Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Thoughts on Replicas

First off, I would like to start this post by asking a question of my beloved readers whom I have so neglected. Does anyone know how to make blogger not shut off my router? For the past couple months I have had the problem of Blogger crashing my router and having to turn it off before it will reconnect to the internet. I am currently at a Starbucks. No problems thus far, but I can't promise I will be able to maintain a regular posting schedule if I have to go to Starbucks. However, I have quite a back log of posts to put up, so much reading will come along! Yay!

On to the good stuff; the Great Replica Debate. As the US economy sputters along, the demand for replicas is apparently climbing. Some people would argue this is inevitable. The number of lolitas who are working lower paying jobs than they have in the past, or are unemployed is higher than in the past. Combine that with an influx of younger lolitas with limited incomes brought in as lolita fashion becomes more accessible. The buying power of the US lolita community is shrinking, so although the demand for brand styles remains, the ability to purchase full price, or marked up, brand is diminishing. In simple terms, a fair number of folks can't afford this stuff anymore, at least not if we want to keep a roof over our heads and food in our cute clad tummies.

So what is there left to do? We want cute/classy/elegant brand, but are out of cash? We, as a whole, are turning to replicas more than we have in the past. But is that really OK? Should we be buying replicas?I think the issue is more complicated than should or shouldn't.

Cost and quality aside, replicas are exactly what they claim to be, a copy of someone's work. Ultimately my opinion on replicas comes down to the intent of the replica. It is not right to make money off of someone's creative work. If a seamstress makes her own detailed copy of a brand dress, for her own use, and does not intend to sell it to someone else, then what is the harm, especially if she does the dress in a color or detail not available on the original dress. If there is not an intent to make a profit, then I really don't find harm.

The question on everyone's mind is, “Do I buy what has already been made?” That takes some examination. Why do you want the replica?

  • Is real brand too expensive? Could you afford it if you saved up for a while?
  • Are you going to wear this someplace where real brand could get destroyed?
  • Do you like the print/fabric but want a different article of clothing than what the brand is offering?
  • Are you outside of the size range of the brand but the replica is being offered in a size that fits?
  • Are you a soul-less monster who doesn't care about anyone else and thinks brands are evil and too expensive?

Ok, kidding with the last one, but these are all legitimate reasons to consider buying a replica. I would advise one to consider some of the following options before springing on that great priced replica.

  • Hit the sales communities to cut costs. You can find brand or replicas at great prices there, and you can negate the guilt factor of buying a used replica because it is used. The people who made it already got their money, and you are not supporting them by purchasing a gently used item. Similarly you can find the real deal at about the cost of the replica.
  • Consider where you are wearing this to. If you are sure the piece will be destroyed in a single use you probably should buy the replica, or possibly not wear lolita to the event. Unless its a themed meetup, things like paintball, farm work, house painting, and otherwise inherently dirty activities don't require lolita, so for Pete's sake just wear jeans.
  • If you are in search of fabric to pirate for other items, again I suggest the sales communities. Make a want to buy post for items of that print, real or replica, that are damaged in some way, but you can still get what you need. Just need the boarder? Lots of people stain dresses on the bodice, so you are still golden. Just trying to match fabric colors to get a little let out in a piece you already own? Buying the piece with a tear on one side you can easily work around. It would be much cheaper too, since often the owner has already counted the piece as a loss, so any money made from the sale is a step up for them.
  • When it comes to size it can be tricky. If you are smaller than the size range a good seamstress can take the piece in, but if you are larger often you are stuck. Often the companies that make the better replicas also do custom sizing (for a surprisingly nominal fee). At that point, I don't feel that I can make a statement. I am a slight person, who fits into brand just fine, and has found, sometimes, that it runs a little large on me. (I will go hide while my beloved curvy friends throw things at me.) I love that, were I financially able, I could order any of my dream dresses, they would arrive on my doorstep, and I could put them on and have them fit right there and then. At 5 foot 4 and carrying all my height in my legs, sometimes dresses run a little short on me, but wearing tights instead of (or in addition to) socks, and I am fine. I love this, its wonderful, and its a feeling I really think all lolitas should have. That moment of feeling special, like this beautiful dress was made just for me. Money is something enough patience can work around, but fit is something else entirely.

That is the point I suppose I shall leave up to you, dear readers. At what point is it ok to go for a replica?  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Loli Cooking: Recipe for Eggs in a Basket

Eggs in a Basket

Eggs in a Basket is a cute twist on ordinary baked eggs, or oeufs en cocotte. To make Eggs in a Basket, you will need the following:

  • Eggs
  • Bread, two slices of regular sandwhich bread for every egg
  • Butter
  • A cookie cutter
I cut out a kitten.
Start by pre-heating the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a cookie tray by placing a sheet of tin foil on it. I highly recommend the tin foil because if your eggs run, it is a real pain to clean up baked on egg. Just recycle it when you're done.

Next is the fun part. Pick your favorite cookie cutter and cut a hole in one piece of the bread. If you don't have cookie cutters, you can get creative with a good sharp knife. It is important that the bread does not tear or your eggs will run all over. Butter the up side of the bread you did not cut, and both sides of the bread you did. 

Stack your bread with the cut out piece on top, and crack the egg into the bread. If you prefer eggs scrambled you can whip the eggs with a little cream in a bowl before pouring them into the bread. 

Season to taste and bake for about 12 minutes. When they are done the whites should be solid and the yolk should be somewhat solid, but if you prefer a hard yolk, leave them in the oven longer. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Loli Cooking: Fried Eggs

This mornings breakfast of my first ever fried eggs, and buttered toast
I have decided to start a new section in this blog about cooking. I think every lolita should be able to cook. Frankly I think everyone should be able to cook, but lolitas especially. How else could we have so many tea parties with out going broke! That said, being nearly 24 and the only use my The Joy of Cooking cook book has seen was keeping the couch level in my college apartment, I am going to learn to cook.

Today I made fried eggs for the first time in my life. I wouldn't call myself a picky eater, because I will try anything once, but some food textures freak me out, the chief amongst them being runny eggs. I can not stomach the idea of eating something that is not quite solid, not quite liquid, salty, and warm. It grosses me out, so I had never eaten a fried egg, or tried to make one, staying safely with hard scrambled eggs, sometimes with a little cheese, my whole life. For shame, I know.

Fried eggs didn't seem that difficult to make, and I already had eggs in the refrigerator, along with butter, so it seemed like a good place to start. I dug my copy of The Joy of Cooking out of a box in the basement and looked up "fried eggs." Apparently fried eggs are, in fact, difficult to make so I turned to my ever present font of kitchen knowledge - my boyfriend, Marcus. His advice was to not panic. He has known me long enough to be well aware of the usual result of me in a kitchen with the stove lit - panic.

I found the instructions for frying eggs in The Joy of Cooking and was immediately encouraged by the use of 1 to 3 tablespoons of butter. I have struggled with food the better part of my life, and although I love butter, frequently can't bring myself to put it on anything for fear of the fat. I can easily rationalize cooking with butter, however. I'm not putting it on anything, its going in. Out of sight, out of mind. Yummy.

So, I put 3 whole tablespoons of butter into my largest frying pan (which is not very large at all, and barely fit my two eggs) and waited for it to melt. I am not patient, and usually put the flame on my stove on high, but I figured I should trust the cookbook, and set it to just below medium. And I waited, and waited, aaaaand waited. Apparently it takes a long time for butter to get to being "sizzling, but not yet brown." I ended up calling Marcus and asking what butter looks like before it gets brown, describing to him what I had in the pan as "a pool of floaty, albino, pond scum." It seems that before butter gets brown it gets "frothy," although I like "albino pond scum" better, "frothy" sounds much more appetizing. I wish TJoC had actually just said "frothy" or "albino pond scum" since my butter had been frothy for almost 10 minutes before I thought to ask Marcus what my butter should be doing, and I had probably cooked away about a tablespoon of butter already.
My eggs, happily frying in a pool of butter.

With a pan full of hot, frothy butter I added in two eggs. At this point I discovered, not only was my pan rather small, but it was tippy, and the eggs slid over to one side. My tea kettle helped out with this one, holding my pan steady so I could go look for something to put in my eggs. Being a lolita, plain eggs will not suffice, so I added oregano and thyme. Delicious. I am glad I got the photo of my eggs in the pan, because they did not leave the pan so nicely. I flopped them over, and the yolks both broke, and I barely managed to get a picture before the yolk got out from under the egg. I did, however, have time to soak my toast in the hot, buttery, egg juice left in the pan. It made for a wonderful breakfast.

New Year's Resolutions... Or Something

I have never been one to make New Year's Resolutions considering the ones I try to make rarely make it past January 15th. A few years ago I vowed to stop eating popcorn in bed, which I am doing right now. Another year I swore I would wear lolita every Saturday, which lasted till March. I tried to give up knitting in the car (when I'm not the driver), practicing dance steps in public places, cracking my knuckles, and - most famously - cutting down to only 3 cups of coffee a day. Noticing a theme? This year I am going to save my self a huge let down, and do one little thing. OK - two - I am going to try to post more.

I need to learn to buy things.  - This may sound silly, but I have a terrible habit of seeing something I would like to have, and then thinking "but I could just make that." I have a very long list of things that I would like to have that I have never purchased since I think I could make it. Be it laziness, or having too much on my plate already, but none of these projects ever get done. The first thing on my list, and what I have needed the longest, is a new petticoat. When I first started wearing lolita I stuck to an a-line shape, and made myself a petticoat to match. Over the past 2 years I have drifted further and further from the a-line to the bell shape, but still using my old a-line petticoat (which, I might add, is still fluffy). I have fabric, left over from a wedding dress, 7 yards of ivory chiffon, collecting dust that I have meant to turn into a nice fluffy petticoat. I concede. I surrender! It just isn't going to happen. Candy Violet, here I come! Also, today, I bought a gray lace knit beret. I have wanted one for several years now, but the thought that I could just knit that has held me back. Today I found one on a clearance rack for $4, so I bought it! Let's hope the trend continues!