Tag Archives: family

Gratefully Grateful *28*

19 Mar

A few weeks ago my family and I witnessed a horrible motorcycle accident.  It was a Sunday afternoon and we were on our way home after seeing a beautiful Steve McCurry photo exhibit in the nearby city of Monza. The motorcyclist was behind us in a long line of traffic before he decided to pass.  We saw his face in the rearview mirror seconds before he died.  Unfortunately the woman who was in the passenger seat of the car that crashed into him died as well.

None of us slept that night.  We kept playing back the horrific scene in our heads.  Besides feeling extreme sadness for the families of the people who died we were left feeling so grateful that it wasn’t us or anyone we knew.

So here’s to a safe spring season full of beautiful colourful blooms, warmer and longer days, visiting family, planting and planning our garden and so much more.

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This is Birdie.  He loves to tip things off window sills (iphones are his favourite) and he refuses to put on his specially made party hat (while awake)  He’s a walking nightmare but for some reason we love him to death.  At least 4 of the 5 family members do.2015cimiteromonumentale2

A little unexpected family trip to Milan to visit the Cimitero Monumentale.  Who would have thought visiting grave sites could be so much fun.  Proof to be found here as well.2015urbanjunglebloggersjan1

An accidental shot found on my camera that I actually love.

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Some images of a flower crown workshops that my daughters organised for their grandmother and cousin. They definitely have a future in event planning.  The small details of the workshop made my heart burst with pride (fancy snack table, little goody bags, appropriate music and even matching outfits).
2015cimiteromonumentale1Statue seen at the Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) in Milan.  Is there anything more beautiful than a mother breast-feeding her baby?

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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)

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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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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Gratefully Grateful *23*

18 Aug


Here I am sitting in my living room and catching my breath after a whirlwind summer road trip with my family.  Emphasis being on road.  We did A LOT of driving.  4000km in two weeks type of a lot.

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Many many beautiful family memories were made but I can’t tell you how happy I was to drive up our driveway a few days ago and be greeted by the famous Birdie The Cat.  Coming home is always like a sigh of relief.

So in the last 5 days we haven’t gone near our car, not even to go to the grocery store.  In times like this I’m happy I keep a well stocked kitchen.

Now off to enjoy the last weeks of summer vacation with my three favourite little people (who aren’t so little anymore).

Here are a few images that bring back summer memories and a heart full of gratefulness.

IMG_8924My girls have been bitten by the ever present loom bug.  And I am the proud owner of about 250 plastic bracelets now.
brightoncarousalI’ve fallen in love with Brighton and it’s abundance of buntings and beach carousels.

salisburtkidsTraveling as a family of four for a week was such a change (one daughter was in Holland attending a Film Camp). The family dynamic was so different to what we’re used to and getting a hotel room was so much easier (and cheaper!).  jumpseafordLook how happy I was to hike the Seven Sister Cliffs in Seaford, England.  And just behind us they were shooting a new Sherlock Holmes film.  Surprisingly enough they did not approach me to do a cameo jump shot in the movie.

Wishing you a great week!

Gratefully Grateful
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Family Travel in Italy

8 Aug

*Not long ago Inghams Italy Travel Site and Tours contacted me about sharing some of my experiences about living and traveling in Italy as a family. Inghams Italy compensated me for writing this post but all experiences, thoughts and ideas are my own.

Over the last 13 years my husband and I have lived  and raised our 3 children in Italy and done our fair share of exploring this beautiful country as a family. When considering travelling to Italy, one traditionally thinks of the wealth of historical sites, the breathtaking art and architecture, and one of the best loved cuisines, all within the stunning natural beauty  from the Alps to the Aegean – a perfect tourist destination.

But, one of the things I love most about Italy, is that it is a family centric culture.  Here, in Italy, family has the highest priority and this shows in how they treat travellers to their country, especially families.

Inevitably, you will encounter kind and generous people who will go out of their way to make your small travellers happy and comfortable.  Italians love the little ones and aren’t shy to show it – usually by squeezing cheeks and loudly proclaiming “che bel bambino!”.  No worries, your kids will get used to it and will most likely return home with an amazing sense of self-confidence.

Living in Italy has given us the inside scoop on the best places to visit, most comfortable accommodations, favourite places to eat out and just about anything else you would need to know about traveling through Italy in famiglia.

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Italy is world renown for its delectable cuisine and luckily it’s also one that most kids absolutely adore.  On just about any menu your kids will find something they’ll love to eat (and recognise).  Some favourites of local Italian kids are Pasta Rossa (pasta with tomato sauce), Riso Giallo (saffron risotto), Milanese con Patatine (breaded pork cutlet with french fries) and of course Pizza Margherita (pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella).  And if you don’t see something your child likes on the menu don’t be afraid to ask – they are usually more than willing to whip up a simple pasta for the little ones.  My kid’s favourite thing to order in a restaurant is a variety or antipasto plates.  You can’t go wrong with sliced meats, cheeses, olives and fresh Italian bread.

Gelato:  

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Of course one of the main gastronomic attractions for kids in Italy (and adults actually) is the iconic Italian gelato.  Gelaterias are found on just about every street corner and are usually made with fresh, high quality ingredients.  A promised gelato will help kids get through the museum visits, the long hours of pavement pounding, the intense summer heat and the over exhaustion of traveling that can sometimes get too much for them.  Look for signs that say Gelato Artigianale for the highest quality and home-made ice cream.  And remember in the hot summer months it’s quite normal to visit a gelateria more than once a day!

Beaches:  

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When traveling with kids you can never go wrong with a beach visit.  And Italy boasts both a myriad of coastlines and beautiful lakes to choose from.  The world famous Costa Amalfitana (Unesco World Heritage Site), the Ligurian coast with it’s famous Cinque Terre villages, the Northern Lakes including Lago Como and Lago Maggiore and the pristine aquamarine waters of Sardinia will be appreciated by the whole family.

Italian beaches are very family friendly with chairs and umbrellas for rent, small beach playgrounds and restaurants just metres from the water’s edge. From here, parents can enjoy a plate of fresh Fritto Misto while watching the kids frolic in the warm waters.  Warning: since one has to pay for a space,  these beaches can end up being quite pricey but well worth it for a few days of relaxing family time.

Read on for more tips for traveling in Italy as a family…

Continue reading

Gratefully Grateful *22*

21 Jul

This has to be the strangest July weather-wise since I moved to Italy 13 years ago.  Usually at this time of year the weather is unbearably hot and humid and all we want to do is eat gelato and swim at the lake.  This year July has offered us cool temperature, lots of rain and even some hail and wind storms.  My kids keep telling me that it just doesn’t feel “summery” at all (except when we decided to head to Milan on Saturday and it was 38 degrees and nauseatingly muggy).

I personally am not complaining because we’ve been able to get house projects done without sweating profusely and we manage to actually sleep at night without the need of fans blowing from every direction (and last night we even needed to dig out a blanket).

But I know the intense heat will arrive and with it that lazy summery rhythm that we all love and look forward to.

Here are a few of my favourite images from the last little while.

IMG_8554Despite the milder temps we still make time to visit the lake on a daily basis.  We love those long lazy evenings with friends on the beach enjoying impromptu aperitivo picnics.IMG_8550My view from the picnic blanket.  I’m not complaining.IMG_8519A little family project that we’ve been working on this summer.  The kids pooled their savings and purchased this vintage camper.  Unbelievable how much it has changed since this photo was taken.  More pics soon.

IMG_8578Colourful walls in Milan.  And long skinny 12 year old legs.IMG_8182I came across this shot I took of Sweet Paul’s Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango and Thai Basil.  Must make again soon.  So good.

Have a great week everyone!

Gratefully Grateful
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