Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lolita Survival Kits

Just imagine – you've spent hours getting ready, perfecting your outfit and hair and make-up. You arrive at the ball, give your hair a little fluff in a window's reflection, and then, horrified, you see it. Whatever it is, you are mortified- how could you let this happen?! It was a horrible slight of judgment - how could you have forgotten _____?! Don't panic– you have your Lolita Survival Kit!

Level 1 – things to throw in the bottom of your purse before you leave:

  • Bobby pins and/or hair things
  • Tide-to-go pen
  • Lipgloss and mascara (both are make-up secret weapons, the two things that can most refresh your look)

Level 2 – keep in a little pouch, grab it on the way out the door:

  • A travel-sized bottle of perfume
  • Needle and thread and a few safety pins
  • Make-up remover, for smeared mascara or eye liner
  • Wisp toothbrush
  • Extra cash
  • Extra batteries for your camera
  • Tweezers

Level 3 – keep in the back seat of your car

  • A pair of pajamas for surprise slumber parties
  • Toiletries like deodorant and a toothbrush, also for surprise slumber parties
  • A change of shoes in case you step in mud or your shoes are somehow inappropriate – a picnic with friends is rained out and your heels aren't appropriate for clomping through the mall instead
  • Emergency weather clothes – gloves, hat, and scarf in the winter; tanktop and sandals in the summer
  • Extra cash, just in case – mentioned above but it bears repeating! You never know when you'll get lost and encounter a toll bridge
  • Rations – some candy, a granola bar – something not likely to spoil, just in case you go to a meet-up to find nothing you can eat. Don't pass out driving home after wards – just nibble your rations!
  • A book, in case you need to wait for someone.
  • A comfy cutsew dress, in case you spill something on your skirt and need to change
  • A cellphone charger, to reduce the risk of being stranded communicationless

Your lolita survival kit will make any situation manageable. Never fear make-up mistakes, follicle follies, or other awful alliterations again. Build your own today!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking Tea

I've been interested in tea very seriously for years. Ever since I started this blog, I've been meaning to do an informational tea post, but I've kept putting it off or for forgetting about it. Carolyn of F* Yeah Lolita's recent post about exquisite teas got my blood pumping again, and, doki-doki-ing away, I didn't have any choice but to write up my own article!

So, why drink tea? Of course it is ~so lolita~, but why? Well, if you consider its fabled health benefits, it may not be a surprise; while being incredibly beneficial to one's heart and immune system, it is also said to be good for the nails and hair, while boosting the metabolism and fighting diabetes (both important when nomming away on cakes at a tea party!). Green tea especially also employs a unique combination of chemicals: EGCG, L-theanine, and caffeine. These chemicals combine in an interesting way- the caffeine affects your body in a similar way as it does in coffee or soda, but the L-theanine and EGCG put your brain into alpha, relaxed brain waves instead of beta brain waves (which is considered the unhealthy "fight-or-flight" reaction) as is usual with caffeine consumption. What this means is that your metabolism is boosted and you feel more alert, but the uncomfortable anxiousness and nervousness are assuaged. There is also much less caffeine in tea (around 15 - 60 mg) than in other caffeinated substances, with soda at 80 -140 mg and coffee at 60 - 200 mg. This is why people trying to wean off the substance are recommended to switch a few cups of coffee to a few cups of tea a day.

So, what different types of tea are there? Technically, the three main types are black, white, and green. These all come from the same plant (Camellia Sinensis) and use the leaves; however, the difference in them is the fermentation, which affects each type profoundly. Black tea, the most common, is fermented longest; it's considered "fully-fermented," though technically the term "fermentation" is a bit of a misnomer in and of itself, because the process we give this name to is actually just allowing the tea to oxidize during the drying process- black tea is allowed to dry longest, and thus loses a lot of properties that less-fermented green and white teas keep in tact. The next level of fermentation is green tea, which, as stated above, keeps chemicals such as EGCG that black tea looses. White tea is considered the most healthful and luxurious, as it undergoes much more careful handling and a shorter drying period, keeping the most chemicals and health benefits. White tea drying methods are also used in Silver Tips tea, which is usually the most expensive type: this tea uses only first-flush young leaves (the newest, youngest, most tender leaves from the first harvest of the season) - if you can get your hands on this I really recommend it! Beyond those, anything else is considered an "herbal" tea, or tisane (pronounced "tee-zahn") - the only "true" teas are those using leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.
Now you know what type of tea you want to go for. Your next question is, loose leaf or bag tea? There are pros and cons for each choice. For example, bag teas are cheaper and more convenient, but you have to be more careful - a lot of tea bags are mostly filings, which are very low-quality "fillers." You have a much better chance of quality control if you go with loose leaf, as well as superior taste and more blending capabilities - obviously, I recommend loose leaf, but it's a bit pricier (look to pay $3 - 15 per ounce, with 3 - 4 servings per ounce) and harder to get a hold of. Try your local health food store, or online - my personal favorite sites are Rishi Tea and DiviniTea. They're also both Fair Trade, organic, and kosher, all of which are important to me personally. What that means is that the teas were produced by workers in fair, safe conditions without the use of harmful chemicals, using only the best ingredients - I recommend checking packages and looking for certification for all three when buying teas. For a loose leaf tea, you'll need an infuser of some sort - this can be an individual teacup, a whole teapot, or even a french press (my favorite is this one from Rishi Tea). You can even steep the leaves in a normal teapot, then strain it when you pour it into the individual cup. If you want more tips on the best way to brew Western tea, check out Victoria Suzanne's post here.

I have a deep personal love of tea. I spent six month working in an organic hippie tearoom, and it was by far the best six months of my life. I learned so much more about tea than I ever thought was possible, and from this I learned more than I could have ever expected about myself, inner peace, and balance. There so are many reasons people drink tea- love of the taste, its possible health benefits, or for the pure aesthetic value of taking tea with friends. What's your reason?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Decor: Little Bits

marginally related image c/o we heart it

Between redoing my room at my parents' house, planning my move back to school, and working for a kitchen appliance company that is expected to be fluent in interior design, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about decor. Today I was going through the newest issue of a design magazine we carry and was stunned by the trends I noticed - light, airy colors with Victorian detailing and scrollwork in the molding were greatly appreciated, but the thing that made me doki-doki most was the use of everyday items as focal points- things that may have been put there to grab attention but also look like they were just sort of put there, grew accustomed to their new homes, and never left. I love this trend - it seems so natural &organic to me. It's also a really easy way to transform a room - clear off a table and add a sweet, simple centerpiece and you can really transform a room.

I've put together a few ideas for simple, quick attention grabbers based on what I've been seeing in design magazines. I tried to base these around a sort of dreamy, fairytale-y, vintage-y aesthetic that I think my darling lolis would find inspiring. Hopefully these will help you all add a little more romance to your room!

  • Buy a few pretty, intricate photo frames. Instead of pictures, put a black and white print, a small mirror, or even a handmade silhouette!
  • Cake stands &tea trays: Use these to display little tchotkes, jewelry, or even as a perch for your picture frames.
  • A vintage tea set would look adorable as a focal point on top of a dresser, breakfast table, or vanity - bonus points on the latter if you use the sugarbowl &cream pitcher to hold your jewelry! Or even make-up - imagine an array of colored eyeliner pencils and mascaras sticking out of a little teapot.
  • Everyone knows a bouquet of flowers will do wonders for brightening and perfuming any room, but if you're looking for a more natural, organic feel, try a bundle of herbs like lavender or mint instead.
  • If you DO want flowers, get a low, shallow bowl, fill it with water, &float some blossoms in it. Please note that flowers will die sooner in this method than a vase!
  • If you'd rather get some more lifetime out of your bouquet, get a pretty glass wine bottle, remove the label, and use it as a vase for a bouquet of long-stemmed wildflowers, like Queen Anne's Lace of a branch of forsythia.
  • Buy (or convince someone to give you!) a bouquet of roses. Instead of throwing them out when they start getting brown, tie the stems together with a string and hang them upside down to dry. Gravity will keep them from getting wilted, so once they're totally dry you can put them in the vessel of your choice or - as I prefer - just leave them hanging by a window or on the outside of your door.
  • Leave china teacups of potpourri around - customize the blend with hand-dried roses from above.
  • Fill small, decorative bowls with prettily-wrapped candy and leave it on your bedside table or the shelf of a bookcase.
  • Buy an empty glass lamp from your local craft store. Fill it with shells, buttons, fake flowers, or anything else that suits your fancy.
  • Use colored lightbulbs in a few lamps or sconces. I used to have amber ones in mine, and it gave my room a dreamy look like it was eternally sunset.
  • Fill your room with vintage clocks of all types. Watches hanging from a nail to the wall, alarm clocks on the bureau - to make it even more Wonderland, set them all to a different time.
  • If you have a dressform, dress it in that dream coordinate that you always want to wear but never have an excuse to.


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