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Days For Girls

6 Mar

IMG_5806A few months ago I was poking around online and came across a site for the grassroots non-profit project called Days For Girls. From the second I read their action plan, and subsequently their entire site in that first sitting, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.

Days For Girls was founded in 2008 by Celeste Mergens after working in a Kenyan orphanage and noticing that the girls weren’t educated about their menstrual cycles nor equipped to deal with it (no feminine hygiene products available to them).

This feminine hygiene program’s motto is: Every Girl. Everywhere. Period.  Their vision is for every girl and woman in the world to have feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene and health education by the year 2022.  Like I said before, I’m on board 100%.

Days for Girls volunteers produce reusable menstrual cycle kits.  The program has already sent kits to over 60,000 girls in over 60 countries worldwide.  These kits last approximately three years and have literally changed the lives of many girls and young women who before had to skip school and/or work due to their menstrual cycles.  This in turn has resulted in lower school drop-out rates in many areas as well as a lot less lost income for days missed at work.IMG_5817

Days for Girls is also very active in helping set up local sewing cooperatives and teaching the local women how to make the kit components themselves.

After writing back and forth with their International Chapter Liaison Cindy Murdock I started up one of Europe’s first Days For Girls teams.  So, I’m now official and couldn’t be prouder!  I’ve been busy cutting, sewing and gathering supplies for kits and luckily I have a fantastic group of friends who are happily getting involved and helping me out.

A project that helps girls and women in need and that involves sewing?  A match made in heaven for me.

If you are interested in becoming involved or donating supplies contact Days for Girls here (or look here for a team or chapter near you).  If you’re living in Italy or even Europe and would like to help out my team by sewing kit components or donating supplies (cotton, flannel, ribbon, miniature soaps, new cotton underpants or facecloths) contact me at VareseItaly@daysforgirls.org.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

This and That

21 Jun

Summer has definitely arrived here in Northern Italy.
We’ve been enjoying temperatures in the high 30s with high humidity for the last few weeks.
From early morning to late evening we have all the doors and windows open letting a warm breeze blow through the house.
The fans have been on high speed in every bedroom during the night.
We all smell strongly of mosquito repellent.
The oven hasn’t been turned on in ages.
Dinner consists of salads, sliced meats, cheeses and melon.
The freezer is overflowing with every kind of popsicle, gelato, ice cream and freezie available.
Our home grown strawberries are ripe and ready to be eaten straight out the garden and still warm from the sun.
The heavy smell of the flowering jasmine plants that cover my neighbourhood is intoxicating.
The visits to the lake are getting more frequent.

Now all we have to do is get through these last two weeks of school and buy a new hammock and we’re off to the perfect start to summer.

Last week some good friends and I jumped in the car and escaped to Piemonte for a few days (we were in the charming town of Moleto where we visited last year).  We left the kids and husbands to fend for themselves and drove off into the sunset to enjoy some downtime amongst the vineyards.  We dined, we swam, we laughed (a lot), we chatted, we drank cocktails, we donned our fancy high heels, we went for walks and we just really enjoyed each other’s company.  And we decided that these little get-aways have to become more frequent in our lives because they feed the soul and give us a much needed rest from our daily grinds.  Many thanks to the husbands for their cooperation and understanding (even if they don’t know about our plans to do it more often yet).

When I was at The Hive European Blogging Conference in Berlin last month I participated in an amazing video workshop by the talented Kat from Zero The One.  At the end of the session she had us watch this beautifully shot video which made a serious impact on me and has been lingering in my thoughts ever since.  I actually have a very close family member going through a similar battle so it’s something that hits really close to home at the moment.   After watching it with my 11 year old daughters one of them said to me “Even if the story has something so sad about it I found it so beautiful at the same time”.  I have to wholly agree with her.  She then mentioned ” I didn’t even mind that he said the f-word a few times.  He deserves it.”.   Take a peek at the video and his blog here.

IMG_9228The other morning my friend sent me a message asking me to drop by for a tea and piece of cake.  This is what I was welcomed with.  I love my friends.

IMG_9233This cat has been living in our garden for the last few years.  She comes and sits at our kitchen door and waits for food every day.  We’ve named her FumoTre and we’re actually not even sure if she’s a she but nobody wants to check to make sure.  For some reason when she meows it sounds like she has a bad case of larygitis and we’re pretty sure she’s quite fond of us due to the amount of gifts she leaves us.

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I read this article on the Top 22 Unbelievable Places That Are Hard to Believe Exist and have added quite a few of these destinations to my “must see” list.  The wisteria tunnel in Japan, the pink Retba Lake in Senegal and canola flower fields in China are just too stunning not to witness in real life.

Happy Week-End Everyone!

Hiving Fun 2013

27 May

So I’m just back from a whirlwind week-end at The Hive Blogging Conference in Berlin and I’m feeling so inspired and full of new creative energy. You should have seen me enthusiastically scribbling new ideas and projects in my notebook on the plane back to Italy last night (even if this morning I can only understand 1\2 of what I wrote).

Like last year, the highlight of this event was meeting old and new blogger friends in person.  It really does make a huge difference to spend time with these amazing ladies face-to-face.  It has me thinking that we really do have to organise more real-person time together (I have a plan brewing in my head friends).

IMG_8503The conference was held at the uber-cool Betahaus again this year.  The food was amazing and the multiple fridges full of the best beverages around was a highlight for just about everyone there (and the sound of accidentally kicked over bottles will always remind me of The Hive).  I even loved the very colourful 4 story climb up the stairs to the conference rooms. Made me feel a little less guilty after eating one (or more) of the delicious cupcakes offered.IMG_8489I have to mention how great the decorations were this year.  The lovely Lauren from Folies du Bonheur made what must have been 4 kilometres of these orange and pink paper garlands.  They were hanging up the four flights of stairs, from the ceiling and on the walls.  It brought so much joy to the venue.

