Dynamic Korea: Seoraksan

Here are some photos from my recent hike up Seorak Mountain in Gangwon-do.

I love these beautiful fall colors!

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NaNoWriMo 2012 – No More Excuses

For the past 5 years or so, I’ve tried over and over again to do one of the best things for my writing and blogging life:


That’s right. I have never completed a NaNoWriMo in 5 years. Not once. And every single time, I look at myself in the mirror and weep. (Okay, not really.) But I do get VERY guilty for not finishing it, and this year I know I WILL.

Things around here might be radio silent for the next 30 days, but I assure you that I will be busy as a bee behind this computer screen of mine. And once it’s finished?

Well, my inner editor will have a FEST. But more about that later.

Haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo before? Click on the picture to take you there.

You’ve Been Owned- By the Corporations you buy from!

I’m not usually the kind of person that posts political messages on my blog, but I think this is pretty important. This doesn’t affect the internet as much as it affects anyone anywhere in the USA that wants to re-sell their belongings. Take a look at the Demand Progress Website, where the following comes from:

“Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether you have the right to sell your stuff on eBay. Do you really own the smartphone or computer you’re using to read this? If you sold your books, would you be breaking the law? A federal court in New York says you would be, even if you legally paid for and bought them.

“It’s unbelievable, but trademark and copyright holders are trying to use a legal loophole to take away your right to sell things that you own. The mainstream media is starting to catch on, with the Wall Street Journal just running an article headlined, “YOUR RIGHT TO RESELL YOUR OWN STUFF IS IN PERIL”.”

Please sign the petition today. It takes about ten full seconds and has the potential to protect you and your belongings from scrutiny.

Thoughts on Middle School (and boys)

Well, I did it! Somehow, in a whirlwind of boxes, train trips, lots of friends, and a lot of lifting later, I am almost completely settled into my new apartment and job in a new city with (mostly) new faces!


Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. It’s been about three weeks since I moved, and after a somewhat rocky start where I needed some time to regain my confidence in teaching (more about that in a moment), I am no longer sleeping on the floor and eating ramen noodles. Thank you, Gam & Gamp, for being such awesome grandparents and helping me out when I really need you! I really couldn’t have done it without your help.

When I first arrived to my new school, I found it intimidating and scary. Teenage boys. Everywhere. And also, teaching by myself for 45 minute classes every day?! I know this is not knew to most people, but holy cow. This is a lot different than the hand-holding, let’s play games all the time, Elementary School way. I loved the system in my last school! I never lost my voice, never knew that feeling of “uhhhhmmm……” during a lapse in a class, never experienced public humiliation in front of nearly 40 boys before… Needless to say, my first few weeks as an All-boys Middle School Teacher were a little rough, not to mention feeling like you’re just a few tip-toe steps from doing or saying the wrong thing to a new co-worker, or stressing about not having business-casual clothes (during the moving transition), or… or… the list goes on.

Now that I’ve gotten the first few periods for each class under my belt, I feel much more comfortable and confident about my situation. I think that might come from drinking a lot of coffee and spending all my free time lesson planning, but it might also come from stress-busting, such as listening to music, getting away from the computer before bed, spending less time on cell phone games, eating healthier, tracking my finances (for the first time ever) and my favorite: the occasional glass of red wine and foot rubs from my better half.

However, going back to work the next day and facing those 13 year old boys is still a challenge!

You can check out my two sister blogs, the first being Miss A’s Middles, which is all about teaching; the second blog is Eat Your Lunch-ee, which is a fun “rating” kind of blog where I take a picture of my lunch every day and give it a rating! Other teachers in Korea are encouraged to send in their pictures and descriptions as well to make it more fun and interesting.

Thanks for reading! Before you go, please tell me, what do you think is the best way to get rid of stress? So many people have great ideas and I’d love to hear yours!

Opening new doors…er, curtains!

