Bag Feature: Kate Spade Rambling Roses Monkey Casie

February is always a fun and busy month for me – there’s Valentine’s Day, which I enjoy celebrating (this was the case even when I was still a child and had no romantic interest whatsoever – my Dad used to get me and my brother (and of course our Mom) tokens – not sure if giving your kids a gift on  V-day is a common practice or not, but my husband and I give our daughter tokens too); and there’s also my birthday, which I look forward to even more since my husband and daughter go out of their way to make me feel like a queen (more so than usual 😉 ).

Given my passion for handbags and my loved ones’ knowledge of it, receiving a bag as a gift for a special occasion isn’t all too surprising. I already wrote about the Mini Poppy which I got for Valentine’s Day in my last Bag Review. This time, in this Bag Feature, I will cover one of the gifts I received for my birthday – the Kate Spade Rambling Roses Monkey Casie bag.

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I’ve been wanting a boxy bag (some people call them vanity case bags) for some time now – something about the boxy shape and the quasi-lunchbox look appeals to me. I wanted to give it a try and looked at some premier designer versions of the design – while I found a few cute, I didn’t find any that called out to me to an extent that would make me want to spend premier designer prices for it. There was a Bally pink boxy bag (I forget its model name) that I wanted a year or two back, but by the time I decided to pull the trigger on the purchase, the bag was no longer available. 😦 I abandoned my boxy bag search for a bit when life happened and other things became a higher priority (which resulted in my bag passion waning a bit).

Fast forward to February 2017 – I decided to resume my hunt for a boxy bag. I then did some research and in the most timely fashion, my favorite bag blog (which has nurtured my handbag love and has really been one of my comfort places for quite some time now – not to mention, it served as an inspiration for me to start my own blog about bags), Purse Blog – which is run by Megs Mahoney-Dusil and her husband Vlad Dusil – released a post called “Rising Trend: Vanity Case Bags”. That proved to be an excellent resource for me as I saw several options of the boxy bag I wanted to try out (feel free to read the post here: http://www.purseblog.com/trends/vanity-case-soft-box-top-handle-bags/). The one that really caught my attention in that list was the Kate Spade Casie bag. I clicked on the link in the Purse Blog post and got redirected to the bag found in the Nordstrom website. While I liked the red and the white choices, I decided to do a quick search on ‘Casie’ in the Kate Spade website to see if there were other options available. I’m glad I did, because the Rambling Roses Monkey Casie popped up. It was adorable!  Now though, I had a (first-world) problem on my hands – which one to get?  All three options were appealing to me.

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The dust bag that came with the Rambling Roses Monkey Casie

This is where my husband comes in. He caught me looking at the Casie bags (he seems to frequently catch me doing some online window-shopping  — which means I probably do it a little too often) and asked – “Do you want that for your birthday?” Very direct, and I sheepishly replied, “I’m considering it”

My husband likes surprising me, and while this one would not end up being a complete surprise since I knew he would get me a Casie – there was still an element of mystery in terms of which one he’d pick.  He asked me if I had a preference, to which I told him no, as I was not sure which one I liked most.  So, he took that as a challenge to surprise me with which option he would pick for me (it was his turn to be sheepish – “If you realize you don’t like the one I picked out for you, we can always return it for another one”).

And that’s how I ended up with my Rambling Roses Monkey Casie.  I should have known he would pick that one out for me – we are partial to monkeys, pigs, rabbits and birds after all (it’s a mix of Chinese astrology and family symbolism for us). I have to say I was extremely happy with his choice, and realized I would have eventually chosen that one for myself if he hadn’t.

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I did say that we like monkeys…

The Rambling Roses Monkey Casie has the following dimensions, as per the Kate Spade website:

  • 6.8″h x 8.8″w x 4.1″d
  • 6.8″h x 8.8″w x 4.1″d
  • 2″ drop length

It’s made of “crosshatched leather” which to me seems close to saffiano. They “used a stitch-free stacked leather technique to create the applique for a clean, modern look” – if a clean look was what they were after, I think they nailed it. It may be weird to say that considering the design, on paper anyway, would seem a bit busy – there are black and white stripes, and a pink monkey holding a rose on top of it – but for some reason, the result (perhaps due to the technique they applied) was quite cohesive and did give me an impression of being “clean”. In no way was it too busy for me.

The Rambling Roses Monkey Casie has a zipper closure, a top handle and detachable strap.  I used the bag for my birthday dinner and it was comfortable and easy to use for the most part – my only complaint thus far would be that the zipper sometimes gets stuck or won’t close smoothly. This happens when one side of the zipper chain is not fully up. Not sure if it’s considered part of the breaking in period, or if it’s more of a “user error” (also known as – I’m the problem 🙂 ), or if this problem is present with just mine, or if it’s really some design defect.  It’s not too much of a hassle, though it did get in the way of my enjoyment of the bag by just a little bit. I get that maybe I’m expected to always make sure the zipper chains are upright and ready to be zipped, but I generally don’t experience this problem with my other bags with zipper closure. It would be nice if the zipper chains are in position to be closed smoothly by default, or that they close smoothly even if they are not (as is the case with some of my other bags). Maybe another type of closure would have worked better.

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The zipper, when the zipper chain is not fully up (as one side is shown here), gets stuck and does not close smoothly at times.  It seems like common sense that this would happen – however, it is a bit of a hassle to have to make sure both sides are upright every time you need to open and close the bag, especially since you need to zip and unzip the bag fully each time you need to get something from inside (unlike other bags which you can just partly unzip). It would be nice if by default the zipper chains are in position to be closed smoothly,  or that the zipper still closes smoothly even if they are not (as is the case with some of my other bags)

Still, the bag is so cute, with nice pink “Quick and Curious” lining and a good size to fit all my essentials and more, that the sometimes-zipper problem was not a big deal at all in the grand scheme of things.  Primarily it was because I didn’t encounter it all the time, and then there was also the fact that the bag’s adorable design and other pros greatly outweighed that one con.  The bag is also quite light, and is easy to carry by both handle and strap.

As some of you probably already know, I am a fan of fun bags and this one is certainly that. The Rambling Roses Monkey Casie is a bag that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It comes in a bag type that is getting more and more popular and trendy (and therefore will become more common, if it isn’t that already)  – but it manages to stand out with its unique and cute design.

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The cute pink “Quick and Curious” lining

Also – I don’t need to edit the contents of my bag at all when using this, it’s a good conversation piece, and I get a small smile on my face when I carry it using the handle as it gives me a quasi-(adult) lunchbox vibe. Now, the whole adult lunchbox/vanity case bag/boxy bag look isn’t for everyone – so I understand that some people might not opt to get this type of bag at all.  If you have been looking for one for some time now (the way I was), then Kate Spade’s Casie gives you several options to choose from. I ended up with the Rambling Roses Monkey Casie, and so far I am enjoying this bag. The charm of this bag is infectious and irresistible.

In closing – the nice thing with Kate Spade is that they have sales and give out discount coupons relatively often, so you can purchase their bags and other merchandise at a good discount if you wait (signing up for their email and mailing list is good for the purpose of keeping yourself informed on this too).

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Thanks for reading – until my next post!  🙂

Bag Review: the Cambridge Satchel Company’s Mini Poppy

Hi everyone!

I received a beautiful personalized (monogrammed) mini Poppy bag from my husband last Valentine’s Day.  It’s one of the newer models from the Cambridge Satchel Company. It’s my first bag from said company, so I thought it presented me with a great opportunity to write my next bag review.

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on bags. I took advantage of the fact I had the energy, motivation, and time to do so over the weekend – so here’s my latest post!

Happy Reading!

Bag: The Cambridge Satchel Company’s Mini Poppy

Size: Mini

Color: Dusky rose

Introduction

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The box that came with my Mini Poppy

The Cambridge Satchel Company entered the public consciousness (or at least, mine) in the late 2000’s.  Back then, I liked the colors of their bags, but the bag models or types themselves did not appeal to me so much.  Nothing wrong with them – they just were not my type.  I would admire them from afar, but I just did not think they were right for me – I did not see myself using one.

Fast forward to 2017 –  in one of my online window shopping sessions, the Mini Poppy caught my eye. I started asking my husband about which color he thought suited me better, or was nicer in general (Dusky Rose or Oxblood) – being clear that I was just thinking about it. I was leaning more towards getting it for myself at the time – after all, it had personalization too, and I’m quite the sucker for personalization.  Still, no decisions were made from my end.

So, you can just imagine my pleasure when I received a personalized Mini Poppy in Dusky Rose as one of my Valentine’s Day gifts from my husband . It was even lovelier in person.  The smell of leather was just divine when I first opened its dust bag.  Inside was a lovely little treasure for me to enjoy.

General Features and Usability

The Mini Poppy is a mini bag (as you probably knew from the model name) that can be used as a clutch or a shoulder bag (through its detachable strap).  Same as with my other bags with detachable straps, I don’t see myself using the strap too often, though it’s good to at least have that option when I do feel like using it.

Given its size, it might not be the best everyday bag for most people. I do know people who carry very few things (just a small wallet, phone, keys) – this group would probably get to use the Mini Poppy as an everyday bag, but most people would not.  I fall under the latter category.  The Mini Poppy is an ideal clutch for nights out though, or for occasions you find yourself needing a small bag versus a full-sized one.  It has more than enough room for the bare essentials such as a small wallet (either a bi-fold wallet or credit card holder – please note that my continental wallet did not fit as it was too long), a compact mirror/powder, keys, phone, lipstick/lip balm/lip gloss. The Cambridge Satchel Company’s website indicates the following external measurements, so be mindful of these:

Height: 6” (15cm)

Width: 9″ (23cm)

Depth: 3″ (7.5cm)

The Mini Poppy is the Cambridge Satchel Company’s spin on the traditional doctor’s bag, which saw them adding some sophistication and polish to it – and that makes the model all the more interesting.

My bag is in smooth leather, and I already mentioned the divine smell which greeted me upon first opening the dust bag.  I think the leather is of very good quality and it left quite an impression. For the new season, they introduced the Mini Poppy in saffiano leather. Saffiano is supposedly scratch proof and water-resistant, so if you like the look and feel of saffiano versus smooth leather, you might consider that instead.  I am perfectly happy with the smooth leather (and for this particular model, I like the aesthetic more), but I can see how some people might go for saffiano instead.

The Mini Poppy is very light.  Even when full, I am able to carry the bag with one hand very easily. I’ve only used the bag once thus far, but in that one time, there were a number of chances for it to have gotten scratched but it fared quite well (no scratches yet).

The push lock closure is very nice and SUPER easy to use. I tend to open my bags a lot and this was not burdensome at all with the Mini Poppy. This was a pleasant surprise since I thought it would be more of a struggle given the combination of its size and closure type. It opened easily, and slid close very smoothly.

For the right occasion, this bag serves its function as solidly as any other clutch or mini bag out there.

Score: 9/10

Look/Design

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I love the sleek and sophisticated look of the Mini Poppy – the color of mine is quite lovely, too

I think the look is sophisticated and minimalist – quite classy.  Even with that (or perhaps because of it), I found many people looking at it in the one time I’ve used it for dinner.

I find the design very versatile, especially for a mini bag. The handle is well-placed – it feels natural to hold, and the leather is not too slippery for my hand.  I find that some leather clutches tend to be slippery which makes them a bit hard to hold, but I did not have that problem with the Mini Poppy.

It’s logo-free in front (the logo is at the back), which gives it a very clean look.  It also makes the personalization (should you choose to use it) stand out more as there is no logo to distract from it.

If you like the design but are not sure of the size or would prefer a bigger bag in general, the Poppy (the Mini Poppy’s predecessor) might be the better choice for you.  As for me – I have a good number of everyday bags and bigger sized bags already, plus I actually prefer the look of the Mini Poppy versus the regular-sized Poppy for some reason – so I’m quite happy with my Mini Poppy.

I haven’t been this excited about a bag in a long time – this bag made me check out other models from this brand.

Score: 10/10

Interior

The interior is unlined, which is fine.  It makes sense for the design, and it was probably done to reduce weight as well.  I like how deceivingly roomy the inside of the Mini Poppy is. Everything I usually bring with me when I use clutches or mini bags fit, with room to spare – my bifold wallet, lipstick, phablet, pressed powder/compact, keys, sanitizing wipes (yay, quasi-O.C. me), and thin comb. Not bad!

The score reflects the fact the interior isn’t necessarily something special (unlike the leather lining of old Prada bags, or the suede interior of the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour – both made me swoon) – though it is absolutely adequate.

Score: 8/10

Quality and Construction

I feel the bag rises to the occasion in this area, especially for its price point.  It feels very sturdy even if it is light, and it is well-constructed.  The leather looks and feels high quality, and the stitching is excellent. The moment you hold it, you get the feeling that you are carrying a quality product.

Score: 9/10

Value

This is one of the biggest selling points of the Mini Poppy.  It retails for $155, with free shipping – that’s quite a steal, especially considering it’s handmade in the UK.  The bag also came in a gorgeous maroon box, and inside was the bag with its dust bag. The packaging was top-notch – it’s not that common to find high quality bags at this price point anymore, and with such nice packaging to boot.

Score: 10/10

Longevity/Staying Power

The bag was introduced fairly recently. In my humble opinion, this bag has the potential to become a staple in many women’s wardrobe.  I’m not sure if it will ever reach “classic” or “icon” status – but its minimalist design makes it less likely to look dated any time soon.

Score: 8/10

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The Mini Poppy’s packaging – quite oustanding for its price

Conclusion

The Mini Poppy from the Cambridge Satchel Company is a cute little wonder – perfect for occasions when you need a small handbag to use.  Comfortable to carry and made with beautiful leather, the fact it comes in pretty colors that are accessible doesn’t hurt either.  And for that price – it’s a home run.

Over-all score: 9/10

Moving On

I only had one post the whole year of 2016. It was a reflection of where I was personally last year – it was certainly one of the most challenging years of my life.  2016 was the year when my Dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and also the same year he passed away because of it. Two months later, my maternal grandmother passed away too.  Heartbreaking, devastating – even these words are not enough to describe it. Grieving is a process – even now, six months after my Dad’s passing and four months after my grandmother’s – there are days when the pain is indescribable and almost unbearable.

While last year had some good moments too (among them, me going to New York for the international Independent Music Awards because the band I am managing, Jack of None, was nominated in three categories (winning one) ), things I am truly thankful for – at the end of the day, it was their deaths which defined 2016 for me.

Fittingly, the one post I had last year was a tribute to my Mom for her strength in dealing with my Dad’s illness.  At that time, she was taking care of not only my Dad, but also of my maternal grandmother.  In that same post, I said I would probably not write another post as personal as that – yet here I am, almost a year later, writing one that might be even more personal. Had I known my Dad was going to leave us so soon, I might not have made such a bold prediction.

In many ways, writing this is almost therapeutic.  It’s also indicative that perhaps I am moving on a bit more now.  I tried writing a post or two between my last post in 2016 and this one, and just could not get myself to finish either one of them – if this post gets published, then it means that I somehow completed a post, finally.  That in itself is a small win for me.

I also feel like I COULD write posts about bags again soon… last year, I saw myself lose some of the passion I had for handbags. While I still appreciated them, I just did not have the need to check out handbags as often as I used to, and none really captured my heart, save for a few.  These past few weeks though, I have found myself wanting to see (and maybe buy) more handbags again.  This could be yet another indication of some form of moving on for me – which might lead you to think, “How shallow”.  Well, maybe – but for me, it’s not the handbag aspect itself that matters – it’s the fact that my interest or passion in things (prior to my Dad’s illness and passing) is slowly returning.  Again, maybe I am reading a bit too much into this – but I’ll take it.

Dear readers – if you see more posts about bags getting published in this blog, then I think what you will be witnessing is my road to recovery. Maybe, just maybe. You decide.

In that vein, I do hope that more posts come soon… Thanks for your patience and support. Love, strength, and hope to you all.

Of Mother’s Day in May

I haven’t written a blog post in half a year… time flies by so fast.  I still love bags, I’m still here – it’s just that a lot has happened in those six months I was away.  Some great things, some good things, and yes – not so great things as well; terrible, even.

Let’s start with the great things – almost one month ago, my husband released the debut album of his band Jack of None called “Who’s Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear?”  It’s gotten some very good reviews so far, with one of them describing it as,”The experimental rock band’s self-produced debut album is an odd, fascinating combination of poetry, art, and rock into a satisfying whole.” The album is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Microsoft Groove Music, and Band Camp.  My husband A.G. was the producer, composer, guitar player, bassist, and synth programmer on the album – you can see why I am so proud. 🙂  He spent months working on the album and the result is really something else – very thought-provoking and truly different.  So, we were busy preparing for the album release, which was very rewarding – my spare time which would have gone to writing posts went to this for a certain period.

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The debut album of Jack of None (my husband’s band) upon arrival

Another great thing was my husband, our daughter and I getting to spend time with our extended family over Christmas.  We had a fantastic vacation, with lots of family gatherings and holiday cheer.  As for the good, things continued to go quite well for us in our primary career in software development; our daughter Mui continued to thrive and kept building her skills even outside of school, taking initiative in learning Japanese, continuing her piano lessons, and writing her short stories; we were able to travel as a family in the early part of the year both in Asia and in California.

So, on to the not so great… the terrible, in fact.  My father was diagnosed with bone cancer in late January.  During our Christmas vacation, it became apparent that he was not well – we just did not know the extent of his illness until after the holidays.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  Even worse, I had to fly out to another state for work to meet with clients the day after I found out.  It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions since then – devastation, sadness, acceptance, hope.  My father insisted that we should all go on with our lives and not let it get in the way of living our lives to the fullest.  For his sake, I have been doing just that, which is also why this is the first time I am really saying it “out loud”, if you will.  Outside our immediate family members and a few other people (some of my dearest friends will only find out after reading this post), I had not spoken of it to others as I suppose it would have made it more “real”.  Not that it wasn’t.

So we continued to celebrate things like my birthday which came a month after we found out; Valentine’s Day; Mother’s Day; we continued to have dinners out and did fun things with family and friends.  The worst thing would have been for my Dad to feel that we stopped living “normal” lives because of him, so we continued on, consistently reminding ourselves of our blessings (and there were many, still) and remaining strong for ourselves, and for each other.  Most people wouldn’t have guessed anything was wrong as I kept my social media posts lighthearted and positive…that was also my way of remembering not to dwell on the bad, and of being strong and retaining normalcy for our daughter.

Which leads me to the title of this post… May is a very busy month for my mom Carmen – there’s Mother’s Day, their wedding anniversary, and finally – her birthday.  So, this month has brought out a number of emotions from me as I remembered how this month echoes back to her, my mother.  She’s been the one who has had to be strongest through this all, especially since other than my Dad, she’s also been caring for my grandmother who has been battling Alzheimer’s Disease.  Her siblings and in-laws have been wonderful, truly been there for her through it all, but I know how hard the past few months have been for her.  She soldiers on, and she remains strong for me, my brother Francis, and my Dad Monico.

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A bewildered-looking baby me with my Mommy

Growing up, I was very headstrong and while I was a model daughter in some ways (academically I was an honor student and excelled in extracurricular activities as well), I know I gave her a lot of heartache too. We’ve worked out our differences (though from time to time we still argue, as most mothers and daughters do) but I still wish I gave my parents an easier time when I was growing up.  I’ve spent close to two decades trying to be the best daughter I could be, but I still feel like I need more time to give my parents the happiness they deserve.

This is the most personal post I’ve ever written, and will probably be the only one of this nature in my blog, for various reasons; I spent months not telling people and I think that I am sharing now because I am ready, I have truly accepted, and I want to share just how much I admire my parents for their strength, their tenacity, their will, despite what we are going through now.

May isn’t just the month for Mother’s Day – it’s my Mom’s month, for many reasons.  Thanks for everything, Mommy – don’t get tired of being strong for us.

Bag Feature: Kate Spade Wedding Belles License Plate Clutch

Has there ever been a blog more neglected than mine?!  My apologies dear readers – where do I even begin?  Since my last blog post almost 2 months ago, I’ve achieved a personally meaningful career milestone; I went to New York for vacation with family, and back to Washington state for work; my dear husband and I celebrated another wonderful anniversary; our daughter’s school work has gone full speed ahead; I’ve seen my work load and responsibilities significantly increase in order to help cover for someone who’s been ill (still hoping for his speedy and full recovery – all the best to him); watched Boruto – Naruto the Movie with my husband and our daughter (it was a great film, by the way) – in Japanese and with English subtitles; had a pretty epic Halloween celebration; and had some lovely family members over as house guests. I’m pretty sure I missed some things in my list, but I hope you get the idea – with all the things going on the past 2 months, I had to let my blog side in order to attend to other priorities. I’m still pretty busy (ugh, when am I not) – I actually have to go to Philadelphia for work this coming week, among other things (meaning the usual working wife and mother stuff, which I’m sure many of my lovely readers can relate to 😛 ) – but at least I had a little more time to breathe this weekend, so here I am with my latest post 🙂

The unique and attention-grabbing clutch
The unique and attention-grabbing clutch

One of the gifts I got to commemorate another year of married life was the Kate Spade Wedding Belles License Plate clutch.  It’s nothing if not a conversation piece!  It’s designed to look like a New York license plate with the text “MRANDMRS HAPPILY EVER AFTER”.  It has a small wedding car on top which serves as the clutch opening. The look is very unique and the clutch is an attention-grabber off the bat. It also has a detachable golden strap which fits well over the shoulder and doesn’t slip. The interior is surprisingly roomy for a clutch – you can fit a credit card holder, a smart phone, a slim compact/mirror, lip gloss and/or lipstick, some keys and a few other small items.

As some of you probably already know, I am a fan of fun bags and this one doesn’t disappoint!  I have very few clutches as I usually have a hard time editing the contents of my bag enough to make them fit clutches – this one will get more use than others though just because of how adorable, unique, and functional it is.

When used with the shoulder strap
When used with the shoulder strap

Needless to say, I was and am very happy with it! It’s a cute novelty clutch that is both nice to look at and very functional.  I also thought it was an amazing gift for our anniversary – very appropriate for the occasion. 🙂  I’ve gotten compliments and questions on my bag (mostly, where can one buy it and how much it costs).  It is still available for purchase at katespade.com – it seems to be in demand though so I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes out of stock soon.  I’m not sure about Kate Spade’s Black Friday sales, but if you want the clutch and can wait until Black Friday (assuming Kate Spade has sales then, which seems like a pretty safe bet) – then you might want to get yours then.  Cross your fingers that it will still be available by that time!  It should be a good buy at sale price.

Until my next post!  And – here’s hoping it doesn’t take me (close to) 2 months to get to it! 😉

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Bag Feature: Longchamp Miaou

Hi everyone! I am guilty of not writing a post for around 2 weeks and letting this blog slide again, so my apologies. I have my full-time career and things have been very busy on that front the past few weeks (again). I had a pretty bad cold last weekend so I couldn’t use that time to write either… thankfully I was feeling quite well this weekend, so I was able to attend to some errands, take our daughter to the hair salon, and spend quality time with the family. I even had time to write a post today – so here I am with my latest blog post, a Bag Feature on the Longchamp Miaou. Enjoy!

Longchamp typically releases a limited edition bag each season which is whimsical or can be considered a novelty bag. This is on top of the seasonal collaboration Longchamp has with Jeremy Scott. For Spring/Summer 2015, it was the Cage aux Oiseaux. For this Fall 2015, it’s the Miaou.

As its name suggests, the bag has a feline theme. I was “cutified” (a term used by the youth of today… I learned it from our daughter 🙂 ) by the bag when I first saw pictures of it so I knew I definitely wanted it… what I didn’t realize though, was how adorable the bag was in person. The yellow eyes really pop out! I daresay my medium Miaou in Navy could easily become my favorite Longchamp bag. And that’s saying a lot, considering how much I love my other Longchamp bags.

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The back of my Miaou… you have to admit, the text adds to its charm!

What adds to the charm of the bag is the fact the word “MIAOU” is seen on the back. Too cute!

The Miaou also comes in the color Malabar Pink, but I chose the Navy since the color made the eyes pop out more.  The Miaou comes in small, medium and large – the small and large come with long handles, while the medium comes with short handles.

The Miaou in medium is perfect for my needs – big enough to fit my essentials and then some, but not too big that it will overwhelm my rather small frame.

It’s a great bag, versatile and very cute, but not too outlandish. I recommend you grab one if you get the chance!

Look at those eyes... truly what makes this bag extra special!
Look at those eyes… truly what makes this bag extra special!

In closing – many (or all) of  my bags have some sort of story or sentimental value attached to them… this one reminds me of our daughter. My husband and I agreed that the big cat eyes on the bag reminded us of our daughter’s wide eyes when she was a baby… our daughter was also born on the year of the rabbit, which in other East Asian calendars is the year of the cat. Finally – when she used to cry, there were times she really sounded like a cat! Hee hee! 😁

Thanks for reading! May the coming week be kind to all of us. 🙂

Bag Travel Chronicles: Prada Fairy Bag and Prada Nylon Bag

First off – my sincerest apologies for not putting up a new post in practically a month!  I’ve had an incredibly busy (but fulfilling) past few weeks at work, so I spent my weekends relaxing with family and trying to regain energy.  Given it’s a long weekend here (Labor Day weekend), I finally found myself some time (and energy) to write a new blog post.  I did mention in my very first post that my entries might be sporadic given the fact I have a full-time career, I have a family of my own, we also have a band… but rest assured I will always try my best to update this blog as often as I am able. 🙂

Anyway, I had a great week in Seattle (my business trip some weeks back) – met some very intelligent people, learned a lot, and I was able to contribute my own experience and knowledge as well – all in all, I ended that week on a high.  I felt pressured for sure, but I also had fun!  There’s nothing better than being passionate about your work, and I’m thankful my passion translated well that week.  Here’s hoping I’ll have more experiences like that in the not-so-distant future!

My sister-in-law Beatrix and I in front of the late Kurt Cobain's house in Seattle
My sister-in-law Beatrix and I in front of the late Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle a few weeks ago.  I’m carrying my Prada Fairy bag in Cipria in the pic

You must be wondering when the bag discussion is going to start… well, I was going to segue into that.  Since I’ve been traveling quite a bit the past few months, I thought it would be good to share my experiences as far as what bags I used on those trips were (to clarify – I won’t be discussing luggage but bags used when already in my destination).  My go-to bag for amusement parks the past few years has been my Prada nylon shoulder bag.  It’s really tough and water-proof (made of the same material as sails on boats) – for instance the last few times we went to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida, my Prada nylon bag got poured on by very strong rain; it also got stepped on, bumped, even thrown(!) – and it survived admirably.  In fact, after cleaning it with wet wipes, it still managed to come out looking like new!  When we go to concerts (especially outdoor ones), it’s also my default bag.  Just a little over a month ago, I brought it to Lollapalooza when we went to see Metallica.  So to me, my Prada nylon bag is the perfect bag to bring to amusement parks, concerts, and all other trips and occasions where you don’t want to worry about your bag. I did say I wouldn’t really talk about luggage but interestingly enough, my Prada nylon bag is also now my default carry-on.  It’s hassle-free, stress-free, and as tough as they come!

My husband and I in Disney World Orlando last July. My dear hubby is quite shy and didn't want his picture posted so I blocked his face out :P  I'm carrying my black Prada vela nylon shoulder bag (used as cross-body here), which is my go-to amusement park bag. The hot pink bag is our daughter's :)
My husband and I in Disney World Orlando last July. My dear hubby is quite shy and didn’t want his picture posted so I blocked his face out 😛

I’m carrying my black Prada vela nylon shoulder bag (used as cross-body here), which is my go-to amusement park bag. The hot pink bag is our daughter’s 🙂

Now the Prada nylon bag probably makes sense to you as a travel bag.  My next one though – maybe not so much.  I suppose that’s what makes it extra interesting…

Two of my most prized bags in my small collection are my Prada Fairy bags (yes, I have two – my dear hubby found me one in Prugna for Valentine’s Day and I ended up finding another one (this time in Cipria) not too long after… I could not pass up the chance!  Finding one is hard enough but finding two is practically unheard of since they’re limited edition).  It’s rather known that the Prugna version, which has a white background, is more delicate than the other colors so I don’t bring that with me when I travel.  The Cipria version (with a dusty pink background) is not as delicate so it’s a better candidate to bring with me on my trips. It’s still an odd choice over-all though, since it’s more of an artsy bag or a novelty bag versus a bang around travel bag… but for some reason, it turned exactly into that in my case.  I found myself bringing the bag with me to New York and Seattle this year and it did not just survive – it actually thrived!  I brought it with me to Times Square and to our trek to the late Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle and despite the not-so-ideal conditions (Times Square usually has a ton of people and “bag accidents” are just waiting to happen there), my bag came out unscathed.  So now I really love bringing it with me when I travel – after all, it exceeded my expectations, and its roominess doesn’t hurt.  It’s also a consistent conversation piece and head-turner.

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Carrying my Cipria Prada Fairy bag while posing with Minions at Times Square last March… I apologize for the super-touristy double peace sign (SMH)

I have a few more bags that I usually use on my trips, but I will cover those in my next Bag Travel Chronicles post.  My next post will probably be another Bag Feature or a Bag Review.  Either way, stay tuned for that, and thank you once again for taking the time to read my post!  Have a great week ahead!

Bag Accessory in Focus: Fendi Bag Bug

Hi again everyone!

The past two weeks have been hectic for me (lots of work to attend to), so I’ve been letting my blog slide a bit.  I’m back for now, though another week or two might go by without a new post after this  since I’ll be traveling for work next week. Don’t fret too much for me – I’m actually mixing business with pleasure next week, as I’m bringing my hubby and our daughter along.  That should make what I expect to be a stressful period tolerable – maybe even fun! To be fair, I enjoy my work and my business trip will actually be for something I am quite passionate about… but there’s a lot on the line, which is what will make it nerve-wrecking!  Well, wish me luck 🙂

Before I forget though – I mentioned in my last blog post that we were going to see Metallica at Lollapalooza.  Well, we did – and they were AMAZING live.  It was a fantastic show, Metallica exceeded all expectations, and the energy of the crowd that night was just electric!  Needless to say, dear hubby and I had a fantastic night that we will never forget.

Anyway, going back to this post – I thought of changing things up a bit this time and feature a bag accessory instead of a bag.  Bag accessories have been increasing in popularity and in demand the past few years, and the Fendi bag bugs have been at the forefront of this charge. These bag bugs are made of fur (usually a mix of mink, fox, and rabbit) dyed in different colors.  Fendi releases a new batch of bag bugs every season, each with a different personality and color combination.  They are adorable and even have their own names.

Packaging of my Fendi bag bug... it even came with its own dust bag :)
Packaging of my Fendi bag bug… it even came with its own dust bag 🙂

My bag bug is named Bagood (his “official” Fendi name) but we prefer calling him our “Furry Faced Friend”.  FFF is pretty much the family pet right now. 🙂  He has green/blue (honestly not sure how the color is classified, though it looks green to me) fur and pink streaks.  He has the cutest droopy eyes and his fur is super soft.

Some people find the bag bugs overpriced for what they are and do not understand the increasing interest in bag accessories.  From my end, I feel that bag accessories might even be economical in that instead of buying a new bag each time you get “the itch”, you can just change up an existing bag by adding a bag charm or any other bag accessory.  You can use bag accessories on different bags (even all your bags) and an old bag can feel like new with this addition.  I found this to be the case for me – I actually haven’t bought a new bag in a while (gasp!) – I’ve been using FFF / Bagood with the different bags already in my small collection, and I’ve been rotating my bags frequently. This approach has worked and I haven’t found myself wanting a new bag for some time now.

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I’ve been using my “Furry Faced Friend” a.k.a. Bagood the Fendi bag bug with my different bags. Here he is with my Saint Laurent Sac de Jour
I've been using my
I’ve been using my “Furry Faced Friend” a.k.a. Bagood the Fendi bag bug with my different bags. Here he is with my Longchamp Le Foulonne leather bag in the color putty
I've been using my
I’ve been using my “Furry Faced Friend” a.k.a. Bagood the Fendi bag bug with my different bags. Here he is with my Prada saffiano double zip tote in Ottanio

I probably wouldn’t collect Fendi bag bugs though – one is enough for me, methinks 🙂  Bagood / FFF has helped give new life to my bags old and new – even with that, I just cannot justify the price to get another, what more to start a bag bug collection. I cannot judge people who have bag bug collections, of course – if they can afford having many and really love them, then by all means, they can collect whatever they want. It’s their money and I cannot dictate how they should spend it.  As for me, I am enjoying our one Furry Faced Friend / FFF / Bagood – he’s our family friend now and not just a bag bug! 🙂 He also has sentimental value to me since our daughter gave FFF as one of her Mother’s Day gifts to me some months back.

The bag bug is a great accessory to spice up a bag.  It just makes any bag more fun to carry.

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Fendi bag bugs are available for purchase in Fendi boutiques, Fendi.com, and other authorized Fendi points of sale such as Saks and Neiman Marcus.

Well that’s the end of this post!  Thanks again for taking the time to read!  Cross your fingers that my business trip next week will be a success… ’til my next post! 🙂

Bag Feature: Furla Candy Bag

I have a weakness for fun bags.  I like whimsical prints, unique shapes, pops of color.  They just speak to me. Looking at fun prints and colors makes me happy.  At the end of the day – isn’t that what’s important? 🙂

One such fun bag is the Furla Candy. The Furla Candy bag was first released in 2010.  It became an instant hit with its attractive and bold colors, its unconventional and waterproof material, and its fun vibe.  The name “Candy” was perfect for it – the colors certainly reminded people of different candies, and it gave people the same enjoyment as eating the sweets it was named after.

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The bag is made of PVC which makes it waterproof, and it’s also extremely easy to wipe and clean (my Furla SA even told me you could use Windex on it!  Personally never tried it though 😛 ).  You would expect it to be light since it’s made of PVC; however the Candy bag feels quite substantial when carried – while not necessarily heavy, it is not light for sure.  I actually like that about the bag since the material doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy to me.  Mine has proven durable and trusty, as I actually made my Candy bag one of my “beater bags”, meaning it’s one of my bags I feel confident tossing around and not babying at all.  So yes – my Candy bag has seen its share of “bag abuse” and it has survived quite admirably.  Still looks like new, even 🙂

In the past 2 years, Furla has been releasing different versions of the Candy bag – there’s now a mini Candy which comes with a cross-body strap (you can buy a strap for a normal-sized Candy separately) but no lock; there’s also the Baby Candy which is smaller than the regular Candy but bigger than the mini (it doesn’t come with a strap but comes with the lock – it’s really just the baby version of the regular as they’re practically exactly the same except for the dimensions); they released croc-embossed Candy bags last year; they have glittered ones; and they now have Candy bags with different hardware.  Of course, each season also brings different colors to choose from.

The lock which comes with a regular-sized Candy bag
The lock which comes with a regular-sized Candy bag

I have a croc-embossed Candy bag in the color magnolia-rose.  I like it because the fact it’s croc-embossed adds a new dimension to it.  My daughter ended up really liking mine so we went to buy her her own – but this time a Mini.  Hers isn’t croc-embossed (she likes it that way), and it’s super cute!

My croc-embossed Furla Candy bag with my daughter's mini Candy.  Both are in the color magnolia-rose :)
My croc-embossed Furla Candy bag with my daughter’s mini Candy. Both are in the color magnolia-rose 🙂

The design of the bag reminds me of a Speedy – it’s like a Speedy made of PVC, if you will.  If you want a bag to take out for rainy/snowy days that adds some pop of color to your outfit, this bag is for you. It’s also ideal for bringing to the beach and picnics. It’s a great outdoor bag – you don’t have to worry about sand or dirt getting on (or even in) it, as you just wash it under water, wipe it off, and it’s as good as new!

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The “Made in Italy” tag of my Candy bag

To me, one of the bag’s biggest selling points is the fact it’s made in Italy – it feels very well-made, and the price is very reasonable considering the quality and craftsmanship (for a PVC bag 😛 ).

The Furla Candy bags are available for purchase through Furla.com, Furla boutiques, and other authorized Furla points of sale.

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Thanks for reading my latest blog post!  How fast time flies… the weekend is upon us again. My husband and I are going to Lollapalooza tomorrow to watch Metallica live!  That should be fun. Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂  Until my next post…

Bag Review: Balenciaga City

Hi again everyone!

This will be my fourth bag review, and it will be of the Balenciaga City.  I finally got around to writing a review on one of my soft, slouchy, unstructured bags in the City.  My previous reviews had been on my structured handbags (Saint Laurent Sac de Jour, Givenchy Antigona, and Prada saffiano double-zip tote), so it’s quite refreshing to write about a bag that is truly different from the ones I had written about before.

Happy Reading!

Bag: Balenciaga City

Size: one size (medium)

Color: Mauve from 2013 Spring/Summer collection

Hardware: Regular

Introduction

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The Balenciaga City was introduced in the early 2000’s by Balenciaga’s then-creative director Nicolas Ghesquière (who is now at the helm of Louis Vuitton after leaving Balenciaga a few years ago).  He released the Balenciaga First (so named as it was the first model of the now famous motorcycle bag line of the brand) and followed it up with the City.  It might seem unbelievable to us now but back then, company top brass dismissed the motorcycle bags when Ghesquière first presented them.  Ghesquière then had to give out some free motorcycle bags to models and “It” girls such as Kate Moss.  The aforementioned ladies loved their bags, and this caused the Balenciaga executives to re-think their impression on the bags’ potential for success.  They eventually gave the motorcycle bags the push, and the rest is history.

In the early 2000’s I was still in college and had no business thinking of expensive handbags (in my opinion anyway).  I had other priorities and didn’t feel I was financially independent enough to even consider buying luxury items.  I felt more confident purchasing luxury items for myself when I made executive after some years of working, and this marked the beginning of my love affair with handbags.  A few years after that I eventually fell in love with the Balenciaga City – the colors were divine, the leather was soft to the touch, and the bag was so light!

My City is from the 2013 Spring/Summer collection(it feels strange thinking about how 2013 was two years ago at this point… I feel like I just got my bag).  The color is called Mauve (though color purists would probably protest and say it’s really not the color mauve… I can see where they’re coming from, but I still love Balenciaga’s “Mauve” from 2013 😉 ).  It’s lambskin (Agneau) and not goatskin (Chevrè).  The City bags were made of goatskin until 2007 or 2008, after which the City was made from lambskin instead (except for some limited edition and metallic edge City bags which are Chevrè).  Most Balenciaga oldies seem to prefer the Chevrè Bals as the leather was thicker, “chewier” and deemed more durable.  I like both though I suppose I can say I slightly prefer Chevrè over Agneau – but this is not to say that I do not like Agneau.  I have some Balenciaga bags in Chevrè (but not City) and I must say the Chevrè really does have a “chewy” quality to it.  One must own a Chevrè Bal to understand what all this talk of “chewy” leather is all about. 😛  I for one didn’t get it before that.  Anyway – again, I like the Agneau Bals, but just a little less than how much I like the Chevrè ones.

So – going back to my Mauve Bal City – it was my first City and I was really quite smitten.  Read on to find out why. 🙂

General Features and Usability

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The Balenciaga City has hand-stitched handles and it also comes with a removable shoulder strap.  I use both the handles and the strap though I find that I use the handles more often.

The bag is extremely light – one of its biggest assets, in my opinion.  Even when fully loaded, the bag is still very light. The City is one of the favorite leather bags of people with back and shoulder problems precisely because of this.

One of the problems of the bag as far as usability is concerned is the shoulder strap (this seems to be an area overlooked by some designers).  It just keeps slipping off my shoulders, though I found that wearing certain materials (such as wool) for my top or jacket decreases or removes this problem. I can’t wear the same material for my tops/jackets all the time though, and it would seem ridiculous to do so just so the strap of my bag stays on my shoulder.  There have been known workarounds to this problem outside of wearing certain materials – some say that the weight distributor pad on top of the strap is what causes it to keep slipping, so removing that has solved the problem for them.  People I trust have said the same, so I think that is probably a good workaround, but I cannot find myself doing it because removing the pad from the strap is not necessarily a straightforward thing (not to me, anyway).  I would worry too much about scratching or damaging the leather of the pad and in general I just don’t feel comfortable with DIY bag modifications.  So, the strap has proved slightly problematic for me. Besides – for the price – I don’t think I’d have to even apply DIY techniques… couldn’t they just have given me a better strap off the bat? 🙂

Other than that, I find the bag very usable due to its weight and capacity.

Score: 8/10

Look/Design

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Isn’t she just gorgeous? I love her color 🙂

The design of the City is very “rocker chic” – edgy and casual with a rock-and-roll vibe (especially the ones with tassels and regular hardware), yet also sophisticated and yes, chic.  One of the design elements I love the most is the hand-stitched handles – I just love holding them and they look nice to me.  The tassels on the motorcycle bags with regular hardware are also a nice touch.  If you do not like tassels, the City bags with gold/silver/rose gold hardware (versus regular brass hardware) do not come with tassels.  I like the look of the bag regardless of hardware (regular hardware, gold hardware, silver hardware, rose gold hardware, metallic edge – with the possible exception of the covered hardware as I am not a fan of bags with covered hardware), though my favorite has always been motorcycle bags with regular hardware.  The bag has no visible logo on its exterior, and Balenciaga is known for releasing bags with beautiful pops of color.  I love the color of mine – called Mauve, it’s a pretty pastel color that manages to be usable and is surprisingly easy to match with clothes (mine anyway, as I have quite a number of neutral clothing pieces in my wardrobe).  As with all Balenciaga bags, the color of my City seems to change under different lighting.  Bals have a chameleon-like quality to their colors which adds to their appeal.  The combination of the bag’s design with its color has turned heads while I walked along Michigan Ave.  The Magnificent Mile is home to many designer boutiques so I suspect quite a number of people walking in the area are fashion-savvy (or just tourists 😛 ) so they probably know what a Balenciaga City is. Even if you don’t, the bag still manages to catch the eye.

I will say that the bag’s design is not for everyone, as is the case for most or all bags, I suppose – the divide is however more highlighted with the Bal motorcycle bags.  The design can be polarizing since some people find it too busy (with the tassels) or too plain (without the tassels for the silver/gold/rose gold hardware).  I am firmly one of the Balenciaga motorcycle bag lovers – the design appeals to me, and works for me.

Score: 9/10

Interior

Yes, I still haven't removed the plastic covering the metal plate... I don't want it to get scratches :P
Yes, I still haven’t removed the plastic covering the metal plate… I don’t want it to get scratches 😛

Again, if you are one of those who cares little to none for bag interiors, then you can skip this section altogether. 🙂  I will reiterate that a bag’s interior is a key aspect to me so I make it a point to include this section.  Anyway, the City has a black cotton-lined interior with zip pocket, 2 slide-in pockets and a Balenciaga-embossed palladium plaque.  I like the Balenciaga-embossed palladium plaque/metal tag inside the bag, as it looks good and adds a level of “seriousness” to an otherwise fun and lighthearted bag.  The material of the lining feels a bit thin but I haven’t had issues with holes or damages. The interior isn’t bad but it definitely doesn’t feel luxurious (my favorite interiors/linings are still those of my Saint Laurent Sac de Jour and of my older Prada bags with leather lining – swoon). It’s very basic outside the metal plate, and perfectly fine – just not great.

Score: 7.5/10

Quality and Construction

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My City has very good quality – its color has not faded in the two years I’ve owned it, I haven’t noticed any scuffs or damages, and it still looks beautiful.  Some might argue that it might be because it’s not my everyday bag (frankly, I don’t really have an everyday bag since I rotate my bags so much – I use a different one practically everyday. I know not many people have the patience to rotate regularly as it can be bothersome – I have however mastered the art of the easy bag content transfer 😛 ) – they might be right.  Some people think the leather of the City (especially the Agneau ones) is too thin and delicate.  I’ve seen some with light damages posted on the internet.  It’s true that my City is not my everyday bag (as I don’t really have one to speak of) but I haven’t been too careful with it.  I’ve put it on the floor of some places for times I did not have a choice but to do so (I took a friend to Willis Tower and when we were taking photos by a glass balcony at the Skydeck I had to put my City on the floor then… ); I’ve also dropped my City a few times just from plain clumsiness; I’ve bumped it into people and things.  Even with all of that, my City still looks great.  So just speaking from my personal experience, I think the quality of the City is very good.

Score: 8.5/10

Value

The City is not too expensive when compared to other premier designer handbags made in Italy as it is one of the few ones left which costs less than $2000 (for the City with regular hardware anyway).  My City cost even less since I got mine before the latest price increase. Mine has held up really well and so far I feel like it was well worth the price.

Score: 8.5/10

Longevity/Staying Power

The City has been around for over 10 years and is still covetable.  Of course it no longer has its “It” bag status and probably does not sell as well now as it did back in the early to mid 2000’s – however it is still one of the biggest attractions in the Balenciaga handbag line, and is a staple in many handbag lovers’ arsenal.

Score: 9/10

Conclusion

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The Balenciaga City changed the handbag game over ten years ago, and it’s still going strong today. Its days as an “It” bag are behind it, but it’s still a favorite among handbag aficionados.  Its many eye-catching colors, light weight, soft leather, and versatility have enabled the City to remain a significant player in today’s competitive handbag world.

Over-all score: 8 (8.42 actually, but I rounded it off to 8 🙂 )

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to read my latest bag review.  The weekend’s close enough… enjoy the coming weekend! 😀