Happy Caturday: Proof That Cat People Are Crazy

I’m not saying that a painting of our cat as the pope is at all a sane thing to ask for. But we did ask for it, and we received.

A friend of E’s does paintings like this for fun — cats, dogs, whatever animal you have he can then turn them into a superhero, your favorite celebrity, or the pope, for example. So when E heard this, he asked for one of Fish.

At this point, we’re planning to make some dedicated wall space for paintings of Fish. Because we already have a beautiful likeness of her, painted by E’s mom (see below), and I don’t expect the paintings to stop anytime soon. Fish is quite the muse, after all.  

Sorry, just got lost in my own reflection. #livingthatmuselife #catsofinstagram #catart #imsohot

A photo posted by Fish (@acatcalledfish) on

What I’ve Learned From Writing A Book

I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve been working on a book for a long time, because I was so terrified something might go wrong, but I’m ready to talk about it. (Stay with me here.)

Writing a book

So… I’M WRITING A BOOK! I’m sure anyone who gets a book deal will say this, but I’ve always wanted to write a book, and it’s so exciting that when I think about it my throat catches and I feel like I might scream. I’M SO EXCITED.

It’s a humor how-to guide called Womanskills, and it will likely hit bookshelves next October, or so my editor tells me. (My Editor, this is such a nice thing to say.)

I’ve quietly been writing the outline, which was approved. Then I wrote the first chapter, which has now been approved. And I’ll be working on the rest of the book over the next few months. It’ll all be done by January, and because I’ve been happily thrown into this, I feel like I now have some takeaways.

  • Procrastination and writer’s block will happen. Like, you think that maybe turning on HGTV for “background noise” will help you get in the zone, and then an hour later you realize your new zone is just watching TV. Personally, I’ve tried to put a time limit on those things, so if I start procrastinating, I give myself an hour, then it’s back to writing and turning off the internet. See evidence of procrastination below:

Decided to take a selfie while working on my book, because I’ve run out of ways to procrastinate. 📖📚💻

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

    • It’s OK to not talk about your book until you’re really ready to do so. I took a full month to tell people. I mean, I immediately told my cat, E, my parents, my closest friends, and sometimes would just mumble it to myself, but I didn’t start conversations with it. It’s totally fine to be nervous, and to keep exciting things close to you. And yes, people will be mad that you didn’t tell them, saying things like, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” but like, pat them on the back and reassure them that your crippling anxiety really needed this secrecy.

 

  • However, at some point you should let yourself be excited and share the great news. (See this blog post, for example.)

 

 

  • Find a spot that really makes you want to write. I used to think that spot was on my couch, until I kept trying to watch TV. Then I tried my bed, and I kept napping. But the library? Yes, I work quite well in a library. Libraries are quiet and there’s no TV, which for me was basically what I needed. #librariesforever

 

 

  • And when you do something, like find your idea for a book, or finish an outline or a chapter or a whole book, celebrate by doing something you had to put off while writing. Like on Sunday I submitted my chapter, so I watched episodes of Hannibal and sat in my pajamas without typing. That was totally lovely.

 

 

4 Important Things I’ve Learned About Wedding Planning (So Far)

I have been engaged for all of three months, but I’m already feeling like an expert on this wedding planning thing. Maybe it’s because I’m completely Type-A, and therefore all of my big wedding decisions were made within a month, or… Yeah, no, it’s because I’m Type-A.

In the process of booking a venue, finding a day-of coordinator, and making reservations at six bridal stores to find a dress, I feel like I now have some newfound knowledge. The problem with my knowledge is that after I get married it’ll be completely useless. So for anyone planning a wedding, or thinking about a wedding, or just wanting practical event planning tips, I have some sharing-is-caring tips for you:

Wedding Advice

  • Take people’s advice, and ask for it early on. I actually wish I’d done this a bit sooner, because people have been through this circus before you, and they’re more than happy to impart this otherwise useless knowledge that they’ve absorbed. So ask, and you will receive a lot of gems. (FWIW, A Practical Wedding has been life changing for me.)
  • Become friends with Google docs. I’ve heard and seen on Pinterest that lots of women make binders (binders FILLED with weddings!), but you’ll want the digital version of the binder. I have a wedding folder that has spreadsheets for our guest list, venue options, cake options, DJ options… so many goddamn options. And if you actually want a physical binder, just print out your Google docs. They come in handy when you get a random call from a vendor at 11 on a Tuesday and need to remember what you discussed previously.
  • Weddings can be so expensive. All of the little details and things you must have for the day of… But basically, you can just say “eff it” to a lot of these. No one will hold it against you if you decide not to spend $500 on guest favors. No one loves Jordan almonds THAT much.
  • When you feel stressed about planning, it’s time to take a “let’s celebrate!” break with your partner. People will tell you, “This is supposed to be fun! Relax!” and they have all the best intentions in the world when they say this, but it’s also ignoring the fact that planning a big event comes with stresses. So, take breaks. For us, this has meant a few things. Sometimes we’ll open a bottle of champagne that we were given as an engagement gift and have a Netflix date. And one night we went to the restaurant where we had our first date and told them we were getting married. (Which led to free appetizers, and a free bottle of champagne to take home.) Basically, relax and drink when you need to. And you will need to.

Any advice I missed, marrieds or people planning things? Please share in the comments!

How Our Cat Helped My Fiance Propose

Fiance? Fiancee? I never know, but I think the man gets one “e,” right?

Anyhow, I’m engaged. To be married. It’s so freaking exciting that sometimes I just smile to myself in a super creepy way while alone in my living room. There we go, I’m doing it right now. Creepy smile time.

Engaged

If you don’t give a flying monkey’s butt about gushy proposal stories, then tag yourself out of this post, because here comes the sappy…. I’ll give you a moment to decide… Done? Cool! Let’s talk about the proposal, because it was awesome, and adorable, and totally perfect.

OK, so for our 3-year-anniversary, E and I went to Ojai, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house. It’s all beautiful mountains, and quaint little country stores, and I heard Reese Witherspoon has a house there, so… so…

Yeah, so we went! And we stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (if you’re into all-inclusive things, then this is the place for you!). The first day we were there, we had some massages scheduled, and we decided to grab some food and celebratory cocktails before those happened. See that drink in the photo below? It was lavender lemonade with vodka or something, and it was glorious.

EngagedCocktail

It was so glorious, in fact, that promptly after drinking it we got in our spa robes, and I proceeded to fall asleep on one of the chaise lounges at the spa. (Note: While I was sleeping the drink off, E later told me that he was running through his proposal speech over and over again, so he’d get it right when he finally did propose. I was so day drunk! And blissfully unaware!)

So we get these massages, which were epic, and then hobble back to our hotel room. It was about 6 p.m., and we had dinner reservations at the hotel for 8 p.m. As I showered and blowdry’d the old hair, apparently E was busy tucking the ring inside his coat pocket, and having a mini panic attack (probably).

Something you discover about Ojai pretty quickly is that the people take great pride in their sunsets. They call it the “pink moment,” and our hotel even had a sign out front that predicted when the moment would happen. So we decided to try and go see it, because it was our anniversary, and sunsets are so romantical, and we’re cheesy as hell, OK?

My feet hurt, though. And it was a long walk up the hill to see that pink moment. So I flagged down a golf cart (yes, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is all about golfing, and you can do things like hitchhike with one).

This probably disturbed E for two reasons:

  1. He had a plan, and this random golf cart driver didn’t know about that plan, and…
  2. Wow, it’s probably going to happen very quickly.

Luckily, this driver was a pro. Like, he knew exactly where to find that pink moment. When he first tried to drop us off, it was in a super crowded spot, and when E said, “Is there anywhere more private?” that probably should’ve tipped me off. But it didn’t. La di da, blissfully unaware still.

We eventually got to the top of a hill, where there was an enormous gazebo with floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a panoramic view of the mountains, about to be dusted in pink. We were alone, inside the gazebo, staring off into the sunset, when E turned me around so he could give me his proposal speech.

I’m not going to recite the actual speech, because it was very personal, and made me cry, and I don’t want other people sobbing while reading, but I WILL share the most important part of that speech. Which is that at one point, E told me he’d been talking to Fish (our cat) about our future together, and they’d both come to an agreement. At this point, I had no idea what was going on, I thought he was just being gushy. But then he pulled out his phone, and showed me this picture…

CatRing

It was our baby kitty girl! And a ring! And she was next to it! And A RING.

I started sobbing. Just like, balling my eyes out. I cried so much that I didn’t even notice E get down on one knee and ask, “Will you marry me?” He had to ask me again, once I’d pulled myself a little more together. But I was so surprised, like, I don’t know how to explain the feeling of your heart exploding into other little hearts, but that’s what happened to me. I really was so overwhelmed with joy and love that it manifested in me sobbing through most of the proposal.

One of the first things I said AFTER the “yes!!” was “This is so weird, right?! I mean, how weird is this?!” Getting engaged is WEIRD. Like, why don’t more people talk about this? It’s probably one of the strangest moments of joy you’ll ever encounter. One minute your life is one way, and the next a ring on your finger means a total relationship shift.

