Monday, January 23, 2017

Top 5 Kitchen Items

When my husband and I got married­, I spent a lot of time thinking about what kitchen items we had to get first. Of course, I wanted – and still want – all the kitchen gadgets, but I couldn’t just go buy everything. So, I spent a lot of time researching and thinking about what I use when I’m at my parent’s house. I was in the kitchen the other day and I realized that there are some items that I use almost every day and some of those are items I didn’t buy at first because I didn’t feel they were needed but I now couldn’t live without. So, I decided to write this to help those of you buying stuff for your new kitchen; not stuff like silverware and a dish set because those are obvious needs but the extra stuff that doesn’t always seem to be as important.

1) Chef’s knife/knife set //
 Yes, it may be obvious that you need a knife or two but there are some stipulations. Obviously, you can only get the knives that you can afford. I got this Farberware knife block from Wal-Mart and it does the job for all my knife needs but it’s also not amazing quality. My mom has a Cutco chef’s knife that is incredible. The handle is comfortable, the blade is super sharp so you can chop with ease, and it stays sharp much longer than any of my knives. Having decent quality knives is so important to me. I’m saving up for a nicer block since I use them so much. Also, I specifically say chef’s knife because I own two and I use them both ALL THE TIME. They are so versatile and can chop anything; so, if you can only have one knife, definitely pick a chef’s knife.

2) A nice pot and pan set //
Again, something obvious but the difference is to get a nice pot and pan set versus a cheap one. I can say from experience that getting the cheapest pot and pan set from Wal-Mart is not worth it unless you really can’t afford anything else. I had a 20-dollar non-stick set from Wal-Mart in college and the coating chipped the first time I used the pans. I’ve also heard that getting a set is a waste of money because you don’t use every pan in the set. That’s a lie. If you cook enough, like daily, you will use every single pan in the set. My parents got us this Wolfgang Stainless Steel set from Sam’s Club and it is amazing. If they hadn’t bought us the set, I was planning on buying one in a similar price range. I had the ability to get a decent set and I wasn’t going to cheap out on one again and only have it last a couple months. By the way, I LOVE my stainless-steel pans. Again, they’re so versatile and they’re really easy to clean. This set also came with two awesome non-stick pans perfect for eggs and pancakes.

3) Crock-Pot //
This. This is my favorite appliance EVER. I use it at least twice a week. At first, I had a small 4 quart that my best friend gave me and it did the job. However, as I started using it more I realized that the size kept me from being able to make everything I wanted to. So, I got this 7 quart one and it is amazing. They’re so easy to use. You just dump all the ingredients in and go. You can use any cut of meat, even if it’s cheap and tough and it will come out super tender. I can’t rave about it enough.

4) Glass Nesting Bowl set //
This is an item I didn’t think was necessary. I had found a plastic nesting bowl set from Wal-Mart for 5 dollars and it had bowls ranging from extra, extra-large to tiny and it had lids. So while it still makes a good Tupperware, the super large bowl is great for pasta salad but it just didn’t hold up to everything you use glass bowls for. My husband then surprised me with the Pyrex nesting bowls and the extra-large bowl. Since then I use them for EVERYTHING. They’re good for storage and marinating, prepping ingredients, mixing cakes, brownies, sauces, and serving.  Now that I have them, if any break, I’m replacing it. I use them so much now and I don’t know why I didn’t get them sooner.

5) Rice Cooker //
I never thought I’d say this. Honestly, this was the hardest one to decide. My microwave is also super important, but really, most people love their microwaves. I decided the rice cooker because It’s not something you would think to get but I’ve found it so helpful. I was against getting one for a long time; I mean you can make rice in a pot why do you need a rice cooker? But then, my husband got one and it's so easy! The rice comes out perfect every time and all you do is put the rice and water in and leave it. Not fluffing, no simmering, nothing. It also helps because I’m married to an Asian guy and he LOVES rice with everything and this makes it easier for me to remember to make rice because my parents don’t eat rice often so it’s not something I think about.

Thanks for reading! What’s a kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?

Stock photo courtesy of Pexels.

Friday, January 20, 2017

My Favorite Things About Winter

I am a winter person 100%. Once it starts to get cold outside, I feel amazing. When it’s above 70-80 degrees, I start feeling like I’m dying; I’m sluggish and feel terrible. My body just doesn’t deal with heat well, but as soon as the temperature drops I start feeling so alive. Also, it snowed a good amount Wednesday night here in Seoul. I woke up to a winter wonderland and while I loved it, I felt bad that my husband still had to go into work. This is also the first really good snow day I’ve been in Seoul for. So, in honor of the winter outside, let’s chat about my favorite things about winter. But first, check out the snow that happened!
The cold //
Yes, I know, it’s weird that I absolutely love the cold; but I can definitely feel a difference in my attitude and my body when it’s cold. Even my husband noticed that I’m not so crabby when it’s not flaming outside.

Cuddling //
When it’s hot outside, it’s really hard to cuddle. Here in Seoul, the electricity is so expensive that running the A/C for more than an hour a day is impossible because it costs so much. Which means it stays hot inside the house all the time and you can’t cuddle in the heat. Back home in Alabama, even my parent’s cats just kind of lay around on the hardwood floors with their bellies up to cool down. Therefore, I love when it cools down and I have another excuse to cuddle with my husband and when we get pets, our pets :).

Hot drinks //
Let’s be honest, the cold is just another excuse for me to drink more coffee than is probably healthy. I also love hot chocolate, tea, and spiced apple cider. Anything hot is wonderful, it warms you up from the inside.

The clothes //
Oh, how I love fall/winter clothes! I live in my riding boots or my Hunter boots once the temperature starts dropping. I also love cardigans especially because they can take my favorite shirts or dresses and make them winter-appropriate. I also have a new found love for colored tights, so I often where a dress, colored tights, and my black or brown riding boots. I’m going to be sad when I have to put my boots away.

Books and blankets //
While I do enjoy taking walks and enjoying the crisp, fresh air, I love cuddling up under a cozy blanket, preferably one with penguins, and reading a good book with my coffee. It’s just so comforting to read under a blanket. Stay tuned for future book posts!

Outdoor Activities //
I finally live in a place where it snows some and where we can get to many different ski resorts easily. Normally, if we lived in America or on the military base, we would have a place to be able to go sledding for free, have snowball fights, make snow angels, and everything else you can do in the snow for free but we can’t really do that because we live in an apartment and there’s no open grassy areas around us. There are, however, lots of places do some serious sledding out even when there’s not snow on the ground. Also, two years ago, I discovered my love for snowboarding (check out that post here). My husband and I have been once this season and we’ll probably go a few more times. Especially because it’s a little cheaper to snowboard here than it is in America and we really enjoy it.

Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite season and favorite things to do during that season?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

South Korea Adventures: Namsan Seoul Tower

If you’re planning a trip to Seoul, odds are you know about Seoul Tower. In my opinion it is one of the hearts of Seoul as it can be seen from almost anywhere in Seoul and the suburbs of Seoul. Because of this, it is something that everyone should do.

My husband has gone once before while I was in America finishing school then he took me to celebrate our one year anniversary. Even though he had gone before, we found stuff that he didn’t know about when he first went. Instead of hiking up to Seoul Tower, we took the Namsan cable car. We walked from Myeongdong and took this little elevator up to the cable car boarding area where we purchased tickets, which were 8,500 won per round trip. If you aren’t up for hiking there, the cable car was worth it; it was convenient and the wait was fairly quick.
Once we got up there, we walked over to this little observation area that was at ground level with the tower. While up there, you can purchase a lock (or bring your own) and lock it to one of the many areas and leave a little memory there; we did this and it was fun to be able to leave a permanent memory in a new country that we are spending two years of our life. The view is also really great from there so if you’re afraid of heights, you can still get a taste of the view from here. There is also a gift shop, churro stand, and other restaurants that you can eat at if you please, we just got churros which were delicious. Also, it was here that he gave me my new wedding ring, one actually meant to last a lifetime. He said a beautiful little speech and made me cry happy tears and then presented my dream wedding set, it was absolutely perfect despite my hands feeling like icicles.
After a lot of looking from the bottom of the tower, we were about to leave when I noticed a ticket stand for the observatory deck. So we decided to do it. We got the two tickets, popcorn and two drink combo which was 21,000 won. We followed the crowd to get to the deck and we stopped by one of the stands to get our drinks and popcorn. We got the cheese popcorn and it was THE BEST, like seriously, THE BEST cheese popcorn I have ever had. I would go back just for the popcorn. Then we got in line and you take pictures before going to the elevator. The elevator wait wasn’t that long either and they played a little show of going into space on the ceiling of the elevator. We arrived at the deck and the view was even better than from the ground. Mark didn’t enjoy it as much as the height was a little too much; but I enjoyed it and loved that I could see little cities in the mountains outside of Seoul, Lotte Tower, Yongsan Garrison, and so much more. The windows also had little tidbits of information throughout which is helpful if you don’t know a lot about the area. After we made our way around the tower, we saw another picture booth where you could don traditional clothing and take themed pictures. So we did that and got copies of both pictures. They were about 12,000 won each if I remember correctly and they come in little cardboard frames. I don’t think I’ve ever bought pictures like that, but now that we’re home, I find that I’m glad we did.

