Monday, December 26, 2011

Enter the Dragon

2012 is the Year of the Dragon and it’s about to rear its head! I, myself, am a dragon baby, so I have high hopes for the year ahead. 2011 wasn’t the worst of times (unless you ask Clark), but I can’t really say I’m sorry to see it go. 

Looking back at blog posts past, I'm reminded that I made some resolutions at the start of the year and, interestingly enough, managed to keep all of them! I resolved to travel, see my sister, be a good mom, rejoin the workforce, cook more, and study.

I succeeded in killing the first two proverbial birds with one stone by spending my vacation back home in Canada this summer. I spent a month visiting with relatives and friends, and finally got some quality time with my sister. My only regret now is that I won’t be able to attend her wedding this spring and I really hope another six years don’t go by before I see her again or get the chance to meet her “Jiminy”. In other news, Logan is alive and well, so I think it would be fair to say that I met the challenge of being a good mother. The little dude is 16 months old tomorrow and rambunctious as ever. I have to admit though, that it’s probably his father who is to thank for his upbringing.  I haven’t been around much this year because I've been diligently tending to my fourth and sixth resolutions: work and study. And, I’m not shy about reporting the fact that I have been a good little study-er; receiving grades of ‘Distinction’ for my first two major research papers. Lastly, ‘tis true that 2011 saw me in the kitchen a little more often. I taught myself to make quite a few Korean dishes and experimented with some baking. I was also a good mother/wife and packed a lot of lunch boxes for my boys this past year.  

So what’s in store for 2012? Honestly, I have no idea…but I resolve to do one thing:

Lose weight. Though not on last year’s list, I shed 15kg in 2011, dropping 2 clothing sizes. With Blogger as my witness, I shall lose another 15kg this year…starting…right . after . I . finish . all . of . the . Christmas . chocolate . and . goodies…

Happy New Year everyone! J

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Wow. It's been quite some time since I last updated on the goings-on of the Harrison/Lee family, so here's a  run down of this year's Christmas...

This year I decided to bake Christmas cookies for the first time ever. My mother and grandmother always made it look so simple, but I assure you it is not. I attempted to replicate my grandmother's shortbread cookies and did a pretty darn good job of it. In fact, I dare say they are identical to my grandmother's in both appearance and taste, but it was no easy feat. Next year I intend to heed the advice of friends and add wax paper & my freezer to the equation.  

As usual, my mother shipped a ton of stuff for us to open (which is lovely because without it there really wouldn't be much of anything to open). Clark and I don't generally exchange gifts (though I did sneak a pack of socks for him under the tree) and he gave me a card because he is under the mistaken but very adorable impression that card giving among immediate family members is a 'western' custom. He sees cards arriving in the mail from grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles, & friends and thinks this means he's supposed to buy me a card ~ so cute! 

We don't exchange gifts, but we do buy gifts for Clark's parents every year. Our first Christmas, I put a lot of thought, effort, and expense into their gifts, only to realize they, frankly speaking, don't give a rats' behind. So this year I got wise and put very little thought, effort or expense into their gifts and got the same reaction as always ~ none. Whenever they receive gifts they always just ask what it is, examine it for a moment, then put it down with a sort of approving grunt. Clark insists that we're wasting our money and that they don't care if we buy them anything. While this is obviously the case, I was raised in the gift-giving tradition and not buying them something, no matter how small, seems wrong. 

Logan was happy to find presents from Santa waiting for him under the tree, and there were, of course, copious amounts of gifts from grandma & grandpa, too.

Every year is the same: I spend the morning cooking and cleaning, Clark's parents arrive, they play with Logan, they open their presents, we eat, they leave. This year they stayed for a record 2 1/4 hours (and that was with Clark pushing them to stay to taste-test some Baileys). In years past, I failed to satisfy their taste buds, so this year I opted for a "fusion" holiday meal. With the help of some advice solicited from fellow expats in my shoes who know of the difficulty in pleasing Korean in-laws, a successful meal was had by all in the Harrison/Lee family this year :) On the dinner (actually, it was lunch) table was: chicken baeksu (boiled chicken), scalloped potatoes gratin, butter sauteed carrots & peas, cranberry/orange sauce, and sweet & sour red cabbage. For the first time ever my father-in-law asked for seconds and my mother-in-law requested my recipes. She also took home all of the leftover cabbage & cranberry sauce ^.~

It's a little tricky trying to celebrate Christmas in a culture where people don't really "do" Christmas, but with Clark on board (he's proven himself to be a very good student^^), hopefully with each passing year we'll be able to establish our own Harrison/Lee family Christmas traditions.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Korean cooking

If anyone is interested in learning how to cook Korean food, I have just the thing for you: Aeri's Kitchen. It's a great Korean cooking blog written by a Korean woman living in the USA.

