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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*

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*

Traveling With Kids: Venice

20 Feb

My latest Traveling With Kids column is over on the creative parenting site Classic Play today.  This time I write all about traveling to Venice as a family.  We spent a few days there at Christmas and it was absolutely beautiful.  We all loved wandering along the canals and admiring the stunning architecture as well as visiting the sites and museums.  My kids have officially declared it one of their favourite cities in the world.  Lucky for us it’s only a 3 hour drive away…

traveling-with-kids-venice1Click here to read more.

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*

Gratefully Grateful *4*

31 Jan

Oh this Gratefully Grateful series is working wonders for my psyche.  I spend my days really looking for things that I’m grateful for and that make me feel good and positive and all warm and fuzzy inside.  I often find myself making mental notes of beautiful things that I see, kind people I spend time with, new things learned and ways that I can possibly change my life and my family’s for the better.  Guys, I have become Pollyanna and I am so happy about it!  Yeah, there are still those difficult and stressful moments but I let them pass quickly and get on with the good parts of my life.  And I’ll be honest about the fact that I am so fortunate to have so much good in my life.  I know not everyone does.

This week I am grateful for…

DSC_0137-001…the fact that my daughter has no fear of bright colours and patterns and mixing the two as she pleases.  Even if she ends up looking different than anyone else around.

IMG_3922…our new family hobby geocaching and how it has made our week-ends so much more fun.  Check out our homemade ‘calling cards’ that we leave in the caches we find (and our corny tag-line too!).CTCNEWLOGO…that I won a space in Xanthe Berkeley‘s online course Creating Time Capsules.  I’ve been eyeing this course for ages and still can’t believe that I WON SOMETHING!  Many thanks to Xanthe (who is one of my favourite photographers).

Gratefully Grateful *1*, *2*, *3*

I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this week.

Enjoy your week-end!

Gratefully Grateful *3*

24 Jan

This week, I am grateful for…

IMG_3940-001…this little fur-face named Birdie who spends his days attacking my ponytail.IMG_3888… colourful little sunny spots such as this that are to be found all over my house.IMG_3055…yellow striped guitar cases and the little guitarist who carries it around with pride.

Have a great week-end everyone!

Gratefully Grateful week *1* , week *2*

PBS ‘Pen Pal’ Video

22 Jan

As some of you may know I’m a huge fan of snail-mailing and pen-pals (see some of my snail mail projects here and here).  It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little girl and something that I got my kids involved in since they could just write (those early letters are almost impossible to understand but man are they cute!).  They started writing letters to their grandparents and slowly over the years started writing to some of my friend’s kids who live in other countries around the world.  For our kids writing to their pen pals was also a great opportunity for them to practice writing English (my kids are schooled in Dutch and French).

Over the years I’ve loved seeing the relationships they’ve formed with their pen pals and hearing about their big plans to all meet in person one day in the future.  In this technologically focused world these little things make a huge impression on our kids.

A few weeks ago Jen and Dave asked me if I would help them with the new episode of their PBS Adventures in Learning series and when I heard the topic was Pen Pals I jumped at the opportunity.  It was so much fun to help make (with lots of help from my better half who has the patience to figure out how the video feature on my dslr works).  Take a peek and let me know what you think!

Blackberry Lavender Jelly

19 Sep

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The other day I was in my local fruit and vegetable shop and I noticed they had some gorgeous local blackberries available.  The deep purple (almost black) berries were fat and plump and perfectly ripe.  I knew I had to buy them but wasn’t yet sure what I would do with them.

When I got home I took a little tea break in my garden and noticed my neglected overgrown lavender plants.  Usually I’m not a huge fan of using lavender in cooking and baking but I thought the dainty lavender perfume  would match perfectly with the tart blackberries without giving it that soapy  aftertaste that I’m not so fond of.

