Sunday, September 30, 2012



This vegetable was a favorite during our holidays. My mother would always have them on the table. It would not be a complete holiday dinner without them. My dad’s family served it, but not my mother’s family.

There's another question I should have asked my mom, and never did is “why. “ I guess I could ask my mother’s brother, but I doubt if he would know.

The Artichoke – is a root vegetable, a green vegetable like the flower of a thistle. The choke is the heart of the artichoke and is typically pickled and jarred. In its fresh state, the choke can be tough to eat. However, if steamed it is moist, meaty, and tender. 

Artichokes are grown in California from March until May. When picking one to buy, you want to pick the heavy ones that have thick clumps, and green, not brown leaves, which is a sign of an old artichoke.

The artichoke is a delicious vegetable and a must have for the holidays, at least in our home.  Actually, I cannot remember a holiday without them.  Nona, my dad’s mom and her family introduced them to my mom. Because my dad loved them, mom became a pro at making Stuffed Artichokes.  I could not wait for a holiday because I knew I would be able to have one, my brother never did acquire the taste, nor has my family, except for my 3rd son.

There are many different ways to make artichokes. I know of two ways to stuff them. Some cooks stuff each individual leaf with breadcrumbs. I believe my family's  way is easy, takes less time, and is very tasty.  Of course I would think that way. eh? That is the taste I know. In the past I have tasted the individual stuffed leaves with breadcrumbs, along with the pickled hearts, but my favorite is my family's recipe.
At the end of this post, you can find the recipe.

Artichokes take time to eat. Once the artichoke becomes soft from being steamed, you pull the leaves off by the tip. Dip the bottom into melted butter, and use your teeth to pull off the flesh and butter. Throw away the leaf when you are done. The very best part of the artichoke for me is when I am down to the stuffing sitting on top of the heart.

I love to eat the stuffing of parsley and garlic and finish it off by eating the heart of the artichoke.  Another way I like, is to put a small amount of fresh parsley stuffing with a piece of the heart on your fork. It is" la-Bella vita!" I take small bites to make it last longer. Served with a glass of homemade red wine, I am in heaven.

Today I see artichokes in the produce section often. They are not always the best looking ones, nor are the leaves the fullest. If you are planning to steam it without stuffing it, you can make do.

Another way that many cooks make artichokes are by cutting the artichoke down the middle, drizzle with garlic oil, and steam. In addition, they sale pickled artichoke hearts in a jar. You can add it to salads or eat it along with a chunk of Italian bread.

Here is the recipe I grew up with and still use to this day:

After cleaning as best we can and discarding the lower leaves, we turn the artichoke over so the leaves are touching the counter. We then twist the artichoke back and forth to open it, ( like a tulip in full bloom.) turn it back over and cut off the stem. Not only can the artichoke now sit upright, we have the stem as a main ingredient to add in the stuffing.

The stem is cut up in small pieces, mixed  with fresh cut up parsley and whole pieces of garlic. Add salt and pepper, just a pinch, drizzle a little olive oil in, toss it with our hands, and stuff the middle (inside) of the artichoke.

Place them in a pot with a small amount of water along with a drop of olive oil. Cover and let them steam until done. Make sure to steam and not boil.

You can tell by the color of the leaves, when they are done. The leaves are bright green when placed in the pot, and they slowly change to a dark green while steaming.  Sometimes my dad would test a leaf by tasting it to see if it was tender.

Today I make only one artichoke on the holidays. It reminds me of my childhood home and I want to carry on tradition for my sons.  My one son loves it, so we both share the one.

Do you make artichokes? Share your recipe with me, could you please?




Thursday, September 27, 2012


  So, today is "My Day." 
 I decided this when I woke up this morning.   As I lay in bed I was thinking of everything I could do. You know how you do? How a million things run through your mind at once and you don't know which one should be first.
 I could start so many different projects that have been put off, or I could spend the day cleaning. I chose none.

I am without a car, and that makes it very easy for me to stay home. A soft rain has been falling most of the day, which for me is a perfect day to read. It would also be lovely to spend time on the patio, and I should have, but I didn't.

