Hangouts in Daegu

Last week Nate and I had an awesome opportunity to show some friends around Daegu!

For me they were brand new and for Nate they were 50% new.

Nate went to high school with Soonja and Soonja married Dane and Nate married me! Soonja and Dane were traveling Korea (and taking loads of photos) for a weekish and Nate took some time off of work to show them around. I can’t take off work during the semester but my evenings were free, so I managed to meet up with them downtown for some fun evenings.

The first night was a Tuesday, and I took no pictures because I was too busy eating 감자탕 (gamjatang) which, if you don’t know, is pork spine stew with dark greens and potatoes. Aka Amazing. Wednesday night we went for 찜닭 (jjimdak) which, if you don’t know, is steamed chicken with glass noodles, carrots, potatoes, hot peppers, and a brown sauce that has the addictive properties of illegal drugs. Again, no pictures. Thursday night was a Japanese restaurant that is on my top 5 meals ever in my life. We got there right when it opened and the owner/chef was so kind. He brought us out some free dishes, including a skewered pig skin that was slightly like bacon, but we just called it Candy Pig. Sweet and salty and chewy and smoky and moist and…I drooled on my laptop. And I took no pictures.

Then: Waffles.

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All the glory.

We closed it out at Old Blue. Old Blue is a jazz bar and I had a few gigs there back when I was still doing the live music in Daegu. It’s such a cozy classy place and it was fun to be back.

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In the mornings and afternoons Nate took them up Apsan Mountain and exploring Seomun Market, and we all together hit up the stationery stores and trolled the underground shops for Konglish Tshirts.

hazy days at Apsan!
hazy days at Apsan!

There were so many good ones but Nate and I came away with these:

we wear these in public
we wear these in public

Nate’s got the yellow-Freud-rainbow-square and I have taken the other slogan as my new motto. It’s got…something.

Our little mid-week break with Soonja and Dane was especially great since Nate and I have become Old Married People who NEVER stay out late, and since Nate works evenings, are NEVER downtown on weeknights. We got to take them to all of our favorite places and discover some new stuff too, PLUS we did noraebang (Korean karaoke). Which was no small thing, since S&D are both trained, super-pro musicians and Nate and I were coming off of bronchitis.  We had a blast anyway. And…duh…closed out the night with ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ Soonja and Dane gave us the chance to go out, explore, eat, and play tourist in the city that’s been our home for 4-5 years. Thanks guys 🙂

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We tried so hard to get a group picture…and this was the best one. #yikes

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A wee bit of thanks

I am thankful.

There are people who get grumpy about how thankfulness get so jam packed into this particular season and who inquire why folks don’t express gratitude more during the rest of the year, come on, right, ugh.

These are probably the same people who get annoyed by “I love you” mid-February.

But I say go for it. I am thankful all year round and I love my fambly and my Savior all year round, but what’s wrong with dedicating a holiday to it, drawing a little more emphasis than normal, surrounding love and gratitude with celebration? Calm down, cranky Facebook demagogues.

(but don’t start me on New Year’s resolutions. jk.)

Our wee little, baby little, fledgling Thanksgiving went off without significant hitches. We slept in (8.30!) and while Nate ran I made a triple batch of these beauties for the office T-day party before whipping up a salad and boiling the water for STOVE TOP STUFFING. A wedding gift that we’ve never yet used meant we could fit the entire meal (excluding salad) on one dish. Which we then ate off of communally. Hashtag life hack.

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the chicken looks terrifying. which is what you get when you buy it from the back of a pickup truck.

 

After Nate prayed a Thank You prayer, we feasted whilst watching a Friends Thanksgiving episode marathon. The football episode…so good.

we are all Chandler Bing.

Then a quick jaunt to work for a few hours for me, biscuits in tow, and now I’m home and Boy is working, and I am resisting mightily the leftovers in the fridge til he comes back to share them. #WifeOfTheYear

I’m thankful for so much this year. Not least of which that this year will soon end.

(Is that too sour? It’s true, though it’s also a topic for another post.)

But before it does, and before we move on from this amazing, carb-laden holiday:

I’m thankful for Nate. For our sprout of a marriage. For all the laughs and plans and dreams and lazy times and busy times and serving times and for making me better, and making me believe in better. I love you.

I’m thankful that I have what I have. I could live with less and I believe I will in the very near future. For now, we have jobs and money and benefits. I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for family far away. I miss them so much. I’m missing the crop of McNieces and McNephews grow up, and I hate that, but I’m grateful that they are there and well and provided for.

I’m thankful for family close by: friends who are family who will make leaving this country so, so hard.

I’m thankful that I’m loved and forgiven and valued by the Creator Himself. I’m thankful that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I’m thankful that no matter how dark reality is, we have hope in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanksgiving and Life Pioneers

Thanksgiving!

I still get excited about it even though a dull boring grownup bit in my brain keeps iterating that ne’er again shall I have the utterly relaxed Thanksgiving of my youth which, the dull boring grownup bit of my brain drones to me, was so exciting because SOMEONE ELSE WAS PAYING FOR IT. All I had to do was insist on baking things I thought looked fun and partially grate my thumb into a cucumber salad and scrape half the skin off my face in a hammock ‘incident.’

Ah, carefree youth.

It’s hard to make Thanksgiving (and Christmas) feel significant so far from home and family. My family does well for holidays. Full and abounding and joyful to the max, and Nate’s family is those things anyway so I imagine they get that Thanksgiving spirit nailed down too. On the other hand, it’s a pretty grand opportunity for Boy and I to be our own family for our first year at it.  Choices: lament the missing-out of home traditions, or pioneer our own? (I always wanted to be a pioneer. oh man. it’s becoming real. I AM LAURA INGALLS [FROM THE BOOK {illustrations by Garth Williams} NOT THE TV SERIES WHICH WAS GARBAGE  I TELL YOU, GARBAGE].)

Take me there (via)

But that is just what marriage has turned out to be, constant movement forward into unknown territory. Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s hard and confusing, but mostly it’s Life, and I love it.

As it’s a distinctly American holiday neither I nor the Boy have off work on Thursday, but our schedules permit us to have lunch together, and oh, I have plans. Plans that involve the possibly-expired box of Stove Top we found in a foreign foods market on Geoje Island months ago, a whole chicken to be purchased out of a truck that parks in our neighborhood every Wednesday night, and the little pies they’ve just started selling this season at Paris Baguette. And we will make a salad, and mash a potato or two. It will be me and Boy. Me cross-legged on the bed, him in our lone chair pulled up, our wee tray table precariously loaded with a one-off-from-the-Pilgrims feast. We’ll be a day ahead of the football and parades, but we’ll be thankful.

I’m thinking about ways to show thankfulness (like with my amazing job that at this point in the semester I lack allllll the motivation to do), and maybe on Thursday I’ll do a list. and some pictures! maybe! even! hooray!

In-Convenience Stores

What is it about accidental naps that are so very discombobulating?

The husband got a wee-bit zealous chopping bell peppers at lunch last week with our $10 knife from PowerMart. We had two bandaids that were so old the sterile wrapping floated off because the adhesive had faded. He tied a sock around his finger while I finished lunch. Teamwork! Resourcefulness.

When he left for work (Nate works from 3-10pm. Hooray never eating dinner together?) I had a long mental list of things I needed to do. I thought about them as I was reading blogs on my laptop getting increasingly drowsy. ‘You’ve got to run,’ I muttered to myself.

Ha, said myself. Silently.

Three hours later, I woke up.

Stressful naps shouldn’t be a thing, you guys. It’s such a sucker punch. It’s like…when you bite into a peach and it’s secretly rotten. RUDE. just RUDE.

Anyway, that was last week and by now that bell-pepper cut has mostly healed, WITHOUT stitches. (he was unsure for the first couple days, whereas my reaction was ‘RUB SOME DIRT IN IT’ #Proverbs31woman) and today I heroically resisted the sneak-attack afternoon nap.

Our neighborhood is a recently-developed labyrinth of 4-and-5-floor apartment buildings, all named things like ‘Aceville’ and ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Trump House’ and ‘Starbucks’ which latter items should indicate the state of Korean copyright law.  On every corner is either a phone shop, a meat restaurant, a real estate office, or the main event: a convenience store.

I can walk to my corner, look left, and see three convenience stores, on that street alone.

On the one hand it’s pretty great, in our still developing area, to be able to walk about 150 steps to get snacks, flour, milk, coffee, a razor, bandaids, yada yada yada.

On the other hand, as card-carrying Former Fat Kids, Nate and I have a shared instinctual and deeply problematic draw to these establishments. For the candy aisle, which carries my favorite Korean candy bar, whose incomprehensible English name is Freedom Time? and for the ice-cream freezers, where every one of my popsicle-obsessed childhood dreams can come true on a daily basis for the low low price of 60 cents (SIXTY. CENTS.) with…

The Jaws Bar.

via

It seems fitting that here, properly into Fall, is my ode to the Jaws bar. that’s the name, in Korean, on the wrapper: jyo-seu. Jaws. Because it’s gray and shaped like a sharks head and the outside tastes like orange and the middle is soft strawberry. It’s cool and fruity and did I mention SIXTY CENTS, and mama loves a bargain, and mama also loves processed sugars. #deliverus

And Nate has so much more strength of will than I do on this, which is wonderful, unless I were to go out when he’s not here and accidentally on purpose get a snack and then make sure I leave the wrapper in the garbage cans outside so that I’m not caught in my iniquity. not that that has ever happened all the time before. I mean.

