1. What I am Doing At VidCon 2014

    June 24, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Geek Events, Nerd Topics, Travel, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    I can’t believe how close we are to VidCon. Deep breaths, Kristina. Deep breaths.

    I wanted to write up a quick little post to let you know everything I am doing at the con, since there’s a lot of it. From panels to meetups to running a convention-wide game — I’m gonna be busy! But as usual, I love meeting you guys, so please feel free to come up and say hello! And scan my QR code… but I’ll get to that later.

    Here’s my official schedule:

     FRIDAY JUNE 27:

    Striving to be Sustainable (206AB): 3:30-4:30pm
    Making millions off your web series sounds nice, but for most creators, just the idea of making a living off your content — consistently, and without going crazy — is enough of a dream. What’s the secret to balancing life and work in the web video world on a long-term basis?

    SATURDAY JUNE 28:

    Job Hunters Cast & Crew (209): 12:30-1:30pm
     Join the cast of Job Hunters for a Q&A after a screening of not 1 but THREE episodes of the new season of their web series. Then stick around for announcements and fun surprises!

    SUNDAY JUNE 29: (Disneyland Day!)

    I’ll be hanging at Disneyland with everyone else, but what I really want to share with you guys is the Disneybound meetup I’m co-hosting with my friends Sarah, Leo and Joe. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope you’ll plan to join us if you’ll also be at Disney that day.

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    The last important thing to note is VidCon Arena — the convention-wide game Job Hunters is hosting. You’ll be receiving a QR code sticker in your VidCon bag once you get to the convention, and if you want to play you just need to stick it to your name badge. Then you’ll need to hunt down other players with their own QR codes, Job Hunters arena style. Rack up points and the top winners will get to play LASER TAG with the cast of Job Hunters on Saturday in official Maewin jumpsuits – and they might win some other great prizes!

    I’ll just let this video explain it to you:

     

    Please let me know in the comments if you’re attending VidCon, and hopefully I’ll see you there! I am nervous and excited and I CAN’T WAIT TO GET THERE AHHH.

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  2. Leather Armor: Rose and Thorn Armory Spotlight!

    June 22, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Cosplay, Fashion/Beauty, Nerd Topics, Outfit of the Day, Travel by Kristina Horner

    Last summer, a handful of my friends and I attended the Canterbury Renaissance Faire down in Oregon, where we became acquainted with a small business called Rose and Thorn Armory. We chatted, we tried on their sweet armor, we hung out together later at the bar – basically, they’re good people, they make great armor, and we became friends. I’ve been meaning to do a little spotlight on them for awhile now for this blog, but they recently sent me a few pieces of their armor for a photo shoot, so now seemed like a good time for it.

    The armor they make is awesome not just because it’s actually totally battle-ready, but can also be just as easily used for costumes (which, as you probably know, I am all about). For this photo shoot I didn’t dress it up too much, since I wanted to be able to show off the armor itself (it’s just as stunning worn simply on its own as it is turned into a full-fledged warrior princess costume, trust me). I roped Joe into the shoot as well, to show off the male variety.

    I hope you enjoy! And if you like what you see, please go check out their kickstarter! You will not be disappointed.

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    If you like any of the items we’re wearing above, I’ve got the female warrior princess top and a matching gorget in a combination of purple and black. Joe’s got on a red and black shoulder pauldron and some simple black short arm bracers. You can throw these over a renaissance fair outfit for some added durability and badass-dom, or you can great an entirely new costume out of them! I never even know you could buy armor this legit before I found this company, so I thought it would be fun to share with all of you.

    I’ll be back soon with information about everything I’m doing at VidCon – have a great day!

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  3. YouTube Video: Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

    May 12, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

     

    I posted this video last week and I am quite proud of it… it’s one of my “take the camera with me on an adventure” style videos of my and Joe’s trip up to the Tulip Fields. That might sound lame, but Skagit Valley (north of Seattle) is one of the largest tulip suppliers in the US and their festival brings in hundreds of thousands of people. With 100’s of acres of beautiful flowers, I’m not surprised.

    We caught the tail end of the festival this year, but still had a fantastic time taking in the sights, soaking up the sun, and making a lot of bad tulip jokes. Come along on our adventure, and let me know your favorite festivals/fairs in the comments!

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  4. Secret Side Project for Wyrd – and Fall Schematic!

    March 22, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Nerd Topics, Outfit of the Day, Travel by Kristina Horner

    Many of you saw pictures a while back from a secret project I flew down to NorCal to help out with and were dying to find out what it was for. Now that it’s released, I can finally tell you!

    The super awesome costume/hair/makeup I got to wear on set.

    The super awesome costume/hair/makeup I got to wear on set.

    The project was a favor I did for Wyrd (the company that helped Joe and I make Jetpack Unicorn) and their new app-making company Drawn by Clouds. We were filming a fun little web series called “Dev” to help promote their Kickstarter – and it’s live now!

    This project was a bit different from ones I’ve worked on lately, ie. it was very low budget and a little silly (but ultimately still a lot of fun). It was deliberately made to look amateur-ish to show the struggles of an indie game company trying to bring a game to market, and it shows the team (of which I play the extremely grumpy lead developer) getting their project ready for a fictional kickstarter that runs in tandem with the real one:


     

    It’s pretty rough around the edges, but I love these guys and I super want their game to succeed. No matter what you think of the web series, I highly recommend you check out their game’s Kickstarter because Fall Schematic looks like it’s going to reach extreme levels of awesome and I can’t wait to play it.

     

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  5. YouTube Video: Being Totally Stuck in Montana

    February 14, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

     

    This is the final installment in this week’s video series exploring my recent trip to Montana. Joe and I are definitely home safe and sound now, but I wanted to share the whole gnarly experience with you guys. Please let me know if you enjoyed this style of video and maybe I’ll make an effort to make it more of a norm on my channel!

    In totally unrelated news, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Regardless of your views on the holiday, I hope you manage to spend it with people you love.

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  6. YouTube Video: An IRL Harry Potter Neighborhood!

    February 12, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Travel, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner


     

    This the second video in my Montana series this week, in which Joe and I experience some extreme highs (discovering an actual IRL Harry Potter neighborhood) and even more extreme lows (crashing our car and getting stranded on the drive home).

    Get up close and personal with us as we take you along on our adventure, for better or worse!

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  7. Bucket List: The Winchester Mystery House

    February 10, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

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    Time for a bucket list post! Back in December, I took a road trip with Joe down the coast to LA, making a few choice stops along the way. One, of course, being the Winchester Mystery House. I had heard about this place before but never found a reason to stop – being in San Jose, it’s not exactly on the way to anything, so we factored an extra half a day into our trip and made it a priority.

    We were not supposed to take pictures inside the house, so this picture below is usually all tourists walk away with. Our tour guide, however, was a huge geek about the house and understood the need to photograph the experience. She told us if her back was turned, there “would be no way for her to know we were taking pictures”. So, blog post commence, am I right?

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    The Winchester Mystery house is less of a house and more of a RIDICULOUSLY HUGE mansion that resides in Northern California. The property once belonged to the late Sarah Winchester, the window of William Winchester, of prestigious Winchester Rifle fame. Sarah Winchester was also certifiably nuts. She placed the fate of her existence in the hands of a psychic after the death of her husband and only child. She asked this medium why she had suffered such a terrible loss, and the medium told her that the Winchester family was cursed. Sarah Winchester believed this, and felt the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles were pursuing her family. The medium told Sarah that she could confused the ghosts by building a house that was always changing. Sarah took this advice, moved to California, and begin to build. The house stayed under construction until the day she died. She had a permanent team of builders that worked on the house, and she kept many of the same ones for most of her life.

    One of the first things she had constructed in her new house was a séance room,  which she used every single night. Each morning she would give her builders new plans based on what the spirits had told her the night before, which led to a lot of crazy building plans. Well, that and the fact that Sarah Winchester had very little architectural experience herself.

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    This is a second story door that opens to nothing but a straight drop off outside. Other doors open to blank walls, staircases lead to nowhere, and windows were installed in floors.

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    We were warned multiple times on our tour not to wander off, since it’s totally possible to get lost meandering around for hours in the confusing mess of rooms. Staircases and doors weren’t even the strangest features – probably the craziest part of the house was the “Switchback Staircase”, a flight of stairs that only went up nine feet but includes seven different flights of two inch steps. There was also a staircase that went up and immediately back down to take you to a floor just mere inches higher than the one you were just on.

    Also, despite the 160 rooms in the house, 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys – the entire house only has one shower. Bet that makes dorm life seem a little easier now, doesn’t it! The house also included an incredible amount of technological innovation. For the late 1800’s, it was quite rare to have furnishings such as steam and forced air heating, modern toilets and indoor plumbing, push button gas lights, and a hot shower. The house also contained three elevators, as well as stained glass windows created by the Tiffany company. These stained glass windows still reside in the house, specifically one designed by Tiffany himself that’s value is said to be inestimable. It was carefully designed so that when light hits the crystals in just the right way, the room would be engulfed in thousands of rainbow prisms. Of course, Sarah Winchester chose to install the window in a room facing a wall with no direct light whatsoever.

    IMG_3709Before the giant earthquake in 1906, the Winchester House was seven stories high. Sarah Winchester never bothered fixing most of the damage done to the house, so the house remains to be merely four stories to this day.

    As I said, there was round the clock construction on this house for 36 years from her team of loyal builders. She paid them quite well, as she was well-equipped to do so. She inherited more than $20.5 million when her husband died, as well as fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Her income was around $1,000 a day, which, back in those days was more liked $30,000 a day. THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. PER DAY. I’D PROBABLY GO CRAZYTOWN TOO.

    Sarah Winchester died in 1922, at which point construction on the house immediately stopped. The total amount of money spend on the construction has been estimated around $5.5 million, which in today’s terms would be more than $75 million.

     

    Nowadays, of course, the staff at the Winchester Mystery house still believe the place is haunted. This man in overalls (pictured below), one of Sarah Winchesters esteemed builders, is said to be seen walking around the house, doing maintenance and continuing to work on the house even after all these years.

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    I don’t know if I believe it, but the house sure is crazy. You can feel the vibe of crazy thick in the air as you walk around, ducking so as not to hit your head and you wander through tiny doorways, secret passageways and stairways meant for incredibly short people. I immensely enjoyed my tour through the Winchester Mystery House, but then again, I do love a good haunted house. Sarah Winchester’s story fascinates me, and I am so glad others felt the need to preserve her life and allow us to experience a small piece of it.

    Have you been to the Winchester Mystery House? Have you driven by it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Also, please recommend other haunted houses or must-see locations for lovers of spooky and unexplainable things!

    Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be back soon to cross another thing off my bucket list!

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  8. The Camlann Village Experience

    January 5, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Food, Geek Events, Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

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    Welcome, blog readers, to the Camlann Village Experience. What is Camlann Village, you ask? Well, only the quickest way to be transported back to 1376, to rural life in England. WHY would you want to experience rural life of the fourteenth century? Um, fun, obviously.

    Last month my friends and I donned our warmest Renaissance gear (mind you, we go to Renaissance Faires usually in the general sweltering range of ninety to on hundred degrees, so this was no easy task) and piled in the car to head out to Carnation, WA, to the medieval living history museum known as Camlann. It’s a 501 non-profit educational corporation and it’s also the coolest place you’ll ever go. It’s also delightfully weird.

    Let me preface this review by saying there is no technology of any kind allowed inside Camlann Village. This place takes itself TOTALLY SERIOUS with a capital “Thee”. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the owner felt a little twinge when patrons come in wearing glasses. That picture at the top of this post is so strange because we were literally asked to go outside to take it. In the rain. At night.

    So, Camlann Village is open for various over the course of the year and their restaurant, the Bors Hede is open year round. We, however, were attending one of their choice Medieval Feasts, an event I recommend to all. This particular feast was of the Yuletide persuasion; myself and Ariana had been before but none of our friends had. Forty people sit around a large circular table set up in the basement of the restaurant to enjoy a three course meal served on trenchers – round slabs of bread used in the stead of a plate. If you eat your trencher, you’re out of luck for the remaining three courses of the meal. Also, there’s not really any silverware. I truly wish I could have taken a picture of this for you, but you’ll have to use your imagination here. Just like we’re back in the 1300’s! There was no way I was risking taking my phone out down there. I don’t for one second doubt they had some sort of medieval torture room for technological transgressions.

    I would say about half the people in attendance dressed up. For the rest, there was either a costume rental area or the knowledge of sticking out like a sore thumb. No, I’m joking – it’s totally fine to not dress up, but it really does complete the experience.

