Married to the Empire

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Our youth group got together tonight to play a live version of the game Clue. The adults played the suspects, so we all dressed for our parts. Ruf was Col. Mustard.

I was Mrs. Peacock.

The two of us together:

The suspects were all given a sheet with clues written on it. The kids would enter a room (for example, I was stationed in the Dining Room) and make a guess. Something like, "Miss Scarlet did it in the Dining Room with the rope." I would then give them one clue based on what they said. All the clues were riddles. They would have to figure out the riddle, then go find that clue. (The riddle would lead them to the location of the clue.) As they found clues, they would check them off, thus narrowing down the list of suspects, locations, and weapons.

Would you believe that I'm a murderer?! I did it in the Hall with the wrench.

The kids all wore costumes to the game. We had some really fun costumes show up: Ace Ventura-Pet Detective, the Cat in the Hat with Thing 1 and Thing 2, a go-go girl, a pirate, a ladybug, Supergirl, Batgirl, a Chick Magnet (his t-shirt said "Chick Magnet" with Barbie dolls taped to it), Elizabeth Bennett, a cowgirl, Jimi Hendrix... There were more, but I'm drawing a blank right now. I'd love to show you pictures, but I don't feel right about posting kids' pictures on the internet without first getting parental permission. So, you can just imagine all the great costumes!

I forgot to mention that when the kids came to the suspects for clues, we had to make them do stuff for us first. Ruf made them bring him 3 skittles, which explained why I kept seeing kids run to the candy bowl, rifle through it, then race back from where they'd come. I made them spin like ballerinas, do cheerleading jumps, and sing the ABCs in operatic style. That was funny stuff!

It was a great way to spend Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's a Giveaway!

Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer is hosting the Fall, Y'all Bloggy Giveaways. I've decided to join in with an offering appropriate for the wife of a Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper: action figures!

I have for the Star Wars fan in your life, whether it be you, your spouse, your children, or your geeky friends, Hasbro's "Hunt for the Millennium Falcon" Bounty Hunter Pack.

This wonderful set of bad guys includes Darth Vader, Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, 4-LOM, and Zuckuss. The packaging is in pristine condition (this is important to collectors) and would look great on display. But, of course, if it becomes yours, you can rip open the packaging and play to your heart's content.

The retail value of this bounty hunter collection is $40. But it can be yours for FREE! Just leave a comment, and I'll choose a random number on Saturday, November 3 for the winner! If you do not have a blog account, please leave your email. I'm noticing a few comments without contact info.

Just wanted to add that I'll be closing the comments at midnight (CST) Friday, Nov. 2.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Craft fairs

While Ruf spent the day with the guy who runs, I decided to amuse myself by going to a couple of local craft fairs with a friend. Craft fairs are a nice way to spend some time. They're usually free (unless you buy stuff), and it's always interesting to see what kinds of things people like to make.

We wandered around the first one, which was held in a senior center, not finding much that interested us. No offense to anyone, but plastic canvas and little cutesy knick-knacks are just not my thing.

But then there was the booth with the lady with the Bead Spinner. We just stood there in utter fascination. This woman was stringing teeny-tiny seed beads in mere seconds. Once the beads were strung, she'd then knit with them. Talk about an interesting combination! She graciously allowed me to take pictures of her using her amazing little tool.

That little bowl is filled with seed beads. A special hooked needle is used to grab the beads as the bowl spins. It's like magic. She said her husband could explain the physics of it all, but she just knows that it works. I felt like a little kid as I stood there gawking at how the beads just seemed to jump on the needle and string. I don't bead, nor do I knit, but that doesn't mean I don't still find the process fascinating.

I didn't wind up spending much money. I bought a baby gift for a friend and a little something for my mom, which I can't get specific about because she reads my blog. (Don't worry, Mama! You'll like it. No plastic canvas or junky knick-knacks for you!) We also stopped a craft fair at a local church. This fair was tiny and had only a handful of cars in the parking lot. My friend and I both wound up buying boxes of homemade gingersnaps. The label said they're The Best, and so far, I don't disagree.

All in all, a pleasant way to amuse oneself on a lazy Saturday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Random kindness from a stranger

I have a book of pet crafts. One of the crafts is a pattern for making a stuffed cat out of fleece. My sewing skills are minimal, but I think I can manage this. I intend to attempt to make a kitty for my niece, who will be 4 in December.

I took the book to Kinko's this afternoon to have the pattern enlarged. I was working the guy pretty hard because I wasn't happy with the size of the enlargement. He enlarged it some more; I still wasn't happy. Then the next one was too large.

And then I realized that I had given him the wrong pattern to copy. Oops.

I apologized profusely, said I'll happily pay for all those wasted copies, and handed him the correct pattern. He did the work and gave me the finished product. Then he started dealing with another customer.

I continued to stand there because I needed to pay for the work done. He stopped his conversation with the new customer, and he told me I'm all done. I said, "But I still need to pay." He told me not to worry about it; it's free. I argued a bit, reminding him of the extra work I'd created for him with my mistake, and he just smiled and told me again that it was free and don't worry about it.

Wow! I'd been having a bad couple of days due to some church stress, and I'd been feeling rather down about things. This random act of kindness really lifted my mood and gave me some much needed encouragement.

I don't know who he is, but I just have to say a huge "Thank you!" to the Kinko's man. He made my day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to... the Dork Side?

Ruf and I spent last Saturday at a sci-fi convention. While wandering around the exhibit hall, I was stopped by the people in a fairly empty-looking booth. They started telling me about their comedy show they'd be performing this week, I can get in free if I wear my costume (what costume???), and here, would I like to join the Army of Dorkness?

They gave me their spiel, then I looked at them and said, "Wow. I don't know if I should be offended or not!" I mean, here they were talking about nerdity and armies of dorkness and offering me membership in their geeky whatever. I am not a nerd. (Although Ruf reminded me later that I was at a sci-fi convention!) The guy doing all the talking had the grace to blush a bit and get all flustered, while the others in the booth started cracking up. He stammered, "But you're in the 501st!" pointing at my t-shirt.

Oh. That.

I explained that my husband is in the 501st Legion; I am not. I just wear the t-shirt so it's obvious that I'm with the stormtroopers. (That means people let me into places where I'm not supposed to be.) Ruf appeared at that very moment, so they started offering him their Army of Dorkness and whatnot. They gave him a card and invited him to come to their comedy thing.

Ruf decided to go last night. He wore his armor, worked the crowd before and after the show, and had a great time. He said they were hilarious. And they gave him some free tickets so his non-nerdy wife can go with him next time. You can check out their website, in fact.

In addition to the free tickets, Ruf was given this hilarious t-shirt:

He'll wear it with pride.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Preparing for Christmas

Usually I shop for Christmas all year, but this year I've been seriously slacking. This is bad for several reasons. We have 3 October birthdays, 2 December birthdays (mine included), and we just shelled out about $4000 for all the home repairs/falling trees, etc. Money is now officially tight.

A few years ago, one of Ruf's sisters was having trouble coming up with a gift for their stepdad. Their mom suggested some practical items, including... bananas. So, FIL received bananas from that sister. No kidding. Ruf and I laughed hysterically over that.

Last weekend I attended a local library book sale. I came away with 8 books and 2 magazines for the whopping price of $2.75. One of the books is for Ruf, and I decided to put it away for Christmas. It was only 25 cents. He didn't look too impressed when I told him I bought one of his presents for that price.

We've been instant messaging this afternoon and talking about Christmas. He sent me links to several zombie things he wants. (Ruf is very into zombies. It was so bad at one point that when we walked into Blockbuster a couple of years ago, I told him he couldn't get anything with ...of the Dead in the title. I was tired of zombies.) I told him to think very carefully about what he wants because funds are limited, and I've already purchased a few things for him. He only knows about the 25 cent item, so he responded with, "Just gum will be fine," followed by a sad face. Then he said, "And some bananas."

I told him he could only have one banana, as we're on a budget. He's decided I'm very mean.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sci-fi Convention

We get a lot of geek conventions here in Dallas. Ruf and I always look forward to the Sci-fi Expo that comes every October. Because it's near Halloween, this one always has a big costume contest, tons of celebrities, and a big exhibition hall where you can find just about any geek item you could possibly want.

I never imagined that going to these things would ever be a part of my life, but when you're married to a stormtrooper, you do a lot of things you never expected. Including simply being married to a stormtrooper.

Inside the exhibit hall where all the vendors were:

Steve Sansweet, the fan relations guy for LucasFilm, was at the convention. Ruf chatted with him for a while out in the hall while the other stormtroopers lined up to escort Sansweet into the room where he would give a talk on the future of Star Wars. I snapped their picture:

Sansweet's stormtrooper escort lined up and ready to go:

The costumes are always fun. I snapped a few picture of some of the interesting ones I saw while walking around. The best was this Gamorrean Guard from Return of the Jedi:

This was a new one. There are always several Darth Vaders wandering around these conventions, but I'd never before seen a dying and unmasked Vader before. These guys played it up well. Vader/Anakin had his arms thrown across the shoulders of these stormtroopers, who were dragging him along. I first saw them from behind, which was really an intriguing way to first see this costume:

I quickly went around to see him from the front:

Then there are the silly costumes, such as this Elvis Trooper:

In case you're wondering, none of the stormtroopers pictured here are my husband. Ruf went to the convention really early in the morning, while I stayed behind to go to a book sale at a local library. By the time I joined him, he was done trooping for the day. Unfortunately, I started feeling sick, so I didn't even stick around for the costume contest, which is really the best part of this convention, in my opinion. I offered Ruf the camera to take pictures of it, but he declined. Oh well. Sorry, the coverage of the convention isn't as good as it could be. However, if you've never been to one of these things before, at least you've had a cursory introduction.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, I bought some interesting vintage ewok party supplies for only $2. Not exactly sure yet what I'm going to do with it, but this Ewokgirl couldn't pass up interesting vintage ewok stuff.

UPDATED: Ruf informed me that Rebel Scum has costume contest photos from this weekend. There are some interesting costumes. Personally, I like the Harry Potter group. And I find baby Slave Leia utterly disturbing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In case you wondered...

The 501st Legion receives a lot of costume requests at this time of year. For the record, the guys DO NOT lend or rent out their costumes. The costumes are ridiculously expensive, and the guys (and gals) put a lot of time, money, and effort into customizing their costumes and fitting them to themselves. They are not available for borrowing or renting. Now, if you happen to know a guy personally, and he is willing to let you wear his costume, that's one thing. But in general, their costumes are not up for grabs, especially by strangers.

Using what you have

Ever since we had those leaks repaired under our slab, I've been in a bit of a nesting mode. I guess that's just what naturally occurs when your house is torn up, then you have to put it all back together. I've done a lot of sorting and purging, and I've also been finding a few uses for things that have been sitting around doing nothing for years.

First, I have a couple of beautiful bowls that my parents brought back from China. They sat in my pseudo-china cabinet for years with no purpose. I finally found a place for each. The tiny one now sits on my bookshelves in front of my collection of folk tales from around the world. Inside the bowl are some rocks that a craft vendor gave me at the state fair. The rocks are a sort of potpourri; they're scented with some sort of oil. Appropriately, the scent I chose is green tea.

The larger bowl is now sitting on top of my curio cabinet. It adds just a touch of color up there.

I've had these silver crosses for years. I bought them simply because I liked them, but I never had a place for them. They've been shoved in a drawer for a very long time, and I'm glad I've finally found a place for them. They'll go on the wall in the kitchen above the repurposed TV cabinet with the Southern Living plate I've finally put to use.

After we brought home the big TV my parents gave us, I hated how it looked in the living room. The wall behind it looked so sparse, and the TV had to be angled out all strangely. I've made a bit of peace with the TV now by warming up the space a tad by adding a wicker basket with homemade (not by me!) quilts. It's still not a perfect solution, but I no longer hate the TV when I look at it. I can now live with it in its current position. On the other side of the TV (out of view) are some stacked baskets (recently purchased, not repurposed) that give a little balance to that side. I think having a bit of wicker just helps to keep make that part of the room not look quite so sterile and cold.

Now if I could just find a use for this silver-plated champagne bucket that I just had to have several years ago. We don't drink alcohol, and I've only used it as an ice bucket once. Yes, once. I polished it last weekend, and now that it looks all pretty again, I'd love to find a daily use for it. I'm open to suggestions. Otherwise, it'll make its way into the giveaway pile. I've reached a point where I want things to be used, and if they're not, out they go!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The State Fair of Texas

We're fortunate to have the State Fair of Texas in Dallas every year. It's always a fun way to spend a day. Ruf took a vacation day yesterday so we could go when it wasn't crowded. Also, Wednesdays are traditionally $1 admission days with 3 cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank. Get in dirt cheap AND help a good cause! It's a win-win!

We started off by heading into the midway to see the human cannonball.

After watching a guy launch from a cannon, we headed into one of the marketplaces. I sat down for a free massage, then we looked around. This sand sculpture was truly impressive!

We next headed to the dog show, which is an annual tradition we never miss. My photos aren't very good because we were sitting too far away, but the dogs caught frisbee after frisbee, obeyed impressive commands, dove into a tank of water at an impressive distance, and even raced each other. And they looked like they enjoyed every moment of it!

Next we headed over to watch the African Acrobats. They started with a drummer, then the acrobats came out with impressive displays of physical skill. Strong and limber are the best words to describe these guys.

Lunch was next. This picture is for my sister in London. She told me to eat a corn dog for her. I wasn't in the mood for one, but Ruf ate one. Fletcher's Corny Dogs are a state fair tradition. Also, if you notice Ruf's shirt in the picture, that's our cool new youth-group theme: Mimetes. It means imitator in Greek.

Big Tex, the icon of the State Fair of Texas. He's 55 years old this year and still going strong.

Next was a show called Dancing with Dogs. We thought it would be humans really dancing with their dogs, but it was just fancy dog tricks. Still, it was cute to watch, especially a little Jack Russell Terrier who did kicks with his back legs. Pardon the blurriness of the picture, but they were moving non-stop, and I was high up in the stands.

I always enjoy stopping by the DAR house in Fair Park. Their collection is small, but they have some impressive examples of American objects of old. There were several stunning sets of china that were a couple of hundred years old, some clothing, shoes, guns, etc. I wound up entering two raffles: one for a Madame Alexander Betsy Ross doll (that will go to my nieces in London if I win), and a GPS system, which Ruf thinks is cool but says I actually need. (God didn't turn on my internal compass when he made me.) If I win, great. If not, the money goes towards preservation of American history. And yet again, I was reminded that I need to get around to filling out my DAR paperwork, as I am a legacy. It's a good group, and I think they're desperately in need of younger women to join up.

We headed over to the African-American Museum to watch the Cardstacker, Bryan Berg. He was constructing a NYC skyline. The Empire State Building is so high that part of the ceiling had to be removed! Truly, this guy's work is impressive.

We wandered through more craft booths that evening. I wound up buying some dip mixes. I probably wouldn't have bothered, but Ruf really wanted them.

Before we left for the night, I had Ruf take a picture of the Texas Star all lit up. It's a beautiful sight at night.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Such deals!

I've been having some fun with CVS and their Extra Care program. If you watch the weekly ads, you can find the deals that come with extra care bucks when you buy, and if you couple those with coupons, you've struck gold. I had accrued so many ECBs that in the last week, I've gotten tons of stuff for next to nothing. Last week I bought 10 rolls of Kleenex Viva paper towels and a box of Playtex tampons for only 72 cents. Seventy-two cents, y'all! And yesterday I came home with stuff totalling $36.27, yet I paid only $10.03.

Ruf has been absolutely amazed by all this. He laughed about how much toothpaste and deodorant we have in a closet right now, but I've also heard him bragging to other people that I get it all for next to nothing.

His question last night: "How is CVS staying in business when you're robbing them blind?!"

You know, I've wondered that myself!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Problem solved

Ruf had a stormtrooper thing this weekend at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Saturday night after they trooped, the stormtroopers went out to eat together. Some of the guys are smokers, and Ruf came home REEKING of cigarette stench. Knowing that his clothes would stink up the bathroom and give me a migraine, Ruf undressed on the back porch and left his clothes on the porch swing to air out.

Some major storms moved in last night. Gushing rain, booming thunder, lots of lightning.

I think it's safe to say that Ruf's clothes are now sufficiently aired out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Putting out the Halloween decor

We're Christians, but we're not anti-Halloween. We don't condone pagan worship or anything, but we certainly don't have a problem with costumes, candy, and fun decorations. We do, however, tend to stick with decorations of God-made creatures, such as cats, spiders, rats, etc.

Ruf got the Halloween decorations out of the attic yesterday, and we put them out this afternoon. Much of it is homemade. Martha Stewart has some of the best Halloween crafts around, in my opinion. Two years ago her magazine had lawn ornaments of cats and a witch. I showed Ruf the cats and begged him to make them for me. He's a sweetie, so he did. We put spotlights behind them, so they're silhouetted at night. Very cool.

Last year's Martha magazine showed a cat mask tied with a ribbon around the face of a pumpkin. The pumpkin is cut to fit the mask's cutouts. I really liked it, so I went to Kinko's to have the mask printed out on the proper paper, then I bought a foam pumpkin at a craft store. Tres cute and easy!

The October 2003 issue of Living had a cool article about spooky porches. There was a how-to for a spider egg sac that was super easy to make. It involves nothing more than white pantyhose, a foam ball, some batting, and a whole bunch of plastic spiders. I need to make the webbing a bit more wispy, but this is how they look after 4 years and just having come out of the box for this year.

I don't do much indoors, but I do have some cute little candle holders. The top of our new TV was an empty canvas for them.

A year or two ago, I bought this cute bucket for our candy. I'm all about cats.

We still need to buy some spiderwebbing to string across the porch. We threw it all away last year because it was nasty after being out in the elements. But we do enjoy decorating with fun stuff for this holiday.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Repurposing furniture

Last week we were given a really big TV by my parents. This meant that a bookshelf and our former TV cabinet were displaced. It seemed like there was nowhere else for this TV cabinet, but I didn't want to get rid of it because 1) I think it's beautiful, and 2) it's Ethan Allen. You don't just get rid of Ethan Allen; it's the good stuff!

While working in the kitchen last night, I had an idea. When Ruf and I were first married, we were young and not particularly well off. We were also living in an apartment with inadequate kitchen storage. We had no place to put our beautiful wedding china and crystal. We found a pseudo-china cabinet for $150 (this was back before I knew about checking thrift shops or antiques stores for the good stuff). It's not particularly nice, but the price was right and it served our purpose.

A few weeks ago, I decided to get rid of our white, everyday dishes because the set was incomplete and a few plates were damaged. I had 4 sets of dishes, so it's not like it was hurting us. I decided to use my parents' old wedding china as everyday stuff, meaning I now put it in the dishwasher (with no ill effects, I might add!). That cleared up some cabinet space in the kitchen, so I moved much of my crystal to the cabinet that had been cleared out. I also purged a few things I haven't used in years (if ever).

Then, Ruf and I moved the cheap, old cabinet out and moved the former TV cabinet in.

It beautifully fits my pastry board, platters, crystal, etc.

An added bonus is that my sister gave me a Southern Living plate several years ago. You can use a dry-erase marker on it to write messages. I've never used this plate because I just didn't have a place for it. Now I have a big blank wall opened up, so I found some ribbon to lace through it, made do with an overhead marker left over from my teaching days, and hung it on the wall. Please excuse the crooked writing; I'll need to re-do that.

The wall needs more (really it needs to be painted, but that's for another time), and I remembered that I have 5 or 6 silver crosses I'd bought years ago in Canton. I'd never found a place for them, but I think I've got one now! Redecorating without buying a thing is great! You just have to be a little creative when repurposing items.