Sunday, February 28, 2021

Grocery Shopping, But Make It ADVENTURE

John thought of a way to get us out of the house that didn't involve crowds of people OR being outside, so we made a whole afternoon of it:


The International Food Club is one of those hidden gems you treasure; it's always empty in the late afternoons when we visit, the prices are reasonable, and it has foods, snacks, and drinks from all over the world. It's like a theme park for your mouth, y'all.


Also the front door is made of heavy plastic flaps you have to push through like you're in an action movie chasing after the baddies in an abandoned warehouse. BONUS.

 I mentioned our grocery haul in my Stories a while back, but now I'm back with REVIEWS. Awww yeeeeeah. Buckle up, gourmands. We may not be able to travel, but at least our taste buds can.

Starting off with my most fascinating find:

Doganay is apparently a popular drink in Turkey. I had one or two people on IG tell me they drank it daily when they lived or visited there.

I expected this to be carbonated, mildly sweet, and sort of kombucha-like.

This... was none of those things.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Looks, A Firey Puppet, & This Pink Puffball Turned John Into A Puddle

'Tsup, bots and britches?

Sorry, I was just trying something there.

So, hey! I'm back with more fun finds and cool creators - the stuff that's made me smile and kept me dreaming this week. I hope it does the same for you.


First up, Brittina of Book Looks by B is a makeup artist inspired by book covers, and this is such a fresh take I absolutely love it:

Not only do you get her amazing art, you also get some sweet book recommendations! Give Brittina a follow over on Instagram for lots more.


Brianna Newsome has themed her entire house after Harry Potter, and y'all, it is MAGIC. Here, I'll show you just a few of her photos, so you can squeal with me:

A Honeydukes kitchen! EEEEEE!

Then she has an Herbology themed bathroom:

Monday, February 22, 2021

We're Nerdy & We Gnome It

Well, howdy.

That week kinda zoomed by. 

Reading and responding to all your comments, DMs, and e-mails has taken up most of my "work" time, and the rest has been a nice slow pace of resting and recuperating. THANK YOU to the 700+ who commented or messaged, and the thousands more I know were here in spirit. It's always awe-inspiring when this family comes together, seeing how many of us are out here fighting the same battles. Plus Mr. Rogers told us anything mentionable is manageable, and I know these conversations are helping others find the courage to speak up. So thank you.

Anyhoo, often my best self-care is taking time to be ridiculous, so happily John & I got to host a little craft night last week and do just that. This was our second craft night with friends in the past month, and even sitting across the room from each other in masks is such a help, seriously. After actual medicine, being with people you love is the best medicine.

So what ridiculous things were we making? WELL. Lemme show you:

Sock gnomes!!

That was our first batch from 2 weeks ago, made with friends Dennis & Bonnie, who we hadn't been around in over a year.

If you follow my Stories on IG or FB then you've seen some of these little guys under our Valentine Tree:

Plus this one stood in for scale when my friend Arielle made me a Galentines' cake:

Then there's my new exercise coach:

I know it doesn't look much like a rabbit, but it made us laugh.

These gnomes are so fun and easy to make - and we still had so many supplies left over - that we scheduled a second night last week with two more friends, and made another batch:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Some Of You Tell Me This Helps, So Here Goes

Content Warning: Depression, self-harm. This is a doozy, y'all.

I'm really struggling with my mental health right now, and my natural tendency is to hide that. I figured I just wouldn't post for a little while, 'til I get my head right.

But yesterday in my latest batch of snail mail I got some Valentines saying what so many of you have told me over the years: That what helps the most out of all my pictures and stories and projects is my being real about the hard times. I've even had people say, "If Jen from Epbot struggles with self-hate and panic and depression, then I guess it's OK that I do, too." That is both humbling and mind-blowing to me, but I want to honor that, and honor you.

So now when I hit an especially low point, I try to take it as a sign that some of you are struggling, too. That you need someone to see you and drag this shared pain out into the light, where we can look at it and just acknowledge it together.

Deep breaths, love. Here goes.

You know I've hated my face for years, but these past weeks I've started hating myself. Me, the one inside. I feel pathetic, unworthy, unlovable, and hopelessly self-absorbed with problems I have no right to complain about. I can't control my sleep schedule, I eat too many sweets, I waste so much time thinking about all the time I waste. I ignore my friends, drift from my family, and create a burden for John. In my heart all I want is to help others, to be of use, but in practice I feel I'm a shattered, useless mess. 

