During my first visit to Norway, I found myself alone in a hotel room fighting off the symptoms of jet lag. I grew tired of nodding off in bed at twelve in the afternoon and decided to take a walk around what would soon be my new hometown. Ten minutes into my chilly and sluggish stroll, I stumbled upon a coffee shop that immediately called to me. Not only was my body screaming for a surge of caffeine, but anyone that knows me can attest to my love for warm and inviting coffee houses. In a world full of cold and impersonal chain coffee shops, Kystpikene was a breath of fresh air that smelled of deliciously brewed coffee beans.
Kystpikene is located in Brekstad, Norway, a charming small city on the coast of the Trondheimsfjord. Kystpikene’s owners strive to provide a cozy atmosphere that welcomes visitors to sit inside the shop with adorable mismatching tables and comfy couch or at the outdoor seating area where blankets are often provided to keep customers warm on chilly days. A majority of the shop’s adornments are available for sale along with knitted items, jams, and other special treats. For those who appreciate a nice place to sit and read, the shop has a “take one, leave one” book corner.
I admit I can be a bit picky when it comes to my coffee. In my defense, my Cuban-American household has always taken coffee brewing very seriously so I was excited to see that I lived near a coffee house that definitely knows how to do coffee right. My favorite picks are the kaffe mocca if I’m in the mood for something to keep me warm from the often frigid norwegian weather and the iskrem kaffe, or ice cream coffee, for those days when everyone is out of their homes trying to soak up the warm sun.
Kaffe mocha for the chilly days.
Is crem kaffe for the warmer days.
Coffee is definitely not the only thing they do right here. On my first visit I tried some appetizing lunch items such as the Boboli Kylling and Pan Catalan. Their blueberry crumble is another do-not-miss item along with an array of mouth-watering desserts.
Pan Catalan, one of my favorites.
Must-try blueberry crumble.
If you ever find yourself taking a stroll through the coastal town of Brekstad, Norway in search for good coffee and delicious food or just want an inviting place to chat with friends or read a book, Kystpikene offers all that and more.
In complete honesty, I have never been quite fond of carnivals or the circus. My childhood saw the evolution of a somewhat irrational fear of clowns so my first thoughts of this summer’s International Lolita Day theme “Twilight Carnivale” did not initially illicit the warm fuzzy feelings I usually get when thinking about frilly meet ups and tasty tea time. I couldn’t help but laugh at my own silly reaction (I doubt there has ever been a scary clown print. Come on, Izzy!) and seconds later I was filled with excitement and eagerness to get a coordinate together for the event. It wouldn’t be until the very night before that I would settle for a chocolate-themed outfit centered around Angelic Pretty’s Wonder Party JSK.
The ticketed event was hosted by the Central Florida Lolita Society featuring Truly Darling Boutique at The Event Factory in Tampa, Florida. Every guest was presented with a small gift bag, raffle/carnival games tickets, and an adorable plush hamster key chain before entering. To say that the venue felt like stepping into a fantastical land would be an understatement. Soft twinkling lights adorned decorative trees while a castle backdrop provided a gorgeous setting for pictures within the main tea party room.
Located in the main space, as well, was the sales booth showcasing second-hand lolita items provided by special guest vendor, Wunderwelt. VIP ticket holders were allowed into the venue twenty minutes early for first picks of the shop, but there were still plenty of items to peruse through once it opened to general ticket holders. Soon, the sales booth was teeming with impressively dressed lolitas trying to squish their petticoats past each other for a look at the frills. I managed to snatch exactly what I was hoping to find: a nice princess-sleeved blouse. One can never have enough blouses to fluff up a wardrobe.
The shop after all the shopping!
As a lover of all things tea related, I am always in the mood for a good old-fashioned cup of tea accompanied by finger sandwiches and scones. However, I did not complain when I saw the unconventional yet deliciously inviting food that was being served. In accordance to the theme, carnival style fare such as mini hot-dogs and burgers, mac n’ cheese, popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy made me feel like a kid trying every treat at a midway fair. Thankfully for the traditionalist part in me, pots of tea were all the same in attendance at each table.
Diet cheat day food
Basil the hamster
Set up just outside the main room were carnival-style games where guests could win extra tickets for the raffle held just after tea. Attendees were given three carnival tickets at the start of the event which could be traded for a try at the games. “Popcorn bucket beer pong”, as many of us jokingly called it, was one where guests had three tries to get a ping-pong ball in the correct popcorn bucket containing an extra raffle ticket. Another game tested guest’s luck by having them choose the floating rubber duck with a specific number written on the bottom. My my favorite game, however, was “pin the bow on the gator mascot”. A very talented community member painted our Central Florida Lolita Society alligator-with-a-bow mascot and guests were asked to spin and blindly pin the bow on the gator. Certainly a fun sight, but my lack of coordination and clumsiness would have probably left me on the floor after a few spins. The raffle prizes were plentiful and ranged from cute stationary to OTKs, hair bows, brand novelty items, and even bags and dresses. A coordinate contest was also held and three lovely participants won their own set of gift for their spectacular outfits.
OTKs won by lolita at my table
Bows won by lolita at my table
Definitely one of the more exciting aspects of the event came from the newest addition to Truly Darling’s original prints. My disdain for carnivals and circuses melted immediately when I saw how adorable their new Tiny Cat Circus print is. The series is very reminiscent of ring leader jackets with pretty gold trimming on the bodice and adorable circus cats adorning the skirt. The large bow on the side of the dress caught my attention as it brought such elegance to the dresses. Truly Darling had both the OP and JSK along with an enchantingly quirky moon-faced bag up for reserve at the event. The series is available for reserve on their website from June 3rd to June 24th. I will link their shop down below.
Kim Darling modeling the OP and moon bag.
Tiny Cat Circus JSK
Headbows for sale at the event
The three hour ILD event flew by and I didn’t want to say goodbye to my frilly friends. In the midst of negative attention that had recently befallen our community, I openly invited this time to catch up with friends and appreciate all the hard work done by so many members of our comm. There will always be moments of turmoil and drama, but at the end of it all we always seem to come back to what matters the most: friends doing what makes them happy and sharing that happiness with each other. It would be naive to think that everything will always be rainbows and lollipops, but I am ever grateful to have met and continue to meet so many great people through this shared hobby. I know how much trust means to so many members of our group and although I joined a mere two-and-a-half years ago, I have enjoyed my time spent with my fellow lolitas and wish to see this community continue to flourish.
There is something soothing about the sound of spoons softly clinking against the inside of a tea cup or the delicate smell of hot tea floating through the air. As I stepped into the lovely gift shop at the entrance of The Empress Tea Room in Tampa, Florida, I let those familiar sounds and smells quell my ever present anxiety. A few of my fellow lolitas had already arrived and I couldn’t help but marvel at everyone’s adorable outfits before noticing the buzz of multiple conversations coming from the dining area. It was a full house and I was excited to get my hands on some tea and finger sandwiches.
Upon sitting at our table, each lolita in attendance was gifted a box of chocolates, a card featuring Truly Darling’s new print “Aurora Valentine”, and a Truly Darling unicorn necklace. This was my first time at The Empress Tea Room although the local comm has been hosting meet ups there for approximately 9 years. The entire staff was absolutely delightful and attended to our every need, making sure our tea pots and tummies were satisfyingly full. Pomegranate mimosa awaited those of us twenty-one and over as a special treat courtesy of The Empress Tea Room (have I already mentioned they are so nice??). My favorite part of the tea experience was definitely the delectable scones with fresh Devonshire cream and the large chocolate covered strawberry.
Truly Darling’s collaborating designers and hostesses of our meet-up stirred an obvious buzz of excitement with their three new series. Featured above is the OP version of Aurora Valentine with its celestial gradient shades, delicate lace lined sleeves, and depictions of adorable cherubs as the border print. The elegant gold trim on the collar and detailed cuffs called out to me and I held back the urge to grab the entire dress form by the waist and run off with it. Thankfully, I suppressed all criminal intent to make away with the dress and returned to admiring the unmissable effort put into the details of this classical print.
Anyone close to me can agree that I have a weakness for cute pastel things and this particular weakness is why Truly Darling’s new Sweet Animal Cafe print had me squealing in delight the moment I laid my eyes on it. Modeled by Truly Darling’s very own co-designer, Rosie Darling, these pictures showcase the OP version of Sweet Animal Cafe in all its adorable pastel glory. The bow in the picture above is an Angelic Pretty bow placed upon the dress’ matching head piece. I was informed that the head piece was not complete yet but would be in time for the print’s release. The dress features sweet animal shaped desserts such as puppy doughnuts and kitty macarons. If that doesn’t scream “ultimate sweet lolita wonderland” then I don’t know what does!
Lastly, the duo unveiled a both lovely and unexpected surprise. For the lifestyle lolitas out there or for anyone who wants to incorporate a cute aesthetic into their daily lives, Truly Darling will be selling sleepwear not devoid of elegance while keeping comfort in mind. Above are pictures of the light pink and lavender models of the sleepwear series appropriately named Sweet Dreamers. The sheer fabric of both nighties was so soft and both the square and heart versions of the matching bags were made of a plush material that made me want to never stop touching them.
As a cherry on top for the event, the hostesses had an array of lucky packs available for sale. I got the accessories pack and received a pair of ultra sweet mint/pink/white OTKs, a much needed mint hair bow that I do not doubt I will be using very soon, a beautiful pastel pink rosette with lace detailing, and a fuzzy pink heart clip I will shamelessly add to my arsenal of cute accessories. Other lolitas who bought the larger lucky packs were surprised with JSKs of varying brands and accessories to match. I have also included a closer look at the gorgeous necklace that I cannot wait to pair with Crystal Dream Carnival!
I am quite sad to think that this might have been my last tea meet-up before my husband and I pack up and start our lives in Norway. I am happy, however, that I got to spend a wonderful afternoon enjoying the company of friends and delicious food served by The Empress Tea Room. If you wish to learn more about Truly Darling’s brand and other services I will include their social media links below!
On an unusually cold and cloudy Florida day thousands upon thousands of Harry Potter fans crowded the magical streets of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort for the annual event, A Celebration of Harry Potter. I found myself amidst a throng of wide-eyed adults marveling at the amazingly detailed shops of […]
On an unusually cold and cloudy Florida day thousands upon thousands of Harry Potter fans crowded the magical streets of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort for the annual event, A Celebration of Harry Potter. I found myself amidst a throng of wide-eyed adults marveling at the amazingly detailed shops of Diagon Alley, their children at their sides frantically waving their interactive wands in simple patterns to activate the numerous “spells” located throughout the park. The chilly wind ruffled countless student robes that identified each guest to their respective Hogwarts house. Virtually everyone displayed their house colors proudly as scarves wrapped around their necks. If I had to choose between being alone at home watching Netflix and shoving my way through a giant crowd of people, I would normally gravitate toward binge watching Korean dramas online. However, that was not the case this day. On this day, I was home.
The stories of Harry Potter have been an obsession of mine for most of my life as it has been for many others who have been and continue to be enchanted by the tales of magic, friendship, and bravery at the hands of evil and prejudice. I was immediately enthralled by the otherworldly accounts of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and I spent most of my middle school lunches secretively reading about their adventures at the school’s library. At the time, my mother had been swept up in the controversy sparked by church groups that condemned Harry Potter as “books from the devil”. As the skeptic I have always been, I ignored her warnings of being “lured into hell by witchcraft” and they did not stop me from feeling a personal attachment to the kids in these stories. I proclaimed at that early age that I would have been sorted into Gryffindor, just like Harry, and I have remained a devoted fan ever since.
Although I have been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort many times, this was my first time at this event and it was a day to remember. The celebration itself lasts three days with a variety of scheduled events including wand choreography, costume contests, and a Q&A session with actors from the movies. I only went Saturday and couldn’t do much. A word of advice for any interested in this celebration: get there early and get ready to wait in lines. A lot of lines. Nevertheless, I was more than happy with my experience.
Held within two of Universal Orlando Resort’s many sound stages, the Harry Potter Expo showcased a few interesting exhibits. For those who thought they knew all sevens books inside and out, there was an audio trivia contest where participants listened to excerpts from the books through headphones and identified which book the reading was from on a touch screen. Fans of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were not forgotten as a line formed for a chance to wear a VR headset and wave your “wand” in order to help Newt catch some escaped creatures. My absolute favorite part of the Expo was the Harry Potter Mosaic. The attendant explained that guests were able to post their pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #harrypottercelebration and they would print in an almost mini-Poloroid format at their station. Within forty-five minutes, fans were able to pick their pictures up from the booth while copies of them were arranged in an extravagant mosaic slowly forming an image of Hogwarts castle.
As I made my way through the winding path of Diagon Alley, I stopped to ask a couple of guests about their most favorite aspect of A Celebration of Harry Potter. Almost everyone mentioned that they love gawking at the extensive details and oftentimes inventive cosplay worn by the very fans themselves. One yellow and black clad Hufflepuff perfectly described that he “felt like [he was] actually in the world of Harry Potter walking with students and professors…” I couldn’t hold back a smile watching the youngest of Harry Potter devotees tug at their parent’s sleeve and ask if that really was Hermione who just walked by in her fancy Yule Ball gown or hear them giggle at the sight of Professor Snape dressed as Neville’s grandmother.
I am shameless in admitting that I most look forward to food served at any event so it was no surprised that I was ecstatic to try every magical treat I could get my hands on. Generally on my visits to The Wizarding World I will drift toward the much loved Butterbeer poured at multiple locations through the two parks. Personal Opinion Alert: the frozen Butterbeer is ten times better than the regular liquid version. This time, however, I decided to expand my horizons and stopped by Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour and sank my spoon into Butterbeer flavored soft-serve. I was not disappointed with the delicious butterscotch-vanilla swirl ice cream and finished it in record time despite my husband’s incredulous stare. Among the numerous, and often oddly named (Fishy Green Ale??), drinks at The Wizarding World one can always find yummy Pumpkin Juice with it’s signature pumpkin shaped topper in snack carts or within Honeydukes. To my sweet-toothed readers planning on visiting this fantastic place please do not forget to make a stop at Honeydukes. Straight from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s otherworldly stories Honeydukes features treats you never thought you would be able to hold in your hands such as Fizzing Whizzbees, Exploding Bon-Bons, and Chocolate Frogs.
This is a must-see event for any Harry Potter fanatics such as myself. If you find yourself making your way to Orlando, Florida make sure to pack your wizard’s robes and dust off your magic wand and enjoy the overdose of magic you will find here.
Disclaimer: This is solely my personal review and all pictures were taken by me. I do not own any of the character or location names. All rights go to Warner Bros, J.K. Rowling, and Universal Orlando Resort.