28 June 2013

New to Me in June: my first clothing item and a new country!

This is my first time linking up to New to Me in 2013. I like the idea because, well, almost everything in quilting/sewing is new to me since I only really started this year!

Recently, I made a skirt and it turned out okay, but kind of puffy/poofy. I think I actually made it in May but as I just photographed it yesterday I'm going to say it was new in June.

Ignore bad picture and dirty mirror, note poof

I followed this very nice tutorial for making the ruffles (the cheater method not the full method) and it worked out pretty much perfect. I think the problem was in my choice of trim - it's a bit stiff. I've washed the skirt since making it and that has definitely helped it lay better, but it isn't quite what I envisioned.

Attempted Copy
I think I might end up taking it apart and removing some of the fabric from the ruffles. Alternatively I could add a lining which sort of negates instead of solves the problem. In the future, I will use a lighter fabric, like the one in the skirt I copied, if possible.

 Pattern: Nothing official, I just measured another skirt that I have and tried my best to copy it.
Fabric: Most of the skirt is light blue solid with a grey polka dot for one layer, the trim, and the tie. I'm 80% sure that both of them came from Walmart...
New Techniques: clothing, making a really skinny tube, ruffles, and using the button holer (I was really excited to use the automatic button hole thing on my sewing machine - so cool!)

The other thing that is new to me in June 2013 would be Korea. I left my homeland on June 5 and have been experiencing new things everyday! I am slowly but surely learning the Korean alphabet and I can now sound out most words even if I don't know what they mean. My vocabulary is limited to numbers, phrases of politeness, and a few food names but I am working on that too. The lab that I'm working in is quite different from the one I'm used to, as is the food. Barely a day goes by when I don't eat something new!

And now, because I'm being all kinds of efficient, a link to Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts!

(two linkies in one post? win!)

23 June 2013

서울대공원 (Seoul Dae Gong Won) Seoul Grand Park

This past weekend I went on a little solo adventure with great success. I rode the subway and even navigated my way through 2 transfers to the Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon. I am overly proud of this, as you can see.

The Seoul Grand Park is a huge area that includes an amusement park, a zoo, an art museum, a botanical garden, a rose theme garden (whatever that means), a petting zoo, a nature trail, and a campground. Grand indeed. It cost ₩3000 (~$3) for a ticket to the zoo and botanical garden which is inside and would have been another ₩1000 for admission to the theme park as well but I didn't even get to the park until 1 pm so I figured just the zoo was enough. In fact, I didn't even end up seeing everything before I was too pooped to continue.

As far as zoos go, this was a good one. Let me start off by saying that I LOVE the zoo. I used to watch a ton of nature documentaries on Discovery channel when I was kid (before it became all reality TV) and I think my love for the zoo is related. Anyway, there were some animals that I had never seen before. Most notable, the lesser panda!

These cuties were really popular so it was hard to get a good pic

I also liked the slow loris, it was like a live teddy bear. I couldn't get a picture of it, sadly, because it was in the nocturnal animal building so there was no light. Just trust me, it was adorable. Another rarity/interesting thing for a zoo connoisseur (that's right, I went there) were the white peacocks. I don't think they were albino because their eyes weren't red, but all the feathers were white. I caught one giving it's little romance dance to a female peacock.

She was not impressed.

They had some various 'deer' that look more or less like other deer but I don't think I had ever actually seen these particular species before. They also had a feed the Dall's Sheep area instead of goats. There is also a pet the kangaroo (technically wallaroo) area but I missed it because it's only for 30 minutes once a day.

You can pet this!

The ape area was not as extensive as the one I'm used to at my home zoo, but the lion area was intense. They had at least 8 lions. While I was there, a trainer was throwing them chunks of meat and they were super excited. She was careful to make sure it was fair, but there was still some sort of uproar (get it?) at the end.


I was also impressed by the numerous free flight areas they had for the birds. The peacocks and pea fowl had one, there were two or three separate ones in the tropical bird building, and there was a huge one that people weren't allowed in for storks and pelicans and geese and the like.

tropical birds ^_^

The funniest thing for me was seeing a red-eared slider in one of the amphibian/reptile buildings. These things are so common at home that it was really weird to see one in a zoo with all the other much more exciting creatures.

Exotic? I think not.

I looked over my map carefully while writing this and did not miss much, mostly just the South American corner (supposedly there are llamas) and one small area in the middle (not sure how that happened). One thing that I should have skipped but am really not sure why I didn't was the Insectarium (I don't think that's a real word...). As the name implies, it was full of bugs. Primarily tarantulas and scorpions. Ew. Super ew.

Why do I do these things? Why?!?

 And now, to wrap things up, a couple of photo mosaics of other cool things I saw!

18 June 2013

Eat All the Things!!!!

Has more or less been my mantra since arriving in Korea. Overall, Korean food agrees with me. A lot of it is pretty spicy but almost everything is delicious.

I say almost everything because today, for the first time since arriving in Korea, I tried to eat something and failed. It was gross. Here's the story (of course there's a story).

Every morning I take the bus to the university hospital where the lab that I work in is. And every morning I think to myself that if the bus ride was about 5 minutes longer I would definitely vomit. Towards the end of last week, I think it was Thursday, I discovered that there is a vending machine near the elevators in the lobby of my building and have started buying a drink to settle my stomach in the morning. Last week I had this pineapple soda but I wasn't feeling the carbonation this morning so I opted for the one that said 'tea' and figured that would be good. Unfortunately, it turned out to be black bean tea and also gross. Generally I am a fan of black bean, but I can not handle this tea. If I had taken a little more time to sound out the Hangeul on the can (it says "bulak been") I would have known what I was in for but probably would have tried it anyway.

The offending beverage.

Now, on to the delicious things! First up, to cancel out that tea, is my favorite Korean drink: Milkis - new feeling of soda beverage.

Even the can is happy!

I mostly eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria with my labmates during the week. The only really Korean thing I've had there is kimbap, everything else is kind of generic cafeteria food with an Asian lean to it. Except for the weird "salad" they sometimes have. I think they think that anything mixed with mayonnaise is automatically Western style. The noodle salad is good and actually does taste like American macaroni salad but a lot of the other ones are just weird. Edible, but weird and maybe a teensy bit wrong.

Other things I've eaten include Korean style Chinese noodles, fruit juice (like a smoothie), bingsu, pizza (one half bacon and potato the other half shrimp) and, my personal favorite, jjim dak. I don't have a picture of the jjim dak because I was too busy eating it. In fact, I've been seriously derelict in my picture taking duties since coming to Korea and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the little 8 year old kids have better cameras than me... Or because I'm just too busy eating!

bingsu (flavored ice with stuff on top), banana milk, more tasty drinks, and the
thing I ate in Seoul with my host's daughter that I don't remember the name of (it was good!)

To make up for my poor picture taking, I went a little overboard last night at the lab dinner. We went out for samgyeopsal which apparently directly translates as three layer meat. 

AKA: pork belly

This is one of the many cook it yourself style Korean meals. I was actually super excited to try it because I saw this video before I came here and have been drooling, er, dreaming about it ever since. Anyway, here's how it works...

Step 1: cook it!
Step 2: choose side dishes/toppings
Step 3: pile it all in a leaf and stuff it in your face hole
Step 4: add soju and beer liberally
Step 5: cook remaining things with rice after meat is gone

That's pretty much all there is to it. The whole affair took maybe two or 2.5 hours and everyone was stuffed. Lots of talking, laughing, and drinking were involved, but fortunately no singing (I've heard singing often happens and am more than pleased to have not had that cultural experience yet). After dinner we went our separate ways, mostly to go watch the World Cup Qualifying match against Iran (we lost T_T but apparently still qualify).

This is what the table looks like after 10 people eat samgyeopsal

12 June 2013

Apartment Tour

I am so in love with my apartment here in Korea. I think it is a little expensive, but apparently it's actually a really good price for Korea (according to my PI). Either way, it's very comfortable and I wouldn't mind transplanting it back to the US with me in August.

And now, a photo tour:

The entry way and all important shoe cupboard, complete with house slippers.


View from living room. The door on the left goes to my flatmate's room. The kitchen was preloaded with dishes, utensils, a kettle, soap, rice cooker, cutting board, and pots and pans. The only down side is that there isn't an oven, only a hot plate.

The living room has a couch, coffee table, TV, and air conditioner. The back wall is a huge sliding glass door leading out to an enclosed balcony. The windows and doors here are cool because they can slide both directions, as in each half of the window can slide (neither pane is fixed).


The bathroom has a Korean style tub and shower (very deep tub and no shower curtain) but the toilet is western style so all is good. There are shower shoes too.

Last but not least, my room and my wardrobe! The bed is so much bigger than what I'm used to and the pillows are much flatter. Overall I would say it's comfortable, but it took a little getting used to.

I lied, that wasn't last. I forgot the views from the balcony:

The buildings in the foreground are mostly part of the university and you can see an apartment complex in the back left. The university hospital, where I'm working, is more or less that direction but it is much too far away to see from my apartment.

안녕하세요한국! Annyeong Haseyo Hangug! Hello Korea!

I'm alive! I've been in Korea for a week now (time flies!) and it has been quite an adventure so far. I'm not even sure where to begin...

I guess I'll start with the trip. I woke up super early last Wednesday morning to take a train into the city for my first flight to Toronto.

I couldn't resist some Tim Hortons while I waited!

That flight was short, as was the layover. The flight to Incheon, however, was almost 14 hours. They did feed us a lot though and I wasn't sitting next to anyone loud, smelly, or obnoxious so I would call it a win overall. My host had arranged for two guys from the lab to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment. Although I had prepared for making the trip myself, I am really glad that I had a guide because I was so tired that I kept nodding off on the bus. If I had been by myself I might have fallen asleep and woken up in Seoul!

On Friday, I went to McDonald's with my new labmates (mostly female, for a change) for lunch. The first questions I was asked were, in order:
  1. Where are you from?
  2. How old are you?
  3. Do you have a boyfriend?
I'm not even kidding. Interestingly, no one pressed me for an explanation on the whole no boyfriend thing. I was actually expecting it but I'm glad no one asked because I haven't thought up an appropriate response.

After lunch, the guys from lab took me around to do some shopping. Mainly getting a phone and bus card. Again, I was planning on doing it myself but in the end I am so grateful that my labmates helped me out. Especially because, unlike when I was in Hong Kong, I am finding it quite tough to get along without knowing the language. In HK there is basically always someone in the vicinity who speaks English well. So far, that has not been my experience in Incheon. I only know about 4 words of Korean so far (hello, thank you, yes, no) and they are not actually that useful. I'm getting the hang of the alphabet but I'm still not entirely able to sound things out. I'm on a pretty steep learning curve.

Despite my language and general ineptitude, I did manage to conquer the Home Plus Mart. It took two tries, but I did eventually succeed. This place is a marvel. It's like super walmart on steroids and a fancy department store rolled into one with a little bit of IKEA sprinkled on top. The first time I went, it was Friday afternoon/evening and the place was a zoo. There were so many shoppers and sales people that I couldn't really take my time to actually look at stuff and figure things out so I got the bare essentials (like something edible) and decided to go back when it was less crowded. That less crowded time was Saturday morning and my Home Plus Mart experience was much more enjoyable. The most important thing I learned from these adventures in shopping is that "1+1" is apparently Korean for buy one get one free and that if you only get one when it's 1+1 the cashier freaks out.

Since my arrival, I've naturally been comparing Korea to the other Southeast Asian countries I've been to. The landscape definitely reminded me of HK from the moment I lay eyes on it, but Korea doesn't seem to be as over run with super tall buildings as HK. The neighborhoods around the University remind me the most of Taipei and Taiwan in general.

Look, there's a mountain!!!

The one thing that equates Incheon with Vietnam in my mind is the traffic and driving styles. They drive like maniacs here. The lines on the streets, the lights, and the street signs all seem to be taken more as suggestions than rules. They also have U-turn lanes, which is terrifying. This driving style reminds me of Vietnam, except in Vietnam everyone rides scooters whereas in Korea everyone is in a car. I biked on the roads in Vietnam, I wouldn't dream of it here. Come to think of it, people walk kind of like they drive. Everyone always walks down the middle of the street in the neighborhoods even when there is a sidewalk. And they're not real interested in moving out of the way for fellow pedestrians or motorists. I'm probably going to get run over by the end of the summer.

Anyway, enough random musings and first impressions. I'm supposed to be working ^_^

05 June 2013

Prepping for Korea Part 3: Texas Teardrops QAL

As I'm writing this, my present for my host is in the washer getting a rinse before I pop it in the dryer to fluff it up before I leave for Korea in the morning. And by morning I mean in like 5 hours...

The binding isn't all the way on yet but it was getting dark

I'm pretty happy with my QAL results even though I only finished one version, the one that's a present of course. The full size, square, actually following the pattern version is in the all ironed but not appliqued yet stage. Hopefully I will be able to finish it this fall when I come back. Anyway, back to the one I did finish!

I decided on pebbling for the main quilting which was an experience. I'm glad that this quilt is really small (about 40x48) because pebbling takes forever and a TON of thread.

After a quick test, I went for it!

For the borders, I did a little loopy swirly thing with a leaf-esque pattern in the corners. I also did one echo in the center of each teardrop to keep it down. I really like how the quilting looks from the back. I also really like the fabric I found for the back, it has a little bit of gold in it.

borders and corner flower/leaf thing

A zoom in of the back

Check out the flickr group to see everyone else's super awesome (and mostly full size) teardrop quilts!

Update 12 June 2013
I finally got this quilt all wrapped up and gave it to my host on Monday. And she liked it (huge sigh of relief on my part). Turns out this is her favorite color scheme - lucky! 

Also, if anyone is wondering, the squares for the pieced border come from the scraps from cutting out the teardrops. I used the smaller size teardrop from the back of the pattern and a layer cake. I used 41 10" squares total for this quilt mostly from the neutral love collection at Connecting Threads. The inner and outer borders, binding, and backing came from my LQS (which is my way of saying I have no idea who they're by or what they're called).