I had no idea what to do.I called my mom. She was watching The Messengers, and tried to usher me off the phone so she could get back to it. Then when she realized what I was saying, I think she went into shock, as did my Dad. E said, “If you’re too emotional to eat, we can get room service,” to which I said, “Oh no, we’re eating!” I knew that I wanted to celebrate, and I knew that I wanted to remember the rest of that night. We got complimentary champagne and desserts — PRO TIP: TELL EVERYONE YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED, AND ALL THINGS ARE FREE — and watched the pink moment turn into a lovely, starry sky.

EngagementRing

OK, that’s the end of the sappy proposal story. We spent the rest of the weekend wine tasting, and eating, and telling our friends the good news. Oh, and we watched an episode of Game of Thrones when we got back, so that’s really just the icing to a perfect weekend, right?

Happy Anniversary, E!

E and I are celebrating our 3-year anniversary this weekend! ::: cue choir of angels flying down from heaven to sing, “Thank you, Sweet Sassy Christ” :::

I’m very lucky to have someone like E, who makes me laugh, knows how to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down, can cook some SERIOUSLY bomb steak, looks super cute when cuddling with our cat, is an absolutely fantastic writer, and most importantly: is an EXCELLENT dancer.

While going through old photos, I found these gems from my 28th birthday party in 2013. That was the first birthday I celebrated with E, and we went to this really awesome dive bar by my then-apartment in West Hollywood.
moredance

By that time, I already knew the truth: E is hands down a truly genius dancer. There’s really no way to describe it, and the photos certainly don’t do it justice. But you can kind of get a sense of his skills by how happy I look here, right?

 

dance

Three years and he still makes me smile every single day — I hope and try to do the same thing for him. Happy anniversary, E!

dancey

Words Everyone Should Live By

You never know where the hell you’ll find inspiration. For me it was this past week when I went to get a new haircut.

My hairdresser had this Nelson Mandela quote at her station. She’d written it down on a notecard, and stuck it in the frame of her mirror. I have no idea what it means to her, but I know what it meant to me when I first read it.

Nelson MandelaWhen I saw this, it made me think back on all of the choices I’ve made in my life that felt like a leap of faith — convincing my parents that studying writing in college could lead to an actual paying job, quitting my coveted job as an assistant on a TV show (The Secret Circle, RIP) to start my career writing online, moving from New York to Los Angeles without a job lined up (or an apartment, for that matter).

I can also distinctly remember dating in my early twenties, and how many shitty relationships I stayed in for way too long because I was afraid of being alone.

I guess the major difference is when I remember the choices I made out of fear, I always regret them. I can’t think of any decisions I made based on hope that I now regret.

What choices changed your life for the better? I want to know! Inspire me!

9 Reasons Why Sheila Is Nailing This Mom Thing

I realize this is a bold statement. I mean — moms are cool, in general, and we’re blessed to have so many of them. But if you disagree with the above claim, then you clearly have never met Sheila La Rosa.

There literally aren’t enough ways to count why Sheila is the best, but I’ll condense into the…

Top 9 Ways Sheila Rocks This Mom Thing:

1. My Mom is actually the hardest working person I’ve ever known. Because she’s Irish — and Irish people are frugal as all hell — my grandparents never gave her any handouts. She paid her own way through college and nursing school to become a RN in the emergency room, and she’s made certain to never have any debts. In fact, when she went to apply for a credit card in her thirties — up to then, she only ever paid for everything in cash — they wouldn’t give her one because she had no debts or credit to her name. Fun times!

She taught me to love science and not just be good at things, but to be the best at things. I only work as hard as I do now because of her example.

The La Rosas are hot stuff on infrared light.

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

2. She pushed my brother and me OUT OF HER BODY. I realize this is not unique, as most moms experience this, but come on — she pushed TWO BABIES OUT. That’s saying something. fam

3. Sheila La Rosa is hilarious. Seriously, she’s the best storyteller I know. One of my friends came to visit our house one Christmas, and after my mom told a story about sending my brother and me to Montessori school as kids, and what a harrowing experience that was, my friend was crying from laughter. She said, “I totally get it now — I see where you get your sense of humor from.” sheshe

4. On that note, my mom is the original queen of SHADE. If you need proof, skip to 1:10 of this tequila taste test video we did for BuzzFeed.  

