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Saturday Steam 2/23/13

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sorry for skipping the past two Saturdays, guys! I'll try not to get so behind again. (Although it was nice hearing from some of you who missed it!)

Elizabeth G. first e-mailed me over six months ago to show off her epic thrift store haul of brass bits and glass she'd been collecting, and now she's turned her stash into some awesome steamy goodies!

This thrifted hurricane lamp got an elegant upgrade with that gorgeous chain netting and lighthouse cameo. I love this look so much I've already told Elizabeth I'm stealing her idea, just as soon as I find the right glassware.

And check out Elizabeths' glass-and-metal hot air balloon!

Another idea to steal: use a brass candle cup for the balloon's basket! Brilliant.


I love the seaside details - and isn't the ornament's teal crackle glass perfect withe the aged copper chain? 

Head over to Elizabeth's DeviantArt gallery to see the rest of her creations - there's lots more!


Sue Beatrice of All Natural Arts never fails to astound me with her sculptural pocket watch pieces, but every time I think she can't possibly top herself, she does. Check out her latest, "Pocket Dragon:"


Sue positioned the dragon so it can pivot out of the case slightly when it's opened. She did this to preserve the two hand-etched signatures inside the original case, which is just beyond awesome - I love that she preserved that bit of history! See more pics of the piece on her Facebook album.


Lyndsey G. in Scotland actually sent me this next photo last Halloween - which just goes to show you can never predict how long it will take me to post your stuff, guys. :D Anyway, you'll never guess what Lyndsey used to make this rockin' winged jet pack for her daughter Holly:

That's craft foam, you guys, with a bleach bottle for a base. Lyndsey tells me my foam wing tutorial helped inspire her, so I guess we'll have come full circle if I "borrow" this idea for myself, then - right, Lynz? Head over to her blog post for more pics and details on the rest of Holly's steamy duds.


For you vinyl toy fans, Tamara S. found a neat Kickstarter for these baddies:


They're called Rivals, and while the second guy ("The Nautilus") has more of a Cthulhu pirate vibe,  I'm really digging the first design with the gas mask ("The Cog"). Happily the Kickstarter has already met its goal, and you've still got a week left to snag a figure if you'd like one - or both!

Twenty five bucks (plus $10 for shipping) will get you one DIY (unpainted) figure, or for $30 you can get it painted as shown. I'd really love to see The Cog painted up in some rusty coppers, brass, and leather, so one of you get on that for me, yeah?

Or, ok, maybe I'll break down and buy a DIY version myself... [grumble]



Norene O. spotted a tutorial this week on how to make a corseted leather top hat, and by the famous steampunk artist Tom Banwell, no less!


This is an older tutorial from 2010, but it's new to me. Go here for Banwell's instructions and scale template you can enlarge and print out at home.

Banwell is probably best known for his steampunk masks, btw, which tend to be as terrifying as they are bad-ass. "The Sentinel" is still my favorite of his work, and I'm sure you can guess why:


 You can bet this was in my inspiration folder when I was creating Lady Vadore!

Here's a great photo of it in action, so to speak:


You can buy the gas mask portion of this ensemble at Banwell's Etsy store, where he also has some beautiful filigree masks and wrist gauntlets for those who want to look a little more approachable. ;)

And finally, since I've fallen woefully behind on my own book reviews, I'm happy to share this fabulous Collection of Steampunk Reviews over on Wired. GeekDad James Kelly reviews five works of steampunk fiction in the first part, and then five more works of non-fiction in Part Two. All of them were new to me, so odds are you'll find some gems to add to your "to-read" list. (Steampunk Holmes is going on mine.) And thanks to Amanda J. for sharing the link!


Seen something steamy? Then please, share your links in the comments or over on the Epbot Facebook page!

Posted by Jen at 5:00 PM   |  13 comments  |   Labels:

Friday Geeky Grins & Art Winners!

Friday, February 22, 2013

As if it being Friday afternoon weren't enough, here are a few more things to make you smile:


Zachary Levi (aka Chuck, Flynn Rider of Tangled, and all-around awesome guy) tweeted this pic, and I have to agree:

Best. PiƱata. Ever! Hee! 
(original source with more party pics here)


Felted Falcor. Oh. My. WANT.

By Craftster member Harlan, see more of her work here.


And finally, here's the latest in deviantArt user renegadecow's My Little Pony automatons. Cushion your desk, 'cuz your jaw's about to hit it: 

That's all hand-carved wood, if you can believe it. WOW.

The real beauty is seeing it in action, though:

(Found via BoingBoing)

I can't get over those falling apples! There are still five days left to bid over on ebay, if you're smitten enough and have several hundred dollars to spare. (The bid is currently at $405.)


And speaking of great art, it's time to announce my art give-away winners! (Yep, I'm picking two this month!) So, my randomly selected winners are...

Jade Rodger
&
Amy Broadhurst!



Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses, along with which piece from my Pinterest give-away board you'd like. (On the off chance you both want the *same* piece, whoever e-mails first wins.)


Happy Friday, everyone!


PS -  I thought all of you helpful cooking types would like to know that John and I made a simple pasta with pre-cooked chicken for dinner the other night instead of going out, thanks to all your suggestions. Baby steps! (Which are that much easier when John does most of the work. Ha!)

Posted by Jen at 5:25 PM   |  14 comments  |   Labels: , , ,

Because We Are Better Than This, And They Were Wrong

Thursday, February 21, 2013

[Note: Today's post could be triggering for those who self-harm.]


Frank of PostSecret shared a link on Twitter this week that was hugely inspiring: a young guy with Asperger's named Elijah posted his mailing address about five months ago, and invited anyone who struggles with self-harm to send him their blades, "so they can take a step forward towards getting better."

Putting aside how inspiring it is that this guy is using his "different-ness" to change the world for the better, I have to say I never imagined seeing pictures of blades, paper clips, and lighters taped to little notecards with names on them could make me cry - but this one got me right in the gut:


And then I got choked up again at the card next to it, which was from a 13-year old named Grace.  

A 13-year-old.

Named Grace.

When I was a teen I used to dig my fingernails into the back of my hand any time I felt like crying. In college that became a regular habit, and my left hand was constantly covered in puffy cuts, scratches, and bruises. I remember customers where I worked asking if I had a cat, and then looking intensely uncomfortable when they learned I didn't. I never took it further, thank God, but I still remember that feeling of desperation, of a need for control, and of the not-so-silent cry for help I was making by making myself bleed. 

And then...John.

My scars have faded away almost completely now, but I've since learned that anyone can find themselves in a place of pain and chaos, and more importantly, that there is no shame in that.


I was going to end there, but then Sara S. sent me a video that, while not being about self-harm per se, is still extremely relevant. It's a beautifully illustrated spoken-word poem about childhood bullying, and I hope you'll find a few moments when you're alone to watch it:

(If you ever question the need for videos and campaigns like this, just read a few of the hate-filled comments over on Youtube. UG.)

I know there are a lot of young girls and guys reading this who are facing the hardest struggles of their lives right now, and I know there are older girls and guys who feel more lost than they think they can handle. If that's you, then I just wanted to say that you are loved, you are valued, and there are better ways to regain control of your life than through self-destruction. In short, we are better than that.

And those people? The ones whose voices and condemnation we carry with us?  

They were wrong.



I wasn't going to post this until next week, but then a few hours ago Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess  - and who I know many of you love as I do - tweeted the following:


Since I already had this draft written, I took that as a sign to go ahead and post it now. We all need to be reminded we're not alone, and I've long admired Jenny for being willing to show that even the most successful and talented among us can have struggles. She's breaking down the walls of silence and stigma, and I hope making it that much easier for the rest of us to talk freely and without shame about the times when we're hurting.


Please feel free to share your own stories in the comments, even if it's just anonymously. You never know whose life you could change with a few words of advice and encouragement.

Posted by Jen at 4:13 PM   |  183 comments  |   Labels: ,

Kitchen Nightmares, Jen Edition

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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!

HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, FOODIES?!

Ahem.

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.

Posted by Jen at 10:46 PM   |  422 comments  |   Labels:

February Art Round-Up and Give-Away

Monday, February 18, 2013

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!!]

Ahem.

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!


Posted by Jen at 12:24 AM   |  558 comments  |   Labels: ,

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