Monday, August 2, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a turtle with a load of rocks on its back

Oh dear. It's been a long time since I last posted. I'm still here in Korea teaching and melting a bit in the humidity. You'd think that someone from SC would handle the humidity all right, but even K, being from south FL, says that there is something different about the humidity here. Generally I like hot weather, but I really wish there was a beach to go to.

People keep asking "How is Korea? How is Korea?" Well, like any country, there are many layers of course and I can't answer for all of it. The food is good, the historical sights are really neat, the students are pretty good, and I love seeing mountains in the distance. But I've also had many unpleasant and stressful experiences, both in everyday life and with my (and K's) jobs. I knew from the get-go that it would have a lot to do with the luck of the draw, but I thought I did my homework and we had some great offers. I guess I was mistaken on that, and only later did I realize that we never did an interview with these schools or the office that oversees them. But you know what? I've learned that when you take a job on the other side of the world, it doesn't matter how much research you think you've done, there are still variables upon variables and there's no way you can really know what you're in for.

We're going to explore more of this country to get out of this town. I've had better experiences in the bigger cities we've visited so I'm excited to go to Seoul, finally, in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'm sitting in the countryside and weighing my options. The universe always has a way of working things out, right?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

By the way

K and I are keeping a blog about our time here in South Korea. It's at  if you're interested :)

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I notice I've lost followers.. well, I suppose that's how it goes. It's super hot and humid here and my wardrobe is incredibly abbreviated here, so I felt like I haven't had any post-worthy material. Like I said, I will definitely return full force once I can indulge myself with a shopping trip, hehe. I'm definitely missing my sewing machine like crazy!

Anyway, I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer (or winter, if you're in the southern hemisphere!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to dress for humidity

So I know central SC is hot and humid, but it doesn't compare with the humidity of being right on the Yellow Sea. There is something about the quality of the humidity here that makes it more difficult to tolerate. It's not even that hot out yet, but the humidity just puts a film on everything. I can't imagine what the humidity is like in Seoul where it's mixed with pollution. No, I'm pretty happy living in a small city.

So here's how I've been dressing to keep cool in this weather: gauzy shirts! I find that they are the best because they breathe so well and they also hide sweat well for those of us who need that particular quality in a fabric ;)

This is my favorite gauze top.

Great for getting ready to go..

Coming home..

Doing laundry..

And finally people-watching and enjoying the sunshine from the balcony! Sitting out here in the early afternoons is especially nice because a breeze comes through, and there is a piano studio in my apartment complex so I can hear the lessons. It's very soothing :)

What else have I been up to lately? Well, I decided to volunteer with Animal Rescue Korea since I have a little time on my hands until mid-July, and through them I've taken in a foster kitten. The shelters here are all terribly crowded (as with most countries I'm sure) and while they try to be no-kill, there also are no limits on the number of animals they take in. So they end up with dozens of animals in one cage. It's really heartbreaking, and I'm so happy that I can help even one animal. We named this little guy Tama, and he's quickly getting better. It's amazing to me that he's so much better after only three days of medication and proper food and water. And love, of course :) 

If anyone out there reading this is in Korea and wants to volunteer but doesn't know how, please look up Animal Rescue Korea. They are amazing people and so easy to work with, and would love more volunteers.

How can you resist?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First transmission from the outpost

From this:

To this:

We're actually here. And we've been here going on a week now. K is getting settled in to his job and I'm hanging out at our apartment until my contract starts in July. I'm typing this from one of our balconies and admiring the view. There's a tiny market near the entrance to our high-rise complex that plays relaxing music in the afternoons. It's wonderful :)

Allow me to share the view with you, as seen through a screen:

I think it's pretty neat, especially for a small city. There's also an elementary school right across the street from us, which you can see from another of our balconies (we have three!). I could hear the little kids singing in music class outside this morning.

We also live within walking distance of a big department store. The clothes are really reasonably priced and so cute, and with so much free time on my hands at the moment, this place is a danger zone for my shopping habit! Yikes!