I've recently been following a lot of her recipe ideas and have been quite impressed with the results. Being married to a Korean man and having lived in Korea for the past 7 years, I have a pretty good idea of how Korean food should look and taste ~ and Aeri's recipes look and taste just right ^.~

If you have the inclination and time, I recommend you try some of her recipes. Some favourites in our house are:
- Beef & Vegetable Juk (rice porridge) (소고기 야채죽)
- Chicken Juk (rice porridge) (닭죽)
- Butter Bean Jeon (pancake) (리마콩 전)
- Kongjaban (black bean side dish) (콩자반)
- Spinach Namul (spinach side dish) (시금치 나물)
- Beef & Radish Guk (soup) (소고기 무국)
Tteok Guk (rice cake soup) (떡국)


Saturday, October 15, 2011


First stop on a rainy Saturday morning: COEX Aquarium. I love the place and have visited several times in the past, but Logan was less than impressed; mostly crying and moaning his way through. Anyways, here are a few pictures for your enjoyment...

Logan liked hanging out in the playroom, but feigned little interest in the fish or other creatures; even the penguins didn't strike his fancy. Oh well, guess we'll just have to try again when he's a little older.

Some kind of lizardy-fish thing with it's own boa^^

After the aquarium, we did some shopping and stopped for lunch at On the Border. I hadn't eaten there in a LONG time (since before Logan was born) and had forgotten how good the food tastes!

Yummy yummy yummy fried enchiladas :D

Clark found a small bone in his quesadilla, so we got a 복분자 bokbunja 'korean wildberry' margarita on the house. He ended up with a complimentary meal, too, when he later found another bone :D Yay for bones!

Logan thought it'd be fun to copy mommy and learn how to use a straw. He figured it out within just a minute or two ~ time to switch from sippy to straw cups!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paul Potts, Metapolis mall, & the Suwon Cultural Festival

'Twas a busy week indeed. On Monday evening we saw Paul Potts in concert. It was a free outdoor event held at the Suwon Outdoor Concert Hall. We met up with our friends Casey and Young Ha and their little girl, Ivy, for dinner beforehand. Unfortunately, Logan and Ivy proved not to be fans of Mr. Potts, and we ended up leaving after listening to just two songs. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. We were too far away for much of a view (or sound experience, for that matter), but I did manage to snap this photo of the big screen.^^

So the work week started out with a bang and ended with an even bigger bang; fireworks, that is. The Suwon Cultural Festival began on Friday at Hwaseong Palace and, despite being a couple of kilometers away, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had a perfect view of the opening ceremony fireworks from our living room window. And if that wasn't enough, on Saturday afternoon, the festival parade marched down the street right in front of our apartment!

Logan was curious about the parade.

And soon decided he wanted in on the action.

Which turned out to be a good thing because he got a balloon from one of the Harajuku girls :D

Here's testament to Korea's love affair with squid and octopus.

Hyundai pleased the crowd with this larger than life Morning complete with racing girls (the Morning is one of the smallest compact cars in Korea for those who don't know).

And Samsung pleased me with this performance, reminiscent of the Mos Eisley Cantina bar scene in Star Wars.

A fun-filled afternoon to be sure, and the fun continued when I went for a girls night out of dinner and shopping with my friend Jill. We went to Metapolis mall in the nearby "new" city of Dongtan. Indoor shopping malls are few and far between in Korea, so having Metapolis nearby is pretty much like striking gold. Four floors of fun, complete with a skating rink on the bottom level.

At Metapolis, even the mannequins are happy :D

Isn't it purdy?

To cap off the week, we went to the cultural festival on Sunday afternoon with a group of expat families, where we enjoyed dee-licious food, a variety of sights, great company, and terrific weather!

Here we (minus me^^) are starting out the day.

There were lots of crafts for children, like pottery and traditional paper making.

Ahhh, the food tents...

My first (but most certainly not last) time eating Chinese sweet corn balls. Yum-yum!

Bubby got in on the action and devoured an entire 진방 jjin bang (stuffed, steamed bread) himself^^

All in all, 'twas a great week!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paldal Market (팔달시장)

It was recently reported in the news that Korean consumer prices rose 5.3% this month to the highest level in 3 years. There are a lot of inexpensive products and services in Korea; unfortunately the staples (food and housing) are not among them. So Clark and I decided that instead of our regular weekly trip to Homeplus, now was as good a time as any to go to Paldal Market (팔달시장); the largest traditional market in Suwon, and only a 5-minute bus ride from home.
I wondered how much, if any, money we could really save by taking the traditional route. The atmosphere (sights, sounds, smells) of the market make it well worth the experience, but in my estimation we didn't really save all that much. Most of the prices were comparable to what we pay at Homeplus. The only thing for which I noticed a marked savings was the banchan 반찬 'sidedishes'; particularly kimchi. In one or two cases (shrimp, for example) I found the market prices more expensive, in fact. Regardless, we bought a fair amount and had a good time this evening ~ a time made even better by the fact that Logan decided to nap for over an hour in his stroller.
Here are the highlights of our market adventure...

I thought these little guys were cute!^^ Don't they look so smiley?

Definitely cheaper and oh-so delicious (I taste-tested almost everything^^). We bought a whack of  ggeotjeori 걷절이 'new kimchi'.

Lots and lots of songpyeong 송편 'sesame seed or chestnut paste filled rice cakes' in preparation for next week's Thanksgiving holiday.

Fall is never complete without dried red chili's.

Clark and I share an affinity for all things dried. He is particulary fond of fish jerky (yick!).

Seeing this made me giggle.

And this made me laugh out loud! (Most certainly not a Korean expression and just sounds so wrong in English).