Thursday, December 31, 2009


We have spent the last week of 2009 down in Punta Gorda, enjoying wonderful winter summer spell ...

We waded in the waves ...

and found some shells

lots of shells actually, in pristine Cayo Costa Island,

and rode a boat

looked eye to eye with some pelicans and seagulls

stopped for beer in cute little village in Pine Island

and swam

and saw a couple of disgustingly beautiful pink sunsets

We had good time ... we had good year ...i hope the next one will be fine as well
PF 2010

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmas

I am not sure exactly what still makes me feel so excited about this day. What makes me to follow all the seemingly meaningless traditions I remember from childhood .... May be I would like to bring back that happy time I have saved into memories ...

We used to decorate the tree with my dad, on the morning of his birthday, on the December 24 .. and afterward we all used to go to visit grandpa on cemetery and remembered all who left us forever....this year it will be the ninth year I will be remembering my dad as well ... and my grandparents ... I miss them very much...... oh well, that is life .... anyway, when we got home the carp was ready to be fried ... we used to have a two or three fishes each year, they were swimming for couple of days in bathtub and dad would prepare the fillets the evening before the "Generous Day" as we Czechs call it, the Christmas Eve ... and we would make potato salad with my mom, and pea soup with buttered croutons and dad would put the little fish scale under each plate to make sure the upcoming year is going to be rich and fruitful, although one has to wear the scale in the wallet whole year to make the trick work :).... and if you manage to not eat anything the whole day, you will see the golden pig bringing all the luck at midnight (I never saw one :) ... we would wait for the first star on the horizon ... and we would lit the candle and sit down to have a dinner; nobody should leave the table until we all finished and the candle was extinguished, to ensure we all will stay together next year....and after the dinner there was the presents time under the tree ....and old movies and sweets and a glass of wine latter on...and the reading of the new books...and the fairy tales for next days ....

I miss that but at the same time I try to enjoy whatever traditions I was introduced to here ... for the last eleven or twelve years, I have spent the holidays in Florida, and it is as different as it can be, but I learned to like it ... some of the new things are slowly becoming a part of my own tradition I may, one day, pass on ...

Marry Christmas !

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow and the City

We got snowed under. I think those may be the right words, found in The Washington Post header, to paraphrase the "Snowed under Patriots", notorious book Czechs would mention in such situation.

The whole thing happened between our office party on Friday (overall smooth jazz-and-dinner outing to Blues Ally in Georgetown) and Saturday evening. Of course, the child part of me was excited:)

It was beautiful, I have not seen so much snow since I left Europe (I still dream about going for some serious skiing one of these days).

Well, the big part of my unblemished joy was probably the fact I did not have to un-showel the cars and pathways, my dear W. did it and the price was very sore back afterward, therefore - the Note: next time it happens I shall help! The big pile was my Silver ...

It was certainly event to remember, supposedly the biggest snowfall in the last hundred years.

Fortunately, we had blue skies by Sunday, and clear roads by the time of Monday rush hours.

Three days latter, the temperature still just wiggles around 0C, so the snow did not melted yet. City feels very festive; covered with soft white blanket,

usual noises got somehow muffled, the crowds either already gone for holidays or scared away. And I like the new color schemes, the sparking in the sun, I have to enjoy it till it lasts.

I will certainly hope for the repetition next year, may be in a touch smaller scale though.

Life is good with all the little surprises (the horse had as well jingle bells around the neck) ...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Lights

It is the time of winter solstice, the time of new hopes which should come with that tiny extra bit of daylight from now on, the promise of spring waiting for us (soon) ...

But for now, all we have are the bright lights of winter...

They come in all shapes - we have squads of snowmen,

and reindeer here and there,

and the sea of stars.

and blooming bushes in December :)

They help us to fight the cold and darkness and they do pretty good job there.

May we lit a bright little light in our hearts to keep us warm for all the next year ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Forest (of the Shining Trees)

They are lurking from behind every corner in this time of the year,

only, I always had mixed feelings about this tradition; I like how the decorated trees look (and smell) but I hate the idea of killing them just for that. And the artificial ones are usually, well, very artificial ...

People take the winter decoration seriously here. Never mind the big part of it is probably just commercial trick, I still like how festive the city suddenly looks

with all the extra lights, bows and greenery

and what a great occasion for creativity outburst!

Trees start to grow here earlier too, right after the Thanksgiving weekend (unlike the very Christmas Eve morning in Czech). One can enjoy them longer that way...

I was reluctant at first, but inspired by the sprouting forestry around and gently pushed into it when W. took his old fake tree down from the attic, I hanged all the ornaments we had and even found the use for those which did not fit, first time in last 12 years. And I made the winter wreath for the front doors, although this one I am making every year.

And they do look pretty, after all, even if they are all plastic. I think we just started our very own, guilt free, family Christmas tradition - at least till the fir tree, we have in front yard, is big enough to be decorated, while happily growing, so it may look like this (i.e. The National Christmas Tree 2009). One day :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookies, Cookies Everywhere !

I got my x-mas present from W. early this year, it came in last Wednesday...

and I was happy and eager to try it out....

so I did, on Saturday, I started the Czech traditional baking marathon ...

I used some old recipes and my mom and my friend M. were consulted ...

the shapes were cut and rolled ...

the forms were filled ...

chocolate was melted and sugar icing was whipped ...

and than it was all done, 15 hrs latter :)

Note: Linz cookies : 40 dkg flour, 15 dkg powder sugar, 25 dkg butter, 2 egg yolks, lemon flavoring or zest
Vanilla rollies : 28 dkg flour, 10 dkg powder sugar, 18 dkg butter, 1 egg, 14 dkg grind nuts, vanilla flavoring
Nut Madeleins: 14 dkg powder sugar, 14 dkg flour, 14 (or up to 28) dkg grind nuts, 14 dkg butter
Egg white biscotti: 4 egg whites, 15 dkg flour, 18 dkg powder sugar, 20 dkg whole nuts, 1/4 bag of baking powder
Gingerbreads: 250 g honey, 1/8 l water, boiled together, 4 egg yolks beaten with 250 dkg powder sugar, 1 teasp of
each of crushed cinnamon, cardamon, anise, clove, ginger and 1 g of baking soda, add gradually 50 dkg flour and honey-water
mixture, let sit for at least 14 hrs in fridge.
Egg whites icing : 1 egg white & 14 dkg of powder sugar beaten together with a teaspoon of lemon juice