Time to switch to super-duper-frugal mode. Sigh.

Only until I get my first paycheck though...

By the way, thanks so much for the kind & encouraging comments, you guys. This was a really tough decision to make and I'm sure it's not going to be a cake walk, but I'm determined to have fun while I'm here. Even if it means spending most of my paycheck at the markets. (err.... hope K isn't reading this...)  Expect more pictures in the near future when I get a real internet connection and don't have to rely on whatever wifi network is unlocked in my building. Shhhh..... ;) 

Over and out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Visas and tickets and boxes, oh my!

Oh dear! Well, it's official: this time next week, I will be on a plane to Tokyo. And then to Seoul. And then a cross-country bus to my city. Freaking out? Yeah, you could say that!

Today K and I traipsed all the way over to Atlanta today to drop off our visa applications and back. Since we're on such a tight schedule and I don't want to deal with exorbitant fares in booking tickets a day before we need to leave, we decided to do it this way and not leave the visas to chance with the postal service. Our mailman, in the last year, has lost several of my magazines, a few bills, and my new credit card. So, to say I have little faith in our passports getting back to us would be an understatement. It really takes a lot of time to go down there and back, but at least I'll have it in my hand on Monday.

K and I now have the names of our schools! K will be teaching at two schools, so that should be interesting for him. Our schools are on opposite sides of town, so that's kind of a bummer, but downtown is nearly right in between the two, and our coordinator is trying to get us an apartment there so we have equal commutes. Anyway we'd be closer to shopping and transportation, so that's fine with me.

It's funny now that I'm telling people about what we're doing, because all of a sudden so many people are coming out of the woodwork and saying things like "Oh I've been to Korea!" or "My friend/cousin/ex teaches English there!" In fact, an old friend of mine from high school suddenly sent me a message on Facebook and announced that she's been teaching there for the past 9 months! How weird is that? So we're going to get together soon after K and I arrive. I can't wait! How cool to have an "in" to my new country!

My last lesson with my ESL students was on Wednesday. I felt so bad to have to leave them so suddenly. Everything came together at the last minute and these jobs were either take-them-or-leave-them, and we had to take them. We had a little party, and the girls wrote me cards, and they gave me a beautiful framed picture of all of them in yukata and a cute little coin purse to take with me and use in Korea. So nice! I definitely had a little tear in my eye. One of my students e-mailed me last night after her middle school graduation to tell me how it went. She was chosen to give a speech, and I helped her put it together. Here's part of her message:

Thank you very much for your help.
maybe  I couldn't make it without your help
You are a great tutor!!
and GOOD-LUCK in Korea!!
Honestly, how cute is that? I'm so glad I had the chance to work with them. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Public Service Announcement. And Niagara Falls.

Look what I did for Memorial Day weekend!

Yup, definitely went to Niagara Falls. I wish we would have had more time to hang out at the park there and do the boat ride or trolley ride and go to the aquarium and stuff, but we were on a really tight schedule. We actually went to Rochester to check out a long-term boarding place for our cats where they don't use cages-- difficult to find! It was a really cool place, run by two of the neatest people we had ever met. Even though we're in SC, it's totally worth it to take the cats up there because we know they'll be well cared for.

No outfit post today, and probably none for quite a while. Why? Because most of my clothes are packed away! The evening we arrived in Rochester, we did four phone interviews. Let me tell you, I just wanted to tell them all to shut up and let me sleep... but in the end it paid off, because we were offered jobs with all four! We had been planning to go to Korea at the end of August during the big foreign teacher intake time for public schools, but our financial situation started demanding we do something sooner than that. So after poking around for a while and then doing lots of interviews, we were offered positions at public schools in a small city. My position starts in mid-July, but K's is an ASAP position and they ideally wanted him to start on June 11. June 11!! It doesn't look like we can be there by June 11 because we're waiting for our Notices of Approval to arrive in the mail and then we have to wait for the embassy in Atlanta to process our visas. But it looks like we'll probably end up getting there the 13th or 14th. That's less than two weeks. Good lord.

Our apartment went from tidy and quaint to a hurricane of boxes almost the minute we got back from Rochester. I'm really tired of packing up and moving, ugh. This will be the.... I don't even know.... 23rd time I've moved in my life? The longest I've ever lived in one place is five years, when I was a kid. I can't even imagine what that would feel like now. Our landlord is already trying to screw us over. I. Hate. Landlords. They are the scum of the earth. I've only rented with ONE that has not screwed me over.

There is something else I want to mention. I know this post is kind of a downer, but I don't care. I've been trying to look on the bright side and find the good in people for the last year and I've only gotten burned. There is no good in people, deep down. At least not in Americans.

When we were driving back from New York, we were on a multi-lane interstate in Pennsylvania around dinner time, with quite a bit of traffic around. Suddenly, K notices a deer at the edge of the road and intuitively knows the thing is going to try to cross. It does. K swerves off the road as the deer runs into the side of our car (yes, it hit us, we didn't hit it). We go over the gravel shoulder and into a ditch. This all happened at around 75 m.p.h. I was screaming my head off and bracing myself when we finally came to a stop in the ditch. We sat there, shell-shocked, for a minute, and then made sure our body parts were all still attached. Other than some cuts, we were fine. But here's the thing that gnaws at me:

Not one person stopped. No one called the police for us.

We could have been unconscious in that car, and not a single person who witnessed the accident (and trust me there were plenty) gave enough of a shit to see if we were all right. I fucking hate people. I hate the apathy of this pathetic country. No wonder it's on a downswing. I was beside myself about this when we finally were on the road again, and then K told me that when a work buddy of his had had a really nasty accident and flipped his car after hydroplaning on an interstate in SC, no one even stopped then. The man flipped his car and rolled it into the woods next to the road, and no one even stopped. He was trapped in the car upside down and had to somehow call the cops himself.

What the FUCK is wrong with Americans?

I am sick of moving and I am bitter as hell that I have to go to another country to find a job that pays enough to live on and has health benefits and that I can't even finish my Master's degree even though I only need two more classes. But you know what? If it means that I can be away from a country full of such apathetic, self-centered assholes, I'm getting the better deal.

You want to help your country? Try looking at what's going on around you and actually help someone once in a while. I know I would, and in fact I have before, but I'm being forced to leave this land of selfish bastards. Whoever is out there reading this, if you see someone crash their car, for god's sake STOP and see if they're all right and see if you need to call a fucking ambulance for them. It's not that hard. It's really not.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Secret Garden

When I was a kid, I loved The Secret Garden. My class read it in the second grade, and I loved the air of mystery of the garden and characters. Maybe it was that movie that partially inspired my love of nature. I always wanted a garden full of lush greenery and flowers, with high ivy-covered walls. This picture makes it look like I'm halfway there!

Did you ever read that book?

Yes, this is really my yard. Or, these days, jungle. It's nothing like the manicured 100% Kentucky bluegrass lawns that are prized in the North, but I love the various little ground cover plants that grow here. I love spending time in my little nature sanctuary. As long as I have, you know, bug spray :D

And it's also better when it doesn't start raining every five minutes! Yikes!

Jacket: $20
Dress: $13
Sandals: $16
Necklace: $10

TOTAL: $59

dress - Target / jacket - Steve & Barry's / sandals - Payless / necklace - JC Penney

Friday, May 21, 2010

Makin' Stuff

I'm nearly finished with altering a dress I snagged a few weeks ago. I ended up hating it after I took it home, but I really liked the fabric so I decided to change the shape of it. I was putting the finishing touches on, including a drawstring waistband, only to discover the cord I bought for it is too wide for the drawstring tube! Arrghh! So I'll have to wait to post pictures until I can get more suitable cording. In the meantime, I thought I'd post pictures of more stuff I made.

I whipped up this tea cozy a little while ago. The bottom green polka-dot fabric was a scrap from another project (a coffee press cozy), and the rest of it I cut from a linen shirt salvaged from the $1.00 section of Goodwill. That stuff is great for practicing embroidery on! I don't know why I'm crazy about tea cozies (and coffee cozies) lately. Probably because they're simple and quick to put together and they can look like anything you like.

Look at my tomatoes!! Not bad for a patio garden, huh? There are about 8 on that plant right now, and the biggest one is almost the same size as my fist. OK, I have small hands, but still, I think it's pretty decent for a patio tomato plant! I'm trying to wait for them to turn, but looking at these pictures has me fantasizing about fried green tomatoes...mmm.....

These aren't really my project, but I thought I'd share them with you guys anyway. This is K's bonsai collection, not including the larger one he keeps indoors. We found a great bonsai nursery at a plant festival in April, run by the nicest older couple. The husband shapes all the trees and experiments with soils and things, and the wife creates the little landscapes around them and chooses the pots. I swear, it was like looking into a mirror of the future of us, haha.

I think this one is so neat. Bonsai trees that produce flowers and fruit just blow my mind. Can you see the little green fruits? We have no idea what kind of tree this is, and neither did the couple from the nursery unfortunately. I still love the look of it.

This little guy is cute, too. K is wanting to start experimenting with different tree shapes, so he got the two little juniper starters to play around with. In the background is one of the pots he bought at a flea market in Osaka. It's not the most beautiful pot in the world, but it has such a neat story behind it because it's from our first trip abroad together and K actually haggled in Japanese (which he does not speak hardly at all) with the owner of the stall for it. Haha! I was proud of him :P  He was too shy to order food in Japanese that whole trip, but he didn't let language get in the way of a good bonsai pot!

Have a good weekend~

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The cost of day-to-day fashion

 I felt like it was time for a change in decor around here. The picture I used for the header is one of my favorites that I snapped from the plane to Miyakojima last December. What luck the shadow was so clear! What do you think?

 We are one step closer to Korea. Gosh, it feels like we've been in this waiting game for ages now. Well, we kind of have. We started thinking about this over a year ago and submitted our very first applications back in November. Maybe at the end of this, I'll have enough information to publish "Moving to Korea for Dummies"!

Late next week, K and I will be going to New York state to check out a long-term boarding facility for our cats. It breaks my heart that we can't bring them with us, but with any luck we'll be able to find a pet-friendly place and have them flown over to us. Anyway, we're making the best of this road trip and checking out Rochester and Niagara Falls while we're in the area. Money is tight right now since we need to save until our departure, so sadly I can't use the trip as an excuse to go shopping. I can, however, play with Polyvore and still get a fashion fix! Here are some of the outfits I came up with for this trip that I would love to buy, if, you know, my wallet was bottomless!
Something else I wanted to bring up today was an article I read earlier (from MSNBC I think) about the average cost of an American woman's daily outfit with accessories. The total was just over $1,500. That seems absolutely crazy to me! I would definitely be above and beyond this number if you counted my wedding ring, but the article didn't count wedding/engagement rings. I did a quick tally of my outfit, generously including my bag and everything in it as the article did, and still came under $240. Am I just incredibly cheap? I wonder where the women polled were from (the Upper East Side?!) and what the average would be for women my age. I'm really curious. Including underwear, clothes, jewelry (except wedding/engagement rings), accessories, bag and contents, is the article's number or my number closer to your daily ensembles?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The calm before the storm....literally

Just under the wire! We snapped these just before a huge thunderstorm rolled in. With the clouds thickening above us, the light was a little tricky, but I think these came out all right.

Other than today's storm, it's been a really nice weekend. It was warm enough on Friday night to go out to the drive-in! I love doing that. We saw the new Robin Hood movie. <3 Russell Crowe!  Do you like going to drive-in theaters?

This is one of my favorite dresses. I styled it back in January with a ruffly cardigan, belt, and beige heels. I think it switched to warm weather fairly easily. And I love the deep neck in front and back, it feels very 50s glam!

Sometimes I think I like taking all these pictures because there are very few pictures of me between the ages of about 10 and 15. I had some major self-esteem issues in those days because my skin was, well, let's just say less than perfect! I remember intentionally avoiding cameras and tended to wear baggier clothing so I wouldn't call attention to myself. I think I'm trying to catch up now for all the photo years I missed out on. I wonder if there are any other fashion bloggers who are like this?

And anyway, it's a good excuse to go to pretty parts of the city.

(Yes, I do all my own stunts! :P)

dress - Urban Outfitters / necklace - JC Penney / sandals - Payless / belt - NY & Co.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This is possibly my best thrift-store find ever. EVER. Do you feel the gravity of that sentence? I consider myself a pro at thrifting, but I think I've outdone myself here if I do say so myself. Behold, a floral Betsey Johnson sundress, which cost me a whopping...


Like most girly-girls, I love love love Betsey Johnson designs and cheerful prints, but as a girl who is on a pretty tight budget, I could only drool over them in magazines, fancy blogs, and when they popped up on Modcloth once in a while. So imagine my surprise and delight in finding this one at such a low price... and then in my size!! I got it at a new "boutique" thrift shop. Hey, I'm sold on the place.

This makes the grand total of this spring/summer outfit $35. My kind of style!

I kind of feel like this dress was the universe giving me a little break. The day I got it, I was on my way to get an oil change, and was in a really, really bad mood because it was the day the M.A. graduation ceremony was being held. I couldn't get the thought that I should be walking across the stage with my colleagues out of my head, and I was so upset I started crying in the car. Well, I couldn't go to a mechanic like that (I already feel like they try to fleece me even when the prices are posted, maybe 'cause I'm female), so I drove around a little and stumbled upon this thrift store, which had opened only two weeks earlier.

Needless to say, my mood improved greatly after leaving. I also found a great linen dress which I'll share later on.

Hm. Although come to think of it, I still need to get that oil change.

I love going to the local coffee shop, getting iced coffee, and strolling around the historical part of campus. Now that the semester is over, it's especially nice because it's not crowded at all. It's funny, this campus is so different from most other campuses I've been on because it somehow commands respect and quietude. I rarely see trash or anything out of place here, and even when there are dozens of students sitting outside studying, playing frisbee, and walking dogs, it's still remarkably quiet. It's kind of surreal.

dress - Betsey Johnson / hat - Target / sandals - Target

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Oh dear, it's been so long since I last posted. I'm still here, I'm OK, really! The past few weeks have just been super busy, finishing up the semester and fussing with visa documents and whatnot. I've also been a little down, really coming to terms with this being my last semester of school for a while. I'm hoping to take my last two M.A. courses online somehow next spring. I want to finish the Ph.D. as well, but the M.A. is my priority right now because I'm *this* close. It's really been bittersweet finishing this semester. Of course there's the rush of turning in final papers and doing presentations, but also that realization... I've been trying to enjoy it as much as I can since it may well be the last time I have this experience. Even so, it was hard to enjoy having to do a 25-minute presentation on experimental methods of vocabulary retention in the second language, haha! The neat thing is that I got to draft a research proposal as part of the presentation, so if I do go on for the Ph.D., I'll already have the layout of a study to conduct for a conference presentation paper. Someday. きっとできる。

K and I also went to a beautiful beach that we'd never been to before. South Carolina is so amazing in that regard-- there are so many amazing beaches just waiting to be discovered, but there are also great mountain hiking trails in the opposite direction. When we come back from Korea eventually, I really hope we can come back to SC. Anyway, we had a wonderful time, and the water was even warm enough to swim in already! The only unfortunate thing was that we didn't wait long enough for the sunscreen to soak in, so both of us got a little sunburnt on our backs. Ouch! But there are lots of outlet shops in the area, so we indulged in a tiny bit of retail therapy to ease the pain..hehe...

I love the beach!

It's my goal to enjoy my country as much as possible before I leave this summer. We don't have tons of extra money to spend, but I can at least share pictures of some of my favorite places around here on my blog. I know I gush about SC a lot, but it's just so nice! Ok ok, so we have a really high unemployment rate, and a relatively high poverty rate, and most SC drivers seem to have gotten their licenses in Happy Meals, but if you overlook the negatives--just like with any place-- there are plenty of things to love. Like, a month ago the city seemed to be covered in wisteria, which has since disappeared, but now honeysuckle has taken its place. It's already hotter than Hades down here, but it's so nice to step outside and smell honeysuckle in the day, and night-blooming jasmine at night. There is nothing like the scent of summer in South Carolina.

For today I'm enjoying a cup of dark-roast coffee with honey. It's my new favorite treat!! It's especially fun to sip it from our new antique cups and saucers. We've built up quite a hodge-podge of mismatched antique English china now, I just love the effect. Someday I want to decorate part of my house in old English cottage style. What do you think? Do you like coffee with honey?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'll just keep it to myself in the sun

I LOVE this shirt! I know there are boyfriend jeans, so since this is oversized and soft just like boyfriend jeans, could it be a boyfriend shirt? Well, with the crochet detail, maybe not. Still... super comfy and perfect for these warm spring days.

I also love wearing my hair like this when I'm busy and I don't want my hair getting all sweaty on my neck. TMI? Sorry. Hey, it's hot down here. In fact, my city's slogan is "Famously Hot." Yes, I'm serious. And yes, I think it's incredibly corny.

I'm so excited about this weekend because it's K's birthday and to celebrate we're going to the beach! Of course the water is still probably too cold to swim, but hanging out at the beach is so nice anyway. Plus, we're gonna be super hip and go to Medieval Times. What, that's corny too? I guess this place has rubbed off on me. Personally I'm totally looking forward to eating chicken without a fork and watching jousting, and you cannot convince me that there's a better way to de-stress before finals.

I hope you all will enjoy your weekend too!

top - Belk / jeans - dunno, old / sandals - Payless

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Purple Kinda Day

Here's my latest handmade dress! I used an airy linen blend for it. I thought it would be a nice contrast with the retro-inspired shape of it.

Let me just tell you, this pattern was NOT the easiest thing I've ever worked with. I can't believe the dress even came out, I thought the stupid pattern was cursed. The first time I bought it, I took it home only to find that someone had already cut out the skirt pieces and taken them! (?!) Honestly, who DOES that? Then, when I tried to return it, I got Customer Service Lady from Hell who literally, I kid you not, got right in my face and yelled at me for trying to return it and told me she wouldn't do an exchange, but would only give me a gift card worth 50% of the lowest price they've ever had for that pattern. I think there's just something about my face that says "Be mean to me! I'm a wimp!" cause K was with me and he said he'd never seen such nasty people who are supposedly in customer service. Unfortunately it happens to me all the time. That's OK, I found out the name of the store manager and reported her, and then took the pattern to another store of the same chain which happily (and politely) gave me an even exchange.

Then, it seemed like every time I wanted to start cutting the pattern out, something stupid happened and I had to take care of that instead. Once everything was cut out, I started doing well, and then got confused and accidentally sewed the back to the front backwards. So I'm shocked that it even turned out looking like a dress at all, even if it is rather large in the chest area. Although, truth be told, I have that issue with a lot of clothes -_-***

The cats kept creeping into the shots today. How come when I want to take a picture of them they run away or look stupid, but when I don't, they're suddenly all photo-happy??

Then K got creative and started playing with some filters on my camera, hahaha.

The other night, K made some of his yummy pizza from scratch! Hand-made pizza crust just beats the pants off of any frozen or restaurant pizza that I've ever had. We topped them with leftover summer squash and eggplant, and K put some cottage cheese on his. Doesn't it look tasty?

Right now I'm finishing up coursework for the semester, ugh. That last rush and flurry of activity before exams is getting more and more annoying. In the meantime, we're gathering our visa documents for the move to Korea. I had forgotten what a hassle applying for visas is, oy. I think we're on track, though. Mine are mostly together and K's are getting there too. One step closer!

And now, I leave you with a picture of Boscoe, debuting his lovely new tie from Target. Very chic, no?

dress - me! / tights - Steinmart sale $6 / shoes - Target