Friday, 24 December 2010

Snowy Scotland

We've made it back to snowy Scotland in time for Christmas. Everything is beautifully wintery and festive and I'm looking forward to spending a lovely cosy Christmas.

Yesterday the Rock My Wedding website featured our engagement shoot from last Christmas when we got some really beautiful shots in the snow. I can't believe a whole year has passed since then.

I want to thank everyone for being such sweet followers of my blog over the past year. Your comments and support make me smile every day. I wish you all a wonderful, magical holiday.

Sarah Elizabeth x x

Monday, 20 December 2010

4 things

I was given this tag by the lovely Signe of Signe Pling. I love Signe's blog, she always posts such dreamy and beautiful pictures. At the moment she's having a lovely giveaway so I recommend you hop on over to her blog for a look around.

So, here are my 4 things:

4 Shows I watch

This is a tough one as I don't watch TV really apart from the occasional film. So, instead I'll tell you the last 4 films I watched.
1. A Single Man
2. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
3. Disney's Cinderella
4. The Reader

4 Things I'm passionate about

1. Books
2. Dancing and music (I wish I was a ballerina but for now I'm content with having a weekly dance class in our village)
3. Crafting - knitting, crocheting, sewing.......
4. Green living

4 Phrases I say a lot

1. What?! (when I don't understand what someone is saying to me in Italian)
2. Sit down and listen please! (to my little students at school - I must say this at least 100 times a day)
3. Si! (My response to most questions asked by my Italian family - a lot of the time I don't really understand and I just answer 'si')
4. Che schiffo! (This means 'how disgusting' in Italian. I use this phrase a lot but just because I like the way it sounds not because I find anything disgusting.)

4 Things I've learned from the past
1. If you want something in life you have to go out and get it for yourself.
2. Happiness is in no way related to the amount of money you have
3. Life is short - we have to appreciate it while we can but at the same time not take it too seriously.
4. I'm my own worst enemy

4 Places I'd like to go - I think it would be easier to list the places I'd not like to go! I travelled a little bit when I was younger but the past few years have been spent travelling between Scotland and Italy. There are still so many places that I'd like to go but these are the first 4 that come to mind.
1. Australia
2. Nepal
3. Finland
4. Zambia

4 Things I did yesterday
1. Ate a lot of cheese
2. Did some knitting by the fire
3. Watched A Single Man
4. Listened to BBC Radio 2 online (I've just recently made the fabulous discovery that I'm able to listen to UK radio online!)

4 Things I'm looking forward to
1. Going home to Scotland for the holidays
2. Christmas
3. Going sledging
4. Mince pies and mulled wine

4 Things I love about winter
1. Wrapping up in warm winter woolies and going out into the cold.
2. Coming back inside to a roaring fire and mug of steaming hot chocolate.
3. Christmas
4. Eating hot soups and stews

4 Things on my wish list
1. A puppy
2. A new roof on the house we are renovating
3. A piano
4. Plane tickets to Australia
(Hope you are reading this Santa Claus!)

And finally pass the tag onto 4 other bloggers

Thank you Signe for tagging me.

Thank you also to International Woman of Mystery for awarding me this......

I'd like to pass on the award to the two sweetest sisters anyone could wish for - Loulou May and Wee Jennie Wren

Hope you all have a lovely Christmassy week x x

(All pictures from We Heart It)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A gift from a wee bird

This week I was surprised by a late birthday gift arriving from my sweet sister in Australia. I tore open the envelope to find this lovely little package tied up with a pretty ribbon.

Inside were three packets of vintage crochet thread.

My sister definately knows what I like.

The trouble is they are too pretty to use but too pretty not to use! What would you make with these?

My sister has just started a new business called Wee Jennie Wren, customising basic kids clothing using recycled fabric. She'll be doing a guest post here soon. At the moment she's busy with Christmas orders.

Thank you Wee Jennie Wren x x

Monday, 13 December 2010

A walk around Badiola

On Saturday we finally had a dry day to get out for a decent walk around the village. It was a perfect crisp winter's afternoon, the light from the low winter sun bathed everything with a warm orange glow - perfect for taking pictures.

At the moment we are living with my in-laws just outside of the village of Badiola. The house we are renovating is in the centre of the village, near the church you can see in the pictures.

