The Seven Magic Mountains

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Probably every Friday night that we don’t have kids, Payam looks at me with a gleam in his eye and says, “Wanna go to Vegas?” I usually roll my eyes because everybody knows I hate Las Vegas and everything it stands for. The nightlife, the gambling, the soul-sucking depressing-ness of old people sitting at slot machines watching their pennies dwindle to nothing by computerized dinging machines. The smoke, the drunk frat guys, the too-young girls dressed like prostitutes, the drugs, the poverty…all of it. I’d just rather stay in my bubble in California.

BUT I hate being that un-fun girlfriend, you know? I am so un-fun on a regular basis.  I can’t even stay awake to watch a tv show past nine pm. So I thought about it and remembering the last trip to Vegas that actually wasn’t that bad because we stayed in this really cool hotel called the Cosmopolitan said, “Yeah, maybe.” with a big fat IF we can find someone to watch our dogs AND we can stay at the Cosmo. Because I am a spoiled princess like that.

Pshaw! You already know what Payam said.

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He whipped out his phone, called the local vet, got our dogs boarded, with a bath even AND reserved a room at the Cosmo. Only one night but we figured we’d live on the edge and find another hotel for the next night so we didn’t have to bust our butt home and only stay one day.

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So yeah. We drove to Vegas at 7pm on a Friday night for “date night.” Not too shabby right? We also got McDonald’s for dinner because it’s kind of a romantic tradition and we didn’t want to waste too much time off the road. I slept most of the drive because I’m magical like that and when we arrived I was rested and ready to gamble! Or watch Payam gamble because I actually hate gambling because of my aversion to math and losing money. I hate it when Payam loses money too so I only let him play blackjack because at least it takes longer to lose money that way and you can sort of justify it as entertainment.

See what I mean by un-fun? But Payam loves me anyway.

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We stayed in my favorite hotel and I enjoyed the view on the balcony just as much as last time. Then the next night we switched to Vdara, the hotel next door for the next night. It wasn’t anything special but it did smell nice and clean because it is just a hotel and spa and they don’t have a smokey casino inside. So that was nice. AND Payam sent me off to the spa for a massage because I told him it was a better way to waste his money. Boy was it ever! It was soooo nice. Everything was “Miss Ponnay” this and “Miss Ponnay” that. I really really felt like a spoiled rotten princess.

I’m probably making everyone sick with how romantic and sweet Payam is but you remember the hard years… I’m so glad I went through everything I did so that I can really appreciate my life now. If I had met Payam right out of high school and married him and had fifty kids I would have been so awful, expecting this kind of life like it’s normal. I’m already probably getting awful. I have to check myself now and then.

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So yeah, it was super great! After we were already in Vegas, Payam decided to book a special dinner at Paris and we called it our “four year anniversary dinner” even though the day we decided was our anniversary (we aren’t really sure since we never really kept track) is the 30th. But nothing is set in stone. It’s been about four years, give or take a few days.

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Then on our way out of town we stopped off to see the Seven Magic Mountains and I took a zillion pictures because that’s what I love to do! That’s my kind of fun. Payam humors me.

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The magic mountains themselves are not really that big of a deal. You park, you walk along a dusty path and there they are. Just a bunch of brightly colored rocks stacked on top of each other. It won’t take you more than ten minutes to really look at them. What is amazing though is their contrast to the vast desert on all sides. The desert is so beautiful. Dust devils whirl in the distance and hills fade into gauzy purples and blues.

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I love it. I told Payam I’ll go to Vegas anytime he likes as long as I get a little photo trip out into the desert because it is good for my soul. I need it to offset all the bells and whistles and electronic circus that is the Vegas strip itself. I’ll always be a desert girl.

My Crazy DIY Cake-Lady Hat

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I have to quickly get this up (even though I have a million and five things to do today before my crazy spooky Halloween dessert party tonight) BECAUSE there might be somebody just as crazy as me who wants to make a cake hat for their Halloween costume!  Do it! Because it’s fun! Especially if you are like me and you like to play around with cardboard and a glue gun but then again, if you are like me and like to play around with cardboard and a glue gun, you probably don’t need a stupid flippin’ tutorial. I never follow tutorials. I just skim ahead and pay attention to the parts I have questions about. So feel free to skim along!

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First you need a big piece of cardboard. I recommend an amazon shopping prime account and an addiction to getting packages at your front door. It highly compliments a hobby in cardboard whispering. I used a big box about, I don’t know 14×18″ maybe?  Here are the measurements you’ll really care about: (Aren’t you proud of me for actually writing them down?)

  • 3 circles: 8″, 5″ and 2.5″
  • 3 rings: 14″, 8″ and 5″
  • 3 strips: 25″ x 8″, 15.5″ x 4.5″ and 9″ x 3.5″

These are give or take a half inch here and there. You can always trim to fit when you are assembling. But if you start with these sizes you’ll be good to go and will have a little extra.

Tools you will need:

  • a glue gun (duh) and plenty of hot glue sticks
  • a box cutter or exacto knife (preferably with a fresh blade)
  • a metal ruler
  • a self-healing mat or cutting board (don’t be like me and accidentally cut off your mat board and knick your table. Good thing our table is old and Payam loves me.)
  • spray paint
  • notions for decorating (I used ric-rack, pom poms, fake flowers and a bird but you could use anything really.)

Let’s do it!

After you’ve cut all your pieces you need to score your long strips. These are going to bend around in a circle to become  the round cake sides of your hat. The scoring assists in the bending. First score them once long ways. Where to score them depends on how high you like your cake sides to be. I made mine 4 inches high on the first tier and I think 3 and 2 inches high on the second and third, respectively. (I used an existing bend from my box but if you don’t have one just use the backside of your blade to create a very light cut along the top layer of the cardboard that will let it fold on that spot.)

Then you’ll need to cut narrow strips on one side of the long score line about an inch apart to create your tabs that attach to the rings. On the other side of the long score take that score line but turn it into a score instead instead. The cut strips are going to be the tabs that attach to the round ring brims of your hats the un-cut score lines are going to be the round sides of the cake. I know, this probably makes no sense. Just look at the pictures and if it still doesn’t make sense, email me.

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So you see the long strips roll up into the hat sides and the tabs fold up under the rings in a flare. Glue those tabs down to the rings. Repeat for each tier of your cake (I went from larger to smaller).

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In between the tiers that my head didn’t go through (the top two) I glued an extra disc (included in the above measurements) to make it easier to affix layer to layer. Then I attached the smallest circle to the top of the cake. Tah-dah! It’s a pretty sturdy cake once it’s all affixed and glued. I did cut my lower tier at an angle to be topsy turvy but I’ll leave that to the experts to figure out.

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Then I spray painted the whole thing with some chocolate brown spray paint and the underside with a quick coat of purple for added interest (not shown above).

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I glued on my ric-rack around the cake edges to look like fancy icing and then glued on some fake flowers for decoration.

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I searched around my whole house for an old black crow bird to put on top of the cake for that extra haunted touch but I think the cat got it an carried it under the bed or something because I couldn’t find it anywhere. My second choice was this mangled white bird left over from that year I decorated the Christmas tree with fake birds but it’s all gross too because the golden retriever got it. But whatever, it works! It’s a great way to recycle old things that maybe I otherwise should have thrown out.

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Then we put on our costumes and got ready for the Halloween dance at school. Leftover backdrops from Wonder Woman shoots work great for Halloween photo backdrops.

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Joon was an angel, naturally. Bug was supposed to be a devil (I even bought her a red leotard and a pitch fork and devil horns and I was all excited to paint her rain boots red and glue tissue paper flames to them) but she got another bee up her butt and decided she wanted to be a deer princess instead.

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That’s my girl. Deer in the headlights pose was her brilliant idea. She has such a wicked sense of humor.

So Happy Halloween! I know it’s probably too late but if you are a last minute crazy crafting queen like me, may the winds of the glue gun goddess be with you!