Kansai Trip 2015

Incheon Airport

For my 30th birthday, I decided on a trip to Osaka and Kyoto. It all started with my boss and I talking about visiting Japan, with her wanting to go to Universal Studios Japan, and me wanting to go to Tokyo. However, I’d no idea USJ was in Osaka, but once I knew that, I figured visiting Osaka and Kyoto would be a good opportunity and it’d satisfy the Hakuouki/Shinsengumi fan in me, haha! My boss left most of the planning to me, and after much researching, our itinerary consisted of:

January 16: Arrive in Osaka and explore Universal City Walk.
January 17: Go to Kyoto to check out Nishi Hongang-ji, Nishiki Market, Shosei-en Garden, and Pontocho.
January 18: Go to USJ, Animate Tennoji, and Namba area.
January 19: Fly back home.

That was our basic itinerary. The following below was what really happened :D

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My Favourite Things: December 2014

My Favourite Things

I’ve decided to do this “My Favourite Things”, a monthly meme that focuses on what I’ve been obsessed with for the past four weeks. This meme is hosted by Raisa and Eirene.

Kindle Paperwhite and Coffee

For the past month or so, I’ve been obsessed with reading The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit fanfics on my first generation Kindle Paperwhite. These are epically long fics (majority of them are 100,000+ words long), and they are addicting. Super addicting. I’ve stayed up until 3:00am one day reading a fic I just couldn’t put down. Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins are the two culprits who wouldn’t leave me alone. I don’t know what it is about these two, but they need to shut up, haha! Seriously, though, fanfics own me. And there is nothing better than getting in my cosy bed after a long day of work with a cup of coffee while I escape into the wonderful world of Middle-earth with drama, humour, and angst through well-written fanfics by fans like me.

Speaking of coffee, I also discovered coffee I actually LIKE that’s not espresso-based. I got my dad a Keurig machine for his birthday in August. Since then, he and I’ve been trying out different K-Cups brands to see which are good. I discovered that my favourite is the Green Mountain Blueberry Coffee and Newman’s Own Special Blend. The latter is really great in that it’s so flavourful to where I can drink it without adding any sweetener. I’ve got other flavour/brand to kill, but once they are gone, I’m only going to buy these two.

And that’s my two-cents for this meme! Hopefully I’ll be able to do this regularly, so I hope to see you guys next month for the January edition!

Slow Cooker Experience

A couple of years ago, I nagged my dad for a slow cooker. It took me a while to convince him to get us one because he didn’t think it’d be a useful appliance. However, I wore him down, telling him that this is something I could utilise, saying that I wanted to cook more, but it’s hard to do so when I’ve got an evil split shift which really means working twelve-hour straight. So he got us one, and I used it twice since then to make beef stew.

Beef Stew

This was my first attempt. This attempt was a major learning experience for me. I kept envisioning my first attempt ending up with stew exploding all over the countertop, and I was even alarmed when it started “spitting” at me, but I ended that by placing a heavy coffee mug to keep the lid on tight. Regardless, the stew turned out well. This one was more savory and more clearer because I added too much liquid and I used Korean daikon because turnips were nowhere near me. For seasonings I used thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and coarsely ground black pepper. This was a hit with my parents and me.

Beef Stew

Couple of days ago, I made the beef stew again, but I changed things up. Instead of Korean daikon, I substituted it with sweet potatoes. For the seasoning, I added a bit of rosemary and bay leaf. This stew turned out to be much sweeter — I blame the sweet potatoes — but it was still good. So much better than my first attempt! Just, nom.

Now, though, I need to branch out and try other recipes in the slow cooker. Never mind that I like stew and I like how it’s so easy to throw it in and let it cook for hours. Maybe I’ll try chili next time . . . Anyway, if you guys have a favourite slow cooker recipe, point me in that direction! I never say no to good recipes :D

Veterans Day Weekend

I was able to get a bit of a reprieve this Veterans Day by taking Monday off, thus giving me a four-day weekend. I’ve enjoyed this much needed break that was full of many good things and a couple not-so-good things :) Here’s my adventure!

Iced Latte at Chansbros

My weekend started with me going to exchange some money and then stopping by the new branch of Chansbros. Chansbros #1 is my favourite coffee shop, but I found out Chansbros #2 opened, so I finally checked it out. The coffee is different here (but still good!), there are more selection of drinks here, and it gives a great view of the Itaewon’s entrance . . . all in all, it’s nice place, but I still prefer Chansbros #1! I much prefer their iced latte over the new place’s.

