Tag Archives: creative

The Hive 2014

26 Mar

**UPDATE** the person who will receive my ticket for The Hive Blogging Conference is Anastasia from the blog Stilzitat.  Hope you have a great time and make sure to take lots of IG photos so that I can follow along!

Website BannerFor the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of attending The Hive Blogging Conference in Berlin (see my posts here and here).  It’s a yearly event, held in May, that brings some of Europe’s most successful and creative bloggers together to learn, network and just have an amazing time together.  On top of these week-ends being inspiring and creative, it was also my one week-end alone (sans kids and husband) in a big city.  So I can’t even explain to you how beneficial it was on so many levels for me personally.

I loved spending those week-ends listening to and learning from some of the most influential creatives in Europe and, most of all, meeting like-minded people.  Some of the ladies I met at The Hive have become good friends and who I keep in contact with, collaborate with and even meet up with in person.


This year The Hive decided to change things up a bit and host the event in the city famous for it’s gorgeous and modern design aesthetic, Copenhagen. After seeing photos of the beautiful venue, the list of talented speakers (Gudy from Eclectic Trends, Anne from Anne’s Kitchen and Allan from Bungalow Five to name a few) and the events and courses that are offered I think it’s going to turn out to be a pretty amazing week-end.hivespeakers

Back in the fall the conference’s founder and organiser Yvonne asked me to be The Hive trend-blogger for Italy.  I loved sending off those monthly reports on what’s hot and what’s not in the Italian blogging world.  And I have to admit that I learned a lot and discovered so many amazing Italian blogs, bloggers and creatives in the process.

Unfortunately this year I won’t be able to attend The Hive and I’m absolutely crushed.  I have my mother coming overseas from Canada to help me celebrate the fact that I’ll be turning….drum roll please…..40.  Yep, trying to keep my head high and my thoughts positive on that one.  I know it’s going to be a great new phase in my life (right?!).

So because I love The Hive and because I am entering my 40s I’d really love to give away my ticket (which I received in return for my trend-blogging work) to the 2 day conference that will take place the 17th and 18th of May (airfare, accommodation and other travel expenses are obviously not included!).  All you have to do is comment below and let me know why you’d like to attend.  Is it the networking, the workshops, the talks or the parties that attract you the most?  For me personally I’ll miss the opportunity to meet and chat with some favourite bloggers and participate in the calligraphy workshop run by the talented Betty Soldi.

Follow The Hive’s Facebook page to learn more about what’s happening in the coming months.

Hive Header 2014I’ll announce who will receive The Hive conference ticket next Wednesday on April 2nd (comments will close on Tuesday evening at 9pm Italy time!).


Vive La Difference

10 Feb

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had a lovely week-end and are ready to kick off this week with a spring in your step.  The weather over here today is grey and rainy which makes it a tad bit difficult to get too much of a spring in my step.  But I’m trying my best.

Today I’m over on the the London-based design blog Colour Living taking part in their Vive La Difference series.  Tina (the blogger behind Colour Living) sent me a list of themes and words in which I had to choose a few to interpret into a creative image.  Tina then created her own image using the same words as inspiration.

IMG_4153After reading the list I chose the words bookfabric and library.  Three things that I really love.  Click over to Colour Living to read all about my dream library as well as to see TIna’s interpretation (and inspiring description of her imaginary library). Thanks for having me Tina!

SuperCut Fabric Shop

9 Jan

As some of you may know, I love pretty fabrics of every kind.  I don’t drink.  I don’t do drugs.  I don’t smoke.  But I do love to buy (lots of) beautiful fabrics.  I have a gorgeous collection of materials that I have purchased all over the world and I use them on a daily basis.  I may use a new fabric right away or I may even save it for years before using it.  I often sit in my sewing room and look through my beloved materials and imagine what beautiful projects I could make with them (that’s what happens when you don’t have a TV).

Since living in Italy (for more than a decade) I’ve bought almost all of my fabrics outside of Italy.  I really searched for shops here that had beautiful fabrics but I just couldn’t find any that really appealed to my taste.  So after years of buying primarily in Canada (every time I return with a suitcase full), in Belgium (here is my favourite shop) and from Dutch online shops you can imagine how excited I was when I found out about the Italian online fabric shop SuperCut that is based out of the city of Bergamo.  I’ve always been a huge fan of supporting local small businesses so this was a great find for me.

The very sweet French owner Marine has excellent taste in fabrics and after going through her shop I realised that she picks out pretty much every fabric brand and design that I myself am so fond of.  It’s really a match made in heaven!  You can find fabrics from Liberty, Petit Pan, Echino, Kokka, Kitsch Kitchen and many more.  Marine stocks cottons, canvases, linens and even has a great selection of oilcloth and notions as well.  And SuperCut ships all over Europe.

Yesterday I ordered my first SuperCut fabrics and they actually arrived in my mailbox this afternoon.  I was like a kid at Christmas as I was opening the beautifully wrapped package.  And everything I ordered was perfect.  You can’t imagine how long I’ve been looking for fluo pink and yellow bias!

My lovely purchases

My lovely purchases

And as an added bonus many of the SuperCut fabrics are currently on sale (even the Echino and Kokka fabrics!).   So pop on over and take a look!

Internet Inspiration

1 Oct

Since I haven’t been able to do much of anything blog-related lately I thought I’d share some favourite projects, links and videos I’ve been enjoying on the internets lately:


Ever wonder what it would be like to buy an old factory in France and renovate it into an amazing designer house?  My friend Judith from the blog Joelix did just that and is letting us all take a virtual visit throughout.  So beautiful.

Another talented friend of mine Jennifer from the blog Classic Play just released her new PBS video series called Adventures in Learning.  These short videos are a full family project with her and her kids starring in them and her husband filming and producing them.  They are great fun to watch as a family and have the added bonus that they are educational!  Above is the video on stargazing and learning about the constellations.  Click here for the second video where they visit the local farmer’s market:


Here’s a great board to follow for all you Pinners out there.  The Mamas….Making Pinterest board is full of the most amazing and creative ideas for families of every kind.  Everything from kid’s art projects to family friendly recipes to sewing projects just for Mom.  And I’m proud to be part of it.

6a01156fdc946b970b019aff9f79ca970c-800wiI cam across this gorgeous purse made by Jane from the blog Buzzmills. It was one of her Selfish Sewing Week projects and I absolutely love her choice of fabrics, designs and colours. The pattern is the 241 Tote from Noodlehead.  I’ll be buying it to make with my weekly sewing group (and I have the perfect Japanese Echino fabrics to use!).

Some days you just need something silly to put a smile on your face.  This did it for me.   And it’s possible I even headed out to my chicken coop with my old fashioned ghetto-blaster and re-enacted the whole thing.

Summer Inspiration for Kids

1 Jul


Seeing as summer vacation is quickly approaching for my three kids I’ve been thinking a lot about meaningful ways to pass our time together this summer.  We’ll be away on vacation for a total of four weeks this summer which leaves us four additional weeks here at home.  We usually spend our days either at the beach or out discovering new walking trails or doing a quick trip into the city.  But there are definitely lots of moments where we find ourselves at home and I really want those moments to be enjoyable, fun, memorable and even maybe a little educational.

As I’ve said in the past I’m a big believer in letting kids be bored.  As you can read here even the experts are advising it.  When my kids get bored they get creative.  They dig out all the art supplies or the big box of lego and they get busy for hours on end (although I do admit that the “mama I’m bored!! moments leading up to this can be quite frustrating!).

This summer we decided as a family that there will be no computer/ipod before 6pm.  Our days will be spent reading, playing, swimming, baking, painting, writing, building, selling lemonade and whatever else they come up with.  The kids were on-board from the get-go and have already started thinking of special projects to pass their long, hot summer days.

Here are some of the projects that I’ve been thinking of proposing to the kids this summer:


These 26 art lessons that were created and curated by the super talented Deborah Harju are definitely on our list of projects to try out this summer.  Deborah not only includes step-by-step instructions for her projects but she also includes interesting and educational background information to the various methods, styles and artists that go with them.  I really can’t wait to try the Geometric Design with Islamic Art project, the Intro to Neo-Plasticism project and the Leaf Painting project (which involves a hammer!).  There are projects for kids of every age and ability.

DSCN4431Another great place for creative ideas is the blog One Bunting Away.  Giova is an avid and passionate snail-mailer and she includes lots of really beautiful tutorials  on her blog to make your snail mail more beautiful (I did a guest post in her Flat Project last month).  Projects like these will really motivate my kids (and me!) to write lots of letters to friends and family around the world this summer.  Plus, it’s a great way for my Dutch schooled kids to practice writing in English.  Some favourite projects that we’ll definitely be trying are the Accordian Envelope, the decorated poems and the felt envelopes (because we love to sew!).


This is also the summer that my kids are going to learn to cook and bake.  I’ve noticed that they are really starting to become interested in helping out in the kitchen and they often ask questions about what tastes go together or what foods are the healthiest to eat.  One of my daughters actually started baking on her own this past winter.  She has officially perfected her great grandmother’s biscuit recipe and I’ll admit that the fact she made them for me 10 times in a matter of 2 weeks has definitely motivated me to teach her some new recipes.  I love all the recipes found on Sheri Silver‘s blog called Donuts, Dresses and Dirt.  They are usually quite simple, don’t have long lists of ingredients and are healthy.  We’ll definitely be making the Sugar-free Honey Lemon Cake, the Fruit Leather and the Honeydew-Lime Ice Pops (above).


And lastly I have a list of Ted Talks for Kids for those moments when it’s just too hot to move or do anything or when they’re exhausted after a long day of tennis camp.  These Ted Talks are absolutely amazing, inspiring and very educational.  My kids have already watched a few and they were enthralled from the beginning to the end.  There are many talks given by adults on subjects such as Life in the Deep Oceans, Mathemagic (my kids loved this one) and Sketching Electronics.  There are also fascinating talks by kids such as Tavi Geninson who created a space where girls could find each other and redefine feminism or Sirena Huang who is an 11 year old professional violinist.  I know my son will be excited to see the talk by 12 year old Thomas Suarez who is a world renown APP developer.  Check out Ted Talks for Kids here and Ted Talks by kids here.

mg_9778And again this summer I’m going to make the kids an activity garland like I did last year.  It was a huge success with all three of them and they still talk about it often and ask when this summer’s garland will be finished.   I sewed up different sized pockets on a garland where I inserted various surprise activities for the kids such as a photo challenge, a wooden skewer architecture challenge and a recipe challenge to name a few.  They spent hours working together for these projects and at the end of the summer we made a little book with some of the finished projects and photos of the finished projects.  Check out last year’s post which explains it all here.

So let summer begin!  I’m ready.

Moroccan Pigment Painting

14 Mar

1-IMG_6298As some of you may know last month we spent a week visiting the beautiful country of Morocco (see my travel column about our time in the Atlas Mountains here).  While in Marrakesh we spent quite a bit of time wandering through the maze of souks (markets) and admiring all the various stalls and shops selling leather purses and slippers, ceramic bowls, carpets, jewelry, antiques and pretty much anything else you could ever desire.

One of our favorite shops to visit were the spice shops.  They were full of bottles upon bottles filled with every kind of spice and herb you could ever imagine.  The aroma these shops give off can be smelled from far away and is almost intoxicating while you’re actually inside.

At the shop above we bought little plastic sacks filled with freshly ground cumin (did you know in Morocco they put salt and cumin on the dining table instead of salt and pepper?), Moroccan 35 spice, the most intense yellow tumeric I’ve ever seen, Moroccan curry and the most amazing and pungent smelling cinnamon ever.  Since returning home I’ve tried all my spices and they are absolutely amazing.  They add so much  flavour to any dish.


But the most intriguing items we bought in one of these little spice shops were the coloured powdered pigments.  At first we had no idea what all the jars full of coloured water were but the kind shop owner Mohammed explained that these are pigments used for painting and dying clothing.  As a lover of bright colours and anything creative I decided to buy some to experiment with back home on a rainy day.  As luck would have it, the week after we arrived home we had a stay-at-home day and these pigments were the perfect activity to stay warm in front of the fireplace.

Mohammed told us to mix small amounts of the pigment powders with lemon juice.  I think the kids had just as much fun doing this than the actual painting.  The colours turned out so vibrant and reminiscent of the colours we saw everywhere in Morocco.


The paint has quite a different texture to normal paints and actually dries with a beautiful smooth and almost shiny finish.


It’s not often that these big kids of mine have time to sit down and paint for a morning like we did so often in the past.  I have to admit that I loved every single minute of it.

Folkabilly Apron #3

29 Jan

And another folkabilly apron has been made!  As some of you may remember, last year I received a stack of vintage apron patterns from my grandmother and I have a goal to slowly make them all.   This is the third pattern I’ve tried (others are here and here).  These patterns are relatively easy to follow and have the bonus of having all the pattern pieces pre-cut (amazing how much time that saves!).

This is a really pretty half-apron that is actually really flattering when on.   My sewing group and I decided to sew the red version seen on the pattern envelope below.


The pattern involves some patchwork, rickrack, bias edging and a shaped high waistband.  So feminine and pretty.

I used some cotton fabric my mother had brought me in the fall and the floral/stripe combination ended up matching beautifully.



If I had had more rickrack on hand I would have included at least two more rows of it. You can never have too much rickrack on a vintage apron my friends.

1-IMG_5653I’m going to send this apron to my grandmother who just turned 91 years old.  She may not cook too much anymore but I think she will appreciate it just the same.

Bij Tante Lief

11 Sep

This past summer while we were in Belgium we were invited to spend an afternoon in the ceramics studio of a very talented aunt of my husband.  Tante Lief has been making the most beautiful plates, bowls, platters, figurines and jewelry for years and every time I visit I fall more in love with everything she does.  I have bowls from Lief that I’ve been using for over 15 years and they’re still in perfect shape.

We arrived at their house mid-afternoon and the kids started playing with the clay within minutes.  In the end there were over 10 cousins busily modelling clay into the most beautiful creations.

All the kids had lots of ideas of what they wanted to make.  My daughters opted for chickens while my son a volcano (go figure).  Tante Lief was the perfect teacher and was busily running around from one kid to the next helping and giving tips.  Even though she had so many small kids in her studio she was relaxed as can be and the kids had the most wonderful afternoon (the adults as well).

After the sculpting we all took a break for some amazing home-made pizzas (thanks to Nonkel Jan!).  By the time we were done eating the pieces were dry enough to be painted.  There was lots of discussing and contemplating before the perfect colours were chosen.

After a fantastic day we all left and Tante Lief promised she would bake all of our pieces and get them to us as soon as she could.  And luckily for us she dropped by our house in Italy this past week-end and the kids got to see their finished creations for the first time.

 And they are proud!


28 Aug

One day last week my little guy Nico approached me and asked if we could do some wood work.  Always game to crack out my handy jigsaw I jumped at the chance.

We found some old pieces of wood from a previous project and Nico decided he wanted to draw a simple shape on the board to cut out with the saw.  He opted for a fish.

We put on our protective gloves and goggles and started sawing away.  It’s possible we even got a little carried away and sawed right into our outdoor wooden table (oops).  Oh and due to some reckless sawing the fish became more of an eye (that fish tail kept getting in the way anyway).

After he had his desired shape (sort of) he decided to paint it.  We got out some thick masking tape so that the lines would be well defined and got busy painting the different rings of colour.  Due to the 40 degree heat it took less than a minute for each colour to dry so we could continue with the painting without having to wait around too much.

We loved ripping off the masking tape to find beautiful crisp clear lines on our wood.  We continued the project off and on over the following days.  The sisters decided to get involved as well so we have a beautiful collection of painted wooden pieces at the moment.

I loved watching the thought process that went into the colour combinations and their concentration while painting.


After they had finished painting their lines they sprayed their wooden pieces with special varnish. That way if we leave them hanging outside the paint will be more protected against harsh weather. 

Nico’s tail-less fish.  Or eye.  Or whatever he wants it to be.

Doily Fairy Lights

15 Aug

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law and I were browsing through our favorite second hand shop and I came across a basket full of old vintage Belgian doilies (most were handmade lace and a few were crocheted) for anywhere from 10 cents to 50 cents a piece.  I grabbed a handful, paid less than 3 euro for them and took them home.

There were lots of questions as to what I was going to do with them (and the look on my husband’s face when I enthusiastically showed them was a mix of surprise and terror).  And to tell you the truth, at that point I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with them.  I just knew there was a project using doilies just waiting for me and I had to give it time to be become clear what it exactly was.  Yeah I know, I’m a nerd.

And sure enough a few weeks later I was rummaging through an old drawer and found a set of “naked” fairy lights.  I knew then and there what that pile of doilies was going to be made into.

I decided that I wanted the doilies to be slightly stiff so they wouldn’t hang so limply from the lights.  I didn’t have any starch of any kind so I made a mixture of normal white glue and water.  I then dipped the doilies in the mixture, squeezed out any excess and placed them on a wine glass to dry in a nice lampshade shape (this was all trial and error…I had no idea if it was going to work or not).

To my surprise (and joy) the next morning the doilies were all completely dry and stiff enough to hold the shape that I was looking for.I then had to snip the centres of the doilies in order to fit the little fairy lights through (some had holes big enough but most needed a little snip).  Once I had the fairy lights throught centre hole I hand sewed the doilies around the centre so that the light wouldn’t slip back through.

I find the final result really beautiful with all the different shades of white and cream, the different sizes of doilies and the various lace patterns.  In the evening it makes the most beautifully romantic shadows on all the surrounding walls.

I even included one that was made by my great grandmother.


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