Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No, I Didn't Fall Overboard

Sorry for the radio silence, guys; my health took a nasty turn this past week, and I'm just now forging my way back into the land of clogged inboxes, funny cakes, and awesomely geektastic steampunkery. (Srsly, how cool is my life?)

I hope you all have had and are having a fantastic holiday break! I also hope to return to my regularly scheduled program of entertaining (read: embarrassing) family anecdotes and crafty geekery very soon, but in the meantime....

Can I please have a pair of these for a late Christmas present? [Bambi eyes] Pleeeeese???

This was filmed by Epbot reader Veronica B.'s mom at the Knoxville Zoo, and you can actually hear Veronica talking in the background. On a side note, I love that you guys think of me when you see something this cute. Over at CW, it's all, "This cake was SO DISGUSTING, I immediately thought of you!" Yeah. Um. Thanks?

Now: can I please have a baby red panda? Or two? I promise to be VERY GOOD this year. :D

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Can Explain...

I've spent the entire day today wearing a knee-sock on one foot with no shoe and a flip-flop (no sock) on the other. I'm also sporting cut-off yoga pants, a mismatched Disney t-shirt, and a big floppy robe. Sometimes there was also a skirt involved - but don't ask me how.

So, obviously, I've been packing.

Here's the thing: I hate packing.

So that's the thing.

In related news, John and I are going on a cruise with our families tomorrow. We'll be gone five days. Our sanity, however, caught an early flight out sometime yesterday afternoon.

We have relations flying in from California, Texas, and Maine, plus my parents drove down from Virginia, and John had to organize pretty much all of it: the hotels, the flights, the how-much-luggage-can-fit-in-YOUR-trunk?, and, of course, the cruise itself. Afterward we're hosting Christmas morning here at our place, so there's also been that to plan/freak out over.

Now, because our trunk space driving back from the port is limited, John asked everyone to please try to pack light.

My mother - always one to take instructions seriously - showed up with one pair of pants. One. (Thankfully, she was wearing them.) In fact, the sum total of her luggage could have been contained in some of my larger purses.


Upon learning this yesterday, I gently explained to my mom that we were going on a cruise, not a 2-day stint in a war-zone foxhole, and that she would not, in fact, be required to carry all of her luggage on her person at all times. So off to Ross we went, where, after much cajoling, I was able to convince her to purchase a black skirt and a black pair of jeans.

Now, I know what you're thinking: they still make black jeans? Yes, my friends, they do. But more importantly, I clearly did not get my mom's sparse-packing jeans. I mean genes. I just need things when I leave home: shoes and hair creams and - for the love of sweet mercy - my tweezers.

Still, I did my best, and I think I've managed to condense my bare necessities down to a manageable amount.

I just hope I remembered to pack some pants.

Anyway, stay tuned for what I'm sure will be absolutely hysterical reports on our family vacation. And maybe some coded pleas for help. (If I start referring to myself as Inigo Montoya, call the Brute Squad, stat.)

UPDATE: Yes, I have my passport. More importantly: it's no longer expired. Less importantly: I'm never going to live that down, am I? ;)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Grand Tour

Wow, I've been loving all your comments describing your holiday decorations, guys! That, and desperately craving pictures. Hmmm - new Facebook album, perhaps? So you can all share?

You know, it's funny; on Cake Wrecks I've always been a pretty private blogger. If you'd told me even a year ago that I'd be photographing my house and then posting the pictures publicly online I probably would have fainted. I guess the difference is I feel like I already know you Epbot readers, in a geeky camaraderie kind of way. Posting here feels like I'm just e-mailing a bunch of friends - nothing weird or creepy about that, right?

Besides, I worked for THREE SOLID DAYS getting all this Christmas stuff up, and by golly, people are gonna see it.


SO, my friends, since I'm sure you're simply dying to see my decked halls [smirk], allow me to take you on the grand tour.

(Uh. Brace yourselves.)

We'll start at the front door, which dumps you unceremoniously into our front room:

Here you're greeted by Tree #1.


I initially stuck that bow there as a joke - it looked so silly I cracked up every time I looked at it. Then I realized I liked laughing at my own tree, so it stayed.

I couldn't swing steampunk this year, so instead I used what I had and tried for India: lots of jewel tones, peacock feathers, and orange and bronze. (Although that ornament next to the elephant IS pretty steampunk: it's called a "nocturnal time piece," from Etsy. Once the tree is down, I'll display it in the dining room.)

More pretties:

And check out what I just found at Crate n' Barrel last weekend:

They're peacock feathers inside glass ornaments! Cool, right? All our other ornaments come from Big Lots and cheap discount stores, but I figured these were worth the $3 splurge.

