Summer 2022

Geoff and I have decided to ease back into running some events with a couple of fun and free options this summer:

For NOTL, there’s also the option of joining us at the Shaw Festival afterward for the 1922 show.

We’d love to see some friends out. Everyone is welcome.

This is our website 👇
Like our Facebook page 👇
Sign up for email updates 👇
Follow the Instagram account – @steppingoutvintagetoronto 👇

Hope to see you at one or both of these.
Mandi & Geoff

Facebook Jail

On March 29th, ironically just a few days before the closing date for the sale of my social media business, my business account was hacked. It was really terrible and unfortunately, some of my clients lost their advertising accounts.

I am not naive about these things. I’ve always been very conscious about security and use an encrypted password keeper with more complex passwords. But even so, the hackers got to the business account.

This also resulted in my personal account being given an “under review” notice. On April 1st, I was given a 30 days to take action or my account would be shut down. I followed the review process (uploaded my ID for both for my personal account and business account) and actually did have a chance to speak to a Facebook representative on the phone because of the business manager. If it had only been my personal account, it wouldn’t have been possible to get someone on the phone.

Unlike hacking where you’re completely locked out of your account, I’ve actually been able to observe things on Facebook but not participate. This “no man’s land” of Facebook jail allowed me to backup all of my photography and friends lists over the last couple of weeks. I fully expected the account to be deleted because it was taking so long.

By the way, my sister Zoey’s personal account was hacked the same week as my business account. Because she was using a fake birthday on her account, she will probably not get her account back because when you have to upload your ID to prove your identity, there has to be enough data that matches to verify who you really are.

I can’t stress this enough; ensure you have a super strong password and turn on extra authentication for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. I see people being hacked every single week and losing their accounts. My situation was a little different, but it still adds up to the same thing. Go to your Facebook (and Instagram) settings and do a security checkup ASAP.

_________

Friday, April 1st

This is the day I was given my 30 day notice on my personal account. (See the cover image.)

_________

Sunday, April 17th

I was let out of Facebook jail for under 24 hours on Easter Sunday, April 17th, but in under 24 hours my account was restricted again. I guess it was some sort of a glitch that even let me post in the first place. This time I’m able to edit existing posts but I can’t create new posts or comments. Messenger seems to work. I am probably back on the path to having my account deleted by the end of the month.

_________

Wednesday, April 20th

(morning) – I seem to be able to post again. We’ll see how long it lasts.
…And within a few hours:

_______

Friday, April 29th

It’s 5:30pm and I seem to be out of jail again. I tried this morning and was still being restricted. We’ll see if this lasts. If not, my account will be shut down on May 1st, according to the 30 day notice.

Conclusion

On April 29th, without any email notification, I was let out of Facebook jail and it seems to be permanent. So that was 30 days in jail, just a few days shy of the 30 day notice that I received on April 1st. That’s a long time but I did get through it. Such a pain, and I commiserate with anyone who goes through something similar.

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, I’ve rated these based on my level of enjoyment.
The Great – Prime – S1 & S2 – 10/10
Umbrella Academy – Netflix – S1, S2 & S3 – 10/10
Stranger Things – Netflix – S1 9/10, S2, 8/10, S3 8.5, 4 9/10
The Boys (most violent & gross ever) – Prime – S1 S2 – 9/10 – S3 in progress
Good Omens – Prime – 9/10
The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix – 9/10
Little Fires Everywhere – Prime – 9/10
Z: The Beginning of Everything – 5.5/10
The Last Tycoon – 5.5/10
Cobra Kai S1 & S2 – Netflix – started 8, reduced to 5/10 in S3 and quit
The Morning Show – Apple – S1 & S2 – 8.5/10
The Marevelous Mrs. Maisel – Prime S1, S2, S3, S4 – 8/10
Homecoming – Prime – 7/10
Big Little Lies – HBO? – S1 & S2 –  7.5/10
Hanna – Prime – S1, S2, S3 – 8.5/10
Upload – Prime – 8.5/10
Emily in Paris – Netflix – S1 – 8/10 , S2 – 8.5/10
Alex Rider – Prime – S1 & S2 – 8.5/10
The Feed – Prime – 7/10
Utopia – Prime – S1 8/10, S2 – 7.5
Bridgerton – Netflix – S1 – 8/10, S2 in progress
Modern Love – Prime – S1 & S2 – 6/10
The Wilds – Prime – S1 & S2 – 8/10
WandaVision – Disney+ – 8.5/10
Mozart in the Jungle – Prime – S1, S2, S3, S4 – 8/10
The Luminaries – Prime – 8/10
The Stand – Prime – 7/10
The Romanoffs – Prime – 8/10
Red Oaks – Prime – 7/10
Panic – Prime – 8.5/10
Jack Ryan – Prime – S1 & S2 – 7.5/10
Catastrophe – Prime – S1, S2, S3, S4 – 7/10
Tales from the Loop – Prime – 6/10
Flack – Prime – S1 & S2 – 5.5/10
The Pursuit of Love – Prime – 6/10
Ted Lasso – Apple – S1 & S2 – 10/10
Nine Perfect Strangers – Prime – 7.5/10
Why Women Kill – Prime – 7.5/10 – S2 8/10
The Wheel of Time – 10/10 for enthusiasm, 6.5/10 in reality
The Shrink Next Door – Apple – 8.5/10
And Just Like That – Crave – 7.5/10
The White Lotus – Crave – 7.5/10
Station Eleven – Crave – 8.5
Squid Game – Netflix – started off stronger but lost me, didn’t finish
Grace and Frankie – Netflix – various seasons ranging from 6 to 7.5/10
The Gilded Age… didn’t finish
Inventing Anna – Netflix – 9/10
Good Girls – Netflix – all seasons – 8/10
Firefly Lane – Netflix – 7/10
Reacher – 7/10
The Summer I Turned Pretty – 6/10
Wolf Like Me – 8/10
A Very British Scandal – S1 – 7.5/10
Kominsky Method – 7.5/10
Imposter – in progress…
Updated July 23, 2022

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…

Savoury Jackfruit Patties

If you’ve tried or heard about jackfruit “pulled pork”, it’s the dish that inspired me to make a better veggie patty that’s perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas and would make a great burger patty too! They make the perfect Tofurkey Alternative.

You know what’s tough? Trying to keep a vegetarian diet in a world full of soy when you’re soy-intolerant. Meanwhile, many North American veg-heads eat too much soy to begin with, which can upset your hormonal balance.

For years I’ve been looking for the perfect soy-free meat alternative to have with gravy and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and Christmas and last year, I finally found it. I had tried some pretty great recipes before, like the Oh She Glows burgers, but this is now definitely my go-to.

The idea finally came to me after I got around to making jackfruit pulled pork for myself. I had tried jackfruit as a pulled pork alternative at Niagara Veg Fest and some restaurants, but it wasn’t until I made it for myself that the lightbulb went off.

If you aren’t familiar with it yet, unripened jackfruit has the surprising texture of meat! It’s pretty amazing! And it takes on whatever seasoning you add and produces a wonderful texture and mouth feel. I read somewhere that buying unripened jackfruit can really destroy your knives and it’s very convenient to use canned unripened jackfruit which I’ve found at Asian grocery stores.

For our Thanksgiving feast this weekend I used 5 cans of jackfruit and made about 20 patties so I would say one can of jackfruit makes about 4 patties.

Step 1.

Soak the jackfruit and remove all the seeds.

 Step 2.

Use your fingers to separate all the jackfruit “meat” into strips to prepare it to sautee with oil, garlic, and spices. (See recipe below for full details.)

Step 3.

This next part doesn’t look very glamourous but it’s the part that gives the patties a richness and also binds it together. Use ground chia or flax seed (I used chia) and almond butter to make a batter. (See recipe below for full details.)

Step 4.

Mix the sauteed jackfruit mixture into the batter. (See recipe below for full details.)

Step 5.

Form the patties and bake them at 350 for about 12 minutes on each side. I use an ice cream scoop and use non-stick silpat sheets. (See recipe below for full details.)

Step 6.

They’ll be ready when they’re golden and crispy and looking suspiciously meaty. Serve and enjoy!

Savoury Jackfruit Patties – Recipe

The above photos show this recipe multiplied by 5. The following recipe makes 4 patties.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of unripened jackfruit in water
  • 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil (or a cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of low sodium Old Bay or your favourite “meat” spice blend
  • 2 teaspoon of ground chia or ground flax
  • 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Start by soaking and rinsing your unripened jackfruit in water. Rinse it really well.
  2. Go through the jackfruit and make sure there are no seeds. The seeds are quite soft and can be eaten if you accidentally miss any, but it’s better to remove them.
  3. Separate the jackruit “meat” using your fingers from the core of the jackfruit which is harder. You can cut up the jackfruit core and include it or discard it. When I made a large quantity, I included the core but ran it through the food processor to pulverize it.
  4. Take a non-stick pan and put it on medium to high heat with the oil and the garlic. Sautee it for a minute and then add the jackfruit and the spices. Sautee the jackfruit stirring regularly until it starts to change colour and seem “cooked”, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
  5. Preheat oven to 350.
  6. In a bowl, mix the ground chia with the water and let it start to congeal for about 30 seconds, then mix in the almond butter to make a batter. It shouldn’t be too thick or too loose, but an easy to stir paste.
    1. Notes about this recipe: I’m not much of a measurer. When you make these, you’ll want to adjust the ratio of the chia, liquid, and almond butter to make a paste that’s thick but not overly stiff. If you find it’s too hard to mix in the jackfruit, add more liquid, or if it’s too liquidy, add more chia and/or almond butter.
  7. Mix in the sauteed jackfruit mixture.
  8. Take a cookie sheet and a silpat non-stick baking sheet or use line your pan with parchment paper. Scoop the mixture onto the pan to make patties. I use an ice cream scoop and then flatten the mixture into a patty shape.
  9. Make the patties for about 12 minutes on one side. Then flip and bake for another 10-12 minutes on the other side or until golden and somewhat crispy.
  10. Serve with cranberry sauce and your favourite vegetarian gravy and enjoy!