Mad Hatter Treasure Hunt

Plan the perfect anniversary surprise.

By Kevin RR Williams

HAPPENISM Wedding anniversary gifts get more challenging as the years press on. Do you rack your brain trying to find ways to impress? My wife expects a month-long celebration minimally comprised of weekend dinners at new or favorite restaurants. Here are some ideas I cooked up that won praise.

Several years ago, I planned a wine tasting excursion with a scheduled jeep pickup from our Santa Barbara Bread and Breakfast inn. Restaurant reservations, movie tickets, trolly car rides, and souvenir shopping followed a detailed itinerary over three days.

Rose in Wonderland

One nickname for my wife is “Mad Hatter.” She is known for sporting dozens of hats — not the gaudy ones — exquisite, perfectly selected head accents to match specific outfits. Gifting a hat is certain failure to the untrained so I upped the ante after a belated viewing of Alice in Wonderland, 2010.

A couple of anniversaries ago (2012) I purchased an iPhone and created a custom lock screen background where I transformed Johnny Depp into a somewhat unflattering but very appropriate representation of my Mad Hatter (her nose and mouth, Depp, makeup and costume with eyes that are part hers and part Depp). It was difficult to tell whether she was more amazed with the phone or the image. After staring for a few minutes, she said, “Johnny Depp looks like me.” I responded, “Johnny Depp is you."

The smartphone was accompanied by a custom printed card with the same likeness. “You would have to be mad to dream me up” was superimposed on the front with an etherial scene from the movie inside featuring another quote. The hours to create the images and card exceeded the value of the iPhone. But this gift is most enduring since she is reminded of the anniversary every time she unlocks her phone.

Mad Hatter Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt

Attempts to top prior memorable years can be challenging. For 2014, I began the customary weekend dinners ahead of the actual anniversary date. Small useful gifts were shared without fan fair. On the actual anniversary, the house had a half dozen surprises. Easiest to find was the bouquet of flowers. Though we needed one, she was somewhat puzzled by a new non-stick wok/skillet sitting prominently on the stove with no gift wrapping. She wasn’t sure if it was for me or her.

Later she discovered a fancy Hallmark card on her pillow. Much later in the evening, she found beneath her pillow what she assumed was a gift wrapped box of chocolates. It was an iPad mini. The next morning she found a new iPhone case and gift card for her favorite desert place. Of course the iPad now sports her favorite lock screen image. She excitedly texted her friends at 12:13 AM to let them know that she had found an iPad mini in a treasure hunt for her anniversary.

Bites around town: Special thanks to Priscilla Willis for recommending Eureka! in Huntington Beach. I tried the beet and bean burger but felt it could use a bit more kick — perhaps ginger and spice. Each in my light-to-dark, 5-beer sampler tasted somewhat flat (Anthem Pear Cider, H24 Orange Blonde, Drakes 1500 Pale Ale, Oskar Old Chub Nitro Stout).

A few weeks later on June 22 I had dinner next door at an upscale Mexican restaurant called Solita, enjoying the Nachos Perfecto, grilled tofu tacos, cheese enchiladas, flavorful pinto beans, wonderful homemade salsas, and a frozen beer (which was, in my case, a Corona served with a slushy margarita. I consider this place a step up from La Sirena Grill in El Segundo, where I had a burrito.

Mohawk Bend in Echo Park delivered tasty black-eyed pea chili fries, a flavorful Thai noodle salad and the strongest ginger beer I’ve ever tasted. Down the street, I tried the vegetarian Pho at Xioa but I still favor their their vegetarian curry soup. The Thai Basil salad at Houston’s in Manhattan Beach and their handmade barbecue veggie patty reigns supreme among non-meat burgers.

My happenism interfered with June posts to this blog. Hopefully I can catch up on some writing during July.

Tags: photo retouching, photoshop, surprises, tablet, technology

Mad Hatter photo illustration by author.