Thursday, November 29, 2012

Makin' a Movie

Making a student film is like...

Baking cupcakes at the last minute for your kid to take to school the next day. Only your high hopes of showing off to all the other parents/teachers/volunteers by making treats from scratch is subject to things like reality and high expectations when you realize you need these cupcakes NOW and it's 10:30 at night but you have no ingredients. So you have to run to the store (Wal-Mart, because what the heck else is open?) and even though you attempted to make this a productive trip and wrote down a list and shit, you definitely forgot that in your car.

So you're cruising down the aisles, trying to remember what you wrote down, avoiding eye contact and worrying the whole time that you are losing SLEEP (you know, that thing you've looked forward to all day?) and spending MONEY despite a budget you've set yourself. But won't it be worth it? Won't your kid love you even more and look back on memories like this thinking, Gee, my mom loved me so much she spent the time to bake me special things
So you're all high on visions of grandeur, but really its just the smell of the person in front of you who has dandruff halfway down their back and you realize you completely forgot frosting. While you were willing to bake these mini cakes from scratch, you draw the line at frosting because those 7-year-olds won't even appreciate true buttercream frosting and besides you're already at the store. But then you realize that all the crap in your cart costs more than you expected and all you have is a ten dollar bill.

When you finally get home you're exhausted but you whip up a quick batter, pop those babies in the oven, take one look at the mess you've made in the kitchen and slide it all into the sink. That's clean enough. Who's really going to fault you except yourself? It's the cupcakes that are the priority, not the clean counters. Yeah, that's some first class justification you just dealt yourself, but it's 11:30 at night (much later than you had initially _wanted_ to go to bed) and some things are expendable.

Sadly, you spend another 45 minutes waiting for the cupcakes to cool so you can frost them and dammit if they don't frost properly. So then you have sugar all over your fingers, sprinkles between your toes (because of course you spilled) and your expectations for these glorious cupcakes are quickly dropping. You spend another ten minutes hunting for the tupperware you know will fit all of these damn cakes, only to realize your husband used it to put away leftovers (for once). 

In the morning your kid has those friggin cupcakes, proud as can be, maybe not for the reasons you envisioned, but they're made, they're frosted and they're out of your hands. Now it's up to someone else to enjoy them.

Yeah, making a student film is kind of like that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cater to Your Every Whim

I think I may have lost my mind.

In an effort to cut costs and support Mr. E on his student film, I offered to cater food for 3 of 5 days. 

Let's be clear.

I cook. Pretty well too! Pork chops with peaches, Meatloaves, burgers, mashed potatoes, etc etc.

I bake. Pies, cookies, homemade breads, etc etc.

Because I do these things, and I enjoy doing these things, and I've heard praise for doing these things...I thought helping Mr. E out would be useful. Fun, even.

And then I realized that I need three meals on different days for 30+ people. 

Pizza is frowned upon for SAG actors because it's too "cliche". Though I could probably swing it if I wanted (hello? pizza and salad and apple crisp? that's not your average college set, now is it?!)

So I need to get creative.
Pasta and meatballs...with salad and garlic bread.
     Meatballs are easy enough to make ahead of time. The pasta dried out by the time I transported it to set last time, so we'll see if we can think of something sneaky to keep it slippery and serve-able.

Carne Asada fries
     French fries, carne asada meat, refried beans, cheese, guacamole (optional) and sour cream (optional).
     I loved getting these at theatre rehearsals- everyone loves Mexican food and these are SO EASY to whip up. Mr. E requested these the last day due to bean content.

My coup de grace? Breakfast for dinner.
     I'll cook dozens of pancakes and just fry up sausage and bacon! Who doesn't eat bacon? Plus, I've already made lemon bars for the masses, so we'll call that their "fresh fruit" for the day, yeah? 
We can all ignore the three sticks of butter I added, mmkay?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Coming Home

There are few things more ahh-worthy than coming home from an extended stay to a clean house.

The stress and worry of your (relaxing) weekend melt away to the sight of your perfectly plumped, extremely inviting couch. Oh and that already-made bed? Begging you to jump in and sleep, please.

