Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dressed To The 9 3/4s 2019: Stepping Out For Universal's Potter-Themed Dapper Day

Last weekend John and I strutted our 'Puff at Dressed To The 9 3/4s, a fan-run event at Universal that's basically Dapper Day, only Wizarding World themed. You've heard me rave about this event for the last two years, so buckle up; I'm about to rave some more. :D

(I really love this shirt & skirt I found last-minute on Amazon, I'll link them in my Lists for you guys! They're both stretchy and SUPER comfy, but still flattering, I think.)

 

The official 9 3/4s meetup times were earlier this year, so we missed ALL of them, ha. Happily the weather was so nice that nearly everyone stuck around, though, so I was able to find plenty of dapper witches and wizards over the rest of the afternoon.

Cmon, I'll show you some of my favorites!

I know Aleta (on the left) from photographing her at Dragon Con, where her steampunk cosplays are the stuff of dreams. Love seeing her rocking blue and bronze - I know some Ravenclaws who will be happy to see this!

On the opposite end of the style spectrum, how about some Rockabilly Professor Sprout vibes?

(Hufflepuff At The Beach)

Eeeee, SO CUTE. I want this whole outfit, but mostly her shoes! (My yellow Chucks are too lemony-bright, I need this shade.)

Here's another fellow 'Puff wearing her wand like a hair stick(!!):


 I love her vest. Actually I love all their vests. Vests rock, we should collectively be wearing more of them.

I'm getting some Viktor Krum vibes here with the fur collar:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our 2019 Party Theme Revealed! ...And It *MIGHT* Remind You Of Something

Since John and I got so carried away with our Ghostbusters Halloween we're pretty far behind on our Christmas party, which we host in early December. 

Yep, we've only got a month to go. EVERYBODY PANIC.

Not only that, we've decided we're not doing a Harry Potter theme this year. (I KNOW WHAT) I'm sure we'll return to the Wizarding World in the future, but I wanted to try a different fandom this year, just to shake things up and give myself some new crafting options.

Are you ready for this?

[DEEP BREATH]
Here we go:


Aww yeeeeeah.

 If you've been with me a while then this is no surprise; I've been talking about a Labyrinth Christmas tree for years

The problem with such an obscure theme, of course, is that we have to make everything from scratch. Unlike Harry Potter, you can't run to the mall and pick up ready-made stockings or ornaments. (Plus do you know how expensive fake peaches are? REALLY DARN EXPENSIVE.)

Still, I'm trying to approach this year's party with a little more silliness and a lot less perfectionism, and just focus on doing what we can in a month while still having fun with it. Our Halloween builds reminded me just how fun crafting can be when you have zero expectations or pressures, so fingers crossed this new theme will help me realize I don't have to keep out-doing myself every year.

Plus, c'mon. A Labyrinth themed Christmas party? That's just BEGGING to be ridiculous.

So yes, we're absolutely turning our bathroom into the Bog of Eternal Stench, and we'll have a goblin-themed Christmas tree decorated with tiny pieces of armor and chicken feathers, and there will hopefully be games like "Pin The Leg On The Firey." Anything that makes me and John laugh is up for consideration, so if you have an idea, tell me in the comments!

We've started making some iconic elements from the Labyrinth, so let me walk you through some of our early failures and successes.

First, the failure:


It was around this point that I realized I'd made a tinfoil Sonny Eclipse:
Ha! Whoops.

I kept plugging away, though:

 Hopefully you recognize him more now?

Then my friend Karen came over and helped me start covering him in clay.

 I decided to try out Model Magic clay, since I'd heard good things, but this was a huge mistake. It doesn't blend very well, and it's impossible to carve since it has a rubbery foam texture.

 After a few hours of refining and smoothing Karen & I got it to look like this:

 .. which isn't terrible, but there were some definite problems with my ear placement, and the muzzle. Mostly, though, it was just still very lumpy.

Then I read online that the Model Magic was going to crack, and crack very badly. 

Drat.

The issue is this: any air dry clay will crack if applied over a rigid internal structure like tin foil. And sure enough, by the next day deep cracks were appearing all over the knocker's face.

So John and I consulted a ton of people, both online and at our local Reynolds Supply, and have started over with a new game plan:

 
 John projected the knocker to scale on pink insulation foam, and then we traced and cut out 3 layers to build up the internal structure. This should cut down on the amount of clay I'll need to finish it off.

After this I'll be using Foam Mo, another foam-like clay that I'm *told* will not crack, because it stays extra flexible after it dries.

If that doesn't work, then my Plan C is to go back to an epoxy dough. The dough is SUPER soft and terrible for sculpting, though, so I'm hoping the Foam Mo comes through. I'll keep you guys posted in my Stories!


 Now on to some successes:



 John and I've each had our own projects this week - can you already guess what they are?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Dragon Con 2019: My Final Flash Portraits!

After taking October off for Important Halloween Things, I'm back with my final batch of Dragon Con portraits!

And you know, since this was my first year really getting into Halloween - and therefore being kinda sad when it was over - it's nice to jump right back into costumes and spooky/silliness. For cosplayers and convention-goers, Halloween lasts all year. ;)

Let's start off with a little spooky:

Hmm, Billy and Eleven? Well, Stranger Things have happened.

:D

(These two were completely in character, btw. El kept telling him his mother was pretty while he staggered around. Amazing.)


This Nott was JAW-DROPPING, so many great details!


Hard to see in this photo, but she even had sculpted goblin feet!

(Hey Critters, anyone else watching UnDeadwood? Because I am loving it!! I'm trying to get John to watch it, since it's a stand-alone story even non-fans can appreciate. I will say the language is especially R-rated [even by CR standards], but dang it's a fun ride.)

Right, back to these two Doctor Jones:

Aren't they perfect? You can practically hear him saying, "Junior?"

Ohhh, you guys, here comes one of my best shots of the whole con - and it was pure luck with the timing:

We're in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds during this shot, and he was rapidly fluttering the fan scarf back and forth. This was my FIRST TRY with the flash. We tried it a few more times after this and couldn't even come close!

(This is Link wearing a Gerudo outfit from the Zelda games, btw, which took me way too long with Google to figure out, lol.)

It's hard to follow up a shot like that, but Gomez and Morticia do it in a snap (or two):

They're mysterious AND ooky. Bravo.

Which reminds me: just last week MGM uploaded 14 full episodes of the original Addams Family series to Youtube! I think it's a promotional stunt to advertise their newest animated Addams Family movie. Anyway, John and I watched a couple the other day, and the original show is a friggin' DELIGHT. I highly recommend Lurch Learns to Dance


Speaking of delightful original series, check out this classic 'Trek couple!


I love Andorian makeup, it's such a pretty color combo - and their blues match!

My friend Alexie always blow my mind with her handmade and hand-beaded dresses. Here she is as Colette from Dumbo, and she literally started this entire cosplay TWO WEEKS before Dragon Con:


If you go to her account you can see the rest of the pictures I took of her, since I took quite a few, ha. Here are two more of my favorites, though:

Saturday, November 2, 2019

We Came, We Saw, We Ran Out Of Candy

Ohhh, you guys. What a Halloween!! 

First a shout-out to the fact that I've been vacuuming around a Thestral in our front room for the last 2 weeks.

It was 90 degrees and absolutely sweltering as we set everything up around 5:30 Thursday night. 


Then we packed up the group:

 

... got a grip, came equipped:


 ... and then, we waited.

 

I think the heat kept everyone inside a little longer this year, because it was a slow start. We spent the time taking pictures of each other & taking turns going inside to cool off. (And also showering with bug spray. Ahhh, FLORIDA.)


Oh yeah, my headgear lights up!

Then, a little while after sunset, and almost all at once, WE WERE OVERRUN.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What's This? My Easy DIY Jack Skellington Wreath!

I found the perfect transitional craft to say goodbye to Halloween, you guys: a Nightmare Before Christmas wreath!

  

I made this for my friend Anna (the one who threw that amazeballs Game of Thrones dinner last April), since she loves Jack Skellington. Since I'm terrible at designing wreaths, I found about 10 different designs I liked on Pinterest, then combined my favorite parts to make my own variation.

I worked on this for over a week because I'm so indecisive (just me?), but the actual construction only takes a few hours. Here's what you need:


- foam wreath ring
- one large plastic Christmas ornament from the dollar store 
- white spray primer
- half a yard of stretchy black-and-white fabric (I found this reversible print at JoAnns)
- both thick & thin craft foam sheets in black and white
- a few black leaves/twigs for garnish (Check the Halloween clearance)

Cover your wreath by setting it on the fabric, then cutting slits in the center and stretching and pinning each triangular section back, like this:


Be careful not to cut the slits too deep - like I did - or else the cuts could show from the front - like mine did. Fortunately I only had 2 slits that showed, so I was able to cover those later with spriggy bits.

Once you've stretched & pinned the fabric in place, go back and hot glue it all down, trimming off the excess fabric as you go.


Ta-daa! My fabric-covered wreath.

NOTE: If your fabric isn't stretchy, then you can cut it into strips and wrap the wreath like a mummy.

Next, spray a primer coat over your Christmas ornament. You can follow this up with a top coat if you like, but don't make it shiny; Jack's head looks better matte.

You can easily paint on Jack's features with black craft paint, but I decided to again put my Cricut to work:


I found a Jack face that was close to what I wanted, then adjusted the eyes in Photoshop to make them a little friendlier. (They were more narrowed in the original.) Here's my graphic, in case you'd like to use it:

Monday, October 28, 2019

Our Ghostbusters Halloween Decorations: Full Reveal!

[ground shaking footfalls]

[sudden silence]

[sounds of heavy struggle]


"Ehhhhh"

 "HOOOOOOO"


 
"NYAH-HA-HAAA!"


Yes, friends, Mr. Stay Puft has climbed the building. 

Orlando weather has been extra annoying lately, so John and I had to dash out on the only rain-free day out of the last 10 to do a trial run of our Ghostbusters setup. Even then it was still quite windy, so we had a stress-filled two hours of first puffing up Mr. Puft, and then watching him rock back and forth and knock around/over his support structures multiple times. Poor John got a work out scrambling up the ladder every 20 minutes to re-attach a line or drag him back into position.

And yet, STAY PUFT SURVIVED! We're honestly shocked. These tissue-thin plastic tablecloths are earning their keep.
With all the panic and running around I didn't get as many beauty shots as I'd like, but I did take as many phone photos and videos as I could to show you the transition from daytime to night. We still have a few more things we're going to add for the big night, but it's mostly all here.

So c'mon, let me give you the tour!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I Like Big Buns And I Cannot Lie. Plus We Slimed Our House!


Time for more random life updates! This time it's all good and silly stuff.

First up, my friend Karen taught me how to make a hair bun with a chopstick, and I am SMITTEN:


Where has this technique been all my life??  I asked on my Stories, and about half of you know how to do this... BUT NEVER TOLD ME. How dare you.

(Also this filter makes me want to stick flowers on my face.)

I've been experimenting with new buns almost every day since, which helps give me the push I need to keep taking selfies. I usually rely on filters since I don't wear makeup at home, but these pics help me see something nice about myself, which is definitely needed at times.


 Cute & Silly? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I took the one on the left after 4 hours of sweaty housework, so it's definitely a less polished bun - but I like the scarf addition! I want to get more hair scarves and flowers, they make me happy. Where do you guys get your pretty hair things?

Oh, and since it's still SO hot, these hair buns are a godsend. They stay up all day! And by piling the hair on TOP of my head, it doesn't pull and give me a headache the way a pony tail or lower bun does.

New Halloween tee!

Speaking of my sweet Evangeline:
 
 Lookit DAT FACE.

She's snuggled against my chest while I'm working.

Then there's her more photogenic (& destructive) sister:

Monday, October 21, 2019

John Is Not Throwing Away My Shots

I've been sharing so many Halloween projects and happy things that I haven't given you guys a general life update in ages. It's too easy to only show our best days and accomplishments online, when you and I both know that's never the whole picture. I never want you to think I have it all together, because the truth is I'm broken and battling away same as everyone else. I find comfort in that sometimes. I hope you do, too.

Anyway, I have some other behind-the-scenes things to tell you later, but for now, I have a funny/sweet story.

This story is actually a bit of roller coaster, but it's so perfectly ME and so perfectly JOHN that I have to share:

For the past two months John has had to give me weekly injections of a new hormone medication. This is brand new territory for both of us, and you might recall that John FAINTS while being given shots, and isn't so great watching other people get them, either. However, we quickly discovered I don't have it in me to stab myself, so he was our only hope.

Anyone else get nervous just looking at this?

  Fortunately this is a lot like an insulin shot, so it's a tiny needle that goes right in the belly fat. Tons of people do this every day, right? How hard can it be? 

AND YET.

For the first 6 weeks we had a terrible track record. Sometimes the shot went off without a hitch, nearly painless, and other times it hurt like heck, medication leaking out, me bleeding, and then I'd have a bad panic reaction for up to an hour. Soon both of us were complete wrecks when it came time for the shot each week: John panicking over hurting me, and me panicking over John hurting me, lol. You should have seen us both shaking like leaves and trying to line up this oh-so-simple injection.

Finally, about two weeks ago, John turned to Google again for more tips. He'd already watched half a dozen instructional videos, spoken to two nurses and a pharmacist, but none of their advice was helping. So back to Google he went, and lo and behold, he found a quick insulin shot tutorial that made all the difference in the world.

Apparently you're supposed to lightly touch the needle to your skin before The Stab, and if you can feel the needle at all, you move the needle over. Our nerves are spaced out, so it's possible to inject BETWEEN the nerve endings, where you won't feel a thing.

