Stephanie Goes to CONvergence 2014

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I think a CONvergence recap is long overdue!

CONvergence is a small(ish) convention, at least in comparison to Wizard World cons and C2E2. It happens at the Double Tree in Minneapolis every year around the 4th of July. And the purpose of the con? To party! At least that’s the purpose for my friends and I. I’ve never been much of a panel person. I generally attend conventions for cosplay, photoshoots, celeb meeting, and general fun with friends.

CONvergence is a much more intimate convention. The layout of the main area is two floors of cabana rooms that, once it strikes 8PM, turn into themed party rooms ranging from the Star Wars Cantina, House of Toast (where you can get literally anything on a piece of toast), Supernatural, Portal, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and a ton more. Every room is decked out in honor of its theme and the best thing about CONvergence? All the drinks and food are completely FREE. (Tips are encouraged, of course!) Not to mention the epic Con Suite, which offers free snacks, rice, soup, and more all weekend!

Many people complain about the high price of conventions, but for all the free things you get for four days, there is no better deal than CONvergence.

I cosplayed Buffy on Friday, finally busting out my scythe for the first time. I need to do a legit photoshoot in this outfit! And on Saturday, I dressed as Helena from Orphan Black. I partied a little too hard on Friday night, so I looked appropriately cracked out, even without Dawn’s awesome make-up assistance. A few people asked me if I was going to cosplay that day while dressed as Helena–guys, I don’t really look that crazy normally!

The running joke for me at the convention is that a lot of people have told me for years that I look like Billie Piper aka Rose from Doctor Who. But it seems to happen constantly at CON. I definitely appreciate this compliment since Rose is super awesome and pretty. But I am asked if I’m cosplaying Rose, even while wearing a Buffy shirt and holding a stake/scythe, so it becomes sort of a hilarious game. And I most definitely got asked if I was Rose when cosplaying Helena. I cannot escape! Haha. I had intended to solve this problem by actually cosplaying Rose, but I didn’t have time to finish her 50th Anniversary outfit. Next year, hopefully.

All in all, the con was lots of fun. It was great to see my Minnesotan friends, drink with new friends, and just enjoy silly times. Apparently on Friday, I was just a crazy ball of energy, so I think I used way too much of that to handle Saturday. CON without drinking can be a little boring–though I still had fun. I’ve learned my lesson to pace myself a little better next year and especially for Dragon*Con. ;)

On to the photos!

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Dawn in her Westeros map dress!

GRRM with two of his deceased characters. Ha!

GRRM with two of his deceased characters. Ha!

Party hard, Bobby B!

Party hard, Bobby B!

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Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #5

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The fifth issue of season 10 concludes the five-part story of New Rules. When we last left Buffy and co., Dracula was turning into an Old One, the one Buffy actually fought in the Deeper Well in season 9 thanks to a bad rewrite of some rules in the Vampyr book.

Spoiler alert!

Dracula is disappearing into the Old One, which means his hold over Xander is also waning. Xander starts to see Ghost Anya (“don’t call me that!”) again, who snaps him back into action.

They end up stopping the Old One and saving Dracula through some pretty unorthadox means: giant Dawn, Willow flying in a priest to bless a giant stake-shaped building, and Dawn staking him.

Xander rewrites the rule book to save his pal Drac and himself from his influence:

“Dracula’s awesome willpower gave him the strength to fight off Maloker and give up the new powers he’d acquired….Everyone Dracula had power over also found themselves free.”

“Hmf.”

Drac and Xander bid farewell and they all return to Xander’s place. They all spend some time trying to figure out who should write the new rules of magic. Buffy obviously turns to teen!Giles, who remains my favorite ever:

“Were I my old self perhaps, but as I am experiencing physical withdrawal after a few hours away from Pimp Slap IV…I may not be the most mature choice.”

Ultimately, they decide to write the book as the Scooby Gang, together.

Xander and Dawn finally have a heart-to-heart. And Buffy and Spike have a really cute conversation that made me all teary. Buffy emotions, man! I can’t handle them!

All in all, this was a fun opening story arc for season 10. I’m looking forward to seeing what more havoc this book creates!

Pick up your copy of Issue 5 over at Dark Horse or at your local comic book shop!

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Stephanie Cooks: Cheeseball Recipe

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It’s been a rough few months for my family. I lost my granddad back in February and just last week, I lost my grandma. (Hence the lack of updates.)I’ve been going through a ton of memories with my mom and other family members, and one thing that stuck out was that every holiday, my grandparents would make this amazing cheeseball.

My granddad gave me the recipe when I wanted to make it for a Mad Men party I had a couple years ago. And I think it came out really well when I did. I remember I called him while grocery shopping to see if some things I found were acceptable substitutes since Chicago grocery stores didn’t have the exact same brands and I called him a few days later to report on my success.

Maybe I’ll start making it for all the family holidays. It’s super tasty and my favorite pre-holiday dinner snack, so why not!

The recipe is:

  • 12 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 10 oz. blue cheese spread
  • 2 tablespoons of minced onions
  • 1 tablespoon of Worchester sauce
  • Mix all the above ingredients together, then chill the mixture in the fridge
  • Once chilled, roll in a mixture of parsley flakes and walnut toppings
  • If you’re feeling fancy, add a cherry in the middle (my granddad always did!)
  • Dip a cracker in and enjoy!

Stephanie Celebrates 4th of July

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I imagine that right now, as this is posted, I am getting ready to head over to to CONvergence with Dawn and Brad. And that means I’m in Minneapolis right now! If you’re also heading to CONvergence, look for me as either Buffy or Helena from Orphan Black! (Not sure what my costume schedule is just yet, but I’ll be a blonde chick of some sort!)

Otherwise, have a great 4th of July celebration!

I hope you eat some delicious barbecue, soak up the sun, and watch some fireworks!

If you want to follow my weekend CON antics, follow me on Instagram @screts!

Stephanie Cosplays Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Graduation Day”


Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Episode: “Graduation Day”

Cons: CONvergence 2011, 2013

Status: Retired (because there’s no way those pants fit anymore), but I’m working on new Buffys!

This costume was basically all e-Bay/store bought. I purchased my stake from what used to be buffystore.com (yeah, I’m not cool enough to whittle my own).  My dad got me the “official” Angel necklace as a gift. I got a Claddagh ring from a local jewelry store. And I’m already blond!

In honor of CONvergence this weekend, I thought I’d share photos of my first “real” Buffy costume before wearing my new one, complete with scythe. Unfortunately, my beloved stake Mr. Pointy was lost last year. That’s what I get for putting it in my back pocket!

Anyway, enjoy the photos and marvel at how young I am since I’m pretty sure these are at least six years old.

And now a slightly different outfit from 2011, but still a goodie:

Stay tuned for NEW Buffy cosplay. :D

Stephanie Reads: The Book Blogger Test

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Hey, ya’ll! Rachael C Marek tagged me to fill out The Book Blogger Test. And why not? I’m trying to get back into reading a lot more, so this is a great thing to think about.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone:

1. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

2. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

3. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (I recommend you REread it because it was 800 million times more enjoyable the second time around and has become a favorite for me.)

Describe your perfect reading spot.

I always have problems attempting to read outside, either the wind or bugs or too bright or whatever, so it’s not as glamorous as I wish it was. I prefer the old classic spot of reading in bed late at night before sleep.

Tell us three book confessions.

1. I prefer to reread a book I’ve already read a million times than to try something new.

2. It will either take me 3 days or 6 months to read a book, no matter the length. There is no in between. Case in point: I read the first four ASOIF books in about 2 weeks, while ADWD took me 6 months to get through for some unknown reason.

3. I enjoy reading really silly, not very well written books as a nice mental escape. For example, I’ve read all the Sookie Stackhouse books. Totally silly books, not very well written or complicated, but easy on my brain after a long day.

When was the last time you cried during a book?

All of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, obviously. Haha.

What are your top three book hates?

1. Lack of copy-editing. My brain can’t turn it off, so when I see a glaring error, typo, or grammatical issue that was clearly not intended by the author, I can’t help but get all twitchy and judgey about the editor.

2. Chapters that are too long. That sounds silly, but as someone who reads before I sleep, I like knowing there is an end in sight where I will be able to have something be “complete” in a sense. I HATE taking breaks mid-chapter.

3. When I have to wait several years for the next book in a series to come out… AHEM. (Lookin’ at you, Georgie…)

How many books are on your bedside table?

Just one: Apocalypticon by my new(ish) friend Clayton Smith. (When I finally finish it, I’ll post a review because it’s really fun so far!) Aside from that, my iPad mini sleeps next to my bed, which has a zillion books and comics on it. I’m re-reading A Dance with Dragons, as well.

What’s your favorite snack to eat while you’re reading?

I generally don’t eat while I read, but I would probably snack on something like pretzels so as not to get any weird Dorito stains on the pages. Haha. If I’m reading and want to stay awake, then I’ll chew gum.

Show us a picture of your favorite shelf on your bookcase.

I would, but I’m moving, so all my books are packed away already! And I want to revamp my bookshelves anyhoo. I’m sure I will post pictures of my new apartment once we’re all settled. :)

Write how much books mean to you in three words.

Escape, connection, reliable.

What is your biggest reading secret?

Takako Chigusa and Cersei Lannister are my favorite book characters of all time!!! Not really a secret, I guess.

Who I’m Tagging:

Anyone who feels like filling it out!

Stephanie Reads #GIRLBOSS

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I know a little something (too much, actually) about selling designer and vintage goods on eBay. My first job after getting my master’s degree in writing and publishing was as a copywriter for a company that did exactly that. (Yeah, not exactly what I envisioned for my career, but it was slightly better than data entry. Okay, it was data entry, just not with numbers.) I stayed there for about 9 months before I needed to quit because it was so mind-numbingly boring and uninspiring.

Yes, seeing designer goods, like gorgeous Chanel bags and the occasional Vivienne Westwood jacket (my favorite designer) come through was exciting. But when you’re writing descriptions for the items, trying to pick out defects and stains, and not actually wearing them, they lose a lot of their glamour.

So, I was intrigued by this book about a woman who started her own eBay business selling vintage clothing and turned it into a real live million dollar online store that sells both vintage and new. Everything she talked about was very familiar to me, so I could relate to a lot of the details of the business and how it all worked.

Sofia was also very relatable and funny in the way she spoke about her early life of being a rule-breaking ragamuffin into becoming CEO of her own business. And her describing how she wrote detailed descriptions of every item to get the wording right so it would be more appealing to customers was all too familiar! I enjoyed her candid writing throughout and felt like she was being open and honest about her experience.

While she gives some good advice throughout, it was also pretty generic advice. Granted, it’s nice to see these generic “ra-ra go you!” mantras reinforced into my brain, as I would like to someday be my own #GIRLBOSS. But more advice specifically tailored to the industry would have been interesting and enlightening. I’m sure countless girls want to get into the fashion industry in some way. Hell, that’s why I was a lowly copywriter for so long. She seems to gloss over the most important parts of how she went from eBay business to CEO. We’re missing the business strategy details, the marketing details, networking, etc. I don’t need a how-to guide, but I would have been interested in more of the challenges she faced.

I found her information about resumes and cover letters to be the most helpful. And truly, the stories of her past were the most fascinating parts. I think the fact she considered making a sandwich at Subway as another form of art was really sad, but also heartwarming. It shows that you work with what you have and make do.

I appreciated that she put in snippets of advice from other #GIRLBOSSes in the industry at the tail end of every chapter. I found some new blogs to look at through those, so that was a good marketing strategy for those ladies.

While I would never want to be a copywriter again, I find the fashion industry fascinating and something I will continue to enjoy being a part of when the opportunities present themselves (can I please go to fashion week at least once?).

This book was a quick read, mildly helpful for the future #GIRLBOSS, and definitely honest.The fact that she rose to CEO in such a short time on her own is inspiring in of itself. All in all, I enjoyed it for what it was and found it very relatable.