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15 Aug 2013
Van's picture

I have sweaty feet so if I have a cut or injury on my feet, it's hard for the band-aid or tapes to stay on. Also -- walking around with band-aids on your feet gets it all shifted and then it no longer sticks. I used to go to the aid stores to get those skin-colored wraps to wrap around the band-aids to keep it in place, but they are so long and by the time I wrapped it around, my feet would be twice the size and would not fit into my shoes! Plus they don't really let my feet breathe. 

So one day I went to the fabric store and saw these stretch lace and thought they would work perfectly. They were stretchy, easy to wash, thin, and can let my feet breathe cuz you know... they're lace! Ridden with holes! AND... they were WAY cuter than the plain old skin colored wrap!

They worked well, but unless you have extra hooks, they fall off. So I got sick and tired of retying/tucking the ends in, and thought I would just cut them up to fit my feet. Sew up the seems and slip them on! They are like socks, but not really. They keep my tape on, protected from friction, and allows airflow! Awesome for summer because who wants to wear socks? 

13 Aug 2013

Color Fun

Van's picture

I was looking through some old pictures on my USB and found these. These pictures were from the first year I was back in the US. I obviously had a lot of fashion influence from Japan -- during the time I was still job searching and didn't have to conform to work uniform (black and white, no short skirts, etc). I also went out a lot and blew quite a bit of money... hehe. I was so bad. I had recently paid off my credit card just prior to returning, and then racked it up again because I wanted to enjoy everything back home. You know, meeting new people, going out, socializing, etc... and all that takes money . So ahem... anyways. Thought it would be nice to kinda look back at me fresh off the plane from Japan. Btw, I am waiting to get a haircut right now and will be having bangs again. My hair's a mess.  These pictures inspire me a lot, I love color and I love adding unusual elements into my clothing style. Now I work at a bank and I have to conform to a bit more professional and color-subdue-y work wear. 

But you know - that only means I have to get off my lazy ass and create something for myself that is going to be work appropriate, but will also be "Vannie's" style. Huzzah. 

15 Mar 2013
Van's picture

I mentioned I have started juicing in my previous posts, right? And always wondered what I should do with the pulp of the veggies and fruits I juiced. One day, while looking at some food blog, I found Paleo Breakfast-2 ingredient pancakes. And thought it was the most awesome food! It looked delicious and it requires super in-expensive ingredients. And when I mean super inexpensive, I mean I drove over to my bro's apartment and stole a super ripe banana they were gonna throw out anyway. Went home, and made it. So easy! We saved it for the next day's breakfast though because eating a banana is good before running (says the b/f). 

So anyway. I decided that if we can make it with bananas, then we can essentially make it with anything! All the other ingredient really needs is the egg. It's kinda like an omelette. But mixed with stuff. 

The next day, I made it with carrot pulp and  chia seeds. It was A LOT fluffier than the banana version, but also much dryer and airy. I think it might either need less pulp or more eggs for the ratio. But it was still good. Not as sweet as banana though. Hmm... I wonder what it would taste like with bananas AND carrot pulp. Experiment, experiments... 

The ingredients:

And then just cook it as you cook regular pancakes. I didn't use any oil, just medium low heat will give it an even browning on both sides. I feel like oil makes the edge crispy... and I don't like it. 


I saved these for the next day, which I toasted to warm it up and then made a peanut butter and apricot preserve panwhich (pancake sandwhich?). I had some gouda cheese with it. I was really tempted to spread it with Nutella... but decided on being healthy. Yay self-control!

Cheers to eating healthy, cheap, and smart! 

Van's picture

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you! Before I do, I must pat myself on the back for being able to survive on my own with limited resources. I don't know how I live in times like these... even when I was in college, I somehow made it through going to college full time, 4 jobs, no family, and living in my own studio on the outskirts of Chicago... Looking at myself from afar, I must commend myself for having this AMAZING ability to adapt and survive in situations like these. When I have money, I spend a lot of money. When I don't, I REALLY don't spend much at all. How the hell...? I guess people do what they gotta do to survive. Anyway, enough talk about my ego. 

One of my best dishes I ever cooked occured during times when I was on a tight budget. And my creativity, I found, is not only limited to sewing, but also goes for food. 

I currently don't really have much food in my fridge right now. But here is the list of ingredients I managed to find rummaging in my cupboard and fridge. 

1. Spaghetti - This bag of spaghetti was attained from my brother's house, while cleaning HIS cupboard I found like 5 bags of spaghetti they collected during the past... I don't know, 3 years? (Some of them went bad... as bad as turning into a colony for INSECTS! EW! Of course I took the bag that was still insect free) :D Gross gross gross. OK, shuddap, I don't believe in throwing away good food unless it's food I don't like and know I won't eat and no one wants it. 

2. Dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced. I bought this in August 2011, after returning to the US, intending to make some Japanese food for my family. Well, I still have it! (it's 2013!!) .... it's dried, so it's still good. Just soaked it in some water and it's ALIVE!!! When you soak these mushrooms, KEEP THE LIQUID. It is a good source of flavor and ... good stuff.

3. Tomatoes. My boyfriend bought 2 tray2 of veggies for one of his classes to share. These are leftovers. He gave me one tray which I already finished and this is the second tray... these are the very last bits of it. 

4. Broccoli. See Tomatoes. 

5. Turkey meat. These are usually frozen when I'm not planning to use them. I bought a bunch from Coscto and froze them. I think I bought it back in September or October 2012. They have been frozen, so they're still good.

6. Gouda Cheese. Bought a long time ago and have been slowly eating it away. I still have a good chunk of it in the fridge. Bought during my cravings for cheese and fruits and wine... 

7. Garlic, a staple in my kitchen. 


1. So first, I just cook the spaghetti as usual, el dente. Set aside. 

2. As the spaghetti is cooking, I chop up all the other stuff: tomatoes, broccoli, turkey meat, cheese (so it melts faster) and garlic. 

3. Put oil in a frying pan, put the garlic in. Before it turns brown, put the chopped turkey lunch meat in and mix it around. Let it sit so it browns, then stir, the let it sit till brown, then stir, etc. Keep doing till it's all golden brown. I add a little cooking wine to give it some juice. 

4. After gold brown and juiced, I dump the sliced gouda cheese, mix. I notice the cheese doesn't exactly "melt" so I add some more cherry cooking wine and cover. OMG... it smelled SO GOOD... the wine and the garlic makes the aroma kick you nicely in the face... but it's a nice kick in the face.

5. Let it cook for a bit, then add the cut tomatoes for some extra juice. After the tomatoes have been cooked for about 3-4 minutes, I put the sliced mushroom, along with the liquid in. Stir it around, then cover. This will fuse together the gouda cheese and the liquid, so you don't see chunks. After it's been nicely fused, I let it cook uncovered to let the sauce thicken or evaporate a little.

6. Now here's my trick concerning the broccoli. I don't like soggy broccoli and I don't like cooking it to the point where all the good stuff disappears. I cook it last. Instead of MIXING it into the sauce to cook, I simply LAY it on top of the whole thing. Then I put a lid on it. So now you have the sauce steaming the broccoli, infusing it with its flavor. And it's not overcooked so you got the good nutrients and vitamins broccoli is known for. I steam the broccoli this way till it's bright green. 

The steamed broccoli:

Put your spaghetti on a plate and top it with the sauce and broccoli and you're done. OMG it is soooooo good. Notice I did NOT add any additional salt, sugar, or anything. It's just as is. The flavor from the cheese and the mushroom was powerful enough be a good pairing with the simple spaghetti. Topped with black pepper and parmesan cheese!


Happy healthy, frugal, eating!! :D

11 Mar 2013
Van's picture

I like coffee and I LOVE tea. I especially interesting flavored coffee and tea. I hate to say this, but I DO love Starbucks. The only bad thing I have to say about their coffee (and I'm not a coffee connoisseur) is that most times it's too sweet for me, even when I ask them to give me half the sugar, etc etc... Anyway. Now that I'm:

1. Living on my own.

2. Paying my own bills.

3. Paying for my dog, after calculations, found out he costs me almost $1000 a year, and that's not including food! :E

4. Gonna have to make extra income ----

Essentially, I'm on a tight budget. So... I'm trying to live a frugal lifestyle. And healthier one! At least... more health conscious. One of the ways I've been changing is drinking. I've been juicing a lot and trying new things like Chia seeds. ..... OKAY THAT IS NOT NEW TO ME... Chia seeds have been a part of Asian diets for centuries long before the English-speaking market "rediscovered" it's health benefits and marketed the hell out of it. Geeze... 8 bucks for a bag of 150g of chia seed, where you can get them for a few bucks in the Asian markets for a MUCH larger bag. My mom drank it all the time and I did too, when I was younger. Then I kinda just forgot about it.  *shakes head* But anyway, that's another time for another post.

Today is about coffee. Every time I go to Starbucks I spend anywhere from 3-5 bucks for a grande. That's a lot of money! I started cutting my Starbucks treat to a limit of  $20 a month. Now, only about once a month ... or even NONE! And because I have been replacing it with juicing, I've actually been having tons more energy since starting. But you know... once in a while it's nice to have a small cup of coffee, right? But RESIST THE STARBUCKS. I just make my own at home now. I kinda have not been drinking milk (dairy) for about two or three months now. I've starting drinking "Flax Milk" which is a milk substitute and does not have dairy in it. Instead, it is made from flax seeds and has tons of Omega3, fibers, and other good stuff.  But anyway, I ran out of that too!! So I have no cream and I have no milk for coffee. And am trying to cut down on white sugar. 

.... Then I remembered a nifty thing that happened to me in a small town in Toyama. I went to this little snack shop near the school I was teaching English at. And after eating, they offered me coffee, I said sure. They gave me black coffee and asked if I wanted cream and sugar. I said yes.

Then they proceed to drop a spoonfull of Vanilla ICECREAM into my coffee. 

And I spazzed. Well, at first, I was just like, "WTF are you doing with my coffee?!?!" And after TASTING it... THEN I spazzed. It was actually tasty! Well, there's your cream and your sugar in that icecream! Hehe. 

So, while broke and thirsty for some coffee, I went to check my freezer and lo and behold I have natural vanilla bean icecream!! ^____^

Now I like to drink a small cup of coffee every now and then with a tea-spoonful of vanilla bean icecream and sometimes, just a tiny squeeze of caramel sauce for a kick. It's kinda "gourmet-ish"... cuz you can see the little beans floating around. Try it! And let me know what you think! 


So yes yes... the caramel sauce is pretty bad for you, but it's JUST a tiny squeeze... and it's what I have in the cupboard, so I'm not spending extra money! .... I could always just use brown sugar. :P And of course, every time I drink my ice-creamed-coffee, I give a tiny spoonful to my dog, Chance. He loves it.