Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My Two Worlds Collide: EPBOT WRECKS

If you follow along with my Stories then you know I had a Big Bad panic attack last Sunday - the kind I mercifully only get once or twice a year - and ever since I've been laid out by my first Multi-Day Migraine.

Lemme first say to all of you who deal with these monsters on a regular basis:

Godspeed. How do you do this.

As rough as the last few weeks have been, though - zigzagging through hormone swings and depression and now into panic and pain - it's OK. I'm actually OK. I see brighter skies ahead. I've been resting up and being extra lazy/gentle with myself, trying to be patient as my body works out all the random adrenaline shakes and tears and need for more sleep, all while binging Critical Role, reading actual books, and avoiding looking at screens as much as possible.

The light sensitivity seems the most cruel, of course, since I live my life looking at screens. So the other night as I was propped up in bed with an ice pack on my eyes,  John started describing some absolutely hysterical photos he'd just found on Facebook. Soon we were both cackling, and even though I hadn't actually SEEN any of them yet, I asked him to get permission to share them here with you guys.

So without further ado, allow me to present one of the FOE Scavenger Hunt Challenges. (As narrated by John, because I'm already exceeding my screen time for today, ow.)

Uhh, hi. This is john (thoJ) here. I've never written anything on Epbot before. I'm scared.

Maybe we should just start. The FOE Scavenger Hunt is another fan-run Facebook group, and there are a lot of these photos, so I'll try to give you a good variety.

 First one of my favorites, the Icing Bracelet:
I think even her ring is icing, so funny.

Several people used Jen's Flip Flop Tutorial.
Some members put their team logo in the picture collage.
Ya know.
If you're wondering why there's a Mr. T with a beak.

I love that Dominique even managed to make her "wreck" lovely:

I was happy to see a few Melted Crayon Art entries:
Let's hope that's crayon, anyway.

I was laughing so hard trying to explain this to Jen:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

How I Made My First Chair Slipcovers - With No Pattern!

Here's an old party project I forgot to share last December: chair slipcovers! In fact this was one of my first party projects, from those early days when I had the luxury of time and endless optimism convincing me I could, in fact, DO ALL THE THINGS.

I decided to cover these teal chairs in a gold tapestry fabric (harvested from a thrift store duvet), to better match the 'Puff Common Room aesthetic:

 Much as it pained me to cover them, since these lovelies are my favorite place to sit in the whole house. Remember how plain they were before we added the nail heads & gold feet?

You may recall I am NOT a sewist - as evidenced by the fact that I kept saying I wasn't a "sewer"  until someone took mercy on me in the comments, ha. Still, I'd watched a ton of tutorials on foam armor making over on Youtube, and figured the principles were basically the same. 

And get this, it actually worked! So let me walk you through the process.

First cover your chair in craft/butcher paper, taping all the seams with masking tape:

I used large-headed pins to help hold the paper in place while I added the tape. Don't tape the paper TO the chair, though, or you won't be able to slide it off later.

We have a big 3 foot roll of that paper in the garage, btw, and it is endlessly useful for pattern making, tracing projections, and to cover large work surfaces (like tables) while you're painting. Highly recommended.We found ours at a specialty paint store, but Amazon has the same stuff for $30.

Use the tape to bend the paper to fit the chair like a glove.

This top curve was tricky, to say the least.

When you're done, use a marker to draw on the paper where you want your seams to go. Ideally the seams will be at right angles, or wherever the flat planes of the chair change direction, if that makes sense. I wasn't great at this part, and worse, I forgot to take a picture. So try to do better than I did.

Next slide the whole paper cover off, and cut it apart on your drawn-on seam lines. Make sure all of your new pattern pieces lay flat. If they don't, divide them into smaller pieces that will lay flat - or cut in small darts.

You can see my top curve there was kind of a mess. Since the top of my chairs are fat and rounded, I cut an extra top piece off that curve in the pattern paper, which became an extra strip of fabric for the chair's top edge. You'll see what I mean soon.

Transfer your paper pattern to the fabric, making sure the fabric pattern is all facing the same direction, then add a seam allowance before cutting. Don't forget the seam allowance. And don't make the seam allowance too big like I did, or you'll get a sloppy slipcover.

Next I used a $3 thrifted sheet to test out the pattern, but this is optional:

Here it is all pinned, complete with what appears to be TWO cats underneath. ::waves:: Hi, girls.

Now, I'll be honest: since I still don't know how to adjust patterns to make them fit better (my brain refuses to work in 3D) this step didn't help me at all. I felt like I did twice the work for no reason, and wish I'd just skipped ahead to using the real fabric. I suppose the test fabric does show if the pattern fits... but if you did what I did with the paper template & then added a seam allowance, there's no way it WON'T fit, right?

Anyhoo, while we all ponder my dubious credibility as a sewing instructor, here's the real deal going on:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Borrowed Patronuses & A Critical Hit

My duderuses with uteruses, remember when PMS meant you just got a little crabby and wanted chocolate?  

Ahhh, those were the days. I'm still trying to figure out how hormones can cause everything from nightmares to tooth aches, like my whole body sets itself to Self Destruct.


So even though I'm pretty good at sleeping sitting up from all the reflux, and have a truckload of doctor-prescribed pills and potions that supposedly help, I've been a useless lump most of the last week.

 Suki using her sleeping sister's head as a pillow understands.

Plus, never fails: right around day 3, when I'm lying on the couch bone-tired and aching everywhere, in come the dementers to remind me just HOW useless I am. And ugly. And a bad friend and daughter and wife. You know the spiel.

I like to think I'm better equipped for my monsters these days, though. Or at least, I know where I can gear up.

Props to our favorite Blogess for the hashtag.

If you've ever spiraled before then you know what it's like to be teetering on that edge. And if you've spiraled often enough, you eventually learn to recognize your tipping point: the place where things are about to go DOWN if you don't do something. The one thing I've found that works to catch myself? Sweet and silly distractions, and lots of 'em.

 ...with a sprinkling of watching John pet the cats.

I got a bunch of great recommendations from you over on IG, which were roughly 70% cute animal accounts. I had no idea there were this many cute furballs on Instagram, and I'm definitely OK with it.

Most of you didn't get to see these, so here are a few of my favorites:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The World's Most Unfortunately Timed Aladdin Shirt

I forgot to post this last week, but the new Aladdin trailer dropping today reminded me to share the giggle: I found something great at Disney's Character Warehouse, the big off-property clearance outlet. It's where all the out-of-date or overstock merchandise goes, along with anything being cleared from the parks, like all the toy guns last year when they banned them. Everything at the warehouse is 60% off or more, so John and I go pretty often to browse.

Anyhoo, just over a week ago, I found a bunch of racks there of this shirt. Anyone else see the issue?

Ohhhh BURN

I'm imagining the mad scramble to get these out of the parks while the whole world was blowing up over Will Smith painted blue, and it's making me laugh a little too much. Someone really didn't think that one through. (That, or someone in inventory was staging a subtle protest? Ha!)

Speaking of the new trailer, as of this morning John and I are officially a House Divided over the new Aladdin. John's onboard the CGI flying carpet, I'm over here sputtering about Boy Band Jafar who sounds like he sings tenor. What the actual heck. Jafar is supposed to OLD! And an evil hypnotist with a deep, villainous voice! Eh! Eh! ::flails::

In case you haven't seen it yet:

I'm pretty possessive of Aladdin, though; that's MY Disney movie. I saw it in the theater on my first date ever, then my friend Chris and I memorized the entire script and quoted it at each other religiously for the next many, many years. (Heck, we STILL do when we see each other.)

I will say the last few songs look great, and make me wish they were releasing a bunch of music videos instead of a full movie. Buuut after seeing the way John went starry-eyed over the last minute of the trailer, I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing it in the theater, no matter how much side-eye I throw his way, ha. 

Getting back to the Genie shirts: no, I didn't buy one. I bought this one, because it was cheaper:

The design is embroidered, and good news: it fit! Weirdly the neck was the only thing that's a little snug.

