Winter in Chianti/2: bags & more

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Most of our guests ask: “What do you do in winter time?”

Laura’s answer is: “Sewing, sewing, sewing: I think that I am close to be addicted to sewing now!  This is my winter 2011 discovery!”

But it is not my fault completely. I have been meeting so many ladies, guests at the B&B Ancora del Chianti, and friends all around the world that introduced me to the secret delight of sewing. They showed me their works and tutorials and most important, they explained what sewing meant for them.

Everything was so tempting that I had to experience myself and ….my curiosity has been rewarded.

While I was wandering on a rainy day in Bordeaux, France, I found this remnant of upholstery textile in a dusty and dark shop and it was love at first sight.

When I came back home at our friends’, I reported about my shopping and my projects to Julie, our lovely French host. Surprisingly she confessed her passion for sewing and showed me her last works. I could not believe that sewing addiction was so contagious!

Once back home in Greve in Chianti, I spent about a week of intense work in the tranquillity of the winter Chianti countryside in order to understand how to make a bag out of a flat piece of textile. I must admit that I have been doing several experiments (doing and a lot of ….. undoing) but I made it and in the end Lola came to life.

Lola is my first handmade bag and I am so proud of it. It is always by my side, as a good friend.

More pictures on our Flickr Page

Lavender & Butterfly

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Lavender is a blue explosion in the garden of Ancora del Chianti.

Lavender is a very strong plant ideal for Mediterranean climate. It need little water or none and can bear the wind very well. It loves dry and hot weather. It prefers a sunny place in the garden: sounth – west exposition is perfect.  It can be prune in different shapes: round shape is usually the most popular and scenic. Lines of lavender is also a very good option for an empty edge in the garden like a blue scented ocean.

The smell is also amazing and is long lasting. It is an evocative pleasure to smell of lavander in winter time when opening a drawer: it reminds you of summer and hot weather. The smell is so relaxing for me that I smell a sachet of lavender when lying in bed reading, just before falling asleep.

Once you cut lavender you can prepare nice bouquet with a decorative ribbon. On my opinion for such a simple and a country flowers semplicity is a winning strategy: follow the same range of natural colours and natural materials. You will be delighted. Here an example of hanging bouquet, perfect for outdoor or indoor. Typical to put them in a line on a cane in the livingroom or bathroom.

For a simpler and more discrete use, you can prepare lavander sachets. I love to recycle old piece of textile and ribbons. I keep on preparing all year round and then in summer I can fill them all. I also prepare little origami boxes with nice left over of wrapping paper. Just match the box with the right colour of sachets and you have a perfect little home made gift to offer.

Lavender attracts a lot os insects: butterflies, bees, wasps, and many others. In the morning and late afternoon is a ” Bzzing” blue universe. They move from a flower to the other very frenetically. They seem charmed by the colour and captivated by the smell. So do we.

More pictures on our Flickrs Page.

Whreath & Vines

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What to do when your husband is pruning? Prepare some nice wreaths!!!

This is what I have been doing in the last weeks as Filippo was pruning the vineyard and the olive trees. Fruit trees turned out also to be suitable for wreaths and very nice colours.

Usually Filippo starts to prune in wintertime. This year it has been particulary cold and rainy weather and he could not start pruning untill the climate changed a bit. Especially for the new planted vines the risk was to cut and have a cold night that could effect badly the plant and make it suffer or die.

The olive trees are pruned after the vines as they are evergreen. That is why they cannot bear a very cold or freezing night with a fresh cut. The coming fruit can be damaged or the tree it self.

As soon as I saw the big bunch of olive pruning my first desire was…..to jump in it! What a nice sensation to be supported by the soft branches!!! Afterwards I started to select the best and suitable branches for the wreath. I thought it was easier and it took a while to understand the best technique. I had only a pair of garden scissors.

When the wreaths were ready I started to decorate with lavander sachets….so good smelling! It has been a pleasure to tie all the ribbons in different colours and combine with the right style of sachets. Every wreath is different and has its own style: the classical blue lavander with blue and purple ribbons; spring inspiration for the pale green and light blue with vivid blue ribbons and the elegant country olive weath with leaves and brown ribbons.

Look also the other innovative version I found at my dear friend Sabine, with iron decoration and shells. What a good idea!! Thank you!!

Making wreath has been a pure joy: surrounded by kids happy and jumping in the high grass full of wild flowers and the sunset we had in the end was the most touching reward.

More pictures go to our Flickr Page

Happy Easter with Flowers

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We are glad to share the beauty of nature with our dear friends:  flowers from the garden and painted flowers.

We actually can admire just a few flowers from the garden due to the cold weather of the last days…hopefully it is getting warmer.

In the field you still find wild anemones and daffodils. In the garden old mahonia starting to blossom with a sweet penetrating smell that abstract bees and insects. The flowers are pure yellow: a touch of sun. On the terrace you will be struck by the orange flames of flowers given by Filippo’s Grandmother, Nella, last year. Last year we only had green plant with spiral leaves. This year the flowers arrived and it is like a fire.

Then the first red passion carnetion appeared! What a marvel and smell!

And last but not least, painted flowers with watercolour. As you can see my wednesday afternoon watercolour classes has been started again with such great pleasure…I met my collegues again and had fun painting, eating home baked biscuits and drinking Vinsanto, offered by our Maestro, Luciano.

More pictures on our Flickr Page

Spring is here!

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From one day to another nature has reawakened from a sleepy and grey winter as soon as a warm sun started shining again.

After a long, cold, rainy and snowy winter, spring has arrived at Ancora del Chianti with its gifts. It is very pleasant  to feel the warmth of the first spring sunrays on my face together with a soft breeze. And I become very…..lazy….I would love to spend all my day swinging on the hammock if I only could.

Plum trees are in blossom and birds start singing again too. They fly incessantly looking for food and straw, preparing their nests. They are very busy. Last year, Gunilla, an expert birdwatcher from Sweden, recognised at least 43 different birds, both from their singing and their shape. This is the result of growing organic!

In the beginning of spring, you can find little flowers in the grass. We have of course daffodils and anemones, but the little shy flowers hidden by the grass are the most amazing. They cannot bare the heat so they will disappear as soon as the sun becomes stronger. Now is the moment for appreciating them at their best. Pure beauty hidden in small things…..

Anyway, daffodils and anemones are the protagonists of spring fields. Yellow and purple will be combined in the next few weeks and the house will be full of country bouquets.