Monday, April 29, 2013

Thankful For ~ (A Monday Evening in Late April)

18. Pretty herbs from the back of a truck on the side of the street.
19. New opportunities.
20. Hard work and the reward of the end of the school year.
21. Old students (high schoolers) who are starting a club to help people escape North Korea who asked me to be their sponsor.
22. Fresh foods and delicious dinners.
23. My man and how hard he works I am just in awe all the time.
24. Encouragement and help from coworkers.
25. Fourth grade girls who won't stop talking my ear off at Awana.
26. A week with a Wednesday off school!

Thankful For ~ (A Sunday Morning in Late April)

11.  A beautiful spring day after a long winter.
12.  Riding on the back of my man's motorcycle through Gangnam.
13.  A church we look forward to going to.
14.  A lovely day celebrating our small group leader's birthday on the last day of our small group.
15.  The opportunity to get to know other couples at our church.
16.  God's living and active Word.
17. The book Marriage Builders by Larry Crabb and the principals it taught us.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Our First Successful Costco Delivery

What a wonderful morning!

Here's a not so fun fact for you.  Did you know that at my local supermarket asparagus costs a dollar a piece here in Korea?  Yes I mean like one stick of asparagus is a dollar.

And did you know that avocados run about 4-5 dollars?

Food here is very expensive.  Even Kimchi.

Restaurants are pretty reasonable, but if you're going to be cooking your own meals it can really add up.  Especially if you're cooking western foods.

One way you can combat that is by shopping at Costco.  Yea!!  They made it all the way over here.  They don't have as much as in America of course, but to us it's a wonderful treat.  My favorite things to buy there are meat and produce.

There you can get 26 stalks of asparagus for 13,000 won which is about $12.00.  (.50 a stalk...that still is insane!)

And I can get five avocados at the same price which puts them at about $2.50 which is expensive but doable.  $5.00 is not.

ANYWHOO...I love going to Costco but oftentimes find it hard to fit into my schedule.  A school van goes on Thursdays after school, but I tutor those days and often times am too tired to go.  Also the van ride makes me car sick!

The other alternative is renting the school van or going with a friend, both of which we have done.

The most fun thing we've done so far though is gotten COSTCO DELIVERY!!!

Julie alerted me to it (as well as iHerb, God bless her soul) as she just learned about it a few months ago.

Here's the website.  It's not Costco, but a company that delivers their goods.  I end up having to pay about five bucks shipping plus 75 cents per item, but it's totally worth it to get the things delivered straight to our door on Saturday morning.  Every other time we go it ends up being a half-day ordeal.

I was so excited when she first told me but had a few problems the first few times a tried to order.  This is not fun seeing as I don't speak Korean.

I decided to try one more time (third time's a charm) and few hours ago we heard our buzzer and I knew it worked!

Although they don't deliver meat (yet) I'm so excited because all I have to do now is order at the end of the school day on Friday and it will be delivered to our house on Saturday in the early afternoon.

It's a great way for us to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and stock up on items such as butter, cheese, and frozen fish.

I was just so thankful this morning.  I'm trying to cook more and cook more healthfully for us and I know this will be a step in that direction!

My First Quilt-An Adventure ~ Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5

Pinterest made me want to be all domestic and stuff so I blame all this on them.  Ever since I laid eyes on this quilt I knew I wanted to make something (very) similar.  I even have a whole board dedicated to quilts now entitled Gah So Lovely because Gah they are so lovely!

The problem was I have no sewing machine and furthermore no idea how to sew.  But as they say, where there's a will, (and the Internet) there's a way.

So I've begun my journey of sewing my first quilt.

Step 1 requires a post to itself but let's just say I took a four hour (there and back) journey to the most awesomest fabric store in the woooooorrrlllddd!!  I'll tell you about it soon.  I returned with loads of beautiful fabric for cheap cheap prices.

Step 2 ~ I chose these six colors for my first quilt.  I'm not ready for patterns and was inspired by this simple triangle quilt.  I followed this tutorial which is not the exact same (not equilateral triangles) but I think it will be much easier.   Luckily I had a self-healing mat, a rotary cutter, and a quilt ruler from another project I worked on over Christmas, so I got to cutting right away.  THIS is something I could do.

Step 3 ~ I borrowed a sewing machine from a friend at work while she was on Spring Break.  I watched these free sewing machine 101 videos from craftsy.com.  I supplemented this with a PDF of the sewing manual that was nearly impossible to use because the illustrations were so poor.  After much frustration I finally got it going, and was pretty excited to see that the machine ACTUALLY made stitches.  However, I could tell that something was wrong.  It felt too loose.  And it looked horrible.  When I turned it over I saw a complete disaster. My man and I were laughing so hard.

Step 4 ~ Two heads are better than one, so they say.  I'm so thankful about the same time I said I wanted to make a quilt, my oldest and closest friend here Julie said she wanted to too!  Her husband bought her a sewing machine recently, so a few Fridays ago we got together and tried to figure  out how to make them work.  After many hours and one broken needle, we were finally able to make some lines! By the grace of God I was able to get the old sewing machine working and I made my first mini-quilt hahahaha.

Step 5 ~ We had so much fun the first time around that we decided to do it again!  This time I had given up the sewing machine back to my coworker, so I spent most of my time ironing and cutting my triangles.  I have half of them done now...and it only took me about three hours! (maybe more)  I still can't figure out the best way to do it but I know it comes with practice.  Julie made some bunting flags for her son's third birthday.  They turned out soo cute!!  She's about half way done as well.  As it neared 1:00 am I packed up my stuff and headed home, satisfied with my stack of triangles and my first multi-colored quilting experiments.  They're kind of puckery and definitely not perfect, but I'm happy to practice more and learn the ropes!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Favorite Foods-Budae Chigae 부대찌개

I love living in a country that gives me so many food experiences that I didn't grow up with.  I never loved eating until I moved to Korea.  Now (nearly) every experience is a true treat and pleasure.

Maybe I'll start posting about some of my favorite foods.  Somewhere in the top ten would have to be Buddae Chiggae 부대찌개.  I think it translates to "Army Soup".  It's not a true Korean food, but was developed during the Korean war.  Apparently there wasn't that much meat around during those days so they took whatever "meat" was leftover from the American army bases (hotdogs and Spam), mixed it with a bunch of other junk and this treasure was born. 

I eat neither hotdogs nor Spam, but can't resist the charms of this soup/stew. 

One thing everyone loves about Korean food is how they cook it right in front of you.  Seems rustic or something.  

The meal starts with big metal bowl that's filled with leeks and other greens, ham, baloney, pepperoni, Spam, hot dogs, ground beef, rice cake, dumplings, red pepper paste, and probably a bunch of other things I'm forgetting. Then they pour a broth (I think it's ox bone broth which makes it so delicious) on top and you mix it around till it's nice and cooked.  At the end you throw on some Ramen noodels and a piece of American cheese and you're good to go.  You take some from the big bowl into your smaller bowl and eat it with rice.  It's pretty spicy on account of the red pepper paste but I wouldn't have it any other way.  

It's probably one of the most unhealthy things I eat here but we just love it!!

We used to go every day after church, it's especially delicious in the winter time.  We don't go as frequently anymore, but every time we do I'm positively giddy.  

You can get this at many different types of restaurants.  Each restaurant makes it differently.  My favorite place to get it is at a chain restaurant called NolBu Budae Chigae.  Nowhere else compares.  I can pick one out from a block away.

Over Spring Break I dragged my man to the flower market and was so pumped to find the restaurant in the subway system.  Even though it was 10:30 am he let me eat it and it was the weirdest but most delicious breakfast I've ever had!  

Friday, April 19, 2013

History Fair 2013

This year is my man's first year teaching 8th Grade U.S. History at our school.  We're having a blast working together.  Our classrooms are just down the hall from each other and we love it that way!  On Thursday, the second half of the school day, all the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders packed the Gym for the history fair.  This year the kids did a "living wax museum" -- dressing up like their chosen character and giving a quick speech to anyone who pressed their button.  The kids worked pretty hard and I had a blast getting pictures of everyone.  Below are some examples of the 7th Grade (Important figures who changed Africa or Asia) and the 8th Grade (Figures of American History)  costumes.  If you can look at these without smiling you may have a cold cold heart!  Do you recognize anyone?

