Monday, 16 December 2013

December 2013 Taobao Order Collage

*Listening to: As it is in Heaven by Angelspit*

Hello! Since I recently did a Taobao order early December that should be with me late December-early January, I made a collage of all the items I bought to keep my excitement topped up! I also realised I might have slightly gone overboard when it comes to stationary...more specifically notebooks...but is there really such a thing?! I don't think so and they were all so cheap anyway so whatever! Plus I think...well, hope that I got the 'OMG CHINA IS SO CHEAP I MUST BUY EVERYTHING REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I NEED IT OR NOT' is all out of my system so that when I come to place another Taobao order, I don't go out of control and/or can buy items I need or would like. It's been a long time since I bought much that isn't from a charity shop, plus my mama gave me some money to buy some items for Christmas so it really isn't that much...mweheheheheheh...


There is a lot going on in there! XD I apologise for not making it look prettier, it was quite hard work making it look the way it does now haha! I didn't buy too many clothing items this time; more fashion staples I'd like for many fashion styles, like hair pieces, jewellery and accessories. Plus a shit load of stationary, as you can see.

When buying more than a few items at a time, I concentrate on the fashion styles I'd like to buy for at that moment in time rather than try and buy everything I want that I see. I had some creepy cute items I wanted to get but decided to buy them at a later date and have a big creepy cute haul. The fashion styles I really want to dress in/add to are Dolly Kei, Goshikku and Rokku Gyaru and general Gothic everyday style.

I'm in need of cute tops so I bought a few cute cutsews from Boubou21, a waistcoat/bustier for Lolita from Chess Story, a black bell shaped petticoat from Classical Puppets (I sold my white one to buy this one as even though my white one has served me well these past few years, I rarely ever wear light colours.) and a black lace tube top for layering under other items of clothing from a small random Taobao store called Sexy House. I only bought from there as they had the nude vein tights (top right) in stock whereas a store I'd previously ordered from didn't, so I added a couple more items to the order to make it worth it, including a cute black standable rose mirror for travel and the aforementioned tube top.

Like I mentioned before, I am in desperate need of tights so I bought 9-10 pairs of tights for everyday use, including various designs such as the fake over-the-knee sock style, vertical stripes, polka dots and rose lace. I wasn't going to put every single pair on the collage though haha!

There's quite a cool little Taobao shop called Daruma which carries alternative and Japanese fashion items and cosplay items. They carry lots of printed tights and socks including the fake thigh high sock style with Kumamon, cats and Totoro on, creepy cute and general fashion jewellery and accessories, false eyelashes and generic cosplay items such as gloves, seifuku items and glasses. You can get a few of the printed tights cheaper elsewhere, such as the tattoo style ones, fake thigh high sock ones and others.

The items I bought from Daruma:

Apparently the false eyelashes are for a cosplay of Alice Phil from Fate/Zero but I got them just because I think they're cool for Gothic fashion, a la Adora Batbrat. XD The aviator goggles are for Gyaru and Steampunk and I got the scarab ring in antique bronze for Dolly Kei as well as general fashion. It seems the muscle tights are unique to them as I searched on Taobao and only leggings came up. I've seen the muscle leggings on eBay and other places as well as but I much prefer tights. I like that the BJD tights have the ankle joints too, plus they're printed on 80 denier fabric so I hopefully won't rip them on the second wear. (I have awful luck with tights ;-;) They carry Grimoire replicas but I would never buy them - I highly doubt the quality will be as good and I always try and support authentic brands as best to my knowledge. As far as I'm aware, the muscle and BJD tights aren't replicas of any brand; I know Lockshop did BJD tights but they didn't have the ankle joints and were flesh and black/shadow coloured rather than white and purple. Plus there were Japanese brands that produced BJD tights before Lockshop too as well as Ophanim so it's not a copyrighted concept to me.

I've been wanting to do more things to my hair but I don't always have the time to curl it and my bun abilities are pretty awful. XD Therefore I wanted to get some hair pieces that I can just throw my hair into a ponytail/crap bun and stick the hair pieces on top for instant adorable hair. I got the cutest black curly hair pieces with pink and red flashes for ponytail and twintail looks:

 photo hair_zpsa248cc4f.jpg photo hair2_zps82a90843.jpg

I wanted lilac for creepy cute and Fairy Kei fashion too but since I'm not buying for those styles right now, I left them for another time! I think the red ones will look so cute with Rokku Gyaru. I got two buns for, well, bun hair styles, a braided headband and straight clip-in pink and red hair extensions for pretending I have red and pink flashes when my hair is down too XD I got these items from Caterpillar's Accessories - not because they are the cheapest but because it worked out cheaper to buy a few hair pieces I wanted from there rather than separate, cheaper stores as the postage for each item didn't work out cheaper in the end. I also got the other few items I wanted (buns, plain black curly hair pieces) from Taomei Everyday - both stores have good prices and all items arrived at the courier warehouse in China in a timely fashion - I'll comment on the quality when I get the items!

I got tons of jewellery and accessories from two very cheap stores with a great selection - Meimei6968 and Let's Smile.

Items I got for Dolly Kei/general Gothic fashion include:

Antique stag deer earrings, necklace and brooch
Antique bronze cameo bracelet
Doll eye ring and bracelet
Claw ring in silver and gold
Large statement bronze necklace

Items I got for Goshikku Gyaru/Rokku Gyaru and general everyday fashion include:

Bronze and leopard print heart ring and earrings
Bat stud earrings in bronze and silver
Skeleton hand stud earrings in gold and silver
Black cross bracelet
Silver cross bracelet (I thought it was a necklace, check your translations/pictures folks!)
Tiara ring in gold and silver
Spike necklace and bracelet in gold
Black and gold spike hoop earrings
Gold bone bracelet
Gold wrap-around snake bracelet and ring
Red and pink devil horn hair clips
Red and black studded headbands
Claw ear cuff in silver and gold

And then...onto the stationary...XD I ordered from three stores - 66650 for higher quality, hardback notebooks/journals/planners and a cute stationary organiser, Shop 100731414 for pens, general stationary (erasers, glue sticks, stapler set, etc.) and a few thinner notebooks and 8280 for stamp sets, ink pads and a couple more notebooks for good measure. I did want some stickers but I figured if I get stamp sets, I can have that stamp forever whereas once you use a sticker, it's gone. Stamps are like the economical version of stickers. XD Shop 100731414 were also selling 2.5m rolls of decorative tape (not sure if it's washi tape since it's not made of paper/masking tape in style) for just 4p I bought 100. XD They are all random designs and I'm still dubious as to whether they will be actually rolls of tape for 4 pence each but even if they aren't, I've only wasted £4 and I'll use them somehow.

Some of the adorable notebooks I bought:

I got the top left in pink - the top right says 'Magic Spells Journal', how precious is that?! ;-; The bottom left are vocabulary books so I bought one in light pink for Japanese! The bottom right is a 'Simplanner' - along with a couple more planners I bought, I got this in red and will jazz it up with some of the stamps I bought!

So right now I am just waiting for a few other orders for my friends to arrive at the warehouse, then our items will be shipped off to me and I can swim in all the loveliness...if you'd like a review of any of the items or shops, as well as links, let me know!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

I'm Not Dead!

Hello all! Just a quick update to apologise for my absence - I'm not dead, honest! I do have some posts in the works but two of them are quite intensive and involve a bit of work but I have no doubt they will be informative, useful and hopefully popular!

I did a Taobaou group order recently and we're just waiting for a few more bits to arrive at the courier warehouse so I am making an in-depth article on how to order from Taobao yourself. You could possibly even use the article to just browse Taobao and be able to work your way around the website a bit more. However, I won't post it until our items have been sent off from China so I can document the whole process for you guys. Then I'll obviously make a big haul post and show you my goodies haha!

Actually I've made a collage of all the stuff I bought so that will just be a fun post soon. I might have gone a bit overboard but is there such a thing when it comes to shopping?! XD

I'm also in the midst of making a 'Best Photograph Editing & Purikura Apps for iPhone' article which I hope will be useful. When I first got my iPhone, I downloaded a ton of photography editing, lighting effects, collage making, beauty editing and purikura apps to use and let you know which are the best and which to not bother with. I've done all the main ones I use but now I'm going through all the ones I forgot about and never use - hopefully I'll find some hidden gems I'm all the better for discovering!

I'll also do a couple of Lolita Blog Carnival and fashion questions (you know, like those 'Lolita meme questions', 'Gyaru meme questions', etc.) just for fun and whilst waiting for my Taobao items to arrive! I'm currently trying to make my life a bit more organised so I will try and have more time for blogging since it's such a good place to obsess over fashion, rant and maybe even put more personal issues on, even if people don't care haha. XD Don't worry, I'm not one of these special snowflakes who posts every little complex, dirty little secret and confession on social media - totally the opposite actually, I have a pillow book for that (more on that later) but I figured if I'm going to write a blog, I want it to be a bit more personal and you might wanna get to know me a bit better! Maybe?

I'm really excited to start up blogging again so I hope to see you soon, my lovely readers! Thank you so much for coming to my blog, reading my thoughts, commenting, following me and basically showing me people care - I have such a 'nobody cares' thing going on so it's relieving to perhaps think otherwise.

See you very soon, sweets <3

Friday, 22 November 2013

Lolita Blog Carnival: What My Family Think About Lolita Fashion

* Listening to: Die Milch - Dynamite *

Hello everyone! It's time for a Lolita Blog Carnival topic! This week's winner was 'What My Family Thinks About Lolita Fashion' so read on for my personal view!

I became aware of Lolita fashion when I was around 14-15 through finding Nana Kitade after watching Fullmetal Alchemist. I began learning about all the different styles, rules/guidelines, where to buy the clothes and what made a good Lolita. I showed my mum and mama (grandmother) the style and clothes I liked, Gothic Lolita, and asked if I could have some for Christmas. I have been into Goth fashion since I was about 11 so in terms of adjusting, showing my family Gothic Lolita was much easier to accept than if I were to do a 180 and declare I want to be a Sweet Lolita.

My mum was still believing that my Goth fashion was a phase so she thought this 'Gothic Lolita' fashion, or as she called it, 'Andy Pandy frilly froo-froo nonsense' was just another phase. Because she thought it was a phase, she just let me know that she thought it was a bit creepy and childish, like I wanted to dress up like a little Victorian girl or porcelain doll, which was the exact thing I wanted to do. XD Like my Goth fashion, she refused to buy me the clothes for Christmas and birthdays.

My mama was a little more forgiving and although she thought it was a little weird and 'little girl-ish', we met up with a seamstress friend of ours who owned a market stall, I showed her a dress, petticoat and skirt I liked and my mama agreed to let me have them as Christmas gifts. I wore the dress to my first Lolita meet in Nottingham and thus began my love of Lolita!


Fast forward a few years and my family gradually learned that both Gothic and Gothic Lolita fashions were not a phase in my life. I wanted everything to be pretty, cute and dark in my life! As I got better at the fashion, they realised my individual style and that Gothic Lolita is a lot more mature than I first suggested at the tender age of 14.

Now my family view Lolita as a part of me - they know I love weird and wonderful fashion styles like Goth, Lolita, Steampunk, Cyber and more recently, Dolly Kei and Gyaru. Whenever someone compliments me on my fashion style or outfit, either my mum or mama proudly exclaim 'Ooh, she's a Lolita, she buys all her clothes from Japan and China or makes them herself' whether or not I'm actually in Lolita or whether my clothes are from Japan, China or handmade. XD I think it's really sweet as they must see me as being a Lolita even when I'm not dressed to the nines and that it is something to be proud of, being an individual. People usually stare at me no matter what I'm wearing and since I was about 16, my mama has always said 'Yeah, what are you staring at? Go on, take a photo! You're just jealous!', much to my chagrin haha. I always tell her it doesn't bother me and that I'm used to it but it's sweet she feels like she has to protect me.

Since the beginnings of my alternative fashion loves, my mum and mama have slowly learned the sub-style names, names of Lolita brands, even Nana Kitade, the friends I regularly meet at meet ups and now they're even remembering the names of other Japanese fashion styles I'm starting to dress in, such as Dolly Kei. Again, it's super sweet that it has sort of stuck in their head through the years - either that or so annoying that I must mention it so often! Now they ask me when my next meet or social occasion is, what I'll wear and who I'll see there. They remember who is who, sort of, and know who my best friends in the fashion are. I'm really glad they have accepted it as a part of me and I hope it will continue for many more years to come!

Want to be a part of Lolita Blog Carnival? It's for Lolita bloggers who vote on a topic each week, then write about the winning one. You can enter as often as you like and share links of your fellow bloggers to read their posts! This is who participated this week!

Lace a la Mode
Suns in Our Hands

Friday, 15 November 2013

My Personal Take On Japanese Fashions: Dolly Kei

Okay, so this time I will actually write the post I intended to write about fashion instead of diverting to Transformers (Iloveitsomuchokay)! After Doki Doki I wanted to do a Taobao order with a few friends so I've been browsing Taobao for the past few evenings, for hours at a time. XD I have wanted pretty much everything but had to limit it down by reminding myself this isn't the last Taobao order I will ever do - I will, in fact, place other Taobao orders so I don't have to empty my life savings into this group order!

When I buy more than one or two fashion items, I usually choose what I want by choosing which fashion style I want to buy for, or what items I really need at the moment. I really want to dress in lots of Japanese fashion styles but sometimes I end up buying things that, even though they are quintessentially Mori Girl, Dolly Kei, etc, they might not suit me and my personal style. Therefore I thought it'd be fun to take a fashion style I want to dress in and give my personal take on it, saying what I like and don't like in the fashion, what I'd tweak to suit me and even add in things that might not be considered 100% Mori Girl, Dolly Kei, etc. Today I'll pick Dolly Kei as I bought a dress on the other week, I've just bought a grey waistcoat to match and have been feeling in a 'Dolly Kei' mood ever since! E5P doesn't have amazing stuff all the time but it has some great hidden gems and their shoes are amazing for £5. I got these beauties the other week for, yep, £5!


If you don't know what Dolly Kei fashion is, please see my post about it here!

When most people think of Dolly Kei, they immediately think of Grimoire, a vintage thrift store in Tokyo created by Nomura Hitomi (pictured above in the yellow). She sources all kinds of items suitable for Dolly Kei fashion from all over the world and I'm extremely pleased to be able to say I met her at Frock On earlier this year. She is so lovely and the success of Grimoire means she has been able to design her own items suitable for Dolly Kei (and other) fashion styles such as tights, iPhone cases and perfume.

Interior of Grimoire, fashion shop in Shibuya, Japan.
This photo pretty much sums up Dolly Kei fashion for me. Dusty, creepy, warm antique bronze tones, browns, golds, black, taxidermy, magic, alchemy, the occult, pinned butterflies, heads in jars, apothecaries, etc. Other motifs I love in Dolly Kei are fur, embroidery and general texture stuff like knits, studs, etc. and insects and witch and occult themes.

layered skirts!

Things that I love, or would love to wear in Dolly Kei include pretty prairie style dresses from brands like Gunne Sax, intricately designed tights, velvet, fur, lace, crochet, cute hats, weird jewellery with things like taxidermy and doll parts on, brooches, antique style rings and a satchel or book bag.

Harajuku girl in Grimoire, Tarock with Ricco &amp; Qosmos vs guy in top hat, round glasses &amp; lots of silver jewelry. The guy is one of the fanged models in our recent Fangophila video!

