Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Goodbye October 2017

Going through the month of September, it felt slow. Mark was gone on TDY for two weeks and while I can function without him, life is so much more fun with him. So those two weeks were long and sucked. However, the rest of the month was good, we had two four-day weekends framing his TDY which were wonderful. But also because of him being gone, we didn’t get to do a whole lot of stuff this month. Regardless, September was good and now that it’s over, it seems like it went by in the blink of an eye. Now that we are heading into fall and holiday season, my FAVORITE time of year, is going to seriously fly by.

Reading //
Last month was a good reading month but this month was kind of meh. I’m still in a reading rut, especially because I’m mainly in the mood for specific books and finishing series. However, I absolutely loved what I read. I finished the second half of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which I started in August. Of course I loved this, it’s Harry Potter. 

I also read the first book in the Percy Jackson series which I reviewed here. It quickly snagged a place in my heart and I’m super excited to have another series that struck me like the Harry Potter, Mistborn, and Chronicles of Nick did.

Finally, I read Endless by Jessica Shirvington which is book 4 of the Embrace series. This is a series that I love but forget that I love it when I’m not currently reading it. This book was so good and really kept me glued to the book. Especially the last 150-200 pages where I cried the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I sat for two hours while Mark played video games and read and cried and cried. My heart hurt after finishing it. Right now, I’m mad at the ending and I hope that book 5 ties up the series well. After finishing the book, I needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air and spend some time with Mark to get my bearings back. Even trying to tell him about it made me cry. I’m making it sound horribly sad but it was so good and not sad like Nicholas Sparks books.

Watching //
We didn’t go see any movies this month. I think it was a mixture of him being gone for two weeks, the theater on-post closing down one of their screens, and there not really being any good movies out in Korean Theaters.

I did watch more Gilmore Girls of course. I’ve made it through seasons 4 and I’m very upset and not liking Rory at the moment, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched it.

We also watched a lot of Rick & Morty. A few months ago, when Mark started watching it. I immediately decided that I didn’t like it because I normally hate adult swim type shows. The only ones I liked were Futurama and Bob’s Burgers. Eventually, I decided to try Rick & Morty because it seemed like EVERYONE loved it. Once I gave it a chance I loved it. We watched through seasons 1 and 2 over the past two months. Then when we started watching season 3, I realized that I wasn’t catching a lot of the references that season 3 made to seasons 1 and 2. So we went back and re-watched them and wow, I missed so much. I think because Netflix would move the show to the corner of the screen while it counted down to the next episode and we would miss the little ending bits that are after the credits. Now that we’ve re-watched it, I understand so much more and we’re almost done with season 3 which is really sad since who knows when season 4 will come out.

Doing //
We went swimming at the new Camp Humphries water park and it was so fun. We didn’t get to swim this summer because the pools on the bases closer to us suck and the pools off base are even worse and the water parks off base are insanely expensive and super crowded. We are the kind of people who are super active in the pool, we like diving, swimming, going down slides, and whatever else is available. So going to pools that are just a big square is pretty boring to us. The water park at Camp Humphries had slides and diving boards and was huge for an on-base pool, was cheap, and when we went, was practically empty! There weren’t lines for either slide or the diving board. It was great.

When Mark came home, we went to Oktoberfest on base and it was…pretty bad. The food wasn’t that great, though they had great mushroom gravy; the beer was okay, they had a local on tap and bottled German beer. There were also no activities like ones in the states that are like mini fairs. So, it was pretty boring. We ate and left and went our favorite pub to play some darts and just spend some time together.

We explored Namdaemun, Myeongdong (our favorite), Yeouido Park, and Yeouido Hangang park, went for a bike ride, ate a lot of food, and even tried a churro dog (a hot dog but the bun is a churro without the cinnamon) which was delicious.
September Monthly Wrap Up
Finally, we got couples pictures done and they turned out so great. It was our first time taking professional photos so we were really excited. Photos courtesy of Byrd Nest Photography taken at Namsan Park.
September Monthly Wrap Up
September Monthly Wrap Up
At the very end of the month, we went to our first Korean baseball game. I’m not into sports like at all, but some friends of ours invited us so we went and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The concessions were cheap which is so nice compared to America. They have cheerleaders and a spirit section for each team and it made the game much more interesting. The crowds really get into it and sing and dance. They got livelier as the night went on and even after the home team was for sure losing, they were still super lively. It made it so much more fun and it was funny watching Mark and the other husbands dance and act silly. It was worth it, even for someone who doesn’t like sports.  
September Monthly Wrap Up
September Monthly Wrap Up

October //
I’m so excited for this month. I love Halloween. Normally, I go to 3 or 4 haunted houses but I don’t know if they do that here. I know for sure we’ll watch Halloween movies and carve pumpkins. I don’t know what else we’ll do since once again, Mark may be gone for training for two weeks.

What was the highlight of your September?

See you next week! :)

Kylie <3

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to make the PERFECT vanilla Latte

How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
I LOVE coffee. I am a total coffee addict. I drink about one or two cups a day, mostly for the taste, but sometimes because I’m tired and coffee gets me moving. Back in college, I used my meal plan dollars to get a Grande Breve (half&half) Vanilla Latte, extra hot, and no foam (because if it wasn’t extra hot, by time I got to class the coffee would be warm and no foam because I don’t like buying a 5 dollar cup of foam). My college Starbucks’ made the best coffees and they knew me by name and order which was wonderful, especially since I stutter. Now that I’m not in college, I haven't been able to get coffee like that as much because I had to use actual money out of our actual bank account and I’m not for that. Plus, despite the abundance of coffee shops in Seoul, their vanilla lattes are absolutely horrible and they’re super expensive, about six dollars for a “tall” size.

Because of the expensive horrible coffee here in Seoul, I mainly made coffee at home. However, despite my love of coffee, I am horrible at making it. I had a drip coffee maker from my parents and a French press and I could never produce good coffee from either (though my non-coffee drinking husband can). We bought a Keurig for this exact reason because I love coffee but can’t make it. I’ve used it religiously for the past year, but plain coffee isn’t quite the same as a latte. Then one day I found an espresso machine on one of the military community buy/sell Facebook pages here for $25 and snatched it up! I was worried at first that my curse of bad coffee would transfer to espresso, but thank goodness, it did not! I am able to make a vanilla latte that is *almost* as good as the lattes from my college’s Starbucks and 100 times better than what I can get here for 6 dollars. Now, after my ramblings about coffee, here’s what you need and how to do it!

What you need //
How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
  • Espresso Machine (I have this DeLonghi EC155 which I've found good for my amateur at home latte making. As long as the espresso doesn't taste burnt and can be tasted through all my milk and sweetening, I don't really care how perfectly the espresso is brewed)
  • Food Scale (we have this one. This is also optional, but helps make a consistently good latte)
  • Espresso of your choice (I use Café Bustelo because it’s cheap and one of only two espressos I have access to.)
  • Milk of your choice (you can use regular, half & half, almond, soy, cashew, etc.)
  • Syrup of your choice (I, of course, use vanilla but use whatever you like and I use the Torani Brand as it's the only brand I have access to)
  • Optional: sweetener of your choice
How to do it //
1) Pre-heat your espresso machine Follow your espresso machine’s instructions. Mine requires at least a 20-minute heat up time so I’ll often turn it on while I make breakfast so that it’s done by the time I’m ready.
2) Measure 7-9 grams of espresso into your espresso filter, I use the two shot filter. If you don’t have a scale, it’s about 2 heaping teaspoons (not the measuring spoon just a regular old small spoon).
How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
3) Press your espresso. My espresso machine came with a tamper attached to it, but if yours doesn’t, then you’ll need to purchase one like this. Make sure to not press too hard but hard enough that the espresso looks pressed.
4) Begin brewing your espresso, I found that about 30-35 seconds of actually espresso drip is the perfect amount of time. You may have to play around with this depending on your espresso.
How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
5) Pour your milk into a mug, measuring cup, or other milk frother cup. I use a one cup measuring cup and fill 4 ounces with half & half and 2 ounces of regular 2% milk (because half & half is expensive). But 6 ounces of any milk of your preference is the perfect amount. Steam the milk until it reaches the temperature you desire. I like mine very hot and with not much foam so I don’t purposely foam my milk by leaving the frother near the top of the milk.
How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
6) Combine your espresso and milk. Add the syrup of your choice and sweetener of your choice if you desire. I don’t have a spoon measurement for the syrup but I add about 3 seconds of pouring for sugar-free and 5 seconds of pouring for regular syrup and it comes out perfectly vanilla to me. I also add a little sugar because I like my lattes sweet. But this is up to your preference.
7) Sit back and enjoy 😊
How to make the PERFECT vanilla latte
I hope this helps you make a better latte. What's your favorite coffee drink or if you don't drink coffee, what's your favorite drink to get at a coffee shop?

See you next week :)
Kylie <3

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kylie Reads: Percy Jacks & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Can we talk about why on Earth it took me this long to read this series!? Not only did it take me forever to even buy the first book (Sophomore year of college), but I’ve had the first and second books in my library for 3 years now, they even moved to South Korea with me! I decided to finally pick the book up recently because I wanted something similar to Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Nick to take my mind off the fact that my husband was at a temporary duty station for two weeks. I wanted something set in fantasy but wasn’t super involved and was light and fun to read. I am SO glad that I did! I absolutely loved it and I understand now why there is a whole huge fandom centered around the series.
Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old with a history of getting kicked out of schools and is the son of the Greek God Poseidon. After getting kicked out of his most recent school, he finds himself at a summer camp for kids who all have a Greek God as one parent. Quickly after that, he is thrust on an adventure to try and stop a war amongst the gods.

For a short book, I loved the amount of adventure in it. There was enough to keep me glued to the book but it wasn’t over the top. I also liked that since it’s a YA book, that the adventure isn’t gory or crazy. It’s just nice clean adventure. I was also surprised that for Percy being 12, it doesn’t read like he is. I often forgot that this is a 12-year-old boy going across the United States to save the world, he could very well have been an older teenager. I’m really excited to read the rest of the series. I looked on Amazon and there’s a box set for 25 dollars with beautiful covers. So I plan on adding that to my library soon. I can also feel this series quickly becoming an all-time favorite of mine and one of my series that I get Funko Pop Figures for haha.

Overall, I loved this book and I highly recommend this series. If you like YA books with a lot of fantasy, a nice amount of action without much gore, and if you like Greek mythology then I think you would like this book. I know that the series starting out with such a young character seems off-putting for older people, but it’s not very noticeable once he leaves school. Also, if you like series such as Harry Potter then I think you would enjoy this.

Book rating: 4.5 out of 5, I absolutely loved it!

Have you read or do you plan to read the Percy Jackson series?


See you next week :)
Kylie <3 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My favorite Bullet Journal Supplies

My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
Bullet Journaling is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I love making lists and filling things out, hence why I have so many trackers in my monthly, you can see a monthly set-up here. Over my year of bullet journaling, I have accumulated a few items that I use every day or even if they aren’t used daily, they're something that’s important to my journaling.

A Variety of Colorful Utensils //
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
My absolute favorite colorful pens are the Staedtlertri-plus fine liners. They write wonderfully, come in a vast array of colors – especially if you spring for the 42 pack – and they last for forever. I love how thin they write and how vibrant the colors are.
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
I also use Papermate Flairs and Le Pen, I don’t like these quite as much but I love pens so I buy them every now and again. The Flairs are a bit of a thicker point than the Le Pen and the Staedtler so I mainly use them for outlining.
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
Crayola Colored Pencils are a classic pencil, while they may not do as well as high end colored pencils they serve the purpose that I use them for and they’re great. Plus, they're cheap.
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
Crayola SuperTips are a wonderful, cheap way to add a little color or use for highlighting and underlining. I’ve heard you can learn to hand letter with them, but I haven’t had the patience to try.
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
Zebra Mildliners: A cult classic for bullet journalists. I love that they are double sided and I love the muted but still vibrant colors. They were great for college and they’re still great for just journaling. My only qualm is that they're expensive and hard to find if you’re not in Asia.
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
My regular writing pens are just Sharpie Pens. I was using a Pilot G-2 but they smeared horribly in my book, even after I waited a few minutes. Sharpie pens also don’t bleed or ghost as bad and they dry instantly. I use a Pilot G-2 pencil for my outlining and a Pentel Clic-Erase eraser, both are long time favorites of mine. I also have a uni-ball style-fit multi-pen with a .32 tip on all 3 pens. It’s super fine and wonderful when you want to write neatly, but super tiny.

Washi, Washi, and More Washi //
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
I sometimes use washi tape to add little pops of cuteness to my book and to sometimes cover up mistakes. It’s super versatile and comes in hundreds of patterns. I pick up a roll every now and again when I’m at Daiso or ArtBox, they’re kind of expensive (to me) so it’s not something I get often.

6-inch ruler //
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
I was using a regular 12-inch ruler and decided to spend the dollar and get a 6-inch ruler and I’m so glad I did. The 6in is so much more portable and it fits the notebook better because it is an A5 size and isn’t even 6in across. Such a simple, but a nice item to have.

A Portable Printer //
LivingWhimsicalDreams - My everyday supplies and must haves for Bullet Journaling
My husband bought me a Polaroid Zip printer for my birthday and I absolutely love it! I love being able to print pictures of fun things Mark and I do and stick them in my bullet journal as a memory. It makes it so fun to look back.

What are some of your favorite journaling supplies?

See you next week :)
Kylie <3 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Goodbye August

Another month has ended! We are flying through this year and it’s hard to believe that this time last year I was in my last semester of undergrad. Time seems to keep going faster and faster. But I’ve always wanted to do monthly review posts and decided that I might as well start today.

Reading //
This month was a Harry Potter Binge month. I’m not really reading them in order because I’m reading them in order of my favorite book. Harry Potter is a comfort series for me like it is for many people. I had quite a bit of anxiety this month and wanted books that were familiar and decently happy and preferably not set in the world we live in. So I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I got halfway through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in July. I may or may not finish the series throughout the rest of the year, but the last 2 books are so much darker and I don't really want to read darkness in my books...at least not knowingly.
Aside from Harry Potter, I read Saturn Run by John Sandford. Keep an eye out for a review on it, I loved it! I also read Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon, book 4 in the Chronicles of Nick series. Which I also loved as this is one of my favorite series – I might do a review on this one as well but my thoughts on it are basically the same as my other reviews on books from this series which you can read here and here. Finally, I read Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, the last book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. You can read my review on that here.

Watching //
On my own, I watched season one of Gilmore Girls. I’ve previously watch up to season 4 but decided to start over since the last time I watched it was August of last year. But I love this series. The relationship between Rory and Lorelai is great and similar to the relationship I have with my mom. Stars Hollow and its residents just makes me want to move to a small town.

Mark and I are watching The Flash and Grimm and love them both, but we started Vikings on a recommendation and binge-watched season 1 in a day and are almost done with season 2. But we had to take a break because I needed a break from the gore and violence. I do enjoy the show though.

As for movies, we watch Despicable Me 3 for the second time, but this time in a 4Dx theater. I don’t think the 4D added to the movie like it did Spiderman (a movie we watched in 4D in July). But it was still fun, especially because Mark fell asleep halfway through and somehow stayed asleep despite the seats moving. It was entertaining though because his head was flopping around with the seat. Anyway, that’s the only movie we saw in the theater this month. The on-post theater wasn’t playing anything we were interested in and the local theaters weren’t either.

Doing //
We only had two weeks of time we could go do anything because Mark worked every day for the last two weeks. We managed to pack in quite a bit of stuff during the few days he had off. It's starting to cool off so we went on a very long bike ride along the Han River and while fun, I thought I would die on our way back because it was a 26-mile round trip. On the next weekend, which was a four day for him, we went on a River cruise and it was a blast, though we wished it was longer and we plan to do the dinner cruise soon so we can enjoy and hour and a half long cruise. After the cruise, we walked around Yeuido Hangang Park for a bit afterward where we got great drinks from a bongo truck and watched someone play guitar. Then we went to a global food festival where we had amazing Cuban sandwiches and a Cuban sausage from a little food truck - which is a little sad because I have no idea how to find that food truck again and the food was so amazing.
So those were the highlights of the month of August. Hopefully, September will bring great memories, especially after Mark gets home from what is essentially a short TDY, and we can go out and explore some more :).

What were the highlights of your month?

See you next week :)
Kylie <3


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo Review


I finished a series… er, trilogy! This is very rare for me. I have a very hard time finishing series. Not because I don’t like the series, but because I like the series so much I don’t want it to end. I definitely have series that I have been reading for many years that have ended but I still haven’t finished reading. I’m working on it though. I started the Grisha, or Shadow and Bone trilogy, this year and finished the third and final book: Ruin and Rising, this month. I feel accomplished haha.
I thought that the third book was a wonderful end to the series, writing a review about an end of a series is difficult as I don’t want to spoil anything. But anyway, everything, and I mean everything, was tied up very nicely, there were no loose ends and I wasn’t left with any questions. It also had a nice twist near the end. While it ended very nicely and in a positive way, I can see people not liking the ending because there were many ways it could have ended. But I am overall happy with the ending and the little twist that I wasn’t expecting. While I never had many expectations for how the series should end, there was one particular element that took me by surprise. I was also, just going along with the love interests. There wasn’t one I was particularly drawn to. I did like all of them though and rooted for each one in turn as the story moved through them. To be honest, I would have been happy with any of the guys she could have ended up with.  Maybe that would be a draw back for some, but with the amount of romance in non-romance YA novels, I stopped caring and I just kind of go with it; unless I really dislike one of the characters. Character wise, I am particularly happy with the development of the Darkling. I enjoyed learning about his past and how he got to the way he was and how that influenced the world in general. Overall, it was an entertaining read and that’s what matters to me. With all that is going on in the real world, I want a novel that flows and is entertaining. 

As for the series itself, I recommend it. I loved that the series has a different magic system. That is something in fantasy that will instantly catch my attention. I love a unique magic system and the Shadow and Bone series delivers. I enjoyed that it was an easy and quick fantasy world to get into but didn’t feel underdeveloped. Whether you’re a seasoned fantasy reader or new, it’s sometimes nice to be able to jump into a world and not have to read 500 pages of world building before any real action begins. Leigh Bardugo also has the Six of Crows series which is apparently set in the same world as the Shadow and Bone trilogy. So I will definitely be picking up that series in the future and seeing how the world she built evolves. 

Book rating: 3.5 to 4 out of 5 – I enjoyed the book and the ending to the series. It was entertaining and closed the series well.

Series rating: 3.5 to 4 out of 5. The series was enjoyable and fun to read. The world was wonderful and well-built for a short YA series. 

Have you read the Shadow and Bone Trilogy? Do you plan to?

See you next week :)
Kylie <3

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July Bullet Journal Set-Up

It's a new month and it's crazy! I feel like I just created my June set-up and here it is - July - we're over halfway through the year and it's unbelievable. Anyway, this is my first time doing a Bullet Journal set-up on my blog and it's about time; I've been doing Bullet Journaling since May of last year and I've been completely obsessed the whole time. As a preface, I take a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and Youtube. So let's jump in.
My first spread is my calendar, general task list, and goals & thoughts for the month. I like doing a more Bullet Journal system traditional calendar in a list format, partly because I like the way it looks and partly because I cannot manage to draw a two-page traditional calendar. So I have all the important dates like birthdays, paydays, holidays, and when bills are due. On the right-hand page, I have a section for general tasks that need to be done during the month but not on any specific day and then a section for any goals for the months or random thoughts that I need to write down.
Then I have my habit tracker and my thankful for page. Although I rarely have a successful habit tracker, I still like having it and doing it. The thankful page provides a nice place to write anything I'm thankful for or quick memories.

Now starts the random trackers. To be honest, these don't really have much true purpose. I create these and do them mainly to have stuff to do in my journal. I'm not super creative so unless I have a lot of trackers, the only thing I have to do is make my to-do list. I love doing things in my Bullet Journal and these trackers gives me more things to do in it and it makes me happy.
First, my health tracker. Every day I rate how my mood was, how much sleep I got, if I exercised and the type, my energy levels, and then I write in the air quality for the day since the air quality in Seoul can be very terrible.
Next, is my cleaning tracker. I like being able to cross things off in multiple places. So this has my weekly cleaning tasks separated by room. I found that I like outlining what room I'm doing on certain days since my husband doesn't work a typical 9-5 Monday-Friday shift and I do any big cleaning on days he works. It helps and it's nice to see when things have been cleaned.
Lastly, I have our budget tracker. I write our income on the top of the page then write all the transactions we do throughout the month. I guess we do a sort of "envelope" system without actually taking out the cash. So we have categories like food, gas, and spending money. I write where we spent it, the category, the amount spent, the account balance, and the category balance. It's nice to see where money is going and we have been able to see where we randomly blow money *cough cough* the Post/Base Exchange.

I plan on doing separate posts for the different trackers and how we do our budget. If you want to know more about bullet journaling check out Ryder Carroll's original idea here and a good source of more creative Bullet Journaling from Kara at Boho Berry here.

Thank you for reading and talk to you soon :)