Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Some Silliness For Mum's Bon Voyage

 John's mom (aka Mum) is moving back to Maine this weekend. After over two decades of Florida living - during which she never once turned on the air conditioning in her tiny studio apartment - she's decided to swing to the other extreme and never feel warm again.

::finger guns wink wink HEYOOO Mainers, just kidding::

The rest of John's family still lives up there, including Mum's grandkids and now great grandkids, so she has lots to go home to. Plus all the local pizza joints up there sell whoopie pies, so I can see the appeal. (Whoopie pies are a heavenly northern creation that's basically a cake hamburger, except instead of a meat patty you get icing, and instead of a bun you get cake, and instead of lettuce and tomato you get a brief nirvanic experience that assures you all is right with the world.) (I'm a fan.)

We want to send Mum off with a proper to-do, so I've been planning a party for the night before her flight. Well, "party" is a bit generous. It'll just be us, Mum, and John's sister who's flying down to help with the last minute details. We'll all be in masks and distancing, so I guess it's less like a "party" and more like a wait at the DMV, only with a "Bon Voyage" banner and balloons.

Hmm. Yeah, I definitely need to up my game here.

I am proud of what I brainstormed for Mum's going-away gifts, though. (Don't worry, she's not online and won't see this.) Mum LOVES a big to-do, loves surprises and celebrations and making the mundane into an occasion. This is a woman who once gift-wrapped a single-serve bottle of ketchup and made a dramatic presentation with it. She won't have much room in her suitcase, though, so I needed little things, with an emphasis on quantity over quality to make it fun. 

Here's what I've got so far:

First we'll have a card saying we got her a few Florida mementos, then the first gift will read,  

"When you miss the Florida sunshine, wear these."

Sun Hoop Earrings


(I'll add links since everything's from Amazon, but this is more about the ideas behind the gifts than the actual stuff.)

These are super cute in person, and came with 4 different styles of earring backs, so you can choose your favorite. Not bad for $10 earrings.

Next a silly one:

"When you miss the power outages during hurricane season, turn out the lights and use this to find the bathroom."



I like that this one's still practical: I have a push light in my purse and it is a lifesaver when you're looking for lip balm or dropped M&Ms. This comes in a teeny gift box with extra batteries, plus a cute little Stormtrooper charm that John is totally keeping. 


 Mum once asked for a plastic flamingo for her birthday, saying she wanted to lean in to the classic Florida retiree look, and has proudly displayed it on her porch ever since. SO...

"When you miss all the glorious tackiness that is quintessential FLORIDA, look at these beauties and remember 'tacky' is only a state of mind."

Saturday, April 17, 2021

FINAL REVEAL: Overhauling A Professional Puppeteers' Room, Part 3

John and I are officially done with the big Puppet Room Makeover! Wahoo!
 
To celebrate we made a quick video tour for you, look how fancy:



OooooOOooh. This makes me so happy. Just look at all that room for activities!


If you missed my earlier posts be sure to check out Part 1 to see how we built the puppet wall rack:



...and part 2 for our build of the double-sided work desk:



Our final phase was installing a ceiling fan with a better light kit (found on Marketplace for $20, SCORE), re-arranging the bookcases on the right hand wall to hide another window, and finishing off the closet to make it a bit more tidy.

As you can see we have FULLY MAXIMIZED the closet space.

Can't forget the hanging organizers on either side:


To hide the clutter we hung this pretty curtain from Amazon on a tension-mount shower curtain rod.

Ahhh. Much better. (And renter friendly!)

If you're wondering why we removed the closet doors only to replace them with a curtain, it's because this takes up less space, and can be pushed completely out of the way to access either side.

Remember before, when there were three inconveniently placed windows?



Because one of the goals was to block natural light (to prevent sun damage to the puppets) we hid the center window behind the puppet rack itself, then switched the bookcases around to also cover the window on the right.

From this angle you can just see where that second window is hiding:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

DIY: "Beauty & The Beast" Stained Glass Rose

'Sup, fam?

