Thursday, May 31, 2012

Maisan hike

We were very fortunate to have a four day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day.  Friday night we chilled on the couch with burgers and The Office.  Saturday we relaxed with coffee for hours, then bought our first grill and made kebabs for dinner.  Sunday we hiked at Maisan Provincial Park, and indulged at a Brazilian grill for dinner.  Monday we spent the day at Mallipo Beach, then came back and enjoyed sushi at Izmir's Japanese Fusion Restaurant (we think the fusion is between Turkey -Izmir + "turkish" decorations inside- and Japan -they serve sushi and Asian food).

Our plan was to hike the "Horse Ears" at Maisan, but we got to the top of these stairs (there were so many stairs!!) and discovered the trail was currently closed.  We were really disappointed, but thought we might be able to catch another trail on the other side of the temple.  (Sorry about the thumb in the picture.  My cropping is not saving for some reason.)

The lanterns are out to celebrate Buddha's birthday.  Inside this temple, a monk is praying to a gold Buddha statue.  Everytime we see a temple, a monk, or people practicing Buddhism, I just pray.  I pray hard for them to know the Truth.

I think these people are making kimchi.  See the kimchi urns on the hillside?  

This area was the main attraction.  The rock formations that look kind of like cairns are pagodas, made entirely of piled stones without mortar.  The picture below is the plaque that describes their story.    

The lake offered swan-shaped paddle boats.  We thought about renting a few and playing bumper boats, but thought that might be frowned upon.  We walked through a market area filled with trinkets to buy and amazing-smelling barbecued ribs or galbi.  There was beautiful furniture and pottery.  There was also an area with a bunch of birds (peacocks, chickens, pheasants, tropical-looking birds) in cages.  I don't know what those were for.  

Eventually we came to what looked like a good trail.  It took us several miles through the woods.  The trail was the most steep I have ever been on.  What Korea lacks in elevation it certainly makes up for in grade!  These trails did not use switchbacks whatsoever.  If the mountain goes straight down or straight up, so do you!  At its steepest, there would be a guardrail on the side, which we used to hand-over-hand climb and pull our way to the top.  At other places, there were rubber mats covering the hillside to give you traction as you trekked.

It was all worth it for this gorgeous view.  Layered mountains with their characteristic gray blue haze is one of my favorite sights in the whole world.  This, by the way, is about as clear as it ever gets in Korea.

This is Horse Ear mountain, the one we planned to climb.  We hope to come back when the trail is open.

Husband and I:  sweaty, tired, and oh-so-happy.  Recreation is such a perfect word.  I recreate outdoors and my heart and soul are re-created joyful and new.

Friday, May 25, 2012

On productivity and permission


That is how I feel right now.  Attractive, right?

I feel like I have been so unproductive the past few weeks.  I think that's because I have been so unproductive the past few weeks.

That is true, but it's also been a season of so many little things to get done, which don't really add up to feeling like you accomplished anything.  Sometimes those little things are hard to measure.

I'm also realizing I have done a lot of talking at people about giving themselves permission, basically permission to be easier on themselves.  Today, five minutes ago, I realized I need to do this for myself.  

I started Joy Before You, and I have been super excited about it.  I was excited to write, excited to get the word out, excited about what it could maybe, possibly, some day become.  And with that came so much pressure to perform, to have frequent posts, to have perfect posts, to do everything all at once.  

I needed it to be my job.  I set work hours for myself, but I could never follow through.  The problem with working from home is your work is at the mercy of anything and everything else that is going on.  My life is so flexible, that it makes it hard to actually accomplish anything sometimes.  And sometimes I make my life all about accomplishing something, all about make it perfect.

I have made lists of plans and goals and priorities.  Why then don't I simply hold myself to those things?  Why do I always feel the need to measure up to the world?  I am not the world and I don't want to be either.  So much of the world is so unimportant to me.  

I want desperately to rest in the comfort of Truth, and Love, and Peace.  In that place it is totally okay to be on a journey.  I don't have to worry before God about what I have or have not accomplished.  He is concerned with my character and my heart, not the checks on my to-do list or the bullets on my resume.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Korea photo montage

Who doesn't love a montage?

I needed a break from blogging after posting all those recipes.  I'm back now, but overwhelmed with pictures.  There are so many!  Almost everything seems picture-worthy here, and I did have explicit directions to document this experience.  

There are some specific adventures I'd like to share, but I may never get to them if I don't start with this to cover my bases.  I know some of you are wondering what in the world I've been up to.  I have been in Korea for over three months now!  There has been a lot going on!

For starters, my Husband flies this!  And that's a Patriot missile in the background.  We are well-protected in so many ways:)

When Korea first began to thaw, the fields looked like this.  They added manure and tilled the soil.  Some of the fields still look like this, but many others are well into their growing season.

We've seen a lot of stuff like this.  We've even sort of eaten stuff like this, but not always with realizing it.

The chickens that live at the bus stop.

I went to Dandaemun with friends and saw more craft supplies than I knew existed.  This place has Hobby Lobby beat, hands down.

I also saw this -don't remember what this "toy store alley" was called- and all the little doo-hickies totally made me think of Dad:)

These are udon noodles.  The pink thing turns out to be a fish cake.  I didn't eat it, but I did try the (I think) bean pancakes floating in there.  They were alright.

I got my first Korean haircut, by actual Koreans.  I wasn't exactly sure what was happening most of the time, but it turned out great.

This is mostly a picture of the cool spoon (it reminded me of the Spaghettio's spoon with my name on it when I was a kid) at From Inn, the best/cutest/most awesome coffee shop in Songtan.  The iced coffee came in a little pitcher on a wooden tray with a gingersnap.

Charlie and I walk all over our neighborhood every day.

Sometimes he sniffs intently.

This church is a block away from our apartment.  It reminds me that God is everywhere.


This is a home near us on "the road with all the barking dogs".  It's not a great angle, yet I am literally up against the house on the other side of the road taking the picture.

More fields are sprouting!

Charlie is always ready to play.  He loves Korea.  Contrary to what we were told, there are many dogs here.  They mostly come in two varieties:  white watchdog and cutesy purse dog with pink hair.

My Korean friend told me this is a Tree Lotus.  It also comes in pink.  They are everywhere at the end of April -along with the Cherry Blossoms.  There are so many that Koreans sweep up their petals with straw brooms.

We visited Gyeryongsan National Park in Gongju, about two hours south of us in central Korea.  It was gorgeous with rain and low misty clouds.  (I just noticed my pictures did not upload in the order I selected them, which is too bad because I am currently too lazy to click-and-drag them into chronological order.  It will just add to the montage feel, I think:)

On one of our first warm, sunny days I took Charlie outside and he promptly laid down in the warm sunshine!  He could have cared less about going to the bathroom.  He was in heaven:)

These green houses are growing cucumbers!  And Korean cucumbers are good!

I am excited about a) my new half price BX purchase, and b) that it is now officially warm enough for flats.  (This was a few weeks ago.  Now it is definitely sandal weather!)

(Yup, pictures are definitely out of order!  I am using this as an opportunity to ignore my obsessive compulsive organizational tendencies.)  We went to Seoul for a rooftop party to celebrate all the lieutenants here in Korea being promoted to captains.  They paid for everything -well that is until the 4,000,000 won tab ran out (a little less than $4,000), at which point a friend and I purchased these delicious coffee martinis!

We stayed at the beautiful Imperial Palace Hotel in Seoul.  It had a bible in the nightstand drawer.

Eye opening, huh?  This is in Luke.

My bestie had a baby!!  I am so excited to see them both in just a few weeks!

If you've ever heard Husband or I talk about "the Snack-o" and wondered what that meant, here is an image for you.

We had an awesome Mustache March party, featuring these awesome mustache wine glasses.  We also got to judge the guys' 'staches, which was hilarious.

More than sprouting now!  These are onions near our apartment.

I went to a place called Rosary Hill in Namsang with friends from church.  We went to mass in Korean, where we took off our shoes and sat on the floor.  The only words I understood were "gamsa hamnida" which means "thank you".  I came home and read about the rosary (and many more things) in my new, free copy of Catholicism for Dummies.  I could hardly get enough of it.  It's helping to answer a lot of long-wondered questions about the Catholic Church. 

Back to Gyeryongsan N.P.  There were several waterfalls along our rainy hike.  It was also quite steep and sometimes I had to cling to the metal railing to keep from joining the cascading water.  By the way, in my book this still counts as fun:)

At Rosary Hill again, a Korean woman walking a long the bigger-than-life-size outdoor rosary.  Yes, she is carrying an umbrella to shade the sun.  Yes, how very Asian of her:)  (I love it!)  Also, the flowers were gorgeous that day.  Korea has amazing flowers.

Charlie on the bed, burrowing between pillows.  Sometimes life is just too much.  Sometimes we just need more pillows.

The rainy, misty clouds at Gyeryongsan.

Apparently some of those cucumbers are no good (along the razor wire fence bordering the base).

I didn't realize until we got back in the car that my rain gear had soaked completely through.  When I finally get some pictures from a few friends, I will show you the amazing Korean meal (bulgogi duck with 20 bachan/sides!) we ate after this hike.  We did not know what we were talking about and the waitress patiently convinced us we did not, in fact, want two table-sized orders of food.

The rice is starting to grow!

Did I mention there are a lot of beautiful flowers!  Some are new, and some are the same ones that were around our house when I was a kid:)

Rice paddy kittens are sooo cute.


I only know how to use a few functions on our washer:  standard, temperature, 1-5 spins, and amount of time to try.  What do you do with 5 spin cycles?

They pop up ones every day.

Together with another friend, we visited Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.  It was built when the king at the time wanted the capitol to be moved from Seoul to Suwon.  He built the wall, and after he died no one followed through with moving the capitol...

Suwon is like a mini-Seoul.  It is so clean and they actually have open park space.  It was lovely!

Christian church in Suwon.

Me on the path around the wall.

They had archery (I don't remember why).  We laughed about how un-American it was.  What we meant was, there were no barriers between spectators and those shooting the arrows.  And there were kids shooting arrows.  They could have just turned and shot them anywhere.  In the U.S. someone would have filed a lawsuit by now!

We also stopped at a convenience store here and got milkshakes in bags...not sure how else to explain that...

Me in our gorgeous hotel in Seoul the night of the promo party.  I'm so thankful for, because it is through them we found a place half the price of the other hotels, but where they also spoke English.  Remind me to tell you about the awesome Korean toilets there (way better than squatty potties)!

Up on our roof the other day.  Charlie was licking up yellow dust and paint chips.  I finally picked him up to stop him, and Husband had to take a picture to show how relaxed Charlie is being held.  He is such a lap dog!

I've been cooking a lot and photographing my food a lot.  With the exception of the past week, we have been eating so well, which has made my body feel amazing!

I got these at a midnight flower market in Seoul.  We didn't go at midnight; we went mid-morning, which allowed us to get a few deals before they closed.  The whole place is filled with fresh-cut flowers!  It's amazing and smells beautiful.  

Well, that makes for an abrupt end to my Korea Photo Montage.  I hope you enjoyed it:)  

Soon we will also be making a trip to Busan, down on Korea's southern coast.  We hope to scope it out so we know where to take Mike and Cindy when they come visit this fall.  We also might attempt kite-boarding there, but I have not yet decided if I'm going to leave that up to Matt or join in.  

It's hard to believe it's already mid-May.  Enjoy the beautiful weather, everyone!!
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