My MacBook is Sick But Yeasayer Makes Me Smile (Or I’m Still Slugging)

So today’s post? Is coming to you from a computer that looks like this.

This sad machine is still slugging. Sort of like me.

Why?

Because my shiny new MacBook and I are on a break. And using a computer that looks like this beats the horror of using my iPad for anything more than messages that go something like, “I know, right? Call me.”

So anyway, I may have cried too much on my Mac while watching the JK Rowling speech yesterday or my trackwheel mouse thing was just faulty, ‘cuz the good people at Apple have to keep my Mac for a few days to perform some sort of computer surgery on it.

SO now I’m using my six year old Mac that isn’t fundamentally broken per say, save for the fact that it lacks sufficient hard drive space to hold all of my music (tragedy!), and the screen is only about 40% functional. (See, there was this incident while I was on a conference call last year….)

So, anyway, this has just been one of those weeks. You know the kind where your enormous dog accidentally trips you on a hike, you go flying in the air and rip all of the skin off of your shoulder and forearm?

What “enormous dog?” Surely, I have no idea what you’re talking about, woman.

And bruise your hip and your ribs? Yeah, that kind. The kind where you can no longer sleep on your left side and it hurts to lift your arm? Yeah….

At least the large area on my shoulder missing a lot of skin is the same area where I already had a scar. That scar? Was the result of a car colliding with my person while I was riding a bike in Santa Barbara. (I was 18 and selling books door to door at the time.)

So if you’re wondering why I’m blogging today with only half of a computer screen, I’ll tell you. Because I’m the same girl who went out and sold books on foot with stitches in her head and her arm in a sling after that car destroyed her bike. Because I’m the same girl who worked for some people in Hollywood who make Ari Gold look like a funny little teddy. And Because I’m a fighter.

And I have committed myself to writing. So that is what I will do. Even if I do it with half a screen and an aching arm.

And since this blog is really supposed to be about puppies, and cupcakes and rainbows, instead of sob stories about my flesh wounds, I will tell you that I am working on a recipe for Pina Colada Cupcakes right now.  I hope to have that for you next week.

Until then, I will leave you with some Yeasayer. They just released a new album this week, and I’m working on falling in love with it while writing this post.

Here they are, with their shiny words of wisdom. Enjoy.

Ambling Alp – “Now the world can be an unfair place at times, but your lows will have their compliment of highs. And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of or beat you, raise your head and wear your wounds with pride. You must stick up for yourself son. Never mind what anybody else done.”

Tightrope– “But then I go again, wishing never solved a problem. If you wanna get it big time, go ahead and get it get it big time.”

Get it big time, y’all. I’m off to bake cupcakes.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 5 (Or Here’s a Simple Salsa Verde Recipe)

This simple salsa verde is super yummy.

Sometimes you need to reach into the music vault and bring back a song you’ve neglected for a while. Today it’s Y Control by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While I don’t love the entire album, I do dig this song. It played a part of my past in many ways.

Example?

I happened to be singing it in my car when I found myself sitting in traffic next to an ex. When I heard the song today, it brought me back to that moment.

I’ll spare you the gory details of all that except to say LA is enormous and I run into him more than any other human on earth. And have for years. It wasn’t a particularly long relationship. Or a particularly heinous break up, but it made its mark.

I see him now and I feel an enormous sense of relief it didn’t work. I know it wasn’t supposed to — for a lot of reasons — not the least of which being that I needed to have many more adventures and more career success before settling down. I needed to do this thing on my own without being lulled into complacency by his success in showbusiness. Or his money.

So, anyway, we should talk about cilantro instead of boys because I like it better anyway.

Being spared a life that was too small and stifling for me  — and cilantro — are probably the best evidence of a benevolent God I can think of.

Come to think of it, so is salsa verde.

And just so I don’t bring you down too much, you should know I’m now listening to We Built this City at an unacceptable volume and getting close to dancing in my kitchen.

Salsa Verde

2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
1 C diced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 T fresh oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C water
1/4 -1/3 C diced jalapenos (to taste)
1/3 C cilantro

Pour water into pot with tomatillos, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until tomatillos are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add cilantro and jalapenos.

