JOYFUL GRATITUDE #40
A great thing about having dear friends over from abroad is that you get to explore your city with fresh eyes. It was a wonderful weekend of walking around different neighbourhoods, having lovely talks over steaming bowls of ramen, cycling for kilometers past cute farmhouses along the Amstel and soaking in the atmosphere of a sparkly daytime dj persevering despite the rain…
The last time these friends visited me was in 2006 just a few weeks after I first moved to Amsterdam. So much has changed around Amsterdam since then, practically none of this skyline seen from NDSM was as it is today. I’m so grateful for living in this amazing city that keeps evolving and that I get to rediscover all the time:)
Those moments around dawn and dusk, when the light is soft and a magic glow shines on everything, are my favorite times of the day.
While we were in Capraia Paolo and I made a point to be outside and enjoy them often (even if it meant getting up at 5am to see the sunrise).
We have our own favorite ways of being in the moment: I like to take pictures and capture the gorgeous light, while for Paolo it is the best time for fishing. Over the years, I’ve taken tons of pictures of Paolo on different coasts, patiently casting his line against stunning backdrops of changing skies.
Dawn is particularly magical because it is so quiet, and as the fiery sun makes its majestic appearance, it feels like nature is putting on this show just for you.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #39
There are those magic days where you travel to another city to meet with a friend for no other reason than to go and eat scones! Hooray!
Then you explore the tiny, well-kept streets overflowing with plants, and somehow later find yourself sitting in the sun for hours, enjoying vegan delicacies and talking about ‘everything and nothing’ like we say in French:) One topic leads to another and you start reminiscing about the books you read (or didn’t read!) as a teenager – Adrian Mole’s diary, Watership Down, ‘Fucked up youth’ (??, so curious about that last one;).
So grateful for the simple pleasure of good company, tasty food and lots of laughs!
Summer is the perfect time to take a pile of books on holidays to read in the sun. Or to while away Sunday afternoons while our friends are abroad on holidays. I’ve decided to share some reading lists of my favorite books for those in search of some ideas.
These are some books that I just keep coming back to, books that I can pull off the shelf and open at a random page, sure that they will bring me the wisdom and encouragement I need to hear. Today I’ve listed my favorite books for creative inspiration.
Living out loud – Keri Smith
Lovely colourful and playful book about tapping into your creativity, including stickers, how-tos, guidance for living out loud daily.
The artist’s way – Julia Cameron
A classic, this book teaches you not just about creativity but also about how to live a life without fear and with boundaries. I love her simple tools to get inspired (morning pages and artist dates!).
How to make a journal of your life – Daniel Price
Small hand-written jewel filled with tips for journalling by writing and drawing, full of ideas to really look at the world (beware: this book makes you want to take a notebook and go on a long roadtrip;) )
Everyday matters – Danny Gregory
A heartbreaking memoir, such gorgeous drawings and wise words on how important it is to actually slow down in order to really see things and learn to treasure every moment.
Big magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
This book about the magic of creating is really fascinating. It changed my view on how to ideas appear and how to do the work. With her amazing podcast Magic Lessons Elizabeth Gilbert continues to dive into the subject with clarity and humour.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #38
I am grateful for a lovely long weekend spending quality time with my family in France. What a pleasure spend the hours like we did, chatting away while baking cakes, practising my portrait skills with my very patient sister as a model (portraits are so hard… I’ve got a lot of practise ahead of me), taking walks with Paolo in beautiful parks, enjoying long meals all together, celebrating birthdays and eating above mentionned cakes;), laughing and catching up…
The village of Capraia has many wonderful little streets to explore and I spent several late afternoons strolling around to try to capture their beauty on camera.
My strategy was to walk around and enter the tiniest side streets and alleyways, following them to see where they would lead me… And I was not disappointed.
The Bougainvillea was flowering pink and purple everywhere giving a festive atmosphere.
People tend really well to their gardens and trees, and every corner I turned led me to another gorgeous place.
I also loved the warm coulours of the houses, different shades of yellow and pink, and how the flowers often matched perfectly with the walls.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #37
Spent a lovely morning last weekend with Paolo picking raspberries and apples at Fruittuin van West, a beautiful organic farm in Amsterdam-West where you can go to pick your own fruit (local and seasonal – hooray!) . There is a lovely dynamic atmosphere, and I like that they share very openly in their newsletters about their fight against pests and the methods they use, as it gives a realistic idea of the challenges of organic cultivation.
Searching through the raspberry bushes to find the ripe fruit, holding them softly between my fingers and pulling lightly to pick them without crushing them, was the perfect exercise in mindfulness.
We walked through row after row of apple trees laden with tempting fruit and picked to our heart’s content, coming home with 4 kilos of appels next to our kilo of raspberries.
Don’t they look delicious?! (Needless to say that as I write this, the raspberries are already long gone, we enjoyed them ‘au naturel’, with yoghurt and in a delicious apple and raspberry cake!)
During the holidays, I spent lovely afternoons walks exploring the tiny alleys of the village of Capraia, looking at the carefully tended plants in people’s gardens or in front of their houses and I’ll share more about that soon.
But I especially fell for the wild plants growing in the hills or on the edges of the cliffs on our way down to the sea. Those plants really represent the island for me.
I love how their branches and spikes lightly scratched my legs as I walked by, reminding me of their presence, as if urging me to look down and observe them.
What the photos unfortunately can’t show is how the strong smell of the aromatic plants (like wild rosemary, erba gatta and elicriso) rose up in the air under the hot sun, titillating the senses as we walked by.
Depending on the hour of the day, the light would show up the colours against the backdrop of the sky in different ways, what a lovely sight.
The prickly pear cactus is one of the plants that is synonymous to me of hot summer days in Italy. When I see one I am immediately mentally transported to wonderful moments spent by the sea, feeling warm rays of sunshine drying the salt water on my skin and the joyful sensation of being on holidays and free:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #36
These stunning bright orange lichens grow all over the rocks throughout Capraia. I tried to photograph them repeatedly but the pictures don’t really do justice to how marvelous they are.
As we were exploring the island, our guide Mariella explained that Capraia counts in total around 400 types of lichen, which I’d say is not bad for an island measuring just 20 square kilometers. I’m grateful to Pacha Mama for having created such diversity even in the tiny details, with insanely fascinating shapes and gorgeous colours.
Just back from Capraia with sparkles in my eyes about how beautiful the island is. With its 20 square kilometers it is the perfect size to explore by foot: walking to small coves for a swim or hiking up the hills to see the steep west coast plunging into the sea, with Corsica visible on the horizon.
The summer colours of the plants on the hills were beautiful (green, orange, yellow…) and apparently in spring with many flowers blooming it is even more spectacular (a good reason to come back;).
The village at the top of the hill is very pretty with its warm colours and many tiny winding streets to explore and get lost in. We had our appartment there, it is blissfully quiet, perfect for a good rest (indeed many afternoon siestas were enjoyed!).
The sea is amazingly transparent, and it beckons you to jump in from the rocks and refresh yourself after hiking under the sun. Underwater a ballet of fish awaits you, swimming leisurely around the rocks. So beautiful!