Category Archives: Family

Love and Prosciutto

Joe and I in da' cooler

Joe and I in da’ cooler

God is in the details. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Talk about coincidences. Jim meets a wonderful man last year. It was Joe (above), and Jim fondly nicknames him “Prosciutto Joe.” They click. Joe invites Jim over, Jim buys a prosciutto. (so far, I’ve not met Joe)

In a separate state of affairs, I’m taking a water movement class at the YMCA. I overhear the ladies talking about the recent death of a butcher who was in the class. His name was Joe. He makes prosciutto. I tell Jim. Could it be the same man? We wonder. We think Joe is no longer on this earth. This makes us very sad.

But wait! Joe turns out to be alive and well. AND definitely IN MY SWIM CLASS. Joe and I have a good laugh over the coincidence. In his gorgeous Italian/English way of speaking, he says, “Next time Jim comes over, you come.”

So last Saturday, we came, we ate, and we left with prosciutto. Joe only makes so many and most of them are taken. I think someone else is probably getting one less prosciutto because of my husband.

The first thing we did when we arrived at Joe’s was eat. We were invited to the dining room table where his daughter LIdia made us fresh cappuccinos to go with our slices of homemade apple pie. Then Joe’s wife Ida presented us with little handheld pies, made with a filling of ground chickpeas, cocoa powder, and of course, Jim’s honey. Amazing.

When I was at that dining room table, I felt like family. We told stories, heard about Ida’s recent miracle, and talked about everything under the sun. Joe took a small break to attend to matters outside but when he returned, into the cellar we went.

The basement reminded me of my grandmother’s house. There was a washer, dryer, a stove, sink, and a table and chairs. Ida showed me her summer herbs, drying on a rack in her gas oven. It’s the old style, with a pilot light!

Sweet Ida and her Herbs, Parsley, Rosemary, and Basil.

Sweet Ida and her Herbs: Parsley, Rosemary, and Basil.

Next, Joe, JIm, and I went into the cooler so JIm could pick his prosciutto. Jim looks around a bit (they are everywhere) and picks THE ONE. Joe says, “Looks like a good one Jim!”. While Ida and I talk (and she gives me a jar of her homemade grape jelly) I hear Jim and Joe talk about salt. Joe tells me it’s all about the salt. I believe him.

I hope this isn't a secret. ;)

I hope this isn’t a secret. 😉

Then Joe and Jim cut a hunk off of the prosciutto, slice it paper thin, and we all taste. And moan. It is so good. So awesome. I can hardly believe I’m witness to this whole morning.

I know from experience that God is truly in the details. The salt, the herbs, the apples in the pie, the foam on the cappuccino, the amazing prosciutto. The deep down warmth of this family is just beautiful. I promised Joe that I would wrap some of his paper thin prosciutto around melon slices for my son’s upcoming baby shower. Joe, it would be my pleasure.

I love these stamps. Joe is a butcher, after all.

I love these stamps. Joe is a butcher, after all.

Jim and Joe and the prize Prosciutto

Jim and Joe and the prize Prosciutto

PS. The barn wedding I did a month ago? Joe is the bride’s great uncle. I saw him at the wedding!

Please follow and like us:
849

The Quest for Perfection

More Webs

“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
Bob Marley

I have been thinking alot about perfection lately. What I have been thinking about it would probably surprise you. At this ripe age of 57, I am relieved to find that I have very little interest anymore in being a perfectionist.

Why? Perfection is usually unachievable and based on perception. What I may think is perfect, you may not. And what you may think is perfect, I may not. To the degree that we differ, what lies in that gray area? (probably a big difference of opinion)

I will tell you this. I believe that only what is created by nature and the universe is rooted in perfection. When I look at the magnificent sky every day, a honeybee on my basil plant, the face of a new born baby, I know this is perfection. The sun, moon, and stars are perfection. The dew on the morning grass is too.

So what does this awareness do for me? It releases me from the quest of having to do things over and over, ad nauseam. It also gives me the permission to apologize- which I do fairly frequently- without guilt. After all, I am not perfect.

What this isn’t is an excuse. It is not a reason to not try harder; I must be alittle more diligent about my health, attentive to my family, and nicer and kinder to wait staff at restaurants. If I am to be a spiritual being living a human life, I need to not forget that all living creatures are deserving of unconditional love and respect.

Two people passed away that I knew in the last week. Yes, it was sad. I went to the funeral of Margaret (yiayia Teta) this past Monday. There was something at the luncheon afterwards that blew me away. Yiayia had nine grandsons. Seven of them were there. Before we all ate, they stood in a line and said their favorite yiayia memories. It was unforgettable.

I couldn't help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

I couldn’t help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

These were truly kleenex moments. What I loved best was each one of them said that yiayia told him he was her favorite. I need to remember that. It is priceless.

At the funeral before the luncheon, I actually listened to the words of the priest. He did most of the service in English and I don’t remember hearing SO much of it ever before. He said basically, you can’t take it with you. Wow, you really can’t.

I was reminded (again) this week how fleeting life is. It is over in the blink of an eye. Why waste another moment on the relentless pursuit of perfection, unless it’s the God created variety? My friend Shelly gave me a little plaque once that said “Good Enough is Really Good Enough.” It was the (haha!) perfect gift. I got it out the other day and set it on my dresser. It’s a good time to be reminded of it.

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Michael J. Fox

 Don’t forget to check out my sharings on the Orthodox Christian Network.

Please follow and like us:
849

Today’s the Day!

Danina and Preston, Electric Lime Photography

Danina and Preston, Electric Lime Photography

Today’s the day, we’ll say “I Do” and we’ll never be lonely any more. Chapel of Love

My sister Mary was a huge Bette Midler fan when we were all growing up. I can still hear us singing the lyrics to “Chapel of Love” when Bette made this song famous once again in 1972.

It is this song that has been ringing in my ears for the last several days. One of my favorite people in the world is getting married today. It is Danina, above, who is marrying her sweetheart Preston. I’m not going to say too much about them, well, because I want to keep the good vibes going. And because I may get emotional, start to cry, and not be able to finish this post. 🙂

So I’m going to talk about my favorite moments at a wedding. Those moments that I truly adore, I wait for, and I believe are gifts from God. I can’t believe when I get to be part of another wonderful wedding day. I am truly blessed.

Here we go:

  1. The moment I see the bride in her wedding dress. Usually her mom and bridesmaids are there with her when she puts it on. The bride may step into her dress or decide to put it on over top of her head. If this happens, sometimes there is a ton of net to navigate and the giggling starts. When the mother sees her daughter in THE DRESS, this is when we all shed a few tears.
  2. When we (the bridesmaids + bride) begin the walk to the where we will meet the groom. This walk is hugely poignant. It is a symbol of “I am ready. I want to be with this person forever.” We walk slowly and usually someone is holding the bride’s train. She is holding her bouquet. It is really showtime.
  3. After the ceremony, when the bride and groom walk up the aisle as a wedded couple. I am usually the first person to congratulate them! This is not the moment to tell them what to do next. I squeeze, hug, and kiss them and say “Congratulations!”. This is important. They are important. This is probably my absolutely favorite thing.
  4. Their first dance. I love this part. I will always stop what I am doing and watch. And take pictures. Usually you can see everyone holding their breath. It’s magical.
  5. When I kiss everyone goodbye at the end of the night. Usually by this point everyone is tired but happy. The night has gone grandly, its been beautiful, and they will remember it forever. We have become almost family. I practically feel like family. And I will remember them all for a long, long time.

So there you have it. My favorite moments. Do me a favor today and send Danina and Preston your best wishes for a happy life together. They are a beautiful couple.

Electric Lime Studios

Electric Lime Studios

Please follow and like us:
849

Things My Mother Taught Me

Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me

Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me

“I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful.”
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I know how hard motherhood can be. There’s the life lessons to teach, boo boos to kiss and cover with band aids, and those decisions you make that keep you up at night. It’s not easy. I think back on my mother and wonder, how did she do it? She was consistently loving, caring and yes, tough when she needed to be. She ran interference on my Dad once in a while, smoothing out those rough edges of his sometimes sharp personality, buffering us with soft words and a good piece of cake.

I’ve been thinking of the big and little things my mother has taught me over the years. Here’s a few pearls of wisdom she gave me that I’m truly grateful for.

