Gratefully Grateful *26*

13 Oct

I’m sitting here recovering from a whirlwind 48 hour trip to Belgium.  It’s actually amazing how much my daughters and I squeezed into our short trip: passport renewal appointment, visit to the charming city of Brugge, eating waffles and french fries, shopping in HEMA, visit to the girls’ great grandmother and a fun family birthday party with cousins.  Exhausting but so much fun.

Here are a few images that are making me smile on this rainy, chilly, grey day here in Northern Italy.

IMG_0275I’m a sucker for colourful garlands.  They just make me happy.

IMG_9613My daughters and their friends made this little breakfast for themselves using vegetables from our garden.  They have inherited my love of making food beautiful as well as delicious.

IMG_0138Sharing her french fries.  I’m not sure if she has a frown or a smile behind there though.IMG_9617My kids are currently obsessed with archery (thanks to Hunger Games of course). We visited a local farm that offers courses and I fell in love with their arrows.

Have a great week!

Gratefully Grateful
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Traveling With Kids: Amsterdam

26 Sep

Time for another Traveling With Kids post over on creative parenting site Classic Play.  This time I delve deep into why Amsterdam is my favourite city to travel to as a family.  I fell in love with this city as a carefree 20 year old (wink wink) and I love it even more as a traveling mama.  Read about all my favourite sites, bites and things to do with kids in this fantastic city here.

amsterdamMany many thanks to my super talented bloggy pals Deepa, Judith and Giova for helping out with this post!

Urban Jungle Bloggers

25 Sep

After a summer hiatus Urban Jungle Bloggers is back online today and I couldn’t be happier.  I love seeing my FB and Pinterest feeds inundated with fresh green-inspired images full of lush plant life.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not an expert plant keeper.  My heart is in the right place but my mind is, as usual, elsewhere.  I love all the green loveliness that fills the rooms of my home but for some reason I just sometimes forget that they need care and water.  Luckily, I’m not like this with my three kids.

So after a summer of coming and going my poor plants were all looking a little….brown.  And dry.  But I’ve made a promise to myself and the plants to take better care of them.  Play them music.  Dust their leaves.  Oh, and maybe give the a little something to drink more often.  In any case, even after a few days of love they’re already starting to look a lot livelier and happy.

Today’s UJB theme is Back To School: Plants on the Workplace.  I shot a few images of where I’ve been working lately.  Whether it be on the computer writing or editing photos, sewing or crafting with my girls.

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I don’t have any succulents or house plants per se where I work but I love having fresh herbs surrounding me.  It’s amazing what a brush of a hand over a rosemary or thyme plant can do to your concentration and energy levels.  The smell is like a jolt of caffeine (for me at least).

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I also always make sure to have a fresh mint plant.  Sometimes I throw a few leaves in my teapot or rub them in between my fingers.  The smell of fresh mint is one of my all time favourite scents and, again, so energizing.

IMG_9983And because I’m a colour lover I always include a little vase of fresh flowers.  Usually in my coveted Gokuri Peach Juice can that I got out of a vending machine at a train station in Kyoto, Japan.  Oh and tea.  There’s always tea on my workplace.  As you can see in the photo on this particlur day I was in a detox tea mood (to counteract an overdose of sugar the day before).

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When I break out the sewing machine things start to get a little messy and crowded on my workspace.  Which I have to admit I kind of love (except the little pieces of thread that get wedged in my computer keyboard).

Can’t wait to check out the other UJB images for this month.  If you’re interested you can visit their brand new website, their FB page and their Pinterest page.  Many thanks to Judith and Igor for such a cool initiative.

backtoschoolUJB

Gratefully Grateful *25*

23 Sep

Despite the sadness of losing my children’s only great-grandfather this past week I can’t help but feel so grateful for the time we all had together. We have been so fortunate to know and spend time with this amazingly dynamic man who put family in the centre of his life.  His enthusiasm for everything from art to travel to the goings-on of his very large immediate family was contagious (as well as his famous giggle).  We’ll miss him dearly but have many lovely memories to remember him by.

Some images that made me smile despite the sad news this week:

IMG_9922The best reading corner in the house on a sunny day.  Also perfect or a sun-spot nap. 
IMG_9884Last days of summer hats and dresses.

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Trying to paint a kitchen with a large clumsy cat in the middle of it all actually makes it much more fun.  For me at least.IMG_7827

I run into Idyllic little scenes such as this every single day.  I love living in Italia.

Have a great week!

Gratefully Grateful
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Gratefully Grateful *24*

8 Sep

I’m going to be honest up front here and say that September is not my favourite month. After the summer holidays and being with my kids day in and day out I always find September and back-to-school such a lonely time of year.

I need to re-adjust to being solo for the most part of my days. I need to re-adjust to having an empty and hauntingly silent (and tidy) house. I need to re-adjust to having time for myself and doing groceries and errands without three chatty kids with me.

In the end I just plain miss my kids during the 10 months of school each year. I even offered to home-school them at a certain point but was politely told that it was never going to happen.

But I know in a few short weeks I’ll have my life more organised, lots of activities scheduled, projects lined up and my feet back firmly on the ground.

Anyone else out there feel the same way around this time of year?

Here are a few images from our summer vacation.  Even if we had record breaking bad weather it really was a great one.

