It’s All About Ice Cream (Or How to Make Brown Butter Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches)

I have to admit something. I consider cupcakes to be wasted calories. Sure, I’ll eat them from time to time if they’re around, but I absolutely never crave them. In fact, I never wake up thinking about cake of any kind. Ever.

Ice cream and cookies on the other hand?

OMIGOD.

#theyaremylife

Every year for my birthday I make ice cream cookie sandwiches for my party. I use this recipe from Bon Appetit for the brown butter cookies. The recipe suggests dipping the ice cream sandwiches in chocolate, but I skip that business. (#wastedcalories)

Besides, my favorite ice cream flavors are strawberry and orange pineapple, neither of which pair well with chocolate, if you ask me. The recipe says you can use store bought ice cream. Which I do. Sometimes. When I’m busy. Or being lazy.

When I’m not being all busy or lazy, I use this recipe for the strawberry ice cream.

Here they are on the dessert table at the Elephant themed baby shower.

See?

Brown butter ice cream cookie sandwiches from Dogs Dishes and Decor #icecream #epicurious

Divine.

I’m probably going to make them for my birthday party this weekend to go along with this ice cream cookie business.

Just in case you were wondering….

Aaaaanyway, I’m off to the pool now with my mug o’ emergen-c.

Raspberry emergen-c in a Michigan Mug on Dogs Dishes and Decor

#breakfastofchampions

I’m thinking a little relaxation plus vitamins B and C could be the cure for my cold. #mustgethealthyforparty

Pandas and Elephants, Oh My! (Or I Talk About Elephant Shower Decorations)

I’d like to interrupt this elephant shower talk with the announcement that my panda is blogging again.

I realize you may not know who my panda is or why I call her that; it’s a long story. Just know she’s one of my best friends in the world and she’s also one of the strongest, smartest, funniest, most amazing people I know. And I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

Two years ago, I got to meet her son when he was only a few days old and I happened to be in Michigan for a minute. I was supposed to help her with ideas for his Winnie the Pooh Party last year and got as far as this Pinterest board before the wheels fell of that plan.

Her son is almost two now, and she and her husband are going through the surrogacy process for a second time. For anyone who wants to read about that experience, you can find the posts on her blog here. Maybe this time I can get it right and do her shower up proper. (Something to think about, panda.)

Annnnnnd now, back to elephants. And the shower I threw in March.

We wanted to keep the cost relatively low, so we kept the flowers and decorations simple. We basically just raided the aisles of Target and went with soft pastels we found soothing and stuff.

See?

Elephant baby shower on Dogs Dishes and Decor

We used wrapping paper as a table runner. Then we bought some ugly elephants from Michaels and painted that business gold with some paint from Martha.

We wanted to keep the flowers simple, so we stuffed some tulips into mason jars. I did spiff up the tulips on the craft table, just a little….

Baby shower craft table on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Bows make stuff look fancy.

For the dessert table we used the cake stands leftover from my Peter Pan party. I wish we had changed the ribbon in them. Black is kinda macabre for a baby shower. (I ran out of time.)

Dessert Table on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I also wish you couldn’t see the grill looming like some big body bag in the background, but I was too busy hosting the show to worry about the picture quality. Blah.

As you can see, it was not perfect. But it WAS fun.

More on the menu and crafts another day. I’m sick and off to suck down the cough medicine my friend Vijaya brought me. #iloveher

I Just Can’t Talk About Elephants (Or I Admit I’m Sad)

Right now I want to talk to you about this.

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It’s the elephant themed baby shower I threw for one of my closest friends.

And I kind of want to talk to you about this whole situation.

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Both the meaning of what’s on my wall and the massive home “to do” list next to it… but right now?

I just can’t.

Instead, I want to talk to you vulnerability. Yuck, I know. Totally monstrous. But hear me out.

About two weeks ago, I got into a car accident on my way to a nail appointment. I was all lost in my head about 14 different things (per usual), running late (always) and particularly stressed out about the being late part. See, the mani/pedi was a gift from my aunt and it was with her manicurist of 20 years. I am BY FAR the most disorganized, air headed person in my entire family, and I feel like I’m always letting them down with my general tardiness and scatterbrainity. (I should mention I was also three months overdue in scheduling said appointment.)

So anyway, I was checking my phone to see how far away I was when I crashed into the back of a Lexus. So that sucked. I had been planning to call the manicurist to tell her I was going to be 5-10 minutes late. Instead I had to call her and admit I’d just crashed into an LS 400 and was going to be more like 30 minutes late. None of this was awesome… and it’s only the beginning of my story.

The next morning I had to have this conversation with a guy that I was simply dreading, but I knew running away from it was a far worse option, so I made myself call. After leaving a message for him, I talked to my mother and she started telling me things that are going on with my family in Michigan that made me simultaneously devastated and relieved that I live 2500 miles away. (I will not get into it here because they are not my stories to tell. Suffice it to say, you would not wish any of it on your worst enemy.) She also said I should call my grandmother because her sister in Canada had just suffered a massive stroke. While this would be devastating news in and of itself, it’s only a fraction of what my grandmother is actually enduring. See, when Greta passes away, she will be grandmother’s third sister to die in two years. In those two years my grandmother has buried her husband of 67 years and her 25 year-old grandson.

I cannot even begin to fathom this sometimes.

I usually call my grandma on Sundays to chat but called her immediately to cheer her up. The guy called me back as I was wrapping up with my grandma, and I had the conversation I was afraid to have. By the end of it all, I felt like I had just gone 15 rounds with Ivan Drago hitting me in the face. And the thing is?

There was nothing I could do about any of it. Nothing at all.

So I blasted Macklemore, made some soup, and danced in my kitchen. See, that’s usually how I deal with life. I dance. I do nice things for other people instead of asking them to help me. I cover shit with glitter, making it look all cute and fancy. I throw elaborate dinner parties where I flit around like a cheerful little bird in high heels.

And usually?

I smile when I want to scream.

Part of the reason I’ve been so absent from my blog is not just that I was working on a huge project for the Oscars that was taking all of my time. It was also because my usual I’m-happy-everything’s-fine routine has been feeling really false since my cousin committed suicide in November.

Most of the time I’m the dependable drone who puts her head down and gets the job done no matter what it costs her. Whether it means sacrificing sleep, my social life, or my sanity, I just do it. I’m the kind of person you want around in a crisis. I’m focused. I’m in command. And I’m moving 100 miles an hour. The problem for me is when the crisis ends. Or worse yet, when there isn’t a resolution for it at all.

What then?

I used to go the batting cages and absolutely beat the ever loving shit out of balls flying at my face when I was upset. It was a way I could deal with the rage I felt about the things I couldn’t fix. And today I’m close to picking up a bat and swinging at balls until I can’t lift my arms again. The problem with this option is that the guy who used to take me is 2800 miles away, married with two kids, and prepping for a huge trial. And I could go alone, but right now going to the batting cages without him might just be another reminder of everything in my life that is gone.

I was in Costco this morning (again with low blood sugar – WHY do I do this to myself?!?) and I was close to having a screaming fit because I couldn’t find the peanut butter or the V-8. I wanted to scream “WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU PUT THE FUCKING SKIPPY, YOU ASSHOLES? I’M STARVING AND I WANT TO PUT ALL OF THE FUCKING PEANUT BUTTER IN NORTH AMERICA INTO MY FUCKING CART AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!”

But I didn’t do that. My WASP roots prevailed and instead I silently, stoically, and methodically went up and down the aisles suppressing my rage until I found the Skippy stash. I did this when I wanted to go absolutely postal.

See, it’s easier to really let go and scream about the things that don’t matter like 32 pounds of peanut butter. It somehow hurts less to get upset about Skippy than the things that are really tearing you apart. It’s easier to scream “Where’s the stupid Skippy?” when you really want to scream, “Why was I up so late working that I missed my chance to say goodbye to one of the most important men in my life?” “Why did my cousin have to hang himself over a couple of bad grades?” and “Why does every company or project have to fold, get sold, or come to an end when I’m finally getting back on my feet?”

Why?

And the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Finding an answer to all the “whys” doesn’t solve anything anyway. Sitting with the pain does. Leaning into the pain instead of running from it — that’s the work. Telling someone how bad it really feels? That’s what matters. So I’m starting here. I’m admitting it here.

I’ve spent most of my life being strong. For myself. For others. And I think maybe what I’m learning is that in life…

You have to be strong enough to break.

Because that’s where the real healing starts.

Now you should totally watch this TED talk because it’s all kinds of amazing, and Brene Brown is much smarter than I am.

I’m off to blast Rebecca Black’s Friday because I can’t sit with the pain for too long. I need to dance in my kitchen. And maybe? I also need to channel some Ivan Drago and take up boxing… because no matter how hard it gets, I’m never going to stop swinging.

I’m a 13-Year Old Girl (Or This Adolescent is Planning Another Baby Shower)

I love free food. (We’ve established this.) Yesterday I was choking down my chana masala, not really in the mood for it, when one of my coworkers mentioned there was leftover food in the kitchen. Obviously I ran down the hall to investigate. When I entered the room, I discovered brown paper boxes lining the counter. I grabbed the box labeled “Spicy Italian Sandwich” and returned to my desk with my salami swag.

Upon opening the box I discovered an entire lunch had been packed inside. “There are chips in here!” I exclaimed gleefully. I was happily unpacking the other contents of the box when my coworker asked, “Anika, is your father still around?”

“He is.”

“You must bring him endless joy… because there is a part of you that will always be a 13-year old girl.”

“That’s probably why he has so many shotguns,” I replied, picking the tomato slices off of my sandwich. I wasn’t really sure where he was going with this train of thought, but my first reaction is usually to make a joke if I can.

“Well, I don’t know about that, but the way you got so excited about the chips… it was adorable. Tell him the dad in the office said so. He’ll know what I mean.” At this point I was about fifteen shades of crimson, because I’m a WASP and genuine, heartfelt statements like this make me blush. But it was sweet. And I have to admit he wasn’t wrong. I will probably always be a bit of a kid inside.

That’s why it’s hard for me to take down my Christmas decorations every year. I hate the idea of shoving all of that pretty, sparkly stuff into some dark closet. I absolutely had to force myself to do it last weekend. I mean, I think I died a little inside when I had to take the Cynthia Rowley sweater off of my vodka bottle.

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He was so cute and toasty in his sweater.

Now he’s naked. And Ordinary.

And my polar bear bearing candy?

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So generous. And regal.

He’s back in a closet. Crying ‘cuz he’s not handing out licorice in my living room.

But it’s time to move on. I get that.

I know I can’t hang on to the season that has past or I might miss what the new season has in store. I honestly don’t know what this spring will bring because absolutely everything in my life is up in the air, but I do know I’m planning a baby shower for one of my best friends. And that’s pretty awesome.

It involves elephants. For real.

See?

invitation

Photo courtesy of Paperless Post

I’m trying so hard not to do this to the dessert table.

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Photo courtesy of Martha. Obviously.

We’ll see if restraint preveals, ‘cuz this is all kinds of cute, right? (Plus it brings back polar bears.)

If you want to see what else is percolating in my party planning brain, you can check out this pinterest board.

Soon we’ll discuss my bedroom situation because I decided arson wasn’t the answer.