Powell Street Festival (Japanese Street Festival)

If you haven’t heard yet, Dan and I went to the Powell Street Festival last Saturday. This is our second time visiting the festival, and our first time since returning from Japan.

We nearly forgot about this festival happening until we were both bored out of our mind Saturday morning and decided what’s something that’s fun and cheap to do for the day and the internet suggested this festival.

Our sole purpose was to eat some takoyaki and catch some performances. So, of course, by the time we arrived at the festival (only an hour or so after opening and it was JAMMED PACKED!), we beelined to the famous takoyaki stand. The line-up and wait for the food wasn’t too bad.

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So, I personally think that Japan has ruined takoyakis for me… not because Vancouver doesn’t have authentic and yummy takoyaki, but because I think I overdid it when I was in Japan. I’ve never eaten so much takoyaki in my life than during that two weeks in Japan! I mentioned this to Dan as well after I couldn’t finish the remaining three balls and he agreed as well.

(At one point during the trip, we ordered a deluxe takoyaki for dinner and needless to say… it was a huge waste of money and I think that was the breaking point for us.)

After the food, we walked around a bit more to check out the booths and attractions. We skipped the merchandise area in an attempt to save our money because I had a feeling I’d be tempted to buy something. The booths were more or less the same as last year.

We walked across the field and found ourselves watching some performs set up Japanese drums on the stage. Dan and I decided to wait around to catch the performance.

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So, I can’t recall the group that was performing the drums but it’s a famous Canadian drumming group made up of women. They were the first all-women drumming group in Canada, formed in 1990.

My favourite performer was this little old lady! She was so adorable, and really rocking the show. I mean… when I’m at her age, I only wish I would be half as fit as her.

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After about 3-4 songs, we decided to call it and check out other things. Saturday was blazing hot and I was sweating like mad just sitting on the grass and watching a performance. Dan didn’t do too well – his shirt was just soaked in sweat from sitting.

We stopped by a gyoza place but didn’t feel like grabbing anything so we ended up driving back home and stopped by a Booster Juice.

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Later that evening, we went over to Stephen’s place to catch some UFC. It was a great Saturday, but waaaay too hot. If you haven’t visited the Powell Street Festival yet, I suggest doing it next year (as it’s over now). The food is good and cheap, and the performances and attractions make it fun. Best of all, it’s free!

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A Happy List | Vol. 3

+ I discovered aromatherapy from my colleagues at work recently and despite moving and saving money, I caved and purchased one for home. I’m so happy to stop by Winners first because they had an ideal one for only $50 with two 5ml oils!

I was extremely hesitant about purchasing a diffuser because I wasn’t sure if Dan would like it because when I was talking about it, he would say aromatherapy is a “scam” (lol). I burned lavender the first night we slept with it and he felt extremely calmed and fell asleep within seconds. The next morning, he said he woke up feeling more fresh than usual!

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+ Speaking of aromatherapy… I ordered this starter kit oil set from Amazon and it’s set to arrive this Thursday!

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+ Today is BC Day… which means it’s a bank holiday! I’m currently not a work and relaxing from an eventful weekend 🙂

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+ Having a busy weekend means more posts to write about! I’ll be sharing the Powell Street Festival, Vancouver Pride Parade and a date night!

+ I also discovered a pretty cool app that stimulates an accurate late 90s film picture! I love, love, love film but it’s way too costly and it’s more convenient to shoot on the phone.  Lately, my Instagram was popping with film pictures so I went into the Play Store and searched up film apps. I ended up loving Huji Cam so much, I paid for the premium version ($1.19 CAD).

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+ Olivia, my colleague from work, and I ordered glass straws from Amazon on Wednesday and they arrived last Friday. I was working remotely so I couldn’t pick them up but I’m super excited to use them on Tuesday when I make my iced coffee!

In a strong effort to save money, I’m trying to drink coffee at work instead of buying daily iced lattes from Starbucks. Olivia taught me how to make iced coffee and the straw was the last thing to top off my morning drink!

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Plus, making a positive impact on the environment is cool and all… #environmentallyfriendly #reuseablestraws

If We Were on a Coffee Date | Vol. 5

If we were on a coffee date

If we were on a coffee date… I’d tell you that I’ve officially given months’ notice to my managers about my move to Australia! So, no turning back now…

If we were on a coffee date… you’ll see me with a pixie cut again. I had it cut 2 weeks ago! The last time I had a pixie cut was about 4 years ago and I hated it because of the way it was styled – I’d wake up with major bedhead and had to shower before leaving the house. This current style has more texture than volume. I’m just essentially dreading the awful period of growing out my hair…

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Contrary to the very popular belief, it was Dan who actually gave me the final push to get the pixie cut.

If we were on a coffee date… I would tell you my friend Tiffany got hired at the same workplace as me! It would be the second time I’ve ever had a personal friend work with me. The first time was at Dairy Queen and let’s just say, it didn’t work out too well…

If we were on a coffee date… I’d tell you that the only debt I have left is my student loans! No more credit card debt!

If we were on a coffee date… I’d gush about my trip to San Francisco in September.

If we were on a coffee date… how I fell off from my fitness and health goals. I came back from Japan and went to the gym a week or two and then out of nowhere, any inch of motivation to do a physical activity was gone! I’ve had periods where I’d lose motivation for a week or so but never for about 1.5 months. It was horrible!

I eventually had Dan make a workout plan for me and I signed up for ClassPass again to do barre. I’m on my third week of Dan’s workout plan and it’s going great. I don’t think I ever want to lose motivation to work out like that, ever.

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Lynn Canyon Hike + Kevin Hart Show

Last month (I know, this is so overdue, lol), Dan and I finally decided to get off our lazy butts and do a small hike up in Lynn Canyon. The only reason why I even suggested Lynn Canyon was because it’s been years since I’ve been back and I sort of wanted to do a suspension bridge but didn’t want to pay like $40 for the one in Capilano.

Getting to Lynn Canyon without a car is painful! The first time I was up there, my friend had a car but since Dan and I rely on car-share, we decided to take public transit instead because car-share doesn’t go up with North Vancouver and it wasn’t worth it to pay for it hourly as we hiked.

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We went early-ish in the morning to avoid the crowds and the hot sun. I couldn’t recall what time but I’m thinking 10am to 11am-ish? The only crowd we experience was this family of tourists but aside from that, the park was nearly empty and the bridge wasn’t too crowded!

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A little into our hike, we found a beautiful river stream!

(We later found a decent little lake where people were actually taking a swim).

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And of course, we had to take a selfie at the bridge! I don’t know about you but I get nervous around things like this when I’m holding something valuable. Like, it’s less about the height and more about someone bumping into me and making me drop my phone into the stream below, lol.

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After our hike, we decided to splurge and have a lunch out. We were nearby the area of Anton’s so we settled for having pasta for lunch, which was fitting since I was starving. Anton’s is one of those places famously known for huge portions – they even reward you if you manage to finish your dish in one sitting. Dan has a big appetite and he typically leaves the restaurant with leftovers.

Plus, for only $15 for a plate bigger than my face… it makes a good meal or two for me!

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Who here loves white sauce more than red?!

Later in the evening, after filled with pasta and some relaxation, we headed out to catch Kevin Hart’s Irresponsible tour. This was my second time catching Kevin Hart and Dan’s first. I remember the first time I caught him live, he was performing at The Orpheum where the stage was more than half the size at Rogers Arena. Like, The Orpheum is where the Vancouver orchestra performs and Rogers Arena is where our hockey is played… so you can see how he’s grown drastically.

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Last month, a sunny day like this was very rare in Vancouver. It was rainy and cloudy throughout the month. So naturally, we had to soak up as much sunshine as possible before the show started!

Kevin Hart’s tour had a really strict cell phone usage policy. The moment you sit down at your seats, you’re not allowed to use your cellphone – not even to check the time! During the time we waited for the open acts and Kevin to come out, Dan and I were watching other people use their cellphones and security coming over to them. Much to my dismay, no one actually got pulled away and kicked out of the arena… although one girl got taken out but she came back momentarily.

The security was so adamant about this no cellphone policy that one security guy came up and asked if my watch was a Fitbit and if it recorded videos… like, seriously? For those who aren’t aware of Fitbits, the interface remains turned off but sometimes when you flick your wrist or something (eg. to read what time it is), the screen lights up. I guess when I was applauding one of the opening acts, the act of clapping turned my display on momentarily.

Kevin didn’t come on until an hour or two later – I think he had about three opening acts? But, when he did come on, he was AMAZING! Kevin Hart is one of my favourite comedians so I got extremely excited to see him live. He was full of energy, his jokes and stories cracked me right up – my cheeks were hurting so much from smiling! My favourite one was his story about hiding guns around the house, LOL and his Tokyo one – only because Dan and I returned from Japan a few months ago and somewhat understood what he was going through.

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Sold out show!

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The only time we were given permission to use our phones was at the end of the show.

Don’t you just love my phone quality? LOL.

All in all, it was such a great date day! We had ourselves a neat little hike with a small suspension bridge, followed by a soak in the sun and catching the Kevin Hart show!

Canada Day in Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC

I’m a little late but… Happy Canada Day, my fellow Canadians!

On the Canada Day long weekend, Dan and I caught the ferry to head over to the island again. As we’re moving to Australia, we have a mini bucket list of things to do and see in BC, and Victoria was on the list. We both been to Victoria but it’s been years since I visited and this was also our first time visiting together.

20180629_174529Dan’s from the island so we stayed in Nanaimo at his dad’s place before visiting Victoria. On Saturday, we had a late start to the day and hit the road around 11am. Victoria is about a 1.5 hr drive from Nanaimo. It was cloudy and eventually started to rain when we came into town – but luckily there no traffic!

Our first stop was the Royal BC Museum where we caught their featured Egypt: Time of the Pharaohs exhibit. It’s been years since I’ve read about Ancient Egypt and oh my god, do I miss it! Honestly, this exhibit was the sole reason why we even decided to stop by the museum, haha. We ended up skipping an entire floor when we came out of the exhibit and headed for lunch. Since then, I’ve been lowkey reading up on Ancient Egypt.

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The view from the museum – cloudy, but still very beautiful!

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For lunch, we stopped by Sam’s Deli & Bistro, a decent little place just up the block from the museum. I originally wanted to grab McDonald’s to keep it cheap but I thought, what the hell? We’re in Victoria so let’s try something local and new! The deli place was one of the first restaurants we saw and the food menu looked good.

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The food was yummy but definitely not worth $30 (and for lunch, nonetheless!). I don’t want to sound cheap buuuut… we are trying to save for an overseas move!

After the museum and lunch, we started to make our way down to Fan Tan Alley and Chinatown. When I first visited Victoria with a group of friends, we toured slightly around Chinatown but I’ve never visited Fan Tan Alley! It was super neat and they had awesome stores. We were only there because beside Fan Tan Alley was this French pastry shop I wanted to drop by to grab Dan’s dad his favourite lemon tart.

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Fan Tan Alley

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We took a nice stroll along the harbour, making our way closer to the car and a park. As you can probably tell, the sky cleared up!

Just before calling it day to head back to Nanaimo for dinner, we dropped by Beacon Hill Park which is this beautiful park just a 5-10 minutes walk from Downtown Victoria! It had a lake in the middle of it with ducks, and archways filled with flowers. It turned out, there was also a little petting farm in the park as well! We dropped by to visit some of the animals.

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It was nothing but clear blue skies when we drove back to Nanaimo. There was a bit of construction going on but nonetheless, driving on the wide open Canadian roads with the mountains and ocean to the right of me made me reflect on how lucky I am to call Canada my home.

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I also wanted chicken wings so Dan took me to a popular pub in Downtown Nanaimo. He recalled that the pub was a pretty “lit” place back in the days when he used to go out with his friends to get piss drunk. It did look like a fun place to be for Saturday night, haha. I ended up sending an image to Stephen and he recognized it instantly and told me that the popular nightclub they used to go to was just upstairs.

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I take this entire post back… I didn’t spend actual Canada Day in Victoria – I just spent the long weekend, there LOL.

Grab a Coffee with Me!

Hi, it’s me again.

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Can I honestly just slap myself for yet another rebrand? I know, I know… it’s only been a year that I announced my other new blog ‘October Rain‘ and here I am, not even a full year with Coffee with Claire.

As I’m typing this entry, I realized how much I miss blogging. I was looking back at old posts and miss interacting with other bloggers, and reading what people were up to last weekend. Hell, I even miss documenting my life and what I did last weekend!

So, what happened to October Rain? Is it still up and running? Am I abandoning it? I loved October Rain when it first started. I was able to mix my personal life with lifestyle entries, although I felt a little weird doing my lifestyle entries sometimes. A few months after I felt like I was ramping up with October Rain, a publisher emailed me and asked if I wanted to share some of their posts to make some little side money.

I thought why not? I mean, I was making money from blogging… so they sent me an article that reflected what October Rain was about – articles on fashion, photography, health and fitness, finances, etc. I did a few and true to their word, they paid me. Then they kept on sending me more articles to do and the money was good – it was such a nice add-on on top of my wages that I continued. I spent almost half the year posting their articles (and some other articles) on my blog that eventually, it felt like a chore. I would come home from work and log onto my blog asap to quickly publish the new articles they sent my way, while my PayPal was growing bigger and bigger. The most articles I published in a month netted me about $2,000 CAD.

Some of the articles were amazing and I could pull it off as mine, but some of them were so ridiculous but I published them anyways because it was money. I wasn’t ashamed of what I was doing, it’s all about business in this world, but I was so turned off by my blog that I didn’t make any attempts to try to incorporate my own entries. I’ll be posting about 2-3 articles a day that I didn’t have time to do my own entries or bothered with posting anything because it would get lost in the clutter.

Over the past few weeks, I thought about my blog. I enjoyed the extra income but I missed my own blog. I’ve given it some more thoughts and realized, I’m not a fan of lifestyle blogs because I feel like a lot of them are in it to get some sort of revenue, and it’s no shame in doing that – if you can make money out of our hobby, that’s perfect. But, it wasn’t for me. I miss reading into people’s lives. I miss reading about a random uni student’s authentic weekend house party, rather than reading their tips on getting through university. I miss documenting my life for the occasional reader, but ultimately, I miss going back and rereading some of the best days of my life. I didn’t want to read about my review on ClassPass or why Fresh Prep didn’t work out for me. I was trying those things so I have something to write about.

Hence, my move to Coffee with Claire. I created a new WP.com blog and spent the last couple of days going through my entries, rereading and deleting a few. I chose specifically to not be self-hosted anymore but just purchase a domain with WP. I chose to keep banners off my website, and not create an email anymore so I won’t be tempted to give in to publishers.

I want to keep this blog personal. None or very little lifestyle post. I want to interact with my readers again and not post rubbish articles about health that I don’t care about. I’d keep October Rain up as long as possible as a lifestyle blog because, hey, like I said, the extra monthly income benefited me, but I’d like to post more personal entries going forward.

So, without any more chit chat, I’m officially switching back to personal blogging, circa 2011, haha. Those were the good ol’ times…

ToSave Clothing Review | Affordable Clothes and Accessories!

ToSave.com Homepage

ToSave is an up-and-coming online retailer specializing in pretty much everything – clothes, accessories, beauty products, electronics, household items, cars accessories, etc. – at a ridiculously low price.

As someone that adores (online) shopping and loves a good discount, I couldn’t help but check out ToSave and see what their quality was like and what they had in stock.  For me, fashion isn’t a big deal in my life but I still prefer getting quality goods at an affordable price, especially when I’m trying to pay off student loans and travel in the near future. 

So, I grabbed a nice grey sweater, in time for the chilly Vancouver weather, and an everyday bag.

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Grey Sweater – $12.78 CAD / $9.99 USD

Okay, let me just start off by saying I love this sweater the moment I received it in the mail. I know that sounds extreme to say because c’mon… love? But seriously.

It arrived just in time for the cold weather to kick in. I tossed it the wash and wore it the next day. Much to my surprise, the sweater is extremely comfy and did not itch one bit. It was has a pleasant weave/braid design in the front and was true to its size. To this day, this sweater is still one of few items I wear consistently on a weekly basis.

However, given the price, you must know that it’s not 100% wool blend because otherwise, it’ll shrink in the wash. I tossed it in the washer and dryer and it didn’t shrink at all. Unfortunately, I’m not too sure what the mix of materials is but regardless, it’s easy to care for and still comfy after many washes. Since it is a mix of materials, the back of my sweater isn’t pure grey – it has bits of black scattered across the back but it’s not extremely noticeable until you examine it close up. When I wear it, it blends right in.

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As you can see, tiny black patches across the back of the sweater.

But, despite this (and better on the back than the front of the sweater), I still adore this item! If you’re in need of a new sweater that’s comfy, easy on the eyes and easy to care for, ToSave definitely has some good stock!

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A classic grey sweater pairs very nicely with some black jeans or getting cozy near the holiday season.

The next item I chose from ToSave is a nice everyday beige purse. I’ve been in the market for a new bag for a bit but hasn’t actively pursued anything because of the cost. I hated the idea of spending $30-50 on a bag and have it sit in the closet for some time after getting tired of using a bag (I switch from bags to backpacks throughout the year). 

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Leather Totebag – $14.17 CAD / $10.99 USD

When I saw this bag on their site, I knew I wanted it. It was basic, trendy, unique and the ideal size for what I want in a bag. The bag was quite roomy inside with low pockets on the outside. There were two straps – a multicolour thick strap and a slightly longer, black strap. Top it off, it closed with a magnetic button. When it arrived, it was a slight overall disappointment with this bag. 

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To start off, it advertises as PU leather which is fine by me. I thought the material was fine, for the price that is, but it was incredibly thin. I felt extremely nervous at the thought of stuffing a lot of things into the bag thinking it may rip out of nowhere. 

The multicolour strap was such a unique feature of this bag, I couldn’t help but love it. It was big, bright and of decent quality – you can definitely feel confident wearing the bag without the strap digging in your shoulders or snapping. However, the black strap was very cheap, you can tell by the look and feel of it. I definitely wouldn’t trust carrying my bag with such a flimsy strap. 

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Close up of the strap buckles

Another disappointing factor was the quality of the strap buckles. If the straps won’t give way first, then these buckles definitely will. I couldn’t believe these flimsy things is what holding the bag together. I understand that it’s a $10 bag so I shouldn’t be too surprised by the build quality. 

Lastly, the bag also came with a little pouch. I think this is a coin purse? I wasn’t too sure because the opening was so small and thin, you couldn’t fit anything else but small coins in there… I struggled to even fit my fingers in there. This small pouch is probably the worst of the bunch – I felt that it was made from leftover materials and didn’t give much post-care to it as the zipper was sticky and threads were sticking out.

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Tiny opening to this tiny pouch.

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All in all, this bag looks fancy but built poorly in my opinion. I’m not into brand names so I’m not sure if this is an “original” design or a knockoff of a designer brand. It’s not to say that you can’t wear it in public, I’d still continue using it, but I think I’ll take a bit more caution in what I put in this bag. If it was damaged or lost, it’s not the end of the world. 

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Final thoughts on ToSave? It’s a great website to buy your clothes and accessories without breaking the bank. However, be wary of the quality – it’s sometimes a hit or miss, and don’t get too overly excited when they arrive. Don’t know what to get off of these cheap online retailers? Here are six items you should consider buying online to save some money!

Also, a lot of these products ship from China. I ordered late November, and it didn’t arrive until early January. Granted, the post office was closed for the holidays and was extremely busy but it took just a little over a month to deliver. If you’re patient, this website can be a great resource for shopping. 

I would also say, don’t trust the pictures too much, as well. It’s a business – all these pictures are going to look great and high quality. I was fooled by the model and stock pictures of the bag, and sadly, the quality wasn’t as great as what they portrayed it to be. The products on the site are so cheap, you can’t even get hung up if expectations don’t meet! 

Let me know if you’ve tried ToSave! What did you like or not like about it?

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by ToSave. ToSave has sent me these two products as compensation for a review. However, this does not affect my opinions or bias towards this brand whatsoever. I promise my readers my opinions and thoughts on these products remains honest and unbias. Interested in working with me? Get in contact with me here!