The first time I made cepelinai I failed miserably. And the second time. And probably the third time. After that, I called it quits and resolved only to eat cepelinai that had been prepared for me by someone who knew what they were talking about – either at a restaurant or by one of our Lithuanian friends. Read more
Winter has final arrived here in Lithuania. It feels like we’ve been waiting for months for the snow to fall. We had a sprinkling in December and another in early January, but only now are we getting the thick blanket of snow typical of a Lithuanian winter. The sky has been grey for weeks. Now that the snow has fallen, hopefully the grey will give way to the clear blue skies and sunshine that make the snow sparkle like a million tiny diamonds. In the meantime, the snowy ground and grey skies are creating a very serene landscape, highly conducive to curling up with a glass of wine and a good book. I can live with that, for now. Read more
I realise it’s been quite some time since I last gave you an update on our house renovation project. I had taken so many photos during the renovations process that the task of sorting through them seemed overwhelming and I kept putting it off. Now that the festive season has passed I am using the short, dark days and miserable weather as the perfect excuse to curl up with my laptop and get lots of writing done. Read more
This is my favourite tree. Is it insane to have a favourite tree? Possibly. I don’t really care. In fact, if I’m honest, I don’t believe in insanity, no more than I believe in normality. What’s normal in one part of the world might be considered insane in another. The fact is, they’re just different. If we’re going to apply labels I’d prefer to hold with the Mad Hatter and say “We’re all mad here”. Read more
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne?
I’ve sung that song countless times, standing in a circle holding hands with my arms crossed, and never once thought about the lyrics. They’re in Scots English, so they’re not immediately understood. I treated them like most nursery rhymes I know – I just rattled off the words without any thought of their meaning. Read more
“We’ll never all fit”, I said in a slightly panicked tone as I looked out into our conservatory. It’s not a small room, but with the oversize Christmas tree and several chunky pieces of furniture there wasn’t much space left for dancing. There were 11 of us here for Christmas dinner and I was struggling to figure out where we would all sit, never mind where we would put the dance floor. Read more
I think the week between Christmas and New Year is probably my favourite week of the year. The stress of Christmas is behind us, tummies are full, hearts are happy and the fridge is full of leftovers. The weather is just cold enough that I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book and a hot whiskey but not so cold that I can’t get out for a long walk with the dog to work off some of that stuffing. Read more
Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree,
You know not how you’ve aged me.
As a child I always loved putting up the Christmas Tree. We had one of those fake, glittery ones popular in the 70s and a beautiful collection of colourful, sparkly ornaments built up over a number of years. Mam would put up the lights, ensuring they were perfectly symmetrical with one light at the top to reflect off the star. My sister and I would then add the decorations. When it was finally complete we would enjoy our first slice of Christmas cake and perhaps our first movie of the season. Read more
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yet most of us are in a flap. There are presents to be bought, cakes to be baked and a sense of impending dread at the thought of having to cook a fabulous Christmas dinner. TV chefs are wooing us with mini tartlets and smoked salmon blini that can be prepared “in minutes” and add “a touch of sophistication” to your festive cooking. Every supermarket has their own glossy magazine full of cooking and decorating ideas and can provide mini tartlets and blini pre-prepared (but with a hefty price tag) that you only need to “pop in the oven”. The options are endless and dizzying. Somewhere along the way, the concept of a tasty home cooked meal shared with the people you love gets lost and is replaced by panic and over-complication. If this all sounds familiar, then maybe my 10 Tips for a Stress-free Christmas Dinner can help get you back on track. Read more
But certainly not forgotten. This photo was taken on our epic road trip round Europe last summer. We set out with a plan and a map, but got so sucked in by the beauty of Spain that we ended up spending most of our time there. We were enjoying the road so much we always left it quite late to find somewhere to park for the night. This had its advantages – no one really minds if you park in a forest or supermarket car park for just a few hours after dark. It also meant we saw numerous glorious sunsets, such as this one near the town of Jerez in southern Spain. I had spent a few happy hours earlier in the day sampling sherry at Tio Pepe (to ease the pain of the 22 mosquito bites I got the night before, you understand). This sky was so captivating we pulled over to take photos and ended up staying for the night. The memories from this trip will stay with us for a long time. Read more
Christmas is a time for tradition. What’s fascinating to me is how much those traditions vary from country to country and even from family to family. Some children post their letter to Santa up the chimney, some through the regular mail. Some leave out milk and cookies for Santa, but in our house it was a bottle of Guinness and a few mince pies. (Clever ole Dad!) Some traditions don’t believe in Santa at all. Read more
For those not accustomed to it, it’s hard to imagine Christmas in the sun. Growing up in Ireland, December was a dark and dreary month, made cheery only by the festive lights that decorated streets and homes, twinkling in the frosty air. Since my sister moved to Australia, however, we have spent a number of Christmases in the sun. Although it’s definitely a little strange, it’s hard to complain about good company, warm sunshine and wonderful food. Read more
To share or not to share – that is the question. What if I decide to run for President one day? What if my dad sees them? What if people raise their eyebrows and ask “Who does she think she is? And at her age?” Well, the chances of me running for President are slim, my dad has seen me naked and, as for any naysayers or begrudgers, I think I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I just don’t care what other people think of me – I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. Read more