I napped most of my weekend, which was aces, but I also had what we're gonna call an "ouchie" (technical term) in a sensitive spot. One might even say the MOST sensitive spot. So when I wasn't napping I was hobbling around the house clutching a heating pad to my nethers or lowering myself verrrrrry slowly into a recliner while glaring at John so he wouldn't laugh.

I bet you're thinking John was too sweet to laugh, aren't you?

WELL.

Saturday night he found me spread eagle on the couch wearing a hot pack like a diaper and there were straight-up GUFFAWS.



And now I will think for a moment on how to transition this intro into a craft tutorial for faux stained glass.

::thinks::

::thinks harder::

A-HA. 

 I've got it.

Ahem hem hem.

Hey, kids, you know what ELSE is a pain?

[...]

GLASS PANES.




 

So today we're going to turn a dollar store frame and some nail polish into this beauty:


::hums "Tale As Old As Time"::

Check out the sparkle:

OoooOOoooh.

I bet you've forgotten all about that mental image of me in a hot pack diaper now, haven't you?

Excellent.

SO... this is a perfect Craft Night project for small groups, though it will take you 2 nights, so you can let things dry.

First find a stained glass pattern you like, and print it to fit your fame. I'm using a 5X7 frame here:

Friday, April 9, 2021

I Swear This Is The Behavior Of A Rational Adult

My panic monster woke up from a long nap this week and decided to make up for lost time, so I've been doing a lot of pacing, breathing exercises, wiping my sweaty palms, and juggling. Like, actual juggling. With balls and everything. Although I drop them so much it'd be more accurate to call what I do "throwing balls at myself and missing." 

 Still, it helps.

You know what also helps?


NEW RAINBOW SHOES...


THAT LIGHT UP



Being short can be annoying sometimes, but having the small feet that go with it ROCKS.

Then I made them better with pink rainbow laces:


The tale would have ended there, except 10 days later the lights on one of my shoes went out. UNACCEPTABLE. I can't be flashy on only one side, it'll throw off my groove. So John exchanged the shoes. Except the new pair he brought home had dark mystery stains on them. I stared at them like this:


... and John sighed and went back to exchange the exchange.

At this point things get a little ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Grown-Up Jewelry That Will Thrill Your Inner 4-Year-Old

Remember Toddler Grandma Style?

I don't hear it called that much anymore, but it's still an accurate descriptor of my fashion sense: basically a mashup of a rainbow-loving 4-year-old and a vintage-loving grandma. (Though lately I've skewed more towards the 4-year-old, ha.)

Lucky for us, Lenora Dame Studios lets us live our best Toddler Grandma life with her jewelry designs:


Dino-MIGHT


Obviously I'm all about the oranges, but that lower right is calling to me, too. Vintage beads & sparkly costume jewelry are my jam.


More dinos, because I love the fun color combos.

There is so much more where those came from, go browse her Etsy shop here.

*****

Lately I've been super smitten with acrylic jewelry - the brighter and bolder the better - and Rock The Panda Jewellery makes some of the best designs I've seen:

WANT


Isn't this incredible? I love how parts of the acrylic have a pearly finish.

Rock the Panda does limited releases, and their latest collection is all big cats:

Friday, April 2, 2021

"More Than A Body": The Book I'd Like Every Body To Read

Back in 2019 I published "No Pictures, Please: The Thing About My Face," and started a long overdue conversation here about self-hate. It was... eye-opening. No, it was more than that. It was a revelation. It turns out I wasn't alone, or even in the minority; it turns out most of us don't like the way we look, and our struggles range from nagging to life-destroying.

Since then I've been plugging away at my "Self-Hate Battle Plan", a 7-pronged approach I came up with to combat self-hate. My progress has ebbed and flowed, but slowly and surely, I'm both recognizing and knocking the teeth out of the lies I used to live by.

One of the best parts of my plan was following Beauty Redefined on Instagram, a non-profit run by two PhD-holders advocating "body image resilience." Unlike Body Positivity, which wants everyone to know their bodies are beautiful, Body Image Resilience wants everyone to know they are more than their bodies. It's a seemingly subtle shift that makes an enormous difference, and I've found this approach so much more meaningful than #BoPo alone.



