The Careful Editor

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The quizzical editor May 14, 2010

Filed under: TCE — raffydarko @ 2:02 pm
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Shameless promotion ALERT!

The Careful Editor loves words and books, yes, but also games and quizzes. Years ago, she worked on a huge database of crossword clues and it was one of the jobs she has loved most ever. Recently she’s compiled some crossword puzzle with pencil and paper, just for fun. A few months ago she happily discovered that Sporcle, the awesome and addicting quiz website, has a section for games contributed by the users, and the best ones can be published if voted by many and/or chosen by the regular editors. Fun! So she started contributing the quizzes you find listed below. If you want to play, please do, and you can also rate the quiz, comment on it and nominate it.

MOVIE games (my main passion along with novels)

a BOOK game, ‘course

games about ITALY and Italian



Save or Splurge? TCE edition May 7, 2010

Filed under: saving — raffydarko @ 4:50 pm
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Personal finance/frugal sites abound with comprehensive lists of the Save vs Splurge variety. I do have some personal guidelines myself and would like to share them – actually, my splurge is not an actual splurge, more like “choose well, buy good brands but find cheap ways to get them”. eBay in this matter is a good friend of mine! No need to ever break the bank.

Do you agree with my “rules”?

cotton tops: save

jeans: splurge – cheap jeans often are a sloppy fit, hems get “wrinkled” soon, the cotton is thin

wool sweaters: splurge – I’m extra-picky about winter sweaters, since I can’t stand itchy wool but also synthetics, also in blends; so I just own a limited number of sweaters and cardigans in cashmere and merinos which are lovely and last years

bra: splurge – small or big, your breasts deserve to be held and shaped by the best bras! A good one really makes the difference even under a simple T-shirt (wink wink)… and lasts long

panties: save

socks: save – hell, some of my best socks were bought at the supermarket

stockings: splurge

shoes: splurge – it’s a given, no? I’ve had my share of hurt, bleeding feet, something that can ruin anybody’s day. Not just flats and heels, but also cheap sneakers can hold bad surprises

makeup brushes: splurge – try applying powders using the softest and thickest brushes and see

hair brushes: save – I don’t think those overpriced, luxury brushes really make the difference. Or do they?

body lotions etc: splurge – no need to explain my cosmetic choices again

scrub: save – or do it yourself with salt and body lotion/oils!

umbrellas: who knows? I’ve had fancy umbrellas which broke soon, fancy umbrellas lasting forever, cheap umbrellas of poor quality, cheap umbrellas which just were indestructible…

eyeglasses: splurge – I’m not fond of designer stuff, but designer frames are just another world, and since eyeglasses have to stay on my face during all my waking hours, they better be the best


My beauty routine May 5, 2010

Filed under: green living — raffydarko @ 10:55 am
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Switching to natural cosmetics has deeply changed my consumption of beauty products. These are my current staples – organic products are in green. Most of them are made in Italy and can be bought on line – Lavera and Weleda on the other hand are German brands and can be found virtually everywhere.


  • Bjobj make-up remover and tonic all in 1 (very practical, and I use less cotton pads)
  • Bjobj cream for greasy skin (I don’t apply it every single night but the result is still good)
  • Bjobj eye contour cream


  • Tea Natura shampoo for greasy hair (I put some in a plastic cup and then dilute it – no need to use a lot)
  • Bjobj conditioner OR
  • Splend’or conditioner (very cheap – not labeled as “organic” but actually presents a good INCI. As I said in my previous post, always read labels!)

I haven’t used a hair-dryer in years – I just keep my hair wrapped up in a towel for an hour after shampooing and then let it dry in the hair. Also in winter, though of course I don’t go outside like this…)


  • Aleppo soap (a fantastic soap made of laurel and olive oils, makes skin soft, also does wonders for the problematic ones)
  • Cien intimate wash (again, a cheap product with a good INCI, available at German Lidl stores)
  • Weleda anti-cellulite oil
  • Bjobj sea water cream (for a more tonic skin)
  • Mineral deodorant, also known as alum crystal rock (which lasts ages) OR
  • a roll-on regular deodorant


  • waxing at the beauty parlour, THEN
  • regular retouches with Silk Epil at home (when hairs are still short and it doesn’t hurt much!)

tip: non-organic (silicone-based) lotions are said to stimulate hair growth. I don’t have proof for this, but I noticed that since I started using organic products, my hairs grow much more slowly…


  • foundation: mineral – I especially like the intensive f. by Everyday Mineral, which can be bought on line from the States
  • blush: mineral or by the Body Shop
  • eyepencils: Kiko, Rimmel, Urban Decay and others. Unfortunately I still haven’t found an organic eyepencil soft and pigmented enough
  • mascara: Lavera – very smooth and doesn’t clump

Confessions May 4, 2010

Filed under: TCE — raffydarko @ 4:54 pm
Tags: ,

In 2009 I’ve been really good. I spent 400 euros for new clothing, shoes and accessories – totally. Never been so virtuous before, considering that I really like to shop for clothes. In 2010 I’ve been… less good, since I’ve spent more or less 400 euros, again – but it’s only May the 5th! Actually 1/5 of this sum was spent on my new padded jacket alone, which was a great buy and a much needed one also – I found it on sale in an outlet. The rest were mostly tops and a pair of flats ’cause, well, I just needed something nice.

No shopping for now, just swapping – trying to hold on as long as possible. Ah, temptations…


The editor and the gadget fan: a love story April 23, 2010

Filed under: psychology — raffydarko @ 11:09 am
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You know how [hetero] couples are in the matter of shopping: he likes electronics and covets the new gadgets, she loves to buy things for the home. But what if the same person likes both electronics and home items and it’s him?

In that case, welcome to my life! I live with a wonderful man, who among many qualities, loves to cook, irons his own shirts, knows how to shop for groceries. Sometimes I make fun of him for his “feminine” qualities, but seriously, he’s great, so who am I to complain? I’m with someone who likes to go to Ikea. And yet… I see his love for new shiny gadgets as slightly dangerous. He’s drawn to fancy kitchenware as well as to a complicated scale which calculates BMI; he’d love to get a bigger LCD tv but also a new laundry basket, because, he told me, he realized he doesn’t like that much the one we bought 6 months ago for our new house. Didn’t you like it in the shop?, I asked. The answer was: it was cheap. Now that we have a landline we need a new phone: he’d like to have one upstairs and one downstairs, while to me one downstairs is enough (the house is not very big after all) – in this case he wants a very cool one. I’d settle for a good one.

This can be a bit maddening sometimes, as I’m really trying to save money, since the area where it’s easier to save is the unnecessary purchases – including the things which work fine and don’t need to be substituted yet. If I can’t count on that, I start getting nervous. I hate to be wary, to feel like I’m the one with a “short arm” (translation of an Italian expression, I don’t think I have to explain its meaning), who can’t enjoy shopping for new things every once in a while. It’s not even true – I’m not that kind of person (after all I’m one girly girl who likes to get new clothes and shoes), I just would like the wants not to outweigh the needs.

And honey, if I start saying no to everything I’m afraid I’ll say no to the good ideas (for example you’re a better cook and know better than me what’s useful in the kitchen), and I don’t want that either. So I just say, let’s discuss our purchases without getting immediately too enthusiastic and try to correct each other’s most… devious tendencies. 😉


Creamy and tasty risotto April 22, 2010

Filed under: cuisine — raffydarko @ 7:53 am
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While I was pondering what topics I could write about, a whole week and some more passed. I really am a woman of action.

Well, I thought at least I could share about my dinner from last night. I made risotto, which is a specialty here, in Lombardy – we live amidst fields and fields of rice. I was going to have “risotto con asparagi”, but I only have a small bunch of frozen asparagi left. So I decided they’d have just a supporting part, and instead I chose onion and Philadelphia cream cheese as the protagonists. It may sound weird, but those two things combined are amazing. Philadelphia corrects the sourness of onion, which in turn makes the dish tasty. The result is delicate and creamy. I even could have done without asparagi – or put something else instead of it (sausage or pancetta might be a nice touch.)

So, this is the recipe for 2 people: make some vegetable broth (readymade is fine) – chop one and a half onion and brown it in some olive oil (in a wok) – add rice (80/100 grams for person) and some hot broth – add asparagi or anything you like – stir regularly while adding broth, which gets absorbed by rice – after, say, 15 minutes also add 3 spoons of Philadelphia and stir – try the rice and when it’s almost cooked, just stop adding broth. Risotto is ready in roughly half an hour. Tasty, cheap (well, without asparagi at least) and healthy (and easy too). Enjoy!


Someday fashion April 13, 2010

Filed under: psychology — raffydarko @ 11:01 am
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Mild temperatures, sun shining, a gentle breeze. It’s the best time of the year, before the heat is too much and mosquitoes come in heaps. I feel reborn, after all the snow and the grey winter, and I’m celebrating it by running in the park. Erm, ok, I will go running in the park – but for now I celebrate by decluttering my closet. Not that there’s much left to declutter: during the years it has become a habit for me to do it regularly (and I even enjoy it), and besides 6 months ago I had to move. It feels great to have less stuff, less unnecessary stuff – and yet there is always something which is left parked in the closet. I just put in the Red Cross bin 3 worn out T-shirts and a bag I’ve had for years – cheap, cute, but too weird-looking and unpractical. This was one of those infamous someday items. We all own some. They are good quality, right? It’s a pity not to use them and sure someday we’ll do. But the day never comes, strangely enough.

My mother believes in keeping stuff. She’s one of those people who always comments “it’s still good”, but doesn’t wonder: for whom? for what? for when? The pied-de-poul wool suit she found in my old bedroom closet looked good to her and I vaguely promised I’d take it home with me soon, only because I didn’t want to argue. But:

– it is 10 years old – I might have liked it back then, now I don’t anymore

– I never wear suits

– I don’t like pied-de-poule

– the jacket has shoulder pads!

It may be good quality, but if I’m uncomfortable in it, if it’s not “me”, there’s no point in keeping it. On the contrary, it’s a good thing to learn by past wardrobe mistakes.

(Why do we keep such things, really? We have barely worn them so there should be no emotional attachment. Or maybe any thing we buy is felt as a link to the past, weak as it can be. If you’re like me, it makes sense!)