Have a safe and FUN St. Patricks Day!
I have big news! I finished a project that I started a loooong time ago, and am so happy to share my excitement with y’all.
I studied art for both of my degrees, and have steadily practiced painting for my own enjoyment and occasionally for design clients and friends’ collections, but I always painted really large canvasses – pieces that would take months to finish and that required leaving poisonous and stabby accoutrements strewn about that just weren’t baby friendly. In the spirit of keeping my artist’s flame burning during The Critter’s naptimes, I decided that I would paint an homage to my first beloved four legged baby Louis XIV that would tell our story. Now that the baby with two legs has gotten bigger and I can take my eyes off him for a while, I have finally found enough time to complete the picture book about Louis XIV that I have written and illustrated.
I have a really nice dummy book and am beginning to look for a great representative to share the love of Lou with the world. The development has been some of the most joyful work I’ve ever done, and incorporates all my favorite parts of the disciplines I know best – writing, painting, design, and now retailing. I plan to continue to grow the Louis collection with new friends and cool adventures from now on.
While my picture book is (hopefully) finding its way to a fine publisher’s desk, I want to share some of the fun fine art that this project has produced. I am THRILLED to announce that the big reveal for this collection on Sunday, March 6 here in Beverly Hills at Woofstock 90210! I will be there with some of my OG’s here in the ‘hood who will share framed prints from pages of the book and the “Neoclassical Lou” drawings on paper, greeting cards, giclees, and fabulous silk scarves. It will be a fun Beverly Hills style festival, complete with the most pampered pooches in the world. It’s the perfect match for Louis’ debut.
Tomorrow morning PBS Kids will premiere Ready Jet Go!, its rocking new show from the creators of Dinosaur Train, complete with songs that make you want to dance and cool science facts from a real FEMALE NASA scientist. I first became aware of the show last spring when I attended PBS Annual Meeting in Austin. I was thrilled to meet creator Craig Bartlett, because Dinosaur Train was The Critter’s favorite for two years of his eight year life. I can recall Critter and I snuggling up to watch and singing the songs that didn’t bore or irritate me. I marveled at how he actually would retain the knowledge that I would have had a hard time grasping in college, due to the great writing and the interstitials with Dr. Scott the paleontologist. It was obvious to me that Ready Jet Go! would have the same effect, as I could not get the theme song out of my head. This is a good thing, because it may have FINALLY taught me all the planets in the solar system.
During our visit to NASA last summer we met up with Amy Mainzer, an actual rocket scientist who performs experiments on Ready Jet Go!, and were amazed at how cool (and un-selfconsciously gorgeous) she is. I am now always thinking that if I had known Amy and Craig back in my barely-passing-Astronomy college days, I probably would have aced the class. I have now watched Amy create a comet with her own two (heavily gloved) hands with every day materials, and listened to Craig perform new songs from the show that made me want to party down, even if it was 8:30 AM with no alcohol involved.
Produced by Wind Dancer Films, “READY JET GO! follows two neighborhood kids: Sean, who has an all-consuming drive for science facts, and Sydney, who has a passion for science fiction and imagination. They both befriend the new kid on their street, Jet Propulsion, whose family members happen to be aliens from the planet Bortron 7. Together, they explore our solar system and the effects it has on the science of our planet, all while learning about friendship and teamwork along the way.”
Speaking with Executive Producer Dete Meserve at PBS Press Tour where the comet making and booty shaking was instigated, I find that she also is all about bringing science experiments into real life. She shared that at a recent dinner party in her home a question about gravity prompted moving the party outside to test theories. I confessed to her that my college GPA was dragged waaaaay down by the fact that I could never pass a science, causing my friends to band together to drag me through Astronomy 101 and 102 so I could finally graduate. If only I’d been taught to think about science as fun early on the way The Critter is being taught, I’d have been spared all that stress!
