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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Doctor Who Birthday Party! on: April 09, 2016 08:23:02 PM
I turned 30 last Saturday.  Two weeks before my birthday, my girlfriend said "Do you want to have a party this year?  I was thinking we could do a Doctor Who theme..." and that was the end of her involvement in the planning process because I took the idea and ran away with it.  Cheesy

I'm not good at documenting events while they're happening, so mostly I have aftermath photos.





All the paper plates, napkins, cutlery, and table covers were TARDIS blue.  I put this poster on the front door (I moved it to my closet door after the party):

The crack in the universe!  It's made of cut black and white paper - I stacked them and cut both at once, then offset them to make the shadow and stuck them to the wall with a repositionable glue stick.  Then I colored on top of the white with chalk and smeared it down to look like the light shining through.

Silence posters.  The little strips say "YOU HAVE SEEN THEM" with a picture so you can remember what you've seen.

My cat was banished to the bedroom for the duration of the party since some of my guests were allergic.  I put a "KEEP OUT" sign on the bedroom door so no one would let her escape.


I served grilled brats and burgers for the main course, and had a lot of sides and snacks for which I made Whovian labels.

The cake was a blue-and-white ice cream sheet cake which I Doctored up (see what I did there?) with a toy TARDIS (which was a Christmas tree ornament until I took the Santa hat off) and some sparkler candles (which were pretty cool, but they left ash on the icing).

We also made chocolate TARDIS and Dalek cupcake toppers using a mold from Amazon.  I think we used the wrong kind of chocolate for the Daleks, it ended up getting kind of gritty...

Oh, and we had Adipose marshmallows!  My mom and my girlfriend's mom made these, it was really cute to see them bonding over it.  Smiley

Games & Activities

I had season 1 playing for anyone who wanted to watch it.  I also set out my Doctor Who playing cards with some printouts I made of the rules for various card games: Spoons, Lies (also called "BS" and other, more colorful names), and War, with quotes from the Doctor relating to the themes.

I set up a photo booth with my webcam and a TARDIS tablecloth for a backdrop.  I put out props, masks, and signs for people to hold and had costumey bits on a hat rack nearby.

Make your own Sonic Screwdriver!  We bought a bunch of cheap keychain flashlights from Amazon, and before the party my dad and I cut screwdriver blanks from wooden dowels to fit the flashlights.  I set out all kinds of tools and materials and let my guests get creative.  There were pipe cleaners, metallic and regular Sharpies, six different colors of electrical tape, star-shaped sequins, metallic gold and silver duct tape, colorful parachute cord, and of course flat-backed glass marbles for the ends.

And my favorite activity: the scavenger hunt!  As my guests arrived, I handed them a River Song journal containing the first clue in a scavenger hunt that would take them all over the house, collecting more clues along the way, until they reached the place where I had hidden all the goodie bags and they could claim their well-deserved prize.

Goodie Bags
I used plain blue paper bags to keep with the TARDIS color scheme.  If I'd had more time, I would've made the goodie bags more exciting - I had planned to add more things and also make little labels explaining the stuff I chose.

And the goodies!  Space stickers, Jelly Babies (the Fourth Doctor's favorite snack), English Breakfast tea (as the Eighth Doctor says, "Never turn down tea when it's offered.  It's impolite, and that's how wars start."), a glow stick, a Milky Way bar (because space!), and a little tub of Play-Dough (because, according to the Fourth Doctor, "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes.")

I had a blast at my party, and I think my guests enjoyed it, too.  I might just have to turn 30 again next year.  Smiley
2  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Doctor Who Party Scavenger Hunt on: April 06, 2016 09:27:31 PM
Okay, this is the bit of my 30th-birthday Doctor Who party that I'm the most proud of.  I made a scavenger hunt for my guests, with clues hidden all over the house leading to goodie bags for everyone.

I made a total of twelve sets of ten puzzles (and I have only just noticed that one of the puzzles is missing from that picture, oops...).  I gave the first puzzle to each guest inside a printout of River Song's journal cover (I got the file for the printout from the BBC website - it's about halfway down under "Makes").  They had to solve each puzzle to find the location of the next.  I gave everyone a binder clip to keep their puzzles inside the journal covers.  If I'd had more time I would've made the journal covers into little folders, or worked out some kind of ring binding or clasp system to keep the collected puzzles inside, but the binder clips worked okay even if they were a little tacky.

I got the idea for the scavenger hunt from this website, which also has a lot of other Doctor Who party ideas, and a downloadable scavenger hunt you can print out.  I chose to make my own rather than use theirs because A) the way they made theirs work for anyone's house is by having each puzzle yield a numerical answer, and each number corresponds with an entry on a list of possible hiding places (I didn't want anyone to be able to just go down the list and look in all the hiding places one by one until they found everything) and B) you have to pay money for it.

I'm including all the puzzles I made here, in case anyone wants to use them for their own DW party (or just wants to solve them), but several of them lead to locations which are very specific to my house.  It should be fairly easy to adapt each one to your own needs, though.  (I highly recommend the GIMP for image editing, it's like Photoshop but free [and open source!])

The first puzzle explains a bit about how the scavenger hunt works.  I had several non-Whovian party attendees, and I did my best to make sure all of the puzzles could be solved by someone with no knowledge of the show.

I put my favorite Doctor on puzzle #2.  Smiley  This was also my subtle way of letting DW newbies know that the blue thing is called a TARDIS.

For the next one, I used this website to make a word search with a hidden message.  I put in what I wanted the message to say and threw a bunch of Whovian words into the word list, then tweaked the puzzle size and word list until the website produced a puzzle with a reasonable selection of words to find, and the right number of leftover letters so I could get my whole message in without any random letters at the end of it.

One of the later puzzles requires you to know what a Cyberman is, so I thought a match-the-Cybermen puzzle would be fun (considering there have been so many variations in their look over the years).

Color in the baddies, leave the good and neutral characters/symbols alone.

I did NOT want to go into the intricacies of the proper way to write in Loren Sherman's Circular Gallifreyan alphabet (but you should definitely check it out, it's awesome!), so I drew each individual letter as if it were a separate word and used that for my Translate Gallifreyan puzzle.

In retrospect, I should have had the Eleventh Doctor trying to find his fez rather than the Empty Child looking for his Mummy, because I felt kind of bad about the spoiler for "The Doctor Dances" and also it turns out that non-Whovians can't identify a fez on sight.  Oh well.  I made the maze in Microsoft Excel by creating a square grid of a reasonable size and writing my message in a squiggly path from one side to the other.  Then I used the drawing tool and drew a bunch of other squiggly paths to dead ends, put borders on the sides of each cell in the right places, and filled in the dead-end paths with letters (laying false trails as I did so, which fooled at least one person - I caught my girlfriend's mom looking for a tiger-shaped lunchbox on top of the fridge Smiley ).  I was originally planning on just Googling a free printable maze and writing my message on it (which would have been much easier and saved me loads of time), but I'm kind of a maze snob and I didn't like the looks of any of the ones I found, so I made my own.

I was a bit worried about this puzzle, when I had my girlfriend do a test-solve she couldn't tell that the line formed letters and she kept trying to figure out what it made a picture of.  I guess it worked out all right, though, since everyone who started the scavenger hunt was able to finish it...

This is when fez knowledge becomes necessary.  Previous puzzles let non-Whovians know what a TARDIS and a Cyberman look like, Sonic Screwdrivers and Adipose were named elsewhere in the party, and bananas, bow ties, guitars and scarves are pretty obvious, but I got a lot of questions like "Is the red thing a flowerpot?"

I don't think anybody found every TARDIS, but they all found enough to figure out where the final prizes were ("in bathtub").  I intentionally put the more important letters on the most obvious TARDISes (3B on a foot-high metal TARDIS bank on top of a bookshelf, 9B on the poster on the front door, 7T on the backdrop for the photo booth, 4A on the cake topper) and the less essential letters on TARDISes that were not so easy to spot (2N on a half-inch-high 3-D printed TARDIS on a shelf, 1I on a lanyard hanging in a corner of the craft room).

