Of Batman and Dancing (Or The Dark Knight is Rising Up in Here)

Luckily, I’m missing that part of your brain that keeps you from embarrassing yourself and just basically doing all kinds of idiotic stuff. Sure it can lead to broken bones, speeding tickets, and your parents shaking their heads in shame, but it does have an upside too. Case in point: I made a lot of money selling books door-to-door in Santa Barbara when I was 18. Also? It means I had this unexpectedly fabulous time last night.

See, I had plans to go out for a girls’ night with my gorgeous British friend, but she called and put a kink in things.

“Forgive me, but I was wondering if perhaps we could reschedule?” She went on to explain there was a coffee shop in her neighborhood that projected movies on the wall, played music, and provided a space for people to dance. “I’ve just been feeling I need to get in my body and out of my head. It’s a bit weird, but if you fancy joining of course you’re welcome.”

Weird dancing? Of course I fancy joining! (I excel at weird.)

So, I’m picturing this small, dark room and general strange rave-y-ness all around. I spend all of this time applying eyeliner, creating a coordinated ensemble with black heels, a big blingy Kate Spade bracelet, and the sort of shirt you’d wear to a club. I also put on my don’t-you-dare-get-fat jeans. Every woman owns them. They’re the sort of tight pants that are absolutely unforgiving in every way and they remind you that it’s a terrible idea to finish the entire pizza while watching Dallas.

I arrive at the coffee shop (late, of course) and find my friend reading at a table. She’s not wearing club attire but workout pants instead. (My first clue the evening might not go down quite the way I expected….)

She suggests we take a peek in the room and check out the current dancing sitch. Upon doing so, I immediately notice everyone else in the very large and very bright room is wearing dance attire – like jazz shoes with Lululemon — and I’m basically dressed for a frat party.

There is no movie on the wall and talented people are basically freestyle pirouetting all over the place. Well, shit. I haven’t done ballet since I was 19. This is going to be interesting….

We pregame with a little chamomile tea (I swear to God) and head in. I remove my three-inch heels and my jewelry, and I also twist my hair into a makeshift bun because I have absolutely no hair ties on my person, and this is looking like it’s going to be an athletic endeavor.

Now, let me remind you again lest you forgot: I am in my super tight jeans that basically make me hate life. I am also not wearing a sports bra but a lacy ditty by Betsey instead. Things could get ugly.

My friend is a little more reserved and has a much stronger sense of propriety and shame than I, so she’s slowly beginning to bob her head to the music and tentatively moving the rest of her body. I decide to just go for it with something resembling reckless abandon – but not so reckless that I rip my jeans, mind you. (I absolutely hate paying to replace things I destroy through utter stupidity – particularly when those things cost about $200.)

Soon, more amateur civilian-types join us, including a guy wearing a t-shirt and a canvas kilt that basically looks like Carhartt has gone into the business of creating fashion for bagpipers.

I am making a complete fool of myself with my limited range of motion and ability, my friend has gotten more into it as well, and it’s just all kinds of awesome. (Also, Betsey must know something about gravity and stuff because somehow that business is all still in place. So sad about her bankruptcy. That woman knows bras. And bracelets.)

Midway into the evening, we meet a lovely woman who informs us we’re in the company of a dance troupe. A dance troupe. And a former Cirque du Soleil performer. Um, so yeah. I’m NOWHERE near as good as these people, but I don’t care. I’m having fun. And the truth is: everyone is so into their own performances that they’re not looking at me anyway.

Soon the other amateurs leave and it’s back to the core dance crew. And us. We wind up on the outside of a circle, clapping and encouraging others to move into the middle and showcase their skills, which include insane break dancing moves and some serious acrobatics. My friend has the good sense to get us out of there before we are called into the middle of the circle to make epic fools of ourselves. Had I not been so inappropriately dressed, I might have gone in the middle without prompting and done a heinous barefoot tap dancing routine, but the world has been spared of that. (For now.)

So we leave all sweaty and happy, and we decide this is our new thing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I say terrible things about LA all of the time, but nights like this remind me that I will probably never leave. Sure other cities have cool shit like subways and men who drink scotch, but I like it here, thanks.

SO, now I have a fabulous new “thing” and I must do it again. Like every Sunday. I’m never going to be able to spin on my head or balance my entire body on my elbow, but it’s OK. I can burn off a few burgers with my own amateur moves and feel truly free for a night, because let’s be honest: there aren’t enough opportunities in life to escape the confines of our thoughts and just feel the music.

Now my problem becomes what to do about next Sunday night. I’m murderously over-scheduled what with my commitment to see The Dark Knight Rises, followed by drinks AND a dinner party. Somehow I have to squeeze in my weird dancing too.

I’m contemplating rescheduling dinner and drinks — because what I really need in my life next Sunday is Batman. And my bad dance moves.

While we’re on the topic of Batman, you should know that Batman was a bad dancer too and you can see it here. Hmm… maybe next time I should show up in a cape and super hero tights. The ensemble would allow for more range of motion than my evil jeans….

I mean I have already decided to make Batman and Robin costumes for the dogs, so I could just make one for myself as well. See, I found this excellent pin from Sugartot Designs with downloadable Super Hero logos, and now I’m all inspired and whatnot.

Photo Courtesy of sugartot designs.

Sure, they’re probably intended for actual children and not Spaniels, but I don’t care. Obviously, the dogs will also need masks like this:

I loved the Adam West Batman as a kid. I might still watch it on The Hub now, but shhh, no one needs to know that.  (Photo courtesy of Dial B for Blog) Kapow!

Did I mention the last time I sewed anything I was nine? And that it only slightly resembled a panda? See, I decide to tackle enormous sewing projects with all of the hubris and reckless abandon that I apply to dancing wildly in public and almost everything in my life because, truly, I do not have a healthy fear of failure. Or shame.

One guess who will be Robin in the dynamic duo.

Poor Woodley….

If you do have actual human children and you like Batman half as much as I do, this would be an amazing DIY painting project:

I cannot find the original source of this pin, but holy tiny car, Batman, it’s awesome.

Oh, and one last thing, If you’re into Batman and you like laughing, you should check out my friend’s video on Funny or Die here.

Of Owls and Strollers (Or I’m Planning a Baby Shower)

So, it’s 2:34 am and there is a band of drunken revelers on the sidewalk below my window. They’re too drunk to know they’re actually yelling at each other and not just having a regular conversation. Also there are about 15 of them. My dogs are yelling back. I sort of wish I were drunk on the street disturbing dogs and the peace, but I’m in my jammies blogging and listening to The Righteous Brothers.

Why am I writing when I should be sleeping? Well, I can’t come home and go straight to bed. Ever. No matter how tired I am. I need all of this time to unwind after being with people. Sometimes I feel so wound up at midnight or whatever that I’m temped to go running. And then I remember I don’t run.

See, I just returned home from a baby shower planning dinner, and I now have my marching orders. They involve finger sandwiches, cupcakes, and sachets. Mercifully, there are no cake pops involved.

During the planning session I learned all kinds of scary things about being constantly kicked in the ribcage and having a tiny person mashing about on your bladder day and night. And I learned about strollers.

My friend showed me hers. It looks like it’s on hydraulics. After witnessing a brief demo, I informed her that she will have to install speakers so she can play Dre while she pushes the kid around the 90210. (Yes, that’s really her zip code.)

She also showed me another stroller by the same company. And it has a video. The video involves the sort of techno music you’d hear at a rave where people wear glow sticks, Ed Hardy, and too much cologne. You HAVE to watch it. The thing has space-aged lights. And it charges your iPhone. You absolutely cannot make this shit up.

So I guess strollers have gotten sick since the ’70s. I mean, mine looked like this:

The fat baby in the rickety ride is me. The bear next to me answers to, “O.J.” even though there’s an apple on his bib.

I’m sure the thing was all dangerous by modern standards but it had room for friends… whether I wanted them around or not…

I am the big, bald bully on the right.

I’m not saying things were better in the ’70s or anything. Because people responsible for my wellbeing did let me out of the house looking like this:

There are many crimes against aesthetics happening all at once here.

So anyway, I have nothing helpful to say tonight except that I’m going to make owl cupcakes like these:

Photo courtesy of jennycookies.com

They’re based on the owls from Hello, Cupcake which is a totally fabulous book that I happen to own.

And my sachets will be inspired by these darling little owl pillows I found on Pinterest:

Photo courtesy of April Foss on Etsy.

Just to reiterate: there will be no cake pops at this party.

I’m saving that horror for my birthday party the next day. The guest list for that is at 135 and counting. More on that later. There will be crocodiles involved….

Bread and Billy Ocean Make me Happy (Or How to Bake Bread from Scratch)

My mood rises with the yeast while baking homemade bread. True story.

