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:

The giant snap! The plastic hair line! The one-color accessories! YES.

This is being shared around Facebook without credit, and Google Image Search has failed me. Anyone know the cosplayer so I can credit him?

UPDATE: Aha! This is J Marty Dormany-Keenan, though I don't see a public page for him. Thx, commenters!

This NY Times article gave me some food for thought:

I recommend reading the whole thing, but here are two good snippets:

"The diet industry is a virus, and viruses are smart. It has survived all these decades by adapting, but it’s as dangerous as ever. In 2019, dieting presents itself as wellness and clean eating, duping modern feminists to participate under the guise of health."

And best of all:

"When men sit down to a business lunch, they don’t waste it pointing out every flaw on their bodies. They discuss ideas, strategies, their plans to take up more space than they already do. Let’s lunch like that."

THIS, my friends. This.

I consider myself lucky that I learned early on that diets don't work, and have (mostly) escaped all the misery and health risks of both fad diets and getting caught in a guilt cycle over what I eat. Today my focus is to feel better, strengthen my body, and increase my stamina, not decrease my size. I'm not always at peace with that - it's hard to resist the urge to fad diet when those bad photos come along - but I know this is the only healthy way.

Molly B Counseling has an excellent FB post on all this, btw, and I highly recommend clicking that link and following her. Here's another post from her page:

Oof. Words to ponder.


Now let's end with some silly stuff:


Hey John, for our next escape room?

We could also put the cats in there, maybe some cupcakes... hardest challenge EVER.



Since I've had a couple people ask: yes, the Epbot Amazon Store is still up! You don't need a special link anymore, just type in from anywhere to see all my fun lists and links. As always, anything you purchase there (even if it's not on my lists) will give us a small percentage.

It's more fun for me to link specific stuff, though, so here's my latest purchase and what I've been reading this week:
(click  for the Amazon listing)

I zipped through the first third of this in a day, then it dragged a bit in the middle, and now it's picking up again for the last third. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a modern day role model, because DANG, Fred Rogers was awesome.


  1. if you use a thin gauge wire instead of the thread for the washi tape feather, you could make it adjustable, or that much more stable for adding to another craft!
    I'd love to try the snake scarf, but I'm a crocheter, so I'll have to see if I can adapt it, it might be hard with such a small stitch...

  2. I love love love those pop-up books! So sweet!

  3. I've made that snake. I knit it in purple because my kid is into Pokemon and Ekans could double as the school's purple rattlesnake mascot.

  4. Oh washi tape feathers look fun ^_^ I don't have a lot of craft related blogs in my rotation anymore, but Orange Bettie is fun for sewing stuff. Like this space kitty book tote -

  5. I would only escape a Book/Cat/Cupcake filled Escape Room if the *Prize* was to RETURN. <3 :D

  6. Thanks for the shout out! My blogs are still very much alive! I'm even more determined to find DIYs that are unique with links that take my readers to the real source. Also - love the pop up books you posted, and since I have an Umbrella Cockatoo named Caesar, your Good Omens meme made me so happy.

  7. I shared that romanov costume ball link on FoE a while back. I still revisit it sometimes because DANG it's gorgeous. --ranger

  8. A great place for (mostly) women's costumes is

    It's been awhile since they added anything new, but what they have is awesome, and I learned a lot from them about women I was unfamiliar with but whose stories are awesome.

  9. Might I invite you to our Atlanta area book based escape room when you're back in town, the Friends of the Milton Library book barn. The library branch was built 4 years ago where an old farmhouse and a few barns were located, so the the original Friends took the barns apart and rebuilt them as a bookstore shaped like one of the original barns. The escape challenge is getting through it without finding a book you want. Added bonus is that prices are generally $2 and under, unless it's something pretty special.

  10. Haha! Jeff Zentner is a good friend of mine. He posts funny stuff like this all the time on his Facebook page. You should follow him!

  11. Yes!! I'm so glad to see someone calling out the "clean" eating nonsense for what it is. Everyone is suddenly trying to eat "clean" and it just smacks of a culty fad diet to me. If you really want to go there, I've never opened a Twinkie package and had to rinse dirt and bugs off of it, but it happens almost every time I buy spinach. What crazy thinking is causing people to call "healthy" food "clean"? I also noticed that only the foods well-off people can afford (organic veggies and obscure grains and whatnot) are considered "clean". What a condescending, pretentious way to call poor people dirty.

    1. Boom! Tell it, Jay!
      I eat healthy, for digestive reasons. But if the "clean" culture wants to label my non-organic vegetables "unclean" or "unhealthy", they can shove right off. I'm not spending $5.00 for an onion that grew next door to the $2.00 one. I have better things to spend my money on.

    2. you do know clean refers to the ingredient list and not the possible bugs on the product, right?

    3. Um, how many ingredients are in an apple?

  12. That's a fabulous article. Here's my favorite bit:
    Most days, I feel good in my skin. That said, I am probably never going to love my body, and that’s O.K. I think loving our bodies is not only an unrealistic goal in our appearance-obsessed society but also a limiting one. ... We don’t need to love our bodies to respect them.
    I also really need one of those books

  13. Those feathers look like the ones we made from construction paper back in the time of the dinosaurs! I think the escape room is a great idea too. Set it up in spring and by October it will have become a Haunt!

  14. First, those miniature books made me mutter "Sorcery!" at my desk. :O I am in awe!

    And that NY Times article is great. I recently started what I'm calling my fitness journey because I wanted to feel better and be stronger. Yes, I have lost some weight, but I *feel* so much better on the inside, and I'm definitely noticing improvements in my strength. I love food, and I'm learning to develop a better relationship with it and to stop feeling guilty if I have a "bad" meal. But, it takes time to undo decades of being told to feel/being made to feel a certain way about food and my body, and that's why I am doing my best to think about this as a journey. Journeys take time.

  15. While I think the clean eating movement started off with good intentions (fruits and veggies and grains are healthy), this whole only non GMO, only organic foods trends does seem to be a way to show off how food woke you are.

  16. So much fun! LOVE the costumes especially the toy one! Now I want to make costumes to match dolls I have, ha! And tiny books, cute feathers!

    I will say though, some guys do worry about what they eat and the shape of their bodies, so we shouldn't just assume only women are affected by the stupid diet industry. There may be less talk about it at business lunches, but body issues aren't just woman-based. However, I despise the new 'wellness' trend that is so much pseudoscience junk trying to sell you a quick fix that really doesn't help. Especially all the MLM cults, boo. Daily workouts and thinking more about what I eat, finding comfortable clothes (yoga style waistband maxi skirts and knit tops ftw!) that feel good and look good are what make me feel good in my body, even though I still have issues with my midsection.

    1. Lizzy, you are correct in that men have appearance issues, as well. My husband is one. But statistically, women are the majority.

  17. I'm not sure if I found MollyBCounseling through you, but I've been following her for a while now. I love the message that she promotes. I share her stuff all the time on my page and I hope the message gets through to my people, many of whom are struggling with their self images.

    This is one of my current favorites: "Where did we ever get the idea that we’re supposed to look the same for years and decades on end?? Who said this?? This isn’t helpful!⁣

    The sooner we can come to accept that our bodies are constantly changing, the sooner we can liberate ourselves from unrealistic expectations and pressure to be like an inanimate object that doesn’t age, change, wrinkle, or dimple. ⁣

    Beating yourself up for weight change?⁣
    I don’t know how else to say this but this isn’t the last time your weight is going to change. It may go up, it may go down. It won’t stay the same.⁣

    You’re better off focusing this energy on appreciating the body you’ve been gifted and its functionality. What does your body allow you to do? What can it do without you even thinking about it? A beating heart and breathing lungs are pretty cool."

  18. Please Jen, never stop your DIY portion of epbot. Even if it's not my fandom or interest, I always love reading it. Your narrative and descriptions are fantastic and make me want to pick up a glue gun and sander!

  19. Do that washi tape feather craft but use a straightened out twist tie (those extra long ones that come around charging cables and such are particularly good) and then you can pose/bend the feather afterwards even better.

    (I read this and thought of the twist tie trick later, came to comment it and inadvertently left it on the wrong post. So I've deleted that comment there and moved it here! Whoops, that's what I get for not paying attention.)


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