Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 was an interesting year.  Honestly, it was one of the best I've had recently.

My sister got married.  I went to San Diego Comic Con for the first time.  I developed a small exhibit for display at an event in New York City.  The Boyfriend switched jobs, and though he's exhausted, he seems happier.  I'm losing weight successfully for the first time in forever, it seems.  Didn't get as much done on my dissertation as I would have liked, but I'm much happier with the work I'm doing.  I started this blog, and have met so many neat and geeky people because of it.

at the History Vikings experience, San Diego Comic Con 2014

Over the past year, I have become a much more confident, optimistic, and forgiving person.  My goals are becoming better defined, and I am more excited for my future than I have been since starting my PhD.  My depression was also much better this year, with no long periods of overwhelming anxiety or despair.  Very different to 2013, that's for sure.

I am looking forward to 2015 - it will be an exciting year.  We already have our Comic Con badges, and are planning our trip out to San Diego.  Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released on May 1st.  Star Wars VII will be released on December 18th.  I'm going to be doing a bit of international travel, hopefully to my beloved England to see my friends, but definitely to Russia (of all places - it's a long story, but should be an interesting trip).  And I'm turning 30 years old in April!

Our New Year's plans are low-key.  We're staying home, making a bunch of unhealthy finger foods, playing board games, and watching movies.  I received How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel for Christmas, so we will be watching those, and probably a few more episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix.  Tomorrow, we will probably just chill and play games, then The Boyfriend will be making Beef Wellington for dinner.  We've been doing this for a few years now and always enjoy it.

Wherever you are, and whatever timezone you're in, I hope everyone has a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a wonderful 2015!

Stormageddon waiting to eat his New Year treat! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 26th, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!  Did everyone have a Merry Christmas?  I hope so!

Throwback to the December 12th #Fandom5 topic, guess who got #2 and #5 on her wishlist of gifts from Santa!  Yes, I am now the proud owner of the LEGO Mos Eisley Cantina and three volumes of Hawkeye TPBs!  Sweeeeeet!

Funny story: the reason I now own the Mos Eisley Cantina is this blog. No, really. My sister (HI!) is a reader and told my mom about it.  How sweet is that!?

And now it's time for...

This week's topic: New Year Blogging Resolutions!

Oooh this one is tricky, because I blog for fun and keep this blog pretty separate from my professional life.  I can list a number of professional goals, and personal goals, but I haven't thought about resolutions for blogging before! Great idea!

1.  Quit rambling so much
I can be quite verbose.  I can go off on a tangent for just about any topic - personal story?  Yup.  Something I read once?  You got it.  I write every post, then edit it a few times to cut out extraneous material before I hit publish.  I don't think I can be so direct on the first draft, because I change my mind about what to include, but I think I can edit more for the final version.  Do y'all think I write too much?

2.  Blog Maintenance/Appearance
I either need to migrate to WordPress or learn Blogger better so I can edit this page and make it more graphically pleasing.  If I'm going to use a platform, I need to actually know how it works!

3.  Learn to promote myself more?
I struggle with this because why should I promote a blog that is just for funsies?  And it's not like this blog is devoted to covering a specific topic, like just crafts or just cosplay or just cons - it's more like a celebration of my all my fandoms and hobbies and what I feel like writing about.  Perhaps you have some insight you could share with me?

4.  Join BlogLovin'
Did this a week before Christmas because I realized I wasn't keeping up with all the blogs I wanted to, and I was really slacking at looking at the comments on my own blog!  So I joined, and I like it, and instead we'll make number 4...

4.  Keep up with comments!
Post comments on other blogs!  Check and reply to the comments on my own blog!  Don't just make a post and disappear into the aether until the next #Fandom5 comes around!  I resolve to check my blog here at least once the same day that I make a post, and the following day.

5.  Find a direction and keep a posting schedule
I need to create a posting schedule and find more of a direction for this blog.  It's just a hobby, but it's kind of all over the place and except for #Fandom5 posts I blog rather intermittently.  I think having a direction with what kind of content I want on this blog will help me come up with posts I can write once or twice a week.  Thoughts?

What are your blog resolutions?  I can't wait to read the other blogs participating in #Fandom5!  And please leave comments for me - I would love some feedback!

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 19th, 2014

Merry Christmas!  This is the last Fandom5 before the big day, and today's topic is:
Must-Watch Christmas Movies!

There are so many good Christmas movies, but I have a few I love and try to watch during the holiday.  Fortunately, unlike my favorite Halloween movies, I own most of these on DVD or VHS, so there's little risk of missing them!  And some of these are on Netflix now!

1.  A Christmas Story
"You'll shoot your eye out!"  Poor Ralphie.  All he wants is the Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle for Christmas.  This is a must-watch for a variety of reasons.  It's so funny!  It's a modern classic!  It seems to perfectly capture what Christmas was like as a kid - not the specifics, but the overall feeling of wonder and excitement and family stress.

As I'm originally from the Cleveland area, where it was filmed, this movie has a special place in my heart.  My mom and I are planning to visit the Christmas Story House, which is a museum now and was restored to look like it did in the movie.  They sell the leg lamps in the gift shop too!

