Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fall Decorations and Scented Candles

Hello friends! I hope everyone is well and that my American friends are safe and sound from the bad weather that has hit the South. I have been getting news from my father down in Florida and I know there was a lot of damage but thankfully everyone is OK now and the worst seems to be behind us.  

I have been fully back to the grind since I last posted. I am also trying to recover from a nasty flu bug that is still lingering unfortunately... I was on antibiotics and still have a bad cough that I'm trying to get over...it sucks. But I am getting better and for this I'm thankful. 

All the beautiful blogs I follow are filled with fall decorations, pumpkin spice and everything nice. So obviously I was itching for some fall decorations  in my own home.  In Italy unfortunately fall decorating isn't that popular so there aren't many decorations available in stores as much as there are in the States so I have to make the best of what I have. 


I love scented candles and when fall comes around, I go nuts over pumpkin spice scented candles.  I bought a little pumpkin spice scented candle when I was in Pennsylvania last year when I visited the Amish village. I would light that little candle every day when I got home from work and when the wick was completely consumed my heart wouldn't let me throw it away. I know...dumb right?


So I set it aside in a drawer and today I decided to remove the wax left in the candle and heat it in a ceramic incense burner. I just scooped it out with a fork and let it melt in an incense burner.  

The house smelled amazing! I love scented candles and now I know what to do with the wax that remains when the candle wick ends. 


 I also finally got around to finishing the slipcovers for my dining room chairs...it only took me about four months... but I think they look great and that's all that matters!  


I actually found a really pretty fabric on sale that had more of a fall/winter look.  The fabric I had before was too summery I thought so I decided to switch things up a bit. 

I also added this cute ceramic garden stool that I found online and I love it! 


A little update on my baby girl Gigia... I took her to a veterinary dermatology specialist this past week. She has been diagnosed with Eosinophilic granuloma complex and the only thing that has helped her thus far were cortisone shots.  Obviously she can't go on with cortisone shots for the rest of her life since she's only 4 years old so he has put her on Atopica (cyclosporine) which is an immunosuppresent but with fewer side effects than cortisone therapy. 


Her upper lip is still a bit swollen but she is doing much better.  He also prescribed a prescription anallergenic diet so we will see if she does better with the diet so that maybe we can ween her off the Atopica. 

She eats and plays normally thank goodness so I'm not that worried.


I don't know about you guys but I spoil my pets so much... I'm experimenting on a homemade healthy dog treat made with turmeric and carrots.  The recipe still isn't perfect yet but it's getting there and I'll hopefully be able to share the recipe with you soon. 

These two are my rescue babies and I'll do all that I can to make them feel better and live a better life. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead and thanks for reading!

xoxo, 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Cottage in the Country

I've been having a great summer and am so sad to see it coming to an end. I am extremely grateful for the time my mother and I have been able to spend together. She will be leaving next week and I will miss her dearly but I am already looking forward to my next trip to the States this winter.


We spent the first half of august in southern Italy with family and friends and everyone was so happy to see her as it was over two years since she had been back in Italy. 


We had a big family dinner but unfortunately not everyone could be present.  We have a huge family in Brindisi.  It was nice to see everyone again.  Even though I live in Italy I don't get to see them all very often because I live further away so it was a treat for me as well to see everyone. 


The last week of vacation we did something different and rented a villa in Umbria close to Assisi through an agency called Emma Villas. They rent luxurious private villas all throughout Italy but are mainly based out of Tuscany and Umbria. 


There are hundreds of villas to choose from. All of the villas have private pools and offer all kinds of services and amenities that suit your needs. It was a dream come true for me as this cottage pretty much sums up my dream home... 


Some of the pictures here I took myself but others are from the website since they did such a wonderful job capturing the beauty of the property. 


Since there were originally 6 of us (we ended up being 4 since two of our guests couldn't make it) plus our pup, we decided on a 4 bed 4 bath 3 story villa. The property was entirely enclosed which was perfect for the the dog who could roam around freely and I wouldn't have to worry about him running onto busy streets.





I absolutely fell in love with the home and it was such a peaceful and relaxing week that I needed to take my mind off of things and just recharge my batteries. 


This was where we had dinner most nights and I loved waking up early and just taking in the beautiful surrounding scenery with my morning coffee.  It was so peaceful.


There were olive and fruit trees all throughout the property which were illuminated at night. 


Here are some more pictures of the cottage of my dreams... swoon...


The pool was located at a lower level with respect to the cottage and was surrounded by secular old olive groves. 




The villa had everything we needed including a barbecue which we used almost every night. Mom was the one who knew how to start the fire! Neither Mr. Amore or I had ever used one before (I know...) and she was seriously a pro! 


Everything was amazing! One night we made grilled fish, calamari and prawns on the grill and they were outstanding!


The house we stayed in was filled with beautiful artwork.  Each room had a special piece that you could tell was original and probably pretty expensive. 




One of the paintings really stood out to me for some reason and there is quite a story we found out about the woman in the painting below. 


I found out that the lady is mother to the owner of the cottage. Her name is Madame Suzanne and she was from Auvergne, France. I found out that she was a talented decorator and lover of antiques, gourmet food and an excellent swimmer. She was mother to three boys and unfortunately died in a tragic car accident in Italy, most likely in Umbria in 1964, 10 years after this painting was made and was probably in her early forties. Her three boys were all very young when they lost their mother. 


Here is a picture of her with one of her sons. I don't know why this particular painting stood out to me so much.  She seemed like a very sweet and loving lady as well as beautiful indeed. May she rest in peace. 

While we were in Umbria we visited Assisi which I've visited before but my mother was never there and really wanted to visit the Basilica of St. Francis. 


It is astoundingly beautiful inside and I'm not going to lie I got pretty emotional.  It touches me to see so many people praying together and when you're in a place like this you can't help but pray for more peace in our world. 

Assisi is a medieval town and it shows through its architecture. 


We stopped at a cute little restaurant before heading back home and had some great food. 


Umbria is famous for it's prosciutto and wild boar so many of the typical entrees include these ingredients.  


Above is a typical Umbrian first course dish of egg pasta or pappardelle with a ragu sauce made with sausage and wild boar meat. Below are two different types of flat bread pizza one with squash blossoms and one with prosciutto.  


I think I'm going to end this post here with my favorite things...you know, food :-) 

Now that august is coming to an end, I'm looking forward to all things fall and am glad to be getting back into the routine of things. 

Hope all is well with you dear friends. 

xoxo, 

Silvana


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Monday, July 31, 2017

Ikea Hemnes Buffet Makeover

Hello friends! Hope you all had a great weekend. I will be going on vacation in just one week and I am so ready! I did some major reorganizing and cleaning around the house getting things ready in the guest bedroom for my mom and some relatives that will be staying with us next week.  While I was at it, I decided to give my buffet a little lovin' because it was looking kind of sad...  
This bad boy was jam packed with crap that I absolutely did not need anymore and it was starting to overflow... So I said enough is enough you are getting a makeover! 


This was my inspiration photo and I fell in love with it! Marissa from Lilly and Cedar did such an amazing job transforming this piece. 
Via

I found these pulls from a local hardware store but wasn't really feeling the gold finish.


So I  gave them a coat of oil rubbed metallic spray paint and it was perfect. 



All I did was clean the buffet thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, sanded and directly applied the water based paint taping off the top. 


I initially wanted to spray paint it as I have seen many DIY bloggers use this approach but it just didn't turn out right. It started dripping and it looked uneven...I'm sure I wasn't applying it correctly but I just preferred switching to the good old fashioned paint and paintbrush technique ;-)


That TV is ridiculously heavy so I left it on there and when I went to stain the top I just moved it to the side and waited for it to dry and stained the other side.  It worked fine for me. I used a water based stain that dried very rapidly. 

Ready for the after pic??


I added those two baskets from Ikea in which I stored extra wires, chargers et cetera in the middle basket and magazines in the lower basket. I cleaned out all the drawers and cabinets organizing everything and throwing unnecessary things away. It feels sooo good to get rid of crap you don't need. 


Here is the view from the family room now. I think the space looks so much brighter now. I love it. 


I'll leave you with another before and after 'cause we all love those..I know I do!


I would love to do a post soon sharing a complete tour of the house. I'm doing some redecorating in the bathrooms and changing things up in the kitchen as well so when I get that done I'll share it here. I like to document the changes I make around the house.  It's funny how taste in home decor changes throughout the years don't you think? 

On Instragram I shared a peak at my upstairs gallery wall.  I have been adding beach themed wall art for a while now.  It's very different than my downstairs living/dining room area. This space is right above the stairs and it connects the three bedrooms and bathroom. I guess you could call it a little reading nook. I'm on the hunt for a cozy arm chair to put in that corner where the lamp is.  I still am quite unsure of what to do here. It's kind of a strange area and I feel like I never know what to do with that that little window for a window treatment.  Any suggestions are more than welcome! 


I know I haven't been sharing any good recipes lately and that's mostly because I haven't been cooking anything particularly share worthy. Hopefully I'll be more inspired soon... 

Until then, I wish you all a fantastic week ahead!

xoxo, 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hair Care Tips for Bayalage

I've always loved changing hair styles and color since I was in my teens. I am naturally a pretty dark brunette but with very fair skin. I never really liked my natural hair color on me because I always thought it washed me out...kind of like Morticia Addams...I don't know. I have always preferred going lighter...like a lot lighter... and anyone who knows a thing or two about color can tell you that the darker your hair is, the longer it takes to process and therefore the more damage it does during the bleaching process.




For many many years I highlighted my hair at professional salons using foils and I remember it taking four hours from the time they started to the time I was finally done. It took me half a day to do my hair simply because it took forever to process.

I would have to go about every three months because my roots would be so dark and the contrast with the blonde was super evident and I hated seeing those dark roots. Needless to say my hair never grew past my shoulders because the tips were so fried that they would break off and I would have to trim it.


This was the lightest I have ever been. 

I loved my blonde hair but it was just taking a toll on my ends and it was way too much maintenance. Since I work during the week the only time I could go get it done would be on Saturday mornings and my whole morning was shot because it took FOREVER. 

At one point I wanted to grow my hair out longer and my hairdresser told me that until I kept bleaching my hair, I woud not be able to keep it long.


This was at my brother's wedding. My ends were pretty bad at this point and you can see the strong contrast with my roots underneath. 

I decided I wanted healthier longer hair so I went dark. And it was... meh... but I wanted it to grow so I just dealt with it.

At a certain point the color started fading and my hair became a mousy ugly greenish color and I dyed it again...brown...and it was fine in the beginning because it was a change but as time went on I started to hate it.


I did this a few times.  I would alternate periods of brown and then go back slowly to blonde by highlighting often. One time I decided to go completely blonde from root to tip and my hair turned bright orange. Yeah... that was a disaster...


So last year I went dark again after a long period with highlights. I took care of it, trimmed it often, deep conditioned and my hair became healthy again.


And as always I liked it for a while but then wanted to go lighter and  at that point I decided to get on the Bayalage band wagon.  Bayalage is all the rage now and I think it is absolutely gorgeous. It's natural and at the same time lightens giving you this stunning sun-kissed look that many brunette celebs have opted for and I think it's fabulous.
Via
After watching 10,000 YouTube videos on the technique I found that many beauty gurus have been DIYing it and you can see for yourself that the method that they use is really pretty simple. So I decided to try it out for myself and I love how it turned out. I also saved a crap ton of money by doing it myself. I have been getting so many compliments so that's why I decided to write a post on it.  I'm not a beauty expert whatsoever so I'm not going to explain the process in detail.  Just look up "DIY bayalage" on YouTube and there are bunch of great tutorials available. There are a few tips to getting it right that I'll share here if you want to try this out.

Via
The photo above is not of me by the way but it shows the technique well I think.  Basically what I did was divide the hair in strands and saturate the ends well while "feathering" upwards either with a brush or your fingers and in this way you don't get a harsh line where the bleach ends but rather it's a gradient transition.  I did use foils to process better but you can opt not to.



This is my hair now. 

 There is an important step that I found out about later because it wasn't really stated in many of the videos and that's the toning process following the bleaching.

If your hair is very dark like mine is, you will most likely turn brassy the first time you do this.  This is not a great look (i.e. my orange hair pictured above).



You need a blue or purple color to tone the orange because the opposite of yellow on the color chart is purple and the opposite of orange is blue. 

Many people use a DIY toner that I tried and it worked pretty well and that's mixing a deep conditioner with a drop of semi-permanent purple or blue hair dye.  This will not turn your hair purple it will just tone it getting rid of the brassiness. It also conditions your hair so win-win. I left that on for an hour and then rinsed it out.

You should also use a purple shampoo and conditioner and this will help with the brassiness as well.

This is what I use. It's pretty inexpensive, it works well and smells like grapes. :-)

The bayalage technique lets me keep my roots dark while giving me a lighter more natural look.  Unfortunately I do have some grays so I just touch up the roots and keep the ends blonde. I don't have to redo the blonde as I did with the highlights every three months frying my hair so I can just keep deep condition and my hair grows longer and is healthier. 



In order to grow my hair longer I have been taking a Hair, Skin and Nails supplement and I really think it has been helping a lot. 
Found here
Once a week I'll use this coconut oil based nourishing hair mask and it leaves my hair feeling great. 
Found here

Another thing I have been careful about is protecting my ends when I go to the beach because salt water, chlorine  and the sun can also greatly damage your hair especially if it has already been bleached. 

This stuff is a little expensive but it's worth every penny in my opinion. I think Kerastase is an amazing brand for hair products. 

Found here

I hope I was able to share some helpful tips if you are thinking about doing this.  I have really found it beneficial for me and I feel like I can grow my hair longer while keeping a lighter color. 

I hope you are all having a great weekend and enjoying summer so far.  It has been super hot here lately! I will be on vacation in just a couple weeks and I am sooo looking forward to that!  God Bless <3

Annnd I think I'll end this with a selfie filter...cause why not?



xoxo,