Sunday, 25 September 2016

The lingering blooms from the summer's garden

Dear Family & Friends

The summer this year was pleasant...not too many super hot days - just enough...although perhaps some of our plants wanted it a notch higher in temperature thus resulting to less yield. Nonetheless...I would say...it's all perfect in every way.
The lingering summer's bloom in our garden

We had a lot of amaranth this year and I've gathered a big bottle of it's seeds to use in the kitchen...perhaps incorporate it with bread baking. We've never tried amaranth seeds before but we will have a go. It certainly takes a lot of flowers to harvest a handful of seeds.

the last of the rose blooms for this year

As summer lingers on...although I'm pretty sure the air is saying that autumn is now here...some of the roses are still blooming...our last chance to enjoy it till next year again.

the roaming tortoise in our grden

Some of the herbs like the mint have started producing lots of flowers that attracted so many bees to itself... The tortoise is still roaming the garden...but we know he will soon prepare for his hibernation.

the grapevine area

This length of the garden with lined grapes overhead has by now been harvested...but most of the leaves are still there taking in some food for itself before they start leaves dropping - as the weather is now turning cool.

morning glory vine as day comes to close

The morning glory vine are still giving the pleasure with their bright blue/violet blooms every sunny morning, at night they shut their petals up.

the four o'clock flower shrub at night fall

On the other hand, this four o'clock flower shrub that volunteered to grow in our garden in the midst of the flowering mint, opens up their flower from late afternoon onwards. So, they're called 4 o'clock.

As night falls...some flowers carry on working happily to catch the attention of the nocturnal creatures...but as for me, it's time to flop in bed to rest the weary body. It had been a productive long day...tomorrow will be another day to look forward to:)

Sending you wishes of a brilliant week ahead:)

Your

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

On Language Learning

Dear Family & Friends,

I've recently picked up a language book from our bookshelf...one that I found challenging years back...only to find that time has made me overcome them. In language learning, it is important to just get on and speak whatever little you know how. Practice is more important that pouring on grammar books!!

Re-reading a cyrillic book 

In our little family, we share the love of learning languages. Not so with the only male member...but he has improved...at least I can say he is bilingual. For us ladies, learning languages seems much easier. As a mother, I tried influencing our two girls on being multilingual from toddler age.  I have to admit that I couldn't MAKE them learn other language. It was only as they grew older (7 yrs up)...that I was able to convince them of the importance of learning other languages besides English. With our living in a foreign land...the concept and interest just developed even more.

Able to understand another language means you can order and understand snack labels


None of us go to language school for our learning...we just acquire it through self teaching. Once you got one....learning another is easy. We share several language interest but there are still a few that I know that the girls haven't picked up yet...but young as they are...their minds are quick in picking odd words that I utter now and again. Soon they will take lead!


and easily find your way as you look for the shop you intend to go to:)


If you're one of those that get stuck with grammar books...just don't dwell on it too much...go and practice speaking with what you think it is...learning is quicker that way. Don't be embarrass to learn or make mistake because that's the stepping stone:) Language study is a continual learning...we learn, we have a break, and we re-learn again. It can only get better and it's all fun:)

Keep life interesting and wishing you a good week.

Yours

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Cucamelon

Dear Family & Friends

From time to time, I get adventurous and would try growing food that I never grew or have eaten before. Cucamelon is one of them. A blogger at www.englishhomestead.com offered some seed, although I'm most timid to come forward, I summoned all courage because I've been fascinated about this plant but didn't know where I could buy them from locally. I'm ever so grateful for Kevin's kindness since and will always be.

The cucamelon has now settled happily in our garden:)

The first year with growing cucamelon wasn't a success. I only got about four tiny fruits. I was anxious but I managed to save all four fruits for seeds. Perhaps these seeds got acclimatized to our climate, because this year, the plants just took off with great enthusiasm! 

cucamelons are so cute...looks like a miniature watermelon, doesn't it?

