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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

Indian Snapshots *3*

2 Feb

After a whole week of being sick with a really bad stomach flu (like REALLY bad) I finally feel like a human being again.

Last week I didn’t even have enough energy to plug in my hard drive and wade through my India photos.  If you know me you’ll understand that means that I was practically on my death bed (have I ever mentioned I tend to exaggerate a teeny tiny bit at times?).

But I’m feeling good today and managed to put together the next set of my favourite images from our recent trip to India. Sometimes I can almost taste and smell the memories of that trip just by looking at the photos.  Love that so much.

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Tasseled pillows in the market place.  I resisted.  And I regret it so much.

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Miniature eggplants and the sweetest red carrots you’ll ever eat.

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Basket of flower garlands ready for the temple.

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This woman had so much character.  My kids were terrified of her though.2014indiadeegpalace5

We were so fortunate to have a guided private tour of this old palace in Deeg.  The ornamental tiger cage (for live pet tiger) was a favourite feature.  The kids spent hours running throughout the grounds, jumping over fountains, avoiding gangs of monkeys and having the time of their lives with their friends. A favourite day on our trip in India.2014indiajodhpur6

While visiting the fort in Jodphur we came across this sweet little parakeet.  He was the most curious little guy who seemed to love getting his photo taken.  If you’re interested I have about 659 other photos of him…2014indiajodhpur8

This is his shy pose.2014indiajodhpur12 I almost can’t look at this photo because of the sadness of not being able to get a hot syrupy bowl of Gulab Jamun is too much to bear.  There is nothing like it on earth.

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Temple visiting.

Indian Snapshots *1*
Indian Snapshots *2*

Urban Jungle Bloggers: Plants and TEA

29 Jan

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It’s time for the first Urban Jungle Bloggers Post of 2015!

As I’ve mentioned in my past UJB posts I don’t have what you’d call a green thumb.  I think I might have even referred to it once as a sooty black toxic thumb.

But I’m happy to say that after my new re-found love of having lots of greenery in my home (thanks to Judith and Igor) my thumb is turning an ever so slight shade of the lightest mint green possible.  And I hope that with every month that passes the greenness will get brighter and more vivacious.  And that I’ll be able to keep more and more plants alive and happy.

But really, look how that sweet little succulent above is so healthy and, I like to think, very content looking.

At the moment I have a few that are thriving.  And a few that are…not.  But I’m keeping positive and learning a lot from all of the great links that the UJB team post and share.  It’s become such a fantastic and supportive green community of people around the world.

This month’s theme is Plants and Coffee (or Tea like I chose).2015urbanjunglebloggersjan4Since my twin daughters are laden down with (way too much) homework we rarely have time to sit down to a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate anymore.  So a few Sundays ago I decided to hide their books and persuade them to take a study break with me.  That’s right, they’re so studious that I have to HIDE their books for them to agree to take a break.  I’m a proud mama.  And at times like this a bad influence. 2015urbanjunglebloggersjan11I used my new teacups from Dutch designer Esther Horchner.  I love these so much.  I had them on my Wishlist board on Pinterest for years so when I saw them in a local shop on sale I knew I had to get them.  I just hadn’t expected them to be so shocking for some of my guests (seriously, some of them have to close their eyes when they sip their tea).2015urbanjunglebloggersjan5I decorated the table with some of my favourite miniature succulents and cacti.  I found the little copper container at a second hand shop for 2 euro and it’s perfect for these miniature plants I picked up at my local plant shop (I make a concerted effort to buy all my plants locally from small family businesses).2015urbanjunglebloggersjan2And because I’m a fabric and textile lover I decided to use my coveted piece of Japanese double gauze designed by Nani Iro  that has been sitting in my fabric cupboard for over a year waiting for the perfect sewing project.  Turns out it makes a perfect cloth to adorn an afternoon tea party with the two coolest almost thirteen year olds around. And their equally cool mama (right?).2015urbanjunglebloggersjanwithlogo *Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series initiated by 2 bloggers: Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). Every month they share ideas to create an urban jungle through styling ideas, DIYs and green tips & tricks. You can find additional inspiration on their Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board and keep up-to-date on our website and Facebook page. Want to join? Use #urbanjunglebloggers on Twitter and Instagram. Or let them know and they’ll share the badge and upcoming topics with you. Let’s bring some green into our homes and blogs!  

Indian Snapshots *2*

22 Jan

I’ve been slowly making my way through more of the thousands of photos from our India trip. Sorting, editing, deleting and putting them in all sorts of absurd and confusing folders on my laptop. Unfortunately this will drive my husband crazy when it’s time to start making our photo book in the near future.

One of my major goals for 2015 is to master a system to organise and store all my photos. I break out in a sweat just thinking about it.  Please, wish me luck.

Here is the next batch of my favourite shots from our trip.


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Can you spot the two turbaned men in white?

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A little urban garden in the courtyard of a palace guesthouse.  I contemplated stealing those flags.  But resisted. (Ghanerao)

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Woman at temple in Udaipur.

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Expect to see fresh floral garlands in every single on of these Indian Snapshot posts.  These garlands were adorning the holy motorcycle shrine that I mentioned in the last post.

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Ladies doing the daily washing at the lake in Udaipur.

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Beautiful door.  Stray dog. (Ghanerao)

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This is the friend of the yellow turbaned man from Indian Snapshots *1*2014indiaghanerao13

He pulled this pipe out of his turban and asked me to take a photo of him pretending to smoke it.  I’m still wondering what else he has stored in his turban. (Ghanerao)

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Found this shot on my camera.  Taken by my daughter who has obviously adopted my love of photographing her feet.

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Perfect spot for some spiced chai first thing in them morning. (Ghanerao)

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I don’t know what these little steps along this blue wall were for (they are overlooking a lake).  But right after I took this photo they were covered with frolicking monkeys trying to make eye contact with us. (Deeg Palace)

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I wanted to get a shot of him entering this little room.  This is what he gave me. (Agra Fort)

Indian Snapshots *1*

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!

Gratefully Grateful
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Map Themed Gift Guide

12 Dec

I wrote a map themed gift-guide over on Classic Play that includes some really fantastic options for just about anyone on your holiday gift list.  Everything from map adorned leggings and scarves to whiskey flasks and enamel mugs to my favourite map-inspired books on the market at the moment.  Take a look at the full post here.

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Coroncine Floreali

10 Dec

Hello.

I’m still here!

I’m just popping in to share about a lovely fresh flower crown workshop that my twin daughters and I did a few week-ends ago in Milan.

The workshop’s venue was the most charming little café that doubles as a cultural centre called Spazio Culturale My G where they offer all sorts of creative courses for kids and adults.  It’s a bright and colourful space filled with charming old couches, mismatched wooden chairs and an amazing book corner (where they even sell my favourite FLOW magazine!).

When we arrived at the workshop we were warmly welcomed by our flower-crown teacher Jessica from the blog Uhlalà.  Such a vibrant and happy lady and so talented with flowers.

flowercrownThe flowers that we worked with were Ranunculus, Anemone and Chrysanthemum.  There were also branches of a special type of Mimosa that I had never seen before, Eucalyptus branches and some berry branches as well.  A beautiful mix of colours and textures.  flowercrownflowers2About 15 of us worked around a big wooden table covered in buckets of flowers, berries, special florist tapes and tools and different coloured ribbons.  Jessica explained everything perfectly and we dove in and started creating our crowns. 
flowercrowntable I was amazed at how quickly the girls caught on and unlike me didn’t have to think and re-think about how to put it all together.  I had a serious creative block for the first half hour while my daughter Chloe worked like  a busy bee non-stop and without any doubt or indecisiveness.

flowercrownhandsAll the ladies in the workshop made beautifully dainty feminine crowns.  It was a beautiful sight to see everyone at the end proudly walking around wearing them.  flowercrownevaAs you can see from the two photos above, my daughters’ crowns ended up being completely different.  Their unique personalities really showed through in the finished product.flowercrownflowers

Since the workshop we’ve already had one big flower crown making session.  We tried out different blooms and branches that we bought and collected from our garden.  They came out beautifully and we can’t wait to make some more.  Many thanks to Jessica for such a lovely Sunday morning.  And thanks to Yael from Spazio Cultural My G for organising such fun workshops.  We can’t wait to come back.

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