Tuesday, May 24

Spoiled Again

After spending most of last weekend outside doing yard-related projects like planting our garden (hooray!), we started this week by tackling an indoor project. By we, of course, I mostly mean my talented husband again. (I just helped with the cleaning parts.)

I've long been wishing for a table/shelf surface over the washer and dryer in the laundry room. As is usually the case, there's been just enough room to drop things between and behind the machines... but not enough to easily retrieve them. Also, the contoured surfaces of the machines made them natural dust magnets.

So, after a little ingenuity, a lot of measuring, and some patience, look what he made for me! Isn't it beautiful? My picture really doesn't do it justice. It fits flawlessly snugly, is a snap to clean, and reflects the light so the entire space feels brighter. I'm extremely happy with it, and just had to show it off. It's good to be spoiled!   : )

Friday, May 20

Spoiled Wife

A couple years ago, when we were prepping to go to ComicCon (check out our costumes here) my husband taught himself leather working. He did a fantastic job on several pieces that we needed both times we hit ComicCon, including custom holsters for Malcom Reynolds' and Mara Jade's guns, and Mara's jump harness and belt.

Somewhere in among our costuming adventures, I came to the unwelcome conclusion that I needed a new purse. I dislike purse shopping to about the same degree I dislike being forced to buy new clothes. [Hint: A Lot.]

The one I'd been using wasn't really big enough for every day use, particularly since I am one of those people who really prefers to carry a book around if there's any possibility I'm going to have to wait somewhere. It had seemed functional when I bought it, but didn't end up being quite as good in practice as I'd hoped.

So, I headed to pinterest. If I had to shop, at least I could do some browsing online to narrow down my options instead of actually trekking to a store, right? Naturally, I found something that looked really good... for $250. I never have, nor ever will, pay that kind of money for a purse. Ever.

I pinned it anyway, as a general style reference and reminder to myself that I couldn't put off finding a new purse forever. Then I forgot about it. Until my husband saw the pin pop up and said, casually, "I could totally make that for you."

And he did! I picked red, because it's my favorite accent color (and goes with 90% of my wardrobe), and he got some wonderfully soft red leather and made me a new purse, just like the one I'd pinned, only better!

My photos don't begin to do it justice, but I'm delighted with it and just had to share about what a spoiled wife I am. : )

Wednesday, May 18

Food For Thought

Recently, I ran across two articles that provided an interesting juxtaposition of views on Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. 

The first asserted that women are being short-changed and taught to "think small" by books that masquerade "domestic obligations" as enlightened self-help. The author suggests that we're all being pushed back towards 1950's ideals of model wives in model homes, vacuuming in our pearls and heels when we buy and read books that advocate minimalist living or prompt us to put too much attention into our homes. 

The second article was written by a consummate bookworm, and encouraged people to set their own boundaries when it comes to implementing lifestyle suggestions like Kondo's "spark joy" criteria. As the author eloquently points out:
[Books] are not impersonal units of knowledge, interchangeable and replaceable, but rather receptacles for the moments of our lives, whose pages have sopped up morning hopes and late-night sorrows, carried in honeymoon suitcases or clutched to broken hearts. They are mementos...
 What struck me about reading the two articles so close together was the way that the first author misses the real value of books like Kondo's entirely, while the second - although advocating wariness of and adaptions to such suggestions - very clearly gets it.

Regardless of whether they are enlightened self-help or domestic guidance manuals in disguise, or if we agree with their suggested methods or not, books that make us reflect on what we truly value  are exceptionally important. In a world that where we are perpetually fed other people's expectations and exposed to image-saturated advertising (both overtly and covertly), prompts to step back and ask questions like "what sparks joy for me?" play an indispensable role in preventing ourselves from drowning or getting lost in pursuits, possessions, and practices that don't really serve us.

If I hadn't run into these articles so close together, I probably wouldn't have given it much thought. I've already read Kondo's book, applied what worked for me, and moved on. But it was nice to have an impromptu reminder of the wisdom that can be found in sometimes unexpected places, and of the value of occasionally stepping out of the bustle of daily life to reflect and make sure I'm putting my time and energy into things that really matter.

Monday, May 16

Where Do I Apply for Global Warming?

Our newly expanded rhubarb bed. Two mature plants on
the right, two new ones on the left.
 Can anyone tell me where to apply for global warming?

I keep hearing about it. It's in the news, discussed at massive international seminars and conventions, and giving all kinds of environmentally conscious people serious heartburn.

But for all the fuss, I am displeased to report that it's May and it snowed here. Not the beginning of May, the ides of May. And not just a little flurry - a full bore, whirling-snow-everywhere-to-practically-white-out-conditions snow that stuck to the garage roof and the porch until the sun came up the next morning.

As someone who has fruit trees already starting to show green and thinking just beginning to blossom, this nonsense is unacceptable! We know better than to try to plant our garden proper before Memorial Day, but there's nothing we can do about timing of the trees or the rhubarb plants.I will not be a happy camper if we lose our chance to get fruit because of unreasonably crazy weather patterns.

So if anyone knows where I can apply for global warming and get some proper spring-heading-for-summer weather out here, please let me know.

Our new asparagus bed! Fully planted, but not yet sprouting
anything noticeable. Exciting anyway.

Wednesday, May 4

ComicCon (Warning: Long Post, Lots of Pics)

Us at ComicCon two years ago as Malcom
Reynold and Inara Serra.
In honor of today being Star Wars Day (may the fourth be with you!), I thought it appropriate to finally get around to posting about our awesome trip to ComicCon back in March.

It's taken me forever to post about this not because it wasn't awesome, but because it was so incredibly shiny and there was so much to tell that it was difficult to even begin figuring out how to post about it all! Thankfully, the fact that it's Star Wars Day lends a little structure to this post and makes my life easier.

Last time we went to ComicCon (two years ago) we went as Malcom Reynolds and Inara Serra from Firefly/Serenity. Eric was decidedly the more recognizable of that pair (mostly because Inara has a different outfit every episode rather than a trademark one that's easy to place). That resulted in him being the one who garnered the most initial attention. (Though lots of girls were envious of my red satin dress!) 

We opted to hit the ComicCon in Salt Lake again because (a) it's big enough to draw big name stars without being so big you can't get tickets, and (b) the city is very navigable and visitor friendly. (Although I won't get off on a tangent here about all the awesome food we got while we were there, I must give kudos to SL for having a slew of top-notch restaurants that make online menu perusal and reservations easy, and don't so much as blink when you tell them you need to eat gluten free! )

Us at ComicCon this year as Luke and Mara Jade
Skywalker. Note the purple light saber because
I'm "morally ambiguous". Hahaha!
This year, we went as Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker from Star Wars. 
Obviously, Luke is well known, though the movies really don't do him justice. He's much more powerful, creative, and fun in the books! (He was Rogue Leader, after all.) His wife, Mara Jade, played a huge role in the Extended Universe (EU) books but is no longer considered cannon now that Disney has bought out the franchise. (Note: This is positively criminal, because she is amazing.) For those who have not read any of the books, Mara Jade was raised from childhood to be the Emperor's Hand... aka, personal assassin who reported directly to the evil Emperor. She met Luke when assigned to kill him... happily, the whole blaster-to-the-head thing didn't stop them from starting a strong friendship when she opted not to kill him after all. She has red-gold hair, green eyes, a snarky personality, is never caught unarmed, and is possibly the last person in the galaxy you want to piss off. After the Empire falls, she becomes second-in-command of a smuggling/information brokering organization before eventually becoming a Jedi and marrying Luke. She then spends what remains of her life running around saving the galaxy and restoring the Jedi order with him and raising their son until her untimely death at the hands of the Sith Lord Darth Caedus (aka Leia's eldest son Jacen).

Mara's exclusion from the new round of movies has made a lot of people nostalgic for her character, so this year I was the one who tended to garner more instant recognition as we walked around. That may also have something to do with the fact that Luke wears traditional Jedi robes, and Mara never lost her penchant for the bodysuits she wore as the Hand and a smuggler...

Mara Jade, getting rid of a few Weeping Angels.
A friend with a 3D printer made one of the pieces for Mara's jump harness; my talented husband did all the rest of the leather working involved in the harness, arm bands, and weapons belt. I cannot begin to tell you how much I wish belts like this were standard attire. Look - lots of room for a blaster, to hang your light saber off of, even room to pack a few thermal detonators if you want! (And really, who doesn't want to keep a few on hand, just in case?)

Luke and Vader face off.
Happily, with the new movies out, there was an abundance of other Star Wars characters to interact with. It was kind of sad to see a lot of the younger kids have no idea about the EU, but I was impressed by the number of people who knew who I was and were happy to see Mara Jade not forgotten in the cosplay world. I was also delighted to see both an excellent Vader and top notch Mandalorians, as well as a generous sprinkling of famous sith lords. (Note: Mandalorians are bounty hunters/mercenaries ala Boba Fett.)  

This year, I definitely wanted to get to some more panel discussions. We hit a few duds (and left them early), but we also sat in on some really, really good panel discussions. My personal favorite was the one of structuring your life to support creativity, which was hosted by professional authors and illustrators. We also got a sneak peak at the trailer for the new World of Warcraft movie, sat in on an energetic debate about one-season wonders and their untimely demises, and a heated debate over which Star Trek captain was the best. (I'm still genuinely shocked that that one never devolved into a fist fight, given the passions involved.)

One of the things I personally loved about sitting in on those panels was watching other geek couples in the audience. In a lot of venues these days- even traditional ones like churches - marriage and strong, loving relationships don't get a lot of respect. This feels doubly true, I think, for people like me, who have physical touch as a Love Language. So it was incredibly refreshing to spend three days surrounded by examples of really happy couples enjoying things they loved together. There were fun couples costumes, couples snuggling together while hanging out at panels or in the halls outside conference rooms waiting for panels to start, and couples holding hands (or claws, depending on their costumes!) while wandering the vendor floor. In case you're wondering, this respect for strong happy relationships and lack of self-consciousness in showing it appears to be distributed equally between the good guy/Light Side/hero side of things and the villain/Dark Side/Hoarde proponents.

Luke takes on a Mandelorian!
We spent a lot of time just wandering around the main vendor floor being overwhelmed by shiny things, doing impromptu photo ops with people, and appreciating other people's awesome costume ideas and creativity. I had a great time talking to the people at the book/publisher booths and insanely expanding my reading list. As much as I adore amazon, it's nice to occasionally talk to real people who actually listen to your preferences (and 'can't stand' list) and can make informed suggestions about what you might like next. I also did a lot of drooling over shoes. I am definitively not a shoe fetish person, preferring to only ever have a handful of shoes at a time, but I'm apparently not above shoe voyeurism because I ogled a lot of gorgeous heels and boots this trip! In my defense, there were some really nice, really fun shoes, boots, and other creative foot wear! As usual, I was a bit of a hair voyeur as well. I was super happy with my own red locks, but I'm always impressed by the way some people can pull off electric blue, purple, and other unique colors. 

Okay, I think that's all the rambling. Now on to a smattering of fun pics! These are in no way a comprehensive representation of all the awesomeness we saw, but they'll give you an idea of the diversity and creativity you encounter just wandering the halls. 

Mara's jump harness, in progress.

Emperor Cusco from the Emperor's New Groove.
Beware the groove!

Luke Skywalker vs. Xenomorphs from Alien. Hooray meta!

I am so glad someone did this! Giorgio Tsoukalos (sp?)
from the History Channel. If you haven't seen him, seriously go
to youtube and look him up. Lol.

Kaylee's shindig dress from Firefly!

Really good Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Multi-pass!

Mr. and Mrs. Terminator, cybernetic eye and all!
They were super nice, incidentally.

This guy gets the Dad of the Year award for ComicCon this year.
Their costumes were super simple in construction and cheap in material, but really well done. Kudos to all
geek parents who teach their kids thrifty creativity and not to be shy about what they love!
(Just like mine did.)

This girl was hysterical. She wandered around with a couple Disney princesses.
Her book is titled "How to Be An Evil Stepmother for Dummies"