A Tale of Two Proms, Forty One Years Apart (Part II)

So you heard how prom went in 1969 – now a guest blog from my sister Bonnie about her daughter’s prom held a few weeks ago in San Francisco.

Ahhhh, prom season has arrived and all that it entails. I was lucky enough to have two daughters who “allowed” me to indulge my girlie side and accompany them to try on dresses, select accessories, and of course, pay for said items. Fortunately, I was also privileged to hold the pre-prom party for each of the girls and their myriad of prom-going friends.

While I attended my senior prom in my high school commons, the couples and singles attending the prom in our area of California go out of town to a swanky place for the event; our Rosie girl (fuschia dress above) was to join 750 of her classmates at San Francisco City Hall and arrive there via a limousine built for 10. (Annie once traveled to prom on a tricked-out limo/bus that held 24!) Those traveling in Rosie’s limo and their parents received invitations by mail to a soiree held at our home to enjoy light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, and take photos to their heart’s content. It was fun to see the beautiful girls, suddenly all grown up in their updos and jewel-encrusted gowns, and the boys dressed to the nines, holding doors and champagne flutes with aplomb. Our al fresco buffet consisted of an assortment of cheeses, tropical fruit kebabs, homemade baby quiches, shrimp cocktail, mozzarella/tomato/olive skewers, and various sweet treats. We all enjoyed the beauty of the evening, the views, and especially the kids getting a kick out of how fabulous they were. The photos continued until they boarded the limo, with some folks climbing aboard for that special shot! I was so thrilled to see Rosie looking so happy, silly and beautiful. Best of all, just as she entered her carriage, I saw Rosie scanning the crowd to find me, gave me a soft smile, and a really sweet, “Bye, Mom!” Mom - best job ever.

A Tale of Two Proms, Forty One Years Apart (Part I)

I have a treat for you – not one but two prom stories. One from my youth and a current one from my sister Bonnie about my niece Rosie and her very recent prom. I know there is that old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” but I am here to tell you, in the case of Prom Night THAT JUST IS NOT TRUE. I am pretty sure no teen of today would trade their prom for what we experienced in 1969.

I attended a very small high school – only 76 people in my class and we did not have a traditional prom. We had what was called “The Sophomore-Senior Farewell” which really only meant the sophomores had to do all the work in putting on the prom for the juniors and seniors. The sophomores were allowed to attend, but first they had to pull it all together.

Here is how it went – you found yourself a date, you went shopping at the local mall for a dress (none of this going to Chicago or NYC for a dress or having one custom-made like they do now). In my day “custom” meant you sewed it yourself in Home Ec class. But that is beside the point. You told the boy what color your dress was, even if he didn’t ask, so you could make him aware he needed to buy you a corsage and you hoped and prayed that he (or his mom) came up with something nice, not a gigantic thing of carnations that went up to your elbow. We all wanted a “nosegay.” They cost a little more and they were all the rage. I was lucky enough to have a good date who bought me a daisy and yellow rose nosegay when I was a sophomore and I spent the entire day of the dance opening the refrigerator so I could stare at it!

Your date did not wear a tux, just a sport coat and tie and he arrived at your house in whatever vehicle he could borrow. LIMOS were unheard of in Lorain, OH. If there were any, they were used for funerals only. Your mom took your photo, you met your friends and went to dinner in town, (usually at Perkins or Big Boy) where you were very conscious not to order anything pricey in case the boy didn’t have enough money.

You went to the dance. You had a choice – slow dance or fast dance, nothing “dirty” about it. Then, you went home unless you had a really good date who took you out to eat again at Big Boy. NO AFTERPARTY, NO COED SLEEPOVERS, NO BRUNCHES –
just back home to bed where you could dream about the evening.

I have some very good memories like dancing the last dance to “A Summer Place”-“where it may rain or storm, but I’m safe and warm” – And that’s how it was!

Read later this week for a special story about my niece’s fabulous 2010 prom!


Mom and the Wine and More

I recently returned to Cincinnati to both visit my friends and attend two baby showers for Stephanie (Baby Jackson is due very soon) – but before I got to Cincinnati I stopped to see Mom.

Mom was SO excited – you see my brother John, (her favorite child, which she actually does acknowledge) was going to be inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame. So when I arrived Mom was all involved in getting ready for the big visit. John and his wonderful wife Sherry were coming from Arizona, my brother Bill from Texas and our younger brother Mike and his wife from Florida.

Oh was Mom was in a tizzy, planning meals and entertainment and mostly thinking about the new BIG SCREEN TV her boys were going to help her get and set up. She was glad to see me, primarily because I would take her to the grocery store and help her carry all the groceries she needed to buy, then load the car and take them home and put them away. We are talking the non-perishables, like BEER and WINE and after a stop at the liquor store, some good bourbon too.

Now, here is the funny part of the story. Mom said John had called and told her that Sherry (OK – her name is really Shelly but we call her Sherry) liked white wine, in particular something Mom wrote down as PEANUT GRINGO. This cracked me up, since what she really meant was Pinot Grigio. So we did manage to get the right thing I think. Apparently the induction ceremony was a huge success, Mom said she looked so nice and my three brothers were the most handsome men in the room. Hmmm…Mom is already deaf, but I had no idea she was losing her eyesight too! Anyway, the 50” giant TV is in place, she is thrilled and there you go. Mom had a great few days with her boys and she is still smiling about it. I am not sure my sister and I were even invited!!

Oh – I forgot. Mom and I went to Michael Simon’s new restaurant (he is a Food Network personality) that just opened nearby. We had a lovely dinner that included his famous deep-fried brussel sprouts!


A Lilac Festival Without Lilacs

Each year in mid-May in Rochester, something called The Lilac Festival is held. Mike and I never seemed to get there, but this year we decided we would do it. So, today we went! I am pretty sure it is famous because last year MARTHA STEWART herself attended.

Anyway, we took a shuttle bus from the local community college to Highland Park. Tons of people, lots and lots of arts and crafts vendors (mainly that jewelry you always see that the vendors never price which makes me crazy) and photos and every conceivable item you can think of painted with some type of lilac.

We had some unseasonably warm weather here two weeks ago and all the lilacs bloomed, so sadly, there weren’t any lilacs to see. But we did enjoy a Dixie Band on the main stage and Mike had a gigantic Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions and since it was a beautiful day, we had a lot of fun. When we got home, I went to my neighbor’s who has a late-blooming lilac bush and I took a photo for you.

When I was a little girl, the lilacs would bloom at the first of May. Right around May Crowning my mom would cut me a bouquet from the bush outside my bedroom window, wrap it in wet paper towels and foil and I would proudly bring them to school along with about 30 other kids in my class. Lilacs, along with forsythia and tulips and blooming magnolia trees always herald spring. I hope you have a spring in your step and that this spring makes you feel young and happy!


California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Pizza Or My Take On It

If you have ever been to a California Pizza Kitchen, I hope you have ordered their BBQ chicken and gouda Pizza (called The Original BBQ Chicken) because it is delicious. It is great to dine at CPK, but I have figured out a way to make the pizza at home and it really is just as good!


Please read the recipe through before starting as there is some prep work involved.

One pizza crust – now there are a lot of ways to do this. My grocery sells pre-made crusts as well as nice soft dough you can make a crust from and there is always Pillsbury with their ready-made dough in the refrigerated section of your store. You can also make your own. I taught you how to do this last summer when I made the Rosemary Pizza Crusts.

Lay the dough on a cookie sheet. Top with your favorite BBQ sauce (I love Cincinnati’s Montgomery Inn Sauce) and spread to the edge. Don’t overdo it – this pizza is not as mellow as a traditional pizza. Top with about 1c. shredded mozzarella. Next, top with 1-2 chicken breasts you have already roasted and diced into small pieces. Now, here, we vary from CPK and we add my FAVORITE ingredient – BACON! Fry about 6 slices of bacon in a pan, drain and chop and layer on the pizza. Top with sliced or shredded smoked gouda cheese, then drizzle with more BBQ sauce. Cook in a 425 degree oven about 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bottom of crust is nice and brown.

