Even though I haven't been in school in what feels like a lifetime, September always feels like the start of something new. This year was no exception, even though the surprises weren't always welcome. As we get older, we start to believe that we've seen it all or have been around the block enough to know what to expect (or rather not to expect) out of life. Only when we come face-to-face with those surprises that knocks the air out of us do we realise just how naive we really are. Is this what you would call growth?
1. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan | Those who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I'm not the most 'original' reader. I always read winners of the Man Booker and Pulitzer Prizes, which some may frown upon, but I consider to be good sense. As one of my best friends said once: life's too short for shitty books. The Narrow Road to the Deep North won Man Booker in 2014, and has been collecting digital dust in my Kindle since I downloaded it last year (for shame, I know). Unlike the usual winners, this was a short and breezy one to get through, although the subject matter is appropriately heavy (WWII POWs). All in all a super satisfying read and since it's war fiction, it had to make it on this list.
2. Adobe Illustrator | I'm no designer, but I've been using with Adobe Suite since I started working. When other non-designers ask me for advice, I always say to start with Illustrator (vector-based programme) rather than Photoshop (raster-based programme) as to avoid the mistake I make when I first playing around with them. The reason being: (1) Illustrator is more challenging, so you can quickly pick up Photoshop after, and (2) most of your design work will be vector-based, especially if you're working in the discipline of Digital Marketing. Well, I've finally taken my own advice, and sat the fuck down and tried to figure that shit out. I still have a long way to go, but the foundation is there now, so I'm excited to build on this skill.
3. Love-Birds | Although September had its challenges, it's also been a month of love. Two of my best friends are sealing the deal so to speak, and I could just drop everything and ugly cry knowing they found their life partners. Having known them for more than 10 years, I have to say that there's nothing more fulfilling in a friendship than to see your bebes happy. #BridesmaidYaBish
4. Shine by Wale | I like most of this album, I've been listening to 'Scarface Rozay Gotti' pretty much on repeat for the past couple of weeks. 'All I want to do is live out my dreams // And fuck what y'all think 'cause these is my dreams' is basically my life mantra right now. Only if I knew what this dream was...
5. Sencha | I've talked on and on about my love of Iron Buddha and Oolong in the past, and this month, I'm back at it again with Sencha. It's the most popular type of tea in Japan, differing from its counterpart Matcha because it's typically prepared through infusion of its leaves rather than a powder. Those who also love Sencha will likely note its strong aroma and sweetness as what sets is apart from other green teas. Sencha leaves are steamed for 15 - 20 seconds before they're pan-fried like other green teas, which prevents oxidisation, lending to its amazing aroma. I know I sound like a broken record (or an infomercial for that matter), but as someone who was enslaved by coffee, I could not be more adamant that everyone jumps on the green tea train ASAP.
6. Panasonic Hair Styler | I suck at doing hair - always have and thought I always would. Here we go again with the infomercial chatter, but this product has truly changed my life - all thanks to my Mom! I was pretty skeptical (but appreciative) when she gifted this to me, but it's hard to imagine living without it now. It's the closest I'll ever come to giving myself a blowout (this sounds mad dirty). Surprisingly, this little device dries my thick-ass (now you're thinking dirty too, right) Asian hair in no time, and gives it more volume than a Black Sabbath concert. Win.
7. Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in Coral | I went through a phase of wearing lipstick regularly, but this endless Summer situation in Hong Kong has really turned me off makeup. I'm honestly at a breaking point with the melting of my face, and soon enough my spirit. While I'm fine with my sweaty washed out face most of the time, I realised that it was not a pretty sight for myself to see in the mirror. Looking drab makes you feel drab, amirite? Another gift from my generous Mom, this was a godsend that livened up my face just enough to get me through this season. It's essentially a balm - super easy to wear and the shade seems to look different every time I put it on. The only issue I have is that the Coral shade looks full on pink. But maybe it's just me?
8. Dita Von Teese | Queen Dita has been around forever, but only recently have I really begun to appreciate her for the goddess she is. I'll be honest and say that I used to think she was just a model, but after falling into an Instagram black hole one night, I came across one of her performances and like most people, I was completely mesmerised. I never thought burlesque objectified women, but I also never thought that it could empower them like they do. The way that Dita uses her sexuality to control everyone in the audience (and even those through a screen) is truly powerful and commendable. Also, I think we can all learn something from the way she carries herself. Elegance overload.
9. La Belle Epoque / Flapper Era | I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the above, but I've been absolutely besotted with everything that has to do with turn-of-the-century Paris and the 1920s. Honestly I'm doing it all - listening to the music, reading the novels, and watching movies from and about the era. I'm like a hungry vulture that forges on everything it can find, except in my case it's not carcasses but period pieces and Electro Swing.
10. Starland Okinawa Jewelry | This is not a September fave per se, but I have been wearing this necklace since I got it back in July when I went to Okinawa on a family trip. We were browsing through some random little shops when I came across these charming little pendants. I thought they were really unique, and would be a lovely trinket for me to remember the trip. Each 'amulet' contains some sand from Okinawa and a few pieces of Ryukyu glass, which is what the local artisans are known for. This is definitely a piece I'll treasure forever.