Sunday, March 31, 2019

Epcot's Flower & Garden Fest 2019: And Of Course, The FOOD!

Last week John and I got to visit Epcot's latest Festival (because there's always one going on these days, right?): Flower & Garden!

The topiaries are the big draw for this fest, plus the food, of course. As with all the big Epcot events, there are stands selling pretty drinks and special edibles throughout the park. There's also a butterfly tent, special music, and of course, MERCH.

The new Minnie art on this year's stuff is super cute! I'll show you a few more things as we go along.

Afternoon photos in the glaring Florida sun are a challenge; you pretty much have to point your phone and just start clicking blindly, ha.

Eat your heart out,  JJ Abrams.

(Lens flare joke. Heyooo.)

I took that with a cheap fish-eye lens on my phone. I've also applied so many filters that if you listen closely, you can actually hear the pixels screaming.

Bo Peep is new this year to advertise Toy Story 4, which will no doubt find new and exciting ways to grind our hearts into a sobby pulp. (Am I bitter, Pixar? Noooooo.)

My favorite is the 3-headed sheep! Although I wish it only had 2 heads, so I could name it W. 

(Give it a second.)

(Now say it out loud.)


(Eh? EHHH?)

My face right now.

Believe it or not, this is the same photo taken at different heights:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Brushing My Cats' Teeth In A Unicorn Dress: AS ONE DOES

This week I'm celebrating feeling functional and happy again after all that panic and migraine awfulness.

TV Announcer: "Jen, you just won your latest battle against pain and panic. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NEXT?"


John, in the background: "Wait, what?"

Yep, our vet pointed out Suki has a little gingivitis, so I thought I'd give this a go. And would you believe she actually seems to like it?! I use the tiny brush from that kit (here on Amazon) with this toothpaste, which she likes to eat. I think the soft bristles must feel nice on her gums, since she lets me scrub away on the outsides no problem. (Still working up to getting the inside bits.)

Eva, on the other hand, is NOT having it. Any of it.

Suki: "Dude, you gotta try this toothbrushing thing!"
Eva: "YOU FOOL!"

That's the face we get every time we try to brush Eva's teeth, lol. That and lots and LOTS of squirming, 'til John gives up and puts her down. I may have to rethink our tactics. Hmmm.

I'd like to get some video of us brushing Suki's teeth, btw, so any volunteers to come hold the camera? :p 

Let me back up to that awful Sunday again, just to show off my outfit:

The panic trigger was a rock concert at a church, btw; flashing lights, bass vibrating our rib cages, the works. Even with ear plugs, after 25 minutes I was in full sensory overload, and my nervous system just snapped. I know, I should have known better... but I really wanted to try, you know? Gotta keep fighting, gotta keep pushing at those boundaries. (Though maybe not so much all at once.)

Anyhoo, at least for my worst day of 2019 (so far) I looked pretty darn cute. CAN I GET AN AMEN?

A couple of highlights from my next few days of pain on the couch:

 I'm finishing up the Briarwood Arc. It's definitely winning me over to the Campaign 1 characters. ;) (Now I understand why everyone loves Scanlon!)

Lemme give you a closeup, because this is STUNNING:

Sometimes you just need to look at a gorgeous, powerful cosplay to feel a little stronger yourself. 

Oh! I forgot to show you this before, but the other week Katya of The Snow Made sent me one of her lanterns as a thank you, and errrrrmergersh:

Monday, March 25, 2019

March Art Roundup: Pink Chubby Toads, Fried Egg Elephants(?!) & Octopodes On The Ceiling!

This month, just to shake things up, we're going 3D. Art isn't limited to flat paper prints anyway, right? Plus I've found sooo many new sculptors I think you're gonna love.

Starting with Shayne Greco and the JAW-DROPPING octopus chandelier he just made for his own house:


Greco is a ceramic artist who specializes in mostly octopodes and the occasional stunning seahorse:

He makes everything from vases to sinks, so go check out his IG account to see more - or visit his website for purchasing info. (Brace yourself, it's pricey!)


I featured Fancy Creatures back when I purchased her Lemon Head doll a few years ago, but she's just made some more cuties I think you'll like:

Strawberry Ice Cream Bunny!

And then there's the sweetly bizarre Fried Egg Elephant:

I'm so torn between the creepy and cute on this. I'M SCRAMBLED, Y'ALL. Buuuut I think the teal neck ruffle has won me over.  Go follow Nastya on IG for more, then check her Etsy shop if you need one of her fancy creatures in your life. (Most of her prices are between $100-$150.)


If you're not a fan of porcelain dolls you might find these creepy, too, but I've been head-over-heels for Xhanthi's doll face art since the moment this photo crossed my feed:


Xhanthi mounts and custom paints each resin doll face, and they are stunning:

She recently did a whole series of "pastel buns", which gave me all the grabby hands:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Universal's New LE Wand For 2019: Art Deco Goodness!

On Wednesday of this week Universal's Wizarding World quietly debuted their third Limited Edition wand, and you guys, she's a beauty.

Art Deco Hufflepuff vibes, anyone?

I haven't seen any official announcements of the wand yet online, but luckily someone posted about it in my local Slug Club group within a few hours of it hitting shelves. John and I took one look at the photo and made a beeline for the parks the very next day, ha. 

I'm mostly functional again after being out of commission all week with this migraine madness, so strolling around Universal was just what the doctor ordered, despite the heavy Spring Break crowds. The weather yesterday was lovely, and lemme tell ya, getting a little sun and breeze is heaven after a week of couch-wallowing.


We headed straight to Ollivander's, where they had about 20 LE wands still in stock for the day at around 6PM. I've heard there are more wands on order, so they're not in danger of selling out completely just yet. That said, if you want one, go now. The past two year's models were limited to 1,000 wands, and last year's (which debuted during Celebration) sold out before the weekend was even over. 

We asked 2 different Ollivander's workers, but no one seems to know how many this design will be limited to. Given the demand last year you'd think they'd make more than 1,000, but they may keep to that number again.
 My pictures taken in Olivander's aren't great, but they're a little more accurate on the color of the gold filigree:

The wand is a true black, so this is very Hufflepuffy. Just sayin'.

The wands cost $70 each, and because they're considered a "collectible" there are no discounts for AP holders or cast members. They are the interactive models, though. They're also not available online, so you'll have to hit up your local friends to grab one for you if you don't live here. (Much as I love you all, I am NOT volunteering as tribute. Sorry!)

I will say we were *slightly* disappointed in person, because the filigree isn't actually metal, it's the same plastic/resin as the rest of the wand. It photographs like metal, though, and the paint and finish work are gorgeous. So after that minor deflation, we still gave them all our money.

Here's a quick video I also took in the shop:

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: