Friday, August 14, 2009

Style: Robots, Aliens, and Godzilla, Oh My—Doug Spalding's Colorful Ceramic Tiles

I am well aware that what I am about to say is a bit geeked-out, but I have always been strangely attracted to robots. Maybe this fascination can be traced back to my younger days sitting in front of the television watching Johnny Sokko, but, whatever the reason, I am always in search of artwork with a robot theme.

Doug Spalding, a Michigan-based artist, works with clay to create amazing, colorful, ceramic art. He predominantly crafts pop art tiles that are fun and entertaining (everything from yetis to corn dogs). Many of his pieces frequently get an audible giggle out of me when I see the playful images he conjures up.

One of his reoccurring themes are robots and, if you can't imagine a robot being striking, then you haven’t experienced one of Doug’s vibrant ceramics. He also makes quite a few tiles that focus on architecture and music (my sister's obsession)—each tile a unique story in itself. His art is always approachable, sometimes silly, and never takes itself too seriously. His tiles make terrific, surprising gifts for adults and kids alike. And even if your love for robots isn’t as fervent as mine, it's guaranteed that Doug has something for you, too. Details:

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Obsession: Find Everything Merz Online

Merz Apothecary is a family owned European-style drugstore located on the north side of Chicago. With their herbal remedies, homeopathies, and natural bath and body care, they have been lifting spirits and relaxing their clientele for over a century. Recently, I found out they have a wonderful website that carries their full line of mostly European products. Their site is chock-full of aromatic candles, soaps, creams, and lip glosses—many brands that are unique to Merz. Their distinctive selections make one-of-a-kind gifts or a special treat for you (God knows we all could use a little R & R). The only component missing from ordering online is the fragrant aromas that float in the air when you arrive at the store. You'll have to pay a visit to the Windy City to experience that! Details:

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Gastronomy: Limoncello, a Golden Labor of Love

The time-honored Girl Scout song persistently played in my head while writing this week’s entry. Even if you weren’t a Girl Scout, you know the song: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.”

Moving to a new place offers many rewards, but no reward is sweeter than spending time with new friends bearing a gift of homemade limoncello. Their daughter spent time in Italy and, while visiting, they made this sweet nectar of the gods together. With limoncello gaining popularity, it’s easy to pick-up a bottle from your local supermarket, but nothing (and I repeat, NOTHING) compares to the real deal.

After spending an evening enjoying good food, rousing conversation, belly-splitting laughs, and this love-laden Italian digestif, I begged to be brought in on the secret. My new, silver friends have already been upgraded to gold!


Phase 1 Ingredients

  • 1 glass, gallon container with air-tight lid
  • 17 lemons
  • 2 bottles of Everclear 151 grain alcohol (750 ML)

Phase 2 Ingredients

  • 5 ½ c water
  • 6 c sugar

Phase 3 Ingredients

  • Small bottles, that can easily be stored in the freezer, sealed with rubber stoppers
  • Funnel

Phase 1 Instructions
For the first phase, peel the outer skin from the lemons (the zest), making sure that no white is attached to the zest. Place peeled zest in the gallon container and cover with Everclear. Seal container and store for two weeks in a dark, cool place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.

Phase 2 Instructions
After two weeks, make the simple syrup. Bring water to boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the Everclear contents from the gallon container. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about one minute. Transfer back to the gallon container and store for three weeks in a dark, cool place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.

Phase 3 Instructions
After three weeks, transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles that can be stored in the freezer. After a meal, serve limoncello in small, cordial glasses, directly from the freezer.

Limoncello offers a matchless host and hostess gift, a scrumptious dessert, and the best way to send-off a memorable evening. Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obsession: Caramel Royalty

After our dear friends stayed for a visit, they sent us a royal thank you gift of King Caramels. Their life-long friend, Hedy Anderson, recently transformed herself from recognized handbag designer to queen of the kitchen. Her Vashon-made caramels are salt-kissed, buttery treats. Select the bag weight of your choice and order online to experience this rich indulgence, good enough for a king! Details:

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Adventure (26) Gastronomy (38) Obsession (39) Style (26)

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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