My Melody ankle socks

I think it’s unfair how when you have a group of characters, one character always becomes more popular than the others. One example is on children’s television show, Sesame Street. Elmo monster, who made his debut in 1985, has become more popular than the other puppets. Personally, I dislike the Elmo character. I don’t like Elmo’s high pitched voice or the way he talks in the third person, and I can’t understand why he is more popular than other (in my opinion, better) characters. I prefer older Sesame Street characters, like Grover and Bert and Ernie, who have been on the show since the start in 1969.

An autographed photo of Grover, Shih Yen’s favourite Sesame Street character.

It’s the same with Sanrio characters. Sanrio is a Japanese company that manufactures lots of cute things, and Sanrio is the company that brought Hello Kitty to the world. Sanrio also has many other characters, not just Hello Kitty. But the other characters are not as popular as Hello Kitty.

I don’t have any problem with Hello Kitty, and I personally own many Hello Kitty products, including shoes. But I think it’s unfair that Hello Kitty should get all the glory. There are other Sanrio characters, which I think are equally as cute as Hello Kitty, and they seem to have faded into history. Hello Kitty made her debut in 1974 on a coin purse. There are other Sanrio characters from that same time period; and when I was young, I liked those characters more than Hello Kitty. These characters are My Melody, a cute rabbit and Little Twin Stars, twin brother and sister Kiki and Lala, who are stars and live in the sky.

Sanrio characters – My Melody, the rabbit with Little Twin Stars, Kiki and Lala.

A friend who knows that I like My Melody gave me a pair of My Melody ankle socks. I love the socks, but when I first saw them, I thought there is no way these socks are going to fit me. These ankle socks are meant for the Japanese market only, and they are probably meant to fit the average Japanese woman. Unfortunately, my feet are not the size of an average Japanese woman. On me, these ankle socks are more like heel socks! I still love the socks, even if they don’t fit.

Shih Yen’s My Melody ankle socks.

Attempting to wear My Melody ankle socks.

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Cute socks and towels

Towel cakes have become a recent trend. This is where small towels are presented as if they are food. So for example, a face towel or a hand towel could be folded and made to look like a slice of cake. If the towels are brown, they could be put into a mug to look like a cup of coffee, or made to look like chocolates or muffins. I think it’s just a way of marketing boring towels to make them more attractive and interesting to customers.

I had only seen this trend in small towels until I saw these cute socks recently. The socks were packaged to look like popsicles and they are super cute. One pair had an ice cream design and the other a watermelon design. This could be called fun things to do with ice cream sticks, as I also had little face towels that had been packaged to look like lollipops.

Lollipop face towels, with a pair of ice cream socks.

Shih Yen’s pair of ice cream ankle socks.

Lollipop face towels with a pair of watermelon popsicle socks.

Shih Yen’s pair of watermelon ankle socks.

When I saw the watermelon design socks, I knew the perfect pair of shoes that would go with those socks. That would be watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design. Hot Chocolate Design is a shoe label from Venezuela, and it is one of my favourite shoe labels. This label was started in 2004 by Pablo Martinez and Carolina Aguerrevere.

Watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design, from their chocolaticas range (in style patilla).

Normally I limit my blog to just footwear and socks, but many things surprise and shock me about Venezuela, so I thought I would write a bit about Venezuela, the country where these shoes are designed.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Yes, Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia! And yet, the country cannot feed its own people. Venezuela is currently in social and economic turmoil, with widespread shortages of basic goods, like lack of food, medicines and toilet paper. Hyperinflation is a major problem, with inflation in triple digits.

Lucky then, I guess, that Hot Chocolate Design shoes are designed in Venezuela, but made in China.

Red Socks Day

This month, I’m writing about Red Socks Day. No, this is not related to the Boston Red Sox baseball team. This is Red Socks Day in New Zealand, and it is related to the late Sir Peter Blake.

Sir Peter Blake was a New Zealand-born yachtsman. In 1991 he was conferred an OBE, and in 1995 he was knighted for his services to yachting. He is most famous for leading Team New Zealand to victory in the America’s Cup yacht race. He led the team to victory in 1995, and again in 2000, becoming the first non-American team to successfully defend the title. He also set the fastest time for sailing non-stop circumnavigating the world.

After Sir Peter retired from competitive sailing, he focused on the environment and looking after the earth’s waterways. In December 2001, he was shot and killed by pirates in Brazil while on an expedition to examine the effects of global warming and pollution on rivers in South America.

Sir Peter Blake was known for his red socks. In 1995, his wife gave him a pair of red socks, and they became his lucky red socks. Every time he wore the red socks, he won his race, and when he didn’t wear the red socks, he lost his race.

red socks

An official pair of Sir Peter Blake red socks.

Today, red socks are a tribute to Sir Peter Blake. On the 8th of July this year, it is Red Socks Day in New Zealand, and this year marks the 21st anniversary of Red Socks Day. People are encouraged to buy and wear a pair of red socks. On this day, Kiwis wear red socks to remember Sir Peter Blake, to celebrate the success of a small country, and to support the work of the Sir Peter Blake Trust. The Trust was set up in 2004 to honour Sir Peter’s leadership and love for the environment. The Trust works to inspire and motivate young Kiwi leaders, adventurers and environmentalists to dream big. You can buy an official pair of red socks here.

To find out more about the work of the Sir Peter Blake Trust, go here.

The packaging of the red socks, inspiring you to 'dream big'.

The packaging of the red socks, inspiring you to ‘dream big’.

My problem with ankle socks and Ronald McDonald socks to the rescue

It is currently summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and if I wanted to wear socks, I would prefer to wear ankle socks. Unfortunately, I have huge problems with ankle socks. I don’t know if other people face the same problems as I do when it comes to ankle socks.

Part of the problem is that I have big feet. Ankle socks for women (at least in Asia) are always too small for me. When I wear them, they slide off the back of my heel. In Asia, I buy men’s ankle socks, which fit me much better, except that ankle socks for men are always in boring colours, like black, grey and dark blue.

I was deluded enough to believe that I could wear these ankle socks.

I was deluded enough to believe that I could wear these ankle socks.

I once bought this pack of 3 pairs of women’s ankle socks because they were so cute. One pair was pink while the other two had strawberries and cherries on them. I was deluded enough to believe the packaging that said the socks would fit size 5 – 10. I felt like I had been conned. The socks were too small to stay on my feet and slid off the back of my heel. I couldn’t even walk 10 metres before I would have to stop and pull the ankle socks up.

This is what happens when someone with big feet tries to wear average size socks.

This is what happens when someone with big feet tries to wear average size socks.

The other problem: I was wearing these socks for the first time while travelling on a long overseas trip. It was so annoying having to stop every few minutes to pull my socks up. Luckily for me, the McDonald’s Restaurant at Auckland airport was still selling their Ronald McDonald socks. These are red-and-white striped socks, usually sold at McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand in October to benefit the Ronald McDonald House charities. They cost NZ$5 a pair, and come in 2 sizes – adult or child. They were not ankle socks, but they were cheap, and since I was at an airport, I didn’t have much choice.

McD socks

Buying socks at McDonald’s restaurant solved my ankle sock problem.

It must have been funny for an onlooker to see me buying socks at a McDonald’s Restaurant and then immediately sitting down, not to eat, but to change my socks in the restaurant. I ended up giving away those ankle socks, which were all too small.

Recently at Christmas, I was given 2 pairs of ankle socks. I was so happy because they were exactly what I wanted. I wore each pair twice, and I had worn holes in the back of both pairs of socks after wearing them a grand total of twice. I don’t know if the socks were of exceptionally poor quality, or if it had something to do with someone with big feet wearing ankle socks.

anklet

Happiness is finding women’s ankle socks in my size.

Imagine my happiness and surprise when I finally found ankle socks for women to fit size 9 – 11. I don’t ask for much in life: happiness is finding women’s ankle socks in my size. They are not men’s socks. They don’t fall off my feet when I wear them. And holes don’t appear after the first wear. Ahhh…. bliss!

Cute cat socks

Sometimes the best things are bought by chance without planning, and with no hope of ever buying them again. This was the case for me with the cutest pair of cat socks that I have ever owned.

Is this not the cutest pair of cat socks you ever saw?

Is this not the cutest pair of cat socks you ever saw?

I bought them many years ago in a small gift shop, literally a hole-in-the-wall establishment. I hadn’t planned on buying socks, but these colourful stripe-y socks with cats were so cute that I couldn’t resist. The stuffed cats on top of the socks sealed the deal for me. In addition to cat socks, there were also duck and frog socks in a similar design. When I decided that the socks were so cute that I wanted more pairs, I returned to the shop only to find that it had closed down.

I knew nothing about the socks – I didn’t know the label or where they were made or anything, so there was no hope of me ever finding these cute cat socks again. These socks are now old and hole-y, but they have served me well. It is with sadness that I now have to say goodbye to them.

cat1

This cute pair of striped socks have stuffed cats on top.

 

Ronald McDonald socks

Over the past few weeks, four pairs of my socks have decided to spontaneously sprout holes all at the same time. As a result, I am finding myself in serious need of some new socks. So when the opportunity came up to buy socks and support a charity at the same time, I jumped at the chance.

Ronald McDonald House is a charity that helps families of sick children by providing them with a place to stay while the sick child is receiving medical treatment. The first Ronald McDonald House was set up 40 years ago in the USA. This charity has been operating in New Zealand since 1989, and the first Ronald McDonald House in Auckland recently celebrated its 20th birthday on 14 October 2014. There are 350 Ronald McDonald houses worldwide.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about McDonald’s. Sometimes I think that McDonald’s sells toys, not food. On one hand, I feel that McDonald’s contributes to childhood obesity with their food, especially with their Happy Meals. On the other hand, the Ronald McDonald House charities help sick children and their families.

Ronaldsocks

All proceeds from the sale of Ronald socks in New Zealand go to the Ronald McDonald House charities.

McHappy Day is a fundraising day for the Ronald McDonald House charity. Today is McHappy Day in New Zealand. On this day, $1 from every Happy Meal and Bic Mac sold goes to the Ronald McDonald House charity. You can also buy Ronald socks and all proceeds from the sale of Ronald socks benefit the charity.

The socks are called Ronald socks because they are red-and-white striped like the socks Ronald McDonald wears. The socks come in adult and child sizes. So on McHappy Day this year, I bought a Happy Meal and wore my Ronald socks. I wonder if I would look good in yellow pants? And big red shoes with yellow laces? Then I can really rock the Ronald McDonald clown look 🙂

Ronaldsocks1

Shih Yen wears Ronald socks.

Modern tabi socks (足袋)

On this exact date in 2012, I wrote a bit about Japanese tabi socks. I feel like revisiting this topic because I have now inexplicably found myself the owner of 3 pairs of tabi socks.

In Western culture it is seen as a major fashion faux pas to wear socks with sandals, but this look is traditional for the Japanese and they have been wearing socks with sandals for centuries. Traditional Japanese socks are called tabi and these are split-toe socks that separate the big toe from other toes. Tabi socks are worn with traditional Japanese thong footwear, such as zori and geta. The split-toe in the socks make it easier to wear thong footwear with socks.

A Japanese bride wears a kimono with formal zori and white tabi socks.

A Japanese bride wears a kimono with formal zori and white tabi socks.

Normally, socks can be worn interchangeably on either the left or right foot. It is the shoes that have a left or right side. It is the other way round with traditional Japanese socks and footwear. Because of the toe separator, tabi socks have a clear left and right side while the traditional footwear – zori and geta – can be worn interchangeable on either foot.

Japanese people have been wearing tabi socks since the 16th century. The peak in wearing tabi socks was in the Edo period (1600 – 1868). Tabi socks can be worn by both men and women. Tabi socks are normally ankle-length and the usual colours for tabi are black or white. White tabi socks are worn in formal situations, with the formal zori. Tabi socks are also worn in some Japanese martial arts, such as kendo and aikido, which have earned them the nickname ninja socks.

Shih Yen wears pink tabi socks with a cherry blossom motif. This pair of tabi socks is made from nylon and polyurethane.

Shih Yen wears pink tabi socks with a cherry blossom design. This pair of tabi socks is made from nylon and polyurethane.

Traditionally, tabi socks are made of cotton, but these days they can be made from other materials. I have one pair of tabi socks made of a nylon and polyurethane blend, which makes it feel like swimsuit material. My two other pairs of tabi socks are made from a polyester, cotton and polyurethane blend.

mens tabi

A pair of men’s tabi socks featuring a dragon and the kanji word for ‘dragon’ (龍)

tabi back

A dragon on the soles of these tabi socks.

Traditionally, tabi socks were plain and came in monochrome colours like black and white. These days, modern tabi socks are colourful and can have different designs on them. I have a pair of tabi socks meant for men, with a masculine design of a dragon on it, and the kanji word for ‘dragon’ (龍) on it. My other pairs of tabi socks are more feminine with feminine motifs like cherry blossoms on them. With modern tabi socks, the left and right side don’t even have to match, but they still make up a pair.

womens tabi

A pair of modern women’s tabi socks. The left and right side don’t even have to match.

Finally, if you need further evidence that tabi socks have become modern, none of my 3 pairs of tabi socks are actually made in Japan. All of them are made in China, even the pair that was bought in Japan, a gift from a Japanese friend.