Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Sorry I waited forever to do this, gang, but now that I've finishing taking it out again for MegaCon, let me show you how John and I fashioned our mind-bending illusion cosplay of a Jawa kidnapping BB-8!

First, a refresher on what it looks like:

...and how it moves:

The real joy of this cosplay is that most folks can't figure out where I am in the costume. I can hear everything perfectly in there, so listening to all the theories - the most common being I'm an actual robot - is my favorite part.

Now let me show you how it works.

The easiest - and funniest - way to do this is to pop open the Velcro seam between the robe and bag, then look at the rig from the side:

Here's another look, without me in it:
The wooden post is where my body and legs go, and the PVC arm holding up the Jawa is around my waist. My head is almost entirely inside BB's body, with just my eyes peeking out over the edge.

Now let me walk you through the building of the rig, so you can use this setup for your own cosplays!

First, get yourself a hiking backpack with an aluminum frame and waist strap:

I found this used one on Ebay for $30.

Discard everything except the metal frame and straps.

Next it helps to construct a rudimentary stand/mannequin. John put ours together using 2X4s, making sure the T-bar at the top was exactly my shoulder height:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Star Wars Celebration 2017: My Favorite Cosplay Fashions!

I took a little break there from my Celebration coverage, but I'm back, peeps, with the LAST ONE!

When you go to a lot of conventions, you'll find that the Big Costume Day is always Saturday, while Sunday is a more laid-back, final-stretch vibe. Since Celebration was 4 days long, I found folks were especially dismissive of Sunday, claiming it'd be a ghost town with little-to-no costumes.


In fact, I was blown away by some of the most creative closet cosplays, character dresses, and fun fashions the fans brought out.

Glam C-3PO!

True, everything was a little more comfortable and easy to get around in - but that was the beauty of it!

This was the day Star Wars fans really let their hair down, and even got a little silly:


A Twi'lek in a kimono? Why not?

There was a whole dapper group running around, with ruffles, sequins, and feathers galore:

All those colors under her skirt! SO GOOD.

I love how little Lando's mom dressed to match:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Toddler Grandma Style" Is Speaking to My SOUL

I've never really nailed down a personal sense of style - such as it is - before. I mean, I've shown you guys how much I adore the Mori Girl look, with it's frilly layers and comfy cottons, and you might remember my everyday corset looks from a few years back, for when my menstrual pain hits - but then I also love rainbow glitter sneakers and giant cat head purses and retro holographic Disney tees. You know, as one does.

WELL, this week I discovered my stylistic soul mate, as described by Cynara Geissler in her must-read article for The Establishment:


How cute is this?? And this, my friends, is Toddler Grandma Style.

Billing it as "The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free," Cynara describes a style that goes light years beyond pairing prints or deciding if you're a Spring or an Autumn. She gets right to the heart of fashion: whether or not what you're wearing makes you happy - and then proceeds to question everything we know about "dressing like a grownup."

 "Our culture has absorbed and perpetuated the mind-numbingly dull idea that the best way to signal that you are a smart adult woman is to don suit jackets, favor neutrals, and wear heels."

So why Toddler Grandma Style?

"Because toddlers and elderly women are seen as devoid of any sex appeal, they stand outside the male gaze and as such get to ignore the rather limiting “rules” set out for women (in culture, and by ourselves) when it comes to personal presentation.

"Toddler Grandma Style has a message: Boys, this isn’t about you.

I can't stress enough how much I want - nay, NEED - you to go read the whole article (I'll link it again at the end), because it is in-your-face joy, and drops some serious, perspective-shifting wisdom at the same time. 

Also, I see a fair amount of outfit selfies over on Fans of Epbot, and I've gotta say: I think a lot of you are already on this style bandwagon. We just didn't have a name for it before. I can't help but wonder if we geeks are more likely to dress for ourselves, just because we're already used to liking things society considers childish or uncool.

