My Pandemic Viewing

#PandemicLife = TV Consumption
I’ve been keeping notes about what shows I’ve watched since the pandemic started. Just for my own reference but in case anyone is curious –
The Great – Prime
Umbrella Academy – Netflix
The Boys (most violent & gross ever) – Prime
Good Omens – Prime
The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix
Little Fires Everywhere – Prime
Cobra Kai S1 & S2 – abandoned in S3 – Netflix
The Morning Show – Apple?
The Marevelous Mrs. Maisel – Prime
Homecoming – Prime
Big Little Lies – HBO?
Hanna – Prime
Upload – Prime
Emily in Paris – Netflix
Alex Rider – Prime
The Feed – Prime
Utopia – Prime
Bridgerton – Netflix
The Wilds – Prime
WandaVision – Disney+
Mozart in the Jungle – Prime
The Luminaries – Prime

How to Prepare for a New Erstwilder Brooch Release

PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE MOVED THE MOST RECENT UPDATE OF THIS BLOG POST HERE

Erstwilder Brooches, Tips & Tricks

 

If you’re an Erstwilder brooch fan, you’ve probably noticed that they’ve been growing in popularity! Many of their new releases sell out within SECONDS. So how can you buy your favourite brooches before they quickly disappear?

I’ve only been an Erstwilder broochie for a year, and the above photo doesn’t include three orders that are still in the mail, but even as a newbie I’ve never missed anything I’ve wanted on release day so I thought I’d share what’s worked for me.

With a little preparation–and speed–I’ve bought everything I’ve wanted including from the ever-so-popular Pete Cromer release. Since I see a lot of people have been struggling, I thought I’d share a few of my tips!

12+ Erswilder Brooch Buying Tips

1. Know the release time and double check it for your timezone! Check the counter they put on their website and triple check that you know the time for your location.

2. Know what you want to order and have your list ready. There will be no time to ponder this. Be ready!

3. Login to your account or create an account and login well in advance. I’m always at my computer at least 20 minutes early. Make sure that your address and all of the details are correct for your account.

4. Use a computer, not a phone. It’s possible to checkout quickly on a phone I guess but I would personally never trust it.

5. Do a couple of test checkouts to practice your speed. Try adding some items to your cart so you know what the process will be and take the checkout right to the last step when it asks for payment so that you’ll know what to expect.

6. If you’re going to apply any points to your order, you can prepare this in advance in your test checkout and have the code copied to your clipboard as a backup in the unlikely event that your points coupon code disappears. (I tested this several times and it never disappeared once I’d applied the coupon early, but better to be safe.)

7. Use the “add to bag” button that appears right below each item. Don’t slow down by opening up the individual product page. If you’ll be buying more than one item (you’re allowed to buy up to two of the same item for you and a friend) then you can increase the number to 2 in the sidebar that appears, which shows the items in your cart.

8. Know your payment method. Even though my payment method is usually automatically populated because I usually use Google Pay, on the last release that didn’t work for some reason so I quickly had to switch to Paypal or populating my credit card information. I decided in a split second that Paypal would be faster so I went with that. But have your payment options ready to go. Items *do* disappear from people’s carts even at this late stage of checkout so you must be speedy and prepared.

9. Have a stockist website (or two) open on your computer in separate tabs as backup. If for any reason you can’t get what you want from Erstwilder, immediately flip over to the stockist website. Follow all the same steps to prepare yourself on the stockist websites; login and familiarize yourself with their checkout process so that you’ll be able to be super speedy.

10. Go to the  NEW collections page and start watching the timer. Like a hawk. Don’t get distracted! Be ready to refresh the page as soon as it’s time.

11. When the items start to appear, you’ll have no idea what order they will appear in so it can be a bit of a panic. In the last release, the items actually pushed on to two pages because the essentials (earrings) ended up showing in the middle of the collection. Try to keep your cool but be quick. Click add to bag for each and as soon as the sidebar for your cart appears, you’ll need to “x” it to close it so that you can add the next item. It’s seriously always an adrenaline rush but with practice and preparation, you can do it!

12. Keep going! If anything disappears from your cart, which has happened to other people, don’t lose the opportunity to buy the others. Stay focused. Keep going through your checkout as quickly as possible. Then turn to the stockist websites you’ve had ready to grab what you missed.

If you still couldn’t get what you wanted, make sure you’ve joined all of the many Erstwilder groups on Facebook. As people’s orders start to arrive, sometimes people find that they are not as in love with an item as they thought they were. These groups are a good place to try to find your DISO (desperately in search of) items.

eBay Tips

As I said before, try all of the Erstwilder swap and sell groups on Facebook before turning to eBay. But as a last resort, you might choose to use eBay, or evilbay as many broochies call it, to snag your most wanted items. If you aren’t familiar with eBay auctions, here are my tips:

a) My first tip is probably obvious but I’ll say it anyways: Never ever bid on an item before the end of an auction. You’ll just drive the price up.

b) Use a bidnapper program. You will never win a popular auction manually. If it’s an in-demand item, like many popular Erstwilder items, you must use a bidnapper. These programs automatically do super speedy bidding within the last 60 seconds of an auction so if you’ve ever lost something in an auction at the very last second, you have almost certainly lost to a bidnapper program. This is the one I use but I’m sure there are many of them.

 

I think these are all of my tips for the moment but if I think of anything else, I’ll update this!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any tips I’ve missed.

 

 

Tokyo DisneySea

Last week we were lucky enough to visit Tokyo! I was invited to teach a Lindy Hop workshop with my pals, Lennart Westerlund and Sing Lim. We also visited with our niece who is preparing to perform at Tokyo Disneyland in the show, One Man’s Dream II.

Video – Part 1

Geoff has put together this beautiful video and another video is on its way along with his extensive, excellent photography.

Tokyo DisneySea is often voted the best theme park in the world and after our experience, I would wholeheartedly I agree! It’s stunning. And when it comes to embracing themes, they’ve gone the extra mile and really made it something special. Originally, the park was meant to be in California but they realized it would be too expensive and shelved it until some wealthy Japanese investors came along and voila! An incredible and unique Disney park in Japan.

Best Theme Park!

Besides the fact that it’s beautiful, my favourite thing about the park is the commitment to the themes. I particularly love the Mysterious Island/Jules Verne area with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I was really excited about the latter and it lived up to my expectations. LOVED it! Great story, settings, and ride through and through. It’s now in my top favourite rides of all time.

I was also really excited about the alternate story line for Tower of Terror. It was neat to experience it with a different story. I guess in some of the Asian cultures, ghosts are not seen as something to be trifled with so instead they implemented a theme with a tribal relic that puts a curse on the Hightower character who is big in the Asian parks. I was a little disappointed that it was more like the abbreviated California version of the ride and only went up and down rather than moving forward on the tracks like the Florida version. It was good but not as great as the full Florida classic.

FastPasses

Getting fastpasses at Tokyo Disney Sea & Land was a bit chaotic at first, but then I rather liked it. They’re still on the old paper system which means you have to hustle to get your first pass once you arrive a the park and then you need to pay attention to the time listed on the paper because it will give you the time when you’re allowed to get your next fast pass.

Layout

When you enter the park, you hang left which is where everything is. Unlike most parks, it doesn’t flow in a big circle. If you go right, you still end up having to go left on the other side of the water and you can’t get all the way around the way you would expect.

The first priority was to get the Tower of Terror fastpass and it was a total zoo to get it. You have to line up to get the fastpasses, which is annoying. But the line does move more quickly than a ride line. Once we had our fastpasses, we went on to explore the stunning park.

We started with a ride on the boats, which we were able to walk right onto with no line. It was a great way to get an overview of the park and appreciate how beautiful it is. I recommend it. Then we did about a 30 minute wait for 20,000 leagues under the sea which I very much enjoyed.

When it came time for us to be able to get another fastpass, we beelined for the Journey to the Center of the Earth line where we had to queue again. It’s a very popular ride. But I can see why! Like I said, it was amazing and there’s nowhere else that you can experience that ride. Loved it.

We opted to do the single rider option for Indiana Jones, which is very close to the one in California, which allows you to join the fastpass line. That made a lot of sense rather than using another fastpass on it.

Our third fastpass was on the Raging Spirits ride in the evening. It looks really cool from the outside, located right beside Indiana Jones. It’s a very smooth roller coaster but not really that special; definitely not as cool as my favourite coaster, which is Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom.

We were only able to get 3 fastpasses since most of them had “sold out” by the time we were eligible for a 4th.

One area that was Geoff’s favourite is the area around the pirate ship and the Magellan observatory area. It was really beautiful and special. Really, we should have returned there again later to enjoy it more. I was a bit distracted when we went to it because we hadn’t been on many attractions yet and I was eager to do so before the park got too busy, but the attention to detail and beauty of it was really unique and wonderful

Another fun surprise was walking right on to Sindbad’s Storybook Adventure ride in the Arabian Coast area. I guess it’s not super popular and also is able to accommodate a lot of people. I really enjoyed it! It’s kind of fun to do a ride where you have no idea about the story and I thought it was presented very well. And we enjoyed the catchy song, which I think is Geoff’s new theme song.

Sing and I attended King Triton’s Concert, a Little Mermaid show, while Geoff did some photography. There is a chance that my niece will apply to be in that show next year when her current contract is done so I enjoyed seeing what the role would entail. It’s all aerial work, no pun intended, and was pretty cute.

It was very convenient to grab the trolley, which runs between the front American Waterfront area and the Mysterious Island area. We rode it several times both for the view and to get around.

Popcorn is a big thing at both Tokyo parks. They have flavoured popcorn (we got curry) and the big thing is to get a collectable popcorn container of some kind. Geoff and Sing both picked the Steamboat Willie container.

I’ll continue to add to this post as I remember things that I think were important, but mainly I’m excited to see the rest of Geoff’s footage and photographs. The ones here so far are just from my phone.

To be continued…

My favourite recipe of the year – baked crispy eggplant parmesan

I have a blog entitled Green Smoothies & Juice but it’s a bit misleading. From over there it looks like I’m 100% vegan and I do try to eat a vegan diet as often as possible.

However, I’ve been obsessed with this recipe for eggplant parmesan for the last couple of months. I highly recommend it! It’s a lacto ovo vegetarian recipe. It’s baked, not fried, and the eggplant comes out crispy. Even my husband who doesn’t like eggplant likes it! It’s very convenient in the fridge for up to 3 days and also freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 1 big eggplant or 2 normal sized eggplants, peeled and cut into a little less 1/3-inch slices length-wise of the eggplant (the long way)
  • 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs (or almond flour to make it paleo)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs beaten (I’m sure eggwhites would work for mom)
  • Salt for sweating the eggplant
  • Tomato sauce of choice for serving (not baking)
  • Mozzarella for melting (optional)

Directions

  • Place eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt. Allow to sit for at least 3 hours so that the extra moisture comes out of it. Wipe excess moisture from eggplant slices with paper towels.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use non-stick silpat mats, otherwise grease a baking sheet.
  • Set up a breading station by mixing the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in one dish.
  • In another dish, have the beaten egg ready.
  • Coat each slice of eggplant with the egg first, then with bread crumb mixture.
  • Arrange the coated eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven on each side until lightly browned and crisp. This will be between 11 and 15 minutes on each side depending on your oven.
  • Serve on top of tomato sauce but only just before you’re going to eat it. That way it doesn’t get soggy the way it would if you poured the tomato sauce over it.
  • You can also melt mozzarella over it and serve on top of tomato sauce which is especially delicious, alone or with pasta.

**The eggplant cutlets keep in the fridge really well for 3 days. They also freeze really well and you can just heat up a couple of slices at a time, preferably in an oven, not microwave, so that it’s crispy.

**If you have leftover parmesan and breadcrumbs, you can mix it in with eggs and make a crispy omelette kind of thing that’s really tasty to use up leftover ingredients.

Vienna, June 2018

We had a wonderful time in Vienna in June!

It was a business and pleasure trip. You can read about our reason for traveling to Vienna here.

I don’t have time to write about the entire trip and I’ve left it a bit long, but here are my top recommendations for Vienna that I shared with a friend who was traveling there shortly after we returned.

***

Schonbrunn Palace is awesome. Save it for good weather. The ticket situation was annoying. You have to get them right at the front gate in the building on your immediate left. You can book a time for the tour, which we enjoyed a lot. While you wait for your tour, the gardens are free and fabulous. This is definitely worth at least a half day and depending on how long you spend in the gardens, could be a lot longer.

We liked the ease of the Vienna Pass which includes the Hop on, Hop Off Bus. That way we could pop into a lot of places but not feel like we had to stay. The bus is great and the red line in particular gives you the full tour of the downtown which helps you get to know the layout of the centre of the city where most of the stuff is.

The Hofburg Palace is also great. I would have liked to see more of it. When we were there, the Spanish Rididng School was closed for a few days to prepare a ball which was disappointing. It’s supposed to be a highlight.

Definitely if it’s opened, the Spanish Riding School, which is part of the Hofburg. I think if I were to do it again, I would have gone to more of the various museums and exhibits that are part of the Hofburg. There are a few different parts attached to it.
Beyond that, I went to some art galleries that were nice and there are lots of cathedrals but the other parts don’t stand out quite as much.

Had amazing apple strudel at a bakery called Backerei Cafe Felzl.

We had a funny experience going to see a concert. There are people on the street selling tickets to concerts. The one we ended up in was in a tiny basement, the sales guys dressed up in the streets were very deceiving, but the music was excellent. I think it’s worth getting some info and splurging to see a good performance with costumes, etc. that walks you through the most historic and important Viennese music. The thing that has stayed with me the most is the wonderful music so next time I would try to see a good show.

Those would be my top recommendations.

Geoff’s Facebook album

https://www.facebook.com/geoffrey.holmes.77/media_set?set=a.10156520994580126&type=3