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*

Indian Snapshots *1*

16 Jan

As some of you may know we just got back from an absolutely amazing two weeks in India.  It was such an invigorating (and at times slightly chaotic) trip for the five of us.

From the minute we arrived in Delhi all of our senses were on over-drive and we loved it.  Not everybody does, I know.  Visiting India is one of those manic experiences that has you on your toes every second of the day.

The range of emotions that one feels while visiting India is vast. There is is always something to marvel at, something that makes you cringe, something that makes you catch your breath, something that makes you look away, something that brings tears to your eyes, something that puts a wide grin on your face or something that makes you realise how fortunate you are to have such a comfortable and happy life.

But more than anything India offers so much beauty and colour.

Visiting India can sometimes feel like an emotional roller coaster.  But in the best way possible.

As I did last year for our trip to Morocco, I’ll be posting a series of my favourite images of our trip over the next few weeks.

Enjoy!

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This sweet old woman loved having her photo taken and was delighted when I showed her the image on the screen of my camera.  We bought the loveliest flower garland from her to leave at the nearby shrine and then we passed out Kinder chocolates to all of her grandkids,  She giggled the entire time.  (village of Ghanerao)

2014indiaghanerao3I can’t even begin to count the amount of doors and entryways that I fell in love with during our time in India.  Indians know how to combine colours like no other people on earth.  The brighter the better.  Words to live by in my books. (Ghanerao, India)

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A tiny temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god.  The colours, the garlands, the posters, the man handing out milk sweets.  Perfection.  (Deeg Palace)

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As I mentioned on IG during our trip, India deteriorates in the most delicate and beautiful manner.  The layers of pastel coloured chipped paint made my heart skip a beat.  It even matched the stagnant lake water (that was most likely hosting more than a few diseases). (Deeg Palace)

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India was covered in beautiful bougainvillea while we were visiting.  Everything from hot pinks to soft oranges to vibrant yellows.

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Bells, garlands, saris, turbans, prayer strings, bindis, drummers, flowers and three kids who were taking it all in in awe.  Image taken at the infamous Om Banna Shrine (dedicated to a holy motorcycle) outside Jodhpur.

2014indiaghanerao7A really friendly old man who seemed to think I was nuts to want to photograph him.  Next time I’ll include a photo of his friend sitting next to him who kept fishing large items out of his massive red turban. (Ghanerao, India)

Traveling With Kids: The Travel Savings Jar

14 Jan

For this month’s Traveling With Kids column I wrote all about my favourite and relatively pain-free way to save money for future travel adventures with your family.  The Travel Jar has worked for us for years and has provided spending money for some of our favorite trips around the world.  So if you’re in need of a way to help your family save a little bit of extra cash this is the thing for you!  Read full post here.how-to-save-money-for-travel-

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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Gratefully Grateful *26*

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!

Gratefully Grateful
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Traveling With Kids: Amsterdam

26 Sep

Time for another Traveling With Kids post over on creative parenting site Classic Play.  This time I delve deep into why Amsterdam is my favourite city to travel to as a family.  I fell in love with this city as a carefree 20 year old (wink wink) and I love it even more as a traveling mama.  Read about all my favourite sites, bites and things to do with kids in this fantastic city here.

amsterdamMany many thanks to my super talented bloggy pals Deepa, Judith and Giova for helping out with this post!

Urban Jungle Bloggers

25 Sep

After a summer hiatus Urban Jungle Bloggers is back online today and I couldn’t be happier.  I love seeing my FB and Pinterest feeds inundated with fresh green-inspired images full of lush plant life.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not an expert plant keeper.  My heart is in the right place but my mind is, as usual, elsewhere.  I love all the green loveliness that fills the rooms of my home but for some reason I just sometimes forget that they need care and water.  Luckily, I’m not like this with my three kids.

So after a summer of coming and going my poor plants were all looking a little….brown.  And dry.  But I’ve made a promise to myself and the plants to take better care of them.  Play them music.  Dust their leaves.  Oh, and maybe give the a little something to drink more often.  In any case, even after a few days of love they’re already starting to look a lot livelier and happy.

Today’s UJB theme is Back To School: Plants on the Workplace.  I shot a few images of where I’ve been working lately.  Whether it be on the computer writing or editing photos, sewing or crafting with my girls.

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I don’t have any succulents or house plants per se where I work but I love having fresh herbs surrounding me.  It’s amazing what a brush of a hand over a rosemary or thyme plant can do to your concentration and energy levels.  The smell is like a jolt of caffeine (for me at least).

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I also always make sure to have a fresh mint plant.  Sometimes I throw a few leaves in my teapot or rub them in between my fingers.  The smell of fresh mint is one of my all time favourite scents and, again, so energizing.

IMG_9983And because I’m a colour lover I always include a little vase of fresh flowers.  Usually in my coveted Gokuri Peach Juice can that I got out of a vending machine at a train station in Kyoto, Japan.  Oh and tea.  There’s always tea on my workplace.  As you can see in the photo on this particlur day I was in a detox tea mood (to counteract an overdose of sugar the day before).

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When I break out the sewing machine things start to get a little messy and crowded on my workspace.  Which I have to admit I kind of love (except the little pieces of thread that get wedged in my computer keyboard).

Can’t wait to check out the other UJB images for this month.  If you’re interested you can visit their brand new website, their FB page and their Pinterest page.  Many thanks to Judith and Igor for such a cool initiative.

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