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June 2017

Interior happiness

Mixing Flowers

Do you have a favorite flower?

Flowers can really brighten my day. You can usually find a vase with fresh flowers somewhere in our house. Years ago I preferred tulips. I used to buy a big bunch at the local market and put them in a big vase.

In June I buy peonies.  There are a bunch of different types, but I prefer the Paeonia Lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernard’. I am always sad, at the end of June, when they are no longer available.

For my family party, which will be in our yard, I tried mixing a few wild flowers, in pink and white shades.

This is the dianthus. I don’t like the big version (fortunately that is the only one!) , but the little ones are so cute, and they go so well in a bouquet of wild flowers.

 

This is the Saponaria, also called summer gypsum.

 

And the well-known Matricaria, or daisy.

 

I also added a bigger flower, but they are very strong and really last ten days or more: the Eustoma Lisianthus. In white and pink.

What do you think?

And I still stay in the tropical theme, with my cactus vases, some green pineapples and – so cute! – small candles in the shape of a cactus. All birthday gifts from very dear friends.

Stories

(Not) Driving a Mini

One of those days…

Last Friday was supposed to be a fun day. I was spoiled with a pedicure – a Mother’s Day gift, thanks, children! – and then drove off with Daughter to Ikea, looking for some vases for my outdoor family party. I actually bought salmon pink carafes, which can be used as a vase too… Filled with some wild flowers, it should give an instant summer feeling. But more on flowers next week.

Daughter and I enjoyed a quick lunch at Ikea. I chose some on-the-spot grilled scampi (almost looked like a fancy restaurant) with rice, veggies and a coconut curry. Then we went to pick up Youngest, who was coming home to study for the weekend.

I parked hubbie’s car next to the entrance of the dorm. When all the luggage was packed in the back of the car, I asked Youngest how his last exam went. He answered while I started the car, but his response was drowned out by a strange, scraping noise, and I felt something blocking me from moving forward. I stopped the car. “The bench!”, Youngest screamed. There is a wooden picnic bench placed next to the wall (not the ideal spot if you ask me). I had hit the bench, and now it was wedged between the car and the wall. We first tried to lift the bench. It wouldn’t move, and if we forced it, we’d make more scratches on the car (hubbie’s new car!). I stepped back in the car and tried to maneuver forward or backwards, but it was obvious that moving either way would bring more damage. I saw a woman across the street and asked her for screw drivers. Not a solution either–the screws of the bench were totally rusted. Continue Reading

Stories

Empty Nest

At the beginning of this school year, I was a little scared, dreading that new phase in life where all birdies will have flown out… The empty nest syndrome, yes! Youngest started college and would be living in another town during the week. Oldest was looking for a job, preferably abroad. And Daughter started her last year of studying, also living elsewhere. So it would just be hubbie and me on weekdays.

To comfort myself, I started listing the advantages of having more time and more freedom: less cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, ironing, tidying up and much more freedom for hobbies, courses, friends.

Very soon I realized the list with advantages was long. Filling up that extra time was easy.

With the school year now coming to an end, I can tell you I didn’t suffer from any syndrome at all.

While the weekdays are calm, the weekends are crowded. We always have extra guests, staying overnight in our finished basement. Oldest and Daughter have a steady girl/boyfriend, and they stay for lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast. And youngest likes to bring home a bunch of friends in the evenings.  A full nest, yes.  The birdies didn’t fly that far.

In one of my other posts I told you I wrote a diary for my children. If you still have young children, this is a very personal and special gift you can hand over to your children when they are older. We take so many (too many, if you ask me) pictures nowadays, that it becomes less special to look at. And a picture by itself doesn’t always tell enough. Written memories and stories are unique. I started writing when Oldest was four. As a young mother, I felt the urge to go back to my own childhood to compare how my parents dealt with raising children.  But it was hard to do.  My mother passed away when I was young, and memories fade so easily.  I decided it was important to capture both special and also day-to-day ordinary moments in my book. I didn’t have the time to write each day, just a page every few months: a few anecdotes, some achievements, but also events on a larger scale, how the world was changing and how things could have an impact on their lives in the future. Why we, as parents, made certain decisions, which often they could not understand being a child but hopefully would appreciate as grown-ups…. I printed a copy for each child, and gave it to them for their eighteenth birthday. They were so appreciative, very grateful, and loved rereading all those faraway memories.

Continue Reading

Interior happiness

Candle light

I am starting to prepare for a family party! Summer will be starting then, and I want to create those summer vibes.

My dear friend Leen is very creative. So we made it a pleasant work-together and talk-together afternoon, on our garden table with only the noise of chattering birds on the background.

What do you need?

  • Simple glass tea light holders, preferably all in the same size or shape
  • Napkins in the theme or the colors of your party, I chose green and pink shades
  • Wallpaper glue
  • A brush
  • Scissors
  • A plastic cover for your table
  • A good friend to help you

Leen had done this before, so she had the routine already. The first holders didn’t look too great, but after a few I got the hang of it. Best to put the glue on first, then carefully stick the paper to it. The bottom of the holder you can totally cover with paper – cut or fold it first and put enough glue on it. On the top you cut a few millimeters from the edge, and then you gently fold the paper over the rim.

Good luck!

 

 

Interior happiness, Puglia

La vera Sophia

We all know Sophia, right? La vera Sophia, the real Sophia? Sophia Loren indeed!

Even before we bought Casa Vita last year, my head was spinning with decorating ideas for it. The house came with furniture, but of course I wanted to make it more personal and more cozy. The living room was refurbished with some antique closets from home, a few self-made cushions, and the two big sofas upholstered with dark green velvet by Teresa.

The kitchen renovation had to wait until spring, so I could take my time. And that definitely worked out for the best.

In the two trulli, we couldn’t change much, they are authentic and unique with their big brick walls, but fortunately not much change was needed. I love the little niches in the wall where I could put the Madonna that I had saved from the attic of my parents home. I also put two pineapple lights in a niche in each trullo.

But in the newer, “normal” rooms, I had a blank slate.  My first plan was to put a large wall poster on one wall of each room. I would make the poster myself in Photoshop, and I had many scenes of old Italian movies in mind. Preferably in black and white. But Francesca gently pointed out to me, that wallpaper wouldn’t be a good idea, because of the humidity in Puglia.   So disappointing!  I had to come up with a new idea, and I wanted to stick to something typical Italian. So I thought of the pretty Italian actresses from the sixties: Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale. I spent a long time looking for pretty pictures with decent resolution of Sophia. To be honest,  I don’t find Sophia always that pretty, but these photos I found were atypical for her. Her hair is shorter than normal, and  her eyes have cool, even cold, way of looking into the lens. I put a filter on the pictures in Photoshop and added a shade of pink on top of them. I had them printed on Forex (a very light, sort of pressed plastic, material) by a company – Uw fotocadeau – here in Belgium. You can see the result on top.

Once the frames hung on the wall, the room was baptized “the Sophia Loren room.” It is a small cozy room with twin beds and a private bath. The rack, the bedside tables, and metal beds were all dark. When we were in Puglia in April, I painted everything white. It looks so much brighter and nicer now, don’t you think?