Tuesday, November 22, 2011


You know those times when you get so SO FAR BEHIND on your blog and you think you'll never catch up but you know you have to catch up because it'd be weird to just pick up mid-stream and not include a complete synopsis of everything that happened while you weren't posting?

I'm kind of there right now.

Lemme e'splain.

No, no. There is too much.

Lemme sum up.

And since I can barely remember my own name right now, I'll sum up by going through the pictures I took with my phone during our book tour over the past month. Which should prove...interesting.

Ok. So. The morning we left I decided I needed a picture of my cats to keep me company. I made sure to catch them at their snuggliest, too...


...aaaand then I turned the flash off:

Much better.

Driving north was beautiful - lots of trees were still changing color:

The antenna on the dash was my mobile internet booster antenna. Surfing the 'net in the car? It's like living in the future! Although the more we drove, the less I wanted to be online. Instead we listened to audio books (reviews coming) and I worked on my Portal cross stitch patterns.

There was a time when I thought being on the road for a book tour was all glamorous and stuff. That idea was dispelled pretty quickly on our previous tours, but just to make sure it never sneaks back up on me I'll always have this reminder:

This is a swaddled up A/C unit in one of our hotels - I don't remember which. It made a loud clicking/thumping noise. All. Night. Long. Trying to muffle the sound with bedsheets seemed like a good idea at the time. (That time being around 3:30 AM.)

Speaking of hotel trouble, our very first hotel of the tour shared a wall with the kitchen, and at 4AM they started dumping buckets of silverware into the metal sinks. Since we were *just* going to bed at 4AM, this was Not Good. Our *second* hotel room that night (yep, we packed up & changed rooms) had an overpowering stench of mildew, but it was the last room left, so by morning we were both hacking up a lung and I was begging John to drive me home.

"It's a bad omen!" I yelled blearily into my pillow. "God doesn't want us out of Florida! If we turn back now we can be home by tonight!!"

Somehow we persevered, though, and things got much better after that. The shows actually rejuvenated me; meeting so many awesome people made all the hassle and sleep-deprivation worthwhile.

This is one of the cake toppers I tried to save, but his legs fell off. Then, a few seconds after I took this photo, his head fell off. Again. Followed by his torso. Finally I gave up and just left a grisly tableau for the maid to find.

More driving:

Mountains *and* snow? We are sooo not in Florida anymore...

I wasn't all that nervous for any of our shows, but seeing this outside the mall in Richmond made my palms a bit sweaty:

It's just so...official looking, you know?

(I'm not including any show photos here, btw, but if you're interested you can see them all on the Cake Wrecks Facebook page.)

More driving:

It looks like the world is on fire, but that's actually a sunset. Wild, right?

In Boston we saw our first snowfall, and it was SOOO COLD. And then we went farther north. Because we're crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Ottawa was crazy beautiful, and we instantly fell in love. All the buildings were dripping with ornate stonework and scrolled gateways and a clock tower straight out of Peter Pan:


We were staying in a hotel which I just kept calling "The Castle," because it looks like one - and everyone always knew exactly which one I meant:

(Picture found here - because I forgot to take one!)

Because neither of us had ever been to Canada, John arranged for us to have our one-and-only day off in Ottawa. Most of the day was spent working in the hotel room, unfortunately, but we did get out in the evening to walk around and gawk and eat:

Did I mention the eating? The eating of the beaver tails and the poutine?

MMMMMM yeah. That was the stuff.

We also had an Obama cookie:

So called because he apparently stopped in this bakery once. (The cookie itself is just a maple leaf shape.)

And then there was this situation:


No lie: we stocked up a huge take-out box of pastries - AFTER having our third poutine in three days - and THEN stopped to get two more beaver tails on the way back to the hotel.


[wistful sigh]

Moving on, I was thrilled that our schedule had us arriving in Toronto on Halloween night, because they were showing Ghostbusters in one of the theaters there. A really COOL theater:

Why yes, that IS a Klingon Bird of Prey & Starship Enterprise hanging from the lobby ceiling.

I took that photo while traveling down this escalator:

It makes me dizzy just looking at this thing. I had to hang on for dear life and look straight ahead to keep from over-balancing and pinwheeling my arms around like an old Goofy instructional video. ("Here the professional business-goer gracefully assumes the traveling position." "WWWAAA-HOO-OOOEEE!!)

Another thing Canada does better? McDonalds:

Seriously. This is a McDonalds, guys. It had TWO FIREPLACES. With armchairs. And everything was orange, which might have a teensy-tiny bit to do with why I loved it so much. Maybe.

Speaking of all that fast food:

Yeah. That happened.

(Hey, it's a warrior's drink, ok?)

In Chicago we had this sweet surprise:

It's Katie!! (With a bonus tuxedo-kid-photo-bomb!)

Both she and her mom Carrie were there, and introduced themselves after the show. For some reason I was ridiculously delighted to learn that Carrie is a fellow shortie, and we all shared lots of hugs and squeals and not nearly enough time together. I got to sign Katie's book of all your comments, which you can see has lots of page-holders where they've marked out their favorites. I think some of them will be included in the anti-bullying book Carrie is writing!

Again, I'm leaving out most of the actual show details, but I also have to mention this:

This card represents the first - and so far, the only - signing encounter I've had that made me cry. I think I might have embarrassed Laura - and I do hope she doesn't mind my sharing her note here.

I just don't deserve readers this awesome.

Ok, before I start bawling again...look! St. Louis!

Our hotel was right next to the famous arch, although I thought the view on the other side was even prettier:

When we weren't sitting in the car, we were sitting in restaurants. Where John would play with his new wedding ring:

(Yes, it's really rainbow colored, just like our other pair.)

He'd take the ring off and spin it on the table top, and then we'd both take pictures & video with our phones:

We looked like complete dorks, yelling, "Ooh, good one!" and "spin it this way so I can get a better shot!" We're, um, easily amused. Obviously.

Everyone keeps asking about the driving vs flying thing, but I have to say - even after 6,000 miles and over 150 hours in the car - I'll take it over flying any day. It's less stress, more control, PLUS when you're driving through Oklahoma and see something like this...

You can stop for an impromptu museum visit!

More pics of that coming soon, too.

Oh, and I should mention that John actually did all the driving; I was just the passenger. Which probably had something to do with why I liked it so much. ;)

For our final stop in Austin we went to the famous Toy Joy before even checking in to the hotel. It's a quirky local toy store packed with lots of vintage kitsch and just plain odd paraphernalia.

There I bought what might possibly be the most disturbing keychain of all time:

The belly pops out, too, in case you want to play catch with a floating embryo ball.

Like I said: disturbing.

In a kind of awesome way.

I bought it because it reminded me of this clear gelatin belly cake we use in our slideshow:

...but now it's just sitting here on my desk with the baby face all magnified from the liquid and it's just staring at me all 2001-like and frankly I'm started to get the willies. [shiver]

And now, my friends, you are all caught up. Mostly. Tonight John and I do our very last "Winter Underlined" show here in Orlando, and then it's back to "normal!" Since I've already started about half a dozen new projects in the past two days, you can bet I'll be posting more soon.

Thanks again for bearing with me!

Oh, and we found a nice big bundle of Epbot pin requests at the post office - too many for our poor little box to hold. The postal workers were pretty confused, too.

"So, are you Epbot, Cake Wrecks, Jen Yates, or 'Her Supreme Snarky Geekiness?'"

"All of the above, ma'am. All of the above."

Anyway, those should start going out this week, so if you sent an envelope in you can expect your pin soon. (Or don't expect it, and just be pleasantly surprised!)


  1. Seriously? You've never cried before?! You make me tear up everytime I even think about Katie!

    Sounds like you had an absolute blast and I'm sure I speak for us all when I express extreme relief that you made it through with only minor mishaps. It's good to have you back :)

  2. I cannot thank you both enough for coming to Oklahoma. I squealed and laughed all the way back to Tulsa after your visit. You two are a big part of my little bit of daily happy.

  3. Glad y'all made it back home safely!! I got to see yall in Houston and that was the best time I've had in a long time! Thank you Jen and John for the laughs and memories and the awesome camera-held-high-while-looking-up pose picture!!

    Kati (with and "I")

  4. funny thing...my mom is a midwife and I bought her one of those pregnant belly key chains years ago as a joke and she legitimately loved it! She put it on her keys and everything!!

  5. This just makes me wish I could've seen you guys even more. It's not fair! So awesome and geeky.. And more photos of this awesome geekery please? Can't get enough.

    BTW the thing with the ring? Awesome. But I, too, am easily amused. Isn't it great?

  6. Welcome Home Jen & John! I reached the end of your post and whispered (I thought) "yay" but the puppy heard and lifted her head and looked at me like Mom, you told ME to go to sleep so you could, what are you doing?Loved the pics esp the sunset. I'm pretty sure we've stayed in the room with that ac before! Can't wait to see your new things!

  7. Dear Jen, please fill us (or me if it's just me) in on what those things are you keep mentioning that sound like you spent your days in Canada somewhere x-rated. I am simultaneously very curious and too scared to google them. Thanks!

  8. I am so sorry that I missed you in Ottawa. Please come back one day. As a side note, as one who resides in Ontario, there is no such thing as too much poutine and Beaver Tails. One weekend my sisters visited and we ate 4 poutine from 4 places (making my husband drive to pick up the last one for us) in our quest to find the best in my small town. There is no shame or guilt, just cheesy, gravy fry goodness! Happy it was such a success for you.

  9. I'm so glad you enjoyed Canada! Do come back and visit some of the other provinces too, k? :)

    Super jealous of your beaver tails...I was raised in the east but now live in the west where they DON'T HAVE BEAVER TAILS! The horror...

    I think it's an awesome testament to how well suited the two of you are; that your marriage survived 5 weeks on the road. Congratulations. :)

    Good luck catching up on life. I know things are insane after just a couple of weeks - I can't imagine after 5! Oh...and welcome back! I've missed your blogs!

  10. Yay! Thanks for the update! It sounds like you guys had a pretty good experience. The pic of that card got me all teary-eyed. :')

  11. I'm always glad to see a new Epbot post in my reader! Glad you enjoyed Ottawa...I lived there for a year while going to teacher's college, and I actually skated to school on the canal during the winter. So cool.

  12. WELCOME BACK! I missed this blog while you were gone! Work is not the same without CakeWrecks AND EPBOT posts.

    I did see you in Boston-ish and that helped ease the withdrawal - love the feature on your wedding rings after seeing it in person and showing you guys mine (the One Ring).

    Let me know if you're up for that granola IOU too - and I'll send it along with that SASE for the EPBOT pin I was too awe-struck to remember to ask for!

  13. Awesome picture recap :)

    Side note: I'm preggers and totally fascinated with that keychain.

  14. Seeing your pictures reminds me how much I love road trips. Pictures taken out the car window are my favourite. They can never fully do justice to the beauty of the scenery, but they give a great feel and draw you back to the moment. Looking at your "out the car window" shots brought me back to our road trips through the north-eastern United States and eastern Canada. So amazing. Now I'm all inspired, maybe we'll get out there on the road again next year...

  15. I didn't send the squished coins because I knew you weren't home. I'll be sending it out when I mail off holiday gifts, hopefully you'll be settled back in at home by then and can figure out what you want to do with them. (: Glad you're home, the internet just isn't the same without you. (:

  16. Hahaha. We knew someone that got that key chain as a midwife graduation gift. Believe it or not, she actually played with the thing...

  17. Welcome home! I think I speak for all of us... We're glad you made it lol. (( <3 ))

  18. Welcome back!! I look forward to meting you tonight!

  19. So glad you both made it home without any hospital stops this time! I'm sure it is wonderful to be back in your own bed. =)

    I look forward to your new project posts.

    (That belly keychain is totally disturbing! Why on earth would someone even thing to design something like that?!)

  20. I am SO with you on the driving aspect of your trip. I find driving gives you a tru flavor of your location. And I am in TOTAL agreement of the pastry shop pic. Made me drool looking at it...Thanks for sharing this trip with us. Missed your daily emails. Off to send in my Epbot pin request...

  21. You should have told me you were in Ottawa. I could have told you the Clock Tower is the Peace Tower. In fact, I could have taken you on a tour. Sigh. Next time.

  22. I had to giggle a little bit at your McDonald's glee. All of the McDonald's in my town are like that. I had forgotten they aren't all that way. :)

  23. Welcome home Jen (and John)! I hope on the next C.W. world tour I will get the chance to see you. Ya gotta come back out to Cali :-D But now is the time to decompress and just enjoy being at home. Remember what Dorothy said...

  24. So very happy you made it back safely and without an E.R. visit. Can't believe how much we missed seeing Epbot every day. Great to have you back!

  25. Glad you enjoyed your first visit to Canada! I haven't been to Ottawa in years, but I have fond memories of that movie theatre in Toronto on Richmond St--I saw the first Harry Potter there years ago! I love the rubix cub top :) Looking forward to the more detailed updates.

  26. I need to visit Canada now. I'm so glad you had a great trip. That keychain is really freaky. It's something I would put in my family's Christmas stocking. :)

  27. Welcome Home! Get plenty of rest, enjoy working on your latest projects and snuggling with your kitties. Looking forward to whenever you are able to do a West Coast tour (i.e. Portland, OR).

  28. His ring is awesome, where did you get such a thing?

  29. @ Alex - I cry all the time over fan e-mails, but that was the first/only in-person cry-fest. :)

    @jayMariah - the dirty-sounding names are part of their charm! Poutine is french fries with gravy & cheese curds, and beaver tails are pastries covered with butter, cinnamon, & sugar. Delish.

    @Unknown - John actually booked the Chateau, and it was our one splurge - although he tells me it was barely more expensive than some of the run-of-the-mill business hotels we stayed in! I guess it was off-season?

    @ Faye - The ring was from Ross, and cost a whopping $8. :D Considering our other pair cost about $2 each, that's a step up, right?

  30. Chateau Laurier (the castle) is one of the more expensive hotels in Ottawa, but not THE most expensive anymore. I lived there for the first 33 years of my life and worked for the government doing travel and hotel bookings. It is easily the most historic and beautiful though. You did stay during the "off season" so you were right about that.

    The "clock tower" is the Peace Tower (as mentioned by Sassy Rouge) and is in the center of our parliamentary Buildings (our Whitehouse) which is the seat of our federal government. If you go back to Ottawa ask for a tour of the Library (or contact me for a private tour by an employee who is a good friend of mine) as it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Ottawa and something you would sqee over for hours. The library was saved from total destruction when the original parliament buildings caught fire and the librarian sacrificed himself to lock the library up and save it from the fire. It is full of hand-carved greenmen and floral relief. It was completely restored piece by piece just a few years ago and they added a ton of great modern amenities while maintaining the original beauty.

    I am glad to hear you guys are back safe and sound.

  31. Hehehe got to love the stairs at the Scotia Bank Theatre... it is pretty steep and scary. I cling on to the railing with both hands. Great seeing you guys in Toronto.

  32. OMG Katie has a Rankin-Bass Christmas specials t-shirt! So much love.

    Glad you're back home safe and sound. Out of curiosity what route did you take from Boston to Canada? (I'm in-between so curious how close you got.)

  33. At that sunset I would have had to put on John Denver - Rocky Mountain High.

    Glad to have you back and looking forward to more updates. I started going through a bit of 3G withdrawal.

    If you need a break from working, go check out Tor's Muppet Week posts. http://www.tor.com/tags/Muppet%20Week

  34. Wow! What a trip!

    So I just wanted to comment and share my own long car trip cross stitch project!

    We were on our way to LA for a funeral/Disneyland trip, and I worked that out to decorate my little brother's Christmas present with :]

    Gotta say, it surprised me, but I think cross stitch is my new go-to time killer in the car!

  35. You hit some of the very best parts of ottawa, and if I still lived there I so would have been at your signing...or the one in austin, if i still lived there. So, next time you're in seattle...i'm there! (If i still live here!)

  36. If you don't like down escalators, avoid the DC Metro system. The longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere is the Wheaton station. I got on it once without thinking and by the time I got to the bottom my hand hurt from the death grip I had on the rail. Never. Again.

  37. Glad you enjoyed yourself north of the border!! :) We're pretty outstanding up here. ;) Next time you come to Canada, please come to Halifax!! And go back to Ottawa, too -- my sisters weren't able to attend this time around.

    And yay Inigo quotes. :)

  38. I was next in line at the weep-fest. John was rather misty-eyed as well. Yeah, so was I. The lady was truly a LADY and you were marvelous! Thanks again for stopping in Pittsburgh-ish!
    p.s. glad you liked the necklace....

  39. Toy Joy! Dang it, I had forgotten about them. We used to live in Austin and have many wonderful memories, but I had completely forgotten Toy Joy until you mentioned it. Since it's that time of year, did you get to go to Amy's Ice Cream and have the pumpkin pie flavor? Another favorite.

    And I know what you mean about McDonald's outside the US being way cooler. The Makudonarudo's (as they pronounce it) in Harajuku had a really cool feel to it. I wish I had thought to take pictures. The one in Akasaka by our hotel was pretty cool too, but the Harajuku one almost had a European cafe feel to it. Why can't ours be that cool?

  40. Jen,
    So AWESOME to meet you & john! If you can sum up 5 weeks, I spoze I could at least do a post of the ONE night you were in Richmond. I'll work you into my Thanksgiving post, somehow. ;-) Sending SMILES, :-) Hali

  41. Glad you got home ok and hope to see you over on the west side of MO next year. (Just realized I can't even type that without throwing up a "west side" sign.) We need some good entertainment in KC!

  42. You came through Oklahoma and I missed it? :( The Action Figure museum is great. We used to live about an hour or so from there (my mom still lives down that way). I have a ton of pics if you ever need to borrow any. ;)

  43. Welcome home! So glad your trip went well. I missed you in Pittsburgh because I had to {**W*O*R*K**} but my husband got to go and really enjoyed it.

    Enjoy the holidays--hope you have plenty to time to work on fun new projects and tell us about it. Um, I cleaned off a bookcase--does that count?

  44. Jen and John,

    I'm so glad you guys made it through unscathed. I have missed your blogging. Anywho, it's sounds like everything was successful and enjoyed. I hope you have a great "holi day" and it was great meeting you in Pittsburgh.


  45. Loving John's wedding ring - it's pretty much exactly what my fiance and I are after for our 2013 wedding! Unfortunately we're in the UK so have no idea how to find anything like this. *Sadface*

    Great pics from the tour, I'm off to check out FB!

  46. Ottawa wins!!!!!!!!!
    (bad part about posting online is that you can't see the "touchdown" sign I'm doing with my arms)
    I'm so happy you loved Ottawa (it's one of my favourite cities) and got to enjoy so much of it. However, next time you tour, come a lot farther northwest because we have persians that kick beaver tail butt!

  47. My sister and I were absolutely sick when we realized you went from St. Louis to Tulsa - obviously, you took I-44, which means you drove WITHIN SIGHT OF OUR HOUSE.

    Next time you do a book tour, make a stop in Springfield, Missouri, okay? And feel free to take a breather in Marshfield, about twenty minutes north - we shall ply you with desserts (we both love to bake), cats (we have six, including one who is currently draped across my chest, which makes it rather hard to type - oh, and breathe), and geekery (my earliest memories involve watching "Star Trek" - I even visited "Star Trek: The Experience").

    Shoot, we're such big fans, Emily wanted a "Cake Wrecks" cake for her twelfth birthday. For her thirteenth birthday, I hand-painted the poster from the musical "Wicked" on her cake. I keep meaning to post those pictures to the FB page...

  48. Aww, I'm glad you enjoyed Ottawa!

  49. I love the toy museum, the last time we went, our family group qualified for the group rate!

  50. zomg i love john's wedding band! and it's from ross, wow. i never go there (never mind i'm in another country 10-11 months out of the year), but my man and i are finally hoping to tie the knot next year. i think i'm going to see if i can find that ring here and tell him surprise, i've picked out the wedding bands. ha.

    oh, and that mcdonald's looks classy! you should see the ones in australia and new zealand. no fireplaces (though it really doesn't get cold enough there to warrant fireplaces) but they're still nice. the mccafé section there is so much more vast than here, where they offer a couple coffees they did anyway and nothing else. there, there's a whole separate counter (and sometimes even a separate sitting area so it's its own little cafe within a mcdonald's) with, well...everything you'd expect in a café. lots of drink options and loads of sandwiches, pastries, and cakes.


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