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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Warm and Cozy.

There's something so delightful and comforting in the softness, wamth and coziness of wool...

Wool- of all kinds- is a favorite material of mine to wear, work and decorate with! Where I can add wool, plaids, tweed, yarn, etc. I do.

My eco- chic scarves/necklaces were published in Green Craft Magazine years ago, and last year I started making just a few for my Etsy shop- let me now introduce you the new ones I created this year.

I chose to go brown and gray, two of my favorite colors to wear over the cold months, and so chic!

Available here.

They are made with the softest wool yarns, and embellished with handmade flowers, finished off with lots of love and patience beads sewn in place by hand...

They can be sported in different ways, just as your mood of the day suggests!

I also finished one more wool wreath, making it different from the ones in gray by adding a flower instead of a wooden heart.

... And lots of warm hearts!
These can be hung on door knobs or windows, Christmas tree, a lamp, mirror etc. to add a cozy feel, and can also be used as small thought or to top off a special gift for a dear one, to make them giddy with anticipation just seeing the package!

All available in my Etsy handmade, thewhitebench.etsy.com, here.
Monica x

Monday, October 21, 2013

Autumn Simple Pleasures.

There is something special about Autumn... and while I love all Seasons and the beauty and bounty they have to offer, this time of the year has a special something that captivates my heart and mind and my artistic eye. 

I am excited with the splashes of colors and textures...

... the possibilities, oh the possibilities! Plentiful of berries, fruits, foliage, herbs, branches of all kind and  hues, seem to just be there waiting to be picked and arranged!

Nothing thrills me more than spotting colorful, funny pheasants outside our windows, or just about anywhere in the English countryside.

My heart is full with the joys of going out for a walk with a basket, and coming home with the most amazing treasures...

... to be arranged in a simple posy...

... my pockets filled with shiny chestnuts that remind me of my childhood...

... and my nose full of scents of fireplaces, moss, mushrooms and damp soil.

Lots of pretty ladies fill the air these days, I find myself speaking with them so often... here you are, come on here, go there, better that you don't come indoors... and gently and patiently guiding them towards a leaf or flower instead.

The fruits of the season make their appearence outside the doors, displayed together with pots of colorful mums (Chrysanthemum); they fill the crates and deserve a spot of honor outside the small village produce shops, and grace the table with their beauty and delicious taste.

Posy of feathers can be easily found and collected during a country walk, and provide such a stunning, simple, natural decor to our home.

... Autumn, I love you so!
Monica x

Friday, October 18, 2013

May I Send you a little Gift?

Original and Prints available.

This is a common question addressed to me, and lately, I have started receiving it again and again.
So today, I thought I'd write here my reply for you all :)

I have multiple reasons for telling you that I cannot accept gifts anymore, and it's not necessary that I explain them here. Just for you to get the idea, I am now dealing with stuff coming out from about 400 boxes, and I'm having really hard times deciding what to discard, because of the memories, love and warmth attached to every object.

But each and every time that someone wants to send me their love and heart in form of a gift, my own heart melts, because I really can feel the love. And the last thing I want, is to make that special someone, that person, that friend who has been moved by Love to send me love, feel sad. Also, with all the need that this wonderful world has of pure love and generous people and good vibrations, definitely I don't want to block them!

So, without a logic solution in mind, but just opening my heart and mind while writing this post, in the end my reply to your graceful offer is: give the exact gift you wanted to give me, with the same love, with the same joy and generosity, to someone in your offline life for whom it will make a difference. Give it to a "difficult" person, a relative that is driving you crazy at the moment, or has hurt you in the past, an elderly person that lives alone, a single Mom that you see every day struggling with her condition, someone that is scared, and without hope, or that cannot treat themselves to a little extra because of their finances... and the list goes on and on and on.

There are so many people out there needing our love, compassion, just attention.
I know you'll feel them, you'll know who they are.

I'm not "just saying" to give them the gift you had thought for me- PLEASE DO for real!

Hugging you all, much love from me to you.
Monica xoxo

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pour On Love.

I wrote this post and saved it as a draft more than one week ago, and it couln'd be more appropriate now, as I have a situation in my life that requires Love be poured on it (and the person) like rivers of sweet, golden, maple syrup on blueberry pancakes! :)

Many people out there think of "love" as a cute word to hang on their walls, kind of a hippy spur to make love and not war, or just a romantic thing with implies hugs and kisses or things like that. What I am speaking about here is the essence of Love, what Love as a spiritual quality really is.

The idea of pouring Love on the World is not new, it has been proclaimed for thousands of years by all of the most meaningful and powerful guides of humanity, and has been said again and again.
In our home, my philosopher husband and I love to discuss of anything that has meaning, about the essence of being, physics, metaphysics, religion, literature, science, anything goes actually as long as it is intelligent, relevant to the moment, and most importantly, inspiring (... you bet we don't have ordinary  meals at home! LOL).

It's very often from these inpiring conversations that an idea arises...

When things go wrong, pour on love; when you're dealing with a difficult situation, pour on love on it.
When something or someone is annoying you, driving you crazy, pour love on them.

When someone doesn't understand you or your natural and genuine wish to help (FYI there are people who are natural givers and helpers), and try to make you feel hurt and angry (whether you don't feel or feel like that), give them unconditional love. Those people may be in the most difficicult part of their journey, we cannot know. We don't have to assume, just give them love as they may have a bleeding heart, a very difficult moment, or even if it's just their own ego, they surely need our healing thoughts, prayers, compassion and LOVE. Love heals everything. Love calls Love.

On any circumstance and every person you meet, just pour all of the possible love, and then let go.

We must let go because we are not responsible of their own choices, thoughts or deeds. In this life we can always choose, and what is someone else's choice we cannot control. We just have to love them, and really pour love on them, but then we cannot do anything else. You know that they're going to fight the hardest battle, that with their own ego. We have no power on it, even if the person is a loved one.

After years of spiritual work on myself, thanks to my spiritual teachers, inspiring readings and conversations, synchronicities flowing in my life, momentous discoveries, I now apply this little pearl of wisdom to everything-
to my work, health, relationships, all of the aspects of life.

I am always told "You have gold hands and everything that comes out from your hands is so beautiful". Truth is I pour love on everything I do, even if they are chores or plants or a meal, and that's where Beauty does come from. Not from "me"... but through me.

I painted this small reminder on canvas... the original was meant to be a special gift, but I think I'm going to frame a print of it to hang in our home. I hope this may be of inspiration for you too, and of help in your own life.

Monica x

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Country Flowers of the Month (September): Colors and Displays.

Super busy here unpacking and trying to find a place for everything! Also, setting up my studio to start working again.
But I had to share a few of the country flowers I picked in September, so here we go.

After the harvest, there are always nice spikes on the sides of the fields... they are so beautiful to be kept  for months, and also can become a nice thought for someone (in Italy, crop spikes are symbols of prosperity and abundance). Their ochre tones are perfect to bring indoors as signs of the changing season.

September definitely is the month of apples, and gorgeous ones, from edible to crab apples and tiny wild apples can be found everywhere in the English countryside. You just have to pick them. I always bring a secateur with me, so I don't damage trees.
Greens of all kind are very elegant, and surprisingly, neutral. I added a gray ribbon to this small bouquet, and loved the color combo!

But September brought along pops of color, too! Berries of all kind, both dusty and shiny, and the occasional flowers blooming. I started finding many pheasant feathers, too.
Posies of berries, foliage and feathers, arranged in a casual, simple way, and put into country style containers, are very charming and make me happy!

More greens, and added apples gathered at the base of the antique pitcher to add interest to my display (and accentuate the seasonal theme).

I discovered that these small, wild apples can last for more than a month in vase! Of course the leaves have to be removed when dried out, but apples will remain on the branches and can make a nice display (or can be added to other, fresh posies).

After I instinctively arranged the apples in a blue Cornishware vase, and added an orange pumpkin to the display, I realized how pretty their colors were altogether.

I believe any color can go well together in country style, flower arrangements. Purple, orange, red, green and white, which I wouldn't have used in a painting altogether, here are very pleasant mixed together, and suggest me a new, color combo to try in my work (... when I say that we artists have to step out from our studio frequently- see where inspiration comes from?).

Another stunning color combo- orange, green and white (a dash of red, too).

And of course, berries and foliage of all kind can be used to make wreaths. The basic technique I used it's the same I explained in this post. Instead of ivy I used the apple branches as support, twisting and turning them to make a round shape.

And finally, I started collecting feathers, which are stunning to decorate with. Arrange them in interesting containers or glass jars, and group them together for a cheap yet eye- catching, seasonal display.

Monica x

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

At the Moment I am...


Our stuff from Italy has finally arrived, after more than 2 years and a half in storage. And despite we've downsized considerably here, it all fitted the house and single garage.

This is a moment I have awaited for quite a while... not with anxiety or stressful thoughts- but the very opposite, as I long for simplicity and felt I was ready to deal with the stuff that we had left behind. 

It's a time of tremendous growth, healing, and joy. Dust on my hands, surrounded by mountains of  cardboard and bubble wrap to be thrown away, I dive in the boxes, finding all kind of forgotten treasures, which evoke strong feelings, memories, joys and tears. It's the very first time in my life that I don't feel attachment to stuff anymore, and can part with it with a joyous attitude.

In case you're wondering how am I finding my way through 400+ boxes and stuff, I am analyzing everything against very simple questions:

Do I feel joy seeing/having this in my home? 
Will this add to my life?
Does it reflect how I want to live? 
Is this beautiful or useful?(this last one sticking to W. Morris' philosophy).


This chest of drawers, lovingly made by my Grandfather, will be soon painted in a plain, neutral shade. I had painted it aqua with irises more than 12 years ago.

Simplicity. This is something I've been craving for quite a few years now, and what I am after in all I do. Simple design, simple decor, simple and easy living, simple food, simple everything. 

Simplicity is not at all a synonym for frugality.

Frugality, is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of food, time and money.

Simplicity, is the state or quality of being simple, not elaborated, easy. Simplicity can be used to imply beauty, purity and clarity, and I disagree with the dictionary definitions that suggest simple= ordinary or not elegant, as I do believe the very opposite. 


Autumn and its gifts, the glorious countryside, the changing colors, the many dry days and the sunshine, still very warm over the past week or so. It's lovely to take a break outside, in the company of birds and squirrels and a good tea or coffee in a favorite mug.


Doing some nature studies in watercolor.

Studio- in- progress.

It feels so, so good to have a studio once again, where I can play! I'm also playing "interior designer" at the moment, organizing my stuff and making this room comfortable and cozy to work in.

Being a "creative" requires stuff and space. Even more if that's also your own profession.
The majority of people out there who are not in the creative field, do not realize at all how much stuff you need for your job (surprisingly, even family members until they see with their own eyes!).

I have finally let go of the opinions of the others regarding my life and how I lead it, and you bet things have considerably improved and I feel joyous as never before. I don't seek approval anymore, and I embrace what I am and how I have deliberately chosen to live with love and compassion. Even the piles of stuff don't annoy me anymore- actually I am not annoyed by anything lately. Such a good sign.


Picking blackberries! I have learnt it's a very British thing :) I grab my basket and garden gloves, and off I go into the wilderness! It's common that I also come back with a posy of herbs or berries, and quite a few feathers! Now will have to do something with them.

And with those juicy blackberries, I love to bake muffins!
The recipe I shared here, but instead of chocolate or cinnamon, I add two handfuls of blackberries and a small peeled and chopped apple.


Meeting Jillayne, of "A Fine Seam" blog! She is adorable, and even trusted me driving on the left! :)
...my heart to in- person connections, as I wrote about here and here.

Recently, I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Jillayne, a long- time blog friend, who was here in the Cotswolds area for a few days while vacationing in the UK.

We had the day free all for ourselves, and it was sooo beautiful! And the sun shone for us, too!! 
I had tears in my eyes when I was in the car driving back home, because it was really painful to part with a kindred spirit after such a glorious day, filled with flowers and gardens, smiles, inspiring chats about being a "creative", dreams, sense of belonging, introversion, synchronicity, copyright and creativity, very good food, fun at the art, antique and charity shops and found treasures. 


My latest find in a charity shop! I can't stop staring at it (and other pieces of the same set I have bought).
They'll always remind me of the beautiful day I spent with Jillayne.

I am so loving pheasants since I'm here, they stroll happily and funnily outside our windows!
Being a former city dweller, I think I had never seen a pheasant this close before! 

Since I'm living here in England, I've learnt to recognize their song in the distance, their feathers, their babies, and just get to know these guys and their behaviour more. They're funny chaps for sure!


My first artist samples have arrived! I think these gift bags will be on the shelves in the US (and Canada maybe? Will investigate and let you know) in time for this Christmas (together with other paper products with designs belonging to the same collection). I am enamoured with the red ribbon and the clear glitter! ♡

And I'm so doing the happy dance on the carpet (with Kim in spirit as we used to do in flesh and fur) because I'm going to have a large, wonderful Christmas line launched in January! It's completely "me" and wonderfully made (I've already seen all of the samples, but of course, you know how it works- I cannot spill the beans now! ;)). I'm sure it'll rock your socks off! I want to buy everything, because it's sooo gorgeous!

Hope all is well with you in your corner of the world!
Monica x