Archive for the 'money' Category

lookin’ for a job, livin’ on a prayer

Due to the massive change of plans involving loan grace periods and my lack of funding, I will only be taking one French class at the Sorbonne in the fall. Because I will no longer be a full-time student, I won’t be able to hold a steady job in Paris unless I get paid under the table (or work for free!). Luckily, there’s still high demand for fluent English speakers, so I could probably find a babysitting job. I’m just too chicken to hold phone conversations in French, so I’ve been replying to FUSAC and craigslist ads that have e-mail addresses. It’s a bit late to be job-hunting, so I don’t expect much to come out of my inquiries. For now I’m living off of the one credit card I have that works overseas, and whatever my mother wires into my bank account.

The guy that lent me the guitar is also trying to convince me to go the Pont des Arts with him and sing for money. He has this portable mini-amp, so he could bring his electric guitar and a mic and we could jam to “Hotel California” and “No Woman, No Cry”.

I’m beginning to like the idea. In Paris, it’d be a joke to get arrested for panhandling— just take the Metro anywhere and there’s a 50 percent chance that a beggar or street performer will come into your car and solicit money. And apparently a bunch of Parisian musicians got their start that way (like Edith Piaf!). Plus I might just be taking one step closer to my dream of becoming a Japanese rock star…


one last food post for the win

Since my host mother is back and again in charge of my dinner, this will be my last food journal post (until maybe July, when I’m all moved into my own apartment). After this, it’s back to… our regularly scheduled program? What IS my regularly scheduled program, anyway?


5/15/2007 (T)
Brunch: vanilla, strawberry, citron yogurt, milk bread, baguette
Class: can of orange juice (1)
Dinner: arugula (?) with lemon, 2-egg cheese omelette with tomato, citron yogurt, milk bread, baguette, soymilk

I still don’t know what the mystery head of lettuce is, but it’s bitter on the inside and tastes great with lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar. (Don’t take my word for this one, though; I love sour stuff.)


5/16/2007 (W)
Early Breakfast: soymilk and sugar ice cream, soymilk-bread-vanilla yogurt ice cream
Lunch: viennoise au chocolat (.70)
Linner: Quiche, Pain aux Raisins, Orangina (5.70)
Dinner: 2-egg cheese and tomato omelette, greens with balsamic vinegar and lemon, vanilla yogurt

I was looking through the ice cream page in HowStuffWorks and got to the part about Five-Minute Ice Cream. Since I had rock salt and ice from the freezer, I HAD to give it a try. The results were less than spectacular, but I made milk bread ice cream! How awesome is that? Surely more awesome than trout ice cream.

 bread ice cream iced bag of soymillk/yogurt/bread/sugar, on the rocks


bread ice cream the frozen finished product

I’m not at all opposed to having the same thing for dinner twice in a row. Seven times, though… that might be pushing it.
I love omelettes, and I finished up my emmental cheese (now two weeks old!) with this last one, depicted in all its messy glory, with brown egg scrapings from the pan on top and a bit of balsamic vinegar + lemon juice on the side. (I only took a few sips straight, then dipped the greens in.)

dinner may 16th


5/17/2007 (Th)
Brunch: soymilk and cereal, coco yogurt
Snack: rice cakes with jam, guac, cheese, strawberry yogurt, soymilk, grass jelly drink
Dinner: cheese (2.10), tabouleh, red and rose wine, chips, petit ecoliers, corn nuts, shrimp chips (!!!), crab quiche (!!!!!!!)

Today I attended a wine and cheese/chips/snacks on the Pont des Arts, and proceeded to freeze my ass off and eat things with seafood in them. Oh well; I’m trying my best to be a good vegetarian, but there are those occasional 2 a.m. beef ramen cravings…


5/18/2007 (F)
Breakfast: milk and cereal, citron yogurt, egg with cheese, rice cakes
Snack: box of delichocs (2.80)
Linner: creole (meringue), tea, greens with lemon
Dinner: lentils with tomato, onion and avocado, toasted whole grain bread with hummus, red wine

I’d been eating so well, and then promptly decided that I HAD to bring a box of Delichocs to my midterm. Until then my mind had been totally clear, and then I filled it with absolute CRAP. Yummy crap, though. My friends probably all think I’m a pig by now.


At least dinner was good– my first host mom dinner in a while! She hates cooked lentils, so I get lentil salad-type things a lot.


The grand total? About 100 euros on food in sixteen days. A wince-inducing sum, but good to know. Maybe I should invest in some tupperware to pack my own lunch.

My next post will be a geek post dedicated to free apps for my beat-up old PowerBook, which still runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9.

“10.3.9?” I hear you all say. “How preposterously outdated!” Well, hush. I happen to enjoy my Dashboard-free existence. Stay tuned.

and by twenty euros a week, i meant fifty

I decided to keep my food journal up for a little bit longer for future reference because my mom asked me to figure out my monthly budget while I’m in France. If I don’t eat out, I’m pretty sure I could survive on 100 euros a month food-wise. However, my self-control is kind of lacking right now, especially with classmates around.

By the way, I found out that the bread I got in Franprix is called “pain tagine” because it’s baked in a tajine pot.


5/11/2007 (F)
Brunch: milk and cereal, milk bread, yogurt
Bought: (~7)
– 10-pack milk bread (pain au lait)
– eggs
– 4-pack muesli yogurt
– box of potage aux legumes
– box of fake petit ecoliers
Dinner: lentil stew, milk bread, muesli yogurt, fake petit ecoliers

Oooooh, MILK BREAD. I didn’t think there was a bread sweeter than Filipino pan de sal, but this delicious dessert bread proved me wrong. Also, I had no idea what muesli was until I picked the yogurt up (on sale because its expiration date was on Sunday). I still don’t really know. But whatever it is, I like it.

I also re-created my lentil stew from last time, but this time I didn’t realize that too many peas spoil the broth. And I dumped the rest of my lentils into the damn thing, so I ended up having lentils for dinner for the next three days. Lesson learned: Don’t hedge your bets on one dish.


5/12/2007 (Sat)
Breakfast: milk and cereal, muesli yogurt, milk bread
Linner: milk bread and muesli yogurt, petit ecoliers
Dinner: poached egg, lentil stew with egg, milk bread, muesli yogurt, petit ecoliers

I had to finish the yogurt before Sunday, which explains why I had so much of it. But I had a lot of milk bread and petit ecoliers too because I decided to try a new kind of diet regime: eat healthy stuff during the week, but take a day off and binge on whatever junk you want. It apparently works by tricking your body into thinking that it’s definitely not starving, so it subsequently keeps your metabolism amped. Dunno if it’ll work because I eat something sweet virtually every day, but the idea’s pretty cool.

Also, how does a poached egg end up like this?:

poached egg…


5/13/2007 (Sun)
Brunch: cereal, yogurt, senbei, crackers, jam and guac on rice cake, mango juice
Dinner: poached egg, tea, lentil egg soup, yogurt with brown sugar and cereal

I ran out of milk, so I ate the cereal dry, then tried mixing it with my last cup of yogurt for dinner. I also ate a lot of crap because I ran out of everything else. For dinner, I poached an egg with the boiling water method but didn’t use any white vinegar, so I had lots of egg left over in the water and decided to toss some of the old lentil stew in there, plus more salt (which it didn’t need at all). It tasted like ass.

lentil egg soup


5/14/2007 (M)
Breakfast: package of chocolate sandwich cookies (1.50)
Lunch: viennoise au chocolat (.70), riz wokbar and jus ACE (carotte, citron, orange) (5)
Snack: banana-nutella crepe (4)
Bought: (9.76)
– 10-pack milk bread
– baguette
– 2 tomatoes
– 1 head of lettuce?
– box of bio soymilk
– 8-pack of la laitiere yogurt
Dinner: lentil stew leftovers, part of the baguette, rest of mango juice

I TOTALLY went on a spending spree today. I rushed to school, so for breakfast I bought some sugary, totally crap snack from a vending machine along the way (if you haven’t already been warned, metro vending machines are a no-no!!).

Lunch was better; there’s a place called wokbar near school where vegetarians can have a large carton of fried rice with carrots, peas, bean sprouts and egg for about 3.40. It’s the viennoise, drink and CREPE that killed me. The vendor right next to the Métro St.-Placide makes fantastic crepes, but they run from 3-5 euros a POP! Holy crap!

Then I went to Franprix to buy milk and bread when the assorted 8-pack of yogurt caught my eye. I really like the La Laitiere brand (it’s by Nestlé); their individual yogurts come in really cool-looking clay pots, and they’re so creamy and rich. I also bought some greens, but seeing as I have NO idea how to pick them, they’re probably gonna rot pretty soon. Well, the tomatoes should be good. My dad used to grow them in our backyard, so I know how to pick ’em.


I’ve spent about 85 euros on food in twelve days. Sweet Jesus. How’s that for a one-person food budget?

Sigh. At least my host mother’s coming back on Thursday…

forget about the twenty euros…

More yummy food this week! May means a ton of days off, so I haven’t been eating out as much as I did last month… but I’m still eating lunch with Stanfordiens. Which is BAD because we’re located in the 6th arrondissement, notorious for its myriad shops and cafés.

Stanford gives us a “meal stipend” of a couple hundred euros per month in a BNP Paribas account, but I use that for regular purchases since my debit card is not European. (Besides, credit cards usually work in cafés and restaurants, but you need cash for open-air markets, small epiceries and the like.)

Here’s the next menu set. Man, eating out is SO expensive.


5/8/2007 (T)
Breakfast: milk and cereal
Linner: tapenades and jam on rice cakes
Bought: (~7)
– pain aux céréales (demi-baguette)
– guacamole
– purée de myrtilles (bilberries?!)
Dinner: pain aux céréales, ensaymada, purée de myrtilles, guacamole

I found a Monoprix at Place de la Republique. It’s a little classier than Franprix, and contains more organic and bio products. The pain aux céréales (multi-grain bread?) looked good and healthy, so I got it even though it’s twice the price of regular bread (1.60 versus .70 or .80). Also, the purée de myrtilles was sort of like applesauce but with blueberries, good for mixing into my plain yogurt.


5/9/2007 (W)
Breakfast: poached egg w/ pain aux cereales
Lunch: viennoise au chocolat, broccoli and cheese quiche (3)
Dinner: lentil stew (with zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, peas, legumes), pain aux céréales, guacamole, purée de myrtilles, rice cake, cranberry/framboise juice

I finally remembered to take a picture! Even worked hard to make it presentable. For the stew I tossed in all the vegetables in the fridge, but I didn’t realize tomatoes could wilt so quickly. Must learn how to add vegetables according to how quickly they cook.

dinner, may 9th


5/10/2007 (Th)
Breakfast: milk and cereal
Lunch: 1/2 egg, mushroom and cheese crepe, 1.5 chocolate crepes, apple juice (9.50)
Dinner: milk and cereal, yogurt

For lunch we went to a creperie near the Tour Montparnasse. The crepes were drowning in oil; I couldn’t finish my galette (salty crepe) because of all the melted cheese tossed in. The sweet crepe was delicious, albeit not crisp enough, made of the creperie’s own chocolate (chocolat au maison). The food wasn’t worth 9.50, but hanging out with friends was.


By the way, I added a Travel section to the menu bar above. It contains tons of travel guide-related links, and my own guide to life as a broke American student in Paris. Still in progress, but you might find it entertaining.

a week on twenty euros, continued

Hmm… this experiment started to fail miserably when I got a 3-euro gelato cone from Amorino. I’ve already gone well over my 20-euro budget, but I blame it entirely on going out to eat, because my at-home meals were definitely under 20.

Here’s my menu thus far. Prices are indicated in parentheses if necessary. Also, the bread isn’t called matnakash, it’s something else. Sort of like a softer bagel, but quadruple the diameter and more flour-y. I keep forgetting the name when I look at it in Franprix.


5/3/2007 (Th)
Breakfast: cereal and milk, 1 cup yogurt
Lunch: 1 egg botched poach, fried bread, rice cake, jam on rice cake
Dinner: 2 eggs w/ legumes and soup for sauce, rice cake, bread, cranberry juice, kiwi
2h30 snack: jam on rice cake

My sleep schedule was being reconfigured, thus the snack. Also, using the potage aux légumes verts as a sauce for the eggs was BRILLIANT (ta-ta-tasty!). It’s amazing what a .99-centime box of soup can do for you. I should’ve taken pictures.


5/4/2007 (F)
Lunch: milk and cereal, 1 cup yogurt
Snack: gelato (3)
Bought: (~6 euros)
– 1 apple
– 3 tomatoes
– 1 cucumber/zucchini?
– 1 large can of lentils
– 6 more eggs
– 1 packet of grated Emmental (Swiss) cheese
– 2 1L bottles of water (this shouldn’t really count…)
Dinner: cheese and 1 tomato 1 egg omelette, finished off the bread, cranberry juice, jam on rice cake

I decided that one egg a night was enough to live off of (two eggs made me too full for dessert!). I don’t know the word for cucumber OR zucchini so I bought a random long, green vegetable and hoped for the best.


5/5/2007 (Sat)
Lunch: tapenades on bread, jam with yogurt
Linner: 3 rice cakes with tapenades and jam, yogurt, ensaymada (bread with butter, brown sugar and cheese), apple
Dinner: 1 egg botched poach, legumes, fried bread, milk and cereal, cranberry juice

This was the night I learned that in order to poach an egg, you have to fill the pan with water first. Will have to try that sometime.
Also, ensaymada is a very good but ridiculously unhealthy Filipino dessert. To make your own:

1. mix equal parts butter and sugar together
2. smother the top of a piece of fluffy white bread with this mixture
3. top off with grated cheese.

The cheese is definitely what makes this dessert. I made a lot of ensaymada once I got the combo of oil, sugar and fat just right. And ate it all. And then I felt kind of nauseated.


5/6/2007 (Sun)
Brunch: milk and cereal, yogurt
Bought: drinks, senbei (2.56)
Lunch: vegetarian samosa and egg roll, lemon tea (2.50)
Dinner: chinese buffet (10), banana split (4.30)

I went to the quartier chinois (read: Chinatown) on Sunday, which is why everything I bought was dirt cheap (but dinner was in the Marais). A fellow Stanfordian and I perused Tang Frères, a riot of a supermarket if I ever saw one outside of Asia, and stocked up on food that we haven’t seen in months.


5/7/2007 (M)
Breakfast: senbei
Lunch: banana-nutella crepe (4), water (.80)
Dinner: 1 egg omelette with legumes, yogurt, jam on rice cake, cranberry juice

I bought food today because it’s a school day again. Besides, Stanford gives us a monthly meal stipend, so maybe I should actually use it for food this month.


In all (including last week’s groceries and the last few days), I spent about 45 euros on food. I just did the math and it’s SHOCKING. Eating out was about 25 euros of that. I was even trying my best to be miserly…

Lessons learned from this week? Stop eating out. (And stop making impulse purchases!) The end.

i’m living on twenty euros this week

I was actually kinda happy when my host mother announced that she was leaving for two weeks and I had free reign over my food. Her food’s fantastic, but as you might have noticed in this entry, my low self-esteem has been begging me to go on a diet. (Though there’s no way in hell I’m giving up ice cream. Actually… remembering all the shopping I did in Barcelona will curb my cravings for a 4-curo cone.)

The thing is, I’m vegetarian and I’m broke. (Both of which are pretty much my fault, I know, I know.) I can’t eat out with my friends for lunch now. I had to steal cash from my mom’s account just to buy today’s groceries. But, inspired by the governor of Oregon’s decision to live for a week on a $21 food stamp stipend, I want to see how far my 20 euro (~$26) can go.

My first order of business was to take stock of what I already had in the kitchen:

– milk and cereal
– a small container of tapenades
– half a large box of green vegetable soup
– one kiwi (from a buffet in Barcelona)
– a little cheese that will soon be moldy.

(Host mom gave me 125 euro for dinners while she was away, but I used it to pay for my Barcelona trip.)

Then I went down to the neighborhood Franprix (NOT the neighborhood corner grocery store or bakery, which charge more) to supplement my diet with more protein, a little bread, maybe more legumes (both senses of the word), and something not too unhealthy for my sweet tooth. For 9.62 curo, I got:

– a medium-sized round loaf of matnakash
– a jar of apricot confit
– six large eggs
– two 75g packages of rice cakes
– a jar of carrots, peas and celery
– a box of cranberry-raspberry juice
– a 12-pack of plain yogurt
– a box of paper towels

Lunch: I made an omelette with two eggs and a few spoonfuls of veggies, then tried the matnakash (yummy with a hint of corn) and a couple of rice cakes (really dry).

Dinner: I had a cup of the soup with a poached egg and fried matnakash, with a spoonful of jam on a rice cake for dessert. I don’t drink much besides water, but I like the tart taste of cranberry juice.

The soup and the juice are good for about 3-4 days after opening, but I have a feeling I could keep them for a little longer. The eggs expire soon, but I’ll probably finish the rest before Saturday. I should make a cheese omelette…

According to Tim Ferriss (who gained 34 lbs of muscle in a month), repetition in meals is good for losing body fat. (And carbohydrates are bad, but I’m gonna skimp on that advice for now.) Unfortunately, since I am not a meat-eater, I will have to eat lots and lots of eggs. Should I get bio-friendly eggs? Twice the price, but better for the chickens… Hmm, my morals vs. my budget. That’s an argument that shouldn’t ever be allowed to happen.

De toute façon, I’ll probably do a few more posts than usual this week to show you how I’m doing with the 20-euro diet. And I have to get around to blogging about finding an apartment in Paris– off craigslist…

travel clinics are a rip-off, and housing hijinks

I visited the Vaden Travel Clinic on campus yesterday, and realized I just paid $30 for a nurse to read a printout about vaccines to me for thirty minutes. I could’ve just read up on this stuff through the travel section in the Centers for Disease Control site. The Hepatitis A vaccine I almost got anyway, until I realized in my allergy-induced stupor that it cost $65 and I wasn’t going to Eastern Europe. The meningitis vaccine? If I live in a dorm, maybe. But I don’t know if I’m staying with a host family yet, and it’s about $100. And RABIES. I can’t believe the nurse talked to me for five minutes about RABIES. If anything, I should’ve put the $30 I wasted on this useless consultation towards getting the HPV vaccine when I get back.

Anyway, my guy and I found a hotel in New York (I really, really wish we’d done this in advance ‘coz it cost $500 for THREE nights), but since the hotel will let us cancel our reservation up to 48 hours before check-in without a penalty, we’re also on the prowl for last-minute sublets on craigslist. As in, really last minute. I expect to start finding deals maybe four or so days before we leave. (I love the magazine Time Out: New York, and also the LiveJournal community nyc_for_free— I got a ton of responses to my post asking for help. :)

London’s kind of a problem because the exchange rate is $2 to a British pound right now. We just got a cozy bed and breakfast around the West End, but honestly, anything within Zone 1 of London that’s a five-minute walk from a Tube stop would be great for me. I actually wanted to check out a hostel, but bf is balking at the sketchiness. Oh well, at least I convinced him to consider craigslist for NYC.

Also, I added more referrals to the Support section in the column to the right, namely YesAsia and ThinkGeek. Online shopaholics, now’s your time to shine.


This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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