Sunday, September 28, 2008

Style: Rock on, Lamar Sorrento—Purchasable Paintings with an Attitude

Affordable art + rock ‘n’ roll = Lamar Sorrento. A self-proclaimed “world famous artist and musician,” Lamar Sorrento is pure rock ‘n’ roll. In his hometown of Memphis, Sorrento is playing music, performing music, or painting a likeness of any musician who has inspired him. Although Sorrento has gained some celebrity, his art prices have remained—for lack of a better word—cheap. For as low as $75, you can be the proud owner of a Sorrento-original, encased in one of his “incredibly unprofessional self-made frames.” (I should note here, that the homemade frames are almost as cool as Sorrento’s artwork.)

At Sorrento’s DIY-feeling website, become an arm-chair voyeur by catching a glimpse of his 2006 Christmas card photo; a tribute to his deceased cat, Marvin; a list of celebrity clients; and, more importantly, his studio and paintings. If you don’t see anything you like, e-mail the very-responsive Sorrento to directly commission a piece of your own. For a marginal mark-up, you can also purchase a Sorrento at Yard Dog, gallery home of the prolific artists and musicians, Jon Langford and Daniel Johnston. In a time when most music-inspired artists are wooed by the almighty dollar, Sorrento manages to produce paintings that are backed by a genuinely rock ‘n’ roll spirit—gritty and at bargain-basement prices. Details: and

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Adventure Chicago: Roscoe Village

I am really lucky to live in Chicago and have, on any given day, hundreds of boutiques in arm's reach. With this being said, one of my favorite neighborhoods to frequent is Roscoe Village. The main drag lies between Damen and Western Avenues on the once sleepy Roscoe Street (a mere ten years ago, there wasn't much there). Today, Roscoe Village is home to many boutiques, restaurants, bars, and a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare. I thought I would pay homage to several of my favorites that should be added to any shopper's travel list.

Glam to Go: Owner, Jenny Flynn, is what makes this place more than just another woman’s boutique—her sublime attitude and eclectic sense entice patrons to stop in over and over again. Her store carries Weston Wear, Topin, 525 America, Rebecca Beeson, and Tano. But, what makes this store really unique, are all the cool accessories she carries—one-of-a-kind necklaces, hand-blown glass rings, silky headbands, and patent clutch bags. The best part is that most of her accessories are priced under $50. This low-key, funky boutique is a destination not to miss. Details:

Sacred Art: Sarah Chazin quit the restaurant biz to open this affordable, neighborhood art store. The place is intimate and chock-full of hundreds of original pieces, most by local Chicago artists and priced at $150 or less. She carries photography, assorted paintings, glass wall hangings, pottery, jewelry, and many other interesting finds. Recently, she has started offering custom framing and tries to give the best price in town. Her tag line is “art is not a luxury”—at these prices, it really isn’t. Details:

Roscoe Blooms: This small flower shop is so serene, you may want to grab a coffee and spend the afternoon here. Step inside this cozy storefront and feel as if you have left the bustling city. Beautiful Jade, Orchids, and Asian Lanterns adorn this stop. There are small plants of all varieties, unique cards, and beautiful fresh cut flowers. Bouquets are wrapped in chocolate brown paper with lavender tissue. Rumor has it that Leslie, the owner, may be opening a home store. If it is anything like Roscoe Blooms, I will be banging the door down when it opens. Details:

Hard Boiled: This seemingly conventional record shop is anything but. The store carries an abundance of Indy rock and vinyl. If you are a music lover, adventurer, or just in need of some nostalgia, stop by this gem. You could spend hours flipping though the vinyl collection or ask the owner, Mark, for a recommendation and he will play you a CD or two. I have never left the store disappointed. Guaranteed you will leave with a smile and some great new music for your collection. Details:

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gastronomy: French 95

The French 75 is a champagne cocktail that dates back to the Franco-American War. Traditionally, it is made with gin, sugar, lemon juice, and topped with champagne, although, hardcore “mixologists” argue whether cognac was used in the original concoction. I had my first French 75 at a terrific Chicago restaurant called Sepia. The Sepia version includes the additional ingredient of orange bitters. The drink is citrusy, strong, and delicious.

Last weekend, while enjoying one of the last summer evenings outside, we decided to make some fun cocktails—of course, the French 75 came to mind. I ended up using a version from the man who is coined the “king of the cocktail," Dale Degroff. His creation, the French 95, is made with bourbon, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, and champagne. This was truly one of the best drinks I have ever had—smooth, sweet, tangy, and, well, just perfect. It might just replace the margarita as the quintessential summer drink. Cheers!

Recipe for the French 95, from Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. (Incidentally, if you don’t own this book, it is a must for any “foodie” library. It is the ultimate cocktail encyclopedia, filled with historical facts, definitions, and recipes for just about every libation on the planet!)

¾ oz bourbon
¾ oz simple syrup* (see below)
½ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz fresh orange juice

Shake first four ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker; strain into goblet and top with champagne.

*Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is one of those amazing “condiments” that adds the perfect sweetness to martinis, mixed drinks, iced tea, and iced coffees. Basically, any cold drink you would add sugar to, you could use simple syrup instead. It is made with only sugar and water and adds sweetness without having gritty sugar settle on the bottom of the drink.

Traditionally, simple syrup is made on the stove with equal parts water and sugar—bringing water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Dale Degroff recommends filling a cork bottle with equal parts sugar and water—I have found warm water works best. You then shake it vigorously until sugar dissolves. The syrup may be stored in the fridge for several weeks. This process eliminates using the stovetop and is made quickly without the extra mess—who wouldn’t want that? Details: for Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail.

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About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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