Archive for August, 2011

Baking Cake

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Actually, when I first used this oven, my carrot cake did not turn out the way I wanted nor was I confident about the bread I had baked. Though the oven heats up, it does not follow the exact temperature on the knob. So, unless I get a temperature gauge (which I hear is pretty cheap), I’ll have to keep estimating. I made the chocolate cake with a bit of trepidation, considering I was planning to bring it to class that night.

The batter was beautiful, all shiny and smooth, thanks to my handmixer:

batter

I made two batches. I know, pretty bold for someone who was iffy about the outcome. I considered halving the recipe but decided to just go for it, risk-taker that I am.

stove oven

I don’t know what temperature this chocolate cake actually baked in, but I simply just peeked in every now and again to make sure the batter was turning solid. It was really all a guesstimate. In the end, when I took it out to taste, the cake was surprisingly moist and chewy, not undercooked nor burnt as I had feared. I’ll have to owe it to the excellent recipe.

Because I had so many, I shared the first pieces with my neighbors next door, then brought a batch to class that night, then again to the education office staff the next day. People liked it and were blessed, I think.

chocolate cake

Since I’ve been keeping track of the places I spent studying, here’s one more — the periodicals section, this time. It’s where the university houses all the newspapers and magazines from all over the world. There are shelves of magazines and stacks of newspapers on either side of the room while a row of long tables lined the middle. There were cubicles on the corners but I decided to use one of the back long tables to get a bird’s eye-view.

periodicals

Cafe Study Place

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

This was another study place that I discovered today. I met up with a friend for lunch here and I decided to stay for the afternoon to work on my papers. Beside the internet availability, I just love the food, especially the bread! I like the smell of books in the library, but I just love the smell of bread in a bakery!

bread shop

Lest I be accused of taking up space from other customers, this particular branch of Panera was a big one and there were plenty of tables for other patrons. Besides, there were other OU students and faculty doing exactly the same thing. By late afternoon, though, I was the only one still working away. But the chocolate pastry I ordered kept me going. Yum!

panera bread

Mall Visit

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I thought it was high time that I checked out the malls in the area. Besides, it was too hot outside and I needed some air-conditioning. Though I didn’t find my favorite (Macy’s), I did find familiar ones and I spent some time browsing. I even got myself a few items that were on sale. It is really Sooner world out here. The mall, fittingly enough, is named after the OU mascot. And the place did appeal to the Sooner spirit as the logo is posted on every item imaginable.

catchy name

There was a food court in the middle of the mall. Chik-Fil-A did stand out because the lights were off and no one was behind the counter. I remembered that it was a Sunday and, in keeping with their beliefs about the Sabbath, this Christian-based restaurant honors the Lord’s Day.

closed on sundays

Every now and then, I would look up and see a yellow sign sticking out from narrow hallways inside the mall. They are mostly located in areas where there is an enclosed space. I’ve never seen the inside of a tornado shelter before and I hope I never have to, although it would be interesting to see what it looks like. Having lived in earthquake country, I know to always be prepared for unexpected jolts of nature.

tornado country

Seafood Lunch

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

One of the disadvantages of living alone is that I often prepare meals for one. The advantage is that I get to eat what I want and when I want it! Today, I defrosted some shrimp and steamed them. I satisfied my craving with a vengeance, complete with garlic soy sauce and white, sticky rice (just the way I like it).

meal for one

I also fried some tofu. It is becoming my favorite ever since a friend taught me how to make it. Really simple, too — just fry in oil and flavor with some garlic pepper seasoning. Of course, I had to eat this meal with a bowl and chopsticks. Authentic Chinese.

tofu - my new favorite

A Day in the Life

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

And thus begins my life as a graduate student.

It is a Saturday but I had to come on campus for a forum in the college. After the free lunch, I decided to stay and work in the library. Even though I have a perfectly comfortable apartment to go back to, I imagine that I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in the library. There’s something about being surrounded by books and the smell of books that stimulate the thinking. I know, that’s weird. This afternoon, I worked all the way until dinner time. I sat there writing for so long that I had to take stretch breaks and walk around, browsing through the shelves that have collections of three-act plays from the 1920s and sociological abstracts of women’s studies. Sometime during one of my stretch breaks, I had an idea that I could visit the many libraries/study places around campus and try to work at different locations each time. That would be fun (in a nerdy kind of way), and I think it would give some color to my long writing/study periods.

This is the first one (looks empty because it is a Saturday):

bizzell

Looking for a Trail

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

This morning, I got up early before sunrise to go running. My goal was to find a trail where I can run regularly. With the many trails available on campus, I had to figure out the route that was most comfortable. The weather has been so hot lately that even at 6:30 a.m., the morning air was relatively warm. Nonetheless, it did not make this sunrise less beautiful.

sunrise

As I was walking around, I found this paved trail used by fellow morning joggers. It stretched for a mile or two, so I think I found my trail. I also noticed that there were several forks along this path that could lead to other parks and fields. Ah, so many possibilities.

found a trail

One of the things I’ve started doing is wearing my Sooner shirt. Something happens when I wear crimson and cream … all of a sudden, I feel as though I’m suddenly part of the “in” crowd. For some reason, it made me feel like I belonged. And since most people on campus wears some kind of Sooner shirt, it is a very big “in” crowd. There is a sense of camaraderie among students, even faculty. Welcome back to school, indeed.

fitting in

Boomer Sooner

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Welcome back to school. It is a strange feeling to go back to school as an older student, going full-time. Yet, here I am. I’ve already taken two classes the last couple of nights, one more to go tomorrow. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed — maybe this is a good way to describe me these days. I’m learning so much, not only inside the classroom but outside, as well. Lately, I’ve been doing some exploration of the campus with my bike.

Today, I decided to take a picture of the stadium where the No. 1 ranked Sooner football team holds their practice and games. I pass by it almost everyday. Yesterday, I saw the news van parked outside the gate, maybe doing a report on team practice. I don’t think I’ll get a ticket this year, though. Maybe next year.

sooner football

One thing I noticed about this campus is how much school pride the students have. Most people wear crimson and cream (the school colors). I’ve already gotten at least three OU T-shirts for free from different campus departments, not to mention pens, highlighters, mugs, fridge magnets, etc. Everywhere I look, there is some sign of OU Sooner pride.

school pride

All my classes are held in this building. I like the red-brick design, a common theme in OU campus architecture. Faculty offices, student classrooms, administration, study lounges, and computer labs are located within this three-story building. Quite convenient.

my college building

However, the building where I seem to spend most of my time is the main campus library. I haven’t even begun exploring its vast resources. The quick library tour during orientation only touched the surface of researching possibilities.

bizzell library

Asian Fusion

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Today, some new friends took me to this Asian buffet restaurant after church. Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), the food selections and the way they were cooked were almost exactly identical to the ones we find in LA. I suppose these Asian buffet entrepreneurs just know how to draw in a crowd. Besides the reasonable price and the wide selections, perhaps they’ve figured out the palate of the universal customer, Asian or otherwise.

they're everywhere!

Speaking of the Asian palate, one of my professors took me to a Chinese supermarket in downtown Oklahoma City so I can stock up on dried noodles, soy sauce, rice, and fresh shrimp (yes, they have live seafood). I was like a kid on Christmas day as I surveyed aisle after aisle of Asian condiments and foods. Maybe it’s because I had resigned myself to eating only western food throughout my time here. I did not count on the Vietnamese Chinese population of Oklahoma to organize a Chinatown in the heart of downtown. I can have it all!

asian taste

As we drove along, I saw this Chinese friendship bridge in the middle of the street, symbolic of Chinese presence in the area. Who would’ve thought that I could still enjoy Asian food in the heartland of America? Only in America.

oklahoma city chinatown

First Guests

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I knew it was just a matter of time before I entertained my first guests. When I heard that Jay and Amor were in town, I invited them to lunch and made my tried-and-true pasta casserole. I even had homemade bread for good measure. We had a good, long time of fellowship and conversation. I had only met them once when they visited in LA, but we found that we had so many things in common that we just had to meet up again in Oklahoma! So thankful that they could stop by to get further acquainted. What a way to warm up a new house!

Jay and Amor

In the frenzy of trying to set up the apartment, I was on an adrenalin kick for several days, in and out of Walmart and the Dollar Tree every few hours. What resulted was a comfy set-up of a well-stocked kitchen. For some reason, though the living/dining area could remain bare, the kitchen had to be functioning well in order for me to feel more settled.

kitchen to dining

I placed the appliances and the kitchen wares in the right cabinets for easy access. It took me a while to get a rhythm going in terms of the what-and-where’s of the kitchen. As soon as I got around to it, it became easier to cook and make meals for myself (and my guests). I figured I would need to get this down pat before the busyness of school took over.

kitchen area

Setting Up

Monday, August 15th, 2011

After Alvin left, it was up to me to do the lifting and moving in the apartment. My adrenalin kicked in very quickly. My living and dining area is pretty bare and basic, but I actually like the minimalist feel to it, so far. That’s where I sit and read. And that’s where I eat and drink. Simple.

living/dining area

My professor graciously loaned me this bed that has been sitting in her garage for years. She said that the headboard has a special story to it. She bought it from a garage sale when she was 13. After doing research on the wood, she discovered that it was actually an antique piece from the late 1800s! Hmmm … I don’t know how I should feel sleeping on an antique furniture every night! Nonetheless, it was generous and kind of her to let me use it. One thing I like about this bedroom are the windows — bright and cheery in the mornings!

sleeping area

Another room with windows. I purposely placed the desk (a gift from another professor) right in front of it so I can be inspired by the greens and the outdoors while I study. The furniture is still really sparse, but I imagine that it will fill up very quickly in the months to come, especially as the books and bookshelves start coming in.

studying area