Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Arguing Like a Grown-Up

Once, when I was wide-eyed, innocent, and life held the promise of every possibility, I threw a dining room chair at John's head.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Perhaps because it was.

No, no, just kidding: this was ages and ages ago, maybe even as far back as 2009.

John and I don't argue often. This is because - and I say this with as much humility as I can possibly muster - I am really, really bad at it. In fact, I have only two approaches to most conflict: a) self-induced coma, and b) bat-sh*t crazy.

Option A is my usual go-to strategy, and I've found it to be pretty effective over the years. It turns out most people lose interest in arguing with a slightly drooly, vacant-eyed zombie. Plus, my stamina is nothing short of legendary: I can slump motionless against a door for HOURS if need be. And never - ever- challenge me to a game of the Silent Treatment. I will win. And then I will stare at you, slack-jawed and slightly drooly, in silent victory.

Sometimes, though, on a few extremely rare occasions, going comatose doesn't work for me. These are the times when, say, a heated discussion between John and I suddenly ratchets up to "flambé" - or perhaps I'm feeling a little too feisty to slump over effectively.

These, my friends, are the times when dining room chairs may dream of flight. Albeit really short ones. (Flights, I mean. Not the chairs.)

For his part, John has learned how to argue with me quite effectively, which is to say he doesn't. Usually. He views the Silent Treatment as being up there with water boarding, and he's not fond of furniture being hurled in his direction, either, so together we've managed to keep most of our disagreements civil and conversational, as opposed to shouty and furniture-throwy.

Well, I did say "most."

On the occasion in question, when part of our dining room set briefly became airborne, I was, you must understand, deeply entrenched in Option B. And in my defense, the solid wood chair was so heavy I couldn't even get the thing over my head, much less aim accurately for John's. So don't worry; I didn't hit him. Not even close. In fact, as throws go, mine had to be the most pathetic flop in history. Imagine an enraged ferret attempting to successfully flip you the bird while balancing on a Weeble-Wobble, and you'll have some idea of the grace and poise I displayed during my failed furniture-lobbing maneuver. It's a testament to how dearly John values our marriage that he didn't burst into hysterical giggles then and there. That, or maybe he figured something a little more aerodynamic was up next on the throwing roster.

Anyway, the good news is that all of our fights always end the same way: with a hug. [awww]

Granted, this is usually more of a "restraining embrace" on John's part, since I might be otherwise occupied with my attempts to pummel him in the kidneys, but the point is we're eventually able to put our tempers and differences aside and focus on what's really important. Which is to say our mutual love and respect for each other. And also our regard for our furniture.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some chair lifts to do. That throw really was pathetic.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Geek Glee 1.16.11

Thanks to reader Jennifer M., I've recently learned that not all of my future dream doors can be like this Star Trek door.

At least one of them has to look like this:

Made by Flickr user Normal Jean

Rubber chicken optional.

When I first saw this I thought those were real frosted windows, but John pointed out that's just glossy white paint on the top panels. Brilliant! (Not to mention a real time-saver. Aheheh.)

Ever since I found all those great 80's cartoon sheets on Ebay for Jen's beanie post, I've been on a HUGE nostalgia kick. So naturally, I'm loving Etsy store Cinders At Home:

Recognize these Smurf sheets? I know several of you mentioned having them as a kid. Well, Cinders uses these and other vintage sheets to make super happy fun aprons! (Plus pillows and oven mitts and whatnot.)

This kind of thing makes me unreasonably happy. I like that.
See more goodies at Cinder's store here.

And finally, I'm almost afraid to post this video, guys, since I don't know how to tell if it's viewable for you glamorous foreign-types outside the U.S. or not. [winkwink] However, if you can see it, then you simply have to:

I've watched this four times since I found it on Dude Craft a few days ago, and if anything it gets better with each viewing. If you're a fan of papercraft, stop-motion, and/or dogs wearing 3D glasses, you're gonna love it. (You may also find yourself singing "Baay-baay!" for the rest of the afternoon, but that's just a bonus.)

So tell me, guys: what's making you smile today? Share your links in the comments!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Message from Katie

Check out the cool card I found in the P.O. box today!

