Monday, May 31, 2010

Ben: Pick the Daejeon King Day

It's time for local elections in Korea, or "Pick the Daejeon King Day" as my students told me it was called while lobbying hard for Ewha to close down for election day. Elections in Korea are a little different than elections in America. For one less than a month ago we had no idea they were even on their way. Then suddenly streets and buildings were covered with massive banners.

This poster is for Candidate Number 2! His color scheme is lime green and red! Each candidate has their own number and color scheme, which is good because otherwise they all look like the exact same slightly chubby, middle aged Korean male.

Here is part of a rally for Candidate1. His theme appears to be blue and red. The stand that the man in the center is speaking from (right next to the giant TV screen) is actually the back of a truck. These trucks have been driving around blaring music, speeches, and other general nonsense for the past couple of weeks.

Here's the same truck from another angle. I'm not sure if they have to buy those uniforms, or the campaign issues it to them, or if they're actually provided by the government for each candidate to use. There are all identical though. I especially like the row of people just standing stiffly in front of the truck. It almost looks as is they are there to be the muscle protecting the speaker on the truck, just in case Candidate 2's goons stop by to disrupt the rally.

Here is one final picture of Candidate 1's truck. This day his man was doing a speech for him, but last week it was just loud, Lord of the Ringish music accompanying a video of the Candidate walking around, giving talks, serving in the army, and other really not so epic things.

If you want to get a sense of the volume (and the awesome music that is played) you should stop by and watch the video they did of their local election.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Catie: Have you seen these?

String gardens. Oh, I want one, but it looks so hard.

I think I will just covet for now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Catie: A Rainy Sunday Walk

Since it's our first spring in Korea, the cycle of weather is totally new to us.  I think part of me is  still used to a dry, arid climate - everything that Korea is not.

So, it's probably normal for Daejeon, but to us, it's been a lovely, rainy spring. In the past week, it's stopped raining only twice, and only in order to get blistering hot and humid.

Needless to say, we favor the rain. :)

And today, arming ourselves with umbrellas, we went for a pleasant Sunday walk in it.

I look so angry, but I wasn't!

I just love the way the streets and pavement look in the rain. As shiny as patent leather.

A little roadside garden. I'm constantly amazed by the creativity of the people in our neighborhood. They can take whatever they have and turn it into something useful. I'm trying to watch closely and learn from them, but I swear they're just born with an innate sense of brilliance.  I wish we had any tiny plots of dirt near our apartment.

A couple pictures of my Tea Leaves Cardigan (I finished it!). I know the pictures could be better, but I forgot to have Ben take any of the sweater itself.

Turns out it's a perfect rainy day sweater and since I finished it earlier this month, I didn't think I'd get a chance to wear it until fall, but I did! That alone was worth the walk around town.

The roses outside one of our local churches. They smell so good.

I've shown it before, but here's another photo of our next door neighbor's roof top garden. The white pipes on top act like ribs to hold a plastic tarp so her garden is a greenhouse in the winter and a garden in the summer.  Genius!

And our own roof top tomato plants:

Nothing nearly as exciting as everyone else's container gardens, but we hope they'll turn out.

Sorry for the picture overload, the light was just so perfect today, I couldn't help myself.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ben: Harry

Here' s a picture of Harry, soaking wet and suffering from A Flower Allergy.

Ben: More Essays from Harry

I stole Harry's essay book from Aaron Teacher (he is in charge of grading his class this term) so that I could copy out a few more of his more hilarious essays. I wish I still had the essay prompts, because the context that puts them in makes his essays even funnier. Sadly that document, like so many others, went down with my laptop.

If I had a whole day to do whatever I wanted, I would go to PC room. Because my computer is too late, but PC room's computer is so fast. And PC room's computer has many games. My most favorite games are Starcraft and Sudden Attack and Maple Story. Then there are another special fun. That is playing games with some grilled cuttlefish. When I am in there, I am not hungry. There are a wonderland for children.

I should note that the above essay is neater and uses better grammar than most of Harry's essays. When I noticed and asked him about it he told me. "Oh! It is because my sister is write it!" Than quickly rethinking the wisdom of being so honest, he attempted to backtrack by saying, "Oh! My other name is Sister! I is write it!" Politicians take note, you could learn much from little Harry.

I have many good friends. When I play with them I always have fun. I have a nice guitar. When I play guitar all my stress disappears. Sometimes I go to the common bathroom (sauna) with my father. Swimming in there is very fun. I go to Lotte Mart at every weekend. When I buy some delicious puddings, I am very happy.

My mother is says to me, "The most important thing is honesty." So I'm sorry to mother. Because I sometimes lie. When I play computer game, I hide in my room. Mother is say to me, "You must quit the computer game." but I sometimes do computer games secretly. So my mother often walk very quietly to my room and opens the door. Every time I am discovered and horrified!

I like to eat, so I am a little chubby. I like three kinds desert. First, it is bread. Second, it is yogurt. And third is orange. There are sweet and fresh when I eat them. I feel that my body becomes lighter and my feeling is clear up.

I'm not sure if these are the foods that Harry likes to eat, or he is supposed to eat.

I become president. I can kill my people. My country will be very big. My country's people is rich. My country is like a heaven. School has no exam and children can kill teacher. So, my country's future is bright!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ben: Harry and the GodJejus

Harry's Essay in response to the question:

What is something that always makes you smile and feel happy?

I believe god and I believe jeajuse, son of godjejus said to us "love your neighbor" and jejus treated sicked people. In addition he revived dead people. He always talked about heaven. I love jejus and believe the bible and then I want to give a present to my teacher, a bible.

Just in case you are confused, by jeasjuse, jejus, and godjejus Harry means Jesus.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ben: Harry's Electric Guitar Essays

These are actually essays from last term, before Christmas. Harry wanted an electric guitar desperately, and mentioned it to me as many times as possible. I think he believed that I would tell his Mom how important it was for him to get one if he could only convince me.

Essay 1
I went to the music academy. In the music academy I learn electric guitar and nowadays I want to get a electric guitar. I asked for father to buy a electric guitar and than father said to me. "If you get good grade at the final test, I will get give you a nice electric guitar." I studied very hard and then I get good grade at final test! I am success! So I will get electric guitar.

Essay 2
This Christmas I received electric guitar. That moment I feeled the biggest happy in my life. A tear from my eye fell because I was so happy. My heart was beating so fast. I learned the existence of the happy tear that time. I thank God for father so much. I was proud of my new guitar. Whenever I play my guitar it reminds me of that happy time.

Harry than proceeded to bring his guitar to Ewha and set it in the chair beside him for about two months. It was really cute, but also a pain because no one sitting behind him could see around it and he insisted on seating in the front row. Thankfully his pride has calmed down a bit and I haven't heard about the electric guitar for a while now.

Ben: Harry and A Flower Allergy

More from everyone's favorite English student. Right after class started this exchanged happened:

Harry: Oh teacher! Can I go toilet?!

Me: Why Harry? We just had a break?

Harry: I have a flower allergy! Is very terrible!

Me: Okay, come back quickly.

Harry: Oh thank you! You very many kind teacher!

About five minutes later Harry bursts back into the classroom, his face and hair completely soaked, dripping water all over his shirt and the floor.

Me: Harry, what did you do?

Harry: Oh! I fill the sink and than put my head in. Is very good!

About five minutes after that Harry pulls out a tiny eye-dropper and opens it up. I don't know what was in it, but it smelled like Vick's Vapor Rub, only ten times stronger. The classroom instantly reeks of it, and everyone starts coughing and yelling at Harry.

Me: Harry! What is that?

Harry: Oh! Is medicine! I eat it!

Me: Okay, but why does it smell so bad?

Harry: You know bomb? That soldiers is throw? And they are make smoke? Is same as that!

Me: It's tear gas medicine for allergies?

Harry: Oh yes! Is wonderful!

Your guess is as good as mine. Now, two hours later, all of Ewha still smells of Harry's medicine. I promise I'll take some pictures of the rascal next time I have his class, because it will make the stories that much funnier when you see his Calvin-like expressions.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ben: Notes from the Weekly Ewha Meetings

Things that Nicole instructed us to do this week at work:

Wake them up from their lazy minds!
Telling us to make sure the "lazy" middle school students, who skipped the last two weeks of Ewha so that they could study an 6 extra hours each day for their midterm school exams got back to work

Grab the student's energy and make them love you. Don't treat them emotionally.
Strangely contradictory statements, said with a straight face, one right after another.

Receive them with your warm hands.
By far her best comment, which I think means that we should make the students feel very welcome at Ewha? Whatever it actually means, it doesn't not sound right at all.

Ben: Funny Moments from Ewha's Final Tests


a. What make you feel nervous?
I worry about call to my parents. Many teachers call and say, "Oh! Harry is crazy terrible boy!" Than mom is hit me! Is terrible!

b. What is a challenge you have faced?
My challenge is once upon a time I do steal some ice cream in the super mart. I am success!

c. How did you overcome your challenge?
My friend say, "You steal super market ice cream, I tell my teacher!" Oh no, is terrible! But friend goes to another apartment. I live!

d. Describe what you see inside Ewha. What does Ewha Academy look like?
Ewha Academy is exist many American teacher. So first I go to academy I'm so scary, but now I'm okay. Ewha Academy's not very good point is have exist detention. Is detention very hard and my arm very sick. Is in academy everyday have small test. So I must memory many Englishe. I'm very tired! Is terrible!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Catie: I Like Food. (Cooking from scratch)

Since January, we've chucked all our processed foods (goodbye, delicious Bisquick...) and started cooking from scratch.  In the beginning, it was like a test of strength and endurance.  No more canned soups or broths, no more canned vegetables (though we do still use tomato sauce and paste), no more packaged spice mixes.  But as I've grown accustomed to the change, it's become 100% easier (I don't even notice it anymore) and it's been meal planning that made it that way.

I Heart Meal Planning.

I never, ever thought I'd be one of those weird people who was so anal they planned things like meals in advance.  Then I found out that I'm not an organized person...  And if I'm not an organized person (i.e. one of those weird people), we won't eat good food, we'll just eat the mustard chicken-on-a-stick from the cute little man around the corner.

This is why meal planning rocks my face off:
  • I don't have to think, all day long, about what I'm going to make, whether we'll have the ingredients or I'll have to run to the store.  
  • We don't end up eating out (almost ever), which helps us save money (to go back to America in the fall), and makes us feel better (fewer MSG headaches).
  • I'm learning to cook.  Slowly, but surely.  It's not that I couldn't before.  I could follow a recipe.  But it's gotten easier to read a recipe and know how it will work/know if it will taste good.  It's gotten easier to alter recipes I already have, and to just make things up on the fly without them tasting like roadkill -- or how one might imagine roadkill tasting.
Anyway, something I read, early on, that is supposed to make meal planning easier (because it was a pain in the beginning), was to get together your 21 Favorite Meals.  When I started, we didn't have 21 meals that we ate on a regular basis, much less a Favorite 21.  So, there was a lot of experimenting, a lot of repeats, and some leftovers, and like, fifty-hundred failures.  But now it's May (and I'm a total MASTER), and I've compiled our FAVE 21 Meals.

And, for lack of a better post, I thought I'd share them here.

I've linked to recipes where I could, but I've altered most of them, so we don't follow them as is.  My favorite recipe websites are, All Recipes and Tammy's Recipes.

In no particular order.

Ben and Catie's FAVE 21 Meals:

2. "Hamburger Helper" (toward the bottom of the post)
3. Baked Salmon
4. Oven-fried Chicken (we turn them into "chicken nuggets")
5. Taco Soup/My Grandma's Vegetable Soup
6. Kung Pao Chicken/Stir-fry
8. My Mom's Macaroni and Cheeze
9. Bean and Cheese Burritos
10. Chicken Fajitas
11. Spaghetti
12. Pesto Spaghetti with Vegetables
14. Pot Roast
15. Meatloaf/Meatballs
16. Chicken Tacos
17. King Ranch Chicken/Chicken Mexicali
18. Pesto Pizza
19. "Shepherd's Breakfast" (I can't remember if that's what it's really called, but it's just pan-fried potatoes, scrambled with eggs and tossed with cheese)
20. Quesadillas (sometimes with chicken, sometimes without)
21. Beef Stew

Most of it I've either made up, or smooshed together from two or more similar recipes.

But, look it, that's THREE WEEKS of meals there!  Maybe I will get around to posting some recipes so they can all have links (not because I think other people might want them, just because the OCD in me wants all the items in the list to be the same color... is that weird?).

