Friday, January 20, 2023

Epbot Is Changing: It's Time To PIVOT

Hi, friends! Happy Friday!

You probably noticed I've been doing more video content lately, mostly to stay afloat on social media. It's been a hard adjustment, and I've grumbled the whole way, but it's also kind of exciting to create in a new format and see Epbot numbers actually grow again.

Meanwhile, readership here on the blog continues to dwindle. And hey, I get it, most people don't read blogs anymore. The fact that you're still here is incredible, and your support means everything to me, but the online world has moved on. Unfortunately all I can do from here is continue to lose readers.

Also at stake are my mental health and stress levels, as I juggle what is in essence a second full-time job creating and promoting videos and social media posts, all to push people towards this blog, when most are happy with just the videos and posts! John and I've been running full speed since October, giving it our all, but our all isn't working, and something's gotta give.

So starting today, Epbot the blog is going on the back burner. It will still be here - for all of us - but I don't plan to post here again anytime soon. Instead, I'll be doing three things:

First I'm going to rest, because I can't remember the last time I was bored. I can't remember the last time I felt like I'd done enough to take the night off. I've made my living online for 15 years. Fifteen years! The increasing demand to do more, to be more, to craft an update so compelling the algorithm might show it to even a fraction of you... it's a lot. So I'm going to breathe, be still, reset my brain, and let myself dream big dreams again.

Second, John and I are going to spend more time offline, helping people in real life. Our greatest passion has always been serving others, and we already have a list of projects scheduled to get us started. Over the next few months we'll be painting, organizing, decorating, and offering home repairs around Orlando again, all for free. Y'all. I can't wait to work a job that gives me confidence again, without the second-guessing. I can't wait to measure the value of my day by more than post reach, and feel that bone-deep satisfaction of leaving something better than we found it. I want to make helping others in a tangible way my priority, and give Epbot the extras - not the other way around.

And third, I'll continue posting on social media as usual, plus experimenting with longer videos for YouTube later on. Yep, don't worry, I'm not really going anywhere! I'll still be sharing fun builds, events, and silly life stuff. So if you already follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube, not much will change. In fact you may see me more!

I can't promise much as I figure out what this next chapter looks like, so I understand if this change leaves you sad or disappointed. I love and appreciate every one of you, and your friendship has given me life, joy, and purpose for the last 12 years. For those of you who've supported John and I financially - well first, thank you - and also please know we won't be hurt or offended at all if you step away after this. Truly. It's ok. John and I have game-ified being frugal to the point that it's second nature, and we're fortunate to have enough little irons in the fire - online and off - that we'll be fine. If you do want to keep supporting us, then know your money will go towards our work for others. (Work I hope to share more of!)

Like I said, this site isn't going anywhere: it will still be my home base of archives, templates, FAQs, etc. The Squeegineer give-aways will also continue every month. Community wise, both Fans of Epbot on Facebook and the Epbot Discord are going strong, and are independently run by amazing Epbot volunteers so we have a place to hang out together. Plus who knows, I may post here again! I just know for now, for this season, I'm ready to spend more time offline, get my hands dirty, and find fresh ways to share my joys and passions with you.

This decision has been YEARS in the making, but I don't mind telling you I'm scared spit-less. I don't like change. I'm even more terrified of failure. But I also believe we should make decisions based on hope, not fear, and this decision gives me so much hope.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

See you out there, friends and FoE.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

DIY Hobbit Party Games! The White Oliphaunt, Tiny Tator Challenge, & Mount Doom Ring Toss

John & I made three themed games for our Hobbit party last week, and they were SO FUN I thought I'd give y'all the rundown.

First, the Mount Doom Ring Toss:

Admit it, you'd watch this crossover.

The rings were pretty hard to land, but dang this looked amazing on our back deck:

John carved the mountain from pink foam scraps, then placed it on a table covered with stiff canvas to give it more height. (Build photos here, if you're curious.) He added flame lights inside, piped in "smoke" from our fog machine, and finally aimed a black light at the whole scene from the roof:

Our Rings have invisible script that glows when taken closer to the mountain:

Friday, January 13, 2023

WDW's Dapper Day 2022: Fun With Kevin At Animal Kingdom!

I still have more Hobbit party coverage for you, but for now let's take a little break and time travel back A WHOLE YEAR to WDW's Dapper Days last month. ;)  John and I spent our Saturday at Hollywood Studios filming all the dappers, so if you missed that post and video, definitely go see. SO FUN.

Sunday at Animal Kingdom was our bonus day, and thanks to some amazing friends we were able to surprise my parents by bringing them along, too. Considering we only gave them about 15 hours notice, they pulled off "safari dapper" quite spiffingly:

You can see my Dad spared no expense.

Yep, Dad's wearing a completely unintentional John Hammond 'bound, something I didn't realize 'til the Jurassic Park references started flooding my inbox. Y'ALL ARE MY PEOPLE.  

