Friday, 24 July 2020

Erstwilder Exuberant Easter Parade Part Two

It's been a while since I last documented the newest additions to my Erstwilder collection on the blog, so I've got a bit of a back log to work through. I'm going to start with the second half of my Exuberant Easter Parade brooch collection today, and then I can start showing you newer pieces- like my purchases from the recent Erstwilder Care Bears collection!

A few months ago, I reviewed the first half of the Easter collection for you, but three of the six brooches I purchased were on lay-away until May, so I chose to split the reviews in to two posts. I'd intended to blog about the second half as soon as they landed on my doormat, but I've been struggling with my health over the last few months, so it's all just gotten away from me. I know it's a bit weird to be blogging about Easter brooches in July, but these three pieces aren't distinctly Easter-themed, so I hope you won't mind too much.

So, the Exuberant Easter Parade collection is a nineteen piece jewellery collection featuring adorably kitsch brooches, necklaces, and earrings designed by Carmen Hui. While it is an Easter collection and it naturally features Easter inspired designs like Easter bunnies and Easter egg baskets, there are plenty of cute animal designs included in the collection subtle enough to be worn throughout the year. The three pieces I have to show you today definitely fall in to that category. 

My favourite piece from the collection has to be the chipmunk brooch- Chocolate the Chipmunk. It's easily one of the cutest brooches I've ever seen. This little critter's made from the most amazing caramel-coloured wood-effect resin, with a white bubble resin for its stripes, and dusky pink and lime green ripple-resins used for the flower she's carrying in her mouth. She's perfect down to the last detail. This brooch is definitely one of my favourites right now, and I've worn it quite a few times over the last couple of months- even if I have only been wearing it around the house, sometimes just pinned to my pyjamas. She's too cute to keep caged up until life returns to normal.

Since it was Easter when I purchased these brooches, and I used to have a couple of pet bunnies, I had to add an Easter bunny to my brooch collection. I choose Junior & His Tulip. Junior is a happy-looking grey and white bunny made from beautiful textured resins, with a giant yellow tulip nestled in the crook of his arm. (Yellow tulips are one of my favourite flowers, so I was sold on this detail alone). The greenery features the same lime green ripple resin as the chipmunk, and the flower is a vibrant yellow bubble resin. It's such a lovely design, and subtle enough that it doesn't just have to be reserved for Easter. It's a great piece for wearing throughout spring and summer, and could be worn all year if you really wanted to. I've been enjoying rocking it with black and white polka dots lately.

The final piece I bought from the collection was Proud Mother Hen, a brown mother hen rocking a vibrant red bonnet with her adorable little yellow chick by her side. I love the retro style of the design, and the brown and white marbled resin the hen has been crafted from- it's so beautiful. While the design is quite simple, the little splashes of yellow, orange, and red bubble resins make it really fun and eye-catching, and it definitely makes a statement out of any outfit.

Fun fact: when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I worked in a pet shop out in the country that sold chickens as pets. (I live in The Corswolds; a lot of people have farms or a lot of land). They all had their own personalities and some of them could be really affectionate. Chickens are so underrated, but I always enjoyed looking after them. I guess part of the reason I was drawn to this brooch is because it reminded me of that era of my life, spending my days surrounded by animals. Sometimes I miss it; so much has changed in my life since then.

If you'd like to see the other three pieces I purchased, you can find part one of my Erstwilder Exuberant Easter Parade reviews here.

Many pieces from the collection are still available from Erstwilder and their stockists around the world, and there's no better time to help some small businesses out by buying a cute brooch, or even getting ahead for next Easter. I still have my eye on Dolly the Dainty and Buttercup the fawn.

Have you bought anything from Erstwilder lately? Which piece do you like best?

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Erstwilder Exuberant Easter Parade Part One

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Birthday Wish List

Hey guys!

I'm back!

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. It has to be the longest I've gone without blogging since I started this blog over eight years ago! I have tried to blog almost every day, but I've been so fatigued lately, I keep falling asleep on my laptop every time I've tried to write. Chronic illness is a bitch.

Would you believe it's also been three and a half months since I last posted a wish list?! I usually post one every week or two, but it hasn't felt right to be wishing for things during lockdown while people are dying, and many others are struggling financially from losing their jobs or being furloughed. However, tomorrow is my birthday, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to put together a birthday wish list, which is something I've done every year for as long as I can remember.

My birthday wish list isn't a list I go around thrusting in my family's faces, demanding that they buy me presents from it (although, my little sister did ask me to put one together to give her some ideas). It's just a list of things I like that I can suggest to people should they ask for ideas, or that I might treat myself to things from should I be given any money for my birthday or want to spoil myself to cushion the blow of turning another year older. It has to be done, right?

What's on this list, I hear you ask? Well, you can see for yourselves...

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13

1. This pink pineapple print swing dress from Collectif is adorable, and looks perfect for rocking in the summer sun. It even goes up to a size 26 on Simply Be!
2. I love toucans, and this tropical toucan cardigan from Collectif is too cute. I've actually wanted tattoos like the toucan motifs on either side of my collar bones for years. 
3. This Seaside Souvenirs backpack from Vendula London has been high on my wish list for months. The design is amazing, and it can be converted from a backpack to a cross body bag. It would be ideal for future holidays to Cornwall... y'know, if we ever get out of lockdown.
4. These monstera earrings from Erstwilder would be the perfect finishing touch to any tropical summer outfit.
5. My parents gave me some money towards this gorgeous Cath Kidston Sweet Strawberry tote bag for my birthday! I can't wait to get it... even if I have no idea when I'll next be able to leave the house to use it. I love the print so much.
6. This Raven Mad raven brooch from Erstwilder has been on my wishlist since Halloween, I'm dying to get my hands on it so I can wear it all year round. It's also on sale now, so maybe I'll have to treat myself...
7. How gorgeous is the Too Faced Born This Way The Natural Nudes eyeshadow palette?! Those metallics and shimmers are dreamy. I don't need any more make up, but this palette sure is tempting...
8. Lady Vintage's Lyra dresses are my favourites to wear- they're so comfy and flattering- and this new dark mint green heart print dress looks beautiful. I love how it looks like leopard print, but instead of spots, the print is made up of hearts.
9. Is there anything cuter than a fawn wearing a daisy crown, like Buttercup the fawn brooch from Erstwilder? She's been on my wish list since Easter.
10. I'd also love to add the adorable Dolly the Dainty brooch from the same Easter collection to my Erstwilder brooch collection. The retro design is super cute.
11. With it's applique strawberries, Cath Kidston's Sweet Strawberries Perfect Shopper would make the cutest shopping bag for shopping in style (and reducing the use of plastic bags) when life gets back to normal.
12. I've wanted to read Dracula by Bram Stoker for years, and the Puffin Clothbound Classics edition is so beautiful.
13. I really want one of Bon Maxie's wooden earring holders to display my earrings on, but I can't decide whether I want this earring holder on a stand, or a hanging version to save space on my dressing table. 

If you'd like to see more of the fashion, beauty, and homeware items on my wish list, check out my wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish Lists here.

Which pieces do you like best?

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Surviving Lockdown With Animal Crossing New Horizons

When people ask you what you did during the Covid-19 lockdown, what are you going to be able to tell them? I learnt a new craft? I took up gardening? I read a book a day? Me? I will have to admit that I spent most of my time glued to my Switch playing Animal Crossing New Horizons.

I have played Animal Crossing New Horizons every day since it was released on March 20th, and have been enjoying it so much, I've already clocked up over 570 hours on the game! I'll admit I'm totally addicted, but I'm loving this game so much, and it's proving to be a great distraction from everything that's going on in the world at the moment. It's even helped to settle my anxiety, which was all over the place when lockdown first began in the UK. It could not have been released at a better time.

Before New Horizons was released, I was a big fan of Animal Crossing New Leaf, and had played it every day for over fifteen months after receiving a copy as a Christmas present from my younger sister. So, I was naturally excited for New Horizons as soon as I heard about it last year, and bought a Switch Lite just so I could play it.

I preordered the game and began playing it as soon as it arrived on release day. It took me four hours and a lot of resetting to settle on an island I liked (no, I'm not joking!), but once I was happy with a layout, island fruit (oranges), and airport colour (yellow) (all very important factors, as any AC devotee will tell you), I jumped right in to the game, and I've barely stopped playing since.

It didn't take me long to fall in love with this game or to become addicted to it just like I was with New Leaf. It's just so cute and wholesome.

I love that it includes many of the popular aspects and characteristics of previous Animal Crossing games we all know and love like fishing, catching bugs, expanding and decorating a house, cross breeding flowers, designing your own island, shopping for clothes and furniture etc., but with a new high def make over, and a ton of new features that were missing in the past. Some of my favourites include: Terraforming (waterfalls; waterfalls everywhere!); the ability to dig up trees and bushes and replant; crafting furniture from materials found on the island; wishing on shooting stars to earn star fragments for special furniture; having a large selection of clothes and accessories to shop from each day; being able to change your character's look at any time and getting a choice of skin colours; the ability to choose where to place villagers' houses and move the buildings; being able to send gifts to friends; and by far my favourite, the ability to place furniture outdoors! It used to frustrate the hell out of me that I couldn't do this in New Leaf! Now I can place sun loungers on the beach, and make a cemetery out of gravestones. It provides much more creative freedom.

Another thing I love is that the anthropomorphic animal islanders are even cuter in New Horizons than they were in New Leaf. I love how they now sing, run around air-planing, sit in random places eating snacks, and do yoga, I don't know why it amuses me so much. I've already said goodbye to a few characters since the beginning (Ken, Bruce, Bubbles, Zucker, Doc, Diva, Huck), and had several new ones move in, and I'm fairly happy with my current selection. I currently have Iggly, Mint, Gala, Cheri, Pinky, Poppy, Bianca, Nana, Tia and Eloise. I'm still hoping to find Lily and Peanut again, which were two of my favourites from my New Leaf town, but every time I island hop for new characters, I seem to find the worst characters like the eagles and gorillas. Or Ken. Ken's a creep.

I'm really enjoying visiting friends and my sister's islands to hang out, trade, shop, and find island inspiration, and having them visit me to do the same. It's the new cool way to socialise since we can't do this together in real life right now, and we don't even have to worry about social distancing! We can just run round islands together, wish on shooting stars, and beat each other with nets! Haha! (Still waiting on the return of the toy hammer, so nets will have to do for now!) The only bugbear I have about visiting other islands is that you now need a Nintendo subscription to be able to visit friends, which I feel is cheeky considering the price of the game. (You don't need the subscription to visit friends or family playing nearby via local play, though). I think it should be free and accessible to all players.

I've invested so many hours in to my island trying to make it look as pretty as possible. I've got loads still to develop, but the front section has been turned in to a housing estate with the plaza, a playground, and a cafe in the middle. I've got azalea hedges everywhere, and the gardens are filled with pink flowers. My funfair is taking shape, and I love my little cemetery and secret beach that I dug down to out of the cliff face. I'm still working on furnishing my house, but so far I'm happy with my pink and mint basement diner, and the pastel coloured playroom in my attic. I also began a Cute room this weekend, for the Cute furniture I have so far, and just added a second human character so that I could add another house to my island to decorate because six rooms are not enough for all the ideas I have planned. (It's also a great way to get extra storage when you've used up your 1600)!

I'm mostly aiming for a pretty, pastel, natural look for my island, but with fun, and creepy areas added in, but it's sure to change a thousand times before I'm satisfied with it. It's one of those games where you find yourself constantly tweaking and improving the look until it's perfect. It's all consuming, but it's proving to be the perfect distraction from the Corona Virus and isolation. It's given me something else to concentrate on and stops me thinking about all the awful stuff going on because I'm too busy trying to catch butterflies, craft recipes, and construct the perfect layouts. Even the natural sounds of the waves and the waterfalls are really calming, just like being near water in real life. It makes you feel like you're outdoors, even though you're cooped up indoors doing your part to stamp out the virus and keep everyone safe. Gah, I love it!

If you enjoy social simulation games and are looking for a fun way to occupy your time on lockdown and distract yourself from virus life, I couldn't recommend Animal Crossing New Horizons to you more. It's fun, it's cute, it's a great game to play with friends, and there is always so much to do. Yes, it's pricey, but it's worth every penny. Everyone I know who plays the game is addicted. Just be prepared to be, too! Once you start playing, you won't be able to stop!

If you play ACNH and want to hang out or trade, leave me your friend codes!

Do you play Animal Crossing New Horizons? What do you enjoy most about it?

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Easter On Lockdown 2020

How was everyone's Easter? Did you do anything to celebrate it this year despite being on lockdown? I hope it was a lovely one.

We decided to try to keep Easter as normal as possible to reclaim a little normality back in our lives, and have something lovely to look forward to amidst the craziness. We totally nailed it, as well! Apart from a couple of minute differences, it wasn't any different to any other Easter we've had. It ended up being a lovely weekend, and it was great to have the distraction from reality.

On Good Friday, I put up Easter decorations in my bedroom so I could feel festive while resting in bed. I never actually managed to take any photos of my room decorated for Easter this year because I was in too much pain to move around, but it looked very similar to last year's efforts, so I've included a photo from last Easter instead. 

I spent the Saturday afternoon making homemade Easter crackers and table favours ready for our family meal on Easter Sunday. As I still had supplies left over from last year and didn't want to put anyone in danger packing and delivering a new online craft order, I just ended up making the same pastel pom pom crackers as last year- with contrasting pastel satin ribbons and pom pom buttons. I filled them with mini chocolate bunnies from Hotel Chocolat, which I snagged online from John Lewis with 30% off before Easter. The solid caramel chocolate bunnies were sooo good. 

For the table favours, I filled pastel-striped cone bags from Hobbycraft with mini Lindt, M&Ms, Smarties, and Cadbury eggs, which was all we could scavenge this Easter. I usually add in more variety and fancier brands, but for obvious reasons, I couldn't be fussy this year, and was grateful I was able to find anything to give at all.

I had a lazy Easter Sunday morning watching Steel Magnolias (my favourite Easter film that I have to watch every Easter without fail) for the millionth time, and enjoying the Easter themed Bunny Day event on Animal Crossing New Horizons. (Who else is playing ACNH? I'm addicted!) It put me in such a chilled mood for the rest of the day.

I then exchanged Easter eggs with my family. I managed to pick some up from Cadbury's Gifts Direct online a few weeks before Easter, which was a relief as our supermarkets ran out as soon as lockdown began, If I'd waited any longer, I would have missed out as they had such high demand they had to keep pausing new orders.

This was my Easter loot. My parents gave me a chocolate orange Easter egg, and the egg tasted just like a chocolate orange. OMG it was amazing! My sister got me a Galaxy egg, and I treated myself to a Cadbury one, because why not?

Around lunch time, I somehow found the courage to brave the Everest that is The Stairs so I could set the table for Easter lunch. I hadn't been downstairs since early February because my arthritis and fibromyalgia have both been so bad this year, and I've been struggling to bare weight on my knees and feet because the arthritis has been so painful. I've barely even strayed from my bed since Boxing Day. I had the worst aching, radiating pain in my leg on Easter Sunday, so getting out of bed and hobbling down the stairs wasn't the easiest or most sensible thing I've done. I was in agony, but I'm stubborn AF, and wanted to enjoy Easter lunch with my family, and make the table look pretty for it, so I powered through, with a little help from my Mum who did most of the leg work to and from the kitchen.

I made our Easter table super colourful using my favourite Easter table linens and pastel crockery. (You know you're getting old when you have favourite tableware, and look forward to using them)! I bought the table linens from John Lewis a couple of years ago, and started collecting the Port Meirion x Sophie Conran Colour Pop china around the same time. I still bloody love them; the colours are such a mood-lifter.

I added in my handmade Easter crackers, and pastel-striped bags of mini Easter eggs to every plate, plus a couple of egg-shaped bowls full of chocolate eggs to the table, which we were munching on as we got ready for lunch. The only thing that was missing was some fresh spring flowers. I think the table looked really cheerful, and the parents seemed to like it, too. Apparently I'm a creature of habit, though; the first photo is this year's table, and the second was what I came up with last year. Well, if it ain't broke...

We sat down for our meal around half two, and had a turkey roast with all the trimmings, Christmas-style. My Mum actually managed to find us a turkey crown from the local butchers (we'd normally get a whole frozen turkey but couldn't get one anywhere), and all the ingredients to make my homemade trifle. We just swapped the usual raspberries and blackberries from a local farm shop for a bag of mixed frozen berries from the supermarket, and it was almost as good as usual. The food was all delicious, and the only real difference to the meal this year was having regular roast potatoes instead of delicious goose fat ones, which was regretable but not the end of the world. My sister and brother-in-law were also missing from the meal- but they weren't going to be able to get the time off work to visit this Easter, anyway, virus or no virus.

The sun was shining and we had the patio doors open while we ate, with The Beatles playing cheerful tunes of days gone by in the background. It was a lovely meal, and just what we needed during these not-so-lovely times.

After lunch, I crawled back up to bed, and continued to play Animal Crossing while watching some TV. I was going to watch another Easter film, but I think I ended up binge-watching The Big Bang Theory again. I read for a while, and had turkey sandwiches and leftover trifle for tea later in the evening. It was a good day.

Easter Monday was spent watching The Sound of Music (another Easter ritual I observe almost every year), and playing more Animal Crossing while munching on some Easter chocolate, and eating more leftover trifle.

It was just the kind of Easter I was hoping for, and even though we were on lockdown, it really wasn't that different than it would normally be. We always celebrate Easter at home and never go anywhere on Easter Sunday or Monday, so I'm pleased lockdown didn't ruin our Easter. It was just a shame my sister and brother-in-law couldn't make it, and that my Dad was unable to go to church over Easter, which is important to him, but considering we were on lockdown during a global pandemic, I think it was a success, and far better than any of us expected it to be.

Hopefully next year we'll all be able to enjoy Easter out of lockdown with out families and friends, and all the little things we usually enjoy but couldn't do this year.

Did you celebrate Easter this year? How did you make the best of it on lockdown?

Saturday, 11 April 2020

DIY Pastel Pom Pom Easter Crackers

Last Easter, I made some pastel-coloured Easter crackers to make our family Easter meal that little bit lovelier. I never did find the time to blog about them last year, but I saved the photos and thought I'd show you them today in case you fancy making some of your own this Easter weekend. (Of course, it's a little too late to purchase cracker kits in time for Easter now, but you could download a cracker template from the Internet and print your own on some colourful card).

My family and I always have an Easter roast on Easter Sunday and I like to make our table look as colourful as possible, so I decided to make crackers in a variety of pastel colours to compliment our colourful, mismatched Easter table linens and crockery.

I bought a selection of single cracker kits in lavender, pastel yellow, pale blue, and flamingo pink from the craft and party supply website, Little Crafty Bugs, who stock a wide variety of inexpensive cracker kits in different colours and sizes for every event imaginable. Their cracker kits are so good I've repurchased several times over the last few years whenever I've made crackers for Easter or Christmas, and even put in another order last week to make another batch for tomorrow's Easter meal, which I'm hoping to make later today. I then picked up some small pom poms from Hobbycraft, and chose satin ribbons in contrasting pastel colours from my stash to decorate them with. For the filling, I decided to treat everyone to some caramel chocolate bunnies from Hotel Chocolat (which are just amazing), and also bought a scratch card to pop in each one. (Sadly nobody won the gold). Then I got to work.

The crackers were so easy to make, and as I kept the designs simple, they didn't take long to make at all. I think I made all six in under half an hour. The process is really simple, and here's how to make them if you'd like to give cracker making a try. 

How To Make These Crackers

What You'll Need

♥ 1 cracker kit per person.
♥ 2 lengths of ribbon per cracker. (I used satin ribbons from Hobbycraft).
♥ 2 pom poms per cracker.
♥ Scissors.
♥ Hot glue gun and glue.
♥ Mini chocolate Easter bunnies, eggs, or whatever contents you desire. (I used caramel chocolate bunnies from Hotel Chocolat).
♥ Confetti (optional).

What To Do

1. First, take your flat-packed cracker, and stick a cracker snap in place with Selotape length-ways down the centre of the cracker.
2. Push out all of the diamond card pieces from the diamond cut-outs.
3. Roll the card in to a cylinder shape, and slot the three tabs in to the three slots.
4. Take a length of ribbon, and positioning it under the diamond cut outs, cinch it in and tightly tie it in place. This will pull in the end of the cracker and create the traditional cracker shape. Cut the ends of the ribbon diagonally to prevent them from fraying.
5. Place a paper crown and a joke in to the cracker, and drop in your confetti and contents. I popped caramel chocolate bunnies from Hotel Chocolat and a scratch card in mine, but you could add in whatever small treats you like.
6. Tie up the other end of the cracker by repeating step 3.
7. Heat up your glue gun, and glue a couple of pom poms along the centre of the cracker. Leave to dry for a couple of minutes. And voila, you're done!

Simple as that.

As well, as making pastel Easter crackers for our meal, I also made a couple more in rose pink and yellow, which I sent to my sister and brother-in-law in their Easter parcel last Easter.

The crackers seemed to go down really well with my family, and they were just so fun to make. I think they added a little something extra to our Easter dinner table, and definitely brightened up the table. And let's face it, who doesn't love snapping open a cracker full of chocolate?

I liked these pastel pom pom crackers so much, I think I'm going to do something similar with this year's Easter crackers. I obviously couldn't get scratch cards to put in them this year, but I have managed to pick up some more Hotel Chocolat Easter chocolates online to give my family a treat. I'll be sure to post a photo of them on my Instagram, so keep an eye on my grid and stories this weekend if you'd like to see what I come up with.

Have you ever made Easter crackers for an Easter meal or party?

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