Now please remember that I am 75 percent Sicilian and 25 percent “slay your mother and steal her cabbage” Viking. Forgiveness does not come by my bloodline easily and yet somehow I’ve managed to cultivate it into a major part of my personal make-up. Not to get all sappy here but finding forgiveness in life has been my saving grace, since more often than not the person I’ve needed to forgive most is myself. Since Vendetta is one of the first multi-syllable words taught to young Italian children, forgiveness it is not something we do well or do easily, but on the occasion when I get it right it gives me the greatest sense of peace.


Janelle loves lavender

In bud form, oil form or any form I love the scent of lavender. I’m kind of a high strung kind of girl (read: Sicilian) so this little flower can be thanked for bringing my feet back down to earth on more than one occasion. I breathe it in when I need to relax. I make sachets to stick under my pillows for pleasant dreams. I drop a little onto my scarf before a languid walk to infuse my steps with perfect daydreams. And I mix a little into lemon cookies to make me feel like I’m taking a walk through the Tuleries. Yay! Lavender!

Anais Mitchell
Give her a listen and I guarantee she will be your next big crush. Ask anyone, I’m not really much of a folkie. As a matter of fact, most folk music makes me want to stick my head in a vice. The Clash is and has been my all-time favorite band since I was 12, if that tells you anything. So it’s saying a lot that I’m listing a folk singer in my 10 Things. Mitchell has all the bite, smarts and fierce optimism of old skool Ani and all the soaring delicacy of Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays. Strange combo, I know, but it works. She’s like an itty bitty Joni Mitchell drunk on the Middle East, love and soul searching.

You may have garnered that Sicily is well-known for the tempestuous nature of its natives but it is also an island of incomparable beauty.


Despite being born here in the US, I will always think of Palermo, its capital city, as home. No place I have visited has ever shown me such a rich and sensual authenticity. It is more of a melting pot than Boston and infinitely more hip, with amazing art, music, filmmaking and, of course, food. Palermo is more than you’d expect and everything you could have dreamed of.

butcher block.jpg

Palermo in mia coura per sempre.

My first brand new car and trusty steed. She is a smoking hot Ford Focus and she has yet to let me down. Vroom vroom!

Miss Piggy
Don’t give me any crap about this.


Miss Piggy was my idol as a kid and, I have to say, the real life lessons that got me through childhood and beyond were learned from Miss Piggy. As a little girl in the 70s she taught me to have tenacity, verve and vivacity and to never take no for an answer — not something we saw a lot of in female role models back then. She also had fantastic hair, a fabulous sense of style, and a mean karate chop!

Steve Martin
Okay is there anything hotter than a funny guy? I’ll answer that — a funny guy who can play a banjo like fricken riot! A funny guy, who plays the banjo who can also write! A funny guy, who can play the banjo, who can also write and who hung with MISS PIGGY! I heart Steve Martin. Always have. Always will.

Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
You’ll probably see a lot of Burt’s Bees on this list as the months go on. I love the stuff. Super hydrating, invigorating and darn TASTY.

Janelle also loves Burt's Bees Everything

When the going gets tough, sometimes it’s the little things and Burt’s Beeswax Lip Balm has never let me down — even through our “record colds,” which Massachusetts seems to have on a regular basis. This little sucker is perfection in a tube and I, my friends, am in love. Strong, sweet and dependable. What more could I ask for?

Northampton, Massachusetts
I’ve never been much for Gloucester, Mass., my hometown. To quote the great Joni Mitchell, it’s too old and cold and settled its ways. It’s never quite enriched me the way other places have. Northampton was a wonderful getaway for me during my formative years. Great food and funky folk defines Northampton and the Happy Valley. It’s no Palermo but for New England you’d be hard pressed to do better. I’ve spent the past 10 years trying to find a Northampton by the sea. If you find one please let me know.

Origins ‘Quick Hide’ Concealor
I’m an Italian; I get pimples. ‘Nuf said.

::: Please y’all, kudos to the lovely and talented Miss Stephanie for providing the photos of my favorite lip balm and my favorite bud while I worked on a tight-ass deadline. :::