February 18, 2018

A belated Valentine's Day

I made photo cards to send to our clients while they were traveling on Valentine's Day. The wrinkle on the paper backdrop is an eye sore but oh well.

Did you have a good February 14th? 

We don't really do anything to celebrate and with odd busy schedules we literally winged it - I gave Yangkyu a card with a sloth on it because in the recent weeks I have nicknamed him sloth because he hangs on to me like one. I joked that for Halloween I should be a tree and he a sloth. He got me a croissant/cupcake with some creamy filling - he hesitated because it wasn't vegan but I didn't want him to go searching for a bakery after work and night class in search of a Valentine's vegan cupcake (only if vegan things were more accessible.. this is my biggest challenge right now but more on this at a later time)

We're almost at the end of February and just days away from the last of our Piri's Place guests to leave before we go on break again. One of our guests is terrified of the vacuum cleaner and so I haven't been able to run the small hand held one for about a week (I literally run it several times a day). I kinda can't wait to use it!

February 6, 2018

Food journey check in

So, it's been 3 months since changing up the way I eat and I still don't quite know what to call this new food journey of mine. I am buying as many vegan things as I can but I'm not vegan. I still consume seafood because I can't seem to part with Korean dishes that use fish oil as an ingredient. I am still looking for an alternative to fish oil and I am sure there is information out there online but I just haven't been diligent enough to find it.

I haven't consumed meat but I have still been consuming dairy products on the rarest of rare occasions. A couple of months ago, during that time of the month (you ladies know what I mean), I caved and ordered Papa John's because I have always craved junk food around that time of the month. In the past it was always Burger King (gross.. I know.. but hey.. my body was screaming Burger King!) but since I didn't want to eat meat, I settled on Papa John's. Well, I'm happy to say that I've been junk food free and I haven't even craved junk food during that time of the month like I used to. The only habit I can't seem to kick is my love for iced tea and soda, although I do have to say that my consumption for those beverages have decreased dramatically.

Despite all this, I am not sure about what the bigger positive effects has been in changing up my diet (although I guess if I think about it, the not craving junk food seems pretty big and is definitely a surprising change).

To be honest though, I feel like I have been more uncomfortable than great.

For one, I have frequent headaches.

And two, I sometimes have trouble with digestion.

I read up on it and it says that the body is going through a cleanse. I'm not quite sure if that's all that true because I am still consuming animal products in the form of fish. For some reason, relating headaches and such to the body detoxing seems really not fact based and just something to say to someone to make them believe that what is happening is actually a good thing (sorry! I don't mean to sound like I'm hatin!). I don't doubt that I am consuming healthier foods, but I guess I was looking for more concrete reasons why there are certain side effects I'm feeling (is it because I'm not getting enough protein, or not taking B12 vitamins or fiber, etc.).

But, this doesn't mean that I plan on going back to eating meat. 

A couple of nights ago, Yangkyu and I were watching a Korean TV show that is all about going on travel on the cheap. The first destination was Japan and then Bangkok. They were showcasing all this food, all this meat! And while Yangkyu was legit drooling, it made me a little slightly nauseous. 

I have tried to go meatless in the past and it was a complete failure. I was miserable. And I pondered every second, "Why am I living like this? Why am I torturing myself? I should eat what I want to eat!"

I am not sure what is different now. Perhaps I'm more stronger mentally. That I have more willpower. Or maybe I just have a stronger conviction to live closely to the values that are important to me. But I have to say that giving up on meat hasn't been hard. It hasn't been torturous. I don't feel like I'm missing our and I don't feel miserable. Sometimes when we drive by a Korean BBQ place near our home I'll say, "Oh that smells good!" But it pretty much ends there. 

I don't ask Yangkyu to make the same changes in the way he eats. When I pack his lunch and breakfast, I'll cook with eggs and meat. When we eat out, he is more than welcome to eat meat or dairy or anything he pleases. When we do take out at home, it's the same thing. He gets what he wants, and I get what I want. When we cook at home though we eat mostly what I prepare (although sometimes I will add chicken or eggs to his food). Yangkyu is ok with eating the way I eat for dinner on most nights because for one he respects my food decisions but he is also curious about food and is willing to try just about anything. 

There are a few things that I learned these past three months that have helped make this transition a positive one.

  • Eat what you love -- I have to be honest with you. I hate kale and I hate beans and I like my tofu a certain way. I know these are pretty big among vegan eaters but if you don't like it, don't force yourself to eat it and like it. Instead, find something you love. I really enjoy eating broccoli, cauliflower and avocado. So I make sure to keep them in my stock. 
  • Don't be so hard on yourself -- I am known to be strict when it comes to labeling. I can't stand activists who say they are for social justice and then choose to stay at hotels that are not unionized. I can't stand religious people who say they are religious and yet show off brand bags and live a lifestyle that is so completely opposite of how their religious icon would've lived. If you say you are something, then you live like that. Otherwise, you are not what you say you are. That was the mentality I had when I was switching over to my new diet. If I say I'm going to do something, then do it or don't do it at all. I was super tough on myself. While I do try my hardest 99% of the time there is that 1% when I do consume dairy products. Usually it's because I didn't plan my meal times well and found myself terribly hungry. When this happens, I give myself the ok. You don't want to starve yourself. You don't want to put unnecessary stress on yourself. So if it happens,  that's ok. Just do better next time (but also have the awareness that you can't always give yourself frequent passes. You still have to be serious.).
  • Don't be so hard on yourself, but do give yourself that hard boundary to never cross -- For me, it's meat. Whatever situation I may find myself in, I told myself that I will never ever consume meat. And aside from the day in December when I had jja jang myun after a full day of basically going hungry, I haven't had meat or meat based broth.
  • Plan well -- The times I find myself in a pinch is mainly when I haven't planned well. That is, I don't eat on time and find myself caught in-between running errands or being busy and I'll end up eating out and eating something meatless but not dairy free. If I stick to my meal times, eat mostly at home or do enough research to find eateries that cater to my needs, I don't find myself slipping up and cutting corners.
  • Don't force your partner/family to go on the journey with you if he/she doesn't want to but ask them to be supportive -- Like I mentioned above, I don't force Yangkyu to eat the way I eat. But he's a good sport in that he will eat anything that I prepare for him for dinner. But I will sometimes add meat and dairy to his food or if he wants it, he'll either ask or add it himself. On days when I don't make him breakfast and lunch to take to work, he'll eat out and eat whatever he wants. We've found a way to make this work for the both us because we both respect each other's choices and we're not jerks about it (no opinionated viewpoints, grade school level jokes or condescending remarks from either side).

I am not sure how and where this journey will take me. So far it's been a positive one (aside from the weird headaches and digestive issues). I'll be checking in again to let you all know where I am a few weeks from now.

Thanks for reading!

February 5, 2018

Dear time, you can slow down if you want to...

It's February.

Our house was cleaned from top to bottom several days ago. These deep cleans are so satisfying and soothing but it's also a bit harder now. I used to be able to get them done in one day but now it takes up to three days. Mostly it's the laundry and so this time around I decided not to have so many mats and blankets out. Those are the toughest to wash and dry for our old machines.

This past weekend we began to welcome our guests for the month. We are taking it a little easy in terms of the number of guests, but our work will take us until the 22nd before we go on another break to ready for March. 

When I look at time this way, in terms of Piri's Place scheduling, it flies. When we book long stays, I wonder how that time will pass, but when it actually comes, it goes by in a blink of an eye. I wish it would feel the same for our clients (although I do want them to enjoy their trip) who always send me email during their travels to let me know how much they miss their dog. Oh, how I know the feeling. One client recently let us know that they talked about their dogs to fellow travelers so much so that over dinner one night they asked them, "So did you hear from your dog?" That made me laugh.

We used up essential oils and soy wax I had left over to make lavender candles. I remember those oils. I had bought the kit for Piri because I heard that frankincense was good for dogs with cancer. Back then, I was willing to try anything and everything to make Piri feel comfortable and well... perhaps even beat the disease. Now, I have packed away the diffuser. I even thought about giving it away. I don't think I will have use for it any time soon. But with almost everything associated with Piri, I couldn't get myself to part with it.

I did however finally get rid of the old medicine that Piri and Bartles used to take. I held on to them for over a year with Piri's and over half a year with Bartles'. They don't particularly bring me good memories.. especially with Piri who had a hard time taking them on some days because he just didn't have an appetite. I finally did get the courage a couple of weekends ago and took them with me to Town and Country when we were going to pick up medication for Lady. Afterwards I stared out the window in the car. I don't know that I'm doing this but Yangkyu knows the look so well. He knows that I'm thinking back on a memory. He asked, "What are you thinking about? Piri? Bartles?" I answered yes.. and began to cry. I had worn make up that day too. 

Right now I have two sleeping pups next to me. They were eyeing me for a very long time wondering if I'll move. If I do, it's their signal to follow me in hopes to get a treat.

Our first February guest dog leaves today and we have the evening to enjoy before our next guest arrives tomorrow morning. Yangkyu and I always plan on doing something new to enjoy our free time but we always end up doing the same thing - either hanging out at the cafe reading or the Target, Homegoods, Michaels, World Market and Petsmart run. Unfortunately for Yangkyu, those stores are all lined up in a shopping strip near our home. 

Lately I have been into some random things - crunchy slime and soap carving videos on Instagram. So oddly satisfying to watch! Yesterday I got sucked into watching bullet journaling and hand lettering and wanted to give it a try myself. I decided to give it time and start by seeing if I'll stick to a routine of practicing handlettering first. I have always had terrible penmanship all my life so I don't have high hopes that I'll actually stick with this. But hopefully I will prove myself wrong.

January 23, 2018

Around here (3 Things)

1. More pictures are being taken with the Fujifilm x100T. I got this as a birthday/Christmas present few years ago when it first came out (before this version, there was the x100S, but now there is another upgraded version, the x100F). I had wanted this camera so much but when I actually got it, I couldn't get used to it. What was supposed to be my everyday camera, the camera to take out to outings when I didn't want to lug around the heavier and bulkier DSLR ended up sitting on the shelf patiently waiting for some game time. Well, it's finally getting some. And I decided to make use of the WiFi feature which makes importing photos to my phone easier (although sometimes I like to edit on my computer - I'm kinda old school that way). I was actually hinting to Yangkyu that I wanted another (another?!) camera - the Fuji X-A3 to use more on the fly but I'm kinda glad I didn't nag him to the ends of the earth. Right now the x100T fulfills a lot of roles that my Canon 7D can't. 

2. I'm decluttering. I usually wait until spring and then again at the end of fall to declutter but I'm itching to get back to more of that minimalist lifestyle we once had. I've gone through our closets, our spare closet that acts mostly as a storage and today I'll be going through our kitchen, laundry space and our downstairs coat closet, which also doubles as a very impractical storage space (while we love our home, the layout is pretty funky and there is a lot of wasted space with odd placements of doors and cabinets). I also have a list of things I'd like to replace in the kitchen in terms of plates, pots, kettles and utensils (ok - this has actually been on our list for more years than I'd like to admit - because the set we got for our wedding ended up being too heavy and so they just tip over if you stick your spoon inside a bowl - doh!). But I am also on a kind of a spending freeze (only buying things we absolutely need and also Lady gets a pass because well she's Lady and she's 14 and at that age you can do whatever the heck you want). And so I'll be keeping those things on our "list of things to get" for a while and will pick it up later on when and if I think I still need/want it.

3. We're taking advantage of the one month free trial on Hulu because I found out that Ranma 1/2 (!!) is available to stream. That was the series that introduced me to anime when I was a sophomore? or junior? in high school. I think it is probably the only series I can watch with an English language dubbing (the cast did a pretty good job!). It was so hard to get a hold of anime back in the day. It was always going to Tower Records and dropping $30 per video tape that only had two episodes and waiting a gazillion years for the new episodes to be imported to the US. Anyway, it's a little cheesy watching it now but it still makes me laugh. I remember doing my high school senior English class paper on Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of Ranma 1/2, but I can't recall exactly what my paper was about.. I think something along the lines of recurring themes in her work and her role in the industry as a female manga artist. 

What's going on in your neck of the woods?

January 16, 2018

Egg Substitute

Just a little check in with how my food journey has been progressing. 

Still meatless, still consuming little bits of dairy here and there, but mostly I've been pretty good.

While I don't eat dairy at home, there were still some store-bought products that contained eggs and butter.

From time to time, we like to get bakeries from a Korean pastry shop near our home and most likely they are made with non-vegan ingredients. We bought milk bread and I also had a vegetable croquette and twist donuts the other day but other than that, I think I've been choosing the vegan dairy route.

Another thing we like to do is make a variety of "jeon" - which people like to describe as Korean pancakes but I'm not sure if that's such a good comparison. The batter is prepared mainly with flour, eggs and water and you can add things depending on what kind of jeon you want. You can go with Asian chives or scallions, kimchi, seafood, shellfish or even meat, including beef or pork, or mixing the vegetable with your choice of either seasfood or meat. I can it can be pretty versatile. The egg plays a binding role and while I have read that certain fruits can act as an egg substitute, I found something else at the market instead.

The Neat Egg (also found on Amazon - don't worry, this isn't an affiliate link and I don't get paid to include links in my blog posts - if I do, it's always stated within the blog post).

The entire bag is equivalent to 18 eggs and all you do is just add water and mix and use it in recipes where egg is a binder. It's made from just two ingredients - chia seeds and garbanzo beans. 

So simple and we haven't had issues making our favorite types of jeon with it. And it tastes exactly how we like it.

A couple of days ago we made buchu jeon (buchu is Asian chives). Usually the Korean grocery sells these in a big bunch and so there is always leftovers. We like to take care of it buy splitting the leftover buchu in half and making buchu jeon with one bundle and buchu kimchi with the other.

Oh and jeon is paid with a soy sauce dip that you can mix with vinegar, sesame oil and I also like to add onions, scallions, green peppers, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes as well. 

Happy eating everyone.

What's been on your dish lately?

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