Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Introducing "TapStick" - The Gruesome DIY That Will Push All Your Buttons

You ever get an idea that is so wrong, but also super funny, so you have to inflict it on other people?

That's the only explanation I have for what I'm about to show you.

Well, that and John and I sometimes have to leave the house and get in elevators, or type in security codes at drive-up gates, and I figured we needed a better solution than using our elbows - which is especially tricky at drive-up gates.

In fact, it was when John was fishing an old McDonald's receipt off the car floor to use to tap in another code that I first mused, "We should really make some kind of pokey stick for pushing buttons. Like a sacrificial finger. Yup. A spare sacrificial finger." ::snerk::

John, clearly stunned by my brilliance, said nothing.

"But with a cap on it so it doesn't spread the germs around," I continued. "And it'd have to be purse-sized, and kinda spy-gadgety to make it fun. But also super disturbing to freak out any people nearby, because that would be hee-larious. Hmm."

More silence.

"I'VE GOT IT!!"

And now, a few weeks and far too many attempts later, here it is. Move over, ChapStick, here comes... TapStick.  

OH YES I DID

 
(We also debated calling it "TipStick", but that sounds more like a wang than a finger - and wang lipsticks already exist, because of course they do.)

 

The retractable finger sensation that's squicking out the nation!

 Just imagine pulling out one of these bad boys the next time you're in an elevator. Or at an ATM. Or when you just want to give someone the finger.

 

  
Available in 5 awesome colors that are sure to be real nail-biters:

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Fractious Cats, Rampaging Figments, & THE QUEEN IS COMING

Some days you're the calm, cool, collected vet tech, other days you're the fractious cat:


Admit it, you needed this laugh today. :p

*****

And for the days you like to imagine yourself gleefully stomping buildings:


One little spark
Of devastation
Is the fun part
Of imagining burning it all down because COME ON 2020 CAN'T WE SKIP HURRICANE SEASON JUST THIS ONCE? ...Please?

;)

****

I've had so many of you recommend the new She-Rah to me that I immediately thought of y'all when I spotted Sami Bess' cosplay:


She also does an incredible Xena!
Give her a follow for more.


*****

I've been following Sky since she made her jaw-dropping Spaceship Earth dress, and she just unveiled her latest Disney park icon:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July Art Roundup: Ludo The Knocker, Yzma The Kitty, & A Baby Snow Leopard That Made Me Screech SO LOUD

You know, I actually intended to go to less conventions this year... just not THIS MANY less. Ha. Ha. ::sob::

One thing that's brought me so much joy during my con-free summer, though, is finding new artists on Instagram. I'm always searching hashtags and looking for new accounts, which fills the Artist Alley void in my life. So here come 7 of my favorite new artists I've found this month!


Christina Marie Rodriquez only has about 800 followers, and let me tell you: it's such a thrill finding talented artists with a criminally low following, like finding secret treasure. :D Especially since I know you bots will overwhelm her with some Friendly FOE love once you see this:

Figment!


And, c'mon, just look at her Ludo:

SO SWEET.

(Psst, Christina, any chance you have a Blue Worm in the works? Asking for a friend. Who is me.)

She has lots of great sticker options, too:

 

Head to Christina's Etsy shop for $4 mini-prints, $3 stickers, & more. (She also has an Yzma and Pete's Dragon, ermergersh.


*****

Puffy Gator - aka Nana Qi - is much more well-known, but new to me! She's done some of the official art for Magic: The Gathering, and her account is full of sweet beasts like these:

Turtle Duck! Remember these from Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Friday, July 24, 2020

Video Tutorial: These Foam Face Masks Are Better, Stronger, Comfier, Cuter

After my foam mask tutorial last month I kept looking for ways to improve the design, because I knew the permanent fabric filters weren't ideal. I was fiddling with a velcro filter that sat on the outside of the foam frame right around the time my friend Traci posted her own upgrade: a full fabric cover that attaches using the existing elastic strap. GENIUS!

I immediately set out to make my own version, and another friend, Karen, helped me figure out the fabric template. So huge thanks and kudos to both Traci and Karen for helping me improve the original design. 

Here's how the new masks look:

Can I just say how excited I was to find a galaxy print at our local JoAnn's, when most of the cute fabrics were all sold out? Awww yeeeeah.


 This uses the exact same foam frame as before, so don't despair if you've already made some! I'll explain more in the video:


 [Quick correction: I use 1/8 inch elastic cord, NOT 1/4 inch. Sorry!]

Or, if you don't have 25 minutes to watch me go through this step by step, you're in luck: John also edited a "short short version" to give you the general gist of how this works in under 3 minutes:


Monday, July 20, 2020

Routine Maintenance: 4 Ways I've Reduced My Daily Anxiety By Limiting My Choices

For some of you, life is a choose-your-own-adventure candy store: the more options, the better.