CPK adds sliced red onion but I personally feel it can overpower the cheese and chicken and let’s face it – I just love bacon way more! I think this would be a great cocktail appetizer – cut the pizza in small squares and serve with drinks. Your friends would love it!


A Wonderful Cincinnati Week

Well, what a time I have had! I recently traveled to Cincinnati to both visit my friends and to attend a baby shower for my daughter-in-law, Stephanie. That’s right, Becky is about to become a BABA – that’s what my Macedonian heritage calls a grandma. I have been doubly blessed as our daughter Adrienne is also expecting a baby in late September.

Since my Stephanie is due in late June two of my dearest friends, Pat and Teri hosted a lovely baby shower for her. I came to Cincinnati from Rochester and Adie came in from Boston and of course Stephanie (and Andy too) were in from LA.

I had the best week ever. First on the journey I stopped in Lorain to see my Mom who is a nutty as ever (more on that trip later), then I continued south to Cincinnati. I arrived on Wednesday around noon and immediately met my good friend and former neighbor Kathy for a fun, quick lunch. I was staying at Kathy’s for a few nights and I was so looking forward to hanging out with Kathy and her very cute and funny husband, Tony.

They lived up to my expectations, complete with a lovely private room and bath, wine, appetizers, a beautiful buffet breakfast and even an intercom system to entertain me. It was like staying at a very posh bread and breakfast that included wine and pizza and laughs. Kathy’s home looked beautiful and I was proud to say I helped her with its design. Her dog Millie was charming as always and we got to sit on her deck with all her flowers blooming – Kathy is a world class gardener and it was all so pretty. As a matter of fact when Andy was married, Kathy told me what to buy and she came over and planted my pots for me – they were gorgeous. We had a great time.

On Sunday (after spending a few days visiting friends and having such a fun time) the baby shower took place. Stephanie received lovely gifts from friends and family. Teri and Pat had an incredible buffet with so many choices – chicken salad, marinated sundried tomatoes with cream cheese, turkey and spinach rollups and so many other items, including a lavish spread of sweets from Cincinnati’s premiere bakery The BonBonerie.

It was so nice for me to be surrounded by my friends, my two daughters (both expecting baby boys) and to feel the friendship and love I always feel when I am “home.” Here is a photo of Steph at the shower holding a quilt Mike's mom made for the new baby.


Poylnesian Beef

Many years ago, when I was first married, my dad used to send me recipes he would take from our local newspapers, mainly the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The following is a recipe he sent to me and I have passed it along and made it for 35 years. It is delicious, easy to make and pretty enough for company. Just ask Pudgie and Vicki.

Polynesian Beef

1 ½ lbs. boneless sirloin sliced into thin strips with all fat removed (I have on occasion used round steak and that works too)
½ c. soy sauce
1 ¼ c. water
¼ tsp. pepper
One green pepper, sliced thin
Two tomatoes cut in large chunks
One can sliced water chestnuts
Four green onions, sliced thin the long way, and include some green parts
Three stalks broccoli, chopped

In a small amount of oil, brown meat until no longer pink. Mix together the soy sauce, water and pepper, pour over meat and let simmer (not boil) for about a half hour – you can let it go a lot longer if you wish, just cover it so the juice doesn’t evaporate.

Just before serving, make some nice minute rice in your microwave (or boil the rice on your stove until almost cooked through) then add all the vegetables to the meat mixture and let simmer with the cover on for a few minutes. The vegetables should remain crisp but warmed through and they are so pretty and colorful. Serve over rice. This keeps very well and if you have any leftovers just warm them up the next day. Or do what I do and eat them cold!