So I decided to make some homemade Blackberry Lavender Jelly and I’m so happy I did.  It turned out to have the perfect amount of tartness and sweetness paired with a delicate hint of lavender.  It’s a quick and easy recipe that is perfect for serving with fresh out of the oven biscuits.  We’ve already gone through two of the three bottles so I think I’ll have to whip up one more batch before blackberry season is over.  Maybe a Blackberry Lavender Crostata would also be appreciated by friends and family.

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Read on for recipe… Continue reading

Mangia Bevi Bici

11 Sep

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As a family we love biking.  And we love food.  So when we saw that some local businesses were organising a day of cycling with gastronomic stops along the way we were immediately on board.  Mangia Bevi Bici is an event that has been going on for three years and is slowly gaining popularity by many people living in our small region.

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The idea of the day is to do a 30km bike tour (or a shorter 18km version for the little ones) and make small stops in various towns and villages at local restaurants, community centres and gastronomic shops.

Along the way there are stops for antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto and dolce. The organisers mapped out a perfect tour along picturesque little streets and roads with just the right amount of cycling in between stops.  Usually at each stop there was a choice of several different dishes along with lots of wine and even grappa at the secondo piatto stop.  The tour included a surprise honey tasting stop as well as some gifts for the kids along the way (cycle hats and water bottles!).

Some of our favourite dishes of the day were the Pasta con Pesce di Lago (Pasta with Lake Fish), Gnocchi alla Zucca (Pumpkin Gnocchi), Lavarello alla Griglia con Arancio (Grilled Lake Fish with Orange) and of course the impressive cheese and salami plate at one of our favourite local farm.IMG_6516

I’ll be honest though, eating all that food and then having to hop on a bike was at times challenging.  I made the suggestion to the organisers that they might want to think about installing a nap-tent halfway through the tour next time.

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Even if the sky above was chasing us in between primo and secondo piatto we managed to avoid the storms for most of the day.

Even despite a few steep hills, some fallen off bike-chains and the odd flat tire it was a really wonderful way to spend a beginning-of-fall Sunday.   We’ve already started the countdown for next year.

(all photos were taken with iPhone)


Il Rientro

2 Sep

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(photo taken in Nova Scotia this summer)

Whoa.  We’re back.  It’s September.  And school starts tomorrow.  All pretty hard to believe at the moment.  These past two months have been so full of amazing new experiences and memories for our family.  We spent time in Umbria, Verona, Liguria and Canada and really took advantage of every moment together and with our friends and family.  Wholly satisfied would explain the way I’m feeling at the moment.

IMG_0667(never dare your kid to put his fingers in the pincers of a crawfish – they’ll do it and it hurts)

I have my girls who start secondary school tomorrow.  And they’re pretty much freaking out.  Every few minutes they come to me in a panic with questions of where they have to go after the bus arrives at school, where their classroom is, where the toilets are, how to avoid the areas where all the older kids make-out and so on.  Only problem is that I know less than them so it has been a challenge to keep them calm.  They’re actually starting to freak me out about the whole thing.

IMG_0908(entering the 13 degree Atlantic Ocean – evidence that they are indeed half Canadian)

Since we’re just back from Canada we’re still trying to adjust to the time change.  Lots of late nights and sleeping in late the last few days (see an example of the state of my kids at midnight here).  I think we’ll have a bit of a rough time getting up at 6:30am tomorrow morning in order to catch the school bus on time.   And I can’t even fathom what it will be like to be in my home alone for the day after two months of constant kid-companionship .  I know it will feel too empty and quiet.

IMG_1684(visiting the year 1744 at Louisbourg in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)

But I’ll be so glad to be back here sharing some of my creative endeavors, trips, recipes and even some projects that I have been working on for other blogs and sites.  I’ve really taken a breather this summer and am so ready to start again!

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(enjoying a little trip on a lobster fishing boat on the South Shore of Nova Scotia)

So, cheers to a new school year!  I know it’s going to be a great one.

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