Sunday, May 23, 2010

Upo Wetlands...

This past weekend was Budda's Birthday and so we celebrated by not celebrating! :) We did however take advantage of our three day weekend and spent time together and with friends! Friday we just relaxed and hung out around the house. It has been a while since we had a day to ourselves to just lounge around the house together! So we watched movies, played at the playground and ate freshly made pan pizza! Yumm! It was a great day that was topped off by friends from Busan coming out to us! This was a nice change of pace from the typical routine. We are usually the ones driving into Busan! The Johnsons showed up later in the evening and we all watched a movie together while munching on popcorn and microwave cake! Haha... the joys of microwave cooking!
While Friday was a gorgeous warm and sunshine filled day, Saturday woke us with sprinkles and gloomy skies. We were slightly bummed as we had planned to hike a bit that day. But... instead we decided to checkout the local wetlands to see what we could see! :) I know you will be shocked when I tell you that they were wet! There were hiking trails and gorgeous views... views that I hope to see again on a nice sunny day. Corin loved hiking, even with the soggy sprinkles! I think it was a nice change of scenery for us all as we are used to the cityscapes!... well at least on the weekends. I just wanted to share some of our pictures and hope that you enjoy living vicariously through our blog during our adventures in South Korea. I really feel blessed to have been able to experience a new culture and country. Having never been outside the consecutive United States, I feel like traveling will be more highly anticipated in the future!
As for long term missions, we are still not sure where the Lord would have us... whether it be in the States or abroad, but I do know that He has already changed our hearts and marriage for the better just in these short three months we've been here.
Taylor and I are feeling the prayers of those who have been lifting us up as we grow closer to one another and closer to our Heavenly Father. One thing specifically that has been stirring in my heart, is the desire to minister from the home. I have been gripped by many scriptures relating to this topic as well as conversations Taylor and I have been able to share. God is really changing the way I look at being a stay at home mom and the many opportunities that this role lends itself to. I am eager to implement these desires, but seeing as how I can not speak Korean yet and the Koreans around me do not speak English... inviting is a bit tricky. The children here are much more receptive of me than the adults, so I take that opportunity to invite them to play with Corin and myself while at the playground. Most of the girls especially think Corin is just the cutest thing that ever walked on Earth. They follow him around like little puppy dogs and try to play with him, even when they have no clue what he is saying. It is great! Corin now has a little buddy at church too! There is a young Korean/American boy about 9 years old that just adores Corin! He simply could not resist Corin's invitation to play the first Sunday they met. So for the past three weeks, the bond has grown and this last Sunday, Sean asked his mom to invite us over so he could play with Corin! Haha... it makes me think of his aunt Natalie. Anyways Sulan, the mom, and I have planned to play together after church the next sunny sunday we get... so pray that this coming Sunday will be filled with sunshine and warmth! Sunday school started up at church as well, so this past Sunday was the first Sunday that Taylor and I both were able to sit through the service together! It was so nice to have that time together. Well.... I would say that is about it for updates. Sorry it was so random! I was a bit distracted today as I wrote this while Corin attempted to smoosh the fly buzzing around the room. I got whomped in the head a couple times as I entered the line of fire! Good thing he was trying to kill the fly with a wetwipe instead of a toy drill this time! Watch out! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

A slice of humble pie!!

As most of you know by now, I am ovenless and only slightly bitter about it! I have been eager to experiment with different cooking methods in order to produce some of the foods that are difficult to obtain here. Some of the recipes are just plain daunting and so I have put a few to the side for when I have helping hands. But... I was not about to give up on hope that homemade bread could be in our weekly menu. Yeaterday I read several articles and recipes on steamed bread. This is a technique used for hundreds of years to create bread while lacking an oven. Traditionally you place a hearty bread dough in a tin can with a sealed lid, then submerge the tin can in water 2/3 up the outside edge of the can. This water would be in a large pot with crumbled tin foil on the bottom to keep the bread from burning on the bottom. Then you stick a lid on the pot and barely simmer the water for about two hours to produce a loaf of heavy/dense bread. It was usually made of rye, barley and such and served with beans on the open range! I however, do not have access to "fancy" flour nor do I have a huge tin can. What I really wanted were fluffy sweet dinner rolls. That is what I longed to make along side a big old pot of chicken noodles! Well, I have yet to make the noodles, but the bread that I conjured up turned out to be a success! Taylor and I enjoyed fresh steamed bread last night with our homemade chicken strips and homefries. We slathered on real butter, which we bought for the first time since living here, and let them melt in our mouths as we delighted in the wonders of the steaming tray! Ahhhhh.

This morning we finished off the rolls by toasting them and, yet again, soaking them in real butter. They were so good... I was completely impressed with my accomplishment in the kitchen that I decided to venture into cookies today. With very limited baking supplies, I settled upon simple sugar cookies. I whipped up the batter in no time and set it in the freezer to firm up. My first attempt to "bake" them would be with the steamer. I was almost too hesitant to venture down that road though in concerns for the dough. I feared the dough would ooze through the small holes in the steaming tray before being able to firm up a bit. Well, upon the trial of the first cookie... my fears were realized. The dough began to goop up and ooze down before turning into the steamy spongy cookie I had hoped for. Oh well... I tried. On to the next method. I had seen several articles for skillet cookies... Of course all of them were more substantial doughs, but I was determined. So I grabbed the steamer lid and put a few balls of cookie dough in the pan atop the barely lit burner and topped it with the lid. I waited... and peeked.. and waited and peeked. A few minutes later I grew anxious for my buttery goodness of a cookie and grabbed the spatula. I removed the cookies to a cool plate and lifted and edge. RATS! Burnt. Oh well... I tried. So now my only resource left was the microwave. I am not a big fan of this contraption... I typically use it for popcorn and warming Corin's milk... other than that I use it as storage space by placing other objects atop the thing. But... I had recently created a pretty tasty chocolate cake in the nuker... so I thought I would give my cookies a chance too. It worked... the cookies baked and in only 1 minute... But... they were not like the cookies I had envisioned as I mixed the batter and ate a glob of the raw dough. They were thin and kind of flaky... sort of chewy. Just okay. Okay is not what I wanted. So.... back to the chopping block. I think a heartier dough would work in the pan or the microwave, but until next paycheck... the buttery flakes will have to do. :/ Guess I needed humilty after the high from the rolls.
For the successfully delicious dinner rolls... check out ovenlesschef, my new food blog! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Consider it identified...

The Victorian funnel web spider!... apparently they are harmless. They are supposed to stay inside their webs for the most part and apparently ours have taken to the hollowed out holes in the walls... lazy! :) Anyways, we have a few around the house, so to be on the safe side I will be squirting them with yucky bug juice this weekend. Just thought I would let you know! :) And the visual always helps!
Meet Vicki #1:

She is the lazy hole dweller that terrorizes us from the front ally where we hang our laundry to dry. She is about nickel to quarter sized. She's the bigger of the two... the two that I am aware of! haha!

And meet Vicki #2:

She is the red headed little lassie of the two. She actually built her home and is hard at work eating bugs in the back ally where the washing machine dwells. She's about dime to penny sized.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So now that I have started the family feud..

I just want to take a moment to say that I love my family. I admire and adore each one of the members for different reasons. Why? Because if I loved the same things about all of 'em... I'd get bored with them real quick! :) So... just a little note as to why I love the people I love...
God: I love you because you are my creator. You sustain me in all areas of this eternal life you have graciously bestowed upon me! i thankfully PRAISE You! And many more reasons for which there are not enough words...
Taylor: You truely are my better half. 'nuff said. I love you.
Corin: You are just too stinking cute not to love... you make me smile day in and day out.
Owen: Never forgotten, always loved.
Dad: You are and will always be the person I can sit in silence with and know that what is not being said means more than what could be. That... and you are my daddy.
Mom: You are one of the most energetic people I know with a kind heart that always beats for the right people! Thank you for the woman you have helped me to become! Again... always and forever my irreplacable mommy!
Trent: Well, you are my brother and though it was a rough start as kids, I will love you through it all! (Even if you shove me into the electric fence or try to feed me to the neighbor's collies... yes, I remember more... but I will keep those bitter thoughts to myself! haha!)
Ray: You have been such an outstanding model for Taylor in your walk with the Lord... and it shows. Thank you!
Kate: I think it is fair to say we know you can cook... so as to what I mentioned with Ray, thank you for MY fine young man!
Coops: Good for a laugh everynow and then... :)
Natalie: You are the little sister I wish I ALWAYS had! :) You are the coolest of 'em all!
And the rest of you... just think of your fondest memory with me, and remember that I was on the other end of that! I love you all and miss my HUGE family back home! (friends included)


The things you do for food!

So I have to start off by admitting that when Taylor and I first wed, I did not enjoy cooking all that much. I like to blame it on his mother!(Sorry Kate!)I grew up in a household where we were all having dinner at different times due to work, sports, and well... you name it. Anyways, my mom just didn't want to bother with fixing dinner for us all when she never knew who when or if anyone would be home...(can you blame her?! Nope.) so our traditional response to "What's for dinner" was "whatever you can find"... which usually meant cereal or soup if we were not too lazy to push the buttons on the microwave! haha! (Now that those daily distractions are gone, the Maynard house enjoys homecooked meals again... sorry I happened to be a sports junky growing up mom! Love you!)

Taylor on the other hand, grew up in a home where everyone sat around the dinner table... which was a foreign object to me... and ate "homemade" food. Homemade food? What?! Now some of you may have the same response.. "Like hamburger helper instead of take-out or drive thru?" No no no my friends... like made from scratch brownies, handtossed pizza crust, fresh out of the oven french bread, and spaghetti sauce without a screw off lid. CRAZY! I know... what was I thinking marrying a man with a mother like that?! What can I say, I love him... amazingly dangerous cook of a mother and all!

So anyways... we get back from the honeymoon and life begins right? I luck out the first week as we eat out at the local favorite restaurants, but our pockets told us this was not a sustainable habit, so to the grocery store we went. How naive we were... no grocery list or anything. At the time I knew all of about three recipes, all of which included some form of ready-made food and so Taylor and I were both eager to learn to cook. I had a trusty Julia Child cookbook now and was ready for the fun to begin! Yeah well, after some odd facial reactions and several failed attempts, I began to recycle the same recipes over and over again and then supplement with eating out here and there as well as open invites to dinner with the folks! Back then, if Taylor was craving some good cooking, we would go to his parents' home... even if it was just sloppy joes. Why? Because his mom made the buns from scratch... and no, the joes were not form a can either! Grr... this woman was going to be the death of me... or so I thought! Well... time passed and soon I began to get in the kitchen more. With the arrival of internet, came a plethora of recipes at my fingertips! I was so excited to try new recipes! I started menu planning and would go to the store with a detailed list of my grocery needs! I was so proud of myself. I was a coupon cutting, ad combing, recipe hunting woman on a mission... to cook at least as well as Taylor's mom. This way he would choose me over her if it came down to a tie.... because well, you know! ;)

By now, we are in the midst of our pregnancy with Corin and I am making homemade noodles from scratch! Yep... homemade! I was soooooooooo proud of myself. I had even made bread a time or two! Spaghetti sauce, forget about it...I had that down pat now, right down to the treasure bay leaves! :) So it looked like things were going to be okay between me and the MIL! I wasn't going to secretly hate her guts after all, now that I could halfway decently cook at least! But soon I became bored with it. Food was such a burden... cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning. Did it ever stop?! I felt like I was in the kitchen alllll day and it sort of bugged me. Okay, it really bugged me. Taylor would come home to me in tears about my struggles with identity outside of the kitchen and home. Of course by this time I had a two month old screaming at me from the sidelines, so I can't say that is wasn't a little emotional all around... but I took it out on the cooking! Plus... Corin would always act up right around 4pm everyday and so making dinner was my version of hell. When we moved into the house around the time Corin was 10 months old, he had outgrown that phase of being the little hellion, but had now moved to the mobile phase... which is a little disorrienting while making dinner. You have to run into the livingroom every three minutes and play marco-polo with the kid until you find him stuck in the laundry cabinet or jammed under a side table with an arm in a funny position.. things of that sort. With the easter egg hunt on 24/7, I was in no hurry to make elaborate dinners or meals that required much attention.

