15 February 2018

Skinning my PS4

Aesthetics on a budget, basically. 2 years ago I got my PS4 in preparation for The Last Guardian's release. Amazon had a really good lightning deal during Black Friday ($250USD for Uncharted 4, Skyrim, and Fallout 4!), so I picked one up. Then two months later, Sony released a Glacier White variant for EU and JP,  and a month after that released for the US. Dang! "If I'd waited just a couple months" ran through my head, but a deal is a deal and I'm still happy with my purchase. Instead of going through the hassle of buying a new PS4 simply because I wanted the white one (I thought about it for a long time, and in the end concluded that I'm too lazy), my friend suggested I buy a solid white decal.

So I did, and for $20.00 it's pretty good. I got the Solid State White in high gloss from DecalGirl, and it looks very clean. The decal was insanely easy to put on, especially after a quick view of their helpful video.

My PS4 is placed on my desk in a spot where I can see the corners (where the strips break), but from all other angles it looks great.
At first I wasn't too fond of the black peaking out, but it matches my NZXT case really well, especially with the Younik stand! Happy accidents, or relentless optimism? 
If there's one thing I could change, though, it would be to fill in the matte black portions of the logo. The decal comes with a logo cover, so I might play around with covering it up in certain areas. We'll see!

14 February 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! Today I decided to dress up and try on a wig that I bought for Yamato Rinko from Ore Monogatarii!! -- one of my absolute favorite shoujo series. I've been hesitant to do a makeup test with this wig because of how unnatural the fibers look in artificial/day light. 

Oh well! At least it photographs nicely, snow filters and all. :) I'm hoping to get a different wig that reflects how these photos make me feel. 
Next time I'll try on some bottom lashes. She's super kira-kira so I really have to step up the shoujo look on my makeup. LOL

29 September 2017

Prayers in the Rain

Tucked away in Granite Falls, the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America is the first Shinto shrine built on American soil after World War II. 

Tsubaki America Shrine was established in 1986 in Stockton, CA by Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto the 96th High Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Mie, Japan. Tsubaki America was the 1st Shrine to be built on North American soil. A series of Priests from Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Japan served at Tsubaki America, introducing the Jinja Shinto to the US. 

In 1992 Kannagara Jinja was built by Rev. Lawrence Koichi Barrish to enshrine Tsubaki O-Kami. In 2001 17 acres of land adjacent to Kannagara Jinja was donated to Tsubaki America by the Matsuri Foundation and the decision was made to combine Tsubaki America and Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja at the sacred site of Kannagara Jinja.
We parked nearby and made our way down the quiet, secluded path. Marina gave me a tour as we listened to the rain fall on the rooftops, the crunch of gravel echoing under our feet as we walked. It was near closing hour, so the place was empty outside.
You can take various lessons here, such as aikido.

Before going further, Marina taught me about the temizuya (above) and misogi, a Shinto practice of purifying the mind, body, and soul.

From their website
Archetypically, Misogi is the practice of purifying oneself in free flowing water – river, waterfall or sea. The object of Misogi is to first purify mentally, physically and spiritually and to become responsive to and united with Great Nature. Owing to the finite nature of our human bodies we are susceptible to absorbing impurity. After continued contact with impurity our senses and connection to the life giving forces become dulled. To be more fully alive and in harmony with life,vitality from earth and inspiration from heaven and to come into harmony with our mission we can utilize the sacred technology of Misogi Shuho
It was really cool learning the steps from her. :)
Omikuji (fortune-telling paper slips) were tied around this tree's branches.
The rain started picking up more around this time.
Before heading back, we made our personal prayers.
On our way home we stopped by for something warm at the Living Room coffee house, a really neat and cozy community-based coffee place. It seemed like a good place to study!

They had blueberry bread pudding (yum!).
We stayed for a bit talking about cosplay before ending our day. 

Rivers and Meadows

On our way over to Tsubaki Shrine, we passed by a park entrance and decided to turn around and check it out!

It was my first time actually seeing the backroads of Arlington, so I was really amazed how peaceful and secluded everything felt. 
 The rain was still coming down, so we decided to keep adventuring despite being a little soaked. :)
The leaves here have already begun to turn red, but there's still plenty of green -- it created a really interesting atmosphere.
There were a lot of turns and paths, so we picked random ones along the way and prayed we wouldn't get too lost LOL
Eventually our path guided us to the Stillaguamish River!
I wonder how far we could've followed it, had we kept walking?
We ended up walking in a U-shape, so we started heading back to (hopefully) the beginning.
Our path opened up to the fields we drove through minutes ago!
Would definitely love to come here during sunrise or sunset. :)

The last trudge through the field got our socks wet, so we decided to keep driving to the shrine haha. And then we passed by a bridge and decided to stop again!
What I first thought was an ordinary suspension bridge turned out to be a small park. Jordan Bridge was first constructed across the Stillaguamish River in the early 1900's, then rebuilt in the 70's in the "swinging bridge" style, before being rebuilt again as a semi-solid structure. I can tell you right now they must've put an emphasis on "semi" because I was shaking while walking over lol.
Horses seem to be a big thing here -- we saw a lot of signs that were "no horse" zones. No horsing around in Arlington, huh?

There was a steep staircase that led down to the river, so we followed it! You can see how the water was a deep emerald here!
The bridge from below
We walked a little further past the bridge but saw that it was a residential area, so we decided to head back.

24 September 2017

My Hero Academia: Deku and Uraraka progress!

My love and appreciation for My Hero Academia was almost instantaneous. I started with the anime, and 1 episode in I was already sobbing hard. And then with episode 2 I cried more. And episode 3 even more. Then I picked up the manga and caught up in... maybe a day or two. Still lots of crying. I end up getting teary-eyed almost every time -- there's just a lot to love about the story and the characters. 

Fast forward to now and I'm finally starting to put together the pieces for some cosplays! I couldn't decide whether I wanted to cosplay Deku or Uraraka (I love Uraraka to bits, but I see more of myself in Deku - meek, mumbles a lot, really nerdy and always flustered... anyways..) so I went with both!
I ordered two different uniforms off taobao to test out, and only ordered a skirt with one since the likelihood of me fitting into premade pants was 0.
These days I buy two of the same uniform from different shops, because of color/quality differences like above ^ I prefer the colors on the left more, but the cut of the right is more masculine.. sigh! I would link both stores I got these from, but the left has disappeared... LOL 
I bought Deku's shoes separately, and the quality isn't tooo great but they look awesome (to me). I just gotta buy some black shoelaces.
Uraraka's costume is super cute and has a feminine fit, but I wish I'd gotten a size smaller in that case. It's just a little too big for a girl's uniform. Her wig is soooo soft though! I'm excited to style it, but I'm not sure if I want to cut the bangs to be an accurate length - not too fond of exposing both of my eyebrows....

As far as the hero outfits go, I'm working on Deku's 2nd(3rd?) hero outfit!

 The color has been hard to match because it's in between blue-green with a bit more towards green in the anime, but I've settled on the top color below. I think it matches the manga colors more, which I'm fine with -- complexion-wise the blue might be more flattering anyways. I hope it turns out well! It'll be my first time making a (albeit loose) bodysuit.
I think it would also be fun to put together a pro hero cosplay group... but I'm not sure who I'd be yet!

22 September 2017

Fabric and swatch organization + small tour of my room

This year I told myself I would be better at organizing my living and creative space (which happen to both be my bedroom). Something I really enjoy is home improvement (I'm one of those types that actually enjoy watching HGTV while waiting at the Verizon store) and lately downsizing the clutter I end up accumulating over time. Living in an apartment again has taught me a lot about maximizing vertical space and minimizing stuff I don't need. 

I already knew I wanted a customizable bookshelf for my CDs, video games, and manga, so while browsing for inspiration I came across these skinnier bookshelves from IKEA. They're more popularly used for CDs but I really like how you can customize the shelving heights to fit your needs!!
Here's a shot of my desk from a couple months ago. This was before I built my PC and adjusted my mirror.
This is what my desk looks like now! I finally bought a new monitor (the one I've been using on the right is from 2009), and it has an HDMI port! I've been using it for my PS4 which has been great. I moved my sewing machine back to my drafting table and the extra arm room has been such a blessing. I think my next short term goal is saving up for a white keyboard (posssssibly the WhiteFox?), since my old monitor is still plenty usable. 
 Here's a shot of my bed, on a good day! I've had the same bed for a very long time now, actually. I want to say over 10 years... it's still sturdy!! It's also almost never this clean, but I try (although not hard enough.. I should've ironed my sheets.)
My drafting table! I work on patterning, drawing, and crafting here. It faces the window so I enjoy working here instead of my computer desk. 
ー( ´ ▽ ` )ノ I somewhat recently bought a print from KIDO that I still need to frame, and there's some books I purchased that I'm excited to read.

The next task I've been trying to tackle was my collection of fabric swatches. I had a drawer piled with swatches of all various shapes and sizes, but it wasn't an effective or efficient means of referring back to them. I went to Michaels and got these small books with a kraft paper interior. Could I have made these myself with a 2/D-ring bind for easier modification? Maybe later. Right now I wanted to start getting things cleaned, without overwhelming myself.
I really liked the pastel pink polka dots and the cream color, so I got both.

I needed the swatches to be big enough, but I didn't want a binder-sized book that would be cumbersome to put on my desk. My limited floorspace is also limited deskspace - and maximizing that space is something I need to constantly keep in mind. With pinking shears in hand, I set to work filling up the books!
 From page to page, there's a hodge podge of size differences and swatch type (square or strip) since I'm at the mercy of retailers, but I think that's what makes this method of swatchkeeping somewhat charming. It's like a scrap reference book.
Here, for example -- these knits are longer than most of my woven swatches, but it helps me see how it would stretch and fold, etc.
I also debated between using tape (being able to pull out the swatch at whim), or staples (kinda ugly). The idea of having to reapply tape or having the swatches potentially fall out wasn't worth the trouble, so I opted for staples. It doesn't look too bad in the end, if everything's staggered like above.

Finally, probably the largest undertaking yet, was facing my fabric bins...
It was impossible to know what fabric I already had that I could use for an upcoming costume, let alone reach any of it with a reasonable amount of effort. I never liked this method of fabric storing, but it's what I could do and what I had on hand. Until another trip to IKEA and 1 Billy bookcase later. :) 
 I can't remember what prompted the sudden need to reorganize my bins, but it was a "that's it!" moment that kicked me into cleaning mode. Messy messy!
I like organizing by color, and I had a lot of darks, so I rolled up all my dark fabric first and started stacking. I debated between folding vs rolling, but rolling was just so much easier to take out and put back. AND less ironing! I also had a bunch of ribbon that I never used, so I decided to make use of them.
Coming together! Wow, I didn't realize how much fabric I had...
and a recent shot of it! My books were also overflowing from the bookshelf next to it, so I added them up to the top shelf. :) Sometimes it's tricky if the fabric is really wide, but taking the time to measure out the length isn't too bad. An extra bonus was that I didn't have to shimmy sideways to go through my hallway anymore! Woohoo! Making this change felt really great, and I've already begun to use up the fabric I have already owned for.. probably years. :p