Sunday, January 29, 2012


Youthberry + Orange
Afternoon Tea

Oh how I've missed these days.

Friday, January 27, 2012



If only I could step into these photographs and live in them myself!


sakura zaka

Twinkling Castle, Edinburgh


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

( hui+ )

♥ While I was in Japan, my host sister tried to get me to help her make origami paper cranes for her volleyball team leader and senpai. One thousand of them. That didn't go so well and mine turned out looking more like smushed ducks. But I'm determined to get better! I'm pretty fair with some other origami shapes, and have taken to folding little hearts during my spare moments. Origami paper can be extremely gorgeous!

Gearing up for February; January always feels to me to be the longest month. I think the snow turned to brown slush starts to get on my nerves midway through and it's right about this time that I start getting antsy for spring. February is at least a start, has the illusion of being a short month, and has a holiday to keep my busy!

♥ Not gonna lie, this chocolate peppermint cupcake was one of the most delicious things I've ever had.

little loves
when ideas come to you in the strangest of places ♥ a newfound love for dijon mustard ♥ planning new blog posts ♥ chai lattes ♥ seeing friends on the bus ♥ the smell of fresh baked bread ♥ getting in touch with some HIF alumni ♥ watching Pens games with April ♥ getting a sneak preview of Sky Tapes from Animals Over Berlin

What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tribulations of a Japanese Major

Choosing to major in Japanese has been one of the most fulfilling decisions of my life; not only has it been a personal goal of mine to learn the Japanese language, I've met so many friends (both in the country and outside of it), challenged myself both academically and mentally, and had an amazing adventure abroad. And yet there is one thing that constantly rises up from the depths to haunt me - anime.

I've met some truly amazing people through Pitt's Japanese department, not to mention culture-related clubs in Oakland as well as across the country, who all appreciate Japanese culture, and yes, enjoy pop culture such as watching anime, reading manga, listening to Japanese music, or are fans of Japanese street fashion. I enjoy some of these things myself, and while I love hearing of people's passions, there is a difference between a passion and an obsession that often gets muddled up when one hears that someone is studying Japanese, often on account of a few particular types of people who take such a stereotype and run with it. And boy, do they run.

I'm talking about the stereotypical, cat-ear wearing, tail-wearing, tissues-stuffed-up-the-nose, relates-everything-(even their green beans)-to-anime "otaku" (yes, there is someone in my class that does all of this, to the point of being a distraction from the class with he/she's inappropriate comments and outrageous "Japanophile" behavior). I'm not against anime, I'm not against loving Japanese culture or having a passion, but I'm tired of my major being given a poor reputation by those who take things to the extreme. There are fans of certain anime just like there are fans of certain prime time television series - and that's great! But anime isn't the sole thing that defines the Japanese major, yet it has  too often it becomes the highlight.

unknown source

The second most frequent question I get asked as a Japanese major (behind "Are you going to be a translator?") is "Oh, what's your favorite anime?", as if liking anime is a requirement for my degree. I love that the Japanese don't reserve animation for strictly children's movies like we do in the United States (which is slowly branching out as well), and while yes, I do enjoy the occasional anime, I can't tell you a single thing about current anime trends. The last full anime I've watched was Magic Knight Rayearth and that's old as dirt by today's standards. Yet in my being a Japanese major it is assumed I love me some anime to death.

I've watched a few more recent anime and even bought some manga to brush up on my reading skills while I was in Japan; I've gone to conventions and have even presented a panel on Japanese street fashion (though I was quite inexperienced at the time); I've attended EGL meets in Pittsburgh; I'm an avid fan of Japanese rock music (and Asian music in general); and I sometimes play DDR in public. Some of these interests have inspired me to pursue Japanese as a major, and some are a result of being interested in an area and exploring it, but these are not the defining reasons as to why I study Japanese, nor who I am as a person. In fact, I'd probably still be interested in most of these hobbies whether they were related to Japan or Antarctica.

I study Japanese because I love languages, because I'm intrigued by a culture that marries so much modernity and so much tradition, because I love a challenge, because I love the literature, the sounds of the language, and the history. And Sailor Moon. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Words of Wisdom

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.” 
- Neil Gaiman

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Things I Love Thursday


♥ I have so many classes in the Japanese department this term (and by many, I mean two, but it's been two years since I've even been in the building!) which means getting to see a bunch of old friends. I forgot how much fun it's been!

♥ I'm taking time playing through Little Big Planet 2, and not only is it a fun little treat to do a level or two every now and then, the levels are AMAZING. The story line isn't really necessary (we just enjoy playing the levels, more like the first game) but the levels are quite ridiculous: camel lasers, bouncing robot bunnies, the ability to throw cakes - it's too hilarious!

♥ On that note, I finally bought Dragon Age: Origins and I'm having a blast playing through it. I haven't played an RPG for the Xbox 360 yet and after playing more puzzle games and FPSs lately, it's nice to get back to my roots. Plus, I'm playing a Dalish warrior and right now just loving it

little loves
♥ finding adorable little bird tracks in the snow! ♥ the Civil Wars (thanks for the recommendation @cupquake03) ♥ Mockingjay ♥ $12 for a dozen Dozen cupcakes - now just to strategically plan when I should spend the Groupon ♥ brushing up with CodeYear ♥ knit Kindle covers ♥ meal planning ♥ taking part in #janphotoaday ♥ a rekindled love for Instagram

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goals: Star Charts


Back in December, Sara of Sarbear's Journey posted about using sticker charts to keep track of her goals (like the reading charts in elementary school!) and though I'm not quite sure how something I've done since, well, elementary school, slipped my mind, I figured I'd take her cue and try it out for goal progress.

Mine's not quite as large as Sara's is, but I figured I'd give it a go for the month of January and see how things turn out. It's been a great motivating tool so far, and I'm seriously considering doing it monthly, adjusting the goals to my needs at the time

I feel so much better now that I've upped my yoga and started walking a mile despite the cold weather. Jogging it would be ideal, but I'm not going to push myself where I'm not comfortable yet. I also love that I've been able to incorporating reading for pleasure into my daily routine, which is something I honestly thought I'd never be able to do during the term! Aside from my lofty goal of eating a salad a day (it's not really practical to buy lettuce and such at the store because it usually goes bad before I can use it all! It makes more sense right now to eat one while I'm out, but since I've been doing so well with packing my lunches it seems like it'd just be a trade off at this point...) I'm quite pleased with how things are going!

I busted out my lovely colored pens that I use for my planner and I'm currently at 88 of a total 248! If I make it to 175 stars by the end of the month (that way I have some flexibility to form new routines, but not be devastated if my schedule doesn't allow for pleasure reading one night, for instance) I'm absolutely treating myself to this adorable blazer from LOFT!

What do you do to stay motivated?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grad Apps: DONE!

Whew! It's official -- all of my graduate school applications (all whopping two of them) are submitted, just waiting on a few supplemental materials to make their way through the mail :D Now, (the worst part to someone who's impatient) to wait...Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things I Love Thursday


♥ I have the most caring and wonderful boss and coworkers in the world. And a truly amazing family. Not to go into too much detail, but it's been a rough week with lots of family things to attend to, and just knowing that those around me are so attentive and thoughtful despite not having the best of times means the world.

♥ My MooMini cards came in the mail already! I wanted something little for the blog and these are not only the perfect size, but simple, gorgeous quality, shipped extremely fast, and only ended up costing me $8! Even at full price (roughly $20) they're quite a steal. I heard of the company first during Amy of Lemon and Raspberry's recent blog party and ironically enough found a coupon for them the next day - talk about perfect timing!

♥ This term's classes have me finally back in the Japanese department on mid-campus and means lots of classes with old friends! The major is so small that often, we students know everyone in our department, but almost travel with our own "class" that doesn't change often from year to year. Every now and then, a few students take a summer intensive and end up breaking off from that class, but some of us have finally caught back up in Capstone and even one of the new electives. So excited to see Tom, Alana, and Anna again!

little loves
Misfits t-shirt (despite loving the band, the classic design itself is just perfect!) ♥ my Filofax - I don't know where I'd be this week without it. Probably on another planet ♥ finding the perfect, deep soup bowl ♥ rereading Catching Fire22/52 ♥ watching episodes of New Girl online ♥ overcast days ♥ sleeping in ♥ starting back to class ♥ Real Simple magazine ♥ orders from LUSH in the mail!

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

link love

Some lovely links for you to peruse!
♥ In the spirit of the winter season -- nerdflakes
♥ Here's what happens when kids with stickers let loose on a white room...
♥ A Bullet Bill KitchenAid mixer - mixer art has to be some of the coolest things I've seen lately!
♥ France has Star Wars burgers. When can I pack my bags? 
 Felicia Day talks about why she does what she does for the IAWTV Awards

Have you found any neat links lately?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Goals

happy new year !
For me, the word 'resolution' is full of failure. It is full of holiday excuses, month-only gym joining, and perpetually enslaved to the month of January. But the simple little act of rechristening my 'resolutions' to 'goals' creates something that I want to strive year for weeks, months, even years. Goals seem more attainable, more realistic, more mutable. Goals can change with who you are as a person, align with your values in March only to be reshaped again in September. And better yet when your goals, when possible, turn into good habits.

I wasn't originally going to follow suit and come up for any overarching goals or mantras for the new year. I figured my 101 in 1001 project was enough to keep me busy; yet the first few days of 2012 felt empty for some reason. Perhaps it's best to have sat on my goals and made them more personal, more real, without the temptation of setting superficial resolutions on the first of the month. There are some personal goals that cannot be summed up in a neat little list of to-do projects and, list-lover that I am, just thinking of the things I would like this year to become has made me giddy with excitement.

Creativity: I was named "most artistic" in my high school yearbook. I spent 3/4 of my senior year working on art projects in the art wing or taking painting classes for fun during study hall. I painted our prom photo backdrop and murals around the school. And now it's been four years since I've even looked at a paintbrush, much less picked one up (though I did paint a small picture for Mum for Christmas, which is perhaps what really threw me over the edge at getting out of my slump). I'm one of those people who looks back on old sketchbooks and doesn't see growth, but really bad art that isn't perfect and must be burned. I need to get over my perfectionism, just keep something daily to feel inspired again, and really hone my style.

My high school evidently was not aware of the ability to resize pictures...and I was evidently channelling the grunge scene that day...

Plan meals/Buy less cheese: This may sound silly, but I've discovered the root of my unhealthy eating. Between running through the drive-thru window after a late night at work or class and currently having no less than ten different cheeses in my refrigerator, it's safe to say I have a bit of a problem.

Offense number one lies in my rather unreliable schedule. Working retail, there are nights I work until six, and nights I don't get home until ten. And with classes scattered throughout, most nights I'm not in the mood to cook anything and stop at the Wendy's conveniently located on my route home. I've gotten better at packing my lunch, but still find myself in a place where I have no idea what to eat. And that's where Wendy's happens.

On top of the spontaneous fast food (that doesn't even really agree with me), the meals I do plan are still somewhat helter skelter and I end up with random ingredients that either go bad before I can use them in another meal, or specialty items that I'll never use again. I like making interesting dishes, but have trouble coordinating them, or reusing leftover ingredients without feeing like I'm making the same meal two nights in a row.

Not only can it get ludicrously expensive, but I really should not be eating cheese with every meal. I blame this on being raised by macaroni & cheese until the age of eleven. Now, I don't hate fruits and veggies, but until recently I've been more or less a picky eater. I grew up on broccoli, applesauce, macaroni, and chicken nuggets. Now that I've branched out, I can't seem to kick the habit and have trouble finding delicious sounding recipes outside of the realm of pasta with some kind of cheese. I don't want to give up cheese forever, but it's time I expand my horizons, put a stopper in my cheese budget, and  find some good, healthy, quick alternatives. But the string cheese can totally stay.

Exercise: Most cliche goal of all time. But really, I feel better when I get some physical activity in, don't start heaving after 4 flights of stairs, and plus, I have a snazzy new yoga mat. Aside from yoga and walking the park trails (which is somewhat hindered when it's -3 degrees out), I haven't found much that I enjoy doing or can do within the confines of a part-time retail job/senior year school schedule.

Don't be a hermit: I'm not the "typical" college student; I don't really do parties or going out in Oakland. Honestly, I prefer to stay home and have dinosaur documentary marathons or play video games with friends. Or by myself. Which isn't to say I don't enjoy my friends and time spent with them, but with my schedule, I'm either exhausted by the time I get home, on a completely different schedule as everyone else, and without weekends to spare. I really need to make an effort to spend time with the friends I really cherish, even if that means planning a day to do it. I feel like once my schedule becomes a little more regulated this won't be as hard, and though I've gotten better with fairly frequent girls' nights with April, there's more to be done. Surely, Stevie B! and I can squeeze in more than a 20-minute coffee break once a week...

Internship: I never really entertained the idea of an internship while in school, either because of not really knowing what I wanted to do with my degree, or because, once essentially a pre-education major, how do you have a relevant intern experience as a teacher before being legally certified to work with students? So I brushed the idea off. I'd love to have the experience, but truth is, to finish my degrees I've never really had the time to work one into my school schedule, and it always seemed like there was nothing an English Lit/Japanese major was qualified for without the added help of a Journalism minor or business certificate (more things I didn't have time to add on - I would stay in school forever if you'd let me). And so I always felt that there was nothing for me. But I've resolved to at least try applying for some, since I may have this summer off, and publishing and editorial work has really sparked my interest. It never hurts to try!

To me, a resolution has an expiration date of January 31st, if I can hold out that long, but a 'goal' is a vehicle for change. A great, hulking, ocean liner of change.

What's your mantra for 2012?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

♥ The holidays are nice, but having my routine disrupted starts to take its toll after a while. It just feels good to get back to a normal schedule with normal meals, normal days (rather than a stretch of 20-some days off), and normal spending habits. Not that I mind all of the cake I ate in about a span of 2 weeks. Well, a little. It feels good to get back into the swing of things after getting hit with the quadruple whammy of Christmas-Dad's Birthday-New Year's-Sister's Birthday.

♥ Despite my seemingly loathing the holiday mayhem above, I don't mind the holidays themselves. I got to spend New Year's with good friends, just having a low-key kind of night, ringing in the new year. Not to mention a surprise birthday on top of it (fun fact: a birthday cake fits superbly in a turkey roaster when the box melds to your refrigerator)!

♥ I was filling out paperwork on the second of the month and wrote '2012' on the first try! Maybe I'm blowing my happiness out of proportion by being ecstatic about such a simple thing, but hey, I'm a simple gal. I like getting things right on the first try, and I don't think I ever manage to do this in the month of January.

little loves
fresh snow, though not quite enough to be pretty yet ♥ hardcover books ♥ my giant 74 oz water bottle ♥ surprise parties for friends ♥ many, many blankets! ♥ curly fries ♥ tracking my goals via star chart (more on that later!) ♥ creative thinking on the fly ♥ comfy sweatpants ♥ Moo mini cards - and finding a coupon for the a mere day after discovery! ♥ deceivingly warm days in the middle of winter

What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012



My stepmom threw Pa a surprise party for his 50th birthday last week. Glad to say he was truly surprised!

Pa & Elaina


Christmas Lights

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pinterest: Organization Ideas

With all of the New Year's resolutions about, January has always seemed to be a good time for setting goals and getting organized. And what better way to organize your thoughts and tasks than a good 'ol Pinterest board full of DIYs and tricks for getting things in order and cleaning up - physically and mentally! I'm not in a position to enact all of these tricks just yet (like the cute little gift wrapping stations I've been drooling over), but I've got them all saved away for someday!

What are you doing to stay organized this year?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ringing in 2012


Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとう!

It's January! A fresh start to a whole new two-thousand and twelve. It's so strange that after four years of college I'm finally entering the mindset where my year starts in January and not in August, in line with the new school year. I'm still caught in the crossroads of the two ideas, but more and more I find myself using January as my starting point.

It's a huge year for me as I graduate this coming April! It doesn't seem to be as bright and shiny as I thought, mainly because I'll be heading right back to school, but moving from something you've been doing for the past few years and have kind of settled in with to something new and more challenging has always been fun for me.

I still have a good chunk of my 101 in 1001 to tackle this year, and while I'll still have to see how my class schedule turns out, I should be able to really make some big changes in my personal habits all in the midst of writing my Japanese capstone paper, taking two literature classes and TA-ing another. January seems fairly low-key though, so far at least, with a few birthdays in the next few days and just some time to adjust!

2011 was a big year for me; I'm past the stage of "identity-searching", but still wasn't sure where I sat in my beliefs and what path I wanted to take in years to come. I feel more grounded and stabilized now in understanding what I want out of life. I dare say, things have changed a lot over the past few years. With 2012 on the horizon, I know it will be a year of new beginnings and new challenges - challenges in my schooling and out, in sorting out life, and the little things as well - there's a lot I look forward to accomplishing and a lot of projects I hope to tackle!

What are your big plans for 2012? Are you a fan of the new and exciting, or do you stick to your routines?