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Today it’s raining pretty heavily (& steadily, I might add). It’s a perfect day to sit down with a big cup of coffee & hammer out a blog post. So, guess what I did before I went to Taipei? Well, while Jian was busy looking up all the different places we could stop to have food &/or cocktails, I was busy researching various stationery shops I could visit to grab some supplies for my ever-growing horde of arts & crafts supplies. I love getting stationery & craft supplies whenever I visit Asia. I find them more functional & cuter (& sometimes more affordable) than the stuff you can find in the States.

Man, I think I’ve already talked about this a couple of times before, but it’s so much more affordable to go on a stationery spree in Asia & bring back my haul than to buy all of the same stuff on the internet or at an import stationery shop here in the States. For example, if I want to buy a sheet of stickers, they’re usually marked up $1 to $2 dollars more than if I just wait to go back & visit family back in Asia. As much as I make it seem, I don’t actually travel back to Asia very often. So, I don’t really make big hauls like this that often. I try to keep the things I choose very functional & practical. I tell myself over & over to only choose the things I absolutely need, but sometimes I don’t listen to myself, & I end up purchasing a few frivolous items as well.

So, are you sitting down? Do you have time to read this ridiculous post? You might want to grab a comfy chair & something to drink. With my ability to go on & on & on, you’ll probably be here a while.

Let me start this off with Paddington Bear. I’ve loved this little illustrated, Britt-y bear ever since I was a young child. If you’ve seen my Instagram feed, then you’ve probably seen my stuffed Paddington doll. I used to love watching the children’s program on the PBS channel & reading the books. I don’t know the exact story as to how I came to possess this delightful bear, but I believe my brother brought it back as a souvenir for me when he took a trip to London. I’ve always cherished this bear & took gentle care of it. It’s because of this furry Brit that I’ve grown to love orange marmalade & baths. I also love London!

I love collecting postcards. I’ve probably got over 300 that I’ve collected since I was a teenager. These two were kind of one of those frivolous purchases. I know I don’t actually need them, but I couldn’t resist getting them when the graphics on the front include two of my favorite themes: Paddington & London. Each of these postcards cost $1.50 USD, so I didn’t feel to guilty “splurging” on them.

I love writing myself notes & reminders on paper. I find it so much more practical than setting a reminder or calendar alert on my smartphone because for one thing, I tend to neglect regularly checking my phone for notifications. Also, I can’t press the “snooze button” on a paper note. I can tape these notes anywhere they’d be most visible (& hard to ignore), like on my bathroom mirror, or on top of my car keys.

I have a lot of little generic blank notepads & Post-It ™ pads, but what could be cuter than a Paddington Bear themed notepad?? Shinzi Katoh is one of my favorite illustrators, & I love all of his products, but those products are so incredibly expensive to buy where I live. Don’t even get me started on buy this stuff on the internet. The prices are usually double the retail price. This notepad only cost me $3 bucks, & its got lots of pages, so it’s well worth the effort to get it.

Oh my gahhh, what is this hole I’ve dug myself into with these cute-as-cuss hand towels?!?! I think I swore up & down last time that I wouldn’t add to my pile of hand towels, but I was lying (mostly to myself). How do you expect me to resist this cuddly brown bear? And beefeaters? And Union Jack flags? Annnd Paddington’s suitcase filled with jars of delicious marmalade?! Well, this guy came home with me anyway. I love this & cannot wait to use it.

November is calendar & planner/diary/journal season in Asia. Every bookstore &/or stationery shop will have at least two shelves stocked floor-to-ceiling with these guys. I love buying calendars in Asia mostly because of the variety of functionality, sizes, shapes, & themes. Paper calendars are my favorite way to write down important dates & upcoming appointments. It helps keep my life organized in a fun way. Plus, I love decorating them with stickers & my poor attempts at drawing.

The best part about Asian calendars are the large squares in which you can write things down. It really irks me when a calendar page has a large graphic that takes up ¾ of the page & the actual dates are written in small letters at the bottom. I like calendars with larger spaces for you to write things down. This calendar has a quirky theme of polar bears, penguins, & panda bears doing random everyday things. My favorite part of this calendar is how clear & concise the numbers & months are written.

Ok, so this calendar is not exactly mine. I know what I just said about these types of calendars, but this calendar is not for writing down information. This is just a generic calendar that will be placed in a common space in our home, mostly to accommodate my mom. My mom is always occupying our common space, & she’s always grabbing the calendar to look at dates. I always put a calendar every year in this common space for my mom to use. It’s become a fun tradition that I get her a new viewing calendar every year. She likes to wait & see what designs I get each year.

I got this calendar at a new home goods shop that recently opened in Taipei called Niko And… . This shop was so fun to explore. We got there right when they first opened, & it’s such an inviting store. One-third of the store is a craft coffee shop brewing fresh pour-over coffees & espresso drinks with delicious fresh baked pastries. The other third of the store is dedicated to young men’s & women’s fast fashion. The last third of the store was all housewares & miscellaneous goods. That’s where I got this mini calendar. Jian helped me pick this out. He liked the colorful illustrations of everyday objects.

I got this Snoopy calendar for the home office desk where the family PC resides. My family & I are big time Peanuts fans (maybe we’re Snoopy-philes), so I thought this would be cute on our shared workspace. There were a few Snoopy calendar choices, but I chose this one because it looked the least busy, yet still colorful & whimsical. I also went for the large squares style, so we could all write shared family events & appointments if we wanted to. You know, on an unrelated note, I always wanted a beagle dog when I was a kid. I specifically wanted a white one with black ears & a black patch on the rump, but I heard those breeds of beagles don’t exist, so…we don’t have a dog.

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I’m trying to learn how to stamp. I go to the arts & crafts store Paper Source, & I get so envious when I see their handmade-by-the-staff greeting card samples. I always wished I could make a greeting card with stamps, but I could never get the stamp pattern/graphic to look straight, or get the letters to match up. Then, while I was browsing the shop Tools to Live By, I saw this stamp printing kit. I grabbed this kit, thinking that I could make a lot of envelope labels. (I don’t like my sloppy handwriting anyway.) I don’t think you can clearly see in my photo, but this kit comes with both sets of Uppercase & Lowercase alphabet letters, as well as numbers & basic punctuation marks. I’m so relieved that this stamp comes with various plates as guides, which make it so much easier to stamp words in a straight line. I can’t wait to use this kit on future correspondence!

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This is not quite a stationery related item, but I did get it at the stationery store Plain Stationery & Homeware Café. It looks & feels quite generic & flimsy (being that it’s made of lightweight plastic), but it’s very practical & useful. After all, it is an emergency whistle. I used to have a generic metal coach’s whistle on my keychain that was given to me by my mom, but somehow I lost it. I’ve always thought that it is good to carry a whistle, so that I can signal someone (or make a loud noise/distraction) in case I get in a bad situation. I really like the sleek look of this whistle & how slim it is, so it fits perfectly on my keychain. Also, don’t underestimate this whistle. While it may look flimsy & small, it produces a nice loud sound when used.

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I love coffee themed stationery, & Tools to Live By had a ton of them. I tried to only choose the items I thought I would get the most use out of. One of those such items was this octagonal notepad. I love the minimalist design with a simple navy blue graphic on the cover. I especially love the phrase written on the cover, “Great ideas start with coffee”. I tend to agree with that statement, which is probably why I’m slightly addicted to coffee. As I’m writing this blog post, I’ve already started using this notepad. The paper has a nice weight & thickness to it. The sheets are thin, but not too thin that pen ink will bleed through. I tend to jot down a lot of little notes & numbers when I’m sitting at my computer, especially when I’m trying to copy or remember a color code to use on Photoshop. This is a great notepad for just such a use!

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Circling back to my blurb about stamping, I got these three miniature stamps. They’re so tiny it’ll probably be hard to see the image once it is stamped, but I’m determined to improve my stamping skills. I got these three stamps at Plain Stationery & Homeware Café, & when I saw them I had so many crafting ideas flowing through my thoughts. One idea I had was to use one of these stamps on the corner of an envelope or card & draw something around it. I still haven’t decided how I’m going to use these stamps yet, but I’m excited to try them out.

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Let’s get to the meat of the haul…the stickers. First off, these are three random decals I got from various places (listed in the photo). The first two decals (the holographic decal from United Arrows & Sons & the angry Donald Duck decal from Faith) were free. The round decal with the campfire only cost me $0.75 cents USD, & I got that one at Niko And… . I’ve already started using these stickers & have plastered them all over my belongings. One of these decals I’ve already affixed to my beloved crafting box that I’ve named Trevor. What can I say? I like to put stickers & labels all over my personal objects.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say once again that I’m not particularly fond of flake stickers (a.k.a. individually die cut stickers). They’re often too small & thin, & it’s hard to peel off the backing. However, I found two sets of flake stickers that I thought  were too cool to pass up. I have a set of stickers on my phone’s photo editing app that’s of random middle-aged men working out & doing various weird athletic poses. It’s called Middle-Aged Sports Club. Those stickers are so hilarious to use every time I’m editing a photo for Instagram. These flake stickers totally reminded me of those guys on my app. It cracks me up every time I look at them. I also love how each guy has a random name. Even thinking about it now makes me chuckle.

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One of my favorite Japanese foods is お握り(a.k.a. rice balls). My aunts back in Japan make the best rice balls I’ve ever eaten. They’re able to make the rice so fluffy & delicious. I’ve made rice balls on my own before for my mom’s friends, & I was quite proud of them, especially since they all said they really enjoyed them.

I saw these flake stickers of various rice balls, & I fell in love with them. I’m kind of disappointed that the pickled radishes, though, look like rolls of gold coins. They’re supposed to be lines of sliced pickled radishes (& yes, the radishes are a bright yellow color when they’re pickled). My dad loved pickled radishes, but I don’t particularly like them. However, like my dad, I do enjoy the pickled plum..but only when they’re mixed with rice. Alone, pickled plums can be too sour for my taste, so I like eating them in rice balls to cut down the sour taste. On another note, the steam pots of rice don’t look like what they’re supposed to be unless you really look at them closely. The wooden rice paddles look like deflated khaki balloons. I think my favorite sticker out of the whole set is the rice bowl. I particularly love the raw egg at the top of the rice. It’s so cute!

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I’m terrible at keeping promises to myself. I said that I wouldn’t buy any more washi tape, but I ended up getting more. Oh my cuss, I have to tell you something about washi tape. In Taipei, washi tape is so popular. They’re at every bookstore & stationery store. When I visited Eslite Bookstore’s flagship store, there was a whole room on one floor dedicated to only washi tape in various sizes, patterns, & every color imaginable. There’s even tape sizes large enough to be used as gift wrapping paper. I was so overwhelmed at all the varieties of washi tape, & I was determined at the start of my trip to not cave in, but once those happy endorphins start coursing through your body, you can’t help but feel very itchy to grab all the cute things you see & plop them in your shopping basket.

As you may recall, I said earlier that I love coffee related stationery, so when I was atTools to Live By, I picked up these two washi tapes that were exclusively designed by the shop. I thought I might not be able to get these patterns of washi tape anywhere else (online or otherwise), so I snapped them up without even giving it a second thought. When I saw the fruits & veggies washi tape, at first I thought the pattern was rosette flowers with lose leaves. It wasn’t until I actually started using the tape (yes, I’ve already used it) when I finally noticed the pattern. As for the roses with stripes, I just loved the vibrant colors. Most of the washi tapes I have are solid colors with no patterns, so this one seemed like a good choice to round out my selection of paper tapes.

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I also hauled a bunch of sticker sheets from various stationery stores all over Taipei. Since I got new calendars I wanted to get stickers I could use on my calendar, like labels & infographics. I like adding sticker details on my calendars to fill up the blank squares, & to make my upcoming appointments look at least somewhat appealing.

As for the two sets of neon animal stickers, I don’t know exactly why I chose them. It’s like the “shiny nickel” effect happening here. When you’re on your way to do something specific, but you see a shiny nickel off on the side & divert your attention to go after the nickel. That’s what happened here. I was looking at one section of the store when these guys came into view. Thus my attention was averted, & I ended up bringing them home with me.

One of my favorite illustrated characters from the San-X brand is the adorable sock-wearing black kitten Kutsusitanyanko. Whenever I see a new set of Kutusitanyanko stickers, I get them. This is probably my favorite set of stickers out of the bunch. In my paper crafting projects, I probably use my Kutusitanyanko stickers the most.

Finally, I got a sheet of Mount Fuji stickers. Every time I see a set of Mt. Fuji stickers, I always waffle on whether to buy them or not. This time, I decided to get a sheet once & for all. When I look at them, I am reminded so much of my dad, who used to hike up the trailways of Mt. Fuji in Japan with his Boy Scout/Eagle Scout troop. My dad was the troop leader of his Eagle Scout troop, & they often hiked up Mt. Fuji & camping around the area. My dad used to tell me lots of stories when I was a kid about his hikes up Mt. Fuji with his troop, & those stories have stayed vividly in my mind even until today. Oh man, I love to hear all of the adventures my dad went on when he was living in Japan.

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I love getting birthday cards & random greeting cards in Asia. The varieties are endless, & the designs are much cuter than anything at Hallmark. Plus, they’re sometimes cheaper. Well, I know the pop-up cards are cheaper. Most of the pop-up cards here in the U.S. can cost anywhere between $6 to $10 USD for one. These two pop-up birthday cards I bought in Taipei only cost me $7 USD for both.

Whenever I travel back to Asia (as in Japan), I like to stock up on all sorts of greeting cards & share them with my mom. We have a large family with lots of birthdays throughout the year, & we both have lots of activities on our schedules that might require a nice card for the host(ess). I’ve already used one of the cards from this stack (I used the coffee card to send to a friend). That shows you how often I use greeting cards.

…And here is my pièce de résistance. I always look for new pen styles & ink colors when I go stationery shopping in Asia. I mostly look for styles & colors that are hard to find back at home. For example, 4 years ago (the last time I visited Tokyo), was the first time I saw the Pilot Frixion Ball Gel Ink pens. I bought a few of the pens along with the ink refills. I didn’t see this series of pen in the U.S. until 2 years after I had already bought my pens.

This series of pens that I bought (shown in the photo above), the Zebra Sarasa Gel Ink Clip, is pretty common. You can easily buy them online or at the import stationery shop, & they’re approximately the same price everywhere. However, when I go overseas I try to look for the limited edition colors or sets (like the Kumamon &/or Japanese Culture sets shown in my photo). I saw these pastel colors & could not resist them. I don’t see these colors very often in the stationery shops where I live, so if I see them elsewhere, I will snap them up quickly.

This will probably be the last of the Zebra Sarasa pens that I will buy for a long time. However, I’ll definitely get more ink refills. This series of pen is my favorite, so far, to write with. The pens come in various thicknesses from super thin (0.3mm) to heavy thickness (1.0mm), but the best part is that even if you use the super thin pen, the tip will not scratch or tear the paper. Also the ink does not bleed through, & the gel ink writes smoothly without patchiness or blotchy ink spots.

Well, this pretty much concludes my stationery haul post. That was as long for me to write as it was for you guys to read. I hope I made some sort of sense somehow. I tend to over explain sometimes, & Jian says I use too many examples to explain something simple. Like I’ve mentioned before, if you want to see more photos & get real-time updates on all my travels & adventures, you can follow my Instagram feed. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Brick Yellow” by BLAZO

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It’s that time again for me to show you another collection of mine. OK, I swear I’m not a hoarder. My house isn’t filled from floor-to-ceiling with boxes & mounds of junk. I’ve got carefully curated collections of hand-selected knick-knacks that have some sort of special meaning or purpose in my life. So far, I’ve pretty much shown you my collection of handkerchiefs & hand towels, & in one of my earliest blog posts on this site, I’ve shown you my box of miscellaneous pens, my XL sized box of stickers, & my box of miscellaneous letter sets. One might think I have a problem with letting go of things I don’t use, like I’m overly sentimental regarding personal objects, but I don’t care. I’m a proud collector of the things that I genuinely have interests in.

In this latest installment of my hoarding denial collection cataloging, let me introduce you to my pin/badge/brooch collection. There have been many pins & brooches that have come & gone over the years, but these are the current pins that I’ve kept in my collection.

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  1. I love this victory pin. This is probably my most used emoji on my smartphone, so I was very excited to get this in a pin form. I also love that this pin could also be the “peace sign”.  So, it’s got multiple meanings.
  2. I don’t usually say the word “legit”, but I stil lthought this was a cool pin. I like how it’s written in cursive, & it sounds like very Cali-casual vocabulary.
  3. I saw this large felt pin at LofT in Osaka & immediately fell in love with it. I love the cute characters acting as boyfriend & girlfriend. This pin was supposed to promote a popular webcomic turned into a fictional novel. However, I can’t remember the name of it or what it was about. I just thought this couple was too cute to pass up.
  4. I am a big fan of Nathaniel Rateliff & his music. I am especially a fan of his band Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. I love their southern, bluesy, alternative-y rock music. They kind of remind me of The Black Keys, which is another rock band I’m a big fan of. I got this pin to commemorate the first time I watched Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats live in concert (just last month).
  5. I haven’t really mentioned this on this blog, but I’ve mentioned it on many ocassions on my Instagram feed. I am a big fan of whisk(e)y & whisk(e)y based cocktails. Yes, I have been known to imbibe a cocktail or two (or three) on the weekends with my friends, & I’ve been known to knock back a few whiskey old fashioneds. I saw this pin at a craft spirits shop, & I had to get it…just for fun.
  6. I attended my first “nerdy” convention, the ID10T Conival hosted by Chris Hardwick (of @midnight The Talking Dead fame). There was a booth there selling pearler bead pins, & these two pins caught my eye right away. I’ve played the Professor Layton puzzle games on the Nintendo DS, & they were fun. I really loved the graphic design/artwork of the Layton video games, so I got these pins to honor the artwork.

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Ever since my first inaugural trip to the fine city of Portland, Oregon I’ve fallen in love with this ice creamery called Salt & Straw. When they decided to open up a location in my town, I was ecstatic. I bought a set of these pins to not only show my love for ice cream, but also for my admiration for this ice creamery.

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Seven years ago I visited the Ghibli Museum in Japan with my friends. We got to watch a short film called Mr. Dough & the Egg Princess. This short film really touched my heart & made me tear up a little bit. I loved the hero character Mr. Dough, but my favorite characters were the royal egg family. The egg princess was so cute. Basically this is the story of a tiny egg-girl who is forced to serve the evil witch, but after a blob of Dough comes to life, she befriends him & both escape from the witch’s home & set off to see the world. This was such a heartwarming story, so I got this set of king & queen egg pins as a little memento of my time spent at the Ghibli Museum, but also because I wanted to get a his & hers pin set for Jian & myself.

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These pins are so random, & I don’t even know why I kept them for so long. When I attended my first Comic Con in San Diego back in 2011, I was so naïve. I grabbed every little freebie & complimentary swag that was being offered. I was taking all of the free posters & pins without even caring what it was about. I picked up the first two pins without even caring what they were. The third pin I got for attending Conan O’Brien‘s special art gallery event for his made up comic book hero called The Flaming C. I got the last pin in Los Angeles when I shopped at the store called General Quarters. The shop attendant let me take this last pin for free after I bought a really awesome eucalyptus candle. I don’t really have anything interesting to say about these pins. They’re so boring & random.

There are two urban streetwear brands from Japan that both Jian & I have been huge fans of since their early days of tiny shops in the back streets of the hip Harajuku neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo. Man, we’ve been loyal supporters & big fans of these brands since the early 2000’s.

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The first brand (which is showcased in the pins above) is called WTaps, a very military inspired brand. The founder of this brand, Tetsu Nishiyama, is a fan of militaria & military history. His brand has branched out from clothing to lifestyle products (like camping equipment & incense burners). Jian & I both love this brand, not really for the military theme, well yes, that, but also because the quality of their products are so amazing & last throughout all the changes of fashion & trends. We’ve each got at least a dozen t-shirts &/or jeans from this brand that have survived countless washing machine beatings over the past 10 years, & they still look nearly as good as the day we bought them. As you can see above, with the exception to the Vespa inspired pin on the far right & the vinyl record symbol on the bottom left, most of these pins are extremely military inspired.

 

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This is the second Japanese streetwear brand I was talking about earlier, NEIGHBORHOOD (a.k.a. NBHD). This brand is also part clothing, part lifestyle products. This brand is more motorcycle/biker inspired, since the founder/creative director of this brand, Shinsuke Takizawa, is an extreme enthusiast of classic & vintage motorcycles (i.e. Triumph, Harley-Davidson, etc.). He even has his own extensive collection of motorcycles, & he displays some of his personal motorcycles at each of his retail shops within Japan. Shinsuke also restores his own motorcycles in his collection.

Both of these two brands (WTapsNBHD) mentioned here are very technical in style & practicality. The quality of their clothing is so good that a lot of the items we’ve purchased over the years have withstood the test of time & repeated washings, & let me tell you that I don’t always treat these clothes delicately. I’m not going out & buying expensive frou-frou detergent for delicate fabrics. I’m only using regular everyday detergent (& sometimes a spray-on stain remover) & an unforgiving washer/dryer set from the late 1990s.

A lot of the clothing Jian & I both buy from these brands have lasted so long, that now we don’t really get the chance to buy as many new clothing pieces. Now we have branched out into getting more of the lifestyle items, like their coffee mugs, incense holders, floor rugs, & other miscellaneous practical items. We used to collect pins from each of these brands every time they would design new sets for the upcoming fashion seasons, but now, we treasure these oldies but goodies which are extremely hard to find now-a-days.

 

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These next set of pins are what I would put in the “just for fun” category. The first two pins are from my & Jian’s best friends. They went to San Diego Comic Con earlier this year (as they do each & every year without fail), & they purposely waited in the long queue at the Peanuts booth to gobble up all of the limited edition Comic Con exclusive products. As a small souvenir, they got us these two pins. (They also got me a Comic Con exclusive Outlander bandana/handkerchief, much to the outwardly-shown ire of many middle-aged Diana Gabaldon/Sam Heughan/Outlander TV show fans, to which I am extremely grateful & thankful to my friends.)

