Monday, July 16, 2012

Jen's Gems 7/16/12

I bet it would be impossible to feel sad if you had this hot air balloon mobile to look at all day:

 Spotted by Lydia F. over at  Craftiness is Not Optional (Hit the link for lots more pics & details)

It's just so gosh-darned cheerful.

Jess hand-stitched the balloons from felt, and even though I literally draw blood every time I even thread a needle, I am seriously tempted to try making one. (Jess promises to post a template and tutorial soon, too, since she also made that awesome wooden hanger. WE ARE NOT WORTHY, Jess!)

Speaking of hand-stitched cuteness, look what I stumbled across while researching my Villain Sweets for CW last weekend:
 Plush Joker & Harley! Made by Nebulous Frog over on Etsy, found via SuperPunch

I especially like Joker's hair, and Harley's ruffled cuffs. So perfect.

Harriet spotted these custom Mario shoes commissioned by a bride for her wedding:

At first I assumed they were decoupage, the art is just so fantastic. Then I realized it's all hand painted! WOW.

They're by Alexandra Trim of Bbee Shoes on Etsy, who has so many jaw-dropping works of art for your tootsies it's kind of ridiculous. Plus, if heels aren't your thing, she also paints Vans!

Calvin! And Hobbes!! [SQUEEEE!!!]

You know, I've never worn Vans before - just Chucks. I'm thinking I should change that...

This video is a bit old for an Internet find, since I waited a whole week to post it - but if you haven't seen this cutie-pie baby Jedi yet, you must:


Watch 'til the end - it just keeps getting more adorable! (And thanks to Sarah L. for finding it!)

For those of you who've already seen that video, though - and even for those who haven't - I'll leave you with the most visually delightful minute I've had all week. Robots, dubstep, and a some Tron-esque lighting effects? What's not to love?

P.S. I know not all of you follow me on Facebook (for shame!) so I just have to share my update from yesterday:

"Just video-chatted with my mom for an hour, during which she excitedly showed me all FOUR of the steampunk hats she made for herself for Dragon*Con. Yep, she has a different hat for every day. There are lots of gears. And feathers. And glitter.

"In short, I am being shown up BY MY OWN MOTHER."

Yep, I've created a monster.  
But I couldn't be more proud.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Steam 7/14: Home Decor Edition!

For today's Steamy roundup I thought I'd focus on steampunk home decor. This is probably the most accessible steampunk area, since even the most conservative non-geeky types tend to like the look of vintage mechanical and/or industrial items worked into their interior design.

Let's start off with Epbot reader Angela E.'s AMAZING new bathroom, shall we?

THAT LIGHT! [swoon] And the dark wood cabinetry, and the copper sinks, and the weathered stone tile... [double swoon]

Angela tells me the room still isn't entirely finished, but I'd say she's well on her way to having the steamiest bathroom of the year. Check out that amazing clock over her equally amazing copper soaking tub:

The clock is by steampunk artist Dale Mathis, who has several famous furniture designs you may have seen before. Here's a close-up of the clock (titled "Wicked") from his website:


Click on over to Angela's blog for more pics and details - or, if you're like me, to ask if you can move in to her bathroom. I'll even bring my own pillow, Angela! (Btw, have I mentioned that I can practically wash my hands in the sink while taking a shower in my bathroom? No? Consider it mentioned.)

This just popped up in my Pinterest feed last night, and I am officially in love:

I am eying every wall in my house now, looking for a place to hang/lean a gigantic clock face.

Now I'm going to rant for a bit about the web of thieving Tumblr and Pinterest accounts that REFUSE to properly credit sources, thereby flooding all the Google image results with redundant, non-credited links, and making it pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to find and credit the original source. ARG.

Of course, stuff like this makes me so mad that it becomes my personal mission in life to find the source anyway, so, twenty minutes later...I'm reasonably certain this was taken in the French boutique Chateau Sonoma by Beryn Hammil Design. (They don't explicitly SAY they took the photo, though, so if I'm wrong please tell me in the comments.)

K, rant over, and moving on...

Here's a fabulous idea for upcycling old globes:

From Anecdote Design on Etsy (although it sold two years ago.)

And for more stellar upcycled globe ideas, check out this post over on Dishfunctional Designs - so many great designs!

Here's another brilliant potential DIY, this time from the catalog Napastyle:

It's about $100 from the catalog, which isn't a bad price - but if you have some old fence boarding, a map, and some glaze, why not try it yourself?

Kristine over at The Painted Hive posted this brilliant sconce makeover using a plastic safety light cage, if you can believe it:

Hit the link up there for details and process-shots; it's brilliant. Pun intended.

Prepare for a design-gasm. Then feast your eyes on this industrial piping book shelf, complete with attached lights:

By Stella Blue Designs on Etsy - and there are several different styles to choose from.

The phrase, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" comes to mind.

Here's a positively genius idea for your next steampunk-styled furniture makeover:

 Cut up an old leather belt, and use it for draw handles!

Like I said, GENIUS.

Via Apartment Therapy - hit the link for a tutorial, if you need it.

I mentioned Melanie R.'s patent prints in a post not too long ago, but I neglected to show off her fabulous steampunk living room.  Time to remedy that!

[nodding] Leather couch, hardwood floors, yes, yes, and what's that on the table top?

Ooooh, I like it!! And the gear buttons on the accent pillow? DELISH.

Plus, check out her ceiling fan:


Melanie didn't mention where she got the table or fan, so you guys will have to beg her for details in the comments if you want to know.

And finally, I'll end with the window to end all windows (although the room it's attached to is a bit vanilla):

Doesn't it look like something straight off the Nautilus? Or maybe the luxury passenger car of a dirigible? Add a few giant rivets on the cross beams, put a well-worn circular leather couch in front of it, maybe cover the rest of the walls with shelves and shelves of books... [dreamy sigh]

Hey, John? Can we knock out a wall somewhere and put this window in? Pretty please?

Hope you guys enjoyed the home design goodies! As always, I welcome your photos and finds; just send 'em to me via e-mail or over on the Epbot Facebook page!

The Best of San Diego Comic-Con...So Far (And In Tweets)

Every year during Comic-Con I have an annual tradition of getting absolutely nothing done here while I obsessively read SDCC tweets and drool with jealousy over everyone there. (Except for the standing-in-lines and being-crushed-in-massive-crowds parts, of course. Those I'm ok with missing.)

Today is the biggest day of the con, so there's still lots, LOTS more to come, but in the meantime I just had to share a few gems with those of you not dedicated/insane enough to spend every waking moment since last Thursday poring over twitpics. See? My obsession = your gain!

- Adam Savage (of Myth Busters) dressed as a Ring Wraith from LOTR

(all pics via Adam's Twitter feed)

Every year Adam plays "Adam Incognito" at SDCC; he dresses up in some amazing costume, tweets hints, and the first person to find him wins a prize. (At Dragon*Con last year he was Chewbacca, and tweeted hints like "I'm carrying a purse.") This year he was a bit generous with his first hint, though, and was spotted almost immediately upon emerging from the elevator. Kind of a shame, really; I like trying to crack his hints from afar.

Awesome Cosplay

Cell coverage is spotty at best at SDCC, so for the most part we'll all have to wait 'til after the weekend for the the cosplay slideshows to start - but here are a few teasers that made it out:

 via @JenniferLanda (and that's her in the costume)

via @thinkgeek

I don't pay much attention to most of the toys that come out at SDCC, but my friend Amy (@Amy_Geek) spotted this adorable "Chewbacca Fighter Pod" by Hasbro:

I love it, even without knowing exactly what it is. Is he balancing on a tiny Death Star? Or is that a training sphere?

- Original screen-used Stay Puft head at the Prop Store booth:


Ok, so no one will find this interesting except for my fellow Ghostbusters fans, but I think it's seriously cool. Here's another shot for scale reference:

via Ain't It Cool - And hit that link for tons more great booth photos from the SDCC floor - really amazing stuff. (The Indiana Jones booth has live snakes.) In fact, here's one more:

 Recognize these little guys? 

They're the 'bots from Batteries Not Included! (Squee!) I reeeally want the two guys on the lower right. Like, really really.

 - The Firefly Reunion Panel

Probably the most talked about event of the con, this panel was filmed for a TV special that will air on the Science Channel this November, so eventually the rest of us will get to see more than shaky Youtube clips of it. (But speaking of those, you can see one of the more emotional moments of the panel here. So sweet!) Look for the special, titled Browncoats Unite, to air on 11/11.
[Update: Ooh, shiny -  the whole panel is already up on Youtube! Grab a tissue and watch it here.]

- And finally, even though the con still has two more days to go, I've already found the Best Thing Ever To Happen At SDCC 2012.  If you're a Chuck or Firefly fan, you might want to sit down.

A quick explanation first: 

Zachery Levi (aka Chuck & Flynn Rider) does a great charity event each year during Comic-Con called Nerd HQ. He gets his fellow actors and friends together for panels and photo ops and whatnot, and every dollar they make goes to Operation Smile

Well, apparently this weekend he started selling kisses (on the cheek) for $100 - again, all for charity - and one lady donated a whopping one thousand dollars. For that, she got a full-on dip and kiss on the lips - but then hilarity ensued. Just...WATCH:

Things I love about this:

1. Well, everything, but also...

2. You can clearly see Zach double-checking with the lady that it's ok before he dips her, and he's a perfect gentleman about it all [be still, my geeky heart...]

3. Zach's expression of sheer terror before THE AMBUSH, and sheer delight after

4. Adam Baldwin paying a lot less than Fillion, and Zach complaining about it.

I'm going to need someone to make a .gif out of THE AMBUSH, stat. I've just watched it about a dozen times in a row, and laughed every. single. time.

Happy Weekend, everyone! Stay tuned for a Saturday Steam post later tonight!

[UPDATE: THE .GIF LIVES!! Bwhahah!! That must have set some kind of record. I love it.]

[UPDATE #2: Melanie B., the lucky lady in that video, just contacted me to say she wrote about it on her blog! (Fun fact: Zac had no advance warning; the producer just brought Melanie out on stage!) Go read her post here, you'll love it.]

Friday, July 13, 2012

Recommeded Reading: Summer Fun!

It's been way too long since my last list of recommended reads! For this batch of YA titles, I thought I'd focus on fun, easy reads and/or series perfect for taking on vacation or, if you grab the audio versions, for long car rides.

These books are heavy on adventure and humor, and light on drama: kind of the equivalent of a popcorn movie. (And I mean that in only the best possible way.) 

So, in no particular order, here goes:

 Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson

I was a little surprised no one suggested this series after my last review post; these books (there are three, I think - or is it four?) are pure adrenaline, with almost non-stop action and torturous cliff-hanger endings. The endings were my biggest beef; there's no closure at all, so you'll want to have the next title already on hand, if possible. I remember having a few other issues with the story, too, but the heroine Max is amazing - tough and yet still relatable -  and the fast pace will make the pages really zip by. Besides, they're genetically mutated kids who have giant wings - c'mon, that is AWESOME.

[Correction: per the comments, there are now eight (EIGHT??) books in the series - but someone suggested Patterson should have stopped after four. Heheh.]

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

This was a series John actually picked up before I did, and I only started it myself after seeing him devour so many of the titles. (I've lost track of how many there are now - eight? Nine?) The writing is for a slightly younger audience than most of the YA fiction I read (there are fart jokes. You have been warned) but they're great fun and perfect for finishing in one or two sittings, if you're a quick reader. In a nutshell, Artemis is a budding evil genius who stumbles across the world of the fairies - but these fairies pack less glitter and more guns.

Sound like fun? Believe me, it is!

I was about to recommend The Lightning Thief, but then I remembered: I already did! (I really need to get a master list going of all my reviews...) So instead, how about The Lost Hero, the first book in another of Rick Riordan's series called Heroes of Olympus:

It's set in the same world as Percy Jackson, and even has a few overlapping characters, but mostly is a new story with all new characters - and it's great stuff. I'd definitely recommend it over Riordan's other new series, The Red Pyramid. That one is set in Egypt, but it just didn't grab me the way his Olympus series have. (The narrative style by the two main characters drove me a little batty.)

The Squire's Tale, by Gerald Morris

If you like modern-day re-tellings of myths (like Rick Riordan's work up there), then you'll love Gerald Morris' re-tellings of the Arthurian legends. It's not set in the modern day, but the language and writing is more current, and it's filled with humor and unbelievably endearing characters. Compared to the other books in this post it might seem a bit tame, adventure-wise, but there are quests and snappy dialogue and lovable characters that will keep you coming back for more. And if that doesn't convince you, I'm pretty sure this is one of John's favorite series of all time; he's read all eleven or so in the series, and was positively giddy the last time a new one came out.

