My Love for Life-Like Inanimate Objects

I’ve done a few “Look Like a Princess But Don’t Act Like One” segments now. And this month, I’ve concluded that I would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast if I had to choose a “Disney princess” to be. I admittedly do a good number of my postings on book reviews too. And who doesn’t want a sexy beast?

Click here to read the film review I wrote on Beauty and the Beast in April

I’ve been raving to my friends about my recent purchase of forks and knives after I realized that I was down to just one fork (I only started out with two when I moved into my current apartment to start a new life two and a half years ago). And the one and only fork left had a bent tip. Voila, the fork and knives I got from Paris at Pylones (where I stumbled upon during my Paris trip in 2015):

The knives are male and the forks are female. If you take a closer look they all have faces (and booties when you flip them over on the back!) And the knives have a slight bulge for a package. Gosh, it all made me laugh so much!

As some of you also may recall, from that first visit to Pylones I also fell in love with the 58Products Tassen collection and have their tea set and bowls. I mentioned in my book that I would like to eventually collect all of them! This is a portion of my growing collection:

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As you can see from the photo above, I’m also a big fan of having silicone lids for my tea cups. Pylones does usually have a number of choices in stock but I’ve also been fortunate enough to stumble upon on them in other places now too:

Click here to buy the Bumble Bee, the Kitty Cat, or the Bunny Rabbit ones I found!

Eating and tea time should be a joyous time and it certainly has become so for me. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference.

-M

Book Review: Three Souls by Janie Chang

For this month’s book club meeting the ladies honored my book suggestion by reading this novel that was originally gifted to me by another lovely lady and I had been wanting to read it for a while now (when people find out you love to read you become that woman everyone loves to gift books to and you end up with so many that you no longer have to seek new books on your own).

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(For the purpose of privacy, I have blurred out the faces of the other book club members)

And to nourish our own souls, we indulged on high tea. Per tradition, the book club documents the books we read every month with a photo of my gloved hands holding up the book we read so I hand modeled in juxtaposition to beautiful tea cups:

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(Click here to purchase the gloves I am wearing)

The ladies of the book club are in agreement that the novel illustrates the enduring strength women had to go through in being married into families during the time period (the 1920s and 30s) and making the most of their situation or the hardships and consequence they endured when they chose other paths. It does also explore the concept of “what if” in how different each character’s lives would have turned out to be had the protagonist Leiyin not interfered.

Though the story has tragedy (ie. the novel does start off at the funeral of Leiyin so death is a constant overshadowing presence throughout the whole book) I was pleasantly surprised at how the women treated other women and their children with respect and kindness since mother-in-laws are traditionally very mean to their daughter-in-laws in the Chinese culture and even in modern times (regardless of the culture) stepmothers aren’t always nice to their stepchildren either. And while a majority of the prominent male characters turn out to be horrible, Leiyin’s husband Baizhen was thankfully an exceptional spouse (and student) to her and a father to their daughter. In a way, it all balanced out with the dark sides of the story about all the passion, secrets and betrayal.

The book pokes at the age old question about whether it’s better to lead a peaceful but long, dull life or risk a short-lived life of passion and hardships. Though I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people end up having a mix of both to a certain extent. And while some situations are beyond our control we must all live (or die) with the choices we make.

Overall, the book did end up having a good amount of twists and turns even if you know from the very beginning that the main character is dead. And as I was progressing through the book I did keep wanting to know what happens next. In a way, a lot of the book club ladies agreed that we all still felt that way when we reached the end of the book since there were questions hanging around of what ended up happening to this character or that character or how things were going to ultimately happen (like movie endings when it’s ended before you really get a chance to see what actually happens so you are left to imagine what you think would have happened).

I would give the book a letter grade A-

M

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

IMG_1952One would make the assumption that with times changing (along with the technology and the introduction of online dating) that things have changed in the land of pursuing romance in the modern world.

However, in reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, that the author and my fellow book club ladies are in agreement that many things have not changed. Though a good chunk of communication that used to be done via phone calls have now been replaced by text message exchanges, that silly rule of waiting to call or text someone so that you don’t appear too eager/desperate still is very much commonly practiced.

Though before the internet it’s probably very unlikely that men you didn’t really know yet would send you a dick pic enclosed in an envelope to your house. As Ansari pointed out, unless you had your own photo development set-up at home most places would not have printed out a dick pic for you during the times when photos were all taken on film anyways.

Needless to say, this book definitely lead to quite an interesting an extensive discussion amongst the ladies of the book club in regards to dating in general. We all agreed that we found the field research done in Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Paris fascinating. Living in a region of the States where we have people from all over the world, it put things into perspective of how it would be a cultural shock for both parties involved when dating someone who have different views on things like cheating, chasing, etc. In spite of these differences, it is definitely universal that marriage is becoming commonly delayed in all of these countries if ever pursued. Thank goodness for the pressure easing off for us to get married by a certain age, especially for us women.

One of the things I appreciated Ansari doing in the book is the thorough illustration of the pros and cons of technology in the modern world of romance. A lot of us remember the social stigma that used to exist about meeting someone online back when online dating was still relatively new. Such stigma still exists for newer forms of online dating such as Tinder where the common view for that App today that it’s more for casual hookups. But it was interesting to have it be pointed out in the book that when we meet someone in person (ie. at a bar) you do pretty much the same thing where you make a snap judgment/decision as to whether you are interested in that person based on something superficial like their physical appearance. So the argument was that something like Tinder would be much closer to how we would decide whether we were interested in someone or not in real life.

It admittedly has been less than a year since I have owned a smart phone and one of the features I did appreciate immediately was the ability to block phone numbers. I can delete the phone numbers I used to list as “Stalker #1,” “Stalker #2,” so on. And while I am not someone interested in getting to know someone I just met via a texting dialogue, I do think it’s nice to have the kind of ease now in being able to share things like photos and videos that you can take anywhere with someone you want to share them with. But in case it wasn’t already clear to any man reading this, please don’t send an unsolicited dick pic to a lady you just met or have not even met yet.

-M

Journaling with Self Kindness

I journal every night without fail before going to bed.

This past week I had a very emotional moment as I kept going back and forth in my journal entry that night between how I was really feeling vs how I thought I “should” be feeling. I think in the self-improvement/self-motivating culture that sort of mentality is common. You want to remain positive and grateful so you try to shut down your negative feelings and emotions.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore, driving myself insane, and Skyped with a very good friend in Germany. She then proceeded to make me a gift that I have since then printed out to paste on my journal cover:

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I want to be that kind of friend/person who is there for someone when they really need me, the one that makes you feel like you matter. So that is why I choose to be kind and thoughtful as much as possible —- Because one person can make the difference.

And as I refer to myself as my “twin bestie” in my book, my friend in Germany gifted this book cover to remind me to be kind to my twin bestie too.

-M

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I admit I have a celebrity crush on Trevor Noah. Not that I would hope to be one of those crazy screaming fans if I ever had the chance to meet him. But now that I have read his book it does make me appreciate him that much more beyond the charming sense of humor he evokes on the Daily Show. On the Daily Show he makes fun of Donald Trump but in the book he manages to bring humor amidst some very serious dire situations he’s encountered in his own upbringing. And a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously is a good thing.

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Click here to buy the book Born a Crime

There are people who are “street smart” and those who are “book smart.” It’s very evident that Trevor Noah acquired a lot of “street smart” intelligence with all the different ways he learned to make money from a young age (I do also respect someone who is resourceful like that).

At the same time, it was also very evident that his mother wanted to make sure he was educated to be “book smart” as well — And be very loyal to religion as she was. I personally am not religious so my take on Jesus would probably be a bit more similar to Trevor Noah’s but I certainly enjoyed the debates he had with his mother about God and loved how they were able to love each other regardless of their differences. I would also like to believe that regardless of what/who you believe in that there is something to be said about faith and the magic or miracles of life that sometimes seem to happen as it did in Trevor Noah’s mother’s life.

One of the things that fascinated me about this book was learning more about the history of South Africa. Most of us know of Nelson Mandela and the period of Apartheid ending on a superficial level. From reading the book, I learned that I too would have been classified under the same group as Trevor Noah in South Africa since the Japanese were classified as whites and the Chinese were classified as blacks. Never in my life have I ever thought of myself as half white and half black so that was quite the twist! Then again, I also would have never imagined the name Hitler being common anywhere in the world after World War II.

The chapter that had me laughing so hard it got me hooked on the book right away was chapter 3. Laughter is indeed good medicine and it felt so good to laugh like that. A great book and a delicious hot cup of tea is the perfect combination to curl up with on a rainy (or a non-rainy) day.

-M

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

Nowadays it’s common for movies to be based on books so it wasn’t a complete surprise when I saw my friend scrolling through movie choices for the night and I discovered that the book I was reading was already turned into a film. I have not seen the film yet as I wanted to finish the book first. So this review is solely based on my experience with reading the novel.

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A Man Called Ove was a suggestion made by one of the book club members at the last meeting as she was in the mood for something “heartwarming.” Admittedly, I thought that the book was anything but [heartwarming] when I began reading it. Even when I was able to start seeing how it would potentially become heartwarming, the story felt quite heartbreaking because of the continuous unveiling of hardships the protagonist/main character Ove had gone through in life prior to the present day the story was taking place.

So if you are going through a heartbreak yourself, this would be a great book to read and cry to. With the ending being heartwarming it would also give you that comforting fuzzy feeling afterwards which would also probably help.

Personally, the story also resonated with me with themes such as being able to choose your non-blood family or being able to overcome loneliness and finding a living purpose after experiencing tremendous loss.

I do not like to spoil it for people by giving away the whole story if you have not seen the movie or read the book and you plan on doing so at some point. So I won’t go into details about the premises.

But as a reader, I will say that this was one of those books that starts to grow on you as you progress through the story. So you increasingly start reading more pages per sitting. Towards the end, I just didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. It wasn’t like the ending was unexpected, but when you get a glimpse of a heartwarming ending you want to see all of it.

I think some of it was timing too. Even though it doesn’t snow where I live, the snowy setting in the book puts me in that winter mood. And the holidays can be a time where people go through all those range of emotions of feeling lonely from being alone or the warmth of being with those you love.

So here’s to cuddling up with a nice book and a cup of hot tea this winter,

M

Book Review: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

My favorite Disney movie is The Lion King and my favorite Pixar film is Up. That was my way of breaking the ice at the latest book club meeting upon suggesting that we all share our favorite Disney and Pixar films.

Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar so the book started off talking more about Pixar but as a child he was very much inspired by Walt Disney’s work and did discuss the cultural differences between the two places he observed upon becoming president of Disney as well. I also have a lot of respect for Catmull for continuing to keep Disney and Pixar separate from one another (ie. not utilizing help from either side when things get tough).

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Click here to buy the book Creativity Inc.
As someone who has been on the receiving end of the completed Disney or Pixar films, I do now have a newfound appreciation for how much work and time commitment it takes to finish an animated film. And I agree with the dedication Catmull believes in doing research on your subject matter. It was impressive to know that the Pixar employees took up archery lessons for the making of Brave or the visits to college campuses to create the campus vibe in Monsters University.

It was also interesting to read about what the original story line was before the films became what they eventually evolved into or how titles are chosen for the films (or how the name “Pixar” was chosen, for that matter!) The experience is almost like a literary version of a behind-the-scenes documentary.

There was an extensive portrayal of Steve Jobs in the book, which was different from when I read about him in his authorized biography by Walter Isaacson. It was an account of his relationship with Steve so it’s also a particular era of Steve’s life. And the way he seemed to be viewed at Apple in Isaacson’s book was a controlling difficult man which was very polar to how he was viewed as being laissez-faire with Pixar. To be fair, Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple whereas he was an investor of Pixar and chose to believe in Catmull and John Lasseter’s  vision for the company so I think it’s only natural that he acted the way he did.

As evident by this blog, I too am a being who thrives on expressing my creativity. Whether it’s my writing, cooking, or fashion choices – I love to be my artsy self. And I don’t always play it safe – I think it’s a given if you are continuing to be creative. You can of course still continue to create without being creative. But creating and being creative are different things.

However, I think the importance of continuing to enjoy creating should not be discounted and one should not stop him/herself from creating out of the fear of not being “creative enough.” I think Elizabeth Gilbert put it well when she inspired me to write my own book upon reading her book Big Magic where she talks about the special and unique touch we give things even when we do things that have been done before. And as Catmull put it, every Pixar film starts off as an “ugly baby.”

So here’s to letting our fabulous freak flags fly ever so freely,

M