Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Katy, Kaby, Kageous...

Cheers to Katy's 28th birthday.

Today (Oct. 25th is my beautiful wife's 28th birthday and I can confidently say that she is the most attractive birthday girl I have ever known.

I love you so much Katy.  
Thanks for being such an incredible friend, Buddy and wife.

If you're a reader of this blog, let Katy know how much you love and appreciate her on this great holiday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Korean's Obsession with Bread and Coffee

When you think of Korea, you probably think kimchi and rice, right?  Wrong.  Korean's have this obsession with bread and coffee that I never expected.  I thought there would be no way that I could find a bakery or a good coffee shop when I first came to Korea, but in fact there is both just about everywhere you go.

Not only do Korean's love bread, but they love the French and have named all of their bakeries after them.  Tour le Jour and Paris Baguette are two bakeries that you will see all over Korea, even if you are in a somewhat small town.  They usually have a variety of pastries or "bbaang" (Korean for bread) which probably will include something containing red bean or something surprisingly sweet.  I have stopped trying to buy "garlic" bread anywhere because it usually is covered in sugar as well.  Sweet and garlic bread just don't go together if you ask me.

My absolute favorite bakery, here in Andong, is a place called Mammoth Bakery.  It's safe to say that we are regulars there since we generally go once a week to enjoy a pastry and an Americano.  Most Andong-ians would agree that Mammoth has the best bread in town, and I also love it because of the atmosphere as well. 

All the goodies...
Our favorite place to relax.
Danny and I love to go in the mornings when they are bringing out all the fresh baked goods.  I think the workers there might wonder about us "waygookins" (foreigners) because we stare down every new baker who is bringing out a new tray of goodies.

My favorite is a chunk of toast that is dipped in a sugar/butter concoction and then it is baked till it's nice a crispy...oh it is so good.

Danny likes to try a variety of things, as usual, and some of his favorites include a brown-ish raisin coffee cake, vegetable croquets, and cinnamon rolls (that they have only had on rare occasion).

Even more then bakeries, coffee shops are litterally EVERYWHERE in Korea.  We have more coffee shops then I can count here in Andong and we are in a relatively small city. 

There's Angel in Us, Holly's Coffee, Caffe Bene, The Alchemist, Starbucks, Cafe Myungga and much more.  Just so you can feel like a local, here are some tips on how to speak Korean when it comes to coffee shops...

Angel-in-Us .... pronounced "angelinusuh"
Caffe Bene....  "capaybenay"
Starbucks... "sta-bucksuh"
Mammoth Bakery.... "mammot"
and coffee is easy... "copi"

They have basically any coffee that you might find in America, however one thing they don't have is decaf.  I prefer to drink decaf, but even in big cities like Seoul Starbucks doesn't carry decaf!  Also is is more rare to find drip coffee, instead you usually have to get an Americano if you don't like the sweet stuff. 

And let me tell you, Koreans LOVE the sweet stuff.  There is some sort of national rule that Koreans can't admit that they like sweet things or that many of their breads and beverages are ridiculously sweet, because most Koreans will say American food is too sweet!  I think not (ahem...sweet garlic bread?).  I want to introduce you to how you make a Korean style coffee with a coffee packet...

Put the coffee packet (which is about 75% sugar, 15% fake creamer, 10% instant coffee) and  in the tiny Dixie cup...

Pour in a splash of water (seriously they fill the already tiny cup up about half way!)...

And stir with the packet (which is something I recently realized probably isn't that sanitary)...

And there you have it...Korean-style Coffee!

In some ways, coffee shops are Danny and my escape from Korea.  When we just need a break, we go to a cozy coffee shop, get a hot drink and pretend we are back home.  Even though it was a surprise to find the two obsessions of coffee and bread in Korea, I must say that I have enjoyed it a lot.  I hope you too can find your "home away from home" at your local "copi" shop!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Great Facial Hair Experiment

One thing I have always enjoyed about Danny is that he's got a little scruff on his face.  By design, I guess, I have always been someone who likes facial hair and luckily, Danny can have some pretty awesome facial hair!  Most Koreans can't really grow a beard or really any sort of facial "fashion" so often the kids are fascinated by Danny's beard.  The kids will occasionally hold up class for a while because each student wants to have their turn in touching his beard.  Since kids aren't used to facial hair, Danny and I decided to conduct an experiment to see what kids would think of not only Danny with a beard, but Danny with different kinds of facial hair each day!  Thus started the GREAT FACIAL HAIR EXPERIMENT (said with a booming voice and some sort of echo effect)!

Day One:  The Full Beard...

Kids didn't seem to mind all that facial hair so much, and it didn't hurt that some students were in love with him after the first 10 seconds.  Danny has that effect on 5th graders, I guess ; )  We were actually surprised though because often students will say, "Danny teacher, oh dirty face! Shave! Ewww!"  and that is basically a direct quote.

Day Two:  The Goatee...

I guess this one was not such a hit with some of the kids : )

Day Three:  The Moustache or as I like to call it "The Three Musketeer"...

I can't take anything he says seriously when he has a moustache, but I guess he can't really go wrong with these kids.  It's actually almost a daily occurrence for Danny to be called handsome by somebody so I think he will go through withdrawal when we go back to the States because no one is commenting on how good looking he is. (No one besides me of course ; )

Day Four:  The Usual... 

The last day Danny went back to "normal" and the kids seemed to still all favor the beard or goatee in the end.  Maybe it's because they were jealous of Danny's "fur" as they like to call it, or maybe they just don't know what to think about that little patch under his lips, but in the end Danny and I were both very surprised by the results of our experiment.  The U.S. has different terms for Danny's usual facial hair: the flavor saver, the soul patch, or a mouche (apparently), but we are pretty sure that there really isn't any term in Korean for this stylish facial hair choice.  I think actually it confuses people more then anything, but we like to keep the Koreans on their toes ; ) 

Now don't worry, you too can become a scientist like us by doing your own experiment, I just hope that you are a boy if you are going to explore the wonderful world of facial hair : ) And if anyone is reading this and wants to publish our findings in some sort of scientific journal, call my people and we'll make some sort of (profitable) arrangement.  Good times in Korea!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Colorado is ALWAYS!

As you may know, Danny and I recently spent time at home in Colorado and we are happy to report that Colorado is still just as beautiful as it always was!  Danny and I hadn't been home for 1 and a 1/2 years so we wondered if the best state in the US (I'm not bias or anything) had changed as well since so much has changed in the people in our lives.  I already shared the amazing foods that we got to have while at home, but I want to share the other highlights of our trip.  Here's a Top 10 list (in no particular order) of the highlights of Colorado...

10. Seeing our family!  Being able to hug and talk to our family face to face instead of over Skype was priceless.  We have missed them so much and can't wait till we live within miles from them and not over 6,000 miles.

The Doerksen Family (minus a few)

The Wilson Family (minus one)

9.  Driving a car!  Danny and I only use public transportation in Korea, and although it is great, being able to just hop in a car and drive to your destination quickly was amazing.  We were worried that we had forgotten what it was like to drive, but after only one scare of Danny merging quite akwardly, it was like riding a bike.  Thanks, Grandpa Wilson, for the use of your Pilot... it's hard to go back to buses, trains, taxis and bikes after such a great time in that car!

Driving was a little nerve-racking at times :)
Danny also got to do a motorcycle ride with the Doerksen boys, which I know was one of his driving, or riding, highlights.  I'm sure they got in trouble, knowing those guys, but riding all through the Rocky Mountains, I'm sure, was pretty spectacular.

8.  Going to the Wilson Ranch!

Danny always makes fun of me when I talk about the Ranch because he says I talk it up so much that he feels like there should be unicorns running around and everything should be made of candy : )  There are no unicorns, but I do think it is my favorite place to be in all the world.  The Wilson Ranch sits on a cattle ranch in Gypsum, Colorado and I think it is just gorgeous.  You can just rest, relax, play outside, and watch the unicorns roam... haha, just kidding, they do have horses though!

7.  Spending time with three new babies!  Three babies were born while we've been in Korea so it was amazing to meet them for the first time.  Our neice, Lily, has the cutest smile and a rockin' mullet for a one year old.

Then there is our nephew Clark Kent who is one of the cutest kids who ever lived if I do say so myself.  And last there is our godson, Jude, who is the smiliest baby I have ever been around.  Since we aren't having kids anytime soon, it's nice to get my baby fix from all the cute little-ones running around.

6.  Going to a Colorado Rockies game!  There's nothing that says America like baseball and hotdogs and we got to enjoy both.  On September 11th we got to sit 6 rows from the field and soak up some sun while the Rockies won 4-1.  I even got on the jumbotron dancing, so I considered it a pretty awesome day!

5.  Seeing great friends!  I don't know what I was thinking because we didn't get pictures of all our friends, and we didn't even get to see all the people we wanted but seeing some friends was amazing.  Korea can feel a little lonely at times, but we had no feeling of that while we chillin' in Breckenridge or laughing hysterically or playin' cornhole!  Thanks friends for all the good times... we needed it!

 I was especially excited to see our friends, Daniel and Sarah, before they had their twin boys about two weeks later... congrats to the Byrds!

4.  Seeing some beautiful Colorado scenery!  I am really not joking when I say Colorado is the best state in the US and it's partially because of Garden of the Gods.  Colorado summers are next to heaven and being able to enjoy the outdoors without sweating like a crazy person is soooo nice.  I mean really, could it get any better than Colorado?

3.  Feeling the comfort of home!  Danny and I have both said that there is just something about America that has a sort of "comfort level" that we can't get in Korea.  Maybe it's being able to understand the language?  Maybe it's being able to see and sit on grass?  or Maybe its just because it's where we are supposed to be?  No matter what it is, I guess that's why we call it home : )

2.  Seeing the Stars and Stripes!  Call me patriotic, but live outside the US for a couple years and lets see if you appreciate Mrka even more.  It's just an awesome country, and so every time I saw a flag I just had to say, "God bless AMERICA!"

That's freedom, baby!
1.  Spending time with my travel buddy.  Oh yeah.

Our time in Colorado was just the pick-me-up we needed, and as usual I wouldn't have wanted to spend it with anyone else.  We really loved every minute of the trip, but because of how jam packed it all was, I think we may now need a vacation from our vacation.  Well, thanks Colorado for an amazing trip and see you in 5 months!

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, CO