Fudgy Peanut Butter Love

Hello there, how is your Sunday going?

I am super tired after going to bed at 4pm :S Not because of a big crazy night, but mostly due to the fact that I bought a new laptop yesterday and had to download iTunes and sync it with my ipod.

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Seriously why does iTunes have to keep updating and changing. I had mastered iTunes, there was nothing wrong with it but for some reason they decided it needed to look different and change how to manage it. Total first world problems but it was a long couple of hours of googling my issues and playing around with it before I finally figured it out.

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Enough of that rant, yesterday was actually a pretty good day. I woke up and did a Jillian Michaels workout, ate breakfast and then had a sudden urge to bake. It must be the change in season. I made these awesome pb blondies, a friend gave me the recipe for them but I am not sure where she found it so sorry if you have a bloggy and it’s yours!
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The recipe is below and I think you should go and make them right now.

After mundane Saturday jobs like cleaning I headed downtown to buy my laptop, long story short I have a fancy new Samsung which was affordable thanks to Samsung being Korean.  Lunch did not happen until 3pm and was beans on toast – not very classy but tasty.

I attempted to set up my iTunes but got really frustrated and ended up going for a quick 2km run to clear my head.
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It worked a treat and I came back in a much better mood. The rest of the evening was spent having cocktails downtown with a couple of friends before heading home at midnight to deal with the iTunes situation. I am a bit stubborn so refused to give up but my god I am tired today! 4pm is no longer a bedtime that I can handle. This Sunday will be spent cooking and napping before heading out to my book club later this afternoon (let’s be honest, the nap wont end up happening and will be replaced with coffee).

Have a lovely relaxing Sunday 🙂

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PB Blondies

ingredients 

– 3/4 cup of peanut butter (or any nut butter really)

– 1 cup of brown sugar

– 1/3 cup canola oil

– 1/4 cup milk of choice

– 1 cup all purpose flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 cup crushed peanuts

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Steps

– Mix peanut butter, sugar and oil together in a bowl.

– Sir in milk.

– Add flour, salt and baking powder then mix until everything is blended. Place in a baking tray and cover with the peanuts if you want to, these are optional but give it a nice wee crunch. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes or so or until brown.

This is a fudgey dessert so don’t panic if it looks undercooked. Leave it to cool and the blondies will harden a little but also be very gooey and just damn tasty. 

 

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End of The Week

heya, it’s Friday! how will you be celebrating?

Unfortunately my laptop reached the end of its life the other day so my Friday is a bit of a bummer. I knew that it wasn’t doing too well but now it just wont turn 😦 It was already so old and slow that I don’t see the point in getting it fixed and will have to buy a new one tomorrow. Spending money – boo! But at least I will get a new shiny toy out of it.

Anyway one thing that made my Friday a little better was seeing this…

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Those jellybeans have a special place in my heart but since being a vegetarian I have had to give them up. So being able to replace them with a drink is terribly exciting (lame i know)

We had a field trip today which was so boring. Taking 50 kindergarteners to the museum is just such an event! They run around, want to touch everything and get bored very easily! But when we sat down for lunch one of the little boys pulled out a wee lunch his mother had made for each of the teachers. so sweet!!

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It had a brownie, macaroon, fruit cup, muffin and chocolates inside! Topped off with a cute little note. This kids mum brings in things like doughnuts and cookies for us all very often which is so nice of her and very appreciated. Having no family here I like having a women do mum-type things for me. Check out how she cute up and prepared the fruit.

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Gosh i need a manicure!

These mums are really invested in their kids lunches. They make kimbap and put little smiley faces on them, today I spotted one girl whose mum had turned hers into totoro.

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Spam has never looked so pretty.

Coming home from work I was tired but made myself go for the traditional Friday run. I wasn’t feeling it but told myself to just do 2k and ended up getting into a groove. I just un-winded out there, got into the music and ran, ran, ran! In the end I put in 6k!! So happy with myself but I am sure I will feel it in the morning :S It’s funny as I took a rest day last night, something I always have to force myself to do, and ran like a machine today. Each time i have a rest day I end up killing it the following day. It really proves to me just how important rest is as part of training.