2.  The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is the best version of Dickens' classic Christmas story.  Michael Caine is a perfect Scrooge, the music is fantastic, Gonzo narrates. the ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come is appropriately scary, and it has Kermit.  I love Kermit.

3.  Baryshnikov's Nutcracker
My grandparents taped this off PBS back in the 1970s or 1980s and I insisted on watching it every time I would visit.  I would dance around, and because of that my mom enrolled me in ballet classes, where I later performed as a mouse in a production of the Nutcracker.  My grandparents ended up giving me the tape for my 4th birthday and I still have it - but now I only watch it at Christmas.  And luckily it's on YouTube now, so I can stop worrying about ruining my ancient VHS!

4.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Another modern classic, this one is hilarious.  Clark Griswold just wants to have an old-fashioned family Christmas, and it seems like everything is working against him!  The neighbors are stuck-up yuppies, the extended family is caustic and crude, but it's not until something happens at work that Clark snaps.

The ending of this movie is hilarious, and there are some great lines - "We'll have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny-f*cking-Kaye!" "Hallelujah! Holy Sh*t! Where's the Tylenol?" - along with some good-natured humor poking fun at Christmas customs and the pressure to have the "perfect" Christmas.

5.  It's a Wonderful Life
I love this movie and watch it every Christmas Eve (in black and white, on my Mom's old VHS).  I love the message and the characters, and how even though none of George's professional dreams came true, he still had a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas, you beautiful old Building and Loan!

There are so many more I want to list, because I love them, like Die Hard and Trading Places, but they aren't movies I need to watch on or around Christmas to feel Christmasy... they're just favorites.

Runner up:
Prep and Landing - this tv special is hilarious.  I love it when they "rev up the engines" by psyching up the reindeer!  And the elves are wicked cute.

And one more thing...
Does anyone else remember "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus"?  These were on in the 1970s-1980s, and the first was animated while the second was one of those old stop-motion style tv specials.  These were GREAT.  I don't think kids know these specials anymore, because they haven't been aired in years.

My mom taped a bunch of Christmas specials off the TV when we were kids, so we grew up watching these every year, long after they stopped showing them on TV.  And to be honest, I don't much like watching Rudolph or the animated Grinch without the 1980s commercials, even though those are still aired every December!

What are your favorite Christmas movies and TV specials?  
Do you only watch them with certain people or on a certain night?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, December 18, 2014


I jumped on the Serial bandwagon kind of late... I only started listening about a week ago, even though I've been subscribed to the podcast through iTunes since around week 4, when my Twitter feed was filled with posts about the ongoing podcast and the story of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed.

Today the final installment of Serial's first season was released.  I haven't listened to it yet, but before I do I wanted to share some thoughts.  This post is mostly spoiler free, I think I only mention something about the mishandling of evidence, so if you haven't listened to Serial yet you can read this post without worrying about spoilers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 12th, 2014

Christmas is getting closer and closer!  This week's Fandom5 is about... Presents!!!

Five Presents I Want Santa to Bring to Me!

I don't like writing Christmas lists as an adult, because it feels like I'm being greedy and bossy - "Buy me THIS!" - but my mom and The Boyfriend's mom both insist on lists, so I oblige.  But to be honest... my lists have way more toys and comics on them now than they did when I was a kid!

This year, I'm asking Santa for...

1.  JoAnn's Gift Cards/Cosplay Supplies
I'm starting work on my SDCC 2015 cosplays, and I need supplies!  Fabric, thread, embroidery floss, shoes, fake hair pieces (because I'm cutting 8-12 inches off my hair in two weeks and won't be able to do Leia styles anymore!), a replica blaster, leather, all the things!!!

2.  LEGO Mos Eisley Cantina playset
I have Jabba's Palace and Rancor Pit, and the Millennium Falcon.  I think I need a Cantina, so I can play all my favorite Han Solo scenes!  Then everyone will pregame at Jabba's, hop in the Falcon (Chewy is going to DD), and go to the Cantina to party with Loki and Unikitty!

Han SHOT. Period. Greedo didn't get a shot off, so there was no "first."

3.  Wonder Woman footie pajamas
Who wouldn't want a pair of these?  They are freaking awesome!!!
I would also accept a Wonder Woman snuggie.

4.  A trip to England
I haven't been back to England in almost two years.  I miss my friends!  I would love to go back for a few weeks and see everyone, preferably during the summer when reenactment season is happening.

5.  Hawkeye trade paper back collection
How have I not read this yet!?  Being a grad student really cuts into my comic reading time!

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 5th, 2014

Happy December! It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over...

Today's topic: My Favorite Holiday Songs to Spread Cheer!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Christmas/Yule is a very close second!  The twinkle lights, the evergreens, the rebirth of the Sun on the Solstice, the baked goods, the movies...

And I love Christmas music - so much so that I have five different iTunes playlists devoted to it!

You got that right Buddy!

If I miss my mom, I play Mannheim Steamroller and Celtic-inspired Christmas music.  If I am feeling frustrated, but want to salvage my Christmas spirit, I break out the Xmas metal (very useful when shopping right before the holiday).  But the classics, like Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, are my absolute favorites.

