I have a habit of disappearing from my blog every summer and it’s not necessarily because my schedule is jam packed. Or at least it usually isn’t. During the summer months, I like to hunker down, take a break, and besides the occasional beach trip, stay out of the sun. This summer was different. Our summer kicked off with a trip to Laos over Memorial Day and was followed by traveling around Mongolia for the majority of July.
We don’t usually travel during the summer (too hot, too expensive, too crowded), but this year we made an exception to visit Mongolia because we wanted to ensure the likelihood of decent weather. Mongolia, from what we read, seemed to be cold, rainy, and windy for the majority of the year. June and July were the exceptions. Of course, those were also the most popular (and touristy) months to travel in Mongolia. Despite visiting during peak season, we managed to avoid tourist crowds and have the most epic road trip ever. It was Sly’s dream bucket list destination, and one I knew we had to take sooner, rather than later, on account of us not living in Asia forever.
But, summer so far hasn’t consisted solely of big trips to exotic locations. I know it’s what I mostly blog about and what fills my IG feed, but in between (and within) the larger trips, are the smaller moments that are every bit as worthwhile and memorable.
Some notes on summer so far + a few summer faves:
- I took a mini road trip with a friend not too far outside of the city and we were both totally surprised by the scenery. My friend and I originally planned on trying out a “cheese experience” with locally produced cheese. It turned out to be a total bust. Instead, we drove along the winding roads and explored the quiet countryside dotted with beautiful temples. It was a reminder that there’s still so much to discover close to home.
- Binging on Netflix! My summer reading fell to the wayside in favor of stupid summer dating shows like First Dates, Fire Island, The Bachelorette (which I forced poor Sly to watch with me), and The Spouse House. My sister and I love these types of shows, so we often text/email one another after watching to talk smack. In anticipation of the new season of Twin Peaks (which has an awesome sound track, btw), we re-watched the original series which I barely remembered. Netflix favorites included The Keepers (SO good, so compelling, totally this season’s Making a Murderer), The Great British Baking Show (a favorite that had a bunch of new seasons added recently), Castlevania (remember the video game? Now there’s an anime. Not recommended for kids, though), and GLOW (vintage vibes, a lot of fun, recommended by a good friend). Handmaids Tale on Hulu was another (creepy, disturbing) favorite.
- And binging on podcasts! Before we left for Mongolia, I downloaded a bunch of audio books and podcasts for our long days on the road. Some of our favorites included: Homecoming (a scripted podcast recommended by Kelly), S-town (recommended by Rachel – we are still in the middle of this so no spoilers!), Convicted (good although the girl’s voice/way of talking was kind of annoying to the both of us), and Up and Vanished (we were SO obsessed with this in Mongolia, and even stayed up into the wee hours of the morning listening to it in our tent). Needless to say, we kind of like our true crime podcasts. We have also started to have “Podcast Sundays” which is where we cook up a good meal and listen to a podcast or audio book together instead of watching TV. I think I might start making a granny square quilt to keep my hands occupied while we are listening. Any recommendations for binge-worthy shows or podcasts?
- So many of my memories are tied to cooking and food, and this summer has been no exception. This summer’s faves include: Sly’s freshly baked bread, home-made soft pretzels, from scratch cherry pie (with fresh cherries!), sushi from our favorite spot in Daegu, golden milk (I make a version of this in a latte maker machine, my fave kitchen gadget lately), slow cooker veggie korma, buuz and khuushuur , chicken burrito cabbage bowls, bingsu (Korean shaved ice), homemade falafel, best ever Korean watermelon, homemade ginger beer, vats of slow-cooked beans eaten throughout the week, tuna fish sandwiches, and huge bowls of stove-popped popcorn to accompany our Netflix and podcast binges.
