Mini Kim-Jang 2014

As I prepare for the long trip to Asia, one of the things on my to-do list was to make a decent-sized batch of kimchi so it would have time to ferment by the time I return. Ever since I returned from my one-year stint there as an English teacher, I still miss good old Korean food from time to time, one of which is kimchi. While in Korea, I was lucky enough to get the chance to be invited over to a friend’s house whose mother-in-law showed me the basics of making kimchi during their kimjang, a get-together in the winter months (usually in November) where a family makes huge batches of kimchi for the following year. Although kimchi is usually eaten as a side dish for essentially every meal in Korea, I prefer cooking it in dishes like Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew), which requires sour kimchi. This requires a longer fermentation time so I don’t eat the kimchi I make until at least 2 or 3 months after I make it. I sometimes even wait for up to 5 months before I even think about opening the container. As I said, I like my kimchi really sour.

When I returned to the States, I found myself craving the stuff. Sure, you can find them in the refrigerated sections of the Asian market, but they were either (1) not vegetarian and/or (2) had loads of garlic in it. As such, I did some research, as all Asian mothers tend not to use measurements, and made up a recipe of my own for my Vegan Kimchi – sans the garlic. Since I’ve returned, I make around 2 batches a year.  Continue reading

Traveling Through Post – X

Has it really been that long since I updated my postcard wall?

Why, yes, it has.

Even though I don’t keep up with posting them up online in a prompt manner, I always do a little happy dance when I find another one in my mailbox. :) It’s not the cheapest hobby, but it’s definitely cheaper than actually traveling! …Quite honestly, I’d love to be there in person.

Alas, the woes of being an adult!

I just love how they’re all different; I wonder if I will ever receive repeat postcards…

An Expedited Thanksgiving

It’s amazing how time flies these days. It’s already November!

Even though my favorite time of the season is fast approaching, I find myself a little sad, because I’m caught up in this whirlwind of “adult” things (this will be reserved for a separate post… if I ever find the time for it). How did Halloween sneak up on me?? Then again, I really didn’t do it much justice – instead, I scheduled our family’s Thanksgiving 2014 Dinner the very next night.

This was mainly because I would be leaving the country the week of the actual Thanksgiving Day and I refuse to not have Thanksgiving Dinner this year. My family didn’t really care too much – they just enjoyed the fact that we would be getting together over food so they were pretty excited. Who am I kidding? I was most definitely excited as well. Food: the magic word. Now, I wouldn’t say our Thanksgiving Dinners are terribly traditional, but they are most definitely epic on their own level. Okay, quite honestly, they became more epic starting last year, because it was my first Thanksgiving with me married (Hah! That still rings odd in my mental ears.) and I wanted to have a legit Thanksgiving Dinner. Plus, it turns out that my other half never had a real Thanksgiving celebration and I was determined to change that. Before this, they were small, normal dinners with my immediate family and we might even have dessert (I live in a family of health nuts). Even before that during my childhood in California (and before my family became completely vegetarian), my parents would buy ready-made Thanksgiving Dinners and we would eat at home.

Last year’s Dinner was ridiculous. I put it together so I did most of the cooking and, of course, I insisted on making everything from scratch (except for the veggie “meat”). I don’t quite remember the menu but I remember cooking from the day before up until the actual dinner itself. There was vegetarian “turkey” (it was disturbingly in the shape of a chicken mold including the head), biscuits, mashed potatoes with gravy, veggie meatloaf, Cornbread stuffing, Grapefruit tart… my Asian family also brought over more Asian fare.

This year, we all had our roles, which is a big relief when you work full-time and my family Thanksgiving dinners means you cook for around 15 people. (The sad thing is that if we had one with all of my family members not in town, we might as well be a restaurant.)

Continue reading

Traveling through Post – IX

Here’s another set!

Even though I started postcrossing as a hobby of sorts – a way to get to know our neighbors from afar and “travel” by getting glimpses of life and other people and cultures – I feel like it just nudges the travel bug within me more. 

Until I can go on another trip abroad, I guess these will have to do. At least my mailbox is happy and so am I. :)

Traveling Through Post – VIII

I actually had these ready for a good month but was too busy with life and work in general. I’ve got quite the collection, here!

Funny enough, the next batch should be ready soon as well. :)

Hot Yoga: The Verdict

It’s been two weeks since my first hot yoga class and within that two weeks, I made it to ten classes. It’s been a pretty interesting journey and though I have a long way to go, ten sessions is a good mid-way point to get my thoughts on hot yoga across.

First thing, they weren’t joking when they say you have your good days and your bad days. I’ve had days where I walked in and was completely gung ho about it only to have a class where I just couldn’t balance very well or I couldn’t get through a pose (like that camel post? My body seems to have a vendetta against it because it’s. Then there were days like today, where I have a sore throat and am perhaps on the verge of getting a cold but I do better than the past three classes. It makes no sense, but like one of the instructors likes to say: tune in to your body that day. There will be days where you will be more tired and days where you’re made for hot yoga. Either way, as long as you keep on trying, you’ll still reap the benefits.

