Something to Smile About (Or I Accept the Liebster Award)

I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of for hanging in there while I turned Dogs Dishes and Decor into Dogs Dishes and Death for a minute.

You’re here for stories about sparkles, sprinkles, and glitter. Not sadness. Sorry about that.

It’s hard to switch gears from, “I’m so sad I want to smash things” to “Hey everyone, look at these super pretty Caitlin Wilson pillows!” Luckily, I don’t have to do that today.

See, Tracy of Bits N Pieces recently gave me the Liebster Award, and I’m really honored. So, instead of trying to make some awkward segue seem smooth, I can just say, “Thank you, Tracy.”

Seriously. Thank you.

The rules for accepting the Liebster Award can be found at the end of the post. Naturally I am breaking a bunch of them because I’m me, and well… I don’t do well with rules.

Eleven Facts about Me:

1. I had an eating disorder in college. My need to feed everyone and make them happy with food is my way of turning a painful obsession into something positive. The insidious thing about an eating disorder is that you can’t give up food like you can stop shooting heroine or huffing glue or whatever else people abuse. So dinner parties — and this blog — are about taking food back.

2. I think therapy is helpful… to a point. And then it’s time to move on. Nothing has been more profoundly healing for me than forgiveness. For real.

3. I think there are usually two sides to every story. Life is complicated. And sometimes it’s just a matter of shifting your perspective. Or changing your story if it doesn’t serve you. For example, I could look at my mother’s desire to redline my short stories and poems with editor’s notes as harsh and critical. Or I could look at it as someone who saw potential in me and wanted to make me better. Someone who took the time and cared enough to push me.


I was not the Poet Laureate of Greenfield Parkway at 11, but this poem hung (proudly?) on the refrigerator with all of its editor’s notes.

4. I think life is about creating a dance floor where there wasn’t one before.

5. I don’t really like cupcakes. I just make them because other people love them and tell me I’m fabulous for making them. I do lots of things because I want people to tell me I’m fabulous. Who doesn’t? I’m human.


I played cupcake fairy last weekend and delivered these to my friends just to say, “I love you.” Just ‘cuz.

6. People tell me things — like super personal things. All of the time. Strangers on hikes. Random guys on chairlifts. Coworkers. My sorority sisters. My family members. I know things I probably shouldn’t, but it’s probably because I believe we all need to let go of the shame associated with “shouldn’t.”

7. The first time I fell in love I was 15. It was a spectacular mess. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Love makes you do weird things. Like draw pictures of people.

8. I started another blog called This American Mess because I didn’t want Dogs Dishes and Decor to bring people down. I can’t shut my head off, so I needed to do something productive with the stuff that screams between my ears at all hours. (I’ve been an insomniac since I was four, but I’m not mad about it. Napoleon didn’t sleep much either, and we have the same personality. Or so says the Myers Briggs type indicator test.)

9. I always wanted brothers when I was little, so I tried to find them anywhere I could. For some reason I convinced the little boy next door to run away with me when we were four. We even told his mother about our plan before we carried it out, but she didn’t believe us. That was probably the last time either of our mothers failed to take us seriously. (He wrote his Harvard application essay about our adventure. He got in.)


Family is what what you make of it. I have always tried to make my own everywhere I have gone.

10. Iron Eagle is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the producer used to call my office to speak to my boss when I worked on LOST. He passed away last year, and it’s a lasting regret of mine that I never told him how much I loved the movie. I really should have told him how much this scene speaks to me.

11. I went by Ana for a while in college because I was tired of people not being able to pronounce my name. Then I realized I wasn’t myself without a weird name, so I went back.


This was the page I created for my sorority’s pledge book. I went overboard. Obviously.

Random Questions for the Nominees:

1. Tea or Coffee? COFFEE – espresso, actually.

2. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Both – I actually hate afternoons and think we should all embrace siestas.

3. What would be your ideal job? I’m doing it.

4. If you could do volunteer work, what would you choose to do? I used to be a sorority advisor at USC. Now I volunteer with the University of Michigan Alum Club.

5. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football

6. Are you a cat or dog lover or neither? Dog lover. I feel used by cats.

7.  Who is your favorite music artist? I can’t pick one, but my short list includes Yeasayer, My Morning Jacket, Beyonce, Rihanna, and U2 (up to and including Zooropa. I even forgive them for Zooropa. For real.)

8. Do you have a bucket list, if so, what is one thing on your bucket list? I do. And it includes cage diving with Great White sharks.

9. Do you like to eat seafood? LOVE – particularly when it’s raw.

10. What is your favorite food to eat? I live for burritos, sushi, pasta, and all kinds of pig. LOVE pig.

11. What is your favorite smell? Maybe lilac, gardenia or mint, hmm. Can’t decide.

My 11 Questions for the recipients:

1. Chocolate or vanilla?
2. Favorite books?
3. Favorite movies?
4. Favorite albums?
5. Best concert you’ve ever attended?
6. Favorite artist (painter/photographer)?
7. Biggest fear?
8. Who was your first kiss?
9. Are you facebook friends with him or her?
10. Last thing you ate?
11. First thing you do in the morning?

The (not 11) blogs I want to recognize:

LindO Designs – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Angela is seriously talented. You HAVE to check out her blog. And her Etsy store.

Hey Gorgeous – Not only does Rhiannon live in Michigan (give it up for the mitten state), but she creates some seriously lovely events. You MUST check out her blog. She glitters unicorns. I mean, really….

Peppermint Bliss – I haven’t missed a single post since I started reading Peppermint Bliss last year. In the rare event that Bailey takes a day off from posting, my life feels incomplete. She’s funny, and she is beyond talented. So beyond.

Yammie’s Noshery – It’s rare I make anything from another blog, and I make things from this one. For real. Besides, it’s delightfully written.

Cookin’ Canuck – Again, it’s pretty rare I find a recipe on a blog that makes me abandon my back issues of Bon Appetit, but Dara’s blog did it. Her fish soup is amazing. Make it.

Rules for accepting Liebster Award are:

1.      Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
2.      List 11 random facts about yourself.
3.      Answer the 11 questions from the nominator.
4.      Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed.
5.      Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6.      Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
7.      Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

Nursery Ideas for My Friends (Or No, Mom, I’m Not Pregnant)

Progress on my bedroom redesign project has been agonizingly slow. The entire process has been complicated by a tight budget, some pieces I don’t really like (but can’t financially justify replacing), and severely limited space. I’m closer to a breakthrough than when I began the project last spring, though. I no longer want to keep the lights off or close my eyes when I enter the room, so there’s that. That said, I’m not really ready for a work in progress post. It’s just so disjointed you’d wonder what I’ve been smoking all summer. I essentially know how I want to connect the design dots, but it’s all in my head. And it won’t translate to a decent post yet.

Instead, I want to switch gears and discuss a different kind of bedroom.

I want to talk about nurseries.

Not because I have any need for one, mind you, but because three of my good friends will this spring. I promise this isn’t one of those, “I have this friend who is pregnant and needs ideas,” posts. I’m really not pregnant. (Please assure my mother of this if she calls and asks.)

Also? I’m not baby crazy. I just like nurseries. I think it’s probably because I’m basically a big kid myself and nurseries provide a real opportunity to be whimsical and indulge your inner child in your design. Plus I like toys and bright colors, both of which go hand in hand with babies.

Here are some of my favorite nurseries.

I LOVE the Shel Silverstein “Giving Tree” closet in this nursery. I mean, I need it in my life. Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

This Tin Tin inspired nursery is delightful. I adore the soft blue and yellow juxtaposed with bright accents. Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

I can’t help myself. I’m in loooove. Can anyone say Cowboy Baby? #texasforever Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

I dig the vintage-y Jenny Lind crib in this room, and I like the way it stands out against the charcoal wall. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is a fairly gender neutral nursery… for your friends brave enough to want to be surprised by their baby’s gender. Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

This nursery is way sleek and totally gender neutral. Photo Courtesy of Houzz.

And now it’s time to get a little more girly.

I like the subtle feminine influence in this nursery. The room is soft and a little frilly without being too princess-y or over the top. Photo Courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

I love the use of black and white in this nursery from 346 Living. It’s eye-catching, and it prevents the feminine elements from taking over.

I’m way into this navy and white wall. The mobile and the baby animal print from The Animal Print Shop are great accents too. Photo Courtesy of the Animal Print Shop Blog.

And last but certainly not least is this amazing nursery from Bailey McCarthy of Peppermint Bliss. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you must. She is crazy talented. And hilarious.

I adore Bailey’s designs! They are bright, courageous, and playful. Photo Courtesy of Design Sponge.

And because one pic of this nursery isn’t enough, here’s another angle.

I die for this chandelier. Die. Photo Courtesy of Design Sponge.

If you want to see a more comprehensive photo gallery, check out the Nursery Board I created on Pinterest. You know, just in case you have a pregnant friend. Or something.