Friday, September 30, 2022

The Ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Menu: With Extra Puns!

Happy Hocus Pocus Fri-yay, y'all!

This has been... quite a week.

So, once John and I realized hurricane Ian was going to blow away our Hocus Pocus watch party tonight, we did something a little drastic:

We set up the entire party spread the night before Ian hit, just so we could photograph everything for y'all before we lost power. That included a late night trip to buy candy eyeballs while everyone ELSE in Orlando was stockpiling water and bread. It was actually a fun project, though, and a nice distraction to keep the storm anxiety at bay.

Anyhoo, we finished taking the last of these photos around 5AM, and the power started to flicker by 9. JUST MADE IT. I'm also happy to report our house survived undamaged, and John & I are safe staying with friends who do still have power.

So without further ado, please enjoy the post that almost didn't happen, and that I'm SO glad came together, because I had a blast and a half coming up with these ridiculous puns.

The Ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Menu:

First a quick moment to appreciate my tablescape, which I cobbled together from things we already had and a few last-minute Dollar Tree items.

Remember this 3D skull DIY? The lights still work!

I hand-cut the letters from card stock that we spray-painted gold, then taped to pieces of twine. Those are my awesome plastic wall bats on each end of the twine.

Now to the treats!

First some easy ones: licorice strips for Sarah's Lucky Rat Tails.

The Dollar Tree rat skeleton was too cute to pass up.

It'd be fun to add a little tombstone in the peanut bowl, if you have one.

Not gonna lie, this is the worst pun, and also my favorite:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

We Made Leather Hammock Shelves For Our Cats!

Hiya and happy Tuesday, cool cats and kittens!

John and I are staring down a hurricane this week, and the prep is adding a slight wrinkle to some of our projects and party plans. So instead of our next Haunted Mansion reveal, today I'm going to show you a slightly more mundane - but infinitely more useful - build: our new leather cat hammocks!

Here's a cat-free closeup:

You may remember our Quidditch Cat Tower that used to sit in that corner, which we built back in 2018:

We've all loved the tower, but it's time for something new. (And don't worry,  it's going to a fellow FoE who's a Ravenclaw, so I'll share the new paint job when it gets one!)

In its place we plan to build a crate display for our BB-8, who's been tragically hidden in a closet. We have our Claptrap in the opposite corner of the room, so I can't wait for BB to join him.

That's for another day, though. 

In the meantime we had to replace our girls' favorite part of the tower, the top perches.

I looked at all the cat shelves I could find online, took the bits I liked, and mashed them into one design. Best of all, we already had everything we needed, so this was a zero cost build! Aw yeeeah.

John made these so fast I don't have earlier process pics, so lemme explain. (No, there is too much. Lemme sum up.)

Each support arm is made of 2 stacked 1X2s, and sandwiched between those are metal L brackets. Each arm is screwed together and wrapped in sisal fabric, with an aluminum rod between them to act as a safety rail.

Those sandwiched L brackets are key. We screwed one bracket of each shelf in a stud, so these are holding like champs even with 17-pound Suki jumping around.

For the hammock we used this thick leather remnant left over from - ooh, here's a blast from the past - my White Rabbit mask:

We had just enough to make both hammocks, which we stained dark brown and sealed with water-based clear coat. Then we added 3 large grommets to each side and screwed them to the underside of the support arms.

I wanted leather because vinyl disintegrates after a few years, and fabric clings to cat hair and is hard to clean. This leather is almost as hard as wood, nearly glass smooth, and a dream to vacuum/wipe out for cleaning. I was also happy to use up something we already had in our stash.

When we first finished the shelves they looked like this:

Friday, September 23, 2022

Spoop Up Your Instagram With These 10 Creepy-Cute Creators

Happy Friday, cuties & creeps! Aren't you glad it's finally officially Fall, so we can fully embrace our batty sides? Granted, some of us have been doing that for a while now, if not year-round... but I digress.

Today I've gathered up a veritable harvest of delicious seasonal creators for your Fall-oween feed tables. No, hang on. Maybe that metaphor got away from me. I'm not saying to eat people. DON'T EAT PEOPLE. Even if they're awesome artists. Just look at their work politely and maybe drool a little.

