Tuesday, 25 October 2016

🍂 Autumn Updates and Joining the Cute Car Club! 🚗

Goodness, it's been a while. This past month or so brought with it unexpected challenges and events that threw my posting schedule out of whack. As per. 

I started a new job last month and honestly, work has been super draining for me. Not in an "I'm so busy all day and absolutely shattered by the time I get home!" sort of way. More of a "Work is so menial and bland and boring that I arrive home frustrated by lack of mental stimulation" kind of situation. 

I think the main problem is that I love learning too much. I have always been thirsty for gaining more knowledge, for self improvement, for continually expanding my horizons, for feeling like I've achieved something each day. I love helping people and I love creating positive change, even if only in a small way. I love being around intelligent, interesting people who push me to better myself and whose conversations inspire me. I have the complete opposite. As it is, I can more or less do my entire day's work in maybe 2 or 3 hours, and the rest of the time, it's tough going trying to stretch this out. I don't want to look back on my twenties and realise I did absolutely nothing of value with them because I spent them in some dead end job where day in and day out I listen to people who make casual racist, sexist, and homophobic comments, and whose worldviews are entirely built upon the tiny bubble they've never felt the need to venture beyond. So naturally, I'm constantly searching for new opportunities that will get me out of the wildly unsatisfying position I'm currently in.

There are positives to my current situation, though, like the financial stability I couldn't make happen quickly enough via my indie brand, and the experience I can now add to my CV. In addition, someone on my team really came through for me and on their own time fixed my laptop, which I'd spent the last week without because a Windows 10 update pushed it over the edge. It is sheer bliss to be able to get some writing done, and I wouldn't have been able to have that sorted out so quickly had I not made the connections I have here already. Gotta focus on that silver lining!

As expected, I am really enjoying autumn. One thing I have to say about my workplace is that it's set on the most beautiful campus, where so many trees are turning shades of yellow, gold, and scarlet red.
Autumn is the season when I feel most alive, and at my most witchy. I always find myself re-reading  or ordering books on witchcraft, planning Sabbat celebrations, and watching pagan YouTubers around this time of year because out of nowhere, I feel very spiritual again. When those gentle breezes blow their way through the colourful leaves on the trees, with the sunlight jangling down towards me, it always feels as though nature is whispering something comforting and beautiful, and I can't help but turn my face upwards and listen.

     ðŸš—     ðŸš—🚗

A really exciting change I've wanted to share for a while is that on the 1st of October, one of those big life events happened for me and I got my very first car!

My next door neighbour is an elderly lady who holds what I believe is a bridge night at her house with her pals every Tuesday. On one of these Tuesday evenings, an adorable mint green car turned up outside her house, ready for the bridge club to commence. I found out that this car was in fact a Fiat 500. I've never been much of a car person, aside from being an avid player of Test Drive 5 in my childhood (my car of choice was always a purple Plymouth Hemi Cuda) but this car in particular spoke to me as soon as I saw it. Somehow, there was something so lolita about it!

With the help of my dad, I managed to track down a 500 not too far a drive away from us, in really good condition, at a decent price, and low mileage. We set off super early that rainy Saturday morning and when we got to the car dealership, I was surprised by the fact the car was a warmer colour than it looked in the photos. But as soon as I sat in the car I knew it was the one.

And here it is. Mustard yellow and absolutely fantastic.

I may or may not have worn a yellow outfit in case the car at the dealership turned out to be a keeper. I'm glad I did!

Can we talk about how cute the trim of this car is!? I adore the cream steering wheel and yellow dashboard!

My first two weeks of being a proper driver weren't the best, I must admit. I suffered from the worst sort of car anxiety, that had me unable to eat breakfast in the mornings, and breathing heavily the entire time I was behind the wheel on my commute to and from work. On one particularly stressful morning I ended up having a panic attack and had to get the bus instead because I simply couldn't face being on the road. And then... something happened. I realised that so much of the pressure I was putting on myself was hardly about driving itself, but about the place I was going to-- my dreaded work environment. I got behind that wheel again after a few days break and I was ok. I took off my P plates/new driver magnets and drove with an unexpected feeling of calm. Since then, I've gotten to a stage where I actually quite enjoy my drive to and from work! The next challenges I want to set myself include some mini road trips, and eventually I'm going to conquer motorway driving!

I can't help feeling really proud of how far I've come in all this. This time last year I was absolutely convinced I would never pass my driving test, and that I just wasn't cut out for this whole driving thing. Now I feel this great sense of freedom, and every time my skills improve or I manage to do something I wasn't capable of before, I get so excited about it! I'm so happy to have what is essentially my dream car, and in a colour that is very odd and somehow very me!

Are any of you into cars? Do you drive? Do you think the Fiat 500 is as amazing as I do!? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you next time, hopefully without such a long break in between posts again! 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cake Crafting at a Café 🍓

I think we all have those days where we want nothing more than to get out of the house and escape the stresses of the working week. That's how I felt last Saturday. I woke up to a grey, miserable-looking day, and the sense that, despite the bleak outlook, I really needed to socialise. I mentioned in my previous post that I had a job interview on my birthday. I was most successful, and started at the job on the following Monday. Disappointingly, the days there were nothing like what I'd been led to believe and I couldn't help feeling rather glum after that first tedious, mind-numbing week. I'm one of those people who enjoys being busy and having a sense of, I don't know, purpose each day, and this new role I'm in really doesn't provide that. As far as stop-gaps go, it could be much worse, but regardless, I am already on the lookout for something more fulfilling where my skills aren't going to waste.

On a whim, I decided to go to a meet with the Otome Sewing Bee, a dressmaking and crafting J-fashion meetup group in London. The workshop for the day was felt cake crafting. I quickly grabbed a few of the felt pieces I had in my fabric stash and a couple pairs of scissors on top of my regular day-out necessities, and set off for Putney. 
I somehow managed to get lost while trying to find the Putney Pantry, the café where the meet was to take place, even though I was using Google Maps. The GPS arrow didn't quite seem to know which direction I was facing which threw me off a bit, and caused me to ignore my instincts and wind up down a slightly creepy alleyway. The accidental scenic route was not unwelcome in the end as I enjoyed my little riverside walk. 

Next, I ended up walking right past the café before doubling back on myself and seeing that it was set a little way back from the road. Through the panes of glass at the front I could see someone in an elegant, classic dress and I knew I'd come to the right place. 

Jessica, the organiser of the comm, soon set me up with some patterns and worksheets, and I was amazed by the spread of materials and supplies she'd prepared for everyone. It's been a while since I learnt any new crafts, and I was pretty excited to try out this one.

One of the pictures Jessica took (I took very few myself, which is most uncharacteristic, but I was rather engrossed in what I was doing! I have to make do with editing the colours of this lovely candid instead). I think this might have been a few seconds before my headdress fell off. I do love a rectangle headdress but if you don't keep an eye on them, they like to make escape attempts! As you can see, we had a huge selection of materials to work with, including a rainbow of embroidery threads.

As well as being a pleasant environment for crafting in J-fashion, with lots of super friendly customers asking polite questions and seeming very interested in what we were about, the Putney Pantry also had great food. My order was simple: a cup of loose leaf Earl Grey, and a fruit scone... but my goodness, it was delicious. It was without question the best scone I've ever eaten-- melt-in-your-mouth good! The accompanying clotted cream and jam were absolutely perfect. I spent much of the workshop savouring it!

The meet was only for three hours, and it wasn't until the final one that I realised I'd not really achieved much in the way of anything. At this point I picked up a needle and thread and began frantically trying to stitch together the felt pieces to cover the cylindrical foam I was using as the base of my cake. I tried to mimic the look of the model cake Jessica had made prior to the meet, and didn't seem to be quite getting the same effect when I came to making some felt frosting for the top. Somehow, though, I managed to turn things around and end up with something I actually rather liked!

Here's my cake! I went for a chocolate and strawberry theme. I can't help thinking these would be lovely as Christmas tree decorations, and would like to make some more in festive colours for this very purpose!

After seemingly no time at all, it was after 5 o'clock and the meet was drawing to a close. Before leaving, though, I made sure to get a picture with Reina, who ended up wearing an outfit that coordinated very well with mine!

It was so lovely to have a catch up with her, as we do not meet up very often and mainly find ourselves chatting in passing at large events. Interestingly enough, Reina was the first lolita I ever spoke to in person, back in 2011, which is so surreal to think of! 

Overall, I'm glad I took the initiative and went to a meet at the last minute. Perhaps I could use a bit more spontaneity in my life. I found the crafting to be quite therapeutic, and it was nice to have something specific to do in London. 

Have you done any crafting recently? Been to any nice cafés? I'd love to hear about it! Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to 🎂

Yesterday, I turned twenty-three. It feels a little surreal to be this age-- probably because so much of my life has been shared online and I distinctly remember having a blog and turning seventeen! This definitely isn't a "where did all those years go!?" moment because that time actually dragged rather a lot, but even so... twenty-three sounds awfully grown up.

My parents are currently away on holiday together, so I had to leave it to people outside of my family to feel those happy birthday vibes. On Saturday I met up with the usual suspects and we had a really fun day out together. It was the day of my homtown's Pride event, so there were many flags in varying rainbow stripes being waved around, lots of colourful outfits being worn, and much celebration and cheer.
I missed the parade as I ran late into town after a bit of a wardrobe crisis, but I saw the tail end of it as I arrived to meet my friends at the train station. 

We decided to try out a new restaurant called Bolan Thai, which is upstairs in a small, quiet shopping arcade. The staff were nice and the food we got was absolutely amazing. I was especially into the starters/side dishes of satays, and coconut rice, which was so rich and buttery and delightful!
The atmosphere was very relaxed, and even though the place wasn't empty, we felt very much at ease and like we had a fair amount of privacy at our table. They did not rush us to pay the bill or even seem bothered about how long we were sat there for which made such a lovely change from many of the other restaurants we've been to. I would definitely have food at this place again!

After eating our fill of some amazing food, we decided to head over to the Pride festival. It was a little disappointing in terms of content (mainly fairground rides blasting out music far too loudly, some stalls and one or two food vendors) but the LGBT talks on the main stage were interesting. I'd like to go to Pride another year specifically for the talks and joining groups etc, as it's not really a "browsing on a whim" sort of event.

After our walk around the festival, we decided to take some pictures by the river. From here we could hear a singer back at the festival taking to the stage to sing a very questionable rendition of "Teenage Dirtbag". It was distracting to say the least, but we got our pictures done, and not a moment too soon as it suddenly began to pour with rain. We rushed off to the train station, the location of a highly regarded dessert parlour. We each got ice creams and sat talking for a while, until I eventually said that the tension was killing me and I wanted to see what they'd bought me! 
I was gifted a macaron print umbrella, a lap throw, and a super soft and snuggly macaron cushion! I am super excited to have these items to brighten things up when the bad weather eventually comes. Look how lovely and vibrant that cushion is!

We went off in search of Starbucks in order to use up some drinks vouchers, but the pouring rain meant that the coffee shops were all full to bursting, so we gave up and made our way to the pub instead. We sat around having drinks, sharing a couple bowls of chips, all of us feeling tired after a long day! We decided to get a jug of water for our table and were instead presented with a single glass.
Naturally, we had to take the piss out of this moment.

All too soon it was time for us to head home!
🎂   🎂   🎂

The day of my actual birthday got off to a very early start as I had a job interview first thing that morning. I put on a simple suit (which included a black Bodyline blazer, haha) and set off for the long bus journey. I was interviewed by a panel of three people, then shown around the workplace. I got on with everyone pretty well and felt that I'd really given it my all.

Afterwards, I met up with my partner, grabbed a McDonald's Happy Meal (I was so hungry by this point as the interview started late, and then I got showed round for ages, then had to get my proof of ID documents copied... most of the morning gone!) and went home. My parents called me from Jamaica to wish me a happy birthday, and we chatted for about ten minutes about my job interview, how their holiday was going, and if I was OK with them getting me a t-shirt as a souvenir even though it wasn't really my style! (I told them I definitely want the t-shirt!) I changed out of my interview clothes and into a simple old school coordinate, before it was finally time to open my presents! Many of them were super cute old school accessories, two of which I had to wear immediately!  After that, the cake!
I hope it's not breaking the rules, but I actually made several wishes when I blew out the candles! I am already on my way to working towards some of my personal/life goals so hopefully I can make them come true!

We decided to head back into town for a wander around. Sadly, my birthday was mainly overcast and humid, so we were constantly feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. Still, we remained in good spirits, and enjoyed catching up after not having had the chance to since Hyper Japan.
We checked out a couple of record shops. Nothing caught my eye, but my partner found something they wanted at each one, so I decided to treat them as the prices were cheap. They joked with me that it's not customary for the birthday girl to buy other people presents!

After a little shopping, we decided to get some nice pictures of my outfit. 
This outfit is so basic but I can't help but love how I look every time I wear this jumperskirt!

I decided to pay the ice cream place another visit so we headed there next. I had the same as last time, a strawberry ice cream cone. We stayed chatting about current affairs and house prices (truly, I am aging) for a little while, had one last wander around the shops, and finally said our goodbyes.

I had such an amazing time celebrating my 23rd birthday, and it completely made up for last year where my birthday didn't get celebrated at all. At the time I convinced myself it was fine, but it wasn't. I deserve to feel happy and important on my birthday! This year, it was wonderful to get two different days out where I felt festive and loved, and I feel so much better for it. Here's to being twenty-three!

I'm going to end with what is, without question, my favourite Instax picture so far.
Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you next time! 

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 café, 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