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!

When Life Gives You Jalapeño Jelly Rocks

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I have a little pepper garden in the back of my house. It wasn’t supposed to be a pepper garden. Payam built it for me to grow herbs but I threw in a few pepper plants because I wanted to make salsa. Over the years the pepper plants have somehow taken over and the herbs have retreated. I think there is a tiny bit of rosemary that is barely hanging on.

These pepper plants produce! They are small but mighty!  Cody helps me harvest them regularly. I think he forgets he does not like them.

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The other day when I got a big bag of jalapeños in my produce delivery box I decided something had to be done with all these peppers. I decided I would make jalapeño jelly, my favorite thing to put on bagels with cream cheese!

Problem is I’ve never really learned to can. I’ve watched my mom do it a thousand times and even helped her but I never really tried to can myself. So I called up my mom, got the basics down and headed for the hardware store to pick up jars. I chopped my jalapeños (With gloves on of course. At least I’ve learned that lesson over the years.) and started them boiling with all the added sugar. Which is a TON by the way. Maybe I lost track of how many cups I was supposed to put in and put in an extra…I don’t know!

I got distracted LIKE I ALWAYS DO. I am the queen of distraction. I am the absent minded professor of many creative projects going on all at the same time. Ooh, shiny thing! Next thing I know I was in the garage helping Payam with some design options for his cutting board business and when I walked back inside my jelly boiling timer had already gone off. I had no idea if it was one minute over or twenty. That is how deep into distraction I can get. Time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff

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Also I may have added two packets of pectin instead of one but I swear the micro-printed IRS form-esque directions inside the pectin box said to. Part one said: add one packet of pectin and then follow the directions to part 2. Part two said: add one packet (total 2). I swear!!! It said “total 2.” But then I threw the directions out because they were all sticky and I couldn’t pull them out of the trash because they were buried under other gross stuff so I can’t really prove anything.

Distraction + a possible misreading directions x2 variable = ROCK HARD JELLY STUCK IN JARS!

The jelly wasn’t hard when I poured it into the jars but I do remember at one point I was on the phone with my mom and the jelly mixture was off to a royal boil and it did sort of smell like candy. That may have been a clue. My gut says the pectin is fine I just over-cooked it. But I could be wrong. Maybe too much sugar, maybe too much pectin, very probably too much time.

So what to do now? I sat on it for a few hours (while social-media-ing the hell out of it of course) and then decided to microwave a jar and see what happened.

Guess what? The sticky rock jelly turned back into liquid! It bubbled and boiled right out of the jar and onto the microwave rotating dish in a royal boil mess! That seems to be a theme with me and canning. I carefully took the bubbling jar, poured it on some wax paper and let it harden.

Some places of my splat of liquified jelly were smooth and others were sticky clumps. The smooth places peeled up like a fruit roll-up when played with, while the clumpy lumps turned into the worst kind of gooey taffy that sticks to your hands and everything else in it’s path.

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Sooooooooo I decided to make little balls out of my sticky mess and roll them up in squares of wax paper. Because why not! I am like a grandmother who lived through the depression and I refuse to waste food!

The slick smooth stuff worked great, the jelly clumps not so much. It was a very sticky afternoon.

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Then because I am me, I did some quick graphic design for packaging (which is so much more in my comfort zone) and wrapped them all up in little bags to take to school pick-up aka parent social hour and handed them out to all my friends.

Guess what? They were a smashing success! Everybody loved my sticky jalapeño jelly balls even if they did have to lick them off pieces of wax paper and get their hands all sticky! They were delicious and spicy! Before I knew it I had handed almost all of them out and people were asking for more.

Now if only I could figure out how I made them!!!