Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Sense of Completion

A few days ago my friend asked me about my latest ‘projects’. She knows that I’ve always got lots on the go… it’s also not a secret that many don’t get finished – I have so many half knitted things hidden behind the sofa that buying some more yarn is always a sin! After telling her about the latest unfinished ‘creation’ I suddenly felt so guilty… I forgot my usual excuses and just got on with it!

Here’s the result, a jumper for my beloved niece.

I must admit it felt so good to have finally have it DONE, that hopefully it will inspire me for some more finishing stitches (my most famous excuse – I can’t nicely sew the knitted parts together). And then I also wondered – if the sense of completion is so satisfactory when you knit a jumper what did my father feel when he finished building our house?


The knitting pattern that I used for this jumper is really easy and it gives it a nice soft effect.

For reference please have a look at the diagram below.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


(Virtual Tour 2009 - Around Europe without Leaving Your House)
To choose a book written by a Swedish writer was really easy, I have my favourite contemporary Swedish author – Karin Alvtegen.

Several years ago I accidentally got a book called ‘Missing’. I thought it would be just another detective story that you read and later on forget, but it wasn’t. ‘Missing’ was a book that grabs you in the very beginning of the story and at the end of it you are really disappointed it’s over. I liked it so much I searched for the other books written by this author.

Karin Alvtegen’s books contain lots of feelings and emotions, usually not the one’s you’d gladly talk about. You would probably agree with me if you heard such book titles as ‘Guilt’, ‘Betrayal’ and ‘Shame’. By the way, the later is the one that kept me on the edge – some of the things described there are truly horrible, none the less I’m sure they exist: parents making their children suffer, lonely people in the busy 21st century World and accidents that can change our lives forever. It’s a book that might be read in one go, but I’m sure that in your mind you will keep coming back to it for a long time… Trained as a psychologist I keep making a list of books that should be read by my school fellows and ‘Shame’ is at the top of it!

Review (for the impatient)
Monica, is a successful, well regarded surgeon and physician who is ashamed of something in her past. She can't develop any meaningful relationships with anyone and pushes anyone who gets close, quickly away.
Maj-Britt, hiding from the world behind an endless supply of food requires help just to live, she is so obese. Locked in her apartment away from the world, Maj-Britt is deeply ashamed of something in her past.
Monica and Maj-Britt don't know each other, yet somehow, because of a conference, a car-accident and a care-worker, they briefly collide. The results of that collision, catastrophic for one in the short term, force both of them to confront the past and deal with their personal shame.
SHAME is not a novel for readers who like a murder right up there are the front of the book, with an investigation to resolve the crime. There really is no murder in SHAME, but there is death, sadness, despair, personal angst and profound tragedy and sorrow.

SHAME takes you carefully through the lives of Monica and Maj-Britt, revealing the events that lead to the shame that they each feel, and what has happened to each of them since. As those events are revealed, a connection between the two women slowly eventuates. The connection could save them, or it could destroy them both.
With elements of fear, oppressive religion, obsession, betrayal, sexuality, guilt, family dysfunction and emotional blackmail, SHAME is challenging and sometimes harrowing. It is also compelling, taut, intriguing and, ultimately, uplifting.

Karen Chisholm, Australia

For more information about Karin Alvtegen please visit her official website -
So I can cross out one country in my long list… Not too bad, but this one was easy, I wonder how I’m going to get on with the others…

(I guess one more reason why I started with Sweden is that I got acquainted with their literature in my childhood. Then as my favourite author I would have named Astrid Lindgren. Later in my life I got really interested in Selma Lagerliof’s creations. So if you decide to take the virtual tour and can’t get hold of any Karin Alvtegen’s books I would recommend you to find something by Selma Lagerliof – ‘The emperor of Portugallia’, ‘The story of Gösta Berling’ or ‘The ring of the Löwenskölds’.)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Saturday Entertainment – Baking a Cake!

I was craving for something sweet, but homemade and at the same time didn’t want to engage in too much work – I hate cooking when the recipe involves using hundreds of pans that have to be scraped afterwards… So the decision was made – it would have to be a cake that could be prepared very quickly. Do you know what cakes are prepared quickly? Usually the ones where one of the ingredients is jam!

I searched for inspiration in a book called “Cakes. 1001 Classical Recipes from Around the World” (if you ask me 1001 is far too many as I doubt that I will ever try all of them… as most of the time I get stuck with the recipes that I like and keep using them again and again…) and found what I was looking for.

Italian Shortcrust Cake with Jam


375g flour
1 tea spoon of baking powder
¼ tea spoon salt
70g melted butter
125g fine sugar
2 room temperature eggs
1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
250g jam

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Mix up flour, salt and baking powder. Use a food processor to whisk the butter and sugar well (use medium speed for stirring until the sugar melts and you get an even liquid). Then add an egg at a time whisking everything well again. After that start slowly adding your flour, salt and baking powder mix.

Place your dough on the bottom and sides of a baking tray (they recommend to use one with a 25cm diameter, but I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as you don’t decide to use a tray that would be too big for the amount of dough you have). Put jam on top of the dough and bake your cake for about 30-40 minutes, until it gets light brown. Let it cool after taking it out of the oven.

I added a finely sliced fresh apple and raspberry jam to mine, but the beauty of this cake is that you can use anything you want as your filling. So use your imagination. Off you go… and bake!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Around Europe Without Leaving Your House

Inspired by one famous blogger's ideas* I decided to add one more thing to my 2009 resolutions. Well, it will actually combine two resolutions - reading more and travelling more.

This year I'm going to take a virtual trip around Europe and it will be done reading at least one book written by a writer of each European country. I think that it will be exciting to find out more about these countries in such an unusual way.

You are welcome to participate either by advising me on what to read or joining in and travelling along. Just copy the list of countries given below and start researching. I hope you will enjoy it and share your expierence with me.

I'm not sure that I will even manage to find books from all of these countries that would be translated into Lithuanian or English (these are the languages that I read in), but I guess it's worth a try. I'm ashamed, but I have to admit that I don't remember reading anything that would be written by our closest neighbours -Latvians or Estonians, I haven't got a clue what they would write about... So I think that it's high time to enlarge my knowledge in literature and geography.

Anyway, I'm off to read...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Czech Republic
San Marino
United Kingdom
Vatican City

* The blog that inspired me can be found here: (In 2008 Hanna participated in her Daily Art Card project, for 2009 she has arranged a Daily Poetry challenge.)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Snow is Back

Finally we are having a decent winter: -18C, crisp snow under your feet and cheeks tingling with the cold! The last few winters were really disappointing; I felt that we were experiencing constant autumn with its unpleasant wind and rain… Of course back then I decided to take loads of photos of snow and frost that later on could even be assembled into a book and I bet that’s the thing that jinxed it – the temperature stayed above zero and whenever dark clouds were threatening us with their contents we only got rain drops…

So what was planned in 2005 continues in 2009!