Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Holiday Photos Part 3 - CULTURE

While being abroad I love to have a glimpse at the country’s history and culture. This can easily be arranged by visiting museums or old castles, manor houses. I prefer the latter as museums can sometimes be boring, but castles never cease to amaze me – vast spaces, colourful rooms, smallest details, huge fires and kitchens, where servants prepared feasts for the rich...

I’m really glad that this time we managed to visit Schleswig and Glucksburg, right on the Danish border.

Scloss Gottorf - has been turned into a huge museum; it has several halls that can make you say you've never seen anything like that before.

A wine inn that used to be in Lubeck. The whole room has been brought to Gottorf! If it stayed where it originally was, we wouldn't have seen it - the inn was destroyed during the war.

The Hunters Hall. It's a shame that nowadays the cellings are mostly only white...

The cobbled yard. I'm sure it looks nicer on a sunny day...

Glucksburg - a little town right next to the Baltic Sea and the beautiful Castle that was featured in a German TV series my grandma used to watch last year!

Huge yard and nice paths. The gardens must be taken care of by several gardeners.

The entrance - believe it or not, but you can take cars down there.

Coming up to the castle. (We were unlucky as we got there to late and couldn't go round the inside, but I was lucky as there was no one around and I could take uninterrupted photos.)

If I had such a post box, I'd expect to get letters every day!

I guess it’s time to forget the holidays. The kids are back at school, the trees are changing their colour and the autumn is here, so it’s time to think of something else to look forward to... Well, in the coming cold and darkness it has to be Christmas, although I’m sure there’ll many more nice things in between.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Holiday Photos Part 2 - GERMAN STYLE

Location: Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

German Style – that‘s red bricks, neat gardens, clean streets and colourful surroundings. Everything’s so tidy! Especially in the small villages (Dorfs), where every house is covered in flowers and you never see people working on this (I even developed a theory that such gardens are tended to late in the evening, just after the sunset).

And the big cities? Well, they are just like anywhere else in the world – full of people, who seem to always be in a hurry; places that make your head spin - with too many inviting shops and a hidden sense that even a cup of tea in a local café can leave your purse “a bit” lighter…

Every detail counts, when you want to create something that catches the eye.

Cute red brick house and all the flower pots, that make it so special.

Monkey Puzzle Tree - I'm told. Would like to own one, but I'm not sure if it would surrvive Lithuanian winters.

Red bricks again. But how do you lay them like that!?

Hamburg on a cloudy day.

Overlooking the railroad tracks - all these paths that can take you further into the country.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Holiday Photos Part 1 - COAST

Location: Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

We’ve been to the same spot for about 3 or 4 times, but it still interests me. Maybe it’s because they have tides, that make the sea water somehow disappear from under your feet, maybe it’s because the beach has no sand, just grass with lots of sheep on it… Well, everything’s so different to where I come from, although we live just round the corner, so to speak. (22 hours on a ferry, that travels at about 40km per hour and you’re in another world.)

This year I didn’t take many photos, but they can still be divided into a few sections. I’m starting with COAST, inspired by an English TV series that grabbed my attention this summer.

(COAST - BBC documentary that covers various subjects relating to both the natural and social history of the British and Northern Irish coastline and also more recently that of the Republic of Ireland, Norway, Faeroe Islands and France)

How not to get tangled in the Kieler Bucht?

Not sure what that is, probably a sponge of some sort that we don't get in the Baltic.

And this was a spectacular sunset on a nice August evening.

I haven't got a clue what that sign says, but I think the sea gulls weren't worried at all.

Sheep on the beach and lots of wind turbines in the background; that's how I remember the German coast.

That's so cozy and romantic, just shame about the water - what if someone decides to go for a swim?

The same sunset and a nice company that reminds me of my childhood - the four of them seem to be plotting something and of course having fun.

More sheep on the beach!

Where the sea once was... Looking for shells? Or sea water?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

New Lens. Garden Wildlife: Hide!

It was very unexpected, but I’m finally a proud owner of a lens that lets me have a closer look into insects’ life. The world below us can be fascinating indeed – all these:

perfect petals to make a perfect flower

spiky edges of a shrub leaf

soft butterfly wings

long long spider legs…

I would have experimented even more if it wouldn’t be so hot: +34C isn’t something we are used to! The air smells of apples, that are nearly ripe, but it’s unbearable to sit outside to soak it in. I’m glad the evening brings some cooler breeze, but if such heat continues, I’m scared I’ll be glad to see the first signs of autumn too...

P.S. This year I’ve decided to make some calendars using my photos, which seem to be quite popular (I mean calendars, not my photos). I plan to be very organized and get them printed as Christmas gifts for my relatives. As far as I know lulu.com offers such service, but maybe there are other sites that could provide better deals? Any information would be appreciated.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Very Berry

Did you know that cupcakes can be very addictive!? I certainly do, as I can’t go on long without baking some (suspicious disorder…). I love their shape, their smell in my kitchen and of course their taste!

As this summer is coming to an end (I can’t believe this!) and the garden is full of delicious things, it would be a shame to waste a single berry. To tell the truth I got fed up with trying to fit them all into jars, so some went straight into the batter...

Black Currant Cupcakes

(It’s an altered recipe; the original one was for blueberry cupcakes, so if you prefer some other berries, use them instead.)

Ingredients for 12 standard size cupcakes:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups fresh black currants, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, (from 1 lemon)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk


Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan). Line a standard (12-cup) cupcake tin with paper cups. With an electric mixer, cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; beat until combined.

Liquefy black currants (I’m using cocktail blender) and get rid of the skins/pips by running them through a sieve. Add to butter mixture, along with lemon zest; beat to incorporate (mixture will appear separated).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture in alternating batches, beginning and ending with the flour.
Spoon or scoop batter into cups, and sprinkle tops with remaining tablespoon sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool 10 minutes more before serving.

I love their colour! They are so unusual - came out a bit sour, so they'd be ideal for those who enjoy sweet and sour flavoured dishes.