Friday, December 31, 2021

OWL BE BACK: That Time I Stalked My Friend With Gift-Wrapping

A few weeks ago, Karen asked Arielle to switch places at our dining room table.

"K, but why?"

"Because that OWL won't stop staring at me."

We all laughed, the two switched seats, and Karen said in exasperation, "Now these ones are staring."

Then Arielle pointed out the owl next to the apothecary:

And the one on the radio cabinet:

And right after I insisted the room did *not* have an owl theme, I realized there were 2 more in the wreath beside me.


And those are just the ones in my dining room.

"Can I sit anywhere in your house without an owl staring at me?"


Fast forward to the next week when I had a spare 45 minutes before a friend's holiday party, and I got an idea. An awful idea. I got a wonderful, awful idea.

Friday, December 24, 2021

My 2021 Christmas Decorations & A Tree-Side Chat

It's here, y'all. We made it. Christmas is tomorrow, and tomorrow night we finally get to relax. At least a little. At least in comparison to the last few weeks.

No more stressing over gifts or parties, no more crowded grocery stores and post offices. After this we get a few moments to soak in the quiet after a long hectic sprint to the finish line.


John and I didn't host a party again this year; instead we focused on going more places and doing more things with friends. We also took on a last-minute construction project for charity, which pushed us to our physical limits. Despite the exhaustion and stress, though, those late nights of work beside their free medical clinic helped me find my "Christmas spirit" more than anything else this season.

All that said we decorated late this year, but I thought I'd take a minute to show you some of the pretties!

We brought our phoenix topper out of storage, and only hung the gradient ornaments, for a simpler look.

We put Fawkes in the back room for the first time, where he just clears the ceiling. This room is where John and I hang out the most at night, so I get to look at this one the most. The twinkle lights are forever magical to me:

Our front room is the cheeriest part of the house, though:

Love those pops of red!

John added garland to the top of the wardrobe:

And my two witch hats both have poinsettia spriggies:

The table top tree has been a work in progress:

A reader named Martha Jane made me a whole set of embroidered Stay Puft ornaments - to go with my double-sided DIY ones - so I decided to take the Stay Puft theme and run with it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

HolMat 2021: We Went To The Christmas Con! And I Have PEEKTURES

Note: Today's post has some PG-13 content in the form of a few risque cosplay photos & some NSFW candy, ha. Enjoy/avoid as you see fit.

It's been 4 years since John and I've been to Holiday Matsuri, aka the Christmas con. Every year we hope to go, but then December happens, we get behind, and poor HolMat gets cut from the schedule.


This year I was determined, dangit, so we crammed a few hours into our over-stuffed schedule and actually made it to Holiday Matsuri last weekend for the first time since 2017. WOOT WOOT! We were only able to stay a few hours, but ohhh, what a few hours. This little holiday con has grown up, y'all. I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) that I couldn't start taking photos for a good 30 minutes; I just staggered around taking it all in.

(Catbus by Allison Chase)

HolMat takes place in an enormous hotel/convention center here in Orlando, and Saturday was slam-packed. Nearly everyone dresses up at this con, which is amazing, and most regulars tend to stay all weekend at the hotel, too, so it has a distinct Dragon Con vibe to it - if Dragon Con was a lot younger and into anime.

Here's that same Hocus Pocus group with flash:

If you're a geek who loves Christmas then this is your con, even if you're not into anime. Most cosplayers add some holiday flair, ranging everywhere from adding a Santa hat to fully re-imagining their character in Christmas colors and fabrics.

It's amazing.

Not only has the con grown in numbers (and WOW has it), the vibe feels older, too. The HolMat regulars are growing up, and there are far more 18+ events now. I think Saturday night had an 18+ cosplay contest, which would explain a few of the costumes you'll see in a bit, haha.

My own outfit for the day:

Friday, December 17, 2021

Weird & Wonderful Finds From A National Antique Fair

A few weeks ago John and I trekked out to Mount Dora for one of my favorite events of the year: Renninger's Antique Extravaganza. For one weekend in November (and another in January & February) over 800 antiques vendors from all around the U.S. set up shop in one enormous field, and it. is. glorious.

When I mentioned this to a friend she asked, "So, what are you going to look for?"

I stared at her blankly. "Oh, no" I said, "That's not how this works."

After all, you don't just set out to find a couple of taxidermied bullfrogs playing billiards... they find you.

