Tuesday, July 16, 2019

MetroCon 2019: Maybe We Should Dance More

Most conventions I cover are physically and emotionally draining, because they're huge, crowded, and often filled with people annoyed by those things. MetroCon is different, though. For the third year now I've come back rested and refueled, happy, and only a little sleep-deprived. Because it's specifically an anime con, Metro has a smaller, younger crowd, and that seems to equal a happier crowd. There are no big name celebrities, so no one is griping about the cost of photo opps or autographs, and no one is rushing to go stand in line, either. It's much more relaxed, very social, very accepting, very fun.

 John and I drove up Friday afternoon to spend the last few hours that day shopping, because Metro has THE best vendor room when it comes to draining my bank account. The art! The giant plushies! The jewelry and charms and kawaii cuteness!

One of my favorite booths - and sellers! - Whimsy Kei.

  Saturday is the big cosplay day, so we spent that day roaming the perimeter of the floor with our flash rig, taking photos. There were so many beautiful cosplays... I can't wait to show you! 

Sunday was pretty sparse, cosplay-wise, so we took a break to play the Escape Room in the vendor room and shop a bit more. Along the way I also took pics & video with my phone, of course, so if you missed any of my Story updates over the weekend, here come the highlights:

(Watch your volume; about halfway through there's some loud music.)
That dance floor is my favorite thing at Metro, because - Awkward Confession Time - I don't dance. I don't know how, and the very thought of trying makes me lock up in terror. And yet, paradoxically, I love to watch people dance! It fills up my heart in a way nothing else can, and I get the biggest, goofiest grin when I watch from the sidelines. We never linger more than a minute or two, but I try to pass by the floor as often as possible, bopping my head to the music, often laughing out loud in delight from all the infectious JOY out there.

I wish every convention had a dance floor like this. Not hidden away in some ballroom, but right smack in the open areas as you walk in. I bet folks would be less grumpy after a long wait in the ticket line if they walked in to find all the Disney princesses (and several Deadpools, of course) dancing to Backstreet Boys. Ha!

 But wait, there's more.

I have a few more pretties I didn't post in my Story!

Always one of my favorites. Their makeup game is FLAWLESS.

This character comes in two sizes:

I found someone shorter than me, you guys!

This metallic Princess Peach had a holographic shine to her - it was mesmerizing in person.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Jen's Gems: Starfish Butts, BB-8 Chairs, & "Highly Sensitive People"

There's an amazing photo making the rounds on social media without credit, but thanks to Google I tracked down the source over on Reddit:

This is Coen in his new BB-8 chair, meeting BB-8! Coen's dad did the chair modifications himself, and describes the encounter over on Reddit:

"They both got really excited. BB8 responded with rapid 'excitement' beeps. Coen had the biggest smile on his face pretty much throughout the interaction.

"Coen was emotional enough from the whole experience from that day (and the meet and greets with Kylo and Chewy) that he started leaking from the eyes due to lack of any other way to express himself. Coen ended up tickling BB8 and BB8 'laughed' so that became the game, and was frankly very cute."

Well now *I'M* leaking. This is wonderful.


Hey, you've got at least one friend you send weird links to, right? Good. 

Send this one and say nothing:

 Not the photo gallery we need, but the one we deserve.

I know there are a lot of Terry Pratchett fans here, so hold onto your socks while I show you Poppy Twiggler's JAW-DROPPING Discworld build:

Hang on, we need Poppy in there for scale:


Here's the top:

 I love the resin waterfalls over the edge!

Talk about your trunk space, check THIS action out:

Then there's more, because the turtle A'tuin glows in the dark:

Go check out Poppy's IG account for build photos and more fun SFX builds, like Hagrid's hut! Projects like this make me so happy.


Speaking of happy feelz, hang on, 'cuz I'm about to hit you with some more:

For George and Ginger's 60th wedding anniversary their granddaughter - a professional photographer - surprised them with a special photo shoot, and I'm not crying, OK YES I'M CRYING:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Thought Process Of Everyone Walking On A Treadmill For The First Time In A Long Time

OK, just gotta set a nice brisk pace... there we go.

Ahh, see, this isn't so bad!

Yep, it's good to stretch the ol' legs. Mmm.

Really, I don't see why I don't do this every day.

Heck, I should get one of those treadmill desks! I could do that.

I mean, I don't even notice I'm walking here! This is easy! I could go for hours!

Oooh, imagine if I walked my entire work day. They say sitting is the new cigarettes.

Man, if I walked all day I would lose so much weight. I bet I could even fit into those jeans again.

Look at me! I already feel healthier!

That's it, I'm gonna research a treadmill desk. Then I'm gonna walk on it ALL DAY. Every time I'm at the computer, or watching TV: all walking. It'll be the new me! I can do this!


