Monday, July 29, 2013

Belle's Library~ Smurfs 2

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go watch Smurfs 2 and take photos with the Smurfs!
Growing up, I actually didn't know what Smurfs were, really. I'd only ever seen them in a video game that I saw once, but I thought they were really cute.
I saw the first movie on TV here, and really think it was quite well done. I love the evil cat and think the realism and cartoon aspects were balanced really well.

The ticket I got was from work because I'd helped to work on a collaboration between the movie and the school I work for, so my mom and I went to see the movie.

Check out the 3D glasses we got!
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I love the little hat on it!

Honestly, I don't think the movie was worth watching in 3D because it didn't really add much to the overall effect. I also got a headache by the end of the movie :( So if you are planning on seeing this movie, I suggest watching the regular 2D version.

Spoiler-free review:

Here's my fancy ticket:
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An hour before the movie, there was a blue carpet set up and you could take photos with Clumsy, Papa, and Smurfette!

Here is me pretending to be a celebrity:
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The sequel is semi-noncontinuous, so if you haven't seen the first movie, it's not too big of a deal. I really loved the themes of self-discovery and non-conditional love in the movie (for both the humans and the Smurfs), and the comedy was pretty well-balanced.

If you haven't seen the first movie, pretty much all you need to know is that Gargamel is in the human world and is now a celebrity because he can do magic using the leftover essence he got from Papa in the previous movie. It's really funny how he learns to cope with modern society and technology while still holding on to magic and the world of the Smurfs.

I didn't like the "goofy" new character of Haggis (I think that's his name?) very much, but he is a contrast character I suppose. I did like the new girl character, Vexy, though!

There IS a post-credit short between Gargamel and Azrael (the cat), so be sure to stay until the very end!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Cherry on Top

Gone are the days of the traditional Lolita headdress! It's really not so common and is no longer a staple of Lolita wardrobes as it once was.
It's not completely dead, of course, but there are so many other things to put on your head that compliment a far greater variety of face shapes (who else got the double chin from the tied ribbons?)

Lolita Headwear

Huge variety!

My personal favorite type of headwear is probably anything mounted on a headband!
Headband Headwear

It's easy to put on and adjust throughout the day, and stays on my head better than combs and mini hats do. If the Alice bow is really large and hard to keep on, you can sew a small comb on the underside so the comb and headband combined keep it on much better! There are so many types of decorated headbands like the Alice bow, side bows, ruffled headband, floral corsage, fabric corsage, veil, etc.

I personally am not a fan of the plastic decorated headbands, but I know they were popular for a while, too.

For more casual days I like hair bands like these:

Pigtails and Hair Bands

I actually like the plastic decoration on hair bands because they stand up better. I like to wear my hair in pigtails high/low/braided/half-up. Pigtails are very versatile and easy to style! They're nice for days when you don't want a large accessory on your head.

The hair band made with an applique seems like it'd be a fun and easy DIY project to do! The next time you find a cute applique, maybe you can give it a try!

What is your favorite head wear for events or casual days?
Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this week's carnival!
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Pretty Little Habits
Lolita Glamour

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baby Shower Gift

On June 24 one of my coworkers had a baby, so today (July 24) is her baby's one-month anniversary (is that even how you say it?) so she sent baby shower gifts to everybody in the office.

Traditionally there are certain foods you give if your baby is a boy or girl. In MN, when one of our family friends had a son, they sent 油飯(oily rice) and red-dyed eggs to all the family friends. They also shaved his hair and made calligraphy brushes! If I remember correctly, they got three brushes out of his hair. When I was a baby, I had almost no hair :( So it wouldn't have worked for me!!

Anyway, here is a quick collage of the "modern" baby shower gift:
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There was a 6-inch honey cake, a macaron, two each of two types of cookies, four lemon marshmallows, and a snake toy (Year of the Snake!)

Here is the macaron:
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I gave the rest of the treats to a friend since I don't have a working refrigerator and they need to be eaten within three days for freshness. Plus, I am supposed to be trying to eat a healthier diet since I've gained some kilos recently!!

The macaron was really nice :)

After giving birth mothers need to stay in bed to recover for one month. There are a lot of rules and traditions about what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot eat, and what other people can and cannot do around them. I've never attended any baby/birth/baby shower (where you give gifts to the mother before the baby is born) or any related event in the USA, so I guess apart from what I've seen in movies I really don't know much about how new mothers are treated :P I expect they're supposed to rest, too!

What traditions do you or your family or country follow surrounding childbirth? Or do you think it's all a bunch of nonsense and mothers should just eat and do whatever they want?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taipei: Always Awake!

I have been awake for about 36 hours straight! This is NOT a healthy habit, so I definitely don't suggest it, but the last 36 hours of my life went something like this:
4 AM~ Insomnia
8:30 AM~ Work
5:30 PM~ Off work and walk 30 min. to meet with friends
6 PM~ Go to TongHua Night Market with friends
12 AM~ Go to Party World KTV at XiMenDing with friends
5 AM~ Walk to Chang Kei-Shek Memorial Hall for the flag-raising
6 AM SHARP~ Flag-raising
7:30 AM~ Go to office
8:30 AM~ Begin work again
12:30 PM~ Go home and shower and blog!

I met up with two Taiwanese and one American-Born Taiwanese friend (just like me!) for this fantastic adventure. Evelyn pointed out how Taiwan has so many 24-hour shops. Of course the convenience stores (7-11, Family Mart, Hi-Life, OK Mart) are all open 24 hours a day, but now there are also grocers, Watson's (a pharmacy type shop like Walgreen's in the USA), and other random shops like a massage parlor near my work, some restaurants/eateries/fast food, and I've even seen 24-hour conveyor belt sushi! Internet cafes are also commonly open forever.

Today I would like to share just a bit about the KTV in Taiwan. Note that I have never been to anything like KTV in the USA because Minnesota does not have them, as far as I know. There are karaoke bars, but you have to sing in front of a bar full of strangers, and that is DEFINITELY not something I would be interested in! The east and west coasts probably have KTV where you can rent a room with friends and get food and sing together.

KTV rooms are really nice and since most public transportation stops at midnight, it's a fun and relatively cheap place to spend the night until around 6 AM when everything starts running again.

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Me and Christy at Party World (錢櫃)

With four of us, the cost was NT$335 (~US$12) per person for six hours of singing with NT$399 total "budget" for food from the menu. You can order more food and just pay the difference. We slipped in some beer in our bags so we wouldn't have to pay for the alcohol at the KTV. I find that this is a nice way to have a fun night without spending too much money

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It was light out by the time we came out! Evelyn, Christy, and I are marveling at the UBike stands that have just been installed at XiMenDing. It's a renting bike system that is expanding. Actually, I have no idea how to use it but it's great and I've seen many other people using it :P I just haven't had to go anywhere that wasn't work and home recently.

The next part may sound boring, but it was actually sort of cool. I haven't attended a flag-raising since the one at the president's hall for Taiwan 100th birthday at New Year's.

We went to the one that happens every morning at Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The precision that the personnel in charge of the flag-raising do is very ritualistic and cool.

There are definitely way cooler photos of Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall online, but I took some photos too!

This is one of the performance halls:
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This is the actual memorial:
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The flag-raising ceremony began exactly as the sun began to peek over the top of the buildings in the distance and the national anthem was played. There were very few people there, but many older people exercising in the open area. Open area is very difficult to come by in Taipei! The entire ceremony was very peaceful and really quite awesome to watch. I'm a little embarrassed that I've lived here for three years and only just attended one ceremony now.

Sorry I don't have more photos. My cell phone was running out of battery by this point!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stay Safe! Typhoon Season is Here!

Starting from yesterday Taiwan had been on typhoon watch so here's a shout out to any readers in the area to stay safe! The condition had been all right where I am. School and work was halted yesterday afternoon so I came home to my mom's place. So far there gave been no reported casualties but some places have experienced power outages due to falling trees and some people have been relocated due to a history of mudslides in the area. Some road signs gave fallen and at least one road is blocked from rockslides and one from a roof being blown off into the road. A ground floor cafe actually had its front window blown in, covering a patron in shattered glass.

Some places are flooded, but where I am it is simply pouring rain and very windy.

I hope all of you are safe where you are!

I'm posting from my mobile so I apologize for any spelling or formatting issues -_-

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lolita Association: An organization of Lolitas? + Misako Event in Taiwan

In the past there has been joking about an "underground" or "secret" organization of Lolitas with memberships and such. Some of you may already know about the Japanese Lolita Association or have accounts, but the reason I bring it up again is because this association actually seems to be growing!

Here in Taiwan, we have our own Kawaii Ambassador and there are events by the association. While this may sound like a fun thing, I am actually finding it to be a bit pretentious or overly "official" for my tastes (please don't axe me!) I do have a profile though! Here I am!

Don't get me wrong, I DO love the Lolita fashion is growing and kawaii culture is growing, but to organize a fashion into an actual association just seems... unnecessary? That would be like trying to get all the punks of the world to sign up in a British Punk Association, in my opinion!

Enough with the ranting. Association or no association, Japan's Kawaii Ambassador, Misako Aoki, is hosting two tea parties in Taiwan! One in Taichung and one in Taipei (where I am)
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Being a member has got its perks ;)
Being a member and wearing Lolita fashion will make your entrance fee NT$990
If you are not a member OR not wearing Lolita fashion, your entrance fee will be NT$1100
And if you are neither a member nor a Lolita, your entrance fee becomes NT$1200

I am still on the fence about whether I want to go or not. I am a huge fan of Misako and would LOVE to meet her, but in addition to the language barrier, I'm afraid of the event being too formal to really get to meet or chat.

Thus far, the rundown consists of:
Lolita tea party
Misako's first overseas performance of Lolitina
Lolita Q&A
Misako's Best Dressed Picks (two best coords of the day)
Misako's Accessories Sale
~Poster for $200 + autograph
~Book for $600 + autograph
~Brooch for $150
~Ribbon Ring for $200
~Postcard for $100 + autograph
~Travel Cup Bag for $300
~Ribbon Hat for $700
~Misako's Secondhand Dresses (prices vary)

I just.... really want an Usakumya!!! I don't know if that would count as one of her secondhand dresses though!! Probably not, because it's not a dress.

What are your thoughts on having a Lolita Association? Or on every country having a Kawaii Ambassador? It's really not THAT big a deal, just strikes me as redundant. By the way, I think I finally got my commenting system fixed!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sparkle Stitches~ Candy Covered Buttons

Sweets for summer! Sorry I haven't been updating much. I thought summer would mean lots of spare time and posts. Evidently, it is not so.

Yesterday I had some spare time and decided to do some hand sewing and use up some of the fabric-covered button bases I have.
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It is very simple and doesn't take much time!

*Fabric-covered button bases
*Scrap fabric
*Elastic (hair elastics or elastic thread you can use to make your own)

NOTE: There are a lot of tutorials online for the basic, fabric-covered button already, so I will be abbreviating that portion!
1) Cover button
Cut your fabric to be slightly larger than your button base.
Hand-sew a straight gathering stitch around the perimeter, pull the thread, and place it over the domed button.
Do not put the button back on yet!

2) Make your candy ties
Cut your ribbon to double the length you want one tie. Fold it in half, pleat, and stitch in place.
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Here I've shown one half stitched on and one not stitched on.
Stitch the ribbon ties to the seam allowance of the gathered candy button base.
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3) Put the back on and add elastic
Snap the back of the button on. You can add a spot of glue if you want, but since the elastic will keep the back on, I didn't bother.
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If you have ready hair elastics, thread it through the button back and loop it through itself.
If you are using elastic, cut a length and knot it off. Loop it through itself through the button, keeping the knot hidden. You can use a single candy on one elastic, or do two on one like the upper picture.

Note! In the double-candy elastic, I used fabric squares for the candy ties, but I think ribbon is cleaner, faster, and easier
Point! Add embellishments! I've used netting overlay on a few candies. You can also add thin ribbon at the ties, add embroidery or cabochans to the candy center, use lace, etc. Let your imagination go wild!
Point! Use these buttons for headbands, badges, decoration, jewelry, magnets, or anything else you can think of

Please share any crafts you do with covered buttons! I bought a pack of 100 so I'm looking for more ideas to use them up!