Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Korean Flower Arrangement~ About the flowers

I have been going to this Flower arrangement class ever since we moved to Korea and I have made such good friends and learned a lot!

Flower Arrangement is the term but this art involves using branches, stems, even rocks (as props), twigs and flower buds along with the actual flower. Some flowers fade off so soon while many buds bloom after the arrangement giving a new twist to the arrangement. Some stems shoot out leaves and buds right after they are immersed in water and some just stay the same whether in water or out of it. And then, my favorite kind, there are some flowers that stay on and on :)

Korean Flower arrangement with marigold, astromeria, anemone, spray
The orange and yellow alstroemeria stay on and on for a long time! While the violet anemones die out very fast. The White Spray buds blossomed which made the arrangement so lovely! The Marigold buds bloomed too, giving the arrangement a more whitish look. 

White and green Korean Arrangement with pussy willow, bamboo and white rose
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The beautiful orange rununculus flowers looked gorgeous for a long time while the purple camillas needed water spray to bloom

Bright Red Gerbera and yellow-orange orchid along with an orange tint from the alstroemeria gives this arrangement the focal point while the asparagus leaves and and the budding twig add character and depth to this arrangement. This is one of my favorite arrangements. It lasted a long time, with the twigs growing beautifully.

Anthurium lasts forever. It was such a thrill to have the pink anthurium in the arrangement along with potted plants which kept this arrangement pretty for quite some time!

Red tulips, violet iris makes this arrangement interesting along with the flowering twigs. 

K for Korean Flower Arrangement for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Japchae- Tasty treat

Japchae is a popular Korean noodle dish that I love making. The chewy texture of the translucent sweet potato noodles along with the plethora of veggies makes it so colorful and tasty.

The colorful, flavorful and healthy Japchae
The authentic Korean version of the Japchae can be found here. My version is an easy, quick-fix, veggie probably Indianish version of the same :)

The sweet potato noodles takes a bit more time to cook than our regular rice or wheat noodles. I cook it with salt and oil to make the noodles stringy and not mush together. I also wash the cooked and hot noodles in cold water to ensure it does not mush together. Keep it aside. It looks nice and translucent. And tastes a bit chewier than the usual noodles. It gives it an interesting taste.

I like using all the veggies I have in my fridge in this dish :) Mainly, I ensure I have the red and yellow bell peppers, button mushrooms and garlic. I love to use bok choy, broccoli, carrots in it.

I sautee chopped garlic, long strips of the onions, colorful peppers, bok choy and spinach in sesame oil. Then, I add the soy sauce, sugar, salt and a pinch of black pepper and let the veggies take in the flavor of the sauces. Then, I transfer all of this to the noodles. After mixing it well, I let it warm and make sure the noodles absorbs the soy sauce too. Last, I add the toasted sesame seeds as a garnish. Easy to make one dish meal :)

J for Japchae for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Third Culture Kid

Today I understood the concept of Third Culture Kids. At a seminar with Libby Stephens,  I was introduced today to the new breed of kids with a passport from one country, living in another, living with parents of yet another culture. What a mouthful! Imagine the culture confusion and language crisis in that set up!

These kids might be the "cool" kids with multiple passports, who have visited a lot of countries in the world, understand and speak different languages. But they are also the kids who constantly have to make new friends, adapt to different cultures, traditions and languages, missing their favorite grandma.

It is a tough life these kids have to adapt to and my kids had a bite of this fruit. Missing our home, (Bangalore still being referenced as home) crying for days after hearing the news of the death of our cat, missing the good Sagars, the touch of the familiar furniture even; Even more tough was adjusting to to the sub zero temperatures, yellow dust, slippery snow and heavy jackets. It was tough for them.

It was so good to see so many people on the same boat, coping up with the same problems coming together to bond and so good to listen to the world renowned speaker give us hope that all will be well.

I for Interesting Information about the Third culture kids for abc Wednesday

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This week in doodles

This week has been so busy so far with the Korean class becoming more and more complicated and the number of school meetings increasing as my son approaches the 12th grade. I still found some peace and quiet with my doodling :)

Decorating the left hand
decorating the left hand :) 
My ideal world would be sweet!
My ideal world would be sweet!

Oh just lines!

Just letting my mind do the drawing!
In color!
H for decorating the Hand and Handmade doodles :D for ABC Wednesday

Friday, February 27, 2015

G for Grades

With age and maturity, there comes a time in your life when you really understand something! Grades isn't everything. Getting good marks may get you into better school, may help you getting into the job market with an edge, but does it matter so much in life? Marks may give us a jump start, but I find attitude towards others and self confidence makes us the person who we really are!

Happy with that notion, both my kids went to The Valley School when we were in Bangalore. That school promises holistic education to the children (and their parents) and showed me a more interesting tendencies of my child . There was no marks in my kids report card. Instead, there were pages and pages of information about how my child faces each subject, what subject is he curious about, does he try hard to understand the problem and does he strive to achieve the solution by himself and much much more. There is no marks, ranking, comparison and peer pressure. All were fee and equal. All kids had fun at school. 

Moving to Seoul, it was a bit hard to get accustomed to the International school here. Driven purely by grades and points, this system was very hard for us to accept and adjust to. Though the grades of the kids are not known to the each other, it is enormously stressful to the kids and more importantly, makes the parents competitive :( There are just letters marking the grades my son has got and the corresponding marks associated in the report card now.

But having successfully stumbled through this system for three years now, I was pleasantly surprised to see words written by the teacher, commenting on his efforts for his Science project! It made my son and me so happy than the grade he achieved for the project. Made him like the teacher a little bit more. Made my day :)

G for Grades for ABC Wednesday

Thursday, February 19, 2015

IKEA in Seoul

Happy Lunar Year to all my friends in the blogworld! Welcome to the year of the Sheep :)

It is a time of the year when Seoul is empty as this is a time when Seoulites visit their family back in their hometowns. So, we took this opportunity to visit the massive IKEA Furniture store that has opened on the outskirts of Seoul. It took 2 subway transfers and one taxi ride to reach that place.  

IKEA in Seoul
IKEA, close to Seoul

IKEA has been so crowded ever since it was opened in Korea few months back. That is why we took this opportunity to go there on a less crowded day.
2nd biggest IKEA
This supposed to be the 2nd biggest IKEA store in the world. Believe me, it was massive. We just skimmed over the store. The chocolates were the reason we went there in the first place :)

pretty pieces in IKEA
pretty pieces in IKEA
 The store was not so crowded as it was a few months ago, it was still filled with shoppers doing their holiday gift shopping.

IKEA Seoul
As usual, the furniture there were stylish, cheap and colorful

Thankfully, it was not too crowded on this day!

IKEA Seoul
Beautifully packaged furniture.
 Not wanting to do 2 transfers back home, we decided to take the KTX back. The KTX station is so close to the IKEA, only 10minutes by walk.
KTX station close to IKEA
The KTX station.

The long walk through the station

I slipped on the station while climbing down the stairs and ended up having a sprain and out of commission for 2 days atleast :(

F for Furniture and Sprained Foot  for ABC Wednesday

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Drawing Seoul

Yet another interesting week! I had entered my drawing for the Seoul Typography contest held by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on the first week of January. I have a passion for doodling and I had used doodling with the idea of depicting the four seasons of Seoul as my entry for the contest. I was selected for the final round last week and this week, my drawing was selected to be one to receive the Special Commentaries award :)

Special commentaries at the Seoul Typography Award

Feeling soo happy! My drawing is now under the copyright of the Seoul city so I am not able to display it to you all. Anyway, here are some more of my doodles. Do see more of my doodles in instagram account here.

Cheers to life! 건배 :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chilbo - The art of Enameling

How time flies when you are having fun!

The past weeks have kept me really busy learning some quite interesting crafting techniques. I have been trying out Chilbo art or Enameling. In this art form, 7 kinds of precious items gold, silver, lapis, crystal, coral, agate and pearl have been used in the earlier days to make jewellery.

I was able to attend this program because of the Itaewon global center in Seoul. I am so glad I live so close to this center that enables me to take part in all these fun activities and explore more and more about the Korean culture. We could do the enameling on pendant or a broach or a key chain. First, inability to choose between broach or pendant. Happy to say, I overcome that indecision by choosing to make two: pendant and broach :)

Chilbo art on a broach
The broach base

Chilbo art on a broach
The pendant base on which we used the Chilbo enameling

The base was available in many different colors. I had a tough time choosing the base color.

Base color choices for the Chilbo art in Seoul
Too many choices for the base color!
We used a fine spatula to coat the base with glass powder mixture. We also had the option of using a transparent or an opaque base! More choices :)

After finally choosing my base color, we used different colored glass pieces as opposed to the real precious stones. We used fine tweezers to make designs on the pendant. 

Learning Chilbo art at Itaewon
We used glass beads to decorate instead of the precious gold, silver, coral 

Chilbo pattern using glass beads in Itaewon
My Chilbo pattern 
 This was my pendant design. Apparently I had used a thick layer of the base glass mixture and the glass beads design that I had used was small.

We then "cooked" the glass pieces in this special oven at around 800 deg C (!) melting the glass and giving it a lustrous shimmer. 

My piece looked a totally different color when it was hot and turned out to be in another color when it cooled down. Another interesting technique was to wear some heat resistant gloves and use a thin metal rod to mix the glass beads into a mosaic pattern. That stirring of the liquid glass beads made very interesting patterns on the pendant!

My mosaic pattern. It was quite a thrill to stir in the glass mixture at high temperatures! I was quite pleased with the heart-like design that the random stirring resulted in!

Beautiful Chilbo patterns done by the Teacher
Beautiful Chilbo patterns done by the Teacher!

E for Enameling for ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

D for doodles

Doodles to brighten up the day!

Red Doodles for the sun
Sun in red doodles

Doodles for the Valentine's Day
For the valentine's day coming up!

Flower doodles
Just a flower doodle

doodles in black
Just a doode done on a cold foggy day

D for Doodles for ABC Wednesday

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Handwriting day!

It is National Handwriting Day in America today! John Hancock, the first person to sign the declaration of Independence had a bold handwriting was born on January 23rd. His birthday is celebrated as National Handwriting Day.

I am a big fan of writing by hand. Using the keyboard is now an easy habit but I still find the pen in hand makes me focus more and gets my thoughts together like the keyboard sometimes does not. Handwriting also is a unique way to express oneself. The slant of the fonts, the curves and sways of each letter, right down to the dots on them adds a little bit of character, personality, uniqueness and a bit of "me" to the handwriting. I remember when I was in fifth grade, I used to dot my i's and j's with little "o"s. I was even reprimanded by my strict class teacher for it. Though most of the times, I always got away with a pat on a back, once even an award for good handwriting but unfortunately good handwriting is not hereditary, i guess. My kids' handwriting is not very pretty, though they get away with it by typing away and printing out their answers to get good grades.

My handwriting on handwriting day.
My handwriting on handwriting day.
I see now that I also have sacrificed the art of good handwriting to the keyboard :( Do send me links of your handwriting!

Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully. The characters are written with the same size And luckily, I was able to get into a calligraphy introductory class to try a bit of Korean calligraphy. The teacher came with the formal head dress and we used handmade paper which had more texture than the regular paper. We also used the traditional ink made of charcoal making it permanent and non-erasable. Each letter is written with careful precision and are of the same size and equal spacing. The teacher also showed us two different styles of writing. One was bold and the other looked more like italicized writing with the letters slanting towards the right.

Korean calligraphy done by the expert
Korean Calligraphy

The bold, normal style of Korean Calligraphy
The bold, normal style of Korean Calligraphy

The italicized Korean calligraphy style.
The italicized Korean calligraphy style.
the mok or black ink made out of charcoal used for Korean calligraphy
The mok or black ink made out of charcoal used for Korean calligraphy
This was my try- Korean calligraphy
This was my try- Korean calligraphy
We were allowed to choose a motto for the calligraphy. I chose the wording that broadly meant "Be like the Sun for the world", Which ofcourse, was a total of three words. An interesting thing about Korean Calligraphy is that the document or paper is folded so that each word is separated by a fold. I ended up doing the reverse. Folded first and then filled in the three words :) I was getting pretty good at this, but ended up asking the teacher to write me the motto to take as a souvenir back home.

Be as the sun for the world
Be as the Sun for the world
 I was so happy with the motto I chose and the teacher's unique handwriting. It was kind of squiggly and added more interest. I even got the seal (the red square at the bottom right, which stands for made in Korea) and I plan to add my own seal (kind of like my signature) that I made here in Seoul. This time, Itaewon global center made my day!

C for Calligraphy: ABC Wednesday
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