See, here I've been walking at least an hour, and it's like nothing. I'm barely tired!

Well, maybe a little tired.

But that's normal, this is a workout, after all. I'll build up to the all-day thing. Maybe start with just 6 hours a day. Yeah.

Humm. Yep. Six hours a day. Cool cool cool.

Oof, it's getting a little warm. Better turn up the fan...

That's better.

So maybe I'll have a few breaks during the all-day walking thing, just to cool off. Gotta work towards a goal, right? So like, two hours at a time, a little break, then back on again. Easy peasy.


I can't wait to wear those jeans again. Oooh, and I should buy those shoes I saw last week to go with them. Yaaasss. Just a little reward, you know, for taking all these healthy steps.

"Healthy steps." Aheheheh snerk.


Do I like kale?


Eh, with all this walking, probably not necessary.


I bet I could run a marathon. You know, eventually.

Not that I'd want to. But I could.


Whoa, my leg just went a little wobbly. Yikes.

I guess I am kind of tired. I'll keep going just a few more minutes.



I really want to sit down now.

Why is it so hot in here?

Are my calves cramping? Is this what a blood clot feels like?

Screw it, that's enough physical activity for one day.

But hey, this was a good start! I did the thing! Yeah!

I'm so proud of me.

In fact, I'm gonna take a picture of the display. Gotta show Mom how long I walked! She'll never believe it! Hee!

Let's see... I think the timer display is this button...

::beep beep beep::



Written by the gal who does own a treadmill desk, but still has this inner dialogue every. single. time.


Hey, need anything at Amazon? Like maybe that pair of shoes to go with those jeans? 'Cuz if you use my links to shop, it helps support the site: USAUK, Canada 

Thanks, gang!

Friday, July 5, 2019

I Tried The New Ghostbusters Candy Bars So You Don't Have To

It's a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so of course most of us are busy offline binging Stranger Things. (AW YEAH.) ("Grumpy Dad Hopper" is my new patronus, btw.) 

Don't worry, though, I still have some HIGH QUALITY CONTENT to share in the meantime.

Namely, my step-by-step experience of tasting the FYE-Exclusive Ghostbusters chocolate bars. 

The flavors are "Stay Puft Marshmallow" and "Ectoplasmic Residue."

These debuted last month in honor of the movie's 35th anniversary, so don't worry, they're not THAT old. You can still buy them at FYE (check your local mall) for about $3 each.

 But before you go spending your hard-earned cash, let's review these bad boys.

Green white chocolate. Slime filling. Yup. Scared.

My bar was already cracked open from the ride home, but surprisingly there was no spillage.

As you can see, it's a nice shade of green - definitely more of an avocado-countertop-from the-70s vibe than Slimer's radioactive green glow.


I'll be honest, I was really hoping for some runny ectoplasmic texture here. Something that spilled out like liquid candy. Instead this is more like a Jell-o Jiggler. (If you're reading a review of Ghostbusters chocolate bars then you ALSO remember Jell-o Jigglers, right?)

Now here comes the moment you've been waiting a whole 10 seconds for:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Lying Cupcakes, Geek Plushies & Toy Shopping

I haven't shared random pics from my phone in ages, so I have some fun ones saved up:


 The cupcakes were a lie, y'all.

 (Dollar Tree, you've betrayed me!)

If it's still here come Christmas I'm decorating this bad boy.

I found the frame first at Ross, then the star at TJ Maxx (for only $8!), and figured they were made for each other.

These are pretty tiny, though, so I wanted to hang them somewhere eye-level:

It seems fitting above the light switch.

(This is Eva's namesake, btw, which is why I love Christie's art so much!)


Speaking of my fuzzy star:


This is actually a bit bittersweet - I still consider that someone else's spot - but I'm working to focus on the sweet.

Oh, and here's Suki being all refined and elegant ::snerk::

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Art Roundup: Galaxy Whales, Mermaid Hair-Scapes, & The Cutest Sorting Hat Ever

It's time for more of my favorite art finds! 

And hey, even if you're out of wall space (like me), there's always more room in your feed. Everyone I feature here is fighting the same old algoritym battle, so if you like what you see, give them a follow! I've found that having an IG feed full of geeky/fantasy art is a sure-fire way to make me smile more, so consider this good for your mental health... if not necesarily your bank account. :p

First up, Wenqing Yan of Yuumei Art:


Wenquing paints the most intensely coloful, dreamy landscapes:

She also has a huge emphasis on nature, and how it clashes with technicology, pollution, etc.:

In Yuumei's online shop you can buy prints, totes, tees, and even these gorgeous wall scrolls!

::grabby hands::

Go shop, then be sure sure to follow her on Instagram!


Danielle Boinay paints entire worlds in her mermaids' hair, and it is MAGIC:

Look at this rainbow!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Build Your Own Flip-Up Window Seat! For Your Cats. Because Your Cats Get All The Cool Stuff. :D

For a while now we've had two problems over by our dining room window:


 The first problem was that Eva's stick-on window shelf was a huge eye sore. (It has her baby blanket over it in that pic.) The OTHER problem was that Suki the Beast is too chonky to get up that high, and so she didn't have a window seat of her own.

Now, Suki is a bit of a bully, so it's good Eva can escape to her high perch unscathed. But c'mon. LOOK HOW SAD THIS IS:

Suki singing in cat yowls: "I want to be... where my sister is."

We always had a dining room chair under the window so Suki could look out, too, but that was ALSO an eye sore - and with only a few feet between the wall and the dining room table, I worried a shelf would take up too much room.

Our solution? A flip down window seat. That way we can fold it flat against the wall when we have company, so there's still enough room around the table!

Here's the shelf flat against the wall, and Eva trying to figure out where her seat went.

John built this from scratch, but the design is pretty simple:

1: Build or buy a basic wood shelf. It helps if it has a slight overhang around the edge - you'll see why in a sec.

2: Build or buy basic wood shelf brackets that are long enough to support your shelf:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

My Self-Hate Battle Plan

I wrote my last post, "No Pictures, Please", three years ago, and since then I've had both wins and losses. I've actually struggled with some of these issues for over a decade, starting back when Cake Wrecks hit the best-seller's list, and forced this already camera-shy introvert into the limelight. The panic of losing my anonymity was only compounded by the fact that I didn't like the way I looked.

I never thought I'd get better, and often dreamed of being the eccentric recluse author, hidden in deep shadows for the rest of my days. But to do what I love - to connect to people through this blog - I knew I had to show my face. So I tried. Eventually I fought back my self-loathing enough to film some Youtube videos - a thing I never thought I'd do - and over the years I've shared quite a few photos of myself here on Epbot. I won't say it's ever been easy, but there have been times when it was easier, at least. There were even times I liked a photo of myself! I was making progress.

When I stopped pushing myself, though, it always got worse.

I reached a point of not only avoiding photos and mirrors, but even neglecting my own appearance. After all, what's the point of wearing nice clothes or styling my hair when there's no use, no hope?

More dangerous, I found myself so anxious at the thought of going places where fans would see me that I was tempted to cancel important trips and plans. Even visits with friends became a challenge.

I'd be so ashamed of these feelings that I would get trapped in a loop: hating myself for hating myself, struggling to overcome a feeling I still don't understand, struggling to understand how everyone else seems to be fine with how they look, while I'm just over here... stuck.

Then I posted "No Pictures" last week, and was OVERWHELMED.

It turns out that not only am I not alone, I am SO not alone that I'm starting to think our club of self-hate is in the majority. In the first 24 hours I had hundreds of DMs, e-mails, and comments, ranging from teenagers to 70-year-olds - and the vast majority were a unified chorus of "Me, too."

I'll be honest, some of your responses made me sob. The amount of visceral, unbridled self-hate among you was like a punch to the gut. I wanted to take it away. I wanted to hug so many of you, to cry with you and heal you and distribute light-up unicorn headphones so we could all dance this pain away.

Then I got mad. Because this isn't right, gang. This isn't right. This has to change. We have to fight.

Look, I know my feelings are lying to me, that the people who love me will find beauty in me no matter what I look like. I know physical appearance is the least important part of a person, and that all I need is a little confidence and a lot of kindness to shine through for people to enjoy looking at me.

I know this, but I don't feel it. Sounds like most of you don't, either.

So here's my battle plan.

Step One:
Declare War... On The Right Enemy

We spend all this energy hating our own bodies, but the truth is our bodies - our bellies, our double chins, our bad skin - none of these are the enemy. In fact, our bodies are our allies. (Or at least a neutral party. That's right, y'all, MY BODY IS SWITZERLAND.)

The real enemy is our own distorted self-image. It's the mental selfie with a self-hate filter that lies to us, hurts us, and actively works to bring us down. No one else sees it. I repeat, no one else sees what we see when we look at ourselves. We're attacking the wrong enemy.

So first things first: Declare war. Recognize what you're actually fighting: Not your weight, not your face, but a false internal image so deeply embedded that you've long since accepted it as fact.

This is so important that I need you to go back and read that entire section again. I'll wait.

Now, do you believe that, at least in your head, if not your heart? Do you believe the problem isn't in any way your body, but only your perception of it?

When the answer is yes, move on to step two.

Step Two: Gear Up

It's dangerous to go alone, so gather your forces. Don't have any? Just take a look in my comment sections here, on Facebook, and on Instagram. WE ARE LEGION. And we're gonna need to hold each other up.

If you don't have a group of friends in real life who will support you in this battle, then I highly recommend Fans of Epbot on Facebook. I've already seen half a dozen discussion posts over there sparked by my last post, and the amount of encouragement and celebration and support among virtual friends there is incredible. In fact, I have an action plan I'd like to propose for FOE, but I'll get to that a bit later.

You'll also need some weapons, and as any nerd will tell you, the mightiest is INFORMATION.
 (Art by Risa Rodil)

So do your research! Go see if Body Dysmorphic Disorder describes you, and if it does - or even if it doesn't - consider talking to a therapist. No shame. You go for physicals, right? Therapy is a check-up for your brain. It's good. It's preventative. It's healthy. And if everything I'm writing here today has you backing away, shaking your head, and insisting that may be fine for everyone else, but not YOU, then please. Talk to someone. I'm just a geeky blogger muddling through best I can over here; I'm no substitute for a licensed professional who can work with you one-on-one.

Step Three: Exposure Therapy

Thursday, June 20, 2019

No Pictures, Please: The Thing About My Face

I wrote this post nearly three years ago, but was too embarrassed to publish it. It's been in my drafts folder ever since.

Then a few days ago, I wrote this in my Instagram Story:

Your responses were so immediate, so overwhelming, that I'm *still* wading through my flooded inbox. (Thanks for your patience there, btw.)

Clearly, I am not alone in this struggle.

And I think we should talk about it.

So please consider this Part 1 to some things I've wanted to say for years, things I want to hear your take on. Remember this is from 2016, so I've had both wins and losses since then, but this is still my baseline. This is where I'm coming from. 

Part 2 will be my Battle Plan: the things and people I've found to help me fight. To help us fight. I'm still struggling to write it properly, so I hope you'll check back. 

But first, here's what I wish I'd had the courage to say a long time ago.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

FOE & Tell: Fairy Wings, Phoenixes, & Unicorn Corsets, OH MY

Today we find some of our friendly FOE (aka Fans of Epbot) at their local Ren Fairs!

She winged her wings, y'all, and LOOK HOW PRETTY:

This is gorgeous, and clever! I've never seen anyone make flower wings before!

Here's the rest of Rachel's fairy look:

 Oohhhh, I'm all about flower crowns and freckles. In fact I'd like everyone to wear giant flowers in the hair at all times, please.


 Meanwhile, at another Ren Fair, Raymond used my Phoenix tree-topper tutorial to make himself a fine feathered friend:

Jaw: dropped. That bird is on FI-YUR. And so beautiful!


Shanon made herself some "new" jewelry from a 15th century piece of armor, and I am agog. AGOG I SAY.

A hauberk is the bit of armor that originally covered the neck, so this is DOUBLY amazing. Love love love it.


I'm always torn at Ren Fairs between wanting to wear a full suit of bad ass chain mail and something over-the-top frilly, like THIS:

Friday, June 14, 2019

CRAFT TIME: Turn Your Board Games Into Pretty Display Books!

John and I were out shopping last week when I spotted a book version of a board game, which was kind of like this:

I immediately flashed to what our game shelf in the closet looked like, which was kind of like this:


Let's face it: we all hide our board games in the closet, not because we're ashamed of them, but because the boxes are hideous. No decor on earth is going to work with that garish jumble of colors and graphics.

Ahhh, but what if we could make those ugly game boxes look like pretty books, so we could display them out in the open?

Like this?

As a wise Emperor once said, 

"Boom, baby."

Here's what they look like from the front:

Aren't they pretty? I am so excited about this.


I modified each of these four "books" in a slightly different way, so I can show you some options for your own game box upgrades. The most exciting is my Scrabble box, since I was able to modify both the board and the box to be literally half their original size. (WOOT!) This is a huge space-saver for all those classic games that come in awkwardly long boxes!

Let's start with the one that's the easiest and the most useful, though: the card book.


 You can buy this paper mache box at most craft stores for $5 or less. It's not the best quality, though, so you may want to spend a few dollars more on a pre-printed version from any home goods store, which you also wouldn't have to paint.

I actually wanted to paint mine, because I found the perfect graphic to cut with my Cricut:
 I love the art deco vibes. 

 I painted the box with cheap craft paint, then sprayed on a glossy lacquer clear coat to give it a leather-like sheen. After that I added the gold vinyl cut with my Cricut. (This whole craft was basically an excuse to get to know my Cricut better. By the last one I was much more comfortable working in Design Space)

This little book holds all of our card games - 10 decks! -  which freed up a bunch of room in the drawer where they used to be: