hello, it’s me, back from laptop-less doom

Wow, that was a creative title.

But yes, I spent Thanksgiving weekend out of town, and left my laptop charger behind. I’m absent-minded like that. Being without a laptop wasn’t bad at all because I don’t have anymore papers to write, but I’m glad to have it back. No more trying to pass time between classes by taking short naps on the library tables!

I had an amazing Thanksgiving. I really do have the best host family I can ever ask for. It makes me happier that we share the same love for food. This year, I was careful with my portions, but the food were definite huge temptations!

thanksgiving 2015 meal

Exciting news! I hit the 8-mile circuit time in my daily workouts!

after workout

So I celebrated the only way I know how – by ordering a Domino’s small pizza and having it with mimosas. I rationalized the pizza by telling myself it’s small, and has chicken, pineapples, black olives, and spinach on it. Healthy, right?

post 8-mile workout treat

This semester has seen me trying to be less hobo and more presentable. I didn’t think my employers would appreciate me working in sweatpants, which is what I’m more inclined to wear on a cold day. I love these boots! I got them for $20 from JCPenny on Black Friday. They’re comfy, in-style, and I didn’t have to wait in a long line for them! The scarf and cotton leggings were $5 each from Aeropostale, and the long-sleeve crew was $5 from JCPenny, all bought on Black Friday. Gotta love stylin’ on a budget!

turn up the christmas spirit

free parking, my chef dream, and hello fresh

The University of Oklahoma had a game last weekend. Parking was $25. The guy gave me 1-hour free parking because I’m a “pretty Asian girl.” I’ll take it. I’m quite sure he was at least 55 years old, which made it more hilarious.

But as a result of the free parking pass, I got to eat at the Crimson and Whipped Cream bakery in Norman. The coffee was ‘meh,’ but the food was drool-worthy. I ordered the Nutella crumble. Also tried my friend’s apple crumble, and it was equally yummy.

crimson and whipped cream bakery

I love cooking. If I could be anything I want, I’d be a chef. If I could be anywhere I want, I’d be in culinary school.

cooking dream

I tried the Hello Fresh service for the first time this week. 1 week’s service costs $59. You get 3 meals for 2 people. I bought it off Groupon for $39, and used a $10 off coupon. Total OOP was $29 for 1 week’s service/6 meal servings… which is cheaper than eating out, but more expensive than cooking my regular meal prep stuff.

What I got in my box…

hello fresh food

hello fresh frozen food

The frozen meat were at the bottom, with the gel ice.

So far, I’ve cooked 2 meals.

maple-balsamic glazed cod

Maple-balsamic glazed cod with roasted brussels sprout and mashed squash

The Brussels Sprouts were the best. I’m not a big fan of them, but after tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking them in the oven, they had just the right amount of crunch and flavor. The maple-balsamic glaze was also very good. I think the thyme did the trick. Sadly, I accidentally put too much salt in the mashed squash.­čśŽ

chicken schnitzel sandwich

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich with tangy slaw and pumpernickel bread

This meal wasn’t a favorite. The slaw had too much onions in it, and the bread had a weird taste. The chicken was alright, but I would have preferred if it had called for baking, instead of frying. Thinking about all that oil made me cringe.

it’s a good workout when your bra ends up soak with sweat

Gross. I know.

I’ve been doing 5-mile workouts everyday! In kilometer language, that’s 8km.

after workout

Locker room selfie. Those headbands are a workout-life-saver.

I love working out. It makes me feel better about my body. I feel healthier, less sluggish, more confident.

It also gives me a goal. And my ultimate goal is 10 miles everyday. I know it’s doable, but it’ll probably only happen next Spring. Baby steps, baby steps.

nails on fleek after workout

I used to think working out meant looking sweaty, feeling gross, and “not being pretty.” Not anymore. It sounds silly, but I can do my nails and workout!

My favorite post-workout treat is using the foam rollers. There’s just something about massaging those aching muscles with the roller that is so relaxing.

foam rolling after working out

the cost of eating qdoba

I killed 4 miles last night in the gym after my work shift ended at 8pm, and here’s why.

qdoba taco salad

I haven’t had Qdoba since the summer. And I caved yesterday. Because it was cold. I was hungry. I was tired.

I got my usual of taco salad with picante ranch, cilantro rice, brown rice, fajita veggies, grilled chicken, corn salsa, fiery habanero, spicy queso, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro toppings. All for $8.03.

That also added another 10 points in my Qdoba Rewards card, which already has 1 free meal on it. You get 1 free meal for every 100 points, and Thursdays are double points day.

My stomach and body hated me with every step I pounded in the gym. But who cares? The food was goood! No regrets.

a foodie’s chronicle of cheat days

Last fall, I started a “eat healthy” streak. No more daily Chick-Fil-As, lots of salad, well-portioned meals… you get the idea. And I found out what a saving grace cheat meals are.

This semester, I’ve been meal prepping. I’d cook a large batch of a healthy, balanced meal on Saturday or Sunday, and then take it with me to campus everyday.

Weekends, however, are devoted to eating a variety of other foods. That usually means one cheat meal where I go out with my roommate to some food place on our “food bucket list.” It’s always worth it, and I have more time to workout in the gym on weekends anyway (at least that’s how I rationalize things).

All that to say… I had a cheat meal last week, and cheat meals are what keeps me sane during the week. Heck, if one cheat meal isn’t enough, I have 2! Or 3!

Okay, maybe not 3, unless I’m feeling extra adventurous about working off those unneeded calories… which never happens.


Cheat meal #1: I was running errands on Friday at lunchtime. Somehow, Sonic made its way into my errand list. The Jr. Breakfast Burrito was tiny, so that made me feel better.

indian food

Cheat meal #2: Indian food from a restaurant in a sketchy gas station by the highway. 2 cheat meals in 1 day…. what!!!

chicken briyani

I ordered chicken briyani with a side of paratha. The food was authentic, delicious, and the price was good. When you gotta have a cheat meal, you have to either go big or go home!

pink & the little things in life

Have you ever had that moment when you look down at yourself and think, “What in the world am I wearing?”

This morning, I thought it would be a great idea to wear my pink Uggs because the weather was chilly. And then midway through my morning, I looked down, and realized I was a walking Barbie. All I needed was blonde hair.

pinked out

Also: my phone’s Otterbox is pink. #AllPinkedOut

Is “pinked” even a word? Who cares?

Starbucks is having a BOGO on their holiday drinks. After workout, I took a quick shower, and drove sans makeup to the town’s Starbucks to grab a couple drinks and a chocolate croissant. Their chestnut praline latte hits the spot!

starbucks run

Also: I had the barista put my drinks in a carrier. Everything was fine as I drove back to campus… until I turned the last corner, and the drinks fell over!

They barely spilled. And coffee smell in the car is great.

It’s the little things in life like post-workout treats that makes my heart happy.

Now, if only the coffee will help me power through the 12-page paper I have to write before tomorrow…

Confessions of a Former Bill Gothard Adherent

reflecting at table rockYesterday night, I posted a Facebook status that read:

The cause of this Duggar family fiasco is one reason why I no longer buy into the traditional, conservative, “Christian”, homeschooling deal. It also doesn’t surprise me to read that Bill Gothard, the man I always heard of being referred to as “godly” when I was growing up, has also been accused by more than 30 women and teenagers of sexual harassment. Funny how the people who always judge and condemn others over immoral behavior are the very ones having skeletons in the closet regarding the same matter.

The discussion that ensued made me think and brought up old wounds I had suppressed over and over again.

When I was almost school-age, my parents learned about this wonderful homeschooling thing called the Advanced Training Institute (ATI). Created by Bill Gothard and his Institute of Basic Life Principles, it advocated godly living. There is a heavy emphasis on moral purity, courtship, modesty, etc. Many of these principles were justified using Scripture. I was homeschooled using this curriculum for a couple years before switching to other curriculum, but the Gothard nightmare didn’t end there.

For years afterwards, we went to the ATI conferences, had Character Sketches lessons read to me and my sisters, and was pretty much taught that if I ever did something immoral or “wrong,” I was on the road to hell. Wearing skirts higher than knee level was frowned upon, clothes shouldn’t be too fitting or they’ll reveal my body shape and cause other men to sin, listening to rock music would help fuel my rebelliousness because of the satanic beat, dating is not an option because physical and emotional purity are so important, drinking alcohol and dancing leads to grave consequences, etc. I was always preached repentance, and that if I did not change, hell would be my destination. It didn’t help that I was never a rule-follower. Therefore, instead of helping my faith grow, all these legalism, judgment, and condemnation made me question.

When I left home on August 2013, I saw it as my chance to finally break free. Now, I listen to rock music on a regular basis, own a bikini and wear it on occasion, frequently go on dates, dance with my friends and strangers, drink alcoholic beverages, and do many other things that according to the old “rulebook,” would mean my soul is lost. I still believe that God exists, but I’m also attempting to reconcile what I’ve been taught about His “expectations” of me, the man-made standards that were imposed based on His Word, and the whole deal about grace and love. Most days, it is a struggle about leaving behind the old legalism I was taught during childhood and adolescence, trying to find my own way in the world, and learning what really is right and wrong.

I don’t blame my parents for following the teachings of Gothard. I honestly believe that all of us were swindled by his cult, and just like all the other cults, it is so easy to be brainwashed and be tricked into believing the wrong. But then, there are many consequences that is the result, and I’m still suffering these ramifications that stems from teachings propagated as God’s Words and supported by a twisting of Scripture. In trying to escape from these teachings, I have swung to the opposite end of the pendulum. Still, it is hard to escape the former mentality of “if you don’t follow this rule, you’re a sinner destined for hell.”

Why am I writing this post? Partly as a cathartic form of recovery because writing always helps me process my thoughts and feelings. Also, partly as a warning against legalism for those practicing it. Now that I’m living in the Bible belt here in the US, I see legalism everywhere – at church, in school, and among many Christians. I have respect for people trying to be godly and do what is right. But the danger lies in interpreting Scripture to suit your purposes and beliefs, and then teaching it to others as justification for the principles. Living in a legalistic environment doesn’t resolve any problem, it only suppresses it for awhile.

I don’t want to point fingers and judge the Duggar family, but I also do know the pain that is a result of living in legalism. It makes me wonder if any of the Duggar girls are feeling the same way I felt as a consequence of going through a Gothard-influenced upbringing. One thing I do know is that I’m not alone in this journey where almost everyday is a struggle and a heartache. There are many others like me who are still trying to make sense of what we were taught, and how to reconcile those years with real life and the truth. At the end of the day, I regret how our gullibility and desire to do what is right has led to serious repercussions down the road.

Becoming An Adult in a Foreign Country

table rock state park becoming an adult

This evening, I signed my first house lease… ever. Never in a million year did I ever think that I would one day sign a house lease in the US. As the house owner explained the terms of the rental contract, and I wrote out my check for the security deposit, I felt the familiar sense of panic and unsureness rising in me. This was the same panic and unsureness that I felt when I…

…arrived in the OKC airport one August evening in 2013 and wondered if the person who was supposed to meet me would be able to find me because I wasn’t wearing an OBU shirt.
…navigated opening a bank account, buying a new cellphone, paying taxes, etc. all in a different country with an unfamiliar currency.
…realized that the tuition and fees listed on the OBU website deceivingly did not include many other hidden costs and that I might possibly have to take out a student loan.
…sat in front of my financial aid adviser, and she curtly told me that there were no scholarships I could apply for even though I had a perfect GPA, and then took away a loan form I had filled out because I “wasn’t supposed to have it.”
…walked back to my dorm room after that meeting and started crying on the way.
…spent days agonizing over where I could get money while a fine was imposed, adding to the amount I couldn’t pay, because I had not paid the tuition bill in time.
…got into a mad scramble to find somewhere where I could spend the summer of my first year in the US in.
…took the public transportation in Atlanta, GA alone, and found myself at a dark, deserted train station where a mentally unstable man spoke to me as I ran up the endlessly high escalator as quickly as possible so that I could exit the station.
…took on job after job just to pay the bills, while refusing to go into student debt because I know there’s a possibility I might not be able to repay the debt since finding a job while on an international visa is a huge challenge.
…got accosted while walking on campus in the night alone because the possibility of being attacked in a foreign country is a very scary thought.
…am unhelpfully told that it’s okay if my GPA can’t get me more scholarships because in the end, the 4.0 will look good on my resume.
…become terrified at the mere thought of driving when I used to love driving so much back home.
…have to carefully plan my grocery lists and meals so that I can eat balanced meals, while also saving as much money as possible.
…went to the Southwest Airlines website and booked myself a flight ticket back to OKC from GA.
…taught myself how to pay my bills online and enroll in auto-pays.

This list only contains things I can think off my head now. But my point is this: no one told me that although leaving my teen years, becoming an adult, and doing adult things in a foreign country by myself would be a daunting and frightening experience, it has also taught me to be strong, independent, and responsible.

I’m not going to lie and say that there aren’t days when I see my roomies come back from a trip home with sack loads of groceries bought by their parents, and I don’t find myself wishing that my parents are here to buy my groceries for me. Or that I don’t wish that my mom is here when I have to pack up all my things at the end of the semester or year, and I find myself staring at my possessions, amazed I have accumulated so many things, but also wondering at the huge task of packing all of them up.

But even when these times happen, I am fully aware that people go through different stages when they leave their parents’ home. For me, it meant a complete “cut-off” without the opportunity to return on long weekends or holidays. This complete “cut-off” has been torrid at times. There are days when I want to curl under my blankets and forget about “being an adult.” Then again, there are days when I feel proud of myself for how far I have come and the progress I have made since August 2013.

No one said that “being an adult” is easy. But it’s going to happen for everyone… eventually… at some point in their lives. Mine came sooner than later. And as I sit back and feel the panic and unsureness about whether I’d made the right decision to rent a house, I realize that this is just one speed bump in my life. There has been many others before this, and there will be many others in the future. Because after all, “being an adult” means making decisions with consequences, and living and learning with those decisions.

A Year in Review: 2014

This year was one of my most eventful years ever. Here are some of my favorite memories, pictures, things I learned, etc. Enjoy a sneak peek into my life this year, and here’s to a New Year filled with new adventures, friends, and an unforgettable journey.­čÖé

Being the 3rd wheel or 5th wheel almost everyday. This happens when 2 of your best friends get boyfriends.
Learning how to say goodbye because when most of your friends are internationals, they’re most likely not going to be in college all 4 years with you.
Traveling to places I never thought I would be able to go to.
Starting and teaching an ESL class over the summer.
Working 3 on-campus jobs to pay the bills. This meant learning how to be responsible, to manage my time and finances well.
Knowing that friends I can always rely on are invaluable.
Learning how to be open-minded, to think for myself, that it’s okay if my opinions differ from others’.
Making mistakes and learning from them.
Taking the time to Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Viber family and friends hundreds of miles away. It takes effort, but my favorite times are when I can talk to my best friends living halfway across the world.
Creating memories and living spontaneously because I don’t want to think, “What if…?”
Learning how to grade homework at a college level and finding out the key differences between students who try and those who don’t.
Sticking with a job even though I hate it because paying the bills is more important. Calling people and asking them to donate money to the University isn’t exactly a fun job, but the fun part is laughing over the bad calls after shedding a few frustrated tears, of course.
Discovering how much I love cooking and crocheting.
Finding out that hard work pays off, and no matter how much I talk about dropping out of college…especially right before Civ exams…, I’m in it for the long haul.
Getting the balance between eating healthily and working out. Both pays off, and isn’t difficult with the right motivation.

easter weekend 2014

On Easter weekend, my friends and I went on a camping trip I think my two favorite parts were the tan I got and my role as the camp cook. Being the 5th wheel was also very interesting… and might have put me off the idea of dating for awhile.

erina and leena spring affair

One of the hardest parts of this year was saying goodbye to Erina and Leena. We were inseparable as a group, and not having them with me for the 1st semester of my Sophomore Year was tough. We loved to play pranks on each other, do random things, and generally, find something fun to do even when the going gets tough. After they left, I learned that true friends stick together no matter the distance.

sarah black friday

I have the best roomie I could ever ask for. This is our 2nd year rooming together, and we already have living arrangements planned for our 3rd year. We’ve never fought or disagreed over anything, we tease each other mercilessly at times, have our inside jokes that no one else understands, etc. Hanging out with Sarah is always a fun time, and this picture will show you how we think we are so funny sometimes.


This year, cooking and baking became my go-to relaxation times. I found out how invaluable Pinterest is, and how I can mess up on a dish and there’s still always going to be someone who would think it’s delicious. I learned how to cook dinner for more than a dozen people, and how to prep and cook meals even when on a busy school schedule. I’ve always said that if I could have any job in the world, it would be a wedding planning job, but I think a chef comes in close second now.

on the farm

A year ago, if you had told me that I’d be spending winter break on a goat farm, traveling 32 hours on Greyhound, scooping out goat poop from the feeders with my bare hands, clomping around in a t-shirt, shorts, and rain boots in winter, etc., I would have probably laughed at you. But here I am. And I know that living on a farm for a month will give this city girl a different experience and perspective about life.

Baked Tuna Pasta Casserole

baked tuna pasta

As a college student, I’ve learned to appreciate bargain meals that are easy to make. My friend, Sarah Blankenship, made this dish for me once, and I wanted to try making it myself since it’s a simple, but tasty dish. I made some modifications to the recipe she gave me. I thought I’d share my modified┬árecipe here, along with the price of the ingredients.

baked tuna pasta casserole

Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Total cost: $2.34


1 cup pasta: $0.20
1/2 cup condensed cream of mushroom/chicken: $0.34
1/2 cup milk: $0.16
1 can tuna: $0.78
1/2 can corn: $0.34
1/2 tablespoon flour: $0.01
Dash of cayenne pepper: $0.02
Shredded mozzarella cheese topping: $0.50


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Boil pasta in a medium sauce pan.

3. While pasta is boiling, combine the condensed cream of soup, milk, tuna, and corn in a casserole dish.

4. Add flour to the mixture to thicken it.

5. Add boiled pasta into the dish.

6. Add dash of cayenne pepper into the dish. This is optional. I added more just because I like spicier food.

7. Mix everything together.

8. Top casserole dish with shredded mozzarella cheese.

9. Bake casserole dish in the oven for 35 minutes.

And… you’re done! Easy, right? There’s plenty of meat and veggies, and some carbs. Although the servings is listed as two, it depends on your meal portions. I tend to eat smaller portions, and this dish is pretty filling. For me, one such casserole can last 3-4 meals.

If you decide to make this dish, let me know how it went!­čÖé