Friday, 2 December 2016

Buying fruit trees from lady joy

Dear Family & Friends,

Last week, I wrote about planting our fruit trees...but there was a 'before' story to that.

The last time we were at this garden shop, they didn't have any fruit trees available as it was a bit too early to be planting them. so, I promised the lady that I will be coming back later in the season. Thus, when she saw us again...she was so happy and she said in a surprising voice: 'oh...you came back just as you said you would!' Ah..you just have to love her:)



As I choose fruit trees for our mini orchard, my ever so faithful man was pushing me to hurry up as he needs to be back home at a certain time! ...I am aware of that, but this sales lady was trying her best to instruct me on to how best plant the trees and offered to trim it as I said we would plant it on the same day! She was ever so helpful...but here I am pressured in between a rushing man and a pleasing lady. I had to tell the shop lady to hurry and finish our transaction ASAP.

I quickly returned the pen I borrowed from her to write down the varieties of trees I got. 'Wait' she said, 'you can keep the ballpen' I answered 'oh, no need'...She replied:'please keep it. I have plenty of them.' That conversation took a minute!!


As I picked up and carried the bare root trees to our car, she said I must have a plastic bag to put them in. I once again said 'oh no need' as I'm being pressured with time. She insist that I wait as she searches for one! That took another minute! In the end she found no bag...and gave me a plant tray to place the tree roots on top. Oh whatever...she's just one extra thoughtful lady!

While waiting for her to give me back my money change...she asked if I would like to buy a pot of Chrysanthemum that she was tidying up when we first arrived...at half price, and she would give me another pot for free - a gift! I said 'no thank you'....because I have around 40 chrysanthemum plants already in our garden! But she took a minute to choose 3 pots of different chrysanthemum colours and insist I have them all as gifts!


It's not the usual thing people do in a developed country...but I find Bulgarian people can be very giving! My little family suspected that she must have short changed me for all the free gifts...no she didn't!  I suppose she found some joy in our meeting today for some reason. As for the man who's so in a hurry....he did had ample time, more than enough to even have a cup of tea before hand. As for me, I survived another pressure crossfire.

What a good day! I'm just taking my day at a time..and always try to stay as cool as a cucumber. Wish you do the same and always remember to chill out and have a good day! Hope you have a good one too!

Yours

Monday, 28 November 2016

Autumn fruit trees planting

Dear Family & Friends

So far, we have forty or so fruit trees already planted in our garden. But I thought I would still need around 6 more trees to fill up the mini orchard that I'm establishing. We dropped by the garden shop and brought home more fruit trees to join in the garden...probably after this, our garden won't and can't take more anymore!

Positioning the tree:  We're told to face the graft point facing 'south'

Fruit trees are good investment. Once established, they will bear fruits for years to come, with minimal care requirements. And who doesn't love fruits?  Fruits are good food!

It's good to add compost for a healthy start


Here's the five trees we planted this season:
  1. Got another almond nut tree for a second tree. The first one is still OK but after 3 years, it is not really growing fast! So we need a back up.
  2. A honey pear tree. The Sales lady went into detailed explanation on how sweet like honey the fruit is..and harvest time is later than other pear varieties. So I was sold out on that!
  3. A pomagranate tree. This one cost only 4 euros...I paid 8 euros for the same tree two years ago, unfortunately it died on me...so, I want to have another go...after all, it's cheaper this time! Although all other fruit trees are priced for 2.50 euros only:)
  4. A mystery tree. It looks like longish red fruit in clusters on the picture. I couldn't get the translated name in English. The sales lady said it's good for compote or as fruit juice. Sold again!
  5. Persimmon. I've been looking for this fruit tree for years. Finally we found one! 

Planting fruit trees is a very satisfying job

Now that these trees are planted...we hope that by spring time, we will start seeing new shoots. In about three years, if not earlier, they would start bearing fruits for us to eat. Fruit trees take time to give the return, so it's good to plant them as soon as possible.

Another autumn gardening chore is done....but there's more for us to do. 

Wishing you a happy gardening day too:)

Yours,

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Day trip with our visiting French Friends

Dear Family & Friends

Sometime ago, our French friends came to visit us in Bulgaria...it was a delight to meet them in person because they are very gracious and easy going couple. Unfortunately, we didn't have as much time as we want, to take them around etc... as our main driver's work schedule was quiet booked that week. I could have drove them around but I'm not really a confident driver...with a very poor sense of direction too:( 

The hotel complex rooms
Nonetheless, we managed to take them around in nearby places of interest. We went to a hotel complex that also owns a vineyard...so our guest joined the winery tour and found listening to their own voice very fascinating, in an ancient natural acoustic place inside the winery area.

Local Bulgarian lunch meal enjoyed with our friends
We also had a lunch meal at the hotel complex, to which our friends insisted on treating us. They tasted the local Bulgarian meals and they liked it except for the drink called ayran. It looks like a glass of milk but it is a watered down yogurt with a pinch of salt. We didn't like it before as we were used to the taste of creamy milk...but after a while...we acquired the taste!

the Thracian thomb mount 
After the meal, we visited the ancient Thracian tomb and temple. Thracian are said to be the oldest civilization. Would you believe they were much older than the Egyptians civilization? Unfortunately the world knows Egyptians civilization much more because the Thracians never recorded nor developed the art of writing to record things down.

an excavated temple of the Thracians
There were also some temples that was uncovered and it's very much a part of the old history of Bulgaria. Bulgaria got a very long and interesting history..conquered by many tribes and neighbouring countries for centuries. Main cities were built upon layers and layers of different old cities of previous conquerors!


This is said to be the Thracian ruler's burial mount
Our French friends find all the ancient culture very interesting. I would say they are more geared to culture than we are!!  Perhaps we must not take these things for granted specially as we are living in this country and has greater opportunity to discover so much more.

The foggy scenery from the hill top
After roaming around, a few walks here and there to admire some scenery despite of the unstable autumn weather, we came back to our village home and enjoyed each other's company with a simple meal and a some French magic tricks entertainment!!. One thing I admire them for...is that Madame I. can speak, read and write in Mandarin! Aside from that, she speaks English, and French (very fluently).. and so with Monsieur P.

A few days after they went back to their home country...we start missing them already. but we promised to keep in touch with each other. Well, who knows...when we will meet again!

Yours

Saturday, 19 November 2016

I'm not sweeping the garden.

Dear Family & Friends

A sunny cool autumn day...crispy air to start with...but once I get going in the garden, it is still pleasant out there. Our village people are all very busy cleaning up their garden. Every plants harvested and yanked out. Most of our village neighbours' garden are immaculately clean...not a drop of dead leaf! They put them all in the dumpster!!  

my autumn garden

Mine still looks fairly full, although some plants has already given up, some are still hanging on. Perhaps I should chop them down as they are not so pretty anymore...but I still see a lot of butterflies and bees still hovering and benefiting it's last blooms....I just don't have the heart to take their food source out for the sake of a clean looking garden. So, my excuse of leaving half dead flowering bushes! I also let fallen Quince fruits on the ground to rot...because many butterflies enjoy the rotting fruit sap. Insects are still very busy during the sunny hours of the day...but when colder days arrive, food source will be very limited for them:(

we mulched garden beds with as much autumn leaves as we could collect

I'm not aiming for a perfectly clean garden...it's good to leave them messy for the benefit of the soil microbes. In fact, we're gathering the fallen autumn leaves from the village centre to cover and enrich our soil....now..this practice puzzles our neighbours even more!!

another beautiful day promised for tomorrow


Our sun has gone away on holiday for the past few days...now it's back...I've got to go out and face my chores. I wish you a happy gardening day ...or simply a nice day outside for a couple of hours too:)

Yours

Monday, 14 November 2016

An afternoon family trip to Kalofer


Dear Family & Friends

Today I'm showing to another beautiful day trip that is just around the corner from where we live. There's this Bulgarian hero called Hristo Botev. He didn't live long but he is so well known here because most roads are named after him. I admit I don't know him well but I will do some research when I get free time to update my history knowledge:)

We visited a place called Kalofer. We have been here a few times in the past, but we just associate this place to this gigantic statue of Mr Botev. The surrounding area is designed in it's past communist style. But with a bright beautiful day, we decided to get off the car to explore the area a bit.
  
somebody just had to mess around with his signature pose along the long flight of steps leading to the top.
Kalofer is in the edge of the nature conservation area. We climbed the steps upward to have a close look of Mr. Botev...from the top we also got the vantage point of seeing the the group of local houses and all the beautiful colours of autumn...nature is painted with red, brown yellow and green leaves on trees at this time.

the big statue of Mr. Hristo Botev

I love the local Bulgarian traditional house architecture. I love the wood they use to form part of their homes. It's appropriate because Bulgaria is surrounded with mountains and lots of trees.

beautiful house adorned wth autumn colour trees, plus mountain background is all too perfect for me

The dark wood balcony on old houses form it's character.

dark old wood balcony are just so attractive part of the house front:)

So with the wooden framed windows. I just love them all:) They sometimes paint border lines around window frames.

beside our beautiful model, don't you think those windows with wooden shutters are gorgeous? 

When we go see certain places and countries...what we see and reminds us of, is the style of architecture. These are usually based on the resources found in that area, plus of course the culture of the people that dictates it all.

Hope you also enjoyed some of the beautiful things we see in Bulgaria that I shared with you today. Perhaps, one day you might even get the opportunity to see them for real:)

Yours

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Hand sewn embroidered heart Lavender sachet

Dear Family & Friends

Our teenage girl wanted her Japanese friend to know that she is thought of, on her special day, from as far as Bulgaria! She decided to make a handmade lavender sachet which she worked on for a few days.

Handmade Lavender sachet

Using a pink satin material, a heart shape form was prepared.

Step 1: cut material to sew a heart shape pattern

Two pieces of materials...one for the front and the other for the back.

Step 2: Make two identical form for one heart sachet pocket

She embroidered a lavender flowers for the front, and her friend's name at the back

Step 3: Before stitching it together, embroider your design 

I have gathered a lot of our home grown Lavender flowers and she used this to fill up her sachet.

Step 4: Stitch them together and leave a small gap to fill it with lavender flowers

With her patience and dedication, she hand stitch everything as neat as she could....almost as if it was done by a sewing machine...thus, it took her a while to accomplish this.

Step 6: sew up the filler hole

To embroider a tiny kanji character on, is a challenge... but she did it!

Step 7: The heart sachet is all done

The flowers are made of bullion stitches to make it resemble like lavender...I think she did well.

A nice little project that my daughter enjoyed putting together:)

Best of all, this project was made full of love for a friend who has been so kind and supportive to her in her language learning journey...a very talented blogger friend who cooks wonderful food, till she took a break to enjoy more time with her grand-babies.

Well, I'm off to go and make some lavender sachets too...they're good to put in clothes cupboards and ideal little gifts to cheer family and friends too:)

Hope you have a nice cheerful day today.

Yours


Friday, 4 November 2016

To the fish restaurant

Dear Family & Friends

It was a Saturday. The normal work days of Monday to Friday is over. Saturday is still our last work day for the week - but it's more concentrate on chores around the house. But then, this Saturday was different, two members of the family did an overflow job of the week for an hour. On top, we still had plans to do some house chores together...but one got the idea of breaking the mundane plan of the day when he said, 'Don't cook anything, we'll go out and eat.'

an array of dishes we ordered and enjoyed together.

Did you think I would reject the offer? Well, I quickly and frenzily finish the making of the 'Harissa' - my new found joy of preserving the multitude of sweet pepper that comes into our kitchen - Phew...just in time!! But as to the plan of scrubbing the kitchen floor, - abandoned. The lunch preparations were put back into the fridge quickly too, as I got the excuse of not cooking it. In fact, I just managed to grab myself a hot cup of drink and off we went!

A trout fish soup with a squeeze of lemon juice is delicious:)

An impromptu day outing family trip, was a nice treat for all specially with a bright beautiful weather...it couldn't be a better idea. We work hard as a family but we must be careful not to be slaves of our work chores... Work is always going to be there...but from time to time we must set some free time to break from our routine and reward ourselves to keep us going:)


Isn't this rose with a cobweb backdrop beautiful?

We made good and lovely memories together as a family. Something that we will always remember. It didn't cost much... surprises always come fun:) ...specially when you are all united for it!

Wishing you a lovely day today...as much as possible, go and create a beautiful memorable week:)

Yours

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Restoring furniture project

Dear Family & Friends

We're trying our hands on new interest of restoring furniture.. Modern day new furniture sold are just not appealing...prices are high and we mainly see a lot of MDF furniture that's not durable. 

We found a shop that sells old real wood furniture...some of which they have already restored. We bought an unrestored one...it's ugly for the moment but we can see the beautiful potential of the unit.

this ugly looking armchair got lots of potential to be a well loved, comfy chair

This armchair is just the right size for our need and it's very comfortable...for just 15 pounds we took it home for our new project. My big girl is enjoying this project in between all other things she does.

sanding wood furniture using sandpaper and hand power!

We sanded it down and will soon repaint it and reupholster it. I hope this will get us going to many more beautiful furniture projects and be successful with it.

a bed side table on the list of 'work-in-progress'.

We also got a pair of bedside tables...this too will be restored. I will show you the outcome of these projects later on. For the moment we have a lot of work on hand...as we work to make some beautiful pieces of furniture to use in our new apartment.

pan fried dumplings with chives and egg fillings, we call this 'he-zi' in Chinese

Work makes us hungry...thus, we're craving for lots of food calories. So this week, we had pan fried dumplings with egg and chives fillings. They're so good...I must make some more soon:)

unleaven crispy flat bread made of flour, a bit of salt mix with hot water, then, sprinkled with chives

My little girl is engrossed with making very crispy fried chives flat bread. She rolls the dough so thinly that it is better than any packet of crisp. I'm just as happy as she is whenever she ask me if she can make some more of this...a few times a week!!

Eating and working...or is it working and eating? Ah, life couldn't be better than this:) Hope you are also enjoying each day where you are!

Yours

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Her first ever salary

Dear Family & Friends

Life is a long journey. We must therefore start it right. We are never afraid of teaching our two girls to work...age is never an excuse. Their job experience started at home. Neither of them gets monetary payment for what they do...they themselves would be horrified to extract money from their own parents for cleaning the toilet!! We all feel responsible for each other within our little family.

life is a journey

From time to time, I wonder whether it was right that I stopped working for salary to take full care of our little family ever since our first born arrived. Training the two girls was our top priority investment and I know it was the best thing I've ever done. From early baby days, it just got better and better as they progress to teen years ..with training, they have become pure blessings:)

taking time to ponder on things from time to time

Our little girl is under her father's work apprenticeship. She prepares English lesson plan each week to teach a little girl just a year younger than her. Then, immediately after their lesson, she prepares the lesson report for her student and her parents...plus of course a reference for herself and as her report  to her father. She does this diligently in exchange for a beehive. 

Sadly we recently lost the hard earned 'bee family' due to attack by another colony. The student's family were just as devastated as we are. They didn't want that our little girl ended up with nothing for the teachings and help she gave them the past months.

Family are there for each other - at all time.

Should opportunity arises again, they promised to try and get us another bee family. But this time they proposed to pay money in exchange for language lessons. My little girl was not expecting this...but since the parents of the student and the student herself is happy with the progress...the proposal was accepted. This is my little girl's first ever paid job - her salary!

With her salary she is planning to buy herself a sewing machine. She is keen on fashion design and is presently teaching herself how to sew. I'm proud of her work ethics...and I'm glad that as parents, we never robbed them of opportunities to love working even from when they were little. 


All sorts of life beneath the surface of  the sea water

Not all work ends up being paid with money...but money is not everything to aim for. I work every single day at home...but never get paid...not even a single penny...yet,  I am so rich and blessed:)

Wishing you all blessings too:)

Yours

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The doorbell

Dear Family & Friends

Our door doesn't have doorbell...so you can't really blame me if you knock and I never come to answer...specially if I'm so engrossed gardening!! Ah... but it is very frustrating for the one who knocks!! So we must put a doorbell...so the old ears can hear better.

Where's the doorbell?

An electric doorbell for a village house doesn't seem appealing to me...I wanted one of those manual pull the string bells... DING DONG, DING DONG!!

this door needs a bell along with a happy homemade heart made of lavender stems

I specially like the sound of those ringing bells that they hanging on sheep and cows in the pasture...I thought I could make use of those as we can easily get them here from a weekend outdoor market.

A close up photo of this cute little bell

So, this week we found and bought one - a metal bell for a doorbell!! We have yet to hang it properly with a pulley string...but I will leave that to the man of the house to sort out how he's going to work it out...For the moment, I know that we would soon have a doorbell:) This one would say...Klink Klank instead of Ding Dong...but its just as good!

Ring the bell of joy! From our house to yours, I'm sending you lots of joy:)

Yours

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Work is about to start

Dear Family & Friends

We finally got the keys to the apartment and it seems like every other apartments in our building have workers already doing the interiors (new apartment are sold at it's very basic over here, and all interior works are the owner's responsibility). It's interesting to peep in and see their layout because everyone got different styles and apartment sizes. Ours is only very small and we are doing the interiors ourselves. No, not envious...we're happy with our allotment as it is and are looking forward to all necessary work!

Another visit to check the apartment progress

This week, we started measuring the floor area so that we can get and calculate the materials we need to make it homey, like the floor and wall tiles, and other essential units and fixtures.

measuring every little space we've got

Because it's only a small apartment, we have to be very careful on how to make use of the space. Everything must conform to the size of the area... Oh, not so easy when you're given a set of limitation!!

measuring the length to hang a possible light fixture

Somebody is taking his time inside the bare apartment, so the girls went and explored the communal corridor. They saw a tall metal ladder leading to a roof window on the floor above us. They're not sure what it is for....I told them that because it is an apartment, there's no chimney for Santa Claus to come down to, and so the builders built one of this form instead.

the long metal ladder that leads to a roof window

Yeah, do you think the two teenagers took my story? They never even believed in Santa Claus when they were wee toddlers!! HA! HA! Anyway, I'm just reminded of the the time going very fast. The cool autumn season has already started over here...and yes, soon it will be the holiday season once again. YIKES! We must make good use of our time.

Wishing you a productive - with lots of good time this week.

Yours

Friday, 14 October 2016

sad and happy notes this week

Dear Family & Friends

We have two beehives that are living in the garden of our neighbour. This village grandfather gathered a bee family for our empty hives in Spring as payment for the English language teaching that my little girl is giving to his granddaughter. He have been looking after the hives all summer till they are strong enough to hand over to us.

our beehive faced attack from other bees :( sad...so very sad:(

But this week, he had a dilemma... his existing strong bee hives start attacking our beehive for the honey that he gave to our bees to strengthen them a bit more. It was an emergency situation. We were called to take our hive back to our garden till situation settles in.  Unfortunately, I think our beehive became the casualty...I'm afraid we lost our bee family. It was very sad for us:(


the beehives of our village grandfather - who looks after our bee along side his

On a happy note...  autumn in a village life means harvest time. Most of our neighbours plant vast quantities of fruits and veggies that they enjoy like tomatoes, sweet pepper and potatoes.They are not adventurous with various veggies...but they are so good in growing what they grow every year!  So, we become the yearly beneficiary during harvest time. 

This week I have to suddenly process buckets upon buckets of sweet peppers, grapes, apples etc... that were passed on to us from various neighbors...sometimes, I wonder whether I really need to grow these myself...because when they come in...they really come in torrent! We are so blessed with extremely generous people over here:) People generally think the people here are poor, in fact they are very rich and the most giving people we know of in this world!


A big bucket of eating grapes from our neighbor

We never buy commercial convenient food such as pre-washed veggies, although we do have this version of homemade convenient food in our freezer. I must admit that after cleaning, washing, chopping every individual fruits and veggies almost all afternoon...I'm shuttered. But then, I have prepacked portions upon portions of them to be used for the many hot meals I'll be cooking for the family in the coming months. Most of all, I know that my convenient food are cleaned and prepared the way I want them...no secret surprises!

Now it's time for me to have a little R&R...it's been a long day. Hope you have a blessed day ahead of you too.

Yours