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In my quest to discover 99 Things That Bring Me Joy, the next list in my journal asks me to describe one memorable family vacation, & there is one specific vacation that pops up in my mind vividly. I’ve been on many meaningful & fun family vacations throughout my life. Some of my favorite family trips were of my family along with my dad’s childhood & lifelong friends (including their respective families) going on summer camping trips in Lake Tahoe, up in Northern California. However, the most memorable trip I can fondly recall was an amazing road-trip my immediate family went on from way back in the mid-1990s.

My dad had taken a serious chunk of time off of work to take my mom, me & my younger cousin visiting from SoCal for the summer, on a really memorable road-trip in his modestly awesome Toyota Sienna minivan. We traveled from the Bay Area, up to & through Northern California, through Oregon & Washington, then ending all the way up to British Columbia in Canada. It was one of the best family road-trips I’ve ever been on, all thanks to the incredible planning by my late father.

Now, a lot of time has passed since then, & I don’t remember every little town we visited. I can only vaguely guess that my dad drove up Interstate 5 from California, through Oregon, then Washington, all the way up to British Columbia, Canada. Some of the little towns we drove through were really quaint & cute. Others were unique & fun. Back then, I was a teenager still going through puberty, & my cousin was barely even in her tween years, & those were the days before the technology boom of smartphones & tablets. So, naturally my cousin & I spent most of our time in the car either napping or playing the Cat’s Cradle string game. (Side note: We once tried to play with cards in my dad’s minivan, but quickly found out we all got carsick super fast & one of my cousins actually hurled into a plastic bag.)

Starting around San Francisco, we rode my dad’s above-average minivan up north, somewhere near Redding. We spent one night in an economy hotel, then continued up further up north, passing through Portland, Oregon & then on to Washington state. I remember one of our main stops along our road-trip being in Leavenworth, Washington. We stayed in a really cool hotel that had individual cottage style lodging. I specifically remember our cottage having an all-white color scheme. All of the wood furniture was light colored (like they were from IKEA or something), & the layout had a cute little kitchen & living room space, a master bedroom, & a separate smaller bedroom…the one my cousin & I shared. The only other time in my life where I had ever visited a Scandinavian-esque town was when my family would drive through the little town of Solvang in California on the way to visit family in Los Angeles. Let me tell you, Leavenworth is a whole other experience. It was a really cool & interesting touristy town.

My mom had a blast shopping for lots of little blue & white porcelain bric-a-brac to clutter up our house, as well as buying yards & yards full of delicate, handmade lace curtains to add just that little touch of gaudiness to our mid-century modern Eichler home. My dad loved sampling all of the delicious traditional German delicacies at the local restaurants. My cousin & I were so excited to have one unchaperoned night all to ourselves in our little hotel cottage, while my parents had a night to themselves to have an adult dinner.

Later that night as we went to bed, my cousin & I had to share one queen-sized bed in our small room. I remember the down comforter on the bed was the most fluffiest, & softest comforter I had ever slept on. It was super thick & pillowy. My cousin & I liked to stay up late (very late according to my parents’ standards) & chat. We tried to keep our voices low, thinking that my parents couldn’t hear us from two rooms away, but we could still hear my dad scolding us to go to sleep. How do you expect two giddy teenage girls to sleep when it’s barely dark outside? I mean, sometimes my dad’s bedtime hours were ridiculous.

After leaving the town of Leavenworth, we continued to travel north toward Canada. Our destination…The Buchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, somewhat near Victoria. Here’s where my mind is getting a little fuzzy. I can’t remember which parts of Canada we drove through to get to the ferry that would take us to Brentwood Bay. The only part of this portion of our trip that I can clearly remember is the time we spent on the ferry & the time we spent at The Buchart Gardens. My mom easily gets seasick, & I remember there were parts of our ferry ride that wasn’t exactly the smoothest. My cousin & I were so bored on the 10+ hour ferry ride, by the time we got to our destination, we were ready to kiss the ground.

When we arrived at The Buchart Gardens, we were awestricken. The Buchart Gardens is one of my parents’ most favorite places in the world, & it was one of my dad’s goals to take his family there for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will admit here that my cousin & I didn’t appreciate the gardens as much as we should/could have. For two teenagers who were mostly interested in boys, TV, & hanging out with friends, in the beginning of our tour we weren’t as enthusiastic about looking at bushes & flowers for the entire day. However, as the day progressed, we took a bigger interest in the gardens. We all fell in love with the bright colors & grandeur of the gardens, & had such a memorable experience. I remember my dad taking a lot of photos of the three of us ladies: my mom, my cousin, & me.

We didn’t stay in Canada for very long. Shortly after our day in The Buchart Gardens, we headed back down south in my dad’s trusty minivan. We passed through Seattle, Washington, & I was super excited to be able to see the iconic Space Needle as we drove through the city. We then, took another drive through downtown Portland in Oregon, & I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t stop to look around for a bit. Then, as we passed through Northern California again, we stopped at a little town where we saw a shop selling handmade wooden furniture made by Quakers. My parents ended up buying a wooden China cabinet/hutch for our kitchen that we had shipped to our house. That China cabinet is still sitting in our kitchen, & it still looks as new as the day we brought it into our home.

My  absolute most memorable experiences from this entire road-trip was when we stopped at a cute little toy shop while strolling the downtown area of this town who’s name I can’t remember. My dad let my cousin & I each pick out one souvenir to buy, & I vividly remember picking an alarm clock. Well, it wasn’t just any plain old alarm clock. No. This alarm clock was shaped like a puffer fish. It creeped me out at first because the teeth of the puffer fish represented the numbers on a traditional clock, but the design eventually won my heart over with the little rotating clown fish that represented the second hand of the clock. Let me show you an example of this clock for your reference.

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My dad thought I was absolutely nuts for choosing something so unattractive & weird as my souvenir, & my mom tried to get me to pick something else, but I was determined to get this alarm clock. Ever since I first saw it in the display window at the shop I was completely drawn to it. No matter what else I saw at the store, my eyes kept darting back to this ridiculous alarm clock. I just fell in love with it, & had no regrets ever since buying it. This alarm clock lasted for nearly 10+ years before it finally “clocked out” for good. (Pun intended.)

I initially thought I would get a scare every time I would walk into my room & see this creature staring straight at me, with it’s mouth gaping open & baring its sharp teeth, but it didn’t bother me at all. It took me a couple of weeks to get adjusted to having such a large object, especially a clock, occupying so much valuable space on my small nightstand, but it was a pretty smooth adjustment.

This alarm clock may look kitschy & like a cheap novelty toy (it was not very cheap), but it served its purpose well. I used the alarm function of this clock every day for school, & it worked great until one day it just stopped working & I almost was late for school. I had tried changing the battery, but that didn’t work, & I knew then that the clock was busted & broken. It would’ve cost me more money to repair the clock than it was actually worth, so I ended up tossing it out.

Now, I wish I still had that clock today, even in its non-working condition. It would’ve been nice to keep it just as a sentimental keepsake of our amazing & unforgettable road-trip as a little family. I loved telling strangers that my little cousin was my sister. I never had any younger siblings growing up, & I had always dreamed of having younger siblings. Back in those days, I hated being the youngest child, always getting yelled at or picked on by my older siblings, & being overbearingly over-protected by my parents.

Having my younger cousin around during the summer holidays when we were growing up was so much fun. We made so many great memories together, playing, talking, & learning about life together. Now she’s a mother of two & living her best life. I am currently in the process of expanding & adding parts to my already-in-progress best life ever. So, let’s get on to the next post. Until next time, cheers!

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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For the past couple of weeks, the weather in my area has been so beautiful during the daytime, but super chilly in the evenings. I am really, really, really enjoying this kind of weather (warm in the day, cold at night). One of my favorite aspects of this weather is when I get to step into a relaxing, hot shower while it’s icy cold outside. Then, while I’m in the shower, I take that alone time to let all of my innermost thoughts flow out of my mind. It feels like a therapeutic release, letting all of my bottled up thoughts of that day just flow out.

Sometimes I get really deep into my thoughts, talking to myself internally about family drama or about personal doubts. Other times I’ll just talk out loud to myself, ranting about unimportant things, like some moronic thing I heard a vapid, air head say on a dumb reality TV show. Last night, while taking a late night shower, I had some really random thoughts swirling around in my mind.


There are times when I’ll share the bathroom with Jian, & we’ll both catch each other humming or singing a song one of us will recognize. One of us will just jump right in & sing right along with the other person. Usually I’m the one who catches him singing or humming a song in the shower, & I’ll often times recognize the song, sneak into the bathroom as quietly as I possibly can, & then surprise him by loudly singing along with him. There are other times when Jian will catch me off guard & try to sing along with me, which causes us to break in to a fit of laughter.

Let me just include a tiny little disclaimer here by saying: neither Jian nor I have great singing capabilities. We are not the best singers. We’re not going to audition for American Idol at any time in our lives. Not gonna happen, ever. However, we do enjoy singing with our friends at karaoke bars, & I’d say we’re pretty decent at it. I mean, at least we can carry a tune, & neither of us are tone deaf…so I think either one of us singing in the shower is not a crime.

I, myself, love singing along to my favorite songs. I’ve always got my Spotify playlists playing when I’m working at my computer station at home, & I’m always singing along to all of the songs on my playlists. I also sing along to the radio whenever I’m driving in my car. Although I won’t really sing along to the car radio if I’ve got other passengers in my car other than Jian. I’ve also sung open mic karaoke at multiple dive bars…sober. However, usually my friends & I like to sing at private room karaoke lounges (’cause we get the mic all to ourselves & get to pick our own songs). Perhaps all that singing in the shower has prepared me for karaoke. LOL!


I sometimes complain to Jian about this, but I really don’t enjoy the “perks” of being a woman, especially a woman who takes care in keeping up a presentable, decent appearance. I will lament to Jian that I sometimes wish I could be more like a man. Then I wouldn’t have to spend a frivolous amount of time in the shower shaving body parts, using fancy smelling soaps & shampoos, & doing all of this frou-frou stuff to make my hair soft, shiny & pretty. On top of that, once I step out of the shower, I have to rub special lotion all over my body, apply all kinds of creams & anti-wrinkle & anti-blemish, blah, blah, blah on my face.

For guys, all they have to do is use a generic soap & shampoo, scrub up, rinse off, & towel themselves dry. That’s basically all there is to it for a no-frills kind of guy like Jian. Well, I will admit that I got Jian to use a facial moisturizer to hydrate his super dry, flaky skin, but that’s pretty much the only extra step he has in his nightly shower routine. I on the other hand, have 20 more steps to take before I can throw on my pj’s & climb into bed. Ugh! Why can’t I just have a three-step nightly routine, like Jian…a dude? It’s annoying sometimes.


My final thought blurb is about that time right when you finish washing & you turn off your shower. Yes, that does sound weirdly specific…but I swear this is going somewhere. As I had mentioned earlier on in this meaningless blog post, it’s been super cold at night where I live, & there’s nothing better on a cold night than taking a hot shower…or bath. (I’m an equal opportunity bather.) However, the one part I absolutely loath the most about showering is those five to ten seconds right after you turn off that glorious, hot water & reach out to grab your towel.

No matter what you do, you will feel that initial gust of cold wind hit your body, & it’s just “bad news bears” all around. It feels like you’ve just jumped in to the deepest waters of Antarctica, naked. Sometimes I’ll try to just poke my hand around a small sliver opening in my shower curtain, & try to stealthily pull my towel in to avoid letting the hot steam escape, but I always end up letting in a frosty gust of wind into my hot, steamy cocoon. It annoys the hell out of me. I was actually thinking this yesterday as I was just about to finish my shower. I kept saying to myself that I wish I could just stand under the hot water for ten more minutes before I have to MacGuyver my towel into my steamy shower cocoon behind my shower curtain. I nearly froze my nips off trying to pull my fluffy towel behind the curtain, but I managed to not freeze my body too much.

The struggle is real, folks. A real steamy struggle. I am so sorry for this stupid post about taking showers. I wish I had more engaging content to write about this week, but my brain is on strike. Until next time, cheers & stay soapy friends…

Today’s song of the day:

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