I love visiting family. I love seeing everyone, cooking, baking, watching movies, playing games- it's great. But there comes one night too many when you realize you would LOVE to sleep in your own bed instead of the couch. 

But possibly the most excited of all of us? Ripley bee-lined inside the house exactly to where she left her poor mangled Hippo, carried his pink pelt to her favorite chew spot and went to town.
She even forwent her new bone for that stuffed animal. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


In the last few years I can truly say that my cup runneth over with blessings. Most notably:

1. My husband. Of course, so much of what I have and look forward to having is because of this man.

2. My wonderfully supportive family. I am absolutely enveloped in love and understanding each time I see them. I am so thankful to have such a great support group behind me.

3. My job. I have struggled- and often still do- with what I want to do with my life. I've always had part time jobs since everything took a back seat to school and while graduating has cut down on some of the stress, I find it strange to adjust to ONE job ALL the time. But having a job that pays well not only sets me up for a career but bolsters my self-worth: I work full-time. I am useful and I am using the knowledge that I struggled through four years of school to get. That makes what I do a million times more fulfilling.

4. Our home! We live in Orange County and I can't tell you how thankful I am that we pay what we do. I've looked around at other apartments, townhouses and condos and we are far and away getting the best bang-for-our-buck. We are in a nice neighborhood within walking distance of school and groceries, we have a small yard and a garage plus our utilities are paid for. 
     You know that saying, "What if you woke up with only the things you thanked God for last night?" I would never lose this house!

5. A few of our "things" (though not for reasons you would think!)
 Our car: this clunker has broken down on us twice, but I am so thankful to have a car to rely on when we need it. We've found other ways to make-up for any mishaps, but having a car has really given us the independence to be able to do the things we want together.
Our Kitchen-aid: This handy machine has not only helped me with cooking, but it's useful as relationship glue too! Cooking is a way of reaching out to people, sharing and enjoying memories with others. Yes, I could do do the same thing without it, but it's certainly a luxury I enjoy.

 Our TV: This might come off as a little indulgent, but as Mr. E is a film student, showing movies in the best quality is really important! When it's basically your job to KNOW why movies look the way they do and each time you sit down is a chance to study lighting, effects, cinematography, etc, it's helpful to have a nice TV. Someday (when we're feeling even more indulgent) we'll work on the sound too...

 Our Ripley: I'm glad we waited to get her, but having a puppy has really kicked our butts in to gear. Sad to say, but we were getting pretty lazy at home looking after only ourselves- having a puppy motivates us to get things done more often. Plus, she's pretty cute, so there's that. ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This is no good. 

No durn good.

Today I am home sick. Today I will rest and nap and cuddle my puppy in huge blankets watching Netflix.

Today I feel conflicted about not going to work- I like work, but I also cannot speak and I had a slight fever last night. So maybe it's for the best.

I came home yesterday sounding like a pubescent boy because my voice cracked so bad. Mr. E plopped me down on the couch with his favorite comforter and made me some Spongebob mac and cheese (blue box, of course). It was full of preservatives and delicious.

I did nothing but sit on the couch all evening- only half watching shows. And to some extent it felt nice to not do anything. But I also get restless easily. 

I wish there was some way to read and watch TV at the same time. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


I think I love all seasons equally.

Spring, when the whole world is waking up. Mornings seem brighter, grass smells new and that insatiable tugging in your chest reminds you that outside is better.

Summer, with its lazy days and warm nights; less clothes, more grilling and time seems to stop in the middle of a glorious afternoon.

Fall, its hints and traces of smoke, of cold and of color. By turns one season and then another, never quite deciding which way to sway until it slowly slips to colder weather.

And winter. Bundling, snuggling, nesting, cozy. Even in southern California you find more reasons to stay inside, enjoying company and food and memories as the world continues on outside.

Sometimes, I jump the gun on seasons. Sometimes, I catch myself remembering a season past or a season to come and I remind myself to try to enjoy the season I'm in before it's gone.

Now that the holidays are coming up I find myself cleaning and organzing with renewed zeal. Spring cleaning doesn't have ANYTHING on fall nesting! All of the projects I should have started months ago are forefront in my mind, constantly reminding me that I have procrastinated too long.

Do I have enough thread?
Will my packages get out on time?
Is the bathroom clean for guests?
Did I remember to write down the paint color I need?

As crazy as it gets, I live for this. I love giving, I love helping and I love keeping my things organized. With all the projects I have going on, it's important to be able to find exactly what I need for when the mood strikes. It's also important to be able to shove it away quickly when we have guests over.

What crazy love/hate relationships do you have with your habits?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mommy Dearest


Otherwise you wear a hand-me-down skirt on your commute to work, only to realize three quarters of the way there that the slit in the back is so. long. that your unmentionables are clearly visible as you pass a storefront window.

So then you're forced to hold your beautiful gifted leather messenger work bag strategically behind your bare self. And fight the bright red blush you can feel crawling all over your body.

Sometimes you're lucky enough to be a crafty mother-duck and have embroidery thread for your cross-stitch in your bag.

And then you lock yourself in the biggest bathroom stall, pop a squat and sew the foot long slit with tiny black stitches.

Sure, you may never be able to face your fellow commuters again, but at least no one at work saw you. Like the little old Asian men who walked behind you up the stairs. Yeah, they definitely didn't see anything.

Dinner Dilemma Solved

I recently created a dry-erase menu frame for our kitchen. Another, project, another frame, another dinner mystery...demystified. I had all of these materials lying around from other projects (YES!), so put-together was relatively easy.
Even keeping us up-to-date on the weekly menu is fun because I get to use markers. What can I say, I'm a kid at heart.

This is much easier for both myself and my husband- we can brainstorm in five minutes what we'd like to eat for the week, touch base with each other's schedules and focus on how best to spend time together.

Typical weeks look something like this:
     Italian (pasta, ravioli, lasagna if I feel ambitious)
     Fish (tuna or tiliapia: I don't do fish)
     Grilled (steaks, chicken, pork: this is Dan's territory)
     Something easy (mac and cheese, taquitos, freezer pizza)
     Mexican (tacos, Hamburger Helper, nachos)
     Burgers (Yes, we eat them almost once a week- they're never the same though!)

A lot of nights we opt to go easy- he's still in school with a weird schedule, work some nights, production meetings for his movie on others...and I get home at dinner time. 

One of my favorite "throw together" meals includes black beans- tilapia and beans, tacos and beans, chicken and beans. I used to drain them, heat them, season and go. Easy protein, right?

I came across this recipe for black beans one night and decided to try it. They reccommend dry beans, but I cut corners. They smelled delicious (Duh! Vinegar!) and when I taste-tested I realized I could almost eat them straight out of the pot.

My hubby, bless his heart, told me this was the first time he actually liked beans. I've been cooking this poor guy beans at LEAST once a week for a year and I never knew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Court Date

Some days you strangle the anxiety and the neophobia and you get stuff done.

Other days odds are against you.

But ultimately it's how you deal with your problems that counts.

A few months ago I got a citation from riding the Metrolink without a ticket. I had one...but I forgot it. I could win awards for forgetting things. Regardless, I was asked by an officer to present it, and as I was unable to, promptly cited. 

That in itself was stressful- I was embarassed for forgetting, I was flustered because I KNEW I had bought a ticket and the officer was incredibly nosy. As I was trying to show him all the other ticket stubs I had, he was trying to peer into my bag, pointing and gesturing that I should show him all these things. 
My wallet. 
My lunch. 
My cross-stitching. 
My feminine products. 
Are you happy, Mr. Officer? 

His little nugget of information bequeathed to me as he left: "Bring your ticket and the citation to the court date and the judge will probably waive it."

Back to today.

I live less than 10 minutes from the courthouse and since my citation said 8am, I figured I would have this all resolved in time for me to get to work just a little bit late, with hopefully no one the wiser.

Oh, what a sweet naive world I live in.

I left at 7:30 and promptly remembered I hate driving new places. I get frustrated and confused and embarassed about my old car. Also, downtown is crazy crowded at 8 in the morning. And every single building looks official enough to be a courthouse. 

So I'm racing past these buildings, hoping that the directions I remembered Googling were right. Hoping that each parking lot I pass isn't the one I should be parking at. 

I find a lot that pays with plastic (I can barely remember the last time I carried cash regularly) and park. Next to a law library? Whatever- I'll find a map and figure it out, right?

Naive. SO. NAIVE.

I find a map, but I have no idea what my orientation is. Regardless, my citation has an address and a room number. Funny thing is, the room number matches a building number on the map that is titled OCTA. Which is what I want, right? I'm running late, but instead of letting that get to me, I give myself props for getting all the way down there on my own and get on with my task.

I walk my poor frozen feet in what I think is the right direction and quickly realize that I'm walking an urban obstacle course with checkpoints at each map.  I cross the street and grit my teeth past the homeless people milling around the map. Yes, they give me the heebie-jeebies; yes, I wish that I had money to give them; yes, I grew up learning to avoid eye contact and keep my valuables close. It's then that I realize that my bright yellow wallet is clutched in my hand in full view of everyone.

Grit your teeth and bear it, girl. Walk with purpose.

I find the next map and realize I've walked the wrong way down the street. About face. 

The building I'm pretty sure is the right one is shaped funny- sort of oblong and round rather than a square. No matter, I can smell victory. I'll just go in, flash a smile, say how truly sorry I am for not having a ticket and be on my merry way with a reduced fine.

However, this building hates me. Its address on the side is the address I want...+20. But I'm in the right area. So I walk around the building, hoping for an entrance, a receptionist and some clearer directions. The door I find is labelled "Health Care". Not quite the "Transportation" I was looking for. I walk in and realize the building directory has NOTHING to do with public transportation.

So I turn around and keep going around the building. There was no receptionist and no one in the lobby, so I figure I'll do better on my own. 

I walk around that building TWICE more before I find the address I want- and the sign saying that the "OCTA" part of the building has been closed since 2008. 

It's about this time (when I can't feel my toes anymore) that I start muttering to myself. This does not help my mood as I'm starting to blend in to my surrounding peers...only I smell much better.

I walk into a building that looks official and ask the officers behind the glass exactly where I'm supposed to go. They tell me that I've mixed up "room" and "building".

Oh. Did I mention I'm a college graduate? I am what discourages earlier generations.

Swallowing tears of frustration, I don my sunglasses once more and head in the general direction they've pointed me to. And then I realize that the walkway they've mentioned is filled to bursting with homeless people. 

It's like in the movies when the hero must literally face her fears by  trudging through them. Chin up, boobs out, I walk through, almost tripping because I can't feel my toes in my heels anymore. Did I mention that I'm now 45 minutes late?

I get in a line to get inside the building I think I'm supposed to enter, only to realize that it's the juror's entrance. And it's that last straw that does it for me. I am so frustrated and confused at this point that I would rather pay the darn ticket. After all, when the Officer wrote my information down, he wrote down almost everything wrong. No driver's license number, my name, address and birthdate were all incorrect...I start wondering if I'll even hear from anybody about this.

So I left. Let's keep things real: I gave up. Maybe not my finest moment, but some days it just doesn't work the way you want it to. Obstacles are placed in your path and you are continually discouraged. But regardless of how my day started, I am determined the rest of this day will work out.

I will be productive, both at work and at home. 
I will not let my bad mood affect those around me, no matter how much I want to.
I will move forward and learn from my mistakes.
I will take care of this another way. Instead of completely ignoring this and hoping it will take care of itself, I am calling the DMV to see if I have any fines or citations on my license. 

So in the end it didn't work out exactly how I imagined, but I compromised with myself, set a goal and powered through the rest of my commute to work. 

County system got you down? Day didn't turn out exactly how you planned but you feel triumphant regardless? Today I need your support.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Self explanation

What in the world am I doing? I can barely keep a diary going for more than 2 weeks, and yet I've fallen (head-first) into an indefinite writing commitment. Silly me.
This is a lifestyle blog. That's what you call it when you write about the car breaking down the same week your husband starts his (mostly driving) new job, the crispy-crunchy-not-so-fluffy marshmallow cookies you found on Pinterest and all the wacky ways you've found to decorate your one bedroom apartment with three bedrooms full of stuff. And also movies and science and self-righteous venting, though maybe less of the latter and more cute puppy pictures. 
I don't fit in a box and neither does my blog.
It's a lot about me making and baking, the way I see it and the way I won't. About Mr. E, his trials in filmmaking, how our love of movies and each other leads to our happy ending. Plus a little about Ripley who's our kid-in-training and named after Sigourney Weaver, believe it or not.
Choose your own sandwich shops give me anxiety and Hershey's chocolate is never the answer. If I'm not curled on the couch binge watching a TV series I missed during he 90s I'm trying to bake the perfect pie crust or yelling at my sewing machine. Usually at the same time.
I'm still searching for what I want to be when I grow up. My life is full of half-finisheds and almost-dones, searching for practically perfect but always lacking somewhere. I find joy in accomplishments and graduating with a microbiology degree was the most fulfilling that i'd ever done until I got married. I'm still not grown up but we're getting there slowly with books on my back, a dog in my arms and my husbands hand in mine. 
Now that you know all about my love of sun-warmed blackberries and my dreams of a yellow kitchen, I want to know what makes you tick!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eat You Up

I feel that very soon I will have a problem.

As my husband is finishing up his last. year. in. school. (gasp!) we are quickly hurtling towards dual-adultship. Moving-out-of-our-awesome-rented-house-adultship.

Big steps here, people.

And how to I deal with stress? I craft! Nevermind that we'll likely move into a smaller home. Don't think about the fact wall and shelf space will be limited. Ignore the fact that none of our gigantic furniture will fit in anything smaller than a two bedroom place.
See this queen bed.

See this huge desk.
See my beautiful couch.
See his gorgeous TV. 
Those are the only things we'll have room for in LA! (I'm exaggerating...I think.)

I'm actually less stressed about the fact that we might move in 8 months...I'm wholly behind "Home is where your husband is". Until I have kids.

Back to the project. I picked up some large frames off the street.

(The STREET, people! For FREE!)

And brought them home to have my way with them.

I was either stumbling or pinning to waste time and I came across this cute idea -I've been turning it over in my head, trying to put my own spin to it. I finally got so fed up with it that I did it...and it turned out a little less than perfect, but it's done and out of my head, off my to-do list and I can fix it if I want.

It seems she painted over the original painting, allowing the colors to come through. I did not like my original colors, but I loved the size and shape of my frames so I made do.

I painted over the original painting (a cowboy, an indecent lady and a schoolteacher from the late 1800s? His gun was disproportionate to his face so he had to go) with the color scheme I'd like in our bedroom: cool grays, teals and blues, with pops of green. While our bedroom only _kind_ of has these colors, someday I'll have the time (+ energy + money) to bring it all together.
I painted the majority of the pattern/colors I wanted in the corner I knew I was going to stick my quote, so it looked a little bare and lopsided. 
I'll eat you up, I love you so. -- Maurice Sendak
Runner-up quotes:
1. Let's be poor together-- Johnny Lloyd Rollins
2. This too shall pass.
3. Do more of what makes you happy.
4. Yours is the light by which my spirit's born: -you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.-- EE Cummings
5. Just know you're not alone, cuz I'm gonna make this place your home.-- Phillip Phillips

I stuck, held my breath and painted over it all. 
Those bubbly parts didn't stay.
I waited, held my breath and peeled off my stickers.
There was a lot of hyperventilation in this house.

Some of the paint came off with the stickers, but it's small and I can easily paint back in with my fine motor skills. I'm a little more concerned about the swirl of gray paint that I wasn't able to smooth out...Maybe next time I'll dip my paintbrush first, then go at it instead of pouring the paint onto the picture itself. Lesson learned.

A new picture means re-arranging the art in our bedroom! Won't my husband be soooo happy to re-hang all of our pictures? I can just imagine. :D