You could tell there was a difference in the air even though we were at the countryside about 3.5 weeks ago. The air is colder, most of the remaining wildflowers have been washed away with rain or heavy wind and evenings are darker. Some leaves have slowly changed into rusty tones and the sun sets already at 19.00. We picked some berries and mushrooms, made some pies and cuddled under the blanket with Siena. Autumn is a really cozy time to be at the countryside, to snuggle by the fire and after a day outdoors warm up in the heat of the sauna.
‘November darkness has taken over & dare I say it, there are a few glimpses of Christmas in the air’
Mid November, and there are a few first glimpses of Christmas in the air. The city is decorated with Christmas lights, the air is crispier and I’ve started to paint tree cards that I craft every year. I’ve already bought a few additional festive baubles and played O Holy night by Adolphe Adam on repeat, the song from Home Alone’s church scene that is so beautiful and soft. I found some rusty silver, almost antique looking baubles shaped like pumpkins and a few statement birds that are still tucked away for when the tree arrives.
Even though the weather has been rather spectacular for November, they promised a bit of snow for next week which will amp the festive season that much more. Currently I’m drinking cinnamon glögi as I write this but earlier, I tested some heather tea, that I picked and dried before the end of summer. It is said that heather has a smoothing and calming effect making it the perfect evening tea as you wind down at the end of the day. Basically, I picked the little flowers of the heather twigs as they were in full bloom, dried them and stored in a seal tight container.
Nature is so inspiring at the moment, the “stillness in the air has arrived” into the woods that comes when the air gets colder waiting for its winter arrival. We’ve spent a lot of time outdoors cleansing the mind and breathing in the fresh air, allowing the forest to do its thing. Warming up our hands, we sip on piping hot glögi with almonds and raisins in the bottom. The cinnamon stick has infused into the berry flavored drink and it instantly brings a festive spirit into the air. I light a little candle for our outdoor picnic as it starts to get darker and I love how the low sunrays push through the scatter of forestry.
These (much more modest) sunflower fields remind me of the rolling yellow hills in Tuscany that cover in sunflowers in early summer. For the sake of the weekend, I convinced my hubby to visit the fields in the morning so I could pick some flowers for back home. Sunflowers are not my favorite flower, but there is something special about them when blooming in fields, in a larger scale like this. It also reminds me of my childhood as mom often took me to meadows to pick flowers and late summer was dedicated to sunflower season. We used to make wreaths from all kind of wildflowers and still do today, if we are in the countryside together. You could hear a soft buzzing of the bees in the background and the sun was gorgeously peeking through the clouds. Sunflowers bloom in late August here in Finland and it almost feels like the last burst of sunshine before summer comes to an end as we transition into slightly more colder evenings.
Find the most delicious pink grapefruit and dress with a succulent browned sage butter. The slightly bitter fruit soaks up the earthy sage flavours giving these simple ingredients an entire new meaning. I remember in France, being served fresh oranges with caramelized butter, which led me to want to try this combination. No real directions needed here; basically, brown a dollop of butter in a pan with a few sage leaves and allow it to turn slightly brown. Pour it on top of sliced grapefruit. I also added ground flaxseed, but this is optional. This dish can easily be an appetizer or dessert but just switching up a few ingredients. I received these peonies for my birthday and they are just so delicate and stunning.
My favourite part of the day is the morning when nature awakes and there is a feeling of calmness in the air. The countryside particular has a spectacular start to the day as the soft hues push through the woods and gleam across the summer greenery. You can hear the wild animals making noises and it’s that first sip of coffee across my lip that gives me pure pleasure. The sun is low as it rises making it the perfect time to sit outside of the house and let it warm my sleepy cheeks.
Before coffee, I had a swim to make the most of the refreshing lake water, which is the ultimate way to start the day. The mirrored water feels soft against the skin and does wonders in softening the body and hair.
I decided to wake up the rest of the family with the smell of fresh cherry bread as we had lots of cherries leftover in the fridge. Fresh cherry bread makes the perfect summer time breakfast or subtle treat that I enjoyed on the edge of the pier.
Summer Cherry Bread
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and diced
1 ¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
about 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4cup fig jam
1 zest of lemon
4 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup chopped almonds
Garnish: mixture of seeds/nuts/cherries brushed with a bit of oil
Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius. Butter the bread tin base and set aside. Pit and dice the cherries and place into a bowl. In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients; flour, almonds, salt, baking powder & soda. In another bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil and sugar with a hand mixer. Once the texture is smooth, mix in the egg. Pour in the vanilla, lemon zest and fig jam and continue whisking with the handheld mixer.
Add the cherries to the dry ingredients and then mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently stir together. (If the consistency looks too dry, you can add a splash of oatmilk or apple juice to liquefy it. The moistness of the cherries or jam can vary, so this tip will help) Pour into the bread tin and garnish the top of the bread. Add some halved or whole cherries and nuts/seeds of choice on top. I used cashews, chia, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Brush a bit of oil on top of the garnishing and bake in the oven for about 50minutes. Once ready, let it cool for about 15minutes and enjoy with some fig jam and fresh cherries.
‘The scenic travel route from Southern Italy to Provence’
Travelling by car is the best way to get everything out your holiday as this gives you the freedom to travel to se many different destinations. My husband and I have been exploring this way for the last nine years and it makes the holiday feel extra special as you are constantly greeted with new exciting places making the holiday feel much longer. We stayed almost three weeks and decided to fly from Italy to Provence for a change of scenery and even stayed a few nights in the French alps, just an hour away from Mount Blanc. Below you can see the travel route, we stayed in 8 destinations as a base, but visited many idyllic towns during our stay. In Provence most of the “beautiful villages” are very close to each other (20 minutes away) so visiting them makes it really easy and in Puglia the towns are a bit further, but for sure very manageable via car. If you are planning a trip to Puglia, there are so many beautiful places to stay in, but our locations were strategic this time as I had a photoshoot with Masseria Palombara hence we planned our stay around that. We wanted to visit Vieste and Lecce as it has been four years since it was the last time we were there and Tivoli as it’s relatively close to the airport as our flight left really early, but werent eager to locate in Rome. So here goes, a little introduction of each town through my lens.
Itenary from Puglia to Provence
Oria- Masseria Palombara (Cisternino, Gallipolli)
Lourmarin (Cucuron, Ansouis)
Uzes (Saint Remy de Provence, Gordes, Menerbes)
Malaucene- Le Pont de Lórme (Roussillon, Les Baux-de-Provence, Gigondas)
‘ White washed Vieste’
This cozy beach town has a stunning old town that fills with limestone walls, lots of cute restaurants & the best fish soup of our entire trip. The calming narrow streets, the smell of hanging laundry & the majestic turquoise waters is what makes the south so charming.
‘Slow living in Masseria Palombara with visual stimulation ‘
This chic masseria made the perfect resting point with its all around photogenic corners, dreamy breakfast & poolside relaxation. We were fortunate enough to pick fresh vegetables from the garden at sunrise, eat amazing foods and soak up the slow lifestyle under the hot sun.
We also visited Cisternino & Gallipolli during our stay.
‘Lecce that is often refered to as the Florence of the South’
We haven’t visited Lecce in four years and it still remains the same as before. Stay at Mantatelure & enjoy the numerous wine bars in the old city and soak up the rich baroque architecture.
‘Charming Historic Tivoli’
If you are looking for the real life secret gardens, Ville d’Este it is. The hilltop Tivoli is home to 2 Unesco heritage sites filled with lavish fountains, manicured gardens & a cute medieval old town. Stay in cozy Al Palazzetto for the most relaxing sleep!
‘The chic little Lourmarin’
I felt this to be the quintessential Provence & possibly my favourite town of the region. The elegant little town has a small square where everyone gathers for day time pale rosé, boeuf tartare after a leisurely stroll around the little boutique-filled town. Watch locals compete over pe´tanque and find the little winding streets to be the most beautiful. We stayed in a cute B&B, run by the cutest elderly couple, where we woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and warm flaking croissants that were placed on our window sill.
We also visited the morning markets of Cucuron and had lunch in the town of Ansouis.
‘Annecy, the Venice of France’
Ready to indulge in cheese and then a little bit more of it? The typical alp-style chalet village fills with pubs, fondue and raclette restaurants along with stunning canals and views of the mountains. If you are skiing in Chamonix in the winter, I would definitely visit Annecy as a day trip as it is only an hour away from there. This little gingerbread town serves the best raclette for sure.
‘The market-filled dreamy Uzes’
The town of dreamy markets, decadent Michelin star restaurants with the best escargot of the trip. I loved the feeling in Uzes, place aux Herbes, the square were everyone gathered for an early-evening drink. I found great linen, lavender soaps and home sprays from the morning market along with a handmade porcelain bowl, a fossil stone paperweight and jewelry box from the antique market.
We also visited Saint Remy de Provence, Gordes & Menerbes from Uzes
cute Lunch spot in St. Remy
tuna for starters
Malaucene- Le Pont de Lórme
We stayed in chateau Le Pont de Lorme that was right on the edge of Malaucene’s old town. To be honest, we didn’t discover that much of the town as we visited many other little ones like Roussillon from here. We loved the design hotel that revolved entirely around the kitchen.
Optimistically wishing for warm weather, I thought I would start the beginning of May with these beach glass-hued popsicles! With another cappuccino sip, I’ve just booked a massage for tomorrow and I am currently in the midst of packing for Venice as I’ll be taking off in a few days! Without further ado, I’ll leave you with these darling pastel pops!
These green popsicles are an easy way to kill your sweet craving, if you are looking for a healthy alternative. As you all know, I’m obsessed with green smoothies so these pops are a favorite spring and summer delight of mine. I love the fresh flavour, they are cleansing and hydrating making them a pleasure to enjoy! You can essentially blend any smoothie and freeze it, may it be from berries, fruits or this delicious pale green flavour. It’s key to fold in the yogurt (rather than fully blend) for a thick consistency/ colour swirl making it also easier to place the wooden sticks standing up. The mint adds a refreshing spring flavour while the dates add a welcomed natural sweetness. These popsicles make a pretty setup for a girly brunch, a garden party or if you are enjoy those sun rays.
Green smoothie Popsicle
2 cups thick green yogurt
Chunk of ginger (about 2cm x 2cm)
1 cup spinach
1 juice of lemon
1 cup mint
2 juicy dates (or runny honey for sweetness)
Water (about 2-3 tablespoons water)
In a blender, add a bit of water to the bottom and a few tablespoons of the thick yogurt. Add the ginger, lemon, spinach, mint, banana and dates. Blend into a smooth liquid. Fold in the thick greek yogurt for a lovely swirl colour effect. Pour into molds and freeze until solid. Garnish with coconut flakes, chia seeds and tiny flowers or herbs.
Waking up from a good nights sleep in a wooden house is a recipe for an amazing start to the day. We spent Easter at my brothers and my sister-in-laws country place that is as idyllic as a little gingerbread house. It’s not every day your pj’s match the wallpaper so I couldn’t miss out on such photo opportunity. nevertheless, morning coffee overlooking the snowy nature is a calming sight that somebody from the city, highly respects.
Our days consisted of cooking, being outdoors and spending quality time together with the fam. For breakfast we enjoyed strawberry feta toasts, a sparking lunch was topped off with asparagus hollandaise and the remaining day was spent outdoors in the sunshine sipping on rose. We sled down the hill and played with little B, went to the sauna, played board games and grilled steaks in the evening and finished the night off with cheese and cake. We kept our woolen socks on all day long and cozied up indoors when it started to snow. The countryside has amazing capabilities for making you feel good. I have the best family ever and the cutest member is my little nephew who is so cheeky ♡
Currently I’m feeling very inspired by all-things-provence. It must be from the numerous hours of pinterest scrolling through lavender-filled towns or that we just booked tickets there with my hubby or the fact that we watched the movie “good year” yesterday. Anyways, all things french country are very inspirational to me at the moment, thus this Easter pear treat falls just into that similar category. I had tiny pears leftover in the fridge, so I thought I’d make better use of them for the sake of palm sunday. This semi-sweet panettone style tart is great over slow mornings or a coffee break if you are craving for an easy treat. It can be decorated to your liking with tiny easter eggs or keep it simple and chic with a gentle sprinkling of icing sugar and a few twigs of herbs. It has a simple syrup vanilla flavour that merges well with the sweetness of the moist pears. This recipe is totally easy to make as it requires no skills and minimal effort, hence, it’s perfect!
Have a wonderful sweet sunday!
Easter Pear tart(small tart 12cm diameter cake tin)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-2 teaspoons golden syrup
pinch of salt
3 small pears
1 tablespoon, finely crunched hazelnuts
2 teaspoons olive oil ( + brushing olives)
butter (for lining parchment paper)
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, nuts and spices. Add in the yogurt, egg, syrup, vanilla, olive oil and mix into a smooth batter. Line your cake tray with parchment paper that is lined with butter. Pour in the batter. Add the full-sized tiny pears into the center. Brush the pears with olive oil. Place into a preheated oven of 170 celsius degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the center of the cake is cooked. Garnish with herbs if you which (such as thyme or mint) or add a sprinkling of icing sugar.