Monday, September 26, 2011

Mudfest 2011 video

We went to mudfest AGAIN this year!  Last year, albeit, had more activities for some reason, but because we went with a group of friends this year, it made our time, that much more fun.  And although the fireworks show wasn't caught on video, it was spectacular again.
Here is the video I remade for the US viewers.

This was the first video I made but it can only be watched by people who are outside of the US or Germany because Bob Marley is protected on youtube.  If you change at the bottom of your page on the youtube page what country your in, you can watch it.
Here is the original video of this years event.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Russian restaurant in Dongdamun

Unfortunately, the plans Kyle designed for our anniversary date were kicked into the gutters.  It wasn't fully explained to me, but we were left with having to search for something last minute. Our British friends suggested wandering around Dongdamun for the evening to see what we could find.  I agreed with the location, but instead of wandering frustratingly around an area hungrily looking for a decent restaurant, only to be disappointed, I took it upon myself to find a glittering gem in the stacks of concrete buildings which is Seoul.  You see, I'm adventurous to an extent. I enjoy discovering new places, foods and I'm not afraid to try things that might be considered bizarre by others, but I'm not much into wandering.  I don't care for the search.  If I'm in the rarely patient mood, I can appreciate the searching aspect, but generally searches come up dry too many times, and I'm left hungry, dissatisfied and disgruntled.  In this way, I'm not your average traveler.  I like to know what I'm getting into. So instead of just maundering, I scanned the internet and came across this foodie blog which described a Russian restaurant in Dongdamun.  Ecstatic to find something other than Korean food, we set out in search of this mysterious restaurant.
A pickled herring salad.  Very strange, but most of the table enjoyed it.

This beer was awesome.  Even I liked it, and I HATE beer.

Cabbage stuffed with pork- amazing- get this.

I don't remember what this was called, but it was like grapevine leaves wrapped around a rice meat mixture.  It was great.

the salmon dish, it was delicious.

Restaurant Kazakhstan
Address: Kyungsung Bldg, 4F, 76-2 Kwanghee-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Telephone: 02- 2269-7505
Directions: Line 2, 5, and 4 Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (formerly Dongdaemun Stadium) exit 7 make an immediate right onto the small alley. You need to merge left a bit to keep going straight on the road. Restaurant Kazakhstan will be ahead on the 4th floor.

These directions were provided from the blog mentioned before, but what they didn't mention was that you had to walk blocks underground in the newly built subway addition.  The steamy air beneath stuck to our sweating skin like a fly on fly paper, and the design of the subway was reminiscent of a star-trek film. Walking through the station, we all felt a sense of science fiction surrealism.  We walked so long underground, I began to wonder whether we'd ever reach the surface and if we did surface, if it would we still be on planet Earth. Once we did reach the surface however, we found ourselves in the Russian part of town, in a strange alley.  The restaurant was located, oddly enough, in an apartment building.  Entering what looked like a renovated apartment, we sat down at the glass table observing our surroundings. The decorations were a mixture of grandma's house, and modern art.  A t.v. in the corner played entertaining Russian music videos as we scanned the extensive menu.

There was an added concern in our search, one of our friends was a vegetarian, and Russian foods are not well known for their vegetarian options.  However, this restaurant offered several fish options, including a lovely salmon dish.  The boys bought imported Russian beers, and we all split a bottle of wine for only 25,000 won.  Not only were all the dishes reasonably priced, but they were absolutely delicious.  Instead of purchasing a dish for each person, we ate family style, sharing each dish, which I highly recommend.  If you are an expat in Seoul and looking for a new restaurant to visit, try Restaurant Kazakhstan, you wont regret it!  It was a perfect anniversary evening with fantastic friends and delicious food.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Someone's a rap rap rapping at our door

It comes so quickly,  the changing of temperature.  Summer's humid yet warm and embracing span is so brief it almost feels like a dream.  Fall is a beautiful season in Korea, unlike in San Antonio.  The colors of the trees change from green to bright vibrant autumn reds, oranges and yellows irradiating the blue sky with licks of fiery colors. It's energizing, and foreboding in the same breath. At home, I cherished fall, the reprieve from the suffocating heat.  But in Korea, fall is an omen of the strangulating cold that is sure to  smother all that lives into an icy submission.  Instead of loving fall in Korea, as I feel I ought to, I shiver at the prospects of the coming winter.  Winter is by far, at least in my Texas eyes, the longest of seasons.  Its hold grips tightly from October through April, only allowing Spring, Fall and Summer 6 months to share between them.  This year, I'm happy not to have to endure the full extent of the Korean winter, but even the spirited breeze whipping around my bare calves this morning was enough to make me run to my classroom and its only September. I do look forward to taking pictures of the changing leaves, and runs outside without heatstroke, but other than that, there is only apprehension of the wind changing.  Winter is coming, and not far behind, my hibernation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'd heard about Dr. Fish, but didn't know much about them. Basically Dr. Fish refers to a type of fish who feed on dead skin.  What happens is the patients stick their feet into a tank of these fishies, and these fishes go to work feeding on the dead skin, allowing the new skin to grow. It has its critics as I found out later, but I'm glad we went for the experience.

After finding the coffee cafe, we paid 6,000 won (around $6) for our smoothies and drinks- one per person, and an added $2000 for the Dr. Fish experience. I'd been expecting a spa, or beauty clinic, but instead it was located in a normal, slightly extravagantly priced cafe.  We waited for our turn patiently.  Once beckoned, our feet were cleaned and rinsed, and were directed to the tank of fish in the ground.  The feet swarmed around our feet, softly gnawing at our dead skin.  It felt like tiny suction cups, and made us all scream from the tickling sensations.  Once we found the courage, we made our way to the larger fish tank, where the two inch fish with much larger mouths went to work on our evidently gnarly feet.  These fishies mouths felt more like sandpaper than the smaller guys, and like in the smaller fish tank, we had to work hard not to kick our feet in reaction which greatly disturb the fish.  Kyle was especially funny to watch, as he squealed like a little girl being tickled.  It was great fun, and a strikingly new experience.  I'm not sure how much good they actually did, or if the health benefits are actually what are touted, but I fully enjoyed the experience. There are many places around not only South Korea, but the world which provide these services, but I've listed below the directions to the specific one we visited for those interested in following in our footsteps.

 Gangnam’s Dr. Fish Cafe: 02-599-1210
To get to the Dr. Fish Cafe in Gangnam, go to Gangnam station, exit 6. Walk a few blocks and it is in the building next to Krispy Kreme on the 2nd floor.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scavenger hunt

For Kyle's anniversary present, I didn't just hand him his gift of a music video.  I was concerned that because it was a virtual gift, it would be lackluster in its presentation.  So I devised a plan, a scavenger hunt. Our anniversary was on a Friday, which meant he was meant to be working, but as anniversaries are much more important than complaining middle school children, he searched for his gift instead.  This scavenger hunt included riddles, secret codes, and picture clues which led him across the campus, and eventually back to his computer where the video lay hidden in files.  Armed with a video camera, this is Kyle's search for his present.
Here's the video on YOUTUBE

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The mystery of the missing marriage license: Happy 5 years.

Please ignore the fact that I'm woefully behind in our posts, and that our anniversary actually occurred at the beginning of the month rather than midway through September.

 In keeping with the spirit of marital bliss, I'd like to relay a story which jump started this wacky journey into what is our marriage today.  About  three days before our wedding, Kyle and I made the obligatory trip downtown to receive permission from the state to wed.  And by receive permission, I mean apply for our marriage license. Holding hands, we sat in the overly air conditioned government office in uncomfortable metal chairs, and answered the mundane questions of our applicant processor. When it was all said and done, we were handed a beautifully decorated  marriage license to take home only to return with the appropriate signatures after the wedding date.

Fast forward three days.  On the day of our wedding, there were many loose ends needing re-arranging, and knotting as is often the case on a wedding day. Boxes were full of miscellaneous nic nacs such as photos of our parents, and grandparents on their wedding day, a photo guest book, the wedding leash and other such trinkets.  These boxes fraught with wedding delights were to be taken to "The Vineyard," our wedding location. One of these boxes, also included the marriage license that we were supposed to have signed by our officiant, Kyle's uncle, a baptist preacher.  However, on the day of the wedding, the marriage license mysteriously disappeared. There were witnesses, numerous witnesses, placing the license in one of the boxes only moments before its departure to the vineyard.  Whether it was stolen by a saboteur secretly trying to steal away the bride, or eaten by hungry Texas fire ants looking for their next meal, or it simply grew wings and flew into the humid, pinkish dusk, we will never know.  Because despite desperate searching by family and friends, the certificate never again was to show its face.  The mystery of the missing marriage license may forever continue to remain an X-file.

We're quite blessed however, that Kyle's uncle was quite understanding of the mishap. Previous to our wedding ceremony, I had no idea of the importance of that little paper.  Kyle's uncle Keith although confused as to why we didn't have the license did not make a big deal of the matter. However, once I tried to ratify the situation by calling the downtown offices I was met with disbelief.
 "Our marriage license has been lost, how can I get a new one?"
"Was it signed?"
"No, it was lost on the day of the wedding?"
"How did you get married?"
"I don't understand, we just got married."
"That's impossible."
"Well, it happened, we're married."
'You couldn't have gotten married without the license."
"We both said 'I do.'  I'm pretty sure it happened."

Our exchange went on like this for sometime.  There was a twinge of fear growing that our ceremony wouldn't actually count.  The woman even stated that we'd have to state another date than the one that the ceremony had occurred on.  However, with a little finagling, and much stubbornness on my part, it was all sorted out.  In fact, it was as simple as reprinting the license with the word "copy" inconspicuously placed and as it turned out, we had been married after all.

Five years later, miraculously I still love Kyle Rogers with all my heart, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, he still loves me as well.  Our marriage, like most relationships, as not been all cotton candy and smiles, but it has been an exciting ride, and one that I think I'll stick with for at least another five years :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Lucky" anniversary video

Starting in April, I began to think about what I could do to give Kyle as a special anniversary present. What I came up with was a homemade music video.  I thought it'd be fun to put together a video of Kyle and me as a loving couple put to a LOVE song. I interrogated Kyle on what he thought "our song" was, but each song he listed was.... well... they didn't work, for one reason or another.  Eventually I decided upon "Lucky" by Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz. I felt the song was an accurate portrait of our relationship.  I then gave the video camera to friends, explaining in secret what I was up to, and set them to work on capturing us at our most gushy moments.  At one point, Kyle catches on that every time the camera is running, I make attempts at being especially loving.  This can be heard at the very end of the video.  If you have trouble viewing the video, please alert me.

Do you hear me? I'm talking to you
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I'm trying

Boy I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Ooh ooh ooh

They don't know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss
I'll wait for you I promise you, I will

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again

Lucky we're in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

And so I'm sailing through the sea
To an island where we'll meet
You'll hear the music fill the air
I'll put a flower in your hair

Though the breezes through trees
Move so pretty you're all I see
As the world keeps spinning 'round
You hold me right here, right now

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again

I'm lucky we're in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

Ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh

Here's the video

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We're back

We had a fabulous vacation on Jeju island, a small volcanic island south of Korea.  It's considered the jewel of Korea, and the Hawaii of Asia.  And we were both pleasantly surprised.  Maybe this is the jaded Vanessa speaking, but I'm used to disappointment at finding that Korea has once again extravagantly exaggerated the beauty or magnificence of her national treasures. Like many countries, Korea is a proud nation, and there is a lot to be proud of, but sometimes, and this is probably true of many places, exaggeration, and puffed up pride, plays a larger role than the thing being touted deserves credit for.  And maybe its because I had low expectations going in, I wasn't expecting the Philippines, or the Mediterranean, but Jeju held its own. It truly was a lovely island, and had much more natural beauty than I'd expected which is often what I find lacking here in Korea. 

We're spending today relaxing, and resting up from our vacation.  Why is it that we always need a vacation from our vacations?

So this post is not going to be a long post.  Just a short note to explain that we are indeed alive, sun tanned, and resting our sore hiking worn legs this weekend. I do plan on posting real posts soon.  There is oh so much to post, I feel a little overwhelmed, or more like A LOT overwhelmed, and I will try my best to catch up.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It might be a while

before you get to read a real post... I have several posts in the works, but I've been preoccupied.  The other night, I spent nearly 4 hours in the kitchen making three different kinds of banana breads and zucchini chocolate cake- yummy!  We had our five year anniversary, but this next week is Korean Thanksgiving so we're planning on really celebrating in JEJU (the Asian Hawaii) although, we've heard that its not as great as Koreans make it out to be.  Although to be honest, Hawaii wasn't as great as I thought Americans make it out to be.  Also, I'm quite concerned about Texas and the fires.  Please stay safe my Texas friends.  I've heard that almost all of Bastrop National Park as been ravaged by the fires. So to sum up, We're keeping Texas in our prayers, and I'm sorry for the lack of posts.  Hopefully when I return, I will be able to catch up and you will be barraged with interesting and intriguing posts.

In case you want the recipe for the zucchini cake-


  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in oil and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Fold in zucchini and walnuts if desired.
  2. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, September 05, 2011

It's been fixed!!

After I wrote the post- Guess what we made- someone wrote a comment that our button, that I'd presented with such pride, wasn't actually working!  So the fiddling began, and continued, and endured, and yet, no progress was made.  I used website after website, code after code, and no button would come into being at my hand.  Finally, after a section of my head, had gone completely bald from the excessive anxiety hair pulling I engaged in, I called in help; my cousin.  HTML is NOT my thing.  It is, however, his thing.  And I'm sure, he was able to create it entirely without any hair pulling, in my world- a miracle in itself.  So once again, I present to you OUR BUTTON!  Hopefully, this button works.  Please let me know if it doesn't.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Crab cakes with spicy avocado sauce

  We often tweak our recipes, so we didn't stick to this recipe exactly.  This is the original recipe here

 For sauce
  • 1/2 ripe medium California avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fresh jalapeño or serrano chile (including seeds), stemmed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk

For crab cakes
  • 1 pound imitation crabmeat,
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half crumbled crackers and oats with various spices
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • half an onion, diced
  • a full bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • cajun seasoning, cayenne, chilli powder and cumin- to taste
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Make sauce:
Pulse avocado with mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, sugar, and one fourth of chile in a food processor until chile is finely chopped. Add milk and purée until smooth. Add more chile if desired, processing until smooth. Transfer sauce to a bowl and chill, covered.
Make crab cakes:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over moderate heat, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a plate to cool.
Divide crabmeat mixture into handfulls. Form into a patties. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve crab cakes with sauce. 

Stir every thing together in a large bowl until blended well, then chill, covered. 
Freezes well...
The mixture

We made double so we could freeze a batch.  We forgot to take pictures after the original making of them.

They freeze well in balls, but look better as patties.