Monday, December 29, 2014

Blast from the Past: You Might Be A Redneck Elf If...

Courtesy of an email printout I found from 2003 (when the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy came out), I present:

You Might Be A Redneck Elf If...

  • Elrond throws you out of Rivendell for ruining his garden with your 3-wheel ATV.
  • You deep fry your lembas cakes and eat 'em with fatback.
  • You ask Cirdan the Shipwright what the limit is on bass fishing at the Grey Havens.
  • You get the Dixie Chicks to record your lament for Gandalf entitled: "Take This Wizard and Shove Him".
  • You leave your gaudy Yuletide decorations on your flet all year round.
  • You own a velvet painting of Gil-galad.
  • When drunk, you taunt mortals at the Prancing Pony with, "Well, at least I ain't gonna die like the rest of you suckers!"
  • Your elven steed has a bumper sticker that reads: 'I don't brake for dwarves.'
  • You were expelled from Lothlorien for cutting down the mallorn trees for firewood.
  • You have a still that puts out hooch made from elanor flowers.
  • You and your buddies regularly sneak up to the Black Gate and egg it, then ride off really fast.
  • You go skinny dipping in the Dead Marshes.

...I'll leave it up to you to decide which of these DSCA, Deevius, and I are actually guilty of.  We are redneck elves (and hobbit), and proud.

Friday, December 19, 2014

VintageBeef III: UK Bound

After a terrible time trying to get a VintageBeef plushie sent over to the UK via USPS, he has finally made it into the hands of his ever-patient new friend, Zdenka.

I ended up shipping him FedEx instead; I'm not trusting any more third party handlers.

A side note: the customer service for FedEx is fantastic.  Very friendly, helpful, and forgiving.

Yesterday, I received this tweet:

Finally, after fearing he'd been lost in the international shipping shuffle, Beef made it all the way to Great Britain!

The real Mr. Beef had this to say:

I'm so very happy for Zdenka, and she's already informed Beef that he shall be meeting his plushie self at the announced London Minecon in 2015.  She's promised me pictures, and I'm very excited!

Thank you Zdenka; I would collaborate in any fangirl manner again!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dragon Age Diaries: The Hero

Day 30, Month of the Kingsway

I had put this off as long as possible.  I didn't wish to return to Orzammar at all, but the Gray Warden treaties I hold in trust require that we ask for aid from all peoples.  Alistair has said that all must honor their place in these treaties, and I've taken him at his word.

But what good have any of the dwarves dwelling in Orzammar ever done me?

However, my business with the Dalish elves concluded far sooner than I had liked--at least they were polite to outsiders, if initially mistrustful.  And given the choice between paying Flemeth a visit at Morrigan's behest or going back to the mountains, too much needed to be done in Orzammar for me to keep ignoring it.

Even the bounty hunter and his hired band were a welcome distraction from the gate that loomed in the distance, but that fight was not lengthy.

If Wynne or Alistair noticed a change in my behavior, neither said anything.  Charl gave my face an extra lick, his short tail wagging as we searched the bodies of the bandits.  I found no bones for him this time, but it didn't deter him from sniffing around.

With my mabari at my side, and my two human companions trailing behind, we approached the gates.  It took all of three seconds for the gatekeeper to say the words.

"Filthy brand."

I'm sure I winced; my face tightened like I did, but I had the Gray Warden treaties, and I had eyes on me.  I didn't rise to the bait.  The human there on behalf of Loghain took issue with me, regardless.  But even if the gatekeeper had no respect for my person, he did have respect for the seal on those aged documents.

I kept my anger sheathed.  I have my own thoughts about Loghain, but in front of a dwarf was no place to voice them.  Especially a dwarf mired in politics of his own.

You would have thought that the blood still drying on my armor would have warned Imrek not to trifle with me or my party.  I was wrong.  He died quickly.

Entering the Commons was familiar, yet still strange.  The weight of the earth so close over my head should have comforted me, for I had missed it.  And yet...

I felt a burning sensation on my face--I had all but forgotten about my brand.  Maybe I'd had a false sense of security all along, but now I felt it was a blazing beacon, standing out to all my kind.  A heavy, unpleasant feeling seemed to creep beneath my armor, clinging to me.  There were going to be looks.  Challenges.  Slurs and curses.

The friends with me would see them and hear them.  Nothing I could do would stop that, but oh, I wanted to stop it.  I should have stayed at the camp, polishing armor, or practicing with my blades.  Part of me knew that this task would have been easier if I had made Alistair the warden in charge, but traditional dwarves are naturally suspicious of outsiders.

They fear the outside influence upon their precious caste system.  Because everybody knows that the fortune or misfortune of your birth holds value.  And because I am a female born of another casteless female, I was never allowed to choose a different fate for myself.  Work on my back, work for Beraht, or starve.  I had thought those were my choices.

But Duncan gave me a different choice.

I was handed a chalice with a delayed death sentence inside.  And still I drank deep.

The wardens don't tell you much about the Joining.  I know why, now.

Death tastes bitter, for those who might read this.  And the aftertaste is terrifying--the nightmares are frequent, despite Alistair's words.

More than once, I have desired to dig my fingers into my flesh and simply rend it from me.  The itchy, uncomfortable feeling of frustration kindles rage, and the pain feels good.  The pain reminds me that I am strong.  Only the strong survive, and here I am.

I dread it.

I dread the warm, suffocating air, the burning tang of the lava flows...the dark, warm colors that always seem to have some derivative of brown tinting them.  There is no welcome in Orzammar.  There's the in-fighting, the politics, and the castes.

I know better than to have any expectations of my fellow kind.  The instant the gates of Orzammar closed behind me, it was as if the last three months spent on the surface had been a dream, and I had awakened to find that I was as insignificant and powerless as I had been raised to be.

And then, to be immediately found by Rica, my sister...I wasn't sure if I should be happy, or wary.  Pleased to see her, certainly.  Wary of what she thought of me now.

Her first words were reassuring, and true.  Of course I am happy for her--she has been able to provide for herself, and for Mother.  And now my new nephew.  But in the back of my mind the suspicion lurks--did Bhelen choose my sister as his concubine because he knew I might be back?  Did he suspect that the increase of darkspawn meant there was a new Blight?

The machinations reported to be behind his hopeful ascent to the throne seem too well-timed.  But I can't breathe a word of that to Rica; she seems so sure of her and her son's destiny.  And I won't put her in danger.  This is all a game of shifting balances and loyalties, and I don't know how to play it.  But there's Wynne.  And Alistair.  Waiting for me to lead them to victory.  And I can't explain this to them.

For the first time...I am alone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Minecraft Builds: Aedui Bakery

Immediate disclaimer:  I don't build.

If I've said it once, I've said it at least a dozen strengths do not lie in building design.  They lie in copying other people's designs.

That said, I'm pretty good at listening to and/or watching Minecraft tutorials and taking their design principles and at least expanding  them a little bit.

So, if you've never heard of Lynchyinc, here's his Youtube channel.  I was introduced to his tutorials via BdoubleO, one of the Mindcrack server players, and I thoroughly enjoyed his medieval steampunk style.

Last week, when April and I had our normal Minecraft building meet-up (working on her village of Aedui, which when I first saw it, was just a storage room, mine, and an island she'd begun to level) I spoke to DSCA and Deevius and had them show up to help.  We decided that instead of going off on a crazy adventure (because April's connection was far too laggy), we would build something new.

Thus started the construction of the Aedui (eye-doo-ee) Bakery, which I finally completed last night, with the help and assistance of April and DSCA.

Ta da!  I designed a cupcake banner to put on the front, too.

From the back, you can see the twin brick
baking ovens, and their adorable chimneys.

Interior, bottom floor.

We had a time of it, trying to get those ovens lit without setting the ceiling on fire.  In the end, we tore out the wooden planks and put in stone slabs, instead.  I also added wooden beams to support the stone floor, and so far, no more fires.  

Bonus picture: in the distance, you can see the first building April and I did for Aedui.  We even have a villager that lives in the bottom floor!

Far left: DSCA.  Using the furnace: April.

You can sort of see the similar roofing styles between the two buildings at this angle.

I've left April to do the interior of the bakery, and hope to be pleasantly surprised the next time we're able to play again.  The only other buildings we've done for Aedui are the lighthouse/watchtower, and the half-finished home for the lighthouse keeper.  

But we had fun together, and I think that the bakery turned out decent, my lack of building skills considered!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why I Write: Fanfiction

Fanfiction is a love letter.

It's a reader's/player's/participant's expression of appreciation and joy for the imagination of the original author(s) and creators of a fictional world/universe.

It is a writer's way (whether amateur or experienced) of giving something back to that fictional world in the form of the moments we enjoyed the most, the characters we loved, and the stories that made a difference to us.

Fiction is a means of escapism--we sometimes see the world around us as not so challenging or difficult when we can share in the struggles of a character who is facing far greater foes than we are.  It gives us someone to pull for, to follow.  To care about, and even to hate sometimes.  A well-crafted book is an adventure you can put in your bag and open at any time.

Perhaps that is why the game of Myst appeals to me.

Fanfiction is equally escapism, but one that the 'fan' can create in reply to the original fiction.  We all love the fictional worlds we do for various reasons, and those reasons are often deeply personal.  Something about those stories or characters harmonizes with us, and we want to continue to hold on to that feeling.  In rarer circumstances, sometimes we want to express the frustrations we have when stories don't go the way we want.  Or if we feel the story ended too soon.

But this is also another expression of love: we want what is best or right for the fictional people involved.  It's a writer's response in a more eloquent form than an angry tweet or electronic comment.  Plus, it's really a credit to the original creator: they have made a world so important to the reader as to make the reader-turned-author want to fight for a different ending.

So writers, do what you do.  And fans, love what you love.  I believe that writing is the highest form of thoughtful expression, for in the fine word choice and editing; working to make everything perfect truly is what creates marvelous love letters.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Etsy Spotlight: Made Of Leather

If you use Etsy regularly (as in, have a registered account with the site and have favorite items or shops) then you know that it will suggest other things to look at based on what you like.

Well, down in my feed somewhere I discovered a lovely shop out of Europe: MadeOfLeather, owned by Iliana.

She has some gorgeous leather items that would be perfect for costuming (whether LARP or otherwise), as well as charming journals, photo albums, etc.

I mean, check out some of the archery collections she's made:

And I've always been a sucker for a beautiful journal:

Listing here.

Listing here.

But the design that really caught my eye was this one:

Listing here.

For those that might not know, my LARP character calls herself Feather, in order to leave behind the shame and bad luck associated with her real name.  In fact, most of Shadowmoor knows her only as Feather, and couldn't pronounce or spell her actual name.  

(Even the plot team writes out my tags with the name Feather...I write "RealName"/Feather on all of my plot paperwork.  Shows how much people read, amiright?)

Anyway, I saw that feather design and fell in love.  My character has taken to wearing a bracelet/cuff on her left wrist to cover up her wedding tattoo (no, not because I want to cheat on my husband's character Honu) but because the Sharpie I used to write the tattoo ended up smearing all over my yellow tunic during my kitchen shift.  

(Also, there was one time that slavers or bounty hunters or something came through Shadowmoor looking for Sampan with tattoos.  I didn't need to get caught up in that madness.)

I saw some of the smaller things, such as bracelets and barrettes, and also that Iliana took custom requests.  The note on her shop stated that she was behind in some of her custom orders at the time due to some health problems, so I merely sent an inquiry about a leather cuff order, expressing my desire that she not stress about a time frame; I was merely curious.

Iliana was so gracious and upbeat about the whole process; I sent her the feather design I was thinking of:

Without the words.

Iliana replied, asking about my preference as to the placement, and I settled on:

With a snap closure.

Well, I got a message last week that the bracelet was done!  Check it out!

It's perfect!

I love it so much, and it was a great price, plus Iliana was amazing to work with.  I am definitely going to contact her again, perhaps with a custom request for a bracelet for my husband.  He's a huge Assassin's Creed fan and would totally rock a cuff with their seal on it.

Plus, it's a help to him, since he can wrap this for Christmas (or post-Christmas)!  Win/win!

If you get the chance, check out Iliana's shop, just to admire the great work she does!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Achievement: Dragonslayer

Yes, you read that right.

After today's hymn-singing, laundry folding, house tidying (or in between those things), I played more Dragon Age: Origin.

I called down a High Dragon from the mountain top, and in only two attempts, 'smote it's ruin upon the mountainside'.


I tried to catch an image with the achievement still up on the screen, but I was too shocked at my success (and unfamiliar with the controls--I blame the differences in the Steam version of LotRO) to get it right.

So, I made up for it by posing with the stone-faced (in my head they're gleeful and mostly just glad they didn't get eaten) characters who brought the beast down.

From foreground to background:  Morrigan, Alistair, Wynne, and my warden.

And now if anybody could tell me how to replicate this outcome with Flemeth, I'd be doing really well!  Not being able to take Morrigan to that particular clambake is proving impossible for me.  

For the time being, my Dwarf commoner has reluctantly returned to Orzammar.  I wasn't even inside the city before I got called a filthy brand.


(But this it the stuff good fanfics are made of!)

Ooh, fanfic?  I would I start a new fanfiction?   Ain't nobody got time for that!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Confession time:  I played Dragon Age: Origin all day today (minus the time I spent washing all the dishes, scrubbing out the sink, cleaning spaghetti night off of the white stove).

I even played it during the Broken Buttons build event today.  o_O

Not sure I'm ready to admit that I have a problem...yet.

But I will admit to wanting to know how the story ends.  I'm just a little frustrated at the moment, because I'm having to leave some of the areas unfinished because the final bosses (and some mini-bosses) are too powerful for me to successfully beat.

*dramatic sigh*

Needless to say, no craftsies today.  Tomorrow's up in the air, too.

Anyway, on with the Throwback!

I make a Christmas gifts for distant family (or at least, I have been the last two years since getting married) and ship them out usually with enough time for them to arrive by Epiphany.  (That's January 6th.)

Cominatcha from Christmas 2012: crocheted hotpads!

Don't they look like little ornaments?

Those little dart designs are actually raised, so you can set hot pots and pans on them.  Neat!

Until tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Video Game Reflection: Relationships

True story: I am not used to video games having relationship angles in them.

Except for the Sims.  But that's all the game is about without extra expansions, so I disqualify it.

No, I'm talking about typical hero/quest/adventure video games.  Action and adventure; swords, battle axes, shapeshifting, using the Force, whatever.

Let me back up and explain that my first ever "true" video game was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  Everything before that (other than Mixed-Up Fairy Tales) was educational.

Anybody remember any of these games?

My brothers and I still have the abandonware today.

Featuring the Shady Glen television station.

Starring paint-slinging robots and math puzzles galore.

Then for Christmas, we got a new computer to replace the brick of an IBM (which only took 3.5" floppy disks (which really weren't floppy compared to the larger 5" disks the old school computers ran on)) that was my first home computer.  That shiny new machine had a CD-ROM drive and Windows 95--it was a thing of beauty!

It also game with a small binder of game discs, which included Myst by Broderbund.

The first realistic 3D game environment I'd ever encountered.

And that was how I got my love of puzzle games, and a glimpse into how games could look (as long as the game didn't have people in it--the first Myst game only had one actual person, and because of the mechanics, you couldn't move in all directions around him).

This was followed by some early internet chatrooms, which introduced me to the wider concept of MMORPGs.  The first one I ever tried was Runescape, and I made it my mission to be the best miner, smelter, and blacksmith ever without raising my combat level (as much as possible; you had to be certain levels to mine in special locations).  

I was the great ore stealer; people would assume that li'l old level 22 me would lose at the ore deposits (because the game awarded the ores to the highest mining level, which was also affected by equipment) when they were level 80+.  Mwahaha!  

Apparently, I'm an early internet troll.

But imagine what it was like for me when in college, somebody gave me an N64 emulator and a bunch of different game images to play on them.  (College was in 2002, in case  you're wondering.)

I went from thinking that 3D characters looked like this:

To this:

And then of course, to this:

This is probably how I got my thing for blond elves.

Around that time, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out in theaters.  Besides being the deciding factor in my choice of college major, the trilogy was accompanied by the Gamecube RPG game The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.

Do you see where this is going?

Couple that with what I was learning about tabletop games, and then the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the brand-new Wii system...well.

Now we get the gist of where my desire to play hack'n'slash characters comes from.

However, though the relationship between Link and Princess Zelda is always heavily implied (discounting all of the other ladies in the games such as Midna and Ilia), there's no real "romance" opportunities.  I thought games were supposed to be linear, for the most part, with tons of tiny side quests for bonuses and loot.

Then I entered my Dungeons and Dragons Online phase in grad school.  (There may have been some Serious Sam mixed in--I warned you about me and hack'n'slash!)  This opened my eyes to cool customizable characters.  My friends and I spent real money buying the pretty armor from the store, in whatever colors we wanted.  To me, that was the most advanced character creation I'd ever seen.

(Here I'm discounting the creation of Minecraft skins in Paint, which I've also done.)

This is Deevius and I posing in a clothing/armor shop.

But it didn't stay that way...

Another friend, who is a fellow Lord of the Rings geek, had heard that the online MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online was going free-to-play (this was a couple years ago) and we should check it out.


I never go into these things alone; I of course told my other geek friends what I was doing (the same ones that used to Serious Sam with me, and DDO with me) and lo and behold...we now have our own kinship and game together once a week.  (I in fact bought us all each two expansions during the Black Friday sale this year at the Turbine store.)

Now, I'd heard of other MMORPGs that have relationship options with NPCs, I think from Mike the coworker.  While LotRO does not have that mechanic in place, Deevius, DSCA and I have already divvied up the elf lords we're going to snuggle if that should ever be a possibility.

I mean, DSCA already has Elladan's pants...

Ahem.  I digress.

Around the time I began to play LotRO, I also started dating the Panda.  He was impressed that I had my own Wii.  I was impressed that a boy wanted to talk to me.  (At our small college, geek and/or nerd girls are a minority, and were somewhat frowned upon in my day.  This resulted in me bringing my Wii and television to all the on-campus parties I could.  I educated even the most sheltered of people with Mario Party 8 and Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix.)

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

We married the summer of the year I began playing LotRO and he moved all of his gaming equipment into our house.  Now, the Panda is an only child, and he would save his money to buy each of the Nintendo gaming systems as it came out.

So, my sparse video game life suddenly exploded.

I didn't know what to do first!  (I still don't know!)

The Panda favors games such as Halo, The Last of Us, Uncharted, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, and Destiny (to name a few of the lasting ones).

He brought with him a PlayStation 3--to me, a mythical device that replaced my DVD player and could also use Netflix and Amazon Video.  At first, I had no use for it; I couldn't even figure out how to play movies.

But then the Panda started playing through the Mass Effect trilogy...and suddenly I didn't care that I didn't know how to use a PS3.  I watched him interact with the characters and make decisions.

And then I watched him romance Miranda.

Well.  Two can play that game.

Yes, I do mean literally.

I would spend the nights he was at work playing the Mass Effect games as (of course) FemShep.  The first time Kaidan made a move on her, I didn't see it coming and I turned him down flat.  (The only options in ME1 are Kaidan and Liara.)  I was too busy mastering the mechanics of a type of game I'd never played before to complicate FemShep's life with another person.

Also, thanks in part to my roleplaying game background, I had already begun to put together a probably backstory for my FemShep (other than her Spacer, Hero chosen requirement).  Her inspiration came a tiny bit from Honor Harrington, David Weber's character and the subject of over a dozen space navy books (toward the end they get a little ridiculous).

Anyway, Velvet Shepard's backstory included at least one failed shipboard romance, likely early in her Alliance career.  It was likely very hurtful, and possibly detrimental to her career, and it could have taken some interference from higher-ups for her to get out of that situation.  (Details unclear--read my fanfic.)  Needless to say, she resolved never to date within the Alliance chain of command ever again.

So my Shepard went on her way, trying and failing to be a good Infiltrator (I do not have the steady hands to use a sniper rifle at all).  My go-to team for ME1 was Wrex and Garrus.  I loved their interplay, and BioWare did a fantastic job creating a well-rounded, interesting universe.

When I find a new fandom/universe and it really, really grabs my attention I go all-out.  That means reading wikis, articles, walkthroughs, and anything else I can get my hands on.  The Lord of the Rings was the last fandom I got really entangled in.

I knew that ME2 was going to be very different from ME1, and not just because of the expanded party options (ten people?  Seriously??).  My FemShep was waking up in a changed universe, presumed dead and brought back to life by the enemy.  The first familiar face she ever saw was Garrus'.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I had already decided (based on the Panda's playthrough) that if I was going to get sidetracked by a romance, I wanted it to be with Garrus.  This didn't stop me, however, from nearly running right into Jacob's arms accidentally.  I didn't just turn him down flat, I dropped him like a hot potato (because I wasn't aware that I had picked him up--oops).

When asked why I chose Garrus, I wasn't sure why (the character is an alien) at first.  But as I did more and more of his conversation interactions, I noticed how charming and awkward he was.

Just like the Panda.

Hm.  Could be a fluke.

Well, last night I spent some time playing Dragon Age: Origin with the Panda's shared Steam library.

(Side note: this is the one time I have ever been ahead of him in a game!  I know what's coming!  My glee cannot be contained!)

Another BioWare game, Dragon Age is a medieval RPG game, but the plot is so fascinating, it's almost like a disaster you can't look away from.

Anyway, there's another awkward character, and as a female gray warden with any shred of sympathy, you could also find him charming and bashful.  Yeah, I'm talking about Alistair.

What's not to love about a man that says things like that?

The Panda finds it amusing that all my romance choices are essentially him in the games.  I think he's proud.  (I hope he's proud, at least...)

What can I say?  Bumbling charm is what does it for me.  And I don't mind the corniness because of the sincerity.

In one of the cut scenes, Alistair says something like: "Have I told you that I love you today?  Well, it doesn't matter, because it bears repeating: I love you."

My warden answered: "I love you, too."

Alistair:  "See, was that so hard?"

I had to play this part twice, and both times I yelled at Alistair for quoting the Panda.

But enough of me and my video game history.  I didn't have a craft project to share, so I thought I'd talk a little about what I did in game yesterday night, and early this morning.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Facebook Art Trade 2014 - #4

I ended up getting confused at one point--I thought one friend had signed up for the Art Trade and was worried about which Doctor Who or Avengers project to do...

...and then discovered I was wrong!  My good friend from college (granted, she worked for me) graduated as a nurse and is working up in Ohio.  I believe her husband teaches for a Christian/private school, and they're probably getting lots of snow this year for Christmas.

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to do; I needed something that would be simple, preferably in colors I already had on hand, and perfect for a nurse (making other nursing coworkers jealous is just a plus).

There's things like stethoscope cozies, and little crocheted caps (do people actually wear those?) but in the end I found myself looking up search words like 'bacteria' and 'virus'.

See, carries plushie microbes you can get for your friends.

And, well, if it can be a can definitely be crocheted.

I found this charming $1.00 pattern from Jana Whitley (Ravelry link; purchase necessary) for a red blood cell amigurumi and fell in love.  (She also has a white blood cell pattern, too!)

It took me two separate nights, but only because I didn't realize I needed a tube sock for the stuffing (how else do you think it has that doughnut-like shape?) and asked my fabulous husband to raid his dresser for any lonely socks.

Some eyes, a little fabric paint, and some finishing touches while watching The Expendables 3, and voila:

Microbial adorableness!

He's even concave in the middle!  Now to have the "shipping department" of my crochet emporium dispatch this cute little guy to Ohio!

