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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s song of the day:

“Brick Yellow” by BLAZO

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I’ve said in my previous blog post about my trip to Kyoto that there weren’t many opportunities to truly go shopping outside of the touristy stops, but, somehow I was able to amass a small amount of goods, enough to make up a mini haul. I guess. I tried very hard to control my spending during this trip. I made a promise to myself before the trip that I would try to not splurge too much on shopping. Just by reading our travel itinerary, I knew there wouldn’t be much opportunities for me to shop for the things I enjoy anyway. I also made a conscious effort to prove to Jian that I could save money & not always buy, buy, buy. So, I firmly stuck to my goal & only spent approximately half of the money I budgeted for this trip. (I didn’t even spend the entire amount of currency I exchanged.) However, somehow I was still able to scrape together this hodge-podge of goodies. Let’s take a look.

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I got this charm, first of all, because I love the illustrated series “The Bear’s School“. Secondly, I wanted to add this charm on to my backpack. Thirdly, it had a letter M charm for my name. Unfortunately, the bear kept coming off. So, I had to wait until I got home to super glue the charm to the loose screw.

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FRISK is Jian & my all-time favorite brand of mints. The original FRISK mints are smaller than Altoids Minis, so they are so easy to freshen your breath, or provide a hint of sugarless sweetness. Ever since we first discovered FRISK back in 2010, we were instantly hooked, & ended up buying every single flavor we could find. We’ve tried looking for these mints at our local Japanese grocery stores, but the stores either don’t carry them, OR they only carry one single flavor & mark them at double the Japanese retail price. So, whenever we go back to Japan, we buy a shitload of them to stock up on these delicious mints. On this last trip, I ended up finding new flavors & variations on the mints (they now come in the NOW Mints series.)

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Originally, I had brought a small blue hand towel on this trip, but I lost it on the Shinkansen (darn you, shallow pocket!). So, I had to replace my hand towel with this one. I don’t particularly like the color purple, but at least this hand towel had rabbits on it, aaannnd…it was the best looking design out of the meager selection at the shop.

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I love Japanese mythology & folklore. (Example: the Japanese comic XxxHolic.) My favorite Japanese folklore figure is this fox (a.k.a. Kitsune in Japanese). When I saw this coin pouch, I had to grab it right away. First of all, in the U.S., these silicone pouches are expensive. If I had gotten this back home, I would’ve paid double the amount I paid in Kyoto. Second, I’ve always wanted to get a POCHI brand silicone pouch, but I could never find a design I liked. This pouch now sits snugly in my car’s glove compartment as a coin purse for parking meter change.

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I bought this Hikonyan hand towel at the Lake Biwa Hotel gift shop. I thought this cat mascot was so cool, & I love the color yellow. Plus, I wanted to add this to my new hand towel collection. It wasn’t until later that I found out this mascot was created in 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Hikone Castle in the city of Hikone. The samurai helmet on the cat mascot resembles the real helmet currently in the Hikone Castle museum.

gachapon-key-chain

I’m not as big of a fan of capsule toys now as I was in my twenties. I used to buy all sorts of random blind box toys & capsule (a.k.a. gachapon) toys, no matter what the character was, when I was in my early twenties. Now, I’m trying not to hoard too much small junk items. However, I couldn’t resist putting my coin into the machine one last time, & turning that oversized knob, listening to the sound of the plastic ball drop down the chute. What else could I do to pass the time waiting for the scenic train in Arashiyama? Most of the capsule toys were train themed, & this Gudetama series caught my attention. I ended up getting a light-up keychain, which I’m debating whether I should put on my backpack or not.

howl-postcard

Of course everyone knows Studio Ghibli is basically the PIXAR of Japan. Hayao Miyazaki is pretty much revered as an artist god in Japan. One of my favorite animated films from Studio Ghibli is Howl’s Moving Castle. My favorite character from this film is a little smart-mouthed flame of fire named Calcifer. He adds wonderful humor in to a mostly melancholic storyline. I got this postcard, 1. to add to my 300+ postcard collection, & 2. to commemorate my favorite Ghibli character.

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At first, I was going to give these Howl’s Moving Castle washi tapes to a friend of mine, who is a huge Studio Ghibli fan, as a gift. However, I ended up keeping it for myself. I couldn’t help myself. Also, I’m thinking of using these washi tapes in my 2016 Christmas cards. So, they won’t be collecting dust after all.

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I have a beautiful pastel blue summer yukata at home. I was so lucky to have gotten an inexpensive set from UNIQLO eight years ago, which came with a matching obi sash & a pouch purse. However, I never got any hair accessories to match my yukata. So on this trip, I decided that I would once & for all get some proper hair accessories so that finally & properly wear my complete yukata outfit. I saw these cute hair pins & picked them up straight away. I’ve already started wearing them with my everyday street clothes as well.

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My mom thought the hair pins were too small to match my yukata at home. So, she convinced me to get these hair sticks as well. These metal hair sticks are meant to help you hold your hair in place when you make a bun or twist hair style. For all of my purist love of Sanrio, I got the limited edition Little Twin Stars hair stick. My mom pushed me to get the rose hair sticks after seeing my cousin Amber wearing hers. The double sticks are meant for a more elaborate hairstyle, & the chain in the middle is meant to drape across your hair. And, because I bought two hair accessories, the cloth pouch was a free gift with purchase.

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This is a close-up of the Little Twin Stars hair accessory. The metal stick is silver, but the charm is gold-plated. The two stars on the charm are separate & will dangle separately.

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This is a close-up of the rose hair accessory. There is a single rose on each hair stick & the chain is dotted with gold stars & plastic gems in various colors.

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Oh my gohhhhhd! I love ice cream. I truly do. I also love collecting random things, like hand towels. When I saw this ice cream patterned hand towel at the book store, I couldn’t resist getting it. Although the picture doesn’t show it, the back of the towel is a soft coffee brown color, to match the color of the ice cream cones. Needless to say, when I got back to my hotel room, I quickly washed it with lots of soap & used it immediately.

mini-washi-tape

Ok, so I promised myself after my trip to Hong Kong that I would no longer clutter up my crafting supplies with even more washi tape, but how could you turn your back on these incredibly adorable mini tapes?! I mean, they even come with a mini tape dispenser. I’ve seen various widths of washi tapes before, from skinny stripes to extra wide gift wrap size, but I’ve never seen these teeny-tiny mini ones before. Of course I plan on using them, but I pretty much got them for their kitschy novelty factor.

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Whenever I go to Japan, I always try to stock up on as many greeting cards as I can. For some reason, the greeting cards from Japan are just so much cuter, stylish, & more innovative than the ones from the U.S.. On this trip, I wasn’t able to find very many that I like. However, I was able to get the pop-up Snoopy birthday card that I’ve been wanting to get for over a year, & I didn’t want to go through the hassle of using an overseas buying service just to get a couple of inexpensive birthday cards. I also picked out a few generic beer themed blank cards that I can use for the birthdays of my male friends, who incidentally love to drink craft beer.

randf-decals

I am automatically drawn to anything that relates to the title of my blog, which means just about anything rabbit or fox related will go straight into my hands. I saw these two decals at LoFT, & I had to get them even though they were a little expensive ($6USD each). I immediately gravitated towards these decals, not only because of my sticker obsession, or because of the animals they represent, but because these illustrations look quite realistic & not overly-cartoonish. It’s hard to find rabbit &/or fox illustrations/products that don’t look overly-exaggerated or childish/cartoonish. Until now, I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to stick these decals.

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No matter where I am or where I go, I am always going to find stickers. LoFT had sooo many delicious stickers. I couldn’t decide which ones I truly wanted. My old self would’ve just bought them all without even giving it a second thought, but my new self was really trying to pair down to the designs I thought I’d use the most in my crafts. List: 1. fireworks bursts, 2. pastel & metallic sweets, 3. hot air balloons & blimps, 4. pastel & metallic bows, 5. pastel & metallic candy, 6. pastel & metallic gemstones, 7. pastel & metallic flags, 8. pastel & metallic hearts, 9. black, white & gold arrows for calendars/planners, 10. neon pink & gold calendar/planner word stickers, 11. pastel calendar/planner word stickers.

curel-lip-cream

When I was in Hong Kong, I bought my mom a ton of drugstore beauty products by the brand Curél. In the U.S., we only get the body lotions & hand creams. In Asia, they get the full lineup of skin care products. I got one of these lip creams (a.k.a. chapsticks) as a free gift with purchase in Hong Kong. I loved this product so much that my mom ended up gifting me another one from the drugstore near our hotel in Kyoto. I love this lip cream because it doesn’t have a plastic or purfume-y smell/aftertaste, & it applies smoothly…not sticky or thick like American ChapstickCarmex, or EOS.

Well, that’s pretty much the end of my list. I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t pick up any pens (or other writing products) on this trip. My pen box Leroy is getting pretty full already. I don’t think I have room for much more in that box, unless I upgrade to an even bigger storage box, which Jian would be very unhappy about. Otherwise, I can’t wait to use all of these new things that I got. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Crying Lightning” by Arctic Monkeys

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As you may very well know by now, I have been cramming my arts & crafts box, which I lovingly named Pierre, with all sorts of washi & masking tapes. It’s gotten to the point where I can barely close Pierre‘s lid. I’ve been using washi & decorative masking tapes a lot more in my stationery crafts, & I’ve even used them in spicing up a few Christmas decorations. When I brought back my new batch of washi tapes from my Asia trip, I was partly thinking that Jian would only complain that I never use these tapes, & partly thinking about ways I could use my new tapes. So, I decided to come up with a DIY project & decorate a few of my blank notebooks.

I had got the inspiration from a vlogger on YouTube who showed off a custom hand-drawn notebook that her friend had designed for her. I was so inspired by this YouTube vlogger, but alas, I cannot draw to save my life. I can barely draw stick figures, no matter how much I practice. So…instead of drawing a custom cover art, I thought about using other materials, & that’s where my washi tapes came into play. Of course, using washi & decorative masking tapes to customize something really doesn’t need any explanation, but I figured I’d show you what I’ve done & how I did it.

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1. scissors, 2. blank notebook (or any object with a blank, smooth surface), 3. decorative masking tapes of your choice

Basically, there’s three materials being used, & approximately three steps to decorating the item of your choice. First you select the decorative tapes you want to use. Next, you cut a strip of tape to the desired length of the object. At this point in the project, you can also cut your tape into various shapes & patterns. For example, you can cut the ends of the strip of tape to look like a ribbon. Finally, you affix the tape to your object. Yes, that was entirely obvious, but maybe this will give someone out there in our world wide universe some inspiration for themselves.

And…Here is the final result.

DIY notebooks

I bought these three Moleskin notebooks from Target & tried to use as many of the washi tapes from my Asia trip as possible. The first notebook is a sweet pastel theme. You can’t really see it from my photo, but the notebook is supposed to be a soft pink. I used some fabric masking tapes with some paper washi tapes to give the cover a little bit of texture. I wanted to choose colors that would stand out, but would also match the pink notebook.

The second notebook is a khaki color. At this stage of my DIY project, I couldn’t think of any specific design or pattern, until I came across my London themed tape roll. The inspiration hit me like a ton of bricks & I turned this boring notebook into a London/UK theme. I was especially proud of myself when I was able to add in the part of the tape that says “This is London“. I thought it was very fitting (& very much a lucky coincidence) that the words ended up on the bottom corner of the cover.

The final notebook in the set is a lavender color. I had already decided on using my special edition Sanrio stamp tape. I was trying to get as many of the characters on the cover as possible. I even tried to fill the entire cover with the stamp tape, but the band of the tape was too wide, so I wasn’t able to fill the cover completely without some overlap, which would cover up the stamp design. So, I ended up leaving the top portion of the cover blank, which I think makes the design look even better than if I had filled the whole cover. Filling the whole cover would have made it look to busy anyway. I added a few of my own Hello Kitty stickers just for fun, & there you have it!

I feel like although I have a very creative imagination, & I’m pretty good at decorating cards & stationery, I’m not very good at executing arts & crafts projects or DIY projects. My intentions come from a good place, but I can never really quite make it take shape. So, for me to actually finish a DIY project & it looking pretty good, I’m quite happy. Maybe this is a sign for more arts & crafts projects in the future. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“The Only One” by The Black Keys

The Only One

Oh Cheese It.JPG

“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.

collage2

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.

collage1.png

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.

collage3.png

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:

“She Said, She Said” by The Black Keys

She Said She Said

 

Boy, greeting card companies like Hallmark™ must love me!  I am the customer that keeps on giving (my money, that is).  I am such a sucker for any type of greeting card or postcard with a cute design, illustration, graphic or photo on it.  No matter what the occasion is, I have a card for that (except for, say, Sympathy or Get Well).  I don’t quite know what it is about those awesome little bi-folds of card-stock that keeps me coming back for more, but be it 1 or 100, I will not stop collecting them.

It’s not only about collecting, I also use the cards I buy.  I am constantly making/writing cards for friends & family.  For example, one year, a friend of mine was really upset over the passing of her pet, so I sent her a note to convey my thoughts.  It was a serious matter, but all those With Sympathy cards you see at the store just seemed too heavy & sorrowful.  So, I decided to lighten the dark mood by using a Bon Voyage (a.k.a. going away) card…to say one of those “This is not a ‘goodbye’, just a long ‘see you later’ ” type things.  That’s what I do…it’s a small example of how I use all those darn cards I’ve hoarded over the years.

So, after all that’s been said, I recently came back from a trip to Los Angeles.  My companion & I were entertaining some relatives visiting from overseas.  We took them to a new favorite hang-out spot, the Abbott-Kinney district in Venice Beach.  While we were there, I stopped by my new favorite shop Urbanic Paper Boutique.  As you all may know by know, I always find a way to sniff out new stationery shops every time I go on a trip.  So, while I was there, I couldn’t resist getting a few cards & things.  You couldn’t expect me to leave empty-handed, could you?  Nope, I didn’t think so.  Now for the reveal… Dun, dun, da-dun… 

urbanic 1

1. blank card w/ fruits, metallic hearts & striped circles graphic
2. “Wedding Day Wishes” card for an upcoming wedding of my friends in Taiwan
3. blank French-themed card that says “Bonjour” on the cover
4. blank “World’s Best Husband” medal card (that I might give to my husband soon)
5. “Happy Birthday” card w/ a hatchback car & presents illustration
6. black & gold decorative washi-tape w/ a honeycomb/link type pattern
7. color swatch inspired bookmark (it was free)

Here’s a close-up look at the washi-tape pattern:

close-up

close-up view

 

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