The Starbucks Mug that started the collection

The Starbucks Mug That Started The CollectionI have been meaning to write about my Starbucks mug collection forever, but photographing the mug that started the collection was always a problem.  It was a nondescript undbranded mug in clear glass, and transparent glass is always a challenge.  But here it is, finally.  Note that I had written about this back in 2008, but I can’t even see the graphic anymore, probably because it is an outdated link from the first blog platform I used to house this blog in.

It orinally came as part of a Valentine’s Day gift set of cookies and coffee, if I remember right, and after the 14th, they split up the collection and sold this on sale.  This was in February 2001 when I had just started working.  So this mug does not only represent the beginning of a collection, but it was also one of my first real purchases with my own money.

I don’t normally use my mugs but this one, I do.  Not just because it was the first, but because it has all these pretty pink hearts.  I have been putting away the mugs I have acquired through the last 2-3 years, but I do know I’ve hit the 100+ mug mark a while back.  Life has made me put the collecting on hold, but friends have continued to bring me one from their travels or from just around here– so the collection has been growing.  In fact, it’s the last few mugs that I have received that has prompted me to finally start writing about the collection.  I’m hoping I can finally get a more up to date photo album going.

There were Starbucks mugs in the pantry when I got here, one or two they had purchased in previous trips, but it was a determined effort to get mugs as souvenirs in my travels that prompted me to start the collection.

I actually had a regular mug collection from my teens back home, and there was even a time when I gave them away as Christmas gifts, filled with some chocolates.  I think a mug or two has survived that collection, but I didn’t take any with me when I got here.  Starbucks was already in Manila a year or two before I left, but it never even occurred to me to get the first mug they had as a souvenir back then.  I did get my Manila mug after my first trip back home in 2002.

In time, I found the regular everyday not-city-specific mug a point of interest, more so when they were on sale.  And at the height of my collecting frenzy, I even bought some of their earlier mugs from eBay.  (So yes, I do have some mugs with the original siren logo.)

I had some space on my kitchen cupboard, and I wrapped my mugs in cling wrap and displayed them in two rows until I ran out of space.  With a do-it-yourself redecorating in mind, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to display the mugs when I finally bring the collection together.

Meanwhile, I washed my first mug and drank my morning coffee from it.  Like I said, I have received some meaningful additions the last couple of weeks– not so much for the uniqueness of the new mugs– but for the stories behind them.  I didn’t feel right about just writing about any mug without writing about this one, because collections are always most interesting when you go back to when you started them.  At least it is for me.  The next question is usually how long you have been collecting, and that gives you 16 years as of this writing for my Starbucks Mug Collection.

I don’t go out of my way to collect them, but well meaning friends remember and give them to me without my asking.  I still look at the sale or clearance sections the few times I actually walk into one of the many Starbucks stores around me, but knowing my mugs are mostly hidden stops me from getting more.  I want to catalogue them first and figure out a way to display them or store them as a cohesive collection.

Will I trade?  Only for your city or country mug for my New York City mugs, please.  I have received inquiries about a mug or two in my flickr album, once upon a time even getting a $200 offer for one of my Christmas city mugs.  I had to say no.  What’s in my collection will remain in the collection — at least until that time that I decide it’s time to let the collection go.  Not quite there, and I don’t think I will ever get there.

My Starbucks mugs have a sentimental value to me,  so much so that I have declared them my personal property.  Even if there was a time I had shared the collecting with someone else, the collection is mine.  These mugs embody memories of good times and happy travels, of friendships and warm thoughts that made people think of my collection and contributing to it.  And more happy memories and warm thoughts are yet to come.. I look forward to more mugs joining my collection.

Monday Musings – bits and pieces here and there

I tried — rather unsuccessfully — to do another Daily Prompt post yesterday.  There are times when a topic appeals to me, but no matter how I try, I cannot pull a coherent post together.  For the most part, it’s because I kept trying to censor myself and not be too obvious.  And so I just gave up and decided all the subterfuge was defeating the very purpose of writing.  I don’t think that post will ever see the light of day.

Moving on..

My head is pounding and no amount of painkillers seem to be helping.  I’m buried in work and not even Robert Palmer seems to help.  He’s singing in the background on ultra-low volume, but I can hear the percussions very clearly.  (I still mourn his loss.)  I am almost counting the minutes to the time I can leave work, but the prospect of braving the cold makes me ambivalent about that.  Then again, it would be nice to take a nap between Manhattan and home..

When I can’t quite write longer than a paragraph or two on a Monday, I collate all those scattered thoughts into one single piece I’ve started calling Monday Musings.. here’s this week’s.

Cannelloni —  pray tell me, Jonathan, I don’t remember what that’s about.  Those who know me know Jonathan is my friend of thirty-something years from pre-law in UP Manila, and one of those who inspired me to pursue the dream of becoming a lawyer as he jumped into law school a year ahead of me.  He is also one of my dearest friends who knows me to the core, and is my personal attorney.  (Pro bono, or compensated with love and affection.)  I had copied a status thread where you were supposed to leave a comment if you were my friend and just one word — a single word – as to how we met.

Jonathan wrote “Cannelloni”.   It wasn’t so much what he wrote but that he wrote — and I felt the tears welling up.  I took a deep breath and just smiled.   I used to love Cannelloni — I believe from Angelino’s, a rather famous Italian restaurant in Makati and Greenhills from the 80s.  And I can’t remember, for the life of me, what one of my favorite dishes has to do with how he and I met.  We were from different cliques in the university but I ended up being the only girl in the group — everyone’s younger sister — the one who drank a soda whenever they ordered another round of beer.  I still can’t remember… (Note to self: Write and ask..)

nyc2008Starbucks mugs — to display or not to display..  I have been collecting Starbucks mugs (and only Starbucks, please) for 14 years now, and I have been meaning to re-arrange them and display them again.  (I just need to rewrap them in clear plastic to prevent them from collecting dust and grime.)  Events in the last 12 months had made me rethink that, almost to the point of making me think of packing them up and storing them away.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I’m maybe 20 mugs behind photographing the collection, but I never really stopped adding new ones.  And of course, friends who knew about my collection brought me additions to the set from places as far as Dubai and India, and Alan had brought me one from Jordan during the last business trip to Iran which, unfortunately, hasn’t been invaded by our favorite brew.  My siblings sent me Tagaytay and Cebu.  (And I think Bohol.. not sure..)  What to do..




Friday Five – the Turnaround

The week has been long but nice.  One of those weeks when a lot happened but didn’t necessarily wreak havoc on my sanity and health.  There were a lot of moments that saw me smiling.  There were a lot of happy moments.  Plenty enough that the usual worries were but a hum in the background.

Here’s my progress report:

1.  Cut my flower embellishments for my Thank You Postcard Project.  Done!  I can’t stop making them, though, so there’s more to cut.

2.  Finish the polymerclay earrings I had put together three weeks ago.  Life was just too hectic, but will do this weekend.

3. Paint the multi-window page I had cut out o f my altered book.  Just have to keep going.

4.  Mail the letter to GINA!!!    Now have to write another..

5.  Start photographing my Starbucks mugs again.  This weekend?

My weekends come and go, mostly unplanned.  I’m very spontaneous in that regard.  I look at weekends as a flowing 48 hours that are rarely planned in advance.  For example, I’m thinking about breakfast but I’m not fixated on planning for it.

I just want my “Michael’s” fix, and I make a mental note of my shopping list.  I think of what treat I will indulge in, and then I keep my fingers crossed the sun will come out and I’ll have more things to smile about.

All I’m thinking about is maybe creating a piece for myself, but here’s next week’s Friday Five.

1.  Send out two prototype Thank You Postcards for a test run.

2.  Finish the polymerclay earrings I had put together three week ago.

3. Continue to paint the multi-window page I had cut out of my altered book. 

4.  Write Donna a letter.    

5.  Start photographing my Starbucks mugs again. 

I’m exhausted but “happy” exhausted.  I feel like I had done a lot.. between the elevator rides, a department luncheon that was a big hit, and trying to keep the department happy, I’m totally bushed.  But again, I feel good.  I know the boss was happy (which was what mattered), and I feel I accomplished a lot.

Here’s hoping everyone has a good weekend wherever the weekend finds you.



Friday Five (Returns)

I have been waking up at 4:30am the last couple of days for some reason.  Unfortunately, no matter how I try to “fight” it, I can’t quite go back to sleep and end up sliding out of bed by 5am.  This morning, I treated myself to a call to the siblings back home — and we had a few laughs and dizzying moments trying Viber Video Chat, but I had to give it up eventually because it might trigger my vertigo.  My nieces and nephew couldn’t keep the cam still!

So I’ve decided to bring back my Friday Five — an attempt at focusing on five tasks over the weekend, hoping to get things done.  (HOPING being the operative word.)  The idea is to keep the tasks simple and doable, and as specific as possible.  The last iteration didn’t quite live up to that so I sort of drifted away from it.  But as the blog post title says, Friday Five returns.

1.  Cut my flower embellishments for my Thank You Postcard Project.  I have had to deal with some major distractions the last couple of weeks but have continued to prep for that big pay-it-forward project I hope to do this fall.

2.  Finish the polymerclay earrings I had put together three weeks ago.  I know. Major slump with the production and the store, but the “beads” have been strung up and the dangles constructed.  Just need to put the earwire hooks and either give them away or post them in the shop.

3.  Paint the multi-window page I had cut out of my altered book.  I haven’t stopped art journaling although I’ve slowed down, but I’m happy with the pace I’ve been moving towards the end of the book with the backgrounds and all.  I picked up one of the word art embellishments I have and then designed a multi-page/multi-window layout.  Windows have been cut, so it’s time to start actually doing backgrounds.  At least 1 page painted over the weekend would be good.

4.  Mail the letter to GINA!!!  

5.  Start photographing my Starbucks mugs again.  I got a mug from Jordan!!!!

I’m looking forward to the weekend and hoping I can actually tick off some of the above if not all.  Meanwhile, I’m finishing another blog post which is taking a while because it’s a rather emotional post for me — writing about my siblings.

Busy weekend with some relatives in town.. but it’s a weekend, and although our company doesn’t observe Columbus Day (Monday), I’m still excited about what the weekend can bring.

Happy Friday, everyone!



My Top 3 Hobbies and why I love them (30 Days of blogging prompts 23)

According to Webster, a hobby is : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  So what are my pursuites outside of the regular day-to-day that I engage in as a form of relaxation?

1. Collecting postcards.  I have been collecting postcards since I was in my teens.  I had known of postcards since I was a young child, but I never really started collecting until I got a postcard from a friend in highschool who had moved to California in 1985.  Totally unconnected, I started with the International Young Service (IYS) which has now closed its doors.  The IYS was an international student penfriend service which matched young people from around the world for a minimal fee.  This was before the onslaught of the internet, when snailmail was the best way to reach someone overseas.

I signed up for some penfriends and my penfriends from Hong Kong (Clara Mok) and the Netherlands (Jolanda Spronck) sent me tons of postcards not only from their countries but from their travels in particular.

Over the years, my collection has grown and it even made it here to the US before I did.  A heavy shoebox full of them made it to New York after the traditional pamanhikan and I carried the rest when I moved here.  I collected postcards and swapped through organized groups after getting here, but after Angelo’s birth in 2004, my collection only grew when I purchased postcards during our travels.

I would buy postcards from places we visited, mail it back addressed to Angelo, chronicling our trip along the way.  I always travelled with address labels ready and stamps in hand.  That way, I only needed to look for a post office.  When the places we visited had an abundance of postcards, I would sometimes send back 20 postcards.  I regret that I didn’t do this for Manila until the last 3 or 4 of around 8 trips in the last 10 years.  But it’s something I do regularly now.  In fact that particular facet of my collection is over 200 postcards strong now.

I started collecting postcards because it gave me a window to worlds I thought I would never get to see.  So I collected from everywhere, hoping to have a taste of the different cultures.  When I started to grow my collection here in the US, I started focusing more on lighthouses and maps.  These two continue to be my primary collecting interests.  Then I started to find vintage Philippine and New York postcards.  Another additional item to collect.  And when I fell in love with Paris during my two trips there in 2005 and 2006, that became a collecting interest, too. 

2. Collecting Starbucks mugs.  This is a collecting interest that started when I moved here to New York in 2000.  My first Starbucks mug was a purchase on sale after Valentines 2001.  It wasn’t a city mug — but a valentine themed mug which I treasure to this day as the mug that started me collecting.

Starbucks Valentine ClearI haven’t purchased a mug in a while but I do get city and country mugs.  I’m covered as far as the Philippines is concerned except that I don’t have the latest Cebu (although my brother has already gotten one for me), and I think there is now a Tagaytay mug.  Friends who know I collect mugs have brought me some from the most unlikely places like Prague.  I’ve lost track of the collection because I have some that I have yet to wrap in plastic and put up on te space between the ceiling and my kitchen cupboard. 

To date, a conservative estimate of the collection puts it at 150.  Many of them are in the attic but that’s something I hope to take care of before the year ends.  I will re-wrap those that are still up on the kitchen space and then add everything.  I have a catalogue of some of the mugs on my flickr account.  I have had offers for some of the unique ones.  $200 for a holiday mug…!  Unfortunately I only had one of that mug, and even at that price, it wasn’t worth parting with.  It even made it all the more worth keeping.

I like collecting starbucks, not just any mug, because it has a certain quality to it — even if I’m not addicted to the coffee but I do like certain “flavors”.  (People who have shunned starbucks for the taste fail to see that they have different offerings.)  I don’t really want to get just any mug either because even the dollar store has hundreds to offer.  I’d run out of space and what would be the point in that?  Like my postcard collection, I enjoy seeing the collection grow, although I don’t go crazy buying from overseas just to add new ones.  Neither have I really traded mugs although that would be something I’d consider.  The cost is just too prohibitive, and I’ve had a special Osaka mug sent to me which arrived all broken up.  (My friend forgot that that priority mail box will be tossed around on its way here.) 

While not all my mugs are from my travels or the hubby’s trips, each mug has a “story” to tell, so they are always more than just mugs to me.

3. Jewelry making.  Some people will think that pulling pieces together is as easy as getting a string of gemstones or pearls and then working with them with wires or string.  My creative process is a little slower than that when I’m trying to figure out a piece.  Sometimes even when I’ve figured it out (like my promised necklace for Lou), it takes me time to call a piece good enough to send or sell.  Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.  “Good enough” is never good enough.  It should be better than that.

I find a certain fulfillment in completing a piece, wearing my own creations and when I get to sell one, there is a sense of reward not only monetarily, but compliment-wise.  I used to be shy telling people I made  a piece, but now I acknowledge the compliment with that admission coupled with some pride.  Not boasting, mind you, but when I’m walking outside and someone says something about the polymer clay necklace I’m wearing, I stop and smile and say thank you.

I like to be able to wear pieces I know I won’t spy elsewhere.  There are pieces I’ve seen sold by the department stores or my favorite clothing shops, but when I go to scrutinize them, I find the materials are all acrylic.  I like plastic when it is not pretending to be the real thing — like some acrylic beads I purchased dirt cheap at a clearance sale which makes no pretensions to being glass crystals or pearls.  But when I see a piece that shimmers but does not have sparkle of glass or crystal, I get turned off.  Maybe it’s just my crafter’s eye.  I hold the piece and jingle it in the palm of my hand and then I know if it’s glass or acrylic.

In a world where the way I dress is dictated by the business norm, my accessories are one thing where I can show some individuality without risking raising some eyebrows.  So I like wearing my polymer clay chain necklace which others have mistaken for a special kind of wooden carved chain.  (Mango wood?  No.. it’s polymer clay in copper).  My rose quartz cross pendant has received compliments but I am thinking the swarovski crystal version will do better.  (Although I haven’t worn the latter so I haven’t had the chance to “test” it.)

Work in progress: Cross pendant with Rose Quarz and Swarovski Crystals
Jewelry crafting is the hobby that affords me the chance to continue to learn new things.  It’s not just acquiring an object to call my own, but I like the way the hobby has pushed me to continue to research things and improve on my skills.  Sometimes I worry that my eyesight is going when I can no longer thread a needle as easily — but I charge that to age.  (Time to get the eyes measured and evaluated for glasses, I guess.)  Creating something from raw materials and seeing a finished piece and wearing that piece over and over again is reward enough.