WEEKLY ROUNDUP

Welcome to the very first installment of a new series, "Weekly Roundup," where I'll be sharing things that I've discovered over the past week. I regularly share interesting articles and fashionable pieces that catch my eye over on Instagram, so I figured, why not organize everything into a neat little blog post?

On my mind and online:

1. Hong Kong

If you follow the news, you've probably heard something about what's going on in Hong Kong currently. You can get a quick summary here, here, and here, but there's a boatload of information at your disposable if you simply Google, "Hong Kong protests." As someone who is admittedly pretty neutral when it comes to politics, what's going on in Hong Kong has triggered and affected me greatly. It's made my heart ache and my head hurt. I've shed plenty of tears thinking about the future of Hong Kong come 2047 and it's fully in abusive hands.

I was only just starting school when Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997. I don't remember any of this, but it was an unforgettable and solemn day that's forever ingrained in Hong Kong people's memories. Since then, it's been a sore topic of conversation for my family, and it's getting worse with time. It's been horrifying to watch Hong Kong, a place that my family has lived in and called home for many many generations, get torn apart by a heartless country. I'm disgusted with everything that China is doing -- not honoring "one country, two systems," and attacking the basic human rights and freedom that is valued by every single Hong Konger, to name a few. It's hard to express this cohesively, but it breaks my heart to witness my identity being systematically destroyed well before the impending doom that is 2047. That stuff cuts deep. On top of my identity crisis that I've been experiencing this year abroad, I'm not in a good place right now.

Since I'm currently in mainland China, I have to watch what I say and write (otherwise, I'd have police breaking down our door and arresting me -- oh, the joys of surveillance, censorship, and no freedom of expression), but I have a whole other blog post planned for when I'm back on US soil. In the meantime, this article marvelously sums up an issue that I, and many people who identify as Hong Kongers, people's whose families hail from Hong Kong, feel strongly about.

I have lots of thoughts on this because it's an issue that's near and dear to my heart and my family. I'm confident that the resilient people Hong Kong will continue fighting for democracy and freedom. In a perfect world, Hong Kong would still be a British colony, free, thriving, and safe and sound from China. I'm praying for a miracle. Stay strong, Hong Kong.

2. Taylor Swift

I first found myself jamming out to Taylor Swift in 2008, when a friend featured "Our Song" on her MySpace page. (Side note, have you visited MySpace lately? I barely even recognized it...) Anyway, I've been a low key fan since. I've never attended any of her concerts, regrettably, but always stayed on top of her newest releases and videos. Like many others, I thought that Taylor had a knack for writing catchy tunes with meaningful lyrics. My love of her music topped off with "reputation," which I felt was a strange, off-brand era, which I didn't relate to in any way, shape, or form. Let's see how "Lover" turns out.

She recently penned a letter expressing her anger and bewilderment with her former label being bought by her long-time bully, Scooter Braun. So now, all the music she's ever made is owned by a man she abhors. Whether you're a TS fan or not, you have to admit that that's a pretty daunting scenario. I, for one, would hate to have my creations sold to my worst enemy.

But while I understand that she's furious about the deal and apparently not having had a fair chance to buy her music back, wasn't Scott Borchetta simply doing business, a.k.a. selling to the highest bidder? She was well aware of the fact that Scott was going to sell the company, so she knew that her music would be passed on. It was just unfortunately sold to the "wrong person," which is why we're now watching all this drama unfold.

I've read statements from both parties, which are so conflicting, I don't know who to believe. I do think that artists should own their work, but they usually rely heavily on the record company to rocket them into existence, so to speak. I think both parties deserve credit here. It's been so interesting to read up on people's takes on this issue -- it's divisive, but both sides have great points. What's your view on this?

3. Summertime sadness

Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you that summer is my favorite season. As a child, I loved summer because school was out, and really, what's better than that? My birthday is in June, as is Samuel's, so overall, it's a special month filled with celebrations. I also secretly love seeing the blanket of depression lift, resulting in everyone being in a brighter, happier mood.

The downside of summer? Mosquito bites. It's been a lifelong issue of mine. I was even hospitalized for mosquito bites when I was four. Thankfully, things haven't gotten that bad again, but I take precaution year-round, especially once spring rolls around. I take out all the bug zappers, insect repellants, and give my friends over at Orkin a call. But nonetheless, mosquito bites are just a fact of life for me.

I'm still on the hunt for an insect repellant that is effective. I've been using this repellant for over a year, which I believe has kept many mosquitos away, but it still doesn't stop the hungry ones. I've basically come to terms that I could douse my body in DEET, and mosquitos would still find a way to prey on me. If you know of a repellant that you think works wonders, please help a girl out!

I've found that when I do get bites, the quickest way to ease the itch and to get rid of them is to put a generous amount of Benadryl gel on the spot and cover it up with a bandaid. This is effective for me because the bandaids create a barrier to keep me from mindlessly itching at the spots. If the itching is unbearable, I pop an Benadryl, cover myself in some bug spray, and hop into bed for some zzz's.

Another dangerous drawback of summer is the heat. Being outside and enjoying the sunshine is all fun and games until the heat exhaustion kicks in. Trust me, it's awful. I've gotten it several times over the past few months. I hope I won't experience it again, but just wanted to give y'all a heads up that it strikes spontaneously, and by the time you've noticed that something's off, it's usually too late. So remember to monitor how you feel, hide out in the shade or the AC, drink lots of water, and stay safe!

4. My closet

I moved in with Samuel in July 2017. A month in, I had converted the old guest room into my closet space. I had two of these bookshelves put in, picked out a dresser, a clothing rack, a gorgeous mirror, and then the project came to a halt. I'm not exactly sure what happened -- perhaps I was overwhelmed with the move and figuring out life in a different city. But when we move back home this August, I have every intention of completing the space ASAP.

I've already arranged for my mom to fly out to work on my closet with me and to keep me in check. First things first, I have plans to repaint the walls either white or a soothing grey-blue shade. Depending on the wall color, I have several rug and curtain options to choose from. I'll also be swapping out my year-old bookshelves for these ones. Good news is I can repurpose the old shelves in the sun room, so they won't go to waste. I wanted to have my shoes and bags easily accessible and on display on the shelves, but being the germaphobe that I am, was afraid of my things getting dirty. With the glass doors, I can finally be able to have my things visible and free from dust.

I had seen people put up hat walls, which I loved, but since I only had one hat up until last month, it didn't make sense to hang it up. Now that I have a small collection of hats, I'll be adding a little hat wall in my space to spruce up the room. I'm going to pick up this simple floor-length mirror, as my other mirror isn't as practical as I had hoped. There was talk of a chandelier, though it'll be a finishing touch, as I haven't decided if I want a glamorous space or something more casual. If there's room, I'll even add a little chair or bench to round out the room.

That's about all that I have planned in terms of my closet project. I'm sure I'll think of little things here and there along the way, but I'll be sure to keep you all posted over on my Instagram story, and when everything is completed, I'll put together a closet tour post on here.

5. House hunting

While we're on the topic of living spaces, Samuel and I have plans to begin looking for a new house that's more fitting for us. Our current house is fine (no pressing issues and there's enough space), so there's no immediate need for a move, but we want to search for something in a better neighborhood that we both like with plenty of space for two people, and eventually, kids and pets.

Obviously this isn't something that we'll accomplish in a few months' time, but it's definitely on our radar. It's exciting, even though we haven't even started our search, that we're making this next big step in our lives!

6. The psychology of designer handbags

I recently came across this article, which was an interesting short read. Anytime fashion intersects with the social sciences, I'm in, and how I wish there was more of that out there. For my senior seminar thesis, I explored fashion as art, which I think is what ultimately propelled me into starting a fashion blog. I had hoped that this piece would delve into some case studies, but overall, still a fun little read.

The article confirmed much of what I had suspected: that designer handbags are a rite of passage for women. Just like getting your first piece of Tiffany & Co. jewelry from your parents for Christmas. You were entrusted with a valuable item, which demonstrated your coming-of-age. For many young women, acquiring their very first designer handbag, or any designer item, for that matter, is a sign of independence. It's also a staple piece that displays their individuality, one that isn't as mass-produced and as easily attainable as the cookie-cutter bag found on the shelves of departments stores all around the world. But what was once solely an item coveted purely for the sake of having as a display of economic prosperity and a status symbol is now almost commonplace. Do you ever wonder why?

Women are opting to spring for a pricey bag to accompany their otherwise average outfits, even if they aren't financially fit to do so. Perhaps because of the reasons discussed above. Or maybe because in a world of fast fashion, a trusty designer handbag will have greater longevity, acting as an impressive no-fail companion to any and all outfits. Can it be the effect of the "fake it 'till you make it" mentality or social influence? For some people, it can be as simple as wanting to be a part of something exclusive and owning something that is elusive.

Personally, when I made my first designer handbag purchase, it was a monumental "I'm a big girl now" moment. In fact, I didn't know much about haute couture or frankly, much about the fashion industry at that point. I still don't. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was most likely drawn in by the glitzy Chanel name versus the structure and design of my bag. But I was proud: I finally owned Chanel. It was a pink boy bag, which I wore everywhere. It was definitely an accurate representation of me -- feminine, youthful, and whimsical yet maintaining very traditional, timeless characteristics.

I believe in the longevity of designer handbags, that they hold their value, and will someday make for treasured hand-me-downs. It wasn't until I had my first designer bag that I began to appreciate design and craftsmanship. I slowly came to the realization that I had a literal piece of art in my hands. I started to take time to learn about the brands and their design and production process. Handbags are painstakingly handcrafted, usually taking up to 18 hours by a handful of craftsmen. It is a labor of love. And that's when I was hooked. Each bag is its own -- no two are the same, and there are very few created.

So if you were to ask me what my designer handbags mean to me, I would tell you that they are more than an extension of my personality and my style. While they might not go with everything in my wardrobe, I see something in each piece that makes me happy, that speaks to my soul. If my bags end up collecting dust sitting on a shelf, how is that any different than a painting, as long as I enjoy them?

Fashion finds:

1. There are so many awesome sales going on this week! Here are some that caught my eye:

Kate Spade: extra 40% off sale items with code BIGDEAL

J. Crew: 40% off full-price styles and an extra 50% off sale items with code FIREWORKS

Anthropologie: extra 50% off sale items (no code required)

Urban Outfitters: extra 40% off sale items (no code required)

ASOS: 20% off with code HAPPYJULY4TH

Coach: extra 50% off all sale items (no code required)

Banana Republic: extra 50% off all sale items and 40% off women's items (no code required)

GAP: 40% off with code GREAT

Bloomingdale's: extra 30% off sale items and extra 50% off clearance items (no code required)

LOFT: 40% off and free shipping with code HBDUSA

Macy's: 20% off with code FOURTH

And don't forget, Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale is coming up! Cardholders can shop the sale early, from July 12th-18th. It'll be open to the general public from July 19th through August 4th, in stores and online. This is their best and biggest sale of the year, so don't miss out! It's a good one because everything that's on sale is new for fall, not stuff from the last season. There are also hundreds of beauty bundles that are a steal, so now's a wonderful time to stock up on your favorites!

2. Headbands are having a moment and I'm all for it! As an avid headband collector in middle school (I still have them stashed somewhere...), I'm looking forward to dusting off my now-vintage styles, and adding a few new knot styles in the process. I've linked a a handful of headbands at all different price points below:

3. H&M has several budget-friendly blue and white pieces that I've been drooling over. I spotted this dress and this shirtdress yesterday that screamed my name, but of course, they didn't carry any sizes over a US 4 at the store. I don't actually own anything in a toile print, so I'm really hoping to pick up a thing or two from this collection. If I recall correctly, they also had a button-down skirt in the same print, along with these paper bag shorts, bodysuit, tie-sleeve dress, and blazer.

As I'm browsing through their catalogue, I'm reminded of how much I used to be obsessed with H&M and Zara. Both are wonderful stores that offer a generous selection of fashionable clothing and accessories that don't break the bank.

4. I can't seem to stop buying all the straw things -- bags, hats, home decor, you name it! It's been two years since I started collecting straw bags, and I don't see it dying down. With all the traveling we've been doing around Asia, I've been lucky enough to come across some one-of-a-kind local and handmade straw and bamboo products that I'll treasure forever. Not only are they stylish and practical, they'll serve as mementos from those trips. Have you jumped on the straw bandwagon?

5. A few more things from here and there that I wanted to share...

- I'm swooning over this J. Crew x Liberty swimsuit!

- I ordered this case for my iPhone X and this one for my iPhone 7, as my current ones have seen better days.

- I must get my hands on this Lilly Pulitzer dress!

6. We're going to a wedding in October, and I'm clueless as to what I'll be wearing. I despise fall weather because it never seems to be able to make up its mind, and late fall in New England is as bad as it gets. Any ideas are welcome!

Whew! I think I got a bit carried away and this post got lengthy -- there's just so much to share! I'll try to keep it shorter for the next one, I promise. Hope y'all enjoyed browsing through my finds this week, and as always, feel free to share any thoughts or interesting finds of your own down in the comments below.