Sunday, 2 August 2015

Summer garden.









When we decided to move from the city to the countryside, one of our dreams and resolutions was to keep a vegetable garden and grow our own produce. This year (the very first year) we tried to start and maintain a vegetable patch and so far it's been a bitter sweet experience. While we've had some success in some areas, we definitely have failed in others.

I decided to write some notes to myself, as a point of reference for the next year:

* Gardening and growing vegetables in Liguria is a lot harder than I thought. The space is very limited and the soil is rough, hard and filled with way too many rocks and pebbles. This is the reason why the carrots we planted didn't manage to grow, at all.

* The ex-owners said it was impossible to grow eggplants at this altitude. We prove them wrong. We planted only four plants and they all have resisted, giving us few lovely aubergines.

* That cherry tree in the back of the garden- it's a keeper. It was overloaded with sweet and juicy fruits. Now our pantry shelves are overloaded with jars of cherry and vanilla jam, a new family favorite.

* That plum tree in the middle of the garden- it's a keeper too. It gave sweet and healthy, worm-free fruits (most of the cherries were unfortunately infested with worms). 

* The biggest disappointment so far: zucchini. They are probably the most common vegetable in Italian veggie gardens and they are (or supposed to be) one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Well, not for us as it seems. We had many plants planted and they all had beautiful flowers but only few of them actually gave us zucchini. Just enough for one frittata...

* The biggest success so far: tomatoes. Especially cherry, plum and black tomatoes. They have been a source of real joy for a tomato addict like me. San Marziano kind should be avoided though- their fruits are rotting on the plant before even turning red. Must find out- why...?

* Runner beans have passed the exam too. Definitely to be planted next year again.

* The sour cherry tree gave some fruits; not enough for at least one batch of jam but enough to snack on while spending time in the garden.

* Cucumbers: didn't survive heat waves in July, even with regular watering :( Pity, because I was pretty excited about them.

* Raspberries: two small plants, plenty of fruits. We should get some more as they quickly became kids' favorite.

* Peppers: some are turning out nicely, some are not. We'll see when they're ready to be picked.    

The whole gardening has been enjoyable experience so far but it is hard work too. But seeing our kids' playing in the garden, running barefoot on the grass and eating raspberries or tomatoes straight from the plant makes it all worthwhile.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Spring.


Oh, spring... You're finally here. Everything seems so full, so green, so awake. The fruit trees are blossoming and buzzing with bees, the tulips and daffodils are a colorful accent in our garden after all those long, bare, colorless winter months. Mornings and evenings smell of lilac blossoming just under our windows. You know, this balmy, sweet scent that brings you some memories from your childhood. My son walks barefoot on the grass, my daughter makes wishes with dandelions. My heart grows. We have started working on our modest vegetable garden and it feels good. Hoping for some courgettes, carrots, beans, tomatoes etc... 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Shop announcement!

Once again.. it's been a while since I last posted anything here. Life has been very, very busy lately but I just wanted to share some exciting news. After months of preparation, I am finally ready to re-open my Etsy shop. I've been wanting to do it in such a long time and now I feel like this is the right moment. Tomorrow is C.'s birthday and re-opening my Etsy corner will be one of best gifts for him- he's always been my biggest fan, my greatest motivation and support. 

I've been working on my projects during those cold, winter evenings and the more I knit and crochet for Etsy, the more and more I want to make. My head is spinning with ideas.

At the moment I'll be offering knit and crochet garments for babies but I'm working on ladies' accessories, shawls and cowls too. I hope I will be able to update my shop on a regular basis.

I'm planning to list new garments later tonight, so please come and have a peek :-)



Wishing you a peaceful weekend!
xo

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Weekending... and the giveaway winner!

It's been yet another rainy, dark November weekend; we spend most of it at home. But I can't really complain: it feels somehow comforting to be indoors, warm and cosy, while gray clouds outside are heavy with rain. Today we had an earthquake too. Though it was short, it scared me to bits- I'd never experienced an earthquake before.

We managed to catch up on some works on the house. Kids' bunk bed that we've been building for the past two weeks or so is almost done. The progress is slow because we have only time over the weekend and there are so many things to do that sometimes it feels overwhelming. Today C. was able to make bookshelves for kids' books while I was making Christmas cards with G. I can't believe it is already this time of year...


 And it's also time to reveal the winner of Knit Bake Sew Giveaway! :-)
Thank you all who left their comment under my previous post. And the winner is: Monica!



Congratulations! Evin, the author of the book, will contact you shortly to gift you a free e-copy of her fabulous book.

***

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Bake Knit Sew by Evin Bail O'Keeffe blog tour.

Have you heard yet? The very talented Evin O'Keefee has published her first book and let me tell you: it is a treat to enjoy. 

 © 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe

I met Evin through Raverly few years ago and have been admiring her award-winning blog ever since. I'm very excited to be taking part in her blog tour and happy to share some of my thoughts on her book here. 

© 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe

I received my copy of Evin's book few weeks ago and since then it has been my daily companion, my daily source of inspiration. During these dark and cold November days all I want to do is knitting beautiful things and baking delicious treats for my family and Evin's book provides so many ideas for both. 

The book covers a whole year of crafts. You'll find a delicious recipe and a knitting or sewing pattern for each month of year. As an active knitter I was curious about the knitting patterns and I quickly fell in love with them. Cupid's Arrow Cowl, Falling Petals Lace Shawl, Keating Hat and Sugar Maple Vest are my favorite. I'll be making them for myself but, since Christmas is just around the corner, these patterns are perfect for gift-knitting too. 

© 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe

The book is filled with beautiful images and the photos that accompany the recipes make my mouth watering. There are twelve delicious recipes for cakes, cookies, scones and pies. I want (and I will!) try them all. Not only they are a real treat for you and your family, most of them are easy enough to make with your kids. I've already made Lime Poppy Seed Scones and they turned out wonderfully. They tasted great with maple syrup and a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon. Now I'd love to try Snickerdoodles, Monster Cookies, Aunt Nell's Blondies and this tempting Strawberry Mascarpone Tart:

© 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe

And if you're not sure what to do with all that pumpkin abundance this season, there is a lovely recipe for Grandma's Pumpkin Pie too.

The book also includes few sewing patterns and although I'm not into sewing as much as into knitting, I found them very interesting. Princes Street Market Tote makes me want to dig out my long forgotten sewing machine and get to work. So does On the Green Picnic Mat... and Mary's Hostess Apron...

© 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe

What I really like about Evin's book is that it is simple in its beauty: each pattern and recipe seems achievable and you instantly feel you want to make them all. She also tells a story that stands behind them. Also, the ingredients  in the recipes are given both in cups and grams- it's a small detail but so helpful as I often give up on some recipes if they provide measures in cups and ounces (can't be bother with converting them into grams...).

It is also worth to mention that Evin, living in beautiful Ireland, for her projects she shares with us in her book, selected her supplies carefully and obtained them locally from independent businesses owned by women. 

For more information about Bake Knit Sew book, you can visit Evin's blog, here. You can find her on her Twitter and Instagram too.

The book is available for purchase in two versions: as an e-book and as a paperback

Evin is kindly offering the readers of my blog a 10% discount on Bake Knit Sew. Simply use the discount code BLOGTOUR for 10% while purchasing form Raverly or AnchorandBee. This offer ends on the 27th of November. Thank you Evin!

You can visit previous stops on this blog tour, here:

Mon, November 10 – Reckless Knitting (Liz) http://recklessknitting.com 
Tues, November 11 – Live and Let Pie (Rose Anne) http://liveandletpie.net/ 
Wed, November 12 – Jen’s Kitchen (Jeni) http://www.jenskitchen.ie Thu, November 13 – The Dublin Knit Collective (Diane) http://dublinknitcollective.wordpress.com 
Fri, November 14 – Crafty Tails (Jenny) http://craftytails.com 
Saturday, November 15 – The Writer’s Journey (Markie) http://writermarkiemadden.blogspot.ie 
Sunday, November 16 – Lisa Bogart Thoughts (Lisa) http://www.lisabogart.com/thoughts/ 
Mon, November 17 – Glass of Win aka Moonstruck Quaint (Rachael) http://www.glassofwin.com 
Tue, November 18 – TanisKnits (Tanis) http://www.tanisknits.com 
Wed, November 19 – Lilly Higgins (Lilly) http://lillyhiggins.ie 
Thu, November 20 – Calso Cooks (Paul) http://thesustainablelarder.blogspot.ie 
Fri, November 21 – By Eline (Eline) http://byeline.no 
Sat, November 22 – Yarn Poetry (me :-) ) http://www.yarnpoetry.blogspot.ie
Sun, November 23 – Live and Let Pie (Rose Anne) http://liveandletpie.net/?s=and+let+pi


~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~

Evin is also generously offering a free copy of her e-book to one lucky reader. To enter leave a comment below by 4:00 p.m. GMT Saturday, November 28, 2014, telling me which of the designs you would want to make or recipes you want to bake to be in with a chance to win an ecopy of the e-book. 

Your comment also counts as entry to win one signed paperback copy of Bake Knit Sew being given away on the 28th of November to one lucky reader on this blog tour.

***No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Winner must have a valid email address or Ravelry account. Value of the prize is $16.00. No cash equivalent will be offered.***

Good luck!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Rainy days.



These past few weeks have been very rough, weather-wise. Rain, rain and more rain on its way. We are tired, we are worried. This huge amount of water, accompanied by strong winds has already caused some damages and the worst part of it is that this rainy season has only just begun. There have been landslides, the roads are a mess, some impressive waterfalls have appeared on the hills. We have been having second degree warning for the past few days now. It's all a bit scary. 


The schools remain closed, so we stay at home, trying to organize our daily activities. It is not always easy. With a two year old toddler who doesn't stay still for a second and an active first-grader who gets bored very easily. a whole day indoors can be pretty challenging for one busy mama. But we're doing fine and, frankly, I'm possibly the only mom around here to be happy that the schools are closed. It's somehow sweet to be with my kids at home, even if at some point my patience is pushed to its boundaries. 



This rainy weather made me feel like baking today. I just needed something comforting for the kids, for us, so I decided to try out a new recipe: Lime Poppy Seed Scones. They turned out delicious! They are exactly what I crave on a day like today.


The recipe comes from "Bake Knit Sew" book by Evin Bail O'Keeffe, a fellow, talented blogger whose blog I've been admiring for years. The book has been published recently and Evin is currently having a blog-tour. I'm honored to be a part of it- I will be writing about her beautiful book soon, hosting a giveaway too, so stay tuned :-)


Saturday, 11 October 2014

From the city to the countryside.

It's been a very long time since my last post... Again, all I can say is that we have been very busy lately but I'm willing to get back on track with blogging. A quick look back at the past months:

In the end of June we left our flat in Genova that we had sold back in February. We rented a small house in the countryside and in that moment our urban life ended. Our dream (and plan) of living in the countryside finally came true. The house was situated on the hill, immersed in greenery, surrounded by olive groves and woods. It was a magic place, a huge change for us after of those years of living in big cities.

Casa Rossa, as we used to call our temporary home.

There were only few other people living there, mostly elder farmers who initially welcomed our presence with curiosity but then very quickly became our friends. Their friendliness and generosity was very touching and, again, something new for us. We felt a part of that small community from the very beginning. 

Countryside people are very generous. Every time I went to visit Signora R. she wouldn't let me leave without a bag full of treasures: vegetables from her garden, eggs from her hens, home made jams, tomato passata and limoncello.

In Casa Rossa we spent half of the summer that was pretty rainy this year.

Our everyday views.

And within one or two weeks of our new life, we found our dream house, a final destination in our journey from the city to the countryside. After few months of an intense search we slowly were losing our hopes and than it suddenly happened: we went to see a house without any expectations and we fell in love with it instantly. It had almost everything that we were looking for so we decided to put an offer. It was accepted and within a month we moved in (lucky us, as the procedures usually take much longer; the ex-owners were very flexible in our case though).


The house is old, built in 1900 and has already gone through many changes and renovations. There are things that still need to be done but we love it even with its small imperfections.

And it's surrounded by breathtaking scenery: Ligurian hills and the sea in the distance.



A little corner of the world that we longed for and we can call our own, finally.