Monthly Archives: January 2012

My So-Called Ugly Shower

Dear Bathroom,

When I moved into my apartment, the showerbath looked like this:

That was ugly, so I put up a white shower curtain. This made the room look much more clean and fresh (I promise. It looked good in real life. This is a terrible photo):

But the white curtain was boring, so I replaced it with a shower curtain I stole from my mother’s linen closet. The good thing about my mother is that she hoards sheets, towels, and all sorts of linens. Continuously buying linens gives her a sense that everything is under control and the world is abundant with possibilities. What isn’t abundant is storage space at my parents’ house. So I never buy linens anymore, I just steal them from orMOMdo. I have no idea where she got this one but I’m into it. I’m digging the green in my stark white bathroom.

I paired it with a simple stripe rug.

And some art my friend Blake made in college.

And then I was happy and I no longer hated my gross shower. Now onto the next thing to hyperscrutinize.

Love,
Orlando

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Whoopie!

By Contributing Food Editor Jared Levan

Dear Pennsylvania,

On behalf of everyone (save the residents of Maine and Massachusetts…look it up) I’d like to thank you for contributing the most delightful sweet treat of my childhood years–the whoopie pie. Rumor has it that Amish women living in Lancaster, PA would make whoopie pies and sneak them into their husband’s lunch pails prepared for a day of work in the fields.

When the unsuspecting men, famished from a morning of hard labor, opened their lunches they’d be thrilled at the sight of these sweet, fluffy little goodies to which they would exclaim–WHOOPIE!


Photo by Diane of Stylish Cuisine

Despite the pseudo-political controversy this little guy stirred up last year, I’m here to pay homage to the whoopie pie and my mother’s go-to recipe. Every year, on my birthday, my mother would whip up a batch and bring them for my elementary school classmates and me to enjoy. It was the best birthday treat a little Pennsylvanian boy could have asked for!

“Happy Birthday” Whoopie Pies
by Robin Levan

2 Cups sugar
1 Cup Crisco/vegetable shortening
2 Eggs
1 Cup whole milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup cocoa
4 ½ Cups flour
2 tsp baking soda + 6 oz. HOT water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).

Cream sugar and shortening at high speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Combine milk and vinegar. Add curdled-milk mixture, vanilla, cocoa and flour to egg mixture and beat to combine. Mix baking soda and water. Add and beat to combine.

Drop to desired size on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

For the filling…
2 Egg whites (beaten)
2 Tbsp flour
1 Lb Confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup Crisco/vegetable shortening

Combine beaten egg whites, flour, milk, vanilla and ½ sugar. Beat until creamy. Add shortening and the remaining sugar. Mix well. Spread between two, cooled cookies.

Vanilla & Green Tea Whoopie Pies…Whoopie pies come in all flavors and sizes, but I had to share this gorgeous picture and accompanying recipe.

The next time you spot one of these tiny treats or decide to make them at home from scratch, you might consider exclaiming “whoopie” yourself!

Love,

Jared

Jared Levan

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Out With The Old…

Dear Apartment,

You know, every once in a while it’s a good idea to freshen things up. Lately I’ve been noticing that every single thing that surrounds me is vintage. Which is great. I love vintage pieces because they are so much more interesting than new, mass manufactured furniture. But I think it’s good to have a balance of old and new so my place doesn’t look like it belongs to a grandpa (not that I have anything against grandpas, I love mine). Thus, I decided to add something new to my living room. Here’s what it looked like before I changed the wall color and added a new sideboard table.

This is the piece I chose to freshen things up. It’s Torsby from Ikea and it costs #299.

This is what Torsby looks like in his new home. Yay!

I accessorized the tabletop with a bunch of plants and a vintage mercury glass lamp. I think it’s important to use vintage accessories if have a piece as new and modern as this one. They balance each other out nicely. Kind of like Melanie Griffith’s plastic surgery face is balanced out nicely by the natural, rugged handsomeness of her husband Antonio Banderas. Yeah, just like that.

I found this bird candle holder at Goodwill for $4.99. I love him so much. His beak was broken off when I adopted him but I made him a new beak by sharpening a small dowel with a pencil sharpener and supergluing it to his face. All better!

You know I’m a sucker for succulents, especially since these have a lavender hue to them that is reflected in the periwinkle blue in the painting.

This sculpture was made by a family friend named Suzanne French, who is a sculptor/potter I’ve known my whole life. She makes really cool ceramic sculptures, many of them taller than you are and totally glamorous. My mother bought me this one for Christmas.

My plan is to use this new sideboard as media storage when I buy the enormous television I want to buy soon. Then I will never leave my living room again. Then I will become obese like that obese lady in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Then I will die alone. Oh my god what have I done?

Love,
Orlando

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Going to LACMA: Such A Burden!

Dear Jennifer Love Hewitt,

I’ve been promising to tell you about what my favorite place in Los Angeles is and, well, here it is. I love LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). There, I said it and I’m not ashamed. It’s my favorite place in this city. It gives me a sense of peace in a world full of chaos. I visited recently to check out the new Chris Burden installation (‘Metropolis II’) I was hearing so much about. It’s pretty amazing. But don’t take my word for it. Watch this mini documentary about it:

We went on a super crazy day, so the line to see ‘Metropolis II’ was out of control.

The piece is so large and overwhelming that it’s hard to do it justice in a photograph. But I tried anyway.

For some reason LACMA trapped a poor attendant inside the installation and never let him leave. They gave him earplugs. I suppose this was to keep him from going to totally insane because the sound definitely wasn’t loud enough to be dangerous.

Sidenote about Chris Burden. He got famous by doing a performance where someone, like, shot his arm off with a bazooka. Okay, it wasn’t a bazooka. But he did do a performance in the 70s where he had someone shoot his arm and the art world was all “oh my god” and then he got super famous and now he makes really happy installations like the lamp posts on Wilshire in front of LACMA.

This was another artist on view. Bruce Nauman. To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to this piece so I have no idea what it was about. Sometimes, it’s okay to go to museums and only really look at one piece. That way you can go back another day and look at other stuff. Stop judging me.

I kind of wanted to rip this Glenn Ligon off the wall and take it home with me.

So stop whatever you’re doing right now and run to LACMA to see the glorious Burden piece and everything else that luxurious museum has to offer. And while you’re there buy me something. I love presents from art museum gift shops.

Love,
Orlando

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Five Things I Loved And Bought

Dear Anjelica Huston,

I know you’ve been concerned about my wardrobe lately, so I did a little shopping and here are some of the things I purchased. I was in desperate need of some new shoes so my search started there. I found these delightful Vans on sale for $40 (they’re supposed to be $90).

As you my know, I was raised in Yosemite Valley and I’ve never seen a Yosemite shirt this cool. I got this on sale for $15.

Apparently I really like Vans, because I bought these too. They were also on sale for $40 (from $80).

This I bought from the flea market for $60. It’s the coziest, comfiest thing in the whole world. The price was kind of steep but it was worth it. Except for the fact that I thought it gave me scabies because I got a mysterious rash today after wearing it without washing it. I immediately rushed to the emergency room and found out that my scabies was actually razor burn. But I’d still love this sweater even if it had given me scabies (which is a terrifying mite that eats away at your skin until you look like a disgusting leper, limbs literally falling from your body faster than you can say “do you have any refreshing Diet Coke?”). It’s soft and warm and it reminds me of all that is happy and good in the world.

I spotted these boots a few months back and snagged them for $20.

The only problem with the boots is that I don’t have any bootcut jeans for them to fit in to. Thus, I posted the following thought on facebook which a friend immediately ridiculed me for:

Honestly, jeans not fitting over your boots is a really big issue in this country and I wish people would take it more seriously. Or at least give me the sympathy I deserve when I am going through a tough time. Thanks for listening, Anjelica Huston. I knew I could always count on you.

Love,
Orlando

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Hungry? Why Not Have a Sandwich?

By Contributing Food Editor Jared Levan

Dear Incredible-Edible Sandwich,

I love the way you look sitting there on the plate, begging to be eaten. And though I’m not quite sure how, you possess some strange power over me to which I am utterly helpless. Never in all my years would I have imagined you’d look so delicious sliced in-two and slapped on top of a photocopier.

Jon Chonko, of Scanwiches decided to capture the beauty of the almighty sandwich using nothing but a xerox–no photoshop here. Their philosophy is simple, it’s all about the true beauty of the bread and everything in between. This is just some of the Scanwicher’s work.

Can you find your favorite ‘wich?

Ingredients: banana pepper, tomato, provolone, ham, genoa salami.

Ingredients: Ramen noodle “bread,” ham, yellow american cheese.

Lobster Roll: lobster, butter, roll.

Ingredients: pumpkin filling, vanilla marshmallow, graham cracker “bread.”

Bahn Mi: baguette, pate, cha lua pork, pickled carrot, cilantro, pickled cucumber.

Ingredients: chocolate-hazelnut spread, marshmallow.

Talk about food porn. After all this you’re probably getting hungry. I know I am….

Love,

Jared

Jared Levan

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Awkward Space? Put A Bench On It!

Dear Benches,

You have no idea how handy you are in home decorating? Awkward empty wall? Add a bench! Weird space at the end of the bed? Put a bench on it! Empty space in the bathroom that keeps reminding you how empty your life is? Bench! I think you get the picture. Thus, Emily and I are always looking for benches. Often, we enter stores and flea markets screaming at each other in terror about how there just aren’t enough benches. For some reason flea markets have been dry as a bone when it comes to benches, so I’ve taken to trolling around online for them. I found some good ready-made benches, most of them at pretty great prices. I’m actually looking for a bench for my own living room so I’ll probably be getting one of these. Let me know if any of them strike your fancy (so I’ll know which one to buy).

Who doesn’t love a pop of color? CB2, $299.

This one is clean and quiet. Unlike everything else in my apartment. Thus, it could add some much-needed simplicity. West Elm, $399

Just a basic bench at a good price. $183, Overstock.com

This looks very cozy and welcoming. It kind of reminds me of a whale grandma but in a good way. $307, Overstock.com

Knock-off Nelson Bench. Totally classic design. Don’t mind if I do… Overstock, $205

I like how modern and architectural this one is. If it were a person it would probably be snotty and pretentious and cruel, but I bet the bench would be nice to you. Etsy.com, $850

This one is farm house-y and cute. Could add some rustic charm to my mid-century living room. CB2, $399.

I’m sorry, I still really like pin legs. So shoot me. Etsy.com, $295

Something I’ve realized lately is that if you have a lot of vintage you need to balance it out with some fresh new pieces every once in a while. I like how bright and fresh this white bench is. $220, apt2b.com

This Martha Stewart bench is cute, no? Very clean lines but still has some visual interest. $229, homedecorators.com

In conclusion, if there is anything missing in your life I’m pretty sure you can fill the void with a bench. Valentines day is coming up in about a month and I know that I’ll be on a date, sharing spaghetti with my true love. We’ll both suck on the same noodle and accidentally kiss, at which moment I’ll realize my date is actually a bench and we aren’t at the Italian restaurant from Lady and the Tramp but actually just sitting in my apartment alone, listening to Enya. Just kidding that probably wont happen. (Yes it will).

Love,
Orlando

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Shopping With Emily / Give Me That!

Dear Everyone,

Look at these new chairs I found for my apartment at the Long Beach Flea Market! See them and more of my finds in my shopping post on Emily’s Blog today. It will be the most important thing you do in your whole life.

Love,
Orlando

P.S. Here is the link to my shopping wrap-up.

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Beautiful Photography / Melancholia & Gregory Crewdson

Dear Kirsten Dunst,

I loved your work in the film ‘Melancholia,’ which I just got around to seeing last week. While your acting was quite amazing, the thing that struck me most about the film was its opening sequence. The first eight minutes of the film are so beautiful and enthralling they could stand alone as a short film.

The imagery in these opening scenes will probably seem familiar to anyone who has seen the work of Gregory Crewdson, a photographer who specializes in dramatically lit, color-rich, surreal images. I didn’t really make the connection until a friend of mine (who has an incredible memory for artists’ names, which I totally don’t) mentioned how evocative the cinematography was of the photographer’s work. To my knowledge, Crewdson was not actually involved in the making of this film. However, his influence is quite evident in the work of cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro. You can see the aesthetic connection below in this collection of some of my favorite Crewdson photographs.

I’ve always loved Crewdson’s images so it was exciting when the film (and my artist dictionary friend) reminded me of their existence. A fun fact about myself is that I spent four years of my life studying photography in college. Whenever I see things like ‘Melancholia,’ I’m inspired to make photographs again. Someday…

Love,
Orlando

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Why Do I Deny Myself The Thing I Love Most?

Dear Diary,

If you did a scan of my brain, it would look something like this:

Everything in my head is neon and bright and beachy (this is one reason why I love Los Angeles so much). I tend to shy away from using these colors in my apartment because my deepest fear (aside from dying alone, surrounding by cats) is making my apartment look like a gay cartoon rainbow explosion. But I can’t stop fantasizing about having this kind of color in my apartment:

Meanwhile, I just painted my walls this color (Benjamin Moore Half Moon Crest). Snore.

Oh, Diary, why do I deny myself the one thing I truly love? Especially when it’s right there before my very eyes? Why do I deny myself color?

Oh tender, delicate aqua walls, how I long to hold you in my arms and protect you.

And you, dip-dyed drapes. I long for your tender touch and companionship.

Teal, you’re the real deal. Will you be my Valentine?

I’m into you Tiffany Blue. I want to wrap myself up in you like an precious diamond ring.

And you, Navy Blue. You’re so dark and mysterious and handsome. Would you like to come home with me?

This looks like Cuckoo Christmas, but I still like it. (I must be really starved for color).

This color is tasteful and reserved. Just like me.

Yellow Kitchen, you are a bit cheesy. Why am I drawn to thee?

Oh green, rotting room. You disgust me. I must have you.

Hi, Barbie Room. I want to be with you but I can’t. My love for you must remain a secret.

Oh that I were that row of books, so that I could rest my quivering face against this delightful hue of aqua.

If I were a grandma, I’d snuggle into this Pretty In Pink space.

Yellow door, you’ll always be welcome in my bedroom.

Colorful cabinetry, you belong with me.

So why have I denied myself my one true love? Why is my living space a minefield of greys and neutrals? Fear. My fear of making my apartment look like a crazyhouse has overtaken my life. And I’m not going to take it anymore. Fear, get out of my house! I will order a custom sofabed in a glamourous Peacock Blue velvet:

I will bring in some gold. Perhaps in a bar cart.

I will replace my rug with something more graphic and exciting (sidenote: this rug is only $299 for an 8 x 10 from Crate & Barrel. Holler!):

So there we go. I’m not afraid anymore! I’m going to get what I want. And what I want is color.

Love,
Orlando

PS: I wrote this song about my love for color. Note the happy ending:

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