    The food was awesome and perfectly period appropriate. The queen of course got to taste everything first, and then dishes were passed around to her right and left after she deemed them worthy of our meal. We alternated between sawing into a whole boar, sampling strange almond puddings, and sneaking seconds of the delicious fenberry pie. My personal favorite was the almond fritters. There was spiced wine poured between each course and I found it delightfully strange as well that whole spices were given out to cleanse the palette near the end of the meal.

    Of course no banquet feast is complete without a show, and the mid-course entertainment was surprisingly good. We had minstrels and storytellers and strange instruments I had never heard of before. Most of the entertainers and drink pour-ers didn’t take it quite as seriously as the guy who runs the place – but in a good way, in a “we’re all experiencing this strange thing together” kind of way. I got a few winks. Right after noticing my cup was filled to the very top. Score!

    In conclusion, going to Camlann Village is one of my favorite things to do with a group of friends around the holidays. I can’t speak for everyone, but I love putting myself in vaguely strange and unusual situations, and the Yuletide Feast doesn’t disappoint. You will feel uncomfortable, you will eat things that look strange, but overall you will have an amazing night you’ll never forget. And at the end of it all, I promise, you really wont miss your phone all that much. Because strange as it is, it’s nice to just experience things every once in awhile. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some phone pics to commemorate everything I do, but I’ll have the memories of Camlann forever either way.

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  9. How to Pick Where to Eat on a Road Trip.

    December 15, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

    I have been truly terrible at keeping up with my blog this month! I was doing so well for awhile there, and then NaNoWriMo just crashed its way in and wrecked my whole flow – and then, well,  December just sort of speaks for itself in terms of getting off schedule. The holidays are in FULL SWING, and the road trip I was on since Monday didn’t help at all.

    But that’s not to say the trip wasn’t totally amazing. I will walk you through a few of the highlights, right now.

    Joe and I hit the road early Monday morning but it wasn’t until about midday that we hit snow for the first time. I was a bit worried about getting my Fiesta through the snowy mountainy part of the drive, but it was never really an issue.

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    I am a rather seasoned road-trip connoisseur, so I filled Joe in on the art of finding good places to eat when you have no idea where you are. All you have to do is look for diner names on the “Food at this Exit” signs, bearing a couple of rules in mind. First of all, you never pick a place you already know. You’re out exploring the open road! Subway can wait! No, when you’re on a road trip, you should always find new places to discover. The best way to pick them (when in reality you have absolutely nothing to go on) is to make sure they match one of two criteria. Rule #1 is to find a restaurant with an actual person’s name (like Rudy’s, or a Glenn’s, or Tracy’s). If the name sounds friendly, the food will probably be delicious. The friendlier, the more delicious. It’s direct variation, folks. Second is to pick a sign that’s written in cursive (or some other cute font). The cuter the font, the more adorable (and subsequently, delicious) the restaurant will be. For example, here’s one of the places we ended up eating at by following this standard set of rules:

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    Cutest font! And it was delicious! And they had amazing blackberry cobbler!

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    On the first day of our trip, we made it all the way from Seattle to Redding, California. It was a pretty intense day of driving, but it was made much easier by the beautiful sights as well as the massive amounts of Nightvale Radio we listened to. Joe and I learned you should probably only listen to 3-4 episodes of Nightvale Radio in one sitting. We learned this by listening to at least 12.

    The next day we were back on the road where we made a stop-off outside of Sacremento to visit the offices of Wyrd, the makers of Jetpack Unicorn. Which is now available on Amazon, by the way. Our next stop was San Jose, but that may need to wait for its own blog post. I may or may not have accomplished a bucket list item there.

    Thanks for sticking with me while I’ve been so crazy busy! There will be many more updates on this blog in the coming days, and in the mean time, please go catch up on my YouTube channel and gaming channel! We just started playing the Adventure Time game and it’s a lot of fun, so don’t miss it.

    How’s your December going? Tell me one fun thing you’ve done this month in the comments, and I’ll be back with another post tomorrow.

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  10. Bucket List: The Night of Writing Dangerously

    November 22, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Geek Events, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    For 7 years now, I have dedicated my Novembers to pounding out novel after novel, fighting against the odds to prove that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. And for nearly as long, other Wrimos across the country have gathered in San Francisco for one night of that month to experience this challenge together, with food, drink, and merriment.