When your #scouthouse is a block from the @goldenglobes, & while @thecubscouts are getting a lesson on #bombdetection #hazmat & #arrests by the @lasdhq, & the @fbi who are guarding the area, #RebeccaEaton of #masterpiecetheatre (aka @downtonabbey_official) stops by to learn too 😀 #beverlyhillslife @pbs #pbsvips
Yesterday was truly a shining example of how business as usual in our town created a surreal-is-this-really-happening? type experience. That we might get a lesson on the technology of fighting terrorism and that I would be introduced to a Golden Globe winner shortly before the win was far from what occurred to me as I was putting together an activity for the Bear Pack and worrying about how we would get to the Scout House, a mere half mile away. The Scout House is a block from the Beverly Hilton, which meant that block was included in a concerted effort to foil any terrorist nonsense that could negatively affect the Globes. In fact the driveway of the house had become a tactical staging post for the FBI, the LA County Sheriff’s Hazmat team, bomb detection personnel, the DEA and the actual check in point for attendee entrance was right smack in front of our Scout House
After much figuring and irritating the BHPD’s non emergency operator, we decided to park at Dr. Leila’s house, then walk the block and a half to the Scout House. This was to be a particularly bittersweet meeting at our Scout House, because it was to be the last. The Los Angeles Country Club wants their plot of land back, and though the club’s Board has decided to allow us to move the house rather than demolish it, we will have to find a new site to move the house, not to mention fund it.
We really had to make that meeting, whether or not the Golden Globes were happening. Eighty years of history are being shoved aside, moved along, and we needed to pay homage by making necklaces with each Scout’s name spelled out in Morse Code, and for the Pack to keep going.
It wasn’t exactly easy to hold the attention of boys with Morse Code when there are tactical weapons and bomb detecting jeeps to explore, but we made a deal that if they behaved through the meeting then we would allow the gracious offer of the LA County Sheriff to give the Scouts a tour of the Hazmat vehicle and that they could commence crawling all over the jeep too. They paid rapt attention to every word from Detective Seibel and Captain Ewell – there was actual glee going on, so much that we forgot that the red carpet for the Golden Globes was happening, even though hundreds of black SUVs and limos were stop-starting a few feet away, the last checkpoint before their destination.
I looked up and saw that Rebecca Eaton of PBS had asked her driver to stop so that she could ask what the bomb detecting jeep was. I explained to her and briefly explained that life in Beverly Hills puts us in these funny situations, that BeverlyHillsMom advocates PBS Kids, and she introduced me to Wolf Hall producer Mark Pybus, I said “See you at Press Tour” then they went and won!
I am going to take this as a good omen for the Scout House, and for everything I need to do this year. Just get up and do it – you will be glad you did.
We had a great Thanksgiving holiday, despite each of us falling ill with the same vague cough and sinus malady at the end – just enough to make us not want to do anything but lie around. Thursday we picked up turkey and dinner from Doughboys (I made the family dressing and holiday sweet potatoes), Alfred and Stella joined us, and a lot of football was viewed. We managed to erect the Christmas tree – sort of – we have a leaning problem, but all the ornaments are unpacked and it’s all fairly orderly until we do the straightening. Straightening requires that we drag out the big ladder. We were all fully sick and cranky by this point of the execution of the weekend, so I called it a mulligan until we feel better.
When I’m sick I have to watch programs that inspire me creatively, or else I will feel like the world is ending. I was really excited to see that Iris, the biography of style doyenne Iris Apfel was just added to Netflix, so that was the first stop on my bingefest. I loved finding out more about this enduring talent who has crossed back and forth over the rivers of interior and fashion design. She has designed textiles for one of the finest fabric design houses in my contact list, curated costume collections for the Met, certifiably curated one of the finest personal collections of fashion and costume jewelry on earth, and even has a line on QVC. I die for her apartment of carefully curated bibelots and jouallerie in her whack sophisticate style. As a designer I am validated by her process which is so similar to mine, in which she shops high and low – she exclaims that she’d gets more of a charge finding a cheap bauble to love in a import knock off store than a bauble from Harry Winston! I know that buzz -may she live even longer to enjoy it. Viva Iris!
Critter and I agreed that the new “time traveling talk show” Mr Peabody and Sherman is the zingiest! I LOVE the aesthetic of the animation – it has that nostalgia inducing atomic age look of the Mr Peabody of my childhood, but with better color and storylines. The characterizations of historic figures such as Mozart and Napoleon are laugh out loud funny for kids and the grownups in the room, and the Sherm may even teach some actual history. I may not be able to breathe right now without blowing my nose, but between Iris and Mr Peabody & Sherman, I have lots of fresh thoughts when I go back to my drawing board.
I totally heart Netflix and being a #StreamTeam member!
— Beverly Hills Mom (@alexandra90210) December 1, 2015
John and Jillian made a comment about today about “Mama sang bass” and attributed it to Mama Cass. I couldn’t just let that sit. you glad you read such a well informed interior designer/blogger/artist? Y’all need to know about Hee Haw, right?
You may remember seeing a picture of me with super sibs David and Adam Rudman of Spiffy Pictures from PBS Annual Meeting. We were there talking about their latest gem for PBS Kids called Nature Cat. You may not recognize them right away, because David is usually busy performing as Cookie Monster and Adam is usually writing half of the kids’ shows on television. In fact, they both have had incredible award winning careers steering some of the most beloved children’s entertainment on record. When I first viewed trailers from Nature Cat, I was immediately struck by how the voices were SO hilarious and characterful – something one doesn’t often find in these days of having celebrity voices in animation. I really get aggravated by all the current films that use recognizable straight voices of pop stars and film actors for animated characters while there are those actors who strive to master the voice. While Nature Cat may use some famous talent that you might find on a late Saturday night, including Bobby Moynihan, Kate McKinnon (her Squeeks is my favorite), Taran Killam, Kate Micucci, and Kenan Thompson, these comedic actors have obviously fully embraced their animated manifestations and created characterful voices that make the show absolutely hilarious! I commented to the brothers that I was thrilled by the voice talent, and they seemed so glad that this wasn’t unnoticed, as they grew up on Looneytunes, SchoolHouse Rock, and Fractured Fairy Tales just like I did. The shows were funny because the cartoons were fully developed personae, and we had no idea what the person behind the voice looked like.
My Critter and I just screened the first three episodes of Nature Cat, and we loved it. You can see the show Wednesday November 25th on your local PBS station right after the also brand new and awesome Wild Kratts Christmas Special – LA folks can find it on PBS SoCal. I’ve linked to some really cool activities you can do with your own two legged critters in the thumbnails too. Looking forward to calling this one a classic!
Having just finished writing and illustrating my picture book, I was totally on board when Sonia Kang of Mixed Up Clothing invited me to a MultiCultural Mixer at the ever so stylish Kidville, including a super cute fashion show and Taye Diggs reading his new picture book called Mixed Me.
The event was kicked off by a really thought provoking panel discussing raising multicultural children. The panel included Sonia, Elena Epstein of LA Parent, Christopher Colbert of House of David Church, and Melinda Alexander, all of mixed cultural heritage, or raising children who are mixed. With the exception of a French great great great great great grandmother, my roots are really straight up WASP, as now are my son’s – we are so obviously white, no one ever approaches us and says anything like “What are you?”. Over the years I have had close friends who created mixed families and navigated the waters of doing so, but never have I had my eyes opened with regard to the subject as discussed by the panelists. It hasn’t occurred to me that in this day and age children of mixed race or culture really go through a lot with others questioning them and trying to pigeonhole “what they are”. What I learned is that they do. Parents told of their own stories and those of their children, and I sensed something like relief that there was this kinship in the group. I found the panelists to be frank and real about their experiences raising their children and the bumps in the road, with humor and empathy.
Next up was a fashion show featuring fall fashions from Mixed Up, and I think that some of the most gorgeous children on earth were the models. I had so much fun watching them play in the adorable outfits, then they walked the runway – some serious style mavens! They dazzled us, then the runway became a carpet again and they gathered ’round to listen to Taye read his book. After my bombing out with the grade school set the week before, I was charmed by his command of the kids and the simple lyric of his story. Afterward, I was able to talk to him a bit and have him sign my copy of the book. He was fun and easy going, and I’m excited to have his story in our home.
Thank you so much to Sonia and the sponsors for a colorful day!
I bombed as Mystery Reader last week. The Critter tried to be cool when he saw that I would be the surprise grownup who would read to the class that day, but was SO adorably happy that he ran over to hug me. I had carefully selected one of my childhood favorites The Emperor’s New Clothes, and also included his seasonal favorite It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I rehearsed reading the former due to the more antiquated language, and decided to read it first, then to bring down the house with the Great Pumpkin. I was allotted forty minutes to read both, and was confident that I could hold the crowd’s attention.
Boy, was I wrong! The girls loved the Emperor, but the Critter could not have cared less for it, nor could at least half of his male cohorts. I sat in a chair with him beside me, looking at twenty third grade faces sitting on the carpet at my feet, reading my heart out, while he created distractions, thinking that it would help the boys pay more attention. Due to many soul crushing questions about how much longer until we could see the Charlie Brown book caused me to run overtime. They were a tough crowd.
When I saw these Heckerty videos, I thought “I’ll bet SHE never loses an audience.” I love seeing a group of kids engrossed in storytelling and watching Jan Ziff voice the tales of Heckerty, the loveable little witch, definitely raises the bar for my future Mystery Reader endeavors.
Looking over Heckerty’s site, I see that it contains a treasure trove of tools for teachers, kids and parents alike. The Heckerty books, apps, and eBooks are based on a series of children’s stories, originally created and brought to life by Ms. Ziff, one of Britain’s most internationally successful storytellers. Her fabulous English accent is just the thing to enrapture the kiddos, and now that the newest Heckerty app is now available on Amazon Underground (and on iTunes later this month), your child can experience her for free!
Today I’m at a conference that my friend Leah founded and graciously invited my Diet Coke swigging self to attend. I met Leah about six(!) years ago at a blogger event and I was impressed by her story of having lost one hundred pounds and keeping it off by eating organic and nonGMO foods.
Since then she has gained (no pun intended) so many followers that organic and eco aware brands have created a movement called ShiftCon. ShiftCon is “the only social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This conference blends workshops, networking, parties, and intense collaboration of changemakers all over the United States and Canada in one place. ”
I think the full impact of how hard the work of of food farms and brands who want to keep things clean, chemically speaking, is hitting me right now as I listen to Robyn O’Brien in the panel I am sitting in right now. She describes this work as a crusade on the front lines of a fifty year project – big industry food executives do not necessarily know and understand the the effects of what they do with the food we eat and that their business models are at a critical point. They really need to be educated in “shifting” the way food is grown and processed so that it is good for people. Robyn, along with two other healthy food companies that we all have/have had in our homes – John Foraker, founder of Annie’s and Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farms cheerfully talk about how small eco aware and natural food brands are finally being seen as financially viable by the big guys, but fear of failure in making the shift holds companies back. I’m amazed at the great profit statistics that Robyn shares when a monolithic brand makes the move to make things healthier. Having these statistics is hard won by all three of these panelists, and they are clear that more hearts and minds must be changed.
I realize that these are the people who have raised my (limited) awareness and are probably the reason we don’t buy water in bottles anymore, we (meaning Esperanza my housekeeper) recycle all those Diet Coke cans, and I no longer buy brands with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and avoid items with sugar for no reason. I only buy organic dairy and meat products, and only buy wild caught fish. I don’t think of myself as having anywhere NEAR the integrity of most of the attendees of this conference, but I really believe less junk in our food IS better. I think the patience of those who created the shift are the reason for this, and I am excited to learn more.