Make a little wreath using herbs

This morning a made a little cute wreath using some herbs from my balcony. I used oregano and thyme because it's that moment of the year when I need to start collecting them to dry them, so I can then use them through winter in my cooking.

What I made is really simple and definitely not perfect, but it's a sweet way to let your herbs dry.
You'll need just some wire and a few pieces of herbs. I used a quite thin wire I already had in the house and it makes it look light and airy.
Simply create a circle with a longer piece of wire, I made mine turning the wire 3 times so it was sturdy enough. Then put the circle on a table and arrange the pieces of herbs around it. It's important that when you cut your herbs you live a bit of branch on them so you don't end up using the wire on the leaves.
Using short pieces of wire simply block in place the your herbs, as you can see in the pic below.

Most of the oregano that I used is flowering and it makes the wreath even cuter. As you can see I didn't put too many pieces in it, so that I can do add more with time.

When the herbs are dry you can simply snipped them off without taking the structure apart.
This is what it looks like on our kitchen's wall.


It feels like a roller coaster

This morning I wake up to this amazing weather! So I felt full of energy and positivity. The weather really can make the difference, right?
Usually in this period of the year I slow down a lot, but this time is very different. I have so many new exciting projects coming in that need my full attention and so many ideas I want to try out that I feel a bit on a roller coaster. It's very nice to be full of projects and new ideas, but also a bit draining. I concentrate so much on work that yesterday I forgot to have lunch! And this to me is exceptional, I love food and I love cooking.

So at the moment I'm working on a new limited series of clutches. I found a lovely cotton a while back and when I saw it I knew I had to make small bags out of it. This is what they look like now.
I'll add a detachable strap so they can be used as cross-body bags too and I'm going to block print two of them and paint the other two. One of them is going to have a pineapple on it thanks to a special request from one of my clients who saw this pic on my Instagram (are you on Instagram?) and went for it. 

On a different note I'm not sure if you remember my little experiment with the avocado pit. Well he's doing great, look at this! It's so incredible to grow something from seeds, isn't it? It amaze me all the times. As a city dweller with only a balcony and terrace as outside space i do my best to grow as much as I can. We have many herbs and a potted lemon tree. Last year we had tomatoes and salad. Not much really, but the satisfaction is always huge! Do you grow any food? What's the best thing you ever grew yourself? 


Quick and healthy Italian pasta recipe

During the past weekend we spent most of our time at food markets. I did quite a bit of cooking and we read and relax a lot.
On Saturday for lunch I made one of my favourite pasta dishes for summer using aubergines (eggplants for my American friends) and fresh tomatoes. It's perfect in summer because both main ingredients are really tasty in this period and I love to eat "in season" food.
To make it for 2 people simply chop 1 red onion, one aubergine,  3/4 tomatoes and put them in a non sticking pan with a bit of extra-vergin olive oil for 20 minutes. If it looks it dries a bit to much add a bit of water. Cook the pasta in plenty do salted boiling water and when ready but still al dente add it to the sauce pan. Mix it together, add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese (or chopped mozzarella), a few olives and plenty of fresh basil. Ready!

A little secret: never cook Mediterreanean basil, add it always at the last moment and don't chop it with a knife. Simple tore it with your fingers. This prevents it from turning black and loosing some of the taste.


On a wall in my studio

I'm really lucky to have a small studio space thanks to my husband who very kindly offered me a room in his English school, I moved here in January and I can't believe the difference it made to me and my work to have a proper space for it instead of working from home. We live in a small apartment with our two furry friends who are great company, but not the best buddies to have around paper and ink.
I love the area of Milan (you can see it here) where the school is and I love the beautiful light that comes in my room.
When I settled down in my new studio space I decided to decorate one wall with handmade items and illustrations by friends and artists met on social medias and/or on Etsy.
Below I share with you a part of this wall and the talented people who made these pieces.

1 & 7 Blue Eggs and Tea.
2 Elizabeth Pawle
3 Nikki Miles
4 and smile
Nugget Says
6 claire hartigan
8 LouiseNormaStudio (it came with my gorgeous books tote)


weekly round up

This week was quite intense. I laugh a lot and cried a little.
I worked on new designs and products to get ready for Christmas (yes I know it's July!) and I managed to find time to spend on the terrace with our lovely furry friends, especially early in the morning with a big cup of coffee.
Lisa looking lovely

This morning I collected little flowers while walking to work and made this tiny floral arrangement that now sits on my desk.

I ate a lot of gelato, but don't have any pics to document that. I slept little because it started to get hot again and living on the top floor underneath the roof doesn't help.
I made a batch of unique thank you mini cards to go out with my next 20 orders.

This weekend is supposed to get even hotter so I'm planning to do as little as possible. This will involve a lot of reading, maybe some sketching, some more gelato and lots of cold showers.
What are you up to this weekend? Any plans?


Blog hop and a bit about what I do

I want to start off with a big thank you to Ruth from Blue Eggs and Tea who nominated me for a little blog hop. Ruth is an incredibly talented artist and an amazing human being. I met her on Twitter and I can say I found a new friend. I love her blog and her birds. You can find always something interesting over on her blog.

1. What am I working on?
At the moment I'm working on a few different things at the same time (I do this most of the time). Mainly I'm brainstorming ideas and sketching for a winter collection of patterns and prints and I'm block printing different fabrics to make new accessories for the shop.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is quite a difficult question. I think it has to do with my own sense of style and my inspiration. I like working with natural materials and combining unusual ones together with a minimal style. I draw inspiration from what surrounds me, especially small things, little details. Italy is a constant inspiration with its architecture, food and way of living.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
First because it makes me happy.
I like to experiment with different materials and tools and to offer simple, durable and original designs. I want to show that something can be eco-friendly and have a minimal modern style at the same time. I love using old techniques like block printing to create modern prints.

4. How does your writing/ creating process work?
Usually, everything starts from a little sketch. Some doodles may become patterns that  I will then use to print on different materials or sell as original illustrations. 
Patterns come first, products after. Each pattern/print speaks to me about a different product or a small line. I hand carve the patterns on printing blocks and print each item by hand.

For this blog hop I'm nominating Mary, a fellow creative with a beautiful blog. Check her shop here.


Our terrace is a jungle

I've always loved plants and even more so since moving to Milan.
The most important thing when we were looking for our first apartment to buy it was to have an outside space. Unfortunately gardens in the city are very rare and expensive so the next best thing was to have a terrace.

When we first moved to the house, we didn't have any money left to buy plants and all necessary stuff to make it nice. We saved and eventually started working on it.
I soon realised that there was not point in getting plants that needed shade or much water, so I turned to succulents, palm trees and Mediterranean shrubs. I wanted to make the best out of the conditions imposed by the climate. 

I sit on the terrace every morning (summer or winter) with a mug of Italian coffee. It's one of the things that make me really happy to do.

This morning I was sitting there as usual and I started sketching some of the leaves and plants I could see. Some of these sketches will become patterns for a new jungle themed collection of eco-friendly hand printed items: journals, totes, tea towels and more.


Enjoy the little things: myrtle branches, a traditional Italian little bowl and more.

This morning coming to the studio I passed by a florist kiosk and saw the guy trowing away some myrtle branches. Not sure what was wrong with them, I picked them up and now they look beautiful in my studio.

My studio is starting to look like a garden and I love it! Among the plants there is also this tiny spiky cactus.

One of the walls is starting to look like a tiny art gallery, I'm collecting different kind of handmade pieces made by some friends. This beautiful wooden disc (Nature is the best artist) is by NuggetSays and I love it so much!

A few days ago I bought some handmade paper, I'm planning to draw on this using some black ink, isn't gorgeous? It's an Himalayan Lokta Tissue. Amazing colour!

In our weekly thrifts hunt last weekend, my friend Giulia and I came across this lovely traditional tiny bowl from South Italy. It's going to be in StoriesTellers shop really soon.


Launching a new product and some behind the scenes

Today is the day.
I've been working on this launch for over a month.
I sketched a lot, practiced my sewing skills, picked the perfect linen among many, created new printing blocks, picked the inks and made 4 different design scarves. All printed by my two hands.
They're finally here and I'm super excited!

At the moment I have only 2 scarves available for each design, then each one will be a pre-order item and will be available again from middle September.

I would love to have your opinion about them, so please go and have a proper look at here.

I want to thank you my friend Giulia for the precious help (as a photographer and model) and the laughs!
Here a bit of behind the scenes for our shooting.
Giulia pretending to be a serious person!


my love for the sea: a personal kind of post

I've always loved the sea.
I love the smell of the salty water and the noise of the waves.
I love the sea in any season, especially after a storm.
I love the Mediterranean Sea, but I also love the Oceans.

My memories of the sea:
Sitting on a wooden platform on the Kerala coast in the middle of the night with fishermen telling stories about the sea and life.
On old ferryboats going from one small Greek island to a tiny one, the sprays of sea water in my face, feeling so free like for the first time (every time).
In the car travelling south and then you look on the left and suddenly the sea is there beside us, this surprises me every single time.

I'm a better person when I'm close to the sea. Is that possible?

the Irish Sea


weekly round up

This week was made of never loosing hope on you plants, a short train trip, a surprise ice-cream and other lovely little things.
My friend Giulia and I found this group of wood toys at a thrift market, perfect for our vintage shop StoriesTellers.
I used to play with them as a kid. They're made in Italy by Sevi (these ones are from early '70s) and I have so many lovely memories about them. I wish contemporary toys could be a little more like the old ones.
a thrift find you can buy here

A few weeks ago I discovered our lemon tree was under a serious attack by some really quite ugly insects. I decided to cut it down almost completely and I'm so happy it's coming back and looking beautiful! Never loose hope.
the flowers are going to smell gorgeous!

On Tuesday I had to go to Pavia, the town where I grew up. I had a lovely train trip. I love travelling by train. Love to look outside, read and listen to music. I find it super relaxing.
the area is full of rice fields (and mosquitoes!)

Our prickly pear is surprising us with more growth.

And a different but lovely kind of surprise was this ice-cream my husband brought me yesterday in the studio knowing that I was having a difficult long day.


what I love today

I made this collection on Etsy based on my love for blue, especially indigo. I find it a really interesting and understated elegant colour and beautiful when combined with a sandy tone.
Love these art pieces and that bracelet is in my wish-list. You can see each item clicking here.


some work in progress and a limited series of block printed canvases

In the last few days I experimented a lot combining materials that I usually use in different ways.
Watercolours on cardboard, white pens on wood panels and block printing on cotton canvases.
I felt in love with the latest combination and I made a tiny series of small block printed canvases. What I really like of these is the texture: where the ink meets the surface. Every time gives a different result. Each one is unique.



I was also busy picking colours to use on my new line of block printed scarves and at the end I'm going with these: blush, copper and black. The patterns will be geometric, but organic and I picked the most beautiful organic linen to use.

I created 4 new printing blocks, this one below is one in progress


plum and spearmint jam

This is my first post about food, I'm very excited and a bit afraid.
I love food and I love cooking, especially reinvented and modern Italian recipes.
Here you'll find some quick recipes for a light meal or snack and some more elaborate ones to prepare for friends and families.
I cook following the seasons and try to use local products as much as I can.

The other day I noticed we were out of jam and I had lots of plums, so I decide to make some jam!

It's the easiest thing ever. Chop some plums (they need to be nice and riped) and put them in a pan with some brown sugar and let it cook at a very low temperature for one hour.
During that time check consistency, the fruit should start to break and you my want to add a little bit of water.
At the very last moment add a bit of finely chopped mint (I grow lots of different kinds and my favourite for this jam is spearmint).

There you have your super natural plum jam!
If you want you can add some chopped almonds, they're lovely with the acidity of the plums.

a post about broccoli

Lately I've been very busy settling down in the new studio and packing Christmas orders, so I had a little time to prepare dinners. As some of you know I love cooking, I find it relaxing and I love having people over for dinner enjoying a home cooked meal. This morning I was looking around on Pinterest for some recipes and I fell in love with a few, so I decided to shared two with you.
These are based on my favourite veg: broccoli.

Broccoli by Ryo Takemasa

The first recipe is Broccoli Parmesan Fritters: quick and easy and a perfect way to get your kids eating vegetables! You can serve these as finger food at party, too. The recipe is by Smittenkitchen, an amazing food blog!

Broccoli Parmesan Fritters by Smittenkitchen

The second recipe has a strong Asian influence and it looks beautiful, perfect to get the wow factor at special dinners! This is by Mynewroots, check the link for more recipes and amazing photos.

Enoki, broccoli and kimchi by Mynewroots

Links to recipes in the captions

what I love today

I've always been a buyer on Etsy, even before I became a seller.
I love discovering new shops and going back to older ones. I love to meet the makers and the vintage dealers on social medias and chat about serious and silly stuff. The social part is actually my fave bit about it all.

I thought about sharing with you a collection I've made on Etsy featuring some really cool shops. I like curating these collections and share my favourites.

At the moment I'm really into black and white and minimalist patterns (as you can see from my recent work too) and always in love with simple wooden pieces.
Click here to see each product. You can see more of my collections on my Pinterest board here.

My fave this week

In love with black and white patterns, hands, hanging planters and large typographic posters.
I found these gems on Etsy, would love them in my home!

1. Pillow cover by bastisRIKE
2. Hanging planter by redravenstudios
3. Photograph with typography by Congostudio
4. Rose gold ring by datter
5. White cup by eeliethel

what I love today

A post about just some random things I love today. Simple and straightforward :)
amazing work by Susanna Bauer

succulents waking up after winter


inspiration bits from my terrace

a personal kind of post

This is a kind of personal post. Never wrote one before, I don't find it easy to talk about serious stuff, so please bear with me.
I can be described as an emotional kind of person. I laugh and cry a lot, usually for small things and many times out of the blue.
When I see an adult crying, my heart breaks.

Yesterday walking to the studio from home I saw a woman crying herself out sitting on a bench in a little garden. I stopped, wondering if I could help her, maybe somebody stole her bag? 
A man approached her and asked before I had the opportunity to do it. I got close to see if I could help. She said she was crying because she didn't know who she was. She couldn't remember.
At that moment my heart broke. The man wanted to call the police, I suggested to see if she had an ID with her or a phone. We got in contact with a woman she called many times and she came to pick her up: it was her daughter.

I spent the day thinking about this and after feeling really bad for a while I then felt happy. Happy because I felt lucky. Happy in a strange kind of way, happy with contrasting emotions. 

I meant to write a post about last week holidays, but I felt like I had to write about this instead. Not sure why.

some little things to be happy for

a little surprise and lots of flowers

A few weeks ago I started offering free shipping only during the weekend on something specific in my shop, my way of saying thank you to all of you who are following me on any of my social medias.

This weekend free shipping offer is on this original illustration, drew by me in 5 slightly different copies, still 3 available. It was inspired by my love for wild flowers, those little ones growing with no many needs and surprising us with their beauty. There is a little bit of hand lettering too, a simple and very true inspirational quote "little by little one walks far".

On  another note, but always having something to do with my love for plants, last weekend I went to a beautiful flowers market in an amazing location just beside my studio and I snapped a few pics with my iPhone. I came home with a lovely caper plant to add to my foodie plants.