1. Buy Fresh Ingredients. I made baklava one year for Christmas and it didn’t quite taste right. Mom took one bite and said, “Old Nuts.” She was right. They were old nuts I had lying around in the freezer. Never again. I always buy fresh ingredients, including nuts, when I bake at the holidays.

2. Cook from Scratch. My mom amazingly had a home cooked meal for us just about every single night. This was the old days I realize, but even when she worked, she cooked. I don’t remember a TV dinner (as they were called back then) or a pot pie ever in our house. She loved to cook and we ate good food, not always fancy, but still GOOD.

3. Money Isn’t Everything. My mom has gone through some very tight periods in her life. She was a depression baby, the first born to immigrant parents from Greece. She can make due on practically nothing. But she has shown me truthfully that all she ever needs has been given to her. She is a shining example of this.

4. Be of Service. Mom volunteered at church for everything. She cooked and served for the church ladies group, the Philoptochos, for YEARS. She served on the committee to build our church some thirty five years ago. Always involved, she set the example to give of ourselves and showed us that it will be returned- multiplied.

5. Go to the Beach. When the going gets tough, go to the beach. Mom loves the beach and once we hooked my dad on this, we went every year. She’d don her bathing suit, get a tan, and relax for a whole week. She instilled in us a love of the beach and to this day, we all LOVE the ocean.

Mom, front and center, white cap, at the beach

Mom, front and center, white cap, at the beach

I know I am blessed to have another day with my mom. I cherish the memories we are still creating and am grateful to have such a loving and caring mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

PS. I’m blogging over at the Orthodox Christian Network! Check out my mother’s day post there. Click HERE.

 

Please follow and like us:
849

Going to Carolina

My sister Cally and her husband, Raymond

My sister Cally and her husband, Raymond

In my mind I’m going to Carolina. Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine? James Taylor, from Going to Carolina In My Mind

It’s been a melancholy week. My youngest sister Cally, who has been here in the Pittsburgh area practically all her life, has decided to accept a position in Brevard, North Carolina. She is the new Director of Marketing and Communications at the Brevard Music Center.

Here’s what the website says about this beautiful place:

Brevard Music Center is, at once, a place, a summer institute, and a festival.

The Music Center is situated on a wooded 180-acre campus in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Founded in 1936, the Music Center has matured into one of this country’s premier summer training programs and festivals. More than 400 gifted students, ages 14 through post-college, come to the Music Center to study with members of a distinguished artist faculty and with renowned guest artists. For seven weeks, students participate in a vigorous program of instruction that includes ensembles, private lessons, and chamber music.

I am alternately so excited and sad to see her and Raymond go. We will see them in a few months I’m sure, after the music festival but until then, we will skype, talk and text. Thanks goodness for technology.

Years ago, Cally was the first and only person who took me to see James Taylor live. It was a beautiful concert downtown and he performed with The Dixie Chicks. It was amazing. The cherry on top was that, through a mutual friend, we found out James was staying at the Renaissance Hotel. We went for a drink before the show and Cally got to say hello and meet James!

I will never forget that she took me to this concert. In honor of Cally’s departure, I wanted to share this video.

Cally and Raymond, I wish you the best in your new home and success in all your endeavors. See you soon!

xo Joanne

Please follow and like us:
849

It’s My Daughter’s Birthday

Michelene Cherry Blossoms

A mother’s treasure is her daughter. ~Catherine Pulsifer

Today is my daughter Michelene’s thirty second birthday. It is hard to believe she is thirty two years old but yes, it’s really true.

I can remember the day she was born. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday. I was supposed to go to Carla’s bridal shower but Jim and I dropped off the gift and headed to the hospital.  Around 6pm that evening Michelene made her entrance.

She was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. I remember my sister in law Katie bought her bloomers with her name painted on them (I bet I still have a pair saved somewhere!). We spoiled Michelene something good. I think I must have kissed her a thousand times in her first year alone.

Michelene and her brother John

Michelene and her brother John

Over the years, we have shared a love of many things including her father, her brother and her son. She is a single parent and a very good one. I am proud of how she is raising Gavin. I’d go into detail but I’d probably start crying and not be able to finish this post.

We both love nature. She is an inherent gardener and has a garden right now that you would envy. Her dad is a hobby beekeeper and they are planning a business together, raising bee hives and the afterproducts that would create. She puts a bee outfit on and hangs with her dad; this is something I will probably never do.

Though we agree on many things, there are some things we are polar opposites on. She loves hot weather, I no longer do. She loves scary movies, I won’t even watch one. On her thirtieth birthday, she went skydiving! (We didn’t tell my mom until it was over)

Michelene Sky Diving

She worries less about stuff than I do (thank God) and she frequently will put things into perspective for me. We have both been through the wringer at many points in our life. At times she is way more mature that I ever was at her age.

How precious it is to have a daughter. God must have shined on me to give me such a beautiful child, a girl to watch grow up and a friend for life. I am surely the blessed one.

Happy Birthday Michelene!

Please follow and like us:
849

A Match Made in Heaven

Mom and Dad!

Mom and Dad!

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

Tonight is a special night. I have been planning an event in a beautiful town for weeks. My friends are going to be there- Jim, Joe, Jesse, Nicole (and YOU, I hope!)- and my daughter Michelene, husband Jim, my sister Cally and of course, my mom. We will miss Mary tremendously but I know she will be there in spirit!

Jim of Cuttings Flower and Garden Mart and I have imagined and thought of what you would want to see if you were planning a special event. We have wine, flowers, food, sweets, photographers, beautiful dresses, place cards and menu cards. There are very talented people involved. Local businesses that are passionate about what they do.

Though the focus is on weddings, there will be many good ideas for any type of event. We are pulling out all the stops tonight. My daughter Michelene is modeling my mom’s vintage wedding gown. My mom and dad would have been married sixty years this coming June. It is amazing how time flies. My dad passed eighteen years ago but I can see him at this moment, telling me to “Go For It!” He was always supportive of anything I ever wanted to do or try. I am lucky. My husband Jim has that same quality.

Like most of you, I believe my parents were a match made in heaven. There were good times and not so good; ups and downs. But that is characteristic of a long union. That is how it works. It stands the test of time if both parties are willing. I appreciate all the gifts and talents my parents gave me- salesmanship, hospitality, and great organization!

I feel truly blessed to be participating in “The Reception” tonight with Jim of Cuttings and so many other wonderful businesses!  If you live in the Pittsburgh or surrounding areas, click HERE for more information on this special night and JOIN US!

I hope you can be with us tonight but if you can’t, I hope you’ll think of someone special in your life, your parents or a special mentor, who has made all the difference for you.

Please follow and like us:
849

Jim’s Favorite Egg Story

DSC_0003

I woke up to the sound of little feet running past my bedroom window.

As I opened my eyes I could see the early summer light streaming through the room. I heard the back door open and shut. I realized it was my grandson Gavin.

He had just come in from collecting fresh eggs from our backyard chicken coop. One of his favorite things to do was to feed and water the chickens and look inside their nests for eggs.

As I started to get out of bed, I could hear him running into the bathroom. The high pitch sound of his voice made me figure something was wrong. “Ah man, this is bull#!@*. This is BS! AH!”

I knocked on the bathroom door and asked “Gavin, what’s the matter?” He said it was ok for me to come in.

DSC_0028What I saw was a young boy with yolk on both of his hands and in his hair. I asked him if the chickens had thrown eggs at him? 😉 “No Jim! There were so many eggs I put some in my pockets. When I went to get them out, one broke. When I went to get the other one out, that one broke too. I forgot I had eggs in my hand and I got it on the door handle. When I saw this, I smacked myself on the head and it went into my hair!”

I had lectured Gavin about using inappropriate language in front of his Nana and girls. It was ok for him to use it in his tree house and in front of guys. But I tell you, I had to hold my laughter back in these crazy few moments.

I had Gavin step out of his pants and reassured him that tomorrow would bring more eggs. No harm done! And Nana came to the rescue with a special basket, just for gathering eggs. So no more need for eggs in pants’ pockets!

Thank you to my husband Jim, for this great contribution of his favorite egg story! Do you have a favorite story that involves an egg? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or send me an email at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com.

Please follow and like us:
849

Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Miss Molly, Photo by my daughter, Michelen

Meet Miss Molly! All photos by my daughter, Michelene

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Who’s big, shiny black and carries a big stick? Why it’s my daughter’s new puppy, Miss Molly!

She’s a Great Dane, just a little under one year old and even in couple of months, has grown larger almost right before our eyes. You can tell by the pictures, I’m sure, that she is quite the happy girl.

I knew a Great Dane years ago, when I dated a young Italian who had one. That was long ago and though the memory is faded, I knew Danes to be loving and gentle dogs. That didn’t stop me from being a tad bit scared the first time I met Molly. But that quickly faded as I saw how sweet and sincere she is.

My daughter is Molly’s third owner in her small life. When Michelene told me that I said, “Well, you have to keep her now.” And Michelene agreed. It’s a done deal. Molly is a member of the family.

Molly loves to play fetch in the basement with balls. Intially, she would not go downstairs because her second owner kept her in a basement all the time. 🙁 Michelene was very patient and encouraging with Molly to help her overcome this. She placed dog treats on each step leading down to the basement, and gradually Molly overcame her own fears.

With my daughter’s large yard and property, Molly has plenty of room to run and play. My own pup, Miss Jordan, was initially petrified of Molly but that didn’t last long. They are bosom buddies, often romping in the back yard of Michelene’s house together.

Molly eats two pounds of dog food a day and drinks a LOT of water. She has a special dog/water food combo dish that is elevated off the ground due to her height.

She loves to look out the window at everyone and everything!

How much is that puppy in the window?

How much is that puppy in the window?

I think we know deep down that Molly is an example of how you can be moved around, not sure where you are going, but end up exactly where you are supposed to be. There will always be someone who will love us exactly the way we are. We love Molly for who she is and the potential for what she can become. She is a beautiful dog, inside and out.

Cathching a few Zzzzz!

Catching a few Zzzzz!

Here’s to many good years ahead! We are blessed and lucky to have Molly as a part of our family!

Who is a blessing in your life?

Please follow and like us:
849

Egg-actly Wonderful!

Photo Courtesy of Sunday Child

All Photos Courtesy of Sunday’s Child

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
― Julia Child

I have a confession to make. When my husband wanted to raise chickens a few years ago, I was not in favor of it.

Yes, it’s true. I pictured my grandfather’s chicken coop, messy and scary with cackling chickens all around my feet, just scaring the beeswax out of me.

Well, here I am all these years later, admitting the truth. I love fresh eggs. Jim and our daughter Michelene have kept their word and they’ve taken good care of the chickens, all without any responsibility on my part. That was the other thing I was wary of. That the care of the chickens would become my responsibility.

Nothing of the sort has happened. And in the meantime the delicious yellow yolks, bright as sunshine, coupled with the delicate white have graced our table many times. In any way shape or form, the eggs are delicious. Scrambled or sunny side up with a side of toast, or cracked into the latest cake, those eggs have become a part of our lives.

Now some of you know I have been blessed to have a blogger friend on the west coast, Sunday’s Child. She began her own love affair with chickens last year! She has an awesome coop and has just embraced the whole chicken raising thing, chick and caboodle.

Daffodils and the EggRecently, Ms. Child began to place her light brown or green eggs amongst her pitcher collection or in other very creative places and snap beautiful artistic pictures. The juxtapositioning of the eggs! The beauty of the pitchers! The sunny yellow of the daffodils! My oh my, my heart was singing!

I casually mentioned to Ms. Child that she ought to consider a coffee table book with those spectacular pictures, alongside say some great egg stories and perhaps some yummy egg recipes. At first she said, “Haha, funny, yes, you and I would be the only ones buying the book!”

But then her friends started to tell her the same thing. I sent her an email and she said someone had mentioned the coffee table book idea to her right before I did. (I think there are no coincidences!)

So we are exploring this idea of an artistic, yet country style EGG BOOK. What do you think? Are you an egg lover yourself? Do you have an inspiring egg story to share? Better yet, do you have an original or favorite egg recipe that you’ve made for years? Believe me the simplier the better. I love easy recipes.

Please share your thoughts and ideas with us. If you want to email me privately at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com, that’s fine. If not, leave a comment below and I’ll know egg-actly how you feel!

Elephant and the Egg

Please follow and like us:
849