29 November 2011

Photos from Seoraksan National Park

Some photos from another trip we did to the staggeringly beautiful Seoraksan National Park back in October.  On this visit we did a gorgeous (and steep!) walk up to a cave - Geumganggul - which turned out to be a tiny temple, complete with gorgeous lotus lamps, praying Buddhists and a breathtaking view. Quite magical really.  

I've finally uploaded the photos to Flickr, so if you're interested in seeing a bit more of this truly wonderful part of Korea you can have a look here.

28 November 2011

Three non-glossy magazines I'm loving right now...

Those of you who have read my blog for a little while know that I love a good magazine, and lately I have encountered a bounty of printed lovelies!  Kicking of with Remedy Quarterly, a little tome dedicated to 'stories of food, recipes for feeling good'.  I haven't yet delved too deeply into these yet - you could safely say that I have judged Remedy by it's brightly hued covers - but I am already loving the gorgeous colours, layouts and fonts; and the understanding Remedy seems to have that food is more than sustenance, that it's linked to our life and our memories.


Next on my reading list has been Issue No 5 of Anthology - 'living with substance and style'.  I am constantly tearing sheets out of my lifestyle/decor magazines and whacking them in scrap books, but although I am rather inspired by much of Anthology's pages, I don't have the heart to deconstruct it.  It's too pretty and too 'complete'.  

And saving my favourite till last, here's volume one of Kinfolk, 'a guide for small gatherings' (available online, for iPad, and in print - if you're lucky!).  Kinfolk is 134 thick pages of stunning imagery and beautiful layouts featuring recipes, menus, table settings and more. Volume one includes a Summer playlist, a tribute to the cloth napkin, and a 'darn good sandwich'.  Seriously gorgeous stuff.

23 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like xmas...

For some reason that I can't quite remember, last year I didn't have the time or energy to do anything xmas card-ish.  Or maybe I did send some out.  I'm really not sure.  I'm a bit tired today.  Anyway...

The year before that, pre-xmas was the time when we were waiting to find out if we'd be moving to Seoul or not (after just signing a two year lease in Hong Kong!), and sending xmas cards was so far from my mind.  Then the year before that, I actually went to the trouble of designing and ordering a bunch of cards featuring Ferdi and Elfi looking ridiculous in santa hats and 'posing' around a poinsettia.  Trouble was, I didn't actually get around to sending them to anyone.

But this year is going to be different.  (I think, I hope).
It helps that I can't decorate the apartment until the step-sons get here in a few weeks, so craft is a good outlet for me to feel the holiday vibe and assuage my envy at all the gorgeous trees I'm seeing going up around the world via Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.  

I don't normally go for traditional colours at xmas time, but I actually like the red and green in these simple paper designs - it gives the whole thing a bit of a retro feel, don't you think?

Things to love about Korea #4: Random Compliments

So, here's the thing - Korean women are beautiful.  I mean drop dead stunning.  Yes, in the photo above the first one is a model, and the second one's a K-pop star, but that third one is just a lady on the street (thanks to The Sartorialist).  The hair!  Those dark eyes!  The style!  The LEGS!  (Now if my husband was writing this post, he'd stop here, because this is one of the things he loves about Korea, but I've got a different story to tell, so stay with me please.)  
[Fun with fashion, K-pop style : Sistar in polka-dots, Miss A in... ]

Yes, I know Korea has something like the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world, and K-pop stars don't eat, but I see ladies like this on the streets of Seoul every single day.  Korean women are beautiful.

And most of the time I can appreciate the beauty around me and be mature and not fall in to that terrible, terrible comparison trap.  But every now and again I have one of those days.  You know the ones - maybe you had a massive fight with your husband/BFF/dog last night, or perhaps you haven't had a good nights sleep in weeks, or maybe you're completely stressed out and your skin has decided to let the world know about it (or maybe even all three).  

And on those days when I venture out into our neighbourhood - which just happens to be an area where pretty young Koreans flock to get their fashion fix and to flaunt those legs in the shortest hemlines - I can't help but feel a bit frumpy, a bit tired and old, a bit chunky.  

And in that sea of shapely thighs and glossy locks sometimes I start shaking an angry fist at my lack of willpower and my Western love affair with pasta and bread, and cursing my parents for not having a single shred of Korean DNA to pass on to me.

And then, out of the blue, some random shop assistant will say 'you are very pretty'.  Really!  You see, whilst in my home town I wouldn't cause whiplash walking down the street, as a foreigner in Korea I am still a rare and exotic flower.  (I know of another ex-pat who lived in Seoul for several years and was constantly being told she looked just like Nicole Kidman.  Now this lady is lovely and gorgeous and all that, but she'd be the first to say she is not Nicole Kidman's twin sister.)

And what I like best about this, aside from the fact that it is rather lovely to be paid a compliment (we don't do it often enough do we?  Go on, go pay someone a compliment, I'll wait for you), is that it gets me out of my own head.  

I'm actually very, very good at living in my own head (it's generally quite a lovely place to be).  But those out-of-the-blue compliments that are so far removed from the way I'm feeling at that moment make me remember in a flash that not everyone sees the world through my eyes, that sometimes I need to not live in my own head so much.  

That maybe the reason I had the fight with my husband/BFF/dog is because I assumed they knew what was in my own head, and maybe I need to actually talk them through it, and reassure them that I do in fact love them.  That perhaps I haven't had a good night's sleep for weeks because there's all this stuff in my head that I should let out every now and again.  That the thing I'm completely stressed out about is probably totally solvable, if I took the time to share it with someone.  So thank you, random shop lady, for reminding me there's a wider world out there.

Do you live in your own head sometimes?  Does the world have a way of telling you to get out, every now and again?

20 November 2011

An ode to the humble sandwich

Sandwiches are the unsung heros of our kitchens.  Too often they are underrated, easily dismissed, overlooked for things that we think are less 'every day', more complicated.  But I think a sandwich is a wondrous thing.  Yes, it's a complete and easy meal, but more than that a sandwich can be something of exquisite tastiness; a delicious harmonious blend of flavours, at once comforting and exciting.

We recently procured a meat slicer.  It's like the ones you see at the butchers or in a deli, but made smaller and less lethal for the home kitchen.  As a result we have been roasting many of God's creatures (pig, turkey, cow), thinly slicing the meat and mixing it up in all kinds of sandwich.  Our most ambitious to date has been our take on the hoagie (a 'seriously oversized sandwich' according to The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches).  Ours had ham, turkey, a soft and mild cheese, mustard, mayo, crunchy iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, capsicum, spanish olives and dill pickle on a chewy baguette.  Yum.

ps. If you're in any way interested in the humble sanger I'd highly recommend The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.  It covers all the classics - croque monsieur, club, roast beef - but also includes such intriguing concoctions as the Elvis (mashed banana, bacon, peanut butter), the 'spamwich', the 'fluffernutter', the all-in-one breakfast sandwich (bacon and eggs wedged bewteen two waffles), and the doughnut sandwich ('not for the faint of heart', apparently).

ps (again). Do you love a sarnie?  What's your favorite thing to throw between two slices of bread?  I'd love to know!

15 November 2011

Death by Doxie: The Dogs in Costume Edition (Part 3)

Sooo, this makes three 'dogs in costume' posts...too many?  Am I perhaps losing the last few of you who were defending my crazy dog lady status?  Well, it's a risk I'm willing to take because really, have you ever seen anything more patently ridiculous than Elfi in a hanbok?    

Dae han min guk!

The weekend (plus a few days) that was...

Hooly dooly what a crazy few days it's been!  There's been giraffes and rhinos and meerkats at Werribee Open Range Zoo; tons of fun at Straight to You, the Nick Cave Tribute concert in Geelong; tasty food and possibly a bit too much sake at the rather appropriately named Sake restaurant in Sydney; gorgeous greenery (see above), roos, rosellas and rocks at Jenolan Caves.  Basically five days of friends, family, food and worlds colliding in the best ways possible.  Happy days indeed!

11 November 2011

Death by Doxie: The Dogs in Costume Edition (Part 2)

I couldn't stop at just one outfit could I?  (Well, I  guess I could if I wasn't a crazy dog lady.)  Presenting Ferdi Brown and his pal Peppermint Elfi.  Good grief indeed...

08 November 2011

Hong Kong in black and white

I'm currently sitting in HK Airport waiting for my flight to Melbourne.  Although I'm excited to be flying home, you all know how much I adore Hong Kong and it really does break my heart a little every time I have to say goodbye to this wonderful city/country/place.

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share some of my favourite photographs from my last visit here.  I love shooting HK in black and white because it really brings out all the wonderful lines and grids and patterns that are everywhere.  (I'd say check out my Flickr for more, but I am a few months behind on updating my Flickr stream.  It's on the list!)

From the top: Star Ferry; Smoko time on the Avenue of Stars, TST; Covered walkways in Central, HK Island; 'Secondhand Goods and Curios' near Graham Street, Central.

07 November 2011

Mail Art from Saylor Made (+ one minor panic attack)

Holy cow my mail box has been happy of late.  First there was the stack of handmade greeting cards, then two dresses that I can see myself living in all winter from lyptis, then a package from my Mum which included two bags of twisties, a great book and a cute doxie card.  And now a mail art reply from Saylor Made!  Hurrah!

My favourite part?  That would have to be the handmade envelope featuring two skunks 'hugging' (wonder what Mr Postman thought of that?).  Followed closely by the three mini envelopes, each with little treasures in side.  Consider the envelope-within-an-envelope idea 'borrowed', Ms Made!

On a completely unrelated topic, I'm writing this from the sterile confines of Incheon Airport, where I'm being tortured with muzak versions of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' while waiting for my flight to Hong Kong.  

I'm about to embark on a somewhat crazy trip, which goes a little something like this: Seoul, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney, Jenolan Caves (near the Blue Mountains), Sydney, Melbourne, Seoul.  And in all that madness I'm going to be seeing the Nick Cave tibute concert; avoiding being gored by a rhino; celebrating my Dad's birthday; having an early xmas dinner where my family will meet some of my husband's family for the very first time ever (including, quite possibly, the husband's ex-wife); hosting a weekend away with us, our friends, my Mum, my Step-dad, my sister and nephews...all in 10 short days.  

Excuse me while I go and breath heavily in to a paper bag.

04 November 2011

Death by Doxie: The Dogs in Costume Edition (Part 1)

Being an Aussie I've never really embraced Halloween (although last year we did get involved to help the homesick neighbours out), and so I was just going to let it pass unnoticed.  But then I got an email from one of my step-sons asking if the dogs had costumes.  So then I had to dress the dogs up, right?  I couldn't just ignore him, right? Oh, let's be honest, it really doesn't take a great deal of encouragement for me to start acting like a crazy dog lady...

01 November 2011

Shopping in Paris? Here's my top three tips...

[Paris flea market finds - image by Pamela Jane]

If you're heading to Paris and you're hoping to squeeze in a little shopping, here's my top three tips:

1. Get yourself a copy of Paris: Made By Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk.  It's travel sized and lovely and lists a bunch of gorgeous shops that you might not find on your own.  I only had two days for the wandering/shopping part of my trip so before I left I picked out the shops that looked especially interesting, Google Map-ped them all and planned out a day trip (obsessive? me? no...)

2. If you only have time to visit a few shops, I'd make it these three: 

La Droguerie - if you are a bit crafty this is heaven on earth!  It's got all kinds of sewing related bits and bobs, presented in a really gorgeous ye olde worlde kind of way.  Think worn wooden shelving piled with mason jars full of tiny, shiny baubles; a rainbow of wool hanging down a walkway; a wall of beautiful ribbon and lace (with prices to match).  Lovely.

Astier de Villatte - this was my favourite shop of all the ones I visited.  Once again, there is much in the way of tradition, history and worn wooden shelving, but there is also something wonderfully modern about this little shop.  The ceramics are a stand out - hand crafted in Paris, each piece has it's own unique flaws and imperfections (which I think makes it perfect!).

Colette - just because it's Colette.

3. Visit a flea market.  It's what Paris is famous for, you get to pretend you're a local, and you might even find a little treasure to take home with you!

From left to right, clockwise:
Dragonfly plate from Astier de Villate; 
Fabric off-cuts from ie
'Dentelle d'Alencon' gift tags from Cassegrain
Happy yellow tablecloth from a flea market!