Hype!: Modeling Wooden Dinosaurs

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

There is no way that you can tell me my Sunday afternoon was poorly spent, when you see the products of my effort.

If you have never modeled a wooden dinosaur, I highly recommend it. It’s almost like being an archaeologist, almost like being a model ship builder, almost like being a crazy college kid, but it’s a mix of all three in truth.

I bought these modelling kits in South Korea, actually. The glue we used to keep them together was Korean, but all my naive praise for Koreans being super amazing and making these one of a kind modelling kits was dashed when I saw the same kind of thing at Michael’s by the Belmont stop. So my dinosaurs are super special and Korean, but don’t despair, you can make dinosaurs, too.

There are other things to make as well if, for some weird reason, you don’t like dinosaurs or don’t find them as immediately appealing as I do. I’ve seen lions, boats, cars, buildings.

We also have a Temple of the Sun kit left to make, and something with a dragon and a phoenix. Those are larger kits, though, and I have to leave for my first ever writer’s group outside of classes in a little while, so we saved them for later.

The short version: go to Michael’s and buy a wood modeling kit. You will also feel that your afternoon was well spent. I promise.

Happy modeling!

Hype!: Summer Novelist’s Writing Club

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

My dad was visiting for over a week.

I’m leaving for Prague in exactly one week today.

And in the meantime I’ve decided to participate in the Summer Novelist’s Writing Club on Facebook. The goal is to write 500 words a day from May 16th though August 28th, with the goal of producing a 53,000 word first draft by the end. It’s crazy and it’s amazing. I’ve started.

Have you? Join now for inspiration, motivation, pushes. I’ll be posting excerpts every so often. Here’s today’s.

Dear Hyun,

Some of these April days, the magpies by my house sing and shuffle on into the evenings and I imagine them swooping into the rice fields to have their midnight dances.

They have always done that in the unsure shifting time between spring and summer when it’s cold one morning, sweltering through that same evening so that we feel like sleeping outside, under the cooler blanket of night air and even the walls of our house seem too stuffy.

I have known their tradition since I was young. My father told me that was why I shouldn’t go wandering at night. I might stumble onto them and interrupt their important celebration.

They were pulling hard on the linen of summer, he told me. They had it locked in their beaks and if I sneaked up behind them and scared them, they might lose hold of it for good. It wasn’t like he was pinning mischief on me where it didn’t belong. Trips to Seoul, for me, were trips to scare pigeons into the sky after seeing how long I could follow one while it waddled. But what a way to scare a child. “You could make the world lose summer for good and then how would you feel?”

And so I have crept up quietly behind you and now I am frozen.

I know I shouldn’t be here. I know that standing behind you in the air that shudders between warm and cool is bad for both of us, but I am here already, aren’t I?

I don’t know if you’ve kept my letters, but you’ve responded, and that means something. You took time out from your day to remember my face, maybe. Have you remembered my face? If not my face, at least my voice and the idea of me. Maybe you are aware only of the windless space behind you where I stand.

If I spoke, would it shock you? The hairs on the back of your neck might be raised, but do you really expect me or am I still a ghost you only half believe in?

How can you believe in me so little? Hyun, when I hear the sound of the magpies, I sit here by my window and the moon and there is something bursting inside me. If I am a ghost, you took my last comb, the last strand of hair that left my head, or the spit on the side of the last glass I drank from. You took what is most important to finding me. Do you have it hidden in your barracks? Do you take it out in lantern light and show it to your friends?

I am fine. School goes on as it always does. My mother went to Busan to visit Won Joong for a while, so it is sometimes lonely without her, without you. I would be lonely at school, too, but I keep busy and I am working harder than ever. The other girls watch me, I think. I think that somehow they know what happened. So when you have leave, you have to come here and sit on the benches outside with me. We’ll sit under the eun haeng and they’ll walk by and see us. You’ll sit there with me, won’t you?

You can’t give it back, so you have to bring it back. I’m not just a ghost. I am standing behind you.

Eun Byul

Hype!: Crits for Water

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

You never know what you might find if you hang around on Twitter. For example, today I found this awesome blog run by a writer who lives in Japan, and she’s offering critiques in return for donations to charity:water.

Check out the post here. If you need a critique and want to donate at the same time, I can assure you that it’s the link for you.

Happy writing and happy donating!


Hype!: Train is the Best Spice

April 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

This is Maeklong market in Thailand, where the train runs right through. Can you believe it?

The first time I watched it, I thought “oh, it’s just going to squeeze on through”, but it goes over the food. Over.

Hype!: Shabu Shabu

April 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

Shabu Shabu

My boyfriend’s mother came into town yesterday to visit. We ate lunch and then headed North to Niles, IL to visit Super H-Mart, which is probably my favorite place in Illinois. Why? Because I am in love with Korean food and being at Super H-Mart makes me feel like I’m right back in Korea. They even have a little food court with real Korean dishes.

Anyway, they sell all sorts of things: all kinds of Asian vegetables, 20 pound bags of rice, huge buckets (and I mean BUCKETS) of Kimchi, fish right from the tank, as well as all kind of sauces, snacks, and chips. It’s amazing, and I get giddy every time I go. Since it’s out in the North suburbs, however, that hasn’t been very often since we’ve actually moved here. Do you get the point that I was ecstatic about having the chance to go?


Our delicious Kimchi.

We had only intended to pick up delicious Shin Ramyun and a new 20 pound rice bag, since we had run out, but Adam said, “Hey, let’s check out the meat section and see if we can do a little regular grocery shopping”.

The first package of meat he picks up is labeled Bulgogi, which he’s familiar with since it’s DELICIOUS. He recognizes the name.

Bulgogi label

For me, however, it’s the shape and cut of meat that brings back memories. In the package was a row of strips of meat cut very thin. They looked gorgeous. They looked fresh. They looked exactly like what I’d eaten with Shabu Shabu in a restaurant in Wonju (the city where I stayed).


Shabu Shabu, also sometimes called Hot Pot, is a fabulous dish to eat with friends. In the restaurant where I first encountered it, we chose a broth and sat around a table with a burner in the middle. A huge pot was brought out with the broth. Then a plate full of leafy vegetables and mushrooms was brought out along with a smaller plate of the meat we had chosen. The broth was brought to a boil, the vegetables thrown in to simmer, and whenever we wanted a piece of meat, we picked it up with chopsticks and dipped it in. It cooked within seconds.
Shabu Shabu 2

And you’re thinking: that’s it? You dip some stuff into water, it cooks, and you eat it? No, that’s not it! Along with vegetables and meat, there were a few rice cakes. There were also dishes of sauce to add extra flavor if the broth wasn’t enough. The best part, though, was after we’d finished eating the first part, the server brought out a tray of flour-covered noodles that we dumped into the pot. They soaked up all the broth and made it into something like gravy. Then we ate those.

I love the tradition of eating something broth-y, being done with that meal, and then concocting another meal from using the left over broth with rice or noodles. Two for one! No waste! It’s just a winning situation all over.

AND THE BEST PART IS: we bought all the ingredients we need to make shabu shabu right here at home! We picked up that meat, some bok choy, some bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms.

Shabu Shabu Gang

Our Shabu Shabu gang.

Today, we conserved a spice packet and the two vegetable packets from our ramen lunch to save for the broth, which we’ll make mostly with vegetable bouillon cubes  and maybe some soy sauce. We’ll cook it on the stove and stand over the stove eating it. Adventure eating at its best, without ever leaving the apartment. All I really want to buy before Sunday is a pack of those flour-covered noodles.

So, that’s what I’m excited for. If you’re interested in the recipe I checked out, click here. I’m actually thrilled to have found that blog in general, because as you can see on the side, there’s a whole list of Korean recipes. They keep the ingredients pretty low-key, too, unlike fancy Korean cookbooks I’ve picked up, that list names I’ll never recognize and ask me to measure the ingredients in grams. After you try the shabu shabu (which you must), I’d recommend the bibimbahp. It’s my favorite.

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