Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Joy of Etsy Treasuries

It seems as though Etsy Treasuries are pretty popular at the moment! I've shopped on Etsy for a long time but never tried a treasury of my own until now. I created one for morigirl and one for dolly kei, though I made them a little more structured than traditional treasuries. Each horizontal row has the key ingredients for a coordinate, although it would be up to the buyer to find more accessories and layers, especially for dolly kei outfits. Considering how many layers both of these fashions typically have, limiting each coordinate row to only four pieces was pretty challenging. Take a look for yourself!

I'll post more treasuries in future if everyone likes these-- maybe ones for lolita and natural kei!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Whenever I bake a Christmas dessert for my family I usually make a pie, but this year I decided to make an apple cake instead. For as long as I can remember, my family has used a Depression-era recipe that's quite simple but still turns out delicious every time.
Apple Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
     3 or 4 Granny Smith apples
     5 tablespoons sugar
     1 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and slice the apples into medium-sized slices. Mix the apples, sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl and let the mixture stand while you prepare the rest of the batter.
     3 cups flour
     2 cups sugar
     3 teaspoons baking powder
     4 eggs
     1 cup oil
     1/2 cup orange juice
Mix these ingredients together in another bowl until completely blended. Pour about a third of the batter into a greased bundt pan, then add about half of the apples, then pour on another layer of batter, then another layer of apples, and finally pour on one last layer of batter.
Bake for about an hour and 20 minutes, or until the surface browns and cracks.

Here's what the finished product looks like in case anyone is curious:
Observe the strata of cinnamon apples in each slice:
In celebration of the season, I put together a holiday-themed lolita coordinate. Lately my mind has been so full of toy soldiers, nutcrackers, and the Little Drummer Boy that everything I coordinate ends up looking vaguely military.
Skirt: Innocent World
Blouse: Anna Sui for Target
Jacket, necklace, and faux fur collar (taken from a sweater): Forever 21
Cap and bag: vintage
Bear brooch: Wonderful World
Velvet cockade: Morrigan NYC
Pearl chain brooch and white flower brooch: gifts from friends
I'm sure everyone can see a bit of dolly fashion inspiration in this outfit as well. ♥

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Morigirl Secret Santa Gift Preview

I'm participating in the morigirl livejournal community's secret santa gift exchange, so I decided to contribute something appropriate for the season: a winter accessories set.
For the earmuffs, I wrapped the headband in ribbon, gluing it in place as I went along. This particular ribbon looks nice wrapped because it's double sided-- one side fawn-colored velvet and the other side light blue satin. 
Next, I made two bows, glued them on each side, and added some adorable wool felted acorns.
For the scarf, I tied cream-colored pom-pom trim around alternating tassels at the hem and stitched it in place. Then I finished off one side with velvet ribbon to match the earmuffs and the other side with bows made from lace remnants. 
I like the assymetry of the scarf because I feel like it fits in well with the whimsical, handmade aspect of morigirl style.
Now it's all wrapped up and ready to ship. I hope whoever receives this set likes my gift!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dances of Vice: Secret Life of Toys

Tonight I'm going to the Dances of Vice: The Secret Life of Toys event in New York City! I'm modeling for the I Do Declare fashion show, so I'm really looking forward to this event. From what I've seen, Kelsey's new pieces are gorgeous, like always!
image from dancesofvice.com
When I'm not busy getting ready for the fashion show, I'll be wearing a coordinate inspired by teddy bears.
And here's a closeup of the faux fur stole! I piled on the decorations because Dances of Vice is always so over the top.
Jumperskirt: Metamorphose
Velvet cardigan: Metamorphose
Velvet cockade brooch: Morrigan NYC
Teddy bear brooches: Wonderful World
Pearl chain brooch: a handmade gift from a friend

If you're coming to the event, say hi!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where and How to Buy Pink House Online

image from the Pink House webshop
Natural kei is one of those styles that takes my breath away every time I see it done well, particularly clothes from the brand Pink House. Pink House clothes are so feminine and whimsical-- they vary in style from delicate to rustic and never fail to cheer me up. Collecting Pink House pieces has recently become a passion of mine, so I thought I would relate how I buy them without breaking the bank.

If you want to buy new clothes directly from the brand, the Pink House online store is still up and running. Unfortunately, buying directly from the source can be very, very expensive. A single new Pink House dress can be as much as 79,800 yen (roughly $951 USD according to the current exchange rate)-- a staggering figure, especially considering how many other pieces are necessary to put together a complete outfit. The complete cost of the layered outfit and accessories shown above would be astronomical.

Needless to say, I've never bought anything directly from the Pink House web shop. For now, I've been collecting used Pink House clothes from online auctions and my experiences have all been good. Since the brand has been around for over 30 years, you can imagine the sheer amount of clothes available for sale by former collectors and current wearers of the brand. The two Japanese auction sites I use most often are Yahoo!Japan Auctions and Mbok. Since I don't know Japanese, it's easiest for me to rely on general brand categories like the following:
Yahoo!Japan: Pink House
Mbok: Pink House
Within each category, the clothes are sorted into subcategories by type. There is a category for long dresses, one for cardigans, one for bags, one for blouses, etc.

If the brand-specific categories don't turn up anything you like, you can try copy/pasting "Pink House" or "ピンクハウス" into the search blank of either site. This may seem like a useless process since the brand categories already exist, but it can be helpful in finding items that sellers have placed in the wrong category.

Speaking of sellers, there are several of them on Yahoo!Japan Auctions that consistently sell Pink House and other natural kei brands, so I often visit them to hunt for bargains. Here's a list of their usernames, so click the links to visit their pages:

Once you've found your perfect outfit on Yahoo!Japan Auctions or Mbok, you can't simply bid on the items you want; most people living outside Japan need a shopping service to bid for them. The shopping service usually takes a money deposit through Paypal, bids for you, and then sends you the item when the auction is won. There are many shopping service options out there such as i-TM4UMukunoki-jp, Japonica Market, Japan Auction Center, and Rinkya.

Shopping services can also be used to purchase clothes from web shops! Here is a small list of some of the online stores that carry used Pink House clothing:
Cotton Garden
Tartan Check
Club Candy
Alice + Fururun (no shopping service needed because they ship internationally!)

When I first started buying Pink House clothes, I set a simple rule for myself: don't buy anything more expensive than 10000 yen. Sticking to this rule wasn't as limiting as you might think because there are many cheap pieces for sale-- you just have to shop around for them. I managed to find many bargains that I now treasure just because I shopped carefully rather than recklessly. Now that I have more experience with the fashion, I've branched out to include more expensive pieces that I like, but having this relatively thrifty starting point has helped me to achieve some moderation in my Pink House spending habits.

In case anyone is interested in seeing more examples of Pink House clothes and clothes from other natural kei brands, visit the "What is natural kei?" page.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giveaway Winner Announcement

Thank you to the 53 people who participated in the morigirl bag giveaway by commenting on my last post! I put all the names into a randomizer and chose the first one on the list:

Miss Eliza Sea

Congratulations! Send your contact information to mossgardenblog@gmail.com and I'll send you the prize. ♥
image from Pink House webshop
In other news, I just added another style page-- "What is natural kei?"-- to the "What is..." pages about lolita, morigirl, and dolly fashion under the blog header. Most of the information comes from my Out of the Woods panel, but I added and clarified a few things and included new photos. If you have any interest in natural kei, please check it out!