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September 8, 2017

Home is not a place, it's a feeling



A few months ago, I was invited by the makers of the Brazilian online magazine OcaPop to take some pictures of my home and write an article about what it means to me.
This is a cool magazine, it's about home decor, diy, a way of making life richer and more enjoyable, and the articles are written not by professionals but for people like me, who through social medias, have found ways to express their creativity and share simple ideas and projects.



I was inspired by the picture above for the title of my article, it summarizes what I do feel about my home, after all a house, by itself, is just a place destined for shelter, but a home is much more than that, it's a refuge, a place where we feel safe, it's the expression of who we are. A home can be a house, but not every house is a home.


Throughout my home bits & pieces bring back memories and tell stories, good memories, unforgettable stories. These objects real value are what they represent to me.

Decorating for me is something intuitive; I love to mix prints, textures and colors, so I chose to paint most walls white, except for light blue on the master bathroom, and orange on the hallways walls - my husband's favorite colors, so the furniture and objects can be colorful in order to create harmony and balance to the rooms.


My way of living and my way of decorating my home are related, it's all about quality of life, simplicity, not monotony, free of excesses, joy, being practical, and having creative freedom.

I like to say that no matter where I go, like a snail, my home sweet home, goes with me.


August 14, 2017

Flower arranging in the garden


It's been quite some time since I last wrote a post, over six months precisely. I'm glad to be back here.

But... what happens when you are trying to become a blogger again and you are having vision problems? When changes in Life are not beneficial do you stop doing things you love and become a grouch and angry person, or do you accept that we are all affected by the constant changes in nature and try and find new ways of doing what you love?

I've chosen to find the good in Life and make whatever adjustments are necessary to continue a fulfilling journey, sometimes frustrated, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, but more flexible, learning to go with the flow, and accepting the ups and down of this crazy Life.

The love for photography came late in my Life, digital photography does not come easy for me, and having eyesight problems at this point make it more difficult to take focused photos, right? Well, but here I am sharing the latest photos I took when I had the opportunity to attend a flower arranging in the garden workshop at the beautiful Hollister House Garden in the rolling hills of Litchfield County.




The workshop was led by Debbie Brown. We met at the gorgeous  Hollister House Garden's barn for a short lecture on the techniques to cut and condition flowers, the use of color, texture and scale to create natural and long-lasting arrangements and bouquets; followed by a walk through the garden to collect some foliage (Debbie and her team brought flowers from their gardens), and finally hands on creating our own displays.




Usually, I do not use flowers from my own garden to make my flower arrangements. My garden is not big enough to cut some flowers and still have a decent garden, but little by little I've been planting more flowers, and I believe by next year I'll have enough flowers in the backyard to use some of my them for my flower arrangements, so it was important to learn how to condition them, something I didn't have a clue before.

I don't have any formal education in gardening, I don't even know the names of so many flowers, my approach to flower gardening has been always from the heart, being spontaneous, driven by my instinct, and surprisingly to me, some of the techniques taught at the workshop to keep cut flowers fresh and have them last longer are steps I take naturally, like removing any foliage that might be submerged in the water, recut stems in an angle, and change the water daily.
It felt good to know that instinctively I've been doing it right.




If you have read some of my playing with flowers posts, you know my flower arrangements keep changing, I never waste a single flower. When some break or die, a new flower display is created.

Some flower stems from the arrangement I made at the workshop broke while I was driving back home, so I put together a new flower display - simple and cute - perfect to be placed on my craft room shelf.
Techniques, tricks and tips are very important, but never forget to follow your instincts and enjoy when playing with flowers.




Soon I'll be sharing with you some of the basic guidelines I've learned at the workshop. I couldn't be happier to have attended it, Debbie and her team are knowledgeable and helpful, the staff at HHG is welcoming and warm, the setting is glorious, the information plentiful and the hands-on practice truly invaluable.

February 3, 2017

Delicate Doodles by Elisa Aiuti


I believe what is good and beautiful deserves to be in the spotlight, and recently, I realized that I stopped blogging and sharing with you about the things I love and find on sites and other social medias. So today, this space is dedicated to the lovely art of Elisa Aiuti. Take a look...


Elisa, like many of us, has found a way to freely express her creativity online. She works as a nurse, but from a very young age her tool of choice has been a pencil, and whenever she has some free time she likes to spend it creating her simple and fun drawings.

I first came across her art on Instagram and ever since have become a fan of the clean simplicity of her doodles.


Just a simple doodle, a pencil, some pencil shaves, and lots of imagination...



