Pretty Maids all in a Row

the ultimate organized lolita wardrobe

A place for everything and everything in its place.  In our last home we didn’t have proper closets.  So it is really refreshing to have 3 in the new house.  There is another one upstairs but it needs some drywall before we can confidently increase the count to 4.  We were patient and thankfully the Elfa Sale started right after Christmas.  It was so worth it.

The shelving is 30% off which is the best part.  But on top of that, because Container Store doesn’t have a Connecticut store we had them deliver the materials to our house which meant it was an online transaction and no sales tax!  So that saved us enough money to also splurge on having it professionally installed, which was also 30% off.

We will also invest in a few standalone wardrobes from Ikea.  And when that is all said in done it meant that I am able to have one closet completely dedicated to my “play” clothes.  Yes, I officially have a J-Fashion / Lolita closet!

a look inside my wardrobe

This closet is in the sewing room and I hope serves as inspiration to get back into my Candy Shoppe Girl collection challenge.  Originally the closet had an ancient wooden rod that was at risk of snapping in two at any moment.  That and a rickety shelf made by two warped boards precariously floating above the rod.

With the Elfa system, we were able to design it to be split into two halves – one side for long hang and the other for short hang.  Dresses, blouses and skirts each have their own rod.  We also squeezed in 4 shelves.  The one below the blouses will be for boxes of jewelry, above the dresses will be boxes of bloomers, cardigans and other bits and bobs.  The final two shelves are for purses.  Mind you, still really don’t have a clue how to store petticoats – hum.  For now, we have also temporarily put a tie rack on the door to hang necklaces and pochettes from.  The posts are too close together so all the necklaces are jammed in.  Its fine as an interim solution since I need to pace out the spend on our home improvements and we already had the rack making it free so to speak.

More work to do but having a well organized closet is giving me peace of mind.  Hopefully we can hit Ikea this weekend and by the end of the month should be able to completely finish unpacking all our boxes!! Yay!!

Home Sweet Home – Getting Settled In

swimmer house room diorama clocksHouse diorama clocks from uber kawaii Japanese brand SWIMMER.
Sewing Room  |  Kitchen  |  Bathroom  |  Living Room

Our new place is slowly starting to feel like home.  Living room is in great shape, bedroom not too shabby, bathroom almost there. However the kitchen is unpacked but far from organized, sewing room is a disaster, and don’t dare go into the basement – no seriously.

container store elfa office

What is holding us back right now is a desperate hope that Container Store will start their annual Elfa Sale this week.  Fingers are crossed.  We have a 1940’s linen closet that we would very much like to transform into a proper 21st Century clothing closet.  The kitchen is in need of more shelving and storage.  There are a fair amount of cabinets but Mr. Chef has lots and lots of gadgets to produce the most heavenly nom noms.  And then back to the sewing room… in the last place I had a ridiculous amount of space for the ridiculous amount of fabric I have.  Pretty sure I am going to need more than just Elfa and editing to solve for this challenge.  So pretty much my security deposit from the last place is going to be happily spent at the Container Store and promptly.

ikea pax wardrobe with interior organizers

A trip to IKEA is also in the works.  Closet space is, well, not great.  We have 3 but they are small and old.  So the plan is to get a few wardrobes from IKEA to throw in the sewing room.  Both for clothing and fabric storage.  All those lolita dresses have gotta go someplace!

 

 

Home Décor: Will My Color Palette Hold True?

I’ve moved a lot.  Detroit to Chicago to Greenwich, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Armonk… In the early years this usually meant having to fork over several paychecks to purchase all new furniture that would work in each new apartment.  I am hoping that with age comes wisdom and that some of my better pieces I now have will be flexible and space neutral.  No matter what, there are always special needs with each new home, usually having to do with addressing storage.  So I am certain to be visiting the Container Store and IKEA – a lot.

What will be the true test with this move is color.  In the last couple of places I started to settle in on a more consistent color palette for walls, furniture and accessories.  But I have also been living in an open-concept space and will be moving to a traditional divided space with lots of rooms.  I am wondering if my choices will still work.  For example I like dark furniture pieces, and they worked well to ground my current place since it was so large.  Will they work in my new home or will they feel too heavy?

