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

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Here And Now

I have been longing for winter. Longing for grey days and rain; scarves and hats and mittens. And I have been gloomy for a while with these endless summer days that don’t seem to want to go away. But I’ve decided that it is useless moping. That I should be happy with the here and now. That I should be thankful for the sun, even though we need rain so much, because without the sun I would not be able to look out of my window and appreciate the sunset.
Another October Sunset (3)
I am grateful for this mostly lazy weekend that has just passed. For time to catch up on some reading. For rest. For an extra hour in bed last night. For the little things which really are the big things.
Another October Sunset (5)
Happy Halloween.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Tunes On My Playlist – Hallelujah

I first heard this song when I watched Shrek 2. I know, kind of pathetic. Since then, it has become one of my favourites. Hallelujah was originally released in 1984 by Leonard Cohen and has since been covered by various artists including John Cale, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, K.D. Lang, Alexandra Burke, Rufus Wainwright and around 200 others (according to Wikipedia). My favourite version is the one below by Bon Jovi.
Hallelujah is one of those songs that is easy on the ear. I love its cadence … “ it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift”; its rather cryptic lyrics; its uplifting yet  melancholic tone. I love everything about it really – a song I will happily play over and over.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Trick Or Treat?

Today week is Halloween. Halloween is a tradition which has not really caught on here in Malta. Some children do dress up and go trick or treating but it is still a tradition celebrated by the minority. Like most Catholic countries our dressing-up extravaganza occurs at Carnival. When it comes to Halloween, most people give it a miss. But I suppose that going from door to door collecting candy is every kid’s dream come true. Growing up, I heard about the Halloween tradition from my parents who had  lived in Canada prior to my birth. The door to door collection of treats sounded like a good idea to me. That is, until I heard that this was not always the safest thing to do.
                                     Source: None via Lorna on Pinterest

I did some research on the origins of Halloween on the font of all wisdom (Google) and one thing that everyone seems to be sure of is that Halloween originated from the  Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that during this particular night of the year, the veils between the worlds was very thin and spirits from the other world could wander into our world. It was for this reason that people would go from door to door collecting food for the spirits of their loved ones, to aid their  passage into the next world. The tradition of dressing up in scary costumes and of carrying lanterns ensured that any wandering spirits would take fright and flee. What is less clear is how this tradition took such a strong root in North America when no records exist of its celebration in countries like England and Ireland where the Celts originally lived.
                    Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

It always amazes me how traditions from antiquity are not only remembered but are actually thriving after their inception thousands of years ago. Halloween, of course, is not the only tradition that can be traced to antiquity. Probably few people celebrating Halloween know or care where the tradition started. As a tradition, the only part that is attractive to me is the collection of candy. Spider webs, witches, grinning pumpkins and ghouls were never exactly my cup of tea. Needless to say, no one here decorates the house for  Halloween except for some expats from Canada or the US.
In our family, the Mischief Maker dressed up for Halloween for the first time last year. He was a NASA astronaut. This year I think he will be dressing up as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Since I am a bit paranoid about taking him round to neighbours to trick or treat, we usually end up at my parents’ or at my aunt’s and they stock him up well for a couple of days. I am sure that as time goes by this tradition will creep in and gain a stronger footing in this country. I do not know whether that is good or bad. I suppose only time will tell.
                                              Source: None via Melissa on Pinterest

In the meantime I invite you to take a look at some of the links below. I think there is something to interest everyone even those who are not necessarily Halloween aficionados.
* Woman’s Day provides a great tutorial on how to  make tin can pumpkin lanterns.
* Kids or grandkids will enjoy making these fun Halloween crafts. With your help, of course.
* No Halloween is complete without a batch of caramel apples.
                                                Source: via Alison on Pinterest

* For my readers in the US, National Geographic has compiled a list of ten free to see Halloween events
* Finally, in keeping with the weird and wonderful spirit of this tradition, take a look at this article. Mind boggling, to say the least.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Fabulous Fridays – Pink

                                    Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

It’s pretty, it’s girly and it’s fun and a lot of us stay away from it after our 10th birthday. Yet there is no denying that pink is a happy colour.  From powdery baby pink to the deepest fuchsia and every shade in between, pink has a feel-good factor about it that I think few women of any age will deny.
                                     Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

                                    Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

                                       Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

                              Source: via Lorna on Pinterest
                                    Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

But the reason I have chosen this colour today is because, as you know, pink and the pink ribbon are the chosen logos for breast cancer awareness. October is breast cancer awareness month and I wanted all these pretty pink images to remind you to do your duty to yourself and to your loved ones to go and get checked out.
                               Source: via Paula - bell'alimento on Pinterest

If you are interested in aiding cancer research Novica will be donating 10% of sales from The Pink Ribbon Collection to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wednesday Wanderings - A Walk On The Champs Elysees

The Champs Elysees is French for Elysian Fields the place of the blessed dead in Greek Mythology. Perhaps it’s a misnomer since the Champs Elysees are very much alive. Stretching for almost 2km from Place de la Concorde, with its obelisk of Luxor, to Place Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arc de Triomphe, this  broad, tree-lined avenue is dotted with shops, specialty boutiques, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and hotels. It was hard to take it all in. My eyes kept flitting here, there, and everywhere. Although they did manage to stop and enjoy the lovely items in some shop windows.
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (1)-1
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (6)-1
Unfortunately, The American told me to walk on. Sigh. It was really hard, I have to admit.
We ambled along. Busy cities like Paris always leave me a bit awe-struck. I am not used to so many things going on at once and did my best to try and get a feel of the place. Slowly we made it to one of the most-recognised landmarks of the city - the Arc de Triomphe -  a triumphant arch built by Napoleon and very much in the style of the triumphant arches of old  that were built by the Romans all over their empire. It was even grander in person than I had imagined and definitely worth the hundreds of photos that everyone was taking. From the base of the Arc de Triomphe one can admire the broad vista of the Champs Elysees. The view from  the top the arch is, of course, completely unobstructed but we decided to give it a miss. Perhaps next time …
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (8)-1
With the din of unceasing traffic in our ears we left the Arc de Triomphe behind us and, walking back down the Champs Elysees, my mind travelled back in time, as it is so wont to do, to 14 June 1940 when swastikas and tanks rolled down the very avenue that we were walking on only to be followed, four years later, by the French 2nd Armoured Division and the US 28th Infantry Division.
As we got nearer to Place de la Concorde (formerly Place Louis XV) visions of a liberated France soon gave way to thoughts about the French Revolution. Because it was here, on this now busy square boasting an Egyptian obelisk and two huge fountains, that thousands of people lost their heads to Madame la Guillotine.
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (20)-1
It is hard to imagine the carts trundling by with their terrified passengers moving closer to their doom. Hard to imagine the crowds, the boos, the sound of the blade as it sliced through the air, the dull thud of a lifeless head falling in the straw and the roar of approval from those that came to enjoy the ‘spectacle’. Yet it all happened here. The last  place where Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Madame du Barry, Robespierre, Danton and countless others lost their heads. It’s hard to imagine that a reign of terror once held Paris in a vice-like grip. But it did and as I poised my camera to photograph the pristine square it seemed to me that the din of the traffic had changed to a chant and around me the words of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité rose to a full-blown clamour.
In the heart of Paris the ghosts of those who believed in the rights that nowadays we take so for granted were thick around me to remind me that freedom is always bought at a cost. Because we might forget it, or  even try to deny it, but the seeds of modern day democracy were sown here, on Place Louis XV in the shadow of the guillotine.
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (17)-1
I meant to show you Paris in just one post but, even though our visit was short (only 3 full days) it is impossible to do so. There is too much to see and to take in and, after all, this series is called Wednesday Wanderings not Wednesday Whirlwinds. I need to warn you that these posts will not be in chronological order.  This week it was Paris. Next week it may be a totally different city. And if you are wondering how I remember all the details of trips I took over 2 years ago, well I always take my Travel Diary with me to jot down notes and random stuff. It’s a great way to jog my memory.
If you are interested in a short history of the Champs Elysees visit Places in France.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Of Partings And Life And Rain

Sometimes we make plans. Trivial things like writing a blog post and including some pretty pictures. And sometimes things happen which make us take a step backwards and reflect. Last week my friend lost her mother to a sudden devastating illness and a couple very dear to my husband and I  had to deal with the shock and loss of an ectopic pregnancy. At moments like these the question ‘why?’ naturally springs to mind. A question which, for the most part, will remain unanswered. Except that death and loss are part of life. Something we all have to deal with. But that doesn’t mean it makes these circumstances any easier.
Rainy Sunday (1)
Yet I do not want this post to be morbid and sad and that is why I stayed away from blogging last week. Because I know that when I write I have no control over my emotions and everything usually comes spilling out. But there is a lesson to be learnt from everything that happens around us – to hug those we love a little tighter, spend more quality time together, smile, laugh and turn our face to that ray of sunshine shining brightly through a chink in the clouds. Because life does not end on this blue and green planet that we live on. And because life, while we have it, should be lived with joy and hope and wonder.
Glad I got that off my chest …
Rainy Sunday (6)
Now for some lighter news … I am pleased to say that we had a thunderstorm early Sunday morning followed by a day of almost constant rain. I am sure that most of you are wondering why the mere sight of a few drops results in a blogpost from me but the truth is that I love the rain because we get so little of it and if woke up to grey skies every morning I would most likely be ecstatic every time I saw the sun. I guess it’s a case of longing for what we don’t have. Today we are back to cloudless blue skies but the wind is cool so perhaps I can safely say that summer is behind us.  So I hope to be back in the groove – back to posting and stopping by to visit. In the meantime I will leave you with one of my favourite golden oldies by Credence Clearwater Revival.
Someone one told me long ago
there's a calm before the storm
I know,
it's been coming for some time.
When it's over, so they say,
it'll rain a sunny day
I know,
shining down like water...
I wanna know
have you ever seen the rain?
I wanna know
have you ever seen the rain
coming down on a sunny day?
Yesterday and days before
sun is cold and rain is hard
I know,
been that way for all my time.
To forever on it goes
through the circle fast and slow
I know, it can't stop I wonder...
I wanna know
have you ever seen the rain?
I wanna know
have you ever seen the rain
coming down on a sunny day?
Rainy Sunday (4)
Lyrics from Have You Ever Seen The Rain
by John Fogerty
courtesy of MusicBabylon

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Adele, Amadeus and Aerosmith … With Some Apocalyptica Thrown Into The Mix

I have recently discovered Adele. Yes, I know, most of you have probably been listening to her incredible voice for some time now. But I only  very recently discovered her – like last week. That makes me sound like I was living under a rock somewhere on the moon. But it just happens that I barely listen to the radio these days. So musically, I am stuck somewhere in the last millennium. But people post YouTube links on Facebook and, every now and then, my curiosity is piqued and I decide to click on the link and listen. Well, in Adele’s case, I am so glad that I did. Have a listen to Set Fire To The  Rain and let me know what you think.

As with so many other things, I have never been able to decide which genre of music I prefer. I do not like to stick to one niche and my list of favourite pieces of music and songs spans many generations but they all have one thing in common – they are all pieces that stir something within me – a memory, an emotion, a desire to hear more. I am  moved to tears by  Mozart’s Requiem every time I hear it. Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing takes me back to our wedding day, Apocalyptica’s Not Strong Enough reminds me of my dear friend Andrea who I knew way back in primary school and who now lives in Buenos Aires. She was the one who introduced me to this cello-paying foursome from Finland whose repertoire ranges from heavy metal to the classics and whose music can be so haunting. And I could go on. And on.

                                          Source: via Teresa on Pinterest


I know that some people stick to one type of music. If you ask The American, he will happily tell you that heavy metal is his music of choice and, although he will on occasion listen to other forms for a little while, he will always go back to heavy metal. That was and always will be his number one preference.

                                                         Source: via mia on Pinterest


So what about you, my dearest readers, what music do you enjoy? Do you, like me, have a fickle ear  or do you stick to one genre all the time?

                                                    Source: via Brenda on Pinterest

Friday, 7 October 2011

Fabulous Fridays: Sugar And Spice

Fabulous Fridays are about pretty things.  The things which make us smile and say “ooooh” and “aaaah”. It’s about everything whimsical, frivolous, girly and fun. Sometimes it will be about eye candy and other times … well … it will be about the real thing. So I hope these photos will make your taste buds tingle – without having to worry about all the calories.
Image via Earthbaconmacarons1-300x242[1]
Image via Yeah Babybaby-shower-cupcakes[1]
Image via Oahu WeddingsMartha-Stewart-Chocolate-Cake-711247[1]
Image via My Recipes
P.S. If any of you are interested, the links should take you directly to the recipes. Have a sweet weekend.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wednesday Wanderings – Remembering Lucca

Wednesday Wanderings is a new fortnightly series that I am starting today. Going through my photo archives I realized that I have hundreds of photos that I took on our travels that can tell a story and which have never seen the light of day – or rather of the blogging world. I hope that you will enjoy this series and get a closer glimpse of these cities and places that I love so much. My first Wednesday Wanderings will take you to the Tuscan town of Lucca.


Tuscany 225-1

Lucca was a surprise – a pleasant and lovely surprise. We went there not knowing anything about it except that it was a walled medieval city and came back vowing we would return. Behind its sturdy walls, Lucca revealed itself slowly to us.

Tuscany 214-1

We wandered along without rushing to see ‘the sights’ because, for once, we did not have a plan and it felt so good to be ambling slowly along. Unbeknownst to us, Lucca was hosting its Antiques Fair the day we were there. Oh those stalls – it was a vintage lover’s heaven: china, jewellery, junk, frames,  toys, mirrors ...


What made it all the more charming was the backdrop of Romanesque churches, simple fountains and crumbling buildings.

Under the Tuscan Sun 043-1
Tuscany 173-1
Tuscany 217-1
We lost ourselves in the labyrinth of streets, taking in every single detail. The Lucchesi were out for their evening stroll, walking arm in arm, as is so common in Italy, or riding their bikes.
Tuscany 221-2
And my eyes drank in  every detail, every little scene: delectable candy displays, Tuscany 187-1
quaint shops, Tuscany 231-1
romantic piazzas, Tuscany 236-1
intricate ironwork, Tuscany 205-1
pretty flower displays.Tuscany 207-1

Seeing these photos, the memories come flooding back. Even after two years I can still see its piazzas and church towers, hear the  vendors selling their wares. And if I close my eyes long enough, maybe, just maybe, I will wish myself back.
The Mercato dell’ Antiquario is held in Lucca every third Saturday and Sunday of the month in the following piazzas and street: Piazza Antelminelli, Piazza San Giusto, Piazza San Giovanni, Piazza Bernardini, Piazza San Martino, Via del Battistero.
You can learn more about Lucca and its history here.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

In Search Of Autumn

It is not  uncommon for the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’* to give these islands a miss. It is looking like this will be one of those years when we will have an Indian summer throughout October and possibly beyond. Faced with unrelentingly warm temperatures, blue skies and nary a spot of rain, it is hard to remember that in most places, cardigans, shoes and socks are the order of the day and that autumn is a reality and not just a dream. Of all our seasons, autumn is the most fickle and each year I play a guessing game with myself – will autumn show up or not?
Nov 2003 - autumn 003
I know that by now, in many places, the trees are starting to turn golden and red and orange and a part of me longs to witness  nature’s special spectacle every autumn. I experienced this wonder of nature for the first time when we lived in Chesterfield (MO). It seemed like the trees changed their colour over-night, as if someone had stayed up all night and painstakingly painted the leaves one by one.
Nov 2003 - autumn 003 (2)
Nov 2003 - autumn 003 (3)
Surrounded by such beauty and having a lot of time on my hands (I did not work at the time) I had gotten creative and made this wreath, which has made it all the way to Malta, although its significance is rather lost here as almost nobody does any seasonal decorating (except for Christmas of course). Perhaps I should start a new trend?
Nov 2003 - autumn 003 (9)
Maybe instead of waiting for autumn to show up I should just create autumn inside our home. I found some excellent sites that can help me achieve this without too many problems. Here is short list of some wonderful ideas that you can re-create in your home or with your family.
With over 530 links, you will have plenty of ideas on how to decorate your mantel, shelf or ledges for fall.
Stuck for ideas on how to entertain the kids? 50 fun fall activities to do with your kids will provide you with plenty of inspiration and will ensure that you make a lot of memories along the way.
I really would like to make this pumpkin roll. It looks delicious.
Since the leaves don’t change colour here perhaps I can make pretty leaves myself. This tutorial gives step by step instructions on how to make wax paper and crayon fall leaves. Dare I ?
So while I wait and hope for this season to slowly make its way to our shores, I can always look at these 50 stunning fall foliage photos and dream …
Meanwhile I wish you all lots of …

* quoted from “Ode To Autumn” by John Keats
The Colours of Fall
Photographed in
Chesterfield (MO), November 2003


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