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Illustration credit: Salgoolulu via Pinterest

I am just going to come right out & say it. Hi, my name is melsenpai, & I have a sticker addiction. It’s been three weeks since my last sticker purchase. Every time I see a cute sticker, I feel compelled to buy it, even if I have no use for it. I have a better grasp on the art of restraint these days, but there are some days when I feel an overwhelming urge to splurge on the very first love of my life…stickers.

I have been collecting stickers since I was around 5-years old or so, & it has been my passion-hobby ever since. Everyone in my immediate household knows of my addiction, which I sugar-coatingly refer to as my hobby collection, & they neither support it nor are against it. I, for one, am totally, unequivocally for it. Yes, I am here for it bee-yotch! So, that is why I recently went on a mini shopping spree for stickers.

There is one brand I have been following since way back in 2007, called B-Side Label, from Japan. I first saw their decals during one of my first trips to Tokyo with Jian, at my all-time favorite home goods shop Tokyu Hands.  I didn’t pay much attention to the brand itself at that time. However, I remember choosing three designs: a llama, a chicken, & a blue fin tuna fish decal. I didn’t even have a clue as to what the Japanese phrases on the decals even meant. I just liked the designs, & wanted to stick them on my very first laptop that my parents got me for my birthday.

 

It wasn’t until much later, when I became more heavily involved in social media was when I rediscovered this brand once again. I found their Instagram page, & I’ve been “window shopping” ever since. Once B-Side Label announced that they would start shipping internationally to select countries, I immediately went on the hunt for my first purchase. (Finally I won’t have to trek all the way across the Pacific Ocean to get my hands on these sweet little decals.) For my first purchase I got three  small stickers to decorate my tablet, but my recent purchase was my biggest decal haul to date.

Here’s the unveiling of my haul. It took me a couple of days, yes d-a-y-s, to carefully select which ones I was ultimately going to get. There were so many designs I loved, but I forced myself to only choose the ones that would fit me best.

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I won’t go into all the blah-blah-blah boring details as to why I chose each & every one of these designs. Instead, I’d like to explain why I got these decals. One thing that really stands out in my mind about this brand is their attention to detail & quality. B -Side Label stands behind their products, & I can personally attest that these decals are extremely durable.

The main things I love the absolute most about these decals are that they are both waterproof & UV resistant, which means they won’t fade due to prolonged exposure to the sun AND they won’t peel or warp if they get wet. So, you can slap these bad boys on your bicycle, you car window, your laptop, or whatever you want, & the color will still look vibrant & they’ll still stay put. For an example, let me introduce you to my best friend, Richard, also known as my tablet.

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I have had this tablet, Richard, for a little over 5+ years or so, & it’s still chugging along. My tablet has been littered with so many stickers & decals over its lifetime, & so far none of the stickers/decals look used or abused. I’ve even slapped on a couple of the B-Side Label decals on him, & was able to peel off & re-apply them a few times while trying to figure out the best fitting places for each one. That’s another great thing about my B-Side Label decals, you know, the fact that you can peel them off & re-apply them & they still retain their stickiness & still look like new.

So there you have it. This was my latest haul post. It was kind of lame for me to make one whole topic about basic stickers, but I’d say that there’s nothing really basic about the ones I bought. I have no doubt that whatever I slap these babies on to, they’re going to last for a very, very long time. Until my next post, 君に乾杯!

Today’s song of the day:

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I cannot stress enough just how thankful, grateful, & appreciative I am to have Jian in my life…to even know such a generous, kind, caring, thoughtful, wonderful person such as he. Honestly I am so grateful beyond words. Actually, words cannot even properly express the level of gratitude I am feeling right now. Aaaaahhhh! I have to stop gushing over Jian for a minute so I can properly explain what is going on, & why I’m feeling all of these warm & fuzzy feels towards him.

You know what? I really abhor discussing my birthday. It makes me somewhat uncomfortable talking about it because I dread that the person I’m talking to will bring up my age, as in, ask about my age, & although I’m not very old, I’m no spring chicken either. I will only go so far as to say I’m approaching middle-age at an almost breakneck speed. In my heart & soul, I still feel like I’m in my somewhat-twenties, but in truth, I’ve already surpassed that decade. Ok, moving on!

