Thursday, November 28, 2019

Our Labyrinth Wall Illusion Entrance - And The Trick To Building Your Own!

John and I are in full Panicked Party Production mode, and it's starting to pay off! Considering how we claimed this would be a smaller-scale party than last year's, it's kind of amazing how much the house is slowly transforming. 

Our biggest and most impressive build so far is our Labyrinth wall entrance, which allows people to walk through a solid wall the way Sarah did in the movie. We're super excited about this thing, because it turned out so much better than we imagined! John's even been going around showing random cashiers videos of it on his phone, lol.

Here, have a look:




We took a risk adding those extra 3D bricks, since they may have spoiled the illusion a tiny bit - so here's a look at the wall before we added them:

 
 
I like the extra bricks too much to take them off again, but you can see they really aren't necessary.

Ah, but it gets even better when someone walks through it!

Monday, November 25, 2019

It's Finally Time

The busy season is upon us, gang, and I'm behind on all the fun stuff I still have to share with you -  but today, it's check-in time.

See, I've been posting a lot of "up" things lately: crafts and Disney and silly stuff - all of which I love - but you should always remember I'm still a panicky agoraphobe foundering through life the best I can. If you ever start to think I DO have all my stuff together, then please tell me so I can remind you I'm terrified of Spaceship: Earth, cry in front of mirrors, and feel like a big ol' failure about 65% of the time.

So while I've had some awesome panic victories the past couple months by going to Halloween Horror Nights, and I'm having a blast with all our crafts and party projects, I'm still really struggling with the fallout from my big scare with John last August. This is a totally new kind of fear for me, and I'll be honest, I haven't been coping well.

Even with John on a CPAP, I've found myself starting awake multiple times a night to obsessively check that he's still breathing. At one point our sleep schedules became comically mismatched, as I'd stay awake later and later to keep an eye on him. Over time I *think* I'm doing better, but I'll be fine one second, then seized with this awful terror the next, and have to fight off the urge to grab John and shake him awake.

With my agoraphobia and GAD I've always had a clear battle plan in mind: I know what steps to take to weather a panic attack, and I know how to practice Exposure Therapy to treat my agoraphobia. But this? This I have no battle plan for. How do you combat the fear of a loved one dying? A fear that seems so perfectly rational?

I don't know, but I'm tired - so tired - of being this afraid.
I always encourage you guys to seek professional help when you're feeling out of your depth, and these past months I've realized I'm there. I've gotten as far as I can on my own with my mental health, it's time to bring in reinforcements.

I won't lie; it took me a while to make the call. It took me even longer to tell John. Not because I was afraid he'd think less of me, but because I knew he'd go and make the appointment for me if I tried to put it off any longer.

Which he did, ha.

I'm now three weeks in with my new therapist, and I wish I could tell you it's been a miracle cure, or that I've had some mind-blowing revelations, but that's not the case. What I can tell you is my therapist is genuinely kind and encouraging and sort of a warm glow to bask in. We're still getting to know each other, still working our way towards the things I don't want to talk about, but most need to. That's OK; I went in knowing this is a long-term, slow-moving treatment, not a quick fix.

It also didn't hurt that for my very first appointment she had kittens in the office.


This was John's reward for driving me: squirmy kitty snuggles.

  Even though I feel better now regarding John, and I'm sleeping through the night again, I've been rattled enough to realize my mental health needs bolstering. I need better tools for next time - because life is hard, and of course there will be a "next time." So I'm doing this. I'm committing to this.

***

Last Sunday one of my oldest friends from middle school, Tim, called at 7AM. His father, our friend for 20 years and one of my favorite people, was suddenly gone. They'd had just 3 days' warning.

This week at the funeral Tim regaled us with stories to make us laugh, somehow comforting all of US instead of the other way 'round. Their house was packed full to bursting from people of all walks of life, the entire community touched by his Dad's generosity and charity work and that ever-present sparkle in his eye - the one that meant he was about to crack a joke. I left that night a jumble of grief and gratitude, and a renewed sense of purpose. I don't want to be afraid, but I also don't want to take my time here for granted. I want to be of use, to be a comfort, to point a light.

