Archive | August, 2012

We Got Crabs.

28 Aug

You know you’re in Baltimore when you have crabs and you’re excited about it.

And you eat them at every meal and you don’t go broke. In LA this week, I just delivered King crab legs (just the LEGS!) to someone for $40. In Baltimore, “market price” doesn’t involve crabs in planes.Ervin and I cracked some crabs, drank a few local beers – National Bohemian – which I originally thought was part of the Pringles dynasty (someone used the same design firm), and celebrated my nephew Hudson’s almost-1 year old bday last week!

Our first (crab) leg of the trip was spent at my sister’s house. This is the Baltimore Penitentiary. It is not where she lives.I dunno. I think the second window from the right looks nice (cocking gun).

We drove through neighborhoods that look like “The Wire” (where my sister told me “Seriously, people live in there. We’re not stopping. Don’t take pictures.”), and arrived at the National Aquarium, where I have visited many times, but which still amazes me. Stingrays are incredible. So are sharks when I’m not in the water with them.An octopus leg (hot pink! My kinda…fish? I wasn’t paying attention.)My parents at Inner Harbor. It was their 39th anniversary a few days before. They remind me that people can still have a happy marriage and actually want to be together.THIS is current Hudson.He showed me a few of his new tricks, like “using anyone’s leg to climb up and stand” and “throw the ball” and “definitely-not-child-genius ability at not putting blocks in block-shaped holes.”He’s also great at pulling things out of cupboards and looking adorable. I finally got to squeeze him. Which I had been looking forward to doing.My sister went all out for his birthday party. When I said “Well, I mean, how many 1 year old bdays will he have?” Les answered “Two.” She’s throwing a friends-style party for him closer to his birthday in September.

This was my assignment: Make crab dip.If someone named “Crab Dip” gave you the recipe, how could you go wrong! You’ll be in warm, cheesy, Old Bay spiced Heaven in 30 minutes. Serve with baguette. And eat with friends, especially if you doubled it, like we did. Ba-da-bing.

For a no-fail crab themed baby bday: Crab shaped sugar cookies, yummy local cupcakes with crab markers, crab wine!, personalized crab mallets AND, DIY crab poop. — We stole this idea from the souvenir stores in Inner Harbor. It took two people to make the sign. Me and my Mom.  Just use cinnamon candy and chocolate covered anything. Real crab poo looks like grayish mustard. Trust me, I wanted to serve that as an option…Then, the moment we had been waiting for. Cake + Baby = Awesome. We sang him Happy Birthday as he evaluated this alien form before him. My Mom played the same piano we had growing up, now in my sister’s house. My sister took a cue from a friend and didn’t light the candle. I continued to admire her skills as BabyMama.FINALLY he dug in. We surrounded him like paparazzi, waiting for the money shot. He daintily took a finger sized scoop of icing and put it right in his mouth.NO! HUDSON! Don’t hold out on me. I want the cake on face! A diaper full of icing (Gross. That’s later)! He went in for another delicate finger taste.Finally, some frosting on the nose, thanks to Dad. Adorable. We celebrated his first ever sugar overdose with total joy.

I was glad to see him using the birthday present we got him. A car. He’s just checking the engine:My Aunt Lin lovingly destroyed us all by wrapping up Pop-Pop’s old train set that he used to put around the Christmas tree every year, and giving it to Hudson.Had Les and I seen the picture of the layout of the tracks, as kids, we might not have had such a hard time putting it together. I remember having lots of “end of tracks” situations, the way we did it. Many wooden people died just trying to get to the next town.

After the party, we drove with Mom and Dad to Lancaster CITY where they now live. Close to The Belvedere and The Lancaster Arts Hotel. Finally, things to do! So, we drove straight out of town and into the Amish burbs. And backwards Rumspringa’d ourselves. We ate shoofly pie, breathed in fresh manure, and made plans to supe up a Buggy. But, it was only a few hours before we were ready to return to electric living.And then, as I should have known, it was all over. Time to head back to LA and get back on the hamster wheel.  It’s not so bad. Someday maybe I’ll get one of those awesome tunnels so I can go all over the place.




Alzheimer’s Is For Lovers.

24 Aug

I returned this week from a SUPER quick trip to Baltimore and Lancaster, PA to visit my family. My boyfriend Ervin went with me and met them as well. He is a fan! (He has to be, otherwise, he’s fired.) I have enough photos to bore a small army. Most of them are of a certain baby nephew, National Bohemian beer cans and Amish things.

We crammed a ton of activities into a tiny stretch of time (as per usual, when I visit), so while I was glad to see my family, it never feels like long enough. We visited Amish Country, The National Aquarium in Baltimore, went to church and had a 1 year old’s birthday party. A lot.

While in Lancaster, Ervin (the brave) went with me and my parents to visit my Grandma “MaMa” in the old folks’ home. Specifically, the Alzheimer’s wing of The Mennonite Home. It’s near the Park City Mall in Lancaster. Where I worked one summer at The Wall CD store (back when we had CDs), and also hostessed at The Olive Garden, where I learned how to tie a tie and then forgot completely for the rest of my life.

MaMa goes with PopPop who died in April. My Dad’s parents. She has Alzheimer’s and has to live on a locked floor of the building. I had visited her there one time before, the weekend of my PopPop’s service, but I was apprehensive about going back. Mainly because there’s a lady who yells her home state to you at random “I’M FROM TEXAS”, a lot of kind of burble-gurgle coming from the clients in wheelchairs… it doesn’t seem like a fun place to be. So I feel bad seeing MaMa in there. She is the very definition of “social butterfly”. I’ve always known her to be upbeat, cheerful, energized, whip-smart and on top of all the gossip. Last time I saw her, I wasn’t sure she knew who I was.

So, selfishly, I didn’t want to face the fact that she might really not know me anymore. And she sure as hell wouldn’t know Ervin. I could feel my anxiety building in the elevator.

We walked through the door to the TV area of her floor. She was sitting with I’M FROM TEXAS, watching Shirley Temple on TV. MaMa popped up immediately and exclaimed “There they are!” with a big smile. That’s the MaMa I know!

I gave her a hug and she said my name. We introduced Ervin and she seemed happy to see him. All of us.

We stole her from her floor, in a wheelchair, to go sit on the front porch and chat, while surrounded by some nature and fresh air. She’s a gabby gal and I was grateful for that. I’d rather have her run the show. I can recognize all the same tones in her voice – her humor, her questions, her laughter. Except the words are different. So, you kind of guess at what she means, and ride the wave! Ervin was really good at it. Whatever she said, he agreed, or kind of made up more of the story.

When we asked her what place she’d want to travel to (she and my PopPop have been all over the world), she said “Lauren”. Point for MaMa!

There’s a sadness to this scene, for all of us — maybe especially my Dad — it leaves you longing for the time before this one. But it also leads to something that can only be described as the world’s worst church giggles.

My Mom was the first to go down. My Dad, trying to keep the conversation on track, asked my MaMa how she was doing, for the 2nd time, because she had yet to really answer. MaMa replied “Well, you asked me that already!” My Mom, trying to encourage MaMa, said “That’s right! You asked him how he’s doing already”. See the mistake? In trying to correct the situation with MaMa, my Mom kept messing up the sentence, which confused MaMa more, so much so that my Mom started laughing and said “This is like Who’s On First” to which my MaMa replied “Who’s on the ferry?” My Mom looked into her own lap, her face red, shaking with silent laughter.

She looked up at me and mouthed “Don’t look at me”. We’re all trying to keep MaMa feeling good. The worst would be to laugh at the things she doesn’t realize she’s saying.

So, that’s exactly what we did.

My Dad started losing it and when I see my parents laughing so hard that they are shaking and cannot get a word out? I lose it like that too. For about 3 minutes, we were like 5 Alzheimer’s patients, just livin life, laughing at nothing! I’M FROM PENNSYLVANIA!

Finally, we had to go. It’s only bearable because it seems like MaMa might not feel the expanse of time like we do, anymore. We hugged our goodbyes and she held Ervin’s arm to look at his tattoos. Then I told her I loved her. Promised I’d see her in a couple months. She said “I love you too. I’ll love you for the rest of my life.”



ParaNorman Is Coming!

15 Aug

You guys! Remember when I hung out with those famous people (Oh hey, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jeff Garlin, Leslie Mann…) last year, as a reader for the LA voice record sessions for feature film ParaNorman?? It’s finally here! In theaters this Friday!

I got to play the ditzy older sister Courtney in the original table read/record of the movie:

(I might even end up in .03 seconds of DVD extras! Look out Hollywoooood!) Anna plays Courtney in the final cut. Therefore, I am related to Anna Kendrick. We’re like twins. Like unconjoined twins. Except one of us is really rich. So I guess I’m the fun one with the great personality!

Get your tickets and slap those 3D glasses on your eye holes! See you at the movies!



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Pool Party Pariah.

14 Aug

I went to my first LA pool party BBQ this summer. The invite went like “Come over Sunday afternoon! A few friends, grillin’ burgers, bring a side!”

I’ve been to a pool before! I like friends! I can kinda dive! So, Ervin and I made a really badass mac-n-cheese (Gluten-free/vegan/dairy-free/fat-free—FREE. It was 100% business, with BBQ Kettle chips crumbled on top), slipped on some flip flops and headed over to West Hollywood for a pool party at a friend’s apartment.

I didn’t even have a bathing suit, but I was in shorts. Which saved me from lighting aflame once I was in the sun for a few seconds. We were greeted by Ervin’s swimsuit-clad friends, a sweet, fun couple who hugged us and ushered us to the rooftop poolside BBQ area. There were tattooed, tan, beautiful bodies everywhere, a dueling grill station, Top40 tunes coming from somewhere in the walls, a bar, a few lounge areas, palm trees, and an outdoor screening room. Tis LA, afterall.

We met the party friends. Girls in teeny bikinis and sunglasses, Dodgers hats, iPhones on their person like sparkly leeches, boobs that went on for hilly miles. Looking back, I should have spontaneously spray-tanned myself and found bigger boobs to wear before I got there. BUT. Tomato, to-MAH-titty.

We cracked open a Bud Lite Lime (perfect remedy for a sober heat stroke) and plopped our homemade mac-n-cheese down amidst the offerings. Which up until that point, seemed to be: watermelon, vodka, a potato chip, ice, vodka, some lettuce, paper plates. And then? FATTY CHEESE PASTA CASSEROLE. Everyone’s eyes bugged out “What the $@#!“.

This mac-n-cheese recipe has a history of stealing the show. It’s a true guilty pleasure, but on occasion, it’s soooo good.

Usually, there will be a few reluctant groans of “Oh my god why did you do this to meeeee” as people scoop a pile onto their plate, and snarf it down. But this pool party was different. No one moved an inch toward the dish. Everyone just took a really huge swig of their cocktail and swore they wouldn’t touch the stuff.

Let’s be honest. Had that Mac-n-cheese showed up drunk on their doorstep, late at night asking to come in, they would have swung the door wide open. But poolside in LA?? No f-ing way.

Until one person did. A girl from Minnesota, who said “Oh yes. I grew up on carbs!” In my mind, I crowned her “Most Awesome” at the party. Tied with her sassy gay friend who said he needed more to drink before he tried the Mac, and then did, later.

I could feel my Pennsylvania showing around the girl who was on the phone, poolside, making what she called “bereavement plane ticket” reservations and drinking a vodka cocktail, sighing every additional minute she was on hold, on speaker. I also felt weird around the girl who pretty much wanted me to hand her a trophy for “I tried a tiny bite!” of the mac-n-cheese, asked for the recipe, then told me “Don’t worry, I know how to make a cheese sauce” and explained the intricacies of a “roux” without my asking for it. And also the girl who had done improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade (me too!) and who was super friendly toward me until she realized I too was on student level and couldn’t connect her with the Hollywood picture shows!

We had to leave the party early. And we left the mac-n-cheese. Hopefully someone ate it. Probably a lucky raccoon, once it hit the landfill.

I will definitely think twice about crowd-pleasing side dishes next time I’m invited to a pool party in LA proper. Maybe a watermelon. Oh no, wait. Fruit has carbs. Maybe like a cucumber with salt on it. Ehhhh, salt bloats. So, like — I dunno, like a bag of ice. And vodka.

Because you don’t know what you’re missing when you’re drunk off your a**.



Itty Bitty Litty Committee.

3 Aug

For my summer reading, I decided – down with words! Down with normal sized books! And look what showed up in a sweet little brown box, wrapped in string. The tiniest, sassiest, picture-iest book about The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA. Made by my good friend Blend, from her weekend getaway there with friends.

I have yet to visit the Inn, but after browsing this mini book, I feel like I’m almost drunk on bubbly cocktails.
Here, I’m reading about how Mr. Estes was sad that the gumball machine wasn’t working that day.

Here, I’m wishing I could put this in my face:
Ok, this is my favorite idea ever. Second only to making the tub your drink cooler…
This is some Nat Geo level wildlife photography. All mine are always blurry butts of animals leaving the frame.

Ahhhh. Another book completed! …Where is my free Book-It Pizza Hut personal pan pizza, for my accomplishments while school is out?? (Did you guys do that?!!) Ugh. Growing up blows.



Romance And Oil Slicks.

1 Aug

One of Ervin’s students mentioned that he’d been to this amazing beach a little south of Santa Barbara. Student dude said it was secluded and beautiful… with these little shops and some kind of legendary pizza/panini situation. He had a great time there with his girlfriend lady.

So, Ervin and I are all let’s do this, and we drove up there. To Carpenteria State Beach. After some en route Googling and discovering that there may or may not be nudists on nearby Bates Beach, we decided to press on. Any naked people I’ve ever seen on a beach just look like wrinkly seals with pancake tits. Male or female.We passed by this Mexican market and once I glimpsed the star shaped piñatas and spicy dried fruit, I had to go in and see what was autentica! I found these fish snacks. While I don’t know if I can eat things that are looking back at me, I would l-o-v-e to bust these out in the dark of a movie theatre. Pass them along with the popcorn and Junior Mints. It’s a charming little town with chocolate fudge shops, salt water taffy, plenty of beachy food stops and not too many people, even on a summer weekend.

Then we found out…why. Those are oil rigs in the ocean out there. Our little quaint beach walk turned into a bit of a lesson in oil harvesting. Off the bottoms of our feet.

I’ve seen plenty of pictures of rescue ducks being washed in bins full of Palmolive bubbles. But let me tell you. That s*** means bidness and it don’t come off. It doesn’t wash away in the ocean, or rub off in the sand. We had to use dish soap on our toes (to make it sound cute-ish).

I saw a guy on the beach in sneakers and baggy jeans and immediately thought – ok, who wears full-on jeans to a swimmy beach, but then I realized just how smart he was. Not about fashion – he could have easily bought better jeans at the mall with his eyes closed – but about safety. Smarter than me who was wearing tar as shoes!We headed home a little conflicted. It’s a bit of a drive from LA. But there were seals (actual ones) swimming around the rocks. And yet, there’s something disconcerting about those oil rigs. BUT they remind me of blockbuster smash Armageddon “Don’t wanna FALL asleep–” Also, we could not find any awesome paninis or pizzas. We did find a pitcher of margaritas that came with some free chips and salsa… (point for Carpenteria). Also, who lets their kids swim in that water?

Maniacs, that’s who. Or maybe their kids grew up on it. Or they’re covered in Crisco like adorable greasy pigs before they get in the water? Who can say.



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