John and I threw together last-minute intentional 'bounds to make the day more colorful:

Kevin & Russel from Up!

We got to see Kevin herself three times that day, and each time received a hilarious or adorable response. HIGHLY recommend bounding as Kevin to meet Kevin, I think I made some core memories.

Here's one of my favorites:

Kevin strode over, spun around, and kind of shimmied into place beside me in the crowd. I was laughing my fool head off, but still managed a selfie:

... with her butt. :D

Later we got a proper portrait:

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Hobbit Party Aftermath: Invaded By Hobbits & The Swedish Chef?!

Happy post-party Tuesday, potato friends! Last weekend was our big Hobbit Holiday: Second Christmas party, and it was everything John and I hoped for and more. EEEEEE so incredible. I'll get to some fun pics in a sec, but first, the "more" part:

We were heading for bed around 3AM the night before when our kitty Suki had some, shall we say, poop issues. Stuck poop issues. Which quickly required a 4AM emergency vet visit.

::Jack Nicholson Joker voice:: "THIS CAT NEEDS AN ENEMA."

Still cute even with stuck poop. That's my girl.

We were already exhausted and stressed, so this wasn't the best way to start Party Day, but it all came out OK in the end. (Eh? EH?) The hardest part was waiting a couple hours at the ER, then dealing with our other cat, Eva, hissing and running from Suki for the last 3 days. Suki herself is happy as a poop-free clam, though, and has been vigorously head-butting everything and everyone like a big cuddly floofball.

K, enough cat poop talk. Here comes the poop on the party!

I will never miss a chance to fangirl over my amazing friends, so let's start with a Hobbit fashion show. (The official House Tour & games report will be later.)

Starting with a bang:

Gand-ALF, y'all.

Gand-ALF WAS HERE. (The feet! Aaaa!)

Not many would bring TWO costumes to a party, but Richard went that extra mile. Here he is in comfier costume #2 with his date Autumn:


I've been featuring Autumn & Richard's cosplays for YEARS here on Epbot, btw. I finally stalked them long enough that they agreed to be our friends, so score one for internet stalking.

"Best Entrance Award" goes to our friend John, who put his own daughters in chains to be a (surprisingly festive) Black Rider, bahaha:

I took maybe 5 pictures all night, and this was one of them. I believe I chose wisely.

John also brought this:

Spoiler: it was mead.

This is (most of) our found family, btw, who we spend every major holiday with:

That's Anna and John in the back, Robyn & Christie in front. It's wild to me that we met because I took a photo of the sisters in MLP cosplay back in 2011. Just... wild.

Right, on with the fashion show!



Friday, January 6, 2023

We Made A Punny "Mines Of Moria" Bathroom, And We're FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS

Y'all knocked it out of the park with your suggestions for our Doors of Durin, so I thought I'd show you the winning phrase, plus take a tour of our finished guest bath.

The runners up were "Wipe, you fools!" - one of mine - and Julie's actual Gandalf quote, "Have patience. Go where you must go, and hope." Which is hysterical as a bathroom quote, but a bit too long for our door.

Kathy D was the winner with her "excrete, friend, & flush," which made us cackle. We swapped in "exit," though, to better match the original "Speak, friend, and enter."

So yeah, our phrase that pays is "Excrete, friend, and exit."

I'm adding the invisible black light paint here.

And here are our Doors of Durin, all finished!

John and I did one final push to finish the bathroom this week, and we are WIPED, lemme tell ya.


So how 'bout a tour?

And now some photos, to show off the details. We went SUPER dramatic and dim with the lighting, so getting these was a challenge.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Hobbit Party Progress: Our DIY Doors Of Durin & Mount Doom Ring Toss

Hallo, friends! I've missed you! How'd the last week and a half go? Unfortunately I was on the couch with a sinus-y head-cold thing for most of it, including Christmas, so John and I had to spend the day alone.  That's ok, though, because in true Hobbit style we have SECOND Christmas to look forward to.

Yep, while everyone is posting recaps and resolutions, John and I are still merrily decorating, wrapping gifts, and working on our costumes.


He's been growing out his hair, and thrifted everything except the cloak, which is just some pinned green fabric.

While I was down John made all SORTS of Hobbit party things, which I'm about to show you. My only contribution today is the bathroom sign, but at least it's some of my finest work:


[Update: by popular request, here's my image file. Feel free to download & print your own!]

I also planned and wrapped a bunch of things for a "White Oliphaunt" dice game, since the Critical Role gang made it look so fun on 4-Sided Dive.

  Meanwhile, John's smallest project last week was an 8-foot tree of Gondor for the back yard:

It's plywood covered in glitter, and we have a bunch of lights around it, so it's all sparkly at night.

John's favorite build is completely over-the-top ridiculous, and all his idea, ha.

First he hand-painted a block wall onto pink foam:

... which looks like this: