Saturday, January 18, 2014

Super Secret Crochet Project Revealed!

I have been working, off and on, for several months on a large crochet project. You may have spotted some of the early attempts in the background of some of my advent calendar posts...but now it is finally finished! Ladies and gentlemen...Tom Servo!

"Actually, it's Serveaux."
He stands at nearly two feet tall, so we're talking life-sized here. He is made entirely from yarn and stuffing--a whole 12-ounce bag of stuffing, actually. There was no sign of a pattern anywhere online, so this is a combination of measurements I found on various bot-building websites, lots of pictures, and eyeballing it. I also have this four-inch Servo that came with one of the DVD sets, so I used him as a reference as well.

I started with the head and worked my way down. The head, neck, body, and "hoverskirt" are all one continuous piece, crocheted from top to bottom. The mouth is sewn on separately, and is actually three small pieces sewn together (top, bottom, and inside). The arms are one piece each.

I had some trouble with the detailing on his chest, which was originally the engine block from a toy car. I wanted it to be as simple as possible, without losing too much detail. The version I finally came up with has four separate pieces that are sewn together and then sewn onto the chest.

The tube around the bottom is just one long piece, and the other details on his skirt are also sewn on separately. They were originally pieces of plastic vacu-formed over the engine from a toy train set. There are six of them. I found the best way to space them out was to sew the front one on first. Then I placed the back one directly behind it. Then I placed two in between on one side, and repeated on the other side.

I also found some other great re-creations of Tom. Here he is, along with Crow T. Robot, in Lego form:

Via Reasonably Clever!
And this great plushie is made from felt and stuffing:

Anyway, this was great fun to make! I took notes on all of the parts, which I am going to type up and have available as a pattern. Hopefully this will be within the next week or two.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I always loved New Year's Eve as a kid. We would always get one of those "party kits" with hats and plastic leis and noisemakers, and I loved the combination of "staying up late" and "making lots of noise." How often do you have an excuse to blow a party horn in the middle of the night?

Jason and I had a nice, low-key celebration at home. We had planned on staying in anyway, and all of the snow we got last night only reinforced that decision. I made baked meatball sandwiches:

They were easy, too.
Step 1: Cook frozen meatballs in sauce on the stovetop, according to package directions (I did 20 minutes over medium heat).
Step 2: Place meatballs on open buns and top with a handful of mozzarella. I sprinkled some Italian seasoning on, too.
Step 3: Bake at 425 F for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Profit! Or, y'know, eat.

We watched some bad movies, along with our friends on the Satellite of Love.

By that time it was about 11 PM. I broke out the party blowers and we made some hot chocolate to help stay awake.

We turned on the countdown on ABC a few minutes before midnight. The news anchors doing the countdown had nothing to talk about, so we just kept the TV on mute until the 10-second countdown. Then we set off some poppers, did our "kiss at midnight," and went to bed.

These are my top 3 goals for 2014:
1. Eat more vegetables. I try to eat a healthy balanced diet, with whole grains and fresh fruit and lean protein, but I'm pretty picky when it comes to veggies. Right now the only vegetables I eat on a consistent basis are baby carrots and tomato sauce.
2. Take a yoga class. My favorite form of exercise right now is walking. I want to try something to improve my flexibility and balance.
3. Make money from my crafting. This has been in the "thinking and planning" stage for a while now, so this year I am going to actually move forward. I am working on a Super Secret Crochet Project right now, and when it's all done I want to sell the pattern on Ravelry. I also have some ideas for things I can make quickly and sell at craft fairs, or maybe even get a table at a convention, and if that goes well I will set up an Etsy store to sell online.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Round-Up

Jason and I had an awesome Christmas. We got to spend time with my family and his on Christmas day and came home with all of this:

And also all of this:

Jason got me the 50th anniversary Blu-Ray, which came wit a neat little set of trading cards, one for each of the twelve Doctors (including John Hurt, but not Peter Capaldi). My brother got us Dalek and Cyberman coffee mugs. Mom got us a TARDIS cookie jar and a set of TARDIS/Dalek salt-and-pepper shakers.

I put our new pepper pot to use right away...and by "use," I mean "attacking the graham cracker TARDIS."

And finally, our friend Pat got me this Doctor Who/MST3K mash-up tee:

War Doctor: "Timey-what? Timey-wimey?" Ten: "I've no idea where he picks that stuff up."
Which reminds me, Jason also got me the 25th Anniversary set for Mystery Science Theater. Four new-to-DVD episodes, plus the episodes that transition from Joel to Mike.

It was great seeing everyone, although our day was so busy we had no chance to watch The Time of the Doctor. We watched it last night, thanks to Amazon. It made me happy. I will say no more, except that I am looking forward to Peter Capaldi's run.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent Calendar, Day 23

Today's activity: Make hot chocolate.

It was a good day for hot cocoa--temperatures were right around zero! There are lots of different ways to make it. I prefer something made with milk (even though we used skim milk) and I love putting things on top. Yesterday we used whipped cream, but I also like topping it with marshmallows or stirring it with a candy cane. cocoa.

I used a mix, but it looks pretty easy to do it from scratch, too. I love the little cookies she makes! Instead of frosting them, you could also add food coloring to the dough so they come out red.

Christmas is almost here!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Calendar, Day 22

Today's activity: Listen to Christmas music and wrap gifts.

We had quite a few things to wrap, because we're visiting my family on Christmas morning and Jason's family in the afternoon on Christmas day. 

There are a few tricks to wrapping gifts so they look neat. The first step is to measure how much paper you will need to fit around the box. Start by wrapping the whole roll over your gift, and cut it so it overlaps by an inch or two.

If you want to make sure you're cutting straight, it helps to have a wrapping paper with a checkerboard pattern, or one that has a grid on the underside. 

Measure the paper needed to fold down over the bottom. It should be about 2/3 of the height of the box, so the two ends overlap without causing too much bulk.

Once the gift is positioned, you can tape it along the long sides to form a tube. Next, fold in the corners along the bottom. Fold the top one down and the bottom one up. Tape them in place.

It is very hard to eyeball how much paper is needed to create the fold on top. If the ends are too short, there will be a gap in the package. If they are too long, the paper will get crumpled when you try to tape it. Here's how to get the perfect size every time. Stand the box up on its end. The extra paper will form a cone up into the air.

Now hold the paper right above the box and fold the cone outward. The edges of the paper will flatten outward:

Now cut straight across the top of the paper right after it flattens out.

Then fold in the ends on the top the same way as the bottom. Voila!

Of course, this only works if the package in question is a box. There is a secret to wrapping oddly-shaped packages, too:

Stick it in a gift bag. Done! Add some tissue paper to be fancy.

Jason and I wrapped our stocking stuffers for each other, most of which we bought at Dollar Tree. It turns out that strange minds think alike...

Yeah, we both picked out a set of cheapo plastic ninjas. Why did we get each other dollar-store Ninja Action Figures? Mostly because of this.

Ninja: The Mission Force was inspired by Godfrey Ho. His ninja movies seem to be written by a bunch of seven-year-olds who care more about making things look cool (without any budget) than little things like plot or continuity or sense. The "action" scenes are spliced together with footage from completely unrelated movies, to form one incoherent storyline. They are a wonder to behold.

Godfrey Ho Ho Ho says, "Merry Ninjamas!"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent Calendar, Day 21

Today's activity: Decorate a gingerbread house.

I've been seeing gingerbread house kits all over, but of course when we went looking for one today, they were out. Time for Plan B: Graham crackers!

If you want it to look like a house, you'll need a milk carton as a base. We went with a...different idea.

Can you guess what it's going to be yet?

The windows are filled with star-shaped sprinkles. The light on top is a Dots candy, and the wreath is another one that was smushed and had a hole poked in the middle. For the finishing touch, we dusted it with powdered sugar "snow."

Matt Smith's final episode is the Christmas special! Only three more days until it's goodbye Matt and hello Peter Capaldi...somehow. Apparently the Doctor has used up all of his regenerations (eleven Doctors that we knew about, plus David Tennant's metacrisis Doctor from "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End," plus John Hurt's "War Doctor"). Theories abound as to how he can still regenerate, but I'm going with the simple explanation that the High Council of Time Lords is no longer around to regulate him. I guess. It's probably going to be something more convoluted but interesting.

The idea for our graham cracker house was inspired by this gingerbread house tutorial, which I still think looks awesome.

"Nerdy Nummies" is one of my new favorite channels on YouTube. Her ideas are so fun and they look pretty easy, too!

Advent Calendar, Day 20

Today's activity: Walk around the neighborhood to look at decorations.

I was worried that we wouldn't be able to do this, because it was raining yesterday. It melted a good deal of the snow, which disappointed me, but we are supposed to get more on Monday and Tuesday. Just in time for Christmas!

I took my actual camera on our walk (as opposed to my phone or iPod camera). It's just a point-and-shoot digital camera, but it takes some pretty good pictures.

I like the icicle lights here. Jason liked the starburst in the window, which flashed in different colors.

I'm not sure if those dots on the picture are water droplets or lens flare or something else entirely, but it looks like it's snowing. I like it, even though the effect was entirely accidental. Here's a photo that shows it off pretty well.

Here is a Plastic Nativity Scene being invaded by Plastic Tin Soldiers.

I have never understood the desire to combine Santa or other secular elements with a nativity scene. It's fine to have a religious display, it's fine to have a non-religious display. I just think it's kinda weird to put both of them together. We all know that Santa Claus wasn't one of the Wise Men, right?

Anyway, here is a family of inflatable singing snowmen.

We also saw a couple inflatable snowmen who shook like they were shivering. It must be controlled by the air fan somehow. There was also this guy...

Run! He's almost at your front door!