domenica 11 dicembre 2011

Italian Christmas

Last Sunday I attended a local Christmas market with my friend Louana: it was very cold and we had little sales but we chatted a lot, so the day passed pleasantly the same.
Since we were surronded by Christmas decorations, songs and people shopping for gifts, we ended up talking about Christmas things and comparing traditions of our home countries (before moving to Italy, she lived in U.K. and South Africa).
I really enjoyed that conversation, so today I want to share with you some of the main Italian Christmas traditions :)

Immaculate Conception (December 8th) - Catholic feast, since in this day schools are closed and you don't go to work (if the 8th is near a weekend the holiday last a couple days more),  many people leave for a little vacation or just stay home and decorate the house for Christmas.
Christmas tree in Milan

Nativity scene (or manger) - another religious tradition widespread in Italy. In addition to the Christmas tree, we use to decorate our houses with Nativity scene dioramas, using small figurines made with various materials: plastic, painted plaster, wood... a particular kind of manger is Neapolitan one, because figurines are dressed with real clothes and they represents not only the typical manger characters, but also modern days famous people like politicians, actors, etc. Nativity scenes can also be found outdoors, often set up by parishes, with large mechanized statues or with real actors (when I was a child I once played one of the Magi in my parish's manger).
Nativity scene from Sorrento Cathedral

Epiphany (January 6th) - Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus (it's also the last day of Christmas holidays).  In this day children receive colouful stockings full of sweets, little toys and even money (or coal for the bad ones, but nowadays it's usually candy coal), brought to them during the night by an old lady flying on a broomstick (very similar to a witch), known as "La Befana".
a doll representing "La Befana"

Christmas treats - almost every town in Italy has its typical Christmas recipe, here are some of the most famous:
Panettone (Milan) - my favourite! It's a kind of leavened soft bread cake with raisins and candied fruit inside (recipe).

Pandoro (Verona):  a rich, buttery cake that's generally sprinkled with an abundance of powdered sugar. Unlike panettone, it never contains candied fruit (recipe).

Panforte (Siena): a spiced bread with almonds (recipe).

Struffoli (Naples): little fried dough balls dipped in a honey syrup and sprinkled with "diavolilli", a type of candy (recipe).

And what about you? What are your hometown Christmas traditions (if you celebrate it)? I would be glad to know :)

mercoledì 16 novembre 2011

Quick DIY project: 15 minutes fake fur tippet

This winter there's a new entry between our fashionable weapons against cold: fur tippets. I'm not a great fan of fur (I'm absolutely against real one), but after looking at both lolita and western fashion shops, brand news or outfits posts, I have to admit that (fake) fur tippets are a very cute way to add a warm touch to an outfit. Many brands added them to their fall-winter collections, from lolita ones:

 to western fashion ones like MaxMara and Juicy Couture:

 As I said before, I think they're cute, but I wouldn't use them often enough to justify a big expense so, what to do?
The answer came from my mother's latest closet cleaning: in one of her drawers I found a fake fur detachable collar from an old jacket that she no longer had. Since the collar was brand new and unused, I decided to make it a guinea pig for my tailoring experiments. And now, finally, into the real project!

What you need:
- detachable fake fur collar (that's the hardest part, try searching in your house for old jackets, coats or maybe look for cheap ones in flea markets and garage sales);
- 1 meter ribbon of your choice (better using a ribbon at least 2,5 cm high);
- scissors;
- matching thread and needle;
- fraying ends glue (or clear nail polish);
- (optional) beads, lace, brooches, vintage buttons...everything you may want to use as an embellishment.

How to do:
Cut two pieces of ribbon about 50 cm long, fold twice one of the ends of each piece, like this:
Put some glue or nail polish on the other end to prevent fraying (before glueing you can shape the ribbon's end with scissors as you like) and let it dry
Once dry, take the unglued ends and sew them to the inner corners of the collar, on the reverse side. If the collar has lining, sew the ribbons to it, so the stitches will not be visible on the right side
Now your collar should looks like this:
If you want you can now add embellishments or else your new fur tippet is ready to be worn :)

domenica 13 novembre 2011

New puppy in town

I'm glad to present you the new four-legged member of my family: Leila!
In these last two days I was very busy taking care of her, she's a real earthquake! (she already destroied a carpet and scared the cats -_-'') This is my first time raising a puppy, my previous two dogs were already adults from the dog pound (Kinda, she was my boyfriend's dog, but since I went living with him three years ago, she was also part of my family) or grew up with me (Minnie, my first dog); it isn't easy at the beginning, but I'll do my best taking care for her :)

martedì 8 novembre 2011

Make up review: Pupa Nail Art Kit White & Pop Pink

I'm a great lover of nail polishes and nail art in general, so when I discovered those cracked nail art kit by Pupa I took advantage of the summer sales to buy one. Then September exams captured all my attention, and that kit sat unused in my drawer until a couple days ago, when I finally decided to take a little time to try it.
There were several pairs of colors available, I chose white and pop pink.
I was pleasantly surprised by the white base, in comparison to other white polishes that I tried, this is definitely the best: with just one glaze you get an excellent uniform cover.
The package says to let it dry for 4 minutes before putting on the second color, so I waited for about 5/6 minutes (just to be sure the white was completely dry) and then started to apply the pink one (which creates the cracked effect, the white one is just a regular polish).
The first thing I noticed was that, unlike the white, this enamel was a bit difficult to apply, it is more dense and dries very quickly, so you have to apply it with a single quick brushstroke.
Now comes the fun part: the pink cover immediately starts cracking at sight!
Unfortunately, I immediately noticed that in addition to cracking, pink enamel was also "absorbing" the white base, leaving the natural nail color visible in some spots.
It's no so evident from the picture, but in real the final effect isn't very nice, I also tried applying a transparent top coat, as the package suggest, but it didn't help a lot :(
I was a little disappointed, but I didn't surrender, perhaps the base was not completely dry, or maybe the effect works better with a darker base. So I tried using a different base (the cracking cover works with any polish), my favorite black polish by Ever. I put on 2 coats this time, being also careful to let it dry for a longer time, and this is the result:
Way better!(except for some smudges around the nail, but I usually clean them with polish remover after I'm finished)
As I thought, the base needs more time to dry,or it will get ruined during the cracking time. If you let it dry enough it works even with light bases, nex time I want to try it with pastel lilac :)
My review:
Colours: 4,5/5
white one is great, pink one instead is a little too opaque when dry .
Colour lasting: 4/5 
the cracking color tends to scratch easy without a top coat.
Price: 3,5/5
I checked in different shops and the price of the kit varies from 5€ (6,8$ which is pretty good, considering there are two polishes in the package) to 12€ (12,5$  which is, in my opinion, insanely high). There is a considerable gap between the minimum and maximum price, but in most shops they are about 6/7€, which is quite a reasonable price for brand polishes.
My overall rating: 4/5
Once you get the trick to use them better, they can come in handy for a quick and cool manicure, maybe I'll buy other colour pairs in the future :)

martedì 6 settembre 2011

Make up review: Mavala Mini Color nailpolish

A while ago, since I love nail polishes and nail art, a friend of my mother who works in a perfume shop, gave me some samples of Mavala Mini Colour nail polishes to try, and now that I've finally tried on all of them, I want to write a little review of this product.
The colour I have are (from left to right in the picture above):
- Traviata (no number)
-128 Acid Yellow
- 20 Cairo
- 127 Volcanic orange
- 64 Bilbao
- 65 Adelaide
- 29 Glasgow
- 218 Minsk
- 155 Bronze Green
To show you them all in once  used a set of clear fake nails, here's a picture of all the colours worn (I couldn't catch it clearly in the pictures, but left side is how it looks with just one coat and right side with two coats)

And now my review!
Colours: 5/5 the colours are very bright with shiny pearly reflections. Except for the lighter ones, just one coat is enough to get a good covering colour with no signs of brush strokes. My very favourite of these colours is Acid Yellow.
Colour Lasting: 3/5 they are easy to take off with nail remover, even the darker colours don't leave any shadow on nails, but they are also easy to scratch!
Price: 2/5 I got these ones as a gift, but I checked the price on the web and they are 4€ (5,6$) each, considering how tiny is the bottle (5ml, half of a regular polish bottle) the price is a bit high.

My overall rating: 3,5/5

(This my very first make up review, so please if you have some tips, constructive criticism or more features you want to see in a review, feel free to write me, I'm looking forward for your advices :))

mercoledì 25 maggio 2011

Action for Japan Day

Last Sunday I attended Action for Japan Day, a charity event for Japan, organized by a local Japanese culture association.
There were a few stalls selling Japanese items and demonstrating various traditional arts and activities to raise funds for Japan: origami, go, bonsai, japanese cuisine (I finally tasted onigiri! I love them!), Shodo (calligraphy), Sumie painting, martial arts and kimono dressing.
I also met two of my Japanese lecturer from University: one was teaching some beautiful origami to the children and the other ran the stand of japanese items.
Although the event was rather small, I found it very interesting: my boyfriend tried playing go and I had the chance to wear a real yukata (summer kimono): it seems quite difficult to wear but it's very confy! (except for the heat, but I was wearing my clothes under it ^^)

We also bought a paper fan (uchiwa) with "Ganbare Nihon" ("Hang in there Japan") written on it at the calligraphy stand, a forehead band (the ideogram on it says "Matsuri", festival) and two set of ramen bowls and spoons (I often cook ramen in winter)
I did not know of the existence of this Japanese cultural association, but I'll keep an eye on their site, because they organize a lot of interesting courses and events (for example in June there will be a basic course of Japanese cuisine).
Bonus pictures: three amazing bonsai in full bloom, from the "Bonsai first aid" corner

giovedì 7 aprile 2011

Baby Angel review (picture heavy)

Last week I received as a birthday surprise form my boyfriend two "famous" skirts by Fiorucci's minor brand Baby Angel. I said "famous" because not only those skirts (and another jsk) gave birth to a lot of discussions in the italian lolita community, but they are in fact two Metamorphose replicas. A lot of people was disappointed about Baby Angel's spring/summer 2011 collection, because it includes those two skirts that are "heavily inspired" by Meta's Cherry Berry and Blooming Garden, and another jsk very similar to a Putumayo one. There are a lot of complaining posts on Baby Angel fb page and a long discussion on our national lolita community about this, but I will not report them here, I have nothing against replicas (even though I know that this position can not be shared by many) so here I will just write my personal review of the skirts.
Let's start with "Cherry Berry" skirt, here's a picture of it lying flat:

The print is gorgeous: very vivid colours and nice details, the cotton which it's made of also seems good (touhg a little too light for winter). I can't decide what is my favourite of the two, because they are both beautiful and well constructed, the only "odd" thing about this one is the writting, you cans ee from the pic below that it says "Baby Angel temps de fille", it doesn't sound great, but I can live with it ^^ (it would have been better if they had just written Baby Angel or nothing at all)

The lace on the edge is quite good (cotton, I think)

and they both have a light built in petticoat (so the skirt doesn't look too flat if you're not wearing a proper petticoat underneath)

And now the "Blooming Garden":

This one doesn't have any strange slogan on it (it only says "Baby Angel"), this print also is very beautiful: vivid colours and nice details as the other one, here's a close up

The tulle lace on edge isn't my favourite but at least is very soft

However I wouldn't recommend them to anyone taller than 1,65/67 m, because they're  a little too short, luckily mines are both in L size so they're long enough (they are large on the waist, but it can be tightened with a belt or waist ties)
To conclude I can say that I'm really pleased of these skirts, I can't wait to wear them in an outfit! (Tomorrow begins Torino Comics 2011, a local comiconvention and I'm planning of wearing the cherry one, I'll post some pics ;))