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Moroccan Snapshots

8 May

A few weeks ago I went on a beautiful 4 day Moroccan adventure with my mother and step-father.  It was so much fun to take them to one of my favourite places on earth and show them how much the country has to offer everyone who visits.

And I have to admit that they were some of the most gracious, enthusiastic and laid-back travel companions I’ve ever had.

The food, the countryside, the people, the culture, the weather, the cities…we saw and did so much in such a short time and it was absolutely lovely.

Here are a few of my favourite images from our time in the Moroccan mountains…

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Small colourful shops at the famous Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou.2015morooco1

This woman makes the most delicious bread known to mankind.

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Typical Moroccan decor.  Simple but colourful and warm.

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The perfect spot for lunch with views on the mountains, a lush green oasis and blooming bougainvillaea in every colour.

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The oasis of Flint, Morocco.2015morooco3

A visit to a typical weekly market near Ouarzazate,  This truck full of oranges was amazing.  So was the truck full of peas a little further down.

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Jazz hands.  Cactus style.2015morocco1

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My mother and I hiked up a steep mountain to get to this abandoned kasbah.  It was physically hard for her but she trudged through it and really pushed herself. I was so proud of her for persevering through the fatigue and pain and reaching the top. And I’m pretty sure she was tempted to push me down the mountain more than several times (I’ll admit it, I have a slight Drill Sergeant style while motivating people to push through pain).

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Gratefully Grateful *28*

19 Mar

A few weeks ago my family and I witnessed a horrible motorcycle accident.  It was a Sunday afternoon and we were on our way home after seeing a beautiful Steve McCurry photo exhibit in the nearby city of Monza. The motorcyclist was behind us in a long line of traffic before he decided to pass.  We saw his face in the rearview mirror seconds before he died.  Unfortunately the woman who was in the passenger seat of the car that crashed into him died as well.

None of us slept that night.  We kept playing back the horrific scene in our heads.  Besides feeling extreme sadness for the families of the people who died we were left feeling so grateful that it wasn’t us or anyone we knew.

So here’s to a safe spring season full of beautiful colourful blooms, warmer and longer days, visiting family, planting and planning our garden and so much more.

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This is Birdie.  He loves to tip things off window sills (iphones are his favourite) and he refuses to put on his specially made party hat (while awake)  He’s a walking nightmare but for some reason we love him to death.  At least 4 of the 5 family members do.2015cimiteromonumentale2

A little unexpected family trip to Milan to visit the Cimitero Monumentale.  Who would have thought visiting grave sites could be so much fun.  Proof to be found here as well.2015urbanjunglebloggersjan1

An accidental shot found on my camera that I actually love.

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Some images of a flower crown workshops that my daughters organised for their grandmother and cousin. They definitely have a future in event planning.  The small details of the workshop made my heart burst with pride (fancy snack table, little goody bags, appropriate music and even matching outfits).
2015cimiteromonumentale1Statue seen at the Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) in Milan.  Is there anything more beautiful than a mother breast-feeding her baby?

Gratefully Grateful
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Indian Snapshots *5*

3 Mar


2014IndiaJaipur21Threading flowers into garlands on the side of the road.

2014IndiaJaipurumbrellasMy husband saw me eyeing these large colourful embroidered umbrellas and said “too bad it would be impossible to bring one home”.  I took it as a challenge and successfully got one home. Maybe even more than one.  
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The impressive Amer Fort in Jaipur.  Once again my son made eye contact with a monkey who jumped on his back and started punching him. I spent two weeks screeching ” for the love of Lucy STOP making eye contact with the blasted monkeys!!”.2014IndiaJaipurflowergarland
They’re everywhere.  Luckily.
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One of the most stylish hairdressers I’ve ever come across. I’d love a few of those chairs for my living-room.2014IndiaJaipurkiteOne of the favourite past-times for kids in India is kite flying.  From almost every rooftop you can see little children with with their arms stretched skywards and their colourful kites floating high above.  My kids bought some kites made from chip bags for 5cents in a tiny town in the countryside and flew them off the roof-top of one of our hotels.  A highlight of the trip for them and a reminder to me that sometimes it’s the simple things that bring so much pleasure.

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Hawa Mahal in Jaipur.  Looks peaceful in this photo but the traffic right in front of it is absolutely nuts.  I almost died crossing the street to take this photo.2014IndiaJaipur22More garland threading.  Never gets old.

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Boiling block printed fabrics in indigo pots.

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Our car and driver for our trip to Bagru.  This guy was the epitome of cool and classy.  And that car was spotless and in mint condition.  Until my kids spent the day in it.

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Days For Girls Update

12 Feb

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A little over a year ago I posted here about the non-profit grassroots project called Days For Girls.  I had just started up Italy’s first (and only) team and was really excited and full of ideas of how I could build up a community of women who would be willing to help me help girls around the world manage their monthly menstrual cycles with ease and dignity.

I’ll be honest, at the beginning it felt slightly awkward talking so openly about periods, pads and menstrual flow with complete strangers.  But I’m happy to say that I am now 100% comfortable talking about every detail of women’s reproductive systems with everyone from the local baker to my car mechanic.

For those of you who have never heard of Days For Girls I’ll quickly re-cap what the project is all about.

Days For Girls was started by Celeste Mergens in 2008 after working in a Kenyan orphanage and noticing that a lot of the girls weren’t educated about their menstrual cycles nor equipped to deal with it.

Soon thereafter Celeste started up Days For Girls which is an incredible and supportive network of volunteers around the world who make and put together re-usable menstruation kits that are then delivered to girls in need in over 60 countries around the world (over 60,000 kits have already been delivered).

These kits last for approximately three years and have literally changed the lives of girls and women who before had to miss school or work due to their periods.  This in turn has helped lower school drop-out rates in many areas as well as less loss income for days missed at work.  So much good!

This project has come to mean so much to me over the last year.  I’ve introduced Days For Girls at many local clubs and events and have always had so much enthusiasm from everyone I’ve met.  Even the sweet and hilarious 85 year old man who kept insisting that they would make perfect pencil holders before realising their real use.

One of the most common reactions I see from people as I explain the project is the feeling of shock when they realise that they had never actually thought about this problem before.  We think of helping people with food, water, clothing and shelter but rarely does it come to mind to help girls deal with monthly menstruation and educate them about women’s health and the female reproductive system.2014daysforgirls2 To hear more about our Indian kit delivery and see photos click to read on… Continue reading

Gratefully Grateful *27*

12 Jan

Here I am, sitting at my computer and wondering how I can start the new year off here in this little space of mine.  A space that was pretty much neglected for a lot of 2014.  But a space that meant a lot to me just the same.

The last few days I’ve been looking back at old posts and photos and enjoying reliving some beautiful moments of last year.  And in the end that’s the reason I keep coming back and sharing here on Jillian In Italy.  I love wandering back and taking peeks into my life and the lives of my family.

Last year offered some lovely times and some not so lovely times.  Just like any other year.

In 2014 I learned a lot about relationships. I really realised how important and invaluable my friends are in my life. Living away from family can be really hard and having good loyal friends to rely on is essential.  My friends are my family.  We support each other and step in when family usually would.  So 2015 is the year to really cherish, appreciate and have fun with all those people I love so much.

I’ll be continuing this Gratefully Grateful series this year and sharing images that make me smile and remind me how fortunate I am to have the life that I do.  Seriously, even though there are rough times, sad times and aggravating times these little moments poke through it all and shine.

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A day snowshoeing in the local mountains.  It was 20 degrees, the sun was shining and there was a huge plate of polenta waiting at our destination.  Oh and I learned that bending over to put on snowshoes after a 2 hour polenta lunch (with dessert) is not an easy task.mercatinodinataleangera14-4

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Came across these images of my Christmas market stand with the infamous Patamaga.  We may not have sold out of our wares but we had a great day drinking tea, chatting, eating her Mama’s delicious food and trying to stay warm for the 12 hours we were outside.  And those yarn-bomb trees that my daughters made were our top sellers of the day. Obviously.2014daysforgirls2 On our recent trip to India (more on that soon) we made a Days For Girls kit delivery to the Delhi Council for Child Welfare. Seeing those kits that we’ve been making and assembling for the last year in the hands of happy girls was definitely a highlight of 2014 for every member of my family.

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IMG_8876And even though we’re experiencing spring like weather here in Italy I know a lot of you out in the world are suffering through snowy cold winter days.  So these Ligurian seaside photos from last summer are for you.  May they warm your thoughts a tad and show you there is light (and sun) at the end of the (winter) tunnel.

Have a great week!

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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!

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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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