Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Officially a Mess

My little 10 x 10 office has changed a lot in the 9 years we've had our house. Like all our other rooms, it's improved as we've had the time, skills, and money to put into it.

The first incarnation was a truly regrettable combination of purple walls, plastic fiber optic flowers, and enough clutter to make even a hardened hoarder beg for mercy:

Look, kitties!
Please, pay no attention to everything else.

Fortunately, this is the only photographic evidence that exists of my deep, personal design shame. The fact that I am now sharing it with all of you is evidence of my deep, personal sadomasochistic streak.

The next incarnation was inspired by Animator's Palette, my favorite themed restaurant on board the Disney cruise ships:

Photo from wdwinfo.com


So basically black and white all over, with tons of art and brightly colored doo-dads strewn about. (All of the art in Animator's Palette turns to color during dessert.)

This was the largest, most time-consuming renovation we'd done in our house up 'til that point, as we tried several different configurations - and even ceilings! - only to rip them out and start over again. That might have had something to do with the fact that I can't decide if I like something until I see it. And the fact that John is incredibly patient. Maybe.

Anyway, after far too many months, we finally had this:

Custom ceiling, cabinetry which uses picture frames for doors, bench seating, disguised closets and bookshelves, and, oh yes, a wrap-around desk that occupied a quarter of the room, all made by John - with a teensy bit of help from me.

Here's a better shot of the ceiling:

I have to rave about these ceiling tiles for a second: they're made of lightweight foam, and simply glue over existing popcorn ceilings! Fo' realz. Easy, oh-so-gorgeous, and there were actually several great patterns to choose from. (I have a girlier pattern with vines in my closet.)

[Note: It's been years since I ordered these, but I'm pretty sure Ceiling Tiles By Us is the site I used.]

With a 10 x 10 room, you have to get creative with storage. John made me this pull-out cabinet/drawer/thingy for all my ribbon:

To make one yourself, hang a piece of wood off a drawer's slider track inside an existing cabinet. Then attach wire shelves & paper towel holders to either side, and use a short piece of PVC pipe (or an old paper towel roll) to hang your spools of ribbon.

Next to the ribbon cabinet is this little gem:

It's a tiny hidden closet, which takes advantage of the dead space in the corner. The door slides inward to open, and inside I store wrapping paper, shoes, and dresses.

Here it is later, covered with art:

The frames on the door are attached with Velcro, so I can remove them and change out the art - which I do pretty often. The frames on the cubbies are on hinges, and open to the left.

That green cushion was soon replaced by a custom black-and-white checkered one, but I can't find a good photo of it. Here's the seat, though:

So, why I am showing you all this? Other than to embarrass myself? (I have better taste now, I swear! Remember my dining room!) Well, it's because my office is currently undergoing Renovation #3.

Yep, after five or so years the clutter and color chaos has gotten a little overwhelming - plus the floor was shot - so I decided to keep all the bones of the room but redo and streamline everything else. We've been at it about a week. And by "we," I mean John. John's been at it about a week. I've just been camping out in my new dining room workspace and assuring everyone who sees our front room that no, we are NOT having a yard sale tomorrow.

Ok, so it's a little messy around here.

Ok, a lot.

Hey, wanna see some progress shots?

Oooof course you do.

I feel this may need some explanation.

Ok, see, what's happening here is John's putting down wood flooring, which has to be glued, and he's using blue painter's tape to keep the boards together while the glue dries. The flooring guys told us we could install it right over the stick-down linoleum, so...uh...we are.


The wood is the darkest we could find: almost black. The walls are actually just primed right now, but we tinted the primer the color I'm thinking of using just to try it out: a kind of teal-ish robin's egg blue. What do you guys think? I'm hoping it will go with most of the art I want to display, and also lighten up the room.

Here's something John added back during the dining room remodel:

When John made the cabinet of wonders in the dining room, he actually freed up about 16 inches of space in the wall to inset THIS cabinet in. If you look closely at my first pic of this room, you can see there was a cabinet here before, but it stuck out about 4 inches. This one is flush with the wall, AND [drumroll, please] it has all this, too:

Woot woot!

