Category: Nerdy things

Another tiny little review: Loot Letter

Anyone remember the tiny little review I did ages ago for a tiny game called Love Letter?

Well, apparently that tiny little game has spawned a tiny little parody. World, meet Munchkin: Loot Letter.

You know it’s going to be silly if it’s in the realm of Munchkin.

A quick refresher: in Love Letter, your goal is to get your love letter to the princess. You’ve got a small deck of cards which are numbered, and there are various amounts of those numbered cards – there are far more of those lower number cards than higher number cards, and there’s only one 8 – the princess. Once you get the princess, you pretty much win the game unless someone forces you to discard her.

Well, Loot Letter is pretty much the same – only there’s no princess. Only loot. And Ducks of Doom, and a Dread Gazebo. And a lot of potted plants.

I got the chance to play Loot Letter with some dear friends over dinner recently, and it was quite a bit of fun. J and Kasi had played it on their own previously, and found out there’s a lot less strategy involved and a lot more luck when playing with just two players. Adding a third player, though, made things more fun, and introduced more strategic moves to try and win the loot. Even though I goofed up a few times by not entirely thinking through some of my moves (like using a Dread Gazebo to swap hands with someone without really thinking about the effects of someone else ending up with the cards in my hand), I somehow managed to win the most loot!

If you’re in need of a short game to pass the time while waiting for food at a restaurant, or for a TV show to start, but don’t feel like something sappy, then Munchkin: Loot Letter is the game for you.

Munchkin: Loot Letter on Amazon

The quilt self-portrait

I recently finished my second quilt.  It’s nothing super fancy – I ordered a sampler pack of 10-inch squares of the Luna Sol sampler from Connecting Threads, cut them all in half, and stitched triangles together until I had a quilt.  Hand-quilting sounded like an amazing idea when I first finished it, and while I was absolutely tired of this quilt by the time I got to adding the binding, I am pretty happy with the hand quilting.

The quilt-in-progress – before I added the batting. And when I realized I stitched one row together with the triangles in the wrong direction.

This quilt is not without its faults.  As you can see in the picture, I stitched one row in the wrong direction – and didn’t realize it until I’d finally pieced the sucker out and laid it out for this picture.  I almost gave up on the darn thing then, to be honest, but then I took a closer look at that picture, and plotted out how I’d hand stitch things.  I ended up going with a sort-of lightning bolt arrangement of geometric shapes for the quilting.  It still looks a little awkward, but hey, I made it a beautiful sort of awkward.

Shortly after starting the hand quilting, I found another issue in the quilt – two squares weren’t exactly stitched together, and were coming apart in one corner.

It was at this point where I said “screw it, this quilt is already imperfect, I’m just going to stitch the hole closed and carry on, maybe patch over it when I’m done.”  And I did the patch you see above, and then went on about my quilting.

But the more I worked on this quilt, the more I saw it as something of a self-portrait.  It was imperfect, just like me.  It’s got some rough patches and parts that were hastily fixed.  It’s got some awkward bits.  But in the end?  It turned out beautiful.

The finished quilt, held up by Ross.

It’s a perfectly-sized little lap quilt, and I absolutely love how soft the fabric is.  Plus, the little bunnies are adorable.  (One of my nicknames is Beth-bun, so that may have highly influenced the choice of fabric, heh.)  Despite all the hiccups in making it, I love how it turned out.  And it really is a self portrait, in quilt form.  Awkward, not quite perfect, but wonderful all the same.

And good at snuggling cats.

Living the Harry Potter dream: Visiting Diagon Alley

One of my earliest entries into the world of fantasy novels was the Harry Potter books.  (The other was Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series, which ties into this little story…) I remember trying to find something to read one day (mom had told me I was forbidden to read the Dragon Prince series, because there was a dragon on the cover, I’m not even kidding), with a huge limitation – “NO DRAGONS on the cover, they’re associated with the devil!  And none of that fantasy crap!”  I scoured the bookshelf in the room I shared with my sister, trying to find something remotely fantasy-related, as I’d been bitten by the fantasy bug hard and my seventeen-year-old self wanted to lose myself in a world of magic and mysterious creatures.

My eyes widened when I came across a new-looking copy of the first Harry Potter book.  I don’t remember when we got it, and I don’t think it’d even been opened at that point.  I looked at the front cover leaf, determined it was about wizards, and thought to myself, “hah – I can’t read a fantasy novel with dragons on the cover, but this one has a WIZARD.  And mom must have bought it, since it’s here on the bookshelf, so I’m gonna read it!”

Read More

The LARPing Nerd

The cast of Kishar Game 43! (I’m the one in grey, to the bottom left of the banner.)

Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP.  A real, actual LARP.

And it was FUN.

A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP.  They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff.  So,  they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!

It didn’t work out all that well.

First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that.  We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan.  Second off, there was no combat.  Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.

I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”

But then I met J.  And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.

Combat time! Our brave adventurers came upon a nest of sand dragons.

When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to.  And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000.  I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume.  And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that.  And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.

So I said “heck, why not?  I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.”  And I did – at the end of March.

I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures.  It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened.  While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.

Our brave adventurers examine the loot they got off a group of bandits.

After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest.  My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic.  And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on.  Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things).  And as I said earlier, you all know how much I love making and wearing costumes.  Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.

 

Our brave adventurers killed a baby scorpion monster!

So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on.  As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome.  And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!

Nerdy Valentines for 2017!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, folks!  One of the things I end up doing most years since I started The Crafty Nerd is collecting a bunch of nerdy valentines for people to share with their loved ones – and this year’s no different.  Here’s a selection of some fun, nerdy valentines for everyone!  Share them on Facebook, print them and leave them around the office, do whatever you like with them!

New cosplay brainstorming: Rose Quartz

Maybe I just like to dress up as pink haired characters.  Maybe I really am obsessed with Steven Universe.  Either way, it’s led me to my cosplay idea for this year’s conventions (yes, I’m actually going to make it to at least ONE convention this year, if it kills me or not) – Rose Quartz, from Steven Universe.  Finally, someone I can cosplay as who has a similar body shape to mine!  (Although I don’t think I’ll ever be 8 feet tall…)  Someone I can cosplay as and not feel so self conscious about!

… specifically, this version of Rose Quartz.

Read More

Steven Universe: my new obsession

You may have seen some more Steven Universe images creeping into my blog as I’ve been posting (infrequently as its been, I know) – and there’s a reason for that, friends.

I am ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW.

omg omg omg

I haven’t been this enthralled with a show since I discovered Sailor Moon back in 1997, you guys. I love the characters, I love the overwhelmingly female-positive vibe of the show, I love the fact that it tackles issues like anxiety and relationships, I love the gripping and occasionally deep storyline, I love the music, I LOVE IT ALL.

I love it so much that I made it the focus of my research for a class I took last semester, Content Analysis for the Web.  (And once I polish up my papers, I’ll even post them here, for those curious.)  I love it so much that I’m considering getting a Rose Quartz themed tattoo.  I love it so much I named my new car Lapis.

She’s no longer rocking Janeway’s old plate, but there’s my Lappy!

Seriously.  I love this show.  So much.

huuuuuugs

I’ve got my desk covered in as much SU merchandise as I can find.  I’ve got a plush Steven on my bedside table.  I have Steven Universe boxers, for crying out loud, haha.  I feel like I used to back when I discovered Sailor Moon… but there are lots of others out there who like Steven Universe, too.  And episodes keep coming out.  And it’s all over awesome and wonderful.

So, yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I like this show.  A lot. 😀

Why yes, I did crochet myself into a repetitive stress injury.

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how I messed up my shoulder a few months ago: too much crocheting.  Who knew there was such a thing as too much crocheting?  Then again, I was cranking out a cardigan like a madwoman for a little bit, and even tried crocheting some socks… (which is a different story for another time, my adventures in sock creation) So, yeah, The Crafty Nerd was out of crafting commission for a while there while I underwent physical therapy and tried (and sometimes failed) to give my shoulder a rest.

"You don't get it, Fluttershy, I have projects to finish!  Blankets to make!  Hats to craft!  I can't not crochet!"
“You don’t get it, Fluttershy, I have projects to finish! Blankets to make! Hats to craft! I can’t not crochet!”

The good news: I can now do yarn-crafts again without being in stupid amounts of pain!  The bad news: I’ve been a slacker of a blogger in the meantime.  I’ll make up for it, though, I promise.  I’ve got some cool nerdy things to show off in regards to creating a personalized start page for your browser (yes, I am that nerdy), and I’m making socks!  With double pointed knitting needles. Which used to terrify me.  And I have a new favorite show to share my thoughts on: Steven Universe.

YAAAY STEVEN UNIVERSE
YAAAY STEVEN UNIVERSE

I swear, I love that show SO MUCH.  It may have knocked My Little Pony and Sailor Moon out of the top spots of my favorite animated shows ever.  I’ve rewatched the entire series at least three times.  It’s amazing.  But I’ll ramble about Steven Universe in a later post!

Three years of The Crafty Nerd!

Wow, it’s really been three years!  (Well, almost three years and one week at this point!)  Three years since I started blogging about my crafty, nerdy adventures.  In the past three years, I’ve…

From left to right: Mia, Max, and Scooterlou!
From left to right: Mia, Max, and Scooterlou!

… owned three Crafty Nerdmobiles – Scooterlou, the original Crafty Nerdmobile, as well as Mia, and the newest little scooter in my family, Max – he’s a 1989 Honda Elite.  (I also call him The Spaceship, because to be honest, he looks kinda like a little spaceship!)

con_collage2

I also went to lots of conventions, and met lots of amazing people, including Christian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones), John DeLancie (Q/Discord), Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Peter Davison (The 5th Doctor), Joel Hodgson (from Mystery Science Theater 3000), and of course, Patrick Rothfuss (author of Name of the Wind, Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things). I also met Ross, who is probably the best person I’ve ever met at a convention, but I might be biased.

costumecollage

 

Of course, with conventions there’s also costuming fun – and I’ve done lots of different costumes, including various variations on Pinkie Pie, a gender-bent version of the 4th Doctor, a glasses-wearing Twilight Sparkle, a steampunk lass, and an exhausted nerd at all those conventions I’ve been to over the past few years. I’ve met many fantastic people, played awesome games, seen many amazing costumes, and picked up loads of nerdy stuff.

I’ve also finished quite a few craft projects, my favorites being highlighted below…

craftingcollage

I’ve done lots of fun stuff over the past three years, and I’m hoping to keep on doing more awesome stuff this year!  I’ve got plans to go to three (maybe four) different conventions, I’ve got lots of new cosplay ideas, and of course I’m going to keep on crafting up cool stuff to share with everyone!  Here’s to many, many more years of The Crafty Nerd!

The Crafty Nerd’s Workspace: At The Office

Like many people nowadays, I spend a LOT of time at the office.  More of my waking hours are spent at the little desk I’m parked at right now than anywhere else – and being the crafty nerd I am, of course I decorated my cube to make it feel a little bit more like home.  Take a peek into my working world, and see what I surround myself with 40 hours a week!

Central Command!
Central command!

This is where I spend the most time: in front of these monitors (and the laptop that’s barely off screen.)  I’ve got my big Fluttershy to one side, my little Twilight Sparkle to the other, and assorted other goodies as well to brighten up the space – like mini-Mia and some ponies.  Another favorite piece of my cube is the Star Trek 50th Anniversary calendar – every day has another interesting tidbit of Star Trek knowledge to absorb!

Bunny! Rawr.
Bunny! Rawr.

To my right, I’ve got my unwieldy jade tree, complete with tiny Monty Python bunny.  He’s somewhat of a mascot for myself and my co-worker, and sometimes he travels around the office to nibble on random computer monitors and desk chairs.

20160204_121358
My Funko Pop collection, led by everyone’s favorite Klingon…

Over on my left, I’ve got my collection of Funko Pop figurines.  I’ve got a rather random assortment of them, ranging from My Little Ponies to Star Trek, and I love them all.  I’ve also got a Toothless coin bank perched on top of my extra computer – he tends to get a lot of attention, as everyone seems to love Toothless.  And we can’t forget my little bit of motivation from Captain Picard, stuck to the side of the second computer…

"You'll have to get through me first."
“You’ll have to get through me first.”

And a little bit of fun – I’ve got a tiny cut-out of Steve hanging on my makeshift cubicle wall. Not many people have noticed him yet, but he gives me the giggles whenever I catch sight of him.

Stay tuned – tomorrow, I’ll be showing off my home office!  It looks wildly different from the last time I posted about it

Crafting for a Cause: The David Bowie Button

As I’m sure many of you have heard last week, David Bowie passed away – his music had a profound impact on my life, and was the soundtrack to my early college years.  When Ross shared the news last week, I thought he was kidding, to be honest – but my Facebook feed said otherwise.  I spent the rest of the morning trying not to burst into tears while I got ready for work.  As I went through my day, I saw the reactions of my friends on social media, and wished there was something I could do to help them, and to help myself feel better.  We were all hurting.

And then I saw this tweet from my friend Josie:

I have graphic design skills.  And I wanted to do something creative as an outlet for my Bowie-related feels.  So I responded to Josie’s tweet, and together, we took her idea and turned it into a button.  She told me she had an idea for a button with the lightning bolt from Bowie’s makeup from the Aladdin Sane cover, behind the letters RIP – and that the spaces in the R and P were Bowie’s eyes.  I took that idea, and turned it into the following design:

bowie_eyes

Josie thought it was great, and so I shrunk it down into a button-sized graphic, which she printed and turned into buttons with her button making machine.

button

Josie came up with the idea to make more of these buttons, and sell them on Etsy to raise money for the New York Theater Workshop, which is currently running Lazarus, a musical written by David Bowie, as well as to raise money for cancer research – and I thought it was a great idea, so she’s selling the buttons we’ve made.  If you want to pick up one of your own, you can get one from Josie’s Etsy store for $3.

Josie’s got a little something to share about the process, too:

Anyone who knows me knows I love buttons. I have a bag covered in them and am planning a button-covered dress to debut at New York Comic Con (or an earlier event, if I complete it before then). I got a button-making machine for my birthday, but had not yet designed or created any of my own pins by the time David Bowie died a few days later.
I’m not ashamed to say I was devastated by the death of my idol, and creating this button with Beth gave me an outlet to do something with my grief. Even if nothing comes of it, even if I only sell a few, turning my grief into something proactive and positive helped me to heal. I hope it did the same for her.
-Josie

And it did help me heal. Together we ended up crafting for a cause, with my design skills and her button maker.  Making the design felt like a good creative outlet for my feelings, and helped me process them in a productive way, and it helped Josie as well.

David Bowie Rest in Peace button – $3.00, Etsy

Evolving Collections

And no, I’m not talking about Pokemon here, heheh.

One of the things I’ve noticed as an emphatic collector of things that relate to my most loved fandoms is that my collections tend to evolve, especially the longer I end up in the fandom.  When I’m building my collection, I tend to buy anything and everything relating to my favorite show or game.  Sailor Moon hairbrushes?  Sure, I’ll buy six!  Twilight Sparkle toothbrush holder?  This would be amazing in my bathroom!  Princess Peach change purse?  Doubt I’ll ever use it, but Princess Peach stuff is so freaking rare that I’ll buy anything I see with her face on it!  Toothless coin bank?  You’re coming home with me, buddy.  Anything with a scooter on it?  I MUST HAVE IT.  And so on.

But after a while, I get overwhelmed with the largeness of my collection.  At one point, I must have had about fifty little brushable My Little Ponies.  And my Sailor Moon collection, back in its heyday, was absolutely ridiculous.  I had such silly things like a Sailor Moon birthday party set – cups, plates, etcetera – still in its original packaging.  And six Sailor Moon hair brushes.  I’ve got a couple pictures below of the Sailor Moon collection, circa 2005, along with other assorted anime goodies – forgive the quality, the photos were taken on a digital camera that was old in 2005…

I also used to own a Princess Toadstool cookie jar.  (Oh, the stories I could tell about wanting that silly cookie jar, and my excitement when I finally got it…)

The Princess Toadstool cookie jar, with me in my first foray into costume-making, circa 1997.

