Of Pain and Pig (Or How to Make Wilted Kale with Bacon, Onions, and Apple)

My chiropractor has my number. He seriously calls me out on all of my bullshit, which I must admit I sort of appreciate even though it annoys me a little. When I go for an appointment, he realigns my spine and points out some absurdity in my life that I’m attempting to gloss over.

For example… he once overheard a conversation I was having with his receptionist about my health insurance coverage for emergency room visits and said, “The only way this one is going to the hospital is if she has a baby coming out of her.”

Gross, Dr. Greg. Graphic and gross… but probably totally true.

See, I have a tendency to bulldoze my way through things, deliberately blind to the damage if it’s inconvenient to acknowledge in the moment. This has been somewhat helpful in my career but perhaps less so in my personal life.

As a producer, I often operate on the premise that it is better to apologize than to ask for permission. When time is of the essence, you can’t wait around for fearful people to hem and haw. You just have to get the shot. When money is on the line and politics have to be considered, this can be a risky mode of operation, so it’s a delicate balance.

Also…

For better or for worse, I have a high pain threshold and this can mean not taking very good care of myself if there’s something “more important” to tend to like some actress’ meltdown or a cut that has to go out by 2 am.

Since I’m not actively producing anything right now, I’m taking a little more time to notice when I need something, and many people have played a role in this, my chiropractor included.

So, anyway, this is all to say it was rather huge for me to realize (without anyone else’s help) that I needed to go to the doctor for my sore throat yesterday.

I’d had enough of the sensation of swallowing broken glass and capitulated to the pain. The doctor thought my disease warranted a Z-pack, so I guess it’s good I went to see him.

As I live in a rather colorful area of Hollywood, the clientele in his office was, shall we say…. interesting?

There was a woman (I think?) in a nearby room who was letting out these horrid, high-pitched, reptilian-like screams every few minutes while I waited to see the doctor.

When I was finally leaving the office, prescription in hand, she screamed again. The three nurses stationed in the hallway all looked at me as if to say, “Don’t look at me. I’m not going in there.”

“It sounds like you have a velociraptor caged in there,” I said. They looked at me rather blankly, not getting the reference.

“It’s like Jurassic Park up in here,” I clarified.

And as if on cue, the human dinosaur screamed its reptilian scream again.

They all started laughing, and as I walked away, I heard them slapping their legs and repeating, “Jurassic Park,” through hyena-like cackles.

My work there was done.

And now my work here is done, so I will leave you with a recipe for wilted kale with bacon, onion, and apples.

Why?

Because bacon and Reeses Pieces Easter eggs are the only things I can taste right now… and at least one of those things has some redeeming nutritious value.

Fruit, Veggies, and Pig!

Fruit, Veggies, Vitamins… and Pig!

Kale with Bacon, Onion, and Apples

4 Slices of Bacon
1/2 Small Onion, Sliced
1 Large Apple, Gala or Pink Lady, Sliced
6 C Kale, Chopped
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet. Remove bacon and set aside. Remove all but 2 T of bacon grease from the skillet. Add the chopped onion to bacon grease. Cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the kale and allow to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl before adding the 2 T of apple cider vinegar. (The residual heat from the skillet will evaporate the vinegar otherwise.)

Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add crumbled bacon and apple slices…

And Devour like a velociraptor.

David Lynch, Lindsey Stirling, and Cola Carnitas (Or How to Make Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas)

Guys! Exciting things are happening!

First of all, I’m almost done with season 4 of Game of Thrones, and I got HBO back yesterday — just in time for the April 12 premiere of season 5.

So this is all terribly exciting in a nerdy kind of way….

Also? I saw Blue Velvet for free at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood last night. The movie is beyond super messed up, and I wrote my honors thesis on it when I was a wee one in undergrad. (Another nerdy thing.) Seeing it again all these years later I was like, “Wow. I should not have watched that movie when I was 12. No wonder I had to write 75 pages about it in college. I was probably trying to heal my adolescent trauma through academia.”

David Lynch?

Is not for kids.

Who knew?

ANYWAY…

In other news, I finished yet another pass of my script last night before watching Dennis Hopper torment Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan for two hours. I can’t REALLY say the fourth draft is done because I know I have messy bits that I still need to tie together, but it’s CLOSE to being a fourth draft. This makes me SMILE.

Do you know what else makes me smile?

Carnitas.

True story.

I made cola carnitas in the slow cooker for my cousin Maddie on Tuesday, and it was so delicious we almost died.

More pig. Duh.

More pig. Duh.

I did a whole taco spread with gluten free chips, corn tortillas, cotija cheese, salsa verde, and black bean dip. We talked about boys, I gave her half of the clothes in my closet, and we laughed our heads off while we stuffed our faces with piggy goodness.

It was beyond.

If you want to make some cola carnitas yourself, here’s the recipe.

Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas

4 Pound Pork Shoulder
1 Medium Onion, sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
2, 12 oz Bottles of Mexican Coca Cola*
1 7 oz Can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce**

Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker on low and allow the pork shoulder to simmer all day. If you’re in a rush, you can put it on high for about 4 or 5 hours.

Once the pork is cooked thoroughly, take it out of the slow cooker, remove the fat, and shred the pork with a fork. I discard the other ingredients, but you could use the onions if you’d like. They’re really tender and sweet.

After you eat the carnitas, try not to dance like a lunatic like my family does when we have Mexican food.

My family is super fun.

We are mentally ill for Mexican food.

(We are also super fun.)

And because I’m into spreading fun, here’s a song I’m way into right now. It’s Lindsey Stirling, and the video has a whole M.C. Escher thing going.

❤ I LOVE Lindsey Stirling. And M.C. Escher. ❤

*Mexican Coca Cola is made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. I’ve never tried it with traditional cola, but I’m sure it would be fine if you can’t find Mexican Coke.

**Sometimes I only use half the can if I want it less spicy.

OK, I’m done rambling now. I’m off to USC to handle some bizznass.

Machiavelli’s Reign Ends Here (Or I Break Up With Fear)

When I was 15, my European History teacher asked the class, “If you were king, would you rather lead your subjects with fear or love?” (We were studying Machiavelli. Or something.)

He picked students at random. The first guy he asked quickly responded, “Fear.” So did the second, and the third.

The first girl he asked?

Said love. The answers went along gender lines for some time. It was as if we were lining up at a middle school dance: guys on one side, girls on the other. The Sweet Girly Love Camp on one side, the Powerful Scary Man Camp on the other.

And then he called on me.

“Fear,” I answered without hesitation.

I was the only one in the class who bucked the gender trend. I’ve often wondered since then if the answers truly would have fallen so clearly along male/female lines had the question been asked anonymously. I’ll never know, and ultimately it doesn’t really matter anyway.

What the exercise did was illuminate the way my classmates wanted to be seen — and the way I wanted to be seen.

I was a vicious competitor in those days, and I was fueled by fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of being imperfect. Fear of being unlovable if I fell short of expectations.

Later, when I began to fall short of my narrow definition of perfection, my fear of failure somehow shifted to a fear of my own voice, my own power, and maybe more importantly, my own success. Many people who know me may be surprised to hear this. Others? Not at all.

Many of us are afraid to do what we truly love — not only for fear that we might fail at it but also for fear that it actually might be amazing.

So today I’m here to tell you that I’m no longer afraid of failure. I’m no longer afraid of what I truly love.

And what is that, you ask? What does this dog-owning, cupcake-baking, home-redecorator really love?

Movies.

I love writing movies.

That other stuff is pretty awesome too, but its relationship to my calling is merely tangential. So, this is me saying thank you for coming along with me on this ride. Thank you for reading about all of those things while I found my voice again — while I explored everything that inspires me — and everything that doesn’t. Thank you for bearing with me while I sank into the abyss of despair again and again.

Thank you for being the place where I grew, fell, and picked myself the fuck back up again.

There’s so much more I could say about all I’ve shed this year, but this is not the time, the place, or the post for that.

Instead, I’ll leave you with this. I made it. And I’m not afraid to post it even though it has a typo in it. It’s not perfect, and I don’t care. I like it a little better for its imperfection anyway.

rocky and drago

I’m off to write a movie, people.

#love

Hit (re)-Start (Or Things Are Changing)

OMIGOSH, I owe you updates. SO many updates.

See, I got a new job, which is awesome. (#ilikemoney) But what’s more awesome than the whole I-get-paid-on-a-regular-basis-thing is that my new job is making me fall in love with movies again, and you really can’t put a price on that. (Movies and I had a really bad breakup back in 2004, and I haven’t exactly been the same since.)

The new job isn’t the only big change in my life, though. I got baptized recently. And that was a bit of a debacle like only I can manage. I mean, who else makes a mess of being born again?

Other than me?

My friend Elise and my friend Suzie attended the service, and Elise may have summed it up best when she said, “Only you end up in the men’s baptism pool.” So, yeah… THAT happened. Someone sent me to the wrong line… and people were flustered.

Mad flustered.

I must admit, I found it all a bit amusing. I’m not trying to be deliberately irreverent or anything, but the entire incident was kinda funny.

photo-535

It may not look all awkward here, but I promise you it was.

Aaaanyway, that story belongs on my other blog… my other blog I really will update this week. #ipromise

This brings me to the next thing I need to talk about: my other blog. It really should be the place for my philosophical musings — my thoughts on life, love, and faith — and all that other ooey gooey stuff that doesn’t involve the center of a really good cookie.

See, I feel like I’ve muddied the water here at Dogs, Dishes, and Decor when I’ve taken the focus away from ice cream, baby showers, and renovating disasters, so I need to right the ship. I’m going to do my best to keep this blog about, well, Dogs Dishes and Decor while containing my meltdowns to This American Mess.

I’m putting my intention out there to keep myself honest.

Speaking of intention… Suzie and I shared our intentions for our lives this morning over cappuccino. Mine just happen to be: Love, Healing, Connection, and Creation. I’m going to do my best to stick to these — and keep the writing about each intention on the right blogs in the future.

Later this week look out for the recipe that accompanies the CREATION of this lemony goodness.

photo-536

It’ll be worth the wait. I promise. #sofluffy

Gin, Grapefruit, and Gedrick (Or How to Make a Spiked Gin and Grapefruit Shake)

Sometimes when I’ve been spending too much time staring at my fat arm in the mirror and listening to The National, I realize I’m being a fragile, self-absorbed fool of the most neurotic order. When this happens, or when I have just generally lost the will to live, I put on Iron Eagle and cheer myself up. It took about 25 years and hundreds of viewings to figure out why I love the movie. Sure, it has a killer soundtrack, and massive explosions, and, yes, I have been in love with Jason Gedrick since I was nine, but it goes well beyond that.

I love Jason Gedrick so much that I watched Luck on HBO even though I had absolutely no idea what was happening on the show. Ever. (Photo courtesy of IMdB)

What I love about Iron Eagle is that it’s a story about a young man (played by Gedrick) who refuses to sit idly by when his father, a US air force pilot, has been sentenced to die in a foreign land. Instead of accepting that his own country has left his father to die at the hands of the enemy, Doug figures out how to basically invade the country by himself with the help of his friends. Sure, it’s wildly unrealistic, but so is the entire premise of Pretty Woman and people like that movie. (I am NOT one of those people. It’s OK if you are. We can still be internet friends.)

Doug is resourceful, courageous, and absolutely dogged. Sure, he’s a reckless driver and he’s a bit cocky and all that, but he also manages to make feathered hair look sexy somehow, so there is that. AND he has this total “I did it my way” Sinatra-sort of attitude that I have always identified with. (I recently realized it’s because I am a bit of a rebel myself.)

I feel compelled to digress for a moment and explain that I’m not one of those “Ra Ra, America! Let’s Go Blow Up the Middle East” kind of people. In fact, I’m rather peaceable and kind – except when I’m picking up family members up from the airport. Then I think the devil takes hold of me or something and I end screaming, swearing, and honking like a New York City cab driver. I am not proud of this, but we all have our faults. I digress….

So, anyway, there’s a great moment in the movie after Doug’s wingman, Chappy, has crashed into the Mediterranean and he’s heading into hostile territory without any air support. Alone and facing a cruel enemy, he plays the tape Chappy made for him in case of emergency. Chappy’s voice says, “Right now you’re probably filled with all the doubts in the world, but I’m going to tell you something. God doesn’t give people things he doesn’t want ‘em to use. And he gave you the touch. It’s a power you have inside you down there deep where you keep your guts, boy. It’s all you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from you. Your dad’s just sittin’ there waitin’ for a miracle, and if you fly your heart out, you can give him one. It’s up to you.”

This shit absolutely speaks to my soul. For real.

Here’s the scene:

So, the point of all of my rambling is to say that I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about what my “touch” is — or what my skills are — and how I can apply them to my next endeavor. I’m in the process of piecing all of that together at the moment. For now I’m just going to tell you how to make a spiked gin and grapefruit shake before I get too philosophical because one of my skills just might be bartending. (Kidding.)

These shakes are probably not a good idea if you’ve been staring at your fat arm, but maybe after a few of them you’ll forget you have arms at all.

If you are going to make them, I suggest putting on your happy movie and turning off The National because it’s probably a bad idea to drink away your sorrows… or at least that’s what the American Psychological Association would say.

Gin and Grapefruit Spiked Shake

1 ½ C vanilla ice cream
4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (from half of one grapefruit)
3 oz gin

Pour the contents into the blender and blend. You can make this a few hours ahead and put it in the freezer because the alcohol will prevent the shake from freezing completely.

The recipe is based on a pin from Better Homes and Gardens. Enjoy!

This Gin and Grapefruit Spiked Shake is almost as yummy as Jason Gedrick.

ALMOST….

Do you have a happy movie?

Of Batman and Dancing (Or The Dark Knight is Rising Up in Here)

Luckily, I’m missing that part of your brain that keeps you from embarrassing yourself and just basically doing all kinds of idiotic stuff. Sure it can lead to broken bones, speeding tickets, and your parents shaking their heads in shame, but it does have an upside too. Case in point: I made a lot of money selling books door-to-door in Santa Barbara when I was 18. Also? It means I had this unexpectedly fabulous time last night.

See, I had plans to go out for a girls’ night with my gorgeous British friend, but she called and put a kink in things.

“Forgive me, but I was wondering if perhaps we could reschedule?” She went on to explain there was a coffee shop in her neighborhood that projected movies on the wall, played music, and provided a space for people to dance. “I’ve just been feeling I need to get in my body and out of my head. It’s a bit weird, but if you fancy joining of course you’re welcome.”

Weird dancing? Of course I fancy joining! (I excel at weird.)

So, I’m picturing this small, dark room and general strange rave-y-ness all around. I spend all of this time applying eyeliner, creating a coordinated ensemble with black heels, a big blingy Kate Spade bracelet, and the sort of shirt you’d wear to a club. I also put on my don’t-you-dare-get-fat jeans. Every woman owns them. They’re the sort of tight pants that are absolutely unforgiving in every way and they remind you that it’s a terrible idea to finish the entire pizza while watching Dallas.

I arrive at the coffee shop (late, of course) and find my friend reading at a table. She’s not wearing club attire but workout pants instead. (My first clue the evening might not go down quite the way I expected….)

She suggests we take a peek in the room and check out the current dancing sitch. Upon doing so, I immediately notice everyone else in the very large and very bright room is wearing dance attire – like jazz shoes with Lululemon — and I’m basically dressed for a frat party.

There is no movie on the wall and talented people are basically freestyle pirouetting all over the place. Well, shit. I haven’t done ballet since I was 19. This is going to be interesting….

We pregame with a little chamomile tea (I swear to God) and head in. I remove my three-inch heels and my jewelry, and I also twist my hair into a makeshift bun because I have absolutely no hair ties on my person, and this is looking like it’s going to be an athletic endeavor.

Now, let me remind you again lest you forgot: I am in my super tight jeans that basically make me hate life. I am also not wearing a sports bra but a lacy ditty by Betsey instead. Things could get ugly.

My friend is a little more reserved and has a much stronger sense of propriety and shame than I, so she’s slowly beginning to bob her head to the music and tentatively moving the rest of her body. I decide to just go for it with something resembling reckless abandon – but not so reckless that I rip my jeans, mind you. (I absolutely hate paying to replace things I destroy through utter stupidity – particularly when those things cost about $200.)

Soon, more amateur civilian-types join us, including a guy wearing a t-shirt and a canvas kilt that basically looks like Carhartt has gone into the business of creating fashion for bagpipers.

I am making a complete fool of myself with my limited range of motion and ability, my friend has gotten more into it as well, and it’s just all kinds of awesome. (Also, Betsey must know something about gravity and stuff because somehow that business is all still in place. So sad about her bankruptcy. That woman knows bras. And bracelets.)

Midway into the evening, we meet a lovely woman who informs us we’re in the company of a dance troupe. A dance troupe. And a former Cirque du Soleil performer. Um, so yeah. I’m NOWHERE near as good as these people, but I don’t care. I’m having fun. And the truth is: everyone is so into their own performances that they’re not looking at me anyway.

Soon the other amateurs leave and it’s back to the core dance crew. And us. We wind up on the outside of a circle, clapping and encouraging others to move into the middle and showcase their skills, which include insane break dancing moves and some serious acrobatics. My friend has the good sense to get us out of there before we are called into the middle of the circle to make epic fools of ourselves. Had I not been so inappropriately dressed, I might have gone in the middle without prompting and done a heinous barefoot tap dancing routine, but the world has been spared of that. (For now.)

So we leave all sweaty and happy, and we decide this is our new thing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I say terrible things about LA all of the time, but nights like this remind me that I will probably never leave. Sure other cities have cool shit like subways and men who drink scotch, but I like it here, thanks.

SO, now I have a fabulous new “thing” and I must do it again. Like every Sunday. I’m never going to be able to spin on my head or balance my entire body on my elbow, but it’s OK. I can burn off a few burgers with my own amateur moves and feel truly free for a night, because let’s be honest: there aren’t enough opportunities in life to escape the confines of our thoughts and just feel the music.

Now my problem becomes what to do about next Sunday night. I’m murderously over-scheduled what with my commitment to see The Dark Knight Rises, followed by drinks AND a dinner party. Somehow I have to squeeze in my weird dancing too.

I’m contemplating rescheduling dinner and drinks — because what I really need in my life next Sunday is Batman. And my bad dance moves.

While we’re on the topic of Batman, you should know that Batman was a bad dancer too and you can see it here. Hmm… maybe next time I should show up in a cape and super hero tights. The ensemble would allow for more range of motion than my evil jeans….

I mean I have already decided to make Batman and Robin costumes for the dogs, so I could just make one for myself as well. See, I found this excellent pin from Sugartot Designs with downloadable Super Hero logos, and now I’m all inspired and whatnot.

Photo Courtesy of sugartot designs.

Sure, they’re probably intended for actual children and not Spaniels, but I don’t care. Obviously, the dogs will also need masks like this:

I loved the Adam West Batman as a kid. I might still watch it on The Hub now, but shhh, no one needs to know that.  (Photo courtesy of Dial B for Blog) Kapow!

Did I mention the last time I sewed anything I was nine? And that it only slightly resembled a panda? See, I decide to tackle enormous sewing projects with all of the hubris and reckless abandon that I apply to dancing wildly in public and almost everything in my life because, truly, I do not have a healthy fear of failure. Or shame.

One guess who will be Robin in the dynamic duo.

Poor Woodley….

If you do have actual human children and you like Batman half as much as I do, this would be an amazing DIY painting project:

I cannot find the original source of this pin, but holy tiny car, Batman, it’s awesome.

Oh, and one last thing, If you’re into Batman and you like laughing, you should check out my friend’s video on Funny or Die here.

My Evening of Epic Fails (Or I Screw Up My First Attempt at Cake Pops)

“I don’t think people understand what you’re saying when you say Albus.” My mother said as she sipped her sauvignon blanc.

“Well, that’s why I introduce him as Albus Dumbledore,” I replied.

“Not everyone knows who that is.”

“Of course they do. Albus is a mighty wizard!” I exclaimed indignantly. “Besides, it’s Latin for ‘white.’ I like Latin.” (I did NOT like Latin when I was translating the entire Aeneid into English, but this is not important now.)

“I think they think you’re saying Elvis.”

This from the woman who named me Anika? I’ve been called everything from Anita to Shaniqua over the years, and I’ve been correcting people on the pronunciation of my name since Kindergarten, so she hardly has a foot to stand on when it comes to weird names for offspring – human or dog.

“Well, I nearly named him Chappy Sinclair, but I changed my mind at the last minute.”

By look on her face, it was clear this name would not have met with her standards either. (She does not appreciate Iron Eagle any more than Harry Potter, apparently.)

She’s actually right that people have called my dog everything from “Alvin” to “Elvis,” but I had no intention of conceding this. The little girl downstairs squeals, “Elbis!” every time she sees him. (Even this hybrid is probably toddler for Elvis.)

I should also mention that she doesn’t approve of Woodley’s name either. She thinks it’s confusing I named a fluffy female after a 265-pound linebacker. She’s probably not wrong.

She may have given me a hard time about my dogs’ names, but she did buy me this fabulous pink cake pop pan from Sur La Table, so there’s that.

My fancy new cake pop pan, courtesy of my mother.

I must say, my first attempt at using my new toy was even more disastrous than my attempts at dog-naming.

I was hoping to make Hedwig-like owls that looked like this:

See these perfect owls from Bakerella? Yeah, mine looked nothing like them.

I didn’t even get to the decorating part, because I ended up with THIS mess.

Albus is ignoring the Chernobyl-like disaster in the foreground and heading straight for the un-sullied cake pops on the counter. Even my dog doesn’t think the others are edible.

I think my first mistake was using a strawberry cake mix for the cake pops, as it was not nearly dense enough. (I’m starting to believe “cake” is a bit of a misnomer and the base of these balls is really more of a cake/cookie lovechild.) My next mistake was purchasing Ghirardelli white chocolate chips to coat my cake-y creations. Despite adding shortening to make the melted mess thinner, it was just too thick and sticky to properly coat the crumbly cake.

Desperate to find another coating substance, I scoured the internet this morning and discovered another option on Bakerella. It turns out it was hidden within another one of my pins. (Oops. I probably should have READ the post first instead of simply pinning the photo at first sight.) Bakerella suggests using Merckens Candy Coating for the pops. I guess I’ll be looking for a new cake pop recipe and then dipping those in Merckens next time.

I’m not really sure what to do with my cake pop rejects. I’m leaning toward feeding them to the squirrels downstairs even if they are the sworn enemies of my poorly named dogs.

Oh, and don’t get me started on what went wrong with THIS watermelon shark carving last night….

This Jedi-eating watermelon monster was supposed to be a shark. Alas, my Shun Sumo Santoku knife was just too big for the finer details.

Have you tried making cake pops? Did you make an epic mess like me?