Here's one more clearanced shirt someone didn't think through:

I watched 3 people in a row read this shirt, pause, look confused, and then go "OHHH!" when I explained it to them. Which is a shame, because the design is awesome.

[UPDATE: Sorry, peeps, didn't mean to leave you hanging! Pinocchio's nose is long because he's lying; he IS there for churros.)

And finally, since I'm sharing random fun photos from the Outlet, check out this transforming Mulan purse!

So clever! And sparkly. GO GO SPARKLY BUNS.

Right, time for you to weigh in, Dizgeeks: who's flying with John to a whole new world, and who's side-eyeing from the sidelines with me?

And who's being all reasonable by waiting to see how the movie actually is before passing judgment? (C'mon, now, where's the fun in that?! :p)

Sunday, March 10, 2019


I've been thinking about Lent lately, or rather - before you run away screaming -  the practice of giving up something for a while to help you reflect and focus and feel more grateful for the things you have.

Forgive me if I've butchered the actual meaning of Lent there; I didn't grow up celebrating it (if "celebrating" is even the right word), and most of my basis of reference comes from watching friends who did. I remember kids in school giving up chocolate for Lent, but that came across as more of a duty of self-sacrifice - something they could brag/complain about, but not much else.

Then when I was in my late teens, my friend Kathy gave up Star Trek for Lent. This completely blew my mind: you could do that? And why? She told me she used the time she would otherwise be watching the show to meditate and study, which again, might not be exactly "right" for Lent, but at least it opened my eyes more to the concept.

This week I've seen friends posting a couple of different Lent strategies - some religious, some not - and I like that they're making me think. So far my favorite is the one that proposes giving up one thing from your house to the thrift store for each of the 40 days. But then, I'm a devoted purger year-round, so I'm not sure that's much of a challenge. 

I've seen this one going around on Facebook, and it's got me a little riled. Sorry for the yucky image quality:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Melted Crayon Art 2.0 (AKA, Hot Wax & Disney: TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!)

After the half-success of my rainbow hearts, I really wanted a win: something easy and pretty and fun, where even a "fail" looked good. 

I've also been loving a lot of alcohol ink art lately, and wanted to see if I could get a similar look on the cheap, without using inks.

And here it is!


I know I say a lot of my crafts are fun to do, but this one is really fun. And I love the 3D effect when you look at it from an angle:

Sorry about the glare, but see the inner shadow in the castle turrets?

Now you can watch me make it, because John and I finally made a new craft video, woot woot!


Please note I accidentally lie to you right off the bat: you really can't do this craft with only a candle lighter - not unless you're working on a very hot day, or manage to heat the glass slightly. So definitely have a heat gun handy (like this $16 one on Amazon) or, if you're feeling brave, give it a go with a hair dryer. (Just watch out for flying wax! Ha!)

If you don't feel like watching me ramble on for 12 minutes, I recommend at least watching the fun back-light reveal at the ten minute mark; I didn't get any photos of that, and it is soooo pretty. Plus, think of the possibilities!

My next idea is to use a TARDIS silhouette, then spray the glass with speckles of white paint first (to look like stars) before using all galaxy colors on top. That way when you flip it the "stars" are on top.

You could also do this with a Princess Aurora silhouette, then use a bunch of shades of pinks and blues melting into each other around her.

What else? Hit me with your ideas in the comments! And as always, I'd love to see if you make your own, so remember to tag me on IG or share on Facebook. :)


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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tanks(?!), Crafts, Cake, & Epcot

It's been a busy week here at the Yates house, mostly in good ways.

I discovered I want to melt crayons on ALL THE THINGS, so we invited our friends Dennis & Bonnie over to make some crafty messes.

 Just playing around; we're still experimenting! That's Dennis' badger silhouette on the right.

I've mentioned this before, but Craft Nights with friends are pretty much the best things ever. I've spent my whole life being jealous of folks with lots of local friends who have regular craft or game nights, somehow never realizing I could just ask my friends to come over to craft or play games. Whaaaaat. MADNESS!

So yeah, I'm working on breaking out of the "dinner date" bubble, and open to group craft suggestions if you have any.

Stay tuned, because I have a super pretty crayon craft coming up - and unlike the heart necklaces, this one's easy and a guaranteed success. If you haven't already, subscribe to our Youtube channel to see it as soon as it's live!

When John first set up all the lights and film rig for the video I was in the worst mood, but somehow as soon as he hit Record I felt better. Talking to you guys always cheers me up.


Brace yourself, because I found the most perfect Before and After picture in my iPhoto this week:

::melts:: Howwww was Suki ever that small?!

I think the "After" was taken a few months ago, so Suki's even BIGGER now. She's mostly stopped trying to fit under the monitor and just lays where my keyboard goes, kicking it out of the way. (Grr.)


If you read Cake Wrecks last Monday then you got a hilarious update on my insomnia troubles. I don't want to spoil it for you; just go read that first part, which will explain this:

Saturday, March 2, 2019

ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN For The Umbrella Academy!

John and I just finished watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, and I kid you not: the second the screen went blank after the last scene, I did something I've never done before when a show ended: I yelled - yelled! - into the suddenly quiet room, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" 

Which is about how this review is going to go, with a few caveats.

  As always this will be as spoiler-free as possible; I'm just gonna rave about what I think you'll like, what to look out for, and also ponder aloud whether I like Number 4 or Number 5 better. (We'll be taking a vote at the end, feel free to write in your own nominations. ;P )

First things first, the show premise is your typical X-men situation: kids born with powers, raised in a gorgeous mansion academy. After that it takes a sharp left turn, and delivers a fresh mix of dysfunctional sibling drama, intrigue, brutal action, fantastic music worked into major scenes, and - for lack of a better word - pure zaniness. It bounces from hilarious to gut-wrenching and back again, and the suspense never lets up.

The show is based on the comic of the same name, which I'd never heard of before now:

I can't tell you how faithful it is to the source material, but for once I'm glad I didn't read the book first; not knowing what was coming next was a big part of the fun.

The Umbrella Academy hits the ground running, so you'll know by the end of the first episode if you're going to like it. It's consistently paced, and feels more like a 10-part movie than a TV series. As with Stranger Things, you can tell Netflix didn't skimp on the budget, either; there are lavish sets, some truly gorgeous camera work, and a CGI ape butler so convincing, you just accept that he's real and move on.

I was joking with a friend last week that any time an especially good, upbeat song starts playing in Umbrella Academy, it's about to get violent. Think the arrow scene on the ship in Guardians of the Galaxy 2: popcorn action sequences that make you bop along in your seat. And ohhh, the music. Y'all, they play songs by Tiffany and They Might Be Giants (!!). 'NUFF SAID.

While those peppy fight scenes are mostly fun, there are also much, much darker bouts of violence. I mentioned *that* torture scene last week: it's in episode 2, and for me, in my sleep-deprived, extra sensitive state, it was one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen in a show. Bear in mind I avoid gruesome stuff when possible, though, so your results may vary.

I still think that scene was the worst of the season, but there is more: more torture, more gruesome murders, and one or two more lingering disturbing images. (You can tell when most are coming, at least, so be ready with the remote if you don't like gore.) I was surprised by the TV-14 rating, since this seems like a solid R on violence alone, but... {shrug}... again, my base of reference could be off.

There's also rampant drug use, but no sex - just some that's implied.

These two are what brought the word "zany" to mind: they're assassins named Cha-Cha and Hazel, and they wear giant cartoon heads while they're trying to kill people. Y'know. Like ya do.

Nightmare fuel. (These had to be modeled off of Five Nights At Freddy's, right?)

The siblings themselves are a decent mix of powers and personalities, with believable squabbles and just the right combination of exasperation and affection for each other.

These two are my favorites:

Klaus and Number 5 are dear to my heart for so many reasons, but mostly it boils down to their phenomenal actors knocking it out of the park. Don't get me wrong, the whole cast is pitch perfect, but these two crank it up to 11. I'm convinced Robert Sheehan is having the time of his life playing Klaus, and 15-year-old Aidan Gallagher puts most actors twice his age to shame. The scenes with just the two of them positively crackle, love it love it love it.

Oh, and it took me a good 4 days to realize who Klaus sounds like, and I was SO HAPPY when I did that now I have to share: Martin Short. He has that same high-to-low way of speaking, like a vocal roller coaster. I don't know how else to describe it, but seriously; dead ringer for Martin Short.

 Also I could listen to Hazel complaining about their job conditions in that endearing Midwestern accent all day.

Getting back to the overall show, there's a driving mission and mystery that keeps the 10 episodes zipping along, so this show is eminently bingeable.  Obviously I won't tell you what happens, but you'll be happy to know the ending is just the right mix of resolution and dangling plot points. The writers could take this soooo many directions with season 2, and they left enough unanswered questions that I. can't. wait.

So where are my fellow Umbrella heads at? (I don't know if that's actually what we're called, but I'm onboard if it is.) Have you binged? Are you in process? What'd you like, what'd you hate? Who's your favorite, and why? Note there may be spoilers in the comments, so proceed there with caution. (And some spoilers may be from me, because I want to talk about the villain, dangit! Who's with me?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I Made A Necklace Version Of The Melted Crayon Table!

GUYS. Have you seen the melted crayon table going viral on Instagram?


 It's by Chris Salomone of Four Eyes Furniture, and I can't stop watching his videos of making it:


I love that combination of a melty rainbow and wood grain, so I decided to try making a drastically scaled down version... as a necklace.

 And it kind of worked!

Here's the second one John and I tried:

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Figment Surgery, Valentines, & Eva On Fire

I sorta skipped a week there, but I'm trusting you don't mind if my "weekly" photo roundups are on more of a "when I get to them" schedule. Provided there are cat pictures, of course:

BOOM. Got ya covered.

 Look at that glow! (And the glower, ha.)

And here's Miss Fluff Butt displaying her best assets: 


Pretty sure Suki's tail is developing its own gravitational pull - yet somehow she's still growing.

The dining room table was the big repair job last week, but Figment also needed some attention:


My tail repair isn't the best; I got it smoothed out OK, but you can really see the color variation of my paint job in good light. Lucky for us, the lighting in John's game room is terrible:

So we're good. :D

Then to prevent this from happening again, John built a whole new display stand to get Figgie further off the floor:

Friday, February 22, 2019

SO UNSEAMLY: How To Get Rid Of Those Annoying Grooves In Your Table!

Do you have a table with deep seam lines between the wood planks, and it's driving you nuts? 

Well hold on to your prosthetic foreheads, my friends, because I HAVE A SOLUTION.

Fair warning: this isn't a terribly exciting DIY project. In fact I never intended to post about it, but I had so many requests for a tutorial on Instagram that I guess I'm not the only one with this problem!

If you're lost, then these are the kinds of table seams/lines/grooves I'm talking about:

 I took that photo AFTER John and I re-finished the table, but here's a close up of what it looked like before:


Those deep grooves were constantly filling up with dust, crumbs, paint, you name it - plus they would catch on things, and made writing or tracing patterns a pain. We are ROUGH on our work tables, so it was also covered in paint, glue, chips, and scratches. Definitely time for a refresh.

There's a "wood polishing" joke in here SOMEWHERE, I just know it.

This also isn't a quick project, but at least it's easy. All you need - if you want to do what I did - is some Apoxie Sculpt, gloves, a razor blade, and a good show to listen to while you work.
Apoxie Sculpt is a kind of epoxy clay that cures rock-hard, sticks to almost anything, and is fantastic for crafts and cosplay and - in my experience - minor furniture repair. :D It even comes in black, which would be ideal for table-line-filling, but I used the gray stuff since I already had some. 

One pound tubs cost about $23, or - the better deal - you can get 4lb tubs for $42. That's a ton of epoxy, though, so if you're only planning to use it for seam filling, grab this little $15 pack  instead: