I have fewer opportunities to photograph my hobbies these days, but in a way, I think that helps me appreciate the moments actually can set aside for my personal photography. That said, I can’t complain.
So, what do we have here? It looks like a baby owl has stumbled into the midst of my Happily Candied world!
Just as the caption at the bottom of the photo reads, this is Boba Tea, my new little plush friend. I picked him up on a whim at one of my favorite local toy shops last night. The shop has a really lovely selection of plushes, including a decent number of squishies from Jellycat. While my toy collecting has dwindled down to a bare minimum these days, my love for two plush companies has remained strong– even if I’ve mostly admired their products from afar over the years. Jellycat and Bunnies By The Bay are the softest, most well made plush toys I’ve ever come across in my life! And trust me, I have a crazy amount of experience “testing out” plush toys, so I expect you to take my opinion very seriously.
Both companies specialize in products for babies and young children, which is probably why I find their plushness so very… plush. In fact, I find the quality and craftsmanship put into their creations even more luxurious and desirable than the very popular and pricy GUND brand. (“Gotta Getta GUND!” Or not.) I adore Bunnies By The Bay for not only the products themselves, but also the heartfelt story behind the company. Other than the sweet, yet sad, story that led up to the company’s creation, I’ve loved it for its past bunny products. Many of them were handmade and were created in very small runs or as one-offs for cute boutiques scattered across the United States. I happened to first take notice of the plushes when BBTB had a contract with Hallmark (a company I worked for way back when), and its darling pastel plush toys and matching home decor donned the shelves at the chain’s stores. To this day, the very first BBTB bunny plush I ever owned (a gift from my mom) remains to be one of my most cherished possessions.
A few years following Hallmark’s BBTB line, BBTB changed its tune and started focusing primarily on producing baby and toddler products. As sad as I am to see the unique pieces of plush art disappear from the world, I’m happy to know that the company is still alive and kicking with items full of soft love.
Jellycat is a newer love for me. I first discovered it a few years ago when a new Learning Express opened at my local mall. The mall had been without a toy store for over a decade (I had to say goodbye to KB Toys back in high school), so when I walked into the newly built Learning Express for the first time, I was taken aback with complete excitement. I immediately spoke with the manager, who still knows me and my family to this day, and told her how thrilled I was to see a toy store– and one filled with such unique products– pop up at the mall. From then on, she made sure to share her favorite products with me, one of the first being the Jellycat plushes. I fell instantly in love with the incredibly lush and plush toys. And because the manager was so smitten with the brand, she made sure that her store always had a solid stock of them!
Walking into Learning Express and seeing what new Jellycat plushes line the shelves is the biggest treat– and I try to take a moment to do that at least once every few weeks. Just like Bunnies By The Bay, Jellycat’s target audience is small children, meaning that the toys are unbelievably soft and cuddly. Picking up one and holding it for the first time is like experiencing a dream coming to life in my hands. That’s exactly what happened when I saw and held Little Owl (the official name given to the owl featured above) for the first time last night. I’ve been very strict with purchasing toys for a while now, but I couldn’t resist taking the little guy home with me. He’s perfection in plush form!
The name Boba Tea comes from my love for bubble tea (also called boba tea). Whenever I go to the mall, I almost always pick up a cup of green matcha bubble tea, and that stand happens to be very close to Learning Express. Also, if you’ve followed me online for the many years I’ve been blogging, you may already know that I’m slightly obsessed with Clash of the Titans and owls. In the 1981 film, the mechanical owl owned by the goddess Athena is named Bubo. Boba Tea naturally struck a happy nostalgia chord with me, and I went with that gut feeling to keep the name around for my fluffy new owl companion.