Saturday, December 15, 2012

Year in Review - April-June


- I made Psyduck while listening to General Conference

Psyduck the Pokemon 

- I got a surprise Easter package from my in-laws, and then made chocolate covered Oreos with the supplies it contained

Easter package

Chocolate covered Oreos

- I finished my steampunk goggles!

3 sets of steampunk goggles: one for me, one for Nathan, and one for my friend Amy.

- I also made a corset belt and a vest with no patterns, only my sister-in-law's help

You can see the corset, goggles, and vest in action

- My brother-in-law took some amazing steampunk photos of Nathan and I and my friend Amy

- We tried Buffalo Wild Wings for the first time

- I made little monsters and earrings for a fundraiser my sister-in-law (different one) held to raise money for Autism Speaks

- Nathan wrote a book in 2 weeks, just to prove he could

Busy, busy month, in retrospect...


- Our retro game collection started expanding at a much faster rate

Now we have THREE shelves instead of one. 

- I got free tickets to a Clay Walker concert

- We drove to California for my brother-in-law's farewell

- While we were there, we watched the solar eclipse

- Nathan took the GRE

- We held a retro gaming tournament to celebrate the GRE being over and the fact that we had a lot of retro fighting games...

Some of the prizes for the tournament

- I made strawberry freezer jam (just like I do every year)

- I tried these awesome granola bars for the first time

That's it. I'm making more tomorrow.


- We got our new piano!

- We went to my family reunion

- While at the family reunion, we tried silk painting

The finished product

- We discovered perler beads... and I pretty much just went crazy with those the rest of the month.

One of my first perler projects, Dr. Mario


- I read 14 books according to Goodreads, falling short of my 25 per quarter goal... but I stayed busy doing other good stuff, so I'm okay with that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Year in Review - January-March


I started blogging more consistently, making a goal to post every day. (And I did it for a long time, too! I made it through mid-May before I started skipping days...)

I began teaching 5-6 yr olds at church with Nathan, which has been a lot of fun this year.

Nathan finished his 8th book.

I joined Twitter. (My handle is @WombatWife, but I don't post on there a whole lot... mostly just lurk.)

Nathan began the Nathan vs. Video Games blog.


I threw a steampunk birthday party for my friend Amy.

Decorations for party
To prepare for said party, we took apart clocks to cannibalize them for gears. I highly recommend this activity even if you don't care about the gears. It's great fun.

My brother-in-law got his mission call to Ukraine.

I got a raise at work.

I bought (and started using) a WaterPik in the hopes that it would keep away the cavities. We'll just pretend that my teeth would have been even worse without it... which is a scary thought, indeed.

We got free tickets to a monster truck event.


My newest niece was born.

I made her tiny Converses, which I had been wanting to do for a while anyway and now finally had a good excuse to sit down and do it.

I began making steampunk goggles with Amy.

As part of making steampunk goggles, I scoured DI for things that I could dismantle for parts. (The things I found came in handy later in the year when I made our Halloween costumes, too...)

I held my first giveaway on this blog! (And only giveaway, thus far. I hope that changes soon.)

We put an awesome Zelda decal on our car.


I tried lots of new recipes, with generally favorable results.

I read 22 books from Jan-Mar (according to my records on Goodreads), almost on track for reading 100 this year (that would be 25 per quarter, so I was three off). If you want to know what they were, look at my Goodreads 2012 shelf.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Perler Beads: Holiday Wreath

All right, how many of you have seen ThinkGeek? Am I the only one who wastes hours on that site drooling over stuff that you never even knew you needed but is SO AWESOME that it's now on your Christmas list?

Anyway, we saw this wreath over there last week, and within minutes we were inspired to recreate it in... what else? Perler beads!

Aside from being a beast to iron, I am pleased to say this project was a complete success. We did modify the slime to be more true to the actual sprite, and modified the coins since we didn't rig ours up with LEDs (as awesome as that would have been, it seemed to be a little more ambitious than I was willing to take on just yet). 9 trays later and probably about 3-4k in beads, I present the final product:

Perler wreath 

Best of all, it spawned an entire idea for what to do with our Christmas tree... but more on that later. :P

Monday, December 10, 2012

Perler Beads: Baby Mobile

I apologize for the dearth of updates recently; luckily for you, though, this means I have lots of new projects and stuff to show off! I'll try to crank out a few posts this week to showcase it all and hopefully keep you mildly entertained.

So my friend Amy (who is my steampunk buddy, if you recall our steampunk photo shoot from back in April) moved away soon after said photo shoot, but she and her husband came back to visit over Thanksgiving break. She's also expecting now, so I got to go to a baby shower for her while she was here. Baby shower for someone who loves geeky stuff as much as me? This calls for something particularly awesome...
Perler mobile

And thus the perler baby mobile was born: fully customizable and 100% awesome.

To make your very own perler baby mobile, you will first need two embroidery hoops - any size you want, really, but it works best if one is smaller than the other. I got an 8 inch and 5 inch. You can get them for about $1.50 apiece at Joann's or a similar craft store if you get the cheap wood ones.

Remove the inner hoop (the one without the little metal bit) from each one - that's the only piece you really need. Then get some yarn in an appropriate color. I had some variegated blue-green Baby Bernat yarn (which you can get at WalMart) but really any color you want is fine. Tie one end around an embroidery hoop and start wrapping it tightly around, covering the hoop as much as possible. Find something to listen to or watch while you do this because it's kind of tedious... but it goes surprisingly fast; I'd estimate it only took an hour or two to do both.

When you finish wrapping one, tie it off and hide the knot inside the hoop. Now the fun begins.

Figure out which perler sprites you want to use. Try to pick smallish ones, and also ones that are all approximately the same size, or you'll have a headache trying to get it all to hang straight when you're done. I chose a Mario mushroom, Mog from Final Fantasy VI, a chocobo (overworld sprite from Final Fantasy IV), a slime from Dragon Quest/Warrior, fairy from Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, baby Yoshi from Super Mario World, the cat from ChronoTrigger, and a Cluckle from Zelda (the sprite used in Minish Cap). Once you finish making your perlers, you'll need a lot of string or crochet thread.

Mario mushroom, Chocobo, Mog, slime, Yoshi, Cluckle, Zelda fairy, ChronoTrigger cat

For the hanging step, the first thing you'll want to do is tie 4 strings to the big hoop (evenly spaced) and then tie them all together to form your base to hang the mobile from. You can do this a number of ways, but I ended up attaching them all to a ring (like the kind you use for a keychain) and then tying them to the hoop. To avoid lots of ends sticking out, I folded each string in half, put the ring on the folded-in-half-string, then stuck the ends through the loop where it folded over and pulled tight. Then you tie the ends to the embroidery hoop and hide the ends under the yarn. It looks much tidier overall.

Next you'll tie the small hoop to the large hoop. Get 4 strings the same length and tie them to the hoops, hiding the ends under the yarn again. The tricky part here is spacing them evenly and also keeping them the same length when you tie them - I found that sometimes my ends were longer than they should have been. You get to decide how far apart your hoops will hang; just pick whatever looks good to you.

Last, you'll tie each perler onto the mobile. I did 4 perlers per level. You can use the same trick doubling up the string and poking it through a hole in the perler beads to avoid string ends hanging all over the place; then it just becomes a matter of tying the perlers to the mobile in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. You can vary the heights if you want, so long as it stays balanced. Also, be sure to stagger the perlers so that they hang from a different area than where the strings you use to tie the two hoops together are, otherwise they will tangle up more easily.

Once you have arranged that all to your liking, and hidden all the ends under the yarn, then hang your new mobile up and enjoy!

And who am I kidding really? This is not really a baby-specific project. It would be awesome in any room.

(Project inspired by the mobile instructions found here.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Perler Beads: Christmas Ornaments

Rather than put up our usual eclectic assortment of Christmas ornaments this year, we decided to go for something a little more... themed. In all actuality, after last Christmas, I fully planned on making Mario plushes to cover our entire tree with crocheted goodness, but... you know... that's a lot of hours. A lot. And then... there's perlers. 20 minutes and you have a finished sprite.

It doesn't take a lot to connect the dots here.

Here's the final assortment gracing our tree from two angles. It includes a Bubble Bobble guy with a Santa hat, Mario carrying a gift, skiing Yoshi (from Yoshi's Island), Ice Man (from Mega Man 2), ice climbers (from Ice Climbers, oddly enough), Link with a candy cane, Chilly (from Kirby Super Star), Mario in a boot/stocking, and of course a Mario 3 star on top.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Perler Beads: 3D Companion Cube (Portal)

This project marks my first foray into the realm of 3D perler beads... and woo boy, I can tell already that I will be brainstorming new ideas to take advantage of this new dimension! For this one at least, I must give all the credit to the Instructables step-by-step guide and pattern, who in turn credits Saturnines from Sprite Stitch.

It looks like a little present, waiting for a bow.

3D Portal Companion Cube!

For perspective.
 I only made one (intentional) change - I used light pink instead of regular pink for the hearts/pink lines.

I think if I make another one, I'll modify it more so that the lid doesn't interlock; that way I can lift it off and keep secret surprises inside. Of course, that would mean more precise gluing with the hot glue gun... not my forte, but I'm sure we can make it work. :P Also, if you decide to try that method, I suggest modifying the white corners slightly as well to ensure they interlock well; the pattern as-is left mine a little less secure than I expected. That's normally not a problem since you hot glue them down, but if they aren't fully glued down it might be helpful.

Now that I've recorded those thoughts so that I can refresh my memory next time I return to this pattern... what shall I make next?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chrono Trigger: Lucca Helmet Tutorial

The trickiest part of creating a Lucca costume is the helmet. I enlisted the help of my husband to create mine, and I was shocked that I couldn't find a single tutorial online about how to make one. So hopefully someone else finds my retroactive recreation of the process helpful. :) I apologize in advance that I don't have a ton of "in progress" pictures; hopefully my descriptions and conceptual diagrams will be adequate.

First, the supplies:
- 1 baseball helmet
- hacksaw
- file
- tan craft foam (one large sheet - about 17.5"x11.5")
- gold acrylic paint
- paintbrush (I used a cheap foam one)
- thick-ish wire (color of your choice), thick enough to easily hold its shape but still be bendable by hand
- half an Easter egg (the smaller half), or similar shaped object
- blue Sharpie or other permanent marker
- hemisphere of plastic (like you find in apple clamshells - see picture below)
- dark green fabric (about 1/3 of a yard)
- tiny LED lights
- washers, gears, or other decorations of your choice
- hot glue gun
- scissors

To begin, make sure the baseball helmet fits snugly. If you plan on wearing a wig for your costume, the helmet can be a little loose, but overall it should fit fairly tightly so it doesn't bounce around. Next, use the hacksaw to cut off the left earpiece and the brim of the helmet. You may also need to tear out a little of the foam padding inside when you cut off the earpiece. If there are any poky or sharp edges, file them down.

Cut along the yellow lines. Make sure to cut off the left earpiece, not the right one, if you want to follow the concept art.

Next, paint the helmet with the gold paint. You will not need to paint the whole thing - the top part will be covered in the green fabric, so you only need to worry about the bottom inch or so and the remaining earpiece. (Honestly, the earpiece is the only part you really need to paint, but we found it easier to err on the side of caution.)

All the squiggly bits in orange are where you should paint. 

While the paint dries, cut out the craft foam; you will need one strip that is about 2 inches wide, and one strip that is 3 inches wide (because the back of the helmet goes further down than the front). Cut them long-ways so they are each about 17 inches long. Paint both of these pieces gold as well. You will end up trimming off some of the 2 inch wide piece so that the two pieces don't overlap; however, you will use the scraps from trimming it to make two other small parts of the helmet, so go ahead and paint all of it gold so you don't have to paint more stuff later. While you're painting stuff, you will also need to paint the hemisphere of plastic with gold paint too.

Hemispheres of plastic from an apple tray thing and tan craft foam. We actually used 3 hemispheres glued together so it would be less flimsy.

Depending on how long your paint takes to dry, you may want to start fashioning some of the wire pieces how you want them. I actually used the twist ties that hold toys into their packaging instead of wire, but either one works great - you just need something that is flexible but still holds its shape well. You use the wire in two parts - first, the antenna, and second, the stem for the mouthpiece. Going off the concept art above, shape your wire until you're happy with how it looks for these two parts.

Next, take the smaller, rounder half of the Easter egg. If it's not the right dark blue color, use a blue Sharpie to color it. I also dry brushed a tiny amount of silver paint over it to disguise the Sharpie lines, but that's totally up to you if you want to do that or not; I think it will look fine either way. If the paint is dry on your hemisphere of plastic, then go ahead and hot glue the half-Easter egg to the top part of the hemisphere.

You can see here how the hemisphere of plastic (painted gold) and the half  Easter egg fit together here. We added a small strip of craft foam painted gold around the Easter egg to make it look like a smoother transition to the rest of the piece. 
If needed, you can cut a very narrow strip of craft foam off of one of your painted pieces to glue around the base of the Easter egg where it connects to the hemisphere of plastic. We did this because the hot glue globs from gluing the Easter egg on were very visible and not very aesthetically pleasing.

At this point, you'll probably want to see how your gold painted strips of craft foam fit around your helmet. Without gluing them down yet, test them out and trim off any extra you have off of the 2 inch wide piece.

While your hot glue gun is heated up, go ahead and cut a 1.5 inch x 2 inch piece from the excess gold painted foam. Fold it in half and glue it on the end of your wire for the mouthpiece of the helmet. Then hot glue the mouthpiece to the interior of the helmet (poking it through the hole on the earpiece of the right ear).

The next step is perhaps the trickiest: covering the top of the helmet with fabric. Rather than create a perfect pattern and sewing a helmet cover, I opted for a cheater method... my sister in law helped me make a paper pattern as a rough guide, and then I cut out the fabric and hot glued it to the helmet, tucking the edges under to form a pseudo hem so it didn't fray.

Template for fabric to cover helmet. Dimensions are 30 inches x 8.5 inches.

The template doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be close enough that you don't have tons of excess fabric hanging out getting in the way. I found this general shape worked really well. You can see faint lines on the paper; that's the "seam allowance" essentially, but again, because this method is forgiving, it's not an exact science. Once you have figured out your template with paper, use it to cut out your fabric. Then hot glue the fabric to your helmet, making sure to tuck any raw edges under. (You don't need to tuck under the bottom straight edge though; that should get covered up with the craft foam.) Make sure the bottom edge of the fabric is far enough down that the craft foam will cover it.

Another shot of the fabric covering and how it fits with the craft foam

Once you have secured the fabric to cover the top of the helmet, it's time to glue the craft foam strips on. Start with the 3 inch wide one; it should wrap around the back from ear to ear. Then attach the 2 inch wide one around the front. You may want to taper the 3 inch wide one a bit to smooth the transition in size, but I didn't bother.

You can see where it switches sizes on the side of the helmet here. It's not quite over the ear, but it's relatively close.
Next step is gluing the hemisphere/Easter egg contraption onto the right ear of the helmet. By this time, you should be well versed in wielding your hot glue gun...

Yeah, you've seen this one before...

Make sure to position it so that it disguises both the transition from 3 inch to 2 inch craft foam as well as the hole in the earpiece.

Next, take another scrap of gold craft foam and cut it into the shape of a flattened cone with the top snipped off:

Basic shape of flattened cone

Glue the remaining wire piece (antenna) onto the unpainted (inside) part of this piece of foam, then fold it as best as you can to make it approximately cone shaped. Then glue it again to help maintain this shape, and glue it to the hemisphere of plastic/Easter egg part of the helmet. See picture above to illustrate.

We're almost done! These last steps are all embellishments and are totally customizable. I chose to use tiny LED lights (from Joann's - look in the wedding section; they were about $6 but you can get them a lot cheaper with a coupon) on a thin wire paired with washers. The wire wrapped around once, with some extra that we wrapped around the hemisphere/Easter egg thing. We poked the end that has the switch to turn it on and off through the hole in the earpiece and glued it to the inside of the helmet where it wasn't in the way. Then we hot glued washers to hold the LED string in place, with the actual LEDs shining through the holes in the center of the washers.

Finished product - front view
And you're done!

If you make your own helmet, I would love to see pictures of it! Feel free to link it in the comments. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Halloween Costumes

This year for Halloween Nathan and I decided to go all out and actually dress up in real costumes. This had to do, at least in part, with the fact that my job no longer saps all my creativity and energy, so I could actually DO stuff in the evening to prepare.

So without further ado, I present Chrono and Lucca from ChronoTrigger:

Chrono and Lucca costumes

Chrono preparing to attack

Lucca's helmet lights up, though you can't really tell in the picture.
I sewed the tunics, neck scarves, and blue bags (as well as Chrono's headband thing) with the help of my sister-in-law; Nathan made my awesome helmet, and the rest of the pieces we gathered from various places. Expect forthcoming tutorials on the helmet and tunics at least, and maybe a miscellaneous tutorial of all the other bits.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Perler Beads: Miscellaneous Ducks

The latest batch of perlers we've done has been rather eclectic, but a bunch of them are ducks from various NES games, so we'll call that the predominant theme...

Clockwise: Alucard (from Castlevania), Toad (from Wario's Woods), some guys from Kid Icarus, Duck Hunt ducks, Scrooge McDuck, and Darkwing Duck.
I took Toad to work to encourage me when I accomplish something cool. Now he's stuck to my cubicle wall next to the Minish Cap cats.

Nathan also made some other random sprites for his cubicle at work.

Nyan cat and singing Kirby.
So... I guess ducks weren't that predominant after all... but that's okay. I vote we make a collection of sprites from the Disney line-up on the NES next.

Also: stay tuned for Halloween pictures. I've been slacking off at posting them, but I'm hoping to do a few tutorials on making the costumes as well in case anyone is interested... and also for my own (future) reference.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Perler Beads: Wario's Woods

One of my favorite SNES games is Wario's Woods, which makes sense given that it's the sort of game you could theoretically play for 10 minutes and be done (though that always turned into hours for me). I remember one Christmas break watching my sister-in-law play it religiously as a coping strategy for morning sickness, so it has that benefit too on top of all the usual hand-eye coordination business. It has the misfortune of having a really dumb AI for story mode, but makes up for it with an excellent endless mode, and two player is pretty fun if I could ever convince Nathan to let me crush him... but alas, he normally opts for other pastimes instead, so I haven't played it much lately. Still, I couldn't resist recreating the game in perlers...

Wario's Woods: can you see the best moves to eliminate the maximum number of enemies?

Of course they had to go next to the Mario stuff. It's technically a spin-off game.
The best part about these guys is I can keep adding more if I feel like it - like a slow-motion Wario's Woods game!