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

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

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

The first girl he asked?

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

And then he called on me.

“Fear,” I answered without hesitation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies.

I love writing movies.

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

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

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

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

rocky and drago

I’m off to write a movie, people.

#love

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

)

It’s All Love (Or Every Day Should be Valentine’s Day)

I know you’re thinking Valentine’s Day is so two weeks ago… but guys? It’s not. I’m all about love right now, and it started with this cake. 

Ombre frosting and gilded dino Valentine's Day Cake from Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is how dinosaurs show love. (They told me.)

I think Valentine’s Day gets a bad wrap, but it’s probably because we let the whole thing get so out of control with candy and cards that we forget it’s actually about LOVE. When we shift the focus from love to the trappings of love, we make it a day filled with pressure and expectations for couples that also magnetizes the loneliness of the single people.

This year I wanted  everyone to feel included regardless of their relationship status, so I decided to make a Valentine’s Day cake for my coworkers. I wanted everyone to feel love — especially the people who were really feeling down about being single.

I believe there is more to love than sex, romance, and wedding bells. The Greeks had four words for it, and only one referred to the romantic kind. They recognized love comes in many forms, and I wanted to celebrate that.

Because I have a totally wacked sensibility, I thought the best way to celebrate my all-encompassing version of love was with a little ambiguous humor… hence the gilded fighting dinos. They’re so me. I mean, I love gold paint. Plus I can’t take ANYTHING too seriously. (Even cake.)

I used the Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe for the cake. Then I slathered homemade whipping cream and fresh strawberries between the layers.

Strawberry layer cake on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is what strawberries look like on a cake. In case you didn’t know.

Then I did some ombre magic with the frosting.

Ombre frosting on Dogs Dishes and Decor

The magic involved my freezer… for a few minutes on each layer.

Then I threw it all together and topped it off with toys I covered in gold paint. The dinos are such a secret metaphor with so many layers of meaning for me that I smile when I look at them, but you can interpret them anyway you wish. They can serve your story too, and that’s maybe why I like them so much. They’re not just my story; they can be yours too.

Valentine's Day Cake By Dogs Dishes and Decor

Making all this stuff? Made ME happy too.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I made this card with my Martha paints.

Valentine's Day Card on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Cake? Is for everyone. Have some.

And now I leave you with this. It’s the Supremes. They started the love train.

It’s time to get on board.

Pinterest Made Me Do It (Or I Covered Everything in Sprinkles and Glitter)

I threw a baby shower today and I feel like I should probably tell you about it. Well, actually I didn’t throw it so much as I showed up with bags of baked goods and a whole lotta glitter… but that kinda counts, right?

I think it does, so just go with me here.

I may be a total tomboy obsessed with sports, insects, and stirring my compost, but I can’t ignore my inner sorority girl. She secretly rejoices every time someone asks her to tie a ribbon on something.

And baby showers?

Are like the perfect excuse to go all girly. And that makes me happy… because I spend most of my waking hours working with a preponderance of men.

See, I sort of miss the days of staying up until 3 am decorating staircases for rush parties. Steve Jobs once said you can only connect the dots looking back and when I do… I realize I was always tying a ribbon on something. From hours spent locked in my room elaborately wrapping Christmas presents as a kid to serving on the Homecoming float committee like every year in high school, I have always been obsessed with making things pretty. I just didn’t really realize it.

So if I’m being honest with myself, I can’t even blame Pinterest for my recent gold-painted escapades, but I’m gonna try. 

Here’s how it all went down.

Black White and Gold Baby Shower on Dogs Dishes and Decor #baby #blackandgold #star

Pinterest made me do this.

Baby Shower Cake on Dogs Dishes and Decor #babyshower #sprinkles #cake

And this.

Baby Shower Treat on Dogs Dishes and Decor #star #chocolatedipped #ricekrispietreat #baby

I can’t blame Pinterest for this, though. I came up with this idea when my mind was wondering at work. #yesiwasdrinkingandbaking

Baby Shower Favors on Dogs Dishes and Decor #startheme #babyshower

We had 40 guests at the shower, so this was just the tip of the titanic treat iceberg.

Oh, and remember how I had a meltdown before my Peter Pan Party because I didn’t have anyone to do my floral arrangements? Well, I’m getting over my fear of arranging flowers….

I’m not saying it’s my life’s calling or anything, but I’m getting more comfortable.

Black and White Baby Shower Flowers on Dogs Dishes and Decor #babyshower #blackandwhite

I’m making up with flowers one party at a time.

And because that wasn’t enough bows, I went and put one on the baby gift too.

Baby Shower Gift on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I’m broken for bows.

So, anyway, all of that happened. And then I went to GJelina in Venice for dinner with my long lost Melissa who was visiting from New York and absolutely stuffed my face with burrata, Brussels sprouts, and butterscotch pots de creme.

And later this week? I’m gearing up for a Valentine’s day project that just might involve a dinosaur.

More on that later.

Now it’s time for me to lie on the floor listening to the Kaskade remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” and pretend I’m tired.

Here it is, just in case you’re like me and your idea of a lullaby involves a techno remix.

Just Sprinkle Some Truffle Salt On It (Or My Midnight Snack Supper Situation)

So remember when I used to write posts about meals that looked like this?

Easter Dinner on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Color coordinated ombre Easter fanciness for days.

Well, lately my dinners are looking more like this:

Overcooked burger with Brussels sprouts

#sosad

I did sprinkle the burger and Brussels sprouts with truffle salt in an attempt to salvage the situation, but it was ultimately about as grim as it looks. (Even truffle salt can’t fix ugly.)

Also?

That wasn’t nearly enough food to satisfy me, so I hit the bag of sea salt potato chips like a boss mere seconds after snapping that horrendous photo.

If you’re wondering why a former food blogger is making meals that aren’t even fit for a savage, it’s because this food blogger ate dinner at 11freakingpm tonight. That’s my life at the moment, guys. Gourmet goes out the window when you’re working so much that supper is more like a midnight snack.

It’s not all sad veggies and overcooked grass fed ground beef around here, though. I did try out a new cake recipe last weekend for a Super Bowl party.

See?

Triple berry vanilla bean cake with rose water buttercream frosting on Dogs Dishes and Decor #tripleberry #buttercream #babyshower

SO many layers.

Does that count for something?

I’m making some tweaks for the upcoming baby shower, so I’m not quite ready to post the recipe. I’ll hook you up when it’s more… me. This cake involved rose water buttercream frosting, and I found it cloyingly sweet, so I’m going in the whipped cream/cream cheese frosting direction for the shower….

More on that later.

Now, I leave you with my latest musical OBSESSION. It’s an epic mashup of Bon Iver’s “Wolves” with Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper.” WHOCOMESUPWITHTHIS?!? #idie

I know what Bo don’t know…

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?

2013 and I Are Almost Through (Or Life is an Amazing Accident)

Don’t hate me for saying this, but it’s almost 85 in LA today. It’s just a little gift from God to make up for the gridlock, the hoards of hipsters littering Hollywood, and the astronomical rent we pay to sip in all kinds of smog every day.

So, anyway, I’m blogging from Peet’s Coffee Shop this afternoon like some sort of college student, and it makes me feel more alive than I’ve felt in months. I miss periodically staring out a window, surrounded by a never-ending bustle of strangers coming and going while I write. It’s sort of an accident I’m here, really, but it’s a happy accident. I was rushing out the door for yoga earlier and I accidentally went to the wrong studio. I didn’t have time to drive to the right studio before class started so I’m in the valley with my computer killing time until the next class. Today is about lovely accidents, but isn’t life?

I mean, I  just had a brief and amusing conversation about Latin with the stranger who rescued the contents of my purse from under his chair. I felt the need to explain why baby wipes, coconut chips, and fingernail clippers had ended up under his feet by quoting the Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus.” It means “always prepared,” and wouldn’t you know? He knew Latin too. Four years of declining nouns and conjugating verbs reached its maximum utility in a coffee shop in LA, folks. (Actually, it really may have had its greatest moment when I impressed a pack of drunk frat boys by translating the motto carved into the Psi Upsilon fireplace when I was 19, but whatever. Either way, Latin crops up in lovely and strange moments for me.) We ended up smiling before he went back to his book, and I went back to writing this post.

This is all terribly random, but I’m wrapping up quite a year of unexpected stuff, so the lack of focus in this post seems appropriate somehow. This year was truly an epic curveball  in so many ways, and I’m OK with it. (I kinda have to be since I can’t really change any of it anyway.)

This year my mentor died suddenly as did my stepbrother, and I fell in love for the first time in like forever, so 2013 certainly was one for the books. I went a little Paleo, a little crazy, and I gained about 7 pounds partying like a college kid last spring. I finally lost the weight, shed the regret, and along the way I learned it’s OK to cry in someone else’s arms. I got baptized in the wrong baptism pool by a boy who was so rattled he could hardly dunk me. I danced on the patio of The Bungalow on Easter with one of my best friends even though there’s no dance floor there, and I held some of the most amazing people I know while they cried in my arms. All in all, 2013 was just a whole lotta holy s#*!, but I’m still standing, so there’s that.

I’m wrapping up 2013 by consulting with an Ayurvedic doctor, and her analysis of my constitution has yielded tremendous insight into my ailments — both mental and physical. I will write more about it later, but essentially I learned I’m the rarest constitution on earth because I’m equally influenced by all of the natural forces that manifest physically. I’m something called tri-doshic, and my type only makes up 3% of the population. Tri-doshic individuals are more affected by the seasons and the people around them than any of the other types. We’re almost like human lightening rods for others’ emotions, and it may explain why friends, strangers, and family members have been telling me their deepest, darkest and most painful secrets most of my life. I guess it’s because  I seem like I can relate? Or something?

Whether you buy into this sort of thing or not, I will say this: discovering my type put into words what I’ve always known somewhere in my soul… I’m wired in a super weird way and that’s OK. (Aren’t we all, though?)

It might explain why I’ve always felt like there were two different people fighting for airtime inside the same body or it could just be the story I needed to accept who I am. I’m equal parts Meghan and Anika, and that’s just the way it is. I’m as comfortable on a horse wearing a cowboy hat and singing Luke Bryan at the top of my lungs as I am in pearls hosting a charity event. I’m just as likely to be screaming at football players on TV as I am peacefully doing a down dog in a yoga studio. I’ve never been able to comfortably fit into any mold. I was one of the few sorority girls in film school (there were seriously like six of us — I’m not kidding), and I have always been friends with a diverse array of individuals who have almost zero overlap between one another.

I’ll never make anyone listen to Hank Williams Jr. followed by Busta Rhymes if they don’t want to. I’ll probably always wander off and do my own thing for a while because I can’t be confined in any way, but I’ll always come back home. It’s the way I’m made. Some of my makeup is my Bumpa’s wandering, dancing, making-friends-with-strangers blood in my veins. Some of it is my disciplined, buttoned up, deer-hunting, perfectionist father’s genes. Some of it is my mother’s louder, more extroverted (but also perfectionist), quick-witted, sharp-tongued DNA. It’s also as much my Aunts’ sweetness and softness as it is my Uncle’s outrageousness and artist’s soul. It’s all of it. I’ll write more about the new age-y Ayurveda stuff later. I really need to turn off the Jo Dee Messina blaring in my headphones and head off to yoga.

For now, I will leave you with this. It’s a beautiful song I discovered in yoga this week. May it inspire you to do something bold in 2014. I know I said I was going to keep these philosophical posts on the other blog, but I really was trying to talk about food when I sat down to write. This just came out instead. #oops #happyaccident

Happy New Year, ya’ll!