Favorites For Hot Summer Days

I love summers in Korea. They are incredibly hot and humid, but something about warm temperatures even at night and constant sunshine makes me feel all happy and cozy.

Here are my favorite things to survive those hot days on Jeju Island and make them enjoyable.

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Drawing my favorites, watercolors in a Canson sketchbook. Love doing these blog illustrations!

One quick tip for anyone trying to draw in a humid country: Beware of your paper absorbing air humidity or even the tiniest amount of sweat! I use a textile or at least tissue paper to cushion my hand while drawing, so my skin never touches the paper itself. I also use a plastic pouch to put my sketchbook into when going outdoors in humid weather. Once the paper absorbed some level of humidity, watercolors will get splotchy results.

Nut milks and vegan bakeries are on the rise in Korea, with new cafes and specialized stores popping up both in Seoul and on Jeju. I couldn't be happier!

Sweet and Delicious Vegan Summer Treats

Who craves sweets in summer? Winters have me go for stews and savory soups, but as temperatures rise, I develop a sweet tooth. And since out kitchen gets unbearably hot (as in, 40 degrees celsius during the day...) baking something myself isn't an option. I've been gravitating towards all kinds of nut milks in ice cold smoothies, and baked treats from all those vegan bakeries that have popped up in both Seoul and on Jeju. 

I'm not sure if it's related to veganism or just plain old lactose intolerance, but there are a lot of new cafes and bakeries offering dairy-free cakes and breads. I even found brownies made with silk tofu instead of butter in a small, unassuming bakery on Jeju. Nut milks are on the rise, too, and I've been drowning in walnut milk, hempseed milk and pistachio milk, which couldn't be more delicious!

Working from home and intermittent fasting are such a great combination. I've upped my productivity, free time and health ever since I started dabbling in IF and love how it makes me feel especially on hot summer days, when cooking is the last thing I want to do...

Intermittent Fasting on busy summer days...

I still plan on doing a longer blog post about intermittent fasting, but wanted to throw it into my summer favorites anyway. The mentioned SUPER HOT kitchen temperatures are one more reason to cook less in summer, and combined with automatically drinking more water during fasting periods, I just find the whole eating pattern of IF very suitable for summer. While I do crave more sweets in summer (ice cream, anyone?) I have less of an appetite when it's too hot overall, so this goes well with the one (or two) big meals a day pattern. 

My first try at intermittent fasting, documented in my bullet journal as a food diary and meal plan. I love looking back at it now - intermittent fating has become second nature, I do it without thinking and love all of its effects!

I'm also still amazed at how much time intermittent fasting saves. Working from home can make frequent trips to the kitchen way too tempting... And even just cooking, preparing, and cleaning up after several meals a day always took up too much time and mental space for me. I found it so much easier to just get started with work in the morning and to tackle all those smaller, annoying tasks right away with only a (large) mug of coffee as my companion.

I found my way back into Korean Dramas thanks to this!

Oh, Forest of Secrets. My K-Drama obsession from this summer. Maybe it was the pitch-perfect tone and directing, or the tight and riveting plot that didn't rely on cheap thrills or "Makjang", or the nuanced acting from the whole cast, or just the timeliness of the subject (bribery, intrigue, political favoritism) after the clusterf!@# of recent events in South Korea, this drama shot to the very top of my all-time favorites list. We watched the last two episodes with friends and cold makgeolli under a starry summer night sky and the whole experience was cathargic.
If you want to get a (relatively, it's still TV after all) realistic sense of life in Korea, of its business structures, and the bleakness one can feel when faced with large-scale corruption, while at the same time getting the suspense of a well-made crime thriller AND some truly lovely and hilarious characters and relationships, Forest of Secrets (or "Stranger" on Netflix) is the way to go! 

Cold and Mysterious Book Recommendation

Forest of Secrets had a cold atmosphere to it, with its somber color palette and bleak setting, and I took that theme and ran with it for my reading choices. Books set in the north, in wintery landscapes or fantastic ice worlds are the perfect mental air-conditioning when it's blazingly hot outdoors!

