Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

3 for 3…Movies that Rock; Moneyball, 50/50 and The Ides of March!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more successful movie going experiences! Three consecutive weeks, three fantastic motion pictures; when does that ever happen? We should have played the lottery.

You know, for me, the best thing about hitting the Cineplex is the coming attractions. I love everything about the movies, especially looking forward to what’s to come. Chuck really likes the popcorn. However, we both agreed there were more than a few winner’s in the bunch;

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo After I realized that this summer’s Cowboys versus Aliens was actually about cowboys versus aliens, I wasn’t too terribly hyped about Daniel Craig, but I have to admit I’m totally psyched to see him as Mikael “Kalle” Blomqvist. We read Stieg Larsson’s trilogy in book club and he is simply an amazing story teller. This is so going to rock!

Anonymous To quote Cole Porter, “Brush up your Shakespeare/Start quoting him now/Brush up your Shakespeare/and the women you will wow….” This movie begs the question; was it William Shakespeare or Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who was the real Bard?

J. Edgar Wherever he is, the real J. Edgar Hoover must be tickled pink to be portrayed by the beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m a sucker for a bio-pic (I watch Gary Busey in the Buddy Holly Story every time it’s on cable) and this one looks riveting.

 • Contraband While I’m customarily a fan of the romantic comedy, the occasional action adventure flick calls my name (Lethal Weapon and Die Hard I, II, III and IV). Mark Wahlberg plays a reformed smuggler; just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in (wait; that was The Godfather). Contraband actually looks pretty good, lot’s of twists, turns, action and one of my favorite character actors, Giovanni Ribisi.

Our super streak began while we were visiting Nick for Parent’s Weekend when we saw Moneyball. We are a baseball loving family. Nick and I are forever marveling at baseball statistics; the first time that a squirrel has been on the field in two consecutive post season games since 1920 (Nick texted me that one as soon as he heard it on ESPN at 2 in the morning). Brad Pitt was actually great as Billy Beane, the notorious Oakland A’s manager who assembled a team based on statistics, rather than notoriety. It couldn’t be more timely for those of us Cub’s fans, as Theo Epstein is said to be coming to Chicago……

Next, while Amanda was at a surprise 16th birthday party, Chuck and I snuck over to the movie theater to see 50/50. One doesn’t normally laugh out loud at movies where the main character has cancer, but there were some side splitting moments amongst the tears. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I know him from Angels in the Outfield fame) was delightful as a young man who finds out he has cancer. Shockingly, Seth Rogen, whom I like, but is normally a total moron, was a tender, sweet and supportive friend. We were emotionally exhausted, but we really liked 50/50.

Then, this past Friday night, we had just enough time to squeeze in The Ides of March. I adore George Clooney (though sometimes I can do without his politics), and I actually think he is a very talented filmmaker (have you ever seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind? It was brilliant!). In his latest picture, he plays a Governor running for President, but the star of the film is really Ryan Gosling. Seriously, I’ve never even heard of this guy until this summer, but I guess that’s because I’m not a fan of The Notebook. We saw him in Crazy, Stupid, Love, where he played a similar character; very cool and extremely slick. The Ides of March was a fascinating glimpse into the world of politics. On the cusp of another election, it was rather timely.

We’ve had such good luck with these 3 movies, we’re banking on the 4th.

More popcorn, more coming attractions, more matinees, more going to the movies…..

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They Say It’s Your Birthday…..

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more birthday celebrations! While this year I may be celebrating the 15th anniversary of my 29th birthday, Tuesday, my Nick turned 19! It’s so weird. It really seems like it’s been about 5 minutes since we brought him home from the hospital, and now, all the sudden he’s fairly well grown up and celebrating his first birthday away at college; without us.


When I was little, my mom always made a big fat deal out of our birthdays; so naturally, I am of the belief that birthdays should be celebrated like it’s Mardi Gras. Over the years, we’ve had some pretty rockin’ parties for Nick. All sports all the time has, of course, been a recurring theme. Amongst my favorites, however, was Nick’s 5th grade party. It’s not easy to come up with an idea that isn’t so “been there done that”. I stumbled across the Chicago Bulls/White Sox Training Academy (which is pretty stinking painful for those of us diehard Cub’s fans). Their deal at the time was you rented the Chicago Bulls replica basketball court, equipped with a working scoreboard, buzzer and referee, at $150 for an hour. The number of invitees was unlimited, so, since more of everything is always better, we included a total of 20 kids to help us celebrate.


Rather than waste our precious hour picking teams, we sent out two invitations; one requesting the recipients wear a white t-shirt, and the other requesting the recipients wear a blue t-shirt. When the boys arrived, all they had to do sit on the bench, shouting, “Put me in coach; I’m ready to play!” After the game, we went out for pizza, and as a party favor, gave each of the boys a mini basketball. It was awesome!


Over the years, we’ve celebrated with several golf outings, but last years was my favorite. We surprised Nick with a huge breakfast in our home (yummy scrambled eggs, bacon and chocolate chip pancakes) with a dozen of his closest friends; pals he’s collected from Pre-school to high school. After breakfast, the boys headed over to one of Nick’s favorite courses to play 18 on his 18th. He had the very best day!


This year was certainly an adjustment. I wanted Nick to feel that even though he’s away, his birthday is still a day of celebration, but how could I make a small, but thoughtful gesture? Of course there were presents, but I also packed a few packages of Hershey’s Drops and made one of his all time favorite family desserts; chewy bars. To create a feeling of festivity, I packed crazy straws, party blowers, water guns and silly string. I hope he and his new friends are racing up and down the dorm room halls having fun and acting silly. That’s exactly what a 19 year old should be doing.

More birthday celebrations, more fabulous festivities, more family traditions, more missing Nick on his 19th birthday…..


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Prom Night…..

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more Senior celebrations (not for AARP card carrying members, but high school-er’s). Most often when I blog, I’m sitting with my laptop in my kitchen or maybe curled up in my favorite spot on a sofa in my family room. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I might be sipping a hot chocolate (I know, I know, a child’s drink choice) from a cozy seat at Starbucks, but this time, I’m bundled up in a down parka, sitting on a bench, with the wind at my back, at the driving range. When my Nick loves something he wants you to love it too, so when he asked me to come along for the ride and watch him hit a bucket of balls, how could I refuse?

After filling out all of the paperwork, getting sized for his tuxedo, ordering her corsage (wait, that was me), and racing home from school, Nick was heading to his girlfriend’s prom. My mom came from Chicago, Chuck flew out of work early, with his BlackBerry glued to his ear, and I had a super-fun-crazy-busy day shooting a video at Target with Sal Swanton of Swanton Video Media (I can’t wait to tell you all about that another day soon!). We had all of thirty minutes to change, brush our teeth and wrestle Nick into his formal wear. I must say, he was rather handsome.

Four people, a three car caravan and a 30 minute commute at the beginning of Friday night rush hour traffic; it was a miracle we arrived right on time. I’m not exactly sure what made me think of it at that moment, but as we pulled up, I realized that we LEFT THE VERY SPECIAL AND GORGEOUS CORSAGE AT HOME! There were four of us that might have remembered to snag the corsage out of our refrigerator (though I completely blame myself). What a bunch of dunce’s! Without missing a beat, Chuck jumped back into the car to “race” home at 4:45 on a Friday night. It was a total Hail Mary pass…..

My mom, Nick and I made our way up the drive-way, with our tails between our legs, having forgotten the corsage. We apologized to Nick’s girlfriend and her mom for being such incredible moron’s and they couldn’t have been more gracious about the whole thing. In fact, I really don’t think Nick’s girlfriend was concerned or interested in the corsage in the very least. She was absolutely lovely; rocking the most beautiful dress and simply happy to be celebrating high school with her favorite friends. On the other hand, we were sweating bullets. Poor Chuck, missed the entire picture party, pulling up with the corsage moments before the limo pulled away (at least he didn’t have to hi-jack the limo on the way to the dance! Nick would have died of embarrassment.).    

The kids were absolutely stunning and they had a great night. After the dance, they changed into comfy clothes, went to their favorite Mexican restaurant for burritos and went home to watch Saturday Night Live re-runs. These two are a practical pair. Instead of some big “post prom” nightmare, Nick had a golf lesson Saturday morning and later in the day the two of them went to US Cellular for a Chicago White Sox game. With Nick being a life-long, thoroughly devoted Cub’s fan (with a dog named Wrigley Sheffield, what would you expect?) it was a miracle that the walls didn’t cave in on him! They had a great time at the game and a great night at Prom. What else could we have asked for?

More beautiful teenagers, more rights of passage, more time with friends, more memorable moments……..

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Chicago Cub’s Home Opener….A Holy Day of Obligation!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more Cub’s home openers! For those of us Cub’s fans, Friday, April 1, 2011, is practically a Holy Day of Obligation…..Holy Cow, its opening day at Wrigley Field! While Ron Santo’s color commentary will most certainly be missed in the booth with Pat Hughes, I think it’s finally next year. Come on boys, you’ve got to do it for Ronnie!

The Friendly Confines is my neighborhood. I grew up four blocks from Wrigley Field. My dog’s name is Wrigley Sheffield for Heaven’s sake. I am what you would consider a diehard Cub’s fan. A while back, in a show of devotion to my favorite team, I paid homage to the Cub’s at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations Fourth Annual Trivia Night.


Trivia Night is a fun-d-raiser (emphasis on the “fun”….and heavier emphasis on the “raiser” hence our grammar school’s name; Our Lady of Perpetual Donations) where a group of ten lively people (usually five couples) is assembled and your team competes in a trivia contest, against dozens of other teams, with categories similar to those found on Jeopardy, only way harder and more obscure. That part is definitely fun, but the very best part of this group’s participation is that each table devises a theme for their group, which includes costumes, decorations and food. As the More is More Mom® I have taken this task quite seriously over the years, paying close attention to detail and authenticity. Our themes have included The Soprano’s, Superhero’s, The Cast of Gilligan’s Island and saving the nest for last…..The Bleacher Bums.

Each team was provided with a round table and ten chairs, but because more of everything is always better, I typically require…more. I knew that the only way to do justice to my theme was to actually sit in the bleachers. I mean really, where else would the Bleacher Bums sit? Certainly not at a round table! My dream was to build a replica scoreboard, but the question was how? Suddenly I had a stroke of genius……I would make it all out of felt. It was brilliant and quite simple. I purchased three yards of wide width green felt. On my sewing machine, I ran a seam for rod pockets across the top, and down both sides leaving the bottom un-hemmed. I notched out both corners, leaving room for elbow brackets that would connect the side poles with the top. Chuck is a very good sport, and super handy, so we made a quick run to Home Depot to purchase two ten foot lengths of PVC pipe, two elbow brackets, two four foot lengths of PVC pipe, a t-bracket that allowed two inch pipe fittings on either side, and the top notch allowed for a ¾ “pipe to extend to the Heaven’s. It worked out beautifully!


In the mean time my friend Judy and I got together and cut out 93 letters in varying colors of felt, and cut out 16 color coordinating banners to represent each on the 16 teams in the National League. We glued together the pennants, and then I punched two holes in the two corners on one side of each pennant and strung them together with twine, to hang in the wind at the top of the scoreboard. You will note that the pennants are in their final team standings for the end of the 2009 season, save for the Cub’s. I, of course, have my Cubbies finishing 1st in the National League. Hey, it’s my fantasy…….In the meantime I traced and cut out an additional 126 letters and numbers, and all of the lines for the scoreboard, made a clock for the sake of authenticity, and glued it all in place. Standing this sucker up was like an old fashioned barn raising. With the pipes in place, we made a notch at the very top of the ¾ “pipe, ran the twine across the notch and secured the twine on either side at the elbow brackets. From the top of the ¾” PVC pipe to the bottom, I ran the pennants for the Central Division, by adhering them with double sided carpet tape. It worked like a charm. We laid the scoreboard face down on the ground, attached a clamp-on bedside lamp at each corner (left over’s from the days when my Nick still had bunk beds….I never throw anything away) because the only way to have a Night Game at Wrigley Field is with LIGHTS! We slid a six foot piece of one inch PVC in the slot of each of two umbrella stands (for your market umbrella on your patio), tilted them forward and then slid the two inch pieces of PVC over that for stability and brought them to a vertical position. I couldn’t believe it…it worked! From the very top to the bottom my scoreboard stood fourteen feet in the air. It was a sight to behold.


Part of the experience of sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field is the wall of ivy. This was so very easy. On our trip to Home Depot we picked up a sheet of lattice. I purchased ivy garland from Hobby Lobby and intertwined it through the lattice. Making it stand up was easy too. I took the two pieces of the plywood base from a left over decorative round table and slid the lattice through and it stood like a champ! Chuck insisted we pick up chicken wire and we secured it to the front of the lattice from side to side to make the basket that runs along the ivy in the outfield. Because we would be at a night game, I draped Cubs twinkling lights across the front and made a 400 feet sign out of sticky numbers we had left over from a Science Fair project. Seriously, I never throw away anything.

To sit in the Bleachers one needs stadium seating. That was easy. I contacted my local party rental store and rented two 4 foot platform sections and we were off and running. Five chairs up top, five chairs on the bottom……voila, bleachers.


The clincher of course would be the authenticity of the food. We knew ballpark food was in order; pizza (gourmet), nacho’s (out of this world), burgers (to die for), brats (of course), plus your basic popcorn, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks. The piece de resistance…..my friend Karen’s homemade Chocolate Malt Cups. Because really, what would a trip to the Friendly Confines be without a Malt Cup?

We used our round table as a buffet was quite lovely. I brought an urn and filled it with baseballs; a sign with the rules of sitting in the bleachers, Cubbie blue and red Mardi Gras beads and lime green disposable cups reminiscent of the infamous Mai Tai glasses. I rented a 120” blue round table cloth, because who wants to look at the ugly table legs? I then covered it with 1 ½ yards of Cub’s licensed fleece (makes a great table topper…and the beauty is that it’s washable!).

With each round of Trivia or “inning” we were able to manually score the game with numbers I had cut out in advance. They were adhered with straight pins. In between each inning we did the wave, and we had a bucket full of squishy balls to “throw back” at surrounding tables. We were completely obnoxious, but we could have cared less, because we were having a blast! And why wouldn’t we be? In my fantasy we were playing the White Sox in a Cross Town World Series…..and naturally, we won! At the end of the game we proudly hung our “W” flag and posed for pictures with Harry Cary. A one, a two, a three……. Let’s get some runs!


More Friendly Confines, more Chicago Cubs, more Bleacher Bums, more remembering Ron Santo…….


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Amazing, Academy Award Winning, Appetizers……

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more Academy Award celebrations! The Oscar’s are seriously my very favorite television program of the entire year. I can only imagine one event that might possibly rival this experience and that would be watching my Cubbies play in the World Series (a girl can dream). What I love about the Academy Awards is the fantasy of it all, the old fashioned Hollywood glamour. I can’t wait for the red carpet interviews with gorgeous starlets in beautiful gowns, fabulous jewelry, fancy up-do’s and the handsome and dashing leading men (such as my favorite; the charming, fast talking, Ryan Reynolds!).

Mine is a movie loving family. In fact, my parents were so taken with Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot, that I was named for her. My Nick is actually named for Nick Charles, the lead character in the 1934 classic; The Thin Man (based on a Dashiell Hammett novel). My earliest Oscar recollections are of my beloved Johnny Carson hosting, but I’ve absolutely adored Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackman too. I can’t wait to see how Anne Hathaway and James Franco fair hosting this year, the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

This weekend, we enjoyed a pre-Oscars feast! Tasty appetizers paired with a little something sparkly……..

  • Chopped BLT Salad Spears
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
  • Hot Crab Dip and Crackers
  • Chicken Chili Wontons



To get the party started I draped my Dining Room table with a red satin topper trimmed with red marabou feathers, a nod to the glamour of the 1940’s. Red roses, mirrored candlesticks with damask patterned pillar candles and a mirrored tray, displaying crystal champagne flutes and a zebra ice bucket, set the tone for our elegant soiree. Adding a bit of whimsy were bouquets of licorice, glass bowls of popcorn and rhinestone studded tea-light candles.

Chopped BLT Salad Spears:

Who doesn’t like bacon? It makes everything better!


6-8 slices of bacon, crisply cooked, and chopped

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 plum tomatoes, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of chopped lettuce such as arugula, but baby spinach will work nicely too

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

16-20 endive spears

In a bowl, combine;



Balsamic vinegar



Stir in the tomatoes

Season with salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss;


Tomato mixture


Cheddar cheese, if you so choose

Spoon the BLT mixture into the endive spears

These can be assembled a few hours prior to serving and refrigerated

Pigs in a Blanket

The thought of the Cubs in the World Series must have subconsciously inspired me to make hot dogs! Though these are elegant little cocktail wieners……


3 Tbsp butter

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

1 Tbsp water

1 package of thawed, but still cold, frozen puff pastry (2 sheets)

1 package of cocktail wieners, or regular hot dogs sliced in half vertically, sliced again into 1 ½ – 2” pieces.

Fancy mustard for dipping

Pre-heat oven to 375°

In a skillet;

Melt butter

Sautee onions until a beautiful golden color

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Once cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces


In a small bowl, whisk together;



Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Working quickly, one sheet at a time, unroll puff pastry

Cut into triangles, 2” wide at the base, 3” high at the point

Place 1 tsp of onion mixture at the base of the triangle

Place hot dog on top of onions

Roll from the base up to the triangle, sealing at the top with a little egg wash

Line up on the baking sheet and repeat with second sheet of puff pastry

Lightly brush each piece with the egg wash

You can prepare the Pigs in a blanket up to this point and refrigerate until ready to cook

Place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden and puffy

Transfer to a platter and serve with your hot mustard

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

1 lb cooked and deveined shrimp, if frozen, thawed (I used the smallest, salad size so they were really easy to eat in one bite)

½ cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp red pepper

2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano

2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1 loaf French or baguette bread, sliced

In a Zip-loc baggie, combine;


½ cup olive oil





1 lb thawed shrimp

Marinade in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight

Pre-heat oven to 250°

Spray a small pan with non-stick spray

Place 1 pint of cut tomatoes

Drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Roast for one hour

Place the other pint of tomatoes in a mixing bowl

When you remove the roasted tomatoes from the oven, add them to the fresh chopped tomatoes in the bowl

Pre-heat the oven to 350°

Place marinated shrimp in a small oven safe pan

Roast for 20-30 minutes, until golden

Cool slightly and add to the tomato mixture


Pre-heat broiler or grill

Slice French bread into 1” pieces

Lightly brush one side with olive oil

Broil or grill until a light golden brown

Top each slice of bread with a generous Tbsp of the shrimp and tomato mixture

Plate and serve

And the Oscar goes to…….the tasty and delicious Academy Awards feast!

See you at the movies……….

For the recipes for my Hot Crab dip and the Chicken Chili Wontons please visit me at my website:


More movies, more stars, more entertainment, more tasty morsels…..

Chopped BLT Salad Spears

Fancy Pigs In A Blanket

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta on FoodistaShrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta


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