June 2009

I have yet to find a decent toy store in Korea. Being a resourceful former Peace Corps volunteer, I have re-purposed ordinary things into baby toys.


A beach ball is a baby exercise ball, he can stretch and balance.


Laundry balls are baby balls that he can hold and chew. Toss them in with a load of baby laundry and they are ready for play.

Our fridge is always stocked with ice cream in the summer. Heck, ice cream qualifies as a source of calcium. After tasting just about every kind of ice cream sold in Korea, these are my staples:


The E-Bar on the left is like a Nestle Crunch bar with a bonus chocolate chunk in the center. The Chocolate Bravo Cone is the chocolaty-est treat with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce blended into chocolate ice cream topped off with chocolate drizzle on the top. The Coffee Stick is a nifty triangle of sweet frozen coffee that splits in two for sharing or saving for later, or not.

Today is the first day for 50,000W bills. Long overdue since 10,000W bills just make for thick, unsightly wallets and 100,000W notes are a pain to get and use. The woman pictured isn’t a former Korean queen. Shin Saimdang (신사임당 1504-1551) was famous for her paintings and calligraphy as well as her Confucist scholar son, Yulgok. Her respectful nickname was “wise mother.”


There are red onions at the market nowadays. They are sold but once a year. Just like the peapods that have shown up lately.


Red onions make for a great salad with cucumbers and tomato (all in season right now) ~ use olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for seasoning.


There is a Korean word for babies that are scared of strangers: nat-ga-rinda/낯가린다.  Babies don’t like unfamiliar faces starting at about 5 months. Seeing strangers makes them cry. Reach for the baby and screaming ensues. I hope this will stop strangers from touching him.


Nat-ga-rim/낯가림 can last up to a year.

Our son loves looking at mobiles. Because of that we have multiple mobiles throughout our place. Baby related items in Korea cost a mint. Retail stores include baby specialty shops and department stores. For the adventurous and frugal, head to Dongdaemun and Namdaemun for baby bedding, clothes and shoes. Mother-in-law spent nearly a hundred dollars on a mobile at Shinsegae Department Store and then stumbled upon the bargain baby stuff at Namdaemun Market.

The most fun and interactive mobile was handmade.


Baby visitors have been asked to fold colorful origami paper so we can add to this special mobile. Another cool aspect is that you can make it move while holding baby by blowing a burst of air.

Strange but true…it’s hard to find a trash receptacle on the streets of Seoul. Perhaps it’s because so many different categories of sorting are required. Could it be any more difficult not to litter? Surprisingly the streets aren’t littered with trash.


From left to right: garbage, plastic, glass, cans.

The brooms used to sweep the streets are different here. They seem to be made of those plastic tie-back straps found at hardware stores. Nifty re-purposing makes one sturdy broom. If I had a yard, it would be great for outside use.


It’s Korean melon (chamae/참외) season. Sold everywhere you look: in the market, on the sidewalk, out of trucks. These small yellow melons taste like a cross between a honeydew and an apple. To eat, use a knife to peel the thin yellow skin away and slice up to serve or chomp it like an apple if you don’t want to share. Go ahead and eat the seeds, they may look sizable but they are easy to chew ~ plus that’s about half of the fruit and the veins are the sweetest part.