Have a good week everyone x x

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday Photo

This week I've been thinking about Christmas so todays photo is of some of the bits and pieces I've been using to decorate for the holidays. I love simple, natural style or homemade decorations and every year I add to my little collection.

This week I'm linking up with Rhonda's weekly 'This is on my mind' Friday Photo feature at her blog Down to Earth.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas Market

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Italy so we spent the day doing Christmassy things. In the morning we put up our Christmas decorations and in the afternoon we headed into Perugia to look round the Christmas market. The centre of Perugia looked beautiful all lit up.
We enjoyed a glass of mulled wine before joining the crowds in the market. There were some lovely things for sale and I got lots of inspiration but I wasn't tempted to buy anything. I didn't manage to get any pictures of the market as it was too busy and crowded to stop for long. Before going home we paid a visit to one of my favourite pasticcerias in Perugia for some hot chocolate. It's called Sandri and has been open since 1860. The interior is beautiful and they make all sorts of mouth watering pastries and chocolates. Going inside is like taking a step back in time.
Altogether it was a lovely day and I now feel much more Christmassy. What have you been doing to get into the Christmas spirit?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday Photo

Thanks for all of your advice on my last post - I've spent this week re-organising my home so that it's much easier for me to get things done. It's made a big difference.

I still had time to sit down with a pot of tea and some biscuits and finish off some sewing I started almost a year ago!

Which picture do you prefer? As usual, fire away with your opinions and ideas for improvement. I don't know if I'm getting any better but it's certainly encouraging to read your thoughts.

It's cold, wet and stormy here in Perugia so I think I'll be having a weekend by the fireside with my knitting. Hope you have a cosy weekend.

Sarah Elizabeth x x

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Can you help me please? Someone is stealing my time!

At this time of year I start to get a bit edgy and nervous. Christmas is only a few weeks away and my head is buzzing with all of the projects I have to complete. Also, at school we have Christmas shows to prepare and it's very stressful getting the little angels to memorise their parts and learn the songs.

My problem is time. I never seem to find the time to get everything done. And it's crazy! I have no children, I work only in the afternoons from 3 until 7.30pm, my mother-in-law does most of the cooking. Yet my work basket looks like this..........

(7 projects on the go and 0 finishes)

My washing basket is overflowing, the house is a mess, I have Christmas cards to make and send and I still haven't finished writing my thank-you letters from our wedding 4 months ago. I haven't done any work on our house renovation for weeks, I haven't read a book or watched t.v. I don't know where on earth my time disappears to.

So, I'm asking you my blogging friends for some help. How do you manage to get things done, raise families, craft, cook look after your homes, blog? What are your secrets of time management?

Have a productive week everyone x x

PS Thank you all for your kind birthday wishes last week. I had a lovely weekend with friends and family. I've now entered the last year of my twenties - only a year to go until the big 3 0!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Friday Photo

My husband is away in South Africa this week for work and has taken our camera with him so today I'm posting a photo from our wedding taken by the awesome Craig of McBeth photography. It's a picture of my place setting with a handmade origami crane and handmade name tag. I was so inspired by our photographer and hope to be able to take pictures even half as good as this one day.

It's my birthday tomorrow so I have a few fun things planned this weekend with some friends and family. I wish I was in South Africa with my hubby though! Have a great weekend everyone x x

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


On Sunday I faced my biggest test so far since undertaking my Challenge of the Utmost Kind - a trip to IKEA. We went with a friend who has just bought a new appartment, to help him transport his new furniture. I'm glad to say that I came out empty handed and was surprised to find that I wasn't even tempted to buy anything. In fact, the whole experience kind of annoyed me.

First of all, a trip to IKEA, in Italy (the 4th biggest consumer of IKEA products) on a Sunday afternoon, a month before Christmas is a bad idea. The place was heaving, people were fighting over spaces in the parking lot and getting tetchy in the customer services queue. After a certain amount of time I found a sofa in a quiet corner near the exit and waited until my friend was finished.

I sat there for about an hour watching all the people going out with trolleys full of stuff. I wondered what they would do with that stuff and how long it would be before they'd throw the stuff out and come back to buy more stuff.

IKEA has an image of being an environmentally conscious company, they use wood which is ethically sourced, have reduced the use of certain dangerous substances and have a growing range of recycled products for sale. However, I can't help but wonder how they are able to produce goods at such low costs and I'm sure that somebody somewhere is loosing out. In fact, they were placed on the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame by the International Labor Rights Forum.

Nonetheless, my main problem is not with IKEA itself, it's with the vast number of people who decide to throw out their existing perfectly functional furnishings to go out and buy cheap replacements from IKEA, completely re-doing their homes every few years. Do these people really think it will make them happy to go out on a Sunday afternoon and buy a new dinner set or new bedding, spending their hard-earned cash to replace something that they already have?

I'm not saying that I will never buy anything from IKEA, I think they have some really good products available (I love their wardrobes which have ways of keeping your clothes perfectly organised). However, anything I buy will be something which I think will last for a long time and that won't need to be replaced every few years.

Needless to say, it will be a while before I'll be making another trip to IKEA!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday Photo

Thank you so much for your comments on my first Friday Photo last week. Your kind words and suggestions encourage me and help me to improve.

Once again, any thoughts or suggestions on this weeks photo are very welcome.

This weekend we have a birthday party, a trip to Rome and a visit to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter film! Have a happy weekend everyone x x

Monday, 15 November 2010

Hooked on Crochet

We spent the whole weekend harvesting olives again and on Saturday night we had our first sample of the new oil from the olives we harvested last weekend. We toasted bread on the fire, added a smidge of garlic and salt and then drizzled it with olive oil. Buonissimo!

Despite being so busy the past few weeks I've still managed to fit in some crafty time. My mother-in-law has been teaching me how to crochet. At first it seemed like the most impossible thing. I tried to copy my mother-in-law's quick, neat turns of the hook but my fingers lacked any kind of coordination. However, once I decide I'm going to do something I don't give up until I succeed. So, I spent a whole evening in battle with the crochet hook and finally I got the hang of it. And now I'm hooked! Every spare minute I get my work out and do a few more rounds, I've even been dreaming of crochet!
I've spent hours looking online for patterns of things I can crochet. The only trouble is, since my mother-in-law taught me I now know how to crochet in Italian and these English patterns are all Greek to me!
Have a nice week x x

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday Photo

Since starting my blog a year ago I've been working on becoming a better photographer. I have a fairly good camera but so far have only scratched the surface of what it's able to do. So, I've decided to start a new weekly post where I can show a photo I've taken during the week. This will hopefully challenge me to take more photographs and to work on improving my technique. Any constructive criticism will be gratefully accepted!


Have a good weekend x x

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Challenge of the Utmost Kind - monthly update

I'm one month into my Challenge of the Utmost Kind inspired by Tif of Dottie Angel and I'm proud to say that in this month I haven't bought a single new thing. I satisfied my shopping urges by going to a local flea market and I've been working on my knitting so that I can hopefully soon provide myself with some of the clothes I need. I'm also learning to crochet. The next couple of months are going to be more difficult to get through with Christmas coming up. I haven't started making any of my Christmas presents yet and am a bit lacking in inspiration. If anyone has any ideas of things I can knit, sew or crochet for gifts then please let me know.

Finally, I wanted to share with you the latest video produced by The Story of Stuff Project. It has inspired me to keep going with my challenge.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Olive Harvest

This weekend I spent helping my mother-in-law's aunt, Zia V, to harvest her olives. Zia V is an incredible lady and an inspiration. At 85 years old she manages her farm and does the same work as a woman half her age.

My job is mainly to arrange the huge nets under the trees to catch the olives as they fall. My husband and father-in-law use machines, a bit like vibrating rakes, to shake the olives from the tree and then I gather the olives in the nets and tip them into crates. My favourite part though is to climb up the trees to pick out any olives they've missed.

The olive harvest is one of my favourite times of the year here in Italy. This weekend was warm and sunny so it was great to be able to spend so much time out of doors especially surrounded by such beautiful countryside of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards.

It's a sociable event. Friends and family come together to help out and enjoy gossiping as they work and then sharing a huge lunch together.

The work is extremely satisfying and the best part is that in a few weeks time we will be able to enjoy the delicious brand new olive oil. Can't wait!

Hope you all had a good weekend x x

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Steps towards a 'Simpler' Life

"Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things." ~ Elise Boulding

My buzz word at the moment is 'SIMPLIFY.' As well as undertaking my Challenge of an Utmost Kind I'm making a huge effort to 'simplify' my life, to become more self-sufficient and to make do with less. It's strange that the term 'simplify' is often used because I feel like the efforts of cooking from scratch, making homemade gifts, clothes, cleaning products etc. etc. makes my life far from simple! It's so much simpler just to pop to the supermarket and buy the most convenient products available. However, I'm sure that once I get into good habits and routines it will become easier and at the end of the day it's a far more satisfying way to live.

I thought I'd do a series of posts on what I'm doing to simplify or become more self-sufficient, to save money and to have less impact on the environment.

First up is cleaning. Now, I must say that I have a bit of a casual approach to housework and while I enjoy cleaning I don't believe that it's necessary or a good use of time to have a perfectly clean and spotless house all of the time. I've always used a multitude of chemical products for cleaning my home but recently it's become apparent that none of these products are necessary. My cleaning cupboard now consists of the following items:

1. Bicarbonate of soda
2. Savon de Marseille
3. White wine vinegar
4. Olive oil (made from our own olives)
5. Essential oil
6. A hand-knitted cloth

I love the tips on the uses of bicarbonate of soda on the box.....

My mum knitted me this dish cloth to put in my 'bottom drawer' before I got married!

These products meet most of my cleaning needs, are cheap and have a lower impact on the environment than chemical products.

The only cleaning products I now buy are washing detergent and washing up liquid. I experimented with making my own washing powder but wasn't convinced by the results. I need to experiment a bit with some different recipes and also find the ingredients I need to make my own washing up liquid. In the mean time I buy eco-products, a pretty expensive alternative.

This weekend I'm helping with the olive harvest so fingers crossed the weather stays as warm and sunny as it has been the past few days.

Hope you have a good weekend x x

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Star light star bright..........

I have been a bad blogger recently and not been posting as regularly as I'd like. Either I haven't been doing anything interesting to post about or I haven't managed to take photos of what I've been doing. So today, I'm cheating a little and posting some photos taken by my Darling Husband.

When we first met I was really attracted to my husband's love of the stars. He'd point out different stars in the sky, telling me their names and the legends behind them. It was very romantic! He loves taking pictures of the night sky and this weekend was very clear and he managed to get some pretty good shots.

In this picture, just between the trees, you can see clearly the constellation of the Corona Borealis (northern crown). The main stars form a semi-circular arc and in Greek mythology represent the crown belonging to Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.
The cluster of stars you can see in this shot is the Pleiades or 'Seven Sisters.' In Greek mythology the seven sisters were the seven daughters of Atlas.
A view of Perugia by night from behind our house.
Have a good week x x

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Thrifted chopping board

At the weekend I finally got round to cleaning up the chopping board I bought a few weeks ago. It took a lot of scrubbing with hot water and vinegar and then sanding down as there were some pretty deep cuts and scratches in the wood. It was well worth the effort however, the grain in the wood has come up really nicely and it was so much more satisfying than going out and buying a brand new chopping board.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Getting Knitty

The days are getting colder and the nights are drawing in, it's time to get my knitting needles out again. I like nothing more than knitting by the fire with a steaming mug of my aunt-in-laws homemade laurel tea.

I learned how to knit when I was about 8 years old and my skills haven't really progressed since then! I've only ever managed to knit things like this simple cowl..........

........or these very basic fingerless gloves.

I've never actually followed a knitting pattern, all those abbreviations scare me a bit (k2tog, psso, sk2p - what do they all mean???) However, if I'm going to succeed in my Challenge of the Utmost Kind, I decided that I need to work on improving my knitting skills so I can make myself something a bit more useful than gloves with no fingers!

So, I searched online to come up with an easy pattern I could follow. I thought I'd start with something really simple and work my way up. I came up with a dead easy pattern for slipper socks and at the weekend I completed the first one using wool which some friends gave me for my birthday almost a year ago.
It's a bit of a funny shape as I didn't have the right kind of wool or the right size of needles. However, it's cosy and comfy and I think very 'chic' in the granny way. Now, I just have to knit the other one..........