WE HAD NO IDEA, YOU GUYS. No one ever told us! They just kept telling John to stab faster, which felt like I was being impaled with an ice pick. Whyyy did no one mention the nerve thing?

So anyway, the first time we had this new information we were falling-down messes getting prepared. I'm talking comically terrified. John had to brace his freezing, shaking hands on my belly, and I was light-headed, lying down with my eyes squeezed shut like I was waiting for the guillotine. 

BUT IT WORKED. It totally worked! I didn't feel a thing! And after the shot was done I stood up shakily and John put the needle away and then we both fell on each other's shoulders crying and laughing and crying a little more. It was ridiculous. But it was so US.




Thanks, babe, for giving me a shot.


*****


It's been a while since I mentioned I have a Craft Page with all my DIYs and Tutorials, so hey, that exists! You can browse over 150 different project photos there to find the perfect weekend craft.

Also be sure to bookmark the Epbot Amazon shop for all my lists and favorite finds on Amazon. Anything you buy through that link gives a little back to me and John, regardless if they're on my lists or not, so thanks for supporting Epbot while you shop!


Thursday, October 17, 2019

DIY: Making A Life-Sized Stay Puft For Halloween

Have you ever gone Full Fangirl on something? To the point where people look at you funny and your family suggests you get out more? 

I mean, we're all fans of stuff, of course. That's probably why you're here. There's just a special kind of joy in going ALL IN on one particular fandom sometimes, really letting that geek flag fly to extreme.

I remember once after a 7-day Disney cruise my whole family got off the ship... and went straight to Walt Disney World. We were basically drunk on Disney. We couldn't get enough. We were sharing trivia and visiting the characters and laughing like little kids in a way that I never had before from a day trip to the park. It's like our joy in the fandom got turned up to 11, fueling off each other and all our time spent immersed in this thing we loved.

The past few weeks have been like that for me with Ghostbusters. I really only have John with me on this journey, but the more I lean in and let my inner geek run amuck, the more fun I've been having - even while fighting a 3-week head cold, ha. I don't usually live and breath Ghostbusters, but for right now I'm really focusing on celebrating this one fandom... and it's been rather glorious.


Which is all a long-winded intro to the Halloween decorations John and I've been making this year! You've already seen my Stay Puft-kin, but we have much BIGGER builds in the works, too, and I think it's finally time to give you a peek at what our Trick-or-Treaters will see on the 31st.

First and foremost is the thing we've been working on for at least 6 weeks now: a nearly life-sized Stay Puft head to go on our roof, so it looks like he's climbing over our house.

Our first prototype (done in miniature) had a hilarious muffin-top hat:



... But our second test modal was just about right:


So then we just had to make one 5 times bigger. These are made of dollar store plastic tablecloths sewn together, so at least the material cost is cheap.

Fast forward a week when we learned our ceilings are much too low:
 

 Although inflating this in our front room was HILARIOUS.

A tip of the giant hat to John for all his hard work sewing this monster marshmallow together. After lots of experimenting he learned a zigzag stitch is the strongest way to go, though these seams are still very delicate and prone to ripping. (White duct tape is our friend, lemme tell ya.)

We had to trek Stay Puft to a different location with higher ceilings, but even that was perilous:

 Stay Puft really lets his fans go to his head.
 (Eh? EH??)

Also that's our friend Bianca painting in his face, because she was so excited we couldn't stop her. :D

Next we had to attach tie-downs, fill dollar store bags with rocks, and do several more tests outside, making small adjustments or repairs each time. He's kept inflated with a small household fan we already owned; we just turn the fan on low once he's full - which takes less than five minutes.

Stay Puft in the Swamps of Sadness. FIGHT AGAINST THE SADNESS, STAY PUFT! 

(Also you better believe our neighbors slowed waaaay down as they drove past our yard during these tests. Just keeping up our reps as the Weirdos. ;P)

Then after all THAT John had to construct a lightweight foam ramp to keep Stay Puft level on our roof. We've had one successful roof test so far, but now we need to paint all the tie-down ropes and bags black, because we didn't realize they'd still be really visible at night. Whoops.

Cross your fingers with us that Stay Puft's seams all survive 'til the big night! We're hoping to do a full test run with ALL the house decorations in the next few days, so I can get pictures for the big reveal here on the blog in time for Halloween. (This will be a One Night Showing: all our decorations are too fragile and/or expensive to leave outside!)

The next time you see this guy, he *should* be peering over our roof - and with a finished hat. 'Til then, here's a gorgeous sunset shot from our front yard: