Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 Ways to Remind Yourself You Rock

Have you ever had one of those moments where you're just completely brought down by something? Maybe you were having an excellent day, and then you spilled hot chocolate on your new coat, or you were caught in a sudden downpour with no umbrella and your favorite print was ruined. Even something so simple as being caught without sunscreen on a trip to the beach can just put a total damper on your day- or week, or month (as you suffer with that sunburn or that chocolate stain!). So what can you do to fight it?

  1. Buy yourself flowers that match your outfit
  2. Have one piece that you absolutely adore, no matter how it fits or looks on you. Maybe it's a dress, or skirt, or headbow, or whatever, but it just makes you feel so amazing to wear it.
  3. Buy a box of expensive truffles and a bottle of cheap white wine (/sparkling cider) and take a bubble bath.
  4. Surround yourself with people who love you and who will do anything in their power to keep you out of the dumps. You know-the gal pals you can call up any day to make a sucky evening alone into a night of chick flicks or horror movies.
  5. Find your "sick food." I have a certain brand of chewy chocolate chip cookies that I always buy when I'm feeling cruddy. I got a really awful cold a few years ago, and all I could drag my frilly rear out of bed for was Dimetapp, cinnamon tea with honey, and this huge bucket of cookies I got from the local supermarket. Now, whenever I'm ill or just feeling less-than-fantastic, those cookies are what I crave, and they always make me feel better about life.
  6. Alternatively, learn a recipe for a baked good that you can share with people you love. Giving to others really is a fantastic mood-lifter.
  7. Make yourself an "I Rock" folder on your computer. An idea I stole from my favorite business blog for crafty entrepreneurs, this is a folder on your computer that compiles all your best attributes: if I had one, it would be filled with pictures of my favorite coordinates, snapshots from outings with friends, articles that I was really proud of, and photos of my favorite creations for Amaranth Opulent. Maybe if you're an artist you could include your favorite pieces, or your favorite designs if you're a seamstress- whatever it is you do best, put it all into one place to remind yourself how much you rock.
  8. Keep room in your budget for a bit of retail therapy every so often. This weekend I bought myself a cute little schedule book from Kinokuniya- it's light blue with a cute pattern on it, lots of space to jot down notes, and even a map of the Tokyo subway system, which I'm certain will prove indispensable this March!
  9. Cull the unnecessary. You know what that means to you- the friend who only ever brings you down with her gossip, the slacker boyfriend, your own attempts to live up to others' expectations, or even the clothes you never wear from your wardrobe. Whatever it is that's cluttering up your mind, remove it from your life. Trust me, you'll feel so much freer after.
  10. Be spontaneous. Surprise yourself. Do something on a whim that you never thought you would do. I've told the story of my tattoo a few times on here, but it dears repeating because it's the one thing I've done in my life to permanently alter it, and I couldn't be happier.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Brazen Betties Vintage Expo!

    If you remember, on 12/11 I attended a vintage expo hosted by Brazen Betties Boutique as a vendor for my jewelry line. The event was wonderful! It featured a fashion show of vintage fashions/alterations and a Bettie Page look-a-like contest, and since Kayla and I were right next to the DJ's booth, we got the perfect view of everything!

    Our table:

    Say, Dolly!

    The lovely Kayla:

    Amaranth Opulent

    A few of the items I sold aren't going to be actually sold at the shop- I wanted to have more things on the table that would appeal to non-lolitas, so I busted out some cute lavender-filled sachets (shaped like cupcakes and acorns) and rose rings.

    What I wore:

    Some of da Betties! Yep... best seat in the house... I guess not at all times! The Betties lined up right in front of our booth, completely blocking us from view for the 45 minutes or so until they got everything for the show sorted out, and they also seemed to think we were involved in the contest as they kept demanding technical answers from us. Sigh... but a few of them came back afterward to chat and look at our booth, and they were very sweet. Must have been just nerves, I guess!

    A few other booths:

    All in all, I'd say the vintage expo was great fun and a wonderful experience. Call me up for next year's show!

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    Daily Outfit 12/19/10 and Holiday Crafternoon~

    This post brought to you by Christina's apartment, Photoshop, and a lot of sugar.

    On Sunday, 12/19/10,  I organized a potluck holiday crafternoon for the CT lolitas.We all arrived at my lovely ex-roomate Tina's centrally-located apartment for an afternoon of crafts, snacks, and frills. Our spread included salsa burgers, vegetarian chili (made by me!), and a crapload of sweets! I brought a bottle of sparkling apple cider, herb-infused hot apple cider, and eggnog cookies, as well as the veggie chili. There was also cinnamon-bun cookies, spice cakes, and Christmas-themed sugar cookies, as well as a few other treats. I think we ate more than we crafted, but that's kind of par for the course for me...

    Group shot:

    Above photo, from left: Rebecca, Lindsay, Jesi, me, and Savannah

    Random shot of some of the foods:

    It was so nice to see girls I haven't seen in a while! Jesi and Lindsay both go to school in Georgia, so we hopped on the chance to see them while they were home for the holidays. We vegged out, knitting, deco-ing, or making jewelry while chatting about TaoBao and our boyfriends' money habits. It was so relaxing, just hanging out with the girls!

