Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My first proper fall kitsuke for 2012

Technically, it's not really true because I've worn awase for Harry Potter KDJ, but it didn't feel like fall at the time. The weather was glorious, and it was almost too hot in it. And yes, I haven't written about that because I haven't edited all the photos, so bad bad me.

Yesterday I looked at the weather report to see what we can expect for this week and it looked like Tuesday (today) would be the only sunny day out of the week. Of course this is England, and things change every 5 minutes, so I've learned to act quickly. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to wear kimono, because sometimes I just get lazy and don't want to go out by myself. Thankfully, I got a message from my friend asking if I wanted to go shopping with her, so this sealed it and off I went to look for kimono.

Originally I picked a different kimono to wear, but then my eyes fell on a pair of new(er) shoes I haven't worn much at all. So these shoes became the starting point of the whole outfit, and I had to find a whole rest of the outfit to match. After a moment of thinking, I choose this brown awase kimono I got a while back and been dying to wear.

I saw the obi laying neatly folded in my kimono drawer, and knew this was the one. The yellow in the obi goes very well with the yellow stripe in the kimono, and blue and red details on obi bring out the blue and red stripes on kimono. Naturally, my favorite Harajuku Lovers bag went great with the outfit too.
I'm pretty excited about autumn! When it's not raining that is, because I can wear my pretty awase kimono with all kinds of cute accessories.

Expect to see more fall styled outfits from me in the future.

~ Lyuba

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MCM London Expo Day 3 Outfit

On Sunday I was much smarter in terms of taking pictures and made sure to get Hong to take a photo of my haori. Yup, I'm wearing leggings underneath too, because it was freaking cold and you can call us crazy for wearing ro/sha in such cold weather. But it was all for the greater good of not feeling hot at the Expo, so I was willing to suffer for few minutes.
As I was saying before, I selected kimono based on what was out at the moment, and this kimono was hanging on a hanger in my kimono room. The obi and accessories all matched too, so it was a no brainer that I'll take it. Funny story, I had someone at the Expo ask how much it was and try to buy it off of me, but it didn't work of course :)

When we got to the Expo, I could take off the haori (because I could feel the heat immediately) and reveal the outfit in all it's glory.
Hong decided to wear her purple ro shibori yabane kimono (I think we pretty much ticked off all the things that most people would love in kimono) with another gorgeous obi. Actually, that obi is mine now because we traded for one of my kimono. :) :) :) :)
On this day I also met another one of my followers. After Saturday, I was double flattered! So this is a shout out to the girl who took a photo with me, it was very nice to meet you too! :)

Overall Expo went pretty well but not as well as we had hoped, so we still have quite a few items left over. We are seriously considering doing the May Expo, but it will be cutting it very close to my leave day. I mean, it would be literally the last thing I could do before my house will get packed away and shipped to whichever place we're going next. Plus, we are also wondering if we have enough stuff left to justify another Expo...

Would you want us to come to Expo again in May?

~ Lyuba

Monday, October 29, 2012

MCM London Expo Day 2 Outfit

Conventions are tricky. On one side they can happen during any season, but on the side they are extremely hot in the dealer's room. MCM Expo is no exception, so Hong and I decided to go completely un-seasonal and wear our ro or sha kimono, and let me tell you we were COMFORTABLE!

At this point you might be wondering where is Day 1 outfit, but there is none. On Friday I didn't want to deal with kimono after packing my car, driving for 1.5 hours, then dragging and unpacking all the stuff at our table. Instead, I've decided to wear kimono on Saturday and Sunday, where I could dress in my room.

The selection process for which kimono to wear literally came down to which kimono I had out. A couple of weeks earlier I went though all my kimono and put away all the ro and sha, except couple that were out in random places around my house. One of them was this pink sha komon, which was still hanging on top of my dressing form. I didn't have to think about obi at all, because there was an obi laying right next to it, so all I had to do is pick out accessories that would match both kimono. Thankfully the obi matched both kimono too. My trusty purple boots completed the look. Actually, you can't see it now, but I wore a purple haori on top which matched the boots.
Hong wore her vintage kurotomesode with one of her ro obi. That obi made me drool for the whole Saturday because I loved it so much!
On this day I also got to meet one of my followers from Cambridge. I honestly never expected this to happen, since I blog about pretty niche stuff, but I was very flattered nevertheless. So this is shout out to my follower from Cambridge, it was very nice meeting you! :)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

London EXPO is in 3 days!

It's starting to sink in and I'm starting to quietly freak out about going to EXPO. I mean, EXPO is huge and we've never done anything that big before! Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it!

We will be at table AH12, which you can see on the map here. It is very close to Japan Ex and Totally Cosplay.

Meanwhile, here is a preview of some things I'll be selling there.

One Day In August

Back in August my friend Tomoko invited me to come hang out with her in London. One of her friends, a kimono designer (Salon de Happiness) whose blog I've been following for while, asked her to take pictures in London while wearing the obi she designed. Of course I said heck yeah, and proceeded to make my way to London for some touristy fun. 

I decided to wear my black sha kimono with one of my prized ro obi, since I never really get chance to wear that obi much. I also choose those two because of the water wheel design on both obi and kimono, so I figured I'll be matchy-matchy yet again. I really like how the coordination turned out, especially with the addition of my new shoes. They are by Irregular Choice but they are so comfortable! Since August these shoes had survived many whole-day trips to London and Cambridge without making my feel hurt like crazy! And they go with so many kimono too! 

We started with Big Ben and eventually made our way to Tower Bridge, at which point we were both so tired from walking around and taking photos, that we didn't want to go anywhere else and called it a day. Overall is was a great day, and I'm really happy that I got to hang out with Tomoko once more :) 

If you read Japanese, you can read about our day on Salon de Happiness blog

Monday, October 15, 2012

Japan Day at Spalding High School

Hello Everyone,

Last Tuesday Hong and I had our official first proper kimono talk. Not that any other talks we gave up until now were less proper, but it was almost like all of them were just preparation for this one. Heck, my public speaking class that I took last year was preparation for this one! Why you might wonder? Because this was actually 6 kimono talks, one after another for the duration of the day.

Back in December of last year I got an email from one of the instructors at Spalding High School saying that they will be organizing a Japan Day in October 2012 for their 8th year students and that my name was given to her by Alice from Norwich Taiko Centre. Basically there will be six groups of around 25 students that will spend the whole day going through one event to another, with each event being 45 minutes long. They would have loved to have a kimono dressing there in addition to everything else that will be happening. After working out the details, we agreed that I can't realistically dress 25 people in kimono in 45 minutes, but I can do a kimono talk and dress one of the student in kimono. We also agreed that I will be bringing Hong with me to help me with the talks.

Fast forward almost a year later, and the day had finally came! I picked up Hong from Epping the day before, packed the suitcase and proceeded to have quite a huge scare around 10pm. I actually looked up where Spalding High School was located to put in my GPS! Turned out it wasn't in Norwich, like I convinced myself it was, but in Lincolnshire! I know, I know, how stupid of me! I was mentally preparing for a 3hrs drive one way, since I couldn't back out at this point, but turned out it was only 1.5 hours (vs 1 hour to Norwich). I must have looked it up right when I first got the email, otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to anything, and then promptly forgot about it and kept thinking it was in Norwich, since people who referred me are in Norwich. With my moment of some serious hyperventilating over, I went and tried to fall asleep.

Unfortunately morning came way too soon because I had to get up at 5:30am in order to be ready to leave at 7am. For once, my hair actually cooperated and I didn't have to spend a ridiculous amount of time straightening it. I woke Hong up, we had some breakfast, I got me a travel mug full of very strong coffee, and off we went. The drive was pretty uneventful but took us through some serious scenic country. By scenic country I mean fields and fields and farm animals. I've never seen roads so winding as on this drive and I live in England! I'm talking about almost 90 degrees bends in the road! I can't say I enjoyed that drive too much.

We arrived at 8:30am, only a little off thanks to my not so trusty GPS, but thankfully Hong's phone was able to get us to the place. We were shown to the room we were to occupy for the next 7 hours and told that we can re-arrange everything in any way we wanted. We ended up putting the chairs in a semi-circle, with my clothes rail to the side and table for all the non-hanging stuff to the other side. I got the spot in the middle. I even had a map and a board behind me, how cool was that? :P There was no reason to use the board, but I did use the map when someone asked me where Ukraine was located. :)

I decided to keep the talk very simple, since none of the girls knew anything about kimono and I didn't want to overwhelm them with all the terms. So I started with telling what kimono was, and how it used to be an everyday clothes but now it's mostly worn for special occasions in Japan. Don't worry, I did say that kimono is coming back in fashion, but not to the same extent as 100 years ago. Then I actually got to use some of my kids kimono stuff! I basically went through the events that kimono would be used for, starting with Shichi-Go-San and showing kimono for three year old girls, five year old boys and seven years old girls. Then I went on to show them the furisode, saying that's normally it is work at Coming of Age Ceremony, but it also can be worn by any unmarried girls.

Then I showed them two different kimono that adult women would wear, explaining about the sleeves length and different designs and seasons. Afterwords, I picked  my volunteer and proceeded to show everyone what goes into wearing kimono. I basically went item by item, starting with juban. This is where having Hong there was extremely helpful because she could dress the girl while I was talking, and then put away any stuff so I didn't have to get distracted. Seriously, without Hong there the whole talk wouldn't have gone as smooth as it went.

While Hong was dressing the girl I told everyone why men's and women's kimono are different length, showed some men's items for comparison and made jokes about how men's stuff are boring and we won't talk about them too much :) I should have mentioned earlier, but this was an all girls school, so there was really no point of talking a lot about men's stuff anyways. We went through the dressing, explaining about padding and dressing accessories. I think all the girls got a kick out of the padding talk, since I had 6 volunteers, each one of them either needed or didn't need padding. One girl's face literally fell when I said that the proper kimono shape is a tube with no curves, but then she completely lightened up when I said I could fix her curves "problem" with kimono.

For the final part of our talk I brought my wedding katsura for everyone to try one. It was actually a last minute decision as I only received it about a week ago, but I figured that if I can't dress everyone in kimono, at least everyone who wan'ts to could try the katsura on. It was also probably the best decision I've made in regards to the talk, because it was a huge success. Girls had a blast trying it on and taking photos, and all 6 teachers that were supervising also tried it on. I kept saying that I had more fun watching them all and it was absolutely true. I couldn't stop laughing for the whole time.

Overall it went really well and after the first talk was done, I didn't feel scared at all. As I said before, having Hong there was what made it happen, because she was taking care of all the background stuff while leaving me to talk. Because of that we didn't have any awkward pauses while dressing the girl, I didn't trip on any kimono stuff, and didn't have to worry about putting away the kimono. I also had a girl come up to me and say that my voice was really nice (awwww) and several others saying that the talk was very interesting. I don't know if I'm going to get any official feedback, but as of right now I did get an email saying that the whole day was a success and both students and teachers were giving very positive feedback to every event.

In the end, the whole talk worked out very well. I ended up doing 15 minutes of straight talking, then 15 minutes of dressing/talking (still more talking since Hong was doing most of the dressing) and last 15 minutes were taken up by the katsura craziness. Now that it's done, I feel like a huge weight is off my chest, because I was literally dreading this day for month! After being in front of people and talking for straight 6 hours, I think I can officially say that I can do public talks. My public speaking professor will be proud, which reminds me that I need to email her about this!

Now that this is over, I can start worrying about London EXPO in less than two weeks.

~ Lyuba

Friday, October 12, 2012

London MCM Expo

In two weeks Hong and I will be at the London MCM Expo selling all of the extras from our kimono collections. After over 6 years of collecting, we ended up with whole bunch of stuff that we don't like and/or wear. The picture above is just the obijime that I've never touched!

We will have everything from kimono and obi to accessories packs, which would allow you to get dressed up right away. Of course we will be happy to help you dress
 in kimono.

Our table is AH12, so come and see us there for some great kimono bargains!

~ Lyuba

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Will Miss #5: British bacon

Before coming to the UK, I used to absolutely hate bacon. It was mostly because of the smell, but also because of the high fat content. I know that the smell and crunchiness of American bacon is the stuff of legends and many people love it, but I personally hated it because of those reasons. 

Now I love bacon, but with one major difference. I love British bacon, which is cut from a different cut of meat and is much less fatty. On the downside, it's almost impossible to make it crispy, but the less-fatty benefit far outweigh the lack of crispiness. Granted, I can still get streaky (American style) bacon in British stores, and those few times I got it felt as if they were also less fatty, but I don't get that type (from either country) often enough to really compare them. 

I will really miss British bacon and I really hope I'll be able to find it in the USA.