Tag Archive: family


Chuseok

One of the biggest holidays in Korea is Chuseok.  Everyone has days off to celebrate together.  Essentially it translates to Korean Thanksgiving and celebrates the Korean autumn harvest.  Everyone travels to see family and spends time eating with them.

There is a special type of dduk, a rice cake called songpyeon, that they during this time as well.  My kids were writing about it in their journals for weeks leading up to the holiday.  They all were excited about the special dduk.  I had some and it was quite good.  They do put it in bags with pine needles which was a bit strange, but definitely tasty. The link to Wikipedia tells you all the deliciousness inside.

I had the honor of being invited to spend the day at Eileen’s grandmother’s house with her family.  I have spent time with them before if you remember at her grandmother’s 90th birthday party.  Her family has been really kind to me this year, and I am really thankful for them letting me be a part of their celebrations.

So I woke up early and met Eileen and her mom for our journey down to Suwon.  We took the subway for over and hour and then a bus for about 40 minutes.  Finally we arrived.  There was so much food.  Kimchi, of course, jeons of all kinds, egg battered veggies, sides galore, and this delicious soup yukgaejang,  which I call six things soup because its name sounds similar to the number six.  Eileen laughs every time, but it totally makes sense to me.  Her grandmother made it with chicken and it was so tasty.  We ate and ate and I was so full, but then her grandmother kept bringing out fruit and snacks and she kept personally handing me things being the good Korean hostess, but I was so full.  It is rude to not accept things offered to you in Korea so I just kept eating until I finally just said I’m sorry but I am just too full. Saying I’m full is one of the things I learned early on in my year here.  Haha you hear people saying it all the time. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of the food because there weren’t many people there and I kind of wanted to just enjoy being there and not being the weird foreigner with a camera, so sorry about that, my words will just have to be enough.

Side note: The word for stomach in Korean is bai.  This word is also the word for sheep and pear.  So sometimes I just sit and giggle at all the ways you could get all three of these words mixed up in a sentence taken out of context in translation.

Anyway, so after so much eating, which was totally ok because it’s a holiday and those never count, plus the food was amazing, we were asked to go help pick some veggies.  Eileen’s grandma has small portions of these community gardens near her house.  It’s really interesting because these plots are on the sides of these hills almost up into the trees.  To get to one of them you have to climb up these makeshift dangerous rock stairs.  It was fine though I suppose because if her 90 year old grandma can climb them like a champ then we figured we should too.  Though I am still not sure how grandma did it, to be honest.

I did take pictures of this 🙂

Eileen borrowed some clothes from her grandma so that she wouldn’t mess up the nice clothes she was wearing.  Of course you can’t work in a garden without a hat, so we borrowed those too.

She totally looked like an ajumma, it was hilarious.

I was in charge of picking peppers in the first garden we went to.

Eileen and her grandma.

Then we went to the second garden, and there were so many mosquitoes it was crazy.  I think I ended up with 15 bites by the next morning.

Also, in the middle of the second garden there was this make shift sitting area.  I am pretty sure its where old men go to drink soju while they garden haha.

Again, we couldn’t stay long because of the mosquitoes. We did get some good veggies though.

After we were finished and had helped clean up her grandma start packing food bags for all of us. She even sent some left overs for me.  They were so delicious and I was surprised she even sent some for me.

Overall, it was a good day and I am really glad I got to experience my last holiday here properly.

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Yeouido Park

Last weekend the weather of course was overcast and looking like the sky was going to open up and drop rain at any minute.  We have been very persistent about not letting the rain effect our plans if we can help it.

On Saturday we went to Itaewon for brunch.  We had the absolute best breakfast I have had since arriving in Korea.  We went to a place called the Flying Pan-Blue.  It is a little tucked away place that is super cute inside and busy constantly.  I was not surprised once I tasted my food.  It was hands down the best smoked salmon eggs benedict I have ever had anywhere. It was on fresh sourdough bread with sauteed spinach and a grilled tomato on the side. All the flavors and the colors were beautiful on the place. It was superb.  Andy’s pancakes with bananas, walnuts, and a scoop of ice cream were also super tasty.  I might have stolen more than 1 or 2 bites.  Sadly, my camera was acting up annnnd I didn’t get any pictures.

However after walking around the area for a bit we decided to just get on the subway and go somewhere, sooo we headed to Yeouido.  Yeouido is actually a little island in the river.  We went to the river walk and figured we would just see what we could find.  Well, we found some really neat things.

We found this really cool fountain area that is used by children for swimming, splashing, and fun.  The water isn’t more than knee deep at most points and the kids were having a blast.  There were families set up along the edges with picnics and towels while the kids ran around and had fun.  I was kind of surprised considering the weather, but I guess after what has been 2 months of solid rain at this point you just have to go whether the clouds are out or the sun is shining.

And I was totally that weird person sitting on the sides taking pictures of everyone’s kids.  They didn’t seem to mind so I didn’t really feel bad about it.

This is one of the main entrance walkways into the waterfront from the subway.

Awesome weird artsy bench.  There were all styles and cool concept benches all throughout the park.

Andy sitting on the bench while I took pictures from 100000 different angles.  I really liked how it was made.

The part of the fountain park nearest to the river.

There were so many different types of fountains.

Boys being boys.

Floating stage dome thing on the river.

They went all out with their floating rings, goggles, and swimming caps. So funny. Some kids were in their clothes, others were in their swimsuits, didn’t make a difference they were all running around being kids.

I loved this little guy. He was floating his crocs on the water and splashing around with his grandma. The water made him a little anxious but they were having fun.

and of course a photo oh Andy and I.  Apparently we always sit on the same sides in photos. weird. We didn’t go to the 63 Building that is on the island because of the weather and we also didn’t ride the awesome tandem bikes, but we definitely plan on going back or to Seoul Forest before the next week is up!

 

more food!

This past week Rachel’s mom was here visiting.  We had dinner a couple of times together.  One night after work we went to get dak galbi which is barbequed chicken marinated in this awesome spicy sauce.  It was totally delicious and didn’t make me feel as awkward afterward as the pork galbi we usually eat does. We also decided to make Mrs. Shires try soju.  It was a really good night and again, the food was awesome. Also, Rachel’s mom told me like 30 times I should be a food photographer.  I told her I just like sharing my food escapades with you all.

 

cooking up nicely.

then you make a little wrap with lettuce, garlic, salady stuff, and whatever other sides you want. and then eat it up. yum!

Then after the meat we got these delicious noodles.  I thought they were buckwheat but Joanne says they are something else.  Either way they are on my favorite foods list.

We had some nice Korean guys take some photos for us, too.

Then Friday night after work Eileen made some really delicious soup for dinner.  I have had sundubu before but it has never been one of my favorites.  When she made it though I was in total bliss.  She used pork instead of seafood and it wasn’t as oily as the kind at our local Gimbap place.

We had a big spread of gimbap, kimchi, radish, these egg things, and such good soup.  Definitely something she promises I can learn to make soon.

sooo goood!

This week was way busy and I feel like I haven’t had time to breath but it was a lot of fun!

Grandma turns 90…

Well not one of my grandmas, but Eileen’s did. I hope all of my grandmothers make it to 90, though there is something different about the Korean lifestyle for sure.  I mean they eat their fair share of ridiculously fried foods but all of the other ways they take care of themselves more than make up for it.

Eileen’s grandma’s party was the first Korean birthday party I have attended where things were done in a really traditional manner.  Firstly, in my opinion the woman didn’t look a day over 75 in American years but alas she turned 90 last weekend.  She spent a decade of her life pregnant and birthed 11 children that all survived.  She never lost one. I think that makes her a strong woman for sure, especially considering only 2 of the 11 are boys.  I would pretty much runaway if I had to live with 8 teenage girls. No thank you.

So anyway I think 7 of her children were at the party and some of their families.  It was hosted by one of Eileen’s cousins.  He runs a Tae Kwon Do school outside of Seoul and so there was plenty of space.  It was a lot of fun.

Of course there was a demonstration done by his students.  There was kicks and music and board breaking and flips and it was impressive considering the oldest kid there was probably 15.

Grandma put on a hanbok a traditional Korean dress for the occasion.  It is also tradition that no one eats or drinks until the oldest person does so the party starts with a toast to Grandma and she drinks and the party starts.  Then there is a cake with a sword knife. no joke.

Then little Grandma used that huge sword knife to cut the cake. This all happened at the beginning before the meal or anything.

Then there was the gift giving.  The children line up and place the gifts in front of Grandma on the table.  Then they bow.  They had to bow twice though because the first time there was no food on the table because it was across the room.  In Korea the only time you bow without food is if the person has died and Grandma was very much alive and kicking.  So, there was food and a rebow.  The daughters went first, then sons and son in law, then daughter in laws, grandchildren, and finally great grandchildren.

Of course the tiny kids were the cutest.

Then we got to eat! The food was SOOOOO good. I ate so much raw salmon I thought I might just fall over dead from happiness.  It’s hard to find sushi as we think of it in America, and salmon in general is a really expensive fish here, sadly.

and that was just round one. I was so full and it was all so delicious.

After food and the older family members had drank a little soju and beer they started up the karaoke.  It was all in Korean and went on for a couple of hours but it was fun.  Everyone, including Grandma was singing and dancing and having fun.  There were also some of the cutest kids there and I wanted to snatch them soooo badly. Instead I just paprazzied them with my camera.

Eileen and her mom singing and dancing.

Grandma dancing.  The man in this photo was kind of running the entertainment part. He kept telling everyone where to sit and when to clap or dance and when he talked I felt like he was preaching to me, but Eileen says he is a professional announcer.  I could totally tell. It was funny.

Grandma belted out a few tunes and at one point they were dancing around her in a circle.  I have no idea why, but it obstructed her view of reading the lyrics and so it was funny.  She is a tiny woman the top of her head only came to my chest.

He was such a sweet baby, and check out that tiiiiny little tie he was wearing. So adorable.

I took about 30,000 photos of this little girl.  Her mom is a beautiful Japanese girl.  So her being half Japanese and half Korean is definitely working in her favor.  She was sooo adorable and she will definitely be breaking hearts when she is older. We played with balloons together for like half an hour.  I wanted to bring her home with me.

A picture of Eileen and Grandma in their hanboks.

Me and my lovely Eileen…at first…then towards the end of the party she got really hot in her hanbok.  She didn’t think to bring an extra set of clothes soooo I offered to trade with her. hahaha needless to say everyone laughed at us for sure. For one we are no where near the same size in any way at all.  So her hanbok was short on me and difficult to tie because I am so broad in the shoulders.  And she was swimming in my dress so we had to use bobby pins to keep the straps shorter.

Once the party was over her aunt and uncle drove us home.  We slept most of the hour long trip home because we were just exhausted.  I had so much fun though and I was really glad she had invited me along to be able to celebrated such a milestone with her family.

Month 3

I am 1 week shy of my 3 month mark here in Korea. Time was flying by until this week. Working days really makes the work day feel never ending. Things have been a mess there for me and I am just waiting for the talk I know is coming about something I am doing wrong. My boss just likes to find things to pick on sometimes.

Anyway, this monthly update comes with pictures! I realized during the holidays that my hair was becoming unmanageable here. I have really healthy hair and it can withstand a lot, but the dry gross weather and air here were just taking hair disasters to a whole new level so since I best Korean friend’s mom is a hairdresser I headed over to her salon and prayed really hard that when I asked her to chop off my hair that it would end well.

Korean and Western hair are soooo very different. Westerners tend to have much finer hair in comparison and it retains about ten times the water. Anyway, I showed her some pictures and she went to work. I was kind of panicked at one point as my friend Eileen made this noise that in the States means like yeaaaah that’s bad. Like sucking air loudly through your teeth. Yeah well as her mom is chopping away she makes this noise simply because my wet hair is curling and she is curious about the curly level of shorter hair or something, but I was scared to death her mom had slaughtered my hair or some such. Luckily though, it was just curiosity. Anyway before annnnd after 🙂

My hair grows waaaay fast here. It was like that in Denmark too. Very strange.

I looooooove it. Her mom did suuuch a good job.

Also, I am down 12 pounds and joining the gym this month. Body image really is something you are aware of all the time here. I eat such good food and its so healthy. I would stay here forever just for the cheap eats.

The holidays are over and things are settling down some, but there are still a lot of birthdays and things coming up.

And I need to take a moment to share with you something that made me terribly excited yesterday.  My mom sent me a package from home and I hadn’t received it and I was getting nervous that it got lost or something.  I called the post office and they said there was no such package. I was soooo frustrated. Then, yesterday this little guard my building has knocks on my door and tells me I need to come downstairs. Mostly we converse in gestures because he is probably 70 and his English is limited to “hello” and “what is your name?” so I followed him downstairs and my package from home has been sitting for a week in his office and no one thought to leave me a note or anything. I was kind of angry at first, but glad that it wasn’t lost. My mom though sent me sooooo much awesome stuff I can’t wait to really dig into it all. Spices, bullion cubes, peanut butter, mixes, candies, and Christmas stuff.

and of course Hans von Mouseman was very interested in the new box and just licked everything inside. He is so weird.

Overall, this month has just been busy and came to a sudden halt with the arrival of my day schedule at work.  I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the administration at work, and looking forward to the end of January and returning to a normal schedule.

This month I sat down and really studied the Korean language and can now succesfully read everything, even if I don’t know what the words mean. That part comes next. I love having my conversation and cooking classes with Eileen.  We put them on hold for the holidays and are trying to work around busy schedules and ridiculous work things.  If not they will pick up again in February.

I am also counting down until the end of March when hopefully it will start to warm up and I no longer have to wear a billion layers of clothes so that it doesn’t actually feel like the 7 degrees it really is outside most nights. I couldn’t stay here for a second year I don’t think just because I am a wimp for the cold and it is killing me here. It is a bitter, bitter winter in Korea.

I am looking forward to wrapping up month 3 and the first quarter of my adventure here.

Not Asian at all

This is completely unrelated to Korea in every way besides the fact that I am here.

However, on November 4, 2010 at 8:12pm my baby sister and her husband welcomed their own baby into the world. She weighs 6lbs 1 oz and is lovingly named McKenzie Allison Morgan.

Allison is my mother’s maiden name in case you were wondering why she chose my name.

She is beautiful, tiny, and healthy and I am so glad they are both well.

I will be home in time to celebrate her first birthday.