Can't forget the gem that Number 1 gave me:

When you press a button, Spock's voice plays *really loud.* It's great for scaring the bejeepers out of the cats.

Here's the tree lit up:

Looks about like every other tree, huh? Yeah, I actually like this one better during the daytime.

One of my favorite things is making little table top displays around the house:

There's another steampunk element for you: a heavy brass compass with built-in level and mirror. (Found at Hobby Lobby, of all places.)

On the photo wall I tuck in little wrapped boxes and berries:

The photos are ones I took in John's home town in Maine. The old gas pump shot is my favorite.

Yikes, and that's just the front room. Um. Maybe you should go make some popcorn or something... (and be glad my house is less than 1400 square feet. Heheh.)

All set? Ready to see more? Ok, here's the dining room:

(That male model charged a fortune for this shoot. Yeesh.)

And the wall to the left:

Check out the mini diving helmet! Oh, and the steampunk goggles that John made. Eventually there will be a tutorial for next year. The art is a print by James Christensen.

You've already seen everything in our dining room, of course, but I did add a few things for the holidays:

A different wreath, a few sprigs of berries, an ornament or two: it's fun to add little surprises here and there.

I'm ashamed to say we still have the boring paper lantern chandelier, but at least it's a nice place to dangle a few ornaments:

Oh, and my favorite addition is on top of the cabinet:

A clear plexiglass "NOEL", with silver glitter on the edges.

It looks so pretty with all the other glass and silver!

I made the garland and big bow with glittery fruits and ribbon from Old Time Pottery.

To the left is our little bitty galley kitchen:

We ripped this room down to the studs three Christmases ago, and redid it ourselves on the cheap using all IKEA cabinets and shelving. I adore it.

The pass-through window:

With more orange and bronze sparklies in some leftover garland.

And finally (promise!), our back room:

This picture is when I realized one of the light strands in the tree had burned out. I replaced it, and then the replacement burned out. Yeah. This tree is officially on my "naughty" list this year.

Here's another table top display behind the couch:

Yes, I wrap empty boxes. FOR FUN. I'm one of *those* people. I also wrap the lids separately and reuse everything, although the boxes are all empty again this year as we've skipped gifts in favor of the Charity Countdown. The framed pieces are inexpensive (less than $10) original watercolors found on ebay.

"Why Jen, do you really have an old sign from the Magic Kingdom hanging in your living room?"

Yes, yes I do.

Another cabinet:

A close-up of our entertainment center:

And FINALLY finally, the tree itself:

The cats' new favorite thing? Burrowing under the tree skirt. It's hilarious to watch, but they leave giant humps under it in the back. ;)
It looks even better at night:

The tree is covered in twinkle lights, which are quite possibly my favorite things in the whole wide world. Hey, Dizgeeks, you know how all the trees in the Disney Village have twinkle lights? Or used to? (Seems like there used to be more than there are now.) That's where I fell in love with them, at the ripe age of 7. Having them in my house now is a little slice of twinkly heaven - or maybe Lothlorien.

Well, guys, hope you enjoyed the tour! (There is more, of course, but I'll spare you the office and bathroom. For now. Heh.) And, since I can't invite you all over for a holiday bash, I guess now you'll just have to drink some eggnog and exchange hilarious gag gifts amongst yourselves.

Have pictures of your own decorations? Link to them in the comments, or upload them to the Epbot FB page - I wanna see!

Monday, December 13, 2010


One thing you guys know about me: if it glitters, I'm sold. Which is why Christmas decorations, with all their sparkling, glitter-soaked shiny bits, send me into a nirvana-like state of hypnotized bliss. Mmmmm.

Anyway, every year here in Orlando the local art museum holds a big showcase of amazingly decorated Christmas trees and wreaths, usually donated by local design firms. For a Christmas nut like me, it's heaven.

Here's some of the eye candy I brought back with me:

I like to take these close-ups of individual trees and then make a slideshow for my screen saver. It's kind of like decorating my computer. :)

You may be surprised by which tree was my favorite, though. (I was!) Here, I'll start with the close-up:

The theme was "green," and every decoration on it was either natural plant life or recycled paper. I fell in love with this little cardboard owl - isn't he adorable?

And see that garland? It was made from the pages of a book. Each page was folded over a piece of string and stapled - I can't imagine how long the 20-odd feet of garland took to make. So. Cool. Also, if you look closely you'll see the woven paper tree skirt, and my own bright green sneakers. Heh. (John and I both had cameras; he got the wide-angle lens, while I focused on the close-ups.)

