Sunday, 23 March 2014

MEAL PEEK: Fresh Salad meets Creamy Spinach Pasta

It is the end of the semester and I have only a few days left to finish my essays. Stress levels and tension are rising and the need for easy but satisyfing dishes is at its' peak. 
So, what better way is there to satisfy these needs than pasta and a big bowl of healthy salad?

Both dishes are easy to prepare, but give you the energy and comfort your brain and body need during stressful times. The pasta sauce is a wonderful symbiosis of spinach and mushrooms. Add some cream, salt pepper and garlic and you are good to go! If you want to go extra fancy add a bit of white wine.

Yummy! Mushrooms + spinach + pasta = Perfection!
 Just a piece of advice: Heat the mushrooms with butter instead of oil. I find that it gives them a more creamy, rich taste.

The salad is just your standard green salad with tomatoes, but this time I decided to give it a little bit of extra crunch by adding self made crôutons, which was maybe the best idea I've had for a long time.  Cut one or two slices of old bread into pieces and fry them in a pan with some oil until they get golden brown. Add some salt and use them to top off your salad.
It gives the salad an interesting warm crunch and makes it more filling.

As I have already stressed a couple of times I am not a great cook, so I do not think it is necessary to really post a lot of recipes of mine, but maybe these little glimpses into my daily "food-life" are still inspirational and useful for some of you.

And in general I don't think that you can ever go wrong with a bit of food porn.

Before I forget it: If you want to try out something else than your regular salad, try out this salasa recipe from "Bite these goodies":

 I made this salsa for work and everyone was quite impressed. It tastes very fresh and summery. You can also use this salsa to top off baguette as a nice alternative for bruschetta.

P.s. Once I am done with my work for university and my mind is less occupied I will tackle my guide for Seoul, but at the moment I simply can not find the time to write everything down.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

I kissed a guy - and did not expect it

I kissed a guy.

Well, actually he was the one who kissed me, but that is not the most important thing. The thing is that I shared my first kiss in about one and a half years with a complete stranger.

Some of you might think:
"And now what? You are a grown up human being. There is nothing wrong with having a bit of fun once in a while." 

And I could not agree more with you. In fact the whole night was too much fun to declare it as a mistake, but let me explain why this feels so strange to me. So, let's jump back in time:

It is a Friday night in the Autumn of 2012. I am attending the birthday party of a friend of mine at a club he had rented for the night. The whole atmosphere is very relaxed, but I am a little bit tense. I had my wisdom teeth  extracted a few days before and my cheeks were still a bit chubby. We all had a lot of fun, mainly because it was like a meet-up with a lot of friends I had spent my summer in Korea with. Among them was another friend of mine. During our time in Korea there had been some kind of constant tension between us.
Nothing sexual, but the general feeling of attraction. There had been a few of these moments, when if life was a film, everyone would have expected us to kiss, but nothing happened.

However on that night we kissed. Most of our friends had already gone home, but we were still there.
And then there was this song: "Something about us" by Daft Punk.
Both of us love Daft Punk and this song in particular, so when they played it it just felt so natural to kiss.
At that moment it felt right and it was a good kiss. I did not even worry about my chubby cheeks, which had been bothering me the entire evening. However when we separated at the train station, we just shared a hug and I left. Nothing more. Just a hug.


Because I was afraid. Every time someone gets as near to me as that I get scared. I am scared of relationships and I am scared of actually belonging to someone. 

Since then our contact had been rather lose, but recently we started seeing each other again, even dancing together at another party and having fun, but nothing major. He never asked any questions about why I backed off so suddenly.

Let's return to 2014:

The last time I saw him was before my trip to Korea this March. We watched a few movies at his apartment. I cooked. We listened to Daft Punk - everything was fine, but then there was this farewell-hug. Somehow it felt different. It was longer than a regular hug, more intimate and warm and then there was this strange, unsure look at the end.
I left with the feeling of uneasiness like something should have happened.

To sum this kind of backstory up:
Until my trip to Korea in March 2014 I hadn't kissed a guy in a long time, but there was anticipation lingering in the air. 

So, finally we get to the crucial part of my story:
That night in Seoul when I lost my first kiss in one and a half years.

Right across the street from our hostel they opened up a pub which is a collaboration with the hostel we stayed at. That meant free beer for guests from the hostel. We planned to stay for maybe two hours, drink our beers and leave.
It was a Friday night and like most Friday nights nothing went according to our plans. 
We got in contact with a few guys from the US. We talked and shared some drinks. Again everything was quite relaxed and fun. However one of them seemed to have "chosen" me as his point of interest for this evening. He was tall and not really my type, but still handsome I think. We had a good talk about everything and nothing. Around midnight they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Thursday Party, a bar mainly frequented by foreigners. We joined them, because it had been such a good night so far.

Long story short: we danced and finally we kissed. The kiss itself was alright. A friend of mine was having fun with one of the other guys, but I already felt questions and doubts creeping up inside of me:

Why did he chose me? 
What the hell am I doing? 
I am so horrible at dancing with a guy!
Fuck, it's the first time in almost two years! What is even happening??

At about four in the morning we left them and returned to the hostel. We were kind of euphoric, but panicky at the same time. After all we shared our hostel with them - awkwardness guaranteed. She told me that her "partner" had tried to talk her into having sex with him. It is something the guy I danced with did not talk about. So at least he was quite decent.
The next day he left a note on our door with his e-mail-adress and the words:
"Stay in contact."

I don't know where this note is at the moment. I think my friend got rid of it. I did not even talk to him again, even though we occasionally saw each other.
I was shocked. I mean, I expected nothing from this evening. I had worn my The Big Lebowski T-Shirt, flats and had almost no make-up on, but he was interested in me nevertheless. Why?

What about all these nights going out all dolled up and nobody cared? Well, honestly I am never really "dolled up" when I go out, but I am a girl after all and like to look at least a little bit prettier than usual. Maybe my "expressive" way of dancing which puts men off. I am really not a sexy dancer, but this is getting a bit off topic.

It was so awkward that my first kiss after such a long time was not with the person I had originally expected. I did not expect to share it with my former crush - who literally crushed me on New Year's Eve and I certainly did not expect to share it with a stranger. I do not regret it, but it made me realize who I actually want to kiss.

Should I try it? Should I finally give it a go? 
Or should I leave everything the way it is?

Friday, 14 March 2014

Coming home

Before I leave my apartment to go on holiday, I usually like to give everything a very thorough clean up.
I take out the trash and throw or give away foods which will most likely expire during my absence.
I clean the bathroom and my little kitchen.
I put away all of my uni stuff, which always dominates a major area of my livingroom at the end of the semester.
And I try to make sure that nothing unnecessary lies around the apartment.

It is not one of my favourite activities, but I love that feeling, when you come home after a long time and everything is clean and welcoming.
This time, I hace to admit, I was not very thorough. I failed to throw away my cut flowers. So they greeted my together with my withered basil in a rather depressing way.And when I looked into the kitchen, there were some empty packages, but still, it felt amazing to be back home.

I arrived in Germany on the 11. of  March after a long, exhausting flight. The air on the plane was extremly dry, which is why my right contact lens dried out. I had to throw it away and transfer in Paris basically half blind (my glasses were in my suitcase). Also, I had been a little bit ill during the last days in Korea, which did not make this whole procedure easier.

However all of this was instantly forgotten when I saw my parents at the airport.
It was the day after my birthday and to my surprise my dad was there as well. I had expected my mum and stepdad to pick me up, but I was so glad to see my father as well. The last time I had seen him was on my grandma's funeral.

So, I spent the past two days at my parents' house, catching up on some family time, enjoying my mum's wonderful meals. She had even prepared a cake for me because of my birthday. And then there were of course our little pugs. I love it how they wiggle their little tails and how they run around me whenever I come home. No matter what might have happened before, this always makes me happy in the blink of an eye!

Even our little gentleman Paul (one of our cats) decided to join me in bed every morning to cuddle and relax together, a thing he hadn't done in quite a while. 

There were many little things that made me very grateful and happy to be back at home, even though I already miss Korea and travelling in general.

Today I finally had to return to Bonn, because there is still some university related work waiting for me. Being back in my little "fortress of safety" feels amazing, because at times I really missed having some me time. Travelling with friends is always fun, but of course I never really had the chance to be just by myself. Even at night, when I watched my youtube videos, there were always people around me.

During the next days I will try to recapitulate my journey and write my little "guide" for you.

Until then stay tuned and stay safe!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Intro to Korea

Our little escape to Seoul is now half way over and it feels so good to be back. Many things have changed since my visit in 2012. A lot of the places we went to are now closed, new shops and cafés opened instead. Everythings looks quite grey and a bit dull, because there hasn't been a lot of rain recently.
And then there is this horrible smog coming all the way from China. But still, it feels good to wander through the streets of Hongdae again - crowded and loud as ever, but also lively and full of interesting things. I have already made some serious beauty related shopping, because Korean skincare is just the best! 

Climbing up the stairs to the rock carving of a Buddha at Bomunsa

Of course there has been some amazing feasting going on. Samgyeopsal and Galbi might be one of our favourites. It is nice to sit around the little grill on the table watching the meat and having some kind of a "indoor barbecue experience" together.

But still, it is always a little bit weird whenever we go out to eat. Most Koreans use this kind of opportunity to get together and talk. The food seems to be less important. It just creates an occasion to meet up. So they usually spend a lot of time at one place. We, on the other side, go out with this enomous longing for food on our minds. Hence, we sit there for maybe half an our in almost complete silence ans enjoy our meal. There is this occassional exchange of glances expressing utter happiness,but that's it. We might be the last ones to arrive, but we are certainly the first ones to leave!

A beautiful looking, but horribly tasting tea... well, there have to be a few mishaps, I guess
Tea and cheesecake... what else? :)

Today, we had the most amazing experience so far. We went to the Bukhansan National Park, which is quite close to Seoul, to hike. The Koreans can be categorized as a Nation of passionate hikers and when they go hiking, they do it fo real! Colourful hiking equipment and shoes are a staple for them. We had just our trainers and old backpacks. They must have thought we were crazy. Maybe we were, but it was damn worth it! On our way to the peak of Dobongsan (725m), we did not actually believe that we would end up there, but well, we did. The last few meters were horrible, but at the top you are rewarded with a wonderful view over the city of Seoul.

The beautiful view from the top of Dobongsan over Seoul

On our route was another peak and because we were still pumped from our first one, we went for it. Well, until we were almost there and the last bit was just to hard on us. So we made our way back to safety and - of course - food.

The view from the other side of the peak

What a glorious day!

Not what we ate today, but still an amazing Sukiyaki

Once I am back at home I will write down a collection about my favourite places inside and outside of Seoul, because what I really love about Korea is the fact, that it is so versatile. On the one hand you have a lot of mountains and the sea. There are big, modern cities like Busan and Seoul, pulsating and always evolving. But you also get to experience a lot of traditional aspects. 

Now there are five days left, which we intend to use wisely. Stay safe everyone and see you at home!