Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thrift Store Karaoke Is My New Jam

On Tuesday John and I went thrift shopping for a big frame for our friend Scott - which we totally found, and here 'tis:

Only $20! AW YEAH.

Along the way, though, MANY ADVENTURES WERE HAD, culminating in my new favorite thing. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning:

 A lot of these were videos in my Story, so you'll just have to imagine Headphone Guy boogeying down while Minnie farts celebratory music notes.

 Move over, Kitschy-Cute.

I like to include you guys with these decisions, so:

 Initially "LAWD NO" was in the lead, but eventually you guys came around. 

Then a few hours later, someone sent me this!

Several of you think he's even creepier WITH the original paint job. I'm guessing it's the eyebrows?


 This is all at The Sharing Center, which I highly recommend if you're around Orlando!


You guys are NOT helpful in leaving things behind: I've since had suggestions to turn him into a Buzz Lightyear Mickey, Rocketeer Mickey, and Retro Tin Toy Mickey.


Oh hey, remember when John was modeling this "Pooey Puiton" in the Walmart toy aisle last month?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our $5 DIY Sleep Apnea Solution To Keep John From Dying

[Trigger Warning: Everything's fine, but there is a death scare below. Skip if you're feeling panicky.]

[Also if you just want the DIY without the back story, skip ahead to the "Read More" jump.]

I've been hinting about it long enough, so here's the deal:

Just over a month ago I started noticing that John stops breathing in his sleep. He tends to snore, so the sudden silences would wake me up. I'd count down a few seconds, start to panic, and nudge him into a sudden gasp for air. We agreed he should sleep on his side, and started looking into ordering a sleep study for him.

Shortly after that - just a few weeks ago - I woke up to silence again. John had been getting annoyed by my constant nudges to get him to roll over, so I did my best to wait, to count down a few seconds. Surely he'd breathe soon, right? Nothing. His chest wasn't moving. I forcefully shoved down the rising panic and tried to say something softly, but it came out as a squeak. Still nothing. No movement. No sound. I reached out to touch John's arm... and it was ice cold.


I grabbed John and let out a wail that was half his name, half sheer terror... and a millisecond later he gasped and sat up, panicking himself over why *I* was making that sound.

We were up for hours after that. After my tears dried, John swore to me he'd do whatever it took to ensure this never happened again. His doctor's appointment was still weeks away, though - and a sleep study would be weeks or months after that - so we started searching for ways to at least keep John on his side while he slept.

Side-sleeping is critical for anyone with apnea who doesn't have a CPAP machine to help them breath. When you're on your side your tongue can't fall back and choke you, and sometimes you won't even need a machine if you sleep on your side, as in my case. (I have mild apnea, but only if I'm on my back. Since I've trained myself to stay on my side, I don't need the machine.)

The problem is, John LOVES sleeping on his back, and despite his best intentions, would inevitably roll over in his sleep and start to choke again.

The common solution for this - as any cursory Google search will prove - is to sew a Tennis ball into the back of your shirt. The theory is the ball will poke you if you roll over, and wake you up just enough to get you to go back on your side.

            If you're not feeling crafty, you can even buy a shirt like this on Amazon for just over $20.

I'm sure the Tennis Ball method works for some people, but here were our issues with it:

1) We have a soft memory foam mattress, and John's built like a linebacker - so it's conceivable he could still roll over on the ball without waking up.

2) Even if the ball did wake John up, that means he's waking up a lot - which isn't very restful. Wouldn't it be better, we thought, to have something that physically won't LET him roll over?

3) John wears a fresh sleep shirt each night, so we'd have to make LOTS of shirts with balls in them. Ug, SEWING.

So we kept looking, and discovered the only other side-sleeping aids were a variety of "bumpers" and backpack-like apparatuses:

 This "Bumper Belt' looked promising, but the widest strap goes right over the pectorals (ouch) and it costs over $100. Double ouch.

The Slumber Bump has less straps, at least:

... but this could twist around your waist unless it's snug, and John didn't want a tight band around his middle while he tried to sleep. (Also this glorified fanny pack costs $75. Dang.)

We were in crisis mode, so our first solution was to work with what we had - and it was surprisingly effective:

 (Suki will help demonstrate...)

We stuffed two throw pillows in a backpack, and John wore that to sleep. This supported John completely on his side, so no matter how he tried, he couldn't possibly get onto his back.

Within two nights, John reported he was already feeling more rested. Between no choking and no Jen-nudges, he was finally getting some uninterrupted rest!

The stuffed backpack wasn't a permanent solution, though: after a week the straps were leaving marks on John's shoulders and upper arms, where they cut into his skin as he shifted around and put his arms over his head. (He likes to sleep on his stomach with his arms up sometimes.)  Not to mention the backpack was obviously VERY bulky in bed, ha. Nothing like getting whapped by a giant nylon bag when your hubby rolls over in the middle of the night, lol.

We had a few ideas for a new backpack we could sew, and decided we wanted to use pool noodles, since they're firm but extra light.

When John went to the Dollar Tree to buy the noodles, though, he instead found something we'd never seen before, and which turned out to be the perfect solution:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Heaving Breaths, Thrifted Colors, & A Tale Of Two Sinks

The last few weeks have had John spending way too much time in doctor's offices, calling doctor's offices, fighting with insurance, making appointments, filling prescriptions, going back to the doctor because they wrote the WRONG prescription, and so on.

The good news is John's lungs are perfectly fine. The bad news is when we went to a new general practitioner to get John a physical, she claimed his lungs were akin to a "80-year-old emphysemic." Then she put him on a $300 inhaler that made him feel terrible and sound like a pack-a-day smoker.

After two weeks of misery we decided to get a second opinion from an actual lung specialist. Many exams and x-rays later, (see above), we were told John's lungs are the picture of health, and that the first doctor is an idiot. Ha! Our American medical system at work, everybody. ::headdesk::

I think the moral here is: don't go in for a physical?

 Suki questions my conclusions. 

John's also been dealing with new medication stuff for me (no worries, I'm also fine) and I'm grateful every day that I have the world's most charming Brute Squad going to bat for me. I tell ya, getting good health care is a full time job even when you're NOT sick.

Oh! There IS some really good stuff that came from the expensive lung debacle, but I'll tell you about that next time. Right now I have more important things to show you:

 Like my latest thrift store haul!

I convinced John to hem my new shorts (the middle ones are Men's sizes, so they're pretty long) and I was ridiculously pleased to find we already had matching thread for all of them. Look at those color matches! SO SATISFYING.

I wore two of those this week:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Jen's Gems: The Romanov Costume Ball, Snake Scarves, & Smashing The Wellness Industry

I come bearing fun stuff for your Thursday!

If you're into history, fashion, and/or cosplay, then you'll appreciate this:

The women are all wearing the most incredible beaded headdresses, and everyone is covered in layers of lavish fabrics and jewels that are the very definition of "extra." (Which of course has a dark side if you know the history.) Insensitive royals aside, though, these photos are incredible eye candy and costume inspiration.

In happier costume news, did you see that Target is releasing two Halloween costumes this year made specifically for wheelchair users?

YAAASSS! How fun are these? I hope this inspires lots more designs, and they get some good licensing onboard. (How amazing would some Star Wars designs be? Or an Ecto-1?

Target also has two new costumes for kids with sensory issues - a shark and a unicorn - which both include hidden front flaps for "easy abdominal access." You can see those and get more details here on The Mighty.


Since most DIY blogs are long gone by now, I'm thrilled to see TrueBlueMeAndYou - my favorite aggregator of all things crafty - still chugging along. Here's a recent post from her Halloween-specific blog:

Knitted snake scarves! These would be perfect for any of you Slytherins out there. The pattern is by Barbara Tomlinson of Beachton, links to both free patterns here.


While perusing another abandoned blog I found a very old - but new-to-me! - craft I want to try:

Washi tape feathers!

This is a super simple technique with gorgeous results, and then you could use the feathers to make everything from hair bands to gift wrap to a cute Leviosa mobile for your Harry Potter party... you know, if you're into that kind of thing. [innocent whistling] Check out the step-by-step tutorial here.


When I found these miniature pop-up books on Instagram last month my jaw about hit the keyboard:


There are even tinier ones, too, plus ones with working lights inside.

How? HOW???

The creator sells both the finished products AND paper DIY kits in their Etsy shop here. Anyone have a pair of tweezers and feeling brave? Ha! If not, at least go follow them on Instagram to marvel at all the insanely gorgeous designs and details.


Back to costuming fun with quite possibly the most brilliant Star Trek cosplay ever:

Monday, August 12, 2019

Think We Can Take This Off-Line?

This headline caught my eye last week:
(click to read the whole article)

That's just under a quarter of 23-38 year olds who say they have zero friends.


The article goes on to say that a whopping 30 percent of millennials say they're lonely; the highest percentage of any generation polled.

I hear these same things every day from perfectly delightful people online, people I'd think would be swamped with friends - though honestly, I struggle with making friends off-line, too.

Online friendships are wonderful - life-saving, even - and I see them blossoming on FOE all the time. Still, you and l know that text on a screen is ultimately not enough. We need eye contact and shared belly laughs and supportive hugs from time to time. We need someone to listen and give us more feedback than a heart emoji on Facebook. We need people who KNOW us, who see us drop spaghetti in our laps and lose our tempers and make mistakes, but who love us all the same. What's more, we need to be that for other someones, too, so we can soak up the joy of loving our fellow humans.

We're in a world that encourages isolation. We stay home because we're tired. We binge Netflix because it's easy. And we avoid people who disagree with us - or who might disagree with us - because we're sick of all the yelling. We tell ourselves we're too socially awkward, too introverted, too "weird" to find new friends. But at what cost? What will it take to get us out of our comfort zones, take a chance, and risk hanging out with people we maybe won't like?

I don't know; I'm out here struggling the same as many of you. What I DO know is there are too many awesome, lonely people out there, and finding them is going to take some work. We have to go places where there are too many people, embrace the awkward, maybe drop some spaghetti in our laps, and overall just TRY.

So hey, tell me this: if there was an Epbot meetup in your area... would you try? Would you go? I don't have any plans in motion or anything, and I'm not sure how the logistics would even work, but I'm curious. 

Better yet, tell me about your ideal geeky friend mixer: the setting, the activities, the one thing that would get you to show up. (Assuming Nathan Fillion is busy that night, of course.)

Also I just spent most of the afternoon writing this instead of working, so if anyone could provide a doctor's note for me to post on Cake Wrecks tomorrow, that'd be awesome. 😝😂

Friday, August 9, 2019

New Cosplay Video! Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2019

Ready to see what 6 hours of cosplay filming looks like in less than 5 minutes?


(Sound on for fun!)

This time John left in a lot more audio from the con floor: more people laughing, more candid moments before and after I asked them to pose, and more of me fangirling out of frame, ha. It's less polished, sure, but I really like it this way! I think it captures more of the personality of the con, and hopefully feels more like you're right there with us. 

We filmed all day Saturday, then planned to have the flash rig out all day Sunday - but it turns out very VERY few people dress up on Sunday. I was kinda bummed, but then again, I was so tired after Saturday I suppose it's better we cut out early. Plus I still found a few great cosplays, like this mother-daughter Aurora duo:

So sweet!

Then this gender-swapped Yondu had the coolest arrow prop:

It's flying out of her thigh holster! Such a neat effect.

This Kingpin looks like he stepped right out of the comics:

Bonus points for his Chibi badge version of himself, ha.

I like how the colors on these X-Men ladies seem to glow:

Next some Disney princesses:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2019: Stranger Things, Huffle Punk, & Tad Cooper Gets His Wings!

Tampa Bay Comic-Con was a mixed bag for me this year. It's a huge convention primarily aimed at families (kids get in free), so the crowd was older and less inclined to cosplay and silliness. I mean, I didn't see a single conga line! What's that about?

John and I decided to shoot video on Saturday (coming soon!) and flash on Sunday, but there was so little cosplay on Sunday I barely took 30 photos, and we left after just 3 hours. Like I said, this is more of a low-key shopping crowd.

The good thing about lots of families? Lots of cute kids in costume!! This little Jawa had just met James Arnold Taylor - the voice of Obi-Wan - and she was still over the moon and beaming. I love that she has a baby Jawa doll!

John hard at work filming on Saturday.

Saturday was the Big Day, with massive crowds and plenty of film fodder. It was also physically exhausting, since Tampa Comic-Con is the only con we've been to that doesn't provide a food court or seating. We circled the hall twice in disbelief, searching for a place to sit down, but nope. Only a hand full of stand-up tables. (There IS seating downstairs in the center, but it's limited and far away). So while I still had a great time, this con definitely beat me up!

Where my Gravity Falls peeps at?

Still two of my favorites! I've never seen an Yzma cosplayer replicate her epic eye bags - PLUS the potion bottle label flipped down to form the skull! GENIUS.

These two are always so in character, btw, and I can't wait for you to see what they did for our video on Saturday - as two different characters! Stay tuned, it's hilarious.


 Yep, the latest season of Stranger Things was in FULL EFFECT.

I can't get over the Demogorgon in Hop's shirt. Bahaha!

 Then when "Suzy" handed me her card:

Friday, August 2, 2019

FOE & Tell: Hoopy Froods, Sock-Hopping Tribbles, & Gondor Calls For Aid

It's been too long since I shared some of my favorite FOE finds! (That's Fans of Epbot, btw, a fan-run Facebook group.) I find new favorites all the time, but it takes me a while to compile everything, and then John hunts down everyone a month or two later to ask for their permission to share here. So prepare to ooh and ahh, laugh a bit, and of course judge me for how old some of theses posts are. ;p

 Bahaha! Yes, yes she does.
(Psst, Erin, next you should "accidentally" send her a jetpack and some steampunk clothes!)


When Kelli found an adorable little whale statue at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware, I think?), she knew EXACTLY what to do:

... name him Arthur and put a tiny pot of petunias on his head.

(The little flowers are from Michael's.)

This is a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, in case you're lost. I highly recommend reading the books if you haven't! And I know it's been a while since Kelli posted this on FOE, but if any of you happen to see this whale sometime, please, grab it for me! I'll pay you back. See, I'm turning 42 next year, and, well... NEED.

Which reminds me, Shanda just inspired one of my next Cricut projects:
Now there's a hoopy frood who really knows where her towel is. Bravo, Shanda!


Warning: after you see this next post from Morgen you may have to fight some Extreme Crafting Urges:

A few details: 

 Eeeeee!! C'mon, who else wants to make tiny dioramas on tiny golf ball planets now, ala The Little Prince? ::raises both hands:: I hope you're displaying this under a little glass cloche, Morgen; I feel like that would set it off beautifully.


Megan and her friends made their own Star Trek Sock Hop dresses, and I can't handle the cute: