Productive Procrastination (Or Life Goals)

I should be writing today. I mean this kinda counts, but not really. I should be working on my second pilot, but I did that yesterday. Or maybe two days ago. Either way, I’m not feeling that script today… or my second feature.

Today I’m feeling sausage, bacon, and truffle popcorn, but that’s not really news. I’m always in the mood for those things.

Do you know what is news?

U of M and Notre Dame will be rekindling their rivalry in 2018. That announcement made my day. I’m already planning a pilgrimage to Ann Arbor for the 2019 match up in the Big House. I put the entire crew on notice as soon as I woke up.

Know what else I’m planning?

A trip to Michigan for the Wisconsin game in October.

We haven’t played Wisco in absolutely forever, and it’s always a good time. Plus that game coincides with my Grandma’s birthday, so the trip is sort of like multitasking. #winningatlife

The other thing putting me in a good mood?

The rose I found at Costco for $12.69.

It’s delicious.

Also?

Any wine purchased at Costco is well-deserved and can be opened immediately upon returning home because procuring it generally involves waiting in line behind someone buying 4,000 diapers and 42 bottles of hand sanitizer.

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Costco needs an express line for single people. #truth

So, that’s sort of the latest. Oh, and I did a dialogue rewrite of a movie that starts shooting this week in New Orleans, so that was awesome.

In other news, I want to own a sports bar some day. I spend enough time in them that I may as well get a return on my investment, right?

In the spirit of learning the business from the ground up, I picked up a few shifts at a chill spot on the westside with good burgers and solid crew of regulars. I’m getting writing material up to my eyes, and I’m also learning things about city ordinances for grease lines, the importance of free goldfish crackers, and cutting off drunk people in baseball caps.

Plus? I’m having fun.

You’re not really living if you’re not having fun… or changing things up.

Speaking of changing things up…. I said goodbye to my stick this spring.

That may not seem like a huge thing, but I have driven manuals since I got my license, so it feels like the end of an era, because I’m not exactly 16.

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I’ll miss you, manual.

It was time, though.

I needed more room for the Bubba… and my 92,000 bags.

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Points if you can find the pup in the pic. #sorrybaby

It got the Mercedes GLA, and it may be a lot bigger than my last car, but the turning radius is TO DIE FOR. If you’ve ever had to pull an illegal U-ey in LA you’ll understand why this is key. German engineering is no joke.

So, things are changing.

And in the spirt of all that, here’s a song I’m into right now celebrating changes in the air.

 

Michigan Men and Wolverine Women (Or How to Make Peet’s Maple Latte)

OK, this post has to be kinda quick because I have A LOT to do today. I’m on page 50 of my script rewrite, and I need to finish revising it this weekend. I also have a whole bunch of Grey’s Anatomy episodes to study for story structure, and I really need a massage because my body is a mess.

Oh, and I think I’m coming down with a cold.

In the spring. When it’s like 95 outside.

Whatever.

SO…

I usually limit my caffeine intake to one latte at dawn, but today I’m really dragging so I decided I needed a little more espresso in my life. Peet’s Coffee is by far my favorite in LA, and they have this totally amazing maple latte that I sometimes sip for a special treat. It’s actually made with real maple syrup (I asked), so it’s not as crazy on the glycemic scale as a Torani syrup. (This makes me happy.)

Plus, I’m half Canadian and everyone knows Canadians are genetically obligated to like maple syrup so there’s also that.

I didn’t want to schlep all of the way to Peet’s and shell out $4.75 for maple goodness when time and money were precious today, so made a maple latte at home.

See?

Here it is in my Michigan mug.

Here is my happy maple latte in my happy Michigan mug.

I made that vase for a Michigan Alumni Club event I threw last year, and the club gave me this mug as a thank you for my efforts. (Cute, right?)

Here’s another look at the latte up close — in case you don’t know what coffee looks like.

I love Michigan. And espresso.

I love Michigan. And espresso.

I know you’re probably all like, “Of course you love your alma mater. Whatever,” but I need to be honest with you.

I didn’t want to go to Michigan.

I was super, super angry my parents made me go to a state school for budget reasons, and I was very ungrateful for the opportunity to study at a top-rated university because I thought it was beneath me — and because I didn’t want to be surrounded by people from my high school who had lower test scores and lower GPAs than I had.

I also wanted to run away from my past and everyone from my high school who knew about it — only they were everywhere on campus. There were 324 of us in my graduating class, and 75 of us went to Michigan. At least 15 were in my dorm, and seeing them was hard for me at times.

In retrospect, they weren’t the problem.

My anger was.

I eventually made peace with Michigan, and now I’m also making peace with my past. Writing has played a huge part in my healing, and I’m so grateful God gave me the ability to express myself in this way.

I’m grateful I had to sit in my discomfort for four years in Ann Arbor because it made me stronger. And now I’m grateful for the opportunity to give voice to my story.

This quote I found in the Michigan Alumni magazine sums up how I feel about Michigan, and it means so much to me that a Michigan football player said it since writing a football script has helped me heal.

And that quote is held up by a magnet given to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school who knows my past.

It’s held up by a magnet given to me by Kristy one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school who knows everything about my past.

I may not be a Michigan Man like that guy, but I am a Wolverine Woman, and not a very well-behaved one at that.

I never have been…

These magnets were given to me by Nicole and Sarah, two other warrior women who just happen to be Wolverines like me.

This photo of mouthy little me is held up with magnets given to me by Nicole and Sarah, two other Wolverine Women.

And by the way, I will never be well-behaved because I’m fighting for myself and for what matters to me.

So bring it on, world….

God, my maple latte, and I have got this!

Oh, and if you want to make your own maple latte to face whatever battle you’re facing, here’s how I did it:

Maple Latte

2 Espresso Shots
1 T Maple Syrup, Grade B
2/3 C Whole Milk, Steamed

Add maple syrup to espresso. Pour in steamed milk and enjoy!

Hail.

It’s Officially OK to Think About Christmas (Or My Tree is Already Up)

Guys, it’s the day after Thanksgiving! And that means it’s officially acceptable to play Johnny Mathis while decorating your Christmas tree. I have now given you permission. Just in case you were wondering….

Actually, this year I broke my own rule about waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to start celebrating Christmas. I did it one week early. See, I had this gut feeling Michigan was going to fall apart on the road in Iowa City last weekend, so I decided to soften the blow a bit by putting up my tree during the game. I wanted to give myself something to be happy about even if the Wolverines were going to break my heart 16 different ways. My feeling wasn’t based on some unfounded fear that we’d fall apart because we have so many times this season. It was a feeling I couldn’t shake, it came from a really real place, and I wanted to be prepared.

I was going to put up my white tree, but when I pulled it out of the box I noticed it had become discolored over the last year. Part of me wanted to haul it out to my balcony, get out the white spray paint and cover the ugly with perfect white paint. That’s the part of me that can’t let go — the part of me that wants to fix EVERYTHING. Another side came out as I looked at the branches strewn all over the floor: a part of me that said, “Anika, the tree was $19 at Rite Aid nine years ago. You’re more likely to ruin something that cost you three times that much while you’re trying to fix the unfixable. Toss the stupid tree. Let go of the past. Let go of your expectations.”

I have to admit there was a war raging inside me while the battle raged on the football field. Michigan was falling apart on all fronts, and I was looking at the hopeless wreckage of my cheap tree too paralyzed to make a decision about the situation.

Fake Tree Disaster on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Albus was over the tree — and the game — long before I was. #smartdog

I WANTED THE WHITE TREE TO JUST WORK — I WANTED IT TO LOOK HOW IT DID LAST YEAR. But it wasn’t going to. It couldn’t. It was over.

As I stared at the mess, I was vacillating between two possible solutions: one involved buying a new white tree and making things look the way I wanted and the other was to settle for my green back up tree. (Yes, I own a back up tree because I’m broken like that.)

What’s wrong with the green tree, you ask? Well, it doesn’t exactly match my rug. I bought it about five years ago when my living room had a very different aesthetic, and it just wasn’t going to look the way I wanted it to look. My tree has changed with my changing taste and decor over the years, and the green just wasn’t what I wanted.

Here’s a look at Christmases and Dogs Past (literally):

White tree with blue bulbs and wicked boots on Dogs, Dishes, and Decor.

White tree. Blue bulbs. Brady’s last Christmas. (Note the horrendous string of green lights on the white tree. #ishudder)

Traditional tree on Dogs, Dishes and Decor

Traditional red and green tree. Matching red and green dogs. Looks good on the surface, right? WRONG. (Those bitches HATED each other.)

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White tree. Red bulbs. Happy red dogs. (Lights looking more appropriate.)

The final tree is what I wanted this year, but it wasn’t going to happen unless I got in my car and spent money on a replacement tree. I was close to doing it. Truly. I mean, I CAN afford a new tree, but the truth is: storing two trees in a tiny space has been seriously taxing the Tetris skills I honed as an adolescent, and I’d rather put the money in savings than spend it on something I don’t absolutely need.

This meant accepting the green tree. So I did it. Sort of.

Even though I made the mature, rational decision it took me a long time to be OK with it. I was fighting the juxtaposition of the chartreuse-y rug with the dark green tree. I went as far as putting the lights on the tree, but I didn’t bother with the bulbs for another two days. I even left the wreckage of the white tree all over my floor for the rest of the weekend. I was basically dwelling in denial and holiday decorating purgatory. So much for a sparkly tree cheering me up when Michigan lost, right? (They did lose, by the way. Spectacularly.)

Finally Monday morning I woke up at 4 am, chucked the brown and white mess down my trash shoot, put the Cynthia Rowley reindeer sweater back on my bottle of Absolut, and moved on with my life.

Now I have a green tree with a chartreuse rug, and it’s mostly not terrible.

Tree on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I think a tree skirt might help me hate this less.

It is what is — and looking at it might get me through whatever happens against Ohio State tomorrow — only I don’t have a gut feeling about tomorrow. The pieces could all come together like they did against Notre Dame, and we could experience a miracle. Or not.

Either way, I’m going golfing in the rain today because that’s what I do now. I play nine holes for Noah, and I try to embrace a tree that doesn’t look quite right with my rug because it makes more sense in the world of finances and closet geometry.

I accept what is. I’m almost grateful for what is. Because it’s all there is. It doesn’t mean I can’t make it a little prettier, though.

Maybe I will do something about the tree skirt situation after golf….

On Football and Eating My Feelings (Or Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches Are Kind of My Consolation)

I eat my feelings during football season.

I grew up in East Lansing, Michigan. About five minutes from Michigan State University and Spartan Stadium, to be exact. Much of my childhood was spent in that stadium with my dad, watching his Spartans suck at football.

See, my dad went to MSU, and he’d lose his religion each time his team took the field. My dad was a usually a super polite protestant, but the minute the ball was snapped he’d become another person entirely.

The White Anglo Saxon Protestant code only allows emotional outbursts during sporting events and while behind the wheel of a car, so we have to vent a lot of frustration in short bursts. The rest of the time we’re required to drown them in alcohol and baked goods.

Luckily for us, MSU served amazing ice cream sandwiches in the stadium in the ’80s. Given the serious Spartan suck factor back then, my dad and I ate a LOT of them.

Even though I packed my bags for Ann Arbor, became a Michigan Wolverine, AND made my poor Spartan dad pay the enemy’s tuition, those memories of game day cookie sandwiches in East Lansing will always be fond.

This past weekend while I was watching my own alma mater fail at football, I made some ice cream cookie sandwiches to soothe myself. (Michigan is basically going through a rebuilding decade, and I’m kind of inconsolable about it.)

We played Notre Dame, and our quarterback, Denard Robinson, basically handed the game to the Fighting Irish.

If one more announcer says, “Denard is an exciting athlete,” I may hurl something at my television. He’s “exciting” like it’s exciting to date a musician with a meth habit. Sure, he’s an explosive runner, but he can’t do the other half of his job, which is to throw the ball to his own teammates. I can’t take much more of it. I mean, it’s like I’m watching the Spartan teams of the ’80s when I watch the Wolverines these days.

So, anyway, that’s my rant for this week. I’m done for now. It’s time to tell you about the ice cream cookie sandwiches I ate to console myself after the horror I endured on Saturday.

I used these chocolate chip cookies and some Hagen Daas for the center.

You should make some for yourself if your football team is breaking your heart. Or even if it isn’t.

My Food’s From Michigan! (Or It’s Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!)

The cool thing about Foodie Pen Pals is that you often discover new food. It’s easy to get into an unimaginative rut (even when you blog about food), and FPP really helps to shake things up. I love receiving items that are unique to other areas of the country. This month I received a package from Meghan at Run With Meg. And Meghan happens to live in Michigan.

OK, so, what’s the big deal with Michigan? Well, I’m from Michigan. And as college football season kicks off, I get beyond crazy homesick for the homeland – and for the changing leaves. SO, when I got a package with a return address not far from my family cottage I got all weepy and homesick and whatnot. I mean, my family cottage isn’t just a house on a lake. It’s the house my family built with their actual hands and hammers and stuff. Plus, I designed the addition to the original structure like I was Mike Brady or something. It isn’t just a place. It’s a part of my family. It’s where I went to clear my head in college. Where my family comes together. And where we spread my Bumpa’s ashes last fall.

Maybe this view doesn’t make you want to weep, but I almost can’t look at it without crying. This is my Walden. Or something.

So, anyway, enough of this morose business. Let’s talk about things that make me happy. Like peanut butter. And jelly. Specifically, the peanut butter and jelly I received from Meghan. Now, let me be clear: this wasn’t just any peanut butter and jelly — it was cappuccino peanut butter — and a ginger fruit jelly. I don’t think you know how much I love cappuccino. Or ginger. Or a PBJ for that matter, so this was some seriously inspired stuff Meghan sent me. And don’t get me started on the dried Michigan cherries! (LOVE.)

Plus there was this amazing dog wearing sunglasses in the package! Um, awesome!

I haven’t tried the lemon drops yet, but I’m sure I’ll love them for real, because I adore sour candies.

This hip dog and I are excited to eat the lemon drops.

If you want to sign up for Foodie Pen Pals, you can do so here. It’s all kinds of awesome.

Fall Means Football and The Race for the Rescues (Or Why We Walk)

Labor Day is rapidly approaching. And even though the oppressive heat isn’t really waning, fall is technically on its way. And while I will defy my strict WASP upbringing by wearing white well after the 3rd, I am preparing for the two events that define fall for me: college football and the Race for the Rescues.

See, I love football. Like, my mood for the entire week is determined by the performance of a pack of 19 year old boys in spandex, love football. So this is basically going to be me until December.

Photo courtesy of someecards.

Not only does football mean yelling at my television for four straight hours every Saturday, but it also means football parties. Be on the lookout for great game day recipes in the coming weeks. And I will absolutely do my best to be a lady and not subject you to my rants about bad play calling and interceptions. I will save those for Facebook where my college friends and I come together to publicly mourn, berate, and celebrate our boys in blue.

The other event that means fall for me? Is the annual Race for the Rescues at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It’s a 10 K benefiting 12 non profit animal welfare organizations in Los Angeles, and I do it with my dogs every year. You can read more about it here. The participating organizations rehabilitate wildlife, provide low cost veterinary care for low income families (including free spay and neuter clinics), and also place adoptable animals in loving homes.

Why do we walk?

Because 400 dogs and cats are euthanized in Los Angeles shelters each week. That means more than 20,000 adoptable animals die in Los Angeles shelters every year. Because approximately 3-4 million animals are euthanized nationwide. Because 60% of dogs and 70% of cats who enter shelters will never find a home. And because I can’t close my eyes and wish those statistics away.

I do not mean to make anyone feel guilty for obtaining their loving pet from a responsible breeder, and I understand that pet adoption is not for everyone, but it is for me. I have adopted four dogs in my adult life and each one has enriched my life immeasurably.

So, October 7, my two red rescues and I are walking in honor of Woodley’s littermate, Peyton, who has brought joy to her new mommy. (That’s a long story for a different post. Just know it’s not advisable to adopt litter mates.)

