Friday, August 31, 2018

This Could Be The Harry Potter Room To End All Harry Potter Rooms, So Let's Steal Their Ideas!

Epbot readers Britney and her husband Sean spent the last five months working on this Harry Potter bedroom, and you guys, I think it's paid off.

Hold on to your sorting hats, Potter heads.

Let's start with the view from the door:

Over the bed are floating candles and a custom painted night sky, complete with fiber optic lighting:

The painting is by their friend and local artist, Spencer Douglas.

I'm going to pan around the room, starting with this wall of wizard portraits.

I love how Britney & Sean made themed vignettes everywhere, like this Death Eater shelf. Sean made the Azkaban prison number sign himself, along with so much more - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Potions shelf:

They crafted all of these themselves, using printed labels:

On the wall there are even some of Delores Umbridge's ceramic kitten plates!


Here comes one of my favorite things in the whole room: the owlery!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August Art Roundup: Sleepy Badgers, Neverland Maps, & Kawaii Witches!

It's time to look at pretty art! Woot woot!

Here are my favorite finds this month:

Gowen Illustration has some of the most gorgeous animal pieces. Look at these sleepy sweeties:

This Hufflepuff needs that badger.

 Those are stickers, but she also has necklaces:

...including this cool double-sided dino:

...and of course prints!

Galaxy tiger!

Go check out Gowen's Etsy shop, Sushi Studios, to see the rest. You should also follow her on Instagram!


It's been a while since I featured You Found Jacob, and he's got some great new pieces:

These two are the only ones available in Jacob's Etsy shop, but follow him on Instagram for more pretties like these:

Saturday, August 25, 2018

New Renovation Video: Trim Painting Tips!

John and I are nearing the finish line on the big house renovation (woot woot!), so here comes our most requested tutorial yet: how to paint base molding next to carpet. 

Yes, it CAN be done! Without getting paint all over the carpet, even.

There are a few ways of tackling this, and the best one depends on the type/length of your carpet. In this video I'll show you three different methods - all of which we've used during our decade of painting professionally - so you can see each one in action and decide which will work best for you.

For a general guide, though: if you have a high shag carpet then the blade method is usually best. For low or Berber styles like we have here, tape's the way to go. And for medium length carpet, any of these three can work, provided you're skilled with a brush.

Oh right, guess I should include the video now, huh? Here ya go:

And finally, here are my three results again in EXTREME ZOOM, just to give you a closer look at what I'm talking about. (Ignore the wall cut-in, we're only looking at the carpet edge on these.)

Brush Only:

With Blade:

With Tape:

As I say in the video, it's a little strange that we have this extra quarter-round trim on our baseboards (long story), so odds are you don't have that, and will have an even easier time painting your trim than I did. All of these painting methods work exactly the same whether you have quarter round or not, though.

I hope this helps with your own painting projects, gang! As always, if you have any questions fire away in the comments, and John or I will do our best to answer. 

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The New & Improved Dragon Con Survival Guide For 2018!

It's that time again, gang! Dragon Con is barely a week away, and if you listen closely, you can actually hear the shrieks of panicked cosplayers everywhere. :D

Sadly I can't help you finish a costume faster, but I CAN help prepare you for everything else! So let's go over my yearly run-down on what Dragon Con newbies and veterans alike should know for 2018. (Plus, as always, some of my favorite cosplay shots from last year!) I love updating this post every year; gets me hyped to dive in to the madness again soon.

First, the basics:

What is it?

Dragon Con is an internationally known pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. It spans 4 days over Labor Day weekend, and attendance continues to mushroom. We were just told to expect 85,000 people for 2018, up from around 70K just two years ago. Yeah. Yowch.

Unlike most large conventions Dragon Con is NOT held in a convention center; it's held in 5 large "host hotels" and two shopping center buildings, all of which span several blocks in the downtown Atlanta area. Because the con is spread out over such a large area, it's easily the most confusing and potentially stressful event you'll ever attend. Don't worry, though, that's why I'm here!
Here's a helpful map from Reddit you may want to print out:
 You'll pick up your tickets at Registration in the Sheraton, where the green check mark is.

And one more map that shows parking options, if you need them:
The MARTA is a fantastic public transport that brings you right to the con, so if you're traveling in try to use that to save money. If you're like us and prefer to drive, though, try to park in the center cluster of garages and lots across the street from the Marriott. They'll cost about $30 per day, but are SUPER convenient. And since they're so expensive, there are always spots left!

 Quick Tip: DC doesn't sell tickets, they sell "memberships." On their website, there's no "buy" - it's "join." That can be confusing for first-timers, but rest assured it's the same thing. Right now tickets for all 4 days are $160 - but keep in mind for next year that if you pre-purchase you get steep discounts.

Now that you know where to park & get tickets, let's talk SURVIVAL.
 The Marriott lobby, where all the best costumes come out to play.

  Not to mention all the big groups!


  First things first:

- YOU WILL (probably) GET SICK.

This is the one everyone told me to emphasize the most last year, so consider it emphasized. Con Crud is terrifyingly real, and for most of us it's just a matter of delaying it as long as possible. Want to be among the lucky few who dodge it entirely? Then:

- Purell constantly
- Get enough sleep, eat your veggies, take vitamin C, etc.

- If possible, wear gloves & a mask. Trust me, you'll still blend in, even if you're not in costume. In fact, here I am in my steampunk style mask at Dragon Con, made just for this purpose:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Quick Craft: Hufflepuff Magic Sequin Pillow!

Ever since I showed you guys that magic House Crest pillow from SuperCon, I've been wondering if there was any way to craft something similar on the cheap.

So when I spotted this cute gold-and-black number over at Walmart, I snatched it up for some DIY experimentation:

These color-shifting sequin pillow are everywhere right now, and super cheap online if your local stores don't have them. If you're thinking Hogwarts House colors like I am, then here are some slipcovers I found over on Amazon for $7- $8 each, all from the same listing:

Not the best gold for Hufflepuff, but I love the color-shifting green for Slytherin. Plus I'm sure you can find other gold & black options; that's a common enough color combo.

So now all we really need is to add some magical customization, right? Maybe with a stencil and a spritz of spray paint?

Aw yeah. LET'S DO IT.

Since my pillow already had a heart on it, I sketched out a Hufflepuff H that would fit inside:

I drew this freehand when I couldn't find a printable version I liked. Feel free to download it for your own pillow.

I cut out the H with a craft blade, sprayed the back of the paper stencil with spray adhesive, and stuck it down. Then I taped the stencil edges and covered the rest of the pillow with plastic bags:


To get your letter placement right, it helps to place the letter cut-out on the pillow first, then put the stencil on top of the cut-out. This was a life-saver in getting my H centered inside the heart. 

Also, be sparing with the spray adhesive; it can gunk up your sequins. In fact, I'd love to hear your ideas for stick-down alternatives, since I had to do a lot of cleaning with alcohol later to get the stickiness off. :(

John used a fine mist of Rustoleum Metallic gold over the stencil. Spray with a light hand, so the sequins don't stick together. Paint obviously can't compete with sequins for shine, but the Rustoleum Metallics are the shiniest we've found (at least without getting into specialty stuff), and still look super pretty:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

For My 20th Anniversary I Got You Awkward Wedding Photos

John and I had no family here in Florida when we got married, and few friends, so we did everything for the wedding ourselves. EVERYTHING. I'm talking, John was cooking the food the morning of. We like to joke that we're glad we got married before we had any taste, because it was SO much cheaper that way, ha. We were broke community college kids, so fortunately my father told us he'd pay. Still, we were determined to spend as little of his money as possible, so after crunching the numbers 'til they squeaked, we told Dad we thought we could do it for $2,000. Dad sent us a check, and we got to work, planning the whole thing in just under three months.

Every night after work and school we'd convene at my apartment and make decorations, plan the menu, write invitations, schedule the hall and DJ, you know, all the things. We also went to pre-marital counseling. It was a hectic but blissful time, because honestly, we didn't care so much about the wedding - we just wanted to be married. So we giggled our way through practicing our first dance and hot-gluing fake roses to the centerpieces and going to the mall to buy my first real lipstick. I even showed John the thrift-store wedding dress I'd bought on a whim - a lace-covered poof straight out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding - and he didn't run away screaming. 

When I liked a veil in the mall that we couldn't afford, John snuck out to a local sewing shop, charmed his way into a pack of grandmothers, and got them to teach him how to make one himself. Which he did. He made my veil, you guys. I think it's the only thing I've kept, other than a few photos.

On the day of, John was bleary-eyed from prepping food all night, my hair looked goofy, not many people showed up, and during the reception the DJ started playing The Electric Slide.

 Even better,  nobody danced because 80% of the attendees were Baptist.

 Ironically, Dr. Cox here is doing the only approved Baptist Dance: the head bob. 
(Although that shoulder shimmy is HIGHLY SUSPECT.)

Still, you know what? When it was all over, John and I got to start our life together. Life, singular. Just us, climbing into that tacky lit-up limo, ready to tackle crappy days, career changes, and deciding what to eat for dinner, together.

Obviously I'd change a lot about our wedding now, but I have no regrets. It was our first DIY project, our first time working side-by-side - which obviously got us hooked. I'm glad we didn't put it all on credit cards and start our marriage saddled with debt. I'm glad neither of us cared too much when things went wrong, or had those Hollywood expectations for our "Big Day." It was a day. A wonderful, beginning-of-something-beautiful day, but still just a day.

A day twenty years ago this month.

John and I are going to spend our 20th anniversary in the car, driving to Atlanta for Dragon Con. We hope to have the big house renovation done before we go, so we'll be busting our butts 'til then to get everything finished. No big vacation, no fancy dinner, no party - because that's not us. It's not about the milestones, it's about the day-to-day. So I get to spend that day with just John, probably listening to an audio book, sharing snacks from the car cooler, talking, laughing, arguing, and being together.

And that's perfect.

Not because our marriage is perfect, not because every day is a Hallmark movie. We get grumpy and on each other's nerves, we snap, we get sarcastic, we make pointed remarks about whose turn it was to answer e-mail. But underneath it all, good and bad, is the rock solid knowledge that we're in this together, one team, forever and always.

Thanks for the ride, John, sweetie. Here's to a million miles more. 



 I went digging through a box of old photos to scan these in, just for you guys. Enjoy.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2018, Part 2!

Let's get back to my favorite finds from Tampa Bay Comic-Con!

Starting with a few video clips from my Instagram Story:

Waluigi's Piranha puppet is so fun, and I love how in character he was! (He's saying,"Check your watch, it's Waluigi Time!") The Fallout guy is Dead Exposure on IG; he and his dad make the most incredible power armors, definitely worth a follow. And the Falcon purse, well, it's just shiny. :D

Supergirl and Black Canary:

Here's the best mashup of the con: Tin Iron Man!

 (His heart has a light in it, but my flash washed it out.)

And Cowardly Thor!

:D :D :D

For my fellow Overwatch addicts, here comes gender-swapped Genji & Hanzo:

For the record, I haven't seen anyone cosplay the hamster yet. YET. :D

Two classic Disney villains:

More adorable kids - again, there were tons! - this time representing Kingdom Hearts:

Friday, August 10, 2018

URINE FOR IT NOW: Let's Replace A Toilet! (Also A Faucet)

If you'd told me a year ago I'd be filming myself replacing a toilet for this blog, I'd have given you a SUPER dirty look.


Here I go:

John is very proud of his intro, so at least watch the first 10 seconds for him. :D :D (Sound on.)

Of course I realize most of you don't NEED to replace a toilet right now, so for your BONUS DOUBLE FEATURE, here's how to replace a sink faucet:

These home repair vids are surprisingly draining (heyooooooo), and I'm looking forward to getting back to our geekier content (Potter party prep, anyone?), but it's still super satisfying to do so much on my own. I usually let John take over because he's faster & stronger, so not only am I proving to myself I CAN, I'm also learning to get past some of my body issues and camera phobia. Sure, my belly is roly-poly, but I'm LIFTING A GOL-DANG TOILET, dangit.

Plus I'm actually having fun, at least when John and I are goofing around and laughing through shots. Not so much when it's 11:30 at night and we're on Take #3 of inserting a fiddly faucet plunger designed by Satan himself. (Flames... on the side of my face...) (Granted, this is what we get for buying a $30 faucet... BUT STILL.) At least all the scratches I made are facing the back wall where you can't see them, ha.

We're up to trim and painting now, so next we'll film our most requested tutorial: how to paint baseboards next to carpet. I'm excited to get back in my wheelhouse with painting again!

On a completely unrelated note, yesterday John and I set the date and sent out invites for this year's Christmas Potter Party, and I'm so excited I can't see straight. This year I'm not keeping anything a secret, either; you guys are going to see every project and decoration as we make them. I'm even going to show you the theme and my idea list soon, so you can make suggestions and brainstorm with me.


Next up is Part 2 of my favorite cosplay from Tampa Comic-Con, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2018: My Favorite Cosplay!

Tampa Bay Comic-Con is always a great con: excellent panels, cosplay, and big bustling crowds. One standout difference from other conventions: there were lots and LOTS of families this year, so tons of little kids, mostly in adorable costumes. (I heard that kids under 12 got in free, that must be why.) It was fun seeing so many families cosplaying together, and of course little ones dressed as superheroes always make my heart melt:

John and I even went to a couple of panels this time, since I'm trying to take more breaks and keep the anxiety monster at bay. David Harbour (Sheriff Hopper on Stranger Things and the new Hellboy) was everything I hoped and more: funny, clever, and the perfect big-hearted Gryffindor. (I shared that vid on my IG Story, sorry if you missed it. :p) And of course any time you get a chance to see Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek) at a convention, GO. He's snarky, sarcastic, and utterly hilarious. My love for him is true - and not just because he once wore a Carrot Jockey necklace I made.

But enough talk, let's get to the rest of my favorite cosplay finds!

My very first photo of the con turned out to be one of the most colorful:

Starfire! She practically glowed in real life; that fuschia wig & orange body paint are gorgeous together.

 A classic Penguin and Joker:

 Joker is my friend Dana (follow him on IG!), who was sweet enough to let me and John flash him many, many times over the weekend. [WINK]

Ok really we were just playing with our lighting set up, but still.

Princess Buttercup & Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride:

 Usually I see Buttercup in her red dress, so it was lovely seeing her in blue!

Another difference at Tampa Comic-Con: so much steampunk!

 I haven't seen this many 'punks at a con in years, and there were some truly gorgeous contraptions:

 She's wearing the Da Vinci flying machine on her head!

The amazing Brenna Mazzoni as Hellgirl:

The last time I featured Brenna here (as a rockin' Hela) I found out she reads Epbot! And that I'd already been chatting with her on IG without realizing who she was! So to sum up: I'm an idiot, and you should follow Brenna on IG for the most incredible body art & cosplay. I mean, WOW.

Here's another gem you missed if you don't follow my Instagram Stories: