Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Let's Visit The Exclusive Disney Store Where NO TOURISTS Are Allowed

I got to do something SUPER COOL the other week, y'all.

For the first time in maybe 20 years, I visited Cast Connection and Property Control! WOOHOOO!

Don't worry if you don't know what that is; few people do. This is the one store on Disney property they DON'T want you to see, because it's not for us, it's for cast members. Happily WDW just started allowing CMs to bring friends and family in again, though, so our friend (& FoE) Robin brought John and I out for a visit.

The bargain shopping is obviously the biggest draw, but if you're a park nerd like me then you'll find an even bigger treat just inside the warehouse doors: a whole room of giant, park-used shop displays, all lining the walls:


Sorry I don't have a person in there for scale, but this Mickey is a good 6 or 7 feet tall!

Someone there told us he's from the Main Street Emporium.

I think this Goofy is from the World of Disney (aka WOD) at Disney Springs; I remember a lot of the big figures there having this nifty metallic finish:

Really makes the colors glow, right?

Easy to tell where this one's from:

Friday, June 25, 2021

Happy 5th Birthday, FoE!

I'm postponing my Disney shopping haul, because did you know FoE turned five this week?! I didn't! Not until I saw this adorable art by Amy Gentry:

The ear hat! And lil' Squee even gets a shiny number balloon, yesss. That makes it official.

This also reminded me it's been a while since I shared some fun FoE posts, just to give you non-Facebookers a peek at our shenanigans. (FoE = "Fans of Epbot" on Facebook, a fan-run group that I'm delighted to be a part of, especially since I'm not in charge. :P)

Hang on, lemme go rummage through my favorites folder.

Aha! Let's start with this gem from last year(!?) I somehow haven't shared yet:


As promised in her post, here's Leah & her partner Marji as story-telling fairies:

And here's a more recent post with Leah modeling her new teacup crown!

Now this is a Story teller outfit made to.... SPILL THE TEA.

Eh? EH?

Leah, you look absolutely magical. Amazing work!


Also in the drinks milieu, Caitlin & her sis made Avatar-themed cocktails, and D'AANG are these cool:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Dole Whips & Disney Shopping

Hiya! I'm here with a random life check-in, and some VERY IMPORTANT UPDATES.

Firstly, I got two more phone cases:

... and I can stop any time I want.

I just don't want to.

Next an update to my antique finds post: remember the one thing John reeeeeallly wanted?


After John read my post he zoomed off to the antique mall, and came home with a big brown bag and an even bigger grin. I can't remember the last time a purchase made him this happy, y'all. He's wanted a stained glass lamp for years.

Not the best pic, but here's where it ended up in our Steampunk room:

We have it on a timer so it clicks on every night at dusk, and the golden glow looks magical with all the Edison lights.

And my final important life update: my hedge-butt intro to the art post last week turned into more of a side-track than I expected:

Friday, June 18, 2021

Stealing From Wizards: The Book You've Never Heard Of But Should Totally Read

A million years ago - or maybe it was only 8 or 9 - I read a thought-provoking article about "Hutt-slayer Leia" cosplays, culminating in the author of the article, Ryan, crafting and modelling his own version to wear - unironically - to a con. The original blog post has long since disappeared, but I remember Ryan talking about his own body insecurities and advocating more kindness toward the cosplayers (mainly women) who were getting so lambasted in popular media at the time.

I remember this because I then spotted Ryan - in his Hutt-slayer cosplay, no less - at Dragon Con, and had a minor fangirl moment. Since Ryan is a Dragon Con regular, after that I started recognizing him through the years in his various Star Wars cosplays.

Here he is as Doctor Jedi, or, Jedi Who?

"Live long, and may the Force be wibbly wobbly."

And more recently as a 'Puffy Space Wizard:

He's got at least a dozen more, all beautifully handcrafted, but I'm not here to talk about Ryan's cosplay. Nope, turns out Ryan Consell is also an author, and a few weeks ago I got my first ever message from him on Instagram, asking if he could send me this:

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

AT-AT Snack-Snacks, A Glittery Goblin King, & Cruella Paper-Cuts


Someone sent me a whole thread of these last week (which of course I can't find now), and I felt this one in particular needed to be shared/inflicted. I bet if you stuck teeny googly eyes on the butt cheeks you'd get a pudgy mole with a shaved undercut.

::head tilt::

Hang on.


Or it's a slightly squished anteater, ha.

And now I will seamlessly transition into today's actual post.

Ahem hem hem.


::whispers on the wind:: seeeamlessssss

First up, AT-AT snack-snacks!

WANT. And I bet you can tell by the name how I say "AT-AT." :p
(Don't come for me, it's just more fun to say that way.)

Anyhoo, don't you just want to pop these sweeties in your mouth for a big satistying CHOMP?

Well DON'T, they're made of resin and clay and stuff. Which is even better, because this way they last forever and won't attract those tiny sugar ants you think are just specks of dust until they start moving and freak you out at 3AM. Hypothetically.

The creator of the AT-AT Snack-Snacks, Fiona of Prismatic Brush, actually specializes in cute dinosaur sculpts. Except they're not just dinosuars; sometimes they're dinosaur/vegetable hybrids with punny names:

Sneeks and Carrex and Tomurtles, oh my!

