Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kitchen Nightmares, Jen Edition

I can't cook.

It's one of those unavoidable annoyances of life, like death and overly chatty hairdressers.

A close friend of mine, who literally grinds her own wheat to make bread and can whip up a homemade Thai feast on a day's notice, has done her best to help me over the years. She started by giving me a Five Ingredients or Less cookbook. Next came Four Ingredients or Less. Then Open A Can And Add This, Stupid*. Then an "easy" crockpot introductory cookbook, so I could "leave it and go!" All to no avail. I undercook the chicken, burn the casseroles, and lose interest within five minutes of starting.

*Ok, I made that one up - but it should exist.

Like I said: I can't cook.

It's especially embarrassing when you consider how many times I've been invited to speak at food blogger conferences. Cake Wrecks is always lumped in with the serious food blogs, so being invited as a guest of honor to their events makes me feel like I'd be an impostor on two levels. (Although, admittedly, I can sort of bake a little. You know, if you count box mixes.)

John can cook, and makes the best omelets and crepes you'll ever taste - but he'd rather watch Gordon Ramsey yell at people cooking than actually cook anything himself.

So, we get by on take-out and going out and leftovers from both. Also protein bars. And sandwiches and cereal.

It's not quite as bad as it sounds; we supplement with lots of fruit and some not-so-horrible snacks here at home. I call these my two-ingredient-treats:

- Apple slices and peanut butter

Specifically Gala apples with Jiff low-fat creamy peanut butter (not because it's healthier, but because it tastes better - a little more salty.) Makes a great breakfast. And if you have one of those handy-dandy apple slicers, no chopping required!

- Celery sticks and cream cheese

This was my favorite last summer, when it was over a hundred degrees almost every day here in Florida. I think celery is one of the more under-appreciated vegetables, don't you? It's so...green. In a good way.

- Baby carrots and guacamole

It probably won't shock any of you to learn that I really love carbs, but if I find an equally tasty low-carb substitute -  like mashed cauliflower for potatoes or carrots for tortilla chips - I take it. Besides, unlike John (who claims they taste like dirt), I like baby carrots.

Chipotle's guacamole is great, but if you want to splurge, Cheesecake Factory's is surprisingly stellar.

- And, since a girl's gotta have her chocolate, here's one that actually requires a little effort, but is totally worth it:

Start with these:
 That's Hershey's dark chocolate, and the Blue Diamond brand salted almonds are extra salty - very important.

Nuke the chocolate and dump in the nuts:

Scoop onto parchment paper:

Let cool in the fridge, and, BAM!

Enough chocolate almond clusters to last me about two weeks! One or two of these babies with some milk, and I'm in chocolate heaven. (The extra salt makes all the difference. Sooooo good.)

Hey, look, I just shared my first recipe, you guys!



Getting back to healthier options: I once tried spinach smoothies for a week or so, and I remember liking the pear-cucumber-apple juice combo really well. I stopped from laziness and boredom, though - and ditto with juicing, which is a HUGE amount of work with very little payoff. If I could just have someone do all the work for me, and then clean up afterward, that'd be PERFECT. (Any volunteers? I'll pay you with, uh, smashed penny bracelets. Or resin Portal cubes. Or, ok - I'll lease out John for a weekend project, but that's my FINAL OFFER. [And no kinky stuff, either - 'cuz I know you were thinking it, you people who know who you are.])

Well, since I don't think I'll get a free personal chef anytime soon, help me out, fellow non-cooks: what do you eat at home? Any ridiculously easy tips or recipes or take-out recommendations you'd care to share? And don't just send me to other food blogs, please; believe me when I say I am not exaggerating about my laziness/inabilities here.

In fact, I'm going to show you the only cookbook I've ever used with any regularity. Meaning more than five times. Are you ready? You know, to laugh in pity? Ok. Here it is:

If I ever master this thing I'll have all the skills I could ever need.

(And I just found it on Amazon for less than $6, if you want your own. It's actually pretty helpful, and quite funny in places. Then again, the only thing I've made with it is banana bread, so maybe I'm not the best judge on these matters...)

K, I've laid my soul bare before you, my friends. Now, please, TELL ME HOW TO MAKE DINNER. Or at least a new place to buy dinner; I'm really getting tired of burrito bowls and pad thai.

