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graphic art courtesy of: http://www.ryderdoty.com

Continuing on my year of lists, my “99 Things That Bring Me Joy” journal brings us to the list of my most treasured childhood books. I remember when I was younger, my dad used to be a hardcore member of the Book-of-The-Month club. He really wanted me to get into the habit of reading, more than watching TV like my older siblings (& cousins), so he signed me up for the Childrens-Book-of-The-Month club. We’d get a catalog in the post, & we would select up to three books each month. I was a slow reader (reading was so boring for me back then), but my dad could read at least two books every month.

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I distinctly remember reading Harriet The Spy as one of my most treasured childhood memories. This book really shaped my life as an observer of the world, & as a writer. This book was also one of the first Young Adult genre books I ever read in full. I never really had the motivation (or attention span) to read books longer than 50 pages when I was a kid, but this was the first fairly lengthy book I remember reading when I was a kid & really getting swept away by the story.

When I was a young tweenager, I was obsessed with the title character Harriet M. Welsch from the book. (I was not a fan of the 1996 movie at all.) First off, I was so jealous that she lived in such a vibrant city, & her parents let her roam around town unsupervised. I had a couple of close friends that lived on the same street as I did growing up, & my parents wouldn’t let me even walk to their house without asking them. I could not believe this little girl named Harriet was able to galavant around the city all by herself & never got in trouble for it.

I loved Harriet’s curiosity towards everything in life & was always asking questions. My favorite part about this title character was her passion for writing. I feel like her passion for writing inspired my own passion for writing. For a short period of time (let’s just call it a phase in my life, for lack of a better word), I tried to copy &/or imitate this book character. I wore baggy sweatshirts with jeans. I tried to carry a flashlight in my school backpack (but it was a total waste of much needed space). Most importantly, I tried to follow what Harriet had been diligently doing for as long as she could remember: Write. Down. Everything. I tried writing the observations of the environment around me, but things got too frantic, & I couldn’t focus on what to write about. So, I stopped writing observations & transitioned into writing journal entries. I had a couple of Sanrio-themed childrens diaries lying around with pages begging to be filled with my pre-teenage nonsense.

There was one line however I would not cross, one trait that I would not imitate. Under no circumstances would I ever, in my life, eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich. At that age, I absolutely despised tomatoes. More recently, I have grown to accept eating tomatoes. If they’re in a salad, a hamburger, or in a sauce, I am willing to eat it, but tomoatoes are still not my favorite fruit. That’s where the character Harriet M. Welsch will always differ. There is no way I will ever eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich, ever.


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I don’t know where I got these books, if I chose them from the monthly book subscription, or if someone gifted them to me. All I can remember about reading this series of books as a child was how much of a sense of wonder & imagination these stories brought to life. I would often study the illustrations in the books in great detail, trying to examine every nook & cranny of all the animals’ houses. There was just such vibrant detail in the visual depictions of all the scenes. Oh, & the food illustrations made my mouth water!

I’m not a big fan of mice, but the mice in Jill Barklem’s books are just too adorable to resist. When I was a child reading these books, I would get so immersed in my own wild imagination. I would daydream that I was living in a treehouse just like the ones depicted in all of the books. The stories were so much fun to read, & I would become so engrossed in them that I could also imagine that I was in the story along with all of the woodland animals.

I was sad to learn that, one day, when my parents were cleaning out the storage closet, they found this set of books, but one of the seasons was missing. No matter how hard we searched, we could not find the last book to complete the set. Also, the pages had been severely yellowed & water damaged, so I was not able to salvage this set of books that I cherished so much as a child.


I grouped these two books together even though I hadn’t read them at the same time. These two books are a few of my most memorable & favorite books. They’re not pop-up books, but they are highly interactive. Even as a young child, when I read these books, I was extremely careful when turning the pages & playing with the interactive sections of the books.

I absolutely love the Jolly Postman & his heartwarming story about delivering fun mail all over town, riding his trusty red bicycle. It’s also fun to read about the classic children’s story book characters every child grew up reading at bedtime, recognizing each of the characters as you turn the pages. My most favorite part of these interactive books were the envelopes inside each page. You can open the pocket of each envelope & find a wonderful interactive surprise inside like: a Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle, a letter from Goldilocks to the Three Bears, or a Red Riding Hood board game.

Even though I’ve grown considerably older since I first acquired these lovely books, I still take them out of the closet every now & again, & browse through the pages. These books will never go out of style, & they are still fun to read no matter what age you are. At one point during Christmastime, I was tempted to gift these books to my young nephew & niece, but they are quite rough & careless with their belongings (especially children’s books), so I decided to squirrel them away & keep them for myself. I am so happy that I’ve kept these books for all these years because they bring me such joy.


Well, this is the end of it, my list of favorite childhood books. It took me nearly “forever & a day” (metaphorically speaking) to finish this blog post. So much has gone on in my personal life since I first began writing this post that I had to put this entire blog on the backburner for quite some time. Now I’m back & ready to resume my writing. Until the next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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darling-def

I recently read a book where one of the main characters was British. It made me swoon every time I heard this gent use this word “dahh-ling” as a term of endearment toward the person he loves. During my brief time spent in London, I was hoping I’d hear this word being used by a local Londoner, somebody, anybody…but alas, I was unsuccessful on that front. I’d still like to hear this absolutely adorable word being spoken by a Brit in person, rather than on TV or in a movie.

So, this word is my chosen favorite word at the moment. Whenever I hear/read this word, I can’t help but think of actress Zsa-Zsa Gabor. I just loved it every time I heard her say this word on the popular classic TV show Green Acres. When I was a kid, I used to watch repeats of Green Acres (as well as many other “oldies”) on the Nick-At-Nite channel, where they’d always show re-runs of classic TV shows from the 50s, 60s, & 70s.

I don’t know why I was so drawn to watching these older TV shows, but I just loved Zsa-Zsa Gabor & her sister Eva Gabor. Those two actresses somehow reminded me of my maternal grandmother…all of them done up in their finest clothes, with their hair perfectly coiffed, all while wearing their best jewels. Also, the theme song to the Green Acres show pretty much summed up my parents’ relationship in one catchy theme song. My mom loved to live the big city life wearing fashionable clothes & her best jewelry, while my dad liked to get down & dirty in the garden. My dad, having spent many years living in Texas, admired farm/ranch living. He could never really live on a farm or ranch himself, but he always dreamed of it. You know, my dad always loved the cowboy way of life. My mom on the other hand, was a city girl that didn’t really love the outdoors, but she tolerated it for the sake of my dad. So this show kind of reminded me of my parents a little bit, but the main actress reminded me a lot of my grandmother.

I just adored the way Zsa-Zsa Gabor would say the word “darling“…as in DAAHHH-LIIING, with a dreamy European accent. As a little kid, I would practice saying this word while looking in the mirror, hoping no one would catch me doing something so silly. To this very day, this word makes my heart flutter. It’s so incredibly romantic & sweet. I feel like I want to incorporate more British slang terms & vocabulary words into my own English vocabulary. I don’t want to come off as a cheesy Anglophile, but I think it would be kind of fun to mix things up a little. I think I might start by using the word “darling” more in my vocabulary. Well, until then, cheers mates!

P.S. I’m going to Los Angeles to see The Killers in concert at the Staples Center! But before that, I’m going to another concert in one week to see Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats along with Kings of LeonWoah.

Today’s song of the day:

Hey! Should I be this happy/relieved that I didn’t get sick until after my trip to Asia? I don’t know. Well, I’m very much relieved that I didn’t get sick at all during my trip to Asia, but I did, however, get a cold & a fever when I got back home. My body just can’t adjust to the rapid climate change fast enough. It was super hot in China, then coming home, it was quite chilly, & that sent my body’s immune system into a tailspin, which resulted in myself catching a cold that became compounded with a small fever. I am now at 87% recovery, if you can claim regaining an appetite for Taco Bell fast food burritos to be a sign of good health. But hey, at least I’m back to the point where I can sit up long enough to write this blog post & not feel like the room is swaying, or like I want to physically recall what I ate for lunch. Yuck! Anyway, let’s get on with it then.

One thing I love to do whenever I travel to Asia is to stock up on a ton of stationery goods that would usually be imported, over-priced, & expensive back in The States. This is especially & exceptionally true whenever I go back to Japan (because everything made in Japan is so damn cute & resistance is futile). So, needless to say, I pretty much gorged myself silly while I was in Hong Kong & Guangzhou on stationery goods, as well as a bunch of souvenirs for friends & family. Did I ever mention to you that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE GIVING GIFTS??? Yes, I love to give presents to friends & family even when it’s not any special occasion. Hey, I can give as well as I can take…but I like to give more. Ok, I’m going to jump right into the thick of things & just post my G*d D*mn photos already.

hk stationery haul

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Pens

I am a Zebra Sarasa Gel Pen addict & fanatic, especially of the 0.5mm tip sized pens. I think I have nearly one of each color in the entire pen line. When I first saw the “pastel milk” series of pens at my favorite online pen shop, I nearly creamed my pants. I was tempted to buy every single pen right then & there, but ultimately decided to wait. However, when I finally saw these pens in Hong Kong, I could no longer resist them. I saw these pens at the popular bookstore chain JP Books (by Joint Publishing Hong Kong) near my hotel, so I grabbed every color I could get my grubby little hands on. Since they didn’t have the entire pastel milk series of colors on hand, these are the colors I chose:

  1. Yellow (not part of the color series)
  2. Milk White
  3. Milk Pink
  4. Milk Orange
  5. Milk Green
  6. Milk Red

Aaaannnd…do you know what’s the best part? The bookstore was having a “buy three gel pens get one free” event that day! Now, you know I won’t pass up that offer. However, here’s the catch: the “free pens” only come in black ink. You don’t get to choose your own “free pen”. These are the free pens I ended up picking:

hk stationery haul1

I also have a passion for washi tape. My storage box that I keep all my tapes in, which I named Pierre, is now full to the point of nearly bursting. The same goes for my pen box, which is named Leroy. Leroy got so full, I had to take away some unused & unwanted pens to make room for my new additions. Now, I’m not saying that I’m exactly a stationery hoarder, but I’m getting there. I’d much rather say that I’m an avid collector.

hk gz stationery haul

washi tapes

Some of the washi tapes I got at JP Books in Hong Kong. Others I got at a different bookstore called Eslite Bookstore in Hong Kong. The rest of them I got at a third bookstore called “方所书店” (a.k.a. Fang Suo / a.k.a. Commune) in Guangzhou. These are the designs I chose:

  1. London print
  2. Pink cherry blossoms
  3. Metallic gold Japanese geometric pattern (this metallic color is more bronze)
  4. Blue & Red plaid pattern (this pattern is a comedic parody to the cheap plastic woven shopping bags popular in Hong Kong)
  5. Metallic gold with white pin-stripes (this metallic color is more yellow-gold)
hk stationery haul3

Sanrio washi tapes

I should also note that I am a Sanrio fanatic (more accurately, a “purist” fan). I’ve been an avid fan & collector of Sanrio goods since the early 1980s. My sister’s biological father used to manufacture goods for Sanrio, so my sister would get a lot of free goodies from her dad when she was younger. As she grew older, she would pass down a lot of her unwanted stuff to me, which I cherished greatly. Also, I would get a lot of cool & unique Sanrio gifts from all of my aunties & uncles from Japan, which turned me into an instant fanatic. So, obviously when I saw these washi tapes, I snatched them up immediately. Ok, I’ve seen these tape designs in the U.S., but they’ve always been too expensively priced, so when I saw how affordable they were in Hong Kong, I bought them right away. These were the designs I chose:

  1. Sanrio characters with a vintage stamp pattern
  2. Timeline of Hello Kitty designs
  3. Hello Kitty’s family & friends pattern

I saw one roll of tape with a pattern of Hello Kitty faces in a neon colored artsy avant garde design, but I didn’t get it because I thought it looked too weird, & I probably wouldn’t use it in any of my DIY craft projects. I am a purist Hello Kitty fan at heart, & I covet the very traditional Hello Kitty style from the 1980s & 1990s, NOT the new, modern designs of Hello Kitty wearing rocker clothes or wearing “nerdy” glasses.

On top of pens & craft tape, I also got a few greeting cards. I love the unique designs of greeting cards from Asia. A lot of the cards will have intricate cut-paper patterns or a cool pop-up effect. Plus, they don’t cost much more than U.S. based Hallmark greeting cards. Most of the cards I chose were birthday cards, since those are the category I tend to use the most. I also got my friend a “new baby” card, since he became a new dad two months ago. These are the birthday cards I chose:

hk cards collage

birthday greeting cards

How could I write a stationery blog post without including the most important item of all? S-T-I-C-K-E-R-S! Yes, folks! I bought even more stickers. My sticker box, Trevor, is almost bursting at the seams as well, & he is already huge! Jian says I have a sticker problem, but I think buying more stickers is a great solution to my problem. These are the stickers I chose:

hk stationery haul2

my sticker hoarding continues

  1. Motor scooters
  2. Chocolate bars (this sticker has some metallic elements)
  3. Sail boats (actual stickers are primary colors, not neon colors)
  4. Pink cherry blossoms with cats
  5. Tea cups, saucers, & plates (this sticker has some metallic elements)
  6. Korean lovely bear
  7. Shiba Inu & Japanese theme
  8. Miscellaneous animals
  9. Metallic schedule stickers with borders, frames, gems & ribbons
  10. Schedule stickers for the calendar
  11. Metallic seal stickers with message: Especially For You

When I was in Guangzhou, Jian took me to the modern art museum that recently opened. It was beautiful, & we learned quite a bit of history about the city. I originally had no intention of buying anything from the gift shop, but Jian encouraged me to buy these fun name stamps. Of course, he just wanted me to buy the stamp pad with his name, but I ended up getting more than just that. These stamps are cool because you can pick whichever stamp base you’d like, & all of the stamp pads can be interchanged. (They were also cheap as hell & extremely kitschy, so why not?) I chose these stamp bases & stamp pads:

gz stationery haul

staaaaamps!

  1. Limited edition “Year of the Monkey” base
  2. Asian girl (which coincidentally resembles the Korean cartoon character Pucca)
gz stationery haul1

If you can read Chinese characters, congratulations! You’ve figured out our names. 😐

  1. Jian’s surname
  2. Year of the Monkey (this came with the monkey base)
  3. My mom’s maiden name (got this for my mom, just for fun)
  4. My surname (or is it? Mwahaha!)

We are getting towards the end of this blog post. No, wait! I have one more thing to show you. Well, it’s not exactly stationery related. Actually, it has nothing to do with stationery at all, but I thought I’d include it in this post because, a. it’s a part of all the crap stuff I brought back, & b. it won’t fit anywhere else. Now, I normally don’t post anything about beauty or makeup, but I recently found out that one of my all-time favorite Japanese brands MUJI now carries their own beauty & makeup products. I only picked out three things to start because I don’t normally wear makeup, but I wanted to try them out. In the U.S., most, if not all, of our MUJI shops do not carry the full line of cosmetics (nor do they carry the awesome line of food products & groceries made by MUJI). These were the items I chose to try out:

hk muji mini haul

Me so pretty!

So far, I’ve only tried the cuticle oil & the nail care oil, & I must say that I am in love with them! They work really well, & none of these products were even wallet draining. If the lip gloss works just as well as the other beauty products, then I’m so glad I took a chance to try these items. For those of you who don’t know what the first two items are, 1. cuticle oil is supposed to moisturize the skin around your finger nails to prevent unwanted dryness & peeling, which makes the hands look sloppy & unkempt, & 2. nail care oil often gives your finger nails a healthy looking shine & is supposed to strengthen your nails to prevent brittleness & chipping. Of course everybody knows what lip gloss is used for. It’s for you to eat. No. It’s for kissing. No. It’s makeup. Duh.

Well, that concludes the end of this long-winded blog post about stationery. I still have to post my pictures from my trip, but I am still sorting through all of them, & I’m editing the photos Jian has shared with me, so that’s going to take a while. Plus, I’m still getting over the last remnants of my recent illness. I promise you, my immune system is not as weak as I make it seem. I am a healthy person, & haven’t gotten ill this many times in a rather long stretch of years. I just don’t know why I’ve been prone to getting ill so easily in the more recent months. I’ve been taking good care of my body & myself, & I will continue to do so. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

 

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