    Here's what I wore:
    • Headbow and OP: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
    • Blouse: Innocent World
    • Socks: Betsey Johnson
    • Boots: Bodyline
    I wanted to go for a vintage-y look, so I put my hair up into some silly curls that reminded me of pin-up hairstyles. Here's a close-up:

    Speaking of hair, say goodbye to my lovely colors! I need to return to my desk job over vacation and for some of next semester, so I'm going to have to go back to natural colors. Not sure what I'll do yet- probably a nice, deep auburn. Any suggestions?

    So this is one of a few holiday celebrations I've attended this year! Seeing as it's Christmas and all, I figured now would be a good time to wish you....

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Out-Of-The-Box Lolita Dessert-Gifts

    One of the easiest things to get for someone one doesn't know well is a dessert of some kind. Of course, you should know these people well enough to know if they have allergies or dietary restrictions, maybe their favorite type of flavors, but in my opinion, a small platter or tin of sweets is one of the best ways to say "I'm interested in getting to know you better." Since personally I've met so many new lolitas in the past few weeks, I've been thinking of fun ways I can spread the joy of the holidays with these girls without breaking the budget. So I thought, what better way than homemade treats they can share with their family and friends? And yeah, anyone can just grab a box of brownie mix or make some cupcakes- everyone knows chocolate and cake are two of a lolita's favorite things. But of course, I'm too ~unique~ to resort to such common-place confections, so here are some of my ideas for lovely little treats that are simple to make or find, ultra-loli, and oft-overlooked.

    An assortment of truffles: nothing says gourmand like a truffle assortment, homemade or store-bought. For store-bought, I have a fantastic chocolatier that I visit when I need a really beautiful gift, but those things aren't cheap. Another option? Make up a batch of chocolate ganache (I almost feel silly linking to a recipe for it, it's so easy! Switch out the rum for a bit of flavored extract or butter if you avoid alcohol, but it'd really all cook out either way). Let it cool until it's almost the consistency of clay. Take a small ice cream scoop or melon-baller and scoop a few out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet or plate and roll them in your hands until they're little rustic spheres- think of actual truffles, which are similar to mushrooms and never perfectly rotund. Your hands will heat the chocolate a bit (this is a messy job- wear gloves!); this is okay, though, because it means they'll be wet enough to roll them in something. My favorite is a nice dark cocoa powder, but you could also do finely-chopped nuts, coconut, or sprinkles. This recipe for truffles disguised as cupcakes (picture above) is almost the same idea but a little less elegant, a tad more kitschy, and a great idea for the holidays! No time or effort? You can usually pick up a nice package of truffles at your local gourmet market or even some grocery stores.

    Petit Fours: The classier but oft-overlooked cousin to the cupcake. You can buy these at some bakeries, but an easy way to make these teatime staples is to make a sheet cake (make cake batter, pour onto greased & floured sheet pan instead of a cake pan or cupcake tins), then cutting the large cake into small one-inch squares. Thin cakes can be layered two or three tall and frosted (it'd be especially tasty with lemon curd or jam between the layers), or thicker ones can be covered in icing or fondant themselves. I always think these should come in delicate flavors, like lavender or green tea, but a simple chocolate cake mix would be lovely as well.

    Think past the macaron for exquisite french desserts. Palmiers are a relatively simple treat for beginner bakers, croissants aren't too hard, and for you pros out there, try dabbling in eclairs, cream puffs, or anything that uses Pâte à Choux. Not only will this be marvelously impressive for your new friends or meetup attendees, but it may be an excellent opportunity to learn and teach something new and fun about another culture, especially one so prominent in lolita as the French.

    Not French? No problem! Ethnic holiday cookies such as Pfeffernusse or Chrusciki, of which my mother makes a Hungarian version every year, are great ways to share your culture or try out a new one. Almost every country that celebrates a winter holiday has a traditional cookie recipe- look one up and give it a whirl! Try to put your own spin on it, too- for example, I once had Pfeffernusse that were covered in powdered sugar that had been infused with chai tea, and my mother's version of Chrusciki (which has been handed down through the family and we all only call "Hungarian Cookies") uses a filling of apricot or prune jam, both of which are traditional flavors of the motherland.

    Redefine a box of chocolates: Choices for this abound- either go to the store and buy a whole bunch of different candies like jordan almonds and other minis, or try to recreate your favorite childhood memory. Make homemade peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, chocolate-covered strawberries, nuts, or pretzels, cherry cordials, or caramels.  Protip: anything with chocolate will become rich and indulgent with a dash of instant coffee or espresso powder, and caramel goes amazingly with sea salt- fleur de sel if you can manage it!

    Sweet treats as holiday gifts are really nothing new- my boyfriend's mother is notorious for making huge platters of Christmas cookies for everyone she knows (seriously, huge- at least two feet across, and usually way bigger! Her kitchen is a designated cookie factory starting this week). It's no surprise- the holidays are a time to show people you care about them, and what a way to show your love for a friend or your eagerness for friendship with a new acquaintance. Honestly, if I had the time, money, and skill to bake or cook all of my holiday gifts, I would be all over it, because I feel like it's such a thoughtful way to show someone you've been thinking of them. These also would make such a sweet contribution to a potluck holiday meetup! Either way, baking and creating comforting foods is so wonderfully suited to the holidays- especially in my area, where we're sometimes lucky if the temperatures get above freezing this time of year; nothing sounds better than spending the day in front of a warm oven or stove, sipping hot chocolate while icing petit fours or stirring ganache into concoctions to brighten the dark, cold winter of those I care about.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    A Very Mori Winter

    Mori-Girl is becoming a bigger and bigger obsession of mine now that the colder months are unarguably upon the Northern Hemisphere. All I want right now is... well, a mug of frothy hot chocolate, but fashion-wise, I would be ecstatic to be covered in furs, knits, and thick wool tights. Many lolitas also wear mori-girl style (in my opinion, because a fashion about comfort is a welcome break from petticoats and corsets), but for those of us who don't, never fear! Here are a few ideas on how to have a very Mori winter:

    ♥Instead of decorating your door with a wreath, tie some pine boughs together with twine and hang that out instead.

    ♥If you celebrate Christmas (or even if not!), surprise your family this year by baking a bouche de noel. It's a chocolate rolled cake usually filled with chocolate mousse and decorated like a log, complete with wood grain and often little mushrooms or leaves made out of marzipan or meringue.

    ♥When I think of the holidays, I think of things that smell delicious and remind me of Christmases past. Buy a wax or oil burner and a scent like pine or cinnamon to scent your whole house all season long.

    ♥Wear your hair in looped braids, or if that doesn't work, braid pieces of ribbon or twine together and wear them as accoutrements- belts, chokers, or bracelets.

    ♥Pin some pine in your hair like people do with flowers in the summer. A small twig would be very pretty and smell lovely, but be careful of sap!

    ♥Speaking of scents, switch out your perfume for something earthy or crisp, scented with musk, amber, or bergamot.

    ♥Mori-girl is inconic for understated makeup, so instead of pink lip gloss and porcelain-doll blush, try a berry-colored lipstain or lip shimmer, that will hardly even look like makeup - something that will make you look flushed, like you've just come from a snowy sleigh ride.

    ♥Please, give your numb toes a rest from over-the-top heels! Find yourself a nice pair of tall brown boots lined with faux fur. I got mine at a vintage store in NYC, and I basically live in them as soon as there's the slightest nip in the air.

    ♥Knit earmuffs are really big this season. I've seen them in plaid, heart-print, and even with huge 3-D roses attached to them! Get some in brown or beige, lined with fleece or faux fur.

    ♥Take a walk in the woods while reading Robert Frost, a perennial favorite here in New England. If you've never heard of him, he popularized the saying "the road less traveled by" in one of his famous poems. For winter, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" is just too perfect.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    A very quick update- House keeping!

    Just a little note- some of you may have noticed that the layout is being switched up a bit. This is in preparation for a brand-new look to Miss Lumpy, something simpler and cleaner but still lovely and opulent. The main body area is now cream instead of light blue, making the words stand out more and making them more easier to read. The background has also changed- I loved the chandeliers in the last one, but it was just too busy and the colors didn't really match, so I made up this nice gradient one, instead. I might add some stars or something to it at some point, too!

    Also, you may notice I've removed my blog roll. This is because I'm trying to clean up my layout, and all of those jumbles of text just look crowded and busy. Instead, to clean it up a bit, I've added the contents of my blogroll to an "Inspiration ; Links I Love" page, which is linked everywhere on my blog by a small banner under the header, along with my other pages. Speaking of, since I've had some people express interest in working with me from a press standpoint, I've added a Press Page. This page includes information on my services as a blogger: reporting at events, advertising, product reviews, as well as information on how to hire me out for photography, modeling, etc. If you'd like any information on these services, please let me know!

    Further remodeling will be coming in the form of a very fancy new header (wait til you see what I'm planning!), as well as customizing a few other things in fun ways. Also, thank you so much for over 300 followers and 70,000 views!! And this is only in the nine months I've been on blogger! Thanks guys, I adore you all ♥

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Get Offa My Lawn! Lolita and Territoriality

    I've often said that lolita fashion should be for everyone. I feel that all girls have a princess inside of them waiting to be released, just as we all have Joan of Arcs waiting for something to fight for and Juliets confronted with something worth dying for. Like many lolitas, sometimes when I'm bored in class I sit and imagine dressing up my classmates in frills and petticoats and tiaras, just so they can feel it for themselves once. I'm one of those girls who was elated when brands started making larger sizes, not just for my own purposes, but because it makes this amazing aesthetic so much more accessible to the people who, arguably, may need it most. After graduating high school, I discovered that some of my friends in the class under me were buying their first frills, and instead of feeling replaced or getting hot-headed about having done it first, all I could be was happy to have played any part in introducing lolita to these girls' lives, no matter how small. In conclusion, I'm not one to get territorial over lolita. It's not mine, I don't own it, and therefore I feel no need to keep it all to myself. And anyway, it's kind of silly to try and keep your clothing style to yourself- everyone within a quarter-mile is going to notice a huge, walking cupcake!

