Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Libellules et Papillons

I met up with my friends on Saturday after not seeing them in what felt like ages. 

The week leading up to this gathering, I suffered with bouts of that pesky ghoul we call fatigue, and on Saturday morning I wondered if I would have the energy to get out of bed. Thankfully, I felt much better after a shower and some breakfast.

I met my friends in town at the fabric shop, which didn't have the lace I was looking for as per usual. We all left empty-handed, actually, before deciding to have lunch at Nando's. The restaurant was fairly quiet so I figured the service would be good, and it was. Our food came out quickly and was nicely made. Because we were in one of the smaller restaurants of the chain, it did feel rather like we needed to hurry up and leave. Although the food was really nice, I do prefer places where you can stay as long as you want and not feel the staff are desperately waiting for the chance to clear your table. I think this is why I like pubs so much. You often find people in there who look as though they've been there for days!

After eating, we headed to our new favourite riverside area to take some photos. On our way there, we passed a world culture festival happening in the town centre. Truly, it seems like there is always some sort of event happening when we meet up these days and it's kind of exciting because we never know quite what we're going to stumble upon. There was a band performing a song whose lyrics were a refrain of "Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!" with an atmospheric drumming accompaniment. There were people in different national dress, representing their respective home countries, with different food stands and floats gathered together. 

We finally made it to our little grass area, where we struggled a bit with the constantly changing light levels, but we got our pictures sorted out in the end. There were a few uncomfortable moments when an old man walked slowly by and kept stopping to gawp at us, even pretending to read a sign so he could linger a little longer. At times like these we find ourselves wondering whether or not our clothes are really that outlandish. We don't think they are. But perhaps we've become desensitised to how strange alt fashion looks to outsiders after all these years!

I took one look at the roses and knew it would be the perfect photo op for Luna, whose lovely red skirt shared similar tones. I must admit I'm rather proud of my photography here!

Sammi went for a casual, chocolate-themed coordinate as ever! I am very much in love with her boots, and definitely need a nice comfy loliable pair for myself for rainy days.

I wore Bodyline's Lovely Poodle skirt. I love this print because it's an unusal pinkish-brown and photographs as the gorgeous purple shade I use for my blog theme! If I look a little awkward here, it's because I was posing on a slope that was a little difficult to balance on.

We were joined by gorgeous shimmery dragonflies and vibrant butterflies, flitting around and enjoying the sunshine. 
We loved this blue dragonfly, and found ourselves chasing after it in an attempt to get a photo before it took off again! The most interesting one we've seen so far is an all black one, with fluttery, feather-like wings. We love you, goth dragonfly, wherever you are.

Look at this little guy! I believe it's a Red Admiral.

Photoshoot complete, we headed to the pub for dessert. I wasn't in the mood for their chocolate fudge cake, and decided to try their knickerbocker glory sundae. 
It was a mistake on my part, as it turned out to be nothing more than a basic ice-cream, with squirty cream, strawberry sauce, and a couple pieces of fruit thrown in. I most definitely would have enjoyed the cake more, even if I do find it a little sickly. Truly, I was in the mood for a good cocktail but I've been too paranoid since the ILD aftermath in which I seemed to suffer an allergic reaction and got very ill in the middle of the night. Oh well. I couldn't have bought one even if I wanted to as I had no ID on me anyhow, seeing as I have sent off my driving licence to have the photo changed (my previous one looked nothing like me, and I've had to convince people that yes, it is a picture of me, on multiple ID-ing occasions). I made do with an Appletiser, and water I'd brought with me! It poured with rain for a little while outside, and got dark noticeably earlier than usual. You know what that means? Winter is coming (dun dun duuuun).

We decided to wrap things up a little into the evening, and while they headed to the train station, I headed off to catch my bus home. 

I think I'll end this post with the shoe shot that Luna insisted we take, as it harks back to the days of meetup reports on egl!

It was nice to get out of the house, even if nothing we did was particularly ground-breaking. I'll be seeing them again soon to celebrate my birthday next month! I must plan something properly instead of being so last-minute as usual!

So, what have you been up to this month? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments! See you next time 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

🌞 A Lifestyle Lolita's Guide to a Great Summer! 🌞

Hey everyone! I've been really enjoying the summer so far. Since surviving the heatwave while I was on holiday last year, I've taken a real liking to sunny days and warmer weather-- which is great, because it now means I'm able to enjoy something about every season, even if it's not my favourite one (that award goes to autumn every time).

One thing I do love about the summer is the sense of freedom and opportunity it brings. Rather than having to find things to do in your downtime that's focused on staying warm and cozy like in the winter, you can go out and do so many more things, without low temperatures or insufficient daylight being a restriction to getting the most out of the entire day.

Here's a list of fun summery ideas you can take part in while donning the frills! I have tried to include ideas to suit all kinds of personalities, and focused on activities that are free to do, or very affordable. Enjoy!

Arrange a picnic!
There is something so delightful about a nicely arranged picnic. Use cute picnic blankets, prepare an assortment of yummy treats, and carry all your picnic goods in a pretty woven basket. Set yourselves up in a nice shaded area, and you will be content and comfortable for hours of conversation. If you're organising a picnic for a community full of people who don't know one another too well, play simple icebreaker games and team games to get people talking and laughing together.

Invite friends over for a garden party!
What could be more fun than relaxing in the garden with assorted ice-cold fruit drinks, served up in pretty glasses or jars with straws. You could try out fun garden games, too, such as pin the bow on the lolita, Twister, bandminton, or something tabletop-focused, such as card games or board games. I would love to play Lolitopoly at some point! Prepare your own treats for your guests (or merely purchase some! It's not cheating, I promise!), and ask them to bring a dish of food to share, too. Burn a citronella candle to keep the flies away. Garden gatherings are a great idea if you wish to stay in your home environment, or perhaps need to for health reasons, but still want to make the most of summer and socialise with those closest to you.

Go for a walk!
There are so many places to explore. Perhaps you live close to a river, woodland area, or even the beach. Taking a gentle stroll in lolita is always fun (weather permitting!) Explore any national parks or notable countryside locations you may have access to. Perhaps you're in a very urban city environment, in which case, you can still pass a pleasant hour wandering about the high street or shopping mall. Our local landscape may not always be picturesque, but we can still take a sense of wonder with us wherever we go. And besides, remember those old school street snaps of lolitas on Harajuku bridge? There's really nothing more lifestyle lolita than loitering in the middle of your city in a frilly dress! It's a street fashion after all!

Visit a local flower show or botanic garden!
There are some truly gorgeous flowers in bloom in the summer months, and they make a glorious backdrop to a relaxing day out, as well as lolita outfit pictures! They may even provide some inspiration for flowers you might want to grow yourself, or you may discover your new favourite flower. You could try putting together a themed coordinate, either going for one of your favourite floral pieces, or trying out a country lolita look, complete with a gingham dress or boater hat. These environments are wonderful for artistic photo-taking and letting your imagination run wild (truly, these places do seem as though they house all manner of fairies and magickal creatures). Here's a post I made the last time I visited a botanic garden, where I took some of the photographs I'm most proud of.

Go to local funfairs, craft markets and events!
Fairgrounds truly evoke memories of carefree, idyllic summer days. Put on one of your less dear coordinates (perhaps cheap secondhand brand or Bodyline) and have fun on different rides. I've always favoured bumper cars and the Waltzer! If you're not into rides, there's still usually so much to see and do, whether it be the hall of mirrors, or one of the many stalls where you can try to win a novelty item. Try to get fun, pretty snapshots in front of the carousel, and indulge in all manner of fairgound treats like candy floss and toffee apples! Check out any local craft fairs, which are fun to browse on pleasant sunny days. Find out more about the kinds of events that are held locally, and see if any of them interest you. Who knows what you might find, and end up taking part in?

Too hot outdoors in your climate? Stay in and get creative!
Throw on your most lightweight jumperskirt, and watch lighthearted summer-themed films or YouTube videos, while doing activities such as crafting or flower pressing. For something a bit more involved and food-related, don a frilly apron and and get some ingredients out! Eat refreshing, home-prepared salads with an array of colourful vegetables arranged in aesthetically pleasing ways (looking up Japanese bento images and recipes are very inspiring where this is concerned). You could have a go at mixing colourful cocktails or mocktails, or try your hand at preparing fruity desserts! Try out berry cheesecake recipes, or have a go at making your own ice-lollies or ice-cream! The possibilities are endless, and these are all fun things to do either alone, or with company.

Catch up on some reading!
Now is the perfect time to lounge around with a book. Head to your local library and take your time browsing the shelves. Check out your favourite bookshops and see if anything new catches your eye. Head to secondhand shops or charity shops and see if there are any bargains or unexpected rarities to be had. Treat yourself to a lifestyle magazine to flip through at your leisure, be it a Gothic and Lolita Bible (the series of English language ones are my absolute favourite), something cooking-themed, sewing-related, gardening-focused, or pop-culture influenced... whatever it is you're into! Have some books sat around that you never got a chance to read? Make it your goal to read at least one of them this summer! Read in a hammock, a reclining garden chair, on the train, at a cafΓ©, or simply in your living space with a fan blaring, and unobtrusive music of your choice playing for atmosphere and background noise if you need it.

I hope you liked these ideas! I would love for you to leave any more suggestions you might have in the comments! What activities do you like to do when warm weather comes?

Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you next time 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Fast Food and Fun Frolics

On Saturday, I met up with my friends in the hopes of checking out this local "beach" that had been set up right by the train station. It was a really hot day, so the idea of hanging out by a tacky, makeshift seaside was actually quite appealing. Despite the very enticing wording of the online advertising, the real life beach scene wasn't quite up to par, somehow.

"The Beach" was even more budget than expected, with an underwhelming dusting of sand on a green mat, and a load of fairground stall vendors looking thoroughly depressed as nobody bought anything. I sure know that feeling.

I think my favourite thing about The Beach was the picturesque views one could find, such as this charming multi-storey car park. Truly, I felt like I was in tropical paradise.

After surveying the scene with much incredulity, we headed into the town centre. Initially, we'd wanted to go for a meal in Nando's but of course, whenever the weather is really good in England, it means that all the restaurants are totally packed with people. I suppose the sunshine causes people to want to head into town and have a day out. We checked out both branches of the chicken-focused chain, and both seemed full to the brim. There were the odd seats available, but I know better than to go for a meal in a busy restaurant, seeing as the quality of the food tends to suffer as a result of it. On a whim, I said "Should we just go to McDonald's?" and everyone was very much up for the idea. So we headed for the golden arches and got ourselves some food.

We headed over to the grassy area next to the abbey ruins we'd taken  pictures next to the last time we met up, and enjoyed a pleasant fast food picnic together.

I got a burger, drink, and most importantly, a McFlurry. It was pure bliss on such a hot day.

We were celebrating Luna's birthday, which happened a couple of days prior, so presents were exchanged. I gave her a pair of pink bloomers from my brand, and Sammi gave her a hand embroidered budgie brooch.

Since getting her pet budgies, she has been positive bird-mad lately and it's really adorable to witness.

I also gave Luna a pack of perfume samples, and a travel perfume atomiser. The samples were fun to try out for the most part, except for one which I had tried in the past and had a really bad experience with. "Be careful with that one," I said, "It smells really terrible-- on me, at least." 
In the end, I managed to convince Sammi to try out the perfume. She sprayed a hearty spritz on her arm and all was seemingly all right for a split second-- until the heart notes of the perfume played out on her skin. Her reaction was priceless. "Urghh!!! This is so bad!!!" She then attempted to get rid of the smell by pouring hand sanitizer on it. This did not work.
"Great-- now I smell of hand gel and death."

I'm going to have to heartily disagree with the romantic description of the scent. It's interesting because the perfume doesn't smell particularly lethal by itself, but once it comes into contact with skin, it turns into, well, death. I've searched for reviews of this perfume and so many people really love it. It's funny just how differently we each react to smells, tastes, etc.

After finishing our lunch and chatting for a few hours, we decided to take a quick group photo.

A not so lolita day, for once. Apart from the birthday girl, who put together a super cute, casual sailor lolita outfit.

I figured I'd be cooler and more comfortable in what I was wearing but honestly, I ended up sweating a lot in the heat. it was only later in the day that I remembered I wore that same outfit in Paris last July during a heatwave, and felt hotter in it than I did in lolita! Why must I repeat my silly mistakes!?

I really liked the look Sammi went for on this day, and couldn't help taking a few candids of her wandering around. She reminded me of someone out of a period drama. I'm not sure which period but she looked quaint either way.

We ended up going around the shops for a little bit, including The Body Shop. We also stopped off in Paperchase, so I could finally purchase something from the Purr Maids collection! I was in the mood to treat myself to something cheerful, seeing as two days prior I did the seemingly impossible and passed my driving test! Learning to drive was one of the most stressful, soul-destroying things I've ever done, and it took me four attempts to pass the test. I've taken many exams in my life, some of them real stinkers that had me fretting and tossing and turning the night before. But passing my driving test has been, without question, the most difficult one of them all, given how many external factors can affect you in the forty-or-so minutes you're sat behind the wheel, rendering "revision" kind of pointless past a certain point. Last Thursday, however, everything seem to come together into one big bubble of good fortune. The roads were clear, visibility was perfect, the route I was instructed to navigate was beyond straightforward... really, it couldn't have been better! Thank goodness it's finally over!

I ended up going for this cup, which is so much fun. It has floating glitter, sea shells and flowers, along with lots of happy cat-mermaids. Everything about it inspires positive feelings and carefree thoughts. I am in love. 

We ended up going to the pub to nibble on some chips and have our usual ridiculous conversations. As the evening wore on, I suddenly had this urge for more McDonald's. We all ended up going back and getting ourselves Happy Meals to round off our day of pure unhealthiness. I blame the heat.

Are you experiencing a heatwave where you are? Things have actually cooled down significantly (the week of Hyper Japan had highs of 34°C!) but we've truly been having a proper summer! Do you ever find yourself having a day when all you want is crappy food? Bought any fun miscellaneous items recently? Any cool things happened to you this past week? Tell me of your lives in the comments! See you next time 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

My First Convention Vendor Experience!

Last weekend was Hyper Japan Festival 2016. The months leading up to it were filled with anxiety, nerves and often stress as I tried to get myself organised in time for the big weekend. 

Things kicked off on Thursday 14th July. That morning I got up early, double checked to make sure I had everything I needed and set off in a taxi to the train station. I traveled into London where my partner met me to help me with my luggage, and we then went to our Airbnb. The flat we picked was cozy enough, though the mattress was very hard and not the most comfortable thing in the world to sleep on, plus the bathtub was incredibly grimy. I scrubbed it with bathroom cleaner I found, but this wasn't very effective. The limescale and general dirt was so caked on it would have needed a really heavy duty cleaning agent and a tough scouring pad. We just had to suck it up and remind ourselves that the accommodation was so much cheaper and more conveniently located than most of what we'd seen beforehand.

We then had a very long walk to the Olympia, the venue for the convention, punctuated by Google Maps consultations, and awkward heavy suitcase handling. It was the beginning of a heatwave, so we were sweaty and already pretty exhausted by the time we arrived to set up my stall, which was located up on the gallery level overlooking the main floor space. It took us around two hours to get everything together. Our walk back to the flat was a very painful one as we were both pretty dead on our feet at this point. We also had to pick up groceries so we would have food and drink sorted out for us for that evening and the following day. We didn't get the greatest of sleeps that night, but were more or less ready to go in the morning for Hyper Japan Day One.

My coordinates for the weekend were pretty casual, seeing as I had really limited packing space, and because I knew I would be spending long hours at the convention. Pup in a Cup served as a nice comfy dress for day one.

 A general overview of my table. There's hair bows, earrings, and canotiers. I ended up having to stick a "please take one" sign on the business cards because people were so hesitant otherwise, some even asking "is it OK if I have one?" Yes it is. It's kind of the point. Bless.

I was really happy with the way my beret display turned out! Leading up to the event I really struggled to come up with a way to show them off effectively but this set up seemed to work well. 

That first day did not go well. Sales were absolutely dismal, and I noticed a lot of vendors packing up early and leaving before closing time because of how poorly the day had gone for them. It was pretty hard to keep the morale going when the stall next to me was run by convention veterans who were always mobbed with customers oohing and aahing over their wares before dropping the cash. Watching them at work was basically a masterclass in vending. I can only hope I reach their level one day because it was impressive to witness. In the meantime, we were dealing with all manner of bizarre people who didn't buy anything, one of whom stormed away from my stall saying "WELL THAT'S NOT GOTHIC!!!" Um. I wasn't aware I was trying to be, or that Hyper Japan was a goth event but OK.

So, we headed back to our Airbnb feeling thoroughly depressed, and wanting nothing more than to wolf down one of the supermarket ready meals we'd gotten, shower, and to go to bed. 

We woke up feeling pretty refreshed for day two. I kept saying things like "today will be better" and even "let's do this", because I was determined to have a good day. Saturday 16th July was the day for Hyper Japan's two session system, which essentially meant two days squeezed into one. As a result, we worked from 9am until 9pm. Somehow, it felt even longer than it sounds.

Me and my stall on day two! I went for an outfit consisting mainly of items I'd made myself, which included the hair bow on my head, the one I'm wearing as a bow tie, the skirt, and the bloomers which you can't see.

Saturday was a really social day, and lots of friends came to see me. I'm sad that I completely forgot to get pictures with them but oh well. Their interactions helped to make the time go faster, as did my chats with the owners of other stalls. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hot during the peak times of the event. 

The roof of the Olympia looks absolutely stunning of course, but it effectively turns the place into a greenhouse. It was also very noisy that day, and a lot of the performers were not my cup of tea at all, plus they made it very difficult for people to hear one another in conversation. One of the performer's music seemed to consist mainly of a depressing, overblown guitar solo that never seemed to end. At one point I went to stand at the balcony, overlooking the whole event, and things were far too atmospheric and miserable with the addition of that melancholia. I felt like I was in a really emotional drama.

My sales were a lot better than the day before, and I even got to use my PayPal card reader for the first time. One of my customers actually bought two pairs of bloomers, which made me insanely happy! We were absolutely exhausted by the the time the day was over, and although we'd done better than the previous day, we still hadn't sold enough to feel content about the weekend. Still, one more day to go, we told ourselves.

Sunday was a more reasonable day with regards to the heat, but it was still pretty bad. I like to be prepared for everything so I actually had a battery-powered fan with me, which a few people eyed up jealously. 

Sunday really was the day of dancing. Throughout the whole weekend, the Yokai Watch music was playing on a loop at the big booth on the ground floor. All day, every day. For the first couple of days, I managed to tune it out, but on the Sunday, I found myself bobbing up and down to it because at this point, I just didn't care. This was also the second day that Charisma.com performed, this DJ-ing, rapping duo I found that I really enjoyed. During a quiet period I went downstairs to watch some of their performance and did the dance routine (which consisted of making a big triangle over your head with your arms and moving it from one side to the other) by myself, completely ignoring the "wtf" looks I was getting from a few of the more dour spectators. Other people, though, were really getting into the performance and raving it up! The atmosphere was really good, and I think that it would have been a really enjoyable event for me as a general attendee as there was actually quite a lot to see and do.

One of the convention organisers was going around with a list, detailing all the food orders made by the vendors. The food was on at a discounted rate for us, so we decided to indulge in this super yummy chicken and rice dish whose name escapes me. It was very tasty, and although we shared it between us it kept us going for hours. It was the only food we bought at the event but from what we could see, the food looked amazing, though it was pretty pricey. From what I could see, a lot of people go to the event just to look at all the "culture" stuff before hitting up the food court. Understandable.

One thing I didn't expect was how much of a "normie" event it would be. Sure, there were a lot of stereotypical weebs, a handful of J-fash people, and a fair number of cosplayers. But there were also a lot of middle-aged mainstream people, wandering around to basically point and laugh at how "strange" everything was. This happened a lot with my own stall, and I had a lot of 50-somethings cracking up over my bloomers for no apparent reason. They were so rude even though I was literally stood or sat right in front of them. I didn't let it get me down, though-- in literally any sales environment you have to deal with a few prats, and this was tame compared to some of the nonsense I experienced working in a high street store. Still, it made me wonder why they would have wanted to come to such an event in the first place. 

Sunday finally drew to a close. It was a day of chump change from people making very small purchases, but at least it wasn't as dire as day one. 
One of my neighbours for the weekend was Emily, who is the designer of Shinkurose! She was a pleasure to talk to over the weekend, and gave me lots of helpful tips and advice about the world of selling at conventions. I hope I'll see her at more events in the future!

The above picture is something of a rare sight as I literally never wear berets! My partner has insisted that they suit me but I'm really not so sure... I might wear them anyway because I think they are adorable (obviously, seeing as I make so many of them!) and it would be a shame to not partake in the cuteness because of a slight insecurity. On this day I went for a Baby tartan scallop dress-- super comfortable, old school, and flattering. I definitely need more of them!

To say that things went off without a hitch would be a lie. I didn't make a profit or even pay off the expensive table cost. But I did learn a hell of a lot about exhibiting at a convention, and I am hoping the knowledge gained will help me a lot in future. The general experience of Hyper Japan was actually very positive. I enjoyed my time there. I met a lot of really great people I wouldn't have otherwise, and really forced myself out of my comfort zone, which is something I absolutely needed. I've ended up with an urge to keep doing more!

So, that was my Hyper Japan Festival 2016 experience!
Do you like going to conventions? Have you ever sold or known someone who sold items at them before? How did it go for you or them? I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

🌷 A Rose-Scented Weekend 🌷

On Saturday I went on a little outing with the usual crew. We decided to change our itinerary up a little, as usually we find ourselves just sat in the pub all day.

The first stop was Boots, so Luna could pick up a bottle of YSL's Black Opium, which she had fallen in love with after she'd received a tester for it. I really loved the recent post she did about matching fragrances to outfits, and in the time since reading it have felt inspired to finally do what I had been putting off for ages and get myself a new perfume! I'd been wearing the same one on and off since my mid-teens, the rather out-there Youth Dew by EstΓ©e Lauder, and decided I needed something totally different to change things up, as that one was very influenced by the suggestions of someone else, as opposed to being a scent that felt very "me". Until this point, I mainly relied on using shower gels (particularly Molton Brown's, which I look forward to receiving from my mum every Christmas!) and bath products with scents I liked to get my fragrance kicks.

I decided I wanted to try something soft, floral, and gentle, as I'm rather into the smell of roses. Something about it feels calming and nostalgic somehow. With this in mind, I figured a rose perfume would be the perfect solution, and I'd heard good things about a particular one.

We went into The Body Shop so I could try out their new British Rose fragrance. I really liked it on the tester card, and decided to spray it on myself and see how it fared over the course of the day before making a decision. From the first spritz, I got a wave of super fresh top notes, which immediately began to settle into something pleasantly floral and rosy, and just a touch of sweetness. A promising start!

We had just emerged from the shopping centre when we were presented with the most bizarre scene-- a moving float of a woman, being pushed along by someone inside, and flanked by a girl holding a sign, and a woman wearing what I can only assume was an attempt at "mystical", stereotypical fortune-teller garb, and brandishing an umbrella.
We took pictures of the display and were about to leave when we found ourselves being addressed by the mystic lady, who complimented our outfits, and wanted us to take part in her interactive art installation. 
What happened next was totally bizarre. After explaining that the float was named Arabella in a terrible approximation of a French accent, she pulled out a small wooden box and instructed whoever was bravest to open it. Sammi opened the box, and inside was a safety pin and a key. We were instructed to take them, so Sammi took the key, and I the safety pin. The three of us were then ushered underneath the "skirt" of the moving sculpture. Inside was the man who had been pushing it along. He quickly ran out and around to the other side. Under the skirt was split into two compartments, with a small gap in between for someone's head to fit through. The man who'd darted out previously suddenly emerged on the other side of the space, with a sheer scarf draped over his head in what was obviously supposed to be a mysterious way.              

What followed was something akin to a strange confessional-- only, rather than sharing our sins with a priest, we were told to make a wish on the key, and pin it to the drapes to the right of us. While we completed this task, spooky dude took a picture of us. We thought it was all over, when we were suddenly told that we needed to take a cherry from the bucket on the floor before leaving.

After finally escaping the strange booth and trying to avoid people taking pictures of us on the outside of it (they seemed to think we were part of this spectacle) we disposed of our cherries and wandered off down the street, totally incredulous and laughing as we tried to figure out if we were awake or not.

Before heading into the pub, we crossed the road on a whim and found ourselves in a secluded riverside area just by the local historical abbey ruins, which were surrounded by locked gates. It's a shame they've been closed for so long as I really enjoy looking at these sorts of landmarks. Still, the area beyond it made a nice photo spot and we made the most of it, while battling against the ever changing weather.
The Abbey Ruins make for a really interesting touristic spot.

Luna went for Meta's Candy Star Rabbit, making her own royal blue star accessories to match it.

Sammi went for AP's Dreaming Macaron (one of my favourite prints!) and focused on bringing out the yellow.

I was really happy with the way my coordinate turned out! I think it's by far my best Alice's Ribbon Kingdom outfit so far, which I think is an achievement seeing as I have worn it so many times. I think bringing out the pink in it brought a new feeling to the dress, and I felt sweeter than usual wearing it!
Not even mine and James' combined efforts could get the framing on my Instax 210 to cooperate on this occasion... and yet I still really enjoy this photo. I love the slightly off colours, and huge contrast between us and the background, the vivid roses, and the lack of crispness that gives these pictures a dreamy quality. 

Our pub experience was disappointing. We each ordered burgers (the other three went for some kind of hog roast thing, and I went for a veggie burger) and they were all pretty terrible. I specifically asked for no mayonnaise and my burger came slathered with the stuff (which, notably, was an orangey colour), so I ended up not eating the buns at all, and leaving all the gooey lettuce behind. 
The patty itself was pretty awful. The centre oozed melted cheese which was OK, as were the beans that had been used to form the "meat", but the nacho coating of the burger made everything taste unnecessarily starchy. The side of coleslaw was quite frankly disgusting, and by this point I wasn't even in the mood for the chips, which I nibbled rather unenthusiastically. Definitely the worst pub meal I've ever ordered, which was unexpected as I've had pretty OK meals at this particular one before.
Thankfully, the chocolate fudge cake was reliably lovely, though I left a little behind as I was finding it too sickly towards the end, as I often do with chocolate things.

We broke our bar habit and instead went back into the shopping centre. We took a second trip to The Body Shop for my benefit, as I'd decided for certain that British Rose was for me, and treated myself to a bottle. After that, we wandered around the shops, eventually finding ourselves sat outside a CafΓ© Nero. We chatted and even at 8 o'clock, when we decided to head home, the sun was out and it was super bright outside. That's one thing I love about this time of year. The days feel so long and loaded with opportunity. I always miss that vitality in the dead of winter, when the sky starts to darken at 3pm. 

The following day was a lazy one, spent editing photos, and talking about this and that online with my friends and my partner, who totally wants to be in our gang. I was in a really wonderful mood, having resolved a misunderstanding with my friend the night before, and waking up with a newfound sense of hope about a personal situation that previously had me very worried. Sometimes, all you need to hear is that people are there for you-- not just when things are fun and perfect, but when they're serious and deep, too.
I couldn't help spritzing myself with my new perfume periodically to round off my lovely weekend, feeling rather cheerful and lost in my own soft, floral bubble. Both the sillage and longevity of this perfume aren't up to much, which is both a blessing and a curse. I dislike the feeling of overwhelm I get from a particularly heavy eau de parfum and personally hate when I'm out and about and my nostrils are assaulted by someone's excessively applied fragrance. I really don't want to be that person! Still, an eau de toilette requires constant re-applying, and while I enjoy the fresh blasts I get from these sessions, it does mean I will definitely get through this bottle very quickly, seeing as I'm using it more like a body spray. In terms of how it relates to my lolita lifestyle, I find that despite it not being what one might consider a "sweet" themed scent, its prettiness, romance, and femininity definitely add a dimension to that feeling of completeness when I put together an equally whimsical coordinate, and I think it matches my style perfectly. I think I will really enjoy wearing this perfume on days when I don't dress up, as it's an easy way of getting into that lolita mindset even during the most mundane occasions spent in comfy house clothes. I am thinking of trying the complementary British Rose shower gel next, to see if it adds some rose magic to my shower time, too!

I do feel as though perfume in general is something I could seriously get into as a hobby of sorts, and I totally blame Luna for re-igniting that flame, which has found me browsing perfume forums and watching perfume-related YouTube videos obsessively!

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! My finishing questions for you today are: Have you ever had any bizarre experiences like our wish-making session under Arabella's skirt!? Are you into perfumes and bath products? Do tell me your favourite ones! See you next time 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

♪♫ Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap ♫♪

Yesterday, I got my Cry Baby album in the post. 

I remember hearing about Melanie Martinez ages ago through the lolita community, because she'd been known to wear lolita clothing. I was surprised to find that I actually liked her music, even though her fan base is a little... intense (and surprisingly young, given the mature and gritty lyrical content of her work). I came across many criticisms about her aesthetic and the themes in her music, which many people believed to be sexualising towards children. I read various articles and interviews about Cry Baby, and found out that it was a concept album based very loosely around events in Melanie's childhood, with the titular Cry Baby character being a kind of alter-ego. With this context in mind, not only did the album make a lot more sense to me, but I found that I didn't interpret the content in the same way as the nay-sayers.

It's only recently I got round to listening to the album in its entirety, and I loved it. It's so depressing and haunting and magical, with lyrics which cleverly entwine metaphors so layered that at a first glance, you don't notice the consistently dark undercurrent of the songs. I was hooked, with "Soap" and "Training Wheels" being the standout tracks for me. Naturally, I decided to check out her web store and see which formats the album had been released on. When I saw that it came on vinyl, it was a no-brainer, really. I purchased the 12" through the Amazon Marketplace to save a few quid. 

 I've kind of got a thing for album covers and this one really does it for me.
 The album comes in a gatefold sleeve, and the artwork is so incredibly detailed. 

There's even more art, too, in the form of a storybook based on the concept album itself. I'm in love.

 I'm so reminded of a vintage nursery rhyme book of my childhood. The colours are stunning.

The artist is Chloe Tersigni, and her style has such a lolita vibe to it. Her instagram is definitely worth a peruse.

I also have a lot of love for the back cover. It reminds me a little of the back cover of one of my favourite albums, Jellyfish's Spilt Milk.

One thing I do find to be a glaring oversight, though, is that there isn't any lyrics booklet. I can't help thinking that the storybook should have had the lyrics printed in full, as opposed to the little summaries at the bottom of each page. Still, this is only a small qualm as it's very easy to find lyrics for songs online. The record comes with a code and a link to follow, which enables you to download a digital version of the album, too. I always love when this is offered, as it means that not only do you get a gorgeous physical copy, but you can also listen to it at your convenience or on the go. I'm one of those people who still uses an iPod, so Cry Baby went straight onto it.

In summary, this is by far the most beautiful vinyl package I've ever bought. The artwork throughout is a delight to look at, and musically, it's quite a triumph. I get the impression that an awful lot of work went into producing all of this, and I'm particularly impressed (and vaguely depressed) to find out that Melanie is younger than me! I need to go and achieve some more things in life, methinks. 

This album was worth every penny and I absolutely recommend it! Go check out Cry Baby. It'll either not be your thing at all, or you'll fall madly in love with it like I did.

So... are any of my readers Melanie Martinez fans, too? Do any of you like to collect vinyl records? I'd love to hear about your music adventures in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I'll catch up with you next time 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Convention Prep & the Highs and Lows of International Lolita Day

I've not been feeling very inspired to write lately because I've not been in a great place mentally.

I've had that whole "numb" feeling going on for longer than I'd like. I sat and wrote and edited an entire post and never posted it because my heart just wasn't in it. I figured it would be better to leave a long gap in between posts, rather than to use some filler content I didn't feel strongly about. I'm feeling a little more enthused today, though, so I'm taking the moment of inspiration that presented itself to me, and running away with it in case it disappears again!

So, what's been going on lately? Same old, I guess. I've been working a lot on crafting lately, in preparation for my upcoming convention, Hyper Japan. I've even gotten a couple of commissions lately which has been really nice. My days have been spent at my sewing machine working on bloomers (often with Melanie Martinez playing in the background. Yep. I'm such a lolita stereotype), hand stitching accessories, gluing on hair clips, buying supplies, planning my table display... it's been a bizarre rush of all these little details which will hopefully come together in time.

It's been nice to have something to focus on and be passionate about. Still, I sometimes feel a little unsure of myself, and a little directionless. By focusing on this convention, and by extension, my brand, I suppose I've taken something of a risk. I chose not to renew my old work contract, or to pursue a regular 9-5, because for whatever reason, I really just wanted to give this a go. The money I saved from my last job has gone directly into my business. Maybe this convention will go terribly, and I'll go back to job hunting as soon as I return from the convention. But maybe it'll go really well, and I'll want to continue selling at events and fulfilling online orders. I can't possibly know just yet. All I know is that I don't want to have that recurring "what if?" going round in my head in the future, because I chose not to try while I had the chance. I'm trying to block out the negativity from people around me who think I'm merely lazy-- as though working from home actually means sitting around doing nothing all day. You'd have thought the fact my tiny bedroom is bursting with newly made stock (I am seriously running out of space right now) would indicate I've been busy doing something.

Just a little over a month to go, before I set off for the London Olympia to seek my fortune. My destiny awaits...

πŸ’   πŸ’   πŸ’

Saturday was pretty nice. I met up with my friends as usual. We decided to have a picnic to celebrate International Lolita Day. I went for a summery, retro-inspired coordinate based around my handmade cherry skirt. It was an overcast but really warm, and humid day. The weather is so deceptive in its looks.

It wasn't until after stocking up on supermarket foods that we discovered this huge food festival thing happening in the town centre. Luna and I took in the sight of sizzling food on a grill and let out wistful howls. We were so disappointed! 

Still, we managed to have a good time with our decidedly inferior stash, which included some rather chewy, gooey macarons. Aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for the photo-taking that occurred, but so painfully overpriced. The 50p pack of party rings turned out to be much more satisfying!

We accidentally settled ourselves down in what seemed to be a couple-zone that day. One young teenage couple was play-fighting constantly, having pretend arguments and running around after one another. Another couple looked like they were in their late thirties, and spent a few hours making out on a bench. The final couple looked like they were in their forties, and literally mounted one another a few times, giving one another massages and generally being really inappropriate considering it was a completely public park with children running around. We did our best to ignore them but it was tough going!

We ranted about life, had an impassioned conversation about a recent lolita scammer experience, and planned future outings. It was so good to catch up! I couldn't help feeling totally relaxed and content.

We finished our picnic by taking some photos together, as part of the gardens were in full bloom, and looked as though they'd be a nice backdrop. We were right!

Luna wore Lief's Gardenberries print. It's so detailed and intricate, and I love the elegant way she coordinated it.

 Sammi went for a cue and casual AP coordinate, which is definitely her specialty. I was so thrilled to see her wearing the wristcuffs I made her!

I always seem to be the only one without a hat!

Next, we headed off for drinks, where a friend of Luna and James, Will, eventually joined us for conversations that had us laughing for hours. We got on really well, and it seems I've met my match when it comes to over-sharing! Before we knew it, it was 9pm, and Sammi was due to start work at 4 in the morning (she is so hardcore). We made a hasty exit.

I went to bed fairly early that night (after crying for a while because I'd lost my front door keys), but woke up a few hours later, really nauseated and with stomach cramps. I had a fever, and my pyjamas were drenched in sweat. I spent the early hours of the morning alternating between clenching my hands and toes in bed in an attempt to deal with how awful I felt, and the bathroom. I seemed to have food poisoning. What a miserable end to what had been a lovely day. I couldn't help feeling utterly dejected. 

I checked in with my friends at a more social hour and they all seemed to be fine. They suggested it could be the alcohol I drank, as I've had weird reactions to certain drinks in the past (for example, I cannot drink cider as it causes my heart to feel like it's going to beat its way out of my chest). On this occasion, I did notice that my face felt uncomfortably hot while I drank my cocktails. I've done some reading online and apparently, alcohol can aggravate intolerance to food, plus you can be intolerant to alcohol itself. I suppose it could have been the combination of cocktails and "ready to eat" picnic foods from the supermarket that caused me to get so ill. Either way, I'm not going to risk it again, and am just going to go back to teetotal life because honestly, I don't enjoy drinking enough to bother trying to find some sort of workaround. #straightedge #sobriety #highonlife etc etc.

Thankfully, I've been feeling a lot better today, and am more or less back to eating normally now. I've been taking it easy, editing photos (which I find really therapeutic), and catching up with general social media stuff, plus blogging, of course. Maybe my next outing will pass without incident!

πŸ’   πŸ’   πŸ’

As a bonus, here's a proper outfit picture, with me in all my squinty glory.
So, did you do anything for International Lolita Day? I'd love to hear about what you've been up to lately! Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you next time!