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Posts Tagged ‘Italian heritage’

 

In honour of mothers on their special day, I asked myself what decorating secrets did I learn from my Mom…

mom carol and I

She made our home beautiful, chic and inspiring while juggling both a full-time job and being a mother. I learned about fabrics and sewing from my mom. She was an extraordinary seamstress. When I was little, I loved going to the fabric store with her — it was a world of imagination and creativity. She taught me to appreciate quality, natural fibers like wools, silks and fine cotton. Now working with fabrics is one of my favorite parts of decorating.

Another important lesson she taught me,  never to buy what I don’t need: a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something important. I also learned all about color selection and furniture arranging from her. We lived in Brooklyn NY in a 6 room apartment, she always kept it fresh, ever changing.. and I firmly believe that had this wonderful woman been any less interested in our family home as I grew up, I might not be where I am today.

My mother taught me that it’s important to develop personal style,  buy the best quality you can afford and mix family pieces, antiques and comfortable upholstered furniture– eat in the dining room, use your china or better dishes on Sundays.. I learned to respect our home and everything within it, including my mother.

My mom used to rearrange the furniture a lot — it’s surprising how furnishings can look completely new when viewed from a different angle or in a different room. She also taught me that every window looks empty and cold unless softened by a window treatment, she changed hers often.

She was never afraid of bold patterns, I remember her sewing room or the SPARE ROOM, we had large orange and yellow wall paper, and smaller floral wall paper on the ceiling.. It was cutting edge at the time..

When I was little, my mother always dressed — she was glammed up even when cleaning the house. From her, I learned to dress and decorate with the intent to be gorgeous, having no fear of color.

I will end here with a couple of ideas for what to do for your mom..

Source and pay for a house cleaning service for a few months. A house cleaning every two weeks, I’m sure all moms would appreciate the break. That being said, do not buy her a vacuum, cleaning supplies, or tools unless she specifically asks for them. I’m looking at you Dad.

Brunch was always a favorite of mine.. I loved to go to a special Italian place locally that served cured meats..fresh fruits..baked delights and my family would all laugh and enjoy the meal together…

table scape

Spend time, yes…time… take the day and pull out pictures, family vacations reminisce with her, make cookies sit and have a cup of coffee.. Love her and let her know that she is the most important women in your life.

Mom and Dad

 

Miss you Mother Theresa…All my love

 

XOXO

 

M

 

 

 

 

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guido Guido was one of my favorite cousins growing up in Brooklyn. Now living in Upstate New York one of my favorite places to visit is Guido’s Ice Cream Parlor in Albany..  Recently I  thought… why can’t we eat ice cream for breakfast????  how is it that different from milk and cereal, except in format?   Guido's Italian Ice Should some foods — like ice cream  — be off limits for breakfast?   I think not!  L.O.L…Let me say that ice cream is one of my favorite foods in the whole world; I like all kinds, with all sorts of toppings, and I have been known to find reasons to partake in this yummy treat multiple times within a single day. I mean compare your yogurt and your ice cream label…or your granola and your cone ingredients (or sugar content)! It’s all a numbers game my friends….   Growing up in Brooklyn, Italian Ice runs in my veins! This past weekend we had family in for the weekend so we headed out Saturday to Guido’s for some Italian Ice and to pick up some ice cream for home. Last night we finished dinner and brought out the ice cream from Guido’s for desert…. it was so much better than the supermarket ice cream that we normally have on hand. As we dished some out, my niece decided she wanted hers in a cone… guido's ice cream       I can honestly say I have never seen someone eat an ice cream cone by starting with chomping into the cone just below the ice cream . When I saw this we realized there was no way to salvage the situation so we just let the little honey bunny eat the cone in whatever way she wished.

She finished the whole thing………………………. then she had a bath………………………………. then we did the laundry..

I’ll end here today with this thought when I grew up we didn’t have a dishwasher, I’ve found that some shortcuts in life are worth it. And eating ice cream off paper plates is one of them.

Stay Tuned…for more adventures in Styleland…

XOXO

M

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Carol, Mom and Me

As you may already know, La mia famiglia (both my husband and I) e’ italiano!!! We have great tradition in our home. Our girls Giovanna and Rosaria have come to terms with being italian. I use to think…  well we never really watched the Soprano’s but we have spent many holidays with my family and my in-laws, so my girls have a good idea of what life was suppose to be like, ya know .  They always enjoy when Grandma Theresa is home on Sundays,  the never-ending meal( that comes after mass of course) and the great deserts that end our day late in the evening.  When we get together its always chaos and there is always laughter, a story or two and a huge meal.

Cuisine is definitely a very important aspect of Italian culture. Italian food is highly famed: greatly loved and tirelessly imitated the world over, it has been a source of endless pleasure. My mother (aka Mother Theresa)  as everyone knows is a great influence on our whole family especially when it comes to The Sunday Dinner.

Here is a little excerpt from my darling niece Lauren’s blog about my mother,  her grandmother, daughter to my sister, my mothers other daughter from the same mother (did you follow that??)  which is just hysterical, (dinner at my house with Mother Theresa and Lauren Summer of 2010):

Lauren Mom and I

“This lady could out cook, clean and guilt you into submission before you even had a chance to move! Martha Stewart wishes she was half the lady my grammy is! This past sunday we had “Sunday Dinner” at my Aunt’s house.  For all you non-Italians out there that means you settle in for a 5 hour, non-stop eat and yenta-fest! Husbands beware! We began the meal with a fresh zucchini and black olive pizza, followed by a spinach and artichoke dip with garlic herb pita bread (and yes these are all homemade, nothing store-bought or frozen here!) then we had some grilled pineapples and peaches with balsamic vinegar. Oh, I’m sorry, did you think that was it? Ha! That was just the appetizers!

After a light respite from eating and a short dip in the pool and a nap for Gram(we ate outside and after 2 hours who couldn’t slip right into a food coma?) it was time for the main courses! Eggplant Parmesan, grilled corn on the cob, fresh garlic and cheese sausage and salad. Now comes the good stuff! Coffee and pastry from Villa Italia!

My grandmother’s favorite is the chocolate cannoli and a little bit Sfogliatel. I guess I inherited my sweet tooth from her! It musta been at the Nutatella sandwiches! And yes, I know it’s Nutella but at 15 when I tried to tell Theresa that, (after finally reading it on the label) she replied, “yeah, that’s what I said Nutatella!”  And really, who could argue with that!”

That’s my mom!! She is always tired, and always has an ache somewhere, she has been old since she was in her 40’s. We use to hear her coming up the stairs in our third floor apartment in Brooklyn, she was like a train.. “oh, ahh, oh mio dio”, and the ever popular ” oy”, but whatever she cooked our hearts would quite simply glow!

Italian cookery is exceptionally varied, nutritious and healthy; traditions have been handed down from one family to the next over the centuries, and are associated mainly with country life in that dishes are directly linked to what the Earth produces over the changing seasons: in other words, wholesome cooking whose goodness depends on all-natural ingredients. Italian cooking is full of marvellous single pasta dishes made with all types of vegetables and pulses. These are also the prime ingredients for many local specialities though countless types of meat dishes abound, as well as fine fish from the plentiful seas around the peninsula, fragrant cheeses and exceptional desserts. But the undisputed star of Italian dining is the famous “first course”, in all its many varieties.

It must always be remembered that generally speaking, the origins of the most widely known traditional dishes derive from humble peasant cooking and from what was eaten by the poorer classes, which over the years have transformed into veritable “specialities”. All of this goes to show that the goodness of any dish depends above all on the magical combination (always “unique”) achieved through an unrepeatable fusion of flavours and aroma, cooking times and the balancing of single ingredients, individual “creative” skills and care taken over all stages of preparation. We lived in Brooklyn where we had every ingredient at our finger tips,herbs on the fire escape, fresh vegetables, fish and of course Joe and Tony’s  the butcher on the corner of  Gates Avenue where any cut of meat or mutton was available (even the lamb’s head!).  The stories of my Great Aunt Katie, the lamb in the basement, the chickens on the fire escape and the wine make from the grapes in the yard, we will save for another time.  At times all that’s needed in italian cookery is a single detail or a tiny touch to transform an ordinary dish by “normal” standards into a veritable triumph of taste. Passion therefore is a fundamental requisite of Italian cooking and without it, as with life in general, not much can be achieved.

I will end here for now. Enjoy the Classics and invent some new ones with your family, Cioa for now!

XOXO

M

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Well it’s been a while since we’ve visited with Mother Theresa!! Sooooooo my sister Carol Ann (as Mother Theresa calls her) is my mother’s life line, I mean Mother Theresa cannot function if she doesn’t speak to my sister Carol Ann. Recently, Carol Ann had minor surgery on her knee, Well you would have thought it was a triple bypass . My poor mother was in tears!! At the hospital for her surgery the cast of family members was…. Carol’s daughter’s Lauren (my 1st niece, daughter to Carol, granddaughter to Mother Theresa, cousin to Giovanna and Rosaria, sister to two siblings Stefanie and Elizabeth, wife to Brian Draus) , my 2nd niece Stefanie (daughter to Carol, granddaughter to Mother Theresa, cousin to Giovanna and Rosaria, sister of two siblings Lauren and Elizabeth) Mother Theresa and yours truly Me, the other daughter from the same mother!!

We followed Carol Ann around from admission to recovery!! All of us, we support each other thru every moment of life no matter how monumental or insignificant. We are family (and Italian to boot). We sat we laughed, we waited and we went home. (Of course we ate and visited a wonderful new pastry shop in downtown Amsterdam called Dolci, for some cannolli and sfogliatelle in the interim!)

She was over my house Sunday, Dinner of course was wonderful!!  We did her laundry (an every Sunday chore) and washed set and placed her hair!!! Another every Sunday must!! Don’t you just love the white tear drop earings (probably Monet) !!! She is the greatest!!! So cute and Italian!!!

The newest contraption in Mother Theresa’s life is the Cellaphone, for all of us Americans its a cell phone but for Mother Theresa it’s a CELLAPHONE, you know, cousin to the Telephone!!Well as the story goes, the nursing home Mother Theresa just moved into, wanted a absorbent amount for a phone line so we just decided that we would give Mother Theresa a cell. She has poor eyesight so we programmed everyone’s number in 2-8 so she would have us all on speed dial. That is just the seven immediate people she needs to keep track of. This worked for a while, until from holding the phone in her hands she had pressed the function button on the side. The function that is assigned to the button is, The Verbal Command function!! Well this was an adventure that we will laugh about for many years, When she opens the flip phone it says “Say a command” well, lol, Mother Theresa was so upset, she calls me and says “What command does it want???, Every time I open this cellaphone its asking me for a command, what does it want from me!!”Well we were rolling on the ground! This is only the beginning of the story, I call Verizon and ask them if there is anyway she can use her home phonewith the large number pad? They were very helpful and gave me a device called “Verizon home phone connect”

This was great! I thought…….But nooooo!!!! she now says” I think I want the cellaphone back!”,  she likes the fact that the screen changes when she gets a phone call so she can tell if someone has called her! Another reason she wants to switch back to the CELLAPHONE is that she cannot work the speed dial on her home phone she keeps erasing the numbers OMMMMGGGG!!!! It’s always an adventure with Mother Theresa stay tuned to find out whether we keep the home phone or go back to the CELLAPHONE!

XOXO

M

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