Posts tagged Daily Origami
17 Questions With The Origami Life Couple: About Us and Our Future Plans

General Questions

About The Origami Couple and Blog


1. Who are we?

Us - drinking G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market.

We’re Jennie and Ivan, a 29 year old married couple who met in Kyoto, Japan nine years ago, did six years of long distance, then decided to sell our worldly possessions by September 2018 to travel the world. We’re both Type A personalities, which means we’re goal-oriented and try to make conscious decisions in all areas of our life including our relationship, travel and money.

Here are our Myers-Briggs personality results, which you can take here:

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Ivan: I’m very lopsided (INTJ-A).

Jennie: I’m a “Debater” personality (ENTP-A). 
 

2. What are Our strengths and weaknesses?

Jennie:

  • Ivan’s strengths: Ivan is probably one of the most intelligent individuals that I’ve met in my life (if he can let go his ego). His writing, published and unpublished, is actually really good. He has the ability to think both creatively and analytically, especially when he stays the course and doesn’t let small things distract him from his end goal.

  • Ivan’s flaws: Ivan is occasionally arrogant, uptight, and sometimes - his expectations aren’t rooted in reality. Whenever he is “right” about one or two things, he starts to get delusional. That’s why I try not to overreact when he does something really well. I already know I’m going to regret saying such nice things (Ivan: Wait, she thinks I'm a genius, right? Cause that's what I heard). I gotta keep his ego in check for the sake of our financial interests. And when I say he’s uptight, I mean he could stand to loosen up - like, a lot. Sometimes, he gets so wound up in what he’s doing or “the next thing” that he misses moments that could’ve been really meaningful.

Ivan:

  • Jennie’s strengths: Jennie has a way with people and can out-hustle anyone. Not only can she understand and empathize with people, she can tailor her message to get them to do what she wants. Despite this, people like and trust her almost instantly. When we first started dating, I thought this was a fluke. I know better now. Honestly, the ability to “get your hands dirty” and knowing what makes people tick is probably the most valuable skill-set you can have - and it’s chronically underrated by specialist-types who don’t know any better (i.e. people like me).

  • Jennie’s flaws: Jennie’s waaay too process driven for things that don’t need to be mapped out by the second. Sometimes, the answer isn't to create a spreadsheet or a decision tree. Some ideas need time to marinate in your head. She also enjoys barking orders and bossing people (i.e. me) around. So even when we have the same goals, we fight over “the best way” to get there.
     

3. What’s this blog about?

Jennie: I see this blog as a way to both keep ourselves accountable and share some reflections on life, marriage and our journey with anyone who can relate.

Ivan: The Origami Life is a minimalist travel blog with some personal finance and relationship posts thrown in. It’s also a place where we experiment with different ideas. Sometimes, we write posts just to see if we actually believe in it.
 

4. Where are we headed?

Jennie & Ivan: Anywhere in the world where we see opportunities for growth - whether that’s creative, financial, or personal. Over the next 3-5 years, we’re moving away from comfort and stability and towards challenge and risk (while doing it responsibly).  
 


II. Travel Questions for The Origami Life Couple and Blog


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5. What’s our travel style?

Jennie: I’m a type A planner who just so happens to enjoy travel. I love the idea of nailing down logistics, formalizing schedules, and putting together spreadsheets. I know that some of our readers can relate because several of you have shared some amazingly detailed and useful itineraries with us over the last year (🙌 thank you!). It brings me joy to have complete control over knowing when and where I’m going. This means that I’ve researched everything thoroughly and get to do everything I want - so I won’t leave with any regrets.

Ivan: Compared to Jennie, I’m less of a hard-core planner when it comes to travel. I like ironing out the big ticket items like accommodations and airfare, so I can be more carefree with my day-to-day decisions. When I’m traveling, I like to have one goal per day. If I achieve that goal, I’m happy. You could say I’m the more “laid-back” of the two, but unfortunately, this only applies to travel. I can be a pain in the ass in other areas.  
 

6. What do we hope to get out of our RTW trip experience?

Jennie: Although I’m treating my RTW trip as a building block for the next 3-5 years of my life, I just want to enjoy myself and experience things intensely. I’ve spent the bulk of my life focusing on “the next thing” or doing things for the sake of my family. It sounds funny but I’ve been caught up and stressed with work, family, and money for the last decade and I’ve forgotten to just be myself. For my RTW trip, I want to just enjoy whatever happens and comes my way. I want to meet people and forge genuine connections.

Ivan: In my twenties, I think I’ve undervalued personal relationships and social interactions. That’s because as an introvert, I don’t need much company outside of Jennie. Even when I do put myself out there and make connections, I can be pretty lazy in the maintenance department. People often don’t know where they stand with me. This is something I’d like to get better at: maximize the number of genuine connections I have on the RTW trip and the number of “uncomfortable” social situations I put myself in. Then I’ll pick a small handful of those people and try to be more forthcoming with what I think/feel to build more meaningful relationships. (Geez, I sound like a robot trying to be human).
 

7. What countries are We most looking forward to visiting and why?

Jennie: I haven’t put much thought into it because I still can’t believe our trip is finally going to happen. Top of mind: riding the Trans-Siberian Railway partway through China, Russia, and Mongolia. I really like train travel and loved our Amtrak trip across the U.S. we did last November.

Ivan: Rural India because of the history and because I think it’ll be an interesting challenge. I’m also attracted to sleepy backwater countries like Sri Lanka and Laos.
 

8. Are We nervous about leaving our family and our home?

Jennie: Absolutely. I’m worried about all the worst-case scenarios that could happen with my family while I’m away. And that will always be the case because I’m just that type of person. But the thing is, if I was truly scared about leaving, I would’ve never left New Mexico in the first place.

Ivan: This one’s easy. I’ve never viewed North America as home. I have no family here outside of Jennie. Most of my upbringing was in Taipei and I was educated in two languages (my parents are teachers). When I’m here, I think in English. When I’m home, I think in Chinese. Not having any roots is liberating because it often gives me a different perspective on things.


III. Money Questions for The Origami Life Couple and Blog


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9. How can we afford to travel long term?

Jennie: Outside of an aggressive savings plan, Ivan keeps an iron fist on our spending / expenses each month. Every month for the last two or three years we’ve saved more than 50% of our monthly income/salary and accumulated a RTW travel fund of $40,000, a reserve of airline points - while taking care of retirement and other future obligations.

Ivan: Like I said earlier, I can be a pain in the ass in other areas.
 

10. How do we feel about reaching our $40k travel goal?

Jennie: (Deep sigh) I won’t lie, when we hit that $40,000 marker in May...I felt underwhelmed. I literally thought, “wow, so that’s it, huh?” And I think that’s because of the timing. When we hit our financial goal, we were still MONTHS away from leaving for our trip. It felt unreal and almost anticlimactic. Because the savings was always automated and I never look at our bank statements and accounts. It was never a significant part of my daily life. I was doing what I needed to do which was focusing on crushing it at work and building our business.

Ivan: This might sound like a privileged thing to say, but the money is not nearly as important as the habits you build along the way. And the realization that whatever your circumstances, there are usually ways to take back control of your life.
 

11. How has our attitude / relationship with money changed?

Jennie: I’m a lot more conscious about how I spend money now. I’m more aware that if I spend x amount on something for this month, it means that I miss out on other things that I really want to experience, have or enjoy later. But it also means that I buy or spend on things that I really want or that I love now. Having a more conscious understanding of how I spend my money has actually made me much more “fiscally literate” and it’s been a positive effect on my life. I feel like the lessons I’ve learned about money - how and when to use it and how to plan long-term actually makes me a more strategic thinker.

Ivan: I’ve always viewed money as a major inconvenience. It’s a concession I’ve had to make to society in order to keep me and the people I care about alive. The only reason I’m a “minimalist” is because I don’t like conceding much of anything. Money is only as useful as the independence it buys - to ensure that no one can ever influence how I run my life. 
 

12. What are We planning to do to make money?

Jennie: Ivan and I actually started a business earlier this year. We essentially create marketing content for cyber security startups. Due to my experience in the industry and network, we’ve got a roster of clients and plan to continue working with a multitude of security tech / SaaS startups.

Ivan: I passed all three levels of the CFA exam and am a self-taught investor. I work with clients in the VC/private equity space to do financial modeling, projections and writing investment pitches. I’m also using this RTW trip as an opportunity to interview entrepreneurs on the ground in emerging economies.
 

13. What are our next financial goals?

Jennie: I’ve been hustling for the last six years and I feel like I haven’t put much thought into my next financial goals. There’s been one thing that I’ve had on my mind - increasing our net worth / saving for long-term retirement. We’re not one of those “FIRE” (Financial Independence, Retire Early) people though. Although it’s a nice concept, I can’t imagine retiring early and if the last couple of weeks without a job is any indication of what it would be like - I’d be bored as fuck if I retired early. However, Ivan and I have a very specific number in mind for us to live comfortably and completely on our own terms; my next big financial goals is to get us there early while building up my career and potentially having a  family.

Ivan: Over the long term, the risks you take equals your reward (financial or otherwise) - provided you take calculated risks that allow you to survive the short and medium term. So, our next financial goal is to take more calculated risks and being humble in the face of uncertainty.


IV. Love / Relationship Questions for The Origami Life Couple and Blog


Us at a wedding a few years back.

Us at a wedding a few years back.

14. Describe our marriage.

Jennie: We’re still the same couple that started nearly a decade ago. If you knew us from our early days, you’d see that not much has changed in terms of heated discussions and arguments - because it’s fun for us. The only thing that’s really changes is that we’ve become much better partners, communicate better, and know each other better than anyone else in this world.

Ivan: What she said. I do think as we grow into our new roles as business partners that we should draw a clear line between business and personal. This means carving out time that’s just for the two of us.
 

15. What’s changed about our marriage over the past Few years?

Jennie: At the beginning of our time in Los Angeles, it was a pretty tense time for us due to a big move and stressful immigration processes. But once we decided to be more intentional and conscious with our time - we started planning and spending more time together at our favorite donut / coffee shop. Ivan and still very much love each other, but I’d say that in the midst of the hustle and constant goal-setting (and goal-crushing), it’s one of our more neglected aspects of our lives. We’ve spent a lot of time at coffee shops chatting about big goals, funny stories, and strategizing on work, but we haven’t spent as much time just...being together. My hope is that this RTW trip will help us slow down a bit and continue to grow our relationship.

Ivan: I agree.
 

16. What do we argue/fight the most often about?

Jennie: Most of the time, we argue about really menial things - it’s never about the big picture. It always seems to be arguments related to our behavioral / personality preferences. For example, if I ask Ivan to do something (e.g. take out the trash, do the dishes, or put the laundry in the dryer), I mean I’d like him to do it that moment because I’m compulsive about that kind of thing.

Ivan: I don’t like being interrupted when I’m working or reading, so that’s where most of our arguments stem from. To be clear, I don’t mind noise - so long as that noise doesn’t require a response from me. I’ve gotten better over the years of not lashing out, but some snark is always going to be there.


V. Plans for the Future for The Origami Life Couple and Blog


17. What’s next for Us individually and for this blog?

Jennie: We started this blog as a means for us to communicate our lives and be accountable to our life goals. However, based on emails and we’ve received from our kind readers - it feels like it actually helps add value in some small way. That meaningful / value-add contribution has been one of the more fulfilling things that I’ve experienced over the past two years. My big goal for this blog is to continue creating content that is useful for any reader that comes across this blog. 

Ivan: I’d like to experiment with travel videos. I think understanding how to combine image and sound over time can make me a better storyteller and writer. I’ve watched a lot of “travel vlogs” on Youtube and have been pretty dissatisfied with the results. I’d like to do something different. The best way I can describe it is I’d like to have the “feeling” of the Before Sunrise trilogy in online video form. The exotic destinations should be secondary to the relationship and the conversation in the frame. Hopefully, we can make this happen over the coming months.
 



California Weekend Trips: Nature, Interrupted

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Travel Planning, sort of

LOS ANGELES > SAN FRANCISCO > YOSEMITE

Last weekend, Ivan and I headed up to Yosemite with two of our oldest and closest friends. We thought it might be meaningful to share moments with you that were important to us this week. Traveling isn’t about the end destination, but about the journey and moments you experience along the way.

This will be a five part series to share moments from our weekend trip to
Yosemite from Los Angeles. Check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 here. 


Jennie here. 

We spent a lot of time in crowds or traffic at Yosemite. It took us close to one hour to go less than 1 mile to entrance of the park, and that was considered “light traffic” by the forest rangers during this summer/fall season. In fact, half of our time in Yosemite was spent driving around in our car to get to different points / hikes.

There were only three real takeaways that I had from the entire Yosemite trip:


1. Yosemite National Park has a Grocery Store


When we finally got into the park and paid our $30 (per car) entrance fee, we trekked over to Yosemite Valley, parked our car, and walked into a grocery store. Look, I’ll admit, I don’t know much about Yosemite National Park but, what the fuck? How could there be a huge grocery store with prepared hot foods, fresh produce, and brand name snacks? What happened to being one with nature?

 
 

When everything is so carefully labeled and curated, is it worth it anymore? How is it any different from a metropolitan city?
 


2. Crowds at Yosemite National Park...kind of ruined the experience.



I felt a little suffocated by the whole experience. I wasn’t sure if it was the smoky air from the nearby wildfires or the sheer amount of people at the park.

Source: eBaum's World. The crowded felt a lot like this...

Source: eBaum's World.
The crowded felt a lot like this...

I suppose it should have been a red flag for me. There were so many people around. I had hoped that with the wildfires happening intensely all around Yosemite National Park, that it would have deterred many people from coming out to the area. Although it’s great that huge portions of the park are accessible, I think it’s also a downside of tourism. Traveling is great and it can help broaden your horizons but when too many people come together in one area, it just spoils the experience - especially when one wants to “commune” with nature.


3. I’m out of shape and the waterfalls weren’t gushing.


OUR EXPECTATIONS

THE REALITY

Our reality versus expectations. 

We had time for one hiking trail so we did a portion of the Upper Yosemite Fall. It was a strenuous hike upwards, with a steep elevation gain of 3,323 feet. It was painful. And when we got to the base of the waterfall...it was underwhelming. Was it worth it? No, because in the end, I descended so quickly that I got sick and ended up throwing up that evening.

On the way to be one of the falls, you get a fantastic view of the famous Yosemite Half Dome. 

Note: A little smokey from the recent wildfires.

Note: A little smokey from the recent wildfires.

In the end, my favorite moment at Yosemite was when we went stargazing at night - it was quiet and no one was around when we went to a viewpoint 45 minutes from our campsite. 

*

In the end, I felt conflicted because I didn’t think I gave Yosemite a fair shake. However, this time around, I wished we had actually stayed at Bass Lake, because at least it felt personal and private. It may have been less "popular", but at least there were no interruptions there. 

Anyway, so that was Yosemite. A bit of an anti-climax. Kind of like this ending. 



California Weekend Trips: Yosemite With Friends

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Travel Planning, sort of

LOS ANGELES > SAN FRANCISCO > YOSEMITE

Last weekend, Ivan and I headed up to Yosemite with two of our oldest and closest friends. We thought it might be meaningful to share moments with you that were important to us this week. Traveling isn’t about the end destination, but about the journey and moments you experience along the way.

This will be a five part series to share moments from our weekend trip to
Yosemite from Los Angeles. Check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 here. 


Jennie here. 

My favorite part of our weekend gateway to Yosemite was the time we spent hanging out with our two oldest and closest friends. They know us better than most people and actually end up tolerating (or complementing) our imperfections (e.g. Ivan is usually useless when it comes to campfire cooking).

Here were my favorite moments with them:

 

1. Driving through traffic together.

 
 

We made the mistake of leaving from San Francisco around 3pm...on Friday. So, instead of a typical three hour trip to our first campsite...it took five hours to get there. But the fantastic thing is that we got to catch up and chat. We hardly see our friends and it made me feel better that we were suffering (through traffic) together.
 

2. Shopping for groceries together. 

 
 

So, shopping for groceries with friends is actually one of the most intimate things you can do. Think about it, when you shop - you show all of your character flaws / how picky you are. When we were trying to pick up bread to make some easy sandwiches, our friend Alec basically vetoed it and was like, “I hate sandwiches” Everyone eats sandwiches, am I right? Turns out, our friend was uber picky with foods - more so than I last recall. And what did I learn about myself? That I am an idiot sometimes and love creepy costume wear.
 

3. Cooking meals together.

 
 

Okay, I don’t care about what anyone says. The best moments are when we’re cooking together. In particular, bacon. Bacon is possibly the best thing to cook over an open campfire (or in our case a make-shift bunsen burner). And okay, the other best part is that...Ivan and I are pretty useless when it comes to camping cooking. We sort of just let our friends take the reins on cooking and harassed them with our camera and questions around “when is breakfast going to be ready?”

Over the course of each activity together, we kind of just relax and shoot the shit. We had a chance to reminisce about the past and even joke about the future (e.g. our friend wants five kids - crazy).

There’s less pressure to perform or act a certain way when you’re with close friends.



California Weekend Trips: Waking Up At Bass Lake, California

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Travel Planning, sort of

Los Angeles > San Francisco > Yosemite

Last weekend, Ivan and I headed up to Yosemite with two of our oldest and closest friends. We thought it might be meaningful to share moments with you that were important to us this week. Traveling isn’t about the end destination, but about the journey and moments you experience along the way.

This will be a five part series to share moments from our weekend trip to
Yosemite from Los Angeles. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here. 


Jennie here.

After a late drive into our campgrounds at Wishon Point Campground, we all passed out immediately in our cozy sleeping bags. It was the perfect temperature, the area was quiet and dark; the only thing I could hear were the sounds of crickets chirping nearby.

 
 

On Saturday morning, I abruptly woke up at around 6:00 am because I had been dreaming about bears. Half-conscious, I knew I had woken up in the middle of nowhere. We had talked at length about bears and bear mace so I guess there was some anxiety there.

Anyway, when I woke up, I stepped out of the large tent so I wouldn’t wake the rest of the group. I grabbed the keys to the car and took out my jacket and camera. And I just started walking towards the nearby lake. The fresh summer air lingered into September and I felt myself feeling at ease for the first time in the last couple of months.

When I arrived at the lake, there was no other presence there except for myself. I had forgotten how quiet the world was when you stepped out of a city; it felt great to be almost alone, almost liberating. I stood for awhile, watching the ripples of the lake come towards the short against the rocks. I could hear myself breathe and think.

 
 

Note: Wishon Point Campground costs $22 per evening if you're camping outdoors.

When I looked up the sun was rising and I realized that there was another woman at the lake in a distance. She was watching the mountains, the lake, and the sun rising; she did so with such intensity that I ended up watching her for a few minutes. Yeah, I creeped, but her concentration (or meditation) never ceased for a moment. She stood there, motionless, for a very long time.

Watching this woman raised some questions for me:

  • Did I ever have that level of intensity and concentration on any single thing?

  • Why don’t I feel this liberated when I’m in a city with all the hustle and bustle (which I love)?

  • Is there comfort in waking up alone and being alone in nature?



California Weekend Trips: The Anticipation Of Travel

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Los Angeles > San Francisco > Yosemite

Last weekend, Ivan and I headed up to Yosemite with two of our oldest and closest friends. We thought it might be meaningful to share moments with you that were important to us this week. Traveling isn’t about the end destination, but about the journey and moments you experience along the way.

This will be a five part series to share moments from our weekend trip to Yosemite from Los Angeles. Check out Part 1 here.


Jennie here.

Here’s the thing about travel for us…

It’s not the idea of travel that gets us excited. Rather, it’s the idea of leading different lives. We don’t really care where we’re going so long as we enjoy the process along the way.


Wednesday & Thursday:
Traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco via Megabus


We hadn’t travelled in awhile so I was really excited Wednesday evening when we showed up at Union Station, waiting for our bus. We arrived early and sat in our favorite part of Union Station and watched people passing by - either heading home or back from a Dodgers game that evening. It really built up the anticipation that we were going on a long weekend getaway.

Note: Total cost (for two) for Megabus tickets from Los Angeles to San Francisco - $25.00

 
 

We took an overnight Megabus from Los Angeles and arrived in San Francisco the next morning at 6:30am. During the day, I got to hang out around the Embarcadero, eat good food, and watch the waves crash against the pier.


Friday:
A Quick Run To Twin Peaks & Traveling to Yosemite


The morning we left for Yosemite, Ivan and I woke up early and decided to go for a “quick” 5 mile run to Twin Peaks. Again, I let Ivan plan this entire route.

What he didn’t account for:

  • San Francisco has HUGE hills.

  • A fully charged cellphone. He didn’t charge his cellphone...so we didn’t have any means of communication to our friends in an unfamiliar city.

  • The cruelty of his actions.

Clearly, we didn’t have photos for this because we had no phone or camera. Although we got lost and mustered the strength to go up all the SF hills - when we made it to Twin Peaks, we were the only ones there. And it was perfect. We couldn’t see any part the city from the top because the fog was too thick but it was an amazing view regardless. It felt like we had been transported to a completely different place.

Jennie's Note: Too bad we can’t share our photos with anyone.

Ivan's Note: If a couple travels someplace and there were no smartphones around to take selfies, did the couple ever exist?

 
 

We managed to find some online to share with you though. Ignore the trippy soundtrack and mirrored landscape. This place is still breathtaking. I can't believe we had it to ourselves.

 
 

When we got back 2 ½ hours later to our friend’s place, we showered, worked for a few hours, and then grabbed some Mediterranean wraps.

It was the perfect day in San Francisco.

By 3 PM, we left and headed into the traffic towards Yosemite National Park.



California Weekend Trips: An Unplanned Trip To Yosemite

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Travel Planning, sort of

Los Angeles > San Francisco > Yosemite

Last weekend, Ivan and I headed up to Yosemite with two of our oldest and closest friends. We thought it might be meaningful to share moments with you that were important to us this week. Traveling isn’t about the end destination, but about the journey and moments you experience along the way.

This will be a five part series to share moments from our weekend trip to Yosemite from Los Angeles.


Jennie here.

Let me begin this by saying that Ivan (haphazardly) planned the entire Yosemite trip from Los Angeles. And (unfortunately) we have two very different travel philosophies, so much so that it can be enraging at times.


Our different travel philosophies:


  • Ivan enjoys slow, random, oftentimes unplanned travel.
    Translation: He plans everything last minute and only thinks/plans two to three days in advance. A painful way to travel when you’re going to an uber popular destination.
  • Jennie enjoys slow, thoughtfully planned travel; often plans deviations in a plan but always prepares for the worst case scenario.
    Translation: Type A personality that needs to have shit planned out weeks, if not months in advance. IMHO - the best way to travel.


So what happened last weekend en route to Yosemite National Park?


I let Ivan plan our entire Yosemite trip because I had been so busy with work. Both of us figured that the weekend after Labor Day weekend wouldn’t be so crowded. So we booked a bus ticket up to San Francisco, met with our friends, and drove off to Yosemite National Park.


What was the end result?


Disaster is the word that comes to mind. It turns out that Northern California was having an unseasonably warm late summer so people were still camping up a storm in the area. All of the nearby Yosemite campsites had been reserved. We were desperate for a campsite and on the day of - Ivan finally booked a campsite two hours away from Yosemite Valley.

This week, we’re going to share moments/confessions/disasters that happened along the way in our very short trip (perhaps, too short) to Yosemite.

Check in tomorrow for our next Daily Origami.



Meeting Strangers: A Stranger On Life & Death

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


flowers-marguerites-destroyed-dead-2-2.jpg

Ivan here. 

Back in my consulting days, I remember sitting in a rental car next to Betsy (my project manager), as we drove two hours from Toronto to London (Ontario) en-route to a client site. The weather outside was overcast, and the world seemed grey and hopeless.

It was just the two of us in the car, which made small talk unavoidable. But honestly, I wasn’t very excited about “getting to know” Betsy. It was nothing personal. It was just that Betsy had been working for the company for the past two decades, the same company that was making me miserable . In my mind, two decades was simply too great a divide for us to have anything in common. 

But talk we did. The conversation meandered at first, as is often the case when both sides are grasping at straws, searching for something to say.  In the end, I learned three important things from Betsy, things I still remember to this day.


3 Things Betsy Taught Me


  1. Vernors is the best tasting ginger ale in the world. Way better than Schweppes or Canada Dry.
  2. The 2013 Toronto revival of Les Miserables is the best production of the musical since the 1986 West End London production. Betsy has seen every show since 1980, and attended both the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts. She goes as far as to book her vacations based on the musical’s touring schedule. 
  3. She’s already paid for her own death and funeral. 
“Hold on,” I said when she broke this news. “You can do that?” 
“Uh huh,” she said. “There are companies you can go through. It cost me $2,000.”
“But why?”
“Because funerals are expensive,” she said. “And I don’t want to put that pressure on my family to pay for it. If you do it early and prepay, you can get it up to 75% off. Plus, I get to plan it exactly the way I want. I know every detail down to the song playing during the ceremony and the hor d'oeuvres served at the afterparty.”
“Wow,” I said. I was speechless. Never in a million years did I think we’d end up here. 

For the rest of the drive, it was all I could talk about. Over the next hour, I got a play-by-play of Betsy's funeral program, set to the song of One Day More


[VALJEAN]
One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending road to Calvary
These men who seem to know my crime will surely come a second time...

It’s liberating to live in a world where we can choose how we want to live and how we’d like to die.
— Betsy



Meeting Strangers: A Stranger On Love & Divorce

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Editor's Note:
This is Part 4 of our Daily Origami series
"Strangers You Meet Between Places."
Here's Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

Chocolates

Ivan here. 

You know what they say: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But when it comes to matters of the heart, it’s like we all live in the same asylum. Time and time again, like moths to a campfire, we offer up our prayers to the open flame, before making graceful swan-dives into the same mistakes. 

The most recent marriage data from the National Survey of Family Growth is not encouraging:

  • The probability of a first marriage lasting at least a decade is 69%. 
  • The probability marriage makes it past the second decade drops to 54%.

If I’m interpreting this data correctly, the average marriage lasts long enough for you to run out of options, but not long enough for you avoid dying old and alone. 

On the bright side, we do have slightly better odds than a coin toss. 

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1. Before the Honeymoon

(October 2016, Taipei Tao-Yuan International Airport)


Jennie and I were in line checking in for our flight to Okinawa, where we were looking forward to some much needed R&R after our $10,000 international wedding.

The wait was long, but we both lived for those moments, engulfed by the excitement and anticipation of a new adventure. 

The only thing missing in my life was a string of Buddhist prayer beads. It's a bracelet I like to wear around my wrist, so I can take it off every now and again to rub when I need to count my troubles. 


2. Fate Intervenes


I mention the beads because the stranger standing in front of us in line happened to be wearing exactly what I was looking for.

So I tapped him on the shoulder and struck up a conversation by asking him where he got them from. 


3. He Tells A Sad And Familiar tale


The stranger turned out to be a Frenchman in his forties, hair cropped short and prematurely grey. He looked like a California surfer: complete with a tan, a Hawaiian shirt, and forearm tattoo. We learned that he was a chocolatier and former pastry chef in Europe, who now consults for major hotel and restaurant chains in Asia. 

At some point, we mentioned we were on our way to Okinawa for our honeymoon. At this, he chuckled.  

“That’s funny,” he said. “I’m on my way to Okinawa because of my divorce.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. 

Turns out he recently went through his second divorce with his second Taiwanese ex-wife, which put his visa status in jeopardy (again).

“I fly over to Okinawa, smoke a few cigarettes outside the airport, fly back here, and get my visa stamped for another six months,” he explained. 

Jennie and I looked at each other, temporarily overcome by his Frenchness. 

The wait in line took nearly forty five minutes. In that time, he told us about his two ex-wives. They had an awful lot in common: both were Taiwanese, loved their shopping and designer labels, and lived under the thumbs of two overbearing mothers, who may as well have been the same person. 

Towards the end of the conversation, he told us he was dating his third Taiwanese girl now. 

What a Greek tragedy, we thought. All roads seemed to lead to divorce.

Taiwan is for lovers?

After we received our boarding passes, the three of us walked together through security and said goodbye for the final time. As he was putting on his prayer beads, he hesitated, and then held them out to me.

"Here," he said. "You can have these."  

I shook my head. I told him he needed it more than I did. We shook hands and wished each other luck. 

When it comes to love, we’re all just operating on a hope and a prayer. 



Meeting Strangers: How A Stranger Became My Husband

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Editor's Note:
This is Part 3 of our Daily Origami series
"Strangers You Meet Between Places."
Here's Part 1 and Part 2

pexels-photo-276720-2.jpeg

Jennie here.

One morning in late December 2008, I burst into the university cafeteria in Kyoto, and started looking frantically for my USB stick, the one which contained the only copy of my East Asian studies term paper. The paper was due that very day. It was worth 50% of my grade. 

Right before I went into full-on panic mode, I noticed a familiar figure sitting alone by the window - a classmate from the class I was about to flunk. He was eating a light breakfast, reading a book, and (smugly, I thought) sipping a cup of tea. He had his term paper printed out and it was sitting in a manila folder on the table. He seemed like he didn’t have a care in the world. Cautiously, I walked up to him, looking for an empathetic ear. 

Me: Hey, you're in East Asian Studies with me, right?
Him (looks up): Oh, yeah. Hi. 

He knew who I was. I was one of only seven people in that class. I was the slacker who always came in late and hungover, and would promptly fall asleep five minutes into the lecture. I also had a strange feeling that this guy didn’t really like me. 

[Awkward pause]
Me: So, what are you up to?
Him: Eating breakfast. Reading a book. 
[Another awkward pause]
Me: Oh, ha. Yeah, I can see that. 

He looked pained as we spoke - I could tell he felt obligated to reciprocate my friendliness. 

Editor’s Note: I don’t care if you’re Scarlett Johansson, if you interrupt me when I'm reading, I’m 100% going to be short and unresponsive. 

Him: So, what are you doing here so early? Class doesn’t start for another hour. 
Me: I lost my USB stick. It had my term paper on it.
Him: That’s too bad. Good news is, you still got time to bike home and get another copy. 
Me: I don’t have another copy. That was my only copy. 
Him: What? What about your laptop? Email? 
Me: I used the school computer to write it up.

He paused, almost in disbelief. 

Him: That sucks...I don't know what else to say. Most people would've saved another copy. 
[Awkward pause]
Him (getting up): Well, I better get going. Hope you end up finding it. 

USB lost

I never did find that USB stick. Nor did I find the empathy I needed in that moment. In the end, I had to write the entire paper from scratch that day and turned it in later that afternoon. It was complete gibberish and my final grade reflected it. 

But I did manage to find my husband that morning - even though neither of us knew it at the time.



Meeting Strangers: How a Stranger Helped Me Land My First Job

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Airplane

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of our Daily Origami series titled Strangers You Meet Between Places. Here’s Part 1


Jennie here. 

Some of the most fortuitous events in my life happened while I was traveling between places. When waiting in transit, my philosophy has always been: what’s the harm in striking up a conversation with a stranger? It’s basically a super low stakes game, with virtually no downside. 

Besides, if the conversation doesn’t work out, the chances I’ll ever see them again are slim to none. 

But first, some context: it was February 2013 and I was at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, waiting to board my flight to Boston. A few weeks earlier, I’d finally decided to move to Boston and begin my job search there. I was anxious because I’d been unemployed and living with Ivan in Toronto for the past six months, getting nowhere in phone interviews. It was clearly time to put some boots on the ground and start hustling. 


How a Stranger Helped Me Land My First Job


At the airport lounge, I decided to move over to the “business section” to start my next batch of resume submissions. I saw a friendly-looking, well-dressed woman in a business suit, so I sat near her. Randomly, the television by us was showing footage of ski-jumpers, which sparked a conversation:


Her: I can’t believe people are willing to do stunts like that! 
Me: There are a lot of adrenaline junkies out there. Chasing the next high.  
A few moments later…
Her: So, where are you going? 
Me: Boston. 
Her: Me, too! I work in Cambridge. 
I started peppering her with questions about Boston: What is it like? How do you like it there? Are the winters as tough as people say? 
Me (offhand): Oh, and I forgot to mention - I love your dress. You look fantastic. 
...and that was when she burst into tears. 
Her: Thank you so much! I was actually feeling really self-conscious. To tell you the truth, I just found out I’m pregnant, so you caught me at an emotional time. I was just thinking about how I was going to deal with work and maternity leave, how I was going to tell my boss... 
She was bawling at this point. It was mega awkward. I’m sure the people walking past us thought I’d been bullying her.
After a few moments, she finally calmed down. 
Me: Congratulations on the wonderful news! I’m sure your boss will be understanding. And you shouldn’t feel guilty for such a wonderful life event. 
Her (still sniffling): Thank you. So, why are you going to Boston?

I told her the truth. I’d just graduated from a state school in New Mexico and was looking for my first job in Boston. I had no friends or connections, but I felt like this was a move I had to make. 

And that was the moment my entire life changed. 

Turned out this woman worked as an account executive for a major tech research firm in Boston. We kept in touch over the next couple months, as I struggled to stay afloat with multiple temp and retail jobs. Eventually, she was the one who referred me to my first salaried position. 

Even now, I’m stunned by the ripple effect of this one encounter. Had it not been for a total stranger, I probably wouldn’t have a job in the high-paying tech industry. Without that first role, I wouldn’t have met my current mentor who hired me to lead his marketing team when he moved to a LA start-up. 

In fact, I wouldn’t have any of the privileges I enjoy today: flexible work hours, excellent health benefits, the very idea of going on a round the world trip. 

It’s experiences like this that make me think a year or two abroad might not be a vacation; it might turn out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. 

All I have to do is reach out my hand.
 


Meeting Strangers: Strangers You Meet Between Places

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.



Ivan here.

Last April, I took two weeks off to bike around Taiwan with 300+ high school students and my dad, the school principal. As father and son, we biked 965 km (or 600 miles) over 12 days. Here’s the route we took:

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Naturally, I trained for zero hours beforehand and flew into Taipei the night before we were supposed to leave. I figured I could just work off my jet lag by pedaling faster, right? 

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The heat, elevation, and the literal butt-hurt of sitting on a bike for 6-7 hours a day turned out to be excruciating. You should’ve seen the looks on the faces of these kids by the end of each day. It was as if they just found out that the family pet had been euthanized. 

Along the roughest legs of my journey, I sent Jennie several (unsolicited) texts updating her on my status: 

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Despite the self-inflicted emotional and physical abuse, I met several interesting people on this trip. It’s one of my favorite things about travel: conversations you strike up with strangers while you’re both between places. 

By the time you part ways, you'll find yourself ever so slightly, but irrevocably, changed. 


Part 1: A Stranger In Taiwan


1. Train Journey Down Eastern Taiwan

Because of roadwork along a section of our route, we loaded our bikes onto trucks and took a train into Hualien Station, a welcome relief for my sore butt and the health of my future offspring. 

The east coast of Taiwan is rural, with miles upon miles of idyllic rice fields overlooking mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
 

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On this journey, I also got to meet the official mascot for Hualien City: the unfortunately named Oh Bear (aka Orgasm Bear). In this video, he looks like he’s having the time of his life: 

2. Old Man Looks Back on His Life

I was seated next to an elderly man in his seventies, on his way to see his grandchildren in Hualien. We struck up a conversation when he asked me where I was taking the students. I told him the kids were turning sixteen this year. The plan was to bike around the island before they held their coming of age ceremony, which would mark their official transition into adulthood. 

This was when the old man told me about a similar trip he’d made in his youth. 

3. Challenges of Adulthood

This was back in the eighties - before I was born. He and a few college buddies set out on spindly village bikes, with a single gear, held together by wire and string. At one point in the story, they couldn’t make it down the mountain before dark and got caught in a typhoon. They were trapped in the mountains for two nights, surviving on limited rations and rainwater. When the storm passed they had to walk their bikes for miles down muddy, washed out roads. 

“It’s good to experience things like this while you’re young,” he said. “It’s the tough times you overcome that matters most in the end.”

4. our Struggle Matters

I don't know who to attribute this quote to, but I think it's true: pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. 

Which is to say that our struggle against adversity make up some of the best parts of who we are. 

In the end, despite all the pain we've experienced and the pain we've yet to face, a stranger aboard a train taught me to focus on creating good memories with the people I love - even from the wind and rain. 



Money Questions: What's Our Personal Definition of Success?

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


What is your personal definition of success,
and do you consider yourself successful?


JENNIE:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Recently, I had talked about growing complacent and aimlessly wandering, without any real goals. 

Planning to travel the world.

For me, the definition of success changes, depending on where I’m at in my life. And I think it should be fluid because nothing lasts. There are always new challenges to conquer.

If you had asked me four years ago, what did I consider success? I would have said that a well-paying full-time job and being independent of my family. 

Now? It’s about leveling up and living my life for myself. Specifically, I want to:

  • Finish my first (and only) half-marathon next year. 
  • Be able to generate revenue while I’m traveling abroad with Ivan in 2018 and 2019.
  • Travel to at least 50 countries by the time I’m in my mid-30s. So far, I’ve only been to eight countries in my entire life. 

Success doesn’t happen overnight. And the definition of success changes with who you are and what you’ve accomplished. The way I see it, today’s successes are tomorrow’s stepping stones. In the end, life is about the pursuit and journey, not necessarily the end result. 


IVAN:

There’s a line from Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited that has stuck with me ever since:

“My work had nothing to recommend it except my growing technical skill, enthusiasm for my subject, and independence of popular notions.” 
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The third point is important. Independence of popular notions. While I can empathize with the impulse to value something based on how popular it is, I can’t bring myself to respect it. It tells me that person has no idea what he/she values or wants. 

Success to me means carving out a piece of the world for myself, doing exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and as much as possible, hanging out with people I want to hang out with. Fame and fortune are totally unnecessary. I can think of more ways that could sabotage me than it would add value to my life. 

That being said, I’d be sad if after years of work, doing whatever was necessary, I didn’t pick up at least a modest following. This would mean I was never cut out to work on the things I liked, that I wasn't as good as I thought I was. 



Money Questions: What Financial Goal Do We Still Struggle With?

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


What is one big financial goal you still struggle with?


JENNIE:

Sometimes, it's hard to keep spending down.

I have a tough time committing on a daily basis to this rigid goal: 

Keep our spending below $36,000 a year.

This includes housing, rent, food, and all the other miscellaneous spending. Our savings rate is fantastic -- I save more than 50% of my income every single month. And in the end...you’d think this would be enough but it isn’t. Not for our longer term plans. Sometimes I find myself pleading with Ivan to let us go out to eat or allowing myself to buy that new paint set that I want. But sometimes, it’s just not in the budget (Editor’s Note: She’s being dramatic. She got both of those things). During those dire moments...when I really really want something, it’s hard to stay committed to spending less than $36,000 a year. 


Writing.

IVAN:

Because I never really wanted anything outside of books, travel, and a girl (got one), it’s hard for me to stay motivated to earn more money after my basic needs (rent and bills) are taken care of. As a freelancer, this makes me dangerously complacent, and it’s something I have to actively fight against every single day. 



Money Questions: What's The Biggest Money Mistake We've Made?

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


What is one of your biggest money-related mistakes that you’ve made?
What did you learn from it,
and what do you do differently now?


JENNIE:
 

I wasted a ton of money on fast fashion in my early 20’s.

Minimalist Clothing/Closet

In my teens and early 20’s, whenever I would feel down, stressed, or bored...I’d go to a nearby mall and just shop sales or cheap items. Granted, I still shop affordable items but it’s like 99% less than what I used to do.

When I moved out of my apartment in Boston to Los Angeles last year, I realized how much shit I had accumulated. And it was all worthless and had to be donated or thrown out.

It felt wasteful and I knew in that moment as I was cleaning out my studio apartment that I had wasted thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in shopping - and all for what? For nothing. 

These days, my closet is actually a lot smaller than Ivan’s; I think I have less than 40 items of clothing to last me the entire year. I’m trying to be more thoughtful of what I actually need. For example, when I want a t-shirt, is it because I need a new t-shirt or because I’m just bored with my closet?

For me, it’s about need. Especially because once we go abroad next year, I can only bring what I can carry in a 40L backpack. I have to pare down more and more and only buy things that I will love or need. 


IVAN:

Shirts.

For the record, I have more clothing than Jennie not because I buy them, I just take hand-me-down T-shirts from my brother for free. That’s like 75% of my wardrobe. The other 25% is Jennie getting fed up and buying me stuff. No one will ever accuse me of having style - except on accident. 

I can’t think of any money-related mistakes. Most of it had to do with alcohol, though I don’t think it’s the money I regret - it’s the time wasted on people I didn’t really care for, after I’d known them for long enough to know better. 
 



Money Questions: Did We Get A Good Education About Money?

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Looking back, do you feel you got a good education
about money, either at home or at school?


JENNIE:

Not really. My parents had a bad relationship with money and I went to a high school in a district full of rich kids - so I learned all the wrong lessons from my classmates. 

  1. Because of my parents’ relationship with money, I was never financially literate until my mid-20’s. Money was like politics in our household -- it was never discussed. So, whenever I had money, I’d usually spend it on someone in my family - because they would squander it on something they didn’t need to keep up appearances. Money always came and went. It was feast or famine. 

  2. I chose to go to a school that was outside of my assigned district in high school because this particular district had a lot more money, which meant they had better honors and advanced placement courses. The downside of this -- all of the kids in my high school came from upper-middle class families. They never had to worry about money because they got weekly allowances. So being surrounded by these kids meant I spent the way they spent - recklessly, because there would always be more. But in order to keep up with their allowances, I had to get multiple part-time jobs.


IVAN:

MIT

My parents have always been pretty frugal people. The only thing they didn’t cheap out on was education (though they didn’t believe in going into debt for it). For high school, they sent my brother and I to the best private school that money could buy in Taipei. The school had a robotics lab. For our junior trip, we had the choice between Italy, the UK, and Cambodia. Tuition at this school cost about as much as a four year university degree. 

For eight years, I watched my parents plow all their monthly savings into paying our tuition. When college came around, I made the decision to forgo an Ivy League education and get a near full scholarship at a top Canadian school. I didn’t major in English or Finance. I wasn’t interested in being taught things I could learn on my own.  

No one ever explicitly told me debt was bad or I should spend less than I earned. I just watched what my parents did and how they lived. Plus, personality-wise, I didn’t like the idea of being owned by anything. I have zero intention of ever becoming a starving artist. 

To put it another way, I'd rather have leverage over people than let people have leverage over me. 



Frugal Food Recipes: How to Make Your Own Popcorn

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


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Jennie here. 

Recently, Ivan and I have been trying to cut down on our junk food habit. One way we’ve learned to combat our former craving for potato chips is to pop our own popcorn kernels instead. It’s low calories, has whole grains, some fiber, and crunch - it’s a hard snack to beat!

For the last 16 Sundays, I’ve been forced to keep Ivan company as he watches the latest season of Twin Peaks. I can’t begin to convey my frustration with this series. I have no idea what the hell is going on or where it’s all going. However, one of my favorite part of our routine is that we get to hang out together and eat popcorn as we get sucked into the universe of David Lynch

Popcorn is the ultimate date-night snack for us. And we prefer to pop our own popcorn on the stovetop because it’s cheap and the options to customize are almost infinite. And that's practically snack freedom to me.

Here are just a handful of flavor options that come to mind:

  • Sriracha
  • Pesto
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar (just add a tad bit of sugar to the oil before adding in the popcorn kernels)
  • Garlic and salt

Depending on your mood - you could make something plain to snack on, something sweet for dessert, or like in my single days -- you can just have it as a meal with a glass of wine when you’re too lazy to cook. 

My favorite seasoning to use is the Shin Ramen powder left over from Monday’s recipe. It’s spicy, savory, and tastes almost like a full meal (Editor’s Note: See what I mean? This girl has a ramen problem). 


How To Make Your Own
Popped Popcorn At Home


Oh, and these photos look great, right?! These are actually our photos. #ShinRamenPopcorn4Ever

  1. Buy a cheap $2.00 bag of unpopped popcorn from anywhere. My personal favorite is from Trader Joe's.
  2. Heat up 1/2 a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan (ideally, a deep one).
  3. Once the oil is hot add in a few tablespoons of popcorn kernels.
  4. Cover. And let them pop until they stop crackling. 
  5. Open the Shin Ramen seasoning packet and sprinkle ⅕ of the packet over the freshly popped popcorn; toss to lightly coat and add more seasoning if desired. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! 



Frugal Food Recipes: Taiwanese Oyster Omelettes

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Ivan here.

I'm not a foodie. Unlike Jennie, who has an emotional connection to certain flavors and dishes, food to me is only as interesting as what it stands for. 

The first time Jennie and I met was back in October 2008 in Kyoto. My BFF and I were hosting a small (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner for some friends at our dorm. I was responsible for the appetizer and decided to make oyster omelettes, a popular street food in Taiwan. 

The ingredients are as follow: 

  • 3/4 cup of sweet potato or corn starch 
  • 15-20 oysters
  • Bok choy cabbage, chopped
  • Eggs
  • Five spice powder 
  • White pepper powder
  • Chinese sweet chili sauce

Instructions for IVan's Oyster Omelettes


First, mix the starch with half a cup of water. Season with salt and white pepper powder. Heat 4-5 oysters on frying pan with oil until halfway cooked, then pour some starch mixture to cover the pan. Once the starch is half coagulated, add a handful of cabbage, then crack two eggs over it, breaking up the yolk with your spatula. Season with five spice powder (my secret).  Cover with lid for one minute. Flip (or fold) the omelette over when the underside is crispy and light brown. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Plate the omelette and drown in sweet chili sauce. 


It Happened One Night


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I never invited Jennie to the dinner because I didn’t know her very well. She was that strange, bubbly Asian girl who lived alone in an apartment, after she’d lost the lottery to live in the dorms (a recurring theme in her life). 

But one of her hobbies must’ve been inviting herself to other people’s parties, because she showed up when our friends arrived. 

The only thing I remember from that evening was her excitement, as she stuffed her face with oysters, while peppering me with questions. At the end of the meal, she slyly suggested that we get married so I could cook for her every day. We both laughed at the joke. 

And now, nearly a decade later, no one’s laughing anymore. 

 



Frugal Food Recipes: Three Creative Uses For Rice Paper

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Make a full meal tonight with rice paper. You can do it.

Make a full meal tonight with rice paper. You can do it.

Jennie here.

Growing up Vietnamese meant that I got to eat one of the most delicious, fresh, and affordable cuisines in the world. And there are only a handful of Vietnamese ingredients and dishes that make me miss my mother’s cooking. Outside of pho, one of my go-to ingredients is the Vietnamese rice paper wrapper. You can buy an entire pack for less than $2.00 at any Asian grocery store and it’s fairly versatile as an ingredient.


Three Recipes That Use Rice Paper


Here are my favorite ways to have rice paper - recipes linked:

  • Rice paper crisps - Less than $2.00
    Sometimes, when we’re on a no-spending day, I have to get creative when I’m craving something like chips. A few months ago, when I was feeling deprived but still wanted to satiate my cravings, I opened up my kitchen cabinets to see if there was something easy, quick, and salty that I could munch on. My desperate search led me to rice paper crisps.
     

  • Fresh summer rolls - $2.00 - $7.00 if you're doing it cheap
    Vietnamese rice paper summer rolls are light and addictive. And honestly, you could put whatever you have in your fridge into these little summer rolls. It takes less than 10 minutes to pull together a full meal if you’re just making it with noodles, lettuce, eggs, and a handful of other vegetables.
     

  • Fried spring rolls - $5 - $10 for meat and vegetables
    They’re deep-fried, crispy, and unhealthily addictive. I can’t have these fried spring rolls often but when I’m visiting home my mom will often make these for me. I used to love the smell that I’d wake up to in the morning -- my mom would be in the kitchen, rolling these tasty bites, and frying them in oil. The aroma of pork and wood ear mushrooms would fill the entire house.



Frugal Food Recipes: How Lazy People Make Thai Curry

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Ivan here.

Jennie and I have an arrangement where I cook from Monday to Thursdays, and she cooks on the weekends. Since I freelance, it gives her time to unwind when she gets home from work. 

I also know that if it were up to her, she’d have Shin Ramen five days a week. For the record, I’m skeptical of her “healthy” ramen recipe, which seems to be just a slower process of self-mummification. 


Cooking for Lazy People


My philosophy on cooking is similar to the way I write this blog: no frills - picking the shortest route from point A to B. Much like writing is a transfer of ideas, food is a transfer of heat and essential nutrients. 

Let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be. 

All of my meals follow a similar pattern: cheap, Asian, and lazy. Prepared in under 20 minutes from prep to plate. Consisting of: 

  • 1 type of carb

  • 2 types of vegetables

  • 1 type of protein

  • A spice or sauce to make life worth living


Why Red Thai Curry Is The Lazy Person's Meal


Three reasons I love thai curry: 

  1. It takes a real dumbass to fuck it up. 
  2. It’s versatile - you can throw anything in there and it'd still taste good. 
  3. It sets up future meals for the week (like a hockey assist). 

Here’s all you need to get started: 

  • 2-3 tablespoons of Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste ($0.50)
  • 1 can of coconut milk ($2) 
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 types of slow-cooking veggies ($3) - I use black kale & organic beech mushrooms
  • 4-6 cups of brown rice ($1)
  • Thinly sliced pork shoulder ($4) - from the Japanese supermarket
  • 1 Lime, thai chili peppers, and cilantro (optional) 

Total Cost: $10-12 per pot, $2-3 per serving


How To Make The Lazy Person's Thai Curry
Recipe & Instructions


Pop the rice into the cooker. Warm the red curry paste in a well-oiled pan to heat up the spices. Saute the meat until half way cooked, then toss in the vegetables. Add the coconut milk and simmer. Add fish sauce to taste. Garnish with cilantro and lime juice.

Rice is done? You’re done. 

 
 

A single pot of curry on a Monday evening will last us through Tuesday. After the curry is gone, I pan fry the leftover rice with store-bought kimchi, mushrooms, and eggs for Wednesday. On Thursday, I take all the vegetables and leftover spices from the fridge to make a soup, throwing in packs of udon noodles to cap off the week. 

Total weekly prep time: less than one hour. 

It's simple, practical, and completely idiot-proof.