- Rufus, became really, really sick. Like most sick cats, we didn’t suspect anything was wrong until he refused to eat. Major red flag. If you know Rufus, you know how obsessed with food he is. He never ever skips a meal, and usually, tries to eat Max’s food once he’s finished with his own. One morning, he started puking, which didn’t initially alarm us. Then he refused to eat. Then he sat, very lethargically, in a hunched position. All very bad signs. At first, we thought it might have been a side effect of their recent vaccinations, but in my gut, something didn’t feel quite right. I called Sly, worried out of my mind, and we agreed to monitor Rufie until the evening. If he still wasn’t eating, then we would take him to the ER. I sat with Rufus all morning as he made his way to the litter box several times, followed each time by a round of puking. After several trips, I went to inspect the litter and discovered he had passed a strip of metallic mylar-looking ribbon (?). We had no idea where it came from, when he consumed it, or how long ago he ate it, but it really freaked me out. When it comes to kitties, eating string can be a death sentence! Immediately after passing the string, Rufus perked right up, and by the time Sly returned from work, he was back to his bossy, hungry, self. In the aftermath, I ravaged our house and tossed out anything with potentially edible string, including some of their favorite toys. It felt like we dodged a major bullet and we are so relieved that Rufie is okay. Better than okay. The other day, I caught Rufie and his chubby little head helping himself to an opened container of feta while my back was turned…
- I think I may have found the perfect travel/city/hiking pants. That is, pants that look good in a city environment, but can also perform on the trail. Stretchy, dries fast, comfy, flattering (even for my athletic calves and thighs – finding pants, especially skinny cut, that fit and look decent is very difficult), lots of fun colors and patterns (even for men), and most importantly, NOT CONVERTIBLE (no. no. no. no. no.). I lived in the Prana Meme pants while in Mongolia, while Sly put his Prana Zioneer pants, which is made of the same material, through the ringer. Now if I could just find the ultimate pair of travel shoes…and the ultimate all-weather city and outdoors, packable jacket…
- More favorite finds this summer: Wet n Wild MegaLast Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick (highly pigmented, doesn’t dry out my lips, lasts literally all day, cruelty-free, vegan, and super affordable. Note: on olive skin like mine, the lighter colors looked like Halloween lipstick, but the mauves and berries were SO good.), Thinksport Everyday Face sunscreen (dumb name, but it’s reef safe, high EWG rating, and might be my most fave facial sunscreen to date), Babyganics alcohol-free hand sanitizing wipes (the 20 count packs are perfect for traveling), and Liquid I.V. electrolyte drink mix packets (we were living on these more natural versions of “Gatorade” while in the Gobi desert. Tastes great, gives back, and great for travel).
- We bought tickets to the Winter Olympics!!!!!!!!!!! As Korean residents, we were able to enter into the ticket lottery pre-sale. We didn’t get many of the events that we wanted in our lottery bid, but a couple weeks later, they opened up ticket sales on a first come, first serve for previous lottery applicants. The day the tickets went on sale, I pre-populated my cart with the events I wanted, waited, and then the moment online sales opened, I clicked the buy button. We got all the events we wanted including the women’s’ halfpipe gold medal performance/men’s qualifying, short track speed skating, and women’s gold medal ice skating! I often talk about how I don’t really keep a “bucket list,” but if I did, attending an Olympics would be at the very top. It has been a dream of mine to attend the Winter Olympics since I was 10 years old and I can’t believe we are actually planning on going. EEEEEEE! (<– me squealing.) Finding lodging, however, is another story. $600 for a hotel room anyone? Yeah, not happening.
- In between our travels, we had a couple of visitors. One of our guests was my French friend who I met in college. He was dating one of my good friends while I was dating one of his BFFs from France. As you can probably gather, those relationships didn’t last, but our friendship did. Even after all these years, millions of relationships later, and multiple countries, we have managed to keep in touch. Bonus point: our kitties LOVED my friend immediately, which is extremely rare as they are quite shy with non-family members.
- One afternoon, my 13-yr old nephew texted me out of the blue with some photos of an “Italian seafood tortellini bake” that he had made by himself, from scratch, using a recipe he found. The cutest part about the whole thing was that he left a note on the table for my mom to read the next morning before she left to buy groceries. The note read, “If you are a G-ma, please take.” On the other side was a list of ingredients to purchase. SO CUTE. Love that kid. I wish there were a way I could preserve him at this age forever.
- I attended one of Daegu’s biggest festivals – the chicken and beer (chimac) festival. It was insanely hot, even at night, and I was dripping with sweat within 10 minutes. The festivities were a lot grander than they were when Sly and I attended a couple years back – lots more craft beer and a wider range of food from all over the world. We planned on going again together when one of our friends was in town, but we all agreed it was just too hot and ended up eating sushi and bingsu instead.
- The summer rainy season has begun! It has been raining pretty much every day since we returned from Mongolia. I’m not complaining though. I’ll take the rain any day over the heat.
Am I ever going to not be surprised when, at the end of July, there’s only one month left of summer? Probably not. Even though it’s not my most favorite season, it still makes me sad to think that summer is 2/3 of the way finished. And even sadder that I started seeing back to school ads at the beginning of July. Sigh. Slow down, Time.
As for the rest of the summer — we don’t really have anything planned. It’s Sly’s busy season at work, so things have been picking up and will soon reach fever pitch in the upcoming weeks. I’m still hoping to squeeze in a trip to the beach at some point, though I’m not sure when. It never quite feels like summer unless I’ve spent a day attempting to read a book on a sandy towel roasting in the hot sun.
Next up: summer reading!