December Afternoon Tea with SJ 2021 Review

Good Afternoon and Merry Christmas, everyone!

We are actually having a WHITE CHRISTMAS this year!!! It’s been raining/sleeting/snowing on and off, which means we had many false starts, but the snow stayed, and I can’t contain my joy. ( ᐢ˙꒳​˙ᐢ )

And, I can hardly believe it’s Christmas, let alone the year 2021 is ending…Where did all the time go?? *incessant flipping of my journal*

But without further ado, let me present to you today’s tea!

-December Afternoon Tea ‘21 Setting-

Location: living room with a roaring fireplace & twinkling Christmas tree

Tea: Elderflower blackberry, cream of earl grey, lavender-rose

Offered with: matcha snowball cookies, Japanese cheesecake, eggnog ice cream

This year, I read 157 books. Earlier in the year, I resolved to rethink my reading ethics. Last year (2020), I read a lot of books that didn’t matter to me or were valuable to me despite reading a lot. I felt like I wasted my time and efforts and certainly didn’t want the year 2021 to look like that.

So, I set up some values in reading books, created various reading schedules (Note: they have been updated three times from the month I wrote that blog post) and overall, am really happy with what I read this year. I think I could regain my focus and improve the quality of my reading life, so I hope to continue that next year. ୧꒰*´꒳`*꒱૭✧

>> See my Year in Books on Goodreads

More tea, anyone? I absolutely love the elderflower blend! But the cream of earl grey is also fantastic. Fun fact: Our family makes hundreds of snowball cookies each Christmas to give away to our friends, neighbours, and pastors. We haven’t been able to continue the tradition in recent years, but this year we went back to it & I’m remembering how much fun this is!

Anyhow. Let’s move on to one of the most fun discussions here. 

Music 

So for those of you who have noticed, I have officially been converted over to Spotify. I think I started using it earlier this year, became a regular listener until I was habitually complaining about the ads, and have finally upgraded to premium, which I love so much I wonder why I didn’t subscribe earlier. Here’s my Spotify wrapped:

(Although, tbh, it doesn’t represent the classical music sector as well since I listen to them either as borrowed CD or on the radio…)

>>My 2021 Playlist on Spotify

Practising: Mozart Sinfonia concertante K.364, playing from chord charts

Listening to: Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas, Studio Ghibli soundtracks, various playlists & classical music (like Tchaikovsky’s 5th & 6th)

Movie/TV shows 

Another new thing that has popped up in my life since the pandemic was intense movie-watching! This year, we haven’t been able to watch that many movies, but we did watch a lot of Japanese dramas and TV shows. Some of my favourites this season were:

  • Pierce the Blue Sky (a year-long drama/documentary about Eichi Shibusawa, who will become the new ¥1,0000 ($100) bill)
  • Come, Come, Everybody (a morning short drama about English conversations radio in Japan which is too heartbreaking and cute beyond words)
  • I Only Gave Consent to Marriage (another super cute fake-marriage rom-com!!)
  • Japan Sinking (a very realistic eco-sci-fi based on a book)

Manga/Anime

Would you like another slice of the cheesecake? Or another cup of ice cream? Or more tea??

If you hadn’t heard my squeals and flailings earlier, now you hear it. *inserts extreme fangirl squeals, screams, and any other indescribable sounds you probably also make*

Well, for starters, I have acquired more wotaku goods than the previous years–I have an acrylic key charm display on my writing desk that I absolutely love. I have a Mob Psycho 100 calendar by the talented pea/helen beside the display that I absolutely love. I got a bunch of die-cut stickers for my computer (TPN, MP100, KNY, JK, Narnia, Wycliff, etc.) that I absolutely love. 

You can probably already see what my problem is. 

Some of the fandoms I’m so happy to have found this year are: 

  • Kimetsu no Yaiba (actually cont. From last year, but who cares? It’s KNY!!)
  • Attack on Titan (I can’t believe I didn’t know AoT before. Seriously.)
  • My Hero Academia (MHA has been the most surprising fandom out of all here. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do now)
  • Jujutsu Kaisen (I just read the manga up to vol. 9 and can’t wait to read more!!)
  • Spy & Family (Okay, also technically not this year but when the serialisation started on Jump+ back in 2019 but who cares? It’s getting an anime soon!!)

Okay, enough fangirling for now. I think I’ll have the lavender-rose tea. I love lavender, and my sister loves rose. Nothing can ever go wrong with those two. 

Writing. 

*inserts crickets chirping*

Date Title of WIPWordcount
Jan, May, Sep, NovOsthauptstadt50.2 K
Feb, NovElijacomb 17th27.4 K
MarchSecret project no. 19.9 K
March-April, NovWoodstone30.2 K 
May-June, DecJuliet (revision)20.6 K
June-Aug, NovSecret project no. 211.2 K 
July, Oct Secret project no. 34 K
Jan-DecBlog39 K 
Jan-DecBrainstorming18.9 K 
154 K (in WIPs) 212 K (in total) of 200 K goal

At first, I thought it was nothing to be fan-faring about, which explains the crickets. But after I went back to see how much I’ve written, I’m quite relieved. Although one can’t deny there was a lot of project hopping done this year & a lack of focus in general, I’m surprised to find I’ve actually been writing consistently this year. Through reading various writing books this year, I’ve been struggling to find the writing life that works for me. (You can see the trend in my posts about writing.) A writer’s life is one marked with struggles. It’s daily, when you’re trying to excavate writing time. It’s monthly, when you realise you haven’t written what you promised yourself you’d write that month. And it’s yearly. 

Yet, when you look back, you very often realise that you’ve done so much more than you believed to have done. And I’m going to leave it at that. 

I’m so thirsty now I actually need to boil more water for tea… (Here, I am placing the kettle on the stove IRL.) 

Anyhow. I don’t think I need to mention academics, other than I’ve finally started university and am so happy for the Christmas break. There, done and taken care of. Plus, next year we’re probably back to online classes. *sighs*

All in all, this year has been a busy one after the leisurely one of 2020. I can’t explain all that’s happened this year; what I can do is to tell you that yes, there were a lot of adjustments, struggles, fangirling, &c. But at the end of it all, what matters is the heart of what I do. And even though I made a lot of mistakes, I can say with confidence, that I could focus on the why and how, more than the what

So thank you, dear SJ readers. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I’m looking forward to another year with you. ଘ(੭*ˊᵕˋ)੭* ੈ♡‧₊˚

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you all!

Thank you for reading! How was your year 2021? What are some of your highlights? Have you discovered anything noteworthy this year? Or accomplishments? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

September Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good afternoon to you!

It’s already that time of the month where I info-dump my September with you generally served with too many cups of tea than needed. Do forgive me for not posting last week…if you were one of those people waiting for an SJ post to pop up last Saturday *insert plot twist* and it didn’t, I really do apologise for it. University has officially claimed my life, but I’ll get into more of that later. 

-September Afternoon Tea ‘21 Setting-

Location: Vegan café

Tea: Matcha tea latte, Chai tea latte, Ginger tea latte

Offered with: Taiyaki, Belgium waffles, French crullers & fluffy donuts

As school started, my reading habit went a little sideways…which is pretty predictable, given all things. 

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (fic)
  2. Magic for Liars (fic-da)
  3. Bunny (fic-da/nw)
  4. Shin-ai naru (jpn fic)
  5. Amphitruo (uni-syllb)
  6. United We Fall (YA)
  7. Life of Galileo (uni-syllb)
  8. The Blazing World (uni-syllb)
  9. The Chosen and the Beautiful (fic-da)

Currently reading: The Fellowship-The Literary Lives of the Inklings, Moby Dick

Overall, I think I read too much dark academia in one month and I’m a bit sick of them now. I’m super hyped about reading about the Inklings & revenge-reading MD…this time I’ll finish it! (I hope.)

More tea, anyone? The ginger tea latte is absolutely gorgeous, so is the French crullers. 

Again, I think university swallowed up a large chunk of time and I didn’t have as much space for media…which is quite sad, but I think I’ll be overloaded if I added anything more. 

Music 

So, a hilarious development occurred. My sister got me into BTS, and although I still don’t know much about them, I’ve come to enjoy their music a lot. 🙂 I listened to less classical music in general, but I think I’ll change that since I’m thinking of going to the central branch library to borrow lots of classical CDs soon.

TV shows

While I didn’t watch any movies this month *gasp*, I watched a lot of Japanese TV shows with my family. Some of my favourite ones are:

  1. Tokyo MER (This was honestly too good to be true. It’s like every writer’s dream in the character arcs, settings, & everything!!!!)
  2. #bemyfamily (Ohmygosh, this is like the cutest show EVER. I love every #bemyfamily member & their relationships with each other.)
  3. My Fair Prince (A little cringey but loveable rom-com about a game company CEO. Tbh, we watched it for the sake of Dean Fujioka, lol.)

Manga/Anime

I got through halfway of season 3 in BNHA & I. Was. Destroyed. If you look at my record history of fav. Fandoms in manga/anime, you’d probably notice a lot of them are on the morbid side where you never know who will die in the next episode. (So not looking at KNY, AoT & co.) So compared to them, I though BNHA wouldn’t have a high death rate. 

Tash, was I wrong. 

It’ll probably take me another week to get over it…

Just look at this cutie…

In the meantime, I’ve been rediscovering my love for these mangas:

  1. Hetalia
  2. Uramichi Onisan
  3. Detective Conan

Have you had the chai tea latte yet? Or a classic matcha tea latte? The mini-taiyaki are also worth a try!

As mentioned in my September update email, I’m officially out of the writing rut & am brimming with creativity. 

However. 

I’ve yet to reach the 50K mark in Osthauptstadt (like, another 500 words left) and it’s honestly been a little discouraging to me since I thought I’d be able to whoosh past that wc. Then again, university has been more than I thought it would be, so I guess I’m happy with what I have so far…and the end is near!

“You’re the next.”

So, university. *inserts nervous laughter*

I used to think people who complained about university life was a bit…um, sort of not-all-there? Like, I didn’t believe them. How could one of the most pivotal part of your life be anything but joy???

(Someone please go punch the person who said that.)

Obviously, the academic side of university has been great. I’m so glad I read my uni term 1 syllabus ahead of time because it’s saving me precious life’s energy & I’ve been hyped since last year to just get to an academic institution. (Okay, maybe other than the fact I had to write a 2K essay on Plautus’ Amphitruo which was fun but not really.)

But I totally did not count the human interaction energy needed to do university. I’ve met so many people (probably over thirty) and it was awesome getting to know new people, but I feel like I’ve officially expended my extrovertism for the year 2021. Last week was plagued by dizziness & nausea that I was walking like a drunk nautam. (Due to part iron deficiency, part stress, part something else, probably) Oh, I also went to my first house party. It was offered by my church’s young adult, so it was super chill, but just saying. 

Me, dying from human interaction.

Let us hope I will recover the extrovertism over this weekend, everyone!

Do have some more of the Belgium waffles while they’re hot! Or perchance another cup of tea? (Remember, one can never have enough tea…)

Life has been good. (Yes, I know I sound like a commercial, but it’s true.) I stepped way out of my comfort zone, talked to people, socialised & acted like a semi-modern person. (I asked for people’s IG handles when we were parting. Genius, eh?) I got more involved in my bible study group & young adult’s group. I cried for joy when everyone excoriated Hobbes because Hobbes is evil and so is his Leviathan. I made myself bento-lunches on a regular basis & advertised Numbers as the Most Interesting Book in the Bible to Read ™. 

And in the end, that’s probably all you need to do in a month. 

Thank you for reading! How was your September? What are some of the highlights from this month? Did you meet new books or people? How is the new school year going for you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon!

Today, I’ll be sharing my summer with you. It felt like a really long and short summer versus last year where time was like a small creek. This year was filled to brim with adventures &c, so let’s dive straight into it!

-Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beachside park

Tea: Hibiscus, lime-lemon-basil, Mint-and-Grapefruit

Offered With: Muscat parfait, melon cream soda, white roll cake

I got to read a lot of books over the summer–the total being over thirty-something books–and although there were books I wanted to read anc couldn’t, I’m happy with what I did read…well, except some of the reading I did for my university syllabus. (My family would know all about it, given I ranted about the need for it to burn in the seventh circle.)

Summer Reads

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (fic)
  2. When We Were Orphans (lit fic)
  3. Bushido (Jpn nfic)
  4. Miura Woshin Essay (Jpn nfic)
  5. World History from Maps (Jpn nfic)
  6. Murakami Haruki’s top 100 playlist (Jpn nfic)
  7. Counting by 7s (mg)
  8. Rashomon (Jpn clsc)
  9. Good・bye (Jpn clsc)
  10. Fangirl
  11. Writer As A Vocation (Jpn nfic)
  12. The Art of Flight (nfic)
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia (clsc)
  14. Shayō (Jpn clsc)
  15. The Bacchae (uni sylb/O4)
  16. Love Does (nfic)
  17. 1Q84 v1-3 (Jpn fic)
  18. The Communist Manifesto (uni sylb)
  19. Carrie Pilby (YA)
  20. Till We Have Faces (clsc)
  21. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (uni sylb)
  22. Grettir’s Saga (uni sylb)
  23. The Prince (uni sylb/O5)
  24. Unfamiliar Fishes (uni sylb)
  25. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (uni sylb)
  26. My Brother’s Spare (YA)

Overall, I’m glad I’m almost finished reading my first term university syllabus books. 🙂 

Would you like more of the white roll cake? Or another glass of hibiscus tea? 

Anyways, I rediscovered my love for many things in this section over the summer as well since I went on a manga re-read and movie binges! 

Music 

Practising: Gurenge (Kimetsu no Yaiba op), KaiKaiKitan (Jujutsu Kaisen op1), Chopin Etude op.10 no.3

Listening to: Prokofiev piano concerto no. 2-3, Tchaikovsky Symphony 4, 5, 6, Max Richter’s Voyager

This summer’s most-listened-to playlist on Spotify

Movie 

I watched a lot of movies in July since my family was away for camping and I was sick for a week. Some of them were fantastic, some were just okay…

  1. Vancouver’s Sunrise–after the all-Japanese baseball team back in the early 20th century
  2. Honey and Thunder–based on the Naoki prize winning book about piano prodigies
  3. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence–the classic feat. Sakamoto Ryuichi
  4. Tenet–Nolan keeps getting better
  5. Kingsman–bordering on okay and not okay
  6. The Imitation Game–I love Alan Turing and I love Benedic Cumberbatch!
  7. Kill Your Darlings–also based on a book
  8. Interstellar–my new fav!!
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–re-watch…Newt Scammader is simply too cute!!
  10. The Crimes of Grindewald–Newt + Theseus. Also, “Your eyes look like a salamander’s.”
  11. The Prestige–earlier Nolan work. Okay. 
  12. Memento–earliest Nolan work? Not okay…
  13. Norwegian Forest–based on the Murakami book. Stunning cinematography albeit a tad graphic
  14. Emma–re-watch. Absolutely hilariously Austen
  15. Castle in the Sky–classic Ghibli. Prob. in the top 5 list. 
  16. Nausicaa–I’m the fan of the manga, but the movie was amazing as well!!

Manga/Anime

I did a manga reading challenge and am happy to say I got through most of them!

  1. Tokyo Ghoul + Tokyo Ghoul re: (Re-read it for the third time? Gets better with every re-read.)
  2. Attack on Titan (up to vol. 33, waiting for the library to acquire vol. 34!!)
  3. Kimetsu no Yaiba (This finally arrived from Japan. I cried buckets and it’s definitely a must-read.)
  4. The Promised Neverland vol.15-19 (I am still waiting to get vol. 20…)
  5. My Hero Academia various + Anime season 1-3 (It keeps getting better and better.)
Everyone should read this manga and cry as much as I did.

(Psst! I also have a new Goodreads account solely for manga-reads. It’s at: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/138785634-iaphos)

Wow, that was long. I think I’ll have another glass of mint-grapefruit tea. The muscat parfait is absolutely gorgeous, too!

So, writing life… *insets crickets chirping*

As much as it pains me to say, I did not have a great writing life this summer. I have not been able to move up my wc since the last WIP update I did in July which has been kind of depressing to me…

However. 

In the bigger scheme of things, I got a few wc tucked between various projects, trying to sew up loose ends, brainstorm, outline, worldbuild, etc., etc. I feel a bit stand-stilled so I’m not sure how y writing will work out in September, but crossing my fingers I might be able to get back on track!

This is where things get really exciting. University is starting soon. In fact, orientation week is from Monday!!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confettis*

For those of you who have been long SJ Barnard readers, you might remember me flailing about university and my long dream of getting there. Well, I am happy to announce to you that I am finally (and officially) enrolled in a university with first year courses of my dreams (maybe) hoarding brand-new textbooks and binge-reading syllabii. I am so excited I can just burst!!

So, cheers and onto the next topic…

Lifestyle & Living

More tea, anyone? Have you tried the melon cream soda? They’re all the rage in Japan as being Showa-aesthetic and “emoi”. (My siblings hate the word!! It means emotional, btw.)

Life has been good. I survived a five-day long camping trip to Whistler, three-day intensive karate camp (where we won the talent show with Kimetsu and GReeeN songs), one and half week illness (not Covid, thank goodness), and various online university prep workshops. That, and reading pretty much summed up my summer.

I also got my first ever MacBook. It’s MacBook Air with M1, rosegold *swoons* and works like a dream compared to my old Dell. I’ve yet to name it but I’m leaning towards Rhindon, spelt with nne-ending. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the name of Peter’s sword.) Since I bought it with student discount, I got free AirPods which makes me feel like an actual modern person! Eeep! I’m getting back into drawing more, and am thinking I’ll draw in between classes…hence I will be clad with iPad & iPencil, too! 

I usually don’t buy things at all and all of the expenditures have been dizzying to me, but why not? I’ll probably not buy things until four years later. 😉 

And that’s the grand finale to my summer break! 

Thank you for coming over! What was your summer like? What are some of the highlights and/or favourite memories? Did you travel places? Or meet new books? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!