The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 4 – Day 1 of DragonCon 2014)

So Friday, the 29th of August (bloody hell that seems like a long time ago now) was the first official day of DragonCon 2014. I was all a-twitterpated and excited to get started on my first real con experience. However there was one minor problem…

I was fighting a losing battle against the dreaded Travel Lurgy. The cold which had remained hidden until the moment I sat my arse down in that first plane out of Melbourne, reared it’s ugly, snotty head in a proper manner. I had gone from a tickly throat and a bit of a cough to starting to feel claggy and unwell. Really unwell.

John was doing his best for me, as per usual – loading me up with medication we thought would help but what we thought might have just been a coughy thing turned out to be an actual cold thing. It wasn’t bad at that stage, I could deal with it. If it didn’t get any worse, I would be just fine with that.

When it came to costumes for the day, it was decided that Friday would be Firefly Day. Unfortunately, in my forgetful and somewhat panicky blondeness, I had left my costume neatly folded on top of my dresser – IN MELBOURNE. Not much help to me there, was it? I’d gotten dressed in civvies at that point, quite prepared to be the tagalong friend who carries everyone’s stuff (aka The Handler) and just enjoy the sights. Well, my mate Tracy wasn’t having any of that and in her preparedness, offered me a choice of Indian saris to wear so I could play Inara. Watching everyone else get dressed up made me maybe a tiny bit jealous (and foolish) over having no costume so I let Tracy wrap me up in a gorgeous black and gold number.

I’d like to note at this point that neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. Thanks to the Font of All Wisdom on Random Shit, aka Google, we managed to figure out how to put on a sari. So we wrapped and folded and wrapped and folded and pinned, pinned, pinned, and wrapped and folded some more until I looked like… well, me. In a sari. I was the blondest Inara you could imagine. I was also buggered if I needed to go to the toilet at any stage. There were pins everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. They connected the sari to my pants, my tank top, to itself. It was almost scary sitting down for fear of popping one and ending up with a pin ending up somewhere it ought not be.

So, I was Inara (chubby blonde version), then we had John who was Wash and Tracy and Grant who were Kayley and Jayne respectively. Naturally Kayley and Jayne have the biggest following in that show so Tracy and Grant got a load of attention. A couple people asked to take their pictures and then belatedly realised John and I were part of the group and called us in for a group shot when they recognised who we were playing.

Renlish.com - Firefly Friday

John, me, Tracy and Grant.

Yeah, we don’t fit the mold – but it’s still loads of fun.

And thus began my first foray into cosplay and conventions.

The first panel of the day was this guy:

Renlish.com - Patrick Stewart

His thinking face, maybe? I dunno.

That’s THE Sir Patrick Stewart there, folks. Sorry for the fuzziness. My camera couldn’t quite handle the lighting situation but… I was in the same room as one of my favourite classic actors. I was a little bit in awe. (Actually, a lot in awe. And it wouldn’t be the first time that’d happen too.) He is such a great speaker. So engaging and witty and absolutely adorable. Of course he was peppered with the usual questions about X-Men and Star Trek and it was great listening to him tell his stories. The hour-long panel went by so quickly.

Speaking of panels – there is one common thing that links them all.

THE QUEUING.

God in Heaven. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Lines for panels went around the block and double-backed on themselves to head back around the other way. Queues snaked up the middle of buildings for several floors. People were milling everywhere.

Lining up to get into Sir Pat’s (we’re totally on casual name basis now) panel was an exercise in patience and sheer force of will. We had lucked out when we arrived and joined the line when it was just a few hundred strong. From where we stood, we watched what seemed like thousands walk past us to find the end of the line and it was like that for a good hour. I won’t mention the incident where one of the volunteers tried to get the small group of us in our area to move off because we weren’t standing in the right spot – even though we’d been told to stay there. Pigs would fly if we were going to join the end of the line at that point, not with the several hundreds/thousands who had tacked themselves on in all the time we’d been waiting. Needless to say, we scared the poor lass who, to be honest, was only doing what she was told as well. But she came through and made arrangements for us to stay where we were.

Oy. So, lesson learned. Turn up at least 90 minutes early to have a better chance of securing a place in the queue.

With that panel done, our next appointment was in another hotel to see a Firefly panel. This was pretty much the whole reason we dressed up.

We saw this guy:

Renlish.com - Adam Baldwin

A terrible picture of Adam Baldwin and panel moderator.

Adam Baldwin of Jayne Cobb, Firefly fame.

He’s a funny bugger too. He really took over that panel. Sadly Ron Glass (who was Shepherd Book in the show) was a late-comer to the panel, having been “caught in traffic” (I can imagine) and much quieter than Adam, though he had his moments as well. Grant was totally geeking out at this point. Adam is his hero from that particular show.

There was an amusing moment before the panel started where an Indian couple actually asked if I was in costume or not. Tracy confirmed that I was and they were impressed at the good job we’d done. We laughed and said there were pins everywhere and there would have been no chance of me putting it on by myself, to which they replied that Idian women grow up dressing in saris and still need the help of many hands and many pins to make it work. We felt rather proud of ourselves after that.

The last event of the day before we were totally wrecked and needed to eat was the Doctor Horrible Sing-a-long. John is a massive fan of Dr Horrible. I’d only ever seen a couple of episodes as they were being posted up online years ago. It was fun seeing the whole thing together in that environment.

Facebook B&W Challenge

It’s been quiet around here.

Truth be told, I’ve been dealing with issues which I won’t bore you with but it involves my hair… Yes, still falling out. Yes, thin patches are becoming bald patches. No, there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for it. And I’ve been priced for a human hair topper at $900 which is money I simply don’t have anymore.

Long gone are the days where I could make a $1000 purchase and still have $1000 to last me for a fortnight.

I am looking into a good quality synthetic topper (which comes at just under a third of the price of a real human hair wig) – there are many that look quite real. Until then, hats and bandannas are going to become my best friends.

Anyway… I was tagged to do the current challenge that’s trending on Facebook at the moment. A 5-day black and white endeavour.

I figured I could commit to five days. The original rules were to take and post a new photo every day for five days, but since I really couldn’t be bothered doing that, I decided to publish some never-before-seen images from my collection over the years.

And now I share them with you.

Renlish.com - Facebook B&W Challenge

Serenity. Yi Yuan Gardens, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Renlish.com - Facebook B&W Challenge

Embrace. Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, Marysville, Victoria, Australia

Renlish.com - Facebook B&W Challenge

Solitude. Healesville, Victoria, Australia

Renlish.com - Facebook B&W Challenge

Sleeping Beauty. Boudoir shoot, 2013

Renlish.com - Facebook B&W Challenge

Challenge. Torndirrup National Park, Western Australia

I encourage everyone to do this, whether it’s take a new photo every day and post it to your blog or your Facebook wall. It’s a little bit of fun and it can be a nice walk down Memory Lane.

Polymer Clay Adventures – Feathers and Dragons and Tentacle-y-things…

I’ve decided to dive back into the madness that is polymer clay. It’s been fun having a fiddle and a play with the squishy stuff again. I used to enjoy sculpting though it’s been almost two decades since I picked up any sort of clay. As a teenager I used to make cake toppers for my mother’s Christmas cakes and it was something that I always enjoyed in school, but 20 years means that there’s been a huge lapse in the skill set and polymer clay isn’t exactly like working with sugar past or mud clay. Polymer clay has a bit of a rebounding rubbery type texture when sculpting it which takes a little getting use to. Not to mention my fingers are all thumbs and shakiness which makes fine detail somewhat tricky.

I was inspired again by a challenge in the Australian Beading Forum group on Facebook, posted by my friend, the insanely talented Neva of Nifty Creations. What was it? Dungeons and Dragons, of course. Even though I’ve never really played the game except to steal a few ideas for some fantasy fiction I occasionally write, I was all over this.