Our Project:Epbot jobs are on hold, because more people we know caught Covid. Fortunately John & I tested negative after a close call, and our friends have since recovered, but that's been another reminder of the virtual wolf outside the door, and left us looking for a project to keep us - or at least me - going.

A week or two ago I foolishly stopped taking the thing that helps my depression, because I didn't feel depressed. (I swear that made sense at the time.) Then I started skipping meals and bingeing junk food, which made my gut feel awful. Then I stopped sleeping... or I slept way too much. I bounced from 13 hours to 3 and back again. Combined with my lack of projects and overall feeling of restless uselessness, it all just snowballed.

Last night I was so angry at myself, so filled with grief and disgust, that I snapped. I started hurting myself, and quickly reached a point so violent that - mercifully - it scared me out of the spiral. I sat there looking down that dark familiar road, the one that gave me bleeding scratches and scars back in my late teens, and I practiced my breathing and eventually managed to still my hands. But it was hard, y'all, because the pain felt right. Like control. Like justice.

If you're concerned reading this, you should be. My brain and emotions are lying to me, and after another 15 hours in bed today, I can see that. I've started taking my meds again, I'm backing off the sweets and trying to eat real food, and I'm letting myself just be while I watch funny shows with John. I'm seeing my therapist tomorrow. In the meantime I'm reminding myself this will get better, and I'm looking at all these sweet Valentines y'all have sent, which I've hung in my office. I'm giving myself permission to believe the things you wrote, even when they don't feel true:

That's my game plan. That's my road out of here.

What's yours?

There's no quick fix for this battle, but I can tell you I already feel much better, more clear-headed. It took every tool I've learned so far, though: identifying the lies, talking back to the accuser, breathing exercises, basic things like food and sleep, and trusting John to nudge me in the next right direction when I didn't trust myself.

This past year we've all been tossed into a raging sea, and even the strongest swimmers are getting tired. That's ok. Heck, that's to be expected. Isolation, fear, uncertainty, grief, we're all swimming in it. Some of us are drowning in it. And just like waves, we're going to have highs and lows. So hold on. If you're down here in the depths with me, trust that another wave is coming to lift us up again. It will get better. 'Til then let's gather up our tool kits, keep our support people close, make a plan, maybe say a prayer, and just keep fighting.

I will if you will. 
In fact, can we make that a pact? Leave me a comment, here or on FB, and say "I'm here, too" if you're in this battle with me. Let's show the ones feeling the most alone just how many of us are out here, still here, still hanging on, still fighting.

Also remember I love you, because I do. If I have to be this broken and raw in front of 10,000 strangers to convince even one of you that you are loved beyond your own imagining - by me and by so many others - then it will have been worth it.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Easy DIY Pop-Up Bouquet: Free Cricut Templates & Tutorial

John and I are in a community group delivering Valentines to retirement homes this weekend, so I've been looking for cute-but-easy pop-up cards we could make on our Cricut.

I thought this would be an easy find, but WOW was it not. o.0 Nearly all the cards I found were either too complicated to make in multiples, had their "free" templates locked behind membership paywalls, or were on blogs so old that the template files were missing. So after a frustrating hour, I asked John to help me make our own templates.

Aaaaand here's what we came up with:

Cute, right? I like how the flowers grow as you open the card.

 I also like that the design is all-occasion friendly, because I will for sure be making more of these throughout the year.

To give proper credit where it's due: I believe the flower pop-up part originated on this Instructable - but it's so old all the graphics and video are gone. It's by far the most common design I found on Pinterest and Youtube, though:

From what I've seen all of these versions are hand cut and use a single layer of paper for the flowers. We changed ours up by adding a second layer for the flower stamens, designing templates we can cut on our Cricut, and by making the card itself as a print file.

With the machine doing all the cutting - and no need to hand draw the flower centers OR the outside card - these come together pretty fast! We've been able to whip up over a dozen in a single evening.

Ready to see how? Then here, watch me put one together in under 4 minutes:

And of course you get all our templates for free. Get ready to clicky-click!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Witcher Lightsabers, A Macrame Droid Display, & Redefining The "Head"

I've been whining to John this week that my posts don't feel weird enough anymore. Usually most of my snazzalicious geek content comes from our trips to comic conventions or Dapper Day or Slug Club meetups, so as we drag ourselves into the 11th month of lockdown I fear my blog has become, dare I say, boring.

Also here's a skull toilet.

(The Fabulous Weird Trotter)

I like to think the lights turn fiery red when you flush.

 I'm just saying all this transforming closets and making butterfly wreaths feels so... ordinary. So everyday. Where's my niche content? Where's the retro stuff only the coolest people recognize?

Maybe with a little luck, we'll find some.

I know I'm not the only one missing my con photos and geeky parties and stories of fans getting together to play and laugh and just BE, but for now, all I can do is keep sharing stuff I find that I love.

Like sweet macrame decor:


... with a custom painted BB-8 inside. Who says droids can't be Boho Chic?

Then there's Vaults of Valhalla (who I'm sure has a real name, I just can't find it), who makes custom etched lightsabers that will take your breath away. Check out this Witcher themed one:

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Quick Craft: No One Will Believe Your New Laser-Cut Necklaces Came From DOLLAR TREE

::runs in::

Dollar Tree just started carrying some new crafting embellishment thingies, and they are a GOLDMINE for jewelry-making:

These are laser-cut... wood? ::squints:: Maybe "wood" is being too generous. They're a wood-like substance. Think Masonite, but weaker. You get 6 pieces per pack, so that's 6 for a dollar. SIX FOR A DOLLAR.

Now here's the cool part: you can take those lovely wood-like things and make fabulous statement necklaces like THIS:

Or this!

This DIY is the perfect combination of "easy" and "infinitely customizable." Other than the wood-like designs, all you need are basic jewelry-making supplies: O-rings in various sizes, chain or cord, necklace clasps, and pliers. Also if you want to add some color, a little acrylic craft paint.

These embellishments are pretty enough to leave unpainted, though, like John did with his:

Monday, February 1, 2021

This Is The Hardest I've Laughed In Weeks, Omigosh

Last week John and I got to fix a ceiling fan in Apopka (the capacitor is now... fluxing), paint a house downtown, and start overhauling a cram-packed puppet room for some local entertainers down by Disney. (Eeeee!) 'Twas a good week, and I'm especially pumped about the puppet room. Because PUPPET ROOM, y'all.

Despite all that good stuff, I still find myself teetering. Any of you get like this? Where you feel like you're mostly OK, mostly functional, but only one slip away from falling into a deep hole of depression? I call that Teetering. It's walking the tightrope, holding your breath, and hanging on for dear life to any and everything that makes you smile.

Then yesterday I stumbled across Celina SpookyBoo on TikTok, and she not only made me smile, she made me straight-up GUFFAW for a solid 20 minutes. So heck yes I'm dropping it here, what kind of friend would I be to deprive you of this??

All you need to know is that Celina has some wild adventures in her sleep, and there are SO MANY more of these you need to watch, because they keep getting funnier:


Same intro but new clips!

♬ original sound - Celinaspookyboo

This isn't even close to her most popular video - they get way wilder -  but those cherries break me. every. dang. time.

Here's one more, where she bolts into the yard cackling while her poor hubby has to chase her down, bahaha:

This was taken from 2 hours of footage. Adam is a real trooper

♬ original sound - Celinaspookyboo

Head over to Celina's page and click on all the black-and-white preview pics for more sleepwalking - and in one memorable instance, sleep fighting a giant plush octopus. Be warned that a few have her cussing out houseplants(!!), so watch your volume if you have littles around.

Sleepwalking shenanigans aside, Celina is my new favorite person. I love her style, her attitude, her unbridled enthusiasm for tie-dying t-shirts in the snow and collecting actual hearses that she drives around town...  I think she's the real deal, gang. I also love that she's sharing all her adventures, no matter how embarrassing - like the one where she woke up naked in a hotel hallway - just to bring a little light and laughter to folks who need it. Folks like me.

So go, watch more of Celina's videos! You don't need a TikTok account to see them, at least not on your desktop. I hope they crack through any darkness around you, and remind you there's always light out here, if we just remember to look for it. <3

Oh hey, but before you go, let's pick some art winners from my last post:

The winner of the dragon coloring book is Lydia
The winner of the Ursula print set is WordWitch
And the winner of the Bianca print set is Elencello

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!


Edited to add: Oh wow, it's already February, isn't it? In that case, I also have some Squeegineer winners to announce! So congrats, Francine D. & Kim P., and please check your inboxes for John's e-mail, so you can choose your prizes.