2016, here we go!

It (only) took me eight days to wish you a happy new 2016! With work, some travelling, Cesca having her Christmas holidays, some new teeth for Bettina and preparing for Christmas, life was pretty hectic, hence my absence.

We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Tuscany, this time round going to Lucca, Montepulciano, Cortona, Montalcino and the picturesque Pienza! The scenes, food and wine were beyond great, and thankfully everything went well. There were some uncomfortable moments flying out to Italy with Bettina when we had to tie her in the plane seat with me and her seat-belt, but thankfully food won her over and proved to silence and quiet her for a couple of moments.

Everyone is settled back into their routine now. I started work again, as did A, Cesca is back to school and Bettina is back to staying with Nanna during the day. Also, our kitchen is functioning once again after a much-appreciated break. Since all our bodies were all craving some simple soups, I wasn’t in for that much work. However after three soup meals, we needed something more concrete than a liquid meal, so yesterday I tried out this recipe, choosing to leave out the rice and leave it a prawn and potato dish. I added some thyme, some substituted the fresh coriander with the dried bit, and it truly came out delicious! The best part is that it does not take up that much work and you can leave it cooking slowly whilst you do something else (in my case it was feeding the girls and tidying up the kitchen).

As for new year’s resolutions I haven’t done any really, knowing fully well that I always fail in keeping them for more than a couple of days. My only wish is that I take care of myself, physically and mentally, a bit better. So I will try to properly wash my face every other day, instead of using the lazy girl’s option for cleaning my face – make-up removal wipes. I am not going to use the word ‘diet’ because that never works. But I will try and be more away of what I consume and eat. And as hard as it is, I will start finding half an hour a day, at least a couple of times a week, to go out for a walk. My level of exercise is sadly zilch. To be honest, it is not something I can do anything about, because my day is fully packed and jammed between school, work, the house and cooking. I sometimes joke that I need to set in toilet breaks in my schedule. Which in all honest would not be a bad idea. But I will try and find thirty minutes, children-free and just get out and walk. The weather is really beautiful at the moment, and I do believe that nothing works for

a healthy mindset than getting out in the open and wander around. So this I will truly try and hold on to.

Is there something you’re holding yourself to do/not do in 2016? Yesterday I read that if you keep doing something regularly for thirty straight days, your mind sets it as a habit and you become accustomed to doing it. So I’m setting small goals so hopefully I’ll have small victories to celebrate.

So stay healthy and happy dear friends. Let’s hope 2016 will be a peaceful ones, for us, our family and friends.

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Cesca’s eyes speak volumes about the way she feels about her sister 🙂 

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No filter needed.

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I swear her clothes, her Dumbo and her hands managed to gather every speck of dirt Tuscany had to offer.

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A beautiful read. If you can translate it, I suggest you do so. Wise words!

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Cortona’s hot chocolate.

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It’s like we wind them up , and then zoom they’re off!!

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Chickpea soup never looked so good.

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My everything.

 

 

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She’s a lucky girl indeed.

A First

It’s almost Christmas  (December is but a week away!) and I get overly exciting at the thought. December is a beautiful month, and now that C is a bit older, through her I get to live Christmas through a beautiful, different angle. We have started singing carols, and I have introduced the Christmas characters to her. It is never too early, and she MUST love Christmas as much as I do!

Come autumn I start thinking about my Bucilla which I always abandon at the beginning of summer. But with colder weather, nothing beats staying warm inside with a cup of coffee in one hand and Bucilla in another.

This year I had grand plans to make a tree skirt. That didn’t happen for various reasons, and I settled on something less elaborate, but equally charming.

The Cupcake Fairy herself

The Cupcake Fairy herself!

We have this tradition here in Malta of growing what we call ‘gulbiena‘ (vetches) about 4-6 weeks before Christmas and use it to decorate for Christmas. I have never grown or used it before, so this is a definite first for me. I have been told it’s not that easy to keep alive and prospering, so that helps non-green-fingers myself.  My vetches are currently in the soaking stage. Today we plant!

This is a growing pot of vetches. Apparently all that is needed is a dark place and watering every other day. We'll see. (Image from xaghraparish.org)

This is a growing pot of vetches. Apparently all that is needed is a dark place and watering every other day. We’ll see.
(Image from xaghraparish.org)

And how impressive is it that nearly all our Christmas shopping is ready!?! Allow me to gloat here, for we are the kind of people who never finish Christmas shopping before Christmas Eve. This year things were facilitated that bit for us because C has been repeating over and over again (just in case you didn’t read my previous post, she is now in the phase of repeating EVERYTHING all the time) what Santa Claus is bringing her. Perhaps being here constantly amongst family has also eased the thinking and decision-making process for us. Whatever it is, I’m glad that we’ve just crossed off a huge chunk off our shopping list. Since everything was bought online, we had to think that bit ahead because come December the postal services do start taking much longer than usual. We now have more than a month left till Christmas, so that should not be a worry.

I do miss England at this time of the year. I miss the shopping outings, the decorations, the cold weather, the cheesy John Lewis Christmas Ad which always sets me off and the coziness of a heated home. But settling down in Malta and slowly making our own traditions is heartwarming as well and makes the nostalgic feeling pop up much less often than usual.

What are your Christmas traditions? Do you grow vetches, do you set up a crib, do you make your own decorations? Have you already set up your Christmas tree? Is Santa’s letter already written and sent? I’d love to hear what you get up to in the run-up to Christmas 😉

And this is last year’s John Lewis ad* – equally beautiful:

*A 90-second, £6 million video-clip shot in New Zealand in July 2012. Crazy but beautiful.

Snap, snap, here are our holidays!

We rediscovered our beautiful island!

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We had my beautiful sister-in-law’s wedding!

My beauty xxx

My beauty xxx

Us <3

Us ❤

Making a new friend :)

Making a new friend 🙂

With the lovely couple!

With the lovely couple!

Cesca had a great time enjoying the mild weather and the attention from everyone of course…

Annnnd what?

Annnnd what?

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Snuggling up to Hailey, Santa's gift :)

Snuggling up to Hailey, Santa’s gift 🙂

An intellectual moment

An intellectual moment

Admiring Nanna's Christmas tree

Admiring Nanna’s Christmas tree

Playing with  my toys!

Playing with my toys!

I spotted some funny mistakes…

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And we visiting some snowy areas, we ate, we drank, we laughed, we met up with friends, I cut six inches from my hair, and did a hundred other things! It was a good holiday 🙂

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And doing what she does best :)

And doing what she does best 🙂

‘Tis The Season To Be…Busy!

The build-up period to Christmas is an exciting time. Everyone seems that bit more cheerful (I blame the booze), place are all lit up with decorations and my animalistic instinct to shop  and buy everything I see can be justified.

Our December is all planned and is quite busy! Busy is good, extremely so when you have help surrounding you as we do on The Rock.

We have a family wedding, one I’m really looking forward to. Not just because I found the dress of my dreams (after my wedding dress that is), but also because Little Miss Not-Walking-Yet will be a flower-girl! A part of me is dreading the mass part for two reasons – one, she is not a quiet mouse, and two, she becomes louder when the place echoes. As old churches do. All I want is a picture of us all, all dressed nicely. She can then crawl, rip her tights, destroy her dress, ruin her hair – anything really. I just want a decent photo.

I just hope we manage to get a smile out of her at the wedding, unlike in this picture, where the poor snowman was in serious risk of being overthrown in the Thames…

Another event which just came about in the past couple of days is a University reunion an ex-coursemate is organizing. It’s been eight years since we graduated and apart from the odd face here and there, I haven’t seen the majority of my class since then. At least we have Facebook which does help keep in touch and see who’s doing what, who got married to whom and who became a parent. Of course it will be a bittersweet event for us all, because the most timid of us all, the one who barely spoke to anyone else and was so shy she was always looking down at the floor, is with us no longer. I pray everyday that her animal of an ex will get what he deserves.

And to top it all of, we are heading for a full family holiday for the New Year’s! I can’t wait for this, especially because the last time we did this, I was eleven weeks pregnant, constantly tired and snoozing off on cafe’ chairs (how sad) and totally off alcohol. So this time round I can cheer the New Year with a lovely glass of white as opposed to the Chinotto I indulged in two years ago.

 

Pale and pallid me at 11 weeks of pregnancy…

I am then meeting up with single friends for drinks and friends with babies for chats and super-soppy baby stuff. I am getting my hair sorted if I have the guts for it (snip, snip…) and some other important issues are on the cards as well. A and myself have a couple of days apart (work duties bleh), but it’s not a long absence this time round.

What is your December looking like? Any holidays, parties or weddings to go to? Whatever it is you’re doing, I hope you have a truly wonderful time!

That Time of Year…

As I’ve probably said a gazillion times before today, there are lots of things I miss about The Rock. I miss everything that’s familiar, everything that I lived with and around for twenty-plus years. There’s a comforting sense of surrounding yourself with what you know, even if does bug you at times.

But one thing I love about being away from The Rock at this time, is getting to see and experience the whole pre-Christmas explosion going on here. Everything is all about Christmas here. The TV ads, the shop displays, the Christmas decorations section – all is about things glittery, cheesy strands of colourful tinsel, everything green, red and gold, sparkling Santas, fake white snow everywhere, Christmas cards are all out and ready to be taken off the shelf, Christmas CDs  have already been unearthed from their storage and everyone is seen out shopping with a list of gifts. Some shops offer you mini-mince pies and small glasses of mulled wine while others are already advertising their ‘Tea with Santa’ afternoons.

It’s a beautiful and exciting time of the year. I love throwing myself into it and feeling like a child again.

First Christmas x

Cup…of Sunshine!

Hello friends!

We’re holidaying on The Rock, and the weather is perfect. It’s hot, it’s sunny, there’s a nice breeze going on during the day and night and we’re having a great time.

Cesca tried out the sea today for the first time ever. Since the sea was still a bit too cold for us to actually go out swimming with her, we just wet her toes. She was a bit afraid of the waves coming up on the sand, and stayed playing with her bucket and toys for quite a while.

Happy weekend friends and to my friends in England, have a great Jubilee long weekend!!

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Of holidays…

You can tell we’re on holiday. I’ve abandoned my Facebook, my daily blog reads, my hourly checking of news sites. I never seem to be at home here in Gozo. Instead we’re always out. I mean always. We barely have time to shower and change, with everything we’re trying to do, people we’re trying to meet and appointments we’re trying to keep.

But we’re having one hell of a blast!

Thanks to the grandparents we’ve managed a couple of proper date-nights. C has met more people here than she’s ever met in all her time in England and it feels great to reconnect with everything that’s familiar.  I have met old friends, met ‘new’ ones (Hello G!!) and met cute and adorable little babies (Hello Isaac, Estelle and Ela!) After the hustle and bustle that this holiday has been, I am secretely looking forward to our quiet English life!

Cesca has changed so much in these past eight days, but that’s another post for next week. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter – we all did 🙂

So have a great weekend – we have a jam-packed one before jetting back to England next Monday. It was nice meeting up with some of you, and if not, I’m soon back on The Rock.  Good times are coming up 😉

Till next time friends x