Thursday, 18 December 2014

There and back again!

So I'm back in New Zealand now and really my blog has been very neglected whilst in much for it providing a travel diary! You'd think now I'm back and job hunting that I would have all this free time to blog and reflect on my experiences, but in reality the opposite is true because I'm occupying my time sorting out everything that I left here for 12 months...and trimming the cat's fur because it's all tied up in unmanageable mats of fur. The stuff I've cut out is so dense that you'd swear she'd taken up felting....
The Fluffmeister. Note short patch - this picture taken before all matted areas removed
I'm also clearing out a lot of the things that I thought I needed to keep (but didn't as I managed just fine without them for 12 months..) so hopefully whilst I look I'll get a little income from selling stuff online. It does mean my room is packed with bags and boxes and things while I slowly clear the piles...

It's finally a nice summery day as well...hope this holds until Christmas.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bunny House Super Large (XL) petticoat review - NEUTRAL!

Edited to add: This petticoat deflated significantly within the first few months of owning it and is now a low-medium poof petticoat. Whilst the shape is still awesome, the lack of durability has lead me to revise my overall ratings particularly given that my melikestea petticoats have shown no signs of similar deflation after being owned for over a year.

Poof: 5/10 - deflated too quickly
Price/value for money: 5/10 - I would much rather spend a similar amount of money on a longer lasting petti
Overall: 6/10 - I don't think I did anything particularly terrible to this petticoat to make it deflate (certainly not any more than previous ones) but I would not recommend or repurchase this petticoat.

Whilst on the never-ending quest for the one perfect petticoat to rule them all I stumbled across the Vietnamese indie brand Bunny House and was intrigued by their petticoats. Currently the petticoats offered are bell-shaped petticoats to customers' desired measurements, and the sizing - medium, large, or super large - refers to the amount of fabric used, number of layers and how much poof there is. I believe the material used is poly organza, and at the time of ordering I had the choice of five colours - white, black, light blue, pink, or purple.

The purple organza on offer - I believe this is a M or L size petticoat.
I ordered the Super Large petticoat in purple, to fit waist 25" and asked for it to be 18" long. My order was placed during their August sale, which meant that there was a discount of 10% off the regular prices - the Super Large petticoat had a 'normal' price of $35 at that time, so it cost me $31.50 + shipping to the UK which was $15, for a total of $46. This is slightly more expensive than previous petticoats I have purchased, but I was also hoping for more poof! It's certainly not much more expensive than the Classical Puppets pettis, at least on sale.
This one, but shorter and purpler!
Orders are done through facebook messaging, and payment is via paypal. I ordered on the 16th August, received a reply, and paid my paypal invoice within 24 hours. Due to the sale, there was no definite manufacturing time given although I believe their usual manufacture time is 15-20 days, and the next thing I heard was that my petticoat had been shipped on the 22nd of September. The parcel arrived within a fortnight - although since it wouldn't fit through the mail slot, the postman had to try again when someone was home!

Unfortunately, the parcel was damaged in transit and the outer packaging was ripped right down the side. Thankfully the inner plastic bag was intact so the petticoat was not damaged. Looking at the facebook page, this has been a problem for other customers so I wonder if the packaging needs to be improved to stand up to the demands of the global postage system...
Damaged parcel - thankfully, with contents intact.
The petticoat came in a plastic bag inside a brown paper package tied up with string...

...and when unpackaged, looked pretty much exactly like the photos.
All good petticoats must stand on their own.
The short version:

Actually ordering: 5/10 because there aren't options for people without facebook accounts. Basically, if you have a facebook then it's an easy 10/10, just like navigating any other order form and messaging, however there is no other option, which makes it a 0/10 if you don't!

Manufacture/shipping time: 7/10 - Slower due to the large number of orders they got with the sale, but still reasonable.

Packaging: 7/10 - Although I know that Bunny House didn't rip up the packaging themselves, there have been multiple mentions of torn outer packaging on their facebook. Thankfully the plastic bag was sturdy enough, but I would like to see something stronger used.

Accuracy to stock photos: 10/10 - they look the same!

