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]




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.


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? 


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:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Jen's Gems: A Harry Potter Stitch-Along, The Dark Crystal Necklace, & Disney Villain Wreaths You MUST See!

I like to save up my favorite finds online until I have a nice big batch to throw at you, ninja confetti style. 

So hey, having a bad day? 

BOOM, look at this:

That's by Stephanie Pokorny of Crochetverse, who isn't nearly old enough to be a granny, and who crochets a new costume every year for her kids!

The Alien has glow-in-the-dark yarn, and Skeletor has LED eyes. Amazing. Go check out Stephanie's site for loads more costumes, photos, and patterns!


I stumbled across the most amazing sticker over on Instagram:


Then I discovered the creator, 8BitZombie, also has this fabulousness:

If you're a child of the 80s like me then these are probably hitting you right in the nostalgia, haha. They're big stickers, too, about 4 inches tall. You can buy the set for $8 on their website, OR, you can get either design on a t-shirt!

Head to the 8BitZombie store to see the rest of their retro goodies.


Have you ever heard of a stitch-along? It's a cross-stitch thing. I only ask because my friend Stewart has created the most magical stitch-along project EVER. It's Harry Potter themed, and it's a choose your own adventure! You fill in the pattern bit by bit with all sorts of personalized elements reflecting your time at Hogwarts. (Stewart tells me there are around 165 different elements to choose from - and he designed every one himself!)

Everything is top secret for now except the pattern frame, but just THAT has me swooning:

This is gonna be amazing, you guys.

If you want to join in head over to Stewart's site Cunning Cross Stitch for all the material lists and instructions. You can also join Stewart's Facebook group to chat with your fellow stitchers! This is all FREE, by the way. (Did I mention Stewart is a saint?) The next part of the pattern doesn't drop 'til January 1st, so you have plenty of time to catch up!

There's an art series going around of the Disney Princesses as witches, and I'm officially smitten:

Art by Mahou Shoujo

Go check out her account, because she's done all the princesses (Merida is especially fantastic), and they're all SO GOOD. I'm showing you these three, though, because... [drum roll, please]...

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Haunted Mansion Scavenger Hunt: Free Downloadable Party Game!

Here's a fiendishly delightful Halloween activity for my fellow Dizgeeks: a Haunted Mansion scavenger hunt! This is an easy one you can put together for kids or adults alike, though you could always modify the clues to make them harder.

John and I made a short version of this for a friend's birthday a few weeks ago, and I had such a blast putting it together I thought I'd expand on it and write more all-purpose clues, so you can make your own hunts, too!

First let me show you our finished products, since they turned out so pretty:

We made all this with things we already had on hand; just gift boxes and black card stock and Cricut vinyl. I even had the ribbon, since I bought that years ago for my Haunted Mansion wreath, but never ended up using it!

I put the first clue in a gift box, so when Karen opened her "gift" she saw this:

Open the bat wings, and:

Ta-daaa! The first clue.

The rest of her clues led her around the house to things like our Figment (for "imagination") and our set of Harry Potter books.

 You can see we made extensive use of our Cricut, which makes me happy, since I finally feel like we're using it enough to justify the cost! John did the gift tag decal, look how lovely:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Halloween DIY: It's The Stay Puft Pumpkin Man!

I've seen 2 or 3 Stay Puft pumpkins floating around online, and knew THIS was my year to finally make my own. My only concern was spending a small fortune on fake pumpkins, since lets face it, those things are PRICEY.

John and I went pumpkin bargain hunting, and eventually found everything we needed at Walmart for about $30. So not super cheap, but worth it if you're a big Ghostbusters fan like me.

Here's what you'll need to collect from the Walmart pumpkin aisle:

 The largest pumpkin is $10, the medium is $5, and the 8 small ones are $1 each. Then there's a bag of mini pumpkins for $3. We also bought a few sheets of colored felt.

You'll also need some long wooden skewers (yes, the kind you roast marshmallows on! Appropriate, yes?), white spray paint, hot glue, a little stuffing for the hat, and some craft paint. 

I also used a little stretchy white fabric for the hat, but you can use white felt instead.

In two nights we'd turned our pumpkin pile into the world's most huggable Halloween decoration:

LOOK HOW CUTE. My sweet marshmallow boy!! 

Isn't he adorable? Every time I pick him up I have to hug him, haha.

Once you have all the right pumpkin sizes, putting Stay Puft together is pretty simple:

First figure out how you want to stack his arms and legs.

Then skewer the smaller pumpkins on your wooden sticks, and jam them into the body. For extra strength - and to prevent them from spinning - add a dab of hot glue between each pumpkin.

Put the "hands" & "feet" on just partway, so the skewer doesn't poke through the opposite side.

Now, I hate sewing, so I cheated with the hat. All I did was wrap a square of white fabric around a little stuffing, tie it shut with string, and trim off the excess fabric:

Boom. A hat.

Well, not quite; it still needs the brim. For that I covered a strip of cardboard with blue felt: 

... and twisted the brim into a circle, hot-gluing it shut. 

Finally I hot-glued the brim in place around my white fabric pouch.

NOW it's a hat.

I used the rest of my blue felt - and a little red - to make his little sailor collar:

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Panicky Scaredy-Cat Goes To Halloween Horror Nights 2019: A Ghostbusters Love Story

The second the Ghostbusters teaser dropped for this year's Halloween Horror Nights, I knew I was in trouble.

See, I love Ghostbusters. LOVE IT. The original film is one of those classics I could watch every day. I quote it too much, collect Stay Puft figures, and generally geek out at any reference to the franchise I can find.

I'm also a scaredy cat who can't handle horror, never watches scary movies, and who has often said you couldn't drag me kicking and screaming into any kind of haunted house, much less the dreaded Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. I've seen the commercials, k? That stuff is SCARY.

I thought I had a solution with Universal's "Behind the Screams" Tour, which takes you through their Haunted Houses with the lights on. Perfect! No scares! But then after purchasing tickets I learned the GB house wasn't included in our tour - and besides, with no "scare actors" in the house, it was really just a lifeless shell of backdrops. 


(Another thing you should know about me: I have generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. I think I'm managing them well, but they make theme park rides and new experiences a challenge.)

So when HHN opened for media previews I was online eagerly waiting for every scrap of information, every photo, every shaky walk-through video. Everything I saw filled me with such intense delight that I knew.

I knew I had to try.

So I told John to buy tickets, and began my preparations.

First, I went on FB and asked our local friends to join us. The biggest challenge with my anxiety is long queues, so I need lots of distractions to get me through the wait. Talking with friends is amazing for this.

Next I watched walk-through videos of every Scare Zone in the park, as well as the two houses I wanted to visit: Ghostbusters (my main goal) & Stranger Things in case I was feeling extra brave.

I had about 10 days to prep, so every night I began practicing Exposure Therapy by imagining myself in each Scare Zone and House: walking through, being startled, but remaining calm and confident at every turn. Exposure Therapy is usually done by actually placing yourself IN a situation, little by little, but you'd be amazed how well it can work by simply imagining it. Especially since those of us with anxiety tend to have unusually vivid imaginations. 

For the day of, I packed ear plugs and Xanax, to keep my stimulus level down.

My final step that day was to wear the clothing that makes me feel the most confident: my convention gear. GB tee, jeans, a low hat, my holster bag, and even my DSLR slung over my shoulder. I told myself I was just going to another convention, and geared up like this, I almost believed it.

Well, gang, it all went down Wednesday night. I went to my first ever Halloween Horror Nights.

Doctor Evil voice: "La-ZERS!"

And I had SO. MUCH. FUN.

The first queue was the hardest, but I had my friend Traci there to talk to, plus I took a precautionary Xanax to keep the panic down. After an hour of shuffling through the long queue we turned a corner and heard the Ghostbusters theme song playing, and this huge grin split my face. Vibrating with excitement and nerves, it was all I could do to shakily shove some earplugs in my ears before we were ushered though an unassuming door into the Ghostbusters House.

It was... AMAZING. Hang on, more details on that in a sec.

My original plan was to see the Ghostbuster house, MAYBE Stranger Things, and then leave while it was still light out.

After our first Ghostbusters run several more friends arrived to keep us company, though, and with their help John and I wandered through all the scare zones - often with me leading the pack - saw the themed shops, went back for MORE Ghostbusters, did the Strangers Things House, saw the Lagoon Show, and finally closed out the whole event at 1AM with one final tour of Ghostbusters.
Look at all the Stay Pufts!


I never panicked once, though I was definitely startled 4 or 5 times. In the Scare Zones I kept my head up and a grin on my face, knowing that even if someone did manage to startle me, they would immediately move on. There are no lingering creepy types, it's all very much a "hit-and-run" sort of scare. Plus the two front Scare Zones are actually quite pretty! One is Arcade themed with lots of neon and black light:

 ... and the other is the "Vanity Ball" where models in creepy couture walk the runway.

Pin Sale! Get Your Fresh Epbot Pins, Right Here!

Hi there! We have 18 choices for your pin packs today:

We've added a new BB-bot and Scoops Ahoy 'bot, as well as 2 new colors for the FOE buttons. (FOE stands for "Fans of Epbot," our fan-run Facebook community.)

Each pin pack contains five 1.25 inch pins, and because we make these to order, you can choose any combination of these designs, including multiples. So if you want 5 BB-bots, hey, you can have 5 BB-bots. ::MWAH::

Each pack comes in an orange gift envelope packaged inside a bubble mailer.

We've included shipping & handling in the pricing to make this a little easier, so one pack is $15, 2 packs are $26, and 3 packs are $37. Again that's including shipping, but only within the U.S.

I'm sorry to say we are NOT offering international shipping this round, so U.S. orders only, please.

To purchase, just select how many packs you want from the drop down button below the Paypal button, then - and here's the important part -  type your 5 pin selections into the text box.

I know the text box is small, so to make THAT easier, you can order your pins by number:

If you want multiples of a certain design, type out "three 18s, two 7s" etc. If that gets too confusing, feel free to leave a comment on this post to type out your order selection.


Choose Quantity
Put your pin choices here!

It will take me and John a good 4 days to finish making, packaging, and shipping all your pin packs, so you should start receiving your packs in 7-10 days. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments.

Thanks, gang! And stay tuned for a real blog post later tonight. :)