Tag Archives: daily life

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.


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


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.



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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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.

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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Gratefully Grateful *17*

4 May

As I sit here gazing out of the window it looks as though there is a blizzard happening outside.  But instead of snow it’s a flurry of fluffy little poplar seeds (as captured by an IG pal here).  I’m sneezy and have a piercing headache but I have to admit that it’s a really lovely site.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in the kitchen baking muffins for a local market today.  We’re donating all profits from the bake sale to the Bianca Garavaglia Association which helps organise special activities and events for kids with cancer who have to spend months in the hospital.  As some of you know, helping causes like this is something that is really near and dear to my family’s heart.  So you can imagine how happy my kids were to sell every single muffin that we made (close to 100).

Earlier in the week a friend of mine and I organised a “Serata Americana” with our kids (the husbands had organised a meal of intestines and insects so we escaped).  We prepared hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries.  We drank lemonade and Coca Cola.  And then we watched Grease (in Italian) with bowls of popcorn and M&Ms.  My kids loved it and have since asked for poodle skirts and black leather jackets.  Love evenings like that.

So, as you can see I had a lot to be grateful for this week.

And on top of all that I’m (also) grateful for… IMG_7280-001…my first bunch of roses from my garden.  Oh and they smell so so lovely too!IMG_7423…geraniums.  And the fact that they are pretty AND can survive even though I’m a horrible gardner and that Birdie lays on top of them all day long.IMG_7357…our Serata Americana that saved me from eating these cricket kabobs.  See, I wasn’t exaggerating when I wrote about the husbands eating insects.  Blech.

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*

Gratefully Grateful *13*

7 Apr

I had my son home ill all last week and although I felt terrible that he was feeling so sick I have to admit that our long lazy days around the house together were so nice.  We played poker, watched movies, ate pancakes at 11am and went for short walks in the sun.  All his favourite things to do all and all very reminiscent of his baby and toddler days (minus the poker).  He returned to school this morning and the two of us were feeling pretty melancholic about it all.  But no worries, the tag-team-stay-at-home game between siblings is on and I now have one of my daughters home to fill the void.  So far this morning we’ve done some line drawings, spent too much time looking at Pinterest and discussed what we’ll bake this afternoon.  So here’s my GG post (a day late!).

This (last) week I’m grateful for…

IMG_6427…my camellia bushes.  These flowers only last a short while but we greatly appreciate every single blossom.IMG_6438

…all the people I met yesterday (at a local event) who were so enthusiastic about the Days For Girls project.  And, of course, my lovely friends who spent their Sunday afternoon helping me spread the word.IMG_6340-001…the fact that even though they are 12 years old they still love to pile up on my lap and tell me all the details about their day.

Have a great week!

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Gratefully Grateful *10*

16 Mar

Spring has definitely sprung here in Italy.  There are blooms and blossoms in every shade of just about every colour as far as the eye can see.  Bright yellow forsythia bushes, magnolia trees with massive paper white blossoms, lemon yellow daffodil flowers, dusty pink cherry blossoms, fuchsia camellia bushes and soft violet crocus flowers that the cover lawns and fields of grass.  It’s totally worth the itchy watery eyes and constant sneezing that started last week and will most likely continue for the next few months.  Being a lover of colour makes Spring my favourite season of the year.  Thank goodness for antihistamines.

This week I’m grateful for…


…these delicate pink Camellia flowers in my friend and neighbour’s yard.  I look forward to seeing them every spring.

IMG_5946…getting to celebrate the Danish Fastelavn (Carnival) with friends.  Although I don’t want to think about those poor live cats that they used to put in the barrel years ago.
IMG_5901…online art courses that my daughters can enjoy in between the hours and hours of homework and studying that they have to do every single day of their little lives.

Wishing you all a great week ahead!

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Gratefully Grateful *5*

7 Feb

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are in the world but here in Northern Italy we have had a pretty long stretch of grey and rainy days.  Luckily in the middle of it all we had one glorious day of full sun and bright blue skies that helped keep everyone’s spirits (relatively) high. In all the years that we have lived here this has to be the most bizarre winter in terms of weather.  We actually haven’t yet experienced any real winter temperatures or conditions this year.  For me it’s absolutely fine.  For my kids, not so much.  They are praying every day for snow and I hope for their sake we have at least one good storm where the snow stays on the ground for more than a few hours.  But despite the grey skies and rain (and a mild case of the flu) there have been lots to be happy about this week.

This week I am grateful for…

…that one glorious day of sun we had this week.  Seriously, it recharged my battery and gave me some much needed energy.IMG_4208…our upcoming trip to Morocco and the fact I’ll be able to pick up a new pair of colourful slippers to add to our collectionIMG_4003…a lovely walk along the lake with one of my daughters.  And this very curious goose who decided to join us.  Check out those gorgeous mountain views in the background!

Enjoy your week-end everyone!

Gratefully Grateful *1*, *2*, *3*, *4*

Gratefully Grateful °1°

7 Jan

Hello and Happy New Year to you all!  I still can’t believe it’s 2014.  Wasn’t it just 1986 and we were all hanging out listening to Manic Monday by The Bangles in our Benetton rugby shirts, teased bangs and frosted pink lipstick?

Sometimes I still can’t believe I am a wife, a mother of three and….a grown up.  An almost 40 year old grown up.  Almost.  I’m going to enjoy my last months of my 30s like you wouldn’t believe.  Then I’m going to enter my 40s with flair and enthusiasm and a positive attitude about ageing.  Hold me to it.

I’ve been pretty much off the grid the last months (except on IG – I love that community so much) and I’ve really missed writing and posting here in this little space of mine. As I mentioned in my last post we went through a hard time this past fall.  My daughters lost a very good friend to cancer.  It was so deeply sad for us all.  Seeing and helping my daughters grieve while trying to deal with my own grief was one of the hardest things I’ve been through. I was in survival mode and there were moments when I thought I was going to crash.  But we made it through.  And although we miss our little friend every single day and think about her often life has continued.  We have so many beautiful memories of her and those memories are making the pain of losing her feel a little bit softer every day.

So to get a positive start on the New Year and to motivate myself to get back to this space I’ve decided to start a new  project.  I’m going write a weekly post about things I’m grateful for.  After everything we’ve been through that’s what has touched me the most.  The fact that I have so much to be grateful for (I know it sounds cliche and cheesy but it’s true!).  And to go a bit deeper, I’m really grateful for being grateful.  There were moments in the last months that I couldn’t get past the low feelings and emotions to see all those wonderful things I have in my life.

So here’s to picking up my neglected (but much loved) camera again.  And to seeing the world through rose coloured glasses.  If you want to join me in this project I would be ecstatic.  Just leave a comment with a link to a post or photo or whatever else you’re grateful for.  And hey, why don’t we even create a hashtag as well!  #gratefullygrateful14 would be perfect.  So here we go!

I’m grateful for…IMG_3014-002

…my kid’s artwork.  It just makes me smile a lot.

…the coloured houses on the island of Burano.

…people who paint multicoloured chairs.DSC_0126-001

…kids who photo bomb my shots of decrepit walls.IMG_3177

…fountains such as this and seeing my kid’s reaction when they figure out where the water comes out.

Enjoy your day everyone!

A Kid’s Life: South Africa

14 Jun

Time for a new A Kid’s Life interview.  This series shows us how families from different cultures and countries around the world live their daily lives.  We learn about everything from what they eat to the local school system to what sort of extracurricular activities are popular.  Last week we heard from Elisa and her family who are living in Zurich, Switzerland and today we hear from a super interesting (and inspiring) family living in a seaside town south of Cape Town in South Africa.

I met Se7en (as the Mama is known online) on Instagram and I’ve been faithfully following her ever since.  I’m just so enthralled and curious about how this woman manages to mother (and homeschool) a family of 8 kids plus write a blog (called Se7en) that chronicles their life in South Africa, arts and crafts projects, outings and recipes.  This is one busy woman to say the least.  As you can see, I’m a fan.  Where does she get the energy to do it all?

After reading this interview and seeing the photos I’ve decided South Africa will definitely be one of our future travel destinations.  It seems like a pretty idyllic place to bring up a family.  I loved hearing about their second language Afrikaans (especially since we understand quite a bit knowing Dutch) and about how their school year starts in January instead of September like we’re used to. And of course, I’ve decided that sometime in our lives we’ll have to enjoy a good traditional South African braai.

So let’s hear about what family life is like in South Africa…


What country do you live in?
We live in South Africa, in a beach town south of the city of Cape Town, called Fish Hoek. We live on the slopes of a mountain over looking a beautiful beach.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?
My husband and I are both South African – born and raised, while we love traveling we have spent most of our lives under African skies.


Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
My husband works out of the house and goes into the city each day. My work is to stay home with the kids, taking care of the house and home and teaching the kids, because we homeschool.

How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
My husband and I both speak English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans is a Dutch based language that evolved when Dutch Settlers began to arrive at the Cape a few hundred years ago. We both studied a foreign language at University, and so my husband has a little French and I have a little Italian. Our country is a country of many different people groups with eleven official languages. Almost everyone speaks English and all children are taught Afrikaans at school. Then their is the local African language in each area, and children who have an African language as their first language learn that as well.fish hoek

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
We have eight children, five boys and three girls. Two teenage boys age fifteen and fourteen, then a girl age 12, then two more boys age 10 and 9, two girls age 7 and 5 and finally a little boy age 3 and a half.

Continue reading

Bits and Bobs

2 Apr

It has been a pretty busy and action filled few weeks around here.  We had my in-laws here for two weeks, an 11th birthday celebration, Easter and many day-trips and outings along the way.  Despite the horrible grey and rainy weather is was a really wonderful time for all of us.

Every now and then when I’d mention to friends that I had my in-laws here for a few weeks they would look at me with pity and tell me things like “you’ll get through it” and “hang in there”.  But luckily for me I really do have the greatest and most easy going in-laws ever.  I’ll admit it, I was quite sad when they left.  And the kids are still wandering around the house at a loss for what to do without their enthusiastic playmates that were always available to play a (4 hour) game of Monopoly, go for a walk into town or partake in a Ping Pong championship.

Here are a few images of our past few weeks:

A little trip to Lago di Como and lunch in the famous town of Bellagio.1-IMG_7098

I’m still in shock that my teensy weensy little twin baby girls turned 11 last week.  How did they go from being able to fit in their Papa’s shoe to these long lanky pre-teens?


It was a rarity that we actually celebrated Easter in our own home this year.  Usually we are in Belgium at the grandparent’s house or somewhere far away on vacation.  Last year we were actually admiring the cherry blossoms in Kyoto on Easter morning.  But this year we really appreciated the first sun we had seen in weeks by strolling along the lake and then enjoyed an amazing Peking Duck dinner (not very Easter-y but so delicious).

Easter stroll at the lake.  Learning how to skip stones and admiring the perfectly round dot on the back of the Jack Russel who kept us company on our entire walk.

2 Nov

It has been a crazy busy few weeks.  We’ve had guests, parties, trips, root canals (ouch) and a lot of movie-making.  To say I’m exhausted would be an understatement.  Oh and to top it off I’ve been off sugar for two weeks as well.  I’d like to tell you that I feel so much healthier and full of energy but I’m going to be honest; I’ve been a sugar craving basket case.  The stuff is worse than crack my friends.  It’s going to get easier, right?

Here are a few images of the past days.

Making pizza box skeletons to decorate the yard for Halloween.  In mad scientist clothing of course.

Choppy lake and snow covered mountains.  In October?  Not a good sign.

130 trick-or-treaters and a house full of friends celebrating makes the perfect Halloween.

Beach walk.

Multi-coloured leaf collection.

Arona on a sunny day.

Enjoy your week-end!

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