The next pin is a boombox, which I thought could be a cool symbol of the fact that I was born in the 80s decade, & I am a huge music lover. The fourth pin is one that I purchased at a pop-up art gallery for British pop artist Pete McKee. I loved all of his artwork, but wasn’t sure how I’d be able to pack a poster or framed art piece in my suitcase, & I didn’t want to figure out how to pack & ship these items back to my house, so I ended up getting a small enamel pin to commemorate my lovely time in London & to honour all of the phenomenal & eye-opening art I discovered there. I also thought this retro couple riding a Vespa scooter together was very romantic, & that was another reason why I chose this pin.

The fifth & sixth pins are ones I bought in two different stores, but they both carry the same reference. They’re both references to my late-blooming passion & appreciation for cocktails. I never snuck alcohol with my friends when I was a teenager, & I didn’t have much of an interest in drinking when I turned 21 either. It wasn’t until my late twenties when I finally succumbed to my own self-pressure & taught myself how to properly drink alcohol…properly as in learing my limits & trying not to embarrass myself too much. I chose the first of the two pins for its sheer cuteness. I loved the pastel colors & the little cocktail umbrella garnish. I especially loved the phrase “Drink Up” on the bottom of the glass. I’m only a little disappointed that the writing is so small, you’d have to look very closely to be able to read it. The second pin I got because I like to drink Negroni cocktails, but it’s also to commemorate the recently popular event called “Negroni Week” a week-long celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails & an effort to raise money for charities around the world. A few of my close friends work at or own bars in my city, so to honor them & their industry, & to promote charity giving, I wanted to wear this Negroni pin in celebration of a good cause.

The last two pins are sort of a tributary nod to my dad & his background. My dad is from Japan (born & raised), so he has a fine appreciation for sakè. I don’t particularly enjoy drinking sakè, but 99.99% of my family (both maternal & paternal) loves this stuff, especially all of my extended family back in Japan (obviously). So, I got this pin to honor the Japan side of my family.

As for the baseball pin, don’t get upset, but I’m not actually a fan of the San Francisco Giants team. Then why did I get this pin, you ask? Well, at the time, it was during the height of the 2010 World Series, & the Giants were the fan favorites to win the pennant. Almost all of my friends are huge fans of this team, & they’re not happy of the fact that I am a diehard Oakland Athletics fan. I’ve been a fan of the A’s team since birth…well, because whatever dad liked the family had to go along with it, but we did so gladly. I got this pin, mostly because I’m a big fan of baseball (over most other sports, except for European auto racing), & this pin was the most subtle & minimal of all the pins I saw in the sporting goods store. I could support my friends’ fandom of the Giants team & show my love of baseball. On top of that, my dad was such a huge fan of baseball. As a matter of fact, every male member of my dad’s side of the family, all the way down to my nephew’s generation, are all huge fans of this sport. Most of my uncles, including my own father, at one point had opportunities to play professional baseball in Japan. They’ve been playing baseball all throughout their school careers. My grandfather strictly forbade them from trying out for any major league teams, so none of them became professional baseball players in Japan. My dad, however, was able to go to college in America on a baseball scholarship, & he even played baseball for his college team in Texas. That just goes to show how deeply rooted my family is in their love of this sport. A lot of my cousins & nephews all played baseball in high school, & some of them have even won regional awards for their schools.

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This is the last set of pins I’m going to talk about. (I swear I’m rambling too much about nothing here.) I don’t know what propelled me to shop at an urban skateboard & overtly male streetwear shop, but I ended up getting this cool & childlike paper airplane pin anyway. I liked this pin as a nod to being like a kid again & making paper airplanes out of scrap construction paper. The second pin came from a time when I suddenly had an urge to dress more edgy & punk. I thought getting this pirate -slash- biker gang inspired crossbones pin would make me look super edgy & standoffishly cool. Now, I just look at it as a cool Halloween accessory. The very last (but not least) pin is very special to me. It’s a cool leather textured pin that I got in Japan at an iconic & legendary streetwear store that has long since been closed (circa 2010). I really enjoy listening to jazz music, & I thought this pin was so clever combining the trumpet into the word “jazz”. I also really liked the quality of the leather fabric & the metallic silver lettering. Every time I look at this pin, I am reminded of a nearly bygone era & fashion trend in Japan that is slowly fading away.

Most of the underground, legendary & iconic shops that once lined the behind-the-scenes back streets of the Harajuku district have slowly migrated towards the newly revived Shibuya district. Once a cutesy fashion hub for low-budget trendy high schoolers & teeny bopper tweens, Shibuya is slowly becoming the new hub for urban streetwear & avant garde fashion. The back streets of Harajuku, nicknamed Ura Hara, are fading quickly, & most of the iconic shops where you’d see queues lining out the door & wrapping around the street, are now closed. I’m not saying this area is becoming a ghost town, but it surely has lost a lot of its early 2000s charm. In its place are more hair salons, second-hand thrift stores, & consignment shops. Man, I miss the old days of Tokyo, where you’d see all the trendy kids in ghetto streetwear hanging out in the streets. Now all of those places have moved on to the internet or some other far flung neighborhood that’s not easy to get to. I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo & rediscover new places. Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“Everclear” (Foo Fighters cover song) by Matt Duncan

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like a kid again

So, I feel like ever since I came back from my very first trip to London, I have become obsessed with all things British. I might be turning into an Anglophile; I’m not sure. Well, I can say that I was an admirer of British things, people, & culture ever since I was a little kid, & that admiration has carried on into my adulthood. Also as an adult, I still carry that inner child within me, & that has also continued in my fandom for LEGOs.

I believe I may have already mentioned in a previous post (way back when) about my collection of LEGO Creator sets.

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I’ve already got the Tower Bridge & Big Ben sets as gifts from older brother on Christmas & my birthday. So, it was only fitting that I get the London Bus set when it went on pre-sale to all LEGO rewards card members.

 

I know it sounds ridiculous to call it a pre-sale-for-rewards-members-only when it was basically sitting on the store shelves for anyone to grab two cussing weeks ahead of it’s scheduled mass release date, but you know those marketing guys…They really know how to bait-&-hook gullible suckers customers like me. So, I basically ran into this set by sheer coincidence while I was window-shopping at the mall.

I guess Jian was doing some “bro-tastic” weekend event with his male co-workers, & I was left alone to my devices & decided to peruse the shopping mall unsupervised. I always have to make my rounds at the LEGO store even if they don’t have any new sets, & I caught this sparkling gem displayed in the store window. I walked into the store (about as calmly as a bull in a china shop), & grabbed the last box sitting on the shelf. The cashier promptly told me that this set was on pre-sale for rewards members only, but I figured anyone could grab it since it was sitting on a regular store shelf with no special sign or label.

What did I do next? Well, after I brought this set home, I proceeded to build it. It took me an entire weekend to build, as I would take breaks in between each numbered set of instructions.

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The bricks come in individually numbered bags according to the instruction book, which over the years have gone from thin, individual booklets, to one thick book about the same thickness as an old fashioned telephone directory. I usually separate all of the brick bags by number, & only work on one set of numbered bags per day.

I know for a more skilled LEGO set builder, this London Bus could’ve probably been completed in a few short hours, but I work very slowly, examining each piece to make sure I’m following the directions to the letter. That’s pretty much my lame excuse to cover up the fact that I’m not good at counting the dots on the bricks, & I’m crap at measuring short & long pieces. So, that pretty much slows me down immensely. Jian on the other hand, is so quick at building LEGO sets, & he has a good eye at measuring & counting the pieces. He could’ve probably built this set in one afternoon. I like to take my time to make sure I’m not making any mistakes. There have been quite a few times in other sets where I’ve made mistakes in measuring pieces & had to break off sections & re-do them.

It might take me a long time, but I don’t care. I get enjoyment & fulfillment in taking my sweet ass time. I will put on some relaxing jazz or chill-hop music, or whatever strikes my mood on Spotify, & then I will proceed to open up the little plastic baggies & empty out the contents on to paper plates or bowls. This helps me find pieces faster, so I don’t have to go digging around in each individual baggie. The results give me a feeling of fullness, satisfaction, & accomplishment that can only be described by admiring the finshed result.

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There you have it! My completed London Bus! I can’t wait to see what new sets LEGO will think of next. Until then, I’m on my way to build my next set, which is the Creator Carousel, given to us by our extremely generous friends from Southern California!! Cheerio & cheers, mates!

P.S. The Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats -slash- Kings of Leon concert I went to two weeks ago was incredible!!! I took a few videos & posted them on my Instagram page. I barely knew three songs by Kings of Leon, but I had a blast anyway. Then, I let Jian & another friend of ours talk me into going to watch A$AP MOB in concert (sometime between now & October, I think). On top of that, I’m waiting, like a giddy child on Christmas Day waiting to open presents, to go watch The Killers (my all-time favorite rock band) in concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles early next year. My cuss! It’s going to be a glorious time for music & live events…

Today’s song of the day:

“Barbecue Music” by Engelwood

 

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Ever since I was a young child, I’ve been somewhat of a “hoarder”. Not quite the packed-from-floor-to-ceiling, almost-buried-alive kind of hoarder, but more like one of those sentimental fools who can’t bear to get rid of anything…a “clutter bug”. I’m always keeping little things here & there from my childhood, calling them “collections” & whatnot, but what those things really are, are sentimental mementos eventually collecting dust as junk. This new “collection” of mine is slowly building, but at least they serve a function. I can actually use them around the house. They are drink coasters. I’ve got a tiny collection going, & I’m kind of proud of them. They not only serve a purpose, but they also show the places I’ve been to & the things I’ve done. Let’s take a look.

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Brew Dog beer is one of my all-time favorite brands of beer (originating from Scotland). I was very surprised to find one of their taprooms during my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. I had a great time eating Shepherd’s Pie & drinking pints of their Hardcore IPA. I “borrowed” these 2 coasters as a souvenir to mark my 1st experience at a real Brew Dog Brewery taproom.

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Belga is an incredibly delicious Belgian-ish style restaurant in San Francisco. Every time I’ve eaten there (which is three times), I’m always blown away by the interior decor. The first time I sat at the bar counter, I fell in love with this drink coaster. First of all, I’d like to note that I am a big fan of typography & graphic fonts. The text on this coaster is so cool & perfectly matches the decor & taste of the restaurant. Secondly, I love the background. It reminds me of antique tiles, yet it’s still able to look simple & clean.

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I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I picked up this drink coaster. It was probably from one of the many bars I’ve frequented in or around the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m not too sure why I had chosen this drink coaster other than the fact that I’m an avid whisk(e)y/bourbon drinker & I like Tullamore Irish whiskey.

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Earlier this year, my family & I took a small weekend trip to San Diego. On our way home, Jian & I stopped by the Stone Brewing Co. taproom at the San Diego International Airport. Jian is a huuuge fan & avid drinker of craft beer, so he was over the moon when he saw that Stone Brewing Co. had their own bar at the airport. Since San Diego is California’s epicenter for amazing craft beers, I grabbed one of these drink coasters as a sunny souvenir.

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This is another one of those drink coasters where I have no clue where I got it from. Yet again, it must be from one of the countless bars Jian & I have visited in or around the San Francisco  Bay Area. This was one of the first drink coasters I’ve ever kept from a bar. Way back in the day, Jian used to like drinking Lagunitas Brewery IPA, so I saved this coaster for him. He doesn’t drink this beer anymore, but I still kept the drink coaster.

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Coedo Brewery is one of my favorite Japanese craft beer brands. While we were visiting Hong Kong, I happened to stumble upon the Coedo taproom while searching for restaurant listings on Yelp. (Yes, Yelp works just as well as Open Rice in Hong Kong.) After a long day of subway rides & walking in the hot humid weather, we enjoyed a few glasses of ice cold beer & Japanese izakaya snacks. I kept this drink coaster as another souvenir from my trip to Hong Kong. I love how the coaster says “Beer Beautiful”, & I love the font & simplicity of the design. That’s Japanese artistry for ya!

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Mortar & Pestle is one of the few cool, hip bars in my city. The mixologists who work there are always friendly & the cocktails are pretty tasty. I feel like I’m getting a slice of the San Francisco’s craft cocktail experience right in the downtown of my bland & quiet hometown. I saved this drink coaster because it had a recipe to one of the bar’s signature drinks on the back, & was hoping that Jian would be able to spin his mixology magic & recreate that drink.

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Last year, I attended the 150th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in the Bay Area hosted by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. It was an amazing & overwhelming Scottish (& partly Irish) cultural festival. I had so much fun sampling Minced Meat Pies & Scotch Eggs, & watching bagpipe teams perform. I also got to sample loads of scrumptious whiskies from all over Scotland. Two of my friends that went to the festival with me got to sample some Crabbie’s ginger beer, & they saved me this coaster. I don’t like ginger beer, but I saved this coaster anyway as a memento of the special Scottish & Highland festival.

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Gitane is a very special restaurant that will always hold a special place in the hearts of Jian & myself. This is the first restaurant in San Francisco that we frequented so often that we became “regulars”, & practically everyone knew us there. The Iberian food & the cocktails were so good at this restaurant, it kept us coming back for more. Not only that, but we built solid friendships with a lot of the mixologists & the general manager of the restaurant. Eventually, a lot of the staff that we became friends with moved on to other restaurants or open their own bars, & we followed them as friends & loyal customers. This drink coaster symbolizes our “golden time” spent at this restaurant, making lasting friendships.

One of mine & Jian’s favorite bars in the San Francisco Bay Area is ABV (aptly named after the phrase “Alcohol By Volume”). At one time, this bar had a city theme on their drink coasters. These 4 coasters were the only cities we were able to find &/or collect during the last time we visited the place. I was pretty excited about these coasters because all of the cities represented places I want to visit at least once in my life, & so far I’ve already been to Tokyo, Hong Kong, & New York City. I would seriously love to visit Ireland at least once & do a whiskey crawl. That would be epic. The best part about these drink coasters are the different ways to say “Thank You” in each region’s native language. Although, I don’t understand why they would use the Mandarin language for Hong Kong when their native language is Cantonese (& sometimes we get a little butt-sore over people mixing up our dialects). I find it utterly hilarious that NYC’s saying is “Fuck Off”.

Well, that’s pretty much it. This is the end of my blog post. I am seriously going to try & cut back on my collecting of random things next year. Really. I’m getting sick & tired of myself having to cram little knick knacks & tchotchkes into every drawer & buying more storage boxes. I want to simplify my belongings & really de-clutter my life, but until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes

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I don’t know exactly how my dad came into the habit of using handkerchiefs all of his life. I know it is popular in Japanese culture to use handkerchiefs & small hand towels, but I don’t think my dad particularly picked up on that part of the culture he grew up around. I have a sneaking suspicion he learned this habit from his own father, who owned a bespoke tailor shop, or perhaps from all of the upper crust military men who came to my grandfather for custom western suits. Whatever which way my dad learned the habit of using handkerchiefs, I am so grateful he passed down this habit to me.

Using a handkerchief is a dying custom. I know that it has become fashionable again for men to accessorize their suits with pocket squares, tie clips, & lapel pins, but that’s only for show. Those pocket squares are purely for decoration, & rarely used for their original purpose. How very sad. I believe in fully utilizing the pocket square, or more specifically, the handkerchief. I mean, why have it if you’re not going to use it? Don’t be ridiculous or wasteful.

When I think of handkerchiefs, I think back to all of those movies from the 1950s & 60s that I’ve watched with my family, & I imagine how those refined ladies & gentlemen would use their handkerchiefs. Ladies would use their handkerchiefs for modesty & being discreet, also to wipe the messy faces of their children. The gentlemen would use them to wipe their hands, blow their noses, & to chivalrously give to a woman who’s been tear-stained & puffy-eyed. I would imagine the ladies carrying a pretty, embroidered or laced handkerchief in their purses, while the men would tuck crisp, white cotton handkerchief in their pants or suit pocket. How sophisticated (& practical)!

There are many practical uses for a handkerchief, I can’t see why they couldn’t be used more in our modern day & age. I’m sure today’s modern feminist woman would say I’ll find it sweet &/or chivalrous if a gentleman were to offer her his handkerchief in a time of necessity, such as: if she had no napkin to wipe her hands, or no tissue to wipe her nose, or if she needed to dry her eyes, or perhaps to tie around a small wound as a makeshift bandage. Men these days could also benefit from using them. I mean, it’s so gross & unbecoming when guys sneeze loudly all over the place, especially in public. Using the crook of an arm, even though it’s more sanitary than sneezing into one’s cupped hand(s), isn’t very discreet or pleasant looking. However, using a handkerchief to muffle the sneeze & to minimize wiping one’s wet hands onto his pants is much more gentlemanly & proper etiquette/manners. Also, it’s cooler to see a guy use a nice handkerchief rathe than the back of his hand or a fast food napkin. On top of all that, handkerchiefs are reusable! Yes, you can throw them in the washing machine & use them over & ove  again unlike Kleenex, which you throw away after one use, & not to mention they get wet & easily spread germs if left crumpled up all over the place.

As you can see, I love using handkerchiefs. I get severe allergies all the time, such is the story of my life since early childhood. My dad used to always lend me his handkerchief to wipe my nose because he disliked seeing me rub the palm of my hand up & down my nose &/or wipe my nose on my shirtsleeve in public. He thought that was not proper behavior, especially for a lady. Since I’ve picked up the habit of using handkerchiefs, I’ve been more inclined to starting my own collection rather than stealing my dad’s. As my life story goes, I am picky in this category as well. This means that I am selective in the styles I choose. I mostly prefer 100% cotton fabric,. I don’t particularly like linen or silk fabrics. I also don’t like outrageous colors & patterns. I quite like, & often gravitate towards stark white handkerchiefs. This is what I’ve collected so far…

1. This is the original handkerchief that started it all. It looks a bit ratty & torn, but I can attest that this handkerchief has been well loved & well taken care of. I have named this handkerchief Tom Hanks-erchief. I call him Mr. Hanks for short. I had originally named him Mr. Hanky, but that quickly became a joking reference to the Christmas poop character from the cartoon South Park, so I immediately changed the name. The new name is a nod to the awesome actor Tom Hanks. I really enjoy Tom Hanks’ acting, & I just think he’s cool.

2. This was my second handkerchief. Because of this, I named this one Colin Hanks-erchief. Obviously, I named him Colin after Tom Hanks’ real-life son & fellow actor Colin Hanks. Therefore, I had to also nickname this one Mr. Hanks Jr.. As you can see, I have a thing for white cotton handkerchiefs. These I was given not stolen from my dad.

3. I got this purple plaid handkerchief while I was in Japan. This was at the time when the brand UNIQLO had not become known worldwide, & was only popular/available in Japan. At that time, I had just learned about the casual affordable clothing brand & was completely obsessed with the brand. I didn’t bother to check the size, & was surprised when I found it was larger than the handkerchiefs I normally used at home. I don’t particularly go for purple colored things, but this pattern happened to be the most tame of all the ones on the store shelves, so I ended up choosing this one (but also because it’s 100% cotton).

4. There was one point in my life where I was completely immersed in Japanese street wear & Japanese urban pop culture. I was addicted to this particular Japanese lifestyle brand called A Bathing Ape (a.k.a. BAPE). I still am in love with this brand. I’ve got tons of items from this brand from things like: decorative pillows, kitchenware like mugs & glass cups, bath towels, blankets, bags, clothes, toys, accessories, & even vinyl toys/collectibles. I saw this handkerchief & was absolutely smitten. This is one of my favorite patterns from this Japanese brand that is mostly known for its outrageously multi-colored camouflage patterns. They call this a red plaid pattern. I have a matching raincoat, hand towel & umbrella in this same pattern. This handkerchief is a cotton-blend fabric, & it’s so soft. I only take it out for special occasions because this brand is pricey, & this pattern is no longer available within this brand. Ever since this brand got bought out by a major Chinese company, they have taken this brand in a different direction that I don’t I really agree with. haven’t felt the same love for this brand as I have in the past.

5. I recently got this (& the other two below) while I was in China. These handkerchiefs are from a Japanese brand called Hankachi (which I suspect is a shortened Japanese loanword for the full word handkerchief…a.k.a. han-ka-chiifu). Sorry for my lack of quality in these photos. I am not a professional photographer by any means, & I don’t really mind if the photos are not in super hyper HD quality…as long as you can see the photos relatively clearly & get my gist, then I’m fine with that too. Ok, so the first pattern I chose is this super cute bird pattern with stripes of bird footprints. I absolutely love this soft pastel color scheme. I am a complete sucker for soft blues, baby pinks, creamy yellows, & gray tones. Also, this handkerchief is pretty soft considering it’s got a mesh weave. The mesh weave gives the handkerchiefbreathability, which is good for when you want to wipe your brow on hot, sticky summer days.

6. Everybody around me knows I love pastries. I love cakes, & I love sweet pastel colors. So it’s a no-brainier that I would choose this pattern. I was originally going to give this as a gift to a friend who is obsessed with the Lolita lifestyle, but I ended up choosing a different pattern for her instead. I kept this one for myself. How could I not? This handkerchief is so delicate-looking, feminine, & lovely. I would be happy to carry this around in my purse. Just looking at it makes me hungry for sweets. LOL!


7. This last pattern I chose is a nod to Japanese summer festivals. Festivals & outdoor carnival-style events are popular in the summer in Japan. People of all ages love to walk around in their summer kimonos (a.k.a. ukata), eat street foods, & play carnival games. One popular prize to win at these festivals are little pet goldfish, hence the goldfishes on this handkerchief. I just love the bright color scheme of this handkerchief as well. This definitely reminds me of Summer’s spent in Japan, & since I am going back to Japan this July, I could definitely use this handkerchief! Hooray!

Well, that just about sums up my little blog post. I feel so winded after all of this writing. I’m kidding. Anyways, I’m going to go out & enjoy what little bit of warm weather Mother Nature has brought out for the day, & then I’m going to ℅ inure editing my photos from my Asia trip. (I’ve been procrastinating on those photos.) Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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