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Athena Scalzi

Call Me Britney Because Oops I Did It Again

Athena ScalziMany of you have been asking about how my semester away from the blog went, and today I’m here to finally quell the curiosity!

Right up front I’m just gonna say: I blew it again. Old habits die hard, I guess.

I had signed up for four classes: Intro to Humanities, Intro to Communications, Race and Diversity, and Cell Biology. All were required, and all were 3 credit hours each (except biology which was 4). Cell Biology was on Monday from 9am to 11:15am, and the rest were back to back on Tuesday, starting at 10am and ending at 3pm. So, four classes, two days in person a week, it didn’t sound so hard. Or at least, it didn’t sound completely impossible.

I remember the night before I went to my first day of biology, I was in tears because until then I hadn’t thought to check the syllabus that was posted online, which said I needed to have read all of chapter one before the first day. It turned out I had purchased the wrong access code from the campus bookstore, so I couldn’t access the textbook to read the thirty pages, and it was already eleven at night. So I freaked out.

I didn’t want to go to class unprepared. Thinking of showing up without having read the first chapter gave me anxiety so badly I almost couldn’t bring myself to go to class, because the thought of the facing the professor killed me inside. What if she asked me something about the first chapter?! What if there was a pop quiz?! As most anxiety-inducing things go, it ended up not being even remotely a big deal, because no one had read the chapter and she didn’t really mind, she just said make sure you read it at some point this week.

For the first week, it was easy. Everyone loves syllabus week. That week of introductions and that feeling of getting back into things, color coordinating your folders to your classes (green for science, purple for humanities, obviously). And for a second you feel like you really can do this, and that things will be okay this time.

But then the assignments come. And the second you’re done with one, there’s another. Another paper to write, another virtual lab to do, another quiz to take. Then, when/if you finally get through all of that, there’s studying to be done for weekly tests, midterms, finals, you know how it goes. It’s just nonstop devoting all your time and energy to stuff that you don’t want to be devoting any time and energy to! But, them’s the breaks, right?

Every time I logged onto my laptop to do an assignment, I would pretty much freak out merely reading the instructions for the assignment. I have to read forty pages of a textbook, do 845 fill-in-the-blank vocab words, write a five-page paper on Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, cite all my sources in MLA format (8th edition), and take a chapter test? For just one class?! I think I’d rather lie down in front of a train. A moving one.

It all felt like too much, way too much, right from the start. I got the urge to drop something. I needed to do something that would take some of the weight off. So in the second week, I dropped communications. I picked this one because my professor was a fucking racist, sexist, homophobic piece of shite.

Anyways, now I only had three classes to focus on, which again sounded completely manageable. Three is easier than four. I could do this.

And yet somehow I couldn’t! I would spend hours with my laptop open, staring at an assignment, and not doing any of it. Just agonizing over the fact that I had to do it, lamenting that I could be spending this time doing something else, guilting myself for not just shutting the fuck up and doing it.

I’d crack open my textbook and spend what felt like forever reading the same page over and over again because none of it was processing. Something something hydrophilic covalent bond blah blah signal receptors yada yada polarized valence electrons. What the fuck was I reading? The words meant nothing, they were just letters strung together to form something that looked like a sentence, but I’m not convinced they really were.

I kept getting so mad at the fact I didn’t understand the content, and was so convinced I could never possibly understand it, that I would just completely wing the multiple choice assignments. What should’ve taken me three hours took me fifteen minutes because I would just choose one and figure I had a 1/4 chance to get it right. So I kept getting forties and fifties on the assignments, and tests certainly weren’t any better. And so I started failing biology.

And soon enough I started failing the other two. But I have much less of an excuse for those two. It’s not like I didn’t understand it, as opposed to biology, which I genuinely can’t fucking comprehend. The other two were filled with content I cared about. I love sociology! I love art! How could I not do well in something I care so much about?

Truthfully, I don’t know. I can go to class, and I can talk about paintings and flying buttresses, and I loved discussing deindustrialization and the prison industrial complex. I like learning. I just couldn’t do the work.

Homework is truly the bane of my existence. Even when I was a kid in elementary, I had the hardest time doing homework, though I exceled in the classroom setting and was top of the game in standardized testing. Homework has always been my downfall, and college is a million times worse than junior high or high school ever was.

I feel like I’m buried under a crushing pile of assignments. I drown in it. I can’t breathe. It kills me. Slowly. Surely.

And the guilt is the nail in my coffin, built out of paper. Made with the pages of textbooks, the pages of my five-subject notebooks, the pages of the final papers I never wrote.

Every day that I went to class, I would cry the whole drive home. Every time I would try to do an assignment, I would cry. Cry at my inability to do simple things, cry at my hatred for being forced to do something that means nothing to me and brings me no joy, cry at the fact that if I had just gotten this right the first time at Miami I wouldn’t have to be doing it now.

Cry at what a complete failure I am.

Then came the time to tell my parents again that I was failing again. A painful repeat, but I’m nothing if not used to it by now. After all, it is the fifth semester I’ve failed.

The next day, November 1st, was the last day to drop a class, so I walked in and dropped all three. So instead of a bunch of F’s, I just have a bunch of W’s. But we all know what those W’s represent.

Anyways, time to get back in the saddle. I go back to school in two weeks. I signed up for two classes this semester, Intro to Geology and Intro to Anthropology. Both are required, one is 3 credit hours and one is 4 credit hours. Anthropology is all online, and geology is Tuesday and Thursday from noon to two.

Sounds doable, doesn’t it?

I guess we’ll see.

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

How I Totaled My Car (PS: I’m Fine)

On December 12th, I went to my friend’s ugly sweater party at her house in Columbus. After a few hours of socializing and dancing (badly), I ended up starting my trek home at around 2:30am. It’s not the longest drive in the world, but it is long enough to be a pain in the ass, especially in the middle of the night.

It only took me about ten minutes to get out of Columbus, and then it was smooth sailing on the interstate. It was one of those times where it seemed like there was truly no one else on the road, except the occasional semi all the way in the right lane. Maybe it’s because it was so late (or so early).

I was all the way in the left lane, going the usual highway speed of about 75mph, when suddenly there was a tiny little piece of something in the road. I ran over it and thought, huh, I wonder what that was. Then, for the briefest second, I saw a destroyed car in the right lane, and by the time I looked back at the road, there was huge piece of something in the road.

It was large enough, in fact, that upon running over it, I caught air, my airbags went off, my front tires popped, and my vehicle was immediately totaled.

With my ears ringing and my eyes wide from being stunned by the airbags, my first thought was did that really just happen? and my second thought was I should pull over.

And so I pulled over into the left shoulder, threw it into park, and immediately got out to breathe in the non-smoky, freezing night air. The adrenaline hit was instant, and I knew it was why I started shaking immediately, separate from the cold. Upon getting out, I realized I hadn’t gotten over enough, and part of my car was still in the left lane. I pushed aside the airbags and got back in, and tried to pull over more, but my car was completely dead. The underside had been ripped apart by whatever I hit, and fluids from my engine were gushing out onto the pavement.

Again, I got out and looked back at the car that I had seen. The smashed car was across the highway from me, and it looked like it had been rear-ended so hard that the back half was pancaked into the front half. Obviously, it had been in a collision, so where was the other car? I looked ahead on the highway, and it was so dark out I almost missed it, but there was the other car, flipped upside down in the middle lane.

Immediately, I ran towards the flipped over car. All I could think about was how there were probably people trapped inside, hurt or dying, and I wanted to help. It was further away than it looked. Turns out highways are pretty massive.

Upon reaching the car, I called out, “Hello?” Immediately I heard the sound of someone on the inside banging on the windows.

“Help me! Let me out!” they yelled. I tried pulling on the doors, but they were locked, or maybe just stuck, but either way I couldn’t open them.

“I can’t get the doors open,” I replied. It was then that a semi blew past me a few feet away, and it occurred to me that I was quite literally standing in the middle of the I-70. I looked back to see if there were any other cars coming, considering that they could smash right into the flipped over car (and me) if they were traveling in the middle lane, and in looking back I saw that a highway patrol officer had pulled up to the smashed car I initially saw.

“The cops are here, I’m going to tell them you’re trapped,” I told whoever was inside.

I ran back to my car and saw the cop standing by the other car talking to someone.

“Help!” I yelled. They both looked over and the cop yelled back, “Stay there!” I stayed put and waited for him to run over to me.

“Someone’s trapped in their car!” I pointed to the flipped car, which was barely visible, to which the cop said “my god,” and ran to it.

The next thing I knew, three more patrol cars and three ambulances showed up. I stayed by my car and stood in a place that I was easily visible, and was approached a couple of times by different officers asking me if I was hurt. I kept saying no, then they’d go off and deal with something more urgent.

As I stood around, I decided to look around some more and take pictures, because I found the whole thing kind of interesting and figured this was a pretty rare occurrence. In doing so, I followed the trail of red metal from my car back to where I hit the thing in the road, and I discovered that it was the back axle of the first car I saw. One of the tires was still attached.

They shut down the highway by laying down a line of flares, causing a traffic jam. I thought about how much I would’ve hated to be stuck in traffic at 3am.

Eventually, a paramedic came up and asked the same thing I’d been asked a dozen times, and while I assured him I wasn’t hurt, I mentioned that I was cold, and it was starting to make me numb. So he took me to one of the ambulances and let me sit inside to take my information until another officer was ready to take my statement.

“Is there someone hurt? Does anyone need this ambulance?” I asked as I stepped in. “I don’t want to take it if someone else needs it more.”

“No, no one is hurt,” he replied. “The other two drivers are fine, you all refused treatment so no one is getting taken to the hospital.” All three of us were completely uninjured? That seemed lucky.

After a bit, an officer came and told me to come with him to his car, and I sat in the front seat and filled out a paper giving my statement. The guy from the first car I saw was sitting in the back seat doing the same thing.

“Where’s the other guy?” I asked the officer, who then informed me the other driver was impaired, so he was in the back of a different car (most likely in cuffs). Then, a tow truck came and started taking my car away.

The officer got out to do something, and I turned around to talk to the guy.

“Okay, what the hell happened?” I asked. He told me that he was traveling in the center lane going about 70mph, when suddenly this other car came flying up behind him, going at least a hundred if not over. He claimed that he tried to get into the right lane to get out of his way, but in the middle of doing so was smashed into and went spiraling out of control, meanwhile the car that hit him flipped over.

Somebody came and picked that guy up from the scene a few minutes later. Meanwhile me and the other driver got taken back to the station. I sat in a room and waited for my ride. The impaired guy was put in the room next to me, and I heard the officers tell him he was going to jail, and then I heard him start sobbing.

I got picked up at around 5am, and it was about another hour and a half before I was able to lay down in bed and finally sleep.

Long story short, there was an accident, I was just minding my beeswax when I suddenly hit the debris from the accident. My accident was considered separate from the other accident. I was not cited for anything and was assured by the officers many times that I was at fault for nothing, no one was hurt, and I don’t know if the impaired driver ended up getting actually sentenced to jail or if he just got his license revoked. I got a new car the next day (a used car), and started driving again immediately.

Now, it’s been almost three weeks and I feel okay. Though, things in the road scare me far more than they used to. I never realized how much shit there is in the road all the time. Plastic bags, soda cans, branches, there’s so much that we just casually run over everyday and it obviously doesn’t affect your car or anything.

But there have been several times over the past three weeks when it wasn’t just a can. I was driving to the grocery store and there was an entire full trash bag in the other lane. Like one of the heavy duty black trash bags. Another time, I was on the highway again and there was a huge board of wood laying in the road that I had no choice but to run over. Shortly after that, there was an entire tire!

Sometimes, you hit things, and it’s just a little bump, other times, you hit an axle and it destroys your car.

So, yeah, my anxiety has been a little higher. I’m hoping it goes away after a while. Here’s a selfie I took while I was in the cop car.

It’s New Years Eve! Don’t drive drunk! You could flip your car. Or kill someone. You know how it goes. Have a great holiday!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Whatever Best of 2021 (Athena Version)

Hello, everyone! It is I, the junior Scalzi, returning to bring you a few of my favorite pieces I wrote this year. Since I haven’t been writing for the past couple months, I have a smaller selection of posts to choose from than some people on this blog, but I guess that makes the selection process easier for me, anyway.

Before we begin, I’d like to take this time to thank everyone for the happy birthday wishes last week, it means a lot to me! I really appreciate the warm wishes, and for those of you that asked about how my semester away from the blog went, I am planning to write about that soon, so bear with me a little longer.

Back to the matter at hand, 2021 was, as it surely was for everyone, an interesting year. It’s definitely one for the history books, anyways. I have no hope that 2022 will be better, but I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Optimism aside, here are some of my favorite posts from this year:

I was going to go for ten, but I threw a couple extra ones in there, hope you don’t mind. And I hope you have a great day! I’ll be back very soon.

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

The Truth About My Time At Miami University And Why This Is My Last Post (For Now)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to what will be (spoiler) my last post for a while.

There have been several times I have wanted to talk about my time at Miami University on here, but I have such complicated feelings towards the whole thing that I always shy away from it. I don’t just avoid talking about it on here, though, I avoid conversating about it in person, too.

I dread when people inevitably ask me about it. I abhor any mention of my path to higher education. I detest any conversation about college. But as I said, it’s inevitable, right? I’m a college-aged kid, of course people are going to ask me if I’m in school. And if they know I’m in school, then of course they’re going to ask how it’s going. People ask because they’re curious, or because they care. No one ever asks with ill intent or malice, so why is it so upsetting when people bring it up to me? I can’t be mad at someone for mentioning a topic just because I happen to have a lot of negative emotions surrounding that topic, right? Right.

Long story short: I totally failed out of Miami.

Long story long: My freshman year at Miami, I started out with six classes. And for the first couple weeks, I went to every class, and did all the assignments. And then after those first few weeks, I thought to myself, what if I just didn’t? And so began my long, long period of never going to class and never doing any schoolwork. Semester after semester.

Why go to my 8am class when I could just sleep instead? Why go to my noon class when I could grab lunch with a friend instead? Why do an assignment on a Friday night when I could be having a movie night with my dorm pals instead? Why do any of it when I could just do something else, something infinitely more fun, instead?

Obviously, this mentality led to some problems. Put that on top of the mentality of “well if I just don’t look at my grades, they don’t exist”, and soon enough you’ll have an entire semester of straight Fs. It happens very quickly, and once it does, it is quite literally impossible to fix.

So, every semester, once I hit that point of no return, where I knew no amount of trying hard the remainder of the semester could fix what I’d done up to that point, I considered it a loss and told myself I’d try again next semester, but since this one was a total loss, I didn’t have to do anything for the rest of it since it would all be for nothing anyway.

After the first semester of straight Fs, Miami gave me an “academic warning”, which basically meant if my next semester was below a 2.0 GPA, I’d get put on “academic probation”. I also had to take an online course about why failing is bad, and how to avoid failing. It was honestly kind of humiliating.

Funny enough, I actually passed one class that semester with a B, but the rest were Fs, and Miami put me on “academic probation”, which is like “academic warning” but more serious. Basically, if I got less than a 2.0 the following semester, I’d get “academic suspension” and be kicked out for two semesters.

At this point, I had almost no credits to show for my freshman year. So I decided to take two summer classes. They were online, and I took one in June and one in July. I passed both, one with a 92% and one with a 102%. Things were looking up! So I started sophomore year off optimistic. I was in a new dorm that was directly in the center of campus, so all my classes were a one minute walk away, unlike my previous dorm which was on the outskirts of campus and gave me all the more reason not to go to class.

That semester, instead of an online course about not failing, I had to take an in-person class about not failing! That was just great. So nice to be surrounded by fellow failures. I don’t think it really did much for me because I ended up failing that semester too! And Miami was ready to kick me to the curb.

Obviously, not a great situation, so I had the genius idea to blame everything on my disability. Poor narcoleptic girl, falling asleep in every class, falling asleep every time she cracked open a textbook to do any studying, falling asleep every time she opened her laptop to write a paper. Truly tragic.

I have struggled with my narcolepsy for years, in many ways, but college made me realize how debilitating it truly is. I am still trying to figure out “did my disability actually disable me, or am I being overdramatic? Am I falsely blaming my disability when the true problem is me, and my disability is just an easy cover-up?” You know, I don’t really know. It’s a mix of a lot of things.

I genuinely did fall asleep in every class, which in turn made me not want to go because that shit is fucking embarrassing. But I also didn’t go because I didn’t feel like it. And I really couldn’t make it through a paragraph in a textbook without nodding off. But I also didn’t really open my textbooks very often to begin with. It was truly a co-morbidity.

So, yeah, I told Miami, “wait, don’t be mad at lil’ ol’ me, my brain is broken!” It took several doctors notes, and several forms, but I got Miami to erase my entire freshman year. All those Fs, just wiped away, and I was back on academic warning for the semester I had just goofed. However, I didn’t have to retake the courses about not failing, so that was cool.

Moving forward to spring semester of sophomore year, I was now registered with the disability services, so I could request accommodations from my professors. But what was there to request? There’s not really anything to be done about my problem. Like, yeah, if a professor happened to see me sleeping in class, they could wake me up or something, but what else is there to do? And how can I expect my professor to even notice me sleeping when there’s dozens of other kids in class?

In the end, nothing changed, and I failed again. This time around, there was much less “I would rather hang out with my friends than do homework!” and much more “I can’t bring myself to get out of bed until the sun has gone down, and I haven’t showered in three days”. So that was a lot of fun.

Once again, I got put on academic probation. I decided my best course of action was to take online courses over the summer again, since it went so well last time. I took three, all at the same time, and it did not go well. But I couldn’t risk failing them all, so I dropped all three of them. Total loss, yet again.

Finally, my junior year (though I wasn’t technically a junior in credits since I have like none)! I was still on academic warning, but I was determined that this year would be different. I was in therapy, I was in a nice dorm, I was feeling good! The first two or three weeks were great, and I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. But then assignments got harder, and I had to do more reading, more work, and my god I just simply did not feel like it. So I didn’t! Needless to say, I got straight Fs yet again.

Time for academic suspension, wheeee! Academic suspension, by the way, is where they don’t let you come back for two semesters. If you were to come back after that and fail again, you would get academic dismissal, which means you come back never. (However, you are allowed to petition for readmission after two full years has passed.)

I went with the classic, “you can’t fire me! I quit!” And I dropped the fuck out. I’m not good enough for Miami, ey? Well, maybe they’re not good enough for me! Yeah, take that!

So, I did not return to Miami for Spring Semester 2020. Fuck school, I thought, I’ll get a job! So I became a hostess at Applebee’s. Wheeee. After three weeks, I called it quits because that fucking sucked. I decided to try out a local restaurant/bakery instead! Also sucked. So I quit.

And then COVID happened! Boy oh boy did I pick a good time NOT to go to school. All my friends, along with literally every other student in the world, had to pack up and head home not even two months into the semester. And they spent the rest of their semester online. So, I didn’t miss out on much.

But I figured I’d return in the fall of 2020, once this whole pandemic thing had ended. Obviously, the pandemic thing was very much not over by that point, so I held off on going back, and started writing for the blog instead, because I was literally doing nothing else with my time.

Fast forward a year, and now I’m going to my first day of college in over a year and half. That’s right y’all, I’m enrolled at the local community college, and I’m working towards getting my General Associates In Arts. Assuming I don’t fucking fail again, I should have a degree after two semesters. So by Spring 2022 I should have my little piece of paper.

Why am I getting a general degree instead of focusing on a field? Well, it’s basically because all the classes I did pass over the years don’t really lean in any direction, they’re all pretty scattered, so I can’t really get a degree towards anything in particular.

When I was in high school, I took College Credit Plus courses, which meant that classes I was taking in high school counted as college courses, and gave me credits through Urbana University. Through this program, I got credits for things like anatomy, math, and English.

Then, I went to Edison (the community college I’m going to now) for my senior year of high school so I could graduate a semester early. While I was there, I passed Intro to Psychology, American Sign Language, Human Sexuality, and Composition II.

Going into Miami, I had 36 credit hours from high school alone. At Miami, I passed Children’s Literature (but it got erased), Classical Mythology, Creative Writing, German, Writing For Media, the Academic Probation Class, Ballroom Dancing, and Introduction to Poetry. That gave me 20 credit hours from Miami.

This semester at Edison, I’ll be taking Cell Biology, Race & Ethnicity, Intro to Communications, and Intro to Humanities.

With all that technical info out of the way, let’s talk about my feelings, because that’s always a blast.

I feel kind of excited, I think. The usual “back to school” rush of adrenaline. Got a new backpack so you know I’ll be looking spiffy. But mostly I’m anxious. My fear of failure is as prominent as ever, and I don’t know what I’ll do if I do fail, so I just have to continue on under the assumption that I won’t. Because I’m out of options if I do.

I’m not necessarily looking forward to any of my classes, especially cell biology. I mean, it’s certainly no Ballroom Dancing, but I genuinely feel like I’ll make it through this time. I know I’m capable of passing, I have 56 credit hours to prove it! I just have to pass consistently, and that’s honestly hard for me.

I know that I have to give it my all this semester, and that is why I’ve decided to take a break from writing on here. I have to put all my focus towards my classes. At least in the beginning, anyways. Once I’ve taken a month or two to settle into things, I’ll decide if I feel like I have enough time and/or brain capacity to come back to Whatever. (Though, I’m sure I can manage a monthly snack box review post every now and again!)

With all that being said, it’s been a great year writing on Whatever, and I hope to write for you all again very soon. For now, though, I’m going to go to class.

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

It’s A Wonderful Day For Chai

Does anyone else have that one thing that you consider a treat that will instantly brighten your day, pick you up when you’re down, or help get you through a rough day? For me, that’s an iced chai latte. It’s quite literally my favorite drink ever. Throughout my life, I’ve considered it a special lil’ something something that I’d get once in a blue moon. Like when I’d go get coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in months, or if I was at the mall with my mom, or some sort of other nice oddity amongst my usual daily life.

In the past year, however, some part of me realized that they didn’t have to be so spaced out. I could get one whenever I wanted! And there was nothing stopping me! So, I have had an iced chai latte a few times a week for the past year, if not longer.

Would I say that it’s been too much of a good thing? Not necessarily, but it is interesting how I feel like my day is incomplete without it. If I don’t get my (almost) daily chai, my day is considerably worse, or at least not as good as it could’ve been. It’s almost like I need it to have a normal day.

And that feels… unhealthy. I think this is how a lot of people view coffee. Something you need everyday, sometimes twice a day, if you really need a pick me up in the afternoon. The difference is there are no caffeine withdrawal symptoms when I don’t drink chai, but I certainly feel the withdrawal in my soul.

It kind of sucks when something you once regarded as a special thing becomes an everyday thing because you grow accustomed to having it so often that when you don’t have it, you’re unhappy about it. It sucks I did this to myself!

I’m actually in the process of cutting down, partially because of the classic “millennials waste so much money on Starbucks that they could be using on buying a house” thing. While that idea is bullshit, it is true that it’s five bucks a day I don’t really need to spend.

Also, it’s like 42 grams of sugar. Which I can assure you is more than the recommended daily amount. So, maybe I shouldn’t be getting them so often.

So, yeah, I’m working on weening myself off. Like today I got a tall instead of a grande! Small steps, people. It’s cheaper, less sugar, and makes me enjoy it more because there’s less of it to be had.

I went through a Dr Pepper phase when I was a senior in high school, and was drinking at least one if not two 20 oz. Dr Peppers every day, and that was definitely an unhealthy choice, so I have some experience in kicking sugary drink addictions. This is exactly why I drink zero calorie soda! Maybe there’s such thing as zero calorie chai?

Anyways, I’m to the point where iced chai is basically like life blood for me. So I think I need to ease up on the stuff.

Is there anything like that in your life? Cupcakes? Coffee? Cheetos? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Sakuraco August Box Review

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your regular monthly Japanese snackbox review! Today I’ll be reviewing Sakuraco’s August box. I wanted to mention that in the comments of a recent post of mine, several people told me that they really enjoy these particular posts, and some even said that these posts are their favorite kind! Funnily enough, they’re my favorite to do, so I’m very happy that so many of you wonderful people seem to enjoy them.

Moving on, if you haven’t heard of Sakuraco before, they are a company that strives to bring you an assortment of authentic Japanese tea time goods, including different snacks such as cakes, mochi, senbei, and much more. Each monthly box also features a home good item, such as a bowl or cup. Each month has a theme, and this month’s theme was Okinawa. I think the idea of having a place be the theme is really cool. They did that for July as well, with the theme being Hokkaido.

Without further ado, let’s dive in to this month’s box! I reviewed this one with a friend of mine, so I’ll include some of their thoughts and rating alongside mine.

First up, these Kombu Arare Crackers:

These crackers are seriously addicting. They’re so small and snackable, it’s a good thing there’s so many in the bag! There were three different flavors of the rice crackers in the bag: seaweed, shrimp, and soy sauce. My personal favorite of the three was the shrimp flavor, but the other two were really tasty, too. Pleasantly crunchy with a bit of a toasty flavor to them, these were an easy 8/10 for my friend, and a 7/10 for myself.

Next up was the Issa Senbei:

The first thing you’ll notice about these ornate crackers is that they are oddly sweet. They almost seem like they shouldn’t be classified as a cracker at all. Not that I didn’t totally love the sweetness, unexpected as it was. This senbei was not only delicious, but had a very pleasant texture, as well. I would definitely eat more of these if given the chance. My friend did not like them as much, and was off-put by the sweetness, so they only rated them a 5/10, while I gave it a 9/10.

Third, we had the Beni Imo Pie:

Honestly, this lil’ guy did not have a lot going on. It was pretty dry, a little sweet, but mostly just tasted like a sweet potato.  Of course, the purple sweet potato is a key feature of Okinawa, so the purple color is natural. The sweet potato filling is accompanied by sweet red bean, so it was pretty good overall. My friend and I both thought it was pretty okay, so we gave it a 7/10.

Following that, we have the Snow Salt Chinsuko:

These little cookies are the bomb dot com! Dense, buttery shortbread, sprinkled with a hint of salt that compliments the subtle sweetness of the cookie? So yummy. I could seriously eat a whole box of these. They’re a little on the small side, but rumor has it the best things come in small packages. My friend totally agreed on how tasty these were, and we both gave them a 9/10.

Next up is the Kogane Shikuwasa Manju:

As soon as you open the package for these soft little cakes, you’ll be greeted by a wonderfully fresh orange scent. These cakes tasted as good as they smelled, with just the right amount of sweetness mixed with the tangy orange flavor. They were light and airy, and overall super delicious! They earned themselves a 9/10 from my friend, and a 10/10 from me.

Sixthly, we have the Yuzu Monaka:

I could’ve sworn I had this exact thing in a previous box, but I looked through the past couple ones and didn’t see it. Anyways, yuzu is a citrus fruit, and normally I really like citrus flavored stuff, but this one was kinda meh. Plus, the monaka was disappointing as usual, since it was dry and crumbly instead of crispy. The jelly inside was pretty alright, nothing spectacular, but my friend didn’t like the texture of the jelly, so, my friend gave it a 6/10 and I deemed it a 5/10.

Next on the list are these Mini Salted Tofu Chips:

Oh my goodness these slap. They’re crispy, salty, seaweedy goodness that you will surely demolish in no time. I would eat these regularly if I could. They are so addicting, you won’t be able to stop eating them until you’ve finished the whole bag. A lot of umami flavors going on, but not in an overwhelming way. These earned a 9/10 from both of us.

Following that, we have the Brown Sugar Shisa Candy:

Another absolute banger of a snack. If you have ever had brown sugar milk tea, these taste exactly like that creamy sugary goodness we all know and love. These are like if brown sugar milk tea was condensed into a tiny candy and solidified, and they are so delicious. There was actually a surprising amount of these hard candies in the bag, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. And they last around fifteen minutes (assuming you don’t bite them)! Plus, they are adorably shaped, as they come in the shape of shisa, which are mythological guardian lions. These were an easy 10/10 from both of us.

Ninthly, we have these Lightly Salted Red Bean Manju:

Upon first appearance, these kind of look like mini corn dogs. Anyways, you all know I love red bean, but the flavor of these was underwhelming. Also, the cake was weirdly firm, and honestly pretty dry. This little cake was largely unremarkable, so it only got a 6/10 from my friend, and a 5/10 from me.

Following up with another manju, we have the Brown Sugar Manju:

Fortunately, this manju was much better than the previous one. I feel like you can tell just by looking at it that it is the superior manju. It was soft, with just a little bit of a chewy texture, and tasted like molasses. Personally, I really love a rich, molasses flavor, so this cake did not disappoint. My friend gave it a 7/10 and I went with an 8/10.

Next up, we have the Apple and Mango Melange Jelly:

I’m sure many of you know by now how much I dread eating these damn jelly cups. They’re always so grossly textured, and sadly this one was no different. I seriously cannot stand the slimy, slippery-ness of these cup jelly things, but at least the flavor of this one was pretty good. It tasted like applesauce! My friend agrees with me about the texture, but says that the flavor almost makes it redeemable, so they gave it a 5/10, while I settled on a 4/10.

Twelfthly, we have these Beni Imo Donuts:

These look a lot more like donut holes than donuts to me, but let’s get dwindle on technicalities. These donut ball things were hard, dry, and overall just seemed pretty stale. I feel like maybe if I heated them up and they softened a bit they’d be better? Because honestly the flavor was perfectly good, it just seemed like they were normal donut holes that had sat out too long and became hard. The dryness didn’t really bother my friend, so they gave it an 8/10, and while the flavor was pretty good, I had to go with a 6/10.

As we start to wrap things up, we have the Beni Imo Tarte:

I feel like just by looking at this, you can tell it was the worst item in the box. Like what is that appearance! Also, it was so tiny, like one and half bites worth of pastry going on there. I almost didn’t try it because it literally smelled like dog food. My friend agreed, but we persevered and tried it anyways, and fortunately it did not taste how it smelled. In fact, it didn’t really taste like anything. There was practically no flavor! My friend was a little less harsh on this purple pastry, and gave it a 5/10, while I gave it a 2/10.

Lastly, for the snacks, we have the Shiquwasa Jelly:

Okay, here we have another jelly. However, I finally wised up to the fact I hate these damn jelly things, and I froze it. That’s right, I turned it into sherbet. Am I a mad genius? Some would say yes, but others would say that the booklet description says “enjoy it chilled or try it frozen as a sorbet”. I have to say, freezing these things is a game changer. I wish I had frozen the other one, since, as I mentioned, the flavor was good. Freezing this one turned it from that yucky looking slime into a copycat lemon Italian ice. It was actually super enjoyable! The lemon flavor was so refreshing, and not artificial tasting at all. I don’t think this would have worked as well with a jelly that wasn’t citrus flavored. Like I doubt red bean jelly would taste good all icy and sorbet-y. After about ten minutes, it started to thaw and return to its jelly form, and it became kind of gross to me again. So, in it’s frozen form only, my friend and I give it an 8/10. I have no idea what the rating would have been like if I had just eaten it as is. Probably a solid three or four, if I had to guess from past jelly experiences.

Now that we’re through all the snacks, we have the home good. This is a Sakura Pattern Owan Bowl:

I honestly love the appearance of this little bowl, the design and colors are super cute, and its tiny size is adorable, as well. It is plastic, but the booklet says that it is microwave and dishwasher safe, which is a notable improvement from some of the past items which are neither or only one of the two. This is definitely one of my favorite home good items I’ve received over the past several months.

Finally, we have the tea.

In case you don’t remember from previous posts, I never drink the teas because I feel it is unfair to rate something I know I don’t like. Alas, even though I love everything about tea aesthetically speaking, I really don’t like consuming tea, so I never try the ones that come in the box. The booklet says this tea has a Jasmine flavor, which honestly sounds appealing. I’ve never had Jasmine tea. Maybe I should give it a try.

So, there you have it! This box definitely had some good stuff, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite or anything. I’m not sure sure if this one would even be in my top three. But it was awesome nonetheless! I love trying tons of new stuff every month, and I highly recommend Sakuraco. If you want to give it a try, you can find the pricing for subscriptions here.

If you get Sakuraco as well, what was your favorite snack this month? If you don’t, what snack here looks or sounds the best to you? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Trying Out A New Recipe: Joshua Weissman’s Sticky Buns

I watch a lot of cooking videos on YouTube, and I’ve been watching Joshua Weissman for about a year now, but have never made one of his recipes before. Until now!

I decided to make sticky buns, mostly because they sounded good, but also because we had some company over and they seemed like a good sort of shareable thing to make.

First, I watched the video, and it seemed simple enough! His videos are pretty entertaining and easy to understand. Then I looked at the actual recipe, and right off the bat, I saw some issues with the recipe. Here’s the link if you want to take a look, but I’ll do my best to explain what’s wrong with it so you shouldn’t necessarily have to look at it.

In the very first part of the recipe, it looks like it’s missing an ingredient, but I figured out that it’s just a typo and the first two lines are supposed to be together. I’ve copied and pasted this portion so you can see what I’m referencing:

Tangzhong:

  • 1.5 tbsp
  • 15g all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tbsp 20g milk
  • 1.5 tbsp 20g water

So, yeah, I’m pretty sure that they just hit enter too soon and didn’t catch it.

I’m totally willing to forgive a typo or two, so moving on. The aforementioned tangzhong came together perfectly fine, and I set it aside. Looking at the instructions for the tangzhong, I noticed that the first instruction is for the tangzhong, and then the rest of those instructions is for the actual dough? But there’s no section of instructions for the dough? Again, just typo type shit, but this was admittedly a little confusing at first.

So, I started following the instructions for the dough (that are actually listed under the instructions for the tangzhong), and everything was going fine except the recipe doesn’t say when to add in the eggs… or the tangzhong. So I had to watch the video again to see when he threw those things in. This was the first of many rewatches.

Okay, so dough out of the way, I set it aside to rise for the 1.5 hours and moved on to making the filling mixture listed in the ingredients, as well as throwing together the cinnamon sugar. After making both of these, it was then I noticed that there was no instructions sections for the filling, just like with the dough. So, I rewatched the video to look for what he did with the filling. And there was no filling in the video.

I know that sounds weird, but basically the cinnamon sugar mixture IS the filling, and the recipe makes you make TWO fillings even though they’re the same thing. The filling mixture is melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The cinnamon sugar is brown sugar and cinnamon, and then when you roll out the dough you spread melted better all over the dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture. So you’re essentially creating the filling mixture. Anyways all of this is to say that it has you make double the filling, so you DO NOT need to make the filling listed in the ingredients section. Only the cinnamon sugar mixture.

So, I was annoyed by that, but I put the filling mixture in a container and will probably spread it on toast or something because it’s just cinnamon sugar butter.

AND THEN I noticed that the cinnamon sugar instructions are actually instructions that don’t have to do with the cinnamon sugar at all! But wait, it gets better! The glaze instructions contain MORE dough instructions that are completely out of order!

All in all, this recipe was a fucking mess, and very confusing. Pretty much all of the comments are complaints about the inaccuracies and errors of the recipe. Also this is a good time to note I made a few mistakes on my part, such as misreading tsp and tbsp on several occasions, so I ended up adding 2.5 tablespoons of cinnamon to the actual filling. Also I was impatient and only let the dough rise an hour, and then I was impatient again and only them rise 25 minutes (instead of 45 to an hour) after cutting them and placing them into the baking dish. But, I made it through, and ended up with these bad boys:

And then after the rose a little bit, I baked ’em:

But wait, it gets better:

Once you flip em out, you get these beauties. Though, all the pecans seemed to have accumulated in between all of the buns, but it’s a minor thing. Also another error I made is I misread and only used 1/4 cup of pecans instead of 1 1/4 cups. But I don’t like them that much anyways, so it’s fine. Just looks kind of odd because they’re so sparse and heavily concentrated in between the buns.

In the end, they turned out awesome and were fuckin’ delicious, and I definitely want to make another batch. They’re actually pretty easy once you decipher the messed up recipe! And even though I added a crazy amount of cinnamon, it was actually perfect.

You know what else is perfect? B-roll:

Do you like sticky buns or cinnamon rolls better? Have you ever made homemade sticky buns before? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

My New Phone and How I Got It

This past week, I swam in the ocean. Unfortunately, so did my phone.

My friends and I had the bright idea to buy some of those waterproof cellphone bags from the beach store so we wouldn’t have to leave our phones unattended on the shore. You put your phone in, seal it at the top, and your phone is totally protected from the water, not to mention the bag floats and has a lanyard attached to it, so it’s pretty difficult to lose your phone to the ocean.

Everything was peachy keen until I noticed that my bag was sinking for some reason. I pondered it for a moment before realizing that it could only mean one thing. There was water inside the bag. Sure enough, when I looked, the bag was over halfway filled with water, and my phone was totally and utterly fucked.

So I asked my friend to take me to the nearest Verizon store since it’s not a great idea to be on vacation without a phone, and got the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It is the biggest iPhone to date, and the newest. My friend is actually the one that convinced me to get it, since I wasn’t interested in an iPhone that didn’t have a home button. Not to mention the size of it seemed quite inconvenient (women’s clothes have tiny pockets as is, trying to fit a giant phone in one is no easy feat).

For comparison, here is an iPad mini VS my phone:

And just for shits and giggles I brought home my totally destroyed phone, and here it is next to my new one:

For years I have dreaded the no-home-button models of iPhones, and people that have those models always say “I don’t even miss it!” or “you get used to it”. And I never believed them. I was a purist when it came to the home button, there was no way I could stand not to have one. But here I stand corrected. Within hours of getting my new phone, I could honestly say I didn’t miss the home button at all. It doesn’t even occur to me that it’s not there. It’s hard for me to believe that I could adapt so quickly to not having one, when I’d been cringing for years at the thought of it missing.

As for the size, it’s practically like a damn tablet, but it’s actually awesome. Every time I hold someone else’s phone now, it blows my mind how small it is. How did I have something so tiny beforehand and not think it was small? The best part of it being so big is that web-comics look AMAZING. Without the home button, the entire screen is just display with no interruptions, so reading comics is a much improved experience. The only problem I’ve found when it comes to the size is one-handed swipe texting is a lot more difficult because it’s hard to reach the other side of the phone.

And the camera on this thing is amazing! I thought my previous phone, the iPhone SE (2020) had a nice camera, but this one has not one, not two, but three cameras. Every time I go to take a picture I’m shocked at how good the quality is.

Anyways, I’m just here to gush about how much I love my new phone, home-button-less and all.

What kind do you have? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

One Year On Whatever

Hello, everyone, and welcome to my one-year-anniversary-of-being-on-Whatever post!

The last time I posted, it was about how I’ve been having a hard time posting lately, and I’m sad that this is still the case, considering it’s my one year anniversary. I was supposed to post several times before this one, but just couldn’t seem to do it. But I felt that it was important to post today, even if it is a little difficult right now.

A one year anniversary post is easy, at least. One of the ones that doesn’t take the kind of effort I’ve started to find difficult to put in.

That’s not to say it isn’t important to me, because it is. I’ve been doing something (semi) consistently for a year, and that feels nice. It feels good to be able to look at all the things I’ve produced over the past year. It makes me feel like a real creator, someone who actually puts writing out into the world instead of just talking about wanting to.

Writing on Whatever is special, because I can write about whatever. Talk about any topic I want, anything I think would make for an interesting post, review any piece of media I feel like, it’s great! It’s also difficult, though. Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much freedom. When you can write about anything, sometimes you just blank. A lot. There’s so much to choose from, and yet nothing you want to pick.

It’s special because it’s my dad’s blog, but that also makes it strange sometimes. I know I’ve mentioned my feelings about being my dad’s daughter before, and wanting to be a writer, so I have had mixed feelings over the past year of writing on the blog.

Overall, it’s been great. I largely like this gig. My dad can definitely pester me about remembering to do the Big Idea, but other than that it’s fun, and I enjoy it.

Most of all, I enjoy have wonderful readers like yourself! All of you that encourage and support me, it means the world to me. It’s been the highlight of the writing on Whatever for the past year. So thank you all for being here with me this past year, and thank you to those of you that were with me back in 2018, too!

I can’t believe a whole year has passed, but I’m excited to see what the next one brings.

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Stuck Out At Sea

Doldrums

/ˈdōldrəmz,ˈdäldrəmz/

noun

a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.

Like a ship in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, I am going through a doldrum. July has been my least productive month on the blog in the past year, and I’m not very happy about that. I’m not really sure why I’ve been more inactive than usual. Even though I can write about anything and everything, I can’t seem to think of anything to write about. And even if I do think of something, I don’t feel like actually writing it.

Sometimes, I’ll think of a good topic, and then when I think about how much effort goes in to that topic, I decide not to write about it after all. It’s like, I can only bring myself to write the things that don’t take much effort, and even then I would just rather not. Even doing something as simple as the Big Idea takes me hours of telling myself I should do it, even though it only takes me around ten or fifteen minutes.

I keep trying to brainstorm things to write posts about. Lord knows there’s no shortage of current events and political things to be talked about, or movies and shows to review. But that sounds like a lot of effort. And effort is not something I feel like putting in right now.

Not just for the blog, but for life stuff, too. I’ve been sleeping later in the day, moving less (a lot less, even), going outside less, you get the idea. I wish I could blame something like seasonal depression but it’s literally the opposite season of when seasonal depression happens.

I can’t even bring myself to bake anything for the blog, or take some photos to post, or muster up a Charlie post. I just don’t feel like I have it in me right now.

And I feel bad about it. I feel guilty for not providing you all with content as regularly. I feel guilty for not doing the posts I told my dad I’d do. I feel like I’m skimping out on posts, blowing them off left and right. Basically, everyday I think, “yeah, I could do a post today” followed by “…or I could not.” And that always seems to win.

Anyways, I just wanted to be open about what I’m going through right now, and offer some insight as to why I’m not really posting much. I hope you have been enjoying the stuff I have managed to post this month, and I am hopeful there will be more to come next month. Have a great day.

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Seeing Things In A New Way

A few months ago, I started noticing that things I looked at every day that were not previously blurry had become blurry. The clock on the stove from the couch, the subtitles on a video game from the chair, things I never had an issue seeing before. It was worrisome. Did I really need glasses after a whole life of having perfect vision?

I was always the kid that tried on friends’ glasses and said “wow, you really are blind!” (not very nice, I recognize now). Well, the bill has finally come due, because now I have my own glasses for perfect-sighted friends to try on!

That’s right, I had an eye test today and they told me I’m neither near-sighted nor far-sighted, but that I have astigmatism. So I got a pretty mild prescription, and badda bing badda boom, I now wear glasses! Of course, I won’t be wearing all the time since the only thing I have trouble seeing is tiny, far away words. I’ll really only need them when I drive (for street signage), play video games, or watch a movie with subtitles.

So far, it’s been weird getting used to them. I’ve only had them for a couple hours, but I have so many questions like: why is the ground so much closer to me now? Why does everything look compressed? Why do my hands look so weird? And how do I already have smudges on the lenses?!

Anyways, I guess I knew this would happen sooner or later, but I was really hoping to make it to forty without needing glasses (not that I like super need them or anything). But maybe forty was a bit ambitious.

I also had a really great time picking out frames! One of the staff members helped me out a bit. I told her I wanted thick frames, plastic, a little bit of cat eye, and black. She picked a couple pairs out for me, and I ended up with these Kate Spade frames, which I actually really like.

Do you wear glasses? Maybe contacts? Or even Lasik? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

A Comment On Anxiety

Back in the summer 2018, I wrote for the blog like I do now. For my last post of the summer, I mentioned that I felt bad I never responded to anyone’s comments the entire time. I proceeded to say that if I could do it over, I would’ve responded more. Yet, it’s been almost a year now since I started writing on here again, and I have yet to respond to anyone’s comments.

I constantly wonder why that is. I read all of them, and I get asked stuff pretty often! One would think I’d respond at least once in a while, right? As logical as that sounds, and as easy as I’m sure it would be, for some reason I can never bring myself to respond, even if I do want to answer someone’s question.

I’ve finally deduced that I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to dealing with comments. On one hand, I love them! I love that you fine readers interact with the post and like the post enough to comment on it or ask something interesting! The more comments on a post, the better in my mind. On the other hand, if I respond to one person and not someone else, will the person I didn’t respond to get upset over it? Or what if I respond and they don’t see it, and think that I ignored them?

I guess technically I could reply to everyone’s comments so I don’t feel bad about being selective or seeming like I’m picking favorites or something. But I’m not sure if it’s entirely realistic to reply to every single person all the time. But then how do I choose who I do end up replying to?

I’ve never quite understood how comments on WordPress work, anyway, so I’ve always avoided them because I think they’re weird, functionality-wise. Unlike Twitter, you can’t like, directly reply to someone, so if you want to say something back you just have to put their name in the comment that you’re posting and hope they see it? I don’t know, seems kind of like an odd way to do comments. So I’ve just never bothered to try.

But that’s really a small piece of the pie in comparison to seeming like I’m picking favorites or ignoring people. I guess in my mind it’s just better to ignore everyone and never reply, rather than reply sometimes or only to some of the people that comment. Does that make sense? Of course not! But I don’t know how to stop my brain from thinking this way.

And now that I’ve been doing it this way for so long, I feel like I can’t stop. Like I can’t just start replying to comments now out of the blue! It’s already been a year, won’t it look odd if I just start doing it? Like, “oh, why did she decide to start replying now? Couldn’t she have been doing that the past year?” Yes! I could have! Probably.

Honestly, I just feel guilty. And this is over comments of all things! Am I being a drama queen? Maybe, but how do I tell my brain to quit being difficult? I care about y’all, and I want to start replying to you, even though I haven’t before. Better late than never, right?

So, I’m making this post to hold myself accountable. If I tell you all that I’m going to do it, that’ll make me actually do it! No backing out, anxiety be damned.

I can’t promise to reply to all of you. And with my replies to comments comes my mighty mallet power. So, beware! And have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

More Thoughts On Loki: Episodes 4-6

I didn’t think that this post would be the last of its kind, as I expected there to be episodes 7-9, like with WandaVision, but alas, season one of Loki ends with just six episodes. I’m going to assume that season two will also have six episodes, but I guess we’ll see when it gets here.

Anyways, I’m obligated to offer you an OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING, so here it is! Let’s get into it.

(Also: A link to the write-up for the first three episodes, in case you missed it.)

I just want to start off by saying that I know an enemies-to-lovers trope when I see when one, and BOY FUCKING HOWDY did I see one in episodes three and four. And I thought I had to be wrong. There was no way that they would actually make Loki and Sylvie have feelings for each other, right? And yet I couldn’t stop analyzing every moment they had together that just seemed so typical enemies-to-lover. I convinced myself I was overthinking it, and that I was reading the signs wrong, BUT I WASN’T.

All that banter? All that fighting? All that opening up to each other? Working together? It was so obvious all along and I felt like I was the only one that could see it. But I never in a million years expected the writers to actually like, make it happen.

Is there a lot, and I mean a lot, of discourse surrounding this decision? Yes, absolutely. But no matter how you feel about it, you can’t deny that Loki liking Loki is completely in character. It’s so on brand for him to like someone who is essentially him, right? Even Mobius said that his “demented crush” on her makes sense because he’s a huge narcissist who thinks he’s the greatest thing ever, so how could he not fall for someone who is just like him, and is in fact basically him!

It’s also not even close to the weirdest thing Loki has done if you read any mythology. Now that’s some fucked up shit. So maybe Loki liking Loki isn’t like, the biggest deal ever. Feel about it how you will, but I’m just glad that Loki finally felt love for someone, even if it is a bit odd.

Of course, this only made Sylvie’s betrayal all the more painful in episode six, when she kissed him, not out of love or passion, but to distract him so she could access the TemPad and yeet him into another reality.

But, that’s enough of the romance talk for now (though I could honestly talk about it for a lot longer). Let’s talk about the actual plot and story.

As I have mentioned before, time travel and multiverses are so totally not my cup of tea. All this “void at the end of time” and “multiverse war” stuff is honestly beyond me. I don’t understand it, can’t conceptualize it, and therefore don’t really like it.

Generally I try not to fault whatever movie or show I’m watching that uses time travel or multiverses because I assume that it’s not the movie that’s stupid, it’s me. Maybe Loki makes perfect sense with all its time branching and a monster that eats time and space, it just doesn’t make sense to me specifically. I’m the one who doesn’t get it, so I can’t fault it for being a bad show, right?

But honestly, the whole idea of some dude from the 31st century somehow weaponizing Alioth (which was very unclear on the how) and becoming the grandmaster of all time and space is in fact kind of… stupid. I think the “villain reveal” was underwhelming, and that He Who Remains was largely uninteresting. Miss Minutes is a much scarier antagonist than He Who Remains.

Personally, I’m more interested in Loki for pretty much everything other than the plot. The story is by far the least interesting thing about the show. The characters and their interactions with each other are more entertaining and enjoyable to watch than anything that has to do with the story. Plus, the visuals, use of color, and cinematography overall are incredible. So there’s a lot more to Loki than this whole TVA thing, which is good for me considering I’m not a fan of the concept.

There’s obviously a lot more that I could talk about, like all the Loki variants at the end of time, Hunter B-15, Renslayer, the Time Keepers being androids, but honestly none of it sticks me as much as Loki and Sylvie. Of course, they’re the main characters, so that makes sense, but for me it goes beyond them just because the main focus of the show.

I’ve always been overly invested in Loki in particular, invested in his relationship with his brother and father, invested in his schemes and plots, invested in his MULTIPLE DEATHS (goddammit Marvel). But now I get to be invested in a part of him that has never been seen before: his romantic life. We get to see him go through feelings and emotions that have never been shown to us before, and get to see a side of him that’s different from the conniving trickster we’ve known for the past decade. And it’s wonderful.

Loki has given us so much in so few episodes, and I can’t wait for season two.

What did you think of the finale? How do you feel about Loki and Sylvie? Do you think Renslayer is a bad person? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Sakuraco July Box Review

By now, you’ve probably come to expect my monthly snack box review posts, and with this post I shall have met said expectation, because this post is my review of the July Sakuraco Box!

If you haven’t read any of my previous Sakuraco posts, Sakuraco is a company that is dedicated to bringing you authentic Japanese tea time snacks and home goods. Each monthly box has a unique theme that the snacks tend to follow, and each box has twenty snacks total, including a home good such as a cup or bowl.

Unlike my previous Japanese snack box post, which was TokyoTreat instead of Sakuraco, I pay for my Sakuraco boxes. Of course, paying or not paying does not affect the honesty of my posts, but I figured I’d let you all know anyway that these posts in particular are not in exchange for anything, rather I just really like these boxes.

In previous months, the themes have been things like Sakura, Matcha, or Citrus, but this month’s theme was very interesting. July’s theme was Hokkaido Summer. The booklet that came in the box talked about how Hokkaido is known for having the best dairy products in Japan, as well as having a special kind of melon there called the Yubari Melon. So, basically every snack in the box was melon or cream themed, or a mix of both.

I always like to share the snacks with others, so I tried this box with my friend, and I’ll be including some of their thoughts, as well.

The first thing we tried was the Melon Mochi:

This actually came as a big package of twelve individually wrapped mochis, which is a lot! Upon initially trying it, my first thought was that it felt and tasted exactly like gum. It almost felt as if I shouldn’t swallow it since the texture was so similar to gum. The melon flavor was honestly so perfect, and the white chocolate filling was absolutely bangin’. All in all very delicious. I’m definitely going to blow through the whole dozen of them in no time. My friend and I both gave these a 9/10.

Up next, we tried something a little crunchier, the Yubari Melon Cream Sandwich Cookies:

These shortbread-like cookies weren’t as sweet as I was expecting, but they had a subtle melon flavor that was very pleasant. I thought the size of these cookies was perfect, they were just the right amount for a quick little treat. They didn’t have like, a ton of filling, but they were still pretty good and quite enjoyable. My friend and I gave this one an 8/10.

We followed that one with another crunchy-sandwich-esque snack, the Melon Soft Sand:

Here we have two extremely thin monaka wafers with melon cream in between. If you’ve read the previous posts, you know that monaka wafers can be extremely hit or miss. I’m pleased to say that this one was a total hit. This snack had legit the most ideal crunch imaginable. Very pleasant mouth feel, I would say. One problem though is that there was no trace of melon flavor to be found. I pried the sandwich open and tried the melon cream on its own to really concentrate on the flavor of the cream, but I tasted nothing. It was just cream. Regardless, this snack was still pretty tasty and I would definitely eat more of them, so my friend and I gave it a 7/10.

Moving away from the crunchy stuff, up next was the Yubari Melon Jelly:

Okay, y’all definitely know I have wildly mixed feelings on jellied snacks like this, and I’m sad to say this one didn’t really pass the vibe check. It felt like a mouthful of pureed cantaloupe, and honestly tasted pretty similarly. It was a little on the slimy side, so I called it quits after a couple bites. Definitely not my favorite jellied snack I’ve tried, but the melon flavor was pretty alright. It earned itself a 4/10 from my friend and I.

No melon in sight for the next one we tried, the Hokkaido Milk Cheesecake:

This dense little pound cake was dotted with weirdly hard cubes of cheese throughout. The pleasant softness of the pound cake was unfortunately interrupted by these little cubes, and I did not care for their presence in an otherwise great snack. The cubes kept getting stuck in my molars. On the plus side, the pound cake was moist and yummy. This is the first snack my friend and I disagreed on the rating for, since they kind of liked the cheese cubes. I gave it a 5/10 and they gave it a 7/10.

Sticking with the cream flavor, up next was this Milk Mochi:

As soon as I tried this, I recognized the taste and texture as something incredibly familiar, but couldn’t place it until my friend said “cowtail”. When I was younger, I used to eat “Cow Tales”, a soft caramel tube with a vanilla cream filling throughout. I really enjoyed those candies when I was a kid and enjoyed this milk mochi even more so! They’re chewy, sweet, and a pretty decent size. My only complaint is that they come wrapped in some kind of edible plastic-y film, which I tried to take most of off but couldn’t quite get it all. I gave this a solid 9/10, but my friend was less of a fan of it and gave it a 6/10.

I’m pretty positive every single box thus far has come with a Dorayaki:

These little pancake sandwiches are so good, I honestly never get tired of seeing them in the boxes. Each one is slightly different from the previous boxes’, so it keeps it interesting. This one in particular was a little bigger than usual, but also a little blander, as well. It was soft and pleasant enough, of course, but just a little too mild in flavor, which earned it a 7.5/10 from me and a 6/10 from my friend.

Totally going away from the box’s theme, we have the Yawaraka Rum Raisin:

I can honestly say I have never tried anything rum raisin flavored, so this was an interesting snack to try. It had a unique flavor I’ve never really tasted before, again probably only because I’ve never tried anything rum raisin flavored, but it was good! This cookie was especially soft, and the raisins added some nice texture, as well. The cookie was the perfect size, as well, and overall it got a 7/10 from the both of us.

Another non-melon/cream related snack, we have the Hokkaido Grilled Corn Senbei:

As can be expected with senbei, these little rice crackers were extremely light and airy, but still had crunch to them. This roasted corn flavor also had soy sauce flavor in it, so these were total umami bombs. The flavors were honestly really complex and it had a lot going on. It was pretty good overall, and a nice change of pace from all the sweet stuff we had thus far. I gave it a 5.5/10, and my friend went with an 8/10.

Continuing with the break from the sweets, we have Hearty Aged Mochi:

I had never seen or even heard of mochi that wasn’t soft, but lo and behold crunchy mochi! These were reminiscent of cheese puffs, in that way that they are crunchy but also kind of melt in your mouth. The booklet says these are made with three types of salt, and you can definitely taste it! They’re extra salty lil’ things, but not so much so that they aren’t good. They’re a solid 6/10 to me and my friend.

Next, we have the Butter Mochi Senbei:

Just like the previous senbei, these were super light and airy crackers. Unlike the savory ones mentioned before, these were insanely rich and sweet, because they were covered in some kind of sugary powder that was totally decadent. Behind all that sweetness there was a bit of a toasty flavor element, as well. They tasted just like honey butter, and were a solid 8/10 to us both.

To finish off the snacks, we have the Kibi Dango:

I was initially confused by this one, because it looks exactly like the milk mochi, but shorter in length. I honestly thought they were the same thing at first, but this one is actually less sweet and flavorful than the milk mochi. It was still perfectly fine, but not nearly as tasty as the milk mochi. I forgot to ask my friend what they gave this one on a scale of one to ten, but I give it a 6/10.

And here we have the home good, the Hangetsu Side Plate:

This plate looks exactly like the previous month’s serving tray, but that’s because they’re both designed to represent the “four seasons”. Personally, I really like the black and gold look, and the art is super nice, too. I love the uniqueness of the shape of the plate, I’ve definitely never seen anything quite like it before, and I’m happy to add this piece to my ever-growing collection of dishware. It’s a little on the small side, but it’d make for a good appetizer or snack plate (you can actually see it pictured in the second snack’s photo).

And of course, here is the tea that came in the box if you’re curious:

This is Peach Matcha Tea, and honestly I really considered trying this one because I like peach, and I know I at least like peach tea when it’s iced and sweetened, so I thought maybe I’d like this one. But I’ll probably just try it on my own and not write about it, because I think it’s unfair to try and review something I know I don’t like, like tea or coffee.

Anyways, that’s it for the July box! This was definitely my favorite box so far, which I think I might’ve said about the last box, but honestly this one was a total banger. I’m super excited to get the final summer box when August rolls around, and then I’ll decide whether or not to renew my subscription since I got the three month plan back in June after my three month plan from March was up (I’m definitely gonna renew, I don’t know why I even acted like it was up for debate in my mind).

Do you like melon? Did you get a July box, too? What’d you think of it? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

Is Reality Really Real?

I watched The Matrix last night for technically the first time, but between the internet and being in the room when my parents have had it on, I’ve seen a lot of it in bits and pieces, and certainly seen all the action scenes, anyways. I’m not here to review it, interestingly enough. I’m here to talk about a central concept, if not the most central concept in the movie.

What even is real? What does “reality” truly mean? This stuck out to me because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for years, and have tried to explain to many different people. It’s a concept that I personally struggle with, because I have a lot of moments that are part of my reality that aren’t real. Real to others, that is.

What the heck does that mean? I’m glad you asked.

I am someone who experiences sleep paralysis. This means that sometimes when I wake up, I can’t move my body, and I am stuck between dreaming and being awake, so I hallucinate things in the real world. You’ve probably heard of sleep paralysis demons, the scary monsters that stand in the corner of your room and stare at you as you’re stuck, paralyzed. That’s what I have! It’s interesting, to say the least.

For me, I not only see these monsters, but hear them sometimes, as well. They’re very realistic, but they aren’t real, of course. But, as mentioned earlier, what is real? Things that are real are things that you can see and hear, right? So, if I can see and hear these monsters, doesn’t that make them real? At least in some capacity?

I also have this neat thing where I can feel physical sensations in my dreams, like pain! Both of these sleep related oddities have been happening to me for around a decade. I have a lot of dreams where I get hurt, or even die. And while I’m sure I don’t feel the pain to the extent that I would in real life, somehow my brain still makes me feel hurt. And it is genuinely painful, sometimes even after I wake up.

Whenever I would try to describe this to people, I would compare it to what I imagine a phantom pain is like for someone who has lost a limb. There is nothing that is actually hurting, no damage, but somehow your brain convinces you that it does hurt, and just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

If I’m experiencing these things, and they affect me in some way, that makes them part of my reality, right? My day to day reality. They’re real to me, the monsters, the pain, it’s real in some form, but only to me. It makes you question what reality even means. What does being real truly mean?

If someone is colorblind and can’t see blue, that doesn’t mean blue isn’t real, it just means that blue is not a part of their reality. Are there colors that are real that non-colorblind people can’t see? If we can’t see them, does that make them not real, even if they are?

Okay, maybe I’m going a little too far, but you get what I’m saying. Bottom line is, everyone experiences reality differently. There is no true real, because real means something different for everyone.

Doesn’t that just trip you out?! I don’t want to say I’m having an existential crisis here or anything, but it really makes you think (plus I have existential crises everyday, so, nothing too unusual). Brains are weird, and that’s really all I came here to say.

Do you experience sleep paralysis? What’s the scariest monster you’ve seen (and have you ever seen any iconic horror characters, like Pennywise or Jason)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great, reality-filled day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

A Look “Inside”

I’ve never been the biggest fan of stand-up comedy. Growing up, I never wanted to watch somebody just stand there and tell stories I couldn’t relate to, or say jokes I didn’t really get. I watched a lot of cartoons, and not much of anything else. So it was only in 2015 that I discovered a comedian named Bo Burnham, and it was only because a friend of mine made me watch him.

It was his special, what., from 2013. I didn’t expect much, maybe a couple good jokes here and there, but it ended up being absolutely hilarious, and I laughed so hard I cried. It was funny, really made you think, and was exactly my type of humor.

I never revisited it, though, and I never got around to watching his special from 2016, Make Happy. For the past five years it’s been on my to-watch list. So when his newest special, Inside, came out, I thought I’d just add it to the list and get around to watching it eventually. But after seeing the hype surrounding it, I decided I had to watch it, even though it’d been years since I’d seen what. and hadn’t even watched Make Happy yet. Usually it bothers me to watch things out of order, even if they don’t have to be watched in order, but I made an exception for Inside.

I’m so glad I watched it, because it is incredible. That’s right, I’m here to add to the hype surrounding Bo Burnham and his special, because it is amazing and I want to share that awesomeness with y’all.

If you’ve never seen anything by Bo Burnham before, he’s a comedian and a musician, and his main thing is that he performs funny musical numbers and skits. His humor revolves around commenting on topics like white people, religion, sexuality, and mental health. He’s got lots of catchy songs that make you laugh but also have a message, and I find that format to be really cool.

The messages have never been clearer than in Inside, though, with songs about declining mental health, the ocean rising, how the world was built with blood, getting older, and sexting! Now that I list it out, it sounds pretty depressing. Honestly, it is a very emotional and somewhat depressing special, even though it is funny, as well. But isn’t it fun to joke about tragedy? Isn’t it in our nature to laugh at the bad things that are happening? To make light of dark situations?

Bo Burnham is quite transparent in his newest special, making it evident that the pandemic has only worsened his mental health, as I’m sure it has done to many, many people. He doesn’t beat around the bush, he has opinions and he is here to make them known. And those opinions will get stuck in your head for days on end, because his songs are insanely fun and catchy.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts within the past year regarding our society, systemic oppression, capitalism, global warming, all that good stuff, and Bo Burnham has taken all those thoughts out of my head and expressed them perfectly. I could never really put my thoughts into words, but he manages to not only do that, but sing them! Truly an art.

In all seriousness, Inside really is a piece of art, it’s deep, and impactful, and it resonates on several different levels. I’ve been so obsessed with it for the past week, listening to all the songs on repeat day after day, trying to learn every word of every song, and talking about it with anyone and everyone who has seen it. It’s an amazing piece of media, and I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s on Netflix, but if you don’t have Netflix, you can still listen to all 20 of the songs from the special on YouTube or Spotify. It’s definitely a bonus to see the songs performed (and see all the stuff in between the songs), but the songs just by themselves are still great, so definitely check it out either way!

Have you seen any of Bo Burnham’s specials before? What did you think of Inside? Do you have a favorite song from it? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day (and watch Inside if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it)!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

A Look At Loki: Episodes 1-3

It’s been almost a decade since The Avengers (2012) came out, and since that fateful day little thirteen year old me saw it in theaters, Loki has been my favorite Marvel character. Now, Marvel has finally put out a show all about the god of mischief himself, and I am so amped.

Before we continue, I must give you your OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING. Got it? Okay, good.

I had no idea what to expect from this show. I didn’t know what it would be about, what it would entail, or which characters would be involved. So when I found out that the entire premise is time travel-related, my excitement for the show plummeted. If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I hate time travel, especially in regards to Marvel and DC. I also hate multiverses! So, yeah, bit of a bummer that the entire premise revolves around a time-authority-organization that uses time travel to prevent multiverses from happening.

However, I stuck it out, because my love for Loki knows no bounds. And honestly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far! Despite not liking the premise and the idea of The Timekeepers as a whole, the characters, humor, cinematography, choreography of fight scenes, and use of color are so fun and engaging.

Loki is a fantastic character as is, but what’s special about him in Loki is that it seems like the writers are finally writing him for the audience he has rather than the audience he was initially aimed at. What do I mean by this? It feels to me like the Loki from The Avengers was someone written for edgy teenage boys, sort of like a Joker-type character that makes you “really think about society.” The Loki that is portrayed in Loki is more like a fun, chaotic, and sometimes downright silly ball of mischief and charm. He’s written more for the villain-loving Millennial girls who wrote fanfiction on Wattpad in their youth (definitely NOT speaking from experience).

Everyone knows the only thing better than one Loki is two Lokis! However, Sylvie is honestly pretty different from Loki, and seeing a new take on a character that’s been around for the past decade is super interesting. Watching her and Loki interact is also really neat; seeing them trying to outsmart each other, out-fight each other, be more “Loki” than the other. The interestingness of their dynamic only grows when they actually start to get along and learn more about each other. Watching them open up to one another and getting more of Loki’s backstory, about how his mother used to make fireworks over the water, seeing Loki sing, and Loki being confirmed as the beautiful bi boy he is was so awesome.

And then we have Mobius. Mobius is interesting because he kept wanting to give Loki chances when no one else would. He saved Loki from being reset, and continued to vouch for him even after Loki did a bunch of stuff wrong, like stalling the mission in the 1980s. Why would he keep sticking his neck out for Loki, someone who is notorious for lying and stabbing people in the back? Sure, Loki proves useful now and again, like how he discovered that the variant was hiding in catastrophes. But is his cleverness enough of a reason to keep him around for all the trouble he causes?

I think Mobius sees in Loki what no other character does. He isn’t really a villain. Mobius knew that Loki didn’t actually like hurting people, that Loki has a heart underneath all that mischief and trickiness. Sure, he’s a bit of a bastard most of the time, and he’s done some bad stuff (okay, a lot of bad stuff), but he isn’t truly evil.

His biggest issue throughout the Marvel movies is that he believes he is “burdened with glorious purpose”. But Loki knocks him off his high horse in the very first episode. Once Loki sees his death, he realizes the whole “glorious purpose” thing was ridiculous, and reassesses his goals and decisions. I think seeing his own death fundamentally changed him as a whole. I also think that Loki seeing all the Infinity Stones at the TVA gave him perspective and made him realize that the TVA is no joke, and there are bigger things in this universe than him and his plans.

Aside from Loki himself, the show has great humor. It’s very reminiscent of Thor: Ragnarok. In my opinion, Thor: Ragnarok, while funny, has a bit too much bathos in it, but Loki hasn’t seem to run into that problem yet. Loki has always been a funny character, or at least witty, but what really makes Loki funny in Loki is his reaction to situations rather than any intention to actually be clever or witty.

The first three episodes were a bit slow, if we’re being honest, but I have high hopes for the rest of the series now that they’ve got the info-dumping and premise-set-up out of the way. This line of thinking is supported by the fact that episode three was definitely the best yet. Plus, there’s nothing like a catastrophic-world-ending cliffhanger to keep you watching!

Other than that, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the show since it’s only the first three episodes, but I can’t wait to see what direction they decide to take the show in. I’ve really been enjoying it so far! If Marvel kills Loki ONE MORE TIME I SWEAR-

Anyways, are you a fan of Loki? What do you think of the show so far? Do you think Loki will eventually be able to meet The Timekeepers? Do you think Sylvie is the new and improved version of Loki or can nothing beat the original? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Athena Scalzi

TokyoTreat July Box Review

Welcome, everyone, to a special edition of me trying Japanese snacks! As you might have been able to tell from the title, I’m not trying a Sakuraco box today (like I did in my last four snack box posts), but a TokyoTreat one instead! The nice people at Sakuraco reached out to me after my latest Sakuraco post and said they would love to send me a TokyoTreat box in exchange for an honest review on this blog.

So, just to make that clear for everyone, I was gifted this TokyoTreat box in exchange for a post. Of course, this in no way affects how I’m going to write about the box. I will still be a hundred percent honest in my thoughts about the box and the snacks inside.

Now that that’s cleared up, let me tell you a little bit about TokyoTreat if you don’t already know what it is.

TokyoTreat is a subscription box that is chock-full of popular Japanese snacks, candies, and features Japanese exclusive flavors of popular brands like Pocky, Kit-Kat, and Hi-Chew. Not only do they have a wide variety of snacks and sweets, but drinks as well!

It’s important to note that you only get the drink with the Premium Box. The Premium Box also has five more snacks in it than the Classic Box does. I am grateful to have been sent the Premium Box so I could try everything, including the drink!

I would also like to talk a bit about how this box is different from the Sakuraco boxes. The Sakuraco boxes feature more authentic style Japanese tea time goods and snacks, and always include a home good item, like a plate or bowl. The TokyoTreat boxes are more geared towards popular, trendy snacks and pop culture, and include fun things like special anime snacks or party packs of snacks that you can share with your friends (or enjoy all by yourself because you deserve it!). Both are fun in their own way, it’s more just a question if you prefer fun and whacky popular snacks, or more traditional and unique types of flavors.

With all that being said, let’s get into the stuff inside! I tried everything with one of my friends, so I’ll be including some of their thoughts as well! (Also, I took all the photos myself in my lightbox, so they’re not as pretty as the more professionally staged photos you’ll find on the website.)

So, this isn’t exactly what it looked like when I opened it, but I tried to arrange it in a way that would display a lot of the snacks or at least a good variety of the contents.

Upon first opening it, I was impressed with how much fit inside the box! There were quite a few items to unpack.

The first thing I tried was the drink, Fujiya Nectar Peach:

The description said that this juice is made by straining white peaches, and let me tell you, it is insanely peachy! It really tastes like you’re taking a bite right out of an actual peach. It was kind of on the thick side, like syrupy almost, but not in a gross way. It was a very concentrated peach flavor, but refreshing! My friend and I both gave it an 8/10.

After the drink, I grabbed a random snack out of the box and got these Porickey German Potato Flavor.

Porickey sticks are basically like these thin little breadstick things that come in a variety of flavors. This pack was “German Potato Flavor”. While they were perfectly crunchy and tasted good overall, I wouldn’t say they really conveyed that potato flavor. They were a little salty and pleasant enough, so I gave them an 8/10. My friend is not a fan of the breadstick style snack, so they gave it a 5/10.

Next up is the Bubbly Taiyaki Chocolate Flavor:

The packaging is super cute, so I was pleased to find that the real thing is pretty accurate to the picture:

Every time that I’ve had taiyaki in the past, it’s been red bean flavored, so this chocolate flavored one was both a surprise and a delight. The outside part was a perfectly crispy monaka wafer, and the chocolate inside had tons of bubbles in it, which made it wonderfully light and airy. Also, for being a single serving snack, it was a decent size! This was definitely a favorite of ours, and while my friend gave it a 9/10, I went ahead and gave it a full 10/10.

Going back to something salty, we have the Lucky Corn Tasty Salt Flavor:

The description says that these are an addicting snack, and I can attest to that! These were surprisingly sweet little corn puffs, with a mild flavor. They kind of had a salty/sweet thing going on, but they were very delicate and sort of melted in your mouth instead of being overly crunchy. They were quite good, and I gave them an 8.5/10, while my friend settled on a solid 7/10.

Up next is this adorable Melon Pandaro Butter Cookie!

This super cute snack was absolutely packed with melon flavor. It was intense, but also had a very fresh kind of flavor to it. In terms of texture, it was soft and buttery, and didn’t crumble apart at all! Honestly, the flavor was a little bit lotion-y, like an overly fragranced skin product, but that was really only in the aftertaste. So, I went with a 6/10 for this one, but my friend said it deserved a 7/10.

Sixthly, we have the Yamato Turtle Crackers:

As you can see from the photo, there was only a handful of these little crackers in the bag. These things were insanely crunchy, like overly crunchy, and tasted a little like burnt popcorn. These were definitely on the “meh” side of the snacks, so my friend and I gave them a 3/10. Probably our least favorite item in the box.

If you like Bugles, you’re sure to like these Tongari Corn Salted Vanilla Flavor!

I would’ve never thought to make a crunchy snack ice cream flavored, but somehow it works beautifully! The package these came in was huge, so there was a ton of them which is good because they are very addicting. They were the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and had that nice mild vanilla flavor. I really enjoyed these, and gave them an 8/10, and my friend gave them a 6/10.

Following that, we have the New Mochi Taro:

Here we have another little puffed sort of cracker; this snack was pleasantly crispy, mildly salty, but honestly pretty plain overall, nothing special. They’re fine to munch on but aren’t like mind-blowing or anything. Very simple, earned itself a 7/10 from me and a 6/10 from my friend.

Ninthly, we have the Full Moon Pon Salty Flavor:

I obviously did not read the description well enough, because I was under the impression that this was a sugar-cookie-like snack, but it is a salty cracker type. Honestly, it was pretty bland, and just sort of a plain cracker. But, it was light and crunchy which was nice. It was another one on the “meh” side so it only got a 5.5/10 from me and a 4/10 from my friend. The packaging is super cute though.

Up next was the Yakisoba Shop Taro Snacks:

These remind me so much of the La Choy Rice Noodles that you, like, top salads with! They’re kinda funky looking, but they had a really nice umami flavor and were crispy, so not bad overall. They got a 6/10 from me, and a 7/10 from my friend.

Following that, we had Caramel Corn Lemon Squash Flavor:

I was skeptical to try something that advertised itself as a caramel corn and as a lemon flavored snack, but my skepticism vanished upon trying it, because it was so delicious! This snack was unexpectedly mind-blowing. It was light and puffy, zingy and tangy, sweet and lemony, and honestly the best lemon flavored snack I’ve ever had. My friend agreed that it was definitely the best lemon flavored item ever. Easily a 9.5/10 for both of us. I could eat bags and bags of this stuff.

Twelfthly, we have the Umaibo Sugar Rusk:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get a good picture of this one because it was broken in half upon opening it, so definitely not my best shot, but basically it looks like a big, long cheese puff kind of snack. So, I definitely expected it to be that kind of flavor, but it was actually super sweet! It tasted just like a butter cookie or a shortbread, but also kind of like a really nice caramel flavor. It was very airy and light, and super duper good overall. I thought it was worthy of a 9.5/10, and my friend gave it an 8/10.

Funny enough, the next one I tried was the Umaibo Seaweed Salt:

This one had the exact same texture and shape as the sugary one before it, but was completely different in the flavor department. It was seaweed flavored, as you might guess from the specks of green throughout it. It was very salty, as one can expect with any nori snack, but kind of funky in terms of taste. It was also pretty dry, so the sugary one definitely beats this seaweed one by a longshot. This one did not score very high, with a 4/10 from me and a 2/10 from my friend.

One of the best things about this box is the inclusion of a summer exclusive flavor from Pocky, the Mint Choco flavor:

I have had my fair share of Pocky from stores like Hot Topic and F.Y.E., but this pack takes the cake. Not only were the sticks bigger and thicker than the ones I’ve had in the past, but the flavor was so great. The mint was not overpowering at all, and it was well balanced with the chocolate. This is easily the best Pocky I’ve ever tried, not to mention it wasn’t waxy at all, unlike the kinds I’ve had before. I don’t know why it’s so vastly different from the kinds I’ve tried before, but I’m glad for it! This is easily a 10/10 for me, and my friend saw fit to give it a 9/10.

Up next, the Yaokin Fugashi:

This was by far the most bizarre snack in the whole box. Not only was the inside texture like eating packing peanuts, but the outside texture was almost even stranger. My friend said it felt like eating TV static, which is an apt description. It almost feels like you shouldn’t be eating it, like it’s not really food or even edible. However, the flavor is totally fine, and actually kind of good. It tastes a lot like brown sugar or some sort of caramelized sugar. I would eat it again just for the novelty of it. This was a 6.5/10 for me, and a 5/10 from my friend.

Nearing the end, we have this Pudding Daifuku:

This little marshmallow was such a neat little treat. I’ve never had a marshmallow that has a filling inside before, so I thought that was cool. The filling was like sweet custard, and the marshmallow was chewy and soft. Overall, it was a pleasant little sweet bite that was deserving of a 9/10 in my book, though my friend doesn’t really like marshmallows much, so it only got a 6/10.

For the grand finale, we have Japan exclusive Pudding KitKats:

This big bag actually contained twelve mini KitKats:

And here’s what they look like individually:

When I say this is the best KitKat I’ve ever had, I mean it. This new exclusive flavor is to die for. It’s intensely sweet, probably because not only is the chocolate on the outside caramel pudding flavor, but the cream between the wafers is also caramel flavor. It probably helps that KitKat is one of my all-time favorite candies, but this was the only time my friend gave out a 10/10 if that says anything about how amazing these are. Of course, I also gave it a 10/10.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this box. Again, I’m happy to have gotten the Premium Box, because if I had only gotten the Classic, I wouldn’t have been able to try the drink, the marshmallow, the ice cream flavored corn snack, the melon panda, or the pudding KitKats.

If you’re interested in subscribing, you can check out the pricing options for the Premium or Classic box here. The Classic is only $25 a month, which I think is definitely worth it. The Premium is ten dollars more, but honestly if you can spare it, I would totally say to go for the Premium. Also, it’s cheaper if you subscribe for more than one month, but like I said you can check out the pricing page for yourself and decide what plan you think is best!

Personally, when I subscribe to new boxes I haven’t tried before, I always go for the three-month option. I actually went for the three-month option when I first discovered Sakuraco. I generally choose three-month because I think it’s a long enough period of time that you can really get a feel for the boxes and what exactly the company is going for. It’s also not a huge commitment like six months or a year is, three months feels like a lot less pressure than half a year or more, so like I said it’s generally what I choose.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post, I certainly enjoyed writing it, and again want to say “thank you” to the Sakuraco and TokyoTreat team for this opportunity! It was fun, and I hope you all liked hearing about it! Have a great day.

-AMS

Categories
Athena Scalzi

I Am Truly A Great Daughter

Buying gifts for my dad, whether it be for his birthday, Christmas, or Father’s Day, is a challenging feat. This is mainly because, as many of you have seen from his ridiculous musical acquirements, he buys himself whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Gift giving goes out the window when the person just gets themselves anything and everything they could ever want or need.

However, this Father’s Day, I’ve really outdone myself.

Salty licorice from Ikea! That’s it, I’ve decided that I’m the perfect daughter, no question.

On a more serious note, I hope everyone reading this has a pleasant Father’s Day, and if you don’t celebrate today, then I hope you have a very nice Sunday.

Unrelated, I’m leaving tomorrow morning to go to Virginia for a friend’s wedding (I’m in the wedding!), and I will be gone pretty much all week, so you shan’t be hearing from me for a bit.

Fare thee well!

-AMS

Categories
Athena Scalzi

Sakuraco June Box Review

Hello everyone, and welcome to another installment of me trying Japanese snacks! Today I’m reviewing the Sakuraco June 2021 Box with my dad. This month’s theme is citrus, which is perfect considering summer just started! Since we’ve done this three times before, I’m just gonna run through a quick explanation and then jump right in!

Sakuraco is a subscription box company in Japan that curates Japanese tea time snack boxes, with each box of snacks containing 20 authentic Japanese snacks such as castella cakes, senbei crackers, mochi, and more. The boxes also contain one home good item, such as a cup, plate, or chopsticks. Now that you’re up to speed, let’s rate some snacks!

Komachi Chestnut Pie:

This little golden brown treat was a great start to this box. My dad and I agreed that the chestnut filling was quite good, but my dad thinks the pie crust surrounding it was a little underwhelming, and a little too bready. I thought it was pretty perfect, honestly, no complaints from me, I really liked it! Overall, it was super tasty, pretty moist, and we would definitely eat it again.

SakuSaku Seaweed Rice Cracker:

This salty snack was flippin’ delicious. Unlike rice cakes here in the US, this little snack was comprised of tiny, individual rice balls that fell apart completely differently than what we’re used to. It made for an entirely different mouth feel, but was quite pleasant. The flavor of this was really intense, like a punch of umami flavor, but super good. We would definitely eat this again.

Fresh Orange Cake:

I have never had orange cake before, and I was little skeptical how it would taste, but I can say with full certainty that it is amazing! This one in particular was citrusy but not acidic, super flavorful, moist, and even has peel pieces in the batter which definitely contributes to that fresh taste. We would definitely eat this again.

Plum & Wasabi Okaki:

If they hadn’t prepared me by putting “wasabi” in the title of these, the heat would’ve totally thrown me for a loop. It was an intense heat upon consumption, but it mellowed out quickly and doesn’t burn like crazy or anything. It definitely doesn’t taste like plum, though. It tastes a lot like shrimp, my dad and I agreed. The texture is perfectly pleasant and they have a nice crunch. We would eat these again.

Azuki Dorayaki:

I swear I get one of these in every box! Though I think maybe they’ve all been from different brands because they’ve definitely varied in size. Anyways, this one was pretty okay! It has red bean paste in the middle, but this time the paste had whole beans in it instead of just being a smooth paste. It was like having chunky peanut butter instead of smooth. My dad was not a fan of the whole beans, and said they were odd. I don’t mind the whole beans at all, but I would say that it was not sweet enough. The pancakes were great, though! My dad says he would eat it again if the paste was smooth instead of chunky, and I would eat it again regardless of the whole bean paste.

Summer Fruits Jelly:

Upon opening this snack, I commented that it smelled like hair product. I didn’t expect it to taste like that either, but here we are. This snack totally tastes like when you’re taking a shower and accidentally get conditioner in your mouth. Despite not liking the taste, and not particularly loving the texture, either, I do like the aesthetic of it. The fruit suspended in gelatin is kind of a cool look. We would definitely not eat this again.

Waraku no Sato Salt Yokan:

This little snack is slippery as an eel. Despite being named Salt Yokan, it’s not particularly salty, and honestly it tastes like red bean paste, which I like. It was weirdly dense, but in a good way. We would definitely eat this again.

Matcha Taiyaki

I swear I’ve gotten this one before, too! But maybe I’m wrong. Taiyaki is always one of those things that I’m super excited for, and then it turns out just okay. Really, this snack was fine overall. The filling was okay, the bread was okay, nothing special or crazy about it. We would eat it again, but we are not enthused to.

Mochi Azuki Jelly:

I know the last couple times I’ve tried these mochi jelly type of cup thingies, I’ve hated them. But this one was actually pretty okay! And I’ll tell you why. This one was firmer than all the other ones I’ve tried. Much less… wiggly. Although this one didn’t have much flavor. It was very plain, even the mochi was like, unflavored. The mochi was quite dense, though, which made for a good mouth feel. This mochi jelly had a ton of beans in it, which is good if you like them, like me, and bad if you don’t really, like my dad. My dad says he would eat it again if it didn’t have the beans, and I’m undecided if I would partake in this jiggly treat again.

Cocoa and Orange Fruit Tart:

This was the snack I was most excited for, but unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. Though it did have a good flavor, as orange and chocolate is quite good together, it was ridiculously dry. Honestly, it tasted a lot like a Fig Newton, which is nowhere near orange and chocolate, but somehow also conveyed the orange and chocolate flavor. We would eat it again, despite dryness.

Hojicha Warabi Mochi:

I’m so tired of eating these gross mochi thingys with roasted soy flour, but nonetheless I persevered. This one, surprisingly, was also not as bad as usual, as it was firmer than most of these things, but not firm enough (unlike the one previously mentioned). The flavor was familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it until my dad said it tasted like jellied tea, and I realized it really does taste like black tea! I would not eat it again, but my dad said he would and he even finished the whole thing, whereas I couldn’t stand more than a couple bites.

Summer Citrus Monaka:

Much like taiyaki, these monaka wafer snacks are something I’m always excited for, but the wafer part is always awful. Usually, though, the paste inside is good enough that it makes the wafer a tolerable obstacle. However, this one had a weirdly flavored filling that I did not enjoy. To me, it tasted like someone took a bowl of black licorice and then squeezed a lemon over top of it. Literally like citrus and anise. However, my dad said it didn’t taste like anything and that it didn’t have a lot going on flavor-wise. We would not eat it again.

Uji Matcha Cake:

For the final snack, we tried this matcha cake. It was super good! It was moist, soft, had a subtle yet delicious matcha flavor, and was a huge portion, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. The beans didn’t seem to bother my dad this time. We would definitely eat this again.

Here are my dad’s top three snacks from this box: Plum and Wasabi Okaki, Fresh Orange Cake, Hojicha Warabi Mochi

These are my top three snacks: Fresh Orange Cake, Chestnut Pie, Seaweed Rice Cracker

Honorable mention: Uji Matcha Cake

Now that you’ve seen all the snacks, here is the home good that was included!

Japan’s Four Seasons Serving Tray:

Honestly, I really like the design, and a serving tray is a cool thing to include. However this piece is not dishwasher or microwave safe, and it just feels like cheap plastic. It does look nice, though, so it’s alright in my book.

And of course, here is the tea that I don’t try because I feel it’s unfair to review something I know I dislike.

Matcha Infused Genmaicha Tea:

This month’s box was definitely my favorite one yet! It makes me so excited to see July’s. I hope you enjoyed looking through all these unique snacks. Be sure to tell me in the comments which one you’d most like to try! Or if you also subscribe to Sakuraco, tell me which one was your favorite from your box. And have a great day!

-AMS

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