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