Wednesday, January 22, 2020

John's New Year's Resolution Gets A Thumbs Up - Plus A Quick Squeegineers Update!

On extremely rare occasions I find that John has written something in my drafts folder, completely unprompted. I found this draft a few weeks ago, loved it, thought you guys would like it, too, and then completely forgot about it 'til now. ::facepalm::

I also threw in some photos of John in a unicorn horn hat from our friend Christie's birthday party, because I feel they really add to the Post Experience.


:D

 Take it away, John!


 *****

I bet you thought about changing some things for 2020. I know I did. Of course, there's the usual: get healthier, take out the recycling, floss. But one thing that's been on my mind is that I want to interact more on social media. Is that weird?

See, in my life, I've always wanted to be kind. I want to be that person who asks how your day was, who tells you you did a good job, that I'm proud of you. I tell Jen I love her every day. But when it comes to social media, too often I'm silent. I lurk. I see a post that makes me smile... and then I keep  scrolling. I'm giving nothing back for these little sparks of joy, and that bugs me. Honestly, I don't even know why. It literally costs me nothing to hit the 'like' button, and only a few seconds to type out a quick, "This is amazing!" or "Awesome job!" or "I never knew llamas even could juggle!"

And here's the thing: this is SO IMPORTANT. This matters. So much of our communication is through social media now that the affirmation we used to get from real world interactions has to happen here. When I post something online and my friends like it, I'm friggin' thrilled. It makes me feel clever and respected and valued. It validates whatever thought or feeling I was expressing, and that feels amazing. I want to make all my friends feel that way.

So that's my New Years resolution: to like and comment on more posts, every time I'm on social media. It may not seem like much, but I think it's going to make a lot of folks at least a little happier - including me.



***** 

Since I read this I've been trying to comment a little more, since I already "like" most things. It takes a little extra time and it can be hard to know what to say sometimes, but John's right: it's totally worth it.  



*****

  
Completely unrelated Cool Thing: After my Squeegineers post some of you very sweetly pointed out there might be Scary Legal Issues with giving away stuff in lottery form, which of course Freaked Us Right Out. Ahh, but here comes the cool part: after wading through all the legalese we've landed on the perfect solution, and I like it so much better than our original plan!




So now our "Squeegineer Sweepstakes" is open to EVERYONE, no Paypal donation required. If you *do* donate then you're still automatically entered, but for everyone else: e-mail us at Squeegineers at Epbot dot com, and put "January Squeegineer Sweepstakes Entry" in the subject line. Boom. That's it! You can e-mail anytime; we'll gather them all up at the end of the month.

Scroll to the bottom of our Squeegineers Page to read the mountains of fine print, but that's the gist: all Paypal supporters are automatically entered every month, and everyone else can e-mail each month to enter. It's a little more logistical work on our end, but I love that this throws it open to any of you who want to enter, not just the ones who can afford to give us money. After all, our whole goal was just to give away some little things to show how much we appreciate you guys, and we love and appreciate ALL of you. 


K, I think that's it! Thanks, love ya, & can't wait to announce our first winners February 1st!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Once A Year I Binge Some Makeup Tutorial Videos - So Here Come A Few New Favorites!

I only wear makeup when I'm both leaving the house AND interacting with people I know, so... not very often. I'm also hella intimidated by makeup stores & salespeople (Sephora is my nightmare) and wayyyyy too cheap to buy any makeup product that costs more than $10, so all in all... NOT a big makeup person.

Still, I do like makeup sometimes, and once in a blue moon I'll fall into a good makeup tutorial binge. Last week YouTube suggested this one by Ali Andreea which caught my eye - because who doesn't love a good side-by-side preview pic?



It's like playing Spot The Difference, right? Ali is really funny, too, and I enjoyed watching a few more of her videos. (Though I admit I laughed at her exasperation with squared-off eyebrows, since of course I love squared-off brows.)

I tried Ali's cat-eye technique for hooded eyes for a few days, since I was doing mine the "wrong" way from the video up there -  but DANG is that hard! So I went looking for more videos on hooded eyes and how to do winged liner on them.

("Hooded eye" refers to the extra skin that folds down over the eyelid as some of us get older. It can also refer to Asian eyes, but that's not the context here.)

I quickly found some SUPER helpful videos from other YouTubers, and thought I'd share my favorite two! First, this one by Melanie Brett:



Her eye on the left in the preview pic looks a little like mine, so her notes on the highlight placement and why thick eyeliner can be bad were really eye-opening... PUN INTENDED. Heyoooo.

This next one by Nikkia Joy covers much of the same stuff, but explains some of it a little better:


 (She talks a lot for the intro, so skip ahead to 1:30.)

