Holiday baking

Ideas exploding out of my head!

Haha, actually no, that's not true.  Unless I think about tigers, swimming, being young, dolphins, and nice-looking and toned male models with abs.  ...... Hmm, that actually sounds kind of accurate..!~  ;)

This is my sister's room!  All the walls used to be covered in posters like these and of various bands, but my mom took most of them down after she moved out, and all that remains is this little section near the windows.  The furniture is gone, since she lives somewhere else, so her room is very spacious.  It makes for a nice little exercise room :D

My house is crazy cold, so the only way to stay warm is to keep moving.  That's why I'm in shorts!  On the same day (Thursday), I went to UH's recreation center for a swim ^^  I promised David I would swim during break, and I try my best not to break promises!~  ... although now I can't swim for quite a while!

ROCK CLIMBING WALLLLL facing the front entrance

I've been to this place way too many times to count.  Starting from my middle school years, there were a lot of swimming meets here for year-round swimming, and a few winter championship meets for high school.  I wondered if the pool would be in the 50m or the 25yd mode, and it turned out to be neither!  They split it into a shallow and deep end.

If WashU is the 4th most expensive university to attend in the United States, how come Houston's university has such a nicer pool and rec. center than my school?!  @__@  Like.. *infinitely* better!~  The locker rooms are super nice too; Texas-sized (super humongous) shower stalls kind of like bathroom stalls with locks and another section with shower curtains!  Yayyyy!  And everything's super clean ^^

There's a gym on the second level with an indoor running track looping around it.  Basketball courts are located behind the rock climbing wall.  Yeah, they have rock climbing, say what?~  ;)  And they have a Smoothie King downstairs.  Nom nom nom..


After swimming, I went to Azuma with Daddy for dinner!  The restaurant was extremely dim, so no food pictures to show.  Steven, Theo, and I ate at the Azuma in Sugarland, but Dad and I went to the one near Rice Village.

Fancy chopsticks

Pretty garden sculpture.  You can see my dad's car, tee hee ^^

It soon became super busy!

The menu was 11 pages long, but most of it was dedicated to sushi and robata (think shish-ka-bobs) descriptions.  We both ordered seafood udon, which was quite yummy!  I usually don't like udon / soup noodles, but since I hadn't ordered it in a few years, I decided to give it a go, and it was so worth it! :D  The noodles were super QQ, and there was tons of goodies inside: octopus pieces, the pink and white fish cake slices, a ginormous king shrimp (so flavorful!), mushrooms, spinach, and clams, all garnished with green onions.  Mmmm~

I was paying for us with a Groupon, so my dad ordered appetizers (unheard of! haha).  He got the Caterpillar sushi roll and the Grilled Mackerel.  The caterpillar roll tasted like many other restaurants' versions, but it was still delish, especially doused in wasabi and soy sauce!  The grilled mackerel was a tiny portion, 2 bites per person, but it was flavorful.  :)  They put bread crumbs on it, so that was interesting (although I would have preferred without).  

Overall, the food at Rice Village's Azuma is delicious.  It is on the pricey side though!  (Well, to me, a college student, haha ^^)  The udons cost $14 a bowl, the sushi roll $12, and the fish $8.  Including tip, our meal cost $60, but with a $40 Groupon that cost $20, it turned out to be $20 a person out of the pocket.  Kind of expensive, right?  @_@

My dad and I left satisfied, but not super full from Azuma, and we drove back home.  What a nice day ^^

5600 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77005


Squirrel is nom nom-ing on something yummy! :D

Baby persimmon fruit!

Where's Wendy?  Har har, it's like "Where's Waldo," but Wendy, get it??  And I wear striped quite often >_>  

But annnnyways...  I'm walking in my neighborhood!  My parents and I woke up early at 7am and left for a walk around the neighborhood and to a McDonald's for breakfast!

I used to walk around a park with Irene a lot.  I remember I would park my bike at her place, and we'd set off for our walk and talk about stuff.  In middle school it was Ice Crescent Valley, an animation we planned to create with Flash media.  We had all the characters drawn out with descriptions ^^  Later it was about Maple Story, and still later, it was about random bits of life.  Ahh, memories!~

A stork

Just curious, but do you say "s-tork" or "s-dork?"  I say the second, but my mom says I say it totally wrong.  But don't you think it sounds weirder if you say it the first way?  :P

I stalked my parents while they ambled along together, and I thought they were so cute!  ^__^  It's really rare to get my mom out of the house and exercising outside; she's usually watching television or sleeping on the couch (that's where I inherited my knack for sleeping!), so seeing them together was pretty awesome.  :)  

Tee hee ^__^

I love trees!

This is the ditch where Irene and I would attempt to walk across without getting too wet!

There are two people here.  Can you spot them? :)

We walked to the McDonald's near the high school.  According to Google maps, that's 3.2 miles.  I was really set on trying their oatmeal (a somewhat new item), which I had a free coupon for!  My parents satisfied themselves by splitting a sausage McGriddle and eating their own apple pies and cafe lattes.

So small o_o

Colorful Oatmeal

The oatmeal actually didn't reach the top of the cup either, haha~  They had bits of apples and golden as well as regular raisins on the top with some milky cream stuff.  You can have it with or without brown sugar, but I took mine without.  

I don't like stirring up my food, so I ate the fruit first and then the oatmeal on the bottom.  Super yummy and quite filling!  *happy* ^__^b

When we left for home, we took another route, and my parents marveled about how big the oak trees in the neighborhood were.  I took a picture with a squirrel scampering across a branch of a very large and strangely shaped tree. :)


When we got home, I showered, and my parents took me to the doctor again.  This time it was for the actual surgical procedure.  It was pretty funny, because the doctor said my mom probably didn't want to watch and offered her the little waiting room outside the operation room . Then he was like, Wait, she can still stay, since we'll only be numbing you up for now.  I told him she didn't like needles either, and he strongly recommended her to wait outside again :P

The hand has a tons of nerves, so before anything happens, it has to be numbed up a lot or else there will be lots of pain.  They injected anesthetics six times in one finger.  @_@  Good thing I didn't watch.  I looked at it afterwards, but before they proceeded, and it was rounded out swollen to the size of a strawberry... and yellow. =_=

I was awake during the surgery, because it was just a small procedure on my hand, and they numbed it, so I didn't feel it.  But I could hear what was going on, and I could feel the pressure they were applying on my arm.  ._.  I think it would have been interesting to watch on someone else, but since I was going to be recovering with my hand attached to me and in close proximity for the next few weeks, I didn't want to watch how they were cutting it open, durrr...

But on a side note, I got my first stitches ever!!?~  I've never broken anything before, so that was a first for me :P

Anyways, so after that, we went out for lunch!  Nothing to keep me preoccupied like food, har har :P  The anesthesia was wearing off, and it kind of hurt, but there was nothing I could do without freaking out my parents by yelling for us to run to the nearest Walgreens to buy some ibuprofen, so I just focused on my food and marveled how yummy it was~  Plus it felt silly to be agonizing over a procedure so small ^_^''

We tried a little restaurant in Chinatown called "OK Cafe."  What a weird name!  But they sell Taiwanese snacks, dimsum, and food!  On Monday-Friday, there is a lunch special for an entree and soup for $5, so that made my dad pretty happy, haha.  :D

I ordered the chili bean fish with rice.  The fish was fried and then cooked with tofu, and the plate was served with blanched bok choy.  I really enjoyed the texture and taste of the fish, since it was only spicy enough for a slight burning sensation!  And the rice was sticky and moist <3  It came with a meatball soup, which tasted like hot pot meatballs in a tasty broth probably heavily seasoned with MSG.  :P

My parents ordered spareribs with rice and the owamiswa (oyster noodles).  They both were quite happy with their meals.  My dad and I swapped pieces of pork and fish, and the meat on the ribs were quite tender, delish~

Taiwanese meatball soup

Chili bean and fish on rice

Pork spareribs on rice

Oyster noodles

OK Cafe also sells milk tea and other slushies and drinks for cheap ($2.77), but I planned to visit Star Snow Ice for dessert later.  Students also get 10% off purchases after 6pm if they bring their student ID!  Overall we were happy with everything: pretty fast service, good food, nice prices.  The only bad thing would be that it was so empty!  We were the only patrons there the whole time we were eating, and I wonder if it's because the restaurant is relatively new or if it's because it's in a small, hard-to-find corner of Chinatown (hidden near Golden Foods Supermarket)~  :o

OK Cafe
9888 Bellaire Blvd
HoustonTX 77036

A quick trip to the supermarket and Star Snow Ice to try a Peanut Shake.  I like a slushie, sort of icy texture, over the creamier smoothie texture.  They blend all their shakes into a milkshake texture, so it's super creamy, so maybe I'll go back to the Teahouse next time.  Star Snow Ice is much cheaper though ($2.50)!  It tasted a bit like peanut butter <3 yummy!


Christmas eve means it's baking time!  Well, the monks at the temple requested me to make sweets for their Christmas hot pot banquet is on Christmas day, so I'll be sending some baked goodies with my parents when the go.  :)  I like to try baking new sweets instead of churning out the same recipe, which I usually do when I'm back at home.  Christmas gave me a good reason to try out two seasonal desserts! 

I stirred up some gingerbread dough the night before, but I left it in the fridge overnight to make it easier to work with.  So when I woke up, I began rolling out the dough for gingerbread treats!  When I went to Taiwan last year, I bought these super pretty mini-cupcake liners from an industrial restaurant store, and I finally decided to use them.  They're patterned and cute!

Making gingerbread bites~ :)

Closeup of pretty wrappers and filling before baking

Second set of pretty wrappers out of the oven!

I baked the first batch too long, so the filling poofed up and sank into holes... durr.  Not presentable! = treats to be left at home for us to nibble on :)

I used 3 batches of dough to make gingerbread cream cheese bites and gingerbread men.  I finished at 2:30pm.  The cookies themselves only take 9ish minutes to bake, but since I was making these with only one hand, it took 5 hours!  @_@''  *so slow*  

My mom kept wanting me to take the pain medication, but I definitely am for only taking pills when I really need it.  I saw her popping pills after her own surgery during my last spring break when I was in Houston.  Definitely don't want to end up like that!  >_<  Her procedure was definitely much more serious than mine, but still~  Otherwise I might end up with a dependency!  I took two the day of the surgery.  It's kind of uncomfortable and throbbing, but if I concentrate on other things, I forget about it and don't have time to worry about pain, right? :)  

And no worries about hygiene-- I'm worried just as much for cleanliness of the cookies as well as keeping my hand clean too. Not even one of my fingers had flour on them!  :D  So I only used one hand the entire time and asked my parents for help when I needed two hands, like opening a new jar of molasses!  ... and cleaning dishes afterwards, mwahaha >:P

But if you find a few stitches in those gingerbread cookies, please do tell me.  ;) just kidding!~

Can you spot my failed attempts? ^^''

Packed and ready to go!

Gingerbread cookies :)

Like an assembly line :P

After decorating the cookies and letting the icing harden, I packed them into cake pans and placed them onto the counter.  Hope they'll enjoy dessert ^_^  I feel pretty accomplished baking and typing up this post with one hand, although I split the task up into a few days ;)  although I hope my right bicep isn't extremely bigger than my left one now!~

And just a random picture to finish this post off:  a bowl of my parents' Zha Jiang Mian noodles!  <3

I'll never get tired of these noodles, om nom nom nommmmmm *drool*  :D'

Debra said...

Your sister's room looks so awesome! So bright and sunny ^^ I like how the windows are so long and almost reach the floor! And that is a very artsy picture of you :D

Maybe because University of Houston is a public school.. public schools get more money than private schools. Esp bigger public schools. D:

Wah I'm so jealous you get all these nice places to walk around. Really want to visit you in Texas now! When can I go?? :D

My mouth is literally watering at pictures of OK Cafe. Wait, I would totally go there even if there are no other patrons!! And can I please eat your messed-up gingerbread cream cheese bites? *inhales* lol wah so good T_T

I can just imagine your right bicep enlarging during this post. Wahahaha, maybe I should work on my left bicep so we can balance each other out later. HMM GOOD IDEA EH?

Wendy said...

Both of our rooms face the sun in the morning and afternoon, so they're always both very bright ^_^ Maybe that's why I really hate when everything's dark / I'm scared of pitch blackness??

I never thought of the windows being very long and reaching the floor; I just thought that the ledges were really low for children :)

Yeah, I asked my parents, and they said UH probably gets school from the government!

My neighborhood has loooots of trees, but usually Houston's neighborhoods aren't so lush. But there are a few that are "in the middle of no where" where the houses are basically in woods and forests! One of my friends lives on a lake :P

Ha ha! We'd be.. arm monsters @_@'' Yeah, I can definitely tell right bicep is bigger >_<'' but it's probably not all just from recently ^^