Thursday, January 31, 2019

Freaky 'Tiques! 10 Hilariously Creepy Things You Only Find Antiquing

WARNING: Creepy stuff ahead. But it's also funny, and I'll show you cool stuff along the way, promise.

Two weekends back John and I spent a few hours at the famous Renninger's Antique Extravaganza here in Florida. This thing is HUGE, with tents, tables, and RVs set up as far as the eye can see. All selling old stuff. So, basically heaven.

If I had to sum up the Renninger's experience in a single photo, this would be that photo:


 You don't try to understand. You just enjoy the ride.

 Obviously I go antiquing for one thing, though. Well, two things. Maybe three. But one of the MAIN things is finding delightfully creepy stuff.

 You ever get the impression that people just didn't LIKE their children back in the day?

 The frog... is real. I didn't dare ask about the teeth:

Hang on, before you run away screaming, let me show you some COOL stuff:
You, uh, do consider a beer bottle encased in a bowling ball "cool," right?


It gets better:

Junk art owl! His eyes are reflectors, so they glow.

 And a self-serve popcorn maker, whaaaaat. (The door on the left holds the popcorn bags.)

Before this next photo I remarked to John that that must have been one heckuva toilet, and the people around us looked at me with a mixture of horror and pity, like I thought it was ACTUALLY a toilet brush, but joke's on them! I have no idea what it actually is.

Monday, January 28, 2019

2019's Celebration That Must Not Be Named

You all know how much I love Universal's Harry Potter Celebration, their annual event weekend for the fans. I've covered it every year since it started in 2016, but this year, TRAGEDY: Universal cancelled the 2019 Celebration with no explanation. (And not much notice, either; some fans had already purchased air fare and hotels by the time the news broke!)

Ahh, but Universal didn't count on the tenacity of passionate Potter heads. Since they cancelled so late and a lot of fans had already made travel and costume plans, we pretty much just collectively shrugged and said, "Whatever. We're showing up anyway."

And boy howdy, DID WE SHOW UP:

The letters spell out "The Celebration That Must Not Be Named," which is what the Central Florida Slug Club called the event. Huge shout-out to Melissa and Stephanie of the Club for putting this together, love ya, ladies!

This isn't even the whole group, either; a lot of folks had left by this point because it was getting late and really cold (for Florida).

Everyone was in costume, from basic House scarves and hats to full-on Founders:

I was afraid folks would hold back on their costumes, since Universal has been known to be a little prickly about it. (Though nowhere near as strict as Disney.) Happily I was wrong; there were FANTASTIC costumes everywhere I turned.

Professor Sprout's Herbology class is on a field trip! Great choice for January, too, with those ear muffs and gloves.

 This is such a perfect Dumbledoreand I have to share an extra pic from his account:

"If Dumbledore were alive for the battle of Hogwarts."
[Kermit Flailing] AAAAA!

We mostly stayed away from Diagon Alley as a group, since we didn't want to block traffic or get in trouble. Security would quickly step in if other park guests starting queuing for photos, which was understandable, so we kept to the New York streets section and by the NY Library facade for all our big meetups. 


Ilvermorny Alumni, REPRESENT!

Happily we could take photos of and with each other as much as we wanted; we just had to make sure none of the Muggles around thought we were park employees.

No Grimm this time, just lots of glitter.

Tonks and a dapper Night Bus Driver:

Saturday, January 26, 2019

TWIP: Magic Hour Mini Golf & Disney Style Shopping

This week had some especially photogenic highlights:

John and I went mini-golfing at Disney with our friends Tim & Bianca, and by pure happenstance we were halfway through the Fantasia Gardens course right at Golden Hour. 


A lot of folks don't know this, but WDW actually has two mini golf courses: this one and Winter Summerland, which is Christmas themed. Heck, I've lived in Orlando most of my life, and this was still my first trip to Fantasia Gardens.

The course could use a refresh and some repairs - and a major air freshener around the entry where it smells like sewage, yuck - but it's still a fun course, not too pricey, and we had a blast.

Well, most of us did. ;) 

(Bianca makes every group photo memorable, ha. Rest assured no husbands were harmed in the making of this picture.) 

This elephant fountain was turned off, so Bree over on IG took my original photo and added bubbles!

So perfect! You're right, Bree, that's exactly what it needed.

Quick selfie break:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Critters, How Do You Want To Do This??

I have a slightly unusual way of finding new fandoms, guys: I follow the cosplay.

John and I go to so many cons that its easy to track the newest and most popular shows, because anyone who cosplays will tell you: that's a labor of love you reserve for the very best. So if I see a sudden tidal wave of characters from something I don't know, then heck yeah, I'm gonna check it out.

Plus then I get to call it "research."

[Me, in my 6th hour of watching anime: "I'M WORKING, JOHN."]

Cosplay is how I first discovered (and fell in love with) Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, My Hero Academia, and getting to the point of this post, Critical Role. [insert Mercer's eyebrow lift here]

I first started watching Campaign 2 of Critical Role last August, I think?, and I've JUST NOW caught up. This is a fandom that demands massive amounts of your time, but pays off in so much heart, laughter, and even occasional tears.

Hang on, I should probably back up and tell you what it is.

Critical Role is a web show/podcast where "a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons." It's led and DM'd by Matt Mercer, who my fellow Overwatch players know as the voice of McCree.

The 4-hour (sometimes longer!) show is live streamed on Twitch and YouTube every Thursday night, and Campaign 2 is currently up to Episode 48. That's over 192 hours of content - and their last campaign had 115 episodes. Yeah. Wowza.

Now, if that description sounds less than compelling, believe me, I understand. I actually started listening to the show as a way to help me fall asleep at night, ha. After a few weeks something terrible happened, though: it got so interesting I couldn't fall asleep. Then I realized I needed to WATCH these people, not just listen to them, because they often make jokes and react to things the others are doing, rather than saying. And since they're all pro voice actors who drop in and out of their character voices, there were times I couldn't tell who the heck was talking.

Once I was actually watching the show, I realized I had to watch all the announcements, too, because they were so funny. Then I had to start reading the comments (breaking the first rule of the internet, I know) for all the fan theories and in-jokes. Then I had to watch all the fan art at the end, because it was gorgeous and often illustrated parts of the previous show.

So yeah, a few months in, and I was a fully fledged Critter. (We even get a cool fan name!)

Now I'm converting the cats.

Again, this is a fandom that asks a lot, and the pay-off (at least for me) can be a slow burn. Even now I find the show drags sometimes, but then it will sneak up and sucker punch me with an amazing twist, or a sweet back story, or a heist-gone-wrong. Plus you can't spend this much time with 7* people without feeling like you know them, and sitting in their virtual circle (...triangle?) feels like hanging out with friends. (*Technically there are 8 in the cast, but Ashley isn't there much.)

For most of Campaign 2 the show had this hilariously groovy 70s themed intro. There's a new animated intro now, but it has major story spoilers, so stay away if you're not caught up!

There are two married couples in the cast: Matt & Marisha (Marisha is on the right in that pic) and Laura & Travis (middle). A lot of fans like to joke that Sam & Liam are married, too, because their bro-mance is real and adorable and often the most hysterical part of the show:

Liam's and Sam's characters are actually a couple in the show, but not in a romantic way. Sam plays a tiny goblin girl, and Liam is a... well... hobo wizard. I won't spoil anything, but their dynamic remains the best, purest, most heart-warming story arc in CR, and I can't wait to see where it goes.

I won't go into the other characters because there's just too much, and I'd probably accidentally spoil something. There's a little of everything, though: from the mysterious, angst-driven type to the immature joker to the warrior to the snarky hedonist. They also have guest stars sometimes - other voice actors - who honestly keep getting better and better. Oh! And as the DM, Matt plays every other character the team talks to, which has yielded pure GOLD on a number of occasions. (His flirty Dwarven barkeep was a personal favorite.) The best has to be Pumat Sol, a firbolg shopkeeper with three clones, a magical supply shop, and a voice like a tipsy Canadian angel. I'm telling you, PURE. GOLD.

Right, I think I've raved and rambled long enough. SO.... any fellow Critters out there? Have you cosplayed any of your favorite characters? Crafted anything? Started playing D&D? Spill! Tell me in the comments, or share your pics on FB or IG so I can see!

And if you're not a Critter (yet?), I hope you'll give the show a chance! I recommend starting with Campaign 2 like I did; it's a fresh start with everyone playing all new characters, so it doesn't matter if you've seen Campaign 1. You can watch the first episode right here on YouTube. Just a cautionary note for parents and/or anyone listening at work: there are F bombs GALORE, which took me a while to get used to. There are also plenty of crude jokes and characters drawing wangs on everything, so proceed and parent accordingly. :D


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Monday, January 21, 2019

TWIP: All About The Cats

I realized last week I neglected to include a single cat picture in my favorite photos of the week, so rest assured I'll be making up for lost cuteness here today.

But first, let's take a selfie:

I accidentally 'bounded as Dean Winchester this week, which was a perfect excuse to finally use the pie emoji:

I'd like to thank all of you who responded with pictures of your own home-baked pies, Supernatural gifs, pi formulas, and yes, even one celebratory photo of Pinkie Pie. YOU ARE ALL MY PEOPLE.

This week has been mostly boring adulting stuff: more doctors, some landscaping, planning big home repairs, bleggity bleg. This is me while adulting:

This is also how my friend Bianca displays her Mickey ears.  
(Btw, did you see Disney's new pink donut ears? SO CUTE.)

John and I installed a window shelf for Bianca's cat Ramsey, who has the most creepy cool eyes:

He's snuggling his new shelf there. I think he approves.

 Eva, however, DOES NOT:


She's a jelly one, that Eva.

Ok, her turn:

Look at my baby girls spooning! I died, y'all.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

10 Awesome Artists To Look For At Epcot's Festival of the Arts 2019

My favorite Epcot festival starts this weekend, gang, and runs through February 25th - so make your plans now! The Festival of the Arts features new food, musical acts, live demonstrations, exclusive merch - allll the things - but the standout for me is, of course, THE ART. 

Disney has been great about recruiting fresh new artists for their WonderGround Tent at the Festival, many of whom I've been following for years. It's such a thrill to watch long-time friends and favorites getting pulled into the Disney family, so let me brag on my personal Top Ten this year, k? 

- Ashley Taylor

Ashley is a friend-of-a-friend and an inspiration for artists everywhere. I've heard so many stories of how hard she worked, drawing in her free time after work every night, never giving up - and a few years later she was touring the world with Her Universe. Amazing. So it's kind of fitting that two of Ashley's new Festival pieces feature Cinderella!
My favorite, though, is her STUNNING World Showcase print:

Ashley licenses a lot of her art on clothing through Her Universe, so I can't help but hope this ends up on a skirt someday. 

Here's a closer look at one those Cinderella pieces, which has LITERAL foreshadowing, you guys:
Love it. Watch for these prints and more at the Festival, and be sure to follow Ashley on IG! (She's a beacon of positivity and encouragement online, btw. I love that about her.)

- Jason Ratner 

Jason is a new find for me this year, but I am OVER THE MOON for the Festival prints he's debuting:


(Thanks to those of you who sent this my way; I love that y'all think of me when you see great Figment stuff. :D)

But wait, Jason has more:

I love these colors!

Aren't they stunning? Go follow Jason here on IG to see more of his work. 

Also, all of these artists have their Festival schedules posted on their accounts, in case you'd like to meet them in person.

- June Kim

This was all I needed to see of June's Festival prints - I'M SOLD - but she just posted this sweet Tiki one, too!

June also has lots - and LOTS - of original work online, like this:

Monday, January 14, 2019


First things first: we got some sub-70 temperatures over heeeeeere!

Booya. Bring out the boots.

I showed you what a mess our back room was last week, so here are a few progress shots from my week's work:

And here's the shelf that had all the stuff I accidentally gave to the thrift store:

I still managed to fill it up - and I think I like it even better now, so s'all good.

It looks super dramatic at night with the spot lights on:

 See my crystal seahorse up top, how it glows with the light behind it? I LOVE THAT. And on the other side is a spinning light bulb things that turns from the heat of the spotlight, which makes the shadows flicker just enough that we're forever looking for spiders on the ceiling.

This week John and I went to my favorite antique mall, and barely got through 20% of it before they closed for the day. I managed to wrack up plenty of fun finds, though:

Here comes my most popular find on Instagram; so many of you pulling for my crazy office dreams:

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Noisy Cricut

I got a new toy, you guys, and I need someone to tell me how to play with it.


[whispering] It's so beautiful.

(For once we don't mean you, Suki. Sorry.)

The beautiful thing is a Cricut Air 2, for those who - like me - didn't know what they look like.

I've been telling lots of you that I've been thinking about getting a cutting machine for over a year now, but then John caught wind of it, found a sale, and brought home this beauty. I had no idea they came in teal, so... BONUS.

I've been watching a bunch of "instructional" videos on Youtube, and can I just say, most of what I'm finding are pretty bad. But funny. One lady kept dropping the camera, then she'd lose control of the zoom feature so the computer screen would suddenly zoom in 'til you could see the pixels, and where I really lost it was when she spent a solid minute of dead air time scrolling through a menu because she couldn't find a file that *I* could clearly see, so I'm sitting there yelling at the monitor "IT'S THERE! IT'S RIGHT THERE! CLICK IT! CLICK IIIIIT", and by the time John came in I was laughing my fool head off. Not because I could do any better, but because that was the final edit she put on Youtube. Then again, she gets the last laugh because I watched the whole thing, so there ya go.

Anyhoo, once I was armed with over 2 tedious hours worth of "instruction" from Teh Youtubers, I proceeded to watch in horror as John plugged the Cricut in and figured it all out on his own in about 5 minutes.

So not fair.

This is not a review, and I can't say if this will ever be worth the $200, but I will say that within an hour John and I were giddy with the possibilities. We've done a lot of tedious papercrafts here over the years, and most would be a snap to revisit with this thing. In fact, it took John less than 10 minutes to take our existing template of the Hogwarts House Nightlights and have the Cricut cut one:
This looks way better than my hand cut versions - and only took about a minute to do. Whaaaaat.
Now I know what all my friends are getting for Christmas next year! (Hint: it's not a Cricut.)

 Here's the machine set up, btw:

 We still have to find a space for it in my office. o.0

The first project on my list for the Cricut is revisiting the Craft That Got Away: the one that so many of you have spotted in the background of my house photos, and have been asking about for years now: