Wednesday, October 28, 2015

DIY Ender Dragon Costume AGAIN!

Okay, I KNOW! I should become the Mom-of-an-Ender-Dragon-Lover blog. But this is big!!


The Big Kid keeps telling me that it was my idea to add glowing eyes, but I'm not entirely sure that I believe her. My idea or not, I got stuck with the actual act of making he eyes glow, and we had a couple of hours to kill at a local hackerspace (the Big Kid was 3D printing a comb) so that was the perfect time to do it.

I'm going to admit my very non-creative idea was to cut the shape of the eyes from card stock, paint it to look like the Ender Dragon's eyes, and put a purple glow stick behind it.

Yes, it's laughable.

Thank GOODNESS for people that are way smarter than me, because when I explained what I was wanting to do, Trish and Jasper (the hosts at the Lab that night) jumped in and we left with this epicness.

Really, I can't tell you how it was done. I went to Target to get some purple LED lights and a 9V battery, and the magicians (*cough* electricians? engineers? LED Gods/Goddesses?) in the lab did everything else.

WAIT! I poked the holes into the box where the LEDs were to go, and painted white pixels on the back of the frosted acrylic so the eyes would be accurate.

The light doesn't shine as brightly where it's more opaque. It was a small detail that I wasn't sure would have much of an impact, but it does a surprisingly good job of keeping the eyes pixelated. SCORE!!

Not that that compares at all to all of the other work that went into it.

I have told the Big Kid that there will be no more changes to this costume. It has reached peak awesomeness.

She may take that as a challenge. 

For those of you who are new to this, the Ender Dragon costume has been a work-in-progress for two years.

It started out as a store-bought Enderman head and became this sad costume with flaps of fabric for wings (details here).

Then she asked for better wings to wear to ComiCon, so we built a set of articulating wings and called it "done" (details here).

Well, it was obviously not "done".

Semi-related (in that it's still Halloween), here's my house this year.

It's not much different than last year, but we have a projector in the front window, projecting creepy Halloween scenes (AtmosFEARfx, if anyone's interested). There are also some witches by the front door, but I need to tweak the lighting on them because no photo of them has turned out well. You know I'll share one if I take one!!

How's your Halloween decorating/costume-making-or-buying coming along? I'd LOVE to hear!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Enderdragon Pinata

The Big Kid turned ten last week.

Yes, ten. I now have a double-digit child.

If you've been around a while, I'm sure you've figured out that the kid's obsessed with Minecraft.

As chronicled here (DIY Foam Minecraft Weapons)

And here (DIY Enderdragon Costume)

And finally, here (DIY articulating wings for the Enderdragon costume).

Well, now we get to add to this obsession..

It's safe to say there's an Enderdragon trend.

The Big Kid asked me on Friday night if we could make a piñata for a small get-together we were planning for Monday. Having never made a piñata based on... well... anything, I wasn't sure how this was going to go, but we had a busy weekend planned, so it had to go smoothly.

We gathered all the cardboard we could find, and constructed this.

Basically, we winged it. I disassembled most of these boxes and cut/taped them back together to create proportionate body parts. Important, I cut 3 sides of a rectangle in the body so I would have a place to put candy.

Saturday morning consisted of us quickly giving the dragon a base coat of black spray paint and cutting the tissue paper into strips to apply when we got home.

I began applying the strips at the bottom of the body, and worked my way around. The next strip slightly overlapped the row below it, like roofing shingles!

This was the longest part of the whole project.

Project tip: Don't use a fan when applying these strips to the piñata body. Just... trust me.

After it was all covered, the Big Kid and I made 15 rectangular cubes from a cereal box (they measured 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/2") for the "spikes" and nostrils, and I cut out some eyes from white and purple construction paper.

Before attaching everything that we'd made, it seemed like this was a good time to attempt wings.

Now, I cut strips of cardboard for the lines in the wings and painted them grey. Then for the black, I layered three sheets of tissue paper (with spray adhesive) and cut it to fit between the lines and used spray adhesive to attach.

Do I have a picture of this?

Somewhere. I just can't find any right now.

Then to attach, I put a piece of cardboard across the back of the enderdragon (painted black to later cover with tissue paper so it all blended in).

Then attached the wings to that! At first I tried to just use hot glue, but that didn't hold. Eventually I found some small bolts/nuts and put one on each wing into the "support". While I was at it, I bolted the support to the body... Needless to say, the wings didn't come off while it was being hit.

Then we attached the spikes, nostrils and eyes (hot glue), and he was almost finished! We ended up doing legs super last minute, but we just cut out cardboard, painted it black, and hot glued them on.

Going into this, I had no idea what the final scale was doing to be. He measured in at 4' 9" long. 

It really looked like a dragon!

The Big Kid had a brilliant idea to use the Minecraft Steve head as a sort of "blindfold", so we just turned it to it's side while they hit  it with Mr. Goats' shinai (for the record, a shinai plus cardboard piñata is a bad combination. The cardboard's too tough and the shinai is made to have "give" so that it doesn't hurt you... It just... didn't work!). 

If I were to do this over, I would've scaled it down significantly, but also figured out a way to paper mache or use less sturdy cardboard.  We ended up beating the thing to death.

But in the end, she and her friends LOVED it, and I got one "Cool Mom" point.

Have you made any piñatas recently?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How My Faucet Affects My Day

Hey everyone!

I'm sure by now we all know that in the months leading up to October, LadyGoats is obsessing over Halloween. You'll get your post on that! However, today, I want to share with you why my coffee tastes better.

Before we begin, though, I have to legally tell you that I was provided with a free faucet in exchange for my feedback. No, they're not bribing me. If I hated it, I'd tell you. All of the opinions given are my own, nobody told me what to say.

So here's what I have to say..


If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen that I recently installed a new faucet and that I was going to live with it for a while before letting you know what I think.

And I think I love it.

This is the Pfister Clarify with Xtract. Pfister and GE partnered to create a faucet with a built-in filter, so you're getting filtered water straight from your faucet. Yeah, yeah... that's pretty cool, but you can get the same thing by adding another line, drilling another hole in your sink and adding an under-cabinet filtration system. Except you don't have to.

This is a big deal for ME because, while we have filtered water in the fridge, it takes forrrr evvvv errrr to fill up a cup. It was getting to a point where Mr. Goats suggested that we get a 5-gal water dispenser. I'm sorry, but no.

Needless to say, when Pfister asked if I would like to review this project, I may have screamed "OMG YESSS I NEED THIS IN MY LIIIIIIFE!!!" at the computer. Twice.

Since we'd recently installed a faucet, Mr. Goats and I were pretty comfortable with the procedure. The extra steps are to install the filtration system, which is covered in the manual and very easy to follow.

In fact, the only thing I had a problem with was the built-in baseplate seal. The baseplate comes with what's called the Pforever seal, but it wasn't able to cover all three of the holes on my sink.

It seems like a truly great idea, but it was just too narrow at the ends, and there was no way we could maneuver it to completely cover all of the holes.

But it was a simple fix.

I ran and got some coffee... and some silicone... and ran a bead around the baseplate making it water tight.

You guys, the mess.... it's real life.

Anyhow, the faucet is installed, and we now use filtered water to make coffee (Seriously you guys, it's AMAZING!!), tea, and in cooking. I thought it would be nice to have this just to stop Mr. Goats from buying a water dispenser, but... It seriously makes my coffee taste better!!

To compare, I think it tastes better than the fridge filter, but not life-shatteringly better. The girls don't even notice a difference.

Long story short, I love it.

How's your water filtration system? Do you argue over the beauty-over-function of a water dispenser, or have you surrendered?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Updated DIY Ender Dragon Costume - Articulating wings

You guys, this Ender Dragon costume has been a huge hit on my blog for a while, but it's been even bigger in this house. The Big Kid is still obsessed, but she asked me if I could make better wings.

I think she just wanted wings that sat on her back and didn't restrict her arm movement, but we can't go for just... better...

We do AWESOME over here!!

She'd asked for these wings about 10 days before Phoenix ComiCon, so we didn't have a whole lotta time to research/prepare/make them, and I definitely made some mistakes that I'll share so you *don't* make them (I mean, if you happen to be making a pair of Ender Dragon Articulating wings...), but all-in-all, it's safe to say that these wings exceeded her expectations.

The "skeleton" of the wings is made from a 2x4 that I ripped into 1/4" strips, but you can use 1/4" plywood, balsa wood, or laminate flooring (this isn't as random as it seems yet... look below).

Whatever you use, you'll need strips that are 1 1/2" x 1/4". The wings are attached to some scrap laminate flooring from Baby Goats' closet makeover which is hinged together to allow her to "flap" her wings (or, really, have the ability to move on more than one plane).

You'll need

  • 2 - 8' strips of 1/4" ply ripped at 1 1/2"
  • 2 - 1/4" ply at 4"x8" (approx)
  • 2 hinges
  • 26* - 3/4" bolts with coordinating washers/nuts (I bought this 100-ct pack)
  • something to use as straps (I used backpack straps), 
  • about 2 yards of structured black fabric (you don't want "flowy" for fraying fabric - trust me)
  • silver ribbon
  • string (I used 2 black shoe laces)
*I used 2 to the the shoe lace arm bands, so you might add 2 if you want to do this.

