Category Archives: grandma


I had promised to write about my grandma, but it’s obviously taken me a while to do that. How do I put into words the simple beauty of this sweet little lady?

Nataline “Nora” Saraceni was born, Nataline Chicklo on June 15, 1914 in Pennsylvania. Her mother and father, my great grandparents, were Italian immigrants. When “Nora” was 15 years old, her mother died. She was taken out of school and brought home to help care for her father and 6 brothers and sisters. I remember her telling me she was only educated through about the 8th grade. Her simple life of giving and serving others started at such a young age. As far as I’m concerned…it didn’t end until the day she died.

My memories of her…so many…too many to write about. The earliest ones are sweet and simple. She was beautiful. I have a photo of her that was taken when she was about 18 or 19 years old. She’s wearing a summer type short outfit, and let me tell you…she had great legs. Even in her 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, the women had great legs.


Whenever I’d give her a hug and a kiss, she smelled of Emeraude cologne and Oil Of Olay. I was priveleged to grow up with my grandparents living close by. My sister and I would frequently spend weekends at Grandmas house.


To me, Grandmas house always smelled like pasta and coffee. We would sleep on clean, crisp cotton sheets and wake to Cream of Wheat and butterd Roman Meal toast for breakfast. I loved listening to my grandma talking on their one, black, rotary dial telephone at the end of the hallway. She use to play checkers with us, taught us to play Black Jack, and a game she called “Piggy” that I swear she made up just to keep us busy.

She used to cut my hair with a razor. Boy did that hurt…not to mention looked terrible. I have many childhood pictures of me with “Grandma haircuts”.


She loved garage sales, and would have them herself quite frequently. I attribute this to her being a product of the Depression Era. She saved absolutely everything. If she found some value in what she was saving, she would carefully wrap it in tissue paper and place it in a plastic bag. After her death we found many things in plastic bags. A few years ago she blessed me with a wonderful gift. Her wedding dress. It’s a beautiful, off white, 1930’s style dress. It was much too small for anyone to ever wear again. My grandma was a tiny little thing. When she gave it to me, it was wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a plastic bag…and just as lovely as ever.

She worked in her garden, and washed down her front driveway with the hose all the time. She loved to keep up “apperances”, even in their tiny, 1950’s crackerbox house in Santa Ana.

Memory: Food

Oh my…so many of my Grandma memories include food.

Summertime meant weekends at Grandmas house. She’d make us K-Mart ham sandwiches on buttered hamburger buns. We’d take them along with potato chips to Balboa Beach for a picnic in the sun. My Grandpap would fish off the Balboa pier.

I have to say that Nora was an amazing Italian cook. I’m sure her culinary perfections were handed down from generations past. I always knew what to ask Grandma to cook for a birthday dinner. Potato Gnocchi of course. She made the best. It was a family affair with all of us at the table to “dig out” the little dumplings.

She also made the best meatballs I’ve ever had in my entire life. I asked her for her recipe once. Yet when I’ve made them, they taste nothing like hers.

She was also know for her Pizzells. Lacy Italian cookies with a hint of orange zest, sprinkled with powdered sugar. I’ve purchased a Pizzell iron, and I use her recipe, yet once again…nothing compared to hers.

Everything was a cooking lesson with Grandma. She liked to call my sisters and I into the kitchen while she was cooking to see if we wanted to help. I seemed to like this less and less as I entered my teen years. She would call us in to give us a lesson in the “proper” way to dish up Jello. Or, instruction on how to chop up a Zuccini. Being a teenager, her particular attention to the proper things in life frustrated me, and I would turn down her requests to join her in the kitchen. How I would give anything to go back there and spend more of that priceless cooking lesson time with her. I sure could use it now.

My mother and sisters and I were looking through my grandma’s things after her death. We came across a collection of handwritten recipes that she had tucked away. Some of them on scraps of old, yellowed paper…definitely in her own hand writing. A pinch of this…a dash of that. What a treasure for us to find.

The other day I asked my mom to tell me about the various jobs my grandma had worked in her lifetime. A glass factory in Pennsylvania. A coat factory in California. A heart valve manufacturer, as well as a business that delivered food to the military PX.

But the one job she worked that I have a vivid memory of, was when she sold Sarah Coventry jewlery. Now, for those of you who don’t remember this, back in the day, Sarah Coventry jewlery was “da bomb” of costume jewlery. All the soap opera stars wore it. Now my grandma could sell iceboxes to Eskimos and Arugula to hungry wolves.(hello…garage sales) Therefore, she was one of the top Sarah Coventry sellers in the state…maybe even in the nation. I was the proud owner of much of this jewlery as I was growing up. We always got it for birthdays and Christmas. I’m happy to say I now own a few more pieces. I’ll keep them forever.

There is so much more I could write. So many memories. I know why it’s taken me so long to write about my grandma Nora. It’s just hard. I miss her so much. I know I’ll see her again, but I miss her now.

Who knows…maybe I’ll post a treasured recipe.

Nataline “Nora” Saraceni 1914 – 2008



Filed under FaMiLy, food, grandma, Italian

Catching Up

Or at least I’m trying to catch up.

We’ve had a tough couple of weeks in our family. My 93 year old grandmother went to be with Jesus two Sundays ago. No matter how much you think you might be ready for something like this, you never are. She was my last living Grandparent, and an absolutely amazing little lady. Nataline “Nora” Saraceni deserves to have some things written about her. So, my plan is to do that, here in a post, as soon as I can get it together. She took a piece of my heart with her. She will be missed.

I just finished up the book of Romans in my devotions this morning. What an awesome book. God speaks to me new and afresh every time I read it.

This particular time, chapter 12 stood out to me a little different. Let me explain. One of the ways I learn is through writing. I like to take notes. I love to write out my thoughts. Putting things down on paper gives substance to them. It makes it so the myriad of thoughts in my head are not just in my head. So, I decided to list out what Paul says in verses 3-21 of chapter 12. He’s talking about the Christians responsibility toward God. I love this because it’s so simple in his words. Listing it out brought it even more to life for me.

He starts the chapter by saying,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

And now for the list…I title it, My Responsibility

1. Don’t think more highly of myself than I ought to think – verse 3

2. Think soberly of myself – verse 3

3. Use my gifts as God has given them to me – verse 6-8

4. Love without hypocrisy – verse 9

5. Abhor evil – verse 9

6. Cling to what is good – verse 9

7. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love – verse 10

8. Honor one another and give preference to one another – verse 10

9. Don’t lag in diligence – verse 11

10. Be fervent in the Spirit – verse 11

11. Serve the Lord – verse 11

12. Rejoice in hope – verse 12

13. Be patient in tribulation – verse 12

14. Continue steadfast in prayer – verse 12

13. Give to the needs of the saints – verse 13

14. Be hospitable – verse 13

15. Bless those who persecute you – verse 14

16. Bless and do not curse – verse 14

17. Rejoice with those who rejoice – verse 15

18. Weep with those who weep – verse 15

19. Be of the same mine toward one another – verse 16

20. Don’t set my mind on high things – verse 16

21. Associate with the humble – verse 16

22. Don’t be wise in my own eyes – verse 16

23. Don’t repay evil for evil – verse 17

24. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men – verse 17

25. If at all possible, as much as I can, live peaceably with all men – verse 18

26. Don’t avenge myself (God will take care of it) – verse 19

27. Don’t overcome evil with evil – verse 21

28. Overcome evil with good – verse 21

I replaced the yous and yours with I’s and mines and wow, it all came to life.

Well, just wanted to share that. Hope it blesses someone today.

I’ll leave you with another beautiful picture taken up where we meet for church at the Rio Lindo Academy. Rachel took this one. The colors are breathtaking. Yet another beautiful season..Winter.


Filed under grandma, responsibility, Romans