But what are my top five?

1.  Christmas Can-Can, by Straight No Chaser
I first heard this during the Christmas season of 2010 while I was driving 6 hours to visit my family.  I was driving through Pennsylvania in a snow storm, listening to a station playing only Christmas music, and this came on.  I was at the 4-hour mark, and it was just what I needed to reenergize me!

This one is a lot of fun - the tempo of the song and the humor in the lyrics always improve my mood.  When I finally reached my parents' house I downloaded it and played it for my mom, who then asked me to make her a mix CD with this song on it!

2.  The Twelve Days of Christmas, performed by John Denver and the Muppets
I have several versions of "12 Days" in my iTunes, but this one is my favorite.  Hearing Miss Piggy sing, "Ba-dum, bum, bum!" makes me so happy.  This one definitely spreads the cheer - only a grinch wouldn't love the Muppets!

3.  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, performed by Andy Williams
I have a hard time describing how this one makes me feel, but it fills me with so much joy that I want to dance around like I'm in an old movie musical.

4.  Feels Like Christmas, from the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best Christmas movie (but that's a topic for a later Fandom5) and any of the songs from it get me into the Christmas spirit, especially this one.  I love this part of the movie, watching Scrooge start on the path to redemption.  Look at him smile!

5.  Sleigh Ride, performed by Johnny Mathis
I have 4-5 different versions of this song, but Johnny Mathis is my favorite to sing along to.  The Ronettes are a very close second though (and the Spice Girls have a version almost identical to the Ronettes, so they'll do in a pinch!)

I was going to do honorable mentions (because I have 167 Christmas songs in my iTunes and add a few more every year), but I ended up with more of those than the actual Fandom 5 list... so instead I will leave you with an anecdote.

While writing this I was looking at my iTunes and listening to a few songs to make sure I got them right, and I realized what a freaking hodge podge my Christmas music list is...  and what a gamble it is to have my entire Christmas collection on shuffle!  Why do I say that?  Because I have both "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole and Bob River's "Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire" and they start the exact same way, with an instrumental bit - so here I was thinking I was getting the sentimental Nat King Cole song, when suddenly it's about roasting the Chipmunks and eating them!  Boy, did that make my morning! Hilarious!

Happy Holidays!  What are your favorite holiday songs? Do you prefer humorous songs, Christmas classics, or instrumental pieces?  Do you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas or are you just saying that?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Loot Crate Review: Battle Theme, November 2014

This was my third month receiving a Loot Crate subscription.  Loot Crate is a monthly mystery box subscription.  For a little less than $20.00, subscribers receive a selection of themed items geared towards geeks and gamers.  The boxes are mailed around the 20th of each month.  If you are interested in learning more or signing up, check out the Loot Crate website.

This month's theme was Battle!

Loot Crate's social media accounts teased the items, as always.  A Megaman item.  An Assassin's Creed item.  A t-shirt.  And, on top of all the stuff they include, a code for a Steam game worth $20.

Knowing that The Boyfriend loves Megaman, I told him about the item and promised that it would be his.  I was hoping this crate would have something he would be excited about, and it seemed like the Megaman exclusive would fit the bill.

I received the tracking email on November 17th and the box was scheduled to arrive on Saturday, November 22nd.  Instead it arrived on Friday, November 21st - what a surprise to find it waiting on the front porch, when the tracking info said it was still at the post office!

Friday, November 28, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: November 28th, 2014

That's right, kids, it's time for another

Today is Black Friday... has anyone gone shopping yet? Stayed up all night in line?

This week's 5 Fandom Friday topic is: 
Black Friday purchases I would sacrifice a night of sleep for!

I am not a Black Friday shopper.

In college I worked at a JoAnn Fabrics, where I ended up working the entirety of the post-Thanksgiving weekend.  2005 was the height of popularity for those tied fleece blankets, and I worked the cutting counter... which meant I was cutting fleece all day, every day that weekend.  My hands were dried out from handling the fabric, I didn't get a break, on my feet in one spot all day, getting treated like garbage by customers... And then I got to do it two more times!

It was the worst working experience of my life... and I spent a week in 2011 ankle-deep in literal horse crap, mapping and doing magnetic resistivity in a horse paddock on an archaeological dig in 80% humidity, so that's saying something.

I seriously hate these things... pic via 

After that, there is no way you will find me out on Black Friday, and definitely not losing a night of sleep.  Saving a few bucks isn't worth it to me.  Instead, I stay in, eat leftovers, watch Christmas movies, and maybe start decorating if I've stayed home that year.  Then I do my shopping online!

But I might be persuaded to go out in the dark and cold and stand in line all night for a few items...

1. A real, legit, functioning Light Saber
I mean a REAL one.  In purple, like Mace Windu's.  I don't know what I would do with it, but it would be so cool to have.

But to be honest, I would just want to use it in ways that would create some paradoxes, and that's not good for anyone.

3. A personal teleportation device
Because I'm sick of sitting in a car or on a plane for 6+ hours to see any of my loved ones. Seriously, they all live at least that far from me!

4.  A lifetime 4 day + preview night pass to San Diego Comic Con, with a room at the Hard Rock included
No more panicking about badges or what days to go or getting/affording a hotel near the convention center!  Of course, there would be a lot of competition, because if SDCC attendees are good at one thing, it's standing in line overnight.
via Disney.wikia

5. A genie bottle with three wishes
And I already know what wishes I would make!

Apparently there is nothing in this world that will make me stand in line on Black Friday... I like sleep too much! But who am I kidding, if any of these things actually existed there is no way I'd be able to afford them anyway!

What would you stand in line overnight for?  
Have you ever done that for a Black Friday deal?  
Were you successful?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mockingjay RAGE. Only read if you've finished the books.

Okay, I can't wait a year to get this out there...

Do NOT click below the cut if you haven't read Mockingjay all the way through and don't want the ending of the Hunger Games series seriously wrecked for you.  I am not even kidding.


Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 with The Boyfriend this past weekend.  I enjoyed it very much, and though I wouldn't say it is my favorite movie in the series thus far, Mockingjay Part 1 is still worth the ticket if you are a fan of the Hunger Games series.  It effectively combines the action of the early Rebellion and Katniss's mental anguish following the events of the Quarter Quell and unlike some other movies that share the honor (misfortune?) of being the "Part 1" in their series, Mockingjay Part 1's conclusion is satisfying, while at the same time leaving viewers with the desire to return and see how the story ends - it is a waypoint, meant to offer us a climax worthy of pausing the story, but keeping us wanting more.

Unfortunately, we will have to wait a year for the final installment in the Hunger Games series!

Apparently this movie has had the biggest opening weekend of the year, much like Catching Fire did in 2013.  I am glad to see a movie with a female lead kicking so much butt at the box office!

This review is written from the perspective of someone who has read the books, so while I do not spoil the ending of Mockingjay or the events that will be shown in the final film, I do offer comparisons to the book and what I think the film did better or worse than its source material.  There are also big spoilers for the movie, Mockingjay Part 1, so please don't click the link if you don't want to learn how the movie ends.

Spoilers ahead.  You have been warned.

Friday, November 21, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: November 21st, 2014

It's 5 Fandom Friday time!
This week's theme is: Characters I would invite to my Thanksgiving Feast!

I'm really struggling to come up with a list of five characters I would want to invite over to my house.  I would want a somewhat-balanced group of men and women, who would provide stimulating conversation, be up for drinks and board games after dinner, and would get along pretty well.  No one who is too far into the lawful-good range that they would be a judgey goody-goody killjoy all night.  No one who is so chaotic evil that they would just make the evening unpleasant for everyone else.

Anyway, here's the list.  It's pretty obvious which of my favorite books/movies/tv shows they come from, and they are all fan favorites, so I don't think I need to go into much detail about why I love these characters.

1. Indiana Jones

2. Han Solo

3. Princess Leia

4. The Tenth Doctor

5. Captain Marvel

All of these characters would have great stories to swap, and have similar enough personalities that I think they could get along for an evening, but are diverse enough that the conversation would stay interesting.  And who knows, maybe we'd abandon dinner in favor of having an adventure together.

I'm not going to visit family for the holiday.  While I would love to see my Grandma, it's a 12-hour round trip in the car and I had my fill of my extended family back during my sister's wedding.  I think The Boyfriend and I are just going to chill and play video games all weekend.

However you're spending it, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
Safe travels, enjoy your family or whoever you're going to spend the holiday with, and good luck if you're braving the crowds for Black Friday!

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Last weekend The Boyfriend and I went to see Disney's Big Hero 6

In short: it was FANTASTIC.

Adapted from the comics by Marvel, Big Hero 6 is the story of a 14 year old boy name Hiro Hamada.  He is a kid genius, graduated from high school at age 13, and spends his time developing and fighting robots in his home city of San Fransokyo.  He lives with his older brother, Tadashi, a college student studying robotics at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, and their Aunt Cass, who has had custody of the brothers for the last 10 years, since the deaths of their parents.

There are some minor spoilers ahead.  None of the major plot points, but some character details and a description of the opening scene.  Don't read if you don't want to see them.

For real.

Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: November 14th, 2014

Topic: Smartphone apps I cannot live without!

Confession: I was a "dumb-phone" holdout.  I only got my first smartphone back in July, in preparation for San Diego Comic Con.  I wanted to be able to Tweet from the con floor without relying on the convention center's internet connection.

But in spite of my fondness for flip-phones, I am quite familiar with iOS and which apps I like because I have been using the iPod Touch since the first generation and I have an iPad mini.  If I hadn't switched to the iPhone, I would probably be writing this post based on how much time I spend on my iPad - which is way too much time!

1. Twitter  - iTunes  -  Android
It is the reason I switched to a smart-phone, after all, so it had to make the list.  I hate pretty much every social network site, but I love Twitter.  It's ephemeral; you post something and it fades into the background pretty fast.  But it's also engaging; anyone else can reply, start a conversation, answer a question, or retweet to boost the signal.

2. Polyvore
Despite never being really into clothes, I have had so much fun with this app.  It's like playing dress up.  By playing around on Polyvore, I'm discovering what styles I really like, which will be useful since I really need to overhaul my wardrobe.

But my favorite thing is to look at the closet cosplays people make - check out Leslieakay (DisneyBounding), TheNerdyGirlie, and Fandom-Inspired-Fashion for some great sets.  There is a lot of creativity and inspiration to be found in this app.


3. Sudoku
This is my favorite way to waste time.  My favorite version is Tap! Sudoku, which I've been playing since I got my first iPod Touch, and I can beat the hardest setting in less than 3 minutes.  If I could only have one game on any device, it would be sudoku.  (A close runner-up would be Mahjong.)

4. Alien Blue
The (recently) official app for Reddit, I only just started using this, but I really like it so far.  It works much better than the iReddit app I used to use, and it's easier to stay logged in and look at links without losing your place in a thread than when I used Safari.  I don't spend much time on Reddit anymore, and when I am it's to look at the subs for my favorite hobbies, look for cosplay tips or Comic Con links, or check out the fashion/makeup/skincare subs, but this app makes it more enjoyable.

5. FitBit/MyFitnessPal  -  iTunes  -  Android
Like lots of people, I struggle with my weight.  And of all of the diet trackers I've used, I like MyFitnessPal the best.  They have a huge database of foods for tracking, the interface is uncluttered and easy to use, and there are no fake points or forced social aspects like other sites.  There is also a barcode scanner, which I LOVE.

It's also compatible with my FitBit One - so I track my food in MFP, which then imports to the FitBit app.  It's really nifty, and this is the first time since starting my PhD that I am losing weight instead of gaining it.

Haha 1337!

What are your favorite apps?  Am I missing anything that will blow my mind or make life easier?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cosplay: Bespin Leia #1

For SDCC 2015, I have decided to cosplay as Princess Leia once again (last year I cosplayed as Leia and wore her Endor poncho).  This time, I will be making her Bespin tunic and cloak.  I love this costume - the colors, the silhouette, the details.

Leia wears this outfit in Cloud City, when she, Han, Chewy, and the droids arrive on Bespin after their escape from Hoth, through the asteroid field.  After they arrive in Cloud City, they are greeted by Lando Calrissian.  I think the Millennium Falcon crew was shown to an apartment and given some time to clean up and relax, and Lando or one of the servants gave Leia this outfit to replace her Hoth gear.  Leia is wearing this when they learn of Lando's betrayal and the presence of Darth Vader in Cloud City, but she changes back into her Hoth gear once they are taken prisoner.

This costume consists of the tunic and pants, a belt, matching flat shoes, and the embroidered overdress/cape.  The Rebel Legion costume criteria describe the costume elements as: 
"Burgundy or maroon-colored tunic in a non-shiny fabric that falls to mid-thigh. Fitted sleeves end in rounded point just past the wrist. Neckline and wrists have copper metallic trim." 

"Loose harem pants."  

"Off-white cloak in a non-shiny fabric with a padded yoke with standing collar and metallic copper trim, along with a sheer non-shiny lining the same color as the tunic and pants and a copper metallic trim. The off-white fabric of the cloak is decorated in a stylized, paisley-like pattern filled with a “fish scales” design complete with rosettes of varying sizes at the waistline and hem in shades of yellow, pink, burgundy, and brown."

Useful links I have found include:
Leia Organa Bespin Gown page on the Rebel Legion
Rebel Legion Forum posts (eg. 1, 2, 3)
The Padawan's Guide - Bespin Leia page
Maggie's Costume Site - Leia Bespin Costume
Padme's Closet - Princess Leia's Bespin "Gown" (ESB)
Rebels Haven - SWFFAQ Bespin gown photo page
Sarcasm-hime's Cosplay - Bespin Leia and Lando Calrissian

Maggie's page is great because she has some in progress photos and discusses what worked for her and what didn't, so I'll be using her page as my primary reference.

Pattern ideas:
Simplicity 1593 - knit tunics, would need hem and sleeves lengthened, pattern is made for knit fabrics and might need some adjustments
Simplicity 5259 - harem pants, view B/C

I still need to source materials.  Silk georgette and twill were mentioned on various posts, but Joann's has their Casa crepe in burgundy and that seems like a good weight and color... maybe... perhaps I should order some samples of other fabrics and colors online...

And the most daunting part of this costume?

Yeah... All that embroidery!
This is going to take a while, so I'm getting started asap.  All I need to do is figure out what fabric I want to use...

I'll be making progress updates and organizing resources here on my blog.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SDCC 2015: It Begins

Congrats to everyone who managed to buy badges in today's SDCC 2015 pre-registration sale!

We were able to buy two four-day badges.  We didn't do preview night last year, and selected not to this year - we'd rather take it easy, explore the Gaslamp, and have an early night before the rush begins on Thursday, so I'm sure whoever bought them instead of us will put them to good use!

Preview night sold out about ten minutes after I bought our badges, then Friday and Saturday were gone about ten minutes after that.  By 12:48 EST everything was gone.  There was speculation that it went so fast because there were fewer badges available for the pre-reg sale, but SDCC tweeted that it was because things were running so smoothly.  And they really were - other than some tweets about people having issues in the waiting room and a few people complaining about their internet connections, I haven't heard of any major problems.

I've been a big ball of stress all week - AcWriMo (I'm behind already), a side project my lab adviser was emailing me about (the reason I'm behind), and just general life stuff - so it helps that the pre-reg is over and that we were successful.  It always helps to have something really exciting to look forward to, too.

And now I get to reward myself with cosplay planning!  First up is Bespin Leia.  I'll be starting this asap, depending on my AcWriMo success... so much embroidery... so much writing...

Wish me luck with my writing!  And good luck to everyone planning on participating in the general badge sale this spring!

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: November 7th, 2014

It's hard to believe it's November already.  Time for another:

Topic: Comfort foods that always make me feel better.

While I could say things like my grandma's dinner rolls or my mom's oatmeal cookies, I don't actually associate those foods with calming stress or bad feelings.  Yes, they taste like home and make me feel good, but if I was having a rough time due to work or my relationship or whatever, they would not have the same effect as some of the things I've decided to list.  So here is my legit list of foods that actually lighten my mood and make me feel better when I eat them if I've been having a crap day.  I also hate cooking when I'm in a bad mood or had a rough time (mostly because I hate the clean up), so everything on this list can be bought or made very easily.

1. Melty Cheese-based Food
You might say that comfort foods should be something small, or baked goods, but dangit, when I start feeling stressed and anxious I crave cheeseburgers.  And then I eat one and feel better.  Or mac & cheese.  Or grilled cheese.

(this one time I was visiting my parents and my mom and I made grilled cheese with this smoked gouda she had and they were phenomenal. I have dreams about those sandwiches.)

via Wikipedia

2. Coca Cola
Coke has a calming effect on me.  I can feel my mood lighten as soon as I've had my first gulp.  This might be a sign of addiction...

via Forbes

3. Happy Meals
My mom would always buy me a Happy Meal after a doctor's appointment if I had to get a shot.  Now, I buy one for myself if I've had a bad appointment (like the doctor blew off my concerns or just left the room without finishing the conversation or the mean man took my BLOOD!)  And sometimes if I had a bad day teaching, I would get a Happy Meal to cheer myself up.  It works.  I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and I guess I was successfully indoctrinated...

via Consumer Affairs

4. Little Debbie Zebra Cakes
I eat these when the painters are in.  I crave them and a few times in college I ate a whole box in one sitting - which is really disgusting to think about.  I think it's the sugar and fairly neutral flavor that makes them so appealing.  They help with cramps, tender feelings, and irritability.

via Amazon

5. Tea
I drink a lot of tea, but I really drink a lot of tea when I'm tired, feeling stuck or just down on life, or stressed out.  The act of getting up and tending to the kettle, letting the tea steep long enough, adding milk/sugar/lemon/whatever, and then the warmth soaking through the ceramic cup into my hands has a purpose and a calming effect.  While I am creative and think well on my feet, I really like logic and directions and order in my actions, so the steps of making a cup of tea lend me a focus outside myself.

I also associate tea with my friends in England. My friends who taught me to "scald the cup and steep the leaves" - heat the cup with some of the boiling water before adding the teabag and water.  The process of putting the kettle on in my dorm or hotel room after arriving home on a cold day, then relaxing with a cuppa and a biscuit.  Thinking about my friends and the sense of belonging I feel when I'm in England helps me feel centered and like I matter, that I'm not worthless.  This is something I am reminded of when I drink tea.

This is my favorite cup for tea. There is a great story behind it, but this entry is getting kinda long...

What are your favorite comfort foods?  What helps you feel relaxed, or homey, or happier when you eat it or smell it cooking?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!

Saturday, November 1, 2014


November has become National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, when participants try to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in the space of a single month.  There are forums, Twitter hashtags, and an official website to help authors along as they complete this first draft - and emphasis is placed on just getting the words out, not on final draft perfection, which is the most important part in writing.

Inspired by NaNoWriMo, the blog PhD2Published started AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) for those of us who would love to participate in NaNoWriMo... but have too many other writing obligations hanging over our heads.  Like journal articles.  Dissertations.  Reports.  Grant proposals.  And it's not just limited to grad students or established academics - undergrads working on theses or term papers are encouraged to participate and interact with the other participants, and learn good research and writing skills from the resources provided.

I saw the AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter last year, but wasn't in a good place research-wise or mentally to participate.  In late 2011 my dissertation topic blew up in my face.  I won't go into details, but basically I lost two-and-a-half years of research.  I was left questioning why I was still doing this PhD and what I was doing with my life.  This contributed to the horrible period of depression I experienced in 2013.  As a result, I didn't get much work done on my new dissertation topic.

This year I am ready to participate and have already signed up on the official spreadsheet.  I need to finish my PhD proposal - this should have been finished over a year ago, I should have been defending right when I was shutting down from depression.  Which only made me feel worse...  So I am focusing on completing that this month.  I am already 30% done with the writing - unlike NaNoWriMo, this isn't about starting and finishing a piece of writing within one month, but about making progress on something that maybe has been neglected or whittling away at the to-do list.

I would LOVE to participate in NaNoWriMo - I have so many ideas! - but this needs to come first.  My goal is to finish my proposal and send it to my committee on December 1st.  I won't be around much on here or Twitter - I'm going into hermit mode.  Haven't done that since I was finishing my Masters thesis!  I pre-wrote all my Five Fandom Friday posts for this month and will be taking a few hours every weekend for myself, because I have been in the academic world long enough that I know I need a little time for myself to craft or play on my PC or something.  I'm pretty sure everyone needs that, it's just so easy to forget when you have a big work project or a major deadline looming.

Good luck to anyone participating in NaNoWriMo or AcWriMo!

Halloween is over...

I'm sad that my favorite holiday is over for the year.  But it was a great time!

We had over 100 trick-or-treaters!  I almost had to break into the bag of Tootsie Pops I bought for myself!  But we didn't run out of candy, which was a relief.

The puppy was very well-behaved too!  He barked a lot at first, but The Boyfriend held him by his harness in the living room while I answered the door.  And as the night wore on, he barked less - but would bolt towards the front door to see who was there whenever there was a sound outside.  He just wanted to see what was up, though we continued to hold him back for his and the kids' safety - we didn't want anyone getting jumped on, or him running into the street.  One little girl asked if he bit, and I said no, but he barks very loudly!  She said he looked like a nice doggy.

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: October 31st, 2014


And it's time for another:

This week's topic: the candies I always hoped for when trick-or-treating!

This one, unlike last week's topic, is EASY to decide a Top 5!

1.  Kit-Kats
The best candy bar ever invented.  My boyfriend loves them too, so they don't last very long around here!

2. Fun Size Candy Bars
I couldn't pick just one, so maybe this topic isn't as easy as I thought!  I like the Fun Size bars because its built-in portion control.  I LOVE Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Snickers, and Three Musketeers... but I hate Milky Way bars...

3. Reese's Cups
I had to hide these when I was a kid, otherwise my mom would steal them from my trick-or-treat bag!

4. Skittles
I love fruity candy and it seems like there is a distinct lack of it at Halloween.  But give me Skittles or Starbursts, and I am the happiest trick-or-treater on the block! I like to eat Skittles two at a time by color.  Or just stuff them all in my mouth at once and try to chew on the big glob of sugary, fruity goodness.

5. Tootsie Pops  (a-one... a-two-hoo! a-three *chomp* Three.)
Tootsie Roll Pops are a divine gift from heaven.  It's fruity, it's chocolatey, it's hard, it's chewy.  It is perfection.  I would arrange elaborate trade agreements to ensure I got 90% of the Tootsie Roll Pops brought back by my contingent of trick-or-treaters (usually just me, my sister, and a couple of cousins).  Two Milky Ways for one Tootsie Roll Pop?  No problem with that!  Unfortunately in later years they would try to use my love of the Tootsie Pops against me, but I was usually more clever (and manipulative) than them.  Don't mess with me and my Pops.

And the one candy that has no business in my trick-or-treat bag?

Candy corn.  It's like eating wax.  Keep it away from me!  (if you like it, I don't judge, you're welcome to it!!  Maybe you would like to have mine for... a Tootsie Roll Pop?)

I haven't gone trick-or-treating in probably 15 years...  The last time I went I took my little sister - while I hadn't planned on going that year, her friends all backed out at the last minute and I offered because mom wouldn't let her go alone.  That last time was one of the most fun, just us two running around the neighborhood.  She was Josie, from Josie and the Pussycats, and I was Indiana Jones, because I already had the costume.

Now I hand out the candy (or don't, since my puppy is still learning not to completely lose control when the bell rings).  Which means I just buy what I like and eat my fill!  Yay!

This year I'm giving out Tootsie Pops!  I have enough for 100 trick-or-treaters, plus a bag for myself.

What are your favorite candies?  Did you ever get King Size candy bars?  What are your favorite trick-or-treating memories?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!

Happy Halloween!

Blessed Samhain to you all!

Halloween Cat by Jeremiah Morelli

Halloween is my favorite holiday (pretty sure I've said that a few times on this blog...)
I like the history and mythology of it, I like the modern traditions of dressing up and trick-or-treating and watching scary movies, and I love that our modern traditions are based on long-established celebrations of Samhain, the death of the sun/summer, and the final harvest.

I'm an archaeologist, so of course I'm interested in why we carve jack-o-lanterns and why we think ghosts can walk the earth on this night.  I especially like looking at the holidays we celebrate now and trying to find their analogy in other cultures, or seeing where their roots developed - such as Christianity taking over formerly pagan holidays.  And I like the pagan roots of holidays, seated in nature, more than anything found in modern religions.  The death and rebirth of the sun, Yule being halfway through the darkness, the associations with the solstices and equinoxes and moon phases.

As a little kid, I was always checking out books of ghost stories or books on Halloween during my library time at school.  This soon turned into a love of scary movies, once I was old enough to convince my mom to rent them.  And wearing costumes is something I love all year, so socially sanctioned dressing up at Halloween was one of the best parts of the holiday!  (Because once you reach a certain age, wearing a super hero cape or princess dress to the grocery store gets you weird looks.)

In college I never got to do the Halloween thing at the bars with my friends -  I was underage until my senior year.  But during grad school there have been parties, and zombie themed bar crawls, and other fun activities!  And now that I am nearer to NYC, I want to visit Sleepy Hollow for their annual Halloween celebrations.  Maybe next year...

My favorite thing to do, though, is to stay in on Halloween night.  I light a bunch of candles, make some tasty food, get some red wine or good seasonal beer, and I watch scary movies.  Some years I participate in trick-or-treat, now that we have a house (I didn't when I lived in an apartment).  I like trying to feel the magic of the night.


Tonight I will be making the pork tenderloin recipe from the Outlander Kitchen blog, with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  I have Great Lakes' Nosferatu, our homemade imperial pale ale, Woodchuck hard cider, and a bottle of red wine that I will warm with spices.  There are pumpkin tarts for afters.  My jack-o-lanterns are in the windows and ready to keep the evil spirits away.  And I have a DVR full of scary movies to watch!

Happy Halloween!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Loot Crate Review: Fear Theme, October 2014

My second Loot Crate came as a total surprise - it arrived four days early and I never received a tracking email!  There it was, waiting on my front porch on October 16th.

If you're not familiar with Loot Crate, it's a subscription mystery box service that is oriented towards geek and gamer interests. More info can be found here!

October's theme was "Fear." All month the Loot Crate social media accounts were teasing the contents of this month's box... A special exclusive item from Capcom... A t-shirt... A "Walking Dead" exclusive comic... A SuperEmoFriends print. 

Now that I think about it, they teased almost the entire box...

This month's box included:
  1. The Walking Dead comic, issue #132 with exclusive variant cover
  2. SuperEmoFriends print titled "Oh Brother!" featuring Daryl Dixon and Zombie Merle from AMC's The Walking Dead
  3. How to Survive a Shaknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, a Sharknado inspired survival guide to animal-based natural disasters
  4. A t-shirt with a design by Super7, depicting a skull made out of cats - "Death By Kitten"
  5. A pen/replica of the Sledgesaw Hammer weapon from Capcom's Dead Rising 3
  6. Zombie bite and other horror themed temporary tattoos
  7. A single piece of Toxic Waste candy (I guess it's like a Warhead?)
  8. Standard Loot Crate button and magazine

Okay... I'll be pretty honest, there was not much about this box that I liked. 

"The Good"
I liked the Walking Dead comic, because I read those, though I read the compendiums so I'm not as far along as issue #132 yet. And I liked the SuperEmoFriends print by JSalvador, because I love Daryl Dixon and think it's really cute. It will go well with my Daryl Dixon action figure.  I kept these two items for myself, because The Boyfriend doesn't read the comics and I called "Claim!" on all Daryl items.

"The Bad"
The Sharknado book is just... Not my cup of tea? I have the Zombie Survival Guide and the Complete Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook, so I do like the humor-based survival guide genre, but this one felt like they were really stretching for a movie tie-in. Maybe if I liked Syfy B movies more...

"The Ugly"
I hate the t-shirt.  I'm not a cat person by any stretch of the imagination.  Neither is The Boyfriend.  The Loot Crate theme was Fear... What's scary about kitties?  Why are the cats making up a skull?  Is this supposed to be edgy?  I've seen very similar designs by harebrained on TeeFury before and didn't like them then, so pulling this shirt out of the Crate was a big disappointment.

Death By Kitten, by Super7, $30 online

and "The Kind-Of Good, But I Don't Like It Enough To Keep It"
While I think the duct-taped hybrid weapon pen from Dead Rising 3 is kinda cool, I'm not really a fan.  I didn't realize it was a pen until I saw someone tweet about it, and to be honest, I actually liked it less once I learned that.  The entire thing feels kind of fragile, and I'm scared that it will crack when I remove the pen cap (the saw part of the weapon).

It's a weapon...
It's a pen!

Like I said, other than the book, I kind of knew what was coming before it arrived. What I didn't know was that I wouldn't care for most of the crate.  But based on what I've read, this was a divisive crate - people either loved it or hated it - so it's not the best crate to judge the subscription service on.

This was only my second subscription crate and my third crate in total.  I think I like toys, comics, posters/art, and things like key chains best from the boxes I've received.  And the Deadpool socks.  Those were awesome.  I'm not a fan of the t-shirts I've received, though I already own so many geeky tees already, and I don't care for the items that feel like filler - knick knacks they just threw in to make it seem like we got more than we did, like the Firefly money.  Now that I'm figuring out what I want from each crate, I am happier to continue receiving it.  

If you think Loot Crate is something you would like to try, check it out!  I definitely recommend it if you enjoy getting packages in the mail and have a wide variety of interests or fandoms.  It's especially fun to share with a friend, like I do with The Boyfriend.

Next month - my Loot Crate November 2014: Battle review!  Supposedly there will be a MegaMan exclusive - The Boyfriend is looking forward to that!