If you decide to or can go, Seoul tower is very easy to get to by walking, subway, bus, or taxi. While I was back in America, my husband and some friends walked to Seoul tower and you can walk from Itaewon, Myeongdong, and probably other areas but I don’t yet know those. Otherwise, subway and bus directions can be found at VisitKorea as well as other information to help plan your trip. I’ve heard they also have a pretty good, fancy restaurant if you want to make a fancy date out of it, we didn’t because Mark had other plans for food :).  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Let's Catch Up

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog and I want to continue my blog now, I thought it might be a good idea for us to have a little catch up. For me to tell you guys the major events of my life since I left.

I basically stopped posting on my blog around this time my sophomore year of college. What happened between then and the beginning of my junior year isn’t really important, in fact not much aside from doing college and spending time with my family and friends happened. It’s junior year through now where all my major life events have happened.

First, my then boyfriend joined the Army and I got to go to South Carolina to see him graduate from Basic Training. Not long after that, he took two weeks of leave to come home from the second half of his training. During that two-week leave, we got married! On December 27, 2015, he asked my parents if he could marry me and then subsequently asked me to marry him. Then on December 29, 2015, we got married! Yes, we were engaged for less than two days and yes, we gave our families basically no warning. But it’s okay. My dad was the officiant and we had a little get together at my house with my immediate family, his immediate family, and my high school best friend and her family.
My little brother, almost seven years old, walked me down the aisle.
A little after wedding picture. On the far left is one of my best friends, Shawna; then my little brother, and on the far left, my brother-in-law.
Shawna surprised us with a cake.
After that, I continued to go to college and Mark went back to Georgia to finish his training. In January, we got orders to move to Seoul, South Korea after he finished his training in June 2016. Then at the end of May, right after my 21st birthday, he graduated from his training at the very top of the 3 classes that graduated that day! It was incredible to see him do so well and thrive.

Then at the beginning of June, we had two weeks of leave between him graduating and us moving to Korea. So we took a little honeymoon trip to Universal Studios in Florida! I have dreamed of going to Universal for years because I LOVE Harry Potter and wanted to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter since I heard about it. Finally, that dream came true! The three days at Universal were THE BEST! It was so exciting and better than I could have imagined. We also went to Busch Gardens and while we had fun riding the roller coasters, we weren’t that impressed after coming from Universal. 

Then we spent a day and a half at Clearwater Beach and it was my first time at a beach. It was way, way more fun than I imagined it would be and I wish we had more time there. Then we visited our families before we moved to a new country.
 If you're ever at Clearwater Beach, I HIGHLY recommend you stop by Pearly's Beach Eats. They had THE BEST fish tacos I have ever had. They were all we ate.

So we moved to South Korea and I was here for two months before I had to leave to finish my last semester of college! I spent four months in the States finishing up my degree while spending time with my family and college friends. Then, on December 17, 2016, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature! It’s surreal to think that I finished college. I feel like my family just dropped me off at college and I’m already finished. I don’t think it really hit me yet because technically it’s still winter break. I think it will really feel real when school starts back up and I’m not joining my friends going to the first day of classes. 
My high school into college best friends. From left to right: Shawna, Felix, and Morgan. 

My English major friends. From left to right: Elizabeth, Sarah, and Jenna.
On the bright-side, I am now permanently living with my husband in Korea and we get to finally and truly begin our life together.

There we go! That is the last year and half of my life in a nutshell. Now I will be able to blog about our adventures as a married couple living overseas in Seoul, South Korea. :)