March Favorites - Korean Beauty, Food and Strange The Dreamer
I'm SO late, but here are my favorites for March!
Well, it's not like I just stop liking something after a month has gone by, so these are still relevant.
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Favorite Foods and Drinks
It's strawberry time here on Jeju and we're buying them in bulk at the 5-Day-Market (the local equivalent of a farmer's market). Any kind of berry is normally very expensive here, so eating strawberries pretty much every week feels so luxurious!
My favorite drink lately has been smoothies in general, but without a good blender (I get choppy bits instead of, well, smooth smoothies) my ingredient selection is a bit limited. What works best is anything 'creamy' like bananas, soy milk and the mentioned above overripe strawberries.
And then there's my secret ingredient for when I don't have soy milk on hand: Misugaru / 미숫가루 , a popular blend of different grain powders widely available here in Korea. A tablespoon of this mixed with water and maybe half a banana makes for a nutty, satisfying smoothie, and the powder is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals (I don't consume any protein powders, so this is my cheap/natural alternative).
It also works wonderfully with vegetable-heavy smoothies, balancing out any bitterness and absorbing excess water.
Misugaru is also great on its own, mixed with just water. I really want to buy some special powder variations to add to my basic supermarket mix - something like black bean powder, or black sesame Misugaru... Misugaru lattes are delicious, especially when served ice-cold in summer!
Then, there's the joy of finally having Netflix. When Netflix first launched in Korea about a year ago, the selection of shows was still very limited, but now I finally caved so that I could put my husband on a 'The Expanse' season 1 marathon - which then quickly expanded (haha...) into watching ALL THE THINGS. We managed the whole season of Stranger Things in three evenings and loved it so much! The nostalgia wasn't even a factor - we both have no connection to the US of that time, but the show itself was just so well made and the children were both adorable and badass!
Since I can't just sit still while watching something, I actually sketched a lot with my Shinhan Watercolors during March!
Something else to do while marathoning Netflix shows: Exercise!
I loved the 'Ballet Beautiful' series for that. The videos are intense (wayyy more intense than you'd guess...) but mostly, you stay in just one place without hopping around, so these are great for keeping your eyes on a screen... #multitasking
By now, I know that Swan Arms video by heart and actually see a difference in my fat/muscles, yay!
For beauty and fashion, I was keeping it simple and quick since my work schedule was quite tense towards the end of the month, especially.
I've been using the Eye Contouring Stick by Innisfree in #2 'Sweet Milk Chocolate' pretty much every day. It's the perfect shade to look completely natural on my lids while providing a hint of color. It hides discoloration (...anyone else having visible veins on their lids?) and doesn't budge all day long. It also makes any eyeliner I apply on top stick around even longer!
I also found the perfect skirt to work in - which means drawing while being on standby to help out if there are too many clients at the cafe, so I want to be both comfortable and presentable. It's nearly knee-length, has both a zipper in the back AND stretchy material on the side, is super comfortable when sitting down on the floor (plus point here in Korea) and IT HAS POCKETS. As in, actual pockets that are big enough for my phone. I've been waiting for this!
Also, high-waist skirts always make me feel put-together and the sky-blue color of this one was perfect for spring.
Now, for my Audible audiobook choice of the month. I was so torn! I re-listened to some old favorites and nearly finished two other, longer books in March, but I really wanted to mention "Strange The Dreamer" by Laini Taylor. I'd been waiting for the release with my breath held. Books by Laini Taylor are beautifully written and great binge-reads, if sometimes a bit wonky when it comes to plot/pacing. Listening to the audiobook was like day-dreaming!
The first... 95% of the book definitely delivered. I loved the world building - Laini Taylor has this way of creating worlds that actually feel wondrous and fantastical, instead of just doing the 'insert generic fantasy setting with one specific point of interest here' thing. The POV was refreshingly humorous without being snarky and there was an atmosphere of mystery and longing woven into the plot. Also, her writing is so beautiful without going into flowery!
The pacing was great! The book cut out unnecessary time periods, jumping ahead and looking back at just the right moments to keep me always curious. And the characters were lovingly developed, from protagonist to antagonist.
STILL SPOILER ALERT!
The ending though? Fell totally flat for me. I don't want to get into too many spoilery details, but the last chapters of the book felt like a slightly distorted retelling of the Akiva/Madrigal backstory from 'Daugther of Smoke and Bone', which wouldn't even have bugged me that much (there were little fun nods towards that trilogy all throughout the book) if the theme and conflict weren't so very similar, too. I'd loved our simple human hero Lazlo Strange and while the reveal of his true identity at the end didn't come unexpected, it took away much of my enjoyment of seeing him aspire to great, heroic deeds while staying kind, humble and creative - and most of all, human.
I'll still get the next installment of the series, and still, recommend the book as a whole (especially if you're a first time Laini Taylor reader) but the suddenly very melodramatic romance and character-theme-switch bugged me. A lot. Like, legitimate anger at the last three or so chapters. I'm so conflicted because I LOVED most of it so much I want to recommend this book to everyone (that's why I'm posting here) while really disliking that part only.
But hey, that's personal, and everything else is great, so give it a listen and maybe you'll like the ending, too!
I even drew fanart for it as part of my #100daysofportraits challenge starting in April, so the book, setting and characters definitely hit my sweet spot. Fingers crossed for the next book, in any case!