Monday, 29 August 2016

Back To School: Supplies, Kawaii Edition!

Hello! ♡
It's hard to believe that Summer is ending, but here we are- school is starting up again. Shopping for school supplies is oddly satisfying- all those cute, new notebooks and pens make me feel happier about the start of school. I finally have all my school supplies ready, so I can make a post about them! If you haven't finished shopping for school yet, hopefully this post will be a source of inspiration.
Since I love kawaii things, I bought as many cute things as possible, and here they are!

Bag
I really love my school bag this year... I wanted to use my adorable pastel blue shoulder bag, but I figured it wouldn't be too comfortable, so I got a backpack.
On the zip of the backpack I attached a silver heart-shaped keyring with my name on it, it's super adorable and makes the bag feel more personal. There's also lots of space for all my things, and useful pockets. I use the front pocket for personal things and emergency items (more on that later!) and the inside is for my books, pencil case and other things. I think the bag is really cute, with the pastel blue and the combination of flowers and polka dots.
Pencil case
I absolutely love my pencil case... it's really adorable, and reminds me of Angelic Pretty's Romantic Rose Letter print in sax blue. It has lots of space for all my things, and even has a little mirror on the inside, a very useful feature. The pencil case is cute and elegant at the same time, and has four pockets. I bought this from WHSmith, but that was last year and I'm not sure if it's still available. There is also a version with a black background. 
So, what's in my pencil case? In the largest pocket, I keep my coloured pencils, as well as my sharpeners, erasers, highlighters, fineliners, correction fluid, glue and USB stick.

My set of coloured pencils ^^ They're very useful, and in all the colours I need. 

Fineliners! They're great for making notes attractive and colourful. 

Yes, my sharpener has to be cute. It's an adorable heart shape, with an even cuter eraser with it. 

My USB stick! Really, it's not that special, but it's a very pretty pastel blue so I thought I'd include a picture.

Cute erasers! I bought the strawberry eraser at WHSmith, then there's a plain eraser, and then an Iwako eraser I bought at Empik (though I also saw them at WHSmith) which is way too cute to use, but it's in my pencil case because it's so pretty! 

Highlighters! I got them as a gift and I absolutely love them, because they're pandas! I have three other colours too, but I put those away for future use. Highlighters are great for studying- they help me a lot and make my notes brighter. 

In the mesh pockets, I keep my scissors and geometry set for Maths- ruler, set squares, protractor and compass, with a small pencil. I found a pink ruler, scissors and compass, to make it all a little cuter ^^

Next- pens! I got three pens at Hyper Japan, and one pen I bought at a grocery store, because I couldn't resist the cuteness ^^ My favourite pen is the Hello Kitty pen, but I love them all. I also bought two HB pencils. The strawberry milk pen has erasable pink, which is very useful, and the Kokeshi pen is super adorable!

Emergency Kit
In the front pocket of my bag, I keep my emergency kit and personal items. My emergency kit consists of a nail file, perfume, lip gloss, hair clips and ties, tissues, feminine hygiene products, mints, painkillers, lip balm, compact mirror (which comes with a hairbrush which is good for touch-ups throughout the day), hand sanitizer, q-tips, small roll-on deodorant, sunscreen and plasters. Those are things I always carry with me, because I never know if I will get a cut (especially since I can be quite clumsy!) or a huge stomach pain. Practical items that I don't always carry with me include sunscreen and an umbrella. 

The smallest items of my emergency kit are in a small plastic bag so I don't lose them. I don't really have many make-up items in my bag because I generally wear very light make-up to school, and I found that it doesn't really need any touching up throughout the day, so I just take lip gloss and lip balm with me.

Exercise books
I visited several different stores to buy exercise books for school, and thankfully there were plenty of cute ones! Cute exercise books make lessons more enjoyable and are a great way to express yourself. Here are the ones I have:
Some floral patterns, and a nice quote to keep me happy during lessons ^^
Pretty pastels! The one on the right says "good morning beautiful", I think it's a good way to keep my spirits raised, plus it's very, very pretty!
And... lots of rainbows! I love rainbows, so having two rainbow notebooks will surely keep me happy ^^
An elegant rose pattern, and a cute polka dot pattern! I love polka dots, so of course I needed to have a polka dot exercise book.
Don't you agree with those statements? As a lover of both tea and cupcakes, those exercise books are perfect for me, plus... polka dots!
Finally, an adorable exercise book with pretty pastels and a nice overall aesthetic. 

Planner
To keep track of tests, quizzes, essays and so forth, I bought an adorable planner with a cover that is cute and girly. It's an academic calendar, with some useful information and space for my timetable, and plenty of space for notes. It's perfect to keep organised during the school year! 

Calculator

My calculator has to be cute, too! It's a pretty pastel pink, and it's nice to look at so it makes maths more enjoyable. 


Folder
Finally, a folder! Sadly, I couldn't find any cute ones, so I bought a folder that is a nice light blue colour and decorated it a little with rainbow stickers. It contains spare paper- plain, line and grid. It also has space for other papers. Very useful!

So, those are the general items I have for school this year! Do you have any cute supplies for school? Do you like shopping for supplies? Let me know in the comments!
Have a lovely day! 
~LilacBlossom

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

How To: Get Over a Bad Day

Hello! ♡
Bad days happen to absolutely everyone- they're pretty much unavoidable and even the smallest things can trigger them, and they also tend to make us feel unmotivated. However... as I've found, sitting and doing nothing can only make things worse, so I decided to create a list of things that make me feel better when I'm having a bad or stressful day. I reviewed this list yesterday, and decided to share with you the things that worked best for me, in the hopes that if you're having a bad day, trying them out will make you feel better!

(On a side note- you can now follow Lilac's Journal in the sidebar! If you like reading this blog, then I'll highly appreciate if you follow it! ^^)
  1. Go on a walk. Really, it can be very tempting to sit and do nothing on a bad day. However... getting some fresh air, even if it's just a 10-minute walk, can make a difference! Going somewhere helps me to clear my mind and makes me feel refreshed. Going on a walk by yourself is a good way to have some time alone to think while getting fresh air, and also a great opportunity to appreciate your surroundings! 
  2. Go somewhere. If you don't feel like going on a walk, perhaps take a friend with you and go somewhere together (though you can also go alone!). You can visit a park you've never visited before, or perhaps visit one of your favourite places. Go to the mall and splurge a bit on yourself- go wherever you want to go! I really like to go somewhere when I'm feeling down because it's a lot of fun, and is a great opportunity to take my mind off things. My favourite places to go are pretty parks, the mall and coffee shops. I also like to visit different places in my city, such as the market square. 
    A good cappuccino can make a big difference!
  3. Talk to someone. Talk to someone you trust! If you want, you can vent to them about whatever's bothering you- they might be able to give you advice and cheer you up! Or, just have a random conversation with a friend to take your mind off things. I find that talking with a friend always makes me feel better.
  4. Write. Writing is one of the first things I do when I feel down or have a problem. This is because writing can be used to both tackle the problem and take your mind off things. If you want to take your mind off things, just use your imagination and write whatever you want- a story, dreams for the future, whatever! It's a great way to get lost in another world and works well to improve my mood. However, writing about whatever's bothering you is also a great way to put it into perspective and makes it much easier to find a solution, and it's a good way to get it off your chest.
    Writing is even better with a cute pen ^^
  5. Do what you love. Whatever it is that brings you joy,  do it! If you like makeup,  try out a new look. If you like drawing, well... draw something!  If you like fashion, make some outfits on Polyvore or go to the mall and try out some clothes. Doing what you love is a great way to remind yourself of the best things in life!
  6. Exercise. There is science behind this one- exercise releases endorphins, a hormone that improves your mood.  I'm not really a sporty person, but my favourite forms of exercise include cycling, rollerskating, ice-skating, badminton and swimming. Even just some light exercise can make you feel much better! Exercise is also a lot of fun and very healthy, so perhaps go on a short bike ride or do some light aerobic exercises- whatever you're in the mood for ^^
  7. Relax. Treat yourself to a hot bath, which is also a good opportunity for thinking things through and just relaxing. Then make yourself a hot drink, make yourself comfortable and do whatever you find relaxing! I like to watch YouTube videos that interest me, read, write and surf the Internet. By the way, chamomile, lavender and lemon balm teas are great for relaxation!
  8. Tackle the problem. Sometimes it's best to just find a way to tackle whatever's bothering you! Write it out on paper and look for ways to solve it. Approach it calmly and logically! If it's a stressful situation, try to reassure yourself and think of ways to prepare. Sometimes I get paranoid about something I'm stressed about, but when I approach it logically it turns out many of my fears were anything but logical. Whatever is bothering you, look for the best way to solve it!
  9. Work on a goal. Working on a goal will give you a sense of accomplishment and is also a great way to take your mind off things! For instance, if your goal is to learn French, sit down and learn some new vocabulary. Even if it's small, doing something to reach your goal is a great way to feel better and in control.
    Even if it's just reviewing notes, every little step towards a goal counts!
  10. Eat chocolate! This also has science behind it! However, I'd recommend chocolate with 50% cocoa content at the least. The cocoa has several chemicals that are responsible for making us feel good by causing the release of certain neurotransmitters that make us feel happy! One of those chemicals is tryptophan, which causes the release of serotonin, in turn causing a feeling of happiness! Eating chocolate also causes the release of endorphins. So... indulge in a bit of dark chocolate! I'd recommend between 50-75% cocoa content, as anything above that can be too bitter. Though it really depends on your preferences!
When I'm feeling down, I usually look at the list I made and do at least one thing from it, and it always makes me feel better! Remember that bad days happen to the best of us and that it's okay to treat yourself every now and then. I'd also recommend making your own list of things that make you feel better when you're down. Different things work for different people, but I hope that this post is helpful in dealing with a bad day! A few other things I like to do when I'm feeling down include looking through some inspirational quotes, listening to music, making and eating my favourite foods, such as dango. Again, I hope this post was helpful to you!
 Have a lovely day!
~LilacBlossom

Friday, 12 August 2016

Green Tea Smoothie

Hello! ♡
While it's still summer, I thought I'd share a smoothie recipe with you. Unfortunately, it has been a lot cooler here over the past few days and I take that as a sign to enjoy the summer while it's still here!
Last August, I remember there was a heatwave here and temperatures were nearly 40 degrees celsius, and in general it was very nice and summery throughout the month. Unfortunately, this August the weather forecast looks quite bleak here for the rest of the month. Yesterday morning, it was only around 14 degrees celsius! How is the weather where you live? Also, who is watching the meteor shower tonight? This year the meteor shower is meant to be more intense than the past few years, and thankfully there is meant to be a clear sky where I live tonight. Perhaps leave a comment and let me know! ^^

(On a little side note, I switched over to a Google+ profile! In the sidebar, you can easily follow me if you'd like to. I'd highly appreciate if you could!)

I love smoothies, because there are so many different variations! While I do drink them year-round, I think that summer is the best time to have a smoothie, as they are very refreshing and lots of delicious fruits such as strawberries are in season in the summer. Another good thing is that smoothies can be very healthy, especially if you make them yourself! If you have seen my recipe for Green Tea Latte, you will know that I love green tea. There are lots of different ways to drink it- including in a smoothie! I've made fruit smoothies before, so I modified that recipe to make a green tea smoothie. I hope that you will try this out, and perhaps share it with someone! Smoothies are very easy to make, and they require very few ingredients.

All images in this post are mine.

Green Tea Smoothie
You will need (for two smoothies):

  • 2 bananas
  • 1.5-2 glasses of milk. I use cows' milk, but I think that almond milk, coconut milk, etc. will also work.
  • 1.5-2 teaspoons of matcha powder
  • A blender or mixer (I use a hand blender)
  • Optional: You can also add sugar or honey to taste, but I personally think it's sweet enough on its own
  • Optional: Ice cubes to make it more refreshing!
Steps:
My very artistically arranged bananas
  1. Peel the bananas and cut them into smaller pieces (cut each banana into around 3-5 pieces). Put them in the blender/mixer.
  2. Add the milk and matcha powder. 
  3. Now blend, until the ingredients are blended smoothly together. When you are satisfied, turn off the blender.
  4. Pour the mixture into tall glasses, and add ice cubes or toppings if you wish. Serve and enjoy!
Notes:
Ready to blend...
  • For a thicker smoothie, use a bit less milk. For a smoothie with a thinner consistency, use more milk. The bigger the ratio of banana to milk, the thicker the smoothie.
  • Mint is a very good topping! It tastes good with the green tea and is very refreshing. I like to add some home-grown mint leaves.
  • Matcha can be found at some health food stores, Asian grocery stores and online. I bought mine at Japan Centre in London.

Enjoy! Here's a picture of my finished smoothie (it turned out delicious!):

I hope that you will be able to find some time to try making this smoothie. It can take less than 5 minutes to make, and it's absolutely delicious! What are your favourite ingredients to use in smoothies? Have you ever made smoothies before? Which ingredient combinations do you prefer? Let me know by leaving a comment!
 Have a lovely day!
~LilacBlossom

Monday, 8 August 2016

Kawaii on a Budget

Hello! ♡
Buying lots of kawaii things can be really expensive, from clothes to stationery. Also, if you're buying directly from Japan, shipping costs can be high, depending on where you live- sometimes even higher than the cost of the item itself! However, being kawaii doesn't always have to be expensive. It takes time to build up your collection, and a lot of patience. So, how do you afford all those cute things, even when on a budget?
Note: I am not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned below

~Thrifting~
Thrifting is great for finding kawaii clothing! The thing about thrifting is that you never know exactly what you'll find, and often you have a chance of finding some kawaii treasures there. There is no guarantee that you'll find something every time, but perseverance is key here! Often, I have better luck finding something that would work for J-Fashion in a Thrift Store than at the mall. Also- thrifting is really cheap! Really, it depends on where you go, but usually you can grab some real treasures for a very cheap price. I found a pair of really pretty pastel pink jeans for only 50p, and a gorgeous light pink skirt for 50p somewhere else. However, not everything you find will fit in J-Fashion right away. If something catches your eye, think how you could modify it. A lace trim and a few bows here and there can really transform a piece! Don't overlook the kids' section either! Browse for anything with a cute fabric that you can use, or a cute print. Is there a kids' shirt with a really cute graphic? Cut it out and sew it on a plain shirt that fits you. When you can, go thrifting! Who knows what you might find. Thrifting is also good for getting items like plain cardigans, shirts, skirts etc.
What to look for when thrifting? I keep an eye out for the colour. As soon as I see a pastel colour, I take a closer look at the item and see if it could be modified, or I imagine it in a co-ord. If it works, I take it! I take a basket and put anything with potential in it. Then, when I'm done I look over everything again, and eventually put back a few things. It's also helpful to have a list of things you'd like, as you will know exactly what to look for and won't waste time.
This top is really cute and could be worked into Fairy Kei and perhaps Sweet Lolita. I was thinking of modifying it a bit, perhaps by replacing the little bow with a larger bow, and maybe adding ribbons at the collar (the collar is a bit wider than it looks) that cross over at the neck and tie at the back.

I really, really love this skirt. The colour is perfect! It's great for Fairy Kei, for both OTT and more casual co-ords.

