Saturday, 19 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Ten

10. Family

Last but certainly not least on my happiness list is my family. I enjoy every minute I spend with my family. They're so much fun and we always have such crazy times together.

This picture was taken on New Year's Eve 2008, the last time we were all together. (Excuse the slightly tipsy looks, it was New Year's Eve after all!) I can't wait until this Summer when we'll all be together again for my wedding.

Today I'm leaving for a 2 week summer camp in Torre Alfina, a little town in our neighbouring region of Lazio. It's a fun camp filled with English activities, theatre, sports, swimming and excursions. When the camp is finished I'm heading straight off to Scotland where I'll be until after our wedding. I won't have much time for blogging over the next 2 weeks but will be back once I arrive in Scotland. It's going to be one great Summer!

Things that Make me Happy Part Nine

9. House Renovations

The renovation of our house is a source of great happiness for Matteo and I. It's a wondeful feeling to be rebuilding this home that has been in Matteo's family for such a long time. The work is slow to get started which is extremely frustrating at times but I have to keep focused on my vision for the house and enjoy the whole experience of the renovation.

The most recent development was knocking down the dividing wall in the kitchen to expose the original arch. Now we can get a real sense of the proportions of our kitchen and start to get a better idea of how the room will be.

Here is the kitchen before, so dark and dingy:

And now with the arch exposed, it's so much lighter:

It may be a small step but it's a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Eight

8. Discovering new places

For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of travelling the world and experiencing different cultures and languages. I never wanted to simply visit other countries however, I always wanted to actually live and work abroad. I lived for a year on the French island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies, I then lived for a year in Nice on the Cote d'Azur and now I've spent the past 3 years living in Italy. It's time now for me to stop my exploring and settle down in one place although part of me does still dream of packing up and moving to yet another country. For now, I'm happy discovering as much as I can about this beautiful country I live in. I love going to visit all the little towns and villages round about and learning about their local traditions and customs.

One such tradition we experienced for the third time last weekend when we visited the nearby town of Spello for their annual 'Infiorata' festival which is held on Corpus Domini Sunday. During the months leading up to the event the inhabitants of Spello collect flowers which they then use to create the most amazing and intricate pictures on the streets of Spello. The night before the festival teams of these flower artists stay up all night preparing these 'paintings' ready for viewing the next morning. From afar the pictures actually look like paintings and it's only on closer inspection that you can see the images are made up of flower petals. Walking around during the night watching families and neighbours work together to prepare their works of art you can sense a great atmosphere of camaraderie and team spirit. Old signore sit in doorways preparing the petals, little children sort the petals into colours, everyone has a job to do.

On the Sunday morning Spello fills with visitors come to admire the beautiful images. Then, when the 12noon bell tolls a procession leaves the cathedral at the top of the hill. The procession winds down through the cobbled streets of Spello, destroying the delicate flower paintings. It is such a strange and wonderful celebration and one of the many things I love about being here in Italy.

Even without the streets decorated with flower art Spello is a beautiful town. The inhabitants obviously take real pride in maintaining their homes and taking care of their gardens. The streets are lined with pots and hanging baskets filled with colourful blooms and the air is heavy with the scent of jasmine, my favourite flower.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Seven

7. Random Pretty Things

"The man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest"

Henry David Thoreau

I'm one of those lucky people who can be content with very little. Just a glimpse of something pretty and I can be overwhelmed with a feeling of contented happiness; blossom on the trees in Spring time, freshly laundered sheets on the bed, washing on the line blowing gently in the breeze, a bowl of ripe cherries newly picked from the garden............. I love these moments of pure joy that can come so suddenly and unexpectedly. Yesterday I sat looking at this bowl of cherries for such a long time and it made my heart sing!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Six

6. Home

Although I love living in Italy, I will always consider the Border Land of Scotland as my real home.

"There's a spell in this Land of the Marches
In this Border that gave us our birth,
In this spot where the heaven's wide arch is,
Spread blue o'er the best of the earth!
'Tis the shrine where our hearts keep returning,
Wherever our feet may be led;
All our love on that alter lie burning,
All our song-wreaths around it are spread!"

The Land we Love by W. H. Ogilvie

These photos were taken just after Matteo proposed to me last Easter on a hill top looking down on the farm where I was brought up and which will always be my true home.

Monday, 7 June 2010


I recently came across this parasol from here and am swithering whether or not to buy it for my wedding. I really really want it! And, it's called 'Sarah Elizabeth!' However, I'm not sure if a parasol is really necessary in Scotland - I'm more likely to need an umbrella!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Five

5. Beautiful Photography

I have always loved beautiful photographs but it's only since I started blogging that I have begun to take a more serious interest and try to learn how to use a camera myself. Today we went to an exhibition of the work of Steve McCurry at the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria. His photography is so breathtaking, not just because the photographs themselves were beautiful but because of the incredible stories that they tell. I felt extremely moved by the whole exhibition and I now feel even more inspired and determined to continue with my newest passion.

'Afghan Girl' by Steve McCurry

Friday, 4 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Four

4. Children

Today was the last day of school for me which involved a few teary goodbyes with some of the children I've been teaching for the past 3 years. Next year they will move on to another teacher and I'll only see them occasionally around the school. This is a part of teaching that I'll never get used to. I love working with children and although at times I find my job exhausting and stressful it gives me a lot of satisfaction too. I'm already full of ideas for the next school year.

This is is where I spend my days singing the 'Hokey Cokey,' playing 'What time is it Mr Wolf?' painting, baking and generally having fun.

Have a good weekend everyone xx

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Three

3. My Fiancee

Since it's his birthday today I thought it was a good day to post about Matteo, my soon to be husband. We met three years ago on a night out when I first arrived in Perugia. This is what I wrote in my journal the day after we met for the first time, "Matteo is one of the nicest and hottest guys I've ever met - unfortunatley way out of my league!"

I still can't believe that I'm getting married to this gorgeous, kind man. He would do anything for me - he even spent hours trailing round Perugia to help me look for the right ribbon for our wedding invitations without complaining. I don't know many men who could do that.

These pictures were taken by Matteo's sister at the nearby Lago di Bolsena, just a few months after Matteo and I got together. I love these pictures and think that they sum up our relationship perfectly - a mixture of romance and silliness (we were doing the dance of the crab in the lake!)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part Two

2. Making Things

Both of my parents taught me the value of making something from virtually nothing. My mum taught me how to sew and knit and do various other crafts and my thrifty dad is often to be found with a hammer and nails or a piece of string trying to find a way to fix something that is broken. Whatever the project I take great satisfaction from creating something new whether it be making something with the kids at school, baking a cake, sewing or making wedding invitations!

Unfortunately I can't claim to be particularly talented at any of these crafts as I'm not able to concentrate on any one project at a time. I'm a bit of a 'Jack of all trades, Master of none'!

At the moment apart from making my wedding stationery I'm busy stitching a gift for a very special little flower fairy. It's supposed to be a secret though so this is just a wee sneaky peak!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Things that Make me Happy Part One

I was thrilled last week to receive the Happy 101 award from the lovely Flick of Everyday Chick. I love reading her blog which is full of the adventures she regularly embarks on with her family in Perth, Australia.

The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the award giver (Thanks Flick!)
2. List 10 things that make you happy.
3. Pass this award on to 5 others.

I'm going to divide the 10 things that make me happy into 10 individual posts over the next few days otherwise this post will end up being too long. I could ramble for hours about the things that make me happy!

1. Books

I devour them! I am at my happiest when sitting curled up in a corner or in a sunny spot somewhere with a good book. I love the look, smell and feel of them. I spend hours of my life browsing in book shops. I love any kind of book; novels, cook books, children's books, second-hand books, library books. I have wonderful memories of visiting the local library when I was a child and choosing a pile of books to take home. I've just finished reading The Garden Cottage Diaries by Fiona J Houston. It's a wonderful account of this inspiring lady's year living in the way of her eighteenth century rural Scottish ancestors. She recreated their lifestyle in a one bedroom cottage, surviving only on what she grew in her own garden or collected from the wild. It's full of ideas of how to live a more simple and self-sufficient life. I admire her determination and resourcefulness.

I'd like to pass this award onto 5 bloggers who I can always rely on to make me smile.

1. Rebecca at Daydreams in Lace for her lovely diy wedding ideas
2. Tammy at Sugo and Sunshine for her witty observations on life in Italy
3. Cathy at From Australia to Italy for being another foreigner marrying an Italian
4. Sara in Le Petit Village for bringing me a little part of the South of France
5. Laura May at Home Sweet Home for being my 41st follower!

Thank you again Flick for passing this award onto me. xx