Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lolita Sewing: Weirdest Materials (and Designs)

"For those of you who sew your own clothing, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever made a lolita garment out of? Old bedsheets? Discount fabric with Elvis’ face printed all over it?"

I don’t so much use weird materials as have weird designs. The weirdest materials I have used to date would probably be a tie between:

Cheap Pewter Taffeta (weird because taffeta is a train wreck waiting to happen). To make a skirt/bolero set themed off my first car:


A free t-shirt from Comic Con International, used as part of a skirt. Not the weirdest thing to use it as an applique but I haven’t seen it done in lolita. Also my Tron "User" skirt since I've never seen any other loli use reflective elements (or chicken wire print fabric died so the print is hard to notice) before, lol! Still working on all the stitching on the Green Hornet skirt but I have worn the User skirt out:

As you can see, I'm a bit weird. Eventually I'll make the outfit in my layout but since I won't be going to the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca this year (the same weekend as Comic Con, WHY?!) it is low on the list.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not So Make-up Monday: Halloween by J. Del Pozo Eau de Toillete

This was my everyday perfume for a while, before I found Ruban d'Orange, but Halloween by J. Del Pozo is much more flowery than my current favorite

It is more purple when it is fresh, this bottle is a few years old so it has yellowed over time. It still smells near enough though. This is a very flowery perfume but what drew me was a hint of forest after rain smell. It is flowery but in a way that doesn't smell like a childish perfume.

It isn't my favorite, but I don't hate it either. It just isn't for me.

Price: $35
Size: 3.4 oz
Packaging: 5/5
It is a very pretty bottle, probably one of the reasons I've still kept it since I'm not the biggest fan of the scent.
Quality: 4/5
Not bad, it lasts maybe half the day but that is average. Just too floral for my taste.
Value: 3/5
Meh, for $35 I expect more than a kind of forgetable scent.
Overall: 4/5
It is fine enough, just not for me. Would be good for an OTT sweet lolita since it is very girly and floral scent.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Loli Food: Fish Fingers and Custard

This is a favorite in the Doctor Who fandom but any lolita who has visited a potluck knows that figuring out something to bring that isn't crammed with sugar is difficult. Fish fingers (or fish sticks to those of us in the States) are yummy and fun and for a lolita dinner party fish fingers, a seasonal salad and custard is a simple yet wonderful menu.

If we were being true to Doctor Who these would be fresh from the freezer pouch fish sticks and box mix custard but I like cooking and these are two of my favorite recipes.

You'll want to start the custard first, it takes anywhere from twenty minutes (for mini custards) to two hours (if you misplace a custard dish and make three very full custards like I did) to cook. In my cookbook this is listed as Roman custard.

2 cups milk, skalded
1/2 cup honey
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

First up is to turn on your oven to 325F and then to skald your milk and honey. I've heard that if you're using pasturized milk you can skip this step but I still do it since it is the best way to melt the honey into the milk evenly. Turn off the heat.

Beat the eggs.

Add in your milk/honey. I like to add in a little at a time to ensure it doesn't partially cook the eggs. Once that is stirred in add the salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pour into custard dishes and place the custard dishes in a baking pan filled with water. The water keeps the custards from drying out while baking. Start out baking for 45 minutes then check them by sticking a knife in the center of one. Once the knife comes out clean they have baked long enough. Set aside the custards, directly from the oven they are napalm hot but by the time you've finished your fish fingers they should only be warm. This is a custard that can be enjoyed both warm and cold.
Once those are in the oven then start on your fish fingers.

Cut the fish of your choice into thin strips

Prepare your breading. I used powdered mashed potatoes and I like pairing the garlic potatoes with a few dashes of Mediterreanian seasoning.

Proper dredging technique: roll the fish in dry mix then roll them in regularly mixed potatoes then rolled in the dry taters again. Once that is done, put a fry pan on the stove and warm up some oil, I use olive oil.

Once the oil is good and hot start putting the little guys in. Roll them in the oil and then move them out of the oil so they crisp up.

Once you've got them all cooked up, set them aside on a baking tray so when all of them are done you can pop them into the oven after the custards to broil them so they are warm and toasty to serve.

And then you have fish fingers and custards! :D

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lolita Lifestyle

"What is the "Lolita lifestyle"? Is it real or imagined? Does your idea of such a lifestyle differ from the ideas of others? Do you, or would you like to, adhere to this lifestyle?"

