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!