The Tale of Two Hats

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Our neighbors down the street commissioned me to make them some crazy hats for a charity dinner party they are attending that happens to have an under-the-sea theme. They knew I might be up for the task based on my paper-maché-snitch-piñata-making skills. Of course I said yes. How fun would this be?

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For the man they asked for an angler fish hat. Great idea, right? Sadly, this monstrosity fell very far short of my imagination of what it should be.  It looks pretty scary but there are so many things wrong with it. Firstly, I had to figure out a way to make the teeth (that I bought off amazon) splay outwards in a big bulbous way. The only way I could figure to do this was by paper-mache over a balloon. That worked but then I had to attach my bulbous shape to the hat somehow.

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I ended up cutting the dried ballon so it lay over the front of the hat and then I attached it to the hat with wire that I had wrapped in newspaper for bulk. Then I had to cover up the wire and the balloon so I used black crafting foam. I think ideally I would have paper mache-ed the whole thing but I didn’t want the hat getting too soggy and I was running out of time.

Black crafting foam is a great medium that can be cut in all sorts of fun spikey ways but wrapping a flat square piece of foam over a round shape is challenging! I could have improved my pattern A LOT but you know me, I just forged on like non-perfectionist that I am. So that means the underside of the hat (the part you see the most when you are wearing the hat has this awkward open space under the mouth. It’s all spray-painted black but it looks like a hodge podge quilt. I guess angler fish aren’t the prettiest of fish anyway so we’ll just embrace it. Then I couldn’t get the foam to match up to the mouth so I cut these strips of spiked foam and wrapped them around like lips. I also forgot to spray paint those strips so they are matte while the rest of the fish is properly slimy looking. Groan.  I think overall it works if you don’t think about it too hard.

BUT! The noodle-y thing that angler fish use to catch their prey does light up! That’s why there is a pretty big opening between the teeth. That’s where you can squeeze your hand inside the mouth to switch the lights on and off. I used the cork fairy lights that I had used for our fairy jar craft. I just covered the lights along the string with masking tape spray-painted black.

It’s a big mess. But you wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you, right?

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So you would think that this sea-foam under-the-sea woman’s hat would be a piece of cake, right? Compared to the angler fish hat this should be something I could do in my sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty! I did everything wrong. Firstly, I decided to add these really cool octopus tendril finger puppet things to the front that should be the back. Yep. I squarely did everything backwards on this hat. The front is the back and the back is the front and there is a big ol’ visible seam on the front. I always do everything wrong first. Except this time I couldn’t go back and fix it second time around because the tendrils were good and sewn and there was no ungluing the tulle and sequined fabric that I wrapped around and glued to the brim. But really, that’s not my first mistake. My first mistake was to buy the hat in blue and purple instead of just blue.

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I ended up hating the purple so much that I spray-painted the top to cover it up. I wish I would have spray-painted the whole thing because the spray paint actually looks pretty good but by the time I figured that out I had already glued dozens of shells and bubbles and pearls and sequins to the hat and they would look horrible turned all flat blue.

So that’s that! Pretty cool but riddled with problems!

Thankfully the recipients will probably neither notice nor care! And now I know how to do it right if I ever need to make these again.

A Wedding in Wales!

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When my friend Lynne told me she was getting married and holding the reception at her in-law’s pear farm in the countryside of Wales, I had to take to my fainting couch so I could daydream about how pretty it would be. When she sent me an invitation to her wedding, I had to take to my friend the-travel-agent’s fainting couch so I could book tickets while I was fainting and daydreaming.

A wedding in the countryside where everything is green, in a foreign country with little lambs and tea!!! Wait a minute while I google earth that. Swoon! I should take the girls, I thought. It would be the perfect adventure for them.

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And it was. Countryside and castles and pretty dresses, oh my!

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We barely made it to the wedding that was in a castle itself. I’m not sure why we were late but I’m sure there was some good reason. We did make it there all the way from California after all so I think they gave us some slack. We caught the end of their signing ceremony and had plenty of time to explore the crumbling castle walls all around after.

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This was Joon’s first wedding she’s ever attended so the bar is now set pretty high for her when it comes to what to expect at weddings. I feel bad for whoever gets married next on a boat in the Newport Harbor. We will be bored to tears in comparison. Bug also was pretty excited about the wedding because she had to miss being a flower girl in another wedding in order to make it to this trip. I’m happy to say that she did not regret her decision (phew!).

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It was splendid in every way. Monte Python jokes galore.

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Even Mr. G.Q. enjoyed himself while posing on a crumbling bridge.

I took lots of pictures of my feet (which are all lost now because I ran out of camera space on my phone and subsequently deleted everything under the sun, including my google spreadsheets with everyone’s christmas card address).

I love my fancy shoes. They are so fancy with bows and everything but get this: they are completely flat. This is very good for me and my sore-ass complaining high arches and my boyfriend who may or may not be an inch shorter than me.

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The kids were over the moon, exploring every nook and cranny. But who got lost? Not the kids. That was me instagramming every moment who forgot where we all agreed to meet up. Everyone left to go to the reception and I was somewhere over the hills and dales.

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Thankfully Payam and the girls found me before the bride and groom left so we followed them to the reception because we would never be able to figure out how to get there ourselves.

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When we arrived at Matt’s family farm we were instantly smitten by the apple and pear trees growing in the parking lot. Or maybe they converted their orchard to a parking lot for the occasion. That’s probably it. Anyway Bug was so impressed because it looked exactly like her Grandpa’s yard and the climate was very similar too. She proceeded to let us all know that Wales was basically Ferndale and I couldn’t really disagree.

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I mean, look at all that green grass to run on! And look at those little cobble stone houses! They are only 500 years or so older than Ferndale.

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Everything was charming! From the tea cups to the hanging bunting to the little purple striped packages of popcorn for the kids and the bottles filled with homemade pear champagne for the grown-ups… I was snapping away with my camera and my phone like I was paid to be a photographer because you know me, I can’t resist all these photo opportunities!

It doesn’t hurt that my friend Lynne is an artist.  Before we left, Payam was asking me what he should wear to this wedding and I had to chuckle. Was it black tie? Not really. I told him he could wear red suspenders and a bow tie and still fit right in. It was that kind of charming. My favorite kind.

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We had meat pies for lunch (very interesting and quite tasty – second picture here) and a crazy amazing homemade tiered wedding cake for desert that was so delicious I wish I had gone back for another piece or four.

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Bug ate wedding cake alone. She’s not a huge fan of Welsh food which is fine because when she is home she eats about four burgers a day. Seriously, she going through a major store-up-food-for-a-growth-spurt stage.

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Food was a huge part of the wedding but the activities were even more so! They fed us like crazy and in between eating we danced!  They had a schedule that included “ceilidh” which is traditional Scottish and Irish folk dancing.

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Everyone learned how to dance even those more resistant than others. Payam and I danced, the girls danced! It was very lively.

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There were even dances where girls got swung around and carried across the floor. We loved every minute of it. Newport Harbor Cruise Wedding, you are looking sadder than ever.

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Did I mention they played “rounders” which is sort of like baseball but with a lot less rules and way less boredom? There was ping pong and a woods to play in…and some people even camped near by!

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And this barn! You know how I always complain about not having a white wall in my house to shoot my photos against? I’ve decided that now I need a barn.

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The girls spent a lot of time playing with acorns and making some kind of fairy restaurant. Bug promises to write a guest post about it later so I’ll save that for her.

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And then, as if all the above wasn’t enough, the wedding lasted all the way until dark and we roasted marshmallows in the woods. I’m not even kidding you.

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It was a kid’s dream come true. None of us wanted to leave but we had to because the next day we had to get up at 5am to start our mad-hatter trip home. Four airports, two layovers, luggage to be checked and re-checked, customs… you know the drill. So we skipped the moonlight disco dancing, sadly. But you just can’t do it all!

I say, we did a LOT.