Small & Perfect Things

I am writing this blog post while listening to Devo (the 1982 'Oh, No! It's Devo!' album) so obviously I am in the greatest state of mind possible and I have ascended into that magical state of being that can only truly be induced by Devo. I thought I'd make a nice post about some of the things I've been enjoying recently, because it's nice to take a moment to appreciate things, and lately I've been thinking about that a bit. I guess it's a 'favourites' post.

With the end of the year looming it's a natural time of ~reflection~ and I feel a strange kind of peaceful happiness within me. I think this year has been really good, and as always I want to keep improving in various facets of my life (making sure my room looks tidy, doing projects & experimenting, learning new things, and trying to make my hair look like less of a disaster), BUT it's also been really good in terms of being happy with things and accepting my flaws, limitations, and experiences for what they are. Like in scaling back my blogging here, for example. It's allowed me to take a more casual and maybe more genuine, exciting, and variable approach to this blog. In some ways I feel I can express myself more fully this way. It's nice.

Let's talk about beer for a moment. I was never really much of a beer person until relatively recently, but I have found myself enjoying different ales more and more. This beer with a cool owl on the bottle is 'Hitachino Nest' and I really like its flavour. It's a delicious white ale that tastes gentle but flavoursome. I'm not great at describing beer but IT'S GOOD. Found in Marks & Spencer in a very interesting beer aisle.

One thing I always enjoy is paint water. The way it changes colour as you paint your thing like a big and wet mood ring. I love it. Here's a nice shade of green from a recent painting session. I always like to enjoy the process of painting or making any kind of art as much as possible, and paint water is definitely a part of that. I like to watch the colour swirling away when I pour it out (this is enhanced by some of my paints which have a little bit of glitter in them). It's a nice visceral pleasure.

I've also been enjoying these miniature perfume bottles. I check Magic Freebies (UK) for free perfume samples every so often to get these. So far I have collected these two (Gabrielle by Chanel, Modern Muse by Estée Lauder), and Concrete by Comme des Garçons (a unisex scent). I really enjoy trying out different perfumes and it's nice to have these tiny little sample spray bottles. They're very cute and they make nice clinking sounds (yes, clinking sounds are the kind of things that truly make me contented in life).

So those are some nice things I've been enjoying lately. Of course there are lots of other small things to enjoy, so I hope that you notice those things and take some time to enjoy and appreciate them too. If you'll excuse me, I have to go and spray three perfumes on myself all at once now.

Note: if you do use Magic Freebies, please be careful as a lot of the offers aren't strictly just free items. I personally like to stick to the perfume samples as they generally have no catch or sign ups needed - you just enter your address and receive a sample in most cases.

Collages & Colours

Sometimes there's no better feeling than tearing up magazine pages, ripping their glossy, shiny print into fuzzy white pulp - or letting scissor blades gently slice around a shape. Snip snip. I had the overwhelming urge to make some collages recently, and I happened to find a Glamour magazine on the train. The timing seemed right.

I love the strange little intimacies you can find in fashion editorials and adverts - soft gestures, hanging pieces of hair, a model's gaze into the distance, sunlight painting golden streaks across hands and faces. And materials too - shiny gems, frayed edges, things tucked into other things. It's endless tactility.

Collaging feels a bit like cooking. Things bubble to the surface. Textures shift and intertwine. Everything is pulled apart and messy, colours bleeding into each other and lines crashing together.

But paint's not quite as tasty as a good soup.

bonus bunny:

Egg Stickers & The Haunted Pen: Kawaii Box Review & Giveaway | November 2017・°☆

✶✵ This post contains items gifted to me for review purposes. ✵✶

Blippo have very kindly sent me another fun Kawaii Box to check out, and once again we're partnering to offer you a chance to win a Kawaii Box of your own (scroll down to find the giveaway). So, what's in the November '17 edition? Here's a list of the delights within:

  1. Techi Techi Gomarachi Plush
  2. Kanahei Soft String Bag
  3. Gudetama Sticker Set
  4. Kasugai Chibi Vege Ramune Candies
  5. Rain Boot Ink Pen
  6. Let's Go Mini Notebook
  7. Harajuku Food Hair Clips
  8. Twinkle Jewel Seal Deco Diamonds

We have lots of cute things in here. I love the Gomarachi/Mamegoma plush (first picture above) - this pink seal is Raburachi and she is obviously very stylish (I'm going to steal her look and start wearing a red bow too). We also got a nice mix of stationery, sweets, and accessories, with my favourite item being this little notebook pictured above. It's a really nice small size, and I love the Super Mario Bros. theme. The best thing about it, however, has to be the extremely small text at the bottom which says, "accompany growth". My motto from now on will be "let's go - accompany growth!" Honestly, is there anything more inspiring?

I am super happy to get a set of Gudetama stickers, as well as these adorable heart jewels, so I can finally express my deepest and most enduring love for eggs.

I also thought the Kanahei string bag was a really nice inclusion. It feels really nice and soft and will come in really handy for something, I'm sure. The pen with a boot is quite a fascinating artefact. The combination of the lid being a boot with a bear face, and the text on the pen itself ("can you keep a secret?") is a little ominous and I feel as if there is a strange energy to it. It might be cursed, is what I'm saying.

The last item I'm going to talk about is this little set of hair clips. They'll give me the ability to communicate my love for toast via my hair, which I've always wanted, so I'm very happy with them. The peanut butter one does say "buteer", but quite frankly that just makes it better. As anyone who knows me well can vouch for, I'm the queen of peanut buteer.

♡。゚.(*♡´◡` 人´◡` ♡*)゚♡ °・

Now you've seen all the fun stuff in this month's edition of the mysterious box of cuteness, it's time for the giveaway. Enter below for the chance to win a future Kawaii Box of your own! Entry is open worldwide and the competition closes Monday 27th November. Good luck!

The competition has now closed. Congratulations to the winner: Lauren!

Lilly Ashton Kawaii Box Giveaway

On Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary ♬ ♡ ★

Music has such a strange way of travelling right down into your bones. There's nothing like it. It gets inside you like a ghost and wiggles around in your heart and your tear ducts. Whether you're performing or watching, I think this sense of possession is always present when you see live music. It's a spirit that consumes you. Beautiful music is almost magnetic, pulling you into a plane of pure awe. That's what it was like seeing Distant Worlds at the Royal Albert Hall for a 30th Anniversary of Final Fantasy show on 4th November 2017.

Arnie Roth conducts the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the Maida Vale Singers, and that one guy in the audience who asks if they were going to play Wonderwall. I conduct a plastic cup of dark beer. They do a stretched arrangement of the opera from Final Fantasy VI and play game footage above the orchestra showing the in-game conductor manically waggling his entire self. It's a funny juxtaposition, but a lovely one too.

During intermission I see a lone Yuna clamber up the stairs. I fight the urge to yell "stay away from the summoner" in a comedy old crone voice. There are no Tiduses to say it to anyway. They show Final Fantasy VII remake footage during one of the tracks and the audience turns into 70% fist pumping glee. I close my eyes and think of marshmallow Barret as the cymbals crash.

I don't think I can do much justice to these performances, but there's a unique magic to the orchestra, the wry enthusiasm of Arnie Roth, seeing Nobuo Uematsu's perpetual grin in person, and of course being in such a beautiful venue as the Royal Albert Hall. I saw audience members clutching moogles and grinning hard at everything, roaring with excitement on introduction of Liberi Fatali (which, woah, sounds incredible with a choir). After all of it, I came away with all the stars in my eyes. Seeing an orchestra is like nothing else, but to hear everyone's love for these pieces of music, it makes me realise my total goal in life - that all I ever want is to inspire something in other people like that. I can't be an orchestra, I can't make a touching video game, I can't sing ominously in Latin (or can I...), but I can make someone smile, or feel excited, or encouraged in some way. In any small way I can, I can make some difference. And if I can inspire happy feelings in someone for even the tiniest fraction compared to Distant Worlds with my drawings or words or jokes, then I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to do.

Also Nobuo Uematsu is the best and he deserves to be licked by many dogs. ♬✧♡*+:•*

BONUS: Here are some moogles for good luck.

Outfit: Cool Zips

Okay, so it's autumn, it's that strange part of the year where all possible outfits are either too cold or too hot or somehow both at once. At this point, seriously, let's just make pyjamas acceptable outerwear. Let's just do it. I want to see all business folks wearing their fuzzy dressing gowns as coats. We deserve such extravagant comfort in our lives.

Anyway, this confusing time has lead me to try vaguely to find the part of my brain that remembers what a light jacket is. It is buried behind one million kpop gifs and a haphazard pile of Stardew Valley strategy (because getting people to like you in that game is a complex and particular system that has probably pushed the last bit of algebra right out of my brain). I think I'm remembering, but it's hard to say just yet.

I dug this old H&M mini jacket out of my wardrobe. I remember buying this thing and being so in love with it back in... 2008 or so. Yeah, it's really almost ten years old now. I guess that makes it a remnant of late 00s/early 10s style. I was watching this old SHINee performance from 2010 the other day (a solid favourite - Onew's hairstyle is beautiful and good) and it awakened in me a very strange nostalgia for the fashions back then. We were all so innocently casual. There's a very particular kind of scruffiness that I like about that time. It was all full of light biker style jackets and coloured trousers. And a certain style of graphic tees. I was obsessed with aquamarine/electric blue at the time.

Back to this particular mini jacket, though (and yes, oh yes, mini/cropped jackets were a big thing back then). I saw it in H&M and I needed to have it. I think I left it on the rack initially and then could not stop thinking about it until I went back and got it. It was the perfect jacket. Fitted and cropped enough to make me feel that weird kind of comfort and confidence that only comes from a tight piece of clothing (do you know what I'm talking about? It's like a snugness and also an awareness of the shapes of your body? idk), and it had COOL ZIPS. And cool lapels. It was just the best possible, coolest possible item of clothing for 17 year old me at the end of the 00s.

I rediscovered it after leaving it at a relative's house for a few years, and I think it fits really well into outfits now too. I feel like I need to ride a miniature motorbike off into the distance while wearing it. The other things I'm wearing are just a basic black tube skirt (also from H&M) and an earthy brown thermal top (source unknown).

Also, here's a gif of me trying to take pictures of myself:


The Dragon Fort

Sometimes when you're an adult you just need to take a moment and cover your bed frame in lofty sheets to create a mini fort (only possibly neater than the wild ones from childhood made of upturned chairs and flung pillows). It's necessary. The human soul demands it. Forts are the key to contentedness. Or at least, that's how I felt when I arranged a couple of sheets around my bed the other day and plonked a small dragon plush in there. Dragons belong in bedroom forts. Trust me.

It has been pleasant lately. Aside from the endless dilemma I have any time I go outside, in which I find myself constantly taking my coat off and putting it back on because apparently my body is incapable of regulating a reasonably comfortable temperature, it's been nice. My mum gave me the two beautiful Halloween Pusheen toys you see above, and I now consider them my dear children. I shall teach them my personal perfect scrambled eggs recipe (I like to add a pinch of sage) and help them write their CVs (key skills: flapping wings, being angry).

I feel quite motivated recently to head towards goals. Not big things, but just having lists and plans in general to work towards particular things. Painting more with references, journaling outdoors, making a nice dinner (pasta counts, okay). Things like that. I just feel oddly focused on some kind of ambling, happy progression. Even with games I've been playing with this purposefulness - it's still a game, so it's still for fun, but just with a bit of a focus on achievements and finishing game sections and things. When I do something fun within this framework, it still feels like an accomplishment, so I get to feel like I've ticked something off a list when I watch an episode of a TV show I've been meaning to catch up on, or when I've listened to a new album. It might seem odd to treat your recreational activities as if they're work, but I find it gives me an extra sense of enjoyment and creates a nice structure too.

I guess that's me though, I've realised more and more that being organised is a big part of me and the way I operate best. And making myself a cute fort area, or a neat desk area, or surrounding myself with cute things in general - things like that definitely improve my mood and make me feel inspired.

After all, what's more encouraging than a dragon and a sticker collection?

Soot Sprites & Other Cute Things: A Wishlist ♡。゚☆

Sometimes you just need cute things in your life, and you can't stop looking at them and dreaming about them, so this blog post is going to serve as a mini catalogue for some of the things I've found recently of the utmost cuteness. These are the things that have captured my heart recently. I hope they'll capture your heart too.

/// prices are provided in varying currencies because I couldn't find how to switch to GBP for that one website (I'm smart and tech-savvy!) ///

Kiiroitori Chick Mini Plush Case Keychain - Artbox - £5.99

First up is this adorable little keychain pouch in the shape of Kiiroitori (Rilakkuma's hard-working bird friend). A note for anyone struggling to pronounce 'Kiiroitori' - you can just call him 'yellow bird' as that's what his name means (kiiroi = yellow, tori = bird). He's so cute. I love him.

"A Dangerous Journey" Moomin Journal - Waterstones - £9.99

I found this beautiful Moomin journal on the Waterstones site. It's strange seeing them become more and more of a gift shop, but it works well and they stock a lot of really pretty and cute things. Of course, it's pretty hard to resist a Moomin. Although, I do wish there was more merchandise focused on Stinky. Stinky is the best.

Boooooks T-Shirt - - $23.99

This is a nice and simple t-shirt design that is perfect for book lovers around Halloween. I love spooky things and books (especially spooky books) so it's perfect for me. I'm reading Lovecraft at the moment, but I guess this t-shirt would have a different feel if it was Cthulhu reading the book and wearing glasses. I would love that, though.

Happy Soot Sprites T-Shirt - - $23.99

On the same site as the book-loving ghost I found this possibly even cuter design, featuring the soot sprites from Spirited Away (I've actually been meaning to re-watch this movie for a while). The playful magic of the soot sprites is captured perfectly here.

Korilakkuma Hearts Multi-Purpose Plastic Clips - Artbox - £5.99

Next are these lovely Korilakkima clips, each with a little heart of their own. Ideal if you want to add a little love to your stationery box. I would probably clip this onto everything.

And now, let's end this wishlist with some cute skirts (my ultimate weakness).

Hidden Pocket Detail Pleated Checkered Skirt - - £11.03

I have been looking for longer skirts like this with check or stripe patterns for a while. I just love them because they look quite casual but also have this classic feel to them. I love longer skirts like this, but the combination of my short stature and mild fear of getting a flowing skirt caught in an escalator has thus far assured that I am not fully diving into this world just yet. I love this one, though. I mean, it has pockets!

Laser Cut Scallop Hem Textured Skirt - - £7.09

I've been noticing skirts with scalloped and laser cut hem details like this for a while now, and I really like them. The details here are really nice, and I love the pink colour too.

Scallop Hem Pearl Beading Skirt - - £7.09

This is a more outlandish scalloped skirt style, with pearl style beads all over it. I really love this simple, yet elegant detail. Just glue pearls to my whole body. Do it.


*deep breath* Alright, that's it for now. I had to stop myself before we had ten pages of scalloped skirts, but I hope you enjoyed this list of recently coveted items. I love doing wishlists every so often, because it seems I am addicted to browsing and I have to have some kind of safe outlet for that, lest I explode.

Please let me know in the comments what you liked from this list, and maybe what stuff you've seen recently that had hearts in your eyes and frowns in your wallet.

What I learned Playing Final Fantasy VIII - AUF DEUTSCH!

I've played Final Fantasy VIII a million times. It's easily the Final Fantasy game I've finished the most, and I would ALMOST be confident of playing with my eyes shut (maybe...). I've also been studying German for a while, and have a basic, yet sorely lacking, understanding of the language. So I thought - hey! - what better idea than to play this game in German.

Warning: this is a long post. There are 23 images in this post (including the above gif which I made because I love chocbos with all my heart). Sorry for making you scroll a lot. Also I play the entire game so YES THERE ARE SPOILERS!

I find game translations/localisations really, really interesting, and I went into this German playthrough of the game with hopes of getting some fun out of some of the translation choices as well as hopefully a bit of education, so I'll be pinpointing some things that made me laugh along the way. I do notice that things that make me laugh, or otherwise elicit a noticeably emotional response, are often things I'm more likely to learn and remember.

So first of all, here's a screenshot of this guy introducing me to the CC-Freaks (Card Club). Freak is also a word in German. Good to know.

As always, I got to card playing pretty fast, and at first I was taking screenshots of sentences I fully understood, just thrilled to comprehend something.

"Was? Du willst mit mir spielen?" = "What? You want to play with me?"

Shortly into the game, we are introduced to Seifer's (Cifer in German) catchphrase for Zell (Xell in German). In English this is "chicken-wuss", but in German we get "Hasenfuß" (literally "hare's foot"). This comes up often enough that it is now fully embedded into my mind, so I'm ready to insult German people, I guess (I promise not to call anyone a Hasenfuß).

I also didn't realise how much the game script has Zell angrily demanding "WHAT DID YOU SAY" or "WHAT DID YOU CALL ME", but what I find interesting here is the punctuation of this phrase and its frustrated delivery represented by bullets between each word. I can't say what punctuation is particularly German in nature (and I don't know what punctuation variants are and aren't used in the other European scripts for FF8), but it's interesting to note the punctuation choices that differ from the English script.

Even Seifer's laugh here differs from the English. "Hehe......" in the German script is "Heheheh..." in the English script. A small difference, but it might tell us a little something about the language.

There is also quite liberal use of words like "Arsch" and "Schieße", which seems to suggest that these are not super serious bad words in German. I'm not super sure about it, but they come up quite a lot and it's an amusing time.

"Gähn" means "yawn", but this screenshot shows a punctuation quirk that I really like - tildes are used to show speech that involves drawn out words. Selphie uses them a lot and it portrays her cute way of talking really well.

Of course, people also extend their words by adding more of the same vowel, like in this moment which I just HAD to include.

"You're-going to-like-me

becomes "Mich mögen, mich mööögen."

Here's Selphie being a train fanatic in German.

I believe in the English script Selphie calls Laguna "dreamy" when they first dream about him, but here she literally calls him her "dream man" (Traumann). Another small difference, yet such an interesting one.

This scene, and how these text boxes quickly appear on top of each other, is just somehow amazing to see in German. "Who, when, and how?"

I'm back to taking screenshots just because I understand what is being said, but there is something that feels very slightly different to me about Rinoa saying "Ich hatte Angst..." rather than "I'm scared". It just feels different somehow. That's the strange thing about language, and is one reason I find it so fascinating, because even if a character says what is ultimately the same thing in either language, there is some fundamental difference in the experience.

On a lighter note, I learned that the German for "dead end" is "Sackgasse".

German is a beautiful language, everyone.

I took this screenshot because it's an emotional moment that I can't resist. Squall, please don't feel alleine...

[me crying in German]

After they find out about Edea, their main antagonist thus far, being their old orphanage Matron (who they call "Mama" in German), the English script has them saying it's awful that they have to fight her. The German says this, which is more like "it's shit that we have to fight our own Mama".

Feels about right.

"Is Rinoa still sleeping?"

I just thought this was a cute moment.

Here's Dr. Odine (Odyne in German) saying something is problematic. The funny thing about Odine is that the English script portrays him as having a German accent. I'm not proficient enough in German to tell if they've given him any kind of accent, but it doesn't seem like he is portrayed as German here.

One thing I find interesting is the translation of "sorceress". "Hexe" is more akin to the word "witch". This actually reflects the Japanese script more accurately, as the word used in Japanese is 魔女 (majo), also meaning "witch". Calling Rinoa a witch rather than a sorceress kinda makes the fear of her state and possible destructive powers feel more real.

Here's Selphie using tildes to express her excitement. In English this line is "Woohoo, we're flying!"

Oh, by the way, I nicknamed Squall "frecher". I thought it would be fun to give him a German word for a name. It's not a word I'm very familiar with, but it means "naughty". I love to amuse myself.

Anyway he LIKES WITCHES [gasp].

And that leads us to the climax of the game. The final fight of the game, with Ultimecia (Artemisia in German). She calls us "Widerlich" (disgusting) before the fight begins. Possibly a better insult that "Hasenfuß".

Full disclosure: I reached her final form and then promptly died because I hadn't unlocked the resurrect ability yet because I was simply to lazy to go around her whole castle unlocking more sealed off abilities at that point. I think I did okay for having no ability to resurrect party members though, so I'm gonna consider this playthrough done even though I didn't actually complete the very final part.


So as a final note - I think playing through Final Fantasy VIII in German has been a great experience. It definitely has drilled into me some of the commonly used words (such as "genau" and "trotzdem"). It's given me an opportunity to involve myself in conversational German without feeling overwhelmed and confused by being directly involved in speaking or even hearing German (I can take my time to read each sentence). It's also taught me some fun words (SACKGASSE) which I will more easily remember from having a humorous or narrative context.

Ultimately, having so much context definitely goes a long way in helping me learn some German words. I certainly haven't learned a huge amount from doing this, but putting some things I already know into context, seeing how often certain words are used conversationally throughout this story, and the repetition of words combined with the familiarity of a story and characters I love - all of that contributes various bits and pieces of learning and progress for me and my German. And it's really fun, too. So yep, I'm glad I played Final Fantasy VIII in German. It's been pretty super.

Also, unrelated - this SEED girl in Balamb Garden's cafeteria during the Norg scenario is totally me: