Posted on Leave a comment

Mighty Nein Cosplay: Jester LaVorre

Here are all the details on my Jester LaVorre cosplays, both her canon outfit from the campaign and the modern alternate universe (AU) clothes that I designed.

The Little Sapphire

Jester LaVorre is a little blue Tiefling girl played by the amazing Laura Bailey. Her personality is adorable, and getting to dress up as her is a ton of fun. I don’t usually get into character (unless I’m trooping for the 501st or Rebel Legions) but with Jester, it just happens naturally! (What this means for my own personality I will leave up to your imagination.) But getting to be goofy, girly, and a naughty prankster are just too much fun. (If you leave me a notebook, I will draw something in it.)

Whether Jester is reading poorly written harlequin novels, eating donuts, or battling alongside her friends, she is always genuine and kind. I just love her!

I found a lovely Fjord at Colossalcon East 2019!

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here

Supplies:

Clothing –

While this will get you all the base pieces I used for my cosplay, it won’t be the only thing you will need. I did not use any other material for the chemise except what was already there. I simply hemmed it to the length I wanted and added the extra to the sleeves. That said, if you are much taller than me, you might want to find an alternative – there was not that much to use afterward. (I’m 5’2″.)

I did not have to do any alterations to the corset. It fit great! Just make sure to check your measurements and compare. Mine was a perfect fit.

Makeup –

Whether you’re doing traditional Jessie or modern, the makeup is the same! Though, if you wanted to do a more festival look, with added sequins or crystals, it definitely seems like something our unicorn, candy-loving tiefling would do! So have fun with it!

A bunch of Jesters at Colossalcon East

Materials –

Modern Jester

Supplies:

There is a lot that is going to be added to this post. Tons more photos, tutorials, video tutorials, and so much more. So bookmark it and check back! Even though it isn’t finished, I wanted to get a list started since I had so many questions!


First, I purchased a pair of white Levi’s shorts (I got mine at Walmart on a whim, but you can easily purchase them online at the link, too.) Research the type of material in yours, whether it is a synthetic heavy blend (aka comfy) or mostly cotton, as that will determine which sort of dye you use.

I used Rit liquid dye in Petal Pink. As is a regular habit of mine when treasure hunting for cosplays, I made a trip to Goodwill and found a big ol’ stock pot, perfect for stove top dying projects. (Most dying projects require to maintain heat for a prolonged period, meaning that dying in the tub won’t work.) I followed the directions on the dye, and but first got my shorts soaking wet. Wring them out a bit. Figure out where you’ll want your ombre to stop. Using straightpins where you want to stop dipping is really helpful!

I made one mark where I want the lightest pink to blend to white, and then another mark of pins where I wanted the darkest pink to blend into the light pink. Holding your garment from the lightest section, dip the base to be dyed into the readied dye bath up until your highest set of pins and pull it right back out. This lets the dye just touch that bit of fabric once so it stays nice and light!

Once it was washed well and dried, I moved on to making the flowers. You could draw this on with a fabric marker, like these markers by Sharpie. I decided to embroider them! I recently got into embroidery and found that it is a hobby that I loved. For the flowers, I used DMC 601 6-strand thread. However you decide to do it, you’ll want to add a disappearing ink fabric pen. With that, you can doodle on most fabrics to sketch out your idea BEFORE making it permanent. Then it stays on long enough for you to color it in with sharpie or to embroider it.

The disappearing ink (before it disappeared)

It was really a fun project! I think they are perfect for Jester, but it is also really fun to have a piece of custom clothing that I designed and crafted. If you like this design and make your own Jester-inspired shorts, I’d LOVE to see them!


This post will continue to be updated with information on how I did this cosplay, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference! In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, feel free to drop me a comment and I will answer you as soon as I can.

Posted on Leave a comment

Are You Ready, Kids? SpongeBob SquarePants Makeup is Coming

hipdot x spongebob squarepants eye shadow palette open and closed on a teal background
Photo by HipDot

If you aren’t already on the email list for HipDot’s new upcoming palette release, you need to be. Get ready to celebrate some of the best of the 90’s with this colorful set of shades inspired by everyone’s favorite patty flipper, Spongebob Squarepants.

It isn’t out yet, but reviews of other HipDot products are promising. With their recent palettes really setting social media ablaze with bright pigments and glitter so thick you can see it from the heavens, I have to say, I am PUMPED about this release.

This palette boasts fifteen shades in tropical, watery hues inspired from the ragtag group of characters that live in Bikini Bottom. While the yellow is fairly evident (is anyone else excited for three yellow shades???) I think I can see where they get their inspiration for the rest of the palette. Can you imagine doing a LEWK based on the different characters? The shades are perfect for Gary.

What about everyone’s favorite money-grubbing claw daddy, Mr. Krabs??? (Don’t you even try to tell me that you didn’t want to eat a Krabby Patty.) Clancy Brown, you did a great job in Detroit: Become Human, but you’ll always be Mr. Krabs in my heart.

Of course, our clarinet-honking, ear-murdering, Frasier-watching octopod neighbor should not be left out. Just look at the shades “Bikini Bottom Blue” and “Angry Tentacles!”

Photo by HipDot

The swatch above shows the different pigments, but every single one has a glitter element to it. From looking at the pans, it looks like not every shade has glitter. This swatch must be layered, which brings up some questions: Is the glitter formula the same as some of their other palettes? (I hope so!) Did they make the glitter more sheer with the intent of layering? Or do we get a palette with the flexibility to have every shade glittery or matte based on layering??? Oh, the possibilities!

This palette makes a splash soon on July 17. Is this going to be something on your wishlist? What other characters looks does this palette inspire you to make? I can’t wait to snag it!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
Posted on Leave a comment

Best Instant Camera?

The first camera tested, the original Polaroid One Step.

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here

There are a lot of instant photo options in the market nowadays. From the most popular Instax Mini with it’s array of colorful accessories, to the new HP Sprocket that connects to your smartphone. In a digital age where most of our photos are looked at from a screen and stored away often never to be seen again (at least until Facebook or other social media platform reminds us of throwback days), printed photos are regaining their appeal. And there’s good reason.

I can still spend a good hour looking through my grandmother’s many photo albums. I own only a few photo albums, and all from my childhood, but the memories they bring back are fond, and the pictures are often humorous and endearing. In this digital age of social media, we cull through numerous photos and take many more until we get “the one.” In the days of film, you often had no idea what the result would be until you picked up the packet of images from the photo department.

And the allure is stronger with old-fashioned instant cameras like the Polaroid. You get just one chance to capture a single moment that can never be replicated. Instant cameras are a piece of magic.

But like in many fields, there are so many options, it’s hard to make a buying decision. I am not particularly loyal to brands, mostly because this is a field where I have little experience. Polaroid has made its name synonymous with the square format print, but does that mean it is the best option? I wanted to find out.

The Contenders

Original Polaroid One Step Land Camera

I used Color 600 film paired with the neutral density filters. Because the 600 film is more sensitive to light than film meant for the OneStep, the neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light the camera allows in so that your photos are not over-exposed (that sun bleached look). You can use the SX-70 film, but it was not available in time for me to do this review.

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

The Original OneStep is very simple. You insert the film cartridge, hold down the shutter to eject the protective covering, and you are ready to start shooting. The only thing that makes the original OneStep difficult to finagle is its bulk. It’s odd size and shape make it impossible to simply slip into a purse and be on your way to capturing memories. But for taking instant photos, it could hardly be easier.

Functionality: ★★☆☆☆

Not surprising at all, this camera has very little features. It takes photos. It has a flash. I could not figure out if the flash could be turned off. (There was no manual with my ebay purchase.)

Accessories: ★★★☆☆

The Polaroid OneStep Land Camera with Q-Light Accessory

While retro and not currently manufactured, the availability of accessories for this little guy are prolific. In its prime, Polaroid produced several different types of accessories, mostly flashes of some sort, that improved (or were marketed to improve) the quality of the images. Carrying cases, storage cases, and film are quite easily come by, though they are not necessarily inexpensive. And since the accessories are no longer in reproduction, you have to rely on third party resales to obtain them. Surprisingly, I was able to find more accessories for this camera than the other two tested.

Photo quality: ★☆☆☆☆

Selfie comparison between all camera prints.

This old guy has perhaps seen better days. Whether it is an issue of needing a refurbishing, I don’t know. But the results were murky at best, garbage at worst. In the photo above, the original camera tests resulted in row 1 image 2 and row 2 image 1.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: With the many instant print cameras out there, don’t bother spending your money on a retro model – unless you enjoy having a camera to refurbish.

2. Polaroid OneStep2

The new Polaroid OneStep2 has just enough retro charm and functionality to make me want to purchase it just by looking at it. (Is that just me?) It has several different color options (I bought Sky Blue, but there is also classic white, and even a Stranger Things limited edition)

Because this is the next generation of Polaroid’s OneStep series, I want to get into some comparisons before we get to the rating. (If that doesn’t interest you, you can scroll right down to the stars!)

I found the two cameras to be very similar in size. I expected having the shutter button beneath the much improved larger flash might lead to having stark finger shadows, but that never happened. It did take me forever, though, to figure out where my film indicator was. All other instant print cameras I have used have the scrolling number wheel somewhere on the back of the camera housing. It took me looking it up in the manual (duh) for me to realize that those little dots on the top of the camera are LED lights that indicate the amount of film left. I think that is a nice touch, once you know its purpose.

Having the button on the front also made taking selfies really easy considering the cameras bulk. And the USB charging is an upgrade that certainly makes it more sustainable (retro film packages include a battery to run the camera) and ensure you always have a well-powered flash. Overall, a very nice, recognizable upgrade.

Ease of Use: ★★★★★

Whether taking a selfie or a group photo, indoor or outdoor, flash or no flash, the OneStep2 was simple to manage and understand (aside from my LED film indicator mystery mentioned above). It was honestly just fun to use.

Functionality: ★★★★☆

With its USB charging and the ability to turn off the flash, this little camera already has more than one leg up on its other instant camera competitors.

Accessories: ★★★☆☆

Even though its accessories are more up to date than the those of its retro predecessor, they are few and more pricey than other brands, like Fuji’s instax series. Your choices of accessories are limited. The strap is exactly the same strap as the original OneStep, a thin band that will rub your neck raw, although it can actually be removed and replaced with almost any other neck strap, which you would want to do. (Unless turtlenecks and protective ascots are your thing. You do you.)

Photo quality: ★★★★☆

Photos taken with the OneStep2

For instant print cameras, Polaroid really does have the winning combination. The colors, while off from what our eyes see, read very clearly once developed. If you want something closer to what the naked sees, your cell phone will take better photos. But instant cameras are an entirely different realm, and in this arena, Polaroid is king. The images included crisp, clear details from different shooting distances and selfies equally.

Overall: ★★★★☆

This was so close to five stars. There were a few things I liked better on the next camera that I would like to be able to Frankenstein together for the perfect instant camera, but ultimately, those little things come down to personal preference. If you like the look and excitement of what Polaroid prints have to offer, you won’t be disappointed with this camera.

3. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

This is the camera that I started out assuming would win. The SQ6 has more features than any other instant camera in its price range. It’s design and shape make it preferable to taking it with you and capturing memories on the go.

Ease of Use: ★★★★★

This camera was the easiest to use in multiple ways. It has two shutter buttons, one on the top, and one on the front which is optimal for taking a selfie. And when it comes to selfies, the mirror on the front of this little guy makes it possible to make sure everyone is in the shot. (But seriously, don’t try getting a selfie with more than three. There will not be room. Unless you enjoy the “crammed too many in a photo booth” look.)

Because of its slim design, it hung flat against my body and was even able to slide into a medium purse. Of the three, this was by far the more portable design.

While I did give it five stars, the SQ6 did have one annoying hang up: the viewfinder is on the right hand side. That seems like such an odd thing to nitpick, but when every single camera I have held in my hand (which is a stinkin’ lot) has the viewfinder on the left or in the center, trying to use a viewfinder on the right hand felt like I was trying to write with my non-dominant hand. I’m certain this is something anyone could easily adjust to, but it may throw you off. It certainly did me, as well as anyone I handed it to.

It doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, that right hand viewfinder is wack.

Functionality: ★★★★★

A duel exposure image taken with SQ6

Out of every camera I tried, this one had more ways to use than your simple point and shoot. Take a look at the back of the camera again and see for yourself all the different shooting modes.

Shooting modes, left to right: Auto, Selfie, Macro, Landscape, Double Exposure,
Lighten, and finally, Darken.

This camera gets you the most for the price. In fact, the only downsides I can think of are 1) I just wish the prints were larger, and 2) it uses disposable batteries. The USB features of the OneStep2 just feel right with everything else that I have that is compatible. I hate trying to remember what type of battery each electronic takes. Come on, Fujifilm, this is 2020, not 1992. That being said, the camera is functionally top of the line in its price range.

Accessories: ★★★★☆

The line of Fujifilm Instax cameras have been established for years, and with that, an assortment of different accessories have been produced. From photo albums, locker or fridge magnet frames, neck straps, cases, and more, there is something to personal your Instax experience to your liking. However, there are fewer accessories for the SQ6. Most of the Instax accessories are for its Mini series of cameras.

Out of the box, the SQ6 has a premium neck strap (complete with padding) and even colored flash gels. I was really excited about the inclusion of gels. These flash gels are more superior than those flimsy little strips of color plastic film like most gels. These are durable plastic clip-ons that attach right over the flash and are thick enough to not be blown away or lost in the depths of a camera bag or purse.

Photo quality: ★★★★☆

Photos taken by the SQ6

The SQ6 takes square format images, much like the beloved Polaroid. However, SQ6 prints much smaller images.

The SQ6 print on the left, OneStep2 on the right.

When at the optimal distance, the pictures were crisp. However, in order to get a good selfie, you have to remain very still. While in the photo above it looks fine, in person the Polaroid has much sharper details. (But to be fair, I did not use Selfie mode on the SQ6 as I hadn’t learned about that yet. It would probably clear that up.)

When it comes to color rendering, it does a good job, as well as one can expect from instant print cameras.

Overall: ★★★★★

This camera is the clear winner for the price. It really allows you to do more with less.

That being said . . . I didn’t like the photos as much as I liked the Polaroid’s prints. There was just something about the size that didn’t feel right. It’s not something I can explain, so it most likely comes to an emotional attachment or nostalgia to the size of the Polaroid prints. The Fujifilm square prints are odd. While the Instax line of minis prints are familiar, like a business card, the SQ6 prints don’t feel right in my hand. It’s an odd place to be, because if I were to base it off enjoyment of the photos alone, I would pick the OneStep2. But as an overall experience (handling the camera, using it with the strap around my neck, finagling its size into normal activities) the SQ6 is the clear winner (aside from the right side viewfinder).

If you want to purchase, you can find great deals on Amazon here:

Polaroid OneStep2
Fujifilm Instax SQ6


So, while my conclusions were not exactly conclusive, I hope that my experiences and details help you to figure out which square format instant camera you would prefer. Which one would you buy?

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
Posted on 2 Comments

My Empty Plate

God has some difficult lessons for me lately. I wish I was a faster learner, because these lessons are tough and tiring. For years, I’ve had a few personal wishes, dreams if you will. They are pretty situational and very specific to me and what I dream of for my future.

I’m not sure why, but one by one, those deeply held desires are not only being withheld from me, but they are being handed to others in a way that I see them intimately. It feels like I’m wishing for a cupcake with buttercream icing and pink sparkling sprinkles, or a warm, fresh from the oven piece of cheesecake with ice cold cherry topping and a little toothpick flag on top, or even a hot fudge sundae with chopped nuts, a brownie, a few slices of banana (not too much) and no cherry on top, just extra fudge and two oreos for garnish.

My desires, like those desserts, are very specific desires. They are also very private. I haven’t told anyone besides my husband what these are.

I feel like I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of other children who have cookies and pie and cake on their plates already. And not only do I not get dessert, the exact same secret wishes of dessert that I have in my head are given to others. The buttercream cupcake goes to the boy across the table from me. My dream sundae goes to the girl on my right. The rich and creamy cheesecake with the little toothpick flag is served to the boy on my left. They’re seated next to me, enjoying what my heart craved and dreamt up. But I didn’t tell them what I wanted. So how did they get it?

The chef knew.

