23 April 2013

Seoul Walking : Hoehyundong (Above Ground)

Hoehyundong (회현동) is where I live, it's my neighbourhood. It's a tiny little nothing place, more than a bit seedy in parts. But I love it. I love it because it's right in the heart of Seoul, new and old. It sits bang in the middle of a trifecta of awesome - with Namsan, Namdaemun and Myeongdong all a few minutes walk in one direction or another. There's also the Hoehyundong underground shopping centre, but more on that later...

Hoehyundong itself is pretty scrappy and worn out. But there's colour and life everywhere you look; people working hard to make a (small) living. There's hairdressers and wholesalers and cafes full of Konglish. There's more convenience stores than you think any one suburb could possibly need, chicken and beer joints, and some "hotels" that I'm pretty sure charge by the hour. There's cooks doing their dinner prep on the street; sellers with loud hailers, plying baskets of fruit from the back of their ute; and delivery guys on over laden motorbikes. And come Spring there's pot plants on every road side, on every concrete path and step, filled with tenderly cared for chilli seedlings and all kinds of lettuce. 

The area is earmarked for development. Our shiny new apartment building was the start, and since we've been here a few more towers have shot up. In ten years time I think the place will be unrecognisable, for good and for bad.  

19 April 2013

Death by Doxie : Hounds On The Couch (Elfi's Fort)

Oh hi Elf! 

The other night I was home alone with the dogs. I think it might have been night number three home alone. Or maybe four. Either way, it was about the time when I start having fairly lengthy conversations with the dogs. And taking way too many photos of them sitting on the couch. 

This particular night they were looking especially cute - Elfi had made a cushion fort and Ferdi was working extra hard on his sad eyes. Cue me taking 80+ photos of them. There are many, many 'hounds on the couch' blog posts to come...
This last photo - I think that's pretty much the point when Elfi had had enough. But I hadn't, so stay tuned...

17 April 2013

Collecting Colours : Black + Green

Black and green should always be seen! There's something about the sombre seriousness of black pared with a splash of happy fresh green that does wonderful things for me! One of my favourite colour combinations... I adore a classic black polo shirt with a green stripe on the collar, or a LBD with thick black stockings and crazy bright green heels - a serious, polished look with just a hint of quirk. 

These diptychs featuring black have been quite the challenge, I'm rather pleased to be moving on to a new colour next month. I'm really pleased with the way the first and last one turned out. I like the repetition, the patterns. But I'm not such a fan of the middle two. It's an interesting process, figuring out what images work together. It's often not what I think will work when I'm first reviewing the individual images. 

ps. A few of you have got in touch to apologise for not getting involved in the challenge so far this year - please don't! Life is busy and there's so many things we all want to do. I'd love you to join in whenever and however you can. I can not stress this enough! I really want it to be a fun thing (challenging yes, but fun too!).

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Every month through 2013 I'll be 'collecting colours', and you can join in too! Just create something, anything based on the colour pair for each month. Link up below, Instagram, Tweet and/or add your photo to the Flickr group here. You can go here to get all the information you need.  

11 April 2013

New listings + Discount (yay!) + North Korea (boo!)

I've finally found some time to list a few new goodies in the Jorpins Handmade shop - pom pom gift tags (these are so happy and bright) and the lovely sakura mini cards (featuring Japanese fabric sakura against a textured paper background). 

And in celebration of the new additions (and in a nod to current world events) I'm offering a 15% discount on the entire shop - just use the code  SEAOFFIRE at checkout. If shipping is disrupted by resumption of the Korean War I'll let you know. 

But seriously...I am a bit over all the hyped-up reporting on Korea right now. Everyday I see headlines shouting about Korea being on the 'brink of nuclear war', when often the article that follows is actually quite a measured, balanced assessment. It's unsettling for me, and it's especially unsettling for my family back in Australia. 

Seoul is very calm right now (apparently so is Pyongyang). But yes, people are concerned. They may have been through this all before but this time there's a few differences which are a little unnerving. But - people are going about their daily lives, and the vast majority of South Koreans don't believe a war is likely

I think Andrei Lankov nailed it in this op-ed when he says 'the farther one is from the Korean Peninsula, the more one will find people worried about the recent developments here'. That's not to say there isn't a risk that it's all going to go pear shaped, and that I'm perfectly relaxed about the whole thing. I'm not, but I still believe that an attack by North Korea is incredibly unlikely (all of their war rhetoric thus far is prefaced by 'if you attack us...then we will turn Seoul into a sea of fire etc'). And  anyway, this article reassuringly suggests that if they do attack statistically there'll only be about 200 non-Chinese foreigner casualties. (No mention of dachshund casualties though.) 

I could go on and on - I've been reading a LOT of news and opinion lately - but I won't bore you anymore than I already have. Right now we're all waiting for North Korea's 'imminent' missile test. I'm not sure what that's going to bring, but for now things are good. Well, aside from the Spring sleet/snow, that totally sucks!

So...back to the Etsy pretties!

10 April 2013

Seoraksan : From Winter to Spring in Three Days

A few weeks ago a rather dear friend came to visit. This is a friend I've known for 30 odd years; we grew up in the same street and went to the same schools. The kind of friend who happily reminds you of the time you showed off your lyric-remembering-skills by reciting that bit from Madonna's Vogue. The kind of friend where you find yourself frequently saying 'oh gawd, do you remember when we were 12 years old and had matching 'Smoking NO WAY' t-shirts?'. The kind of friend that you know you'll know until you are both very, very old. It was pretty great having her in town. 

As part of her visit we went to my favourite-place-in-Korea-to-take-people-to (aka Seoraksan National Park) and it was as breathtakingly beautiful as ever (and now even has a rather hip coffee shop, with actual good coffee! It's housed in a newly built hanok and seems to be run by the local monks. Pretty great.). 

We stayed at the Seoraksan Tourist Hotel which is right inside the national park. Great for natural beauty, not so great for eating options, but I'd definitely recommend it for a night or two. It meant we could stroll through the park in the dark of night. Which was actually rather spooky, especially after I came face-to-face with (okay, several many metres away from) some kind of giant wart hog creature. 

We stayed for two nights and we did three walks - the easy stroll at the top of the gondola, a moderate stroll to the Yukdam and Biryeong waterfalls, and the rather more strenuous hike to Ulsanbawi, a 833 metre high granite crag. The Ulsanbawi walk starts of as a rocky tree lined path, weaving along streams and temples, and ends as a succession of crazy steep metal stair cases bolted to the side of the rock. Quite the work out, but worth it for the amazing, truly vertigo inducing views (you can see all the way to Sokcho on the eastern coast). Because it was mid-week the only other hikers where the fully kitted out Korean retirees - so friendly! And so fit; there's nothing quite like being over taken by a grey haired 60 year old to give you the motivation to get up that last set of stairs...

The day before we arrived there'd been a snow storm, so the ground was thick with (rapidly melting) white stuff. By the last day there was a warm spring breeze blowing, hardly any snow on the ground and green buds all around us. From Winter to Spring in three days!

09 April 2013

I guess if you haven't seen Finding Nemo then this quote may not sound like a lot. But if you have then you'll know that these words from Dory mark the moment in the movie when your eyes tear up, more than a little. 

I've got two go to movies for when I'm feeling a bit blah and need a (slightly teary) smile - Finding Nemo and Love Actually. I've watched both more times than I can count. Luckily the husband loves them too. We watched Finding Nemo with the step-sons again recently, on a lazy sunny afternoon. It reminded me that it really is as close to a perfect movie as you can get. 

The font is a a nice, simple hand drawn one - and it's free (yay!). It was made by Elsie from A Beautiful Mess (on her iPad!). It's called Tall 'n Skinny and you can get it here.

05 April 2013

Death by...Doxie?

Okay, so this is clearly not a dachshund. But it is a ridiculously cute Korean chipmunk. Seriously - look at how ridiculously cute he is! And in honour of his cuteness he is getting his own death by doxie chipmunk post, okay? 

My friend and I spent three days in Seoraksan last week and we spied loads of these adorable stripey little guys. Most of them were moving too fast to be captured on camera, but on our last day and the end of our last walk we met this cutie. Depending on how legal/lethal it is to feed wildlife in a national park, we may (or may not) have lured him closer with a nut. I know, I know, hanging head in shame... 

ps. If you are desperate for a dose of doxie click on over here. You will find a capybara looking after a whole litter of dachshund pups. Which is possibly the greatest thing ever. (With many thanks to Ngaire for alerting me to this piece of awesome.)

01 April 2013

13 Things in 2013 : An Update

Three months down hey? How did that happen? Time is flying by, yes? Anyhoo, being the first of April (Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy April Fools, etcetera...) I thought I'd revisit my little list of things I want to get done this year and see how I'm tracking so far. By giving myself grades, of course.

1. Learn to use Photoshop Elements. B. Well, I know a lot more than I did three months ago. But I was starting from a very, very low base.

2. Learn a new photography skill. C. I bought a 35mm lens and have taken roughly 735 photos with it over the past few months (I'm drowning in photos that need editing and cataloguing and posting. Ugh). And on a recent trip to Seoraksan (more on that later) I played with some night time shots. But it would be a stretch to say I've actually learnt anything. Hence the middling grade.

3. Do something with my 500px account. And submit some images to Alamay. And put my best ten together to submit to the Getty Images Flickr collection. F for Fail! No progress here, though I really feel like I am very close to posting some images to my 500px account. Really close.

4. Do a monthly project. A. It's happening people! The posts have been a little late some months but it's been awesome (and thank you for those of you who have been playing along and/or leaving lovely comments.)

5. Make one pom pom wreath every month. D-. Well, I made one in January. And I'm about a third of the way through a second one. This was kind of a big ask (what was I thinking?!) but I am hoping to make up ground in the next three months. The husband is going to be travelling, a lot, and lonely nights at home equals loads of pom pom making...

6. Get through The Big Project without completely losing my mind. B. Aside from a few minor freak outs things are going okay. But things haven't really got serious yet. Stay tuned.

7. Do something with my hair. D+. Well, I've stopped wearing it in the half tied knot thing every single day. But I still wear it up every single day. I just can't stand loose hairs around my face. But I have been wearing pony tails and plaits, and experimenting with the odd headband. So not a total fail.

8. Remember our wedding anniversary. It's not till July so...

9. Attend a workshop at either Harvest WorkroomPrints Charming or The School. F. Hasn't happened yet and looking increasingly unlikely considering all the up-in-the-airness of life right now. Maybe 2014?

10. Send more mail art. E-. (Is that even a proper grade?) This should basically get a fail but I did send two giant mail swap packages - not exactly mail art but it's something, right? But I have plans! My lovely bloggy friend, Ronica at Bad Jones Rising, is a rather talented collage artist and she's just sent me some gorgeous collages. Great inspiration to create some paper art of my own.

11. Read a book a month. A+. I've finished four books! Okay, one of them was technically a graphic novel and one was a book I started last year but it all still counts right? So far I've read: George Orwell's Coming Up For AirThe Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal; Women of Letters by Michaela McGuire and  Marieke Hardy; and PyongYang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. I've loved them all but this last one is especially fantastic - humorous and crazy and sad - and if you have any interest in North Korea and/or graphic novels you should run out and buy it now. I've just started reading another three books. Feeling fairly confident about holding my grade on this one.

12. Maintain my current fitness routine. B. To be honest I'm a bit over the current regime of gym and yoga. Luckily I've had a few days hiking mountains and pounding the Seoul pavements. If I find time I'm going to throw in a few bike rides as well. Boredom is the enemy here.

13. Make a Collecting Colour calendar for 2014. F. No progress but come on, it's only April right?

ps. Seeing as North Korea is splashed all over the news at the moment I feel like I should say something about it. I guess I'll just say that life goes on as normal here. These two countries have technically been at war for 60 years and being threatened by the North is nothing new. And although this time things do feel a little more heated the consensus seems to be that an all out war is unlikely (after all, the North is not suicidal). But really, no one knows. And yes, it does unsettle me a little. The move to Sydney (now postponed to August!) really can't come soon enough for my liking...

ps. If you're interested in finding out more I've been tweeting a bit about it, and I also have a 'Korea' list on Twitter which is made up of a wide range of news agencies, locals and academics. It's my main source of news and opinion about anything North Korea related (thank goodness for Twitter!).