Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Blog is Undead Undead Undead

Readers, I beg your forgiveness on two accounts. The first of which being the horribly cliched Bauhaus reference in the title of this post. The second,of course, being my long, unannounced absence from this blog. End of the year exams, an unexpected new romance, the end of my study abroad experience, moving back to the United States, Christmas and now preparations for the New Year all kind of hit me at once, and that's not exactly a great mix for blog posts of any kind of substance.

However, I'm all settled at home for now and am writing up a storm of posts for this blog so that the same thing doesn't happen when I go to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts for the spring semester. Once the new year comes around, you'll be hit with a slurry of posts on fashion, the subculture, art, and history, with a sprinkling of reviews and recipies for good measure. But! If you have any ideas for posts you want me to consider, feel free to drop me a line in the comment box below or write me an e-mail at theeverydaygoth@yahoo.com

Thanks guys,

-Mary Rose


P.S. - My extraordinarily generous aunt gifted me her old Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT camera for Christmas, so look out for more and better photographs in future posts!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Prepping Thrifted Clothes for Wear

Thrifting: it's a Goth thing. Certainly not exclusively, but it is nonetheless. Going to thrift stores is great not only because you get unique pieces really cheaply, but also because you are recycling things instead of requiring companies to pollute the environment more, giving money to those in need (many thrift stores are run by charities), and avoiding annoying packaging. However, just because thrift stores have their advantages doesn't mean they're exactly "ready for wear" right away. Here's my guide to what to do once you get your thrifted clothing pieces home:

Vintage/Thrift Fair on Campus


First, you need to check the tag when you get it. If the tag is still attached, it will give you important information about the materials used in construction and washing/drying procedures. If there is no tag, just use your best judgement. Don't go washing a dark item that has no tag with lighter items because it might bleed. Don't put an item with delicate-feeling fabric in the dryer on high.

Secondly, you need to go about actually washing things. There's no reason you can't toss things into the wash with your regular laundry, just so long as you're combining things that need to be washed similarly. Do a once-over of all of the clothing and look for stains, applying a stain-remover as needed. If it's in a thrift store, unfortunately, some of the stains may be really stuck in there, so be liberal with the stain-remover and do a bit of scrubbing. Then, wash according to the tag instructions. If you're really bothered by germs, wash on a higher temperature to get yourself rid of anything particularly nasty.

HOWEVER, if you picked up something really vintage, you'll need to do some handwashing rather than putting it in the washing machine. Avoid using a strong detergent and stick to a mild one, such as ivory soap. Dandelion Village, a vintage retailer, has a blog which contains a guide for washing vintage clothing which I have found particularly useful, link to part one here and part two here.

Now is the time, after you've done the washing, to alter your clothing. Try it on and wear it for a while. Walk, sit down, stretch. If you have enough sewing skills, you should be able to pin-point any areas you need to alter just from doing that. You can also make cosmetic changes to the garment, of course. One of my best changes to a garment was a simple swapping of buttons, because whoever decided that a purple shirt should have tiny gold baubles in place of buttons was out of their mind. Adding lace to hems, patches to sleeves, studs to shoulders, or any other number of DIY additions will really help and make your garment more you.

The matter of shoes and accessories is slightly different. If you've managed to find a pair of shoes, chances are they've already been cleaned by the thrift store. You can clean the inside with a soft, damp (not soaking) cloth and bit of mild detergent if you would prefer. A tiny bit of polish for any metal fixtures, and some leather polish can also improve them. If you're in love with the shoes and they seem good quality but the tread is worn down, you can take them to a cobbler to get a new tread put on, but I wouldn't recommend it for really cheap shoes.

Bags can be cleaned, again, with a soft cloth, or scrubbed if they're fabric and a bit dingy. You can also make changes to bags, if you like, such as replacing the zipper or other fixtures. Belts can be polished, but I don't know of any big DIY changes you could make to those (except maybe studding them or stringing a chain on it or something.) Jewelry is somewhat different. In a thrift store it can often be difficult to tell what is good quality and what will turn your skin green. Covering the parts of the jewelry that will touch your skin with a clear sealant can help (in the past I've recommended clear nail polish, but that's probably not the best solution. If you're stuck on options, Decoden websites have some great solutions for what kind of thing.)

Thrifted clothing can be stored like non-thrifted clothing. To combat any moths who might be out to eat your clothes, hang a sachet of lavender in your wardrobe. Finally, wear your "new" thrifted clothes, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vegan Tea-Infused Cupcakes Recipe

If you're a tea fanatic like me, you might have a large collection of teas hanging around. Yes, you can keep drinking them if you like, but what else can you do with teas? Here's my recipe for delicious tea-infused cupcakes from scratch.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup oil (non-flavored, such as canola)
2 tablespoons vinegar
Two or three tea bags (your flavor of choice) OR two servings (if you were making two cups of tea) tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil two cups of water (make sure your measurement of two cups occurs after boiling, since evaporation may change any initial measurements of water amounts.)
  3. Pour water into a large mug or heat-safe bowl and add your tea bags.
  4. Allow tea bags to steep until water is cooled. Tea should be STRONG.
  5. Whisk dry ingredients together
  6. Add vinegar, oil, and vanilla extract
  7. Stain the tea well until no leaves are in the water, then add that to the ingredients
  8. Blend the dry and wet ingredients together until smooth
  9. Line your cupcake pan and pour the batter in
  10. Cook cupcakes for 22-25 minutes

You can leave these cupcakes plain or make a frosting, which begs the questions of flavorings. Your options are to top it with a plain vanilla frosting/glaze, or do something in a coordinating flavor. Here are some nice flavor variations for you to try:
To add more depth of flavor (particularly to the fruit flavored tea cupcakes) you can add little chunks of fruit, nuts, or chocolate to the cupcakes at your whim. You can, of course, make the cupcakes with your preferred recipe as long as yours involves water in some way (cupcakes that rely on milk or a similar liquid won't work since tea doesn't diffuse in milk well.) Let me know if you stumble onto a particularly delicious combination of flavors!

Happy eating!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Introducing: Evil Supply Company

Hello readers, today I have a rather special post to offer you. This post focuses on the up-and-coming spook-tacular project Evil Supply Company, which is of interest to all of us who enjoy a little bit of (silly) villany once in a while. To get the story behind Evil Supply Company, I talked to its creator and lead ghoul, Atticus Q. Redghost (or, as you may know him in the Tumblr sphere, evilsoutherngentleman.)

Mr. Ghost

Evil Supply Company is run by Atticus Q. Redghost (I assume the "Q" stands for something appropriate like "quixotical" or such, but I dared not ask) who, in his own words "dabble[s] in all four divisions of Evil Supply (mad science, the sea, dark arts, undead), but [is] a more crafted constructor of mechanical beings than [he is] in magic, so much of [his] time is spent in the mad science labs." The company, though founded in 1879 via time machine, though its official opening date was Halloween this year. Why the spooky date? Mr. Redghost tells me that it "is the appropriate time. One must be familiar with time travel to understand what I mean by 'appropriate'... it's a matter of equations... and math... and other such... things." Personally, I used that as personal chastisement for never doing well in mathematics courses, so I'll leave the equations and math to Mr. Redghost and focus on the interview instead.

Mr. Redghost, a self-proclaimed professional villain, claims that the inspiration for Evil Supply Company came while he "saw a hero beating up a helpless evil do-er as a child as if the poor bastard was doing something wrong. [He] vowed then and there to stop 'Good' at all cost, and aid [his] brothers and sisters in doing the same." How will Evil Supply Company help? By selling all the necessary supplies of evil, of course! Mr. Redghost has promised everything from death rays and giant robots to minions and henchmen to trap kits and layout plans for secret lairs. No more ridiculous bumbling fools to accidentally free the hero while you are giving your evil monologue, no sir!

But...in the mean time, while waiting for the US government to allow importing evil minions by the crate-full, Evil Supply Company has some other offerings to us. Mr. Redghost explains that it will sell "mostly small and medium things", such as the little ghosty badge he launched a few weeks ago, and a stationary designs in the works. (He confides that "physical mail may be dead, but [he has] necromancers on [his] payroll, [and he his] not overly worried.") Other future offerings may include posters, holiday or birthday cards, "infernally-inspired shirts," pocket business cards, and icon packs for web designers/developers. "In general," Mr. Redghost says, "the items sold will be small trinkets and artifacts that help bring a sense of wonder, magic and delight into one's life." The most expensive of the future planned items will top up at a mere 25USD or so.

Since I'm aware that my readers may have particular concerns as to the products, I inquired if they were "cruelty free." After a short, maniacal laugh, Mr. Redghost informs me that he does "try not to muck up things in the environment as possible." Vegan items might be in the cards as well, especially if what you're buying is...you know...cards... anyway. International shipping is on the table, but Mr. Redghost cannot deny the fact that the evil overlords of postal shipping (not our kind of evil, friends) make the prices for that extremely high. Mr. Redghost apologizes for that inconvenience.

I also inquired about the future of Evil Supply Company, asking about what we can expect. Mr. Redghost refers to this first year as having a mission to "build, grow an audience, survive in the public eye." (An aside: if the one year anniversary of Evil Supply Company, come 2013, is not called "doomsday" I will be a very sad spookster.) However, Mr. Redghost is very clear in his distaste towards the idea of becoming a "cheap-value market" to buy "quirky doo-dads." While I'm a fan of quirky doo-dads, I can understand the reputation of evil, not just quirky, he's trying to build here.

Of course, the question for all inquisitive evil-doers is, Does our input matter? Or, how can we get involved? Luckily for us, Mr. Redghost is most willing to accept input. He even calls it "crucial." After testing to see if this was a rouse, I found myself pleasantly accepting that Mr. Redghost does, in fact, care (Don't tell anyone I told you this, it might ruin his reputation amongst the ghouls.) To get involved, Mr. Redghost suggests that we simply enjoy what he creates and show it to others with similar tastes. You'll note the existence of this blog post, for example. "Responding to things I've written or sketched out is simply fantastic," says Mr. Redghost, "as it allows me to gauge what people get excited about, where I should put pressure and where I should hold off." If your ego wasn't sufficiently stroked already, Mr. Redghost says that his audience "is a significant portion of why [he's] doing these things." D'aw, shucks.

Have I piqued your interest? The blog at evilsupplyco.tumblr.com is where you can find the most up-to-date information about the project and where you (yes, you!) can give your input about what you'd like to see and what you think. Currently available to purchase is the aforementioned badge here, described as Mister Ghost's significantly fancy Undead Appreciation Badge of exquisite taste. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

I'd like to thank Mr. Redghost once again for speaking with me and introducing the project and encourage all of my readers to give it a good look! Personally I can't wait for Paypal to stop being a pain (it does not like that my billing address and shipping address are in two different countries, not one bit!) so that I can purchase a wee ghosty pin and support the company.

Now, go forth, and be spooky! Or villainous! Or, better yet, EVIL!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Clothing Challenge, 1-5

Hello readers, I hope you're having a pleasant time of it. This past week was my mid-semester break at University, and I spent it traveling around the highlands with my dad. Unfortunately, this left me rather exhausted and unfit to write a proper post, so I decided to participate in the 30 Day Clothing Challenge. However, as I did with the 30 Day Goth Challenge, I will be chunking up the posts in groups of five and spacing them out whenever I feel less than inclined to write a proper article (it happens to the best of us, right? Right.) So, for now, I present to you the 30 Day Clothing Challenge, numbers one through five.

1. Your closet.

Since I'm in my dorm room, I don't have a picture of my "proper" closet at home...but I do have pictures of my closet here! The outside of it is this dark wood and it has a notice about fire safety on it...but I found it so boring. To remedy this, I cut out bats from dotted scrapbook paper and put them in a "flock" on my door. Yay! 




Inside of it I keep my actual clothing and, if you sneak a peak on the top shelf, my food as well. I didn't bring much clothing to Scotland, about five skirts, three pairs of pajama pants, eight tops, two jackets, and lots of pairs of tights, but I've been getting on just fine. Yay!



2. Your favorite shirt.

My favorite shirt is one from Fanplusfriend which I altered very recently to make more "me." The original shirt up on the website here has a kind of frilled collar to it, which was less-than flattering, so I removed it and kept the lower, straight part of the collar. The shirt has a lovely fit to it and is very comfortable, a rarity with this kind of blouse. Though you can't see it in the provided picture, it also has a kind of tail at the back, which is adorable. 




3. A piece of clothing or jewelry that was a gift.

This necklace was a present from my mother a few years ago and I adore it to pieces. It's by Alchemy Gothic and has a nice weight to it, plus the red moon has such depth. This is my go-to necklace whenever I need something somewhat fancier. Or just if I'm wearing red.



4. A shirt that you haven't worn yet.

Well, I don't have a shirt that I have not worn yet. At least, not here anyway, though I don't think I have one at home either. I tend to wear things fairly quickly. 

5. Your favorite pair of jeans.
Unfortunately, I don't have a favorite pair of jeans because I don't own or wear jeans.

Bonus picture: Have a picture of me this week in a ruined 13th century chapel! Can you make out the skull and crossbones motif in the stone?



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Double Dead Tour

I haven't written a review post in a while, have I? I've been trying to keep away from them for a while now, but based on my own amazing experience this past weekend and on the rising percentage of UK readers that I seem to have, I felt it appropriate to make an exception. This week I'll be talking to you about Blackhart Entertainment's Double Dead Tour in Edinburgh, Scotland.


 Outside the meet-up spot there was a sign covered in some of the documentation of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. Just some. 

 Blackhart Entertainment is a tour company founded in 1999 which makes tours based on the works of J.A. Henderson, award winning historical novelist. They host many tours, from the Double Dead Tour that I went on to the Underground City of the Dead tour, the City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard, The Secret of Gilmerton Cove tour, the Burke and Hare Murder Tour, and Twisted Tales of St. Andrews Tour. They vary in length, times, and subject matter, but the entire company has rave reviews. Scarecon awarded the company their Britain's Best Ghost Tour award, they were shortlisted for Screamie Awards 2011, they made the top of Yahoo!Travel's Uk's Best Ghost Tours list, and topped Virgin Media's Best UK Ghost Tours list.That's an impressive pedigree, but even more impressive is that it was so well deserved.

 The Double Dead tour that my companion selected for us goes to two locales. Firstly, it goes to the Underground Southbridge vaults, then it goes to Greyfriars graveyard and into the Covenantor's prison there. The Underground Southbridge vaults was interesting because, if you're aware of a little bit about the city, you'll know that Edinburgh was built on seven hills. The hills had to be connected, so there were birgdes and then underground vaults for basically storing people. Yeah. Creepy as fuck. The South Bridge is supposed to be cursed and haunted and all sorts of other things. If you don't know much about the city, though, your tour guide will tell you and explain it much better than I could. The vaults themselves were creepy because standing in there, packed against other people on the tour, you really get a sense of how crowded they could get. Luckily, though, we were all washed. I'm very claustrophobic myself, but I had my friend's hand in mine and could squeeze it if I got too nervous. The only bits that were really bad were when the tour guide decided to spook me and make me scream (which I did, loudly) and when we were asked to turn off our flashlights in one of the smaller vaults and stand in silence as the tourguide told us a story. I could feel other people against me, I could hear their breath, the un-ending dark pressed in on my eyes. I escaped without being harassed by spirits and without having a panic attack, but yeah. It got to me.

That done, we were ushered from the Underground Vaults up to the Graveyard by another tour guide with a pentagram-encrusted umbrella, where even more fun began. The tour went into the Graveyard and we got a brief history of it. While Greyfriars is a very small place, it i home to thousands of corpses buried under the ground, most of them unmarked. If you want to go there, it's open to the public. Except for one part. The Covenantor's Prison, which has a padlock on the gate to keep you out. Well, if you're not on a tour, anyway. Our guide unlocked the gate and we went inside.

Basically, for the unaware, the Covenantor's prison was a kind of concentration camp for the very poor. No one made it out alive, so it's filled with spirits, surprise surprise. The most haunted area is the Black Mausoleum, where the Mackenzie Poltergeist is said to reside. Of course, we went inside. Nobody in our group vomited or fainted or got injured to my knowledge, but hearing about the history of the place was fascinating and terrifying.

After leaving the Black Mausoleum, the tour guide told us the story of Greyfriar's Bobby, which you may or may not be familiar with. He also disclaimed it, leaving the night on a fairly light note. Then, the tour guide bid us goodnight and left about six of us who wanted to see the Harry Potter stones with the ushering-tour guide who walked us between the two attractions. He was knowledgeable too, and very nice in answering our questions as we paused at the Snape, Potter, Moody, and other stones with Harry Potter names. As I was looking at the one for MacGonagle, I felt something on my shoulder and turned to see a face. I shrieked and jumped to see the first tour guide, sans leather coat, with his chin on my shoulder. Creepy bastard. He finished the tour of the Harry Potter graves, told me I had a lovely scream, then bid us goodnight for real at a little past midnight.

Overall, if you can't tell, I had an amazing time. I love creepy history, and honestly if I were living in Edinburgh I'd go on every single tour they offer and then make being a tour guide there my ultimate career goal. It was fun and spooky, and certainly would have induced nightmares if I hadn't slept like a log that night from exhaustion. The tour guide was wonderful and intelligent, fun to talk to, and the attractions were creepy. Luckily I escaped unscathed, and with a sort-of crush on the tour guide. I know he's not the only tour guide for the company, so let me say a bit about the guides. Many of the comments on the Facebook page for the tours make reference to how great the guides were, and I can assure you that they absolutely make the experience. According to my guide, he was a Shakespearean actor and then opera singer, which made him good at improvising stories and maintaining a creepy atmosphere the whole night. I believe him. He never faulted in his stories, and it could have been all lies for all I know, but it was amazing. He was also very friendly and linked arms with me to skip off into the graveyard ahead of the entire group as we were chatting. So yeah. Make friends with your tour guide. They're cool people. Since he made it his mission to terrifying the living hell out of me, he said he wanted me to have a picture that accurately represented my night. I think he got it spot on.


I have a couple boring but necessary disclaimer points about the tours: The underground city and vaults are not wheelchair accessible. Tours are probably not suited for people with extreme claustrophobia, fear of the dark, or fear of the paranormal. The guides will walk very, very quickly from one location to the other, so wear grippy shoes (the cobblestones in Edinburgh are very slippery when wet--which is all the time.) One of the spirits in the underground vault, named "the imp" has been known to steal things, so keep your bag on you at all times. The spirit in the Covenantor's Prison, the Mackenzie Poltergeist, is a well-documented violent spirit. People (and especially women) may come out of the tour with bite marks, bruises, cuts, burns, or other unexplained injuries. Enter at your own risk.

If you're still tempted, you can purchase tickets on the company's website here or on their contact page here. If Edinburgh is too far away or the tours don't seem like your thing, look into the books that inspired them by visiting this link. On the other hand, if you're interested in what else I've been up to on my trip, again I urge you to look at my Study Abroad blog on Students Gone Global. Happy haunting!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween in a Dorm Room

As my readers are no doubt very much aware, Halloween is creeping up on us Goths fairly quickly. It's already  mid-October and now I have to make plans for what to do with mine. Of course, this will be my first Halloween away from home, and my first in a dorm room. Dorm life isn't really conducive to big parties (especially since I have classes the next day) or intricate decor, but I'll be damned if that means that I plan on letting my favorite holiday slip by uncelebrated. So, my first order of business is prepping my tiny dorm room for the holiday festivities. But how does one do that on a budget and with the constraints of dorm life? Here are my thoughts.

My local Tesco

The first order of business is to assess what you are allowed to do to your dorm room or residence halls. This means both that you need to consult your school for their regulations (this should be somewhere on the Residential Life page on their website) and what your roommate (if applicable, I'm in a single) is comfortable with. Common restrictions such as the banning of candles, damage to provided furnishings/walls, or door decorations could hinder your abilities to decorate for the Halloween season. Do try to stay within those rules unless you have a very, very good reason (Under "very, very good reason" I would count religious obligations, but still do try not to set off the fire alarm if you must light candles.)

If your dorm allows it, make or buy a "Happy Halloween" sign for the outside of your dorm door or, if you want to get really creative, split a roll of butcher's paper with your friends and decorate the entire door! Online you can find tons of inspiration, particularly from Residential Adviser websites, to turn your door into a scene from the Nightmare Before Christmas or something similar. Hang a Halloween wreath on the inside, if you like, there are plenty of tutorials for that even in my "DIY dorm decor" post or on any craft site. The good thing is that Halloween trends have been moving away from twee and more towards glamorous and quirky, so there's sure to be something you like.

Your window is another place where you can add decorations, provided your roommate is okay with it. From window clings to silhouettes and other kinds of Halloween signs, there is tons you can do for that. It's a generally accepted courtesy that you shouldn't put a silhouette of someone hanging themselves (someone will call ResLife and someone [read: you] will get in trouble for it, or at least be asked to take them down) but there's no reason to avoid other silhouettes on your windows. If you're stuck, visit Halloween sites such as PartyCity and check their decorations for windows, then buy or DIY those yourself. 

If you want a pumpkin, you have several routes you can go in. If you must get a Jack-O-Lantern, be sure to fill it with fake tea-light candles to avoid fire hazards. For an interesting twist on a traditional Jack-O-Lantern, after you hollow out the pumpkin poke small holes through it and fill it with string lights. Those ideas can be done with fake or real pumpkins, depending on your preference. If you've made any friends that are interested in it, you can go pumpkin picking to find the perfect one or you can just stop by a craft store and buy one of styrofoam/plastic. Just remember that if you buy a traditional pumpkin to take it out of the room and throw it away when it starts to rot. Another idea is to use pumpkins crafted from paper. You can find all sorts of inspiration for this, anywhere from origami pumpkins to ones made of paper strips.

But what to do on Halloween itself? Some residence halls will have Halloween celebrations, which you may or may not want to attend (depends how much you really want to see a bunch of drunken University students with horrible face paint and lots of skin showing. Not my cup of tea, personally, but it depends on you.) However, you can always have your own! You can have a movie night with someone's laptop or the television room (if applicable), showing anything from Tim Burton movies to horror flicks. How about a costume contest, or organizing a trick-or-treat event on the floor? The opportunities are endless. Ask everyone to chip in somehow, either by getting the films out or by chipping in to buy food for the event.

Speaking of food, there are plenty of recipes you can make for Halloween in your dorm room. If you don't have access to an oven, look for Microwavable recipes (popcorn, some chocolates, cakes, etc.) or raw ones (an aside: the recent "revolution" of raw foods, often associated with vegan or very healthy recipes, is a boon for university students without oven access, and some of it tastes really good, too! Check it out if you are stuck for what to make!). It might be worthwhile finding someone with either an apartment or access to a home kitchen if you want to whip up anything fancy, though. Or, of course, you can buy store-bought food if pressed for time/kitchen space. Keep a Halloween bowl of candy in your dorm room for yourself, your roommate, or any guests.

Do you all have plans for Halloween this year? What will you be doing if you're in halls--or not?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Clothing Without Costumes

Happy October, darling followers! I hope the month has been treating you well? Personally, it's been very kind to me, which I'm thankful for. There are people on the floor of my dorm who want to celebrate Halloween, so it's been consuming my mind lately! Mostly we'll just bake tons of things, decorate the hall, watch movies, and of course wear costumes! I'll be going as a vampire again this year, because of how easy it is, but I know people who are dressing as everything from french maids to werewolves. But what if you aren't the type to slather yourself in fake blood or craft an elaborate costume for the day but don't want to let the holiday be passed unobserved? Here's my take on how to dress for the season without wearing a costume.


The first way to add a little bit of Halloween fun to your everyday outfit is to sprinkle it with Halloween motifs, which you might have in your arsenal already! Just pile it on (don't be afraid to be a bit tacky, that's half the fun.) Bats, spiders (or their webs), ghosts, witches, and anything else you can think of will make great additions to your outfit. A bonus to this is that these can be used, more sparingly of course, in your everyday wardrobe depending on your personal style and the quality of the pieces. 

The second way to represent our favorite holiday is to deck yourself in Halloween colors. The most obvious choice, of course, is orange. The perfect orange tone is hard to find, but look for something bright that isn't too yellow or pink-ish (I've made the mistake of buying something labeled orange only to find that it was actually a kind of salmon color. Ick!) However, when paired with black, you have more options than just orange. Neon greens and purples also work wonderfully, as well as blood reds.



Fancy

If none of these ideas appeal to you, why not just get fancy? And I mean really fancy. Dress to the nines for no reason at all. All of your jewelry, fancy accessories, cravats and corsetry or combat boots and customized leather jackets. Take just one day, or several, to do up your hair in a way that you can't usually be bothered to do. Do your makeup in a really suitably dramatic way, maybe experimenting with color or exaggerated winged eyeliner.

If you're not wearing a costume for Halloween, what will you be wearing? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Making a Tea Journal

Despite being currently located in a nation of primarily tea-drinkers, I can't say I've drunk that much tea while I'm here, and certainly less than I did at home. I tend to be out and about more often than not, so a cup of tea in the morning as I'm trying to wake up is pretty much it. However, puzzling over this has got me started on thinking about tea and the various paraphernalia of it, and I was reminded of a specific topic I'd mentioned on my Tumblr some time back: tea journals!

Boring little school mug and tea from Tesco. With 160 bags I honestly doubt I'll need to buy another box before my time here ends!

If you're familiar with wine-snobs (ahem, connoisseurs) you might be familiar with the concept of a wine-journal. Essentially, if you drink enough wine, you might forget which ones you like, which ones pair favorably with which foods, and so on. The solution to this is to have a book wholly devoted to your wines, in which you can record what you think of different types of wine. Some people make them themselves, but they are relatively easy to buy. Barnes and Nobles has one, for example, here. Now, wine snobs have them, but what about tea drinkers? Why less common?

I'm not entirely sure, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't make a fun DIY adventure! Here is my mock-up on how I would make such a journal:



As you can see, it has a place for the name, price, location of purchase, flavor, type of tea, brewing time, how you took it, and other notes on taste and such. Then, at the right side, it has a place for you to affix some sort of visual aid, such as the tag from the end of the tea bag, the outer tea bag itself (NOT the tea bag that actually holds the tea leaves, please, that will just make a mess) or even the face of the tea box. Filled out, it looks like this:



There are plenty of websites you can use to make a small book like this, or you could make it by hand if you're particularly crafty. I think I might invest in one in the future, because I can often find myself trying to remember if I liked a particular tea or not. On my Tumblr it was suggested that such a concept could be turned into a blog, if you're more inclined to do so, but I feel that this has a certain charm to it that would be lost on the internet...that's probably just me, though.

So, readers, what do you think of a tea journal? Do you have one? Have you seen them out there? Or are they rather frivolous and silly?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ten Unusual Goth Meet-Up Ideas

I'm back into the blogging groove! For the past few weeks, I've been mulling around in my mind a few options for future Goth Meet-up ideas, and I thought I'd post ten of my favorites! I tried to include ones for all budgets, so hopefully there is something in there for everyone!

I was so tempted to go...
  1. Paint Your Own Pottery - If you aren't familiar with them, Paint Your Own Pottery shops are basically shops where you buy an unpainted porcelain or ceramic object (everything from knick-knacks to plates to vases and all sorts of other things), paint them using supplied paints, then the shop fires them in a kiln for you and you take home your finished object. If you aren't very artsy-inclined, don't worry about it! Use the opportunity to paint lyrics from your favorite Goth songs (honestly, when is the next chance you're going to get to own a plate with the lyrics to "Some Kind of Stranger" on it?) 
  2. Volunteer at an animal shelter - Many animal shelters offer open-volunteering for people who want to come in and socialize the animals before they are adopted. Usually this involves either playing with and cuddling the animals or taking them out for walks. Make sure people don't wear anything too fancy, those animals can be a bit messy! (Also, important, some of the animals may shy away from someone who makes noise when they move, so avoid anything that will "clink" like layers of bracelets or chain-covered trousers.) 
  3. Thrifting - Okay. Okay. I know it's a cliche. But, this will be a great time to stock up on your own wardrobe (cheaply!) and find more thrift stores to explore later. You can decide on which thrift store to go to democratically or whoever is hosting the meet-up might have one in mind already. The bonus to this is that you get to ask the opinions of your fellow Goths (something that, while shopping, I often wish I could do.) If possible, try to find a bigger thrift store, so that you all aren't fighting over the one black lacey blouse in the shop.
  4. Laser tag - Put away your platforms and corsetry, laser tag is a ridiculously fun game in which you and your team face off against another team with fake guns. Don't worry, you don't need to be a Halo champion to play; I placed third in my game (in a group of thirty+) the first time playing, and it's fun even if you aren't very good at it. Unfortunately, the lasers might trigger reactions in Goths with conditions like epilepsy, so make sure everyone is aware what they're signing up for (there should be a waiver required to play, make sure everyone reads it!) 
  5. Cake decorating class - Many local craft stores have cake decorating classes for a small fee, and though some of them are rather cutesy, around Halloween time (or if hosted by a particularly cool craft store) there are some more interesting options. If there are people with dietary restrictions in the group, look for specialty classes which cater to gluten-free or vegan cakes/cake decorating. Have fun! 
  6. Have a reading night - A nice way to spend an evening might be to go to either a poetry reading in your town and participate, or hold one in the home of one person in the group. Don't worry if you're not very good at it, this is for fun! If you struggle to find something to write about, have someone pick a theme for the group to write about (silly or serious.) Be encouraging of your fellow Goths, be respectful if the poem is "heavy", and have fun! 
  7. Head to a Museum - Take a tip from us! Museums are a great place to explore with your fellow spooklings! Look for ones which have exhibits relevant to Goths (vintage fashion, medical, "dark" historical, dark art, music, etc.) and be sure to either look for freebie days or group discounts! 
  8.  Ghost hunting - Not everywhere has spooky lore in it...but most definitely do! If you need ideas, check out some travel guides and poke around for lore around your area. Then, go visit. Alternatively, type in the name of a town into your favorite search engine and tack "spooky", "haunted" or "creepy" onto the end and search away! Be sure not to go onto private property or otherwise trespass. The last thing you need is for a meet-up to end in jail time. 
  9. Craft nights in - Find someone in the local community to host the event and ask everyone to bring any DIY supplies that have been lurking around with no projects for them. Start a pool in the middle of a table/on the floor/in the bath tub/etc. and let everyone have at them for some fun crafting times. If you have something that you've been meaning to work on, be sure to bring that along. Then you can have some fun gossipy times while you craft to your heart's content. If you like, this can be prefaced by a trip to a local craft store if someone can drive or if it is in walking distance. 
  10. Go to a book talk - Every so often, when our favorite authors come out with a new book, they will tour to give talks about their books, answer questions, and diatribe. Depending on the author, they can be illuminating, amusing, fun, or anything else. If there is a particularly spooky author coming to a city near you, why not ask some fellow Goths who might like that author to come with you? Tickets tend to be cheap and it can be a wonderful experience.
 So, there you have it! My list of ten unusual (and hopefully fun) ideas for Goth Meet-Ups. I hope you find at least one of these useful for planning something in the future. OH! Look what I bought on campus (for really cheap) yesterday!

Two records from Siouxsie and the Banshees and one from The Cure.

Adam and the Ants album! 

EEE!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life Update: Scotland!


I'll try to keep this brief and Goth-relevant since I know many of you follow me for that reason, but here is the short of it: Scotland! Yay! Finally! I've been bouncing off the walls about this trip for so long and I'm glad it's finally come to pass. As of today, I've been in Scotland for a week, and what a week it's been! Here's a brief bit about my life now and what I've done thus far:


Campus!

The campus is basically the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Really. We're tucked away between some beautiful hills and a crag with the Wallace Monument on it. Around campus is a wonderful amount of wildlife, from big black crows (or ravens, I'm no biologist) to seagulls to rabbits and squirrels. There's even rumors of a badger somewhere on campus, but I've yet to investigate that. The loch that separates the main buildings from the residence halls is a gorgeous dark green and filled with swans and ducks (and probably a few merpeople, too.) It's just stunning.

Also of note, the campus bookstore sells Alchemy Gothic Jewelry. Oh god my wallet why.

My dorm room!

I live on the top floor of my hall and, though that does mean looong flights of stairs, it also means that I get an amazing view. So I'm pleased, and the second day I was there I made it my goal to decorate my dorm so it doesn't feel so lonely. Since I don't have any crafting supplies with me, I wasn't able to delve into the wonderful world of DIY dorm decor, so that will have to wait until I'm at Mount Holyoke this January. I just solved my problem by bringing my photo wall from home and adding a poster I bought from the poster sale they were having as an orientation activity. Anyway, here it is:

The view out my window.

Dunblane Cathedral!

On Wednesday, international students were offered a free bus tour of Stirling and the surrounding area, which I readily accepted. We went to Stirling Castle, the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, and Dunblane Cathedral. Dunblane Cathedral is beautiful, predominately Gothic in design but with elements of other styles. I took a stroll around their cemetery as well as inside to offer you all some idea of just how lovely it was.


Classes!

My classes only just began this Thursday in the form of introductory lectures about the course and sign-up for the practical portion of my Psychology course. However, next week I have to attend the seminars as well as the lectures. You see, at Stirling Uni all of our classes are divided into two segments. The first are large lectures, which are for one hour and two or three times a week. The second portion are seminars/practicals. Seminars are smaller groups of students who come together once a week for about an hour and actually participate in round-table discussion of the course material. Practicals are where you run lab experiments based on the topics you're covering in lectures, so they're for the science disciplines. So, I have seminars for my English and History classes, but a practical for my Psychology class. It's going to be fun.

Oh, and P.S. : we're watching and analyzing Pirates of the Caribbean in my English class. I'm excited.

Bones!

In the building where my Psychology class is (that is informally dedicated to the sciences and also a huge maze) there is a hallway that has several display cases filled with bones. Personally, I found them fascinating, as I have a budding bone collection at home. Here are some of the highlights.

That's all I have that is somewhat Goth related or at least important. I could also mention the new friends I've made, the awesome rock night on campus (more metal and rock, really, but awesome fun), or the absolutely huge amount of classwork I have already, but that's not for this blog. If you want a more detailed account of my days, you can always check out my study abroad blog on the Students Gone Global network, and don't worry, I have a proper post for this blog ready for next week. I hope you all have been enjoying your September!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Reality Check

This post alternatively titled: Mary Tries to Comes to Terms with Practical Fashion.

Readers, my wardrobe overhaul has been consuming my mind lately (packing did not help with that at all, trust me) and I have to come to a conclusion: my ideal wardrobe as I described it in this post and this one just wasn't realistic for me. Well, one part of it in particular. I know, the horror, right? To be precise, I'm talking about the fancy, high-necked and button-up "Victorian" blouses that I talked about. To be honest (and this sounds weird coming out of my mouth, trust me) it was just too fussy. Fancy all the time sounds great, but I don't think I can commit to it. It takes more effort, they're not great for mobility, they feel slightly stuffy, and a whole host of other reasons. (I'm not so self-disciplined that I could make myself deal with those just for some pretty clothes.)



So, what's a girl to do? Currently, my plan is to stock up on Victorian blouses for fancy wear but also on spookily-designed (and mostly black) t-shirts for daily wear. These are my staple nowadays, along with my tights/socks and knee-length fluffy skirts. They're comfortable, cute, versatile, and a much better fit to my lifestyle. I can indulge in fanciness and such on other days, should I chose to, but I don't want to build up a wardrobe of just fancy clothes and not have anything to wear when just running to the market or to class.

I know (or at least hope) that I shouldn't feel bad about this reassessment of my wardrobe needs, but somehow it bugs me. Am I giving up too soon? Am I just taking the easy-way out instead of going for something that I really want? The more I dwell on it, the more easily my answer comes to me: No. No, you're not giving up. This whole wardrobe overhaul was intended to help you reassess your closet and your needs as far as clothing goes, and you're doing just that. You're just being realistic, as hard as that may be to realize.

So, now I suppose I feel a bit better. Being practical and realistic isn't going to be so hard now, is it? And it opens up a whole new world of interesting choices for my wardrobe: printed t-shirts! I don't want to limit myself yet to the designs I'll pick, but in general I want to avoid logo-ed shirts and just stick to ones with a pretty graphic design or saying on them. These kinds of shirts can be found quite easily. Even Hot Topic has cool ones every once in a while, and any online "geek" store has even more. If I chose to design my own shirts, that's also an option, and will fit in quite nicely. Plus, these kinds of shirts are much cheaper than the fancy blouses I previously described, so I'll have more money to toss at lots of ruffly skirts (which I should be doing more of anyway...I really don't have enough skirts for a workable wardrobe.)

My one stipulation for these t-shirts is that I would prefer to limit the ones that have just "clever" words and phrases on them. Even the most clever of t-shirts becomes just silly and annoying if you wear it enough. Of course, this doesn't apply to all t-shirts, I'll just have to use my judgement. Like my t-shirt with the Grim Reaper sitting in a tea cup that is captioned "Death In A Tea Cup" is still cute to me whenever I look at it. Same with my "Despair & Cupcakes" shirt. But I have a feeling I'd grow tired of just wearing a shirt that says "YOU READ MY T-SHIRT, THAT'S ENOUGH SOCIAL INTERACTION FOR THE DAY." No offense meant if you happen to own or really like that shirt, of course. It's just not for me.


However, printed t-shirts are just the beginning. Plain ones in my wardrobe colors will probably be required, but there are also ones with lace overlay, appliques, patterned yokes, beadwork, ruching, bows, and many other design details. Finding those in the colors I love shouldn't be hard, and they'll make an interesting switch from just plain t-shirts without being as fussy as a fancy blouse.

I'm not sure if I'm going to try many DIY efforts with these shirts. I could try to add lace around the sleeves or bottom, or I could try to lower the neckline, but I'm not confident in my sewing skills to do so yet. I already ruined one t-shirt doing it (sadness, I know) and I can't find a replacement. I'll see where my sewing skills are later and perhaps try to alter them then. In non-DIY land (but still personal and customized) I can also get custom-printed t-shirts. I have a few ideas, but I need to borrow an artsy friend to help me really make them come to life.

Of course, to this collection of t-shirts and knee-length skirts would be added vests, jackets, corsets, cardigans, bustles, boleros, over skirts, and other items of clothing to vary things up. While some might think that a casual t-shirt looks odd when paired with a fancy skirt and cover-up, I think with the right balance it can be quite becoming. Take the example below: It has a relatively fancy skirt and bolero combination with added Hot Topic t-shirt (A Misfits band shirt, actually, though the logo is on the upper back and therefore covered by the bolero.) The use of pretty but plain-er shoes, non-ornate tights, and more casual hair accessory keeps the outfit balanced. Or, the second example above, where the lace print of the t-shirt is tied in to the lace of the skirt.




So, followers, have you ever had a change of heart or needed a reality check when trying to plan your closet? How did you resolve it?

Note: This post was prewritten and scheduled, as I knew I'd be busy. I'm currently on my way to get "settled" in my dorm room in Scotland and to get ready for a whole host of Orientation activities. I'll be sure to respond to any and all comments when I have a spare moment. I hope you all are having a great weekend!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jewelry crafting (and blog updates!)

By my next post, I'll be blogging from Stirling, Scotland. I can't believe it's so close already. I'm nothing but excited about this upcoming trip (which you can still read about here on my Study Abroad Blog). However, packing is still being a right pain, so I've decided to distract myself while I sit at home. My most successful idea so far has been to try and use up all of my craft supplies before I leave for Scotland. It's proved fruitful and fun! I've made everything from scrapbook-paper bats for my dorm room to decorated faux-candles (pictured below) using the Michael's ribbon I bought a little while ago.


However, the real fun was when I decided that I should start fixing up my jewelry to go along with my wardrobe-overhaul project!. I have some pieces that I just never wear, which is unfortunate when I think about it. So! I decided to go about fixing up everything! Here are the results:

Claire's sold lovely earrings in 2011 that were little corked glass bottles filled with black glitter that read "poison" on the side and had a skull-and-crossbones. I snatched them up, how cute! I thought. However, I never got much wear out of them because try as I might have said before, I'm not really an earring person, especially with cheap Claire's metal. So they sat in my jewelry box to tarnish. Then, I dug them up for this project! The first one I simply put on a necklace chain.


The matching pair, though, I completely overhauled, as you can see! Have I mentioned that I'm a huge fan of the television program Supernatural? Ah, yes, my Winchester feels. Anyway, for those unacquainted with the show, it's about siblings Sam and Dean Winchester who travel the country to fight monsters. It's geeky, adorable, funny, heart-wrenching and extremely well written. I'm in love. Anyway, whenever Sam and Dean have to get rid of a ghost, they have to salt and burn the bones. So, I emptied out the glitter from this necklace and put a piece of a matchstick in it and a few grains of rock salt, then sealed it with wax. Voila! Instant Supernatural necklace! I adore it to pieces.


Moving on from my fangirl-squeaking, but not quite from earrings yet, I also decided to do something about an Alchemy Gothic piece I've had for a while. You see, a few Christmases ago I opened a little box containing an Alchemy Gothic ear cuff. Thrilled at my first piece of Alchemy Gothic jewelry and at how gorgeous it was, I put it on. Ow! Along with me not being an earring person, this piece was made out of pewter and quite heavy. It made my ear hurt. So it also languished in the box for a while (being worn occasionally, because I loved it.) until I decided to pull it out to really do it justice. I removed the cuff part of the earring and the post and now it's a lovely necklace for me to wear!


My last piece that I converted from an earring to a necklace was from the year 2007. In 2007 I went to China when my family was adopting my little sister, Clara. However, we decided to do a bit of touristy things the week before we went to pick her up so that we could really enjoy our time abroad. As part of this, we went to a shop that sold beautiful pearl jewelry and had a tour of the pearl refining process. At the end of the tour I spent my money on a pair of black pearl drop earrings. Unfortunately, as we were trying to catch the train the next day, I lost the matching pair! I was heartbroken. I've long since had plans to make the remaining one into a necklace, and now I have! This picture doesn't do it justice, the pearls are actually beautiful mix of black, purples, greens, and reds (think of what you see when you see oil on a road. It's like that. Lovely.)


Now this is a piece I've mentioned on this blog before. This ring, that I got from Otakon 2010, is ridiculous, silly, and adorable. I had to have it. But, unfortunately, my usual wardrobe wear isn't quite so silly to allow it on a regular basis. So it languished in the box with the rest of the items. Then, I pulled it out, used wire cutters to remove the ring base, and stuck a piece of looped wire into the "frosting" (aided by a small dollop of glue) and voila! Instant silly but wearable necklace!


Lastly, I've been also putting this project off. This necklace started out as a multi-layer necklace with three chains, the shortest one holding a cross pendant. I bought it from Torrid in 2008 when I was first deciding to really get into Goth style (not just buy a lot of black clothes.) Unfortunately, it's no longer really my style. The triple layers get tangled and look a little odd to me. So, now that I'm in the crafting mood, why not? I removed the two longer chains (not sure what I'll do with those yet) and removed the cross-pendant from the shortest chain. Then, I put the necklace closer on the shortest chain to turn it into a necklace chain. Now I have a necklace charm and chain for whenever I need them!


That's all the jewelry modifications I've done! My little coffin box that holds my necklaces is now overflowing! Now to decide which ones to take with my on my trip...haha.

(I don't have enough chains to keep them all on separate ones, so I just switch off.)


Now, I've not just been up to playing around with my jewelry and a pair of wire cutters! I've also been playing around with my blog. I plan on beginning to only use my own pictures for my posts from now on because it's been a blogging ambition of mine for a while since using my own pictures makes the blog feel more "mine" than it ever was before. I might in the future go back to my older posts and start replacing those pictures with new ones (in so far that that can be done, my "shallow wants" posts and posts that reference specific people/products will remain the same.) But I'll keep you updated if I decide to do that.

Also, is there a specific topic you wanted me to talk about but I haven't gotten around to it? Now you can bring that topic to my attention through the "E-Mail Me" widget in the sidebar of my blog. I haven't tested it out yet, but I'm hoping it does work and that you guys have some suggestions for me!

So...next time I speak to you, it'll be from beautiful Scotland! See you guys next week!