5. Did I mention how glam my Mom is?mum

I mean, that blond hair, those shades, her porcelain skin… mom

She deserves her own reality show, if not her own network, magazine, and lifestyle blog. She gives new meaning to “Mombod” and “Mom Style.” Basically, she’s the epitome of #MomGoals.

 

6. Oh, and she beat breast cancer. Yeah, she kicked breast cancer’s ass! momma

7. Sheila taught me the importance of chutzpah (she grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Queens, hence chutzpah). My Mom has always loved real estate and when I was a kid, we used to sneak into houses that were under construction. If we were caught (and we often were), she’d think of an excuse on the spot, “Oh, I was hoping to speak with the architect — I’m building my own home and just love the tile work.” I’ve talked my way into more things than I can say without incriminating myself, including a few under-construction homes of my own, all because of my Mom’s chutzpah.  

Off to Catalina with Bill and Sheila. ⚓️

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

8. My Mom knows how to have a good time. Every Christmas, she and my dad host a holiday party, and every July 4th she has all of her friends over for barbecue to watch the fireworks set off over the water. Mommy

9. And probably the most important reason of all reasons as to why my Mom is the greatest is that she managed to raise my brother and I into fairly upstanding adults. 

My family. At my cousin’s wedding. Bringing all the damn fierceness. A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on


My brother perhaps a little more so than me, as he’s now a doctor and all!

Happy Mother’s Day to the world’s best mom!! Thank you for making me who I am today. I love you so very much.

Happen to agree that Sheila is the best?! Let her know in the comments!

On My Life As A Writing Impostor

I recently read this non-fiction book called The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, which I really loved. It’s a book of essays about a lot of things, like the author communicating with a prison penpal and trying to understand what his life is like, Leslie’s one-time job as a medical actor and having to elicit empathy from the med students, dating a poet in New Orleans and dealing with the way he described his feelings…

Leslie also talks at length about being a writer. She says the phrase, “while writing this essay,” frequently in the book, and acknowledges that her job is writing.

This bothered me.

I also realized that in Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, it had bothered me when Amy referenced writing a book, or the act of having to write and how hard it was. That bothered me even more.

But why did it bug me? What is so wrong with someone acknowledging that they are a writer when, in fact, I’m reading their book? It’s not some secret. It’s a book. I’m reading it. They wrote it. So why not mention that they’re a writer? It’s part of their life, and I was reading about their life.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and the problem isn’t Leslie or Amy, it’s me. I’ve always been uncomfortable calling myself a writer. So when I see other people do it so effortlessly, it pains me, because I wish I could do that too.

Having a reading of a musical I’m developing with @lydjaaah and @jhotogo today. (Squeeee!!)

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

I remember when I first moved to LA, I went to lunch with a successful musician friend —successful in that he gets paying gigs regularly and that’s his sole source of income. Anyway, I was asking his advice on what to do with my life: I wanted to be a writer, but how? And was it even possible? I just wanted to be paid to write full-time. That was my dream. ~The dream~

He told me something so important. He said, “Stop saying you want to be a writer, and say that you are a writer. You are a writer.”

He told me that if I wanted to get jobs — and I did — then I shouldn’t tell people I was “an aspiring writer,” because no one wants to hire an aspiring anything. They want to hire the real thing.

I took his advice, and the more I started cover letters with “I’m a writer,” the more I got paid to write. When people asked what I did for a living, I answered, “I’m a writer,” even if I only had one paying job that month, and even when I was in grad school, working to become a writer and felt so far away from success. “I’m a writer” became part of my conversations. But every time I said it, I felt like an impostor. My friend told me, essentially, to fake it till I made it, and that’s exactly how I still feel a lot of the time: like I’m a fake.

I was so bothered by this recently that I actually Googled “writing impostor” LOL. Like, what the hell was I expecting to find, really?! I’m not sure, but what I did find was this article on The Hairpin, quite literally titled, “Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?” I clicked the shit out of that.

Turns out that the author, Jazmine Hughes, was describing exactly how I felt. She had her work published places, she’s an editor and writer, and yet… is that enough?

I’ve written for BuzzFeed, Funny or Die, Ecorazzi, E!, and Storychord, among other places. My dream of being paid to write is actually happening for me. I am paid to write. So… aren’t I a writer now? Yeah… but I just still feel so much phoniness even typing that. It helped to see that “Impostor Syndrome” is actually a thing. It was comforting to read other people’s experiences with it (including some of my BuzzFeed colleagues’), and know that I’m NOT ALONE. But to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what it would take for me to say the words “I’m a writer” and feel confident in that.

Maybe I’ll never feel truth in those words, because being a writer has been the thing I’ve wanted my entire life. I’ve built it up so much, that maybe nothing will ever be quite good enough. Regardless, I will always remember my friend’s advice: say you’re a writer. You are a writer. Fake it.

So, hello, my name is Erin La Rosa. I’m a writer. (We’re in this together if you also have these feels.)

The Easiest and Prettiest 5-Minute Salad You’ll Ever Make

I’m half Italian, which means half of my body is made entirely of mozzarella cheese and tomato. Which is exactly why this is one of my favorite salads to make. (It can be a starter salad, or a full-on meal, depending on how many layers you make!)

Tomato and MozzarellaI LOVE fresh mozzarella. The stringed kind is fucking great too, but there’s really nothing better than the fresh stuff. It’s delicate, soft, and pairs super well with tomatoes.

A tomato and mozzarella salad is really light but also incredibly tasty. (I actually had this one for dinner last night, because we’d had a heavy BBQ lunch.) Plus, it looks so pretty on a plate that people will think you’re some kind of chef unicorn and assume you put a lot of time and effort into this salad. It literally takes 5 minutes, maybe 3 if you’re an EXPERT.

Did I mention the ingredients you need to buy are just really tomato and fresh mozzarella? (Assuming you have all the other stuff.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (serves 2):
  • 1 container of fresh mozzarella in water (look for one that has 2 sizable mozzarella balls, not the ones with a munch of minis!)
  • 2 red, ripe tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette
Directions:
  1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly, then cut them into smallish flat slices. (Each slice should look like a pizza pie crust, because pizza is great.)
  2. Remove the mozzarella balls from the water, and cut them into slices.
  3. Take out a plate and layer your salad with a mozzarella slice, then tomato, mozzarella slice, then tomato. (Each plate should get 1 mozzarella ball, and one fully sliced tomato.)
  4. Sprinkle your masterpiece with plenty of pepper.
  5. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each plate.
  6. Drizzle a tablespoon of balsamic over each place.
  7. Finish with a sprinkling of salt over everything. (I use a lot of salt, but I really love salt.)
  8. Garnish with basil or fresh spinach if you’re feeling fancy.

Anyone who eats this at your table will think you’re the fanciest cook ever, I promise. Plus, it tastes so fresh and wonderful. Enjoy!

9 Things My Cat and I Currently Disagree On

Fish is stubborn. Which can be an amazing quality, and also a terribly misguided one. She’s basically on that, “I am right, you’re totally wrong, and you’re lucky to breathe the same air as me” grind.

For example…

1. Fish is under the impression that instead of simply using her litter box, (the way a human would, for example, use a toilet each time they needed a bathroom), that she also has free rein to use the rug in our bedroom as a de facto litter box. She is simply wrong about this, as our rug is A RUG, and not meant to be soiled on.

2. Fish believes that when she brings one of her cat toys into the bed at 3 a.m., that I will happily wake up, play with her for a solid 30 minutes, and easily doze back to sleep. In fact, that’s not the case at all. I’m not sure where or how she came by this misinformation.

3. When I eventually DO wake up in the morning, Fish will follow behind and meow loudly on a loop, because she thinks that if she takes a breath and stops meowing EVEN FOR A SECOND, that I will no longer offer her food. In some ways, her meows do indeed make me move faster, but I would perhaps provide even more food if she stopped yelling at me.

4. Fish is convinced that outside of our apartment door lies a portal to another dimension where there is endless belly rubs, fresh tuna, and trees that undoubtedly (IF CLIMBED) offer a stairway to cat paradise. She likes to attempt escapes every time I come home from work, and will often succeed. What she fails to remember, is that outside of our door there are no rugs to poop on.

5. Fish thinks my hands, nose, ankles, calves, and jewelry are all OK to bite, because they are in fact her toys. These are actually my body parts/toys, and she couldn’t be more wrong.

6. I attempted to eat some Oreos while watching TV, and upon seeing these, she became convinced that they were delicious, and hers, and MUST have them. While Oreos are vegan, they are not for cats.

7. Fish has long believed that by standing on at least one of my boobs while I try and fall asleep, that I will, in turn, want to pet her. She doesn’t seem to connect me pushing her off the bed to this belief.

8. Fish is certain that the shower is an evil monster, and that by standing outside of it and pacing, I will be released. This is half correct, and also half baked.

9. Perhaps the theory that Fish is most confused by is her hypothesis that when she stares out the window at the street below, that she’s also wearing an invisibility cloak and no one can see her. E and I disproved this theory the other night as we came home from dinner and saw her silhouette, watching, waiting, and most likely laughing at us.