Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Pygmy Puff Girls

It was a frosty Christmas Eve.  Okay, I actually don't remember if it was frosty, but it seems like it could have been.  As is customary on Christmas Eve, I was exchanging gifts with my friends. My friend Vanessa handed me a familiarly shaped wrapped object.

It must be a book, I thought. Carefully I unwrapped the present and looked down at the cover.

Oh, I thought. It's the first book in that book series that EVERYONE is reading. Being someone who avoided doing things that EVERYONE was doing I had been purposely avoiding reading Harry Potter.  I smiled, thanked my friend, and placed the book away on a shelf.

One day during the holiday break, I found myself with absolutely nothing to do (I cannot even fathom a time when this was the case) and figured I would read that book just to see what all the hubbub was about.  48 hours later I had fallen in love with a world beyond anything I could imagine and characters who seemed more real and genuine than actual people I have met.

 I devoured books 2, 3, and 4, then like many, I had to wait.  I was in line for the midnight release for books 5, 6, and 7, and discovered a new adopted family...the fandom.  I perused the forums, listened to the podcasts, and speculated along with everyone else about whether or not Harry was actually a horcrux.

After my snitch outfit was completed, I couldn't wait to show it off at Harry Potter night.

We arrived at The British Chip Shop at 7pm.

My friend Sharon rocked Molly Weasley for the occasion.

  The Chip Shop was very organized and things got promptly underway.  I ordered a butterbeer (it was good, but I can't wait to have the real thing in Hogsmeade in a few weeks) and soaked in my surroundings.

Our first action was to choose a trivia team name.  We went with The Pygmy Puff Girls (Get it? Like the Power Puff Girls but with pygmy puffs that were sold at Weasley's Wizard's Wheezes). There was a prize for best team name and the prize rightly went to The Honeydukes of Hazard (hi Jess if you're reading this. Your team name was awesome!)  The sheet where we wrote our team name also included all of the warnings about the various defenses against cheating that were put in place.  It was super funny and clever.

The envelope containing the first round of questions was placed on our table. They ended up being general questions. Not too bad. While we set to work on the trivia, our family style appetizers were presented.

First we enjoyed some dragon eggs (I promise no real dragons were harmed in the making of the eggs).

Second, we ate snitch balls made with rice and cheese.  They were extremely tasty.

Third, we had noodles in a peanut sauce (I forgot to take a picture because of the trivia questions and because they were yummy and I needed to snarfle them immediately).

We were presented with four options to choose from for our entrees.

Since I'm a Ravenclaw, I decided to go with my house food, the Chicken Tikka Masala. I also picked it because it is one of the few things on The Chip Shop's menu that I haven't tried.  It was delicious!

While we were waiting for our entrees we were presented with our second set of questions.  It was a list of Hogwarts professors. We had to write what subject each of the professors taught.  We only got one wrong (we guessed that Septima Vector taught Ancient Runes instead of Arithmancy). At the end of round 2, The Pygmy Puff Girls were in second place just behind team That's so Ravenclaw.

As we were finishing up our entrees, the third round of questions was presented.  I ripped into the envelope and just stared bewildered.  I had spent the whole week studying every subject I thought could possibly be a trivia question.  I knew that Bowman Wright invented the snitch based on the bird originally used, the Snidget. I knew who was killed to create each horcux. I knew which character had which patronus. I probably could have passed my O.W.Ls with all of the information crammed in my head, but never, ever did I anticipate a trivia category entitled, Paintings, Tapestries, and Windows.  We were presented with a list of paintings, tapestries and windows, and we had to write where in the ENTIRE world of Harry Potter they were located!  Well played British Chip Shop, well played.  It was quite a challenge.  Our team did our best and actually we ended up knowing more than we thought.

We enjoyed dessert while the staff tallied up the trivia points.  Stephanie and Sharon got the very last chocolate cauldron to split and a Guinness cupcake to split.

 I sort of had to get a snitch cupcake.

Liz got the snitch cupcake too.  I also got what I was most looking forward to...the butterbeer ice cream sandwich.

It was fantastic!  The butterbeer flavored ice cream was amazing, and much like the Doctor Who night fish fingers and custard dessert, I wish the butterbeer ice cream sandwich was on the menu all of the time.

When the winners were finally announced, we found out that we had won third place! Hooray!  Admirable I think considering we were a team of only four people while the first place team had almost 12. Third place still got cool prizes!

I took home a Crunchie bar.

