Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Lessons, Achievements and Memorable Moments of 2012

2012 was a tough and memorable year. May be every year of my life should be like that. A year with a few challenges and some happiness. That means and I lived throughly. This year, like previous years, went quickly. As I get older, the time goes faster. Even though it went fast, there are still a lot to look back. Here are some achievements 2012 helped me, memorable moments 2012 gave me, and lessons 2012 taught me

1. Experienced working full-time for the first time.
2. Moved to Ashland and survived living away from home for the first time. 
3. Got an internship offer!! 
4. Finished Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting and Sat for CPA exam.
5. Not only studied accounting, but also taught accounting. 

Memorable Moments 
6. Made A LOT of new friends ALL OVER the world and this helped me improved three languages.
7. Reconnected my friends from elementary school in Japan through Facebook.
8. Received compliment about my piano skills and even taught others how to play.
9. Cooked for myself and other people, and they all liked my treats regardless of age, gender, and nationality.

10. Always put smile on my face no matter how bad the situation is, so that will help me stay positive and good luck would come.
11. Morning is the best time to study and get all the tasks done. 
12. Time of is quality over quantity because it is better to stay focused for a short period of time than not to be focused for a long period. 

How was your 2012? Happy New Year 2013!! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I am sure you all have something special about Christmas in your life. For me, it is the most important holiday because it is also my mother's birthday. I believe some families have their own holiday traditions. My family tradition is celebrating my mother's birthday, eating cake, watching movies, and listening to a lot of Christmas music. 

Thanks mom for always being the good example for me. I love you. You are a Christmas child. 

Last year, I added baking my mother's birthday cake for our holiday tradition. We used to order cake from the bakery. We considered baking on our own, but we were either too busy or the cake did not turn well like the bakery. However, last year, I became addicted to baking, and my baked cookies, muffins and pies turned out to be very well, so I decide to give the cake another try. It was challenging at first, but I followed the recipe carefully, and it turned out satisfying. 
 The cake is ready to be decorated by using whipped cream and a lot of fruits. 
This year, there was a huge improvement. The cake turned out to be extremely successful. I putted a lot of effort into making the cake. I learned lessons from previous baking experiences and followed tips. I also spend time designing the cake. I decided to use a lot of delicious fruits to make it pretty and delicious.  

My mother LOVED the cake. She said it is better than the cake we used to get from local bakeries. She always complained about the cake was too sweet for her. She was not dessert person like me, but she ate TWO pieces. I am so HAPPY. 
I enjoyed the cake, too. It is best with a cup of tea, coffee, or milk. I can't wait to make it again. 

Besides baking, I also watched many Christmas movies and played and listen Christmas music this break. They change my way of viewing the Holiday. 

What I learned about Christmas:

1. Believing in Santa Claus is not about whether he exists or not, it is about trust in faith, hope for the miracle, and magic in life. 

2. Family traditions are important because that is what keeps them together and create family history. Someday when we get old, we have something to remember and give to our descendants.  
3. The main purpose of the holiday is not about luxurious presents, fancy parties, and elegant decorations, it is about family and gather together and spend time with each other. My favorite Christmas song is "All I want for Christmas is You." I listened and danced this song countless time, this year. 

4. Warm food and live music make people stay alive, active, and motivated during cold weather. I like to always have some food cooked in the kitchen and music played in my house during the winter days. 

5. Christmas music is so special. It is timeless, loved by people at all ages, and sung by the people all over the world. No matter where we go, who we meet, when the time is, people can be connect through Christmas music. 

Now Christmas is over, I am kind of sad, but New Year is COMING!! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

I like cookies, and I love to bake cookies. First time I started to bake, there were trials of errors and I made the kitchen very messy. The more I bake, the better I become. There are various kinds of sugar recipe, and this one is my favorite. Sometimes, I found sugar cookies that are too sweet; however, this sugar cookie is perfect on its sweetness. Most importantly, this is cookie made me famous at Southern Oregon University. People loved this cookie regardless of their age, gender, and ethnicity. 

Tips for making the PERFECT sugar cookie. 

-Chill the cookie dough, so it would not lose its shape while it is baking. When the dough its too soft, the cookie will spread. 
-Measure the ingredients precisely. I recommend to weight the dry ingredients instead of using measure cups. 
-Use the good quality butter and pure extracts. Most of the flavor comes from those two ingredients. 
-Roll out the dough to the even thickness, so part of the cookie will not look darker than the other.
-Constantly scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure the all the ingredients are completely mixed. 

1 cup (227g) of butter (room temperature)
1 cup (200g) of sugar
1 egg
*1 teaspoon of vanilla 
3 cups (390g) of flour
**1/4 teaspoon of salt 

*I like vanilla flavored sugar cookies, however you can substitute any extracts. Sometimes I use almond as well.
**I usually use unsalted butter, so I add it, but if you used salted butter, omit it. 
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together
  2. Add an egg and vanilla
  3. Gradually add the flour and make the dough come together
  4. Divide the dough into two to three parts and wrap in the plastic 
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour to overnight
  6. Roll out the dough into 1/4 inch thickness
  7. Shape the dough using cookie cutters  (Be creative!!)
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges turned brown.
You can even package them and send as gifts. Aren't they cute? 
Enjoy!! Decorate them with sprinkles or color your glaze if you want!! Merry Christmas!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dead Week and Final Week Recap

This is my first post for December. I can't believe it is already December, and it is almost middle of the month. I am sorry that I have not been blogging since Thanksgiving because there were dead week and final weeks, so I was EXTREMELY busy. Beside studying, there were so many other things going on as well. 

I studied A LOT during those two weeks, and I loved get in groups and study with other people. I had two study groups. 

First one was with my hall mates in the library. We reserved a room. I was pretty much live in the library around that time.  

Another one was with my classmate. We were suppose to go to the library, but I decide to have it in my room. This happened the night before the test, and we were basically cramming everything.

However, there are some fun going on, which added some excitements and made the weeks brighter. 

1. Friends' Birthday Surprise Party: two of my friends had birthday on the weekend before final, so we decide to throw a "Surprise Birthday Party"!! Although we were busy studying for finals, many people still managed to show up and celebrate. 

2. Baking Cookies: I baked Christmas cookies for my hall mates as my christmas gift. I felt glad that the cookies turned out to be successful. One of the girl from my hall helped me making them, so it saved me so much work. Thank you!!
3. Book Sale: Business club had our quarterly Business Textbook Sale. We buy and sell old books from students. Unfortunately, I did not want to sell any of my accounting books, and I am done with the program, so I did not have to buy any books. 

There were also something that helped me release stress and gave me relaxation.

1. Exercise: This helped me study better because moving my body gave me motivation. After a nice workout, I feel I cleared my mind and my brain feels refreshed. 
2. Choir Concert: My roommate was involved in the choir, so I went the concert. They sang some Christmas music and sounded beautifully. Listening to classical music makes me relax. 

3. Food: I was lucky that many meal related events going on. First, there was "Holiday Dinner with the Business Chair" from Business Club. It was a potluck style dinner, and there were warm comfort dishes. Then there was "Winter Wonderland Dinner Buffet" from the dining. It served various kinds of delicious food. Last one was the "Midnight Pancake Feed" from the Housing. I think the best time for eating breakfast in the midnight is the dead week. 

After all the busyness, I had to pack and drove back about 2 hours after my last final. Crazy!?

Overall, I am HOME from school!! Let's the winter break begin. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner/Potluck/Buffet

I had a SUPER awesome thanksgiving, this year. WHY? First, I got spend my thanksgiving in this beautiful town called "Ashland"!! (I think it was my first time spending thanksgiving other than Portland since I arrived to the US) Second, I ate MULTIPLE thanksgiving dinners. So the it was DEFINITELY the BEST thanksgiving I ever had. 

1. Thanksgiving/International Potluck: my first thanksgiving dinner started with the members in the International Student Association. We had a potluck style thanksgiving dinner at a special place called "White House". I heard the house was "haunted," but I guess it was rumor. Inside was actually very pretty and elegant. It used to be the President's House.

Group photo: There were a lot of people!! Some of them were VERY GOOD cooks. We all had such a great time hanging out, eating yummy food, and laughing with each other. 

I made Japanese Omelette (Tamagoyaki), Egg Fried Rice and Cupcakes. Tamagoyaki was popular, and they were gone before I noticed. Since it was an international style, so I got taste all the delicious around the world. There were a lot of talented cooks in ISA. Thanks for ISA's board members for organizing this event. We were all sick of campus food, so this event gave us chance to taste some home-cooked meal. 

2. Thanksgiving Buffet: my second thanksgiving dinner was brought by the dining of my hall. We had Harvest Celebrating Dinner Buffet two days before Thanksgiving. Thanks for people who organized it. I think most of students living on campus felt sick of daily dining food, so this dinner was nice way to experience some changes. 

The night's special courses were Prime Rib & Shrimp. Sadly, I tried neither of these. I was not in the mood of eating meat, and shrimp was gone when I went there. I heard from my friends that they were super good. 

There were a lot of food anyway, so it was definitely not disappointing. People better get there early, so all the good ones Don't you wish we had this kind of food everyday? 

3. Thanksgiving Dinners/Lunches/Breakfasts: My 3rd thanksgiving dinner was of course with my parents. They came from Portland to Ashland. I was super happy. We decided for this year's thanksgiving, they came to visit me instead of I am going home, so we can explore Ashland. Besides actual thanksgiving dinner, we explored various places in Ashland. When they were here, I felt every meal was like eating a Thanksgiving Dinner.

My mom and I at a Thai food restaurant. 

My dad and I before we start to eat the thanksgiving dinner.

After having enough thanksgiving dinners, there will other holiday dinners coming up. Yay for more eating. I am in the middle of dead week and final week, so all the wonderful  food is 

I hope your thanksgiving was as good as mine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My OWN Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Happy Thanksgiving!! I should have write something about what I am thankful for. However I realized that there are SO MANY things I want to be thankful for and I do not want miss anything,    Plus I already wrote a similar post like that last year 

Instead,  I am going to share my pumpkin pie recipe. I love Thanksgiving because I like to cook and of course eat. Last year, I made pumpkin pie for the first time. I made everything from scratch, the pie crust, pie filling and even pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin Puree:
Actually it is very easy to make. You will need a pumpkin, knife, and baking sheet. 

1. Wash the pumpkin
2. Cut it in half
3. Take out the seeds
4. Place the pumpkin face down on a baking sheet 
5. Preheat the oven to 350 F
6. Bake for about an hour until the pumpkin is so soft enough for a knife to be easily insert.
7. Use a spoon to scope all the pumpkin out from the skin. 

This is a step by step video.

Pie Crust: 
This crust is BEST crust. I absolutely LOVED it. It is kind of tricky, but it is doable. 


1 1/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (1 sticks) (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 - 120 ml) ice water

1. In a bowl or food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Add butter in and the mixture will look like coarse meal
3. Add ice water gradually. 
4. Gather the dough into a ball and chill in refrigerator for an hour
5. Roll out the dough into a large circle about 9 inch. Make the thickness is even
6. Place the dough on a pie plate. 
7. Chill the dough for a bit before baking. 

Makes one 9 inch (23 cm) pie crusts. 

Tip: Make the butter and water is EXTREMELY cold.  
If you want learn more: Demonstration Video

Pie Filling: 
Most of the food I make, the recipe comes from somebody else, but this pie filling is my FIRST own special recipe. I did use others' recipes for guidance though. I think filling is the easiest part to make for the entire pie. 


2 eggs
1/3 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of pure vanilla exact
1 tsp cinnamon 
½ tsp salt
1 cup of half and half (whole milk and heavy cream should work as well)

1. Preheat Oven to 350F
2. Beat eggs and add sugar and vanilla
3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, salt and other spices (if there is)
4. Gradually add milk/half and half/cream
5. Pull the batter into the pie crust
6. Bake for about an hour until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. 

Now Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I LOVE About Fall

Now is middle of November, which means it is almost end of the Fall. The weather is getting colder and colder everyday, and winter is approaching. I better write something before it ends. 

I LOVE fall!! Actually I like all four seasons equally because they all have something special in it. 

1. Leaves and Colors: 

I love the changing color of the leaves. The orange color is just beautiful. That is why I changed my blog background to orange. During fall days, I like to take a walk and go for a run in the park and see the pretty leaves falling out from the trees. I realized fading is as wonderful as blooming, so I am not scared of getting old and dying.  

2. Food and Holidays: 

Fall the is the season for yummy food and great holidays. There are two wonderful holidays, and they come consecutively with one and another. Halloween and Thanksgiving: I love to dress up and see all the other people dress up for halloween, and I enjoy having enormous dinner with friends and family on Thanksgiving. Most of all, both of them associated with pumkin!! I love pumpkin!! It is SO delicious. The best part is that it can be dessert, appetizer, drink, and main dish. I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, and pumpkin soup.  

3. Dressing Up and Weather: 

Dressing up for fall is very fun because I love scarf. That is the PERFECT accessory. Fall is a season of sweater and cardigan, so I like to wear them as well. The wear in the fall is nice, too. It is not too cold nor hot. The crispy weather is the BEST part. 
I hope my blog reader is enjoying your fall. What do you like about fall? Is fall your favorite season? Or you don't like fall? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween Recap

There has been SO MANY things happened since my last update. I VERY need to do some catch up. This term is SERIOUSLY CRAZY.  For the last couples, I participated in a lot of Halloween events.  Besides Halloween Events, there were Business Social, Office Visits, Interviews, and of course ENDLESS homework/tests/papers. Life is moving very fast, so don't miss a moment. On top of all the busyness, I even went to home for the weekend before the halloween, so I was pretty much booked for every second of my life. I finally have time tonight to update about my halloween memory. I took dozens of pictures. I am only going to post a few of them in the blog, and you can take a look at them on Facebook.

1) Pumpkin Curving (Friday 10/26)
Sadly, I have been living in America for ten years and I never curved a pumpkin before. I don't know why. I just did not have a chance. It was so nice for ISA (International Student Association) to host a pumpkin curving event, so all the internal/exchange students can experience it. I was scared at first, but it was not as hard as I thought. Actually, I felt pretty easy. 

I am with a Japanese Exchange student named Natsumi. You can tell she did better job than me. I also should have showed the face of the pumpkin, not the side. 

2) Halloween Dance (Friday 10/26)
Right after the pumpkin curving, I quickly changed into my halloween costume, and prepared to go to the Halloween Dance. 

My hall mates and I dressed up and we took a photo before we head to the dance together. (We are such a great family, we go to dance together and do every thing together)

The dance was host at the dorm. It had a huge balcony. The dance party was decorated by beautiful lights and flowers. I felt glad that the night was not cold because we dance with halloween costumes and most of the halloween costumes are thin. 

I had a good time at the dance. It was fun seeing people dressed in different kinds of costume. I danced a lot and it was almost midnight when I came back to my room. Not mention that, I was flying home in the next day. 

3) Halloween Party/ My Friend's Birthday Party (Saturday 10/27)

I flew home Saturday. Not long after I got off from the flight and catching up with my parents, I had to go to my friend's birthday/halloween party. Her birthday was a day before halloween. It was so wonderful to see her and hang out with other friends from high school during my short visit in Portland, especially I was away for a while. I even learned how to play Mahjong that night. 

4) Business Club Halloween (Tuesday 10/30)

The day after I came back to Ashland, I had to do some Halloween Sales for Business Club during lunch at the cafeteria. We sold Popcorn Balls and Caramel Apples. I was not a big fan of popcorn, but I really liked the popcorn ball. The apple pie flavored popcorn ball was SO YUMMY. I think I am addicted to cinnamon, now. 

There was a Zombie Dance in the Cafeteria during lunch. Since I had a table, I was sitting in the front seat for watching the dance.

5) Halloween Parade (Wednesday 10/31)
On the halloween day, there was a parade in Ashland downtown. I was debating about going or not going because it was raining and I had a lot work to do (I did not do homework when I went home for the weekend, so I was FAR behind in class). However, I still decide to go. How crazy I am!!!
Let me talk about my costume for this year: Actually this my uniform from Japanese middle school.  I had to wear it every day during my middle school days in Japan. Some people thought I was a "sailor," and others thought I dressed as a "student". Well, I can be both. I love this uniform, and I felt very happy that halloween gave me a chance to wear it again. I even wore this to class. There are not a lot of people asking me, so I hope they recognized that I dressed up for halloween.
Even though was sad because it rained, but that did not kill the spirit of Halloween. 

All in all, I think I had the BEST halloween I ever had. I have been live in the US for ten years, and this was my first first time I got involved with this many halloween events.

What did you do for halloween? Did you dress up? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Typical Day in SOU

Now, life in SOU in the normal routine. I slowly adapting the college life again. I am striving to achieve good grades in those difficult class, as the time I am trying to have fun, too. Look at those photos!! I enjoy my life in SOU.

These are what I am doing now
-12 Credits of Classes: I know it is not a lot, but they are all very hard classes. I need to spend so much time doing homework.
-Three Clubs: Accounting Student Association (ASA), Business Club, and International Student Association (ISA)
-Accounting Tutoring: I LOVE it so far. 
-Kayak Practice?: (Planning Stage) They offer a free kayak class on Wednesday nights at the pool, so I am thinking about trying it out. 

This is how my typical day looks like
7:00am - Wake Up and Go for a Run  
8:00am - Eat Breakfast and Dress up
8:30am to 12:00pm - In the Class and In the Library Studying
12:00pm to 1:00pm - Lunch 
1:30pm to 3:30pm - Tutoring or More Studying
4:00 to 6:00pm - Exercise and Take a Shower
6:00pm to 7:00pm - Dinner
7:00pm to 10:00pm - Social With My Hall Mates. Run Errands Such as Doing Laundry, Cleaning Dishes, Organizing My Room, Etc. Then Practice Piano
10:00 to 11:00 - Go to Bed and Get Ready to Sleep

This is just a typical schedule. The are shifts such as going to the market, club meeting, or social event etc. During weekends, I like to go downtown and have more social time with my friends. 

I have another week of craziness coming up, which with filled with tests and social events. So Goodnight!! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Week of Social Events

I can't believe the 3rd week is over!! I'd like to say I really like Ashland and SOU. For the moment I came to Ashland and SOU, I fall in love with the city and campus immediate. Each day goes by, I feel in love with them more and more. For the past week, there were a lot of social events. On top of that I had a lot of homework and study to do. Since I am very busy, I am going to quickly/easy recap all the social events I attended. Usually I like to post a lot of photo, but sorry for no photos for this post. I believe they will be on Facebook, so enjoy!!

1. Business After Hours: Last Wednesday night, I went to Ashland Hotel for the Business After Hours event. It was network event among Business students, faculties and employers. Ashland Hotel was a beautiful hotel, so it was the perfect place for this event. I was glad that I volunteered as a greeter in the beginning of the event. The turn out was great. I had chance to talk to all the employers who had exhibit, and I socialized with my classmates and professors as well. I wished the event was longer. 

2. Business BBQ: On Thursday, there was a BBQ in the business school. They were so kind to treat us with wonderful BBQ. I was glad they did it, so I can have chance to talk to my professors and classmates more (I also talked them at the Business After Hours, but I focused on the employers first). I shared my situation with several professors and they even gave me some advice. I made new friends with other business students. 

3. Bowling with Business Club: After the BBQ, I went to Bowling in Medford. Thanks to Amber from Business Club gave me a ride, otherwise I could not have made it. I finally got know about Business Club and the members more. When I went to their first meeting, I did not have chance to talk to them, yet. I realized Business Club is a very fun club to join, and people are very kind. Besides understanding people and organization, bowling itself was exciting. I have not down bowling for a while, and I was nervous. However, it was not bad as I thought. Thursday was definitely the craziest of the week.

4. Pride Parade: On Saturday, my friend Erika, Jacob and I went to see the Pride Parade in Downtown Ashland. It was interesting to see people dress in rainbow colors. After the parade we went to a pizza place and their pizza was heavenly. There are a lot of interesting spot to explore in Ashland downtown. 

5. Random Hang Outs in the Hall: Besides all the "scheduled" events, there were lots of "unscheduled" events. One day, my some of my hall mate said,"Dress formally, and we are going to Wendy's together," we just went to Wendy's suddenly and had mid night snack there.  There were also "Random movie nights," and we watch a lot of weird movies in the community room. There were a lot of game nights and social night in my room, too. 

Now, I have to go to sleep for another busy week. Homework seems to never end and quizzes/exams will be keep coming till the term ends. I really want to enjoy my short time in Ashland, but I have to pass all the DIFFICULT classes as well. I can always come back for vacation anyways. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

SOU Outdoor Hiking Trip

First of all, sorry for the late update. I have been very busy. If you read my previous post, you will know. I went to a hiking trip with SOU outdoor program last, last Sunday (9/23). I mentioned that I will do a blog post about it, so here it is.

Before the trip, I was debating about whether going or not going because it was the day before first day of school, and I already had several crazy days for moving to Ashland. Furthermore, the space was full when I signed up, and I had to show up on that day in order to find out whether I can go or not. Then I thought about Sunday will be my relaxing day. However, after the debating for all night long and getting lost for finding the meeting place, I still went. There were people did not show up, so there was a spot for me. So glad I was able to go and more glad that did go!!
School provided the a big car for us, it was for about 10 people.  We only had 7 people, so there were more space. 
 We headed to South. Thanks for driving us. 
We arrived at Mountain of Ashland. The air was so fresh, and it was sort of cold in the morning. I felt glad I wore layers, so I can stay warm while I am cold and take off when I am hot. Thanks for the leaders for carrying the heavy lunch for us while we hike.
We started hiking as the sun raises. 
The trees were just elegant and full of energy.
The view of the mountain was too beautiful. This is the million dollar view. 
Outdoor program leaders were so kind. They made lunch for us. We had burritos. 
 It was nice picnic on the mountain.
After lunch, we sat down on the ground and talked for a while. 
And we started to play with Oreo cookies. 
The rule is simple. Put an Oreo cookie on the forehead and try to move it to the mouth without using hands. It was so hard.
I enjoyed playing it with myself and also enjoyed watching other people play
Playing with Oreo cookies was fun, but eating them was definitely the most fun part. They are so addictive, I can eat the whole box.
After a long day of hiking, there was some of this. It must be very comfortable napping there. 
It was so much fun even though I felt very tired, and I got very dirty afterwards. I showered and washed my shoes for hours. We walked at least 7 miles on that day. I think I was able to get rid of all the extra food I had over the welcome week parties. Thanks SOU Outdoor program for planning and running this trip.