Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Craft: Geek Stitch

Back when I was young and bored, I used to do a lot of cross stitch. I still find the tedium of the craft soothing, but these days I don't have hours on end to sit stitching, so I've mostly retired my floss and needles.

Then I saw this pattern a few weeks ago:

As soon as I saw this I thought of Number1, who recently moved to Minneapolis. C'mon; it's a scannable QR code that reads "Home Sweet Home." Yes, please!

The pattern was only $3.50 from Velvet Elvii, and it was e-mailed over within just a few hours. I still have my old XS materials, too, so I managed to scrounge up everything I needed without spending any more moolah on it.

Oh, and I changed up the colors a bit to give mine more of a graphic punch:

I just love black and white and yellow together. So cheery.

I don't know about you fellow stitchers, but I've never had an easy time of framing my finished pieces. I never remember to leave enough room on the edges, so I usually just sandwich the fabric in a frame and hope it doesn't droop or sag too much.

I planned to frame this one, in fact, and spent a fair amount of time putting together this laser-cut paper background to lay the fabric on:

But unfortunately the X-stitch just didn't look right with it. Too busy. This will have to wait for another project.

If you decide to skip the frame as well, here's what I did:

First, find a heavy mat board to use as a base. Don't use flimsy cardboard or card stock, because those could bend or warp. (Also, I should note that if you want your piece to last, always use acid-free and archival quality materials and adhesives.)

Cut the board to a size just slightly larger than your pattern.

If your board isn't already the color of your fabric, glue a layer of paper to the side your fabric will lay on. (You don't want a distracting color showing through the holes in your fabric.)

Once your paper is glued and trimmed in place, lay your fabric on the board and fold the edges over the edges:

Glues the edges down (I used a simple white craft glue), but leave the corners sticking up for now.

When all the sides are glued and dried, take each corner and press it down so it forms a square, like this:

DON'T GLUE IT YET. Just press with your fingers to get the creases in place.

Now, carefully - carefully - snip off the two wedges your creases outlined:

As you can see, this removes the excess fabric and allows your corners to sit almost flush.

With both side wedges removed, your corner will look like this:

Now simply grab that top point and pull it straight down, being sure to glue the edges well to avoid fraying.

When you're done, the back of your piece should look something like this:

And here's the front:

See how nice and tight the corners are?

Oh, and if you wanted to give your piece a little more of a puffy/pillowy look, you could always add a layer of batting between your fabric and the board. Well, I mean, you can't NOW, but you could have back before we glued the fabric down. (See why you should always read all the instructions before starting?)

I wanted this design to be perfectly flat so the QR code would scan easily, but most small patterns actually look pretty cute as miniature pillows - they look nice hanging on door handles. And in those cases, a few minutes with the sewing machine and a pretty coordinating fabric is all you need.

Anyway, getting back to this project, now all that's left to do is glue on a ribbon for the hanger, and then cover the back with another square of paper or felt to make it look nice and neat:

And finally, with a little help from John and his phone, allow me to present the moment of truth:

[drumroll, please...]



Oh, and Number1? You may have a package coming in the mail soon. Um. Surprise? :D

Next up I have at least four more geeky patterns I want to buy from Velvet Elvii. How 'bout you guys? Where do you find great patterns?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Double Trouble

You guys, there's a new Simon's Cat video! And it's soooooo gooooood!!

If by some tragedy you haven't seen this whole hilarious series, go watch them all on Simon's channel here.

Sorry for the light posting of late, btw. This book tour is slowly killing me; we're mired in a last-minute scramble to reschedule a few stops, figure out how to fit 5 weeks' worth of show gear - including a full sound system - in a single SUV, and fighting some of my recurring health problems besides. Ironically, I expect I'll have more time to post when we're actually on the road!

Anyway, I'll be doing more quick links and updates on the Epbot FB page, if you start feeling any withdrawal pangs. Thanks for hanging with me!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Geek Chic Shopping

And just try to say that seventeen times fast.

Some fun stuff on my shopping radar this week:

Sent over by my friend Missy:

A ghost trap decal for your iPhone! $6 from Killer Duck Decals

Remember: when the light is green...!

Since I'm going to be in Canada in November, I'm thinking one of these may be in order:

"Fluffy Kitty Happy Hoodie" $48 from Shana Logic

It's a bit anime geeky, right? Sooo cute.