Everyday objects, even food,  their shapes, colors, textures, get a new purpose and meaning.


Elisa explains her creative process: "Creativity has always been a part of my life, as a child, I would spend hours drawing. My artwork has evolved naturally and slowly. I love abstract and fantasy art, all that makes my imagination to fly away. I am inspired by colour and texture, and like to experiment with everyday objects adding them to my drawings to create a unique piece."


To enjoy more of Elisa's drawings head over to her Instagram and Facebook pages.


(Artwork copyright Elisa Aiuti)

January 29, 2017

A Cooking School in the heart of Litchfield Hills & An Apple Cider Braised Chicken Recipe


Nestled in the heart of beautiful Litchfield Hills in a renovated circa-1800's horse barn is The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm, established by Skitch and Ruth Henderson in the late 60's, is now a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating love of land, food and arts, and it was there that Brady and I spent some pleasant and fun hours last Saturday.



It's the second time Brady participated in a cooking class at the Silo, it was my birthday gift to him, a Slow Cooking class with chef/instructor Trish Lobenfeld.

I had contacted Dawn Leahy, the Cooking School Director, for the possibility to be there just to take some pictures. She graciously made me feel most welcome.

Unfortunately, my pictures did not come out as good as I wish, it was a cloudy day with just some rays of sun every now and then, and it was my first time shooting a social event, I felt a little uncomfortable, did not want to disturbe the students and ended up missing great shots.

Preparing the braised lamb shanks. 


Peeling pears and apples for the crumble.


Draining potatoes for the pancakes.


The menu consisted of:

  • Split Pea and Barley Soup with Smoked Ham Hock
  • Apple Cider Braised Chicken with Potato-Kale Pancakes
  • Braised Lamb Shanks Provençal over Creamy Cannellini Bean Puree
  • Simple Salada with French Vinaigrette
  • Candied Ginger Apple and Pear Crumble
  • French Vanilla Ice Cream
Everything amazingly delicious, really!

Trish explaning the best method for breaking down a chicken.


Classes at The Silo are beautifully organized and packed with information. Students are given printed out recipes of what they are cooking, and then they get to sit down together, have some wine, and eat the most delicious food that they cooked together


The class consisted of 4 groups with 4 people each. Brady was part of the group that prepared the Apple Cider Braised Chicken and the Potato-Kale Pancakes, and let me tell you, these recipes are so good that Brady made the braised chicken once again the next day, with a slight variation.



Apple Cider Braised Chicken
6 serves

♥ 3 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts & thighs
♥ 2 cups apple cider
♥ 2 cups thinly sliced onions
♥ 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
♥ 1 cup thingly sliced celery
♥ 1 garlic head (12 cloves)
♥ 2 tbsp olive oil
♥ 1 bay leaf
♥ 1 large rosemary sprig
♥ 1 thyme sprig (about 5)
♥ coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. 

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom pan over medium high heat. stir in the onions, garlic and salt, cover and sweat for about 5 minutes, stir once. 

Remove the cover, reduce the heat, and let the onions and garlic cook down until soft, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes until they are deep brown - adding a little water if they start to stick to the bottom. This delicious brown caramelized sugar is what gives color and flavor to the food.

Stir in carots and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the seasoned chicken, apple cider, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Stir to combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to barely a simmer, just an occasional bubble comes to the surface. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.



Undoubtedly, The Silo Cooking School is a great place for communal cooking learning and eating the freshest of foods. Cheers to a fun afternoon!


January 22, 2017

First snow and a hearty, warming potato & apple soup


I woke up to a white and silent world, the first snow storm of the season had fallen throughout the night, and was still falling.
What is there not to like when a blanket of  fluffy white snow covers the entire landscape? Shoveling, gray skies, slippery and icy roads, bitter cold... I don't like winter in the northeast, it lasts for so long! But when the first snow falls, ah, it's simply magical!

"Let's go for a ride?", I asked Brady. He looked back at me, and said: "Are you sure, it's very cold outside and you can't stand cold."

"I'm sure, let's drive through some country roads nearby, we can always stop at the Bridgewater Village Store and have some hot chocolate." I said, already imagining the creamy sweetness waiting for us at the store.


As I stepped outside the car to take some pictures, the cold hit me like it was the first time I was experiencing the northern winter, even though I've been living here for so many years. My intention of taking some pretty photos ended up short, soon I was ready to drive back home, thinking of preparing a nourishing soup for us.


"Apple soup? That's pretty unusual." Brady said as I asked him to help me peel some apples and potatoes for the soup I started preparing as soon as we got back home.

"Yes, right. I just feel like trying something different. You know me, I love making soups using whatever I can find in the kitchen.

This is rich, cold-weather winner soup, and couldn't be easier. It has the perfect balance of creamy, sweet and savory.

I can not tell you how delicious it is, you'll just have to trust me until you try it yourself.

Potato and Apple Soup
Serves 6

 4 large peeled, diced russet potatoes
 3 peeled, cored, chopped fuji apples (or gala)
♥ 2 large diced onions
♥ 2 1/2 cups milk
♥ 2 1/2 cups heavy creamy
♥ 1 1/2 (about) tbsp butter
♥ nutmeg, to taste
♥ freshly ground pepper & salt, to taste
♥ french baguette, sliced
grated parmesan cheese (or gruyere)

Boil the potatoes in salt water until they are tender. Drain well and mash them using a masher.

Meanwhile, mealt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, cooking them for about 5 minutes. Add the diced apples cooking them until tender. Stir in the milk and the heavy milk and heat through. Add the mashed potatoes to the mixture. Season with nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes.

Place bread slices on a baking sheet and broil for about 1 minute.
Ladle soup into oven-proff bowls leaving 1 inch to the lip. Place bread slices, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden.

December 31, 2016

May the New Year bring out the best in us

In some parts of the planet is 2017 already, here just in a few minutes... May we start it with a loving heart...

We can not change the world in large scale, we can not stop wars, endemic violence, corrupt politicians, we can only be the change we wish to see in the world.

Everyone wants changes in this caotic world, but are we willing to consider alternative ideas, perspectives or thoughts? Are we willing to truly open ourselves up to others, regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, or any other stereotypical excuse given as to why we fear them?

We live on a vibrational planet, and each and everyone of us washes energy over it, so if we truly want a better world for all people, let's embrace our differences not fear them, let's be the source from which our light overcome our darkness and let love guide our choices.

May 2017 bring out the best in us for the sake of all living creatures in this beautiful planet.




December 21, 2016

Random thoughts and the Cutest DIY Christmas Ornament


Soon it will be the 25th of December... presents bought, cards written, Christmas decor everywhere, lots of mouthwatering dishes planned... but where is the spirit, the meaning of Christmas?

I believe it's there somewhere, in the heart of some people, but mostly what we see is an overwhelming commercialization of Christmas. Even the ones who were not raised christians get in the Christmas-themed frenzy.

Family traditions give me a feeling of belonging, they keep me close to my family and to my roots, and I cherish valuable memories with my family created over the years.
Christmas is a family tradition, so to me it's a time to be together with them, but my family is not here, they are way too far from here. My husband's family is small compared to mine, and it's almost gone, or far away as well. Mind you, we keep our family traditions even when is just the two of us.

However, my niece, who is finishing her Ph.D. at Cornell University and is the only member of my family living in America, will spend Christmas with us this year, and on Christmas day we all are going to NYC to see The Rockettes' Christmas Spetacular. One more Christmas memory to cherish.


This year, I didn't feel like posting any of my Christmas decorations, or talk about the menu I've chosen, or posting some Christmas diy, too many things out there... Nonetheless, this morning, I had a change of heart and felt like sharing this simple & cute diy Christmas ornament. The first time I made it was four years ago, but this is the first diy of it. I think it's still a fresh idea - little angels made from cupcake cups, or cupcake cups turned into little angels.

Paper Angel Christmas Ornament

You'll need:

  • cupcake cups in different motifs & colors
  • styrofoam balls and/or felt balls for craft
  • glue stick
  • regular & edging scissors
  • embroidery thread
  • needle
  • beads
  • embellishments (optional)

How to:



Tips:

  • Do not glue the bottom of the body, only the sides, the needle with the thread should be push up from the bottom to the top so the little ball can be attached to the body, besides leaving it unglued gives the body some volume.
  • Attaching a bead, or a few beads, on top of the ball gives weight to the paper angel and adds a nice touch to it.
  • Using the edging scissors to trim the wings gives them a nice finishing.
  • Adding some embellishment to the dress and wings make them look more festive.

This cute and fun to make diy is perfect not only to be hung on a Christmas tree but also as a gift tag to decorate any package, don't you agree? Any other ideas on how to decorate with them?



I must confess I'm pretty happy with myself. The last time I went to a mall was in October. I did not buy any Christmas decoration, or paper wraps, even Christmas cards I did not buy. I'm using what I already have, tweaking them here and there, just being creative, and the few gifts I bought are from some local stores, small tokens of friendship and love.


I wish you all a lovely Christmas celebration. Love and Peace.