Thursday, 30 August 2012

V&A meet tomorrow!

Hey guys!
I'm so so excited! The V&A lolipop meet is tomorrow so I'm getting geared up and planning! I think I may use makeup like this  >.<  (Not endorsing in any way, just thought it was a nice tutorial!)

In other fashion news, this article was linked on facebook this morning. I love the idea of Gals saving the Japanese Economy XD

I shall post pictures and do a report at some point this weekend from the meet!


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Quick art post

Hey guys

I have just finished my gift for Nakamura Maki, the head designer of the lolita brand Juliette et Justine. I will be attending the party in London in a couple of weeks. I just thought I'd share it with you guys!

Please ignore the blatantly stuck on writing -_-' I did originally write straight onto the picture, then saw how atrocious my handwriting looked and couldn't bear the thought of Nakamura sama thinking I had terrible handwriting T.T

Its of the story 'Star Money' which JetJ recently did a print around, so I wanted to show Nakamura sama my interpretation. Now I just have to work on the Gothic and Lolita Bible illustration competition and the dress design competition! T.T

If anyones interested in my art I do have a DA account :)


How to make extra petty cash.

Hey guys!
I thought I'd sort of do a continuation on my previous post and give ideas so to how to make petty cash. As I said before, it all adds up, every penny. You maybe surprised.

1. To reiterate from before, hoard coins. Pick up coins off the street, save your change. This is a really simple thing you can do and when you come to cash in you can end up with a fair bit.

2. Doesn't necessarily make money, but I do have a Terramundi money pot which I put a bit of gold and silver in every week. The beauty of these pots is that you have to literally smash them to get the money out. So if your in a tight squeeze or you want to purchase something big this is a nice little cash pot to extract money from.

3. Right before going to university have a very THOROUGH clear out of your possessions. Be this books, clothes or DVDs etc. For clothes and books try to get rid of them on ebay, and any DVDs if you think its worth the hassle. If you put an auction up at 99p the listing is free, but if you want to put more than that up then I suggest you wait for one of their free listing weekends. This saves pennies yes, but if your putting a lot of stuff up it does add up. Furthermore, why would you want to give ebay any more of your money? They take a percentage of your final sales anyways!

4. Any games, CDs and DVDs that you can't sell on ebay try and get rid of through sites like musicmagpie. A lot of of things you'll only get like 30p for but if your just going to throw it out anyways then you may as well make some pennies off of it! Anything leftover, take to the charity shop ;)

5. Advantage cards. When you do shop in places like Superdrug, Boots and Tescos use your advtantage/club cards. Its essentially giving you pennies back on your purchases and you may as well collect them. At some point you maybe able to spend them!

6. Get petty part time work in the summer or during term (if you can't find an actual job). Obviously getting a full time job for the summer allows you to stock pile money for the rest of the year, but if not you maybe able to find odd days of jobs in places like football stadiums etc This summer I worked in catering at a racecourse, which was only odd days because thats all they could offer.

7. Enter freebies and giveaway comps. Some even offer cash! I know it can be annoying but, enter as many as you can bear! I know you probably think its pointless and you wont win but theres still a chance! Why pass up on the possibility of free stuff!

Remember with money, even a penny is better than nothing!
I also found that student beans set up a new website so all their offers are in one place! using offers and coupons is still saving pennies!


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Balance of What We Want and Necessity - University Style Budgeting! (Part 1)

Hey guys

Today I am going to be writing on a general student topic: Money.

I have very expensive hobbies, both cosplay and lolita amongst other things. In lolita especially you get a lot of spectators complaining they can't do it because of the money. I do it and I buy brand. I'm a student on loan with only odds of jobs during the summer, albeit its only barely doing it, but I still manage both hobbies. I was unable to get a job whilst at uni last year so I don't have any regular income to speak of. So, how is it possible to live essentially on just student loan and maintain these expensive pastimes on the side? Well here is my tips!

1. Have a weekly budget and stick to it. Including all your misc purchases that aren't relevant to essential living!! Even when I'm buying say a lolita brand item I will budget it into several weeks worth, say £10 a week off what I'd normally allow myself. This seriously stops me from overspending. I think the only exception I make to this rule is one off things like train tickets and one off events e.g. lolita meet ups and cons. Its through severe day to day budgeting that I have plentiful stocks of cash to do these things.

Normally I allow myself £40 a week (not including bills and rent) and that is plentiful! I worked out that figure by dividing the money I knew I'd have left over after housing and bills by the number of weeks until my next loan instalment to give how much I COULD spend per week, then halved that. I think initially I started off with £80, then I kept whittling it down as I cut out unnecessary spending. Keep a note book so you can track your expenses and see exactly where your money is going. You may find you can save somewhere.

2. Try to keep your food bills as low as possible. This actually isn't that hard. My top tip would be NEVER EAT INSTANT FOODS. I hardly ever eat anything instant, including things like sauces. (Exception being pesto and pizzas :P) My next tip would be to make local markets, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland your best friends. If university taught me anything, its that Tescos is really expensive when it comes for fresh fruit, veg and tins.

 I remember once my Aunt saying that you can't live off Lidl. Total lie. I cook everything from scratch (because I enjoy it), so I only ever really buy tins of things and fresh veg and meat if its on offer. Lidl is a godsend for basics like this, I think if I'm being decadent with my food shopping I spend around £15 a week, if I'm watching my spending then I can easily do £10. Lidl does boxes of 3 pizzas for £3 and they are so goooooood!! This helps combat post night out hungers where you'd normally want a takeaway XD Avoid takeaway where you can, but it will be near impossible during exam period. Just because :/

3. Look at how much food costs per gram, not how much the packet costs as a whole. If you do this you will get the cheapest deals in general!! Tesco does 3kg bags of pasta for £3 which is amazing value and is good for making lunches to take in! (Don't buy uni canteen food, seriously overpriced!) They also do a 1kg bag of frozen chicken for around £5 too which is good. For meat, stalking the reduced section is really good in Tesco Express right before closing. Once I got packets for 41p each, still don't know how. Stock up on cheap things and freeze!!

4. Keep a base amount of money in the bank and NEVER let yourself fall below it. This acts as a really good overdraft deterrent and you then have a cash safety net should you need it.

5. Always ask yourself 'do I really need this?' 9/10 this will help stem spending!

6. Never take your card out with you on a night out. Take enough cash for club entry, a few drinks and a cab home. £10-£15 is normally enough for me, especially if your sharing cabs. However some cities may be more expensive or cheaper in terms of night life. e.g. places like London and Canterbury are expensive and places up north, especially Hull, are really cheap. (Also take advantage of pre drinks and lethal smelling value vodka and mixers! Students always pre drink for a reason!) This also means theres no chance of you loosing your card on a night out. I know people who have spent like £150 on a night out because they were merry and kept buying everyone rounds of drinks. Yhea.
Also know the clubs in your city and which ones have student nights and when!

7. Don't spend more than £10 on an item of clothing if you can help it. And again, budget into your weekly allowance. I know this sounds depressing but its not actually that bad, especially in sale season, just stock up your wardrobe! Punkyfish recently had a sale where everything in it was £5, I stocked up! Ebay charity shops, Primark, H&M!

8. Flash that student card where ever you can for student discount. Also get a rail card if your going to be getting trains too and from home, or just generally travelling about, it saves you tonnes of money. Also I found out that at Cineworld you can combine Orange Wednesdays and student discount. Mmmmm, super cheap cinema tickets :3

9. Keep change and collect it. Keep a pot or a bag or something where you put all your loose change. I recently changed a pencil case full of coppers and got £15 out of it!

10. For toiletries, stock up on basics like razors, shampoo, wax strips etc in places like Poundland and Savers. For things you'll probably want to spend a little more money on like moisturiser and face scrubs, stock up when drug stores have offers like 3 for 2!

11. Buy university text books second hand, and sell them on the next year! Also try and get your parents to buy text books for things like birthday and xmas. If you sell them on then your still going to gain money from them! Also avoid buying text books where you can and get them from the university library instead. They should have plentiful stocks for your core reading list. They may also have electronic copies available online.

Well, I think thats about all the really valuable advice I can give. Looking up it may seem really depressing but so long as you enforce some rules on yourself for a few months it becomes habit and you don't really notice it that much. Its good habits to get into for later life as well. I know some people that ran over the hill and fell into the pit of despair that is overdrafts with their spending and their parents had to bail them out. Not fun!

It may seem unnecessary lengths to go through to save money, but remember that every time you make unwise purchasing choices on a day to day basis, it really will add up. E.g. buying a cup of coffee every morning you go to uni could cost you around £250 or more over the course of the University year. That would sufficiently enough to buy a couple of lolita brand pieces second hand or take me to a comiccon AND make the cosplay for it!! (Or you could be sensible and save it :P)

Lastly, look for websites for students like they always have offers and info where sometimes you can get free stuff! ;)

UPDATE: Here is part 2 that I wrote in 2nd year!


Thursday, 9 August 2012

And so my love for the Shinsengumi continues...

Sorry I realise its been a long time since I last posted, but I haven't had the time to write :(

Today I am going to write about my love for historic anime and manga that are based on the Shinsengumi. Why? Because why not XD

For starters, I like stories based around the Shinsengumi because I like the Shinsengumi! I find their story really interesting and the individuals within the group fascinating. I do sometimes go on researches of particular members. Because yhea, I'm a history geek...

ANYWAYS. In the context of anime/manga, I like series based around them because even if theres fictional characters to the story, theres nearly always the core group thats consistent and I like seeing how different authors choose to portray those characters. (The core group being the captains and the characters who are key to the politics within the group I.e Serizawa, Kondou, Hijikata, Okita etc.)

My favourite manga solely based on them is Kaze Hikaru. Its a shojo for a change!! Yay. The main plot revolves around a young girl Sei, (fictional) who pretends to be a boy to join the Shinsengumi, as they saved her life in an incident which also left her orphaned. In the process she falls in love with Okita. Its just a good romance series, but you also see the character torn between wanting to be a woman for him and wanting to remain a man to fight at his side. But theres also a very strong historical narrative throughout of the Shinsengumi's actual history. The author also tries to keep things as historically accurate in terms of dress, buildings etc, which I also like.I also really like the way the Shinsengumi members are depicted. As its a shojo they're really funny and friendly. Some shonen mangas make them more realistic i.e. more tough and some not so pleasant. I find this version of them quite refreshing because of that.

 So yhea, I really like this manga and would recommend it, but I wouldn't necessarily say its for everyone. For those who are not familiar with politics behind Meiji Restoration I would just wiki things so you know whos on whos side and what ideologies their following etc. (In fact any historically based series I would do this.) Its not heavy in it, but as the Shinsengumi were part of the revolution so its still part of the story.

As for anime, I'm watching a current season anime called Hakuouki Reimeiroku, which is a prequel to Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan. I actually haven't seen the Shinsengumi Kitan yet, but as the prequels just been released I thought I may as well watch it in that order.

Hakuouki Reimeiroku is so, so good. Seriously. Its almost like a chimbara series. All the characters are pretty hard core and stupidly beautiful for some reason :S. This is not so historically accurate... just take a look at those hairstyles!
I'm not complaining though! Its still a good series and one of the reasons is its visuals! Again a historical narrative runs through. Hakuouki Reimeiroku is the set up of the Shinsengumi from what I can gather. I will probably do an update once I have seen Shinsengumi Kidan! :) This is think would appeal to a wider audience than Kaze Hikaru would.

To finish off I have to throw Rurouni Kenshin out there. The Shinsengumi appears very little, even in the OVAs which are set in the revolution but ITS SUCH A GOOD SERIES!! I would recommend the manga over the anime I think. The live action film is coming out this month I believe and I am so excited because Kenshin is one of my all time favourite series!! The only Shinsengumi character that really features much is Hajime Saitou, who is a policeman after the restoration. (That much is true, going after a fictional villain called Makoto Shishio is not! XD)

I'll leave you with Sato Takeru, who is Kenshin in the live action adaptation coming out this year! (I may end up doing drama reviews based around specific actors, and he happens to be one that I follow ^.^)


Thursday, 2 August 2012

A trip around my Japanese language bookshelf and what makes a good learning resource! (Image heavy!!)

Hey guys!
I thought today I'd show you my Japanese book collection. I could only find about half of them though because the other half are in storage for when I go back to University :( I found loads of random books in Japanese that I'd completely forgotten I had, so this was quite a good exercise for me XD I am not claiming this is the definitive 'best' of Japanese learning books, but these are what I find useful and hopefully it'll give you an idea in what you should invest in.

To start of we have the dictionaries and other learning materials. (I haven't got photos of everything)

 I have four dictionaries. Oxford Japanese Beginners, a Kenkyusha 'Lighthouse', a Kenkyusha Kanji and a Kenkyusha Sentence Pattern dictionary. What I have found, is that as a whole I don't like dictionaries from English/Western publishers. I out grew the Oxford dictionary by the end of GCSE and it just didn't cover the vocab. In the end I resorted to online dictionaries which can be very useful. BUT they sometimes give you really weird words and as a non-native speaker, you won't have a clue. I didn't know until my teacher and Japanese friends started to correct some odd vocabulary I'd put into sakubuns!
As a whole, I really rate Kenkyusha's dictionaries. The only guideline I'd really recommend for purchasing a good dictionary is that THE JAPANESE IS NOT IN ROMAJI. The Oxford dictionary I think was the only one that I found in a bookstore that was in kana then kanji. Romaji dictionaries will not help in your fluency of reading or your grasp of hiragana. Forcing yourself to read kana from the get-go, no matter how hard you find it to begin with, is seriously (in my opinion) a vital foundation. My younger sister learnt Japanese from a book that was in romaji and by the end of GCSE still really struggled with kana, whereas I'd never read Japanese in romaji and could read and write it without any problems.
Unfortunately the grammar dictionary does have the sentences in romaji then kana/kanji which does irk me slightly, but its still very useful!
These are the textbooks I use for university.(Some of them, not all of them! BTW this is just year 1, crossover to year 2 just to give an idea of how much stuff there is. Theres on of the kanji books on the far left, and theres a second one that size too) Again, British publisher's textbooks I don't like very much so I've used the Minna no Nihongo (above) and Japanese for Busy people in the past. (Make sure its the kana version!!)
 I also think its really good to get books to help you with specific areas that you struggle in. For me thats verbs and grammar. I sometimes really do struggle with it!! So investing in books to help with specific areas is useful. Amazon does have a pretty good selection in this regard.
I was given these books by my 6th form Japanese teacher when she had a clear out and they are very useful! Basically they are about colloquialisms, contextual uses and everyday uses of the language. Not really reference books, but still interesting. The series is called Nihongo Notes. You can find the odd copy on Amazon second hand, otherwise I would try ebay or a import book store!

Now we move onto all the random reading material I have lying around XD
I have primary school reading books books and school level Kanji books too (in storage I think...). The reading books tend to be completely in kana, so are not very useful once you move onto kanji, but they're still cute ^.^

 Fashion magazines! I'm lucky enough that one of my exchange partners and I still swap birthday presents every year and she'll send me alternative fashion magazines. I am really excited about meeting the GLB editor, Suzuki Mariko and Juliette et Justine designer Nakamura Mari in September!! (I will write up a report of all Japanese fashion meets I attend on here too!)

I also have a few books, novel and manga
I have the Alice in Wonderland novels (above), Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Beatrix Potter's the Tale of Gloucester (which is my favourite one >.<) I just find comparing the English translations interesting, although it will take me many years to read novels in Japanese!
You can also buy books with short stories in them with the English translation and language notes in them. This isn't exactly what I mean, but the above travel book has both the Japanese and English in it.
I also found this random book on Kimono!! XD

For buying books from Japanese publishers and books in Japanese in the UK I recommend JP Books in London. (No I am not getting paid to say this!) They do have a loyalty card thing where you can collect points and you can get a voucher once you've collected enough and if your studying Japanese at University they also do a slight discount if you have your student card (on Language learning stuff only). But, as all their books are imported, please expect as slightly hefty price tag! They also do the JLPT workbooks.

For magazines and manga theres also Japan Centre in London! Also its worth stalking ebay for everything I've mentioned above. A lot of my dictionaries are second hand and quite old, but they're better than what I could find in the bookshop or on amazon! One of my dictionaries I found in a local Oxfam for £2! For other second hand books, livejournal groups like Garagesalejapan are also worth a look. Sometimes Japanese language stuff crops up on there.

When I went to America I found that the book stores there tend to have a pretty good selection for Japanese dictionaries and stuff and I suspect the American Amazon has a better selection!

Remember when buying extra reading material, get something that interests you!! If you have any questions, or if you want to know if I've had specific experience of a book your thinking of buying, please just ask!! It can be hard buying books on the internet as you can't look inside! I hope this helps.