Category Archives: Style

Epic Everyday: A Simple and Sensational Friendsgiving

thankgivingbanner

Dear Thankful People Who Love to Chow Down,

I’ve always thought it would be fun to do a Friendsgiving dinner. But my pesky family keeps getting in the way. We do Thanksgiving together every year, making the concept of a friends-only version off the table. But this year, I said “screw it!” I WILL HAVE MY FRIENDSGIVING. So I did what any dinner-party-loving crazy person would do. I had fake Thanksgiving a month before actual Thanksgiving. Luckily, I had a little motivation, as this coincides with my collaboration with American Express to take normal everyday activities (like, say, dinner) and make them epic (like, say, Thanksgiving dinner).

Anyone who has ever hosted Thanksgiving knows the one epic thing about the day is prepping the meal. But I didn’t want to make my guests pitch in at all. I just wanted them to show up to a crazy, elaborate meal without lifting a finger. So I tasked myself with cooking the entire meal myself. It was totally doable but I also kind of lost my mind while doing it, so if you’re going to attempt this I’d make sure you wake up early and be ready to feel like a frazzled rag doll all day (in all honesty, I’m pretty much a frazzled rag doll every day). It’s totally worth the satisfaction of knowing you did everything on your own, but it’s a lot of work.

turkey

As anyone will tell you, the most taxing part of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. I’d never cooked one before and I had little knowledge of what it entailed. What I wasn’t prepared for is how truly disgusting the whole process would be. Basically, you have to rip out the bird’s insides (for some reason they give you all these turkey pieces and put them inside). The scene of me prepping the turkey was pretty grim. Me, standing alone in the kitchen with my hand inside a wet, cold, salmonella-y bird, listening to sad Sufjan Stevens music and screaming “I USED TO BE A VEGAN” at the ceiling. Handling wet poultry is high on my list of things I’m scared of, so for me this was a very dark moment.

As with all my cooking endeavors, I relied on a Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not that I’m such a blind follower of Martha (although, if she told me to jump off a cliff I would do so without even bothering to ask why), it’s more that I know that every recipe I find on that site is going to be good. So instead of just googling “How to cook a turkey” which, believe me, I did I looked over the recipes on Martha’s site and chose one that sounded delicious and easy (see the full turkey recipe here).

dsc_0680

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without some kind of potato situation, so I decided to include a sweet mashed potato side. I used my fun yellow dutch ovens, which made me feel festive and autumnal while cooking.

dsc_0683dsc_0688

Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

10 Sweet Potatoes

1/2 cup of butter

1 Yellow Onion

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Coconut oil

Garlic Powder

Herbs de Provence

Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Boil peeled sweet potatoes until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork. Slice onions into quarter inch thick pieces and sauté in olive oil in a separate pan. Add onions to boiled potatoes and combine using an immersion blender until the consistency is smooth. Add in butter and coconut oil, continuing to blend. Add Herbs de Provence, Salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish with bay leaves, rosemary, or whatever herb you have lying around. If you don’t have any herbs lying around, go to the bathroom and take a long look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you’ve made such terrible life decisions.

dsc_0699

No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without delicious Brussels sprouts. I always like Brussels sprouts at restaurants way more than the ones I make at home, so I decided to do something restauranty and add bacon to mine. Also added: crunch. Making these at home I always feel like they lack the crunch of sprouts I eat when I’m at a restaurant. So I decided to bake some of the flakey outer shells to add more texture to the dish.

Also, totally unrelated: CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW GROSS BRUSSELS SPROUTS SMELL WHEN YOU COOK THEM? Like, why? They’re so good but whenever I cook them for a dinner party I feel so much shame, like I live in a stench-filled witch house. For this reason I made these way ahead of time for Friendsgiving. Also, coating everything in bacon helps mask that WHAT-HAPPENED-IN-HERE!?!-sprout-scent that normally goes along with preparing these tasty nuggets.

dsc_0708

Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

3 Lbs Brussels Sprouts (that’s about three bags from shops like Trader Joes)

1/2 lb bacon

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a pan, fry bacon. Leave bacon grease in the pan. Remove cooked bacon from pan and set it on paper towels to dry (and absorb some of the fatty oil). Prepare the Brussels sprouts by halving them and removing the brown part of their stem. Collect loose leaves that fall off during halving in a bowl. Add loose leaves to pan, coating them with the bacon fat (yes, I realize this sounds gross but you have to do it or no one will like your Brussels sprouts. Or you). Place in a baking dish and cook at 450 degrees until lightly browned at the edges. Meanwhile, cook the Brussels sprouts with olive oil in a pan on medium heat until soft. Chop bacon into quarter inch piece and add to cooked sprouts. Add in baked sprout leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

dsc_0787  dsc_0797

Simple Spiced Cider Cocktail

Spiced Apple Cider

Ginger Beer

Vodka

Rosemary Sprigs

Combine equal parts Spiced Apple Cider, Ginger Beer, and Vodka in a serving pitcher. Add ice and sliced clementines. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve over ice. For added pizzaz, attach some rosemary sprigs to the end of your drink stirrer with kitchen string. THIS WILL SHOCK AND DELIGHT YOUR GUESTS.

