Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well, This Is Awkward

Since not all of you follow me on FB, I wanted to make sure you saw these updates re: my appointment tomorrow. (And I'm sorry to be inundating you with all this personal stuff, but you guys have been so wonderful this week I figure you deserve to know!)

 Update #1:

Just had a reminder call for my Doctor's appointment tomorrow...and the woman on the line was so curt and cold she managed to make "How are you" sound like a dirty insult. Even John commented on how angry she sounded. Then she moved my appointment up by an hour.

Not gonna lie - I'm a lot more trepidatious about tomorrow now than I was an hour ago. [deep breaths]

Update #2:

Uh oh.

John just googled the doc I'm seeing tomorrow & found a bunch of negative reviews: terrible office staff, cold demeanor, even an unnecessary biopsy! ACK!! Even the good reviews say she's always an hour late and a "salesman" more than a doctor. Crap. I think I should cancel - but I've been psyching myself up for this all week! ARRRRG. I need off this emotional roller coaster!

John says you guys won't think I'm a coward if I cancel.

Ok. I'm canceling.

But I promise I'm finding another doctor RIGHT NOW. I *am* doing this. Pinky swear.

So...anyone know a good "lady bits" doctor in Orlando? :/

( Mini Update #3: John's working on a good lead now, and we're planning on calling tomorrow morning - but any recommendations would still be appreciated!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quick Craft: Steampunk Medal

Thanks to some Father's Day clearance I spotted at JoAnn's last week, I was able to make this fun and steamy medal for just a few dollars:

 Ok, so it's both steampunk and a little Harry Potter, with that winged key. That's double the geeky goodness!

(ZOMG - steampunk Harry Potter! Why have I not thought of this as a cosplay option before?!)

This was more of a quick customization craft than anything, because I started with this:

If you have a JoAnn's nearby, check their clearance to see if they still have any of these available. They were 70% off when I bought this one, so it only cost about $1.50. SCORE.

I brought it home and cracked open my charm stash. The key and wing sets are from Wal-Mart:

The gears are thin die-cut metal (or metal coated paper, perhaps?), a gift from Sharyn. Happily I found two that fit inside the circle perfectly, so from there it was just a matter of picking the charm I wanted for the center:

These were my four favorite options for charms. My first choice was the ray gun (an old Cracker Jack charm), but after I snipped off the ring and re-painted it I wasn't happy with the finish. (Drat.) The winged heart is great for a jewelry option, but I wanted mine to be a little more unique, so I went with the winged key.

I snipped off the wing rings, and glued everything down with a gel super glue:

(I also switched to a different key charm.)

To jazz up the top ribbon portion, I used two jewel brads to hang a short length of silver chain:

I just cut a slit in the ribbon with a utility blade to slide the brads through. Super easy.

These are the brads I used, and you can see how I opened them up & snipped the one side on the back. (The ribbon is stained because I was experimenting with painting over the stripes with markers to change the colors. The ink tends to bleed, though, so I just left the ribbon as-is.)

And that's it! There are tons of possibilities with this one, whether you wear it as jewelry or as a cosplay accessory, so just use what you have, and have fun with it!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Turn Any Fat Frame Into a Shadowbox Frame!

I recently decided to switch most of my office frames from black to white, for a cleaner, brighter look. Most of the frames I can paint, of course, but my black shadowbox frames have glass that can't be removed, and I couldn't find the same size again in white.

The "before."

So, together John and I figured out how to turn any fat frame into a shadowbox frame, and it's a lot easier than you think. All you need are a few simple tools, some acid-free foam board, and four glazier points. (I'll explain what those are in a minute.)
We used this 5x7 frame from Ikea, which costs a whopping $2.99:

Ikea frames are perfect for this tutorial, but you can use any frame that's nice and fat on the sides - say, an inch or more - and any size frame, as well.

First, open up your frame and use pliers to yank out the metal brads or staples:

Next replace the glass and backer board, and measure the depth from the board to the edge of your frame, like so:

This measurement will tell you how wide to cut your foam core strips.

Our strips were about three quarters of an inch thick. Make sure you use archival quality, acid-free foam core. You should be able to find it at your local craft store.

Don't cut the foam core with scissors; it will crush the edges. Instead, use a craft or utility blade. To keep the blade from wobbling while you cut, brace it against a level or other straight edge with your finger, like John's doing here:

Next mark your foam strip's length against your frame:

Cut the strip, and then glue it to the interior side of your frame. Make sure the nicer edge of your foam strip is facing down towards the glass, and the rougher cut (if there is one) is facing up towards you.

Did I mention you should have your glass in place before gluing the foam strip down? No? Ok, make sure you have your glass in place before gluing the strip down!

Now repeat this process for all four sides of your frame.

Gluing the final piece in place.

Now replace your art, hold the original backer board in place, and take a peek:

Not bad, eh? See how crisp the inside edges look? You'd never know that wasn't part of the original frame! (This is when I realized the paper behind my art has discolored, btw. I'll have to replace it soon.)

We're not done yet, though; we still have to secure our frame's backer board.

You could just duct tape the thing on, of course, but John and I wanted a stronger and more elegant solution, so we eventually decided on glazier's points.

Glazier points are small metal triangular pieces used in installing glass panes. You can find them in any hardware store, and they're crazy cheap. (Maybe a dollar or two for a big pack.)

To place the points, first mark where you want them to be on your frame with the backer board in place. Then remove the backer board and use a utility blade to notch a small slit at each mark:

(If your frame is a soft wood, you can skip this step. Ikea frames have a hard enamel finish, though, so the notches help a lot.)

Once you've made all four slits, replace your art and backer board again and use a large flat head screwdriver to carefully push the glazier points in place:

When you're done, the back of your frame should look like this:

And that's it! If you ever need to change your artwork, you can just pop the points out again with a screwdriver.

My "before" art card still needs new paper, but here's another ACEO in my finished shadowbox frame:

I couldn't be happier with how this turned out - and now I'm off to do the rest of my frames! 

I hope this helps if you ever find yourself in need of a cheap and easy shadowbox. And as always, please send me a picture if you try this out yourself!

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

A Quick Word of Thanks

It seems so strange to bare a bit of my soul on this blog, spend hours and hours reading and responding to all your wonderful comments and e-mails and expressions of support, and then abruptly go back to "OMG lookit this cool steampunk thing!!" the very next day. Ha! So, allow me to say - though this will be wholly inadequate - thank you. Truly.  I am simply overcome by your generosity, and I've laughed and cried and cringed my way through the hundreds of stories of hope and pain you've shared (and are continuing to share) in the comments and via e-mail. I'm afraid I won't be able to respond to you all, but please know I'm reading and appreciating every single one.

Clicking "publish" on that post was a big leap for me, but I can tell many of you took that same leap by sharing your own stories, and I think that together we're the better for it.


Wednesday John gets his stitches out. Friday is my exam. And Saturday? Saturday, WE ARE GOING TO A CON, gosh darn it. Yep, we decided today that we're going to drive down to Miami for the Florida SuperCon, because we both need something to look forward to this week. With that, and all the many prayers and thoughts and lovely words you readers have given me, I'm thinking maybe I'll be Ok this Friday, after all.

Thank you, again, a million times over. And hey, meet me in Miami on Saturday, and I'll totally buy you a Cuban sandwich at Versailles. You've earned it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Steam 6/23/12

Let's start this week's roundup with an argument in favor of my starting a doll collection:

 Eeee! So beautiful! (Posted by the artist maddierose90804 almost exactly a year ago.)

Seriously, though, the custom doll world scares me. I can see myself getting sucked in and losing all my money in a heartbeat.

Btw, I stumbled across that doll while looking for the source for this one Kati B. sent in:

This steampunk Barbie has flooded Pinterest, and I can't find the original source for the life of me. Anyone know? (Even the watermark didn't help!) The detail is just mind-boggling, isn't it? I want all these doll outfits in MY size!

[UPDATE: Yay, the commenters found it! See more pics from Izolda Frozenhouse here on Flickr. Thanks, guys!] [UPDATE UPDATE: Looks like that Flickr account has since been removed. Sorry, guys.]

And since I'm in a steamy dress-up kinda mood now, here's another fun paper doll program that Lizzy found:

You can play it on the artist's DeviantArt page here - and be sure to kiss your next ten minutes goodbye. ;)

I'm digging this fun airship sculpture by Stephan J. Smith:

"Papier-mache and repurposed metal, plastic, wood and cardstock. Finish painted in acrylic. Approximately 18″ long, 6″ wide and 10″ tall. Weighs less than 2 lbs and hangs by two embedded wire eyes at top of sculpture." 
(Found via DudeCraft)  

It's for sale, too - only $130! Not bad for all that hand-crafted goodness.

Or, for us crafty types, Stephan has a DIY kit so you can make your own:

The kit is $20, and comes with everything in the inset picture - wooden stand not included. Hmm... I bet one of these would look awesome over my steampunk Christmas tree this year...

Oh! Remember Sarafina, the high-schooler who asked for advice on putting together a steampunk prom dress? Well, I'VE GOT PICTURES!

Her mom Stefani sent these in. Due to travel and another school event on the same weekend, the families had to get these two ready in a hotel with really bright bedspreads:

D'aww. Aren't they adorably dapper? I like how his vest co-ordinates with her dress. And see how Sarafina pinned her skirts, and got some great boots, and chose a pretty jewel-tone dress? [swelling with pride] To quote Sean Connery: "SCHTEAMY." (Ok, that's less a quote and more how he'd sound saying "steamy," but whatevs.) 

Also, check the hair!


I mean, it'd be even BETTER with teeny tiny top hat, but I'm not complaining. Great work, Sarafina and Stefani and Sarafina's date! I hope you guys had a fabulous prom!

Melanie R. had a great idea for some easy and steamy wall art: She purchased several technical drawings from Vintage Internet Patents and then framed 'em up all purdy:

These two are Edison's light bulb and Smith's microscope, but Melanie also has Tesla's steam engine and Goedike's printing press. Perfect for a home office or budding mad scientist!

The prints are $7.50 each, or you can download the .pdfs and print them yourself (perhaps on old book pages? Hmm?) for $2.99. There are lots of categories to browse through, too. Here's one from "Transportation:"

"Sullivan Flying Machine"

Or, if you've got a slightly (ok, hugely) larger art budget, check out these AMAZING steampunk sculptures Scott K. sent in:

 Jessica Joslin  uses found objects and metal to craft these slightly creepy and utterly charming art pieces. My favorite is Lazarus the bat here, but Cooper the owl is equally impressive:

Hit the link up there to see more Jessica's work.

Seen something steamy? As always, share the goodness with me on FB, Twitter, or e-mail! (And if you're a Pinterest addict, I even have a steampunk board you can check out.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Medical Schmedical

(Parents, you  may not want your children to read this post - or at least not the second half. And if medical stuff makes you squeamish, you may want to skip it, too. I've put a  note in the text to let you know when the ickier stuff starts.)

This week John had a minor surgical procedure, but since this is us we're talking about, it sure didn't seem all that minor. Not to mention any time someone cuts on you and you're awake at the time, that's a pretty big deal in my book. 

The procedure was to take a bump off John's back, and he's actually had it done before. Problem was, last time he passed out on the table and had a minor seizure from the pain, and I was holding his hand and generally freaking right the heck out at the time. 

Needless to say, it was a traumatic experience for both of us.

So this time, when the lousy bump grew back and was causing John enough pain to require another removal, we were both pretty hesitant. Especially when the new doctor refused to put him under/out. (I still don't get that; they can knock you out at the dentist's - why not the surgeon's office?!) Instead, the surgeon prescribed John one Valium. One.

John nearly cancelled the procedure when we picked up the Valium and were informed it was a pretty low dose, but by this point his bump had somehow gotten infected (I know that's a lovely mental image - sorry) and was too painful to ignore. So, he went through with it. went Ok! The Valium made him woozy and I think helped keep him conscious. I also stayed out of the room this time, since John claimed I was making him nervous. (Like everyone doesn't alternate between hand-wringing and glaring daggers at the doctor. WHAT.) He tells me the first cut nearly made him black out, but they had smelling salts and more numbing shots on hand, so after that things went Ok.

After the procedure the doctor prescribed John some pain kills. Specifically, he prescribed 35 Percocets, which have oxycodone in them. Fairly heavy-duty stuff. Funny thing is, these drugs put John out more than the Valium did! Makes me wish they'd given him one of those instead. 

Still, John hates the pain pills. HATES them. They make him muddled and sleepy, so he's already switched to OTC stuff for the pain. (But on the plus side, now we have a starter pack for any future drug addictions we want to start!) (Kidding, kidding...)

Speaking of which, thanks to his stitches John now has a small pair of lips on his back. It's disgustingly hilarious. I'd show you a picture, but I'm pretty sure you REALLY don't want to see that. Hee.

And now that John has survived *his* medical ordeal, it's my turn. Like John, I had a procedure several years ago that just hasn't worked, and I think it's time for a do-over. In my case, it's your standard my-uterus-is-trying-to-kill-me stuff, and the procedure I had was an endometrial ablation, aka NovaSure. In a nutshell, the doctor scraped out my uterus and then cauterized it. (Mercifully, I was unconscious at the time.) 

I had limited success with the NovaSure. It's certainly nice to not have the ultra heavy bleeding every month (or any bleeding at all), but the pain and cramping were only alleviated a little - and have steadily been increasing to their pre-surgery levels ever since. I'm incapacitated for 5 to 6 days every month from the pain and fatigue, and lately I've started to have sharp stabbing pains that make me gasp, as well. It's probably just fibroids growing back, but since I want this over and done with this time I think I'm going to ask for a hysterectomy. 

Trouble is, I'm scared spitless of doctors and medical procedures in general. Part of it is from seeing so many clueless and/or condescending doctors over the past five years, searching in vain for a diagnosis for my sudden-onset anxiety. (None of them helped, btw. I had to find my answers on my own.) The other, larger part, is because the last time I went to an OB-GYN she performed an endometrial biopsy on me instead of the pap smear I was expecting. 

[Last chance to turn back if you're squeamish!]

If you don't know what that is (because I sure didn't), an endometrial biopsy involves the doctor using a long metal hook to rip out pieces of your uterine lining - while you're awake and completely unmedicated. I'm sure you moms out there have probably experienced worse, but I don't mind telling you it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced - and made more so by the fact that I was expecting the little pinch of a pap, not...that. I could *feel* my insides tearing, and it just...kept...going. (I later learned the doctor ripped out three separate pieces of my lining.)

John was in the room, but shut away behind a sheet because the doctor wouldn't let him see me. So all he could do was stand there, helpless, and listen to me crying out in pain and asking what was happening and begging the doctor to stop.

I'm sorry. I'm actually crying right now, because I can't think about this experience without reliving it. That day, I didn't stop sobbing for a solid six hours. I couldn't. I was incoherent, hysterical, and John nearly had to carry me out to the car. It wasn't so much the pain, although that was still pretty bad - it was the violation. And because I was a good, cowed little patient, I laid there and took it without fighting back. To this day, that thought fills me with anger and shame. I want to go back in time and scream at the doctor, to demand that she stop - to kick and fight to make her stop.

I know it's wrong, but I haven't been to an OB-GYN since. I can't stand the thought of getting into that paper gown again, of letting a stranger near me again. I'm not sure how I'll ever be able to again.

When John was finally allowed through the sheet to see me, he asked the doctor in bewilderment for an explanation, since we were only there for a pap smear. The doctor seemed flustered, and started to argue we were there for the biopsy - and then that it was necessary, anyway, because I'd complained of period pain. So she either mixed up my paperwork or intentionally withheld information about the test beforehand. I've often wondered since which would be worse, and if it even matters at this point.

We later filed a report/complaint with the state medical board, but it was dismissed. I guess performing unnecessary tests without patient permission isn't a crime, no matter how traumatizing it is. So the doctor was never held accountable - although she abruptly left the practice not long after my biopsy. Sometimes I wonder if that was related.

I'm not really sure why I'm telling you guys all this, other than to just sort through my feelings and try to face the fear of my new doctor's appointment next Friday. I'm scared, but the pain's kept me awake and doubled-over for two days now, and I know it will be back next month, and the month after that, until I do something about it. John tells me to focus on the "after," when all this is over and it won't hurt anymore, and I'm trying. In the meantime, though, I'll have to take an emergency Xanax - which I hate - just to get through the office visit, and then another for the blood work and ultrasounds, because in addition to the biopsy I'll also be reliving my ER visit from five years ago, and the four torturous days in the hospital after that, and all the specialist's waiting rooms and the needle pricks and the scent of antiseptic and the fear of the unknown as one more doctor tells me he doesn't know what's wrong, but here, try these pills now.

Yeesh. I'm such a mess.

But, at least I'm a mess that has John.

I nearly went to that OB-GYN by myself, you know, the day of the ambush/biopsy. It was supposed to be just a routine yearly check-up, and I remember saying so to John. No big deal, I'll just drive myself. But he was home anyway and offered to take me. I can't even imagine how much worse it would have been without him there - if only because I never would have made it home on my own.

After that day John swore I would never see a doctor without him ever again. Yes, even the dentist. Even the chiropractor, who we see once or twice a month. And he doesn't wait in the waiting room, guys; I'm talking he sees the doctor with me. In the exam room. Office personnel will comment on it sometimes. Most think it's odd, a few huff and glare, and a few think it's sweet. I think it's necessary. And, with John there, maybe I can get through this.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I guess it's pretty obvious that this post was just for me and my own benefit, but maybe there's a point in here somewhere. You know, something like "Love conquers all," or "[some] doctors suck," or "we're all human and we're all scared sometimes, and sometimes that's ok." Maybe all of that.

And maybe, if you're scared too, we can talk in the comments and remember we're not so alone, you and I. 


[Update: I'm reading through comments as fast as I can with all these grateful tears in my eyes. Please be patient if you've commented - I'm stopping to respond to a few every now and then, so it might take a few extra minutes for them to be published. Also, I see now I was too harsh with my 'doctors suck' quip - I know there are good ones out there, and I appreciate everyone out there in the medical field who truly cares about their patients. So please, just ignore that bit. I'm a doofus.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Art Attack! 6/20/12

Like being ambushed by killer eye candy.

Katie N. spotted this fantastic Portal poster over on Etsy:

"I'm Different" by Ron Guyatt, $20

And Ron has lots of other video game and sci-fi posters available, too, including a gorgeous Fifth Element design and this BioShock one, each also for $20.
 It's like an old three-color movie poster! Love it.

Or, for some mini art you assemble yourself, how about this ADORABLE R2D2 papercraft?
I can't wait to make one for my office.

Download the template (for free!) at Gus Santome's blog.

And because we can't have R2 without his pal C3PO...

"Splatter Paint C3PO" by Arian Noveir.

Cool! You can see all of Arian's splatter Star Wars characters (and buy prints) over on his DeviantArt gallery. (A 12X18 is only about $20. Man, I love cheap geek art!) Via Nerd Approved

Thomas Zahler tweeted this pic of his sketch, "Tiny Toons as Super Heroes":

Ha! And I'm suddenly craving a Pinky & the Brain/Batman & Robin mash-up. Thom? Can you make this happen??

Speaking of Zahler, his comic Love and Capes is pretty rad - funny and original. I've only read the first issue so far, but happily you can read the whole series online at his site. Ahh, something to fill the void now that I'm all caught up on Girl Genius!

And finally, something a little different:

"Floating Waves," by Fabio Barboni

Barboni has lots of pretty futuristic girls like this in his gallery, and I'm digging the soft colors and hazy, dream-like images. I don't see any prints for sale, but you can browse the rest of his work on DeviantArt. (Do you know how much time I lose browsing DeviantArt? SO MUCH TIME. It's almost as bad as Pinterest. Heh.)

Seen any great geek art this week? Then link us up in the comments!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bubble Wrap Bracelet: Rainbow Shells!

I made a little more of that iridescent fused bubble wrap I mentioned in my snowflake earrings post, and here's what I've made with it so far:

From snowflakes to sea shells! 

This was largely an experiment to see how the rainbow cellophane would do sandwiched between the bubble wrap. As I mentioned before, the cellophane doesn't melt or fuse with the bubble wrap, so you have to make sure the outer layers of plastic are fused around the edges of the cellophane to seal it in.

That means you can't just make one big sheet and cut out the pieces you want. Instead you have to do this:

Here I've cut out rough squares of the cellophane, sandwiched them between two sheets of bubble wrap, and fused them together. After that I added two more layers of bubble wrap, for a total of four all together.

Next I carefully cut out each square, leaving a tiny edge around the cellophane pieces to hold the layers together:

If you don't leave that tiny edge, you run the risk of the cellophane separating from the wrap and your pieces peeling apart. (The bracelet at the top of the picture was just for size reference.)

Once my pieces were cut out, it was just a matter of punching small holes with a needle and adding O rings. Easy-peasy!

The iridescence varies depending on how the light hits it. Sometimes it's just pearly white, and others the colors really pop:

Like the inside of seashells, right?

Here's the clasp, which I had to kind of make up as I went along:

This design would be even better using oval O rings, if such a thing exists, or maybe heavy links from an old necklace. The rings are perfectly comfortable on, but it might look nice to have links that lay flatter on my wrist.

[Update: Turns out oval O rings *do* exist. Thanks, commenters!]

I hope I've continued to inspire you guys to try some of your own fused bubble wrap projects! Using this sandwiching technique, you could layer all kinds of things inside the bubble wrap: paper, glitter, stickers, etc - so get to experimenting! (And remember to send me pictures of the successes!)

Oh, and here's a sneak peek at why those purple flowers are on my table:

Needless to say, I'm working on something VERY girly. But I'm splitting my time between this and a craft that requires some kick-ass metal aging and LED-wiring, so it's all evening out in the end. ;) Stay tuned for those projects, coming soon!


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