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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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October Video Round Up!

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I’ve been trying my hardest to make it up to you guys lately that I took such a long blogging break by making it really easy to find everything I created in the absence. Between my cosplay news, books I’ve read and videos I’ve posted, I’ve been a busy little bee!

Today’s blog post will give you a round up of the most noteworthy videos I’ve made in the last month or so, starting with this GeekGirlCon Candyland video I posted yesterday!

 

I am quite proud of it, and my friends were all such good sports for being involved. I love showcasing the things that make me happy for others, and I think this video did that perfectly.

Next was this hilariously exciting Snack Exchange video I filmed with Joe – we had organized a collab of sorts with a couple living in Korea named Evan and Rachel. They sent us a big box of Korean snacks in exchange for a box of American foods they missed from home.

 

We had a BLAST trying everything. Some of it was weird, some was absolutely disgusting… but a lot of it was really great! Thanks again, Evan and Rachel!

The last video I want to share with you is my FALL BOOK HAUL! I can’t get enough of books and reading lately and this is my newest stack of stuff to read.

I can’t wait to get through many of these, and October has been a big reading month for me. I’m only 2 books away from hitting my 30 book goal for 2014! You can bet I’m gonna raise that goal next year – 30 was easy!

I hope you enjoyed my videos, and I’ll be back soon with some more October/Halloween fun!

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GeekGirlCon 2014 WRAP UP!

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This past weekend was GeekGirlCon up here in Seattle, which is a great little convention centered around being a fun and welcoming community that promotes the role of women in geek culture. While men and boys are welcomed and encouraged to attend, the con itself exists to “celebrate and honor the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women world-wide.” I hadn’t been in a couple of years and it was such a treat to see how much it’s grown in that time.

While I attending a number of amazing panels (Working with WorblaWomen and the Horror Fandom, to name a couple) my favorite part of the weekend was cosplaying. This was my third official cosplaying event and I was so pumped to rewear and old costume and try out a new one.

On Saturday, my friends and I wore our Candyland costumes. We debuted these at PAX earlier this year, but since then we obtained a gender-swapped Mr. Mint, filling the group out even more.

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I love these costumes. Not only is Queen Frostine the first costume I made entirely myself, 100%, everything from scratch – but it also brings a certain joy to people’s faces when they realize what we are that I just love. Nearly everyone played Candyland as a child, but very few have seen the characters in any way other than a few inches tall on a game board. Not to mention all the small children who just want to follow us around because they like our “pretty dresses”. Wearing these Candyland costumes is always a delight and GeekGirlCon did not disappoint.

Now we just need the other characters! Anyone interested?

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Sunday, however – Sunday was the day I had looked forward to with both extreme euphoria and fear. After months of work, my Sailor Moon costume was ready, and I couldn’t wait to show it off at the con surrounded by seven (SEVEN!) other scouts.

I’ve been watching Sailor Moon since I was a child – I remember waking my mom up to watch it in her bedroom at 7am before I even knew what anime was or how much it would later affect my life. I remember my resurgence of interest when I was 11, when I started doodling Sailor Scouts on my middle school notes and calling dibs on which scouts we were with my friends at lunch time. I never got to be Sailor Moon. This was a big point of contention for me in middle school – I WAS THE BLONDE ONE. I WANTED TO BE SAILOR MOON.

Sometimes it takes years for justice to be served, I’ve found. Fifteen years, to be exact – because at 26 years old, my cosplay group unanimously decided I was the obvious choice for Sailor Moon. I was giddy, I’m not going to lie. This costume, this group of friends dressing up as the Sailor Scouts… this fulfills a fifteen year old dream for me. So take that, middle school friends. Who’s Sailor Moon now?

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Photo by Sharctank

I had an absolute blast. We found that walking around with a couple of scouts wasn’t too bad – you could still manage to make your way around the con and see things, but if you had more than three (or, god forbid, the whole group) you might as well just stop and pose for pictures. Because that’s all you’d be able to do.

But we loved it. When you spend as much time on costumes as it takes to make these, you want your picture taken. You want to see people’s faces light up when they see you. Sailor Scouts day at GeekGirlCon was one of my favorite days of all time, top five at least. I had the most fun, and I can’t wait to wear them again sometime. Especially since we have a Neptune and a Uranus, they just couldn’t make it to this particular event!

I want to give a special shoutout to GeekGirlCon itself for being such an amazing atmosphere in which to wear costumes – the con has very strict rules about asking cosplayers before you take pictures and it enhanced the experience so very much. I had a number of wonderful conversations with people who enjoyed my costumes because of it, as well as chatting with other cosplayers (who were all extremely friendly and nice). I also loved how open everyone at this con was, turning the “Sex Scenes from the Female Gaze” panel into good old fashioned smut story time. Where else could authors share their favorite sex scenes aloud in front of a respectful and mature audience? It was wonderful.

GeekGirlCon was a fantastic experience, and even though I swore I’d take a break from making costumes until 2015, I’m already mentally breaking that rule by figuring out what’s next.

Stay tuned to my cosplay page on Facebook to keep up with my costuming adventures!

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October Life Update!

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Okay, I haven’t just “sort of fallen off the blogging wagon” – it’s completely left me behind and I’m going to need to call a Lyft to catch back up. Even though writing is just about my favorite thing to do, whenever I start to get busy this blog is the first thing to get the axe. I don’t mean to! I love this blog! But I am going to try to be better. I mean we’ll see, since next month is NaNoWriMo, but I am going to try.

So what’s been getting in the way of blogging for me? Well, I have two easy answers to that, actually.

1. Cosplay

2. Reading

Usually I have a million excuses as to why I haven’t got time for a damn thing, but lately, it’s been those two things, 24/7. If you haven’t noticed, I have recently jumped headfirst back into reading, and it’s been seriously awesome. Every once in awhile I’d feel that little tug, like there was something missing from my life – and it was totally reading. I’ve been doing a book challenge over on Goodreads to read 30 books this year (modest, I know, but I wanted to start realistically) and I am flying through! You can follow me there if you want to see what I’m reading and how much I like the books I’ve read.

And the cosplay… don’t even get me started. To be fair, I love it. I am head over heels, honeymoon phase totally smitten with it. But good lord it’s expensive and time consuming. I don’t even want to know how much money and how many hours I have dumped into this hobby already. I really don’t.

But this weekend I’ll be at Geek Girl Con here in Seattle and I’ll be cosplaying both days! Saturday I will be reprising my Queen Frostine costume I wore at PAX, as we now have the addition of a Mr. Mint and plan to enter the costume contest with them.

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And then on Sunday I get to fulfill a life-long dream of cosplaying as Sailor Moon. That’s right – I’m dressing up as Usagi herself. The best part is, we have an entire cosplay group of every single Sailor Scout, including the outer scouts. The only sad part is that our Uranus can’t actually make the event, but we know she’ll be there in spirit.

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I don’t know how I managed to snag Sailor Moon, but I am so pumped it’s actually happening. I’ve put literal blood, sweat and tears into this project. Between a sewing machine needle going directly into my thumb, to hot-gluing my finger prints off, to having to redo a depressing number of parts of this costume due to mishaps and mess-ups… this pretty soldier of love and justice cannot wait for her costume to be finished so she can just wear it and feel like a magical girl.

I will definitely be posting pictures! Be sure to follow my cosplay page on Facebook for more regular updates about our costume journey.

That’s all for now! Please don’t abandon me – this blog will be up and running again very soon. I promise. Pinky swear. See you later!

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