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I Am Ready for The Solstice

It has barely started to look like Spring around here but my mind is already prepared for summer. While skimming through some of my photos I came across last year’s Solstice Parade photos and I was transported to my happy place amongst naked cyclists, zombies pulling floats through the streets, hammocks strung in the trees along the parade route full of Fremonters drinking IPAs, and as of late honk bands dancing through the street. I am ready for the Solstice. I am ready sun. In reality I would just even settle for some sun. Really, anytime now. Please?

In the spirit of the Solstice here is some inspiration to encourage the sun to peek out from its burrow and join us.



Poke Pillow Tutorial


Lego club ends with a rousing game of “guess the animal I am.” How or why this is such a hit is best left for another day, trust me. Kids jump around the room one a hawk another a worm.

“Who am I?” Squirt yells.

“Mew.” I say as she crashes to the ground and flops on her side and asks “how did you know? Who am I now?” Parents cock their heads and guess “um, fish?”

“No!” She happily squeals.

Their is silence as they look to me for the answer.

“Magicarp?” I say.

“Yes!” She jumps up turns into another Pokemon.

That’s our days now: “Guess which Pokemon I am, Mama.” The answer is almost always Mew, but she takes a level of joy in acting out Magicarp. Mostly, I assume, is because she Magicarp gets some serious air. She honestly thinks I am bordering on psychic when I guess Mew and turn out right. I tell her that is all part of the all knowing powers you get as a mom. So far that works.

In addition to my godlike abilities I have also been blessed with the magic of being able to create anything my child dreams up and let me tell you she came dream big and expects me to come through. Oh, the downside to convincing my daughter of my powers. I shall have to tweak this story for child #2.

Recently I was tasked with making a Mew for Squirt. This I can do. Then she wanted a life sized Mew that could attack. Crap.

So I made her a pillow instead an she was appeased.


  • Pillow
  • White Fabric
  • Pink or Purple Fabric
  • Blue Fabric
  • Red Fabri
  • Purple, White, Blue, and Black Thread
  • Felt or interfacing

I started by cutting out cutting out by cutting four white squares 1/2″ bigger then my pillow.


Setting two of the white squares aside I started by focusing on Mew. To get the basic shape of Mew I drew a large, bottom heavy oval with a smaller oval for the nose that is about 1/3 the size of the rest of the head on the purple fabric. Using scraps of the white and blue fabric cut out the eyes.  The size is roughly 1/2 the size of the head.


Place the eyes on the face and applique in place. Finish off the face by appliqueing a line to indicate the nose.


The next step is the ears. Cut out four triangles. It is okay if they hang over the side of the pillow edge. Place the right sides together and sew around the top of the ear leaving the bottom open. Cut out two pieces of felt that are smaller than the ear. Flip the ear right side out and place the felt inside.


Center Mew’s face on one of the white squares. Place the ears so they are sticking out from behind the head and applique in place. Be sure to make sure that the bottom of the ear is completely hidden under the fabric. These ears really like to pop out.


Set aside the Mew face and now it is time to work on the Pokeball. Using red fabric cut out 2 rectangles that the same width as the white square but half the size. Place one red rectangle on top of the white and Applique. Repeat with the second white square and red rectangle.


Cut out a circle to use as the center of the Pokeball. Since my fabric was a bit sheer I used two layers.


Place the white circle on the piece of fabric that you are going to use for the front of the pillow and sew in place.


With right side together place the remaining white square on the square that was just finished and sew around the sides leaving the top open. Then turn right side out.


Now it is time to finish! Pin Mews ears down. This way they wont get caught under the needle when stitching the sides.


Now it is time to create the fabric sandwich. Place the front and back of the Pokball together with right sides facing. Next place the Mew square on top of the font of the Pokeball square with the right side of Mew touching the plain white side of the Pokeball square. Sew along the top securing all three squares.

Fold the middle square (Pokeball front) so that it isn’t touching the sides of the other two squares. I folded and pinned into a triangle to keep this piece from flapping around during the next step. Line up the sides of the Mew and Pokeball back square and sew two of the sides. Leave one open to flip pillow case, insert pillow, and sew shut.


On the bottom of the pillow you can opt to add buttons or velcro to keep the pillow flap shut.


If you make your own Pokeball Pillow please share in the comments below or show me on Instagram @SamBranca

In Over My Head And I’m Ignoring It


A goal without a plan is just a dream. That my friend is the weak of heart. I say leave the plans to mice and men and jump into it blindfolded, feet first. Unless it is the zombie apocalypse. ALWAYS have a plan for the zombie apocalypse.

In about three weeks from now I planned on having a Samus cosplay for my daughter done as well as Historically Accurate Maleficent for myself to wear at Geek Girl Con. I started planning in January. I knocked out the Samus body suit then, well, summer break. As Squirt was heading out the door for her first day of I realized it was crunch time.

Maleficent is chugging along considering I have no clue what I am doing. The main part of the outfit is a houppelande which was popular in the late Middle Ages. Here is the thing: the only clue we have to their construction is from paintings that have survived over the centuries because none of the dresses survived. So how the hell does it all work? Well, thankfully there is a very active cross section of people who like to dress in period costume and they love posting tutorials. Only issue is that no one is sure of the construction and there are many theories on how to make them and just as many people against the theories with ideas of their own. What they do agree on is that they used about 10 yards of fabric and were made out of silks or brocade.

Deep breath.

Please just imagine 10 yards of fabric (on top of top the rest of the outfit) at a convention. Honey child, no. I am thinking of renaming my cosplay to As Historically Accurate As I Can Stand It Maleficent or maybe including as asterisk after the name and making my husband carry around the footnote of how I was trying to be historically on point, but prefer comfort to accuracy and that just to prove my point that I am wearing bunny slippers under the hoop skirt.

Where does that leave me? Well with five yards of the lightest fabric I could justify I have the base of my houppelande. Now to finish the sleeves collar and hem. Can someone do the for me? Please?

Next up the horned hennin. Oh how I hate the Middle Ages.

On another note…


Good news is that Samus is going swimmingly. Well, until Bubba decided that he really loved his big sister and needed to help her. Now the armor is a bit battle worn or at least that is what we are going with to spin the heartbreak of destruction he brought down.


Historically Accurate Maleficent


Oh Simplicty, destroying the best laid plans. I was going to make Bombshell Batwoman, but with the new Bombshell patterns they released this past week I am just going to cool my jets a bit and see if a Batwoman pattern appears anytime soon. Hey, why reinvent the wheel? If Simplicity wants to make the pattern for me I will let them.

Next up: Historically Accurate Maleficent by Claire Hummel

Those sleeve, the buttons, that hat. My god that hat. The sewer in me is having a small panic attack. I need to make this now. Lately I have been blindly stumbling through making Samus armor for Squirt. It’s kind of killing me. Learning a new skill is great, but part of me is yearning to get back into my comfort zone with the sewing machine and jump into the Maleficent challenge.

Breaking this down has been interesting but there are a few parts that are leaving me in a quandary.

Let me break it down.

Cape: This should be easy peasy pumpkin squeezey. It’s a pretty straight forward, black cape with some interfacing to give it height.

Houppelande: This is a bit trickey. I did find a site that offered some great theories on how to design a houppelande. Lots of applique waiting for me on this one. Oh my, I am going to hate app aren’t I? The detail here is going to come in with the dragons. Houppelandes were more elaborate and jewel encrusted the higher the status of the wearer. I doubt Maleficent had few who dared to compare to her.

Buttons: Planning on sculpty unless I find something better.

Divided Hennin: Oh this will be interesting. Again a few different theories on how to make this happen. Maybe felt. Maybe paper mache covered by fabric. This will be interesting.

Specter: Pretty straight forward, but I want it to glow.

Any tips or tricks you want to share? What are you working on?

Poison Ivy Shirt Tutorial 

Where did this Batman obsession start? One day my husband decides to read a Batman comic the next day we are trying to figure out Robin timelines, he is trying to convince me that I must read about the Court of Owls, and Batman stickers are covering his laptop. Then the shirts show up. The Husband gets one. Then Squirt, who needs to be exactly like her daddy, has to have one. Well, if she has one Bubba needs one because Squirt is his idol. That leaves me the odd woman out. It was decided that I needed a shirt, but it isn;t so much Batman that draws me into Gotham. It is the support characters who populate the city that interest me. Besides it is the Poision Ivy’s, Harley Quinn’s, and Jason Todd’s that add the spice to Batman’s life.
It was an image that I came across that pushed me to make my own shirt and because I can’t do the simple thing and print the logo on transfer paper and iron it on I do this:

I started by printing our a Batman logo. When it was the size I wanted I used it as the stencil to cut out a green bat. Using the same logo I trimmed about 1 centimeter off the edge and used that as the template for the black bat.

Now it is just centering the logo on the shirt and sewing them in place.
Using brown embroidery floss I laid out the vines on the bat, cut them, and glued the ends in place with fabric glue. Leave some vines hanging off the logo or do what I did and wrap them around the back for interest or to cover up bleach spot. I will never admit to which one was my reason…

The finishing touch is the leaves. I cut out several sided ivy leaves and sewed them in place on the bottom of the leaf leaving the top loose. To fill in the reset of the vine I used smaller leaves that are tacked on.

So what do you think? I am thinking of doing a series of shirts like this by mixing logo. Maybe a red Harley Quinn bat next?

Flash Fiction: The Hoard

Flash_fiction_zombiesOne moment my chopper was  navigating its way to the township when it all went wrong. There was an explosion, we were hit. We thought we were the only humans left until we were shot down, but there was no time to process this. Base camp was already transmitting info over the radio as we went into a tail spin. We were going down and there was a hoard nearby.

The parachute extended. As I slowly floated to the ground I could the tower.Two, maybe three miles in the distance. If there was any chance of surviving that is where I would have to go. But the hoard was between me and it. Luckily the noise of the crash was drawing most of them away, but there were still stragglers.

Hitting the ground I threw off my parachute. I saw the pilot land nearby but there was no time to search. He would know where to rendezvous. That’s when I heard the bone chilling scream. My heart stopped. Survival mode took over. I ran.

Every noise echoed in my head. Every gust of wind grabbed at me pushing me faster. My heart thumping, sweat pouring down my face and I hear it; a small cough. Startled I look over my shoulder. An older man is running beside me trying not to look in my direction but obviously eying me. Pushing the button on the treadmill I slow to a walking pace and pull out my ear buds.

“Sorry.” I say meekly. “I, um, it’s an app, to help me run. It’s zombies. They chase you. Well it is more complicated see I was on a mission to bring water back to my township when my helicopter was shot down. I landed in a hoard of zombies. I had to make it to the tower, the only safe zone, but the zombies were closing in on me. Almost didn’t make it.”

The man stopped walking and just glared.

“Strong imagination.”I say pointing at my head. “The zombie growls were very life like.” I add while quickly getting off the treadmill.


***Inspired by a true story.

Flash Fiction: The Flash

Sci-fi_flash_fiction.jpgThe flash in the sky was blinding. I was outside when the world just blinked. That’s what is was or at least the best way to explain what happened; it all just blinked. One moment I was watching my daughter, Miko, do flips off her swing, ringlets of hair wildly flying around and then was a blinding light followed by darkness.  It was as if the world flickered off and then right back on.

I waited with my eyes turned towards the sky waiting for something to happen, but nothing came. Nothing happened. Shutting my eyes I listened to the world that had fallen silent in a second. The birds had gone quiet. There was no sound of children coming from the school down the street. No wind gently rustling her hair. Even the smell of the world was wrong. A strong chemical smell came from the trees the yard reminding her of the tree shaped air freshener dangling from her cars rear view mirror.

“Mama, I’m hungry.” Miko whimpered as she dragged her feet on the ground below her swing.

“You just ate.” My stomach grumbled in agreement. “Okay, go inside.” Miko slipped off the swing ambled slowly towards the house. My stomach turned. Something was wrong but I couldn’t pin point the issue. My body felt sticky.

“Cereal?” I asked as I pulled the milk out of the fridge. Miko had flopped down on the table, head on her arms. “Love are you okay?” No reply as she looked back at me with dull eyes. “Here eat this.” I poured the milk into the bowl and was immediately  meet with a rancid smell. The milk poured out in chunks. “

“Honey, is your cell working?” John asked as he walked into the kitchen. ”My computer crashed a few minutes ago. I went to check the internet connection and it isn’t working. My cell won’t turn on and all the electronics are fried.”

“Wonder if it had anything to do with that flash?” I asked as I pulled out my dead cell.

“I guess.” He didn’t look convinced. “Sweetpea what’s wrong?” He placed his hand on Miko’s forehead. “Hun, have you taken her temperature? She is freezing.”

A knock came from the front door. “I’ll get it. You help her.”

Outside two lanky men in suits greeted me. “Hello ma’am. I am Agent Mallow and this is my partner Agent Kimley. We are with the CGC may we come in?”

“Um, sure.” They pushed past. Glancing outside it seemed that the entire neighborhood were getting similar visitors. “This is my husband, John and my daughter, Miko.” I say following them inside. “So the CGC you say?”

“Yes.” Mallow said.

“Is that related to the CDC?”

“Yes.” They both said exchanging looks.

“Wait, are you investigating an outbreak?” John said his eyes slowly widening with worry. “Miko, our daughter, she isn’t feeling well.” Mallow nodded to Kimley. “My partner will take a look at her. I have some questions first. How long has she been sick?”

“Um, well I’m not sure.” John stated struggling to remember.

“She was fine a moment ago. Before the flash she was swinging and afterwards she was listless. Was that it? Was it a terrorist attack? Biological Warfare?”

“No, no ma’am nothing like that, but the flash, you remember that? Anything else. Anything after?”

“No, just that there was a flash. Then everything was a bit off.”

“How so?”

“Well, the air was different.”

“What about it?”

“It was warmer.” I looked around the room trying to gauge everyone’s reactions.

“Yes, go on.” Mallow encouraged.

Straightening up I began again. “Well, the smells, of the trees smelled off.”


“Yes, like chemicals. And the birds. There was a new nest in the tree with babies. They were singing, but after the flash they stopped.”

“Well they probably scared by the flash you saw.” John said.

“No, that’s the thing. The nest wasn’t there anymore.”

Mallow was scribbling in his notepad.

“Is this really important?” I asked.

“Yes, it is. John did you see the flash?”


“Interesting.” He scribbled a few more notes.

“Now,” he said turning back to me. “Do you feel different.”

“Yes, a bit. Kind of plastic. And itchy. That kind of itchy when new skin is growing over a wound.”

Kimley backed away from Miko, walked over to his partner, and whispered in his ear.”

Slightly shaking his head Mallow looked over at Miko and back towards as Kimley opened a small box. “I’m sorry, but you were correct about her being sick. We do have something that should stabilize her and I am afraid the two of you will need to be to be vaccinated as well in case you have contracted it.” Kimley handed a needle to Mallow. He rolled up Miko’s sleeve and injected her with a clear liquid.

“Wait, hold on we didn’t give you permission.”

“Ma’am your daughter is very sick. This will help.” Kimley said as he prepared two more injections.

“It’s okay. She needs this.” John said as he rolled up his sleeve as an act of good faith.

“Okay, Mary your turn. Give me your arm.”

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“You told us. At the front door.”

“No, no I didn’t.”

“Your husband must have mentioned it.”

“No, I’m sure he didn’t”

“Well, it doesn’t matter now.” He said as he injected the needle into my arm. “In a few moments none of this will matter.”

My eyes started to twitch. I grabbed for the kitchen table as my body fell but I wasn’t in control of my arms. From the floor I could John laying on the ground on the other side of the table and Miko’s tiny hand hanging limply.

The world fades in and out. “Center of Genetic Control this Alpha 1.” Static rippled through my eyes. “We had a situation in Sector 183, block 873, unit 1,093. Yes, we terminated the specimens. One was a retainer and the other an defect. Please relay instructions…”

A sour metallic taste “Water.” I gasped.

One of the men gently lifted me off the floor. “Shh, don’t worry just be calm.”

“I need help.” I pleaded struggling to speak. “Am I dying?”

“The real you died 1,000 years ago. You are a clone of the real Mary Stockhouse.” His eyes softened. “The flash was both the ending and beginning of your world. It ended with a meteor strike. We cleared the last few memories that would could of the world dying that happened in the weeks after. We had been watching, cataloging your planet and species for a long time. When we were able to we brought as many of you back as we were able to and placed you in the last memory before impact. So the flash was your world ending and being restarted.”

“But why?”

“That whys aren’t important. As you can see we haven’t worked out the kinks. You shouldn’t have remembered the flash or noticed any differences in your environment. We can’t have that. Too many loose ends. And then there is your little one.” A sympathetic smile crossed his face. “Some of you ended up getting sick. We aren’t sure why but we know it is a defect on our end. We need to contain it. Learn from it”

“But John, he didn’t remember. He wasn’t sick.” My voice barely audible.

“Loose ends.”

“Loose en….”Sci-fi_flash_fiction.jpg