Beauty Redefined is run by twin sisters Lindsay & Lexie Kite, and they recently published a book. This book:

More Than A Body: Your Body Is An Instrument, Not An Ornament

I've just finished reading it, and I have 5 pages of notes and THINGS TO SAY. :D

First, this book is not a page-turner. It won't make you laugh. It's not even very comforting at first. In fact if this is your first introduction to a Body Image Resilience approach then I'm willing to bet this book will make you mad, or at least want to argue. I know I did, back when I first started following Lindsay & Lexie on IG. They have controversial stances on everything from the "wellness" industry to dress codes to sharing before-and-after weight loss pics.


So why should you read a book that's probably going to tick you off?

Because this book offers hope. Not the short-term, quick-fix kind of hope promised by the latest miracle fad, but a lasting hope that shows us how to get off the merry-go-round of shame and self-hate.

Body Image Resilience breaks with just about everything we've ever learned about beauty and self-image, so I'm not about to cram it all into one blog post. That would be too much too fast. I've had two years to sit with my discomfort, to research, to wrestle and ruminate over what I believe and what I want to believe - and I'd like you to have the same option of a slower pace. So instead of cramming everything in, let me just share 2 of my favorite snippets:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Dollar Tree Quick Craft: Make This Crescent Moon Wreath For Less Than $10!

Confession: I love crafting, but I loathe wreath making. The art of floral arranging is just so dang loosey goosey; you plop flowers here or there 'til you like the look, because there are no wrong answers, and I hate that. I need rules! I need exact check boxes and instructions! How else will I know if I did it perfectly?!

So anyhoo, today we're making a wreath that should take most of you about an hour or two to whip together, but took me an agonizing 7 or 8 hours spread over 2 days. I am not proud of this. My brain battles are exhausting and joy-sucking. But! After multiple go-rounds of ripping things off and trying again, I'm reasonably proud of the finished product:

::exhausted jazz hands::  ta-daaa

I genuinely love this DIY in theory: it's a clever twist on traditional wreaths, you get to hang fun dangly things off it, it only costs about $10 to make, AND you can find everything you need at Dollar Tree.

Here, let me walk you through the basics.


YOU WILL NEED:

This wreath form from Dollar Tree. While you're there, you'll also need:

- 2 rolls of burlap ribbon

- 4 or 5 bunches of silk flowers & greenery

- Duct tape

- (optional) twine or string and pretty beads to make the dangly bits

 

Cut a section off the wire wreath form so it looks like the letter C: 


Next use duct tape to wrap each end into a taper, like this:


Wrap your wreath form in burlap ribbon, hot-gluing here and there to keep it all in place:

This takes slightly more than one roll of ribbon, but you'll have most of the 2nd roll left. The ribbon gives you a base for hot-gluing everything that comes next.

Now the hard/fun part: decorating.

::shudder::

I recommend googling "crescent moon wreath," because there are some GORGEOUS styles out there: everything from succulents to moss-and-mushroom covered pretties.

I only wanted to use what I found at Dollar Tree, and happily I found some long floral branches that taper,
perfect for each end of the moon:

Friday, March 26, 2021

FOE & Tell: See, THIS Is Why We're Friends

Why do I love geeks, and the Epbot community in particular?

LET ME COUNT THE WAYS.


1) We knit Jayne hats for poodles


Shiny.


2) We celebrate Tiara Tuesdays:


(Sara has more incredible tiaras here on Instagram!)


3) And we also celebrate Friday Finishes:





(Follow Shara's FB page for more!)


Bonus #4) we love puns and groan-worthy jokes.


5) When we play dress up, WE PLAY DRESS-UP

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Overhauling A Professional Puppeteers' Room: Part 2

I'm back with another puppet room update! If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1 for the fun puppet storage wall we built last time.

With the actual puppet storage taken care of and the closet space maxed out, we turned our attention to the two workspaces on the left wall. Here's a reminder of the "Before":

You can see how the two different desks - and their lack of storage - is a big part of the visual clutter in this room. Even if you have a high clutter tolerance like I do, a lack of clear workspace is a huge motivation killer; creativity needs room for activities.

