Outfit Snap: Ring the Wedding Bells

Outfit Snap: Ring the Wedding Bells

Fancy Stairs

I really wanted to write about my wedding, as I was just married on Friday and I wore lolita, but unfortunately I can’t seem to get my thoughts in order~ It seems like as soon as I got back from my extremely short honeymoon (in which I took one day off of work) everything was ready to trample me! Between work and classes, I’ve been so exhausted that when I get home I just want to flop around like a lazy lazybones. I’m also preparing to speak about lolita fashion at the University of Chicago’s UChiCon this Saturday, January 30, 2010!

My wedding wasn’t an elaborate and fancy affair, but I wanted to dress as though it was one! I didn’t make the decision to wear lolita fashion lightly. I only plan on getting married once; I don’t plan on a “do over!” I didn’t want to look back on the pictures, which wouldn’t be professional anyway, and wish I had worn something else! Lolita fashion as been a passion of mine during times of so much happiness, so it means a lot to me. I put a lot of effort into picking the dress I would wear–I wanted it to be ~~special~~, not something that seemed like a normal part of my lolita wardrobe.

When I first saw Angelic Pretty‘s “Lacy Ballerina” jumperskirt in a shop blog post in April 2009, I fell in love! ♥ It was white and frothy, with lace, satin, AND pearls! The design strongly appealed to me–it seemed to draw elements from both a wedding dress and fancy lingerie~ However, it couldn’t have been released at a worse time–I had neither money nor quick means to acquire any, having just sold any “spare” possessions to pay university costs. When I told my person, he surprised me by revealing that he had been saving up for just such an occasion…and soon it was mine! Once it arrived, I hid it in the back of my closet; it was not for wearing on a regular basis.

After that, I slowly started accumulating more items to coordinate with that dress. A beautiful lacy choker with pearl strands and a golden heart pendant~ Then a pair of shoes–something slightly more mature than the bow-topped flats I usually wear with my outfits, although still with a lolita design. Everything built up gradually, whenever I had a bit of spending money and saw something suitable. When we finalized our plans, I didn’t have much time to get things together! I was lucky enough to find gloves at a local store, and I made the hairbow the night before our ceremony.

Pretty Dress, Silly Face

The hairbow was one of my favourite parts! I didn’t want a “head-eating” type of bow, but I needed something I could wear with my intended hairstyle of a high, curled ponytail. I don’t personally care for tiaras, although I’m sure one would look very nice with such a style of dress–it definitely would add a princessy touch! I tried to find a suitable bow, but without having the time to order something online I was at a disadvantage. I thought I could just make one myself, but I found out the night before that mysteriously most of my ribbons are gone! (I formerly had a LOT of ribbons…)

So I spent the evening on the floor, surrounded by various trims, trying to decide what to do. Luckily, I discovered another type of ribbon was made of a very wide white ribbon, so I carefully unstitched it…then ironed the ribbon in my hair straightener. XD Once I formed the bow, I stitched on some pearls–to mimic the style of the waist-bow of the jumperskirt. Then I stitched the bow to a hairclip and anchored it with hot glue; I didn’t want to take any chances. I’m not a very “crafty” person, but I rose to the challenge!

Looking back, I’m very satisfied with my choices! ♥ But of course, I’m happiest to be married to the most wonderful person ever!!!

Sweet Treats: Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs

Sweet Treats: Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs

Beard Papa's Chicago

Since I absolutely love dessert with every inch of my being, whenever I am in New York City I try my best to visit at least one new snack shop. I find there’s always some kind of new chain cropping up or some trend that hasn’t arrived in Chicago. It started when I read about Rice to Riches many years ago, and continued with Bouchon Bakery, Buttercup Bake Shop, and Pinkberry, among others. The last time I visited, my destination was Beard Papa’s, a cream puff franchise that originated in Japan. However… I never made it to the shop! ;_; It seemed that I would have to wait until I wound up back in NYC again…or miraculously somewhere in California near a location.

So I was ecstatic to hear about a Chicago location of Beard Papa’s! I first heard about it before the store had opened, and a recent mention in the Red Eye reminded me that it was now open~ It’s located in the new Block 37 shopping complex, directly across from the State Street Marshall Field’s, so I headed there the same day I read the note about the store!

The setup at the store is ingenious–to provide you with the freshest cream puff as possible, you choose the pastry and type of cream when you place your order, and then the custard is injected into the pastry only seconds before it is in your hands. This prevents the custard from soaking the pastry–it stays crisp and light. There are several options for both the pastry and the filling: original, eclair (chocolate-topped), cookie crunch, and I think fruit-topped (but I could be mistaken for this last one) for the pastry, and vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry for the custard. There are several other specialty custard flavors (including pumpkin, green tea, coffee, and earl grey), but they aren’t carried on a regular basis at the Chicago store.

The cream puff was delicious. The pastry was fresh (I even watched them take some out of the ovens while I ordered!) and the custard was smooth and creamy. I bought an eclair/strawberry cream puff to eat immediately, took home two original/vanilla and one eclair/chocolate to share with my person. ♥

The strawberry custard has chunks of fresh strawberries nestled in the cream. The flavor is 100% honest-to-goodness strawberry–not artificial-tasting in the slightest. The vanilla custard is smooth, with a clear vanilla-bean taste. The chocolate custard has fragmented pieces of chocolate in the rich chocolate cream. I couldn’t find fault with any of them! The original puff is definitely my favourite–the chocolate topping on the eclair pastry, although delicious, overwhelmed the cream. (My person and my friends agreed.)

I was also lucky enough to try the green tea custard when it was in the shop for two days~ ♥ It’s very, very good–I really look forward to tasting other “special” custard flavors. The green tea custard was mild and earthy, with small pieces of green tea leaves, and instead of powdered sugar the cream puff was dusted with matcha–powdered green tea. It was especially good in the original pastry! I bought a half-dozen so that I could share with my person and my friends.

Since I’m not really down the street from Beard Papa’s, and because they offer a discount for buying a half-dozen cream puffs, I like to get several and save them to eat days later. To save them, I tuck them into the freezer. Freezing the cream puffs preserves the integrity of the pastry and the cream; if you keep it in the refrigerator, the cream will make the pastry very soggy and rather unpleasant. When I want to eat one, I take it out of the freezer and let it slowly defrost for about 30 minutes. You can’t heat it up, or you’ll melt the custard! Previously-frozen cream puffs are still moister than fresh ones, but they’re definitely not bad!

I also really-really recommend the “mango milkberry!” It’s kinda like a bubble tea, but with small white tapioca beads instead of the traditionally-used black pearl type and fresh fruit! It’s a sweet, frozen smoothie-type drink with chunks of mango, strawberry, and the white tapoica, served with a massive straw so that you can drink the fruit~ ♥ Delicious!!

Charming Activities: 100 Questions Baton

Charming Activities: 100 Questions Baton

I had a hard time passing this up when I saw it posted on EGL. I have edited this baton (meme) from it’s original format, because I removed the Japanese text and adjusted the English text to flow more naturally than a direct translation. :3

1. Screen-name and date of birth, please tell us these~
          Alice (so much for a “screen-name…”) and July 21st~

2. Height, weight, clothing size, and shoe size?
          160cm, secret, 00/extra-small, and US5.

3. Why did you start to dress lolita?
          I love cute, sweet things very intensely, so when I saw sweet lolita I immediately wanted to wear it. This occured briefly after the unachievable yet intense desire to start buying ballet stage costumes and wearing them casually with non-stiff tutus…

4. Which style of lolita do you like?
          SWEET LOLITA! ♥

5. Express in your own words, the ideal of your above answer.
          Angelic Pretty advertisements circa 2007! _ Those really formulated my ideals. I’m not so much for the huge-wigs-print-print-print type of style that have right now, nor the older floral-and-ribbon-lacing influence. I think fondly on peter-pan collars edged in lace, bows topped with bows topped with other bows topped with ribbon bows, and designs that added interest with lace, bows, and pintucks–instead of relying solely on printed designs for interest. In terms of prints, I prefer “cameo”-style emblems to all-over fabric designs. I love tea party shoes and variations on tea party shoes; knee-length skirts and knee-high socks; detachable sleeves, detachable bows, detachable collars, and detachable cuffs; and adorable, but still somewhat natural, hairstyles adorned with headdresses or large bows.

6. Do you have piercings? Where?
          My ears are pierced twice. (I regret that second piercing to this day…) I rarely wear jewelry because I am incredibly allergic–even high-karat gold gives me a reaction. ;;

7. Which brands do you like?
          Angelic Pretty is my absolute favourite, but I also very much like BABY, the Stars Shine Bright. I carry a torch for some Cornet items, but that brand is so very hard to find. ~

8. Which are your favourite clothes (that you have)?
          My pink houndstooth Chocola-chan coat and matching earmuff-headdress. I always say I want to be buried in it–that isn’t a joke. I love it selfishly and don’t want anyone else to wear it when I’m dead!

9. How many lolita friends do you have?
          More than I can comfortably count~ I met the majority of my friends through the fashion.

10. What do you love most about lolita?
          I love being surrounded by frills, ruffles, laces, and bows–and generally looking like I was viciously attacked by a 1950s cake decorator.

11. What do you hate about it? Any pet peeves?
          I hate having to take the time to carefully wash and iron my clothing. I don’t hate it enough to run around looking like I’ve slept in my clothing and rolled around in the mud, but I resent the extra step of taking things to the dry cleaner and pressing out wrinkles.

12. What lolita magazines do you read?
          I read the English version of the Gothic & Lolita Bible. I like to look at the Japanese version and other magazines like Alice Deco, but because I cannot actually read them, I don’t purchase them.

13. Headdresses, bonnets or ribbons/hairbows?
          Headdresses AND hairbows! ♥

14. Do you wear bloomers?
          Always. Petticoats provide very unflattering angles, and I’ve seen the panties of more lolita girls than I ever intended to! (As I intended to see none.) I don’t want a stranger to see mine~

15. Do you tie headdresses at the front or in the back?
          In the back. I just cannot master the under-the-chin tying. Not only do I look ridiculous, it falls off my head!

16. Who is your favourite band/type of music?
          My current favourite band is Lamb of God. I ♥ heavy metal! m/

17. What is your phone ring tone~?
          My phone sounds like an old-fashioned rotary dial phone with actual bells. (I’ve always wanted one of those, but finding a refurbished one that is actually rotary-dial is too expensive for me! This was a good alternative.)

18. Do you go to concerts in lolita?
          No, but I want to! However, I’ve never been to a concert where some stranger didn’t spill at least one beer on me, and I like to mosh, so I don’t want to subject my $200 dresses to that kind of abuse. I’d be so upset if they were damaged~ ;_; I want to buy something inexpensive, but not tacky, to wear at some future concert, so I won’t cry if it is ruined.

19. For people who attend concerts: do you headbang there?
          Hellz yeah! m/ Why would you not headbang at a metal concert?!?

20. What colours do you like?
          I ♥ pink! Not neon pink or dark pink, but soft, sweet blush-pink. I prefer my pink without lavender undertones, as well. White is next up in terms of colors I like. (At least for lolita clothing–my “favourite color” is gray.)

21. What are your hobbies?
          I enjoy baking (and eating) pastries, writing letters, reading novels, doodling when the mood strikes me, and watching action movies! I own a doll, collect My Little Ponies, and have a long-standing infatuation with Sailor Moon.

22. If you have any favourite perfumes, please tell us.
          My favourite perfume (Body Shop’s “Moonflower”) was discontinued a long time ago! I haven’t found a replacement.

23. Is there anything you are careful of in lolita?
          I check before I sit down on the L or bus, and I hold my skirts close to me when I brush up against walls, in case they are dirty. I also don’t stand near people who smoke or places where smoking is allowed. My stepmother smokes, and when I visit it takes days to get the smell out! I pay attention to the terrain, because I know some of my shoes have very little traction; I don’t want to fall and scratch/tear/rip my clothes!

24. Do you have any favourite haunts to go to in lolita?
          I really like going to the Garfield Park Conservatory, because there is a woman there who is very friendly and likes to talk to me when I am dressed up. For the same reason, I enjoy buying groceries at Mitsuwa because there is a cashier who likes it when I wear lolita fashion–when I am in “normal” clothes he usually says that he is disappointed! XD
          Besides that, I like to go to tea at fancy hotels, explore tea shops, or go somewhere for dessert!

25. How many times a week do you dress lolita?
          Roughly 2 to 3, usually. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on my schedule.

26. Please tell us an embarrassing story from when you were a lolita beginner.
          At the first meetup I attended, I spent the entire time apologizing for not wearing lolita. I’m sure they all thought I was crazy!

27. What is your current hairstyle and colour?
          Mid-back, with blunt bangs; brown.

28. What is your lolita history?
          I became interested in it in 2005, and started wearing lolita fashion in 2006. I bought my first brand items in 2006, and I started collecting other lolita as “family members” in 2007~

29. Do you store your clothes in a special place?
          I keep a portion of my shared closet devoted my lolita clothing. I try to keep it as neat and pretty as possible.

30. Did you ever think about quitting lolita? What was the reason?
          I’ve considered quitting lolita fashion several times–usually because things are not going well in my life, I don’t have the extra money to spend, and overall I feel discouraged about everything. I think, “I’m not pretty enough to wear it,” “I don’t deserve nice things,” “It doesn’t suit me,” or “I’ve spent money like a fool,” and it makes me want to give up. When I do push myself to wear it, though, I feel much better. I haven’t ever actually quit; until wearing lolita fashion stops making me happy, I want to wear it!

31. What is your motto?
          “Go big or don’t go at all!”

32. What are your dreams of the future?
          Well, my dreams don’t really involve my clothing choices all that much. I’d like to get my CPA and a nice job, and live in a cozy apartment or condominium with my muffin~ ♥ Lolita-wise, I’d like a white usakumya bag and pink x pink Twinkle Mermaid jumperskirt. _

33. “This person is so perfect for lolita!” – Do you ever think that about certain celebrities?
          I don’t pay enough attention to celebrities, so no.

34. Are there any products/items of which you have with a fond memory?
          I have a pink dress from Angelic Pretty that is dear to me because my person bought it as a surprise when Angelic Pretty opened their English online store. I adore my pink and white Angelic Pretty parasol because it was a gift from my little sister, my white long-sleeved BABY the Stars Shine Bright blouse because it was a gift from my mother and stepfather, and my BABY the Stars Shine Bright bunny pochette, Mallow, because he was a gift from my father.

35. What was your first item?
          My very first item was a custom dress from In the Starlight. My first brand item was an Angelic Pretty dress, headdress, and pair of socks.

36. Do you have a signature pose for photos?
          Nope~ Looking stupid with crazed red eyes is, unfortunately, not a pose. ;;

37. What is your heart’s bible? [book/magazine/CD/etc…]
          “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery

38. What is the best height (cm) for heels?
          I prefer flat shoes.

39. Do you wear tiaras?

40. Do you think you want to try prince style? What kind of prince? Gothic/dark prince? Or “prince on a white horse” style?
          I’m not really interested in wearing prince style or any of the other boy-styles.

41. What types of lace do you like?
          I like most cotton lace, but I really-really like tulle lace with patterns! (The kind Angelic Pretty embroiders with cakes, deer, or other adorable motifs.)

42. Do you own a doll? Does owning it give you fun, childish feelings?
          I do own a doll–a Volks mini super dollfie “Nagisa in Preschool.” She definitely gives me fun, childish feelings~ (Although I haven’t dressed her in lolita fashion…yet.)

43. What is in your lolita bag?
          My cellphone, my house keyes, my bank card, my bus pass, my school & work IDs, my driver’s license, Smith’s Rosebud Salve, and my camera.

44. What is your favourite flower?
          Lilies of the valley~

45. Right now, what is your favourite accessory?
          I really like the look of white pearl and gold jewelry, especially bracelets or dangling earrings! I have a bracelet that I made in those colors, and it seems to match nearly all of my outfits.

46. Please recommend some cosmetics.
          I don’t wear a lot of cosmetics, because I have really severe skin allergies, but I do like Maybelline Great Lash mascara. It’s inexpensive and works very well–I like it more than some of the expensive brands I’ve tried. I also love Urban Decay eyeshadows~ I find myself captivated by their packaging–Too Faced, too. Everything seems so pretty!

47. With eye-tape your eyes look like a doll’s! What eyelashes will you wear?
          The eyelashes that came on my face! :3 Maybe a little bit of black mascara, but probably not.

48. What is your eye makeup for these eyelashes?
          Maybe some white eyeliner. I like white the best.

49. Red Lipstick? Blue? Black? Pink?
          I prefer pink lip gloss, but red lipstick…although I never, ever wear it. I guess I just like having it around!

50. Which nail polish do you normally choose?
          I love nail polish because I am not allergic to it. (Thank you, nails, for being dead cells!!) I usually wear pink~ A friend once raided my bathroom cabinet because she had chipped her nails after getting them done at the salon…and she knew I’d have almost every shade of pink there is! Even though it wasn’t the same kind the salon used, we found the exact same colour to touch it up with.

51. Have you ever changed in a train station bathroom?
          Yes. I don’t plan to do it again.

52. What do you think of “twin” and “triplet” lolitas?
          I love them! It’s so cute! I like twinning with my little sister, but I’ll wear white/pink and she’ll wear black.

53. How do you keep in shape for lolita? Recommend something.
          I do a lot of walking! I take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator (unless it’s more than 5 floors–like at work). I walk to and from the bus stop or train station in the morning, and I walk to nearly all of my errands.

54. Do you keep calm when you wear lolita alone in public?
          Yes, I do. I try to ignore all the strangers, just blocking them out. It doesn’t matter if they’re amazed or amused–I feel better when I’m not thinking about how people might be critiquing me.

55. How much do you spend per month on clothes/accessories?
          Not very much, really–usually $0. I tend to not buy anything for several months, and then buy maybe $300 – $400 worth of things within a short period.

56. Was there a time lag between knowing about lolita and dressing in the fashion?
          Yes–from going, “ooh, I want to wear this” and receiving my first item, about 6 months.

57. What is your most expensive lolita item?
          My Angelic Pretty pink houndstooth Chocola-chan coat.

58. It takes a lot of money to be a lolita. How do you save?
          I don’t buy coffee in the morning, I pack a lunch, and I typically cook dinner instead of eating out. I don’t spend money on movies, books, or CDs–if I want to read something, I go to the library, and my person buys all the CDs I’d want anyway. I don’t buy expensive gadgets–my computer is old and my phone does not allow internet access. Besides lolita, I rarely purchase clothing. I have two major indulgences–lolita fashion and my doll.

59. Just a little secret here… How much have you spent so far on lolita, roughly?
          I think a little over $2,500… x_x I don’t actually account for it, though–could be more or less.

60. Is there a brand shop you want near where you live?
          I’d love to live near an Angelic Pretty! ♥

61. “Man, what a rip-off!!” Have you ever thought that about a store?
          I feel that way about some Chinese-made shoes. I’ve read so many negative reviews, and my experience was very unpleasant; I won’t buy Montreal brand shoes.

62. Do you shop online? If so, put the good & bad points here to advise others.
          I do shop online. I recommend protecting yourself as a buyer–choose a payment method that won’t disappear without a trace (I will never use Western Union!), request insurance and tracking if it’s something you would hate to see lost in the mail, and don’t let sympathy for sellers cloud your judgment. Too many people lose money because they didn’t receive their item, but they waited too long to get the seller’s side of the story before trying to protect themselves–and by then it was too late!

63. Is there a secret person/shop that you have commissioned a dress just for you from?
          It’s not a “secret person/shop,” but I commissioned a dress from In the Starlight when I started wearing lolita. I also own “Secret Shop” shoes! giggles

64. “I can never have that/see that happening!! But I will always want it!!” Is there a brand you think this of?
          Yes–Metamorphose! Sometimes they produce such GORGEOUS or outrageous outfits that I’d love to own…but their clothing just doesn’t fit me.

65. What do you do with the clothes you don’t want anymore?
          I try to resell them on egl_comm_sales…but usually I pawn them off on my little sister. e_e

66. What is your most recent purchase? (Even non-lolita.)
          A pair of opera-length matte white gloves~

67. Is there an item you love that you can’t buy/seem to find?
          The Angelic Pretty pink x pink Twinkle Mermaid jumperskirt. Although, if I could find it, I could never afford it!

68. What do you think of people who only wear lolita to concerts?
          I don’t care.

69. What do you think of lolitas without makeup?
          I also don’t care.

70. Another lolita is wearing the same coordinate/clothes as you!! What do you do?
          Jump up and down and excitedly announce that we are SECRET TWINZ! 😀 Amazing!

71. What age should you stop wearing lolita?
          I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a specific age–it’s up to the wearer. Some old women already dress like trashy teenagers; I don’t mind if they’d rather dress like fluffy cupcakes.

72. When do you think you should graduate from lolita? And why?
          I think I will graduate from lolita fashion when I look in the mirror and feel uncomfortable. I will probably stop wearing it in public when it might affect my career; I don’t want to have someone’s opinion of me lessened because they see me out of the office wearing pink sparkles. However, I will probably keep some important garments just for me, and wear them at home for my own enjoyment.

73. “You should stop doing that!!! ><” What must a lolita not do?
          I think that someone wearing lolita ought to be mindful of the way they sit. Seeing a prettily-dressed girl (or boy!) slouching down, head dipped down, with their legs spread awkwardly at the base of the chair, is very disappointing. (Also, usually quite revealing!) I can’t tell someone how they may or may not sit, but I always think, “Please, please adjust your skirts and sit nicely!”

74. “A lolita should be ‘this’!” What do you think that should be?
          A lolita should be well put-together. She looks most impressive if she’s thoughtfully coordinated from head to toe!

75. Besides #73, is there anything you should definitely not do while wearing lolita?
          Stomp in brackish rain-puddles. At least not when you might dirty someone else’s socks and clothing.

76. What do you think of men in lolita?
          I don’t mind if they wear it or if they don’t.

77. Did you change yourself to be a lolita?
          Well, I changed my hairstyle–I used to be terrified of having bangs, but I had them cut in August 2009 and I love them! Other than that–no. I didn’t start wearing lolita so I could pretend to be someone else–I just like being a frillier me.

78. What does your family and other people think of you dressing lolita? And do you accept it?
          My family is mostly okay with it. My mother didn’t really approve at first, but after she visited the BABY the Stars Shine Bright store in Paris her mind is very much changed! My father loves it, because I am “sticking it to The Man!” Most of the time, other people don’t care. I accept how everyone may feel about my clothing choice, because I don’t have a right to tell them what they may and may not think.

79. How do you wear lolita in the boiling mid-summer?
          With a few less layers than in winter! I don’t usually get too warm, though, so I still wear blouses with my jumperskirts, and knee socks.

80. Have you gone to school or work in lolita?
          Yes, but I don’t do it often.

81. How do you dress normally?
          Jeans and t-shirts, with or without a sweater. I dislike clothes shopping unless it’s later.

82. Do you think twice about buying second-hand clothes?
          Not really. I try to make smart decisions–ask for pictures, check the measurements, verify that the price isn’t inflated, look into the background of the seller, etc. but I don’t worry that there’s some kind of secret conspiracy determined to ruin me with second-hand clothes.

83. Do you have a boyfriend? (or husband?) Does he understand lolita?
          My husband is very understanding about my “odd” fashion interest. He thinks it is cute and is very encouraging about it. ♥ I don’t think I could really ask for more~

84. Please tell us about your ideal man.
          He lives in my apartment, plays guitar at all hours of the day and night, wears heavy-metal t-shirts and jeans to lolita events, and is the only person ever to really and truly care about me for who I am.

85. What lolita has left a big, shiny impression on you so far?
          Helena! She’s super-super-super nice, dresses so well, and is generally lots of fun to be around! ♥ When I met her I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. _

86. Have you made your own clothes? What are they like?
          I absolutely cannot sew. My total ineptitude is pathetic.

87. Have you made your own accessories? What did you make?
          I have made some glass pearl-and-bead bracelets for myself and several friends. I also made a pair of wrist-cuffs with LOTS of assistance from my little sister, who is a sewing genius.

88. Think about the best item you have made! What is it?
          The “best” would be the bracelets. They look like something you might buy at a store–not something made by a not-terribly-creatively-inclined girl on a whim.

89. Please tell us about the most perfect lolita coordination you wear.
          I don’t think I have any “perfect” coordinations–I am not very creative or unique. I tend to stick to a rather predictable formula of OP or blouse + jsk/skirt, knee socks, and hair accessory. In my opinion, though, my outfits look closer to “perfect” if I have suitable poof from my petticoat! Poof makes it or breaks it for me.

90. Do you admire someone? What are they like?
          I admire many people, but not really related to lolita fashion. (My grandfather is absolutely my biggest role model; I look up to him so much. He’s not AT ALL lolita-related, though! XD)

91. “One day I will go on a date with that person.” What would you like to wear for him?
          I would wear the dress he bought for me, with a pink hairbow atop my head and pink socks with white accents–and white tea party shoes~

92. If you want one, what type of store would you open in the future?
          I’d open a store to sell tea! ♥ I’d love to have a cute little tea-shop~

93. Something catches your eye. What is this motif?
          It’s a bunny. A really, really cute bunny. It may or may not be holding a cherry or strawberry…

94. Would you dress your child in lolita?
          I’m not sure, really. If I have children, I don’t want to force them into things that I like. @@ I don’t need to live through them! I’d like to see what sort of things they’re interested in.

95. How much do you spend on one outfit?
          Eeek, this is a scary question! A lot. @
@ I don’t want to think about it, really! Thankfully almost all of my pieces are multi-purpose, so I don’t have to buy an ENTIRELY new coordination every time.

96. “This is lolita!!” Please say what you would say this about.
          A fluffy, cupcake-shaped petticoat!

97. “I have always wanted to try that once!” What, in the lolita world, have you wanted to try wearing?
          I’ve been very interested, lately, in a more hime type of style. However, I’m not interested enough to really make the investment…

98. Look at yourself in lolita. In one word/phrase, how would you express your style/image?
          Pink fluff ball.

99. What is your lolita ideal?
          Angelic Pretty advertisements circa 2007. ♥ That is what comes to mind for me whenever I think of “perfect lolita outfit!” I love cute, but not too outlandish, garments and coordinations~

100. Thank you for taking this baton!! Tell us what you think!
          I had a lot of fun thinking about how to answer the questions! I will definitely read the answers from other lolita, too~ ♥

On Being Lolita: Usakumya’s Evil Clutches

On Being Lolita: Usakumya’s Evil Clutches

Before I started wearing lolita, I really disliked plush purses and bags. I loved stuffed animals, especially as a small child, but I was absolutely horrified at the thought of unzipping something cute and reaching my hand inside. It seemed like invasive, unwanted surgery! (These kinds of thoughts came from the fact that my childhood stuffed bear constantly developed holes, and needed to have his stuffing removed, replaced, and be sewn. Traumatizing!)

However, I have completely fallen in love with the BABY, the Stars Shine Bright usakumya (“bunny bear”) bags. Any of them! All of them!

When I first saw one in print, I was unimpressed, thinking, “it’s a $200 stuffed animal with red eyes.” When I saw one in person, I still wasn’t impressed. The more I met other people’s bunny bears, the more my mood changed. They’re cute. They’re soft. They’re SO BIG. (At least the first ones~) I loved to hold and pet other people’s bunny bears, daydreaming about a tea party attended by only me and a plethora of usakumya~ Yet I didn’t buy one. My common excuse for not getting one was, “I won’t treat it like a nice accessory–I’ll cuddle it, get it dirty, and wonder why I spent $200!”

My excuse has lasted, but not for too long. My little sister bought one when she was in Japan, and the more I play with hers the more I really wish I had one. (Even moreso because it would be twintastic!) Then another friend started collecting the “mini-mini” versions–the ones that can’t even fit a tube of lip balm–and I cannot stop staring at them with dazzled eyes. I accidentally took one home with me, and returned it promptly–but already I couldn’t stop that “uwaaaa~” kind of feeling inside that comes from super-super-super cute irresistible things.

Still the Same

Now I want a white one to match hers, since we already having matching bunny pochettes, Mallow and Liquorice~ Of course, they’re sold out on the website, but I am wishing-wishing-wishing for them to be re-released. They’ve been re-released several times, always selling out, so I can only hope that the company will make a sound business decision. My back-up plan has involved fluttering around my mother and stepfather, trying to persuade them that they would absolutely love to purchase one for me if there are any at the BtSSB Paris store. It’s not a very good plan, though… maybe in a few weeks I’ll get serious and start looking for one second-hand!

Somehow the bunny bear just seems so much cuter to me than some of the other stuffed animal bags. I’m not very fond of the Angelic Pretty purses, even though they have such cute designs, because they rarely seem to be of a higher quality. Every usakumya that I’ve touched has been soft, with a subtle nubbed texture. The lace trimmings on the hood are lovely, and the straps and hardware are better than the average backpack. A friend’s Milky-chan purse, on the other hand, looked and felt very much like the kind of plush animal purse sold at toy stores–although the fawn herself was adorable!

Ah, usakumya~ Someday we will be together! ♥

Sweet Treats: Swirlz Cupcakes

Sweet Treats: Swirlz Cupcakes

Cupcakes have become very “hip” in the past year or so. I’ve seen numerous cupcake bakeries open (and close…) in Chicago. I am very fond of cupcakes myself, since they are small cakes and I am not exactly able to eat an entire big cake. I’ve tried to taste the goods at as many of the cupcakeries in the area as possible, although a few have always evaded me. (I’m not willing to travel for a few hours to eat a cupcake unless I know it’s going to be completely awesome; maybe I’d feel differently about this if I had a car instead of relying on public transportation, but maybe not.)
One of the places I hadn’t been able to visit was Swirlz. Although it isn’t terribly far from where I live, it was always juuuuuust a little bit further than I wanted to travel on that day. (It doesn’t help that there are closer cupcake shops that I am fond of!) However, over the weekend I went out to lunch with my person. When we decided where we wanted to go, I realized we were close to Swirlz, so we decided to stop by for a cupcake after lunch. (Unfortunately, I got us both rather lost on the way there…and it was only about a block away~ Whoops~)

Boston Creme Pie Cupcake from Swirlz

He chose their flavor of the day–Boston Creme Pie. My person adores Boston creme pie when it’s in pie-form, so he was especially excited. He had every right to be–his cupcake was delicious! The flavors of the cake were both well-blended and well-separated. (You can see here that the base was vanilla and the top was chocolate.) The cupcake had the requisite custard filling, which was smooth and tasty, and the frosting was dipped in chocolate~ We were both very impressed.

Red-Velvet Cupcake from Swirlz

I ordered a gluten-free red velvet cupcake. No particular reason in terms of the gluten-free–I was mostly curious. In retrospect, I suspect that I should have ordered the original red velvet cupcake. The cupcake itself, though moist and dense, was rather flavorless. The cream cheese frosting was quite good, but it would have been better were it offsetting a more flavored cake.

Overall, I would definitely patronize Swirlz again, although it isn’t likely to be my go-to for cupcakes. The price is $3.50 per cupcake, which is on the higher end, but the flavors weren’t as intricate as I prefer. I don’t like to purchase a cupcake if I could make it at home with ease, but beyond the flavor of the day the other options were vanilla, chocolate, and variants of the two. For that price, I’d rather head to more and eat something ridiculous. :3

Outfit Snap: A Coordination Unseen

Outfit Snap: A Coordination Unseen

Christmas Flowers

I dressed up today, and paid a bit of extra attention because I was going to meet some new people, but in the end my outfit was seen for all of maybe 5 minutes when I asked someone to take a picture for me! Oh well–I guess that’s just how things go sometimes.

It’s still very, very cold here, so I bundled up as much as possible. I knew I would be out and about, because I headed down to the Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s a magnificent, enormous greenhouse with a charming Victorian feeling to it. However, it is not near where I live–I rode on 3 different lines of the L to get there. (But thankfully, my ride was not terribly long.) I attended a ball-jointed doll “mini-meetup,” and it was a lot of fun.

Although I’ve taken to painting my nails frequently, I don’t usually do much with them. I admire lolita who decorate their nails or are able to function with charms dangling from their fingertips~ However, I have very poor control of my fingers with false nails or decorations, so I didn’t want to attempt something that advanced. Instead, I aimed for a more subtle look. I first painted my nails with some very sheer pink nail polish, intended for French manicures, then alternated every-other finger with a coat of micro-glitter-packed sheer pink polish! It’s a particularly nice effect in person, because the light really dazzles on the glittery fingers, but it isn’t quite enough to be obnoxiously distracting. (Maybe I’ll try something bolder next time!)

My outfit today consisted of many, many layers! I couldn’t bear to go without long underwear, since I knew I’d be outside quite a bit today, so I wore a blouse under my one-piece to avoid the awkward collision of the mis-matched necklines of the dress and the thermal shirt. I like to wear blouses under one-pieces in the winter, and it works out very nicely as long as the dress has a square neckline and the blouse has a Peter Pan or high-neck collar. If the dress has a higher collar, there’s too much bulk underneath. If they both have square collars, the overlap tends to look awkward.

Instead of my “default” spiral pigtails, I coiled braids into buns, accenting them with a bow. It was a bit difficult to fit my earmuffs on without removing the bows, but at just the right positioning the headdress covered them up. (Thankfully they didn’t dig into my head! x_+ I worried it would be painful…) The wind can be brutal here, so having my hair completely up prevented any non-intentional “blow drying.” I wore socks for a little bit extra pinkness~ Even if my outfit was barely seen, I had fun dressing up today. At least I got a picture!


Outfit Snap: Snowy Berry Bunny

Outfit Snap: Snowy Berry Bunny

Winter Coat of Coatness

In honor of a day off (hooray!) I dressed up. I spent the whole day with my person, which always makes me happy. To add to the joy of the day, I wore my Cherry Berry Bunny jumperskirt. This probably qualifies as my “dream dress” even though I’d like to think that the Twinkle Mermaid jumperskirt is my dream. (I doubt that I will ever see a Twinkle Mermaid jumperskirt for sale that won’t cost some incredibly overinflated price.) I love the artwork for this print, even though I’m not really fond of prints in general. I guess I just can’t resist adorable bunnies! ♥

I paired it with my white long-sleeved Christmas present blouse. There’s just something invaluable about a truly long-sleeved blouse in the wintertime; I find that when I wear my detachable-sleeve blouses the wind sneaks in where the sleeves attach! I usually wear long-underwear in the winter, but sometimes that’s not enough when there’s a harsh chill–even indoors. I’m really thankful for this blouse~

Snowy Berry Bunny

Since it’s cold outside, my coordinations always involve my winter coat! I really feel that this coat is one of the most valuable lolita garments I’ve ever purchased. It was expensive, but worth every penny! I love having a coat that fits well over my clothing (normal coats always gape at the bottom or scrunch up funny over the volume of a petticoat) and looks finished. Sometimes I’ve spotted a coat that could fit over a lolita coordination, but usually those coats have no shape. With the “poof” of lolita clothing underneath, it’s very unflattering–it makes people look like blobs.

Of course, my feelings towards this coat might not be as glowing if it weren’t for the best part–my earmuffs. My coat has a matching earmuff-headdress, which works very well to keep my ears from freezing. I find that I’m most uncomfortable in inclement weather if my extremities (toes, fingers, ears, etc.) are cold; it’s definitely easy for them to be cold, too! Wearing these earmuffs keeps my ears from hurting, thus I can have more fun out in the snow. Since it’s a headdress, instead of a headband, it can fold up to fit in my pocket when I’m not wearing it. I wish I had another one of these to match my normal coat! (I should make one…)

Frilly Snow Time
Outfit Snap: Ivory Velveteen

Outfit Snap: Ivory Velveteen

20100103 Velveteen Skirt
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

For the January crafternoon, I picked my outfit based on convenience more than being as fluffy and frilly as possible. I had to go to work before I could head to the meetup, and there wasn’t enough time to change between the two. (Besides, I hate lugging stuff around, and carrying an extra outfit–especially one involving a petticoat–would have been too much.)

This skirt is a lovely gift from my little sister. It’s BABY, the Stars Shine Bright, in a traditional style that they have released in many fabrics for different years. Mine is a creamy ivory velveteen, with sheer fabric ruffles peeking out at the bustled back. I don’t own a lot of things in this color, so I coordinated it with a sweater I recently got and some knit tights. It was very casual, but comfy and not work-inappropriate.

I plan on getting some kind of cutsew or knit top to wear with this on a more regular basis. I’d really like one of the bustier-style tops that BtSSB has released in the past, but I haven’t seen them do one of those in a while and the fabric would need to match or it would look silly.

I still really need a new petticoat, since mine is in the shop and I’ve been wearing my definitely-not-poofy backup. ;_; 2010 needs to be the year of the new petticoat!

Meetup Report: Casual and Fun

Meetup Report: Casual and Fun

sweets for me
Originally uploaded by mylaar

Traditionally, the Chicago-area crafternoon is held on the first Sunday of the month. When we started holding these free, casual meetups on a regular basis, that was the day that most people said they had an easier time setting aside. Now that my work schedule has changed, I find that I’m the one who doesn’t have Sundays free! ;_; I really love attending meetups, and crafternoons are my favourites, so this was really disheartening. I was hoping to use some of my mixed-up vacation time for this weekend, but it didn’t work out that way.

So I wore my outfit to work and bolted for the L as soon as I clocked out. This time the hostess was the lovely and amazing and awesome Jordanananana. ♥ She’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever known. Her house is small, but full of all kinds of interesting things. She was joking yesterday that every time we come over it’s like it becomes some kind of show-and-tell; I think that’s part of why it’s so fun!

Everything is very vibrant at her house. There’s a lot of colorful fabric and other supplies, organized on large white shelves, for the craft-related endeavor she runs with a friend: Qylaar. There were all kinds of interesting prototypes or ideas tucked amidst the materials–including a very cute tulip-print hippo and ice-cream cone-shaped pencil cases! She also has several Blythes and other dolls–I find it fascinating. She’s also tried her hand at sweets jewelry; everyone was trying it on and admiring some of her designs. They’re very tasteful (AND they look delicious)!

I’m not sure what kinds of crafts were done, but when I arrived I spent a while organizing her stationery with my little sister. (And pilfering a few sheets along the way–but she said we could~) There was apple cider, grapefruit soda, and birch beer, along with delicious guacamole and mango salsa for tortilla chips. We sat around and talked while looking through many sewing books for making stuffed animals. Some of the attendees volunteered to be interviewed for someone’s film project.

It had that relaxed atmosphere that I really love about crafternoons. No rushing from one place to the next, worrying about someone being late and impacting everyone’s schedule. There isn’t pressure to take lots of pictures to post online; thus no fears of outfit criticism from community members. The snacks help avoid the general “we’re hungry but how much do we want to pay to eat out and what does everyone like” sort of problem. It’s just a nice time to sit around with friends, get to know new people, and talk about lolita fashion or anything else that comes up.

I really hope that I can attend the next crafternoon in full–especially if we do something fun for Valentine’s Day! (I think we should make valentines and/or candy… of course~ ♥) But even if we just laze around at someone’s house, I know I’ll have a great time!

Sweet Treats: Macaron Review

Sweet Treats: Macaron Review

Frozen Macarons
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

Macarons are a rather iconic dessert in terms of lolita fashion. Beyond the obvious tastiness of these delicate cookies, the Japanese seem entranced with them in the same sort of way that they idolize many French things. In lolita fashion, the macaron has been featured in several prints by Angelic Pretty. Beyond lolita, however, macarons are the subjects for miniature, felt crafts, cell phone straps, and other household goods.

Recently, the Trader Joe’s grocery stores have begun selling macarons. Not everyone is fortunate enough to live near a pâtisserie that makes macarons, and even fewer people live near one that makes them well.

However, store-bought macarons have perils beyond that of fresh macarons. Macarons go stale very quickly–macaron-Mecca Ladurée warns patrons that the cookies are only good for two days. However, two days is shorter than many foods spend in transit to their final destination; thus most packaged macarons are stale by the time they reach the consumer. The Trader Joe’s macarons, however, are kept in the frozen dessert section–this keeps them from going stale in such a short time.

Although the cookies are not stale, they do not arrive in perfect condition. Macarons are very delicate–the cookie portion is basically a meringue with a touch of flour–and the slightest pressure can crack and crush them. Whenever I bake macarons, sometimes they shatter just from being removed from the cookie sheet. Although the Trader Joe’s macarons are packaged in a plastic tray with each cookie separated, it is not enough to keep them in shape. The tops of the cookies usually look fine, but the bottoms of every cookie in my box was totally smashed.

As these macarons are frozen, they need to be allowed to thaw–sitting out at room temperature for 30 minutes. This step is extremely, extremely important. The macarons I ate that had sat out for the full 30 minutes had soft filling and a crisp cookie. The flavors were light and un-tainted. The macarons that did not get a full 30 minutes had hard filling and (most importantly) tasted of “freezer” more than of the cookie itself–very unpleasant.

In terms of actual quality, I’d say that the Trader Joe’s macarons are not perfect, but they are better than most packaged (and some bakeries’) macarons. The cookies have a nice foot, smooth skin, and appropriate crispness, but I found that they were more meringue-like than I prefer. (This was more pronounced for the chocolate macarons than the vanilla.) They didn’t have enough of the density and texture that the almond flour should add.

The Trader Joe’s macarons are approximately $5 for one dozen macarons–6 chocolate and 6 vanilla. This is, really, an unbeatable value. Most pâtisseries charge much, much more than that this–usually $2-$3 per macaron.

Overall, I don’t think this is something I would buy again, but I would certainly recommend it to others. If you haven’t had macarons before, the Trader Joe’s macarons are a better place to start than other pre-packaged macarons. If you like macarons a lot and don’t want to spend a fortune, they’re a great deal. If you love meringues, you’d also probably really like them! Personally, I will bake my own macarons or patronize my favourite bakery–there are other store-bought cookies I enjoy that I could buy for a similar price; I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for macarons I like the taste of more.