Carefully blend the mixture in batches until smooth. If you’re like me, you may want to add a little more chopped cilantro so you have bigger bits in the salsa verde. If you don’t like cilantro, I feel truly sorry for you. (Kidding.)

Once I’m done with this self-absorbed birthday madness I’ll put together a rundown of the projects and the menu in case you want to replicate the mess. Then I’ll try not to mention it again because I kind of want to forget this birthday ever happened.

I Love Scapulae and Sticky Fingers BBQ Sauce (Or It’s Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!)

The shoulders of the US men’s volleyball team are pretty much enough to make a girl suddenly patriotic. I mean, like, whoa.

Good shoulders are absolutely non-negotiable. (Photo courtesy of ibitimes.)

OK, now that we’ve covered my love of clavicles, scapulae, and Team USA, let’s talk about my other favorite thing: food.

Today is Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day, and I’m excited to tell you about the fabulous box I received from Leigh at One Day at a Time. She sent me absolutely delightful snackies.

Get jealous of my goodies.

Her adorable son even picked out the suckers to put in my package! I must have had PMS or something when I read that part of her note because I swear I almost got tears in my eyes. (For real.) Leigh originally hails from South Carolina, so I had the distinct pleasure of scoring Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce from her, and whoa, is that stuff good.

I’m absolutely up to my eyes in birthday and baby shower prep at the moment, and despite spending obscene sums of money on food, I don’t actually have anything to eat in my house (aside from this heavenly swag). I have basically been living on a rotisserie chicken from Costco for the last two days, and I have been slathering it with that heavenly, heavenly sauce. It tastes a bit like a honey mustard – but so much better.

There were many other wonderful items in the box, but that was by far the star. Plus, it was cool to try something I can’t find in LA.

Some of the other highlights were the white cheddar popcorn and the Haribo gummy bears (which I coincidentally sent to my Foodie Pen Pal). Oh, and the fruit leather saved my life last week when I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown from low blood sugar. I’m actually still working my way though the box of loot, but I’m loving everything so far.

But back to that BBQ sauce for a moment. You should get some. Here’s the link. You know, just in case you have a Carolina Classic Emergency or something….

So, anyway, I need to turn up the Neon Indian and return to my pirate cookie situation. They’re cooling on wire racks atop my tall book shelves to keep my Boxer from investigating them with his face while I write.

I’ll post that recipe tomorrow, K? I promise.

The Lean Green Bean

Playing with Candy (Or How to Dip and Decorate Marshmallows)

When you’re prepping your birthday party candy bar, it’s probably best to listen to happy music like Mtume’s Juicy Fruit (if it sounds familiar it’s because Biggie sampled it for Juicy). Or Michael’s The Way You Make Me Feel. It’s also a good idea to wander into your bedroom to make sure your enormous dog isn’t eating anything like, say, the remote control to your hanging lanterns.

Well, I thought it looked like fun. Also, you were playing with candy and you weren’t giving me any.

So anyway, today I decided to experiment with marshmallows and sprinkles. I used white chocolate and corn syrup as agents to attach the sprinkles to the marshmallows. I think I prefer the white chocolate method; it adds more flavor, it dries faster, and it basically just works better all around.

I played around with the sprinkles I happened to have in my pantry for this draft, but I will likely discard most of the dipped marshmallows for a variety of reasons. My green gum balls are supposed to arrive from Amazon on Monday, and I intend for them to anchor the candy bar. Once I have them in the apothecary jar, I’ll have a better idea of my actual color palette.

I dried the marshmallows on a cookie sheet to prevent them from sticking to the table. I still managed to make a big mess of things anyway.

By the way, if you decide to use melted white chocolate chips as a dipping agent, make sure you add Crisco to the chips, otherwise you will never achieve the proper consistency to adhere the chocolate to the marshmallows. Remember my cake pop disaster? Yeah, the same principles sort of apply to marshmallow dipping too. Also, if you want to dip both ends it’s best to dip one end, let it dry for a bit, and then dip the other end. (I found that less of the sprinkles slid off that way.)

Now that we’ve covered white chocolate and gravity, it’s time to move on to the next part of the candy bar: the gummy crocodiles. While I was on a quest for affordable sprinkles to fill the vases for my floral arrangements, I found amazing gummy gators. Since a flesh-eating crocodile (croc/gator, close enough) is featured prominently in Peter Pan, I thought it was only appropriate to buy every box they had… even if they only had two.

I love gummy anything, and these “gummi” gators are super yummy. (I had to sample a few — you know to make sure I’m not poisoning my party guests or whatever.)

It’s quite likely that most of our partygoers won’t know the book as well as I do, so I’m making little cards with quotes from the novel explaining the more obscure details of the party décor. For the gummy gator/crocs, I’m going with this passage:

“’I have often,’ said Smee, ‘noticed your strange dread of crocodiles.’

‘Not of crocodiles,’ Hook corrected him, ‘but of that one crocodile.’”

Oh, and speaking of crocodiles, this croc will be chasing my watermelon Jolly Roger carving.

Amazon had other plastic crocodile options, but this one seemed appropriately feisty. And just basically, bad ass.

I’m going with this quote for the pirate ship/plastic croc display, “’It liked my arm so much, Smee, that it has followed me ever since, from sea to sea and from land to land, licking its lips for the rest of me.’”

This greedy croc has stolen my suckers.

Once I wrestle my suckers back from him, I have plans for the confections that likely involve hanging them from trees with ribbons. More on that later….

Fashion Parade Pity Party (Or I Don’t Know What to Wear So I’m Making a Playlist Instead)

Prince makes many appearances on my birthday party playlist. I adore him even though he does weird things with his face. Photo Courtesy of The Urban Daily.

I just spent the last hour in my walk-in trying to figure out what to wear to my birthday party next weekend. Now that I’m nearly suicidal, I think I need to switch gears. It’s time to work on the party playlist. Last year I neglected the task and I swear we ended up listening to way too much emo hipster music. Six hours of whining white boys is only appropriate for a mass suicide. (Or my fashion parade pity party.) Party playlists need to have the right amount of Whitney. And Michael. I mean really….

Sadly, I will have to forego some of my favorite hip hop tunes owing to the number of toddlers who will be in attendance next Sunday. I don’t want to be responsible for some kid standing a chair singing, “To the windows, to the walls, ‘til the sweat drips down my balls” in front of his entire preschool class. (We’re saving Lil’ Jon for my 35th next summer. There won’t be any children at that gathering.)

So, anyway…

It’s a 7 hour playlist, so I’m going to spare you the specifics, but here are a few of my faves that made the list:

Michael Jackson: Bad (I mean, obviously.)

Shaggy: Oh Carolina (And, yes, this song is from the Sliver Soundtrack, but I don’t care. It’s still a fresh jam even if I have no idea what “Prowl off. Jump and Prance,” means. It’s probably dirty but if I don’t get it, the toddlers won’t either.)

Nina Simone & Felix da Housecat: Sinnerman Remixed (I love Nina Simone’s original as well, but it’s obviously not right for a festive event.)

Junior Walker and The All Stars: Shotgun (Because it makes me want to dance on a table in my heels. And also because it’s all kinds of awesome.)

Lupe Fiasco featuring Trey Songz: Out of My Head (Kinda chill but sooo fun.)

Tiesto featuring C.C. Sheffield: Escape Me (Great tune for working out and also for just hanging out and being fabulous with friends.)

Eric Prydz vs. Floyd: Proper Education (Obviously I love Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall from The Wall, but this version has a better party feel.)

MGMT: Electric Feel (Like Modest Mouse’s Float On, this song never gets old.)

Prince: 1999 (It wouldn’t be a party without a bit of Prince. OK, there’s A LOT of Prince on my playlist, but it’s only because I love him. Like REALLY love him.)

Mark Morrison: Return of the Mack (Because I’m not about to neglect the 90s — or leave it to Shaggy to represent them by himself.)

Hank Williams, Jr.: Family Tradition (It’s essential to throw in some country. Just ‘cuz it’s awesome.)

Barney Stinson may believe the best mixes are all rise, but I think you need to chill things out a bit towards the end of the night — especially on a Sunday. Here are some of my slower jams.

The Rolling Stones: Beast of Burden (My second favorite Stones song of all time behind You Can’t Always Get What You Want.)

Otis Redding: The Dock of the Bay (This is a super obvious Otis tune, but it’s such a classic I can’t help myself. I have SO much Otis. I adore Otis.)