I want to remind you that you are loved. 

Incredibly, overwhelmingly, and joyfully loved.

So if you're floundering, too, or if you've had hard times in the past where you know you didn't cope well, then will you consider taking this step with me? I don't want to go alone. Make the call. Ask for help. Check your insurance, just in case. Commit to your own self-care, so you can shine a light. too. You don't have to be in a crisis, and you don't have to have anything specifically "wrong" to see a therapist. Obviously I'm new to all this, but I'm pretty sure therapy can be a form of preventative care, which we could probably all use this time of year!

And finally, if you're willing, and feeling VERY brave, will you do one more thing for me?

Will you publicly tell me if you've ever been in therapy? Even if it's anonymously. Just tell me here in the comments or over on Facebook.

Because, you see, this post is how I'm telling my family. This is how I'm telling my friends. Until this very moment, no one in my life has known except John.

So it'd be nice if, when all my family and friends see this, they could also see it's not just me. It'd be nice if they could see therapy isn't something to be ashamed of, or an admission of weakness, because look at these other people willing to talk about it, too.

I already love you guys, but if you'll do this for me, I'll love you that much more. 


****

I'll end with the tiny bit of craftiness we brought to the funeral: 

We bought the pitcher to use as a vase, and now I wish all vases had handles; so much easier for car trips!



Here's to bringing a little bit of sweetness to people who are hurting.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Disney's Dapper Day, Fall 2019: Christmas & Star Wars!

Ahhh, you guys, last weekend here in Florida was the weekend we wait all year for. It was actually chilly! Even better, it was Dapper Day and chilly!

THIS NEVER HAPPENS.

More good news: Saturday's Dapper Day was back at Hollywood Studios, which is my favorite park for this event. It's small enough that you can find almost everyone, and there are plenty of vintage-style backdrops around the streets for photos:
 
 
Those glasses are perfect for his C3P0 'bound.

Not to mention all the vintage-style Christmas decorations around DHS, which complemented the Dappers beautifully:

Looove this green velvet.

 Hang on, let me back up to before I even entered the park, and the group I look for every Dapper Day:
 

 Aren't they wonderful? You might recognize some of these folks from my previous Dapper posts; they always pull out all the stops. I was behind them in the security line, and after we pulled over for a photo Dahlia (on the right) admitted she'd been whispering to the group that John and I were behind them, ha. It's always sweet when folks recognize us!

One more to show off her matching bag:


Oof. Dapper goals, y'all.  

Here comes another fantastic group:

Those pinstripe suits! The violin case bag! I swoon.

OK, so this is important: Fall Dapper Days are better than Spring Dapper Days for two reasons:


1) Cooler temperatures
2) CHRISTMAS DAPPERS
I spotted so many merry Christmas looks, and every one made my tinsel-loving heart oh-so-happy.

These two were a delight - and what a lucky spot for the background:

Monday, November 18, 2019

The BB-Björn: Our Custom Droid Carrier For Disney's Galaxy's Edge!

Ever make something just for pun?

(That's not a typo.)

I only ask because that's how our BB-Björn droid carrier came to be! As soon as I made the joke to John, we knew we had to make one.

 
And so we did.

(Yes, that's a pacifier in the droid's "mouth." We do know how to amuse ourselves - which you can probably tell by my "Quick take the picture before I crack up" face.)

Best of all, we then got to take our BB-Björn for a spin at Disney's Galaxy's Edge!
  
 
 (This was back in September, so it was still 90 degrees and sweltering.)

 

 

 Please note John's incredible decal:
See how BB's Mickey ears are the umlaut over the O? John is especially proud of that part.

