Friday, September 29, 2006

Bio Fall Picnic

The Bio and Marine Bio Dept at UNCW hosted a Fall Picnic today at Hugh McRae Park. Free-flow of burgers, hotdogs, desserts and side dishes... What's not to like?

Dr Scharf, Bill and Ann, and chef du jour Dr Lankford

Queuing up to get the delicious burgers!
The lady on the left is Tracie Chadwick, the department's graduate secretary,
and a great help to all of us!

CMS folks (from right): Steve, my labmate, Mike, Joanna and Adrienne.
Cassie's at the back! She's in my pop ecology class.

When I was considering coming home, realised that it probably wasn't such a good idea to park so far from the main road! Now I had to navigate through pine trees and cars in the darkness. Thankfully (phew!), Susanna offered to drive my car out to the main road, haha! And I made it home in one piece (plus managed to tarpau one bottle of Sam Adams!)

Omelette with tater tots

After msn-ing Zee one day, I rediscovered the joy of frozen foods, such as tater tots! They're like hashbrowns, except with greater crispy surface area to volume ratio, haha! This is a simple omelette with tomatoes, frozen mixed veggies, and cheese.

These days, I'm cooking larger quantities of food and freezing them in single portions, rather than cooking a fresh meal each time, which can be a tiring chore after a day at school or work.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My apartment

Many people have commented on my kitchen already, so here's the rest of my apartment. :)

I live in a small studio apartment near campus, so small that when you open the door, basically you see all the way to the end, where the bed is. But one advantage of that is that it's easy to vacuum!

My street

That's my block! My apartment faces the main road.
Yeah, it's very noisy with the traffic, especially when the emergency vehicles screech by.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a corner unit, so I only have a small window strip, and the room is always dark. I guess one drawback of a studio is that the fridge is waaay too accessible!



At least I have a rather nice view. The window faces a stand of pine trees. No birdy-like organisms flitting about yet!

I'm growing chili on my windowsill!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Campus tour part I

I realised that I've not posted anything about my campus yet! Went out taking pictures on Sunday, as it was such a nice sunny day. No squirrels out and about though.

This is the path I take to the library. There are lots of pine trees on campus, so it has quite a woodsy feel about it.

There's only one library on campus, but it has a good collection (plus a graduate student computer lab, so don't have to wrangle terminals from the undergrads!), and anything we can't find in the library itself, the librarians will get for us! It has a pretty good DVD collection too (haha, free entertainment), including anime series. Unfortunately, I'm not too keen on Evangelion.

Randall Library

The buildings here have to follow the traditional Georgian style architecture, so they're mostly red brick with white trimming and arches. Looks rather stately and aesthetically pleasing...but it makes it difficult to figure out which building is which!!

Pretty flowers outside the library. Another thing I like about campus is that there're many flowers growing everywhere! It's so pretty, and the rose bushes outside the Bio Dept (Dobo Hall) are blooming too. Can't wait to see what spring is like.

The clock tower outside the library

The new Fisher Student Center, which has a cinema, pool hall, table tennis tables and the uni bookstore.

The UNCW water tower is like a major landmark around here. When I first arrived, I used it to orientate myself whenever I'm on campus! Now, I use it to note where the general direction of campus is when I'm out driving. Yup, Wilmington is that flat...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wild Wilmington

Was driving home from the Center for Marine Science and saw 3 deers (a small family?) crossing the road! Wow! Wild animals, haha, suaku me. In the first week of walking to campus also spotted a small mammal (a raccoon?) darting across my path and into the woody area.

Okay, so it's nothing like seeing zebras and giraffes graze by the roadside in East Africa, but it's still pretty exciting to me!

Friday, September 22, 2006

I love my

Just came back from the 7pm screening of Pirates of Caribbean 2 at the campus cinema. Yup, it's a proper cinema, and tickets are only US$2 per student, and today, we even had free food and lemonade, every grad student's ideal situation! Yeah! So I settled my dinner and watched a movie at the same time! Next week they'll be screening The Devil Wears Prada, guess I'll be there!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Poo-ey, am I out of shape or what?

Did my dive checkout today at the UNCW swimming pool, so that I can be a certified scientific research diver. After my written test (which I passed, phew), had to:

1. Swim 400 yards
2. Swim ~10m on a single breath
3. Tread water for 2min with hands out of water, or 10min using hands
4. Complete a diving checkout, including mask clearance, regulator and BCD removal and replacement, buddy breathing, and rescue an unconscious diver, plus emergency breathing on surface while towing.

Arghhh...I can't tread water for nuts!!! Was going to try the 2min one but had to give up after 1min 30s, boohoo.... so close....but was gonna go under if I didn't use my hands already. Man...those were 10 looooong minutes! And I was so tired after the treading that I couldn't push myself onto the pool deck and had to use the stairs. Aiyoh, so jialak....

The gear was pretty cool! Instead of a Scubapro AirII system, the inflator hose had the usual connection with the BC, with the octopus attached to it! So minus one hose, and compatible with most of the BCDs on the market. Cool eh? I want one like that too!!

Surprisingly, I used a XS BCD today and it fit just nicely...Geezz...I wonder what Dionne, Abby, Athena would use down here...

Was pretty flat by the time the session ended (and it only lasted one hour...), so no more swimming for me! Went home and took a nice long hot shower...

Friday, September 15, 2006


Even though Eric was here for more a month, we only had the chance to jalan-jalan in the last one week of his visit! Probably because we spent so much time and effort in looking for a car, and then practising how to drive. After I got my licence, that was the time we actually went exploring around Wilmington!

It's quite pretty around here, especially with bright green pines juxtaposed against blue blue cloudless sky. Especially after the wet and sodden episode with Ernesto, was glad for some sun!

First, a visit to the NC Fort Fisher Aquarium!

Packed a picnic box to bring to Carolina Beach State Park, which encloses a pretty forest with trails and campgrounds. And there are native carnivorous plants here such as the Venus fly-trap!!! Pitcher plants!!! Sundews!!!! Wah...and according to the signboard, in spring it is abundant with wildflowers (:P~~~). Unfortunately, together with all those exciting stuff, the forest also has TICKS...and I was dressed in shorts in slippers.....


Eric feeling the strain from driving too much...

They use jala's here too!

A brilliant day after the storm (Ernesto)

The weather was still great the next day, so we decided to check out Orton Plantation, since I'm such a garden freak :).

Eric is such a good photographer...Check out his shot!! Look at mine below for the stark difference, sigh...

As you can tell, we had some fun in the sun garden

And more arty shots here:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Does this mean something?

Something struck me while I was preparing tomorrow's lesson plans for Genetics lab and thinking up wicked questions for next week's quiz for my students.. (well, not really, I'm actually a softie at heart who wants her students to do well, hahaha...). For someone who always professed to having a mild phobia to teaching, I've been doing a lot of teaching in the last 6-7 years or so!

It started with being a nature guide talking to all those strangers about wildlife and conservation, to conducting sessions on how to be a nature guide, and all those courses on Reef Check and whatnot, plus instructing for educational companies like Creative Kids, where I had to teach primary and secondary students, all the way to trainee teachers and full-time teachers! Recently have also been teaching at NUS and here in Wilmington!

I had a 'what are you planning to do with your life after you graduate' talk with my current supervisor recently, and mentioned that I don't really see myself teaching. The strange thing was, as soon as the statement popped out of my mouth, I immediately thought that that wasn't very true.... I wonder...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

1st exam down!

Just finished my first exam yesterday....It's been yonks since I've had a exam, not counting all the driving theory tests, haven't had that hand cramp from furiously scribbling for some time :). One thing I like about studying Biology is that since I enjoy my courses, exams are generally not that bad, 'cos I already have an interest in the content. Well, I haven't got my grades back yet, hyak hyak, so might be singing a different tune in a week's time...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dinner with Marianne and Gray

Had dinner at Marianne and Gray's place today. They are the host family of Chen Wei and Lifang, and wanted to meet up with Eric and me, and they even sent us to the airport last Monday when Eric had to return to Singapore.

Today's dinner was a surprise as Marianne cooked Chinese! She had prepared kungpao chicken and rice, and had a another surprise for us- we were supposed to cook the vegetables! Lifang stir-fried the mushrooms with assorted veggies, and since I had a load of cabbage on my hands, decided to do a simple stir-fry with garlic, Kikkoman and Thai fish sauce (yup, didn't expect to see that in Marianne's fridge!). Thankfully, they seem to like the last minute cabbage, and most of it was eaten :).

From left: Lifang, Chen Wei, Marianne, Joanne (their daughter), and Gray

Marianne thought the moon was really beautiful tonight and suggested that we traipse down to the beach and enjoy the view! So we did!

Well, too bad I didn't have a tripod, but it was a lovely and breezy night.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I met a cute guy at the beach the other day....

The food series...

I'm entering into a food photography phase, so you'll just have to bear with me through this. :) I figure this is one way to motivate myself to cook healthy, tasty and nutritious meals while living alone, instead of instant foods and scooping stuff outta cans.

Had a craving for soft fried onions today, so made stir-fried meatballs with onions, one of my fave comfort foods. So simple, and pretty satisfying. Added a dash of chili pepper into the meat mixture for some extra spice.

The green stuff you see at the side is kale. What is kale? you may ask. Something like kailan? Well it does taste similar to kailan, only much tougher, as I found out when I first attempted to cook it. This time round, I peeled the stems, chopped the kale into smaller pieces, and steamed it in its juices for a longer time. Not too bad, especially when cooked with fresh chili slices, which I got from my chili plant! I decided that buying 6 chilis at US$3.99 a pop was just too much, and got myself a plant instead....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Today's menu... baked salmon with cheese, served on a bed of iceberg lettuce and a side of roasted red potatoes seasoned with fresh rosemary!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New York...New York...

Sorry about the long wait folks...I'm finally blogging about my arrival in the States.

July 31, 6am:
Stumbled out of the Thai Airways plane into JFK Airport. After 20+ hours in cramped and dark conditions, I'm finally in the US!!

Decided to stopover in New York as I've never been here before and wanted to see all the famous sights. So here they are-


Took a shuttle from the airport down to Manhattan. At first we thought it would be the quickest way, but we went all over Manhattan dropping people off at various hotels and hostels, so it was almost 10am by the time we checked in at Harlem YMCA. Not too bad, except that there was no a/c and NY was experiencing a heatwave!! It was sweltering in the small room. Washed up a little and proceeded to our first destination...

The Empire State Building!

Well, that's the view from the top. For some reason I don't seem to have a photo of the building itself. Think I was jetlagged and starting to get mild heatstroke....You have to pay a lot of money to get to the lookout point! Plus queue and queue and queue. Phew.

Eric bought himself an authentic NYC hotdog!

We than went on to take the free (which is pretty rare here!) ferry ride to Staten Island, which will bring us past the Statue of Liberty.

You get a nice view from the ferry

And that's as close as you get if you're too kiamsiap like me to pay for the tourist ferry which lands on the island itself

Got a bit hungry after that, so now it's time to check out Times Square!

This is of the best ice cream places I've been to! Choose your ice-cream flavour, and then choose a variety of stuff to mix in! We got strawberry cheesecake ice-cream mixed with graham cracker crumbs and other delicious things.

Then finally went for some 'propah' food- an American BBQ restaurant!

Open face burger with baked potato and fried onions

A mountain of fried onions! and crabcakes (a little salty though)

Staggered back to the subway and to the hostel. As we checked in with security, he mentioned that we couldn't stay in our present room! Turned out that we were given a room on the guys' floor. No wonder there was only one female shower on the entire floor. After some to-ing and fro-ing, he got us to move to a double room. Despite the trouble, that was pretty good! The room came with an attached bathroom and quite wonderfully, had a/c! We could sleep well tonight... Got a plane to catch early tomorrow!

p/s: unfortunately, Eric unplugged the fridge to charge his HP (i think). The freezer promptly defrosted and the ensuing puddle soaked my backpack...which had my laptop in it. I thought it was a goner...was contemplating insurance claims and all...but apparently Apple makes 'em tough back in those days...'cos I'm still typing on it!!!

My new (old) car!!!

Us and the car
Originally uploaded by diploastrea.
Heh, I don't know what got into me, but I went and bought a BRIGHT RED CAR!!! Don't you think it's really cute though?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Babe went home today...

Eric left for New York-Bangkok-Singapore at 6.30am this morning. It's 7.19am, and already the apartment feels different without him around... Sigh... It'll be a long 3 months. Going to sleep, only slept 2 hours before waking at 4am to go to the airport.