But for a lot of us - and especially those of us with anxiety or other mental health struggles - too many choices are not only overwhelming, they make us absolutely miserable.

I was reminded of this when a photographer I follow on Instagram talked about how he "cheats indecision" by wearing a simple green shirt every day. One less choice each day = less stress. (Here's his video, if you want to check it out.)

I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but I've found this approach helps IMMENSELY when you're overwhelmed or just short on mental energy. You know, like during a global pandemic. In fact, for the last year or more I've been consciously limiting my choices in most areas of my daily life, so I can save my energy for more important things. As I result I have less internal paralysis (we've all hit that wall where we can't make even the simplest decisions, right?) and more focus and time to give the rest of my day.

Want some examples? Suuuure you do. So here come 4 everyday decisions I've found to be the most draining, and how I've learned to side-step them to save my spoons.

First, let's start with the Big One, and my first successful experiment in limiting choices:

- What I Eat

Discovering the Low FODMAP diet was my first step down this path, since it automatically took a bunch of options off the table. For over a year I ate the exact same thing for breakfast: a microwave egg bowl from Aldi. Was it boring? Yes. Did it kill my soul some mornings to eat the same thing AGAIN? So much yes. But it also gave me something wonderful I'd never had before as an adult: a no-brainer way to start my day with adequate food that wouldn't hurt me later. No more staring wide-eyed into the fridge, no more asking myself, "What do I feel like eating?", no more starving myself until my blood sugar tanked because I "just can't deal with this right now" and then later inhaling a pack of stale crackers because it's too late to make "real" food. Suddenly I didn't have to think, I didn't have to decide, and I had something I didn't hate to get me through 'til lunch.



Today I still eat the same breakfast every day, though it's healthier and tastier since I've leveled up to making it myself: two scrambled eggs, fresh cut tomatoes, and a piece of toast. That's not to say I don't make exceptions, because an inflexible routine is just as stressful as NO routine. I still have microwave bowls for low-energy days, or occasionally I'll heat up leftovers. If I stand in front of the fridge for more than 5 seconds trying to decide, though, that's my cue to fall back on The Routine.

Lunch is my weak spot; I'm still figuring out how to best automate that. On bad days I still skip it because I can't decide, and then my blood sugar tanks and I lose the whole rest of the afternoon. Arg. But most days I either heat up leftovers from previous dinners, or John will make us a sandwich.

When it comes to dinner, I'm not being over-dramatic when I say this magnetic menu board I bought last January has changed my life.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

4 Of The Best New Shows We're Watching On Netflix

I'm behind on all the stuff I want to share with you guys, but I've reached the point with my current post where I keep writing and re-writing and then deleting the whole thing to start over. By the 5th day of this, as I grimly entered my office to try again, John gently suggested (from a safe distance, ha) that I take a break and maybe tell you guys what we've been watching on TV, instead?

I scowled at first, but then I realized I could be fangirling over my new favorite show with you guys. AWW YEEEEEAH. In fact, I'm not even saving it for last, I'm starting with it, boo. Here 'tis, the dark horse that won my heart, the scream-worthy, eminently bingeable, completely ridiculous thrill ride with the best sets EVER:

 The Floor Is Lava.

Y'all. Y'ALL. Watch this show the next time you're super grumpy and need a distraction to cheer you up. I promise it will suck you in, make you laugh, and eventually have you yelling from the edge of the couch like a diehard sportsball fan.


The concept is simple: Teams of 3 have to cross a large room without falling into the surprisingly realistic "lava." The sets are what really make the show, although the snarky narrator/host adds to the overall enjoyment, too. This is perfect to watch with your kids, or in a group; the more people yelling and cheering at the screen, the better!

My only complaint is that they spoil us by debuting a brand new set every episode for the first 6 shows, and then go back and revisit each "room" with only 2 teams instead of 3. So really I'm just complaining there's not more of this to watch, because I WANT MORE. Please go watch it so Netflix will order season two.

*****

It's hard to follow that up, but Netflix is doing a great job with their reality shows lately. For you foodies, I highly recommend:

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Squid Lamps, Toad TVs, & Circus Peanut Salad

 It's time for another edition of Fun Stuff That's Come Through My Feed Lately (FSTCTMFL)!!


 Sharalee Armitage Howard is a librarian in Idaho who turned a rotting old tree stump into a magical little free library:

Gaspity gasp, y'all. GASPITY GASP.

Here's another angle:

 You can see more of the details here on My Modern Met. (The little squares over the door are miniature wooden books!)

*****

Over on the Replica Prop Forum, Frankie Desmond shared the sweetest replica of all:

 "Oh, bother."



Desmond made his very own Winnie-the-Pooh, styled after the movie Christopher Robin! (If you haven't seen that movie, btw, it's like the gentlest warm hug. Highly recommended for bad panic days.)

You can follow Desmond's other replica and cosplay builds on his page here - and he might still be taking commissions for Pooh, so be sure to ask if you're looking to order one of your own.


*****

Do you have an old lava lamp lying around? Because this is awesome:

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

New Video Tutorial: Drywall Patching 101

It's been ages since John and I made a home improvement video, but here comes the one that was most requested last year during our renovation blitz: drywall repair

 ::Dun Dun DUNNNNN:: 

::blood-curdling scream::

My friend Corey had a household intercom system he wanted removed, and that meant 5 big holes to patch. So of course we volunteered. What better way to perfect a new skill than by practicing on your unsuspecting friends' walls? :D



::sounds of destruction ensue::

:D

John and I've always said drywall is our Achilles' heel, but since we're also too cheap to hire a pro, we've had to just keep trying over the years. Not to brag, but now I think we've gotten pretty darn OK at it. So this time I had John film me doing every step of one particular patch in Corey's master bedroom (where we could shut the door so I could take down my mask), and then John edited the 3-day process together for you guys. The video is on the long side, but I promise to keep you entertained with helpful tips and frantic faces. (Nearly everything you see is the first - and only - take, and sometimes it shows, bahaha.)

Enjoy:


[ETA: Sorry for the sound issues around the 2-3 minute mark: we left the ceiling fan on so it sounds like I'm in a windstorm, ha.]

Helpful Extras:

- I forgot to mention that if you have a really small area to patch - like less than 3 inches - then instead of cutting a new piece of drywall you can use one of these kits:

It's basically a stick-on piece of tape that you cover with drywall compound. After that you'll follow the same steps I show to wet sand and texture, but this will save you the steps of adding the backer wood & cutting drywall. Be aware the tape in these kits is thicker than regular drywall tape, though, and will leave a raised bump over the entire patch, not just the edges. That means you'll need to feather out the drywall mud much farther to try to hide the bump.


- The mystery drill bit is called a Drywall Screw Setter, and costs less than $3 on Amazon. Definitely worth it when you're working with drywall.


I hope this helps some of you out there! Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see us fix next - maybe something you've been waiting to tackle in your own home?

******

P.S. My t-shirts are from the Epbot Threadless Shop:


You can put all our designs on any color shirt you like, and they are ridiculously soft without being too thin. (I wear geek tees every day, but pulling these on last week to film was heavenly. Ahhhh.) Plus the designs don't wash off or fade like I've had others do in the past!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Awesome, Chow! The Ultimate Hamilton Punny Party Menu, Because This Is The Quality Content You're Here For

You and I've been through a lot over the years, so I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that I've spent the last week thinking up groan-worthy Hamilton food puns. Because it's all about quality and priorities and as many puns as possible here.

And just to give full credit where it's due: I found several of these puns on this 2015 Tumblr post, including the OUTSTANDING jello one, but the rest John and I came up with on our own. So as we prepare for the big Hamilton debut on Disney Plus this Friday (EEEEE!), let's make sure dinner that night includes intellectual intercourse over four sets of courses. And if it's noisy, well, hate the din, love the dinner.

(Oh yes, it's already begun, Ham fam. BUCKLE UP.)

For the Young, Scrappy & Hungry: 
Awesome, Chow!
 Be sure to use the Best of Knives, Best of Linen

Starters:

A Winter's Cheese Ball: 

- Pardon Me, Are You Camembert, Sir?
- How To Say No To Swiss 
- History Has Its Eyes On Blue
- Raise A Glass To Edam
 - Two Pints of Sam Adams and I'm Workin' On Brie


Bake For It (Bake For It!): Rye is inimitable, Rye is an original




Searchin' For A Gerkin That Will Feed You Ideals


"I'm a Kosher baby, you can trust me."


NON-CHOPPED: Why Do These Legumes Seem The Smartest In The Room? 




Main Courses:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

FINALLY: Our Foam Face Mask Template & Tutorial!

Orlando is one of the worst hot spots for Covid right now, which means John and I are still self-quarantining as much as possible - and unbelievably grateful that we're able to work from home. It's definitely not fun anymore, but also a small price to pay to keep our neighbors safe.

And if we have to venture out in public, then we wear face masks.

Of course, being us, we set out to make a better, more comfortable DIY mask option for ourselves.


I'm sure you've noticed most masks aren't super comfortable. The ears straps can hurt, and all that fabric touching your face can feel sweaty and smothering, especially in this summer heat.

So we started working from an N-95 template, which holds the fabric away from your face. After several weeks of adjusting the template to fit and look better, here's what we came up with:

Of course I made it bright pink. WHAT.

 
It's a little beak-ish from the side - or muzzle-ish? Maybe I should paint a dog nose on one, ha.