[Now imagine with me if you will: a tree like this one, with paper garland and natural wood accents, PLUS - brass ornaments, a distressed leather tree skirt, and lots and lots of antique keys and GEARS. Eh? EH? Steampunk Christmas tree, guys: I totally want one. Who's with me?]

In addition to gawking, John and I also consider a trip to the Festival research: we get lots of fun ideas to try out at home. For example, check out these quirky tree toppers:

For a storybook theme. There were a lot of finger puppets used as ornaments.

How perfect would this be for a Harry Potter tree?

(Ok, so the theme was actually "birds," but I'd totally put a more magical twist on it.)

And speaking of wings, how's this for heavenly?

I could see this working with fairy wings, too, which I bet a lot of you already have in your closets left over from Dragon*Con or Halloween.

And, of course, gotta have the big glitter spray:

We first saw the spriggy explosion/burst-type toppers at this show a few years ago, and we've tried a few different versions over the years. (You'll see mine soon: one's in gold, and one's in peacock feathers. [ooooh, aaaahhhhh])

And here's the whole tree:

A few more full-tree shots:

This one was deliciously orange-y:

Sidenote: do you know how hard it is to find orange ornaments? DO YOU?!?
(It's ok: I eventually found a few.)

Here's the most fun specimen of the show:

It's jam-packed with construction toys: trucks, hard hats, little plastic tools, etc., and that giant crane is lowering the star on to the top! I love it!

John's favorite (and really high on my list, too):

Seriously, check out that color fade: from red to burnt orange to gold to white! I was amazed they found ribbons in all the graduating shades, and the effect was simply stunning.

I don't know how they made it, but I'm digging this awesome tabletop diorama:

It's shaped like a giant glass ornament! The mirrored back made it ├╝ber extra sparkly, too.
Ooh, hey, and there's John looking sexy in the reflection! [rawr] And also my hat. Looking less sexy.

And finally, a few glittering tablescapes:

*sigh* Ah, to set a table this lovely...

Oh, and check out this nifty idea:

As far as I could tell, the centerpiece was a clear glass vase with tinsel wreath topper on it. The ornaments inside were then all hanging from the wreath. Clever, right? I think I want to try this - although of course on a much smaller scale. This thing was massive:

Also, you can't beat a wide-angle lens for making stuff look professionally photographed. Sweeeet.

One last shot of the place setting:

I love the big puffy bows of tulle used on the gift boxes. They looked like little clouds floating around all the crystal and glimmering gold. Just magical!

So, guys, what's *your* holiday decor like? Any tips or tricks you'd care to share? Tell me in the comments, and then stay tuned for pictures of my own decorations! (You know, just as soon as I replace the *&%$! string of lights that decided to burn out a SECOND time on the tree but that I can't remove because it's wired on and the tree is covered in ornaments and I thought pre-lit trees were supposed to be LESS work and grumblegrumblegrumble...)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Ohhhhh"

It's Wear & Share Star Wars day! Are you rockin' your SW gear? And have you donated a geeky toy to charity yet? (Full disclosure: I haven't yet. But I will, I will!)

What's that? In honor of the day you want to see another amazing Star Wars mash-up?

As you wish:

(Video not working? You can also watch it here on Youtube.)

And if your mind hasn't exploded from sheer awesomeness yet, here are a few more fun links to check out:

- The complete list of Star Wars snowflakes submitted by @thinkgeek readers so far, along with templates so you can make your own!

One of my favs:

Time to break out the paper and scissors!

- and another goody you've probably already seen, but too good not to mention:

Dr. Seuss does Star Wars. Srsly, how awesome is "Darthly Vader?!?"

See more at artist Adam Watson's site, where you can also purchase prints.

And finally, have you heard of the famous ice hotel that gets constructed every winter in Sweden? I saw a documentary on it once: really fascinating, beautiful stuff. And yes, you really do sleep on a bed made of solid ice, in rooms made of snow and ice. (Assuming you have enough cold hard cash to afford the reservation, of course. Heh.)

Anyway, check out the special theme room this year (!!):

**stunned silence**

TRON, you are now officially really, really cool.

(No pun intended.)

Check out more pics at the builder's blog here, or the Youtube vid of its construction here.

(Thanks to GirlsAreGeeks for the link!)

Oh, and if you're not following Epbot on Facebook: you should. 'Cuz then you'd already have seen the amazing CNN article on Katie that I was interviewed for last week, plus the steampunk cupcakes that dozens and dozens of you have been e-mailing me about, plus lots of other fun geeky tidbits and links that I share there from time to time. It's also a great place to share your stuff. I get a kick out of seeing all your photos and links - and you never know when I might feature them here on the blog!