Tuesday, September 29, 2020

After Reading 2 Books On Perfectionism, Here Are My Top Fourteen Take-Aways

So hi, you. 

::floomphs down on couch::

How are things? How ya holding up?

John and I are still working offline jobs as often as we can, then balancing work here online and making time for a few fun projects, too. This could be just me, but lately it all feels... a little harder? Anyone else feeling that? Florida just lifted all their Covid restrictions, which had the curious effect of making some of our friends give up social distancing, and others return to total lockdown. John and I work for older and at-risk friends a lot, so we're more on the cautious side. Turning down invites is always awkward, though; no matter where you fall on the social-distancing scale, you still end up feeling judged, right? And that's hard on people-pleasers like me.

Anyway, there's your reminder to give friends & family a lot of grace right now, whether you agree with them or not. We're all just trying to live and love each other the best we can out here.

On a more positive note, the last few weeks I've read a couple of books on perfectionism: why it's bad, how it holds us back, and how to work around it. I also started CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) for the first time, since up 'til now my therapist has been using something called Attachment Theory. (Which has helped enormously, btw.) All of this has me learning some nifty new tools, and I'm kind of amazed how well the stuff I've learned about perfectionism goes with what I'm learning in CBT.

In fact, I've been so impressed that I thought I'd share my top take-aways from those two books: things I wrote down and have been trying to practice/absorb since.

First up, How To Be An Imperfectionist, by Stephen Guise

If you have Amazon Prime you can read this for free on your Kindle. Score!

Now I have to admit, I wasn't going to review this book at first, because the author got on my nerves. He's the usual self-help guru type, always bragging on himself and pitching his last book, and then he only uses illustrations about sports, how much he goes to the gym, or how many women he's asked out. Gah. By the last few chapters I was reading with gritted teeth, and at one point John walked in and burst out laughing at my expression.


As much as I disliked reading it, this book really does have some great tips on beating perfectionism: things that made a positive difference for me as soon as the next day.


So... FINE. 

Here's what I wrote down as I read:

- Emphasize the effort, not the results.
For this I've been reminding myself how much more you readers respond when I share my "failures" versus my successes - how the imperfect stuff brings us closer and sparks better conversations.

- When doing something difficult, don't look ahead. Focus on your very next step, and no further. Looking ahead will only overwhelm you and make you want to give up.

I feel this one a LOT. I loooove looking ahead and deciding The Thing is not worth The Effort. So I'm trying to tunnel-vision myself and only look at my feet, so to speak. One step at a time.

- We perfectionists must ignore our current circumstances - meaning how we feel - AND the possible result. Focus instead on the procedure.

Feelings lie. I already knew depression lies, but I'm learning ALL emotions can and do lie, so I can't trust myself when I "don't feel inspired" or "don't feel like" doing something. Most of the time motivation follows action, not the other way around.

- Replace "should" with "could."

Take away the self-condemnation. So when thinking about the past, replace "I should have gone to that party," with "I could have gone to that party." Or replace "I should get back to work now," with "I could get back to work now."

This one has made a noticeable shift in my thinking, y'all. It changes the whip into a hall pass, and makes me feel like I have a choice instead of an obligation. HIGHLY recommend.

- Confidence requires practice, because confidence is comfort. Practice taking up space and striking confident poses, then practice minor "embarrassing" things like wearing something silly or talking to strangers. Get comfortable being awkward, and you will feel more confident.

He cited a study that said people who struck a confident pose for just 2 minutes (hands on hips, head tall) increased their testosterone by 20%. So silly as this sounds, I've been practicing holding my arms out wide when I walk on the treadmill. I don't know what my testosterone thinks about this, but it feels... nice... to take up more space.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Our Rainbow Unicorn Bedroom Makeover

Ahh, I love room reveals, don't you?

So let's get right to it:

We did this Princess Elena room for our friends back in 2018, but little Ellie was ready for a new theme. Her favorite thing now is UNICORNS, so I was happy to go all-in.

And here it is finished!

::trumpet fanfare::

We kept the existing wall paint since it's only a few years old, and just covered up the flowers we painted last time:

On to newer and more rainbow-y things.

We used the new bedspread as a color guide, and bought sample-sizes of these three colors for the rainbow:

This toy elephant seemed to approve:

Here's the view from the door:

Monday, September 21, 2020

This $10 Planter DIY Makes Incredible Custom Toy Storage!

Earlier this month I did a roundup of ways to store/display plush toys I'd found while researching for a kid's room - but wouldn't you know it, NOT ONE of them seemed right for the space John and I were working on. They either hid the toys completely or displayed the toys completely, when we wanted a little of both. We also wanted it kid-accessible, but off the floor and out of the way.
I thought about hanging toy buckets on the wall, but all the large baskets/buckets/canvas bags I found were too expensive or the wrong shape. Then we checked the garden department at Home Depot for metal wall planters, but they were all sold out.

That's when I spotted it. Our cheap, easy, durable solution.



(That's my attempt at a heavenly chorus.)

Yep, this $10 plastic planter was the answer to all our plushie problems.

Ready to see how?


Thursday, September 17, 2020

8 Disney Crafters On Instagram Who Will Make You Want To BUY ALL THE THINGS

Ohhh, y'all. I have so many cool things I have to share today or I'm going to bust. Or just buy everything. Which would probably be worse.  ...maybe.

So listen, I dislike online ads as much as anyone, but Instagram has me pegged SO WELL that it keeps showing me cool new accounts to follow through their sponsored ads, plus I'm forever following link roundups and recommendations from the 'grammers I already know. Essentially I'm on a perpetual treasure hunt for the best stuff, mostly because it's fun, but also because you guys are the best online shopping excuse EVER.

John: [looking suspiciously at my screen full of Disney shaker charms] "So... what'cha doin?"*

Me: [innocently] "Working."

(* Are we also watching a lot of Phineas & Ferb lately? Yes, yes we are.)

So in no particular order, here come a bunch of new-to-me makers making awesome Disney things. And as always, nothing here is sponsored in any way. I legit just like this stuff.

- First up, Shop Sunshine Seekers and their too-cool-for-school Mickey pom-pom earrings:


I almost wish I had pierced ears - just not enough to actually get them pierced, because, you know. ::chicken sounds::

Anyone else happy that Spoopy Season is early this year? Everyone's rolling out their Halloween goodies, and I am here. for. IT.

Pom-Pom ghosts & pumpkins! D'awww.

Check out the Sunshine Seekers' online shop to see what's still available: these sell out fast!

Next, the magical 3D wood art of  27 Willow Lane:

I have only one word for this candy apple cuteness: GIMMIE.

And their Haunted Mansion Small World mashup is a scream:

Honestly if you've ever been stuck on Small World for a while, this mashup makes perfect sense. And I have a high tolerance for creepy dolls. :p ("And now consider this chilling challenge: To find... A WAY OUT! Muah-ha-haaaa!")

Now let's try to pick just one favorite from this sweet "Home" collection:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Free Templates! Our Small World Clock DIY & Video Tutorial

It's pretty rare for John and I to want to make a project twice, but after we finished the Small World clock for our friends Chris & Brandon, we decided we had to do that again. And because I'm me, we had to make it even cheaper and with a few tweaks. 

For comparison, here's the first one we made, using a $30 clock from Amazon:

 And here's version 2.0, which is a tiny bit smaller, and made from 2 sheets of foam board:


This time we swapped the gold and silver, and made it a little more 3D by adding a second layer of foam for the eye section, which better mimics the original:

Here's the original from the ride in Disneyland, btw:

The total cost for version 2.0 is about $15 (assuming you have a Cricut & vinyl) and it's incredibly lightweight. I'm talking poster tack would hold this baby up, so it's great for renters or kids' rooms or anywhere else you don't want to hang a heavy clock.

If you'd rather have the sturdier wooden version, though, then I recommend buying
this $30 clock from Amazon and painting it white, like we did here.

So, ready to make your own Small World clock? Or ready to watch ME make one in about 2 minutes?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Dragon Con Virtual Parade Is Just What We Need This Week

Last weekend Dragon Con went virtual, streaming 3 channels of 24/7 content, from reruns of old panels to fresh new content like interviews, musical performances, and even costume contests. (Don't worry if you missed it; you can still buy a membership pass for $10 and have access to it all and watch at your own pace.)

My favorite so far, though, has to be the Dragon Con Virtual Parade.

I missed the livestream and instead watched Sunday morning, before I even got out of bed. Within minutes I was grinning ear-to-ear, and by the end I'd laughed out loud, gasped with delight, and even shed a tear or two. I don't want to overhype it, but this really captures the spirit of Dragon Con: fans coming together to play and laugh and create cool stuff. 

So what exactly is it? It's a socially-distanced parade, put together virtually. Fans submitted short videos of themselves walking a "parade route" in costume, and the Dragon Con team edited them all together - by fandom! - then added crowd and traffic noises (ha!), and two hosts doing live color commentary. Like the real parade, there's a huge range of fandoms, ages, and skill, featuring everything from young kids in their backyard all the way up to professional builders using slick videography effects. So we get about 30 minutes of pure, geeky joy.

And best of all, you can watch it for free on Dragon Con's YouTube channel! I'll embed it here to make it easy, though:

The actual parade doesn't start 'til the 10 minute mark, but if you're a fan of What We Do In The Shadows, then watch from the beginning to see the two commentators - Nadja and Nandor The Relentless - doing what they do best.  The parade ends around 42 minutes, so it's not the full hour the video shows.

I've watched this twice now, and for the second run I decided to jot down a few of my favorite moments.  I left a LOT out, because most of this is awesome, but here are some bits that most jumped out for me:

13:40: The Spider-Man/Jonah Jameson interaction is SO clever & fun

14:45: Doctor Who use of forced perspective, yasss

20:30: Mind, BLOWN. Daaaang. There's our reminder that some Dragon Con fans are professional builders and videographers! 

23:05: Awesome use of effects for The Flash, and again at 23:18 for Aang!

25:30: Excellent Alien group. I like how so many of these are like quick skits in-character.

27:17: Someone beams in!

27:29: This whole History channel "Aliens" interaction is GOLD. Ahh, there's that Dragon Con wackiness we know and love.

29:28: TINY RAINBOW BRITE - and then a little Rosey the Riveter not long after!

33:20: Dragon Con gives you wiiiiings

34:48: Awww, dancing in the woods is so perfect for these two. Makes me hope Dragon Con does this every year, so folks who can't be there in person can still do entries like this.

34:54: !!! That's some professional-level Hocus Pocus!

35:33: They cosplayed the crowd watching the parade. Bahaha!

35:44: I laughed out loud at this Jurassic Park group, and then GASPED. Eeeeee!!

41:04: Don't miss the Jawa big finish - and turn up your sound to hear the song. (So happy to see Chess Jawa in there! He's been a fixture at Dragon Con since at least 2014, when he was just a young kid. Now he's so tall!)

I hope this made you smile, fellow geeks, and made you think of happier things and better times ahead. Dragon Con is the only convention I've really been sad to miss this year, but it wasn't 'til last weekend that I realized just HOW much I miss it. I've been re-watching my videos from last year and bawling like a baby, but at the same time, I'm so grateful for the Dragon Con team putting this together - especially since it lets EVERYONE get a taste of Dragon Con, not just we lucky few who usually get to be there in person.

Sending y'all hugs and hopes that we can be together at the real deal again next year. ::MWAH::


Psst. Need any new t-shirts? 'Cuz hey, we sell those! :D

Check out the Epbot Threadless Shop to see all our designs. (We're up to 7 now, I need to get on John to add more.)

John and I just got our "Should You Need Us" tees and they are SO CUTE. (Mine's on brown, John's is gray - but the artist Kristi got hers on navy blue, and I think that looks best of all.)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

10 Clever Ways To Display Your Plush Toys - That Don't Include Shelves! - For Kids AND Collectors

 I don't care how old you are, I bet you have at least a good arm-load of plush toys lying around, right?
John and I love our squishy collectibles. Catbus, E.T., my Firey from Labyrinth, reader-crocheted Epbots and pony avatars... we've got our share for sure. I like to sprinkle them around my office and John's game room, though, so we don't really have a dedicated display spot. However, the last few weeks I've been doing research to help some friends and readers who have a LOT of plushies -  an amount you can no longer "sprinkle" - and I've found so many clever display ideas and storage tricks that I have to share. Whether you're a parent wrangling your kids' toy haul or a collector looking to show off your main squeezes, I think these will be relevant to your interests.

So here we go, 10 of my favorite NON-SHELF ways to store and/or display plush toys:

1) Re-Purposed Curtain Rods:

I love this because it's clever, functional, and cheap. Why dedicate a whole shelf or bookcase when all you need is a simple bar? You could stack these on a wall in place of a bookcase, or put them end-to-end all around the room.

Plus, these can look REALLY high end:

Especially if you're displaying a collection or grouping by color.

Oh, and you can also use towel bars, not just curtain rods!

2) A Tension-Rod Hammock:

Use two tension-mount curtain rods to make a hammock between the wall and a dresser or bookshelf. Courtney sewed her fabric, but you could use an existing valence for a no-sew option: just slide the 2nd curtain rod through the bottom hem of the valence, and you're good to go.

3) Wire Basket Nightstand: 

(Addicted To Bargains)

You probably won't find a "lid" that works as perfectly as this angled tray, but all you need is a tray that's larger than the top edge of your laundry/trash bin. Just add some cabinet bumpers or grippy foam shelf-liner to the bottom of the tray, so it won't slide off.

4) End Table Bungee Cage
Take an existing side table or plant stand and add bungee cords, like this:

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

We Made A Small World Clock! And It's SO SPARKLY

John and I have some readers-turned-friends, Chris and Brandon, who just bought their first house. They love all things Disney and mid-century modern, so when Chris asked if we could make them a Small World clock for the dining room, I jumped at the chance.

Here's a sneak peek to tide you over while I explain how we did it:

At first I thought we'd make the clock from scratch, but then, how to ship it? I wanted something big, at least 20 inches, and that meant finding custom packaging on top of the cost to mail it cross-country.

That's when John had the brilliant idea of buying an existing clock from Amazon - which ships free with Prime - modifying it, and then re-using the original packaging & box to mail to Chris & Brandon. Boom. No need to buy the wood, clock guts, OR the shipping box.

It took a little hunting, but here's the clock I finally purchased:

It's nearly two feet across, and don't let the wood "planks" fool you: the entire front of the clock is really a printed sticker on a solid piece of wood. Perfect for our dastardly plans. (Ok, so our plans aren't all that dastardly. I just like the word dastardly. Dastardly dastardly dastardly.)

First we removed the clock hardware and added a few coats of white satin paint with a small foam roller:

Foam rollers (like these) are the best option when you want a perfectly smooth surface; even spray paint can leave spatters and sagging areas, especially when you're working on large areas. And I hope this goes without saying, but NEVER use a brush if you want a perfectly smooth surface on top of another perfectly smooth surface; it'll leave brush marks galore.

John did the super tedious work of cleaning up the best Small World clipart we could find to get it ready to cut with our Cricut. This took 3 or 4 tries, as he kept going back to smooth out more lines, but eventually, it looked like this: