Monthly Archives: September 2010

Prep-stalgia….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…more prep-stalgia! I couldn’t possibly help but notice the nod to the Preppy Way of Life in a variety of fashions and styles, especially more shoes!

These days, I have been out and about, desperately in search of the perfect sandal for Amanda for Homecoming.  Which, let me tell you, is nearly impossible for those of us that don’t want their daughters looking like hoochie-mama’s. I am a huge fan of girls looking their age. Meanwhile, after I had been cruising the malls in search of the world famous elusive shoe, I stumbled upon the most perfect, “prep-stalgic” style of shoes…the Top Sider.

Nearly 30 years ago, for my thirteenth birthday, I received one of my favorite books ever…..The Official Preppy Handbook. It became something of a style bible for me. Of course, at the time, I only paid attention to the aesthetic value of the book; how does it look to be preppy? Well, the answer to that was simple…..

The world of the Mid-western Prep-ster was a beautiful one. There were so many wonderful and identifiable fashion trends. One of my favorite, go to prep-ster stores, was Pappagallo, though I was a fan of L.L. Bean and Land End too. Pappagallo always had the most perfect shoes, handbags and accessories. I, for one, have always loved the whole prep-ster vibe; turned up collars on the Polo shirt (layered was even better!), the cardigan, artfully draped over ones shoulders, the pink and green any and everything is so modern (!), Izod Lacoste, which was only found in select department stores….read exclusive, the monogram (which has totally made a come back, particularly in jewelry), the oxford button down dress shirt (fabulous!), Fair Isle sweaters, kilts, knee socks, Bass Penny Loafers, Tretorn tennis shoes and, my favorite…the Top Sider. You know, the boating shoe…..

  

What’s old is always new again. The Top Sider has made a come back and with a vengeance! In my day, the classic Top Sider was a straight forward, simple, chocolate brown boat show. These days, the sky is the limit… we’re looking at a gambit of styles; plain red, plain blue, traditional plaids amidst caramel leather, completely plaid shoes in red and green, black patent leather, gold metallic and my favorite, animal skins.     

I must admit, for the sake of “prep-stalgia” I did purchase a chocolate, crocodile embossed Top Sider this season, and they are fantastic! They make me think of more of my youth, more preppy style and a more simple time…..

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Anthony, Wednesday is Always Spaghetti Day; Shrimp Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Sauce


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more pasta dinners! Seriously, after you’ve made this dish, you may never visit the likes of Mia Francesca and Tuscany ever again (it’s that good). Why dine out when you can dine in?

There’s little as elegant as shrimp cocktail on an appetizer buffet. It’s always a crowd pleaser. Should I be lucky enough to find myself with some left over shrimp, I always make this pasta dish for dinner the following night. I laid out some snicky-snacks while we were waiting for my Nick to return from his 18th surprise birthday golf outing. Low and behold, I found that there were a few little extra shrimpies left behind…ah, dinner!

Shrimp Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Sauce:

I like to measure out and organize all of my ingredients before I jump into my recipe (not too OCD).

The fun of this dish is twirling the pasta and the creamy delicious sauce around on your fork, so you’ll want to use an angel hair or spaghetti noodle. As always, I am a huge fan of the Barilla. According to the directions, cook;

1 lb of spaghetti

During the last few minutes that the pasta is cooking, you can start the sauce. 

In a heavy skillet, over medium high heat, heat;

3 Tbsp olive oil

 

When it’s glistening, add;

1 lb peeled large shrimp (I always remove the tails before I cook them. Who wants to work that hard for their dinner while they’re eating?)

5 cloves of garlic, minced

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cracked black pepper

Cook for about 2 minutes

Stir in;

½ cup sweet vermouth (it’s a beautiful shade of red)

1 – 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained

Cook for about 1 minute, scraping any brown bits from the bottom

Add;

¾ cup heavy cream

Simmer until sauce had thickened slightly

Add;

1 tsp lemon juice

 

As soon as you drain the pasta, toss it with the creamy sauce. Feel free to shake a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. Plate and serve…

 

 More delectable dinners, more time at home, more time for family and friends…

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Fasten Your Seatbelts….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more student drivers! I’m sorry, but teaching your child how to drive is the single, most terrifying experience of parenthood. Bar none. And now, Amanda has started Drivers Ed…..

 

Nick’s done a pretty good job, though he has had two tickets in two years (both incurred within the same 6 ½ month time frame, however). One for speeding (guilty, dead to rights) and the other for an “improper lane change” (a totally trumped up charge. I think he was stopped because he looks like he’s only 12….. a blessing and a curse.). Unfortunately, these things happen to the best of us. When I was 16, I got my first ticket; no left turn, 4-6 p.m., weekdays. That was in the good old days (for me!) when you didn’t have to tell your parents everything. My friend Kathleen accompanied me on my day in court, where we waited for the only judge we knew; Judge Wopner (at 4:30). I was a moron. It’s a miracle I lived to tell the tale. Thankfully, I’m fairly comfortable with Nick driving away now, but, like his mother, he plays the music way too loud. In the beginning, I wouldn’t let him listen to music at all. The sound of my heart rapidly beating out of my chest was loud enough.

One night, when Nick first got his permit, I let him go through the Portillo’s drive-thru and nearly had a heart attack. After we paid, they asked if we could please pull over to the side to wait for the rest of our order. Ha! The drive-thru sits alongside a ravine and if they thought I was going to allow him to pull over and back up in our enormous Yukon XL, then they were crazy. I said, “No, I’m sorry we can’t. Student driver.” We just sat there, holding up traffic, but it completely beat the alternative, which clearly was driving off into the ravine, potentially needing the assistance of the Jaws of Life to escape with our lives.

There were so many scary moments, like driving down a narrow, two lane street in our Yukon. Seriously, this car is like a small airplane, with plenty of room to move about the cabin. Even the side mirrors are huge. It would always feel like we were dangerously close to either the side of the road…or oncoming traffic. I would chant, “Watch the curb. Watch the curb. WATCH THE CURB!” To which Nick would reply, “I know.” Just so you know, you don’t know, but what you should know is that I think this is giving me a brain aneurism.

The day Nicky got his license, the kids made me drive home from the DMV in the back seat; a very strange and surreal perspective. As soon as we pulled into our driveway, these rascals ejected me from the car, practically ala The Jetson’s, and drove off to have breakfast by themselves. It felt kind of lonely. While they were out, the ran into my friend Linda (not like a Pinky Tuscadero/Malachi Brothers Demolition Derby kind of run in, but a catch up with a friend while you’re out) and she said that they were very sweet and wearing seatbelts. Of course Nick came right home and took Wrigley for a spin so Wrigley would no that Nick, too, was now a bye, bye maker.

It’s impossible to believe that my Amanda is ready to learn how to drive. It was only yesterday that she was learning how to rollerblade, ride a bike and write her name in cursive. My daily duties are becoming obsolete, and I am really going to miss the time we spend together in the car. Fortunately, Amanda won’t be 15 and getting her permit for a few more months, not to mention the fact that it will take forever for her to accumulate 50 driving hours. Until then, I will enjoy more yelling about the curb, more use of the imaginary break, more holding onto the arm rest for dear life and more appreciating being in the moment….

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18 on his 18th….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…..more surprises! To celebrate my Nick’s 18th birthday, we decided to throw him a surprise party; brunch at our house and 18 holes (18 for his 18th) with his pals. All of the planets must have been in alignment when I took a gander at our calendar to find that he had a free Sunday. No golf. No hockey. It was a miracle.

The guest list was easy; hockey friends, golf friends, childhood friends, all from the Be All and End All Academy and St. Feels Right For Her. The surprise, however, was potentially more complicated. I am highly in favor of a proper invitation, addressed by hand and sent via snail mail, but I totally get how email is just easier. Besides, sending a teenage boy a proper invitation, addressed by hand and received via snail mail could be construed as; weird. I sent out the email, made the tee time reservations and got cooking.

 

Brunch is always a hit, economical (especially minus the mimosas) and simple to prepare. On the menu;

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pancakes, both plain and chocolate chip
  • Bacon
  • Bagels
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Orange Juice, milk and water (no coffee worries either)

 

Of course the question was; how to sneak all of this past him without raising suspicion. It’s a good thing our household is accustomed to shenanigans, because he didn’t bat an eye! We told him he had to wrap up all of his homework on Saturday (instead of putting off to tomorrow what he could do today…..) because his uncle wanted to take him golfing on Sunday (wink, wink). With about 30 minutes left on the clock, we sent him on a quick “errand”. Upon his return, he found the fellas milling about in front of our house. As we spied from inside, we could see him grinning from ear to ear. He was surprised and he was happy.

 

Boys sure can eat! The prep was so simple; it just took a little planning. Saturday, we cooked 4 lbs of bacon, employing my favorite method. Pre-heat your oven to 350°, line rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil, lay bacon in a single layer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Just watch it. I then remove the bacon, line a container with paper towel (to soak up all of the grease), layering with bacon and paper towel as we go. I then refrigerate until I am ready to serve. You can totally make the bacon a few days in advance. Zap it in the microwave and you’re good to go…..with no mess!

 

I hulled the strawberries, sliced and diced the melon and cantaloupe and rinsed the blue berries. To keep the fruit mushy-free, I layered paper towel (you know I love Bounty…the quicker picker upper) in between each layer of fruit. Store it in the fridge until ready to use. For the sake of beauty, I served the fruit in layers in a tall glass hurricane. It was pretty…just the kind of thing teenage boys appreciate.

 

The night before, I even cracked all my eggs (mess averted), and kept them in two mixing bowls with tight sealing lids. With ten boys for breakfast, 40 eggs seemed like the magic number. About 45 minutes before the boy’s arrival, I whisked in some milk and pepper and scrambled them up. They were light, fluffy and perfect. I kept them warm in a chaffing dish until the boys were ready to eat.

 

My family LOVES pancakes, so I’ve got that down to a science. I made 24 pancakes, half plain and half with chocolate chips mixed in the batter. I must remind myself that all children are not chocoholics like mine. I kept them warm in our warming drawer (or simply on low in your oven). When we were ready to eat, I put them in another chaffing dish. It must be fine, because that’s how they serve a breakfast buffet from the Holiday Inn to the Ritz Carlton. Powdered sugar and syrup were a lovely accompaniment.

We bought fresh bagels from Einstein’s and had them sliced in half there. No need to cut off a digit at home. So been there done that (see More Uses For Duck Tape in my August archives, as we marked the three year anniversary of Chuck’s successful severed thumb replant. Thanks OAD!). What more does a boy need than cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese and butter?

The boys filled their plates, told funny stories, gave each other the business and laughed and laughed. It was music to my ears. After brunch, I zipped over to the golf course with them to settle up at the Pro-shop. They were so darn cute and polite as they posed for pictures. More life long friends, more shared experiences, more laughs, more breakfast,  more golf, more fun, more memories……

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Too Much Paper Work…..


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more fun for the High Schooler’s! ‘Tis the season to enjoy Homecoming Festivities. I have a senior and a freshman, with two very different perspectives and priorities……

 

Amanda is a More is More kind of gal herself; opting to partake in and enjoy as many Rah-Rah school activities as humanly possible. She takes full advantage of the opportunity to ditch her school uniform on Friday’s, showing her school spirit on Spirit Day, at St. Feels Right For Her, while Nick is rarely even aware of School Pride Day at the Be All and End All Academy. I believe he has been known to wear his gym shirt, found wadded up in a ball in his locker. Such things are so low on his radar that he even forgot when the entire school was permitted an out of uniform day in honor of the Varsity Hockey Team (he’s plays Center) making it to the play offs.

Even as an 8th grader, Amanda rarely missed a St. Feels Right For Her home game (and that’s when we thought she was going to the Be All and End All Academy). She would race to the field right after gymnastics, throw on their school colors and meet her pal, Coco, to cheer and watch the game. On the other hand, I think I can count on that one hand, the number of football games that Nick has attended since freshman year. I suppose he’s just as happy golfing and playing hockey on a Friday night.

I can’t say that I am the least bit surprised about their opinions about going to the Homecoming dance. The kids have only been back to school for a few weeks, and the poor freshman have barely had a chance to meet anyone new (especially boys!). Amanda and her gal pals were at the mall doing a little window shopping over the weekend and decided to try on party dresses. As soon as she got home, she plopped down at the island and announced that she and Rosebud had decided that even though the dance was still three weeks away, rather than wait to see who might ask them from their own school, they were each going to each ask a friend from another school to accompany them to Homecoming. More power to you sistah’s! Amanda is a take charge kind of girl, master of her own fate, and texted her dear (since Kindergarten) friend’s older sister and asked if she thought that she should ask her brother. The sister responded with an, “absolutely, I think you should.” So, she did.

 

Sunday night, Amanda and Rosebud made cute poster board signs, in their school colors, which read, “Do you want to be a “Warrior” (their school mascot) for a night? Homecoming, 2010.” It was a Chinese Fire Drill; Missy, Amanda, Rosebud and I hopped in the car, ringing doorbells, carrying signs, delivering football shaped iced doughnuts to the boys to ask them to Homecoming (a total formality because it was a done deal about an hour after they had thought of the whole thing Saturday night). This is what Chuck would refer to as a Lucy and Ethel moment….

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Nick. I’d been asking him for weeks if he and his darling girlfriend (Amanda LOVES her, they text each other and once she took Amanda to Starbucks and Amanda was tickled pink) were going to go to Homecoming. There was the matter of the suit, and girls typically like to have enough notice so they can select a dress. I don’t think I was being too much of a nag in this instance (other instances…TOTAL NAG). First he said they weren’t going to go. Then he said they were going to go to her Homecoming, as she attends a different school. Last weekend, when I asked him to try on his suit, he said, “Didn’t I tell you that we’re not going?” “Why?” I asked. To which he replied, “Too much paper work.”

It appears that in order to attend a school function, at a school where you are not a student, you are required to file paperwork that your school must endorse. Rather than go through the hassle of all that paperwork, Nick’s girlfriend is going to take him out to dinner for his birthday instead. As a man of simple needs, when she asked where he would like to go, he responded, “I don’t know. Potbellies or Chipotle?”  

Either way you slice it, as long as the kids are having good, clean fun, what’s the difference? More time with friends, more dances, more dinners, more good times, more memories…..

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