As part of our prize, we got a hand carved wand (We let Sharon have the wand since she answered a lot of the questions and because her birthday was the following day). Here's Stephanie modeling the wand.  She came as a Death Eater.

I have to give some love to See-More Woodcrafts  who made the wands.  They make all sorts of great genre/fandom related items. I recently bought a Totoro Christmas ornament from them at an arts festival I was at. If you talk to Daniel J. Seymour you will find that he is a fan making things for fans. They had a lot of great things for sale during Harry Potter night.

Team That's so Ravenclaw won first place, which was cool because they were actually a fun, very cool group of people.

The Dumbledorks won second place.  They wore awesome team stickers and were nice enough to offer me a stack to take home. The guy standing behind them was the MC for the evening. He did a fabulous job.

Geeky fandom people are really the best.

We had a wonderful evening, and I can't wait to go back again next year, but what to wear...what to wear?  We keep suggesting to the Chip Shop that they should do a Sherlock night.  Trivia for that might be more difficult to come up with, but maybe they could do more of a murder mystery night or  have teams solve crimes like in the Crack the Case game?  If they do it, the fandom will come.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Accio Sparkly Tulle

Sorry the posts have been a little light. This is my insane time of year at work, there have been some family things going on, and we scaled back our adventures a bit to conserve resources for our upcoming vacation.

For the past several years I've tried to attend The British Chip Shop in Haddonfield’s Harry Potter night, but every year my attempts have been thwarted in some way. This year, I was determined to go.

Harry Potter night is of course appropriately held on July 31st. For all of you muggles who may not know, July 31st is Harry’s and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. 

I called The British Chip Shop at exactly 11am on July 1st (the first day they were accepting reservations) and succeeded in securing a table for me and three of my fellow geeky girls. 

I followed Wil Wheaton's advice to "get excited and make cool stuff." For this occasion cool stuff equaled a fun outfit.

I was inspired a while ago by an image I saw online of a girl wearing a Golden Snitch outfit. I liked the idea of being a thing rather than a specific character. With characters you usually have to work harder to get the details right (my glasses always get in the way of being a character). I felt going as a snitch would give me more room for creativity and interpretation. It was also an excuse to be sparkly.

 I have had the desire to make a no sew tutu for about a year and the snitch outfit seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a whirl. The directions seemed easy enough so I bought some sparkly gold tulle, a spool of sparkly gold ribbon, and went to work.

 For the length, I simply used the length that the tulle came in which was about 28 inches. I cut the tulle into 12 inch wide strips, 

then folded each strip in half, and used a slip knot to tie it around the ribbon (you can find plenty of YouTube videos that show exactly how to do this).  

I am not the most crafty person and I found making the tutu incredibly easy.  Maybe my knots weren't exactly the same size or the neatest, but I thought it turned out just fine.

The most challenging part of the process was my cat who  loved the sparkles and kept attacking the tulle and ribbon. A few times I had to pull her off of the tutu carefully detaching her nails from the tulle.  The tutu making elicited a lot of exasperated cries of,

“No kitty, please stop!”

In the books, the snitch is gold with silver wings, so I made my overall color scheme silver/grey and gold.  I wore grey yoga pants under my tutu and sparkly silver tennis sneakers on my feet.

In the picture that inspired me, the girl has a gold helmet.  I went to a few stores and tried on helmets. I did not love how they looked, but I do love slouchy hats, so I decided to get a gold knit hat and silver-grey feathers. (Note-If you like knitted woollies like I do, the summer is a great time to shop for them on Etsy as many of the sellers have them on sale)

For my top I got a snitch t-shirt from Redbubble. Since the screen print for the shirt was yellow-gold I got the shirt in Gryffindor red because 1) the print looked the best against the red, and 2) the t-shirt will look great on its own when we go to Universal next month.

Finally I had all sorts of small details, most of which I bought cheaply at Five Below.  I bought sparkly gold and sparkly silver nail polish. I had sparkly eye shadow, eye liner and mascara.  In the photo of the other snitch girl, I liked the jewels on her face.  I tried a test run of it earlier in the week, but as my glasses are fairly pronounced, the jewels got completely lost on my face. I still wanted to use the jewels so I decided to use them to bling out my glasses instead.

The outfit was a complete success and I got lots of complements throughout the night. 

I’m excited that I have a new acquired skill, tutu making, but I’m going to try hard not to over use this skill.  I would like however,at some point later in the year, to attempt a mash-up and dress as a Weeping Angel Fairy.