Everlost, by Neal Shusterman

This is, quite literally, a haunting tale - but despite the cover art it's not scary at all. Promise. :) Two teens get "stuck" between worlds after a car crash, and their adventures in Everlost are both gripping and bizarre. The premise is fabulous - a truly creative twist on the supernatural - but something didn't quite click for me with the characters, and the ending left me a bit hollow. Still, give it a try if the premise sounds interesting; from all the stellar reviews over on Amazon, I'd say I'm in the minority by not loving it.

Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede

This is a super light, super funny read about a princess who runs away to live with dragons. It's awesome. You should read it. (And when you're done with that, there are three more books in the series! Just look for The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.)

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Though the tiny blue Nac Mac Feegles (think drunk Scottish smurfs) often steal the scenes, this is really the story of a young girl named Tiffany (yes, Tiffany) who sets out to become a witch - albeit a good one. It's absolutely hysterical, full of fantasy and adventure, and it's perfect for fans of Patricia Wrede looking for a longer, meatier story. Plus, after this there are three more Tiffany Aching novels - and I just realized I haven't read the last one! Woohoo!

I actually read Wee Free Men to John during a long car ride, and we had to pause a lot due to all the giggling. I'd love to get the audio version, just to see how the narrator handled the Nac Mac Feegles' dialogue. Hee.

So there you have it: a few more titles to add to your summer reading list! Now it's your turn again: what would you suggest for a fun vacation read? I'm talking adventures and humor, people, and I need more titles! So....GO!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Show And Tell Time!

Nothing thrills me quite like seeing other people's craft results from using my tutorials or suggestions. Seriously. I get all giddy and stuff. So I thought it might be fun to take a quick skip down memory lane and show you which Epbot crafts your fellow readers are making - and maybe inspire you to get crafting, too!

Let's start with my most popular tutorial by far (thanks, Pinterest!): my flip-flop hangers.

(These things are more famous now than I can ever hope to be myself. Ha!)

Meghan H. made this chic version for her own closet, and she even dressed up the rod bracket with some pretty paper!

Why didn't I think to use silk flowers?! That is seriously gorgeous, Meghan. Love it.

I've heard from other readers who made whole sets of these for holiday gifts, but so far I *think* Meghan is the only one to send me a photo.  So if you guys have tried this, you know what to do.

Probably my second most popular tutorial is our penny desk:

I know this one's pretty daunting because of the pour-over epoxy, but Amanda H. proved you don't need epoxy to make a gorgeous penny desk:

Look at that beautiful texture! Amanda says she might add the epoxy sometime in the future, but for now she's leaving it as-is. That desk was a great choice, too - I like the clean lines and black accents.

(Pro Tip: You could also have a sheet of tempered glass cut to fit over your desktop, Amanda, to get the same smooth surface as epoxy without the mess/effort!)

Here's a more recent craft: Christina used my bubble wrap earrings & bracelet tutorials to make a bracelet that's way cuter than mine. And I may never forgive her.

She used the same technique I did for these earrings:

And strung her bubble-wrap charms together with O-rings like I did on my bracelet:

 Which gave her....THIS!

Aaiiee! Look at those perfect little stars! SO FABULOUS, Christina. And you're making me look bad. Stop that.

In all seriousness, I love it. Now I want to find a small punch and make a dangly version of my own!

Here's another oldie-but-goodie: anyone remember my Halloween candy jewelry?

Well, Jeri Lynn used my instructions to make this gorgeous candy corn bracelet:

 (I love that cord & the extra beads!)

Plus these fun earrings!

This makes me want to revisit my candy-dipped-in-epoxy crafts. I still have a box of hard rainbow candies from the Japanese pavilion in Epcot that I want to experiment with. [rubbing hands together] Ohhh shall be glorious...

I'm less than half-way through the tutorial photos I want to show you guys, but since this is getting kind of long I'll post the second batch in another few days. I'd love to make this a regular thing, too, so if you have project photos inspired by any of my crafts and tutorials, then please, send 'em in!

Oh, and a quick word on watermarks: I'm a big fan of crediting original sources, so if the photos you send me are NOT posted anywhere else online, then unless you instruct me otherwise I plan to watermark them so people can track down the source. (That source being you.)

If your photo *is* posted somewhere else online, like on your blog or Flickr account, then please let me know so I can link to it & credit you properly. I never want to be seen as taking credit for anyone else's work, so I just wanted to explain my reasoning - and again, just say the word if you don't want an Epbot watermark on your photo, and I'll take it off immediately.

Stay tuned for the next batch! I've got some Ollivander's wand displays, steampunk medals, and other assorted goodies that're gonna knock your socks off.