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2017 has already come & gone. It’s already Day 3 of 2018, & I cant believe it. Time really seems to be whizzing by. This is a look back at some of my biggest highlights of 2017.

01. This past year, I really feel like I’ve stepped up my writing, & put more focus & effort into my blog. I think I’m improving in making my own graphic images & site banners, but I’m not a trained graphic artist, nor do I have any artistic drawing abilities whatsoever. So, I’m hoping I’m improving as an amateur graphic artist. I can definitely see an improvement in my writing, & I’ve managed not to get too wordy on the unnecessary details. I’m definitely going to keep writing on my blog, & hope you all follow me on my journey.

02. When I was a teenager, I had all sorts of lofty dreams of going to music concerts & festivals. I envisioned my friends & I hopping in to my little car, & we’d travel around town looking for hip music venues & clubs. Well, that never happened, & even in my early adulthood I didn’t get many chances to go to any concerts…mostly because my group of friends at the time all had different tastes in music, & I could never find a partner to go with me to concerts or live shows.

Fast forward to today, f I can’t believe my good fortune. Jian & I have each introduced the other person to new music genres, bands, & artists. Through our mutual love of music, we’ve been able to attend many concerts & pop culture festivals in 2017. Our list of events include: Anderson.Paak in London, SAVE FERRIS, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with Kings of Leon, as well as Lord Huron, Carseat Headrest & other bands we didn’t recognize at Chris Hardwick’s ID10T Conival. We saw WEEZER twice last year. Once at the ID10T Conival, & a second time at our local Alt-Rock radio station’s winter concert called Not So Silent Night. We attended on the night Alice Merton (of “No Roots” fame), Walk The Moon, Foster The People, WEEZER, &………The KILLERS performed. Yes, we got to see our favorite rock band of all time (The KILLERS) perform alongside WEEZER!!!! It was a great way to end our year in concerts. Also, I’m going to see The KILLERS in concert again next month at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles for their Wonderful, Wonderful U.S. arena tour. I can just feel all of my teenage concert fantasies coming true.

03. I got to check off an item on my travel bucket list this past year. After all of my intense wishing, it finally came true. I got to visit London, England for my very first time. It took me a long time to convince Jian to go with me, since Jian prefers to visit Asia on his vacations, but I finally wore him down & convinced him to travel with me to Europe/the UK. I was getting a little tired of always sticking to our routine of visiting Japan or China (or Hong Kong) every time we plan an overseas vacation. I’ve been wanting to switch things up & visit Europe/the UK for a long time. Also, visiting London has been a big ticket bucket list item for me, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit my new favorite city & stay at a hotel that has completely changed my life.

04. After immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan (she was not born there), my mom said goodbye & had not given any thought to going back until recently. A lot of my mom’s friends have either permanently moved back to Taiwan, or split their time living there 6 months out of the year. This encouraged my mom to finally want to visit Taiwan. She invited her favorite travel companion (me) her sister, & together they made plans to go back & visit the city they grew up in & left behind over 30+ years ago. Of course, my mom feeling insecure about traveling to a place she hardly remembers, she invited Jian & I to join them as chaperones who could help them navigate the subway system & help them at the airports. We had so much fun eating & drinking our way through Taipei, & making the best of our trip even though it rained nearly every day.

05. Christmas is a big deal in my family. My dad had always emphasized family togetherness during this time of the year, & as a family we took his words very seriously. All of the kids make sure to come home for the holidays no matter what, & my mom throws a huge annual party on Christmas Eve. We usually tend to keep the guest list to family & close family friends only, but this year we broke tradition, & I was able to invite my closest friends & their families to our party. We had the most memorable evening I’ll never forget. This recently past Christmas party was truly outstanding & unforgettable.

06. This past year marked the 5th anniversary of my dad’s passing. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 YEARS. I think about my dad everyday, & I still think about him as though he’s still alive. I try hard not to dwell on the negative, & only focus on the positive memories of my dad. It’s hard to go through life without one parent, especially when you are still relatively young & feel like you still need your parents’ guidance. Another year will pass, & I will continue to think about my dad every day.

Those are my best highlights of 2017. I don’t have any resolutions for 2018. I want to live my life & be happy. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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A teenage American-British girl while visiting her father, is thrown into London society during the “Debutante Season”.

This past month, while my aunt was vacationing at our house, we watched a ton of classic movies from the 50s a& 60s. One of those movies was called The Reluctant Debutant starring a very young Sandra DeeRex Harrison, Kay Kendall, & a dashing & also very young John Saxon. Murder, She Wrote‘s Angela Lansbury also makes an appearance in this movie.

