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Atlantia by Ally Condie – Review!

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I’m a big fan of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, so when her new book Atlantia came out, I was first in line to read it. I was pleasantly surprised by this dystopian novel that breaks many rules, doesn’t have a love triangle, and really made me think. Watch my video above for my full review!

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October Favorites Video!

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Okay, it’s clearly NaNoWriMo up in here… first a Halloween post and now my October Favorites video? I know, I know. What can I say, I’ve been busy writing a novel! I don’t know what’s come over me, actually. After 3 days I’m already at 10k, double the “recommended” amount – so this is shaping up to be one crazy November.

But! Today’s post isn’t about writing, it’s about favorites. And the video I made to share them. So here it is!


How are everyone’s months going? Busy? Cold? Gearing up for the holidays? I’ve been in an inexplicably good mood so far in November, so I really hope it keeps up. Maybe this year will be my best novel yet! Who knows!

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Halloween Party Photo Dump

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Hello, lovely blog readers! I know we’re well into November by now, but I still wanted to share with you a few photos of our Halloween party. Halloween is a big event around here for my housemates and I – we’ve thrown a party each Halloween since 2008; it’s automatic now. Halloween rolls around, we throw a party. It’s always big, loud and tons of fun.

This year’s didn’t disappoint! We turned on those black-lights, cranked up the tunes and opened our doors!

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This is the one day of the year we actually put our built in bar to use! This is where we stuck chips and all the various bottles of booze, mixers and beer.

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This was the ‘fancy drinks’ table. We reused our Unicorn’s Blood recipe from last year’s Harry Potter party (Blue Hawaiian Punch and whatever vodka you have lying around) in our punch fountain, vodka gummy worms (dear lord these were strong) and radioactive green test tube shots (pineapple juice, sour apple shnapps, dragonberry rum and a few drops of green food coloring).

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This was our food table! This year we had the Mummy-Rollups (weenies wrapped in crescent rolls), graveyard dip (standard 5 layer dip with tombstone shaped “headstone” crackers) and orange pumpkin-shaped rice krispies treats.

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IMG_7474 Finally, it wouldn’t be a party without good ‘ol Aragog. It felt like old times, having our little spider friend watching over the festivities.

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How was your Halloween? What did you do? What’s your favorite Halloween snacks or drink? let me know in the comments, and I hope your Novembers are off to a great start!

 

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Scary Book/Movie Reviews!

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For some reason, I got really into the horror genre this year. So much so that I made it my goal to read and watch as many scary things as possible during the month of October.

I’d never really been very into scary books or movies before this year, but due to a combination of a newer friend introducing me to some of her favorite scary movies and attending a really great panel on females and the horror genre at Geek Girl Con, it just really piqued my interest this season.

This video is a wrap up and review of everything I read and watched, if you’re interested!

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Barbie and Ken Costume Tutorial

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Generally when I am making costumes, I enlist the help of awesome online tutorials for the more difficult parts of the process. However, while making Barbie and Ken costumes (of the Toy Story 3 variety) for my boyfriend and I this Halloween, I found basically nothing to help me on my journey, so I had to figure it all out myself.

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I decided I would, in turn, help the rest of you out trying to make these costumes yourselves by showing you what I did!

First, Barbie. Hers is the easy one.

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I basically bought every piece of the costume online and assembled it – pretty simple! The pieces you need are:

1. Stretchy blue one-piece (I bought this one). The picture at this link shows the solid, matte blue one (like she wears in the movie) but the metallic one is what came in the mail. I was a bit disappointed, but luckily this metallic one is what the actual barbie doll version of Barbie wears, so it will do just fine!

2. A pink belt or any belt that’s got the right buckle, painted pink – if it’s a leather belt, make sure to use leather paint (which you can buy at Joann’s or most other craft stores). I found mine online ages ago, but there are usually extensive belt sections at secondhand stores, so you’ll likely find something.

3. A pink scrunchie (I bought mine at Claire’s).

4. Pink pumps (I got mine at Payless Shoe Source).

5. Striped leg-warmers. Unfortunately this is the difficult part. I commissioned mine from a knitter I know (Bananavenger on Twitter), so that’s always an option – but you can always use these rainbow ones in a pinch.

That’s it! Barbie is ready! Now on to the slightly more difficult one, Ken.

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So! The first thing about Ken’s costume to note is that none of it is stuff you’re likely to find online or at Goodwill. If you do, more power to you. I couldn’t, so I made it all myself.

I couldn’t find any button down shirts or pants or shorts even remotely the right blues, so I went with a standard white shirt and a pair of white jeans, a size or two too big for my boyfriend so we could get that bunched look when he wears them. To conserve dye, I cut the pants off at the knee before dying. Then I bought two packets of “Dylon” dye in Chine Blue at my local craft store and went to town.

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They both came out a nice light blue color – the shirt was perfect, though the shorts were a bit light. I ended up leaving them as they were, but if you want a nicer blue for the shorts, I would recommend buying a third packet of Dyson dye and doing them again.

Then, start painting the shirt! I used fabric paint I bought from Joann’s, matching the colors as closely as I could. First I started with the blue spots, making them irregular and funky and covering the front of the shirt entirely. Make sure you place a piece of cardstock or something similar between the layers of shirt so it doesn’t bleed through or stick to itself when the paint dries.

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Let that layer dry, then add the black spots! Another round of drying and you can add the little gold embellishments. It takes forever, so make sure you watch something on TV while you do it.

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Done! And to be honest, it looks much better than anything you’d be able to find online. There’s nothing wrong with using an existing blue cheetah print shirt, but painting it yourself looks so legit!

Repeat the same steps on the back of the shirt, and make sure to get both the inside and outside of the collar, since you’ll be popping it like you’re at a college frat party.

As for the shorts – regardless of whether you used pants or shorts, you’ll need to roll up the bottom hem to create that folded over look Ken has. It should stay on its own, but if it’s being difficult, throw a quick little stitch in the sides and it should be fine. You also might want to stitch in the “pleats” at the top, if the belt doesn’t quite hold the shape alone. This is something you’ll want to do while the shorts are being worn (to make sure they still fit after taking them in), so it’s kind of a two person job.

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Next was the belt. I think what Ken actually wears is technically a leather belt, but finding a solid rectangle belt buckle on a leather belt was near impossible so I just went with this military style canvas belt in beige.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.37.43 AMI used fabric paint (the same gold I used on the shirt) to paint the beige fabricy part, then painted the buckle with acrylic paint in black and yellow. Pretty straight forward, and it comes out looking like this:

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The shoes were super easy. I found this pair of leather slip-ons at Goodwill (technically Ken wears boat shoes, but this just seemed so much easier to paint and I don’t think anyone will notice).

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Then I purchased a 4oz bottle of “Pale Blue” leather paint from Angelus Direct. I was worried the color might be too bright, but again, it was pretty near perfect. I’ve done shoe painting for costumes before and it usually takes 4-5 coats, but these shoes only took 2. After 2 coats, they looked solid, perfect, amazing. Also, as a tip, I prefer a sponge brush for painting leather.

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Of course, the finishing touch is the ascot. Or the “regular blue neck scarf”, as I found it to be while researching, since an ascot is actually something entirely different and Barbie lied to you. You can make one yourself by purchasing a bit of silky blue fabric and tying it around your neck – or, if you want to just grab it online, you can buy this ladies neck scarf on Amazon and then just pretend it was always made for a male children’s toy.

And that’s it! I don’t have a final picture of us in our costumes yet, since we’ll be wearing them next week for Halloween, but I’ll be adding the picture later if you wanna check back and see how it all turned out. Good luck with your own Barbie and Ken costumes, and send me a picture of your finished product if you used this tutorial! Happy Halloween! (or cosplay or Disneybounding, I suppose!)

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Pep Talk!

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Hello lovely blog readers!

Did I just hear a – a chorus of groans? You know it’s coming, don’t you. NaNoWriMo is upon us, and we have just over a week left to prepare. What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? Well, luckily for you, I’ve just posted my annual NaNoWriMo video – explaining the event and giving tips/advice to anyone out there who might be interested in participating.

Also, if you’ve been watching my videos for at least a year, there’s a chance I may call you out by name. Why? Well… you’ll see. *evil laughter* *more evil laughter* *even more evil – wait I have to write a novel too, I don’t have time for three rounds of evil laughter, I’m off to brainstorm whatever the heck I’m writing this year*

If you’re attempting NaNoWriMo this year, good luck! Add me as a writing buddy, and let me know in the comments of this blog post if you do!

 

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#Readathon Mid-Event Survey

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Okay. We’re officially halfway through Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and I’ve officially done a terrible job thus far. I’ve only read about 60 pages of a book, I overslept, my head hurts so I spent even more time napping, and I haven’t even gotten to do any of the challenges! This is a very good example of “life getting in the way” of a readathon I was super excited to take part in. Sigh.

However! We’re only halfway through, so there’s still time to turn it around. I’m grabbing some water, a blanket, and I’m gonna power through my book. And I’m gonna start getting back on board by filling out the “Mid-Event Survey”.

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? I am 60 pages into Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which is something I’ve had on my shelf for years but never picked up.
2. How many books have you read so far? Eh… this is still my first book of the day.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Well, if my some miracle I can both finish The Graveyard Book and start another, the next on my list is Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I guess I shouldn’t have started this blog post with a preface, since I seem to have answered many of the questions already, indirectly. I have had ALL the distractions, most of which being this stupid headache. So far I have dealt with them by letting them win, but I am GONNA READ THIS BOOK NOW. OR ELSE.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? It’s hard! But I’ve been enjoying seeing everyone taking part in it and doing the challenges, and I hope my next foray with this readathon is better than this one.

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How are you doing? How much have you read? Have you read either of these books?

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Weird Reading Position Challenge!

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Hello, lovely blog readers!

Today’s blog post is going to be a little bit different, because I am actually hosting a challenge for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! To find out more about this read-a-thon, check out their website and consider joining in! Because – good news! It’s only currently Hour 3 of this 24 hour event, so you’ve got plenty of time to grab a book and dive right in.

For those of you specifically here for the challenge, here it is:

Take a picture of yourself in the weirdest reading position you can think of.

Whether that’s standing on your head, hanging upside down off your bed, or with seventeen things stacked on top of you — I wanna see pictures! Here’s mine, if you need some inspiration:

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Leave a comment on this blog post with your photo entry as well as your twitter username so I can contact you directly if you win.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper challenge without a prize, would it? The winner of this challenge may choose a prize from this site! I’ll be announcing the winner on my blog later today, so check back to see if you’ve won!

If you’re participating in the read-a-thon, good luck! And if not… what are you doing?! Grab a book!

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Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld – Review!

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This video is a week or two old, but I wanted to give people a chance to get out and grab this book before posting my review here. I’m talking of course of Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, a really unique new book that centers around both a girl name Darcy and the character she creates named Lizzie. This book really spoke to me because she wrote her first novel in 30 days, in November, which many will recognize to be NaNoWriMo. I loved reading about someone else’s experience with the project, and I had a lot to say about the book!

Have you read Afterworlds yet? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Please leave me comments and let me know your thoughts!

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Geeky Pumpkin Carving!

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Hello, lovely blog readers!

Halloween is my favorite time of year. It’s the only time when the rest of the world shares my love of costumes, everything smells like cinnamon and pumpkins — and suddenly it’s totally normal to do things like getting lost in fields of corn and scooping the innards out of a pumpkin!

My family was diligent about carving pumpkins together each year, and that’s a tradition I’ve carried on with me into my adult life. But I’ve never been a “scary face” jack-o-lantern type of girl… no, I’ve been making geeky pumpkins since my parents trusted me with my own knife. While I’m now a big fan of drawing my own pattern, I definitely used to look them up online before I had any idea how to do it myself.

In the past I’ve made Harry Potter Pumpkins, Lumpy Space Pumpkins, and this year I’m planning to figure out how to get Sailor Moon’s face on there. Maybe. We’ll see.

However! If you’re a bit artistically challenged (no judgement here!) Nintendo has graciously offered these sweet Mario templates for video game nerds to geek out with their… seeds out? That joke sort of got away from me there. Anyway we’ve got Bowser, Boo and Shy Guy for you to pick from:Bowser-Stencil KingBooStencil ShyGuy-stencilIf you decide to use any of these templates, let me know! Or, if you design your own original geeky pumpkin, please send me a picture! I would love to see what you create. Send me an @reply on Twitter, you know my username!

 

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