Monday, December 30, 2013

13 Moments that I Will Never Forget in 2013

2013 went by quickly like other years. Every year at this time, I heard people including myself saying,"I can't believe one year is over AGAIN." The benefit of being a blogger is that I get to reflect how many things happen in a year. I see other bloggers are doing it and I done it for the last two years, so I better write this entry. Once I realized how the meaningful the year was, I would be excited for upcoming year.  

1. (January) I run the bake sale successfully: I have participated in different kinds of fundraising events and helped other bake sales before, but I never done one myself. I was nervous, and I thought I would not sale anything and make a loss. It was my first running my own business and selling my baked goods for money. There were so much work to do and stressful. However, the sale broke-even on the first day and sold EVERYTHING on the last day.  
2. (February) I celebrated my birthday in Ashland: It was my first time in 10 years that I celebrate my birthday in a place outside of Portland. It was an amazing experience going to an Italian restaurant and have a dessert. Ashland is such a beautiful city and filled with great restaurants. I might want to celebrate my birthday in Ashland again in the future. 
3. (March) I received a treat from my boss: I was super happy to get praised from my boss. He gave me ice cream and cookies every time I did the work correctly. Sometimes he even treated me for lunch. I was very lucky to have very friendly boss. 
4. (March) I got accept to a graduate school: This was my biggest accomplishment for this year. I have been dreaming about graduate school since my graduation in 2011. I deferred my entrance till next fall, and I am very excited for it.

5. (April) I survived tax season: I knew working during tax season would be challenging before. We had to work 7 days a week and from early morning to late night everyday. However, I had a good time in the helping out in the office putting our power together and complete the tasks. After all, it was not bad at all because I liked the people I work with. They told me that I am a excellent helper, and cheer them up during the difficult times. 

6. (April) I modeled for the first time: I presented my Chinese traditional dress (which I really like) at an International Fashion Show at school with other international students. It was fun walking around with my dress, even though it was not the most comfortable cloth to wear. I enjoyed being photograph with those pretty girls. 
7. (May) I managed to walk/run in the cold for WHOLE night for Relay for Life: This experience was tougher than I thought. I love running and I don't mind stay awake for the entire night, but it was very challenging. I was getting very sleeping and feeling tired of running/walking, and it was cold at night. When I see the sun came up, I felt "how did it survive"? I guess once we can conquer coldness, there is nothing we can't face including defeating cancer.  
8. (June) I made so many good friends in Ashland and it was hard to say Good Bye to all of them: I feel blessed to have so many nice friends and caring professors in Ashland. It was my first time living away from my parents, so I really hoped that people I meet would be good to me. My life in Ashland would not be memorable without all of them. The days before I left, most of them came to me and hugged me. Then said "Good Bye," "Good Luck," and "I have faith in you" etc. to me. I tried hard not to cry. I will never forget them. 

9. (June - August) I explored a lot of beauties in Washington, Oregon, and California: Even though I have been live in Portland OR for more than 10 years now, I still have not gone most of the big nature places around me. My family visited Crater Lake, Redwood, Angels' Rest, Dogmountain, Lost Lake etc. this summer. I am truly blessed living in this pretty place. 
10. (June - November) I helped my mother with her job: I feel grateful that I got to help my mom launching and succeeding the career she likes and good at. I also felt glad that she reach out to me when she needed and I was able to help. I can't wait to see her career grow ten years down the road.   
11. (December) I cooked entire FAMILY meal ALL by myself for the first time: I have been cooking and baking since upper elementary school; however, I never cooked whole-family-sized-meal from start to finish. I usually either just make just one dish, bake a dessert, cook for only me, or help my mom prepare. I realized making a big meal was more difficult than I thought and there were a lot work and multitasking into it. I really need to thank my mom for doing it for over 20 years.  

12. (December) I got a new job for next year: This was my another for the year. I am very excited for this new opportunity. My employer seems nice person. I will put all of effort and succeed in this job. It was a perfect way to end 2013 by finding a job and even more perfect way to start 2014 by starting a new job.  

13. (December) I spent Christmas/my mother's birthday in Hawaii: It was our first time visiting Hawaii. It was also the first spending the cold winter in a warm place. It was wonderful to eat fresh fruits, watch hula dancing and learn Hawaiian culture and language. It was my mother's dream to go to Hawaii, and she felt happy to spend her big birthday in her favorite vacation spot. I think it was the best birthday she ever had and she will be cherished for rest of her life. 
There were several "first time" and "accomplishments," this year. I wish there will be more "first time"and "accomplishments" every year. They make each year worth it . 

Happy New Year, Everyone!! 
I hope everything will be better and better each year. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Holidays Mean to Me

Everyone define holiday differently, and this how I describe it. These are what I like to celebrate it. When people think of holiday, most of them would think "Christmas," there are a lot of other holidays throughout the year, such as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, etc.  All national holidays are important for me equally. 

No matter which holiday it is, they all have common meaning and purpose. They can even be the same in other countries' holidays. 

1. Time for Traditions: Each family/person has their/his/her own holiday tradition. Sometimes you don't even recognize it. When I heard some families have their traditions, I thought my family did not. Then I realized we always like to do certain things on Christmas day, we can call them as "traditions." Tradition can be created on purpose and/or formed naturally.  

2. Time for Appreciation/Giving: Thanksgiving is not only holiday for appreciation. Christmas and Valentine's Day are not the only holidays for gift sharing. Gift does not have to be a "object." We show "appreciation" to our lovers and families on Valentine's Day. We express our appreciation on independence on July 4th. We honor Veterans on Veterans' day by giving thanks.

3. Time for Good(Unique) Food: Food must be the best part for any holiday. Cookies for Christmas, turkey for Thanksgiving, chocolates and candies for Valentine, peeps for Easter etc. Most holidays are associated with their own cuisine.  Each country have different holidays, but they all use food to bringing people together. Food is universal and central for all around the world.  

4. Time for Reflection/Remembering/Forgiving/Something NEWI like to do annual personal reviews during holidays. I reflect the past year and sort what I should remember and forgive for the year. Good memories and people I met should be kept, so they will stay with me. Sad memories would be forgotten and bad people would be forgiven. I also like to try something new every year, so I can get a fresh start. 

5. Time for Bonding/Relaxing: During any holiday anywhere, everybody should be surrounded by people they love and feeling relaxed. No one should be alone, working, and/or stressed for this wonderful time of the year. Holiday time is family and friends time and happiness. This is same for every country's significant holidays. 

I will be taking vacation next week and I am very excited for it. I can't wait to share the details of my trip when I get back!!

I wish you a Merry Christmas!!

Xiaoxi Mei 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Five My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

October and November ALL about pumpkin. For the last several of falls, I had pumpkin overload. There were pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin rice pudding etc… I pretty much tasted EVERYTHING in pumpkin flavored….

This fall, I try not get into "pumpkin coma". I will control myself to only limit to these following five recipes 

When I cook pumpkin, I like to make my own puree. I never used the canned pumpkin puree, but that would work as well. HERE is a step by step video demonstrates how to make pumpkin puree. It is easier than you think. 

No. 5 Pumpkin Pancakes
The recipe can be found in HERE

I have eaten so many different kinds of pumpkin food, but I never experienced pumpkin pancakes. This is definitely going to my  pumpkin baking list because we all enjoy tender pancakes. This would be a great breakfast in the crispy fall morning. I can't wait to make them. 

No. 4 Pumpkin Cookies 

The recipe can be found in HERE

When I made these cookies with my friends on halloween two years ago, we had marvelous time. The kitchen turned quite a mess. The texture was like a bread rather than cookie. It is not the prettiest cookie, but they do have the yummy fall flavor. 

No. 3 Pumpkin Roll

The recipe can be found in HERE

First time I had pumpkin roll was in Southern Oregon University's dorm cafe. It was SUPER delicious. Then I found it at my local Wal-Mart store, so I let my family taste it, too. They like it as well. I love the cream cheese filling, which is not too sweet. I hope I can make it someday. I never roll cake, and it look challenging. 

No. 2 Pumpkin Bread
The recipe can be found in HERE

Among all my baked goods, my family likes the quick/sweet bread the best. It is perfect warm, sweet, and soft from the oven. We can eat it as breakfast and/or snack. It can also made into the muffins. This year, we gave several pumpkin muffins out. They all wanted the recipe and thought the muffins were the best gift ever.   

No. 1 Pumpkin Pie
The recipe can be found in HERE

My favorite is definitely the PIE!!  It was the first pumpkin treats I had. Before knowing the pie, I did not like pumpkin, so the it opened my taste buds to all the pumpkin world. I was very nervous when I first baked the pie because it sounded difficult. I did not expect it would turn that great. 

What kind of pumpkin do you like the best? Are you going to make pumpkin pie for thanksgiving? 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Zucchini Bread Recipe

Couple of month ago I made Zucchini Bread Bread, and the reaction from my family was unforgettable. When I bake something, they are usually happy to eat; however, this time they LOVED it. I was afraid to make this bread at first because we never cooked zucchini at home before, so I did not expect the it would turnout to be that good. Since I was extremely satisfied with the result, I decide to share the recipe in here. 
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract  
2 cup of shredded raw zucchini
1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking of soda
1/4 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of cinnamon 
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix oil and two kinds of sugar together
2. Add eggs one at time and then vanilla
3. In another bowl, combine flower, baking soda, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
4. Scoop about half cup of the dry ingredients and incorporate it with nuts. This prevents nuts from sinking down in the bottom while baking.
5. Put zucchini, nuts, and dry ingredients to the oil/sugar/egg/vanilla mixture
6. Preheat oven to 350F
7. Grease 9X5 inch pan with nonstick spray
8. Pour the batter into the pan and drop the pan on the table for several times 
9. Bake for about an hour until a knife inserted center comes out clean
10. Let it cool, then ENJOY!! 
Here is the in side of the bread. Isn't beautiful? 
It was warm, soft, and mildly sweet. Nothing can be more perfect than home made bread just came out from the oven. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Summer 2013 Part 2: I LOVE LOVE Lakes and Beaches

Besides all the mountains I hiked, I also went several lakes and beaches over the summer. There hiking trails as well. 

Lost Lake: like the name, it is literally Lost Lake. It was hard to find, and it took us forever to arrive to this elegant place. 
Water looked so fresh!! I wondered, I am allowed to drink the water or not. I wanted to swim in there, but sadly, I did not bring my swimming suit, which is a bummer. At least I put my feet in the water for a little bit. 

I did not get to swim in the lake, however, I learned how to row the boat. It is not my first time I rowed the boat, but it is my first I actually learned how to row.

 You can tell I am having fun rowing the boat at the same time, there were some struggles. Finally, being able to row the boat is my another success and accomplish for this summer.

Seaside: Each year, my family tries to make a trip to Seaside at least once. This year we went there twice. 
I admit that I LOVE to play in the water. I can stand going to the beach without getting soaked. 
We found a park called "Ecola State Park" near Seaside this year. It was a great hike a long the beach with all the trees, smell of the ocean, and wind. 

All in all, my summer was filled with sun, water, mountains and trees. Summer in Oregon is glamours!! Thanks mother nature for giving Oregonians a wonderful summer enjoy every year. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Summer 2013 Part 1: I LOVE LOVE Hiking and Mountains

Well, summer is over. I can't believe it is October!! It is when Fall officially begins. I am sad that the weather is getting cold and days are shorter, but I am so excited to for next few months with holidays. I am looking forward to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!! Before celebrating all the crazy holidays, I'd like recap my summer. 

I hiked a lot places this summer. We love to go hiking during weekends and we usually do it at Multnomah Fall, Washington Park or Forest Park. During summer we decided to explore several other places and some of them were quite challenging.

For example: Angel's Rest Trail  
The road was difficult due to so many steep route, but there were some easier path to take. The hike was very long. 
However, the view was worth looking at. The day was so lo hot, so I became so sweaty that day. 

Another one was Dog Mountain.

Same as Angel's Rest Trail, it was not an easy hike. There were a lot of stones and bushes to cross over. 
Is it beautiful? Even my legs were sore to death, this scenery made me forget about the pain. 

After hiked those places, Multnomah Falls, Washington Park, and Forest Park Hike are no longer challenging.

So, if you have a chance to come to Oregon, I recommend you to visit Mulnomah Fall, Washington Park, and Forest Park. They are absolutely gorgeous!! If you want more hiking challenging, please make a trip to Angel's Rest and Dog Mountain. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Fact: I did NOT like taking standard tests.  

I am sure there are students out there who hate to take them as well. However, every one MUST take it if he/she wants to go to college and/or graduate school. Based from my experience, there some pros and cons about both tests, so not everything is bad . 

1. Does not take points off: I felt glad when I heard GRE does not take points for the wrong answers because SAT does. I can guess and mark all the answer spot freely. It is always better with answers than leave at blank. 

2. More flexibility in test dates: GRE are offer ALMOST EVERYDAY throughout the year. I am able to schedule any day I want. It even let people sign up at last minute if it was not busy. 

3. Release the score immediately: I know my raw score right after I finish taking the exam, so I do not have spend weeks waiting and worrying about the result. 

1. Testing Fee is expensive: Each test costs more than 100 dollars to take it. It is more than twice the price of taking the SAT. 

2. Limited Testing location: The test can be only taken at a Prometric testing center. There are only couple of locations each city, so a lot of people would feel inconvenient. 

3. Previous section affects next section: This might be only me; I did not like the part how my performance from previous section affect next section. GRE also sends score to the Universities directly. 

1. Testing Fee is cheaper: SAT is only 50 dollars, so it is more feasible for students who would like to take it multiple times. 

2. Previous section does not affect next section: Each section is independent. I was able to refresh from transitioning to the next section, and I did not have to worry about performance in the previous one. 

3. Convenient testing: The test is offer at ALL high schools, so it is easier to commute. 

1. Does Take points off: This made me scared of guessing the answer. I was only answered the questions which I was confident with. I hoped all the answers were correct, so no point would been taken off. 

2. Less often offered: SAT is offer only several times in a year, usually once a month. 

3. Take time to know the score: I did not enjoy waiting for test result for several weeks back in high school.  There are also deadlines for application, so students have to schedule the exam date prior to the deadline. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fundraising and Bake Sale Tips

Since I was in high school, I liked to participate in a lot of fundrasing activities. My favorite one was Car Wash back then. I loved playing in the water in the hot sun. Now, my favorite is bake sale. I organized a Bake Sale back in January for Relay for Life. It is an annual fundraising event for cancer foundation at my school. Both my Bake Sale and Relay for Life were huge success. I'd like to share the tips I learned from participating those activities. 

1. Have a Crowd of People 

Do you know that crowd attracts crowd? If you have many members in the fundraising team, the chances of raising more money is higher. 

2. Make Everything From Scratch 

No matter if you are going to sell baked goods or other stuff, it is better to make them from scratch. I know it is a lot of work, but it will lower so much cost. (I'd like to thank my two helpers for my bake sale:) 

3. Decorate the Table Nicely

Be creative!! This is another way to attract more customer. There are different kinds decoration sold in various party stores. If you are tight on budget, you can go to Dollar Tree or hand craft the decorations. I feel grateful that I have team members who are talented. 

4. Going Chocolate
Do you know what were the best sellers on the bake sale? I sold four items and the rank would be 1. Brownie 2. Chocolate Dipped Shortbread 3. Chocolate Chip Cookies 4. Sugar Cookies. I was surprised that people LOVE chocolate regardless of their age, gender, and race. 

5. Keep the Price Simple and Low and Give Incentives 

People are short on cash, and I do not recommend using credit card for fundraising events. I made my cookies small enough to price them 25 cents a piece. My incentive was $1 for five pieces in order to attract people to buy more. Sometimes do not even price anything, and"Based on Donation" sign.  

6. Avoid Allergies and Give Vegan and Gluten Free Option 

Please do NOT USE NUTS. I did not put nuts in any of my treats. Not only there are people allergic to nut, but also increase the ingredient cost. I did not do the vegan and gluten free option, but I wish I did. It might cost more money by having the options; however if you have the budget, I recommend you do it. 

7. Doing Something Very Funny

There were some some laughable moments at Relay for Life. One of them was let the men dress like women and ask for money. People choose to donate to their favorite ones. Dressed men compete who can get the most donation. This event made the fundraising process fun and memorable. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

What I LOVE About Summer

You know me now, right? I like to write about what I love about each season. I wrote What I LOVE About SpringWhat I LOVE About Winter and What I LOVE About Fall for the past year. Summer is officially began, so it is the perfect time to share my summer favorites. 

1. Sunshine and Beach: Sunshine makes me happy and productive!! I enjoy waking up early and work as I soak the sun. Sunshine also makes everything look beautiful like flowers and trees. I lived in Oregon for the last 11 years, where it rains most of the year, so sunny days are previous for Oregonians. I also enjoy going to the beach because I like to play in the water since I was little. I feel glad that I live in Portland where it is only one and half hour away from the seaside. 

2. Fresh Fruits and Vegetable: Summer is the time of harvest!! There are cherries growing in my backyard and I can make trips to local farm to pick up all the goodies. I tend to eat healthier during summer compare to fall and winter (holidays, you know...) because of the all the fresh produce.  

3. Dress Up for Hot: If you have read my last three posts, I always end the list with dressing up. My mother loves dressing up, so I get it from her. I like the fact that it is very hot outside, so I can wear less in summer, and I can change my cloth quickly. I love wearing simple things such as T-shirt, shorts and skirts everyday. 

After I publish all the wonderfulness in each season, isn't it so hard to decide which season to love the most? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Graduation and Blogging Two Years Later: Happy Birthday Blog

Sorry for lack of blogging. I was busy moving back from Ashland. After living by myself and in a different city nearly a year, it takes sometime to adjust the environment in Portland and at home. 

Now it is the graduation season again. I realized, I started blogging right after my college graduation, so it is both anniversaries of my graduation and blogging life. 

Every graduation season, I do a little recap about my post grad life and make goals for next year and next a few years. I decide to make it as a tradition for celebrating my blog's birthday. 

Two Years Ago I Wrote

1. Studying for GRE and Take the GRE (done)
2. Decide a Graduate Program and APPLY(done)
3. Get a job or internship (I did an internship) 
4. Finish Graduate School!!! (I have an offer)

A Year Ago I Wrote
1. Finish Post-Baccaurate Certificate in Accounting Program (done) 
2. Find a permanent job using the skill I learn from last two jobs  (working on it)
3. Lose more weight and also build a better shape (working on it) 
4. Continue to improve cooking and cleaning skills (working on it)
5. Write better posts and hope to attract more viewership (getting better) 

There are goals/to-do-lists I already finished and still need to do!! Just like last couple of years, I will share my next steps. 

For Next Several Years 
1. Pass all parts of CPA Exam 
2. Finish graduate school 
3. Find a permanent job
4. Build better shape and healthier life style
5. More improvements in my blogging and writing career

I'd like to end my post with this quote
"We don't have to finish a school to have a graduation 
We don't to wear cap and gown for graduation 
We can celebrate graduation every time we complete a step in life
We graduate for all the moments of improvements and successes!!" 

Happy Birthday Blog!!
Happy Graduation EVERYONE!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Tips for Graduate School Essay

As you know that I got into a graduate school, I decided to share some tips for filling out the graduate school application. I am going to talk about graduate school essay because it probably the most important part of the application. 

1. Be Yourself and Unique: I know there are standards you have to follow in the essay. The standards are just the correct grammar and professional language. Beside that, everything is up to you, so please be creative. Do not try to sound like somebody else. 

2. Brainstorm Early and Spend Time: Graduate school essay is definitely NOT the essay you can write last minute. It is VERY important to put A LOT of time into it from brainstorming, outlining, 1st draft, 2nd draft..... then final draft. 

3. Have Objective Goal and Straightforward: Make you know WHY you want to go to graduate school. School cares your reason. You might not have a. Your strong desire to the program makes a strong candidate for the program. 

4. Avoid Redundency and Correct Length: There are length have to be follow on the essay. There are schools that feel strict about the length and some are not.  Even they are not, still try not to go over too much of the length. I recommend outline the essay first and write precisely. 

5. Have Someone Review and Review Again: This is EXTREMELY important!! The essay should be free from grammar mistake. Also get feedback from writing tutors, professors, parents etc. There are people out there willing to help. I read and let other read my essay over and over again before I submitted. 

For those of thinking about going and applying for graduate school, I hope these tips helped you. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Five Facts About Being a Mother

Happy Mother's Day. Don't forget to tell/call/skype your mother  today. I am sad that this is our first year we can not spend mother's day together. Sorry Mom!!

It seems endless to talk about her. Two years ago, I wrote Five Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me and last year, I wrote Five Things I Admire About My Mother. Please take a look.

This year, I am going to write what is being a mother. I learned following five facts; not only from my mother, but also from my grandmother. My grandmother was an amazing woman, too. She worked diligently to raise her four children, and she was a very kind lady. I am not a mother, yet, but when I become a mother someday, I will follow these five steps. 

1. Show Love to the Children: Most my mother love their child; however, some young children can not understand mother's love unless their mother actually shows it. My mother showed her love by giving me kiss everyday when I was younger and giving me courage as I grow up.  

2. Help the Children Whenever They Needed: My mother was always there to help me. Every time I had problem with homework or career choice, she took the time to help me even she was busy working or doing her own study. She said "children comes first." My grandmother was still willing to help her children as much as she can even she was old and they were all grown up.  

3. Teach Children the Limit: It is important to love the children, but do not spoil them. Parenting is about giving love AND limit.  My mind of good parents are able to balance both well. My mother is sweet, but she is very strict, too. I know she spoils me sometime; however, I have limits. 

4. Raise Children to be Mentally and Physically Healthy: Children's health is another significant part of parenting, and it is the hardest. Mother raised me to be heathy by making healthy food, taking me to exercise, and teaching me the positive mind. 

5. Set a Good Example for the Children: Sometimes children might not listen to their parents, but they are always watching their parents. Sometime showing them what to do is better telling them what to do. My mother showed her good example by always keeping the room clean, so I never said "mom, I don't want to clean my room."

I will always love you, mom!!

I'd like to close this post with this quote:
"What is being a real woman? It is about being somebody's mother.
When is the for a woman to look most beautiful? It is when she became a mother. 
All women are perfect when they are holding their children in their arms."