Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Up for a walk? Wear comfy shoes, cause this is a doozy!

Hello everyone, it's been a while - again. I've missed you! I'm glad you're here - if you haven't completely abandoned me, already - since I'm not here as often as I used to be. But, more on that, later. Let's walk, shall we?

 We'll start from my house; that way,
 you'll know where it is, next time you come.


If you've visited me on Instagram, lately, you'll know 
that almond blossoms are everywhere, right now. 

Their sweet, honey-like scent fills 
the air with the promise of spring.

I never tire of this particular spot, near our home. I have taken its picture many times throughout my years of blogging, where bare grapevines take centre stage, while silver leaved trees beaded with olives and bobbles of oranges beaming from another, act as a chorus, harmoniously illustrating how a variety of very different produce thrives so well, in such close proximity to one another, on this island.

In contrast, white mustard, (yes, it's yellow!), has invaded winter vineyards, all on its own. The adorable flowers add cheery colour to the fruitless vines, and every time I walk by this one, I want to merrily run through it, like a little girl, without a care in the world. 

Heading out towards the next village, this beautiful branch
 of almond blossoms in the distance, beckoned me 
to bestow its allure from up close,

thus forcing me to take a new path, deeper into the 
Cretan countryside, one which I had never explored before.


Do you see where I'm going with all this? 

Fields of aloe vera, vineyards, fruit and olive groves form the width of the countryside surrounding our village, while the mountains in the background soar to magnificent heights.

There are many reasons, my friends, that have been keeping me from posting as often as I'd like, but  I won't bore you with what they are. Besides, we probably have a lot of them in common. Just like the rows upon rows of aloe vera in the pic above, most days, my long list of 'to dos' seems endless, so that the components of composing a blog post, i.e., writing a theme oriented (as I tend to do), piece of prose, photographing 'subjects', formatting its text and pics, editing, editing and editing,😓 somehow, gets pushed to the bottom of the priority pile, and thus, days turn into weeks and weeks morph into months!🗓😲 Anyway, it's not like there's a rule that dictates how often one should post, but if you're like me, and really need to reach your creativity quota every few days or so, you could have a problem.

Or not. Enter Instagram! It allows me to post random pics, (although I tend to do triplets with a bit of text), in a few minutes. I really appreciate the frequent interaction with my followers, too; even just popping by to say 'Hi!',😊 is always a sweet gesture! As I've pointed out in a previous blog post, Instagram will never replace my blog process, as I really enjoy being challenged by what a blog post involves, but it is more achievable, for me, for now, regarding time and effort.

Interestingly, this seems to be a timely topic, since recently, I've come across several bloggers who are dealing with similar questions as to why they, too, are not posting as often. Some have explained that they don't have anything to report, or no new pics to share, they are not feeling inspired, or are too bombarded by deadlines in the real world. All good and valid reasons, wouldn't you agree? 

Unfortunately, I've lost a few followers the last few months, which I assume is due to the inconsistency of my posts - driving readers away because I've become blasé is too scary a thought! On the contrary, there are blogs that still grace my sidebar which haven't been updated in years, but that doesn't mean that they never will, and when they do, I will dash over to read them and say 'hello' to their authors and tell them how much I missed them and how happy I am that they're back. But if they don't ever appear at the top of my list, as blogs do when a new post is published, I will continue to keep their thumbnails there, like I do old photos, to remind me of their creators and their wonderful worlds.

Well, this blogger's all talked out 
and you are, no doubt, all walked out, 
so I'll say goodbye for now.  
But before we part ways, 
tell me, are you, too, 
going through a phase
 of unintentional delays, causing
 you 'blogger mystery' malaise?

As always, 
thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018!

 Happy New Year, dear readers!

You may remember the Greek tradition of
baking a St. Basil's cake, to ring in the new year.

As always, our 2018 'vasilopita', or St. Basil's cake, scented the entire house with a sweet, lemon-y aroma, and added a serving of holiday cheer to the open shelving in the kitchen, which was fittingly and festively dressed in all its Christmas cuteness.

Thank goodness, just a few days earlier, Liberty and I had gone on a long walk uphill, through vineyards and olive groves, to the next village over, a kind of preventative measure against expected calorie damage,

since aside from the St. Basil's cake, there were other seasonal sweets that were enjoyed at Christmas teas and gatherings. Above, we enjoyed a Greek brew amid the spectacular views of the sky, sea and valley below - a lovely break before all the busyness that was in store!

And, although we didn't hike, but drove, up to a beautiful, mountainous village, inland, to celebrate 2018 with our annual  
New Year's day lunch, at one of our favourite restaurants,

we made sure to feast on healthy fare, amid some richer dishes. Doesn't this Cretan winter salad look divine? It was drizzled with an olive oil/honey/balsamic dressing, and featured farmer's cheese, dried figs, BBQ mushrooms and sweet peppers, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and a few honeyed sesame cubes... so refreshing and delicious!

 Hope you enjoy this short video of our exhilarating hike
 to that heavenly village in the sky. May 2018 be filled with 
happy horizons of clear, bright light, for you and yours!

Thanks for visiting!


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays, everyone! 

Hope you're still here! I haven't been able to post as 
regularly as I've wanted to this past year and as I scroll
back, for the most part, it was about once a month.

  Needless to say, it's been a busy year.
I finally got around to styling our credenza for this 
Christmas. If you'd like to see how it was decorated 
in previous years, have a look here and here


The mantel, with only one 'shelf', is always a little easier
 to accessorize. If you're curious as to how it looked in 
Christmases past, click here and here


But, the more, the merrier, no?

 Thanks for visiting, everyone.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 


Sharing at:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Fruity, Fall Mantel

I finally got around to decorating our mantel for autumn. I know... but better late than never, right? Besides, we still have about a month and a half before the first day of winter. This seasonal display is an eclectic accumulation of sorts. For starters, Liberty brought the traditional, red bellows back from Norway this summer, while the black, metal rooster was a sweet gift from a friend, who lives in England, a few years ago.

Looking to Mother Nature for inspiration, I browsed her 'wares' and came home with some pretty vine leaves from a neighbouring vineyard. They remind me of the fiery, fall maple leaves back home. After soaking in the sink to keep them hydrated, their spent scent filled the air and I was instantly transported to my childhood of rainy, autumn morning walks to school.

I also shopped the house and snatched fruit themed prints off the walls, candlesticks from the dining room, and cute, ceramic pitchers from the kitchen cupboard. The bunches of sage were collected from my husband's village and the marigolds, still holding up well, despite a few blustery days, were picked from our flowerpots on the patio, while the pomegranates, finally ripe enough to eat, and the walnuts, both came from our trees.

We enjoy afternoon tea in the living room, when the sun visits the space and sits a spell, covering us in a warm blanket of light, as we cozily sit by the mantel, chatting or reading or napping, to recharge, after the last chores of the day are completed, leaving only dinner to prepare.


Have you decorated your mantel this autumn?

Thanks for visiting, everyone.
Happy weekend!


Sharing at:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fig Jam, Infused with Cinnamon & Vanilla

A burst of bright pink bougainvillea is a stunning showstopper on this otherwise
low key street, in the village of Lefkes, on the island of Paros, Greece.

Hello everyone, Happy Fall!
It's been a while since my last post 
- it was an extra busy summer.
For those of you who are still here, 
thanks for sticking around; I appreciate it!

After a refreshing swim, a golden sunset saturates the sky and illuminates the sea at Agios Prokopios, on the island of Naxos. This was taken waiting at the bus stop for our ride back to Chora.

Soon after Liberty returned from Norway, we set out 
for the islands of Naxos and Paros, which were idyllic
in every way. If you follow me on Instagram, you've
already seen the charming beauty of these places.

But, today's post is about jam, fig jam, to be precise. If
you remember, in my last post, we had a wonderful
harvest of this fruit, and so I decided to try my hand
at cooking, sterilizing and canning the sweet stuff, as
a surprise welcome home gift for Libby, who loves it!

I admit, I was somewhat nervous about the sterilization
 and canning process - boiling the glass jars, then heating 
them in the oven - yikes! But now, after having experienced 
these two stages in practice, I'm more confident.


Rich and jewel toned, this recipe for fig jam, infused with vanilla essence and aromatic cinnamon, is a treat for the taste buds. Its orange sapphire glow is pure eye candy, while its sweet and spicy scent is irresistibly appetizing. This fig jam is so versatile; its unique flavour complements both sweet and savoury dishes. I especially like to spread it on two slices of sourdough bread that are then topped with a slice of low fat Gouda and shavings of smoked, honey glazed ham. 
Two minutes in the panini press and presto!
 - you have the perfect comfort food sandwich! 

Fig Jam

2 lbs figs, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
 1 tsp. vanilla essence
 1 cinnamon stick 


Peel the figs into a large saucepan, and add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, continuing to stir occasionally for about an hour, or until the liquid is thick and sticky and drops heavily from the ladle. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick.
Sterilization and Canning: 
NOTE: Start sterilizing jars and lids when your jam is about 20 minutes away
 from being ready, since the jam needs to be hot when placed in the hot jars. 

After you've checked that there are no chips or dents in your  jars and lids, wash them in hot, soapy water, rinsing well. Turn upside down on a clean tea towel that has been placed in a baking pan. Place jars and lids in a pan of very hot water. Gently boil them for 20 minutes. Do not boil on high, as they may bang into each other and break! 


Remove with tongs and place upside down on clean tea towel lining a baking pan. 

Place pan with jars, lids and tea towel in oven, set to 212ºF and heat for 15 minutes. Don't worry; the tea towel won't burn. Immediately after removing the jars and lids from the oven, fill with hot jam, leaving about 1/8 of an inch of space from the top. Be careful when pouring jam into jars. If any gets on the rims, this could cause bacteria, as well as not allowing the lids from sealing properly. Always fill hot jars with hot ingredients and cold jars with cold ingredients, since filling a hot jar with a cold ingredient may cause it to shatter. Close tightly, turn upside down and bring to room temperature. Turn right side up, and store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight for up to one year.  Once opened, keep in the fridge for up to one month.

 Next summer, when figs are in season once again
and readily available, please give this recipe a try.
It really is scrumptious!

Thanks for visiting!

Sharing at:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August Harvest

Well, it's been almost a month and a half since I last posted, and, in that time, there's been a host of hearty harvests that have graced 
our table, like the platter of sweet, precious figs, above, 

from our one and only fig tree, planted by my husband's father,
 who was a farmer, over sixty years ago, on the outskirts 
of the village in which he was born and grew up.


The 'fruits of his labour',
 we are still enjoying, today.

It was very hot, the day we picked the figs, and looking 
up towards the sun to pluck each one from its stem, was
stressful on the eyes, but worth the effort, in the end.


   What proved to be more of a challenge, for me, was the rough
 and rocky road back to the car, as I struggled to keep my balance, fearing a flip with every little slip, unlike my husband, whose footsteps seemed to fit perfectly between each pebbly crack and cranny!  

Earlier, we had stopped by the three loaded
walnut trees, to give them a good watering, in
 preparation for their collection, next month.

It's the obvious difference in the shape of their leaves 
that assists in the distinction of each, since from afar, 
these two golden green globes look almost identical!

Facing north, towards the sea, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and cucumbers

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our veggie 
garden is finally in full swing, after a late start.

Facing south, a variety of tomatoes

Due to our neighbour's towering Leyland Cypresses,
an entire side of our garden, unfortunately, does not
get enough sunlight for veggies or flowers to thrive,
so we planted in the field across the cement wall,

In the background, just before all the dry weeds begin, green onions, most of which 
will be yanked to dry in the sun, then roughly braided and used as cooking onions.

where our little chapel of St. Irene can be found,
 overlooking all the pretty produce in progress.

Clockwise, from top left: lemons, plums, pomegranates and tomatoes

 Our fruit trees are also flourishing! And, since 
tomatoes are technically considered fruit, I 
included them in the collage above. 

Our lemon tree did not disappoint; a second series of blossoms
 a little while ago, freshly scented the breeze and now the fruit
provides tangy, citrus accents in roasts, cakes and cookies.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our August harvest, this year. We are blessed to have such healthy, organic fare at our fingertips, although, I admit, my  husband deserves all the credit for digging, planting, watering, weeding and worrying about it! I merely whip up a dish with whatever bundle of beautiful, earthy goodness he gathers.

Simple, seasonal, local food (and you can't get any more 
local than your own garden), is, by far, the most exquisite.

What's growing in your garden?
 Thanks for visiting!

Sharing at: