Monday, August 26, 2013

Start of... 18th Grade!!

Hello everyone!

Today was our first day of school here at Rice University!!  my 18th first day of school!!
Even though I was excited about starting this school year, I must say how I greet first day of school has changed dramatically from all other years.   I'm not sure what caused it to be so different, but this year, there was none of the I'm-so-excited-for-school nerdy purchases of new notebooks or 3 ring binders, no new purchases of clothes... 

no skipping along and going around the school taking photos like we did last year...

You know, maybe I've just grown up.. *gasp!*   nooooooo!!

naw... no, it's not that I'm grown up..  no way.  I refuse to believe it.

I think it's more that my roomy was gone for the day auditioning so I had to get ready for school all by my lonesome.  After all, once I got to school and got to see everyone, I was definitely more excited  =)

another reason for the damper on the excitement might have something to do with the fact that this year is audition year!!!  AAHHHH  I feel like I just I mean just  applied to Rice (because I did..  2 year programs are so short!) and now I'm preparing for yet another round of auditions!  ugh.  

Of course, applying to any sort of a program is stressful, but for me, applying for a music degree is especially stressful because not only do you need to fill out an application, write essays, and have good grades and what not, but also, you need to have (usually) 2 rounds of auditions!  For one of the programs, I have to record about 2 hours worth of music for the preliminary round.  That's just to see if they feel like inviting you to do the real audition!  That's so much work just to get an invitation!!!

Oh man oh man.  Sorry for the rant.  I'm just quite stressed out about this year because, man, doctoral application/audition is SOO much more intense than the Master's one that I just went through!  AND the fact that I just went through it adds to my need to rant.

Anyway, despite all of this, I am actually quite excited for this school year.  just minus the audition part.  =)
Thanks for sitting through my rant, hopefully I'll learn to deal with the stressfullness of the audition year a bit better as the inevitability of it sinks in..

Hope all of you had a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hello Houston! and puppy therapy! =)

Hello everyone!

I've been in Houston for a couple of days now getting ready to start another school year, and it's been quite an adjustment!  haha   what is this? I have to cook for myself? 100 degree weather with 100% humidity is normal...?  I'm back in Houston, but where's my man? (not back yet, wah wah) and where's my puppy therapy?

I have to say, the last one has been quite difficult  =/  I miss my McKinley man!  but thankfully, I've got friends with bene... uh I mean, puppies, so we're all set!  =p  In case you are also in a puppy funk like I am, here are some photos to drool over until you get your own/return to your own cuddlebug back home!

There is, of course, the infamous Houdini!  Chris's Italian Greyhound!  always such a charmer, this one!
cuddling with Emily  =)

and then he came over to cuddle with us!
And then, there was a new kid on the block, Maeby.  Jen's new puppy.  OHH MYYY GGOOSSHH!  I die.   Isn't she just a doll?!   They think she's about 4 months old, and she is such a sweetheart!

Playing with Houdini  =)

I was in such a puppy high after hanging out with Maeby!  Afterwards, I mentioned getting a puppy to David, and he said something along the lines of "I can only handle one monster at a time right now  =p" wwhhaatt! who's he calling a little monster?!  *grumble grumble*  haha  just you wait until you come back to Houston, dear!  =p

After running around the apartment a little bit, the little lady got tired, and fell asleep in my arms!!  AAAHHHHHHHHH    just could not get any cuter  XD

I hope this satisfied your puppy craving for the day!  =)
Happy Thursday!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cucumber Kimchi!! (오이 김치)

Hello everyone!

When you think of Korean food, one of the first dishes you probably think of is Kimchi.  It's a national dish of Korea (yes, Korea does have a national dish  haha) and there are more than 60 different varieties of Kimchi! I know. crazy.  When I was growing up in Korea, I think I had kimchi for every single meal, including breakfast.  In our family, breakfast was treated just like any other meal, so moving to the U.S. and having 'breakfast foods' like bagels, eggs, cereal, etc was very different for me.

