Things to Think About (Or Real Estate and Stuff)

I’m back from Michigan… again.

I’ve made the trek to the Mitten State twice in the last eight weeks.

This last trip included a meeting with an estate planning attorney, four separate roof replacement estimates, a wedding, a baseball game, and meals with my parents (separately, of course).



Front row at Comerica Park with my papa.


Papa showing the contractors his fancy gutter guards.


My brilliant stepsister getting married in Ted Baker…. (I’m thrilled I was there.)

For some reason, I don’t have any pictures of my dinner (and staycation) at Ann Arbor’s Weber Boutique Inn with my mummy, but you get the idea….

I’m grateful I can get away to take care of my parents’ affairs, but I have mixed feelings every time I board the plane to return to LA.

I’ve been in California for nearly 18 years, and while it feels like home, I often question my decision to remain here.

I’m not ostensibly using my film degree(s) at present, which was the entire reason for moving to Southern California in the first place. I do have a strong support system in LA that I lack in my home state, but is that really a reason to stay?

That’s not to say that I don’t have a few truly wonderful friends in Michigan, but I have a much larger network here. I know it’s not about the number of friends you have; the depth of the relationship counts, and my Michigan friends are, without a doubt, made of amazing, but…

I’ve spent the better part of two decades building a life in LA, and it’s hard to think about saying goodbye to it.

Among other concerns, I often wonder what I’d do for money if left Southern California.

I’ve always wanted to renovate and flip houses — a much more attainable goal in a state where you can buy a house for less than the downpayment on a modest (read: small) house in LA, so there is that possibility.

For example…

This house in East Lansing is listed for $187,000.


I die for these trees. (Photo credit: Zillow)

It has great bones, and a lot of renovation potential.


Just look at the hardwood floors! (Photo credit: Zillow)


While the cabinets and floor have to go, that light fixture is midcentury, retro fabulous. (Photo credit: Zillow)


That bathtub is absolutely midcentury amazing, but the rest could use some help. (Photo credit: Zillow)

So now that you’ve seen an example of a house in my dad’s neighborhood, how about one in mine?


This is listed at $1,175,00. (Photo Credit: Zillow)


Yes, really… $1,175,000. (Photo credit: Zillow)

I’m not saying either house is move-in ready, but you get the idea….

So, anyway, I’m not sure what to do with my life. I just know I’m thinking about things I hadn’t considered five — or even ONE year ago.

Everything has changed since my dad was diagnosed with dementia and my mom with Parkinson’s….

Whatever happens, and wherever I go, I know I’m lucky to have these little nuggies by my side.


They are stinky, and they are EVERYTHING.

Okay, that’s all for now.

I’m going to snuggle with the big dog babies before placing some sort of self-indulgent LA food delivery order.

I may as well do all of the So-Cal things while I still live here… however long that is.

Nostalgic About Nicole and Paint Fumes (Or A Gift Wrap Round Up)

I had this funny moment while I was wrapping my friend Nicole’s birthday present today: I realized when I started this blog three years ago, I was high on paint fumes from a bathroom remodel gone wrong, and I was WRAPPING NICOLE’S BIRTHDAY PRESENT. (My first post ever is HERE.)

Crazy, right?

And now that I’m feeling all nostalgic (and a little let down because I’ve run out of things to remodel around here), I thought I’d do a little Nicole-inspired gift wrap round up post.

This was a fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright book I bought her at a vintage book store… and yes, I wrapped it in pages from the Penny Saver and decorated it with a sharpie and painter’s tape.

I told you I was high on paint fumes then.

I told you I was high on paint fumes back then.

I felt like it all tied together in an architecture/design/home-improvment kind of way. (Nicole is an uber talented interior designer, and one of her favorite books of all time is Loving Frank. Her website is HERE, btw.)

And here’s last year’s gift: a copy of All There Is, a collection of short stories about love from the producers of NPR’s StoryCorps. (We were both very into love stories last spring. Who isn’t?!? ❤ )

Danny the Dino totally wanted the book.

Eugene the Euoplocephalus totally wanted it.

I deliberately used blue and orange so the gift would match her outfit for our San Diego birthday weekend to a Tigers/Padres game because I’m broken for color-coordination.


Rawr, Tiger!

Rawr, Tiger, you totally match!

I’m not the only one who gets into details like that. This was her birthday gift to me last year.

And this is her gift to me!

Don’t you love how the colors work perfectly together with the lotto ticket and the bag?

I do!!! (This is why Nicole and I get each other.) The bag was also filled with goodies that were color-coordinated with my birthday invite. (True story.)

And now I will leave you with a little sneak peek at this year’s gift wrap for her Mexican-themed birthday party.

No hablo English.

No hablo Ingles, Perras!

On that note, I’m off to work on my rewrite for a few hours before making Nicole’s tres leches birthday cake.

If the cake doesn’t suck, I’ll hook you up with the recipe next week. (And don’t worry: I haven’t forgotten I still owe you the recipe for her sister Elle’s peanut butter Peter Rabbit cupcakes. You can now find that HERE.)


My Interior Design Soulmate (Or I LOVE Liz Caan)

Guys, I’m in love. I found my interior design soulmate. Her name is Liz Caan, and she’s UH-MAZING. Her style is preppy with pops of feisty color and wacky flair. She relies heavily on my favorite things: monograms and animals.

She even used my infamous deer head in one of her rooms.


Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

We are so in sync, Liz.

When I found her on Pinterest, it was love at first sight and I absolutely had to see more of her work. My research led me straight to her website where I fell deeper in love. Clicking through her portfolio was making my day, and I just had to know: From whence does this divine creature come?

Massachusetts, folks. Liz hails from Newton, Mass.

My reaction?

Of course she’s from New England… so are like half of my friends.

When the Tigers blew a 5-1 run lead and lost game two at Fenway last night, it was a stark reminder that there are a lot of Red Sox fans in my life. Reading my Facebook newsfeed after the game basically gave me emotional whiplash. My Michigan contingency was cursing the Tigers’ relief pitching, while my New England crew could hardly contain their excitement over the Red Sox comeback.

That got me thinking: maybe I gravitate toward east coasters because I belong in New England myself. Let’s think about it for a minute: I love lobster, sports… and Top Siders. I’m super good at suppressing my feelings, I adore pearls, and I think Tom Brady walks on water.

Hmm… something to think about while I bask in the California sunshine….

ANYWAY, back to Liz.

I’m just going to bathe myself in her talent and forget everything that makes me sad about Michigan sports… like the good old fashioned New Englander WASP I am….

Liz Caan bedroom on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Monograms, nautical knots, AND animal legs on an end table? Liz, you get me.

Liz Caan wet bar on Dogs Dishes and Decor

The world is YOUR oyster, Liz. Let’s have clam chowder together.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

How can you go wrong with chevron and the Union Jack? I mean…

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This more subdued room soothes me. Plus it’s maize and blue.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Again with the animal table legs. LOVE them. They remind me of Fawn Tumnus from Narnia… if Narnia were in a slightly psychedelic corner of New England.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I’d almost be too mesmerized by that wall to play pool here, but I could probably power through long enough to put the eight ball in the corner pocket.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Look at that happy giraffe peering over the perfectly monogramed pillows! Just LOOK at him! He probably loves monograms as much as Liz and I do.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I could host a lively cocktail party in this colorful corner of heaven, complete with daring drinks and brave appetizer pairings.

Liz Caan on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is the sort of chic, sophisticated place I’d like to retreat to while serving tea sandwiches and supressing my feelings about blown leads in baseball. It’s heavenly.

So that’s Liz. All of the images are from her website.

Do you have a design crush?

Do tell.


Of Mustache Men and Shrimp (Or I Make the Shrimp Dish from Bon Appetit)

A few years ago I was dating this guy. I was starting to have some misgivings about the entire situation (long story), and I wasn’t entirely surprised when he initiated the break up conversation. The way he started the conversation, however, really solidified that our parting was for the best. It went like this,

“You’re just too into sports for me.”

Too into sports?

Only in LA.

I mean, go to a gallery opening by yourself and enjoy the bouquet of your chardonnay without me, dude, because I have first baseline seats to the Dodgers. And I’ll be drinking beer while I cheer for them. Sure, I like art A LOT but you probably shouldn’t care about it more than I do.

SO, anyway, the World Series begins in San Francisco tomorrow night, and I’m super excited because my Tigers will be playing the Giants. The last time they won the World Series I was six. And Kirk Gibson was still on the team.


Can we talk about the crush I had on Kirk Gibson as a kid? Oh. My. God. Photo Courtesy of Classon Avenue Blogspot.

I mean, if that mustache doesn’t make you want to be a Tigers fan, maybe this one will.

Magnum was the original mustache man. And Detroit Tigers fan. Photo courtesy of razz ball.

Now that you’re all convinced I have some sort of closet facial hair fetish, I should switch subjects because I probably can’t convince you otherwise. Yes, I’m excited about the World Series, but I’m also excited that I have the perfect leftover dish to eat while I watch the game.

See, I made this shrimp dish from the October Bon Appetit, and now I won’t have to worry about cooking tomorrow night.

This shrimp dish is simple and delicious. Plus it has World Series written all over it. Or something…

Now I can concentrate on the game while I shovel shrimp into my mouth instead of making dinner. I might pan fry some spicy sausage and add it to the dish because it would be all kinds of awesome with some chorizo. You should do it too. Even if you’re like the ex and don’t care about baseball.

Baseball and The Evolution of My Bookshelf (Or I Paint an Old Piece of Furniture)

When I was a kid, I remember my dad listening to Detroit Tigers games on the radio while he was tinkering with the lawnmower or whatever. Today, I’m bringing back the radio. Sort of.

See, TBS has made the sound scheduling decision to air reruns of The Mentalist instead of game four of the ALCS. Reruns. Instead of a pivotal game in the American League Championship Series. Since I can’t miss the game, my life has been reduced to listening to ESPN radio online while I write my post about my bookshelf redesign.

So anyway, let’s talk about the bookshelf instead of TBS. I’m not sure I’m done tweaking the accessories, but here’s the evolution of the piece….

The bookshelf project began with a bargain purchase at the National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Shop. And a power sander.

After painting the piece, I tinkered for absolutely forever with the accessories.

I tried a combination of books and white pieces, but decided I hated the books. Also, Albus broke the gravy boat when he investigated it with his face.

This gravy boat talk bores me, lady.

So, after brooming the books, I tried a different arrangement of white dishes, minus the broken gravy boat.

But I didn’t like this either. It looked like my Jonathan Adler salt and pepper shakers were getting married or something.

So, then I tried this.

And I THINK I like this. For now.

But I still don’t know what to do with the TOP of the bookshelf. I mean, I think this is too busy looking.

And I know I’m not getting any points for my floral arrangement here. They were clippings the gardeners left on the sidewalk, and I thought they were too pretty to go in the trash.

So anyway, that’s where I am right now. Sort of liking the shelves. Sort of stumped with the items on the top issue.

And now I need to deal with my bedroom chalkboard wall redesign. More on that later.