[Champagne coups are from Crate & Barrel pitcher is from Ikea]

dsc_0776dsc_0806

For dessert, I went with my favorite type of pastry, an apple tart. I hate making dough, so I bought ready-made crusts and rolled them out myself. I grew up in a house where we never ate anything pre-made like that, so I’m sure my mother would have dropped her wine glass on the floor if she had seen me doing this, but I honestly can’t tell the difference between a ready-made crust and a homemade one, except for the fact that the homemade ones make me want to scream because they’re so time consuming, flakey, and hard to get exactly right. A fun tip here is that if you avoid those cheap looking crinkly aluminum foil pans with the pre-made crusts already rolled out in them and put the crusts into a ceramic dish like the one above, the whole thing feels a lot more high end and homemade. Even though it’s store bought garbage.

Apple Tart Recipe (serve with vanilla bean ice cream, duh).

dsc_0732

I set the table with my favorite dishes, which are these Ahwahnee plates Edouard bought on a trip to Yosemite last year. This pattern is the traditional pattern of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, where I grew up. When I was little we used to play in this hotel ALL the time. Mostly in the elevators. Imagine my terror years later when I saw The Shining for the first time (many of the interior shots of this film were based on the Ahwahnee, which I’ve explored in an old blog post). As you probably know, the elevators play a particularly terrifying role in that film. THERE GOES MY CHILDHOOD!

dsc_0738 dsc_0748

I bought nearly everything I needed for Friendsgiving at Trader Joe’s (even these cute, autumnal berry branches). A fun fact is that if you use your American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card at a grocery store, you get 3% back! So part of me was happy I was wasting hundreds of dollars on this meal, since I knew I’d be getting some of it back and that would make me feel like I was winning a secret prize.

dsc_0771

Even though the turkey was a nightmare do prep, cooking it wasn’t so difficult. All you have to do is make sure that it’s constantly moisturized. Like every 20 minutes. It’s basically like a gay man after age 30: as long as you keep applying moisture it will look delicious and tantalizing. The second you let it dry up, no one is going to be interested ever again. LET THIS MOIST, YOUTHFUL TURKEY BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US TO MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE.

dsc_0740

My friends told me that my Friendsgiving was a smashing success and they were very impressed I’d cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner all alone. And that’s when I turned to the camera and screamed, THANKS AMERICAN EXPRESS – FOR TAKING THIS NORMAL/BORING SATURDAY AND MAKING IT EPIC. 

…Speaking of epic, I wanted to share a few amazing recipes from Buzzfeed and American Express that inspired me to create my own Friendsgiving so out of this world, and might inspire you too. Check them out here.

Editor’s Note: I swear, there were actually people at my Friendsgiving. I know that these pics make it look like I ate with a group of ghosts, but it was an evening filled with real, non-phantasm friends who loved my signature cocktail and told me the turkey was moist (are you one of the people that hates that word? I’m kinda not tbh. Just think about all the delicious moist cakes and cookies you’ve eaten in your lifetime. MMMMM!). I kinda stopped taking pics by the time people arrived because I was rushing to get everything done. Also, it was pretty dark so I the few pics I did take made everyone look like a gargoyle. I just wanted to explain this because I didn’t want you picturing me eating this whole turkey alone while crying about being alone. Not that that’s not something I wouldn’t do. It’s just not what happened this time.

Okay, bye. AND HAPPY REAL THANKSGIVING!

Love,
Orlando

Resources: Dining Table, Wishbone Chairs, Jute RugTable Runner, Hurricanes, Gilded Glasses, Flatware, Ivory Napkin, PlacematsGold Pendants, Wall Clock.

This post was created in collaboration with American Express. All ideas and opinions expressed are genuine and my own. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Life, Style

Thanksgiving Dining Table Tips from Me and Other Super Famous Design People

Photography by Tessa Neustadt Courtesy Homepolish

unspecifiedunspecified-1 unspecified-2

Dear Thanksgiving Hosts,

A you FREAKING OUT about how to style your Thanksgiving table? Would you like advice from experts like Jonathan Adler, Emily Henderson, and ME? If so, you’re in luck! MyDomaine has put together a comprehensive guide to creating the perfect setting for Thanksgiving, with input from me and other design experts. Continue reading to get the inside scoop on how to decorate for everyone’s favorite harvest hootenanny.

CONTINUE READING >>>

Love,
Orlando

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Decor, Style

Fun at Orcondo: One Bedroom Three Ways

Photographs by Amy Bartlam Courtesy Homepolish x Etsy

unspecified-3-1

Dear Decor Diary,

When I’m not holding pillows like a psychopath, I love rearranging furniture and swapping out accessories to transform Orcondo. Accessories can totally refresh a space. And even if something is perfectly styled, after a while I find it starts to look a little stale and/or disheveled. Maybe Boyfriend put a book somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. Or maybe Guest rearranged your shelves without asking. Regardless of what caused your styling to go awry, it’s always a good idea to refresh it every once in a while. So when Etsy and Homepolish teamed up for a delightful makeover story about styling my guest bedroom over and over and over again, I jumped at the chance to play with all the amazing accessories available on Etsy .

My guest bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in my home. It’s bright and welcoming, with a low platform bed I got from AllModern, simple white sheets from Parachute, and an amazing light fixture from Park Studio. The great thing about it is that it’s kind of a blank canvas begging to be transformed, so it’s pretty easy to change its look with bedding, side tables, and accessories. The wall color (Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore) is very neutral and goes with pretty much everything, so this room is VERY versatile.

Stop everything you’re doing and follow along with me as I show you how I created three distinct looks from one sunny guest bedroom.

beachy

unspecified

When I created the mood board for this look, I was pretty bored. I was kinda like “SNOOZE! Who’s gonna like this stupid-ass look?” But when it was done it was so peaceful and relaxing that I wanted to curl up and read a book immediately while drinking a warm cup of tea and thinking about how much I appreciate all the people in my life.

1

Some people are scared to mix different hues of whites. I’m not. I love a crisp white against an ivory, contrasted with a wheat color. Yes, cream can look yellow next to crisp white, but what’s wrong with yellow?

unspecified-3

This cute little triangle shelf rocks my world and added a bit of edge to an otherwise pretty traditional space. It also provides the perfect perch for my prized Kokeshi dolls, who are the mosts adorable, beautiful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

unspecified-2

Etsy is a great resource for original art and reproductions like these. I love the look of using clips to hang art, and it’s super economical.

unspecified-4 unspecified-5

Look 1 Resources: Linen Pillow Cases, Woven Pillow Cases, Watercolor PaintingsNatural Wooden Nightstand

shibori

unspecified-1

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with shibori, so I was stoked to fill the room with the colorful fabric. Shibori pieces are all hand-dyed and are works of art, so adding them to a room immediately gives it a unique, hand-touched look.

unspecified-6

Sometimes, people ask me “How many pillows is too many pillows?” And it takes every fiber of my being not to slap them across the face and scream, “HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THERE COULD EVER BE TOO MANY PILLOWS???” Someday, I’ll probably die of suffocation in a pile of pillows that fell off my bed onto my unsuspecting, wide open mouth. And I’m okay with that.

unspecified-7

This simple YET AMAZING wall hanging is the perfect art accent.

unspecified-8

Look 2 Resources: Shibori and Indigo patterned fabrics, rustic wood finishes, natural stone, and concrete objects.

memphis

unspecified-2

If you’re not familiar with the Memphis look that’s having a resurgence right now, it’s time for you to get on board. Memphis was born in the eighties and is all about color, pattern, and insane geometry. Basically Pee-wee’s playhouse on crack. The style is too crazy for all my clients, so I decided to use it for the third of my bedroom styling makeovers.

unspecified-9 unspecified-10

Edouard and I bought these popsicle floaties for a pool party over the summer and they make me endlessly happy. If I could keep them inside all the time I’d be the happiest person alive. Sadly, I’m not a 12-year-old girl so I’d never get away with that.

unspecified-11

I LOVE THAT PIÑATA SO MUCH I WANT TO SQUEEZE IT UNTIL CANDY EXPLODES OUT OF IT. And then apologize for killing it so young. And then have it rise from the dead and put itself together so I could squeeze it until it explodes again.

unspecified-12

This pink woolen blanket with pom-poms really make me happy.

unspecified-13

Hello? Is anyone there? It’s me, Teenage Girl from 1960 Who Likes Chatting With Boys On The Phone!

Look 3 Resources: Mid-Century Scandinavian Nightstand, Pops of hot pink and bright yellow accents,  Graphic wall treatment.

There we have it! One bedroom, three ways! Which look is your favorite? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Love,
Orlando

PS: Wanna see more? Check out the full resources and story on Homepolish Mag!

3 Comments

Filed under Decor, Design, Style

LA Needs to Stop Tearing Down Its History to Build Garbage

8500melrose-render

Dear Architecture Lovers,

When I moved to Los Angeles eight years ago, I lived in the area of Hollywood very close to West Hollywood. I remained in that neighborhood for the next seven years, until last year when I moved to Silver Lake to live in a condo overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir with my boyfriend. Over the years I noticed West Hollywood started to explode with construction. That explosion has extended all over town, from the crazy expensive homes being built in Venice to the amazing (and insane) transformation of the Arts District downtown (which is literally nothing but bulldozers these days). Our city is transforming at an incredible speed, and I believe it’s on its way to finally being a world-class city and a worthy international destination (once we fix our terrible third-world airport).

All of this is great, but one thing I’ve been noticing over the years is how little regard city planners, developers, the general public, and even architects have for preserving any sense of the city’s rich architectural history. To drive around our city, you’d think that it was founded in the nineteen nineties (when in fact it’s officially been a city for over 160 years and obviously was populated way before that). We have a history as a city of tearing down buildings in favor of building something more contemporary. People here like “new.” And the problem with this is that it never allows our current architecture to gestate and become historic. With the danger of earthquakes present at all times here, it makes sense for people to be attracted to new construction (and thus buildings erected during stricter earthquake construction regulations), but there has to be a way to preserve buildings while renovating them to make them earthquake-safe.

To be honest, I kind of get it. My old building in Hollywood was from the nineteen fifties and I always felt like it would probably pancake me in an earthquake. Unfortunately, there is a huge incentive for the landlords that own many of the amazing mid-century apartment complexes scattered across the city to do as little as they possibly can to maintain them. To save money and do things cheaply, eventually leading the way to just tearing these buildings down and erecting something new and cheap, usually out of very inexpensive materials with a few bells and whistles (stainless steel, woohoo!) designed to trick buyers/renters into thinking the building is high end. A great example of this is the Dylan in West Hollywood, an apartment complex built from materials that are likely to age poorly in a style that was dated before construction ended.

If you ask people what their favorite cities are, most people will mention a city with a strong architectural history: Paris, San Francisco, New York, London, etcetera. I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona over the summer and the most amazing part of the whole trip was how well the city has preserved its amazing historic buildings. You can literally see history, decades and centuries, as you walk though the city and it’s an amazing feeling. It gives the city a sense of presence and importance. That people cared enough, over time, to preserve buildings and historic places. But for some reason people who love these historic cities have no problem tearing down fifty-year-old buildings in LA to make way for banal new constructions.

A great example of this disconnect comes with the new Gehry building being built on Sunset Boulevard (a block away from my old apartment):

gehry-toontown

No, they’re not building a Mickey’s Toontown next to my old apartment. But the first thing I thought of when I saw the Gehry design (on the left) was that crazy cartoon land at Disneyland. I actually really like the Gehry design but the reason I’m likening it to Mickey’s Toontown is that it is very much in the same vernacular, and that vernacular is strongly related to the architectural sensibility of the early nineties (Toontown was built in 1993, a few years before Gehry’s most famous curvaceous building was erected, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997). That vernacular is dated. So basically my point is that this building quickly be dated once it’s built.

Which would be fine if developers weren’t tearing down a “dated” architectural gem to make way for the soon-to-be-dated Gehry erection. This is the building they will tear down for the Gehry development on Sunset:

chasebanknow

I had a hard time finding a lot of current images, but the vintage images of it actually are better at showing what it would look like if it were restored:

lytton-savings-2 lytton-savings-3 lytton-savings-4 lytton-savings-1

I have a huge soft spot in my heart for zig-zag roofs (or really any distinctive architecture to be honest). So I might be a bit biased. But I believe this building is worth saving. Architectural styles can take a long time to come back, but I’m confident this building would (if allowed to stand) someday be cherished as an example of beautiful, archetypal mid-century architecture (it was built in 1960).

The site occupied by the zig-zag Chase Bank was previously the site of another lost piece of LA history, the Garden of Allah Hotel. I’m convinced if that hotel survived it would be as gorgeous as the much-treasured Chateau Marmont, which is just across the street and one of my favorite places to take out of towners to show them that, yes, Los Angeles does have some history. Maybe this site is cursed. Maybe Gehry will tear down this bank and then in twenty-five years another cocky architect will come along and tear down his Mickey’s Toontown. A better solution would be for Gehry to retool his design to include the bank (reports are they’ve already done this but haven’t released the renderings). My hope would be that in fifty years we can look at both buildings and see how they contrast with each other and showcase different periods of LA history.

Seeing the historical relevance of a building is more difficult the more recent it is. Such is the case with a building at 8500 Melrose Avenue. It’s one of the most hated buildings in LA and is one of my very favorites:

8500melrose

I know what you’re thinking. It’s hideous. A lot of people (most people) hate this building. It’s been maligned (in a rather bourgeois way) by Curbed and the discontent with the building can be tracked back to an early oughts LA Times Story. My theory is that it’s just too soon for people to appreciate this building. It’s too fresh in our collective memory to actually be able to see the historical importance of a building erected in 1985. But that doesn’t mean we should, as is planned, rip off its facade to turn it into something very NOW, which will be equally maligned in twenty years. This era of fast-fashion, and disposable interior design (think of all the inexpensive and, hence, disposable home decor products available at big box retailers these days) has led to an addiction to tearing down and starting over when light renovation (or even just a paint job) could be the better answer. This has deep ramifications for our environment and our cities’ architectural-cultural heritage.

One of the things that can make working with design clients difficult is that I often see what something could be, not what it is and explaining that can be challenging. So I’ll propose a  tattered vintage sofa, knowing that I’ll get it recovered in sumptuous indigo velvet. And the client will see a tattered sofa. I, however, have the burden of seeing the sumptuous indigo velvet sofa and the responsibility to show the client what that would look like. The end result is always way better than if we’d just gone to a big box store and bought a ready-made, run-of-the-mill indigo sofa. I feel the same way about 8500 Melrose Avenue. When I look at this INSANE black-and-white building, I don’t see a building with faded red window frames, clunky typography on the signage, and a hideous entrance. I see what it could be. I see this:

8500melrose-render

This is a render I made showing simple, quick edits that could be done to this building to preserve its eighties character while making it less offensive to our today-eyes. What I love about this building is that it is distinctive and that it uses a classic pattern in a way we never see. I love black-and-white stripes. How often do you see them used on architecture? It would save so much labor, material, and natural resources to do minor edits on this building. The upside is that in 50 years, when we’ve had the space to truly appreciate eighties design, we’ll have something to remember it (and our city’s history) by.

8500_20melrose_20new_20rendering-0

Like with the Gehry complex, I actually like the design of the planned overhaul for this building. I do think, however, that it screams NOW and will thus be hated in twenty years. This type of boxy architecture has roots in high-end architecture, but has unfortunately been coopted by the mansionizing that has run rampant all over the city, but most pervasively in West Hollywood.

mcmansion-1

This type of building is relatively cheap because of the materials involved and it doesn’t age well (over time stucco sags and cracks and unlike other materials that can look better with age, this really only looks good brand new). Also, because it’s become so readily-available and widespread, it’s destined to become something that is commonly hated for its ubiquity. Thus, it’s my belief that in twenty years, the public is going to look at the renovated 8500 Melrose and scream, yet again, for it to be torn down.

Another soon-to-be lost space in Los Angeles is the Ricardo Legorreta-designed Pershing Square, which has already chosen French architecture firm Agence Ter for an overhaul. I can see why people hate this park. Firstly, there aren’t plants and there’s little shade. Second, the actual design of the space, with its purple tower and nineties geometry, is very challenging to the contemporary brain. It’s too soon to see the coolness in this park’s retro design. The park opened in 1994.

pershing_square

When I see the current design of Pershing Square, I don’t see a dated place. I see the type of Magritte-inspired surrealism that had a popular moment in the nineties, typified in the colorful (and insane) Robin Williams movie Toys:

toys-collage

This was a wonderful, playful time for architecture that gave us architecture stars like Michael Graves (who I think is totally under appreciated and whose buildings for The Disney Company I love). Here, are some GIFs that show the playful aesthetic of Toys:

the-film-cult-presents-toys-image-3

shea-wong-robin-williams-toys-bed

I’m sure Legorretta’s Pershing Square felt very contemporary when it opened, but now it feels dated. And dated in a way that’s too close for us to actually appreciate.

pacmutual-overlooking-pershing-square

The main issue with this park is that it’s not green enough and there’s not enough shade. Ideally, they’d just rip out a lot of that stone and put some green space for people to relax. Additionally, the colors of the spire and surrounding architecture could be updated pretty easily (people forget the wonders of paint!) to reflect current color trends (primary and secondary colors were all the rage in 1994). Maybe the city could save some of the $50 million estimated budget for the overhaul and dedicate it to services for the homeless, whose presence in the park is the number one detractor for people who want to go there and hang out. I’ve been to the park numerous times and the design of the space has never bothered me. Being harassed and pestered by panhandlers while I’m trying to relax has. I know that sounds a bit insensitive, but seems weird to be spending so much money on a park makeover when the real issue with the area has to do with the fact that so many Angelenos don’t have anywhere to live and congregate in parks like this. It’s not comfortable to have a picnic in a place that is, essentially, somebody’s home. It is my belief that most of the current structures could be allowed to stand and they could be updated and greened up to make the park a much more lush, comfortable place to be.

The design of Pershing Square is kooky, but it’s not unsaveable.

I guess my main overarching point here is that appreciating design and architecture from previous generations can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort to create a city that will feel more dynamic and atmospheric. You have to separate yourself from so many parts of your own personal history to be able to truly see the beauty and history behind an old building or object. I’ve seen this even in dealing with my parents, who are much less interested in anything mid-century than I am because it reminds them of the stuff their parents thought was cool. Their relationship to that period of design is completely different than mine.

But that also shows that even a difference of 30 years can change someone’s perspective on a certain building, piece of furniture, etc. So instead of defaulting to tearing down buildings and replacing them with ones that feel “contemporary” and “now,”  I’d advocate for always erring on the side of giving buildings a chance to become classics. To restoring rather than ripping down. You might not understand the beauty and importance of a more-recent older building, but in 30 years you may regret living in a city that continuously tears down its history, a city that did nothing preserve buildings from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s because they didn’t seem historic at the time. In 50 years they could be a window into our history.

We seem to be in a cycle of mediocrity, where older buildings are being town down to build cheap new buildings that will not stand the test of time or durability. All this is doing is erasing any possibility we have of being a city with any sense of architectural history. Los Angeles, stop tearing down your history to erect buildings to erect buildings that will be torn down.

Love,
Orlando

If you’d like to learn more about preservation in Los Angeles, check out the Los Angeles Conservancy, which has a listing of current historic buildings in danger and ways you can help.

Images via: Curbed, Disney Pal, Skyscraper, LA Conservancy, Curbed, Ivan EstradaLA Weekly, Happening in DTLA, Screen Junkies, Shea Wong, Burrells, MishkaNYC.

11 Comments

Filed under Life, Style

Epic Everyday: Dinner and Movie at Home

amex-orlando-3

Dear Urban Apartment Dwellers,

Having people over for dinner is one of my favorite things on earth. I’m becoming a crochety old man you can’t take anywhere. Every new restaurant I try out seems to be louder and more sceney than the last. Also, if I go to one more tapas or shared plate restaurant I’m going to scream. If I wanted to serve things myself or try to split one meatball seven ways I would just do that at home. Thank you.

As you may have seen on my Instagram, I’ve teamed up with American Express to share ideas on how you can take the normal stuff you do regularly and make it more fun and exciting, adding a bit more epic to your everyday. So for this post, I thought to myself, “How could I make a dinner party even more fun?”

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Decor, Style

A Midsummer Night’s Color Scheme

Homepolish Julie Crosby
Source: Homepolish

Dear Summer,

I always kind of think of summer as June, July, and August, but over my years in LA I’ve come to understand that summer starts in May and ends in October. For this reason, I’ve realized there’s still time to up my outdoor hosting game before the season ends. IT’S NOT TOO LATE YOU GUYS! So I’ve decided to share some of my favorite summer hosting items with you.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.

Three of my favorite trends of the year are blush pink, metallic finishes, and indigo blue. I know what you’re thinking, trends are stupid and lame and people who talk about trends are desperate and obnoxious, trying their hardest to cling to some sense that they have any understanding of what is going on in the world when really everything is just spinning out of control. HOWEVER, when scrolling through summer wares from my favorite retailers, it was impossible not to notice these three themes coming from every retailer. Metallics have been in forever, and they’re not going away. For this reason I think it’s not a bad idea to invest in that set of brass-finish cutlery you’ve been eyeing, or to install copper pulls in your kitchen. Indigo blue is big, partially because everyone finally woke up to the fact that shibori is awesome. And blush pink is hot, because why not? Pink is just an overall enthralling, warm color that should be splashed all over everything.

So come on in and let’s chat about the hosting items I’m coveting this summer.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Decor, Life, Style

Hosting An Oscarparty The Lazy Way

Photographs by Daniel Collopy

In.Soria.Oscars.020615-0033You Guys,

It’s that time of year again. You know. That time of year when traffic is super bad because Hollywood Boulevard is shut down because they’re setting up for the Oscars and it’s super annoying but also kind of exciting because it’s so glamorous to be stuck in traffic thinking about all those fancy ladies wearing fancy dresses and all those dudes wearing totally boring suits (sidenote: formalwear for guys is snoozeville, will someone please do something about this? In my dreamworld every man would show up to the Oscars wearing this amazing Mr Turk Suit:

M151401_MLT_BOOK2

Isn’t that awesome? Like I want my whole life to be made out of that fabric. Also, did you notice we’re still inside a perenthesis? We are. I doubt this is grammatically acceptable but you know what, I WANT TO LIVE!).

I live in a town that loves an awards show, about 10 blocks away from the Dolby theater where, each year they hold the Oscars and, each year, they change the name of the building based on whatever industry happens to be dying. The lovely people of Los Angeles use awards shows as an excuse to get together and drink and laugh and talk about their feelings. In LA, we do this for pretty much anything that’s on television. We throw huge Super Bowl parties even if we don’t care about the Super Bowl. We have decadent Grammy parties even if we hate music. It’s not uncommon for people to be like “WHAT ARE YOU WEARING TO THE ‘PETER PAN LIVE’ VIEWING PARTY?” or “DID YOU MAKE YOUR PLANS FOR THE SEASON 2 PREMIERE OF ‘GIRLS’ YET?”

Yes, girl. We love watching things and we love doing it together. Because what’s the point of watching an awards show if there’s no one to make fun of Kate Hudson’s dress with or no one to exclaim “DOES MERYL EVER DO ANYTHING WRONG!?!” This year, I’m going to be in New York for Oscars. Which I have to be totally honest and say I’m kind of bummed about. I was there for Oscars last year and I kept being like “What are you guys doing for Oscars?” and everyone just looked at me like I’d just asked them whether they were using HR Block or TurboTax this year. I GET IT. IT’S WEIRD. I COME FROM A PLACE WHERE WE GET EXCITED ABOUT STUPID INANE STUFF. I’M SORRY.

Going to New York didn’t stop me from writing a totally preachy and annoying post about what I think you should do for Oscar. I have a few caveats, obviously. Firstly, if someone invites you to watch the Oscars at their glamourmansion, watch the Oscars at their glamourmansion. I’ve spent many a year watching a the Oscars at glamourmansions and it’s always better. Mostly because there’s more space but also because glamour mansions tend to be owned by rich people and rich people love catering. Catering means you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat because it’s obviously going to be delicious. And you’ll never have to make your own drink because they’ll have a bartender there to make your drinks and validate you even if you’re a horrible person.

So yeah, if a rich person invites you over to partake in their ridiculous wealth, do that. But if, like me, you’re left to your own defenses to create a lovely and meaningful Oscar experience, follow these simple instructions.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150226 R* copy

Serve Punch.

Things get tricky (and expensive) when you try to buy a ton of alcohol to suit the needs of everyone you know. Vodka for your super gay friends, tequila for your friends that are doing Crossfit/doing the Paleo diet, or just trying to act cool, whiskey for your friends that wish they lived in The Mission, beer for your gay friends trying to act straight, sparkling cider for your friends trying not to be raging alcoholics, etc. This year, I went simple. Just a simple punch, which can be served with or without alcohol. I know what you’re thinking, WHAT IF PEOPLE WANNA DRINK SOMETHING ELSE!?! If you write in your invite “I’ll be serving punch, please bring a drink to share.” People know that really means “If you’re going to be crazy picky about what you want to drink and can’t just get wasted on whatever I give you like a normal person then bring your own stupid alcohol.”

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150241 R* copy

Super Simple Punch Recipe

 33 fl oz Blood Orange Italian Soda (I use Villa Italia Italian Blood Orange Soda)

 12 fl oz vodka (I like Ketel One or Absolute)

 Juice of 1 Lemon

Mix Italian Blood Orange Soda and Vodka, add lemon juice. Make 8 generous drinks. Try not to drink all of them yourself.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150259 copy

Do the Oscar ballot thing it’s dorky but more fun than you’d expect.

Download a simple Oscar ballot and make enough copies to share with your guests. I found mine here. Whoever guesses the most wins is better than everyone else.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150273 copy

Serve popcorn.

No one is going to be like “CAN YOU PLEASE HAVE POPCORN?” but you have to do it anyway. It sets the mood and also people will eat their faces off. But not in a gross way that makes them feel badly about themselves. Like in a way where they’re like “I’m happy with myself for eating that!”

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150316 copy

Make everything look better by plating it well.

For snacks, I went full-on cheap. But like, not in a depressing way where people would feel deprived. In a tricky, deceitful way aimed at making them think they were getting much fancier food than they actually were. I spent about $80 on snacks which could be cooked easily and plated without a bunch of fuss. I bought a lot, but figured we could just order out if we got super hungry later.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150392 copy In.Soria.Oscars.0206150484 R* copy

Make it festive by adding flowers. 

I didn’t go all out streamers and confetti and little gold Oscar statues everywhere. Instead, I opted to cover my apartment in beautiful flowers I ordered from TheBouqs.com, a super streamlined service that allows you to order flower and have them delivered to your home (or office, if you’re trying to impress your coworkers and make them think you’re popular). If I hadn’t have had flowers I may have gone crazier with Oscar themed decor, but they added such a simple sophisticated party look that I didn’t want to distract.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150521 R* copy

Incorporate an Oscar-y element into your decor.

I decided I was going to hone in on red, which is normally a color I hate in design. I don’t know why, it just always seems too garish to me. I’m like, SHUT UP, RED! But I took inspiration from the red carpet and added some scarlet to the viewing space, to match the Scarlet Johanssen we’d be watching later on the screen.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150551 copy

I put popcorn in this ultra glamorous bowl and provided happy little red cups for consumption.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150619 R* copy

I swapped out my Erika Gragg paintings for some new Erika Gragg paintings. The new ones, in beautiful blue and coral pink, tie in the red color story and my navy sofa. THANKS, PAINTINGS! (These paintings are for sale BTW, contact me or Erika through her website to buy).

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150632 copy

If people get bored, cook a pizza!

When the show starts to drag and people start wiggling around and getting antsy, keep them engaged by bringing out a piping hot pizza. This will make them think “Hey! This night’s not over yet! There’s pizza!” Nothing gives assures people that all is right quite like pizza does. I love handmade pizzas with homemade dough, but I was too busy so I picked up some ready made that just needed to be plopped in the oven and they were delicious. In an ideal world, we’d all eat handmade things all the time. But sometimes, togetherness and eating junkfood are more important than perfection.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150636 copy

If it weren’t for these rainbow carrots I’d totally be dead right now. I’ve roasted them, I’ve made them into soup, I’ve made them into Paleo smoothies. They’re literally 90% of my diet. So why not include them in my Oscar party? They go great with guacamole for a healthier viewing snack.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150668 copy

My French boyfriend loves cheese, so I made sure to have a few different types to impress him. What I learned: It’s impossible to impress a French person with cheese bought in America.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150678 copy In.Soria.Oscars.0206150688 copy In.Soria.Oscars.0206150739 R* copy

Shut up and listen to Jared Leto’s hair.

I have a lot of performer friends, so watching awards shows with them is like watching a sing-along childrens program with a bunch of children with blabbing syndrome. I’m not a SHHHHusher (you know, people who are like “SHHHHHH!” all the time like old-school librarians), but I do enjoy watching the show so I try to lead by example and keep my mouth shut, no matter how ridiculous the speeches are or how ugly the dress is. There’s always time to share your thoughts with your friends after the show. Or you can just be a normal person and sit there sharing them on the internet the whole time you’re watching.

In.Soria.Oscars.0206150753 R* copy

I hate to leave off my tips by telling you to shut up, but I bet you agree. Sometimes it’s nice just to watch something together with your friends. In silence. While eating carbs.

Now hurry, there’s only a few days to go until you A) Find a glamourmansion or B) Plan your own simple (yet glam) get together. If you hate the Oscars, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe throw a fun party and just call it “brunch.” Or just give in, live a little, and host a lazy Oscarparty like an honest, hardworking American.

Love,
Orlando

Sources: The Bouqs, Ben Medansky, Crate & Barrel, Erika Gragg.

17 Comments

Filed under Decor, Life, Style

A Fizzy Glamourdrink to Ring in The New Year!

Photographs by Daniel Collopy

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 046 R*f

Dear New Years Resolvers,

I have to admit it, I’m not a huge New Years fan. I don’t know if it’s the reminder that another year has passed, that super depressing Auld Lang Syne song that makes me want to shove wrapping paper in my ears whilst sobbing, or just the fact that I’m usually over the holidays by the time it happens. Whatever the reason, New Years has never been my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t totally hate it. But if I was on the Titanic with New Years and all the other holidays, I’d probably reach out to save Christmas and Halloween first, allowing New Years to sink into the freezing depths of the ocean. No, New Years, you can’t get on my floaty piece of wood so that we can both drift to safety!

This year I’m looking forward to trying on some new New Years traditions. Mainly, I’m going low-key. Instead or going to Palm Springs with all the other LA Gays, or getting a limo to take me to EVERY PARTY IN TOWN, I’m going t0 sit in a house in Sonoma County, drinking and laughing with a small group of people I hold dear. For this momentous, albeit much tamer New Years, I’ve concocted my very own signature cocktail using my brand new SodaStream Play Machine.

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143881 R*f

To test out drink recipes, I created a cocktail workshop fit for a cocktail maniac. I went crazy buying fruit and garnishes for the drinks, but I wanted to experiment. Something I’ve learned over my 10+ years as a legal drinker is that citrus makes everything taste fresher, better. So I wanted to make sure I added citrus to whatever drink I concocted. Another must: bubbles! I used the SodaStream Play, along with some of their classic syrups, to create effervescent, refreshing drinks. I just got this machine, so I have to admit it was kind of exciting for me to use. Being able to make your own bubbly water makes you feel kind of like a superhuman (as an aside, this machine also has the ability to be covered in adorable interchangeable Play Skins, which you can buy online and change by the season, which makes you feel even more like a superhuman).

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 070

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 081 R*f

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 090 R*f

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 149 R*f

A.Soria_SodaStream.121714 122 R*f

Now, onto the recipes…

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143903 R*f

Cranberry Citrus Refresher

1 liter SodaStream Sparkling Water

2 ounces SodaStream Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Flavor Syrup

1 1/2 cups Vodka (I used Barr Hill Vodka)

1 cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Fresh Rosemary and Cranberry for garnish

Instructions: To make sparkling water, fill a one liter SodaStream container with filtered (or just regular  tap) water. Screw onto SodaStream Play machine and add two carbonation pumps. Add SodaStream Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Flavor Syrup. In a serving carafe, add vodka, orange, and lemon juice to the sparkling cranberry juice and garnish in individual glasses with rosemary and cranberries.

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143934 R*f

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143935 R*f

Since this post is about New Years beverages, I thought it was only right to include a beverage to drink New Years Day, when you have a mega-hangover and spend the entire day yearning to be placed in a sensory depravation chamber, forever. Because you’ll be braindead, this drink is simpler. It’s good old classic ginger ale. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can infuse it with actual ginger root, which I did. This aids in digestion, soothes the stomach, and makes you feel slightly less like you want to stab yourself in the face with a sword.

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143911

Infused Sparkling Ginger Ale

1 liter SodaStream Sparkling Water

2 ounces SodaStream Ginger Ale Flavor Syrup

Fresh ginger root, sliced into rounds for steeping, sticks for garnish

Instructions: Add SodaStream Ginger Ale Flavor Syrup to carbonated water in a serving carafe. Add sliced ginger root rounds and garnish individual drinks with pre-cut ginger sticks.

A.Soria_SodaStream.1217143929 R*f

 There you have it. All you need to get drunk on New Years Eve and to recover on New Years Day. Have fun!

Love,
Orlando

PS: Special thanks to my beautiful friend Alexis, who allowed me to use her lovely house for the shoot.

This is a sponsored post, made possible by the generosity of SodaStream

4 Comments

Filed under Style

My Friends Made This So Now You Have To Watch It: ‘Paragon School for Girls’

Film Stills Courtesty Paragon School for Girls

paragon-7Dear Anyone Who Is Listening,

Hello? Are you still there? It’s me, Orlando, calling you from inside the “Internet.” Anyway, a long time ago my friend Jim showed me this web series he was developing called Paragon School for Girls and I was like YOU HAVE TO PUT THIS ON THE INTERNET IMMEDIATELY. So he finally did. JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN! And now you can enjoy it.

Have you ever fantasized about living in a dollhouse? If so, you’re going to be obsessed wit this. If not, there is something wrong with you. The whole thing takes place in the dollhouse where everything is miniature. My friend Emily freaks out every time she sees something mini, so I have the feeling she is going to totally die when she sees this.

It’s super playful and fun to watch. Check out these ridiculous stills:

paragon-5

paragon-2

paragon-4

paragon-1

paragon-3

The cast is pretty amazing, especially considering they were all shot separately in front of a green screen, alone, by themselves. Lots of my friends are in it: Jeffery Self, Drew Droege, Sam Pancake, Seth Canterbury, Jack Plotnick, Bryan Safi, and Jim Hanson (who also wrote, directed, and edited the whole thing). If you watched United States of Tara or GBF you’ll also recognize Michael Willet, who is awesome and who I am now obsessed with. (Full cast here).

The series is THE must-watch web series of the fall, so put down your Gardenburger Breakfast Sliders, go into a dark room, and watch the whole series from beginning to end.

CLICK HERE TO BE DIRECTED TO ‘PARAGON’ WEB SERIES SITE

Love,
Orlando

4 Comments

Filed under Decor, Style

Interior Design Magazine’s Designers to Follow on Instagram

5cjx9VPUnI4TxdimjJPpGtplCH5nuJ9FIElPgI4F8DQDear Instangrandmas,

I’ve had a lot of luck in with my Instagram account lately. I’ve been added to a few fun “Design Instagramers to Watch” lists, including Buzzfeed and DesignSponge. The latest of these lists I’ve magically been included on is Interior Design Magazine’s list of 15 Inspiring Designers to Follow on Instagram. They created their list in collaboration with a mobile mood board creation app called Morpholio, so each designer was tasked with creating a mood board representing their brand (see mine above). Below is the list of Interior Design Magazine’s list, along with each designer’s mood board:

67OBB6-ev5YyB5KntT5QFQepu7hLL31o6Zf61WloJYU

Kemble Interiors

tSATVZc5Huffyjc-DrjAAoQUKps6vJF9uPWT56ujLMA

Miles Redd

zMzDaIgOIB6Ez3wSZysL8_y9W3Ir4pb9LpI9DVzXiv0Frances Loom

_1cIG_r17j4BNPmeT7W0cMXqdMrDen-xlbiJy4McEMU

Vicente Wolf

5MVhH-nV8hnQY5gWpnMEHB2AzkkVwnimc4OSvJO1qjwJersey Ice Cream Co.

9-P7zFH0RsWs72kTdARkgAVX37IGmBKf6Y2S8uUaWq8

Angela Kounnas

A_RwjG5jOct1W5l2syrPDnMcb88jSP6RH7a20pN0Ifk

Kyla Bidgood

gbtytRCw2DPNRiaWsAwP2qJF0jmLJ6LeLeQgnjdpnEMEddie Ross

h-XVibVJAWQOvNIuAhDNOqMAPlzsAq4E8XcJ1Dq32p0

Knibb Design

U1997Mpb6oHZIqZsexFxmdquBDyVj2rsPTsWDoMwOasIndia Hicks

ulpje65SBvUZ6DYiHXb8WYavAZRm7J7qRLW5Hd97wKA

Martyn Lawrence Bullard

vxqxafjui3Px_hk7j2l8DM4wU8dXDOAnp0u9o_kHyZAFlodeau

yonQZH1lSJyz84cRWiSaSPjmQ9JRnZVDiRe2Prk5qBY

Bonni Whyte Interiors

WsaA1pCJd9jrtq6xL-0nY-bsYZ67M4hkt24QYKprkmA

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Go check out all these Insta accounts immediately. Also, check out the @homepolish account, which is obviously another one of my faves.

Love,
Orlando

3 Comments

Filed under Decor, Life, Style