ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reality Check

          I decided that today's post should be about reality. I actually decided this at 1 a.m. when I was sitting at the computer browsing decor blogs in between wiping brows and cleaning the messes of 2 sick children and a sick husband- this is my reality today.
     I got a comment on one of my posts the other day thanking me for showing a "real-life" tablescape in my working office. The writer mentioned how it didn't seem possible for her in her real life to "tablescape with the pros" per se. As it happens, I've gotten several emails from readers bemoaning their seeming inability to "keep up with the Joneses" as far as their homes matching up to what they perceive as the standard by which others are living. We're all drooling over gorgeous tablescapes, beautiful rooms, and delectable 3 course meals in Blogland- then we turn around in our own homes and what do we see??

This is what I see at 2 a.m.

do you see the common thread here?

The amazing part about it is that there are actually PAIRS of shoes lying around together. Usually if one shoe is in the kitchen, the other can be found somewhere in the backyard.

Or at the neighbor's down the street

A few weeks ago one of my boys called home to say that we needed to pick him and his brother up from school as they had missed the bus. They missed the bus because they were searching for my 11 year old's shoes and socks which he "lost".

In school

At the bus stop

It was 28 degrees. I kid you not

   That's another reality- children can do things that will have you scratching your head for weeks wondering whose DNA they got.
  In our case I know the answer
  They take after their father

My family room coffee table-
someone's belt, a cell phone, an Ipod, a textbook for homework that I'm not quite sure ever got done, and a bag containing a combination of sweaty gym clothes and Legos- don't ask
The container of Boy Scout chocolate popcorn might have been me
I'm entitled

So here I am at 2 a.m. looking at pictures of these gorgeous, sparkling clean kitchens with vast expanses of CLEAR counter space. 

I am a decorator

I am a cooking teacher

I am a trainer

Here's my reality

My mixer can NOT be put away. It weighs a ton and I use it 10 times a day. The basket holds my son's allergy meds and my Advil. That not going anywhere! The croissants- just because. Who doesn't love croissants?? The teapot is Allie's latest ceramics class project and has been sitting there for 3 days while I decide exactly where it can be displayed. I'm beginning to think that where it is may be just fine

2 almost empty cookie jars and the Arborio rice that I never put away last night

The Trader Joe's flyer (LOVE that store!), the makings of tonight's frittata and my coffee

Coffee IS my reality

so I wander into my office....

boxes that I've been meaning to get into the attic for 3 weeks

And why Allie's cheerleading uniform is laying there remains to be determined

So, do you get my point now?? Yes, it's true that you may see pictures like this

and this


and this

and this


Just remember- there's a REASON for the close-ups!!

The most important lesson my Grandma Josie ever imparted to me was this- (she said it in a Sicilian dialect, but I'll translate)

Treat your family like company, and your company like family!

So if you're coming to see me today, be prepared to help me play nursemaid. 

And I'll share my frittata with you
I got an email this morning from my very best friend. Kathy understands my quirks, having been raised with a very Italian mother. And because she has an Irish father, she can listen to me vent about my Irish husband and laugh at me. I had to share this. I laughed so hard I cried- there is not one line here that I haven't lived


Italians have a $40,000  kitchen, but use the $259 stove from Sears in
the basement to cook.  There is some sort of religious statue in the
hallway, living room, bedroom,  front porch and backyard. The living
room is filled with old wedding favors with poofy net bows and stale
almonds (they are too pretty to open).

A portrait of the Pope and Frank Sinatra hang in the dining room.
God forbid if anyone ever attempted to eat Chef Boy-are-dee, Franco
American, Ragu, Prego or anything else in a jar or can.
Meatballs are made with Pork, Veal and Beef. We are Italians; we don't
care about cholesterol. Turkey is served on Thanksgiving, after the
manicotti, gnocchi, lasagna and minestrone or shcarole soup.
If anyone ever says ES-CAROLE, slap 'em in the face -- it's SHCAROLE.
No matter how hard you knew you were going to get smacked, you still
came home from church after communion, you stuck half a loaf of bread
in the sauce pot, Snuck out a fried meatball and chowed down so you'll
make up for it next week at confession.
Sunday dinner was at 1:00. The meal went like this...
Table is set with everyday dishes...doesn't matter if they don't
match...they're clean, What more do you want? All the utensils go on
the right side of the plate and the napkin goes on the left. Put a
clean kitchen towel at Nonno & Papa's plate because they won't use
napkins. Homemade wine and bottles of 7-Up are on the table.
First course,  Antipasto..change plates. Next, Macaroni (Nonna called
all spaghetti  Macaroni)...change plates. After that, Roasted Meat,
Roasted Potatoes,  Over-cooked Vegetables... Change plates. THEN, and
only then (NEVER AT THE BEGINNING OF THE  MEAL) would you eat the salad
Next, Fruit & Nuts - in the shell (on paper plates because you ran out
of the other ones). Coffee with Anisette (Espresso for Nonno, "Merican"
coffee for the rest) with hard cookies (Biscottis) to dip in the
The kids go play...the men go to lay down. They slept so soundly you
could do brain surgery on them without anesthesia... The women clean
the kitchen. Getting screamed at by Mom or Nonna - half the sentence
was English, the other half Italian.
Italian  mothers never threw a baseball in their life, but can nail you
in the head with a shoe thrown from the kitchen while you're in the
living room.
Prom Dress that Zia Ceserina made you... $20.00 for material.
Prom hair-do from Cousin Angela... Free.
Turning around at prom to see your entire family  (including God
parents) standing in the back of the gym... PRICELESS!
The true Italians will love this, those of you who are married to
Italians will understand this, and there are those that wished they
were Italian, and finally,  those of you who are friends with Italians
will remember 

Be sure to check out our previous post for this week's Foodie Friday entry- a wonderful Tuscan Salmon for a Lenten Friday and some really yummy Lemon Cream Scones

As Always,
Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. on my best "clean" days- my kitchen will never look like yours does on a messy day. :) maybe not enough space for all the people who live here (and forget about when the part-timers come back)

  2. Pattie the only part of your reality I'm not fond of is the icky sickness. I'd gladly share that frittata with ya.

  3. You're right. I look at some of those houses in Blogland and think I will never measure up. Not because my house messy (althoug it is!)but because it's unfinished. Dozens, literally dozens of unfinished projects abound. No closet doors in the bedroom, half-done island in the kitchen and a nicely scraped bathroom ceiling that never got the beadboard it was promised. That's just 3. It'll look great when it's done, but you can't take a picture of a great idea.

    My reality is that we're procrastinators. I mean big time procrastinators. Yes, I'd like things done. But I had rather have things undone with these people than have them finsihed and pretty with anybody else.

    Thanks again, Miz Pattie. This was a really good one!

  4. I hope you patients are on the mend. I love your reality. I call mine altered states. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. YOU ARE KILLING ME!!!!!!!!! First I nearly peed my pants from laughing so hard as I read the letter from Kathy, then I had to fight off the tears from the wonderful trip down memory lane. The cheap stove, the shoe to the head (why was it always a shoe to the head???), the oil and vinegar, everything is macaroni (and in my house it was gravy instead of sauce), but the very best one was the kitchen towel instead of napkins (I thought my family was the only one to do this). Oh my goodness.... I have to go call my mother.

    PS - As the mother of 4, I can completely understand the misc. items left all over the house (actually, I'm to blame for some of them as well).

  6. I love it! A dose of my reality...and my kids are grown and gone! In our house, there are shoes everywhere...and they are usually MINE! Then there are the magazines, mail, projects...
    I won't even discuss my studio! Of course, I can always blame the mess on the dogs...mine, the grandpups, and a neighbor's mini-schnauzer who is staying with us this week.

    I was cracking up throughout the whole story of the Italian family. My grandmother had many of these traits...she was Cicilian. She married a Spaniard/Cuban man. Life at their home was interesting...especially since neither spoke English!

    So glad I found your post...
    Jane (artfully graced)

  7. Thank you. You are right, there is a reason most of the food shots on my blog are close-ups. There is just too much paraphernalia in the background.

  8. I'm with Jane, my kids are grown and gone AND I don't have a husband to pick up after! I take all the blame for my house being a mess and frankly my dear, I don't give a darn. I look at all the lovely homes in blogland and think how beautiful they are and how nice for them. Not my style these days, I have no one to answer to but myself and I like it that way. Your home is so organized compared to mine! lol, great post!

