Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Project House Update: Coats of My Arms

While you would think two people in Arizona wouldn't have much need for a lot of coats, Dan and I could prove you wrong. It is true that Dan only has three or four, but they are nice and big and bulky. Me, on the other hand, I only own one or two nice, big coats, but I must have at least a dozen cheap, light ones.

Up until recently, Dan kept his handful of coats in the closet by the garage entrance. It made sense for him and I've never questioned it. That was until this year.

Over the past year, I've gotten a few more nice coats. Coats that are too nice to just be thrown on my drop pile with all my other crap. I needed to hang them, too. And it made complete sense to me that I hang them in the coat closet with Dan's.

For the five years we've lived in our house, that little coat closet has sat there untouched. Beyond the few coats Dan hangs in it and the big bag of cat food, almost everything in there is just junk. Some people have a junk drawer, we have a junk closet. It was full of spare shelves for shelving units, old baseball caps, pool stuff, a shower curtain, and a deep fryer that we've yet to unbox, to name a few. It was a big pile of crap, sitting on the floor, wasting space that could be used for my lovely stuff.

A few weeks back, while Dan was digging in it, trying to find something, I told him this was our next project. I honestly expected some push-back, but he was on board immediately.

I wish I had remembered to take a 'Before' picture of the big pile of crap, but we feverishly emptied it out before the thought crossed my mind.

The paint was beige and beaten up. There were gaping holes from the work Dan had done on the opposite wall to the dining room. Beyond a shelf across the top and a bar for hanging coats, there was no built-in storage.

Dan had the lovely idea that, since the closet was empty, we should spackle and paint while we were at it. He spent a Saturday spackling, sanding, and repeating. I spent the next day, Sunday, while he was out, giving the space two good coats of 'Polar Bear'. Normally Dan rolls and I edge, but there was very little rolling to be done. My hand was a claw at the end of it because of so many corners and nooks. It probably could have benefited from a third coat, but since it's a small closet, I doubt anyone will ever notice.

When the paint dried, Dan installed some extra outlet plates and I set up the new shelving unit I bought. After that, all that was left to do was to go through the giant pile of crap, that had now moved from the closet into the laundry room, and determine what was going back in.

Some stuff was thrown out, some was donated, some was moved to places it should have been for a very long time now. Between the shelves and some tubs Dan took from the shop, almost everything has a proper home. Helmets get to stay inside with temperature control to extend their lifespan. Beanies and gloves go in a bin. Fold-up chairs fir snuggly in the gap between the shelves and the wall. Spare shelves slide into the space under the shelves, tucked out of the way.

And most importantly, my coats. My coats don't have to be thrown in a pile when I peel them off. Treating your nice things nicely may be the final nail in the coffin that I'm starting to get this whole 'adult' thing.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fan of Friday: Week of 12/16/2016

You know how sometimes you find a great show that's been on for a while, but it's still airing new episodes, so you binge them as fast as you can so you can catch up?

Now, imagine doing that with a show that's got roughly 70 episodes.

And, oh yeah, each episode is somewhere between three to four hours.

Yeah, that fact right there is a huge reason why I am so far behind on blogging...

...but I'm caught up live on my new favorite show! Critical Role!

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Critical Role is kind of hard to explain. It airs live on Geek and Sundry's twitch channel every Thursday night. It's a group of eight friends who are largely voice actors who play Dungeons and Dragons.

On paper, it sounds so boring, but it's incredibly well done. Since everyone has an acting background, they really think through their characters' decisions and dialogue. They know each other so well that they really have a lot of fun with it. And it doesn't hurt that the stories are well thought-out and intricate. Sometimes they battle an evil demi-god dragon, other times they run around a marketplace trying to figure out if they just unknowingly participated in a drug deal.

Poor Dan had to sit there on weekends when I would just stream old episodes for hours on end. He unwillingly became sucked into it with me. He would never admit it, but he enjoys it now.

Fun little story. Since I was so behind, the merchandise advertised on the show is always long since sold out. I even looked for one of the shirts on ebay. Over time, I caught up on the show and one Thursday, which is traditionally our trivia night, I got to watch it live. That night, my first live night, they re-released the shirt I had been hunting. I ordered it so fast. And it was a good thing I did because by the next morning, it was sold out yet again. The universe loves me sometimes.

It's a great show that I've been trying to convince my friends to watch. They may not be quick to watch it, but they are showing great interest in starting our own game.

If you are interested in picking it up, this episode is the beginning of a good arc.

Or if you want to just want for a short two episode arc, this episode features some great guest stars, including my love Felecia Day.

It is amazing how quickly you can figure out the game from just watching some other people play it, so why don't you get addicted like me?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Halloween 2016

On my crusade to catch up on blogging everything, let's jump back to Halloween.

This year, I decided fairly early that I didn't want to be something 'sexy'. And by 'sexy', I really mean 'slutty and uncomfortable'. I didn't want to have to wear Spanx and worry about pantylines and have numb feet from teetering in heels all night.

And when I bought a giant, brimmed hat for our Hawaii trip, my fate was sealed: Dr. Alan Grant from the cult classic Jurassic Park.

It was a remarkably simple costume. I already had a denim shirt, aviators, boots, and my newly acquired hat. I added in a pair of khakis that Dan hadn't worn for more than a decade and some handkerchiefs that I bought off Amazon and the look was complete. My own bit of flare was a dramatic smoky eye, but it was hidden by the sunglasses most of the night anyway.

Dr Alan Grant

The other half of this amazing costume was talking Dan into being my T-rex. Since my dinosaur onesie is so warm and it is his go-to costume, he was Waldo inside a T-rex. He had great fun being both through-out the night. Here are some of my favorite pictures from that night.

Dr. Grant running from the T-rex:

Dr. Grant shooting the raptors as they came through the window of the control room:

All of the Jurassic franchise characters, including Owen and Claire from 'Jurassic World':

Me swimming in Dan's giant, old pants:

And trying to make them and the glasses look sexy:

And one of my favorite pictures ever, of a beautiful Waldo butterfly emerging from his chrysalis:

It was a great year for costumes. I told Dan afterward that I didn't want to do a slutty costume ever again and he was hurt, but it made the night so much better. Maybe next year I'll be a sack of potatoes or something. Oh! Or on theme, a pile of triceratops poop.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Family Pictures...?

Back in August, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. My sister and I are usually terrible children and don't get them gifts for it (that's just how we were raised!), but since it was a biggie, a gift was in order.

I had been thinking about it a lot and wanted to give them a memento, not just a knick-knack like I like to do. After some thought, I realized that the last time, and one of the only times, we had some good pictures of all of us were from my wedding.

And it had been five years since those.

So my sister talked one of her photographer friends into giving us a good package deal and we were not horrible children for a change.

The four of us, Dan, and the photographer, Meredith, spent just over an hour on a beautiful October afternoon at Saguaro Park East. Most of the time was spent trying to not fall over as neither my sister nor myself had worn the appropriate shoes for the off-the-trial pictures my dad wanted.

That was probably the biggest surprise of the whole thing was how much my dad got into it. He had opinions on locations and angles and all that stuff. We kind of assumed he was just going to try to get through it, but he was remarkably engaged.

Now, let's get to the outcome. While my sister's friend Meredith was very sweet and has a great eye for cinematography, the direction of the 'models' left something to be desired. Maybe that's the difference between a 'real' photographer like Meredith and the people who have photographed me in the past; I am not a model. I need someone telling me constantly how to make myself look better.

Because of that, here are some of my favorites:

Images Courtesy of Meredith Amadee Photography

And we did get some very nice ones, too, out of the batch.

Images Courtesy of Meredith Amadee Photography

I feel like the weird ones sum us up better. We know we're better than how we come across, we just aren't doing a good job of it. Maybe that should be our family motto at this point...

Monday, December 12, 2016

My First Comic-Con

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm WAAAAAY behind. I haven't felt like writing much lately, but things are still happening. Things are still going on that should be written about. And since I'm feeling inspired right now, I'm going to put as much of it to 'paper' as possible before it leeches out of my brain. There will be posts about things that happened in September, October, and November, mostly out of order, too, but it's high time for me to catch up.

Back in the beginning of November, I was able to cross one of my New Year's resolutions from last year off my list: go to my first Comic-Con.

Tucson Comic-Con isn't on the scale of most cons across the country, but it was probably the perfect size for my first one. I heard attendance was roughly 8,000 people, but that was up almost 50% from last year.

I talked Dan into it at the last minute and we had no plan whatsoever. In hindsight, we should have had a plan. We should have coordinated with our friends we knew were going, but we procrastinated and just winged it.

At first, it looked like it was going to be a complete bust. After walking the entire convention center floor and finding very little that struck our fancy, we were beginning to think that we had wasted our money. We went back to a booth selling CNC-milled brass jewelry then we were going to head to the exit.

Apparently the brass jeweler (check out some of her awesome stuff here) used to work at the company I do and we got to talking for a while. That gave two of our best friends, Shannon and Jeremy, plenty of time to sneak up and ambush us.

Let me tell you, it's so much more fun doing a Comic-Con when you're walking around with the King and the Queen of the Con. After we hooked up with them, we had a fun afternoon. It was great getting to watch all the people taking photos of each other and determining which booths were full of hidden treasures. I ended up with a brass necklace and this shirt:

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We didn't see any panels or get to meet any famous people, but that's ok. Fun fact I learned: a lot of the vendors at these Cons are artists. They bring a lot of prints and pictures of their work, but if you bring a sketchbook, you can commission most of them on the spot to draw whatever you like. I didn't even know that was a thing. How awesome is that? I think I'll do that next time. Now to think up things worth commissioning...