In case the pink is throwing you, here's John's current favorite: 

Nanananananananananana... BATMAN

The foam frame holds the cotton filters away from your face, so only the very edges of this mask touch your face. It seals below the jawline (at least on me), so it doesn't move around as much or need re-adjustment every time you talk or scrunch your nose. The hidden nose wire helps seal the mask under your eyes and reduces glasses fog.

The metal grommets allow the single elastic strap to slide and tighten easily, while the double-strap design is both comfy and easy to put on and take off. To temporarily remove the mask you can pull the top strap over your head and slide the mask down to rest on your chest, which keeps it clean and close-at-hand. (That's John favorite feature; no more handling a contaminated mask while he's driving.)

Before I share the template with you guys, here comes the giant fine print: Wear these masks at your own risk. I am not a medical professional, and these are certainly not medical grade. And while you can wash these with soap and water or wipe/spritz them with alcohol, I still recommend waiting at least 3 days between wearings. So if you want to wear one of these every day, make at least 4 and cycle through.

There are some optional extra steps that can make these masks even more effective, like doubling up the cotton filters and sealing the foam with Mod Podge as well as heat. So please feel free to tinker and improve upon our design!

Now, LET'S MAKE A MASK.

You will need:

Monday, June 22, 2020

This 1980s Themed "My Little Pony" Party Is Going To Make You Smile SO HARD

 
Epbot reader Meghan turns 40 this week, and her sister-in-law Paula - another one of us - threw her the surprise party to end all surprise parties. Buckle up, you're gonna love this.

Just to introduce you, here's Paula and Meghan at 2018's Dapper Day:

John and I actually got to meet them last year! Though now I wish we'd hung out more, ha. (Ladies? Future date?)
 
They both very sweetly gave me permission to share the following photos & some of Meghan's captions, so get ready to grin.

  Meghan writes, "I turn 40 this week. I didn’t expect anything for my birthday except my family watching Hamilton with me in a couple weeks. No big. Nice, quiet occasion. But inside, I’m 5. I’m remodeling one of the rooms in my house to display all my vintage 80’s toys. Everyone is different, this is me. 

"My mother and SIL conspired to throw me a surprise birthday party for my 40th. It was all ponies, all 80’s, all glorious retro-ness."

Ready to see?
 
 
ERMERGERSH

 
EEEEE
 
Paula made all the big pony cut-outs. Each one is a pony she knew Meghan had as a kid. D'awwwww.

 

 Meghan says this Pony Surprise will live in her office now. Love it.

They even found vintage party decorations from the 80s!
 
(They found a lot of this on Etsy, surprisingly enough.)

  
 This was Meghan's view when she walked in: 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

FINAL REVEAL: The Sherlock Room Over Two Years In The Making!

Just before Covid hit John was finishing up a bunch of custom furniture for our friends' Sherlock-themed living room. I don't think I ever did a final reveal on his fireplace, either, so here it is:

SO COOL, right? 

You can see how John built the faux fireplace here, and how he woodgrained it here. Our version has 2 secret doors and tons of hidden storage, but we'll get to that later.

Vanova's 3D rendering was invaluable to John during his build, since all the Sherlock set photos are pretty dark:


Anyway, then lockdown happened, and John's lovely fireplace and bookshelves sat in our dusty garage for three months.

But at long last...



John had to build the faux walls on-site to get the fit exactly right. You can never trust someone's walls or ceilings to be perfectly level!






Seriously. It just never gets old. ::munching popcorn::

By the end of the afternoon, we had this:

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Baby Yoda Legs, Kermit Screams, & Itty Bitty Noses

Howdy. How're you holding up? Are you doing all the things? Workin' hard, playing hard? I hope so, but if not that's OK, too. Come on in, I have a big virtual couch with squashy pillows with your name on it. Take a rest, take a breather. You're allowed to fall apart a little here. You're allowed to be a warrior, a potato, or anything in-between.

Know why?

Because you are enough.

You are enough.

So if you need to turn off the news or take a break from social media or quit the internet entirely for your own sanity and self-care, then Sweet Stay Puft, do it. Don't let anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, shame you into self-harm. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, THEN you can help others.

And while you're here resting up, let's look at some of the happy, ridiculous, and geeky things that made me smile this week:

*****

 The FB group Weird Second-Hand Finds continues to never disappoint. Just look at Crystal's thrift-store find:

:D

*****

DC Comics released 12 free coloring pages you can download by 3 different artists, and I love these art styles! I'm especially chuffed because I've been a fan of both Zullo & Uminga for years:






Here's the download link for the full-size images. If you color any please tag me or share on FB so I can see!

*****


If you're lucky enough to have the Baby Yoda doll by Mattel, then here's a handy leggy tutorial: