Thursday, January 28, 2021

Angler Fish Brooches, Potion Bottle Sun Catchers, & The Dark Crystal Bestiary

This month has been kind of a rocky start for 2021, so I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some HAPPY STUFF.

Lucky for us, I happen to have some happy stuff... right here:

Awww yeah.

Melissa Blair's stye hits all the right notes for me: bright bold colors, cute characters, plenty of cats...

It's just SO GOOD.

 Check out Melissa's Etsy Shop for prints, stickers, and note cards, and of course follow her on IG to see all the adorable holiday stuff she's done the past few months, because ermergersh.


Some days you just have to stop and appreciate a good angler fish brooch, you know?

OH LOOK, I found one!

This beauty by Kweena Kreations even lights up:

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Let's Get Serious About Celebrating Silly Stuff

Yesterday I did a little phone detox - I left my cellphone in the nightstand all day - and tried to embrace the silence and stillness when I wasn't working.

Then when that got too boring, I picked up a book.

It was a self-help book - too soon to say if I recommend it or not - and the first chapter was about the "discipline" of joy, a phrase that made my nose wrinkle. Twelve years of a panic disorder have taught me we can't make ourselves feel anything - not happy or calm or safe -  so I'm suspicious of things that seem to say otherwise. Emotions aren't a matter of sheer willpower, no matter how many times people tell you to "lighten up," "calm down," or "just be happy."

Fortunately that's not what the chapter was saying, though; instead it suggested adding more celebrations to our lives: scheduling things big or small that bring us joy, and then taking the time to really relish them. That's where the discipline comes in: instead of waiting around hoping to feel happy, you make a schedule of things that generally make you feel happy, and stick to it. Not just long-term celebrations to look forward to like holidays, but daily things. Little things. Like a music & dance break at noon, or a phone call with someone who lifts you up every Thursday night. It could be planning Disneybounds, a trip to Target, a game night with friends over Zoom, or making all your favorite meals for a week. The trick is to make them regularly scheduled.

This lines up with what what I've learned through CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Theory. In one exercise I kept a "pleasure log" of everything I did in a day, from making breakfast to scrolling Instagram. As soon as I was done, I'd rate each activity by how much I enjoyed it, and/or how much satisfaction it gave me. When I tried this I found I didn't like watching TV and scrolling online as much as I thought I did - but on the flip side, I learned I enjoy everyday tasks like making breakfast and vacuuming a lot more than I expected. They don't make me jump for joy or do a chair dance, of course, but they do give little hits of satisfaction, that kind of "ahhhh" feeling you get from placing the last puzzle piece.

CBT taught me to prioritize these "high satisfaction" tasks, but it stopped short of suggesting regular celebrations. I like that word. Celebration. According to Google, a celebration is "marking one's pleasure at an important event by engaging in enjoyable activity." So basically, an excuse to do fun stuff.


What if we decided more things were an excuse to do fun stuff? Could we do that?

Back in 2015 my friend Tony spent the entire year celebrating a different holiday every day. He called it The Celebrate! Project, and would make signs saying "Happy Chocolate Brownie Day" or whatever and literally go stand in the middle of a highway with it. Not only that, he'd do something special to fit each holiday's theme, often bringing along different friends to celebrate with him.

At the time most of us thought Tony was pretty out there with this project, but I dare you to look at these pictures and not feel a big ol' spark of joy:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Transform Your White Wire Shelving With This One Quick Trick!

John and I found an awesome solution for white wire shelving, gang - something I've never seen anyone use before, so I can't wait to show you!

Now, you've probably seen other DIYers cover white wire shelving with foam board, which is great for a linen closet:

For anything heavier than linens, though, foam board is fragile and easily dented. No way this would work in a pantry with heavy cans sliding around, for example.

Other crafters have covered their white wire shelving with actual wood, which is plenty durable, but also a huge job that requires power tools, sanding, staining, and the added expense of a decent grade wood.

I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of energy or patience to spend on a closet.

Then a few months ago, as John and I were re-doing a pantry for a friend, we discovered the best of both worlds: something as durable as wood, almost as cheap as foam board, and easier to install than either.

Ready to see?


 These new shelf covers are a thick durable plastic - so no more wobbly containers or sticky rust stains on your stuff - and they look like solid laminate! Best of all, this whole transformation took us less than 2 hours, and cost about $22 - with enough material left over to do another closet.

Here's the secret, and how easy it is to install:

Monday, January 18, 2021

Quick Craft: Make This Jaw-Dropping Rainbow Butterfly Wreath For Less Than $15!

This may be the easiest Quick Craft I've ever done, y'all. If you can stick magnets on a fridge, then this is right up your skill set alley, baby. OH YEAH. Plus it only takes about 20 minutes, so it's a nice way to ease back into crafting if you haven't felt motivated in a while.

All you need is this $11 set of butterfly magnets from Amazon:

[UPDATE: If those are sold out, then here's a similar magnetic set for about the same price.]

Which comes packaged like this:

And then a $1 metal wreath form from Dollar Tree:

The most important thing here is to hang your wreath form where you plan to display it FIRST. Don't try to stick the butterflies on and then hang it, because they could slide around and/or fall off. You also don't want to use this on a door, unless you plan to add some hot glue to the magnets. Otherwise one good slam and it could be raining butterflies. :D

Once your wreath form is hung on the wall - or in our case, over a window curtain - start by placing one large butterfly of each color around the wreath to help with your spacing:

There are 84 butterflies total, and they come with the magnets already attached on their plastic bodies.

Now just keep filling in by color:

The magnets are strong enough to handle a little jostling, so you can slide them around or rotate them to help you cram in more butterflies. Bend the wings up at varying angles as you go, and start with the largest sizes first. I didn't use all 84, but it was close!

Ready to see the finished wreath in better light?

Friday, January 15, 2021

Baby Thor, Haunted Mansion Minis, & The Basement Of Every Trekkie/Whovian's Dreams

I don't know about you, but I've been leaning HARD on my favorite creators and fan pages lately to save me from doom scrolling. I've joined more fan groups on Facebook, watched a lot of Rachel Maksy on Youtube, and even convinced John to join me on TikTok, where we obsess over synchronized roller skating and sea shanties. Oh yeah. Gimmie all that beautiful randomness.

Sure, it's the ostrich approach to dealing with... ::gestures vaguely:: ... but at this point I've determined every non-destructive coping mechanism is valid. A better time is coming, we just have to hang on 'til it gets here.

So in that spirit, and for my fellow ostriches, here come some of my favorite finds and follows to interrupt YOUR doom scrolling.


As always, The Replica Prop Forum is THE page to follow if you like anything geeky. It's a smorgasbord of smiles, like this: 

 Speak softly and carry a big hammer. Also wear a cape. Unless Edna Mode is around.

The RPF is also where I found Todd Pineapple Spann, who's been building something incredible in his basement for over 2 years. I've been eagerly waiting for him to finish so I could show you all, and happily for all of us, this week it's finally done!


It's 8 minutes long, but you keep seeing new stuff the whole way through, I promise. Plus time flies when you're drooling on the keyboard. :p This was just the mini vacation from reality I needed when it came out earlier this week. Dang.

Also to whom it may concern:

Todd, I don't know you, but with this crowd that basement will at LEAST get you a first date.


You know those things from your childhood that always makes you smile? For me one of those are the original Care Bears illustrations. I can't get enough of that pastel 80s style art. So last week I joined the Care Bears Forever in the Kingdom Of Caring group on FB to get pretties like this in my feed:

EEEEE! It's just so darn cute.

The group also posts toys for sale or trade, which can be a nice trip down memory lane. In fact I've joined a couple of toy groups, both for the nostalgia and to see peoples' collection photos, which are super addicting. Some give me great display ideas, too:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New Build! Kids' Closet Overhaul With Built-In Reading Nook

A couple months back John redid a closet for a local reader, Nicole - or more specifically for her daughter Friday. He did a fully customized design that includes a cozy little reading nook, so I thought you'd like to see!

Here's the Before:

This is a pretty typical bedroom closet, with just one high shelf and a hanging bar. As you can see there's all KINDS of potential space in there, though, especially since Friday doesn't have many clothes to hang.

After we visited to take detailed measurements and get a wish list from Nicole, John drew up this blueprint:

You can see the closet space extends beyond the wall opening on either side, so there's quite a bit of hidden storage, especially on the right side beyond the hamper. (You have to remove the hamper to access it, so those three shelves are for slightly more long-term storage.

John built and painted everything at home, and was so dang fast this is the only process shot I got:

He made everything from MDF, which he then painted white.

Next John rented a truck to get it all to Nicole's, where the install only took a few hours. First he removed the old shelf and bar:

Then he slid all his pre-made pieces into place, screwed it all together, and anchored it to the walls:

Friday, January 8, 2021

That 2020 Hangover Though

Real life will be intruding on today's post. If you've got enough of your own real life at the moment, best skip this one.

I've been sleeping all day again, and restless all night. Some of it is a little nerve damage in my neck and arms I'm struggling with, but mostly it's :;gestures vaguely:: all this. You know? I've lived and worked online for over 12 years now, and it's given me light, love, community - but lately my time there leaves me distracted, listless, vaguely anxious. Even with the political stuff here in the U.S. starting to cool, I'm just... unsettled.

It helps that my routine is getting back to normal; no more holiday breaks from therapy or weekly check-ins with friends. Those gaps over the past 2 weeks were vital missing jenga pieces in my tenous Keep It Together Tower, and largely why I posted so much here. I think I needed to check in with you bots as much as I hoped to be a little check-in for you. Plus, you know, fun Christmas stuff. :) (I still didn't fit it all in. Next year I've got to start sooner, ha.)

We're leaving the trees and decorations up a bit longer this month, because the twinkle of colorful lights makes the nights seem friendlier.

Covid is so bad here in Florida that we've had to stop the Project:Epbot job we've been working on. Even with all parties masked, our friends are so high-risk that they've had to lock down completely, which I understand and agree with, though it still makes me sad. I miss the work. I miss doing something tangibly helpful in this time of feeling so helpless.

On the other extreme, we have friends who've abandoned distancing and who we have to keep saying no to. We have John's high-risk mom who won't wear a mask, but who makes us feel terrible for not spending time with her. Everywhere we turn there's this tension of trying to love people the best way we can, weighing the risks, and sometimes risking relationships with the very people we're trying to do right by.

It's draining. 

And 10 hours of sleep just isn't filling me up.

My reaction to stress and conflict has always been the same: I retreat. I shut down. I get quiet to the point of going catatonic. I think I just have to hide for a while to recharge.

At the best of times I dislike phone conversations. I can't see your face, how am I supposed to know what you mean? How do I know you're listening? What if I can't hear you because the connection is bad but then you keep going so I can't ask you to repeat yourself and now I have to fake knowing what those missing words were and figure out some ambivalent response? Aaaaaarg. It's all so dang stressful.

So here I am writing this post instead of returning 4 phone calls from well-meaning monsters who love me but who also don't text. Heh. I don't want to talk, not out loud. I don't want to exchange pleasantries or fake the smile in my voice. But I also don't want to be real and tell them how much I'm struggling to find a reason to get dressed. I just want to sit here in my quiet, darkened living room, with the twinkly Christmas tree on, pick at the jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table, and not feel anything for a while.

Yep. I think I'll hide a little while longer. Try to heal up.

And hey, you there, still in your jammies, nodding your head in that "omigosh, ME, TOO" way: you're welcome to join me. We have Movie Night in two hours over on the Epbot Discord, and we're watching Ratatouille. (Or if you miss that, there's a second showing Sunday afternoon.) No talking or daytime clothes required; let's just watch a movie, post silly gifs, and heal up together.

I love you, by the way. Thank you for loving me. Thanks for being here when I post too much and when I don't post at all. Thanks for being there for each other. This community keeps me going even while I watch from the sidelines, and your posts and comments mean more than you'll ever know, to people you'll never meet.

Here's to sweet silence and soft twinkle lights and healing up from the scars of 2020.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Buckle Up, Kids, We're Making A Meat House

So here's how my Monday night went:

You'll be happy to know approximately 97% of you voted for laughy face, and only 3% gave me the judgy eyebrow. See, I knew you were my people.

I find that the best way to begin any major undertaking is by cheating. And then using hummus for glue.

The crackers we were using didn't cut well, though, so how to cover those gaping ends?

Well, with MEAT FLAPS, of course.

Flappy flappy flappy.

I should note that John and I were randomly breaking into song during this process, and I bet you can already guess what we were singing.

Oh yeah.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Night Of A Million Lights At Give Kids The World

As part of our extended Christmas celebrating, last week John and I and our friend Karen went to "Night of a Million Lights" at Give Kids the World here in Orlando. (Imagine the old Osborne Lights from Disney, except spread out over a much larger area.)

Naturally, we did our best to dress for the occasion.


The GKTW village includes an entire residential neighborhood, usually filled with the families of the kids visiting. With Covid it's all been shut down, of course, so they decided to deck out the empty houses for this fundraising event. I can't imagine they'll ever be able to do this again, so I'm so glad John insisted we buy tickets.

Because this was much, MUCH more than just a decorated neighborhood:

In addition to the residential houses, there are big theaters, restaurants, accessible rides, a carousel, and even a castle on property. Everything is donated and built by volunteers, but you can tell most are professional theme park folks. This place seriously rivals Disney!

Total Main Street vibes, right? This is the Wishing Tree; you hit the button and a little magic happens - I'll show you soon.

Each house's lights were sponsored by a local company. Most just put a sign out front, but a few - like this one from Ripley's Believe It Or Not - swam the extra mile:

Sometimes I'll write a pun so groan-worthy that John will get out of his chair, walk across the house, and give me a fist-bump. "Bigger bow" was one of those puns. Ah thank you verramuch.

I couldn't find this .gif on Instagram, so you get it here:

This tree was one of my favorite things there - wait 'til you see it in action, hnnng.