Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Steam: Hot Air Balloons!

I think you guys have been picking up on my oh-so-subtle clues that I really like hot air balloons. Which must be why so many of you have sent me a link to these leggings over on Etsy this week:

They're handmade and printed on 95% cotton, and even though I've never worn patterned tights before, I am seriously tempted.

Anyway, after seeing that link for the fourth or fifth time, I figured, hey, why not do a whole post on hot air balloons? That way I have an excuse to show you guys my latest Etsy purchase!

Ta-da! Isn't it preeetty? I just got it last week, and it looks just as amazing in person.

I've been looking for some new art for my steampunk dining room this month, and this was one of the final contenders:

It's a little too small and soft for the space I needed to fill, but I really love the dreamy quality to it, don't you? And see the faded out type-written letters hidden in the background?

Forgive me if I've posted these before, but these balloons made from old lightbulbs are going around again online, and they're awesome enough to warrant a second mention even if I have:

It took me ages to hunt down the proper source last year, but I'm happy to report they're by a couple named Steve & Susie, and you can actually purchase the balloons at their website. Prices range from $45 to over $300, and there are lots of different styles to choose from:

I see these a lot on DIY inspiration boards, but that's all hand-soldered copper wiring on there. Not exactly an easy DIY!

But if you're looking for a steampunk design you *can* make at home, check out this one from The Gentleman Crafter:

 Hit the link for a video where he explains exactly how he made everything. (Those little sand bags!!)

And of course I have to mention my own balloon ornament tutorial. HAVE TO. ;) In fact, check out these three that reader Kate W. made using my instructions!

SO PRETTY. The quilted texture is just perfect! (Since my tutorial inspired them, that means I get credit for these, right, Kate? That's how it works, right?)

Oh, and check this out: Kate wove the little baskets herself. Yep. She used hemp cord and wire and I am totally jealous. Look how perfect they are! LOOK AT THEM!!

Plus, don't let the Christmas tree throw you, guys; these balloons are equally awesome on a mobile or hanging by themselves from a wall bracket year-round.

Here's a nifty wire version you could use as a planter or mail carrier:

$58 at BHLDN

I'm eyeing every corner in my house right now, seeing where this would fit.

This next one made me smile:

"Dark Voyage" 8X10 art print, $18 by Eric Fan (Larger prints available as well.)


And finally, check out this amazing chandelier hanging in a Japanese chocolate factory, of all places:

If you google "hot air balloon chandelier" you'll find lots of similar styles out there, but I thought this one was the most grand.

Well, I think that's all I've got for now, guys! If you're looking for more jewelry, don't miss the glass balloon earrings I featured here - they're the best I've seen of their kind, and Elaina Louise is a super sweet seller. And if you missed the hot air balloon purse I featured earlier this month, well, what are you waiting for? GO SEE!

So what'd I miss, guys? Share your favorite balloon goodies in the comments!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jen's Gems 1/24/13

My favorite finds are particularly random this week. Hope you enjoy!

Here's something Naomi M. shared with me ages and ages ago, and John actually saw it first, and loved it so much that he BOUGHT it, and then I forgot to mention it to you guys:

It's an illustrated version of Jabberwocky, and Eran Cantrell's illustrations are all like this cover: silhouette-based with a funky steampunky flair. Since Jabberwocky is John's favorite poem of all time, I'm not sure he even finished Naomi's e-mail before zipping over to Lulu to buy it. You can buy the digital version for about $5, or the 40-page softcover (which is a very nice quality, btw) with a black and white interior for $9.95, or spring for the full-color interior at $15. And since it's Lulu, you're supporting the artist directly when you buy it - always a nice bonus.

Oh, and get this: you can actually see the entire book on Cantrell's DeviantArt! Just start here, and click [next] at the bottom to go forward.

- Hey parents, do your kids have one of those old plastic kiddy cars? Does it need a makeover? Then may I suggest....THIS?



Instructibles user CinnamonTwisties made this for her daughter, and omigosh look how cute:


(More pics here, found via ThinkGeek)

- Last month the Navy retired the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier we geeks fondly remember from Star Trek IV as the ship with the "nuclear wessels."

However, Jessica K - who is in the process of joining the Navy herself - just shared this good news: They're building a new one.

The new Enterprise won't be completed 'til 2027, but it makes this life-long Trekker happy to know her legacy will go on. [wipes away single tear] 

Oh, and fun bonus trivia: My dad currently works at the big shipyard where they'll be constructing the new Enterprise, so I got to confirm the good news with him. Holla, Daddy-O! 

(More bonus trivia: I have never before in my life referred to my father as "Daddy-O.")

- Here's a great read in The Huffington Post that Jenn P. shared with me this week: "Why I Bought Boy's Underwear For My Daughter." As a non-parent I had no idea this was an issue, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that gender stereotypes for young kids extends even - or perhaps especially - to the underwear aisle.

- And now, two Shetland ponies wearing hand-knit wool cardigans:

See more at Modern Farmer, found via my friend & avid knitter Laura.


And finally, your moment of hysterically baffling WTF-ness, courtesy of Lindsay G.: Star Wars French Ballet Disco.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pirate Parties Are For Girls!

John has family in town this week, which is why it's been quiet over here the past few days. Yesterday we took some of them out to the Magic Kingdom, and we got to eat lunch at the Be Our Guest restaurant in new Fantasyland! (WOOT!)

But those pictures are coming later.

For now, I just wanted to share this bit of awesomeness: John and I caught Captain Jack's Tutorial? Show? I don't know what you call it, but it's where Jack Sparrow and a pirate crony teach some of the kids in the audience a few moves:

Going by their selections, I think they pick whichever kids are wearing pirate face paint. :) And note the girl in the middle, there. Among a sea of girls in princess dresses, it was fun to see a pirate lass proudly sporting her bandanna & pirate sash.

Ah, but it gets even better. Hang on - I'll come back to that in a sec.

The show is really fun to watch, so even if you don't have kids, definitely try to see it. The good Captain really nailed the role, staggering and slurring and having a merry old time:

He had the smallest kid fight himself, and naturally the fight ended with Jack running away:

His expressions were hilarious, too:

His pirate lackey was also fantastic, looking more like a human cartoon at times, and really jumping into the role with gusto:

But now here's the best part: at the end of the sword-fighting, the pirates ask the crowd who ELSE would like to join their crew. Then they gather all the kids on stage to swear them in. Now, take a look at this picture, and tell me if you see anything...I dunno...really awesome about it:

Your eyes do not deceive you: there ARE, in fact, more girls up there than boys. Of the 20 kids up there, I counted at least a dozen girls - maybe more. Several were in their princess dresses "ARR"ing alongside the rest. Heh.

Plus, lookit that lil' cutie in the pink pirate dress:


I also took a little video, since I wanted you guys to see Cap'n Jack in action - but of course as soon as I hit "record" he stopped talking. Watch 'til the end, though, and you'll see him send the kids away with typical Cap'n Jack flair:

It's cute how the little pink pirate doesn't want to take that scroll. Heh. 

Stay tuned for pics from Be Our Guest, plus a few other fun shots from the day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

MAILBAG: Pony Art, Felted Felties, and new Q&As!

Remember that custom My Little Pony generator I linked to a few weeks back? The one that let me make this?

Well, Kayla B. has since informed me that "there is an unwritten brony rule that if a well-known individual makes themselves a pony, at least one of the least occupied pony artists must draw it."

I did not know this rule! But I'm happy to report that Kayla totally stepped up:


Hee! Oh, and be sure to head over to Kayla's DeviantArt to see more of her work.

Ah, but that's not all! Beth R. drew me as a toddler in my steampunk outfit (!!), complete with the most squishable-looking Epbot 'bot I have ever seen:

Note to self: buy teal sneakers. Wear with black & white striped socks.

In my physical mailbag, I got all kinds of goodies, so congratulations on your continuing plan to fill my house with amazing stuff, everyone.

Two highlights: these felted...felties?...made by Keren over in the UK:


And get this: she made one for John, too!

He's got a little felted wheel and antennae and everything!

Oh, and that's Claptrap from the video game Borderlands, non-gamers, which John is more than a little addicted to. I can't even fathom the amount of work these took, which is why Claptrap is staying in MY office. You know, for safe-keeping.

And lastly, I answer a lot of e-mail - though sadly I can only respond to a small percentage of what I get these days - so I thought I might share a few Q&As you might find interesting from time to time. I'll start with two questions from two different Sarahs:

"I'm just about to move into my first home with my equally-geeky/steampunky boyfriend and we were wondering if you had any great blogs or ideas for decorating on a budget? I have all of your tutorials and links bookmarked but if you have any other ideas that would be really appreciated." 
- Sarah from Brisbane, Australia

Hi Sarah!

I honestly think one of the best resources today is Pinterest, because that's where all the best DIY home hacks and ideas end up, and you can scroll through about a bajillion different ideas at a time. My favorite decor blog is The Steampunk Home, but she doesn't post anymore, sadly. Still, there are a few years' worth of archives you can look through! I also love Better After,which mostly features furniture re-dos, but she also posts whole room makeovers from time to time, and most are DIY projects. Young House Love is one of the most famous DIY decor blog out there, but to be honest, I haven't checked in on it in ages and ages, so I'm not sure how great it is now.

Hopefully that will help get you started, at least! And when you find a design blog you like, be sure to check their side bar or links page; that'll lead you to similar blogs and content, which'll lead you to MORE goodies, and before you know it's 5AM and you forgot to go to bed last night. (Not that I would know, of course. :D)

"If it's not too terribly invasive, could you tell us about how you met John, the husband of Jen? I'm an introverted geek on the wrong side of thirty and you guys remind me that girls like me can still find someone." - A Different Sarah 

Hi Sarah!

I met John back in community college. He was the outspoken teachers' darling who lunched with the college president, and I was the silent wallflower who did as little as possible to draw attention to herself. A teacher purposely put us together in a small poetry discussion group because we were so different, and John asked me out the next day. The conversation - which John likes to tell people at every opportunity - went like this:

John: "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Me: "Yes."
John. "Oh. Would you like to have dinner with me next week?"

(I called my then-boyfriend and informed him I was going on a date. The rest is history.)

So, yeah, sometimes these things happen when you least expect them, and with someone you'd never imagine. I'm no expert, of course, but I say: keep living your life, loving your friends, and following your passions, and then let life/God/fate handle the rest.

Oh, and go to conventions. All the cool people are there. ;)

- Jen

PS - Feel free to share links to your favorite home decor blogs in the comments, guys - I'm always looking for more!