Monthly Archives: May 2011

Peanut Butter Jelly Time………

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….more Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches! After approximately 2,34o days of school, over the past 13 years, I have packed the last lunch that I will ever make for Nick to bring to school. Save for the occasional thermos full of soup, or the ever gourmet and fabulous Spaghettio’s with meatballs, Nick has eaten peanut butter and jelly nearly everyday of his life. Thank God he didn’t have a peanut allergy!


It’s such a cliché (I guess because it’s true), that it seems like only yesterday that Nick first donned his Our Lady of Perpetual Donations school uniform on his very first day a Kindergarten. He was so cute in his navy blue shorts and powder blue polo shirt, tucked in neatly. We were so excited to take our required list of school supplies to Target to do our back to school shopping. Nick chose a Space Jam backpack, and never one to be left behind, Amanda chose an Arthur lunchbox. This was where it started, that very first day, Nick’s school lunch of choice; peanut butter and jelly.


Now, my people are rather picky (which is how my status was elevated from simply mother to short order cook). They only like Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter. No Jiffy. No Peter Pan. Just Skippy. I like strawberry just as much as the next guy, but my kids will only eat Smucker’s strawberry jelly, no jam (too lumpy), just jelly. While I slice Nick’s sandwich in half on an angle, Amanda prefers her cut in half, resulting in two rectangles. I have always maintained you could easily ruin a kid’s entire day just by opening up the juice box the wrong way. Did you take the straw off the side of the box, remove the plastic sleeve and insert the straw into the box, while they only wanted you to remove the plastic sleeve, leaving them the task of inserting the straw? It’s completely complicated.

Nick’s love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches isn’t merely restricted to lunch time.   While the kids were little, we practically lived in our car. Some days I would pick my pals up from school, racing out the door to hockey games or baseball tournaments, and I’d always pack a picnic for the ride; something sweet, something crunchy, something healthy and a classic PB & J.

I’ll still get to pack the occasional lunch. Every Monday Nick spends the entire day, 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, golfing at the course where he is a caddy. He hates to waste a single moment of his Monday taking a break with the boys to grab a bite to eat, so I pack him his favorite PB&J to sustain him on the back 9. But it’s just not the same. He’s no longer a little boy; he’s a young man, soon heading off to college. Thankfully, Amanda and Wrigley still need peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

More lunches, more family time, more tender loving care, more peanut butter and jelly!

To schedule an Interior Design appointment or a speaking engagement, please email me at


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Dance to the Music: Dancing With the Stars and American Idol……Everyone’s a Winner!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………more Dancing with the Stars and American Idol season finales! Where have the past 4 months gone since we were first introduced to all of the “Stars” and met all of the decent contestants during Hollywood week? More importantly, what on Earth are we going to watch during those coveted hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings? Certainly not 2 ½ Men (at least until this fall when super cutie Ashton Kutcher hits the scene) and The Voice isn’t totally doing it for me. Seriously, who exactly is Cee Lo Greene (Forget You…woo, hoo, hoo)?

So here we are, down to our final three contestants for the coveted Mirror Ball, and our final two Idol hopefuls…….It’s been a real horse race.


Heading into the final night of DWTS you’ve got Hines Ward (darling, personable and graceful Steeler’s QB), Chelsea Kane (who claims to be a Disney star, but I’ve never seen her on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and she wasn’t even in High School Musical’s I, II or III) and, of course, America’s favorite, Kirstie Alley (from TV and movie classics such as Cheers and Look Who’s Talking I and II, and the only contestant ever to tame bad boy professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy).

What’s the best way to kick off the season finale party? Obviously with Don’t Stop the Party by the Peas (otherwise known as the Black Eyed Peas), but for me, the party would only have been complete with an appearance from my ultimate boy friend, Season 9 winner, Donny Osmond (and this is not a…..Puppy Love).

With a star studded night, Josh Grobin was quite fine, but if it doesn’t have a beat I can dance to, forgedaboudit (I would have been awesome on American Bandstand or the Soprano’s). As a gal who adores nostalgia, I was thrilled to see Belinda Carlisle and the Go-Go’s (and they have Got the Beat). Country sweetheart, Sarah Evans, made an appearance singing A Little Bit Stronger, which was okay, again, if you like ‘em slow.

The race could have gone any which way, so it all came down to the final round in competition: (best dancer) Chelsea and Mark, with their Hogwart’s inspired Viennese Waltz, (dancer with the most personality and chutzpah) Kirstie and Maks, with the Cha Cha Cha (Forget You……Cee Lo Greene makes a DWTS appearance tonight, too) and (most charming and delightful dancer) Hines and Kym, with the Samba. But which of these competitors reigns supreme?????

The mirror ball trophy goes to, the incomparable………Hines and Kym, bringing it home to the Steeler Nation!

On the other hand (or channel), I haven’t quite gotten over the fact that James Durbin isn’t in the final American Idol race. While I don’t have a classically trained ear, my earliest musical experience comes from exposure to my K-Tel and Donny Osmond albums (you see, everything always comes back to my Donny). What I absolutely adored about James was his range, his passion, his talent and intensity. Even though he’s cute as button and will clearly have a huge career, Scotty McCreary just isn’t doing it for me. As for Lauren Alaina, I think she’s got the chops to be a huge Carrie Underwood/Kelly Clarkson type, but I just can’t shake the feeling that she’s a little bratty. In my house, I might have washed her mouth out with soap (from the pump dispenser for easier clean up). It’s a toss up as to who will walk away victorious, and quite frankly, since it won’t be James, I’m not all that worried. However, I hope they’ve got a super big finale planned…… where Steven Tyler sings with James (they owe him one)!

More dancing, more singing, more mirror ball trophies, more recording contracts, more stars in the sky…….

To schedule an interior design appointment or a speaking engagement please email me at

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An Aunt Adds Beauty, Joy and Love to Life…

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………more remembering loved ones! Earlier this week, with great sadness, we learned that Chuck’s beloved Aunt passed away. While my family may be small but MIGHTY, the one element it sorely lacked was a loving aunt and uncle. When I was about my Nick’s age, I was lucky to have become an adopted niece to Chuck’s Aunt and Uncle.

Not having children of their own afforded them time to be completely invested in the lives of their only nephews and nieces; Chuck, his younger brother and two younger sisters. There wasn’t a birthday party, event or celebration that Aunt and Uncle didn’t make time for. As the kids got older, got married and started families of their own, there were only more people to love. These are the people to admire and learn from; those that know that the greatest gift is the gift of time.

Some of my favorite things about Aunt were her love, her compassion, her acceptance, her fierce loyalty, her devotion to her family, particularly they way she cared for Grandma, her aging mother, and Uncle.

Everyone who knows him knows that Uncle is the world’s biggest sports fan. His first question when he sees you is almost always, “Did you see the game?” It doesn’t matter what game, there’s always a big game; football, hockey, basketball, baseball, collegiate or professional. However, as a fella who hails from Detroit, he especially loves his hockey. Uncle was tickled pink when Nick laced up his first pair of skates at the tender age of 4.

Sometimes Aunt would bundle up Grandma and they would meet us at rinks near and far, day or night, to watch Nicky skate. It wasn’t so much that she was a hockey fan, but a fan anything and everything her nieces and nephews were doing. She just wanted to be a part of it; playing Spoons on Amanda’s birthday, watching videos of Amanda doing gymnastics and making sure that the kids had an opportunity to really know their Great Grandmother.

When Aunt was unexpectedly hospitalized 12 days ago, we were fortunate to have been able to spend some time with her. Even when she might have been focusing on her own self and health, she was so proud to have us all with her, making a point to introduce each of us, as her niece or nephew, to her nurses. Sadly, she lost her battle.

Taken too soon, but never to be forgotten, we will remember Aunt for her love for us, her devotion, her support and kind words of encouragement, and for helping us to celebrate life’s milestones.

We love you Aunt. You will be missed……

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More Mom’s Helping Moms; Meals for Ronald McDonald House Sponsored By Target!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………..(With help from Target) more Meals for Moms staying at Ronald McDonald House. My mantra is more of everything is always better, especially when it comes to family and giving to a worthy cause.

Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a “home away from home” for families with children that are receiving treatment at local hospitals. I can’t think of a nicer way to show these families warmth and support in their time of need than with a homemade meal. 

 This past fall, Amanda and I had the pleasure of bringing a meal to share with the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, serving University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. We were so moved by the experience, we knew we had to do it again.

 If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am absolutely Target’s biggest fan. As a slave to style, I’m addicted to Target’s smart and sassy designs. To quote Billy Crystal, parodying Fernando Lamas, “It’s better to look good, than to feel good, and you look…..mahvelous!” At Target, you can look good and feel good because you get more for less! (this is not a paid advertisement……unfortunately)

I suddenly had an epiphany. Target was invented for moms like me; maybe they would want to help me help other moms.  I zipity-zipped over to my favorite Target, in Warrenville, IL (because they have a super-duper grocery store; shop for food, shop for clothes, shop for home, shop for fun!) and I made a wonderful new friend in Store Manager Madeline Smith. When I shared with Madeline my plan to make a meal for the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Memorial Hospital, she jumped at the chance to get Target involved. They contributed $150.00 in groceries!

The moons and planets all moved into alignment when my dear friend Sal Swanton, of Swanton Video Media, Inc. (, had an amazing idea; let’s make a video to raise awareness about Ronald McDonald House Charities and their Meals for Moms program. Once again, Target jumped at the chance to help the community, allowing us to shoot our video in their store.

Now, I’m practically a movie star since Sal and his crew of 5 (including Megan, hair and makeup guru, who followed me around all day. Perhaps she makes house calls……) filmed me shopping (my all time favorite activity) at Target, making my famous Egg Casserole, and visiting Ronald McDonald House. To see our awesome video, please visit me at my website 

Now that I had done all of my grocery shopping, it was time to bring our meal to Ronald McDonald House. On a warm and sunny Sunday morning, my friend Missy and I, along with our own families, brought a brunch feast to share with the families staying at Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Memorial Hospital. Our menu included:

  • Egg Casserole
  • French Toast
  • Bacon
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Homemade Buttermilk and Cinnamon Bundt Cake
  • Muffins
  • Orange Juice


Everybody loves a good egg casserole. For the recipe, and step by step photos, please visit me at:

My Bundt Cake was also a HUGE success; light and fluffy, cinnamon-y goodness! Here’s the recipe:

Buttermilk and Cinnamon Bundt Cake

 It’s so tasty you might want to make two!

Pre-heat oven to 350°

1 package of white cake mix

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup butter, melted

5 eggs

3 Tbsp brown sugar

3 tsp ground cinnamon


1 Tbsp sugar

Top with Creamy Buttermilk Frosting (for details, see end of recipe)

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat;

White cake mix




5 eggs, 1 at a time

Beat until creamy smooth

In a small bowl, combine;

Brown sugar


Using the shortening, grease the Bundt pan and sprinkle with sugar

Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the Bundt pan

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the batter

Pour the remaining batter in the pan

Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake sets and a toothpick comes out clean

Cool then flip over onto a wire rack or platter

Drizzle with Creamy Buttermilk Frosting

1 cup of powdered sugar (plus more if necessary to thicken)

2 Tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp buttermilk (plus more is necessary to thin)

Slice and serve to the delight of your family and friends…….

While we were at Ronald McDonald House, we had the privilege of learning about the guest’s family stories and their struggles. We made a small contribution, but what we received in exchange was immeasurable. It really does feel good to give. Visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities website to find out how you can help

More caring, more healing, more nurturing, more moms helping moms……

To contact Sal Swanton:

Swanton Video Media, Inc.

913 W. Liberty Drive

Wheaton, IL 60187

630-221-0331, ext. 12

To schedule and Interior Design appointment or a speaking engagement, please email me at

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Filed under Entertaining, Family Life, Friendship, Interior Design, More is More Mom, Recipes

Fabulous, Flavorful, Farfalle Pasta!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more flavorful pasta dinners! While my pals won’t necessarily eat foods that are “touching” or “mixed together”, Chuck, my mom and I thoroughly enjoyed this Chicken Farfalle Pasta. The beauty of this dish was that I was able to serve it deconstructed (meaning as a plain old grilled chicken breast with a side of buttered noodles) to the kids, while the rest of us loved it, bursting with flavor, as it was intended to be……

Chicken Farfalle Pasta:

Serves 4-6

3 chicken breasts, roasted or grilled, cut into bite size pieces


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 large red onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar

2 tsp sugar

16 0z of farfalle pasta

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth

8 tomatoes, diced

½ cup basil leaves, rough chopped

2 Tbsp oregano

4-6 cups of loosely packed spinach or arugula

1 cup of soft, creamy crumbled cheese like goat cheese or feta

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil

Add onions, sprinkling with salt

Stir until they start to get soft and slightly brown, approximately 10 minutes

Reduce the heat to medium, adding;



Stir onions until nicely browned and caramelized

Transfer onions to a bowl and set aside

Bring a large pot of water to a bowl

Cook the farfalle to desired doneness (we like ours mushier rather than al dente)


In the skillet, add;


Bring to a boil, and maintain the heat until the wine reduces by about half




Chicken broth





Dash of salt and pepper

Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes

On individual dinner plates, place a handful of baby spinach

Top with the pasta mixture

Sprinkle with a heaping helping of cheese

Serve and enjoy!

More pasta, more bursts of flavor, more family dinners…….

To schedule an Interior Design appointment or a speaking engagement, please email me at

Fabulous, Flavorful, Farfalle Pasta!

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