Derby Hats, Dark Books, and Easter Desserts (Or Things that Make Me Smile)

Here are some things that make me smile:

#1 I got my dog’s biopsy results back, and his cancer didn’t spread to his lymph nodes. Sure, the tumors were level 2, which means they COULD return, but they didn’t spread, so there’s that. We are consulting with a veterinary oncologist, but it’s mostly good news for now.

#2 I’m going to Vegas for the Kentucky Derby with two of my besties from college. We’ve been scheming about hats in a group text all morning.

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This little nugget from Nordstrom is my front runner.

Part of me is tempted to have a flower crown made for the Derby, like this fabulous one I’m wearing here:

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I don’t actually know who this guy is.

He just liked my cakeandpunch crown, so we posed for a pic at Malibu Wines. (I think ranunculus are everything. Apparently he agreed.)

#3 In addition to conspiring about hats, we’ve been discussing poolside reading. Kelley and I shared book suggestions all morning and have basically started our own long distance, two-person book club. Most of my friends would recommend me for a padded room if I told them to read these books, so I’m grateful for a kindred spirit in the land of the macabre. (Pretty Girls, The Missing, The Murder Room, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things are our first orders of business for discussion.)

#4 It’s almost time for Easter at 816, an annual tradition that brings the best people on the planet together for food, wine, and fun at our favorite Santa Monica beach house.

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Here are a few of my beautiful bunnies from last year’s festivities.

I’m trying to decide if I want to make the same fennel scalloped potatoes I made last year or if I want to branch out.

This gorgeous geode cake from Buttercream Bakeshop in DC gives me ideas.

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Couldn’t you just DIE from the pretty?

I think I’d put ice cream in the inside instead of cake if I made it. I’ve been scouring this link for ice cream inspiration.

Cake bores me as much as a bad book.

True story.

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Thoughts on 2016 (Or Whatever)

I’m prepping for my tax appointment today. Going to see my accountant is always a lot like confession. It usually goes something like this:

Alyce: You spent $1,600 on sushi?

I nod, dying a little inside.

Alyce takes a sip of her pina colada and tries to hide her disappointment in me.

(She knows how much money I make.)

So yeah… I’m bracing myself for the shame of it all.

This is what my tax prep looks like:

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Screw you, 2016, for taking all of my money.

My sushi expenditures may be bad, but let’s not go into my beer budget, K?

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The Baby Jesus can barely hold down my bar receipts.

Poor little nugget.

I guess 2016 wasn’t ALL bad. It did take Prince, Princess Leia, and the Goblin King, but I did get on the slopes a lot, so there’s that.

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Skiing is everything.

I also finished a few scripts, did some interesting research for a TV pilot, and I did a lot of fun things with people I love.

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Kygo at the Bowl with Lola

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Vegas with my family.

And, I crossed a big goal off my to-do list.

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I ran a 5K in a winery with Megan… 

hills and all.

2016 may not have been THE WORST, but I’m counting on 2017 to step up and kick its ass.

I’m due for a great year.

No pressure, 2017.

Nana’s 90th (And Other Things)

After some epic tailgate action in Ann Arbor, I headed up to my family cottage to celebrate my Nana’s 90th.

My entire family flew in for the occasion. There was excessive beer, wine, and dancing as well as some fabulous catfish in daikon ginger soy sauce.

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Canadian beer goes best with docks in Michigan.

My Uncle Marc did the catfish honors. I did the dancing.

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I even got my cousin up on her feet.

We took a break to pose for a pic with the birthday girl, though.

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The Three Louises: Madison Louise, Gladys Louise, and Anika Louise. 

If you’re wondering what my dog was doing during my trip to the mitten, I can assure you he was not missing me.

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He was too busy sleeping on his Auntie Lauren’s bed in LA to notice I was gone.

On my way back to LA I hit up Longhorns in the Detroit Airport for a little steak salad.

It was delicious.

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Dear Cow, Thank you for dying for my meal. Love, Anika

And after all of that, I went running today.

Now I’m getting ready for a conference call to help the Santa Barbara Wolverines plan an event.

But before I go, I need to share this Tiesto track with you because I’m obsessed with it. It’s my anthem.

XOXO

Resurrection Wednesday (Or I’m Back to Blogging)

So, it has been almost a year since my last post. In that time I have finished a feature script, an original television pilot, a sample episode of Jane the Virgin, and at the moment I’m halfway through a second feature, a second pilot, and a bottle of Kim Crawford.

I’ve gained and lost the same five pounds 14 different times by accident, I’ve driven across the country with my enormous dog twice, and I’ve had stitches in my head along with the requisite drugs associated with slightly massive skull contusions.

Oh, and I went to Vegas… with my mother.

I’m not even sure I know where to start with the pictures or the stories, so I’ll start here.

With this:

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Lion sex

Awkward, right?

One of my best friends just got back from Africa and sent me that pic.

(She took it. Obviously.)

I’ve been dying to go on safari for like ever, so I was super jealous — but also happy for her — because her pics were awesome… and my time will come when it’s right.

Right now, my time involves planning a blood drive at my church in July and finishing the feature, the pilot, and the bottle of Kim Crawford.

I’m off to have a planning call now to figure out the blood drive logistics, but before I go, here’s a pic of my bubba on the road.

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What he lacks in navigation skills, he makes up for in handsome.

Later!

LoveYouBye!

Albus and I Hit the Road Again (Or Big Dogs and the Salmon Cooler Taco Adventure)

OK, I’ve been gone for a while because WHOA, there’s been a lot happening.

Last week I was cleaning up after Thursday’s Beef Brisket dinner party and prepping for Friday’s Salmon Taco dinner party when I received a last-minute rental request for my place. The money was too good to turn down, so I accepted the request even though the timing wasn’t amazing considering I had a fridge full of leftovers and whatnot.

I mean, I wasn’t about to leave this salmon situation behind.

I'm selfish like that.

I’m selfish like that.

In addition to the logistical challenge presented by copious leftovers, accepting the request also meant that my dog and I would have to be out of our home within 24 hours and would have to find a place to stay for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

Um… not exactly easy.

See, if you’ve been following along for a while, you know my dog looks like this:

He doesn't exactly fit in my purse.

He doesn’t really fit in my purse.

I can’t sneak him into places where he’s technically not allowed because he’s enormous, enthusiastic, and just generally about as subtle as a hurricane, so I have to be legit about our arrangements. (Also, being legit is less stressful for my soul and stuff.)

That place? Also needs to be cheaper than my nightly rental rate or our adventure ends up being purely for the sake of anecdotes because it’s a wash financially.

Albus has been a trooper this year while I’ve been on a writing adventure that has virtually upended every aspect of our lives, but I think he may have been starting to lose his shit a little when I was packing us up to hit the road yet again, ‘cuz this happened.

Look Lady, I gave up my venison food so you could save a lousy $7 a month serving me lamb, but you had better bring it with us because lamb is the last straw.

Look, lady, I gave up my venison so you could save a lousy $7 a month serving me lamb, so you had better bring it with us because this tin of lamb is the last straw.

The poor beast. I kissed his head and told him my salmon might have been farm-raised instead of wild-caught. I mean, we’re ALL making sacrifices here.

ANYWAY…

Our first night out of our place, we stayed at the Motel 6 in Thousand Oaks because all Motel 6 locations are dog-friendly and because my first friend’s home would not be available until the following day.

Motel 6 also does not require pet deposits, and they don’t have size, breed, or weight restrictions. (If you’ve ever been on a road trip with a big man-dog, you will know this policy is a rare and wonderful combination.) I picked the Thousand Oaks location because it was close to my next destination in the valley, was still less expensive than my nightly rate to rent my place, and because it was cheaper than the LA locations. Besides, I like getting out of the city for a minute whenever I can.

Also?

It was kind of cute for a Motel 6.

(Like the Santa Barbara locations, it has recently been upgraded.)

How long are we staying here? But more importantly, when do I get some of the leftover salmon tacos you stashed in here?

How long are we staying here? But more importantly, when do I get some of the leftover salmon tacos you stashed in our cooler?

A few nights later, I finally got into the leftover salmon. Somewhere between my first and second salmon cooler taco, I started to question the wisdom of eating fish that had been on the road with me for days. I happened to be texting with my friend and shared my concerns.

His response?

“When in doubt, eat it.”

Since I was pretty much past the point of no return on the tacos, I was glad he helped me rationalize my questionable decision. I figured if I was vomiting the next day at least we’d BOTH be wrong. (I’ll spare you the suspense: I was fine.)

I’ve had many other moments when I’ve questioned myself on more than the tacos this week, but so many amazing people have come through for me in so many ways that I am not sure I will ever be able to properly put that into words.

So anyway…

I might write more about the who, what, when and where of our unfolding adventure or I may just need to hug all of the fabulous people in my life, throw them a massive thank you dinner when this is all over, and never speak of this again. We’ll see.

But for now?

I leave you with this: salmon cooler tacos are awesome, Motel 6 is the cheapest, easiest place to stay with a big ass dog, and I think you should listen to this song because I love it.

Goodbye.

I’m off to finish the script that I had to put on hold during the where-the-eff-are-we-staying-for-two-whole-weeks?!? fire drill that has been the last five days.

Don’t Give Up (Or Sometimes It’s OK to Vandalize the Kinkos Bathroom)

So I really want to wallow in self-pity today, but I’m not going to do it. I’m back in LA after a trip to Michigan, and now I’m experiencing some sort of post travel hangover.

You know, the kind that makes you want to get in the car again?

To go somewhere. Anywhere. Just so you don’t have to be in your own home facing your life again.

Because I kind of resemble a responsible adult, I’m not allowing myself to do that any more than I’m going to be all gloomy today.

See, my mother’s siblings and I went back to Michigan to celebrate my grandmother’s 86th birthday last week. While it was wonderful to be with my family, my grandfather passed away the day before her birthday two years ago, so the annual trip is always a bit bittersweet. I’ve allowed myself some time to be sad — and to celebrate with my family — and now it’s time to get back to business. This means blogging, setting calls, dusting around the TV, and other sorts of tedious activities. Well, not that blogging is totally tedious. I quite like it, actually.

I just find it hard to be all perky and witty when I’m not feeling it, but I guess life is about doing things even when you’re not feeling it sometimes. It’s about swinging at another pitch when your arms are aching. Getting out of bed when your heart is breaking. Walking another mile when your blisters burst two miles back. It’s about not giving up.

And sometimes, when you aren’t sure you can stand it another moment, someone else gives you the motivation.

I came across this graffiti in the Kinkos bathroom when I was having a bad day, and I was sort of glad someone had defaced the place with a Sharpie because I needed motivation. I also needed the reminder today when I wanted to crawl back in bed with the third Hunger Games book and avoid my life.

So, I’m going to be an adult today.

This means I’m going to turn off sad songs by The xx and blast the Billy Ocean so I can write my long overdue Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Post. I’m going to be an adult today.

Hell, I might even dust.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.