Get Your Glue Gun (Or Everything is Better with Plastic Sharks)

I’ve been reading through old screenplay drafts this week, and it’s almost like reading old diaries. There’s something really satisfying about tracking your progress as a storyteller this way.

It’s kinda cool.

But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about glue guns instead.

I had a small picnic recently and because I’m into being budget conscious at the moment I decided to recycle elements from my nautical birthday party two years ago.

My stenciled buckets made a comeback, among other things.

I bought these at Target and used my Martha stencils like a DIY goddess.

This is a pretty terrible picture of them, but you get the idea. 

It would not have been a challenge to just pull old party props out of a closet so I decided to throw some sharks into the mix. (That’s where the glue gun came in.)

See?

I glued a shark on a jar. Get excited for me.

I glued a shark on a lid. Get excited for me.

Actually, I glued a lot of sharks on lids.

More sharks on lids. Amazing.

So many pretty ocean predators. 

Riveting, right?

If you’re wondering what I did with the jars, I’ll show you.

Pea soup. Pea soup and sharks.

I put pea soup in them. 

This is the recipe for the pea soup, in case you want it.

And now I’m going to relax because someone told me today is the start of a holiday weekend.

Or whatever.

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.

The Impromptu Preppy Pool Party (Or I Call an Audible on My Party Plans)

Guys, today is my twelve-year LA anniversary.

Twelve. Years.

Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s a looooong time to live in one place. I have to admit: in that time, LA and I have had a rocky relationship. But recently? I realized that I’m kinda crazy in love with this stupid city.

This past weekend LA did make me question its love for me, however, when a large section of the 405 was closed for construction near the beachfront hotel where I was supposed to have my birthday party. (LA? Not one of your better moments in our relationship. Just saying…)

Despite weeks of planning, I found myself facing the possibility of my friends sitting in gridlock, cursing the day I was born instead of celebrating it. (#notcool)

So, I woke up at 4:30 am the day before the festivities and I called an audible on my party. I totally changed the play on the fly ‘cuz I wasn’t going to let some freeway construction cramp my style.

With less than 36 hours before my party was supposed to kick off, I cancelled my hotel room, sent an update to my Paperless Post invite, and completely re-envisioned my menu. I also made a Pinterest Board for a totally new event — at my own pool.

I went for a simple, preppy nautical theme. Here’s how it turned out.

By Paper + Cup on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I started with the “Little Lifesaver” invite from Paper + Cup on Paperless Post. Source

Then I stenciled a whole buncha boats, anchors, and lighthouses on everything with these stencils from my friend, Martha. (#loveher)

Simple nautical party decorations from Dogs Dishes and Decor

When this is your idea of keeping things simple, it’s probably time for an intervention. Just saying…

Simple snacks at a nautical themed pool party Dogs Dishes and Decor

Here are the stenciled treat bags in action.

Sprinkles Strawberry cupcakes in Williams Sonoma cupcake liners on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I picked up some striped cupcake liners at Williams Sonoma and made a quick batch of Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes.

Also?

Nautical Chandon on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Gillian totally came through with this nautical themed bottle of Chandon. #perfection

After the poolside grilling festivities, the single people hit up a few bars in my neighborhood.

J. Crew whale sweater on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Obviously my J. Crew whale sweater and I had to keep up the whole nautical theme late night.

I know I still owe you the rest of the wrap up on Finnie’s Elephant Theme shower. Now that I think about it… LA closed the 405 the day of his Elephant shower too. I think LA hates my theme parties.

But Finnie doesn’t.

He partied so hard at my pool party that he fell asleep.

See?

Sleeping baby Finn on Dogs Dishes and Decor

So presh.

More on his shower later. I’m off to yoga.

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 Make Martha’s Spinach, Peach, and Ginger Smoothie and It’s Only Aight (Or I Decide to Be Happy Anyway)

My grandpa always said people were too worried about whether or not they were happy. He said we should all stop thinking about it and just BE happy.

So today?

I woke up and just decided to be happy. I blasted some great tunes on my hike. Then I turned the music off, sat on my favorite rock in the woods, and got zen for five whole minutes.

When I got home I slurped down this spinach, peach, and ginger smoothie from Martha Stewart because I thought it sounded good.

Smoothie face on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I make a strange smoothie face in this awkward selfie.

Is the smoothie perfect? No. Can I make it better? Yes.

Just not today.

Today I’m smiling even though these photos aren’t perfect and neither is the food.

photo-468

#anotherawkwardselfie

Maybe later I’ll head to spinning ‘cuz that… makes me happy too.

But first?

I’m people watching at Peet’s because I love their lattes and I have a great view of some seeeerious characters on the sidewalk. #thesepeoplehavepinkhair

#happy

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.

photo-319

He was so cute and toasty in his sweater.

Now he’s naked. And Ordinary.

And my polar bear bearing candy?

photo-320

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.

jude-perry-st-0067-mld108634_vert

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.

What if Baby Connor Doesn’t Like Owls? (Or How to Throw an Owl Themed Baby Shower)

Even though the owl shower is on hold for now, I  figured I’d tell you how we’re going to do it. And hopefully Connor likes owls, ‘cuz the guest of honor is now attending his own shower, which is actually kind of awesome.

Menu

Mint and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

These simple sandwiches are oh so delicious. And easy to make.

I recommend using Persian cucumbers because I think they’re more flavorful than English cucumbers. I also think the sandwiches are better open faced because the bread can be too overpowering otherwise. The recipe is here.

Albacore and Artichoke Sandwiches

Albacore and artichokes are awesome with basil. Really.

Canned albacore in oil is a great substitute for Italian tuna in this recipe. Though the recipe calls for lemon juice and lemon zest, it’s also nice with lime. You can check out the recipe here.

Other sandwiches to complete the finger sandwich menu might be:

Roast Beef Sandwich with Horseradish Mayonnaise
Recipe here.

Turkey Sandwich with Cranberry Relish and Blue Cheese Butter
Recipe here.

I’d also throw in some prosciutto, mozzarella, and melon skewers as well as a salad.

Drinks

Mimosas
Lavender lemonade
Recipe here.

Desserts

Owl cupcakes. (Tutorial here.) For the base of the cupcakes, I would use these banana cupcakes.

These owls are blue and yellow because baby Connor was basically a Michigan Wolverine at conception.

Chocolate Ganache-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Seven Minute Meringue Frosting
I have made these many times, and Connor’s mom, Jody, digs them. They are amazing. The recipe is here.

Shower Gift

Owl Sachets. (Tutorial here.)

These lavender-filled owl sachets smell better than they look. For real.

You can get really elaborate with the decorations and go with a woodland-inspired rustic look for the cupcake stands as well as the flowers or you can keep it simple. If you’re looking for more owl baby shower ideas, you can check out this board I created specifically for Jody’s shower.

And this board includes a ton of owl ideas for a shower, a birthday, or a sorority party. (Fun fact: both Chi Omega and Kappa Kappa Gamma have an owl mascot.)