Where Fashion and Function Meet and Marry

There’s so much RIGHT with this.

versaceamaretto

…from a marketing standpoint.

…from a branding standpoint.

…a marriage of two MAJOR brands.

…aspirational and inspirational, quenching my thirst on a couple of levels.

Follow along with the way my brain works, OK?

Do you know Lizzi at Considerings?

She very kindly (after I twisted her arm) shared her amazing recipe for Lebkuchen  — a traditional German cookie — that I plan to bake in honor of the homecoming of my esteemed (German) Professor Angel Boy, also known as the boy/man who can eat more food than anyone I’ve ever known — a Guinness World Record contender – which makes baking and cooking for him a total and complete joy.

The frosting calls for Amaretto, something we don’t normally keep stocked in the Enchanted Seashells liquor cabinet.

After a massive shopping excursion at Trader Joe’s, I walked down the sidewalk (in the same shopping center) to BevMo.

I picked up a small bottle of Amaretto (along with a few other items, as long as I was there, ya know.)

In the center of the main aisle, my eye were drawn to a bright blue box — one of those promotional boxes of booze they feature around the holidays usually boasting a value added option like glasses or a shaker.

Wait, hold on a minnie.

This was DeSaronno Amaretto, but a larger bottle than the one I had in hand, and it was packaged with two pretty glasses.

OK, I didn’t really need more glasses that I’d just end up breaking, BUT I do like a bonus.

Chanel notwithstanding, I am a thrifty gal.

Upon closer inspection, the final affirmation of purchasing perfection was my realization (in slo mo) that the amaretto bottle itself was DRESSED IN VERSACE.

DRESSED IN GIANNI VERSACE.  amaretto11

Picture me doing a double take.

Wha?

Yes! Yes! Yes! A DESIGNER CLOTHED BOTTLE OF BOOZE!

(And only a few dollars more than the naked/undressed/unadorned bottle and THAT satiated my price point.)

Oh HELL YES, I said to myself as I grabbed it off the shelf.

SEASHELLS AND CHERUBS.amareatto16

I’m all verklempt, fanning myself with my shopping list.

OY. VEY.

Come to MOMMA.

A perfect marriage, a perfect union of form and function.amaretto10

A truly  brilliant marketing design.

hello kitty

Water bottle and iron on patch.

I haven’t been THIS excited since my son sent me a water bottle from Yale that featured Hello Kitty.

At the time, I thought THAT was the pinnacle of marketing heaven.

Backstory: Versace and I have a sad history.

When tugboat man and I were newly married, his father and stepmother gave me a Christmas present in a beautiful brilliantly white Versace bag with the iconic lion. Read all about my disappointment HERE @
Lesson #1. Never do this to your daughter-in-law. Ever.

The only Versace I own is that white bag.

Up until now, that is.

Now I have a stylishly dressed up bottle of booze.

Life is good, y’all!

P.S. I have the world’s worst in laws — world’s WORST. The Versace bag incident was the tip of the iceberg. It’s been downhill ever since. I have NO IDEA how my tugboat man turned into such a wonderful, loving, caring human with ‘rents like that. Truth.

Lentil Cookies v2

My son-2Even though TECHNICALLY I’m defined as an “empty nester” because my son is on his own, married, and no longer resides at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, I don’t believe he’s ever further away than my heart.

I woke up on Saturday to read this email from my Angel Boy, which is the reason why I baked cookies early this morning and sent a package off to him while they were still warm:

angelboyemail

Not ALL is perpetually enchanted in the life of Princess Rosebud; It’s still difficult to think about or talk about my son’s recent emergency life-saving surgery  — I can’t even GO there to that place of “what if” — BUT the worst diid NOT occur and he’s making a full recovery.

Briefly, here’s what happened.

He had an obstruction due to a congenital defect we never knew he had, Meckel’s diverticulum. During his surgery, 24 inches of small intestines were removed because they were necrotic, along with 8 inches of ascending colon, his appendix, and lots of other small valves and little parts.

It all came about with no warning. Crazy, right?

Here’s that “if” again. IF my DIL had not fought the ER and been his best assertive advocate to insist they take a more proactive approach to diagnosis his pain (she just would NOT GIVE UP) and IF we had not had such an amazing surgical team led by Dr. Todd Stafford  –  well, let’s just say that we are all very grateful that he had such a dedicated team of doctors. Nuff said.

He lost about twenty pounds during his ordeal, and at six feet and 160 pounds on a GOOD day, that much weight loss made this normally fit and healthy young man look emaciated.

During his post-surgical recovery, his diet was limited to low fiber and low residue foods; a lot of Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, and chicken noodle soup. No vegetables, no fruit, nothing that would interfere with the healing of multiple incisions and re-joining of internal organs.

I’m happy to report that three months after the surgery, he’s defied the odds and is back to eating pretty much everything he wants, with only minor digestive upsets.

He went back to work, teaching a summer course at Yale, and I’ve been sending him healthy cookies and high protein bars on a weekly basis —  and as requested, he’ll receive the lentil cookies on Wednesday, and that should keep him supplied until he’s here next week for a short visit. Yay!

You can be sure that I’ll be cooking and baking nonstop. I’m so HAPPY to have my Angel Boy here, surfing with tugboat man and best of all, close enough to touch and hug and play Scrabble and Bananagrams.

Every minute of every day, I’m grateful to be one of the luckiest moms in the world.

To read all about Angel Boy’s surgery, click on the following links: 

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A while back, I posted Alton Brown’s Lentil Cookie recipe that I discovered on Food Network’s website.

This time, I experimented and created a version that’s a bit more intensely nutritious.

LENTIL COOKIESAngel Boy’s Lentil Cookies

They are quite dense, full of protein and energy,  and would make a great snack for hiking.

  •  2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup brown sugar (If you use honey/agave, adjust the flour to accommodate the additional liquid)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg (or not if vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup dried fruit, I used a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apricots.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, oil, vanilla, yogurt, brown sugar. Whisk briefly to incorporate. Add peanut butter and lentil puree and mix thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, protein powder, ground flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.  Add the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer to combine. use hands to mix. Stir in dried fruit. If it seems a little dry, add yogurt. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, depending on your oven’s personality.

Lentil Puree:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool.


 

How to Bring Joy to an Empty Nester Mommy

Skypevintage adAnswer: Enjoy an hour-long Skype video conversation with her son.

That’s the highlight of my day. My Angel Boy and I Skyped for over an hour and it was rainbows and sunshine and glitter all rolled into one. The wonderfullness of seeing his face makes everything OK.

When my son first went to college, it was just down the road at UCSD (University of California at San Diego), about a half hour away. He lived on campus in a dorm for a few reasons: traffic on our freeway is horrible and would have been too stressful to drive every day, we wanted him to have a true “college” life experience, away from home —  for the first time — although we were close enough to be around if needed. He was seventeen when he was a freshman, and I really worried about him for all the reasons you can imagine.

8414969-empty-nest-isolated-on-white-with-space-for-textHe did just fine; I was the basket case.

Talk about empty nest syndrome; I was bereft, tearful, wandering into his room at all hours of the day and night…the silence was  hardest to bear. No doors slamming, “I’m home, mom, I’m hungry!” No one saying, “Hey, the guys are coming over to skate. Can we have snacks?” No one to need my help — not with anything.

That’s the hardest part of being an empty nester, I think.

It’s not being needed every day.

Sigh.

That was in 1998. We didn’t have the luxury of Skype — and mobile phones hadn’t yet attained their ubiquitous status. He had a laptop with an Ethernet connection and we thought that was a big deal.

We talked on a landline several times a week and he came home most weekends. We drove down to get him (and his laundry) and take him back with clean clothes and enough brownies and cookies and snacks to last the week.

In his junior year, he had the opportunity to go to Germany for his year abroad experience. He left for the University of Goettingen in September and I flew there in February and stayed for a week.

I met his friends and his professors and we walked for hours and talked and laughed non-stop the entire time. That’s what we’ve always done and that tops the list of what I miss most about him being all grown up and everything – besides the hugs and smiles and his messy room and being hungry all the time — he and I can talk for hours about anything.

It was a tradition started in Kindergarten. We’d leave the house every morning around 7:30 a.m. to walk our dog  before school began at 8:05 a.m. During that half hour he’d practice arithmetic, spelling, brain teasers, chat about his day in school, and what I would be doing with my time. With a final kiss and hug from me and a goodbye from his dog, he skipped off to meet his friends. Never looking back. Self confident and prepared for learning. That was my goal, and I think I accomplished it.

It’s full circle time for my Angel Boy — he’s taught freshman and seniors at Yale.  I couldn’t be prouder. When you’re a mom of a little one, you hope to plant the seeds for future life success; it’s a happy day when you see the fruits of your labor — a magnificent, tall, strong bountiful harvest. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him terribly! Sigh…

Our bountiful garden

Daily Prompt: Circle of Five

Daily Prompt: Circle of Five by michelle w. on December 12, 2012
A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If this is true, which five people would you like to spend your time with. 

My son, because life would not be worth living if he wasn’t in it.

yale prof studying

My husband because he is my BFF and he’s even my best girlfriend.

johnny depp

Not my hubs, but kind of maritime related and it’s Johnny Depp so that’s a good enough reason for me!

Hillary Clinton, ‘cos she’s totally brill and rad and tough and would be cool to hang with.

hilary clinton

My mom,’cos there’s lots I’d like to chat with her about that I didn’t get a chance to while she was living.

nurse at helm

Obvs not my mom, but she was a nurse.

Anne Frank, a tragic heroine that shouldn’t have died after trying so desperately to live.

anne frank

Abandoning the mother ship

pumpkin, pumpkin stew

Soon to be pumpkin stew

DIL and sister wife left this morning to drive back up to SF. I still have my son until tomorrow. He flies out mid-morning to the east coast and I’m not looking forward to the thirty-five minute drive and the lunacy of the airport. At its best it’s not pleasant. Now they’re undergoing major construction delays and it’s another level of Hell.  For the moment, home is reminiscent of the old days; he’s sitting at the dining room table with a computer surrounded by piles of books, only this time he’s not writing a report or research paper, he’s grading essays.

Young Yale Professor

Photo of a Yale professor in action

I can’t believe this little sk8r boy of mine goes to work and fifteen college freshman call him Professor Angel Boy. Of course, they don’t REALLY call him Angel Boy, but I think they  should. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the concept. It’s mind boggling. Especially since he still derives the greatest pleasure by shocking me with offensive earsplitting and vulgar expulsions of intestinal gas that serves as his initial form of communication when he opens the front door (Insert loud breaking wind sounds here) “Hi, mom, I’m home!” or belching as commentary while we’re enjoying a lovely meal at the dinner table, like Thanksgiving. Apparently, my laughing is an ineffective method of dissuading that kind of behavior. Sometimes I tell him he’s disgusting but he finds that a compliment rather than a criticism. His wife thinks he’s funny too; even the captain finds him humorous, shaking his head, “That’s our boy!” almost, no, not almost–completely proud of him– so it’s hopeless. The dichotomy between his academic braininess and his juvenile antics is-uh-refreshing. It’s no wonder I treat him like he’s still in the third grade. It’s as if he never left elementary school with the stupid arm farts and the other robust sounds and smells that emanate from all of his orifices. I keep my fingers crossed that when he meets with his department heads or his publisher that he remembers all the lessons in good manners we practiced and he only acts out here as the living embodiment of the prodigal son. Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Smells DELICIOUS

I’m in the kitchen baking another loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. Tonight we had Moroccan Pumpkin Stew (recipe below) with steamed brown rice and Seared Ahi ‘cos I have to make sure he gets enough protein.

It’s kind of cold, damp, and foggy; after dinner we made a fire and  played Scrabble. He won, of course–232 to 219.scrabble

An assortment of desserts; apple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookiesapple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookies

Beautiful flowers from my Angel Boy

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, well-scrubbed but not peeled, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-1/2 cups canned tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot, potato, and pumpkin and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When vegetables have softened, add the ginger and garlic. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon stick. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then add the canned tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then add the raisins. Allow to cook for 18-25 minutes until all vegetables are soft – but don’t overcook. Serve over or with brown rice.

Have rubber gloves, will travel

The tools of my trade

I’m sitting here alone in my living room, watching Lark Rise to Candleford whilst stroking the smooth black quilting of my new acquisition, my pet Chanel. I spent the entire day cleaning the house to get ready for son, DIL, and sister wife. I know it’s juvenile to call my son’s wife’s sister, “sister wife”,  but it annoys him and that makes it all worthwhile!

I think it started in 1998 when my son started college and moved just down the road a bit to have a “dorm experience” at UCSD. He lucked out with a nice boy for a roommate, but their room rapidly deteriorated. Landfill would probably be the best way to describe it. My son, the animal lover, left food outside his window for the birds, which of course brought rats, which of course he thought was cool, and kept feeding them until whoever was supposed to be in charge put an end to it.

I had gone to Bed, Bath & Beyond with the required list from school, checking off all the items that he couldn’t live without; extra long twin bed sheets, blankets, all American boy plaid comforter, a little plastic container to transport his shampoo and other toilet items to the shared bathrooms, and a large bag to collect the laundry he would bring home. Each item I threw in the basket and checked off the list was another knife to my heart and another tear rolled down my cheek. My baby angel boy was leaving. There would be no more kids trooping in to skate the halfpipe in our yard, no more boys to make cookies and smoothies for, no more driving everyone around ‘cos I was pretty much the only stay-at-home mom.

Never again would the captain and I be sneaky and follow him to his prom to make sure he was where he was supposed to be. Oh, how I long for the good old days!

UCSD is 24.5 miles away but he was only seventeen and had never been away from home unless you count a week at sixth grade camp. I worried night and day. I worried about what I did know and I worried about what I DIDN’T know he was doing. I would drive down with a care package and because I couldn’t stand it, I brought my vacuum, rubber gloves, Comet, and bleach. I was their personal maid. I didn’t do it all that often, and I don’t know how he felt about it, but I felt better. I could not stand to think he was living in that environment. When he got back from his junior year abroad in Germany, he moved into a pre-war apartment that was owned by a friend of the captain. On a semi-regular basis, I’d haul down my vacuum and other cleaning tools, and oh, yes, a pair of rubber gloves, and clean up for him. My rationale was that he was working so hard maintaining good grades that he didn’t really have time to waste on things like cleaning his toilet or doing his laundry. You do not want to know what the stove looked like, you really don’t. I scraped a couple inches of dried cheese, beans, eggs, and grease off the burners.

He’d come in the kitchen every half hour of so and say, “Good job, momma!” “I didn’t think that stuff would come off.”

“Did you even try?”

“Nope, I left it for you. Hey, I’m hungry, did you bring food?”

You might read this and think I’m joking, but I’m not. This is as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. The mold in his refrigerator should have been analyzed-the scientific world missed an opportunity to discover a new cure for something. How he didn’t end up with staph or botulism I’ll never know.

My angel boy was accepted to Johns Hopkins for graduate school. I flew back there–gloves packed in my suitcase–to clean his apartment. By then he was married to DIL, and she was just as enthusiastic to have me scrubbing their floors as my son was! One year the captain came along, and we worked as a team to give their home a thorough going over. The cap even moved the stove. We left no stove unturned, as it were.

After he left JH for Yale, I continued to follow them about the country to literally clean up behind them wherever they are, whether it’s Providence or New Haven. My friend is an RN and she gave me a box of rubber gloves to bring with me. I’m certainly the butt of many jokes, I’m sure. I was at the San Diego airport last year and the TSA agents were looking through my bag and when I explained what I was doing with the rubber gloves, she had to call over a co-worker so they could all laugh with at me!

There’s no moral to this story. There’s really no point to this story, either. I’m just the kind of mom who does things like that.