I fully believe there is a "Lolita lifestyle". People may make fun of the idea of a girl who is very polite and loves the ballet and tea and sweets and doing traditionally feminine and refined things and who loves lolita but I’m not sure why that is the case. I think it might be that some lolitas feel like people are saying they are less of a lolita because they do not fit into that subset of lolita.

But lifestyle lolitas are not any more lolita than people who are not lifestylers. They are just a different type of lolita. Lifestylers versus non-Lifestylers is like Classical versus Sweet or Casual versus Gothic. We’re all lolitas and have something awesome in common.

I personally love the lolita lifestyle though I’m not much of a lifestyler. My love of motorcycle and auto racing (and enjoying being part of a pit crew) is distinctly not lolita because of how much time is spent kneeling and sitting on concrete which gets oily and dusty and gets my hands dirty and how sweaty you get wearing all the safety gear when you are a driver. I still always dress nice, often wearing loli blouses when doing pit stuff but I’ll wear jeans too and since I have to wear gloves I wear pretty, thick leather gloves that are feminine but also are safe to work in. If I’m autocrossing then I keep a pretty Bodyline jsk or an overblouse (since I wear a cap sleeve tee under my firesuit) and skirt I can switch into easily between rounds. I also like to make yummy things for the crew, like finger sandwiches and small cookies which are easy to pop into your mouth and travel easily, I embroider my own gear bags and keep a book to read or my embroidery hoop around for those times when I am waiting around doing nothing. I love the dream of the lifestyle, like Momoko, but understand I can’t live it exactly but I can live it in my way. And if people don’t want to live it that is fine, if I like them as a person I’m not going to care that much.

As I was writing this one of the people on the tv went on a rant about how women who are housewives and want to be housewives aren’t feminists and are the enemy of feminists. Feminism is about having the right to choose what you want to be. Lolita is about wearing pretty dresses and enjoying the fashion with other people. If a person really has that much of a problem what a person does while in their lolita then it is their problem and their problem shouldn’t become a problem for others unless other people want it to be. That being said I still think people shouldn’t be walking around being terrible people. I mean if you’re going to run around killing people in lolita or make us look like a bunch of rude, mean and/or incredibly stupid people then can you at least not give our fashion a bad name?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Make-up Monday: My Favorite Lipstick While Growing Up

Growing up, I used to love looking through my mom's Body Shop catalogs. Everything looked so pretty! My dad would sometimes commute to an office that was right near a mall with a Body Shop store and so he'd buy me things (he knew he couldn't go wrong with anything from the Satsuma line) every so often. One Christmas sometime in middle school he got me two of the trial lipstick sets, one called Fire Cracker was okay but it was all gold and brown tones which I had no idea how to use. The other was called Ice Queen and came with a lavender, a white, a light pink and a dark red. To this day, I am forever in search of another tube of the red which is called Loganberry.

The pink was a great everyday kind of color, perfect for me since I got to wear lipstick without it really being a hassle. The white and lavender were a little more difficult though the lavender came in handy when I did a Faust VIII costume. The red, I've been in love with since day one. It is a deep, wine kind of red but it is not overly blue and it is not orangey in its redness.

As you can see the closest I've gotten is Rimmel's True Vintage lipstick though it isn't quite as dark. I keep hoping one day Body Shop will pull Loganberry out of the vault. I'd buy three.

Just like if I ever see the Rimmel Kiss & Stay in All Night Flirt again I'll be getting another one. It isn't Loganberry but it is pretty none the less.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lolita and the Weather: I don't care about temp just no rain or snow!

"Which season tends to be more conductive to your preferred style: Summer or Winter? In the opposite season, does your style change, or do you wear the same things and try to bear the cold/heat?"

I find spring and fall are my favorite lolita times but if I have to choose one of the extremes then I have to choose winter. I can wear a pair of riding boots so I don’t slip on the ice and wear a coat over my outfit until I get where I am going. Summer where I live is always really hot because of my dislike for snowy winters. Once you get over 90 oF then wearing full on lolita gets hot. You sweat more which wears out your clothes faster.

My style definitely changes in the summer, in winter I always wear a blouse under my jsks and sometimes I wear long sleeve ones. I also wear thicker bloomers and always a petticoat. In summer I almost never wear a blouse (unless I will be outside for a long time since I don’t need to burn my shoulders yet again) and I tend to wear very thin cotton bloomers. But petticoats have a habit of not getting worn unless it is a special event or meet up. Organza in the heat gets ITCHY! But to counter the lack of poof I make my summer bloomers VERY poofy. My favorite way to make skirt supporting but cool bloomers is to use thin white eyelet. The fabric is thin and the holes help keep air moving. If I’m wearing a skirt then I have two very thin, light blouses which help keep me cool.

The other main difference between is that in winter I will do full face make-up and sometimes wear wigs and hats but in summer I cut the foundation and mix primer into my lotion and just powder my face (but still do lipstick/gloss and full eye make-up). I occasionally wear wigs in the summer but they are without fail short. If it is super hot out I like the air on my neck.

But the biggest thorn in my side is never the temp (I’ve dealt with 127F in pants and long sleeves when I worked at the National Park), my biggest weather gripe is stuff coming from the sky. Rain, snow, ash, hail, if it is coming down from the sky it is making a very good argument for me to not wear loli. I want to be happy while wearing lolita, not uncomfortable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make-Up Monday: Yay Mail from Morgana Cryptoria!

This order started out as the mutant lovechild of reading lots of make-up blogs about good alternative make-up companies and reading the Snow story arc of Legends of the Dark Knight. I fell in love with the idea of doing a kind of frozen looking make-up look and for that I need the perfect very light blue lipstick. I didn't end up finding it at MC but I did get lovely things. :)

I bought this half because it made me think of Skyfire, one of my favorite Autobots who has an episode about him named this. :) The color is pretty but it is a little hard to get even coverage. The bottom lip is pretty much full tilt whereas the top lip is done fairly lightly. I'm thinking of mixing together some of this sample with a white lipstick I have to see if it might work.

Another of the ‘I need a blue for Nora’. I didn’t believe it would be as Superman blue spandex as everyone was saying but I was incredibly wrong. It is a fun bright blue metallic, one I like, but definitely not Nora. Again, the top lip is a very light application and the bottom is regularly applied.

The only one out of the batch I ordered which honestly disappoints me. I would love a good silver lipstick but this one is so stiff it makes application difficult and the color is streaky. It would be easier to apply if I had bought a full on tube and not a sample but I’m not happy enough with it to drop the money on a chance it would be a bit easier.

The only full on tube I bought and I’m really glad I did. I’ve been trying to find a replacement for the purple Covergirl long wearing lip goo I got for my Riddler henchgirl costume since it does not play nice (gets somewhat flaky mid afternoon and the color won’t come off my lips for days even with scrubbing and make-up remover). I took a chance on it since the pictures looked more pink than I was wanting but it turns out it is almost a duplicate of the Covergirl purple except that it is prismatic blue. Think of that cool paint on cars that has metallic flecks and changes colors by angle. This is like that. It isn’t completely prismatic it just has a blue sheen over the purple which I really do love. I’m honestly tempted to start wearing odd colors in daily life now.

It also is very comfortable to wear, unlike pretty much every other color don’t put lip balm on before this one (or use a very tiny amount and make sure your lips aren’t slick). The color is stronger and lip balm won’t collect under your bottom lip after a few hours. It also keeps your lips moist which I’ve never encountered in a lipstick before. I did a full 3/4 day test on this one and I never felt like putting on balm, I just had to touch up with lipstick after eating.

This goes on really easily and is a very cute golden brass/orange combo. It'll be fun for OTT fall coords.

Where 24k Pumpkin is a golden tone this is pretty much a full on metallic copper. It is pretty and applies just as easily as 24k and is another I'll be happy to have for fall and/or steampunk.

This too applies easy and the color is phenominal in terms of blending together and being strong. It is way more brown than gilded unlike the stock pictures show. I think it might have something to do with the light in my bathroom since the gold seems to be a prismatic effect which I think is the theme of the 2011 collection. I’m considering joining the lipstick club and getting the whole line up. >.>

It does give a prismatic gold sheen when applied very sparsely though which I like.

I had ordered a sample pod in my want to find a Nora Fries color but it didn’t ship. I think there must have been an error on the website since (when I looked at my invoice after noticing it wasn't in the envelope) I didn’t get charged for it and when I went back to order it says all sold out now. Oh well. If anyone has a sample they don’t want, let me know. I still want to try out the color.

Price: $1 for samples and $12 for a tube.
Packaging: 5/5
The both the tube and the sample pods are sturdy and look professional.
Quality: 4/5
As with most vegan lipsticks it isn't the best but for the colors offered it is great.
Value: 4/5
It is more expensive than the drugstore but there are $1 samples which let you try things out and it isn't the most pricey small label.
Overall: 4.33/5
Pretty good, I'll definitely consider buying again.

After all this I’m really pleased with my order but I'm thinking I’m going to try my hand at lipstick making now. All because I can’t find my perfect Nora. So, in the future I may be selling a sheer white that is prismatic blue (which may shift to purple) lipstick. Hah. Nora Fries, not just driving Victor crazy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lolitas and Etiquette -- Its not just for lifestylers

What do you think constitutes Lolita etiquette? How hard do you have to practice it before you’re good at it? In a perfect world, should everyone practice this etiquette, or just Lolitas and Aristocrats?
Here’s a hot topic. Etiquette is such a specific word, but I think we all get the gist here. I do think there are some etiquette standards that should be followed in general, but especially while in lolita. We’re an odd subculture, we’re easy to spot so if one of us makes a bad impression then we’re putting bad labels on the group to those who witness it. Yes there is a certain amount of "why care what others think" but if people think too badly of us then they can make things miserable for us. It doesn’t matter what you wear, OTT Sweet Lolita or just jeans and t-shirts, if people don’t like you then they don’t like you.

That being sad, this is more etiquette to be a good person that is especially important when in lolita. One of the most ita things to me is to be a really terrible person. You don’t have to be a prim and proper young lady but don’t be a dick.

1) Be polite
You can be dressed as gothic or punk as lolita gets but if you’re a polite person then people are probably going to be okay with you.
2) Don’t leave a mess
Just because you’re in a restaurant or shop and someone is paid to keep it tidy doesn’t mean you should be a pig.
3) Be patient
You’re drawing attention to yourself with a beautiful outfit. Don’t be mean when someone asks you about it (unless of course they call you a prostitute at which point they don’t need patience and politeness if you don’t want to spare it).
4) Say Please and Thank You
A subset of politeness but one that needs to be highlighted.
5) Be on time
This is just the most prominent example of "be respectful to others". Seriously. If you’re always running late it is annoying and incredibly disrespectful. If you’re late once in a while it is alright because sometimes things do happen and people will understand that.
6) Don’t groom in public
This is just one of those things. Scratching a zit off or adjusting your wig at the dinner table is gross. Reapplying lipstick or powder is rude at the table. It says "I don’t respect you enough to excuse myself."
7) Don’t chew with your mouth open.
So basic but come on. That’s just standard.

There are also some things which can be considered rude but have exceptions, like:
1) Having to answer your phone at the table/when it would be a disruption.
As long as you let the people you are with know that you may need to answer calls and then duck out when you have to take one it is okay. In this day and age some of us are on call for work or other very important obligations and we have to answer the phone. Try to make as little of a fuss as possible when leaving to take the call though.
2) Leaving early or joining late.
Just don’t make a fuss of it and make sure you’ve let the person organizing the meet up know ahead of time.
3) Eating in front of others when they are not eating.
Offer to share if you can or just do it as nonchalantly as possible. Most of us know that some people have to watch their blood sugar or have other needs like that, so just don’t make it an issue and the people around you will probably not make it an issue.
4) Chewing gum.
Pfft. Gum is not rude by itself. Gum is rude when you chomp on it and draw attention to it.
So, as it turns out there is a running theme to these. If, when you see someone doing something and think, "Man, that person is being an ass," don’t do it yourself.

What To Do In An Earthquake

With the news about the big earthquake in Japan and most of the English speakers visiting Japan who called into CNN/sent video not knowing what to do I thought I'd give some quick tips. Growing up pretty much on top of the San Andreas Fault, we had like an entire unit on this in school. This all applies to if you're in a building, if you aren't in a building just get out from under everything and away from big pieces of glass like bus shelters or windows. And keep an eye out to make sure nothing is falling towards you.

First and foremost, don't panic. You need to keep an eye out for things falling down. And it will be over in a minute or two.

Second, make sure you aren't standing near or under things. Shelves (including things on shelves) and picture frames hung on the wall with nails and not poster stickies are the number one danger to your safety. They are the most common things to fall and getting hit with things sucks. It is also a good idea to not stand under ceiling fans and chandeliers because they can sometimes fall down, especially in rougher earthquakes.

Third, take cover under something structurally strong and preferably on the edge of a room. My default is always a doorway since more often than not they are going to not be rickety and they are as far from the center of a room as possible. If you're in a place where there is a bunch of glass around the door(s) or has automatic doors or other people are occupying the door frame then look for a desk or some other sturdy looking piece of furniture that has built up sides (the side drawers on a desk for example) but not too much weight on top. Hiding under a bed would be bad, for example, because if the roof does collapse on you the little legs might collapse and then you have a bed AND a roof on top of you. Tables also aren't so good because they tend to have thin legs but it would be better than nothing or a bed. Avoiding the center of a room is good because that is where the roof would start to collapse, the walls support the edges most after all.

Fourth, once the earthquake is over make sure everyone is okay. If it was really bad then leave a note on the door (if you're at home) and go check around outside to see if anyone needs help. Take your emergency backpack and stay outside if you have any suspicion that the building you were in may be structurally compromised.

Now, there is also an important step if you live or are spending a prolonged amount of time (like an internship in Tokyo) in a tectonically active area. Be prepared. Have a backpack or a strong plastic storage box with a few simple things in it. If you're going to have to leave your home in a hurry it is better safe than sorry. If you have a bug out bag already (for those of you zombie apocalypse prepared lolitas) then you're fine. Just think about adding a pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of thick leather gloves to it. If you're just making an earthquake emergency pack then here's a quick and simple list:

-One or two unopened water bottles
-A box of granola bars or other long lasting ready to eat food
-A Jacket
-A pair of sturdy shoes (I always kept those next to my bag so I could just slip them on)
-A pair of thick leather gloves (work gloves are fine if you live somewhere warm but consider mechanic or other insulated gloves if you get snow/very cold)
-A spare set of clothes
-Photocopies (or originals) of all important docs like Social Security cards, passports, car titles, etc
-A spare set of keys to your house and cars
-Some cash.

You want to include the spare keys and cash (and a photocopy of a photo id) in case you can't get to your purse/keys. My purse and keys live next to my emergency bag but it would suck to not have those. And yes, everything in there is pretty much worse case scenario but this is like insurance. You don't want to and probably never will use it but you'll be thankful if you ever do.

I hope that helps anyone who is thinking of moving to Japan or anywhere else that gets earthquakes fairly regularly and I wish all Japanese lolitas and not lolitas alike good luck if they were effected by the earthquake or tsunami.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Make-up Monday: Morbid Makeup Eyeliner

This is something, whenever I go and get made up by the Chanel artist, I always get chastized for. My favorite eyeliner is Morbid Makeup Black Eye/Lip Liner.

I absolutely love it for one reason: It is soft and applies straight on without having to be softened and it goes on dark. I've tried a number of pencil eyeliners, eye makeup is something I've worn everyday since high school because it helps to fight the shrinking effect my glasses have on my eyes. One of the problems I have always had with pencil eyeliner though was that it was always difficult to apply, most need to be warmed up to glide on with any efficiency. Even the Chanel black eyeliner has that problem.

This one does not.

The only possible downside is that if you rub your eyes then you're going to rub some of it off but seeing as eye shadow rubs off like that I don't consider it a real problem. One pencil with seven day a week use lasts a little over six months for me and since it only costs about $2 it is a great deal for a product that works so well.

Price: $1.99
Packaging: 4.75/5
The pencil is very sturdy, the cap is metal instead of plastic so it can take a bit of a beating. It loses a quarter point for the skull and cross bones simply because it is a little embarassing for me. The silver and black packaging is otherwise quite nice with a netting kind of print on it.
Quality: 4.5/5
It goes on with few problems and lasts until the end of the day if you don't touch it. It is easy to rub off though which may be a problem for some people but is kind of a plus at the end of the day so it only loses a half point for that.
Value: 5/5
It is very inexpensive for an eyeliner right out of the gate but it is also a better eyeliner than most of the more expensive ones I have tried.
Overall: 4.75/5
It is an awesome eyeliner and one that is not only great for its price but just great.