So, my birthday is coming up in a few weeks, & in anticipation of that, as well as knowing the fact that I’m not a big celebrator of birthdays, Jian decided to pick out my birthday gift in advance. He had a really thoughtful idea in mind for my birthday present. He had thought about surprising me with a vintage typewriter. Then last weekend, we were in the big city, just having a quiet day to ourselves window shopping & going out for a few drinks. Towards the evening we were casually browsing around a smart-tech shop, & I happened to spot a really cool USB computer keyboard. It’s a wireless USB keyboard that looks like a vintage typewriter, complete with typewriter-esque keycaps & a real, working carriage return bar just like the ones on a traditional typewriter.

Jian caught me playing around with the display model, & suggested that we get one for our home computer. I kind of brushed off his comment, thinking he was joking around & didn’t really take him seriously until he started asking me which color I’d choose if I could buy one of these bougie keyboards. The shop had the classic black model, & the limited edition white & mint green models on display, & I casually mentioned that I liked the white color. That was when Jian got very serious, & told me he was getting this for me as an early birthday present. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor in surprise.

Of course I told him that it was totally unnecessary for him to buy me anything for my birthday, let alone an expensive piece of technology such as this. That was when Jian revealed that he had been looking into getting me a vintage typewriter for quite some time. He said that a hi-tech keyboard like this one would be the perfect compromise, & that he’d be willing to shell out a few extra Benjamins on my birthday present to show his appreciation for all that I do for him. (Now do you see how much I appreciate Jian & his extreme generosity???)

I had always fantasized to one day get a vintage typewriter for myself, but I’ve come to realize that this fantasy is not very practical. Every once in a while I will casually browse the internet to see if there are any shops selling old typewriters, but all of the listings I’ve found are all so damn expensive (Some I’ve found cost $700+ USD)! I have seen other USB typewriter keyboards on the internet (a.k.a. Etsy) that are basically real vintage typewriters modified so you can USB hook-up this working typewriter to your PC & type like you’re using a traditional typewriter, & although they’re aesthetically gorgeous, they’re bulky & not portable. That’s where this innovative USB keyboard comes into play.

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I’ve been using my USB typewriter-keyboard hybrid for over one week now, & I love it so much. The name of this fun keyboard is aptly called: Qwerkywriter, & it’s by a company called Qwerky Toys. It’s such a fun keyboard to use, yet it is also super practical. I feel like it’s a perfect combination of a typewriter feel, with a PC keyboard’s sensibility. My Qwerkywriter keyboard has all of the traditional functions & keys of a PC keyboard, but when you’re typing, you still get the feeling like you’re click-clacking away on an old fashioned typewriter, like you’re a secretary for a big-time boss in the 1950s.

The model Jian let me pick out for my birthday present was the limited edition ‘S’ model in the color white. Ever since I started using this new keyboard, I have noticed that my typing accuracy has improved. I really enjoy the feel of the rounded & indented keycaps that are more spaced apart then a traditional computer keyboard. The keycaps on this new keyboard are spread out enough that I can stretch my fingers more when I’m typing which improves my spelling & typing accuracy.

I also get the aesthetic feeling as though I’m typing on a traditional typewriter, even though the keys still sound like a regular computer keyboard & doesn’t have the click-clack sound of an old fashioned typewriter. The carriage return bar, which is like the ‘enter’ key on a PC keyboard, really adds an authentic typewriter feel to this keyboard. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s oddly satisfying to hit that carriage return.

Here’s where I finally get to show you all of the cool functions & features of my nifty new USB keyboard… Huzzah!

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Overall, I am very much impressed with this USB keyboard. It really inspires me to type write more, & so far, for the past week I’ve been getting so much good use out of this keyboard. I’m super excited to continue using this typewriter-keyboard hybrid on many more posts to come. I also want to give one last big, fat, giant, huge shoutout to Jian for hooking me up with this insanely cute piece of technology. I am forever grateful for his generosity. Until next time, 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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