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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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Gratefully Grateful *22*

21 Jul

This has to be the strangest July weather-wise since I moved to Italy 13 years ago.  Usually at this time of year the weather is unbearably hot and humid and all we want to do is eat gelato and swim at the lake.  This year July has offered us cool temperature, lots of rain and even some hail and wind storms.  My kids keep telling me that it just doesn’t feel “summery” at all (except when we decided to head to Milan on Saturday and it was 38 degrees and nauseatingly muggy).

I personally am not complaining because we’ve been able to get house projects done without sweating profusely and we manage to actually sleep at night without the need of fans blowing from every direction (and last night we even needed to dig out a blanket).

But I know the intense heat will arrive and with it that lazy summery rhythm that we all love and look forward to.

Here are a few of my favourite images from the last little while.

IMG_8554Despite the milder temps we still make time to visit the lake on a daily basis.  We love those long lazy evenings with friends on the beach enjoying impromptu aperitivo picnics.IMG_8550My view from the picnic blanket.  I’m not complaining.IMG_8519A little family project that we’ve been working on this summer.  The kids pooled their savings and purchased this vintage camper.  Unbelievable how much it has changed since this photo was taken.  More pics soon.

IMG_8578Colourful walls in Milan.  And long skinny 12 year old legs.IMG_8182I came across this shot I took of Sweet Paul’s Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango and Thai Basil.  Must make again soon.  So good.

Have a great week everyone!

Gratefully Grateful
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Gratefully Grateful *19*

26 May

It has been a busy and eventful few weeks around here.  My mom arrived from Canada for a long awaited three week visit and I turned the big 40 years old.  Now I just have to get used to writing and saying the word 40.  I’m pretty convinced that this is going to be a glowing and wonderful phase of my life.

I’m so lucky to be heading into my 40s with so many beautiful things in my life: my three incredible kids, my loving and patient husband, the fact that I live in one of the most gorgeous countries, my (relatively) good health, all my amazing family (I still have my 2 grandmothers!), the ability to show my kids the world and my circle of loving and hilarious friends.  How could it not be a great new phase of my life?

Here are a few images of what has made me happy lately.
DSC03251Spending the last day in my 30’s driving around in this old Citroen and dining at the famous restaurant D’O.  The car may be loud and feel like a tin can but the funk factor cancels all that out.

IMG_7762A little visit to a local villa for a lovely rose market and exhibition.  Lots of new rose plants have made it into my garden the last few days.DSC03267The poppies that are in bloom everywhere you look at the moment.  That bright orangey red pop of colour on the green fields is so gorgeous.IMG_7766These stunning rose bouquets.  I would love to fill every room of my home with these.

Wishing you all a lovely week ahead.

Gratefully Grateful
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Goji Berry Granola Bars

15 May


IMG_7693The other day while I was wandering around the charming Orticola Flower Market in Milan I picked up a bag of Goji berries at an organic fruit tree stand.  I think we’ve all heard, over and over again over the past years, how healthy and beneficial these berries are for our health.  To tell you the truth I was actually avoiding them due to all the hype (and the fact that I read you’d have to eat a truck full to reap any sort of special health benefits from them).

In any case, I was hungry and the berries were there at the right time and place.  I have to admit that when I tried them I was pretty disappointed with the fact that they are….tasteless.  Seriously, I think cardboard has more flavour than those goji berries.  I was expecting something sweeter and with a rich flavour (especially since the berries have such a beautiful dark brick orange-y red colour).

So yesterday when I was looking for something to bake for the kids I decided to try and use up some of the berries (in order to make them a bit more edible than straight out of the bag).

Since they were quite dry I decided to soak them in a little bowl of apple juice for about 10 minutes before using them.  And the berries actually came to life.  They became soft and plump and the apple juice brought out a distinctive  flavour that I didn’t taste before.  It’s possible I ruined all the health properties of the berries by soaking them but it was worth it.

IMG_7683Read on for the recipe… Continue reading

Gratefully Grateful *17*

4 May


As I sit here gazing out of the window it looks as though there is a blizzard happening outside.  But instead of snow it’s a flurry of fluffy little poplar seeds (as captured by an IG pal here).  I’m sneezy and have a piercing headache but I have to admit that it’s a really lovely site.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in the kitchen baking muffins for a local market today.  We’re donating all profits from the bake sale to the Bianca Garavaglia Association which helps organise special activities and events for kids with cancer who have to spend months in the hospital.  As some of you know, helping causes like this is something that is really near and dear to my family’s heart.  So you can imagine how happy my kids were to sell every single muffin that we made (close to 100).

Earlier in the week a friend of mine and I organised a “Serata Americana” with our kids (the husbands had organised a meal of intestines and insects so we escaped).  We prepared hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries.  We drank lemonade and Coca Cola.  And then we watched Grease (in Italian) with bowls of popcorn and M&Ms.  My kids loved it and have since asked for poodle skirts and black leather jackets.  Love evenings like that.

So, as you can see I had a lot to be grateful for this week.

And on top of all that I’m (also) grateful for… IMG_7280-001…my first bunch of roses from my garden.  Oh and they smell so so lovely too!IMG_7423…geraniums.  And the fact that they are pretty AND can survive even though I’m a horrible gardner and that Birdie lays on top of them all day long.IMG_7357…our Serata Americana that saved me from eating these cricket kabobs.  See, I wasn’t exaggerating when I wrote about the husbands eating insects.  Blech.

Wishing you all a lovely week ahead.

Gratefully Grateful *1**2**3**4**5*,*6*,*7*,*8*, *9**10**11**12**13**14*,*15*, *16*

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*

 

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*

Gratefully Grateful *13*

7 Apr

I had my son home ill all last week and although I felt terrible that he was feeling so sick I have to admit that our long lazy days around the house together were so nice.  We played poker, watched movies, ate pancakes at 11am and went for short walks in the sun.  All his favourite things to do all and all very reminiscent of his baby and toddler days (minus the poker).  He returned to school this morning and the two of us were feeling pretty melancholic about it all.  But no worries, the tag-team-stay-at-home game between siblings is on and I now have one of my daughters home to fill the void.  So far this morning we’ve done some line drawings, spent too much time looking at Pinterest and discussed what we’ll bake this afternoon.  So here’s my GG post (a day late!).

This (last) week I’m grateful for…

IMG_6427…my camellia bushes.  These flowers only last a short while but we greatly appreciate every single blossom.IMG_6438

…all the people I met yesterday (at a local event) who were so enthusiastic about the Days For Girls project.  And, of course, my lovely friends who spent their Sunday afternoon helping me spread the word.IMG_6340-001…the fact that even though they are 12 years old they still love to pile up on my lap and tell me all the details about their day.

Have a great week!

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

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