Christmas in Rome: an Instagram Stories Documentary

Franz and I flew to Italy to spend a nice Christmas in Rome with our combined families. Since it was the first time we did it, and also the first time we cooked a holiday meal(s) for them, I decided to use the technology to provide documentary evidence of what happened.

Christmas in rome, instagram stories, christmas documentary, family, italy

Spoiler alert: Families voted the Christmas lunch I cooked, and luckily the result is a full 10. Phew! 😅

The best tool I thought of for keeping track of the food prepping and all the other shenanigans in real time was Instagram Stories. It works pretty much like Snapchat, with the huge difference that (many) people actually comment, reply and ping me every time I upload a photo or a video.

Since the Instagram Stories last only 24 hours, but I wanted to keep the memory of that glorious Christmas in Rome and Christmas epic win, I downloaded the whole story of Dec 25th and made it a video of out it. Here it is!

I hope you enjoyed it :)
Do you have any social media evidence to share that proofs your Christmas epic win?

Taken at Rome, Italy
Find more on my Instagram account and Instagram stories!

My First Automattic Christmas party

I was looking forward to this event since I started working at Automattic last June. Eventually, December arrived and it comes also the time to enjoy my company annual Christmas party!

My first Automattic Christmas party
My first Automattic Christmas party was such a blast! I had the pleasure to meet up with some of the Automatticians living in the UK. Another bunch of us had a very cool Christmas party in London too, but I couldn’t attend to that one :( They had a nice lunch and then went to a bowling place.

On the other hand, we went ice skating! Last time I tried ice skating was nearly 10 years ago! Saying that I had the best time on the ice rink with my colleagues does not even remotely explain how happy I was in there. I feel like I was born on the ice. Some of my fellow Automatticians had a bit of troubles on the ice, so Rachel (on the pic above bottom right) and I tried to help them out. It turned out I was very useless when trying to aid my friends. Here’s a bad video shot by me whilst skating – it was also on my Instagram stories.

At some point I dared to attempt an angel figure on the ice, with one of my leg flexed out first, then bent over toward my back. I succeeded! I was pretty proud of myself, and my core and stabilising muscles. After the bad injury I had a few years ago I’d never dreamt of performing something like that ❤️
Too bad no one saw my exercise, a part from a couple of guys who applauded me. Better than nothing!

Then we head over Mother India cafe, where we had a lot of good Indian food. The funny thing was the service. It looked like the staff had no clue about what we ordered and to whom to deliver the food. To be honest, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t be able to handle it better, since we were a group of thirty people spread out into two long tables, all cheering and laughing out loud.

The cherry on top was when the lightbulbs in the room started exploding for some reasons, and then a waiter made a tall pile of dishes crash on the ground. It was like we were on Candid Camera, but the food was utterly excellent, so thumbs up!

Edinburgh has been the perfect setting for a lovely evening with the best people.

As a nice side note, the afternoon I arrived in Edinburgh I also met up with my cousin Antonella who moved there last August from sunny Sardinia. It looks like she’s settled there well and I’m happy about it. This is a (rough) pic we took just before having haggis, one of the most delicious food on Earth (that’s why I’m smiling with all my teeth!)
Me, Franz and cousin Antonella in Edinbugh

And if you think that was the end of the fun, think again. The day after the Automattic Christmas party I headed to Matlock, Derbyshire, for the annual Human Made Christmas dinner. I wasn’t the only Automattician invited, as my the girlfriend of my colleague Jack, Daisy, works at Human Made together with my husband Franz (of course plus ones were welcomed in both dinners).
That was my second Human Made Christmas party, and as always it’s been a pleasure to meet up with people I can call family already.

Everybody was dressed smart casual, and I was too – underneath my brilliant Code is Poetry Christmas jumper I sported with proud also in Edinburgh.
I didn’t shoot any pictures in Matlock because time flew and was too busy chatting with everyone, but the great Noel Tock took a couple of pics for me:

All in all, I can cry out loud that I’m so privileged to be part of the Automattic and WordPress families ❤️

Taken at Edinburgh and Matlock, United Kingdom
More pictures and video have been added to my Instagram Stories! Have you missed them out?

Accepting ourselves whilst ageing

I was under certain medications for three months – nothing serious, it looks like I’m fit as a fiddle.

Anyway, now that I’m gradually recovering from the mess this treatment made to my body and mind, I want to share with you what happened meanwhile! I think this is my personal message to try accepting ourselves just the way we are, and to accept the changes by rationalising them.

So here I am in late October and November, all bloated and with a massive water retention going on. (And yes, these are my first bathroom selfies ever, and yes, I’m sporting a Jetpack t-shirt). I’m not flexing or posing or holding the breath. This is just me in my worst shape ever.

accepting ourselves - stef bloated water retention

I gained 5kg in a month or so, about 15 days after I started taking those pills. Before these three months, I thought that the wrinkles I could see on my legs was cellulite. Then I found out what cellulite looks like for real because it popped out overnight whilst under this treatment. I also experienced tiredness, massive and terrible mood swings, headaches, legs soreness, and bloating. For a comparison, these are some pics of myself before starting the medication # – ##, and one week after I started with the pills (their effect kicked out 8 days after this photo).

I felt terrible. I couldn’t control all those changes in my body, not to mention the mood swings! Reducing the calories intake to minimise the weight gain wouldn’t make any difference, as it was clear that I didn’t gain fat, but just water. I excluded food with yeast and dairy from my diet as much as I could, and that helped a little bit to avoid extra bloating.

The psychological side effects were worse than the body ones, to tell the truth. I felt down and happy, I cried and then laughed, I was nervous pretty much all the time because I was feeling uncomfortable all the time.

I then tried to rationalise what was happening to me. It would last just for three months, and those were short-term side effects. Many people told me they couldn’t even notice the difference, a part from my tummy definition that was obviously gone. Someone noticed that I was moody and my waist got wider, though.

I also took these three months as a moment to realise that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I hate that. Despite I look much younger than I am, I won’t be (and look) young forever, and my fast metabolism will abandon me at some point. The greedy-eating-all Stef will have to start eating responsibly, doing more cardio (which I hate too) and, like all of us, start accepting ourselves the way we are – evolving, ageing creatures.

This is also why I’m sharing these pictures. I’m currently transitioning out of the medications timeframe and I have already lost 3kg. I don’t know if I’m going to be 48.2 kg again, but looking back at those past months I hope to have learnt the lesson to take it easy and be less tough with myself.

I will never stop fighting the ageing, though. I refuse to surrender. I see many people ageing and being in a great shape nevertheless. I’m thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the lady at my local gym who I think is 80 or something and she’s still such a badass with kettlebells and dumbbells. Ageing will be never an excuse for me to get lazy and unfit.

22/12 Edit and pic update

Pic update, tranformation, get fit, water retention
Pic on the left is dated between October and November when I was under medications. Picture on the right is me 3 weeks off the medications. Note that the day before on the right picture I had a whole pizza and a £4 Italian gelato!

I lost 3,5kg of water retention; my tummy is more flat and I feel better now.

Still 1.5kg to lose but I’ll think about it after Christmas! 😇🍽

Taken at London, United Kingdom. Find more on my Instagram Stories too!

My Thanksgiving thought for my parents

I know Thanksgiving doesn’t belong to my culture, though I’m happy to be thankful for those two.

a thought for my parents

Not all my friends still have the bless of enjoying their parents at my age, so I cherish every single moment I can spend with them.
Since Thanksgiving is a great moment to spend some time to be grateful over all the things we have in our lives, I have a thought for my parents and my sister, since I’m very proud of her.
I’m grateful for all they taught to me and for their unconditional love.

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Taken at Nuoro, Sardinia

Proud sister

Spoiler: there’s also some Italian content in this post!

It comes the time when you have to admit that, despite the age, you’re not the smartest bean in the family, and you become a proud sister.
Look at this young lady on the right:

stef and sara, sister, sibllings, proud sister

She’s my sister Sara, and she’s just made such an accomplishment. But let me take a step back.

What my sister does for a living

Sara works for the Perugia University, she’s a PhD student and will be graduating next year.
She enrolled the uni taking a course that in English sounds like “Cultural Heritage Preservation”.
It was a mix of Art History and technical/chemical studies aimed to preserve and renovate ancient paintings and general artistic masterpieces – or something like that.

After three years of studies in this field, she felt in love with a series of chemical and microbiological techniques that are used also in the painting restorations, so she pivoted to biotechnology.

Biotechnology opened her to a wide spectrum of new stuff to learn. She got excited about many things I don’t understand, so I’m not able to explain to you – sorry!
Long story short, she’d been invited to Exeter, UK, to spend 40 days of research in there, cutting mice brains to find a specific cell or enzyme (I don’t recall in detail, sorry again!) which does something that can help find a cure to Alzheimer’s.
Then she’d been invited to Jena, Germany, to talk about that and other discoveries her team is making in Perugia.

As a PhD graduating, she’s not supposed to be one of the main authors of any papers – she’s a biotechnology padawan, she shouldn’t be able to put together a paper and publish it with the support of the team. That should be quite the opposite in fact – her supporting the team that publishes stuff.
Anyway, she made it – she’s been one of the main authors of a number of papers. Well done, right? But there’s more.

The paper that made my sister famous

Rest assure – and I want to underline this very much – that the following is the result of a collective effort and many months of team researches.
A couple of days ago, an important publication went online. Many press agencies worldwide, included the famous Italian ANSA, have mentioned it by using big titles to emphasise the news.
Here it is: English version and Italian version

I asked my sister to explain to me in plain language what she and her team achieved with this discovery.
In a nutshell, they’re trying to create a sort of ‘artificial brain’ where to grow cells that should behave like neuron cells. Those cells grow well in a specific environment my sister and her team have successfully verified in their studies. They’ve monitored the cells “vitality” by using a badass technique called Raman. This could be a game changer within all the researchers the scientific community is making on many levels.
She then added a number of words and technical wording my simple brain wasn’t able to decode into plain language.

Proud sister having proud moments

You know, if you have siblings you can hear my feelings right now. As a big sister, I’ve always had to give the example to my younger sister, so I feel like the 1% of her success is also due to my endless efforts of keeping the bar as high as possible.

On the other hand, I hope that finally my sister drops her impostor syndrome towards me. As the youngest, she felt like she was always a step behind me.
There have been times, whilst growing up, when she needed my approval for everything, because I was the older sister.

Sometimes I also sense that she fears my judgment in what she does or happens to her. Looking back, I didn’t “approve” her choice to take the academical career and work for the university.
I’m so glad to see life proofs me wrong.

As a proud sister I can’t be more happier to see that my sister is a young successful woman who’s achieving great goals in a field that in Italy often struggles to get funded, and – most importantly – is heavily dominated by men.