Saturday, May 31, 2014

Yay or Nay?

Do you spend your money wisely or frivolously?

If we had unlimited amount of money, we'd buy everything on sight. As shopaholics, you know we're dangerous to ourselves and to society.  Add our obsession, Sanrio, into the mix and it spells disaster. This is why our enablers keep us on a leash. 
Well, at least, mine does...

Here are three products that I'd like to focus on, whether or not it's worth your buck:

Pic Provided by IG

Biore is a company that specializes in skincare products, so that wins my confidence! A rare Sanrio product that comes in liquid form that I wouldn't mind purchasing. Although, it's a cute collaboration, I have a feeling that paranoia Nancy will have something to say that will prevent me from spending my hard earned money. She'll probably mention the glaring fact that I'm just buying it for the My Melody sticker that's pasted on the Biore brand. 
I can hear her now...

paranoia Nancy: you bad, girl! (with a thick Asian accent)
Me: But, Nancy--- 
paranoia Nancy: Waste money! Go buy doll instead!

 With a HK costume? Perfect accessory! 
Stand alone product?

Not everyone is going to associate a bow to the feline cat, especially outside of Asia. When I buy something, I'd like to show off that I am a Hello Kitty lover. I'd like people to know that I'm representing my favorite Sanrio character.

This was sold on Sanrio Japan's website awhile ago

When I buy Kitchen appliances, I expect my Sanrio products to be different from the norm. Pasting a sticker seems like a waste of creativity in terms of character branding design. The designers were probably going for simplicity to attract the adult fans, but what made their kawaii products stand apart from regular standard appliances, was their quirky designs. Most people don't want what everyone else has-- they want to have something that makes their home stand apart from the average suburban home.

Friday, May 30, 2014

How to Clean Plushes

You can read at the original source here or continue reading below.

Stuffe & Nonsense Lore: Cleaning Stuffed Animals

How should I clean plush toys?

Your best plan is not getting the plush in a condition such that it needs cleaning, but since you're already looking for cleaning information I guess it's too late for that. So in the future keep your stuffe away from whatever soiled it this time -- or vice versa. Information here applies only to stuffed animals or plush toys made with a fabric covering of fake fur. The faux fur may be synthetic materials (usually polyester, acrylic or modacrylic) or natural materials (usually wool, wool/cotton, mohair, or alpaca). Objects with a real fur or leather covering would need different treatment.
From making soft sculptures and selling stuffed animals we have had a bit of experience with cleaning, and more from having a house full of plush (about 200, not counting our own handmade stuffed animals in storage or under construction). But most of our cleaning experience came when we were buying and re-selling "previously loved" toys. Quite a few of the recycled animals we sold required various amounts of cleaning and repair after they were rescued from the flea market, garage sale or thrift store. Possibly Candy's greatest cleaning success was salvaging a bag full of soiled unicorns from Southern California.
Note: Stuffe & Nonsense is not responsible for any damage to your toys that may occur from following cleaning suggestions listed here! Any cleaning products you plan to use will probably have a similar disclaimer on their container.

Dusting and preening

These steps aren't really "cleaning" -- rather basic maintenance. But it's good to know about basic maintenance, and any more serious cleaning ends with preening. So we're going to start here anyway.
The basic tools for plush care are a hair brush and a damp cloth. An old terry washcloth is perfect for the damp cloth. Wet the cloth and wring it out well; we're talking damp here, not wet. Get a hair brush to be used only on the plush. Synthetic fur does not need to pick up hair care products transferred from a brush used by people. Brushes with metal bristles, intended for pet care, can work very well on plush but can tear up the backing fabric if not used carefully. You want a brush with well-spaced stiff plastic bristles for most uses.
A vacuum cleaner and a lint roller are additional options for dusting.
Rub the surface of the plush lightly with the damp cloth to clean off dust, pet hair, food crumbs or whatever else has gotten onto the fur. Use the hair brush to straighten and arrange the nap of the plush, fluff flattened fur or smooth ruffled fur. For long fur, use the brush gently to separate snarls. Remember that any hair pulled out with the brush probably will not grow back, so brush gently. The brush will also lift out dust or debris buried in the fur. Give the surface another swipe with the damp cloth after brushing to remove anything the brush lifted.
A lint roller can be used instead of a damp cloth. The lint roller works especially well on pet hair. In our house there are four cats and a dog as well as lots of plush, and plushes that are near cat walkways have to get lint-rolled fairly often.
Pay attention to the style of fur you're working with! Don't brush out a plush surface that is supposed to look felted, tangled or woolly. Stick to lint rollers or vacuums for such material.

