly even less great with the crappy cooking supplies/oven/etc. that I have in Korea.  Anyway.

Finally, tonight the baking bug bit me and I felt the urge.  The plan was to make a loaf of zucchini bread using this recipe.  I followed the recipe exactly except omitted nutmeg (didn’t have it) and used dried cranberries instead of raisins (much better).  It was my first time baking vegan!  I put my ground flax seeds to use.  Once I had the batter pan ready, I realized I had no loaf pan or paper loaf pans I usually use.  So muffins it would be.

In the end, I think they turned out great.  They don’t seem as dense as the loaf in the original recipe.  I’m not sure if that’s better or not.  They’re not overly sweet, moist, slightly cinnamony and the occasional walnut and cranberry is a nice touch.  These will be great coupled with a morning coffee.  I like knowing I’m eating a (hidden) vegetable in my breakfast.

Of Bears and Phones

The ridiculousness that is my new iPhone case.

I really wanted a case that had a deep outer shell that would protect the camera lens.  I went to at least 8 different shops.  I finally got this one, as this was the best one I could find.

Yes, it’s a little ridiculous, a little cute and maybe a little childish.  And probably only something you would find in Asia.  But, I do feel like it will do a nice job protecting the lens.  And I’ll have a harder time losing it.  And it’s made of that velvety plastic that feels nice in my hands.

Besides, who doesn’t want a little bear hanging off your ear when you’re talking on the phone??

An Ode to Macarons

Macarons are bites of heaven.  They are my most favorite confection, ever.

I’d like to think of them as the premier, luxury Oreo.

Trade those chocolate wafers out for 2 pillowy discs of meringue, and that white cream for the heaven that is: butter cream.  The meringue is slightly chewy on the inside and crispy and shiny on the outside.  The butter cream is rich, cool and literally melts on your tongue.  Oh my gosh, I love them so!

They are delicate, delicious and always so pretty.

If you haven’t tried one, you just must!

Macarons originated in France and shouldn’t be confused with a macaroon.  Macaroons are more commonly thought of, but not nearly as good.  (seen below)

The one bad thing about macarons is the price tag.  At most bakeries you’ll probably spend $2-3 per macaron.  It’s expensive but the treat is so worth it.

A year or so ago I heard that Trader Joes sold macarons.  Not only did they sell macarons but they sold macarons at an awesome price.  6 for $4.99!  Less than $1 each!  And I heard they held their own.  Of course since living in Korea, I sadly have no access to Trader Joes.  So, when I went home last I went to the closest store and frantically sought them out, tracing every single aisle, multiple times.

After 5 solid minutes of searching (with Les!), we asked an employee.  He told us, “Sorry we don’t have them.  They’re seasonal.”  Extremely disappointed, I barked at him, “It’s a cookie!  How can a cookie be seasonal?!”  I realized afterwards that  yes there are some seasonal cookies, like gingerbread, but whatever.   Anyway, long story short- I never got to try the amazing and cheap Trader Joe macarons.  However, I just found out that there back in stores now!  So, if you’re lucky enough to live near a TJ’s, buy them now.  (and mail them to me?) ; )

I hope they are still in stores by the time I get home and I also hope to stop by the somewhat newly opened renowned Laduree shop in Manhattan.  I’ll likely spend $100 and then sit in a cafe gorging myself.

One day I’d like to try making my own.  But the thought of my failed attempt puts me off.  I can’t imagine making these would be an easy endeavor.

And look at these adorable, (calorie-free) macarons.  I’d love to have these.  They would be great for packing Advil, or jewelry.

I’ve found them for sale online here, or here, or from Two’s Company.

If you live in Korea, macarons are a bit harder to come by.  But I have found them at Hyundai Dept Store in Ilsan (a shop in the food court- Sweety BLVD Macaron), at Snow Spoon, at Starbucks (which are actually pretty good), at Paris Croissant (Paris Baguette’s “upscale” counterpart) and at a random French bakery in Ilsan (which I sadly cannot remember the name).

Here are the ones from Korea’s Sweet BLVD Macaron:

And lastly, some more pictures of these lovely confections.

picture sources (1,2,)

Hot Naked Yoga

I’ve been doing Hot Yoga… now it’s time for me to step it up-  Hot Naked Yoga.

Ha… no.  Never.

I just stumbled upon this article.  and this article.

Hot Naked Yoga.

This exists?  Really?

Who is actually down for that?  Especially when only 2% of the class would actually look like the above picture.

Hot Yoga= sweaty

Hot Naked Yoga= slimy

Thoughts?

Bits of the weekend

Walks with her

Really red, sweet delicious strawberries.

Which later turned into these.

(Failed) attempt to dye brown eggs for Easter.

The first time I’ve ever received my favorite flowers.

BBQ with a lot of banchan!

And Sunday night dinner, bossam, with fiery red kimchi.

And a lot of attitude from Nola.  Seriously, look at that face.