Things I Love Thursday

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  • Gratitude gratitude gratitude
  • Feeling productive + useful at work
  • MULLED WINE
  • MULLED WINE WITH RUM
  • MULLED WINE WITH AMARETTO
  • MULLED WINE WITH RUM, SUGAR, AND A FLAAAAAME (see above)
  • Christmas markets
  • Serenity training
  • Proofreading
  • Happy coincidences
  • Seeing my Christmas market bestie Tiara again!
  • The International Bazaar in Luxembourg
  • Wine and cheese evenings with my boyfriend
  • A really lovely evening with a friend and wine and Netflix
  • Singing
  • Bake sales
  • Baking
  • Christmas market fun with two beautiful women
  • LUSH baths aaaaaaaaaa
  • Reading
  • Writing about books as Christmas presents
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Cinema popcorn
  • Grocery shopping in Germany
  • Pizza and wine and beautiful conversation

6 Books You Should Totally Give As Christmas Presents

(Kittens, unfortunately, not included.)

(Kittens, unfortunately, not included.)

For a lot of people, a well-chosen book is the perfect gift for the holidays. Here is a selection of books which I think would make lovely presents this year:

  1. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – a crime story that they won’t be able to put down.
  2. Gramma by Leanne Ellul – a Maltese book that’s aimed at teenagers, but I fully enjoyed it as an adult.
  3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – beautiful poems for the super-woman in your life.
  4. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris – for anyone who’s obsessed with language/spelling/grammar.
  5. Graffiti by Savannah Brown – a book of poetry by a teenage YouTuber (she’s now 20 though, I believe), and she’s my new favourite poet (after Kate Tempest, of course).
  6. Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest – this woman is incredible. That’s it. Just buy this book for yourself, for your dog, for your colleagues. It’s great.

Happy reading and gifting!

Things I Love Thursday

Me and Belfour.

Me and Belfour.

  • Walking a dog from a local animal shelter – his name is Belfour and I love his slobbering beautiful face
  • Rabb.it dates with my bestie – we watched Grey’s Anatomy and chatted and I kept using Snapchat filters on us
  • The Crown
  • The lovely boyfriend
  • Hilarious updates from my other bestie
  • An early Secret Santa gift which was 10/10 amazing <3
  • New photos of our nephew – always easily the best part of the day
  • Kind colleagues
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas lights!
  • A choir rehearsal
  • A meal and drink with a friend visiting from Malta
  • LUSH baths (10/10)
  • Glen Hansard in concert
  • Helping friends over wine and cheese
  • Wine
  • Having an almost waste-free period (reusable menstrual cup convert)
  • A little middle-of-the-day date with a wonderful colleague
  • Receiving an advent calendar from my parents
  • Managing to buy Rock Werchter tickets within the first 5 minutes of them being on sale
  • Meals with clever, beautiful women

Christmas Wishlist 2016

Christmas Wishlist 2016

Another year, another Christmas wishlist.

As many of you may know, Christmastime is one of my Favourite Times of the Year, so I’m always excited about the prospect of gift-buying and gift-getting and food-consuming. Although we all know it’s mostly about the mulled wine. Oh yeah.

(They have a special type of mulled wine at the Christmas market here in Luxembourg – which kicks off this week – with a little hovering thing over the mug of mulled wine which they LIGHT ON FIRE, and my Christmas-market-bestie Tiara is visiting in a few days and I cannot WAIT to consume this with her once again.)

So, apart from mulled wine money, this is my wishlist for this year:

  1. HP Sprocket – I saw this on a YouTube ad, and it’s enchanted me. A little printer to print phone pictures?! Perfect.
  2. Book vouchers/bookdepository.com vouchers – I am very much in a book-buying swoop at the moment. All the books.
  3. A trip to a second-hand bookshop – This year I’ve rekindled my love for second-hand bookshops. I love them, and I love spending time in them and leafing through the beautiful books.
  4. Flight tickets to Malta – Being in Malta is still one of my favourite things ever. I cherish the time so, so much. Maybe that’s the best thing about living in Luxembourg. :P
  5. Flight tickets to almost anywhere, for that matter – Travelling is firmly towards the top of my list of priorities at the moment. I’m so open to new adventures.
  6. A good handbag (I’m always in need of one) – And I don’t even know where to start. Where does one find a good handbag? Argh.
  7. Skater dresses (always) – Still my daily uniform for any occasion. I love wearing dresses. Give me more.

Have a wonderful Christmastime.

Things I Love Thursday

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That’s a rum baba I had last weekend. Mmm.

  • Seven years with my boyfriend! Woo!
  • Satin Island (almost done)
  • Surviving in my new job
  • Candles
  • Mikado
  • Good cheese and good wine and a warm dessert
  • KATE TEMPEST
  • Book deliveries
  • Different perspectives
  • Skyping my parents
  • Rabb.it dates with my bestie
  • Being totally on top of Christmas presents already

Things I Love Thursday + thoughts

Some things I’ve been loving:

  • My new job
  • Office supplies
  • The Rijksmuseum
  • Fantastic friends
  • New stuff from IKEA
  • The Christmas section at IKEA
  • Chocolate with sea salt
  • Biffy Clyro
  • LUSH, as always (the Christmas stuff is my favourite ever, and I’ve got lots to share with you in an upcoming post)
  • This is Us
  • Coming second in a pub quiz
  • Travelling and just “going for it”
  • The Mediterranean Sea x1000000000

I’ve been thinking about my blog a lot lately. I don’t know what to do with it. The format I had over the past 6 years isn’t working out anymore for me, so I’m leaning towards revamping it entirely and creating a new blog (same URL)… but, then again, I still want to keep things like my TILTs and occasional posts about LUSH. I really, really want to introduce some short stream-of-consciousness posts about random (or not so random…) thoughts/topics, so perhaps I should start semi-afresh with a nice new layout and a clean slate. Any thoughts? I miss blogging more regularly, so I’d love to be able to get back into it.

Claire

Things I Love Thursday

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That’s a Scotch egg.

You might think that the lack of Things I Love Thursday posts (or any posts, for that matter) means that I haven’t been particularly grateful lately, but in reality I feel the happiest I’ve been in a while (and this year had been pretty good already). This summer has been weird and wonderful, and now the weather has synced up with that real summer feeling. I’m really not ready for autumn, and I hope it takes its time (just like summer did). So let’s compile a little list of things I love on this sunny Thursday:

  • I haven’t received an official offer yet, but I got a job! I’m so excited, and should be starting in November. Squeeeeeeeee.
  • My proofreading work has still been as busy as ever. I’ve particularly loved it these past few weeks – it’s lovely to work on meaningful work.
  • I went to Nijmegen in the Netherlands in August, for a week-long course at Radboud University on Gender. It was wonderful and I met some truly fantastic people.
  • Sense8 – fascinating
  • Gilmore Girls – a gem of a series
  • Gossip Girl – so bad but so good
  • My little baby nephew who I am completely head-over-heels in love with. Who knew this could happen to me?
  • Malta, always.
  • Weekend visits to Redu (Belgium), Strasbourg (France) and Maastricht (the Netherlands) (and I drove us to and from Maastricht!) <3
  • BBQs with friends and family
  • Inflicting quizzes on my friends and family
  • The Olympics!
  • The new Biffy Clyro album
  • Wine and Aperol spritzes and sangria and peach mojitos and all the drinks
  • Friends and Dave and myself

Have a fantastic Thursday.

Life in Luxembourg after a Year and a Half

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My stay in Luxembourg has now reached its year-and-a-half point. Life has changed considerably for me over the past few months (I’ve been a stagiaire at the European Commission as a trainee translator), and this past winter has been long and dreary and very, very rainy. We also got a car a few weeks ago, which has flipped our lives upside down. (Having a car is great.) This country is still very expensive in my eyes, and I still have no idea where my life is heading here (or anywhere), but… life is pretty good.

Let’s talk about a few key points (the good, the bad, the ugly).

The weather

It’s unbearable. How. Why. It’s been raining forever. There have been about two and a half days of sunshine this year prior to the middle of July. I hate it. I really despise it. Ugh.

Driving

I come from a country which drives on the left, so driving on the right did not go well at the beginning. Now, I feel fine. Driving is great. But at the beginning it was anxiety all over. I still get a little nervous, but I’ve even graduated to driving in the city centre without any GPS help.

The traineeship at the European Commission

This was such a busy period – I did so many things, learnt so many things, felt so many things. I should probably write about the traineeship in more length another time, but let’s just say that it was quite a special experience, and I’m so glad I could do it in Luxembourg at the Commission.

Harassment

I had several awful experiences of harassment over the past 6 months – including a man chasing me down a street after waiting for me at a bus stop. It’s sad, it makes me feel unsafe, etc.

Hiking

Luxembourg is so good for hiking. Even (especially!) for a novice like me.

“There’s nothing to do in Luxembourg”

Still untrue (at least from my point of view!).

French

I’m still not fluent. BUT I am sometimes understandable. Progress.

Plant update

Most of my plants are still alive!

A pet cat

I still want one.

Summer Sangria [RECIPE]

sangria and tortilla chips

Now that some semblance of summertime has appeared in Luxembourg, it’s time for one of my all-time favourite activities: eating outside with friends. While my favourite al fresco spots are still to be found in Malta, it’s lovely to whip up something special on a nice day in Luxembourg to share with my boyfriend and friends, and it’s a perfect opportunity to make the most of grassy spots and lakeside views. (Luxembourg really does look very beautiful when it’s sunny.) This summer sangria is not too strong, and perfectly summery – and great to share ;)

summer sangria

Summer Sangria

  • Watermelon
  • A bottle of sweet rosé wine
  • 2 limes
  • Fresh mint
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice cubes
  • Simple syrup (if desired – for an extra-sweet cocktail) (sugar & water)

Chop and de-seed the watermelon, and combine it with sliced lime, fresh mint leaves, and the chilled wine. Add some (cooled) simple syrup, if you’d like your cocktail to be extra sweet. (To make simple syrup, let around 115g of sugar dissolve in around 120ml of water in a saucepan.) Stir the mixture properly and let it sit in the pitcher or bowl for at least a couple of hours. Add chilled sparkling water just before serving.

summer sangria Delhaize

This drink is perfect for summer parties. (Here, I served it with a side of delicious Delhaize tortilla chips.) Thanks to Delhaize Luxembourg for providing the delicious ingredients.

The EU in the Cliffs

Dingli Cliffs sun set

No, you’re in luck: I’m not about to talk about Brexit. I’ve just returned from yet another little trip back home to my most beautiful country of Malta. Recently, I’ve been spotting a pattern when it comes to the places I usually visit every time I’m back – a swim at Wied iż-Żurrieq, lunch in Valletta, a drink with friends at The Pub, and a drive/walk in the countryside.

When it comes to the countryside, Dingli Cliffs is one of my favourite ports of call whenever I’m in Malta. When I was at University, I often drove there to sit on some rocks to study and stare out at the vastness of the sea. One of my first dates with my boyfriend (almost seven years ago!) was to see the sun set on the horizon at Dingli Cliffs (we had later also gone to see a shooting star shower in the middle of the night). It’s a special place, and its majestic views and natural beauty have always impressed me. That first sight of the sudden vast sea below you as you drive across the road on top of the cliffs? It gets me every time.

It doesn’t seem like many Maltese people visit the cliffs often – perhaps because of the thoughts of death and tragedy that lurk around these parts. However, this should not deter anyone from enjoying the absolute beauty of the area, particularly because of the natural treasures that one can find… There are all sorts of Malta-specific flora and fauna (which I might be more open to appreciating recently due to being away from Malta…), such as Mediterranean thyme (sagħtar) (which evokes the most wonderful nostalgia due to its sharp smell), Maltese everlasting, common hawthorn (żagħrun) (which, as I’ve read on the latest Air Malta Bizzilla, is said to possibly help with chronic heart failure), the blue rock thrush (merill), the chameleon, and the ocellated skink (xaħmet l-art).

Some of my most favourite things about the Dingli Cliffs, however, are the peace and quiet, the view of Filfla (another island in the Maltese archipelago, which is a natural reserve), and the annual Agricultural Fest that takes place in spring. The latter is such a treat: sheep shearing! donkey rides! fried ravioli! traditional Maltese everything! I haven’t been to this festival these past few years, so next year, I’m going to have to be sure to pencil it into my calendar to try to be in Malta on that blessed May Sunday.

EU Funding plaque

Last Sunday, as I walked around the area, I found this plaque at a corner, telling me that this area is Natura 2000 site, meaning that it’s a protected area (as it should be!). No sign in Malta is capable of surviving the harsh sun, so I’m not surprised that this one is a little bit worse for wear. I can make out that EU funding was given as part of the Rural Development Programme for Malta 2007-2013 to improve the quality of life in rural areas and encourage tourism activities in these parts. As regards the latter, there have been some questionable decisions taking place, but the improvement of the promenade, for example, has been a welcome addition to the area. Nevertheless, when I compare this type of natural environment with similar places in Luxembourg (I say “similar”, but there are no cliffs by the sea in Luxembourg – I can assure you that; what I mean is natural habitats), I’m often very impressed by how many natural spots in Luxembourg can be enjoyed without harsh railings and bright angular pavements. Then again, to enable ease of access (and safety!) for people and cars in a place like Dingli Cliffs, there are few other options, so I can’t say I’m displeased.

Ultimately, this post is an ode to a place I love. This area is perfect for nature lovers, for a walk, for a first date(!) (or any date, really), and for an outing with friends. Whenever it’s warm (and not too windy), a late evening walk along the promenade as the sun is setting will cure any ailment you might have, whether it’s of the body or of the soul.

Sunset Dingli Cliffs

If you’re Maltese or have been to Malta, what are your favourite spots on Malta/Gozo/Comino? Do you think more can be done at Dingli Cliffs? What should the EU be spending its money on when it comes to natural treasures like this one? Is there enough transparency when it comes to how much money is spent and how it is spent?

Links for further reading: Ħad-Dingli Local Council, interesting facts about the cliffs/flora/fauna, a pdf about the Rural Development Programme for Malta 2007-2013.