Friday, May 31, 2013

Paper Lanterns of Korea

Yay, Korea photos at last. There were so many pretty and interesting things we saw and took pictures of (I already shared the flowers here), some of them more exotic and new than others. Several people I shared my photo album with and who have not been in any Far Eastern country before were really impressed by my pictures of temples. To be honest, they weren't such a novelty for me as they reminded me of Japanese ones. Had this been my first exposure to this type of architecture, I definitely would have been less blasé, but of course they were still very impressive. One of the things I really loved and had not seen in this form or quantity before were paper lanters put up for the celebrations of Buddha's Birthday. In addition to traditionally (well, for me anyway) shaped lanterns there were others in the shape of animals of the Chinese zodiac, etc. On our domestic flight from Jeju island to Seoul I read in the magazine of Korean Air that this traditional art of paper-lantern-making was only revived quite recently.
Here are some photos to give you an idea. Pretty, eh?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday Delights...

...courtesy of a Shopbop delivery. New (dramatically reduced) neon neoprene kindle case from Marc Jacobs that is just perfect for the beach plus the bracelet I am wearing and...some other goodies, one of which is a present for the Empress, so not pictured because she is known to stalk me and my...erm...exciting life here. I also have a major crush on my dainty infinity ring that I bought "offline" from a little shop in Vienna. Every time I take a close-up of my hands I only remember when I see the picture that it would have been a good idea to generously apply lotion before so as not to appear like a 90-year-old toad. Pretend not to notice, ok?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Obscenity

I hadn't baked for a while and really missed it. There was one recipe I had mentally bookmarked, ever since Anne posted a picture on Instagram. When she shared the recipe on the blog a little later, I actually bookmarked it and today finally baked it. The name, slutty brownies, was as intriguing as the picture. I pretty much stuck to the recipe, apart from the fact that I used less sugar and cocoa (90 g) and also only 100g of chocolate chips. I'm taking it to the office tomorrow and am hoping that my usual guinea pigs will be pleased. These brownies are of course extremely rich and it is recommended to eat them in small doses if you don't want to fall into a sugar coma instantly. So, here's some foodporn:
Slutty indeed...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Well, Hello!

When I returned to my desk after a video conference in another room, I found a leeeetel parcel waiting on my chair:
I quickly racked my brain to try and remember if I had ordered a wardrobe or...I don't know...husband, judging from the size of it. However, when I saw it was from Amazon and lifted it, I realised it could only be the bag I told you about in the previous post. Yay!
Indeed it was:
I am very happy (or "cheppi" as I like to say ever since being exposed a lot to Balkan accents) with my purchase. My work computer (MacBook Air) fits into it very nicely, it is lightweight and I love the detachable inner bag:
By the way, I was still being remarketed for it yesterday. One is enough, though.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Offline Marketing Victim...

Yesterday, I was trying to drown out the horrible building noise with my YouTube playlist and after I had enough of music, I watched a haul video. As you do. At work. Whatevz. I took a double-take when I saw the amazon ad next to the video I was watching. I had obviously been remarketed excellently, because this was the very bag I had deliberated over the day before. Eventually, I ordered it in the other colour (seen here), even though I had been leaning towards this one for its "summery-ness". Why-oh-why did I even look at this bag, which was not really my predatory pattern, being by (in my book at least) frumpy brand Otto Kern and synthetic. Well, a colleague who was visiting from another office on Tuesday happened to dump the bag in the colour combination I ended up ordering next to my desk. It immediately caught my eye and I asked her where she got it from and if I could lift and inspect it. It passed my test and I was happy to find out it was from the label's current collection and easily available online. cut a long story short, somebody got a new bag.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Japanese Cravings: Satisfied!

Yes, I know I promised you more Korea pics. However, my bank holiday weekend was rather action-packed (a wedding on Saturday, inaugurating outdoor swimming season on Sunday, attending a concert in Salzburg last night and taking the early train back to Vienna this morning) and selecting and editing photos takes time. In the meantime, let me share my current obsession that also was sparked off in Korea. 
You might know that I have a thing for certain Japanese food, for umeboshi onigiri and all things containing matcha in particular. I actually have really intense cravings for these things and if I was allowed to only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would definitely be umeboshi onigiri, no joke. The combination of the "bland" rice with sour umeboshi and crisp seaweed is the perfect marriage of taste and textures in my book. I realise that umbeboshi are an acquired taste and only appeal to people who love sour/acidic food as much as I do. As a kid, I was addicted to unripe apples and plums...need I say more? I'm aware that it sounds rather pretentious to claim to love an "exotic" dish best of all - a bit like those annoying people who say they dream in a foreign language after two weeks of living abroad - but that just happens to be the way it is. My second favourite combo, if I were allowed two meals would be a pumpkinseed roll filled with goat cheese and rocket leaves. Drool! Back to my Japanese cravings. Korea is apparently famous for seasoned toasted seaweed and I picked up a sixpack (sharing with my cousin) in duty free at Incheon airport when we flew back to Frankfurt. This purchase, together with my disappointment in not finding umeboshi onigiri in Korea made me stop by the Japanese supermarket in Vienna and stock up on my favourite pickled fruit. On Saturday, I finally had enough time to plug in my rice cooker and make rice the proper Japanese way, following these instructions. It really is worth it if you value perfectly cooked rice and have some time to spare. Then I just casually made a "sushi roll", not caring whether it looked perfect or pretty - it was about the taste, rather than the looks:

You get the idea. If you feel inspired, make sure to wet your fingers in vinegar-water (I use rice vinegar, but a squirt of any other vinegar with minimal flavour will do, too) before handling the rice as it will be very sticky. If you don't eat the rolls or onigiri right away, don't add the seaweed yet as it will get soft immediately and lose its nice crispiness.
My other craving was for the red bean green tea frappuccino I had at Starbucks in Korea. Mmmmhmmmm! Unfotunately, any red bean combos are only available at Starbucks in Far East Asia. I decided to recreate that goodness and while I was shopping for the umeboshi, picked up some sweetened red beans at the Japanese supermarket. So these are all the ingredients I used, soy milk, agave syrup, matcha powder and red bean paste:

I mixed a level tablespoon of matcha with a glass of soy milk as well as a tablespoon of the syrup in my blender, then poured it into my super-duper geeky transparent Starbucks tumbler. I then added quite a bit of crushed ice and topped it with red bean paste (about 1.5 tablespoons)
Actually, I'd rather have the beans, than a paste and will try to find that at the Japanese supermarket next time. This stuff tastes nice and is quite cheap, but doesn't look like the real thing. I know, I'm a perfectionist when it comes to food presentation... Speaking of which, this photo doesn't do the deliciousness justice, but trust me, my homemade frappuccino was very delicious: 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Floral Discovery

Last spring in Japan, we got lucky and saw cherry blossoms in full bloom almost everywhere. On my recent vacation in Korea, we were a) too late for cherry blossoms and b) there aren't that many Japanese cherries to see there in the first place (or so the Korean guide in the "secret garden" in Seoul told an inquiring tourist). However, there was this pretty flower that seemed to stalk us everywhere we went:
It took me some time to find out what it was. Basically, it is a type of azalea, commonly called "Korean azalea". I loved the bright pink variety best.

Monday, May 13, 2013


In case you hadn't guessed, the subject of this post means "hello" in Korean. It is the only word I actually learned on my trip, having heard it several times a day. If you've been keeping an eye on my Instagram widget in the sidebar (or even better, are following me there @wastingmytalent) you already know that I had a great, great time. I've already chopped my millions of pics to a best-of album containing "only" 250 photos and will also upload some pictures of the beauty of South Korea here. Until then, it's easier to go ahead and share a best of of my retail exploits as usual.
As you might or might not know, Korea is THE mekka for all things cosmetic. The BB and CC cream phenomenon originated there and every other shop seems to sell sheet masks. Despite über cutesy packaging, all makeup is really good quality as well and I bought quite a bit of stuff:
In my defense, half of it is gifts for equally cosmetic-obsessed friends. Look at all the trial-sized goodies I got! The bear brooch was not a gift,  but just photobombed...
Nailpolish was particularly tempting (can you at least pretend to be surprised?) and again is really good quality. I'm wearing the neon orange-y one on the right today and it applied like a dream. I managed to get my travel companion hooked on beauty blogs and YT channels while there and judging from the amount of time she spent bent over her iPhone, frantically searching for that Holy Grail deep red lipstick, I seem to have created a monster...
Here are some more nice things I bought as souvenirs. I'm actually not keeping any of these cute silk pouches for myself:

Regarding clothes, I will say one thing: there's Uniqlo in Korea. Gasp. If you've followed this blog for some time, you know about my Uniqlo obsession. Here's a selection of my haul (I did not include basics such as a white shirt or black cardigan in the picture as they look a bit underwhelming when photographed). I love the polka-dotted t-shirt by Lulu Guinness for Uniqlo, the grey jersey blazer and super-cosy cotton hoodie (from another collaboration with a Danish label whose name I have forgotten). The t-shirt with the bear is from Teenie Weenie, a brand I had never heard of before. I wanted to buy a pair of white Converse chucks from the super lightweight line in Las Vegas, but they didn't have my size. In Korea, I saw this cute neonish pink/orange one and liked it better. Converse were also considerably cheaper than in Europe so I pounced. The little tote bag with the green stripe is from Korean brand 8ight Seconds. Regarding fashion, tops with navy stripes seem to be en vogue in Korea right now and we often saw groups of friends or couples in stripey "uniforms"
I also bought a super huge and super cheap scarf with some of my favourite colours:
I had actually planned to buy a cheap suitcase for the return flight (as a "frequent traveller" with Lufthansa, I would have been entitled to a second one) and to buy more groceries as well, but we couldn't find any such cheapo luggage and I didn't want to fork out a lot. Well, thanks to my tried-and-tested method of dumping some old clothes along the line, I managed to fly back with less than 20 kgs of checked-in luggage, despite bringing way too many clothes and shoes as usual. Some things never change...
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