30 November 2008
Such a delay and odd departure..just when things were beginning to feel 'normal'. Major house works forced us out of our home for three weeks and at JUST that same moment (to the day) my four year old son was taken into hospital..... it's been three weeks now and we are still not able to move back but Gaetano is able to walk again and has had his first day back at school Hallelujah!!!
The girls are sick now but with curable familiar illnesses; ear aches and chesty coughs (just part of the seasons gifts). Teaching practice has been all consuming as having a really unwell child has been. 33 came and went and look what a friend passed on-FROM ONE PIECE OF PAPER - such a delight to look through- do take five min and check it out. Hope to be back in our home soon (our car has broken down and we are stranded at my in-laws... sigh... Malta has been a bit of a bumpy road so far).
thanks to all the warm support these last few weeks from dear ones far away.
02 November 2008
oh heck - this school business has made me totally fall off the sewing/knitting/cooking bandwagon!! My days are now full of preparing lesson plans (one of my tasks is to develop a six week (30 lesson) course on Latin America- it's cultures, history, politics, economies and geographical aspects, etc.... which I am pretty excited about truth be told). Have been posted to a international school here (which follows a very broad theme when it comes to Social Studies (am teaching Judaism in another class). So creativity on the home-front has been reduced to nil. Maybe my next post will be a power point presentation on the Mayans... or would that bore you all....?
Other big (round here) news is Stella is 1 and for her quccija (pronounced Uchia, which is a Maltese tradition when a child turns one- consisting of choosing an object that represents his/her future career- life path) she walked straight over to the calculator - then with the other hand grabbed a pen...... ahh hummm the math side of her genes have maybe won. Photo featured above.
25 October 2008
Favourites of the week include finding out about this new campaign(photo above) written about in the guardian. Listening to Friday's episode of Fresh Air - an interview with Charlie Kaufman (of Adaptation, Magnolia). Lastly an interview with Michael Pollan, the author of the book In Defense of Food and who also recently wrote an open letter to the next president which was featured in last weekends New York Times Magazine. In my opinion he has some very wise words.... worth listening to (esp. those in the U.S. as it gives a critical and historical look at our food-farming industry).
19 October 2008
Immersed in Constructivist theory and ECDL ( a computer literacy kind of course) one i have to take unfortunately... these timed exams are a wee bit stressful. Found myself up on Saturday night at 3 Am (only time to study in peace in the house is in the middle of the night)- going over mail merge- how sad is that! Feel well acquainted again now with Microsoft word, Access and tomorrow it's power point- things have changed a bit since I was last computer savvy- feel like an old fuddy duddy at moments among some of my younger classmates.
My son seems to have turned a corner- really a little boy now- bony and paying attention to every detail... today for the first time ever he looked at me ( I was telling him why we must all wash our hair) and said "I think your lying to me mama" and yes I may have been exaggerating the truth as regards bugs liking to live in dirty hair but it really struck me. My littlest child is now walking, seems so surreal that only a year ago now I was waddling around Winchester feeling as big as a whale and wondering just when she would finally decide to come. and the middle child .. spicy as ever.. I dread the teenage years .. what a confident attitude she has..... where on earth did it come from?!
Apart from lectures all day long, every day the week has been highlighted by some wonderful dish my husband has cooked up and today (after having it rattling around in my brain for weeks) I ounce again made ice cream- this time a Moorish mix-cardamon with dates and walnuts.... really came out well. Very creamy and well balanced -was pure luck- better write down the amounts I used quickly before I forget them.
Other ponderings of the week
- why is it so many students at the University here are carrying fancy leather purses and wearing high heels???!! Such a far cry from the back pack slugging bike riding university days I remember.
- An interesting little thing suggested by a lecturer of mine - worth it's 8 min.
- Have been catching up on the ole podcasts (what with the traffic jams every morning)
Radio 4 global news, NPR News and Notes and Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy ...
- Malta has an 'Indian summer' well into October- it's around 25 here during the days lately.
05 October 2008
Burdened down with this big adjustment to full time education again - feel as though there is barely time to breath!! I hope I can manage to carry on with this blog during this one year course, the posts may not be coming along as often but I shall try.
Amid the summer like days of sun, rushing to find one class or another I had a moment this week of longings back to Brighton- (my first real home outside the states). Wish I could stroll on into Bills or through the lanes for a nice almond croissant and coffee at Carluccios. What a wonderful city it is, lucky are those who live there. Did spot it's name in the Guardian (ahh yes- daily guardian papers at the library)- I couldn't resist.
03 October 2008
30 September 2008
Wish I could say that it is autumn like here with golden afternoon light and changing leaves but alas it's more like odd days of wind and big picturesque cloudscapes (which I now get to see a lot of when out hanging the clothes on the roof). The trees start to look green, the dustiness ends as the rain finally comes and small areas of grass can be seen. Not the Midwestern burst of color and smells that I am used to. Still thoughts of baking and soup recipes start to drift into my thoughts. School days are ahead now (finally) and with that a new gear.
Came across a bag of red peppers for one euro at the green grocer yesterday so thought I would marinate them to have on hand to throw into salads and on sandwiches. I had a roommate from my Seattle days who used to fill the house with the smells of roasting peppers, every now and again she would be possessed to do as her late Israeli mother used to do -roast and marinate in garlic and (...sadly I have lost touch with this friend and couldn't ask her what else she used to add), so decided to throw some thyme in as we had some fresh stalks on hand. It looked almost like a burst of fall colors in a jar to me. Thus the photo.
Also with so many plums around I got a little inspired (yes-ice cream again) this time I made a plum compote with some orange rind and ginger then swirled it into a custard like vanilla ice cream- wish I could remember the exact amounts because it turned out really well- subtly tart but very creamy. If anyone out there is interested I can write down what I remember.
28 September 2008
Busquet is the old castle grounds here in the north of the island. We went out for the day and brought a picnic with us of orzo salad (recipe below), sandwiches, tea and fig rolls.
Was a lovely day out- we walked through olive groves, orange orchards and past pomegranate trees! The children spotted snails, collected pine cones and speculated where the bears probably live.
1/2 red onion chopped
100 grams feta (to taste)
5-6 sun dried tomatoes finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 red pepper chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil and bit of balsamic vinegar
27 September 2008
This morning's fratata... and with no kids about (as they all slept over at the grandparents - god bless them) we could enjoy coffees and discussions about Friday's debate.
Red Pepper Fratata
1 clove garlic
half a red onion
few leaves of Basil
1 red pepper (or leftover peppers from you salads)
3/4 eggs (organic preferably)
Shavings of Romano cheese (or what ever hard-cheese you have - the saltier the better)
cook on stove then end with grill top in the oven
The Wire it is (and probably Mad Men too if I can convince A that it will be a long wet winter and this will best get us through). Am interested in some of the other suggestions so perhaps next year (or come summer) I will give Carnival and Weeds a go....thank you for all the feedback!!!
Posted by Juniper at 01:15
25 September 2008
with ice cream
(it is still warm enough for sleeveless shirts and flip flops here- so hot enough for ice cream in my book).
After the successful venture of banana chocolate ice cream (with additional chocolate bits) which they (children) lapped up, believing it was chocolate ice cream (sadly they are not big on fruit in the raw- yes crazy and terribly humiliating for me). Luckily little Stella is the exception- the girl LOVES eveything.
I was itching to make a proper chocolate ice cream (adult very dark sort) so trekked around Zabbar looking for single cream (which is not easy to find- is everyone on a diet here?! I had the same trouble when looking for just straight butter). Anyways have made some dark chocolate ice cream... with orange zest, bit of vanilla and using muscovado sugar instead of white (because that's all we had) real tempted to add something else ... something crazy like nutmeg but no could be terrible and I got carried away last time. Will include a photo and verdict tomorrow.
And so as not to bore the life out of anyone reading this who does not particularly like ice cream-
this site is EXCITING
(if you are into discovering new music)- kind of like Pandora but I think Europe based....
Verdict on Chocolate orange ice cream--good creamy texture, liked the hint of orange rind but the chocolate didn't turn out dark enough- will be forced to do my Dads famous dark chocolate hot fudge sauce to save the day. No more baking with that Cadbury cocoa.
23 September 2008
So check out this piece of local equipment , I trekked my lot down to Birgu (no easy feat) as there is more than one odd five way intersection with no attention to pedestrian needs between us and this play ground I had spotted. After a long slow 35 min journey there, the park appeared completely closed and locked which was really a disappointment especially as I didn't quite know how to keep the gangs spirits up with this end goal now just beyond reach. Had some kind of an odd interaction with an old man who shrugged and said tomorrow 8 or something to that effect to finally realize that if we just lifted on one lever and pushed hard against the other door it slid open- (was wrapped in a chain with a locked padlock on one part of it) did still appear locked from the outside. What a nice mix of very old school (but newly painted) metal kids play equipment, particularly liked this horse- it kind of swayed back and forth in a galloping way. And you could fit five little ones on it at the same time- brilliant! My three did have a go all at once but sadly no hand to take a photo as Stella needed some stabilizing.
So the park trip was quite a long trek before dinner time but ended up bringing loads of giggles and shrieks of excitement. So nearly worth it.
On my mind-
Not so into the RAI Italian Tv shows here and thinking of investing in a tv series to get me through cold damp winter nights here- so as I am pretty out of the loop on whats on in America (am just now getting into Lost here on DVD) what can anyone out there advise... am thinking maybe Weeds or something called The Wire? Or Mad Men?
sorry- am totally open to a British series too
22 September 2008
With the ice cream maker that is- was a little excited what with eggs, cream and dried figs in the house- made an ice cream with figs, walnuts and chocolate (note the figs were cooked down in orange juice with a wee bit of cinnamon till carmely). Yes, I strayed from the usual keep it simple approach so it is one rich desert. The chocolate was a nice very dark Italian sort- just some small shavings (love the choices at the stores here). A photo to follow once we serve it up tonight!
--- texture and taste turned out really well- just in case anyone out there is into making ice cream will write down the recipe as I am sure by tomorrow I will forget what I did.
Fig and Walnut Ice cream
2 eggs yokes
3 Tbs sugar
mix with a whisk
add 400 ml of single cream
200 ml whole milk
add pinch of cinnamon
set in pan and let simmer 3-4 minutes
set aside to cool
chop 3-4 dried figs
add with 100 ml water
juice of half an orange
1 tbs sugar (could do without it but this is the version I made)
cook down till there is a syrup (15-20 min)
when milk mixture and fig mixture is cool start up the ice cream maker- add the cream mixture and the figs then a small handful of chopped walnuts and a small handful of finely chopped dark chocolate.
20 September 2008
Off to Birgu (pictured here )
a 15 min walk from our door, I can't really complain. Italian opera is sending us on our way (that neighbour of ours is at it again- this time blasting old Italian records) at least its fairly romantic... almost makes me feel like I have walked into a movie set. No art projects accomplished this week- apart from making some cinnamon honey ice cream (which was tastey!) and an impromptu orange plum upside down tart today for guests, its been a rather quiet week here oh yes, found out I got accepted into a masters program which starts in gasp.. just over a weeks time! Right along side the Maltese lessons... busy days ahead. Buona notte from me and Andrea Bocelli.
16 September 2008
14 September 2008
Last night we went to the culmination of the week long local feast here in Zabbar. In celebration of the patron saint Madonna of the Graces. As we neared the church in the central piazza there were crowds of people lined up to go inside and then coming out, when I asked A. if there was a ongoing kind of mass or something he explained that this is when you either thank the Madonna for the miracle you asked for a year ago or you go to make a promise for the year to come. Although I am not religious I was tempted by the thought of having a focus for ones hopes...and wondered about what brought people as I watched the many old and young faces coming out ... old worried looking women, hopeful young couples... graying weathered anxious looking men...(as I struggled to hold hands with my two wanderlust children) the third got to go inside the church on A's back and seemed to fully enjoy the lights and splendor.
Not to go on too long about this feast but it is also well known here in Malta for it's Motorcycle (and now bicycle as well) pilgrimage around the island which finishes at the church on the Sunday ( sorry didn't manage to take any photos) . Also it (like many villages in Malta) has two very popular local marching bands which march round the town the day before the procession with the statue(which was last night). The bands known as the 'blue band club' and the 'green band club' each have their own home building/restaurant/bar and devote followers. In the past the band clubs and their respective followers have come to blows so it's a wee bit tense round these parts. Half our ally is decked out in green banners, lights etc. and the other half are all done up in blue.
We are on the look out for cushion covers for our sofa (our first new sofa ever) should be simple to make and I know I ought to make some myself but I was browsing through ... yes...etsy and came across this woman's pillows- wow.... what a great selection of fabric!!! Wish I had spare beds and more sofas to justify needing more of her pillows... how can I possibly choose just one!
13 September 2008
The end of an alley is certainly not the quietest place to live. In some ways this is nice though, - with three smalls the noise of our house blends right in! But it's the echo effect which amazes me, from the daily afternoon trumpet concert (the three hour practice session) of our neighbor which sounds like it is coming from inside our own walls to his spontaneous opera singing and of late the war like effect of the non stop (day and night) fire work explosions (mostly of the very loud bang sort) which I swear will give Stella a heart attack one of these days. Look forward to when our local feast is over. But to end this weekend of noisiness is a cd I am itching to buy- Emiliani Torrini... of which I have had the pleasure of hearing some bits from her new album- Me and Armini, particularly like Big Jumps.
12 September 2008
Of Cloves and Bitter Almonds by Lou Drofenik
Although it is all centered in Malta, I really enjoyed reading this book over the last few weeks. For anyone out there who wants a good read and to know a bit more about the history of Malta- I recommend it. Now time to find a new book. Perhaps a book set in Iceland... somewhere a wee bit cooler than here... it's been in the mid thirties since we arrived (upper 90's) and very very humid.
Only taken us six weeks to get into the house.... at last it's ready enough for us to move in -so we have. It's day two and we have internet and a working computer!!!! Without the stern looks from in laws I broke from Maltese convention and took a morning walk with the children. Went to check out the local market, shops etc. here is a side street we went down. Needless to say the walk did us all good. The kids survived the heat and wee bit of sun and thus are all sleeping soundly at nap time (something they rarely did at my in laws). We bought fresh bread from the man in the van who goes around honking and sells it still hot from the oven out of the back of the van- yum. Also to my excitement found that the grocery stores here sell not only Maltese and British products but loads of French and Spanish brands too... you should see the selection of pasta choices and olive oils!!!!
10 August 2008
After a lovely send off from the picnic in Winchester to visiting with friends in Brighton we have arrived in Malta. It will be some time before we have our own computer up and running so believe it may be a week or so till I am able to post more photos.
Life in Malta started with a bang, our middle child came down with the stomach flu and chicken pox within hours of leaving the UK (her tell tale signs didn't come till the morning after we arrived). Over the course of our first three and half weeks here all three children have broken out in spots. Not ideal in upper 90's weather and foolish parental promises of trips to the beach as soon as we arrive. After consulting a doctor here we were instructed to keep the children inside for a minimum of two weeks... no easy feat. Boredom, antsiness and television watching abound much to A and I's frustration. With one week to use before the big 'SHUT DOWN' (when most of Malta closes and leaves on vacation) we have had a lot of running around to do- last essentials for the house so we can move in. Visitors from Madison/Seattle coming this week!
26 July 2008
It's come to the end of our time here, we will all miss these cobblestone streets, the lush greenery, the rushing river, our little yellow house and dear friends. Hope to be writing next from Malta (not sure exactly how long it will be till we are connected to the Internet) so good bye for a few weeks.
25 July 2008
So after waiting nearly seven months for Once to come through our mail slot (via Love films) it finally arrived and after all the anticipation I must admit I was a little let down. It was good, and I enjoyed the film don't get me wrong. I liked the fact that it was an unsuspecting musical (or to me at least- I knew nothing about the film apart from the fact that it was Irish and good) so sorry to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it- it is a quirky musical, in a subtle indie folk music kind of way. I enjoyed it (but A. fell asleep) so not for everyone. If you don't like the sound of Damien Rice then this film may not be for you (thus my husband falling asleep out of slight boredom). Am impressed with what they were able to accomplish using only a few cameras and little cash. I do think I may just have to go out and buy the sound track, for even though I was little tired of the songs by the end of the film, I must admit waking the next day and wanting to hear them again (particularly the song by the main woman sung while in pajamas walking down the street).
23 July 2008
22 July 2008
19 July 2008
I must start off with explaining the recent annoying new obsession of my husband's... it's not enough to read late into the night abstract papers on computer functions noooo the latest find is he has discovered a vast selection of computer related podcasts. German IT specialists going on for hours about the latest computer science trends (with subjects like relating technologies such as 00 and SOA - if interested here is the site with the podcasts - software engineering radio ) . He has even taken to listening late at night and in bed to these radio shows! BUT today -Saturday he woke up early made cafe miels (lattes with honey and cinnamon) for us both and a delicious fratata (Spanish omelet) today with tomatoes, spinach, red pepper, fresh basil and Parmesan as all three children slept and quizzed me in Maltese at the kitchen table. Then a little later as the children sat watching morning cartoons led me into the kitchen to dance to this song (as he was doing the dishes he was inspired to dance by this song) - Lo dudo from this album- Los Canciones de Almodovar (a good album if you like this sort of thing- dramatic Spanish singing). Although a bit of a computer geek it must be said he is a romantic guy and I do appreciate the weekend when he is around.
18 July 2008
My dear friend A. gave us the most wonderful going away gift - a new cook book!!
This one looks really good, can't wait to get unpacked in our new red kitchen and start cooking!!! The author is half Finish, half Greek Cypriot and married to an Italian. She grew up in South Africa and brings all these aspects of her life together- pretty interesting mix huh....
Not to mention the photo of Tessa Kiros the author, who looks like a glamorous Bollywood actress. Falling Cloudberries.
16 July 2008
I really do more than window shop.. it's just that I am in that 'witching hour time' waiting for my partner to come back from work... dinner more or less ready and all three children are sitting near me- some watching t.v. and the other serving me some pretend tea. Just happened to see this- think the sales are everywhere here because summer didn't exactly happen and it's nearly August! Check out Boden now.
Posted by Juniper at 10:18
Amid packing up the kitchen pots and pans I called a time out and made Stella another summer dress. At last it's warm here and it's been a few days since I touched my sewing machine... my days are numbered with my ole clunky Singer machine (too heavy to cart with us) . I call it the summer tomato dress. By the way Stella is starting to stand!!
14 July 2008
Although we have quite the collection of Mediterranean focused cook books I think this guys site will be one I will be visiting quite often Figs Bay Wine- . We walked under a fully loaded plum tree on our way back from the park today and I pondered what to do with lots of plums and this seems worth trying. I do love cardamom.
*Side note- our reason for needing to leave the park in a rush was my four year old son scraped his toe (ohhh the drama!!) but this led to a lengthy discussion as regards blood... why do people bleed... what is blood and why do we have it... where does it come from, who makes it...why does it come out... ohh the questions never end! I was grateful for the distraction of the squashed plums that we passed -- fruit trees...the start of a new discussion. Thus my mind on plums as we reached home.
13 July 2008
12 July 2008
In the midst of selling off nearly everything in the house (worried about the children going into panic mode) as coffee tables, bookshelves, desks and beds go walking out the door (to be 'looked after' by someone else) I sit during that mid day pause (nap time) and catch myself getting drawn to Danish products online. Think I will forever have a longing for Scandinavia. Here is a book I am very tempted by.
Perhaps after four years in Malta I can convince A to move to ... say Bergen.
10 July 2008
Another very wet day here in Winchester. While Stella napped and the bigger kids were at nursery I skipped spending the morning folding laundry, running errands and organizing dinner to just sit and sew. While doing this I listened to some interesting programs on the radio, sipped tea and wondered if not sewing from a pattern is such a good idea.
I was impressed with how supportive (of Obama) and clear John Edwards was in the interview on talk of the nation on Tuesday (NPR) and was in awe of just how slimy Jack Gerard, the new head of oil in the U.S. seemed, to me it sounded like he was basically saying - we need to drill in protected areas but in a very hpney coated way. He very much reminded me of the main character from the film Thank You for Smoking. Caught as well the program on Fresh Air with the interview of Don Bachardy am now kind of tempted to see the film. Although it wouldn't appear from the outset the relationship between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy was one of true romance ( the thirty year but in the end it did seem to be a real story of love. I for one was moved by the frankness and admiration Don had about the whole relationship. Did also listen to BBC Radio Four woman's hour program talking about the woman who is trying to save tigers.. a little fluffy but was entertaining and all in all it was a very nice morning. Feel like I have a lot to ponder over. Ohh do I love radio!
Here is the fruit of my morning- a little summer dress for Stella.
09 July 2008
Another product of today's sewing time -at the moment it's a pillow cover but am thinking I could make it into something else.... folded over as a wallet perhaps.... open to suggestions. Do think I would like to make a bigger version (and take my time a bit more) perhaps a set of place mats.
Posted by Juniper at 08:53
Or so it sometimes feels, an hour and half before all three children finish their naps isn't long. The clock is ticking away... managed to make this little dress for Stella- it's a trial run really. Not so sure about the neckline.. I used some left over ribbon type fabric from the apron I made Carolina a few weeks ago. Another made up one - pattern to be drawn (needs some tweaking).
Posted by Juniper at 07:58
08 July 2008
07 July 2008
This cool little train conductor style hat that was given to Gaetano (my son) by his grandma was so loved and then very sadly within the week lost. Blame the out of town zoo- the thrill of seeing that baby giraffe just eclipsed all else and somehow it must have been taken off and laid down somewhere along the way. Unfortunately we don't have a car and thus can't get back there to get it back. Sad. Winchester doesn't have the best options for finding another summer sun hat- it's Monsoon which is lovely but costs an arm and a leg or BHS which is well not worth the effort. Not that we are getting a whole heck of sun here. Come Malta though it would be handy to have a hat.