Monday, March 26, 2012

Stoking the Fire

Being an East Coast transplant to the West Coast has made me notice all sorts of things about this weird and wonderful place. For example, why do so many guys wear slouchy beanie snow hats when it's 70 degrees daily? Why do all food trucks have to be named after a pun? How do all these out-of-work actors and writers afford to drive BMWs and Mercedes? Why do so many women have 6-pack abs? Why is it so difficult to find mid-range delicious Italian food? Why are there no Dunkin' Donuts in all of LA County, yet they run commercials just to tease us? Who invented the art of the strip mall? What sorts of diseases is one at risk of picking up by squeezing through the crowd of Spiderman imposters on Hollywood Blvd? And most importantly, why is everyone out here so into fire?

Brrr, it's so cold outside I have to wear a beanie while I eat my 0 calorie fro yo.

Most of those quandaries don't make any sense to me, but the last one I fully understand. I'm talking bonfires on the beach, fire pits in the backyard, fire heaters at restaurants. Now that it's actually bearable to be outdoors in the winter, it's nice to warm up your paws around a crackling, glowing flame in the wild outdoors.

The first beach bonfire I went to here was a party I was invited to by my friend Chachi on the Fourth of July. I found my way to Dockweiller Beach and joined what looked like a Levi's commercial gaggle of young 20-somethings, all beautiful and wild-haired and free and probably saying deep, teenagery things like "Lying is a universal truth, man!", dancing and partying around a HUGE bonfire. And when I say huge, I mean HUGE. There were at least 40 people dancing around and throwing random objects into said fire, and someone had set up a huge tent with douchey speakers that were blaring horrible dance music. And then someone threw an entire COUCH into the fire, and the police showed up, and that was that.

Since then I've graduated onto smaller, tamer fires, and now that we have an outdoor garden I've been obsessed with the idea of having a fire pit or fire bowl to sit around and light up our evening festivities. We don't have too much space so it would be impossible (and dangerous) to make a giant one, but I saw a cool fire bowl at my friend's recent housewarming that I want to steal.

I found this similar cool Smith & Hawken copper fire bowl available at Target, my favorite cheapo source, for only $120.
Man like fire. Fire make heat. 
Simplicity reigns in this one from style sale site, You just pile the wood on top and voila, fire.
Here's another gorgeous one that looks like an 18th Century UFO from

So which fire pit will I end up with? Only time (and money) will tell.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Garden of Delights (Part II)

We're having friends over this Saturday for a housewarming/informal engagement/birthday party for Alex of sorts, so I decided to get moving on the garden so that people can sip their cocktails under the afternoon sun amidst ivy-covered walls, followed by a brisk game of doubles tennis on our clay courts and then a dip in our pool and a teatime snack of some cucumber sandwiches...

Fine. So Great Gatsby this is not, but I can at least make the garden as gardeny as possible, no? My dream of Francis Hodgson Burnett's gorgeous secret garden, covered with hanging wisteria and pomegranates and birds, will have to wait, but in the meantime, we got good ol' Target.

It's amazing what you can do with just a few bucks at this wonder store.  I swung by their garden section yesterday and picked up some new cushions ($9.99 each) for the wicker chairs that we inherited from our previous tenant. I don't love these chairs--they're very middle-aged-cat-lady--but until I have money to buy new outdoor furniture, I figured I could, in the meantime, spice up the space with a few modern red touches. Here are a few pics of the garden from before.

This is my garden's "hobo alley." Hoping we can eventually put a BBQ grill or some fruit trees here, if we get enough sun. I'll also have to toss out our resident hobo.*

*There is no resident hobo. But if there were, I'd gladly share our baked beans with him.

The road to perdition. Or amazing barbeque chicken legs.
Welcome to Drearytown.
The cushions on these chairs were all gross and soaked with seasons for rain and encrusted with old berries and leaves. Here are the new cushions:

I then took a trip to my favorite place Anawalt and made friends with a friendly gardener named Carlos, who advised me about what types of flowers to plant for our part sun/part shade space. Our conversation in "Spanish" was a comedy of errors.

I settled on begonias... well as an Easter Mix, some poppies, and a few other cute shade plants. I repotted them and put them in the one corner of the garden that gets decent sun in the afternoon.

Getting my hands in that soil made me feel like a proper Martha Stewart. One with the earth. A descendent of Goddess--ok, nevermind. It just felt dirty and fun, kind of like making mud pies. It's cool to see the roots of plants and get all up in their business.

oooh, i'mma pot the shit outta you.

I decided to plant some of the extra stuff in the ground. The soil is pretty dense and clay-ish, so I added some potting mix.

little secrets.
The thyme from the kitchen windowsill got his own home... did the rosemary. Hope this one lives. 

Get ready, potatoes!
I found myself being watched as I was busily gardening...

If you see something, say something.
And decided to let the fauna meet the flora...
Miniature lions in their natural jungle habitat.

Also added a little lantern. I'd love to hang a string of market lights, but I can't seem to find a working outlet. In the meantime, I'm looking at solar-powered lights. Anyone have any experience with them?
And coming eventually: A bird bath, a humming bird feeding house, a fire pit, and some hanging glass balls or some shit. 

I can't take credit for this awesome flowering cactus thingy. But it's my favorite part about this garden, especially the luscious view it gives us from the bedroom.

I'm determined to transform this into my morning yoga haven. Ohmmmmmm~

Oh, if my New York friends could see me now...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hanging Wall Art (Part II)

Ever since I took out my hammer, I've been on an art-hanging bender, finally putting up all those pieces of art we've had laying around. It can sometimes take me up to two years to get around to hanging things on the wall, so I consider this pretty good progress considering that we're only in month #2 of living here in our cozy little duplex in the Hancock Park neck of Hollywood.

After last week's little project putting up my grid of Cassia Beck photo prints, I decided to get working again on the office and hung up an awesome print that was a gift from a good friend who is equal parts Star Wars and Aliens enthusiast as my beau. I constructed a tableau with prints from John Derrian that I framed in some inexpensive Ikea wood, and put it right by my desk to inspire me when I'm wondering what to blog about.

It's Winnie the Pooh as Star Wars! Bear = Chewbaca! What?

I'm loving these prints of children's books illustrations of nerdfest movies that are popping up here and there. Recently A. won a print of Pixar animator/awesome illustrator Josh Cooley's depiction of the most memorable scene in the classic movie Alien (and the one that scarred me for life as a child) from Skylight Books in Los Feliz. It's now hanging in our living room among otherwise serene and femme-y decor. I find the dichotomy between the two hilarious.

Game over, man! Game over!

Next, I finally hung up this awesome framed print that we bought from my friend Eric Nakamura at his always-entertaining store, Giant Robot. We were passing by after eating a delish meal of hand-pulled Tsukeme noodles at Tsujita on Sawtelle Blvd, and I popped my head in the store and happened to see my man! Walked in to say hello and walked out with this rad limited edition print from husband and wife artists Kozyndan.


Are those pink monkeys made of cherry blossoms attacking innocent Japanese bystanders? Why, yes. I saw this at GR's last art show and loved it. Since the shape was very long, this goes in our hallway.

Last, but certainly not least, is this print that I picked up from an antique/resale shop on Fairfax. I saw this among a pile of old prints and had to have it. It was only $3!


I have no idea when/where it's from, but it's apparently from an era when people drew portraits of their pets and put their names in quotes. This is "Byron." That is a front view of "Byron's" head.

Yay, art!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Math Class Finally Came in Handy

Two years ago I bought these tiny 4x4 prints from British photographer Cassia Beck. Something about her work really reminds me of my early childhood in Denville, New Jersey. Maybe it's the vintagey feel, and maybe it's the perspective -- so much of it is "from the bottom looking up" that it reminds me of being a kid and having everything tower over me. But I mainly think it's the colors and the subjects. Everything she shoots looks foggily like something I've seen before in my life.

I chose 9 of her prints, which was like choosing goodies from a candy shop! They then sat around in my desk for the past 2 years because apparently no manufacturer has ever had the brilliant idea to MAKE 4 x 4 size frames, dammit. Finally, after fruitless searches at Ikea, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and the rest, I gave up and brought them to a frame shop in LA.

I decided to group them together to create one larger "piece" that reflects images that resonate very strongly with me. This one's my favorite. It reminds me of the forsythia that grew on the border of our yard in my childhood home.


I lived on Magnolia Avenue, so we naturally had magnolia trees in our front yard and all the way down the street. This perspective is something I saw a lot.

This too. This reminds me of noticing telephone wires on my street for the first time in my life, and learning all about cardinals and bluejays by watching those little perchers waiting for my brother to come home from school.
chirp chirp chirp

Ok, this one I just like. It's a tea cup. I likes me some tea. This makes me think of sitting in a deserted coffee shop at night.
i'm so lonely

This one too. It makes me feel like I should be typing this on a cute vintage typewriter instead of this worn out Mac Book Pro. Beep boop boop beep technology.

clickety clack clack clack

This one makes me think of the lake at the park we used to go to for family picnics. The frozen one that my childhood dog Ginger ran onto during the winter to chase after ducks and then crashed through the ice into freezing cold water. Don't cry for her, she's already dead.

We had tulips planted in a bed in a row along the front of our house, so they were probably the first flower I remember becoming super acquainted with.

This one reminds me of my brother's toy box when we were little. Man, how we smashed the crap outta those cars! They've recently been recycled and passed onto my brother's son/ my nephew, along with a battered Voltron and a green He-Man Battlecat/Cringer figurine, which stayed surprisingly newish over the past 25 years. A family heirloom, I suppose.


Here's a pic of the actual childhood. My 2 favorite things about this: 1) I'm holding the construction hat dog upside down, and 2) my brother is holding a very real looking weapon.

I carefully measured the space between two of our windows in the living room so that I could create a uber-symmetrical canvas. Lessee,  58" divided by 2, divided by another 2, minus 2 inches for the frame....gee, math is haaaaaaard.

excuse me, ma'am. no photos please.

Here's the final product! If I were to do it again,  I woulda shelled out the extra $100 for the matte, to make them bigger. Oh well. It's like having a mini photo gallery in our living room. Don't worry, I fixed the crooked upper right frame after the photo, ALRIGHT?

The blue phone hidden in the left corner is a prop from my short film, Mouthbreather.

On a side note, the apple blossoms I picked up from Rolling Greens the other day are opening quite nicely.

I like to live on the edge.

And my new rug for the office finally came in. I love chevron! And so does this guy.

What a cat-astrophe!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Garden of Delights

For the first time in my life, I have a garden!  When we signed the lease on this place, my mind instantly flooded with thoughts of lady tea parties, wine nights, quiet morning meditations, outdoor yoga bliss and bountiful fruit trees (gawd, think of the lemons and figs I could grow!).

In reality, the garden's just been sitting there, overgrown, waiting for me to make an imprint on it. My goal is to get it in shape by the spring (it comes third on the priority list, after fixing up the office and getting our curtain hooks installed). In the meantime, I've drawn some inspiration from my favorite garden store here in LA, Rolling Greens. Not only do they have really awesome, modestly-priced plants, their aesthetic is right up my alley.

After an audition today for an unnamed Schwarzenegger sci fi blockbuster remake and another for one of my favorite retail stores, I found myself nearby on Beverly Blvd, so I stopped by just to browse for a while.

They also have all sorts of design books, food books, frou frou bath stuff, and things that make you wish you lived in a French country dream home.

I love these colorful hand dipped candles they sell:

double rainbow...what does it mean?

As well as awesome John Derrian knick knacks that are always too expensive for me:
Oh, John. Get cheaper and I'll buy you.

I brought home a big bushel of rosemary, which apparently doubles for catnip:

dude, i'm so hiiiigh

As well as some nice big branches of apple blossoms. The glass cylinder vase I found on a street a few years ago, and the mid-century regency chair I got on Craigslist when I first moved to LA. It originally came with an ugly red velvet, so I reupholstered it with some more modern fabric, and made a pillow out of the extra material. The floor lamp and the West Elm white vase I got for free from a good friend who worked in the art department on The Apprentice. So, yes. Both used to be in The Donald's office.

Ahhhhh...Rolling Greens. If only my garden looked like you. A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Office Makeover: First Steps

Blogging about the office has lit a fire under my arse, so yesterday I set to getting started on transforming our office space.

First step: more storage. My easy fix? Ikea's iconic favorite, the Billy bookcase. I don't mind a little Ikea in my life when it comes to something functional and simple, like a bookcase. Until I have the money to have custom shelving built into our library walls, good ol' Billy will have to do. I generally like Expedit's modern see-through shelving better, but since the beau already had a Billy, we decided to buy a second one to hold all my books (On my cross-country move from NYC, I brought only the boring/functional* ones with me; it pains me to think of my well-loved copies of poetry books sitting in a box in my parents' New Jersey basement, collecting dust and cricket corpses).

*"Functional" meaning books Michael Shurtleff's "Audition," Scott Sedita's "Making it in Hollywood," Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat," and "21 Day Hikes Around Los Angeles"; should anyone ever judge me by my bookshelf here, I'm afraid I've become an LA douchebag.

Hello, my name is Billy.

Sadly, Ikea has reportedly changed the shape of the classic Billy bookcase to fit e-readers and that kind of crap. I love the feel of pages in my hands, and I'm not switching over to Kindles or e-readers anytime soon; they'll have to pry the book out of my dead, cold hands. Or at least until somebody buys me a kindle.

Second step: Better chair. I spend a lot of time at my desk and I have horrible desk posture. It's amazing that my spine hasn't curved into a hunchback already from hours of staring at my computer. I scoured Craigslist and found this Zuo Modern high-backed director's chair, originally priced at $599, for $200. It reminded me a little bit of some mod 1960s ad agency a la Mad Men (more Bert Cooper than Donald Draper), so I decided to go for it. Bargained it down to $150, zoomed right over to Playa del Rey after a pilot audition* in Manhattan Beach to pick it up, and prayed I wouldn't be hog-tied and murdered by the seller, who turned out to be a perfectly nice guy from Ohio. Brought my new bounty home:

*Had to dress as a stripper/prostitute for the pilot audition; swapped out the pink velour Juicy Couture for my regular army jacket to minimize likelihood of aforementioned hog-tying and murdering.

Behold! Our Overlord has arrived!

And last of all, a new aqua chevron rug:

How will it come together? The suspense is killing me!

On a side note, I also picked up these amazing/gaudy/awesome shoes yesterday as part of my audition costume:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Next Up: The Office

Now that the dresser is finished, I'm facing my next big challenge: a shared office space. For two writers who work a lot at home, this is the big kahuna. We both spend an inordinate amount of time at our desks, writing, editing, storyboarding, and twittering, so we need this space to be as conducive to creativity and productivity as possible (as well as double as a guest room for my impoverished visiting poet friends). As much as I don't wanna mess with my beau's creativity by hanging up floofy actors' vision boards ("Universe, I will book a pilot!"), I also can't work well in a dark and cavernous library overflowing with books.

Here's my challenge:

Dun dun dunnnnn!

Tight space, too much stuff, non-matching furniture, mismatched styles, and no light. I already chose some dark grey-taupe paint that I love, but it just ain't working with the giant 80s desk and office chair I inherited from the previous tenant, the overflow of books that we have, and the Persian rug that makes me feel like I'm trapped in a professor's office. I want to make this as modern, light, and airy as possible, without emasculating my dude and his man-(half)cave or messing up his flow. Anyone got any ideas?