The chance to make some fantasy themed jewellery? HELL YES! I had been wanting to do something like this for ages and it was just the push that I needed to get started.

The challenge came in the form of the requirement of using two different mediums with which to create a piece that went with the theme. Oh well, nothing like a challenge to inspire new learning! Since I am neither a wire-worker or a clayer, so naturally I decided that those two mediums would be the most fun to use!

And by “fun” I actually mean frustrating swear-word-inducing and almost-marriage-ending tantrums as a result of using…

Anyway…

I knew I needed some practice before I started, and of course I had to buy ALL THE THINGS that go with claying, so I marched on down to Spotlight and bought a week’s wages worth of stuff to add to the collection of bits and pieces that another friend had kindly donated for me to use.

And then I jumped in and started making stuff.

This was the first project I’d done a couple months ago:

Renlish.com - Clay Play - Feathers

Feathery, pearly goodness!

These feathers are based off a tutorial by Mandarin Ducky which you can find here on Youtube and they were lots of fun to make. Unfortunately that same day the manbeast was helping me open a packet of blades (for cutting clay) and ended up gashing the tops of his fingers quite badly. On his painting hand. He still hasn’t forgiven me.

After that successful first step, I wanted to try something a little more sculptural and opportunity came knocking when another friend posted a picture of a polymer clay and dicro cabochon pendant that she’d fallen in love with on Facebook. So I made her one…

Renlish.com - Polymer Clay - Tentacle-y Thing!

A rip-off of someone else’s idea.

I make absolutely no allusions to the fact that I am the original creator of this style of pendant. This is an exact copy (mostly) of the picture I saw on Facebook. I just happened to have the right sort of cabochon and the clay on hand to make it.

So all of that leads us to this, the Dragon Shade.

“The Dragon Shade is a powerful amulet said to be carved from the scale of a slain black shadow dragon. Its jewel holds the spirit of the beast which can be unleashed upon unwary heroes with an arcane spell.

(Which means if you come across anyone wearing this amulet, run. Run far, far away. Run very quickly.)”

Renlish.com - Polymer Clay - Dragon Shade Amulet

As evil as it is pretty.

Technical: Blood, sweat, tears, and many swear words. Also polymer clay sculpting and Viking weave as well as a bit of beaded chain and some coiled and oxidized copper end caps.

All by hand.

I need a freakin’ drink.

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 3 – A Large Coke)

Thursday was the first official day in Atlanta and first task of the day was to grab our passes for the convention.  This was a relatively painless process of lining up, presenting our blue passes and exchanging them for the bit of plastic that would provide safe passage through all the hotels during the con.  Without those passes on (at all times), you were seriously rooted if you wanted to get anywhere.

Then we headed out to the Georgia Aquarium for a bit of a sight-see, however, upon getting there we discovered that the cost of a couple tickets (PLUS TAX!) was insanely expensive.  $40+ per ticket was just a little much for everyone involved and we were reluctant to spend that much.  Fortunately we were planning on going to the party being held at the aquarium on Saturday evening.  Not only would we be there in the evening but the aquarium would be open to the party goers for the bargain price of $30 even.  With that in mind, we turned towards the Coke Museum.

For my readers who are not familiar with Coca-Cola history, Coke was born in Atlanta and as a result, there’s a big-assed museum with all sorts of Coke-themed paraphernalia housed within.

Rather than bore you with talking about it, here’s a collection of my favourite pictures from the day.  It was actually more interesting than I thought it was going to be.  There was some very, very cool retro stuff to be found…

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Wise words.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

A collection of Coca-Cola signage spanning decades.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Toothy purple frogman in a hat that looks like a boob… I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

The original Cola!

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Pretty colours!

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Vintage Cola!

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Fast cars and even faster women. Maybe.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

I don’t know, I just thought the sign was funny.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Possibly the fabled Machine That Goes PING!? No? Oh well.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Contemporary Cola.

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

I fell in love with these bottles, the one made from computer boards in particular. They were huge!

Renlish.com - Coke Museum

Ah, the room where you could taste all the flavours of all the Coca-Cola softdrinks of the world… Whatever you do, do NOT drink the Beverley. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

So yes. Coca-Cola Land was certainly an adventure. Funniest moment of the day was awarded to my friend Grant who declared (as he fairly buzzed from a massive sugar overload), “I’ve only tried 87 of the 60 flavours!”

The Weekly Bindi – Week 13 – Of Bindis and Bald Spots

I know that I have fallen behind with my Weekly Bindi.  Pictures have been taken, I just haven’t been able to get on to post them.

See, I am going bald.

Slowly.

Painfully slowly.

But steadily.

It’s a slow-burn sort of agony in the same way that orgasms are a slow-burn sort of agony, only NOWHERE near as much fun.

But it’s that sort of loss where I can see it and very few other people can.  Those who see me every day can see it.

And a few days ago I actually discovered a bald patch that’s appeared.  It’s not completely bald as such, but only the ultra-fine baby hairs that never grow are there. Cue breakdown.

Yep. Very little hair there.

Yep. Very little hair there. But don’t my cheekbones look awesome?

I am not a vain person. I try not to be. But in my life, my one redeeming feature was my hair. Long, naturally honey-blonde, and dense. It’s always been fine but very dense. Not anymore, sadly.

For the past ten or so years, I’ve had a handful bouts of what is called Telogen Effluvium. It’s the natural process of hair-loss but it’s dialed up to eleven. Sadly, each time this has happened, my hair has never fully recovered even though, technically, it’s supposed to grow back as it normally would as hair follicles move out of the resting phase. What has prompted these bouts of effluvium has always been a mystery to me. I know the first time was a reaction to some medication and massive stress. These subsequent times… I am clueless.

And I’m stressing over it.

And of course, the vicious cycle continues apace.

Needless to say, it’s been a distraction.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Bindi and I, cuddling on the couch while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

"I know you're taking pictures again, Mum."

“I know you’re taking pictures again, Mum.”

The Weekly Bindi (and friend) – Week 11

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

The only way you can see Dugite’s stripes is if you put false ones on her. She is actually a stripy tabby.

“…She can only disguise, and only for those eager to believe whatever comes easiest. She cannot turn cream into butter, but she can make a lion look like a manticore to eyes that want to see a manticore. Just like she put a false horn on a real unicorn so they can see the unicorn. I know you. If I were blind, I would know what you are…” Schmendrick, The Last Unicorn, Peter S Beagle

“All the pretty things!”

This weekend just past, I had the delightful chance to experience a new market event as somewhat of a guest of honour.

Err. Well, no, not really. Hehe. More of a serial pest than a guest of honour.

But Nuffnang and Piccadilly Market had come together to allow 10 bloggers (including yours truly) to check out what is a new-to-the-area artisan market now being held in Williamstown. Being a local yokel, I said yes to the invitation (twice, I was so chuffed) and scampered across to Williamstown to see what it was all about. And I was so glad I braved the bright but chilly weather. The morning included a lovely, yummy breakfast and then a fun scavenger hunt which took us all around the market to look at all the pretty things!

Check out the video to get an idea of what it’s like:

A lovely lady by the name of Janina Lear has been running the market out of Deakin Uni in Geelong for the past four years and this was the first time the market had been held in Melbourne – and I’d have to say it was a crazy success from what I could tell.

There was around 60 stall-holders for this market, all beautifully arranged in the ballroom and function room of the Williamstown Town Hall. There is a clear focus on quality and original hand-made artisan clothes, jewellery, toys, decor and homeware, food and more. If trash ‘n treasure markets aren’t really your cup of tea, this little gem might be just the ticket.

As I said in the beginning, we were supposed to be doing a scavenger hunt, but to be honest, I got so completely distracted with all the pretty things that I forgot to go in search of what was on the list (even though I stumbled across a few by accident).  And sadly, my reluctance to enter the modern age and get a smartphone so I can play with Instagram truly bit me in the bum this day – there were prizes up for grabs for the best Instagram picture of the morning and I couldn’t complete! WAH!

To top the morning off, the folks at the market had very kindly  contributed to the biggest goodie bags I think I have ever seen for us all. Everything from fudge by The Fudgeman, pompom garlands from Dear Mabel, gorgeous steampunk necklaces from Run Wild Horses, bags from Saquito, lip balms from Bellalu, earrings from Gabby,  soy candles from Love & Light and so much more.

You can find all of the stall holders links, including many more not mentioned right here.

Thank you, Janina and Nuffnang for arranging our gathering.  Even though I am a small-fry, non-professional blogger, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to get down to Geelong to see the Piccadilly there too.

Piccadilly Market is on again in Geelong on August 3rd and in Williamstown on November 9th!

Here’s a MASSIVE photobomb of some of my favourite bits from the market.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Piccadilly is held in the gorgeous ballroom of the Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown Town Hall is a beautiful building and I confess in the 17 years that I have lived in the area, I’ve never gone inside!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Breakfast! (Omnomnom!) And our little scavenger hunt sheets.

Quiche, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate. That’s my kinda breakfast!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

The beautiful scented soy candles from Love & Light.

Things that make you go “Mmmmm…”

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Seagals gorgeous little stand was filled with crafty, colourful odds and ends such as Scrabble tile bookmarks and hand-made gift tags.

Too much colourful fun. Loved the Seagals stand.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Fell head over heels for these TEEEEEEEEENY-tiny little street lamps from My Fairy World. Perfect for a wee fairy garden.

Actually, I fell in love with EVERYTHING at My Fairy World.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

My favourite print from Copenhagen Delights – this was a gorgeous little smock dress/top for a little girl.

The clothes from Copenhagen Delights almost made me want to have kids to wear them. I’ll have to borrow my friends’ children, I think.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Can you believe this is dog food? I was like “YES! COOKIES!” and then “Awww, maaaan!”

Fabulous doggy treats from Pooches on Pakington.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of the printed gift tags from Dear Mabel.

Dear Mabel had a gorgeous array of handmade decorations.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Apple Pie soap, anyone? (Oh, HELLS yes.)

Yummy soaps from Tubtime Treats.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Little Puddles had the most adorable stand that was filled with a plethora of goodies in cotton-candy colours

Little Puddles was definitely one of my favourite stalls – so colourful and sweet!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Possibly some of the best smelling lip balms I’ve ever tried.

Everyone needs Bellalu lip balm in their lives.  We scored a jar of the watermelon one in our goodie bags and… well, I died.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

A handful of my favourites from Gabby – Handmade Resin Jewellery.

Beautiful pendants from gabby.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Another sweet stand filled with quirky shelf toys, prints and jewellery.

Bird & Blossom

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I wasn’t the only blogger drooling over these bags from Sophie Taylor. Fell in love with that pale mint one!

Sophie Taylor

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Gorgeous knitted clothes and hand-made jewellery from Lauren & Angie.

Lauren & Angie

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Got one of these beautiful vinyl bags from Saquito in our gift bags – SCORE!

Saquito

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I need that sausage dog cushion in my life. Lilly Pilly Designs

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of my favourite designs from Miss Moi Jewellery.

Miss Moi

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I FOUND STEAMPUNK!

I get super-excited when I see anything assemblage like the jewellery from Run Wild Horses.

The Weekly (back to)Bindi – Week 9

Another sort-of selfie with the Bindipuss this evening.

She was just being so cuddly that I didn’t want to move to go get my camera, so I turned the laptop around and this happened:

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Mmmm… a little to the right…”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“OMG I LUV DIS LAP!”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Waaaaaait a minnit! You’re taking pictures again, aren’t you?”

Oh yes… Yes, I am, Bindi. And we’re only up to week 9.