Artisan Exhibitions

Mostra Internationale ArtigianatoI’m always looking for unique handmade products, and over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to go to two different artisan exhibitions.

The Mostra Internationale dell’Artigianato in Florence from April 20-28 was a huge affair.  I had seen a billboard advertising the event and was really excited to go, but I was blown away by the scale.  Held every year since 1931, it was put on inside the Fortezza da Basso covering 12 different buildings with more than 800 exhibitors.

Honestly, quite a lot of the vendors were selling things I know are mass produced and sold on the street in places like India, Nepal and Tibet, but there were a few gems to be found if you took the time to walk through everything.  I was especially impressed with the design section and the Italian Artisans.  Products ranged from jewelry and clothing to furniture and musical instruments.  For me it was a great place to gather contacts and spend a long, but fun, afternoon eating, seeing performances and even picking up a few souvenirs.

I came home with amazing turquoise pants that are great for pregnancy and after by VagaMè and my husband came home with his own didgeridoo by Aboriginal Trip (and he even practices daily!).   I must say we had a fantastic time parting with our money.

The following week we happened upon a once a year exhibition of local artisans in Pisa where Corso Italia meets the Arno river.  This collection of less than 20 vendors are vetted to make sure all their products are made completely by hand.  The artisans made everything from made-to-measure shoes to handbags.  I came away with a beautiful hand-sewn dress for my little girl and the knowledge that there is also an artisan market in Lucca’s Piazza San Giusto the last weekend of every month that I am dying to check when I next have the chance!

An Earth Friendly Disposable Diapering Option

Instructions for disposing of your biodegradable diapers

Instructions for disposing of your biodegradable diapers

It’s been a month since I’ve written on this blog. I’m counting down to mommyhood (less than a month to go!) and haven’t much been interested in writing.


We have, however, thought lots about diapering, and while we have decided to try toilet-training our daughter from day 1 based on Laurie Boucke’s elimination communication method,  we will still probably use diapers when out of the house, for the first few months at least.  We looked at both cloth diaper systems and disposable ones.  Cloth diapers make sense when you plan to use them long-term, but we hope to only need diapers for a half a year maximum.

Lucky for us we found EcoWip, which makes the world’s first truly biodegradable diapers.  Amazingly they are based not 15 KM from us in Prato.  You can use their EcoPiu diapers and then throw everything in the organic bin except for the elastic part used to secure the diapers up and the sticky tabs that keep the diapers closed.  Those you detach and dispose of in the generic trash.

How well they absorb and keep messes from leaking we have yet to see, but I am excited to try out these one-of-a-kind diapers from a supplier down the street.  Rarely do I find an eco-friendly product made locally that is something that truly serves in daily life.  I have high hopes for EcoWip diapers!

Modern Mommy Resources

motherhoodI’m back online after a trip home to visit my family. While in Denver I stumbled upon some fantastic resources for the modern super-mommy who looks to do it all and a community to support her. Beth, who supported me as life coach in Shanghai and has now transplanted to Colorado (how small is the world!), invited me to lunch at the Tea Bar, one of the few places to find authentic leaf tea in Denver, as well as healthy, local tasty meals.  The Tea Bar is part of the Zuni Hub, which includes The Mother’hood and Green Garage.

The Mother’hood is a place for mom’s to come for everything from prenatal yoga, lactation support, yoga with your baby, sleep support groups and just about anything else you can think of needing in that transition period to motherhood.  They also have a small retail section selling yoga supplies and eco-conscious baby clothes and goods.  Their links with midwives, doulas, childcare specialists and much more really make them a great resource for mothers in Denver! They are a more established version of Le Dieci Lune, which I belong to here in Italy.

Giggling Green BeanWhile searching for the perfect sling to carry my daughter around with, helping maintain as much skin-to-skin contact as possible, I came across the Giggling Green Bean.   Not only did they have slings, they also carried organic baby clothes, and had lots of resources for cloth diapering.  What I loved most about the store was that the ladies who worked there were sales associates and moms.  Their kids were with them in the store playing, a real life representation that you can be a mom and follow your career passions as well!

I was glad to find that the Denver area has amazing resources for the mom who wants the best for herself and her kids!

The Joy of Doing What You Love

Me at Grey's Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile feeling full of the joy a hard days walk brings!

Me at Grey’s Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile feeling full of the joy a hard days walk brings!

Today I interviewed Betty of La Cioccoleria about making artisan chocolate, gelato and cakes.  We talked about her process, how she got started and why she loves what she does.  Betty said something that I have heard many times, but always resonates with me: When you find joy in what you do it is no longer work.   Continue reading

Putting my money where my mouth is: Baby clothes

Filobio Kimono

I am expecting my first child at the end of May and am starting to think about all the things I will need for my daughter.  I am a big fan of buying local sustainable products, but we’ve only been here in Pistoia for three months, and I’m still having trouble getting a handle on where to get everything I need. In many ways it is much simpler for me to troll the internet for everything I need from US based stores and ask my mother to make purchases for me.  I know Target has a line of organic baby clothes, but where are they produced?  I want to at least to try to support the local economy by buying from Italian stores and producers.

So this week we went back to Stile Biologico by Giuditta Blandini in Florence and asked if they have baby clothes.  I’m starting with the fun stuff; all those tiny little outfits really excite me now.  When I have to wash three or four of them per day later, I’m not so sure how cute i’ll think they are anymore.  Lucky for me Stile Biologico does stock a few things from Italian producers of organic cotton clothes for babies and I picked up three cute outfits from three different companies. Continue reading