Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jesus




Jesus
I have not heard from You.
I have not seen You.
Are You listening?
Can You see me?
I’ve been waiting…

I’ve felt Your presence in the past,
I’ve noticed Your blessing before
But today I have doubt.
Why do I doubt?

If I’ve heard You, felt You, talked with You
before why is it today I feel lost?
Is it me not listening?
Maybe I am not looking at You,
Am I the one not answering?

Allow me to be open to Your word.
Give me strength to continue,
Feed me with Your grace, shower me
with Your patience, cover me with
Your blanket of protection from evil.

My ears are open, my eyes alert, my
heart is soft, ready to receive You.
You have always been here,
Thanks for waiting for me!
© Frank Orobello

Monday, December 29, 2014

Promise to Give

I have been writing all month about charity and generosity. This is my final post on this subject. Most of my moral and ethical lessons come from my mother. I have many wonderful memories of my mother's selfless love. When she passed away, we found her diary, which I now have, and my siblings and I read with tears in our eyes how much she loved giving to others. She thanked God for her life and for what he did provide. I do not remember her ever wanting more than she had.

Maybe, that's the lesson to learn. Maybe, we all should be grateful for what we have and stop trying to compete with all those others who seem to have so much more. My mother loved family. Family was her priority after God. From her, I learned the importance of love for husband and for children. From her, I learned to be affectionate and sensitive. I realize many do not have mothers like mine. I realize that many have mean spirited mothers who do not show love or compassion, but one can break the cycle. One can make a promise to change the genetic nature of hate and turn it into love.

I have learned that the best way to feel good about what one has is by volunteering for those who have a lot less. I know it sounds cliché to write a list of all one is thankful, but I recently heard that maybe the best list to make is a list of what one is thankful they are NOT like, "I'm thankful I'm not a young black man because I believe they are profiled by the way they look than by who they are" or "I'm thankful I'm not poor because their suffering is so profound," or "I'm thankful I don't live in Pakistan because as a woman I would be thought of as lesser than."

I think we should make a promise to be compassionate to all those for whom you are not. Make a promise to give to organizations that will educate our young people and old alike; make a promise to give to the poor, and make a promise to help those in countries where education, peace, and democracy does not exist. Initiate peace, tolerance, and generosity.
© Natala Orobello

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From Darkness into Light


These are tumultuous times. I don’t think anyone will argue that. Without any research at all, I can recollect some of this year’s top news stories and wince. The kidnapping of dozens of young girls by Nigerian extremists, the Syrian Civil War and the displacement of thousands from their homes and country, the beheadings of innocent men carried out by Isis terrorists in the name of justice, the Ebola outbreak and the thousands who died, the racial riots in the United States that are reminiscent of the 60s, the technical glitches that have cost millions and destroyed some reputations, on and on and on. I’m not sure what we Americans can do. I don’t even know where we would start. But, I do have some ideas.

I am not the type of person who can tackle large problems. I am always impressed by those who can change laws, direct new ventures, oversee and handle corporations, and govern cities, states, or a country. I can handle smaller stuff.  I made sure my children were respectful, generous, spiritual, trustworthy, and all around good people. I try to be kind, respectful, and courteous to everyone I meet and everyone I know. I’ve never gotten into trouble with the law and no one I know has ever gotten into trouble with the law. My family and my friends have the same philosophies as I, and we are good citizens.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pralines


When my mother made these, she did not include the brown sugar or the cinnamon. The result was pure white sugar hardened on the toasted almonds. They were very, very good. However, my children enjoy the carnival style, so I experimented until I was happy with the results. 

Ingredients:

3          cups almonds
2          cups sugar
1          cup brown sugar
2          tbs.. cinnamon
1/4       water (or less)
pinch of salt

Directions:

Bake almonds in 3750 for fifteen minutes.  Cool.  
Mix sugars, cinnamon, and salt.
Melt dry ingredients in a sturdy pot. 
Allow sugar to warm (at least 10 minutes on low heat), then add the water little at a time to see how much water it will take to melt all sugar. When all is melted, quickly toss nuts in with till totally covered and sugar has hardened on nuts.  
Place on cookie sheet and begin separating each almond. Allow to totally cool before eating.

.© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Answer in the Son



Suppose there was madness, what would you do?
Suppose there was no peace, no joy, no hope.
Suppose the world were out of joint.
Suppose chaos ruled the world, what would you do?

Sometimes out of chaos comes peace.
Sometimes out of chaos comes joy.
Sometimes out of chaos comes hope.
Sometimes out of chaos comes calm .

Some people find the answer to the East.
Some people find the answer within.
Some people find the answer in heaven above.
Some people see the answer in the Son.
 © Natala Orobello

Monday, December 22, 2014

Definition of Charity


What is the definition of charity? The dictionary informs us that charity is the, “giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.” Mother Teresa was the essence of charity. The very symbol of charity. She gave not only of her time, but also of herself. She was altruistic as well as charitable. When I think of Bill and Malinda Gates, I think of their philanthropic hearts and their devotion to do and give of themselves to those all over the world. I think of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai who bravely encouraged Pakistani girls to pursue an education. These are just a few examples of what it is to be charitable. But, there are other examples.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in Florida


Christmas in Florida is not the same as Christmas in New York. Winter holidays swiftly arrive like jack in the box. We are still in our bathing suits, diving in our warm pools, drinking our margaritas when the rest of the country is bustling with speed to the nearest mall to purchase gifts for under the Christmas tree. We have palm trees swaying with the breeze. Christmas? Really? When did that happen?

My first winter in Florida was comical. We ended up lowering the air conditioner to around 60 degrees just so we would feel cold enough to wear sweaters! Our plants were still growing as quickly as in the summer months, and we did not even think of the holidays. We could see from the evening news that other states were experiencing snow, blizzards, and below freezing weather, but we were sitting pool side with our drinks and thinking, “isn’t life grand?” Suddenly, it was about a week before Christmas, and I had not purchased one gift. I was always the one who began buying most of my gifts around September or October. Weeks before the big day, I was done. Not in Florida. I was a changed woman.

Mind you, I love Florida (I didn’t always), but around Thanksgiving, I begin to miss feeling that brisk chill in the air, and tackling the crowds at my favorite mall. I miss the hustle and bustle of New York Christmas. I miss building snow men and making snow angels. I miss cold fingers at Rockefeller Plaza as the Christmas tree is lit. I miss… Oh who am I kidding? I don’t miss all that cold, snow stuff, I just miss feeling like it’s Christmas. But, I guess I can lower the air and put on a sweater, and all will be well.

© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Real Italian Torone




My family continues to use this recipe even though it is about one hundred years old. My mother got it from her mother-in-law, who got it from her mother, etc. I don't think anyone has tasted a candy so good. At least that's what my friends tell me.

Ingredients:

1          lb. shelled nuts - combination of almonds and hazelnuts
2          cups sugar

Directions:
Toast shelled hazelnuts and almonds in 3500 oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop and set aside.
On top of stove melt the 2 cups of sugar slowly. I mean very slowly. You have to be very patient with this. It takes quite awhile before the center begins to boil When it does, it will be a dark chestnut color. You may now begin to speed the process by moving the dry sugar to the melting sugar slowly. Once all sugar is melted, you will want to add the toasted nuts.
 When the nuts are completely covered with the melted sugar, you will need to pour the mixture onto either a greased marble top or a greased cutting board. Grease a rolling pin and roll out the candy till it's about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into bite size pieces before it becomes too hard.  
Allow it to cool on and then refrigerate in an airtight container.
 © Natala Orobello





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Forgive


For all those whom I have hurt
I’m sorry
For all those who have hurt me
I forgive you
Holding on to pain
Poisons the soul
Never apologizing
Agonizes the spirit
No one ever said loving was easy
Loving is very hard
Liking is even more difficult
And in the end, all that’s left
Is the realization that ~
No one is perfect
No one can be
We can only forgive
Or be forgiven.
                                 © Natala Orobello

Monday, December 15, 2014

Teaching Charity


     Like anything else, teaching charity must begin early and must begin at home. It is not the job of our Spiritual guides or our teachers, but of our mother’s and father’s. The others can only touch upon it, but they cannot enforce it or reinforce it on a daily basis. We hear about being charitable during the holidays, especially Christmas, but charity is something we should think about all year long. But how can we do this?

     When I was growing up, my mother taught me to give whenever possible. We didn’t have much, but what we did have we shared. I realize there are those amazing people in the world who pursue a life of charity by leaving their homes to help those who withstood a natural disaster and those who feed the hungry, and these are commendable, but many don’t know that there are other ways to help and assist. There are other ways one can give all year long. That is what my mother insisted we do.
In my home, we gave clothes, toys, furniture, and household items to our favorite organization like Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent’s de Paul, and of course mom’s favorite orphanage. This taught us that material things were not important and we should not become attached to these things. What we were close to was God and family.

     Though my mother did not volunteer anywhere, she did write letters for those who could not write, she brought food over to those whom she knew would not be celebrating the holidays for lack of funds, and she sewed clothes to anyone who needed a new dress or woolen slippers. But, many of us can volunteer at a nearby school to read or assist with homework, or visit a local nursing home to sit and chat with those who don’t have family close by. We can spend some time with animals at the Humane Society near our home or volunteer a few hours at a hospital, library, museum, or theater.

     I don’t think there was ever a time we passed a child collecting for some type of fund raiser, that mom didn’t drop a few nickels and dimes. Today, we can give a few dollars to those young boys and girls who are collecting donations for the school band or school’s athletic department.

     Of course, my mother lived during much simpler times. Yet, Americans are known to be among the most generous people on earth. The problem most of us have is lack of time, so find the right niche for you and your family. Don’t become discouraged if some places require more time than your family can give. Most of the time, it can be worked out, so everyone is satisfied. Teach your children through modeling the behavior of giving not only during the holiday season but also throughout the year.

© Natala Orobello

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Speaking Out


According to a newspaper article in the New York Times, “…almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime…” says Linda C. Degutis, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC. If one believes the figure is very high, then reflect on the fact that a great number of women never report rape: “60% of sexual assaults are not reported.”  Even more frightening is the fact that “every two minutes another American is sexually assaulted” (RAINN).

With all the news coverage on Bill Cosby and his alleged sexual assaults on over fifteen women, the topic of sexual assault, specifically rape, begs the question, why? What type of society accepts, forgives (97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail (RAINN) and tolerates this horrid crime?

We are a civilized country. Aren’t we? We tell the rest of the world we are. Don’t we? When we hear of women in other countries being sexually assaulted, we are outraged. We demand something be done. We say the population is lacking justice, yet what have we Americans done differently?  Research seems to show that those who commit sexual crimes tend to return again and again to prison more so than individuals who committed other crimes (Dr. Ron Sanchez, Supervising Psychologist at Utah State Prison). So, why aren't our jail terms longer? More severe?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Octopus Our Way


Ok, I realize this sounds weird unless you like octopus. Many people do not, but most Italians do because those who live near the Mediteranian Sea have very specific types of fish available, octopus is one of them as are sardines and calamari. So, if you're into exotic eating, then you will absolutely love this recipe. If you're not, then I recommend you skip this. It's an acquired taste.

Octopus In Its Own Water

Ingredients:

1          octopus (medium size)
2          tbs. olive oil
hot red pepper to taste

Directions:

Clean and cut octopus into small bite size pieces ( 1 in. ).  Place olive oil in pot and add cut octopus into pot.  Let simmer slowly for over one hour, or until it is tender.
It will throw out lots of water and will be purple in color.  The gravy is somewhat thick and clings lovingly on each piece of crispy, crunchy Italian bread you dunk.

Buon Appetito!

 © Natala Orobello

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What's In A Name?

I wrote this poem because for many years people called me Lina. Long story, but it goes something like this. My real name is Natala, but in Italy they have a tendency to add "lina" to everyone's name, so they called me Natalina. Eventually, they (my family and relatives) took away my real name and called me by the ending, Lina. 
I went by Lina for so long I forgot my real name. Really! In my thirtees I need my birth certificate and that's when I learned my name, again. I began using my real name then, but it has been very difficult for family and friends who knew me when...
My name is very important to me. It reflects by birthdate and the essence of who I am. This poem, I hope, explains my desire to be called, Natala.


What's in a name?
A rose is a rose is a rose
but what happens if one calls a rose, daisy?

It would change everything.
the rose would begin to look different
it would begin to act differently
It just would not be the same.

A name defines
it distinguishes and provides color
a name gives meaning
to the personality within.

What if a lion were called "muskrat"?
It would not roar
it would not walk around with pride
He would wither and die.

A name dignifies
it explains who we are 
before we know who we are
it helps us grow strong or weak.

What's in a name?
Everything - 

                                                                                    © Natala Orobello

Monday, December 8, 2014

Charities That Really Help


I must admit that I cheated and went to Forbes to get my data. They investigate, evaluate, and analyze the organizations in order to establish their efficacy, so people like you and me have more knowledge before sending money to a charity this holiday season. The data they provide would have taken me many days to accumulate.

I am really glad that Salvation Army and Feeding America are at the top five of the fifty they mention. Check the list of fifty, and see which one sounds right for you. Please remember to not feel guilty. Give what you can, if you can. And if you do give, then give to an organization that is close to your heart, so you will feel the pull to give again during the year.

Here's wishing you well, and God Bless you.

Here is the link: Top Fifty Charities - Listed by Forbes

© Natala Orobello

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Super Hero

This poem was written by my daughter to her father. It not only explains her sentiments but also allows one to visualize how even as a grown woman, she sees her father from the eyes of a young child. I think her words are are heart warming and passionate. They are tender and loving. I hope you will enjoy reading this beautiful testament to her Poppy Man.

I believe in Super Heroes
Because I have one you see.
He is an amazing man in my life
He's my Poppy.

He has moved mountains in my eyes
and parted a forest of trees.
He has put away bad guys
And calmed the roaring seas.

He has strength that is not human
And a heart of iron and gold
He has the kindest eyes
Of anyone I've known.

He can create a masterpiece with any material
It's like magic you see.
He has lots of gifts yet many do not know
But I am lucky enough to love this man,
My Super Hero. 
                                                                                 
                                                                                   © Natalie Orobello

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Is The Truth in the Michael Brown Case?



I'm so confused. Maybe I need help understanding what is happening in this country. I am ambivalent about the Michael Brown case. I'm not sure where I stand. Why? Because I hear so many conflicting stories, so which story do I believe?

It would be nice if CNN, Fox News, or any other news station would give us facts and not hype. CNN thrives on drowning viewers with intense images based on histrionics. Fox News is biased and reflects the news depending on their point of view. What we need is an impartial point of view from professionals who don't want to incite viewers the way Rev. Al Sharpton does, but who want to state the whole story and then evaluate or analyze the facts within the story.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stuffed Calamari


Christmas Eve at the Orobello's means lots and lots of fish. My husband's favorite is Stuffed Calamari. His mother made it every Christmas, so it's nostalgic and delicious. We serve many different types of fish, so in the next few weeks I will try to post a few of our favorites.

Ingredients:

1          box (three lbs.) of whole large calamari

Stuffing Ingredients:

½         cup bread crumb
1          tbs. olive oil
2          cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2          stems and leaves of parsley (finely chopped)
pepper to taste

Directions:

Calamari are difficult to clean.  If you can buy them cleaned, you will save yourself a  lot of time and effort.
To clean calamari:  peel skin off first; then, take off wings and set aside; remove top or head; now, insert index finger and clean out inside, making sure to remove all inside guts and bone, rinse the cleaned calamari and set aside.
Stuffing:
In small bowl place all  ingredients and combine (stuffing should be moist from oil but not soaked. Spoon small amount into calamari and place toothpick to seal top.  Do not overstuff because calamari  will shrink and if it's overstuffed it will break.  Place a generous amount of plain tomato sauce (we use Hunts) on a deep baking pan, place stuffed calamari on top and then add more sauce on top of calamari as well as some grated cheese.  Bake in 375º oven  till fork inserts easily, about ½ hour. Serve with lots of bread or a nice plate of pasta.




Note:  Use lobster sauce to cover calamari; the taste is incredible!
 © Natala Orobello

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Faith





I speak to her as though she is a roman catholic saint
“mom, save so and so; heal our good friend so and so;
help so and so through the rough times.”

Then  I wait for a miracle  from my saintly mother.
If it happens, I thank her.
If it doesn’t, I think “maybe she couldn’t.
She might not have enough clout.”

My mother when alive, spoke to God, and often
he would answer.
Now, she is with God.
She must be at his feet – asking, praying for those
she left behind.

Maybe, if she stood,
God would send the miracle home.
                                                                                                © Natala Orobello

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Guilt of Not Giving

I have sometimes felt guilty because I do not give to the United Way or American Cancer Society or American Red Cross, or whatever society someone else is giving to. At my previous job, we were almost pressured to give to the United Way. For weeks I would feel guilty if I had not given. My husband and I give to a few organizations that mean a lot to us, and it IS impossible to give to every society that asks for donations.

Every day, we receive mail from at least one or two agencies that request money. They send stickers, address labels, necklaces with the face of Jesus, and in one case I got a two dollar check that I could deposit if I sent a ten dollar donation. I ripped up the check. That one was really out to make me feel guilty. 

I admit I am not the world’s greatest giver. My mother was. She nearly took the clothes off our backs, so she could send them to the orphanage in Italy. If my mother had one dollar left, she would give the entire amount at church, knowing God would provide. He always did, but mind you she lived a very frugal and altruistic life. I give clothes, appliances, and furniture to either the Salvation Army or a church related thrift store because they don't overcharge costumers. I waited for my children to outgrow their clothes before giving them away (the clothes not my children).  If I'm left with a dollar, I will give fifty cents because though I trust God will provide, I'm not one hundred per cent sure he’ll provide that week.


This month is probably noted for being the most charitable month on the calendar. Christmas is a time of giving and there are thousands of charities one can give to. But, which one is the most responsible? Which one truly gives to those in need and not to the executives who work there? The one’s who don’t lay on the guilt, but wait for you to make the generous gift. They don’t contact you, you contact them. So, check out my blog next week for some insight into those charities that are the most trustworthy.

© Natala Orobello

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thank You



Have you ever written God 
thank you?

We pray and ask.
We wish and sometimes demand.
But, in the end
Do we remember to say
thank you?

We want our problems solved.
That's all there is to it.
But, do we remember to say 
thank you
when our problems are resolved?

We pray for forgiveness
We pray for healing
But, is there a prayer just to say
thank you?

For all the little blessings
we take for granted each day -
For all the times we have asked
And received - yet forgotten,
We should say
Thank You - God!

© Natalie Orobello

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Anniversary


I have written you poems
I have written you stories
I have filled hundreds of cards
Expressing my love and devotion

Yet

Have I told you how much I trust you
That I have never doubted your love,
That you are my rock and anchor
My friend when I had none?

Have I ever told you
How handsome you are
And never, ever have I wished to be
With anyone other than you?

You are my definition of love 
Our children have learned of love 
by watching how love stems from
trust, honesty, loyalty, and friendship.

They know there is such a thing as love at first sight
I have told them of our first meeting

And 

Every time I share our story
I fall in love with you again and again.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, November 24, 2014

On Being a Grandparent

When our first grandaughter was due, I went out and bought several books on how to be a great grandmother. There were chapters on ways to bond and ways to interact as they get older. The day she came home, I smiled for twelve hours straight, so much so that I had a tremendous headache that night from smiling too much. I was lucky enough that my daughter in law and son are so wonderful. They let me hold her to my heart's content, except of course when she needed to be fed.

I did help with the housework, laundry, dusting, sweeping, etc. but I was welcomed to change the baby and bond with her, which was so very special. I watched her sleep and remember thinking that my heart would burst for the love of her. What I learned in those early months and first few years is that children don't really want to be entertained. They want to be loved, and of that I had plenty.

Mike and I try to do as much as we can with our grandchildren. We take them to the park, to the beach, to the theater, etc. and we plan many fun activities with them, but the most important aspect of our time together is that we are together. They know without asking that we love them and that we will protect them from any harm. They know that we want to spoil them, yet we want them to be kind and respectful.

Being a good or great grandparent doesn't mean giving grandchildren everything they ask for (even though we want to), it means spending time with them to read, talk, whisper, and tell stories. It's about being together with love.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, November 21, 2014

Divorce



I've never walked alone
I don't know if I can.

It frightens me -
that dark, cold hall.

To confront a crowd
of unknown faces
I don't want to explain
who I am
what I'm about
No questions, please.

Right now - I'm no one
I have no ideals
no dreams
no past
or future
I'm only living in the present
I can't be any more.
                        © Natalaie Orobello

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Triangle of Hope


As an educator for over thirty years, I have listened to our citizens blame teachers, principals, and superintendents for the decline of American education. I have yet to hear about the parents and the students. The only way education is going to work is if every single aspect of the triangle works together. Only then, will our education system succeed.

Imagine this: Students come to school well fed and prepared to learn. They are neither hungry nor tired. They have parents who ask about homework, what book they’re reading, what math problems they’re working on and what they did in Science lab. They have parents who make sure all homework is complete, game time is limited, and their child gets some time outdoors. They have parents who flock to back to school night and parent/teacher conference. Imagine that the students are excited about education because they have learned from an early age that education is crucial in order to do well and be successful.

For years, I tried to involve parents in my students’ education. I voluntarily set up meetings, so parents could meet counselors, teachers, and administrators. I sent out hundreds of invitations. Three or four parents would show up.

I am frustrated about teachers being graded and administrators being graded. I want parents to be graded. There, I’ve said it. I’ve held my tongue for too long. I’m tired of being politically correct.
Teachers and administrators think, eat, and breathe education. We attend conferences, seminars, and workshops to improve ourselves. Even when I offered to have workshops for parents, no one came. Work? Yes, we all work. We all have someplace to be or someplace we would rather be. But, as parents our children should come first.

I believe with all my heart that our students will do better, our schools will improve, our country will be more successful when parents realize that education is important and it does not mean merely sending their child off on the school bus. I want parents to know that they are the most vital element of the triangle and that without them, an excellent education is unlikely.

 © Natala Orobello

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spicy Hot Mussel Soup


This is a great soup for those winter months when you want to remember what summer was like. Mussel soup includes many ingredients that are comforting, filling, and appetizing. We had this soup recently and have to admit it's definitely a do over!!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. of mussels - cleaned in 1 cup of water, cooked and removed from shell (reserve liquid for soup)
1 bunch broccolini - cooked and chopped
1 bunch escarole or chicory - cooked and chopped (cook both in 4 cups of water and reserve for soup)
4 links of smoked sausage - cooked and cut into small pieces
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 red chili pepper- seeded and cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves - peeled and diced
1/2 onion - chopped
3 medium size potatoes- cubed
2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl. butter
1/2 cup white wine
salt to taste
Large loaf of crispy, rustic Italian Bread or 1/4 lb. pasta

Directions:
In a deep pot, place the oil and butter. On low heat add onion and garlic, braise till tender not brown. Add chili pepper and white wine as well as the liquid from mussels and greens. Add mussels, greens, sausage, potatoes, parsley, and salt to taste.
Serve with hot, crispy, crunchy Italian bread!!! Yummmy good.

© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tears In a Bottle


God collects our tears
our sorrows and our fears
He knows each heart ache
and feels each heart break
He has seen and written it all
in His Book of joy and grief.

Never alone are you.
He walks by your side.
Though you may believe
He does not see
your grief you cannot hide.

If you wonder where He's been
If you feel He’s let you down
Remember His words of Peace
And His promise so profound.

Is it you who turned away?
Is it you who does not see?
Is it you who has misplaced peace?
Is it you, not He?
                   © Natala Orobello

Monday, November 17, 2014

Encourage Creativity



Children are creative. It’s in their natural design. They have make believe friends, live in a castle, and picnic in the den. They build tents under the bed and have pretend teas with their stuffed animals. So, creating a story with them can be fun and instructional without their knowing.

Every child develops individually, so it is important that parents and relatives understand that not every child will be ready when the adult is ready. Once the two agree that they want to do this, then the adult can begin with the concept of the story and the first line of the story. The child can add a few words or a full sentence to continue the story. I used to do this with my children on the ride to Upstate New York from Bayville, Long Island, a three hour ride.

We “wrote” short stories or poems. When we created short stories, they learned about plot, conflict, dialogue and resolution. For our car poetry recitals, they learned rhyme and rhythm. We laughed at some of the funny stories and poems we wrote, but the creativity helped pass the time and in retrospect may have helped my children become amazing poets (I think they’re amazing in everything) and writers.

I have created power point stories, on site plays, and poetry contests to promote interest in writing. Two of my grandchildren already write stories! Encourage reading and writing from an early age, and the results will be remarkable and rewarding.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Perfect Match





I look into my daughters' eyes and I see you
I listen to their laughs and I hear you
I admire their love and understanding for music and I admire you
I'm watching my girls grow up and I 'm thankful you are raising them

A husband couldn't ask for a more beautiful wife
A father couldn't ask for a more patient and loving mother,
A friend couldn't ask for a more supportive and caring friend
I couldn't ask for a more perfect match for my children and myself
© Frank Orobello

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Article: Playing the Blaming Game


Playing the blaming game is so darn easy. If we’re Republicans, we can blame the president for being involved in the Middle East, for health care, for the economy, for education, etc. If we’re Democrats we might want to blame congressmen and senators and if we don’t know what we are we blame everyone. It’s great blaming others; this way we don’t have to look at ourselves.

One can take this scenario and create an analogy within our families. If we like the way we ended up we take full credit, but if we have emotional hang ups or psychological problems, well then it’s all mom’s fault or dad was a really pain in the butt. We take the credit for the positive and hand out the blame for the negative. Again, it’s much easier that way.

So, what’s my point? I don’t know. I think I’m looking at my own faults and finally deciding to accept my faults as my own and my successes as my own. I’m old enough. I’ve blamed my past for plenty. I had a good childhood and a crummy childhood. There’s worse and there’s better.

I think someone who has had trauma in their lives because of poor parenting issues needs counseling. Sometimes, they need years of counseling, but then it’s time to move on. Sometimes those negative elements actually helped shape the positive character traits in one’s personality. That’s good, right?

I love my kids. I think they’re the smartest and wisest people I know. My daughter, who by the way could blame me for a few problematic issues like poor body image and a sense of abandonment, has never played the blame game. She loves me unconditionally and for that I am eternally grateful. My son also loves unconditionally and claims that every experience in his life has been a lesson toward improving who he is as a husband, father, son and brother.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home Made Memories






Times of simple joy and deep despair.
Days of poverty and wintry wealth.

Robust wine sprayed with seltzer water.
Plain pasta with fagioli and parsley. 
A piece of veal, fresh cheese, a slice of fruit
warm home made bread.

Young children scrawny and sunless pale
Suffering a battle with writhing worms.
They inhale cloves of garlic to extract
them, chocking as the worms slither out.

Laundry days at the nearby sweet ravine.
Moms squatting skillfully to wash linen sheets
Children bent to wash embroidered hankies,
Scrubbing the old white cloth with gray ash.
© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cream of Anything Soup


Creamy soups don't have to be high in calories and fat. As a matter of fact one can drastically reduce the calories by using fresh chicken stock or vegetable stock and pureeing the wet with the dry in a blender (my favorite appliance in the kitchen). I enjoy different types of creamy soups like broccoli, celery, carrot, potato, etc. You name it, you can cream it. Here's how.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh vegetables - broccoli or celery or carrot, etc.
1 potato cut into very small pieces (potato will act as a natural starch)
2 cups vegetable broth (left over from cooking the vegetable)
1 cup chicken stock (you may not need all of it)
2 tbs. butter
1/2 onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook vegetables as well as potato in 2 cups of water. Be sure the vegetables are cut small. Once cooked remove the vegetables and place them as well as the reserved liquid in a blender.
In the empty pot, melt the butter and braise chopped onion. Once the onion is translucent, add it to vegetable blend and pulse till combined. Add chicken stock a little at a time ( stop if soup looks runny. You want a nice, creamy consistency)and pulse once more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return mixture to pot and cook till hot. Serve with croutons and a drop of sour cream. It will look pretty and taste amazing.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nonno & Nonna Camp


Once a year, my grandchildren come to visit for nearly a week. It’s a time we get to see them 24/7 and actively participate in their activities. I generally plan the days many months in advance, so we do not have to wonder, “What are we going to do today?” Children get bored easily, so it’s very important to have several activities scheduled per day. Normally, I have a theme like Drama week or Arts and Crafts week. This year, I’m planning Chef’s Week!! Yet, it's important even with an overall theme that many other activities are included like going to the park, beach, shopping, library, movies, etc. But, here are some examples of camp week.

Drama week began with all of us writing a play with a simple setting, some dialogue, a narrative; practice and rehearsal the next day, and collection of some props we created or collected ourselves. Finally, the big day!

Day one: we wrote the play – we decided it was going to be about a group of girls who went on a boat ride and got lost. We talked about what each girl would say and do. The youngest at the time wanted to say, “I don’t want to go!” So, we incorporated that phrase any time the older girls made a suggestion about the adventure; for example, when Olivia suggested, “Let’s go on an adventure!” Jules would say, “I don’t want to go!” If Sophie said something like, “Ok, it’s time to get on the boat,” Jules would say, “I don’t want to go!” You get the idea. That night I typed it up and had the script written and copies made for each one.

The next day, we practiced the dialogue and collected the props in between rehearsals. The setting ended up being our lanai/pool area. The raft we have became their boat, we collected sticks for the fire they were going to build on the island (off the lanai), and we bought fake fish (little ones from the Dollar Store), so they could pretend to fish and have something for their supper.

The following day we videotaped the play. It was wonderful and the girls loved every aspect of it except for Jules who really didn’t want to go, but she played along like a champ!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Who is She?




Who is that person I see?
She looks so familiar.
Is she happy? Sad?
Does she love? Hate?

Is she alone ~
or in company?

The picture is fuzzy
Her expression unclear
It does not disclose
Who she is or what she feels.

Her eyes are deep
like the stories she has not told.

Her face so young and innocent
where is she headed ~
what will her life bring?

Does the picture clear
and become more defined?
© Natalie Orobello

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Voting In these United States





Well, voting is over. Americans voted for judges, commissioners, legislature, senators, and governors. One third of Americans voted. Two thirds did not. I would love to know why.
Why is it that in a country which allows its citizens the right to choose who will lead them and represent them, only a small number vote?
I don’t know, but I sure would like to hear from those who did not vote. Are you happy with the outcome? Good.
Are you upset with the outcome? Why? 
Write to me and I will post your answer: natala1957@gmail.com
© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Split Pea Soup




This is perhaps one of my favorite soups. The best split pea soup (in my opinion) is served at Ben's Deli in Manhassett. But, I must admit Mike and I make a recipe that comes very close.

Ingredients:

2 tbl. olive oil
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of split peas (soaked overnight)
1 carrot - diced
1 medium onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - crushed but left whole
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In medium size pot, place olive oil, onion and garlic and braise till translucent. Add chicken stock and peas. Add carrots when you have about one hour left. Cook till peas and carrots are tender (about two hours). When fully cooked, you may transfer ingredients into a food processor or blender to create a smooth, creamy consistency. If you prefer a more rugged soup, you may leave as is.

Serve with garlic, cheese croutons - best if you make these on your own. Use stale bread, cut into bite size pieces, place in plastic bag. In a cup pour 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, a touch of pepper, salt, grated parmesan cheese, and oregano. Mix really well before pouring into plastic bag.
Place in baking sheet and bake till golden brown.
© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walkers



The Walkers
Be still my heart
Beating violently with
Passion for you~
This day – this moment
Filled with shadows of love
Sun streaming juices
For your sweet lips.
----
We walk
into the woods
under pretense of
Wildflowers to be plucked
But there are none to gather.
-----
Do not turn away my adored
For you are the blood
Flowing in my veins ~
Keeping me alive.
----
Do you not sense my hunger?
----
I am not a prince
Or a king upon a throne.
I am a lonely beggar
Knocking at your door.

© Natala Orobello