Now, I dress a little Toddler Grandma sometimes already, but I was still curious what John would think of all this. After all, he's a guy who still likes to see my hair down and my boobs up, if you will, from time to time. So I read him all the bits about patriarchy and challenging societal norms, then showed him some of Cynara's awesome outfits.
John's response?

"That is awesome." 

 And, "Ooh, you'd look great in that."

I don't mention this because I think you need anyone's approval to wear what you love. I mention it because while this style isn't about "attracting the male gaze," it is about confidence and daring and being unapologetically YOU. And that is attractive.

John doesn't find me any less sexy because my shoes light up. He likes my bright colors and flouncy skirts. More than that, I think he likes how happy I am wearing them.

OK, enough of my cheerleading. Go read Cynara's article and fashion tips. (Plus she has more outfit photos!) Then, if you're feeling ambitious, head over to the Epbot FB page and show me your best Toddler Grandma style. I think I'm going to be shopping a little differently from now on, and I could use more inspiration!


Now let's announce some Art Winners!

The winner of the Flower Robot is Panthera
The winner of Dapper Harley & Joker is Amanda (of NerdHuffing)
And my Wild Card winner is Liz Jopson!

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Baby Groot Has That [SPOILER] That Made You Howl In The Movie

It all started when John gave me the Walmart exclusive baby Groot for my birthday:

He's life-sized, and like most toys, has some great detail that the paint job doesn't quite show off. So I set out to "spruce" him up a little. (More details on that in a sec.) Then I started brainstorming ways to display him, and what kind of accessories/props it might be fun to make.

At first I thought of the detonator, of course, but Groot isn't wearing the Ravager jumpsuit during that scene:

Plus it's already been done before.

My next idea made John laugh quite a lot, so we immediately dropped what we were doing (it was just work, no biggie) and spent the next hour making the Ultimate Baby Groot Accessory.

This is a mild spoiler, but more importantly, will make ZERO SENSE if you haven't seen Guardians 2. (Which you really should. Didn't you see my review?)


Here 'tis:

Iiiiit's a big toe.

Uh, thanks, Groot. Let us never speak of this again.

I'm actually darned proud of how that toe turned out, peeps. You know, considering it's my first time painting one.

And I hope you can tell Groot is more detailed, too, with actual moss on his head, all-over aging, and even repainted eyes!

Here, let me walk you through it all (yes, including the toe), so you can make your own!

I started with the eyes, using cheap craft paint right on top of the existing paint job. I re-positioned the pupils and added some orange color underneath:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May Art Roundup: Princess Pinups, Rainbows Leia, & Starry Night Sauron

Happy weekend, fellow geeks!

Let's look at new geek art.

I like how Mariana Avila turns her Disney couples into heart shapes:

Such a cute series - and her style is right out of a story book!

Then she put the Star Wars ladies to "WERK" with a little Hamilton sass:

Aw yeah! And there is SO MUCH MORE, so head to Avila's RedBubble store to see the rest.


This was a bittersweet moment: just as I find the gloriously rainbow-licious art of Lisa-Marie Melin, she closes her Etsy shop! Noooo!

You can still follow Melin on Instagram, though, so hopefully she'll keep posting there - and maybe re-open her Etsy shop? Fingers crossed!

 Here's Melin's Etsy shop, btw (currently on vacation), so cross your fingers with me and watch that space!


Ashleigh Beevers' "Sweetheart Pinups" are just the right mix of flirty and FUN:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quick Craft: Retro Epcot Holographic Tee

You might remember seeing something shiny on my Instagram a few weeks back:

And you hardcore Dizgeeks might even recognize it! If not, I'll give you a hint:

And now that I've only confused most of your further... those are the old Epcot symbols used for the different areas of the park back in the day. The one I used was for the Imagination area, where the ride with Dreamfinder and Figment used to be. (And technically still is, if you acknowledge the current iteration of Journey Into Imagination. :D)

As a happy coincidence, that's also the easiest symbol to cut into a template. SCORE.

I decided to make a holographic t-shirt for Dapper Day, since I didn't plan on being all that dapper. Instead, I went for a retro Epcot vibe with metallic silver sneakers, a metallic silver skirt, and this bad boy:

You definitely couldn't lose me in the crowd.

This is a super easy quick craft, but I do have a few tips to make it easier. And keep in mind, you can make ANY shape out of this holographic film, so start brainstorming now!

First, you'll need these metallic iron-on sheets from the craft store:

John found ours at JoAnn's, and with their coupon got the whole pack for less than $10. (They also come in individual sheets, but I wanted the rainbow holo which only came in the 4-pack.)

You'll also need a blank shirt/skirt/bag to iron on to, and of course an iron.

First find and print out the symbol you want:

I found a 6-inch square to be a good size for my shirt, if that helps.

Cut it out to form a template, then flip the template over and tape it to the back side of the foil:
The back side is the one with the glue texture.

Now trace that with a regular ball-point pen:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jen's Gems: Disney History, Steampunk Theaters, and Magic Tissue Flowers

My favorite internet finds from last week:

You know how crazy I am for steampunk decor, so imagine my Kermit flails when Inside the Magic featured this 20,000 Leagues-themed home theater:


Velvet couches, rivets galore, and even three custom aquariums outside the portholes for the ultimate under-water feel!


Then the flatscreen is hidden inside a stunning pipe organ:

Check out Michael's article for more photos and details!


Here's some crafty sorcery for you - be sure to watch 'til the end!
via the Needleful FB page

Anyone else about to run out and buy a bunch of tissue paper now? (Although the comments have a few pictures of some spectacularly hilarious fails, so... )


Here's a long read for you Dizgeeks and/or Universal fans: How "Disney Accidentally Designed, Then Destroyed Universal's Best Land Ever." It's extremely long for a web article, but if you've got the time and don't mind skimming a little, this is fascinating and well worth the click. Even I didn't know this backstory - or about the fire-breathing dragon that used to be in Animal Kingdom! Plus there are great nuggets about Wizarding World and some gorgeous concept art.

If you're fascinated by theme park history, too, don't miss this one. Go read the full article over on Theme Park Tourist.

And one more not-quite-as-long read: an inspiring feature on 18-year-old Kendalyn Johnson, who "deals with" her Asperger's through incredible cosplay builds.

Even if you're not into cosplay, this is a beautiful glimpse into the life of someone winning battles her own way, and finding creative outlets for life's frustrations. Inspiring and illuminating all at once.

Kendalyn was actually at Star Wars Celebration last month, so I'm bummed I didn't see her! I can only imagine how hard it'd be to stay out very long in this Tauntaun cosplay, though:
Go read all about this build and Kendalyn's story (I especially love how she collaborates with her mom) here on the Kokomo Tribune.


And finally, your dose of 'dorable for the week:

It just keeps. getting. cuter. Squee!

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: My Spoiler-Free Review

When you're on the internet as much as I am you learn to see movies earlier to avoid spoilers. Still, I can't say I was TOO excited about Guardians Of The Galaxy 2. I did like the first one, but since I only saw it AFTER all the hype from reviews, I came away a little non-plussed. I mean, it was good, but it wasn't face-meltingly awesome, you know?

So let me start by saying this: Guardians 2 is better than the first one. In fact, my knee-jerk reaction is to say it's way, WAY better, but that could be those low expectations talking. I also haven't read a single review yet, so maybe after everyone points out all the bad stuff I'll feel differently. Heh.

For now, though, here are my initial, spoiler-free thoughts on why I think you'll like it:

 - Possibly the most entertaining opening sequence ever

Seriously, I watched those opening credits laughing and gasping and generally whooping it up. Perfect blend of action, humor, and a lot of things happening at once, so you immediately want to see it again.

- A much-needed dose of heart

Even avoiding reviews, I've seen some ominous headlines and tweets about "too much emotion" in Guardians 2. After being burned so badly with Rogue One, I literally considered leaving the theater 3/4 of the way through, dreading what was to come.

Happily, my fears were unfounded.

Yes, G2 absolutely packs more of a punch to the feelz, but given that the first one had the emotional complexity of a cereal box, that's not a high bar to beat. Plus, Guardians *needed* these emotions. They are integral to a (rather beautiful) story arc, not tacked-on as a seeming afterthought, or for no other reason than to make us feel bad. These had purpose and meaning. Rocket, Gamora, Drax, and of course Starlord - they all reveal some private pains, and trust me, you're gonna love them more for it.

To get a better perspective, John and I came home from the movie and immediately watched the first Guardians again. Nope, I didn't imagine it: Guardians 2 is better. In huge part, I think, due to that added depth to the characters.

- But it's still hysterical

So funny. 'Nuff said.

- And baby Groot!

 So cute. 'Nuff said.

- Love beyond the romantic

Guardians was already about friendship and forming your own family, but G2 takes those themes further, and does it well. It's always refreshing to see something beyond sex on screen, so kudos to the writers for resisting some of the obvious romantic angles (arguably moreso than the first), and focusing instead on themes of family, friendship, and loyalty.

I don't have much to offer by way of negatives, though I could definitely see an argument being made for better, stronger female characters. While Gamora still kicks butt and has a significant role, she's just not... likeable? Relatable? Maybe it's just me. I'm glad to see more of Nebula this time, though, and how they developed her and Gamora's relationship.

There's also a quick scene in an android brothel that deserves a little side-eye, since it was only lady androids, no males. I can't believe I'm about to type this, but c'mon, Guardians. Would a token android gigolo have killed you? AI did it!

(Quick, someone name their band Token Android Gigolo. I need that t-shirt.)

And on that ridiculous note: happy weekend, everyone!

UPDATE: Dreams do come true, y'all:

By Missy Meyer Design, who's a dear friend. And since several of you have asked, she's made this available on both Red Bubble and Zazzle. Be warned: if you wear one around me, you WILL see me freak out. :D

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Whole-Hearted Fangirling: Thoughts, Tips, And A Little Rambling

Growing up, I was one of those kids that felt things deep down, who loved too quickly, who jumped in heart-first. Everything was important and dramatic and I just needed people to know how I felt, you know? Not everyone, of course, not even most people - just the ones I cared about. The people who mattered. The people who sometimes didn't realize how much this quiet kid in the background hung on their every word, or how much some small kindness had meant to her. Teachers, camp counselors, community leaders, even radio hosts; I had a lot of great role models in my life, and I loved them all.

At the same time I was also the quiet one. The one who desperately - desperately - wanted to grow up. The one who hung out with the mom during sleepovers, who sat with the adults and listened while they debated politics or religion. The careful one, the easily embarrassed one, terrified of being branded "silly" or immature.

So I would lock myself in my room, and I would write. I wrote journals, and I wrote letters. So many letters. I wrote to people who inspired me, to people I cared about, and to people I wanted to care about me. Fan mail, basically. Some to people I knew, others to celebrities who wrote or sang or said things I liked. I wrote to thank them, to tell them how amazing they were. I was a budding fangirl, eager, excited, and looking for heroes.

I remember this one letter, I must have written and re-written it - by hand - half a dozen times. Did I sound OK? Was it too much? Would they laugh? Ah, agonies. But I couldn't stop writing. I couldn't stop reaching out. I was addicted to telling people how much I cared.

Sometimes - many times, really - my letters received amazing responses. I acquired some pretty cool pen pals. Other times I got a teary-eyed hug, or a stammered thanks from the crotchety old guy at church with the beautiful voice. Sometimes there was nothing, sometimes there was too much. Sometimes I was misinterpreted, and I learned a few hard lessons about expressing admiration as a teenage girl.

I stopped writing fan letters after that. Which was good. I had a lot to learn, and a long way to go in both growing up and growing wiser.

Today I'm so much more self-assured than that terrified teen. I'm OK with being silly now. Heck, I even encourage it. I know and like who I am, and I don't need validation from my role models like I did then. I still want it, of course, but I don't need it. And you know what the best part is? The more confident I am in who I am, the more comfortable I am fangirling again. I'm freer complimenting people, especially strangers. If I like something someone did online, I comment and tell them so. When I take cosplay photos I've been known to gush. If I like your art or your shoes or that sarcastic thing you just said, odds are I'm going to tell you. And while I've always been on the reserved side, lately I've even found myself telling my friends I love them. That's right, I bust out the L word. I tell them I miss them if it's been a while, that I want to spend time together. I fangirl. I put myself out there.

I'll be honest, it's still scary sometimes. Some of my friends have been a little taken aback. Some don't say they love me back, and it's a little awkward, but then I have to laugh because that's totally OK. I just want them to know, you know? I want all the people I care about to know. After all these years, I want to fangirl whole-heartedly again.

Today I opened the latest batch of fan mail from our PO Box. There were letters and thank you cards and hand-drawn pictures from little ones. About halfway through the small stack I picked up this one envelope, and I was struck with this vivid, almost visceral memory of the time I wrote and rewrote that one fan letter, all those years ago. Inside this card there were words a lot like the ones I used to write, carefully inscribed in a handmade card this person knew I would love, decorated in my favorite colors. Everything about it spoke of care and consideration... and hope. Hope that this sounded OK. Hope that it wasn't too much. Hope that I wouldn't laugh or think it silly, but would somehow understand.

So from one fan to another: I do. I get it. And I'm humbled and lifted up and forever grateful for the words you trust me with. Whether it's a quick "thanks" or three pages of soul-spilling and secrets, I want you to know - all of you - that your words have unimaginable power. So be careful with them, and use them wisely, but use them. Write it, say it, text it, paint it in a picture. Tell people they matter. Tell them you appreciate that thing no one else noticed. Go ahead and fangirl a little. Get comfortable being unabashedly enthusiastic. It may feel silly at first, but I promise you - I promise you - people are starving for your approval. Starving for a word of validation. Starving for the encouragement they need to get through another day, another hour.

We're geeks, you and I. We're fangirls and fanboys. We're passionate and a little obsessive and gosh darn it, we care about things and we just want people to know.

So go tell them.


Monday, May 8, 2017

WDW's Spring Dapper Day 2017, Part 2

Time for Part 2 of my favorite finds and fashions from last month's Dapper Day!
 (Did you miss Part 1? Go see!)

This was the first time we had a two-day event for Dapper Day (or two and a half days, if you count the Friday night get-together at Disney Springs), and I think it was too much for folks to do both. Granted, Epcot is a lot bigger than the Kingdom, but it still felt like there were a lot less dappers there for Day 2. I suspect many people threw in the dapper towel after a full day of sweating and sunburns.

All that to say, this batch will be a mix of both Magic Kingdom and Epcot photos. :)

Starting with some pretty Princess Flappers!

 Possibly Merida on the far left? Then Belle, Snow, and Ariel.

This was as unexpected as it was adorable: Dapper Wendy, but not THAT Wendy...

...THIS Wendy. Ha! I almost wish she'd had a hamburger purse.

Speaking of purses, this Tinkerbell's is shaped like a spool of thread!

I go nuts for details like this.

My friend Steph had to help me ID this one: who remembers Powerline from A Goofy Movie?


Speaking of my friend Steph, here she is rockin' some veggies in her Kitchen Kabaret 'bound:

She has a tomato purse and an eggplant & lettuce fascinator she made herself!
(Which of course doesn't show here, ha! Oops.)

 What do you think: octopus skirt or flamingo suit with matching flamingo tie?


(The lady is laughing because after I said I liked her ears, John quipped "Not the Mickey ones, your ACTUAL ears. She's weird like that.")

This fabulous Cruella gave me the best starlet sashay when I asked for her picture. Like, the glamour snapped ON, y'all: