Thursday, August 26, 2010

Style: Threadless—Exceptional Tees with a Sense of Humor

In a society where you can buy so-called vintage tees at Old Navy, replica Arts and Crafts pottery at Target, and duplicated art prints at Poster Plus for all under 10 bucks, it's no wonder that most of us stick to big box store shopping. After all, time is precious and spending extra cash on extraneous possessions is simply not doable. Right? Not necessarily so. Sometimes the greatest joys in life involve spending a little extra money and time hunting for the eclectic, local, vintage, or special, one-of-a-kind item.

The MCMs have been longtime fans of a local Chi-town t-shirt company by the name of Threadless. Members of the "Threadless community" submit t-shirt designs online, where each one is voted on by the public. Selected designs are printed in limited supply and sold online and at their Chicago locations. After sporting our own Threadless tees for ten years, Threadless has finally introduced Threadless Kids. Now MCM children are able to wear and enjoy these shirts just as much as their parents do.

No matter who the artist, each Threadless design displays a keen sense of humor, designed with kids in mind. The kid’s tees include everything from a sausage hugging cheese to a cow that attempts to jump over the moon but manages to get stuck. These whimsical images are sure to put smiles on faces, giggles in throats, and spawn conversation between you and the little person in your life. In addition, Threadless offers art prints that can be framed or stretched on canvas for an additional opportunity to showcase their wares. Threadless has brilliantly proved that not every t-shirt is alike and sometimes it's just as easy to seek out something distinctive and creative instead of ordinary and accessible. Details:

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Adventure Long Beach: We Heart Retro Row

Usually tourists and locals pass through Long Beach, California because they’re on their way to San Diego or Los Angeles. Occasionally, they may stop for a few hours to take in the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, or for a quick bite at a popular Belmont Shore eatery (which, by the way, is a whole article within itself.) However, Long Beach is more than a North-South passageway and extends beyond the fashionable Belmont Shore district. The heart of Long Beach lies in Retro Row—a four-block strip that specializes in vintage furniture, clothing, and hobbies (think roller derby and long boarding). Even the restaurants, coffee shops, and the local movie theatre have a retro aura about them. Located on East 4th Street between Ross and Wisconsin Avenues, the next time you’re passing through Long Beach, take an afternoon to stop, shop, and prowl the strip. Details:

Art Theatre
This beautiful art-deco gem shows independent, classic, and fan-favorite films, including daily 11:00 matinees and midnight double features. A coffee and wine bar included! Details:

Imonni specializes in the most tasteful men and women’s vintage garments and accessories. Clothing can be custom-tailored or altered to fit your taste right on site. Details:

Meow’s collection includes vintage clothing from the ‘40s through the ‘90s, most of which has never been worn. Highlights include blue and red-striped bowling shoes, rhinestone-embossed cat-eye glass frames, and colorfully silky smoking jackets. Details:

Craft-Mafia inspired, Songbird houses a collection of funky and one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, jewelry, and home wares made by local artists and crafters. Details:

Vintage Collective
Transform your home into the Mad Men set at this expansive Mid-Century Modern shop. Find everything from couches and coffee tables to bowling balls and the Mystery Date board game. Details:

Pike Bar & Grill
At the end of the strip sits the Pike, owned by Social Distortion’s former drummer, Chris Reece. Belly-up to this rehabbed diner’s bar for an ice-cold PBR accompanied by a grilled cheese with hand-cut fries or an order of fish ‘n’ chips. Enjoy the eclectic jukebox and the Social D posters that adorn the walls. Details:

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Style: Highway Designs for Today and Tomorrow

We first discovered Highway bags at our friend’s boutique, Glam to Go, in Chicago’s Roscoe Village. Each time I sport that purse, I’m flooded with compliments. This pragmatic, yet whimsical, bag has served me so well over the years, I thought it was time to go directly to the source.

Highway is New York fashion designer Jem Filippi’s second collection of wallets, computer-, shoulder-, and hand-bags. Her only store, located in Manhattan’s fashionable Nolita district, showcases her designs, constructed with Japanese nylons and soft leathers. Since we all can’t live in close proximity of Nolita, it’s important to note that these beauties can be found in over 100 boutiques across the country and also viewed online. From Filippi’s website, choose your style, color, and fabric and simply contact the Highway store for payment and delivery (or to find a boutique that carries the Highway brand near you).

Don’t be taken aback by the prices—Highway products are constructed with panache and durability. With over two dozen styles to choose from and a variety of beautiful color combinations, it’s easy to find a bag that suits your taste today and will still be wearable for many seasons to come. Details: or 212.966.4388 for orders and delivery.

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Gastronomy: Classic Lasagna

Recently, I had a rather hearty laugh reading about the very-Italian Matilda Cuomo (the mother of politician Andrew Cuomo) and her thoughts on Andrew's longtime girlfriend’s rendition of lasagna. Sandra Lee, Food Network’s notoriously awful cook and host of Semi-Homemade, believes that lasagna is prepared with cottage cheese and canned tomato soup. Supposedly Mr. Cuomo's favorite meal, his mother commented, “…that’s not the way lasagna should be made.” You need not be Italian, a famous chef, or even a consummate foodie to make that statement. Sandra's version of the classic dish sounds plain awful. Unfortunately, she is not the only person to be under the evil assumption that lasagna is a layering of grisly ground beef, a jar of Ragu, and cottage cheese.

Lasagna done wrong is one of the world’s most terrible casseroles and lasagna done right (and there are many renditions) couldn’t be more delicious. Here is my recipe for lasagna and a classic, easy marinara sauce—both can be prepared a day in advance. Made with three fresh cheeses, olive oil, and wine-rich sauce, this dish is still easy without having to subject your family to bland, curded cheese swimming in a sea of Campbell’s.

Basic Tomato Basil Sauce

4 T olive oil
½ can tomato paste
4 handfuls or 1 c chopped fresh basil
4 large cloves minced garlic
2 T finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1 T dried
4 28 oz cans tomato sauce
1 c red wine
¼ c grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a large pot over low to medium heat. Sauté garlic until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano. Add red wine and reduce until almost completely dissipated. Add tomato sauce, cheese, and paste. Bring to a heavy simmer. Cook over medium-heat, one hour; cook over low-heat additional hour, stirring occasionally.

Sausage Lasagna

1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 package (16 sheets) no-bake lasagna pasta
2 eggs
1/2 c grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
15 oz container of fresh ricotta cheese
2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
½ lb sliced mozzarella cheese
1 recipe Basic Tomato Basil sauce
1 c chopped bail (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, ricotta, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, and parsley until blended.

Spread 1 ½ cups of sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Layer four uncooked lasagna sheets, 1/3 ricotta mixture, half of the sausage, ½ of the sliced mozzarella, and 1 - 1 ½ cups sauce.

Layer four more lasagna sheets, 1/3 ricotta mixture, and 1 - 1 ½ cups sauce.

Layer four more lasagna sheets, the remaining ricotta, the remaining sausage, and 1 - 1 ½ cups sauce.

Layer the last four lasagna sheets, 1-1 ½ cups sauce, and the remaining mozzarella slices.

Bake covered with foil for 60 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted, about 5 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Spoon warm sauce over each piece, dust with chopped basil, and serve.

Serves 8.

Helpful hints:

• Make sure sauce is thoroughly cooled, if not chilled, when assembling casserole.
• If you make the dish the night before, take out of fridge for 30 minutes prior to baking.
• When layering lasagna, spread ingredients to edges to seal in pasta during baking.
• Sausage may be replaced with 2 cups of fresh, uncooked, chopped spinach for a delicious, vegetarian alternative.

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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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