Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time to prepare long and chilly season

Around this time of the year most of Korean families are getting busy for something yummy: ‘Kimjang’ which means preparing a whole bunch of kimchi for a long winter time here in Korea. This is one of the most important things to do before winter says ‘hi’. Since it is hard to get fresh veggies during the cold winter as well as Koreans enjoy kimchi almost every meal we’d like to take this annual event pretty seriously. Many people buy ready-made kimchi from the market year-round but for this time of the year we still try it ourselves.

Since it is a pretty huge event (Think about the portion. An average of four family members share kimchi about 3 months. Almost every meal we have it. We make lots of different dishes out of kimchi such as kimchi fried rice, kimchi soup and etc.) it requires lots of work and takes almost two full days. So I went down to my parents’ and helped them a bit. Here’s a little story of my handmade kimchi that you might enjoy. 

Here are a few ingredients I was able to take photos. Since I was busy for washing, cutting, chopping and preparing bunch of things I totally forgot to take some photos. But, here are some for you. I apologize for the not-so-great photo quality, but hopefully they’re good enough to interest you.
Those green cabbages are freshly grown in my dad’s garden. Looking pretty healthy, right? All organic and ready for reborning to kimchi. We washed and socked them in the salty water over night. Then rinsed them thoroughly. So here we are.
There were lots of other greens we prepared but this is only one I colud capture. :(

Also, some radishes that my dad picked up from his garden. They look unusually tiny and cute. Seems like the cold weather blocked them from growing fully.

We cut them nicely here. Aww.. look at those. Those look just like baby mittens, don’t they? Those remind me of knitting a pair of mittens soon. (hopefully before the winter says 'good bye'!)

What are those? Do you guess?> Outer leaves of cabbages and leaves of radishes are here on the roof enjoying suntan. They will be dried fully and then nicely saved for some delicious soups later. Nothing should be wasted. J

So finally here’s a fun part! We mixed everything but cabbage. We were making lovely kimchi stuffing with lots of red chili powder. It was a huge portion so dad and I had to work together to mix them thoroughly. It was already looking good and smelling amazing~
And… finally the most demanding yet important part: Getting the cabbages dressed up. Oh, this is so fun, too. Well, I was overly excited about this and totally forgot to record the moment. Ooops!! It could’ve been super fun to share with you though. Anyway, my hands got all red and messy so I guess even if I remembered I might not be able to take photos..

So here’s our kimchi nicely lounging in the cozy kimchi pot. They were heavenly hot and pretty!! They will be happily staying in the kimchi refrigerator a while. (Have you ever heard? ‘A kimchi refrigerator’. It is a refrigerator, but specifically designed to ferment kimchi deliciously. Every Korean household has at least one.)

Today (It’s been about two weeks since we made kimchi.) I finally opened my pot to check out how my kimchi is doing. I am proudly introducing my handmade kimchi 2012. Looks pretty good and smells stronger. The best way to check it out? Some bites! It is still fresh and not fully ripens yet. But, tastes pretty delicious and juicy. I love it and I am happy. Most of all I am so proud!!  

The weather is getting awfully cold day by day (tomorrow we are expecting -13C/8.6F) but I feel so ready to survive during the winter with my lovely kimchi. I will be caving in my cozy atelier and sew, knit, and eating lots of kimchi. Are you ready for your wonderful season, too? Whatever you do stay cozy and creative!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trip to the old time

So before my extra busy and hectic season started we (of course me and my dear boyfriend) planned to have a little fun. The weather gets chiller day by day here so we better act quick.

In Korea we have a huge ‘OUTDOOR’ folk museum called Korean Folk Village. It demonstrates lots of great traditional things and you can experience some cool things just like old Korean used to live. My boyfriend from the States seems like overly excited about the place like this. For me simply hoping out of my little studio and taking a good walk while getting fresh air were absolutely sweet reasons to join him.

The weather was per~fect for shooting photos. Nicely overcast day so things look softer and warmer than as they are. Just my kind of day!! So we made sure we had enough batteries to feed our cameras and happily hopped out. It means… I have plenty to show you today~ J I am wondering how many of you are interested in old Korean living style but hopefully you’d like my photos. Things are not-so-fancy but pretty cool-looking. We don’t live this way anymore yet it used to be an efficient and cozy way of living in Korea. Now it is fun to look back and learn some of our ancestors’ wisdom and wit. So why don’t we take a look together?

Those are old houses. (Can you believe that the museum exhibits more than two hundred and thirty something houses?) Shapes and materials of houses vary depending on the regions and classes of people who lived in. Houses have two to three rooms generally (Well, some rich folks lived in houses with more than five to ten rooms though. How glamorous!) and a little kitchen and a separate toilet.

With a help of gorgeous fall foliage the village looked amazingly beautiful! Since we visited on weekday we missed chances to experience something fun like traditional dyeing (which I really wanted), wooden craft, mask-making, pottery-making, and silk thread-making… However, walking around the village was so enjoyable and lovely as you see.

About the middle point we arrived the bazaar area. Yay!! How long did I wait for this moment? I was super hungry. Time to feed ourselves and have some extra fun. We ordered traditional meat soup with rice, Korean pancake and some traditional alcohol drink. What a fun feast we had!! Those were so delicious, too!

Oh, I almost forgot little something I really wanted to share: a hat. While I was preparing my next BIG project (Yes, I said it! I am trying to start something advanced after the success of my last sweater. Well, I am probably overly optimistic, but at least I am more confident now.) I was able to finish this little thing for my boyfriend. I didn’t use a fancy yarn, but I think it turned out pretty nicely. Extremely quick and simple yet the texture is so unique and fun. You know… I am a huge texture freak. J The cool thing is the hat is knit inside out so it reveals its beauty at the final moment when you turn it inside out. Waiting isn’t so fun but after you put all your heart in it ‘voila!’ you will know all your effort was totally worth it. So here it is. My handsome boyfriend voluntarily modeled for the hat again. I start to think that he is really natural and he knows how to be photogenic. What do you think? J

Anyway I am glad he enjoys being a model for me. The most important thing is he really loved the hat and gave me a beautiful smile while he was walking in the village. How sweet of him! BTW, if you're wondering the pattern is attached here.

The weather got colder and darker quick so we had to leave soon. We barely finished half way though. Kind of sad to say good bye but we decided to come back later when the weather gets better. No matter what it was a lovely fun day-out. I hope I have more chances to get out and have little joy like this. Are you having some fun in this lovely season? If not go out and enjoy the last moment of the gorgeous season before it says good bye to you.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

My first ever sweater

It’s finally done. This is official. My first ever knitted sweater is completed. I’ve been intimidated by lots of sweater patterns at Ravelry at least five years and finally got enough confidence after successfully finished my first and wearable skirt and decided to challenge myself further. Can you believe that I waited ‘five years’ to attempt something I’ve always wanted to knit? What’s wrong with me, seriously? Why wouldn’t I try first anyway? I am not a girl that worries of making mistakes. I still don’t know what kept me from trying sweaters that long.
I tried to choose my first sweater simple yet lovely enough. So once I finish it hopefully I get more inspired and ready to try something more advanced. There are just little too many lovely sweater patterns at Ravelry. I ended up with screening down to thirty candidates and finally chose one guy that calls for the yarn weight similar to what I already have. (Yes, I have yarn stashes I must let go of to get new fresh ones if you know what I mean.) So, here it is: the simplest sweater I found and yes, it IS simple.  
So, now you ask how was the actual knitting? I don’t know where to start but one thing I can say is the process was unbelievably easy and purely enjoyable. I was a bit concerned about attaching arms and finishing up underarms since I’ve never done before. However, they were way easier than they sounded. The pattern was pretty clear and easy to follow. The yarn did absolutely wonderful job as you see. I simply admire the texture and the colorway the yarn generously created here. I cannot believe this is my first sweater I've tried ever. It looked so beautiful and stylish that I got great feedbacks already. I still cannot believe I waited this long to dive into this rewarding and enjoyable knitting.

Here’s a takeaway from this amazing experience. Be brave and do try anyway to see if it works for you or not. Without testing you would never know what you will get! Now I am off to knit my new jacket with even more comfidence! What's on your needles?   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oktober-fest in my side of the world~

October is a great month in Korea. You can find lots and lots of fun festivals all over the country. Many big cities get busy for preparing something special waving ‘hi’ to tourists. I always have hard time to choose one or two from numerous interesting events. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could visit all the festivals and have fun every day? (Obviously I will need to knit and sew at night time being cozy in my bed though.)
This year, I and my boy friend finally decided to ‘do’ one thing we’ve planned forever. For some reason (I guess most of all, because the place is little too far from where we live), we kept delaying but this time we feel totally inspired and finally packed and hopped on the train.

I am not sure since when, but Korea got so much into lanterns recently. When winter comes a little lantern festival is running downtown Seoul. Did I say ‘little’? Yes, it is pretty small, but it is absolutely delightful and enjoyable walking around the area with loved ones. This time we went down far south to explore the original lantern festival we’ve talked about. Jinju city: not so much known, but it seems like it’s been holding the lantern festival pretty long. I wasn’t aware of it, but my sweet boyfriend found information a while ago and finally was able to sell it to me.

The trip to get there took long and we got a bit tired losing our energy and excitement on the way, but it was totally worth it I must say! As we expected the festival turned out to be purely fabulous! Many people got together and the weather was darn lovely!! So, here are some photos I saved for you. No words can describe the scenes. A photo speaks a thousand words you say? Well, I don’t know. I don’t think even my pretty good camera could capture what I’ve enjoyed over there. Either words or photos can't possibly explain the marvelous view.

Only one thing I can say though: It was awesome. It was real awesome and you must go and enjoy yourself. The idea of putting colorful and festive lanterns on the river was simply brilliant! The reflections on the water make the festival double fun. The tickets for boat riding were sold out so we will have to wait till the next year, but I think that’s totally worth trying. I wish some of you get inspired by my photos and make a plan to visit next year. I absolutely assure you that you will be grateful that you take my suggestion.

There’s an old Korean saying ‘Sightseeing Keumkang Mountain should go after something to eat’. Keumkang is one of the beautiful mountains in Korea. The saying means you need to eat first even if you’re so tempted to leave for something extra fun and enjoyable. So, here we are. Before we went further we had something not so fancy but pretty fun: a big bowl of hot mussel soup. It was good enough to comfort our cold stomachs and entertain our eyes. It is always fun to snack when you go out you know. J

Actually I hesitate to come down here, but I am glad I made it. We enjoyed this so much we will definitely come back next year. What a great way to celebrate a beautiful autumn night! This was one of the most beautiful nights I’ve had during my past travels.
If you’re interested here’s an official website you many want to check out. http://www.yudeung.com/10E_index.php You will get a good review of things you need to know before you leave. If you visit or stay Korea please swing by next time and have some fun!  

So what’s going on your side of the world? What’s your Oktober-fest? Anything you’re enjoying? Or something you’d like to share? I am so excited to hear from you. Have a beautiful October!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New for the atelier: first few arrivals

Hi guys~ It’s been a while since my atelier introduced fresh products. As a new season arrives my new creations are waiting for you to say hello. Last summer, I’ve been working on creating different color schemes and developing simple yet practical designs. This season the atelier will be open with not only knitting/crochet related products but also some cool bags and organizers for daily use. So, please stay tuned and swing by when you have a chance. You know when you visit my atelier you will be inspired and excited~
So, here we go. Some of my new arrivals. Thanks to my fans who have kept asking for ‘easy to use’ as well as ‘looking-good’ knitting bags I came up with those versatile drawstring bags. The new version is roomier than my originals and has many pockets in and out. So, how many? I say about 8ish? But as you know you can customize the sizes and numbers of pockets. (Don’t forget. That’s the privilege you get when you shop at my atelier~) Six small pockets inside can hold lots of things from small stitch markers to circular needles. I also keep my pens and a handful of crochet hooks just in case. Outer pleated pockets are pretty spacious so they are able to hold knitting pieces you're working on or your phone and purse for knitting out. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? J 
I love drawstring bags very much if you noticed. I enjoy making them as well as carrying them out every day. They can hold any shapes of my little stuffs snuggly and easy to grab when I need to take short trips to a post office or bank. I especially love this new version since it has so many pockets that I can organize my things nicely.
I still try to create new colors. I know. I have so many colors already you can choose from. Many of my fans complain that it is so hard to choose what they want since there are little too many options. Sorry, guys, but I think that’s a good thing. I always wanted to have some options and I am sure it is very important for some of you, too. If you have a problem with choosing one color, simply choose some and let me work with you. Who knows? We can come up with something totally awesome! We don’t have to stay in the box when we don’t feel comfortable in it. Let's think out of the box! Anyway, my new colors will arrive soon if you’re interested. This time I am working with deeper and richer colors and darker shades. You will see them (and hopefully like them) real soon.~

So, how’s everything going with you then? I am sure you got busy creating something fabulous, too. Anyone want to share? I will be so excited to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by and have a creative and fun season~