Things I've found that don't suit me in Dolly Kei are long skirts, tons of layering (really need to strike a balance between cute layering and frumpy layering >_<), long cardigans/layerables that make my waist disappear and make me look frumpy and flat shoes. Basically it's all stuff that is very hard to get right unless you have the right cut of item and body shape. I don't consider myself fat but I'm not skinny either so it's easy for me to look frumpier/fatter than I am in fashions like Dolly Kei and Mori Girl.

dolly kei

Things I want to do to make my personal Dolly Kei style more 'me' is that I want to make my version more glamorous. I want to wear shorter skirts like below in order to make me not look so frumpy XD Lots of wide belts too, to cinch in my waist and add to the 'I'm not frumpy, honest' thing I'm trying to go for. I think it's still possible to layer items like cardigans and peignoirs and still look unfrumpy - I'd really like to try wearing the wide belt over the outerwear for an interesting look! Also waistcoats have to be a bit cropped in order to not make my waist disappear - either that or wear it with a belt underneath! The military inspired jackets with braid and fringe are really cute!

dolly kei

I also wanna wear big high heels and amazing shoes with my amazing tights! I don't mean stilettos, I mean chunkier shoes like above. Basically that girl is my whole inspiration. XD I want to have a sort of glamorous witch or gypsy look with really pretty hair and make-up too! I know Dolly Kei make-up is more natural but I would wear circle lenses and false eyelashes with it (not saying girls don't already wear them with Dolly Kei) and have the whole doll thing going on with my make-up.

Dolly Kei. Japanese fashion. bohemian
I bought these tights at Frock On, oh hohohohoho

I really love the amazingly patterned tights that Grimoire popularised and expensive tights adds to the glamous haha. I'm going to add a few pairs of tights to my Taobao order including some black and gold cat ones (maybe the black, red and gold version too if I can afford it - total Dolly Kei colours!) and the vein style tights that I adore. I would only ever buy original Grimoire tights and I try so hard to not buy replicas but I don't think those mentioned above are replicas? I haven't seen them around. Lace ankle socks with heels would have a really cute doll vibe too.

Dolly kei

Other things I wanna wear with Dolly Kei are cute hats and hair pieces! I really need a 'Hat 101' course to try on all the styles of hat and see what suits me...I feel really silly in hats for some reason and like none of them suit me. XD Cute motifs like berries, needle felted animals, small taxidermy skulls, creepy insect items, etc. will adorn both my hats and hair pieces as well as lots of lace, fur and perhaps feathers. I told you it was glamourous!

Dolly Kei

 I would also like lots of shrugs and boleros to wear as they really help pull an outfit together and can change up the look of an outfit easily. I have a black velvet shrug with a fox fur collar at home and I love it to pieces for a real UCG (upperclass Goth, courtesy of Adora Batbrat/Iva Insane) vibe and I feel it'll work really well with Dolly Kei too. Accessories I'd like to buy/make to wear with Dolly Kei include lots of antique bronze, cameos and book page cameos but I'd also like to try and make some lace collar necklaces, tassel necklaces and belts (maybe even bracelets!) and buy some taxidermy items, especially a necklace reminiscent of the one worn by Ginger and Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. Wooden items such as brooches would be nice and I'd love to try some of Rekami Stworzone's real insect jewellery!

I think if I'm able to put all this together, it could turn out really cutely and interesting! I'm really looking forward to browsing Taobao yet again and finding items suitable for my new 'glamorous gypsy witch' look! I also want to make new items and possibly upload them to my store if other people like them! Thanks for reading, if you have any tips or questions, please feel free to ask!

What Started Out as a Fashion Post Turned Into a Rant About Transformers

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in a little while, I just went to Doki Doki, a convention in Manchester over the weekend and I was selling my items there so I've been very busy making new stock and getting things ready. Now I've gone and done Doki Doki, I'm busy re-ordering supplies and new business cards, banners and displays for my shop haha!

However, I wanted to take time out to blog a little - so, what's been going on other than Doki Doki? Well, me and my boyfriend have been watching the original 80s The Transformers cartoon, which includes two seasons, a movie and then another season and a bit. I have to admit, I wasn't really interested at first but I succumbed as I made my boyfriend watch all of Fullmetal Alchemist so he sat me in front of Transformers. I have to admit, I'm in love. *0* Not just a little but a lot! I love it so much! It's sooooo cute and twee and amazing...up until the 2/3rd of the movie and the rest of the TV 'series'.

I have never been so traumatised in my life. They show you all these cute little robots (well, not 'little'...well, some of them are.) with individual personalities, accents and they all transform into cool things like tanks and fire engines and guns and shit, then they (SPOILER ALERT) kill them all off in the movie to make way for new, shit Transformers just to sell new toys. They literally get rid of almost everyone from Season 1 and 2 including the MAIN FUCKING CHARACTERS, Optimus Prime and Megatron by killing off Prime, turning Megatron into 'Galvatron' and replacing Prime with the shittest leader in existence, 'Rodimus Prime', formally known as Hot Rod. Even his new leader name is awful.

Not only do they get rid of Megatron but they also kill off Starscream which, as everyone who likes Transformers knows, Megatron and Starscream are the best part of Transformers. They kill off Iron Hide, the straight talking Texan, Wheeljack, the mad scientist from New Jersey, Red Alert, who everyone hates (not really), the cutest grumpy characters in existence, Huffer and Gears, and then just either never show other characters again (like Mirage, Hoist, Grapple, Inferno, etc.) or phase them out halfway through Season 3 (Seaspray, Rumble, Laserbeak, etc.).

I've been in mourning by watching the Abridged episode mash-ups by Dr. Smoov and contemplating watching Season 1 and 2 again whilst crafting just so I can pretend that everyone isn't dead. I've been quoting Transformers left, right and centre, especially the Abridged versions ('You look like the face on a Quintesson's ass.') and crying about how awesome the third season would've been if they'd have kept the original characters in. The Quintessons are creepy as shit and the Junkyions are awesome and cute (especially Wreck-Gar, who is really the only one you get to meet, except his adorable girlfriend in one episode) so the 3rd season would've rocked if they hadn't killed everyone off to make and sell new toys. It sucked so much they managed to get Transformers cancelled in just one season after the movie. I cannot imagine the horror of hundreds of 5 year olds crying at the incredibly drawn out death of Optimus Prime ('Until that day...'till one are all...) in the cinema. That has to be the saddest thing in the history of all sad things.

Everyone complained about the death of Optimus Prime (complained or expressed their utmost despair and horror?) so Hasbro/the cartoon company brought back Prime ONLY TO KILL HIM OFF AGAIN. They were then told that they wouldn't have the funds to continue The Transformers after season 3 so they pleaded for another 3 episodes which made up season 4, in which they brought back Optimus Prime for good and tied up loose ends. It still sucked. My favourite characters are Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Rumble, Huffer and Gears but mostly the Decepticons because who doesn't love the bad guys?

What did start out as a well-intentioned post about Dolly Kei fashion turned into a rant and rave about Transformers. Sorry, not sorry! I will now write the Dolly Kei post and leave you with the knowledge that I love Transformers G1. End of story.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Rasputina @ Purple Turtle Camden + A Review of Travel Joy Hostels Chelsea

Hello all! How are you today? I slept for a long time today as I went to London on Wednesday and returned yesterday. I went to see one of my favourite bands, Rasputina as they were doing a UK tour and I couldn't miss the opportunity to see them. I'm not sure if they've been to the UK before or if they will come again so I didn't want to miss out!

I went via coach as it is super cheap - if I book in advance I can normally get single tickets for £5 each (for some reason coaches don't offer return tickets, probably because they are so cheap in the first place) but I left it a bit later this time and got two single tickets for £7 each - shock horror, two whole pounds extra! XD It takes a little longer to get there by coach than train but as long as I have music, a book, Gameboy or DS, snacks, etc. I'm fine! My bum ends up hurting and my left ear from my headphones pressing on my scaffold piercing for four hours but it's a small price to pay! XD

I went with my friend Jess and we hung out in Camden for a bit like proper stereotypical Goths. XD The gig was at The Purple Turtle, an indie/alternative bar near Mornington Crescent so we didn't wander too far away. We went to a cool alternative pub called The Devonshire Arms before, met a couple of Jess's friends and then headed off to the venue on our own.

There were two support acts on - Jo Quail, an experimental cellist and The Memepunks, a mash-up act featuring keyboards, an accordion, cello, vocals and other elements. They did awesome mash-ups including one of the Firefly theme tune + Bon Jovi's Dead or Alive (as much as I dislike Bon Jovi it went very well in a tongue in cheek way) and Inspector Gadget + The Cure's Love Cats! They were really cool and warmed us up nicely! Rasputina were so awesome - their outfits were so cool and cute, Melora was cool and cute and the songs were awesome! She had her 'old time American settler' voice on and introduced each song in such a way. Some of the songs she played included 1816, The Year Without a Summer, Saline the Salt Lake Queen, Humankind as the Sailor and even a cover of Barracuda by Heart. XD

I decided to stay overnight in London as I wasn't sure what time the gig would end and my last train/coach was around 11.15pm-11.30pm. I definitely didn't want to leave the gig early, rush to the station and even risk missing the trip home anyway so I strived to find a place to stay in London on the cheap. I tried a few hotel comparison websites but the cheapest hotels in London start at £50 and I definitely couldn't afford/justify that on an event that was only costing me £25 for the transport and tickets.

I had the fleeting idea of staying in an Internet cafe all night but this quickly dissipated as I realised the money I would spend hiring a computer for 5-8 hours was the same price or even more as booking a hostel. I was reluctant to book a hostel as hostels in the UK aren't usually very nice and conjure up imagery of dodgy homeless people, drug addicts and getting your stuff stolen whilst you sleep. Thankfully there are a lot of reviews for hostels on and so you can get an honest review from people in similar situations to yourself. There were a few VERY cheap hostels - I'm talking £5-£8 a night but they all had varying reviews and only around 60% recommendations, claiming they were dirty, noisy, dodgy and the staff didn't care. Also they weren't in a good location for me - I needed somewhere either close to the venue or close to Victoria coach station, preferably the latter. A lot of the reviews for the cheaper hostels recommended paying a couple of pounds extra to stay somewhere a lot safer.

In the end I decided to go for Travel Joy Hostels - they are a chain of hostels and have one located in Pimlico/Chelsea that was around 15 minutes away from Victoria coach station. The first thing that made me feel more at ease is the fact they are a chain of hostels and have them all over London - they must be relatively successful to have a chain of hostels all over London! The second thing that made me book them immediately is that they had one of the highest ratings out of a selection - 90%+ ratings and recommendations. They were £11.99 a night so I booked one night and paid a 10% deposit.

When Rasputina finished, I had to make my way to the hostel. I got the tube to Pimlico and got the tube station manager to call me a taxi as my phone was dead. He was so nice and helpful, even telling me to come back and find him if the taxi didn't arrive as he didn't want me waiting around on my own late at night (I got into Pimlico around 12am). I didn't know where the hostel was so I agreed to pay a mini cab £10 to take me there, only to find it was about 5 minutes away and on the main road overlooking the Thames! I was a bit annoyed but I'd rather have paid £10 than walk there and risk getting mugged and raped, especially since I didn't know it was a pretty nice area at the time. XD

Travel Joy Hostels is part of a pub called The King William IV and has a door on the side of the pub where you can check in via an electronic screen late at night. It gives you a code to open the door, another code to open the inside door to the hostel rooms and the same code to open the door for your room too. It also told you your room and bed number but me and an Asian couple in front of me were having trouble with the door and by the time we got it open, my details were gone and I'd forgotten them. XD So I checked in at the bar, paid the rest of my night's stay and was given information about the hostel. The staff were amazingly helpful, one of the most helpful staff I've encountered! They walked me through the whole checking in procedure, including a £1 door card deposit I got back when I checked out and gave me a leaflet about the hostel, one about London in general, a tube map, a bus timetable and map and a card to get discounts on Vodka Red Bulls and Jagerbombs. The man at the bar even drew me a little map on how to get from the hostel to Victoria coach station in the morning!

The thing I was worried about was that even if a hostel and its surroundings are nice, it's the other people staying at a hostel that make or break a hostel stay. If a hostel is in a popular or busy location and is very cheap, you might get scary druggies, mentally ill or homeless people staying there who might steal your stuff and make your stay very unpleasant. Obviously there are homeless people and drug addicts who are nice people at a bad time in their lives but you never want to risk it with your own safety. However, when I checked in and went up to my room, there were about 5 people there and they were all asleep! So I put my stuff under my bed, changed clothes, took my make-up off, brushed my teeth and went downstairs to the common room to charge my phone and ring my boyfriend to let him know I was okay.

When I woke up at 7am, there were a few people awake in the shared bathrooms getting ready as they were travelling, sightseeing in London, etc. and I had no problems leaving my stuff in my room and getting ready in the morning. When I'm in a hostel or hotel, all I care about it being able to sleep safely at night so the fact I was able to do this makes me so happy. Why pay hotel prices if all I want is literally a bed to sleep in and I don't use the features/benefits of a hotel?

However, what made this stay awesome is all the free stuff that is included for the price of a night's stay in a hostel! They give you free towels and bed linens that you take downstairs when you check out to get your £1 deposit back. They give out free soft drinks all day and night which includes coffee, tea and hot chocolate, plain and fizzy water, lemonade, apple, orange and cranberry juice, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Tango! Seriously, you can just ask at the bar and they will give you any of those drinks for free, as often as you want. Because they are a pub as well, they also give you a discount on Vodka Red Bulls (£2.50), draught drinks at £3 between 6pm-9pm and discounts on bottles of beer and cider any time. I don't really drink but this would be very good with friends. They have free lockers you can store your items and valuables in which is a must at hostels but other hostels usually charge you per day! As I mentioned before though, I didn't even feel the need to put my stuff in lockers as I arrived late and departed early but I would make use of them if I stayed longer. They also have a tub of free earplugs at the bar for anyone to use! I tried to use them but they just kept falling out of my ears haha...

Not only that but breakfast is included in your night's stay too. A few hotels and hostels offer free continental breakfast and I never expect more than a bit of toast and cornflakes but Travel Joy Hostels breakfast includes omelettes, pancakes and smoothies made to order for you!!! They have a little setup near the breakfast tables and you just ask for what you want - they have various fruit for the smoothies (and I suppose pancakes) and various fillings/toppings for omelettes. They also have cereal, toast, fruit juice and yoghurts. I didn't have enough time to try their omelettes, smoothies and pancakes so I just had some apple juice and muesli but I saw the guy refilling the muesli and it's not even Tesco Value or anything similar, he was filling it up with Alpen! Wow!

They also offer discounts to many London events and attractions including The London Eye and Madame Tussauds. They have a couple of PCs to use like an Internet cafe and you can pay £1 to use their WiFi each day and the first 30 minutes are free. They have free salsa classes on Wednesdays and open mic nights on Friday. If you need a padlock, plug adaptor, bed light or hairdryer, you can rent them for £5 each and get your deposit back when you bring it back.

These are features I haven't even seen in hotels and if they are included, it's normally for a premium price or extra add-ons. It's the little things like these that make you feel much safer, more at home and like the staff care about you. I wouldn't normally write a review on hotels but I just had to mention this hostel as I will definitely be going back there when I need to stay overnight in London - it may even work out cheaper to stay overnight when I wouldn't otherwise if there is a cheaper train ticket available earlier the next morning. It is an especially great place to stay if you travel to London on the coach or arrive at Victoria train station. I walked to Victoria coach station the morning I departed; I set off at 7.50am and got there at 8.15am so it took 25 minutes but I didn't know where I was going, asked for directions and my feet hurt a little from wearing platforms haha. If you know where you're going and are wearing comfortable shoes, you could easily walk to the station in 15 minutes. I would book through HostelBookers as you only have to pay a 10% deposit - the prices for a night's stay varies on how much in advance you book it, what days, etc. so be sure to check around and possibly through different booking venues. Also clear your cookies and cache after each time you search as some comparison websites make the prices slowly 'creep up' the more times you check a website so that you think the prices are going up and book it for more than you could've paid!

I'm really glad I took the time to choose this hostel and I had a really good time seeing Rasputina! Have you guys stayed in hostels before? What are they like all around the world?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Review: La Roche-Posay Redermic 'R' Intensive Dermatological Anti-Aging Corrective Concentrate

I got the chance to get a free sample of La Roche-Posay's Redermic 'R' Intensive Dermatological Anti-Aging Corrective Concentrate (phew!) from What's In My Handbag and used it in place of my regular face cream for just under two weeks. I've finished it now so it's time to review! 

Brand: La Roche-Posay
Name: Redermic 'R' Intensive Dermatological Anti-Aging Corrective Concentrate
Where to buy: £35 from, $40 from

Taken from the La Roche Posay website, this intensive concentrate smooths out accentuated wrinkles, transforms your skin surface (into what?), reduced the appearance of age spots and smooths out the complexion.

When I clicked on the 'Ingredients' tab for this product, nothing came up haha - suspicious? This is a fairly potent cream that you're supposed to wear SPF 15 with, avoid the eye contours when applying (whoops - something I didn't do, more on that later) and try to limit sun exposure whilst using - when are you supposed to use this exactly and for how long? I take it you can't use it as every day use because of the precautions you have to put in place whilst it 'works its magic' but how long do you have to apply it to see the benefits of the product?
La Roche Posay Redermic 'R' Intensive Dermatological Anti-Aging Corrective Concentrate
La Roche-Posay is a 'prestige' or luxury cosmetic brand so I was excited to try their products for the first time ever. As a result, their price tag is relatively mid-market to high and their packaging has that cosme-ceutical (cosmetic + pharmaceutical) look to it that similar brands like Clinique, SK-II and luxury Korean brands use. It's not cute, pretty boring but it appeals to the right market for an anti-aging product.
La Roche Posay Redermic 'R' Intensive Dermatological Anti-Aging Corrective Concentrate Swatch

The cream is of a standard consistency and is easy to spread. It's a very light yellow in colour and has a weird smell - it's not unpleasant but it doesn't really tickle me either.

I've been using this cream for perhaps 7-12 days now, day and night so it has lasted a pretty good time considering the size. I've been using it with my Be The Skin toner but no serum as I've ran out. At first I noticed it wasn't particularly hydrating but left my skin with a powdery soft feel so I thought it was okay. However, the past couple of days my skin has suddenly had a weird meltdown consisting of small whitehead spots on my forehead, cheeks and chin and dry patches on my cheeks and the outer corners of my eyes. My skin hasn't been like this for a good year or more so it's horrible having to deal with it now. My skin feels really sore, tender and doesn't look great to boot. I've got a couple more samples of face cream to use up but I might just slather my face in my Secret Key snail cream for a bit to let it repair. After reading that you're supposed to avoid the eye contours whilst applying this product, that may have contributed to the sore outer corners of my eyes. If you're supposed to avoid the eye area and it's supposed to be an anti-aging product, where does it target? As most people want anti-aging benefits near their eyes...

As for the anti-aging benefits, I obviously can't comment as I don't have to worry about that just yet. I have a few small lines underneath my eyes though and I'd have to guess that it may have improved them the tiniest bit ever? However, that doesn't make up for the lack of hydration in this product - if I was making an anti-aging product, hydration would be one of the main features of my product after the anti-aging bit, of course - more mature skin loses elasticity, gets dry and needs to feel hydrated, plump and nourished to feel good and possibly reduce the appearance (not reduce or fix entirely) of wrinkles.
I don't like this cream unforunately - my skin is crying out for a break now and this cream is only good for more mature skin that is oily/combination and can only be applied for a short period of time - that is a very specific target audience. I should have wondered whether this cream would be good for me after reading 'anti-aging', 'intensive' and 'concentrate' but I wanted to try it and it didn't work. In the world of beauty reviews, you win some and you lose some! Unless you fit into the very specific market for this product, I don't feel the price is worthy of the product so I will only give this product one star out of five.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Why TheHeianPrincess?

Today I had the idea to write about why I sometimes choose the username 'TheHeianPrincess' for things like Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. and 'HeianGirl' if my username is over the character limit for some websites haha. I've been asked a few time what it means or why I chose it so I wanna go on a little history lesson! I normally despise history but this time it's fun and pretty, I assure you!

So, the Heian period was a period in Japanese history from around 794AD to 1185AD. The emperor at the time, Emperor Kammu, moved the Japanese capital city to Heian-kyou (now known as Kyoto) and the period was named after that. It is considered one of the highest points in Japanese history/culture and is widely admired and remembered fondly as the height of cultural arts, the rise of the samurai and the peak of the imperial court. 'Heian' means 'peace and tranquility' in Japanese. Pretty!

I'll skip all the super history stuff like the imperial family, Fujiwara Clan etc. as, whilst interesting, it's nothing you can't learn without a quick Google and I'd only be regurgitating from the Wiki article anyway.

If you're particularly book orientated, you might have heard of the Heian period from Lady Murasaki Shikibu or Sei Shonagon. Both were female writers in the Heian period and Lady Murasaki is cited as being the first female novelist and actually writing what was considered the first novel ever, The Tale of Genji. Sei Shonagon wrote The Pillow Book, which is a diary-like book all about luxurious court life. Murasaki and Shonagon were considered rivals at the time. Both women wrote books that are probably the best depictions of the Heian period we will ever get and it provides useful insights to traditional Japanese court life, gossip and trends in the Heian period.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Geiko (geisha) Kimina of Miyagawa-cho dressed as Lady Murasaki Shikibu and geiko Kikuno as Sei Shonagon.

