3: the magic number!

Dear Olivia,
you turned “almost three” today! This is what you have been saying when asked…the concept of time is still a bit funnily confusing for you. This past year you have surprised us as we could have not possibly imagined. You moved to a new class at nursery, ditched the dummy, went through an overseas move, learned to use the potty, dealt with the arrival of your baby brother, started a new school, got your first haircut. And you did all this in such a natural way that we almost forgot you are only 3. Your life has been turned upside down and you have been dealing with things and behaving and growing as it was normal business. We were a bit distracted over the summer and all of a sudden we were looking at you and realising you had grown into a beautiful and funny and smart little lady. You make us laugh in a way no one does, you make us proud in a way no one else can understand, you keep learning and improving at a speed we cannot control, you keep changing in a way we feel lucky to witness. You are 3 today and we can only wish you to be the way you are for the rest of your life.
With love, mamma and papa’.

Why I love April

April is my favourite month of the year and I can give you 10 (maybe 9!) good reasons why it should be your favourite too.

  1. spring has officially started, whether the weather knows it or not
  2. end-of-winter blues are generally over
  3. the days are visibly longer
  4. the air smells good
  5. there is colour everywhere
  6. people have a positive attitude
  7. wool clothing is no longer around
  8. you can say hello to fresh food
  9. it is ok to have ice cream outside
  10. it is my birthday month J
And to celebrate the start of the month in style, we paid a visit to the RHS Gardens Wisley last Saturday. It was a bit windy, but nonetheless a beautiful day to be surrounded by nature and spend time with friends. The gardens were beautiful and in bloom; they truly are an English love affair! And while I was having a quick solitary stroll around my dream cottage (last picture below) and neatly laid flower beds, I reminded myself why I fell in love with botanical art so much since moving to England. The love and care for the plant world is visible at every corner, everything is perfect the way it is, and the peace that that brings to the soul is almost second to none; this is the same feeling I get when I work on a botanical painting. And I’m almost certain that the trip to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks’ time will be even better.
I’ll leave you with a few pics from last weekend.

My Personal Blogging Editorial Calendar

It has only been this year that I started to blog more regularly and started planning in advance my blog’s posts. The switch happened after reading an article from Kam of Campfire Chic in her ‘better blogging’ archive (this one). Before then, I never really thought myself as a blogger, and still don’t to be honest, but reality is I have been blogging since 2009 and that makes me a blogger. I don’t want to start talking about the reasons why I blog, that is a possible subject for another post, but I started to enjoy the weekly tasks, the coming up with a topic and, most of all, the record of things I have been building up during the past five years.

My editorial calendar is very simple and flexible. Since I’m using the Moleskine 12-month diaries this year, I have downloaded one of their free templates (the weekly notebook alternative template in pocket size, here). I have printed out 13 pages to cover the 52 weeks in a year and folded each in 3 pieces to nicely fit at the back of each monthly diary.

The tedious part was writing down the month/week/day on each page, but I did that while watching some tv and didn’t take too long after all.

Since my planning is more or less on a weekly basis, I tend to shift things around very often, especially is something comes up at the last minute and I want to blog about it. For this reason I use post-it notes, the index ones, as they perfectly fit in the space allocated for each day. I write down the topic and I stick it on the planner, and eventually move it around.

I was originally planning to use a colour coding system since I have some recurring topics I write about, like The Pick of the Month, the 52 project, and so on, but it wasn’t worth the effort so I just stuck to orange for the 52 project blog posts, which go live every (!) Monday and to green for all the posts that goes into my other blog SketchingIn Colour (Tuesdays and Thursdays only!).

So far this method has worked wonderfully for me; it gives me the flexibility and organisation I need to stick to my plans and gives me time to plan and schedule in advance, especially when I’m too busy or on holiday.

How do you plan your blog posts?

Pick of the Month: March // My favourite online shop

I casually discovered this amazing shop on Etsy, and I have fallen in love since! The first time I went through this shop I was very tempted to buy almost everything they had in stock, but that was because of my pregnancy hormones, and so glad I closed up the page and went back to it the day after with a much clearer mind (otherwise we would have been bankrupt by now!). I ordered a few essential pieces in one go, much needed because of my 4-month-pregnant belly! And if you are wondering if this is a maternity shop, my answer is NO! but because of their loose designs, most of their dresses can easily house a growing belly and to me it is a relief buying clothes that can be also worn after the baby is out.
So far I have ordered quite a few pieces, dresses and blouses, and I’m so pleased with the tailoring, the fitting and the price. Just check the size of their model before ordering to make sure it fits your height (I’m petite and the length of the dresses was perfect).

PS: This is not a sponsored post in anyway. I just love this shop and wanted to share it.

Happy Valentine’s Day

To all the lovely people out there: Happy Valentine’s Day…whether you celebrate the day or not, whether you are in love with someone or with yourself,  whether you are just looking forward to the weekend or hoping today will pass quickly! 

Pick of the Month: January // Mother-to-be essentials: First Trimester

1. Olio 9 mesi from Weleda / 2. Morning sickness relief from Sea-band / 3. Quando arriva un fratellino by Nicoletta Costa on Amazon / 4. Yoga for pregnancy, birth and beyond Francoise Barbira Freedman on Amazon / 5. Homeopathy Chamomilla (30c) from Helios / 6. Decaffeinated Arabica Caffe from Lavazza / 7. Classic Brogues from Benetton / 8. Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt Dress from Uniqlo / 9. Travel socks from M&S.

I promise I’m not going to talk about pregnancy and babies too much this year, but this month I finally entered my second trimester and I just wanted to sum up all the things that made me feel better, physically and mentally, during these first three months.
The Weleda body oil for pregnancy has been a favourite of mine during my first pregnancy, so I’m using it again this second time around. I love the smell and the consistency, and the fact that it gets absorbed relatively quickly. I didn’t get any stretchmarks the first time, and I like to think that it was because I applied this oil everyday, almost religiously.
The morning sickness bands were fortunately used only for a week or so. I didn’t get any proper morning sickness, but a bad heart burn and a bit of nausea.
I’m planning to buy a book on how to explain to my two-year old what is going to happen in July and after that, and I’m hoping this book will help to cope with a toddler and a newborn (wish me luck here!).
This yoga book is done ever so well; I’ve used it last time too and planning to go back at it as soon as I manage to fit it in into my daily routine.
These little pearls of chamomile were a great deal during the first trimester. Emotions were up and down, especially in the evening, and these helped loads to find some balance and restore some calm.
The decaffeinated coffee is one of the things that I can’t get over easily! I love my morning caffeinated coffee, but for the sake of the baby (and the family!), we are all drinking decaf and so we’ll keep doing probably for the next year or so.
I bought a new pair of flat brogues for the office. Physical balance is one thing I seem to lose during pregnancy, so before falling on the pavement, I thought it was a good idea to get some comfy shoes.
The shirt dress was a great disguise of my growing belly during the Christmas holidays when we still hadn’t told anyone. Now is just a perfect maternity dress for the weekend…and there still room to grow into it!
The travel socks are as ugly as they can be, but if you are stuck to a desk for more than 8 hours, they are a must for your tired legs.

I’m hoping this list will be helpful to other as it has been to me.

Pick of the Month: December // Merry & Red

1. Knitted Tunic Dress from Purplish London/ 2. Macbook Pro 13” Case from MadeByJulie on Etsy / 3. Box Flannel Shirt from VANS on Two Seasons/ 4. Chilli Pepper Mohican Shoes from VANS on Two Seasons/ 5. Colour-a-Months 2014 Daily Diary from Moleskine on Amazon.co.uk / 6. Red Chunky Waffle Capped Gloves  from Accessorize/ 7. Arpillera cardigan from Peruvian kids/8. Chicken shirt from White Stuff/ 9. Racoon Pyjamas from Mothercare
It’s almost Christmas, time for presents and some rewarding shopping. We (read I) have actually bought all of the above, in time for our upcoming trip to Italy. Lots of red for this year’s holiday season! The red shoes might be a bit too much, but they are my favourite and add some colour into my plain daily life. My little one has recently developed an obsession for a green Peruvian cardigan (I’m not joking; she won’t even take it off for the night!). And so I bought her another one in orange, but should have really picked a red one to stay in tune with the season. And can you see the Moleskine set in the middle? That is my Christmas present, kindly offered by my other half…following several reminders. Feeling already festive and jolly for the holidays.

End of the year ramblings

This year has been a good year. I opened an Etsy shop, I joined a few monthly projects, I completed the “oneportrait of my child, once a week, every week” challenge, I experimented. And I discovered a few interesting thing about what I love, like and dislike. I happily discovered that I like taking pictures with my Iphone and posting them on Instagram or on the blog. I like getting mini albums of events, or years, printed out. But I’m not a scrapbooker. As much as I admire those who are, it’s not in my genes, it doesn’t come natural to me. I love making notebooks, my favourites have been watercolour sketchbookswith a fabric cover. I also very recently discovered journaling, but not the traditional way, meaning keeping a diary and just write things (I’m not good at writing!). I prefer keeping a visual journal, with drawings, doodles, stamps and small daily facts or notes, or just birthdays’ reminders. I love, and mean LOVE, botanical art. It is my passion, but it is something that requires practice and time, which I don’t seem to have these days. I like sketching when on holiday or outdoor, but this year somehow I didn’t put enough effort towards it and ended up with very few sketches. I discovered rubber stamping and loving it so far. We’ll see if it will be another temporary thing or something that will stick. I discovered a lot of new artists and bloggers, and to name a few Oana Befort, Golly Bard and Jennine Zlatkis. If you happen to not know them, they are all artists whose work is inspired by nature and the animal world, and although they have very different styles, there is something in their work that makes me want to paint like them. Because I do love painting, and watercolour is my number one medium. But what I lack in, is the ideas, the coming up with a design or composition, the thinking behind a painting. And that’s where I struggle. I can copy, replicate, but very rarely I can come up with something original. Art tutors and teachers always say that copying somebody else’s work we admire is an excellent exercise for finding your own style, but to me it feels like cheating. And that is exactly what has happened to me during this past year. I’ve jumped from one thing to another, following the trend of the moment and thinking that if other people have succeeded in that particular field, I could too. But what I had not considered at all, is the lack of passion when doing something and sharing it with others. You can instantly tell if things are done to just try to make money or because they have been given some love and you have truly believed in them. And that is exactly what has happened to me this year. And it’s a good thing because now I know more about my strengths, and recognised some of my weaknesses. There’s still a lot of work I need to do, but I’m hoping all this work will get me somewhere.  

Pick of the Month: November // Warm and cosy

1. Wooden Crate Cabinets (9 Drawers) from truffula forest / 2. Birdie Print Weekender Bag from Accessorize / 3. Hand.Book Journal Square Sketchbook from CASS ART / 4. Print Leggings Trousers from Uniqlo / 5. Chunky Long Snoodfrom Accessorize / 6. Fleece Full-Zip Long Sleeve Jacket from Uniqlo / 7. Baby Body Warm Lite Full-Zip Parka from Uniqlo / 8. Garden Path Bootiesfrom Anthropologie / 9. Willow Catkins Botanical Giclee Art Print by Golly Bard on Etsy
November, November, November. It is amongst my least favourite months. The clock has just changed to winter time, the days are noticeably shorter by the day, the weather sucks and the Christmas holidays are still far away. But on the positive note, November is my other half’s birthday month, so we get to celebrate, it only has 30 days, so it feels less long, it brings up beautiful colours, and a lot of inspiration, it’s the month to make things and to start prepping up for December. xxx

Pick of the Month: October // Toddler Nursery Essentials

1. Shirt with lace from Zara / 2. Fine-knit cardigan from H&M / 3. T-shirt with floral applique from Zara / 4. Corduroy trousers from Zara / 5. Leggings from H&M / 6. Checked trousers from Zara / 7. Desert Boot s in Black Suede from Clarks / 8. Wellies from Mothercare/ 9. Etnies Visor Beanie Blue/Grey from tkmaxx.

Another month, another wardrobe update for my fast growing girl. Shopping is fun when you buy clothes for a toddler girl; there is so much to choose from and prices are still manageable. She loves patterns, like her mama, and comfortable clothes to run around and climb on things (I caught her jumping on a chair last week at nursery!). There are still a few things she’s going to need for the winter, but these basics will keep her warm and cute.