The dogs and I live east of Lassie’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We border the beautiful homes in the Hollywood Hills to the north and incredible poverty to the south. Our neighborhood just might be a metaphor for LA, which is simultaneously a city of meteoric rises and epic devastation.

A graffiti artist has drawn his own “stars” on our sidewalk. They include “Greed,” “Silicone,” and “Cocaine,” among others. This city can really prey upon you if you don’t remember where you came from or what matters most. If you’re not vigilant, the so-called city of angels will bring you to your knees. Now, I’m sure there are other cities that are much the same, but this is the one I know.

If you have time management issues, the erratic traffic patterns caused by unexpected street closures, massive accidents, and mudslides will make you late for meetings no matter how hard you try to be on time.

If you covet other people’s possessions, you’ll see more glitz, glamour, and couture in one afternoon at the grocery store than an entire month on Pinterest.

Have issues with your appearance? You’ll be competing with Angelina Jolie to find a date for Friday night. (Well, maybe not Angie anymore because she’s busy with Brad or whatever, but you get the point.)

You’ll see the wealth and beauty, but you’ll also see the poverty and the pain. You’ll get to know the old lady picking through the recycling bins, looking for bottles she can return. You’ll meet the unemployed, uninsured man with cancer who panhandles at your freeway exit. You’ll talk to the blind gardener who is struggling to make a living. It’s all here, and it’s enough to break your heart if you’re paying attention.

Because I’m out walking the dogs every day, I see a lot. And I just can’t close my eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not lost on me that some of the sad things I see regularly are all happening beneath the shadow of the huge Hollywood Sign looming overhead.

When I’m feeling extra sorry for myself for some trivial reason, I go out and do something nice for someone else. Nothing cures a bad mood like kindness – or a little Billy Ocean. Seriously, I dare anyone to savor a bad mood while listening to License to Chill. (Go ahead, try it. It’s impossible.)

So, anyway, last week I was mopey and needed a little bit of happiness in my life, so I broke out my mother’s homemade bread recipe and cranked up the Billy in my kitchen.

The recipe makes two loaves, and as much as I loooove bread, I was never going to eat it all. So, there I was with like two monstrous loaves of homemade bread. Rather than wiping out half of the available real estate in my tiny freezer, I decided to share it with some of my neighborhood buddies.

First, I took a few slices to Jerry up the street. Jerry sits in his walker on the sidewalk every afternoon wearing pajamas and purple sunglasses. He knows everyone in the neighborhood who stops to take the time for him. Some Friday nights the dogs and I sit on his steps and he has me look up World Series stats from the 1940’s on my iPhone, and the causes of death of all of the Hollywood greats. (I dig Jerry.)

“Did you bring your computer?” He’ll ask, and we find out what killed Gloria Swanson or who scored the winning run in the 1941 World Series.

Even though Jerry is not hungry or poor, he lives alone and he doesn’t have anyone to bake him bread.

I also brought a few slices to our new friend, Dan. Dan is in a wheelchair and lives in a Winnebago a few blocks away with his white Boxer puppy, General. We first met Dan and General because Albus simply had to stop and play with the tiny puppy tied to the door of the rusty old rig. (Even Woodley was nice to General, which was nothing short of a miracle.) He’s a sweet, skinny little pup, so we also brought him a bone and some dog food samples from the pet store up the street. Dan invited us back any time, so we’re going to make him our version of Stouffer’s veggie lasagna later this week. The Roos have also promised to share their homemade doggie popcicles with General. (I’ll post the recipe for both later.)

So, this is my life and the city I call home. I’m not telling these stories so people will pat me on the back. It’s just where I am at the moment, and I’m doing my best to make the most of it. So there you have it.

If you want to bake my mother’s bread, the recipe is below.

Like I said, it makes a lot. You can certainly eat it all. Or you can share it. It tastes good either way.

My Great Aunt Betty was a nightclub singer and a painter. When she passed away at 100 years of age, I inherited some of her linens (and her paintings). The bread is doing its thing under one of her pretty towels here.

My Mummy’s Brown Bread Recipe

1/4 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon honey, room temperature
2 Tablespoons yeast
3 Cup warm water, divided
1/4 Cup oil, room temperature
1 Tablespoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 Cup molasses, room temperature
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 ½ C of all purpose flour, divided

Mix together 1 tablespoon of honey, yeast, and ½ C of warm water. Let stand for 10 min.

In a separate bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups of warm water, oil, salt, ¼ C of honey, egg, and molasses.

Combine the yeast mixture with the egg and molasses mixture. Add 4 C of whole wheat flour and mix for 7 – 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Knead in 1 more cup of all-purpose flour.

Cover and let rise one hour. Punch down and knead again (with 1/4 cup flour). Divide into balls, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Knead again (with an additional 1/4 cup flour). Shape into 2 or 3 loaves and put in pans greased with butter. Let the loaves rise for 30 minutes or until almost double in size.

Place the loaves in a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes. (If you are using glass pans, set your oven temperature at 375 and 325 instead.)

Slice. Slather with butter. Smile.

Tired Glue Gun Trigger Finger (Or How to Make a Chandelier from Coffee Filters)

A few months ago, I discovered the DIY instructions for making a chandelier out of a chinese lantern and coffee filters, and I just HAD to try it. Not because I had any need for the fluffy orb, mind you, but because it just looked like fun to make. I figured I’d will it into some sort of design submission eventually….

Initially, I only intended to make one hanging pendant, but in a turn of events that surprises no one… I got carried away.

As soon as I finished covering my 14″ paper lantern with coffee filters, I went to Pier 1 to buy the actual light bulb part of the lamp. I learned that Pier 1 doesn’t sell hanging light fixtures in California. (It’s due to some law requiring all lamps sold in the state to come with a light bulb in them.)

SO, I had to buy a battery-operated LED pack instead. A few cool things came out of this:

1) The battery-operated element solved my “how-in-hell-am-I-going-to-hide-the-cord?” conundrum.

AND

2) The remote controlled version of the LED only came in a 3-pack. This inspired me to make two more orbs of smaller size.

Of course I ran into some other pitfalls along with way, and I will share them with you to spare you from making my mistakes.

First of all, I recommend semi-soothing music for this task — especially if you’re the hyper sort like me. It takes a long time to cover the orbs, and you’ll start to go a little crazy if you’re listening to, say, the GG Remix of Grenade.

I had to break up the task over about a week and a half to keep myself sane – and to prevent blisters from forming on my glue gun trigger finger.

Incidentally, it also helped that I was still in the “training my Mary J. Blige Pandora Station” stage because I had to stop what I was doing frequently to inform Pandora, “I would like more Trey Songz pretty please.” And, “Less LMFAO, thank you very much.” (LMFAO belongs on my Britney station. For real.)

In all, I think it took about 1,000 coffee filters, and about 300 miniature glue sticks to complete the task.

I still need to adjust the placement of the lanterns now that I have three of them. I also haven’t completed embellishing the orbs with ribbons and beads yet, but I’ll get around to it, eventually….

Oh, and I have absolutely NO idea how to dust them.

Any suggestions?

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Free Stuff is Fun (Or How to Remove Carpet Indentations with Ice Cubes)

I love free things. Like really love free things. And by free things I mean, actually free. Not the kind of free that’s free for the first 30 days and then you have to remember to cancel or you get stuck paying $50 a month until you get around to calling.

So, when I came across a trick for removing the indentations in your carpet using only ice cubes, I was like, “Um, yes please. I have ice cubes.”

Today I decided to give it a shot. I discovered it’s best to put the ice cubes down when your dogs are in a coma-like napping state after a long hike. You probably shouldn’t do it when they’re feeling frisky from putting their faces in your morning latte. If you do it that way you end up with dogs who think it’s a game to lick and kick the cubes all over your carpet.

That was sort of how the first round of my ice cube experiment went.

Albus began licking the ice cubes while Woodley watched cautiously. Then Albus discovered it was super fun to kick the cubes. Still, Woodley watched. She eventually summoned the courage to approach the ice and quickly began contributing to the chaos as well. She’s never the instigator, but she’s always a willing participant once she overcomes her initial trepidation of, well, everything.

There I was, eager to see if the trick worked, and they were convinced we were playing a game. I placed the cubes on the carpet. They hit them. I put them back. They hit them again. And so on until I distracted them with bison and sweet potato biscuits….

So anyway, here’s what I discovered:

It actually works if you can keep your animals away.

Also, after the ice melts you have to use your hand to rub the carpet fibers back and forth to get them to stand up. One application of ice cubes was sufficient for the shallow indentations, but it took three applications of ice for the deeper dents.

After surveying my free fix I put on a little Oh Carolina and did a happy dance to some vintage Shaggy, circa 1993.

Too bad the ice cubes can’t fix how ugly the carpet is….

