first sunrise of 2018
Happy New Year!
We had a very low key, quiet holiday this year that involved binging on Harry Potter movies, Netflix, and food. Here were some of our favorites (plus a few holiday updates):
The Great British Baking Show (Netflix) – We started watching this addictive series a couple holidays ago and were totally inspired to bake up trays and trays of cookies. In this show, also known as The Great British Bake Off, a group of amateur home bakers attempts to bake everything from Christmas cookies to wedding cakes in a huge outdoor tent in the middle of someone’s fancy British estate. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy baking, or just enjoy watching people cook.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Netflix) – Another cooking show that we couldn’t get enough of this holiday. This time, instead of baking, teams consisting of three family members cook up three rounds of impressive home recipes. In the first round, the families must cook a dish that can feed a family of four for under £10. In the second round, the families cook a main and a dessert from their own home. And in the final round, the teams must cook a meal that would “impress the neighbors”. I’m not really into American cooking competition shows because they seem so over-the-top and edited to be overly dramatic. British cooking shows, on the other hand, = totally addictive.
Ultimate Beastmaster (Netflix) – This was a totally random watch for us. I clicked on it out of curiosity one evening when Sly gave me full control over choosing something to watch. Usually, when that happens, I’ll turn on The Bachelor or RHOA while Sly zones in and out while messing with his phone, but for some reason, Ultimate Beastmaster beckoned me. After about 30 minutes into one of the episodes, I noticed Sly had put down his phone and was giving full attention to UB. And with that, we were hooked. The premise of UB is similar to American Ninja Warrior (which I only watched sporadically in clips) — complete an insane obstacle course — but in UB, international teams of two compete for each round. Somehow, it’s a lot more entertaining.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime) – I first heard of TMMM when conducting a Google search on binge-worthy shows. I only needed to read that it took place in 1950s New York City (because I love anything that takes place in Old New York) to become immediately interested. The series centers around a New York socialite (Mrs. Maisel) who tries to juggle being a 1950s stereotypical housewife with being a stand-up female comic. About half-way through the first episode, I wasn’t completely sold, but I stuck around because the sets, costumes, etc. were gorgeous. By episode two or three, I couldn’t stop watching. However, what really makes this show is the two strong female leads, played by two actresses, who, in my opinion, had break-out roles. Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Mrs. Maisel, is wonderful, but in my opinion, it’s her sarcastic sidekick agent who totally steals the show. TMMM is such a girl power series without being so overtly in-your-face. And it’s totally binge-worthy. PS: If you watched/liked Gilmore Girls, TMMM was created by the same person.
Black Mirror (Netflix) – A modern-day mix of Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone that explores our high-tech world and our obsession with gadgets. The newest season was just released after Christmas, and considering that we binged on every previous season the moment it came out, I’m sure this season will be no different. We have it queued up to watch after we finish up Ultimate Beastmaster.
Wormwood (Netflix) – Netflix has been killing it with their documentaries the past couple of years, so when I heard the buzz around Wormwood, I immediately added it to my queue. This docudrama explores the death of a CIA agent that was originally ruled a suicide but has since been linked to a top-secret experiment. Intrigued? I am. Even more intriguing is the cast of big Hollywood stars that star in this movie.
American Vandal (Netflix) – As a huge fan of true crime podcasts and documentaries (especially the ones that have been on Netflix in recent years), I was drawn to this satire of the genre. “Mockumentaries” can go either way for me, so I’m still somewhat skeptical about American Vandal. Even so, it’s on my list of shows to watch in the near future.
In addition to binging on Netflix, I finally completed a book (actually, three!) for the first time in months! I had been on such a roll when it came to reading earlier this year and then I became totally derailed from August through November. I had no desire to read anything at all, and what books I tried reading, I soon lost interest in or gave up on. I have reestablished my morning ritual of a hot drink – in this case, hot cocoa – and reading every morning, and it has really helped. It feels good to be reading again, and I’m excited to start this year’s book club reads!
awesome hanwoo (한우) korean beef bbq at our friend’s sister’s restaurant
is it possible to be *too* cozy?
As for the rest of the holidays, they were, as mentioned, wonderfully uneventful and quiet. Except for the tiny Christmas Day earthquake… On Christmas Eve, I *finally* put up our tiny tree (and tiny kitty stocking), and the kitties became immediately obsessed. On Christmas Day, Sly slaved away in the kitchen while I caught up with friends over email. I was just beginning to feel like I was finally emerging from my fog of cold symptoms, but then all of a sudden I started feeling a whole new set of symptoms. I ended up taking it easy (or even easier) on Christmas. My plans for making a million side dishes and batches of ginger snap cookies were traded in for couch time and watching old Christmas favorites like Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Charlie Brown Christmas. Sly saved Christmas dinner with a roasted spiral ham, squash casserole and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It wasn’t as grand a meal as we had originally planned, but still special nonetheless.
The kitties opened their presents on Christmas Day, but we waited several days so that we could coordinate our schedules with my family’s back in Houston. Eventually, we had a video chat opening gifts session that lasted for hours and was a lot of fun. Sigh. It’s really hard being away from family over the holidays.
A couple of days after Christmas, I developed really sharp pains in my chest that made it difficult to breathe or even move. It was especially painful when I coughed or laughed. Normally, I would ride it out, but after consulting Dr. Google and coming to the conclusion that I was dying (which is basically how every session with Dr. Google ends), Sly took me to see a doctor. I was pretty sure it was nothing, but at the same time, the last thing I needed was a case of untreated pneumonia. Long story short, the doctor, who looked like he was at most 15 years old, said my lungs sounded fine and that most likely I strained/pulled a chest muscle and/or bruised a rib, and that because these muscles are constantly active, it would take some time to heal. He gave me some meds and told me to come back for an x-ray if the pain persisted. After I left the doctor, the pain got worse, and then it got better. So let’s hope that after 3+ weeks I am finally on the mend.
new year’s eve dinner at balaji
Our New Year’s Eve was also a quiet one. After watching The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which featured so many amazing Indian home cooks, we really craved Indian food. Sly found an unassuming Indian and Nepalese restaurant on the second floor of a nondescript building hidden off a dark alley. The moment we walked in, I knew it was going to be good. For one, I think we were the only non-Indian/Nepalese people in the entire place, and I swear every single head turned to stare when we walked in. Totally our kind of place.
After dinner, we drove by the New Year’s Eve festivities set up in downtown Daegu, and for maybe a split second we contemplated sticking around to ring in the New Year. The night was freezing cold, with huge gusts of wind, and we were uncomfortably stuffed (as usual), so we booked it back to the cozy warmth of our apartment and rang in the New Year with the kitties. Actually, I rang in the New Year with the kitties. Sly didn’t even make it to midnight.
New Year’s Day consisted of more cooking and more binging, as Sly made tteokguk (떡국), a Korean rice cake soup that is traditionally eaten to celebrate the new year. Sly has made tteokguk every year since we moved to Korea, and I imagine we’ll be eating it every new year from here on out. Sly also made an awesome berry pie which took all my willpower not to eat before it had cooled. While stuffing our faces with New Year’s goodies, we watched my sister’s NYE livestream as she blew up $600 worth of fireworks with family and friends.
In between binging on food and Netflix, we have been treasuring our time with our kitties. Max has his follow-up appointment with the vet at the end of this week, and my stomach has been in knots thinking about it. His lump seemed like it was getting smaller, but now it seems as if it’s back to normal. Most likely the lump will have to be removed. We have been trying not to think about all the “what ifs” and instead have been staying positive (not my strong suit), focusing on enjoying the holidays, and living in the present.
This holiday season, I was reminded of a post my friend wrote before she passed away from cancer about saying yes. So I have been “saying yes” to whatever Max desires. When Max scratched on the bathroom door, wanting to be let in, I said yes. When he stood on two legs and wanted to jump on my lap while I’m in the bathroom, I (reluctantly) said yes (why does he like this so much?). When Max brought me his ratty bird toy and wanted me to play fetch with him even though I was in the middle of reading a book, I said yes. When Max wanted to cuddle on my legs until they fell asleep while I sat in the most awkward position possible, I said yes. When I washed the dishes and Max plopped on the ground and rolled on his side for a belly rub, I said yes. And when he gently pawed my arm for a bit of ham…or chicken…or salmon…even though we rarely ever give our kitties table scraps, I said yes. As my friend Karen wrote in her blog post, “Saying yes to time well spent is way more memorable. But…I threw in a couple more yeses, because you never know if you’ll have another day like this.”
Words to live by for the new year.
I’ll update once we know more about Max’s diagnosis. Fingers and paws crossed.
Hope everyone had a great holiday and happy 2018! And if you have any binge-worthy shows or good books to recommend, send them my way!