IMG_8500Another great feature this year was the business card map.  Everyone got to pin their card (or my case magnet) on the beige linen map.  Obviously Germany was pretty well represented but it was also so nice to see and read the cards from everyone visiting from all around Europe.  I don’t think I ever saw the map without someone hanging out and admiring the various cards.

IMG_8512And of course there were the talks and workshops.  I heard so many stories about various blogger’s journeys within the blog world and the common denominator in all of them was the advice to blog about what you’re passionate about.  I still love Jenni Fuch’s (from Museum Diary ) quote ”If you don’t feel it, don’t blog it”.  Whether is was Katja from Travelettes, Tina from Traveling Mama or Kat from Zero The One, these women all had amazing (and different) stories, experiences and knowledge that they so generously shared with us all.  A huge thanks to every single one of them. (image above is a peek into Kat’s fascinating video workshop).

The conference founders Peggy and Yvonne did an extraordinary  job at organising everything from the speakers to the catering to even babysitting for little blogger-babies.  I was seriously amazed at how calm and collected they remained throughout the entire week-end.  I can’t wait to hear more about their new The Hive Conference in Copenhagen. (my post about last year’s The Hive is here).

Now off to sew something up with the pretty fabric that was given to us by supercraftlab!

25 Jan

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The other day I was frantically driving the kids from one activity to the next when all of a sudden I found myself alone and with a free hour before having to pick up the next child.  Usually I would spend the time doing the grocery shopping or some other errand but it was such a gorgeous day that I thought I’d go down to the lake and enjoy the views.

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This spot is literally 5 minutes from where I dropped my daughter off for her guitar lesson.  It was a bright sunny day and the mountains were clearly visible in the distance.  I sat there and soaked in the heat of the late afternoon sun and took in the stunning views.

1-IMG_5366I don’t know about any of you but sometimes I’m so busy with going about our daily routines and chores that I forget to stop and appreciate the beauty of the place I live in.  Sitting here on this little deserted beach looking out at the choppy lake and admiring the snow capped mountains gave me some peace of mind and let me re-connect after the chaos of taxiing from basketball lessons to theatre class and then rushing home to start dinner and finish homework.

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I know it’s not always easy to find these moments but when we do it usually has a lasting effect on our well-being and tolerance of getting through these busy days of ours.  Do you have a favorite place that you go to have a moment alone?

Buon week-end a tutti!

Ritorno

9 Aug

Do you have an unbelievable amount of renewed energy to clean and organise your house when you arrive home from a vacation?  For me, the first days after returning home from a long trip away is really the most efficient time to get the house scoured clean and all those  nagging little  house jobs done.  It usually starts within an hour of opening our front door and lasts anywhere from 2-3 days.

Shortly after arriving home from Belgium last week I could be found re-organising and scrubbing inside kitchen cupboards which haven’t been touched since, well, I don’t even want to say.

In the following days I emptied the fridge of all the out-of-date salsa and chutney.  I organised and classified the entire book shelf.  I swept the ceilings of all the cobwebs and who knows what.  I even hand washed the pot holders.  And it felt so so good.

I can’t really explain why I do all this but I’m happy I do.  At no other time do I have the motivation and physical energy to scrub bathroom grouting with a toothbrush or re-fold my entire linen cupboard.  Sometimes I even think about planning a trip just for the return and the rampant cleaning of my house.

So here I am at home for the rest of the summer in a beautifully clutter-free and sparkling clean space (should last a few minutes, no?) and ready to pass the next month with my three children at the lake, on the forest trails or simply lounging around at home reading or baking or sewing.   Oh, and drinking LOTS of cold lemonade…

Tattly Tattoos

14 Jul

A while back I was browsing around on-line and ended up on the Tattly Tattoos website.  I was immediately smitten.  Like they say on their website, they sell designy temporary tattoos.  And they are gorgeous!  They have such a huge selection of the most original, stylish and fun tattoos.

It took me ages to actually choose the ones that I ended up purchasing and my kids (and I) love them all.  The girls were invited to an old-fashioned outdoor dance party in an old Italian village and they decided some Tattly tattoos were the perfect special accessories to wear for it.  They went and danced the night away on an old stone dance floor in the middle of a park and had the time of their lives.  My teensy little (10 year old) daughters waltzed home past 11pm.  I’m thinking this is a taste of what our future week-ends will be like.  Oh dear.

One of the things I love is that they only charge $2 for international shipping!  Bonus for us Europe-living fans.  They just celebrated their first birthday and are offering 50% off all orders until Sunday evening (promotional code “1yearold”).

Tavolino

11 Jul

The other day I made a quick stop into my favorite mercatino usato (2nd hand shop) and found this little table on wheels.  It was brown and ugly.  And did I mention it was brown?  I hate brown.  The guy who owns the shop couldn’t believe I actually wanted to buy it.

I’ve been looking for a little table to put my computer on in the evening while I’m browsing the internet, blogging or watching downloaded episodes of Mad Men.  I’ve started getting paranoid about always having the computer sitting on my lap.  That heat must have long term bad effects on our thighs.

So I brought it home, gave it a coat of primer and then three coats of paint and called it a day (I don’t like sanding).  I’m really happy with the result and love the fact that it’s on wheels and I can push it around from couch to couch and room to room.  I kind of feel like a stewardess sometimes.
It really is amazing what a few coats of white paint can do!

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