'Course, the inside is even better:

(Jennifer & Deirdre are the two readers who helped me format Katie's book, and Jack is the cover artist.)

Hope this makes you smile as much as I am right now. Good work, everyone.

Turn On Your Heart Light

Ooh, you guys, I have so many crafty things I want to do, and no time to do them! So instead, I'll just show you three of my recent favorites, so you can all drool and dream with me.

First, a fun modern heart light:

Check out the tutorial here at Paper, Plate, and Plane. (Found via Craft)

This was made with simple foam core and a strand of clearance LED string lights. What I really love, though, are all the possibilities: Pac-Man and ghosts art, anyone? Or old-school Space Invaders? Mmm, so many geeky options...

Next, a simple but stunning lamp mod:

Tutorial here at Poopscape Projects

This is a $7 lamp from Ikea, so again, a super cheap project. Plus, who doesn't have old negatives lying around? (Just don't destroy anything important!)

And finally, Allison of Mod Mischief made this fantastic Valentine's gift for her hubby:

It doesn't actually light up, but seriously, how cool is this?

More pics on Instructibles, but not too much by way of actual instructions: Allison writes that she cobbled this together from an old thermos top, a mason jar lid, and other odds and ends. Again, there are a lot of options, though: just start with a wire heart inside an old light bulb, and then have fun customizing the base from there! You could add gears to ramp up the steampunk look even further, or put the bulb on a sleek painted cube for a more modern look, or...?

So, guys, see anything you want to try? Personally I plan to make them all, it's just a matter of figuring out in what order! The next CW book is due in just four weeks, though, plus John and I are finishing up on the largest house renovation we've ever done, so things are a bit hectic over here. We'll just have to see how much craft time I can squeeze in between now and Valentines. :)

In the mean time, if you
do try one of these projects, be sure to send me pictures!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Shopping Assignment: Wheee!

Ok, geek guys and girls, I have a mission for you!

Actually, this mission comes from another Jen, who is turning a yucky situation into a show-off-her-amazingly-bad-ass-geekery situation. To put a finer point on it: Jen just found out she has cancer.

But - BUT - in her own words, "Don't worry, it's Hodgkins - the most curable wimpy cancer and I shall be triumphant in my whomping of it."

Triumphant whomping! Yes!

Jen goes on, "But, I will lose my hair. So, I am on a mission to find geekie nerdtastic beanies and bandannas to cover my soon to be chrome-dome."

What's that I smell? A SHOPPING ASSIGNMENT?!?

Ahem. Sorry. Please, Jen, do go on.

"What I need are links to said beanies and bandannas. Yes, links. I don't expect (or want) people I don't know to buy me stuff. I'm financially solvent and have good insurance (thank the cosmic muffin). I just need help with the searchin' and the findin' so I can get to buyin'."

Oooh, now this is my kind of mission, guys. C'mon, GEEKY SHOPPING?

So, to get us started, I did a quick search of my own. My first find came from Great White Snark, who, ok, was making fun of it, but for those into Pokemon this beanie is actually really cool:

From SayHedgeHog on Etsy. Currently sold out, but perhaps they'll post more?

Actually, I'm not even into Pokemon, and I would still wear this. Totes adorbz!
(Did I say that right? Still workin' on my groovy/rad/hip lingo.)

Next I went looking for an R2 beanie, since I remember seeing a fabulous one somewhere before. Here's my fav of the ones currently listed on Etsy:

$55 on KnitLush

A little pricey, perhaps, but that detail looks well worth it.

Or how about some Hello Kitty?

$42.95 at tinytangerines, which also has adorable owl and cupcake designs!

For the bandannas, I got to thinking: what if you hunted down vintage character bedsheets/pillow cases and made your own? I'm sure there are already lots of folks on Etsy doing so, but it'd be pretty simple (and cheap!) to crank out your own if you have a sewing machine. A quick search of Ebay turned up sheets for the Smurfs, LoTR, He-Man, Star Wars, Care Bears, Pac-Man, and oh my goodness, I may have to buy some of these!

Plus, most of these look to be selling in the $10 range. Not bad!

Ok, guys, your turn! Share your links to great geeky beanies and/or bandannas in the comments - and please, remember to embed your links so that Jen and the rest of us can click on them!

Happy hunting!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How We Amuse Ourselves


UPDATE: Just three hours later, and we have an illustrated version. Thanks, JRose!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cruisin' For A Bruisin'

Some of you have been asking how our four day (or was it five?) Christmas cruise went.

Ok, one person asked. But still.

To answer that question, I will have to remind you that there were 11 people in our party, 10 of whom were related by blood or marriage, and all of whom have access to the Internet. And then I will have to politely change the subject.

Oh, but wait! I have pictures!

Hm. Well, in that case, I *guess* I can spare a few more details...

Ok. So. The only day worthy of visuals was our stop in Nassau, the Bahamas. Here we visited Atlantis, the famous resort that any of you who have ever been on a Caribbean cruise have probably visited.

Now, I love Atlantis for one reason and one reason only. Can you guess what it is? Considering that I just posted a big picture of one above this paragraph?

Yup. It's the seahorses.


Actually, all of the decor in Atlantis is amazing, and the whole "Lost City" theme is right up my alley. Crumbling plaster, nautical touches, and lots of star maps and armillary spheres? Yes, please!

A pretty ceiling in the main lobby:

And if you've ever been, you'll of course remember these glass sculptures in the casino:

[Update: You commenters are right: this IS the work of Dale Chihuly. According to his site, this one represents the sun, and the blue one down below the moon. Nice!]

If you step outside the casino there's a nice patio/walkway with this view:

That building houses an underwater aquarium and also a restaurant, if I'm remembering right.

And now, let's check in with our vacation correspondent, Mr. Seymour Butz! (woo-hoo!)

*giggle* Yes, I'm 12. Besides, I was getting a real Ocean's 11 vibe here with everyone bellied up to the balustrade, so of course I had to take a picture. And John caught me in the act, of course.

Oops, I just realized my mom isn't in that shot. So here's one of her in front of the aquarium, instead:

That's my grandmother in the chair. She nearly died about an hour prior to this, so this was quite the eventful day for her. (I'll tell you about the almost-dying thing in a minute.)

While you're enjoying the suspense, check out this great shot of John's mom and sister, who I think are checking out the 15-foot manta ray:

I love this shot. You can almost hear the fish saying, "Dude. I'm right HERE."

Ok, now on to Grandma's Action-Packed Almost-Dying Experience, aka, "So I Married An Action Hero!"

It started like any other day.

Well, not really; we were on a cruise. Heh. Um. Maybe I should just skip the intro? Yeah.

So here's the thing: when you have 11 people in your party, deciding on a course of action for the entire group is kind of like trying to steer some massive, unwieldy metaphor for something that's hard to steer. It's hard. Which I guess is why we ended up on the water taxi to Atlantis.

Now, John and I have actually been on a really nice water taxi to Atlantis before. It was a big double-decker with open-air decks, clean seats, and a PA system so the tour guide could narrate the 10 minute trip with ease.

That was not the boat we ended up on.

Our boat was a small, nasty wooden thing with peeling paint, belching fumes, and tiny windows that were fogged with scratches and grime. However, by the time we saw what it looked like we'd already walked a block or so to get there, and with 11 people you don't just change the plan willy-nilly once it's been set in motion.

Before we boarded, though, we did make sure that we could safely get my grandmother - who can walk, but mostly travels by wheelchair due to balance issues - on board. So, we asked the crew for their professional opinions on the matter. In answer, we got lots of enthusiastic "No problem!!"s and head bobs, as they quickly took our money for the tickets. And, in fact, it wasn't too bad: one big step from the dock onto the back of the boat, and then she could sit down again. Easy peasy.

The trip over was smelly, muggy, and unbeLIEVably loud, since the "tour guide" "narrated" our "tour" by bellowing at the top of his lungs directly into my right ear. (This was necessary to be heard over the skull-vibrating drone of the engine.) When he screamed out his first "LADIES AND GENTLEMENS!!" - yes, it was "gentlemens," a double plural - I nearly fell off my bench. I spent the rest of the trip trying to catch a whiff of fresh air through the tiny cracked windows, counting how many times the guide said "gentlemens" (8), and wondering how much I would have to tip the guide to make him *stop* guiding.

It was when we docked that the trouble started.

You see, we had boarded at the back of the boat, which is where small boats like this are meant to be boarded. As you may recall from any previous boat encounters you've had, the front is the pointy bit. It has no railings, walkways, or flat surfaces.

In fact, here's a picture of a boat similar to the one we were on:


Imagine a bigger, banged up, wooden, and completely enclosed version of this. That's what we were on. And that's what they decided to dock front-first.

At first I didn't realize there was a problem. We were seated in the back, which was much lower than the example above, and couldn't even *see* the front of the boat. Then, as the passengers emptied out ahead of us, I realized there were several very steep steps to navigate on the way forward. "Uh-oh," I thought. "Grandma's going to have trouble with those."

Then I stood up and saw that everyone was being forced to crawl out the front windows.


Shocked, I allowed the crew to hustle me forward, trusting that somehow the guys in our party would see Grandma safely ashore. As I climbed the steep steps a crew member grabbed my arm and pushed me towards the left window. "You go out the window," he said, pointing. Like this was a perfectly normal instruction to give in a non-burning mode of transportation.

Seeing no other option, I hitched my leg over the sill and crawled onto the outside deck, where I noted with mounting horror that the "walkway" was approximately 8 inches wide, and rail-less.

Which is how I came to be clinging to the side of a boat in the Caribbean and side-stepping around the edge like James "Twinkle Toes" Bond.

Now, at this point most of the passengers were off the boat, which meant that it was turning into the world's largest teeter-totter. It swayed side-to-side, rising up 6 feet only to crash down again a second later. Normally I find this fun. This time, all I could think was, "My grandmother is about to die."

Eventually I made it onto the dock where a small crowd was gathered, staring back behind me. I almost didn't want to look. But, of course, I had to.

What I saw next will forever haunt me, because - it's hard for me to even type these words - I didn't take a picture. Nope. I'm ashamed to say it, but my hands were glued to my face in such a state of panic that it never even occurred to me to grab the camera. Dang it all.

Well, anyway, here's what I saw: John, my grandmother cradled in his arms, was staggering forward Backdraft-style down the main aisle of the boat. Seriously, the only thing missing was dramatic music and maybe a few explosions. The deck was heaving so violently I was sure he would lose his balance and they'd both go down, but somehow he managed to climb the steep steps inside and get her to the window.

Next, he and my brother helped Grandma crawl out onto the tiny 8-inch pathway. (Around this point my heart stopped. You understand.) With one going before her and one after, the guys then kept their arms around my grandmother's back, pinning her to the boat side as the three of them slowly inched their way down the edge of the wildly pitching deck.

On the dock, roughly half a dozen people prepared to dive into the water in case she fell.

However, as you've probably gathered from the fact that none of my photos showed a dripping wet grandmother, my grandmother made it. When the guys helped her that last step onto the dock a small cheer went up, and eventually - maybe just one or two days later - my heart even started beating again.

The boat crew, I should mention, looked bored and slightly impatient throughout our ordeal.

So, to sum up: never, EVER, take your aged or frail relatives on the crappy Bahamas water taxi. For that matter, don't go yourself, either. Take the car taxi. It's well worth the extra $2. Trust me.

And now, your moment of cruise zen:

(I have no explanation. Just the picture.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sweet Tweets

Some geektacular goodies hogging my browser tabs today:

- The Disney Wedding Blog has a sweet photo feature on Cheryl & Adam's Steampunk Wedding:

Click the link for lots more eye candy, and don't miss the wedding cake!

(Why, oh why, wasn't I invited?!?[sob])

- Stained glass TARDIS clock, anyone?

- One of the funniest things I've read in a loooong time: How To Put On a Sports Bra.

"Step 1: Approach the sports bra with confidence, secure in the belief that you will wear it."

It's hysterical. You must read it. (Found via SuperPunch.)

- Speaking of hysterical, behold the newest thing since Vajazzling: the Tajazzle.

It's essentially a rhinestone sticker you stick on your lady business. However, they've managed to make it a "3-step system" that is the "ultimate in personal confidence" and costs "$39.95." Seriously. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Go see the ridiculously long 30 minute infomercial here, complete with horrendous acting and lots of babes in bikinis wearing the rhinestone sticker everywhere *except* their lady business. (Do I need to tell you the videos are not exactly safe for work?)

Actually, just watch the first minute of the second half; that'll be enough. Plus, watching this guy here:

...earnestly explaining how the Tajazzle body powder makes him "feel fresh" just made my entire afternoon. (Again, vids are NSFW, but there's no nudity, either.)

- And finally, for your "dreampunk" jewelry fix, check out the Girls Are Geeks' feature on Bionic Unicorn, one of my favorite Etsy sellers. In fact, I couldn't resist buying the first necklace they featured:

Orange and blue! Wheee!

Click the link for more info on what "dreampunk" is (I like it!), and also for a discount code in case you decide to go shopping!

So guys, what's caught your eye today? Any good links? Share them in the comments!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Plethora of Penny Jewelry

Ok, clearly I have a thing for pennies. The good news is I'm not the only one; many of you readers are catching the one-cent spirit, too! Just look at some of the amazing jewelry ideas you've been sending in:

Epbot reader SJ helps lead Girlscout troop #1287 in Kentucky. Inspired by my smashed penny tutorial, she had all the girls get their own pennies during a field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo - and then they turned their smooshed souvenirs into rockin' penny pins!

Here's the whole troop, proudly wearing their pins:

If you click on the photo to see the large version, you'll see how each girl's pin is slightly different. I love the designs, and the dangling chains and beads!

Amy D. made this gorgeous bracelet:

Shades of blue and teal look *amazing* with the copper, don't you think?

And Sonya G. used a fabulous chunky chain for hers:

Jessica M. incorporated her dinosaur penny into this fun dino-themed charm bracelet:

Note the little frame with the word "Rawr" in it. :D

Rachel S. found this next example over at FusionBeads:

I'm loving how the pennies are bent slightly to fit the curve of your wrist, and the little bead clusters make it surprisingly elegant. I may have to try this!

And finally, some of you are *also* acquiring (and happily pounding away on) your own doming blocks. [wiping away tear] And I am SO PROUD. [sniff]

Emily M. made this perfectly patinated pair of wheat penny earrings:

[Correction: Emily's husband made these for her. Go, hubby!]

And over at Land Pirate Designs there are a couple of different penny designs. This is my favorite:

(Thanks for the link, Allison E!)

I've actually tried making a design similar to this, but I hit a few roadblocks. For one thing, drilling the holes at the right angle on the curved surface is pretty difficult with my Dremel, and you have to drill a *lot* of holes. (You can't drill before doming the coin, because the doming process distorts the holes. I learned that the hard way, too.) So now I'm thinking I need a drill press. Sorry, John. :D

So, have you guys made any penny jewelry of your own? Share your links in the comments; I'm always looking for more inspiration!

Oh, and if you're in the market for a doming block, go to Harbor Freight Tools. This set (the one I got):

...is only $39.99 there. Suh-WEET! (I don't think you'll find a better price anywhere than that.) I also found this set over on Amazon for less than $50, but it doesn't look nearly as nice.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Katie's Book

Want to see the best gift I gave this year?

I have to share, because I really can't even take credit for it; over 3,300 of you readers helped me create it:


This, my friends, is a 552 page book comprised of all of your encouraging comments to Katie the Star Wars girl. Pretty cool, right?

The cover art is by comic artist Jack Lawrence, who was inspired to create it after first reading about Katie:

Fortunately he was delighted to grant me permission to use it for the cover. (Thanks again, Jack!)

I also have to give a shout-out and big thank you to readers Deirdre Popp and Jennifer Reid, who helped me format the 700+ page document down into a more manageable 550-ish pages, a feat which took many more hours than I had to spare!

Here's the dedication page:

It reads,

To Katie, from the readers of Epbot.com.

Whenever you're feeling down, or lonely, or pressured to be someone you're not, we hope you'll flip through these pages and remember that there are thousands and thousands of us out here, cheering you on.

(The bottom line credits Jack, Deirdre, and Jennifer.)

Following the dedication page is Carrie's original article, and then my own blurb from here on Epbot.

Here's a sample page spread from the inside:

I have to tell you guys: I never dreamed this book would look this nice. I was positively *giddy* when it arrived in the mail. It's such a tangible expression of geeky solidarity - I didn't want to put it down!

Which reminds me: I have to give another shout-out to Lulu, the self-publishing site I used to order Katie's book. Getting all the formatting ducks in a row was kind of a pain - it's very much a DIY site - but in the end the total cost for this huge hardcover was less than $30. Seriously. And it looks a-MAZ-ing. So, consider this my ringing endorsement for Lulu. Great stuff.

Thanks again to everyone here who contributed to Katie's book, and of course to Katie's mom Carrie, who started us all off on this wild and wonderful journey. And, Katie? We hope you love your book, and will cherish it and the memories it represents for many, many years to come. MTFBWY!

UPDATE: I've already had several of you ask if you can order your own copy of Katie's book. Turns out, you can! I've adjusted the settings on Lulu, so all you need is this direct link to order a copy. (I'm not making any money on this: you'll pay the same amount that I did.) I hope it helps encourage lots of other Geek Girls (and boys!) out there!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No, I Didn't Fall Overboard

Sorry for the radio silence, guys; my health took a nasty turn this past week, and I'm just now forging my way back into the land of clogged inboxes, funny cakes, and awesomely geektastic steampunkery. (Srsly, how cool is my life?)

I hope you all have had and are having a fantastic holiday break! I also hope to return to my regularly scheduled program of entertaining (read: embarrassing) family anecdotes and crafty geekery very soon, but in the meantime....

Can I please have a pair of these for a late Christmas present? [Bambi eyes] Pleeeeese???

This was filmed by Epbot reader Veronica B.'s mom at the Knoxville Zoo, and you can actually hear Veronica talking in the background. On a side note, I love that you guys think of me when you see something this cute. Over at CW, it's all, "This cake was SO DISGUSTING, I immediately thought of you!" Yeah. Um. Thanks?

Now: can I please have a baby red panda? Or two? I promise to be VERY GOOD this year. :D

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Can Explain...

I've spent the entire day today wearing a knee-sock on one foot with no shoe and a flip-flop (no sock) on the other. I'm also sporting cut-off yoga pants, a mismatched Disney t-shirt, and a big floppy robe. Sometimes there was also a skirt involved - but don't ask me how.

So, obviously, I've been packing.

Here's the thing: I hate packing.

So that's the thing.

In related news, John and I are going on a cruise with our families tomorrow. We'll be gone five days. Our sanity, however, caught an early flight out sometime yesterday afternoon.

We have relations flying in from California, Texas, and Maine, plus my parents drove down from Virginia, and John had to organize pretty much all of it: the hotels, the flights, the how-much-luggage-can-fit-in-YOUR-trunk?, and, of course, the cruise itself. Afterward we're hosting Christmas morning here at our place, so there's also been that to plan/freak out over.

Now, because our trunk space driving back from the port is limited, John asked everyone to please try to pack light.

My mother - always one to take instructions seriously - showed up with one pair of pants. One. (Thankfully, she was wearing them.) In fact, the sum total of her luggage could have been contained in some of my larger purses.


Upon learning this yesterday, I gently explained to my mom that we were going on a cruise, not a 2-day stint in a war-zone foxhole, and that she would not, in fact, be required to carry all of her luggage on her person at all times. So off to Ross we went, where, after much cajoling, I was able to convince her to purchase a black skirt and a black pair of jeans.

Now, I know what you're thinking: they still make black jeans? Yes, my friends, they do. But more importantly, I clearly did not get my mom's sparse-packing jeans. I mean genes. I just need things when I leave home: shoes and hair creams and - for the love of sweet mercy - my tweezers.

Still, I did my best, and I think I've managed to condense my bare necessities down to a manageable amount.

I just hope I remembered to pack some pants.

Anyway, stay tuned for what I'm sure will be absolutely hysterical reports on our family vacation. And maybe some coded pleas for help. (If I start referring to myself as Inigo Montoya, call the Brute Squad, stat.)

UPDATE: Yes, I have my passport. More importantly: it's no longer expired. Less importantly: I'm never going to live that down, am I? ;)