January ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good afternoon!

It feels like a long time since I’ve been here. And, my greatest apologies to those who were waiting for blog posts for the last two weeks. I wasn’t planning to disappear on you, dear SJ readers, but something came up…

Sickness. *inserts soundless horror*

Which, I’m pretty sure was Covid. Some of our friends got it, and I ended up being in bed for a week or so with an extremely high fever, chills, pains, &c. that was not fun at all. Hence, the last two weeks were mostly spent in bed feeling like I was dying (but obviously that’s being too dramatic). I knew I was in for big trouble when I didn’t want to read. *elongated gasp*

Anyhow. 

I’m back, somewhat with less energy but very much alive. So, without further ado, let me present to you January ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ!

-January Afternoon Tea ‘22 Setting-

Location: Japanese-style living room

Tea: Lemon ginger, masala chai, apple cinnamon  

Offered with: Strawberry mochi, Fruits sandwich, custard pudding

I had a bit of a reading slump this month. Of course, I did end up meeting books I absolutely loved, but I’m thinking of taking things more slowly…or not. 

  1. The Saga of the Volsungs
  2. Shukusai to Yokan (Festival and Feeling)
  3. Still Life with a Bridle
  4. Der Sokrates Club
  5. Confronting Christianity
  6. Colourless Tsuzaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
  7. Five Children and It
  8. A Little Life
  9. The Abolition of Man
  10. Dark Rise
  11. Oshi, Moyu 
  12. The Song of Achilles

Reading: Crime and Punishment (re-read), The Japanese Emperor and the Army’s Modern History, Journey of the Iwanami Children’s Classics, Shibusawa Eichi, Vita Nostra

And that kind of tells you that I should probably focus more on my currently-reading list. Plus, I’m still trying to balance my various reading lists with the books I already have checked out. I really should stop going to the library…(ˉ ˘ ˉ; )

Would you like more tea or mochi? (Sidenote: We often make custard pudding. This time, I actually helped, which I’m kind of proud of!!)

Music 

This month, we did a karaoke! I made a playlist based on my family’s favourite songs, which we like to listen to in the car or while we cook. (And you can probably guess my sister’s picks…they’re all BTS or Radwimps.)

Practising: Mozart Sinfonia concertante K.364, various Sonatine & Sonatas

Listening to: Studio Ghibli soundtracks, AoT songs, UNICORN

Movie/TV shows 

One thing I’m kind of sad about was how I was planning to do a post on Studio Ghibli the week I was sick. Hopefully, I’ll get to post that next month!

Some of the movies/tv shows I’ve been hyped about:

  • Ponyo on the Cliff By the Sea…a childhood favourite ( ᐢ˙꒳​˙ᐢ )
  • Oi! Handsome…an insanely funny Japanse TV show feat. a showa-era father
  • Wife, an Elementary Schooler…a super cute but thoughtful family drama
  • 99.9…a lawyer drama, feat. an unconventional lawyer TM

Manga/Anime

And here is the list we’ve all been waiting for. 

  • AoT Final Season…Can we just ignore me screaming??
  • Kimetsu no Yaiba Yukaku city…Ditto here. 
  • Golden Kamuy…a recent development. It’s one of the darker mangas, but I’m finding it really helpful since it’s based on Ainu and the post Russo-Japan war era.

Overall, since our entire family has fallen ill, we’ve been spending way too many hours watching tv shows and movies and the like. But honestly, WHO CARES?? They’re good, that’s what. ୧꒰*´꒳`*꒱૭✧

If you recall, I’ve started this new attempt called a writing journal. It’s like a normal planner, except I write my writing goals/tasks for each day and journal my experience on it. 

It was going well. Except, you know, sickness struck. 

But reading back my journal, I’m glad to find I was writing more often than not, and I’m actually really satisfied with what I did get to write, even though it’s not a lot. I’ll definitely continue my writing journal. (Also, this month was the Osthauptstadt writing month. It’s slow going, but I’m looking forward to where this is leading me to!)

Have you tried apple cinnamon tea? They’re kind of like apple cider, except it’s tea. 

And here, I do hope no one gets sick with Covid, although I know that’s asking for a lot in this time we’re living in. Honestly, being sick has drained a lot of my energy, including academics. I’m really blessed to have an understanding professor, but if not, I don’t know where I’d been. Also, this month my university was online, so that helped a lot, too. I don’t think I would have imagined ever feeling grateful that my uni would be online! And yet, here we are. I’ve been finding how I’m more grateful for the small things and even those things that aren’t normal. They help me realise how there’s blessing in the unordinary circumstances of today. 

But everything isn’t all doom and gloom and sickness. Some things that has been helping me in life are:

  • Candles. I love scented candles, and I’m so glad my brother got me a fancy candle holder for Christmas, it’s my favoruite! Watching the small flickering flame is really calming.
  • Devotions & Memorization. Lately, I’ve been spending more and more time for my personal devotions, including trying to memorise Psalms. I’m kind of stuck at Psalms 7, but it’s been helping me greatly having His Word stored in my heart. 
  • Chores. Believe it or not, I’ve been finding it more fun doing chores than before! It’s exceedingly satisfying when you find the washroom sparkling, or when you get to brainstorm what to eat for dinner. Also, listening to music/podcasts while vacuuming. 

And lastly, a verse that’s been on my mind lately:

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

(Hebrews 3:13-14, NIV)

Thank you for reading! How was your January? What are some of the highlights this month? Did you meet any new books? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

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!