Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine Costume

My department at work decided to dress as Star Trek characters for Halloween this year - any character, any series. The first character that came to my mind was Jadzia Dax (pictured below on the right).

The character on the left in the above photo is Kira Nerys. I was a kid when Deep Space Nine was airing, and my sister's favorite character Dax, so when we played Star Trek (yes, we were that cool), I was always Kira, and she was Dax. I considered being Kira for Halloween, but the nose ridges were difficult to pull off compared to Dax's head and neck spots.

That being said, here's how I made my Dax costume. 

Step 1: Badge. See my tutorial on DIY Star Trek communicator badges.

Step 2: Clothing. 

I don't have time, nor am I a serious cosplayer, so my costume is very basic. Dax wears all black with a turquoise panel around her shoulders. I layered a black high-neck t-shirt (inside out, because it has a design on it) with a turquoise v-neck. If I folded the shirt up, it looked pretty close.

I decided to cut the shirt in half. The only problem is I painted flowers on it (remember when I did that?). I had already decided to get rid of this shirt, so cutting it up wasn't a problem. 

I cut it, hemmed it, and ironed on a circle of fabric over the flower. I wish it didn't have the "patch," but I don't have time or motivation to go find another turquoise shirt, so it will have to do. 

Step 3: Neck spots.  

Dax's main alien feature is her pathway of spots that goes from the middle of her forehead down her entire body, I guess. I studied a few photos before going to work on myself.

I was glad I had a high-neck shirt. I basically just gave myself irregular spots and circles with eyeliner from forehead to neck. 

I used my little medicine cabinet mirror to get the peripheral parts of my neck and under my ear. I literally studied a photo of her and did my best to copy the markings.  

Voila! Dax. 

Happy Halloween!

Bonus: Here's our group!

DIY Star Trek Commbadges

This Halloween my department at work is dressing up as Star Trek characters. Being the crafty person that I am, I was tasked with making our commbadges (or combadges - I've seen both spellings). Here's my DIY tutorial. Bonus, I used my old business cards and sharpies, so it was a SUPER cheap craft. 

Materials needed:
Gold, Silver and Black sharpies
Safety Pins
Old business cards (4-5 cards for an original series badge; 8-9 cards for a The Next Generation badge)
Glue stick 
Not Pictured - hot glue gun

Step 1: Glue four business cards together with the glue stick. 

Step 2: Create a pattern. I sketched this several times before I was happy with the shape. On this online tutorial, the crafter traced the pattern from a picture on her computer. In my research, I found that the badges are supposed to be 2''x2''. Basically, it should look something like what's pictured below with the skinny "leg" on the right. 

Step 3: Trace and cut out your badge. 

Step 4: Color the edges of the badge with a black sharpie or marker. 

Step 5: Color the back and front of the badge with a silver sharpie or marker. 


Step 6a: If you are creating a badge for an Original Series character, then research what symbol they have on their badge. There are different symbols for the different roles (engineering, science, commander). I found good images of the symbols on this etsy page.

(You can always order a patch from Lynellen (above etsy link), if you want to skip the DIY part. They look really cool and are well-priced.)

Draw the symbol on an extra business card and cut it out. Color the edges black and

Step 6a (continued): Glue the symbol onto the middle of the front of your badge. Here are the badges I made from the original series: 

Step 6b: If you are making badges for characters from Voyager, Deep Space 9, or The Next Generation, then repeat the steps 1-2, but create a background panel (rectangle for Voyager and DS9 or oval for TNG), and color it gold. Voyager/DS9 also has a rectangular hole in the middle, but I glued a black sliver of business card to it, because I didn't want to exacto knife a hold in the middle. Use a hot-glue gun to glue the silver and gold pieces together.

Step 7: Using your hot glue gun (glue stick doesn't work as well over the gold and silver sharpie), add a little dot of glue on the back of your badge. 

Press the safety pin into the glue and overlay a small square of business card. Press firmly. 

I added the character's name and the year for fun, since it's a group costume. I don't expect anyone to keep their badges forever, but if they are sentimental (like me), it's nice to have a reference. 

There you go! All done! I hope this tutorial was helpful, since I found very few on the interwebs. 

Just for reference, if you want other perspectives on such a project, I also found the following tutorial which clued me in that the "legs" of the arrow are different sizes, even though I think she has hers backwards. She also used paint instead of sharpie, which is probably faster if you are mass-producing them. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Craft Fair Saturday November 2

Guess what, guys? I'm going to be a vendor at an arts and craft fair this coming Saturday. 

See photo examples of products I'll be selling on my Dreamy Weamy site.

Find more information about the craft fair at the Arts and Crafts Fair facebook page. 

If you need more reason to come than that, here's a photo of Daisy modeling an owl hat and snuggling a couple Sleepy the Elephants. 

See you Saturday!

Also, you can like my Dreamy Weamy facebook page here!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Terra Cotta Warriors and Other Xi'an Sights

After spending nearly a week in small-town China, we hopped on a train to Xi'an.

If you're like, "What's a Xi'an?" I'll tell you the deb-o-pedia verision. Xi'an (pronounced She-On) was the original capital of China. It's still a huge city with lots of history, but it's probably most notable for being the home of the Terra Cotta Warriors. 


The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (remember I told you in my Great Wall post that I'd come back to him), who united China by conquering all the feudal lords in a violent fashion, was into self-preservation. He built the Great Wall to protect himself in life and the Terra Cotta Army to protect himself in death.

An hour bus ride from the Xi'an bus depot will take you to the sight of one of Qin Shi Huang's mausoleums, which houses thousands of warriors - all of them uniquely fashioned out of terra cotta. There are three pits to visit. The biggest pit (pictured above) is the most breathtaking, because it has the most restored warriors and is still undergoing daily excavation. The other two pits are deeper and have more broken parts of warriors. 

The museums on the grounds display encased samples of the different types of warriors. There are kneeling archers, standing archers, generals, infantry, cavalry, etc. It's pretty amazing. 

Plus, these were all created circa 200BC. Qin Shi Huang had a bunch of peasants create life-sized warriors to protect him in the afterlife. He died suddenly during a routine supervising tour of his work-in-progress tomb (foul play?), and then his tomb was buried by angry peasants. It stayed hidden for hundreds of years until the 1970's when a farmer found it.

And guess what? That's only a decoy tomb. Apparently there are believed to be other tombs, and he is actually buried somewhere else, but it's booby-trapped with mercury, so they can't get in. Just a little ancient genius security at work. You can read the wikipedia page for more information. 

The grounds around the archaeological pits are very pleasant. Lovely mountains, paved walkways, museums, plenty of vendors, and of course, fans of cute, western babies. 

As you can see, Daisy isn't fazed by her paparazzi fans anymore. This was actually a very mild scenario - only one couple, and they asked before taking the photos. 

Other Sights of Xi'an

Other than the warriors, Xi'an has many lovely things to do. The original city wall still stands, and apparently it's fun to explore, but we ran out of time. My parents rode bicycles around the top of it when they visited last year.

There are several monument-type structures in the city, including the drum tower and bell tower (one of them is pictured above, but I can't remember which). They are beautiful at night! I don't know this from experience, because I was too exhausted to go out at night, but I saw photos of the drum tower at night, and it was beautiful. 

A must-do in Xi'an is the Muslim Market. It's the best place to get souvenirs, street food, and just have a great cultural experience. We spent a lot of time there, because Zane liked bargaining. Of course, there's still a risk of walking in a seemingly safe, pedestrian walkway (like pictured above) when a motorbike will come honking its way through. 

One of Angela's friends owns a calligraphy shop in the market. 

Another great sight in Xi'an is the Big Goose Pagoda and fountain. Apparently this was the largest fountain in the world, but then someone went and built a bigger one. There's also a fantastic fountain/music/light show every night, but guess what? We were too tired to stay up late to see it. I just took my sister's word for it.

The walk from the base of the fountain to the pagoda is so pleasant. There are fun statues, vendors. and twinkle lights along the way. 

So, when you visit Xi'an, try not to be jet-lagged, because the city is apparently more beautiful and active at night, but we were too tired to experience it. 

A gem of an empress headband from the market. 

Travel Tips and Take-Aways

1. Stroller is good for the Terra Cotta Warriors, because there's a lot of flat area between stairs, but there are several points when you'd have to carry the stroller up stairs. I think it was worth it for all the flat walking in between stairs. 

2. Be ready to bargain in the market. I don't like bargaining, but Zane loved it and found it a fun challenge to get a great deal. 

3. Plan to see the city at night. 

4. You can find almost any western restaurant in Xi'an, so if you're over Chinese food, then you'll be okay. 

Bonus Video! 

We took a pedicab in afternoon rush hour traffic from our hotel to the fountain. It was crazy and hilarious. When we passed several jam-packed busses, we were glad we took the cart. The bus riders were glad we took the cart too, because it gave them a clear angle for their phone photos. Warning: this video is a little shaky.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures in Small-town China

We spent the bulk of our trip in the town where my sister works. It's a small town in Henan province that most people haven't heard of it, but it still has more than a million people.

I'll try to sum up our small-town adventures into three major areas:

1. Markets

I sewed pillow covers as hostess gifts. In order to save space in my suitcase, my sister suggested getting the insert pillows made in-country. We went to local the marketplace to this little shop where they make linens and had three pillows made. 

measuring the fabric

stuffing the pillow

stuffing the pillow cover with the newly made pillow

The woman even added velcro to my envelope closure, because it wasn't staying properly. When I got home to the states, I bought velcro to use when those cases come up again. Thanks, Chinese seamstress!

I had a potty adventure in this same marketplace the next day. I really, really, really want to share details, because it was one of those "full immersion" experiences, but I won't, because the details are gross. I'll just share this: it involved a trough in lieu of a toilet.

I actually had more than one potty adventure in China. Maybe it's because of the vast difference in potty culture over there compared to here. 

At the grocery store (pictured above), I suddenly needed to use the restroom. My sister asked an employee where the toilets were, and he pointed up. I had to find the exit to the grocery store, which was a crazy maze of Chinese product-filled aisles. Then I had to figure out which floor of the building the restroom was on. The first employee on the second floor pointed up when I tried to say the word for "toilet" and pointed at my tummy. I found the public restroom on the third floor in the back corner of a high-end department store, but when I got into the stall, I realized I forgot my tissue pack. Everyone carries around packs of tissues because toilet paper isn't provided (unless it's a really nice restroom).

Luckily, it wasn't too late. I went back downstairs to get my tissues, but my sister had already left with said tissues to come find me. We crossed paths a couple times before we finally found each other. All the while several Chinese employees watched me walk back and forth and even tried to help me by telling me in Chinese and miming that my sister had already passed by. 

I just had to laugh about how something as seemingly simple as going to the public restroom becomes an adventure when you're in a foreign country, and in my case, with no cell phone. 

2. Walk the Wall

My sister works for International China Concern in a welfare center. You can find more about the organization here, but it basically goes into existing welfare centers and helps organize services like medical services, physical therapy, counseling, adoption, etc. ICC holds an annual event around the world called Walk the Wall to raise awareness and funds for their projects. We just happened to be visiting during this event and got to participate!

The event took place at a beautiful park on the Yellow River. It involved a walk around the park, speeches from the different leaders of the welfare center, and performances from some of the kids. 

Standing in front of a field of sunflowers and the Yellow River

We had a great time participating and getting lots of photos taken of us, but then again, being photo subjects was part of our entire China experience. 

3. Massage

One of the things I was most excited about when planning our China trip was massage. I had heard about 90 minute massages for $10, and I couldn't wait to indulge myself. 

My first experience was the head massage. We were out one morning and kind of spontaneously decided to get our hair washed. Zane really wanted to get his hair cut in China, so we went to my sister's favorite salon. Angela and I got the full treatment, and Zane got a regular wash and cut. 

Angela and my treatment was a luxury hair wash that included a head massage. It also included shoulder, neck, arms, and hands massage. Then we turned onto our tummies, and they gave us a back massage! It was amazing. 

After the wash and massage, we both got our hair dried to perfection. I mean PERFECTION. The guy drying my hair in this picture was a huge perfectionist, and this was obviously his specialty. The guy drying Angela's hair was only her "pre-dryer." After my guy finished with my hair, he went over and finished up Angela's. 

He's obviously very good at his job. Angela's waves were all done with his fingers. He curled the hair over his fingers and blow dried it instead of using a round brush. We were both pleased with our hair-do's.  

A couple nights later we went on a double date to get foot massages. One of Angela's coworkers watched Daisy (as in, hung out at Angela's apartment after Daisy went to sleep). Angela and her boyfriend, Zane and I went to dinner then foot massage. 

We went to this massage place that is apparently a chain and got all dolled-up in these nice robe things. I ended up changing back into my clothes because the waist band was constricting my tummy. Chinese people are smaller than me. 

My expression is because the water is super hot. 

It's a nice set-up with four chairs in the same room. We watched some Chinese animal planet show about cheetahs on TV. We had snacks and drinks. My favorite snack was the roasted peas or something like that. They also had something called glutenous rice balls, but they looked like eyeballs, so I didn't have any. 

It probably looks very luxurious by these photos, but we were in pain. Foot massage in China isn't about relaxation. It's about kneading your muscles into playdoh. They start at your feet, move up your legs, massage your stomach (!), then you flip over, and they massage your back. 

Zane had the worst time of it (contrary to his smiling face in this photo), and when Angela told his massage therapist that it hurt, the guy said, "It's supposed to hurt." 

It was still light-hearted, though painful. We laughed through most of it, and Zane and I declared we would never do that again. Imagine knuckles in your spine. Not exactly the massage I was imagining when I was planning our trip. It was a great cultural experience though. Many people have asked if my feet felt great afterwards, but all I can say is that a couple days later they hurt to the touch, as if they were bruised on the arch. So, no. 

Travel Tips and Take-Aways

1. Always make sure you have tissues when you use the restroom. 

2. Be prepared for people to take pictures of you, especially if you're traveling with kids. If it gets to be too much, just walk away. Most Chinese people were okay with use saying, "Okay, bye!" and just leaving the area. 

3. Chinese head massage and hair washing is delightful. I totally recommend it. Very cheap for a great experience. It took about 90 minutes and cost $2.50. 

4. Chinese foot massage is "enter at your own risk." Some westerners love it. Zane and I hated it. It's about 90 minutes and cost something like $10.00.