Sincerely, Loree is a lifestyle blog that focuses on travel, books, culture, fashion and slow living on the small Mediterranean island of Malta.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A different kind of gift list

It's almost Christmas, the time of year when consumerism goes into overdrive as we all start making lists of gits to buy: for our spouse, our siblings, our children, our parents, our own personal wish list and so on. There's nothing wrong with wanting to show our appreciation by giving something special to our loved ones and our friends. It is an inherent part of our human nature to want to express our love and gratitude by giving. Even the three kings turned up at Bethlehem bearing gifts. But when most of us already have so much, gifts may become superfluous, an extravagance, even. Which brings me to the point I want to make. I am not trying to discourage you from buying gifts for loved ones but to spare a thought for people who may not be so lucky.

I think that one of the biggest tragedies of the past decade is that we have become more connected through the internet and social media but, ironically, our actual physical interastion with each other is decreasing. Everything can be done online: shopping, banking, working; and we are so engrossed with our little machines that sometimes we seem to be living in our own little bubble without a thought or care about the plight of so many others. So I am sharing a list of people we can help to cheer up during Christmas and beyond. This list is aimed at my Maltese readers but I am sure it's not difficult to find similar organisations to support in your own countries.

  1. For the past few years, the Foodbank Lifeline has been organising a Reverse Advent Calendar. The food bank provides food to families in need. It is a sad but ironic fact that, in spite of the increased economic prosperity of Malta, the number of people making use of the food bank is increasing every year. The Reverse Advent Calendar works on the premise that a non-perishable food item is placed in a box every day during the run-up to Christmas. The items are then donated to the food bank. Naturally, people need to eat year round not just at Christma, so this is a cause worthy of year-round support.
  2. Children's Dreams is a project whose main aim is to make the wishes of children from families facing social and financial difficulty or living in children's homes come true by donating a gift that the child would have wished for. This initiative is one of the most popular and usually 100% of the dreams are fulfilled.
  3. Nahseb Fik (which means 'I think of you') was set up to help fulfill the wishes of elderly people who are lonely and face various social difficulties. 
  4. My final recommendation is a very different type of gift, but no less important: a gift to our planet. I am sure you are all well aware of the amount of plastic that goes into landfills and ends up in our oceans on a daily basis. The numbers are staggering and, unfortunately, recycling isn't the solution since not all types of plastic can be recycled. Therefore I want to urge you to reduce the use of single use plastic as much as possible: refuse that straw (able bodied people really don't need straws to drink), get rid of cling-film and use wax paper instead, use soap bars instead of shower gels ... there are many little things we each can do as individuals that may not seem like much. But when millions of us make a conscious decision to try and avoid single use plastic, it will eventually make a big difference. And future generations will thank us for starting to reverse an ecological disaster that is just waiting to happen.

 I am sure there are other organisations and initiatives that we can support in our respective neck of the woods. I purposefully kept the list short so it wouldn't be overwhelming to anyone reading it. A quick search on social media or the internet will surely lead us to equally deserving organisations that help the less fortunate and others that are striving to clean up our world. 
My intention was not to preach to anyone but to try to get us all to look beyond our little bubble and at the world around us. We don't even need to look far. Sometimes it's people living under our very noses, like neighbours or co-workers who may be going through a difficult patch. So let's keep our eyes open and help in the best way we can to extend the Christmas cheer outside out immediate families.

How are your Christmas preparations going my friends? I've finished the cleaning and decorating ,am much behind on gift-buying and have done zero baking. It's not really where I want to be just 15 days before the big day but there it is. Hopefully, a visit to the Natalis Notabilis Christmas market in our neighbouring town of Rabat this weekend will provide me with ample opportunities to buy some special gifts. I'll try to do one more post before Christmas. Finger crossed.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

November round-up and faves

Here we are again, at the end of another month and with  Christmas looming on the horizon. How has your November been? Mine has been rather  ... I'm not sure how to describe it ... so perhaps you'd better read on.

Life lately
Political crisis
I spent most of November in a self-imposed form of hibernation: not writing, not really doing much, just curled up on the sofa and voraciously devouring books while trying to keep abreast of the political turmoil that our island has found itself in due to the corrupt few. Or the corrupt many. It's not quite clear yet how many people are involved and the story is too long and convoluted for me to go into here. But it all started around 3 years ago following revelations made by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. It now appears that people at the highest level of our government were involved in her assassination - as many of us had suspected all along. If anybody is interested in the whole sordid affair, you may read the initial revelations that Daphne had made on her blog Running Commentary here and more recent updates on Manuel Delia's blog Truth be Told  or on the portals of independent newspapers here and here. I had written briefly about the subject right after Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination in an open letter here. A book about the assassination Murder on the Malta Express: Who Killed Daphne Caruana Galizia was published on the second anniversary of her death. It was co-authored by Carlo Bonini, Manuel Delia and John Sweeney and was my book of choice for  #NonfictionNovember.
As you all know, I usually try to stay clear of politics and other controversial subjects but, with everything that is going on around me, I couldn't go on without saying anything. So I am really glad that I got that off my chest.
Now on to more pleasant topics.

Ulm, Germany / Sincerely Loree

Monday, 11 November 2019

Book talk: Books I read this summer (2019)

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I only read three books this past summer. That's one book a month, which is an abysmal statistic. But that's the way I roll in summer - lethargy in all aspects of my life. With just three books on the list, this won't be a very long read.

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick

The book blurb:
Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations...

In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins - the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the efforts of one reckless act still echo - but how long will it be until their past returns?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

October round-up and faves

Drum roll, please, as October exits the building. Can you believe that we are close to, not just the end of another month, but of another year. I certainly can't and I spend quite a bit of time wondering where all the days went. I lived them, of course, but it doesn't always feel like I did. Perhaps, by now, I should stop being surprised at the fleeting nature of time - but it gets me, every time.

Life lately:

Date night in Valletta
It's not often that my husband and I go out on dates. I am not sure why but probably because I feel guilty leaving our son at home and he's generally good company (even if he is a teenager) so, more often than not. he tags along. But he had a party earlier this month , so we were free to do out thing (sans the guilt). Since both my husband and I love to take photos, we spent a good couple of hours wandering around Valletta and doing just that. Every time I visit our capital city I am surprised by all the changes that have taken place in a short period of time. It's not all good. But it is what it is. When photographing Valletta, I like to find quiet little corners where I can take the time to look up and around without having to contend with crowds.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Waiting for autumn

We're officially one month into the season already but autumn continues to elude us. We've had rain, yes. And a few thunderstorms and days with big grey clouds sailing majestically across the sky. But the temperatures have remained warm - in the mid- to high twenties - and our plants have come alive with flowers, blooming under the double caress of a gentler sun and higher levels of humidity. It should be a blessing. It is a blessing. But I cannot help feeling jealous when I scroll through my Instagram feed and see people wearing cosy sweaters and talking about cashmere and spicy pumpkin lattes in the same breath - not that I drink lattes since I am of the opinion that milk does nothing to enhance the taste of coffee and I only ever drink mine black, without sugar - but people are still walking around in summer clothes and eating ice-creams here. And I am desperately waiting for the weather to break.
Bahar ic-Caghaq ∣ Sincerely Loree ∣ Lifestyle Blog

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