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I think I may have slightly gained the upper hand in wrangling my self control. Every time I go on a trip, or anywhere for that matter, I have an impulse to want to buy things, gifts for friends or myself. I was much worse in my early 20s. I had no concept of saving & budgeting, & I was feeling very generous, always buying useless, meaningless things.

Now I am trying much harder to control my shopping impulses by reminding myself that I am trying to de-clutter my life & really clean up all the junk I’ve accumulated over the years. Oh, & I am also trying to stick to a budget & all that good practice stuff. I am slowly getting better at controling myself, or more accurately my wallet. On this past trip to Vancouver, I was very much relieved when I didn’t get much chance to do any souvenir shopping. It also helped that I didn’t approach this vacation with any desire to shop whatsoever.

I am happy to report that most of my moola was spent on taxi fare, food, coffee, & ice cream. Who can resist coffee or ice cream? Well, actually, there were one or two times when I gave in to my shopping impulses & bought a few trinkets. However, I try to justify those purchases by saying they’re only small items, & one of the items I bought was handmade by a local Vancouver artist, while another item was a comemorative item from a once-in-a-lifetime art exhibition.

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I got this super weird cute tooth necklace when I visited a fun shop on Granville Island. The shop assistant explained that it was handmade by a local artist from Vancouver. I thought this necklace was really cool, & I like quirky, odd, unique jewelry like this. This is a souvenir I will defintely cherish, & it will always remind me of Vancouver. I’ve already worn this necklace several times, & the best part is that I’ve worn it in the shower (accidentally), & the metal chain does not rust.

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Ok, I hauled a bunch of enamel pins. That’s not really big time news to anybody. I’ve said in the past that I am going to try to limit my collecting of various little things, but I feel like enamel pins can be justified because they’re making a comeback in the fashion world. Slapping enamel pins all over your oversized slouchy denim jacket is in style now. I feel like I’m already ahead of the curve, since I’ve been collecting pins since before they made a comeback as a hipster trend.

A few key pins to make note of are the maple leaf pin, the YVR umbrella pin, & the Takashi Murakami pin. I don’t think I’ll become a ‘Canadiophile’ anytime soon, but I wanted some glaringly cheesy souvenirs to show I had actually visited Vancouver, BC, & I thought buying myself a refrigerator magnet was too boring. (Plus, I don’t stick things to my refrigerator, so there’s no use for a magnet.)

I really wanted to get a unique souvenir to commemorate my visit to the Takashi Murakami art exhibition, but most of his gift shop merchandise was your standard, you-can-get-it-anywhere pop art flower stuff like: pens, postcards, notepads, plushes, & other useless bric-a-brac. The museum gift shop was selling a cool coffee table book & framed art prints, but I was not about to lug those heavy items home in my dinky little suitcase (& run the risk of paying the overweight luggage penalty). So, I got this little pin instead. I find it so much more meaningful that I got something that I took careful consideration in selecting.

In the end, I think I did pretty well, only got a handful of items. I said in my last blog post that I’m going back to Vancouver again with Jian in a couple of months, & next time I’m going to try to focus more on eating, drinking, & adventuring. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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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:

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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:

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I found a heart-shaped grape.🍇 . . . . . . . . . . #grape #TheHolidays #grapes #muscat #heart #hearts #WhiteGrape #TableGrape #green #SoSweet #SoYummy #fruit #fruits #organic #HealthyEating #CityLiving #CityLife #delicious #SoCute #CoolFind #FoodieApp #FruitsOfInstagram @foodieapp.official
Let the neon light the way.💡 . . . . . . . . . . #NeonSign #TheHolidays #neon #lights #sign #HolidaySpirit #LightTheWay #colors #colorful #NeonLights #signs #NeonArt #StreetArt #art #CityLiving #CityLife #SF #DTSF #LineCamera #FoodieApp #LightsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official
Always meeting new friends.🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #TheHolidays #LickThat #NewFriend #BeardedSanta #HolidaySpirit #HaagenDazs #coffee #classic #SingleScoop #InACone #SugarCone #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #SM #Hillsdale #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @haagendazs_us @haagendazs_jp
Making more new friends.🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #ManicMonday #TheHolidays #LickThat #sailor #HelloSailor #NewFriend #BenAndJerrys #vanilla #FlavorAlert#VanillaIsNotBoring #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #SF #UnionSquare #Macys #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @benandjerrys
Anesthesia at the dentist office. Tongue & mouth is numb. Feeling jittery, like I had too many espresso shots. But I’m still dreaming of this super delicious ラーメン. (🦷 + 👅 + 💉 = 🤪) (💭of 🍜) . . . . . . . . . . #ramen #WeekendMode #TheHolidays #noodles #SpicyMiso #TokyoStyle #RakkanRamen #TastyTuesday #楽観 #味噌 #ラーメン #delicious #LittleTokyo #CityLiving #CityLife #Japantown #DTLA #LA #SoCal #LineCamera #FoodieApp #NoodlesOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official
I made a new friend. ☕️+🥃=🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #WeekendMode #TheHolidays #LickThat #NewFriend #SaltAndStraw #TryNewFlavors #JamesCoffeeAndBourbon #FlavorAlert #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #ArtsDistrict #DTLA #LA #SoCal #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @saltandstraw

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