Recipe: The best BAKED BANANA AND BLUEBERRY OATMEAL you will ever have

I love oatmeal: so filling, so good, and so cheap! Check out this great breakfast recipe that will fill up anyone’s tummy, especially your soldier’s after morning PT! Don’t worry, there will be plenty of leftovers to enjoy all week long! Check out #6 on baking directions for how to turn this everyday oatmeal into a July 4th breakfast!

blueberryBlueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (3ish bananas)

2 eggs

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups milk

2 1/2 cup old fashioned oats

8 oz frozen blueberries (or fresh if they are in season)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray 8 X 8 baking dish with cooking spray

2. Mash bananas in large bowl

3. Add to large bowl: eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract and whisk until all the ingredients are mixed

4. Add milk and whisk again

5. Stir in oats until blended with the mixture

6. Add blueberries, right before you put the oatmeal in the oven, and stir them into the mixture (If you add the blueberries too early before baking you will have blue oatmeal. This would work for the fourth of July, though, and you could sprinkle strawberries on top! BAM, a July 4th oatmeal bake)

7. Pour oatmeal into the prepared 8X8 baking dish

8. Cook for 45 minutes or until the top is brown and no longer squishy when touched

Originally recipe from Budget Bytes

Fourth of July Pinterest Finds

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Pinterest makes holiday idea hunting way easier. Here are some of my favorite finds on my favorite website to waste time on for Independence Day!

cupcakesHead over to The Little Style File for crafts, snacks, and even outfits for the 4th! I personally love the cupcakes, YUM! I am going to have to try them out with my new Pampered Chef icing decorator.

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I love the Six Sisters Stuff blog! Go over and check out 35 fun 4th of July recipes on their site! The truffle looks SOOOO good!

eggsI know it’s shocking since I hate mayo, but I LOVE deviled eggs. There’s a really cute and easy 4th of July deviled eggs recipe on the Singing through the Rain blog, just don’t leave them in the sun too long, or they’ll get nasty!

4thHow great is this Jello idea? I love any recipe that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven in the summer. Who can say no to Jello? I know I can’t. You can find the recipe at Craftaholics Anonymous.

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The Crafted Sparrow put together a great list of 30 places to find July 4th printables. Printables are such an easy way to decorate your house. This one is my favorite and it’s FREE over at The Scrap Shoppe Blog.

This is our second and last July 4th in Korea. It just doesn’t feel like Independence Day for us while living here. I can not wait to go to tons of parades and fireworks shows when we are back in the States next year. I also can’t wait to have a grill again. Hot dogs and burgers made on the George Foreman just don’t taste the same.

Cheonggyecheon Stream: Seoul, South Korea

Sometimes cities are just full of buildings, and sometimes they’re not. A fun place to visit on a hot day, or any day really, is the Cheonggyecheon Stream that runs right through downtown Seoul. Get away for lunch, or get away for a few hours on the weekend, to enjoy some peace and quiet. Go ahead, take your shoes off and dip them in the stream, I won’t tell anyone.

Adults and children of all ages will love walking along the river, enjoying the scenery, and soaking up some sun and culture.

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Directions: take Seoul Subway line 1 or 2 to the City Hall exit. There are also other places to get off and see the stream, check them out over here.

Book Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

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Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is knee-slapping funny, as well as sexy. It would make a great beach read or even a motivational gym read.

Holly Brennan never thought she would find love. When she met Bruce, she wasn’t just happy, but also relieved that she wouldn’t have to spend the rest of her life alone. After being married for eight years, Bruce died from illness and left Holly with a mansion, a BMW, and tons of money. Money couldn’t buy happiness or even love, but it could buy a personal trainer.

Holly is overweight and is right on the verge of requiring two seats on an airplane. When traveling back from Toronto, tying up the last of her late husband’s estate, she meets Logan Montgomery: tall, dark, and handsome. Not only is he in perfect shape, but he actually ends up being a really nice guy, after insulting her weight with his eyes.

Logan offers to become Holly’s personal trainer because he feels bad for judging her and also because he hasn’t been feeling challenged enough when working with sports stars and movie stars. Reluctantly, Holly accepts and begins her training three days a week. Holly is not only challenging herself physically, but also emotionally when it comes to the rich and famous Logan Montgomery.

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I was intrigued. Not only did the synopsis sound interesting, but also because Stephanie Evanovich is a Jersey girl, just like me. I love supporting local authors by bringing their novel to the attention of my readers.

Big Girl Panties is hilarious. From the moment I picked it up to the moment I put it down, I couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t read this book fast enough, it was that good. I loved the relationship between Holly and Logan. Their relationship evolved throughout the novel at a natural pace that screamed perfection. I also loved the tie in of baseball. Any romance novel with hints of baseball in it is an A+ in my book.

I found Holly to be very inspiring. She had been overweight her whole life, but what took her over the edge was the death of her husband. After his death, she reached obesity, but then recognized that she needed to do something about it. Meeting Logan on the plane was perfect timing. She was able to displace all of her emotions and focus of getting into shape. Her goal wasn’t to be the skinniest girl in the room, but her goal was to be happy and healthy; which is what exercise should be all about.

The only part of the story that I found very strange is the obsession that Logan’s best friend, Chase, has with spanking. I never really understood the whole S&M obsession with people, which is why I never read 50 Shades of Grey, and I found myself mildly disturbed with the spanking scenes in this novel. Amanda, Chase’s wife, reluctantly took her spankings when she was being “bad.” This totally blew my mind; but hey, to each their own.

The best lesson that comes from this novel is that you have to love yourself. Holly learns that being a certain size isn’t important. What’s important is loving yourself, no matter what, so that others can love you too.

Big Girl Panties will be available on July 9, 2013. Head over to Amazon and pre-order your copy today.

I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

sinceSince You Asked by Maurene Goo takes place in one of my favorite beach towns, San Diego, California. Holly Kim is a typical teenager who just wants to survive high school. She is not only American, but also Korean. Being an American teenager is hard enough, but Holly is learning that being Korean- American is even harder.

Carrie, Liz, and David are Holly’s three best friends; the foursome is inseparable. At the start of their sophomore year, Holly mistakenly submits an article to her high school newspaper, the one she edits for her Journalism class. Chaos ensues and her mistake turns into one of the best things that has ever happened to her, her own monthly column in the newspaper.

Since You Asked sounds like my Live Journal from high school. Holly basically has the same opinions of high school as I did: boring and useless. Although looking back, those really were some of the best years of my life; try telling that to 15 year old me and/or Holly and you’d probably get whacked in the head with a coat hanger, just like Holly’s traditional Korean mother does to her.

I really loved Holly’s newspaper column. As each month of Holly’s sophomore year begins, her article reflects the upcoming events; whether it’s homecoming, student government, Thanksgiving,  Christmas, or Valentine’s Day,  Holly has something witty to say. From crushes to parties, from the cool kids to crazy parents, from battle of the bands to band geeks, this novel covers it all.

Some of the funniest parts of the book that really had me laughing were all of the references to Korean culture and Asian parents in general. Since I’m living in Korea, I found some of the stereotypes to be highly amusing. Several times I was laughing at how Maurene Goo put so many subtle Korean references into the story; references I may have overlooked if it weren’t for the fact that I have been immersed in this culture for so long.

The only issue I have with this novel is how the dialogue is a little lame. I can’t imagine real high school kids talking like that. The conversations between characters are very dry, which confused me. Maurene Goo’s writing is so spot on with how I thought back in high school, but when it came to the dialogue, I felt like I was watching an episode of ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager (which is not a good thing.)

I love reading Young Adult literature, even though I am 26 years old, but I can’t say that many adults would love this book as much as I did, unless they were an avid YA reader, like myself. I can move past the dry dialogue and focus on the mushy high school love scenes, but I don’t think many adults could relate to this story as much as they can to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I would definitely recommend this book to middle school readers and high school readers, which is who the book is intended for. Maurene Goo really captures what high school is all about: having great friends, surviving all the fights with your parents, and making it to college.

Amazon says that Maurene Goo’s debut novel will be available June 25, but Maurene Goo’s website says July 1, either way, head over to Amazon and pre-order your copy today!

I want to send a special thanks to Scholastic for sending me an ARC all the way to South Korea so that I could review it.

Seoul Grand Park: Rose Garden in Seoul, South Korea

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I know you love my hat. I bought it after exiting the subway station. There is a long row of food vendors and touristy things, leading up to the ticket booth for the park.

Last year, Jim and I discovered how amazing the Rose Garden is in Seoul Grand Park. The Rose Garden is located right across from the Seoul Zoo. I did a review about the garden last year, but I decided that it’s worth mentioning again. Also, now that my husband has a super-duper awesome camera and takes beautiful photos, I can steal them, THANKS JIM!

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DSC_0170Since my name is Rose, I obviously have an attraction to roses. The first time we saw this place from the outside, we thought it would be small. Even though this was our third time going, we were still amazed by the large variety of roses and the size of the grounds itself, where you can just take a picnic and hang out all day.

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Included in your admission price (2,000 Won) is the petting zoo. There are a lot of smaller animals there for smaller children to get up close and personal with. Unlike the Seoul Zoo, all of the animals are in a smaller space so a lot less walking is involved. There are also a lot of water fountains that children will enjoy playing in at the garden, so bring a change of clothes for the kiddos!

Hurry up at head on over to the Rose Garden! The roses will be taking a nap for the rest of the year after June 30!

Directions: take the Seoul Subway Line 4 to Seoul Grand Park station

Rosie’s Favorite Quotes: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

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Even thought I didn’t L-O-V-E The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, I still loved her writing style and how just a simple line could turn into a lovely quote.

Whatever you need, I will find a way to get it to you. I will give you the moon, and more. – Pg. 22

Your past holds on to everything, apparently, even your gut. – Pg. 33

It seemed like things either stayed just the same or changed irrevocably. And like most times I found myself with hard choices, I just wished there was something clear and easy, right in between. Pg. 143

Everything had started in such sharp detail, each aspect pronounced and clear. Obviously, endings were different. Harder to see , full of shapes that could be one thing or another, with all the things that you were once so sure of suddenly not familiar, if they were even recognizable at all. – Pg. 161

Like destinations, in general, were vastly overrated. And maybe they were. As long as you were moving, you were always going somewhere. – Pg. 175

It takes so little to change everything. If you really thought about it, it would scare you to death. – Pg. 187

It’s always very pure, that last moment before an ugly unsettling truth hits someone. The most stark of before-and-afters. – Pg. 216

You think it’s all obvious and straightforward, this world. But really, it’s all in who is doing the looking. – Pg. 266

Maybe it was just part of growing up with someone. Once you have a rhythm and stay with it long enough, it’s not hard to find again. – Pg. 306

It felt like I’d taken everything for granted up until just right now, when suddenly my entire world and all in it became precious and fleeting. I should have paid more attention, soaked it in more. Which you always realize once it’s getting too late to do just that. -Pg. 315

We were willing to do so much for the people we loved, even if it meant hurting ourselves. Maybe that, in the end, was what love – all kinds – was really about. – Pg. 326

I’m starting to think, though, that some things never get that. The replay, and all. So at some point you have to make peace with it as it is, not keep waiting for a chance to change it. – Pg. 329

I’ll tell you this: Life is long. Just because you don’t get you chance right when you want or expect it doesn’t mean it won’t come. Fate doesn’t punch a time clock or consult a schedule. – Pg.329

All this thinking – consciously not thinking – about how things would end, and now, just like that, they were about to. It was the very nature of summer. So many long, lazy days when blissfully, nothing changes, and then everything does, all at once. – Pg. 422

The thing is, you can’t always have the best of everything. Because for a life to be real, you need it all: good and bad, beach and concrete, the familiar of the unknown, big talkers and small towns. – Pg. 435

Live Concert River Cruise: Hangang River Ferry Cruise in Seoul, South Korea

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The Han River Cruise has been on our to-do list for a while. We have been debating on which season to go in, which time of day to go, and which day of the week would be best. We finally ended up going a few weeks ago, on a cool night, on a Thursday. It was perfect.

DSC_0431This was not only our first Han River cruise, but also our first trip to the Han River. I was impressed with the beauty of it all and enjoyed the company of many tourists and locals. It is a nice way to get out of the city and enjoy a wonderful day, or night. Many people had tents set up, coolers with food and drinks, and toys for their kids. It seemed as if people came in the morning and spent all day relaxing and having fun. I would love to rent a bike and ride along the river, but I would be afraid of getting too distracted by the scenery and would probably end falling off or running into someone.

DSC_0438aThe live concert cruise we chose left from Jamsil dock and started at 7:30; it lasted approximately one hour. We arrived at the river early enough to walk around and figure out which dock was ours. If you are hungry, there are plenty of places to grab a quick bite to eat or grab a cool drink before getting on the boat. I was afraid of getting sea-sick, so getting a water was a must for me. (I am happy to report that I did NOT get sea-sick.)

DSC_0489I would recommend getting in line for the cruise as early as possible if you want a seat on the top deck of the boat. We were able to line up around 7:00 PM after the cruise before had left. We were only a few people back from the start of the line and were able to get seats right near the railing. The live music was during the second half hour of the cruise and the singer set up on the bottom deck. You can move from the top deck to the bottom deck, or just listen to the music from up top; it was loud enough where we could hear it clearly from the top.

DSC_0475The sun was starting to set as we departed the dock at 7:30. On the way to the Banpo Bridge, where the world’s largest bridge light show is located, we were able to look at Building 63 and the N Seoul Tower. As we arrived at the Banpo Bridge, the boat turned around, and the light show began. It was amazing to watch and was definitely a memorable moment in Korea.

DSC_0523After watching the light show for a few minutes, we continued back to the Jamsil dock. The sun had gone down by then and the city lit up all around us. Korea became a magical place full of lights, laughter, and music; an hour was certainly not long enough to enjoy such a wonderful atmosphere. I would go on this cruise again and again to relax and enjoy the river breeze.

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DSC_0609The 7:30 live concert cruise was perfect because we were able to see the city when it was light out and at night. We also had the added bonus of seeing the bridge light show and being able to listen to the live music on our way back to the dock. For only 15,000 Won per adult and 7,500 won per child, this cruise is a must on your tour in Korea.

Directions: Take subway line 2, Exit 7. Take a cab, or walk to the dock. (We walked and it only took about 10 minutes.)

Disclaimer: I would like to thank my husband for all of these wonderful photos. 

Bukchon Hanok Village: Seoul, South Korea

bukchonBukchon Hanok Village is located near Insadong in Seoul. It’s one of those places that is off the beaten path; a place one won’t find unless they are looking for it. I must say though, it’s worth looking for.DSC_0274

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Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the few places left in Korea where you can find traditional Korean houses. During the Joseon Dynasty, the noble class used to reside in this very spot, in these beautiful homes.100_5269

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There is an observatory in the village. For 2,000-3,000 Won you are able to go up to the top floor of an apartment and take photos, or just look around. Admission includes a beverage of your choice.

DSC_0351Important information:

People live in these homes; be respectful and quiet.

You could easily get lost on the streets of houses that look the same; try to remember which way you came from.

On the way to the town there are a lot of little shops and restaurants, much like Insadong; check out this place for some AMAZING dumplings. Be careful not to order too many though, they’re HUGE.

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Directions to Bukchon Hanok Village: about 300m from Anguk Station, Seoul Subway line 3, Exit #2

A special thanks to my husband for these BEAUTIFUL photos!

Cookin’ Nanta Review: MyeongDong, South Korea

100910nanta_publicityWhile Jim’s mom and brother were visiting, we decided to see a show. Much like Stomp, Cookin’ Nanta is a stage show mainly delivered through drumming. Unlike Stomp, Cookin’ Nanta is based in the kitchen.

The show is performed in three different locations in Seoul; we chose to see the show in MyeongDong.  Take subway line 4 to the Myeongdong statin, go down the main street of MyeongDong (where the Forever 21 is),  turn left at the Lotte department store, continue down that street until you see the sign outside (on your right) that says Nanta theater.

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IMG1182The show started at 7:30 PM and ran for 90 minutes (there is no intermission.)  There is no photography allowed (not even without a flash) and audience participation is a possibility.We sat in the VIP section, 60,000 Won per tickets, and we were seated three rows back. I would say any seat in the theater is a good seat. The theater is small and even when sitting in the back, you are not that far from the stage.

IMG1184The prices for seats range from 40,000-70,000 Won at the MyeongDong Theater. Prices vary within all three locations. The 70,000 Won seats are rows four and five, I believe, which I guess is considered best seats in the house. If you sit on the outside of a row, or in the front row, you could be pulled on stage during the show. You can buy tickets at the theater or at Discover Seoul. Discover Seoul sometimes has discounted tickets for the military.

We all loved the show; it was loud, entertaining, and hilarious. I would highly recommend it to anyone, and would even consider going again. There are different performers for different nights, so each show is guaranteed to be unique.

The show is mostly made up of sounds and music, but there are a few words said in Korean, as well as English. I don’t know any Korean, and I understood the entire performance. This show would not be good for children under 10 because of the loud noises and because of the length of the performance.

Go check out Nanta and then tell me what you think!