Tales From A Hungry Life

May 9, 2017

The Seven Year Itch Blog Post

by Maria Schulz

It’s been a while. As usual, life has gotten in the way and I haven’t been writing as much as I would like—or at all. I wanted to write a blog post but inspiration just didn’t come a’callin. My blog is a lot like a romantic relationship: it requires care and feeding, but I just wasn’t in the mood. However, I knew I needed it and it needed me, so I logged on. This message was waiting for me:



Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 7 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

I was torn between being really touched, and being kind of horrified. I FORGOT MY BLOG’S ANNIVERSARY!!! Anyone who has ever walked through the door on anniversary night without flowers, candy, or diamonds knows what I’m feeling right now. I neglected my blog! I couldn’t even remember our stinkin’ anniversary! What kind of monster am I?

Yes, 7 years ago I started this blog relationship, not expecting to have anyone read anything I wrote. That made me sad and kind of glad too. Yes, I wanted people to read my writing, but no…I didn’t want anyone to ever read my writing.

It’s scary out there

Writing in this public way is exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a thrill to have people read and comment on something that I’ve created. But it’s also like standing in Macy’s window during the holidays wearing nothing but tinsel. You can’t help but feel exposed.

Forgetting my blogging anniversary made me feel sad. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of posting and sharing. Everything was new and exciting. I had a forum for my family stories! I was getting laughs when I told stories about my relatives! I could give Valentine’s tips or make fun of the Twilight movies—often at the SAME TIME! Blogging was something I couldn’t wait to do.

Are you a vampire?

But then…the years rolled by. My blog got kind of flabby. He wasn’t the same as he was seven years ago. I could hear Bloggy giving me pep talks, saying things like: “Did you blog today?” “The key to writing is to just show up!” and “You’re letting your readers down!” He always wanted me to do my best and honestly, he was something of a nag. He was starting to get on my nerves. Sometimes being with him was immensely gratifying. Other times, the responsibility of keeping him fed and happy drove me crazy. Plus, deep down I was always afraid that I would bomb on the blogging stage.

I searched “people who bombed on stage” and this is the image that came up

I still enjoy writing blog posts and sharing stories, but the blog has become like that old, reliable love interest that you know will still be there when you feel like showing up. I even started this blog post a month ago and then put it aside. Bloggy could wait. I had other challenges to attend to.

What a nag

While he was sitting waiting patiently for my return, I started to think about how glad I am that I started this blog in 2010. It helped me grow in confidence and vision. Here are all the things that blogging has helped me achieve over the past 7 years:

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

  • Telling my family stories helped me finally complete my first book, Tales From A Hungry Life: A Memoir With Recipes. I got congrats from folks as far away as Ireland who said they enjoyed my book. I even got fan mail!
  • My readers liked the first book so much that they asked for a second. So, I’m currently writing Hungry Lifer: More Tales. More Stories. More Fun. I’m hopeful that I’ll have a cover to share soon, and that I’ll have the entire book published in time for a reading in August.
  • I have written 206 posts on everything and anything: my family, my friends, Catholic school, teachers, books, pets, dead celebrities, an author book reading, the cast for the movie/broadway show/television sitcom for Tales From A Hungry Life, and lots more

I could’ve just gone on social media and started writing 140 word posts and gotten a ton of likes for stories distilled into fragments. But it wouldn’t have been the same.Here’s the thing: I miss my blog. Sure, Bloggy isn’t the new and exciting love that he was in 2010. But like anyone in a long-term relationship can tell you, there are perks to riding out the tough times and hanging in there.

I love writing, and my blog gave me a safe place to do just that. It taught me how to stand up and tell my stories with confidence. It proved to me that writing was my gift, and I should share it with the world.

Keep up the pep talks, Bloggy

One of my old high school English teachers once said to me, “Who do you think you are? Emily Dickinson? Stop putting your work under the bed to gather dust. Show it to the world!”

Okay, so it took me about 3 decades to follow his advice. At times, I’m more like Angie Dickinson than Emily. My blog gave me the courage to talk about my writing, and for that I will forever be grateful. My blog gave me an avenue for expression that I never had before. So here I am again, recommitted (and possibly in need of being committed).

Buckle up, readers. This may be a bumpy ride.

Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas


This recipe is from Chef Katie Workman and the good people at City Meals on Wheels. I remember City Meals on Wheels fondly because they kept my grandmother nourished and cared for in her old age. Plus, Chef Workman says this is a dish that makes people happy, so sign me up.

So, Hungry Lifers: what makes you happy? Do you have any blog post ideas for me? Which recipe is your go-to comfort choice? Please leave a response and let us know.

Thanks for 7 really wonderful years. Bloggy and I will keep plugging away, for better or worse.


April 6, 2016

Happy 6th Anniversary to Me

by Maria Schulz

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my blog and I are celebrating 6 years together.


When I wrote my very first blog, I had the paralyzing fear that my words would be read by NOBODY. Or, even worse yet…EVERYBODY. I wasn’t sure anyone would be the least bit interested in what I had to say, but I hit “publish” anyway. You know what? Nobody didn’t show. Neither did Everybody. But Somebody came regularly.

Once I wrote that first blog post, the words just came tumbling out. I found that it was a thrill writing something that people actually read and commented on. Some comments I could live without, but most comments showed that I was not, in fact, shouting down a big black well. I spoke, and someone heard me. How cool is that?

The Flying Nun

You like me! You really like me!

Over the last six years, I’ve covered a wide range of topics that let me talk about everything from the sweet and sentimental to the serious and zany. These include:

My Book Reading


Extra! Extra! Read all about it

What I Learned in Catholic School


What it takes to live 100+ years

Multiple Choice Tests for Parents

James Garner


What a smile

My grandmother’s house and eggs in a basket 

Must-Read Books


The Dead Celeb Blog

The Trouble With Girls


You’ve got to laugh

My book: Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes

Tales From A Hungry Life A Memoir with Recipes cover

Now available on amazon.com

In some ways, my blog has been like a partner in a long-term relationship. There were the early days, when I just couldn’t wait to see it again. There was a rush whenever I sat down to write, because everything was new and there was so much to learn about each other.

Bloggie and I saw each other as much as we could. Sometimes, I couldn’t wait to post again. There would be two posts in a week! Eight posts in a month! There could never be enough time spent in each other’s company.

couple running towards each other

At last

Now, six years later, things have changed. Oh, I still love my blog…but if I post once every six weeks, that’s okay too. The early rush I had from sitting down and posting something has faded. I think my blog senses it too.

So, now that I’m in my sixth year…and the seven-year-itch is just one anniversary away…I’m rededicating myself to my blog. For awhile, I would post every Wednesday like a religion. But life, work, and sheer exhaustion took over.

student sleeping at desk

Too tired to blog

There have been times that I also wondered if anyone would really care if this blog just stopped showing up. Who needs to know what I think of marriage? Holidays? School tests? Crazy kids? Scary movies? Books? Bike riding? James Garner? (but that’s just silly. Who doesn’t want to hear about James Garner?)



I’m not going to renew my vows with my blog. That would be so Hollywood, and besides, every celebrity couple that does that ends up divorced within a year. No, instead, I’ll make a promise to myself to write more, read more, and build up my blogging relationship again. It’s one that’s made me happy over the years, and I still think it’s worth the effort.

Besides, it’s gotten me in touch with so many wonderful people. Old friends and new friends, people just passing by and others in it for the long haul. I’m grateful to all of you, and hope that my blog and I can keep making your days a little bit more amusing in the years to come.

In the meantime…does anyone have any ideas for what I can write about next week?


7 Days of Super Healthy Dinners


Besides trying to write my blog, create new chapters for Book #2, work a full-time job, exercise, be a parent and spouse, and strive for world peace, I’ve set out to eat better. These 7 meals seem like a good addition to my routine, which is already starting to get old. There are just so many ways you can eat greens before you go stark raving mad and head screaming out the door to White Castle for a sack o’20 murder burgers, a big thick chocolate shake, onion rings, and enough French fries to choke a horse.


You like me! You really like me!

So, Hungry Lifers…what are your suggestions for keeping the passion alive in your hobbies? Do you have any ideas for future blog posts you’d like me to tackle? No, really…any ideas? Please leave a comment and let us all know. My blog and I thank you!

August 19, 2015

Letters From Me…to Me

by Maria Schulz

I wrote these letters in response to a blog post prompt from a site called The Daily Post. Every day, they send out topic ideas to inspire bloggers. This one caught my eye and I thought I could have some fun with it (I hope you do too):

Write a letter to your 14-year-old-self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.

Ready? Here goes.

Take a Letter, Maria

Dear Maria,

Wow. You’re 14 years old! You managed to survive in that boy-filled house that not only had all of your brothers, but all of the boys from your brothers’ bands, poker buddies, neighborhood kids, and some people you didn’t even recognize. These boys ate all of your food, banished you from your own living room, hijacked the television set, and taught you how to box, just so they could punch you in the mouth. Bravo!

Okay! See you next week

You made it!

This September, you will start High School. You’re leaving the safety and security of your tiny elementary school, filled with people you have known and loved for the past 8 years. You’ve known them so long, you can’t imagine NOT knowing them.

These are the people who have taught you how to keep your sense of humor even in the most bizarre situations. Remember that time the altar boy’s hair went up in flames at a funeral? Or the time Maureen, Lillian, Nadine and you threw a dummy dressed like Jesus Christ out the window in a To Tell The Truth skit, and the people downstairs thought a real person jumped out the window? Do you remember the day Sister Meg told you that Hell was expecting you? Somehow, you learned how to unearth comedy gold from it all with those friends by your side.

Let's hang out near St. Robert's

Let’s hang out near St. Robert’s

I know you can’t imagine this now, but here’s the thing: you are going to LOVE high school! You will meet people from all different backgrounds. It’s not scary at all—it’s the coolest thing ever! You’ll make friends who come from down the block or around the world, have different skin colors, speak different languages, and practice completely different religions. No, everyone is not Catholic! You are going to laugh a lot, and unearth comedy gold with these people too.

Lots and lots of people

Lots and lots of people

Guess what? Some people will have crushes on you. No, you are not the most unpopular person on the planet. No, you do not have to stay home singing “At 17” by Janis Ian every Saturday night, wondering how you’ll survive the pain of Valentines that never came.

You will meet many teachers that give their blood, sweat, and tears for you every single day. Sure, some of them will be lemons. But the majority of them will be working hard and rooting for you. One of them will eventually become your cheerleader, friend, and mentor. He’ll introduce you to his wife and kids, and make you believe in yourself. There could never be enough time with him. He’s the one who will make you want to write.


Just remember: high school seems like it takes forever, but it goes by in a flash. Keep smiling, and even when the boy you adore asks someone else out, know that there is someone AWESOME ahead. (I promise).

Look around you and enjoy your family. Soon, your brothers will move away, get married, or chase their dreams across the country. Your grandparents and parents will get older and need help like never before. You’ll have the best nieces and nephews! You’ll even get married and have children of your own.


But right now, these people from this time in your life are all around you. Try to savor every minute. Make sure you kiss your mother and father. Listen to your grandmothers’, aunts’, and uncles’ stories.

Life is beautiful, even for us Queens girls who are non-Beauty Queens.

XO, Older You

20 Years later….

Dear Maria,

Oh my gosh—are you really 20 years older? Geez, you’re old. LOL. Does anyone use LOL anymore? Probably not.



How did you ever make it this far? I can’t believe the yodels and Pac Man cakes haven’t killed you yet. Did you ever get the hang of public speaking, or are you as bad at it now as you were 20 years ago? Did you ever finish your 2nd book? Are you retired, or do you have to work until you’re 100?

If my Dad is following in his mother’s footsteps, he has just celebrated his 101st birthday. Did he ever get his Joe Pesci moment? Is he finally a star?

Millions and billions of stars

Millions and billions of stars

Are my husband and I able to spend our winters in Key West and our summers in Newport? I’m hoping that we hit the lottery over the past 20 years, because I like the beach and I want to eat steak and not cat food in my old age.

Are my girls happy? How many grandchildren do we have? Do my sons-in-law love me, or do they want to give me boxing lessons?

Better start working out

Better start working out

Did Tales From a Hungry Life: The Musical ever take Broadway by storm? Is my father starring as himself? Did Cyndy Lauper co-write the songs with the newly reunited New York’s Unemployed? Who stars as me? My brothers? My family? Sister Clara?

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

Did you just celebrate your 25th year blogging?

Wherever life has taken you, look around and enjoy your family and friends. I’m sure they are still supporting you and making you laugh even now.

Peace out girl scout,



Snack Cake Heaven

Snack cakes!

Snack cakes!

Whether it’s 1980 or 2035, a piece of cake in your lunchbox is a thing of beauty. Here are recipes for 10 homemade Ho-Hos (Yodels, for the snack cake novice), Twinkees, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Suzie Q’s, and more.

So, Hungry Lifers: what would you write to yourself as a 14 year old? What would you say to yourself 20 years in the future? What’s your favorite snack cake? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

April 8, 2015

Happy 5th Anniversary to Me

by Maria Schulz

Five years ago this April, I hit “publish” on my very first blog post. This was no small feat, since I had always been afraid to share my writing with the world at large. My high school English teachers were the first to point out that I had a knack for writing, but I didn’t always believe them. I ranked it right up there with my mother telling me I was beautiful. Who believes that?

My dad, uncle, and their friends from "the Hill," Queensborough Hill.

A photo from my very first post. My dad, uncle, and their friends from “the Hill,” Queensborough Hill.


Mr. Reines once told me: “Maria, you’re a writer! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Mr. Brodsky was a bit more blunt:  “Damn it, Maria, you’re not Emily Dickinson. Stop putting your stuff under the bed. Get it out there!” It only took me a few decades to follow his advice, but I’m glad I finally did.

I’ll admit it, there have been times when the old fear creeps in and I feel paralyzed. What if no one likes it? What if no one (gasp) laughs? What if I send this blog post out there, and absolutely NOTHING HAPPENS? What if I expose myself as a MORON? What if no one buys my book? Will I be able to keep my sense of humor about it? Here are my answers to those burning and idiotic personal questions:

How long before I'm on the cover with you?

How long before I’m on the cover with you?

1. No one may like my blog post, but I’m probably sitting here laughing as I write it, so at least it helped bring down my blood pressure for a few minutes

2. Again, someone laughed–me! The rest is gravy

Maybe Super Grover could hold my book

Maybe Super Grover could hold my book

3. What exactly do I think is going to happen? I haven’t gotten my 5 minutes with Oprah yet (except in my imagination) and the Tales From A Hungry Life balloon hasn’t gone live at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade either, but I’ve gotten lots of fun comments from people that are always hilarious and inspiring. So it’s all good.

4. I’m a writer. It would be moronic NOT to have opinions, ideas, or thoughts that I wanted to share. Yes, people have sent me mean comments and said my writing made them want to drink. Those words stung…but then I realized, maybe those comments were more about them then they were about me.

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

5. My book has been more successful than I had ever imagined, and I have my “platform” to thank for that. Platform is the word writers use to describe their social media presence. It reminds me of when I was in London some years ago and crazy people stood up on platforms and shouted out their ideas on a whole range of subjects in the public square. Yes, that describes my blog pretty well.

6. My sense of humor is still intact, thank you. It’s kind of like a very good friend that I keep by my side to cheer me on when I’m afraid that I can’t continue. It’s also nourished by my real (and not imaginary) friends who drop off gifts of crumb cake after I’ve posted something (Yes, Paula, I mean you).

I never thought I would still be blogging 5 years later. It’s not that I didn’t have something to say…it’s just that I wasn’t sure anyone would respond. For once, I’m happy to be wrong about something. This blog has been the place that I could write about things that meant something to me, and discover that I was not alone.

This cover still cracks me up

This cover still cracks me up


This is the place where I can write about the past–beloved pets, teachers, friends, and family. I can share the hilarious stories about my brothers (who are the best comedians I’ve ever known) and my well-meaning but very human parents. I could write about celebrities that I admired and those that passed on–Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, and of course, James Garner.  I could also write about the present: movies I love, life as a Mom, PTA shenanigans, growing pains with my kids, love and laughter with my husband.

Always a great escape

Always a great escape

Over the past 5 years, I have experienced a kind of creative freedom that you can’t get just anywhere. When I post, I’m the boss: what I say goes. Of course, that doesn’t stop my boss from sometimes being critical and editing everything I do (what can I say, I’m a pain), but it’s made me a more committed and dedicated writer. I completed my first book, wrote a short story that was included in another book, and have started on my second book, and all of it happened because this blog gave me the confidence to work towards those dreams.

My story is in this book!

My story is in this book!

I’ve nurtured my blog through the early days when I wasn’t sure what I was doing and I’ve grown in confidence. If my blog was a child, it would be ready to go off to Kindergarten right about now. There are lots of fun days ahead. I’ll try to enjoy them, because the teen years are right around the corner.

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and shares my blog. I’m looking forward to the next five years and all of the new challenges and adventures that blogging will bring. As my niece Katie says, “this is going to be fun!”

As for you, Mr. Brodsky: I still have plenty of stuff piled under that bed. Thanks for encouraging me to share it with the world.


buttery crumb cake

Crumb Cake

This recipe is outrageously buttery, but that’s what makes it good. Imagine my delight when my pal, Paula, dropped off a hunk of crumb cake for me one morning after she read that week’s blog post. If this is what fan mail is all about, I’m in.

100 Healthy Dessert Ideas

For those of you who need to satisfy your sweet tooth but want to go light, here are 100 healthy ideas from Cooking Light. These good-for-you treats include bourbon-glazed peaches with yogurt, blackberry merlot granita, carrot cake, and many more delicious options.

So, Hungry Lifers: have you ever done something outside of your comfort zone? Did it take you several decades to do it? What’s your favorite dessert recipe–either so bad it’s good or tastes great/good for you too? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

April 9, 2014

Let’s Eat, Part V

by Maria Schulz

I just got a virtual “toast” from WordPress.com to congratulate me on my blogging anniversary. Yes, that’s right—I’ve been blogging for 4 years! After all this time, what have I learned? Let’s see: I will never run out of things to say, maybe people will even care, and so what if someone doesn’t like it—4 out of 5 dentists recommend sugar free gum, and 4 out of 5 people will probably get a kick out of my blog. You can’t please everyone.

So what’s my favorite part of posting? It has to be the funny, thoughtful comments that people leave. Here are my favorite posts and comments from the past year.

My Book Is Published

Sure, I said I’d publish my book about a million times before it happened, but hey—I did it after all! My book, Tales From A Hungry Life: A Memoir With Recipes, hit the virtual shelves last December, and the response from my readers was overwhelming. This blog gave me the reach and platform I needed to help make that dream come true, so thank you. Look for the Print edition  coming soon.

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

“Congrats Maria! Will d/l when I get a chance. Can’t wait for the movie next! :)”

Comment by George

Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

Ancient Advertising Secrets

Where’s the Beef? Ancient Chinese Secret. Calgon, Take Me Away! These are all anthems to my youth, an innocent time when “Ring Around The Collar” and buying “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” were the biggest issues in my life.

“I still think one of the most memorable was the Staples back to school ad when the father is skipping down the aisle with the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” playing and the kids come trailing up behind looking miserable.


Loved the ones you had in your article–trip down memory lane!”

Comment by Deborah Hehn Derby

Summer Vacation

Who knew that our one and only family trip, taken in our sweltering Buick Station Wagon, would finally be good for a laugh? Yes, being stuck in a car for hours on end with 9 other people can have its advantages, especially when you get a blog post out of it and 26 comments.

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

“That trip has scarred your family for life. It is so hard to get the men in the family to do anything. I guess they have post traumatic stress disorder and are fearful to make any vacation plans. I’ve heard this story several times but not with so much detail. I think you captured it beautifully. Here’s to making more joyful and memorable vacations! It’s up to your family to right the wrongs of the past!”

Comment by Kathleen Lagalante

Actually, I think it’s up to the in-laws (especially if you want to go anywhere).
Comment by talesfromahungrylife

But we all remember our times at home and the Bronx Zoo, the rides in our car to Bayville. Joey throwing up in the car and it turning our stomachs as we drove home in the heat and smell. Great times!!!
Comment by Bglou

Yeah, that was some inconvenience . I mean stuffing 7 kids, two or three adults in a sweaty ’71 Buick station wagon with no air conditioner or power windows I had some nerve puking. You were lucky none of us died of heat exhaustion.
 Comment by Joe

And that wasn’t the time I was referring to. But I did keep the windows open so the hot air could waft through my hair. And don’t ask, “What Hair?”!!!
Comment by BgLou

Yeah, Joey. That was pretty thoughtless of you.
Comment by talesfromahungrylife

11 Cool Summer Movies

The summer days of my youth included no air conditioning and lots of trips to the movies. “Help me, Obi Wan. You’re my only hope!” aren’t just words uttered in the Star Wars series that my children consider “boring” and filled with “terrible” special effects. They are a mantra for life! And of course, who can ever forget the line from Jaws: “We’re going to need a bigger boat…”

Still great.

Still great.

“We only had an air conditioner in the den and one in my parents bedroom. My mother always used to yell if someone left the den door all the way open. We had to leave it open a little bit just in case the phone rang. If not she would yell,”didn’t you girls hear the phone ring! I was standing outside Waldbaums in this heat calling over and over again!” Oops this is not about mothers yelling, maybe next Wednesday. I remember one hot night sleeping over my cousins and being told that baby powder cools you off when you are trying to sleep. By the way, it doesn’t. It just takes forever to come out of your hair.
Okay an Officer and a Gentleman was my favorite back then and of course Grease. Saw them both about 11 times. I think I just always wanted to be thin enough for a sailor to carry me and wouldn’t it be great to wear spandex pants while he was doing it.

But the top of my list will always be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Can’t wait for next Wednesday!”

Comment by Suzanne Tavel

Welcome to the New School Year

How many ways can I get Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, the VMAs and Blurred Lines into a Standardized Test? Read it and see.

Pure poetry

Pure poetry

“Reading this blog brought back memories from hell regarding my older daughter’s twelve years of school. She was always last minute Lil and made it her parents fault for not being prepared. When all else failed she yelled, but I’m a kid and it’s your responsibility to make me do it. Now that she is 25 and in Graduate school she doesn’t say the same words but does blame everyone else for her lack of preparation. Thank God I have a thick skin!”

Comment by Tony Lagalante

How long before I'm on the cover with you?

How long before I’m on the cover with you?

Author? Yes, Author

To discuss my book in greater detail, I had Oprah “interview” me. It wasn’t as shocking as her interview with Lance Armstrong, but it was pretty good.

“What do you mean you’re not a marketer? Oprah just interviewed you. It doesn’t get bigger than that!”

Comment by lisasafran

This is gonna be fun

This is gonna be fun

Welcome to Catholic Schools Week

Ah, Catholic Schools Week. The activities! The fun! The shared moments! I’d love to go back in time and plan the events for my own Catholic School Week. Did you ever try Nun Pinata or Pin the Tail on the Monsignor? Read on…

“OMG! I had to slap my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing too loud here at work!”

Comment by wordimprovisor177 

Great movie

Great movie

My Fan Letter to James Garner

The Rockford Files, The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff. How could you not love James Garner?

“Another reason why we’re friends…love, love, love James Garner.”

Comment by doreenmoran




Here are some champagne recipes to help you celebrate your next big event:


This one sounds good to me:


So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite post of mine from the last year? What would you like to have me write about this year? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

April 14, 2012

Let’s Eat, Part 3

by Maria Schulz

Two years ago, I started this blogging adventure. I didn’t know what to expect, and I hemmed and hawed before starting. What if nobody read it? What if no one cared?

I grew up in a home with six boys who were all so funny that every night was like a Night at the Improv. When you sat around the table with my brothers, you laughed so hard your sides ached.

My father, grandmother and uncles were also so outgoing that the idea of someone not being interested in what they were saying seemed absolutely alien to them. No matter what story they told, you were laughing by the time they were done.

My Uncle Sal was the first “star” of the family, with steady gigs in Vaudeville under the name of Bobby Dell. He had an album of his comedy routines called “If I Insulted You, It Was Intentional.” When I showed it to my older daughter, she said, “Yep, he’s related to you.” Uncle Sal, or “Bobby Dell” as he was known in the business, used to rub shoulders with the likes of Lana Turner, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Gleason and Jimmy Durante, and he held his own.

My grandmother, Lena, was the president of her Senior Citizen’s group and the first person to jump up on stage to do the chicken dance. In the early days of television, she went to every game show and sometimes got chosen to play. She never hit it big but would always say, “I’m a millionaire without a million.” That phrase used to annoy me, but I’d love to hear her say it now.

My Uncle Don used to get himself into the most ridiculous scrapes and the only thing funnier about his predicaments was the story he came away with. There was the day he went for a drive on the North Shore of Long Island and stopped to move some traffic cones…without putting the car in park. As the car came barreling towards him, he had to decide whether or not to save the large cup of coffee he was clutching or himself. He decided he couldn’t live without his coffee.

Uncle Don, laughing

The result was Uncle Don on my doorstep, covered in gravel, tire marks and coffee stains from head to toe. Yes, I know that sounds terrible, but the way my Uncle told it, it was a hilarious adventure not to be missed.

My father had a sense of humor that was only rivaled by his volcano-like temper. He could be laughing hysterically one minute and then so angry with my brothers or me that he could hardly see straight.

My father’s rages were usually brought on by Chris doing something like dropping his fork on the floor, Jude hiding another dog in the garage, Tony coming home five minutes past curfew, Louie putting his trumpet back in the case the wrong way, Joey playing with the matches, my inability to score a 300 on my first bowling game ever, or Paul screaming because he stepped on a thumb tack. I can still hear my father screaming: “why weren’t you wearing shoes?”

Then of course, there was my mother. My mother was able to glide through all of the pandemonium with a Zen-like calm. Of course, she also had extremely high blood pressure and sometimes blew her stack in epic proportions. I remember the time she got so angry with Jude that she channeled her inner Mighty Hulk and lifted her eldest teenager—who was already about 8 inches taller than her—over her head and threw him across the room.

Still, there was nothing better than seeing my entire family around the table on holidays. Everybody was talking, and laughing, and of course, eating. My mother cooked for days and my grandmother brought goodies like peanut butter cookies, ice cream sandwiches and Italian pastries. When I was very little, she would bake an incredible sponge cake with sliced peaches, or homemade apple and lemon meringue pies.

So good.

I am lucky to still have my father and brothers in my life. Unfortunately, my mother, grandparents and uncles have all gone on to that holiday Improv in the sky.

Whenever I would tell these stories to people, they would say, “you should write a book.” Of course, it’s hard to sell books when you only have 2 people interested in the stories. That’s when an editor friend of mine suggested that I start blogging. I didn’t know too much about blogging, but I knew that it frightened me. You mean other people would be reading what I wrote? WHAT?

My high school English teacher, Richard Brodsky, once told me “who do you think you are? Emily Dickinson? Just get your work out there!”

So with those words ringing in my ears, I jumped in. I was pretty sure that the only people who would read this blog and laugh were my father and me. But I did it anyway, and I haven’t regretted it.

Here’s what I’ve learned from blogging:

  • 8 out of 10 people are kind and supportive and enjoy a good laugh. The scary English Teachers of Classrooms Past don’t seem to read my blog.
  • The 9th person doesn’t really care, they just want to spam me and get people to take their Swiffer coupons.
  • The 10th person really does hate my writing and everything about my blog. They sometimes leave a nasty comment and depart, never to return again.  So then we both win!
  • Reliving the most amusing moments in my life is fun. The fact that I come out looking pretty ridiculous most of the time makes me laugh, so the good news is I don’t take myself as seriously as I once did.
  • It’s actually a rush when people “like” my blog or leave a comment. I’m closing in on 20,000 views worldwide, which is huge for me. Maybe they stop by my blog by accident or just to poach an image, but 2 years ago, only about 5 people had ever read my writing, so that’s pretty cool.
  • I have followers that I’m not even related to. I’m thrilled to have the support of my family and friends and I love that they actually read my stuff. But I’m really amazed when total strangers do it…and keep coming back.
  • My mother, grandparents, and uncles are alive for me, at least for a little while, when I tell stories about them. I remember them the way I hope I’m remembered some day: as funny, vibrant, and full of life. Plus, I can hear their laughter every time they “star” in one of the old stories.

Here are my favorite blog posts from my 2nd year in blogging:

The 25 Things I Wish I Knew Back in Catholic School

No wonder Jeannie loved him

Sister Margaret, candy bar fund drives, Speech class, Dallas and ‘I Shot JR’ tee shirts. Here were all the things that delighted and tortured me when I was a kid. I wish I’d known then what I know now, but then I would’ve missed out on some pretty great material.

The Best “Worst” Movies

Beware of false walls

My best worst movies included Bad Ronald, Trilogy of Terror, Polyester, and Carrie. All of these movies shaped my twisted worldview in ways I can’t even begin to describe. It wasn’t until I watched Bad Ronald as an adult (with my pal Lisa right by my side) that I realized how completely inappropriate this movie was for 8-year-old me. The fact that my brother Tony was laughing hysterically through most of it is probably one of the reasons I can see humor in the worst situations even today.

Easter Treats

Any story that features shopping with my mom and grandmother down Main Street is going to bring on a bigger adrenaline rush

My mother's pride and joy

than a gallon of Coke could. Giving up cake for Lent and fearing for my life on the other end of Sister Anne Kathleen’s yardstick also makes me feel something, but I’ve managed to forgive her even though I wanted to ram that yardstick through her skull. Talking about my Mom’s 8th and favorite child, her bunny cake, also made me laugh. I can’t find any photos of me between the ages of 7 and 10, but I have a framed copy of my Bunny Bro.

Summer Games

Is it me, or is it hot in here?

Running bases. Kickball. Bike riding. Roller-skating. Overcrowded refrigerator boxes. The hot, sticky summer days of my childhood were a full contact sport. Whether I was bike riding straight into a lamppost or running for my life during Ghosts in the Graveyard, I was very lucky to have brothers and friends who were always up for some fun. What was even more surprising is that I actually survived.

School Days

My older daughter’s entry into high school helped me relive all the terrors and thrills of my own freshman year. From the pervy art teacher to the soul-crushing photographer on Career Day, to the Lord of the Flies-like atmosphere in the girls’ locker room, high school was terrifying. In some ways, it was like learning a new language while in a foreign country. But it was still pretty wonderful, and some of those classmates and teachers are lifelong friends who even read my blog today. Eventually I became a native, but I still don’t know why they put me in that mechanical drawing class.

Halloween Candy and a Movie

The Exorcist and The Omen still terrify the little Catholic schoolgirl in me. The good news is, I don’t subject myself to horror/slasher movies anymore. I married a man who saw me pass out at Dancing with Wolves (Kevin Costner got shot in the foot and it made a sickening blood soaked noise when he tried to slip his boot on in the beginning of the movie, and I passed right out…).

Oh sorry for the pause, I think I passed out there. Anyway, what I was going to say was that my husband and I decided to avoid all scary movies (and Westerns too).

Not nearly as scary as my Dad

I still get mad when I think of my stomped-on white Reeboks and that terrible movie, Vamp. But nothing makes me laugh more than the vision of my father standing in my doorway, screaming at me: “If you wake me up again, you can forget about Freddie Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street killing you, because I will!” Good times!

Christmas Wrapping

Did you know that there are 22 ways to get around Wrapping-Induced Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (WIPTSS)? This post was the result of looking at a room full of unwrapped gifts and having a minor nervous breakdown. After some soul searching, some self-imposed psychoanalysis that involved remembering my childhood, my mother, and the annual dining room table filled with unwrapped gifts, I had a breakthrough. I would use gift bags! I wouldn’t care if the seams didn’t match! I would write a blog post to help others like me!!! P.S. I still can’t find those scissors.

Indoor Sports

My younger daughter provided the inspiration for this one when she had to write her paper titled, “Why Dodge Ball is a

My classmate, "Two"

Worthwhile Sport.” I immediately flashed back to Catholic school gym class and my ability to “disappear” into any nearby closet with a block of cheese. I was like an oversized mouse with a fear of being decapitated by George, my classmate with a deadly aim and a fondness for hitting me during Dodge Ball. Next, I flashed back to high school, where my old classmate, Two, almost kicked my toe off while we did soccer drills. I have often wondered what I was going to do with all of these tortured adolescent memories, and now I know. Blog posts!!!

Valentines & Vampires

The allure of The Twilight series on hopeless romantics everywhere makes me chuckle. I don’t find vampires or werewolves terribly romantic, but maybe that’s because I don’t want a man who one day might view me as a midnight snack.

The Volturi family council in Rome sure was scary and intimidating, but try coming home past curfew in my family and getting past the Lagalante council. It consisted of my father, standing next to the front door in a fit of rage, in his patented “pounce and strangle” pose.

What a sense of humor!

My advice for Bella (and all those Twi-teens, Twi-tweens and Twi-Moms out there) still sounds solid to me. Why not fall for someone full of comic potential, like the Invisible Man? Or, if you’re interested in meeting someone who might confuse and challenge you, try dating a real human. They are also full of surprises. Sure, they don’t glitter and they can’t make you immortal. But on the up side, they actually exist.

Thank You, Davy Jones

Oh, Davy. Leap year was supposed to give me an extra day to have fun and laugh, sort of like a freebie, filled with happy memories. Instead, it was the day that I learned that Davy Jones died suddenly of a heart attack at the way-too-young-age of 66.

Davy Jones and The Monkees are inextricably entwined with my childhood. My brothers and I watched the TV show together, sang along to the songs and laughed at the crazy plots. Just last year, my brothers Jude, Joey, and Chris, my nephew Tom and friend Steve went to see Davy, Mickey and Peter in concert. We laughed all night and sang along to the songs.

I’m glad I got to see Davy Jones one last time. Whenever I hear Daydream Believer, I’ll think of him and smile.

So, these are the blog posts that I enjoyed writing this year, and I hope you enjoyed reading them. Please let me know if you’d like to nominate your own “favorite” from the posts I wrote this year. You can nominate this one if you like, but I have a feeling you’ll be in the minority. And if I agree with your nomination, I will give you an amazing prize.

Amazing prizes!

Last year’s gift was a Jimmy “JJ” Walker button that said “Dyn-o-MITE!” This year’s prize is a tee-shirt suggested by my cousin Tommy after reading my “Thank You, Davy Jones” blog post. It says “Marcia over Maria…NEVER!” Just think of all the head scratching and comments you’ll get.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of my blog last year, I tried to “cast” the characters from my family in the future movie. I think the comments were almost as funny as the blog post itself. I called for suggestions on who would play my brother Tony, and in the comments section, I suggested Matthew Broderick or Danny Masterson from That 70s Show.

My sister-in-law Kathie suggested character actor George Wyner to play my brother Tony, while my daughter suggested Leonardo DiCaprio. Tony suggested Tom Selleck. You have got to love people’s unique points of view!

One old friend went so far as to suggest Alex Meneses (Robbie’s old girl friend on Everybody Loves Raymond) to play me. All I can say is, it has been a really long time.

No one suggested who could play my grandmother, so I’m going to go with Olympia Dukakis. I liked her in Moonstruck a lot. The jury is still out on who gets to play my Uncle Sal or my Uncle Don. Anybody have a suggestion?

Anyway, while I get Hollywood all excited about buying the rights to my blockbuster movie, I was thinking we could jump start it with a Broadway show. It will be called: “Lagalante: THE MUSICAL!”

The first act will open with my mother, played by Patti Lupone, standing in a kitchen that resembles a large closet and surrounded by simmering pots and pans, singing a song with lyrics that go something like this: “I have to cook for 30 people/No one ever helps/Jude/Stop teasing my beloved Tony/or I will have to throw you across the room.”

Sing it, Mom!

Eventually, my father will come traipsing in, wearing nothing but a wife beater’s tee-shirt, blue jeans and black socks. My father will not play himself on the stage if Brian Dennehey or Phillip Bosco are available. He will start singing: “Who drank all the milk/why don’t I have any clean socks/who dropped the forks on the floor/why is there another dog in the garage/why do children make so much noise?”

Nanny, played by Olympia Dukakis (who is also wonderful on stage) will come in, singing: “This house looks so clean/what a lovely surprise/I was just wondering/ how did you get the doggie smell out?/kids, stop asking for food/The kitchen is closed.”

Rosie O’Donnell, playing Sister Clara, will come into the kitchen singing, “Can you send your 7 kids over/to clean the convent and mow the church lawn/I promise not to tell them they’re going to hell/but I may have to box their ears.”

Making his Broadway debut

When Chris, played by John Cusak (also in the movie version) comes onstage, he will exclaim, “Nanny, look how the dogs stay on the landing/right where you told them and not a step further/Dad, I swear, it wasn’t me who dropped the forks/Who the heck let Sister Clara in here?”

All of this will happen while the orchestra plays the score that features the theme to Barney Miller, followed by Purple Haze, School’s Out for Summer, and the New York’s Unemployed original song, Abusement Park.

Okay, so maybe I have some work to do on the lyrics, but other than that, I think the musical idea has legs!

Speaking of legs, my book is almost complete and should be ready in the coming months. Don’t worry, I will make sure you all know about it when it’s finally published!


Peaches and Cream Cake

It's magic!


1 yellow cake, boxed or from scratch

Whipped cream (from scratch or use cool whip)

2 cans sliced peaches

Vanilla icing

I remember seeing my grandmother and cousins Mary and Eleanor assembling this cake back in Nanny’s big pink kitchen in Port Washington. I thought they had magic hands when it came to baking.

Luckily, this cake is easy to make, so you can create your own magic with minimal fuss. Just use your favorite cake recipe (either from scratch or from a box, I’m not choosy). You can do this as a sheet cake or in two round 8” pans. When the cake is cooled, put a layer of whipped cream and peaches in the middle. Do this for each layer. Then ice the cake with your vanilla frosting. Yum!

So Hungry Lifers…let me know what you think. Leave a comment about your favorite blog post, best memory evoked, favorite recipe or cast member suggestion. I love hearing from you! Thanks for reading!