For example:

- Amy Greenbank paints technicolor pop culture Halloween mash-up Chicken McNuggets, which is exactly the kind of niche art we're here for, yes? (She also has a matching Boo-Berry!)

Amy is a "retro toy artist," and for the season she's doing lots of McDonald's content, which is pure nostalgic goodness:

Head to Amy's account to see every McNugget mashup you could hope for, including She-Rah, Stay Puft(!!), and Beeteljuice, haha. Bonus: she sells most of her art as holographic stickers!


- Cat Mallard has a delicate pen-and-ink style that's pure sugar and pumpkin spice:

Even better, in addition to prints Cat sells her work on teacups, coffee mugs, and even blankets!


- Pickled Circus makes silly spooky sculptures that always make me grin:

One of my all time favorites is Nosferatu in his lil bumper car, ermergosh:

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We Made Chicken Wire Ghosts!

Happy Tuesday, foolish mortals. WELCOME... to my first Haunted Mansion Halloween post of 2022.

These are your hosts. Your... GHOST... hosts.

And also what we're making today.

Yep, despite the blistering heat and monsoon-level humidity here in Orlando, John and I are in full spoopy brain-space. We picked a new theme for our outside decor this year: HAUNTED MANSION - and I'm so excited to brainstorm with you over which projects and costumes we should make!

First, though, is something I've wanted to try ever since seeing the jaw-dropping creations of Brandon Hardy: chicken wire ghosts.

We started with a small roll of chicken wire, a mannequin we bought on FB Marketplace for $25, and a Styrofoam head. (The foam heads run small, so I recommend using the male one.) You'll also need wire cutters, gloves, eye protection, a silicon thimble (which was a LIFE SAVER), and a spool of extra wire for making connections.

While you could easily do this without a mannequin, the torso is super helpful for getting all those tricky curves just right:

In fact the torso is the only piece we used; no need for the arms or legs. We wrapped, squished, and trimmed off the excess chicken wire in the back.

Same process for the head: wrap & squish the wire around the foam head, then trim off the excess and close up the back.

When you cut your chicken wire aim for the middle of each row, so you have wire ends you can bend/twist together to join with other pieces. Then add wire twists anywhere you need extra support.

This was for the skirt. We started with a smaller form-fitting skirt, then added on pieces to give it volume.

Friday, September 16, 2022

10 Groups That Just Might Make Facebook Worth Using Again

Happy Friday, gang! WE MADE IT.

And I have fun stuff.

Now I know some of you gave up Facebook ages ago, and others are too young and hip to have ever used Facebook in the first place... which makes me feel old, so we'll be ignoring that fact.

HOWEVER. Hear me out.

As the landscape of social media gets ever crappier and harder to control, the ONLY place bringing me consistent joy online right now are my Facebook groups. The key is to fill your feed with all the happy-making, super-niche interest groups and fan pages you can find, and then unfollow most of your friends/family.  BOOM. Facebook is a healthy place again!

So to get you started on filling your feed with happy-making groups, I've put together a list of some of my favorites. And since I'm already onboard the Halloween train (CHOO CHOO), I'll be skewing them towards the spoopy side.

'Tis the season to join ALL the Fall and Halloween groups, at least for me, and this group lets folks share their collections and home decor, which is endlessly inspiring:

Right now I'm obsessed with Grace N.'s home tour, omigosh:


And this is her living room!

Please click the link up there to see the rest of her house, because it's all giving me grabby hands.

Even if you've never been to Dragon Con, this is a great catch-all of cosplay, memes, and general nerdy fun.

For example, this photo makes me so happy. These three are my Ones That Got Away this year, completely bummed I didn't see them in person, but I'm happy this photo at least exists. (They're from the original Superman movies; remember "Kneel before Zod"?)

Plus occasionally with this group you get a nerdy one-off, like this boldly going glow-up for Piper M.'s new car:

She made & applied the vinyls herself to turn her car into a shuttle craft! YESSS. I so want to do something like this with a Stay Puft theme on ours.

This one's a page, not a group, but it shares fascinating finds I think you're gonna love. It features gothic, steampunky, and just-plain-cool aesthetics, like so:

From tattoos to DIY to wedding photos, this group is for folks to share any and every thing spooky. I especially like the DIYs, like this classic spray foam burning coals effect:

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Wrapping Up Dragon Con 2022: Sunday Favorites & Stories

Happy Tuesday, my marshmallow fluffs and stuffeds!

As John and I skid through the finish line after nearly two solid weeks of work, I have to thank you for still being here, and for cheering me on even when you have no idea what most of the costumes in our videos are, ha.

(Although I bet you recognize these!)

Convention season is mostly over - just themed Halloween & holiday ones after this - so it's been a blast going all out with my Dragon Con coverage this year. Not gonna lie; my spark has been dimmed of late, at least when it comes to working online. It's so easy to get discouraged when your only measures of success are fickle social media numbers. So I needed this real-life celebration. I needed the face-to-face energy and laughter and creativity to fill up my nerd tank, and now I'm fired up and SO READY to tackle our next big project: Halloween.

(This is not a hint for Halloween.)



But first, let's wrap up the best convention of the year with one more "best of" for Sunday. The song we chose is a total chair dance, and this compilation has more silliness and sound ducked in so you feel like you're right there with us:

Friday, September 9, 2022

Dragon Con 2022: Our Favorite Saturday Cosplays!

If you've ever spent a full week at Disney World then you know that post-vacay stubborness: the one where your brain refuses to do anything but look at pictures and videos and remember all the fun you had, instead of getting back to normal "real" life.

That's totally me with Dragon Con.

Original comic by The Awkward Yeti, not sure who modified it, haha.

So I hope you'll continue to indulge me while I get all this magical wild wonder out of my system.

("Quiet, brain.")

That's the nice thing about being a con photographer: I get to re-live all this goodness while I work on editing, and that goes triple for video editing. Exhausting as it is, John and I haven't stopped for a moment since we got home. So while part of me never wants the work to end, another part is ready for a nice long nap. ;)

That said, early yesterday we wrapped our Saturday video, the longest and arguably best one yet. So. You ready for this??

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Dragon Con 2022: Bunny Hutch & Thursday-Friday Videos!

Happy Tuesday, dragons and (if you're like me) draggin's! I hope y'all had even half as much fun this past weekend as I did, because I'm still riding that Dragon Con high.

I'm also exhausted, of course, since John and I filmed Thursday-Sunday for 8-10 hours, then went back to the hotel to edit until 4-5AM each morning. Annnnd REPEAT.


We also had three separate Epbot meetups, which let us have smaller groups with different folks each time, so we could chat a bit more. (Or try to, over the deafening DJ, ha. Next year we'll go somewhere quieter!) Huge thanks to Rebecca for putting these together, and all y'all in the FoEs Go To Dragon Con group.

Of course the scheduled meets are just for folks who want a guarantee of seeing us; throughout each day we met even more of y'all who prefer the hunt. :D (I do love hearing happy shrieks in the crowd when someone spots us.)

I was a little amazed how often I approached some jaw-dropping cosplayer to ask for a video, only to be told they love us/Epbot. Makes me feel like a blushing fangirl every time - "YOU know who I am??" -  and it fills me up. (Korg, I remember meeting you years ago, too, and you always make my con!)

On Saturday I scribbled in my gratitude journal, "Today made me feel like I add value to this community," which is seriously my life goal, so thanks, y'all.

Now let's get the VIDEOS. Woot woot!

John and I filmed and photographed so much this year we put ourselves at a disadvantage editing-wise: so much content, it was impossible to crank out quick daily videos like we did in 2019. BUT. We do have the first 3 up! And John's working furiously at this very moment to get Saturday done, which will be our longest - and best - yet. Sunday will be epic, too. So definitely go follow the Epbot Youtube channel to see those as soon as they go up.

For now, though, let's watch these in order. I recommend sound on, because we worked really, REALLY hard to incorporate the music, not to mention the Bunny Hutch song is a chill bop.