Anyway, making Kimchi was always such a huge event at our house involving my parents, sometimes family friends, and sometimes us children for the little tasks (probably because we would make like 50 pounds of it at a time), so when I made Kkackdugi (깍두기) last year with David, I felt oh so grown up afterwards  =p

When I was at home this summer, I learned to make another kind of Kimchi!  Cucumber Kimchi!!  (오이 김치)  Yay, 2 down, 60 some more to go! haha  Anyway, this is one of my favorite kinds of Kimchi, so I'm uber excited to be making it this year!

YUUUMMM  doesn't this just look so good?!  It's the perfect summer Kimchi because it's so refreshing!

ok, so what you'll need

5-6 Asian cucumbers (they are about 1.5 inches in diameter and 7-8 inches long)
2 bunches of chives
1 bunch of green onions
1/2 cup coarse salt + 2 Tbs salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs ginger, minced
3 Tbs red pepper flakes
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sesame seeds
2 Tbs brown sugar

Let us begin!

1.  Wash your cucumbers really well (this is important since we won't be peeling the skins off) and cut them into 1.5 inch segments.

2.  Then, almost cut your cucumber segments into fourths.  the 'almost' part is very important!  You don't want to cut it all the way through--leave about half an inch or so at the bottom--so that you can separate the cucumber quarters a little bit, but when you let go, they return to their closed state.

3.  Put all of the prepared cucumbers into a bowl and sprinkle 1/2 cup of salt over them, making sure to get the salt in between the quarters!  Let them sit like so for 20 minutes.

4.  In the meantime, wash your chives and green onions and cut them up into little pieces, like so

5.  Do the same with the ginger and the garlic, then mix together the minced chives, green onions, garlic, ginger, 2 tsp of salt, 3 Tbs red pepper flakes, 1 Tbs fish sauce, 1Tbs sesame seeds, and 2 Tbs of brown sugar!

6. after 20 minutes of the cucumbers soaking in the salt solution, mix them around (there should be some water at the bottom) and let them sit for another 10 minutes.

7.  after 30 minutes total of waiting in the salt water, it's time to wash the cucumbers!  In Korean, we say that they were 'alive' before the salting, and then 'dead' after the salting... I know,, a bit morbid..  haha

8.  Anyway, then take your 'dead' cucumbers, and stuff them with the chives/green onion mixture like so!

9.  Repeat for the rest of your cucumbers, and you're all done!!  TADA!!

See?  so simple!  My favorite kind of recipe  ;)

I hope you enjoy making your own cucumber Kimchi!  It's especially useful if you have a green thumb and don't know what to do with all of the cucumbers your garden is producing.  Sadly, that is not me, so I'll have to make do with the store-bought ones, but hey, either way, it's still delicious!  ;)

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Goldmyer Hot spring!!

Hello everyone!
A couple of days ago, we packed up our tents, enough food for 2 days, swim suits, blankets, and multiple layers of sweaters and headed out into the wild.  Destination? Goldmyer Hot Springs with its 'Magic Water'!!
all ready for our hike!!
The hot springs is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and 'hike', which was really more of a 4.5 mile-stroll was incredibly beautiful.  This waterfall was the first view that greeted us as we entered the mountain.
The whole crew minus me, the photographer  =p
Next time we go, we're definitely going to bring a smaller, lighter tent, but the only one our family owns right now is this gigantic 7-person one, so unfortunately we had to lug that one with us for the hike...   but look at these manly men braving the whole hike with the metal tent poles!  =D

We took a quick break by the river about half way into our hike, and enjoyed some lunch while marveling at how crystal clear the water was!

The hike was really not too difficult, and soon we were at the caretaker's house, and our campground!

Putting up our giant tent!

And Tada!!!  'Hotel Joo'.  yup.