  9. Oh how wonderful to see this, lol!!! I am so with you! Funny, I just spent two weeks with "ingredients" for about four tablescapes all on the dining table at the same time...also with some school projects, etc. One of my friends gave us an elliptical trainer and with nowhere to put it is is right in the middle of my MBR along with about 10 of my husband's guitars, etc. Yep...reality.

  10. Hi Pattie!

    Great post today! And it is so true! I sit here and go through the blogging world and see all these amazing huge perfect homes and think "I need to move to that world! I wonder where it is?".

    I have really tried to keep my blog "in my reality". I have told everyone time and time again that I live in a rented 2 story townhouse. No big grand rooms for me. All of my tablescapes and decorating posts are all from thrift store finds.

    My reality is that everyday I have a two year old that some how got the genetic genes of the Tazmanian Devil in her, a husband that was seriously injured and is trying to look for work.

    I have had a few people email me to let me know how much they appreciate the fact that I do things on the thrifty and don't let the fact that I don't have this perfect home stop me from doing and blogging about it.

    I did a rednesday post a couple of weeks ago showing all the toys that I pick up over and over everyday. Those were not "staged" photos. Those were my reality! LOL

    I have been working on a new weekly post for my blog called, "Welcome to my reality Wednesday" where I just take a candid shot of some area in my home, that is pretty typical.

    Wow, this comment turned in to a post! LOL Sorry about that but, you just touched on something that I have been thinking a lot about lately.

    Okay, I will shut up now and move along! LOL

    have a wonderful day!

  11. You've once again made my day. When your house is really lived in, that's how it looks. We keep clean, but there's always a mess somewhere.One of the "nicest" compliments son#2 ever gave was, "Mom, you're house isn't messy, it's just full of all of our lives". I used to think when the boys were grown, I'd have one of those picture perfect homes. Didn't happen,now there's little grandkids that love being at Mimi & Poohpa's and we play in every room! Wouldn't trade one hug or kiss for the "perfect" home.I loved the story about Italian families. I grew up in an Irish/German family but had several Italian friends and the "shoe to the head" was so funny & true. Sure hope the family is feeling better. No fun being sick. Blessings to you!

  12. This was a great post! I had an English teacher who reminded us that when people write their biographies, it's only a slice of their life...the parts that they WANT people to see. The same can be said for blogs.

    I love seeing everyone's lovely homes, but I'm always finding myself thinking, "My home will never be clean 24/7 or be so picture do they do it?" It's great of you to show this slice of reality.

    I'm you following back. Thanks for stopping by Simply Sweet Home. Hope to see you again!

  13. What a great post. Your home is lovely. Clean is not in my home's vocabulary!

  14. Reality may not always be pretty but it's definitely entertaining!

  15. Love, love, love this post! I'm Italian, how could I not love it - all SO true! I sure hope everyone is feeling better soon for the weekend.

  16. Pattie I am so happy to have found you! I live in a little house in Brooklyn with only two sets of dishes and some furniture that I had when I got married 35 years ago :-)
    The more important things in life are a healthy happy family ..and I hope your family feel better son and daughter in law and grandson had that stomach virus where they live in Colorado this past weekend, so it is all over.

    I'll definitely visit you often! Love your blog!

    Hugs, Pat

  17. The close up photos are the bloggers best your colorful blog!!!

  18. Loooove the amazing photo in your Header. Wish I could go there tomorrow!
    Thanks for the "keeping it real" post, here. I hear you when it comes to those "close-ups"...hee-hee!! : )
    And the photo of you and little brother, below, is WAY too precious!

  19. Hi P&A I love this post and your reality doesn't look too bad to me. I have 3 boys and with hats,shoes and back packs it can get a bit crowded. I told them it isn't that big of a deal but when you multiply everything you leave out times 3 it gets a bit much. I wanted to come by and tell you about the ceramic egg holder. I got two, so excited!! They can be purchased from Anthro. I put up the link, I thought it was already there, Thank you so much for mentioning that, I totally missed that, To be honest I meant for this to post later in the week I really don't remember scheduling it for today, OOOPs!! I do my post ahead and schedule them so I have no idea what I did here. Oh well!! Life in blog land,hehe, I like the sounds of your home, it sounds like a place I would want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with you, Have a great week,Kathysue

  20. This is such a cute post..I came over to wish you Happy Anniversary:) And caught all this..glad I did..I had Italian friends..this is all exactly as they taught we visited:)

    Rich rich heritage!!


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