What I’m Thankful For This Christmas

Mom And Dad

  • I’m thankful for my Dad and Mom, who gave me a sense of humor and storytelling.

My Mom is the storyteller. She knows what details to add, how to give other people funny voices, and exactly where the big punchline should be. She doesn’t know how funny she is, which is the best part. Her jobs when she was younger never involved storytelling; she was a registered nurse, mostly. So I’m not sure where she got her talents, but I’m glad that she passed them on to me.

My Dad, on the other hand, is all about snappy one-liners. He’s also an eccentric dude, which kind of lends itself to comedy.

One of my favorite stories of theirs has involved our neighbors, the Sweeneys. They don’t get along with my parents, and vice versa. The Sweeneys are older, and move as if their bodies have been filled with slow drying cement. My parents are younger, and my Dad listens to classic rock while smoking cigars and cooking fish. They’re just different people.

But one year, to piss off the Sweeneys, my Dad custom ordered a dozen or so posters of Frank Zappa, a classic rocker, quite literally pooping on a toilet. He called it his “Frank Zappa On The Crappa” posters. My Mom and Dad carefully hung each one in every window that faced the Sweeneys house. And every night, they’d turn on flood lights to highlight the posters. Eventually, the Sweeneys took notice, called my parents, and asked if they knew that there were pictures of a naked man in their window. My parents said yes, and promptly hung up the phone, cackling like maniacs. Those are my parents, and I think they’ve given me everything, especially when it comes to humor.

Frank Zappa On The Crappa

  • I’m thankful for my two favorite foods: Pasta and Whiskey.

It’s no secret that I love pasta. E is kind of not supposed to eat tomatoes. It makes him cough a lot. So, I’ve had to cut back on the pasta sauces. But nothing ever makes me happier than a nice baked ziti, (my Aunt’s recipe), and a glass of whiskey with an oversized ice cube. I’m smiling just thinking about it now.

  • I’m thankful to have a job where I get to work with the most amazingly talented writers, and write about things that I actually love.

What I do for a living is so awesome, that it doesn’t even seem like a job. I know that. I look for things that are funny and write about them online. Or I get to meet someone I’m obsessed with, like that time I met Shawn Ryan. Or go to events where I have no business being. (Looking at you, Comic-Con and that time I followed around the cast of Arrow.) I feel really lucky and grateful for that, and my job at BuzzFeed has really changed my life.

  • For all of the products that make my naturally curly hair look like something pretty, instead of a terrifying birds nest, as my Mom used to call it.

When I was younger, I had no idea what to do with my hair. Neither did my Mom. One side is legit curly, while the other is more just wavy. In the Florida humidity, though, the curls and waves just turned into a giant frizz ball. It wasn’t until I was in college, really, that I met another girl with curly hair who had just NAILED IT, ya know? Like, her hair was Beyonce awesome, and I wanted to know how. She taught me about mouse, and about how you really shouldn’t touch curly hair AT ALL once you’re out of the shower. I am thankful to have these magical hair powers, and for the ability to straighten my hair when I want to.

  • For videos of cats being insanely cute, for which I might not be able to survive anything.

This is best explained visually:

  • I’m thankful to have an audience for my writing. And I’m glad that some of them are haters. Because, in the words of Katt Williams, “You gotta be grateful, you need haters.”

Being able to write for a platform like BuzzFeed means that a lot of people see what I write. More often than not, people really love what I write. But then there are those commenters who get super vicious and hate on me. It’s strange to see the level of vehement anger and backlash people can get over a post, but I think it’s great too. Being able to get that kind of a reaction means that what I’m saying has touched them, even if it made them infuriated. THE POWER OF WORDS!

  • For my brother, who is so incredibly smart and motivates me to do better.

My brother is currently in med school. Med School! He’s in the midst of becoming a doctor, where he will have a job that helps people. I think that’s so incredible, and I love his courage to go after that career. My Dad, also a doctor, works hard to save lives every day, and I think it’s just spectacular that my brother chose to go down that same path. Did I mention the kid is insanely smart? So smart.

  • For living in a city that has given me so many wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, and opportunities that I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

HOLY MOLY, I LOVE LOS ANGELES. My friend Gabby once said, “LA loves you,” and she was talking about that fact that LA has been insanely good to me. I’ve managed to have some amazing jobs in LA, and work for places like BuzzFeed and Funny or Die. I’ve met some of the very best people in the world in Los Angeles. I have friends who are like family to me, and a boyfriend who makes my life wonderful every day. It really is the best city, and I’m so lucky to live there.

  • For all of the awesome TV that came out this year, including new shows like Sleepy Hollow, Orphan Black, Orange Is The New Black, and The Returned.

Crazy Eyes

Truth time: I love watching TV. If given the opportunity, I’d spend an entire day with a pot of macaroni and cheese, just sitting and binge marathoning some show. Thank heaven that new shows came out this year that are actually really good. Like, better than good.  And if you haven’t seen any of the above, then I think we should get together with that mac and cheese and have some quality TV time.

  • I’m thankful to have found a really great takeout restaurant in our new neighborhood of Los Feliz, so that when I’m having a stressful day I can still binge eat to my heart’s desire.

The place is Community, and their turkey reuben sandwich changed my life.

  • I’m thankful to own a Prius, so that I only have to refill the tank once a month, because that is the bane of my existence.

It’s the little things in life that really count. Like the fact that I only have to step outside my car and pump gas every so often as opposed to ALL THE DANG TIME.

  • Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog.

It’s cheesy, but having this as an outlet for my life has been like therapy. Or a Live Journal that you unfairly treat as a therapist.

The Best Way To Spike Your Hot Chocolate (And It’s Dairy-Free!)

Call me old fashioned, but I like to drink.

Especially when it’s cold outside, and even more so when it means I can have alcohol and chocolate at the same time. If you couldn’t tell, I made this treat over the weekend, and paired it with some dark chocolate cookies. They were perfect to dip into the cocoa, FYI.

Spiked Hot ChocolateThis isn’t my first time at the spiked cocoa rodeo. No, no, I’ve been perfecting this recipe for years. You see, I’ve become somewhat lactose intolerant in my old age, which means that I get to find all sorts of creative ways to work around dairy.

And since this recipe is dairy-free, it tastes a lot less heavy than a lot of other cocoas. Which is great, because you can drink up and not feel like you have to lie down after. Here’s how you can make it for yourself:

What you’ll need (serves 2-3):
  • 1/2 cup of Frangelico, which is a hazelnut liquor
  • 1/2 cup Brandy
  • 2-3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix to taste (I used the Aztec cocoa mix from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups of Almond milk
Directions:
  • In a small saucepan, combine the almond milk and cocoa powder. Stir until it’s well mixed.
  • Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a warm temperature, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  • Add in the Frangelico and brandy, stir and let it heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour the drink into two mugs, serve with cookies, and enjoy!

Help Me Decorate Our First Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

I’m not going to stand here and say that E and I have a better Christmas tree than everyone else in Los Angeles. Because even though that’s absolutely true, it wouldn’t be in the spirit of the holidays, or whatever.

Last night, we decided it was time to get a tree. We have a new apartment now, so it’s time to fill it with new things. And sure, I’m sure some of you will wail, “But Erin, you don’t have practical things, like a proper dining room table or a couch that fits more than two people!” But to those people I say, “We’ll be damned if we don’t have something to make our house smell like the forest!”

I had spotted a place earlier in the week that looked acceptable. There were trees. There were lights. It was perfect. We took my Prius over to what we soon discovered was a former mechanics garage, or more officially, “Delancey Street Christmas Trees.”

Christmas Trees in Los Feliz

There were a few gentleman in zip-up hoodies waiting outside for us. Fellas that easily could have been the former mechanics from the garage. One of them was missing a bottom tooth.

No bother, we walked around the rows of fir trees. Or pines. Look, I don’t know the names of different firs, I won’t lie to you, but they did, and they told us all about the different kinds we might find on our shopping trip.

“There’s the [I can’t remember the name of it] fir, and it has sort of silvery leaves,” one mechanic-elf said.

Those ones were beautiful, by the way, but we were looking for something a little more traditional. A little more green. A little less expensive.

Which is when we happened to meet our newest house guest. She stood proud and full, closer to the back and out of the glaring spotlight. Yet, it was as if a halo of some invisible light shone around her.

“I like this one,” I said. “She’s nice,” E replied.

Before we knew it, we’d paid the elves a handful of cash, and they went to work on tying her to the roof of our car.

Tree tied to the roof

(Side note: How dashing is E here?!)

We tipped the elves, got in our car, and gingerly tottered down Los Feliz Boulevard and back to our apartment. Getting it into the elevator was also relatively easy, thanks to E, mainly, because lord knows that tree was just as tall as me and I cannot do heavy lifting.

She now sits in our dining room with two decorations proudly on her: a big red bow, and a reindeer ornament that E bought me for our 6-month anniversary last year. (Though, my former landlord once told me it was a “nice donkey.”)

We’ll be getting her some new accessories this weekend, but if anyone has any suggestions for easy and inexpensive options for the tree, please do share!

What Thanksgiving Is Like As An Adult

I know that it’s not technically Thanksgiving yet, but a girl can dream, right?

I’m headed home to Florida this week, because Thanksgiving tends to be a pretty big holiday in my family. Unlike Christmas, which my parents, brother and I spend at home, we head up to our grandparents ranch for Thanksgiving to spend it with my extended family as well. Which means I’ll get to see my grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles. Or, at least, most of them.

When we were younger, it went without saying that we would all be at the ranch for Thanksgiving. My cousins from Tallahassee would drive down, and my cousins who live on the ranch would absolutely be there. We’d spend the night, and sometimes the weekend, because it was rare to have all of us under one roof. But now that we’re older, things have changed. Three of my cousins are married, my brother is in med school, I live in Los Angeles, another cousin lives in San Francisco, while another has moved all the way to Alaska. Getting home for the holiday isn’t as easy as it used to be for us.

I’m taking a red eye on Wednesday night and landing in Florida on Thursday morning, the day of. My parents are picking me up at the airport and driving us directly to the ranch. My brother couldn’t get out of school, so he’ll be spending the holiday with his soon-to-be doctor friends. I’m going to probably be exhausted, and running on adrenaline by the time we get to the ranch.

But I also really don’t care, because I’m so excited to get the time to spend with the family who will be there. (Albeit, it’s a very small crowd this year. Maybe two of my cousins will be coming, and my grandparents, and one set of aunt and uncle.) Still, it’s a tradition that I’ve only missed once in my life, when I decided to stay in LA for the holiday and celebrate a Friendsgiving. Which was fun, but not what I wanted in the end. And now that I’m older, a lot of these holidays feel so much more precious to me. Probably because it’s hard to tell what it will look like even a year from now. Someone else could move away, someone could get married and go celebrate with a different family, who knows.

I’m really thankful for the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with my family in Florida this year. And I’m hopeful for many more to come.

Oh, and if you’re curious as to what E will be up to this year, he’s headed back to Arkansas to celebrate with his parents. We’re officially meeting each other’s parents over the Christmas holidays. (Eeeep!)

Here are some photos from our last Thanksgiving in Florida. It’s really beautiful down on our little Brooksville ranch, right?!

La Rosa Family Ranch

The sign that greets you when you drive onto our property. I’m a La Rosa, and my cousins are the Coopers.

La Rosa Ranch and our barrels of hay

It’s a real, working ranch, and we’ve got plenty of hay to feed the horses and cows we have.

White Horse

One of our gorgeous horses, posing for a glamour shot.

Grandma

My grandmother, and the woman I owe my redhair to, cooking up some gravy at the stove.

Homemade Biscuits

My grandmother’s homemade biscuits… Holy guacamole are these to die for.

Tree swing

This is me on our tree swing. It’s the same swing we’ve been using since I was a little girl, and it feels just as awesome every time I use it.