Follow Me on Pinterest

I think anyone browsing Pinterest long enough will develop
the “organization bug”.
I have done several projects around my
teeny tiny apartment
for decoration, organization, and improved functionality.

Pinterest is like my inner Domestic Goddess’ heaven. 

Today’s post is about closet organization.
My new apartment has, what I call,
a tension-rod-organizer-rack-thingy.

It looks like this right now:

Yes, that’s my new apartment!

Now I want to show you my inspiration for what it is to become.
Please help me by choosing your favorites!
(Click on the picture for original source)


open and wonderfully colorful
[to keep me from wearing all black!]

Continue reading

I Have Jitters!

Hey all. This is a more personal post, mostly put here because a huge event is about to take place. I’m moving!

Okay, so it’s not that exciting because I’ve done it 3 times in the past 3 years. If I didn’t mention it before, I’m an ESL teacher in South Korea. This means that, with the awesomeness that comes from living abroad, I also get the added perk of living pretty much scott-free. Yep. FREE.

Downside? Living in a Studio Apartment.

Now, I’m not trying to say I’m not thankful for having a rent-free living situation, but I will gripe a little bit on this: studio apartments in Virginia (my homestate) sometimes look like this:

HUGE kitchen and island, behind the wall is the bedroom

Continue reading

Korea “K”asserole!

Cooking comfort foods in Korea can be tough,
especially on a diet AND a budget!

So far I’ve been able to reconstruct some of my favorite foods here,
even with limited access to Western brands and ingredients.
It takes some creativity, but it can be done…

Enter, “Korean Kasserole“!

First, assemble all ingredients.
Really, anything you want to put in there is going to come out tasty, so go on.

I was cleaning out my pantry, so in went a bunch of onion, bok choy, chicken,
mushrooms, cheese, and even a box of Stove Top
(no, I haven’t been able to find this in Korea yet!)

I used macaroni noodles as the base for my Kasserole.
Other recipes call for other things, but remember, this is comfort food!
Anything goes!

tiny 2 burner stove..
making soup in a cast iron skillet…ha!

Since there is no “cream of” soup here, I used a Mushroom Soup packet
and thickened it up with flour.

Once that’s finished, set aside and LIGHTLY BROWN your chicken breast.
It needs to be at least halfway cooked before going into the oven.

While boiling pasta and thickening up your soup, cut up all your veggies
into nice, bite size (or smaller) pieces.


Here’s the fun part, assembly!
There’s no “right” way to do this. I dumped in the macaroni, soup,
and all the other ingredients and stirred.

Make your stuffing according to the most convenient option available to you…
(I only have 2 burners on my “stove” so I used the microwave)
…and toss it on top!

Then you shove it into your toaster oven and set the dial to 190C/375F
for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired gooeyness.

I am by no means a great FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER
but here’s what it looks like when you put it on your plate,
in the dark of your studio apartment,
right before gobbling it up and getting seconds.
(And thirds.)

how do you like that super cute portion plate?!


If you want to know the secrets for how to make your OWN, see below:

Korean Kasserole
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 20min, Cooking time: 20min

1 cup macaroni noodles (boiled to al dente, not rinsed)
1/2 packet of Oteggi Mushroom Cream Soup (prepared according to packet, thickened with flour)
200g chicken breast, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 bunches of bok choy, roughly chopped
8 mushrooms, finely chopped
(more veggies welcomed)

1. Preheat your toaster oven to 190C/375F.
2. Line casserole dish or cake pan with baking spray or butter.
3. Lightly brown chicken, boil noodles, and warm up the soup.
4. Mix all ingredients together. Soup, Macaroni, and Veggies.
5. Prepare stuffing mix (or breadcrumbs) and sprinkle on top.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until suitably gooey/crispy according to desired taste.
7. Season with salt, pepper, celery flakes, oregano, and/or other seasonings of choice.
8. DIG IN!

Let me know what you think. What other foods would you like to see me make in my itty bitty apartment kitchen?