What I’m saying in this post can be summed up thus:

  1. Maybe invest in knives that work
  2. People almost never need stitches
  3. I should reintroduce coffee into my lunchtime routine
  4. please someone help me I have to go to the grocery store now and I have no self control

 Ps. We had us some real good times this weekend! I’ll post about it soon. unless I die of Jaws-bar surfeit before then. 

Healthy Apple-Carrot-Oat Muffins, or, Not a Food Blog

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Handwriting courtesy of my mother. I mean, it’s mine, but it’s inherited.

Y’all.

There are few things I love in this world more than food.

God, people, food.

On my not great days, it’s God, some people, food, other people. or even…God, food, forget people.

I really, really love food. I love to make it, buy it, eat it, think about it, prepare it. I want it all the time. The more the better. The better the better. But for all that, I am not a food blogger. Even though this is a post about a recipe I adapted and made. I don’t have a camera or nutrition facts. I make food when I want to and not on a schedule. I have a habit of making a meal on a Monday and just recreating it for dinner til the end of time. Because it keeps being good! and generally it involves a frying pan, a chopping board, and a bowl to make and eat. Low maintenance, bebe.

As always, too much ado. So without further of it, the food blogging:

I wanted to make something for breakfast on weekends when we’re running out to Bible studies and church, or weekdays when I’ve gotta be catching a bus. I also wanted something that wouldn’t COMPLETELY negate all the running (let’s be real…wheeze-jogging) I’ve been up to. I had a list of ingredients I wanted to use, so I turned to the Internet…

and found nothing.

Okay, not nothing, but nothing perfect. Maybe it’s age and maybe it’s living where finding the right ingredients for things is a creative struggle, but it’s become more important to me to create what I imagined, rather than settling for what’s available. SO I adapted from a couple of recipes: Deb’s from Smitten Kitchen (is it creepy that I’ve read every single post on her site?) and this one from Minimalist Baker (which is new to me but I am about to begin happily stalking). So I got to work. 218

The inclusion of the banana may have happened after everything was mixed, but looked a little dry, and I saw these and thought, sure. And it may have found its way into the batter by being hand-squleched, because I may not have felt like dirtying more dished for a lone banana. But I divulge nothing.

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SO appealing, no?

I also may have fashioned liners out of something labeled ‘paper baking foil’ because I may not have wanted to grease all the tins all the dang time.

This is a really simple recipe, and the results were fully satisfying. Because there’s such a small amount of sweetener, most of the flavor comes from the fruit, and those flavors intensify over time. That means that these are much better after you let them cool, or sit overnight.  These are dense and super-textured, with the banana smoothness, the bits of carrot and apple, the burst of cranberry tang, the nutty pumpkin seeds, and the crunchy lil chia seeds that sneak into your molars. There’s a lot going on here, but this is the Little Muffin That Could.

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I mean…look at that lil beauty.

Healthy Apple-Carrot-Oat Muffins

(Makes 16 muffins)

Preheat oven to 400F/ 204C. Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake holders.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. flour (any kind will do, if you’re gf or vegan, you can easily substitute meal or gf flour)
  • 1 c. oats (I used rolled…do as your heart/pantry contents dictate)
  • 1 tsp. EACH baking soda and baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (omit-able)
  • 1/2 c. oil (I used coconut, barely melted down)
  • 1/4 c. honey (or agave, or sugar, or whatever)
  • 1 egg (or substitutionary equivalent)
  • 1 c. EACH shredded apple (1 med. green apple) and shredded carrot (I shredded 2/3 of a super huge carrot, so…1 normal carrot)
  • 1 banana (you could also use yogurt or milk instead…probably 1/2 c)
  • optional generous fistfuls of nuts and dried fruit (cranberry and pumpkin seeds made it into mine)

Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. Toss the Dries together, then vigorously mix the Wets. Then pour the Wets in with the Dries. Let madness ensue until ingredients are all moistened and comfortable about it. This is where the Optionals get to come play. Let ’em. Mix again.

Fill greased muffin tins about half way up. These are dense lil dudes, so they don’t rise much. Bake at 400F (205C) for about 15 minutes (my oven bakes way too fast, so yours might take longer) or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool overnight and then gorge yo’self. But beware of…ahem…fiber overload.

may have encountered that after eating five in a row.