Tag Archives: penpal

Stationery and Kawaii Madness!

October 16.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

For stationery and kawaii enthusiasts, you’ll be glad to know that I made a wonderful discovery during my visit to Kingston, Ontario for the Thanksgiving long weekend holiday last week.

While visiting the artsy core of downtown Kingston, I accidentally came across an independently-owned stationery-and-kawaii-filled shop called, Midori. I would have passed right by it if I didn’t see the painted sign outside, which said stationery in elegant, cursive print. Thankfully, I noticed it enough to stop mid-step before heading toward the nearest Starbucks Coffee shop.

Once inside, I was transported into a wonderful, little room painted in pastels featuring a variety of kawaii products imported from China, Korea, and Japan that included stuffed, plush toys, jewellery, mugs, bento boxes, handbags, and loads of notebooks, paper stationery, postcards, and pens.

I chatted with Midori’s owner and proprietor, Tina Yan, who opened the store in October of last year (2013) and discovered that not only do we share the same birthday month, but that we’re equally enthusiastic about kawaii products!

Canadian-born with cultural roots from China, Tina, thought it was important to bring popular kawaii goods from Asian countries to provide Canadian customers with products solely created and distributed in South Asian countries—which suits me perfectly fine since I don’t see the possibility of travelling to South Asia any time soon. How else will I deal with my stationery and kawaii addiction?

Tina Yan, Owner of Midori Shop, in front of Midori rabbit logo design. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Tina Yan, Owner of Midori Shop, in front of Midori rabbit logo design. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

While chatting with Tina about the possibility of featuring her and her shop on my blog, she was kind enough to allow me to take a number of photographs in her store while I searched for items that I might purchase. Here are some of the wonderful kawaii items I found in her shop:

Notebooks, red-haired girls x2. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Notebooks, red-haired girls x2. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

Kawaii black cat plush toys. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii black cat plush toys. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

Kawaii cat notebook. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii cat notebook. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

Kawaii bento box made in Japan. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii bento box made in Japan. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

Kawaii linen bag, Girl on Bicycle, baby blue. $30.00 CAD. (The one I plan on buying when I return to the shop next month!) (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii linen bag, Girl on Bicycle, baby blue. $30.00 CAD. (The one I plan on buying when I return to the shop next month!) (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

I was so pleased with this little shop, I returned twice in one day and bought the following, cute products to use for my own, personal writing and snail mail:

My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl notebooks x4, assorted. $1.15 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl notebooks x4, assorted. $1.15 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

These pretty 4″x5.5″ notebooks from the My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl line created by languo is simply exquisite. I was drawn to the art cover designs, which features a different girl in each portrait. Inside, the paper is brown, blank, and consists of 24 pages.

My only regret about the design is that there is no Asian girl with black hair on a cover. Surely, a Beauty Girl would also come from Asia, right?

While I’m excited about my purchase, these notebooks seem far too pretty for me to use right away. I have yet to decide what to write in them! In the meantime, they will sit at my desk on display.

Kawaii gel ink pens, assorted. From $1.50-$1.99 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii gel ink pens, assorted. From $1.50-$1.99 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

After testing a number of pens in stock at Midori, I decided on buying the light blue, gel-ink pen with the bear cap, 0.38mm fine point, with “love dolls every day” printed on its casing; the Fihfio floral print, gel-ink pen with a cap that says, “Your happy story;” and my favourite of the three, the BCO black, ink gel pen with the sad ghost cap, 0.4mm fine point. It runs quite smoothly with a dark imprint and is the current pen I use to write all my snail mail letters.

London postcard set. $3.75 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
London postcard set. $3.75 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

These London photograph postcards came in a set of 18. The photographs are not only lovely renditions of London’s famous city, but the paper itself is slightly glossy with an embossed texture, which give them a far more realistic feel than other glossed postcards and reprints.

For 18 postcards of good photographs for the low price of $3.50 CAD per set, you simply can’t lose, which is why when I return I’ll be buying a few more packages!

“Got a Mail” pink kawaii agenda with cards and stickers. $7.45 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
“Got a Mail” pink kawaii agenda with cards and stickers. $7.45 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

The “Got a Mail” pink agenda is not only blank, but provides the user with both a monthly and weekly date format. While the user must fill in dates for himself/herself, numbers are listed at the top margin to provide for accuracy and a little help.

At the back of the agenda is a number of blank pages for notes and includes a few cards and stickers for decoration.

The front cover also allows the user to change its design with the cards included.

I can’t wait to start using this agenda/diary in the new year.

Kawaii Cooky Mini Mate Notebook: Travel Story. $1.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Cooky Mini Mate Notebook: Travel Story. $1.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

While this notebook does not match the My Fairy Tale World series, I could not resist the adorable Cooky character with her squinted, smiling eyes and huge red hood.

She reminds me of an Asian version of the Little Red Riding Hood character. Just look at her sitting in her suitcase!

I snatched this notebook at the recommendation of Tina who also thinks Cooky is adorable.

The paper inside is white, lined, and contains 46 pages.

Because its titled, “Travel Story,” I plan on saving this little notebook for my travels.

Pacific Mall

After leaving Kingston, Ontario, I visited the Pacific Mall in Markham, a mall that specializes in Asian-imported goods and products. It was the first time I visited in over 10 years and was ecstatic to find a few more kawaii goodies.

This is what I brought home:

Red Pucca wallet. $7.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Red Pucca wallet. $7.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

The Pucca wallet is bright red in colour, which symbolizes good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture. The Kanji symbol means love. It also comes with a removable coin purse with Kanji print, five cardholders, one identification holder, and a long pocket for cash.

Kawaii origami strips x4: Molang bunny, blue and yellow teddy bear, Rilakkuma bear, blue and yellow mouse. $1.29-$1.49 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii origami strips x4: Molang bunny, blue and yellow teddy bear, Rilakkuma bear, blue and yellow mouse. $1.29-$1.49 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

At first I thought these cute kawaii strips were washi tape, but when I inquired about them I was told that the strips are meant for paper crafts like the creation of small origami stars.

Because I’m attracted to small figurines, paper crafts, and kawaii, I quickly bought four packages. While I won’t use every strip to make paper stars, I do plan on adding a little glue at the back to decorate a few of my snail mail envelopes.

Because I’m partial to cute bunnies, my favourite one is the one with the Molang bunny.

OMG Korean hair colour change doll, phone charm, green. $1.99 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
OMG Korean hair colour change doll, phone charm, green. $1.99 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

This little kawaii doll drew me right in with her bright, curly, green hair. Instead of attaching her to my mobile phone, I put her on my key ring instead. I’ve named her Kiyoko, which means child of happy generations in Japanese. I trust we’ll be very happy together for “generations” to come.

Kawaii Pocket Bunny Oil-Control Sleek Mist from Tony Moly Beauty Store. $12.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Pocket Bunny Oil-Control Sleek Mist from Tony Moly Beauty Store. $12.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

Aside for the cute kawaii bottle, this Pocket Bunny Sleek Mist helps to control the breakout of oily skin. Instead of powder to mattefy skin, this spritz can be used any time of the day. It smells good, too!

Kawaii Strawberry Lipgloss by Tony Moly. $12.50 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Strawberry Lipgloss by Tony Moly. $12.50 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

***

The Tony Moly Strawberry Lipgloss line is light and sheer and its price point high most likely because of its marketable packaging.

I really couldn’t care less about the actual lipgloss (though I had my eye on the deep pink and coral colours), but I absolutely adore the lipgloss strawberry doll caps.

It comes in coral, pink, light, pink, and a nude cream.

I pucker up every time I look at these!

***

The trip was well worth it with a number of unexpected kawaii finds. I hope to be able to travel again next month and pick up some more stationery and kawaii goodies. Which ones would you buy?

***

Do you like kawaii? What do you like most about it?

Of all the items featured above, which one(s) do you like the most?

What’s your favourite kawaii item that you own?

Where do you find or shop for your kawaii items? (Feel free to share links to websites.)

If you were a kawaii character, what character would you be?

***

zara - selfie 1

***

Advertisements

Are You a Letter Writer, Too? Here Are Some Networks to Give Your Passionate Hobby a Home

Are You a Letter Writer, Too?

Here Are Some Networks to Give Your Passionate Hobby a Home

09.06.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a creative writer, a scribe of sorts that spews out candid poems or stark short stories on the fly. Some people are like that. They can sit and type and write out a perfectly great novel.

***

But, for some of us our writing skills don’t necessarily come from a fictional point of view. For some of us, we simply enjoy divulging our personality on the page through letters.

***

If you’re a natural letter writer and your enjoy the slow and almost ancient art of penning correspondence rather than sending and receiving a mass email, then there are a few places for you—and for like-minded people like you!

I began “penpalling” as a child through a social studies project in grade school. My school was partnered with a school in Ghana and each student was matched with an age-appropriate penpal. Of course, when the program ended, so did my correspondence, but “penpalling” was always something I was interested in, but I wasn’t sure how to get started.

And now with the evolution of technology and the splurge of the World Wide Web, access to such networks actually exist.

***

If you’re looking for a social network that will provide you with access to a number of potential penpals from all over the world, I suggest using the site:


It’s free and all you need to do is sign-up and create a personal profile for yourself. You’re then able to share on your profile:

  • the language(s) you speak
  • the language(s) you’re learning
  • whether you’re looking for:
  • Snail Mail Penpals
  • a Language Exchange
  • or simply an Internet Penpal
  • Friendship/Romance

And you can search for penpals according to age, country, language spoken, or type of exchange.

You may make a request for a penpal or you may receive a request to become one! And it all starts from there. It’s entirely up to you in agreeing to become someone’s penpal or not.

In my experience, those who have written to me have not only taken the time and funds to do so, but have done so with genuine interest in me and letter writing.

 

***

If you are interested and you’d like to check out my Interpals’ profile as well, you can find it here.

***

If letter writing is too laborious for you and you’re not into long-term penpalling, another great alternative is the site:

Here, you can send out postcards!

Like Interpals, you can create your own profile for free and then request to send out a postcard to someone. Postcrossing will then generate a random name, address, and postcard ID for you at which point you are able to send a postcard out to that person.

You must include the Postcard ID that was assigned to you on your postcard and once the person you’ve sent the postcard to receives it and registers it online, your name will be put into the random generator to receive postcards.

***

You may send up to six postcards at a time and the more postcards you send, the more postcards you will most likely receive.

Direct postcard swaps between members are allowed at the discretion of the member (if the member has decided that they would like to participate in Direct Swaps).

You are also able to post your postcard images online.

I haven’t been that active until recently, but  have enjoyed sending and receiving postcards from people from many different countries, and am happy to see my postcard collection grow!

For those of you who may be interested, you can see my Postcrossing profile here.

***

So, what are you waiting for? If you love letter writing, would like to enjoy making penpal relationships through penned correspondence, or would simply like to grow a personal postcard collection, Interpals or Postcrossing is for you!

Hope we get to correspond through letters or postcross soon!

***

Zara’s Bucket List Sunday: 01.22.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Correspond with long-term penpals

I participated in a Penpal Exchange Program at my school when I was eight years-old. My penpal was a girl from Ghana. We wrote each other for an entire year through our corresponding schools.

And then I grew up. And moved. And technology moved along with me.

In a day and age of computers, Internet, mobile phones, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter, the art of letter writing has slowly disintegrated. It’s a surprise that Canada Post survives at all if it weren’t for our much awaited packages in the mail from eBay.

So, I mentioned finding myself some penpals to my husband. Is it so an outdated idea that people from all over the globe actually pick up a pen and write on paper and snail-mail it to potential friends with the same interests and love of letter writing?

Not according to the website I found when searching online for some organization that might facilitate this kind of hobby.

And so, I look forward to a growing, long-term relationship with my pen-friends from:

  • Vienna, Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Meridian, Idaho
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Algiers, Algeria
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Oslo, Norwayh
  • Erd, Hungary
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Oulu, Finland

Here’s to fresh ink, parchment, postcards, pretty envelopes, and faraway stamps. Here’s to fine penmanship and good friends.

Canadian stamps

***

STATUS: COMPLETED

***

Zara Alexis