Friday, November 28, 2014

Bleak Friday?

Ok, everyone, Thanksgiving is officially over!



I spent two nights wiring up 8 boxes of twinkle lights to our already pre-lit tree. That's something like 1650 lights on a 6 foot tree! In my defense, John said he likes a lot of lights. YOU'RE WELCOME, SWEETIE.

For those of you braving Black Friday shopping today: godspeed. I think John and I will be hunkering down with our leftover Thanksgiving pie 'til Monday. (My family didn't like the chocolate pecan from Cracker Barrel. MORE FOR ME.)

I also woke up with a serious case of the monthly grumps today, so I'm sure I'm benefiting the world by staying in. [hiss boo humbug WHAT'S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN, JOHN]

Which reminds me: I must be the only person in America who wore a tightly laced corset for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Can't complain, of course; that thing has consistently made cramps a hundred times more manageable, and it was downright heavenly to lace into that morning. Ahhh.

Thanksgiving table. I made the floral runner from silk flowers I pulled off an old wreath.

Anyhoo, I'm self-medicating the grumps with a little online shopping, because aw yeah, retail therapy.

One of my favorite steampunk artists, Brian Kesinger, is offering 25% off everything in his Etsy shop with the coupon code HOLIDAY25.  I just grabbed the 2015 calendar, and I also highly recommend his Octopus books:

And because we all deserve Christmas stockings as geeky as we are, check out these handmade goodies from Kat of Geek Tree:

 The cost from $30 to $50, depending on complexity. And she takes commissions!

Kat's an Epbot reader, too, so I may be a LITTLE biased on which of her designs is best:

 It's mine! All MINE! MWUAH-HA-HAAA.


Kat actually made that for me last month as a gift, and she doesn't know I'm pitching her stuff here. But her Geek Tree FB page only has 12 likes! C'mon, now. I think we can do better than that. (And check her Etsy store for more designs.)

Oooh, and not only does Threadless have all its shirts at $12 with free shipping, there's even a $7 clearance section with some surprisingly good designs! A few favs:

 (I think they only have this one in Men's sizes, sadly. Boo.)


There's also 20% off everything at TeeFury, and ThinkGeek has plenty of big sales, but nothing in particular is calling my name. What about you guys? What's draining your bank account today? Share links in the comments, so we can all spread the wealth! (Or at least what's left of it. :D)


Time to announce this month's art roundup winner! And since giving stuff away makes me feel better, I'm picking three winners instead of just one this round. So, my winners are...

- Trude, who liked the We Are Groot
- Katy Jones, who liked Toothless
- Erin Kristine

Congrats, ladies, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses & choice of prize from the Pinterest art give-away board! (To be on the safe side, better send me your second choice of prize, too.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My First Visit To Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley!

Last Tuesday Florida had a single day of truly cold weather - we're talking, like, fifty degrees! - so John and I dropped everything and finally - FINALLY - went to Universal.

John's been to Hogsmeade once before, but embarrassingly enough I'd never been to either of the new Harry Potter areas. I've watched tons of walk-through videos online, clicked through every slideshow, listened to the stage shows, read all the ride reviews, drooled over the merchandise and menus, and generally fangirled over every detail. Yet, somehow, I never got the courage to go. I just didn't want to spend all that money to get in when I knew I couldn't go on any rides! So, I put it off.

Now that I'm working on overcoming my agoraphobia, though, I decided It Was Time. And to take the pressure off, John and I bought season passes - which were only $50 more than a 2-park day pass, anyway - so I won't feel so bad skipping the rides for now. 

We started with Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure, and as we walked towards the Hogwarts Express, with the castle looming so beautifully on the horizon, I realized to my horror that I was so stinking happy I was actually going to cry. ("NoooOOOooo!!") Yep. I'm THAT PERSON now, you guys. I'd built up this visit in my head so much that I was completely overwhelmed, and all I could do was stagger around wide-eyed and sniffling. Gah.

John and I both brought heavy cameras, but they hung around our necks, forgotten, for most of the day. There was just too much. I couldn't take it all in!

As luck would have it the park was practically deserted - at least by Universal standards - so I was able to stagger and sniffle in relative ease. We walked the castle queue - quickly, because urrrg enclosed spaces - and then wandered up and down the street, gawking. Lunch at the Three Broomsticks (rather lackluster, but the Pear cider was nice), a quick Frog Choir concert, and then we were off to Diagon Alley.

I'm not ready for the train yet, so we had to take the looooong way 'round. That means walking all the way out of Islands, over to Universal, and then to the very back of the park. Good exercise.

Diagon Alley was even more of a rush, since Universal really cranked the detail and atmosphere there up to 11. And I thought there was a lot to see in Hogsmeade! WOW.

I finally remembered I had a camera, though, since I think it's park policy that you HAVE to take a picture of the dragon:

We wandered, we shopped, we ate sea salt caramel ice cream (SO GOOD), John went on Gringotts (a 5 minute wait, if you can believe it!), and we stood in the street and giggled & clapped like little kids over the booming roar of the fire-breathing dragon. Late in the day we even went to Ollivanders, where we had an almost private show, with only 4 of us in the audience! (And I was so captivated I didn't even mind being "trapped" in the show room for those few minutes.)

Time zipped by, and since the park closed at 6 we ended with dinner at the Leaky Cauldron, which was WAY better than lunch. (Try the Toad-in-a-Hole. Trust me.) I also had my first official Butter Beer! It tasted like the homemade version some friends made once, but the cream was much thicker; positively buttery. And yes, GOOD. (I heard they're offering hot butter beer now! Next time, I'm totally trying that.)

After dinner we spent our last few minutes watching the dragon:

And clapping for his final roar:

Then we dashed around taking a few more photos in the growing dark. It's so lovely there with all the lights on; it's a shame the park wasn't open later. Most of my pics were terrible, but here are a few that turned out:

And my favorite:

This statue is amazing, and just as I got down on one knee for the photo the end-of-night fireworks started, bathing the whole street in red light. Next time I'd love to bring a tripod, for better focus - oooh, and maybe try some HDR? I can see spending ALL the time here, just taking pictures.

But as wonderful as the day was, the best part was this: for the first time in maybe two years, I went on a ride. And better yet, I didn't panic. Sure, it was just The Cat in the Hat, and sure, I experienced real, honest-to-goodness terror getting into that ridiculous little car - but I did it.

I almost didn't, to be honest. I got up to the loading dock and totally choked. But as I hesitated, thinking I couldn't do this, thinking I'd just try again next time, I had another, louder thought. I thought about how proud you guys would be of me. I thought about how proud *I* would be to tell you I did it. And then, dangit, I CLIMBED INTO THAT SILLY SEUSS CAR.

Ok, maybe my victories are kind of ridiculous. But at least they're mine.

And next time, I promise more pictures!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November Art Roundup: Nouveau Princesses, More Groot, Gizmo, Luna, & More!

Time for more great geek art!

A few weeks ago I found a whole sleeve of art I somehow completely forgot I purchased at Dragon Con, and I'm mortified I missed these in my DC art roundup. 0.O Still, my goof-up is your gain!

So... you're not tired of dancing Groot yet, are you? Because you're gonna love this one by Kendra Stout, aka Miss Beanpants:

I bought that one for the give-away board, but Kendra also has a fabulous full-grown Groot in her Guardians set:

Plus other goodies, like this Luna with a baby thestral:

... and this fantastic Wonder Grrl:

Watch her Facebook page for more, or go check out her Etsy shop, where prints start at just $5!

Next up, I'm digging these long skinny prints by Josh D::

Super fun, plus he donated Rapunzel for the board! Check Josh's site and store for more.

I've featured Josh's better half, Kate Carleton, here before, but LOOKIE:

"Disney Villains" 6 X16 print, $15

I'm such a sucker for the noses on her "Doodlez" style.

And Kate very sweetly donated this Doctor print for the board:

Kate has a few prints in her Etsy shop, and some cute shirt designs like this Toothless over on TeePublic:

She's in the process of revamping her website, so watch her Facebook page for more!

Also for the give-away board, I bought this DC exclusive poster print by Drew Blank:

 (I couldn't find it online, so please excuse the crappy cellphone pic.)

Drew's Hero Squares are too cute for words, and there are SO MANY to choose from!

 Most of his 8.5 inch prints are $5, and his bigger posters like this are just $10:

 Awesome Rocketeer/Fett mashup!

And the last of my lost Dragon Con purchases, which I'm going to need your help IDing:

This artist didn't have a card, so I think he wrote his name on a post-it for me... which I no longer have. HELP. Does anyone recognize either of these prints?

Update: Aha! Thanks, guys; these are by Drew Green. I don't see an online store, but hit the link to see more of his work on DeviantArt.

I love love LOVE the bright crisp colors - so much better in person - and fun graphic style. I was sorely tempted to keep them, even though I've never played Sonic the Hedgehog or seen Sailor Moon! (Though I'd like to!)

Moving on from Dragon Con...

Unfortunately you can't buy this squee-inducing BioShock: Infinite art, but, ah! SO GOOD:

"Library Tea Party" by DevianArt member Sivcova, aka Julie
Songbird is my favorite video game character ever, so seeing him have tea with little Elizabeth gives me all the feelz. Oh, and click to embiggen for all the amazing details! How many game-related easter eggs can YOU find?

Another we can't buy, since the prints are sold out, but I can't stop staring at this Totoro optical illusion by Guillaume Morellec:

 So clever!

I stumbled across a 1984 themed art show online, and fell for all the happy colors in this one by Carlos Lerma:

Only $35? I'm amazed there are any left!

And because we can never - NEVER - get enough art nouveau Disney Princesses, check out these beauties by Hannah Alexander of Never Bird Designs:

You can get the entire set of twelve 8X12 prints for about $65, or your choice of 3 for $25, at Hannah's Etsy shop.

And while you're there, check out her watercolors of Ariel & Merida!

 Just stunning. 

(If you're quick, you can snag the original painting of Merida for about $73!)

And speaking of originals, how about this ink-on-wood Alice in Wonderland by Sze Jones?

 The original is $380 here, but I don't see any prints available. (Boo!) However, over on Sze's website I saw she made the same design for the cartoon version, and it's really cool to contrast the two!

 Again, I sadly see no prints, but check Sze's site for more of her work!

K, I think that does it for this month, guys! As always, comment below for your chance to win your choice of free art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board. I'll ship anywhere, so internationals are welcome, and I'll announce the randomly selected winner in a few days.

Good luck, and happy commenting!

UPDATE: The give-away has ended, and my 3 winners are:

- Trude
- Katy Jones
- Erin Kristine

Congrats, ladies, & please e-mail me your mailing addresses & choice of prize!