Peyton was adopted in December and even though I miss her, I know she has a safe, loving home.

And we’re walking in memory of Brady, Hunter, Rocco, Max, and Bella who are all playing together in Dog Heaven.

This photo was taken the last Christmas Brady and I spent together. On December 29, 2007, he lost a long battle with congestive heart failure.

Hunter was Brady’s best friend, and I was by Huntie’s side when he died. Hunter and his mommy have a special place in my heart. Forever.

Rocco was a beloved big brother and family member. He was skilled at unwrapping presents and making everyone smile. He loved his family and his soap operas. We miss you, Mister Roccos!

Bella put up a valiant fight against cancer, but lost her battle last week. Blake, Audrey, Matt, and Kelley miss their beautiful girl. So this is me giving them a huge internet hug because my arms aren’t long enough to reach to Chicago.

Max was by his mommy’s side for so many adventures including a move to Mexico last year. He died suddenly this summer, and now this little angel has real wings to match his amazing ears.

I need to make myself an event shirt to honor the pups. If you have any ideas, please send them my way!

If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to participate, it’s not too late to register! If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to our walk, you can do so here. Please don’t feel obligated, though. We all show support for the causes we care about in our own ways.

If you or a friend is mourning the loss of a furry family member, Bella’s mommy recommends the book Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

Wag on, guys.

I know I owe you all kinds of recipes for things like pina colada cupcakes and pollo con rajas. I haven’t forgotten. I promise!

Whooooo’s Impatient? (Or How to Make Owl Cupcakes)

I’m impatient — like I freak out in front of the microwave — impatient. And so is my birthday buddy, Connor. He was born five weeks early — the day before his own baby shower. He’s healthy, and so is his mom, and that’s what really matters.

Since we have pushed his Owl-themed shower until he’s ready to meet all of the ladies at once, I had a lot of owl cupcake supplies sitting in my pantry. I didn’t want to wait to use them. (See reference to impatience above.)

I recently made Amy Sedaris’ cupcakes and figured it was the perfect opportunity to see if I could actually deliver the owl design I had promised.

I think I did.

Whoooo wants a cupcake?

Because I had initially planned on using banana cupcakes as the base for the owl cupcakes, I deviated a bit from the Hello, Cupcake! suggestion to use chocolate Oreos and Junior Mints for the eyes. I went with Golden Oreos and Reese’s pieces instead. I chose Double Stuff Oreos instead of the regular Oreos because they’re easier to separate. (I just happen to know this because I kind of like dismembering my food before consuming it.)

If you go with the regular Oreo variety, Hello, Cupcake! recommends microwaving the Oreos briefly before twisting off the top layer. I didn’t find this step necessary.

Here’s the supply situation.

To make the owl ears(?!?) you cut the top of the Oreo in half and affix it to the cupcake with frosting.

Here’s the pointy bit of the owl.

I ended up slicing a little off of the bottom of the cookie so that less stuck out, but it’s up to you. (I was worried the weight of the frosting would make the cookie ears fall off.)

Here’s the owl before final frosting embellishment.

Instead of making banana Runt beaks, I used a banana candy I found at a store in the mall. I looooove Runts, but I couldn’t find them ANYWHERE. (I did finally find them at the mall where I also found the banana candies, but it was easier to buy banana candy than it was to pick out banana Runts from a large colorful bin.) If you don’t feel like schlepping to the mall, Amazon has banana candies here.

To achieve the blue and yellow two tone frosting, I stuck a Wilton pastry bag of blue frosting into the yellow bag of frosting like this.

You don’t necessarily need to have two colors for the owl feathers. I just felt like making things more difficult for myself.

So, those are the owls. You should totally make them. If you do, decorate the owls the same day you serve them; the Oreos get a little gummy if you refrigerate them.

By now you’ve probably figured out there are few things I love more than a party. Those things? Are football — and theme parties. In the coming months, look out for some party planning posts involving a Winnie the Pooh party for a very special one year old boy, and some serious football theme parties.

This owl army? Is ready to get in my belly.