LET’S HYGGE JULY 2023
[definition of hygge]
a quality of cosiness and comfortable living that engenders a feeling
of contentment and well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
Add a little hygge to each month
This month’s greeting is sent from Florence in Italy. I lived here 31 years ago when I worked as an au pair and it has been 24 years since I have been back! It’s wonderful to walk the narrow streets of Florence once more. I have caught up with my au pair family and friends that I have kept in touch with throughout the years. It’s been a journey down memory lane and really special to revisit the places I adored the most: Giardino di Boboli, Museum San Marco and Villa Medicea della Petraia!
As always when on holiday, I have written daily in my diary. The practice of writing extends the joy of my experiences. Included here is a little idea for you to use beautiful paper to cover notebooks. I use the same technique as when wrapping books for school!
When preparing for my trip to Italy, I searched for Italian films so that I could practice my very rustic Italian. I watched “The Life Ahead” with great joy and even though the story’s themes are difficult, it is a film that stays with you for days. It is a film that celebrates unique friendship.
For your listening pleasure, I share my admiration for Francesco De Gregory and the album that takes me right back to my days in Firenze!
The recipe for this month had to be the classic Brushetta di Pomodori; so simple but so delicious… It’s all about the tomatoes and quality of the olive oil!
I hope you are well and may be inspired to take on a little Italian theme for the month of July! Here are some images from my walks around Florence!
WRAPPING BOOKS IN BEAUTIFUL PAPER
I love wrapping my diaries in beautiful paper. Everywhere I travel, I look for beautifully printed sheets. They are an easy and light-weight souvenir to bring back home. I enjoy wrapping books, boxes, and match boxes in unique paper. The rolls of paper you see in the above image are from my time spent in Florence 31 years ago. I used some of the paper to wrap around old shoe boxes where I kept my letters, paper and envelopes stored, in my room, when I was an au pair. These boxes are still in use now but are filled with all of my sewing threads and pins and needles! If you wrap a shoebox nicely, it can last you a lifetime!
Bruscetta di pomodori (bread with tomatoes) for me, is the taste of summer in Italy. It makes a lovely starter or great addition to a buffet or light lunch.
BRUSCETTA DI POMODORI
Preparation: 10 min
clove of garlic (cut in half)
diced fresh tomatoes
basil leaves, fresh
Italian bread, preferably a couple of days old, sliced
Wash the tomatoes and let them dry. Cut them in small cubes and mix with the garlic, basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let the mix stand, preferably for a couple of hours to allow all of the flavours to infuse. Take away the garlic gloves and serve the mixture on lightly toasted bread slices. Decorate with a few leaves of basil. Buon appetito!
“The Life Ahead” is a touching film about Madam Rosa, a former prostitute and Jewish Holocaust survivor, who provides a home in her apartment for the children of other “working women” in the port city of Bari, Apulia, Italy. The film is about the relationship between Momo, a 12-year-old, orphaned Senegalese immigrant and the elderly Madam Rosa, played beautifully by Sophien Loren. Rosa and Momo develop a deep bond. It’s a film that lingers with you for days. I can really recommend it. Watch it here!
Francesco De Gregori’s “Canzoni D’amore” takes me back to days of cycling the streets of Firenze, listening to my Walkman. It’s a wonderful album of Italian love songs. It is with the greatest joy that I have experienced listening to this album when shopping at my local Italian greengrocer in Sydney. They have this album on their store’s playlist, which is genius as it makes me want to stay in their store even longer! Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube.
As already mentioned, I adore prints and paper. In Firenze, there is an exquisite selection of paper stores selling handmade, marbled paper and prints made using wooden stencil blocks inspired by the renaissance patterns used for clothing and wallpaper. This technique dates back to the 16th century. In anticipation of menopause getting closer, I bought myself an elegant little paper fan along with some stunning handprinted paper. The owner of the store where I purchased these is 5th generation and in the back of their store is the open workshop where they bind and create books and boxes. If you are in Firenze do go and visit Bottega D’arte Eredi Paperone, or Il Papiro, which actually has a store in Melbourne!
I’ve compiled my family traditions into a digital flip book “let’s hygge CHRISTMAS” for you to peruse and take inspiration from.
Spring is here and I am excited to start gardening again and have ordered my seeds – I can’t wait to see them grow.
I’d like to share a family recipe with you for Danish Kokostoppe. They are a delicious treat and very easy to make.