Game Jam – 2017 Trophies

Another year and another game jam has come and gone. What a great event. You can read all about it on the NOVA Text Adventure Game Jam Blog. This year we went with a more complicated set of trophies for the event.

I was planning on just using the same models from last year. They were a simple tongue-in-groove design that did the job very well. I like the way plexiglass looks when it’s all nice and shiny. Not one to rest on my laurels, however, I asked allowed while driving the road, “I wonder if there is a Duke model on thingiverse?” Not more than two minutes later my son reported, “yep.” He’d found on on his phone and so a new direction was put in motion.

Last year we joined NOVA Labs Build Group IX. So we’ve been printing things left and right. Well, that’s not true. We did that over the summer exploring all of the crazy things that could be done with the printer. This past Fall, the printer has been pretty much-running full-tilt on parts for the LHMS Robotics team. So we have never had the opportunity to “finish” a 3d print.

3d prints needs to be “finished” if you want them to look nice. Once a 3d print comes out of the machine, you can see how it prints as layers are stacked on top of one another. If you remember those old 3d puzzles they used to sell, there was a Darth Vader one where you stacked different size cardboard rings on top of one another. That’s what a 3d print looks like. In addition to the layering, bits of string and goop can sometimes mar a print as well. So, if you want to show off something, you want to “finish” it.


There are all sorts of crazy strategies to finish a print. A favorite of mine is acetone vapor – let’s create a cloud of toxic gas to melt our 3d print! As you may guess, that’s not the route we’re going – for not just the obvious reason. We’ve found that printing with PCI works best for us, and the acetone vapor is best used with ABS. Different materials have different strengths and weaknesses, and also require different ways to work with them.

The strategy we used this year is the standard strategy of elbow grease with sanding. Years of experiencing putting together Gundam models and hot rods lends itself to following that route. So the local craft store is where we found all the tools we needed:

  • Sandsponges
  • Primer

Washi Tape Candles

We got these candle holders ages ago. They were a gift, not even sure who gave them to us. Probably MIL. We’ve never had them out before because we just didn’t have a good table for them. But I kept them cause they are awesome. We now have an actual dining room with a long table in it. I stumbled across this in a still-packed box in the basement and pulled them out triumphantly. Another partially unpacked box in the basement! Yes!

wahshi 005


I love Washi Tape. It is (they are?) awesome. I found this set at IKEA with their Christmas wrap. Which is always great and sells out too fast. I knew the red would look better. I’m sure I’ll find a use for the white one somewhere else!

wahshi 006

I realize this isn’t much of a craft. All I did was put tape on my candle holders. But it came out pretty well so I figured I would share. This may be something that happens with other holidays as well! I’m looking at you Valentine’s Day!washi 013Aren’t the trees awesome too! My husband should really not let me in IKEA anymore.

Game Jam Trophies – 2016 Trophies

Last year we helped the LHMS Robotics Team put on their 1st Annual Text Adventure Game Jam. The students in attendance learned a lot about Java programming and what goes into making a video game. The competition follows FIRST’s format for the Lego League competitions. The winners received trophy’s I created. We’re doing this same thing this year, but mixing it up a little bit.

Read More

A Grue Ate My Graphics

The year was 1985, and the Commodore 64 lit up my dark bedroom – or was it a dungeon? My room was in the basement away from my troublesome brother and sister.  It was here that I spent many hours exploring labyrinths of peculiar logic for excitement and adventure. Technology changes and now we are in immersive VR environments that put us seemingly in real dungeons. Funny, years later I now find myself again trying to spelunk through archaic dungeons with my son’s robotics team. 

Read More

Merry Christmas Banner

So we took some family pics for our Christmas card this year.  I knew they weren’t going to scream Christmas or anything, so I made a banner to Holiday them up.  We only used it in a few of the pictures, so most of them are truly just family photos.  That’s super nice since we hardly ever do that.  I think the banner works in a few of them.

I used my Cricut to make the letters.  I made some test sizes first.  I cut the “M” in 2″, 3″ and 4″.  We figured the 4″ would look best.  For the letters, I used some green paper I already had, but I didn’t have any good colors to go with them.  So sad for me, thus a trip to Michaels.

I wanted something a little shiny to compliment the letters.  It took some time, but I found some silver.  I got a pack of paper on sale that had several reds and pinks.  I also picked up some red and white baker’s twine.

After I had cut all the letter’s out, I glued them down to the silver paper.  I pretty much just eyeballed a quarter inch margin from there and cut the paper around the letters.  Then I put a second layer of red below that.

I’ve been sitting on a ton of eyelets and this sweet eyelet tool for quite some time, so I decided to add those in the corners for durability.  They metal rings should keep the twine from ripping out the corners. Of course, the eyelets made it super easy to thread the twine too.  It turned out pretty well.

I didn’t think about the letters sliding off the string, but they did slide quite easily.  It was kinda funny to letters missing after we posed for a photo! I remedied that after the shoot with some old school scotch tape on the back.  That’ll give the banner a long life so I can hang it up every year!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Godzilla Cross Stitch

I made this for my Bother-In-Law and his family.  I’m sure it will end up in a place of honor.  Here’s the pattern I found.  Hopefully, it isn’t stolen from someone.  I just found I found my own colors and made the word “destroy” to look a bit like flames.

godzilla, walk 003

I used a frame from IKEA.  Mostly because I love IKEA and will use any excuse to go to there.  I also used some foam core that we had lying around the house and some tiny pins that were called sequin pins.

godzilla, walk 009

I cut the foam core to a little bit smaller than the mat in the frame.  After I washed and ironed the fabric, I measured out the middle of both the piece and the foam core.  While having everything lined up, I used the tiny sequin pins to attach the needlework to the foam core.  The pins were inserted all the way around into the edge of the foam – super tedious.  I wanted to make sure it was straight, though, so I did a pin or two per side at a time starting in the middle of each side. The fabric needs to be pulled taut in an attempt to prevent wrinkles.  This was the first time I have framed anything this way.  It was harder than it sounds.  Especially the corners.  I trimmed a bit there and just tried to get it to lay and fold as flat as possible on the back.  Lastly, I taped all the edges down and popped it in the frame!

godzilla, walk 014


Framed and ready to go for Christmas!

flamingo,godzilla 021


Flamingo Part 2

So I finished the flamingo in time for the Mom’s birthday!  I still think it’s super ugly, but I can appreciate the design and the colors now that it’s finished.  Here is a pic from before I washed and ironed it.

Flamingo; Reston 004

I’m not sure what she’s going to do with it.  There is a distinct lack of wall space in her place.  Perhaps a bag or a pillow is in her future?  I’m not so good at that part, the finishing, unless it’s just slapped in a frame.  It’s all nice and washed and ironed now.

Flamingo; Reston 028

flamingo,godzilla 002

It was super hard to get all the tape of the edges.  Honestly, they are still sticky.  I should have just cut them off.  If you look really close, there are still some pencil marks left over.  An unfortunate side effect to using a pencil to mark your place?  It will rub off on your fabric eventually.

Typically I use pen to do my marks. However, a more dense pencil would be helpful. Try using a 2H the next time. The lead from a 2H pencil may not be easily seen when it rubs off on the fabric.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Powder Room – Pt. 1

We’ve lived in our current home about 2 1/2 years.  In that time, I’ve done much painting to the place.  We’ve methodically and sporadically done minor repairs and updates.  Some repairs were to fix the home and others were to make the house more “us”.  Through all of that, one room has haunted me the entire time.

That’s not true. Two rooms haunt me, but the empty, dark, wood-paneled guest room is just gonna have to wait.  The room I’m talking about is the world’s smallest bathroom.

Now, when we moved into the place, the entire building was painted an ugly yellowish cream color, top to bottom.   Allegedly, it was part of some cost savings plan. And, it looked like the house had been that yellowed color for a really long time.  So not only was it the yellowish cream, it was a dirty yellowish cream. Thankfully the previous owners weren’t smokers – but sometimes I wonder.  The nice thing about that situation is that you can paint over it. Maybe you need to put up primer, but that’s just an extra step. I am slowly but surely eradicating that color from all the rooms.  In fact, I just about have.  All that’s left are the hallways and the family room. But for some bizarre reason, this super tiny bathroom was wallpapered.

The world’s smallest bathroom is on our first floor, so it is the one that all guests use; one word: embarrassing. When I say world’s smallest and super tiny, I mean it.  There’s only room for a toilet and a small sink opposite each other. There isn’t even a cabinet! Ok, smallness is confounding, but what’s the rule walls in small rooms? Oh yeah… don’t do dark colors.

136   137


Why would you do this!  This is awful!  Like being in a rust prison.  I cringe whenever I visit.  If you can believe it, it was actually worse before.  It had a super old towel rod placed right at elbow level.  Plus the toilet paper holder was behind you when sitting.  I like yoga and all, just not when I am taking care of business. I finally said that enough was enough and just started pulling it off with no real plan.  Boy scouts, walk 367The wallpaper really doesn’t want to come off!  I used a hole puncher thingy and water mixed with downy to wet it down.  This rusty paper fought me every step of the way.  Its battle was fought with two layers: a top layer and the backing paper.  It has taken me a longer to get this paper off than I intended.  But, at least the room feels twice as big now!

Now we just have to purchase all our replacement finishings

  • New sink with a cabinet (why would you not have a cabinet??)
  • new medicine cabinet
  • light
  • new paint

We are still in the discussion stages about whether or not the floor needs to be replaced.  The toilet is a bit wobbly. Most likely it wobbles because of water damage. We will not know for certain until Jason takes it out.  There’s still wallpaper behind the toilet to get too!

I think we’ll keep the toilet; no low flow for this house!

bathroom 002   bathroom 001

Flamingo Part 1

While visiting my mom this summer, I worked on some cross stitching.  She dragged out one she’d been working on and asked if I could finish it.  “Sure Mom!”  I should have looked at it first.  It’s a super ugly flamingo (Cover Band Name?).  I’m a bit spoiled by my current projects.

Most of my current patterns are easier to read. These new projects have colored charts with symbols and they are much easier to work with.  Not to mention all the colors used with the ugly flamingo are very close together, so it is hard to see what you are doing.

To top it all off, penciling was used to show the area’s that had been worked.  That’s not so much the problem, I’ll probably do the same.  But diagonal lines were used.  Visually the printed, black & white pattern is just bananas, and then to add gray pencil diagonal lines on top of it? No wonder she felt as if she was going blind working it!

tribble, flamingo 054tribble, flamingo 056

And don’t get me started on the back of the work.  I like stitches to be neat and it almost looks like the work was done in rows.  Disaster – a complete disaster.  It’s a bit hard to see here (ed. excuse potato), but I did the not-pink section.  You can see the difference.  I’m such a cross stitch snob.

Back of Flamingo

I may have to wash it before I go to much further as well.  There’s some weird baby powder/lavender thing happening that assaults my nose when the hoop gets too close to my face.  Which, for a teenager, happens more than you would think.  There must have been some strong hand lotion in the mix for the odor to linger like this.  Maybe I’ll just hose it down with some febreeze and see if that helps.

Hope you aren’t reading this Mom!  I love you and am super happy to be helping you out! 🙂


Logan decided that he wanted to be a red shirt for Halloween this year.  Easy enough.  I’ve got this one! Years of Star Trek experience has led me to this point in my life!

First was finding the shirt, I chose this one on Amazon. Most of the reviews were right.  The shirt does run small around the torso and long in the arms.  However, the adult men’s small size worked for a very skinny 12-year-old. Shirt acquired, Logan thought it would be funny to add tribbles to the costume.   How awesome is that?

I wasn’t going to shell out $20+ each for a ton of tribbles.  So I found this easy pattern on Craftster.  I pretty much just scaled the pattern to about how big I thought most should be, and then cut the fabric either smaller or larger to give my tribbles some different sizes. Pattern in hand, it was time to find some fur.

Buying the fabric was fun.  Not.  Jo-Anne’s Fabric actually had several kinds to choose from.  So the costume wouldn’t be too crazy, I chose two different fabrics I thought looked good together.  I got 1/4 yard each.  It was folded over and is enough to make a ton of tribbles. While shopping, I also found some grey IKEA ornaments that looked amazingly like tribbles.  Not sure if they’ll make the final costume yet!

tribble 026 tribble 037

Since the pattern instructions are already handy, I won’t rehash that here.  But here some things to keep in mind to make it easier!

  • When cutting the fabric, make sure it’s fur side down.  Make tiny snips with just the tips of the scissors.   This helps keep you from cutting off the fur.
  • Pay attention to the “grain” of the fur.  If it is running lengthwise to the pattern, it will be much easier to sew on the machine.
  • That being said, I made about half with the fur running across the pattern instead.  It gave the tribbles a little more variety.  This really only matters if you are making a lot!
  • Loose fur gets everywhere!  Including inside your sewing machine.  You’ve been warned.


tribble 050For the grand finale, I tried used clear thread and just basically looped a bit through the fabric of the red shirt and the tribble. Then tied a knot.  The clear thread is made of Nylon and doesn’t knot very well. So, I ended up switching out and using traditional brown thread instead.  That decision saved my sanity a bit as it is much easier to see!  I did two loops for each just so they wouldn’t be flopping around too much.  I tried to put them on so it looked like they were falling on him from above.  There is even a couple on his back and a few on his treat bag!  I ended up not using the grey IKEA ornaments.  They were just too much of a contrast to these, plus I only had four.  How sad for me, I just have to use them as Christmas decorations!tribble, flamingo 050