How To Make Friends for Grown Ups

It sounds so lame for a girl in her 20s to be saying this, but I need to make some friends – and it’s hard! When I look back I realize that every friend I have is from school or work, and of course these develop because I see the same people everyday and am forced to interact with them. I made friends and when I left high school all the hard work had been done, it was simply a matter of keeping in touch with them.

Image

My high school friends and I had a pretty cool style of knee-high socks and braces, (I’m on the far right).

As we get older though people move or, as has happened to me, they change and you and that person just don’t click anymore.  To be honest I felt like a total loser for having such few friends in my life, and then I stumbled across this article on xojane http://www.xojane.com/relationships/the-plight-of-the-best-friendless, and realized that I am not alone!

Image

Things can be kind of sad without a friend to walk with.

So how do we make friends? Like I said, most of our friendships come from hanging around the same people on a regular basis at places like work. You have some sort of common talking point and of course eventually you are going to feel comfortable enough talking to these people outside of the work situation. Work friends are great, but we need to get out there and meet people in other places. Unfortunatley in this current world many people my age say that they make friends through drinking, and its not surprising. You are far less self-concious and much more chatty with a few drinks in you so talking to strangers seems pretty easy. Going to a bar, talking about music or whatever then waking up with a new friend is easy, but I don’t really like this idea.

Image

once upon a time drinking was my way of making buddies.

As I have mentioned  I am not much of a drinker anymore and I do think this is kind of a false way of meeting people.   I also think that as I don’t drink, if I meet drunk people then we aren’t going to have too much in common (not that these people aren’t amazing and really cool, I just think we might want to do different things when we hang out).  If you want to make friends the best thing you can do is look at yourself. What types of things do you like to do? If you like reading, join a book club! Exercise? Take a class like Zumba. It seems silly to spell it out but if you go to places that you enjoy then you are going to meet people that you have a common interest with and there is a chance that you may just make a new friend.

Image

friend date at a baseball game.

 

We live in a time when we don’t use out conversations skills all that much due to the internet and phones (I sound like such a nana). That’s all well and good, but when you turn up to a club or event with the intent to meet some new people then you need to brush up on your conversation. It can be so daunting to go up to a stranger and  say something, but chances are they are feeling just as nervous and self-concious as you are! One great icebreaker is just commenting on the class you are at, for example ‘that was such a hard yoga class, I haven’t been practicing it for very long, how about you?’ A little chit chat can go a long way especially if you make that effort each time. Asking people how their weeks are going or if they have seen some new movie or read a new book is a great way to get to know someone and find out if you have much in common.

This may seem a little lame, I mean learning to make friends is what little kids do right? But I do think that during our 20s as we go onto that next stage of our lives many of us realize that we don’t have as many friends as we used to. I know that for me socializing is hard and I have struggled to have to confidence to just start talking to strangers and meet new people. At the end of the day though life without friends  is not a life well lived.

Image

Advertisements

Reasons to Teach in Asia – Cute Kids!

Sometimes I have these moments where I look around and feel really happy about how things are going in my life. I don’t necessarily mean that I am looking at everything as a whole and feeling like everything is on track, that is never the cas (my life is so far off any type of track)! Instead I just take a moment to be thankful for where I am today, because things aren’t too bad. I hope you have these types of days too!!

Image

Today started with my obsession, strawberries!! Way too many. I have been going to the same fruit market every day in order to build up some sort of relationship with the cute couple that own it. They are elderly and always say hello to me whenever I walk past. Yesterday they gave me some giant strawberries for free, made my day 😀 So I demolished most of them this morning.

Image

At work we had a field trip which was just awesome because it was a Friday. We went for a ‘spring picnic’ which is Korea = great photo op.

Image

There were hundreds of school kids at this beautiful park, we spent an hour walking around and taking photos at every chance we got. It was really sweet though to realise how well we are getting to know these kids. Everyday the same kindy kids come from 10:30-2:30 and  are taught by each teacher for half an hour. Already I have seen these kids more then I saw my students within 9 months in China. I felt so happy to have this job and work with such cute kids.

