Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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It is a beautiful sunny Friday, or at least it is if you’re looking on the bright side of life, which I do. My sunny optimism might just be why I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award.For starters, I want to thank Lee for nominating me and for following my blog and posting such nice praise about my recent cosplay project. I have enjoyed following you back and I found some more people to follow because of your post. Please everyone check out Lee’s blog Tolkien Read Through 

So let’s get down to business … to defeat the Huns.

Rules:

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. Check
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. Will Do
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. Check

Here are the Questions

I just love these types of questions.

1. What is your favorite book ever?

This is a tough one. It’s between the Silmarillion by Tolkien or Empress by Karen Miller. I’d probably  have to choose the Sil, not just for the stories, but because of the author’s love of the book. It really strikes a chord with me that it was his pet project that he never finished. I have a pet project of my own. Like Tolkien, it might be a little too ambitious, and I’m afraid I will never get it done.

2. How did you get into reading?

I used to watch my mother read. She read all the time and made it look like so much fun. It was the one thing she did, aside from watching soap operas, that we were not allowed to interrupt. I wanted to be able to read chapter books with no pictures like she did, especially Les Miserables. I passed it in a library as a child and thought it was huge. I asked my mom about it and she couldn’t tell me anything about the story, except that it was old and looked depressing. I was intrigued by the girl on the cover and wanted to see what it was about. I own it now, but I’ve yet to read it.

3. What was the first book you read?

I’m pretty sure it was Suki the Kitten, which is a book I got as a child from a garage sale. I liked cats. I remember struggling to read the word, window. My mom made me sound it out and she wouldn’t help me with it. I saved it for my kid. It was one of the first books he read. I’m hanging onto it in case he has kids.

4. What is your favorite quote?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

I have to say that I like the way the movie worded it better, but this is still true today. What a greedy world we live in. This should be posted somewhere in every corporate office.

5. What is your favorite atmosphere for reading?

No favorite atmosphere. I could read in a plane or on a bus or on a train. I could read here or there. I could read anywhere. In a box with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.

6. How do you prefer discovering new books to read?

I really don’t have a preference. I just like them to jump out at me: an ad on twitter, a book  on the shelf that captures my eye, a dusty book in the bottom of a box at a garage sale. It doesn’t matter. A referral from a friend is always good. My sister told me to read Empress. My ex told me to read Game of Thrones (before it was cool). I enjoy both books. Sometimes your favorite stories are forced on you. Two of my favorite books, I was forced to read in college. Well, I wasn’t forced. It was the story of Gilgamesh and The Iliad. I just keep re-reading the Iliad hoping the Trojans will win …

7. Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I like ebooks because I can take them to the gym, but I do prefer physical books. I like to look at them on my shelf. I like to hold them. I like to smell them.

8. What inspired you to start your blog?

I had a friend start a blog. Sarah Wright. So when she was visiting, I checked out her blog and started my own. It was so fun getting to share my thoughts and interest and connect with other readers, writers, and geeks.

9. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

My blog post is obviously making a play on rite of passage. I was basically writing about my writing journey and the process. It’s then evolved to include my other interest.

10. What are the things that inspire you?

I’m not sure what initially inspired me. But reading inspires me. This particular story was inspired by a fanfic, I’m not ashamed to say.

I also get inspired by my own experiences and the experiences of others.

I think your feelings, your beliefs, and your passions can inspire you. Your stories need to convey something, have a deeper meaning, and what better than something you are passionate about.

I usually touch on ethical themes about hate, violence, war, and human rights, which are things that are close to me. I also like to touch on family issues, so my family inspires me a great deal. The feelings I had when my brother left to join the military; how close all four of us were as children and how time rifted us apart, the close bond I have with my mom and sister, how devastating it was to be separated from my sister for the first time during college, my conflicts as a mother, how you can love someone and hate them at the same time. Family and love are complicated and I like to show relationships in a real and honest way.

11. When you write something, do you prefer to do it by hand or type straight away into your blog?

I just type it straight into my blog. My handwriting is so bad, I wouldn’t be able to read it. But sometimes I still write my book in a notebook. There is a special and direct connection that your brain can make with your pencil that it cannot make with keyboards, because your fingers leave the keys, which interrupts it.

Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate: this was a hard list. So many more people I’d like to include. Please check them out.

1 Sarah Wright: Blood & Ink

2 Staci Reafsnyder

3 Carrie Rubin

4 Rachelle M.N. Shaw

5 Jon

6 Lori Maclaughin

7 Shannon Noel Brady

8 The Story Reading Ape

9 Middle-earth Reflections

10 Jane Dougherty

11 Ali Isaac

Ready to Raid: Our finished Vikings Cosplay

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Six weeks and 300 hours later we finally finished our Vikings cosplay. We were literally working until 11 pm the night before the con, but everything was ready on time. We had so much fun though our arms are tired from carrying around our shields all day.

For starters, I want to show you our finished costumes.

Here is my son as Bjorn Ironside. He was so cute. He had so much fun with his ax he even broke it before the end of the night.

This is my sister as Porunn. We had a lot of concerns about this costume, but I really like how it came together. We were able to find a Simplicity pattern for the belt and the armor. We also finally figured out what was going on with those gauntlets. We really enjoyed our time being shield maidens.

Lastly, here is my Lagertha costume. It took three days to finish the armor and lacing in the chainmail. Thank goodness I took three days off before the con. On the plus side. I got all caught up on Reign while working on this. This is my favorite cosplay so far. I love the hair, the armor, the chainmail, the colors, especially the shield. I can’t wait to take this one to Indy con.

We had so much fun at the con. There were some really cool costumes, even a guy dressed as the Oxyclean guy. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture.

He spared no expense

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Go Joe!

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The Force Awakens

One of the highlights to the con is the costume contest. Guess who got first place for group costume.

Just wanted to share some highlights from the con. Thank you are for following. For those of you who were following my post on how to build a centaur costume, I will try to finish that next week.

Vikings Cosplay: Final Week

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With five days left before the con, this will be my last post until after the event. Just wanted to update you all really quick on what we got done … and still have to do.

Shirts Complete

All shirts are finished. This took longer than expected after embroidering and embellishing, but I think they look so much like the character’s outfits. Here are some side by side comparisons so you can see how we matched the fabric and details.

Here is Rylee’s shirt, and what I’ve completed of his vest so far. As you can see, the shirt is the same color and similar pattern, and we found a vinyl that replicated the square pattern of Bjorn’s vest. All I have to do is clean up some raw edges and put the grommets in the front and his vest will be done.

This is the best picture I could find of Porunn’s shirt without her armor. I’m not sure if you can see, but we matched the color of the fabric. Even though the sleeves and collar will be hidden by the armor for the most part, we did recreate the look, complete with the trim. We like to capture the nuances of an outfit, even the parts you won’t see.

I couldn’t find any pictures of Lagertha’s shirt without her armor. I actually had to pause the show to see what it looked like. This gives you an idea though. Embroidering the lines on the shirt took forever.

Armor and Gauntlets

I’m sorry to say I didn’t pause to take pictures of our progress so far. All of the fake leather is cut and just needs sewn. Above, you can see what Rylee’s looks like for his Bjorn costume. His is almost done. Kylie and I are finishing our vest this week. We did start our gauntlets over the weekend. I don’t have a picture of Porunn’s gauntlets, but I have  a pic of a partially finished Lagertha vambrace.

These were so fun to make, but it took five hours to get this done, and I still have one more to do!

Other than that, our swords are done, and I’m sad to say, it was late so I didn’t take any pictures.

What’s Left

With five days left, I’m not sure if we’re ahead or behind schedule. We still need to finish our armor, gauntlets, and Kylie’s belt. Other than that, we would like time to make scabbards for our swords. I may or many not have some more chainmail to link.

It does and doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. Each item just requires so much individual time. That’s where the worry comes in. But I’m still optimistic we can get everything done on time. I have some days off this week to get everything done.

I can’t wait to post pics after the con. Please let me know what you think so far and wish us luck.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Four

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Skol!!! Week four went by so fast, but we did get a lot done despite having a busy schedule. I’d say we’re about 70-80 percent done at this point.

We added some final touches to our shields: some black tacs to cover the staples and leather on the handle to cushion our grip. Going to be carrying these around all day. Don’t  want blisters.

Sewing Progress

Rylee’s shirt is done. Here he is posing with his ax.

Kylie’s shirt is also almost done. I just need to add the collar, but I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s a simplicity pattern, but I can’t understand what it wants me to do. Luckily I have sewing friends who can help me out. If not, I’ll wing it. It should be done this week.

Here’s what it looks like so far.

My shirt is still a cloth heap lying on the floor. I cut out the front and back and that’s it.

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I did, however, find the perfect cloth for the trim and a clasp that looks almost just like the one she wears.

No Pants, No Shoes, no Cosplay

pantsPants are done. That was the goal this week. Everyone has their shirt, pants, and shoes ready. Technically I’m behind because I didn’t finish the shirts, but that shouldn’t take long this week. All I had to do was fix a snap on Rylee’s pants. Kylie bought hers, so that eliminated some sewing. Mine were the only ones I had to sew, which is great, because I don’t like sewing pants. I didn’t even understand the directions, so I tossed the directions aside and winged it. Just used a jeans pattern and omitted the zipper and pockets. If you remember from my last post, I don’t do zippers. I’ll do anything to omit a zipper. I didn’t have to sew my pants. I could have bought them, but I saw a fabric that looked like her pants in the show, so I just had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. I think they turned out great, and they fit good.

Swords

This week I really wanted to paint them, so I finished sanding and shaping and putting wood filler in the cracks and nicks. We ran out of time to paint them last weekend, so I’m planning on doing that this week. I’m really happy with these. I’ve never made anything out of wood independent of a shop class. I think they look great. What do you think?

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Chain mail

Still working on the chain mail. I try to work on this a little every night. So far I’ve gone through two spools of wire–going on three. The front skirt is done and the shoulders. Just need the back skirt and the chains for the gauntlets.

This week we’ll be working on the vest and gauntlets. Should really see the costumes come together. Join me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates, or stay tuned for next week’s update.

 

Vikings Cosplay: Week Three

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Let me just start by saying, this was not a fun week. We ran into some snags and realized things are coming along slower than they should. With only three weeks before the con, we need to start wrapping up some of our projects. But let’s not focus on what didn’t get done and focus on what did.

Shield Wall Complete

We are finally ready to make our shield wall. Bosses are attached and edging stapled in. All they need are something round to cover the staples.

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Swords

I’m really proud of how the swords are coming along, except how long they’ve taken to make. I was really anxious to make weapons, and I debated whether to make them out of foam or PVC before settling on wood. I’m really glad I decided to go this route instead of buying something from a Halloween store. Sorry I forgot to take pictures. I will next time.

It’s Sew Time

So, I’m finally sewing. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Turns out, most sewing machines are the same, so it didn’t take me long to figure it out. I modified a pattern to avoid having to use a zipper. I DON’T do zippers. It turned out great. I’m using the children’s Rey pattern to make Rylee’s shirt and leather vest. I took an 8-piece pattern and turned it into a 5-piece pattern by attaching several pattern pieces together that should have been separate. This eliminated so many steps–and the pesky zipper. His short is almost done. I just need to add the grommets and lacing and it should be done.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but here is a picture of the fabric. Just look how well this matches Bjorn’s shirt  in color and pattern.