~Local Stores~
This is more expensive than thrifting, but by browsing at local stores such as H&M or Primark you have a chance of finding something really cute! This applies to clothing, and other things such as stationery. H&M sometimes collaborates with Sanrio I believe, so keep an eye out on their collections. Last year, they had a collection inspired by J-Fashion, and some of the pieces were good for Fairy Kei! It's worth walking into H&M to see if there is anything that has potential.
Primark is good for cute accessories, and some cute clothes too. Primark is also very inexpensive! I saw these unicorn shorts on the Primark website, and I think they could be worked into a kawaii outfit!
Sinsay is good too, especially for accessories. It's very affordable, and has some really cute clothes and accessories. Sinsay has stores in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Czech Republic. Sadly, I don't think their website offers shipping worldwide. Some cute items I found on their website include these adorable pens, this mug which reminds me of Rilakkuma, this cute tee and also this one!
New Look also has some pretty cute things, such as these cute socks or this umbrella.
Claire's is really good for cute accessories! I've seen some Fairy Kei wardrobe posts before and I've seen some people who got nice Fairy Kei tutus at Claire's. Some of the cutest items I found on their website include this coin purse, those hair bows, this makeup bag and those erasers.
Other stores where I spotted some cute clothes include Terranova, C&A, Bershka, Zara and even New Yorker.
As for things such as stationery and cute lifestyle things, look in WHSmith or Empik. WHSmith has some really cute pencil cases, such as this one and this one. Also, they stock Japanese Iwako erasers, they come in lots of adorable shapes! They also have some cute notebooks and pens, such as this notebook. WHSmith is great for finding cute stationery, and I've seen some adorable bags and lunchboxes there, too (see this lunch bag).
Empik has stores in Poland, and it's similar to WHSmith, but of course with different products. I've seen lots of really cute notebooks there, and I believe they also stock Iwako erasers (I bought some from there quite recently). Some of the bags, cups and lunchboxes are really cute, and I've also seen some other little things. Empik is good for cute stationery, and a few other lifestyle things.
It will take time to build your collection, and sometimes you will find things, sometimes you won't. There are lots of adorable things hiding out in local stores, and they usually aren't more expensive than regular items! You just have to look and take your time. When you see something cute that you like and it's for a good price, buy it and your collection will build up over time.
 So, plan a trip to the mall or high street and see if you can find any kawaii treasures!
I found this bow at the mall, at a little accessory store. 
I bought those badges at WHSmith. I use them to enhance a Fairy Kei co-ord when I think it's too plain.

~DIY~
A sewing machine is a really good investment! You can make plenty of beautiful clothes with one. It can be used for adding a lace trim or to make beautiful clothes from scratch, once you have the experience. With a sewing machine, you also have complete control of every detail of the clothes you make. You can turn a plain pink T-Shirt into something really adorable! Some lace and a few bows and ribbons can make a huge difference. A tutu costs £40? Buy some tulle, which is pretty cheap, and make your own! There is even a no-sew way of making them. Even with a sewing machine, they're not that hard to make, as long as you know how to make a circle skirt. Polymer clay can be used to make all sorts of cute things, such as charms and jewelry. I have a few charms that I made that I add to necklaces and bracelets, and I switch it up sometimes. When one of my Fairy Kei co-ords is more plain than I expected, a necklace and some bracelets can make a big difference! Apart from that, there are many other ways to make your own kawaii items. You can customise things you already have- for instance, you can use transfer paper to add a cute graphic to an otherwise plain shirt. You can make lots of things cuter by adding a few modifications, and lots of things can be made from scratch. For instance, a few cute stickers added to a plain pink calculator will make it much cuter than it already is, and a light pink fabric with polka dots can be turned into an adorable skirt using a sewing machine and some skills.

~General Tips~
A few more tips for staying kawaii on a budget...
  • It's okay to splurge on something more expensive sometimes, like an expensive brand item from Japan. 
  • See what you already have! Chances are, you already have quite a few cute things, that are either fine as they are, or could be modified a bit. Look through what you have, because you might be pleasantly surprised!
  • Take advantage of sales. When there are sales at local stores, plan a trip to the mall and go on a hunt for kawaii items, you never know what you'll find! 
  • Also, keep an eye out for sales or offers at online stores too!
  • Keep building your collection. Look for items in cute colours or with potential, and it will accumulate! 
Hopefully, if you are on a budget this post will help you to keep building your collection, those are the methods that have worked for me and hopefully, they will work for you too!

 Have a lovely day!
~LilacBlossom

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Types of Wagashi

Hello! ♡
"Wagashi" is used to refer to traditional Japanese sweets. You might be familiar with some of them, such as dorayaki or dango. It does not refer to modern Japanese sweets. It covers a wide variety of lovely sweet things, so I can't cover them in one post- but I will write about more types of wagashi in future posts!

Where did wagashi come from? Historically, in Japan the word for sweets, kashi, was used to refer to fruit and nuts. When India began producing sugar, China learnt from them and began trading sugar to Japan. The Japanese started to use sugar in the production of confections when the trade increased. During the Edo period, the creation of wagashi developed significantly, with many Chinese influences. East Asian confections have many ingredients in common, such as red bean paste and agar.

Wagashi is often served with tea, such as matcha, particularly those made with mochi, anko and fruits. Most ingredients in wagashi have plant origins.

As I mentioned before, there are many different types of wagashi, and in this post I'll go over four of them. In the near future, I'll also post recipes for some of them!

Mochi
Mochi are traditional Japanese rice cakes, made with Japanese glutinous rice flour (mochiko or shiratamako) or mochigome, Japanese short-grain glutinous rice. Mochitsuki is the traditional ceremony in which mochi is made, by pounding the aforementioned glutinous rice into a paste, then moulding it into different shapes. Mochitsuki is a very important traditional event before the New Year, performed at the end of December. The glutinous rice for this ceremony is soaked in water overnight, and steamed. There are many types of mochi, it is used in various confections, and also dishes such as soups! Kagamimochi is a traditional New Year decoration. It consists of two round, slightly flat mochi placed on top of each other, the bottom one being larger. The top is decorated with a Japanese bitter orange and some other decorations. A few days later, the mochi is broken and shared- bear in mind that the mochi is hard and quite difficult to break. "Kagamimochi" literally translates to "mirror cake". Kagamimochi sits on a stand called sanpou, over a sheet called shihoubeni.
Image credit: midorisyu on Flickr


Dango
Dango is a type of mochi, and there are several types of it. It can be made by combining mochiko or shiratamako with water and sugar, moulding the mixture into balls, and then boiling them. Dango has a bouncy and chewy texture, and can be sweet or savoury. Three to four dango are served on a skewer. It is traditionally served with green tea, such as matcha. There are some seasonal varieties of dango, such as hanami dango. Hanami Dango is traditionally eaten during flower viewing season- March, April and May- depending on the region.
It has three colours- green, white and red/pink. Traditionally, the pink colour is given using anko (sweet red bean paste), the green using matcha and the white dango is either not coloured, or lightly coloured using eggs. It's hard to beat sitting under the cherry blossoms, eating Hanami Dango and drinking matcha tea, on a warm Spring day. Hanami Dango has a sweet taste. Mitarashi Dango is not coloured, and three to five are served on a skewer. Alone, they don't have much flavour- however, they are eaten with a sweet glaze consisting mainly of soy sauce. They have a characteristic, burnt fragrance.
It is said that Mitarashi dango originated from the Kamo Mitarashi teahouse in Kyoto, from the bubbles of the mitarashi (purifying water found near shrine entrances) of the nearby Shimogamo shrine. Dango can also be eaten in many different ways- such as during Tsukimi, with anko or Chichi dango.
This image is mine.


Daifuku
Yet another mochi wagashi! The name daifuku means great luck, and traditionally it is mochi with a filling of anko. However, there are many different types of daifuku, with fillings ranging from strawberries to chocolate. Daifuku is sweet, round mochi and can be made quite easily with the use of a microwave. Daifuku is often red/pink, green or white. Daifuku is often dusted with corn or potato starch, which stops it from sticking to each other and the consumer's fingers! Ichigo Daifuku is a popular springtime treat. It is daifuku with a filling of strawberry wrapped in anko, though sometimes it might be made without the anko. Yukimi Daifuku is mochi with a filling of ice-cream, making it a perfect summer treat. Ume Daifuku has a filling of sweetened Japanese apricot, and there is even daifuku with a coffee filling! Sometimes, daifuku is covered in sugar or cocoa powder.  My favourite daifuku is matcha daifuku- both the mochi and filling are matcha flavour.

This image is mine.


Dorayaki
Dorayaki is two American-style pancakes sandwiched together, with a filling in the middle. Often, this is anko, however there are many other fillings- such as chocolate and custard. Originally, dorayaki had only one layer. The shape of the dorayaki we see today originated in 1914 in the Ueno district in Tokyo. The "dora" in the name means gong, which makes sense as the shape of dorayaki resembles a gong. There is a legend about the origin of dorayaki that says when a samurai called Benkei forgot his gong when leaving a farmer's home that he was hiding in, the farmer used the gong to fry the pancakes.
Image credit: dreamcat115 on Flickr
Hopefully, you have learnt a lot about wagashi reading this post! In the future I might cover four more types of wagashi, and hopefully I'll also post recipes for some of them in the future.
 Have a lovely day!
 ~LilacBlossom