Each door now holds my Star Trek book collection, leaving the rest of the cabinet free for other books and fabrics and junk n' stuff. It still needs handles (I bought antique door knobs for those) and *hopefully* will also have the doorknockers from Labyrinth on the fronts. I still need the knocker guy with the ring through his ears, though - anyone have one they want to sell me? [Bambi eyes] Puh-leeease? I've been searching Ebay for months and months, but haven't had any luck. :(

One other major structural change:

John demo'd the bench seat (we didn't use it much) and we plan to replace it with another work space. Trouble is, I can't figure out what to use for the desktop! Wood, probably, but then what color should we stain or paint it? I don't want more black, white scuffs too easily, and it'd be silly to make it the same color as the walls. Sooo...thoughts? Suggestions?

Well, I have to end now, because John is installing trim and the resulting gun-shot-like bangs from the nail gun are wreaking havoc on my nerves. [twitch] I'm fine. [twitch] Really.

Now, where are those earplugs?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pirate Penny Cuff Give-Away!

UPDATE: And the winner is....Amanda of Classics Book Club Blog!
Congrats, Amanda! Please e-mail me your mailing address. :)


I wanted to do something with a smashed penny from Walt Disney World (they're surprisingly different from those in Disneyland) so I made another cuff bracelet - and this one is for one of YOU!

[cue confetti and big band music]

First, though, I have to show you how different these pennies are:

The Mickey in the middle is from Disneyland. See how much longer the penny is, and how the design is deeper and more defined? The pennies on either side are from WDW. Their designs are more shallow - and look how small the pirate ship penny on the left is!

Fortunately, that pirate ship design still fit in the oval scrapbooking frame - though just barely. (There's a tiny sliver of space on one edge that you can just see from some angles.)

Ok, enough blabber. On to the goodies!


See the sliver of space on the edge? I could have shifted the penny to cover it, but I like it better with the design centered.

The cuff is made from an upcycled "leather" belt which has a soft, almost suede-like texture. The penny has been polished and clear-coated, and the tiny crack between the penny edge and frame has been filled with Gorilla super glue on the back, so you won't get crumbs stuck in it. :)

The back has a snap closure, and both ends are rounded slightly for comfort. (When I wore mine, I found the back corners to be a little scratchy.)

The cuff is approximately 7.5 inches in diameter, so it's on the smallish side.

I also made a pretty gift box for it:

Oh, and I'll also throw in an Epbot pin.

So, how do you win? Leave a comment, and link to or tell me about the one craft project that has most inspired you, or that you've always wanted to try but never have. It could be your craft Everest - big and intimidating - or just that thing you don't have the time or tools for. (And no linking to Epbot stuff - that doesn't count! Heheh.)

I'll choose a winner at random Wednesday afternoon, so check this post again then. I'll also announce it on Epbot's Facebook page. (Which you really should be following, btw; it's a great place to share links & pics with your fellow Epbot readers.)

Also, if you don't win this time, just stay tuned; for now I've decided I'd rather give stuff away here than sell it on Etsy, so there will be more!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Past, In Living Color

Check this out: the Library of Congress has released an exhibition of some of the only color photographs ever taken in Depression-ravaged rural America.

Now, I know, that description doesn't sound very exciting. So, here, just look at this:

Tell me your curiosity isn't piqued right now - that your imagination isn't running a mile a minute. That you don't want to know these guys' names and stories and adventures, or maybe feature them in a tale of hardships and heroics and scrappy underdogs swooping in to save the day.

There's just something about these images that jumps off the screen, grabs you by the lapels, and gives you a good shaking, you know? Especially these next ones:

A woman "wiper" cleans a locomotive with steam, 1943

(Side note: how gorgeous is this shot? I'll tell you: really, really gorgeous.)

The lady wipers taking a lunch break.

This is the shot that really got to me.

Just look at this lady: she's all made up. Her nails are done. She's even wearing a pretty ring. And you know what else she's doing? KICKING BUTT, that's what.

I don't mean to go all rah-rah-hear-us-roar or anything, but I like to think of these ladies as the original girl geeks. Ok, so they weren't into sci-fi or gaming - but they slung power tools and worked a "man's job" during a time when such a thing was unheard of, but - and here's the cool part - they didn't sacrifice their femininity to do it.

I know this is a crazy tie-in, but here's where I'm going: Sometimes we girl geeks feel pressured to dress like the guy geeks do, just to fit in better or get more "geek cred." That's fine if you're like me and want to wear the t-shirt, jeans, and Converse sneakers most of the time anyway. What's not fine is when we let that pressure make us put away the skirts or the lipstick or what-have-you, just to fit in. We're girls. We're geeks. We're both. And the women in these photographs have reminded me to be both, proudly.

Heck, I might just go put some mascara on.

[stepping off soap box] Ok, that's all I had to say. Now, go see the rest of the photos. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Cutest Geek Toys EVAH

One of the things I like best about being a geek is that we geeks still revel in the Joy of the Toy. Sure, we don't always call them toys: "action figures," "art dolls," "limited edition screen-used stand-in photon-rifle prop" - whatever. They're toys, and as a girl geek I say the cuter, the better.

(Found via Super Punch.)

This adorable little Batman is only $7.99, if you pre-order him.

I wouldn't have thought it possible, but somehow they managed to cutify an AT-AT:

Just look at those feet!
(About $45 over at Big Bad Toy Store, which isn't afraid to call it like it is.)

Of course, we always want the toy we can't have the most, so in my case, that's this guy:

Image from Proton Charging

This cute 3" tall slimed Venkman figurine came out last April, but was only sold in the UK, and they only made 150 of them. [pouting]

But wait, what's this? They make an un-slimed version?!?

Which is...out of stock. Curses! Foiled again.

Adding insult to injury, I learned that they also made this adorable t-shirt:

But that's no longer available, either.

You're killing me, WeenIcons. Really.

(And don't think the Star Trek captain makes it all better, either. It just makes it partly better.)

Plush David Tennant, anyone?

Better snatch him fast, though; Esty seller GirlCalledRic only has 1 in stock.

Any Kingdom Hearts fans out there?
I have this adorable chibi Sora cell-phone charm hanging on my purse strap, along with my felt PS2 controller.
(Play-Asia has been sold out of these for a long time, but I did see some available here for around $13.)
And here's the controller (I have the gray one):

They're 3 inches wide, hand-made, and only cost $7! I purchased it from rabbitrampage on Etsy, but sadly she doesn't have any available right now. If you're crafty, maybe try making your own? (And then sell more to me? Hehe.)

Or, if BioShock is your game:

ThinkGeek has these Big Daddy dolls for about $20. This bouncer version won't be back in stock until the 18th, though, and he's cuter than the Subject Delta.

And because robots are always cute, and robot dogs even more so:

(My inner 12-year-old just squeed a little. Now I'll just need an extra long Doctor Who scarf, some Jelly Babies, and a sonic screwdriver. [And yes, you CAN buy all those online.] Heh.)

I'm not sure how big this remote controlled K-9 will be, but he's available for pre-order now on Entertainment Earth.

Prepare to meet Cthulhu, Destroyer of Worlds!!

He also likes to snuggle.

And, hey, only $10 over at NoirNathra's Etsy store!

Obviously I've only just scratched the surface on all the adorable geek toys out there; the vinyl collectibles alone could (and do) fill entire websites. Still, be sure to link to your favorite in the comments: I'm always looking for more!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My (Additional) $.02

Time for a smashing penny update!

First, I think most of you agreed that my Dumbo penny looked out of place on that silver beaded necklace, so I put it on a simple chain:

Then I replaced it with more loops and beads on the silver necklace:

No pennies now, but it's still pretty cute.

For my Alice penny, I did another long chain design similar to the pirate ship Tinkerbell:

The old key came from a lot off ebay eons ago. I scrubbed off the worst of the rust and then clear-coated it with a matte lacquer, to keep the rust off my clothes.

To keep the pink crystal in place, I put the ring through the chain link, so it can't slide. This is also a *great* way to keep your necklace from twisting around on you. In fact, I may go do this to all my necklaces now.

Here's a closer look at the penny and crystal charm, which came off a broken bracelet:

By the way, I have a whole new respect now for Etsy jewelry sellers: photographing jewelry is HARD! I tried the photo cube, but the light just didn't seem right. My best luck was with these shots, which I took outside in the shade. And since I'm still pretty much helpless in PhotoShop, they're all straight-from-the-camera, for better or worse. :)

Here's a new necklace, where I played around with drilling more holes through the penny:

The two chains are part of a single necklace. All I did was break one in the middle and attach the penny on either end. I scavenged the beads from a third chain which used to be part of the same necklace.

This penny was the most brass-looking of them all, so it goes really well with the gold.

And finally, my most favorite of them all: my seahorse penny.

You ready for this? :D


Now, as you may remember, I started with this:

So to get the shape right, I had to remove the connecting beads, overlap the leaf sections, and then use bronze brads to hold the sections together.

The nice thing about the brads is that once I bent them open, they also held the penny in place on the back, like so:

The other ends I bent around the edge of the pendant, so everything is super snug without a drop of glue.

Once the frame was complete, I started brainstorming ways to cover up the text. Call me crazy, but I just didn't want to have "Virginia Aquarium" showing. Well, believe it or not, I had another necklace with matching crystals on it. A few snips with the pliers and dabs of Gorilla glue, and...voila!

No more "Virginia Aquarium"!

I don't have a backer on this yet, but I plan to turn it into a pin. I'll use a back that I can also string on a necklace, though, so I can wear it either way.

John and I went out to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday and snagged some more smashed pennies, plus a smashed quarter or two. I'm very happy to report that the quarters *just* fit the larger oval scrapbooking frames, so I may have one or two quarter designs to share later on. (The downside is that the quarters are much thicker, and therefore harder to bend.) I also snagged some great leather belts at a thrift store, so I think I'll make a few more penny cuff bracelets - perhaps for a give-away? [eyebrow waggle] Stay tuned!

Note: See my original smashed penny tutorial here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The 3 G's: Baby Love

Barring divine intervention and at least two spontaneous surgery reversals, I'm never going to have a baby myself. (Don't worry, that's by choice.) That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the 3 G's of baby cuteness, though.


This is Lisa K.'s 9-month old son, on his first Halloween. Too cute, he is. Love his ears, I do.


Adele Enersen uses sheets, towels, and household items to create whimsical scenes around her baby daughter Mila while she naps. Then she posts the pictures on Mila's Daydreams:

The photos are magical and sweet; like a fairy tale. Guaranteed to make you sigh contentedly and think hazy thoughts of unicorns and (double) rainbows.


Remember when I was griping about the lack of great Star Trek fan art in the world? And how epic I said it would be to see a cute Andorian baby with a tribble in one hand and a tricorder in the other?

Well, Kelly C. managed to give me everything except the tricorder:

Ha! Yep, I was right, Kelly: this is pretty epic.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Geek Chic Round Up

Some fun apparel and accessories that have caught my eye recently:

Robin sent me a link to this sweet Neverending Story t-shirt.

Do you recognize it?

It's the oracle!

Ah, obscure 80's fantasy movie reference ftw!

Lisa found this next gem:

These shoes were made for...typing?

I can't find any more info on these, so I don't know what brand makes it. Anyone know?

Then, while I was researching the keyboard shoes, I stumbled across THIS:

[swooning] [falling on floor] [drooling]

I've never worn high tops before, but I can see making an exception here.

Just look how pretty!


These are custom Keds being sold on Zazzle, so they're seller lShakespeare's own design. Kinda pricey at 65 pounds - that's, what, $130? - but considering John has spent that on running shoes before, and that you're pretty much guaranteed to be the only one in the room wearing typewriter sneakers, I guess it's not that bad.

The design also comes in regular low tops and slip-ons, but I think the high tops look best.

This next item is rather bittersweet for me, but the design is so amazing I have to share it anyway:

So here's the thing: the second John saw this ring (and thanks, Jessica, for sharing the link!), his eyes went big as saucers and he asked, in classic kid-in-a-candy-store form, "Can I have one? Pleeeease?"

C'mon, who can say no to that? Besides, he wanted it for his wedding ring, since it's about a billion times cooler than the plain band he usually wears.

So, we bought it. And while it IS a very cool design, I'm afraid the feel of it is kind of loose and rattly. It jingles when you wear it, because there's so much space between the outer rings and the gears. Plus it feels a little crunchy when you twist it.

I contacted the company (which has excellent customer service, btw) and was told that's just the way the ring works, because they wanted it to be loose enough to spin with one finger. All told, though, we'd much rather see a tighter design that's a bit harder to twist, if that means less rattle and a smoother spin.

The ring costs $165 (available here), so we're going to be returning ours. And yes, we're really bummed about that. Say, any of you make jewelry? :)

Well, to end on a happier note, here's a cool USB ring a bride had custom made for her game-developer husband:

Found on Mashable

The inside reads, "For a lifetime of memories."

Man, that's nerdy.

I love it.