Lower Burrell blogger Nicole Ziccarelli balances family, fun, food
To say Nicole Ziccarelli stays busy may be an understatement.
She's about to welcome her fourth child while running her own law practice and a food blog called Mediterranean Baby, and giving time to several local organizations.
She wouldn't have it any other way, though.
“I think it's so important for working moms for their kids to see them in the real world,” said Ziccarelli, 33, of Lower Burrell. “It really instills in them a work ethic that you can't replace and you can't just tell them about.”
Mediterranean Baby was started as an outlet for sharing healthy Greek and Italian recipes from her family's heritage after her son, Franco, was born four years ago. She also has twin daughters, Melina and Valentina, who are 2 years old.
The blog has grown from just family and friends reading to about 40,000 people following Ziccarelli on the blog and other related social media sites.
“It's really somewhat difficult to balance work and home life,” she said. “And one great way to balance it is to have your kids in your kitchen helping you.”
Ziccarelli said her kids are the inspiration for the blog. She's excited to see where it goes with the addition of a fourth child in March.
“I think that this baby has such a fun world to enter into,” she said. “I think this is just a great time; I'm really looking forward to it.”
Local ties important
She also plans to keep her blog audience local by featuring area businesses in Westmoreland County. She said she likes to support local businesses and connecting with local readers.
Ashley Mikula Photography, based in Belle Vernon, is one of those businesses.
Mikula, 35, recently took holiday photos of Ziccarelli and her family, which were featured on Mediterranean Baby.
“She seems to have the best interest of the women entrepreneurs in mind,” Mikula said. “She seems very driven to bring awareness to Westmoreland County businesses.”
Mikula also has blogging in common with Ziccarelli. Mikula runs the blog Momma on a Mission.
“I think it's really important as moms that we kind of band together and encourage each other to not give up on the things that we think are important — not only in motherhood, but outside of motherhood,” Mikula said.
Aside from running the blog, Ziccarelli has her own law practice in New Kensington, where she specializes in family law including divorce, custody and adoption cases.
“The family law side of it is personal to me,” she said. “I am a child of divorce.”
Ziccarelli said she believes there is always an alternative to fighting and anger during a divorce, especially when kids are involved.
“I really believe in children and their best interest,” she said.
Ziccarelli believes in being an advocate for her clients and their children. She said she believes in empowering her clients by providing them with the information they need.
She is also incorporating her knowledge of the law with her blog readers with a new series called “Notes from the Courtroom.”
“It's my perspective on things that I have learned from my practice,” she said. “It's kind of empowering people to understand the law.”
When Ziccarelli isn't working on her blog or in her law office, she finds time to serve on the advisory board of Penn State New Kensington. A graduate of Penn State, she strives to remain a loyal alumna.
“I very much enjoy that board,” she said. “I enjoy being part of the Penn State community.”
Ziccarelli was the keynote speaker during Penn State New Kensington's graduation this fall. She spoke to the students about the value of being a Penn State graduate.
“I talked just a lot about reaching out to other Penn Staters,” she said. “It's a phenomenal network.”
Ziccarelli has also served on the board of directors for the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children for a little more than a year.
“It's all about the power of early learning,” she said. “Getting them ready and prepared for school.”
Michelle Figlar, executive director of the association, said Ziccarelli was selected to serve on the board for two reasons.
“She is a mom of young children and understands, personally, how important it is to make public investments in high-quality early learning,” Figlar said. “Secondly, Nicole's experience as a family lawyer aligns completely with our philosophy, and her philosophy as a lawyer, to always put the best interests of children first.”
Figlar said Ziccarelli represents the organization's members in Westmoreland County, which is the second-largest group.
“Nicole being from Westmoreland County is a true asset to our board,” she said. “It's important that there is representation from all the counties we serve.”
Ziccarelli says the key to making time for all of her responsibilities and interests is efficient planning and having a support system. She also gives credit to her husband, Frank-John, who supports her in all of her ventures.
“I keep my eye on the ball, I always put my family first, and I make sure that I understand part of putting my family first is focusing on my career,” she said. “That only benefits the family.”
Emily Balser is a freelance writer.