Butter Chicken and Vegetable Biryani from Taj Palace

Later I utilised Ynot Takeout to order some butter chicken and vegetable biryani from Taj Palace in Itaewon. This was the first time I used Ynot Takeout, and I’m glad I did. Normally, I wouldn’t want to pay an extra 4,000 won ($4 USD) delivery fee, but work had got me to be so mentally and physically drained, that I decided to use them this once. My food arrived within 30 minutes, and it was all warm and delicious! I’ve had Taj Palace before, but it’s been years since I’ve eaten there. I’m glad their quality hasn’t shrank since! Their butter chicken was one of the best ones I’ve had since Tiger Masala had closed. All the other ones I’ve tried in various Indian restaurant tasted nothing like this. Plus, the portion was huge! It was enough to last me four meals. :D

Sangdangsan Fortress Sangdangsan Fortress Sangdangsan Fortress Sangdangsan Fortress

I went down to Cheongju on Saturday to visit a friend. We went to Sangdangsan Fortress, and it was an amazing trip. We didn’t walk around the entire fortress — for one, I was wearing the wrong pair of shoes! — but what we did view was amazing. The autumn foliage was gorgeous, it was fascinating to see a fortress that was intact, and we even saw squirrels! I was even momentarily struck with a vivid scene where I imagined to be a warrior in the 1600s, standing in front of the fortress, and watch an arrow come straight at me from one of the archer’s holes. This is a place I’d like to come back again and walk around the entire fortress. Just gotta remind myself to wear the right shoes! All in all, I had a great time in Cheongju, but coming back to Seoul, I encountered traffic jam hell on the expressway. I was not pleased that my 1.5-hour ride turned into a 3-hour one! I swear, Gyeongbu Expressway HATES me.

Chicken Avocado Panini and Iced Vanilla Latte at Kafe Nordic

Sunday found me going back to Kafe Nordic, one of the other cafes I like in Itaewon/Hannam area. There, I bought me an iced vanilla latte, and I tried their chicken avocado panini meal. The panini wasn’t bad — I really liked the bread and the cheese, but the flavouring of the chicken and avocado was bland. Not a meal I’d get again, but I still like their coffee and their cosy cafe!

Then I went to my hair salon and got my fringe trimmed and had them chop off about 3-4 inches of my hair. The bottoms were so damaged and kept getting tangled, so I knew it was time to cut my foxtail off. The foxtail being the bleached tips from when I dyed them blue/purple.

Curries and Bread at Taj Mahal in Ansan

I went back to Ansan on Monday. I met my friend whom I went there with last time, and this time we decided to try a South Asian restaurant. We decided to try Taj Mahal, a Pakistani/Indian/Nepalese/etcetera restaurant. We got the chicken curry, mutton palak, roti, paratha, and mango lassi (which isn’t pictured), all for 24,000 won ($24 USD). This meal was so much better than our Indonesian restaurant experience from the previous visit. The chicken curry was different, yet tasty, but I was sore that they didn’t have makhani! There are quite a number of other South Asian restaurant there, so we’ll try those next time.

And that’s pretty much it! Tuesday (today) is my bum day, so I’m just relaxing at home. I hope everyone else had a good weekend. And remember to thank a veteran in honour of Veterans and Remembrance Day!

A Belated Back-to-Work Post

After my wonderful staycation, I returned to work where my to-do list exploded in my face, and since then I’ve been busy with so many work-related tasks. So much to the point that I’ve been quite drained during the week. That’s what happens when one has to report to work at 5:30am and do a split shift. However, I usually work straight through until 5:00pm, so that makes for a super long day . . . anyway, I still had time to meet friends for dinner and brunch, and here are a couple photos I took of that.

Lambchop and Bobotie from Twiga Amarula Cheesecake from Twiga

My friend D and I visited Twiga, a South African restaurant that sells the best cheesecake in the world. I’ve been wanting to try their food-dishes, so D and I went there together. D opted to get the lambchop, and I opted to get the bobotie which is a minced meat casserole with an egg-based topping. We both shared this mushroom rice, and then we both had the Amarula cheesecake. The cheesecake was the best part of our meal. The other dishes were just not really to our liking. Plus, it was pretty pricey. We ended up paying $63 USD together. I will go back there for the cheesecake, and maybe for their quiches, but that’s all.

Parfait Pancake from Greenstreet

D and I met again for brunch at Greenstreet in the Dragon Hill Lodge. I got the parfait pancake — pancakes that’s topped with a yoghurt and whipped cream mixture with berries, bananas, and granolas. This was my first time trying the dish, and I actually liked it. I think I much prefer the yoghurt and whipped cream over the usual syrup.

I got some lamb stew from Silence of the Lamb the other day, but I didn’t picture it. It was delicious, very flavourful and spicy! And that’s about it for my food adventure.

Oh, on a side note — I’ve been watching Downton Abbey and been enjoying the show. I’m not big on TV series, but I decided to give Downton a try, and I do not regret it! So good. So much British accents. *swoons*