You know, later. In your nightmares.

And now, in the spirit of one of my favorite Facebook groups, Weird and Wonderful Secondhand Finds, all me to present my favorite findings of the day.

Starting with this Wonder Bread-themed clown head gumball machine, because even just putting all those words together is a work of art.

I waited 'til he wasn't looking to take the photo.

::evil grin::

I don't know if it's supposed to be Wonder Bread themed, but if not that's a wild coincidence:

 Maybe the gumballs were bread flavored.

And now that you're making that face, here's a black velvet painting of an alicorn flying over Saturn:

Once you notice that wing placement, it's all you see.
(There's a "butt-flap" joke in here somewhere, I just know it.)

I have no memory of taking this next photo, so it's like a little gift to myself from past Jen:

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

It's Gettin' Hoth In Here: Snow Dragon Scarves, Magical Cat Trees, & Small World Christmases

I know we can't complain about Christmas decorations being up too early anymore, but I think you'll still appreciate this photo from one of my Halloween groups:

(Rosanne L. in Halloween Decorations)

We feel ya, Skelly. It's... it's a lot.



In fact let's take a little break from Christmas, and instead gaze in wonder at these incredible Labyrinth candlesticks:

Clare hand sculpted the riddling door guards out of air dry clay, then added them to existing candlesticks. I can't get over how perfect they look, especially with the matching candles!


Ohhh, and I know you're going to love these scarves I found. First we have a cuddly neck dragon:

Felted Snow Dragon Scarf by Peacock Felt

Or, if you prefer to make your own neck wear, Bea of Cottontail Whiskers is selling patterns for this adorable barn owl:

::immediately cranks "As The World Falls Down"::

 I thought the Labyrinth vibes were accidental until I scrolled through Bea's shop; she also has patterns for both a Firey & Ludo! Then there are lots of hilarious and/or geeky gems like these:

Alien curtain tie-backs!

I know I said no more Christmas, but this tree is cracking. me. UP:


Check out Bea's website for all her patterns.

Oh no, the urge to learn crochet is growing. Halp. Or maybe recommend a good kit? No. Yes. NO.


Or yes.


I maintain that you can EASILY work in at least one Jim Carrey Grinch quote per day. The amount of use John and I get out of "It's joyful and triumphant" and "But what would I WEAR?!" is worth the price of admission alone. We also enjoy telling the cats - just before wrestling their mouths open to brush their teeth - that, "this is NOT pudding." Then we laugh like loons while they plot our demise. Good times.

Anywho, let's carry on.


Getting back to our snowy winter theme, take a look at Erica Danielle's gorgeous shabby chic Star Wars Hoth wall:

Friday, December 10, 2021

Night Of A Million Lights At Give Kids The World, 2021

Wow, y'all. What a difference a few days can make.

After my last post John knew exactly what I needed - because I spent several hours telling him. The next morning he visited a few local charities, and almost immediately found us a big construction project at a homeless resource center we love called The Sharing Center. They were panicking over a tight deadline when John walked in and offered our help, so this was clearly meant to be. On Wednesday I got to paint so much my hands are still cramped from the roller pole, and it was fantastic. I was so happy I kept tearing up at odd times, like when I saw how awful the tiny bathroom is that we're about to remodel. YUSSS.

 I know this light will turn to dark and back to light again, but for now, for today, I'm gonna dance around in my painter's jeans and be grateful.

Now, let's talk about another amazing charity: Give Kids The World, the free resort for children with life-threatening illnesses. You've heard me talk about them quite a bit here. Last year during the shut-down they had an event called Night of a Million Lights. (Here's my post with all the photos, go see!) This was such a success they've brought Million Lights back again this year, though with many changes. So naturally we had to go!

The changes are because the Village is open and operational again (yay!), so of course we aren't allowed to tour the neighborhoods where folks are staying. GKTW has done their best to compensate for the smaller venue by amping up what they do have: new and bigger displays, dancing synchronized lights shows, new merch and food options, and a delightful Santa meet-and-greet.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

Let's back up and talk about... our hats.

So last year it was just us and our friend Karen, and we decided last minute to wear festive, silly hats:

This was such an unexpected hit - people approached us all night to compliment our hats - that this year we decided to go bigger. I recruited 4 more friends, and some of us had a craft night to work on our headgear:

John finished his first, and was very proud:

This is before he added the glitter stars and lights.

Both of our hats are made from Dollar Tree santa hats & supplies, so cost about $5 each. John stuffed his with Polyfil to get it to stand straight up, while I rolled a posterboard into a cone for mine. Then I wrapped it in green tinsel, glued on some mini ornaments, and added lights:

It is VERY tall, but the brim was snug enough that it was secure, and actually quite comfy.

Also peep my new favorite t-shirt: TREE REX. This pun works for me on many levels, ha.

Karen brought an enormous foam snowflake (I think from Michaels?), which she attached to a fascinator base made from EVA foam.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

12 Dollar Tree Christmas Crafts I'm Currently Obsessed With

Hi there. How ya hangin' in?

I hope better than me, since today I feel like the cat in that motivational poster from the guidance counselor's office.


So today we're going to take some nice deep breaths, snuggle something fuzzy (people, pets, & plushies all count), and look at crafts. Cool?

Cool cool cool.

In fact, I have one of my own crafts to kick us off! Y'all really seemed to love this one from my Stories:

That's not quite finished; after this I added a door wreath & handle and some side hearts made from candy canes.

For all of you asking for a tutorial, there's really not much to toot: just paint the base brown, pipe on plain white caulking for "icing", and hot-glue on a variety of real and fake candies. I originally made this to wear on my head, believe it or not, but by the time I added all the decor it was a little too heavy, ha. So now it lives on a shelf as decor. (You'll see my replacement silly hat later.)

That's my contribution, now let's look at a dozen more Dollar Tree Christmas crafts I've been saving up to show you. Most of these use low-demand DT materials, too, so hopefully you won't have to run all over town looking for supplies.

1) Candy Dish Lamp Post

This lidded candy dish was MADE to be a lamp post, y'all: just paint the lid black and add a tealight! You can make the stand from a variety of things: pool noodles, candlesticks, or two DT vases glued together like Honey did here. Here's her photo of everything she used:

Friday, December 3, 2021

Orlando's Festival of Trees 2021: My Favorite Designs & Free Wallpapers!

Merry Friday and happy December, my tinsel-coated Christmas bots! I'm a little late with my tree roundup this year, so thank you to everyone who commented or messaged asking for it - makes me feel like my 4 hours of photo editing are worthwhile, haha. (Oh, who am I kidding, I love photo editing - you know I'd do it anyway.)

This year's Festival was a mixed bag for me, since I had a hard time at the event for personal panic reasons. Turns out I was reacting badly to a new generic version of my thyroid meds, so it's all fixed now, but on this day I was anxious, jittery and weak. That combined with more crowds than I expected, plus the changes you're about to see to the exhibit itself, had me grumpy and on edge.

But! Today I get a do-over with all of you. I'm going to try to look at this year's lineup with fresh eyes, so if I say anything grumpy, just smack my hand. You know, virtually. ;)

::opens doors::

Shall we?

The foyer tree this year was smaller than usual, but stunning. It's dripping with crystal swags, glittery leaves, and a pale peach ribbon:

I've noticed that peach is popular this year, so if you like the softer look, I've got more pretties for you coming up.

The foyer tree was sitting on a giant mirror, so looking down was just as sparkly:


From here you walk down this short hall to enter the exhibit areas.

The walls were lined with bare lighted branches, and unfortunately, those lights were set to a high-strobe flashing I dubbed "migraine mode." Most of the Festival guests are senior citizens, y'all. Who made this call.

Hang on, I have to show you I'm not exaggerating. Scroll fast if you're light sensitive:


At the end of the hall is the main hub, with all the exhibits branching off like spokes on a wheel. This hub is usually the big "wow" moment, with some of the largest and most swoon-worthy trees arranged around the walls in a big circle.

Those were all gone this year. ::sob:: In place of the trees were various advertising displays for the Festival sponsors.

Womp WOMP.

I literally walked in and said, "Oh no! Where are all the trees?"

Hang on, there was ONE tree in there, and a quite pretty one:

I told you more pale peach was coming! The tree is actually mostly soft teal, with a few champagne peach accents:

I love it when the museum pairs matching art with their trees:

Right, time to go exploring! The entire layout was different this year, so we got turned around a few times, but never had to go too far to find more trees.

This vintage-style tinsel tree is one of my Top Favorites this year, but WOW is it hard to photograph: