Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Flowers in the Neighborhood

Even though Yeouido is famous for its cherry tree-lined streets, and even though there is a festival there every year where they block off the roads to motor vehicles so pedestrians can enjoy the blossoms day and night, our neighborhood in Seoul was just as lovely.


cherry and magnolia trees in blossom adorn the apartment complexes near where we live


The trees can be seen all along the walkway of this little arcade where bikes are stored.


close-up view of the same trees seen in the previous picture



A particularly lovely tree right outside the security building in this arcade.


TheFry has enjoyed a daily walk for some months now.  In fact, we have to take him out for at least an hour in the morning so he’ll be tired enough for an afternoon nap.  Otherwise, he can be cranky all day.


Here he is in the arcade, making a mad dash for the phone booth.


He inspects all the glass panes to make sure they are really there.



He takes an interest in the bolts.





A mere four days after the previous pictures were taken, we had received a bit of rain.  When the clouds parted, most of the cherry blossoms were gone.


See you next year, my lovelies!



The next spring flower to grace Korea is the bombshell azalea.


Sometimes my camera takes good pictures…



Gathered together, gossiping in the sunshine.


They are most popular in purple, but they also come in red.



There were also these delightful flowers…not sure what they are called yet.


And Lilacs!!!


I’m trying to get TheFry interested in flowers.



He tries to grab them.


Trying to take a picture together.  TheFry says: “Look out, ladies!”


Unexpectedly, TheFry said “Cheese!”


Happy Spring, Everyone!

Cherry Blossoms…At Night!

Yeouido Island is the “place to go” for cherry-blossom viewing in Seoul. The road behind the National Assembly Building is lined on both sides with cherry trees all the way around. At night, the road is blocked off to motor vehicles and taken over by pedestrians and street vendors. The sidewalks are equipped with lights that highlight the blossoms’ beauty.


It being night time, good photographs are somewhat difficult to take.


The streets are flooded with people.


The blossoms are just as lovely in the dark.

DSCI0459 DSCI0460


PapaFish tries to get a picture of us with blossoms in the background, but TheFry refuses to cooperate.


TheFry just doesn’t feel like taking pictures this evening.


These blossoms were made for lovebirds.

Cherry Blossom Success!

We finally had a successful trip to Yeouido about a week ago. (About a week after we had originally tried to go)


The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom.


We walked in the opposite direction of where the festival is normally located.  There was a lovely little tree-lined sidewalk that bordered the Han River Park.  DSCI0429  DSCI0432

Office buildings can be seen in the background – they are across the river from us.


Cherry Blossoms and Golden Bells meet for a kiss.

   DSCI0438 DSCI0439 DSCI0440


We eventually came upon a place where there were cherry trees lining both sides of the sidewalk.

DSCI0443 DSCI0444 

TheFry was getting antsy so we crossed over to a park.


Goodbye, cherry blossom road!


The park had lots of lovely blossoms of its own.



TheFry and I pose for a photo.



TheFry was pretty much bored the whole time.



But he still took some cute pictures!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spicy Toasted Cheese and Tofu Sandwiches

I was never a fan of tofu back home. In fact, every time I think of tofu, I still think of this song.

However, that was back in America, where the tofu was gritty and glumpy and oh-so-foreign. We never ate tofu as a part of our daily diet. The only time I ever ate tofu was at Chinese restaurants. I'll never forget the slimy texture and the flavorlessness of the probably-from-a-can-hot-and-sour-soup I had once when I was ten years old.

However, the texture and variability of tofu has grown on me. I have had good tofu that is silky soft and mixes well with savory or spicy flavors - perhaps sour was not the best way to enjoy it in my youth. My favorite way to eat it, of course, is cubed and rolled in a little bit of flour, salt and pepper and fried to golden crispy goodness - the outside is crunchy, but the inside is soft and delectable.

Additionally, tofu in Korea is cheap. I pay less than 800 won for a block of tofu. At the current exchange rate, that's less than $0.72 for a block of soybean goodness that would cost me probably $3 or more back home. So when I find a protein source that I kind of like that comes as cheaply as tofu, I take advantage of it! The fact that TheFry doesn't mind tofu at all helps a lot, too.

Last night I made spicy toasted cheese and tofu sandwiches. I prepared the pan as I usually would for making a toasted cheese sandwich - I melted a tablespoon of margarine over low heat and then added a slice of bread. I had already prepped a few thin slices of tofu for the sandwich. I layered the tofu between two thin layers of cheese and toasted the sandwich as usual (although I recommend adding a pinch of salt on top of the tofu before the next layer of cheese). After the sandwich was done, I added some hot & sour sauce given to us by our local pizza restaurant (but tabasco sauce would do wonderfully, as well).

I must say it was a success. Even PapaFish didn't mind it so much. I'll definitely be keeping this experience in mind for the future when I run out of cheese but need a melty toasted sandwich treat. ^_^ Sorry there's no pictures to share!

Cherry Blossom Fail

Call me silly, but I always have to post pictures of flowers and nature in the springtime. Last April I posted pictures of trees blossoming near our home in Minnesota. It was truly a glorious event, because Minnesota winters are long, cold and depressing. Every year I feel like the winter just might last a full 365 days.

The winter of 2009-2010 here in Seoul was quite bitter. It snowed at least four times. Not Minnesota-style knee-deep snow, but we actually had to *gasp* cancel classes because of snow one day in January.

That said, I feel like the winter here lasted longer than it should have - or at least longer than I was expecting. So maybe you can imagine my elation when the Golden Bells started blooming last weekend:

Believe it or not, but I used to hate these flowers. They were just too bright for me - not dainty enough.
Now I welcome them with all my heart.

There were plenty of Golden Bells decorating the National Assembly Building. They make a lovely fountain of gold against drab white concrete.

There was plenty of lovely green foliage, as well.

While in the area, we visited a park on a hill that was full of all kinds of strange, bizarre, and inappropriate sculptures. We also saw at least three kindergarten classes walking around the park and/or picnicing there, also. Probably the least strange sculpture was this one, which I happened to really like:

I have no idea what the significance of this statue is, but I thought it was lovely.

There was plenty of running around, waving hello to anyone who was not made of metal or stone, and chasing magpies to be had. TheFry has been up to his same old tricks, but with some new habits, as well.

He has started covering his face while laughing, which is pretty common here. Most of my students laugh this way.

However, there were no cherry trees in bloom as far as we saw along the road where the cherry blossom festival will be held this week. It's been just a little too cold the last few weeks probably. However, there were a few shrubs here or there who offered a little bit of hope.

We're going back on Saturday night after I get off of work. We'll probably take some snacks with us and mingle among the throngs of people who will likewise be enjoying the graceful loveliness of these flowers as well.

Happy Cherry Blossom Viewing Season, everyone!