Our family friends, who are veterans (they have been coming to this hot spring for over 7 years!), carried a much smaller and more appropriate tent.  Look how teensy it is! so cute!  =D  and the best part? it's only like 2 pounds!  Definitely investing in one of these so we don't have to carry our 20 pound one next time...

our campsite =)
 Because we were in the bear country, we had to put our food in one of these buckets, and then string them up in between the trees!  Safety is the most important thing after all.  Besides, we really liked the process.  I don't know if it was because it was so different than what we were used to at home so we were really fascinated by it?  or because it made us really feel like we were out in the wild?  or perhaps it was just the act of pulling the strings and seeing the pulley system at work?  haha whatever it was, the people on pulley duty loved it  =p 

 Having set up our camp, we hiked for another half of a mile to the hot springs.  

This hike was a little more difficult (so it was actually a hike instead of a nice, easy stroll), but it was also incredibly beautiful.
how old do you reckon this tree is...?
and it kept getting more and more beautiful as we got closer to the hot springs...

Then, the hot springs just kind of appeared in front of our eyes.  No big fanfare of its existence, the small pools are just kind of quietly nestled into the rocks and the woods.  

There are three pools total, and the hottest pool is actually located inside of the cave where the water originates.  The cave itself is actually quite large, about 20 feet long, but the middle pool where the water flows next is quite small (only about 3 people can sit there at a time), and the last pool that is just a little warmer than body temperature can sit about 6 people at a time.  Because of this, and also to lessen the impact on the environment, only 20 people are allowed into the hot springs per day, so if you want to visit, make sure you call them and make an appointment!

The Larks enjoying some soaking time  =)

Timmay in the middle pool.  see? told you it was teensy  =)  and you can see into the cave a little bit!
Abers in the cave
And this is the view that greets you as you soak all of your worries away while listening to the sounds of the waterfall that runs right next to the hot springs.

While we were soaking, we experienced one of the most intense storms ever.  There was hail, lightening, thunder... you name it, and it was happening.  Though our tents did not fare so well (but we didn't find that out until we got down later that night), I can't describe fully in words the sensations the storm created.  We were in the heart of it, we could hear every thunder cracking right over us, feel the rain pouring down on our heads, but there was no anxiety that came with it.  We were perfectly content sitting in the hot pools, protected by the overhanging vegetation and the cave, listening to the thunder, the rain, the water fall...

And you know how people say that the sunshine after a storm is the most beautiful of them all?  it's so true.  As the rain gradually subsided, the most glorious sunshine began to peek through the trees.
 Sunshine coming through in little patches  =)

 We soaked for the rest of the day, some of us staying put in the lower 2 pools while the brave ones went from the cold pool (ice melt water where timmay is) to the cave pool (the hottest one where daddy is)

After spending an incredibly freezing night in the tents (believe me, even in the summer, you have to be prepared to freeze your butt off if you go into the mountains) we made a beeline for the hot springs again in the morning.

Enjoying the last couple of moments in my favorite pool under the hot waterfall, which I thought was the perfect temperature for the best shower of your life!  haha   I know that might sound a bit weird, but it was seriously the perfect temperature!  A tiny bit on the too-hot side, just the way I like my showers!  =p

Sadly, our 2-day trip had to come to an end, so we packed everything up, and headed down the mountain after a few photos  =)
the cute little shack by the hot springs where you can change and put your things while you soak 

Timmay, such a champ carrying all of this stuff (including the fabric part of the tent!) 

It was such a wonderful trip, and all of us can't wait to go back soon!  And when we got down, we realized why the water there was called 'magic water'; Abers has Eczema, and had a little patch on her fingers when we started the hike.  When we got back down the mountain, almost all of her Eczema was gone!!  Our family friend also had a similar experience, but it took her multiple visits to clear hers completely.

If you are ever around the Seattle area, I would highly highly soooo highly recommend visiting this little gem of a place!  I really cannot recommend it enough, and I'm definitely going back when I'm back in Seattle next  =)

Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful weekend!