A Good Life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less,
smile often, dream big, laugh a lot and realize how lucky you are!
Oh the Good Life
Having lived now in our beautiful Valley for three years I have started to take the Good Life for granted.
Most of our fruit and vegetables are either home grown in our ‘orto’ or locally grown. They have blemishes, are eaten ripe straight from the tree, bought from our local market at the village then placed in brown paper bags.
Food tastes real here.
Making the change from the rat race to the good life hasn’t always been easy but it has totally been the best thing we could have done for our health, our children and our wellbeing.
Our neighbors keep ducks, chickens, goats, cows and sheep, and we raise rabbits which we swap with them. Our little community is thriving, a ring of the bell and Anna is giving us a tray of strawberries from her orto, our friends offer to help us with planting the potatoes, herbs are picked fresh from the garden, it’s a chef’s delight.
This year our little ‘orto’ is packed with veggies, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, a large potato patch, we also have an orchard bringing apples and cherries, and neighbors willing to swap surplus with us.
Our potatoes and apples will be stored to last through winter, our friends are busy making jams and life is busy as always.
As well as picking from our veggie patch we also go foraging along paths that lead into the mountains. It has become a daily competition for us to see how many wild strawberries and raspberries we can gather, we eat them as we walk.
Of course that first taste of a wild raspberry is something I’ll never forget, such an intense burst of flavour.
In autumn blackberries, walnuts and chestnuts will be gathered, along with wild mushrooms.
Our valley is rich in natural goodness and I can’t imagine ever returning to a suburban life in Australia.
We are just in love with the good life here in Italy.
Apples picked straight from the tree with a crisp, juicy freshness that I’ve never know before, antique varieties with a soft pink hue under the skin that are so sweet I gasp as I bite into the flesh.
The Good Life
Are we living in paradise?
That’s what it feels like, are we living the Good Life here in our Valley at the foot of the Alps, YES I know we are.
Do you yearn to live the Good Life? Are you living it already?
We’d love to hear about it ……
and the gang x
So much has been happening here in Val Pellice these last few weeks, our Italian Life has been interesting to say the least.
Of course we’ve had the big Fair in the village held to celebrate the animals going up to the high pasture for summer. We ate fairy floss, watched as the road transformed into a bustling hub with friends and neighbors showing off their herds of cows, sheep, goats and horses.
One young man stole the show high above the crowd, as if this was quite normal even going into the bar for a drink.
It was at the fair that Sam realized his Dad Carlo was much sicker than we thought. It turned out that he has pneumonia, he is now very cranky in hospital for the last week, nobody does hospital stays quite like Carlo.
He was released a few days ago and came straight home from hospital and had a big bowl of pasta.
Both Connie and Carlo have been sick on and off since arriving two months ago. We are on a mission to get them well before the cruise they are due to take in June. Connie has been dreaming of going on a cruise since I first met her over 20 years ago.
Tonight we are going out to help them celebrate 50 Years of Marriage.
Sam is busy with his new venture [ Renovating Italy – Property ] helping a number of clients wanting to buy property in Italy. Now that the locals are aware of his service he’s been busy documenting various places for sale.
Almost everyone has us saying ‘we’d buy that if we had the spare cash’ so many bargains that with just a little TLC would transform to swans.
I’ve had a lovely break from all the tech side of the online world, instead I’ve been out weeding the trails through Borgata Malpertus, picking wildflowers, meeting friends for catch ups and soaking up the spring sunshine.
The people in the Valley are busy literally ‘making hay while the sun shines’ and newborn lambs attract a crowd of tourists up from Turin with cameras clicking.
Today we planted our potatoes with some friends and then had an al fresco lunch before heading home. These are the friends who found us through the blog and then bought the house we shared on our facebook page, they are Aussies so it’s been fun watching them go through similar things that we went through when we first experienced our Italian Life.
I’ve found homes for two of our five new kittens, they are so gorgeous I could watch them all day. They tumble and fight, doze with full tummy, and even are so brave they have befriended Fiume our dog.
We’ve found a vet that will de-sex the girls for 50 euro (if we bring in three at a time) each so when we are a bit financial we’ll get them done.
Carina and Luca are growing right before our eyes with Luca going on an excursion to the Egyptian Museum in Turin and Carina and her girlfriend spending time together without Mummy supervising at the shopping centre arghhhh!
Our Italian Life is good right now!
I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you….?
” Grow your Life from the Heart ”
Lessons from the Orto
Do you grow your own vegetables? Up until we started growing our own food I never actually realized the lessons from the orto would make a difference. That the food would taste was so superior to any I had ever eaten.
Having just now eaten a bright red tomato from our garden I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it. We picked the first three of many tomatoes and bought them into the house as if they were the most precious jewels. Sliced with a sprinkle of salt and eaten just as they came from the vine……delicious.
Being a suburban Aussie girl I didn’t grow up with a farming background like Sam did, our first veggie garden was in our backyard at Strathpine in Queensland along with six chickens, we were an oddity in our neighborhood. I still remember how excited Carina was to reach in and gather her first egg, now we take fresh eggs for granted.
Spending time in our ‘orto’ has been a learning curve, I love the lessons I am learning. To help inspire you these are my five favorites:
Lessons from the Orto – Weeding is Relaxing
I never thought I’d say this but I love the late afternoon after the rabbits and chickens are fed and I get to do some weeding in the orto. It’s my quiet time, the kids are inside helping to get dinner ready, Sam is cooking and I am happily pulling weeds.
I always think of my brother Bradley who was methodical in the garden, starting at one point and not stopping until every weed was pulled up by the roots. He would laugh at my feeble attempts and redo the section I’d done. I love that his spirit feels close to me in the veggie garden when I’m weeding.
Lessons from the Orto – Growing Vegetables is Easy
Especially when Sam is doing the digging, planting, watering, picking and cooking!! But really watching him in the garden is a joy for me, it’s his relax zone, the place where he regroups, and a real source of pride when he gathers the goodness he has grown and brings it to the table for his family to enjoy.
Everyone here grows food, even in the smallest pot, the tiniest plot of land and they make it look easy and it actually is. If you get the chance give it a try or join a community garden.
Lessons from the Orto – I’m no longer scared of picking up snails
Our very first year here in the Borgata I have to tell you I was scared to pick up snails. Just the thought had me saying Ewwwww. Now with our raised beds I don’t find many but when I do I can pick them up and I toss them down to the path below and figure it will take them a while to climb back up. I can’t bring myself to kill them, but I send them on a holiday. Now slugs are a whole different thing, no way will I pick one of those up!
Lessons from the Orto – Being Lost in the Moment.
Living a Simple Life is not always easy, it feels like we have been on the go for years without pausing. Being in the garden gives me a chance to think about nothing else. My normal routine is to feed the rabbits and chickens around five o’clock, then go to the ‘orto’ and weed for around an hour. Sam comes out and waters and usually we end up with Luca helping out and our dog Fiume and our boy cat Bello supervising.
It’s one of my favorite times of the day, a chance to see what has grown, what is ready to be picked, the time when everyone is out and about, a time where I can just forget the worries of the day and enjoy the moment with my family.
Lessons from the Orto – Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes
Well who knew that vegetables came in odd shapes, not perfectly clean, ours come with blemishes and dirt clinging to the roots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an onion with roots. That cucumbers have tiny little prickles on the skin, that potatoes don’t need a lot of water, that one bean plant can give you kilo’s of fresh green beans.
Oh and that we’d get totally sick of zucchini, that we’d grow massive ones that we couldn’t even give away as everyone else around here grows them as well. That eggplants have the most delicate skins and cook in minutes, that our glorious tomatoes have almost no seeds and are bright red all the way through, they taste amazing by the way. That picking fresh vegetables we’ve grown ourselves could give us such a sense of pride.
Lessons from the Orto – to be in the moment, to be fearless, to create life as easy, to remove what isn’t needed, to accept life just as it is and just as it is not.
Go out and grow something!
and the gang x
‘Your life is made up of little moments, little efforts, little changes, big smiles, and all your hopes and dreams.’
Last night sitting in bed with Luca asleep beside me, (he was having a nap to make it till midnight) I was reflecting back on the year past and our move to Italy. I’d started to fill in a flowery form sent from a friend listing all the achievements of the year and come up blank.
Not just blank, but totally blank and I have to say feeling a bit down, tired and in no way wanting to stay up till midnight only to go out into the freezing cold and watch the fireworks.
Lucky I had made a pinky promise with Luca to wake him up at eleven so he could see in the New Year.
Reading back through the blog reminded me of all that we have achieved this year, and why we decided to move to Italy.
I share my favorite moments of the year below and rejoice in each one.
We’ve been through some major illness, a trip to the hospital by helicopter for Carina which resulted in her having ongoing major panic attacks, Luca had pneumonia.
I got sick on my 50th birthday in June and ended up in hospital. Of course I recovered for the incredible trip to Paris for the portrait session with Carla Coulson in September.
We’ve had visitors come stay, and traveled with them to Liguria and France.
I started B-School, and ended up in complete overwhelm before screaming STOP and taking a time out from all the tech side of blogging. I am now back to ‘school’ and creating a new purpose for my writing.
I was invited to ‘A New Way of Seeing‘ photographic workshop in Genoa with Di Mackay and found a new best friend, she is like a soul sister and we laughed the entire time.
Both our camper van and our old blue tractor had maiden voyages.
We bought ‘Casa Bianca’ the white house next to ours and it’s out buildings. Doing so we gained a dog and another cat, our white cat Mishu died and some time later Carina came home with two half starved kittens from the village.
Our episode on House Hunters International went to air and the response was incredible, so many new readers and friends saying ciao.
We decided to create a place that visitors to our Borgata could stay and experience the simple life with us. Opening up our home and creating ‘Casa Bianca’ has been a work in progress and we have our first visitors coming to stay in May…..I’m so excited!
In order to be ready in time for visitors we have begun hosting people from Workaway, this is a wonderful system where you offer accommodation and full board in exchange for five hours of work a day. So far we have had Sean from England and Ice from Japan, and our family have benefited in so many ways from having them stay with us.
I am constantly reminded of why we decided to move to Italy and all we want to achieve, I still beat myself up and compare myself to other Mums I think of as perfect. We have a soon to be teenage daughter who is full of passion and our sweet boy who compensates for all the angst by going along with everyone.
Our little family is still working towards a less plugged in life, a life away from shopping centers and Ipads, Ipods, and the latest computer games and it’s working.
Growing our own food, raising animals to eat, picking wildflowers, drinking water fresh from the mountain, cutting wood, gathering fresh eggs from our chickens, sipping hot chocolate or cappuccino and eating freshly baked brioche in our favorite cafe, and always looking for ways to take things to the next level.
These are some favorite moments from our year and I share them with you as inspiration for your own dreams in 2015.
Upon reflection we have achieved much this past year.
In the small moments, the shared laughter, the struggles and the arguments, each has bought us closer together as a family and that is a gift beyond measure.
I’d love to hear about your special moments, and wish you a Happy New Year……here we go 2015!
Those moments in our bedroom waiting for the ambulance as Carina struggled to breathe, tried to write ‘I love you’ and repeated over and over ‘I don’t want to die, I love you, I don’t want to die, get Daddy, tell Daddy I love him’ slurred like she was drunk, not knowing we were both right beside her, wild movements, then not breathing again, complete panic, desperation, and a sense of helplessness was with us in that room.
In our valley you can hear the ambulance coming from a distance, she struggled to get up, pulled over the bedside table, couldn’t stop screaming, then the ‘I love you, I don’t want to die’ started again. Our neighbor came in the room, my control broke, I’m the calm one, the one to take the kids for injections, the one to stay in the room at hospitals, Sam can’t cope with anything to do with the thought of choking.
It took forever to strap her onto the board to load into the ambulance. Delirious she thought we were trying to choke her, she fought the straps. “She has to stay still” the ambo’s tell me, in the ambulance we are all standing holding her on the board, I brace myself for the ride down the mountain to the waiting helicopter. Sam is following in the car.
We drive straight out onto the football field, the gates held open. I am led to the helicopter by the kindest man, reassuring me all the way, such a calm soothing voice. In the helicopter I watch the expressions on their faces, I can’t hear what they are saying, Carina vomits.
After multitudes of tests it’s confirmed that she has a severe concussion, we are admitted overnight. I hold her as she showers to wash the vomit from her hair. So fragile and vulnerable.
The nurse puts in a drip, we share the room with a five year old admitted with asthma, each time they try to put a ventolin mask on her she screams the place down. The night is filled with screaming, almost constant screaming, not crying it’s beyond that. In our ward we have maybe six children under five and Carina. We hold hands through the night when the screaming gets too bad.
She has my pillow from home, they used it to hold her legs still as they strapped her onto the stretcher. Sam arrives and I leave to find food, only one parent can stay in the room. I wander the hospital, sections seem abandoned, and when I return I can’t find the right floor, I take the lift to the eighth floor and walk down peering through each window trying to recognize something.
Lost, anxious, constantly to tears, I cry as I leave the cafe with two panini and bottles of water.
Later we share her dinner, the food is incredible, best mashed potatoes ever and the chicken so tender. I feed her tiny spoonfuls and she rests between each one. Those little girl moments are so precious, soon she will be a teen, things will change, but this closeness will always flow between us.
Our first little boy Aaron was full term, ten pound and my pregnancy was perfect.
I went into labor Easter Sunday and Aaron was born alive, but critical.
We were transported to the Children’s Hospital by ambulance
and he died in the early hours of the Monday in the ambulance just as we reached the hospital.
I didn’t know he was already dead as we followed him into the hospital.
My world fell apart
I fell into the black hole that is grief, it took a long time to see the sunlight again.
Trying to get pregnant again with no result. I thought we’d never have children.
My world become about ‘trying’ with books and gizmo’s to tell me the exact right time to conceive.
Our next pregnancy with Carina was like walking on egg shells, I was so fearful that something would happen to her.
She was born almost exactly two years after Aaron, healthy and pink, and screaming her lungs out.
Luca came along two years later. By that time I had become paranoid and fearful that something bad would happen to Carina. I couldn’t let the kids out of my sight, if Sam wanted to take them with him to the shops I’d make sure I went along.
I didn’t even trust my husband to care for his own kids.
It consumed me, this fear.
I would have elaborate dreams about our daughter’s funeral,
what she would wear, and the toys she would have in the coffin, the music that would play.
I nearly sent myself over the edge.
The sound of any ambulance fills me with dread, still after fourteen years.
We both know how sudden loss can be, how it feels to have no control over the situation, the thought of loosing Carina was with us, a heavy weight in my heart, and Sam crying in our room hearing Carina saying ‘I don’t want to die, I love you’……it really never leaves you.
Carina’s wonderful ‘Frozen’ cake was a gift from : l dolci di Dede
Our community here in the valley has been wonderful, many people told us they heard or saw the helicopter. Some have little rituals they perform, others rang relatives to check they were okay, nobody knew it was Carina other than those in our village.
As I boarded the helicopter I glanced around to find Sam and the entire village seemed to be out, offering to help him with directions, just wishing us well, and sending a prayer our way.
In the week that has followed we have had visitors, phone calls, messages, and outpourings of concern and love. We are stopped in the street, Carina is given the once over, everyone asks after her.
Our home is now here in the Valley, and we have friends and family all over the world, we are so lucky to have found our home in the mountains of Piedmont, to have become part of such a warm community, and to continue creating a life we love.
Today, one week later was spent with friends in the mountains, enjoying simple food, lots of laughs, cooking chestnuts on an open fire, eating cheese made from fresh milk, bread that is homemade, salami, tiramisu, strong coffee, and some strange kind of digestivo that almost blew my head off….
I’m now slightly tipsy, and rambling so I hope you feel the love,
who knows what the future will bring but I feel it will be Great things for all of us.
and the gang x
today walking to school Luca and I dodged Dinosaurs, sadly one of them ate the rather large dog that was barking at us.
today my girl burst into tears, school is really hard, she has Italian grammar homework, she doesn’t know why she gets so angry.
she climbed into my lap just like she did when she was three, for a hug then immediately resumed her ongoing battle with all things Mum.
yesterday Luca was in trouble, his normally smiling teacher called me over and in rapid Italian let me know she wasn’t happy about something. that something was the rude finger, and some fairly choice language from my normally sweet, gentle ten year old son.
today it was tempting to walk out the door and just keep going.
my little family is totally out of sorts.
as I write my girl is calling out in her sleep, when she was little she had night terrors, the first one scared us both half to death.
I do sometimes feel like a terrible mother, one who doesn’t check on homework, or comb hair in the morning,
I wrote the following a few days ago over at my facebook page, and since then have determined to spend more time with my family, less time plugged into the computer, more time creating a simple life, building a secure base, focusing on what is important, more time noticing my daughters struggles and my sons rude finger, more time playing together
more time dodging Dinosaurs.
Our Italian Life: I have walked up and down the mountain four times today. Taking Luca to and from school and then picking him up again.
It’s reminded me of why we came here, to reconnect, to spend time with our kids, to enjoy life and all it’s simple pleasures.
Creating a Simple Life
Walking with my son to school is one of those pleasures, we chat, stop to pick up rocks that look like fossils, pick up walnuts, and arrive just in time to gallop into school without looking back.
It reminds me of all the things that take me away from the life I want to live here, the emails, the posts to read, the to do lists still to make, the webinars I want to watch, facebook updates, and photos to sort.
It reminds me of how much I totally love our kids, how much I want to spend time with them and how often I am hooked into the computer.
The total joy he finds each day as we walk to school in the simplest things is inspiring. Today Carina came down to school with me to pick up Luca. She’s been home with a bit of a cold and it was a chance to get some fresh air.
We took the dog with us, we actually got to chat about school, we all had an ice-cream before starting the walk back up the hill. We pulled to the side of the road to let the cows pass, picked a few late season blackberries, Luca threw his ‘divining rod’ into the river to see it wash away.
It was really special.
It is something I intend to spend more time doing, like putting on the music and dancing in the kitchen with Carina. Visiting the place under the apple trees where Mishu is buried to lay wildflowers, to finally peel, dice and stew those apples, and to really spend time creating a simple life in the mountains of Italy xxx
I promise this to myself, please remind me if you see me here too often.
It’s time to turn things around, I’ll be posting occasionally about how things are going, I’d love you to join me with your own thoughts on creating your life.
I’m hoping that you’ll hold me to account, have me share what’s important
the good and the bad,
rude finger and all.
and the gang x
‘ The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time.
Time to think or not think, read or not read, — to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills.’
A small visual glimpse into our life in the mountains on an Italian weekend. We went with Claudio to let the cows out and because one is a fairly new baby we stayed to supervise. Paulo’s miniature goats have had a baby and the three of them were on the roof of the shed playing. The mountains are covered in wildflowers, the cows are out so the bells are ringing….and new life is everywhere. Soon our little mountain paradise will be busy with people coming up to visit the mountains for the weekend.
We have this glorious valley to ourselves the rest of the year……I really love it here x
Apologies for posting on a Sunday, the week just got away from me, still it’s nice to be able to share our weekend with you.
Hoping your weekend was filled with plenty of time to relax and enjoy nature, oh and if you have goats even better.
Radzo, Martina, and Bianchina the little miniature goats x
This huge trunk of the tree is to be chopped up for firewood, it looks like rock and seems timeless. Another tree is already growing from the stump, everything here is so green and bright. The air is crisp and clean, cow bells ring, and with so many flowers it’s almost impossible to keep from walking on them.
I felt like a bit of an idiot being so nervous of Rosie the cow, I’ve been a city girl most of my life and certainly not often up this close and personal. Who knew cows were so soft to touch, I expected them to be bristly like a dog. Rosie is very gentle and her baby just gorgeous.
Hope you had a great week, our Italian weekend was very relaxing. This week coming up I’ll get back to my usual posting time and share more photos. Anyone else take hundreds of photos like I do….how on earth do you manage them all? I’ve been told my site is too image heavy and I’ve been reducing the size of my images with batch converting. Now I have to go through and start replacing the larger ones with the smaller ones. Still the same size here on the blog but it makes a difference to loading times so I’m told.
It’s all a work in progress….my first e-book is coming along and I’m planning to launch it on my Birthday in June…In Paris x
and the gang x