Friday, February 10, 2012

This Friday ROCKS

Today just got a million times better:

Itty bitty banana munches! I die.

(Thanks to Andrea for posting this on the Epbot FB page! Shot by Birdchick)

More reasons today is awesome:

1) It's FRIDAY. Aw yeeeah. High five!!

2) My new steamboat Willie toy arrived in the mail:

Already he has mastered the art of riding my baby AT-AT. :)

3) The nice people at Instructables asked me to join their site and submit my penny desk for their furniture challenge contest, so yesterday I finally did, and today they featured it! MY FIRST EVER INSTRUCTABLE! Woot!

'Course, now I'm anxiously watching the comments for someone to tell me I screwed it all up and I'm an idiot. Heh.

4) As I mentioned on FB, I decided to start an Epbot Pinterest board since I'm spending [mumblemumble] hours there a day anyway. It's been fun going back through all the projects and tutorials on this blog - so much stuff I'd forgotten!

Anyway, for some reason my flip-flop hangers are INSANELY popular over there. As in, everything I've put up has maybe 3 or 4 "repins." The hangers? Seven hundred and sixteen. I don't understand it. But I'm not complaining.

Anyway, I think I'll go eat some chocolate now. [eyebrow waggle]

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Radio Romance, Part 2

You've probably forgotten all about that old radio cabinet I last mentioned ages and ages ago, but believe it or not, we've still been working on it! I'd hoped to do a grand unveiling with it completely finished, but 90% is close enough, right?

So, just to jog your memory, this is what we started with:

(Ever try to take a picture without a cat in it when you have cats? IT'S VERY HARD.)

And here's a shot of it (mostly) finished in our dining room at Christmas:

We scored the empty radio cabinet for $45 at an antique mall. You can see how we painstakingly repaired the front lattice work here.

Last year we were fortunate enough to have my parents in town for a few days, and we immediately put my dad the former electrical engineer to work, wiring up some speakers to make the old cabinet functional again:

My dining room table during The Project.

We used a set of small powered speakers that we already had for our iPod. Because they were battery powered, Dad had to re-wire them to plug into the wall, among other fun things. (More on that in a minute.) We purposely chose low quality speakers because A) they were cheap, and B) we wanted the sound to be kind of low quality, the better the match the vintage look of the cabinet.

John mounted the speakers to a new piece of plywood, and then attached that to the back of the front cabinet panel:

Kindly refrain from commenting on my husband's balls of steel, if you please.

Here's the front of the panel:

Next John painted the exposed wood a plain brown, so it wouldn't show through the mesh:

We replaced the old speaker fabric with brass mesh. It was an expensive upgrade (nearly $20 for a single square foot), but I like the look:

While we were buying the supplies needed to rewire the speakers we also picked up some vintage radio knobs and a pull-on power switch. (The knobs are purely decorative, but the switch actually does turn everything on.) All of those goodies and more come by the bucket load over at Skycraft, a local parts warehouse that's any tinkerer's nirvana. We also picked up some LEDs for a little surprise feature I'll show you at the end of this post.

To hook our iPod up to the speakers, we simply threaded the wire through a pre-existing hole in the right side of the cabinet. (I think it was originally for a microphone or a crank or something.)

But I couldn't just leave our iPod sitting out on top of the cabinet, now, could I?


So I spent six months scouring Ebay for an affordable vintage cigarette case to convert into a small iPod holder.

I never found one. (Grrr...)

Ironically, I eventually stumbled across the perfect solution back at the same antique mart in Virginia where we bought the original cabinet. It looked like this:

This is an antique copper watch case. It's solid metal, and hinges open like so:

Plus it was only $10. SOLD!

I harvested the solid brass name plates to decorate the outside, along with a little extra bling from my jewelry stash:

I carefully sanded off the rough edges and bent each piece to match the curve of the case, and then used tiny dabs of epoxy to secure them:

The velvet interior pops out easily, which allowed John to screw the back of the case to the side of the radio cabinet, directly over the small hole that we fed the iPod wire through:

Ready for the best part?


I used the existing velvet, and just added a band of elastic to hold the iPod in place. Easy peasy! (And I can't believe it took me six months to find.)

I made a special play list just for this radio, and we only play old fashioned big-band music from the 30's and 40's on it. Not usually our kind of music, but it just sounds so RIGHT coming out of those speakers.

Now for that fun feature I mentioned:

Yep, I made John and Dad wire a color-changing LED into my antique radio cabinet. WHAT.

The light shines through the old celluloid that used to show the radio dial. Pulling the power switch turns on both the speakers and the light. It's pretty funky, and I like it.

