Vegan Eats

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Since I’m a couple of days into the month of veganism, I thought I’d share some of the food I’ve been eating lately. Eating out in Korea is wildly difficult as virtually everything comes with egg, meat, a seafood stock, a chicken sauce, etc. There aren’t juice bars around the city. The supermarket shelves aren’t stocked with varieties of hummus, vegan curries, coconut milk ice cream or faux cheese. So everything that I eat, I make myself, which is a bit of a challenge. (I’m not much in the kitchen).

Quick breakfast of 2 apples + mango juice.

Quick breakfast of 2 apples + mango juice.

This week, I’ve been loving on some (okay a lot of) carbs! I’ve been getting them in the form of fruit, pasta, rice, oats, and potatoes. Coming to Korea has taught me to respect the staples. I used to insist on eating something different for every meal every day. Variety is the spice of life no? But in Korea, lunch always consists of white rice, kimchi, and soup. Every day, white rice, kimchi, soup. I got used to expecting this combo, and it started to be weird when I didn’t have it for lunch. Eating out for dinner would often include, surprise, white rice and kimchi.  It’s been a year and a half, and I still love these foods.

Breakfast ice cream smoothie - 2 frozen banans + 1 ripe banana + vanilla and almond milk and frozen blueberries

Breakfast ice cream smoothie – 2 frozen banans + 1 ripe banana + vanilla and almond milk and frozen blueberries

Now I have no problem eating the same dinner two days in a row or even the same meal for lunch and dinner. Today for instance, my lunch is two vegan burritos leftover from dinner last night. Tonight’s dinner will likely be the remaining burritos, and I will happily eat them. A lot of my meals this week have been pasta dishes with veggies or potatoes with veggies or rice with veggies. I do eat a lot of fruit, especially in the mornings, and I make sure to get in some protein via beans or but butters. However, my main goal is to get in enough nutrients and calories. A day might look this:

Pasta + veggies (tomato, carrot, corn, seaweed, onion) tossed in olive oil and marmite for added saltiness and B vitamins

Pasta + veggies (tomato, carrot, corn, seaweed, onion) tossed in olive oil and marmite for added saltiness and B vitamins

Breakfast: 4 ripe bananas (If it’s yellow, I won’t eat it. I buy yellow bananas and let them sit for about 5 days.)

Snack: Apple with 2 tbsp of peanut butter

Lunch About 1.5 cups of pasta with veggies cooked in olive oil.

Snack: Fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, etc.)

Dinner: 2-3 veggie burritos (I use the flour fajita tortillas) made with rice, beans, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

I also make sure I stay hyrdated as usual by drinking 2-3 liters of water each day.

An Exercise Story

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Exercise. It’s something they say we should be doing for 30 minutes a day or 3 times a week or 5 times a week depending on who ‘they’ are. It’s also a word that used to always give me trouble spelling…  Anyway, yes, exercise.

Growing up, I was always pretty active. I’d run around and play with my friends outside, ride bikes, and go swimming. I was also active in team sports, playing softball and volleyball through high school.

It wasn’t until I got to college when I first set foot in a gym. I was like a lost child. There were so many machines I had no idea how to operate, free weights, treadmills, rowing machines, ellipticals, and bikes. I had no idea where to even begin. Working out and staying active never felt like a chore before. Suddenly, it began to feel that way, and I spent most of my time at school half halfheartedly trucking along on the elliptical for 45 minutes and trying to figure out the correct way to do tricep dips. It was kind of a bummer.

Senior year of college, I decided to try and take up a few exercise classes. I tried Pilates for a few weeks, but quickly realized I lacked the core strength to carry out any of the moves. I took yoga and boot camp as elective classes, and I did quite enjoy both. Yoga greatly improved my flexibility, and I don’t think I ever felt as sore or broke such a sweat before boot camp.

Then I moved Korea and had no idea how to even begin to look for a gym. I decided to bite the bullet and try running. I always hated running. It was boring, repetitive, and painful. It probably didn’t help that all of my former coaches used running as a form of punishment (I began associating running with something bad).

post half-marathon

post half-marathon

Anyway, I tried running, and it was (predictably) terrible. I think I was running a mile every few days at the beginning of 2013. Not much of a workout, but at least I was trying, right? Finally, a runner friend convinced me to sign up for a race as motivation, and starting in the summer, I ran with a purpose. It changed everything. Suddenly I was pushing myself, drawing out runs to make them longer. I was running farther and faster than I ever thought I would. I ran my first 5K. Then I ran my first 10K. And I was hooked. I could get behind this running thing.

At some point I foolishly thought I could take on a half marathon. I must have still been riding that runner’s high from the 10K. I should have realized that my body was still adjusting to running distances, and a half marathon was not only twice as long, but twice as hard on my body. Long story short, I undertrained. I completed the half marathon (in about 2 hours), and I felt great about it, but my body didn’t. I ended up developing tendinitis (or at least that’s what the Korean doctor said in broken English) and had to give up running for a few months while I went in for treatment.

High school volleyball. Please excuse the fake tan....

High school volleyball. Please excuse the fake tan….

At the beginning of 2014, just when I was about feeling ready to take up running, I got sick. I started to have problems with my thyroid, and was left feeling tired, weak, and sick for months. I spent a lot of time in bed and at the doctor,and I lost a lot of weight. I could actually feel my body weaken.

I started to feel significantly better around May, and started to take walks regularly. Then I introduced some light cardio. Eventually I felt good enough to try something more intense, and I would (very slowly) do Insanity workouts, although I never completed them at first. I just felt like my whole body needed to be worked, and it seemed like a decent option. After about 2 months, I was finally able to make my way through the easier ones.

Color Me Rad 5K. Fun to run, less fun to get clean after.

Color Me Rad 5K. Fun to run, less fun to get clean after.

About a month and a half ago, I started running again. It was hard. It felt like I had never run before, and it was kind of discouraging. A year ago, I was training for races, and here I couldn’t even do a few laps around a track. But, I stuck with it. I’m currently running about 2.5-3 miles about 3 times a week now and it feels good. I’m slowly getting back to where I was, and I think the most important thing is to listen to my body and understand what it can and can’t do. I’m hoping to run a 10K by the end of November, which will be exactly a year since I ran the half marathon. Let’s hope this race goes better.:)

A New Kind of Challenge

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Full disclosure: I’m not much of a meat eater.  I do love Italian smoked and cured meats. Especially in sandwich form. But honestly, I could easily do without. The reason I’ve never committed myself to a vegetarian lifestyle is because, well, I never wanted to limit myself or inconvenience anyone.

I don’t ever cook meat for myself, and I won’t go out of my way to order it when I’m out. However, I never wanted to be the person saying ‘No we can’t go out for burgers.’ or ‘Sorry, I can’t eat any of the chicken you prepared.’ Honestly, I don’t even really like chicken, but if someone has gone through the effort of cooking it, of course I’m going to eat it. And sure, there are times when I think “hmm I really would like a carnitas burrito“. I mean, I do enjoy meat from time to time, but it isn’t and has never been the be all end all for me.

This month is winding down with visits to some favorite (non vegan) spots. Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong Soup.

This month is winding down with visits to some favorite (non vegan) spots. Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong Soup.

Dairy is something else entirely. I don’t drink milk, but I love yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. This year, though, I’ve unintentionally reduced my dairy consumption simply because quality products are hard to come by.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of health issues this year, and I’m finally starting to feel strong again. At first, walking was a struggle. Then I started to introduce gentle cardio. Last month, I finally began running again, and I’m really pleased. I’m currently comfortable with running 2-3 miles each time. Is it where I thought I would be a year ago? No, but life throws hurdles at us and we overcome them and adjust.

Bountiful blueberry bingsu. No ice cream soon, but I find blending ripe frozen bananas with vanilla creates a delicious and easy alternative.

Bountiful blueberry bingsu. No ice cream soon, but I find blending ripe frozen bananas with vanilla creates a delicious and easy alternative.

So, in an effort to revamp my life and give myself a little health boost, I’m participating in an October Vegan Challenge with some friends. That means for the whole month I will be eating animal product free foods. Moreover, I will be trying to cook for myself creatively and healthfully.

As I’ve said before, I tend to eat how I feel. If I feel sick, I will eat poorly. I’m hoping that by improving my skills at cooking healthfully and quickly, I won’t ever feel the need to rely on pretzels and candy bars again when I’m ‘too sick’ to cook.

This challenge is about health and happiness. I'm still not strong enough to run races, but I was proudly supporting friends running in the 5K, 10K, half and full marathons. I was so inspired by everyone's dedication and the overall energy.

I’m still not strong enough to run races, but I was proudly supporting friends running in the 5K, 10K, half and full marathons. I was so inspired by everyone’s dedication and the overall energy.

If this challenge is something that interests you, feel free to join along for the whole month, a week, or a day. This challenge is about being cruelty free towards animals and also nourishing and revitalizing for the body. I’m really excited about it.

Orange Sky

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Sometimes it’s just a mellow music kind of a day. I purchased Alexi Murdoch’s album Time Without Consequence and have been listening to it all day. I especially love this song.

I live near a university, so these streets are usually filled to the brim.

I live near a university, so these streets are usually filled to the brim.

I feel like I’ve been listening to a lot of mellow music lately. Living in a crowded city can be overwhelming at times. In Korea, it’s normal for shops from cell phone stores to restaurants to blare really loud really stimulating music. Sometimes it’s funny (the amount of times I’ve heard unedited explicit hip hop songs in family restaurants is astounding). But other times it’s all just a bit …. much.

A relaxing Sunday stroll down the street accompanied by a melange of 5 different dubstep and kpop songs.

A relaxing Sunday stroll down the street accompanied by a melange of 5 different dubstep and kpop songs.

There’s always so much going on everywhere that it’s nice to just plug into my phone and listen to something calming. Dallas Green’s voice at the end of a very busy day is not the worst thing in the world. I do like the idea of filling a room with music, but living in a teensy apartment in a crowded area makes it hard to do so tactfully. I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate hearing Ed Sheeran’s new album as much as I would.

Headphones solve many of life's problems from sense assaulting streets to busy offices. This is probably my 16th pair this year.

Headphones solve many of life’s problems from sense assaulting streets to busy offices. This is probably my 16th pair this year.

So, for the time being, I listen to everything through headphones. Now if only I could keep a pair intact for longer than a week…

Island Life

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It’s Thursday! It’s also my first day at work this week thanks to the long holiday weekend. I spent four glorious days taking in as much sun as possible while staying on beautiful Jeju. It was a heavenly weekend, and I returned home feeling relaxed and genuinely happy.

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Hotel view. I love having balconies. Sitting in the fresh air and taking in the sunshine.

My contract finishes up in about 5 months, and I will be moving out of the country shortly after. My future, as it currently stands, is quite uncertain. I’ll be deciding where I want to live next, what I want to do, and all other sorts of decisions will be made. Everything is up in the air, and for some people that can be exhilarating, but it does make me feel nervous. I always like having a bit of direction even if I don’t have everything planned out. But right now, at this moment, everything depends on several different things. It’s a bit complicated, and it has caused me a bit of stress.

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So it’s nice to get away every once in a while. It’s nice to escape to an island and not worry about anything for a few days. I spent a lot of the time on the beach, and I suddenly remembered how much I love the sea. Feeling the sand, the sun, and the saltwater was invigorating, and it put a lot of my worries at ease. Yes, I will have some big decisions to make in the coming months, but it’s important for me to remember to enjoy the present as well. Autumn has started here on the peninsula, and it’s my favorite season. I plan on taking advantage of every warm day and cool night as I can. 

Top Five Beauty

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I said in my last post that I’ve been laying off the makeup while my skin cleared up. Well, it worked! My skin is finally back to normal, and I’ve started my usual makeup routine again. It’s a fairly simple process, and takes me less than 5 minutes to do in the morning.

While my routine is quick and easy, I do experiment with different brands and products. I like trying out different textures from creams to liquids to powders, and I generally switch things up every few months. Here are 5 of the products that I currently use.

 

IMG_1976Makeup Forever HD Foundation – I really like this liquid foundation, and this is the second bottle I’ve gone through. That’s saying a lot because I only use a small amount so a bottle will last me a long while. I don’t remember when I bought this foundation first. I remember buying one of the lipsticks and not really liking it and being surprised by how much I liked the foundation. It goes on really evenly, and since foundation is the product I use the most, that’s really important for me.

Bobbi Brown BB Cream – This BB Cream I threw into my basket on a whim. Living in Korea, I’ve always been tempted to try out BB Cream as it’s wildly popular here. However, I’ve been told most skincare and makeup products contain bleach and are advertised as ‘whitening’. While I’ve never confirmed this personally, it’s not really a chance I’d like to take. So, while I was in America, I grabbed a tube. I got this one in Dark, which is a few shades too dark for my skin. I planned on using it to darken other foundations because it is quite thick. During the summer, I like to mix the Makeup Forever foundation and the Bobbi Brown BB Cream to an appropriate shade as I usually get darker as the summer goes on. It’s worked out really well!

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse - This product is a kind of a blast from the past for me. I remember really liking this product in high school, but then it became ‘cooler’ to use more name brand cosmetics like MAC. When I was browsing through a Boots in Ireland, I saw this product and had to buy it. It’s really light, and I like how I can easily spread it across my face using my (clean!) fingers. Since the summer has ended and I really haven’t gotten incredibly tan, I can use this color during the fall and into the winter if I want.

Bare Minerals Warmth- This is a product that I use quite rarely. Usually if I’m going out at night, I’ll dust a small amount across my entire face. I just find it adds a little extra something. Way back in the day, I purchased an entire set of Bare Minerals makeup. I wanted to try out powders instead of liquid, and I remember liking the products. However, I do prefer using mousses or liquids over powders. It’s just … to light? Anyway, I really liked the way Warmth elevated the look, and so I keep buying it for special occasions .

Bare Minerals Mineral Veil – I really love this product! I always give myself a fine dusting after I apply foundation. Always start with a primer and end with a veil. It just adds a finishing touch. I find that if I use too much it makes me look .. shimmery, but I usually tend to just give it a single swish across my face. I think I go between Original and Illuminating, and I do like them both equally.

 

So these are my top 5 favorites currently for my face. My personal preference for makeup has always been simple. Bold colors on the eyes or lips have always made me feel less confident, and so I take great stock in finding simple products that I love.  

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Face

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When I left for vacation, I didn’t want to pack one of the bulky face washes that I have at home so I decided to just pick something up at one of the many pharmacies around Paris.  Once I settled in, I chose a promising looking shop, asked the woman behind the counter for a recommendation for a face cleanser for sensitive skin, and made a selection. I ended up with a La Roche-Posay facial cleanser. 

La Roche-Posay - taken from the official website

La Roche-Posay – it looks so harmless, and apparently has gotten great reviews

A few days into the vacation, I dropped my moisturizer onto the bathroom floor, and it shattered. I hightailed it to the nearest Sephora because the water and weather had completely dried out my skin and I definitely couldn’t go without. I asked for a moisturizer that was fragrance-free and acceptable for sensitive skin and left with a Dior Hydra Life moisturizer.

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Hydra Life – It works pretty well, but I’m not even sure why I bought it. Less expensive brands have always suited me well.

By the time I got to Ireland, my skin had looked the worst it has been in years, maybe even since early high school. My skin was dry, and my cheeks and jawline were covered in rough bumps. Desperately hoping the reaction was from the face cleanser and not the moisturizer (it cost me 52 euros!), I ran to the nearest Lush and bought the ever trustworthy Angels on Bare Skin.

Angels on Bare Skin - The holy grail of face wash. It always leaves my skin feeling fresh and soft.

Angels on Bare Skin – The holy grail of face wash. It always leaves my skin feeling fresh and soft.

Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been using the moisturizer sparingly in combination with the one I had at home which I believe is a L’Oreal. I’ve been using those crazy looking Etude House face masks as a way to inject extra moisture into my skin. And lastly, I’ve been trying to give my skin a break and have stopped wearing makeup to work for a few days.

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Face Masks – I think I’ve used Bamboo, Olive, and Pearl so far.

My skin has always been hit or miss. I go months without a blemish, but when I do get them, they last for weeks and weeks at a time, and often scar even if I don’t touch them. And the scars last forever. In fact, I have a few on my forehead from blemishes I had last winter! So I try to treat my skin well. I drink loads of water and get a lot of sleep. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugars I eat and I rarely eat fried foods (I just don’t generally like them). I also have to be mindful of the products I use because some will randomly throw my ski into a frenzy, and so my skin care routine rarely changes. Let me know if you have any go to skin care tips.

 

Back To Reality

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It’s certainly been a while! Usually when I go on a vacation, I lug around my laptop and use it only about three or four times. This vacation, however, I decided to pack lightly and unplug for a little while.There is something to be said when I manage to pack for a 2+ week vacation without using a full sized suitcase. Although before I go patting myself on the back for being a savvy traveler, full disclosure: I DID pack seven pairs of shoes. 

Douce France cher pays de mon enfance... I don't remember anymore of the song lyrics..

Douce France cher pays de mon enfance… I don’t remember anymore of the song lyrics..

What started out as planning for a trip to Vietnam changed suddenly to a trip to France and Ireland. It’s a long story for another day perhaps. While I was bummed for not making it to Vietnam this time around, I can’t say I was too upset with Plan B. I mean, Paris? Dublin? Yes and yes please.

My mama's luggage. I think she might have brought about 70lbs too much! She's a big 'just in case' packer.

My mama’s luggage. I think she might have brought about 70lbs too much! She’s a big ‘just in case’ packer.

The first leg of the journey was to Paris where I met up with my mom. We stayed in a hotel near Invalides, which is actually relatively close to where I stayed during my time doing study abroad. It was a really nice area. I arrived pretty late at night, tired after the 13+ hour flight (and a layover!). That of course didn’t stop me from wandering around to find myself a baguette. After months of a bread-less existence, I was in heaven. So crusty. So soft. So perfect.

