Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Girl Talk, Life Lessons

About My Blog: Dolce Zitella

typewriterWelcome to my blog Dolce Zitella.  Doesn’t it sound like a decadent dessert?  It’s not.  For those of you whose roots do not trace back to that lovely boot-shaped country, let me translate.  Dolce Zitella means “sweet spinster.”  That’s right, I’m a woman of a certain age who’s never been married.  It’s okay with me, but the word spinster seems to press a lot of women’s buttons.  I mean, really, it’s only a word.  But if shrouding the word in a layer of mystery and romance makes some people feel better, so be it.

While I have something to say about being a single woman, that’s not all I have to say.  So it doesn’t really matter if you’re single or married, younger or older.  After all, my younger sisters – I used to be you.  Whether you’re dip dying your hair, adding highlights and lowlights, or covering your gray, whether your hot body is the reward of working out or the result of menopause induced hot flashes – we’re all part of the same sisterhood.

Like you, I’m just trying to balance career with the rest of my life, whether it’s spending time with family and friends; meeting a new man; being proactive about my health; trying out a new recipe; embarking on my latest home improvement project; taking a night class; engrossed in a book; binge watching a television series; or searching for that perfect shade of red nail polish…

Dolce Zitella will be updated every other Thursday.  Visit and bring your friends.

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Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Life Lessons

My Dad – the Ad Man

The following is a re-post from June 2016.

Back in the day, my father was a G-rated version of Don Draper – one of the original “ad men” of the 1960’s.  For most of his career, he worked in the advertising department at NBC.  As a child, I didn’t understand what he did, but I surmised it was important because he worked in Rockefeller Center and had a view of the skating rink from his office windows.

Years later, I understood just what his job entailed.  His department was responsible for all the print advertising for the network.  The graphic artists and copywriters created ads and he produced them, by working closely with engravers and typesetters.  He then bought space in the various newspapers and magazines that would run the ads.  Faced with the pressure of constant deadlines, he often schmoozed and negotiated with the printers, all the while cajoling the artists to get them to turn their work in on time.  My father worked long hours.  And he suffered from migraines.

My father’s immigrant father owned a small, independent, neighborhood fruit and vegetable store in Queens, New York.  My grandfather spent his life lifting and carrying crates.  Despite how tired my father must have been from his long work week at NBC, he sometimes helped out at the family store on Saturdays, and I doubt he and my grandfather ever talked to each other about work.  I’m not sure if my grandfather understood the power of the media or saw the work my father did as meaningful.

When my father retired, he traded in his suit and briefcase for a set of golf clubs.  These days, he goes out to breakfast with the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out), wearing the Life is Good baseball cap I gave him a few years ago.  He thought the slogan was a reference to his retirement.  But it was also meant to acknowledge how hard he worked to give our family a good life.

Dad

 

Thank you, Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

 

 

 

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Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers

How Do You See Yourself?

A collective groan came from the women in my office – myself included – when we recently found out we had to write a self-evaluation for our annual performance review.  Meanwhile, the guys seemed unfazed.  Why were the men so comfortable when it came to tooting their own horns, while we women struggled to recognize our talents and quantify our skills – let alone engage in anything resembling self-promotion?

So, as the guys retreated to their respective offices to write their evaluations, the women did what women do – we came together – to talk and share, and basically buoy each other up.

We put aside basic competencies and all the long hours we logged in at our desks.  Instead, we thought about who the three of us are when we’re not at the office: a mother to a ‘tween and a teen; a preacher; and a writer.  We looked at all the “life stuff” each of us brings to the table.

Hearing my co-workers’ observations reminded me of the way my mother would often compliment me when I was a girl.  When I dismissed her praise, insisting that she couldn’t possibly be objective, she would reinforce it saying, “I wish you could see yourself the way other people see you.”

In the end, I wrote about my challenges and accomplishments.  We all did.  Because when we saw ourselves as our peers see us, we looked pretty damn good.

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Girl Talk

Glam on the Go

If you’re like me, you automatically reach into your purse for your lipstick at the end of the meal.  Applying lipstick in a restaurant is commonplace enough that it often goes unnoticed.  Besides, it doesn’t take any special skill to swipe some color over your lips, even if you don’t have a mirror.

A friend of mine applies her full make-up regalia during her morning commute.  Using her rearview mirror, she performs this act in perfect synchronization with the stop lights along the way.  She can dab on concealer, bronzer, and lip gloss, not to mention perk up her eyes with mascara and eyeliner, all with a steady hand.  By the time she’s reached her office, her face is painted to flawless perfection.  It’s a talent for sure, and one that I couldn’t hope to imitate.  Besides, I don’t drive to work.

I commute using public transportation and the jostling that takes place on the subway or bus, not to mention the other passengers pressed up against you like sardines, and the students who whip around and whack you with their backpacks, all render the application of make-up impossible – or so I thought until the other day.

A woman sitting across from me reached into her tote bag and took out a false eyelash.  It looked like a big bushy caterpillar.  Using the tips of her fingernails as a substitute tweezer, she methodically picked off every bit of caked-on glue from the base of the eyelash.  Next, she took out a tiny tube of glue and strategically applied three dots.  When the glue was dry – remember, this was a moving train – she pressed the eyelash onto her lid.  She then repeated the process for the other eye.  I could not believe MY EYES!  Wish I could’ve stuck around to see what she’d do next, but we had reached my stop.

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Zitella's Favorite Recipes

Breakfast for Dinner

 

We didn’t have a plan when my brother and I decided to meet up for dinner last Friday night.  But after a tough work week, we were ready to ease into the weekend.  So instead of going to a noisy, crowded urban hot-spot, we agreed to just hang out at my place.  Besides, I had chicken parm in the freezer I could pop right into the oven.

My Italian-American sisters can back me up on this: we generally have chicken parm in our freezers.  Or a tray of lasagna at the ready.  And red sauce.  Or Bolognese.  It’s just what we do.  We cook and cook and then put it all in the freezer.

But my brother had chicken for lunch so he wasn’t too enthusiastic when I mentioned the chicken parm.

“Well…I have a carton of buttermilk, a pound of bacon, and a dozen eggs in the fridge.  Wanna have breakfast for dinner?” I suggested.

“Yeah!” he eagerly agreed.

For us, pancakes are comfort food and we both needed a dose the other night.

Within minutes, bacon was sizzling, flour was being sifted, and eggs were getting whisked.

My buttermilk pancake recipe comes from some long-forgotten, old-school cookbook.  I re-named the recipe the “best ever buttermilk pancakes” and if you make a batch, I think you’ll agree.

Best Ever Buttermilk Pancakes

 

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Pop Culture

The Candy Holidays

It’s over.  I can breathe a sigh of relief.  You know what I mean.  The candy holidays.  No normal human being can resist the constant barrage of sugary treats that appear in September and last until April.

It starts with that damn candy corn and the “fun size” candy bars.  You can have a few because they’re so small, harmless really.  Yeah, right.  It’s only fun until you suddenly can’t zip up your favorite jeans unless you lie down on your bed and hold your breath.  Let’s say that by some small miracle you make it through Harvest without gaining any weight.  Now it’s the hap-happiest season and you’re surrounded by candy canes and chocolate Santas.  Be careful here or you might get sucked into the sugar vortex that leads to an obscenely gigantic heart-shaped box of caramel and nut-covered chocolates, and a bag of tiny red cinnamon candies that, if you eat one too many, will burn your tongue and leave the roof of your mouth numb.  Next you’re hopping down the bunny trail trying to dodge those pastel-shelled chocolate mini-eggs, (I refer to as “devil eggs”) and neon-yellow marshmallow chicks.

As alluring as all that candy is every time you go shopping at the supermarket, drugstore, or large retail chain, the real challenge, at least for me, is the day after Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter when holiday candy gets marked down to half-price.  Forget the allure of the candy itself.  Who can resist such a bargain?  Clearly, not me.

Easter Sunday has come and gone and here’s my dilemma:

What to do about those Peeps?   A friend of mine once told me of a long-standing tradition that took place at her ivy-league university.  After eating one or two of the gritty, sticky little things, the rest of the brood got put into the microwave.  To get nuked.  Until they exploded.  I swear I’m not making this up.

Summer’s coming and fortunately, there are no Fourth of July sweets to tempt me.

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Best of Boston, Life Lessons, Pop Culture

New York to Boston and Back

 

The distance between my two homes is about 210 miles.  I’m a New Yorker who lives in Boston.

New York is the home my parents made for me.  All my peeps are there.  The Big Apple’s in my DNA – in the tone and cadence of my voice.  Regardless of where I go, my birth certificate and passport identify me as a native of the greatest city in the world.  Just like the song says, I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep…”   We talk fast, and we walk fast, like a type-A personality after a couple of cans of Red Bull.  Go people watching in Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.  My favorite piece of architecture is the Chrysler Building.  Favorite hotel, the Algonquin.  Favorite drink, the egg cream, of course.  Growing up in Queens made me a Mets fan.  For life.  Because I’m of the belief that when it comes to baseball, you stick with your home team, no matter what.

Boston is the home I made for myself.  The day I moved to the Bay State I heard the Standells’ song about the Charles River playing on the car radio, “…Well I love that dirty water, oh, Boston you’re my home, and I was hooked.  I fell in love with the swan boats in the Public Garden, the Citgo sign, and Filene’s Basement.  Despite my proximity to Fenway Park, I am not, and never will be, a member of Red Sox Nation.  I did, however, fall hard for the Bruins.  Apparently my home team rule doesn’t apply to hockey.  We’re called Beantown, The Hub, and more recently “Title Town.”  And the water?  Not so dirty.

My tale of two cities is a love story.  When I’m in New York, it feels like home.  Yet when I leave to go back to Boston, I’m on my way home.  And visa versa.  It may sound confusing, but not to me.  Home is where the heart is.

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Best of Boston

Snow Day Dreamin’

The snow days of my childhood were idyllic.  Just like Peter, the little boy in one of my favorite books, Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, my brother and I, bundled up in our snowsuits, boots, and mittens, would go outside to play in the newly fallen snow and make snow angels.  We would do this over and over, until we were soaking wet and shivering.  My mom would get us dry and warmed up with hot soup and a freshly baked batch of chocolate chip cookies.  What could be more perfect?  The day off from school.

Last week’s Nor’easter brought 55-mile-an-hour winds that rattled my windows and changed the direction of the snow so it appeared to be falling horizontally.  But the City of Boston generally does a good job of snow removal.  And New Englanders don’t scare easily when it comes to extreme weather, until both the mayor and the governor tell everyone to stay home.  And just like that, children and grown-ups alike were given a gift – a most uncommon occurrence – a snow day.

But there are no real snow days anymore.  At least not the care-free, snow angel, chocolate chip cookie snow days I remember.  WiFi and laptops make it not only possible but mandatory for us to work remotely from home.  Maybe I was cozy and comfy in a pair of yoga pants, sweatshirt, and spa socks, as the barrage of emails came as fast and furious as the snow.  With my landline ringing and my cell phone humming, I didn’t even take a lunch break until 3 in the afternoon.  I was so focused on the work at hand, I didn’t realize the snow had let up.  As I watched from my living room window, neighbors shoveled out, walked their dogs, and played with their children.  I’d missed it all.  My snow day was over before it ever began.

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