IMG_8918Evidence that my daughter is a lover of stripes.  Just like her Mama.
*taken in Albissola Marina, Liguria*

IMG_8913So grateful that we can arrive at the Meditteranean in less than two hours.  My kids spent our days there body surfing in the warm water, eating gelato and foccacia and doing crosswords under the parasol with their Mama.

IMG_8231I will always and forever love geraniums.  Amen.IMG_8533Bikes in a charming courtyard in the centre of Milan.IMG_8259

Lovely memories of eating at this little wine bar at a local lake.  Their cheese plate served with champagne jelly is life changing.

Wishing you all a lovely week ahead.

Gratefully Grateful
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Gratefully Grateful *23*

18 Aug


Here I am sitting in my living room and catching my breath after a whirlwind summer road trip with my family.  Emphasis being on road.  We did A LOT of driving.  4000km in two weeks type of a lot.

*Italy-Switzerland-Germany-Luxembourg-Belgium-Holland-Belgium-France-England-France-Belgium-Holland-Belgium-Luxembourg-Germany-Switzerland-Italy*

Many many beautiful family memories were made but I can’t tell you how happy I was to drive up our driveway a few days ago and be greeted by the famous Birdie The Cat.  Coming home is always like a sigh of relief.

So in the last 5 days we haven’t gone near our car, not even to go to the grocery store.  In times like this I’m happy I keep a well stocked kitchen.

Now off to enjoy the last weeks of summer vacation with my three favourite little people (who aren’t so little anymore).

Here are a few images that bring back summer memories and a heart full of gratefulness.

IMG_8924My girls have been bitten by the ever present loom bug.  And I am the proud owner of about 250 plastic bracelets now.
brightoncarousalI’ve fallen in love with Brighton and it’s abundance of buntings and beach carousels.

salisburtkidsTraveling as a family of four for a week was such a change (one daughter was in Holland attending a Film Camp). The family dynamic was so different to what we’re used to and getting a hotel room was so much easier (and cheaper!).  jumpseafordLook how happy I was to hike the Seven Sister Cliffs in Seaford, England.  And just behind us they were shooting a new Sherlock Holmes film.  Surprisingly enough they did not approach me to do a cameo jump shot in the movie.

Wishing you a great week!

Gratefully Grateful
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Family Travel in Italy

8 Aug

*Not long ago Inghams Italy Travel Site and Tours contacted me about sharing some of my experiences about living and traveling in Italy as a family. Inghams Italy compensated me for writing this post but all experiences, thoughts and ideas are my own.

Over the last 13 years my husband and I have lived  and raised our 3 children in Italy and done our fair share of exploring this beautiful country as a family. When considering travelling to Italy, one traditionally thinks of the wealth of historical sites, the breathtaking art and architecture, and one of the best loved cuisines, all within the stunning natural beauty  from the Alps to the Aegean – a perfect tourist destination.

But, one of the things I love most about Italy, is that it is a family centric culture.  Here, in Italy, family has the highest priority and this shows in how they treat travellers to their country, especially families.

Inevitably, you will encounter kind and generous people who will go out of their way to make your small travellers happy and comfortable.  Italians love the little ones and aren’t shy to show it – usually by squeezing cheeks and loudly proclaiming “che bel bambino!”.  No worries, your kids will get used to it and will most likely return home with an amazing sense of self-confidence.

Living in Italy has given us the inside scoop on the best places to visit, most comfortable accommodations, favourite places to eat out and just about anything else you would need to know about traveling through Italy in famiglia.

Food:  IMG_6382

 

Italy is world renown for its delectable cuisine and luckily it’s also one that most kids absolutely adore.  On just about any menu your kids will find something they’ll love to eat (and recognise).  Some favourites of local Italian kids are Pasta Rossa (pasta with tomato sauce), Riso Giallo (saffron risotto), Milanese con Patatine (breaded pork cutlet with french fries) and of course Pizza Margherita (pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella).  And if you don’t see something your child likes on the menu don’t be afraid to ask – they are usually more than willing to whip up a simple pasta for the little ones.  My kid’s favourite thing to order in a restaurant is a variety or antipasto plates.  You can’t go wrong with sliced meats, cheeses, olives and fresh Italian bread.

Gelato:  

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Of course one of the main gastronomic attractions for kids in Italy (and adults actually) is the iconic Italian gelato.  Gelaterias are found on just about every street corner and are usually made with fresh, high quality ingredients.  A promised gelato will help kids get through the museum visits, the long hours of pavement pounding, the intense summer heat and the over exhaustion of traveling that can sometimes get too much for them.  Look for signs that say Gelato Artigianale for the highest quality and home-made ice cream.  And remember in the hot summer months it’s quite normal to visit a gelateria more than once a day!

Beaches:  

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When traveling with kids you can never go wrong with a beach visit.  And Italy boasts both a myriad of coastlines and beautiful lakes to choose from.  The world famous Costa Amalfitana (Unesco World Heritage Site), the Ligurian coast with it’s famous Cinque Terre villages, the Northern Lakes including Lago Como and Lago Maggiore and the pristine aquamarine waters of Sardinia will be appreciated by the whole family.

Italian beaches are very family friendly with chairs and umbrellas for rent, small beach playgrounds and restaurants just metres from the water’s edge. From here, parents can enjoy a plate of fresh Fritto Misto while watching the kids frolic in the warm waters.  Warning: since one has to pay for a space,  these beaches can end up being quite pricey but well worth it for a few days of relaxing family time.

Read on for more tips for traveling in Italy as a family…

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