Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Fatto a mano – Home Made

My mother was not a great cook, but she did teach me to sew. I didn’t realize until I was forced into Home Ec class in junior high (I was a girl, shop class not an option), that most of my female classmates were clueless about threading a needle, let alone manipulating a foot pedal to sew a 5/8 inch seam. Mom hand-made clothes for both my sister and me, including pink tutus with stiff itchy netting for our ballet recital. I have a photo somewhere of the two of us posing in some awkward balletic stance in our backyard, with scowls on our faces.

Tired of a closet full of pink (mom’s favorite color for me), I eventually began manufacturing my own wardrobe, but when I bought a house, my sewing machine basically spit out cushion covers and window curtains. Then my my nieces and nephews starting having kids, so it switched to spewing out blankets and burp up cloths. Nowadays, my specialty is holiday aprons. I am creating a whole series, each fabric designating a specific holiday, in celebration of the newest member of our family, my nephew’s wife, who is finally adding positively to the culinary mix: a Capellari woman whose favorite store is Williams Sonoma. Up until this point, my sister and I were the only foodies (and cooks) in the family, much outnumbered by Capellari households where meals came from something frozen, canned or through the mail.

When I was care taking for my mother, I escaped to the basement after she went to bed, where I set up a craft table. I began making greetings cards. Only for family and friends and only for those who indulged me. It was a release from the “upstairs” life where I worked, managed all financials and medical issues, kept up the house, car and took care of the dog. It served as a creative outlet that in the end, entertained (and for some, alarmed) many of the recipients. I have a huge archive of embarrassing family photos at my disposal.

But Covid opened up a whole new vista of “fatto a mano” possibilities. I now make my own salad dressing, yogurt and spice mixes. During winter, soup season, my freezer is packed with containers of fatto a mano corn and shrimp chowder, turkey chili and chicken rice soup. My home décor is fashioned from local, seasonal flora, some of which I collect on my daily walks.

This is my birthday month. The month I was “home made” and because ultimately, the most important and grandest “fatto a mano” creation I produce, is me. That which fills my every days eventually forms my life until there are no more of them, leaving behind a canvas overflowing with and chock full of who I am.

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