Thankful For (a Thursday night in April)

1. A husband who makes weekly men's Bible study a priority.  Iron sharpening iron.
2. An English bookstore that allowed me to trade in my old books for cash and store credit.
3. The Thai restaurant above the bookstore that gave me free Thai tea with my take out.
4. The opportunity to order any English book from the bookstore.
5. My new coding book that finally came in!!
6. A city where walking home is totally an option.
7. A few free hours to edit photos in silence.
8. Our Christmas+Birthday present that lets me edit those photos!  Thank you Babyyy!
9. The first Thursday night alone in a while where I'm not panicking waiting for North Korea to attack.
10. Breath in my lungs and another day to grow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

As The Rains Come Down...

The most wonderful surprise unfolds daily at my house.

A few weeks ago, on the first day of Spring Break, I took a photo of a budding tree in our [landlord's] yard.  It overhangs our patio and I was excited to take pictures of its growth and progress.  Around the end of the week, as the buds began to open, I realized it was a Cherry Blossom tree!!  I had no idea!  Since we moved into our house in July, the tree's blooming period was finished.

Cherry Blossom trees are beautiful in full bloom and their flowers only last for a week or two.  Their sweet smell begs me to stay a few more minutes by them after I've taken my photographs.  Countries all over the world hold Cherry Blossom Festivals, including Japan, Korea, and even the United States in Washington D.C.  They are lining the walk to our school and every year their blooms are a hopeful promise of warmer weather and a beautiful spring to come.

The winters are long in Korea and Spring is always anxiously awaited. At this time every year I'm reminded of God's promises and graces.  There's a lyric from the song "Wholly Yours" by David Crowder Band that I've always loved, and I always remember at Springtime.
I am full of earth
You are heaven's worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From the broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt
What a lovely image of how the flowers come up from the cold earth, it's exactly like God's grace with us.  He makes beautiful, fresh, new things out of our dirt and messes.

My man and I are "working" on a Project Life [scrapbook] album and I created and printed out this verse from Isaiah 55 to put in there.  This verse is close to my heart.

This verse reminds us how precious God's word is.  JUST like the rain that God sends at the exact right time, which makes flowers bud and fruit grow, his WORD will accomplish exactly what He desires, when He desires it.  It's hard to remember that sometimes.  Sometimes it's hard to believe His promises because it seems like what I am expecting isn't happening.  But I know God works on his own time, not on mine.

Looking back at verses 8-9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts.
I want these truths to drive how I live and act daily!

The rains may come, sometime thunderstorms...

but hey, those are what made my Cherry Blossom Tree bloom. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Trusting in God's Promises

This post has taken me a long time to write.

I love living in Korea but the recent threats from the North have proven difficult for me to process.  While the Western media has new articles every day about the crazy talk from Kim Jung-Un's mouth people in South Korea go on about their lives without so much as batting an eye...or so it seems.

The American embassy sent out an email on April 5th reassuring us that
"The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that despite current political tensions with North Korea there is no specific information to suggest there are imminent threats to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea (ROK).  The Embassy has not changed its security posture and we have not recommended that U.S. citizens who reside in, or plan to visit, the Republic of Korea take special security precautions at this time.  The U.S. Embassy takes as its highest priority the welfare of American citizens in Korea.  Should the security situation change, the Embassy will issue updated information."
but I just can't seem to shake my fear and anxiety.   Loud noises scare my and my heart races and my mind starts to flutter and sometimes I have trouble sleeping.

Most of my coworkers seem to go about their days with not a worry in the world so I'm sitting here wondering what's wrong with me.

I think some of it stems from a bad experience with a plane this past summer...I thought we were done for, and I distinctly remember thinking all at once that I wasn't ready to die...that I had so much to live for...but at the same time, if I did, I would be with the Lord.  I was scared of the pain but not scared of death.

Now those fears don't last just the two or three minutes they lasted on that plane, but it's been on my mind for days and weeks.  I just want the threats to end.  Oh and I want the millions of starving people in North Korea to find freedom and hope.  It all seems like such an insurmountable problem.

I have NO IDEA how people make it in life apart from the Lord.  What is there to hope in aside from His promises?  What else is there to cling to when all is lost?  For by now all of us surely know that our lives are but a breath.  Relationships are tainted with selfishness.  Our material possessions will rot and our works won't be remembered.

What else is there?  My heart breaks for those who have no hope in Him or who have rejected Him completely.

