Cast Blog: #RHONJ

Put a Smile on Your Face

Teresa talks about how she got through the tough times and what's happening now.

Hi baby dolls! So we're back, but it's kind of weird because what you're watching on RHONJ now was all filmed a year ago, and a lot has happened since then. I've been blessed with some amazing opportunities like Celebrity Apprentice, which I filmed from October until December. (And I'll be on the live season finale May 20!) So what you see on Celebrity Apprentice is a pretty good picture of me, as I am now.

Doing Celebrity Apprentice, helping raise money for sick kids, getting involved in everyone's charities, really changed my perspective on things. I'm in a much better place now than I was a year ago. I'm focusing on the truly important things in life like helping find a cure for kidney disease with NephCure. It's made me see that the problems we think are big on Housewives pale in comparison to what children like Matthew Levine go through. Can you imagine your 8-year-old child having to take 15 pills a day just to survive? I feel so blessed to have healthy friends and family, and I never want to take that for granted by focusing on petty drama like gossip and tabloids.

Right now, life is really good and we're all really happy! My businesses, my books, and my new Fabellini drink are doing great, and like a lot of you I hope, things are much better for us financially.

The economy was really tough two years ago, especially if you were in construction and owned buildings like Joe and I did. When our tenants couldn't pay their mortgage, we couldn't pay the building mortgage. We filed for bankruptcy, and the amount was huge because it included the full mortgage on several buildings. Of course, good news isn't reported as often as bad news, but here's our good news: the banks were able to sell our buildings, which was most of our debt, so we withdrew our bankruptcy petition and are working on paying off the rest of our debt ourselves! It was a very tough year, especially having pieces of it misreported in the media, but we made it through. And I think we're stronger than ever. Joe and I are great, our marriage is great, and of course, our four beautiful daughters are amazing.Everyone deals with challenges differently. I was the first to admit last year that there were days I didn't want to get out of bed, but I have four girls that look up to me to see how I handle tough situations. My belief is that you get out of bed, you put a smile on your face, you put one foot in front of the other, and you trust in God. I choose to be positive. It's a choice. It's not because I'm too stupid to know what's going on or trying to be fake. It's because I've always been a positive person, and I want my children to be as well. Whatever works for you, God bless!

While I was going through a very difficult period in my life last year, we filmed Seasons 3 and 4 back-to-back. It was rough, and looking back, there are definitely situations that I would have handled differently. All I can do is apologize, learn from them, and move on. I have personally and sincerely apologized to everyone on the show more times than I can count. I would love to resolve any of the outstanding issues from last year with my family and friends because I do love them all, but it just takes time. I do and have always wished them all the best. This first episode was rough, but you'll see me really work hard to support Melissa and repair things with my brother. And there are fun times coming up, I promise!

I really don't want to go over old wounds, but when it comes to my cookbook, I do have to set the record straight, because you're only seeing things taken out of context. This is my livelihood, and like any other businesswoman, I have to defend it. (Mr. Trump taught me well!) I didn't know everyone was going to pick out tiny pieces of my cookbook to talk about on the show, but I want you to have the whole story. So here it is, once and for all. (Then we can all move on!)

I worked really hard on them and am very proud of my cookbooks. It means the world to me to be able to share my family's recipes with you and your families. As I explained in both books, my "family" recipes are my mother's and her grandmother's (who raised my mom and I was named after) and Joe's mother's. I'm my mom's only daughter and I've been cooking with her since I could walk. She passed down her recipes to me, and we created new ones together over the years. I'm sure Melissa and Kathy's moms (who are not related to my mom) have great recipes too, and maybe one day we'll all do an extended-family-and-cousins-and-in-laws cookbook together, but for now, my mama and I are enjoying preserving our recipes for my daughters.

As for the jokes in my cookbooks... I've always had them in all of my books. Funny books sell better. Bethenny's humor helped her books sell, the Skinny Bitch authors’ jokes helped their books sell, and I think one of the reasons Skinny Italian was so successful is because I put my personality in it. I joke about myself A LOT and I joked about my life, which includes my friends and family. I joked about Dina's insane love of meat. I joked about how where Caroline grew up in Brooklyn, they pronounced herb as "hoib." I joked about the O.C. Housewives, Atlanta Housewives, Andy Cohen, US Weekly, America's Next Top Model, and a million other things. My cookbooks are not for 5-star chefs. They're for my fans and regular housewives, who I happen to think are pretty hilarious themselves. I wanted my books to read like a fun novel, not a boring cookbook.In 2010, I began writing Fabulicious! Teresa's Family Cookbook. I had just filmed a Housewives scene with Caroline and Jacqueline and cried, telling them how they were my family too. And Caroline and I appeared on the Rachael Ray show together for a meatball "throw down." We were supposed to good-naturedly "trash talk" each other. Caroline said I had to "disguise my meatballs with gravy," and that her meatballs were going to "kick my meatballs’ butts!" I literally couldn't think of any fake insults for her except, "A meatball without sauce? Who does that?" Then one of the Rachael Ray producers came up with a line I thought was pretty funny, "Caroline's as Italian as the Olive Garden." The idea was that since I was conceived in Italy and Italian is my first language, that I cook the traditional way. Caroline's family is Italian-American, like the Olive Garden, and that's how she cooks. I bake my meatballs in sauce; she fries her with no sauce. You can still see the actual quote on Rachael Ray's site. Caroline and I laughed throughout the show, it was really fun. It aired twice in May 2010 and Sept 2010.

Writing the introduction to Fabulicious! I talked about the Rachael Ray meatball challenge because I was including my meatball recipe for the first time. I made a lot of Olive Garden jokes in Skinny Italian, so it made sense to repeat the Caroline Olive Garden joke from Rachael Ray. But I explained that the joke was from the Rachael Ray show, and I immediately said that while I'm not a huge fan of the Olive Garden, "I am, however, a huge fan of Caroline Manzo." Even though it was already on national TV and out there for six months, I never heard a single word from Caroline about not liking that joke, so I thought it was OK. A couple months later, when the publisher asked if I wanted to put any friend pictures in my FAMILY cookbook, I said yes, just one. The very next page has a huge, full-color, gorgeous shot of me and Caroline at Audriana's christening. She's the only friend in my family cookbook. I did it to honor her. (I would be honored if someone put a pretty picture of me in their cookbook.) Underneath the picture, I wrote the caption: "Me with another famous Italian mom, Caroline Manzo." How much more clear can I be that I think she's Italian and fabulous and I love her?

As for "insulting" her kids? On page 13, I say Albie and Christopher Manzo are "adorable." The end.

Now in Chapter 2, my girls wanted to "take over" the cookbook and talk for themselves (which is really funny, especially Milania's part!). To introduce it (and to keep readers interested like I do throughout the book with my subtitles: KY-Not, Slapping the Salami, Knead Me...) I called the section: "Giudice Girls Gone Wild." I then said: "If you just thought about a certain practically pornographic video series, then shame on you! This is a family cookbook! Unlike some of the other Housewives, I do not condone young girls stripping to bring in business to a car wash, old ladies in hot pants climbing up a pole to bring their sexy back, or videotaping yourself in any state of undress at any time. I'm old-school." I was referring to all the crazy things other people did PUBLICLY on Season 2 that I don't want MY YOUNG DAUGHTERS doing. I'm not judging the adults for their choices. It's just not what I want for my girls. Yes, Christopher Manzo wanted to be an adult car wash king. Good for him. Mama Manzo was so proud. I don't have a boy. I don't know how I'd feel about it if my son wanted to do that. I only have daughters, and I'm sorry, I do not want them working at a strip car wash. If you're an adult and you do that, great. It's just not my goal for my kids. Kim G. and Danielle went to a stripper class. Good for them. I don't want my girls to do that. Jacqueline talked about Danielle's "sex tape," and how she had filmed herself in the past. I said on camera I never had, and again, it's not something I want my girls to do.There are little jokes at the beginning of the book to describe my crazy life, that's it. The majority of the book is a big love letter to my family (and the Manzos and Lauritas who I called my family on the first page) and lots of DELICIOUS recipes. My dishes are part of the Mediterranean diet, so they're healthy, inexpensive, easy to make, and reuse the same ingredients. (And I'm not just saying that, it got great reviews in Publisher's Weekly and lots of other places.)

Again, I dedicated it to my brother and his family, and I included beautiful pictures of all my in-laws and nieces and nephews, including Melissa and Joey and their kids. I never mentioned Melissa by name in any jokes; I actually have three younger sister-in-laws. It's a generic joke: little sisters copy big sisters. Big sisters don't always love it. I never mentioned Kathy or Richie by name, I have lots of cousins and most of them do tell bad jokes. I don't know why they assumed I was talking about them. I talk about my father, my father-in-law, my great-grandmother, my great-grandfather, my friends, my friends' kids, celebrities, even The Little Mermaid. Why they think they were singled out, I don't know.

You've watched us all for three years now make joke after joke on the show. We make fun of ourselves and we tease each other. No one does it more than the Manzos -- I think that's what makes them fun to watch. Last year the Manzos, Wakiles and Gorgas made fun of Skinny Italian, my intelligence, my kids, my swimsuits, my house, my voice, my husband, and a million other things. On national TV in front of millions of people. It's cool. I know they're jokes and I know they love me. That's how we ALL are. Why suddenly are my tiny jokes in my second cookbook only so upsetting to everyone? How come everyone laughs when Richie "jokes" that he would "burn that bitch on a stake" (meaning me), but my "jokes" are so over-the-line that everyone is upset? I don't get it.

The only other thing I want to address is my conversation on the beach with my brother.
I don't know if you have a brother or what you talk about, but we have always shared our concerns with each other. Whenever Joey has heard something around town about my husband, he's told me. I would never repeat it to my Joe, because there would be no point, it would just cause problems with my husband and my brother. And I know my brother is only telling me things out of love to protect me. That's what siblings do. You have private conversations. I have always done the same with Joey.So last spring I was hearing really nasty rumors around town about Melissa. They were shocking to me, because I'd never heard anything like them. But it's a small town and when you are suddenly on TV, people start saying things. I don't want people talking about him or his wife anywhere. I thought he should know and maybe he could stop them. We were not filming, I said it to him in confidence. I would never, ever want to repeat a rumor like that about any of my family members in public. That only hurts my family.

Fast forward to TWO MONTHS LATER when we're filming Season 4 on Memorial Day weekend. Out of the blue, Joey says to me remember when you said that about Melissa? I told her and she's mad at you. You can see the shock on my face. Why would you bring up a personal, private conversation on national TV? The only thing that's going to do is make his family look bad and his wife and me have problems again. I'm really trying, but I just don't understand. I'm so sorry he told Melissa, I'm sure it hurt her like it would hurt my husband if I told him. I guess I'm learning that our relationship might never be as close as it once was. I really love him and I miss him, and we used to talk like that our whole lives.

But again what you're watching now happened last year before I filmed Celebrity Apprentice. I'm now trying to focus on the truly important things in life and have realized how lucky and blessed I am and how blessed my amazing friends and family are.

Thank you all so much for your love and support! I have the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful fans in the whole world! I love, love, love you all! You inspire me every day and have helped me grow. Thank you to Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Productions for believing in me and giving me an opportunity that has changed my life, I will be forever grateful.

Make sure to Tweet me @teresa_giudice and don’t forget to visit my website for more info about upcoming appearances, Fabellini info, and my new book Fabulicious! Fast & Fit out May 15!

And by all means, if you don't have a copy of Fabulicious! yet, get one and judge for yourself. It's just $7 on Amazon.

Tanti Baci,
Teresa xx

 

Amber: I Felt I Like I Was Being Hazed

Amber Marchese dishes on her experience this season on #RHONJ.

We made it Housewife friends! As it was my rookie season, I felt like I was being hazed in a sorority, but as hard as it was, I made it! I learned so much about how strong I am as a person and some areas that I can work on. I learned that I really do have a “no surrender, never retreat” mentality. I will go to bat with anyone, at any time, and will defend myself and my family at all cost. I also witnessed the undying love that my husband has for me and his family. He was not going to let anyone hurt me and will unleash hell if someone tries. He is truly my modern day Spartan warrior. 

I am so blessed to have shared my experience and struggles with breast cancer -- the timing of my five year mark, the photo shoot, and growing my hair for five years then cutting it for charity -- it was nothing short of a miracle that the Bravo was able to catch that all. It was just meant to be and God was truly working his wonders. Cutting my hair was completely symbolic for me, since cancer no longer defines me. I will never forget, however the pain, fear, and anxiety is in my rear view mirror now. I can sometimes look back to remind myself where I came from, but it in no way defines my future. It is my promise to all of you, I will never take that for granted, especially knowing that there are thousands struggling with cancer every day. 

On to my perspective on the season finale! I am not quite sure why the twins make it a point to confront others in front of large crowds. As Teresa said, they had two weeks to call her and speak to her about what Victoria Gotti had said to us. If they had an issue or wanted an apology, so be it, but what ever happened to being a civilized human being and picking up the phone to call? They did the same thing to me. Two weeks went by without any phone call from them. In fact, they never returned any of my phone calls or texts! They decided to make a scene in front of an entire party. Difference is, this was at a charity event with children in ear shot. Can you blame me for not wanting to bring my babies to this event? I would have absolutely loved my children sashaying down the runway, but there is absolutely no way I would EVER allow my babies to hear what went on. I spoke with Teresa and I knew the twins never called her. So I knew exactly what was brewing, so did Dina. My children come first and mama was protecting her children. Dina was brazen enough to kick Jim and me out of the Florida home for less of an offense, why wasn’t Dina kicking the twins out because they were making a scene at her own charity function for children?! Can we say double standard? Where were her “heads rolling” that she claimed would happen if someone started anything at a Ladybug event? 

I will add that I completely understand how hurt the twins are. I can understand their anger. However, I cannot understand their way of handling conflict. That level of “hot headedness,” I would think, cools down at a certain age as we tend to calm ourselves, think clearly, and with wisdom. It is a level of discernment that should happen after a certain age or experience in life. 

Dina claims to be Teresa’s friend of 25 years, but does not back up her friend at all. If that was my friend, like Christine or Angelia, whom I have been friends for just as long, the twins would not have gotten to the letter T in stupid before I would be dragging them out of the event by their ears. Dina doesn’t have to agree with her best friend, but she should also never allow someone to call her friend of 25 years stupid, at her own charity function no less. Especially knowing what her friend is going through, which pales in comparison to some stupid rumor.

Since Dina has unwarranted venom towards my husband and has completely snubbed him for his previous contributions to The Ladybug Project, I am going to thank him on their behalf for coming up with the idea of the children's fashion show, as well as the connection to East Coast Stars. Since Jim did not attend, he also made a sizable cash donation on behalf of our family. Jim had also worked hard before all the drama to make sure Ladybug even had a venue with all costs covered, including food and beverage. The venue was ultimately not chosen, but Jim had still worked hard to give Dina an option for the event. Instead she chooses to focus on Jim’s comment about her IQ after she interrogated him at an extremely inappropriate, charged moment right after his wife was attacked. Despite her inappropriateness, Jim still ended up apologizing to her. However in my opinion she should have apologized to him for being so glaringly insensitive. 

It may seem as if my perspective is harsh for an end of season blog, LOL! But it is what I was feeling at the time. I owe it to you all to give you my honest interpretation of it. However, at the end of the season, I came out having a certain amount of respect for all of these ladies. Being on a reality show is hard; it pushes us to our limits and it is nothing short of psychological warfare. I truly hope you will support all of us, equally. Teams are good, and appreciated; however, keep the hate towards other Housewives out of it. Perspective are OK, different points of view are what make the world go round, however, when your perspective rises to a level of cruelty, it takes the fun out of our jobs. Allow us to be ourselves, with the good moments and even the moments when we could have handled ourselves a little better. At the end of the day, the Housewives are girlfriends that have strong personalitiesand disagreements -- we love, we hate, and we make up. That’s life. 

I have would like to thank: Denee Lockhart, Amy Malkoff, J. Vincent Jewelers, Cate Scaglione Photography, Castle Couture, Action Media Productions, Elinet Cakes, Christine’s Restaurant, Historical Names, East Coast Stars, Zaboyon, Greenhouse Flowers, Johnny Donavan PR, Anthony Palmieri stylist, Tony Bowls evening wear, and finally, my husband Jim and my mom, Pamula Aguero. 

It was an amazing experience that I would not change for the world. I want to thank all of you for you love and support. This was a wild ride. 

Many blessings to all!

Amber Marchese