Since this was a custom-made garment, I compared the measurements of the petticoat to the measurements I had given. The length is exactly right at 18", and the waistband is 20" unstretched, 39" stretched, and sits comfortably both on my natural waist and slightly lower if desired. The waistband is created from the lining, so the lining would not be poofy enough to layer another petti underneath - however, with the amount of poof this petti has it isn't really a layering one! I was not asked for a hip measurement, which seems reasonable as the waistband is fully elastic and stretches comfortably to a large measurement - I imagine only the most extreme of pear shapes could potentially run into difficulties if this is representative of all their petticoats.
Worn photo, with bonus wall.
The petticoat is made up of multiple layers attached directly to the lining, with the bottom-most layer being a continuation of the lining. This could be problematic if you don't like the feeling of organza on your legs - however the fabric is not scratchy like tulle net. The middle layers are two-tiered with a doubled-over tier of ruffles at the bottom and the top layer is three-tiered and just a single layer. This gives a total of 8 layers of fabric at the hem. Construction-wise, the majority of seams are straight stitched with the edges serged/overlocked, which is appropriate to the materials used and in my opinion the best way to go with a fabric as prone to unravelling as organza (I mean, you could french seam it but that seems unnecessary for an undergarment). There was the occasional loose thread but nothing that was actually coming loose.
Showing the bottom layer attached to the lining...
Lining close up!
I noted that rather than being gathered to the layer above in the same way Classical Puppets pettis are, each tier was pleated every couple of inches. I think there are pros and cons to both approaches - all the Classical Puppets petticoats I have owned have eventually had holes between the tiers which I believe is because the weight of the lower tiers is too heavy for the tier above - however, you get more volume for less layers, and could probably save a bit of fabric overall. The Bunny House petti has more layers but less gathering - which probably saves time, but not necessarily weight. Either way, they represent slightly different ways of getting the poof.
Pleating close up!

The short version:

Fit - 10/10. No complaints - I asked for a certain length and waist measurement, and it fits both.

Pattern/Construction/etc. - 9/10 - judgement reserved until I've owned it for a bit longer!

And of course - the poof, which is actually what everyone cares about right? I have now owned this petti for just over a month and a half and it's still poofy as anything despite being shoved in plastic bags and squished down, stored in a drawer etc.

I have worn this under a light, lined cotton dress with a single ruffle and two layers of velveteen to see how the poof would hold up - and honestly, I think this may be the poofy bell-shaped petticoat I've been hoping for.
Left: Without petticoat. Right: With petticoat

Poof: 10/10 - I love this. It gives me my ideal bell shape under both heavy layers and lighter dresses. It might be *too* poofy for some though.

Price/value for money: 8/10 On sale, this is a really good deal - I'm not sure I'd pay full price for it, but then again I don't think there's a comparable petticoat around that's as easily available.

 Overall: 9/10 - If you are like me, and love your layers of velvet but don't want to sacrifice your poof or wear more than one petti at a time, this is definitely one worth getting. I've taken a point off because it's not really as wallet friendly as some of the alternatives around.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A eulogy for Nala

Dear Nala,

You were not the smartest cat, or the most snuggly.

 You liked to sit on things that were the most inconvenient for your humans

And get into places you shouldn't.

You got stuck in high places, and never seemed to use your tail for balance.

You liked to sit on pizza boxes and play with string. liked boxes...

...especially with string.

Like most cats, you enjoyed sleeping, eating, and sunshine.

Sometimes I used to feed you things you shouldn't have
(you often threw up later)

And sometimes you brought me presents.

I did not appreciate the ones that were still alive.

Dear Nala, you were my fluffy bear, and I will miss you and your gorgeous green eyes and your floof and your teeny tiny paws.

RIP Nala
(and Jagi, who is hunting dandelions in the back)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Little things I like

It's now been ten months since I left New Zealand to come over to the UK, and on reflection I have to say that I've probably found the transition easier than most - I had a job, a place to live, and supportive friends and family already over here. So rather than struggling with London rent, homesickness and terrible English food (OK, I'm maybe still struggling with terrible English food) I instead got launched right into the swing of things. I have however found myself missing certain things at home, while appreciating others here.

Premade food. Oh my lord the premade food at the supermarkets. You can get fantastic microwave meals here, and they go on special for less than the equivalent of $4 a lot of the time.

Carrot sticks - I love carrot sticks, and hate making them. The solution? Ready-made carrot batons!
Tea (and everything that goes with it). If you want a speciality tea shop here, no problem. There's chains of them to choose from!

Opening hours and free takeout delivery - hungry at 10pm on a Thursday evening? No problem, you can choose from Chinese, Indian, Italian...and get it delivered for free!

Fashion - Londoners are STYLING. And they don't care if you wear weird things.
And they like to stuff penguins, apparently.


Good fresh fruit and veg - I have to say, it's a bit of a roulette wheel here. I've had some fabulous fruit and also some really rubbish overpriced stuff.

Good Chinese food - I don't know what it is about these British people, but it's been a real struggle to find really nice, decently priced Chinese (and more importantly, Hong-Kong style food...)
Okay, so this is ACTUALLY from transit in Hong Kong...
Traffic - there's SO much traffic in London, and you all sort of drive around each other. Much quicker to get the tube most days.

Space - back yard? Detached house? Forget about it unless you have a cool couple of million pounds (or don't live in London...)
Look, these houses AREN'T all stuck together!

These are just some of the things I notice, but it also makes me wonder - what are the things that other people notice when they move countries...?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Quick outfit update!

Despite this originally being conceived as a diary of travels, I've been the most rubbish at updating since moving to London - and that's not because of a lack of travel! I'm now working and soon-to-be-living in Paddington (like the bear) and will hopefully manage to churn out something vaguely coherent on our family trip to Paris and Venice. Until then, have a photo of my outfit for Hyper Japan (I may have gone just for the chance to eat decent Japanese food, something of a rarity in London)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Skiing Flaine - with Action Outdoors and UCPA

I love skiing. It's always fallen into the category of "one of those things that I like, but that I struggle to improve at". So this year, with the proximity and relative inexpense (compared to a similar ski package, from New Zealand) of the French Alps I decided it was about time I dusted off my ski jacket and got outside.
I elected to go with UCPA via Action Outdoors as it was the most convenient option for me and I didn't mind paying a little bit more for the convenience of having only to organise my flights to and from Geneva.

UCPA is a French organisation intended to encourage young people to participate in outdoor sports, and they own hostels/resorts throughout France. They offer package deals for long weekends as well as full weeks, including gear hire and tuition for all levels. Action Outdoors is their official UK partner and basically has set up packages that make it slightly easier for people coming from the UK, with airport transfers able to be organised with them and most packages including Saturday night accommodation rather than starting on Sunday. They also make it super easy if you don't have a group of people to travel with, as they will sometimes organise weekends specifically for single travellers and offer extra discounts.

I finally made it to Flaine, in late January - this cost £448.93 including half-time tuition and airport transfers, with flights around £80 return via Luton airport.

I called Action Outdoors for a recommendation to start with as I hadn't been skiing for quite some time and wanted to go somewhere suitable for an (improving) intermediate skier, and Flaine was one of the options they gave - and what an awesome recommendation! Although people rib on the architecture (it's a polarising concrete jungle) the UCPA resort there is 50m away from the pistes, you can return for a cooked lunch or choose to take a picnic, and all the rooms are twin share so you only have to share space with one other person. The hostel itself is not the newest, but the facilities are clean and well maintained including the all-important central heating - in fact it was almost too hot some nights!
The weather was fantastic as well, with snow at night -> powder in the morning, and I met (and skiied with) a whole group of lovely people there via my room-mate who was the 'odd' person in the group. The runs are mostly intermediate (blue and red) with a smattering of black and green runs.
This is honestly what the weather was like the entire time!
I think if you're keen on off piste or more challenging skiing that it's probably not the place to be - the off piste is considered quite dangerous because of the number of holes, and I skiied most of the field and found it manageable having not really done a lot of skiing for a few years. I probably wouldn't go back to Flaine since there's so much more of the Alps to ski, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who wants to learn or improve.

I'm looking forward to exploring more of the ski areas in Europe, maybe once December rolls much as I like mountains, I vastly prefer them with ski lifts and groomed pistes as opposed to walking up them!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

melikestea petticoat review - positive - with direct comparison to Classical Puppets bell-shape.

EDIT to add: This petti deflated quite quickly over the course of a couple of months to give light poof only, probably because there are only 2 layers. I have added extra information and an updated rating at the end of my post

Since moving countries and not having space for petticoats in my luggage, I decided I wanted to buy from melikestea again after the relative success of my first order which was reviewed exactly a year ago. Those petticoats held up fantastically to being stuffed unceremoniously in a drawer and being worn under fairly heavy dresses for 6 months (at the approximate rate of once a week) however I sold them before moving, and can safely say they were nowhere near deflating when sold.

Unfortunately, since my first order, Tai has stopped taking commissions and is only making a certain number of petticoats per month, updating her stock on the first Saturday of the month. I ordered from the April stock update, purchasing Petticoat #10 in white (PT10) at the standard price of 40R$ (Brazilian reals). Combined with shipping to the United Kingdom, the total came to $36.73 USD. I was a bit apprehensive about this petticoat as the "poof rating" is 1 star whereas the previous petticoats I purchased were 3 stars. However, it looked as if it would give a nice medium bell shape, at least to start with - but because it isn't as gathered and tiered as, say, the Poof Monster, it could deflate relatively fast.
Stock photo of PT10 - melikestea
I filled in the form somewhere around the 12th of April (I think) and was replied to and invoiced on the 15th, which I paid the same day. My petticoat was shipped on the 22nd due to Easter holidays. The parcel arrived at my housing block on the 28th of April but due to being on holiday I didn't get to open it myself until the 6th of May.
Standard paper + plastic bag.
I was sent some free hairties as a gift for ordering and reviewing previously, which was nice. Tai did put up an actual photo of the white petticoat on her stock page, and the petti is accurate to the pictures.
Scandalously, my navel is showing.

The short version:

Actually ordering: 10/10 - Wait until the stock updates, then fill out the form.

Manufacture/shipping time: 10/10 - There was a larger delay than expected for shipping, but holy shit it arrived fast! Tai does state it's 3 business days from time of payment, and this was the case

Packaging: 7/10 - I think unless you have destructive postal officers and crazy customs people that the packaging is entirely fine - a waterproof, decent plastic bag + paper outer. I seem to recall the plastic bag being thicker last time though.

Accuracy to stock photos: 10/10 - absolutely identical.

This petticoat, being a stock item, has a waist size of 60-90cm. Unstretched, the waistband is 60cm; fully stretched over 110cm. The elastic used seems to be the same - very stretchy but not super tight, but thankfully Tai has also added a drawstring feature so that the waist can be tightened and properly fit the measurements given. I do think it would ride down if this were not the case, based on previous experience.

The length is accurate to the measurements given, at 44cm (advertised as 45cm +/- 1cm) and Tai's construction is as good as ever with zero loose threads. I note that the lining seam was pressed flat this time as opposed to being a french seam - either way, the construction fits the purpose of the garment.

The short version:

Fit - 10/10. Not a custom order, appears to be appropriate for the measurements given.

Pattern/Construction/etc. - 10/10

So actually, the only reason people look at petticoat reviews is for the pictures of poof, right? I bought this petti to wear under my plainer dresses and a millefleurs skirt that I think looks better with slightly less poof, and then also acquired a Classical Puppets petti second hand. No pictures because everyone knows Classical Puppets, right?

I reviewed this petti under multiple dresses basically to compare its performance in different conditions with what appears to be everyone's "gold standard", the Classical Puppets petti. To be quite honest I think that Classical Puppets is overrated, mine definitely deflated within the year (too much velvet...) and is more a medium poof, not true giant megapoof. I was layering it by the time I'd owned it for 9 months. 

The melikestea petticoat definitely does deflate over the course of being worn normally (sitting on the tube, at the theatre) and will get very scratchy on the legs because the lining is slightly shorter than the petti - definitely one to wear tights or long bloomers with!

Dress: IW Gretia JSK - lightweight sateen-like fabric, lined.
Performance: Classical Puppets (middle) is clearly poofier and more bell-shaped than the melikestea petti

From left to right: No petti, Classical Puppets Bell Shaped, Melikestea PT10

Skirt: Millefleurs - medium weight velvet, with a velvet ruffle on the hem, unlined.
Performance: Similar amount of poof, although again the CP is more bell-shaped
From left to right: No petti, Classical Puppets Bell Shaped, Melikestea PT10

Dress + Coat: Atelier Pierrot Playing Cards / Chess Velveteen JSK + Atelier Boz Roland - medium weight velveteen with heavy cotton lace on the hem, lining with cotton lace on the hem, medium weight, lined velveteen jacket.
Performance: The melikestea petti seems more poofy and gives an identical shape to the CP petti.
From left to right: No petti, Classical Puppets Bell Shaped, Melikestea PT10

The short version:

Poof: 7/10 - I will see how it holds up over time, but for the price it's very competitive in the bell-shaped market. It deflates more quickly when being worn than the previously owned ones, but then shaking it out fluffs it up again nicely. 

Price/value for money: 9/10. I can't really comment for certain as I'm not sure how poofy this petticoat will stay, but for now it performs just as well as, if not better than, the comparatively more expensive Classical Puppets petti under the sort of outfits I tend to wear. 

Overall: 9/10 - I will have to see how this petti holds up over time, but it is a good, inexpensive petticoat with a bit of bell shape to it, and performs reasonably under heavy garments in comparison with Classical Puppets.

Also - if Tai ever wanted to do a giant Frankenstein monster petticoat combining this one and either PT07 or the Cotton Candy petticoat for like, 7 layers of ultimate bellshaped poof, I would be so ready for it. With layers of velvet and a heavy wool coat on.

I owned this petticoat for around 2 months before noticing that it was deflating to the point it was difficult to fluff it up and get the same amount of poof from it again. This definitely became a layering petticoat over time, and gave only light poof.

Therefore I have changed my overall ratings as below.

Poof: 5/10 - Starts off quite poofy and can be shaken out to refluff, but is definitely a light-poof petti over time. 

Price/value for money: 7/10. With shipping I would probably prefer to buy locally for a light-poof petti, there are any number of places that do quite unpoofy petticoats and have cheaper prices. This is not to say that Tai's work is inferior in any way, but that the market for lower-poof petticoats is quite saturated and as a consequence there are cheaper alternatives that will function just as well.

Overall: 7/10 - It deflates over time, but it is a well-constructed, inexpensive petticoat with a bit of bell shape to it, and will initially give you reasonable perfomance in comparison with Classical Puppets. However due to cheaper petticoats that will give you the same sort of performance this wouldn't necessarily be my top choice.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Long time no see! HIghlights from Dragon100 Forum Part 3: Taiwan

So in the interests of completeness, I am now writing (6 months late....r) about the awesome time we had in Taiwan as part of Dragon100. The organisers had initially wanted this part of the forum to be spent in China, however at the time of organising there was a lot of worry about the re-emergence of H1N1 and the possibility of an epidemic - so Taiwan it was!

Our journey to Taiwan started in the middle of the night, or rather, at 4am when we all got on the bus to the airport. It turns out, of course, that the flight (...never again, China Airlines...) was delayed for another 4 hours so we didn't even need to be at the airport that early! I suspect someone, somewhere, has some photos of me sleeping on the chairs at the airport since I distinctly remember hearing the clicking of cameras and being too tired to do anything about it.

Because of this delay, we were rushed straight to the Tzu Chi foundation where we were to spend our first session. I have to confess that despite the foundation being one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world, I had never heard of them before, and was amazed by the organisation and scope of their work. They even run a TV channel which is named "Da Ai" (big love) to model and highlight the values they are based on.

To be honest, it's been so long since the trip I will just bring you some of the highlights in a series of photos.

Sneaky photo at the National Palace Museum, where you are Not Allowed To Take Photos. I got my brother the souvenir jade cabbage spoon, and he was confused as to why there was a vegetable on the teaspoon.

Clubbing in TW

Drinks all included for $20 NZ...

Traditional drumming...somewhere around Miaoli
Soup dumplings. I so want decent soup dumplings


And the food just kept on coming...

Actually, the best was left for last - after getting to know everyone over the course of the week and feeling like we'd known each other for a lifetime, we had an awesome discussion forum at the end where the ideas just kept flowing and there was just so much spark. I love that feeling of creative and intellectual energy - as I type this I'm totally missing everyone!

This last photo illustrates just how truly global the Dragon100 delegates are despite all being of Chinese descent. There are phrases written on the window in French and Japanese - we had someone who studied French in the UK translating that to English, someone else translating the Japanese to English, and two people translating the English into Mandarin so everyone could understand!