Secondly: yoga is for people of all shapes and fitness levels. I like that. All it takes is practice. Half of the people I see in class are married and a good amount of them are middle aged or even grandparent aged, but they have these awesomely lean bodies, despite the fact that the lack of collagen due to aging gives way to wrinkly/droopy skin. There are some who are normal, though. Same with the younger people in class. Last weekend, there was a new person in class: she was tall, French, and had an amazing body despite the fact that she looked like she was in her mid to late-40’s. It was the first time someone had to leave the room before the 90-minute class was over. It made me feel better about myself; even though my first day was far from the best, at least I stayed. However, it seems like the people who do this regularly have the means to do it (there are some normal cars like Hondas and Toyotas, but there are your fair share of luxury cars as well).

Third, weight loss is still a steady work-in-progress. Since I began, I have lost about 5 to 6 pounds. I still eat (especially on the weekends) and I drink around 60 ounces of water a day, but the practice helps me a lot with keeping the weight down once I get to the weekday. It’s not a drastic change, but it’s a gradual one.. and gradual weight loss is a good thing. A part of me still wishes there was a more intense component, but this hot yoga thing is always challenging so I like it even though I’m not sure what it does to build muscle mass. Plus, it’s not cheap so I will go as many times as I can.

I’ve been getting more and more flexible! I love it. :) After class, my legs always feel a little unsteady and the next day, a group or two of muscles are a little sore (and sometimes it feels like I pulled something from stretching too far) but I feel more flexible. I can’t do the splits yet, but perhaps I can with time. I can say that compared to the beginning where almost every muscle felt sore to some extent, now, it’s just a little here and there. I hope my body isn’t getting used to the constant stretching and pulling and sweating.

Speaking of sweat, at the beginning, I didn’t sweat as much. Now, my shirt (and shorts) are quite literally soaked once class is finished. I think it’s because I can push myself further and I can do more of the poses with shorter breaks. Also, starting from the second class, the sweat I sweat doesn’t taste like sweat – it tastes like water. I’m serious: I have my butt in the air and my face is almost touching the floor and I wonder why it seems like something liquid is running across my vision. It’s my sweat and it doesn’t sting. It quite literally feels the same as if you have water running into your eyes. It might as well had been my tears. It’s a little baffling but cool at the same time. According to my friend who did hot yoga before, the sweating is supposed to take out all the toxins in your body. Essentially, this means that I’m [almost] toxin-free!

It’s halfway through my first month and I already wonder if I should continue with the second month. I miss cooking and eating hot meals regularly, but I also admit that adding hot yoga into my routine isn’t a bad thing either. Other than the fact that my time at home has been cut quite a bit on the weekdays so I have less time to tend to the household aspect of things and when I do, I’m on a time constraint. The main thing here is if I can afford to continue it. There is a discount if you renew before the end of your first month, but it’s still not a small amount. Perhaps I will see how I fare the closer it gets to the end of the month and I’ll make a spontaneous decision… like I usually do.

 

Hot Yoga Through the Eyes of a Newbie

I did it. I finally did it.

I joined a neighborhood hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) class because my steady weight increase was getting to the point of no return, if it wasn’t already. Now let me tell you a little bit about myself and why me beginning hot yoga is somewhat of a surprise.

Background.

  1. I don’t mind outdoor activities, sweating, or trying new things. However, I tend to like them more on an intense, high-intensity level. Rock climbing? Insanity? Taekwondo? Count me in! Yoga? …That’s a different story. I never did real yoga before other than some yoga-influenced moves during exercise routines and one failed attempt to follow along with a yoga DVD (let’s not go there again) and when I did toe that line into “Yoga Territory”, it was usually short-lived and I got bored rather quickly.
  2. I hate the heat. I can’t stay in a sauna for more than a minute or two without feeling like I was suffocating… and I would only be sitting down. What would happen if I were actually moving? I’m also the person you call up to go to the beach in the Winter and not the Summer. My friends all know this by now.
  3. My lungs have never been good. I suffered from childhood asthma which occasionally comes back when I get a serious cough or when I do long stretches of cardio. This is probably why I don’t really run; I start feeling like a vice and tightening its grip around my throat and lungs after only a short period of time. I can walk forever and jog for a little longer than I can run, but I can’t run. If there was a zombie apocalypse with those crazy-fast, smarter-than-your-usual zombie, I would die. Period. Why does this matter? It gets worse in the heat and humidity.
  4. I have [had] decent flexibility. It was a lot better when I practiced taekwondo regularly, but as it was, I can do things okay. However, yoga takes it to a whole new level from the little I had seen and heard from others. I was fairly certain that compared to a yogi (that is what hardcore yoga practitioners are called, right?), I was as stiff as a three-day-old cadaver.

The Reason.
I’m still not sure why I ultimately clicked the “pay” button online that night, but it could have been because of any number of things or a unique amalgamation of it all. Perhaps I wanted to get control over my weight (I hope it’s not too late). Perhaps I needed to step out of this routine, albeit married, life and I needed to take that step and do something new to spice things up again. Then maybe it was just the right time and I was in that kind of mood and everything was a big coincidence.  Continue reading