I'm annoyed by the amount of Photoshop in her preview photo (helloooo, plastic!), but her actual video has great lighting that shows her true skin texture, which I really appreciate. Plus her example of the eyebrow curve was helpful, since I do tend to extend mine downward a ways.

Let me quickly add that makeup is supposed to be fun, and is never ever required to be beautiful - so don't let anyone tell you differently. The older I get the more I actually prefer "naked" faces, and I turn to makeup more to play when I'm in a good mood, and less as a crutch to "fix" my flaws. I hope you all see it that way, too.
Anyway, I don't wear mascara or lipstick or NEARLY as much makeup as any of those YouTube ladies, but here are some attempts I made last week:


I'm still not having any luck with the wing, but I like the darker shadow placed higher up - and I shortened my eyebrow slightly so it doesn't arch down as far.

And here's my Big Hair Day some of you saw on my Story last weekend:

(Unintentional Mickey Ears FOR THE WIN, ha!)

 I think I did a better job on the shadow here, and I used a shimmery gold highlighter on my eyelids - so happy that shows up!

I'll keep trying on the cat eye wing, because I really want to nail that. Let me know if you guys have any tips!

In fact, do you have any favorite makeup videos? If so, link me up in the comments! I'm after specific videos, though, not makeup 'Tubers to follow. (I'm just not into makeup enough to subscribe to more accounts.) (Also I think 'Tubers should be the new official term. All in favor, say "YES PLEASE.")

  So yeah, give me the most useful tutorials you've found - the ones that changed how you do make-up. Or, if you have some miracle product that costs $10 or less, feel free to share that, too. :p

*****

And now that I've explained why you should probably never take ANY advice I give on makeup products ever (ha!), allow me to show you my favorite liquid eyeliner:



 I've tried a bunch of these, including some pricey Sephora models when John tried to spoil me one Christmas, but I always come back to the Nano Liner. It's the blackest, mattest liner I've found with an ultra-fine tip, so I never get those accidentally-too-thick lines. And it costs less than $7!

Of all the things in my makeup drawer, this and my Anastasia brow pomade are the only two I feel confident recommending. (In fact, I just bought a cheaper brow pomade - that had 5 stars! -  because the Anastasia is so darn expensive... and immediately regretted it. Dang it.)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Introducing The Squeegineers! (Because Silly Names Make Me Happy)

Here's something John and I've been talking about starting for YEARS. Like, so many years it's embarrassing, so let's get right to it:



THE SQUEEGINEERS!

This is going to be a small way for John and I to reward those of you who support Epbot with your dollars - because Squeegineers keep Epbot running.

Eh? EH?

Ahem.

So starting this month, John and I'll be holding monthly prize drawings just for you Squeegineers. The prizes are mostly crafty things John and I've made (like our Bog of Eternal Stench sign), cosplay bits (like our Knights Who Say Ni), some nerdy treasures I've been hoarding (I have too many collectibles!), and jewelry. SO MUCH GEEK JEWELRY. Seriously, I have a problem.

 These prizes aren't meant to be incentives for you guys to support us; they're just little tokens of our love and appreciation. Besides, we have too much cool stuff packing our closets, so this is a way to pass it on to our friends AND make room for more. WIN-WIN.

The best part? If you've given us any amount via Paypal this month, then you're automatically entered! There are no donation tiers, no minimum requirements, no forms to fill out. Each month I will randomly select a few people from our donation list (from that month), then contact them through their Paypal e-mail address to ask what they'd like from our Squeegineer Prize Gallery. Boom. Easy-peasy.

 And of course we'll also ship the goodies for free.

(Er, well, unless you pick the 2-3 massive bins containing all the Knights Who Say Ni costumes & helmets. We'll probably ask for help shipping THOSE. o.0)

In the future we'll be adding more options to the prize gallery, and in fact we're scrambling today to upload the small backlog we already have. I didn't want to put this post off any longer, though, so HERE WE GO ANYWAY JOHN WHEEEEE WORK FASTER OKAY.
If you're curious what all we're giving away/unloading on any unsuspecting fan who'll have them, you can check out our 2 Squeegineer Prize albums on Flickr.  For now we've separated them into Jewelry and Everything Else.

And finally, thank you so, SO much to everyone who's supported us over the years. I'm honestly staggered that so many of you have been donating for so long, so please know John and I are incredibly grateful to every one of you, and love you each to bits. I wish I had more to offer than our thanks and a chance at some of our accumulated flotsam & jetsam, but I hope you'll find some options here that make you smile!

****

IMPORTANT UPDATE: After some of you very sweetly pointed out there might be Scary Legal Issues with this give-away, we've changed the rules to allow ANYONE to enter. Please check out my update here, or our Squeegineers Page, for details!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

FoE & Tell: Fairy Lanterns, Caring Cats, & A Life-Sized Kevin

It's time for more of my favorite FOE finds! (FOE is Fans of Epbot, a fan-run Facebook group.) I don't see everything that gets posted over there, since you guys are pretty prolific, but here come a few of my favorites that crossed my feed:
Btw, I freely admit I fangirl the most over your faces and your creations, so this roundup is mostly things you guys have made. I'd love to see more of your selfies, too, though; especially the ones where you're at fun places or trying new things or celebrating some milestone. Makes me feel like I know you guys better. Is that sappy? 'Cuz I'm OK with sappy. ;)

Right, 'nuff blather: ON TO THE CRAFTS!

Starting with some seasonal Mickey wreath adorableness from Vanessa:


Vanessa made this last Fall, and she's been updating us on FOE as she changes it for different holidays:
St. Patrick's Day

And Halloween! Love those colors together.

I can't wait to see what you do for Spring, Vanessa!
*****

 You might remember Allison from when she made the baby-sized Iron Throne. Well, she's at it again for her kidbot's birthday party, and this year she really... UP'ed... her game:


She made a life-sized Kevin!!

Just look how happy little "Carl" is:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Packing, Painting, & Purging

Well it took two weeks, but I think I'm FINALLY catching my breath after all the December craziness - how 'bout you?

It took us a good 4 days to pack up all the Christmas decorations, since I made John bring everything in - even the stuff we didn't use this year - so I could purge and organize it all.

Here's our triumphant Closet Tetris Photo:

Our thestral, brick wall, and fake fireplace get stored in an outside shed, but this is everything else!


I WILL HAVE ORDER!!

Ahem.

 
 I got some great video of John doing leg kicks in this. You Story-watchers get those exclusive treats, ha.

After packing Christmas up I was in full Spring Cleaning mode, and prowled the house for the next several days waiting to pounce on any and all unsuspecting drawers and closets. I cleaned out my old makeup, organized the junk drawer, and even made a small dent in my office closet, which is the catch-all for random decor pieces I can't bear to part with yet.

I did, however, find the strength to let this baby go:



 
 Goodnight, sweet Prince.

::trash can lid slams down::


Another picture from The Purge:

 
(He reported after seeing this Story that he DID keep it, and it's full of cards and letters I've given him over the years. Aww. I should really give him more of those, come to think of it.)

Our friend Karen had to MOVE right before Christmas (ack!), so a few days before I got sick John and I were over at her new apartment painting 'til midnight:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Art For Australia! Come Shop The Adorableness & Help Spread Some Hope

In an effort to focus on the good among the bad - to focus on the helpers -  here's a quick shout-out to some of the artists I know who are donating their profits to help with Australia's fire relief/recovery efforts. If you know of more artists/craftsfolk I should add, please link them in the comments!


Ashley Taylor - who does lots of official Disney art, so you probably know her stuff - is offering this adorable koala as a digital download for $5, and donating 100% of the proceeds to Wildlife Warriors:

Here's her Etsy link to purchase. She's already raised $700!

*****

Chris of On A Roll Designs is donating half of her gross commission check for the entire month of January, and that includes EVERYTHING in her TeePublic shop:

 See Chris' post here for details on which organizations she's donating to (there are 2), then head to TeePublic to browse all her designs. There are lots more great Disney shirts there!

*****

NadyArt in the Netherlands is donating all her profits from this koala print for the month of January:

It's currently sold out in her shop, but I'm hoping she'll stock more soon. Keep an eye on her Etsy shop!

*****

KitschyDelish is donating 100% of the proceeds from both her "Bat Tea" (get it?) and "Wombat Tea" prints:




 Hit those links for her Etsy listings & donation details.

*****

AmyJacobusDesign is giving all her proceeds from this sweet koala tea towel over on SpoonFlower:

Thursday, January 9, 2020

In Which I Embarrass John... AGAIN (Mwah-ha-haaaaa)

I have a photo I've kept on my phone the past few weeks that makes me smile - something I haven't shared anywhere yet. 

But first, a quick back story:

A week or two before Christmas John came home in THE worst mood. He'd been out running errands all afternoon, and the holiday crowds and traffic and overall surliness of person in general had turned my sweet teddy bear of a man into one grumpy grizzly. I listened in horror as he told me about the guy who nearly ran him off the road, the lady who stole his parking space, the multiple rude cashiers, and the shopper who shoved him out of the way before demanding an apology. John's the guy who compliments every employee he meets and jokes with strangers at every turn, but this day had officially beaten all the love of humanity out of him.

So John stomped off to do some laundry, and I left him alone to go back to work in my office.

A few hours later I emerged to grab something out of the bedroom, and on the way passed John whistling merrily in the kitchen. I smiled to myself, opened the bedroom door, and saw this:




 I don't know how he does it, you guys. I don't know how John so quickly turns all that frustration and anger into gratitude and love - but this picture reminds to try a little harder to use my grumpy days for good.

(It also reminds me we can write messages in the fuzzy blanket, which is nice to know for the future. ::evil grin::)


******


I don't need any more stuffed animals. 

I don't need any more stuffed animals.

I don't.


So thank goodness this is technically a pillow.

DAT FACE. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Our Belated Christmas At Universal, & The Hidden Holiday Gem Most People Missed!

Since I was sick for Christmas and John was sick for New Year's, we didn't get to visit Universal nearly as much as I hoped for all their holiday goodies. Luckily Universal keeps it all going through the 6th, though, so on Sunday we rushed out to catch the final "Holiday Spell" show (my favorite!) *and* to meet up with Sue, a reader here on vacation.

On the drive over with John and our friend Karen, I mentioned I'd heard about some holiday scavenger hunt, and wondered if it was still going. A little googling later, Karen and I decided we HAD to do this - and it was 2 to 1, so John was outnumbered. The hunt included both parks AND CityWalk, and we had roughly five hours. Aw yeah. It was on.

We hit the ground running and grabbed the Hunt's map from the first gift shop in Universal:


Did I mention this is a Tree hunt? So I hope you're not too Christmas'd out yet, since these ended up being some of the best themed trees I've seen anywhere. Ahhh-mazing. And I haven't seen anyone talk about them, which of course cannot stand. You've really gotta see these.

I'll go in order, since it would hurt my soul to skip any. The first tree was a little lackluster - no doubt easing us in - but had some neat elements:

 There were blue stage spotlights in the branches, along with film reels, scene clappers, and director megaphones.

 Next was the Minions' gift shop:

 We were almost literally running to make our meetup with Sue, so I didn't notice 'til now that plastic roller coaster track - maybe you can drop a marble down it? Oooh, that would be cool.

There are also metal Ferris Wheels! 

At each shop you collected a stamp from an employee, and we were happy to see each stamp was themed to fit the tree. I'll show you the whole set at the end.

I love this store front at Christmas. 

From here we met up with Sue, her hubby Joe, and their teenage daughter to watch Celestina's final show of the season. I planted myself front and center and had an absolute blast. (If you watch my Stories you've already seen several clips!) We ran into a few more friends at the show, too, so we were a big merry group, and I can't tell you the good it did my heart. It felt like a belated Christmas gathering. 


After we "WOO"'d the ladies off stage and fangirled over the sign language interpreter (check my last IG post if you missed the video, he's amazing!), it was back to the task at hand: TREE HUNT.

So we convinced Sue to ditch her family and join us ::evil grin::, and off we went!

The next tree was in the Men In Black gift shop, which I haven't visited in years. I realized as we walked in that I haven't been in most of the park gift shops in years - and I've been missing out! 
 
The big UFO topper has a color-changing light on the edges, and was filled with planets, funky mod ornaments, and plushes of Frank the pug: 

Friday, January 3, 2020

TED Talk Recommendation: The Power Of Vulnerability

I'm probably the last person to the party on this, but have you heard of Brené Brown?

I'm in therapy for the first time in my life, and before we broke for the holidays my new therapist recommended I watch Brown's 2009 TED Talk, though she didn't say why. I don't even remember what we were talking about, just that my therapist gave this mysterious little chuckle and said, "Yep. You're going to like Brené Brown."

So while I was sick a few days later I pulled up Brown's TED Talk on YouTube, and dang. Funny, fascinating, poignant -  I identified so strongly with Brown's line at the 13 minutes mark about "just needing some strategies" that I wondered why people in the audience were laughing. In fact, I'm still kind of wondering... so I guess that's why my therapist thought of me? Ha!

Here's her talk, definitely give it a watch when you have 20 minutes:


I will say this is way too short, because after I watched it I was like, "No no no, hang on, I need you to say more words, Brene." So I went looking for more.

Through the comments I learned she'd just released a Netflix special last April, called The Call to Courage. So I zipped over there and watched all of that. It's hard to describe, but it sort of feels like a stand-up comedian doling out heavy-hitting heart advice. Brené is that real, that funny, and often that profound. You should watch that 2009 TED talk first, though, since she references it heavily.

If you don't have Netflix, you can also watch Brown's follow-up 2012 TED talk, Listening to Shame. It covers some of the same topics as the special, though of course it's much shorter and not as in-depth.


 
I want to watch all of these again with John, since it's a lot to digest. I'm also currently being overwhelmed by the sheer number of Brené Brown books on Amazon. Egadz, so many. Have any of you read her books? Any recommendations?

 This is one of her older titles, but as a perfectionist, I could probably use whatever she has to say in it:

https://amzn.to/35fTkDC


Again, if any of you have read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!