Tapas & Talking Points

Tapas & talking points

Tapas & talking points

We met last year with No Kid Hungry and now here we are. Welcome to LA, Silvie Snow! And, what a way to kick it off with tapas & talking points for two at Pour Haus Wine Bar.

From new chapters to new presidents, politics to pretty products, philanthropy to family, public policy to peppers, ideation to idiocy, and cheese to changing the world, we think we have it just about covered.

Sure, it might sound silly, but we don’t think so.

After all, it really does take just one forward thinker – with their heart in the right place – armed with a pocketful of prowess, a half-tablespoon of chutzpah and a gallon of gumption to make a real difference in this world. Watch us go. 🙌

 

Friday Friendspiration: Jolie Williams Augustine

Friday Friendspiration is all about living a life you love, within the life you have been given.

Today’s Friday Friendspirer, Jolie Williams Augustine, does just that.

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

Friday Friendspiration with Jolie Augustine

This is Jolie girl to me: the totally COOLEST girl ever. See, I met Jolie when I was in 5th grade, and she was dating my big brother, at the end of their senior year. When you’re 11 – well, let’s be honest – anyone older is cooler than you. So, when I moved out to LA in 2000, and discovered that Jolie lived out here, I was eager to see if her “coolness” had, well, kept.

It had.

I have been friends with Jolie for over 15 years now – going from a puppy-like girl, just wanting to impress her (as one of my big brother’s old girlfriends), to a fellow woman who admires this beautiful (editor’s note: Jolie would never refer to herself as “beautiful,” but I think it’s fine time she accepts the truth), fun, free-spirited, thoughtful, generous, music-loving, and, yes – COOL – woman, who lives in this same crazy world of Los Angeles that I do.

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

Jolie and me…at a show, no doubt. I wanna say this was Counting Crows? Wallflowers?

A teacher, she has taught me so much – not in a classroom – but through heartfelt conversations, musings over mimosas, and dozens of hours spent boogeying down to our favorite bands. That’s probably my favorite thing about Jolie: she’s always up to dance with you at a show, like all good Texan girls should be.

I’m so privileged to be on this journey together with her.

That’s Jolie girl in my words.

But, this is Jolie girl in her own words.

May her love of life, giving heart, spontaneous spirit – and perpetual willingness to dance – sing some music into your life, today.

***

The Friendspirer: Jolie Williams Augustine

Creating space. I live in Los Angeles, and have been teaching in public schools for 20 years, and recently took a two-year break for various reasons. I am very good at “keeping with the program” and life threw me some curve balls these past 2 years. The loss of my parents left a weirdly-shaped hole in my heart. I recently saw these words: “Instead of asking why they left, now ask, what beauty will I create in the space they no longer occupy?” Whoa. Parents take up a very significant space. So with them being gone and taking time off, life has felt a bit unnerving – and very peaceful – but also has made me ask myself “what do I want to do with this time – and, essentially – my life?” This answer is a work in progress, as we all are.

The world according to Jolie

The world according to Jolie

On the “glamour” of teaching. I have enjoyed the lifestyle teaching has given me, which includes: watching teenagers feel awkward, making them laugh…and listening to them, making music playlists (see link to her playlist gift to you at bottom), and playing music in class, read and discuss literature and most importantly, yes, time for travel and breaks. Working with teenagers is far from glamorous, and there is no room for ego or perfection. Parents and teachers know this and I have decided that working with young people, although humbling, is also a profound gift, and the rewards are subtle but many. One of these is pictured below. A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it’s nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

 

* A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it's nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

* A former student wrote this about me 5 years after I had her as a student. I am not sure she was in my class the entire year but it’s nice to know she connected to me and the class. She is now majoring in Literature and Medicine!

On wanderlust: cool things will follow. I have bit of a wanderlust and thankfully, my husband of 17 years tolerates my wishes to go somewhere or come along and make it an adventure. Yes, I love hotels and massages but I would much rather go somewhere where I don’t know where to go, maybe the people don’t speak english and cool things will follow. It know that most people my age do have tremendous responsibilities but some have lost the willingness (and maybe have fear?) to try something new, go somewhere different or meet new people. Thankfully, I have a small group of friends who do enjoy going to music festivals. YES, the average age is 15 at these festivals, but there is something exciting for me in seeing new music OUTDOORS, walking around and watching all the people. Most people my age cringe at the thought. I guess my friends and I have found a way to keep it simple, be comfortable, stay hydrated! and still get our groove on.

Jolie, getting her groove on

Jolie, getting her groove on

Keeping creatively inspired & California love. I have found that meeting new people, going to new places, and getting out of my comfort zone has kept me creatively inspired. I find new restaurants, music, books and places that I may never have found before. I don’t get wrapped up in details of things (maybe, that’s not a good thing?) but I know that especially today, people have appreciated my commitment to having fun and getting things done. I tend to make music playlists for people I have just met and will take up an offer for a visit. I love showing people around the city and California. Visits to a Korean spa,hiking, eating our way to Joshua Tree, Boyle Heights, the beach and Idylwild are all on the itinerary.  All the stressing and freaking out about the small things get you nowhere. Read any book by Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott, Jenny Lawson, Mary Karr, or Joan Didion and you will know this is true. Throw in David Sedaris, Sherman Alexie and Augusten Burroughs and you have my humorous life teachers.

 

Jolie and her "little sis" from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

Jolie and her “little sis” from Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters

Little sisters and homeboys. I spent the past year volunteering at Homeboy Industries, a gang rehabilitation organization, as a GED teacher and it reaffirmed my passion for teaching and connecting with people. I’ve lived in LA for 20 years and I have grown to really love and appreciate the good and bad of LA. It is very easy to separate oneself in LA based on neighborhoods and jobs but I have found the beauty being with people who make up a very significant part of LA and California and are generally overlooked. I have also been a part of the Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program for 7 years. I  met my  ‘little sis” when she was 11. It has been challenging at times to know how to help but sometimes I just need to know a visit to a bookstore, museum, a walk or getting ice-cream with someone can be just the thing needed. 

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn't have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

Jolie at 15, who probably wouldn’t have listened to 44-year-old Jolie…but should.

Dear 15 Me. I know that when I was 15-years-old (see evidence above), I probably wouldn’t have listened to advice from my 44-year-old self. I was having too much fun thinking of boys and listening to Duran Duran. But I would share:

1. Be kind to the kids people make fun of.

2. Live in a a foreign country once in your life.

3. You’ll find a boyfriend. Don’t worry.

4. Salads are actually good. Put down the Doritos.

5. Keep having fun even when you get older.

***Editor’s Note:
Jolie’s gift to you. 
Our first friendspirer to offer a gift to our readers, Jolie wanted to share her “Feel It” Spotify playlist with you all, HERE. As someone who has been introduced to numerous bands and countless songs by this music aficionado, I can say that it truly is a gift…so OPEN IT UP !

For you!! Jolie's "Feel It" playlist on Spotify

For you!! Jolie’s “Feel It” playlist on Spotify

Thanks for the friendspiration, Jolie. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.

Jolie and Rosie

Jolie and Rosie

xoxo,
Dawn

 

Friday Friendspiration: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

I talk a lot about these things:

Living a life you love.

Finding your bliss.

Pursuing your passion.

Carving out time for creativity.

Today’s Friday Friendspiration honoree is actually doing all of that.

In fact, this whole new column of Friday Friendspiration was INSPIRED by her.

Her name is Alexandra Anderson Conrad.

Friday Friendspiration: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

Friday Friendspiration: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

Back in April, I remember us sitting on a picnic bench at our friend Katie’s baby shower, and Alex telling me that she was inspired by the creative life I lead, and how she’d like to live a more creative life, as well. She was a new mom, a physician anesthesiologist, and she just wanted to expand her creative outlets a little. So, I think I told her about one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way, and I sent her a little good energy.

Well, the story didn’t end there.

On Instagram, I started seeing her post more and more of her drawings of her creative little creatures. And, then when the new year began, I saw that she had started an Instagram account, @MCcreatures, reserved as an online home for her creatures and artistic expression.

Well, hello there, @MCCreatures!

Well, hello there, @MCCreatures!

I was floored.

She did it. And, not just because of something I said, but it turns out that Alex’s creative spirit is surrounded by creative people, and there is nothing better for a creative soul than that.

Here’s the takeaway: If Alex can do it, leading a busy life as a career woman, healer, mom and wife, so can you.

Alex: The doctor in action. Scrubs and all.

Alex: The doctor in action. Scrubs and all.

Here’s a little Friday Friendspiration for you, to help you do just that.

The Friendspirer: Alexandra Anderson Conrad

A little about your life: I live in Los Angeles with my husband, our sweet dog, and our one year old son. My husband is a musician and editor, so I am constantly exposed to his creative process and support. My baby and dog are rad too.

A bit about your career: I am a physician anesthesiologist. For the most part I love my career because it fits some very different aspects of my personality. It gives me my adrenaline fix, it allows me to be SUPER organized and precise, it allows me to connect with people and provide comfort, it lets me really get into a zone and focus, and my hair never has to look good (because it never does).  I am empathetic to a fault, which makes me good at what I do but it also makes it pretty difficult emotionally. I also have anxiety that I can channel well with this line of work- you want your anesthesiologist to worry about and be prepared for anything! Worrying about others lets me escape my so-called problems. It always gives me perspective.

Carving out time for creativity: I have always had a desire to create; to be a part of that big dialogue. My creativity was pretty squashed for many years with studying, emotional ups and downs, and bad relationships. I also have to compartmentalize a whole lot of feelings and thoughts, as well as creativity, in order to function emotionally as a doctor. I’m easing back into it. I am able to use my creativity in my interactions with patients and colleagues under intense circumstances. I have recently come to recognize this as a creative process.

Creative support and inspiration: As far as making things, it really started up when I was pregnant with my son (now 12 months). I felt this enormous pressure to work things out and achieve some clarity while shaping a human. I also needed to relieve my stress and anxiety about the pregnancy (I am a worrier) and satisfy a new level of creative energy. It felt very important to me to reconnect with my creative voice and artistic side before becoming a mother. I wanted to get back in touch with my wonder and weirdness, for him. I want to be able to meet him in the world of fantasy and play. So I started drawing. I started making stamps and prints. I started painting. I started writing. My husband has been really supportive and encouraging on my little reentry. He always reminds me to just enjoy the process, as I tend to fixate on goals and judge myself. He always has words of wisdom with regard to the creative process that help me to relax a little and just let things happen, instead of spiraling out trying to figure out what my end game is or whether I am wasting my time.

What's NOT a waste of time? THIS guy.

What’s NOT a waste of time? THIS guy.

Your creations: I have gotten really into drawing little creatures. It started when I was pregnant, wanting to make cool black and white art for my baby’s nursery. Then I sort of realized that I was putting my anxiety and whatever else into these little critters. I have a lot of stored emotions from both my job and motherhood, and it’s good to get them out in a positive way.

Creative discipline: I try to just draw one thing a day, or write one thing a day. If it sucks, I just try to see it as an off day. I try to ask myself if it made me feel better. I also love Instagram, because it’s true that a picture (and a brief caption) are worth a thousand words. It’s a good creative outlet when pressed for time!

What goes on inside that mind? Guess you'll just have to check out Alex's Instagram account, @MCCreatures, to find out!

What goes on inside that mind? Guess you’ll just have to check out Alex’s Instagram account, @MCCreatures, to find out!

Alex’s 5 Friendspiration Revelations: I am inspired by everything! The tricky thing for me is allowing myself to be inspired instead of envious or discouraged. I constantly have to remind myself is there is room for everyone’s creative contributions, even mine.

1) I was really inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic Podcast episode with Brene Brown, especially when they talked about how unused creativity is not benign. Wow is that ever true. I also love listening to Ira Glass talk about The Gap. That is very encouraging!

2) I am tremendously inspired by my amazing husband who is so diligently creative it’s disgusting. Also, as an editor he has such a knack for story and getting to the important stuff. I’ve learned so much from his process, and his advice.

3) I am endlessly inspired by my amazing friends. I have really lucked out in that department. The women I know just blow my mind. Everyone is so open, supportive, hilarious, calming and brilliant. Where do I even begin? There are physicians, actors, writers, musicians, photographers, parents and just all around incredible humans. I have managed to surround myself with really genuinely great people.

4) I am inspired by my son!!!! Watching a baby’s mind be blown by the minutiae of the world is absolutely wonderful. I want to be on his level. Read the piece by Jason Lautenschleger about “How to Create Like A Baby”! That sums it up.

5) I love to be weird, aka, normal. I love to normalize being normal, especially in the glossy perfection of social media. I love to be real and connect with people. I think that is a big driving force. If I can reach one person with a silly drawing I made when I was freaking out about something, that is some real healing.

Alex being weird, aka, normal.

Alex being weird, aka, normal.

Thanks for the friendspiration, Alex. If we inspire one person today, we have done our job.

*Follow, and watch Alex’s creative journey, at @MCCreatures on Instagram, where you’ll see more little guys like this one.

Check out @MCCreatures for more of these guys!

Check out @MCCreatures for more of these guys!

xoxo,
Dawn

Sandra & Lynn…and Pamela: Body Image & Our Personal Power To Make The Choice

Today on my walk/run, I listened to my dear friend Lynn Chen’s The Actor’s Diet podcast from last year, and her guest was actress, Sandra Oh, of Grey’s Anatomy fame.

This perfectly imperfect fallen leaf reminded me of myself, and of all of us. Our imperfections make us beautiful.

This perfectly imperfect fallen leaf reminded me of myself, and of all of us. Our imperfections make us beautiful.

As I saw this perfectly imperfect fallen leaf on the ground, I found it to be no accident that Lynn and Sandra’s conversation about body image and the pressure of a preferred body type in Hollywood was playing in my headphones.

Lynn: “Do you believe the pressure to look a certain way exists…for real?”

Sandra: “The pressure exists, and the pressure cannot exist…at the same time. It comes down to ‘What voice am I going to follow?'”

Lynn: “How do you quiet that voice when it is screaming in your head?”

Sandra: “Sometimes, I give my voices a name, ‘OK, just breathe, Pamela. I can hear you, Pamela. I know you’re angry.”

I’ve heard Pamela in my head a few times too, I think.

Girl gets around.

I met Sandra Oh last spring, when we were both invited to a gifting meeting by a fashion designer, & our appointments were double-booked. So, we basically had to shop together, which some actresses of her caliber might not exactly be comfortable with. She was with her mom, who is beyond adorable, and to see them interact was the sweetest thing ever.

As the designer offered to give her everything, I was amazed at how genuinely grateful and gracious Sandra was.

There was no entitlement.

No ego.

No expectation.

Just gratitude.

I realized listening to the podcast today, how we really do have the choice of how we want to be.

Are we going to feel entitled and feel disappointed when life is short of our expectations?Are we going to feel let down by people who don’t live up to who we want them to be? Are we going to see billboards with women with less body fat – or a bigger cup size – than us – and then feel like less, or feel hate for our bodies?

I sure hope not.

And, I hope that more conversations like this can occur between all women and girls, so we can learn to calm those vicious voices in our own heads.

I also hope that when Pamela rears her head in Sandra’s head, she hears my voice of gratitude now.

Thank you for leading by example, lady. And, thank you, Lynn Chen & The Actor’s Diet, for giving us a platform on which that dialogue can occur.

xoxo,
Dawn

A country breakfast always feeds the soul

Southern country breakfasts always feed the soul.

Southern country breakfasts always feed the soul.

A great breakfast with a great friend, Chris Richards at The Hart and the Hunter.

As much as life is changing for both of us, a country breakfast always stays the same, fueling our bodies, filling our hearts and feeding our souls.

#TemptationsForever 💗 

 

Mistaken Adventures Are The Best Kind Of Adventures…

Sometimes mistaken adventures are the best kind of adventures...

Sometimes mistaken adventures are the best kind of adventures…

I have many a golden Lindsey memory that shine in my mind: late night parties with giant stuffed teddy bears and an impromptu Bill Withers dance party at the Lyric Theatre on a weeknight rank high.

But, this was the first one where we set off on a mistaken adventure and ended up bathed in golden light at sunset in a pumpkin patch on a farm.

Bathed in the harvest glow.

Bathed in the harvest glow.

 

Yes, I got the date wrong (SO wrong) on the charity dinner for my beloved Max Love Project, so my dear friend, Lindsey Vaerst and I drove all the way to Tanaka Farms in Irvine, only to find out that it’s…wait for it…in OCTOBER!! Ahhh. Didn’t even get the day right! (It’s October 24th NOT September 26th and tickets can be bought HERE for $150/person.)

Some might be frustrated or feel that a 3-hour round trip down the 405 is wasted time. Not us. We laughed. Oh, how we laughed! And then we took a picture, bathed in that gorgeous dusk light, to mark the moment – as though we could ever forget!

#MercuryRetrogradeIsReal #HonestLovesMax

Open Hearts, Can’t Lose: Goodbye, Sweet Ann!

It seems to be fate at work that my friendship with Ann started at Jan’s on Beverly, where she was my waitress 15 years ago, and ended here in America in a diner in North Hollywood, this past Saturday.

With Ann (center) and her friend, Sunny

With Ann (center) and her friend, Sunny

I met Ann when I was 22 and she was 53. I had just moved to LA that week. Ann says Buddhism saved her life in 1983 when she was in an abusive marriage and was about to commit suicide, and now she considers it her mission to spread the “magic” of Buddhism to everyone she meets so that they can share her joy.

Well I didn’t become a Buddhist today, as Ann had hoped, but I will say that she shared a chant with my mom and me 15 years ago that helps me fall asleep whenever I have a sleepless night, and calms me whenever I’m feeling restless or nervous. She also planted a huge seed of joy in my heart, that continues to grow.

I’m so grateful to have met her all those years ago, so thankful to have reconnected with her a few months ago, and am so sad for me (and happy for her) to see her go back to her native Thailand on Wednesday, where she will reunite with her husband, and retire, after working double shifts as a waitress for over 31 years.

I’m so proud that today I got to sit NEXT to Ann in a booth, and buy her and her friend Sunny lunch, instead of her bringing me my lunch. Full circle, indeed. The lesson here? Always be open. You never know the friends you will make in your day-to-day life, the lessons they will teach you, and the impact their spirits might have on you, so, keep your eyes, minds and hearts open. Always open.

Ann was one of my first friends in LA, and you know I don’t often believe in accidents. I’m a better person for knowing this angel we call Ann…better known in Thailand as Sarinya Chaimongkol.

p.s. I can’t wait to visit!

The Annual Girls’ Giftwrapping Party, featuring PJ Salvage pajamas

A very pastel cupcake Christmas at The Cupcake Palace

Last year, my friend Lindsey and I started a now-annual tradition: The Girlfriends Giftwrapping party. I brewed up one of my signature holiday cocktails (this year was my Homespun Spiced Butter Rum Eggnog), pick up some festive holiday cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and wrap gifts galore, thanks to my fun friends.

This year, we decided to make it a a pajama party and PJ Salvage upped the ante by sending some of their sweetest pjs – the Gingerbread Man flannel pj set

Me sipping some eggnog in my PJ Salvage Gingerbread Men pjs

and the Cake Party pj set (both $65)

The lovely Lindsey in PJ Salvage The Cake Party pjs

to play well with my pastel cupcake Christmas theme.

Oh ya know…just hiding behind the tree, sipping our eggnog. Normal.

We wrapped presents, thanks to GORGEOUS gift wrap from The Container Store.

No brown paper packages tied up with string. All pastel paper with pretty bows. Giftwrapping paper ℅ The Container Store

Toasted to the new year ahead with eggnog and nibbled on cupcakes and cookies from Magnolia Bakery.

My Spiced Butter Rum Eggnog teams up delightfully with Magnolia Bakery cupcakes and holiday spritz cookies

And just had some good old Christmas fun…even a gift wrap sword fight!

Sword fight! It has to happen every year in my house.

It was a good chance to take a moment in the midst of a busy season, enjoy some delicious drinks, eats and conversation.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope the magic of Christmas brings you jolliness and joy!

 

xoxo,
BF

BF Asks: How are you celebrating Christmas this year? 

Holiday Up Your Bakery-Bought Cakes

Few things are as sweet as old friends…but this Society Bakery-bought vanilla Christmas cake came close. I didn’t have time to bake for a holiday tea party with girlfriends, as I had planned, so I just hopped by Society, bought a cake and a gingerbread man and put that little guy right on top for a little additional holiday whimsy. Really easy way to dress up your holiday cake? Christmas cookies as toppings! #ItLooksLikeHesStuckInSnow

Fast, easy way to decorate a bakery-bought cake? Christmas cookies.

 

xoxo,

BF

BF Asks: How do you “holiday up” your desserts?


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