I do have the living room window opened slightly and I can smell the rainy day.  When I look out, I see the rain coming down, and I snuggle even more in my pillow on the couch, thankful that I can. I am using this big, red, fat, fluffy pillow that makes it perfect to snuggle.
One thing I love and have never regretted is putting a Bay Window in our living room. Not only does it let God's light in on a bright day, but I can see so much more when I look out. It has been 13-1/2 yrs. since we had it put in, and I still think of it as brand new.

Even my kitty kat is being lazy today, he is all curled up on Ron's recliner and sound asleep. He must know I want a day of rest, because he is usually running around wanting to play or attacking my feet.

I have not been able to shake this sinus infection, when I think it is finally gone, it flares up again, so I have declared this "My Day."

What a great day to spend reading. I can't remember the last time I did this. Plus, I have also been playing games with my cousins on my I-phone. I always lose, it's the truth. Very rarely do I win, but it is fun. I also play with a couple of friends and lose to them too. I don't know what my problem is, nor do I care. I guess I should, but I don't.  It's been a fun day, and I did not have to spend any money to enjoy it!  I took a shower and have my comfortable pj's on. It's always an easier way to relax.

Oh, I cleaned a bit, I can't read when my house is a mess. And now I'm taking a break to watch "Katie,"  I am enjoying the show, and I picked the perfect day. She has Dehlia, the woman DJ as her guest. I use to listen to her every night, and I don't know if her show is still broadcast in the Pittsburgh area.

As for Katie Couric's show, it is like seeing another Katie, she is so fun, quick to laugh and giggle. She was so formal on her evening news program.
Diane Sawyer is straight face also, and she use to be fun when she was on GMA.

 I know I should be washing clothes, but I'll save it for tomorrow afternoon.
Looking out the window now, it is pouring down rain. Tough for the rush hour drive home.  I could not have picked a more perfect day to do what I wanted.

I will have to go out later to drive Ron down to pick up his car, and what a perfect excuse to stop for a Glen's Custard to mark the end of "My Day."
I do hope you enjoyed your day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



That's me in first picture standing with my parents. I am dressed so pretty, because that day I was the little flower girl in my Aunt Carm's wedding. My dad's youngest sister. My parents are so young in that picture. My mom's so pretty, my dad so handsome with his mustache.

I remember one thing about that day. One of the ushers accidentally slammed the door on my finger, and I screamed in pain. It must of really been severe, for me to remember that all through these years. I was 3 years old at the time.

My mom, bless her heart, saved that little dress, I was surprised, because she was not a saver. After my Mom passed away, my brother was going through her things and found it.
It is now nestled carefully in between tissue paper in my cedar chest. I consider this a treasure, and a good heirloom for my sons and their children. The other heirloom I have is my dad's baby ring, with a small diamond in the middle that he wore as an infant.

That second picture, well, that's a picture of me with my husband, and all 7 of  our beautiful, precious grandchildren. It was taken on August 3rd of this year, as we celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary.

As I look at this picture, I can't help thinking, "Who am I ?" 
In appearances, I see a chunky woman, who for over half of her life had always been thin, always dressed neat, and who's hair and make up had to be perfect. I know that if my parents would see me today, they would not recognize me.

Well, I think to myself, "I still try to dress neat, (key word is try) even with this hernia. I keep my nails neat, my hair in style, and put makeup on when I go out."  I don't know if it would be considered perfect to anyone else, but it is to me.

"What am I made of ?"- "What have I done with my life?"
A lot of living has happened through the years of being that little flower girl to the present time, now as Me Maw .

The path has not always been easy, but I have managed to climb the rocky hills when they appeared. Truth be told, there have been more easy paths then rough hills. Serious health issues were the rocky hills we had to climb, with both Ron and I being survivors of cancer. The financial struggles, even though we both worked. The passing of my parents and Ron's dad. Divorce entered our family with two of our sons. I found out how much men hurt on the inside, without showing it on the outside, and it broke my heart. But, with time all things mend, and there is light showing in the tunnel.

The death of my mother is when I realized that I was a mid-life orphan. I was 52 years of age when my mother died. I prefer to say -passed away-, but who knows what the future generations will think that means when they read this? 

I had no one left. My dad had passed away at the young age of 66, I was only 33 years old then. It was a very hard loss, but there was comfort in knowing that I still had my Mom.
I became my own person at the age of 52, the year my mother died,  I became a mid-life orphan. My mom, the dear person I called every day, sometimes more than once a day, was now gone. My brother and I lived to far away to be of comfort to one another, and why tell him how I was hurting, when he was hurting just as bad.

The fact that no one else would love me like my parents, the unconditional love I felt, that only a parent has for their child, was gone.
No longer would I be able to ask questions of my childhood, or to talk of memories of our family Christmas, Thanksgiving's, and Easter. No one to tell me how I had my tonsils out twice, or how I would pronounce our last name Mi-ass-o instead of Mianzo.

 Who else, but my mom would know how my dad loved to put up a small platform under the tree at Christmas? The patience he had in putting icicle's on our live Christmas tree. The way he knelt on the floor, putting small details into making little villages, with miniature houses and people, the tiny street lights that lit up. The Lionel train that would take a  small white pill in the smoke stack of the engine, to make the train smoke. How he would reach behind the tree when the train would come off of the track. And, how my dad would have me kneel next to him to show me how to turn on the transformer to make the train run.

 For years I thought he bought the train for me.  I found out much later, after he had died, that he bought it for my brother who had just been born at that time. Even being an adult, it still hurt me some to find that out, but it made perfect sense. Of course he would buy it for his son, I was a girl, girls played with baby doll's.

 The family life, my parents making pizzelles together, my mom making one of my dad's favorite desserts, Boston Cream Pie. My dad getting up no matter what time, to go fight a fire when the scanner went off. The times I was sent to the bakery to buy my dad Egg Custard Pie. My brother being born and having a large party for his baptism, the relatives all throwing money into the bassinet where my brother laid.

Who else but my mom knew how I hated to iron clothes, especially blue jeans. I told my mom that I would never iron blue jeans if I had boys. Well, I ended up having 4 sons, and yes, ironing blue jeans.

How my dad would never let my mom wash clothes or do dishes because of her bout with rheumatic fever. He did all of that, but she was right beside him, helping in any way she could. He put my mom on a pedestal and no one could come close.

 I have many memorable moments, but I think, like most women, my children's births are the most memorable. I realize as I think back that our lives really started with the birth of our sons.  What joy they gave us, along with a few scary moments.

We had such fun times, they made us laugh, we cheered them on in sports, there were so many different ways we enjoyed them. We were so busy doing things with them, and for them, that one day we both realized that they were now men, and going out on their own. Where did all of that precious time go?  Our house was empty, no longer open 24 hours a day like Giant Eagle, we didn't  hear the drums being played at all hours by our 2nd son. We didn't have to tell them to lower the radio. The phone was quiet, the doors didn't slam any more and - - --  we were lost!

We had become part of  "The Empty Nest Syndrome" and we didn't like it one bit. It took time. A lot of time getting use to. 
For me, one of the most difficult times in my life was realizing I was not needed. For anything!
They had girlfriends who took care of them, and now they have wonderful wives or significant others who take care of them. 
They have families of their own, they are living what use to be our life. We are happy for them, because we remember doing what they are doing now, and what fun times they were.

 And now, I realize that I am standing on the doorstep of 70. It is hard to believe that I am blessed with old age. I have my wonderful husband to share my life with. God willing and the creek don't rise, as my dad always said, we will have many more years together.

What’s important is that I know my limitations and I do the best to  keep them away. It takes real dedication and determination, I know, to do that.
I am trying, I am not a morning person, but I go to the gym 3 times a week.. Every time the day arrives I think, oh I won’t go this morning, I’m too tired. But something inside pushes me and tells me to get up, shower, eat and get moving - rain, snow or shine.

 It makes me happy that I am able to still work at a job that I love, the library and I interact with fun people.
What drives me is that I have been able to bounce back after many serious health problems, including cancer.  But I swear that unless I push myself, I find it easier to just sit and read a book, or continue to write my memoirs.

To be continued . . . . . .  .

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My parents had two children. I was the first born, 8 years before my brother.  For 8 years I was an only child. 
In the 1940 and 1950's,  children started school in 1st grade. Pre-school & kindergarten did not exist. During that time I found ways to play by myself, but the one thing I always wanted to play and never did, was a board game.
They intrigued me when I would see them in the 5 & 10 Cent store. I wondered what all was in the box wrapped up. My parents were not into board games, so I never got one as a gift because I had no one to play with.

  I craved companionship of girls my age.

I decided that I wanted a sister, but alas, when I told this to my mom, she just laughed. She said it was doubtful that would happen, and if it did, she could not promise the baby would be a girl.
 So I told her that I was going to ask my best girlfriends if they would be my sisters.

 Back then in order to be sisters. you each made a small cut on your arm, enough  to make it bleed.  Then you rubbed each others arms together to mix the blood. Presto, I now had a sister. The first friend that I did this with was Betty Ann. We did this when we were in 1st grade. We went into the woods across from her house. We had pen knives, all kids had them so they could play mubly peg.  I made a small cut on my arm and then she did and we rubbed out arms together and became blood sisters.  I doubt very much that my parents were aware that we did this. Did any of you do this as a child?

The first best friend  I asked to be my sister was my next door neighbor, Letti Jo. She was older then me, very pretty and always treated me so nice. We walked back and forth together to First Ward school every day.  She said we didn't have to cut ourselves to be sisters, that we still could be sisters without doing that.
Her family had a TV before my family did, and I was allowed to go over and watch The Lone Ranger at her house every Friday night. 
Her family didn't live there long, and moved when I entered second grade at St.Cecelia's.  I have thought about Lettie Joe through the years and  never forgot her. In fact a couple of months ago, I searched for her on face book and found her. It made me feel good to know that she remembered me also.

When Letti Joe's family moved, another  family moved in with  2 kids around my age. a boy and a girl. I met Nancy and her brother, Gerald. I immediately had a huge crush on Gerald. Every girl had a big crush on him. He was so cute and nice. But, the very best thing that happened to me, was I truly found my soul sister, Nancy.

Our lives entwined from the time we met. We did everything together, went school shopping by ourselves. stayed at each others houses. We would play 45 records, and I accidentally broke her "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets by sitting on it. We double dated, and when I met  my husband and introduced him to Tom, they  became the best of friends. Both of us were asked to be in their bridal party.

Our friendship has lasted over fifty years, we did everything together. including taking turns at each other's place for New Years Eve. We only went out to party one time, we said no more, because we realized we wanted to celebrate with our kids. That's how we spent every  New Year's. Our boys and their boys were best of friends. We thought it would never end, but 3 years ago, our Tom passed away. It has not been the same since.
 If ever I had a sister,I could not have picked one better then Nancy.
She is a much better sister then I am though, but she still loves me and would do anything for me, as I would for her. We may not talk every day, but when we do it seems like it was yesterday. I am blessed.

 My other young friends I asked to be my sisters were from St. Cecelia's grade school. I had many of them and I am pretty sure not all of us did the blood sister thing. I still remember a lot of them to this day.
 Hope, pajama parties,and first loves - hers was Eugene ?, and mine? I'm sorry to say I can't remember who it was.  There was Dolores, we just clicked together,  and Jo Ann,  Patty (who passed away to young).

 Patti and I spent many New Years Eve's together, babysitting my brother. At midnight we would grab the pots and pans, go out on the porch and bang the heck on of them with wooden spoons or whatever else we thought would make noise, screaming at the top of our lungs. We thought we made a lot of noise, but at our age, I doubt if our lungs were fully developed.  As the years passed, we double dated, and she was a part of my wedding party. I asked her to be Godmother to our 1st son. I miss her still.

There's Marlene, who I met in high school. She lived quite far from the school. I told her to come to my house and eat . So everyday we walked to my home and ate our lunch.  My mom would make her fresh coffee, which they would drink together, while I drank milk. Then we would walk back to school. When we would go to the Friday night dances, Marlene is the one who taught me how to smoke a cigarette, and oh it was awful! To boot it was a Kent, now anyone who has ever smoked knows that Kent's are a dry smoke.  I would say no, and she would tell me she could not take them home and I had to help her smoke them. The "good" sister that I was, did as I was told.
 I finally quit in 1991, cold turkey. Best thing I have ever did for myself. 
There were other friends that also became my sister and shared lunch with me at my home. My mom always treated them so special and they loved her. It made me feel good to see that.

There have been many friends who became my  sisters in the course of my life so far.

In grade school, Eleanor K, she was the funniest of all the funniest. Her parents owned a small store across from the school. Patti S. and I would walk  back to school after lunch. and always stopped in the store to buy some penny candy.  Eleanor was always waiting to walk with us across the street to the school.

You know, to this day, and I kid you not. I can still hear in my mind the sounds made by everyone's shoes as they walked to get in line to go back into the school building. Isn't it strange the things you remember?

Then there is Paula!  Paula P. was the closest to being my true sister. We were so bad, and she made me that way, honest. She taught me how to put pin curls in my hair,and  how to swear, (yep). I became a trooper, thinking it was so tuff (cool) to say all those" bad"  words. She would call me on the phone, and we would say all the swear words we could think of. I could not say the words my Dad would say, because he swore in Italian.  Believe me when I say that our swear words were nothing compared to today's words.

  It's so funny looking back, and remembering how we were. Paula and I  would do our homework at my house, we spent a lot of time together. My dad always stuck up for Paula. If I said she was doing something wrong with her homework, my dad would find something good to say, and my grandmother considered Paula her grandchild.

Then there is Paula's cousin, Linda P. altogether different, I don't think Paula ever taught her how to swear :-)
 Char B, and I would have sleepovers, our mothers were close friends and also played cards together.
There is Janice & Natalie. We stayed together from 2nd grade through 8th. We shared so much together, and then it was done. We were starting high school, going to 9th grade, but not all of the kids went to the public school, some went to private schools

 I know I'm forgetting some names,  like Mary Ann P.,  I am sure for those of you reading this, it is way to much information. But,  don't forget,  this blog is also a part of" Writing My Own Life Story," to be handed down to my grandchildren, and then to their children, so that one day they will all gather together to read this, finding out what a crazy Me Maw they had( lol).
In high school we still stayed friends, and added new friends to our circle. Counting me, there are 7 of us that try to have lunch every couple of months. We have Face-book to thank for that. That's how we found each other and resumed our childhood friendships.

I welcome all comments, that is how I learn. Thank you in advance.

Friday, September 7, 2012


   Looking at the calendar I see where this coming Sunday, Sept. 9 is Grandparents Day!
   In my opinion this day should be treated just like Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Though it does not seem to be catching on in this area, or should I say in this family.  I truly don't know if other families celebrate it or not.  
   I know that at our library, the children's librarian planned crafts for the children to make in honor of grandparents, and probably the elementry schools are acknowledging the day.
   I think if the stores would advertise it more by having special sales geared to Grandparents Day, it would make people more aware.
  Heck, my grandmothers and my children's grandparents have done so much in every which way, that it would be an honor to celebrate them. They deserve it. 
  They always make my kids always feel special with their love that is unconditional and by doing for them. I remember that I loved to lay my head on my grandma's bosom. It was like a soft pillow and made me feel secure. My kids never fell off of my mom's ample bosom. But, alas, I can't say the same for my grandchildren. They had to hold on to me for dear life or else they would slide right off! (lol)
   One idea is to  have them for dinner, making it special along with a yummy dessert, and give them gifts made by their grandchildren.
   Ah, there are so many birthdays and anniversaries in our family during  August and September, that I guess we tend to forget about this very special day.
    I hope this day becomes as well known as the other special days we celebrate. It is always fun to plan for special days to celebrate special people and make them happy.
    My grandchildren are so blessed to still have their great-grandmother who is 92, and still as spry in body and mind as a 60 year old.
                                   you are very special

Dee's shared items


This time of year makes me think of all of those things I have to be thankful for - - - -
my husband
my children
my grandchildren
my health
my freedom
always thankful for friends made