Kawaii Life has moved to Lavendeer!

I have a new blog called Lavendeer! It’s my personal blog, and I will be posting about my clothing designs, favorite recipes, product reviews, restaurant/business reviews and more :)

We are giving away a free pair of our Kawaii Nails! Follow us on Twitter~ http://twitter.com/kawaiinails and RT to be entered. The winner will be announced at 3pm PST today! 
Good luck!

We are giving away a free pair of our Kawaii Nails! Follow us on Twitter~ http://twitter.com/kawaiinails and RT to be entered. The winner will be announced at 3pm PST today! 

Good luck!

BTSSB Store - San Francisco

My trip to San Francisco was a pretty short one, but on the top of my to-do list was to visit the Baby, The Stars Shine Bright store. The Baby store in San Francisco is the only one in the US, and one of a few that are outside of Japan. Baby, The Stars Shine Bright is a Japanese brand that specializes in lolita clothing. The shop is located inside of the New People building in Japantown.

I have been a fan of Baby for quite a long time, but only started buying their dresses last year when I was living in Tokyo. Part of the reason is that I have to try things on before I buy them.. I love shopping, but I don’t like buying things just to buy something. I really have to love the item in order to get it.. but more on that in another entry perhaps!

My shopping experience at SF Baby store was amazing. The store was big and had lots to choose from and the shop girls were incredibly nice and helpful. I think I almost prefer the SF store to the ones I used to shop at in Tokyo just because there isn’t a language barrier. It was nice to talk to the staff and be able to understand everything they were saying!

In the pictures above, you can see how nicely they packaged my purchases. Everything is folded and wrapped in tissue paper and then slid into a sealable plastic bag before being put into the sturdy paper bag with the Baby logo on it. The extras included are a postcard, sticker and point card.

When you try on any clothing the shop girls are more than willing to help you zip up, lace up and tie waist ties. One thing I didn’t know previously is that when a dress has lacing up the back you are not supposed to pull it tight when you tie it. The lace that the ribbon is laced through is very delicate and can be stretched and distorted very easily. The back should be loosely laced up and tied into a bow.

Most of the knit items at the store are not allowed to be tried on. Usually if you can’t try it on there is a big tag on it saying so. I had read on Yelp that you weren’t allowed to try on blouses, but I was able to try on the button up blouse below with no problems. I think the SF store is a little more lenient than the ones in Tokyo I visited. When you try on items there you have to put a bag-like mask over your face to ensure nothing gets on the clothing (even if you do not have on make-up). I was glad that they don’t make you do that at the SF store.

I realize I didn’t mention much about the quality of the clothing, but everything is incredibly well made and fits great. I wanted to focus more on reviewing my experience at the store since Baby is an established fashion brand already. I very much enjoyed shopping at the SF Baby store and I cannot wait until my next visit to San Francisco!

3D UV Gel Nails

Real UV gel nails are pretty hard to find in the US. I originally got hooked on them when I was living in Tokyo. The first set I had was done at Nail Quick in Shinjuku. It was a glitter gradient with three 3D designs. It cost around $100 and that was even after they gave me a discount! After a month, I was in need of a new set and searched high and low for a good price. I found a salon near my apartment that was having sale and managed to get them done for about $60 that time around.

When I returned to the US, I wanted to keep getting the UV gel nails done but I could not find any salons that did them. A lot of times, the salon would say they did UV gel nails, but when I showed up for my appointment they used a powder “gel” that looked and felt just like acrylic. The reason I love real gel nails is because they do not require any filing or drilling. The nail artist just applies a few coats of a UV reactive gel to your nail and you’re all done! The only drawback is that it can burn a little when you put your nails under the UV light to set, but usually it’s not as bad as getting your nails drilled and filed for an hour.

Since I run the website Kawaii Nails, I’m always getting asked where to find salons that do 3D nails. I have only heard of a handful that are located in the US and they are all in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. So when I made plans to go to San Francisco on a mini-vacation, I knew I had to try out one of the salons there.

The place I ended up going to was called Classic Nail. I was hoping to get a walk-in appointment and decided to just show up at the salon. Unfortunately, the location listed on Yelp had recently closed and the place was completely empty. Luckily they left a sign in the window with a phone number. I called the number and was able to make an appointment with Eva at their new location, Gino For Hair.

Eva did a wonderful job! I really love the glitter gradient and have not found any other salons in the US that do it, so I decided to go with a purple glitter gradient. I also got a few different 3D designs on my nails. My favorite one is the flower design that Eva sculpted on my thumb. With tip, this set cost $80 and should last around 3-4 weeks.

One thing I’m not completely clear on with the gel nails is if you can get them filled the way you do with acrylics. When I got my second set done in Tokyo, they took off the old nails and then put a new set on. Another reason it might be difficult to do fills is because the glitter or polish is under a layer of gel.. so you might be stuck with the same design until it grew out.

I kind of think it’s a good thing that I don’t live near any salons that do the UV gel nails.. otherwise I would go broke getting a new set every month! It definitely is a nice treat to get them done once in awhile though!

In addition to Classic Nail, there are two other salons in San Francisco that specialize in 3D UV gel nails, although I have yet to get my nails done at either. The first one is located in the shop called New People in Japantown. It’s called Nail Art House and from what I can tell, it’s booked up pretty far in advance. The other salon is across the street from Nail Art House and is located inside of a mall. I can’t remember the name, but it is right next to Pika Pika (a Puri Kura shop that I will be writing an entry about soon!).

I picked up a magazine called Rilakkuma FAN this past week. I scanned in and translated this comic from it! Enjoy :)

I picked up a magazine called Rilakkuma FAN this past week. I scanned in and translated this comic from it! Enjoy :)

Cafe Gratitude

Everyone I have met from San Francisco has told me how amazing Cafe Gratitude is. When I made the trip down to SF this past week, of course I had to check it out for myself!

When you first step foot into Cafe Gratitude, it definitely feels very welcoming. The seating area is filled with large tables and it is not unusual to share a table with another group. The menu is all organic and vegan and the majority of the dishes are raw or live. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of raw food, but the fare at Cafe Gratitude was incredibly fresh, delicious and filling.

Ordering food at Cafe Gratitude is very fun since each item on the menu has it’s own affirmation. I ordered the I Am Fabulous lasagna and the I Am Cherished raw cheesecake. When I was there the waiter said “Thank You” every time I said an affirmation. It really made dining out a more enjoyable experience.

The raw cheesecake doesn’t actually contain any cheese. It is made of blended up cashews that give it a very creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture. As soon as I saw the raw cheesecake on the dessert menu I ordered it. The only other place I have had raw cheesecake is the Chicago Diner, which is the place that got me hooked on it. I have tried making my own a few times, but it never turns out perfect. Maybe that’s why not very many restaurants offer it?

Lucky for me, I didn’t go to Cafe Gratitude alone so I was able to taste a few different items from the menu. Above is the I Am Sensational pesto pizza. Below is the I Am Cheerful live sunburger.

Here is the I Am Rapture strawberry layer cake

And lastly, I Am Joy “Rawmond Joy”

While I was there, I also picked up a copy of their cookbook. I have to admit, as someone who only learned to cook about a year ago, preparing raw food does seem a little daunting. But the food at Cafe Gratitude was so tasty that I can’t wait to try cooking up a few of these dishes at home!

Spoonflower Fabric Review

Designing and printing fabric is becoming easier and easier to do. When I was in college, I learned how to silkscreen large yardages of fabric, which is a great skill to have, but not that useful once I graduated since I no longer had access to a studio. I’m not sure where or when I first heard about Spoonflower, but the second I found out they existed I knew I had to get my own designs printed!

There are lots of good resources for information how exactly to order and set up your design for print at the Spoonflower website, so I will skip that part.

I ordered a swatch of my design printed on Organic Cotton Sateen fabric. The base color of the fabric is a little lighter than unbleached muslin. Although you can’t see it in the picture, the fabric does have an elegant sheen to it in real life.

With a layer of lining, the fabric is completely opaque. But as shown in the picture above, the fabric is slightly see-through if there is a darker layer underneath.

The cotton sateen fabric is really great for dressmaking since it is thicker than a quilting fabric and has no space between the threads. But it will set you back a bit.. as it costs about $27/yard. For a long time I would only buy fabric that was around $6/yard and once I started working my way up to more expensive fabrics, I noticed a huge difference in quality and have never looked back.

In addition to the great fabric and print quality, Spoonflower also has incredible customer service. When I received my three yards of fabric there were many small pieces of black fuzz on it. I pulled off a few of the larger the pieces and noticed that there was no ink underneath where it had been. I contacted Spoonflower about this and they apologized and quickly sent me a new run of the fabric. I’m not sure what had happened with the first run of it, but the second run was perfect.

Above is a dress that I made out of the fabric for my Etsy store. I washed the fabric when I first received it, but that is it. The dress below is one that I made for myself, and I have laundered it repeatedly. The bodice is made out of a lighter part of the gradient than the dress above, so it is best to compare the skirts.

It was hard to capture a completely accurate representation of the dresses, but it’s pretty close. After many many washes, the fabric does fade, but I am still happy with the print quality. I would not recommend washing a darker colored print however, since those tend to be less saturated to start out with.

Over the past few years since Spoonflower was founded, quite a few competitors have sprung up including Karma Kraft, Eye Candey, and Fabric On Demand. The blog True Up did a great review of all four services. 

I have a few more designs that I would like to get printed in the future, so I might try another different printer to compare the quality for myself. The next print I want to have done is mostly black, and based on the review by True Up, it would be best to have it printed by Karma Kraft since they use reactive dyes. Spoonflower and the other printers print with pigments, which is why darker colors come out less saturated and fade faster.

This is my newest design for a print. It is influenced by sweet lolita border prints, but a lot more abstract. Once I get a printed swatch of this design, I will post my results and which printer I have decided to go with.

Winter Garden Skirt
I designed this fabric and had it printed by Spoonflower. I will post a review as well pictures of some more items I made with this fabric soon!

Winter Garden Skirt

I designed this fabric and had it printed by Spoonflower. I will post a review as well pictures of some more items I made with this fabric soon!

"Always Smile, Banana Fish Forever"
One of my favorite Japanese clothing stores shut its doors for good on June 9th. At least I got to shop at a few locations while I was in Japan last fall, but I’m sad that it won’t be there next time I visit Tokyo.

"Always Smile, Banana Fish Forever"

One of my favorite Japanese clothing stores shut its doors for good on June 9th. At least I got to shop at a few locations while I was in Japan last fall, but I’m sad that it won’t be there next time I visit Tokyo.

Starting a Garden

This past spring I started a garden for the first time ever. It really feels great going out there to pick the ingredients I am about to use in dinner. I think that having a garden is an idea that is heavily romanticized, and may seem like it’s a lot of work to start. After starting my own, I have to admit it’s actually pretty easy on top of being incredibly rewarding!

Overall, the garden probably cost around $100 to start. I got the wood for my raised beds from a place called the Rebuilding Center. Most cities have places where you can find cheap or even free wood. If you don’t know where to look try going to a gardening shop and asking what their recommendations are. After acquiring the wood, I used a power screwdriver to assemble it into rectangular beds. I was able to do most of it myself, but I needed a little help aligning the pieces on our uneven driveway.

After you have your beds built, the next step is to fill it with soil. But before you just dump the soil in, you may want to get some kind of material to line the beds with. I set mine up on top of gravel, so I got a roll of landscaping fabric to line the beds with. The fabric is better than plastic since it allows air and water to pass through while keeping rodents and weeds out of your garden.

Soil might end up being the most expensive part of starting your garden. Fortunately, in Portland there is a place called Nature’s Needs that sells a cubic yard of living compost for $20. One of my friends who works at a garden supply shop told me to go to Nature’s Needs, otherwise I would have never known they existed. I did have to rent a Zipcar truck in order to haul the soil, but it still was cheaper than buying it by the bag.

This is what my garden looked like after I filled it with soil and started planting plants. If you buy your plants from a garden shop they usually come with an info card that tells you how much sun the plant needs and also how far apart it should be from other plants. This was incredibly helpful since I knew next to nothing about gardening when I started this project. You can also pick up plants from farmer’s markets or sometimes local plant sales if you live in a very garden friendly area. If the plant doesn’t come with an info card, the person selling it will probably be happy to tell you what you need to know about it. Also, there are a lot of very useful videos about gardening on YouTube.

It’s been about two months since I started the garden and now I have lots of veggies that are ready to eat. I have more spinach, kale, kohlrobi, and collard greens than I know what to do with. I’m still waiting on my tomatoes and squash though, since they take much longer to grow. I planted a Japanese eggplant and a San Marzano tomato plant that I’m very excited about since they are hard to find at normal grocery stores. I can’t wait until those are ready to eat!

Taking care of your garden can be as simple as watering it everyday and picking plants to eat so that it is not overrun. I had noticed some of the bottom leaves of my spinach plant withered a bit since it was not getting as much sun, so now I try to pick some everyday or so. Of course, I am still learning so whenever I encounter a problem I usually ask someone I know who has gardened for awhile or do some research on the internet.

If you have any questions about gardening, feel free to ask!

3 years ago / 3 notes / gardening, diy,
 
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