The scavenger hunt was a big hit at my party, and I hope you enjoy it as well.  Feel free to use my puzzles or modify them as you choose, just don't sell them or claim them as your own, of course.  And if you do use them and you want to link back to this post, that would be fab.  Smiley
3  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Doctor Who Party Food Labels on: April 06, 2016 06:09:53 AM
My 30th birthday was last Saturday, and I had a big Doctor Who party to celebrate.  I made a post for the entire party over on the Occasions and Holidays board, but I felt that the food labels I made deserved their own post so I could go into more detail about them ('cause let's be honest, I'm really proud of how they turned out).

Here they all are, minus the food they're supposed to label, because it didn't occur to me to take pictures of the party until after it was all over...

The main course was brats & burgers that my girlfriend (actually mostly my girlfriend's sister, I'll have to send her a thank-you card for it) cooked on the grill.  I didn't have cute labels for them, or the buns/cheese/lettuce/tomato/onions/condiments to put on them, but I tried to tie all the sides and snacks into the theme.  Since there were people at my party who had never watched Doctor Who, I wanted to make it clear how everything related to the show.  I figured the best way to do that was to have screenshots from the show with quotes about the food and also labels so they would know what was what.

I got the screenshots from this website and this website.  This collection of Doctor Who episode transcripts was also a valuable resource.  I made the actual labels in GIMP.

We had a fruit bowl with apples ("Apples are rubbish." - Eleventh Doctor), bananas ("Bananas are good." - Nine), and tangerines ("Nobody likes the tangerines." - Twelve)

For side dishes, there were baked beans ("Ah, you see.  Beans."/"Beans are evil.  Bad bad beans!" - Eleven) and pasta salad made with bow tie pasta ("Bow ties are cool." - Eleven).

There were also potato chips, which I labeled "Sontaran chips" ("I'm the clever one.  You're the potato one!" - Eleven [with Strax]), French Onion chip dip ("Have you met the French?  My god they know how to party!" - Ten), and a veggie tray which I didn't have a screenshot label for since I couldn't find screencaps of the Time Crash short - I wanted to use the bit where Ten says to Five "Not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."  I did label them "decorative vegetables," though.

As for desserts, I got some Jammie Dodgers from Publix ("TARDIS self-destruct...my ship goes, you all go with it."/"All right, it's a Jammie Dodger.  But I was promised tea!" - Eleven) and some lady fingers cookies to eat with the custard which I also got from Publix ("I know what I need...fish fingers and custard." - Eleven) - on the text label I printed "Fish Fingers and Custard" then crossed out "Fish" and wrote in "Lady."  Oh and we had Adipose marshmallows ("I'm waving at fat." - Donna Noble).

We also had cupcakes with chocolate TARDISes and Daleks on them, which I figured would not require labels, and a birthday cake which I turned Whovian by the simple expedient of dropping a toy TARDIS on top.  My girlfriend did take a few party pictures, so here's the only one of the food:

Feel free to use the labels for your own Doctor Who party!  I can send the original files to anyone who's interested - I actually printed them together, four to a page, with white space above them so they could be folded into free-standing tent shapes.  PM me your email address if you want them.  Smiley
4  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Bigger-on-the-Inside TARDIS Party Invitations on: April 05, 2016 12:13:21 PM
I turned 30 last Saturday and had a big Doctor Who party to celebrate.  These are the invitations I made for it.

The front is an image of the TARDIS printed on regular typing paper, with the doors cut so they'll open.

When you open the doors, an image of the TARDIS console room folds out to give you the party details.

The back has a festive Dalek.  Smiley  I printed the Dalek on card stock, and I sandwiched a piece of thick paper (the weight of thin cardboard, really) with a hole in it between the front and back pieces, so the triple thickness of the folded inside wouldn't warp the TARDIS doors when the card was closed.  I put everything together with a glue stick because I couldn't think of any other adhesive that wouldn't wrinkle the paper.

I was really pleased with how these came out, I even made an extra one so I could keep it.  Smiley
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Rainbow Taco Salad! on: June 27, 2015 04:23:06 PM
Yesterday was a good day.  Smiley  I celebrated last night with this brightly-colored taco salad!

Red salsa, orange shredded cheddar cheese, yellow onions (enhanced with food coloring), green chopped lettuce, blue canned chicken (more food coloring), and purple(ish) refried beans (the food coloring was less effective on the brown beans than it was on the other things, but I did my best).  Served up in proper rainbow order with a pile of chips to eat it with.

I had a go at some artsy photos.

Also, I made a rainborrito.  Smiley

6  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Wizard's Bookshelf Pendant on: May 28, 2015 07:30:52 PM

I've seen tiny bookshelf pendants like this on Pinterest and loved them, and I finally got around to making myself one.  Mine is Harry Potter themed, with scrolls and potion bottles on it as well as books, and an owl and a Ravenclaw scarf on top.

I carved the owl from a 1/4" square basswood dowel.  I left him attached to the stick while I painted him, since he would've been impossible to work on otherwise.  His coloring is modeled after a barred owl.

The bookcase itself is made from 1/16" thick basswood strips which I carved and sanded thinner so the shelves wouldn't look so chunky.  The top shelf has an inkwell (made from two seed beads), a quill pen (thick paper), and several rolls of parchment (thin paper tied with thread).  The middle shelf has books (bits of card stock wrapped with colored paper), a crystal ball (a silica gel bead from a desiccant packet [you know, the stuff that comes in little pouches marked "DO NOT EAT" when you buy new shoes], dipped in a blob of gold paint), and a magic wand (carved from a toothpick and painted).  The bottom shelf has more books and two potion bottles (the blue one was a mutant seed bead that was extra long and the green one is two seed beads stacked on top of each other, both with toothpick corks).

The whole thing is approximately this big:

I hope it doesn't fall apart when I wear it.  I'm a little nervous.  Undecided
7  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Hand-Bound Art Journal on: March 29, 2015 07:25:27 AM
I made an art journal!  Well, it's sort of an art journal/junk journal/scrapbook thing.

It's covered in the most awesome fabric I had in my stash, this fabulous outer space print:

The covers are stiff cardboard with blue endpapers.  The pages are 8.5"x11" (ish) and all came from my stash - I didn't buy anything at all for this project, for which I am very proud of myself.

I used all sorts of different colors and textures of paper, and some pages aren't paper at all.  I included a fun pencil case and two card-holder sheets (I've decided to get into ATCs).

I also made envelope pages

and pocket pages

and some pages that fold out beyond the margins of the book.

I bound it all together using a single-sheet version of Coptic stitch (tutorial from here) so the pages would lay flat.

I took a LOT of pictures.

8  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Cheap & Easy Metal Etching with Household Items on: March 11, 2015 08:13:03 PM
I've been going nuts with electroetching lately, it's super fun and pretty simple to do.  Best of all, it doesn't require expensive or hard-to-find materials.  You probably have most of what you need in your house already.  The only things I had to go out and buy were fingernail polish and nail polish remover (a buck each at the dollar store) and a pair of test leads (less than four dollars at Auto Zone).

Before you start etching everything you can lay your hands on, I should warn you that this process produces a gas that is probably hazardous to your health.  Make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area!

Got your window open?  Great, let's get started.

You will need:

plain white vinegar
regular table salt
fingernail polish (use the cheap kind, you'll need a good bit of it)
fingernail polish remover
9-volt battery
test leads (explained below)
small bowl for mixing the solution (I used a bottle cap)
cotton swabs
whatever you want to etch (must be a conductive metal that's not painted or anything - I'm using a stainless steel butter knife from the thrift store)

Test leads are a pair of wires (usually one red and one black) with a metal alligator clip on each end.  They're used to test simple electrical systems and they look like this:

You'll also need paper towels, and you may want to wear rubber gloves.  I don't, but then I don't care if I get nail polish all over my hands.  Your call.

The first thing you do is paint your knife blade (or whatever you're etching) with nail polish.  You want a nice even coat that's not too thick, I guess like you would put on your nails?  I don't wear nail polish, but I imagine that's how it works...

Just paint the surface you want etched.  You won't be immersing your piece in an acid bath, so don't worry about covering up the back.

While the nail polish is still wet, use your toothpicks to carve out the design you want to etch.  You have to work fast, especially if your etching surface is large, since nail polish is designed to dry quickly.  Keep in mind that whatever isn't covered with nail polish will be what gets etched.  I've found that designs with thin lines tend to work best, since it can be hard to get an even etch over a large open area.

Let your piece sit until the nail polish is completely dry.  Don't worry, it won't take long.  Once it's dry, mix up a solution of salt and vinegar in your little dish.  I don't measure this part, but a tablespoon of vinegar to a quarter teaspoon of salt seems like a reasonable ratio.

Using one of your test lead wires, connect the positive terminal of the battery to some bit of exposed metal on whatever you're etching.  (Traditionally, the red wire is the positive wire, but if you want to be a rebel and use the black wire I promise I won't tell anyone.)

Clip one end of the other wire to the negative battery terminal.  Clip the other end to the end of a cotton swab dipped in your salt-and-vinegar solution.

The cotton swab doesn't have to be super drippy, but there should be enough solution on there to make a good electrical connection with the alligator clip.  Make sure the clip is attached to the actual cotton bit, not the paper stick farther up.

Touch the wet end of the swab to the lines of your design.  It should start to bubble and hiss pretty quickly, and you may see wisps of smoke coming up.  Drag the cotton swab slowly along your design.  Try not to hold it in one place for too long - you want to keep moving so all your lines are etched evenly.

The cotton swab will start to get pretty grody.  That's good, it means it's working.  Smiley  Just dip the clean end in your solution, re-clip the black wire, and keep etching.

I think I went through both ends of two cotton swabs on my knife.  I should have timed how long I spent on the etching process, but I didn't think of it until right now.  Oh well.  Just be aware that the longer you spend etching, the deeper your design will be.

It was hard to get a photo to show it, but you should be able to tell the difference between etched lines and not-etched lines in your design - anything that hasn't been etched yet will still have the shiny surface of the original piece, while lines that have been etched will have a more matte surface.

When everything has been etched to your satisfaction, take some nail polish remover to your piece...

...and go "YAY!"

A few notes:
You may notice the alligator clip that's attached to the cotton swab bubbling and hissing during the etching process.  This is normal.  It's made of metal, too, and it's being etched just like your piece is.

I've tried using contact paper as a resist instead of nail polish, and I didn't like the results as well.  The salt-and-vinegar solution seeped under the contact paper in a few places, so the edges of the design weren't as crisp as the ones I did with nail polish.  If you want to experiment with different tapes and things, though, go for it!  Leave a comment saying how it went.

If you let your solution sit in your little dish so long that it evaporates, it leaves behind funky square salt crystals.  Smiley

So that's it!  Have fun!  Please let me know if any part of this tutorial is unclear, or if you have any questions.  Also, if you make something, I want to see!
9  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Experiments in Electroetching *link to tutorial added* on: March 10, 2015 07:10:35 PM
UPDATE: I made a tutorial!  Make your own etched metal everything!

My dad taught me how to do simple electroetching recently and I've been playing around with it ever since.

My first etching project (the blank side of a car key):

I used red nail polish for the resist, so I figured that's why the etched design looks red.  I started using black nail polish after that.

Not every metal works with electroetching, what you're trying to etch has to be conductive and not coated with anything.  I tried a soup can and the inside of an aluminium can and neither one reacted.  Then I picked up some old stainless steel butter knives from the thrift shop and they worked wonderfully!  (Well, not the first one I tried, but that was only because I got impatient and didn't let the etching process go on long enough to get nice deep lines.)

I used nail polish for the resist on this one and spent a long time on the etching, so it's quite deep.

Here I was experimenting with a different resist method - I cut the design out of contact paper and stuck that to the knife instead of carving my design out of a layer of nail polish.  It didn't work as well as I'd hoped, the vinegar solution bled under the contact paper a little and it made the design look sort of fuzzy, but it turned out okay.

That's it so far, but I'm not finished playing around with this technique yet.  I'll do a tutorial with my next piece if anyone's interested, it's pretty easy to do and doesn't require any harsh chemicals.
10  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Green Lantern Hoop on: February 21, 2015 03:00:44 PM
I made this for my partner in the Box of Color swap.  The color she chose was green.

I found an outline of the Green Lantern logo online, added the text of the oath in GIMP, and printed it directly onto the fabric using the freezer paper method.  Then I crayon tinted the logo (this tutorial was very helpful, as I'd never tried crayon tinting before) and embroidered over the words.

Close-up of embroidery:
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