Late night demi baguette.

         Late night demi baguette.

Although I had spent some time in Paris before, this was the first trip for both my mother and my boyfriend, so we spent a lot of time visiting the usual suspects. Eiffel Tower? Check. Pere Lachaise? Check. Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Catacombs? Check, check, check, and check. Paris is a sprawling city, but the metro system is surprisingly easy to navigate. And while it does take a lot of time to get to and get into (hello lines!) many of these places, I did manage to take time to visit some of my favorite corners of the city that I loved when I was a student. The little park near my old apartment, the old church we visited during our art and architecture class, these were the places I knew I wanted to share with my loved ones.

Taken the day my mom arrived. We spent a lot of time walking around to beat the jetlag.

Taken the day my mom arrived. We spent a lot of time walking around to beat the jetlag.

Anyway, I’m feeling shockingly well considering I endured a 1.5 hour flight, a 4 hour layover, an 11 hour flight, a 3 hour train ride and a rather large time difference. Whenever I know there’s going to be a good chance of jetlag, I try to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine like the plague. If I’m arriving at night, I stay awake during the plane ride and power through the last few hours before I go to sleep. If I’m arriving in the morning, I try and sleep as much as I can on the plane and stay awake through the day. I do allow myself a short nap if I’m really struggling, but anything more than an hour tends to cause me to sleep poorly and wake up at 4am the next morning. Traveling across time zones is really difficult, but if I follow these tips, I usually feel fine the next day.

A little treat yo self for myself. Ladurée macarons. A bit pricey, but totally worth it.

A little treat yo self for myself. Ladurée macarons. A bit pricey, but totally worth it. You better believe I ate all of these that day.

I love learning new travel tips as they always make the journey much easier, so if you have any travel advice, please share it with me!

All I need in Paris at mealtime is some bread and some cheese. All day. Every day.

All I need in Paris at mealtime is some bread and some cheese. All day. Every day.

This City

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When I first moved to this country, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by my surroundings. There were so many sounds, smells, people, and bright lights that it made Manhattan seem like a quiet retreat. Over time, I’ve gotten used to the crowds, the neon, the loud music, and did I mention the crowds? From time to time though, I’ll stop and realize Wow this country is incredible. There’s never a shortage of things to do at literally any hour of the day (or night). This is what I got up to this weekend.

Prime real estate for people watching.

Prime real estate for people watching.

Monopoly is still fun! I also managed to put a hotel on Park Place and Boardwalk for the first time ever.

Monopoly is still fun! I also managed to put a hotel on Park Place and Boardwalk for the first time ever.

 

I love coffee shops. They’re usually open 24/7, and are multi-level. That’s 3 floors of coffee shop to kick back and relax in. Sometimes, there are also books to read, computers to use, or board games. This is why everyone I know is addicted to Settlers of Catan. I’m more of a Clue girl myself. This weekend, though, we played an intense game of Monopoly. Of course, there was no winner because in true Monopoly style, we gave up before the end.

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Underground City

Underground malls are pretty interesting. Korea is super tiny with a really large population. Since 70% of the country is made up of mountains, you can either build up or down. Koreans do both. There’s basically everything down there including clothes, shoes, food, cameras, jewelry, cell phones, souvenirs, and nail salons. I snapped this photo on my way to the subway. Yes, this is the mall located in the subway station. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.

A Work In Progress

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If I had to take a guess, I would say most people would describe themselves as “a work in progress”. I’m no different. While I like to believe I’m a fairly well adjusted person, there are a few things that are filed under my “needs improvement” list. “Make more lists” is also something I need to work on as I’m always forgetting things. So without further ado, here is a list of a few things I do that I probably shouldn’t..

  • I keep my dressers wildly disorganized.
  • I eat out way more often than I should.
  • I don’t have a go-to hair care routine.
  • Or a skin care routine.
  • I go to work with messy bed head more often than not.
  • I spend way too many working hours on Buzzfeed.
  • I’m constantly misplacing everything.
  • Big things (getting my purse stolen) don’t seem to bother me as much as the little things (forgetting to buy milk) which drive me mad.
  • I don’t take nearly enough photos.

At work - no makeup and some serious bed head. I've claimed messy hair as my 'thing', mostly out of laziness.

At work – no makeup and some serious bed head. I’ve claimed messy hair as my ‘thing’, mostly out of laziness.

Styled hair, but still no makeup. Baby steps, right?

Styled hair, but still no makeup. Baby steps, right?

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