Friday, December 21, 2012

Seoul, ROK Recap

Sunrise in Seoul, view from our room
I'm baaaa-aaack!

Actually, I've been back for over a week. But it's taken me up until the last few days to fully re-adjust to the time difference (14 hours, yikes!) and honestly, I just lost all motivation to blog.

So, how was it?

Seoul, was not at all what I expected and much, much more.

1. It's freakishly cold. Seriously. I come from Ohio, land of lake effect snow, negative wind chills and frozen everythings. But nothing could prepare me (or anyone) for this kind of cold. Really, you haven't felt cold to you've been to South Korea in the winter. To be fair, they are having their coldest winter in a decade.

My fingers didn't just turn blue, they turned black

We got about 6 in. of snow there. And oh yeah, they don't plow or shovel

2. Nobody speaks English. Ok, not completely true. They know hello and thank you, but very few can string sentences together. This makes it really hard to get any point across. Say, when trying to ask how to get somewhere, or when your subway ticket doesn't work but your Turtle is already on the other side of the turnstiles.

Eventually we got the hang of the evil subway turnstiles

3. I should never ever be permitted to sing in public. Even after a bit of soju and beer, I was still perfectly aware of how awful I sounded.

But still might have sounded better than Britney
4. Korean food is.....interesting. And so horribly bad for you. They eat kimchi and rice breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, they like super fatty cuts of pork. For someone who finds skin to peel off of skinless chicken breasts, this was a nightmare. Luckily, they also had super yummy waffle and pancake-like pastries. For some reason, eating bad doesn't bother me when it's sugar-filled!

Typical appetizer

Yummy nutty pancake from street vendor

5. Don't expect to shop much. Well, expect to shop, as there isn't too much else to do when it's 0 degrees, but don't expect to buy anything. The markets sell dirty, cheap knock offs that look like something you could buy at any old garage sale in the U.S., and the department stores are extremely $$$. A box of Kashi granola bars was $12. The same box is $2.98 at Target in the U.S.

Junky market

Super pricey, high-end Shinsegae department store

6. They glare. See, here I was all prepared to get stared at, but I was not prepared that these stares would be accompanied by furrowed brows and animosity. And being the only blond I saw the entire 12 days, and the only bright red coat in a sea of black...Well, I just threw my hands up after day 1 and said "Glare away!"

7. Their definition of exercise is vastly different from ours. I was the only one sweating in that gym! Everyone else was slowly strolling on their treadmills and then getting jiggled by those old-fashioned "fat-melting" machines. Picture me dripping sweat onto the carpet while these perfectly cool middle-aged Koreans are casually getting jiggled in their crisply starched work out clothes. Yeah, it was a sight to see. And their track? A perfect circle that was maybe 20 laps for a mile if I'm being generous. I stuck to the eliptical, which was immensly harder than our elipticals here.

Yeah, that's going to do a lot

8. There history isn't exactly accurate. While touring some palaces and museums with a Korean American friend who is studying Korean in Seoul, we learned that their record keeping wasn't exactly up to par. For instance, they'd unearth an ancient relic, but wouldn't be sure what it was so they'd make something up for the museum to put as a description.

Gyeongbok Palace

Ok, so my review sounds pretty Debbie Downer, huh? In actuality, I am so glad I went. It was a different experience from what I expected, for sure, but I did have a good time and saw things I'd never get to see otherwise. The nights that the Koreans took us out to do karaoke, dinner and see the sights were so much fun! Heck, even playing cards up in the hotel lounge at night was a blast. But, we were definitely ready to come home.

Now, that I'm recouped, it's time for the holidays! Hurray! Then, it'll be back to the drawing board...or canvas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gangnam Style

Ehhhhhhhhhhhh sexy lady!

That's right, I'm heading to South Korea. Not only that, I'm heading to the Gangnam district of Seoul..or the "Hollywood" of South Korea, as it is popularly known.

Why am I going? You mean Seoul isn't on the top of everyone's list of vacation destinations?! Well, aside from that, I am tagging along the Turtle's work trip to venture into the world of kimchi, chopsticks yeah, I'm completely unprepared from this trip.

So let's have some fun. Here is the very short list of things I do know:

1. My hotel has an INDOOR RUNNING TRACK!!!!!!
     ---ok, list over. That's all I need to know!

of course this was the first thing I looked into

2. Young-uh day ha sheh suey simeeka?
      --Do you speak English?
     ---A helpful phrase I think I might find handy.

3. There is a mall under my hotel.
   --That makes it easy for the Turtle to find me!

4. There is also a Coldstone Creamery under my hotel.
    --While I totally plan on trying all kinds of new and different foods, I have got to see what Korean Coldstone is like! And it's good to know I have a fallback for my ice cream addiction.

I think this might be getting a visit from me or 2, or 10

5. Do not leave your chopsticks standing straight up in your rice.
   --This is reserved as a tribute to a deceased member of the family. Otherwise it's insulting.

6. Don't pour your own drink at a party...and if someone pours you one, you better drink it.
   --Unless its a before-a-run night. Then I don't care how insulting it is, I am not compromising my morning run for tradition!

7. Our hotel has the biggest hotel fitness center in the country.
   --I had to mention this again, I am so excited about this!

Those look like the same brand eliptical I use at the gym! Score!

8. Watch where you walk.
   --motorcycles, bikes and even cars can be driven on the sidewalks.

9. There are 22 million people in Seoul.
    -- So, that's like Disney World during peak season, right?

This is why we go to the Parks in off season

10. Postage-sized skirts = ok, Low-cut = not so ok.
    --So, a nun on top and a hooker on the bottom.

and finally....

11. Dress warm.... (well, except for the mini skirt part)
   -- Highs will be in the low 40s, Lows will be in the 20s. Good grief. It's like I'm not even leaving Ohio.

Well, I am good to go, right?! Honestly, I don't even know what to picture when I think about the trip. Seoul hasn't exactly been on my radar. Oh yeah, and have I mentioned that aside from Canada, I've never left the country? Or that our flight from Atlanta to Seoul is 14.5 hours!!!

The hotel has Wi-Fi, so hopefully I'll be able to post a blog or two about running in Seoul!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Recap

Gobble gobble everyone!

Hanging with Mr. Turkey before the Turkey Trot

I'm sure all of your Thanksgivings were merry and bright..err.. wrong holiday... Well, you get my drift.

Wed. night Turtle, I and his sister piled in the car and made our trek home to Cleveland, with our usual Subway stop on the way. As we went,  I got a message from a runner friend telling me there was a good chance I'd place if I ran the Turkey Trot the next day.

Don't have to tell me twice!

I spent the remainder of the trip plotting and scheming ways I could fit this in the schedule (and find someone to go with me because I am not parking downtown by myself and what fun is a race all alone?)

Going thru my short list of potential candidates (in order of most likely to go) I was quickly at 2 strikes. Then,  I went in for brother #2. I pulled out allllll the stops. There were pouty faces (facetime is very handy for this), whining, pleading, guilting and the kicker: bonding time. Shockingly, he said yes! I whooped and promptly hung up to hydrate and scrounge up an outfit from what clothes I still have at my mom's.

Such a good brother!

The Turkey Trot had perfect weather, with sunny skies, little wind and about 45 degrees at gun time. The race went by really quickly, and I gotta say, it was really nice not having to do 8 more miles when I got to the finish line at mile 5! I could get used to that......

Done already?! Awesome!

Since it was only a 5 mile race, my usual going out too fast habit never turned off. I ended up sprinting the whole race! With an average pace of 6:48, my finishing time was 34:00:02!!!!

I was completely floored! I had told my brother to start watching out for me between 35-40 minutes, closer to the 35, but I had not at all expected to finish even in 35 minute at all. I was completely floored when I got in under that!

I ended up coming in 7th in my division, which I was a little dissappointed about. But then I thought about how well I did and got over it (it also helped that it wasn't even close since the top 3 in my division came in a good 2-3 minutes before me).

I think they need to restock

The rest of the holiday weekend was great. I did 2 more morning runs (a 5 and 7 mile).  I did some serious damage to Michael's canvas stock, completely looting them of their 18" x 24" canvases.

And I had a great time hanging out with friends and family. I can't wait til Christmas when we can do it all again!

A rare moment of my siblings and I with our spouses all together in the same place!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Having A Ball

Disney is going to get so sick of me :-)

Here is my latest submission to the lovely Disney Fine Art company. I wasn't quite sure if this would turn out when I was sketching Cinderella's face. Its pretty hard to see your "vision" when you're only looking at pencil lines. But, I'm glad I stuck it out (thank you Polish stubborn genes!).

And let the layering begin....My little foray into black & white made me forget the frustration of mixing the perfect color only to have to paint over it all over again because one layer just wasn't rich enough.

And finally.....

"Having A Ball" - 20" x 24" acrylic

And speaking of almost throwing in the towel, the painting I'm working on now I really almost did just that. But I'm so glad I haven't. I'm about 75% done with it, but the holidays and more full-time work days are going to put this on the backburner for a bit. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Camo-Rose

To tide you over while I finish up my new Cinderella piece, here's my entry for the Postcards From the Edge Auction. I sketched and painted this all in one day the weekend after I got home from Disney. Since I was beyond anxious to get all of my contest and auction pieces done so I could start work on new Disney stuff, I wanted to pick something that I could do relatively quickly. That 4" x 6" size requirement has its advantages!

Here is "The Camo-Rose":

And finally.....

"The Camo-Rose" - 4" x 6" Acyrlic

It's nothing epic, but I think it's pretty nice. Cinderella is coming along nicely, hoping to finish it this weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Waiting For a Prince

Since my trip to Disney (and a long talk with one of their artists), my desire to become a Disney Fine Artist has gotten even stronger. I am absolutely determined to get a contract with them! They'll beg me to sign with them, I'll move to Orlando and have the Castle in my backyard. Yes, it will happen! I will MAKE it happen!

To start what will turn into an epic series of Disney paintings, I'm beginning with Sleeping Beauty. It's no secret that this is my favorite Disney movie, and Princess Aurora is my favorite Disney princess (I may be Tinkerbell, but every girl has their favorite princess!). I'm trying to do some creative and unique takes on these paintings, to hopefully catch Disney's eye. So, here we go!

This time I'll take you thru the whole process...

Here's the screen shot I started with...

And then after I performed some photo-shop magic.

Then, I put the above picture onto my iPad and prop it up on the table I paint on (propped against a mason jar of use I've got for the stuff!). This way I can keep glancing at the iPad while I sketch and paint.

I completely winged the entire background. I just put branches where I felt like it. I'm really happy with how I was able to give it some depth with various shades of gray for the trees. Totally didn't plan that until it happened!

And finally....

"Waiting For a Prince" - 18" x 24" Acrylic Original

I'd day it looks really close to my photo-shopped pic.. Here it is again for you to compare!

Next up, an interesting take on Cinderella.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Live Running Soundtrack

It's been awhile since I've caught you up on my running. Before Disney, I had my usual pre-vacation freak out that I would lose some of my speed/gain weight over the trip. This was followed by my usual post-first-run-after-vacation freak out (which inevitably sucks) that I've lost my speed and will never get back to where I was. Hi, my name is Tink, and I am insane.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn's hotel gym

I managed to get to the gym 2 mornings of our vacation for an hour bike ride each (not to mention oodles of crunches throughout the trip). Not that I needed it with all the walking we did each day, but it really pumped up my mood and made me feel like less of lazy bum when I was wolfing down peanut butter sundaes for dinner.

Watching Hurricane Sandy coverage on the morning news
My first run post-vacation wasn't bad, but wasn't great, either. And of course, I wouldn't allow myself to use vacation fatigue or the fact that we got home from the airport at 8:30pm the night before or that I had gotten up and gone to work before the run be an excuse. And the panic began.

But, this week I've had 2 awesome 9 milers! And yesterday, the high school orchestra was practicing Sousa marches while I ran! It's not every day you have a live orchestra accompanying your run!

At one point, some of the trombones were playing from the track too!

I've been working some extra hours this week, so not much painting getting done. I can't wait til the weekend when I can work more on my latest!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hoo Hoo

Finally! All 3 of my entries are done for the WOP Contest, wahoo! Here is
"The Owl":

I decided to do a black and white piece because I figured it would go with more paintings. Whoever the gallery picks to be the judge for the contest selects what pieces are part of the show. Their selecting is completely arbitrary, but they do try to make up some sort of theme as they choose. Black and white goes with everything, so hopefully this one will have at least half a chance.

The sketch
I've gotten really lazy with my sketches lately. I'm just doing the core sections and putting a lot of faith in my free-hand brush skills. At least it's improving my painting abilities, whoever said laziness was a bad thing?

And finally........

"The Owl" - 11" x 14" Acrylic
Not only did I finish this this weekend, I also completed my postcard for the Postcards from the Edge auction and started a super cool new Disney painting! Busy, busy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Disney October 2012

Why can't I just live here forever? Come on Disney, wake up and hire me as an artist already! You'd get all of my salary back anyway with all of the merchandise I'd buy!

Like this hoodie I sooooooo needed

We had a fantastic time on our exteneded weekend trip.

We met Sandy, when she was much calmer:
Flying above her
Getting poured on in Epcot

We ate:

They really need to work on portion sizes- this was way too small!
More peanut butter sauce, please!
And ate.....

Should've had more dinner
And we rode and rode and rode rides:

Space Mt.
Duped my friend into riding Thunder Mt.
Breaking rides!

And we even got a sneak peak at the New Fantasyland! Awesome!

Entrance to Ariel's Grotto

It was a fantastic trip and I'm already dreaming of the 2014 Disney Half when I can go back!