Vacuum cleaners

If your plush has accumulated a LOT of dust, you can use a vacuum cleaner on it. First, detach the carpet sweeper. No matter what the vacuum's manufacturer says about short-pile or long-pile adjustments you do NOT want to use that on your plush toy! A dusting brush attachment is good if you've got one, or just use the end of the vacuum hose if you're very deft. Preen with a hair brush and follow behind the brush with the vacuum. If there are costume or accessory parts on the plush, be sure not to suck them into the vacuum.

Immediate cleanup

You can minimize later cleanup woes by promptly handling any spills that get on a plush surface. If something liquid lands on a stuffed animal, do not try to wipe it off. Wiping motions will just force the liquid down into the fur more. Instead, do what an actual wet critter would do: shake. Vigorously shake off as much of the liquid as possible. You may want to do the shaking over a towel or a tile floor or outside, but do the shaking as quickly as possible so the liquid does not get a chance to soak in. Blot any remaining dampness by dabbing the surface with paper towels or a dry sponge. Dab, don't wipe! No sense spreading the stain around.
Once the spot is just damp, dilute the spill by dabbing with a wet sponge. Then blot with cloth or paper towels. Repeat several times to remove as much of the spilled material as possible.

Surface cleaning

... is the only kind of cleaning you ought to be doing on plush.
For surface cleaning you'll want to use an upholstery cleaner or a mild detergent in water. We've had good success with the Woolite products, both detergent and upholstery cleaner. (Other people have told us that Woolite is terrible and horrible and should never be used on anything. Your Mileage May Vary) If you have very hard water you may want to use bottled water to clean with. Spot-cleaning products or alcohol may also be used for surface cleaning, but test such solvents very carefully.
Before using any cleanser on a plush, test for compatility on an inconspicuous spot. An "inconspicuous" spot is generally a spot that is underneath when the toy sits in its normal posture. Since you just want a "spot" test, put a bit of your cleanser on a small applicator like a Q-Tip and wet the test spot. Wait until the test spot dries. Brush off any dried cleanser residue and examine the test spot. Is it still the same color? Especially look for a ring of lighter or darker discoloration around the test area. Pull the fur in the test spot and be sure it's not falling out. If you see any problems with the test area, you'll need to pick a different cleaning product or live with whatever it was you wanted to clean out.
Remove costuming or accessories before any serious cleaning exercises. These are usually tacked on with a few stitches of heavy thread. Use pointed scissors or a seam ripper to snip the fastening threads. Make a note or take a photo so after cleaning you can tack the accessory back on where it was. Sometimes ribbons or other decorations are just tied on and can untie easily.
After a successful test, use your selected cleansing product to clean the plush. Have enough cleaner to clean the whole toy. Once you take the step of using a cleaner or detergent, you will generally need to clean the whole object rather than just a problem spot. Especially with older toys, one clean patch will usually look different than the rest of the animal. Even with a tested cleaner, proceed with caution. A cleaner that is fine for the base material may damage nose or paw-pad fabric, or affect air-brushed details.
Use just enough cleanser to thoroughly wet the plush and the backing material, avoid letting much soak through to the stuffing. A sponge is generally the best applicator, and gives you good control over the amount of cleanser applied to the plush. A plush soaked with cleaner looks about as glamorous as a dog or a cat getting a bath, but at least it won't claw your face off or shake soapy water all over everything.
After cleaning, let the plush dry completely, then use dusting and preening techniques to clean out the cleanser residue. Vacuuming can be a great aid now if you used upholstery cleaner. Replace any removed accessories or decorations.


All cautions aside, it is possible to wash many plush toys. But it's much safer to stick to surface cleaning. Washing should be a last resort because there is risk of damage. We have washed quite a few stuffed animals and have mostly had good results, but we have also thrown out a few items. One large sheep took on a most un-natural shape; after washing it was not at all sheepshape and had to be sent off to the rendering plant.
Check a few things first to see if the plush is a reasonable candidate for washing. Read the tag on the item for possible information on construction and materials.
  • Is it stuffed with fiberfill? Toys stuffed with styrene foam, foam beads or excelsior must not be washed. Things stuffed with synthetic fiber (usually polyester fiber) or plastic beads are candidates for washing.
  • Is it stuffed really firmly? Does it feel like a pillow or like a log when you squeeze it? Even if the toy is stuffed with synthetic fiber, if it's stuffed very firmly it may never dry out after washing, and shifts in the stuffing may ruin the shape.
  • Does it have stiffeners in it? Plastic stiffeners can shift out of place. Cardboard or hardboard stiffeners can collapse or disintegrate. Metal stiffeners can corrode. Washing anything with stiffeners or shapers in it is risky.
  • Does it have joints? Joints are another risk area for washing. Plastic joints are not affected by water, but are not very strong and can fall apart. Hardboard joints use hardboard that can soften or warp when wet, and metal fasteners that can rust after getting wet.
  • Is it made of synthetic fibers? Or is it made of fancy mohair/wool/alpaca stuff? It is not a good idea to try to wash mohair/wool/alpaca.
  • Does it have clothing or accessories? If so, can they be removed? Any clothing or other accessories will need to be removed before washing, or you run a terrible chance of some very interesting "bleeding". (You know, like when not separating out your red shirt from the rest of the wash gives you pink underwear.)
  • Is it just too darned big? A stuffed animal less than about 18 inches in its largest dimension can probably be judged "small". As the stuffed animal gets larger you run into greater chance of problems during washing, as the parts of the animal get pushed around inside the washing machine. Drying also poses more of a challenge for larger animals. That said, we have washed an Avanti snow leopard that's about 5 feet from nose to tail-tip and it came out fine.
As a general rule, the more expensive the plush, the less likely it is safe to wash. If you've got a soiled item that looks like a washing candidate, put it in a cloth bag -- a pillowcase is excellent -- tie the bag closed and toss it in for washing. The plush (and the bag) must fit loosely inside the washing machine. Use a bag of some reasonably sturdy woven fabric, not a mesh bag like those intended for washing hosiery. The goal here is to protect the surface of the fake fur so you don't get any split ends or felting or other physical damage from the washing process. You can put more than one plush per bag, as long as they all fit loosely in the bag.
By "wash" we mean cold water wash and cold water rinse with mild detergent on a gentle cycle. If you don't have access to a good washing machine with a gentle cycle, stick to surface cleaning. Laundromat washers seldom have a "gentle" cycle, even if they do have a button labelled that way. If at all possible use a front-loading machine, especially for large plush. For detergent, we've had good results with Woolite. Don't even think about bleach, nor fabric softener.
After washing, take the still-tied bag out of the washer. If the toy was safe to wash, it's usually safe to dry, too. Air drying is OK, but puts you at risk of getting mildew started inside the stuffing. Still in its protective bag, put it in a clothes dryer for a cycle on a gentle, low-temperature setting. Two cycles may be necessary to dry larger plushes thoroughly, or when you are washing more than one item at a time.

Reading the tag

Tags on a stuffed animal usually have information about materials and construction, and may even have specific care suggestions. Look for a cloth tag sewn into a seam. There may also be something useful on the drop tags. Here are samples of information from tags found on some plush toys on a shelf near my computer.
All new material
Outer: 100% polyester
Inner: Polyester fibre
...To prevent product migration do not wash by hand or machine...
That line about "product migration" makes it sound like it might fly South for the winter if it's washed. But the caution is actually that the polyester fibre stuffing can rearrange itself during washing, changing the shape of the stuffed object dramatically. In terms of materials, this item is a good candidate for washing. The caution that the stuffing may get pushed out of shape by washing does not mean that it will, but it is a risk to consider.
WASHABLE: Wash surface with mild soap and water
When dry, brush lightly - DO NOT DRYCLEAN
"Dry" cleaning in fact involves immersion in various solvents and is not usually a good option for plush toys.
Surface washable
mild suds - cold water - air dry - brush gently
Content: polyester fibers, metal stiffener
Because of the metal stiffener this object would not be a good candidate for washing.
Covering: 55% wool/ 45% cotton
Stuffing: 100% polyester
Surface washable
Since the covering is 55% wool it would be risky to wash this object.
Stuffe & Nonsense
Washing would not be recommended for most Stuffe & Nonsense handmade stuffed animals. We use a lot of wool, mohair or alpaca plush that would not tolerate washing well. And though we generally use polyester fiber for stuffing, we often stuff very hard so shape changes and drying would be a problem.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gimmicks: Theme Restaurants

The Good, the Bad...
When I go to restaurants or even into cafes, I expect to get my money's worth. I expect to fill my stomach with good food. With my favorite restaurants, I always end up leaving satisfied. Mostly because of the talented chefs behind the counter, who actually care about their craft and the reputation that comes with it.

It's what you'd normally expect for the many average restaurants out there in the world. I never try a new restaurant or cafe without looking up their customer feedbacks. A good restaurant rating usually gives people the confidence to try something new. I look up the feedbacks because I don't want to waste my time eating at a bad restaurant who doesn't really care about you, but only your money. With bad food, there's a more likely chance that the service might be bad as well.

When a restaurant or cafe has no diners, the place usually ends up closing down. The exception to this rule is if the place is a theme restaurant, but it seems that theme cafes are getting away with it because they have one thing that the average cafe restaurant doesn't have... a gimmick.

 Pic Provided by IG

Paying a Gawker Fee
Before I got into collecting Sanrio, I have never heard of theme cafe restaurants because there was none from where I live in Los Angeles. The idea of a cafe restaurant based around a character like Hello Kitty or Barbie was very different from the norm. By using a pop culture icon, these cafe restaurants are able to draw in tourists to their place of business. Many curious diners are more interested in the themed decor than if the food is good or not. These theme cafe restaurants hope to use the popular character obsession to feed their pockets rather than caring about their craft and reputation in the food industry. 

 Pic Provided by IG

By going to these theme cafe restaurants, you're basically paying an entrance fee to see the decor and use their very cute themed dinnerware. When one steps into a theme restaurant, one would think that the food art creations would be as impressive as the matching decor. If you've never been to a theme cafe, think again. If theme restaurant owners are in the food business for genuine reasons, then they would have invested in creating food art to impress the fans. 

Seeing that the food isn't their top priority, when will die hard fans ever get a theme restaurant where the gourmet pastry chefs truly cared about your taste buds and the art of creating masterpieces?
For now, you can only rely on individual bakers for great looking food character creations.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's Your Ideal Jewelry Case?

I resisted at first...
When I saw this jewelry case for the first time on Sanrio Japan's website, I just knew that I would love to store my Sanrio jewelry inside. Since this jewelry box came with a clear glass view display on the top, I knew I would not be keeping just any kind of jewelry inside. The entire jewelry case would only hold my special Sanrio valuables.

I went through all the Pro's and Con's of whether or not I should purchase this product. I asked myself continuously days after if I needed this item in my life. Do I really need one? Ultimately, my need for something with a glass display on top of the case was too tempting for me to resist. I kept picturing this case on top of my dresser vanity in my Sanrio themed bedroom, displaying all my bling-bling fashion rings. 

With this image in my head for the next few weeks, I am definitely my own worst enabler because internally, I was convincing myself to get it. I kept telling myself that you never know when Sanrio will ever make another jewelry case box with a glass top to display a collection of rings. Also, it was the perfect size jewelry case for someone like me. It would take me a couple of years to fill all the empty ring slots. Another thing is that I like the fact that the case is not too small.

While I was trying to think of more brainwashing reasons to buy the case, my better self -- crazy Paranoia side named Nancy (oh, did I forget to mention Nancy to y'all? ;p ) chimed in to tell me the reasons as to why I shouldn't buy the jewelry case. First, the LTS design looks like they pasted a clear sticker on the case and called it a day. If the LTS design was indented or etched more into the glass to give it a more sculpted feel, then there would be no hesitation in buying the product. Lastly, paranoia Nancy pointed out that the knob handles are just too plain looking. Instead, the designers could have added Kiki and Lala's die cut faces as knobs. Lala as the top drawer knob and Kiki for below.

It Arrived...
Even with the doubts of making the right purchase choice, I still bought it. I had an option to choose from three character designs (HK, My Melody, LTS) and Little Twin Stars was the most appealing design for me. First thing I did when I took the case out of it's box was to smell the inside of the drawers. It smelled of a new product. Divine.
My Sanrio Rating:   

Friday, May 2, 2014

Daily Life of a Sanrio Addict