Puns aside, this is actually a handy DIY if you're planning to visit Galaxy's Edge, because get this: the droids you build there are interactive with the land! So of course you'll want an easy way to carry your droid where you can see it. 

To be fair, Disney does sell custom backpacks for their droids, but they're not very exciting looking, and they cost a whopping $70:

Friday, November 15, 2019

My Cat Pees Standing Up, And It's Becoming A (Hilariously) Real Problem

I'm was supposed to write a fun craft post today, but nope. HERE WE ARE.

So there I was, eating breakfast, anticipating a nice big slice of banana bread for dessert, when I happened to glance down the length of our kitchen into the laundry room. There I watched Eva, our resident house panther and my furry heart of hearts, hop into the litter box just out of view. What was NOT out of view, however, was the record-setting arc of cat pee that came jetting out of her at an impossible height, soaking the mat, the floor, and for all I know the opposite wall nearly 6 feet away.

I leapt out of my seat, "No, Eva! Squat! SQUAT, DARN YOU!!" 

Rushing over, I found Eva standing proudly erect, tail high, and looking behind her at her STILL gushing stream with what can only be described as gleeful abandon. 

I swear she was aiming, you guys.

Her 10 gallon bladder now expended all over my laundry room floor, Eva daintily hopped out of the box, deftly skirting the encroaching flood, and pranced away.



This is the face my soul made.


So here's the thing: Eva has ALWAYS peed standing up. Our theory is she lost her mom and litter mates so young that she just never learned how to Cat properly. (If you're new here, our neighbor found 4-week-old Eva on the highway.) 

 She was so tiny!

Looking at old kitten pictures to remind myself she's worth it...


Our solution until recently has been to put a lid on the litter box. That mostly worked, but A) the pee still leaked out the seams on the side, and B) she'd pee on the door flap, which she and her sister had to push through to leave again. Ew.

The deal breaker, though, was when her sister Suki got a UTI and discovered she could pee somewhere outside the pee-soaked litter box. Like the door mat. Or our bed.

Even after the UTI was gone, Suki was ruining doormat after doormat (we learned to keep our bedroom door closed). We decided the closed litterbox was perhaps too small for Suki's sensibilities and gigantic Fluff Butt, so maybe that was the problem.

This is when she stole a marshmallow. Look how proud she is, lol.

Exhibit A of the Fluff Butt. As you can see, it is quite large. (Her tail almost never fits all the way in the box, which is a visual TREAT, let me tell you.)



We tried cutting off the very top of the litter box lid to give the girls a skylight, but it didn't seem to help Suki's situation. So we took the lid off again, but left the high walls on that come with a Cat Genie. (The cats love the Genie, and often race to use it first after it cleans, so we're pretty confident the box itself isn't the issue.)

With the lid off Suki is back to using the box full time now, and the higher walls help with Eva's floor irrigation, but here's the on-going problem: the litter box walls dip down at the entry point:


See?


So of course, guess which way Eva aims.

ARRRG.

So now we're thinking John will have to  build some kind of giant funnel to attach to our litter box, probably using the coated bathroom paneling you can get at the hardware store. Unless one of you knows how to teach a cat to squat? And if we DO build a funnel, what do we do about the doorway?

File this under "Things I Never Thought I'd Be Asking 20,000 Strangers On The Internet".

I joked with John that we could try teaching Eva to use the toilet in his bathroom, and the mental image of her perched on a toilet seat and rotating sprinkler-head-style had us cry-laughing. Pretty sure that'd be like teaching a kid not to play with matches by giving her a flame-thrower.

 Yes yes, she's adorable.

Christine McConnell said something profound in her latest video that I think is appropriate to end with here: 

"Cats ruin everything, but they make the world better."

 Words for all cat owners to live by.

Watch this space for the Giant Pee Funnel Build! Woo Woo!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a floor to wash. Again.