The various stages of infancy to toddler years have proven difficult in their own unique ways, but now that Corin is fairly self-sufficient... I am finally starting to fall in love with my kitchen. I am in there most of the day... and I love it! Of course the timing could have been a little better. Now that we are in Korea, I have no dishwasher or oven... or any of my appliances that I had neglected back home but now long for. None the less, I am and have fallen in love with food! I am making some sort of homemade bread at least twice a week. Most, if not all, of my meals start from scratch/ raw ingredients. I have made all my foods on stovetop and find great accomplishment in figuring out how to make foods I crave with out the oven. Of course the microwave has become our new friend if only because we can make a yummo chocolate cake in it and in less than 3 minutes!( It is a little dangerous to have this knowledge!... you want to make it all the time!) Anyways, I have become so obsessed with food that I find myself subscribed to various food blogs and always on the hunt for meals that are suitable for the stove-top. I even started a blog for my friends here in Korea who feel my pain in having loved and lost their ovens.

I suppose I am finally settling into my role as a stay at home mommy and beginning to thrive! Taylor is also excited about my new hobby/obsession! Haha! And don't tell his mom, but I think I have won him over! ;) I have been able to satisfy our cravings for hard to find foods like tortillas and don't get me started on Korea's version of pizza... Just say no thank you and move on. But... I have made us homemade pizza on the stove-top thanks to JD and am making all sorts of comfort foods that I thought we would just have to go without! Go me! :) haha. If you want to try some of the recipes we are enjoying here in Korea, just hop on over to the new blog and check it out!
The ovenless chef!
signing off

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Girls' Weekend!

Friday night around 7:30pm, Taylor headed out to avoid contact with 15+ girls who were coming to stay for a "girls' getaway." He decided to stay at the local jjimjjilbang since he was going to be helping carpool the ladies to our craft the next morning. For those who do not know what a jjimjjilbang is... I will take a moment to introduce you to this Korean cultural tradition. Basically they are public bath houses. The men and women have seperate floors where the rooms are filled with large "hot tubs" in varying degrees. They are called "baths" and can vary in temperature and contents. Some Jjimjilbangs will have tea baths, salt baths, cold baths, warm baths, scalding baths, even mud baths. Then there are also saunas, both dry and wet. There are typically rows of low vanities with sinks and mirrors as well as a hose with a shower head on it attached to the faucet... as is every Korean in-home shower. At these low setting vanities, you sit on a plastic stool and proceed to scrubb yourself with a textures wash cloth and attempt to scrubb your skin off in hopes that you will become "paler" in the process. Fair skin is BIG over here. Where as in the states we try to get tan... here the women go to great lengths to protect their skin form the sun. They even go so far as to put bleaching agents in their skin care products! Anyways... back to the jjimjjilbang... besides the huge bath rooms, there is a common room, where you can go and watch television, eat, drink and even sleep. You typically pay about 7,000 won for a 24 hour period! Good deal huh?! (That is about $6.50) Well, our small town jjbang is only 6,000 and much smaller than the ones you might find elsewhere. Taylor took his sleeping bag and headed out while I put Corin down for the night in his own bed... we thoguht it might be easier that way!
So Corin fell asleep and at around 8:45 the girls started to show up. A little after 10 all the ladies that would be coming for the night had shown up and the house was roaring! There were 16 of us in all and man oh man were we loud! haha! Amazingly, Corin slept through the "white noise" and so we werew able to visit and then share some testimonies... it was sooooo good. Finally around 3:30am, when we were all quieted down and getting ready for bed, Corin's door opened and he stared blankly at the mass amounts of strangers in his livingroom who were not there when he went to bed. He mumbled a few words and then stammered back into his room. That was our hint that it was time to take a "nap" and so we began lying down to sleep... well most of us! A few girls talked and giggled and laughed hysterically in the livingroom after the lights went out. I was lying in bed with Corin as he asked several questions about the going-ons out there... it was pretty funny. "Who's that momma? She's loud mama. What's a midget mama?" To say the least, I was getting great joy out of this night! Finally around 4:00am the house fell silent and we all slept for a few hours at best. 7:00am came too soon. Corin was up and ready to go, but I had to entertain him in his room for at least another half hour before we went out to wake the rest of the crew. &:30 on the dot, I went out and began to get breakfast started as Corin began waking the girls! One by one, he would drag someone into his room and convince them to play with him. I think he was too afraid to go out into the room with all of them at one time! So soon eggs were scrambled, coffee was brewing, yogurt and fruit were out, and the girls were peeling themselves off the floor to get ready for the day. Around 9 Taylor showed up to help tote gals to the local dye house for our craft. After a couple of trips, along with the help of a couple other gals driving, we all were reunited at the dye house in nearby Haman. The craft was to dye a silk scarf with the traditional form of dying using natural materials to create the colors. We were dying ours a golden yellow using boiled onions skins! The women that work there had prepared the dyes ahead of time so that they would be cool enough for us to use. So we prepped our scarves, rinsed them and then dunked them in the dye for about 20 minutes. After that we gave them another good rinse and hung them to dry. Some of the girls tried using another color as well and soon we all had beautifully dyed scarves of our very own creation! :) Meanwhile, our guest speaker and daughter-in-law had arrived on the local bus and Taylor had let them in. So he showed up and we decided to try ALL piling in the cars so that we would not have to make multiple trips. It worked... we all got back to the apartment in one trip and in one piece! Upon arrival, we dove into the scriptures with our guest speaker who happened to be a mom that was in town on a visit! :) She spoke once before and once after lunch. The topics were "a servant's heart" and "hospitality" which were both really good reminders of what our lives should look like in serving one another. Lunch was a little crazy as we whipped up batches of fried rice... but once I got a system down, I was able to get a pan of fried rice cooked and ready in about four minutes! Of course... I now have tons of left overs in my fridge from my overzealous attemot to make sure we would have enough! haha... fried rice... it's what's for dinner!
After the second teaching session the girls either napped, walked around, sat and talked or hit up the brand new convenience store they set up out of the apartment office building... I am super excited about this! Anyways, we all finally settled back in the apartment and shared testimonies until it was pack time and then packed up in a hurry before all heading back to Busan. Most of the girls left in cars but a few decided to eat dinner in town with me as I had planned. So about 6 of us caught the loacl bus into Yeongsan and ate at a little Korean cafe. We packed in a few more good laughs before I helped them get tickets to Busan. Then Taylor picked me and Ashleigh up and we headed into the city ourselves. IT was a long day, but it was worth it! I had a blast and I am pretty sure a lot of them did as well... even if it took us 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get into Busan due to traffic! OOoops! :) So much for the hour drive!

What is BIG, black, and terrorizes our home?...

If you guessed Spiders... you are correct. We have spiders that have been showing up as of late that lurk through the house at night. Their chubby bodies are about the size of a nickel and the legs are short and stubby. They are pitch black, hairy, and have HUGE eyeballs! While Taylor is disgustedly afraid of them, Corin is hysterical when catching sight of one. I do not claim to enjoy them, but they are slow enough that I don't have to really chase them. I just put a shoe on and wipe up the remains with toilet paper before flushing. I have tried to identify them online, but so far, my best guess is that they are large black "house" spiders as the internet so lovingly called them... which aparently are harmless. I have my doubts though. Yesterday I spotted one peeking out of it's hole. I have seen these little holes in the walls in the sunroom before, but wasn't sure what might be dwelling in them until now. I went and got a bottle of hairspray and doused the hole where the spider had his front legs hanging out. It retreated into its cave and has not been spotted yet today... but again, I think they are creatures of the night. I plan to pick up some caulking at the store this week and do some "patching up" around the house. Haha. I suppose we were bound to have some sort of bugs since we live on the first floor out in the country. I am just thankful it is giant spiders rather than giant cockroaches... those things gross me out! Taylor and I lost a couple of brooms to those nasty creatures in our very first apartment off the lake. Yuck. Spiders... I can handle! ;)
P.S. I'll try and get a picture before squishing the next one! :)