Things I (almost) always keep on hand that make everything move like clockwork:
  • Homemade chicken stock, frozen: For soups and gravies and even drinking -- yum.
  • Diced onions, frozen: When you're only cooking for two, a whole onion is ALWAYS too much, I throw all my diced onion leftovers into a freezer bag and then, when I need some fast, I always have it. 
  • Homemade yogurt: To use in place of sour cream, cream cheese (I use drained yogurt), buttermilk, sometimes "cream of..." soups, and even milk when we run out.
  • Fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes/regular tomatoes: 16-20 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves, sub great for a can of diced or stewed tomatoes.
  • Chicken gravy/bechamel sauce: great for replacing "cream of..." soups in 99% of recipes.
  • Shredded chicken: We buy 1-2 whole chickens a week that I either boil or roast (chicken is tons better for you off the bone, plus you can save and freeze the bones for making stock later on) and then I pick them all at once and either freeze the leftover meat, or leave it in the fridge to use the next day.
With all of that, dinner's almost never take more than forty five minutes to prepare, even if I'm making homemade tortillas or something.  And I always know exactly what we'll need to get from the store, so we only have to grocery shop once a week now (instead of every night).  It's probably cut our weekly food money at least in half.

Sometime over the past four months, I've gotten a little ridiculously frugal...  I guess I finally realized that if I put the work into planning our meals, I'd have a better chance of finding money to buy yarn.

Plus, I get this really cute, happy husband who writes nice things on our blog.

I figure it's paid off.


I stumbled on this link:

while checking out the costume my friend, Natalie, is making for a local fashion show. Of course, The Press Tribune has it listed under, "BREAKING NEWS". I love you, Caldwell...

They've just closed their (only somewhat sketchy) retro doors after 48 years and, having stayed in the motel myself (and being quite partial to the GIANT, red "MOTEL" sign that hovers over downtown Caldwell at night), I'm actually kind of sad.  They did have a cute sign, after all.  And I like old motels.

Things always change when I'm gone and I hate it. Maybe I'll just stay here forever so I can always remember Idaho the way I left it.

Oh, well.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ben: Catie Makes the delicious foods

It's been awhile since Catie has posted on our whole/raw foods program that she has been on, so I thought that I would post an update (and brag about the food that I get to eat). Last night for dinner Catie made baked salmon, green beans, with some sort of delicious butter sauce (it's made with butter, strawberry jam, and Jesus I think). The night before she made beef stew starting from scratch. She had previously used our leftover chicken bits to make chicken stock, which was than used as the base for the beef stew. It was delicious. On Friday we had stove top fried chicken nuggets and spinach, rice, cheese casserole (I contributed by discovering the spinach at our local Lotte Mart a couple of weeks ago). Earlier in the week we had cheesy chicken/rice/broccoli casserole.

In sum, we eat very well thanks to Catie. As one of my co-workers pointed out, quiet jealously, for us eating Korean food in Korea is a novelty and the exception. The other day we were walking around our neighborhood, enjoying the spring weather and I was struck by how much different things were food wise than when we first arrived here. Last fall we would wonder hungrily looking for something to eat. Now Catie has our meals planned out a month in advance, so we never have to roam the streets looking for something to eat. I've eat better these last couple of months, than at anytime since I left home for college. Thank you Catie!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ben: Frequently asked questions: about cell phone!

This is from a monthly pamphlet that the local "Daejeon International Community Center" puts out. Some funny, and very Korean English.

Q1: What documents do I need for to open the cell-phone?
A: Basically you need "the Aliens registration certification" and you "bank account(bank book)"?

Q2: What kinds of wire agencies are in Korea?
A: There are 3 agencies in Korea. SKT (SK telecome), KTF and LGT (LG telecome). SKT requests to foreigners extra 200,000 won for warranty fee when they register. To use KTF's service, credit cart is positively necessary. But LGT doesn't ask extra charge or other documents except 2 basic ones.?

Q3: I heard that there're many "Free" phones. Can I have that too?
A: Sure. But free phone connect with it contract. Most of contract in the Korea are for 2 years. (Basically 2years) If you contract for some determined rate system, you can get chosen phone for free.?

Q4: Can I get the phone through Internet?
A: Well.. There are many websites that available to buy phones but foreigner only can get phone by off-line stores. And stores are classified by agency so please make sure check what agency you prefer before enter the store.

Q5: I want use cell-phone only for an year. If so can I do 1 year contract?
A: First, it's impossible. As I told you before, contracts are for basic 2 years. So you have to pay penalties. So there's another choice. You can get the "pre-paid phone."