Oh, but first: tell me the most ridiculous way your pet has ruined something in the comments! I figure if the story can make someone laugh, then it's not a TOTAL loss, right?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dressed To The 9 3/4s 2019: Stepping Out For Universal's Potter-Themed Dapper Day

Last weekend John and I strutted our 'Puff at Dressed To The 9 3/4s, a fan-run event at Universal that's basically Dapper Day, only Wizarding World themed. You've heard me rave about this event for the last two years, so buckle up; I'm about to rave some more. :D

(I really love this shirt & skirt I found last-minute on Amazon, I'll link them in my Lists for you guys! They're both stretchy and SUPER comfy, but still flattering, I think.)

 

The official 9 3/4s meetup times were earlier this year, so we missed ALL of them, ha. Happily the weather was so nice that nearly everyone stuck around, though, so I was able to find plenty of dapper witches and wizards over the rest of the afternoon.

Cmon, I'll show you some of my favorites!

I know Aleta (on the left) from photographing her at Dragon Con, where her steampunk cosplays are the stuff of dreams. Love seeing her rocking blue and bronze - I know some Ravenclaws who will be happy to see this!

On the opposite end of the style spectrum, how about some Rockabilly Professor Sprout vibes?

(Hufflepuff At The Beach)

Eeeee, SO CUTE. I want this whole outfit, but mostly her shoes! (My yellow Chucks are too lemony-bright, I need this shade.)

Here's another fellow 'Puff wearing her wand like a hair stick(!!):


 I love her vest. Actually I love all their vests. Vests rock, we should collectively be wearing more of them.

I'm getting some Viktor Krum vibes here with the fur collar:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our 2019 Party Theme Revealed! ...And It *MIGHT* Remind You Of Something

Since John and I got so carried away with our Ghostbusters Halloween we're pretty far behind on our Christmas party, which we host in early December. 

Yep, we've only got a month to go. EVERYBODY PANIC.

Not only that, we've decided we're not doing a Harry Potter theme this year. (I KNOW WHAT) I'm sure we'll return to the Wizarding World in the future, but I wanted to try a different fandom this year, just to shake things up and give myself some new crafting options.

Are you ready for this?

[DEEP BREATH]
Here we go:


Aww yeeeeeah.

 If you've been with me a while then this is no surprise; I've been talking about a Labyrinth Christmas tree for years

The problem with such an obscure theme, of course, is that we have to make everything from scratch. Unlike Harry Potter, you can't run to the mall and pick up ready-made stockings or ornaments. (Plus do you know how expensive fake peaches are? REALLY DARN EXPENSIVE.)

Still, I'm trying to approach this year's party with a little more silliness and a lot less perfectionism, and just focus on doing what we can in a month while still having fun with it. Our Halloween builds reminded me just how fun crafting can be when you have zero expectations or pressures, so fingers crossed this new theme will help me realize I don't have to keep out-doing myself every year.

Plus, c'mon. A Labyrinth themed Christmas party? That's just BEGGING to be ridiculous.

So yes, we're absolutely turning our bathroom into the Bog of Eternal Stench, and we'll have a goblin-themed Christmas tree decorated with tiny pieces of armor and chicken feathers, and there will hopefully be games like "Pin The Leg On The Firey." Anything that makes me and John laugh is up for consideration, so if you have an idea, tell me in the comments!

We've started making some iconic elements from the Labyrinth, so let me walk you through some of our early failures and successes.

First, the failure:


It was around this point that I realized I'd made a tinfoil Sonny Eclipse:
Ha! Whoops.

I kept plugging away, though:

 Hopefully you recognize him more now?

Then my friend Karen came over and helped me start covering him in clay.

 I decided to try out Model Magic clay, since I'd heard good things, but this was a huge mistake. It doesn't blend very well, and it's impossible to carve since it has a rubbery foam texture.

 After a few hours of refining and smoothing Karen & I got it to look like this:

 .. which isn't terrible, but there were some definite problems with my ear placement, and the muzzle. Mostly, though, it was just still very lumpy.

Then I read online that the Model Magic was going to crack, and crack very badly. 

