Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alpha in Namdaemun

When I first moved to Korea, almost five years ago, our school took us on a trip to Namedaemun to go to Aplha to pick up school supplies.  I still remember how overwhelmed, excited, overstimulated, frustrated, and claustrophobic I was.  

Namdaemun is one of the largest market places in Seoul and I suppose it's sort of a tourist destination--but I only go there to go to Alpha.  

I love shopping in America because of the variety, and since I grew up there, I can find pretty much anything I'm looking for.  Korea is frustrating sometimes because you know what you need, but it's hard to find it.  Or...you can't find it.  That's one of the key defining points of being "American" I'd say...is there are SO MANY CHOICES for EVERYTHING...some see this as a good thing, but truly, when you step outside of it...much of it just looks like excess. I mean, how many brands of water do you truly need?  It is a product of Americans' value of individuality.  

Anyhow, once you know where to look, you can generally find what you're looking for in Korea.  I've been wanting to gather some supplies to work on my Project Life album but just had no time or energy to invest into going to Alpha.  

Alpha is a chain store you can find all over Seoul.  There's a small one by my house in Hannam-dong where I can take my USB and the guy will print color pages for me for 500W or about 50 cents!  The largest one I've ever been to is in Namdaemun and it's just massive.  You can see in one of the pictures close to the bottom of the post--there are five floors with more than twenty rooms filled with school, office, craft, and art supplies.  Below you can see pictures from the "Pen" room, the "Folder" room, the "Paper" room and the "Art" room. (Aptly named by myself.)

I went on Friday after our half day of school and it felt refreshing to get out and walk around the market--I rarely go there. 

It's easy to get frustrated there though...I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (a rounded corner punch and a mini paper cutter/trimmer)...but I was able to find a few things that I was looking for.  (cardstock, scrapbooking pens, date stamp) Also, the rooms are so packed and people are so pushy, it's easy to get claustrophobic   I'd recommend not wearing a winter coat!  By the grace of God I ran into my old roommate and mentioned I couldn't find the paper punch I was looking for...she said she had one and the that very day she put one in my school mail box!  I was very thankful.  

Namdaemun is located in the heart of Seoul.  It is a quick cab ride from my house.  I never know what gate it is so they always drop me off on the other side of the market and I have to walk all the way through.  There are just hundreds of stores/shops.  Maybe thousands.  It all looks like junk, but if you know Korea, you know there are some gems in there...

Since I actually took pictures for the first time, I now know that Alpha is located right by Gate 1!  There is a photo at the bottom of an old Korean gate...it looks like it is under construction...I'm pretty sure it's the rebuilding of one that was burned down 5 years ago...but I'm not positive! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's Almost Here!

It's just so close!  I can surely smell it and I can almost taste it...


Now that I'm old and good and settled down I'm so excited, for the first time ever, to have nearly 10 days to DO what I WANT TO DO.

Ever since I signed up for Pinterest, I've been feeling the domestic itch.  Which is comical because "domestic" it's the last thing anyone of my friends in college or Guatemala would ever call me.

Wait, "domestic" is that like, a domestic cat?  No, domesticated.  Never mind.

ANYWHOO...my Spring Break list is so long, I'm wondering if 9.5 days will be enough to fit it all in!

Today is a half day of school then it’s party time!

My “Wish To Do” List
  • spring cleaning--time to rearrange, de-clutter and downsize!
  • finish wedding thank you cards--this is almost too embarrassing to admit but since I'm the only one who reads this…
  • make my nephew’s 1st Birthday invitations
  • get back on track with my Bible reading plan
  • start Project Life--we bought the pages over the summer...and have done absolutely nothing
  • go to Alpha in Namdaemun to get things for the scrapbook
  • go to the dentist
  • get my haircut 
  • make curtains
  • go to Happy Quilt and pick fabric to make a quilt (someday)
  • go to Dongdaemun for thread to continue my cross stitch projects and pom poms for my curtains and get lost for hours in the aisles
  • start a new cross stitch pattern
  • make curtains for our bedroom
  • racquetball with my man
  • dinner dates with my man
  • LOOK at our honeymoon pictures--(we're behind in life)
  • Plan 4th quarter--(more time DURING 4th quarter to do this kind of stuff)
  • Finish all my unit maps--(a lofty goal)
  • attempt make guatemalan frijoles
  • make a few new meals 
  • broaden my HTML/CSS skillz by taking Style e-course -- which will help me create my sister’s blog!
  • sell all my old books at What the Book and get a few new ones in return 
  • brunch with our friends and their sweet boys 
  • do yoga
  • buy new clothes because my ones from 10 years ago are falling apart (slight exaggeration)
  • buy herbs/plants/at the VERY least some lovely fresh cut flowers 
  • blog--LOL
  • take photos  
  • help with Awana Bible Quiz
  • make treats for Bible study small group/host them at our home
Is this insane?  Maybe.

But our life is insane.  

As long as we can not stay up too late watching The Walking Dead or Shark Tank...I might be able to make a good dent in the list!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Korean Food 1: Mandu

One more week...ONE more week until Spring Break.  Four and a half teaching days...I can barely contain myself, I am SO EXCITED.  So ready.  I can't wait to have nine days to myself (and my man). I'm so overwhelmed and inundated with work, school, and things I signed up for...I just can't WAIT to have those nine days to cross some things of my "wishlist".

This one's been on that list forever, and I decided to tackle it on a quiet Friday night alone.  I have a goal to cook five Korean foods before I turn thirty.  Technically, this is my fourth...but I didn't document the other three, so I suppose I'll go back and remake them and photograph them...or maybe not.

I've wanted to make Mandu (Korean dumplings) for forever!  I bought the ground beef and pork months ago and it's been in the freezer with a "Mandu" label mocking me every time I go through the meat box.  I finally made time to make them!

Mandu is so good.  You can eat it steamed, in soup, or fried.  Of course...fried is the best.

I got my recipe from Maangchi which has super helpful tutorials for making Korean food!  Thank you Maangchi, whatever that means.

They were delicious!  Also time consuming!  But it was so nice to sit in a quiet house after dealing with 100+ middleschoolers all day and wrap mandus.  I had too much filling so I've gotta buy more wrappers tomorrow...and I'll be at it again.  I'll be able to freeze the leftovers (about 60) and eat them whenever.  I really don't like cooking the mandu...the oil gets everwhere...I've gotta figure out a better way to do it.

My man claims he doesn't like these so I guess I'll have to eat them all my self...RATS!!!

Photo notes:
1) err..I didn't notice until I uploaded this picture that I didn't even use fish sauce in the recipe...oops
2) Mandu wrappers + video on iPad = Korean food made easy!
3) ew sorry about the raw ground beef/pork...other characters include asian green onions, tofu, onions, garlic, shitake mushrooms, and sesame oil.
4) The first one was so ugly I just had to show you.
5) My favorite pic!  They're not perfect but I kinda got the hand of it..
6) nom nom nom