Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quick, Say Something!

My apologies for lack of updates for a long time! I have been having some personal life issues. I was planning on getting a sewing tutorial up, but have been unable to complete it so far, sorry! It should be up relatively soon. I am making a ribbon bustle skirt with adjustable bustles, but decided to do some experimenting which went wrong ^^; Don't worry, it is still wearable and I fixed it so it looks perfect on the outside, but is ugly on the inside, and I HATE that! Originally it was going to go for sale on ArtFire, but now I don't want to because I feel like it is not my best work... The fabric is gorgeous, though ♥

Let's talk about something much happier! Do you know what is happening next Saturday, on December 4th? It is International LoliDay! I love that International Lolita Day happens twice a year because one can show both a lovely summer outfit and a fancy, layered winter outfit. LoliDay is the best time to experiment with new coordinates, new color combos, and accessorize to your heart's content! Normally I opt for comfort and practicality over looking perfect, but I hope to be able to put some finishing touches on a new dress to wear by LoliDay and go shopping for matching accessories.

Being in Taiwan, however, winter feels.... not really like winter to me... In Minnesota, Winter LoliDay meant my handmade pink, wool coat, layred tights, socks, and knee-high boots, long sleeves under a JSK and maybe a cardigan,and a cute bunny hat and lamb scarf! Also matching pink gloves to keep my fingerstips from going numb in the bitter cold. Now, I can get away with wearing just a light cardigan. Not nearly as many layering options! This year I will focus on accessories and details like hair, make, and nail to make up for the lack of layers

Activity-wise, there are no meetups planned, so I am going to make it a day of shopping! There are some shopping districts I would like to browse (though I haven't got much money, so it will mostly be looking only) and a 24-hour bookstore to peruse. I am thinking of treating myself to a Starbucks seasonal drink.

This may sound silly, being that Starbucks is HUGE in America, but I honestly have hardly ever tried any of their drinks, and didn't know about the seasonal ones ^^; I always went for Caribou Coffee! Simply because I liked the decor and logo better. Of course, later I also learned about how they used Free Trade coffee and they re-branded recently and started using REAL chocolate chips instead of powder, and basically, are a more decadent version of Starbucks. Not knocking Starbucks though, as I have tried a couple drinks so far and like it :) Gourmet coffee is a real treat to me, though I know many people see it as a daily routine :P And holidays are a time for indulgence, so indulge I shall!

Other ideas for LoliDay include:

*Photoshoots ~ Alone with a self-timer, with some good friends, or as a group professionally, document your LoliDay coordinate!

*Go on an Adventure! ~ Rekindle the childhood spirit of adventure and go somewhere new! One Person Party or take a crew?

*Take a Day Off ~ Stay home and relax, or hang out with a friend at home. Read a good book, watch movies, and eat yummy snacks!

*Bake a Treat ~ Unleash your inner kitchen witch and whip up some munchies in the kitchen! Perhaps try your hand at a GLB recipe?

*Take a Treat ~ Not in the mood to create? How about visiting a local bakery or cafe to treat yourself to a lovely drink and pasty. Most pastries or cakes are cute and lend themselves to being good subjects for food photography. I love food photography *u*

What are your plans for LoliDay?
Has your local group got a meet-up planned? Are you doing something alone or just with a friend? Share your ideas in the comments! I am interested to hear what you are going to do!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tiana's Kitchen~Heart Print Pancakes

Now for something new! My very first video!

I actually filmed this a few weeks ago but couldn't figure out how to upload it onto YouTube I am a little bit technologically challenged...

Without further ado, I present a very simple way to make your breakfast (or lunch, or dessert, or whenever you feel like having pancakes) cute!

I edited the video with Windows Live Movie Maker. It was terribly hard to film and cook at the same time but I hope the video is understandable!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When They Don't Avert Their Eyes

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I have been feeling a bit discouraged, but decided to blog about it now rather than continue the internet silence.

Let me start by saying I wear Lolita every day I don't have to work. I have been doing so for a couple years. I wear Lolita whether I am sitting at home all day or going out. Never have I ever encountered negative feedback in Minnesota. I went to the Mall of America every week. Outside of the weekly trips, I went grocery shopping, fabric shopping, took walks, got coffee, etc. Sometimes curious strangers would ask if I was from another country, or simply tell me that I dressed very adorably. Most of the time, I am confused at first because I don't feel any different in Lolita or out of it, and my friends and family are so accepting of it that nobody comments or looks at me any differently.

So it came as a shock to me, the different reactions I have gotten in Taiwan

Being that Asia is more fashionable than America in general, I had thought I would stand out far less. I see girls wearing dresses, short skirts, short shorts, layered looks, high boots, and a lot of heels. Very stylish from hair to shoes and everything in between. Unfortunately, everybody mostly dresses in the same style. It is fashionable, yes, but not diverse. Therefore, even my most casual of casual Lolita outfits stands out like crazy!

The other thing is that in Taiwan, people have no qualms about openly staring. Or "whispering" loudly enough for others to hear, even on the noisy MRT. I have encountered my first "ninja snap" where a girl whipped out her cell phone to take a photo of me on my way to a Lolita meetup. As a group, we walked through the MRT station and a girl very openly took photos of us, pointing, shouting, and telling her friends to look Most of us actually thought she was friends with one of the girls in our group because she was being so familiar. When one of the older Lolitas asked her to stop, she flat-out said "No" and carried on treating us like a display.

While traveling alone this past Wednesday, two girls in the same MRT compartment openly discussed whether I was a coser or not. Rather than either just asking me or keeping it to themselves, they held a conversation throughout the journey, making it highly awkward as everybody pretended to not be able to hear them or see me

Now, I am not going to stop wearing Lolita just because of a few obnoxious incidents, of course. I have noticed that people tend to look at me whether I am wearing Lolita or not, most likely because despite being 100% Chinese, I look mixed. So if they are going to stare anyway, I would much rather they look at my pretty clothes than at me.

Sorry for such a long, personal post. It has taken my spirit for the past few days, but I plan on continuing to live with the fiery passion for all things elegant, beautiful, and cute in life! Never shall it die!

And now I can relate much better to the girls who post asking about what to do in negative situations. Keep your chin up, your head high, and smile! You are beautiful Let's face it - you will probably never see those people ever again, anyway. And if you do, you'll still be rockin' life in your own style~

My question to you:
How have you dealt with this type of negativity in your life?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tiana's Kitchen~Steamed Banana Cake

Asian cakes are often steamed because most homes do not own a large oven like Western homes. It is possible to bake cakes in the toaster oven, but steaming is quicker and fluffier!

There are many methods of steaming, and all work equally well. I usually use an electric steamer, but bamboo steamers are also popular. It is also possible to ghetto-rig a steamer by heating a wok of boiling water, putting a rack in the bottom to keep the cake pan out of the water, and steaming your cake suspended over the water. Make sure your wok cover fits over the pan or bowl you are using!

Bananas are naturally sweet, and the riper they are, the sweeter they get, so adjust your sugar levels accordingly!

This recipe can be made and steamed all in one bowl. It is quick, easy, and has minimal clean-up work. Very good for a quick snack and has only about 115 calories per serving! Calories were calculated using My Fitness Pal's Recipe Calculator

2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour (I only have spoon measures, so I did 10 Tbs and 1tsp)
1 ripe Banana
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 Tbsp packed Brown Sugar (adjust according to taste)
1 Egg
2 tsp water
1 tsp oil

1) Assemble Ingredients and Preheat your steamer by boiling the water in your wok or the base of your steamer
The silver pan I mixed in turned out to be too big because I am a poor judge of volume... a big bowl should suffice

2) Put everything in your bowl and mash it all together with a fork!

3) Try to make your batter smooth with few lumps. My batter turned brown because of the brown sugar. Using refined sugar will keep your cake yellow from the banana, but I prefer brown sugar ;)

4) Place into your hot steamer and steam for 15 minutes. Do NOT open the lid before it is done!

5) Allow to cool in the bowl. The water vapor makes it separate from the bowl easily

6)Loosen the edges and turn out into a plate. My cake had some unmixed lumps of brown sugar because I was in a hurry, making this cake at 10PM ^^; They settled to the bottom and now you can see them when the cake is flipped!

7) Cut into 6 pieces and serve!

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe. Feel free to change up the flavors! Try different fruits or flavors! Chocolate cake?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carousel Cafe Back in Action!

I am happy to announce that Carousel Cafe (also available in the Links section of my sidebar) is back up and running!

The current listings are all located in MN, USA and my mom will help ship them out. They are from my Spring/Summer collection 2010, so the prices are very low right now (30-50% off) to help clear out the old merchandise!

Soon, I will add the new products, starting with bloomers and bloomer packs, so bookmark the page for updates!

Any suggestions or ideas for what you would like to see are much appreciated

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Inspiration vs. Imitation in Lolita Fashion

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"
How many times have we heard that quote before? While this may be true of superficial aspects such as coordinates, styling, makeup, hairdos, etc. when we are talking about design or selling, imitation suddenly become theft. Artists are quick to claim ideas as their original work, and point fingers at similar pieces as being stolen.

In a world as small as Lolita, ideas seem to overlap and spread quickly. How many versions of Paris Window, Alice in Wonderland, Swan Lake, Trump Suits, Mermaids, etc. are there? It is true that all these big brands still manage to sell out their prints and everybody has their favorite version of each motif as seen in this fun poll here and here. Brand replicas are widely bought, with the argument that the Brands are not suffering financially from the replicas anyway.

What about the small, indie brands and Western brands? When somebody is trying to make a living with their own two hands designing, drafting, sewing, redrafting, and sewing some more, is it still OK to copy their designs? What about being inspired by another designer? Obviously, everybody gets inspiration from SOMEWHERE, but when does inspiration cross the line into imitation?

a) a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.
b) the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.

Oftentimes, a piece of art, a beautiful dress, a swatch of fabric, a fancy trim, or a certain photograph captures a feeling that inspires you to create something of your own. Your mind races and you catch your breath - you want to make SOMETHING from this, though you are not quite sure what yet. Jot some quick notes about what's racing through your mind before you lose the ideas!

Inspiration gives you ideas. It gives you creativity, and lets you run with it!

a counterfeit; copy

Do you find yourself flipping back and forth between looking at your own design and somebody else's? When you place them side by side, do they look like they were done by the same designer? Is there anything distinctly different between your design and the original? Are you looking only at one image from one designer for ideas? If many of these apply to you, be careful, you might be making a copy!

My advice when you find this happening, is to leave that design alone for a while. Work on something else or look at some other pictures for inspiration.

What if you are on the other end of the Imitation Trap? See one of your designs being sold elsewhere? Before you get all up in arms and message the thief, first look at the design. Is it a general, common design? Could it be coincidence? Many cuts and designs are commonly found, especially in a fashion with as many rules as Lolita.

If it is a unique design and obviously copied, try contacting the seller politely to ask them not to use your design. Many times people are willing to comply if you simply ask because they don't realize the damage it can do to an independent designer when their designs are ripped off. If they are NOT willing to take down their imitation, try to get the word out about your original in a calm and organized fashion. Throwing a hissy fit is not going to win you any more fans and will only make you seem petty and desperate. Hopefully consumers will be willing to support you as an independent designer and seamstress :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tiana's Kitchen~Pizza Cones

FAKE SWEETS! And we're not talking about jewelry here. Today I am going to share one of those recipes that isn't even really a recipe - Pizza Cones

Like any pizza recipe, you can put whatever you want on it, but it makes me feel special to write this up as a recipe. It is really just a different method of making

I came up with this idea after getting a pizza cone at Taipei Zoo last year. It is a handy way to have pizza you can carry around with you. Using a thinner skin makes an interesting crispy texture and the tomato paste prevents as much sogginess.

Start with a crepe skin or tortilla (I added some onions on it)
toaster oven

Add 3Tbs of tomato paste
toaster oven
Tomato paste work better than tomato sauce because it does not slide around and get as messy. Also the flavor is stronger, so you can use less!

Add toppings (I used enoki mushroom, onion, smoked salmon, and cheese)
toaster oven
The enoki mushroom imitated the cheese texture, so I did not add as much cheese, making this pizza healthier!

toaster oven

You can either cut and eat it like pizza
toaster oven

OR you can roll it up into a cone
toaster oven

Tuck in the bottom a little bit (fold up the end while rolling) like a burrito to prevent fall-out in case you did not manage to make a perfect cone ^^;
toaster oven

This can be made in advance, pulled out of the fridge and toasted prior to eating. You only need a napkin to wrap around the cone and wipe your hands and mouth with. Less mess, less cleaning, more yum!

I have thought of making these and rolling them like crepes to bring to a picnic. Tasty, customizable for different tastes, and minimal mess. It would require a larger oven to make many though!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tiana's Kitchen~Cat's Eye Coins

"I want to fill myself only with sweet things"
~Momoko Ryugasaki, in Shimotsuma Monogatari/Kamikaze Girls

Sweets dominate in the Lolita Kingdom. Cakes, cookies, macarons, parfaits, ice cream, etc. take over tea parties and show up in prints. This may have been fine and dandy for Momoko, but I am sure that the rest of us need a little more nutrition than Momoko's bento provided:


Cookies, canned fruit, and candy hardly constitutes a healthy meal! Today I am going to show you how to make a nice snack that is sweet but still has nutritional value.

Cat's Eye Coins

1 banana
1 TBS Peanut Butter

1) Slice your banana in half lengthwise

2) Fill the center with peanut butter. It may feel hard to spread because of the slickness of the banana. My advice is to put a big glob of peanut butter on the banana, then start pushing from the top of the glob to spread it out. This way, the base doesn't have to move at all


3) Don't worry if it is not neat, because now you put the banana back together! I like to squish it a little to make sure everything sticks


4) Wrap your banana in cling wrap or wax paper and put it in the freezer to freeze. When you feel like having a snack, take it out, unwrap, and slice into coins



You can also slice them into coins and then re-freeze for later. The frozen texture of the banana is a lot like ice cream, and the peanut butter adds a creamy, rich flavor. Feel free to experiment with other fillings (Nutella, anyone?) and have fun with it!

Banana is full of potassium, but also fairly high in sugar, so I don't recommend this snack more than once a day. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, but fairly high in fat and calories. As a snack or dessert, this is a good balance of treat and nutrition. I am enjoying some as I write this post!

Enjoy, and stay healthy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sparkle Stitches~ Bloomers lvl2!

Have you mastered the Budget Bloomers? Want something a little fancier or more challenging? Welcome to level 2, Bloomers with a Ruffle at the Hem!

Today I will show you how to make bloomers from the same 1 yard of fabric, but with a little ruffle on the edge, how cute!

First, cut out your pieces just like regular bloomers. Now, you need to learn the lvl2 skill of... MAKING BIAS TAPE!!!

It is not that hard, I promise But you can always just buy pre-made bias tape if you don't feel like making your own.

BUT for the brave challenger, here we GO!

Take some of the scrap fabric from cutting out your bloomers. Bias is at a 45* angle to the selvage. The easiest way to find 45 degrees is to draw a 2"X2" box on your fabric with the selvage as one of the sides of the box. Connect two opposing corners of the box, and it will be 45*! Extend that line until you reach the opposite edge of the fabric. Now draw parallel lines at double the finished width of your bias tape. So if you want a 3/4" finished width, draw the lines 1.5" apart.

sparkle stitches

Stitch your bias strips together into one long strip, iron flat the seam allowances, and fold in the long edges to meet in the middle. It is easier to just show photos

sparkle stitches
A completed bias strip

sparkle stitches
Showing the edges

A bias strip will not unravel, so it is useful for binding edges or as a casing.

Next, determine how wide you want your ruffle to be. Add your hem allowance, and draw a guideline at the top of the ruffle

sparkle stitches
The blue line is where I will put my elastic

Put your bias strip on the line you just drew and pin in place

sparkle stitches

sparkle stitches
Pin at the line

Stitch the bias tape on both folded edges so you are left with the short ends open. Turn up your hem allowance, press, pin, and stitch. It is much easier to hem now rather than after elasticizing. Thread your leg elastic through and secure the ends.

sparkle stitches

Finish the bloomers just like the basic Budget Bloomers. Sew up each inseam (I like to tack the seam allowance open at the elastic line), turn one leg inside out and put it inside the other leg, sew the crotch line, turn down the waistband, press, pin, sew, and thread elastic. Then you should have this:

sparkle stitches

And worn:

sparkle stitches

These lvl2 Bloomers take a bit more time to make, but are still relatively simple and just a bit fancier. I would probably sell these for $15 if you are looking to sell your own or buy some from me ;)