Do you have any easy tips you want share?

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We’re Happy Puppies! (Or We Received the Illuminating Blogger Award)

 

Albus, Woodley, and I were very proud puppies when we were awarded the Illuminating Blogger Award by Kenley of Beyond the Green Door. If you don’t know about Kenley’s blog, you should check it out. She writes about great stuff! Also, she lives north of Austin, Texas where I long to live.

Seriously.

I have spent nearly 11 years in LA, slowly growing apart from the city I once loved. It’s still home, but I desperately want to escape. Daily.

I sometimes think I’m still here out of inertia – or the delusion that I will one day meet a single guy in this city who doesn’t drink white wine at bars and owns at least one hammer.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the sunshine and the sushi, but I miss humidity and affordable real estate. Before I quit my job in the entertainment industry, I was considering buying a home. Rat-infested crack houses on my side of the hill run around half a million, so I was looking at places deep in the San Fernando Valley where none of my remaining single friends would ever venture. Ever.

SO, anyway, I quit my job (long story), threw away my real estate dream, and started redecorating my apartment instead.

I have always suffered from the condition of don’t-bother-to-do-anything-unless-you-can-do-it-big syndrome, but I was determined to change that.

I started decorating my tiny apartment because I couldn’t rip down the walls in a new home. I took a three-day ski trip with my dogs because I couldn’t afford to go to Aspen for a week. I drove up the coast and hit dog beaches from Santa Barbara to San Francisco and stayed in the Motel 6 instead of the Four Seasons. I made my own small compost bin because I didn’t have room on my tiny balcony for a bigger one….

And that was sort of the birth of this blog.

By returning to writing and my childhood love of art and design, I feel inspired each morning. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who reads my posts, and I hope you all find inspiration to follow your heart the way I did.

Below are five blogs I enjoy. They are all worthy of the Illuminating Blogger Award, and I’m pleased to nominate each of them.

LindO Designs: Angela is an incredibly talented artist, architect, and designer. Her blog includes DIY projects and lots of informative links. You can also visit her Etsy stores to purchase the objects she refinishes and designs!

Southern Secrets Carolina Style: Not only does Jen have a great eye, but she also conveys a strong sense of Carolina pride. She makes her readers feel like they have just visited North Carolina without leaving their living rooms. Her blog features great recipes and party planning ideas.

346 Living: This blog is full of fabulous photos and fantastic step-by-step instructions for DIY projects that anyone can tackle. I adore the blog, and the photos of the precious pups are an added bonus!

Parlour Home Blog: Nichole is an interior designer with a great eye. Her blog includes inspiring design ideas and DIY projects!

You Are My Fave: Melanie’s blog is full of delicious recipes, fabulous DIY projects, and inspiring event-planning ideas.

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Possess (Or How to Make a Dipped Vase)

I share a birthday with Tony Bennett,  Tom Brady, and Martha Stewart. While I can’t sing to save my life, or throw a spiral like a Super Bowl MVP, I do fancy myself rather handy with a glue gun and glitter paint.

Today I decide to make a gold dipped vase I found on You Are My Fave.

I start with Martha’s gold paint left over from my dipped table experiment and a $6 vase from Home Goods. I pop on a little Jay-Z featuring Panjabi MC and get to work. I pour the gold paint into a bowl and dip the top of the vase inside. Then I set the vase on a brown paper bag and wait.

It doesn’t look like enough paint, so I pour a little more around the rim of the vase to create additional drips.

It’s supposed to be easy, but of course I manage to mess it up the first time. (Maybe I’m not much like Martha either….) The good thing about this project is that you can simply peel off the paint and start over if you don’t like the finished project.

Here’s what I learned about dipping vases:

It doesn’t take much gold paint to create the look. I overdid it the first time because I underestimated how far a little paint would travel down the side of the vase. Pouring the extra paint around the rim of the vase made too many drippy bits coming down the side and made the finished product look messy.

In the end, you just have to be patient (not my strong suit) while the paint slowly drips down the side, and it’ll all work out. This is probably some sort of metaphor for life, but I’m not really in the mood to be philosophical today. It’s probably because I’m grooving to a little hip hop Bhangra.

I haven’t decided what to put in the vase yet, but I’ll eventually get around to it when I’m done stenciling tiny birch trees all over my hallway walls. (More on that later…)

I’m leaning toward some sort of white crepe paper flowers so I don’t have to continually update a wilting mess of a floral arrangement.

Suggestions?

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