Note: I'm not sure how much ribbon since I messed up many times and had to go buy more a couple of times. I would buy 6 yards of 2" thick ribbon and probably 10 yards of 1" (give or take... if you can only find 3/4" ribbon, use that). But... I would probably have to go back and buy more, knowing me.

Cut List:

  • 4 @ 14 3/4"
  • 2 @ 12"
  • 2 @ 24"
  • 2 @ 19 3/4"

Here's my sketch of the measurements (Mr. Goats did most of the skeleton twiddling until we got to this point).  Refer to the image above for layout (you want to pre-drill the holes for the string - those go on the bottom 14 3/4" board, close to where it meets the 19 3/4" board).

Any time you see boards that are parallel, the holes for the bolts are drilled 4" apart. Mr. Goats got the general idea for how to do this here, but we dumbed it down so that we mere mortals could figure it out with time to "upholster" it? Is it upholstering..? I'm getting distracted....

To get it on her back, I cut the straps off of an old backpack and punched a tiny hole through the top and bottom, then bolted it to the flooring. To make sure the fabric didn't tear, I added super glue where the bolt went through the fabric and used washers on both sides of the fabric so that the weight was somewhat distributed.

To deal with the fabric, I really, truly did not have this easy. This is still not perfect, but here's the final outcome of my wing.

Here's how I got there. First, I cut the two yards of fabric into two one yard pieces (I believe my fabric was 54"W). Then I folded the yard in half, hot dog style, and came up with the general shape.

The pattern was eyeballed, but I decided that I wanted the "scallops" to go all the way to the bottom of the fabric (uhh, the bigger, the better... RIGHT?!).

With the fabric still folded in half, I cut out the shape of the wings and tucked my fully extended wing frame inside. Here are the following steps (it seemed easier to put it on one image than to try to show you the confusing, individual images). Remember, the front and back of the wings are to be decorated (the ribbon is really all that applies to this).

When that was done, I HOT GLUED the 2" ribbon the the top of the wing, where the top board goes. When I tried to attach it to the entire top of the wing, it drooped and looked t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. when the wings weren't fully extended, so I decided to veer from the actual ender dragon wing there. Also, the top of the wing frame was poking through my fabric, so I made a "relief" cut, giving room for the board to push out without ripping the fabric. I think if you have a sturdier fabric, you might not need that. I used hot glue to attach the wing to the frame. It was only needed at one point as it's mostly held in place by the top board sitting in the sleeve, but after you get yours on, you'll be able to figure out the best place to glue it if you need to.


See the string poking out? Thread that into the predrilled hole and tie it, then cut a slit from the bottom of the wing (so the fabric doesn't bunch when the arms are raised) and tie a loop for your arms to go through.

Some words of advice:

As much as you think wire will make this look awesome/stiff when extended, IT'S A BAD IDEA!! The wire bends and doesn't un-bend easily, leaving a warped wing.

You can hot glue the ribbons down the bottom of the wing, but it doesn't look good. Take the time to sew them... you'll be glad you did!

You may have to tuck in the fabric and tack it in place using either hot glue or a needle and thread to get it to sit the way you want. The extra 10(ish) minutes of fiddling with it will make a huge difference.

This isn't really heavy, but the Big Kid did have to take a couple of breaks from it at ComiCon.


Take a lint roller with you.

Update: Here's a picture of her with her wings down. This was the only one I'd gotten because... well, why would she want to take a picture with these awesome wings down..!? ;-)

They got compact enough for her to walk through crows, and fortunately she was able to grab them and wrap them around her if she needed to squeeze through tight spaces (doorways).

UPDATE! We've lit up the eyes!

DIY Minecraft Weapons

Enderdragon Costume

Enderdragon pinata

Monday, August 3, 2015

DIY Modern Take on a Traditional Planter

Hello, and welcome to my humble abode!

Okay, I am never going to have a magazine-worthy entryway. I accept that! But as I was editing Back to School pictures of the girls (I always take a picture of them in front of the door), I was noticing how terribly terrible the screen door was looking.

The metal was starting to rust, the color was dirty-looking, and... really, it was dirty! So I took the screen off and spray painted it a nice crisp white.

What. A. Difference!

After that was freshly painted, everything else started looking dingy and old and gross (we all know how that goes, right?!), so I decided that I'd build a quick planter to brighten up the doorway, and I plan on making/buying a new, bright doormat (anyone have any leads on a big, amazing doormat that's not $100?).

I love that this looks like a traditional, tapered planter from the front, but it has this modern-esque vibe in that it's not a 4-way taper. The front and back are angled, but the sides are all the same 6". It's visually weighty without taking up too much space in my nonexistent entryway.  And the best part? I built it from scraps from the BBQ Island - so it was FREE!

Even the paint - if the color looks familiar, it's because it's the same paint I used on these

If you want to build one, you'll need 3 6" cedar fence pickets (the dog-eared ones) and a 1x2. This should be under $10 bucks.

Cut List:

2 - 1x6 Cedar @ 15 1/2 long side with a 10-degree miter on both ends, not parallel
2 - 1x6 Cedar @ 13 1/2 long side with a 10-degree miter on both ends, not parallel
2 - 1x6 Cedar @ 11 1/2 long side with a 10-degree miter on both ends, not parallel
2 - 1x6 Cedar @ 9 1/2 long side with a 10-degree miter on both ends, not parallel
8 - 1x6 Cedar @ 6" (or depth of your choice, but that may change shopping list)
4 - 1x2 @ 20"

If that seems complicated, here's really all you're doing.

Super simple. After you've made all of your cuts, measure the thickness of your cedar fence pickets (I eyeballed it, and it didn't work out perfectly, so I recommend measuring) and, laying your wood out, screw the 1x2s into the front and back as shown below. My fence pickets were 5/8 (but I measured a 1/2" in, which is why there's a gap on mine).

The 1x2s are what are holding everything in place, so use an exterior-grade glue and screws (I used 1") so this doesn't fall apart on you in no time.

I don't have a picture of this step (because I'm not great with SketchUp - this was hard to draw up for me!), but you'll just screw the 6" pieces from the outside into the 1x2s. I started at the bottom and worked to the top so that, if the boards were a different width, the planter would still sit level on the ground.

To stop the soil from falling though the bottom, I set a scrap piece of cedar inside (it was about 6 1/2" long) and it sits snugly in place.

After adding some landscaping fabric and filling it with soil/clearance succulents, it brings a brightness to my front door that hasn't been there in over 5 years.

(If you're wondering why the inside is white, I know that cedar is rot-resistant, but the pine 1x2s aren't, so I sealed them with a couple layers of FlexSeal hoping that might slow the deterioration process by creating a barrier from where most of the moisture would come from - inside.)

I think I love it. And am hoping that I don't manage to kill the plants!! How are you with plants/planters?

Friday, July 17, 2015

New DIY Plans - The Shelby Bench

Happy Weekend everyone! I've been sitting on the plans that I drew up for the Shelby bench (from my Bench Building Workshop) for a few months. Got an email asking if I wouldn't mind sharing them, so let's get to that!!

We're covering the bench on the right, today.

This bench was requested by my lovely, talented friend, Shelby! It was the quickest and easiest (those two don't always go hand-in-hand) bench of the bunch, and it was cheap!

Totally a bonus.

Here's what we based the bench plan on.

And this is what Shelby made!

(We obviously hadn't included the rods/hardware at this point)

And here are the plans so that you can make your own!

48" W x 13 1/2"D x 17 1/2"H

Shopping List

  • 2 - 2 x 6 x 8'
  • 1- 2 x 4 x 8'
  • 1 - 2 x 2 x 4' (optional)*
  • 2 1/2" pocket hole screws
  • 1 1/2" screws
  • wood glue

Cut List

  • 2 - 2x6 @ 17 1/2" (legs)
  • 2 - 2x4 @ 17 1/2" (legs)
  • 2 - 2x6 @ 16" (legs)
  • 1 - 2x6 @ 45" (top)
  • 1 - 2x6 @ 48" (top)
  • 1 - 2x4 @ 45" (top)
  • 2 - 2x2 @ 13 1/2"* cut to fit

* I ripped a 2x2 at 45-degrees to get two inconspicuous corner brackets for this, but we didn't end up using them because the bench was solid enough without it. They're included in the plan, but you may be able to get away without them if you don't have a table saw to rip it, or don't want to use the 2x2 at all.

Step 1

Using pocket hole screws, built two sides as shown above (note, the smaller measurement should read 16", not 15"). They will need to mirror each other. Pre-drill pocket holes in the center board facing upward to attach the top, later.

Step 2 

Using pocket hole screws, build the top as shown above. Be sure to add pocket holes to the ends of the shorter edge pieces to attach the legs to, later.

Step 3

Attach the legs to the top using the pocket holes that were previously drilled.

Step 4

Cut bracing to fit and attach using glue and 1 1/2" screws into the sides and top of the bench.

I've uploaded plans to my 3D warehouse page for you to download. Enjoy!