We had an unexpected visitor last night; I came home from work to find this little guy sitting on our kitchen table.  He was flying around the boys’ room, and was captured with the help of a tennis racket (D:).  Rocky and Albert are afraid that they might have been bitten in their sleep; because we had to call maintenance and animal control, this little bat is, unfortunately, gonna get euthanized soon. =(

It’s been a busy weekend, out in the real world and in the little domestic bubble here in #8.  Just take a look at the view from halfway down the stairs:

The school year is about to begin–a week and a half until our first day–and move-ins are starting to punctuate the Ann Arbor landscape.  There will be some roommate transitions here, and in the meantime, many of our friends have decided to leave their things at our place while they juggle homes.  I have, thus, a twofold reaction when they arrive in Ann Arbor: “Welcome back–now get your crap out of my apartment or I’ll toss it!!”

In the mean time, Rocky, Albert and I went on an adventure of sorts this past Thursday; waking up at 7AM–in summer hours, that translates to the crack of dawn–and headed out of #8 in the wee morning hours on a quest.  The night before, they’d called nearly every Best Buy in southeastern Michigan, searching for a store that would have HP TouchPads in stock–the two wavered for a few days whether or not the discontinued and severely discounted tablets would be worth buying, and by the time they decided $150 would be a suitable purchase price for a machine that cost $330 to manufacture, it was already difficult to find a legitimate retailer online.

7.15--Rocky checking the computer before we headed out!

They tracked down 17 tablets that were on their way to Farmington Hills; hence, a mini-road trip commenced to guarantee procurement of the desired computers.  Excessive groaning about the hour, reckless driving, morning traffic, and a short discussion on Pastafarian beliefs punctuated the forty-five minute ride.

“Wait–Flying Spaghetti Monster?!”

“Yeah… it’s their god.  Pretty cool, hunh?”

“You’re shitting me!” <– Rocky’s catchphrase.

What I didn’t realize was that we would have to wait in line; unfortunately, it was quite cold and I hadn’t brought a jacket. Neither had Rocky, and while we sat, huddled and shivering, Albert just laughed at us. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long, and we occupied ourselves by manipulating fat, opera-singing graphic little men on Rocky’s iPod.

Ultimately, we got our TouchPads (we were numbers 10, 11, and 12 in line), and we are very thoroughly amused by all the silly games we can play.  The following exchange between Albert and Rocky, discussing the lackluster quality of that morning’s breakfast, was probably my favorite exchange of our adventure:“If they don’t have it and we waited out here for nothing, we’re going to McDonald’s on the way back!”

“So… if they do have it–“

“-we’re still going to McDonald’s on the way back!”

 

We never went to McDonald’s; they were too busy playing!

I have been back in Ann Arbor (away on an unexpected, in many ways, trip to Shanghai) for a few weeks, but haven’t felt the compulsion to update. For that, dear readers, I sincerely apologize and promise that many, many entries are on their way!!

On the way to work yesterday, however, I came across local Ann Arbor artist David Zinn working on a new mural and found it too adorable not to photograph and too lovely not to share.

Is that pig not adorable?!  One of my English teachers in high school used to pass out miniature ceramic pigs at the end of the year; she says in Germany, they’re a symbol of good luck!

The magic of chalk!  Anything arranged in a kaleidoscope of colors makes me happy.

Had lunch at Sava’s the other day, just by myself and a lovely book.  Their juices are fabulous (especially the Citrus Sunrise–orange, grapefruit and watermelon), and the above was my first meal in Ann Arbor when I first came to the city two years ago: a BLT with a fried egg, and sweet potato fries.  I’m getting back into school mode, and to recreate, on a gustatory level, the exposition of my collegiate career was a quirky, spur-of-the-moment, satisfyingly delicious idea.

What are you all doing to prepare for the upcoming return to academia?

I’m at home.  Today, coincidentally, was Take-Our-Sons-And-Daughters-To-Work Day/Earth Day Celebration at GM, so I hung out with my parents with a bunch of elementary schoolers.  It was… something. >.>

The rest of this post isn’t accurate in the chronological sense, but it is a fair reflection of how I usually get home.  I grew up in the quaint little suburban city of Troy, Michigan, and when I can’t find a carpool heading back there for the odd weekend home, I take…

From the south...

...to the north!

…the train!  Amtrak’s actually pretty annoying; the train is usually late–last time by an hour and a half–and there’s no WiFi on the train or at the station.  Food, besides two sad, dirty-looking vending machines, is quite far away, and when you walk into the station, there’s almost a feeling of intruding on a scene from the past, this preserved space.  In other words, the place is dated.  And old.  Freaking old.  Not in a good way.

Riding on the train itself is usually an enjoyable experience.  Though Internet-less, there’s an outlet for my computer, so I can still write, upload photos, watch DVDs, play Plants vs. Zombies, and on the rare trip where I don’t feel like booting up the old laptop, read a good print book.

I usually go home for two, three days each month (this time around, school has ended :D and I carpooled with Lily).  Here’s what I always take:

My riff on those 'What's in your bag?' posts. :P

  • Clothing!  Most of my closet has migrated to #8, so I usually bring a couple outfits home.
  • Messenger bag.  I don’t usually like carrying around small purses, but my mum insists upon it, so this bright orange bag sits in my closet for most of the time, until I need to go home.  When my mummy’s around, I’m not allowed to use the Derek Lam brass-detailed satchel or the feather-python bucket bag. ='(
  • Glasses cases.  I’m a sucker for luxury brand plastic eye wear, and one should always take care of anything that assists in daily functions.  MaxMara frames for daily wear, and Miu Miu sunnies. 8D
  • BOOKS!  Underneath the glasses are five paperbacks.  There’s very little to do in Troy besides going to the library or shopping; there’s this little mall we have, called Somerset (you might’ve heard of it if you live in Michigan, or are Asian visiting Michigan… >.>).  Since the city’s being ridiculous and shutting down the library, it’s now BYOB–Bring Your Own Book!
  • BAGELS. And cream cheese.  My mother and sister, one cold, winter day ten years ago, wandered into a bagel shop in Ann Arbor and ate some bagels.  And fell in love.  And forgot to note the name of the bagel store.  When I moved to Ann Arbor, I asked around and we reasoned out that the mysterious, beloved bagel shop was Breugger’s, and now, every time I go home, I must bring at least half a dozen or be locked out!

Guten morgen! And I mean that… I’ve only just gotten up about half an hour ago.  XD  A late night playing a raucous game of Apples to Apples and an unexpected, odd sleepover of sorts resulted in going to bed at 5AM and waking up past noon, leaving me to scramble and condense what I’d planned to do.

The About Me page is updated, with a very long, narcissistic rambling.  I also got rid of explications and just combined that in the general About page.

Also also also… here’s a hint of what I’m up to tonight!  No, it’s not a rave:

A lot going on this week… including my update pattern.  I think it’s very ironic that right after my blogging class concludes that I have increased motivation to write everyday.

Class at the University is wrapping up (I only have one, awful, long paper left to write), and then it will be S-U-M-M-E-R.  Not the real season, but the ridiculous, long four months of what should be planting season in our previously agriculture-based society, and like every year for the last six or so years, I am in a quandary of what my plans will be.  I have a general outline (working, reading, cooking, and blogging, of course), but there’s an anticipation for something wonderful, something exciting to happen, and I don’t know what that something is!

Obviously, one of my goals for the summer is to be coherent. =P

My usual state, which doesn't require verbal articulation, unless... something's on fire.

Anyway, this Wednesday, I practiced the favorite art of procrastination by baking; my un-studying was made better by the fact that a). it was done with friends and b). we brought joy (and cookies!) to other people.  I have a very self-focused philosophy of living to enjoy myself, and most other people’s happiness is of negligible import, but I do find it self-affirming to occasionally spread good cheer.  Happy people munching on my baking is like getting hugged, except I don’t even have to touch a person (long story short… I had a traumatizing experience with superglue as a teenager, and now have extreme aversions to physical contact).

My Bible study group got together at the apartment of our Fearless Leader (aka Rosalie), and we spent three hours baking cookies to pass out to hungry, harried students studying in the libraries on campus.  It was part outreach in that there were Bible verses printed out and wrapped with each cookie, but it was, for me, mostly another way to avoid studying and fun to do a random act of kindness.

The boys, left to right, Josh, Nathan, and Sassypants (Andy), at work.

All the eggs and butter we used... mmmm butter.

Benefit of unorthodoxly using one's hands to make cookie dough: eating the residue.

Fearless Leader/Rosalie taking over. That's Nathan in the back, still eating cookie dough.

The chocolate chip cookie dough Nathan was eating.

Sassypants Andy trying to mix the oatmeal raisin cookie dough with a spoon. When that failed...

...he decided to emulate Nathan's hands-on method (not... really sorry for the pun. =P). Josh is in the middle, and Jodi and Iris are working on sugar cookies to the right.

I was assigned white chocolate macadamia cookies. They're my mother's favorite!

Bert, the oven mitten monster that took over Josh's arm.

The overflowing box and basket of wrapped cookies. We made a lot of students happy. =3

And… finally… the last part of this post.  The Life of the Humble Sugar Cookie:

Iris creaming the butter and sugar together for the sugar cookie.

Rolled out and dusted with sugar before baking...

...and here they are, out of the oven.

There were good ones. They got wrapped up and paired with a Biblical message; don't really agree with Matthew here... but who reads inserts when there's a cookie right there? Besides with fortune cookies. =P

The many rejects. :D


Living in #8 was not my first experience living on my own outside of the dormitories; last year, I took spring semester courses and sublet a one-bedroom basement studio for two months.  My diet, for a number of reasons, shrank until I was approaching anorexia–luckily, spring semester ended, I moved back home with my parents, and my mother oversaw that I regained normal eating habits–but one of the lessons I learned was how to cook for one.

Cooking for one is very different in that your only obligation is to yourself; my problem, and I imagine most people are similar, is that I’m lazy.  To be responsible for three meals a day is sometimes kind of daunting, and it’s so easy, especially on a college campus or busy town, to just stop by a restaurant or diner and grab some takeout, or just pop a TV dinner into the microwave and nosh on that for the night.  That route, however, is definitely unhealthy, and when you enjoy food as much as I do, sometimes, the craving for some home-cooked, healthy, fresh goodness is insatiable unless I bust out the knives and the pots and do it myself.

In #8, we’ve got a pretty snazzy way of navigating feeding.  Because our kitchen’s small and impossible to fit more than two people comfortably, we don’t do a lot of communal cooking like they do in some of the local co-ops.  What we actually do is assign at the beginning of each semester one night where each of us is responsible to cook dinner for the others, and then, because of our varying class schedules, breakfast and lunch are individually executed.  As a college student, then, most of my cooking repertoire is portioned for one; the easy thing about one-person recipes, though, is that it can easily be multiplied!

While I’ll occasionally wake up early and make breakfast for everyone, lunch is always my own affair.  A lot of times, it involves reheating leftovers, but I usually have enough time to make something from scratch.  Below is what I call my ‘Lazy Pasta,’ a combination of tri-color fusili (the orange corkscrews are from tomatoes, and green from spinach), blanched spinach, diced tomatoes, sliced salami… and cream cheese and pasta water, swirled together for an easy, near-ridiculous, “white sauce.”

I was clearing out my refrigerator last year, and all I had left were a package of cream cheese and a box of pasta.  It kind of reminded me of macaroni and cheese, so I experimented in throwing the two together, and it then transformed into an easy way to dress up noodles.  Having all of my nutrition in one bowl is also convenient, for eating and for clean up.

Lazy Pasta

Ingredients
3/4 cup dried fusili (or 1 serving of your choice of pasta)
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped salami (ham would be yummy too)
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons cream cheese
salt&pepper, to taste
pasta water, as needed

Directions

Boil lightly salted water and prepare pasta as directed on the box!  My fusili calls for 8 minutes until al dente…

…so at 6 minutes, I also add in the spinach to lightly blanch it.

Take out a few tablespoons of the pasta water and set aside for the sauce later.

Drain the pasta and spinach, and then put it back into a warmed bowl.

Add the cream cheese, and toss until it’s melted and coated the pasta evenly.  Add pasta water, as needed, if you want to thin it out (although it’s likely you won’t need it).

Toss in the salami and tomato, then season with salt and pepper! :)

This last Saturday, the sophomore class of AIV invited the freshmen to an afternoon of studying and bonding at Palmer Commons.  There were snacks, a sandwich bar, games, shenanigans, and lots of fun!

Most of the food. It was consumed quickly.

The freshmen, stick-figured. =)

In the throes of laughter and the middle of playing Mafia. Grace is laughing in the striped tank on the right.

Studying hard... or hardly studying? Jason is one of the three guys in this picture. Guess a). what these guys are playing, and b). which ones Jason!

Multi-tasking... studying AND Catan.

I wasn’t the only one taking pictures!  Here are some pictures of other friends taking pictures:

Maggie, to the right, and Rocky, on the left, snapping pictures.

My friend Kelli, and future neighbor in #4.

Christina, another future #4 resident, with Rockys camera.

And finally… the cookies.  My friend James dropped off a lot of the groceries at #8 the night before, to facilitate easier transportation to Palmer Commons than where he lives near North Campus, and the morning of, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies for everyone.  They also did double-duty as Jason’s breakfast.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from AllRecpies

Ingredients
1 cup (preferably dark) brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon  salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.

Fold the wet ingredients slowly into the dry, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets, and then bake 9-11 minutes.

Makes… lots. ;)

Another quick post today… my friend and fabulous photographer Winnie Jeng (the visual genius behind Attention to Eating, written by the great Jason Siegfried) surprised me today with a photo from a shoot we did a long while ago.  The screenshot below is from her blog Snapshot Aesthetic, where she dumps all of her pictures taken from her growing vintage film camera collection.

This was taken between lighting changes, and the fabulous model is none other than Maeve.  To check out the full shoot and the final pictures, click HERE.

Partly because our cupboards are full, partly because we’re bored, and mostly because we can, Rocky and I built our Leaning Tower of Tupperware atop the refrigerator.  That last container is about one inch away from the ceiling.  One false move and some poor soul will be besieged with plastic container after plastic container! :D

Martha (not that one, but similarly great–Martha of the awesome Thought Collector!) asked me last week what I was reading.

I am currently tackling:
  • Waylaid by Ed Lin; great, great book, a tiny little thing you can carry easily on the go.  Also adapted into a film, called The Motel, which, in a rare circumstance (preceded only before by The Devil Wears Prada and Julie & Julia), I like the move more than the book.  But you should still read the book (don’t read TDWP; it’s a waste of time. J&J was ok).
  • Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo; if not for my Asian-American Literature class, I would probably avoid this book, and probably because of my Asian-American Lit class, I will avoid post-colonial fiction for a while.  This is really well written, though, and if you like magical realism or explorations of sexuality, you’ll probably dig this.
  • Bad Heir Day by Wendy Holden; awful.  Probably because I’m not really feeling into little-cognition-needed reading right now, but I couldn’t get past the first ten pages and just sort of threw the book down the library chute.
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; for my English class.  It’s a graphic memoir, sort of like Maus, and their are hundreds of references to other works of literature throughout the work.  It’s interesting.
  • Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh; apparently, when a book is about 800 pages long and two inches thick, it’s a big book.  When this book arrived in the mail, though, I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning–I adore, worship, revere Rudolf Nureyev like no other pop culture figure (yes, even more than Martha), and Kavanagh’s biography of his life is regarded as one of the best biographies ever written.  I concur; it is definitely great, even if you’re not into iconic ballerinos of the 20th century. READ THIS!
  • The New York Times Tame Crosswords by Will Shortz; not really reading… struggling through.  With some help from my roommates.