More Marvelous Merchants at GeekGirlCon 2015

Conventions are one of the best ways to discover independent and creative small businesses sharing their love of all things geeky. Last year I brought you my choices for just some of the amazing booths featured at GeekGirlCon.

This year, I picked five more with online storefronts so that you too can pick up some of their amazing and unique creations.

Continue reading More Marvelous Merchants at GeekGirlCon 2015

The Perfect Jewelry for Cosplay and Everyday

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Some favorite pieces. Photo: Martha Lewis.

Here at GeekMom, we frequently share DIY cosplay ideas. Those include everything from the costume itself to the best accessories. Maybe you’re looking for a steampunk gypsy hairpiece or tips for Big Hero 6-themed family cosplay. How about the perfect jewelry to go along with your costume? Last week, I had an opportunity to interview Martha Lewis, crafter and jewelry designer. She repurposes older, and sometimes incomplete or broken, pieces of jewelry into new works of art appropriate for cosplay and everyday.

GeekMom Maryann: Hi Martha Lewis! Welcome to GeekMom, and thanks taking the time to talk to us about your passion for jewelry making.

Martha Lewis: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my jewelry.

GMM: When did your interest in jewelry making start?

ML: After 33 years working for the Henrico County Police and Sheriff Departments in Virginia, I retired on January 1, 2011. A month later, I signed up for a beginners jewelry-making class offered through the county for $6. I went to my first class, and two hours later, I left with five pieces of jewelry that I had just made. The skills I learned in the class evolved into a love for creating and designing one-of-a-kind jewelry items. I found that I have a real knack for recycling loose beads, broken bracelets, and tangled necklaces and morphing them into new meaning for each unique piece.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
A wonderful combination of treasure chest and lock. Ahoy mate! Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Who was your inspiration?

ML: My grandmother, Edith, and her namesake, my mother. They both loved colorful and shiny jewels. With the passing of each, I was afforded the privilege to be the new owner of their trinkets. Since they both grew up and lived on the York River, as did I, EdithYorkinspired was chosen as the name for my jewelry line.

GMM: I understand that you have memories of a favorite childhood piece that belonged to your grandmother. Can you tell us a bit more about that piece and why it speaks to you?

ML: When I was a child, my grandmother gave me an opal ring surrounded with rhinestones. I loved wearing it, even though it turned my finger green! I still have the ring, and I will always cherish it.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
An eclectic combination of brass elements combines for a beautiful necklace. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Can you tell us a bit more about where you find the pieces for your designs? Sometimes at local thrift stores, I see bags of broken pieces of jewelry. Do you snatch those up?

ML: I find a lot of vintage jewelry at estate sales and auctions. Typically, there will be a box or bag of broken and tangled jewelry up for sale. More often than not, I bid on the unknown. Once I get home and rummage through it, it’s always a surprise to see what I can actually use. I have gotten some pieces from thrift shops, but I find that most of their grab bags are costume jewelry.

GMM: How long does it take you to make your pieces?

ML: Since each piece is unique, that plays a big role in how long it takes to complete. If I finish a piece but am not pleased with it, I will break it down and start over.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Making use of old timepieces. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Can you tell us a bit about what goes into the creative process to take a bag of loose beads, pendants, etc. and form a vision for the new piece?

ML: Usually, I will decide on a pendant, or main focal point and go from there. Coordinating beads, chains, charms, and a clasp are all decided on before I begin crafting.

GMM: Are you aware that some of the pieces you create fit in nicely with cosplay and steampunk? I’ve seen clocks, keys, owls, and other wonderful vintage items in your jewelry.

ML: When I first started this hobby, probably 75 percent of what I was making was related to or referred to as steampunk. I still make that style along with beaded items. Since each piece is created from a vision, it pretty much depends on my thought pattern at that moment.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Tools of the trade and a wonderful assortment of pieces to work with. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: I understand that you previously sold your jewelry at local consignment stores and through Bling of the Past. How can interested buyers view the current pieces you have for sale?

ML: In June 2015, I launched EdithYorkinspired on Etsy. I plan to add new items on a regular basis to hopefully capture repeat viewers and lots of sales.

GMM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to the GeekMom readers about your wonderfully unique jewelry items.

ML: It was my pleasure, and thank you for offering to spotlight EdithYorkinspired.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Beautiful green-themed owl. Photo: Martha Lewis.

Like what you see? Martha would love to have you visit her EdithYorkinspired Etsy store.

Pirate vs. Ninja Christmas

Image By Rebecca Angel

In my house, there is a year-long… shall we say, “disagreement” between my son and I. He is a ninja fan, and I am most certainly pro-pirate. Both of us share a love of Christmas, so naturally our inclinations come into our decorating and festivities. Or maybe not “naturally”–but mashing two unrelated things together does make us giggle.

Now obviously pirates would be more fun at Christmas time than ninjas. Carousing! Singing! Hot Buttered Rum!

Pirate Christmas – by Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew

But Santa is most certainly a ninja as “Ask A Ninja” explains. Probably one of the best lines about Santa’s suit I have ever heard: “The red comes from the blood of children who have woken up in the middle of the night…”

What about decorations and gifts? This pirate stocking really puts me in the spirit:

But then I came upon these Ninjabreadmen cookie cutters.

What about entertainment? I found a Facebook page for a ninja Christmas show, but no real details on it. Yet there is a published children’s musical called “A Pirate Christmas“. Obviously, pirates win on that one.

What do you think? Pirate Christmas? Ninja Christmas? Or, why do people try to ruin a perfectly peaceful holiday with karate and rum?

Hacker School Offering Grants to Diversify the Programmer Demographic

Photo credit: Hacker School
Photo credit: Hacker School

You may have heard that there’s not a lot of women in the programming industry. In early 2012, Hacker School—think of it as a 3-month immersive retreat where programmers can hone their craft—announced a partnership with some leading software companies like Etsy to offer ten $5,000 grants for women who wished to attend.

Hacker School wanted to diversify their student body, and over the last couple of years, they have managed to increase their female student body from 5% to 35% through these grant programs. Today, Hacker School announced they are pushing the definition of diversity to include other minorities that are under-represented in programming: African Americans, non-white Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. They want their students to be a better representation of the demographics of America.

I had the chance to chat with Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock, who co-founded Hacker School alongside David Albert and Sonali Sridhar. Nick explained why it was important to Hacker School to see more diversity in their student body, and I think the same logic very much applies to the benefits of seeing a greater diversity in any workplace.

The first reason why Hacker School is committed to seeing this change happen in their demographics is that their top goal is to build an environment where people feel safe and comfortable to expose their ignorance and learn through it. A big part of that is making sure no one feels alienated, whether that may be due to their gender, skin color, socio-economic status, or ethnicity. The second is that, at Hacker School, so much of the education comes from students learning from each other. If every student came with the same background, it would be a much less viable experience. The more diverse Hacker School becomes, the better the experience.

While Hacker School is actually free, they understand that living near the school’s location in New York for three months is anything but. Something that has changed over the last two years of grants is that they also offer an option, not only to apply for a grant, but to specify the amount you would need to make this experience possible considering your financial situation, from $500 to $7,000.

The grants available for the next year of students has been made possible mainly by Etsy, Juniper Networks, Perka, Betaworks, Fog Creek, and Stripe. Of the money donated to Hacker School for the grants, 100% goes directly to the people who need it. It should also be mentioned that Hacker School takes it seriously that every applicant be judged based on the same standards, the bar isn’t lowered for women or minorities or applicants requesting the grants. They automatically create a pseudonym for applicants so that the people reviewing them are not influenced by the gender or ethnicity of the name. There may be other information in the applications that reveal these details, but it helps the reviewers remain unbiased and really focus on the applicant’s qualifications and code.

If you are interested in applying to Hacker School, they work on a rolling admission so you can apply at any time. If you are accepted, you may be able to attend your preferred “batch” (each 3-month group is called a batch) or, if that batch is full, you’ll have the option to select another batch. Good luck!

Geeky Gifts For Twins

A friend of mine recently found out she was having twins; double the joy and double the work! While she was being feted with an amazing Dr. Seuss-themed Thing 1 and Thing 2 baby shower, it occured to me that there must be an array of gifts for twins with a geeky twist.

As luck and the internet would have it, I found an overabundance of fun and hilarious geek-themed twin products that left me wishing I was having multiples of my own. Here are some fabulous ideas for geeky twin gifts:

Copy Paste onesies by ToLTot on etsy
photo by ToLTot

Copy Paste Onesies from ToLToT on Etsy

I just about died when I saw these “CTRL C” and “CTRL V” onesies! Computer geek parents will find these absolutely hilarious. Meanwhile, older relatives at a baby shower might not get the joke. Just saying.

Fred and George Weasley decorative pillows by Telahmarie on etsy
photo by Telahmarie

Fred and George Weasley Pillows by telahmarie on Etsy

It may be stereotypical that twins are mischievous, but Hogwarts’ most entrepreneurial twosome don’t do much to break that cliche. Fred and George Weasley are always up to something, but always have each others’ backs. These adorable Fred and George decorative pillows even bear their famous initial sweaters and would be the ideal finishing touch on a geeky nursery.

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch print by Rinikokeshi on etsy
image by RiniKokeshi

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch Print by RiniKokeshi on Etsy

These boy/girl twins have been upstaged by their father in comic book movies so far. However, with the next Avengers movie, everyone will finally be introduced to Magento’s Marvel offspring, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These two mutants are super kawaii in chibi form, and this print would be a fun addition to a shared sibling kids room.

Luke and Leia DIY costumes by Professional Twin Mommy
photo by Professional Twin Mommy

Luke and Leia DIY Outfits by Professional Twin Mommy

Luke and Leia are another pair with an infamous father, but these two are heroes through and through. On her blog Professional Twin Mommy, Maggie Martin details how she came up with these Luke and Leia costumes and it’s so easy, you’ll be wondering how you didn’t think of it first! The simplicity of it this so brilliant that you’ll think it’s a Jedi mind trick.

Super Mario Bros Mario and Luigi hats by HookLineandStitch on etsy
photo by HookLineAndStitch

Super Mario Bros Mario and Luigi Hats by HookLineAndStitch on Etsy

If your little twin gamers are busy battling Koopa Troopas, these are the perfect hats for you. Hand-stitched, these oversized Mario and Luigi hats not only make fabulous costumes, but they’d be great for everyday cosplay!

NES controller tees by Twinzzshop on etsy
photo by twinzzshop

Nintendo Controller A and Controller B Tees by twinzzshop on Etsy

These NES Controller A and Controller B tees are more than just funny, once you realize that these twins probably are the ones who really control the household! Gen X parents will love these handmade tees that are a nod to the old-school gamer days.

GeekMom 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Clothing

Is there a geek in your life who wears their geekiness everyday? Many of our GeekMoms suggest these fashionable accessories and pieces of attire as gifts this holiday season.

Book Scarf Image www.etsy.comshopstoriarts
Book Scarf. Image: www.etsy.comshopstoriarts

Storiarts Book Scarf Wrap the page of a good book around your neck. Storiarts Book Scarf™ is created from American-made, cream colored, super soft 100% cotton jersey knit fabric, about 65″ in circumference and 12″ wide. Fabric has been doubled over and sewn along the edge and at the center to create a thick, chunky, and moldable “page.” Choose a page from Sherlock Holmes, Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anne of Green Gables, and many others. We’re partial to The Raven. $42

Hadaki tote Image
Hadaki tote Image:

Hadaki Cool Tote This tote bag comes in seven cheery designs. Each can be wiped clean thanks to coated cotton, featuring 3 interior pockets, one exterior pocket, with plenty of room for your tablet along with other essentials. $50

ScotteVest Travel Vest
Scottevest: Image: Scottevest

Scottevest vests and clothing We all have many (too many?) gadgets that we carry around on a daily basis. Most clothes have pockets, but many aren’t designed for holding specific kinds of things, such as iPods, phones, even tablets. Scottevest is a company which makes versatile, high quality clothing in many different styles to hold all of our things, be they electronic gadgets or baby pacifiers. These are items that you will wear for the rest of your life. $125 for a vest

R2-D2 tunic: R2D2 hoodie. Image: Her Universe

R2-D2 tunic This R2-D2 tunic from Her Universe is a great gift for Star-Wars-loving GeekMoms, and it now comes in kid sizes, too! $40 (adult), $35 (kids)

TannimCustomChucks - Photo by Tannim, used with permission
TannimCustomChucks. Photo by Tannim, used with permission

Tannim’s Custom Chucks You know what your wardrobe is missing? A custom pair of Converse high tops that show off your fandom allegiance. Tannim’s shop covers everything from Game of Thrones to My Little Pony, and the Doctor Who versions are pretty spectacular. Orders must be placed by 11/15 at the latest for holiday shipping. $115

Screen Captures
Totoro Kigurumi Pajamas. Image: Amazon

Totoro Kigurumi Pajamas Adult full-length pajamas. Need I say more? There are also Totoro Feet Slippers if you wanted the full footie-pajama experience from your youth. $26

GoFollowRabbits skirts - Photo used with permission
GoFollowRabbits skirts. Photo used with permission

Custom Skirts by Go Follow Rabbits The incredibly cool Mars Rover skirt from Go Follow Rabbits was worn by one of our readers in our Geek Chic Fashion spread, and now we’re hooked. GeekMom Jackie is especially coveting the Doctor Who and R2-D2 skirts. Orders must be placed by 11/21 for holiday delivery. $45.99-$54.99

GapBatmanMittens - Photo from the Gap website
GapBatmanMittens. Photo from the Gap website

Gap Superhero Mittens Junk Food’s line of comics-inspired kids clothing is the best thing to happen to The Gap in a long time. Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman mittens are available. $16.95

Fullscreen capture 11102013 81107 AM
Lego Star Wars Crossing

Lego Star Wars Crossing Zone T-shirt Lego Star Wars guys re-creating the famous Beatles album cover. This shirt represents the best of building and music geekiness. $10.50

The Princess Bride Tshirt Image:
The Princess Bride T-shirt Image:

Princess Bride costume T-shirt We are huge fans of The Princess Bride in this household, so is it any surprise that I fell in love with this t-shirt featuring the very recognizable costumes of my favorite characters? Twue wuv! It is, however, inconceivable that they don’t offer a women’s cut. (You mock my pain!) $20

Lego Wrist Watch Image Lego
Lego Wrist Watch. Image Lego

Lego Brick Watch Check out this cool watch that looks like it’s made out of Lego bricks! $18.03

Design Your Own Geeky Jewelry With Moonkist Designs

Image: Moonkist Designs
Image: Moonkist Designs

Gena Robinson of Moonkist Designs has turned her love of metalworking into a business designing beautiful and geeky custom jewelry. I was fortunate enough to not only work with her to create a gorgeous set of rings, but to talk with Gena about the creative process and see how my rings were made from start to finish.

It all came about because in addition to making jewelry, Gena happens to work with author David Weber. He’s written the Honor Harrington series of novels, which, if you haven’t checked them out, are an addictive military science fiction series revolving around a female naval officer. We ended up connecting when David was scheduled as a guest on a podcast I contribute to called The D6 Generation.

Image: Moonkist Designs
Image: Moonkist Designs

As soon as I found out Gena designed geeky jewelry, I decided to interview her for my segment on the show and she decided to design a ring just for me. I checked out some of her creations which range from delicate, celtic wedding bands to steampunk engagement rings and had a hard time deciding, but Gena guided me through the process.

I wanted to be surprised by whatever she created, so I didn’t get too specific, but instead gave her a general idea of what I like and dislike in jewelry. I’ve got two kids, so big chunky stuff that can easily get caught or knocked out of shape was out. Same went for anything too delicate that couldn’t stand up to the day-to-day trials of being a mom.

What she ended up making was perfect!

Image: Moonkist Designs
Image: Moonkist Designs

Gena made a set of rings in sterling silver that look wonderful together, but I’ve worn them separately, too. One is a circuit board covered with a glass cabochon dome that is both beautiful and geeky at once. She paired that with a 6mm rose-cut citrine to make the set. Without ever meeting or even having a single phone conversation, Gena created a set of rings that couldn’t be a better match for me.

I interviewed Gena for The D6 Generation podcast and she shared a great story about how she came by the circuit board she used in my ring. It all started through her shop on etsy, where she had a conversation with a school in Alaska wishing to recycle a bunch of old circuit boards.

Image: Moonkist Designs
Image: Moonkist Designs

Since Gena strives to use recycled materials, she said yes to their offer. So, my ring started in a school in Alaska, travelled to Gena in South Carolina and then finally made its way up to me in New Hampshire. Even the metals she uses are often reclaimed from other sources, sometimes even broken jewelry no one wants.

Gena’s love of metalworking started back when she was just a kid and her parents got the family involved in the Augusta Gem and Mineral Society. That led to a job at a jewelry store when she was just 15 years-old. The bench jeweler there saw her interest and helped her learn the skills needed to make her own jewelry.

Image: Moonkist Designs
Image: Moonkist Designs

Now, Gena splits her time between “professional grown-up” helping wrangle David Weber’s busy life as a best-selling author and designing jewelry. You can see all her beautiful designs in the MoonkistDesigns etsy shop. Contact Gena if you’d like to have her design a geeky piece of jewelry that’s perfect for you!

Disclaimer: I received a set of rings for this post.

Soft and Creepy Felted Critters

By David Woehr of Grinning Narwhal Industries

As a crafter myself, I appreciate when artists make creations with fine material and time, time, time. At ConnectiCon this year, one vendor stood out with his felted creepy creations. David Woehr of Grinning Narwhal Industries puts such intense creativity into his work, I encourage you to check it out on Etsy.

What the GeekMoms Want for Mother’s Day


Each year, as we contemplate gift guides for Mother’s Day, we think about what we want for Mother’s Day. Chances are good your GeekMom will like this stuff, too.

Photo: Penny Arcade
Photo: Penny Arcade

Penny Arcade Match T-Shirts and Onesies: Mom and her Player 2 can team up in these cute matching tees. There are a bunch of different combinations available, including shirts for older kids and for Dad.



Photo: Oliver Jeffers for Digby & Iona
Photo: Oliver Jeffers for Digby & Iona


Oliver Jeffers Jewelry: Children’s author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers has turned his delightful illustrations into equally delightful jewelry, like this Paper Airplane necklace from his book, The Great Paper Caper.

Continue reading What the GeekMoms Want for Mother’s Day

In Defense of Jayne’s Hat Makers

Image: Mandy Horetski
Image: Mandy Horetski


Jayne’s yellow and orange hat is one of the big symbols of the Firefly fandom. I, like many other Browncoats, was disappointed to hear of cease and desist orders sent out to crafters of this unique hat by 20th Century Fox, who own the rights to the show.

Etsy stores often sell items from various fandoms that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Several years ago, I was in the market for a rainbow parasol for a Kaylee costume. I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I started painting them myself. I even sold them for a while in my now defunct Etsy store. I imagine that a lot of Jayne’s hat knitters got a similar start. Buying Jayne’s hat on Etsy and other sites was great for fans who couldn’t knit.

But now ThinkGeek has started selling the licensed version of Jayne’s hat. Several of my Browncoat friends speculated that this may be the end of fan made hats, and it seems that’s exactly what Fox would like to happen.

In addition to cease and desist orders, several Browncoats have found that their Etsy stores have been shut down. I know of at least one person who had their store shut down for selling other Firefly inspired items, but not Jayne’s hat.

The Browncoat fandom is in an uproar over this. It gives us another reason to dislike Fox. While I know that Fox owns the copyright, it is more than a little frustrating to be faced with this after many of these knitters have been making these hats for over eight  years. I also believe Etsy went overboard shutting down shops that weren’t even selling the hats.

ThinkGeek has been getting flak even though they weren’t really involved. In response they have announced this week that all of the proceeds from the sales of Jayne’s hat will go to Can’t Stop The Serenity. This makes me tempted to get another hat because I love supporting this Browncoat charity drive. It also makes me love ThinkGeek even more!

I’m sure this won’t stop Browncoat knitters from making Jayne’s hat, but they will have to be more careful when listing the hat for sale to avoid copyright issues.

Subscription Boxes for Gamers, Crafters, and Etsy Enthusiasts

The 8-Bit themed LootCrate. Image source:

Is there anything nicer than getting a package full of surprises in the mail? How about a package full of surprises in the mail once a month! I’ve noticed a growing number of monthly subscription-box services popping up lately; I decided to check out a bunch of them and report my findings here. Previously reviewed: Knoshbox and La Bella Box, two great gift ideas for adults; and for kids, there’s Wonder Box, BabbaBox, Kiwi Crate, Little Passports, and Green Kid Crafts. Today we’ll take a look at geeky, artsy, and crafty subscriptions for grownups.


LootCrate, pictured above, is a treasure box for geeks and gamers. This is a subscription service unlike all the others — the emphasis is on humorous, offbeat items with strong geek appeal. I know a lot of teens and college students who would enjoy a subscription to this Comic-Con-swag-flavored collection of oddments. The community of LootCrate subscribers has a lively presence on Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll find a slew of enthusiastic “unboxing” videos on YouTube after each new shipping date.

Sample contents: Each month’s box has a different theme; the one I sampled was “8-Bit — A celebration of retro gaming culture,” featuring 80’s Nintendo and Sega-themed gear. This included a Mario Power-Up energy drink; a tin of Zelda Shield mints that my teen girls fought over; a rather fabulous bendable Mario mustache that inspired a last-minute Halloween costume change for one of my daughters; a tube of blue raspberry-flavored “Nuclear Energy Powder” I haven’t been foolhardy enough to try; some retro gaming buttons; a whimsical Mr. T art piece; a d20 (naturally); a LootCrate sticker; and a pair of 8-bit sunglasses.

Monthly subscription cost: $19.37, which includes shipping. (You can cancel anytime). Paying up front for a three- or six-month subscription brings the rate down a bit.


Umba Box
Sample Umba Box contents. Image source:

Continue reading Subscription Boxes for Gamers, Crafters, and Etsy Enthusiasts

A $20 Box of Awesome: La Bella Box

La Bella Box
The October La Bella Box. Image source: Melissa Wiley.

Is there anything nicer than getting a package full of surprises in the mail? How about a package full of surprises in the mail once a month! I’ve noticed a growing number of monthly subscription-box services popping up lately; I decided to check out a bunch of them and report my findings here. Previously reviewed: Knoshbox.

La Bella Box curates an assortment of items from boutiques across the country. These may include artisan foods, handmade crafts, or health and beauty items. It’s an appealing concept: the chance to sample carefully selected items from Etsy shops and other makers, and at a quite reasonable price. The mix of edible and artsy items sets this subscription apart from the crowd.

Sample contents: The September La Bella Box contained handmade caramels by the Bubble Gum Art Co., some very cool Pure Raw Honey Tea from Honey Tea Thyme (you stir a spoonful into a mug hot water for an unusual and heartening drink), a reversible cloth beverage wrap by Joe Jacket, and some cold process honey soap from the Wild Herb Soap Co. The October box — well, this one, comprised totally of food items, made us swoon. Copper Ridge Simply Scrumptious Pumpkin Butter (a big hit with my kids), Chocolove Mini Chocolate Bar (I hogged it myself), La Spice The Walnut Company Cinnamon Spice Walnuts (my husband would like to order these in bulk), Magee’s Nuts Butternut Corn (think Cracker Jack, but eighty-seven thousand times tastier).

Monthly subscription cost: $20. (That includes tax and shipping.) Single box, three-month, and six-month subscription options.

Gift subscriptions available? Yes, including an email-notification option if you don’t have your gift recipient’s address on hand. At $20, this is an excellent gift idea.

Sample La Bella Box was provided for review.

Canning Jars: The New Travel Mugs

Canning jars are now travel mugs. (Image:

When I moved into my first apartment my drinking glass supply consisted of jelly jars and mason jars. They were cheap and sturdy. They also had the built-in perk of letting me put a lid on my drink to save for later or take with me. But not a lid I could drink through travel-mug style. I know, a burden.

Fast forward. Last January two innovators, Joshua Resnikoff and Aaron Panone, solved the problem with Cuppow. It’s a travel-mug lid made from phthalate-free, BPA-free plastic. You can order a lid to fit a regular or wide-mouth canning jar. Just pop it over the jar, screw on a ring, and you’re good to go. The lid and the minimal packaging it comes in are made in the U.S.A. The Cuppow makes it easy to slurp your smoothie, sip your coffee, or stick a straw in your iced tea.

If you want to dress up your take-along canning jar while cutting down on condensation, invest in a jar cover. artists have been busy creating some striking options. Continue reading Canning Jars: The New Travel Mugs

HandmadensCrafts: Geeky Aprons on a Budget

I don't just read comics. I wear them too.  Image: Brian Sullivan
I don’t just read comics. I wear them too. / Image: Brian Sullivan

While reading up on ways to improve my daily cleaning, I found a suggestion that said you should use an apron. I’ve never worn one before and never had any intention of ever doing so either. To keep with the spirit of the book, I decided to set out to find an inexpensive, but cute and geeky apron.

My first and only stop was

Star Wars Apron
The Force is strong with this one / Image: HandmadensCrafts

Etsy is filled with stores that sell everything from the standard apron that your grandmother might have worn, to the costumed apron for the Super parents out there.

I found several stores that sold things I liked, but none were in the price range I was looking for. Finally, I found what I was looking for in HandmadensCrafts’ store. The design of most of their aprons is the same, but what makes them all different are the various fabric patterns they use.

From funky patterns to super heroes, you can find an apron that will work for you. Each apron is handmade and can be done in an adult male or female form as well as children’s sizes.

With each ranging from $15 to $22, these aprons are a great fit for anyone on a budget.

Mother and Daughter / Image: HandmadenCrafts
Mother and Daughter / Image: HandmadensCrafts

As a mother daughter team, you know you are getting something made with love. Linnie started sewing when she was a child. Taking joy in making everything from her own clothes to prom dresses and even her wedding dress, she has passed her love of sewing on to her daughter.

They both enjoy the “therapy” it gives them to create and making things themselves. Half the fun for them is working on a new creation and seeing what it will look like in the end.

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

An Interview With Etsy and Hacker School About the Etsy Hacker School Grants

Etsy programer does user testing with a seller. Photo used with permission.

On Saturday, we shared the news about Etsy providing ten lucky programmer women five thousand dollars to attend Hacker School. Today, we have the whole story direct from the source. I interviewed Marc Hedlund from Etsy and Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock from Hacker School to get more details about the grants, the partnership between Etsy and Hacker School, and why Etsy wants more women in technology.

First, a little bit of background. Etsy is of course the Internet giant of handmade goods, a marketplace which we all know and love. Hacker School is a small project-oriented school where programmers can become better programmer in a safe non-judgmental environment.

Hacker School works in three month sessions, each hosted from various locations in New York. For the session of summer 2012, Etsy offered to host forty students for Hacker School, double the number of students in this current batch. Not only that, but Etsy also offered to contribute ten $5,000 grants to women who were accepted in Hacker School. While Hacker School is technically free, the grant money can be used to finance the students’ expenses while attending Hacker School in the Etsy headquarters in New York.

Hacker School

Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock
Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock. Photo used with permission.

Hacker School was founded by Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock, David Albert, and Sonali Sridhar. They saw some holes in the Computer Science education system and wanted a community where programmers could focus on developing their skills in a workshop/apprenticeship environment. When I asked Nick about what they thought the shortcomings were in Computer Science education, he replied:

“Traditional CS programs are good at helping people become good computer scientists, but they’re generally not good at helping people become better programmers. Understanding CS is a part of being a good programmer, but it’s only a part.

We think programming is a craft, and like any other craft, the way to become great is to do it a lot. That’s why Hacker School is project-based, and everyone codes on day one.

Another problem with traditional CS programs is that not everyone enrolled in them actually likes programming or even wants to be there. That’s not the case at Hacker School. Because there is no certification or grading, the only reason to come to Hacker School is to become a better programmer.”

During the application period for the last batch, Hacker School received 130 applications. They didn’t ask the applicants to specify their gender so Nick doesn’t have the exact numbers, however he estimated that the number of women applicants was definitively below 10%, and probably under 5%.

What does Hacker School look for in an applicant? “We look for people who love programming and want to become better hackers in the best sense of the word,” said Nick. “Beyond that, we look for curiosity, passion, raw intelligence and a desire to build things.” And that is a group of people I’d want to be a part of. Oh, to be young and free again, I’d jump on the occasion to participate in this program!


Marc Hedlund
Marc Hedlund. Photo used with permission.

Marc Hedlund is the VP of Engineering at Etsy. He was enthusiastic about Etsy’s partnership with Hacker School because of Hacker School’s approach to education. “We liked the approach they took to training people, and the emphasis on a supportive and collaborative environment. I also really liked the founders personally, and thought that what they are trying to build is admirable. Finally, it seemed like a great way to work on the issue of women in engineering, which was and is one of my major efforts at Etsy.”

As such, Etsy chose to stay uninvolved in Hacker School’s existing admission process. “We felt that Hacker School should continue running the program the way they have been — especially since we decided to work with them based on the way they were already running things.” Etsy will be providing space for the forty students in their spacious headquarters. “As we’ve expanded, we’ve taken on large areas in our building so we can continue growing. We’re planning to use two of those areas […] which we’ve acquired but not yet filled.”

I asked Marc if he ever felt a tug or disjoint managing a predominantly male group of programmers to design a website popular with a mostly female audience. “I try to build as much empathy in product development teams with the people using the product as I can; the predominantly female user base of Etsy suggests that having a heavily male development team isn’t the best approach for that. […] That tug and pull is present in every product team I’ve ever worked on — ones with strong female representation and ones without. But, I certainly think that many of the men on the team at Etsy use the site very differently than women do, and that having more women on the team will make our decision making stronger.”

As for why Marc wants to see more women in his programming team, he responds: “Well, there are lots of reasons. One of the more recent ones is that I have a three-year old daughter who I love and adore, and I want her to have every opportunity when she is older.”

Applications for Hacker School are open until May 7th, 2012. They may continue to accept applications beyond that date if they still have places available. There is a checkbox on the application to also apply for the grant. The grants will be distributed as first-accepted, first-granted, based on a statement of need.

Hacker School and Etsy Team Up For Scholarships To Support Women In Technology

Does this look like your bookshelf? Maybe you should apply to Hacker School. Photo by Flickr user Roo Reynolds.

Etsy is a popular site for selling (mostly) handmade goods. Hacker School is a free, three-month programming school in New York. Together they’ve announced Etsy Hacker Grants that to support women in technology.

Hacker School “batches,” or sessions, are held in different places. Last year’s were at NYU and Spotify. The current group is at Huffington Post. And the summer 2012 batch will be at Etsy. Etsy is putting up ten Hacker Grants of $5,000 each for women who need financial aid for living expenses to attend.


GeekMom 2011 Holiday Gift Guide: Etsy Gifts Part 1

Here at GeekMom we love handmade gifts and there is nowhere better to shop for something unique and lovingly made than on Etsy. The GeekMoms have rounded up some of our favourite Etsy stores to shop at this holiday season.

Art Geek

Art Prints © The Gorgonist
Art Prints © The Gorgonist

The Gorgonist makes stunning beautiful art prints featuring Firefly, X-Men, Lord of The Rings, Professor Layton and so many more that I couldn’t even begin to list them all. There’s also a range of steampunk paintings to choose from.


Retro Sci-fi and Fantasy Album Covers © Joebot

Joebot creates retro LP (remember them?) artwork based on sci-fi and fantasy classics. The prints are 12.5×12.5 inches so they look like “real” album covers and feature imaginative band names such as “River Tam & The Fireflies” and “The Frakkin Toasters”. You can even buy a double pack which includes the “back” of the album with a full track listing.

Cross Stitch Geek

Cross Stitch Patterns © Velvet Elvii
Cross Stitch Patterns © Velvet Elvii

I am a sucker for cross stitch patterns, the nerdier the better, and they don’t get much nerdier than these designs by Velvet Elvii. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, Harry Potter, Portal 2, The Hunger Games and even Inspector Spacetime all have patterns here. One of my favourites is a QR code that actually scans (assuming you stitch it correctly) to read “Home Sweet Home”. Be aware that some items in the store are NSFW although the words are crossed out on the main listings.

Cross Stitch Patterns © Crafty Companion
Cross Stitch Patterns © Crafty Companion

Crafty Companion is one of those shops that makes me squeal with excitement whenever I see that they have updated. In fact I just did when I went on to get the images for this post and spotted a new Christmas TARDIS pattern. Must. Buy. I have bought nearly every kit in the store now and the rest are on my “to buy” list because they are such good quality patterns that create amazing designs. The Star Wars/Shakespeare pattern is the hardest thing I have ever stitched and right now I am slowly working away at the Hogwarts Express.

Cross Stitch Patterns © Wee Little Stitches
Cross Stitch Patterns © Wee Little Stitches

Pixel art is very popular at the moment and it lends itself perfectly to cross stitch. these little pixel people from Wee Little Stitches work really well and the range of characters available is huge, from all manner of comic book heroes and villains through Buffy and The Princess Bride to Doctor Horrible. The shop also sells a variety of phrases and kawaii designs as well as the comic book alphabet above.

Cute Geek

Peg Dolls © Randomly Generated
Peg Dolls © Randomly Generated

There was a time when peg dolls were a common toy; that time has now passed but these peg dolls make me want to start collecting them. Available as both large scale sets and individual characters, Randomly Generated has a doll for everyone on your list from Top Gear’s Stig, to most iconic horror movie characters to Ziggy Stardust. As the company is based in Scotland, there are lots of British characters here too, not just American favourites like Doctor Who but lesser known ones like the cast of Red Dwarf too.

Kawaii Robot Sculptures © Lubu
Kawaii Robot Sculptures © lubu

Kawaii robots. To be honest I’m not sure if I even have to write more here, but I will. These adorable little robots by lubu are made from polymer clay and beads and they stand around an inch high. Elf bots, Marie Antoinette bots, Ninja Turtle bots and Harry Botter, there’s a lot of variety and on top of all that there’s a range of kawaii sculptures too. I’m particularly taken with the Lump of Christmas Coal but the pumpkin and gingerbread men are frakkin adorable too. Finally there’s a full robot nativity set too if you’re looking to geek up your nativity scene this year.













Toddler Dresses © Wild Things Dresses
Toddler Dresses © Wild Things Dresses











Wild Things is a clothing label which sells handmade toddler dresses in bright, retro designs – I adore this rainbow dress, it makes me wish I had a daughter. There is also a range of animal based character play dresses, aprons and accessories. The label has a Scandinavian feel to it and the vintage styles and patterns are a welcome change from much of the clothes available for little girls on the high street which often appear far too adult for many people’s taste.


Cute Bugs and Snakes © Weird Bug Lady
Cute Bugs and Snakes © Weird Bug Lady

Bugs and snakes may not be traditionally associated with “cute” but the items at Weird Bug Lady definitely are. The store stocks a range of plushie snakes, bugs and fossils as well as drawings, keychains and Christmas stockings. Zoologists will enjoy the fact that these creatures are entomologically (and anatomically) correct whilst kids will enjoy the fact that they make great cuddly friends – and that giant black widow spider would be great for scaring dad too.

Needle Felting Kits © Woolbuddy
Needle Felting Kits © Woolbuddy
Adorable made easy! These Woolbuddy kits come with everything you need including wool, felting needles, and step-by-step instructions to make squeal-worthy little critters. Great for beginners and experts alike.



What to Get Your GeekMom for Mother’s Day

Here it is, the definitive GeekMom Mother’s Day shopping guide. I surveyed my fellow GeekMoms to see what everyone most wanted for Mother’s Day, outside of the lovely pleasantries of nice meals cooked for us, time spent with our adorable children, and moments of solitude. This is our list, and chances are there’s something on it for the GeekMom in your family.

The Sims Medieval made it onto a few GeekMom wish lists this year, perfect for the GeekMom who wants to rule the kingdom. Then you can top off a day of gaming with dinner at Medieval Times.

16 rainbow-striped red resistors + 12 gold choke coils + 12 red and black diodes = geek chic with these earrings from Etsy seller girlgeekboutique.

For a GeekMom who travels with her lunch and wants to do it in style, give her the Thermos Dual Compartment Superman Lunch Kit with Cape. It also comes in Batman and Hello Kitty!

For the GeekMom who loves her iPod but would happily trade in playlists for liner notes, hop onto eBay or Craigslist and find her one of these amazing and stylish music credenzas. What home wouldn’t be better with one of these in it?

Sometimes mom just wants to curl up with a great new book, like Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake or GeekMom icon Tina Fey’s new Bossypants. If you could magically create time for her to read it, that would be awesome, too.

For lounging and gaming, give the Sumo Omni Lounge a try. One GeekMom described it as the Best. Chair. Ever.

While lounging, mom might want to enjoy her favorite beverage from a mug that’s perfect for her style, like this stoneware teacup from Bennington Potters or a Poppet mug from Momiji.

If yours is a steampunk-loving GeekMom, how about a lovely leather underbust corset?

Gardening GeekMoms will dig a Fermentation Pot to give a little culture to the veggies from the garden. Or give your GeekMom a Cast-Iron Griddle to cook up the backyard harvest.

If you read the Sleep Talkin’ Man blog, you’ll understand why a GeekMom will double over laughing if she receives this messenger bag that says, “Don’t leave the duck there. It’s totally irresponsible. Put it on the swing, it’ll have much more fun.”

Give a TV-loving GeekMom a box set of her favorite show, especially if it’s one you can watch as a family, like the Star Trek Voyager complete box set.

For some moms, gifts in tiny velvet boxes are a standby, surefire hit. The sure thing for GeekMoms comes in larger packages, say packages that are Nook Color-shaped, netbook-shaped, or the diamond of them all, the iPad 2-shaped.

Or, if she already has her dream device, pop over to Etsy and get her an handcrafted case, like these fabric covers from Etsy user dobeeubags.

Most of all, just throw some love your GeekMom’s way. And, as some of my fellow GeekMoms have pointed out, don’t forget to show a little extra love to the single GeekMoms out there.

Turn Lonely Gloves into Cute Critters

The book Happy Gloves shows you how to recycle your mateless gloves into new friends.

Rejoice! No more will lonely, single gloves hang about forlornly at the bottom of the laundry basket waiting for their perfect match to emerge from the vortex of the clothes dryer. In Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful Gloves author Miyako Kanamori shares instructions for turning those unattached gloves into tiny stuffed animals like the chipmunk pictured here. Stuck with more solo socks than gloves? Find craft ideas for those in the author’s earlier book, Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves.

Downloadable directions for the adorable glove-to-chipmunk transmogrification above can be found at etsy’s handmade blog, The Storque.