Spring 2020 Lookbook

I can’t believe that it’s already March! As much as I love all four seasons, spring is definitely my favourite. It’s pleasantly warm and a myriad of different flowers beautifully adorns the landscape. I look forward to the bright yellow daffodils and vivid crocuses in March, fragrant cherry blossoms and showy magnolia in April and lilac cascades of wisteria in May. This season requires lighter clothes that must also protect from the lingering chill of winter. I have put together three outfits that reflect the gentle spirit of this season. Hopefully they will inspire you.

Outfit 1: Blossoming Trees

This outfit was inspired by the pale pink and pure white clouds created by fruit blossoms abundantly adorning recently bare branches. The sight of those blooming flowers always warms my heart, even on the gloomiest spring days (they happen). The simple white sweater is quite light and thin, so it’s perfect for mild spring weather. I combined it with beautiful pink trousers adorned with a lovely ribbon at the waist. It adds femininity and elegance to the outfit. I left out the shoes in the flatlay, because I think that many pairs would go perfectly with it, without changing the look of the outfit too much, so I simply couldn’t decide. As long as the colour is harmonious, anything goes really.

Accessories give this outfit a particular charm. Gold looks beautiful with both pink and white, it’s also an interesting accent. The cut of the sweater leaves plenty of room to expose the necklace, so I chose a more showy layered one. For the hair, I chose a subtle and elegant ribbon clip to match the one on the trousers. I added a dainty gold watch, which is both practical and pretty, as well as two gold bracelets with delicate star themes to adorn the other wrist.

A better look at how the necklace appears on the neck. I also showcased my earrings here, elegant golden hearts, as I somehow forgot to include them in the flatlay.

Outfit 2: Fragrant Florals

I have a weakness for florals, and there’s no better time to wear them than spring, when so many gorgeous flowers bloom in different colours, their sweet scents combining into the nostalgic fragrance of spring. In this outfit I used a loose light pink top with 1/2 sleeves, perfect for spring weather, and a feminine white skirt with a lovely floral pattern. Spring days can still be rather chilly, so the fluffy cardigan adds warmth and brings to mind young lambs and soft bunnies, so commonly associated with spring.

As for accessories, I used an elegant pearl bracelet, necklace and hair clip. The earrings are gorgeous, rather showy flowers, matching the theme of the skirt.

The shoes I used are classic, beige-pink moccasins. As a bonus- gorgeous vibrant crocuses announcing the arrival of spring.

Outfit 3: Birdsongs

This outfit was inspired by a clear, bright blue sky interrupted only by several small, fluffy pure white clouds, leisurely floating along. Throughout the air flow cheerful birdsongs, urged on by the gentle breeze that also carries the mild scent of spring blooms. The focal point is the gorgeous dress, with a lovely and elegant cut perfect for this season, stunning ruffles and a poetic print with flowers and majestic birds. Although the long sleeves should be sufficient for average spring temperatures, I also added a lovely soft bolero as an elegant touch, just in case. For additional protection from lingering winter chills, I added a thin pink scarf and matching beret, both easily removable on warmer days. I decided to forgo the necklace to accentuate the pretty neckline, similarly I skipped the bracelet. For earrings I chose gorgeous hearts with pearl beads, and for the hair- an elegant light pink bow. As for shoes- it was a tough choice, but I went for elegant beige Oxford shoes. I think they match the classic vibe of this outfit very well. However, as with all other outfits, anything goes as well as it matches ^^

As always, I hope that you found this lookbook inspiring. Have a lovely day and please stay safe during those strange times. ~

Hometown haul- February 2020

I had the pleasure of visiting my beloved hometown for the first week of my winter break. I benefitted a lot from the time spent with family members that I rarely see and of course there was plenty of nostalgia. I had a bit of money, so I could do some shopping that is interesting enough to write a post about.

Beauty things, of course. Needless to say, I love investing in them. Our bodies are precious gifts that we must nurture and care for as much as we can, so beauty products aren’t a waste of money for me. Starting from the upper left- a conveniently packaged highlighter. Although I have a very pretty one already, I wanted a backup and a stronger one also for when I felt like achieving a more intense glowing skin effect. The shade name, “Moonlight”, is very poetic. It is a pressed powder and has soft pink undertones. It was on sale, so I could pick it up for a very affordable price. Next to the highlighter is a blush in simple and elegant packaging. It has a lovely, slightly peachy, natural shade, different from my more intense other blush. Its overall effect is subtle yet noticeable.

Next is a toner. While I bought one back in December and still have plenty left, this one was on sale and I wanted a backup for some reason. The packaging, soft pink colour and promise of glowing skin drew me in, I suppose. It is perfect for everyday gentle cleansing of the skin and contains grapefruit extract that makes the skin glow. Indeed, the product has a lovely grapefruit scent. It’s gentle and leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth, a very pleasant part of my everyday skincare routine.

INext is an exfoliating gel. Somehow exfoliation is something I’ve never really gotten into, so I decided to give it a try, and I don’t regret adding it to my cleansing routine. It removes dead skin cells, reduces excess sebum and cleans the pores. The mint extract feels very refreshing, the bamboo charcoal removes dead skin cells and absorbs impurities and sebum. Extracts from bamboo, lotus and water lilies normalise sebum production, help with regeneration and have moisturising properties. Overall, the gel is great for more thorough cleansing and leaves my skin feeling fresh and smooth.

Of course, I can’t resist face masks. Starting with the adorable cloud shaped one- it’s a bubble mask that will turn my face into a blissful blueberry cloud. It’s supposed to be lovely and lightweight with detoxifying properties that will refresh and regenerate my skin. It also smells like blueberries, with a matching colour, so I look forward to using it! The active ingredients are açai berries, activated charcoal, raspberries and cranberries. I love the gentle massage that bubble masks give, so it will be fun to use.

Next are two different masks from the same series, because the word Japan is enough to catch my attention. They have a metallic formula, so this will be interesting. On top of that they are peel-off masks, so satisfaction is guaranteed. The main ingredients of the blue one are hyaluronic acid, rice seed extract and silk proteins. Its main effects- moisturising and smoothing. The pink one’s main ingredients are cherry blossom extract, white tea and ginseng, whereas the main effects are regenerating and soothing. Did I mention how pretty the packaging is?

Finally, an aloe vera jelly mask that soothes and hydrates. It is mostly aloe vera juice, known for its skin benefits. It gives the mask a light, jelly consistency with cooling and refreshing properties, so I’ll leave this one until the summer. It also contains special probiotic water that helps the natural microflora of the skin, strengthens its natural immunity and protects it also.

Next is a lovely Japanese hand cream. If it looks familiar, it’s because I bought another one from this series in December. The gorgeous packaging and lovely scent is hard to resist. This one contains camellia oil (a plant that blooms in the winter) that strengthens, moisturises and has anti ageing effects. Rice oil softens, smoothies, regenerates and contains antioxidants. The cream has a gorgeous pale blue colour, delicate and sweet scent, absorbs quickly and makes my hands very soft and smooth.

Finally, a lip gloss, because I don’t have very many, and I like the soft, subtle and glassy look. It has a delicate pink colour that shimmers slightly and makes the lips look soft and full.

Of course, I couldn’t resist more skincare. The orange box contains a sleeping mask, so a gel nighttime cream. Its main effects are smoothing and moisturising. The formula is inspired by Korea, which reminded me of my TonyMoly sleeping mask that I enjoy using, but haven’t got much left of. The product has a light gel consistency, soft colour and pretty, subtle sparkles. It smells sweet too. The active ingredients are fruit extracts (peach, raspberry and strawberry) that help with exfoliation, toning and smoothing, hyaluronic acid limits water loss and makes the skin nice and firm, and cucumber extract cleanses and refreshes the skin.

Next is a lovely eyeshadow palette that I’ve had my eyes on for a while. The price was significantly lower as there was a sale going on, and I saved on shipping because the shop is conveniently located in my hometown, so I could pick it up easily. I got 15 beautiful and pigmented shades that I will definitely discuss in a separate post. The main theme is pink, so this palette is perfect for my taste.

I really needed a new phone case, so as this one was affordable and I quite liked the design, I picked it up. It’s simple, cute and rather elegant. The gold outline gives a luxurious feel whereas the cat ears remind me of those lovely animals. Since the case is mostly clear, I can easily customise it by putting something between my phone and the case. Currently it is a small card inspired by geisha business cards with a seasonal design that will change monthly. It’s quite fun to do.

I tend to omit hats when going out in the cold out of laziness, so I bought this cute pink one to encourage me to start wearing them. It’s very soft, warm and practical, and of course versatile too.

I love jewellery, especially when it’s on sale. I picked up this gorgeous gold layered necklace with elegant charms and dainty gold necklace with a star charm for almost nothing, and they are lovely additions to my outfits.

I felt like getting a new keychain, and decided to make my own. I went to a handicraft shop that I enjoyed visiting back when I lived there and picked out some pretty charms and beads to make into a keychain. It turned out quite pretty, and most importantly- it’s mine.

I have a fringe and needless to say it gets in the way when it comes to makeup and skincare. This soft hair band is extremely practical and convenient, effectively keeping my fringe in place. Besides, it’s adorable.

I love nature, and like to keep seasonal plants and flowers in my room. However, I’d usually put them in drinking glasses that weren’t suited for the purpose, as they are quite plain and the shape wasn’t exactly right. So, I got this adorable small vase with a ribbon to display the plants.

I told myself I have enough candles, but I’m too weak it seems, and couldn’t resist this pretty floral candle. It has a delicate and refined scent that I look forward to filling my whole room with.

Thankfully, taking all of this on the train home with me wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be ^^’ Although I already have one blanket, I wanted to have one that’s a bit bigger and softer, so I can alternate between the two. Not only is this one in my favourite colour, but it’s also lovely and soft, keeping me warm and cosy on freezing winter days.

Of course we eat and drink everyday, so pleasant to look at vessels that food and drinks are served in are a good way to make each ordinary day brighter. I use bowls at least once daily, and I already have a pretty one, but I decided to add another to my collection. It’s simple, but I truly like it. I have a thing for pretty and elegant teacups, especially since tea is a big part of my life. This one has a stunning floral design that warms my heart, even when said tea or coffee is consumed on a Monday morning. Since I drink cold beverages and sometimes tea in glasses, I couldn’t resist this pretty one- it has a nice design and can hold a lot.

I didn’t think much of picture frames, but they are truly overlooked- anything can be put in them, so they have plenty of potential. This definitely isn’t the last one I’ll buy. I decided that this one will be for displaying pictures that I draw- they will change each season and will be inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and geisha. For this spring I am working on a piece inspired by posters for the annual spring dances of the Gion geisha district in Kyoto- Miyako Odori. Once I buy more frames, I plan to put pressed flowers and drawings inspired by past eras in them.

I’ll never say no to some pens, as I write a lot, not only for school. Especially when said pens are affordable and look pretty. The gentle pastel colours make them a pleasure to write with.

And that will be everything ^^ As always, have a lovely day and take care ~

👘kimono basics: types of kimono👘

It’s no secret that since Japanese culture is one of my main interests, kimono have a special place in my heart. That’s why I would like to dedicate many posts here, on my part of the internet, to this fascinating element of Japanese culture.

Before I can make more detailed posts about them, it’s essential to cover the basics. A good starting point is outlining the many different types of kimono.

To the untrained eye, kimono are kimono. Beautiful and interesting, undoubtedly, but just kimono. That’s understandable- most types of kimono have the exact same rectangle construction, and the type and formality are determined by pattern placement.

Each type of kimono is intended for different occasions. Kimono etiquette may seem daunting, but western clothes have different formalities too. When discussing kimono types, I will go from least to most formal.

Yukata (浴衣- “bath attire”)

Source: Pixabay

The most famous kimono type, and also the easiest and most comfortable to wear. In the summertime, they are a key part of matsuri (festivals). Yukata are extremely informal- they were originally worn as bathrobes. Today they are still used like this in many hot springs, and traditional hotels (ryōkan) will provide guests with them as loungewear. They are made from cotton or synthetic fabric and are always unlined, making them very lightweight. Because of this, they are worn in the summer- to festivals, firework shows, casual walks around town. Traditionally they were dyed indigo, but today they come in unlimited colours and patterns. Often they are mass-produced, making them very affordable. The designs of yukata are limited only by the imagination, but of course classical summertime motifs like morning glories, goldfish and dragonflies are abundant. There are colourful, busy ones and mature subdued ones. Patterns cover the whole garment. They are not limited to traditional Japanese motifs, so there is plenty of freedom. Yukata require the least accessories to wear- a T-shirt and shorts underneath is sufficient, and the belt is half as wide as a regular one and therefore easy to tie, pre-tied versions are also abundant. Although traditional geta sandals are popular, your footwear can be pretty much anything.

Komon (小紋- “small pattern”)

Source: Wikimedia commons

The most informal type of “proper” kimono. The name comes from the pattern placement- the garment is covered in a repeating pattern, not necessarily small. Simply speaking, it is an everyday kimono- worn for situations like casually visiting a friend or running errands. They come in different fabrics, the same ones that other types of kimono are made from, and are worn with the same accessories.

Edo komon

Edo komon is a type of komon with an extremely small repeating pattern, usually white on a coloured background. Its formality is somewhere between a komon and iromuji.

Iromuji (色無地- “single solid colour”)

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A kimono that is a single colour all over. Although it seems like they have no designs at all, they often have discreet patterns woven into the material, but overall they are one colour. They are also the lowest formality of kimono that can have a kamon- family crest. They indicate formality- the more there are, the more formal a kimono. There can be one, three or five. Iromuji can have no more than one. The accessories this type of kimono is paired with can change its formality quite a bit. It’s rather versatile, ideal for more casual to semi-formal settings. An example would be a tea ceremony.

Tsukesage (付け下げ- “to put down”)

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Kimono are constructed from rectangular pieces of fabric called “tan”. Why is this important here? Because in a tsukesage, the pattern will always stay within one tan and will not cross over to another. It is typically rather small and scattered. This kimono is semi-formal and can have up to three kamon.

Houmongi (訪問着- “visiting wear”)

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This type of kimono is suitable for formal occasions. The flowing pattern stretches across the whole garment- on the back on the right, on the front on the left, and across the hem it is higher on the left. They can have up to five crests.

Tomesode (留袖– “short sleeve”)

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The most formal type of kimono. It will have a solid colour background and motifs will be only below the waist. If it has a black background, it is called a kurotomesode (黒留袖), whereas a background of any other colour makes it an irotomesode (色留袖). Kurotomesode are more formal than irotomesode, however if the latter has five crests it is as formal as any kurotomesode.

Special types of kimono

Mofuku (喪服- “mourning clothes”)

Mourning kimono. The kimono and all accessories are solid black, similarly to western mourning wear. Underwear is white. The kimono has five crests.

Furisode (振袖- “swinging sleeves”)

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The most formal kimono for an unmarried woman. Colourful patterns cover the garment, and the distinguishing element are the very long sleeves, around a metre long. Today they are extremely popular for coming of age ceremonies (seijin shiki). In the past, when kimono were worn more often, a more casual variant of furisode called 中振袖 (chū-furisode) was common, with sleeves around 80cm long.

Hikizuri/ Susohiki

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This is a type of kimono that has a long, trailing hem. The “base” can be any other kimono type- a tomesode or furisode, and the pattern placement can be that of a houmongi, komon, iromuji etc. They are worn by geisha, dancers and kabuki actors. Often they have padded hems and the collar is lower at the back. They are worn slightly differently to ensure a nice trail, this method of wearing makes the kimono tight around the legs, while the hem beautifully flares out at the bottom.

Jūnihitoe (十二単- “12 layers”)

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A type of kimono worn by women in the Heian era (794-1185) court. It consists of up to 12 layers of garments, with the bottom layer, called the kosode, being the prototype of later kimono. Colour combinations are extremely important here, but the garments were also covered in fairly large motifs. Elaborate fans called hiōugi, ties together by tassels, were often worn. Today they can be seen at historical festivals and events, museum exhibitions and demonstrations. They are still used by the Imperial Household at some important events.

Shiromuku (白無垢- “white innocence”)

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Bridal kimono. Basically a pure white uchikake. Like in western culture, the white is a symbol of the bride’s purity.

Kakeshita (掛下- inner robe)

Also wedding kimono. Goes under the shiromuku or uchikake. It has a slightly padded hem and can be very rich and colourful or all-white (shiro-kakeshita).

Uchikake (打掛- outer robe)

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Reserved for stagewear and brides. They are very richly decorated, with thickly padded hems, extremely formal and heavy. They are draped as a sort of coat over the other layers and not intended to be worn with an obi over.

It’s just a piece of land- why am I a patriot?

Everyone has a different hierarchy of values that determines what they strive for, what their priorities are and how they think. As for me, one of my main values is my homeland. It’s something I’d give my life for and deeply love. Of course I’ve heard things such as “how can a piece of land be a value?” and “you don’t choose your country, how can you be proud of it?”. Those arguments come from a very rational, logical standpoint. However, once you look at this “piece of land” from a broader, more abstract perspective, you will start to see why it’s something that caused wars and people sacrificed their lives for.

What is it that makes a piece of land, marked by man made borders, more than just that? Many factors come into play. Broadly, it’s absolutely everything. Even tiny details are different across countries. The main thing that unites a nation is language- it’s obvious, as it allows transfer of information between people. It’s what makes a nation different from others. Language is also a carrier of its “soul”- the sound of it says a lot about the people, and each language has unique words that are difficult to translate, whether they are names of cultural elements or abstract ideas. Poland, historically, was covered in forests. They have always been a major part of Poles’ lives. In the Polish language, there are many different words for different specific types of forest, that many of which in English would just translate to “forest”. The same can be said for Scandinavian languages and the word “snow”. The same is true for every language. The Japanese language has completely different words and phrases used for people depending on their rank- for instance, there are short, humble and polite forms of verbs. This matches Japanese culture- it values discipline, hierarchy and politeness. Languages are so much more than just different words meaning the same thing. Let’s not forget writing systems too- for instance, the Latin alphabet is a reflection of Roman precision and simplicity. Although I could write a lot about this topic, let’s move on to another factor- culture. This is really a topic for a book, but in short- different cultures do everyday things differently, that’s no secret. This depends on the environment, history, religion, interactions with other countries and so forth. Culture reveals itself in minor everyday actions. It’s food, clothing, music, art, literature. All of that reflects the features and philosophy of the country. The Japanese traditionally kneel on floors, being closer to the Earth, whereas Westerners sit on chairs. Tips are polite and necessary in America, in Japan they are seen as an insult. Art, theatre and literature not only gives an insight into people’s lives, but also defines beauty and skill. An example could be Italian and French baroque architecture- Italian baroque is whimsical, busy and rich, whereas French baroque is simpler, more classical and reflects the French love of elegance. All of the elements I named unite people into a nation. People of one nationality will understand cultural contexts, and that will bring them together. Furthermore, those cultural contexts will make their way into other elements of culture. All of this makes a person’s homeland feel different- warm, close to the heart, familiar.

History. Knowing the history of one’s homeland is absolutely fundamental. It’s a uniting factor. It is essential to understand its origins and how it became what it is today. Great victories and successes that shaped the country create a sense of pride. Knowledge of those who died in defence of their homeland is also extremely important, because those people are an example of faithfulness to certain values and powerful love of the country that shaped them. There were many such people in 20th century Poland, for instance. People who heroically died fighting with the occupant, even if they didn’t always win (Warsaw Uprising). People, who weren’t identified. People, who have been forgotten. Victims of people, who have never been punished. People, who died dreaming of a free Poland. Essentially they died for the future generations of Poles. Since so many people worldwide have died for their country throughout history, it can’t just be a piece of land. It is a piece of land that is the home of a rich culture and unique people and they must be able to defend it. No matter what, the country you’re from will always be a part of you. Even if you’ve never been there. It will affect your mindset, your habits, every area of your life. By defending your country, you are defending a part of yourself and your family. You are defending the efforts of your ancestors and years of turbulent history. Your country influences who you are, and I believe it is a moral duty to defend and support it, striving for its prosperity and peace.

I was born in Poland, but when I was 5 I moved to England and lived there until I was almost 14. Of course I adjusted well, and undeniably British culture is a part of me. However, living abroad also made me realise just how different my motherland is. I’m not talking about obvious differences like the weather- whenever I visited Poland, I felt very different. I felt right at home, like I belong. It’s a very warm, pleasant feeling, a different type of love. Back in England, when I thought of my country, although I didn’t know much about it and it was rather distant, I missed it and felt very nostalgic. Yes, it’s a piece of land- but within its borders my ancestors and I entered the world.

When I moved back to Poland, I was extremely happy. I always felt an urge to live there before I returned, and my wish finally came true. I didn’t care that I would have initially have problems with the language, that I would leave everything behind and start again. Needless to say, the latter wasn’t easy. I left all my friends and made many memories in England. For a while I missed it a lot every now and then, but I managed to overcome it. When I came to Poland, I was delighted. Everything was different from what I was used to, although I was born in that city. My native tongue was everywhere. I could relate to everyone, because we were all raised in the same traditions. Nothing was new or strange to me, I didn’t feel like someone who doesn’t belong.

My country is where I was born, where I spent most of my life and what made me who I am. It’s where my ancestors went through hell. It’s my home, it’s where I am safe. I have a debt of gratitude towards it and I truly want the best for my country. I wouldn’t be able to leave it again- it would be extremely difficult for me emotionally. Because Poland is free, strong and safe. It’s peaceful. It’s my home and I’m happy here.

Before I complain, I remind myself of all the people who died in defence of Polish sovereignty. People who never lived to see an independent Poland, but gave their lives for it. People who risked everything cultivating the Polish language, passing on culture and history to their children. Only a powerful force can make people do such incredible things. That force is patriotism.

🎄christmas 2019 haul🎄

Hello in 2020! Although this post is slightly late, it’s better than nothing.

Christmas is a very important time for me. As a Christian, I symbolically celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus, who is extremely important in my life. It is also the perfect time to cultivate tradition and family bonds, and that comes with gift-giving, which is what this post will focus on. The whole process is beautiful- from carefully picking out and perhaps making presents based on knowledge of the receiver’s taste, to packaging them and seeing the smiles on their faces as they open them. Absolutely priceless. It’s not as much about the item itself as it is about the love and effort that comes with it.

I got a few lovely gifts from my mum as well as a bit of money, so first I’ll show you what I received.

I got a wonderful bordeaux bag, as you know it’s not my usual colour, but I do love an elegant deep red. I can especially see this in many autumn outfits, but not only- I’m sure I could sometimes work it into other seasons too. It can comfortably fit my phone, purse, keys and a lipstick, and there is also space for a book, which is good as I often like to read away from home. The strap can also be regulated easily.

Of course there’s some food, including my favourite Lindt chocolates! They’re truly heavenly, I haven’t had them since like 2015. I’m truly grateful that I can enjoy them again. I also got some delicious mint chocolate thins in fancy packaging. A particularly good snack with a cup of tea.

I also got some lovely gloves in my favourite colour. The difference that gloves make overall is surprisingly big. They’re also really elegant and keep my hands warm on mercilessly cold winter days.

Finally, I got this gorgeous and subtle bracelet. It matches absolutely everything, it’s elegant and nicely sparkles under the sunlight.

Now, on to what I bought for the money.

On the very left is a cosy scarf, which is so wonderfully soft and warm. It’s ideal for cold days and can function as a blanket, which is particularly useful when it’s also cold indoors. My history teacher in particular likes to open the window when it’s freezing out, and when a normal scarf won’t cut it, this large square-shaped one is a lifesaver. It’s extremely soft and fuzzy, very pleasant to the touch. I also love the harmonious colour scheme, matching my style well.

Next is a face cream, I can never have too many. This one contains flax and its main jobs are brightening and nourishing. The cream moisturises, tones and firms the skin, making it feel smooth and soft, like the finest linen. It absorbs quickly, has a beautiful light blue colour, is easy to apply and smells heavenly. Small but potent, and very affordable too.

Next is a Japanese hand cream spotted at the drugstore that caught my attention- it was affordable and the connection to a country I’m so interested in drew me in. There were three variants, and I ended up choosing the cherry+silk one. The lovely pink packaging with delicate cherry blossoms also caught my eye- it’s a pleasure to look at when I need to moisturise my hands, especially in the winter- reminds me of warm spring days full of fragrant flowers. Cherry extract has a moisturising and smoothing effect, also gently exfoliating. It evens out the skin, brightens discolouration, protects against wrinkles, strengthens and helps regeneration. Silk proteins also moisturise and protect from losing moisture, smoothen the skin and regenerate it. The cream has an intense floral scent, light pink colour, absorbs quickly and leaves my hands feeling silky smooth.

Next is a scented candle, in an earlier post I mentioned that I have a soft spot for those ones- they come in dainty jars, have interesting scents and are very affordable. This one is the sixth in my collection, though I still don’t have the whole series. The scent is chocolate brownie and I think it emulates it very well- the intense chocolate smell is enough to satisfy a chocolate craving.

Next is a lovely set of earrings. Although one was missing, it didn’t really matter as I have a pair that’s pretty much identical, and I still got 11 pairs for a very affordable price.

Four of them are very dainty and tiny, the first (complete) pair has a lovely opalescent shine. The second pair is very simple and versatile, whereas the third one seems to be leaves. The fourth pair beautifully sparkles under the light. The next four pairs are a bit bigger, but still rather simple and refined. I especially like the second and fourth pair of this set. The fourth one is an especially charming plant design. The last four pairs are more interesting and eye-catching. The star ones are probably my favourite.

Overall the earring set is very simple and versatile, they are an elegant and interesting touch to any outfit.

What’s a shopping trip without adding to my face mask collection? I need to have a good supply at all times, after all. The elegant package has two applications, and I have just used the second one as I write this post. The mask has a lovely creamy consistency, which is perfect as it can be applied like a moisturiser and isn’t messy. It has a very delicate and pleasant smell. It’s comfortable to leave on- it just absorbs and can be left overnight. The active ingredients are Japanese camellia oil, milk thistle seed oil (which has powerful anti-wrinkle properties- I used to take milk thistle to help my damaged liver a little, but it is also very beneficial for the skin and hair) and moisturising “Izumi power complex”, though it isn’t really specified what it is exactly. The mask left my skin feeling soft, smooth and moisturised. The smooth feeling of my skin is particularly notable.

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Another mask, because why not? This one is from one of my favourite cosmetic companies, Ziaja. It’s Polish, so nice and local. The products are varied and very affordable. It contains rose petal extract, rose butter, hyaluronic acid, canola oil and a range of vitamins. Basically, plenty of beneficial ingredients for the skin. It reduces wrinkles, makes the skin more flexible and firm and regenerates it. I haven’t tried it yet, but it also seems to be a creamy mask.

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The next mask comes in adorable packaging and is very summery, with strawberry and watermelon extracts. The smoothie theme comes from the fact that it contains fruity extracts and also probiotics. So, how does it work? Although I haven’t tried it yet, it is written that it’s fluffy and creamy, so I look forward to using it. Strawberry juice contains vitamins and antioxidants, moisturising and revitalising the skin with anti-ageing effects. Watermelon juice is refreshing and moisturising, making the skin radiant and shiny. The probiotic strengthens the skin’s immunity to harmful outside factors, helps regeneration of the skin and regulates its pH.

I told myself that I have enough lipsticks, but this one was on sale and I couldn’t resist picking it up for such an affordable price. The shade is unlike any of the ones in my collection- it’s the darkest and boldest I have. It’s a gorgeous mixture of deep crimson and violet. It’s actually rather flattering, and perfect especially for when I need a bit of extra confidence. It’s also surprisingly versatile.

I bought some more Ziaja products, because I love them and like to support Polish businesses when I can. The bottle on the left is a rose petal tonic that I like to apply at night after removing my make-up and before applying moisturiser. It’s refreshing and moisturising, it contains rose petal extract and provitamin B5. It gently cleanses the skin, moisturises and tones it and feels refreshing and soothing. Using it is very pleasant.

I also bought some BB cream, as a back-up for when my other base products run out. It was very affordable, so why not? It contains SPF 15 so I’m always at least a little protected from the sun, even in the winter. In the warmer seasons it’s a nice bonus. It has a delicate, light and velvety texture, easy and pleasant to apply. It contains moisturising hyaluronic acid and provitamin B5, smoothing vitamin E and mineral pigments. It naturally evens out the skin tone, effectively hiding flaws and making the skin look radiant and dewy. Not to mention it feels amazing- it’s moisturising and soothing. Basically- works like a dream.

I really wanted to expand my eyeshadow collection by a wider array of pinks- more on the dusty and rose gold side, as I was missing such shades. Turns out the I Heart Revolution Rose Gold Mini palette was perfect for this. It has gorgeous shades, beautiful packaging and works amazingly well for an excellent price. Of course this will get a separate post, because she shades are lovely.

Well, that will be all!

Have a lovely day ~

🎀2019 review. 2020 resolutions 🎀

2019 was quite a ride. In some ways it was similar to 2018, in other ways- completely different. I can’t believe I’m writing this post already- it truly seems like I was writing last year’s post just a month ago, yet here we are. This year was full of important moments, joyful times, development and also very difficult periods. However, it all came together and I can now look it all from a different perspective. I will first cover each month in detail, then I’ll see how well I kept the resolutions I made a year ago before setting new ones for the coming year. This New Year will be special, because we are entering a new decade- when I think of all that happened in those 10 years that passed so quickly, a wave of nostalgia hits me hard. Despite my uncertainty and certain fears, I still look forward to seeing what the next decade has in store.

January

I spent the New Year at home, so I decided to try some Japanese traditions for this day. I wanted to catch the first sunrise, but I might’ve set my alarm wrong or been looking in the wrong place- I was so sleepy that I took a quick photo of the disappointing, but still symbolic view (bottom left picture) and went to sleep straight away. Maybe this year will be better. I made very basic zōni (just miso soup with pieces of the rather poor kagamimochi I made earlier), made a daruma and dressed in kimono. I welcomed the New Year with two dances- Kotobuki and Akebono. The year started with me relaxing and doing what I love, but life is brutal and school resumes right after a festive, relaxed and joyful period in December. Everything seems colder, darker and more depressing no matter what. However January is the month when winter is at its finest- snow finally appears, covering the world in a soft and pure blanket, and suddenly everything is no longer grey and empty, but beautiful and surreal. This year I was quite lucky when it comes to snow. I fondly remember muffled footsteps, rushing snowflakes and admiring the landscape in disbelief. It’s one of the moments that I’d love to capture in its entirety and store somewhere, but I can only use pictures and words.

In January I also performed a tea ceremony, with matching snowflake shaped sweets. As always, it was very relaxing, though of course it also takes a lot of effort to prepare. I also started winter break in January, which began with generous snowfall. I went to my beloved cat cafe with a friend and visited a park to admire the white landscape. It’s probably my best memory of this month.

I also remember that my interest in the history of art was growing, so I visited the city centre to take a closer look at the architecture, including the main cathedral. Since it was getting dark so early, those visits had a remarkable atmosphere.

January is the peak of winter- I love leaving the house when it’s still dark and witnessing the sunrise. I love bundling up in warm scarves, coats and gloves. I love entering warm buildings. I love drinking sweet hot chocolate and eating homemade ginger cookies. I love walking through thick snow, with thoughts suspended between the earth and clouds.

February

February was quite eventful, as I was still on winter break. I went ice-skating, visited the cat cafe again, visited the National Museum in my city for the first time. Of course I fell in love, being able to directly see the art that I’m so interested in. The museum of architecture was another place that I went to and could admire beautiful creations up close. I also decided to do a panel on Japanese dance at a con in my city, it was quite a nice experience. There I picked up a pair of kokeshi doll earrings. I went with a friend to have fancy luxurious sweets just for the sake of it, visited a park on the other end of the city- it’s surprising how something as simple as a park bench and a biscuit can bring so much happiness. February is also when I had my second liver biopsy done, so a bit less pleasant, but the hospital stay was unproblematic and the results better than expected. I particularly liked drinking chai tea lattes that month, and made them often. Particularly memorable is a lovely coffee and chocolate cake I made- with the previously mentioned drink it was truly blissful. Happiness really isn’t so far off. Towards the end of the month I performed a tea ceremony themed around plum blossoms and therefore anticipation of the coming spring. The sweet I made is very simple, but symbolic- the white is the snow and bleak landscape, whereas the pink is the plum blossom that stands out against it. Finally, the last day of the month was “fat Thursday”- in Poland, on the last Thursday before lent begins we indulge in a creation called pączki- deep-fried sweet buns with various fillings. This year I was lucky enough to have homemade ones with delicious classic rose-flavoured filling- my favourite.

March

March is an exciting month, because flowers finally appear and the weather slowly gets pleasantly warm- look how I’m dressed in the second picture from early in the month and the bottom-left one, from the last day. The first day of March was a Friday. I remember being very optimistic- because spring. Even an unexpected essay in Polish, my first lesson that day, didn’t lower my spirits. Before that, my friend and I both decided to wear florals on the first of March to celebrate the coming of spring. Early in the month it was still cold, bland and grey, but colourful crocus buds were signs of hope. In the middle of the month I visited a beautiful park with a friend to witness the first signs of spring- and I found many, including snowdrops that I’ve been meaning to find for a while, and a tree with beautifully scented flowers. I also really enjoyed just watching ducks. For the first day of spring, my school had a talent show that I participated in, I performed a Classical Japanese dance called Harusame (spring rain). I’ve never performed in front of such a large audience, so it was quite an experience. I also used the occasion to wear a floral dress. In March, I collected enough stamps on my cat cafe loyalty card to get a free coffee, so I went alone and enjoyed a peaceful cup. Towards the end of the month I visited the same park that I went to in February, to discover daisies, daffodils, bright yellow forsythia and violets. Fruit trees also started to bloom, creating pink and white clouds. At the very end of the month I visited a forest park with my friend- more flowers were in bloom, like pansies and anemone. There was a gorgeous palace, it was pleasantly warm and we took lots of photos and sat on a bench eating biscuits. Peaceful bliss. I felt so free. The next day we visited a new park, where once again I could admire the blooming fruit trees.

I also sold something and had a bit of money- so I bought a new, autumn kimono and the Diamond Honey Palace Cats JSK that I have been wanting for a while, and some small things.

April

April- the height of spring and my favourite month. Fruit trees in full bloom, being a lovely sight that I can’t get enough of, the delicate flower petals softly floating in the air and creating exquisite carpets. My favourite April activity is a picnic under the Japanese cherry blossoms with a friend. I could admire the gorgeous flowers and take in their subtle scent while eating homemade biscuits decorated with real flowers. Of course I also made dango. This year I wore a dreamy blouse and themed cherry blossom skirt, of course I took many photos. It was a lovely day. April is the month when every day, new colourful flowers burst into bloom, and taking a walk to search for them is pure pleasure. Their sweet scents fill the air, creating an ethereal atmosphere. April is when teachers in Poland went on strike, so I had to rely on myself to do some schoolwork, but I also got lots of sleep and a nice break. My autumn kimono arrived, I tried to go to my school locker but got kicked out, went on walks in my area to search for flowers. Those walks I remember very well- they were very simple, but the myriad of flowers brought me much joy. The smell and beauty of hyacinths, violets, magnolia…

April is when I visited my city’s Japanese garden for the first time, and it was a lovely experience. Beautifully composed, with familiar and unusual plants. Many trees were covered in vivid, fresh leaves, and azaleas began to bloom. The koi pond was particularly interesting.

I took a day to dress in my maiko outfit, as it’s meant for April, with the primary motif being cherry blossoms. As tiring as it was, it was certainly very rewarding, and I could perform a few spring dances.

I took advantage of the warm weather, visited interesting places, admired swans, visited a museum of my city’s history, which is a royal palace complete with a beautiful garden.

Then came Easter, a very important holiday for me as a Christian, but also with its unique atmosphere. And chocolate.

Then the first lilacs bloomed, creating an otherworldly scent. There were some days hot enough for ice-cream- there is a gorgeous ice-cream place near my home where there is a lovely garden and even a cat. Very peaceful.

Evenings were now pleasantly warm, so I started going on walks with my sister, something that became a tradition. I do it even now, when it can get mercilessly cold.

At the very end of the month my school had an open day, so I took on the role of a tour guide. Constant walking and talking with barely any time to eat or drink was very rewarding regardless. And the teacher strike was suspended. It’s supposedly ongoing now, but can barely be felt.

May

May is a vibrant month when it becomes very warm and more flowers burst into bloom- delicate lily of the valley was the first flower I wanted to see this month, so I visited the lovely forest park where I wasn’t disappointed. The leaves were fresh and vivid, making it difficult to feel pessimistic. Sweet-smelling abundant wisteria is another plant that I was looking forward to, and the lilac cascades warmed my heart whenever I saw them. I remember buying a sweater from someone, for which I had to go to a faraway part of the city. Since I was there I visited the park that was there- I remember how serene and pleasant it was. It also started to get very warm, and I started looking forward to the coming summer. When the elegant white cascades of honey-scented acacia started to bloom, I knew that summer was close. May is also when roses start to bloom- dog-roses with their heavenly scent and a myriad of colourful “regular roses”- vibrant red, soft pink, delicate cream… the gorgeous flowers adoring many gardens and outdoor areas are a heartwarming sight.

This month my kimono collection also grew by a lovely plum blossom piece.

I paid the National Museum another visit.

One of my favourite ways to spend a day out without spending much became taking a bus to never before or rarely visited areas of the city and walking around. I did this with my sister and it really was a lot of fun, despite how simple it was.

Evening walks were even warmer. One clear memory I have is of a walk after a rainy day. The sweet scent of the wet blossoms on a dark, quiet evening was for some reason very memorable.

The end of May also brings my favourite fruit- the strawberry, which means many delicious foods- of which my favourite is strawberry daifuku.

June

June is the start of summer and the end of the school year, so a relaxed atmosphere can be felt. I decided to celebrate the summer International Lolita Day by dressing in a strawberry-themed country coord. Many different flowers were in bloom, and I kept visiting new places in my city. Although many days were unbearably hot, it was the peak of strawberry season- eating them after getting home was truly a relief. I also made the decision to move school for the next year, so it was a bit of a stressful month also. I remember visiting a place at the very edge of the city, where there was a field. I really felt free walking down the path… and so did my dog, maybe a little bit too much ^^’ June is when my favourite summer flower begins to bloom- the hydrangea! Seeing the first pastel bouquets really brought me plenty of joy. This month I also wore lolita fashion in public, which is something I do… well, never because a) it’s uncomfortable and impractical, especially in the summer and b) I have a short temper and really don’t feel like dealing with reactions and comments. Although I don’t think I’d repeat this anytime soon, it was still a lot of fun. I met with a fellow lolita and we went to the cat cafe. I wore a themed dress- my beloved Diamond Honey Palace Cats JSK.

Then came the long-awaited end of the school year. I made it through the first year of high school, and could now rest for two months. It was very hot so due to my health I couldn’t stand outside for so long, even in the shade, so during the assembly I was sitting in a classroom with my friend.

In late June, bright yellow linden starts to bloom, filling the air with its sweet scent. It’s also the month of lilies, hollyhock and cherries.

I still went on walks in my area, and made friends with some cats and dogs. Some of them don’t appear now because of the cold, but I still see others sometimes and make sure to say hello.

In search of fireflies, I went to a riverside park when it was dark. Although I didn’t find what I was looking for, it was still a pleasant experience, and quite unusual since I don’t usually go out in the evenings (except for walks in my area, on which during the summer I went almost daily).

I picked roses and lavender to use for food- I made them into syrups that I used in lemonade and crushed ice. Crushed ice in syrup was amazing for dealing with the heat and surprisingly tasty.

I went on a small shopping trip, where I bought a face mask, spray bottle, nail polish, earrings, a necklace and scented candle. Although simple, it still made me happy.

July

July- the height of summer. I visited a beautiful new park with a friend, from where we also went to admire some churches. Everything is so vibrant and lively in the summer. For a reason I can’t really disclose I had a sleepless night, but since I was early on in studying the history of art, I spent most of the time doing iconography, so it wasn’t wasted. What more, I even went out during the day, running on no sleep- despite feeling a bit weird, I was functioning surprisingly well. And I visited some picturesque places. Even better, when I got home my mum made waffles. I think I collapsed quite soon after consuming them. Nighttime walks continued, as you can see by the picture- I never saw that gorgeous white cat again, unfortunately. Maybe one day. I also went to another park in a part of the city I’ve never been to before, sitting on a bench with a peaceful view and reading Classical Japanese poetry was truly blissful. I also went with a friend to a viewpoint- although it was extremely tiring to climb up all those stairs, the view was very rewarding- for the first time I could see my city from such a height. I went to a fairly nearby resort town in the mountains with my family. I’ve been there so many times, but it’s always pleasant to go, even if just for the sake of memories. I had nice pancakes, saw gorgeous hydrangeas, bought two charms for necklaces- rose quartz and amethyst. I went to another new park with another friend- the area was very interesting and I will visit again. Besides, the park was lovely.

The end of the month was when the first morning glories bloomed, another flower that I love but also a symbol of late summer.

August

If I were to say which month of the summer I remember best, I’d say August. The month started with a visit from a family member I haven’t seen for a while. I also made some new jewellery for the first time in a while. I visited another park with a friend. And I returned to my hometown. How I love going there! I love visiting my grandma, who is such a good and modest person. Just thinking about that place makes my heart warm. Delicious homemade food, sweet tea that somehow tastes different, the unforgettable smell of the countryside that I’ve known since I was born. Socialising with family members I rarely had the opportunity to see and friends of my grandma- such lovely people. The summer sunset observed from the stone steps leading to my grandma’s house. Picking mirabelle plums and raspberries. Picking flowers for my great grandma. Visiting the city that I was born in and have many good memories from. Even when I lived there, it just felt different. Although it’s not too big, I just felt good there. Now I live in a big city 500km away, and it feels somewhat different. It’s been two years, and I still don’t exactly feel at-home. I met a gorgeous fluffy white dog, made friends with a pig, admired sunflowers. I could relax and be close to nature. I just felt happy and peaceful. Of course I also managed to do some shopping. When I got home, my mum also surprised me with some presents- a purse, sparkling bracelet, white chocolate, socks and perfume. I also went on a small shopping trip in my city, because I suppose sometimes I can.

August was quite stressful because the moving school procedure was more complicated than expected- I had no information if there were free places anywhere, despite previous information that there were. So I decided to return to my old school, but I was technically left without a school until the last day of the month. That’s why I tried to do as much as possible- to take my mind off it, because there was nothing I could do.

I visited the main market square with a friend- we had shakes at McDonald’s and I had a surprising amount of fun making large bubbles. Can’t always be so serious.

I also visited my city’s ethnographic museum, and it was really interesting. I have to visit again soon. One of those things that make me nostalgic for times I never knew…

Since it was so hot, I visited one of my favourite parks for a bit of natural air con, and in search of water lilies. Late summer has a unique atmosphere.

My sister and I also had a lovely outing- we went to the outskirts of the city and had a very small amount of money, but we bought quite a nice of amount of food. We spread out a blanket and relaxed by the lake, just eating unhealthy food and talking. Since it was so hot, I couldn’t resist taking a walk on the soft sand and in the water itself. Almost like a Spanish beach.

This month I also bought a gorgeous raspberry-coloured Nagoya obi that I’ve been eyeing for a while. I was surprised that it was still there when I had the money to spend.

Since school was coming closer, I also had to buy supplies. This has its own post. Over the summer I was also buying textbooks from people which forced me to discover some new places.

The last day of August was also special, because there was a Japanese culture festival in my city! I wrote a separate post about it here.

September

September means the start of another battle- I started my second year of high school. Of course well-prepared and optimistic.

Over the course of this month it became cooler, so it was pleasantly warm rather than unbearably hot- very welcome, since the first very hot days appeared at the end of April. I made one of my favourite types of cookies- I need to bake more often. Because of an education reform there were twice as many first years, so the timetables had to be altered so that lessons started at 7.30am instead of 8. Only 30 minutes, but in the early morning even 5 minutes of sleep are precious. Needless to say, adjusting was hard. It was still warm enough for my favourite running in the adjacent park for PE, but since my health is what it is, I had it a bit easier and I could pet some dogs. Best PE lesson in my life. I went with my mum and sister for pizza and ice-cream, quite a rare event, but very pleasant. I also did a small tea ceremony because of the autumn moon- I could wear my autumn kimono at last. I visited parks in search of the first signs of autumn- rose-hips, cosmos, asters, bellflowers, Chinese lantern flowers, yellowing leaves.

I also started a project of making miniature kanzashi ornaments for every month of the year. It didn’t turn out amazingly well because I don’t have that much kanzashi experience, but I’m quite pleased regardless. I finished it in early October.

October

October was an important month for two reasons.

1- I turned 18. 2- I started my first romantic relationship.

But let’s start with my 18th birthday. Well, technically- I’m an adult. But in practice- nothing will change overnight. It’s a gradual process that partly took place when I was still 17, and is still ongoing. On the actual day my mum made me a cake from pancakes, when I jokingly suggested it earlier. The weekend after I had a small gathering with friends at the cat cafe, where we had cake and then went to the Japanese garden once again to admire the red Japanese maple and autumn flowers. It was very warm that day and I remember it fondly.

The other important event- I started a relationship with a person I met halfway through the third year of middle school. I had feelings for him for a very long time, and I really didn’t expect him to feel the same towards me. I’m truly glad that we are together- I can feel loved and give love to someone, I really hope this lasts.

It was getting cooler, the days shorter, and autumn’s show of vivid hues was starting. Leaving the house became much more pleasant, even on a miserable morning.

A lovely surprise that coincided with my birthday- I entered a giveaway for a lovely obi, not really expecting to win- but I did! I will write a post about this exceptional piece one day. It’s the first time I won anything. I tried it out when I performed another tea ceremony.

November

The 1st of November is All Saints’ Day, so I visited a military cemetery and lit some candles on the graves that didn’t have any. This day is when I can reflect on the fleeting nature of life and pay my respects to those who have left us- people who had values they stayed true to and sacrificed their lives for. People who dreamt of a free Poland. A free Poland that now exists and I can peacefully live in. Although I shed some tears, all the flickering flames on a dark cemetery have a unique atmosphere. Very peaceful.

I saw my boyfriend a lot this month. Most of our meetings are rather modest, but I remember them very fondly regardless. We went to the museum once, too.

This is the month I took advantage of the lovely colours of autumn before they disappeared, taking many photos.

The 11th is Poland’s Independence Day, a very important holiday for me. I love the patriotic atmosphere, public manifestations of national pride and remembrance of the heroes who helped build Poland as we know it today.

Although in the previous months I mostly omitted the bad things that happened for personal reasons, here I won’t. I stopped taking antidepressants in early October, and the depression returned very quickly, most notably this month, although I only realised that I need to get back on antidepressants at the start of December.

December

I’ll start by continuing the depression story. It got bad, I had many breakdowns that my boyfriend supported me in, he helped me realise that the situation was bad. I made an appointment with a new psychiatrist, who I visited on the 23rd, my boyfriend accompanied me and I’m very grateful to him, because I needed the strength. I got a new antidepressant, I know it’ll be a while before I get better, but I have support.

December has a particular atmosphere that I usually love, but depression made it hard for me this year. Nonetheless, I still tried. There’s something I love about leaving the house when it’s still dark, witnessing the sunrise. Lessons feel different when the sky is still dark. After a year and a half at this school, I finally decided to part with a tiny sum to buy a hot chocolate. Gave me a bit of energy, which is especially useful on Tuesdays.

December- pretty lights, cute Christmas motifs, the smell of cinnamon. I wish I could feel it more this year, I usually love this month.

The last day of school was very pleasant, I overslept so I arrived in time for the third lesson anyway, but we mostly sang Christmas songs, then after the 6th lesson a small class Christmas party. I won’t lie, I came mainly for the food, but I was pleasantly surprised because I also had some nice conversations.

I visited my city’s Christmas market with my mum, it was very nice but crowded. I bought a pretty rose quartz bracelet and chose a Christmas ornament- a tradition in my family that only I participate in.

Then Christmas- well. It passed very quickly. I was (and still am) early on in antidepressant treatment, so I wasn’t feeling too well. I didn’t have much of an appetite and my mood wasn’t amazing, either. But it wasn’t bad. Generally I took the Christmas break to relax and get a break from most things, as well as catch up on sleep. I did some shopping with the money I got for Christmas, because retail therapy is particularly useful at a time like this.

Well, that will be all for the 2019 review in terms of the most notable events. Now I just have to see how well I did in terms of resolutions, set new ones for 2020 and I can welcome the new year in peace.

How did I keep my resolutions?

  1. Learn another 10 dances. This year I kept practising twice weekly, though often it took quite a lot of my energy due to the nature of my illness, especially when depression was hitting harder. But I was still very diligent and rarely missed practise time, so endurance and perseverance are my strong points. I managed to learn 9 dances, so not quite there, but very close. So I’m proud nonetheless. And I got the chance to review some dances that I already know.
  2. Keep learning Japanese and take the JLPT N3. This one I did quite well in. Although I didn’t actually take the N3 because it costs money, I did manage to finish all the N3 material that I have started to review and consolidate and will keep doing so in early 2020.
  3. Keep drawing. I’m quite proud of my progress in this field also. I did many exercises to work on anatomy. Although there were pieces that I’m definitely not pleased with, I created many works that I can confidently say I’m proud of. I created a range of drawings, from people to flowers, fruit, other objects and some animals.
  4. Read at least one book per month. I checked on my library account, and excluding textbooks, I read 25 books this year. Included here is classic literature that I finally started to read, and I truly love it. Technically they’re set books for school, but we’re like a year behind on material so I decided to read them in advance and I don’t regret it, because 1- I don’t have to worry as much about the fact we’re so behind and 2- motivation is coming mostly from me and there isn’t any outside pressure, so my love for classic literature could emerge on its own. Apart from that there are also books on cultural topics, mostly Japanese, but there is also one about historical fashion, and one about the Warsaw Uprising I got from my boyfriend, who knows me too well.
  5. Work on my character. Nope. This one I failed, although my awareness of those flaws has increased, I still don’t feel a real need to change, I don’t see it as something that is possible because the thought makes me feel uncomfortable and unnatural. I’m still hot-tempered, easily irritated, frustrated, impatient, narcissistic, hostile, negative, unenthusiastic, hateful (not something you’d expect from someone who loves wearing pink dresses adorned with lace and ribbons). I lost the respect of quite a few people. On top of that I had more, stronger mental breakdowns, and I still let go of negative emotions by taking it out on myself. Though I think there were still moments when I showed some kindness and empathy. And I can finally give love to someone and experience it myself.
  6. Keep posting here, with the blog concept in mind. Well, I made many nice posts this year. But I still think that sometimes I forced myself to. Mostly when depression returned. Regardless, many posts this year came from the heart and real passion. But it could be better. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  7. Take care of your health. This one is a fail also. Many times I just didn’t care about my meds, didn’t feel much motivation to take them, let go of negative emotions by taking small overdoses of painkillers (I have autoimmune hepatitis, for those who don’t know or remember, so probably everyone). As soon as I turned 18 I also drank beer a few times, although- well, I have a liver illness, even if it’s just beer- I shouldn’t really. Again- a way of letting go of certain emotions. Well, at least I waited until I turned 18.
  8. Keep developing my passions. Well, I did quite well here, despite the obstacles of fatigue and depression. I did a few tea ceremonies, dressed in kimono and expanded my collection, expanded my knowledge of topics that interest me quite significantly, generally kept developing all that’s important to me- art, culture, history, Japanese culture and so forth. There were certain periods when I realised that I’ve been pushing too hard and started to lose passion and purpose, I was burnt out. I will write more on this in my 2020 resolutions.
  9. Do your best in schoolwork- well, kept working as usual. Of course my note-taking techniques improved, I focus only on the important subjects, my interest in higher-level subjects grew. My main goal isn’t good grades but knowledge that I personally feel is important and am motivated to gain from the inside. But I did have several breakdowns, because there’s a lot of knowledge. No matter how interested I am, there really is a lot, and especially with my health- it’s difficult. Sometimes it was too much for me. In October I started getting rather mediocre history grades, although personally I felt that I understood the topics well and their knowledge was important to me. But depression affected this area of life too and although I still was working hard, I lost motivation and a feeling of purpose. Although I told myself I don’t care about grades as long as I’m passing, it still was a bit painful when I started getting such grades from an important subject that I put a lot of effort and interest in.
  10. Try new DIY projects, maybe develop sewing. Well, I did make kanzashi for each month. In August I also created a small jewellery set. But apart from tiny mending projects, I didn’t do much in this area.

Before I make 2020 resolutions, I’d also like to quickly cover some notable changes and achievements that I haven’t spoken about yet, or only briefly.

First- I decided that the best way to develop my passion for the history art would be to independently study it as an extra subject and take the exam after high school. I started this in the summer and I’m doing quite well. Yes, it’s some hard work. But it’s interesting, and I’m trying not to pressure myself too much. I’m too far in to turn back anyway, and I haven’t got anything to lose.

Second- my political views changed quite a bit. Economically, I moved from quite far right to around the centre, still leaning right a bit. Socially, from the left (but not far-left) I slowly moved to the right, which mostly developed in the summer. Basically, I became a conservative. It’s what I feel comfortable in, it matches my values, but of course I also think on my own. I’m open to rational and peaceful discussion and I plan to explain my views in some posts this coming year, because it’s a complex and interesting topic that a paragraph can’t cover.

Now, after covering this eventful year and still feeling like I missed a few things, I can look towards the future and set some goals for the coming year.

2020 Resolutions

  1. Dance- I’ll put a little less pressure on myself and set a goal of 5 dances. If I can learn more than that, which I likely will, that’s good- but I can also focus on consolidating dances I already know. Of course I’ll keep up with practising twice weekly.
  2. Japanese. For the first three months or so of 2020 I’ll be properly reviewing all N3 material and quickly reminding myself of some N5 and N4 things I might have forgotten, and doing various exercises to use the language and further consolidate what I’ve learnt. After that I’ll begin studying N2 material, and I hope to be at least halfway through by the end of the year.
  3. Keep drawing frequently, of course never force yourself, and keep making progress.
  4. Keep studying history of art. By the end of this year I should finish all the material, so I can start reviewing and consolidating in January in preparation for the exam.
  5. Read. I won’t set a quota, but on top of the literature that I have to read for school I’d also like to read a few other books. Not too many, so I don’t feel rushed and pressured, but if I find something interesting, whether it’s fiction or relating to my interests, then I’ll read it.
  6. Get out of depression. Become a better person. Of course there are some things about me that I can’t change, but I’d still like to feel less guilt about myself. I hope that this year I can become happier and enjoy life more. Bring some good into the lives of others.
  7. Blog. Of course I want to keep posting here, without forcing myself. I want my posts to come from the heart, be interesting, I want to stay true to the concept of this blog- my corner of the internet where I put things that make me happy. Maybe I should post a bit more of my personal life.
  8. Health. I drink so much tea that I often forget about water, so this year I’d like to drink as much water as I’m supposed to. Apart from that limit things that are hard on my liver, and of course take my medicine every day. Although I will never feel perfect because of my chronic illness, I can still do something to feel a bit better.
  9. School. As for grades- well, I don’t really care as long as I pass. What matters is the knowledge and understanding, a personal motivation to study. I want to keep doing my best, since depression took its toll a little bit I hope I’ll be able to feel love towards my higher level subjects properly again. And my note-taking technique still has a bit of room for improvement.
  10. Passions. Of course I want to keep developing my interests by expanding my knowledge and practising them. It’s important that I do this out of pure passion and not because I force myself to, because when I plan too rigidly it loses authenticity and I forget the purpose. Depression definitely played a part here too, because apathy made me unable to get much pleasure from things I should enjoy. My passions must be something that I want to do and enjoy. This year I hope I can get more joy from them. I started two small projects that I will be continuing this year- one notebook for notes on the history and culture of Japan, that will likely take more than one notebook, and another for other things that are important to me, like small yet beautiful everyday moments. On top of that this blog is a great way to develop all my interests and things that give me joy. Maybe I could learn a new craft.

I think that everything has been said in this lengthy post. In those last few hours of 2019, I will mentally return to some moments not only from this year, but also from the entire decade, in which so much has changed. I will also think about my hopes for the coming year as I watch the fireworks at midnight. I know this year will come with some suffering. But I’ll focus on the joys and surprises it has in store.

I will spend this evening comfortably, relaxing in my room with some nice food. I also have to fold an origami crane for the next year, symbolically disposing of the one I made for 2019. I’ll put on a face mask, then make myself look nice so I don’t welcome the decade looking too bad. Nothing too special, but I don’t mind. I like a peaceful start of the year. Hopefully I catch the sunrise tomorrow morning…

❄️winter 2019/20 lookbook❄️

Bare branches, dull grey skies and freezing temperatures make winter seem like a depressing season. However, it’s also the time when everything gets covered in a soft white blanket, icicles sparkle like diamonds and festive lights illuminate the dark sky. Winter is the season of cosy evenings spent consuming comforting teas and hot chocolate, and of course soft sweaters, warm scarves and pretty coats, leaving many opportunities to create adorable outfits. In this rather modest post I’ll show you three outfits perfect for this cold time of year. Hopefully they inspire you 😊

Outfit 1: ❄️Snowy Sky❄️

This outfit is a harmonious combination of deep blue and pure white with hints of silver, colours that bring to mind typical winter landscapes- deep blue is obviously associated with the cold and the dark sky that lingers for so long throughout this season, white is of course the colour of snow, and silver brings images of glimmering ice crystals, frost and icicles, resembling precious diamonds that reflect the weak rays of sunlight in a sparkling rainbow. The main piece is this gorgeous blue skirt, one of the very few pieces in my wardrobe in this colour. The background gracefully fades from a lovely sapphire blue to a lighter icy shade. The whimsical print features delicate, intricate snowflakes of various sizes and shades that create the impression of gracefully floating through the sky on a chilly winter evening. There is also the occasional fairy silhouette, making this season seem otherworldly and magical. If we think about it, it truly is. You can almost hear muffled footsteps by looking at this skirt. I matched it with a lovely white blouse that was quite simple to begin with, but I added some details by hand- and so the collar and buttons have intricate and dainty lace trims, whereas the collar also has some elegant pearls sewn on, perhaps bringing to mind snowballs, being a reminder of carefree times. Of course the sleeve cuffs are also decorated with a lace trim, pearls and lovely white roses. As for outerwear, I picked my favourite winter coat that is a perfect match for this outfit- pure white with lovely, soft fur trims giving it a cosy winter vibe and gorgeous bow details. Overall it’s cute and elegant, from my wardrobe there is really no better match. The outfit is completed by thick white tights that harmoniously match the remaining elements and my trusty white tea-parties (the perfect combination of cute and elegant). Of course, to keep warm, a hat is a must (although the coat also has a gorgeous fur-trimmed hood with ears), which is why I added my versatile white one. It’s just a white knitted hat, practical and quite cute. I also couldn’t forget a scarf, and this baby blue one is perfect- the sequins and intertwined silver threads softly sparkle, like frost under sunlight. And of course I won’t let my hands go cold- that’s why I have those gorgeous soft and thick mittens. They’re perfect- I bought them at a local marketplace in my hometown. Real gems. As for jewellery- I went for dainty pearl earrings that match everything, but this outfit in particular, and a matching pearl bracelet. Pearls are elegant and perfect all year, but in the winter they remind me of snow. As for the necklace, I went for a gorgeous dainty silver chain with a lovely matching charm- sparkling clear crystals like a starry winter sky and a lovely blue one reminding me of sapphires, which can be an extension of the starry sky allusion. Of course the colour combination just screams winter, and matches the outfit perfectly. Finally, hair. I decided to use the detachable bow from my Diamond Honey Palace Cats JSK as a headbow. The soft blue hue and starry pattern are a perfect match. The overall image created by this outfit? A clear winter night, dainty snowflakes clumped together into fluffy balls are gracefully falling from the deep blue sky studded with sparkling silver stars, soothingly twinkling. Everything is softly illuminated by the faint, slightly warm light of a single lantern, the cold is merciless and seems to penetrate the bones, bitterly pinching any exposed skin.

Outfit 2: ❤️Sweet Candy Cane❤️

This red and white outfit is inspired by the characteristic sweet treats that have become an inevitable part of Christmas. The two colours contrast beautifully and create a wonderful festive atmosphere. The white of course makes me think of snow, whereas the red brings to mind images of vivid holly berries. The deep red top is simple and comfortable, with the ruffle at the bottom making it more interesting and cute. The softness and smoothness of the fabric also deserves a mention. The white skirt is versatile and matches this outfit perfectly, the interesting texture gives it an air of elegance. I decided to add a bit of contrast with warm black tights that are surprisingly harmonious with this outfit and black heels for a further touch of elegance. As for jewellery- red jewel earrings that sparkle like frost-covered holly berries, a necklace with a gorgeous red heart charm and a very subtle silver bracelet. I didn’t include the outerwear here, but I think that a black coat or my trusted white one would be perfect. I would also add the same hat and mittens as the previous outfit, with a white scarf.

Outfit 3: ❄️ Ice Queen ❄️

Although cold and hard, ice is extremely beautiful- it wonderfully sparkles under the weak winter sunlight and reflects the heavy silver clouds. The main piece of this outfit is a lovely and elegant white dress made of a soft and warm material, perfect for winter. Its design instantly makes me think of a snowy landscape, the detachable fur collar makes it even more wintery. I paired it with grey tights for a bit of contrast as well as my beloved elegant tea party shoes. As for jewellery- a gorgeous subtle snowflake necklace, fluffy pompom earrings bringing to mind the softness of fresh snow and a gorgeous bracelet that sparkles like sunlit icicles. I also added a lovely pearl hair clip.

As always, I hope you found this lookbook interesting and inspiring.

Maneki neko- Japanese lucky cats 🐈

Charming cat figurines with characteristic waving paws are recognisable all around the world. But what’s actually behind those famous beckoning cats?

Let’s start with the Japanese name- maneki neko. It is written as 招き猫. 猫 simply means “cat”, whereas 招 means “to welcome, beckon” and comes from their waving gesture, which in Japan means beckoning. However, it can also be interpreted as a warning of incoming danger, so maneki neko are often worshipped as the reincarnation of Kannon, the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy. Actually, there are a few legends about their origin from Japanese tradition. Most of them are from the Edo and early Meiji periods (Edo period 1603-1868, Meiji period 1868-1912).

The first legend is about a geisha (which is no surprise- the geisha tradition and entertainment districts were at their height in the Edo period). As she was getting ready, her beloved cat started to angrily attack her, scratching and screaming. Of course the geisha asked the owner of the house to help, who cut off the animal’s head with a sword. Miraculously, the cat’s flying head saved its owner- it bit a poisonous snake that was about to attack the geisha. It’s not surprising that the geisha was utterly devastated after the loss of her beloved animal, so the house owner gave her a gift- a ceramic figure of the cat. The legend is a beautiful example of sacrifice and the pain of losing one thing in order to save another, which is an extremely popular literary motif since ancient times.

The next two legends are linked to the Tokyo temple Gōtokuji, located in the Setagaya district. It goes without saying that for this reason the temple is closely linked to maneki neko- you can find cat motifs on the pagoda opposite the entrance to the main prayer hall, as well as on the interior walls.

In the temple you can buy a maneki neko figure as a lucky charm. People usually purchase them and make a wish. When it comes true, they return to Gōtokuji and leave the figurine there, creating a very impressive cluster of them that makes the temple unique. There is also the custom of burying the ashes of pets in the vicinity of the temple.

The first legend related to Gōtokuji is about a group of samurai on horses who arrived at the temple and spotted a small cat cleaning itself at the entrance. The movement of its paw around the ears resembled waving, which in Japan is a beckoning gesture. Therefore the samurai peacefully entered the temple, without harming the inhabitants of the area. Here the cat takes on the role of a peacekeeper and lifesaver- this time of many people.

The next legend is about a man called Ii Naosuke, who went to the temple to meet an imperial falconer. On his way home, it started raining, so he hid under a tree, from where he noticed an old, collapsing temple. At the entrance was a cat who appeared to be waving, so Naosuke headed towards it- as he did, the tree was struck by lightning. Once again a small cat saved a human life. Filled with gratitude, the man gave the temple a considerable sum of money, saving it from closure.

The final legend is about an old cat lady who unfortunately fell into poverty, which forced her to sell her beloved cats. Because she still didn’t have enough money, she started making realistic figurines of them. They became very popular and fashionable, and the old lady could pay her debts- a lovely example of a seemingly hopeless situation turning out well.,

The meaning of cats in Japanese culture is quite ambiguous. On one hand, they are very vigilant animals and get rid of mice, but on the other- they are perceived to have the ability of transform into demons. Cats in Japanese tradition is a very interesting topic that I will certainly expand in another post.

What about the appearance of the figurines? Although it seems like a simple figure of a cat, there is lots of symbolism behind it. Maneki neko are based on the Japanese bobtail cat breed- their characteristic feature is a very, very short tail as well as strongly vertical ears. They are believed to bring good luck, but more on that in a future post.

Maneki neko have red collars (red is a lucky colour) with a bell or golden coin attached, on which is written what the cat is supposed to attract- for example money or luck.

Originally the figurines were ceramic, of course today they are usually made of synthetic materials. There are many different sizes and colours, making them rather varied despite their similar shapes.

Let’s stop at the colours for a moment.

tricoloured: tricoloured Japanese bobtail cats are rather rare and therefore are believed to bring plenty of luck and money.

white: like in western culture, white symbolises innocence and purity, brings luck

black: scares away demons and wards off evil

gold: money, prosperity, fortune

pink: attracts love

green: success in studies, exams

red: wards off illness

blue: attracts success, home safety

The waving paw is important too.

If the right paw is waving, it attracts luck and prosperity.

The left paw brings clients and guests, making it good for businesses.

The higher the paw, the better.

Very rarely you can find cats with both paws raised, but the Japanese consider them exaggerated and so they aren’t popular.

So, what is the cultural meaning of maneki neko?

They are popular not only in Japan, but also China and Thailand. They are commonly placed on entrances to shops and restaurants, attracting clients. Placed on marketplaces and exhibitions, they are believed to bring money. In private homes, they are supposed to bring luck and ward off misfortune.

In the city of Seto in Aichi prefecture is a museum of ceramics with one of the largest maneki neko collections in Japan. There are over 1000 examples from different regions and periods.

The instantly recognisable Hello Kitty is also based off maneki neko, although it’s quite hard to see at first.

The most famous cities producing maneki neko are Seto (Aichi pref.) and Takasaki (Gunma pref.), whereas the largest amounts are made in Tokoname, Aichi pref. Tokoname is particularly interesting because it has a massive (almost 4m tall) maneki neko figurine called Tokonyan. It’s just the head placed on top of a wall, creating the effect that it’s looking over the city from behind it. In front of it are two brown cat sculptures, approximately the size of real ones. On top of that the city has a road nicknamed the Tokoname Maneki-Neko Street, which is where Tokonyan is, but also 39 ceramic cats on its concrete wall. They all have very different forms, many of them differ a lot from regular maneki neko, and each one is made by a different artist. Each cat also has a different meaning (i.e. what it’s supposed to bring or deter). On top of that the official mascot of the city is a maneki-neko called Tokotan. What can I say, Tokoname is the perfect place for cat lovers.

The importance of maneki neko in Japan doesn’t end here. There is an Association for Maneki Neko Japan, based in Gunma pref. For a reasonable fee members receive four club magazines. The association also designated the 29th of September as the maneki neko day, because the date can be read as “fortune coming your way”.

Around the maneki neko day, several festivals are held around the country, for example in Ise (Mie pref.) and Shimabara (Nagasaki pref.). You can admire displays of those adorable art forms, buy your own (and related goods), and even try your hand at creating a unique lucky cat.

Since maneki neko are an art form, it’s no surprise that there is a museum dedicated to them. It is located in Okayama City (prefecture of the same same). There are 700 permanent exhibits featuring maneki neko made from a variety of materials. There are also seasonal themed exhibits and the opportunity to create your own figurines.

Maneki neko truly are an interesting and lovely tradition, one of the things that drew me to Japanese culture. Although I don’t truly believe in their abilities to bring or deter certain things due to my religion, the encouraging waving paw of the cat figurine on my desk never fails to lift my spirits.

Bubble face mask review

Hello! ☺️

I love a good face mask. Apart from obvious practical benefits, there are so many different types that it’s impossible to get bored of them, and they just make you feel much better no matter what. I’ve tried sheet masks, peel-off masks, glitter masks, ones that could pass for a face cream, but I haven’t tried bubble ones as much as I wanted. Well, I finally had the opportunity to when I was gifted some by a friend.

Nice, two applications. Very convenient, since I like to have a nice supply of masks at all times. The one in question has two main ingredients- gold and activated charcoal. The primary effects are antioxidant and detoxifying. On the back there’s a little more information, alas…

How it works- the magic ingredient of the mask is activated oxygen that starts foaming upon contact with the skin. I’m no scientist, but that sounds rather interesting.

The effects- the mask is supposed to cleanse, refresh, oxygenate the skin (don’t confuse with oxidising) and stimulate microcirculation. This gives radiant skin free of wrinkles, discolouration and visible pores.

The ingredients-

We’ve all heard of activated charcoal, it’s safe to say that it is as big as coconut oil. Because of its absorbing properties, it cleans the skin and makes pores less visible.

Another active ingredient that wasn’t mentioned before is the Barbados cherry, or acerola. It looks like a tiny red pepper. It is extremely rich in vitamin C, which has many benefits- most notably it makes the skin more radiant and reduces discolouration.

The mask also contains Vitamin E, which has anti-ageing and hydrating properties.

There is also some 24K gold, which makes the skin look fresh and radiant.

So, let’s see how the mask does when put to use.

As soon as I applied it (it’s a black gel with tiny shimmering gold particles, reminding me of a clear night sky, that pleasantly smells of watermelon), it instantly started foaming, which is the unique feature of this mask. It’s quite fun and pleasant, and also feels like the mask is doing something.

Once the foaming stopped, the instruction was to massage the mask into the skin. Now it looks like an ordinary mask, and it’s clear that there is activated charcoal in it. I left it like that for a few minutes before washing it off with warm water and seeing the effects. My skin definitely felt very soft and refreshed, and looked healthier also…

Overall, the mask worked very well. Apart from many invisible benefits, my skin felt wonderful and looked better also. Another plus is that it’s very affordable, fun to use and has interesting active ingredients. Generally I can’t find any flaws, so I’d recommend this kind of mask to anyone.

Hopefully you found this post interesting! What are your favourite face mask types and ingredients?

Have a lovely day!

🍁🍂 autumn eye make-up 🍁🍂

Hello 🍁

Leaving the house in the autumn is pure pleasure. The weather is not too hot and not too cold (though it can fluctuate quite a bit), and the gold and red leaves fascinate me every time. I think how those vivid trees were just recently a lush green and will soon merely be bare branches.

This season is perfect for makeup colours like beige, various shades of brown, gold and red. With that in mind, I have created one of many possible eye make-up looks for autumn.

Products used:

  • Brown eyeliner pencil
  • Dark brown eyeshadow
  • Gold eyeshadow
  • Deep red eyeshadow
  • Orange eyeshadow
  • Cream or very light beige eyeshadow

Step One:

Apply the cream or light beige eyeshadow all over your eyelid as a base.

Step two:

Apply the dark brown on the outer 1/3 of your eyelid.

Step three:

Apply red eyeshadow on the dark brown, but leave it showing on the edges.

Step Four:

Get a shimmery gold and apply it on the middle part of your eyelid.

Step five:

Apply the orange shade on the inner 1/3 of your eyelid.

Step Six:

Gently blend everything nicely.

Step Seven:

Apply brown eyeliner, following the shape of your eye and guide the wing downwards. Line the outer 1/3 of your lower eyelid and join the line with the wing.

And that’s it! This make-up look is perfect for all sorts of autumn outfits, it’s both subtle and bold, and suits the autumn landscape perfectly. Pair it with a brown, beige or red lipstick.

Did you like this look? Would you like to try it yourself?

Have a lovely day!

~roseteamacaron~