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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
*1**2**3**4**5*,*6*,*7*,*8*, *9**10**11**12**13**14*,*15*,*16*,*17*, *18*

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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…

IMG_6646

…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*

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*

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