Once the imperial court was at its highest in the 11th century, courtiers had very little to do and were encouraged to take up artistic endeavors. These included the standard painting, poetry, music and calligraphy but expanded to more in depth, trend based arts of mixing fragrances and incense and layering their clothes in particular colours and patterns depending on the mood, season and occasion. Women had rigid fashion rules which included floor length hair, whitened skin, eyebrows that were completely plucked off and redrawn higher up as little black smudges, blackened teeth and intricate layers of kimono (coordinated by the aforementioned colours and patterns that were in trend at the time). Up to twelve different layers of kimono were worn depending on the occasion/event, who was going and how high ranking you were! Junihitoe was the fanciest form of dress for the most high ranking ladies and included the twelve layers of kimono! Ladies who would have worn this include the empress, princesses, wives of court officers and high ranking servants. They would only wear junihitoe for very important events, occasions and when meeting people equally or more high ranking than them.

So basically I love the idea of the Heian period - as if you couldn't tell! It sounded like a romanticised time where, if you ranked high up, you lounged around, played games and gossiped with friends, applied make-up, brushed your floor length hair, coordinated different coloured and pattern kimono layers, mixed perfumes, wrote poetry and played musical instruments for however long you pleased.

To some it might sound lazy but it fits with the stereotypical ideals of princess life which is why I chose the username TheHeianPrincess as being a princess in the Heian period sounds heavenly!

It is one of my ambitions to go to one of those dressing up studios in Japan and be dressed as a geisha. There is also one that dresses you in traditional Heian period clothing including the junihitoe which I would love to do as well. I would love to try Heian style make-up and dress - the make-up wouldn't be so hard but there is, unfortunately, no occasion that calls for twelve layers of kimono! Plus I would either have to make or buy them myself which would be very costly for a simple one time hobby.

I have read 'The Tale of Murasaki' by Liza Dalby, which is a telling (although it's probably very filled in and exaggerated a little) of Lady Murasaki's life and I relate to Lady Murasaki a lot. She was considered a bit weird growing up as she was very intelligent, fluent in Chinese (which was the language of the court and normally excluded to women) and adept at poetry, calligraphy and music. She didn't really relate to many people as she was thought to be a bit pretentious (probably nothing to do with her personality, just because she was smart), awkward, difficult to approach and scornful so she found it hard to make friends. She didn't really want to get married and only got married in her mid to late twenties, or perhaps her early thirties which was very unheard of. I have found it hard to relate to people and was considered strange and not worthy of being friends with when I was growing up but I'm getting better at being able to talk to people and maintain a normal level of human interaction haha. I also consider the opposite sex to be weird, single minded and unsettling and was prepared to spend my entire life alone if it meant I was happy and comfortable until I had a chance meeting with my current, first and only partner almost four years ago.

...Okay, I will stop rambling now as you have probably left and gone to reblog gifs of kittens on Tumblr or something! But I just wanted a little insight into my current username and a bit of history for a change haha! However, I am swaying towards 'Meian-hime' as a username a little! 'Meian' commonly means 'light and dark' in Japanese but I chose it because it means 'gloom' too so it can be seen to translate as 'Princess Gloom' or 'Light & Darkness Princess' which is pretty cool! It also translates to 'good idea' which is the dealbreaker haha! However, I don't feel it is a good choice for something like a blog or where I will be giving my username out a lot so I will probably keep it to solitary accounts and forums.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Review: Nature Republic Orchid Secret Powder Pact SPF35 PA ++

This is another review that I apparently hadn't finished and left in my drafts so I shall complete it now even though the product is discontinued. It is easy to find leftover stock on eBay, however.
Brand: Nature Republic
Name: Orchid Secret Powder Pact
Shade: #21
Where to buy: eBay, $21.99

Nature Republic Orchid Secret Powder Pact contains 100 PPT of orchid extract as well as mineral extracts. Using a cosmetic ingredients dictionary, it seems orchid does nothing for skin; its only property is as a fragrance and it can be an irritant to some people. I'm quite liking using this dictionary to find out what ingredients do but in another way, it has been quite disappointing to learn ingredients are only put in as a selling point and don't actually have any benefits. Oh well, the more you learn!
I've never had a sample of face powder before - I like it! The sample packaging is a folded cardboard flap.
Inside top
The product on the inside of the packaging. It's covered by protective film and was enough product for two uses.

The sample packaging is quite pretty in a mature, feminine way but the full sized pack is soooooo gorgeous!
It has the same aesthetic as the sample packaging but I love the pretty orchid shaped pot and gold tones on the box. I would love this on my shelf or in my make-up bag and think it compliments all ages. I'm half tempted to buy this now just because of the packaging...

BB cream only on the left, one layer of the powder on the right.

I didn't really expect any extra coverage; it sets your foundation/BB cream of choice and gives a matte, soft feel. When these photos were taken, my skin was a bit dry and I think you can tell the powder accentuates dry skin in the right photo. If you look to the top left, it makes my 'chicken skin' undereye skin a bit more noticeable. I don't know what it would look like if I tried this powder now my skin is more moisturised but I would hope better.
I would say on my relatively dry skin, this powder stayed on around 4-5 hours before I'd need a touch up. I can't say for oily/combination skin and it doesn't seem to have any sebum controlling benefits either. It works well for my skin but I can't comment on others.
This is a nice powder that does the basics - it sets face products and gives a matte, silky finish. I think the price is a little high for the features this product has, especially when there is no real benefits to your skin whilst using this product but that could be because it is discontinued. The packaging is gorgeous and the product works well but because of the price and no skin benefits, I'll give this 4 our of 5 stars.