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:


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


(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

UPDATE: Since a lot of folks were having trouble with the sizing, I've replaced our template files with .pdfs. Updated download links below!

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::


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.)


[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


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: