August Publisher’s Note: Ciao Pittsburgh Continues to Grow & Expand

456582_10151186410754343_1240591045_oCiao Pittsburgh famiglia,

I hope all is well with each and every one of you, your family, and friends. I haven’t written a Publisher’s Note in awhile because it has been a very busy year for me.  I know I mentioned a few of these things in my last Publisher’s Note, but since then my oldest daughter made her confirmation, my son made his first Holy Communion, and my youngest is just  about to start preschool.

As promised at the end of last year, my goal for this year was to make Ciao Pittsburgh better than last year. Like I said before and will emphasize again, I compete with no one except myself. I wondered how can I outdo myself this year. Last year, we launched Ciao Pittsburgh’s La Famiglia espresso blend. It went over well; everyone who sampled the blend liked it and supported it.

This year, I feel that we grew tremendously. Dan and I added Jeff Fanala, Nicky Cooks, and my brother, Jay, formally onto our team. We are partnering with the Heinz History Center, along with Nicky, and holding a cooking class. We have also worked with these wonderful companies and individuals:

  • Birra Moretti
  • Salted Pig
  • Domenica Merante
  • New York New York
  • Allegheny Smoke Works
  • The Cigar House
  • Giada Valenti
  • Rana Pasta
  • Westmorland Columbus 500

We launched Ciao Pittsburgh’s Aroma and salt free Aroma as well as our newest addition, Ciao Pittsburgh’s Aroma Piccante and salt free Piccante.  We have had an overwhelming response with people purchasing our special seasoning blend.

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January Publisher’s Note: Happy New Year!

456582_10151186410754343_1240591045_o-1Happy New Year everyone!

I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for all the support Ciao Pittsburgh has been getting since the day we launched our new venture. I want to thank my family, friends, our readers, and all of our Facebook followers. Thanks for sharing our stories, posting comments, reading the site, and following us on social media.

Over the past year, I met many wonderful people through Ciao Pittsburgh. It opened some doors for new things for our online magazine. I have a great team and folks who are willing to help me grow this passion of mine. I can’t ask for anything more. It’s truly appreciated. I would also like to give a special thanks to everyone who became a part of our stories online, whether it was writing guest posts, being featured in a profile, or sharing a favorite recipe or family photos of your favorite Italian traditions. Last, but not least, thank you to all of our advertisers, including Birra Moretti, Nicky D. Cooks, and Allegheny Smoke Works.

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December Publisher’s Note: Christmas is Almost Here!

402543_343949075619208_1130346023_nWhat I love about the season is the music and the joy of everyone.  I also like the fact that for almost a month it looks all Italian with all the green, white and red colors from table cloths to decorations!

Over the years, people seem to have forgotten what Christmas is all about. Everyone expects to receive gifts and if it isn’t what they want or it isn’t an expensive gift, they’re mad. When my brother and I were growing up, we got gifts from our godparents. Our aunts and uncles would hand us an envelope with $5 inside—and we were very appreciative.

I’m thankful that my children appreciate what they receive from whomever gives them a gift. Santa comes to our house—not to everyone else’s house—to deliver my children’s gifts.  We buy our kids solid gifts. We do not buy things just to buy them and then convince them that Santa brought them hundreds of gifts.

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November Publisher’s Note: Reminiscing About My Favorite Holiday

Let’s talk a little about Thanksgiving—one of my favorite holidays.

It is great to just relax and unwind with family.  Everyone is always so busy so be sure to enjoy the chatting and being around each other.

The funny thing is my family doesn’t keep it traditional with a turkey. I will eat turkey, but I’m not really a big fan of turkey cooked in the oven.  Depending where we are—usually either my house or my parent’s house—we just have a nice big dinner with a few hens, stuffing, corn, mash potatoes and pasta, among other things.

I know some people say they don’t care for turkey but they make one because it’s only once a year and they like keeping it traditional. I’m glad we do it the way we do it. I like to eat and when I eat I want to enjoy my food! I sometimes stick to what I know. I will try other food items, but if you don’t enjoy what you are consuming, then why eat it?

One thing that bothers me is the fact that some people and most business look past Thanksgiving and begin to ramp up for Christmas.  Don’t worry—Christmas will be here soon after Thanksgiving. Let’s take one holiday at a time.

This might sound funny, but I watched the movie Click when it first came out and it hit me pretty hard.  Sometimes in my life I want to speed up certain things. After watching that movie, (yes I know that it’s just a movie and the concept is a cliche), you come to realize that our lives are short enough. Time will pass you by if you don’t stop and enjoy what you have and hold onto what you have.  Before you know it things will change and people in our lives will be gone. So enjoy what you have and every minute of it!

The part of the Thanksgiving week that I stay away from is Black Friday!!!!!! Everyone loves to save money and get good deals on gifts. You won’t see me out this week with all the madness. I do not like crowds and people breathing right on top of me! I like to have some space in my surroundings. I like to stay home, relax and just have fun with my children. However, for those of you who go out, I give you a lot of credit because you’re dealing with some people who will do anything to get a bargain. So, please be careful.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this month’s Publisher’s Note. Until next time!

Green, white, and red—all day, every day,

—Jackie Cigars.

October Publisher’s Note: Ending the Bocce Season on a High Note

Hello everyone,

I wanted to talk a little about bocce. Our bocce summer league in Bloomfield ended a few weekends ago during the Little Italy Days tournament.  There was a large turnout—thanks to all of you who came out! In fact, I spoke with some people afterwards who said they wanted to say hello earlier but just couldn’t get near the court.

Just a brief recap of our season—we did some maintenance to the courts earlier in the year. We painted new foul lines, groomed the courts to remove unwanted weeds and divots, as well as trimmed back one of the trees that was blocking the light.

Here are a few things I will miss about our league until next summer:

  • Our produce guy who often stops by with his leftover produce and allow us to pick out some fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Everyone getting together chatting and finding out what’s been going on with each other.
  • Twice during the season we gather around the picnic tables for pizza and Birra Moretti beer. The second time we do this we have cheese, cured meat, hot banana peppers, bread and wine.
  • I will miss the jokes, the laughter and just the enjoyment I get out of playing bocce.
  • Lastly, I will miss the smell of the fresh cut grass and those of us who smoke cigars, firing one up to start off the evening.