Paul Anka: Eye of the Tiger (If you haven’t checked his cover album, Rock Swings, do it. Now. You’ll thank me later.)

Oh, and because it’s a Peter Pan Party, I had to add Hook’s tarantella, Another Princely Scheme, from the Broadway musical.

Tomorrow I’ll give you an update on the flower arrangement crisis as well as the candy bar….

Carbs Fix Everything (Or How to Make Simple Fruit Cobbler)

Red, White, and Blue Berry Cobbler for the New Miss America

Yesterday afternoon I was convinced I’d discovered a level of despair that went beyond Billy Ocean’s ability to heal. I tried Loverboy. Caribbean Queen. AND When the Going Gets Tough. But still I moped. Beyond Billy Ocean? What’s beyond Billy Ocean?

Barry White?

Nope. He didn’t help either. Somehow I was immune to his bass and all of those happy strings. It was unprecendented. Prince’s Batdance almost fixed the situation, but not quite. Still I moped. Then I ate a few fists full of truffle popcorn and a bunch of fruit leather. And I was fine. It turns out my murderous sulking was just low blood sugar.

My friend Melissa will tell you about my low blood sugar-induced dark side. On outings to Fred Segal I could go from the cheerleader in the dressing room to a crabby, miserable monster who hated her thighs, her elbows, and the lighting in the store within minutes. She’d send me off to suck down a lemonade from the cafe and soon the monstrous, gray world would be back in Technicolor. I’d still hate my thighs, but maybe a little less.

So, anyway, after I was cured by the healing power of carbohydrates, I set about finding the right red, white, and blue confection to make for my friend, Suzie. See, Suzie is becoming an American this week, and I want to make a proper patriotic-looking dessert to commerate the occasion. She is one of my first LA friends, and I’m attending her oath ceremony at the courthouse downtown.

After serious deliberation, I ultimately decided to go with an old family recipe for fruit cobbler. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it works with any combination of fruit. I selected strawberries and blueberries to give it a red, white, and blue flair. The recipe is below.

Enjoy!

Fruit Cobbler

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 C flour
2 tsp baking power
1 C sugar
pinch of salt (a little less than 1/8 tsp)
1 C whole milk
3 C fresh fruit

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together flour, baking power, sugar, and salt. Add milk and stir until blended. Melt the butter in a 9″ square pan. Pour the batter over the butter. Arrange fruit over the top.

At this stage the cobbler will just look like a muddled mess.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Here I am downtown with the new Miss America. And her Cobbler.

I Suck as a Florist (Or I Need Help with My Floral Arrangements)

I think I’ve been listening to too much Tift Merritt and Bon Iver today because I’m starting to feel all sorry for myself.

Or maybe I’m glum because “Trader Joe” and I have very different opinions on what an “easy to open” package of oven roasted turkey breast looks like. Or it could be because the only Doritos left in the bag are crumbs. But mostly, I’d bet it’s because I have the kind of cramps that hurt from your feet all of the way up to your face and I’m missing some of my close friends today.

My birthday is in two weeks, and I’m deep in the throes of planning the party. It’s going to be awesome, and the guest list is out of control huge, but it will be missing some amazing girls this year. See, many of my close girlfriends have moved away and/or gotten married. They used to throw my parties, do my flowers, and just basically make me feel all kinds of special on my birthday. One year they even broke into my apartment, set up Sprinkles Cupcakes while I was at work, and were waiting to take me out for a surprise dinner when I got home.

That they won’t be here to partake in my Peter Pan Party madness just basically makes me feel like this:

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Not only do I miss them and the days of dancing on tables together, but their absence also means I am facing the daunting task of making my own floral arrangements for my party. I sort of suck at arranging flowers, and I’m afraid I’m going to make a huge mess of the affair. I mean I can’t do this:

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Danielle, the Goddess behind last year’s arrangement, now lives in Cabo and is launching a furniture line.

Sure, I could buy the arrangements, but where is the challenge in that?

Besides, I absolutely cannot stand being truly bad at something, so I am trying to teach myself.

So far it’s not going terribly well….

My dog hates my floral arrangement. So do I.

Part of the problem is that I don’t have the right vessels, so I need to remedy that. The other problem is finding inspiration because this art form does not come naturally to me. I wasn’t all that into flowers for most of my life. I spent many years as a tree-climbing tomboy who collected toads with the neighbor boys, and I left the flowers and the other pink stuff to the girls who had unicorns on their Trapper Keepers.

Here I am with my best toad-collecting buddy, Brett, basically being all boyish and geeky.

So now I am making up for lost time and I’m combing Pinterest for ideas. I have come up with these contenders so far:

Photo courtesy of Petals by David.

Photo Courtesy of Catch My Party.

That’s a decent start, right?

It only took me three HOURS to find two designs I really liked.

I think I have to turn off the Tift Merrit, down the entire bottle of ibuprofen, and watch Iron Eagle now because I hate being in a funk. It’s going to take Jason Gedrick blowing up some oil wells to cheer me up today, I’m afraid.

Do you have any arrangement ideas that might inspire me?

Please send help!

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?

I Dedicate This to Bumpa (Or I am Grateful to Receive the One Lovely Blog Award)

I am one of those terrible people who sometimes checks her phone while hiking. It should be a sin when one is among trees to consult a miniature computer, but sometimes it beckons from the pocket of one’s purse and it must be consulted so that the racket will stop.

Yesterday it was beastly hot by LA standards and it was actually even a bit humid. It was almost humid enough to make me happy, but not really. See, when you live in the desert and it wreaks all kinds of havoc on your dry hair and skin you, too, will wish for moisture in the air. And those of you who are enduring 107 degree heat with 99% humidity, I would feel sympathy for you except that your mortgages are less than my rent and the men in your state wear baseball caps instead of fedoras.

So anyway, I was having this weird hike in Griffith Park, keeping to the shady parts so my dogs didn’t die of heatstroke and whatnot. There were these two old Asian ladies singing songs at a picnic table for no apparent reason, Albus was trying to pounce on tiny lizards, Woodley was straggling behind sniffing for squirrels and other prey, and there was basically all kinds of chaos everywhere. Meanwhile, my phone was making the mail sound.

I checked it and, lo, it brought glad tidings of a blogging award! There I was among the majestic trees feeling all humbled and proud to learn that I had received the One Lovely Blog Award. Seriously, thank you Kenley of Beyond the Green Door! You are like my young Fairy Blog Mother with the Awards! I adore you!

Now I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself and nominate other bloggers. Since I am terrible at following rules I haven’t personally made up, I am going to start by telling you eight things about myself.

So here it goes:

1) I would die without music.

Here I am DJing in diapers and basically being fat.

My momma raised me on Motown. Marvin GayeAretha, and the Four Tops were the soundtracks of my childhood.

Here we are with her older sister being fabulous hippie types in the grass.

Her little sister contributed a bit of Barry White, Miles Davis, and Arthur Prysock to my musical education.

My mom’s little sister introduced me to great music and gave me my first Cuisinart.

And her baby brother rounded it out by covering Patsy Cline and the blues.

My uncle’s dog, Decca, was named after Patsy Cline’s recording label. Patsy and Decca were amazing.

All of us can trace our love of music and our brown eyes back to the Patron Saint Everything Tremendous, my Bumpa, Harold Lawrence Russell. (I couldn’t say Grandpa when I was little, and the Bumpa bit just stuck.) He taught us to love darts, dancing, and the better things in life, like cocktail hour. He is my hero, and both of my dogs are basically named after him.

Woodley Russell and Professor Albus Lawrence sit nicely for biscuits in Coldwater Canyon Park.

2) Speaking of which, I have always loved dogs.

Here I am in Athens, Georgia with my cousin, Abbott. He would later sail to St. Croix on a tiny sailboat with our Bumpa because his mommy and daddy were moving there to study coral reefs at the NOAA Hydrolab.

3) I worked in the writers’ office of LOST for seasons 3 and 4, and Carlton Cuse is hands down my favorite boss ever. He is funny, smart, talented, and a true mentor in every sense of the word. (I’m super excited about his new show, Bates Motel, on A&E. You should be too. You should also read his article about college sports here.)

My old LOST office in Bungalow 23. Note: we were NOT in Honolulu. The writers’ office was on the Disney lot neighboring “What About Brian?” instead of the beach.

I wore my NOAA Hydrolab shirt into the office during the writing of the Hydra Station episodes because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Hurricane Hugo destroyed my uncle’s lab in 1989. This shirt is a collectors’ item now or something, but I wear it to bed.

4) I psychotically LOVE football.

I am a Green Bay Packers fan because my dad grew up in a super remote part of Michigan that is actually connected to Wisconsin.

Here the Kohon cousins are keeping it classy in a fine establishment called The Rusty Saw Blade Bar. What else?

My true love is college football, though, and the Wolverines are my second religion, you know, after the Presbyterian part.

Only my friend Melissa wears a cashmere Hermes hat to the Big House. I love Melissa.

5) I quit being premed when I had about six credits left and decided to get my MFA in film producing from USC instead.

Because THIS:

is more fun than THIS:

6) There is a road called Kohon Road in Michigan. It’s not one of those coincidences — it’s actually named after my dad’s parents. It’s very weird putting your own name into the GPS. Truth.

Here I am on the side of a highway posing with a sign. It’s not weird… honest.

7) I love absolutely everything about trees.

Sitting in them.

There may be some truly questionable parenting at work here… because this limb? It’s nowhere near the ground. (Just kidding mom and dad.)

Planting them.

Bumpa planted a tree for each of his grandchildren at our cottage. This is my blue spruce as a baby — and also me as a baby.

Decorating them.

Here’s my Bumpa bringing me a Christmas tree.

Hauling them.

Here I am being an amazing helper. I exceed at helping Bumpa.

30 years later, still hauling…

And burning them.

We could sit by a fire absolutely for hours. It’s one of the few things that actually made us sit still.

We lost him in October of 2010, and nothing will ever be the same again. Ever.

I stenciled trees on my hallway wall in remembrance of him.

My birch trees are the first thing I see when I come home.

8) I spoke on behalf of the family at his funeral, and I still don’t know how I did it without crying what with Danny Boy being played in the church and all.

A year later we gathered to plant trees and scatter my Bumpa’s ashes at the cottage. We popped the bubbly and toasted the man who made all of our lives happier, richer, and so much more fun by being by our sides.

I would like to dedicate the One Lovely Blog award to him because I would not have returned to writing if it were not for his courage, his faith, and the legacy his integrity left behind, but that’s a long story for another time.

So now, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other blogs, and it’s not that I don’t want to follow the rules, but I want to be truly heartfelt today. I’m still new to blogging and I’m slowly amassing a list of blogs I love. These are the four blogs I adore right now, and I want you to read them. They speak to my soul and stuff.

But before you do that, you should listen to In the Mood by Glenn Miller because it’s a happy kind of song, it was my Bumpa’s favorite, and it’s good for dancing in your living room during cocktail hour. Even if your only dance partner is your dogs.

Peppermint Bliss. I discovered Bailey’s blog because her home was featured in a Design Sponge tour, and it was quite possibly the most amazing home tour I have ever seen. Never have I pinned more photos from a single spread. Ever. Her playful, colorful, yet sophisticated style epitomizes the aesthetic I aspire to create for myself. Plus she’s really funny, she’s a talented designer, and she has a Cocker Spaniel. You must check out her blog. She has a fresh voice, which is more rare than you might think in the blog space.

Living Luxe for Less Bucks. Sarah is hysterically funny. You will laugh at her anecdotes about ugly undies and awkward body waxing incidents, but you’ll also learn lots of money saving tips on her blog. She has not let her kidney transplant limit her life or dim her spirit. You should know about her. She’s truly one of a kind. Her courage, individuality, and beautiful spirit come through in her writing.

LindO Designs. Angela is a gifted architect and artist. She transforms furniture, knows how to install her own chandeliers, and she’s doing all of this while running a business and running after a miniature Michigan football player in waiting. (No, really.) In addition to her furniture business, she also has a prop company. She’s presently doing fabulous things involving Dr. Seuss for her prop company. I mean, who doesn’t love Truffula Trees?

Dirty Centaur Pictures. John is beyond funny. Last year, he and his writing partner wrote a web series that I produced for a compact car company that will remain nameless for a whole host of reasons. It was absolutely the most fun I have ever had at any job ever. You need to know about John because we all need more laughter in our lives.