    When I started NaNoWriMo, I was in college. So not only was I writing an obscene amount of words in a month, I was doing it amidst homework! Amidst tests and class periods and my part time job! And each year I thought, “Maybe I’ll make it down to San Francisco this year,” but each year threw new obstacles in my way, and traveling for the sake of writing never fit into my crazy schedule.

    But on this, my eighth year of reckless novel abandon, my friend and writing cohort Liz and I decided THIS. This was our year.

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    I have many blog posts already about the road trip, so for this, let’s focus on the event itself. This is also my very first bucket list post! If you want to see the other things on my (still growing) bucket list, you can check that out here.

    Anyway, Liz and I got dressed up (the theme was Noir) and arrived at the ballroom via Lyft. Let me just tell you, this ballroom was gorgeous. It was located in the Merchant Exchange building right in the middle of the city, and the view was fabulous. There were tables everywhere, a little podium up front for speakers, and raffle prizes along the wall.

    The open bar had fun novelty drinks such as the Noveltini, Cosmonovelton and GimLit. The Noveltini was my favorite. There was also a candy bar, where writers could refill a little white bag with enough sugar as they would need to get them through the write-a-thon. Dinner was fabulous and consisted of too many delicious things for me to even remember, and of course, throughout the night, they also served us donut holes and had a late night milk & cookie bar. The food was by far one of the best parts of the evening.

    As far as activities went, sometimes it felt like there was almost too much to do! There was food to eat (as I mentioned), writers to mingle with, staff to meet, booze to drink, and a professional “author portrait” studio set up in back. Anyone attending the gala could get their photo snapped for use on our NaNo author pages, potential book jackets someday, who knows! That was a lot of fun. There were also timed writing sprints over the course of the night, as well as table wars, which encouraged the different tables of writers to get as many words written as they could so as not to let down your other table mates. It was a good motivator.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    Let me talk about the tables for a second. It was a beautiful sight. The people running this event clearly know what they’re doing, as every single table in that ballroom had a powerstrip beneath it for attendees to plug their laptops into. Just try and imagine a gorgeous banquet room filled with people dressed to the nines with their laptops in a circle around their fancy tables. It was a sight to behold; especially when laptops were favored over other items and no one knew where to put their plates, wine glasses or candy bags. It was a juggling act, but made for great conversation. And, as far as I know, nothing was spilled on anyone’s computer.

    After the food, another big highlight for me was getting to finally meet the people behind NaNoWriMo. This event has literally helped shape the last eight years of my life, and so much of that time was spent alone in my room, fingers poised above a laptop. Getting to not only meet and hug the people who created this crazy project, but to be in a room of 250 others who so completely understand what this project means to me was overwhelming. I might have gotten a little emotional.

    I first met Shelby Gibbs and Tim Kim back at LeakyCon this summer, and they are the ones who convinced Liz and I to make the trip to San Francisco for the event. It was so lovely to see them again, and to get to meet Chris Angotti, the Director of Programs, Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director, Tavia Stewart-Streit, the Deputy Director, and so many others! And everyone knew who I was! Writing that NaNoWriMo song was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they listen to it every year to get pumped to start writing. That meant more than anyone could ever imagine.

    I also got to announce the second table war, as well as saying who won when it was over. I had a blast, especially because it meant I got the microphone for a small amount of time. Of course I used that opportunity to ask for a show of hands for who pronounces it my way, “na-no-wree-mo”. I lost, overwhelmingly, but hey! There were at least twenty or so people who raised their hands!

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    Getting to attend this event was something Liz and I have only ever dreamed of doing. We both managed to write about 2,500 words over the course the evening, made friends with our tablemates, stuffed ourselves with food and drink and went home exhausted but so, so happy. The crazy long road trip we took to get there was completely worth it. I am extremely happy with my very first bucket list item, and if everything on that list is as fun as this first one, then I highly look forward to starting to cross them off over the rest of my life.

    There’s still 8 days left of NaNoWriMo! Who’s still in? How much would you like to be able to attend an event like this, dedicated solely to writing and to raising money to help empower others to write books? It was a dream come true, for me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my next bucket list item won’t be too far off.

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