Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Erstwilder x Pete Cromer Brooch Collection 3.0

About two months and five jewellery collections ago, Erstwilder, surprised us all by releasing its third collection with the Australian artist, Pete Cromer. It had only been a few months since they'd last teamed up for a Christmas collection, so I sure didn't see this one coming. 

The Erstwilder collaborations with Pete Cromer have been some of my favourite collections because his colourful, contemporary designs make the coolest jewellery, and the third range has been no exception. It's easily one of their best collections yet. It's an incredible twenty-five piece collection of brooches, earrings, and cardi-clips, and features many of his Australian animal designs brought to life as wearable art, along with a few other animals from around the world, and some of his adorable Druids, too.

As soon as I saw the live reveal, I fell in love with everything, and seriously considered selling a kidney so I could buy it all. Luckily, for my kidneys, I had a perfectly-timed online bingo win, and was able to buy six of my favourite pieces without losing any vital organs, or feeling too guilty for splurging this time. I love it when things work out! The only hard part was choosing which brooches to buy because each design was incredible, but boy, did I pick some beauties.

Would you like to see what I bought?

Let's start with one of my favourites from the collection- The Quaint Eastern Quoll brooch. I'm sure some of you are wondering what the hell a quoll is. A quoll is a spotted, carnivorous marsupial that looks like a cross between a Tasmanian devil and an Australian possum, and it's super cute. There are six different species, and this brooch is based on the Eastern quoll, which is widespread across Tasmania, and has recently been reintroduced back in to Australia after going extinct in the country in the 1960s. This gorgeous little guy instantly caught my eye, and despite already having a quoll brooch in my collection from another brand, I just couldn't resist adding it to my brooch zoo. It was too pretty to leave behind. I think I'm just a sucker for anything freckled like me! He's made from a stunning textured black and grey resin, with white bubble resin spots across his coat, taupe and caramel accents, and some bubblegum-pink and teal markings to his ear and eye. He's such a little cutie, and probably my favourite piece from the entire collection. I just love this design so much.

There was one brooch that caught my eye simply because of how colourful it was, and that was The Radiant Rainbow Lorikeet brooch. Just like the real Aussie parrots, it's so vibrant and eye-catching, and it's a great statement piece with both colourful and monochrome outfits. I love wearing it with black clothes to make the colours pop. This lovely little lorikeet is made up of about eighteen different colours with a vivid cobalt blue for it's head and an amazing ombre yellow and orange bubble resin for it's body that basically looks like a Tequila Sunrise. It's also decorated with a variety of shapes in Cromer's distinct style, ranging in colour from pink to teal, and it's truly a work of art. The resins Erstwilder used to make it are stunning. 

As a big animal lover, I always find myself drawn to brooches of unusual animals (the weirder the better!) so naturally, The Notorious Numbat brooch was an instant favourite of mine from this collection. If you're not familiar, a numbat is an insectivorous marsupial from Western Australia that kind of looks like a cross between a yellow mongoose and a chipmunk, and it's pretty darn cute. Pete Cromer's numbat design has so much character, and Erstwilder have done a fabulous job of bringing it to life with a mixture of textured and bubble resins in shades of caramel, white, black, mint, and more. I love the monochrome stripes on it's back and leg, and it's unique little zig-zag tail, It's such a great design, and one that will definitely keep people guessing. Fun fact: Notorious isn't the first numbat in my brooch collection; I also have a hot pink numbat brooch from an old Australiana Erstwilder collection, which was one of the first Erstwilder pieces I ever bought! 

Before this collection was released, one of the first brooches that caught my eye in the spoilers was The Rare Red Tail Cockatoo brooch; a black cockatoo that looks like it's going through it's emo phase. It was one of those pieces I instantly knew I'd be buying, even before I'd seen the whole collection. The design is just so unique and striking, and so different to the usual white cockatoo designs. (There was actually a pastel Major Mitchell Cockatoo brooch in this collection, too, which I was so tempted by, but it looked too similar to the Galah brooch I bought from the first collection, so I reluctantly chose a different design instead). Erstwilder spoiled us by releasing this brooch in two sizes; mini and standard, and I stuck to the standard size as sometimes bigger really is better- more space to show off all the incredible details! Details like it's ebony textured-resin face and crest with delicate silver glitter running through it, that's topped with a generous helping of yellow-gold freckles. It's body is a gorgeous marbled navy blue, and it's decorated with little shapes in red, orange, yellow, and black bubble and marbled resins. Who says black and navy have to be boring?

Not all of the designs in the Pete Cromer collection were Australian animal inspired. There were also some creatures from closer to home, like a rabbit, a French bulldog, and  couple of red foxes. With foxes being one of my favourite animals, I've never been able to resist anything fox related, and while I have a few Erstwilder fox brooches in my collection, I just had to have The Footloose Fox brooch in my life, too. (I went for the standard size, but there was also a mini brooch to choose from). It's a beautiful brooch made from orange, black, and white bubble resins, and a mesmerising glittery marbled orange resin for it's body, ear, and eye, which I absolutely love. It's finished off with marbled grey shapes with glitter flecks running through them, a gorgeous marbled red tear drop on it's brush, and a couple of white bubble resin hearts on it's chest and tail. It's one of the most beautiful fox brooches I've ever seen, and I know I'm going to be wearing this one to death for a long time to come.

And the final piece I chose was The Wondrous Wombat. Wombats have always been one of my favourite Aussie animals, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to add a wombat to my brooch zoo- especially when it was as cute as this one. I mean, just look at that chunky round body, and those gorgeous earthy colours! He's the sweetest little wombat brooch ever. He's been crafted from two shades of coffee coloured bubble resin, with grey bubble and marbled resins for his nose and cheek. and simple black and orange features. I think my favourite parts are the two green leaves on one of his front legs, and the sun-like pattern of mini triangles and concentric semi-circles in burnt orange, peach, brown, and lime on his side. Isn't he beautiful? 

It's been a couple of months since I bought these brooches, but I still love this collection so much. I've been getting so much wear out of them already, and they always make me smile when I catch a glimpse of them pinned to my outfits.

Sadly, (for you, not for Erstwilder and Pete Cromer) many of these brooches sold out on release day because they were unsurprisingly popular, but I've linked to what's still available in the UK above, and there are several other designs still available from Erstwilder and their stockists. If you want to hunt down a sold out piece, try eBay or Erstwilder fan resale sites. I'd still love to get my hands on the emu and cockatiel brooches, and wish I'd bought the fairy wren. 

Did you buy anything from the third Erstwilder x Pete Cromer collection? Which piece is your favourite?

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Thursday, 6 May 2021

Easter on Lockdown 2021

 Hey guys!

I know it was a month ago now, but as usual, I'm running behind, so... how was your Easter?

We had a lovely Easter, despite spending it on lockdown for the second year running. Luckily, we always celebrate Easter at home because we're a bunch of hermits, so Covid didn't get to ruin our Easter. I had a relaxing weekend spending time with the family, watching movies, crafting, stuffing my face with Easter chocolate, and enjoying the Bunny Day Easter event on Animal Crossing. It was so good to have a happy, carefree Easter without Covid spoiling it in some way.

On Good Friday and Easter Saturday, I made colourful Easter crackers, and table favours ready for our family meal on Easter Sunday, while watching Easter movies. 

For the crackers, I used cracker kits from the Little Crafty Bugs, printed off some terrible Easter jokes I found online, filled them with mini chocolate bunnies and eggs, and tied them with satin ribbons in contrasting colours. I was going to do something more creative with them this year, but I was in too much pain when the time came, so I decided to let the colours do the talking and kept them simple, so I could finish quickly and minimise the pain. 

For the table favours, I filled pastel striped cone bags from Ginger Ray with a mixture of mini chocolate eggs and bunnies, and gave everyone a bag during dinner. The mint chocolate mini Lindt eggs were soooo good!

I spent Easter Sunday morning watching Steel Magnolias, which is a ritual I observe every year as it's the best Easter film ever! I also relaxed with more Animal Crossing, and let myself get creeped out by Zipper T. Bunny. That giant yellow rabbit is like something from a horror film! Things nose-dived for a bit when I somehow managed to crack one of my molars on a chocolate orange mini egg, but luckily, it didn't cause me any pain- I only noticed it later when my tongue registered a new texture. I now have a lovely little crevice between two of my teeth, while I work up the courage to go to the dentist to get it fixed. (I'm terrified of dentists). I'm just thankful that it still doesn't hurt.

After I'd gotten over the panic, I exchanged Easter eggs with my family, and helped my dog open her Easter present / latest murder victim- a corduroy Easter bunny. 

This was my Easter chocolate delivery from Tesco a month earlier. I think I might be the Easter Bunny in disguise...

I then set to work on making the dinner table look super colourful for our family Easter meal, which must have taken at least an hour of my afternoon. I was really pleased with how it turned out, and think it looked really cheerful, although it wasn't anything special. It basically looks the same every Easter. I'd love to make an epic Easter centre piece, but once the food is on the table, there isn't space for anything else.

We sat down for our Easter meal around five pm, and had a turkey roast with all the trimmings- Christmas-style, which was so delicious. It was such a gorgeous, sunny day that we had the patio doors open as we ate, with the sunshine streaming through, and music playing in the background. It was lovely. Afterwards, we had homemade blackberry and apple trifle or lemon cheesecake for dessert in front of the TV (I opted for trifle), and watched a bit of Grease on TV, which I haven't seen in yeeears. 

We had hoped my older sister and brother-in-law would join us for the meal, since the rule-of-six had just returned, and were planning to dine in the garden, but my brother-in-law had to work last minute. They visited for a bit later in the evening instead, so we were still able to spend some time with them, which was great as I hadn't seen them since Christmas. And they still got fed, so it all worked out.

We all had a lovely day, especially Rosie, who loved all the attention, turkey, and new toys. She didn't stop smiling all day, until she wore herself out so much, she fell asleep snoring on my feet after dinner.

I was completely worn out and in agony by the evening, so it was back to bed for me after that. It was my first afternoon downstairs and out of bed since Boxing Day (except for the twenty minutes I spent out of the house to get vaccinated in March), and I naturally pushed myself too much. I couldn't move for the rest of the night, or the following day. 

On Easter Monday, I was so fatigued I could barely keep my eyes open, and the day is a blur of naps, pain, and Animal Crossing. I don't think I even had the energy to watch the movies I'd planned to, but I was at least able to enjoy some turkey sandwiches and left over trifle, which helped me feel better. And of course, I also had Easter eggs from my family, so I indulged in a little Easter chocolate, too. 

This was this year's Easter loot. I only finished the last egg off yesterday!

I didn't manage to take photos of all of my Easter decorations this year, but these are some of the decorations from my bedroom. I finally bought myself an Easter tree this year to give myself a place to hang my Easter decorations- a simple white tree I bought from Hobbycraft for £15. (They do a larger version, too, and seem to have them every Easter). I think it looked great, and I can't wait to build up my Easter bauble collection so I can hang more from it in the future. I actually had it on display in a different spot in my bedroom, but it was too shadowy for photos, so I moved it to where my TV usually is to show you. The other decorations sat beside or above my TV.

And that was my Easter in a nut shell. Quiet and homely, but enjoyable just the same.

As lovely as it was, I have to admit, it was surreal spending a second Easter on lockdown. A year ago, when we celebrated our first Easter on lockdown in the early days of the pandemic in the UK, I genuinely thought it would be the only one we'd spend on lockdown, and it would be a one-bit novelty to tell stories about one day. I was sure that life would be back to normal in a few weeks, and it would all be a distant memory by now. I can't help laughing at how naïve I was! Who would've thought this life would've happened to us? 

I'm feeling hopeful that next Easter will be much more normal, at least for those of us in the UK, and we'll be able to enjoy it however we please. Let's hope we don't find ourselves celebrating a third Easter on lockdown, huh?

How did you spend the Easter weekend?

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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Sunday Favourites Easter Special #400

Happy Easter, guys!

I hope you're having a lovely Easter Sunday however you're spending it, or a lovely Sunday if you don't celebrate it. 

We do celebrate Easter in our house, so I'm looking forward to a lovely day today. I'll be enjoying an Easter roast with the family in the afternoon, watching some Easter movies, stuffing my face with chocolate, and playing the Bunny Day event on Animal Crossing. I can't wait!

Anyway, it's been a few months since my last Sunday Favourites post, so I thought today was the perfect time to revive it. I've put together some of my favourite Easter inspiration from 2021- mostly recipes and crafts- to give you some last minutes Easter ideas. I hope you enjoy them.

Sprinkle Bakes' chocolate chunk malted milk brownies look amazing.

The House That Lars Built has a great tutorial for honeycomb Easter eggs. They also used them to decorate this awesome DIY dried floral Easter wreath.

These pressed dried flower Easter eggs are so pretty.

I'd love to make this DIY spring paper daffodil wreath from The House That Lars Built.

Club Crafted's spring tea party looks so lovely.

Paper & Stitch can show you how to make these awesome Easter baskets using just one material in under fifteen minutes!

These meringue Easter baskets from Studio DIY are so cute!

I love this Easter bunny wreath from A Pumpkin and a Princess.

This Easter egg cheesecake from Sugar and Cloth looks amazing. I might have to make one next year.

Another recipe I'd love to try is this pretty pink speckled Easter egg cake from A Beautiful Mess.

I love this Easter brunch board from Studio DIY. I really want to try putting one together.

How lovely are these DIY paper daffodils from Mein Feenstaub?! The tutorial's in German, but it translates well on Google.

Best Friends For Frosting's Peeps S'mores Dip looks delicious.

Another amazing spring charcuterie board, this time from A Pumpkin and a Princess, that I'd love to recreate.

And last but not least, Studio DIY teach you how to dye Easter eggs with food colouring. I'd love to give this a go sometime.

For more Easter inspiration, why not check out my Easter board on Pinterest? You can also find all previous Easter Sunday Favourites posts here for similar inspiration.

Thanks for reading and Happy Easter!

What are your plans for the Easter weekend?


Friday, 2 April 2021

The Easter Tag

Hey guys!

I hope you're all having a great Good Friday so far.

I recently saw The Easter Tag on a few blogs, and thought it would be fun to give it a go, so that is what I'm going to do. 

If you want to know how I typically celebrate Easter, what my plans are this Easter weekend, or what my favourite Easter treat is, keep reading!

1. Do you celebrate Easter?

I do celebrate Easter with my family, but not as a religious holiday. It's more about celebrating the return of spring, appreciating pretty pastel-coloured things, and enjoying a meal with my family. I had to do the whole religious thing when I was growing up- church, learning about the Easter story, Christian-related Easter activities at school etc.- as I was raised catholic and went to a catholic primary school, but it wasn't my thing. Sorry, Dad.

2. What was favourite thing about Easter growing up?

I'm not going to lie, when I was growing up, my favourite thing was receiving a bunch of Easter eggs from my family. I mean, what kid doesn't love receiving chocolate wrapped in brightly-coloured packaging?!

3. What are you plans for Easter this year?

I'll probably spend the morning enjoying the Bunny Day Easter event on Animal Crossing while watching Steel Magnolias (my favourite Easter film), and then hand out Easter eggs to my family. We're planning to enjoy our annual Easter roast together in the afternoon- which is basically like Christmas Dinner- and if the weather's good, we might host it in the garden so my sister and brother-in-law can join us. (Yay for the rule of six)! After that, I'll probably just enjoy an Easter egg, and watch some Easter TV. I'll also make some Easter crackers and table favours today or tomorrow ready for our Easter meal, and spend Easter Monday watching movies and eating chocolate. A pretty typical Easter in our house.

4. Do you colour eggs?

I never have, but I've always wanted to.

5. Do you have Easter traditions?

We always exchange Easter eggs in the morning, and have a big Christmas-style family roast around the table on Easter Sunday afternoon, with a turkey and all the trimmings. I also have to watch Steel Magnolias every year and have done every year since I was little because it's the best Easter film ever!

6. Favourite Easter treat?

When it comes to Easter treats, you can't beat a Cadbury Easter egg or Mini Eggs- as chocolate goes, few things beat them. I'm also loving Terry's Chocolate Orange Mini Eggs, and Cadbury Orange Mousse Bunnies a lot right now. Why is orange milk chocolate so good?!

7. Least favourite Easter treat?

Nestle Easter eggs are always a big disappointment.

8. Do you hunt / hide eggs?

No, I don't think I even went on an Easter egg hunt when I was a child. Easter wasn't a big thing in England when I was growing up; it was mostly family roasts, a store-bought Easter egg, and church, if you were religious. Nobody I knew did Easter egg hunts, or even decorated their homes for Easter. I'd love to throw an Easter egg hunt now, but there aren't any young kids in the family to throw one for.

9. Do you get pictures with the Easter Bunny?

Wait, The Easter Bunny does photo-ops now??

10. What do you typically put in Easter baskets?

I've never put together an Easter basket, but I have been known to send Easter parcels to friends and relatives. I usually just include a selection of mini Easter eggs and bunnies, and wrap them in pastel-coloured tissue paper and ribbons for them to unwrap. Last year, I also included Easter crackers I'd handmade. I love putting Easter parcels together!

And that's The Easter Tag.

I tag... anyone who wants to give this tag a go! If you decide to do The Easter Tag, send me your links; I'd love to read your answers!

What are your plans for the Easter weekend?

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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

My Experience of the Covid-19 Astra Zeneca Vaccine


Last Thursday, I finally got my first Covid-19 vaccine!

I'm officially part of the Astra Zeneca club.

I got a phone call from my doctor's surgery about a week earlier asking if I'd booked myself in for the Covid vaccine, but it was news to me. It turns out, they'd been trying to contact me by text for a while, but I never got the messages as my mobile's broken. Luckily, instead of having to make an appointment via text message, the receptionist was able to book me in for an appointment at my local doctor's surgery over the phone. All I had to do was print and fill out some vaccination forms, and take them along to the appointment. Simple as that.

I thought I'd share my experience of getting the Astra Zeneca vaccine with you guys for anyone who might like to know what to expect from the vaccine, and the side effects you might develop afterwards. Of course, the process might differ slightly from place to place, and everyone reacts differently to the vaccine, but it should help you get a feel for it.

So, on Thursday afternoon, I arrived at my local doctor's surgery ten minutes early, along with my younger sister, who was booked in at the same time. We weren't supposed to arrive early, but fortunately, the surgery was quiet, and they were able to see us straight away. 

A woman was waiting at reception, who passed our forms to the receptionists to check, and stuck a green dot sticker on our clothes. She then sent us across to another woman who provided pamphlets on what to expect from the vaccine, including a list of side effects we might experience. Before I even had a chance to glance at them, she told me a doctor was available, and sent me straight on through.

My doctor's surgery had converted their waiting room in to a vaccination point, and had a small set up with a Perspex screen separating the area from reception, but not from each doctor and patient. They merely had a few vaccination points with a doctor or nurse working from a small work space, with a few chairs beside them, and an aisle running in a square in between. I found it surprising that each area wasn't spaced far apart or separated from the others with walls for safety and privacy, but there were only a couple of other patients around (one was my sister), and apart from having to pass right by a lingering man to reach the doctor, it felt safe and relaxed.

I was seen by one of the doctors, who indicated that he was free, and invited me to sit down. He took my forms from me, told me that I would be having the Astra Zeneca vaccine, and asked me if I had any questions. I told him that I didn't, since I already felt well informed, and wasn't concerned about the tiny risk of blood clots recently reported on the news. He took a moment to prepare the needle and syringe while making small talk, warned me that I might feel a small scratch, and injected me in my upper arm. I barely felt a thing- it honestly hurt less than a routine blood test. After it was done, he told me I would need my second vaccine in eleven to twelve weeks time, and gave me a vaccine card, which I have to hold on to until the second appointment. I was then advised not to drive for fifteen minutes, and was free to go. The whole process, from entering the building to leaving, took all of two minutes. It was so easy and efficient, and completely painless.         

For the rest of the day, my arm only had a slight ache around the injection point, and I started to get a mild headache in the back of my head in the evening. I felt hopeful that I'd be one of the lucky ones, and would get off lightly with side-effects.

Who was I kidding? I'm never the lucky one. The next day, I awoke with similar symptoms, but within a few hours, I started to get aches all over, and then developed a temperature, a fever, and dizziness. I felt really fluish by the evening, and kept going from boiling hot to freezing cold. My head was so sore I could hear all the blood rushing around, and I just basically felt horrendous. On top of that, my Fibromyalgia and Arthritis were also flaring, and my lower back felt soooo inflamed I wanted to cry- although, I'm not sure if the vaccine aggravated my chronic pain, or if it was just a coincidence. I personally think it aggravated them.

Luckily, I woke up on Saturday, feeling much better, apart from a slight temperature, which went away a few hours later. By Sunday, all of the symptoms I had experienced had gone away completely, and I was back to my normal state of ill health except for my upper arm which had started to swell. I had hoped it would be better by Monday, but yesterday, the swelling was even worse. My upper arm was swollen up like a tennis ball, and my skin was stretched so tight it hurt. It's definitely gone down a bit over night, but it's still uncomfortable, and feels sore if I move it, touch it, or accidentally lean against something. Fingers crossed it'll be back to normal in a day or two.

It could be much worse, and I think I've gotten off lightly with this vaccine, only having one day of mild flu-like symptoms and a few days with a swollen arm. My Mum was ill for over a week with her first vaccine a few weeks ago. They're perfectly normal side effects in any case, and just show that the vaccine and my body are doing their jobs. I think a day or two of feeling ill is totally worth it to finally have some immunity against Covid-19, and help bring us another step closer in getting this terrible virus under control once and for all. It's a small price to pay if it can help save lives, weaken the virus, and help the world return to normal again. I'd much rather have a day or two of mild flu-like symptoms than have to fight for my life in ICU, hooked up to a ventilator with Covid-19.                                         

If you're still worried about getting the vaccine, don't be. It's so quick and painless. The side effects really aren't that bad, and you might get lucky and not get any at all. My Dad, for example, only got a mild headache. If you've got any concerns about having it, don't listen to the anti-vaxxers; have a chat with your doctor and let them answer any questions you might have. They'll be able to put your mind at ease. My parents, my sisters, my Nana, and an older Auntie have all been vaccinated so far, and we're all doing fine. 

I personally feel relieved to have been given the vaccine, and that several members of my family have had their's, too. It's a relief to have some immunity, and to know that if any of us catch the virus, it should help us survive it. I won't feel relaxed about the virus until we've all had our second jabs, and probably not even then, but it's a good start, and hopefully the beginning of the end of living in fear. It feels like we're one step closer to the end of the pandemic in England, and one step closer to reclaiming normality again. It feels good.

Have you had your first Covid-19 vaccination yet?

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