Monday, February 18, 2013

February Art Round-Up and Give-Away

Time to get our art on, fellow geeks!

Jessica S. sent this in last week, and it literally made me laugh out loud with delight:

 By CGHUB member barak144

This is the happiest, cutest thing I think I have ever seen. Seriously. Can you look at this and NOT smile? NO YOU CANNOT.

I coudn't find any information on the artist beyond his/her gallery folder, sadly, but even more tragic is that I see no way to purchase a print! (NooooOOOoo!) I WANT THIS ON MY WALL!

[3/11/13 Update: Good news! You can order prints now! WOOHOO!!]


Karen Hallion does some of the best geeky mash-up and nouveau-inspired art around, so odds are you've already seen plenty of her work around online and at various t-shirt sites. Her steampunk Disney princesses series was wildly popular, and this Nouveau Labyrinth piece is still one of my favorites anywhere:

Karen's most recent series combines the Doctor with all the different Disney princesses, which is super fun:

Head over to her Etsy shop to see lots more! 

I've been drooling over Camilla d'Errico's work for years, although I seem to have a knack for falling for the paintings that aren't available as prints: 

"Canadian Tiger"

"Grasslands Goddess" mini-print, $20 ($27 signed) 

See the rest of her available prints here at her webstore, along with other goodies like books, jewelry, and even pillows. (And if you like her work, note that I have a three-print set of hers on my give-away board, so be sure to comment to enter!)

Time for some more cuteness:

"Like A Sir" by  Salvador Ramirez Madriz 

It's not available as a print (yet?), but you can see the rest of Madriz's work at his DeviantArt gallery

The always amazing Tom Whalen has a new Transformers piece out: 
(Released as LE posters, but they've already sold out.)

I love absolutely everything Whalen does, and not just because he has so many Disney and geeky pieces. His style is just so dang cool! Sadly his prints usually sell out in a matter of days, if not hours, though, and since they're all limited edition they don't come cheap. I still mourn the loss of the Steamboat Willie poster I was just a few hours too late to purchase. (Although I'd settle for Duck Dodgers, if anyone out there is feeling generous...)

I've mentioned Jason Thomas and Jennifer Teeter of Red Rocket Farm a few times over the years (you might remember my Sharpie tattoo from Jason last year), but I don't think I've ever really shown off Jason's art:

Each of his handmade paintings are 3D, like a paper cutting made with wood, and most come in three different sizes that start around $35. I have three of their smallest sized paintings in my office already, and their t-shirt featuring this little guy (aka "Splatbot") is one of my top five favorites. (John's favorite is Ollie.) 

We had dinner with Jason & Teeter a few months ago, and I was amazed to learn that Teeter does all the shirts' screen-printing and packaging by hand - the shirts look so professional, I thought they were mass produced!

And I know I don't have any room left on my office walls, but that doesn't stop me wanting this giant rocket ship:

So. Cool. 

That one is something like four feet across, but maybe I can talk Jason into doing a smaller version some day. [hint hint, Jason. HINT HINT]

And finally, Bianca Roman-Stumpff is a local Orlando artist, so of course I'm half tempted to NOT show you how awesome her work is just so I can keep her all to myself. :D However, her series of geeky teddy bears alone is too fabulous not to share:

And here's another favorite:

 Would you believe I *just* noticed that his tentacles are forming a heart? AWWWW.

I have two of Bianca's pieces hanging in my office now - one of her original "Puff Monsters" and this adorable TMNT print. I think all her newer work is only on Facebook, but you can see lots of her older stuff over on DeviantArt.

Right now you can only purchase from Bianca in person at local Florida events and conventions (she'll be at Megacon again this year), or you can contact her on Facebook about commissions. Maybe if we all ask nicely we can get her to open a web store that offers shipping, though! And as a consolation prize, I'm adding another of Bianca's original Puff Monsters paintings to my give-away board (this one), so at least one of you will have the chance to claim some of her art that way.

Which brings me to this month's give-away! Just like last month, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment. The winner will be randomly selected next week, and will get to choose their prize from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board. I've added a few more pieces since last month, too, so I just might pick TWO winners this month. [eyebrow waggle] 

I'll ship anywhere, so comment away, everyone! And I hope you enjoyed this month's roundup!

UPDATE: The drawing has ended, and our winners are Jade Rodger & Amy Broadhurst! Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses & art choices!

Friday, February 15, 2013

DIY Faux Tin Tile Ceiling

Our laundry room makeover is slowly taking shape, so I thought I'd share an update, plus the most interesting thing we've completed so far: our new ceiling!

First, let me get you up to speed on what we've done so far. Here's the room after John had removed the washer, dryer, and hot water heater: (Brace yourselves: IT'S BAD.)

This is also after John took up the old adhesive floor tiles and trim, so at least that part wasn't *quite* this ugly before. Still: UG.

As you can see, the ceiling is old stained popcorn. We've slicked out almost all of the other ceilings in the house, but this was one of the few remaining holdouts. (That little green strip is where the hot water heater sits; we couldn't get behind it to paint last time. And the panel in the ceiling is our attic access.)

John laid new tile:

And here's the room after we finished painting:

Ahh. That's better.

The recessed shelving on the right used to be an exterior door, believe it or not. John removed the door and built out that recess in its place. (The outside has insulation and exterior siding to match the rest of the house.) Since we never used that door, it's been a super handy upgrade for more storage.

Ok, now let's get to the fun part: our new ceiling!

If you've never heard of this product before, then I'm about to blow your mind:

These are Styrofoam ceiling tiles you can glue up right over popcorn ceilings! No prep work required!

I've already used tiles like these in my office and bedroom closet, and I freaking LOVE them. There are dozens of different designs you can choose from, they're surprisingly cheap (no more than $4 per 20-inch tile), and they go up in a matter of hours.

Here, take a look at my office ceiling:

You can barely see the seams for this design, which makes it look like a big mass of swirly circles up there. So fun!

And here's my closet:

Yes, my closet is pink and has a tiny crystal chandelier in it. WHAT.

Ok, back to the laundry room:

You can work from a corner or the middle of the room. Since we have a light in the middle, that's where we started. Here John's using a laser-level to find the middle line:

You can also just use a string or chalk line, though. The first tile is the most important; if it goes up crooked, your whole ceiling will be off.

Working out from the middle. (I cut the center corners of the tiles off with scissors.)

You stick the tiles up with construction adhesive - the kind that comes in a caulking tube. We used Loc-Tite, which I highly recommend. (Don't get the foam kind they tell you to; it doesn't stick! Just get the general all-purpose kind.)

The only trick is making sure you squeeze out really high piles of glue at each spot, the better for it all to smoosh into place once it's on the ceiling.

Making progress!

Once you have all the whole tiles you can fit in place, it's time to move on the smaller pieces. The tiles cut easily with a utility blade, so it's just a matter of measuring your space, marking your tiles with a straight edge and a ballpoint pen, and then making your cuts:

Make sure you mark the *back* of your tile, of course, so you don't have any ink left on the front.

We even stuck the tiles to our access panel, to make it blend in with the ceiling a bit more:

Even with all the small cuts and odd corners, John was able to finish the ceiling in just a few hours.

After you get all the tiles up comes the really time consuming part, though: caulking in all the lines.

These tiles are great, but they're not perfectly square. That means you'll have small gaps here and there between them, which you have to fill in with caulking. Not a big deal, but it does take a while.

Once the caulk is dry, you can paint the ceiling with any water-based paint you like. We debated going bright silver for an extra authentic tin-tile look, but then decided white was pretty enough. They'll just look like painted tin tiles. So, a coat of satin white paint later:

Pretty, huh? We're aiming for a vintage industrial vibe back here, but of course nothing else is finished yet - not even the light. Stay tuned for updates as I have them.

Ok, resources: there are several sites selling these tiles (just google "Styrofoam ceiling tiles") although most seem to have all the same styles. Almost all of the sites have every design at a set $3.99 per tile, but I price-shopped around and found mine for only $2.18 per tile over at StyroDecor. (SOLD!) Shipping was $14, so the whole ceiling only cost me about $65. And the tiles were here a day and a half later - that's the fastest shipping of anything I've ever purchased online!

And since I'm gushing, let me assure you I'm not being reimbursed in any way for anything in this post. (If only...) I've also purchased from Ceiling Tiles By Us in the past, and that was an equally awesome experience. I think they even e-mailed a week later to ask if I needed any help, and to see how the install went.

K, that's all for now! Hope you guys enjoyed seeing what we've been up to the past week!


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Epic Mario/Ghostbusters Animation

What do you get when you cross Mario Brothers with Ghostbusters, and then condense the entire movie down to just under four minutes?

This jaw-droppingly fantastic animation by James Farr:

The 8-bit music, the graphics, the Yoshi eggs, the Tully 'Shroom, the Star Puft (!!) - I WANT THIS TO BE A REAL CARTOON. You know, a regular Saturday morning kind!

We may not get a whole series, but Farr *does* say a sequel is coming. I'm already picturing a giant Princess Peach Statue walking through the streets of New York...

Oh, and here's a neat side note: Farr is the same guy who made that Portal bedroom and bathroom for his son that went viral a while back, not to mention the Doctor Who/Back to the Future mash up cartoon you may remember from last month. Farr, you have TOO MUCH TALENT. Stop that. You're making the rest of us look bad.

(I'm kidding: NEVER STOP. Can you make a Princess Bride/Holy Grail mash up next? ["Fetch me...a SHRUBBERY!" "As you wish."])

I think Kendra C. was the first to send that in, so many thanks to her for the epic-ness.

Also, I thought this was especially appropriate considering the shirt I just bought last week from The Yetee:

Clearly some great minds out there are thinking alike!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Regretsy

Regretsy is Shutting Down, via BoingBoing

Many of you no doubt already saw this as it happened on February 1st, like I did, but BoingBoing just posted a snippet of an interview where April describes the behind-the-scenes work of the site that really struck home with me. I've always felt a kind of kinship with April, though we've only swapped a few e-mails in our whole acquaintance, and I'm sorry to see the Regretsy community go. April ran the Cake Wrecks of Etsy crafts, and I ran the Regretsy of cakes. Save the subject matter, we were in the same business. April was and is so much braver than me, though, and I confess I often read Regretsy with a guilty kind of glee mixed with envy - her snark is as legendary as it is unrepentant. And while at my heart I know I'm just a gentler jokester, the fact is I look to writers like April to say the things I can't (or won't) sometimes, and to joke about things that make me gasp like the Dowager Countess, imagining the kind of hate mail I would get if I DARED make *that* joke - but I laugh all the same.

Seeing Regretsy go also strikes home my sense of mortality for Cake Wrecks, since Regretsy was actually younger than CW by nearly a year. It feels so strange to have outlived it, in a way, but when I think of all the times John and I swore we would shut the site down only to recant at the eleventh hour, maybe it's not so strange after all. Traffic isn't the issue; we've been at a respectable plateau for ages now, although our ad revenue continues to tank at an alarming rate. (Last month we made less than a quarter of what we did three years ago - even with more readers now than we had then. But that's how it is for everyone online these days, and it's still enough for us to live on for now, so I can't complain.) It's more what April said about the long hours and e-mails and heartache and how everything has to be bigger and badder and more shocking to please the readers - and she's right: even if you love every second of it, you just can't do that forever.

(Actually, April didn't say anything about heartache - that one's all mine.) 

Don't worry if you're a CW fan, though; I may not be able to do this forever, but I can still do it a while longer. And it's not like I'm alone; I have John and Lindsey and Sharyn to help back me up a bit. Even if I do drive them all a little crazy with my editing and general control freakishness.

Anyway, sorry if this sounds a bit melancholy; I haven't been able to spend as much time as I'd like here on Epbot this past week, and that always gets me down. (It is my hobby, after all, and has to take a back seat to the "real job.") On the bright side, one of the reasons is that pantry/laundry room makeover John and I are working on. I have a washer and dryer in my dining room, every piece of food stuff we own is strewn throughout the house, and we just hooked the water heater back up after three days for some much-need hot showers. Heh. You can bet I'll have all the gory before and after pics for you as soon as I have them, and I hope a few tutorials as well, since I've convinced John to let me try some crazy fun stuff in there. (Three words: Sliding barn door. OH YEAH.)

Getting back to Regretsy, though, go read the whole Wired article BoingBoing linked to. It's an eye-opening glimpse at the world I used to take completely for granted, until I fell into it myself. It's also a comfort to know April will still be online, writing her own Epbot, as it were, at AprilWinchell.com. Fads and memes and niche blogs may fade away, but I like to think that any strong writer who has a platform to write whatever she likes will always "stay interesting." These personal blogs may not have the viral successes, but they have something better: staying power, variety, and a real personal connection.

At least, that's what I'm banking on. ;)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Procrastination Station 2/9/13

John and I are gutting our laundry room, painting, and laying tile today, but here are some more entertaining options to keep *you* guys occupied:

The PULP-O-MIZER magazine cover generator has been everywhere online this week, and it is ridiculously fun to play with. Naturally, I had to waste a bunch of time research this myself:

The website lets you download a small version of your finished image for free, but also offers all kinds of products you can buy, from posters to note cards. A 12X18 poster is only $14, too - not bad!

For my fellow Disney fans, the Tumblr photo blog WDW Pics is like Pixie-dusted crack. There are 113 pages of photos there so far, and I'm at page forty-something, and I CAN'T STOP, you guys. Just look:

The gal behind the blog is a fellow Orlando native, so I can only hope I run into her someday - if only so I can bow down and declare how unworthy I am to be in the presence of her photographic genius. She mostly focuses on stunning up-close portraits of the Princesses and other face characters around the park, and, WOW:


Seriously, just about everything she posts looks like an official park postcard. I love all the little details she's able to capture, from close-ups of Mary Poppin's lace gloves to the various signage around the park. Stunning, stunning, stunning. Oh, and she also has a Flickr account with the pics arranged in albums by character, so head over there to see more!

And finally, I was checking out a few new (to me) web series last week, and I highly recommend the somewhat autobiographical My Gimpy Life. There are plenty of funny moments, but it's also got a bittersweet twist to it that really draws you in to Teal's life. Here's the first episode:

There are only five episodes to season one (watch the rest here), so I'm hoping there will be a season two. (And you've gotta love Felicia Day playing her best friend - with a ringtone that play The Guild's theme song. Ha!)

I also watched some of the Jeff Lewis 5-Minute Comedy Hour, and found a few gems. (You might know Jeff Lewis as Vork from The Guild.) A lot of the episodes are too crass for me, but luckily the more R-rated ones all come with a warning up front. Anyway, of the half-dozen or so I watched, THIS is the one that had me laughing 'til it hurt at 3 o'clock in the morning a few nights back:

If you're a Guild fan, you're going to recognize all these characters - in fact, I think some of them originally met doing this series. Anyway, if this made you laugh, I also recommend Doctor and ATM. I don't usually like cringe-comedy (ala The Office) but those had me guffawing.

Ok, I'm off to help John, since so far he's been doing all the work in the laundry room. (Funny how that worked out for me, huh? ;)) Hope you guys are having a great weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just A Flesh Wound

Yesterday I made my first-ever trip to a dermatologist, but don't worry: I have no scary medical traumas to relate this time. (Yay!) I was still ridiculously nervous, though, since doctor's offices just have that affect on me, and also because I knew they were going to be cutting things off my body. o.0 (Just a few small moles, but still...)

Happily the nurse who brought us back was super awesome, and we chattered away about tattoos and superheroes and how much she liked my pink cat necklace, so like most things in life, it was the waiting that was the worst part.

Well, except maybe getting stabbed in the back with a needle. That and the waiting are about tied for the worst.

Here, I took a picture of my necklace. Cute, right? I think this was my first Etsy purchase ever, like a million years ago.

John was there in the room with us, of course, and when the nurse left so I could get undressed he helpfully started unfolding the paper "smock" she left for me to wear. Except it wouldn't unfold, and it was this weird 2-ply thing, and it just. kept. ripping. After a few moments I tried to help, since at that point I was mostly naked and getting a little chilly, but I only succeeded in making about three more arm holes in the thing. (!!)

Cut to another minute later, and we're both giggling helplessly like guilty schoolkids as I clutch a giant wadded-up ball of tissue paper to my chest. "Find another one!" I hissed between giggles. So John starts searching through the drawers and cabinets, and I'm watching the door like a jewel thief, and then John gets curious and tips over the Nitrogen blow torch thingie on the counter which immediately starts hissing out gas and I'm like "I CAN'T TAKE YOU ANYWHERE" but then he found another smock so it was all good.

During the exam I discovered another advantage to being a hermit night-owl blogger: my skin never sees the sun. The words "perfect" and "Snow White" were used, guys. For realz. The doc was so proud I almost felt guilty explaining it's more from poor social habits than actual skin care. ;)

The nurse used straight lidocaine in my numbing shots, since the epinephrine they normally include triggers almost instantaneous panic attacks. (Epinephrine is adrenaline, so no surprise there.) That's fine - lidocaine numbs everything up perfectly, but - Fun Fact! - it turns out the epinephrine is what stems a lot of the bleeding.

Have I mentioned yet that John doesn't do well with the sight of needles or blood? And that he was in the room? And that my paper smock wasn't *nearly* absorbent enough?

Poor guy. Thank goodness there was a chair in the room, though of course it was facing the table I was on. John sat and looked at the wall while the doctor was cutting, but he had to stay seated 'til long after the bloody smock and table cover were whisked away, and they'd wiped all the smears off my arms and I was bandaged and dressed again. He kept asking (while not looking) how I was doing during the few minutes the doc was cutting, while the nurse kept warning him he better not faint on her, which prompted me to ask how *he* was doing. I'm not sure who was more worried about who, to be honest, or who deserved more concern, for that matter. Ha!

I love that we're such a mess together.

Anyway, the BEST part came after John and I left the office and were taking the elevator down to the car. A dignified-looking elderly couple got in the elevator with us, with the woman facing John from one side. We spent a moment in the usual uncomfortable elevator silence, and then just before the doors opened, she said in a small, shocked voice, "Oh...oh WOW."

I had no idea what had distressed her, and so was even more confounded when John started apologizing. "Oh, ha! Sorry about that," he said, looking pained. "Sorry." We were walking away, and he was still calling back over his shoulder, "Sorry!"

I looked at John for an explanation, and then - and ONLY then - realized which t-shirt he'd chosen to wear that day:

 That's my hubby.

And now I really want to know what that lady thought his shirt was about.

(The shirt is from Woot, btw, and I just found out you can still order it. Now I'm tempted to order one in my size. Heh.)


Technical Note: WHOOPSIE.  Comments were down there for a few hours, but they should be working again now. Thanks for your patience, guys!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Portal Valentines (Free Printables!)

I'm not very good at coming up with Valentines crafts, to be honest. Since I don't have kids, the only Valentiney stuff I'm interested in is stuff John might like, which generally rules out things like heart doilies or cake pops or adorable paper garlands draped around the mantle. ;)

So that left something simple, like a handmade Valentine. I mulled it over for a couple days, and then came up with a few ideas last weekend that made me giggle. Putting them together was a pain and a half  - not to mention tested the limits of my Photoshop know-how - but I finally have a few options to share with you guys. I hope you like them!

That's my own hen-scratched drawing up there, since I didn't have the time to get a more artistically-inclined friend to do it for me. My ancient tablet refuses to work in Photoshop, but John found me a simple Paint-like program for the Mac called Paintbrush. I gleefully took to it this afternoon like a three-year-old with a new pack of crayons - and that's actually my THIRD attempt up there, so I welcome your derision and/or pity.

Ah, but wait, there's more!

You KNOW I had to make one with a cake pun, right?

This seems a little too clean and bland, though, so I also scribbled one up for you:

Notice the arrow pointing from "lie" to the cake? Hehehhe.

You could also print the first one and then go to town on it with some markers - maybe add a little custom graffiti? Sky's the limit, really.

(The cake outline is the one used in the game that you see all over online [I used the version from this free desktop wallpaper], but the rest of the design is my own. I never plan to sell these or anything, so hopefully Valve is Ok with my using it here.)

So that's one sweet one, one punny one...what's next?

Why, something EVIL, of course!

 I get the feeling this is exactly the kind of Valentine GLaDOS would send.

And finally, I had to do one more sweet one, if only so I could inflict my childish scribbles on you guys again:

I think this is my favorite. Not because of the art - although I think I had some limited success in making the Turrets look cute - but because of the sentiment. It's perfect for me and John, not to mention the geek community as a whole, really. Plus John hasn't seen this one yet, so I think it's going to be his official - albeit early - Valentine. (Hope you like it, Sweetie!)

Feel free to save and print any of these you like, guys. (Click the pics to embiggen.) I tried to make the watermarks as unobtrusive as possible, but you can still always erase them prior to printing. Just keep the watermarks in place if you share or post these online, please - we all know how images have a way of wandering far from home on the 'web.

Oh, and this is the perfect time to announce the winner of my Portal Lemon Grenade! So, the randomly selected winner IS...the Elizabeth with a blog called The Elizabeth Archive! Congrats, Elizabeth, and please e-mail me your mailing address!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Steam 2/2/13

I've been a fan of Merimask for ages, but last week my friend Jodee R. pointed out her new steampunk designs - and these ones have their own built-in monocles!

I have a cosplay planned for this year that could REALLY use one of these:

 I don't see these particular ones in Merimask's store right now, but here's a similar one: March of Time Hare V9, $200 Check out the rest of her creations over on her DeviantArt account.

- Michelle S. shared an older game (it debuted in 2010) that's new to me this week: The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. In it you play a top-hatted gentleman in search of pie. Heh. [Insert "the pie is a lie" joke here.]

It looks pretty fun, and I really like the art, but mostly I'm in love with the music. Give a listen to the trailer:

Isn't that the best game music EVER? Anyhoo, you can download the game through Xbox Live, or get the PC version over on Steam for $4.99 if you'd like to give it a try.

- After I featured my skeleton key necklaces, Maggie M. send me a few photos from her skeleton-key-themed wedding. She had them everywhere, hanging from bunting, etched on her wine glasses - even the cake had a heart shaped keyhole as the topper!

That boutonniere is perfection. Love it!

- John and I got hooked on the show American Pickers a while back, but we're several seasons behind. Several of you pointed out that the show recently featured something awesomely steamy, though: Dr. Evermore and his Forevertron. (You can tell just from the name that's its gonna be cool, right?)

So what is it? Well, the Forevertron is a scrap metal sculpture - the world's largest, I believe - and it's the work of artist Tom Every:

Every's story goes that the fictional Dr. Evermore built the Forevertron to "blast him into outer space on a beam of sheer lightning." Every began building it in the 1980s, making the Forevertron almost pre-steampunk, really, but the the Victorian influence and gadgetry are pretty unmistakable to the style.


I couldn't find any footage from American Pickers, but there's a fantastic article with lots more photos here on Kuriositas.

- I will never get enough of steampunked computers and keyboards. NEVER. To that end, Tara G. spotted this sweet setup by HiFidelity featured on Lifehacker:

Niiiice. Although that modern mouse really has to go.

Since I have my own keyboard mod that's been in the works for at least 2 years now, I'm always keen to see how people solve the all-important key hurdle. So I spent a solid 20 minutes going through every photo in Hifidelity's Flickr stream, trying to figure out how he did his keys. He tried what looks like a dozen different methods, but never just came out and explained what he finally ended up doing. GRRR.

As near as I can tell, he used buttons glued to the dremeled-down keyboard keys, then used typewriter key stickers from Micheals on the buttons, which I *think* come with a clear domed plastic cover.

 I did a little searching, and it looks like these are the stickers he used:

And here's a closeup of his keyboard, so you guys can take a look and tell me what you think he did:

Of course, if you've never seen Datamancer's work, then stop everything and go check out his site. I can guarantee his work is the inspiration for just about every steampunk keyboard mod you've ever seen. He's also the only artist I know of who's done a steampunk ergonomic keyboard. (That's what I'm trying to do. And that's also why I've been trying - off and on - for over two years now. Ha!)

And finally, BoingBoing just featured another great video by Mark Day of San Francisco's Edwardian Ball. (The Ball took place two weeks ago, and there's another one in LA at the end of this month.) It's not purely steampunk, of course, but this is a spectacle any steampunk fan can appreciate:

Much like the annual Labyrinth of Jareth, I find this event to be simultaneously mesmerizing and mildly terrifying. Though, to be fair, I think that's what most of the attendees and performers are going for. Oh, and there's a dreamy guy in a top hat in that video. I'm not gonna say where - you can just go find him yourself. :D (Don't worry, John, sweetie: he's not as dreamy as you. Now, let's go buy you a top hat.)

Here's my favorite shot, though:

Like I said: mesmerizing! I can't wait to see Day's recap of the LA event.

Hope you liked this week's roundup! As always, please share your steamy finds in the comments or over on the Epbot Facebook page.