Office SOS (Or I’m Redecorating)

I ran out of rooms to redecorate in my apartment long ago. Luckily, I have an office in desperate need of a makeover. Up until this point I have mostly been tossing things on walls and shelves haphazardly just to get them out of the back of my walk-in at home, but the madness needs to stop.

I need a plan.

I spend most of my waking hours at work, so it’s time to take charge of the situation.

This is what it looks like now… overexposed photo and all.

Office on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This window is in DIRE need of drapes.

I’m thinking maybe some crisp black and white stripes.

Something like this perhaps?

Or does that make it feel too prison-y?

I can’t decide….

Here’s another angle of the work in progress.

Office on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Obviously, I need to put a cushion on that awkward ledge. The Legos? Are not cutting it.

The ledge probably needs some of these pillows too.

Pillows on Dogs Dishes and Decor

These pillows are everything. The neutrals are Anthropologie and the delicious pops of gold are Caitlin Wilson.

I’m also tempted to hide the hideous carpet that looks like a filthy slice of red velvet cake with this Caitlin Wilson rug.

British Bouquet Rug from Caitlin Wilson on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Caitlin knows what she’s doing with color. Just saying.

I mean the carpet is so bad it drove my dog to violence.

See?

Albus of Dogs Dishes and Decor

He killed his birthday Storm Trooper.

I also want to DIY something like this for wall.

String Art on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Find more madness with string inspiration here.

What do you think?

Anika of Dogs Dishes and Decor

Am I crazy?

Actually?

Please don’t answer that. I think the answer lies somewhere in the Office Pinterest Board I created this morning.

And just because I love YOU almost as much as I love Pinterest, I’ll leave you with this Kill Them With Colour Remix.

I’m off to work.

XOXO

)

2014 and I Are Going to be Friends (Or Will You Still be My Blog Friend?)

I was reading through old posts this week and realized my credibility is pretty shaky here in the blogosphere. I promised not to be all philosophical and sad, I said I’d write a post about meyer lemon budino fluffiness, and I failed on both fronts. If I’m being really honest, I probably still owe you a proper wrap up from Finn’s baby shower… and the child is practically walking, faux hawk and all.

Dogs and Babies on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I mean look at him! He’s going to be hiking with Woodley soon.

It seems a little inauthentic to resurrect all that now.

SO… here’s what I’m gonna do instead:

I’m going to stop making promises I can’t keep. Seriously. I’m not going to promise posts I don’t really feel like writing, I’m going to say sorry for not publishing those half written drafts, and I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m going to trust that those of you who have stuck by me through the highs and lows of the last year will do continue to do so, and those who really just want sprinkles, sparkles, and puff pastries have found all that glitters and oozes with butter somewhere else.

So this is Dogs Dishes and Decor these days. It’s the good with the bad. The highs with the lows. Life with a side of glitter.

Cool?

Cool. Now let’s talk about 2014. It started off pretty solid.

I mean, I found this on a rock while hiking with Albus on New Year’s Day.

New Year's Day Hike on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I’d love to know how this actually ended up on a rock in the Hollywood Hills, but I’m not asking questions. I’m just wearing my crown like a boss.

And now that the year is well underway, I’m helping Finnie’s mommy plan a baby shower for someone in our (now defunct) supper club, I’m prepping for a massive shoot at work, and I’m doing my best to navigate the new rules of nutrition outlined by my Ayurvedic doctor without stabbing someone on set because I haven’t had any pickled ginger or dark chocolate in days.

Here’s a preview of the baby shower brain child I’m creating.

100 Layer Cake Baby Shower Ideas on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Photo courtesy of 100 Layer Cake.

Baby Shower Cake from 100 Layer Cake on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Photo courtesy of 100 Layer Cake.

You can check out my Pinterest Board for the shower here.

And just for good measure, here’s the meyer lemon budino I made last spring when my long lost Gillian returned from producing DIVERGENT in Chicago.

Meyer Lemon Budino from Bon Appetit on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Bon Appetit knows what’s up with budino.

You can find the recipe here.

Happy 2014!

Let’s still be blog friends. K?

Is It My Birthday YET? (Or Meghan and I Plan ANOTHER Party)

In case you don’t remember, I went a little mental before my birthday last year. I was having this meltdown because I felt like many of my best friends were gone, and I was trying to have the PERFECT Peter Pan party. I was freaking out I didn’t have Danielle to do my flowers, Nicole to make me cocktails, and you should have seen the panic I had over the melting mascarpone frosting on my strawberry cupcakes! If you missed that mess, consider yourself lucky.

See, I sort of lost sight of what was actually important as I’m wont to do. I often get so wrapped up in perfection that I take all of the pleasure out of the process. I have always loved my birthday, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not about people celebrating me. It’s about having all of the people I love in one place.

This year I caught myself complicating matters again. I was devising a plan that involved ocean kayaking, a beach potluck, and a Sunday brunch at Shutters. I was trying to pick out the perfect Paperless Post invite for the occasion and realized I couldn’t even explain the weekend without multiple invites, linking it all to eventbrite, etc.

When your party is too complicated for Paperless Post?

It’s a problem.

So, I put a pin in the plan and put everything on hold until something less complicated inspired me. Saturday I was feeling like I needed a change of scenery so I headed down to the South Bay. I’m trying to write something that has been hard to make sense of because it comes to me in pieces. I knew I was trying too hard to force it, so I figured I’d head to the beach and wander without a plan. I decided to let life unfold and just inspire me.

And that’s when I had this lovely, magical day. I started taking pictures of things that moved me.

Like chalk drawings.

photo-401

And houses.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I love the New England look of this house. I imagine eating lobster rolls and clam chowder on the patio of this place.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I love the stone work on this house. It almost feels like it belongs in Texas. Like you could host amazing football parties here, complete with some serious barbecue.

I wandered all of the way up to Manhattan from Hermosa taking photos and thinking. I even got a pic of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 beach pad.

Beverly Hills 90210 House on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Like, Donna Martin lost her virginity here and stuff.

The wandering continued for a long time until I came upon an absolutely massive house that caught my eye. It wasn’t the size of it I loved so much as the lines — and the stone work.

I had to keep backing up to get the entire house in the frame. I kicked off my flip flops and kept taking steps backward, trying to get it to fit.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

All I could think when I saw this house was, “This place is perfect for massive family dinners with friends, complete with dart tournaments and impromptu dance parties on the patio!”

I heard a voice behind me say, “Sure, take a picture of my house.”

“It has such great lines!” I replied excitedly without looking back. I got the shot and finally turned to face a group of men sitting on towels and drinking beer. One of them brought his phone over and asked me to take a picture of the group for his daughter. “She’s in New Hampshire this weekend. I want to send her a picture of the guys.”

“That’s sweet,” I said as he handed me his iPhone.

I took a few photos and they invited me to sit with them. They offered me a beer — and a chair. It was draped in a navy and yellow striped towel with the name, “Caitlin” embroidered on it.

“I’ll be Caitlin today,” I said as I sat down.

“That’s my daughter’s towel,” the man with the iPhone told me.

“Yesterday I was Meghan.” I said as I took a sip of my Pilsner Urquell.

We talked for a long time about architecture, writing, economics, my complicated feelings about Ayn Rand, and everything else. “Meghan, what do you do?” One asked. “My name’s not really Meghan,” I said. “It’s actually Anika.” This led to jokes about how I didn’t look like an “Anika.”

“My mom wanted to name me Meghan,” I explained. “I use it at coffee shops when I don’t feel like spelling my name. I actually went by Ana for a while in college because I got sick of being different. Then I realized I wasn’t me without a weird name, so I went back.'”

See, in some ways I am Meghan. She wears Ralph Lauren, serves on the advisory committee for a sorority, and she likes pearls. She wants to sell real estate and join a country club. And in others, I’m Anika. She goes to Furthur concerts, studies Ayurveda, and has been know to lay on the floor listening to Purple Rain on repeat while trying to write really gut-wrenching stuff. I mean, I have had my nose pierced since I was 19 and I still can’t decide if it’s really ME or not. I’ll take it out for years at a time and then just put it back in for no reason.

At my 25th birthday party, one of my more sensitive and artistic friends from college was taking in the chaos all around. There were former football player/frat boys doing shots from an ice luge and a super drunk reality TV personality eating dip straight out of the bowl with her hands. He turned to me and asked, “How can you be friends with people like that and someone like me?”

I shrugged, but he continued.

“I mean, who are you more yourself with?”

“I’m myself with everyone,” I replied.

It’s true. I am. And as I make my birthday list this year, I’m thinking about the great diversity among my friends. The only thing some of them have in common is me.

And yet?

What they also share, what I can say without a doubt, is that they are all people who have done what they said they were going to do more often than not. People who listened. People who cared. People who stepped up for me when I needed it. People for whom I have done the same.

So, I’m going to bring them together this year for whatever unfolds. I’m getting a hotel room in Hermosa and inviting everyone to come down and hang out when they can. My friends with kids can bring them in the afternoon. My single friends can come later and hit up a few pier bars with me. Anyone who doesn’t feel safe to drive can crash on my floor. It’s going to be SIMPLE.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t created a Pinterest Board for my birthday. I mean, I’m still ME.

And I love my friends. For who THEY are.

By the way? That big house did not belong to the guys. Some billionaire owns it, and it’s sitting empty in the wake of his divorce. It makes me really sad it isn’t filled with fun-loving people coming together for a really good time.

Happy Birthday, ‘Merica (Or This Patriot’s Digging Red, White, and Blue Decor)

I got up at 6 this morning and went for a five mile walk with the dogs because I’m mental like that. While wandering down La Cienega, I saw these chairs. They were staring at me like brightly colored candies in this window, and I was like, “Yes, please. Get in my life.” Since I have absolutely no place to put them, nor would they match any furniture I presently own, I photographed them instead.

Erika Brunson chairs on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I mean, just LOOK at these Erika Brunson chairs! They’re all crisp and sharp. And delicious.

As I imagined some sort of scenario in which I had an actual need for these chairs, I realized that I have been seriously neglecting the décor part of Dogs, Dishes, and Décor lately. And given that today is Independence Day, I figured I should make some attempt at being patriotic, so… here are some rooms I love that are giving a nod to Old Glory.

You might be taken aback by the understated nature of these rooms, especially when you compare them with those bits of Pepto pink perfection, but I’m nothing if not full of surprises. (And contradictions.)

Red White and Blue Decor from Dogs Dishes and Decor

OK, this is coral, but it’s close enough…. Source

DP_Lynn-Morgan-Blue-White-Chair-Bookcase_s3x4_lg

Lynn Morgan Designs. Source

Red White and Blue Decor on Dogs Disehs and Decor

Micky Hurley, Designer. Source

seaside ocen blue

Micky Hurley, Designer. Source

Happy Birthday, ‘Merica. I’m putting on my navy and white bikini just for you.

#0fftothebeach

Sometimes It’s OK to Be Stupid (Or I Put Cornstarch in My Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Sometimes I do stupid things. Like try to hike near the Griffith Observatory the day Endeavour is flying over LA. Or secretly date someone my boss knows because that sort of thing never ends badly. Or bake chocolate chip cookies from recipes I find on the internet.

Sometimes these stupid things turn out well, but not usually. The parking situation at Griffith Park was stupid annoying this morning. And that breakup? It’s a great story now, but maybe not so much at the time. There might have been a moment when I had to hold back tears while rolodexing the contact information for the actress said boss was setting said ex up with. Or there might have been more than a few awkward incidents at premiere parties where everyone present was secretly wishing for a swift and merciful death.

So, anyway, the internet cookie recipe? It’s for chocolate chip cookies. And it uses cornstarch. I feel like absolutely everyone pinned this recipe at some point and then forgot about it. I decided to try it today because the curiosity was killing me.

And…?

I’m pleased to report it’s not an internet hoax: the cornstarch actually works, and it does produce fluffy, delicious cookies. There are a few tricks to keep in mind if you’re going to make the cookies, though. They won’t spread out on the baking sheet like traditional cookies. They remain kind of blob like unless you press the dough into discs before baking.

Plus they still look doughy on top even when they’re done baking so you just have to trust the baking time in the recipe otherwise you will probably burn them.

See how the top still looks like dough and the bottom is starting to turn golden brown? This is how the cookies will look when they are done. You just have to trust the baking time in the recipe.

I think these cookies would be great for ice cream cookie sandwiches and I plan to use them for that purpose this weekend. I’ll get back to you on that experiment next week.

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a shot. I think you should. Just don’t bake them when you’re really hungry or you might eat too many.

Blerg.

I just did another stupid thing.

Sometimes the internet doesn’t steer you wrong. The cornstarch in these cookies makes them super soft.

Peter Pan Party Wrap Up (Or Here’s Everything in One Place)

OK, this is it. The final Peter Pan Party post. The everything-in-one-place post. The you-never-have-to-hear-about-it-again post.

These Peter Pan Partygoers are eager to wrap this ish up.

See, I’m saving you from digging around my blog to piece together a Peter Pan Party the way I used to rummage through piles of black capris and halter tops on my floor in college just to find two matching Steve Madden platforms. (Note: I do NOT wear Maddens anymore. This is because I no longer think it’s acceptable to be hobbled by cheap footwear.)

Invitations
I used Paperless Post because I’m into saving the planet by saving some trees. And also because their designs are like the perfect storm of affordable and attractive.

Photo Courtesy of Paperless Post.

If you’re not into this design, here are a few more pirate-y options.

By the way, PP now offers a charity stamp option. They donate $0.05 to Amensty International, Red, or the ASPCA if you choose the charity stamp instead of the default option. Naturally, I went with the ASPCA puppy stamp. Since we had 142 people on our guest list, we bought a little bit of kibble for homeless pets just by inviting people to drink with us at our party.

Flowers
Here’s the work in progress post, complete with ordering info on the vases and sprinkles.
And this is the reveal.

Neverland Map
I explain how to age paper for a treasure map or Neverland map here.

Other Assorted Decorations
This is the decoration wrap up, complete with product ordering information.

Appetizers
Spicy Eggplant Dip
Truffle Popcorn

Taco Bar Main Course
Cola Carnitas
Slow Cooker Chicken (Note: I didn’t handle this part of the party, but if I had, I probably would have tried this recipe.)
Salsa
Salsa Verde

Dessert Bar
Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting
Banana Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting
Glazed Lime Cake
Chocolate Stout Cake
Skull and Crossbones Sugar Cookies

And now… bacon wrapped meatloaf, because everything is better when it’s wrapped in bacon. Truth.

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 4 (Or I Like My Flowers With a Side of Sprinkles)

If you’ve been following my flower saga, you know arranging flowers is not my thing. One of my best friends usually does my birthday flowers, but she’s living in Cabo at the moment. So not only did she miss my birthday festivities, but she also couldn’t arrange my flowers this year. (Tragedy. Twofold.)

So, I was on my own and wanted to do this ditty with peonies and hydrangeas.

Yeah, well, it turns out peonies are out of season. Peonies are my absolute favorite, and I was so tired and just generally overwhelmed that I almost cried at the florist when I learned this. Now before you think I’m just a silly, emotional girl you should know I don’t often cry unless there’s a really good reason. I’m usually really good at being a robot and stuff, but there’s just a lot happening at the moment, and the peonies were sort of the last straw.

The selection at the first florist also just generally sucked, so I had to find another florist. At this point I had been in the car for about two hours picking up spare crock pots and whatnot, and I did not relish heading deeper into the valley to hit up another florist. But I also hate ugly… so I did it anyway.

The second florist had a much better selection and the woman behind the counter was so sweet that she gave me a few free snapdragons (love!) and a birthday rose (double love!). She really turned my day around, and that was absolutely awesome.

I don’t have great photos of the final arrangements, but here they are in action and stuff.

People have to lean around my enormous flowers to be sociable. A small sacrifice for aesthetics, really.

If you want to do something similar, you can see a breakdown on the sprinkles and vases here — and you can order the suckers here.

Here’s a close-up of the flowers before I steadied them by stuffing all kinds of paper towels into the inner vase.

Here’s the Leaning Tower of Lilies before I fixed it with wads of paper towels.

And thus ends my flower saga. Until next time….

Flower Meltdown Update (Or I am Closer to Cracking this Flower Arranging Thing)

If you remember my meltdown about not knowing how to arrange flowers, you might remember this arrangement.

Photo Courtesy of Catch My Party.

I have decided I want to attempt it for my party — or at least a version of it. Since I’m rather cheap (hush, mom, I am.), I decided to hit up Ikea for vases.

I had a hell of a time finding vases that would nest inside of each other, so I went with water glasses for the inner vessels. It looks like this so far.

Rough draft of sprinkles and vases. Very Rough.

The vases are the Bladet, and the glasses are the Godis. I’m debating whether to stack two glasses on top of each other to clear the top of the larger vase or to leave room at the top (which would mean not filling the vases to the brim with sprinkles). I think it’s going to be a game-day decision based on what looks best with the flowers. The Godis glasses came in a pack of 6, so I have plenty of water glasses either way.

I didn’t know exactly how many ounces of sprinkles I would need, so I bought the biggest container I could find at Home Goods. It turns out 6.5 ounces wasn’t enough to fill one vase. (It’s driving me crazy that there aren’t any blue or purple sprinkles in this assortment, so I plan to fix that.)

Once I had a better idea how many ounces I would need, I scoured Amazon for affordable options. I found a 16 oz bag for under $8. Score.

These things are called Jimmies. Who knew? Photo Courtesy of Amazon.

Since I have Amazon Prime, I get free shipping, and my colorful new loot will be delivered to my door on Tuesday. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. You know, just in case you’re holding your breath or something….

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:

fullsizerender-15

fullsizerender-16

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:

img_3198

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!