My aunt & I were talking about Sandra Dee & how my aunt idolised her as a teenager living in Taiwan. This prompted me to search for a Sandra Dee movie for us to watch together. I felt like Gidget has been watched too many times already, so I settled upon this one (as mentioned above). I was mostly interested in this movie because I had read in the movie summary that Rex Harrison was going to be portraying Sandra Dee’s father in this movie.

Most movies from this 1950s era really intrigue & interest me. I love the fashion that the girls & women wear, & I love all of the tiny, speedy, zippy little sports cars the actors drive in all of the movies. For example, I just adore the little yellow convertible Audrey Hepburn drives in the movie How To Marry A Millionaire. She just zips & zags along the busy streets of Paris with Peter O’Toole in the passenger seat with a look of sheer panic on his face for the daredevil way she drives her tiny little auto. In this movie (The Reluctant Debutante), some of the clothes & dresses Sandra Dee wears is so pretty, I wish I could pull of wearing clothes like that, but other times the outfits make her character look younger than she should be in the movie.

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I adore Rex Harrison in this movie as the doting father & loving husband who’s often caught between doing what his wife says & making his daughter happy. I love how Rex’s character is sort of a goofball (funny) around Kay Kendall’s character (his character’s wife), yet he still shows his tender “dad” side to Sandra’s character. Kay Kendall plays the role of stepmother-who-competes-against-other-debutant-mothers perfectly. Kay’s character is always competing with her cousin (played by Angela Lansbury), who is trying to throw her daughter a coming-of-age announcement, debutante party. So Kay‘s character, who is always trying to out do her cousin in their social group’s popularity, tries to announce her stepdaughter’s coming-of-age in the debutante arena just to get her time in the spotlight. It’s so funny how the two cousins keep trying to throw each other off by giving misdirection & misinformation, only to end up with things working out best for the children they’re both trying to keep apart.

My all time favorite part of this movie was the blossoming romance between Sandra Dee’s beautiful & sensible character & John Saxon’s handsome & bold character. Even though Sandra’s stepmother is trying to keep her away from John’s character due to an alleged scandal that he was supposedly involved in, the pair still find time to spend together getting to know each other & really build up their romance. Rex Harrison’s fatherly character is absolutely hilarious at these times because he also sort of falls into a bromance crush with John’s character due to their mutual love of music & playing the drums. The husband side of Rex’s character wants to make his wife happy by keeping John’s character away from his daughter. Yet, he wants to make his daughter happy by allowing her to go out with John’s character. There’s a lot of comedic eavesdropping that gets foiled every time the nosy parents are discovered, but that doesn’t take away from the tender & sweet scene of Sandra’s character slowly & coyly seducing John’s character to sit with her on the couch late at night so they could steal kisses in the dark. The sweet moment when Sandra’s character promises to wait for John’s character while he attends a family funeral in Italy. Then, they are so excited to see each other again, & that’s when the relationship really starts to bloom. The couch kissing scene was my all time favorite from the whole movie. It made my heart do rapid flip flops.

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When at first Kay Kendall’s stepmom character thought John Saxon’s character was a boy with a past that would ruin her stepdaughter’s reputation, I was not surprised. I knew she would have preconcieved opinions about him based on the seedy rumors she’s heard through her social circle. Then, throughout the movie, when John’s character continues to hold his head up high & prove himself to be a fine, well-mannered gentleman, I really hoped that he would prove Kay’s character wrong once & for all. In the end, he proved himself to be worthy of Sandra Dee’s character’s love. He proved without saying a single word that he was the boy RexKay’s characters wanted for their daughter all along. I just loooved the shocked look on the stepmom’s face in the ending scene, when the butler announces John’s character as the high titled Italian duke with the heir to a huge family name & fortune. I was cheering at the TV screen that entire time. I loved the happy ending that was all wrapped up in a neat little bow. It was a perfect conclusion to a short & sweet classic movie.

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Well, that’s all I have to say about this movie. I would totally watch this again & again. It was such a fun, light-hearted, romantic movie that fills my heart completely. Until the next reveiw, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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“Oh, Cheese it!” is a new slang phrase that I made up for myself. I use this phrase in negative situations, rather than using my usual dirty longshoreman cuss words because 1. it sounds cute, & 2. because it’s safe to use around children and prudes. Instead of saying “Goddammit!” or “Shit!”, like when you stub your toe really hard, or when you drop something important, I would say “Oh, Cheese it!”. It’s cheesy (pun intended), I know, but I like using this phrase. I think it’s fun.

Now, I’m using this phrase because something negative happened. For the first time in a long while, I finally made a bad stationery purchase. How could this  have happened? I am usually so picky & choosy when it comes to buying stationery. I can browse the store for hours trying to look for the perfect notepad, pen, sticker, or other office supply item. I used to be the type of person who had to buy everything “cute” at the stationery goods store, but that quickly turned me into more hoarder than collector, so I gave away a lot of things I either had no use for or grew disinterested in. That groomed me to become more selective in the types of stationery goods I buy & use.

Well, I fell back into old habits again. I got caught up in the razzle-dazzle of the Japanese discount store Ichiban Kan. I was picking out some things to fill a stationery care package I was making for my younger cousin. (We have been very close ever since she was in diapers.) We both share a love for Japanese stationery & Japanese culture, & I just felt like spoiling her a little bit, since she never asks for anything. I saw so many pretty & cute, yet ridiculous goods at the discount store. I just couldn’t help myself. While I was picking out things for my cousin, I was also picking out extra things for myself. I must have been running on some sort of endorphin high, or perhaps something in the air fried my brain because I just grabbed whatever I thought looked cool without properly giving it my thorough, self-perfectionist examination.

Compared to some of the other times I’ve walked out of stationery stores, I think this purchase was quite modest. For my cousin, I only bought a Mount Fuji sticky notepad & a pad of animal shaped notecards. For myself, I bought a few sets of stickers & washi tape rolls. Let me lay it out straight for you. I.WAS. KIND OF. DISAPPOINTED. This was the first time I’ve ever been disappointed in my stationery goods purchase. Well, hold on a minute. I wasn’t completely disappointed with my purchase. The stickers were okay, but it was the washi tapes that really bummed me out.

This was the first thing I picked out, a roll of dog stickers. First of all, I really like how the roll is perforated, so you can tear off individual stickers, or if you’re like me…to shorten the used end of the roll to make it look neater/tidier. I really like the breeds of dogs used for these stickers. I’m so happy that there’s a Shiba Inu in the mix, as well as a Pomeranian that looks like the famous super pup Boo. Mostly, I couldn’t say no to the oh-so-adorable pug! Sorry for my lack of photography skills; my photos don’t do these items any justice. These stickers look matte in my photo, but they’re actually semi-glossy.

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The next few things I picked were these sets of stickers. The first sheet says “和ものシール” (wamo no shiiru) which means “traditional seal”. The word “seal” is how the Japanese use to describe the word “sticker”. I was initially drawn to these stickers because of the rabbits! How could you deny those cute little bunnies? Plus, I really liked the traditional design & the rice paper texture of the stickers. As you can see, I’ve already used one of the rabbits. The other two sets are “flake seals”, which in Japanese “flake” is used to describe die-cut stickers.  The set on the top has a forrest theme, while the set on the bottom are all kinds of birds. I really like these stickers because they are thin stickers, but I’d say they are pretty durable. I’ve already used one of the flower stickers, & I like how the stickers are slightly transparent. These stickers also have a rice paper texture, but a more smooth feeling. I haven’t tried any of the bird stickers yet. They look a little bit too soft in color for my taste, but I guess we’ll see how it all turns out.

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Here’s where things take a sour turn. I was so excited to see so many different patterns of washi tapes at the Japanese discount store. Washi tape rolls can get very expensive (especially if you get ones with metallic foil accents). I try not to buy washi tape unless they’re on sale or at the discount store. Of course, I wanted to buy all of the tapes, but I forced myself to pick & choose only the select ones I knew I’d purposefully use. I got these three washi tape rolls. The first roll says “Thank You” in various languages. The gold lettering is supposed to have a slightly metallic shine, but my bad photography skills strike yet again, & you can’t really see it here. The second roll says “ありがとう” (Arigatou) which means “Thank You” & “ほんの気持ちです。” (Hon’ no kimochi desu.) which means “A feeling of gratitude”. I really liked the third washi tape roll because it looked quite Scandinavian & will look nice on wrapped gifts. Boy, oh boy. I can’t even with these damn washi tapes! Sure, they look pretty, but their looks are so deceiving! These tapes feel like every other washi tape out on the market, but they are far from the same quality. They don’t even stick to anything you use them on (not even plain white paper). I tried using the flower pattern tape on an envelope I was going to mail to my sister, but the ends kept curling up off the envelope, & no matter how many times I tried to really press down on the tape, it would just peel its ends off of the envelope. I’m pretty bummed right now that I bought these duds. There goes $4.50 USD right down the drain.

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Well, that’s a lesson learned for me. Cheap is cheap, I guess. You better believe that the next time I won’t be so quick to buy everything off the shelves, & I will carefully inspect the items before I buy them. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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