Drat.

The issue is this: any air dry clay will crack if applied over a rigid internal structure like tin foil. And sure enough, by the next day deep cracks were appearing all over the knocker's face.

So John and I consulted a ton of people, both online and at our local Reynolds Supply, and have started over with a new game plan:

 
 John projected the knocker to scale on pink insulation foam, and then we traced and cut out 3 layers to build up the internal structure. This should cut down on the amount of clay I'll need to finish it off.

After this I'll be using Foam Mo, another foam-like clay that I'm *told* will not crack, because it stays extra flexible after it dries.

If that doesn't work, then my Plan C is to go back to an epoxy dough. The dough is SUPER soft and terrible for sculpting, though, so I'm hoping the Foam Mo comes through. I'll keep you guys posted in my Stories!


 Now on to some successes:



 John and I've each had our own projects this week - can you already guess what they are?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Dragon Con 2019: My Final Flash Portraits!

After taking October off for Important Halloween Things, I'm back with my final batch of Dragon Con portraits!

And you know, since this was my first year really getting into Halloween - and therefore being kinda sad when it was over - it's nice to jump right back into costumes and spooky/silliness. For cosplayers and convention-goers, Halloween lasts all year. ;)

Let's start off with a little spooky:

Hmm, Billy and Eleven? Well, Stranger Things have happened.

:D

(These two were completely in character, btw. El kept telling him his mother was pretty while he staggered around. Amazing.)


This Nott was JAW-DROPPING, so many great details!


Hard to see in this photo, but she even had sculpted goblin feet!

(Hey Critters, anyone else watching UnDeadwood? Because I am loving it!! I'm trying to get John to watch it, since it's a stand-alone story even non-fans can appreciate. I will say the language is especially R-rated [even by CR standards], but dang it's a fun ride.)

Right, back to these two Doctor Jones:

Aren't they perfect? You can practically hear him saying, "Junior?"

Ohhh, you guys, here comes one of my best shots of the whole con - and it was pure luck with the timing:

We're in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds during this shot, and he was rapidly fluttering the fan scarf back and forth. This was my FIRST TRY with the flash. We tried it a few more times after this and couldn't even come close!

(This is Link wearing a Gerudo outfit from the Zelda games, btw, which took me way too long with Google to figure out, lol.)

It's hard to follow up a shot like that, but Gomez and Morticia do it in a snap (or two):

They're mysterious AND ooky. Bravo.

Which reminds me: just last week MGM uploaded 14 full episodes of the original Addams Family series to Youtube! I think it's a promotional stunt to advertise their newest animated Addams Family movie. Anyway, John and I watched a couple the other day, and the original show is a friggin' DELIGHT. I highly recommend Lurch Learns to Dance


Speaking of delightful original series, check out this classic 'Trek couple!


I love Andorian makeup, it's such a pretty color combo - and their blues match!

My friend Alexie always blow my mind with her handmade and hand-beaded dresses. Here she is as Colette from Dumbo, and she literally started this entire cosplay TWO WEEKS before Dragon Con:


If you go to her account you can see the rest of the pictures I took of her, since I took quite a few, ha. Here are two more of my favorites, though:

Saturday, November 2, 2019

We Came, We Saw, We Ran Out Of Candy

Ohhh, you guys. What a Halloween!! 

First a shout-out to the fact that I've been vacuuming around a Thestral in our front room for the last 2 weeks.

It was 90 degrees and absolutely sweltering as we set everything up around 5:30 Thursday night. 


Then we packed up the group:

 

... got a grip, came equipped:


 ... and then, we waited.

 

I think the heat kept everyone inside a little longer this year, because it was a slow start. We spent the time taking pictures of each other & taking turns going inside to cool off. (And also showering with bug spray. Ahhh, FLORIDA.)


Oh yeah, my headgear lights up!

Then, a little while after sunset, and almost all at once, WE WERE OVERRUN.