Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Crafts

With most of my larger projects on hold due to various logistical reasons, I turned to some instant-gratification craftery this week.

First, I made a deliciously orange, red, & yellow-y wreath for our front door:

I'm not much of a silk flower wiz, so I usually buy pre-made wreaths at JoAnn's. Over the weekend they were running all kinds of Columbus Day sales, though, so all the good stuff was cleaned out by the time I got there. The best I could find was a sparse little thing which, even at half off, was $20. So instead, I found this plain twig wreath ($3), a silk swag garland thingy ($9 at 60% off) and some yellow ribbon ($3).

Attach the garland to the wreath with floral wire, tie a bow, and BAM! El cheap-o wreath-o!

I really like the way it looks on our blue door, too.

Next, I *finally* got around to making some Epbot thank you cards using Kaaren's fabulous hand-carved 'bot stamp:

It turns out I'm not much of a stamp wiz, either; after less than a dozen cards I was covered in teal and orange ink. Heh. It was fun digging through my craft stash to find the bits and pieces to make the cards, though; the only thing I had to buy were the metal "Thank You" stickers. (Which I just found online for a lot less, dang it. Too bad shipping is another $6.)

Oh, and here's a quick tip to turn any grommet into a flat, paper grommet: use snips to cut vertical slices all the way around the back tube, and then bend the tabs flat after you've inserted the grommet through your paper, like so:

As an added bonus, it kind of looks like a little gear from the backside.

Oh, and if you ever want to adhere a mesh ribbon to paper, I have two words for you: spray adhesive. Everything else leaks through and makes a big ol' mess. (I only had to try three other glues before figuring that out.)

So, what crafts do you guys turn to for instant gratification?

Doo Doo Doot Da Doot DOO!

OooOoooh, look at this updated Mario design I found via Likecool!

It's by MaroBot, who also did this larger version of Mario himself:

I love it! But now I want to play it. Curse you, MaroBot!

Actually, this week John discovered a site where you can play classic Mario Brothers online, using your keyboard. Yeah. That's been greeeeat for his productivity. Although I must admit there are worse things to listen to while you're working. Classic Mario soundtrack = instant nostalgia. Ahh, memories. Of uncomfortable square-edged controllers. Being thrown across the room.

What was your favorite video game growing up, guys? (Keeping in mind that your answers will *totally* tell the rest of us how old you are. Hehehe.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Low Brow Humor

I'd like to talk to you about my eyebrows.

See, I feel like we have this understanding, you and I. We can share things. We can tell each other our geeky dreams, our goofy nightmares, and our girly homicidal urgings. Right?


So, here's the thing: I have these eyebrows. And they're, well, opinionated. They like to be seen. They're also stubborn and pretty kinky, but maybe I shouldn't get into that just yet. Besides, the main problem is the astonishing rate at which my opinionated eyebrows reproduce.

At least, I'm assuming they reproduce. You know, in some bizarre mitosis manner, where when one is plucked out two more spring up to take their fallen comrade's place. Then they scream "death to Jen's forehead!!" in their scritchy little voices and march all night towards ear and nose country.

What, you think I'm exaggerating? Well, maybe just a little. About the scritchy voices. The fact remains, however, that I'm the only person I know whose eyebrows get a 5 o'clock shadow. Seriously! And I don't shave them! I pluck! Let's throw another exclamation mark in here!

So back in my twenties, I declared war. And, ok, I may have gotten a little overzealous. I may have spent too much time watching YouTube makeup tutorials by pretty girls who draw their eyebrows in. I may have thought I could "pull this look off."

I'll spare you the suspense: I can't.

In fact, I spent that phase looking both perpetually surprised and angry. Not a good combo. John looks back on photos of that time and calls it my "witchy-face stage." Also not good.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but occasionally I still fall prey to the just-one-more-to-even-it-up madness. Then I survey the damage and vow that this time I'm growing out some perfect Jennifer Connelly eyebrows.

Is it wrong that I still base by beauty ideal on Sarah from Labyrinth? 'Cuz if so, then I don't wanna be right.

About a week or two later I remember: I look nothing like Jennifer Connelly. (Dang it.)

Not to mention her brow hairs don't curl around to form perfect circles. Yep, that's right: I have Shirley Temples. So in addition to plucking twice a day, I also have to trim my eyebrows. (That, or find the world's smallest flat iron.)

Enough griping, though. That solves nothing.

Instead, let's focus on who to blame.

Personally, I'm gonna have to go with my Jewish roots. My big, thick, dark Jewish roots. Sure, ok, I don't need mascara. But at what price, people? AT WHAT PRICE? (And don't get me started on shaving my legs: I'm basically an ambulatory cactus by the time I towel off.)

Well, I suppose I could wave the white flag. Give up. Go "au natural."


Ok, girls, give: am I the only one with these issues? If not, then tell me your best eyebrow story in the comments; this misery would looove some company.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Fun

Project "Acquire a Real Pumpkin" was a critical success, thanks to John's quick thinking in detouring to a Winn Dixie (because Publix was closed) to find a certain cider (which they didn't have) and overall tolerance of my squealing like a toddler and insisting we get "this one, 'cuz it speaks to me." (I meant metaphorically.)

And now... [rubbing hands together] ...I'll just surf the 'net for a while to figure out what I'm going to carve.

Care to join me? :D

See, I have all these great links and photos that you guys have been sending in, and naturally I can't choose what I'm going to do until I explore ALL of them.

First, I should mention that Pumpkin Wizard has a great tutorial on how to turn a photograph into a pumpkin template. Although I don't really have a photo I want to carve, so... Next!

I can't remember who the first person was to send me the link to 100+ Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas, but naturally this was the one that caught my eye:

Although he's not technically carved. Heh.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Puft Daddy

Thanks to Proton Charging, a Ghostbusters fan site I've recently begun
following, I discovered the best blog post of the weekend, which you simply MUST go and read - once you're done with this one, of course.

It's by Gordon Holmes of More Whatnot, and he presents some...interesting...options for "sassy" (aka sexy) Ghostbusters costumes. Yes, there are pictures. Yes, they are hilarious.

Actually, the one that is most believable is his Stay Puft design. Check it out:

Kinda cute, right? Frankly, I'm surprised this isn't already in stores. Although, it turns out, Gordan isn't the first to think of this. Check out this photo I took at Dragon*Con in 2009:

I saw her at D*C last year, too. Apparently great GB fans think alike!

Then, when I was looking for the new StayPuft backpack that was just released (Google it; it's ├╝ber ugly), I found this:

via Reddit

Ha! I agree with Gordon; a Stay Puft costume should definitely come with little police cars.

Then I found this:

Then things got really out of hand, as I spent another hour gawking at StayPuft papercraft and cakes and toys and art and more costumes and...yeah. I have to stop now.

Ok, now go read Gordan's post.

And if you ever see something cute and Stay Puft-y, let me know.

Star Wars Paper View

I've been planning on sharing some of my favorite papercraft links with you guys, and then Julia B. (along with several others) sent me this fantastic music video:

It's the entire Star Wars (original) trilogy, illustrated in 2 minutes. The song is "Tatooine" by Jeremy Messersmith, and it's quite pretty, so definitely have your speakers turned on. The paper illustrations by Eric Power Up are what really blew me away, though. I especially like the scene with Yoda. :)

Oh, and if you like the song, you can download it at Jeremy's site for whatever amount you'd like to pay. Promise. It's not a trap!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Candy Bracelet Give-Away

Try as I might, I couldn't find a necklace design for my candy charms that I liked better than the original bracelet.

SO...who wants a Halloween candy bracelet? :D

Yep, I'm giving away my bracelet to one of you lucky and oh-so-gifted-with-impeccable-taste-in-blogs readers. Plus, look! I found the perfect box for it in my craft stash!

Isn't it great? When I found these little gift boxes a few years ago, I actually bought 3. Mmm, orange-y goodness.

The bracelet *just* fits inside. The box is wood, and ties shut with a satin ribbon attached to the bottom half:

So. Cute.

Oh, and I should mention that the bracelet is a bit smaller than average: just over 7 inches around, as opposed to the usual 8. So if bracelets tend to be snug on you, this may be too small.

UPDATE: And the winner is....Alyssa (aka alyssag721)! Congratulations, and please e-mail me your mailing address, Alyssa!

The contest has ended!

Now, rules: leave a comment (one per person, please) with a link to to one of your favorite Halloween things: costumes, crafts, jewelry, or what-have-you. (Don't forget to embed the link!) Also be sure to include a way for me to contact you. And just to reward all my fellow staying-in-on-a-Friday-nighters, I'll be randomly choosing the winner *tonight* at 10pm EST. Yep, in less than 5 hours. See? It pays to check my posts early!

Check back on this post at 10:05pm for the winner, or I'll also be announcing it on Facebook.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Geek Glee

Check out this fun "foam printer" I found over on Likecool:

Someone needs to start pumping out space invaders with this thing. Am I right? Or am I right?

The Prisoner:

Taken by Epbot reader Karyn R. at Fan Expo in Toronto.

I would gripe about how Star Wars is always whooping up on 'Trek, but this makes me grin too much to care.

Via both technabob & reddit: how'd you like to submerge your computer in a liquid Bioshock tank?

That's actually mineral oil inside the tank, which is why nothing shorts out. Genius, right? (Lots more details from "sirleechalot," the builder, over at the reddit link.)

And just to even out the whole Star Wars vs Star Trek thing, check out what I stumbled across the other day:

I think this is my favorite. :)

There are lots more where those came from, too. Just go here and click through the six photo galleries. (The site isn't the easiest to navigate, so once you choose a gallery just scroll all the way down to find the pictures.) You also MUST go here and watch video clip #6, since I can't embed it. It's 24 seconds of pure geek glee, including - get this - Dr. McCoy shaking his booty. Literally. Your day will be made. Promise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mail Bag: We...Need Your Help!

Hey guys, help me answer some e-mail, will you? I have two readers here in need of their fellow geeks' input, and I bet between us we can come up with some good ideas for them.

Dilemma #1 comes from Casey:

Because I, like many great people in this world, am a total nerd, I am collecting Pokemon cards again. However, I'd rather not keep them in a box or a binder. I'm an adult now, so I gotta class it up a bit, you know?...[So] Here is my question to you, O Great Display-er of Nerd Memorabilia: How can I display my collection in an interesting and tasteful way? I don't want to just stick a bunch in a collage frame and call it a day. I want non-Pokemon fans to look at them and think, "Wow, those actually look pretty neat!"

Here's a bunch of Pokemon cards for reference.

My thoughts: Casey, if you're ok with destroying the cards (heh), then I'd recommend decoupaging a table top with them, or wallpapering an accent wall. You could also overlap them slightly on a canvas to create some cool wall art: maybe a big wreath/ring, or some neat pinwheel shapes?

Your turn: Let's assume Casey has a bunch of cards here. How would you display them?

Dilemma #2 come from Heather:

Today I went to help my grandma clean out her attic and we found a bunch of old knitting needles. We sorted them and, rather than throwing out all the unmatched ones, she gave them to me. Now, I don't knit, but I would really love to do something crafty with the needles. Any ideas? I'd like to do something a little more than just bending them round for bracelets, so if you've heard of anything, please let me know!

My thoughts: I have to say, bending knitting needles into bracelets actually sounds pretty darn cool! (Looks like crafters do this with plastic needles, too.) However, I can understand wanting something more unique. Hm. Well, if I had a lot of needles, I think I'd glue them all around a wooden cup or clear glass to make a funky bud vase. Then I'd tie a pretty polka-dotted accent ribbon around the middle to finish.

Your turn: I admit, my idea is kind of boring. So, what else could you do with a bunch of mismatched knitting needles?

Leave your advice for Heather and Casey in the comments! Then hopefully they'll let us know what they end up doing [hint hint].

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun Finds

I spend all day every day online, and you readers also share the coolest of the cool links with me. Here's what's currently open in my browser tabs:

First, Erica sent me this amaaazing line-up of quirky boutonnieres from the Offbeat Bride:

They have lots more including LEGO, feathers, and even My Little Pony heads! Go check it out; the whole site is so fun you can easily lose a few hours drooling over all the wedding eye candy. (Almost makes me want to take John up on that whole getting-married-again offer some day. Boy, could we make up for our boring-and-bland wedding now!)

Also good for weddings (or Halloween parties?), Geeks Are Sexy has posted an intoxicating list of 10 Star Trek themed cocktails, including the Fuzzy Tribble and Vulcan Death Grip. Ha!

I love the names, but The Phasers on Stun Punch (above) and Beam Me Up Scotchie are also sounding mighty tasty this Monday afternoon.

Here's a seasonal treat: Pink Ray Gun is offering free pumpkin carving templates every day through Halloween! Here's today's design:

Go here to download the template, and be sure to check their archives for more.

Btw, I am *determined* to carve a pumpkin this year. I've never tried carving just partway through the rind before, so I'm excited to try. I'd like to do the Epbot 'bot on one side (somehow...) but I'm looking for more options for side #2. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments - or better yet, link to a pic I can use!

Oh, and any Ghostbuster designs will, of course, automatically win the submitter my undying respect and admiration. That is all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Crafty Candy Bracelet

With Halloween on the horizon, candy aisles are filling up with my favorite color: orange! I love the cheerful look of candy corn and pumpkins, so last week I got it into my head that it would be fun to make some jewelry with actual candy corn.

Well, after a little trial and error, I did it! Check it out:

Those are actual candies, dipped in epoxy resin! It wasn't *quite* as easy as I thought it would be, but it was still a really fun project. If you want to try it yourself, keep scrolling for progress shots and instructions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

World of GeekCraft

Time to feature more of you readers and your awesome projects!

First, Jenn of Rook No. 17 made one sweet Star Wars party favor: chocolate Han Solo, anyone?

The best part is that Jenn also shows you how to make one yourself! You just need the Han Solo in carbonite "action figure" (that cracks me up) and some silicon plastique for the mold. Check out Jenn's post for more pictures and details.

I love papercraft, and Rachel M.'s robot creations are some of the best I've ever seen:

Not only is this little guy adorable, he's fully articulated! Check out this video to see all the different ways just his arms move. Amazing!

Rachel makes her 'bots out of index cards and Elmer's glue. Here's another cutie:

And look at the level of detail:

Those are just the gears for his neck - and again, all paper! Wowza.

Go to Rachel's gallery for lots more pics and progress shots.

Claudia's friend wanted a plush version of Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, who (for those of you looking confused right now) looks like this:

Claudia says,

After struggling with how to make something plush that would still retain the shake cup shape, I came up with a method that uses 2 different types of paint bucket lids, interfacing, and some heavy wire.

And here he is!

Faaabulous. Way to shake it up, Claudia!

And finally, here's a fantastic example of making jewelry out of unusual objects:

I'll let Sherry G. explain:

I wired Swarovski crystals onto the metal piece, then tied the Celtic knotwork design to make the finished necklace. And that strange industrial-gothic metal piece? It's the stainless steel plate that held my broken elbow together for a year and half! I had the doc save it for me when it was removed. He kindly auto-claved it before returning it to me! I wore it to a follow-up appt and he took me around showing all of his staff, and took pictures to share with his colleagues and the rep he buys the plates from.

I love it: beautiful *and* a great conversation starter! Not to mention a great souvenir from something that was once, quite literally, close to your heart. ;)

So, do you have a great or geeky project to share with your fellow Epboteers*? Then e-mail it to me! We want to see what you're up to!

*I'm trying out a new word. Yes? No? Alternate suggestions?

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself

It's a red-letter day, guys; I recently did my first Epbot interview! Woohoo!

(Ok, this may be more "walaOOOOaagguu!!" than "woohoo!" Sorry.)

I'm going to share a little of it here because I want to add a comment/update on the 2nd question, but after that you should go read the whole thing; Jumble Mash asked some great questions, and I had a blast answering them.

