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So you find yourself in Florence heading towards lunch time. You are getting hungry and you pass a gentlemen eating the most amazing looking sandwich made with creamy fluffy focaccia stuffed with quality looking fillings. You kindly ask him where he acquired this amazing sandwich and he points down to a road to a long queue and tells you it is worth it. It is worth it. You wait in the queue but it moves pretty quickly – only about 10 minutes. This gives you time to scout out whether there are some vegetarian options and a man from across the road walk over with a pile of fresh focaccia. You smile to yourself knowing you have made a good decision.

You get to the front and order a ‘vegateriana’ (with a question mark at the end). A friendly nod and a piece of fresh focaccia is grabbed, a sandwich size negotiated and fresh tomato, rocket, some vegetables and beautiful mozzarella piled on top. You hand over €5 for the biggest sandwich you have ever been given.

You walk happily down the street and find some free pavement to sit on and thoroughly enjoy what must surely be the best sandwich in Florence.

Maybe next time you will get a glass of wine from the help yourself counter.

If you haven’t eaten your whole sandwich (saving some for supper is a good idea) you might want to get some Gelato from Gelateria dei Neri

All’antico Vinaio, via dei Neri 74

Gelateria dei Neri, via dei Neri 22r

read ‘em and eat

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READ ‘EM >>>

I have an ever growing wish list for travelling and Cartegena has just been added to it, and Budapest. The latter might be more likely in the near future.

I am quite taken with these fortune cookie bracelets. Maybe I should get one with my daily mantra on …

How amazing is this watermelon bedding diy from Conversation Pieces? A.maz.ing!

How do you make the holiday feeling last?

How to dent the universe.

I love the photography in this autumn lookbook from Cabbage and Roses.

Instagrammer to follow: now this must takes some time and patience but it looks amazing (check it out on your phone)

EAT >>>

I have been going a bit crazy over uva senza semi (seedless grapes) as I haven’t seen them in the markets until now. Even a grape gelato I had a few weeks back still had seeds in them. It is one of those weird eccentricities of the West that we enjoy eating plants which become redundant because they can’t grow from themselves! But anyway … I thought I would throw them in a pancake. Honey was added for ‘moisture’.

I promise one of these weeks I will have something that isn’t a pancake!

your pinterest favourites

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I always see people mention how pinterest is their biggest driver of traffic but have only more recently seen it climbing up my ranks.

I thought I would share what have been “the internet’s” favourites because I am nosey and think other people might be nosey too and perhaps there is something we can both learn from it.

Food posts

banana peanut butter chocolate brownie oatmilk shake - MYCreative Photographyvegan hot chocolate - mycreative

Pinterest is great for collecting recipes. I now I use it all the time for that. Two posts that have been consistently clicked through have been my vegan brownie milkshake and a vegan hot chocolate recipe. I think the niche nature of the recipes (ie vegan) help too as well as simple styling.

Simple DIYs

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By simple I mean like two minutes. These upcycled shopping bags where really easy to make and therefore something that is easy to replicate.

Being helpful

building better habits like I love myselfstyling props on a budget

I think it is human nature that we are always looking to improve our lives. I am interested in learning from other people’s experiences and I think that means others are too. Share your knowledge and experiences in easy formats like a list, keep it focussed and if possible make a printable. My tips on collecting props on a budget and how I am making habits both proved very popular.

Also noted

>>> I now try and put at least one portrait orientated image in posts that I think are pinnable. Although it has been landscape pictures that have been most popular from my site (as you can see above)

>>> Writing on an image really makes it easy for a person to see what the post is about and means that it is more likely to be repinned once on pinterest.

Check out more pinterest posts

>>> 9 things to keep in mind when posting for pinterest

>>> The blogmaven’s ultimate guide to pinterest

>>> A blogger’s success story with changing their pinterest from personal to ‘brand orientated’

So how about you. Is pinterest a big source of traffic for you? What do you find are your most popular images?

On a side note isn’t it interesting how quickly words are created from ‘technologies’: ‘pinning’, ‘pinnable’, ‘printable’ etc

venice film festival

cinema screen at venice film festival

A couple weekends back I headed to Venice for the day to go to the Venice Film Festival with Tim, a work colleague and Eryn who I met through twitter. Being only a few hours from Venice we thought we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to the famous festival and maybe spot a celebrity or two. So a few months before the festival I checked out website but it didn’t prove very useful.

As it turns out the list of movies that will be shown are only made available a few weeks before the event and tickets are only available to buy online at around that time. (In retrospect it makes a sense as it is a competition that needs entries). Up until this point I had thought we would have to head to Venice the day before to buy tickets at the box office, which would have been a bit of a pain, especially if we couldn’t get tickets. However, buying tickets online was pretty easy and the tickets were emailed to us and we could just show the barcode to gain access. Tickets for the day time and not in the ‘Grand Cinema’ were very reasonably priced at €9 each. The earlier show was pretty empty so you could probably buy tickets on the day. Although we were there on the last day so don’t quote me on that!

When the day finally dawned we got the train and then a vaperetto from the main station to the Lido (after grabbing breakfast of course). The cinema complex is about a 15 minutes walk from the vaperetto stop through a residential section of the island. I quite like the Lido. It feels like a beach town and has some beautiful art deco architecture.

We arrived a few minutes before our first movie started, Words with Gods. This was a series of short films which explored various religions around the world. I didn’t ‘get’ all of the references I am sure but it was still really interesting.

After our first movie we had 10 minutes before our second movie The President, which is the story of a dictator attempting to escape with his little grandson from a country that has turned against him. Dachi Orvelashvili played the role of the grandson absolutely brilliantly.

Both movies were subtitled, which meant this was they were the first movies we had actually seen in Italy since moving here and that made it even more of a treat!

Sadly we didn’t spot any celebrities …

After the movies we headed back to the main island groups and had an apertivo at a converted greenhouse where Tim and I had gone on my birthday and Eryn was keen to visit. We then took up our friend’s food suggestion and headed to Osteria al Portego where I was finally able to try chichetti (Venetian pre-dinner nibbles) and had a delicious plate of pasta with mushrooms. The chalkboard menu didn’t have any vegetarian options but when we phoned to make a reservation we were informed of several options (a rarity for veggies going out on the Continent). I would definitely recommend this place if you are in Venice.

I then promptly fell asleep for the two hour train ride home!

eat | the best tomato soup

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The changing season means soup are going to start coming back into my life. One of my favourites is a classic tomato soup. I have to say I quite miss the lentil and tomato soup from M&S, although it might be more from the convenience than the actual soup. So I have been experimenting with my own, last winter and again in the last few weeks.

Although everyone has their go to recipe, I thought I would share some of tips for making a fool proof delicious tomato soup.

1. good quality tomatoes

For a good tomato soup you want a bright red, fresh tomato. I like cherry tomatoes in particular for their sweetness.

2. roast the tomatoes

Roasting the tomatoes gives them a great depth of flavour. Get them to where they are just getting blackened. Yum. If you are roasting bigger tomatoes you can pop a clove of garlic in too

3. the secret ingredient

Red peppers! They makes the soup even sweeter. I chop up the peppers put them in a large pan or soup pot and pop a lid on top for the first ten to fifteen minutes to soften it up, stirring occasionally. I then take the lid off and fry until they are caramelising. Everything is better caramelised. Right? You can add some red onion too if you like.

4. optional extras

For this soup I added some red lentils. Fresh herbs are also a goody

Then blend it up. As smooth or as chunky as you like. Add some final seasoning to taste. Serve with a rustic loaf or even better a toasted cheese sandwich.

Do you have any special tips for a good tomato soup? You know what to do …

I wouldn’t say I am one of those obvious shout out loud sort of feminists but honestly being a woman and living in the world we live in I don’t know why you wouldn’t be a feminist. Also as I get older I recognise more and more the little ‘unfairnesses’ and more obvious statements of every day sexism in the West (I won’t even get onto the subject of the situation of the vast majority of the world’s women).

Anyway I saw this video the other day …

It is beautifully done but I noted that of the 90 portraits shared only two of them were by female artists.

So I thought I would highlight some female artists from history that you might not have heard about and I think could have been included in this video.

Artemisia Gentileschi

Allegory of Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

Gentileschi has become more well known in recent years as knowledge of her sort of ‘disappeared’ after her death. However, in her lifetime she was the first female artist to become a member of the Design Academy in Florence and counted the Granduke Cosimo II de Medici and several other royalty as her patrons. Her paintings often represent strong female characters, thought to be influenced by her rape at the age of 17 by her father’s friend who she also studied under.

Sofonisba Anguissola

Sofonisba-Anguissola-self-portraitAnguissola was perhaps less dramatic than her later counterpart, Gentilesche. She excelled in portraiture at a time when women weren’t allowed to study anatomy and nudes and so were limited to portrait compositions. I saw one of her portraits in the Brera Gallery in Milan and loved her modestly sized self-portrait. She seems like she would have been interesting to know don’t you think? She lived into her 90s and this is one of her older self-portraits.

These two ladies aside I was also thinking about Frida Kahlo. And was watching a programme the other day to discover that I knew Tamara de Lempicka’s work without knowing that these famous portraits were made by a woman. I am kind of blown away by these women who must have faced such difficulties in an ‘industry’ that was incredibly male driven on top of living in a much more patriarchal society than now. Wikipedia has a whole list of other women artists through different periods who have also ‘stood out’ if you want to learn about more female artists.

Do you have any favourite female artists from the past, or present? I’d love to learn more!

Image 1: Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1630s, Royal Collection (possibly self-portrait)

Image 2: Self-Portrait, c1540, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (taken by me on my iphone)