Saturday, March 9, 2013
In one week I'll be at MegaCon here in Orlando, glowing it up as Lady Vadore. EEEEEE!! I know I've worn the mask and corset twice now, but I'm still ridiculously nervous. And excited. I'm, like, nerv-ited.
I've been making minor adjustments to my costume this weekend, from replacing my tusks (how often do you hear a girl say that?) to jazzing up my cane. I've also added a small microphone and speaker, so maybe I can shout less and be heard more this time. :)
John and I will be at the con all three days, so feel free to tweet me if you'd like to find us to say hi. I'm still working out which day I'll be in costume, but I'm hoping it will be the latter half of Saturday, so I can see Wil Wheaton's panel in the morning. Depends how well I can manage to truck the costume in and change there at the center. I need John's help to get into the corset, so THAT should be interesting. (My kingdom for a companion bathroom!) Anyway, I'll be sure to bring plenty of Epbot and Vader-riding-a-My-Little-Pony pins, so just track me to down to claim one!
Since I'm working on *my* costume, I thought it'd be fun to show off a bunch of *your* costumes for today's roundup. These are all Epbot readers, and I believe everyone here made and/or assembled their costumes themselves, so this should be great costume inspiration as well as a fun way to put faces with a few of your fellow readers.
Heeeere weeee gooooo!
Being asked to be part of an exhibit like this was a huge honor, and I can't even tell you how excited I am.
If you have something you'd like considered, e-mail a photo of your item(s) to Mike Breza, the museum's assistant director. (He's a cool guy. Tell him I sent you.) His e-mail is mbreza [at] ci.oshkosh.wi [dot] us.
Ok, NOW I 'm done. Happy Saturday, everyone!
Friday, March 8, 2013
Last June I wrote about John's massive, decade-long Diet Mountain Dew addiction and his increasingly worrisome memory lapses. After reading that one of the ingredients in Mountain Dew, brominated vegetable oil, has been shown to cause memory problems, John quit the 'Dew cold-turkey.
Since then several of you have asked for updates on John, wondering if he's managed to stay on the wagon all this time, and if so, whether his symptoms have improved.
I'm happy to report that John HAS stayed on the wagon, though it's never been easy for him. He tells me he still craves the stuff to this day, and that now he has a much better understanding of just how powerful addiction can be.
John didn't just quit Diet Mountain Dew, by the way; he quit ALL soda. The caffeine withdrawal was pretty hellish for the first few weeks, but after that he claimed he felt more awake and clear-headed. He still complained of having to search for the right word all the time, but someone who claimed to know these things told us it can take up to six months to purge the BVO from your system, so I encouraged John to be patient.
John is not much a water drinker, and never has been, so he immediately started researching alternative sugar-free drink options. He did a lot of reading on the various artificial sweeteners (there are claims that Aspartame also causes memory issues) and eventually decided he was comfortable with anything that uses Splenda or Stevia.
His drink of choice now (which uses sucralose, aka Splenda) is Mio, a liquid additive for water. It's kind of like Crystal Light, but since it's already liquid it's a breeze to mix up by the glass. (You just fill the glass partway with water, add 2 squirts of flavoring, and then fill the glass the rest of the way. No spoon needed!)
Naturally, John only uses the Lemonade and Orange-Tangerine flavors - he's a citrus guy, for sure - but here's a fun little secret: if you use one squirt of Lemonade and one squirt of Orange-Tangerine in an 8 oz glass of water, you'll get something that tastes EXACTLY like the Orange drink they serve at McDonald's. Seriously, I tried it, and it's uncanny.
As for me, I still drink 98% water, but when I'm craving something different I use the Mio Peach Tea. If you like sweet teas, you'll probably like it.
I should mention I'm not being paid to sound like a Mio commercial, btw; we just really like the stuff.
(Oh, and lots of you recommended the Sodastream, an at-home soda-maker, but John tried a few of the diet flavors at a friend's and wasn't wild about them.)
Sometime before Christmas John started re-introducing caffeine to his system with the occasional Diet Coke. He only has it at restaurants, so that helps him keep the quantity under control. And even though he tells me he craves it every day, he's never once had another Diet Mountain Dew.
Now, on to his symptoms:
About two months after John quit we went to dinner with a couple of you readers out at Disney, and I remember being struck by how comfortable John seemed that night, finding his words with ease and never once stumbling over a phrase or anecdote. I'd become so used to his often halting speech pattern that it was a real joy to see him laughing and talking eagerly without hesitations. I think the memory thing had been messing with his confidence, maybe.
In the months since John has still occasionally groaned in frustration and claimed he can't remember anything, but I've definitely seen improvements. These days we never have those little moments of strife and frustration over forgotten words, and in fact John's teased ME a few times over my not remembering a word before he does.
So, was quitting Mountain Dew a silver bullet "cure" for John's memory? Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to measure, although as as outside observer I do think John is much better off now than he was. Not to mention anytime you cut down on that many chemicals entering your body, it's got to be a good thing.
Some of you may recall that in January Pepsi Co. announced that they would remove BVO from Gatorade - partially due to a petition started by a 16-year-old girl - but they've still refused to remove the flame retardant (yes, it's a flame retardant) from Mountain Dew. (Other drinks that include BVO are Fanta Orange, Fresca, and Powerade.) I was also interested to learn that BVO is actually banned in over 100 countries. Yikes! Food for thought for those of you who may still be struggling with a similar soda addiction.
As before, please feel free to share your own experiences with soda, and any links you might have to relevant research or articles. We're always up to learn more!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The stone itself was a Christmas ornament for Target, so if you have that and a shadowbox, this is a super simple project. Head over to her blog Sleeping With Skeletons for the full break-down.
Amelia T. crocheted Portal's Atlas and P-body for her boyfriend's birthday:
I'm a huge papercraft fan, so Mathew G.'s creation has BLOWN ME AWAY:
Kate B. makes custom dolls, and when a co-worker challenged her to make Treebeard from Lord of the Rings, she came up with something so epic she decided she HAD to share:
And speaking of dolls, check out this River Tam made by Silvana M.:
To really appreciate her, though, you have to see what Silvana started with. Here's a before-and-after comparison of River's face:
Head over to Silvana's blog to see more finished and process pics. (And can you believe she gave this away in a craft-swap?!)
Proud mom Shelly S. sent me this pic of her sons after they won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in their troupe's pine wood derby:
Now, check out the cars they made (with their dad's help) that won!
[Update: The consensus seems to be it's from Spoonflower. Thanks, guys!]
LOOKIT THE DEATH STAR ANTENNA! LOOK AT IT!! Hee!
Thanks for always knowing just how to make me grin, everyone, and please, keep those e-mails coming! Or you can also share your creations here in the comments, or over on the Epbot Facebook page!
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
If you're on Pinterest as much as I am, then you know sliding barn doors are, like, design crack right now. They seem to work with just about every style, from ultra modern to shabby chic to vintage industrial, and they SLIDE OPEN. C'mon. That's just awesome.
So naturally, I wanted a barn door for our laundry room makeover, if only because I can't find anywhere else in the house to fit one. John and I looked for sliding barn door hardware online, and the cheapest price we could find was about four hundred dollars - and that's just for the hardware!
You guys already know what happened next: John thoughtfully examined the hardware and announced, "I can TOTALLY make that."
And so he did:
The total cost for this door - wood and hardware combined - was less than $100. LESS THAN $100, YOU GUYS.
Here's the breakdown:
Wood - $40
Wheels - $30
Metal rails & tubing - $25
If you already have the door, then that's only $55 for the hardware - $55 versus $400. It doesn't require nearly as many power tools as you might think, either: just a strong drill and an angle grinder with a steel cutting disk to cut the metal rails. (If you're making the door, you'll also need a circular saw - or a hand saw and a whole bunch of patience. :D)
So...you ready for this?! Then let's get to it.
There are several ways to make a simple plank door. We used exterior tongue-and-groove board normally used for house siding:
Once the glue has dried the next day, attach cross-boards to the door, if you like. (You don't have to, but they do add extra support & visual interest.) Here I've also distressed my door by banging it up with a hammer and screw:
Now stain or paint the door to your preference:
cabinet doors we just made.
Now, on to the hardware!
You'll need two 2.5 inch pulleys that look like this:
here on Amazon for about $13 each.) The only part of the pulley you need is the center wheel, though, so pull the center pin and pop that out:
Now take a bar of 1.5 inch solid steel (available at any hardware store), and stick one end of it in a table vise:
Bend it down as you see John doing here. (This really doesn't require a lot of strength; the leverage of the bar does all the work for you.) The hook you've just made is what's going to hold your wheel.
Odds are you'll have to flatten it a bit too far, so now pry the hook back up a bit:
...and then slip the pulley casing in to get the distance right:
Go ahead and hammer on the steel with the casing inside; you won't be needing the case for anything, so it doesn't matter if it gets banged up.
Now test the fit with your wheel; it should fit perfectly, with just the right amount of wiggle room on either side of the wheel:
And repeat the whole process for bracket number two. (You can see here that John bent both hooks on either side of the bar and then just cut it in half.) You may also want to grind down your cut edges, in case they're too sharp.
When you have both brackets ready, it's time to attach the wheels. Drill a hole straight through each hook, piercing both layers of steel:
Also drill holes lower down on your bar where you want the screws to go - the ones that will attach the bracket to your door.
Right. If you plan to paint your hardware, now's the time to do it!
We used a flat black metal primer. (I plan to age it with a little sanding later.)
Attach your bar brackets to your door. I didn't grab a photo before we hung the door, but here's a close-up of the hardware:
Now all that's left is the rolly bar!
This bar is the same 1.5 inch solid steel as the door brackets, so just cut it to the length you'll need for over your doorway, and then drill holes spaced roughly 2 feet apart down the length of it. Make sure you drill these holes in the lower third of your bar, not directly in the middle.
Now my lovely hand model will demonstrate how this bar will attach to your wall:
Ok, so here you've got a honkin' (technical term) concrete anchor in John's right hand. That goes in the wall. That long screw sticking out goes in the anchor. Between the steel bar and the anchor is a half-inch steel tube, cut to about two inches in length. The tube acts as your spacer - very important. Each of the holes you drilled in your bar will have this same set up.
When it's installed, your bar should look something like this:
Ok, so get this: YOU'RE DONE! All you have to do is lift your door into place on the track, and get to sliding!
That's all the stuff it's covering up: pretty much our entire pantry. The door does overlap the edge by about four inches when it's open (the wall wasn't quite big enough for it to slide back further), but that's not an issue for us. Finally - no more clutter, and no more dusty cereal boxes!
I've outlined the basics here, but if you want a much more detailed barn door tutorial (complete with diagrams and precise measurements), head over to this post by Jill of Baby Rabies. There may be some slight differences, but overall it's the same techniques we used. (And I found it - where else? - on Pinterest. Ha!)
Well, hope you guys liked seeing the next stage of our laundry room makeover! We're still not done, of course; next I'll show you our plumber's pipe shelving and the super fun and steampunky way we've devised to hide our water heater. That bit's not quite finished yet, though, so believe me when I say I'm probably WAY more excited to see this than you guys are. ;)
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