The Careful Editor

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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. ­čśë

 

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!)

 

Regift… paper April 12, 2010

Filed under: green living,saving — raffydarko @ 10:55 am
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When it comes to creativity, I’m a slacker. I’m always afraid of not being too good at making things with my hands… I know it’s silly, since I can’t judge the results of what I haven’t even tried. (I envy ┬ápeople who are able to modify clothes, I should find someone to teach me.)

But at least I can reuse some things as they are. Wrapping paper, for example. I just received some birthday presents with a lovely wrapping which I will surely reuse. The lilac one in the picture is a metallic envelope; the flowery one is made of a very thin paper, with a second layer underneath in burgundy – very classy! It comes from a luxury perfume shop (thanks to myboyfriend for giving me a wonderful niche fragrance). The pink one: genius. It’s tissue, it used to wrap an Easter egg and my very creative almost-sister in law used it to wrap her present. Tissue as wrapping paper is very practical, since it can be ironed before reusing.

 

I love swapping April 5, 2010

Filed under: saving — raffydarko @ 4:42 pm
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Swapping is the new shopping, they say. Oh yeah!

I found in a drawer a diary I had never used, they gave me a T-shirt for it. A body lotion was replaced by mineral foundation. In place of a book I got a DVD. These and many other swaps happened through two sites, http://www.bigwardrobe.com/ and http://www.makeupalley.com/swap and cost me nothing – except those few euros needed to post my things.

The first is the best one: BigWardrobe (UK-based) was created for swapping exclusively and trades work as on eBay. You can contact a user to offer a swap, then make a formal offer for the item and after trade is completed (which means both parts have received their ends) you leave feedback. It’s free, though you can have your address verified (thus becoming a more trustworthy swapper) by the site admins, after paying a small sum through PayPal. Each user has a virtual notice board and can build a network by adding friends as on Facebook. Clothes and accessories are the most swapped items, but almost any kind of item can be found on the site. Oh, and one can choose to swap or sell or be open to both options.

MakeUpAlley (US-based) is great for finding cosmetic brands from other countries or trying new stuff without the guilt of spending money on it. Just don’t be fastidious about used m.u.: lipsticks can be cleaned, eyepencils sharpened and brushes washed. The downsize of the site is that it is about reviews and forum debates rather than swapping: users list their items, contact other users, make a private agreement, leave a token (feedback) and that’s all. Site admins don’t meddle in swaps, home addresses can’t be verified and anybody could leave tokens to anybody, even if no swap had ever occurred between the two parts. As a result, swaplifters (people who get items, especially from new users, and send nothing in return) abound. That said, I was swaplifted just once and my experience in general is very good. If I buy a product which I then find out is not right for me, I put it up for swap right away instead of hiding it in my drawer until it expires.

Thanks to swapping, I was able to find a new home for some nice things which I wasn’t using anymore, which made decluttering a more pleasant experience. I discovered my favourite mineral m.u. brand, Everyday Minerals, through a swap. I could try the fabulous eyepencils by┬áUrban Decay. I got organic skincare products, Abercrombie and Fitch tops, great books, nice shoes… And the best swappers also include some extras in their packets, be them cosmetic samples or teabags. I once swapped for a green eyepencil and I received *three* eyepencils in different shades of green! And yes, I love green eyepencils.