The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Audrey’s Art

I recently won a giveaway hosted by Audrey Walas on her blog. Audrey is a French artist living in London. Her art is simple but stunning and I was the lucky recipient of a poster of one of her paintings. There were 4 that I could choose from, and the choice was not easy because all her paintings are so well executed, but finally I chose this one of a young girl entitled ‘L’Aube’.
L’aube – the dawn – I think Audrey has captured perfectly the first rays of the morning sun lighting this pretty girl’s face. This painting reminds me of my childhood. My bedroom window faced east and some summer mornings I would wake up and lift my face to the faint light of the waxing sun.
It is always exciting to receive something from a fellow blogger for the simple reason that the person who sends it becomes so much more real. Sometimes blogging can seem very virtual – ‘talking’ daily to people we have never met has become so common that sometimes we may forget that there is another person on the other end, living their life, thinking their thoughts. These little giveaways help bring us closer together and appreciate each other a little but more.
If you appreciate art and would like to support a fellow blogger, then I suggest that you visit Audrey’s blog. For any of you that  would like to purchase any  of Audrey’s fantastic paintings, prints or postcards, please visit her Etsy shop Odette Aussi. Right now, Audrey is offering free delivery worldwide. Alternatively, you may visit her website here.
Thanks again Audrey and keep sharing your beautiful art and pretty creations with us.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Few Changes

As I am sure you have all realised, I have made a few changes to this blog. I have gone for a template that allows me to post bigger photos.I have also toyed with the idea of changing the name to Snapshots and Scribbles because it seems that a lot of my posts are inspired by the photos that I take – although I do take photos to complement my writing too. However, I thought that my blog name was still apt since every picture tells a story anyway.

Stories and Scribbles turned two on January 12 but my blog anniversary slipped by without too much fuss from my end due to some issues that I was dealing with – nothing too major but still upsetting at the time. Coming fast on the heels of Christmas and all the magic it brings with it, January may seem drab at times and this year it felt even more so.

But I digress. This blog has started on its third year and I hope that I have learnt enough about blogging to carry out some improvements to the layout and content and so on. I am not too pleased with my current template because it has a grey shadow underlying everything that I cannot get rid of. So you will probably see a few more changes going on until I am totally satisfied. Please excuse the work in progress. Having said all that, if any of you have any hints on how to increase traffic, I would love to hear them.

And for those of you longing for some colour to brighten up their winter days, here is some loveliness I captured on a walk through the ancient town of Rabat on a mild Sunday afternoon in mid-January.

St Agatha & Hal-Bajjada (51)-1

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Place Of Enchantment

Walking through the Maltese countryside in the winter, I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness at the fleeting beauty of it all. Because soon, all too soon, the lush greenery and pretty wild flowers will be replaced by brown earth and dry weeds. Winter is a time of growth as nourishing rain falls from grey skies. There are a few reminders that it really is winter, like the stark beauty of leafless branches stabbing the sky, the forlorn look of empty nests and the straggly creepers of the vines. In contrast, carpets of moss give life to the silent stones while gaily-coloured flowers in shades of gold and blue break the austere lines of the rubble walls that act as boundaries in place of leafy hedges.
Winter countryside (53)-1
But no matter where you roam on this small island, you will come across traces of those who have walked these paths before us – in an old farmhouse with crumbling walls; in an isolated chapel; in a solitary reminder to pray for suffering souls; in an abandoned cemetery once used to bury victims of the plague – unmarked graves of nameless, forgotten faces.
Winter countryside (29)-1
Winter countryside (42)-1
I often wonder whether these numerous relics scattered across our countryside are there to make up for the dearth of wildlife that is so common and abundant in other countries because, whether by chance or by design, traipsing along hidden foot-paths will often bring us face to face with our past.
Winter countryside (60)-1
And when we do stumble across these places, it feels like one of those fabled moments when time stands still. All of a sudden you get the creepy sensation that you are on the other side of a looking glass and about to cross a boundary – one more step and the glass will shatter and we will tumble headlong into a different world; a different time. So we tiptoe around these sites with bated breath and an almost reverent stance, eyes darting here and there, always careful, always cautious that we do not cross that dividing line that will force us to face our past or dwell forever in that world between the worlds, that world of swirling mists – the magical world of Faery.
Winter countryside (70)-2
Because that is where reality ends and fantasy begins …
Winter countryside (50)-1

Monday, 14 February 2011

Love Makes The World Go Round

I could not let this day go by without at least the merest mention of the word love. Because let’s face it, no matter how much hype surrounds this day, in our hearts we all know that love has inspired a thousand poems and made a fool out of the wisest of men. Love puts the spring in our step and the twinkle in our eyes. Its what makes our heart skip a beat and our faces to smile.
So whether you’re eight or eighty and call it amore, amour or amor, love is a gift which is given freely –love is gentle, love is kind, love knows no boundaries because love really is blind.
I hope you’re all having a wonderful day with the one you love because spending time together is the greatest gift of all. Happy Valentine’s Day (although somewhat belated in some countries).

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Life Is Beautiful

Today was a public holiday. I spent  a lovely, relaxing day surrounding myself with beauty. The weather was warm and it felt like Spring. It’s hard to believe that many countries are still snow-bound. Yet, notwithstanding our mild winter, I was longing to feel the sun on my face. So I headed out and let the singing of the birds soothe me, the gurgling water in the little streams calm me and the simple beauty of this particular wild flower remind me that life is fragile, life is beautiful – that we only get one chance and we need to embrace it and give it our best shot.
Winter countryside (28)-1
Hoping that you all give it your very best shot – have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, 4 February 2011

A Taste Of Summer On A Wintry Day

I know that many of you have the winter blues and, although I am jealous of your snowy landscapes, I can understand that living with snow is not as romantic as it may sound. I lived in the Mid-west for one winter and, looking back, it turned out to be a pretty mild one. Snow and ice were so alien to me that I remember the first time that I had ice on my wind-shield I tried to scrape it off with my bare hands. Bad idea. But I was clueless at the time.
Living here in the central Mediterranean, snow and ice  are two things we never have to deal with. Occasionally, we get a terrific hailstorm but that hasn’t happened in three years. Rain is the only inconvenience (if you can call it that) that we have to put up with and, believe it or not, I know people here who will complain about that too. I am always on the point of telling them to move to Saudi Arabia if they want sunshine 365 days a year.
Anyway, today I am going to share a recipe which should at least summerise your dinners, if not your weather. It is really, really easy to make and, if you like all the ingredients, extremely tasty too. So here goes:
Pasta With Tuna and Lemon
3 quarts water(2.75l)
1 pound penne (450g)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can (61/22 ounce) water packed tuna, drained and flaked (190g)
1/4 fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (if it’s not in season I use dry parsley)
1/4 pasta cooking water
1/4 freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
Tuna and Lemon Pasta (2)
Bring the water for the pasta to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large pan set on medium heat until sizzling (about 3 minutes).
Remove the pan from heat and carefully add the tuna (make sure it’s drained well or you will get a lot of splattering from the oil), lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley and the pasta cooking water (I usually do not add the water as I don’t like my sauce to be too runny but that is my personal preference).
Return the pan to low heat and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Tuna and Lemon Pasta (4)
Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the remaining parsley and cook for a further 3 minutes, tossing well. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
This recipe is from the book ‘Glorious Italian Cooking’ by Nick Stellino. I love his recipes and recommend them to all of you who like Italian food. This is what Nick himself writes about this recipe: “On the annual festival of the village saint, it was customary for all the unmarried women to prepare a dish for a contest. This year, it was to be judged by a handsome fisherman, Turiddu. Each of the young ladies stood behind her creation while Turiddu tasted. When he came to Nunziata’s pasta, Turiddu felt an explosion of flavour. Turning to Nunziata, her eyes seemed to reflect ocean waves breaking onto a sandy shore into a million tiny diamond flecks, each reflecting the orange glow of the setting sun. Legend reports that it was this recipe which brought Turiddu and Nunziata together”. With a story like that, who wouldn’t want to try this recipe at least once?


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