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Gratefully Grateful *16*

28 Apr

I can’t seem to get my GG posts up before my week is over.  I always have big plans to post on Sunday evening but then as soon as I sit down on the couch after the kids are in bed I become useless.  I can’t even manage conversation or full sentences with my husband.  Anyone else out there afflicted by this?

Last week was a good one.  A lovely day shopping in Antwerp (adore that city), a delicious sushi dinner with old friends, a lovely bike ride in the Belgian countryside, a serving of my daughter’s homemade lava cakes (they are so good) and a sunny return to Italy.  On Saturday we spent the afternoon lunching with friends outside in the hot sun followed by an evening aperitivo with other good friends (including a few IG acquaintances!).  Life is good (even if we just found out that someone in London spent 2000 euro on a limousine rental with our credit card – I hope they had a good ride!).

This week I’m grateful for…

IMG_7236…the Urban Jungle Blogger series.  It’s so much fun to integrate more green plants into my house and be part of a community of fellow urban gardeners.  And for once in my life I’m succeeding in keeping them alive (knock on wood).  IMG_7227…the sweet smell of these Lilly of the Valley flowers.  And the sweet skinny legged girl holding them.IMG_7099…that they still love to blow the dandelion seeds (me too!).

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead!

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4**5*,*6*,*7*,*8*, *9**10**11**12**13**14*, *15*

 

Urban Jungle Bloggers

25 Apr

Time for another Urban Jungle Bloggers post.  I had so much fun with last month’s post and especially admiring all the other images done by some seriously talented bloggers, stylists and photographers.  This series is really taking off and I love being part of it.

This month Judith and Igor chose the theme “Show your green balcony or windowsill”.  I love the idea of having windowsills overflowing with assorted green plants in colourful pots.  It gives a room so much life and colour.

Unfortunately we have to keep our windowsills pretty clear due to the fact that we have to open our windows twice a day in order to close and open shutters (too many break-ins to risk leaving them open all the time).  But living in gorgeous Italy makes it all worth it.

The last week I was visiting my in-laws in Belgium and since they have such a beautiful garden filled with the most lovely plants of every kind I decided to do my UJB shots there.  And being the great sports that they are they didn’t even mind me rearranging their whole terrace and moving plants, pots and garden furniture here and there.  I lucked out in the in-law department.

And since it was a warm and sunny day I decided to use an outside stoop next to a large window.  I guess you could call it an outdoor windowsill?

IMG_7203As you can see my in-laws have a great collection of Tuscan flower pots (bought at a shop close to me for a fraction of the price as in Belgium).
IMG_7206They also have a great collection of green plants and succulents of every kind.  And I have no idea what half (or more) of them are called.IMG_7197Fermob furniture in tones of purple and red match the whole garden perfectly.IMG_7185I couldn’t resist including a few colourful flowers.
IMG_7211-001Doesn’t this look like the perfect place for an afternoon tea and book reading session?  And look, I accidentally made it into one of my UJB images!

Can’t wait to check out all the other Urban Jungle Bloggers posts this month.  If you’re interested their FB page is overflowing with lovely greenery.

 

 

 

Gratefully Grateful *14*

13 Apr

So much to be grateful for this week.  Some lovely friends came to Italy for an action packed five-day visit.  We had so many interesting conversations, visits to the Design Week in the city, leisurely walks along the lake, delicious meals in restaurants (and cooked by my husband and kids) and even an impromptu jam session singing old Cindy Lauper songs in my living room.  All moments that have lifted my spirits and made me feel so happy to know these talented, creative and funny ladies. Soon I’ll have lots of photos to share but for now here are a few little images that caught my eye.

This week I’m grateful for…

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…all the beautiful and colourful exhibits and products we saw at Milan Design Week.  And for my friends who introduced me to some amazingly cool new designers, brands and shops (even if I kept getting them all mixed up in my IG feed).

IMG_6697…the gorgeous warm sunny weather we’ve had.  And these intoxicatingly lovely smelling wisteria vines that are covering the local landscape (as well as the city landscape).IMG_6732…the fact that I’m actually succeeding in training Birdie The Cat to sit in my bicycle basket while I cruise around.  How cute is that?

I wish you all a great week ahead!

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4**5*,*6*,*7*,*8*, *9**10**11**12*, *13*

Homemade Perfumed Vanilla Oil

4 Apr

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After years of trying to track down my favourite vanilla oil from the Body Shop I was told that it is officially not available for purchase anymore.  I wore that perfume since my early 20s and absolutely loved it (especially since it’s one of the only fragrances that I could wear without the  constant sneezing, watery eyes and headaches).  And I used to get so many compliments as well!  The scent was really a perfect mix between sweet with a hint of spice and was mild enough not to be too overbearing.  Besides the odd comment about smelling like a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies I really loved everything about that oil.