The chef knew what everyone wanted and needed. And for reasons unknown to me, took the -exact- things I have been craving and gives them to those around me. At first it was just the cupcake. That was sad, but wow, it made that little boy happy. He must have needed it more than I did.

Then the chef came out with that delicious looking piece of cheesecake. I could smell the warmth. It had clearly just come out of the oven! It was smothered in cherry topping, and on top, pitched on the apex of the cherries like the crest of some climber’s victory, was the little toothpick flag.
It was so close to me now! Closer, closer . . . and then it was given to the girl next to me.

It seemed like a run of bad luck, until the third dessert I had dreamt of was given to the boy on my left. I sat there, gripping my hands under the table and staring at the plate in front of me, all while the sounds of joy and the scents of delightful desserts surrounded me.

It felt like little pieces of my heart had been torn up and distributed about to others. I decided to play it much safer, be more guarded, before the next stolen dream caught me unaware. “Maybe just a chocolate chip cookie?” I would wonder. Chocolate chip cookies were common and not at all difficult to whip up, not for the Master Chef. But the longer I sat and waited, the more I saw other children at the table get desserts. But not me. My little dessert plate sat alone and empty.

I should be grateful. In front of me is a balanced meal that is not only good for me, but it is delicious, too. I have plenty to keep my belly full and I even have a can of Coke for a sweet treat. I try to be thankful for the good meal in front of me, and focus on how good it is, and try to imagine how much work and thought the chef put into it just for my needs. The Chef even considered getting my favorite fork (I don’t like the short tong forks) and picked out my favorite plate, the delicate white one with the pretty blue flowers that remind me of Chinaware. If I look very, very far away, I can even see children who haven’t been served dinner yet. I certainly should be grateful.

I am thankful. I have joy. But many times, I am not happy. Why does God keep giving all of my secret desires to those near and dear to me, but deny me the simplest request? What is it that I am meant to gain by watching my dreams unfold and develop in the life of someone else?

I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. I hope I learn the lesson soon, because my heart is weary. This world is heavy and has lost its luster. I don’t want to be here. I wish that God would come back and usher us into that bright and beautiful Paradise of the perfected future earth. I long for a place free of suffering or heartache. I long to be perfected into a creature that no longer has these unmet desires. I’m so, so tired of wanting. I don’t want to want anymore.

I don’t want to want anymore.

So what do I do? How do I move on with this hole inside of me that aches as I see my hopes and dreams play out in front of me but are never mine?

I take what is on my plate and start naming each thing, no matter how small.

So that is what I will do.

I thank God for my husband. If ever I need assurance that God loves me, I can always look to the gift that is Nathan.

I thank God for my health insurance and my good doctor who cares about me.

I thank Him for my precious doggy, who at this moment is snoozing next to me, half hugging my ipad with one eye just a little open.

I thank God for some of the most beautiful weather we’ve had here in weeks. I had lunch outside today.

I thank God for my family and dear friends.

I’m thankful I get to see my precious Nichole in just a week.

I’m thankful for all the time I have to pursue and perfect my various hobbies and interests.

The more and more that I spend reflecting and really focusing on all the things I DO have on my plate, the more satisfying it all becomes. And more than that, I realize I have more than I could need just for myself. I may not have a big dessert or enough on my plate to feed five hundred, but I certainly have enough to share with one other, maybe two or three.

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Writing down my individual blessings is an exercise in gratitude I take for granted. The truth is, my brain does not naturally lean into an attitude of thankfulness, especially when I am battling a depressive episode. When I’m in the throws of mental health issues, it feels like I’m clawing up to the surface of the ocean only to gasp a partial breath before the next wave crashes into me, knocking me down into the dark depths where I must fight and claw again. But gratitude is like a life ring. It doesn’t matter how hard or fast the waves come. The life ring will stay afloat. It may bob for a second, but it is in its nature, its design, to stay above.

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

I just have to hold on.

It’s a choice. It does not make the waves any weaker or the storm less fierce. And, sometimes, I need someone to assist me in reaching it. But holding on to it, making the decision to reach for it, is up to me.

And it is up to you.

If your plate feels barren, and your heart aches, decide now to try. It doesn’t change the fact that my dreams are unmet, or that my heart aches when I am reminded of that. But it will keep you afloat through it all.

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script