Image

His name is Teddy, but he goes by Teddy Bear

Image

Image

So unfortunately for you that means you are getting bombarded with photos. Hope you have a great weekend 😀

Image

Image

Tales From a Pet Cafe

Did you have a childhood pet? I had a cat that was the worlds cutest and most amazing cat ever (I am sure many out there are saying the same thing). I loved her dearly and was so sad when she had to get put down. Since then I haven’t had a pet due to flats not allowing them and the travel thing. Lucky for me I heard about pet cafes in Korea, a place where anyone can come and play with cats or dogs in a clean, well looked after area. Sounds strange but awesome!

Image

Not an ad for cat pasta! a restaurant shares the same building as the cafe.

Because most Koreans live in tiny apartments the idea of a family pet isn’t common. Those who do own cats or dogs often keep then in tiny rooms and have them because they like the idea of a cute little thing they can dress up. So pet cafes are pretty popular with Koreans who just want to play with animals. I found out about one in Daegu and visited it on Sunday with my friend, Cherry. It was advertised as having one room for cats and then a separate one for dogs, you have to buy a drink to enter (and it costs a little more then the  average coffee), but other then that you can stay as long as your heart desires.

Image

Glamor of shots of the cats there that day.

Image

Image

everywhere I looked there was a cat hiding and sleeping

 

So first we went to the cat room. It is really well cleaned and looked after, I was pleased with how these animals were being treated. All were trained, groomed and had a ton of food and water at their disposal. There were lots of cat toys and one of those crazy cat playground things for them to hang on. It was cool seeing how afraid many of the Koreans are of cats (not used to them I guess), and I made my way around the room checking out the goods.

Then I saw it.

Image

The owl cat.

Image

The cutest god-damn kitten I have ever encountered. As my heart skipped a beat the owl cat climbed up onto my lap, feel asleep and started purring. I died a little inside.

Image

After managing to tear my away from owl cat, Cherry and I went up to the dog room. I had high expectations as dogs are awesome, but unfortunately this was where it got weird.

Image

Imagine a room full of 15 dogs, all different breeds and no toys to play with. It was the craziest of crazies in there. So much barking and fighting and peeing on the floor!!

To make matters worse this giant beagle decided to sleep on my lap and kept attempting to do that dog thing where they turn around in circles before sitting down. It was so uncomfortable and I did not enjoy the fat-ass dog bumping it’s head into my face every minute. We only stayed about fifteen minutes then quickly vacated (deciding not to go back to the cats as we smelt like dog).

Image

So pet cafes, sound kind of crazy right? To be honest it was a fun way to spend an afternoon but I wouldn’t go back. I get that they can’t have pets in most families so this is a good way for people to get their animal fix without subjecting a cat or dog to an unfair living situation. But seeing all these animals kept inside and forced to socialise with each other bummed me out a bit. To be honest if the owl cat hadn’t stolen my heart I probably would not have enjoyed it at all. If you are in Daegu the cafe is very easy to find. Go to the main stage downtown and walk down the street directly behind it, the one closest to the Burger King. Take the first left and keep a look out for the sign I posted above, as always keep looking up as there are huge pictures of a cat on the fourth floor on the building.

Oh Korea what will you think of next!

Thankful for a relaxing weekend

Sometimes the rainy weekends where you do nothing really are the best ones.

Image

This weekend I had a friend visiting from Seoul, I am super akward and the idea of hosting events or people is nerve racking so I was really worried about what there would be to do in Daegu.  Plus Seoul is kick-ass and has everything so I knew she wouldn’t be impressed with all the Western restaurants and bars here.  And of course yesterday when I woke up it was raininy, so the mild plans I had about walking around downtown to explore were gone.  In the end I had a really good weekend, full of coffee, food and chatting.

Image

strawberry kebabs, heaven on a stick

 

After we got back from the train station we went out to a really good Indian Restaurant called Maya. I don’t know what it is about Asia but their Indian food is just awesome, NZ is getting is way wrong. I had the vegetable korma, a naan and rice because I couldn’t pick just one and food is awesome.

 Image

The best meal for a rainy day!

One thing about Korean people is that they really take their time when they go out to eat or for coffee. It is common for couples and friends to sit over their meals for a few hours just chatting and relaxing. It is a nice concept and makes the meal less about stuffing your face with goodness and more about socialising. We ended up having a really long lunch then going to get coffee, because Korean coffee shops are just so unique.

Image

Dinner was late and at an Italian restaurant  (terrible lighting, no photos) and followed by a few drinks downtown where I was amazed with how many foreigners live here. Sometimes I can go into a place so full of foreigners that I really do forget I am in Korea and get a shock when I walk outside.

Image

Asian poses are a necessity

 

After a big sleep in we missed breakfast and went to Pho Mein. How damn awesome in Vietnamese food!! I ordered a bowl of rice noodles topped with vegetables, pineapple and sauce. They left the meat off for me, something I always dread asking in Korea but at this restaurant I got no weird looks from the staff – yay!

Image

Spring rolls with peanut satay to start… oh my goodness!

Image

Image

And my main, I couldn’t finish it and have been stuffed ever since.

Image

The rest of the day was spent wandering downtown (And visiting the pet café which I will write about tomorrow as it deserves it’s own post) before heading to the train station. I feel silly now for worrying about the weekend, sometimes all people want to do is chat with a friend over good eats. I feel thankful to have friends here and to live in such a great city. What are you thankful for this weekend?

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Sick again, arghhhh! All week kids have been dropping like flies. Some were sent home during the day, others just sat in class slowly dying. Unfortunately Korean parents do not have the mentality of ‘my baby is sick, they must rest at home to get better and so they don’t infect the other students.’ No, instead they force their kids to school will the hope that they wont have to be picked up later. I  guess they pay a lot for these English Academies. Anyway it means that I am sick – the week I have a friend visiting 😦 It’s going to be a long day of medicine and coffee for me. Plus it is raining, why do these things always happen when we have an actual weekend planned.

Image

nutritional yeast in all it’s glory

 

It was a comfort food night when I came home feeling unwell. So I decided to try out the nutritional yeast I bought of iHerb and make mac and cheese. I haven’t eaten this in two years probably due to

1) being in cheese-less Asia, and

2) attempting to be a healthy almost vegan.

But I miss it so, there is something magical about a good cheese sauce. Nutritional yeast is an amazing powdered cheese substitute which is vegan and healthy. Instead of all the fat in normal cheese it is packed with protein and iron which makes me feel like less of a terrible person for scrapping the bowl clean. Of course you can use regular butter and milk for this if you aren’t vegan, but I decided to go all the way.

Ingredients

1 TB vegan margarine

1 cup soy milk

1 TB flour

1 tsp paprika

4 TB nutritional yeast

What to do

– prepare pasta and vegetables as you normally would on the stove.

– In a separate pan, melt the butter before mixing in the flour and milk. Try to mix quickly and remove any lumps.

– Add the paprika and yeast and stir the sauce over a low heat. It should begin to thicken. Add more milk if you feel it is to thick. When you feel it is done, salt and pepper that baby.

– Pour over pasta and vegetables, eat yourself into a food coma.

Image

I realise this picture is terrible but I forgot to take any with my good camera as I was eating and making it, blame my not feeling the best. But the sauce looked like this, pretty close to the real thing in my books! It was a little darker and tasted kind of like a sharp cheddar. It was the bomb, totally hit the spot and I didn’t feel gross after eating it.

ImageI actually adapted the reicpe from this one (http://ohsheglows.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6004224) which was on ohsheglows.com. But I didn’t have all of the ingredients because I am in Korea, it still turned out pretty good! Anyway I am going to have a little clean before my friend gets here (or watch the new Parks and Recreation and procrastinate). Have a good weekend 😀

 

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

I have a strange obsession with food documentaries. I say it is strange because I love watching them, but do not eat a super healthy, juice-fasting, kind of diet. I think what I find so addicting about them is seeing how food can transform our lives and the impact it has on the inside of our bodies. I have seen a ton of these moves (Food Inc, Forks over Knives, Simply Raw and so on) but each time I marvel at the power of a good diet. It does motivate me to eat a bit better and try to add more raw, whole foods into my days.

Image

So last night I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It was awesome. The story follows an Australian who did – get this – a 60 day juice fast!! That just blows my mind as the thought of doing that for a weekend makes me sad, I love eating too much.

As expected he looses a ton of weight and is able to cure a medical condition he has had for over ten years. Where the story gets interesting is when he encounters an American truck driver who weighs 400 pounds. The two fast together and we are left with an amazing and heart warming story (excuse my cheeseyness). I totally recommend this movie as it didn’t preach about how miraculous green juice is and make you feel like an awful person for not partaking in a similar fast. Instead it encourages us to make small changes and at least try. That’s some realistic healthy eating  advice I can follow!

Image

Other then that I have been really successful with adding more protein into my days, thanks to beauties like these. Morning tofu sounds odd, but it is soft tofu that has been flavored and is surprisingly delicious. Don’t knock it till you try it! I hear so much negativity about tofu and soy but too be honest I don’t listen to it that much. I eat tofu 3-4 times a week because it is a great health food that I can easily incorporate into different dishes. Sometimes I think that if we listened to all these articles that have been written about the dangerous of food there would be nothing left to eat and we would all live in fear of meals. 

A bit of a dull post today, but tomorrow I am going to attempt vegan mac and cheese with my nutritional yeast. It will either be a huge accomplishment or a sad disaster. Have a good one 😀

Running Woes

Today I am trying to have happy thoughts.

 Image

However lately I have been having running issues and it is seriously getting to me!

I started running in December, did the couch to 5k, and became an addict. I run for exercise and also because I feel amazing when I achieve personal goals with it and it gives me so much confidence. In short, running makes me feel badass and like I can take on anything.

The day I left NZ I ran 5k without stopping for the first time. This was huge for me. I was so proud of this goal and went to Korea knowing that I would be serious about running there. Luckily I live across the road from a pretty park and I started running straight away. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I got sick and had a week off. This didn’t seem to make a difference and I was running again a week later. However today I went for a run, 3.7ks and came home realising that I have not made any progress in the past 5 weeks. I have been unable to run 5ks again, even if I stop and walk halfway then continue to run. I am also not getting any faster with my pace, it is staying exactly the same.

Image

post running face, own that ugly running mug!

 

I know I should look back on how far I have come and be happy that I see 3ks as a small run. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to others (even when the guy I work with has been running for 5 weeks and brags about the 10ks he ran in the weekend – I don’t quite believe him). But for me I feel like I am going backwards with running and not forwards. So frustrating!!

Perhaps it is my diet. After last weeks post I have been adding more protein and iron into my diet, snacking on nuts and yoghurt for example I have even been drinking carrot juice at lunchtime to get some nutrients into my meal of rice and salad. I really hope that in a few weeks this pays off and my running is back on track. Until this, any advice?

Image

On a much sadder note the Boston marathon news has made me thankful to be on this planet doing the things that I do. It has reminded me that life is too short and uncertain. For me the marathon is an awesome event due to Katherine Switzer. She was the first women to ever run the marathon back in 1972. She is seen in this picture trying to do her thing while the event organizer attempts to pull her off the course. At the time the idea of women running was crazy.  She completed the race, still runs it, and overall shows how running can give us confidence and make the world change a little. The fact that some one has ruined this event and all the good that it brings just breaks my heart. The people involved in the race – spectators or runners – deserved to have an awesome day and that was taken from them.  I guess it does put my running troubles into perspective.

 

Korean Cooking Class

One thing I have trouble with is really getting out there to meet people and make friends. It is just hard and I would rather stay at home watching TV shows and surfing blogs then I would go out to event to make some new homies. However in Korea if I don’t make an effort then I am going to have a really boring and lonely experience. With that in mind today I went to a Korean cooking class which I randomly heard about, meeting people seems easier when food is involved.

Getting there was a mission as I had to walk half an hour and then take two subways, however I made it. There were four of us in total and we went to the instructors house not knowing what to expect. It ended up being a crazy cute little pottery shop (the women running the classes also makes really cool pottery), with a really nice kitchen run by three Korean women in their 60s. They had all lived in places like American so were very Westernised and had amazing English. When they told me that we would be making bibimbap (mixed rice with vegetables) my heart jumped for joy as it is my favorite Korean dish.

Image

the ladies in the kitchen

I never realised the preparation which goes into Korean food. Each vegetable was individually steamed, marinated and prepared with so much love and care. They showed us how to make mung beans, spinach, carrot, and zucchini Korean style, as well as some small vegetable pancakes and a tofu soup which would be side dishes.

Image

excuse the beef on the right, this was for the non-vegetarians

This process rook over an hour, I am amazing at the amount of effort and time they put into these tiny little dishes! And I could not stop thinking about who would be doing the dishes…

Image

When we sat down to eat the table looked so good, I couldn’t not take photos. This shows the toppings for the bibimbap, cooked tofu with a really good mystery sauce, zucchini pancakes and the side soup.

Image

Image

Final bibimbap, I want more just looking at this.

Image

In case you are wondering that is red pepper paste in the middle. It is literally ground up red peppers, Koreans like their food hot!

When we were down the women surprised us even more by making tiny rice cake pancakes for dessert. These were just rice flour with water that are fried, served with honey and have a small flower on top to make them look so damn beautiful.

Image

Raw

Image

Cooked. These were really yummy, like comfort food all hot and sticky.

The day was really nice and very Korean. I met some new foreigners but for the first time I felt like I was doing something cultural. The tiny size of the class allowed for us to talk to the women and really get to know them. We talked a lot about Korean women and their role in the household and how it is changing. I think I will be going back for more. Yay for me getting out of my comfort zone!! What did you do this weekend?

 

Sring is here! (I think)

Image

Would that be the sun poking it’s head through the trees?

Today it has finally started to warm up and everyone in Daegu seems to be enjoying the spring-time weather. I feel bad sitting inside on my laptop right now and am going to force myself to go for a walk soon.

This week was pretty good in terms of my new eating goals. I concentrated on adding the right foods into my day and, while I didn’t hit the amount of protein that I should have eaten, I consumed much more then previous weeks. Once I stopped filling up on foods like breads and rice that don’t really have much nutritional value I found myself feeling less gross and bloated and more ready to eat protein goodness snacks like almonds. I do think that I need to buy some protein powder however, guess that means I will have to order some more stuff of iHerb.com… how disappointing…not.

The day started healthy.

 Image

A big bowl of strawberries, oats and almond butter. While the almond butter is a bit sweet, I am seeing this as a good thing as it means I can’t eat too much of it.

After breakfast I made myself hop on a bus and check out the downtown area, I have been here a month but haven’t really explored Daegu. After getting really distracted by a cosmetics shop (Korean cosmetics are just amazing, they have everything under the sun and it is much cheaper then back home), I walked around and was heading back when I saw a sign for a park. It was only 100m away so I thought I may as well see what was up, turned out there is a kick-ass park in the middle of the city. It is centered around a government building from 1801 that the city decided to turn into a focal point for a park when the offices moved.

Image

that’s a badass government building

Image

Image

thanks for the advice strange door

 

I walked around for a bit then headed home to do some yoga, drink coffee (do these things contradict one another, if so I do not care) and make lunch.

 Image

I made the mother of all salads with lettuce, roasted sweet potato and homemade spinach chips with nutritional yeast. Trying to eat this was hilarious. On the side I had a grainy roll that a bakery near us sells and is crazy addictive; as well as some cut up pear with almond butter. Hmmm maybe I don’t dislike that almond butter as much as I thought…

I’m going to try and enjoy the sun, whats the bet it will be gone by tomorrow. Have a good Saturday 😀

 

 

I heart iHerb!

Today is Friday so I am supper excited, happy and apologizing for the random post. The day started awesome with a huge bowl of strawberries.

Image

Right now I am excited because I ordered a bunch of vegetarian goodies on iHerb.com and it all arrived at work, just in time for the weekend 😀

Image

My loot. I ordered some multivitamins to get my iron and everything else I am sure to be lacking in Korea, as well as chia seeds because I am about to run out. Side note – chia seeds are one of those things that I eat because people tell me they are really good for me, but in reality I am not too sure how they are such a super food. I eat them because they are so easy to add to any meal and hey why not. I also found nutritional yeast which has made me super excited. I always read about nutritional yeast on vegan food blogs you can’t get it in NZ.  Not only is it vegan but it is a cheese substitute and finding cheese in Korea is like finding gold. There are so many recipes I want to try!! I have had a hankering for almond butter (it has been 5 weeks since I had kind of nut butter, that includes peanut and I am seriously missing it!) I chose Jason’s vanilla almond butter which was opened at lunch time due to the fact that was fish day and it just looked so appealing.

Image

This actually disappointed me a little. It was yummy but very sweet. I have heard of people using nut butter as a dip for sweet potato wedges but when I tried that for dinner it just did not work. Oh well, I am sure I can find many ways to eat it, and it is a good source of protein.

Because I felt like it I also got a couple of treats to try, a pumpkin flaxseed energy bar and some spicy kale chips (way too good). iHerb is awesome, is you ever want to order off it then you can enter this code LHL876 and save $10. Such a happy day coming home with all these goodies! I then managed to go for a run and have returned home to stuff my face and have a few drinks. Happy Friday!!!!