I started a weekly newsletter called ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’

I finally started a weekly newsletter!

And I am loving it so far. Because I do so many things on the internet that nobody ever reads, I thought I’d make another thing for nobody to read. It is called ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’. This is more of an internet journal entry for things that I loved watching during the week, things that I have been listening to and things I have been thinking about. It is extremely cathartic and I have finished 3 issues so far.

If you are curious, you can get it for free in your email inbox of choice once a week and get inside my brain for free! Hooray. The image above kind of sums up what it’s all about and you can read the first issue on Substack or read a sneak peek of the first issue down below! I am planning to post each issue onto my blog as well as I know that I have more followers on here and it will be easier to reach more people!

Picnic in Your Pocket 01: Proving once and for all that cheesy popcorn is not an appropriate meal choice

Hello, and welcome to the first instalment of ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’. Right now, we are in the thick of Korean summer so the combination of humidity, heat and the excessive amount of ice treats I am eating is starting to fog my brain. So foggy, in fact, that in the literal heat of the moment, I thought it would be a good idea to launch a weekly newsletter. So here we are, writing these words on a sticky Seoul summer evening, wondering if I will be able to do this on a weekly basis. I’m willing to try if you’re willing to put up with it! So let’s go!


Here are three things I spent a lot of time thinking about this week:

Cheesy Popcorn at the Convenience Store

Despite knowing all too well that a bag of cheese flavoured popcorn is not an appropriate dinner meal, I do it anyway. This usually happens after a disturbed sleep schedule or an unusually large lunch. This week, I gathered stray coins from my house late one night and rode the elevator of shame to the convenience store in my building. I purchased my popcorn, gave the convenience store worker said coins, and shamelessly proceeded to eat the entire contents of the bag while I sat and wrote this very newsletter.

I felt better about myself after seeing a man entering the convenience store in pyjama pants who was balancing a small laptop in his hands while watching YouTube videos. Thinking about his thought process throughout that whole situation was what helped me forget how tragic my own life decisions were at that very moment. Thank you, convenience store YouTube pyjama man.

Hoarding Skincare I’m Allergic To

You know those skincare products you have that reacted badly with your skin? And you never threw them out? Yeah, those ones over there! Throw them away. Right now. You’re never going to use them. Get them out, or find another use for them. I personally use rejected skincare products on my arms, elbows and knees where my skin is less prone to breaking out in a fit of rage.

For some reason, I have a lot of guilt when it comes to spending money on things that make my face break out into itchy rashes? Why should I feel attached to that item when it betrayed me like that? The money is gone, more will come and my skin will recover naturally. But that guilt attached to the unused bottle in the corner of your bathroom cupboard needs to go. Bye.

(While you’re at it, throw away all of those tiny samples you got for free at the beauty store. Free things are not the answer. Keep products around you that you need, love and feel excited about using. Let’s face it, if you haven’t used them by now, you’re never going to use them.)

Burnout

I quit my job at the end of June and have been taking a mental health holiday ever since. This is what I’ve mostly been thinking about, the popcorn and skincare stuff are just side effects of all of this mental chaos. I’m trying to make a game plan for how to avoid burnout in the future, evaluate what I did well in my previous jobs and where I want to go with my career. Any and all career advice and anecdotes are welcome in my inbox/comments/DMs.


Weekly Doodle

This week’s doodle is the celebration of my rebrand for Korean Picnic. The second image is a snapshot of the paper doodles I created before doing the final drawings on my iPad. I am going to make a video this week about how to rebrand using Figma, so get excited. It’s going to be so cool! Like, the coolest.


What I watched this week

Never Have I Ever Season 2 (2021)

I spent an entire night binge-watching the new season of Never Have I Ever. Anything Mindy Kaling touches is golden and I was SO happy when it was released on Netflix last week. If you love high school drama, teen angst, grief, cultural and sexual identity exploration, then you will love this show. I am ready for the next season. I cried multiple times and it was so nice to cry uncontrollable tears of joy over fictional characters again.

Exit (2019)

We watched this Korean film last week and it felt very appropriate for the times we are living in. A mysterious gas is released into a suburb of Seoul and wreaks havoc on a family’s birthday celebrations. It should be noted that I was scared for the entire duration of this film, but it is not scary at all. Currently streaming on Netflix in Korea. Also cried at the end of this one. What can I say, I’m a mess.


This Week’s Video:

Wardrobe Organisation

Last week I took everything out of our closet and put it back in, in a slightly more organised way than it already was. Needless to say, I like to organise things and when there isn’t a lot to organise, I will just re-organise things that were already organised. It’s a really fun and quirky personality trait. Check it out! Did I just break the world record for the number of times using the word ‘organise’ in one paragraph? Possibly.


Favourite follow on IG this week:

@shoshibuya

An account I enjoyed discovering this week was Sho Shibuya. Sho is a Japanese graphic designer based in Brooklyn. He paints as part of his daily practice but was prompted by NYC’s covid lockdown to paint a daily sunset on the covers of copies of the New York Times. Check out his IG page to learn more. I got info about his work from this article, which is also a great read. Let me know if you have any follow recommendations on IG that don’t make you want to curl up into a ball and shove doughnuts into your face!!! Follow me here (shameless plug).


The song I can’t stop listening to:

I know Bo has a new special (I’ve watched it three times already), but I can’t stop listening to his Kanye rant from his ‘Make Happy’ special a few years ago. 5,475 listens later and I still get shivers when he sings this part:

“Come and watch the skinny kid with a

Steadily declining mental health, and laugh as he attempts

To give you what he cannot give himself”


Goals for This Week

Less Coffee, More Lemon and Kimchi

My goal for this week is to try and limit myself to one cup of coffee a day and eliminate alcohol and sweet drinks from my diet. I’m going to achieve this by increasing the amount of time I spend napping and also by adding fun things to my water like lemon and kimchi. It’s going to be a great week. What are you going to try and do a bit better than you did last week, this week? Don’t tell me, just ponder it and achieve things and flourish as a human. But don’t tell me about it. I don’t really care. Just kidding I do care. Just kidding, I don’t. Just kidding.


Thank you for reading, here is a final thing that I watched on YouTube this week that I will leave you with. Have a great week and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.


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Latest Posts

Sushi and Cherry Blossoms

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Today was a day of sushi and cherry blossoms. The flowers are a’blooming and the birds are a’chirping because spring is a’coming people. The cherry blossoms are nature’s way of saying, ‘hey guys, everything will be okay’.

Cherry blossoms are like the training wheels of nature, they make us feel safe and sound before we summon the confidence to do life with only 2 wheels. After they’re gone, we forget they were even there! Before you know, we’ve smoothly made the winter to summer, heatech to humidity transition.

WHAT AM I SAYING? It was my first back working every day this week and my brain is a little soggy. All of this quarantine has made me lose the humorous edge that helped crown Jo So Ko as the internet’s best travel blog 12 years running.

Time to get some rest, but first, here is a video I made about my work life in Seoul! Check it out if you have nothing better to do 🙂

I’m not cool enough to go to cafes in Seongsu-dong, Seoul

Edit: Acro Cafe has since changed its name to ‘Scene Coffee’, you can see more images in this post.

If you’ve been feeling a little bit too cool with all of this staying home in your pyjamas business, then head to Seongsu to level out your ego a little bit. The customers at this new cafe, ‘Arco’, looked like they were stopping by for coffee on their way to far cooler, far more important fashion-related things. It was such a lovely cafe with a gallery/concept store on the second floor and a cafe on the ground floor. I really enjoyed our apple crumble and delicious strawberry croissant situation.

I’ve made it my goal for 2020 to make more of an effort to get some friends in this crazy city we live in. Being a foreigner in South Korea, or in any country, can get a little bit overwhelming. Besides, everyone needs to have good old gossip over a $6 flat white from time to time. I have been so inspired and amazed by the internet community I have found here in South Korea and I hope to meet each and every human I have had an interaction with on Instagram, YouTube and here on my blog!

If you are living in a foreign country, what are some ways you like to meet new friends? Also, if you live in Seoul, and you’re reading these words, I would love to explore an area of Seoul with you? I could honestly have a meaningful conversation with a forest, so don’t worry if you’re a shy/introverted human! I don’t discriminate. Also, upon reflection, maybe telling people I want to meet up with them on the internet is a bit creepy and I totally understand if nobody ever responds to this post…

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This is a mural that was featured in Goblin (the K-drama!!)

A day of my life in South Korea

Good morning! If you’re new here, welcome to my blog. My name is Johanna and I make blog posts and youtube videos about my life in South Korea! Lately, I have been making the most out of having a lovely new home to live in.  I have been more or less stuck here since the outbreak of coronavirus here in Korea. I am a complete homebody though, so I am not complaining about having to keep indoors! Here are some images of said homebody action, followed by a YouTube video I published last week.

If you are in Korea, feeling a little bit of cabin fever, please don’t forget to get out of the house for fresh air. There are plenty of places to explore that don’t involve being surrounded by lots of people. Parks, hiking trails, rivers and playgrounds are all very quiet at this time, make the most of it! Alternatively, you could take up a new hobby like I did last year. I decided to learn how to embroider and I have really been loving it. I bought a “starter kit” from Amazon last year, check it out!

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For my pattern, I used a beautiful book by Yumiko Higuchi called ‘Embroidered Botanicals’

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Eating beef BBQ at home. For some reason, home-cooked BBQ tastes so much better than BBQ in a restaurant. A controversial opinion I’m sure.

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A rainy day in “quarantine”

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I’ve had so much spare time to do annoying household jobs like cleaning the fridge!

What to Wear in Seoul in December

Brrrr… it’s chilly in this city. I’m pretty sure I just saw snow in my bathroom (not really). When I first came to Korea in 2017, I had no idea how cold things would get come December. This lead to me jumping on my bicycle, racing to the closest Uniqlo from my dormitory, and buying anything that looked like it would keep me warm. Two years later, and I am still wearing the items I bought that day.

I want to help you avoid this shock if you’re planning on coming to Seoul in the cold months of late November, December, and January. This could also be helpful if you’re planning to come to Korea to be an English teacher. Planning your wardrobe for four seasons is hard when you have airline luggage restrictions to consider.

On Looking Good in Winter

Let’s get one thing out of the way, looking cute and stylish is HARD in winter. Once you’ve layered your heat tech and jumpers, you look more like a marshmallow than a fashion icon. Accept it. Be warm. Keep your coat on even though you want to show off your outfit. And don’t let instagram likes dictate the way you dress.

Winter Formula for Getting Dressed:

(Thermal Leggings + Thermal Top + Socks) + Bottom Layer + Jumper + Coat + More Socks + Gloves + Beanie + Scarf – Inappropriate Summer Fabrics + Shoes = You MIGHT be warm today

Basics

Before we get into some the outfits I wore in December, let’s go through my Korean winter essentials. Because I am a foreigner living in Korea, I don’t have a huge wardrobe full of cute outfits. It’s hard to transport an entire wardrobe across the Pacific Ocean. These are the items I can’t live without, so you may be seeing these items recurring throughout the outfits!

1. Cashmere Jumper

2. Warm Scarf

3. Wool Coat / Long Padding Jacket

4. Knee High Boots / Leather Boots

5. Waterproof Sneakers

6. Heat Tech Leggings and Turtle Necks

7. WARM Gloves

8. Wool Beanie / Beret / Ear Muffs

Pro Tip: if you’re planning to move to Korea or any colder climate, the best thing to do is look out for cashmere sales! I picked up my jumper at a huge sale at Vin Prime, a second hand clothing store here in Korea. The quality of your clothes really makes a difference when staying warm, and it doesn’t have to make you broke! My jumper was only $20 and it’s 100% Cashmere.

Outfit #1: Christmas Tree Chic

This first outfit was taken at the beginning of December, hence the bare ankles. I can get away without an extra layer under these pants because they are so WARM, which is why I spent money that was out of my budget to buy them… I paired the pants with some black boots, a cashmere jumper over a t-shirt and a coat. On warmer winter days, you can get away with not wearing any thermal or heat tech layers!

The best investment I made this winter was this pair of green wool structured trousers from COS. They fit me like a glove and are so warm and cosy. I wanted something that looked professional but at the same time would keep me warm. I made this investment back when I thought getting a non-teaching job in Korea was a piece of cake… Also, they look like grass but for your pant legs!

Outfit #2: Incognito Shopping Trip

I love these grey lambs wool leggings that I bought from the Australian brand Country Road FOUR years ago! They are still keeping me warm. The tote is from a Museum in Singapore and the beanie is from a flea market in Japan. I kind of look like I’m on my way to rob a bank, and I’m okay with that.

This is often how I dress when walking to the supermarket – how exciting. These are my Adidas sneakers that I bought in summer and they are the coolest sneakers I’ve ever owned.

Outift #3: Horse Rider Takes on Inner City Shopping Centre

This horse riding look is my favourite to wear because of these BOOTS. I got these brown leather boots in a Zara sale last year and they make me feel like a powerful yet bohemian lady. These are the shoes that make me want to get dressed on cold mornings. I love wearing them with tight jeans so I can show off the whole boot. When I cover them in pant or skirt fabric, the boots don’t get to shine! Again, here is my cashmere jumper that I wear basically everyday, cashmere scarf and my padding jacket. I know Koreans aren’t overly fond of Uniqlo, but I couldn’t survive winter here without their clothes.

I planned on taking more awkward selfies but then we moved house and life did that thing that it does where you suddenly don’t have time to do things. However, most of my outfits look like the ones you saw above in various combinations. I unintentionally have a capsule wardrobe situation due to aforementioned lack of luggage allowance and general lack of money to buy clothes!

Bonus Outfits from December!

Let’s start with this navy moment I had when I went ice skating.

Here is a Christmas look – I love that I can wear my running shoes with jeans and a coat without looking like a business woman on a long commute? When I know I’m going to be walking around a lot, I have to whisper ‘not today’ to my beloved brown boots and opt for these.

Hugging my bag in the middle of the street.

Road trip outfit in a highway rest stop bathroom

With my friend at Ader Error in Hongdae.

Who is that crazy lady taking self timer pics of her toilet paper outfit??? With her eyes closed?

I’m really sad looking at this photo because I have since lost this scarf. I was doing a very quick job situation in Gangnam, and I dropped it somewhere. It was my favourite Uniqlo cashmere scarf and I can’t seem to find a replacement as soft (and affordable) as this one. Edit: I found the exact same scarf in pink, but I still mourn the loss of this one 🙁

I hope you enjoyed my foray into fashion blogging. The moral of the story is choose warmth over style and comfort over ‘but I want to look cute today’. Let me know what your winter staples are and where you like to shop. Have a great day!

Ice Skating at City Hall in Seoul, South Korea

Merry Christmas to the four people who consistently read my blog! I hope you had a great time with loved one(s) and reflected on the year we’ve just had. I have been absent on my blog due to visa struggles and moving house! All of our dilemmas have been solved and we are back to our happy normal life selves. My husband and I recently ventured further south east to Yongin in Gyeonggi Province. We feel so excited to move a little further from Seoul away from the chaos…

Today, we spent our afternoon gliding around City Hall’s ice skating rink in an attempt to enact Frozen 2 on ice. It was my first time strapping into ice skating boots and slipping on ice (I’m Australian, this is all foreign to me, I’ve never even been skiing). I managed to find my rhythm rather quickly thanks to many summers spent rollerblading in my local neighbourhood.

There was ample space for skaters of all varieties: speedsters, grandpas, clusters of friends who all kept falling over, and nervous parents. There was a special section for little kids to learn how to skate and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. As well as the learning zone, there was a separate rink for kids and parents to fall over in. I also saw some people playing curling and assumed they were Canadian because who plays curling? Does one ‘play curling‘ or simply just ‘curl‘?

In any case, I regretted not wearing a cape for this icy occasion but I’m pretty sure I’m a contender for Disney’s Frozen 2 On Ice Korea Tour 2020. My husband seemed to be a seasoned skater and glided around effortlessly. He’s good at almost everything so it was no surprise that he had skater’s legs and could spin without hesitation!

How to Ice Skate in Seoul:

If you’re visiting Seoul between Jan and Feb, the ice skating fun will be up and running. Just head to City Hall station on line 2 or line 1 and follow the signs! It’s hard to miss. We were lucky to have a sunny blue sky over us as we skated! It costs 1,000 KRW (roughly $1) to skate for 1 hour including skates and a helmet! How cheap! Also, bring a 500 won coin to use the lockers to keep all of your belongings safe (not that anyone would touch them in Korea!)

Apgujeong’s Elite Keeping Korean Architects in Business

Apgujeong is one of Seoul’s more affluent neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of designer clothes, expensive schools and plastic surgeons. Today, I spent the morning walking around Apgujeong Rodeo Street (not to go shopping because I’m not a bajillionaire). Instead, I admired all of the amazing buildings in the area that house some of the world’s most expensive designer brands.

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As a designer, I looked at these creations in awe. The craftsmanship, the beauty, and the detail were spectacular. With the facades on these buildings, they were worthy of being in every design magazine.

However, when I looked at them as a human, I couldn’t help but feel it was all a bit too… too much. It almost seems like a waste to have all of this design reserved for the filthy rich. It would be great to see more of this incredible creativity distributed around other parts of Seoul. Should this all be centred around one neighbourhood of Seoul? One street for that matter.

City Hall, Lotte Tower, and the DDP are all places that people can enjoy together. They are examples of architecture that enable all walks of life to share the design. Shouldn’t we save our creative energy for everyone to enjoy? I guess not… otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about this. One or two amazing buildings in a street, yes, but for every designer brand to have its own unique facade? Come on, guys! It’s too much! But I did appreciate the cool petrol station.

An Afternoon Well Spent in Gangnam, South Korea

I had another social day today, this time we were in Gangnam. We started our adventure in a Vietnamese restaurant called ‘Tam Tam’, which had queues of people waiting to be seated. We enjoyed our soupy pho noodles up at a really high table – the waiter literally had to push our chairs in for us because the seats were so high! The food was delish, but we had to be very careful after eating not to roll our ankles whilst trying to come back down to earth. You can see in this pic, the chairs are at the waiter’s hipbone!

Our teacher fashioned some makeshift chopstick holders out of napkins! So gorgeous!

This is a hill that my friend kindly escorted me down. It was so steep and I was in heeled boots, not a great combo!!


After lunch, we moved onto a cafe nearby! Two of my friends had flavourless tea and had to send them back. I don’t remember the name of the cafe so I can’t tell you. Despite their drinks being a disappointment, we sat here for hours and had a good quality chat. The cafes in Gangnam are so cosy in the wintertime. You can sit there for hours without being guilted into leaving or buying another drink.

How To:

If you’re wanting to explore the cafes and restaurants in Gangnam, go to Gangnam station on line 2, take exit 11, kep walking straight and head right up the small alleyways! There are an endless range of food and shopping options!

A Thursday Night Drawing for the Artists

Here is an iPad drawing from me to you. I think I need to face the fact that I am not an illustrator and need to learn better techniques. I shall have to add ‘digital drawing’ to my long list of things to improve upon on!

This is a drawing from a picture my mum took at my uncle’s farm. Ooft, that was a mouthful! I love the colours from the original picture and the cat’s pose! Here’s to creative growth in 2020!

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I always seem to think that the work I do will miraculously get better overnight and I will suddenly be able to pay my rent as an artist! I know that art is a long game and isn’t something to rush. I’m still 23 years old and have a lot more improving to do. I guess the rapid pace of social media and artists online can make you feel like you’re falling behind before you’ve even gotten out of bed in the morning.

I need to remember that a lot of the people I admire have been crafting their work for years, possibly even before social media came around. I can’t be hard on myself because the things I am writing, drawing, photographing and thinking are all better versions of what I was doing 1 year ago and even 5 years ago. It can be a bit disconcerting when you see teenagers on YouTube buying houses while I struggle to even get a job as a designer, something I studied for 5 years! But, we won’t go down the rabbit hole of feeling like we’re lagging behind, it’s not a race!

To any artist’s reading this; your work is great because it is uniquely yours. Keep fine-tuning it, making mistakes, showing it to people, taking feedback and trying again. The important thing is to remember the feeling you have while doing that thing you love so much! Here’s to never losing that little light inside of you that allows you to create something without needing to eat or sleep – even if you end up hating it! Our work is always better in retrospect, just like our memories!

Have a great night/day/morning/workout/presentation/spelling test!

The cat in my drawing resembles ‘Cat’ from Breakfast at TIffany’s. Perhaps it’s just the ginger hair.

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A ‘Summer in Busan’ Post

Good morning, Korean Picnic fan(s)! For today’s post, I thought I would post pictures from our family trip to Busan this past August. Looking at these photos is bringing me a bit of warmth on this cold winter’s day!

This was a special trip for us despite it being a quick weekend getaway (we declared that we were getting married to my now in-laws). The weather was incredible, the food was fresh and I loved driving around Busan. Well, I loved being a passenger, I don’t think I would have liked being the one behind the wheel in Busan. The roads there are more like slippery waterslides without rules.

I was a happy passenger looking at the amazing bridges from the back seat!

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I fell in love with this house that was next to our accommodation. Although I think it’s just because I love emerald green!

Waveon Coffee

This was a great cafe and I highly recommend it if you’re a chill traveller like us and just want to sit down for a few hours by the ocean. The coffee was delish and we were able to take our orders into our own little hut and isolate ourselves from the other chill travellers. There was also a hammock which smelled rather sweaty but I wasn’t about to say no to a hammock party in the sun. Oh, and isn’t my husband so cute? He was my boyfriend when we took these pictures!

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After lazing in the sun, we ended up at a beach (of course I don’t remember the name). It was so weird being restricted to such a small swimming section. As an Australian, it was kind of a novelty.

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Let’s look at some foooood!

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Agui-zzim(아귀찜, steamed monkfish smothered in spicy sauce)

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Makchang(막창구이, Entrail or Intestine BBQ)

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Mul-hoe(물회, Cold raw fish soup)

This was my second visit to Busan and it was great to see even more of such a beautiful city. I hope next time we can spend more than a weekend there. If you have written a post about Busan, let me know so I can bookmark ideas for our next trip!

This is my eighth day of posting a daily blog and I am loving it. I feel like I finally have the creative juice to write the things I wanted to when I was working full time!

Have a great day and come back tomorrow for another post!