So after seeing it on ebay for $150 a bottle I finally decided that I needed to try my hand at perfume making.  And in the end I have to admit that it’s quite simple.  All you really need is lots of patience to get you through the 4-6 weeks of waiting until it’s finished.  Patience is definitely not my strong point so I actually found that the most difficult part.

The finished product has  a really lovely deep vanilla scent that actually lasts for quite a long time.  I use it as a body perfume, room freshener and bath oil.  I’ve even been know to put a bit on our beloved cat Birdie because, well, he stinks.

Everything you need to make this simple Vanilla Perfume Oil is shown in the photo above: vanilla beans, vodka and jojoba oil.  

Read on for full instructions on how to make your own… Continue reading

Gratefully Grateful *12*

30 Mar

This week my Gratefully Grateful post is all about two little people in my life who just turned 12 years old (so it’s fitting that today is also my 12th post in this series too!).  My twin daughters may be heading into their difficult tween/teen years but they are still the sweetest, most caring, most generous, most enthusiastic and loving kids a mama could hope for.  And surprisingly enough they still think I’m the coolest person on earth so obviously I’m pretty happy about that as well.

It seems like yesterday that we brought them home from the hospital and they were so tiny that they actually fit in my husband’s shoe.  And now I look at these tall thin lanky gazelles of girls and I realise that that cliché saying about your kid’s childhood flying by turns out to be shockingly true. Where did those curly headed, chubby, chattering little cherubs go?  Excuse me while I go weep into my pillow.

Over these years I’ve loved seeing my daughters grow up side by side.  They have so much love and respect for one another and, most importantly, have so much fun together (the constant giggling over the years is my proof).  Their mutual strengths and weaknesses compliment one another and they would stand up and protect each other to the bitter end (believe me, I’ve seen it!).

I can’t wait to see what new things and experiences are in store for my girls this year.   In any case, I know it’s going to be great.

This week I’m grateful for…

 

IMG_6228-001…the fact my daughters still wear their mama-made birthday crowns with pride.  I’ve already warned them that I will be making these for them until they have 12 year olds of their own (and that I expect to be sent a photo of them wearing them).

IMG_6210-001…my garden full of beautiful blooms and blossoms.  And the fact that they make the best decorations for a two-tier chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.  IMG_6267-001…long distant birthday phone calls from loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.IMG_6282-001…the giggles.  Oh the giggles! They keep this house alive and happy.

Wishing you all a great week ahead!

Gratefully Grateful *1*, *2*, *3*, *4*, *5*,*6*,*7*,*8*, *9*, *10*, *11*

The Hive 2014

26 Mar

**UPDATE** the person who will receive my ticket for The Hive Blogging Conference is Anastasia from the blog Stilzitat.  Hope you have a great time and make sure to take lots of IG photos so that I can follow along!

Website BannerFor the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of attending The Hive Blogging Conference in Berlin (see my posts here and here).  It’s a yearly event, held in May, that brings some of Europe’s most successful and creative bloggers together to learn, network and just have an amazing time together.  On top of these week-ends being inspiring and creative, it was also my one week-end alone (sans kids and husband) in a big city.  So I can’t even explain to you how beneficial it was on so many levels for me personally.

I loved spending those week-ends listening to and learning from some of the most influential creatives in Europe and, most of all, meeting like-minded people.  Some of the ladies I met at The Hive have become good friends and who I keep in contact with, collaborate with and even meet up with in person.

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This year The Hive decided to change things up a bit and host the event in the city famous for it’s gorgeous and modern design aesthetic, Copenhagen. After seeing photos of the beautiful venue, the list of talented speakers (Gudy from Eclectic Trends, Anne from Anne’s Kitchen and Allan from Bungalow Five to name a few) and the events and courses that are offered I think it’s going to turn out to be a pretty amazing week-end.hivespeakers

Back in the fall the conference’s founder and organiser Yvonne asked me to be The Hive trend-blogger for Italy.  I loved sending off those monthly reports on what’s hot and what’s not in the Italian blogging world.  And I have to admit that I learned a lot and discovered so many amazing Italian blogs, bloggers and creatives in the process.

Unfortunately this year I won’t be able to attend The Hive and I’m absolutely crushed.  I have my mother coming overseas from Canada to help me celebrate the fact that I’ll be turning….drum roll please…..40.  Yep, trying to keep my head high and my thoughts positive on that one.  I know it’s going to be a great new phase in my life (right?!).

So because I love The Hive and because I am entering my 40s I’d really love to give away my ticket (which I received in return for my trend-blogging work) to the 2 day conference that will take place the 17th and 18th of May (airfare, accommodation and other travel expenses are obviously not included!).  All you have to do is comment below and let me know why you’d like to attend.  Is it the networking, the workshops, the talks or the parties that attract you the most?  For me personally I’ll miss the opportunity to meet and chat with some favourite bloggers and participate in the calligraphy workshop run by the talented Betty Soldi.

Follow The Hive’s Facebook page to learn more about what’s happening in the coming months.

Hive Header 2014I’ll announce who will receive The Hive conference ticket next Wednesday on April 2nd (comments will close on Tuesday evening at 9pm Italy time!).

Gratefully Grateful *9*

9 Mar

It was another great week with sunny beautiful weather. I managed to finish up some fun sewing projects. I introduced the Days For Girls project at a local Women’s Day event and received lots of interest and support. I went fabric shopping with some of my favourite fellow sewers and ended finding some really gorgeous materials.  I spent the week-end catching up with an old friend and his sweet kids (and laughing a lot). I got to eat my favourite garlicky pizza at our local pizzeria. And I actually ticked a lot of items off my to-do list.  Nice.

I’m grateful for…

IMG_5825…sunny days in my living-room.
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 …my daughter’s washi art projects to be found around the house.
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…the fact my kids still want me to wipe the sand off their feet after a day at the beach.

Wishing you all a great week ahead.

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4*, *5*,*6*,*7*,*8*

Gratefully Gratefully *8*

2 Mar

We’re just back from an amazing week in Morocco.  We spent time hiking in the mountains, eating the most delicious Moroccan meals, visiting ancient Kasbahs, driving through the ever-changing mountainous landscapes, speaking French, building sandcastles on the beach and even surfing.  It was a full week to say the least.  And even arriving back in a freezing cold and rainy Italy at midnight didn’t dampen our high spirits.  Many family memories were made that will last a lifetime.  And obviously for that I’m extremely grateful.  As you’ll see, my grateful post is pretty Morocco inspired this week.

I’m grateful for…

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…Moroccan olives.  I miss them already

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…this neighbourhood outside of Agadir with painted trees in bright and cheerful colours and patterns.

IMG_5796…Mint Tea.  We drank it daily and even brought home a few bundles of fresh Moroccan mint and a new teapot to make some ourselves.

I wish you all a lovely week ahead!

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4*, *5*,*6*,*7*

Gratefully Grateful *7*

21 Feb

Happy Friday folks.  Here in Italy it’s a beautiful sunny day.  The tulip bulbs are sprouting in the garden.  The forsythia (say that 5 times quickly) is already in bloom.  The mountains are in full view and covered in snow.  My purple hyacinth has filled my living room with a lovely pungent perfume.  And I’m in the midst of packing for a trip to Morocco.  Life is pretty great.

This week I’m (also) grateful for…IMG_4752…Monday morning gnocchi making lessons with my lovely friends.

IMG_4777…a new project of mine that I’m so excited about.  It involves sewing and helping girls and young women in need.  I’ll be writing all about it very soon.

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…colourful cushions and quilts made for us by friends and family.

I wish you all a great week-end.  I’ll most likely be offline most of next week but I’ll try my best to post photos of our Moroccan travels over on Instagram.

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4*, *5*,*6*

Gratefully Grateful *6*

14 Feb

This has been a particularily strange week.  Besides the schizophrenic weather (one day gloriously sunny and the next with torrential winds and rain) things have just been a little wonky this week.  On Monday a little 6 year old girl at my kid’s tennis club kept asking me if I was her father’s girlfriend (and refused to believe me when I said no).  On Wednesday I received an indecent proposal (and I mean INDECENT) from an 80 year old man who lives down the street from me.  On Thursday I accidentally ate three lunches (oops).  And today my pilates teacher played only Christmas music during the entire one hour lesson.  Was there by chance a full moon the last few days?

But luckily in between all the weirdness there was lots of beauty and happiness.

This week I’m grateful for…


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… this bounty of green vitamin K packed vegetables that I picked up at the market this week.  Look how gorgeous that Romanesco Broccoli is!

IMG_4438… these colourful little scenes that I come across so many times a day.  I didn’t even mind that her sneakers were on the bureau and not in the shoe rack like they were supposed to be.IMG_4361… the fact that my kids get to grow up having the kindest, calmest and most generous and loving father around (sorry for the sappiness but it is Valentine’s Day after all!).

Have a great week-end everyone!

Gratefully Grateful *1*, *2*, *3*, *4*, *5*

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