Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Time to Reflect and Pray!

The walkway through the orchard leading up to the
Retreat House which has recently been refurbished and
which is almost a hundred years old.

We have been away this past weekend on a Lenten retreat to reflect and pray with family and friends...it was a lovely experience and through this post would like to thank those who have given their energy and time to make this possible and truly fulfilling, you all know who you are ~ thank you from the bottom of our hearts and well done! Blessings to you and yours.

It was a time to reflect and pray, a time to relax and share our free time, a time to appreciate and give thanks to Our Lord and to get to know each other better..... here are some few photos I took which I'd like to share with you...

Selmun Palace can be seen in the distance

St.Paul's Islands

A close up of one of the islands.

We could see this olive tree right from our window

Beautiful almond blossoms adorned the orchard

A close-up picture of these lovely spring blossoms is inspirational:
just like the bare trees after the dark winter,
let us leave the past behind and take a leap into the freshness
and promise of spring, an excitement full of energy
and a time for reflection and a NEW START!

And the wind blew, it blew so hard...

it almost blew my laundry away!

There were a few days last week when we had very strong winds. It is when you can't leave doors or windows open. It is when you really have to watch your hat if you are out in the street or that you don't get hit by the waving clothes, especially when they are still wet ~ OUCH!

I could not resist the temptation to run downstairs, grab my camera and get a few shots to share with you...

The clouds were also amazing...I love that blue sky!

I have just finished writing this poem inspired by this posting and the pictures...
Such force the wind has
in its versatility...
in its agility,
as it moves the clouds,
dances with leaves,
caresses flowers...

From a gentle breeze to
a gale force wind,
first it softly touches,
then moves, displaces,
bends or breaks
anything in its path.
It grips in its clutches,
roughly pushes,
mysteriously carries,
wonderfully creates,
mercilessly destroys.....

Yet on and on it blows...
I hear your song,
I feel your touch,
I see your beauty...
A singing wind,
a refreshing wind,
Just doing your duty!
I ask...
Where do you come from?
Where do you go?
And you just
b l o w !
Doreen Scerri ©

~ Thank you Lord for the wind that dried my laundry today! ~

I'm back...with a Recipe!

WOW I can hardly believe it's been a week since the last time I posted on my blog. Oh well, I am back here once more with loads of pictures to share of what I've been up to. The problem is I have been so busy and have taken so many photos, I don't know where to begin : )

I guess I could start at the beginning and work my way up to the present or start with the latest venture and work my way back to last week...no, I prefer the other way as that will bring me to the present!

So starting from where I left off, my first picture to share is of a recipe I made using a cauliflower. Whenever I make this, my family always ask for more!

I will not repeat what is already on the net on 'How to cut a cauliflower' or 'How to cook a cauliflower' as you can make a search and get loads of great instructions.

Here is how I made my appetizing dish...

Having prepared the cauliflower by cleaning off the outer leaves and cutting off the bottom stem, I broke it (you can cut it) into florets for steaming or boiling. Rinsing is an important part and you can do this the night before if you prefer and leave covered in your fridge overnight.

Now the cooking starts...I usually boil the florets for about 8-10 minutes until I can easily insert a knife into one of the stalks. Drain and put aside. At this point I pre-heated my oven. Sorry I can not quite tell you what temperature to use as my oven is quite old and the thermostat does not work very well (Yep, time for a new one I guess!) so I have to keep checking to adjust the temperature.
I prepared a baking pan by lightly greasing it (you can use a non-stick one).
I placed the pre-cooked florets and arranged them to cover the entire pan.
In a small bowl, I beat three medium eggs with 200ml (a little less than a cup) semi-skimmed milk and a 4-5 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
Next I poured this mixture over the prepared florets distributing it evenly.
I made another mixture this time of breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese and sprinkled it over the top.

I would say you need to bake it for about 15 minutes at 350° but it depends on individual ovens so the best guide is to check when the cheese and crumb mixture becomes golden. Remember the cauliflower has already been cooked and it is only the egg, cheese and milk mixture that needs to set and cook.

This dish can be served as a main meal along with crusty bread or as a side dish with your favourite meat or fish.

Enjoy, I hope you will try this, if you do, let me know : )

Footnote: I prefer to gently mash the cauliflower before adding the egg mixture, makes it easier to cut into portions once it is cooked.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lists, Lists and more Lists...

Have you ever thought about how our
To Do/Shopping/Gift Buying/Holiday
lists reveal so much about us?

Have you ever noticed a shopping list in your cart
or on a shelf that was left behind by someone
and resisted the urge to read it?

You don't know the person but...

... you feel as if you're intruding on their privacy if you read it as lists are truly a part of us. We can't live without lists, well, at least I can't. Lists can take the form of entries in your diary, reminders on your calendar, notes scribbled on a piece of paper but all with the intent of recording something that will be a reminder to you later on. It is amazing how revealing these notes can be. All these notes put together make lists but we also need to group our tasks and know our priorities.

A shopping list shows the eating habits of a person or a family and their lifestyle including diets, healthy eating habits or otherwise, a sweet tooth, food preferences and so much more.

The way you write your list and how you prioritise is another indication.

A list is actually a unique window opening onto what and who we really are!

Nowadays one can download a programme for shopping lists or reminders but I prefer the traditional method. Reminders, lists and knowing one's priorites can help make managing your task loads so much more fun and motivational!
Today I have made several lists and I feel much better knowing what needs to be done this week as it is turning out to be a very hectic one. I think this is the best way to get things done!

Out of a list of 12 Things To Do, I have managed to do 6 of them ~ Hurray!

Besides this To Do List, I also made up the Menu for this week, a Shopping List and a List of Items we need for our weekend away.

I love to have my lists handy and where I can see them. The side of my fridge is a great motivational place to keep them along with other inspirational magnets with lovely messages!

It's a great feeling to cross off items from my To Do List and now this posting is yet another project done!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Balconies and Lookout points

It is amazing what you will notice when you are out walking with a camera in hand. As we walked through the narrow streets in Balzan yesterday, I lagged behind as every building became a focus point for my camera.

To anyone walking through the streets in Malta and Gozo, the stone buildings with their different balconies and lookout points including rooftops stand out. They beg tourists to become one of their treasured snapshots of an island steeped in history.

The open stone balcony probably dates back to medieval times and had a protective/lookout enclosure made of stone, wood or wrought iron. Some time during the 18th centruy it became popular to replace the open balconies with an enclosed timber one.

Tassels or shells to geometrical patterns or intrinsic carvings were used throughout the ages to decorate our open stone balconies.

As a note of interest, it is believed that the first closed timber balcony appeared in Malta around the year 1679, when the corner balcony of the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta was covered with a structure made of timber and glass.

Today we still see the ornament free closed timber balcony which offers shelter from sun and rain as well as the open balconies which are more popular with newer buildings.

It will be interesting to see what else I can find to photograph the next time and I will surely be on the look out for more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's the First Day of Spring!

It was such a lovely day yesterday and, although a little cloudy, a preview of spring. We decided to walk to San Anton Gardens for a late morning picnic. I took several (hmm, maybe just over a hundred to be exact) pictures and I knew I would share some with you so here is one to start us off ... these flowers were impressive!

Although today is actually the first day of spring, unfortunately it was a dull day, but with these pictures in my files, I will try to brighten up our little space...here are some more from yesterday's outing...

Last but not least, here is a picture of a very friendly furry friend who seemed very comfortable sitting right next to us...

It was one of those March days when
the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:
when it is summer in the light,
and winter in the shade.
~ Charles Dickens ~

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Painted Butterflies - a Craft for Spring!

This was a craft I did with a class last year during our Parish summer club for kids. It was an introduction to the basic concept of glass painting since some of them were too young for this.
You can see the patterns (see photo) we used to trace onto acrylic sheets (transparencies) using permanent markers. We then cut the sheets and painted the butterflies using glitter glue. We let them dry and then glued them onto wooden scewers to use as plant pokes. These were very popular with the kids and they thoroughly enjoyed making them.
I hope these will be inspirational to some of you, so enjoy being creative while decorating your plants this spring.

Happy to Wear my GREEN Today

I was very happy to wear the lovely pin that my SS sent me. Of course I had to take it off my year round tree for today and pinned it to my jacket as I went in to Valletta this morning.

St.Pat's is not widely celebrated here on our island except in certain communities or associations but it is always so nice to remember this special day. I do remember the days at school when we used to make sure we had something green to wear. There used to be an old haberdashery store just across the street from our school and that must have been the one day in the year when the lady there sold the most yards of green ribbons!

Monday, March 16, 2009

St.Patrick's Day Bookmark for You!


Here is a bookmark I designed for you, right click and save to your files ~ enjoy!

Year Round Tree ~ St. Patrick's Day

Here is how I decorated my tree for St.Paddy's Day...I left my Valentine's Day hearts on the tree and added some Shamrock decorations, put a crocheted clover pin at the top and decorated around the base with decorative coins. Thanks to my on-line friends who have so generously sent me these great add-ons for my tree.

Here is a closeup of the crochet pin at the top of the tree with one of the shamrock decorations on the lower branches.

The picture on the right shows the shamrock decoration in more detail along with a 'Thinking about you' Tag from my Secret Sister from the Voy Craftsayings Board which will stay on the tree all year.

I love the 'Blessings to this House' Card from my SS...

I have been counting the coins (thanks Cathy) beneath the tree and with a sigh, praying they might turn to real gold and multiply!

Joking apart, I would like to thank God for my family and friends
who have added cheer and so much fun
to making this St.Patrick's day
a memorable one!
Happy St.Patrick's Day
God bless you all!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time to Declutter

Will you come with me on a clean up spree?
Sort things out and set yourself free,
Know which things you love or need to stay,
The rest decide to throw or give away...
Take a few minutes, set your timer on Go,
Work on one area steady and slow
Soon you'll be able to smile and see
That change really begins with ME!
Doreen Scerri © 2009

I had been putting this job off for ages, knowing it would probably take me hours to do, then I decided to do it in stages. I am not a person who likes to spend hours doing a tedious job so arming myself with a timer, a duster, a box for giving away and a bin liner bag I set myself to tidying up the top shelf of my bookcase.

In order not to take up more time than I allowed myself on the timer, I sorted quickly through the loose papers and put them in a file folder to go through the next time I will be filing important papers.
I found some things that I could use in my crafts, hmm should I keep these or not? W-e-l-l, OK I will allow myself to keep these apart to put with my crafting supplies. Odds and ends that were just sitting there and which I had no use for were thrown away.

There were a couple of toys which I liked and which I decided to keep as decorative items on my shelves. Maybe these will go in the give away box the next time!!!
Having finished this top shelf in such a reasonable time and seeing the result I had achieved motivated me to do the rest. I tackled the remaining shelves one at a time within the next couple of days. Looking at the tidy unit made me feel so good and gave me a sense of peacefulness.






Now I'm ready for the next job.....

Monday, March 9, 2009

More pictures ~ San Anton Gardens

These pictures were taken by my daughter on the same day as
in the previous post;
it was a beautiful day and the colours were amazing.

Sixteenth Century Churches with an interesting history

This is a 16th century church, one of the 3 churches in Three Churches Street Balzan very close to where we live...I love walking through this area when I go out walking. The stone steps to the right are the base on which stands an old cemetary cross.
If you look closely to the right side of the door you will see a marble plaque...here is a close up...

A literal translation of this 18th century inscription in Italian would be 'does not enjoy ecclesiastical immunity'...it meant that this church did not have the right to shelter outlaws.

The three churches were the Annunciation of Our Lady, (the main parish church up to 1655), on its west side is St Roque, (built during a terrible plague in 1593) and on the other side St Leonard, patron saint of slaves. The latter cannot be recognised as an old church nowadays since it was converted to a house several years ago. It was originally built in 1575.

Here is a picture of the other church and a close-up of the ornate work in the corner of the doorway...notice the same marble inscription.
You can also see the shadow of the old cemetary cross.

I have to give credit to my daughter for taking these lovely pictures. It was a beautiful day in late spring of last year when these were taken as we walked together through this area and on to San Anton Gardens. On this same day she also took some beautiful photos in the gardens. I will post these in the next posting.
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