Fiona also makes delicious Bertie Bott's every-flavor dino beans:

Friday, June 11, 2021

A Speakeasy Tiki Bar, Our First Reader Meetup In Ages, & Becoming THAT Couple

The other week we did SO MANY things - like, out of the house! - and I'm back with a full report.
By which I mean random cellphone pics and rambling commentary. ;)

First we had our first reader meetup in nearly 2 years(!), and it went... something like this:

Ahhh, it's good to see things getting back to normal. ;)

Yep, 'twas a night of laughter and hugs and comfortable, meandering conversations.

In fact, remember my tribute post last year for Torii? Well this is Gina, Valinda, and Cissie from that post! It was my first time meeting Valinda and Cissie in real life, but we immediately hit it off like old friends. I couldn't have picked a better group to start meetups again.

We met for a meal at one of our favorite restaurants:

Gimmie all that chocolate almond bread. NOMZ.

Although the star of our meal was this avocado bruschetta:

Crispy creamy goodness, HIGHLY recommend.

We ate on the patio at Toothsome's for the first time, and there was a cool breeze and the sound of happy people all around. Food for my soul AND my belly.

Next we all wandered the CityWalk shops together, and I think it's important you know that these double-sided monster bags exist:

Monday, June 7, 2021

My Favorite Finds From An Orlando Antique Mart: Toys, Cute Stuff, & All The Nostalgia

Last month I finally got to browse my favorite antique mall again, and it was heaven. Now, I already showed y'all the cursed objects, so here come the COOL objects. At least to me. So really this is more of a gauge to see how much overlap there is in our "cool stuff" Venn diagrams.

For example... 

Are these cool to you?

That's a trick question, of course. These are cool to literally everyone. (Shhhhh. NOT A WORD.)

Ok, maybe "cool" is a stretch. How about "filled with so much cringing-yet-delightful nostalgia you have to laugh a little"? I mean, were you even a child in the late 80s if you didn't have a shiny resin art plaque (Oh! Or clock!) on your wall?

Here's something a little more timeless:

Purple swan bubble bath bottle! We need more packaging like this today, please.

In fact this entire booth was an art exhibit of adorable vintage packaging: hairnets, sewing patterns, toiletries, and more:

Plus it had this kitsch-alicious lamp:

I'm getting strong Mary Blair/Small World vibes.

I tend to only photograph the individual objects, but I'll try to throw a few fun booth photos in here, too. Which thing(s) jump out at you first? What would you make a beeline for?

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Just A Lil' Gut Punch Of Happy

After we finished the rental last week I dug out my real camera and a wide-angle lens to take photos for the listing. I was rushing that day to keep the afternoon light, so of course I was frustrated when I stared down at my trusty DSLR, so beat up from hundreds of hours of shooting at conventions, Dapper Days, fan meets, and more, and realized I didn't remember how the lousy thing worked anymore.

"Which button is the white balance?" I demanded, poking at various options. "How do I get to the menu, again?"

John was with me in the open garage, putting tools away. 

"Oh geez," he said looking up with a laugh, "You haven't had that thing out in years, have you?"

I had to stop. "Wow, I guess not? Huh. That's wild to think about."

Eventually muscle memory took over and I got the settings... set... and backed up a ways to take the first photo of the garage. Definitely not a beauty shot, but functional. I raised the camera to my eye, half-pressed the shutter to lock the focus, and, "snickt!" took the photo.

I've heard that little whir and click thousands and thousands and thousands of times, but never once thought anything of it. It's just the sound of a camera, right?

But not this time.

This time, in that empty, muggy garage, I was suddenly transported to the floor of the Marriott lobby during Dragon Con, surrounded by crushing crowds and the deafening sound of merriment and music. I was on the concrete expanse of the MegaCon vendor floor, and in front of the castle at the Magic Kingdom, and a dozen other places all at once, grinning, yelling out to someone how amazing they look, lining up the right angle and lighting as fast as I can, all so I can go chase the NEXT person. I felt a sense of elation and excitement crash over me, like being suddenly hug-tackled right in the gut.

"Oh," I said, breathing out. I looked over at John. "That's... that's such a happy sound, isn't it?"

John looked at me quizzically just as the strangest, silliest, most surprising thing happened: I burst into tears and laughter at the same time.

"AAAAA, this is so dumb!," I yelled, wiping back my tears through a fresh peal of laughter, "this is so dumb." But it wasn't dumb, it was wonderful.

"Stop," said a bewildered John from across the way, drill in hand, "you're going to make me cry, too!" And then he did, and we stood in that empty garage, losing light, laughing and hugging and crying over a million happy memories, a beat-up old camera, and the sweet sound of a single shutter click.

Covid took so much away, y'all. So much. But the lack and the long darkness has also given me something: a reminder to cherish the small things - even as small as a camera click.

This week is busy for me and John; we're going more places and seeing more people in a week than we did in 6 months last year.  I'm excited, and maybe a little overwhelmed? But it's good. It's good.

Your world may not be opening up as quickly as mine - or you could be way ahead of me, already out there - but wherever you are in this transition back to "normal," I just want to remind you to savor the firsts. The first sit-down restaurant. The first group outing. The first hugs. The first movie and concert and convention. Take the extra moment. Go ahead, lose the light. Savor the firsts.

And now, if you have any, I want to hear about the Firsts that caught you off guard. The ones you never thought about before, the boring, everyday things you never expected to miss, not until you got to see or hear or go experience them again for the first time in a long time. Let's share some happy mundane things, so the folks behind us on the way can see there's hope and light and laughter ahead.


P.S. Congratulations to my 3 Squeegineer winners for May: Laura S., Laura K. & Tracey R.! Please check your inboxes for a message from John, gang, so you can choose your prizes.