JM: You are crafty. What is your favorite thing to create and how did you become so creative?

Jen: To be honest, my favorite thing is, simply, creating. Anything and everything. If I haven't produced something with my own two hands in more than a few days, I start to go insane. Even if it's just rearranging the bookshelves, or framing a new piece of art: I have to be physically *doing* something to be happy. This has always been the case, but now even more so with Cake Wrecks: working online is producing things in a way, but it's not tangible. I need to hold something and be able to say, "I did this."

Whatever creativity I do have stems from boredom, plain and simple. I bore extremely easily. I don't *think* I'm ADD, but I do plan 10 new projects for every one I finish. I could rattle off a dozen things I want to do for my next Epbot tutorial right now, so it's a little hard to stay on track. My office renovation, for example: I keep getting sidetracked with new art projects or pieces to go in the room, so the official finish date keeps getting pushed back! I also usually have 3 or 4 projects going at once, although I'm happy to say that I *do* finish them all. Eventually. Hehehe.

JM: You have called EPBot your “get-away-from-Cake-Wrecks-stress” blog. Why is Cake Wrecks so stressful?

Jen: Ooooh, how much time do you have? :D

In a nutshell, CW is stressful because it's online and it's popular. That means trying to please everyone all the time, which we all know is impossible. It seems like I'm always walking the razor thin line between humor and offense, as no matter what we do, someone, somewhere, will find a way to be offended by it. (And I'm not talking about the bakers!) Constantly worrying about who we may have inadvertently offended today is very, very wearing.

There are also a lot of demands on my time: besides writing posts there's mostly e-mail, but also everything from handling advertisers to site design, and then also writing the next CW book, organizing/designing calendars, that sort of thing.

[That update I mentioned: Seen today's post on CW? Or the balloon one from yesterday? Those both offended people, to the point that we apparently lost a few readers over it. I like to think we gained far more, of course, since the majority of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but it's still a stress any time we upset someone. Or when someone e-mails to inform me I'm no longer funny. (Um...thanks?)

Some of the remarks made in the comment section about the
Polish flag post also stirred up controversy, to the point that we (and by 'we' I mean 'John') had to step in and sort things out. It really is never ending!]

JM: You speak of your hubby, John, often. How does he handle your internet fame?

Jen: John is truly the most supportive husband, ever. Even before Cake Wrecks, he unfailingly supported my every crazy idea, and was always telling me that I could succeed at anything I wanted to do. For a time I didn't do anything, and he was fine - happy, even - with that, too. When CW took off, John was more excited than I was. Then, when it became too much for me to handle alone, he stepped in and began shouldering the burden with me. I keep waiting for him to get tired of it all, but he never does. He tells me I was always famous to him - that now other people are just figuring it out, too. So, yeah, I have the best guy ever; I couldn't do any of this without him.

Head on over to Jumble Mash for the rest, which includes the secret to my Twitter following, some advice for new bloggers, and lots more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Money Money Money

Ready to see my mystery office desktop? The one John and I have been working so hard on for the past few weeks? And learn how we did it?

I mean, I know *I'm* excited.

Here, I'll ease you in slowly. It all started....[dramatic pause]...WITH THESE:


And it became...[more dramatic pausing]...THIS:


Ok, that's not the best shot. Here, try this one:

Oooh. Aaaah.

Now, on to the photo-intensive tutorial/progress shots! If you want to try this yourself, or just see how insane *we* are, keep scrolling.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Art Attack

Look out: it's an awesome art ambush!

Remember that Urban Decay post I did a while back, about my fascination with abandoned buildings? Well, reader John G. tipped me off to an *amazing* website of breath-taking photographs like this:

[whimper] Oh, the things I could do with those abandoned drawers...

The site is by Yves Marchand Romaine Meffre Photography. (Quite a mouthful, huh?) Here's some more:

I gasped, guys. I literally gasped. It's like a decaying ice palace: so, so beautiful.

And, hold onto your hats, because their site has a whole section on movie theaters, with gems like this:

To quote Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

Check their site for lots more.

I also found (via One Cool Thing a Day) a whole series of those adorable cardboard people I featured in my B.A.D. day post:

They're actually plastic toys, not cardboard, but they have so much personality you can't help but love them.

The photographer is Anton Tang, and you can see lots more of this series both at his website and here.

And finally, Super Punch is hosting a Calvin & Hobbes art contest right now. Here's my favorite entry so far:

It's by Jerrod Maruyama, who specializes in the most mind-blowing Kawaii-style cuteness you will ever see. Seriously. Just look at this:

Piiiigs In Spaaaaaace!!!

And one of my favorite Disney characters:

Cutie Donald!!

Ok, now you must go look through Maruyama's site, or his Flickr account. You'll be a squealing pile of girly goo in no time. Promise.

And if you're artistic at all, go enter Super Punch's contest! He needs more entries, and *I* need to see more amazing Calvin & Hobbes homages.

You can probably tell I have pretty diverse taste in art. ;) How about you guys? Do you assign different styles to different rooms, or do you mash all your favorites together? (And if so, how's that working out for you? [grin])

PS - John and I are playing with blow torches *right now.* Stand by for major craft updates!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Officially Progress

Here's an update on my office make-over. We're almost done! Woot woot!
(To see where we started, click here.)

It's a good think one of my favorite crafty past-times is framing new art. :)

And I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating: a shadowbox frame + pretty scrapbook paper + a scrap of foam board = the best DIY framing EVAH. Just look how cute:

The frame was $5 at JoAnn's, and I already had the fun stripey paper. (The art is by Katie Cook.) Add a square of foam board to lift the art card up about half an inch, and voila! No custom mat needed!

[Update: thanks to Kim, the "print geek" for this reminder: always use acid-free materials if you want your art to last!]

For the prints that do need mats, I sometimes cheat and use black poster board instead:

It's impossible to tell the difference from a distance, really, and soo much easier than going out and ordering a custom mat. Plus, instant gratification: I likes it.

And just to complete the Star Wars theme going on here, check out this bit of hilarious kitschy awesomeness:

This is a record sleeve from 1977. See how "Star Wars" is in huge type? Now see the tiny white squiggle above it? That squiggle says, "Music inspired by." BWAHAHAA!!

When reader Isabelle-George e-mailed me this picture, I was compelled to seek one out for my very own. A quick ebay auction later, I was the proud owner of a mint condition Star Wars disco album.

Hey, your art should make you smile, right?

Oh, and speaking of which, check out this oh-so-adorable pairing:

The Gonzo card was my favorite of the ACEOs I purchased from Katie Cook at the Star Wars Celebration, so I was crestfallen when I realized she'd forgotten to sign it! Fortunately, though, these two look so much like a set that I think it works with just the signature on Sam's card. (If you can't read it, Gonzo's card reads, "Weird love," and Sam's says, "You are all weirdos!" Perfect, right?)

Ok, more progress shots:

Freshly routered (is that a word?) & painted cabinet doors, with big new porcelain knobs.

I'm still working on the wall of cubbies and worktop directly behind my desk. This is the current arrangement, but I have a feeling things will get moved around a lot.

Remember my Labyrinth door knockers? Well, they're finally up!

I loooove them. The doorknobs are antiques that John re-finished and mounted as door pulls. (That was hard.) I'll have better detail shots in my final "After" post.

And finally, here's the (extremely colorful) right side of my desk:

Recognize the little guy between the two Stay-Pufts?!? Yep, I had to order him from Australia (man, I'm such a geek) but thanks to you readers I found the WeenIcon Ghostbuster! And yes, the shipping cost more than he did. Really, you guys are bad for my budget. But I love you for it.

Ok, the next post on my office should be the last, and of the finished product. I still managed to keep a few surprises tucked away, so I'm excited to get to the final reveal! Not to mention show you the AMAZING desktop that John and I have been slaving away on. Fingers crossed we'll be done in another week or two, so wish us luck!

Ok, I'm almost afraid to ask, but...what kind of wall art makes you smile? Have any favorites? Share and link in the comments!