 
It took me a few weeks to wrap my spatially-challenged brain around a proper design here, because this build had a lot of requirements: The work spaces had to be cohesive but clearly divided, so Kelsey's sewing projects couldn't spill over. They had to have as much storage as possible, but also extra desktop area. Then they had to break down into smaller pieces to go up a set of stairs.

Finally, it all had to be as inexpensive as possible, both because we had zero budget and because that's how we roll. ::eye brow waggle::  (Our labor is always free, but in this case we're gifting the material costs as well.)


I started watching FB Marketplace for pieces we could incorporate into the desks, and soon scored this hefty pair of nightstands for $30:


They were dingy and dated, but the giant drawers were perfect for storage.

Next I talked through my ideas with John, and he worked his magic drawing up a scale sketch:



Can you visualize the finished build from these? I'll give you a hint: The center divider is a bookcase turned sideways.

So now that I've confused you further (snerk), let me show you what it looks like in real life.

First the Before again, because I like a dramatic reveal:



And now, preeeee-senting our newly installed, double-sided, 10-foot long custom work station:


::mini trumpet fanfare::

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD

This baby's got it all, let me walk you through the details.

First, construction-wise, I cleaned up the nightstands and painted them a lovely gray:

Friday, March 19, 2021

Owlcats, Pumpkin Heads, & Cute Stabby Mushrooms

Hey, you know what your day needs?

This:

Squeeeeeeeeeee


Kartoniq is the self-proclaimed "Owlcat Lady" who combines two of my favorite things: OWLS AND CATS.

And it's so hard to pick a favorite!

omigosh omigosh omigosh

I've especially loved barn owls since Labyrinth, so it delights me to no end to imagine Jareth the Owlcat chasing around crystal balls, scratching up the goblins' favorite armor, and slowly sliding their drinks off tables without breaking eye contact:


Kartoniq if you write a comic about Jareth the owlcat I will love you forever.

Kartoniq doesn't ONLY paint owlcats, btw. Sometimes she paints just cats:



"I've brought you... A GIFT." (It's too late now I have Labyrinth on the brain.)

Tragically I can't find an online shop for us to purchase these beauties, but definitely follow Kartoniq Art on Instagram to get that fluffy owlcat goodness in your feed.

*****

I know I'm not the only one who enjoys a little Halloween spoop year 'round, so buckle your witch shoes, ghouls and boos:



LeeAnn Kress of Charmed Confections makes the most vivid eye candy creatures, and I can't get enough of her retro Halloween style:

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Come Open A Care Bears Care Pack From 1983 With Me!

A few months ago I joined a Care Bears fan group, because I... am an adult.

I didn't even have much Care Bear stuff as a kid - just a few of the plastic figures with that single tuft of hair glued in, remember those? - but something about seeing the art and toys now gives me the sweetest nostalgia noogie.

Drat, I've barely started writing and already I'm distracted wondering if I imagined those PVC figures having hair or not. Hang on.

::google google google::

A-HA


Hair she blows.

Anyhoo, despite only being in the fan club to lurk, of COURSE I ended up buying some things. A whole little pack of goodies, in fact, which was such a friggin' delight to open I have to share.


Happy to report the vote was an even split over on Instagram.

(The fan club is Care Bears Forever in the Kingdom of Caring on Facebook, btw. It's small and drama-free, and only mildly dangerous to your bank account. Come join me in my nostalgia noogies.)


I didn't even know these existed!

 I've since used a little poster tack to stick the sun to the wall beside my monitor, so Funshine can hang out:


I cram a lot of stuff around me on my desk - all the things that make me happiest to look at. I've also started collecting glass cloches to act as protective force fields, since Suki the 16-pound behemoth likes to kick in her sleep. (As I type this she's rolled into both those containers and *clinked* them together, siiigh.)

The cross-stitch says "I like your face", btw, and was a gift from an anonymous reader. It also has a tiny Epbot in the corner! Under all the cat hair. (Note to self: add glass to that frame.) The Tree Cyclops is a pin by MarliToys, and the adorable Lemon Head is by Fancy Creatures.

K, back to the unboxing: