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17 Before 2017

The idea of this is something that's been around for a few years - I honestly have no idea when it started or who even started it - but it seems to come out of the woodwork around this time of year. I've managed to catch on early this year, or at least earlier than I might usually, so I actually stand a chance of getting these done!

I'm not going to hold myself to account if I don't get all 17 items ticked off the list. These are things to aim towards, that range from sewing, to household tasks, to personal affairs and some gaming. It's not a failing if I don't get them done, it'd just be nice to be able to tick off these before the new year starts :)

Writing up the list in my bullet journal makes it feel official!

  1. Clear out wardrobe
    This is a 2 parter really. I have lots of old clothes I barely wear any more, for various reasons, and it's about time I sorted through them and sent them to a charity shop. But I also have a habit of dumping stuff in the back of my wardrobe, mostly shoes and cosplay bits, which could definitely also do with a clear out.
  2. Completely sort spare room
    Our spare room is also my sewing/cosplay room. It's a difficult balance to maintain, because the room is quite small and most of the space is taken up by a double bed. Every time we have someone to stay, I make sure it's as tidy as possible (not always that possible), but I'd really love to have it tidy and clean 100% of the year round. Where all of the sewing and cosplay stuff has a place to live, that definitely isn't the floor, and is all sort of 'hidden' away.
  3. Get Wordpress up and running
    My blog is currently hosted on Blogger, but I'd like to make a switch to Wordpress next year, in order to expand the customisation I can do here. This task is mostly about committing to spending the money on a Wordpress plan and making the most of it. I may yet decide to leave this for another year, we'll see how the next task goes!
  4. Stick to a blog schedule
    Life gets busy and I find it hard to find the time to post up new blogs. Really, the only thing holding me back is taking photos to accompany the text! As of writing this, I currently have 19 drafts in various stages of doneness, but I know at least 3 of them are just waiting for photos. The aim is to have 1 post a week (currently on a Saturday), but I won't give myself a hard time if that slips now and then!
  5. Sew new clothesI have a stack of patterns that I've bought or acquired over the years most of which I still haven't sewn up. If #1 goes well, I'll be able to replace some of those clothes with things I actually like wearing. I'm not a big fan of clothes shopping, because I find it hard to find stuff I actually like or stuff that fits, so I'd really like to get into the habit of making my own clothes more often.
  6. Use up fabric stash
    Leading on, somewhat directly from the previous, I have a large(ish) fabric stash that is currently sitting unused. The majority of it is left over from previous cosplays but I inevitably always find myself needing to buy new fabric for my next cosplay. So I need to use it up, hopefully on some clothes for me!
  7. Complete Unity course
    I bought a Unity course on Udemy a few months ago, and though I've dabbled with it, I haven't got very far. I'm not aiming to become a games designer or programmer, but I do have a couple of game ideas that I'd like to work on in my spare time.
  8. Finish FFXIV questline (up to 3.4)
    It took me a year to finish the 2.0 storyline (but that beast is lengthy), then it took about 6 months for me to reach 3.0, which I am currently on. I often get distracted by crafting or other classes, so if I try to make a push with my White Mage, I'm sure to make it to the end of 3.4 (which came out this week), by the end of the year. It helps that the 3.x patch storylines are considerably shorter!
  9. Open an Etsy shop
    This is something I'm a little scared of doing, but I'd like to see how it goes. One day, I'd love to be sewing full time as a job, and opening an Etsy store is just one step towards that. I need to plan some good makes and see if I can get my name out there a little. Which does mean I need to come up with a good store name, it's not as simple as you think!
  10. Stick to a chores scheduleI am pretty good with getting my chores done, but they do sometimes get left for a week longer than they should. Really, all need to do is sit down and make a list of everything I need to do on a regular basis (washing, cleaning the bathroom etc.) and then assign days and stick to it. Simple!
  11. Use exercise bike regularly
    I bought an exercise bike last month in an effort to get a bit fitter and to lose some weight. Though I was pretty good in the first 2 weeks or so, after that I was quite ill and couldn't really use it. I think half an hour 3 times a week is an acceptable aim. This should probably go on the list I need to make above.
  12. Complete a Duolingo course
    This one isn't particularly high on the priority list, but at the beginning of the year I was doing pretty well with the French course and then I stopped for a couple of days (for some reason) and never managed to start up again. I also started the German one, because I'm going to Germany in February for the FFXIV Fan Fest. So I'd like to finish either one, or at least make a good start again at doing it every day.
  13. Get wedding photos printed
    It's over a year after the wedding and we still haven't got any wedding photos printed, aside from a photobook I created last year! The photobook is great and is basically our wedding photo album, but we got several frames as presents and I'd like to be able to fill them with single photos from the day. I also have a large frame that's made up of individual frames which I've had for years, that I'd like to fill with a range of wedding photos. We just need to find some time to sit down and chose our favourites.
  14. Handmake (some) Christmas presents
    Frankly, this is something I want to do every year, but usually think of it far too late. I don't know how many presents I'll be able to make this year (hence to 'some'), but hopefully this is early enough to start thinking that I will be able to get some made!
  15. Grow nice nails
    I often struggle with my nails and go through periods where they're really not very strong and seem to stay permanently short. Somehow magically, I managed to grow them nicely for the wedding. Since then? Not so nice and I think I need to give them a bit of help towards growing strong and staying long.
  16. Watch more anime
    Usually it feels like I'm spending so much of my time making cosplay that I don't have time to watch anime any more. I have a backlog of half watched series or things I want to start, nevermind the new ones that come out every season. I need to get back on watch them, hopefully whilst on the exercise bike!
  17. Finish in progress games
    Basically, I spend too much of my gaming time playing Final Fantasy XIV. I need to give other games a go (whilst I still want to catch up with the quest in XIV, we'll see how that goes). On the list of games I've started and need to finish are: Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XIII (sensing a theme?), Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Assassin's Creed Syndicate (a Christmas present last year) and Little Big Planet 3 (on loan from someone at work, so I should really make it a priority!)
    Not to mention the pile of games I haven't even started yet, for now, I want to concentrate on finishing the started ones.
At the end of the year or the beginning of the next, I'll update you with what I was able to get done. Here's hoping it's all 17 of them!

Continue reading 17 Before 2017

Pokemon TCG (Oh no)

You may be coming here from Youtube (which you can watch here if you haven't already - opening the Darkai Mythical Collection box), or you may have no idea what I'm about to say, but sit down and let me tell you a story - it's a short one, don't worry.

A few months ago, a friend of mine was posting pictures of some of the new Pokemon cards he'd got. I was vaguely interested because, well, I like Pokemon. That night I had a dream about the cards. I can't exactly remember it now, from what I can remember I was simply opening up a bunch of booster packs. And thus, a very tiny seed was planted, one I didn't notice at the time.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I was watching a vlog on YouTube (from BayleeJae) and she was opening Pokemon cards or talking about them. I thought about the dream I had and I thought 'well, it'd be nice to collect cards again, but I have no one to play with!'. I tweeted such a thought and a couple of people replied to me. Good news! But what would I collect? I'd probably just want one of every Pokemon, I'm not interested in collecting the sets' I said to myself.


I watched a few more videos about Pokemon cards, branched out to some random searches. The urge grew. I happened to be planning to pop into Game later that day to trade in some games, and thought whilst I was there I might as well get some cards for the fun of it. I even got a cute little Gyarados pin!

Settled. I opened them, enjoyed them. Watched some more videos. The next day I was definitely becoming hooked. So much so, that by the afternoon, I'd decided I wanted to start collecting sets, I just didn't know which ones! Then the fact that they have a 20th anniversary one did it for me. I proceeded to have a poke around, and ended up buying 2 of the anniversary sets.

Now I'm totally hooked. I've branched out into other sets. I've bought a couple of premade decks to play with people.

It was my intention to start opening them in videos in order to a) give me an excuse to actually start my YouTube channel, something I've been meaning to do for a while and b) perhaps just very slightly legitimise the buying of the cards. Yeah I know, that last one is a little shakey, I admit! But I haven't been able to stop myself just opening them when I get them, instead of waiting to record it, oops!

Still, I don't intend to stop buying them any time soon, and I certainly want to complete the Generations set. There'll be plenty more to come, and there can definitely be some videos if I get off my but. You just wait =)
Continue reading Pokemon TCG (Oh no)

Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

I've had this pattern and the fabric in my stash since February and I finally managed to push myself into making it - with the promised reward of Pokemon cards at the end, whoops! I wanted to make a short version that was lined - way to start hard - and decided I'd like a nice grey denim skirt. I got this Cotton Chambray Denim from Minerva Crafts and decided to line it in some of the leftover satin I had from my Midnight Mauve dress, since I live the combination of grey and purple together. The buttons I stole from an old jacket I have. They kept falling off so I stopped sewing them back on, which meant they were hanging around in my button tin, waiting for the perfect project to come by. I'll be honest, I wasn't hugely convinced buttons would be enough to hold it together, but I was pleasantly surprised and they certainly look nice.

I'll be honest, I'm not 100% happy with it, mainly the lining. However, that is entirely my own fault as I sort of skipped over some of the steps when attaching the lining to the facings. I guess I wasn't in the mood to be precise and I can be a lazy sewer quite often! Still, I keep telling myself that's on the inside and no one will notice, so perhaps in time I'll forget it even happened. Also, satin was perhaps not the best choice of lining. The skirt has ended up slightly big on my waist - though I have yet to wash it, so we'll see if that improves - but the slipperiness of the lining also means it has a habit of riding up. After a day of wearing, it's not as bad as I feared, but I do still have to tug it down periodically during the day just in case!

Construction was pretty easy aside from the lining, whipped it up in a couple of hours. Despite the laziness with my lining, I did bother to press my seams open! The hem isn't perfect either, but let's stop poking holes. This is definitely a wearable skirt, although I'm not sure if I'd make it again to be honest. Maybe I'll give the longer one a go, to stop my paranoia about it riding up.
Continue reading Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

A Lack of Cosplay Lately

I'm having a bit of a funny turn with cosplay lately.

Since MCM I've worked on very little cosplay, despite having several plans for Amecon lined up, and you know what? I'm okay with that. I've taken a break, albeit it an unplanned one, and I'm good with that. If I 'only' take 4 (or fewer) cosplay to Amecon, that's fine, I'll live! I'm not about to go without sleep just to squeeze in some extra cosplays to wear - it may turn out to be the most relaxing con yet, we'll see.
But of course, it's crossed my mind that maybe I'm coming to the end of my time in cosplay. Maybe I'm at a natural lull and it won't pick up again - and once again, I'm okay with that!

And yet, I still have plans. I still want to enter ECG this year, I still have 3 big project cosplays I'd love to do next year. I can't fit the 2 together just yet - taking an extended break and yet having big plans that'd be fun to construct.

Not to mention that there are still a bunch of events I'd love to go to. I'm off to the FFXIV fanfest in Germany in February, and I definitely want to cosplay for that! Plus I'd love to go back to Japan Expo again, nevermind all the smaller UK cons where I get to chill for the weekend with my friends.
Maybe I just need to take an attitude to it like the one I'm taking to Amecon next year. It doesn't matter if I have a cosplay for every day of a con. It doesn't matter if half of them are rewears. I can enjoy my life, even when I'm not making cosplay! Maybe I can work on a big project, slowly, over a period of months, and wear it whenever it's complete.

We'll see what happens I suppose, it just seems to be a interesting turn of events in my head! =)
Continue reading A Lack of Cosplay Lately

Perceived Perfection

Lately I have come to realise that I need to stop treating cosplay with so much sincerity and relax and have fun with it more often.

I apologise as this is likely to be a long, rambley post, but I feel like writing it out will help me feel better about it. And who knows, maybe I'm not the only one.

Let's start at the beginning.

I was first introduced to cosplaying in 2007 when I was only 15. At the time it was all about having fun, wearing the characters I loved and being the typical young Expo fan. I grew up. I went to uni. I made new friends. Cosplay was still a pretty big part of my life. I learned about competitions. I started taking pride in making things well. And I kept finding myself not enjoying events as much as I used to, or as much as I wanted or expected to.

Slowly over time I've been reaching a point where I was convinced I would have to give up. It's stressful and it's expensive, I think we all know that. However the outcome of it is usually supposed to offset that. Whether that's by winning competitions, having someone take your picture or just having a good time with friends. I just haven't been finding the end result enough to justify the journey, as it were. I absolutely love my friends and adore spending time with them, but that doesn't have to be in a cosplay context. The cosplay itself? Well that usually makes me feel unhappy more than anything else.

Then a few weeks ago, at LSCC, I think I worked out the problem. I take cosplay too seriously. I treat it like everything has to be just right. I don't judge others like that mind you, just me. I looked at other people's cosplays and they weren't perfect. There were bits missing, hot glue strands peeking out, wigs lopsided. But it didn't matter. They were still recognisable. They'd still put in a lot of hard work. And more importantly, they were having fun.

I've lost that sense of fun. I don't quite know how or when. I've stopped enjoying making and wearing cosplays because I'm judging myself against a ridiculously high standard that it suitable only for the top competitions. In the competitive world it's fine to be like that, it's expected, but why am I behaving like that the rest of the time as well? I've told myself to be a good cosplayer I need to be perfect, which really isn't true. I'm drowning in a sea of perfection that doesn't exist. One that I've created out of some misplaced sense of 'doing it right'.

I am slowly relearning that mistakes are okay, remembering that we learn from them and let's be honest, we rarely notice the 'mistakes' on other people's cosplays anyway. Whilst making Meiko I'm letting some of those mistakes pass, I'm taking a few shortcuts that won't even affect the outside view of the cosplay in the end, but they sure do make my life easier. And you know what? I'm already much happier with it.

It is a slow process though, partly because I've spent so many years winding myself up in this tight ball of perfection that it's going to take some time to let go. This is part of the reason I've let the blog go over the last few weeks, I just couldn't keep on top of that along with everything else. I'm going to get over the Kita hump, as it were, and see where I'm at post that. Hopefully I'll be in a good place to start on some new cosplays again and I'll be able to jazz up the blog with some more excitement.

There's so much I still want to do. I just need to find a way to enjoy it again,
Continue reading Perceived Perfection