And now the modified project list:

- Plushie D20
- Facebook Art Trade 2014 - #5
- Guude Plushie
- VintageBeef Plushie
- Baby Groot II
- Purple & Black Scarf

Also, stay tuned for Broken Buttons news this Saturday (with some sneak peeks at our new map, Alucard)!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

House Slipper Collection

Several months ago now, DSCA and her family bought a house for the very first time.  It was a fixer-upper, and in the interest of packing up their things and then unpacking them, decided to pare down their possessions.

These possessions included a large paper bag (you know, the kind with thin, white handles that stores like Bath and Body Works gives you with a large order) FULL of random yarn.  April brought it with her when she came back from visiting DSCA in Virginia this summer.

The only thing asked of me was that I crochet some house slippers for Mom Wilson to have, in order for guests to wear while over at the house.

Using my modified version of the free pattern from ZoomYummy's website, I made five different pairs:

My slippers are modified to have less toe coverage in the beginning, and to make up the difference along the sole of the slipper.  This technique I developed when making the Power Ranger slippers last year:


Thank goodness for Ravelry notes!

Since I had to stay up late to wait for the Panda to get home from work, I started a new project (Facebook Art Trade #4) last night, but am lacking a tube sock.  Perhaps I can convince the Panda to sacrifice one in the name of craft projects everywhere...

I hope to post about it tomorrow!  (Fingers crossed!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Facebook Art Trades 2014 - #3

When I agreed to do the Facebook Art Trades of 2014, I signed up for two trades.  I already posted about the fabulous jewelry and handmade cards from Dr. S.

The second trade was with Roger (Tao from LARP) whom I met through Mike the coworker.  I joined a Star Wars RPG, and Roger played Maru, our unofficial leader.  We started spending more time together after he graduated from college.  We actually played through the Mass Effect trilogy together at my house (because my hubby has all of the DLCs).

Together, we played a FemShep with an engineer background, who romanced Liara and made a few more 'renegade' decisions than my original FemShep playthrough.

Anyway!  Roger invented and mastered making fluffy brownie cupcakes.  That was my trade, and believe me, it was long gone before there could be any pictures taken.

In exchange, when I went up to the last LARP session of this year (during the "Polar Vortex" -- it was below freezing for more of the weekend than the sun was out), I crocheted him some fingerless gloves, by tracing his hand and estimating using this pattern by Vampireweasel (purchase required; Ravelry link).  It was made much simpler when he decided he didn't want the extra thumb piece.

I then brought a bag of random yarn colors with me to LARP, and made and sold another pair to Mike F., a plot member.  He was generous and paid me double what I asked for (really, they're a quick project, even when you can't really feel your fingers due to the polar vortex).

Here's the pictures:

Strong man hands, ladies.

Here's hoping that's not an unintentional gang sign.

This takes care of all the projects I've finished that I was ready to share with you!  Hopefully, I'll finish those house slippers tonight and be able to post about them tomorrow.

(Did I mention I'm trying to blog every day in December?)

I'm trying to blog every day in December!  ^_^

Here's to 9 days!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Letterbox Spot: Treaty Oak

Until this past weekend, I had never been to Clemson.  Clemson is known for Clemson University, home of the Tigers.  College ball is a big deal down here, and the two main contending forces in this part of the state are the Clemson Tigers versus the USC Gamecocks.  Whole families have been known to disown members over this...

You think I'm kidding?  I am not.

Well, maybe wholly 'disown' is a stretch.  But they make license plates that say "A House Divided" for families that have both types of fans in them.


Mom looked up some of the best letterboxes out in Clemson (home of Figureeight, the gentleman who organized and ran the Paris Mountain letterboxing event we attended in September).  She compiled a list of clues, and off we drove!

Clemson University is a large, sprawling campus, covering acres including an extensive botanical garden, a golf course, and several historical markers.

Mom and I visited the historic marker for Fort Rutledge, strolled out along the dike of Lake Hartwell, and then out to the site where Andrew Pickens' house used to stand.  (He was one of the people Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson's character) in the movie The Patriot was based upon.)

We ended out letterboxing foray with a quick hike up to the Treaty Oak Monument, honoring Hopewell and the Indian treaties signed there.

We parked by the historical marker.

The beginning of the trail was nearby, and we were glad we came in the off-season; the beaches are said to be pretty popular with the college kids in warmer weather.

The other side of the sign, detailing the location
of the actual monument, where we were headed.

The local Boy Scout chapter had done a lot of work to clean up the path; the hike was beautiful and we had perfect weather.

The unearthed plaque in memory of the Hopewell estate.

This is the actual site known as the Treaty Oak Monument.  It has four of these unique structures, and the clue referred to them as "the four points".  In the middle is the carefully-protected Treaty Oak sapling.

But enough sightseeing!  We had a letterbox to find!  I had my compass out (some of the clue depended on general directions, and I am no good at naturally knowing that kind of thing) and Mom went off to find the appropriate beech tree.

The beech tree in question was said to have "Tim & Sabrina" carved into it; the age of the carving has eliminated half of the names.

Let's hope they're still doing well, whoever they are.

Some Muggle kids came up for about five minutes, so we tried to look tourist-y and "read" the sign at the location a few more times.  As soon as they were gone, I dashed back to the tree and went on with the search (no spoilers!).

We then hiked back the way we came in search of a Bonus Box!

A bonus box is a letterbox who's clue is located inside another letterbox, and usually gives directions from the first letterbox to the bonus box.  In this case, there were small, laminated cards.  We took one, and off we went!

If you're thinking about letterboxing down in my neck of the woods, definitely check out the amazing carves and plants Figureeight has done.  Well worth your time!  Mom and I have never been disappointed.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Letterbox Spot: St. John in the Wilderness

And now, a break in crochet news for some letterboxing!

Mom came down to visit after spending time with my brother, sister-in-law, and baby nephew in Kentucky.

Because my Virginia plans fell through this weekend, we were able to drive up to North Carolina and visit with Grandma Dottie!  On the way, though, despite the drizzling rain and fog on the mountain highways, we stopped for a couple of drive-by letterboxes in Flat Rock.

Days Gone By was planted by Tiggermama, and her clue said very specifically to bring a camera.  I did, and I was not disappointed!

(Please keep in mind that I will never quit my day job to be a photographer.)

St. John in the Wilderness is a beautiful church with a simple, elegant terraced cemetery surrounding.  Every plot was draped in ivy and moss, with the old gravemarkers darkened by rain.  The gray, misty weather gave a silent serenity to the entire small graveyard.

The entrance; driveway to the left.

The letterbox clues were fairly straight-forward, but I spent more time tourist-ing than following clues...I turned around a lot and retraced my steps quite a bit.

The paths were so well-kept, even in spite of the autumn leaves. 

I've always been intrigued by unique gravestones.

Following the clue, the path turned right, and I followed, finally getting a look at the church itself.

The terraced plots were so simple and lovely.

I paused for a picture of a leaf on one of the paving stones.

If I were given to haiku, perhaps I would write one about this leaf.

At last, I found the key grave of note in the cemetery: Christopher Memminger and his family.  Memminger was the first Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States of America.  This plot acted as the beginning of the true letterbox hunt.

Someone has kept the Confederate flag flying in memoriam.

Of course, I got distracted by the Narnia-esque lamppost I found:

Mr. Tumnus, where are you when I need you?

I headed towards the back of the graveyard, and came upon the stone-cut roses mentioned in the clue:

Trying to capture the intricacy of the carving.

My close-ups need work...

I had a hard time tracking down the last part of the clue, because I am unfamiliar with stonemasonry and other carving techniques.  I was sure I had to look for a particular type of cross...not the name on the cross.

Coming upon my final marker in the clue.

I was so fortunate the rain hadn't washed out the name.

Close-up of the detail on the center of the cross.

I successfully obtained the letterbox at this point (no spoilers!), and headed back towards the car, where Mom was waiting, safe and dry.  I took the driveway back, and paused to click a few more pictures on the way.

Twin mossy crosses.

The unique cross from the other side, heading back toward the beginning.

There are more letterbox escapades, but not as many pictures with such a serene quality.  I'll do a separate post later this week, to keep up my "blog every day in December" goal!

Thanks for reading!