Things I Love Thursday

  • Family
  • True lovely friends
  • Cute baby pictures
  • Books
  • Using my rubber stamp
  • Being helpful and solving problems
  • Porto
  • My awesome boyfriend who’s an excellent partner-person
  • Good food
  • Fine dining with all the bells and whistles
  • The Eurovision
  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • The baby nephew who was perfect when he was born but is now inexplicably a million times more beautiful. Ma nifhimx.
  • Venus the cat (pictured)

28th Birthday Wishlist

It’s my birthday in about a month, and I have quite a wishlist this year:

Things I Love Thursday: Guest Edition (John’s)

Today we have a special TILT, from the one and only John. He’s been a lovely friend to me over the past few years, and some of you probably know him from TV (ooooh – a celebrity on my blog!). He’s also been a very sweet supporter of my blog and my TILTs, so it’s my absolute pleasure to have let him compile his own list of things he loves and appreciates this week.

  • Okami! My little Shiba boy!
  • Sparta, Athena and Leila! My 3 cats.
  • My nephews and niece
  • Peep Show (series addiction galore)
  • Manchester United
  • Gaming
  • Pejx
  • Joe Abercrombie
  • Football Forum
  • My colleagues
  • The Pub
  • Adventures with Phil!
  • The Brimmers
  • Last but not least, the people that helped pick me back up after these two years, the people I consider my family and my everything: my friends and the ones I love. Thank you so much for being there, you are awesome and amazing people.

Things I Love Thursday

Brunch at Kathy’s, Luxembourg City

  • A delicious brunch with some lovely women
  • A great evening of pizza and wine and conversation (and a baby falling asleep on me)
  • Celebrating a friend’s birthday
  • Cake
  • Yoga
  • Bowling, air hockey, and table soccer
  • Watching a bunch of the Oscar-nominated films (I’m trying to watch as many as possible, like last year)
  • An evening out with two lovely ladies, including the wonderful carrot cake from Konrad’s, and going to Beet for the first time (had an absolutely heavenly tart, but it barely kept me full for two minutes)
  • Contacting old friends
  • Bastille
  • Reading a few great/amusing books: The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, Fucking Apostrophes, Let Them Eat Chaos.
  • Dreaming about adopting a perfect puppy
  • Feeling good mentally even though I’m a bit sick this week physically
  • Skype sessions with my parents
  • A Skype call with one bestie and then a rabb.it call to watch Grey’s with my other bestie (heaven)

TWO YEARS IN LUXEMBOURG

Out walking a dog from a local dog shelter

Can you even believe it? I’ve been in Luxembourg for over 2 years now. It’s been a bit of a wild ride, but the main thing is that THINGS HAVE GOTTEN BETTER. I’m less lonely, more active, and I’m much happier. Here are a few of the main things I’d like to discuss:

HAVING A CAR

We got a car in May 2016, and it’s been one of the best things of the year. Waiting in the freezing cold for a bus happens less now, and grocery shopping is much easier. And, surprisingly, hikes are easier too, because we can just drive into the countryside and go for long walks, instead of always having to start from the city.

Driving to places in the region has also been amazing – we’ve gone to places like Maastricht and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Wesel and Cologne in Germany, and Liège (for a Kate Tempest concert) and Brussels (for our Christmas flights back home) in Belgium. And we can always drive to a city in France in the evening for comfort food at the place which makes the best chocolate fondant.

GETTING A JOB

In 2016, I did a traineeship at the European Commission, and then got a job at the European Commission which started in November 2016. It’s been life-changing and very good. I like having a job to go to every day.

FRIENDS

I still don’t have too many close friends in Luxembourg, but I love the ones I do have, and I am certainly becoming more involved in things (for example, I joined a book club this week, whee!).

THE WEATHER

It’s beautiful, sometimes, but when it rains every day in June (like it did last year), I’m over it. This country doesn’t have very good weather. And no sea. Ugh.

A PET CAT

We still don’t have a pet cat. I want one so badly. It still doesn’t make sense to get one (we’re away most of the day and sometimes for days at a time when we travel), but STILL. WANT ONE.

FRENCH

I’m still so far away from being fluent in French. BUT I am always inching towards that goal of mine. In a few weeks I’ll be starting more formal lessons, for several hours a week. Let’s hope that that will give me the confidence and knowledge I need to become better at this French-speaking malarkey.

SETTLING HERE?

This is not out of the question, for a few years, whereas a year ago I would have said that I can’t wait to go back to Malta (or move somewhere else) ASAP. Now, I could see myself staying here for a few years, if things pan out well on the job-front. There’s also the question of finding a more sustainable place to live (instead of throwing money down the drain in rent every month).

MISSING MALTA

I still miss Malta, a lot, every day. It’s the place, the people, my family, our new little nephew, my cat, the food, my car, driving on the left, my friends, the Pub, the restaurants… I could go on. Luxembourg is my home, but only for now, and not really. Malta is my home.

Who knows what’s in store for this next year?

Things I Love Thursday

At the Jardin des Tuileries

  • A super super lovely weekend in Paris with three wonderful Italian women
  • Make-up
  • Shopping (so much shopping)
  • A new bag
  • Crepes
  • Boulangeries
  • The Orangerie museum
  • Sunshine
  • Falling snow
  • Discovering a great Greek restaurant in Luxembourg City
  • Yoga
  • Working on a train
  • Sushi
  • Women’s Marches
  • A new mousepad at work

Things I Love Thursday

  • YOGA. Free sessions are offered several times a week at work and I might be getting (happily) obsessed.
  • Hot chocolate
  • The little marshmallows you can put in hot chocolate
  • Photos of our little nephew – how do they never get old?? I woke up this morning and turned to Dave and demanded to be shown the most recent photos of him. I love the little guy so much.
  • Weather warnings that don’t amount to much apart from very cold noses
  • Driving in the snow/ice and seemingly coping
  • Buying workout-wear that’s nice
  • An absolutely beautiful meal at some beautiful friends’ house
  • English breakfast for dinner
  • All the Light We Cannot See – my current read, which I’m LOVING
  • A surprise pizza dinner with an old friend/colleague of my boyfriend
  • Solving problems
  • Sunset being sliiiiightly later every day

How To Have The Perfect Day In Malta

Instax photos at Il-Kantra, Ta’ Ċenċ, Gozo.

The Situation

I’m Maltese. But I live in Luxembourg. A landlocked country. And I get homesick quite often. So today I thought I would put together a little guide for how to have a perfect day in Malta, which I’m hoping to recreate myself very soon.

The Essentials

Remember to practice your selfie game. This is one I made earlier outside Mdina/Rabat.

First, you need to realise that this endeavour is serious business. You need to ensure that you have all your bases covered. These are your sun, sea, culture and food.

You will also need:

  1. Suncream
  2. Sunglasses
  3. A camera/good smartphone
  4. Swimwear and a towel
  5. A companion or two (or three) (optional)

A beach bag, sunglasses, swimming goggles, a little backpack, towels, and a good book. Bliss.

If you’re embarking on this adventure in winter, check out this post about the essentials for your winter holidays in Malta (but add swimwear and a towel to that list as well – yes, I swim all year round, and encourage you to do too). ;)

Breakfast

Kinnie and pastizzi = <3.

Wake up at a leisurely time. If you’re up for a greasy, heavy, gloriously Maltese breakfast, head over to a pastizzeria for a couple of pastizzi (“wieħed u wieħed” for me, please).

That.salted.caramel.brownie. UGHHHHHHHHH, TOO GOOD.

Otherwise, if you want a very Instagrammable morning meal, go to the place-of-the-moment and have breakfast at Emma’s Kitchen (the hype is REAL, people). Please have a salted caramel brownie for me, because my mouth is watering for it as I type this.

The Morning

Take a stroll through Mdina or Valletta. You’ve got to get that intense culture in. These two cities are so full to the brim with history that you’re close to being overwhelmed after a couple of hours. Mdina highlight: Bastion Square. Valletta highlight: St John’s Co-Cathedral.

Imġiebaħ Bay, Selmun.

After that, it’s the perfect time for a sneaky swim. My favourite spots are Wied iż-Żurrieq (rocky) or Imġiebaħ Bay (sandy). The latter is more difficult to get to, but oh so worth it.

Swimming at Għar Lapsi.

Lunch

You have two options for lunch: you can either abandon the mainland for the afternoon, or else stay “on” Malta.

A ftira from Maxokk and a dip at San Blas, Gozo. Perfection.

If you decide to hop over to Gozo, you’re in for a treat. Malta’s sister island is a haven of hills, beaches, and some weird-but-wonderful people. A Maxokk ftira is the epitome of Gozitan food (especially one with ġbejniet), but also consider Il-Kantra (Ta’ Ċenċ) or cheap but cheerful Odyssey (Marsalforn). 

If you stay on the main island, then (guess what?) you’re also in for a treat. My idea of a heavenly lunch option in Malta is Rising Sun in Marsaxlokk. Have the pasta octopus and a bottle of white wine and thank me later.

The Afternoon

The view from Il-Kantra, Ta’ Ċenċ, Gozo. Paradise.

If you’re in Gozo, at some point, you need to go for a swim. I’d suggest Għar Qawqla in Marsalforn, Ta’ Ċenċ, or Ramla l-Ħamra. San Blas is also stunning. If the sea is rough, head to Mġarr ix-Xini.

Mġarr ix-Xini on a very windy day.

As an afternoon activity, I’d also suggest a stroll around the Citadella and/or a wine tasting. Tal-Massar Winery offer beautiful wine-tasting sessions which I’d highly recommend. So much wine, so little time.

Tal-Massar Winery. (That’s a wine called Garb that’s being poured. It’s heavenly.)

There’s so much to do in Gozo, so even spending the evening and the night there would be a great option.

Ramla l-Ħamra is great for a swim or just a place to consume an ice-cream and a book.

If you’ve stayed on the main island, unless you want to continue with the cultural/historical theme, the afternoon is great for a drive through the Maltese countryside – finding hidden gems and getting away from the crowds.

The chapel at Binġemma – amazing views behind it, too.

Find a wayside chapel in the countryside, and take lots of photos of your favourite views.

Fomm ir-Riħ. These parts are great for hikes and picnics.

The Evening

Grab that sunset, whether it’s in Gozo (pictured) or at Dingli Cliffs (the classic).

Later, head to some event that’s on that evening – a play at the theatre, a music gig, some exhibition opening or a festa/festival (the Għanafest used to be my absolute favourite festival of the year, but I haven’t been in way too long).

Dinner

Cacio e pepe at Zero Sei, Valletta. Drool.

Wrap up that glorious day with a delicious dinner. A top-notch suggestion would be Zero Sei in Valletta, on Old Theatre Street. IT’S SO GOOD. Have the cacio e pepe pasta and a tiramisù. And lots of wine.

Nighttime

Much merriment at The Pub.

Finally, head over to The Pub in Valletta for a well-deserved drink in the best and most friendly atmosphere in Malta. I’d recommend a nice, crisp Hendrick’s gin and tonic.

And that’s it. How to have the perfect day in my beloved Malta. Is there anything you think I left out?

Things I Love Thursday

Lunch on Monday of last week, at Rising Sun in Marsaxlokk. Best Pasta Octopus you’ll ever have.

  • Snow
  • Buying a TV!
  • Cooking
  • My boyfriend’s beautiful cooking
  • Using Christmas presents
  • Meeting another dog adopted from Malta
  • A bedroom picnic
  • Animal Farm
  • Writing out some resolutions and feeling good about them
  • Watching Arrival (weird.)
  • Being competent (at least some of the time)
  • Eating raclette
  • A lovely dinner in a lovely house with a lovely dog
  • LUSH
  • The documentary Food Coop
  • A great evening with Sunny
  • Printed-out photos
  • Cold-pressed juice

The Books I Read in 2016

Here’s a round-up of my 2016 in books.

Little Books

Halfway through 2016, I started freaking out, because I had only read a handful of books, and was very far from reaching my goal of reading 27 books. Therefore, I started collecting and reading a bunch of little books, like the following.

  1. Only Dull People are Brilliant at Breakfast by Oscar Wilde
  2. The Great Winglebury Duel by Charles Dickens
  3. The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Brontë
  4. The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen
  5. In Defence of English Cooking by George Orwell
  6. The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
  7. The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells
  8. To Be Read at Dusk by Charles Dickens
  9. The Kiss by Anton Chekhov
  10. Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
  11. Murder by John Steinbeck
  12. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  13. The Dressmaker’s Child by William Trevor
  14. On Love and Death by Patrick Süskind
  15. Hannibal by Livy

My favourites were Femme Fatale by Guy de MaupassantMurder by John SteinbeckThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins GilmanThe Dressmaker’s Child by William TrevorOn Love and Death by Patrick Süskind and The Kiss by Anton Chekhov, and a disappointment was The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells.

Books in Maltese

  1. Gramma by Leanne Ellul

I’m glad I read at least one book in Maltese this year, and thankfully it was an outstanding one. Heavy, with great rhythm, and what a protagonist’s voice.

Books in French

  1. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  2. Autour de la Lune by Jules Verne

Miraculously, I read three (including the graphic novel below) books in French this year (and bits of others). Le Petit Prince was beautiful to read in the original language, and I always love a bit of Jules Verne, especially when it’s simplified.

Graphic Novels

  1. Les Jours Sucrés by Anne Montel and Loïc Clément
  2. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (adapted)

So I’m foraying into the world of graphic novels now. I read the Christie in one glorious sitting, but took my time with the beautiful Les Jours SucrésThe latter was incredible – the detail, the illustration… Such a heartwarming read. Please let me know if you’d recommend any graphic novels to me – I already have several on my to-want list.

Poetry

2016 felt like a big year for poetry for me. I completely lost myself in these two poetry collections, and would recommend them very highly, particularly to 20-somethings.

  1. Graffiti (and other poems) by Savannah Brown
  2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Non-Fiction

  1. Between You and Me by Mary Norris

I loved this book. It was a birthday present from my boyfriend, and it was perfect for me – all about proofreading.

Novels

Novels are my favourite kind of book, usually. This year was a so-so one for novels. The new McEwan was fascinating, but nowhere near a favourite. In a Dark, Dark Wood was a pleasant surprise, but Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was a little disappointing. Satin Island was incredible, but the ending did leave me a little disappointed and bewildered – I really expected some massive, strange twist to the tale. I finally read Lord of the Flies and it was creepy AF. And while I found Middlesex to be a little problematic, I still enjoyed it very, very much.

  1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  4. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
  5. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  7. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  8. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Disappointments

  1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  3. The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells

(And, to a lesser extent, Satin Island.)

Favourites

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  3. The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
  4. Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
  5. The Dressmaker’s Child by William Trevor

No stand-out favourite book this year, but I guess Adichie came out on top, as per.

In Summary

I read a total of 31 books in 2016. After a bit of a slump during the first half of the year, I suddenly found myself gobbling books up. It was great. I also went on a little of an over-buying-books binge. It’s not pretty. Or rather, it’s very pretty. I want more. Always.

Check me out on Goodreads (please add me as a friend!) and let me know your biggest recommendation for me from the books you read in 2016.