south carolina

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #47: Irish Car Bombs, K-Pop, and the Sesquicentennial State Park

This week we got to celebrate our friends Sam and Laura who are both in Jonathan’s program and both happened to have birthdays this past week. We had all of the first year students in Jonathan’s discipline over for dinner, which sounds magnanimous of us, but there are only four of them, and also Sam cooked dinner even though it was his birthday. I did make fancy Irish Car Bomb cupcakes in celebration which were delicious if I do say so myself although they led to me gaining 3 lbs in the week before Thanksgiving – not ideal timing.

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Then we made our friends watch K-Pop videos like this one for hours. (Side note: I miss Korea so much).

Fall is in full swing here in South Carolina and I have been pleasantly surprised by how much the leaves have changed colors. Where I grew up in Louisiana (which is even further south for you non-Americans) the leaves don’t really change colors. This is partially due to the large amount of evergreens that grow there and partly because the weather stays relatively warm all year round with just a few cold spells instead of properly changing into a whole season of new temperatures. When we lived in North Carolina a few years ago, the falls were exquisite. The days were crystal clear and crisp and the leaves were brilliant. I wasn’t sure what to expect from South Carolina which feels more similar to my hometown than to Raleigh, so I’m excited to report that South Carolina does indeed get a bit of fall -at least my part of it does.

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We’ve been meaning to check out some of the parks in our new homeland for a while now. In Korea we enjoyed hiking and taking walks on the weekend which we were able to do even though we lived in a big city. Here there is more nature all around, but as far as I know there aren’t trails or lakes within the city that you can run on or around the way there were in Raleigh and even Daegu. This means going out to enjoy nature requires an intentional trip.

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After church on Sunday we drove for about 25 minutes to the Sesquicentennial State Park. There aren’t any mountains or even significant hills there so we took a walk more than a hike, but it was still lovely to get out on a such a beautiful day.

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I was very proud of how tall I looked next to this tiny tree…if only you couldn’t see those slightly bigger trees in the background…

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Jonathan was grumpy. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure it was my fault. I’m super annoying sometimes.

The one downside to the Sesquicentennial State Park is that we had to pay $2 per person as an entrance fee. I know that’s not a lot of money, but I still think it’s lame since that’s something we theoretically pay taxes for anyway. Also it sort of rules out the possibility of using it as a regular running spot.

There are lots and lots of pine trees in South Carolina (and in this park in particular) which don’t do anything in the fall except make a great mess of pine needles, but there still enough red and orange and yellow trees sprinkled in to make it scenic. We’ll have to check it out in other seasons and report back.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my trip to Sparkletown and celebrating Friendsgiving, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

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Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 42: South Carolina State Fair

The first fall that we lived in Raleigh we learned  that the North Carolina State Fair was an event that was not to be missed. If it hadn’t been for the excitement of our friends who were Carolina natives I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the fair. In the US, most states have some sort of state fair, including Louisiana where I grew up, but the size and importance of the fair seems to vary from place to place. My memories of the Cajun Heartland State Fair which I’d attended a few times in elementary school were mostly of the carnival-type rides and spending all of my money on the game booth where you toss ping pong balls into fish bowls to win a live goldfish. One year I won three fish. After that my family stopped going to the fair. (Coincidence? I think not!)

The North Carolina State Fair was a different beast entirely. There were animal shows and art exhibits and craft tents. There were lights you could see from miles away and a huge fireworks display every evening. But the crowning achievement of the NC State fair was undoubtedly their selection of deep-fried foods. It seemed the unspoken goal of the fair was for competing vendors to figure out more and more inventive things to deep fry. Forget about corn dogs and chicken nuggets. We are talking fried mac and cheese, fried peanut butter and jelly, fried candy bars, fried Twinkies, and even fried Kool-aid. It was a feast made to clog even the healthiest of arteries.

This past week the South Carolina State Fair rolled into town here in Columbia. Having such fond (if strange) memories of the NC State Fair, we decided to see how it measured up. We went with our friends, Sam and Marya, on Friday afternoon. In our experience the fair gets crowded at night, so going in the middle of the afternoon meant we didn’t have to wade through a crush of humanity running around with foot-long corn dogs on skewers that could second as spears.

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We headed towards the animal exhibits where we arrived just in time for a good old-fashioned pig race. The picture isn’t great, but there are three pigs running around this pen. Pig #1 won by a mile, just for the record.

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Next we looked at some of the animals that had been submitted by their owners for prizes. This always reminds me of the part in Charlotte’s Web where Mr. Zuckerman takes Wilbur to the state fair. There was a wide variety of cows and chickens, but my favorite animal was, for obvious reasons, this rabbit with the killer cat-eye.

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After we’d had enough of the animals we decided to try out the food samplings. There were tons of booths, but we weren’t overly impressed with the deep-fried selection. In the end, we got a gyro and a lemonade and vowed to continue the search for a deep-fried dessert.

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Only in America, man.

We set out to explore the rest of the fair with our eyes peeled for the fried candy bars, but we couldn’t find them. We finally asked at the information booth where all the good stuff was and the girl working there directed us to a lone food cart offering a selection of fried candy bars, oreos, red velvet oreos, and cookie dough. We weren’t wowed by their inventiveness, but we got some oreos and cookie dough anyway. They were delicious, even though I could feel my thighs expanding with each bite.

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I don’t know that the SC State Fair lived up to the NC State Fair, but it was still fun, even though I’m still trying to burn off the calories I ingested.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about the trials of tutoring, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty Two Weeks of Adventure # 38: Farmer’s Market and Greek Festival

The calendar says it’s fall, but Columbia hasn’t gotten the memo yet. It’s continued to hit the 90’s here most days, but since I have the ability to spend most of my time in air conditioned buildings or cars (unlike in Korea where it was equally hot but without much air conditioning), I can’t complain too much. It’s also been beautifully clear with brilliant blue skies almost every day (also a huge contrast to Korea which is frequently hazy even on sunny days) so I’ve been inspired to get out and do a little exploring.

The Soda City Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday morning in downtown Columbia. I love farmer’s markets. Back in Raleigh there is a huge, permanent farmer’s market that’s open every day with an especially big one on Saturdays. In Korea, there were two markets within walking distance of our apartment and I often got our fruits and vegetables there. The Soda City Farmer’s Market has a fun atmosphere with a combination of fresh produce, baked goods, food trucks/stalls, and art, jewelry, and crafts made by local artisans.
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The most unique part of this market compared with others I’ve been to was a produce stand that allowed you to take a box and fill it as full as you could with whatever produce items you wanted. It was $10 for the entire box and there was a good variety of fruits and veggies to choose from that all came from a local farm.
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I managed to pack in corn, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, a spaghetti squash, yellow squash, apples, peaches, an eggplant, and some mushrooms.
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I had a moment of nostalgia when I passed this tent selling Korean food. It was only about 10 AM so I wasn’t ready to eat, otherwise I would have been all over that mandu!
Sorry to the lady who was standing right there while I was trying to get a picture of the menu board!

Sorry to the lady who was standing right there while I was trying to get a picture of the menu board!

In the afternoon we went to the Greek Festival which was going on all weekend long at the Greek Orthodox Church.
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My dad is Greek and I grew up eating Greek food so it’s always a little nostalgic to me to eat it. The festival was packed but the gyros we ended up with were well worth the wait.
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We also got to see a little Greek dancing.
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I’d heard rumors of a baklava sundae, but couldn’t find it anywhere so we didn’t end up having any desserts. Probably for the best considering all the yummy foods we’ve been indulging in lately and the fact that I have a bridesmaid’s dress to fit into for a Very Important Wedding this weekend!

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure teaching the 7th grade you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

 

What I’m Into: August 2015 Edition

I think this month may be a record for cramming the most experiences into just 31 days. I can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that I was still living and working in South Korea at the beginning of the month. If I had to sum it up I’d say what I’ve been into this month is change. Also reverse culture shock. It’s a real thing. Linking up with Leigh Kramer for this slightly belated post.

What I’m Reading:

I haven’t read anything (other than a few pages here and there) since arriving in the US August 14th. I’ve been too busy for leisure reading and too tired at the end of the day for more than a few sentences before I fall asleep. However, I just got my Richland County Library card today so game on!

MIS85-2At the beginning of August I read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield which was recommended to me by a friend. I had such mixed feelings about this book. Butterfield recounts her radical conversion from an atheist lesbian feminist activist who was a tenured professor in Gay and Lesbian Studies at the University of Syracuse. To me, the most interesting part of this portion of the book was the beginning where she writes about the ways she came to find Christianity compelling over a long period of time and the Christians who were in her life who were loving and gracious towards her rather than pushy and judgmental. In later chapters, however, Butterfield strays from her personal experiences and more or less makes arguments for some of her (incredibly conservative) views such as complementarianism, Psalm-only worship, and homeschooling, none of which are views I share.

51gCHV1OdGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Next I read Emily P. Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl, which I’d been wanting to read for a long time. As another self-professed “good girl” who lived most of my life in fear of rocking the boat, striving for perfection and placing my identity in my own goodness, this book resonated with me. I expected this book to be more conversational or memoir-esque than it was and I wish I’d heard more personal input from the author, but hey, that means the market is still open for a book like that. ; )

DSB_final_6_1I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy of the same name. I’m now a little more than halfway through the second book in the trilogy with hopes of finishing soon now that life is settling down a bit. I’d heard great reviews of these books, but I admit that it took me a while to get into. As in, I was at least halfway through the first book before I was like, “Dear goodness, I am so glad I stuck with this because now I can’t put it down!”

I’m planning to finish the second book in the trilogy (Days of Blood & Starlight) and then finally read The Little Prince which I now own a copy of thanks to my incredibly kind and generous reader, Duncan, who sent it to me all the way from Australia. (Seriously humbled by how kind and thoughtful many of you are).

What I’m Watching:

Before leaving Korea we saw Mission Impossible 5 in theaters. Always fun. On the plane I watched The Age of Adaline. It had a very Benjamin Button vibe. I could dig it. Also I’m also really into Michiel Huisman who plays the love interest (my experience with him mostly being based on his role in Nashville). 

I’ve continued my guilty pleasure Gossip Girl re-watch kick lately. It’s a ridiculous show, but Chuck and Blaire, man. Chuck and Blaire. I blame my cat, Bart, who loves watching GG with me, especially on the nights that Jonathan’s in class. We’ve also continued to watch Frasier together (Jonathan and I, not Bart and I).

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix.

What I’m Listening To:

The radio! Who knew the radio could be so fun?! I’ve probably got about one week left before I’ve reached the saturation point since they do play the same songs over and over, but for now I’m still jamming to Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and Walk the Moon. And I feel that Ed Sheeran and I are in a committed relationship. Also George Ezra. I love “Budapest.” It gives me all the feels.

What I’m Eating:

All the western foods, naturally. I also felt compelled to try out the limited edition Lays chip flavors that are out right now for the Do Us a Flavor competition where America votes on the next permanent flavor (which is funny cause I’m not a big chip eater normally). The four options are West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Greektown Gyros, and New York Reuben. I’ve tried the first three so far and the Truffle Fries are hands-down the winner.

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Otherwise, we are eating turkey everything. There is no turkey in Korea so we’ve been having turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers, and turkey bacon to our hearts’ content. Ooh, and cheese. And Greek yogurt.

I’ve gained like 4 pounds. Worth it.

On the Internets:

Mmmm, I haven’t really done much internet viewing/reading this month. But you can always count on Jamie the Very Worst Missionary for something good. This post is called “Actually, I Can Judge You.”

This post from Addie Zierman on “All the Crooked, Half-Healed Places.”

This funny post from The Toast on “The Comment Section on Every Article Ever Written About Breastfeeding”

And this guest post from Eleanor Rooke on unexpected sacred spaces and everyday monotony.

On the Blog:

Not so much, really. I did have a satirical piece published over at Arise (Christians for Biblical Equality) called “Acting Like a Lady.” Otherwise I kept up with my 52 Weeks of adventure with a few final Korean adventures (here and here and here) and a my first American adventure (here). I did a Book Chat on what’s on my Amazon wish list and made two lists – Top 10 Things I’ll Miss About Korea followed by Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About Korea.

I’m (hopefully) back to more regular blogging now and hope to use this space to process our ongoing transition, reverse culture shock, impressions of America after two years away, and what it looks like to build a new community.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Moving, obviously. : ) Spending time with family, seeing some friends who live in the Carolinas, traveling to Wisconsin for an epic roommate reunion, painting and decorating our new place only to have the landlord call us one week into our lease and say that they got an offer from someone who wants to buy our condo and they want us to move out. (Yes, I’m serious. More on that later).

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Interviewing. Trying to find a job/jobs. Having one job I was counting on fall through. Meeting the other people in Jonathan’s MFA program. (He’s finishing his second full week of classes today). Exploring our new city and trying a few restaurants. Going back and forth to the DMV four times in one morning to get all the documents necessary to get a South Carolina driver’s license and register our cars. Getting our cats back from their long-term cat sitter. (Bart has gotten fat. Ruthie looks the same. Their personalities are largely unchanged).

Getting another Korea-related fungal ear infection and spending my first week in Columbia finding an ENT and being treated with purple dye in my ear which stained everything it touched a brilliant violet. Joining a women’s Bible study with about 20 women of various ages who are all mothers except for me. Which has launched me back into my semi-annual soul-searching on the question – Kids, for or against? (Ultimately irrelevant right now since we have no income).

I’m exhausted.  And excited. And anxious. And overwhelmed. And happy. And looking forward to a September that is hopefully less eventful.

How was the end of your summer?