My Current Color Palette

Here is what I have settled on in my last two homes:

a winning home decor color palette

  1. Trim = white.  Super easy to clean and touch up if little chips happen over time.  White is just fresh and goes with about any decoration style you can think of.  I like Behr brand’s Ultra Pure White.  My gut tells me this will still be true in the new house.  This is a classic for a reason.
  2. Walls = beige.  Beige is not boring!  First of all beige is soft and reflects light, which is critical to making small spaces feel more warm and inviting.  Second, beige is the perfect canvas for even the craziest and brightest of artwork – which puts the emphasis, rightfully so, on the art and not your sheetrock. Beige is a proven safe bet for staging, and when the time comes to sell or move, means there is no frantic rush to repaint the whole place.  And my favorite part is that there is a little magic in the combination of beige plus white trim when used in older homes that have seen some wear-and-tear.  Soft beige is one of white’s nearest neighbors color-wise and this helps to hide many of the wobbles where a wall ends and the trim molding begins. My absolute favorite paint is Bear’s Informal Ivory.  Later this week a fresh coat of this color will be going up in my new living room.  I have 100% confidence in it.
  3. Floors = medium brown wood.  To begin, hardwood is one of the best things you can do for the resale value of a home (true the prize goes to having a new/renovated kitchen and bath).  Wood is fantastic for anyone who suffers from allergies (take it from me carpet is evil.)  While not everyone has a choice in this regard, a classic brown wood tone with a hint of golden red in the grain really warms up a space.  My new place has a combination of some rooms in wood and some in laminate all roughly the same medium brown tone.  The only room that is carpeted is the living room which I will have to live with.
  4. Furniture = dark brown/black wood?  Like I said this is going to be the test if my current style will hold true in the new home or was a of-the-moment option.  I am hopeful because the use of a few dark wood furniture pieces really shines against the base palette described above.  But I think I might need to lighten things up with some white or upholstered pieces.

Accents

This is where things always get interesting in a new space.  I have toggled between two different styles for the most part.  The first because is is so comforting and calm and the second because of my love for Hawaii.

Chic Retreat / Soothing Spa:

touches of pink interior

Japanese Style Point:  The asanoha pattern on the pillows.
  1. Celadon blue – While I think this was slightly overdone in around early 2000, I still adore the soft and soothing feel of celadon.  I have several Asian vases this color and they are so calm and yet so refined.  I also have a beautiful rug in this color that currently was in my sewing room but I think will transition to my new bedroom.
  2. + Soft pink – I love it.  However, the trick is to keep this to a very small quantity, we are talking about an accent here, so I will need to show restraint.  Its OK if it explodes inside the closet, just not in the rest of the house. 

celadon spa interior

Japanese Style Point:  The ceramics look like a modern version of kokeshi.

Modern Tropics:

  1. Navy blue & white –  I first picked up this color scheme from Asian vases, but quickly learned when applied to curtain valances and other accents really adds a rich and sophisticated feel to a home.  These colors can work in either a traditional setting or a very modern style.  This combo also has a cooling effect in the summer, something the Japanese have known for ages and have applied to both their interiors and fashion.
  2. + Sage/lime green – This is what gives the nod to the tropics.  You see this color in most tropical fabrics – the color of plants and palm fronds.  But I prefer to use it sparingly.  A vase here and there.  A candle stick holder.  And mostly the real deal, in live plants.

modern tropics interior

Japanese Style Point:  The entry way is from my favorite book, Blue and White Japan.

Current Thinking

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration and these three photos really spoke to me.  Soft, relaxed and clean.  Like I said, might need to drop some of my dark furniture pieces and mix in more white.  At least that is where my head is at right now.  Will only know for sure once we move in and I can start playing around.

new home mood board 2013

Japanese Style Point:  The floor cushions and table are reminiscent of zabuton and chabudai.
Credits:  (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)

Almost Done Packing

sheri is moving to a new home

You know the game where you have to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar?  My house right now is a game of how many boxes are inside!  Lots of boxes.  Boxes everywhere.  But no complaints.  In less than 2 weeks I will have a new Home Sweet Home.

Will still be a renter, but for the first time will have a detached, no one above me and no one below me, house.  After 7 years living at my current forest abode it was time to go.  I was very tempted by several town homes and their pristine modern amenities, but most lacked the space I need to have a comfortable place with a dedicated room for sewing and working. So me and my buddy decided on a cute 2 story house back in Connecticut.  Yep after a dozen or so years of NY, its time to cross the border again back to where I first landed when I moved to the East Coast.  The super bonus of being back in Connecticut?  I get my Greenwich Beach Pass back again – yay!!!!

sewing room reduced to boxes

I’ve learned that I don’t have a lot of stuff except for one thing.  I have a ridiculous amount of fabric!  Those boxes pictured above, yikes, they are mostly fabric!!!  I like things to be clean, simple, and organized.  While I won’t go so far as to say I like an empty room.  I like just enough furniture and decorations to make a space warm and friendly.  But apparently that same “well edited” quality doesn’t apply to my relationship with fabric.  I want it ALL!  The better half was not far off when he commented this weekend that I could open my own fabric store.  Ouch!  So I am going to make myself an early New Year’s resolution.  I am not allowed to buy more fabric until I have made a serious dent in this pile.

One Moment Please

pastel pause button

Life’s Sweet Essentials lately has been Life’s Stressed Out and Too Much to Do and Barely Getting By Only On the Essentials.  The past month has been filled with both the good and the bad.  From the loss of a loved one, to a stunning vacation in paradise, to getting back to school, to visiting with friends from far away, to having my landlady push my buttons too far, to house hunting, to meeting Chef Morimoto, to packing… oh and of course it is reorg season at work.

I won’t kid you; it has all been a bit too much for me.  I like things simple and lately it has been anything but simple.  The only way I have made it through is by focusing on the moment at hand.  Otherwise my mind races out of control and I get anxious.  Still so much needs to be done and I am admitting that it isn’t all going to turn out perfect.  Time to prioritize and pick my battles.

Looking on the bright side, the amazing news is I will have a smashing new place to move into over the Thanksgiving holiday.  And that is something to be thankful for.  And that also means splurging on Life’s Sweet Essentials #3 – Shelter.  This little blog of mine has largely focused on my Obsession for all things Japanese and mostly around Clothing and Food.  So I think it will be fun to share how we transform our next place into Home Sweet Home.

So for now, posts will be fewer and far between and sewing will be paused until I have a new studio space to play in.  Stay tuned!

 

 

M&J Trimming in NYC Garment District

m&j trimming floor to ceiling ribbon

I can spend hours in trim shops. Hours!  What about this lace with this one.  Oh look at this ribbon, does it go with that one over there.  What about these buttons. Ahhhhhhhh – the sewing version of a candy shop.  And M&J Trimming in NYC Garment District never disappoints.

m&j trimming eyelet lace

I want to buy 10 yards of just about every single version of their eyelet lace.  Ironically I’ve only added a few to my stash.  I need to rethink that strategy in the future.  There are other trim shops whose prices are a bit less expensive, but when you need to get in and out quickly and be assured you will have a quality lace, M&J is tops.

where to find cluny lace in nyc

I don’t know why but I am addicted to cluny lace.  I love how soft it is and also pretty.  White and cream is the mainstay.  But there is a good variety of black.  And also a smattering of colored laces.  Sadly, not enough pastels for my liking.

colorful pleated ribbon lace for sewing

Every time I am in the shop I stand in front of the pleated section and just stare.  Look at all those colors! For some reason I haven’t yet splurged on these beauties.  Not sure yet what to make with them.

sew on flowers and roses

There are is also a huge section of the classics.  Ribbon roses and bows galore.  All of my camis as a kid had these roses sewn on them.  I always feel awkward using them now because I can’t not think of them as undie pretties.

Links:  Eyelet Lace  |  Cluny Lace  |  Pleated

ConnectiCon 2013

lolita horns headress connecticon 2013

Whilst I have a pause in sewing until the weekend, thought I’d take a short detour with today’s post.  A few weekends ago I made my way up to Hartford to attend ConnectiCon.  I am certainly no expert on conventions but this one was not too small and not too big.  Really quite fun.  I am still just blown away by the creativity and energy everyone pours into their coordinates.  As much as I enjoyed the cosplay I admit I was drawn to this one for the swap meet and seeing friends.

Here are some random snaps from the day.  Most of my time was spent in the Lolita 101 Panel, the Lolita Swap Meet, and then time wandering around Artist Alley and the Dealers Room.  Check out my review of Tasty Peach Studios as well – best booth at the Con!

lolita swap meet victoria suzanne parfaitdollParfaitDoll at the Swap Meet
moco moco stars kawaii accessoriesMoko Moko Star Facinators
sugary carnival top hat lolita boothSugary Carnival Tophat
kawaii plush toys dealers roomPastel Plushies in Pearls
sailor moon pillow cases Sailor Moon Pillow Cases
lolita kneesLolita Knees {photo by Grace}
grace looking good in kodona boy styleGrace
doctor who weaping angels cosplayWeeping Angels
connecticon 2013 rose queen best cosplayQueen of the Con

Checkout Lolita and the City’s posts for great photos of all the lolitas and a recap of the weekend.

Review: Kinokuniya Bookweb Service

Recently Kinokuniya promoted a  free shipping day.  Anything ordered on their Bookweb  site (kinokuniya.com/us) could be shipped for free with in the US.  While we are lucky and have a physical location here in NYC, it isn’t always convenient to run down from the burbs.  I used the site once before to purchase the latest Lolita Sewing Book (乙女のソーイングBOOK 3) which I doubted they would have on the shelves in the city.  That went well, so I couldn’t miss out on the free shipping opportunity.

kinokuniya free shipping offer june 2013

Their website has undergone many improvements over the last few years.  But I think they still have a ways to go to compete with the larger online book retailers.  They are the top dog when it comes to the niche on Japanese literature here in the States.  But what I found myself doing was opening two tabs in my browser; one to look up the ISBNs for the books I want on Amazon.jp and the second to use the advanced search form of Kinokuniya to add the books to my order.  On Bookweb most of my keyword searches were unsuccessful or my attempt at keying in the appropriate name in kana/kanji were not right.  Amazon was both more forgiving and easier to search.

On the free shipping day the site was also not performing well in terms of speed.  So I received several timeout errors from their server.  I was determined to complete my purchase and stuck with it to the end.  But my guess is many other people would have given up.

Their shipping service is great.  The package arrived very promptly.  They packaged the books well using good thick paper to keep them from shifting around inside the box.  I also signed up for their membership program some time ago, which meant on top of the free shipping I received 10% off my purchase.

All in all I will definitely use the service again.  It is the easiest way to get my hands on some of the most esoteric kawaii mooks and other books from Japan.  In fact there is a mook from one of my favorite brands Milk that I am coveting currently.  If I had to give Kino a rating, right now I give them a 3 out of 5 stars for easy of use on the site and 5 out of 5 stars for access to hard to come by Japanese publications.

loving kinokuniya bookweb service

And with that said, now onto the goodies I got: the latest Gothic & Lolita Bible, Angelic Pretty Museum mook with totebag, and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright stationary set.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Stationary Set

The best part about this item?  It is listed as Out of Stock on Kino’s site.  But they allow you to add it to your shopping cart anyway and will research if they can get it for you regardless.  In this case, they got back to me within 24 hours saying they are able to get it (despite the Out of Stock listing) and automatically added it to my order.  You can’t beat that!

baby the stars shine bright staionary set

btssb stationary and cosmetics bag

I debated ordering the stationary set and my initial gut reaction was right.  It isn’t the highest quality promotion around especially for the price once you add the markup for getting it out of Japan.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it is from Baby {I am a brand whore} and has their fabulous prints I would pass; the quality of the materials used is mediocre.  Alas, I’m a sucker for the Strawberry Letters print and so I will absolutely put the set to good use.  Small post-it notes come in very handy when doing Japanese homework so those will most likely be the first item to go.  Not sure what to do with the book cover yet.  Might cut it up and do a DIY project of some sort. We shale see.

Angelic Pretty Museum Mook & Totebag

This was a no-brainer – MUST HAVE IT.  And yep, it is pretty much fantastic.  The tote bag is a vinyl material, which I thought I might not like, but I do.  Means it can easily be wiped clean and put to some thorough use.  I also thought I would like it in one of the pastel color ways, but black is awesome.  I matched it with a sax blue coordinate already and it added a nice additional layer to the overall look.

angelic pretty sugary carnival tote bag

angelic pretty logo on mook packaging

angelic pretty sugary carnival tote detail

inside the angelic pretty museum e-mook

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

 

 

 

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

On a perfect spring day in San Francisco, a Wednesday to be precise, with just 15 minutes before closing, I entered the Japanese Tea Garden for a stroll.  This traditional garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the oldest of its kind in the United States.  Perhaps it was because it was a work-day, its hard to know for sure, but I practically had the place to myself.  There were a young family completing a vacation to-do, a romantic couple oblivious to all and basking in each other, as well as two local ladies quietly bringing each other up to speed on the latest gossip. I, well I was the one squatting here-and-there or leaning precariously over the water’s edge, camera in hand clicking away, wishing to put to film some of the surrounding beauty.

golden gate park japanese tea garden

Admission $7.00. This time of year the park officially closes at 6:00pm.  What I learned is you just need to arrive by 6; the bonus, once inside, you can linger long after the main gate is closed.  While this meant missing the gift shop and tea house hours, the experience was perhaps more delightful.  No commerce to distract oneself with thus putting more emphasis on taking in the charm of the garden.

kakitsubata japanese rabbit ear iris

I have a soft spot for kakitsubata, rabbit ear irises, and there were several patches in bloom and dotting the water’s edge.  They symbolize June for me and foreshadow the coming of long summer days.  Monet kept coming to mind while gazing into the reflections on the water’s surface.

pagoda at japanese tea garden sf

japanese moon bridge in garden

Sunset wasn’t far off and the angle of the sun’s rays reflected the moon bridge perfectly into the pond it adorns. This seemed to me like a visual metaphor where the reflection closes the circle.  This allowing the bridge to mimic the full moon by day only to be replaced by the actual full moon at night.

worlds fair japanese garden in san francisco

lord buddha with hydrangea

sf japanese garden koi pond

japanese garden stepping stones

The garden is small but well laid out. I can imagine it is less romantic when crowded on busy days. So I hope, if you visit, that you too will be fortunate to have a little slice of the garden all to yourself like my experience.

Bonus Trip: San Francisco Frill Stop

Sometimes having a “corporate” job and being a “creative” type is challenging.  But every now and then it rewards you with an incredible treat.  Last week I was urgently sent to San Francisco for meetings at a new branch of our company.  Poor me.  He-he-he.

The trip was short but had enough wiggle room to squeeze in a very expeditious tour of my favorite SF spots:

Angelic Pretty

san francisco angelic pretty milky planet

Walking into AP was a lolita’s dream come true – a major shipment had just arrived and dresses were literally everywhere! Milky Planet adorned the window along with a gaggle of Shyness Bear socks.  They were too tempting; I walked out with a pair in sax plus a Milky Planet Ice Cream pin.

Baby The Stars Shine Bright

san francisco baby the stars shine bright

I was slightly disappointed at Baby.  For some reason the shop seemed to be pretty thin on variety.  At first I thought, maybe it was my perspective after the experience at AP.  But I don’t think that was the case.  Last time I was there I was ready to blow the bank and walk out with about 4 different dresses.  This time a floral chiffon piece was the only temptation.  So I managed to keep my credit card nicely tucked away.

That didn’t stop me from splurging on a couple goodies at…

New People the Store

kawaii goods at new people store

Came home from New People with a Ribbonholic Tripple Ribbon bag charm and kawaii deer earrings.  I have an idea of reusing the earrings somehow with Milky-chan. There were lots of Liz Lisa and Rilakkuma items on the main floor as well.  Too much cuteness!

Needed to chill for a few minutes to check in on emails and make a call so made myself at home in the Crown & Crumpet tea cafe.  Not a bad place to work remotely if you have to ;) The decor was a mix of Victorian and French Country somehow perfectly blended into the ultra modern building.  The tea pot flower arrangements were simply adorable.

SF crown and crumpet japantown

Daiso

daiso moco moco and nail art

Up next was a race through Daiso.  Everything is $1.50 so impulse shopping is fairly safe.  I walked away with lots of moco-moco gloves and legwarmers for next winter, pink sparkly nail art packs, a couple plastic ribbon hair ties, rhinestones to deco my new camera, and set of pink strawberry bento boxes to keep sewing embellishments in.

West Mall

sailor moon binder and file folders

Best find of the day was a Sailor Moon 3-ring binder and plastic file folders.  While Usagi-chan is not very good at homework, she will be a good inspiration for me to do mine. (Semester 5 Japanese just got underway!)

After speed shopping I realized the Japanese Garden would be open for another 40 minutes just before sunset.  Figured it was worth a try… but that will have to wait until another post (still need to sort through the ton of photos.)

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