Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Thoughts for 2011

It feels as if only yesterday I was getting ready for Christmas and I can’t believe that now it’s time to get ready to say “farewell” to 2010... Time flies, it really does. That’s why it’s a bit scary to look forward to a new coming year. I need to squeeze in as much as I can: places to visit, new activities to try out, books to read, plants to grow, things to build and to make, to learn and to practise… This can be a bit overwhelming.

Looking back helps – counting every detail I get a better picture of where I got to and how much more still needs to be done (loads!). My New Year’s resolutions will be laid on paper and hopefully by the end of 2011 I might be able to mark some as “achieved”. (I need some structure as at the moment there's too much I want to be doing - I must be good at something, but I haven't yet figured out what it is...)

Meanwhile I’d love to thank all bloggers and my blog readers, my friends and family for sticking by one more year. You’ve inspired and encouraged, made me want to improve and simply be a better me. Thank You for your comments (especially Anne; hey, the second year in a row!) and silent thoughts of approval. All the best for the year ahead! I hope I can make You feel just like I feel, when I draw strength from Your well of love.

Kristina xxx

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Just Before Christmas...

Just before Christmas I wanted to share some photos of a beautiful church that is definitely “one of the greatest secrets of London“. I’ve been to this city for quite a few times now, but only on the last trip I’ve discovered Westminster Cathedral and how much effort people can put into building God’s houses.

Some facts that I didn’t know: "Westminster Cathedral in London is the mother church of the Catholic community in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Church and Cathedral of the Archbishop of Westminster. It is dedicated to the "Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ" (the Eucharist)."

It is the largest Catholic church in England and Wales and, to tell the truth, I've never seen anything like that before. The architecture could be called atypical as looking at the tower I'd suspect it's actually a mosque. And the interior is stunning - the colourful mosaics make you think you've actually gone back in time and ended up somewhere in the Byzantine Empire.

God inspires us to do great things, something you might not even think is possible. I hope you can keep it in your mind not just before Christmas and not only through the new coming year.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The White Silence

How many photos of snow can you take before you get bored? Me? Thousands!

There’s something so special about snow covered trees, fields and little houses. The scenery is so calm and peaceful, a perfect set for proper white Christmas. And while watching TV you can be disturbed by the white noise, such “white silence” (a new term, no doubt) makes you wonder - where’s all the life gone? The sneaky foxes and the fast running hares, the vivid little birds and the hard working woodpeckers? They surely have to be hiding somewhere underneath this thick blanket?

P.S. On the way home I saw two deer in snow up to their bellies, grazing on the bushes that could still just about be seen above the piles of white.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Colours (London)

Shop keepers definitely know how to get their shops ready for Christmas. Every detail counts and the neatly arranged stock simply lures the passers by to go inside. I’m afraid the spell hasn’t worked on me – I was impressed, no doubt about that, but these days I’m glad to just seal all this up into an image and later on, when I’ve got time, to admire the creativeness and imagination that can make Christmas feel special again, just like it once was – in our childhood.

You could say that too much colours and glitter makes us forget what Christmas is all about. Well, if you’re only interested in stuffing your belly and getting some presents it certainly isn’t the right way, but if your festive ornaments are just the means to make this holiday the most special in the year, why not?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Let it Snow?

I know I keep bragging about the snow, but the situation is – you need to see it to believe it!

The temperature keeps dropping to about -12C, but even then you could say it’s not too cold; unless it’s windy. The wind causes snow drifts that block the roads and pavements even more and if there’s blizzard outside… trust me it’s better to stay indoors.

As the song goes - "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…" And what do we say to that? Oh, no! Not again.

The woods, on a day like today, when the sky is covered by a huge cloud that’s about to burst with more snowflakes, look more like something from a ghost story than a winter wonderland. It was so dark at 1pm that I needed to check my watch, I was convinced it was much later.

I’ve never done so much digging in my life and I don’t think my dad has ever been scared the swimming pool roof could collapse under the enormous weight.

To finish this post on a good note – not everyone’s disappointed. The bigger the pile of snow, the better! Jumping like a kangaroo our husky can’t hide the excitement. She’s asking to go out every 15 minutes and in the end it gets very annoying, but this is definitely her time of the year, so why spoil the fun?

Monday, 13 December 2010

London Christmas Frenzy

Where have I been!? Everyone’s already counting days to Christmas and I’m still not in my panic mode – although to tell the truth it’s time I was… The snow’s falling on our land continuously; the neighbours have got their festive lights out, so how come I’m still sure I’ve got time to get everything ready?

I wish I had prepared earlier… Although it’s not time to wince now, is it? Anyway, it’s the 100th post on this blog (something to boost my self-esteem), so I promise there will be some changes – the photos are going to get a bigger, there’ll be more colour and hopefully more posts. I’d also like to take this whole blogging thing one step further, but for now I’ll keep it a secret, just in case God decides to laugh at my plans.

Meanwhile I’d like to share my London photos – oh, boy, it really felt Christmassy there!

The trip went really well – we avoided the snow, didn’t get stuck at the airports or train stations, missed the student riots by a day and even the tube workers’ strike was an advantage – we had to walk and of course this way saw a lot more! (My legs were aching, but I was so happy – I could snap snap snap…)

Westminster Central Hall, just opposite the Westmister Abbey, where next year on the 29th of April history will be made.

Old Ben and the fence round the Parlament, ornated with the royal symbol - little crowns.

The London Eye! A rather young construction, but can you imagine London without it?

Trust me, it's massive! You quickly realise that when you get right under it.

That's the real Christmas spirit! I never dreamt I'd still go on one of these in my lifetime. In London everything's possible!

London traffic - will they ever decide to drive on the "right" side of the road?

More colours, cars and people. The shops were full, the streets were full... I'm afraid after sometime it becomes tiring.

Impressive Christmas stars.

Just one of the many theaters - Victoria Theatre. (I hoped to see a musical this trip, but it looks like it's the thing I will have to come back for.)
The photos were taken without a tripod, so are a bit “shaky”; also it was very cold (excuses, excuses…) so I’m happy with the outcome quality and quantity wise.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Lithuanian Village

I bet if I asked you to think of something exclusive the last thing that would come to your mind would be “village”. Can such word be used to describe a village? I think it can, especially if we talk about a REAL Lithuanian village.

When chicken and cows are kept in big farms and our vegetables are grown only in the huge fields, that go way beyond the horizon, it’s getting impossible to find a little family that would keep their own animals and grow their own crops on a small patch of land. Impossible to find people who would be proud of their hard work, who could lead a good life in a village and get enough income from their produce and wouldn’t need to drown their sorrows in alcohol. And so, something that used to be pretty standard is getting exclusive, rare.

This weekend I went to see some friends of ours, who have kept their roots on an old estate. I took some photos as I want to “freeze” in time a real Lithuanian village that sadly is dying off: giving in to the globalization, cracking at the threshold of the economic crisis, witnessing so many broken lives.

(Surnames on the old post box - only one of the four is still alive. Parents die and their children run away, flood the big cities looking for a better life.)

Everything’s run by a 75 year old lady. She gets some help by one of her daughters, who comes to visit every weekend and other relatives, who give a hand mainly in the summer.

We sat at a table covered in a white table cloth, had massive portions of potato pie, cooked on a real fire stove, and felt very welcome, probably just like the local priest, who comes for a special meal several times a year. The yard might not look very tidy, but everything’s done with care and love. That’s what Lithuanian village used to be like, that’s how we should strive to keep it.

I’m not afraid of hard work and keep dreaming that one day I will join some small community, where we can share our goods: swap eggs for fresh milk, give advice on growing carrots and beet root and always be there for each other in case something bad happens. I still believe it’s possible! To prove it I would gladly get rid of my city life and stay closer to nature and warmer people, who saying “Good Morning” actually mean it.

Hope you enjoy the photos and realise that sometimes even the dirty and smelly, old fashioned and ordinary can at the same time be very beautiful and dare.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Magnolia Project

I always thought that November is a month to slow down. It starts with the All Saints’ Day when we remember our dead relatives and friends by lighting candles on their graves and later on, after changing the clocks, the days just seem to get really short. The weather more and more often plays some nasty tricks - even if the Sun's shining in the morning, it doesn't mean that you won't get soaked in the afternoon (but as everything's done in the garden, there's no need to stay outdoors). So when it gets dark (every evening at about 5pm) or when it's raining (looks like every day) it seems like a good time to go into hibernation.

Well, I'd gladly shut myself at home and try to figure out what to start with, but there's work and other responsibilities... I moan a bit and carry on and it doesn't look like it's the right time to slow down. I can see myself being very busy till Christmas, which is good in a way - the more you do, the more gets done.

I'm carving pumpkins for the first time in my life for our also first ever Bonfire Night, knitting my own dog (how could I resist after seeing these cute things:, planning my trip to London and playing with the latest obsessive idea - my Magnolia Project.

I love these trees. We've got a few in our garden, but I'd love to have even more. Greedy? You wouldn't think so after seeing their blooms in spring! At the moment they aren't a pretty sight - leafless sprigs, but I have found lots of orange seeds. After some research on the net I'm trying to follow the instructions:

Gather seeds from magnolia pods just before the pods open. Seeds will be covered with a reddish orange coating. Soak in tepid water for 24 hours to remove the coating. Remove from water and squeeze the pulp in your hands to force the glossy black seeds out of the pulp. Wash in warm water to remove any flesh or residue from the coating.

Plant your seeds to a depth of 1/2 inch in a tray of potting mixture of two parts peat moss, one part all-purpose potting soil and one part sand. Water thoroughly and cover the container with plastic wrap to maintain moisture.

This part is done. This is what remains:

Set in a warm location to germinate. Monitor closely. Keeping the soil evenly moist, but avoiding soggy soil. Open the plastic daily to provide air circulation and to stabilize moisture. Seedlings emerge in 4 to 6 weeks.

I hope they will emerge. As I would love to finish my project off with:

Removing the plastic wrap and placing seedlings in a sunny window. Planting in individual pots once seedlings have developed the second set of leaves. And planting outside in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.

P.S. Photos of Magnolias for this post will appear as soon as (or better IF) the first seedlings appear.

P.P.S. I loved our first ever Bonfire Night. We've even got the neighbours wondering what all of this was about.