31 December 2013

Merry Vianoce : )

My Christmas (or Vianoce in Slovak and Vánoce in Czech) started way way back at the beginning of December, when I started thinking about Christmas baking, decorating my room and so on.

It was the first year that I really tried to bake my own traditional Christmas biscuits. Thanks to my Czech Grandmother’s recipes, I more or less succeeded. I especially enjoyed cutting out various shapes and all the decorating - sticking biscuits together by cranberry jam, covering them with melted chocolate and positioning a nut on the chocolate so that they look pretty. The special Christmas cookie box was filling up nicely.

Of course, many of the sweets have fallen to my naughty Christmas tummy and I needn’t say that there was a lot of cups of tea involved in the whole process of baking, decorating and tasting :) And of course, once I came from my Christmas shopping with a completely new set of a cup and a bowl for myself. Let’s face it, we ladies all do this! We go out to buy things for others, but there are so many nice things that we would like too! So I figured one cup and bowl are not going to hurt anyone ;-)

I ate and slept a lot (my favourite combination) and did some crafting, but times were extremely stressful at work – I must admit I have falled a bit behind with the teaching, thanks to rehearsing for the Christmas school play. My class, who normally never shuts up (and that’s not being harsh, they simply cannot spend ten minutes without exchanging information verbally) was quiet like owls and so cutely nervous… I just loved them so much at that moment. Their performance lasted something over three minutes and they were wonderful. I was incredibly happy and proud. This all just reminds me that teaching is a happy job - and so rewarding!

After this, just a few days before going to my parents’ in Slovakia, I handcrafted a few felt decorations that I was giving as a present to my Mum. This year’s presents from me were very simple and humble (my lawyer brother got her a new laptop – I felt quite bad then, because my decorations hardly cost anything but time, but Mum keeps saying that these are two totally incomparable types of presents, so I am coming to terms with the fact that I am poor, but crafty!).

Right after school finished on Friday, I ran (literally) to the train station to get to Slovakia. I was on a very tight schedule (my own fault) and just hopped into any carriage just to make sure the train doesn’t go away without me. This consequenced into me having to drag my huge suitcase through the three carriages of sleeping compartments and getting told off by a train guard, who made me and a bunch of Slovak students and some Czech guys stand in the corridor in front of the toilets for forty minutes, then get off at the next station and go find our places from the outside of the train. However, the Slovaks immediatelly pulled out bottles of Coke and rum and some toast bread, cheese and ham. For those forty minutes, my suitcase turned into a temporary buffet table and I got a little dinner for free. On the way back, I travelled in the cozy comfy sleeping compartments, which wasn’t nearly as much fun. I don’t know the names of the guys with food, but I would like to thank them for their hospitality and all the fun we had. x After nine and half hours of sitting down, I arrived at my parents’ slightly overdecorated, but lovely home.

It was a lovely few days, during which I was finishing a Tunisian (or Afghan) crochet baby blanket. In three months there will be a new baby in my man’s family and I love the thought of a tiny little human being tucked in it and pulling it with its little fingers : ) And - surprise, surprise!!!  - there was a cup of tea involved as well!

The blanket was finished before Christmas and I found a lovely snowflake ribbon to tie it into a bundle with. Can’t wait for the baby, I’m so excited!

We visited both of our Grandparents and my Czech Grandma made a lunch meal of goose, potato dumplings and cabbage for us. Then I did some very late cardwriting for my lady penfriends – this year I managed my time terribly, so I didn’t make any handmade ones like I usually do, but sent some other ones instead. I still included a little handmade thing to go with the cards. And of course, I had tea. I love tea, you probably already know that.

On the 23rd December, I revived my skiing passion (to the great surprise of everyone in the family) and headed out to the slope with my Dad, in an outfit combined of my brother’s and my mother’s equipment and clothes. It was a great hour of night-time skiing and I didn’t even fall once.

On the 24th we had a typical Slovak Christmas dinner, consisting of sauerkraut soup with mushrooms and sausage in it and a second course of a fish (traditionally carp, but we had trout this year) with some sort of potatoes or potato salad.

I had a magical Christmas time with my family and I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as well. I got some very useful presents, but I feel like the comfort of being at home, watching Christmas stories on TV and having all that good food and fun with my family was worth much more than the presents.

27 December 2013

Winter Wishes

The Best Graduation "Bouquet"

On December 5th (yes, the day before Mikuláš), I finally graduated. It did not feel like a huge celebration or relief to me, mostly because I took the final step to finishing my degree in the middle of September and the graduation ceremony took place a few months later, but it was really nice to have my boyfriend and my parents here to watch me receive a diploma and finally get a masters degree in biology. I even had to take a day off work ; )

Much earlier in the year, we started talking about what present I want when I graduate and I said that a bouquet is a must... Then somehow in spring I got into all the bulb plants and my man started joking that he will "just come with a bag of bulbs". I liked the idea and he took it to perfection - he arrived with a BOX of bulbs - 150 bulbs of six different plant species.

I cannot wait to plant them - this is  "bouquet" that I will cherish, take care of and that will flower for me for many many years to come. And the best is - I can distribute it to all the places that I love - my mother's little garen behind our block, my boyfriend's parents' garden in the UK and his sister's garden and finally also our own garden once we buy a house, not to mention putting some into a flowerpot and taking them to work to make the mood like spring is coming. I can put them anywhere and even give some as presents and I will still have enough. I love this idea and this man to bits. He knows what I like, even though it is a bit crazy and a bit geeky :)

26 December 2013

Pre-Christmas Snail Feeding and Cleaning

One of my missions during the pre-Christmas cleanup was to clean the snail tank and change the soil in it.

Positioning a 130 l tank in the bath tub is not easy, but I managed to clean it. Mission two - cleaning the bath tub :)
The snails were all asleep, because I forgot to sprinkle them with water for quite some time (pre-Christmas business and other excuses too).

It gave me a change to observe the size of the snils without really disturbing them. Jedi is so huge now - he looks pretty impressive in my hand, even though, I do have tiny hands.

Here are some details of the epiphragm.

The snails woke up and had a meal of fresh lettuce and cucumber. However, most of them snacked on the epiphragms first.

❄ Lettuce or epiphragm?  

❄ Little break in the middle of all that eating 

❄ Last bits - om nom nom - and a curious expression 

May all your snails have enough lettuce and epiphragms to chew on during the Christmas time and all the way through the following year!! x

15 December 2013

Sunny Cold

I am having a super caffeinated weekend and I woke up way too early this morning, thanks to which I had enough time to clean the flat, the snail tank, do some crafts and witness a few splendid sunlit morning moments in the garden while I was taking out the compost bin. There is something beautiful about standing out there in pyjamas and sweater, stopping to just observe the garden for a minute.

09 December 2013

Getting Ready for Winter

This last two weeks were incredibly busy with work (meetings with parents, preparing for the school play) and family business (graduation - more about that later - my parents and boyfriend visiting at the same time), so I am feeling pretty tired now, as I sit at home on my bed after having made lesson plans for tomorrow while drinking a cup of delicious Lady Grey Tea.

But the last two weeks did not only bring business. Even though I worked hard and had a lot of social interacting to do (and God knows I'm bad at it when I'm not in the mood for it), I enjoyed every single little moment that I could, cups of tea, knotting bracelets, every single cute thing that my pupils told me, every snowflake that fell onto my coat, every bird that flew around my window, every single stitch that I was able to crochet. We had our first snow, although it only clung to some parts of the landscape and only for a day or so. I made more of my snowflake decorations and even a few of my Christmas-themed items from my Etsy shop sold and are on the way to their new homes now.

Like last year, I tried to make all the Christmas preparations and shopping long before December starts, so I could enjoy my cozy winter time with crafts and good food when everyone else is stressing out, but - oh! - suddenly it is past Mikuláš and I have barely done anything! It must be the job that keeps me busy and prevents me from shopping! Anyway, I mamaged to make some coconut biscuits (out of a ready made bought dough) and the weekend has rewarded me with a beam of sunshine through our kitchen window, so I could take this lovely picture.
Coconut biscuits (they are all gone now)

01 December 2013

Autumn in Pictures

It seems like the nice autumn is gone for good this year. Most trees lost their leaves and those that are still left are dull brown, everything is wet and dark, we leave home for work in the dark and we come home in the dark. My inner mammal wants to sit down with a huge cup of tea (or as my man says - a bucket of tea) and crochet something colourful to cheer me up or curl up under a warm fluffy blanket with a good book (Les Miserables at the moment).
However, I am glad that this autumn was so beautiful, as you could already see from my autumn break post. I enjoyed sitting under the tree, marking some tests from biology, drinking tea and walking Jedi. I played with colours this year, too. It was my Dad's 60th birthday at the end of October, so I made him a handmade birthday card with pictures of the leaves from our garden, a little bit of Nils Udo style.

I am thankful for this lovely season, I learned a lot and the time spent outdoors in nature was magical. I am very happy that I can live in the wild, with blackbirds and cats and crows and hares running around our street. And last night, as I walked home from a coffee meeting with a friend, I met a wild friend that I haven't seen for almost a year. He was walking by the pond, too slow and too round for a rat, so I ran down the hill to have a look. The hedgehog was way too scared to walk around with me there, so I snapped a picture and left him to his evening walk.

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