I know that was kind of a short update, but just didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. I’ve got to get back to sewing. So hopefully more to show next week.

Vikings Cosplay: Week Two

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Two weeks down: four to go. So what did we get done this week?

Well, let me start by saying this was a tough week; I used tools I haven’t touched in over fifteen years and tried some I’ve never used before.

Let me start off by thanking my friends for loaning us some of their tools and letting us use their shields as reference. I bought you a new 1/4 drill bit because I wore out the one you gave me.

Also I wanted to thank my son who has  been eager to help this week.

 

Lastly, I want to “thank” the cats for all of their “help.” Laying on the fabric and biting my chain mail rod and knocking stuff off of my work desk is shaving hours of time and layers of stress from this project.

So everyone pitched it, and I think it shows.

Preparing to Sew

Yes, preparing is progress. It takes me a week to “prepare” a sewing project. Aside from buying the fabrics, patterns, and thread I have to literally psych myself into it. I hate reading patterns and sewing. Just hate it. It’s nerve wracking and tedious–probably like surgery, I imagine.

You might think I’d be less stressed sewing shirts, vest, and pants after sewing a centaur costume. I mean, at least there are patterns for shirts, right. You won’t find a centaur pattern. I had to make it out of a tablecloth. Believe it or not, this might be more daunting because I have to sew three shirts, three vest, three sets of bracers, a set of leg bracers, and a pair of pants. Luckily my sister bought a pair of pants for her and Rylee. While I’d like a majority of this project to be handmade, it doesn’t all have to be. This will save me hours of work, and the pain of sewing pants.

On a happy note, the fabrics we got are wonderful. I forgot to take pictures so I’ll share in a future post.

Shield Wall: Almost Complete

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Last week we cut out the shields. This week we cut out the hole for the boss as well as drilled the holes for the handle and the boss. We also got to the part I’ve been looking forward to all week long: painting. I love to paint. The colors of Lagertha’s shield are so bright and contrasting: that green with the black. I love it. Went through a lot of tape to get the lines straight. I can’t wait to see it done. Sis is still completing some final touches on hers so I don’t have a picture of it yet. Rylee’s shield is done. He even helped paint. He had a lot of fun. It’s been nice having little projects he can help with. I hope he learns a thing or two about wood working, painting, and sewing by the time this is done.

Weapons: Almost Combat Ready

Last week, along with the shields, we cut out the swords and the ax. This week we started shaping them. Bare in mind this is with minimal power tools, so we’re shaping them mostly with hand-sanding, an electric sander, flush saw, chisel, and file. Honestly the electric sander is almost useless. The swords still need another week’s worth of work, but the ax is finished, painted and waiting to be assembled. I’ll try to share a better picture. This was taken at night without flash, because I turned off my flash for some reason.

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That’s our progress so far. Other than that, still working on chain mail. Technically we’re on schedule, except for the chain mail. I’m falling dangerously behind. I should have had the other sleeve done by Sunday. Oh well, I scheduled off an extra day this week to get ahead (or catch up).

Stay tuned for next week’s progress. This week I start (pause for dramatic effect) sewing.

Lagertha Cosplay: Week One

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Well, all year my sister and I have been teasing a great top-secret cosplay idea. The only problem: we didn’t get it done … or started. With weekly doctor appointments, our mother’s passing, and getting her condo ready for the market, there just wasn’t time. Not to mention all of that procrastination.

So last minute we decided to do a Vikings cosplay. My sister will be Thorunn, Porunn (whichever), my son will be Bjorn, and I will be (the fan favorite) Lagertha. I think it’s really ironic that once again, my son is playing the role of my son–only last time I played the role of father (Thranduil). And once again, he’s playing the role of my sister’s boyfriend–or would-be boyfriend.

For the record, we did not choose Vikings because it would be “easy” just “easier” than our other idea. To be honest, if we’d wanted easy, we’d have bought bed sheets and made Kylo Ren and Rey costumes … not too late to do that.

Vikings is just an awesome show and what better time to create a Vikings cosplay than right before the second half of the latest season. So excited to see Lagertha and Aslaug battle it out for Queen. Hoping Bjorn joins the plot this season. lol

Our Raiding Party

vikings-bjornSo, obviously my kid looks like Bjorn, and he’s my son, so who he was going to be was no debate. I wanted him to go as kid Bjorn at first, but to be honest, big Bjorn’s costume will be easier than the child’s costume. And he gets an ax.

imagesMy sister and I really liked the character Throunn. We’re probably the only fans of the show who do. Not sure why. She’s a fun character with an awesome hairstyle (sis already has the shaved head). She’s a slave turned free woman exploring her new found freedom, which makes her a little wild and reckless. Sadly, the fans hated her and the producer wrote her off the show, which happens to almost all of the children and women characters I’ve noticed. Ironically enough, this will not be the first time my sister has cosplayed as a truly despised character. Two years ago she went to Kokomo Con as Tauriel, the controversial OC for the Hobbit trilogy. While we loved her, she was simply detested by die-hards. So it seems my sister is drawn to a certain type of character. Can’t wait to see how she pulls this one off.

Obviously I chose Lagertha.  Mostly because I can relate with her. She’s a single mother and a fighter who tries very hard not to put up with male BS, but gets screwed anyway, and has a hard time getting the respect she deserves. Personality aside, I love the intricacies of her hair and outfits. And there were a lot of outfits and hairstyles to choose from but I’m going to do this one from Season 3.

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Goals

One of our biggest regrets with the Hobbit cosplay was that we didn’t personally make the costumes. At the time I didn’t have the confidence to sew. It had been almost fifteen years since I’d taken sewing class (and I wasn’t very good. My teacher let me pass for “effort”). I gained a lot of confidence building the centaur costume (completely and utterly by hand), so I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Sidenote: for those of you who think you’ll never use what you learn in shop class or home economics, if you want to cosplay, you will. It’s been fifteen years since shop and sewing class, but I can’t believe all the instant recall I’ve had while working on this project. I’m glad I took theatre, shop, and sewing in high school. A lot of people said I was wasting my time, but it turns out, I have some useful skills. (Also, as an adult, if you want to eat, take cooking class. Just saying).

Obviously we have our work cut out for us with elaborate hairstyles, wood working, leather working, sewing, and making chain-mail. It’s going to be slow going, but with five weeks left, I think we’ll be done in time for Kokomo Con.

Progress

So, after a week of settling on concepts, we finally made a solid week of effort.

So what did we get done?

Our swords, shields, and the ax are all cut and ready to be filed, sanded, and painted. The swords themselves took an entire day to cut out (I was still getting acquainted with the jigsaw), but the shields and ax we cut out in two hours after work.

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I have one sleeve of chain-mail finished (don’t judge unless you’ve done this). I can’t feel the tips of my fingers anymore. To clarify, I didn’t order a chain-mail shirt, or even chain-mail links. I am making my own links and linking them together one by one. There are many ways to do this, but I prefer the method where you attach them on a rod like so. There is a video on YouTube that shows this process. I made the thing to hold the rod out of PVC pipe. It took all of five minutes to make. As you can see, it is portable, sturdy, and adjustable. (you can put longer or shorter rods and pipes in the top and bottom to make it longer or shorter depending on how long a chain you need to make.

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Next week I hope to get some sewing done. Thanks to friends and family who deserve more than just an honorable mention, I have a sewing machine to sew the garments. It was absolutely free so I’m going to take very, very, very good care of it. Their kindness saved me time and hundreds of dollars, which helps a lot because leather (even fake leather) isn’t cheap.

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I’ll be sure to share photos and updates on my blog, facebook, and Twitter as the weeks go by. Stay tuned for next week’s progress.