Mar 092015
 

Trekked down to San Juan Capistrano this past Sunday with some friends for brunch at the Tea House on Los Rios. It was well worth the trip!

The three of us had originally planned to go to the larger meetup being held there, but there was a bit of a last-minute snafu on the venue’s part that complicated the reservation for the larger party, so we ended up making a smaller side reservation on our own. It was a bit of a bummer not being able to socialize with the full group during brunch, but the upside was getting to order from the full menu instead of the set event menu. I got to try the pomegranate mimosa, made with fresh juice from the pomegranates from their orchard- very strong and very tasty!

Our little side group (the “dietary restrictions and picky eaters club”, haha). My friends always look so elegant! <3 And I finally got to try coordinating my Minette JSK- definitely the sweetest outfit I've ever worn, but perfect for tea.

For brunch, I had the Salmon Benedict, which was amazing. The filets were huge, the eggs were poached perfectly, and the crumpets were a really nice alternative to the usual English muffin. I could definitely get behind having heartier fare like this instead of the usual selection of light foods for tea- it was so filling that I didn’t even eat dinner that night.
I also liked how they plated each dish with fresh flowers! Such a sweet touch.

My tablemates both ordered The Prince’s Lost Bread, a very generous serving of homemade brioche French toast stuffed with cream cheese and fruits. It smelled so delicious when they brought them to the table! I love that fresh cinnamon-y scent. We were all very pleased with what we each ordered.

I had checked out the tea house’s Yelp reviews a while prior to our trip, and while I think the reviews are accurate, we definitely had a better time there than they’d lead you to believe. Having a small party, making reservations, ordering more substantial food instead of the sets and appetizers, and paying in cash made it a really pleasant visit (and to be honest, these are generally good rules of thumb for whenever you’re dining out). Service was a bit slow, but that just meant more time for conversation, and the waitstaff were always professional and friendly. If I’m ever in the area again, I’d like to come back.

The interior of the teahouse was a little old-fashioned, but the exterior gardens were pretty quirky. They use a lot of salvaged stained-glass windows as decoration, which has a neat effect.

Since it’s in the historical district, the neighboring houses all have old-fashioned architecture and really gorgeously-kept gardens. You can see them from the teahouse’s patio while you brunch!

Once we connected with the main group, we explored the butterfly garden next door. There were only a few butterflies at this time of year, but the flowers were lovely, as was everyone who showed up!

It was a hot day, though, so once we were finished exploring Los Rios, the meet organizers led us to 3:16 Bakery for gelato and frozen drinks. The staff there were incredibly accommodating and took photos with us for their Facebook page, and even gave us some homemade cookies on the house. Super nice of them, to say the least! This is kind of a terrible photo, but you can see the cookies behind my sorbet (which was amaaaazing).

And to round out all the sweet experiences, one of the organizers had made fluffy little teacup brooches to give to each attendee as a souvenir of the meetup- so thoughtful, I loved it! Mine matched perfectly with my outfit, too. It was a really great day!

Feb 022015
 

My order from Sweet & Tiny Shop‘s sale came in much earlier than expected! Sweet & Tiny is a UK-based jewelry maker specializing in very detailed recreations of cute pastries. Deco pastry jewelry and accessories are pretty commonplace in this fashion, but Sweet & Tiny’s classical styling and attention to detail and presentation really make them stand out.

My order was shipped the day after I paid, and took exactly a week to reach me. Everything was packed neatly in a bubble mailer, with each item in its own cute patterned cellophane bag. I also appreciated the postcard that was included- another postcard for my collection!

I ordered the Raspberry Religieuse Ring and the pink & green Eclair Necklace.

What immediately stood out was how large these pieces are! Both pastries are a little over an inch tall. I prefer smaller pendants and rings, but at this scale the textural detail and subtle coloring are more noticeable, which is a nice compromise.

Both pieces are also coated with a clear glaze to help preserve the colors and material, which is pretty glossy in some lights, but not so much as to be distracting.

The religieuse is sturdily and neatly mounted to its ring base with a strong epoxy, and all of the signature details of the dessert were recreated faithfully. The only (dubious) flaw is that the pink “icing” seems creased or wrinkled in places, as if it was mishandled or shifted before it finished drying- but it trips me out because it looks so similar to the cracks and creases that form in real icing on full-sized desserts. So I’m not too bothered by that, and it’s not noticeable unless you’re inspecting it closely.

The eclair adds a nice pop of color without being overwhelming- I really like the pale mint tone, and the trio of pinks complementing it. The miniature Eiffel Tower charm is such a cute detail! The findings and chain on the necklace are all pretty good quality and don’t seem likely to break or discolor, based on jewelry I own made from similar findings. My only quibble here is that the pearl set into the icing (same as with the pearl topping the religieuse) is a bead, rather than a flat-backed pearl, and so the hole running through it is completely visible. Again, not a huge flaw, but flat-backed pearls would give a more polished finish.

Overall, though, I’m thrilled with my new jewelry and with how smoothly this order went! Sweet & Tiny won’t be restocking for a while thanks to their appearance at the upcoming La Vie En Rose event, but when they do, I’ll definitely be ordering again.

Jan 272015
 

Finally! I gave in and bought some Bodyline shoes because of the weak yen and the free shipping campaign. They came in yesterday, and they lived up to all expectations.

Shoes 158 (“Light Blue”) on the left, Shoes 155 (“Enamel Red”) on the right.
I know a lot of people have had issues with Bodyline shoes rattling around in the shoeboxes and scuffing themselves up in transit. These weren’t packed with any kind of protective padding or wrapping, but since they fit so snugly in the boxes, they don’t have any damage. There are some extremely light smudges in spots where the pleather/PVC was pressed up against the cardboard, but it’s not noticeable in most lighting.
They also have that factory-fresh chemical smell, so I’m letting them air out. It’s already dissipated quite a bit.

Shoes 158 are a perfect match for Salon de thé Minette in Mint!

Bodyline calls this color blue, but most of the other people who’ve ordered them have said it’s more of an aqua tone, and they were right. If you’re looking for the true mint tone that these shoes have in their stock photos, avoid them! They wouldn’t match most of the conventional mints or sax blues you see in lolita clothing.

Shoes 155 are a pretty decent match for Baby’s Café Candy in red, but a slightly warmer shade. The stock photos make them look much darker and more muted than they really are.

I’m a sucker for shiny shoes, and I think the enamel fits with the poppy, kind of retro aesthetic I always have in mind when coordinating this dress. Just gotta be careful not to scuff them!

I ordered from Bodyline using the “yen trick” (changing the site currency to yen, which lowers the price by about $10 on all items) and with the free airmail shipping, which brought the price for these shoes down to $17 per pair. I think it’s a very fair price to pay for Bodyline’s quality- I don’t think I’d order from them at their normal retail prices even with the yen trick, but being able to get shoes that fit the lolita aesthetic, match well with two of the trickier dresses in my wardrobe, ship for free, and are durable and comfortable enough for occasional use was all too good to pass up.

I placed my order on January 7, and got a confirmation the next day. Bodyline sent me tracking info on the 9th (each pair of shoes was shipped separately, but at the same time, to save on shipping). The tracking showed that the packages were actually mailed on the 10th in Japan, but overall the handling time was pretty quick. They arrived in my country on the 18th, but sat in customs for a week before they were finally delivered to me yesterday, January 26. For airmail, it was pretty fast- customs was the big issue with the delay, so I won’t hold it against them. And for free shipping, I really can’t complain!

To figure out the size for the shoes, I just measured my feet in centimeters from the end of my heel to the tip of my big toe. It turned out to be 24.5cm, so I ordered both pairs in size 245, and they fit perfectly with socks on.
The heel on this style of shoe is a little higher than most of Bodyline’s other offerings, but they’re comfortable and don’t seem like they’ll be an issue during long meetups or events that involve a lot of walking.

In short, perfect for the price! I’m glad to add these to my wardrobe, and I’m excited to coordinate them!