It’s All Love (Or Every Day Should be Valentine’s Day)

I know you’re thinking Valentine’s Day is so two weeks ago… but guys? It’s not. I’m all about love right now, and it started with this cake. 

Ombre frosting and gilded dino Valentine's Day Cake from Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is how dinosaurs show love. (They told me.)

I think Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap, but it’s probably because we let the whole thing get so out of control with candy and cards that we forget it’s actually about LOVE. When we shift the focus from love to the trappings of love, we make it a day filled with pressure and expectations for couples that also magnetizes the loneliness of the single people.

This year I wanted  everyone to feel included regardless of their relationship status, so I decided to make a Valentine’s Day cake for my coworkers. I wanted everyone to feel love — especially the people who were really feeling down about being single.

I believe there is more to love than sex, romance, and wedding bells. The Greeks had four words for it, and only one referred to the romantic kind. They recognized love comes in many forms, and I wanted to celebrate that.

Because I have a totally wacked sensibility, I thought the best way to celebrate my all-encompassing version of love was with a little ambiguous humor… hence the gilded fighting dinos. They’re so me. I mean, I love gold paint. Plus I can’t take ANYTHING too seriously. (Even cake.)

I used the Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe for the cake. Then I slathered homemade whipping cream and fresh strawberries between the layers.

Strawberry layer cake on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is what strawberries look like on a cake. In case you didn’t know.

Then I did some ombre magic with the frosting.

Ombre frosting on Dogs Dishes and Decor

The magic involved my freezer… for a few minutes on each layer.

Then I threw it all together and topped it off with toys I covered in gold paint. The dinos are such a secret metaphor with so many layers of meaning for me that I smile when I look at them, but you can interpret them anyway you wish. They can serve your story too, and that’s maybe why I like them so much. They’re not just my story; they can be yours too.

Valentine's Day Cake By Dogs Dishes and Decor

Making all this stuff? Made ME happy too.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I made this card with my Martha paints.

Valentine's Day Card on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Cake? Is for everyone. Have some.

And now I leave you with this. It’s the Supremes. They started the love train.

It’s time to get on board.

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

It’s Time to Talk About Elephants Part 1 (Or How to Make Elephant Favors for a Baby Shower)

Last March I threw a baby shower for my friend Katy. She and I grew up five miles away from each other in East Lansing, we both went to the University of Michigan… and we were both born August 3.

Kinda crazy, right?

Anyway, I didn’t write about the shower at the time because I was in a super huge funk.

But now?

I’m better. So it’s time to talk about the baby shower. Plus? These days her son is this darling little man who wore his Michigan onesie on August 3 just to wish me a happy birthday.

See?

Baby on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Finn knows what’s up in this Michigan business.

So anyway, the shower. Katy’s sister and I put the whole thing together.

And honestly? It really was one of the highlights of my spring. The whole idea for elephants started with this invitation and just exploded from there.

I’m going to start the Elephant Shower Series with the favors today. And then I’ll get into the menu and decorations next week.

Sound good?

Here it goes.

The favors were inspired by this DIY soy candle from Ruffled blog.

Since Katy’s not all that into scented stuff, I decided to make lemon curd instead of soy candles. I found this recipe from Ina Garten and got to work peeling lemons for days. (Just a heads up: if you do make the lemon curd, use a fine lemon zester instead of a carrot peeler and put the zest in the food processor. TRUST ME.)

I found this fabulous elephant thingy from Martha Stewart while I was wandering the aisles of Michael’s and decided to use it for the tags to make them super elephant-y.

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I used watercolor paints to replicate the look of the tags on the soy candles.  I punched the elephant shapes out with the craft punch thingy. Then I glued them on pieces of cardboard.

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When the favors were all assembled they looked like this.

Lemon Curd Favors for a Baby Shower on Dogs Dishes and Decor #elephant #babyshower #babyboy

Just in case you’re wondering about the fabric, it’s Amy Butler that I had leftover from Connor’s baby shower.

That was the owl shower that didn’t happen because he arrived five weeks early…. on August 3.

It all comes full circle.

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Connor turned one… on August 3.

Oh, Canada! (Or How to Make a Bacon Old Fashioned)

While Americans are getting ready to celebrate our independence on Thursday by launching explosives into the sky and burning the tips of our fingers off with sparklers, our neighbors to the north are already celebrating their independence today. July 1 is Canada Day, and as such I’d like to take a moment to recognize all of the wonderful things the neighbors to the north have given me like maple syrup, malt bread, and Carly Rae Jepson.

Actually, it also gave me my mother and her fabulous family, as well the opportunity to make an ill-advised Fendi purchase at the Duty Free in Windsor while legally intoxicated at 19 years of age.

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#drunkendutyfreepurchase #ididdumbstuffincollege #toomanyloonies #istillwearit #rationalizationsrule

In addition to marveling that I’m still wearing that watch five fifteen years later, I’ve also been reflecting on the many differences between my homeland and that of my mum today.

Without getting too bogged down in philosophy or ideology, I think it’s sort of like this: America is like the older sister who had to break in her strict English parents so that her little sister had it easier when her time came to rebel. We had to sneak out of our bedroom late at night to see a boy throw a temper tantrum in the Boston Harbor over the tax on tea so our parents were prepared when our younger sister nicely, politely, with her hands folded asked, “May I please be excused from the table?” 100 years later.

At the risk of sounding like an American a$$hole, I’d like to say…

You’re welcome, Canada.

I really love you. I do. So today I honour you by putting an unnecessary “u” in that word, and by pouring the maple syrup my grandmother purchased in Ottawa into my bacon-infused bourbon to make a bacon old fashioned.

Bacon Old Fashioned from Dogs Dishes and Decor

Behold, there’s bacon in my bourbon.

If you want to make your own, you can find the recipe here. In a vain attempt to make it a little healthier and slightly more Paleo-friendly, you could cut back a bit on the maple syrup and use reduced sodium bacon. Or you could say, “Screw it. I’m just going to put all kinds of unhealthy stuff in my body right now for fun. And not stressing about it will be better for me than any attempt to make it healthy.” #sothere

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sip my unhealthy concoction, crank up the Call Me Maybe, and scour the internet for a malt bread recipe, ‘cuz you just can’t find that junk here and it’s made of amazing. I’d pay Fendi-level Loonies for it….

Oh, and just in case bourbon’s not your bag and you’re looking for another way to get your maple syrup on, check out this recipe for flourless maple cookies on Things My Belly Likes. They’re gluten free and #iwanttomakethem.

The Roof, the Roof is On Fire (Or I Attempt to Fry Chicken)

So, LA is beyond weird. I mean, look at this madness.

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We ran into this bizarre little pony and his goat friend on our morning hike recently. They were apparently part of some strange movie being shot in our neighborhood. We also encountered a battered and bloodied Girl Scout running out of the woods wearing a bad beret, and that absolutely freaked Woodley out. She started barking like mad which probably ruined the shot, but that’s what people get for making unsavory low budget films when I’m trying to hike in the morning.

So anyway, I mostly embrace the madness that is LA, but there is a part of me that longs for something sort of homey and normal-like. So tonight in an attempt to keep things real, I made some fried chicken.

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I nearly set the place on fire and Albus had to retreat to the window for some fresh air, but it mostly turned out well.

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It’s probably safer over here.

I riffed off of this recipe from Miss Paula Deen (naturally). I used a mixture of mustard powder and onion powder instead of garlic powder, and it totally worked.

See?

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It was kind of awesome — even if my plating isn’t.

Later this week we’ll discuss last night’s Indian dish. And the state of my bedroom walls, ‘cuz that conversation is LONG overdue.

Now I’m going to crank up the Divine Miss Beyonce and attempt to get the grease off of my stovetop.

Lord. It’s a mess.

Costco, Rotisserie Chicken, and Spicy Margies (Or How to Make a Jalapeno Margarita)

So, I went to Costco on Sunday. When I was starving. After yoga.

#epicfail

I consider it a personal triumph that I didn’t walk out of the place carrying 42 crab legs, 55 pineapples, and 14 rib eyes. The fact that my only unplanned purchases were a rotisserie chicken and a pink polka dotted beach towel is nothing short of remarkable.

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Coscto is so amazing.

I’ll be honest — the whole outing was sort of a mess. I mean, I was that cranky sort of hungry that makes me violent inside. Plus everyone in the store was extra fat and slow, and they were all letting their nine-years old push the double wide cart, which never goes well for anyone. I mostly held it together, though. (I think.)

As long as I’m being all truthful, I should also probably admit that I nearly tore into that unplanned rotisserie chicken the minute I got into my car like some sort of savage, but I thought better of myself and opted for a can of V-8 instead. (Those rotisserie chickens are greasy. Truth.)

Aaaanyway, I now possess more canned tomatoes than any single person should, so I thought I’d make some chili. This turned into I-should-also-make-quesadillas-and-salsa-verde. Oh and jalapeno margaritas.

Who doesn’t love a spicy margy?

I mean…

Since I had to rush off to USC for this fabulous TWIN PEAKS retrospective, I decided to start marinating my jalapeño slices in tequila before I left. (BTW, If you don’t know about Bob and the Black Lodge, get on that s#*@ now. You can thank me later.)

Of course the SAG Awards were on campus the same day as the TWIN PEAKS screening, so it was an absolute nightmare getting to my event. Every entrance onto campus from Fig was blocked off, there were cavalcades of Escalades and town cars converging from all directions, and I had to park absolutely miles away from campus. I may have even had to run in riding boots, but I made it the theater before the first bar of Angelo Badalamenti’s moving score.

Meanwhile, my margies were marinating at home.

So that was my Sunday. Truly riveting, right?

Aaaanyway, if you like a little kick with your drink, here’s how you can make a spicy margy.

Jalapeno Margaritas

6 oz tequila
4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz triple sec
1 fresh jalapeno
Ice cubes

Slice one fresh jalapeno into thin slices.

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Jalapeno slices. Riveting.

Place the slices into tequila and allow the chiles to marinate for a least one hour. (The longer you let the chiles sit, the spicier your margy.)

Strain the tequila to remove the seeds and jalapeno slices.

Pour the tequila, fresh lime juice, and triple sec into a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a glass and serve. Garnish with jalapeño slices for a little flair.

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Drink. And repeat. But not too many times. You probably have to work in the morning.

It’s Sorta Fred Segal-ish (Or How to Make a Baby Gift Arrangement on a Budget)

Last year I was producing a brand sponsored web series, and one of the actors’ wives had a baby while we were in production. Life Size at Fred Segal does darling arrangements, so I decided to put one together for the baby. The items included were inside jokes from the project, but you get the idea.

Obviously, the web series was car related.

So, anyway, when friends of mine recently had a baby, I stole the Fred Segal idea and assembled my own baby gift.

Here’s how I did it… just in case you want to try it yourself.

Both of the baby’s parents are Wolverines, so I decided to go with a Michigan theme. If you don’t want to use a theme, you could just go with a coherent color scheme instead. I found most of the gifts on Amazon, and I bought the box, tissue paper, and clear gift wrap at Target.

Here are the items before assembly. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo, but the stuffed dog is wearing fleecy baby Michigan slippers because I’m a dork like that.

Albus thinks he’s helping.

I taped the box together so that the bottom of the box became a stage and the top of the box became a backdrop. I stuffed the one-sie so it would stand up on its own. Then I wrapped the boxes in tissue paper before taping the items in place.

Here it is all assembled and stuff.

Next, I covered the arrangement in plastic wrap and tied it together with ribbon from Michael’s. (I think I would use a wider ribbon next time.)

This was fun to make, and it was a lot more affordable than the Fred Segal version.

I’ve decided this is my new thing to do when people have babies. I suggest starting early and collecting cute items over a few months so you can do something really special. I was a little crunched for time on this particular project, but I was still pretty pleased with the results.

You know, as pleased as a perfectionist can be….