Grandma… Absolutely not!

imageWhat is it with the names Grandma and Grandpa that make us feel so old? While I am not a grandmother yet, I remember when my daughter was born I told my mother we would call her Nonna or Nonina like her mother. My mother’s response, “Absolutely not!” To my mother being called, “Nonna” was the equivalent of being called, “Grandma” – way, way too old sounding.

I had just given birth to my daughter and it was hard enough deciding on a name for her and now I had my mother who wasn’t sure “what” she wanted to be called?!

When I calmed down, I admit I thought…”Well, we can’t call her “Nonina,” because that is what we call her mother. We can’t call her “Nonna,” because that sounded so terribly boring and formal and my mother had a youthful personality. As I thought about how cute “Nonina” sounded suddenly the name “Noni” popped in my mind.  YES, that was it, my mom would be called, “Noni!” And luckily my mother agreed that “Noni” was acceptable.”

Here is the frustrating part. While I was teaching my daughters to call my mother “NON-knee,” my younger brother was teaching his children to call my mother “NO-knee.” To me that sounded awful… like my mom had “no knee.” I was too far away to correct this.

I thought about this yesterday as I was reading a WSJ article on this very topic called, “PopPop or Skipper? The Grandparent Name Dilemma.” It was an amusing article. There is a trend for Grandparents wanting to “choose” their name. has an online name generator, so you can have fun seeing what they come up with. My generated name was “Mama Monicadee.” This name reminds me of my daughter who LOVED Manga, the Japanese comics, I could be a super ninja grandma – I like it!

Don’t they say history repeats itself and that, in the end, we act like our parents?

Well, for sure I don’t want to be called, “NO-knee,” but I’m liking the “Mama Monicadee” name…

Stay tuned!

Seattle Yarn Shop Tour…


This week started The 2016 LYS (yarn) Tour. Great idea, see the map. In five days you have a chance to visit 28 different yarn shops. At each shop you have them stamp your passport and then your completed passport is entered into a drawing to win prizes.

As I moved to Seattle, maybe because of a lot of rainy days, I suddenly had the urge to knit again. It was my Italian grandmother who taught me how to knit and crochet. Imagine that – she spoke no English. I considered it “on the job training.” I didn’t speak Italian and I didn’t know how to knit, so with a lot of hand movements and facial expressions she taught me basic knitting/crocheting. She kept saying, “Hai capito (you understand)?” I did a lot of head nodding for YES and NO at that time.


Stitches from my first cowl neck project.

Starting up again, I was getting tired of the basic knit / purl stitches, I was ready to challenge myself.  I was at one of the yarn shops looking at different scarf samples and settled on a cowl neck pattern. I found knitting instructions on for different stitches (good thing for rewind, pause and fast forward). Before I knew it, I had completed an intermediate project, which was a proud moment…  EXCEPT that now it is Spring/Summer, so I have to wait for Fall to wear it. Well, knitting is like that, you don’t always finish your project in the “right season.”

imageYesterday, I ventured to Bainbridge Island to visit the Churchmouse Yarns and Teas store. What a lovely store, I felt like I was in New England. The Ferry Boat ride was fun.

If you are doing the tour, there is still one day left!

Try not to go broke (grin)!


The Bridge of Gold

imageThis week I was talking to a few people about my trip to Italy. They were asking me what I saw and I jokingly said, “Well, I was on the bridge of gold.”  As they have not been to Florence, they did not know about the Ponte Vecchio. This reminded me of my arrival to San Francisco years ago when someone pointed to a reddish/orange bridge and said, “There is the Golden Gate Bridge.”  WHAT?  It’s orange, I thought. I had envisioned something totally different, so it was a bit of a let down for sure.

Luckily, I had a few pictures of gold shops to show them. One was a really good photo of the Rolex store. I had been standing on the Ponte Vecchio watching the tourists go by when I happened to look up and see this little glass window with the Rolex logo. What an elegant and clever marketing idea!

imageRight now, gold is at an all time high at over $1,200 an ounce. It was interesting to compare what they were selling now on the bridge from jewelry styles a few years ago.

I spoke to a German woman who lives in Florence and works at one of the jewelry shops. She said because gold is so expensive right now they have to make what will sell and that means jewelry that is lighter in weight and hollow inside. She had me feel the weight of an older bracelet versus the new styles. There was no comparison. I told her it is the same with clothes and purses. Designers cut corners, so that leather is thinner and clothes have no lining. This is the new way.

Oh, I have to share with you a sculpture of a man riding a turtle. When I walked into the Piazza della Signoria I noticed immediately this gold looking sculpture. It was really beautiful. Sounds like the artist has it on display for a few months. The sculpture is by Jan Fabre, “Searching for Utopia,” silicon bronze, 2003.

I leave you with YOUR thoughts on this sculpture…


Pasta Galore!

image1If you like pasta, there is nothing better than going through an Italian super market. I was walking through the isles of the grocery store in Florence, Italy with my Italian mother and we came to the pasta section. As I looked at the choices with amazement, I asked her WHY with ALL the pasta choices she ONLY used spaghetti or penne pasta when we were growing up. She didn’t have a clear answer, she just kept dinner simple.

My mother was not a typical Italian cook. We did not have ravioli or tortellini.  NO — it was image2always spaghetti with bolognese sauce. Nothing wrong with that mind you, but when I went to another Italian’s house for lunch or dinner it was totally different from my house. My Italian girlfriend would cook with different pasta shapes and add vegetables to her pastas.

Lasagna was different too. My mother made lasagne with béchamel sauce, while my friend made hers with ricotta cheese. If you’ve ever had lasagne with béchamel sauce you can NEVER eat it with ricotta cheese again — it just tastes wrong! My opinion, of course.

image3As I continued on with my mother, we stopped by the produce section to find some tomatoes. Well, I had to smile… they had all kinds of tomatoes to choose from in big bins and our shopping adventure would not have been complete if we had not bought our parmesan cheese!

I think I was especially happy to see all the pasta, because in America the latest diet trend is “no pasta,” “no rice,” etc. and here I was in Italy, my Italian heritage, seeing all this pasta and thinking it’s not necessary to give up pasta completely.  Clearly, I was missing my “Italian heritage.”

So, here’s to exploring new recipes and going “beyond” the spaghetti style noodles! Changing your noodle shape does change the taste of your pasta.  AND REMEMBER, the pasta MUST be “al dente.”  This trip, I have to say, the pasta was almost “too” al dente.  I imagined the cook with his chef hat crooked trying to get pasta out as fast as possible!

Buon appetito (translation: Enjoy your meal)!