Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily Outfit 3-22-11

Yesterday I went into NYC for dinner with the ever-lovely Dalin and Crystal. After all the stress of the past few weeks, all of us really needed a girl's night! We ate at South Houston, an awesome SoHo restaurant/bar that serves Southern-style food like hush puppies and pulled pork; I had a veggie burger with avocado and a side salad. It also happened to be happy hour, so Crystal and I had some amazing sangria for only five dollars a glass, because we're secretly lushes.

Here's what I wore:

The night before, I was up til 4 AM finishing "Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne. Inspired by that, my original theme was "Victorian traveller," hence the vintage hat, long JSK, and use of brown. Then I decided that none of my lolita blouses were hip enough to be included in this outfit, so I took a non-lolita blouse and pinned my Angelic Pretty detachable sleeves to make it a little more appropriate for the end-of-winter chilliness (which, today, turned into the end-of-winter snow that's currently accumulating on my car and porch steps. Sigh.) It may stick its tongue out at the lolita rule against showing your shoulders, but I think it works and creates a playful contrast to the grown-up classic feel of the rest of the coordinate, especially combined with the star-print bag.

(also, check out that picture on the right- could I look any younger?! This is why I usually don't smile in pictures!)

FOR FUN: Coord from a year ago today!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mini-update: QR reader!

In order to better serve mobile viewers, Her Lumpiness now has its own QR reader. To use it, take a picture of the code to the right with the downloadable QR reader app on your smart phone or other mobile reading device (iPad, etc). It will open your internet browser with a mobile version of Miss Lumpy for ease of reading. Please let me know how it works! I don't have a smart phone, but I tried it out on my boyfriend's iPhone and it looked great!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Craft Log: Mori-Inspired E-Reader case

I usually don't craft much. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of patience- that pretty much sums it up. All I really do is make jewelry. Unfortunately, desperate times call for desperate measures, so in preparation for the trips I'll be taking over spring break* I busted out my hot glue and button collection and did some grade-A scrounging to make myself a travel-safe case for my Kindle. I'm sure this will prove utterly invaluable, considering this is my second Kindle since Christmas (yes, I know, I'm a bit of a clutz...) I know I'll need something to protect it, since I have no idea what I did to break my last one- knowing me, I dropped it, stepped on it, or spilled tea on it and stuffed it with jam.

It seemed silly to blow a lot of cash on something that I had plenty of materials around to make for free, so I decided (rather sternly, if I may add), to spend absolutely nothing on this project. That's right- I made it for free, using only things I found around my house. That meant scavenging for the biggest piece of felt in the building; it was stolen from a puzzle box (I have no idea what its original purpose was) and a brilliant forest green. I was stumped for a few days, because there are few shades I've absolutely never seen in lolita before, and this particular green was one of them. I had to delve deeper, and decided to play with a mori-girl theme instead of my standard frou-frou-princess-shit. I don't know why I went with mushrooms for the decorations. My mom tried to get me to do acorns, but for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I was hooked on shrooms (bet you never thought you'd hear me say that!)

 Here's what I used:
  • Felt in forest green, light blue, beige, and red
  • Spray glue
  • Cardboard
  • Hot glue
  •  Rhinestones
  • Cute button +needle and thread to sew it on
  • Some thin ribbon to make a loop for the button

The first step was to cut the cardboard... or if you're a huge weakling like me, have your dad do it for you. I used my Kindle as a pattern, and sketched two rectangles about a half-inch bigger on each side.

So, now that I had my cardboard protectors cut, it was time to measure the felt. Since I can't see myself ever really doing much else with this green felt, I didn't do it very thriftily; I found a fold in the fabric that was about at its center, placed the two pieces of cardboard on either side of this fold, and then measured to have about a half-inch to an inch on each long side; I didn't even bother to measure the short ends. I did this twice so I'd have two separate pieces that looked something like this...

Then I put them together using spray adhesive. I sprayed the bottom layer of felt with glue, stuck the cardboard in place (picture below), and then sprayed both the cardboard and the felt around the edges with another coat of adhesive so I could stick the remaining piece of felt to them:

Then I cut one short-end of the green felt to as close to the cardboard as I could without exposing it, and folded it together so the bottom of the pouch was where the original fabric folded. I used hot glue to fix the sides together, with the intention of someday stitching them up all pretty with embroidery floss. Then I used the cute mock-up I drew... cut out my mushrooms from the red, blue, and beige felt, and hot-glued them in place. The fat little red mushroom looked kind of sad, so I added some bling:
As you can probably tell, they were just shoddy craft rhinestones from Micheal's, nothing fancy or special, since I know this is going to take some abuse. After making sure everything was glued down well, I raided my button collection for something suitable to act as a closure. I wanted something vintage and kitschy but still classy, so I sewed on a cute mirrored silver one, as well as hot-gluing a small loop of brown ribbon to close it.

The finished product:

Sorry for the shoddy pictures, by the way, I left my own camera at home so I had to borrow my mother's. I'd really like to revise this one in the future! I think it'd be adorable with some embroidery and crocheted lace on the flap, which is currently plain, and a nice blanket-stitch around the edges to finish them some more. For now, though, it's doing its job well and I can finally take my Kindle out with me, without fear of damaging it again!

*Note: You may remember my plans to visit Tokyo over spring break that I talked about a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, due to the tragedy they're currently dealing with, my boyfriend and I decided it would be best to push our vacation back a few months; we'll be going in May instead.  There are supposedly intense food shortages, power outages, and whole train lines that are down, so as impatient as I am to go back, I'm taking the logical route (for once) and waiting until summer vacation. Besides, this way, we're going only a few days after my birthday!

If, like me, you're concerned about the state of the nation, you can donate to the Japanese Red Cross here. Please remember that in times like these, any little bit helps, and I hope the meager amount I could afford to send over is enough to give a meal to some families in need or bring someone closer to finding a lost loved one.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Why I Just Can't Stomach "Deka Wanko"

    I'm always one for depictions of lolitas in the media. Sure, there are plenty of manga and anime characters who wear bad-race monstrosities, but despite that, I just can't help but be excited whenever I hear about a new show coming out featuring one of my frilly brethren, especially if it's a live action (featuring actors and actresses, not just an animated cast). Therefore, I was ridiculously excited when I heard about Deka Wanko- not only was it live action, but the main character wore actual brand; she even had a career and everything! I waited patiently for the day I would happen upon a few episodes online.

    And then I watched fifteen minutes of the first episodes. And I turned it off in disgust.

    Now, I know this is probably not a very popular viewpoint to take. Everyone and their mother seems to have made Ichiko their new style icon, and I must admit, the main reason I watched those first fifteen minutes was because I just couldn't stop staring at that amazing Fantastic Dolly coordinate. This really doesn't surprise me; in a show that's mainly based around aesthetically catering to a subculture, they had better make sure they're doing an awesome job of it. I'm a firm believer in doing something right, if you're going to do it at all, and that's why you can't just look at the clothes in a TV show while completely ignoring the plot- a plot which in this case is at best vapid and boring and at worst largely anti feminist.

    Here's the gist of the show that came through in its first fifteen minutes: Ichiko  (by the way, I had to google the show to find out her name- they never said it in the segment I watched) is a newly-appointed detective trying to live as a lolita in a man's world. She is apparently part dog because she smells everything and looks at everyone with huge puppy eyes, and she absolutely refuses to accept that there are certain times in which wearing lolita is just not acceptable. Also she thinks it's a great idea to put an Angelic Pretty phone charm on her gun.

    Alright, I tried to be objective there, but I just couldn't. Seriously? There are so many things wrong with those three sentences. On the one hand, it's admirable that she's trying to make it in a very male-oriented field without giving up her sense of self and style. There are also a good number of careers where wearing lolita is acceptable- maybe being an entrepreneur, such as owning a sweets shop or a children's clothing store. However, a position in which one tried to impose force and power on dangerous criminals is really one where you want to give an appearance of brawn, for your own physical safety and that of the people around you. That's the reason I didn't follow in my father's footsteps and become a police officer: if you're going to work a job like that, there's a certain level of sacrifice you must be willing to make to get the job done, and one of those sacrifices is cuteness in favor of strength and an imposing appearance. That leads me to the gun. I'm sure this isn't common knowledge, so for those of you who don't know, weapons are supposed to be scary. It may be surprising, but if you have a gun, you don't want to actually have to use it on another person (at least, you shouldn't); that's why they look imposing and dangerous, so that your attacker becomes intimidated by them and backs off. This is the reason why there's contention about, say, pink or other colored firearms- if it looks like a toy, you'll have to prove that it isn't, and that isn't the point of using a gun for self-defense.

    That's not even addressing the fact that her clothes keep everyone in her precinct from taking her seriously. Wait, no- maybe it's more the fact that she is completely and totally incapable of doing her job that keeps her from being a viable member of her team. It's true that she's new to the job- we're told early on that it's only been around a month since she took the job - so it's possible that that's the true explanation of her ineptitude. In the short amount of the episode that I watched, however, I was given no reason to think that this is true. Her attitude is just like a puppy, which I'm sure is on purpose; she's easily distracted, overly anxious to do everything, and she freaking smells people. I mean, what? And then she tells them what they smell like because she apparently has no idea how to keep an internal monologue internal. Would you want to work with someone like that, especially in a dangerous situation with multiple lives on the line? I certainly wouldn't.

    There are so many reasons I couldn't stand watching Deka Wanko. Can I please just send out a general plea to the television producers and movie writers of the world? Never make anything like this again. I'm all for women succeeding in male-dominated careers, and I'm also a huge fan of representations of lifestyle lolitas in the media. But if you're going to attempt something like this again... please just save yourself the effort.

    Readers: What did you think of Deka Wanko? Can anyone give me a good reason to keep watching it? I'd love to love this show, I really would, but if it's more of the same faux-feminist sexism, I'll just watch Twilight.

    EDIT: To see an opposing viewpoint in an incredibly well-written review, check out Tori's article here!

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Lolita On Location: Preliminaries

    Yep, that's right- in case I haven't been obsessing loudly enough and you've somehow missed it...

    I'm going to Tokyo!!

    Finally! After almost four years, I'll be making my triumphant return to the Land of the Rising Sun for my fourth visit the most fabulous city in the world. Seriously, no matter how much I love-love-love New York City, nothing can ever compare to Tokyo. I've been having weird, almost homesick bouts of nostalgia ever since I returned in 2007, and I've always intended to go back as soon as my money situation was stable enough to save up for it. About a year ago, my boyfriend and I were sitting discussing travel, and we made vague plans to go to Japan at some point in the future; a few weeks later, we decided that it was official, and that we would seriously start saving up and planning for the trip. After money issues on my side caused us to push our trip back three times (sorry, love!), we finally bought our tickets in September for my spring break 2011- so much better than Cancun!

    Obviously, all of the tips I'm offering here are currently heresay; this will be my first time going to Japan on my own, without the guidance of a school group and chaperones. The high school I attended hosted a magnet school called the Center for Global Studies, which taught the language, literature, history, and culture of China, Japan, and... I guess you could say the Middle East/Arabia? Anyway, not only did we host foreign exchange students for two weeks, but we had our own two-week exchange program to whichever of the three programs you were studying- Beijing for Chinese, Morocco for Arabic, and of course, Kyoto/Tokyo for Japanese. It was an amazing experience that was made possible by absolutely fabulous people, and I am honored to have been given the opportunity.

    But the nostalgia never stops. It's the little things that trigger it. Sometimes when the spring breeze trickles past me, it carries on it some kind of perfume- the same perfume it carried down Takeshita-Doori; or looking up at the innards of a black umbrella in a certain light reminds me of the year it rained every day we were in Kyoto. I can't fight it, and last year I decided to stop trying, stop whining, and start planning and saving. Here's the main problem, though: I had no idea what to save! My hand was held so much in high school that I really didn't know how much to expect a trip to cost. So here I am; a year of planning, saving, researching, and budgeting, and I've decided to write the guide I wanted to see. This is the preliminary stage: all of my plans, ideas, and thought patterns behind my trip, and since I'm officially leaving two weeks from today, I figured this was as good a time as any. I'll follow up afterward with how it actually turned out, but for now, here are my tips on the first, most important stage of your trip to Japan, or anywhere: planning.

    Some websites will tell you that it costs no less than $6,000 to go to Tokyo. Such a fallacy! While Japan can be one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit, Tokyo is just like any other city- it has lots of price ranges. My school trips never cost over $2,500, but that wasn't enough to put me totally at ease because I knew that they got group rates on flights and hotel, which would be my biggest money-drain. That being said, having experience in Tokyo helped me a lot- I know I can eat decently for $30 or less per day, for example, and I know that there are plenty of traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) that are basically a bit better than hostels and can cost as little as $30 per night. A little travel-savvy can get you a long way, and let me tell you, I milked mine for everything it had!

    Here's my budget (in USD):
    Plane ticket (purchased in September for a March vacation): $880
    Ryokan: about $70 per night for a two-person room; total about $250 each for 6 nights
    Food: Breakfast- $5, Lunch- $10, Dinner- $15; Total $30/day or about $210 each
    Transportation: $100-$150
    Emergency: $100
    Entertainment: $100
    TOTAL: ~$1640-$1690

    Okay, so we're not going to be living the high life in Tokyo. While ryokan are often very sophisticated, classy establishments that can include meals and hot springs, there are also many that cater to budget-conscious travelers and poor students. The one we're staying at was a referral from my brother, who called it "a glorified hostel." However, it's in the middle of Ikebukuro, only a few blocks from a large train station, and we get our own 4.5-tatami-room (which is tiny for two people. Seriously, tiny. But it's Japan, so really, you take what you can get space-wise); we're going to bring a can of bed bug spray and cut our losses. And yes, you can feed yourself in Japan for $30 a day! We did it every year in high school, and going above that meant paying out of pocket with our precious spending money- so yeah, we stuck to that budget pretty devotedly! Here's what I'll probably be eating: breakfast will be an onigiri (riceball) or pastry from a convenience store or supermarket, lunch will be a crepe or bowl of ramen, and dinner will be something cheap-y and probably fast food-y. Healthy? No, not really. Tasty? Yes. Cheap? Double yes! We'll probably also try to find a nearby supermarket and try to pick up bread or produce to snack on inexpensively- we'll be there for six days, but we're probably not going to have a refrigerator in our room, so anything we get will have to be kept at room temperature.

    Another oft-overlooking aspect of budgeting is an emergency fund. This is incredibly important, whether you're taking a weekend at the beach or a three-week vacation abroad- no matter how close to home you are, you just never know what could happen. What if you bust a tire, or lose your bus pass, or miss curfew and have to stay in a capsule hotel? Okay, maybe that last one is really just one of my personal paranoias about my trip, but honestly- you never know what could come up, and the last thing you want to do is chose between your safety and eating for the rest of the trip. If it's the second-to-last day and it seems like you won't be needing it, start slowly using up your foreign currency and treat yourself to a little bit fancier dinner or buy some extra souvenirs for friends (hello, 100-yen store!)

    You'll also notice that I didn't portion in any spending money. As a lolita, this will sound like suicide, but hear me out. Since I haven't had a stable source of income these past six-or-so months, I haven't been able to accurately estimate what I'd be able to save by mid-March. In fact, I only just met my minimum far more recently than I'd been hoping, and since I didn't want to have to worry about meeting an exorbitant budget, I set my sights as low as I could to make sure I got the basics covered. Even though I've met my minimum, I'm still going to keep saving, and everything I add thereafter is going to be counted as spending money. I don't recommend this method for big shoppers! To be honest, if I were to go again (and I hope I do!!), I'd make myself a budget and then save all my money up before I even made any arrangements or bought the tickets. It would really save me the stress, and since I'm sure I'll be a big girl once again with an apartment and bills and rent when I make the trip again, saving it all up first would be the best thing for me to do.

    My biggest concern is the flight. A few months after buying the tickets, I took a tumble on some icy pavement this past December and set off what my doctors are calling a case of "congenital spondylosis"- it has a fancy medical definition I'm sure, but all it means to me is that I can't sit for more than an hour (if that) without intense pain that goes all the way from my mid-back to my knees. I'm in physical therapy, but I'm very worried about having to be on a plane for fourteen hours straight; if I could have, I would've book a flight with a stopover or two, but it's too late for that. Adding to my worry is that I'll be flying an America-based airline instead of a Japanese one, something I told myself I'd never bother to experiment with. While I've had some perfectly comfy flights on a plethora of American airlines,  they really just cannot compare to ANA or any other Japanese ones I've used. Not only is there a small TV screen on the back of every eat, which you use a Wii-style controller to change the channel and sometimes play video games, but stewardesses come around every few hours with (if I remember correctly) iced tea, hot tea, and warm broth- and they wear the cutest uniforms! It was always so worth it. This time, though, I'll be flying Continental. We'll... see how that goes. I'll keep you posted.

    Like I said above, I'll be doing another post of a follow-up to this budget: was the ryokan worth it? Can one live off onigiri and ramen alone? Until then, here's an older article I wrote about Traveling in Lolita: Packing. And if anyone has anything to add to this, please let me know in the comments! Anything from suggesting places in Tokyo for me to visit to telling your own stories of traveling in lolita is welcome!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Decor: The Problem of Borrowed Space

    What's the first place you usually start when you decorate a room? In my experience, it's things like painting, getting new furniture, or replacing the carpeting- big changes that will drastically improve the look and personality of the room. Unfortunately, for some people, there's one problem with that: the problem of borrowed space. Simply put, borrowing space from others means that you can't do whatever you want with it. This encompasses a broad range of situations, but the most common are living with parents, renting an apartment, and living in a dorm room. In fact, one of my friends recently moved into her own apartment this past summer and asked me to write up some tips for her on ways she can make the space her own, so here goes!

    Walls: First and foremost, I'd start with your walls, since they're the biggest canvas you have. You could go with posters, especially common for dormers, actual pieces of art, or other. Posters can be found in many big stores, especially if you look during back-to-school time, for any price point from one or two dollars to twenty or more. They're versatile; they can be framed or even just hung with sticky-tack, pushpins, or double-sided tape. If you aren't living in a dorm, though, this can look a little...unsophisticated. I personally love to see framed photography or original paintings on the walls, but this can get pretty pricey- Beware! Try contacting some local artists, checking out coffee shops or galleries, or looking on Etsy or DeviantART. I firmly believe that everyone has some kind of artistic skill- if you're short on cash, plumb your abilities and come up with a few cute pieces yourself. This is really the best way to make your space really personal. I used to be fairly good at drawing, but since then have fallen out of practice; still, I made myself a cute poster for my room by writing on it in fancy lettering and coloring it in with markers and chalk pastels. Mirrors could be nice as well, and they make small spaces look bigger and more inviting, too. Some other small changes I've always loved the look of are fairy lights around the perimeter of a room, or hanging a simple string or length of twine between a few thumbtacks and using clothespins to hang photos or drawings from it. Note: Another thing to think about when you're renting or dorming: how are you going to hang? Posters are easy (see above), but anything heavy or framed can be difficult without putting a screw in the wall. Here's my secret: I use small Command hooks by 3M like these. They remove cleanly from every surface I've ever used them on, though sometimes it can take a little more elbow grease than the company likes to pretend! They also make hooks specifically for hanging pictures/frames, but I've never tried them.

    DIY it: A fun craft to make dress up your walls for little-to-nothing is to make your own wall art. Take an old canvas and staple some pretty fabric over it; you can either remove the canvas itself from the frame and use it as a pattern for your fabric, or just trace the frame and add three or four inches to each side. This extra space will give you enough room to attach it without the staples showing; you could probably also just hot glue it if you don't have a heavy-duty stapler. Can't find a canvas? Use thick, high quality cardboard or foam board. This is also good if you want to add some life to plain white walls- make long panels instead of your normal-sized ones. Attach a ribbon to the back to suspend it from a hook.You could also then cover your art with clear contact paper for a DIY dry-erase board!

    ♥Floors: This is something I completely overlooked in all of my decorating adventures until just this semester! I bought myself a nice area rug last month, and I was shocked at the difference it had on my room. It brings so much warmth and life in, especially if you have damaged, drab, or outdated floors, as well as being a great way to create visual movement and tie the rest of your decor together. If you're renting your space, there are a surprising amount of non-permanent options out there; by which I mean, I wasn't expecting anything to be available, so the few options I've discovered are more than I had initially hoped for! First, of course, there are area rugs. These are rugs meant to go over existing flooring while only covering a small area of the actual room. Besides that, there are: A. carpet tiles, and B. floated or floating laminate flooring. They're pretty much the same thing made out of two different materials: you buy a number of small pieces and assemble them over your existing flooring to cover the entire space (as opposed to a small area). Both come in many different colors and materials. Carpet tiles can be mixed and matched to create interesting patterns on the floor. Laminate flooring comes in some lovely finishes like faux marble tile and faux hardwood, and are usually made with a tongue-and-groove system that doesn't need glue (meaning one side has a notch in it and the other has a "tongue" that you click into the groove); the only problem is you need a power saw to cut the pieces to size. If you're just starting out on your own and don't have that kind of equipment handy, I would recommend going with the carpet tiles- they're easy to change, easy to clean, and can add a lot of color and warmth to a rented room!

    DIY it: When I was young, I read almost the entire series of Little House on the Prairie books, which (for those who aren't familiar with the American classics) detail the life of the Ingalls family in the Western frontier; in one scene, the two young sisters make their own rag rugs, something I've wanted to try ever since. In the book, they took old scarps fabric that were cut into strips and braided them together into one long braid, which was then wound into a circle and sewn into shape. This could be an adorable addition to a lolita's house in pastels, or if you used vintage bedsheets with small floral designs. For anyone who can crochet, there's a cute tutorial here, which I'm sure would be much quicker.

    Furniture: In dorms, you don't get to buy your own furniture; this is also true of pre-furnished rentals. As a matter of fact, in my dorm, you get in deep trouble if you try to remove the furniture in your room and replace it with your own (except, say, a desk chair, maybe). However, even if you have your furniture provided for you, that doesn't mean it has to stay drab and boring! For almost any type of chair or sofa, a slip cover can be created; this is a fitted piece of fabric that covers the item to protect or hide its finish or appearance. Desk chairs that can't be covered could get a cute chair cushion tied to them, or could potentially be painted (check with your landlord/RA first!) Have an unsightly bed? Mine's plain black metal with chipping paint perched on black plastic bed risers. A great way to disguise this is to get a long bed skirt, or, if you can't find one that's long enough, try a sheet that's a lot bigger than size of your bed or a long, rectangular tablecloth; fold it and lay it underneath your mattress. It'll cover up whatever you're storing underneath while still having a cute, shabby-chic vibe.

    DIY it: Another great away to dress up dull furniture is with throw pillows. Have a printed tote bag or cutsew that's too stained to wear, or that shrank in the wash? Cut it into a square or rectangle, turn fabric right-side-in, sew up the sides while leaving a few inches open. Turn it right-side-out by pulling it through the hole, stuff with batting or fabric scraps, and sew up the hole by hand. Voila! A custom piece that'll cuten up the scruffiest sofa or blandest bedset.

    For those of you who are borrowing space, what's your favorite way to cuteify your quarters without violating your terms?

    (pic credit: Photo taken by my friend Marrisa, photoshopped by me!)


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