Some of my all-time favorites like the His Dark Materials trilogy or good ol' ASOIAF feature northern settings, and I've found a new book series that fits the same snowy bill. "The Bear and the Nightingale" is the first book in a new series based in Russian myths and fairytales. I didn't expect much (had the book in my Audible library for a while...) but the story had very interesting, nuanced characters, a lot of different and engaging POVs, a coming-of-age angle with all the time that went by, and it interweaves myth, religion, history and magic with a deft hand. I can't wait for the next part of the series!

K-Beauty Summer Skincare Favorite

Every. Single. Summer. Innisfree's Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is my favorite exfoliating wash-off mask. I use it about once a month in winter, and weekly during summer. Even on my desert-dry and sensitive skin, this mask provides just the right amount of gentle exfoliation, removing gunk and dirt (TMI) while leaving my skin soft and moisturized. 

Innisfree came out with multiple versions over the years, and while some are more convenient (mousse based) or have additional effects (their new color clay masks with purposes like brightening and calming) I always come back to the Super Volcanic Clay Mask in the end. 

Behold, the volcanic rocks of Jeju Island. :)

More food favorites! 

One is simple: FROZEN blueberries. I never get the fresh ones but buy large frozen bags to stuff into my freezer. A handful of ice-cold blueberries are the perfect topping for muesli, oatmeal, smoothies or.... I just eat them. Like tiny fake icecream balls. 

And then there's a tiny chocolate shop in our village Sehwa on Jeju Island, selling freshly roasted whole cacao beans and a delicious selection of handmade chocolates. The beans come directly from Ecuador and are roasted in the back room, leaving the air scented... 

While I love cacao nibs, my first bite of actual freshly roasted cacao beans was a whole new world of taste! I might have a bit of an obsessive problem with these by now. 

That's it for my summer favorites. Lots of food, cold fictional and not-so-fictional worlds, and fasting for more free time and less time spent cooking. 

My Early Summer K-Beauty, Food and Book Favorites

How do you keep the summer heat from getting to you? Are you looking forward to fall? 

Early Summer Favorites: Of Beauty, Books and Coffee

It happened: Summer is well and truly here! 
Which means, for my life in Korea: The time of humidity and heat awaits. 

In contrast with those looming summer months, May is a wonderful transition period. It's warm, sunny, invites for strolls outdoors and teases with not-yet overpopulated beaches here on Jeju Island.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. None of the products are sponsored. You can check out my disclaimer here. 

My illustrated May favorites on the blog!  Korean skincare and beauty from Innisfree and Sidmool, Korean calligraphy brushes, summer outfits, music and book favorites, healthy vegan food, tea and coffee - a round-up of all the things that brought me joy in early summer!

My mood was up, and as that seems to go hand-in-hand with actually taking care of myself, most of my favorites for this month are focused on health, relaxation, and good vibes all around.

Let's have a look! 

Healthy eating favorites on the blog: Hemp Seed Hearts adding that extra nutrition punch to my breakfast, and smoothie bowl ingredients (what to put into your Acai smoothie bowl!) for vegans or just health-conscious eaters!

In my ongoing quest to take better care of myself (oh, early twenties, when I could still pull all-nighters and eat crap without feeling like crap...) I added more healthy foods to my diet. 

And seriously, the difference. On days when I eat "healthy", getting in my nutrients and vitamins, I'm energized and don't have any food cravings at all. 

I've been loving hemp seeds especially. They work in both savory and sweet dishes - I can't stop putting these on oatmeal!

Another favorite of the last month is actually an older one... I once purchased Acai Smoothie Packs on a whim when they were on sale in Korea. They've been sitting in my freezer and I've been using them as an occasional treat. But! I just can't eat cold foods when it's cold outside, so I've pretty much forgotten about them during winter...
Now they're back with a vengeance! The strong aroma of acai berry works really well when mixed with other Vegan-friendly supplements like nutritional yeast powder or spirulina. I actually find that the acai smoothies taste better with the added tartness of nutritional yeast - so instead of trying to 'hide' the supplements, it enhances them. 

Here on Jeju Island, and in South Korea in general, the typical summer dessert is "Bingsu"; shaved ice flakes. While traditionally just shaved ice and red bean paste (plus rice cakes), it's now pretty much impossible to find a place that doesn't make their flakes from milk, has ice cream or condensed milk added... so smoothie bowl desserts are my way to stay sane. 

Delicious, luxurious tea and coffee favorites... Who thought that instant coffee couldn't taste great?  My favorites are illustrated and up on the blog!

Iguacu Coffee and Lemon & Lime Tea for Summer

I've finally opened an old package of this Ahmad Tea Lemon & Lime Twist Black Tea last month and love it so much! It's got a light black tea base with the perfect hint of lemon and lime, without tasting like detergent - something most lemon-scented products remind me of. 
Since lemons (and even more so, limes) are expensive on Jeju, I reach for this instead of actual lemon juice. This also makes for a great iced tea!

On the coffee front, while I do help out at the cafe most days and enjoy my freshly ground coffee as much as anyone, sometimes I'm just lazy and want a quick fix. 
My husband ordered the Iguacu instant coffee online and I've never had a better instant one in my life. It has none of the artificial acidity and instead leans towards nutty. I drink my coffee black and without sweetener, so getting the basic coffee taste just right is my pet peeve! 
This one is so delicious, it's a beast of its own, and while I have "normal" coffee in the morning, most afternoons I gravitate towards this instead - and it's even better when served ice-cold! Please, you rare coffee from Brazil, never be empty.

As the seasons change, here come new Korean skincare and makeup favorites. My monthly round-up is up on the blog - hop over there to find my recommendations for natural, effective and gentle Korean beauty products perfect for summer!   

Korean Skincare & Makeup for Changing Seasons

Ah, skincare and summer. As the seasons change I can happily remove some of the heavier moisturizers from my skincare routine. 

Instead, I use several lighter layers to customize my skincare to the mood my skin is in (angry beast? deprived wasteland? happy, glowing thing?) and make sure I still get the benefits of those heavier products without the pore-clogging that is imminent in summer.

On top of my other Korean beauty favorites, I've used the Sidmool Pure Bifida Ampoule a lot. It's very lightweight, nourishing, makes my skin look bouncy and poreless for a day, and works really well under makeup and sunscreen. Also, I got it as a 2-for-1 set and the bottles are huge, so I don't feel guilty when I slather it on. 
Sidmool is a natural, cruelty-free Korean skincare brand that has some amazing staple products that work great for my dry, sensitive skin. 

My old friend Innisfree had a sale event, too, and while I just wanted a concealer and lip tint, I returned with a blush and a ton of samples, too. Among those samples were several of their new Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Masks, which are WAY too much fun.
If you're into Korean skincare at all, you probably know the Innisfree Volcanic Clay Mask. It's been a bestseller for years and I've been using it ever since I first ventured into K-Beauty myself, since it's so gentle and doesn't dry the skin while still clearing it as a clay mask should.

Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Masks - Image from innisfree's official Korean website. You can mix and match the different versions for a custom mask experience!

Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Masks - Image from innisfree's official Korean website.
You can mix and match the different versions for a custom mask experience!

So it would make sense for Innisfree to build on that success: They released colored versions with different purposes like "Brightening", "Vitalizing", "Trouble Care"... 
I've tried three of them (each sample gave me about 2-3 applications) and really enjoyed the "Hydration" and "Soothing" version, blue and violet respectively. Still clay masks, the gel/cream textures are easier to apply and wash off, and they do what the name says. I've been moving away from sheet masks since the packaging and plastic waste bothered me, so these two masks are a great alternative for a quick moisturizing and calming mask. 

The last product I got was a lip tint, the Innisfree Vivid Cotton Ink Lip Tint, another new release, in a bright reddish coral hue that screams SUMMER!! in all-caps. The tint mousse dries to a matte finish but is neither drying nor heavy - just a feather-light punch of very intense color. Also, this smells like peaches. Did I mention that it's perfect for summer? Yup. 

The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers : Favorite books for May, my book reviews of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and the follow-up A Closed and Common Orbit.

The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers -

Favorite Sci-Fi Reads

The Wayfarer series (or rather, the two connected books that are set in the Wayfarer universe?) is adorable.
Doesn't mean that the books aren't also deeply moving, full of suspense and well thought-out. But really, reading both The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Book 1, or the Main Book) and A Closed and Common Orbit (the loosely connected second book) just took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Becky Chambers has a way of telling stories that make you invested in the characters from page one and leaving you completely satisfied with all her narrative decisions. Doesn't mean that everything is sunshine and rainbows (on the contrary, especially Common Orbit had me devastated in places) but in the end, each and every character of her varied, diverse (alieeeens!) cast is in a different place from where they started, has changed and grown and taken their lives in their own hands (claws/tentacles/appendixofchoice), for better or worse. 

If you're new to science fiction, these books are a wonderful starting place. They have this vast sense of wonder that I love the genre for, without going heavy on technicalities. 

If you already love science fiction, these books are still wonderful. And a perfect read for summer!
I read Small and Angry Planet months ago and plan on re-reading it next month after enjoying its sequel/companion novel so much in May. 

The Long Way to a Small Angry Audiobook

Closed and Common Orbit Audiobook

My old, trusted Nikon 1 J1 camera. I've had so much more fun with photography thanks to starting a blog! I experiment and take a lot more pictures, and hope to get into more travel blogging this summer, too. 

A short one: I love my camera! Blogging has made me experiment more, has me take it along on trips and to take food pics - instead of only using my phone. 
And the Nikon 1 J1 is tiny, lightweight and turning the lens to zoom instead of pushing buttons is so satisfactory! I've had it for five years and its sturdy (I'm known to drop things...), perfect for traveling and taking pictures without too much of a fuss. 

Monthly favorites, illustrations on the blog!  Life in Korea, summer outfits, art supplies and a positive K-Pop surprise...

Last but not least, a couple of very Korean things I've loved in May. 

I rarely buy new clothes, keeping to the same staples (lots of grays and blues...), but I finally got a couple of linen pieces! From a shop called "Common Unique", where I'd buy every single piece of clothing if my bank account would allow, they make me feel all ready for summer, especially since I went for bright yellows and sky blue this time! 

My watercolor sketching obsession continues, and I've been experimenting more with Korean calligraphy brushes. The bristles are rougher than my usual aquarelle brushes, but they allow for both very precise and very broad color application with one and the same brush. I'm still practicing but definitely recommend checking out some Korean/Chinese brushes!

Now, while I live in Korea and love the country, I rarely find music (or TV dramas, for that matter...) that really appeal to me. 
In May, while on a little trip around the island, the song "Pattern" by Lee Haeri played on the radio and I immediately fell in love! Her voice is so versatile, I initially searched the song up online as "female duo" - it really sounds like two different people singing at times. (And yes, Lee Haeri is actually part of a duo called "Davichi", but this was her solo release.)
The song is laid back but with a nice tempo, bass and lots of dynamic. Most Korean ballads bore me to tears (they're lovely, but still...!) so this was such a nice change of pace and style! 

Quick sketch for my portrait practice challenge! I need to draw more portraits or I'll never improve...

Here's a quick sketch I made based on her (fail @facial features) as part of my portrait drawing challenge.

I'm trying to get more informed on what's going on musically and on TV here in Korea, and even found a drama that I enjoy without cringing haha... 

My summer favorites round-up on the blog. Science fiction reads & reviews, K-Beauty, coffee, healthy food and art supplies!

That's it for my early summer favorites in beauty, books, food, music... as always, a mixed bag. What did you enjoy in May? Do you have Korean singers to recommend - with a similar style as Lee Haeri in Pattern? Could I convince you to give those two Sci-fi darlings a try? 

Have a lovely June and thank you so much for reading and commenting! Blogging has been such a joy ever since I started in January and I'm grateful to all you lovely people. <3