07.12.2015 - 11.12.2015
Gina and I have assumed the lifestyle of lazy house cats. Which is quite nice really, as we are mentally exhausted from months of change and excitement. Plus Dalia just makes it so easy. If you sit down for more than two minutes she will ply you with drinks--cherry tea or cappuccino, etc., and always with a little doily on the saucer. A DOILY. The woman's got class. When I wrote my Dalmatian blog post for example, she parked me in the leather chair in front of a roaring fire, covered me in a fluffy crocheted blanket, and brought me Irish cream cappuccino on a doily and a little crystal cup of shortbread biscuits, all on a silver tray. I might never go home.
Then when you do shoehorn yourself out of the chair or off the big squishy couch, it's only to find her making Croatian fritule (like donut holes) from scratch or arranging Christmas center pieces out of real holly. Lose track of her and she might be decoupaging an entire set of advent candles in her room. Her greatest fear though is that you are hungry or cold. The other night Marta, Gina, Dalia and I were all hanging out and talking in the kitchen (it is the perfect kitchen for socializing, and built with this intention), and even though it was almost 10pm Dalia was suddenly struck by the thought that we might be hungry. "Are you hungry?? Do you want bread? Because we don't have bread, and the store is closed right now. But I can make some! It only takes twenty minutes; do you want me to make you some bread??"
Dalia! No I don't need you to hand make me some bread at ten o'clock at night. But bless your heart for offering, and good luck getting us out of your house, like ever.
But she loves that we are crafty, and vice versa. She taught us how to arm knit, after a trip to the tiny local craft store. I picked out a very fluffy yarn of various shades of blue, and after I finished knitting it I held it up to my neck only to discover that this blue monster was eating my head. So I unraveled the whole thing and started again, opting for a narrower width before stitching the ends together into an infinity scarf. Dalia knitted a scarf for her mother out of soft white yarn, and then a second and even third before we could blink.
Gina chose a narrower yarn of burnt orange, so she had to use several strands together since arm knitting creates a really open weave (by the way arm knitting is where you use your forearms to knit the yarn together instead of knitting needles) This required much concentration from both her and Dalia, who was summoned several times to untangle my sister from a confusion of burnt orange. So here is my suggestion for first time arm knitters: it's all in the yarn choice. Opt for something fluffy enough that you don't have to layer strands together, as this can get really confusing, but not so fluffy that your end product makes your head look like a cherry on top of a large pile of whipped cream. I am talking from experience here.
We have been filling our days with small craft projects, reading and writing, and learning cooking tips from Dalia. She's a good Croatian to learn from as she knows and prefers the lighter style of Dalmatian cooking, but also knows all of the northern styles too. She's an expert at simple and fast recipes, but I have to take a lot of notes as most of her cooking is from memory and she rarely measures anything.
We have reciprocated a bit by making them American style pancakes with bacon (they do have real Canadian maple syrup available here), and I gave Marta a lesson in cake pops. Cake pops are not a thing in Croatia but both Marta and Dalia had seen them a lot on Pinterest, and Marta had told me she had read the instructions but had never summoned the courage to try making them. I told her that recipes and instructions make cake pops seem a lot more complicated than they really are; I make them at work and really the principle is quite simple.
So one Friday we made a white cake (boxed cake mix is actually preferred for cake pops but they don't use boxed cake mixes here, so we just googled a recipe for fluffy white cake), and when it was still warm we mixed in some Lino. Lino is like Croatian Nutella, and Marta chose the white one for our pops, which tastes a bit like nutty white chocolate. The next day we melted down white and dark chocolate bars in a double boiler (candy coating is also not available here, so I can see why cake pops aren't really a thing, as you really do need candy melts if you want to make colors etc. Nobody wants to bother with tempering chocolate just to dip cake pops) and dipped our pops (made on a bamboo skewers, cuz guess what it's hard to find white sucker sticks), and decorated them with various drizzles and sprinkles. Dalia loved them and now we are scheduled to make them for their party next week.
That night we also played their Christmas game with Dalia and Marta. They construct a different handmade Christmas card every year as a family, and one year they invented a Christmas board game. It's adorable and demonic at the same time. Adorable because it's all hand drawn and really inventive, with things like "you ate too much rum cake, move backwards on your next three turns" and ”Rudolph is helping to light your way, jump forward two spaces."
But it's demonic in that it is amusingly frustrating because if you land on one of the three grinch spaces towards the finish line, you have to go back to almost the halfway point.
So naturally you land on these as much as possible. And if you "eat" another player by landing on their space, they have to move back to start or one of the two "tea houses" significantly further back in the game. So tensions get rather high...
Dalia won, by a rather wide margin. It was quite some time before Gina came in second, and finally I landed third. You can see the roller coaster of emotions from the photos I think...