You all know of my fascination with book purses, so naturally I'm all agog over RECORD purses:

Submitted by Nemmy; From Cover to Cover Purses, $45.00

Genius! I especially like how they hinge the top of the record for the flap. There are lots of records to choose from, too, ranging from $45 to $55.

And for those of us who prefer to DIY, did you know you can buy the pattern to make that amazing Star Wars Quiet Book that went viral last week?

So. much. awesome.

$10 at Julie's Etsy store here gets you all the instructions and patterns. Nifty!

And for more inspiration, check out Julie's Star Trek quiet book! I think she's working on a pattern for that one, too. I don't even have kids, but I'm seriously feeling the need for her "Make Picard human again" page:

Picard in lil' red undies just made my day.

And here's some geeky shopping you can do for free: official Portal ringtones! My favorites are the Turret Wife Serenade and Science is Fun.

Of course, getting them onto your iPhone requires either an act of divine intervention or a tech-savvy husband, so prepare to get a bit stabby if you don't have either of those on hand. (Why must you make it so hard, Apple? WHYEEE?!)

The good news is I finally have a cool ringtone, though, so many thanks to Jess for the link!

What cool stuff is on your wishlist this week, guys?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Steam: Invention of Love

This almost-silent art film is filled with stunning imagery, although I should warn you it has a sad ending:

I was especially impressed with the cityscapes and the mechanical butterfly. You?

I've seen this a few times over the past year, but thanks to Sara P. for reminding me of it!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Let's Give John a Shot

After lulling me into a false sense of bloated security with a rack of ribs at Smokey Bones tonight, John drove us next door to the Walgreen's parking lot.

"I thought maybe now we'd get our flu shots," he said, halo gleaming.

Betrayed by BBQ. Curses.

The good news - and by "good" I mean "pathetic" - is that John and I are equally squeamish about shots. No, that's not quite right; John's actually passed out from a shot before, and I haven't. So he wins that one.

We researched the up-the-nose inhaler flu shot thingy, but it turns out those can have more side effects, and no one in town stocks them anyway, because - and everyone we spoke with took great pleasure in relaying this information - only kids get those.

Here's where I'm supposed to say it really wasn't that bad, I barely felt a thing, etc. etc. And maybe I would be saying that if I hadn't flinched so hard. As it was, ow.

Anyway, the lovely Kavita, our long-suffering and utterly charming needle-wielder, made the process as painless as possible, I'm sure. And I'm not just saying that because I got her to pose like Dracula looming over John for his shot:

John looks beet red in this picture, but that's actually an improvement: usually he goes sickly pale around needles. I like to think the non-stop laughter helped.

And speaking of non-stop laughter, if you haven't seen this already on my Twitter or Facebook feeds, you've GOT to check out Guy on a Buffalo:

(Yeah, it's weird. Keep watching anyway.)

And dare I say episode 2 is even better?

There's an episode 3 out now, too.

John and I are mildly obsessed; I think it gets funnier every time we watch it. Now we're randomly blurting out "Cheaper than adoption!" and "Hey, what's this, a baby? Awesome," in almost every conversation.

Oh, and naturally John decided he HAD to buy the t-shirt:

You can get the shirts (including other colors) at The Possum Posse's website for about $20.

And, [hinthint] there's a possibility John will be wearing this shirt in The Possum Posse's hometown on the tour. I can't announce anything official yet, but due to popular demand we're working on some last minute itinerary changes. But you didn't hear that from me.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Art Attacks to Make You Grin Like a Big Goofy Kid

I like my art to make me happy.

These'll do.


X-Babies by Skottie Young
Submitted by Mary B. via The Curious Brain

Those expressions! Ha!

The playful side of Big Daddy:

By Jonathan Case


How about a little steampunk Portal?

The Gentlemanly Escort Cube by deviantART user *Risachantag
Submitted by Paige A.

"Steam pipe" with a twist. ;)

I cannot NOT giggle every time I see this:

By DeviantArt user kibou87

Don't you just want to squeeze him?

This next one is made from spools of thread, and you have to view it through a special glass to see it right side up:

Superman by Devorah Sperber
Submitted by Lucy M.

Nifty, huh?

Something fitting for Jim Henson's birthday this week:

ID17 Series 2 by Andy Awesome Art
Submitted by Marisa R.

Which is a perfect segue to this amazing trailer for the new film Being Elmo, which I desperately want to see. Just these few minutes made me so happy I actually teared up a bit - and I dare you not to do the same:

I had no idea there was only one main performer for Elmo! Amazing, inspiring, heart-warming - seriously, I have a whole new respect for "Elmo" now.

Is your grin now firmly in place? Good, good. You may now proceed with your work week.

What art makes you smile, guys? Links in the comments, please!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Gettin' Real

Today John and I test drove yet another rental car in our quest for a book tour Mode of Transportation. As you all know I had my heart set on an RV for this trip, but for reasons too boring to list, that proved impossible. So instead we're making the best of it, asking the publisher to set us up in our favorite hotel chain, Hyatt Place (which, interestingly enough, is mega-tons cheaper than most of the hotels they put us in last time) and seeking out the safest, comfiest, and yet not TOO massively huge vehicle to tote all our stuff around for five weeks.

The first car was a big SUV with fancy displays and heated seats:

This channel only plays Rear Window! Bo-ring.

But it just wasn't comfortable. It was so big inside I felt like I was riding in a bouncy high chair.

If you follow me on Twitter you know about my mobile Disco party in the next car we tried; it had neon lights inside that changed color:


That car was too small, though, since we'll be lugging around a whole sound system, prizes, and all our luggage in the thing.

Fortunately the third try was the charm; John found an SUV that rides low like a car, called the Ford Flex. It's big, but it doesn't feel massive; I can reach the armrests and everything!

Bringing our own sound system is a last-minute decision, btw, and while it sounds insane for the author to show up with a trunk full of speakers, it should prove far less stressful in the long run. For our previous tours John had to scramble in each store to make everything work, and we frequently showed up to find there was only a single microphone, or the feedback was horrendous, or the system wouldn't work with our laptop without jumping through a lot of technical hoops. (Or, as those of you in Dallas may recall, sometimes the system didn't work at all.)

This is happening in our living room right now. Only with John doing bad karaoke versions of Michael Bublé songs. It's very distracting.

As an added bonus, with this sound system we can also include audio with our photo slideshow, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and we're having a blast putting together some fun new video content for the show. (Let's just say it's getting closer to an actual Rave Party all the time.) I just wish we'd had this option for the first tours!

On a personal note, I'm bouncing between white-knuckled terror and giddy anticipation for this final run. Since I tend towards "control-freak worry-wart," the terror usually trumps the giddiness, but I have John to balance me out. John can't WAIT. He absolutely loves being on tour, which makes me wonder if that stint in the Dallas ICU didn't cause a little brain damage. "It'll be a great adventure," he tells me, "We'll be traveling the country together!" he says, "I probably won't almost-die!" he claims. Blah blah de-blah blah. Not sure I'm buying it.

(Don't get me wrong; I love meeting everyone on tour, as I've mentioned before. Managing two blogs and a book launch from our car while we drive over 5,000 miles cross-country for 5 weeks, however, is more than a little daunting.)

At any rate, just wanted to keep you all apprised, in case you're wondering where all my crafty tutorial stuff has gone. After hand making and packaging 120+ individually boxed and bow-tied carrot jockey necklaces, my crafty streak is taking a little break.

This is the tour pile. The rest will go on sale in November.

In the meantime, guess I'll just have to point you to other great craft projects, huh? Here's one: have you seen the DIY sandwich box from a milk jug? So clever!

Just under three weeks 'til we leave. Yep. It's gettin' real. 0.o

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Marriage, in IM

John and I instant message and video chat a lot, even though we're both in the same house and are never more than 50 feet away from each other at any given time. Because yelling is annoying. And getting up and walking is CLEARLY out of the question.

Anyway, I thought this recent chat really captured the true "essence" of our relationship:

(I answered him out loud the first time, thus the "Can't hear you" remark.)

Of course, the best part was hearing his belly laughs from across the house.

How to Transfer Your Pics from Facebook to Google Plus

For those of you fed up with Facebook and considering taking the plunge to Google Plus, here's a simple method for transferring all your FB photos to G+. (Scroll down on that link; it's the very last tutorial.) When I did this last week I found that the Chrome extension has been renamed from Move2Picasa to Move Your Photos, so you may have to search for it - but it still works the same. The process is as easy as installing a free Chrome extension and opening two browser windows - a real life-saver, if you've been accumulating photos on FB for a long time.

The only part that stumped me was finding my albums after they'd been transferred to Picasa, which is G+'s image host. So if you have the same problem, here's what you do:

Click on the Photos icon in your top bar on G+, and you'll see "Your albums" in the left-hand side bar. Click that, and you'll see a list of all the photo albums you just moved.

When your photos are transferred over they're automatically set to limited visibility, meaning most people can't see them. To make them visible/public, click each album individually and set its visibility level there. You can choose to share each album with just certain circles, everyone, or no one. Easy peasy!

Unfortunately this process does not transfer your picture captions from FB, so you'll have to add those in manually if you want them back. Still, it's better than starting from scratch!

Oh, and just to clarify: all of your images will still be on Facebook. This process just copies them to Picasa, so you won't be losing anything.

Hope this helps some of you out there! (And thanks to Brian M. for the link to that tutorial!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Best D*C Video Yet

[running in]


You have to see this:

So fun!

I am insanely jealous of the mad skillz on display here, and I'm not just talking the costumes; the quality of the shots and all that video editing is amazing. Not to mention these guys saw a ton of fabulous cosplay that I didn't. [pouting]

Oh, and the Where's Waldo ending cracked. me. up.

Major props to Micah Moore, Blake Faucette, and Rick Burnett for capturing all the fun of Dragon*Con in under five minutes. I hope this becomes a yearly tradition, gentlemen!

(And thanks to reader AK Richards for the link!)

Friday Finds

John just rushed in to show me his new favorite video, and I must admit, it's a doozie:

via Wimp

(Turn up your sound for big kitty purrs!)

And completely unrelated but a good read for anyone who works online: SEO for Non-Dicks.

I've always had the impression that self-professed "SEO builder gurus" were a bunch of scam-artists, even though I know there must be some exceptions. This article explains how honest and straight-forward blogging achieves results that rival all the deceptive tricks out there, which makes me feel better about blowing off all the aforementioned "gurus" who contact me from time to time and make me feel like an idiot for not using their scummy tactics. Wheaton's Law ftw, people!

And finally, after countless hours of online browsing, John and I finally - FINALLY - have gotten our own laptop decals. Let's see if you can guess whose is whose:

And before you berate me; yes, I know they're not officially licensed products - none of the character and game decals are - and I feel kind of crummy about that. But I love them.

(Although the Portal one still needs a small cake decal for the top corner, don't you think? And does anyone know where I can get one? All the stickers I've seen so far are too big.)

Hope you guys are having a great Friday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SG:A Surprises

John and I have spent this week making miniature polymer clay carrots and gluing plastic naked babies to them.

Ah, the glamorous life.

Anyway, to keep ourselves from going insane, we set up our work table in front of the TV and have been watching marathon sessions of Stargate: Atlantis while we work each night.

Considering we've spent 4 or 5 hours a night so far, that's a lot of SG:A. And I love it.

Now. Some revelations:

Guess who I spied in the background of the episode "The Storm"?

Recognize that Genii foot soldier?

It's Cory Monteith, aka Finn from Glee!

When I went online to verify it was him, I found out he was also on SG-1's "200" playing young Mitchell:

It's fun to spot celebs you know now in older shows, right?

Ah, but here's another goodie: do you know who THIS is?

Besides the little girl Wraith from "Instinct," I mean.

Well, would you believe...'s Jewel Staite? Aka Kaylee from Firefly, and who also played Dr. Keller later on SG:A? I recognized her voice; otherwise I don't think you'd ever know under all that creepy Wraith make-up.


Anyway, just had to share. Now if you'll excuse me, I have more of this business to attend to:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Geek Glee 9/20/11

Things making me smile this week:

Beaker Boba graffiti:

Found by Beth B. via World Graffiti (Sorry, site no longer exists.)

8-bit sunglasses:

Fun, but $285?? Yikes. I wonder if you could DIY?
(via Likecool)

I never get tired of on-set photos like these:

Found by Amy H. via ThisIsNotPorn

Speaking of which, you've got to see this roundup of awesome behind-the-scenes photos from classic movies. My two favorites:

Jim Henson. Love.

For some reason it never occurred to me that there was a person inside the Stay Puft suit. Aaand now it is my life goal to be the person in a Stay Puft suit. I just have to learn how to mold a giant foam latex marshmallow man. No biggie, right? 0.o
And finally, in honor of The Rocketeer's 20th anniversary a while back, check out this amazing fan film by John Banana. It's pretty much how The Rocketeer would have looked if Pixar had made it.

Like I said: amazing.
(Thanks to Debbie C. for the link!)

What's making you smile today, guys?