And don’t even get me started on the My Little Pony collection…

Read More

Spoiler-Free Review! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

starwars

It’s the movie everyone’s been talking about all over the internet the past few weeks: the new Star Wars movie.  After the mess that was the prequel trilogy, I know a lot of us Star Wars fans (myself included) were wondering what J. J. Abrams would do with the series.  Would he ruin it or change it beyond recognition, like the Star Trek films?  (Don’t even get me started on the Star Trek films by J. J. Abrams – I like them, but… yeah.  Don’t get me started.)  Would he fill it up with lens-flares?  Would it be more of the unpleasantness that was the prequel trilogy?

I’ll admit, I was nervous about seeing this movie.  I’ve seen the prequels.  I’ve watched Episode I too many times to count, mostly because it was the first movie at the drive-in every freaking week during the summer of 1999.  I didn’t see Episode II and III more than once, though, because they were mediocre.  They felt weird, compared to the original trilogy.  I was worried that The Force Awakens would be more of what happened in the prequels.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Very pleasantly surprised.

Read More

Crafty New Year Resolutions

ponyparty

Happy New Year, everyone!  I’ve got a good feeling about 2016 – I think it’s gonna be a great year. And I want to make sure it’s great, too.  I’m not normally the type to make resolutions, but I think it feels right for this year – so here’s The Crafty Nerd’s Resolutions for 2016!

The Resolutions…

  • Post at least one new blog post a week.  Even if it means spending a bunch of time wracking my brain to put together new ideas for blog posts.  I’m creative.  I’ll figure out something to write about!
  • Actually talk about my craft projects regularly.  Did you guys know I crocheted three blankets between August and Christmas?  Three blankets. I think I’m about ready to swear off crocheting for a while.  But you guys haven’t heard about that because I haven’t really been talking about my craft projects!  Which is sad, considering the blog I write.
  • Make at least one new costume for convention-wearing.  I’m pretty sure the regular Indiana convention-going crowd recognizes my tutu-and-little-blue-jacket Pinkie Pie costume (and is probably bored with it by now) – so for this year’s conventions, I’m going to make at least one new costume.  Will it be Grand Galloping Gala Pinkie Pie?  Will it be Captain Janeway?  Who knows!
  • Keep up with my tasks and to-dos with Habitica. For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember HabitRPG, the website that turns keeping up with your habits into a game.  Well, the crew over there changed the site’s name to Habitica, and things are looking pretty awesome!  A new mobile app was just released, and it looks really slick – and of course the same old “complete tasks, fight monsters, and level up” gameplay is there.  (If you’re on Habitica and want to join a guild for crafty challenges and friendly chatter, check out the Crafty Nerds guild!)
  • Experiment with a new type of craft project. There’s gotta be something out there I haven’t tried yet.  I’ve just barely dipped my toes into the Tunisian crochet pool, and could try making a blanket or a scarf with a fancy design… And there’s way more out there to experiment with, and even more crafts that I haven’t done since I was a kid, like making a latch-hook rug!  (Although given the massive amount of little yarn pieces that ended up exploding all over my room when I was a kid, maybe latch-hooking isn’t the best craft idea…)
  • Organize my craft room! You don’t even want to see my craft room right now.  It looks like Jo-Ann Fabrics and KnitPicks exploded in there.  There might be a bed in there somewhere, too, and a ton of ponies.  So, massive organization is in order.

That’s my crafty plan for next year!  I hope all of you have a wonderful and crafty 2016! 🙂

10 More Free Nerdy Cross-Stitch Patterns!

Last year, I did a collection of free cross-stitch patterns – and everyone loved it!  I think that’s one of the most viewed posts on the blog.  So, as a holiday treat, I’m going to share ten more awesomely nerdy cross-stitch patterns that are completely free!  Simply click on the image for your desired pattern, and it’ll take you to the pattern’s website.

TARDIS Quote Pattern

tardispattern

Read More