    But sometimes I feel kind of alone in this. Everyone knows about the cattiness of lolitas, the stereotype that "lolitas are bitches" - I must be mostly meeting the exception to that rule, because a large amount of my lolita friends are even sweeter than I am (though admitted that's not saying much!) It's always seemed to me that lolitas are so harsh on newcomers almost as a form of hazing: if you can prove you can take the heat, you're worth your frills, but if you get offended or hurt, your name will be splattered across the front page of Get Off EGL and maliciously passive-aggressive Secrets will be posted about you. Now, I don't use either of these communities, and I've heard that they're getting much more docile, so maybe this is one of those "Back in MY day..." things; if so, then just assume I am speaking only of the past, commenting on the actions of girls who've grown up or quit the fashion. However, it has always seemed to me that this was almost a way that a newcomer proved she deserved the status of a "lolita;" she was allowed to call herself a lolita only if she could take the ugliness of this fashion as well as the beauty. That's honestly a very poignant sentiment, but what about those girls who can't? They, this argument would have to state, do not deserve any of our beauty. They need to remove their rose-tinted glasses and go back to the grayness of modern life.

    Now that doesn't jive with this princess. I'm of this crazy opinion that beauty is beauty, and that it belongs to the whole world, no matter your size or age or ethnicity or religion. That being said, even I get possessive of my lifestyle sometimes. This is my conundrum: I don't think any hopeful should have to pass through some kind of flaming hoop to be considered a follower of this fashion, but on the other hand, one can't just drop everything one day and simply decide to be a lolita. There are even times when I see someone in lolita and I get physically angry; she doesn't deserve this, she doesn't appreciate the beauty she's trying so vainly to emulate. That's the hardest for me, personally; I try my hardest to be non-judgmental in every aspect of my life, especially topics which already garner such hostility as lolita. If I do find myself judging other people, I tell myself that everyone gets exactly what they deserve in life, and if that's a nicer dress or better job than me, so be it. It's normal for people to be jealous or judgmental or territorial over things they love; however, that doesn't mean that these feelings should be indulged, nor does indulging it answer the bigger question.

    That question is: why? What good does it do the individual or the group to be so insular? Of course, I'm not saying that people make a conscious effort to be territorial- mostly it's an instinctual way for us to protect what's important to us, and it's not lolita-specific, either. How many times you heard of so-and-so being called a poser because they don't perfectly submit to a certain stereotype? Those who willingly fall under that label make a point to exclude those who don't. Maybe this action is a testament to how much they've given up, e.g. a normal lifestyle, to earn the title of "freak," and anyone who hasn't given that up just doesn't deserve whatever title they're striving for. However, in lolita, while lifestyle-ism is rampant and wholly encouraged (especially by me!), usually, no matter how far into the depths you get, most lolitas do have a non-loli side to them, whether that's the clothes they wear to work or the way they act around their friends. I'm not saying this is bad- quite the contrary! I think it's great- all lolitas have many sides of themselves, just like all people do, so why not express them?

    It also means that we're a little more immune to this idea of absolutism: "you're not doing it right" rarely becomes "you're not doing it enough," so while we're definitely more hasty to get territorial than your average Joe, the followers of other subcultures have been known to be even moreso (I'm thinking old school punk or goth here, simply because that's the only other subculture I've ever found myself involved with). Is this to do with the mainstream-ing of lolita fashion? Maybe. Once we're as household of a name as punk, when "cosplay lolita" becomes as common a fashion insult as "mall goth," I wouldn't be surprised if we started getting just as up-in-arms over purism as our alternative fashion predecessors. For now, however, it is important for us to remember that, while territoriality has its place (and I'm not saying we should be all open-arms-y to people who won't understand or appreciate this fashion), but if push comes to shove, I'm certain that she can protect herself just fine without us playing overbearing mothers. Besides- it's not like any of us own this fashion.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Amaranth Opulent at Brazen Betties Vintage Expo!

    I'm proud to announce that Amaranth Opulent will have a booth at the Brazen Betties Vintage Expo and Bettie Page Look Alike contest this Saturday, 12/11. I'll be vending with Pretty Pop Designs, Ophanim Gothique, and Say, Dolly. If you're a fan of vintage cuteness in the Northwest CT area, come check us out!

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Santa Baby: Angelic Pretty Only, Please!

     The Etiquette of Asking your Significant Other for Brand

    The holidays are always such a heartwarming time. Goodwill is in the air as people try to figure out what their loved ones want most this year and, more practically, how to give it to them. This is a particular challenge for those of us in relationship, though it's probably even harder for our lovers. What do you buy the lolita who has everything? More.

    Now, before any rallies up with a, "Well, in MY opinion..." I'm not saying that every lolita only wants lolita thing. I was ecstatic when, for my birthday this past May, my boyfriend presented me with a DSi, and of course the perfect gift for someone you love is something that comes from the heart. Since I'm in slightly dire straights this year as far as money goes (due to saving up for Japan on mostly what I can make through my business, since my job is giving me barely enough to life on), everyone in my life is going to be mostly receiving tokens of my love more than anything I think they'll actually... like. Or use. (Sorry, guys.) And I'm sure that any girlfriend, lolita or not, would love to receive a meal from their favorite restaurant, or a freshly-baked batch of her favorite cookies, or a framed photo of herself and her sweetie, as their holiday present this year. That's obvious.

    But, of course, these are the holidays, and like I said before, everyone is trying to give each other whatever they want most- so is it wrong to ask for brand? In my opinion, no, it is not. However, it's a sticky situation for a few reasons.

    First of all, and this is either going to be common sense to you or totally offensive, but not every relationship is brand-worthy. If you've been dating for two weeks, you probably shouldn't ask for brand; by which I mean, no matter the amount of time you've been dating, if you haven't established the deep, emotional connection that is expected for expensive presents, it's a bad idea. If your lover is not financially independent (has no job), IS financially independent (has to pay all of his/her own bills), or is financially independent but not financially sound (is scarping buy to pay bills/lives off ramen) you might not want to ask for brand - I wouldn't, at least. If he hates lolita (are warning bells going off?), you should really, really not ask for brand.

    There, now that you know that you're not going to sabotage your relationship with this question, let's discuss phrasing it. Remember that, no matter how much you've actually told your SO about lolita and brand, there are probably only two things they remember about it: one, that it's expensive, and two, that it's from Japan and therefore even more expensive. Therefore, simply saying "You know what you can buy me for Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice? BRAND!" will probably do nothing more than put them on edge and guarantee you a refusal.This step calls for tact, timing, and an understanding lover who will wait for you to finish before jumping to conclusions.

    I've found that the best solution is to find something you like that's within a sane price point, and present it to them in the following fashion: "Oh, wow, I really love this _______! It's on sale, too, I can't believe it. Were you still looking for a Christmas present for me? If so I'd really like something like this!" The ideas at work in this statement are that you're considering his or her budget, understandingly calling them out for not having bought you anything yet, and being straightforward and respectful about something they probably wouldn't have picked out or been able to find themselves. Sure, you could beat around the bush with something like, "Oh, I wonder if I could ask my parents for it...." or "Oh, I wish I had the money for this right now...." but to be honest, if you're in a mature relationship with another adult, it's much more respectful to just be straightforward. Hopefully, if they don't want to buy it for you (whether it's too much trouble to deal with shipping from Japan, or because they planned to take you out for a night on the town), they'll appreciate your maturity and repay you by being just as straightforward with their answer (tactfully, one hopes). In this instance, it's important to remain this maturity and not throw a temper tantrum, burst into tears, and ask when they stopped loving you.

    A little aside: speaking of politeness, it's important to note that, since there are so many second-hand sources available for brand these days, if you can possibly chose something from one of those websites, that would be the most considerate option. Of course, it's your decision, but unless you've been with your sweetie for upwards of a year, brand new pieces as holiday gifts are really a lot to ask of them, in my opinion. I've received brand gifts from lovers before, but I have never asked them for brand new, full-priced items, no matter how long we've been dating (When Stefan and I go to Japan, I might allow him to buy me something brand new if we're both there making the decision together and we both really love it, but even then, only if he offered first... I just feel bad even thinking about asking someone who loves me to spend that much on me). Of course, everyone has different ideas on the topic- I obviously don't know your relationship or any other factors that are at work here, so go with your gut. That's solely my own feelings on the matter.

    If you're anything like me, it's always awkward to ask for holiday presents, and even more so if you're asking for something expensive from someone you're in a relationship with. However, remember that you're romantically involved with this individual for a reason; s/he makes you so happy, you couldn't imagine life without them. Make sure you let them know this, no matter what you ask for this year. The beauty and magic of the holidays is being able to give the ones you love things that will enrich their lives, and remember that that is all your partner wants to do for you. As long as you respond in kind and give them a gift that you believe will truly speak to them and enrich them, they will be more than happy to do anything within their means to make you feel the same. Call me a romantic, but I do truly believe that that's the spirit of the holiday season.

    (PS- I'm sorry this post is so late! Usually I try to get each week's second post up on Thursday or Friday, but I was just so buys this week!)

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Lolita Heroines Dissected: Dorothy Vs. Alice

    Lolita is famous for iconicity: there are so many characters, prints, and styles that become inseparable from the masses' opinion of "lolita". There are always haters, of course, but the only real impact they have on the general opinion is to get annoyed by it- no matter what anyone says, if the lolita population has declared something iconic, it's here to stay.

    I was recently reading an article by fellow lolita blogger Raegan about how, despite the fact that so many people call Alice (Of Wonderland fame) their lolita inspiration, she herself considers Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz to be the ultimate lolita character. Now, I know that Raegan wasn't eschewing Alice or those who love her, but it occurred to me that many people chose "camps" when it comes to lolita idols: Misako to the left, Mana to the right, and so on. I find this interesting: while reading the aforementioned article, I realized that these two particular pop culture heroines particularly have much more in common than most realize at first glance

    Think about it: A spunky, curious young girl finds herself, entirely by accident, in a completely upside-down world. After a brief scene of falling through a confusing landscape that seems entirely influenced by various narcotics, she is immediately set on a journey that tests all of her might and drive to return home. She is helped by various creatures of a curious nature, unlike any she has ever met, and learns that even in this magical land, not everyone is a good guy. Eventually, through her own wit and pluck, she finds herself waking up and realizing that it was all a dream.

    Who was I just describing? Was it Alice, or Dorothy? You tell me, because at this point, I don't even know! One can even look at their appearances. In the original Tenniel illustrations, Alice is drawn with brown, wavy hair. In the Disney version, she wears a blue dress with white accents and an iconic hair bow, though she's now blonde. Brown, wavy hair, or blue and white clothing? Either way, the parallels to Dorothy can definitely be established.

    And their stories: Dorothy's method of transportation is a tornado, while Alice's is a tumble down the rabbit hole. Both are confronted during these scenes with the things in their own lives that confused them (Alice with concepts of latitude vs. longitude and thus the book-learning of grown ups, Dorothy with images of her horrid, witch-like neighbor). They both find themselves in a very odd landscape that bears similarities to their own, though still distinctly different. They are confronted with characters both to help (Dorothy's Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion to Alice's Cheshire Cat) and hinder them (The Wicked Witch of the West compared to the Queen of Hearts, both female characters in a position of power which they wantonly abuse) on their journey, which is winding and twisting and sometimes puts them in situations that are very, very uncomfortable and dangerous (The apple orchard and dark forest of OZ, and basically the entirety of Wonderland). Eventually, after a confrontation with authority, they both learn that they both had the power to go home all along: All they had to do was wake up. After doing so, they return to their lives with a new sense of confidence and maturity. The books themselves also have undertones that the young female characters have no way of picking up on: Carroll might have been writing his story under a drugged haze of pedophilic lust, and Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was seen as a political commentary on a Victorian society that he disapproved of.

    Of course, these aren't the only characters that lolitas identify with; the character one calls a fashion inspiration is very personal and may not, in fact, have anything really to do with fashion. However, if you look at some other common characters (Disney's Belle, for example, someone I personally identify with strongly), you will see definite parallels: almost all of them face some kind of confusing or terrifying situation that tests their abilities, from which they gracefully rise after using mainly their wit and perseverance to fight the bad guys, taking a valuable lesson about morality and the importance of trusting in themselves. I think that's why some lolitas need icons so much- it isn't a question of needing someone to turn to for fashion inspiration (though that helps); it's someone to remind them that there are others who have suffered at the hands of the "bad guys," the evils of their own society, and, instead of simply accepting their circumstances, fought for the life that they knew was best for them. Now, to the common person, these fairytales may seem a little odd to identify with. However, when you're walking down the street being catcalled or pointed at or laughed at, sometimes it helps to know that you're not the only one who's had to face the aggression of people around you, and it can be encouraging to remember that not only did these girls beat the baddies, but after all the fighting was over, they found their way home, knowing that they had proven their worth and their right to the life they fought for.

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Operation LoliBlog: Tools of the Trade

    In this edition of Operation LoliBlog, I want to talk about the little gadgets, gizmos, and knick-knacks that are designed to make your blogging experience better for you and your readers: Widgets.

    Of course, old-timers unlike myself can bemoan the bloated state of the blogosphere til the cows come home, but even they must realize that there's always one good outcome of a hobby breaking out from the underground and going global. That is, of course, the fact that as soon as something gets big, there's someone who wants to profit from it, and the people we are focusing on and acknowledging the hard work of are those lovely souls who design things that make our jobs easier - usually at no cost to the end user, either! Widgets, also called plug-ins, are small programs designed by professional web developers to make your blog run more smoothly, either by helping you connect with your readers or making it easier for them to access the information already on your blog. Some of them are even internal for your own use to increase the usability of your blog or your own edification about it, and your readers never even know they're there.

    For example, after providing useful content and creating a name or "brand" for yourself (more on the latter another time), the most important thing for a you as a blogger to do with your blog is keep track of statistics. This will tell you, at the very least, how many people you are reaching, and on a more advanced level, what sites they're coming from, what keywords they're searching to find you, and even where they are, sometimes down to the country, province, and even city. I always really enjoyed how the Wordpress internal stats were set up even though they aren't terribly in-depth, so if you're reading this from WP, congrats- you're probably all set. A few months ago, Blogger also set up its own version, a sort of dumbed-down Google Analytics, too- for the casual, curious blogger, this is probably plenty. However, for anyone who considers themselves "serious" in any manner, it is my recommendation that you install Google Analytics. The statistics you get from this site are incredibly in-depth, and it's customizable in that it can work for any level of seriousness- you could easily just keep track of your hits, but you can also make use of much more involved options like setting goals and comparing two different time periods. Why should you care? Because you can use this information for things like your own personal promotional needs (knowing what websites your readers are coming from means that you should promote there more or on similar websites), and also as leverage for companies who may want to advertise on your blog in the future. If the promise of future money isn't a good enough incentive to track your stats, I don't know what is!

    So, besides this, what are other goodies we can make use of in our blogging careers? Here are a few more of my favorites:
    • LinkWithin: Scroll down to the bottom of this post. You see those "You might also like..." links right above the comments section? LinkWithin creates links with thumbnails to other articles on your blog that relate to the each one individually. This is a great way for you to up your bounce rate, which is created by people clicking around between pages/entries on your blog.
    • Google Friend Connect and/or FeedBurner: Both of these are methods of creating yourself an RSS feed. Friend Connect is through Google and therefore Blogger, so it's already installed for all of us over here, and unfortunately because it's owned by Google, like Google Analytics, it can't be added to Wordpress blogs. That's why we have FeedBurner! FeedBurner creates an RSS feed for your blog or website; this means that anyone who wants to can follow your blog in this way instead. To be honest, I had no idea what RSS was or why it mattered until I read about it in Blogging In Style, where it was put to me this way: If you read 100 blogs and want to keep up-to-date on them, do you really want to check them individually every single day? Of course not! RSS feeds create a webpage that links to the recent posts of all of the blogs you're subscribed to, that way you don't have to go 100 different websites every time unless you know you're interested in the content. It's not really going to do that much to you as a blogger (though I do feel like Friend Connect builds a bit of a community feeling for me, and I love reading my followers' blogs!), but your readers will definitely appreciate it.
    • Twitterfeed: I just started using this, and it's great! I know a bunch of other Blogger-users have been struggling for ages to link Blogger with websites like Twitter and Facebook, so that they would update with a link to your most recent article as soon as you post it. That way, all of your friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter who may not subscribe to your blog know to run and check it right away, and you don't have to lift a perfectly-manicured finger. Effortless promotion? Yes please! This is especially helpful for gals like me, who type up their entries in advance and then schedule them to post at a later time/date.
    • Facebook Like Button: I don't actually use this baby because  Her Lumpiness doesn't have a Facebook Fan Page (though I do have one for my business), but you can see it on sites like F*** Yeah Lolita and Ramble Rori.This feature connects your Facebook Fan Page to your blog, usually either with a small graphic saying "Become a fan on Facebook!" or a full Facebook widget box saying how many people are already fans, a small description, if any of your friends are, etc. If you do have a fan page, this little guy is a must!
     These are the widgets that, to me, either seem or have proved to be the most helpful. Not interested in any of these? Good news- this is only the tip of the iceberg. I'm barely skimming the surface, and more importantly, more are being created all the time. A great site for finding more widgets is, aptly, Blogger Widgets, but remember- the more Javascript you have on your page, the longer it will take to load, so be sure to pick and choose carefully! If they're slowing down your site, you'll lose viewers and it doesn't matter how cool or helpful they are if no one cares to look at them!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    The Guy's Guide to Gifting - Holidays 2010 edition!

    It's that time of year again, kids! If you haven't yet started planning your holidays gifts... shame on you! Most of the holidays are only a month, a month and a half away, and no one wants to be stuck out in the cold waiting on last-minute packages. I'm planning a few different pieces this year on gifting, from gifts for the lolita to gifts ideas for all you gifting-lolis. I'm going to go with the former in this article and find some gifts that any lolita would love. This one, as implied by the title, is gear at "Guy needs gift for his lolita significant other," but don't let that stop you- these gifts were pointedly selected to be great for friends, family, or even acquaintances to buy the lolitas in their lives.

    These pretty, hand-decorated journals would make a lovely, affordable gift for the classic lolita. Imagine sitting at your desk in the winter sunlight with one of these and a fountain pen. Boys- it's very sweet to give girls things like journals, because it shows that you're being considerate of her thoughts and privacy. It's also very flattering because in a way it validates the idea of journaling to be given one by someone important to you - so often it's considered needless or indulgent to take down your thoughts. This would also be a lovely gift for a Secret Santa swap or somethnig along those lines. Have a crafty loli to buy for? Make her a "make your own journal" set, with a blank-covered book, some rubber stamps +ink, and a very nice pen.

    I'm a huge fan of calenders as holiday gifts. They're usually not terribly expensive, very practical, and a great way to show someone you know their aesthetic. The retro, country vibe makes this calender a wonderful gift for a crafty lolita on the sweet side, but you can find calenders of any subject matter, from cats to pin-up girls to landscapes. It's a great way to show your lolita that you know her style and what she's into while still giving her something practical that she'll probably actually use. Another cute idea in the same vein would be memo pads or to-do lists.

    Lolli Soap Tart Sampler by LolliLuscious
    A sampler of anything is a very sweet gift- perfume or chocolates would also be nice. It shows that you know she is interested in the subject, but not specifics as to fragrance/flavor. This can also be a great way to get to know your lolita, if she invites you to share! And these little tart-shaped soaps are perfect for just such an occasion - other choices maybe a set of molded soaps with her initials, a package of Imp Ears from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab or a similar store (brownie points if you know her favorite perfumery!), or a box of cookies from your favorite bakery.

    Other ideas:
    ♥Winter wear is cute and affordable, such as gloves, hats, or scarves. Brownie points if it matches her coat!
    ♥Speaking of winter, a container of spicy black tea or cinnamon hot chocolate
    ♥For S.O.'s specifically, a lotion, shower gel, bubble bath, etc. in YOUR favorite scent. She'll probably be glad for the input, and lotion or body wash are much less personal than perfume.
    ♥A stationary set
    ♥Low on cash? A framed photo of you two together and a sweet note on how awesome she is will always be touching.
    ♥A framed piece of art, if you want to get ballsy. This is pretty easy to mess up, so be sure you know her aesthetics and room decor perfectly.

    Still stuck? Well, that's why I made this convenient treasury for you!

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Spread the Love: Underappreciated Blogs

    I don't think I need to tell anyone how huge the blogosphere is. Even in our little microcosm, it seems like more blogs are popping up every other day, like crocuses after the spring rains. I feel like every few days, I see a blog on my friends' blogrolls and think "Who?! How long have they been around?" Usually, going to their sites shows pages and pages of posts on an impressive array of topics, often so much so that I feel a little embarrassed for having never happened upon their work before. At the same time, lately I've been going to friends' blogs and thinkings, "How can you have so few followers?!" So here's my way of thanking these lovely ladies for their work: whether they only have a few posts under their belts or if they've been around for years, here are some of my favorite under-appreciated blogs, all with less than 100 followers- go change that, they deserve it! ♥

    This sweet blog I only happened upon in the past few weeks. Rosalynn, a lolita from Western Europe, has only been writing her English blog Lolita Wonderland since this past July. Discussing not only beginner lolita topics like "Lolita Beginner Need-to-Knows and Must-Accepts" and "Taking a Bow for the First Time" but spanning an impressive range of topics including weight loss an internet addiction, this blog will appeal to lolitas of any experience level. It also made me embarrassed, as these things usually do, to be an ignorant American when I realized "Wait a second... she's blogging in a language that isn't even her mother tongue?!" And she's doing it well - I'm jealous!

    Is there anyone here who doesn't know Vivcore? I guess it's possible- she isn't as active in the comms as she used to be, but back in the day, Candy Violet was oneof THE beginner brands for American lolitas (and those abroad as well, I'm sure!) With better craftsmanship than In The Starlight and a lower pricepoint than Japanese brand, the first American lolita brand was definitely one to contend with. While she's mostly turned from lolita and to "quaintrelle" style (a term she coined herself as denoting any sweet, innocent style with a vintage or retro feel), her blog is a catalogue of not only her newest works for Candy Violet but also has the air of a peek into a bygone era. With subject matter that ranges from how-to articles for beehive hairdo's and vintage manicures to anecdotes from her daily life (such as her newly-aquired home soda fountain), this is definitely not a lolita blog but is a treat for anyone who loves the ~good old days.~

    This blog was one of the main reasons I wrote this post. Talk about a fount of sartorial knowledge, on top of a wellspring of inspirational eyecandy! Martha is one of the most knowledgable women I know in terms of all sorts of things, from eclectic Japanese street fashion to literature, which is clear from a blog that posts everything from outfit snaps to fashion advice to type-ups of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. Her write-up states, "I like nature, books, clothes, folklore and fairy tales, crafts, lomography, gardening, and oddities," and this is definitely indicative of the kind of content you'll find at this blog. If you have any interest in dolly kei and mori girl splattered in with your love of lolita fashion, like Martha, this blog is the perfect read.

    This is another one that's new to me! While I've known Aria for a few months now and had a vague inclination of her talents as a seamstress and designer, it was only recently that I realized the extent of her talents - conveniently, around the same time I discovered her blog. Aria is amazingly talented, especially considering the fact that she's still in school for fashion design! I don't know if she plans on starting her own line when she graduates or not, but I'm eager to see what she ends up doing with her skills after she graduates - and hopefully this blog will prove the perfect tool to keep an eye on her progress & success!

    Honorable Mentions (over 100 followers but still deserve more!):

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Photography: La Fille De L'avenir

    This weekend I was given the immense honor of playing official photographer for Dalin's thesis film, Le Fille De L'avenir (The Daughter of the Future). I'm in no way a professional photographer - just a girl with a good eye and a nice camera - but life has thrown my way a good number of opportunities to hone my skills, and I'm surprised to say that I'm getting to be more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it! I don't want to release any spoilers, so here are a few headshots I took of Crystal Arnette as Jolie, the swashbuckling gender-bending (at least for 1750's standards!) conscious of the leading lady, Victoria.

    We really liked that sword. Can you tell?

    I don't want to give anything away before the film's big release, so I'll leave you with these for now- but this isn't the last you'll hear of it! Dalin's promised me a press spot at the premiere, and afterwards I'll post some of the nicest shots from this Sunday's shoot. For Dalin's own blog post about the film, click here!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    ChocoMint Classic?!

    Am I severely behind the times?! I guess this might be what I get for not following communities anymore. Whether I'm just late to the party or not, these adorable classic pieces by ChocoMint are to die for. In my mind, ChocoMint is not exactly a brand- carried in Closet Child and usually known for doing cheaper replicas of brands like 6%DOKIDOKI, I supposed I had sort of relegated this shop to the likes of Bodyline. However, I stumbled across their Rakuten website earlier today and was shocked to see an entire section on their front page labeled "Classic," as well as a button link to their Alice in Wonderland line! In a style similar to the jewelry Innocent World has come out with the past few years, in the classic line there's a lot of deep, antique bronze with fairytale and woodland themes, and in true ChocoMint fashion, the prices are killer. Here are a few of my favorites:


    (Text: There's a rocking horse motif attached to the chain!)

    And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they're even having a sale on some adorable pieces, too! The only improvement I can see would be a brick-and-mortar store in Tokyo that I could visit in March... anyone have any clue?

    ChocoMint, I'm sorry I under-appreciated you so in the past! Can you ever forgive me?!


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