Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

As the year has come to an end I decided to remember some of the new things I learnt in 2009 while browsing other blogs and writing my own – things I liked a lot and made a big impression on me. So let’s announce the awards!

Painter of the year – Alfred Wallis:

Alfred Wallis (18 August 1855 – 29 August 1942) was a Cornish fisherman and artist, who started painting when he was over seventy, as he said "for company" because his wife had died and he did not care for the rest of the company in St. Ives, where he lived for the last fifty years of his life. The paintings might seem childlike, but I love the colours and perspective. Well, look where they ended up – even the Tate gallery! So, next year, when you decide that you’re too old to start doing something, please remember Alfred.

Writer of the year – Jodi Picoult:

Jodi Lynn Picoult (born May 19, 1966) is an American author, who has an amazing ability to talk about the things that we usually avoid to talk about – feelings. If you haven’t read any of her books (pretty unlikely) – try them, I can guarantee it will be hard to put them down. And in the coming year start to express your feelings, life should become easier.

Singer of the year
– Duffy:

Aimée Ann Duffy (born 23 June 1984), better known by her stage name Duffy, is a Welsh singer-songwriter. This is the woman, who was asked to leave her school choir because her voice was "too big" and she "didn't fit in”! She’s good and hmm… different. Well, even if you don’t like her songs, next year don’t believe in everything people say – simply know that you can do it!

Happy 2010!

May it bring you lots of nice expierences xxx

And the last award goes to Anne, my blog reader of the year ;) -

Thank you for your kind comments and would like to wish you all the best for the year ahead!

Monday, 28 December 2009

German Honey Spice Cookies

This is the last recipe this year. I found it in a book called “Easy Christmas. Classic recipes for the Perfect Christmas”.

I must admit I haven’t tried any of the other recipes listed in that book, but these cookies are really EASY to make!


150g plain flour
1 table spoon ground cinnamon
¼ table spoon ground ginger
¼ table spoon ground mixed spice
85g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
3 table spoons clear honey (mine wasn’t clear though)
Something for decorating (use your imagination)

All you need to do is mix all of the ingredients together and form soft dough. After you’ve done it chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out shapes using biscuit cutters and put them on a baking tray (spread them apart a bit). Bake in a preheated oven at 180C (350F) for about ten minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Decorate.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wishing You All...

Merry Christmas!

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! ~Author Unknown

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lithuanian Winter

I love proper winter – when the temperature drops far below zero and the lakes freeze, when the snow crunches under the soles of your shoes and the frost makes your cheeks red, when everything turns white and your warm house seems like a bliss…

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Straw Decorations

Christmas must be the nicest holiday of the year as it‘s the time when everything seems so mysterious and special. We remember the old traditions and try to do things as they‘ve been done many years ago by our ancestors. We follow certain rituals and know that they have great meaning – for e.g. here in Lithuania on Christmas Eve on a white table cloth we put twelve dishes (as there were 12 disciples) and under the table cloth we put some straw (as Jesus was born in a stable). Although this holiday has been changed a lot by keen businessmen it’s nice to know that we haven’t forgotten what it’s all about.

I’d use every opportunity to learn something new about old ways and traditions, so last Wednesday I attended a lesson for everyone who wanted to try and make straw Christmas tree decorations, which have been very popular before the glittery bauble times.

It wasn’t very difficult and I enjoyed it a lot, but there’s a problem – these days it’s a big dilemma where to get straw. It has to be gathered in the summer: end of July, beginning of August; and if you don’t know any farmers… hmm… you’d need to pick some from someone’s fields. But if the idea of “scrumpping” doesn’t appeal I suppose you could use reeds instead.

Symmetry is very important, so all of the straws you will use have to be the same length, width and preferably colour (colour differs depending on the type of the straw (rye or wheat) and the are ways how to make it brighter – you have to boil your straw in water with baking soda).

You have to use a needle that would be longer than your straws, so that you could take it out at the other end. And the thread has to be similar colour to your straw, so that it wouldn’t be noticeable. (We as beginners got a bright orange one, so that it would be easier to untangle it if need be.)

The outcome: a rather complex symmetrical shape that, after decorating it with dried flowers, doesn’t look too bad.

On the other hand you’ve probably never seen traditional Lithuanian carcass shapes that are called "gardens". They are very complex and ornate, decorated with straw birds, garlands, dried flowers and berries. These are given as presents for newlyweds as a symbol of rich life (sorry I haven't got any photos, but if you are interested here's an example:

It is said that these “gardens” contain the idea of creating a perfect world, where “grapes are falling down”, in the middle “there flows a river” and in the trees “the birds are talking” (words from national songs). That’s why these straw “gardens" used to be a nice present – not only for decorating your home, but also for bringing you happiness.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

We've Got Snow!

The driving conditions aren't that good (not a good thing for an unexpierenced driver like me), but I still hope that this snow will last till Christmas... Everything's so pretty - completely covered in white!

Not sure if I'm the only one excited in the family (I went out twice to clear the yard!) , but I have the dog on my side - can't ask for better weather conditions for a husky.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Orange Biscuits

With Christmas getting closer and closer I decided to devote my weekends for baking homemade biscuits. I’ve got a German book (Weihnachtsplatzchen alle Jahre wieder) with lots of nice recipes, so I hope to try and taste at least a few.

Yesterday I chose the ones that are easy to make.


250g flour
1 spoon of cacao
1 tea spoon of baking powder
60g sugar
1 egg
1 orange
125g soft butter
30g finely chopped or grated almonds
200g castor sugar (for decoration)

Make dough from flour, cacao, baking powder, egg, sugar, butter, orange zest and almonds (I’m sure you can use some other nuts and orange can be replaced with lemon). Once it’s done wrap it into tin foil and put it into your fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat oven to about 180C. Using a rolling pin roll your dough till it’s about 1/2cm thick. Cut out your biscuits and place them on a baking tray, on some baking paper. Bake your biscuits for about 8-10 minutes. Let them cool.

For decoration use 3 spoons of orange juice mixed with caster sugar. Apply this mix on your biscuits. (I used some strawberry jelly and dried grapefruit – they might not look very professional, but are very tasty!)

Next Sunday I’ll try to go for something more adventurous…

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christmas Tree Garland

I can finally say that it‘s time to get ready for Christmas. (Well, the shops over here have been doing it for ages – they‘ve started just after the 1st of November, but I refuse to believe that this is right – I don‘t want to spend half a year waiting for this holiday!) The 1st of December is the perfect date – it still leaves about 20 days for the hardest bit – finding presents… Meanwhile I have started on my decorations.

This year I had several ideas how to decorate my parents’ Antique shop. I’d love to capture the look at feel of vintage Christmas. I’m sure my mum would love it too, but she gets carried away and we end up with lots of stuff that I wouldn’t use. We already have a white Christmas tree, lots of candles and two white deer, which look quite nice, but I’m afraid that more decorations are coming and I won’t be able to stop them piling up on the tree, beneath the tree or somewhere near the tree…

What I had in mind was some handmade decorations that people would have used in the old times, when they didn’t have fancy baubles, or some old toys that would remind people of their childhood. Well, I’ve started with a handmade garland that I’m making using dried watermelon seeds and little beads.

I must admit I had this idea a month or so ago (the Christmassy stuff in shops must have stimulated my brain back then), so I have prepared – I’ve collected lots of watermelon seeds, that have dried nicely and it’s really hard to stick a needle through them now!

If you want to try this out all you need is seeds (any chunky ones should do, just make sue they are soft and not dried, this should help you to avoid little holes in your fingers), little beads, a needle and some thread. Also some paint, that you could make your garland look gold.

I promise I will post some more photos so that you could see what the garland looks like on the tree. Meanwhile I’ll continue trying to stick my needle through the dried seeds… as it’s not going as fast as I would hope it to be…