Tonight I am just relaxing in bed, sleep is much needed! Tomorrow night I have a wee girls night planned to celebrate the engagement, with my best friends back home I have felt the loss of screaming with girls and jumping up and down like idiots. Tomorrow we shall have cocktails and do just that 😀 I cannot wait.

Have a lovely weekend.

Surviving the Korean School Lunch

I have mentioned before that my Korean school lunches are not vegetarian and don’t offer a lot so I always bring something to beef it up (bad word choice). To give you an example here was lunch the other day…

ImageRice, sauteed spinach and I believe there was fish on the side and some sort of soup (and have kimchi of course)! I don’t generally eat the soups as most of the time they will have some sort of fish stock or anchovies in them.

My goal is to get some more vegetables in the lunch and some sort of protein to fill me up. I always make sure that when I am cooking at the start of the week that I put aside some vegetable before I flavor them and take them to work throughout the week. This is pretty easy and well worth it on the days when the only vegetable side dish has tiny shrimp or something like that in it – seriously why do they have to put fish in everything!!

ImageToday’s lunch was rice, pumpkin seeds, seafood soup and scrambled eggs with shrimp. I was so happy to have my veggies as the seeds and rice looked really sad on the giant lunch tray.

In the past I have worried about protein due to the calorie content, this year I realised how much of an idiot I am.

Protein keeps you FULL!

You may already realise this and be rolling your eyes, but I am amazed at how adding just a small serving to my lunch keeps me going all day. We eat lunch at 12 and don’t finish work until 6 so I really need something that will keep me going. When I wasn’t eating any protein in order to save a few calories then I would get hungry in the afternoon and have a big snack which probably has more.

For the protein I keep is just as simple, here are some ideas

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-already cooked tofu

– nuts (almonds are great)

– carrot sticks with a big scoop of sun butter

– vegetables or crackers with hummus .

This has been working out great, I mix the veggies with some rice and always bring a little salad dressing along to flavor the lunch. Protein has really been making a difference in my day, it is amazing how far a little protein will go. The other teachers fill up on rice with I find bloats my for most of the day and leaves me hungry for something around 4pm.

As you can see right now I have mastered the lunch thing. I am healthy, full, and not offending the Korean culture which is all about sharing and being thankful for the lunch provided. The best thing though is how easy this is, by preparing a little early in the week and  making use of leftovers it only takes a couple of minutes to throw it all together.

Happy eating 😀

Exercise Does Not Always Make You Happy

Just like every other women over the age of 16 I am a huge pinterest addict, I am afraid to work out how many hours I spend each day browsing that website. I particularly love the health and fitness section which is often used to find inspiring ideas and quotes that will get me moving. Usually this is a totally motivating experience and I have found countless sayings which I repeat to myself when having trouble getting moving. 

That is until I came across this one.

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Now don’t think that I am hating on exercise. I work out a lot and truly believe that it does improve your mood and can make you feel a million times better both physically and mentally. My problem with this is that a workout is not always the solution.

Take yesterday for example. I was tired but had it in my mind all day that when the sun had set a little and the weather was cooler I would be going for my run. No big deal, I run three times a week and it was just another workout. But during the day I just felt down for whatever reason, you know how sometimes you just feel ‘blah’ and can’t really pinpoint why. I lazed around the house and spend the afternoon trying to pump myself up to run.
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Late afternoon I pulled on my running shorts and headed out the door. I didn’t feel like it at all but kept telling myself that a run would cheer me up and pull me out of this weird funk. Five minutes in it was clear this was not the case. I got the stitch, it was hot, people were walking slowly on the footpath and I had to keep dodging them. I started to get really angry at how slow my pace was and how tired I was feeling. I run a lot and know what my body is capable of, but yesterday it just seemed unable to run full stop.

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Feeling frustrated I forced myself to keep going (which just made me even angrier) before finally heading home. let’s just say that once I had showered and had some water I did not experience the high I usually get from exercising – I was MAD! Mad because my pace was so slow, mad at the people who had been walking through the park annoying me, and mad that I had run at all. I felt like crap all day and all this workout had done was make me feel worse. 

Sometimes we have bad days and exercise helps a lot, but we need to recognize that there are times when skipping it all together is going to improve your mood – and that is okay! Being tired is a huge factor for feeling down and although it might seem counterproductive, resting your body and mind is part of bringing your fitness level up. By taking a rest day your body heals and the next time you do slip on the running shoes your motivation has returned and you often finding yourself doing a totally kick-ass workout. 

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This mentality that exercise is the best thing to bring you out of a slump is problematic. If you run every time you feel down then eventually you are going to hate that workout! We should exercise because we feel good about it, not because it releases endorphines and we are lacking in them toady. By running yesterday I created some resentment towards the run itself and my body as I felt like it had let me down. 

Instead of turning to exercise when you are having a bad day, sometimes it is better to try other options. Talk it out with someone, if there is a problem bothering me I often find that trying to run it out does not work. I just end up over-thinking and having ridiculous conversations in my head then come home feeling just as stressed as ever. Or, even better, nap it out. Seriously sometimes a wee sleep is just what you need to feel back on track.

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Sometimes what we really need is to just relax! When I came home yesterday I lay on my bed with Korean soap operas and just let my mind chill and body rest. It made me feel oh so much better and I am sure that doing this in lieu of the run would have made the world of difference.

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Exercise is important for mental health and 99% of the time it does make up feel much better mentally. However we need to appreciate ourselves and stop forcing our bodies to do something they just can’t do some days. Take the time to recognize how you are feeling and understand if working out will help. If you aren’t sure give yourself five minutes, if you still feel like crap then there ain’t no shame in coming home to unwind in some other way. after all, there are other ways to achieve that good mood.

Random Photos

 Ahhhh the summer heat seems to be back today! I thought it was autumn but looks like the weather was just teasing me. Today it is hot, hot, hot and I am trying to convince myself to go for a run.

Today has been one of those random days where I haven’t really done anything but managed to read a little bit, waste oh so much time on the internet and study some Korean. Plus I haven’t really had a meal today but just keep snacking on bits and pieces. I blame the heat, it takes all the structure out of the day.

To go with the theme of randomness I found a bunch of random photos on my ipod that I decided to share with you.

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We walked past this huge advertisement in the subway in Daejeon the other day. It is an add for joint health – god knows how Korea managed to fit Maori people into that. Their cultural misappropriation is just shocking. I would love to show this to my Maori art history lecturer, her reaction would be priceless.

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I ordered this, it was advertised as kimchi tomato oven bakes gratin. Instead it was kimchi fried rice (spicy, not tomatoey at all) with olives, pickles and parmesan cheese. Seriously Korea why!

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Couple hairspray. I want to meet the man who happily purchases Ken styling spray.

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Chuseok means giant gift boxes of what are essentially cheap, mundane things. This is instant coffee, like the cheap nasty kind you find in staff rooms around the country. A personal favorite of mine is the spam gift set which looks a lot like this but with six cans of spam and a big bottle of cooking oil. Korea knows how to give gifts!

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Boredom today led to me decorating the eggs in the fridge. I have problems.

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I am just so excited for persimmon season that I bought this bag the other day despite them being rock hard. I am going to be waiting a long time.

So that’s my random Friday, how is yours going?

 

Totally Oblivious

When I was at high school one of my friends told me that she would be working on Christmas Day in a cafe at the Antarctic Center. This blew my mind, people worked on Christmas! The fact that there were even places like that open seemed crazy. But she worked and said it was one of the busiest days of the years, due to the tourists who were in the city and had no attachment to the holiday. This was basically what it was like for us the past two days.

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you know somethings going on when kids are dressed like this on the subway

Koreans have been busy buying gift boxes for one another, cooking traditional food and traveling to their families homes. Foreigners are either flying to Japan for the short break or working out how much sleep and drinking they can get in during this time. It feels so strange to have zero care for what is such a huge holiday. While I do appreciate the significance of this week, for me all it represents is a few days off work where everything is closed. Being on the other side of those tourists who my friend served coffee to all those years ago is an odd feeling.

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where is everyone?

Anyway we wanted to do something for the break so picked a random city and traveled there for the day. This is why I love Korea, exploring the country is so easy!

We chose Daejeon which is  a small city about an hour away by train.

ImageIt was really nice to just plan a trip with zero expectations. Usually I find myself googling the best sites and planning out all these subway and bus routes so we can really see the city. This time, neither of us had quite recovered from the hectic summer vacation, so we just turned up and walked around.

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who needs to look at the real sky when you have this virtual one?

 

Daejeon is beautiful, just small and one of those places you can only describe as being ‘really nice.’ The downtown area was smaller then we were used to, but they did have an amazing sun shade which played images of space at night time. After walking around and eating lunch (kimchi fried rice with olives and pickles on it, say what Korea!) we headed back to the hotel for an epic two hour nap.

 

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the only NZ beer they had was KGB’s and Mudshakes… yeah it was advertised as beer :S

The evening was spent just having a drink in a casual bar, and the next day we woke up to a ghost town. Seriously, the only thing open was Starbucks.

 

 

Traveling on Chuseok does have its downfalls I suppose. Anyway we had seen enough of the city and came home to Daegu where things were equally shut down. The only thing open was the corner store and the nice old couple who sell fruit on the side of the road. I ended up buying some nectarines and tomatoes from them because I was sure no one would be visiting them on the holiday. I also felt bad that they weren’t spending the day with family.

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Sometimes I feel totally comfortable in Korea, I truly love living here and have easily slipped into the culture and customs. However, a holiday like Chuseok is a reminder that I really am a visitor here. There are parts of this country which I will never be able to relate to, and at Christmas time I will feel confused and sad as to why they don’t care much about the holiday.

Living overseas had definitely opened up my mind foods, people and holiday that I never knew existed. This week had made me happy to be here, or should I say thankful – it is Korean thanksgiving after all!

Happy Chuseok 😀

Chuseok fun

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If you are in Korea right now then you know that it is Chuseok!

basically this is the mother of all Korean holidays. Think thanksgiving meets Christmas but it lasts for 3 days. The holiday begun as a way of celebrating the harvest years ago, and consisted of farmers eating their lovely new crops. Now Koreans spend the day with their families and, from what I gather, they eat their Grandparents delicious cooking. Eating seems to be a big thing on holidays, no matter where you live.

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It is common to see kids wearing traditional Korean clothes called ‘hanbok’ around this time. Koreans still use these at times for weddings and some ceremonies, they are like kimonos but much much more comfortable. Of course we had a huge hanbok day at work where we all had to dress up – but how adorable are the kids!

 

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The hair is next level, so much intricate detail and time goes into it. A lot of the girls had plaits and then these cute little headbands and clips on top.

 

 

 

 

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plus we made traditional rice cakes …

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Small children are so nice to work with on days like this. They love making things and are just so proud to know that they did this and will get to eat it later (even though some of them looked a bit worse for wear haha). We were told if you are good at making these then it means you will have beautiful daughters in the future.

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how damn cute is this boy! He looks like an elf.

So that was my day, a long one but pretty fun to do something Korean. Plus the holiday falls on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday this year so 5 day weekend. yay!!!!!!

happy Tuesday 😀

 

Finding Soy Milk in Korean Cafes

I woke up today with a tiny headache, most likely the result of a one too many of these babies

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Oh tequila I do love you, but perhaps I loved you too much last night :S

Anyway I was planning on sleeping in and then remembered I had a meeting at midday, darnit! This rush meant that I missed out on my morning coffee and would have to get one downtown at the cafe we were meeting up. One thing about being a vegetarian/kind of vegan in Korea is that going out for coffee does not mean you will have a soy milk option. I have issues with cow milk, it just doesn’t sit right in my stomach – particularly when my stomach is already angry with me over my tequila drinking. While Starbucks and some independent coffee places offer soy milk, most of the time you are not going to find it. Instead you are kind of restricted to ordering an Americano and bringing along your own little milk in your handbag like a dork (I may do this more then I like to admit).
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So imagine my joy when I went into Hands Coffee today and saw on the menu ‘soy cream latte.’ A coffee with soy milk!! and soy cream on top!! Hands Coffee where have you been the past 6 months.
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It was beautiful.
I don’t usually go for cream on a coffee but because it was soy I just had to have it. But Korea is awesome and unlike Western coffee shops they didn’t dump a bucket of cream on top, just a little and garnished with ground almonds.
Hands Coffee is a big chain in Daegu, I haven’t seen it outside of the city but I am sure it is throughout Korea. They are a little cheaper than Starbucks and if you are vegan or not down with cow milk, it is just nice to know you have another option. Yay for Korea as it slowly begins to provide us difficult peeps with another place to drink our coffee 😀

Random – and a cookie recipe :D

Heya, happy Saturday!

I woke up to thunder and lightening storms today, some would say this is a bad start to the weekend but I love it. I am really looking forward to cold snuggly weather where you can lie in bed and listen to the rain. Plus it makes it much more acceptable to stay home and watch movies all day

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Random thought of the day – Korea is reverting me to my childhood.I am constantly wearing socks that have happy bears and pandas on them, and have been known put a bow in my hair if the mood strikes me. The other day I wore hot pink pants and nobody batted and eyelid. Then last night I bought a headband, something I haven’t worn since I was about 4 haha. Excuse the red face in this picture, but you get the idea – only in Korea can a 24 year old women dress like a 6 year old.
I did made it back to zumba on Thursday after a 2 week hiatus which was awesome (and sweaty). Plus Thursday was the best day at work in my opinion….

Tofu day!

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The chef we have makes lovely tofu, perfect firm slices that are lightly flavored with this sesame and soy sauce she makes herself. Anyway it takes awhile to press and marinate the tofu so we only get it once a month, when it does appear the heavens open and I am gloriously happy for the rest of the day. The best part is that no one else really eats as much as me so there are always leftovers the next day.

I have been on a veggie kick after being unwell so this morning I snuck some spinach into my chia pudding – couldn’t even taste it 🙂 Then for lunch I cooked up some roast vegetables with a little ginger, hummus and sweet chilli sauce.
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I devoured it within minutes.

I have also been going crazy on the fruit in our area. The fruit stands get everything delivered first thing in the morning from the farm which means I know I am getting lovely fresh produce.
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Last night I bought this giant bag of nectarines and plums, let’s see how long this lasts.
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Since it’s autumn I have been all about the pumpkin, I don’t care if it may be a little early. I wanted to make some cookies but we had no flour so instead I whipped up these gluten-free, vegan pumpkin cookies which turned out to be sooooo yummy. Seriously go and back them now…

Ingredients

– 1/2 cup of sunbutter

– 1/4 cup canned pumpkin

– 1/8th cup agave

– 1 tsp of cinnamon

– pinch of salt

Steps

– Mix it all together in a bowl and form cookie shapes. bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until brown. These will be a little soft so wait for them to firm after removing them from the oven.

So easy! I actually used part of the mixture as a dip for fruit and used the rest to make cookies. This is a great idea if you want to spice up a dull apple or need help eating fruit. 

Anyway I am going to try and have a little nap, and try not to eat all the cookies 😀 Not that they are all that bad for me….