Tag Archives: photography

Traveling With Kids: Musement Travel App

27 Jun

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of testing out a new Cultural/Travel App called Musement.  It was a great experience and an app that I’ll be using often on my family’s upcoming travels.  Find out what it’s all about and how it can make your travels a lot less stressful and enjoyable over on Classic Play (as well as what we did with it!).  Hint: it involves skipping line-ups at your favourite museums and events!musementclassicplay

Gratefully Grateful *21*

23 Jun

Oh June.  You’re a month that knocks me off my feet.  The end-of-year parties, going-away parties, birthday parties, school parties, bbq parties, recitals, plays, events and just about anything else you can think of have been keeping our days (and most evenings) BUSY.

Not to mention the World Cup which is all everyone is talking about over here in Italy.  Usually we’re a family that knows absolutely nothing about football (soccer).  We don’t understand the game, wouldn’t recognise a player if he walked past us nor really ever cared about who was winning or losing.  But somehow that has all changed and my Belgian husband and kids have become crazed.  You should have heard them screaming when Belgium made the winning shot (goal?) in last night’s game.  Hilarious.

Here are a few images to add to my Gratefully Grateful series…

IMG_8356 Test shot for our upcoming photo booth at a local pyjama run in support of kids with cancer.  A few years ago we folded those paper cranes (actually 1000 in total) for a little friend of ours who was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  He’s doing really well at the moment and we couldn’t be happier. (holy top knot!)IMG_8330If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen a similar photo to the one above.  I bought these golden raspberries at a local farm and have fallen head over heels for this fruit.  Sweeter than the traditional red ones but with a with a slightly different taste.  Can’t wait to make an Italian Crostata with Golden Raspberry Jam in the coming days.IMG_8322Happy to have this little guy back after 4 days away from home.  He had a blast in the mountains with his class but was overwhelmed with joy at the Welcome Home banner that his sisters made for his return.  
IMG_8286Last week our new couches arrived and with it 5 huge cardboard boxes.  My kids got out the paints and spent hours playing with and decorating those boxes.  Love that.  Who says tweens are miserable and always bored?  Mine definitely aren’t.

Have a great week!

Gratefully Grateful
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Gratefully Grateful *20*

17 Jun

It has been a while since I published a Gratefully Grateful post.  I’ve sat down several times to do it but for some reason just couldn’t.  And it’s not because I haven’t had anything to be grateful for lately.  It’s actually quite the opposite.

I’ve spent time with wonderful people (Mom!), visited beautiful places, eaten delicious meals, read interesting books, taken lots of memorable photos and planned exciting future trips.

But I’m happy to be back here today and share some of my favourite images of the last few weeks.  I really do love looking back on these posts and remembering the little moments and details behind them.

So…

Here’s to the end of the school year which is (slowly) coming to an end.
Here’s to sultry hot summer days and melted gelato dripping down my kid’s arms.
Here’s to the copious amounts of fresh local seasonal fruit that has taken over my entire fridge.
Here’s to upcoming rock concerts that we’ve been waiting for ages to attend.
Here’s to soon being able to spend lots of homework-free days and nights with my three favourite little (big) people.

IMG_7880The perfect combination of bright yellow farm equipment and vibrant red poppies.  With the addition of the world famous Barolo vineyards in the background.  IMG_7981A dapper young lad on his way to lunch at the famous Slow Food restaurant Boccondivino in the small city of Bra (Piemonte).  He loved it by the way.IMG_7816Another gorgeous rose arrangement in the beautiful Villa Porta Bozzolo. IMG_7810I give her less than a year before she’s taller than me.

IMG_7904Now this is my kind of chapel.

Have a great week folks.

Gratefully Grateful
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Gratefully Grateful *19*

26 May

It has been a busy and eventful few weeks around here.  My mom arrived from Canada for a long awaited three week visit and I turned the big 40 years old.  Now I just have to get used to writing and saying the word 40.  I’m pretty convinced that this is going to be a glowing and wonderful phase of my life.

I’m so lucky to be heading into my 40s with so many beautiful things in my life: my three incredible kids, my loving and patient husband, the fact that I live in one of the most gorgeous countries, my (relatively) good health, all my amazing family (I still have my 2 grandmothers!), the ability to show my kids the world and my circle of loving and hilarious friends.  How could it not be a great new phase of my life?

Here are a few images of what has made me happy lately.
DSC03251Spending the last day in my 30’s driving around in this old Citroen and dining at the famous restaurant D’O.  The car may be loud and feel like a tin can but the funk factor cancels all that out.

IMG_7762A little visit to a local villa for a lovely rose market and exhibition.  Lots of new rose plants have made it into my garden the last few days.DSC03267The poppies that are in bloom everywhere you look at the moment.  That bright orangey red pop of colour on the green fields is so gorgeous.IMG_7766These stunning rose bouquets.  I would love to fill every room of my home with these.

Wishing you all a lovely week ahead.

Gratefully Grateful
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Goji Berry Granola Bars

15 May


IMG_7693The other day while I was wandering around the charming Orticola Flower Market in Milan I picked up a bag of Goji berries at an organic fruit tree stand.  I think we’ve all heard, over and over again over the past years, how healthy and beneficial these berries are for our health.  To tell you the truth I was actually avoiding them due to all the hype (and the fact that I read you’d have to eat a truck full to reap any sort of special health benefits from them).

In any case, I was hungry and the berries were there at the right time and place.  I have to admit that when I tried them I was pretty disappointed with the fact that they are….tasteless.  Seriously, I think cardboard has more flavour than those goji berries.  I was expecting something sweeter and with a rich flavour (especially since the berries have such a beautiful dark brick orange-y red colour).

So yesterday when I was looking for something to bake for the kids I decided to try and use up some of the berries (in order to make them a bit more edible than straight out of the bag).

Since they were quite dry I decided to soak them in a little bowl of apple juice for about 10 minutes before using them.  And the berries actually came to life.  They became soft and plump and the apple juice brought out a distinctive  flavour that I didn’t taste before.  It’s possible I ruined all the health properties of the berries by soaking them but it was worth it.

IMG_7683Read on for the recipe… Continue reading

Gratefully Grateful *18*

14 May

So much to be grateful for last week.  Especially a surprise week-end away with some of my closest friends.  It involved a famous flower market in Milan, lots of foreign foods, Pina Coladas and some charming little vintage shops.  It’s amazing what a few days away from your daily grind can do to your spirit and energy level.

Throw in a relaxing Mother’s Day on Sunday including breakfast in bed and kid made art and poetry and I was (am) a happy woman.

Grateful to have been able to see and appreciate…

IMG_7618   …carnations in every possible colour.  Gone are the days of them being considered “grocery store flowers”.
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…huge origami cranes and lilly pads in a lovely fountain in front of an even lovelier old villa.IMG_7602 …this little scenario that I would like to re-create in my own garden.  So lovely.IMG_7638…old metal watering cans filled with bright flowers.

Wishing you all a lovely week (it’s already half over!).

Gratefully Grateful

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Moroccan Snapshots *5*

6 May

Some last shots of our trip to Morocco.IMG_5733Stretching out a little injury.  Afterwards the instructor turned around happily and informed me “Pretty sure nothing is  broken”.  Ummm, okay.

IMG_5728They just looked so cool dragging their surfboards down K17 beach (up the coast from Agadir).  And these were the only clouds we saw during our entire 7 day trip.  Made the Atlantic feel that much colder. IMG_5773While visiting the souks of Agadir we got trapped in a little shop that sold teas, creams, herbs, spices and everything else you could ever imagine to cure any ailment a person could be inflicted with. For me the packaging was more attractive than all the proclaimed health benefits.  And yes, I did leave with a bag full of cactus cream, argan oil, teas and spices.
IMG_5766Mounds of colourful vegetables and striped columns at the Souk El Had in Agadir.IMG_5694

IMG_5763Making sand kasbahs on the beach.IMG_5768One of my favourite images of Morocco is always the pyramids of delicious spices.  I have already gone through half of what I purchased.  Guess that means I’ll have to get back there soon to buy some more.

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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.

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Blago 2014

2 May

IMG_5870-001One of the things that I love most about blogging is the community of like-minded fellow bloggers that I have met over the years.  I have blogger friends all over the world who write about everything from design to food to fashion to sewing.  These creative souls have become an important part of my life and a support network that inspires and encourages me to no end.

So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when a few of them arrived in Italy a few weeks ago to attend a little face-to-face event called Blago that I organised.

I came up with the Blago concept after attending The Hive Blogging Conference last year and realising that I really loved spending time with all these creative and amazing women that I have been friends with online for years. It’s great having these online friendships but even greater when you can take it into “real life”.

So a few days after arriving home from The Hive I sent out the first Blago pitch to some of my favourite blogger pals. Luckily I received really positive and enthusiastic responses from all of them immediately.  My idea was for us all to meet up here in Italy to spend a few days visiting Milan Design as well as the lovely lake region that I live it.

And because I’m a big nerd I named the event Blago which is a mix of the words lago (lake in Italian) and blog.  I figured if you’re going to organise an event with fellow bloggers you’ve got to come up with a catchy title (and hashtag too – check out #blago2014 on Instagram!).

IMG_5869-001And of course being a blogger also meant I needed to come up with a cool official invite to the event.  Luckily, I LOVE that kind of stuff.  Like seriously love it.

After a lot of contemplating and looking through my stash of craft and sewing supplies I decided to make a linen envelope (the leather version failed miserably).   I used a really pretty Max Mara linen with map print for the outside and a gold linen for the inside.  I even added a little tag which I always find makes a hand sewn item look a tad more professional.

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Inside the fabric envelope I included an invite with the official Blago logo (designed by the talented Judith who was an attendee) and a little bag of my favourite Italian candies.

I’m a lover of anything to do with snail mail so I was so excited to get these into the mail and to their destinations (which actually took longer than expected due to the fact the local post office accidentally sent half of them back to me).

I’ll be back soon with more details about the actual event (which turned out to be a big success).  And yes, I am already mentally preparing the next Blago get-together (and it’s going to be a good one!).

 

Traveling With Kids: Flipboard Magazine

30 Apr

I can’t believe it but it has been almost 2 years that I’ve been writing my Traveling With Kids column for the creative parenting site Classic Play.  I have absolutely loved writing these travel posts which have inspired me (and my family) to do some pretty amazing trips and activities around the world.

Our travels and adventures as a family over the last decade have been action packed.  We’ve experienced everything from visiting some the world’s most iconic sites to seeing little corners of the world that have been barely touched by tourism.  And we are 100% grateful to be able to do all of this.

Jen from Classic Play put together a super neat Traveling With Kids Flipboard Magazine with all of her site’s travel posts (full disclosure: I’ve written most of them). I’ve loved looking back and re-reading some of those old columns (the interview with my kids and the travel disaster columns are still my favourites!).  So if you’re in need of advice for traveling with kids or information on many travel destinations around the world please check it out here.

**I just want to add that I receive many emails from people around the world with specific travel questions or that are in need of travel advice for traveling with their families.  I’ve been trying really hard to get back to you all but am still a little behind!

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