These days I just want to tune out, I try and turn off and numb my mind and fill it with worthless junk.  What God is calling me is to draw close to him.  I'm just so scared but His word is filled with hope and encouragement for the hopeless and helpless.
~ Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7
~ The Lord is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1
~ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6
~ For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father." ~ Romans 8:15
~ Therefore do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  Fo our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
~ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  ~ Romans 1:1-5
~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~ Romans 12:12
~ One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. ~ Psalm 27:5
Please pray for us.  Please pray for our safety.  Please pray for the people of North Korea and the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to the leaders.  Please pray for peace between the two countries.  Please pray for my anxiety and that I would not live in fear of man but in fear of the Lord.  Please pray that this will strengthen my relationship with the Lord and my dependency on him.  Please pray for my sweet husband that he will know how to deal with me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Love iHerb.com!

Living in Asia of course means less access to typical "Western" things.  And unless you live on an American army base, shipping prices are outrageous!  I can only hope for the day Amazon, Zappos, and Williams-Sonoma offers reasonable shipping prices to Korea.

For four years I did without many things I wish I could have had.  This year my friend told me about iHerb.com, and I began hearing the buzz from other people.  iHerb sells "nutritional supplements and other healthy products" which is something I've had a particularly difficult time finding here.

iHerb offers competitive prices on thousand upon thousands of items on everything in categories such as supplements, bath and beauty, grocery, kids and baby, and the ambiguous "other".  (I just looked at "other"...there's so much more!)

It seems like their rates are always changing, but for now it's free shipping + zero tax for items over $40.00 in the U.S. and


This is unprecedented!  Their prices for shipping have fluctuated over the past few months, but they've decided to keep it cool at $4.00 for us over here.  I have no idea how they make it happen but I think all other manufacturers and distributers need to get on this train!

Also, the goods come in 3-4 days.  It's cray cray.

In addition, they offer a Rewards Program where each shopper gets a code to share with others.  If you use my code, I get a percentage and YOU get a deal.  Please use it!!!! Please!

If you use my code ZLV011 you can get $10.00 off an order of $40.00 or more, or $5.00 off a smaller order.

And of course you'll get your own code.  And a lot of awesome stuff.

Here are just some of my most favorite things I've bought from iHerb recently:

1.  Ghiradelli Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder  $5.52-- This is all I use when I make chocolate cupcakes and other baked goods.  Compare this with $9.49 at amazon.com!

2.  Attitude Hand Soap~Essential Oils Lime and Lavender $4.50-- I bought this on an whim and it is the most lovely smelling handsoap I've ever owned.  

3.  Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips $4.05-- I've also bought their baking bars, but I love that this is a hefty 12 oz bag...they melt up real nice for chocolate recipes! $4.75 on their own site.  

4. King Arthur Cake Flour $4.61-- Ok I haven't used this yet, but I'm so excited to make angel food cupcakes, I just needed this to get started! You totally can't find this kind of stuff in Korea. $4.95 on their own site. 

5.  Mrs. Meyers Basil Scented Dish Soap $4.16-- Everyone talked about how great this was and, well, they were right.  I also like Method brand dish soaps.  

6.  King Arthur Bread Flour $8.40 -- So lovely in a few things I've made.  Makes bread extra chewy mmm...(this is more expensive than I can find on their website)

7.  Simply Organic Chili Powder $4.45 -- Actually I've been trying to replace all of my spices with Simply Organic...they are potent and there's a ton.  They're also clearly labeled.  I compared a whiff of this to the one that had been in my cabinet for over a year and couldn't believe the difference! $5.59 on their own site.  

8.  Now Healthy Food Quinoa $5.69 -- I've heard so much about this and was so excited to get some, considering it's W18,000 ($16.00) at my High Street Market, (a near-by foreign foods store)...you've got to be kidding me!! $10.24 on Amazon

9.  Chocolove Raspberries in Dark Chocolate $2.70-- Just so so delicious!  I love candy so much so I feel like this might actually be good for me?  There are pieces of freeze dried raspberries in there and they take away the edge of the dark chocolate.  So lovely.  

There are tons of great brands and tons more I want to try...especially as I'm looking into eating healthier and cleaner for me and my man.  

Check it out, be blessed, and use my code! :)