Here's a crappy cell phone video of the whole shebang in action, taken before we installed the iPod case:

Believe it or not, though, we're still not done.

Because the new speakers only took up a few inches of space inside the cabinet, that left us with a ton of extra room to do something crazy, like, oh, I dunno - build a book shelf inside it?

John built the shelf unit separately, so it just slides into the back of the cabinet. He still has to stain it, so it's just bare wood for now. To be honest, we lost our sense of urgency for finishing the back side when we realized we had no place to put the cabinet where both sides would be accessible. WHOOPS.

So, our radio is sitting against a wall in the dining room, where it will probably stay. Still, once the shelves are stained we'll install them for extra storage, if nothing else, and hope to find a better place sometime later where we can show off both sides!

This (almost) concludes our longest-running project to-date. (Phew!) When we finish the interior shelving I'll try to remember to throw a few actual "finished" shots up for you. And to those of you who've been e-mailing asking me to hurry up and post this; thanks for being patient, and I hope it was worth the wait!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Geek Chic Bling

Sometimes we geeks need more from our jewelry than a sparkly rock on a chain.

Sometimes we need something like THIS:

Kinetic Winged Gear Pendent, $49.95 (thx to Abbi for the link!)

Those tiny gears are laser cut from wood, and they move! I can't decide which I want to do more: wear it or play with it.

Check out the rest of Green Tree Jewelry's "Gear Garb" for more cool kinetic designs - there are also some sweet pulley necklaces over there I've got my eye on.

Here's one for you MST3K fans out there:

$60 at PicaPicaPress, found via

You can insert your own picture in the frame for an instant snarky peanut gallery. I think I'd print out tiny screen shots of some of my favorite sci-fi moments. Oh! Or maybe a shot of Wesley Crusher in one of his famous sweaters. Aww yeeeah.

Dang it, now I think I have to buy one of these.

At first glance, this is just a cool Sputnik-y starburst necklace:

Blue Bursts Resistor Necklace, $22 at digiBling (Thx to Robyn for the link!)

(Is "Sputnik-y" a word?)

At second glance, omigosh those are electrical resistors! How cool!

After a while a lot of sparkly jewelry can start to look the same, but Matina just directed me to an artist with a style that is totally unique:

Event Horizon v8, $39

Youniquely Chic's industrial pendants are the perfect blend of hardware store grunge and Swarovski sparkliness. Tara uses retaining rings and wire wrapping to make the most eye-popping designs:

Ultraviolet Light v3, $39

I'm usually all about symmetry, but these asymmetrical designs are just gorgeous. There's also a small steampunk selection:

Theia v4, $55

Plus, every one of her industrial pendants are only $39, which seems like a steal considering they look like they belong in a pricey jewelry gallery. (Can you tell I'm rationalizing buying one for myself? Or two? Or fourteen?)

Now, you guys KNOW how I feel about adorable robots, so just try to imagine the squealing heard 'round the Jen & John household when Kelsey sent me a link to these:

PicoBaby "The Captain", $20 at Picobaby

SQUEE CITY. Seriously.

It took me a minute, but I just realized who that little guy reminds me of:

Tik Tok from Return to Oz!

And this next one has Sam Eagle written all over it:

"Picobaby the Junior Robot", $24


And one more:

"Picobaby the Pharoah," $38

Each of the bot's bodies are made from an old capacitor, but I couldn't tell you what the rest of the odds and ends are. I just know I want them. ALL OF THEM.

Check out the Picobaby etsy store for lots more designs.

Oh, and that last one is a larger size, which is why it's more expensive. Personally I like the smaller bots better for necklaces, though. (

Ok, that's enough damage to my bank account for one post. Have you guys seen any awesome geek bling this week? Post your links in the comments!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Hunt Is On!

Last weekend John and I started working on our WDW Magic Kingdom scavenger hunt again. Now that the weather's nice and we don't have any book tours or deadlines looming I'm hoping to make some serious progress. (WOOT!!)

In addition to the clues and questions and general trivia tidbits for each area of the park, I'm also working on some park-wide riddles. I'm having a blast writing them, but it's hard to know what's too easy and what's too difficult. So for a test run, here's one of the harder ones:

I’m rude and high and mighty,
And can only be found
Where children screech in glee
And sparkles line the ground.

Who (or What) am I?

The riddles do require a familiarity with the Kingdom (and again, this is for Orlando, not CA), but you don't have to be in the park to know the answer.

Please don't spoil the fun by posting the answer in the comments, but do let me know if you think you know what it is - and whether it's too easy or too hard. Thanks, guys!