I'm harvesting cucamelons every other day and it's producing many tiny fruit that taste lemony..my first time to taste this and we like it for snacking!


close up look of a cut cucamelon

Cucamelon or mouse melon is more a cucumber to me than a melon:) It's cute and perfect as snack food. It's very prolific in producing fruits! Cucamelon will just have to stay and join our happy garden onwards.


It's a climbing vine and they grow on a fast rate - by the minute!


When we garden, we don't just grow fruits and veggies...but we also grow knowledge. It's another good reason why we garden.

Be encouraged to garden and wishing you a happy gardening time:)

Yours

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Success and Failures in our garden

Dear Family & Friends

Every gardening year is different from the last. Most of it has something to do with the weather pattern, the timing of sowing and planting, plus soil condition. There's always the successes and failures - but that is not important...I just take in the joy of all surprises that comes our way, then dream and hope for a better one - next time!

My first time success with luffa - I'm happy:)

I have my share of garden failures, but today I am sharing you my garden joy. As you can see, this year I pat myself for I managed to grow luffa that bear us some fruits to eat and use - for the first time after my 3 attempts!! It took me 3 years!!

This one will be left to become sponge and for seed saving

Look...just loook!! The fruit looks good, heavy and big, although the leaves and the whole plant seems pathetically small. I have about 10 fruits out of the whole packet of seeds I've sown in early summer, which came to about 5 plants! I am already happy with that. I will leave 3 big fruits to dry, get its seeds (my very own this time) and turn it into luffa sponge. The rest of the fruits will be cooked. It's delicious eaten as stir fry with garlic and tomatoes - using the young fruits.

my rows of 5 buckets of the exotic kang kong plant:)

Another exotic plant that I never give up with is the Kang Kong. (also known as water spinach or cong xin cai). It's not a local plant, so it gives me a lot of challenges...but it's my comfort food. As a child I never like eating veggies but somehow I like eating this, stir fried with just garlic and salt.

leafy kangkong greens which is a cut and come again plant

This plant doesn't grow robustly here as it is more of a tropical plant. I plant them in buckets and water them as much as I should. Every now and again, I snip the leaves for cooking...you need a lot of it because they just shrink once cooked. Oh...it's so precious here -that I have to divide a small bowl of this stir fry into 4 to share...LOL! I'm thinking of ways to overwinter them so that next year I can replant a lot more - for the moment, I'm not too sure if I will succeed on this plan.

Aloe vera,  boxwood cuttings, apples from seeds, citrus plant - growing in pots for the time being

There are many other plants I like to grow which need extra care that I'm not prepared to do. This year, I grew aloe vera. From last winter's mandarin oranges we ate, two citrus plants sprouted from seeds! A few boxwood cuttings I potted because I'm hoping to trim them for indoor decor. There's few apples that sprouted from seeds that came along the pot of tomato seedlings that a neighbor gave us this year. These are bits and pieces of plants that I'm experimenting with:)

our boxwood that was attacked by moth :( really sad looking.

When you learn as you go, everything seems exciting. Although not everything will go well as I dream it to be. The above photo of a big boxwood in our garden was attacked by moth this year. I didn't know and understand what was happening that time - until the aftermath. Now...I'm wiser...just hoping it will recover.

drying onion seed head blown by the wind and landed into this tub

It's time to sow veggie seeds that would grow in cooler days. I should be more meticulous with this chore, but sometimes it doesn't turn out as I planned it to be. In a tub of soil fell my onion seed head, blown by the wind, so they sprout in bunches. It's still a keeper...I will dig and separate them individually to replant on garden beds later on. For the moment they are all growing haphazardly:) They're happy - I'm happy:) 

Sometimes it's good to just chill out. I wish you a happy week too:)

Yours

Thursday, 8 September 2016

0.15 US cents / 0.13 euro cents per kilo for watermelon


Dear Family & Friends

On our way to our various errand one Saturday, we saw a few cars by the road side along a van full of watermelon. Something exciting going on here. We just have to join the fun. Summer in Bulgaria means eating lots of watermelon...very soothing for those hot summers' days that we get here.


watermelon vendors by the roadside

I never grow watermelon in our garden because it requires a lot of water and the plant loves to take a lot of space to sprawl around. Really...it's not worth growing as we can buy them so cheaply. As summer goes on...prices keep on dropping down too!


Watermelon in the van, pick and weigh - just for 0.25 stotinski per kilo!!

Yes, it only cost 0.15 US cents or 0.13 euro cents for a kilo of watermelon! They are sweet and very juicy too! That day we came home with 3 very big and heavy watermelons, costing us only a total of about 2 euros for the lot!! This is one joy that we enjoy being in Bulgaria!!

By the way, watermelon taste so much nicer on a very hot day! So, I'm off to enjoy some watermelon with my little family in the garden. I hope you have an enjoyable day today too:)

Yours

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Our set BBQ meal

Dear Family & Friends

What would you do if you have people who enjoys knocking down others with negative words all the time...be it comparing you to this and that or other malicious ways? Well, it's best to avoid them. If you can't, just let them rattle on and start playing a mental game by counting how many unkind words they spill per minute. Tally it in set of five sticks per bundle. A fun game! If you don't respond, they will soon end the conversation. A Win Win game:) 

If people can't give you the encouragement, get it from the beauty of a tiny chives flower

Perhaps I am guilty of the same from time to time, but I really try my best to dwell on positive things and most of all be an encouragement to others. I do believe that building others up is a very good business investment:)

BBQ Grill is always fun  

Today is another beautiful day. We enjoyed this day by sharing an easy meal together. It was so simple and all were full of contentment. Here's our set meal.

We call this a family party - with ala carte menu:)

Someone prepared a steamed rice in the rice cooker, with tumeric powder to give it an added aroma and colour! The other one, grilled the sausages which took no time at all. I gathered a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden - wash and chop - viola, the best salad in town! The fourth member of the family unit..went and set the table. She even picked some camomille flowers to grace a recycled vase...after our meal, the camomille bouquet turned into herbal tea drink;P

Our BBQ pit inside our tiny outdoor mud hut

So there goes another no frill but very enjoyable family time together. I wish that you also have an enjoyable day today just as we did...if not...even better:)

Yours

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Wages paid in Bags of fruits

Dear Family & Friends

We teach our children to learn and love working, for mankind is made to work in life. Work puts meaning into living. Most of the time, we like to get compensation for the work we do. That's normal...because work brings reward. Some work gives big reward, while others, smaller reward. But even if it doesn't give the immediate reward that we expect...we work to the best of our ability because it brings satisfaction.

recycled bread bags now holding fruits

In our village, we do favours and help each other. This week, a shared property wall was made beautiful and the neighbor was so pleased because they shared the reward of our labor. A bag of sweet and very juicy peaches were passed on to us for that:)

freshly picked sweet and juicy peaches

30 kilos of sugar was the request of our other neighbour when we did our monthly grocery shopping. A lot of sugar but I think they use it to preserve their fruit harvest. At a promo price of 0.75 euros/kilo - our neighbor was happy! The following day he came back to request another 20 kilos of it when we next do our grocery shopping! When he knocks our door for request, he never fails to bring a bag of fruits for us. We know the payment is his joy and we receive them with grateful hands.

taking responsibility in keeping our road side clean

Every Saturday, my little girl gets a bag of very big tomatoes for teaching English to one little girl in our village. So, our Saturday meal menu always includes red juicy tomatoes. That family knows that tomato salad is part of our weekend meal.

we'll also do the neighbor's side of the road

See, all these gifts are our wages:) No, we don't expect payment for every little thing we do, but we always do get paid! There's always a reward for every work ...tangible or intangible....big or small....but most important of all, work gives us the character that we need to see us through life!

our yummy bags of wages

Sometimes I do get grumpy when I get tired from working...then, I have to remind myself again because I got the wrong perspective. Everyday I make a long list of work...I sometimes accomplish them, sometimes they get left for another day...but it is always my security to know that I have work everyday and I smile as I tick them off my list...Smiles are my bag of wages!

Hope you have a happy work day today too:)

Yours

Thursday, 25 August 2016

OH JOY!

Dear Family & Friends

We have typical summer with constant sunshine... and that makes my garden so thirsty everyday!!  I'm literally like a madwoman whose hands seems to be attached to a garden hose 24/7!! It's a never ending chore...but I must admit that after watering the garden, everything cools down...microclimate - that's what my daughter told me! At least, inside our four wall domain!

temperature within is slightly cooler than past this wall out onto the street
Hot days of summer makes my brain sluggish...just on constant sleep mode - not complete shut down at least! Everyday meal planning seems a struggle. It's good that my little family are very patient with me all the time! OH JOY!

cooking a quick pancake meal again...

For this week, I fed them nothing but my pancake invention (a couple of times in a week!!)...just altering what I put in it! Most of the time veggie mix like grated carrots, grated zuchinni, chopped up chives, chopped up purslane...whatever I get out of our garden that day!

one big pancake instead of the usual little burger size

Mixing everything with egg savoury pancake batter...and by using Kefir instead of milk...it gives a soft texture with cheesy taste. Another lazy trick of mine is to pan fry it as one big pancake - like doing a tortilla. That way, it's faster and I don't need to endure the heat from cooking longer than necessary. Once cooked, cut in wedges and eat with cucumber or tomato salad! No one complains..My JOY!

  
Sid with our garden tortoise - who loves the summer heat

Out in our garden, this mascot called 'sid' is playing around. We got him free from Lidl after spending 100 euros of shopping spree! None of us are of toddler age...but we were so excited to collect stickers for every 10 euros spent...in hope that we could get a little free toy!...and we did! (actually, the kind cashier cheated and gave us extra 3 stickers just to help complete our goal LOL) Our JOY! 

Sid talking to the rooster?

Now that we got Sid home with us....he just have to have his photo shoot with our garden friends...our teenage girls' fun time activity - that is!! Their JOY!

Building and rebuilding of the wall

Since there's a delay in the completion of our city apartment, focus on DIY works at home is done instead. The outside wall is constantly polished and repolished to a perfect look. Someone in our family just seem to love the rebuilding of the wall activity...I thought it all looks good and finished! But day after day...whenever he got the time...he's out there tinkering this and that again ...his JOY!

Yes, count it all JOY, even when summer heat brings headaches and sleepless nights! Then, start all over again tomorrow. After all, summer is just but a season. Hope you are enjoying your day today with JOY too!

Yours


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Live at peace with everyone

Dear Family & Friends

Last week, the contract agreement for our tiny city apartment to be handed to us expired. Legally, we can get our agreed monetary compensation from the owner for failure to meet the deadline....it's half the price of the apartment. That would be easy money...but, we rather not fight for it. After all, we intend to use the apartment from time to time...and the property owner, as well as the property developer, are also taking some quarters for themselves in the same building. If we are going be neighbours, we better live in peace with each other.

Car parking spaces at the back of the apartment have yet to be done 

Although we are a bit disappointed that we cannot be there at the agreed time...yet, we are not in a hurry for it...except that we told our visiting friends to use it on their visit in October. Perhaps we still got the time to get it all ready for them. For the meantime, another meeting with the property owner and the developer to sort out another short extension time is set.

The side entrance to the apartment building is still in working progress

Life is not always straight forward...there's bumps along the way...but we must get on. Sometimes patience and wisdom is required.

Work at the apartment complex seems to be rather slow, although rails on balcony is now on.

Back in our home garden, with the very hot and dry week, incessant watering is required!! The soil is turning into cement...I constantly try mulching them with my chop n drop method...but even our weeds are refusing to grow as they require water too! Building our mulch is the way to go but we have to find more resource...another trial along the way! We got promises of T-storm ( in fact a few couple of them this week)... but the rain seem to always evade our village, while places just 5 minutes away from us get the torrent! All the time!! What can I say??!! That's part of life...we all get it in many different ways!!

I still rejoice despite of the petty bumps...at least I survived from choking on a piece of apple this week!! Most important, my little family are happy and healthy...and the girls are diligent in all their ways as always:) Yes! I got it all sorted! Hope you see and get all things bright in your way too.

Yours

Monday, 15 August 2016

It takes a village to raise a child

Dear Family & Friends

With the food abundance we experience specially at this time of the year ... we often wonder why the villagers are pouring and sharing their produce with us, knowing very well we also grow the things they grow - perhaps not as big and vigorous, but nonetheless, I try my best to grow what we can and know how in our garden for the family's needs.

the Balkans - child's painting of one of the girls
Then, it occured to me that whenever villagers shares their produce with us, they always say - 'take these for the children.' No ill feelings...not that we adults don't need to eat and share it too...but what they are saying is that children are growing and nutrition is vital for growth.

village hens - child's painting of one of the girls

There's a saying that says: it takes a village to raise a child. ..and this is very true to where we presently live in. For the years we have been living here, villagers known or unknown to us,  had been so kind to our children: sharing fruits and veggies, and even teaches them courteous manners like addressing every elderly with honour and respect as what and how a family does to each other.

the cheerful cycler - child's painting of one of the girls

Our two girls are bigger now...yet, they are still very much the children of this village. I'm so glad we have and are given the opportunity to live here. Our two girls understand these and are grateful too:)

Life is not complicated...at least not in this part of the world. Hope you have a beautiful day today, with lots of blessings too:)

Yours

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Getting two new beehives

Dear Family & Friends

For two years, we kept a beehive in our garden which we bought from a local villager. Sad to say, we lost them in early spring this year. We still couldn't understand how it happened...but it was a very devastating experience. Nonetheless, we won't take it as a defeat.

our two beehives

Our fifteen year old daughter has been teaching English to a local little girl about her age. In exchange: she asked if her grandfather could supply us with a beehive family to replace the one we lost. They were pleased with the idea and are giving us two beehive families:)


To see a field of sunflowers always brings multi-joy:)

The  grandfather managed to secure two swarms for us:) For the moment, the hives are still with him as he is getting them established in their new homes. Once their hives has enough honey to sustain them, they will be handed to us to stay in our garden.


Sunflower field in our village

There's vast sunflower fields in our village area. Our two beehives are in the vicinity, so they can get and store more food as they settled in their new home. The kind grandfather visits them in the field and brings water to feed them.

This is a carrot that has bolted into flower to produce seeds for the next season:)

We are excited to have another chance of beekeeping venture. For the moment, I'm planting as many bee friendly plants in our garden, especially those early flowering ones for the benefit of the bees, and other beneficial insects which will make a happy garden - and a happy gardener:)

Hope you are keeping a happy and content - sending you wishes of a perfect weather today- one that is not too hot/and not too cold ...your way:)

Yours

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Making a garden room

Dear Family & Friends

As years pass by, slowly I see our garden getting more established. The trees are taking shape, the perennial plants are happy where we planted them as they come back year after year. Annual plants are left to seed, so they can replant themselves the following year. Our goal is to have minimum maintenance garden...and it is taking place:) 

In progress garden room project by the water well area

Gardening is not a big chore...only if you choose it to be. Having found some inspiration, we recently made a garden room around the water well area. With just a few long straight tree branches we stole took from a nearby private land forest (there was no one to ask), we simply attached it to four post. This year I planted bottle gourd to climb over it to form a green living wall. A wooden cover is also made to cover the top of the well. The next thing I plan to do is to stick a mosaic tiles around the well structure. That's coming soon as time permits. Planned projects sometimes take time...but it's all part of gardening...a day at a time!


Stone crop sedum started to bloom

The ground around the water well is poor and sandy. But I've noticed that the stone crop sedum I've planted last year started blooming! Obviously the plant likes the stony soil in that area.

...with pretty pale pink colour

There's a lot of pleasant surprises I find in the garden...the beauty of this sedum flowers are just some of the little joys that I think everyone should have from time to time. Have you found some time to enjoy the beauty around you lately?

Hope you have a lovely day that will bring you great joy too:)

Yours