Another trip to a local mercatino usato (2nd hand shop). I wanted to show my mom what they’re like here in Italy and she was amazed at all the great finds. The shop was full of antique dressers with marble tops and carved wood detailing (30euros), little matching wooden bedside cupboards (20euros), antique desks(70euros), pianos(500euros), tables, beds, closets and more. So many great finds for such amazing prices. Most of these items would be found in high end Antique Shops in Canada with high price tags on them. And strangely enough the high priced items are the exact ones I absolutely would never purchase (used IKEA furniture, horrible “bedroom sets”, pressed wood cupboards etc).
This time I came home with an amazing old solid wooden table with no woodworm in sight. It’s perfect for my front entryway – a place to dump keys and cameras and papers. The underside of the table is full of old rusty hooks which I assume were used to hang pots and pans or tools. Maybe even to dry fresh pasta dough? A good scrubbing and a fresh coat of paint was all that was needed.
Here it is in it’s new home. Not a bad table for 25 euro.
I have a theory about chickens that I’ve come up with over the past years being a chicken owner. Here it is. The uglier the chicken is, the more beautiful it’s eggs are. The photo above is of Poppy. Poppy is a Marans chicken and has been with us for over a year and she lays the most beautiful bordeaux red eggs. But let’s be honest, she is…..ugly. Many people don’t realise that it’s possible to have a chicken with a nice looking face but it indeed is. We once had a chicken named Delphinium and she had a very sweet face and a lovely disposition (I can hear you laughing).
Poppy is a wide chicken as well (read obese). She can’t fly. She’s missing quite a few feathers on her neck (thanks to her roommates). And she spends her days pecking at my kitchen window trying to get at the bowl of cat food inside. But we don’t mind. We love her just the same and appreciate her beautiful eggs every single day.
Today we went on a hike in the local mountains. It was a beautiful clear day and actually very hot (the season to complain about it being too cold has officially closed and we’re heading into the season to complain about the heat). It was actually above 30 degrees at the top of the mountain! Wasn’t it just last week that I was obsessed with the coldest temps I’ve ever felt in Italy? In any case it was wonderfully perfect day for a hike. The kids practically ran the entire 4 hour up and down hike. The part of the hike that goes across a seriously vertigo-inducing knife edge was quite scary for this mama of 3 energetic little hikers though. And the views were unbelievable. You could see all of the local lakes, Milano in the far distance and the Swiss border and Alps in the near distance. And all this was a 45 minute drive from my front door! Love where you live. And I do.
Looking down Lago Maggiore towards Intra/Verbania.
Looking up Lago Maggiore towards Switzerland.
The traditional “cross at the top” shot and our picnic spot. Notice little box where there is a log book for everyone to sign.
It’s a little overcast today. The kids are home on vacation for the settimana bianca. My mom is visiting. My friend brought me buttermilk from France. I had a craving for chocolate. All of these are perfect excuses to make a good cake. I found this recipe on the joy of baking website and I tweaked it ever so slightly (adding half sour cream and half buttermilk). As always it’s really simple and the result so yummy. I made the mistake of asking the kids if they want a piece of coffee cake and they all bolted while making gagging noises. I guess they don’t understand that there’s no coffee in it. Oh well. All the more for us.
And can I just talk for a second about the combination of cinnamon with chocolate? It’s just so…harmonious together. The cinnamon really deepens the richness of the dark chocolate I used. It gives it a little umph if you know what I mean. I had to google the spelling of umph. Get recipe here.
The other day we decided a trip up the lake to the Alessi Factory Shop in Omegna was in order. I was thinking that Alessi products would be the ideal gift to take to friends in Japan. Italian-made funky design…how can you go wrong? Personally, I’d be happy to never see another round metal Alessi tray with the traditional little man cutouts though…
You can see that you’re approaching the outlet by the oversized sculptures of random kitchen appliances that you can find on the side of the roads.
Look…a 6 foot coffee pot just hanging out on a building ledge.
And a maxi-sized teapot at the factory entrance.
And I’m pretty sure this an over-sized version of the Alessi toilet plunger. But I could be wrong.
Not long ago I was rummaging through my mansarda (attic) and I came across an old frame with a portrait of an elderly woman in it. It must have been taken in the 1920′s or 1930′s. I wanted the frame for another project so I took out the old portrait and in between the portrait and the wooden backing I found this really bizarre photo of a couple of oxen (I love oxen!). It’s old and the paper is really faded and brittle but I really love this photo. It’s now hanging above my sewing machine and I find myself gazing at it often. Maybe these cows used to live in what is now my garden. Or maybe those cows that live at the cheese farm down the street are the great-great-great-great grandcows of these ones here in the photo. Yeah…my kids like that story.
A few days ago my mom arrived in Italy with a suitcase full of beautiful materials and a stack of vintage apron patterns that used to belong to my grandmother. I’ve fallen in love with almost all of them and I will be definitely making some of them in the coming months. It’s fun to see how beautiful women used to look in the kitchen with all those fancy aprons. No yoga pants and sweatshirts to be seen in those days. Look how dainty they all are! Ruffled apron skirts, scalloped edges, embroidered pockets, quilted panels, lace edging and miniature pleats. I just love all the little details. You can also see the prices on all of them…they ranged from 25 cents to 40 cents. What a bargain!
It’s almost that Carnival time of year again. Soon the streets will be filled with confetti, paper streamers and spray string (I hate that stuff). Already all the bakeries have overflowing trays of freshly baked (fried) chiacchere. There will be kids wandering the towns and cities dressed up as princesses, pirates, clowns, soldiers, cowboys and knights. It’s an exciting time of year for Italian kids. Lots of festas and even a day or two off school.
Amazingly enough one of my children actually wanted to wear the cloak that I made. She was even excited about it. In the end I did manage to hem it and it looks like a grade nine student Home Ec project. As I was doing the last iron to make it look as good as possible (considering) I managed to melt part of the sleeve. Gotta love those synthetic fabrics. I told her not to let anyone approach the cloak for close inspection.
My sunset view while waiting for the kids to finish up their tennis lesson.