Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dilema of the elderly folks

Dear Family & Friends

It started yesterday when my little girl asked her big sister to delivered her freshly baked half loaf of bread to our next door neighbour. So big sister walked over to their main gate and saw the 93 years old grandmother sitting by the door. As she hand over the bread, the grandmother started crying. She said: 'I now can't see much. I can't walk properly since I broke my hips 10 years ago, and I can't hear clearly either. The only thing I still have is my mind.' My girl told her: 'It's OK grandma, I can still speak to you - close to your ears, so you can hear me.'

our local village grandmothers

How lonely it must be for this elderly grandmother:(

Today whilst in our garden, my girl is more sensitive to the grandma's dilemma. She heard the grandmother crying aloud, calling: 'where is everybody?' She got her son and his wife living and taking care of her in that house, but during the day, they are involved in their daily works. So, my girl felt compelled to check her out if she is OK, but noticed that there's actually someone there with her.

in a quiet world

Probably, she felt lost and very alone in her own world without her sense of hearing and sight:( Or perhaps, as my girl says, she's also losing her mind because she cries everyday. Sad as it might be, but at least she is under the care of her faithful and loyal family.

The journey of life can sometimes be tough. Somehow, I'm pleased that the girls have the opportunity to see and feel this aspect of living in a real world scenario around them. They understand compassion for fellow humans and knows the importance of showing them dignity and honour.

But let's not forget to look to some positive bright side of living too. Have a good day.

Yours

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Old ladies do dream dreams

Dear Family & Friends

My big girl came back home after her cycling exercise around the village. As usual, she encounters people to chat along the way. Don't tell me she has no social skill being a home-schooler... for she is very capable of talking to old and aging folks, little tyrant toddlers, mid agers and teenagers alike...in the foreign languages that she is equipped with! ..in both local and overseas situations. Yet, when you look at her...she is a quiet sort of girl.


my perception of what my neighbor thought I look like....


Today we had good laugh together as she relay me about a conversation she just had with a local village grandmother. The grandmother told her that she dreamed about me last night - although, she says, she have never seen me before. Now, that's what we call real dream:D  I wonder what I look like in her dream?? Yes, old people still dream dreams:) I'm no exception!


one exotic beauty ... I hope? !

Well, it seems like summer is chilling out a bit as we face the end of season. We enjoyed a few T-storm with a bit of rain that helped me out with my watering the garden chore. I'm grateful because then, I use some of that time catching up with my sewing craft project.

Before summer is over... we dream of taking our usual short family holiday break. There's lots of choices to go for. Our CEO is working it all out for us:)

Hope for dreams... it's good to dream dreams:)

Yours

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Make haste wisely

Dear Family & Friends

It helps to rehearse my day's work by writing it all down before hand. This helps me accomplish and reach some daily goals. because... there are certain days when it seems like the hours in the day is just not enough...sometimes it's my energy level that is not enough. 


my yo yo floor rug is getting bigger

Without planning, it's most likely that some projects I started will never get to finish. I've been working on sewing multicoloured yo-yos with hope that I could clear up recycled scrap materials and end up with a beautiful floor rug too. This is done only when I get in between free time. 

everyday there's meals to eat

With a family to look after, there's always home cooked meals that has to be prepared every day...then  the clearing up etc. Just the every day thing that you do in a home easily fills the time.

the garden hose in the garden is my constant company

With most days pretty sunny.... the garden often wants some drink too. Certain part of our garden which I have to water manually with garden hose. It does take a while.

canning good food ... all will be consumed before then.

Then, there's always the chore of canning and preserving the produce that we get out of our garden at this time of the year. The preparation, cleaning and processing does take time too. 


garden harvest, chop, wash and getting it ready for the freezer

With some reliable kitchen gadget like the slow cooker - it helps as long as I organize myself. I've learned to take advantage of it for the cooking process. I then don't have the need to watch it boil over or get burned. While it is cooking slowly, I can do other chore freely. I prefer making ready made food and freeze them for later use. The hard work now means I won't have to do them later.

tomato quiche - quick and easy:)

This week was all about preserving tomatoes. Made a lot of tomato sauces for pasta and stew..I'll sent some to our city apartment freezer for when the girls stay there, they can just defrost and have homemade ready food to eat. Bottled chutneys to accompany sandwiches or as side dish for later on. Even just having precut and washed veggies in the freezer is always a help as prepping before cooking all takes time.

While I feel energized with the weather cooling down... I make haste. ...yes, there's a lot of 'slow cooked meat stew' which I like to do... I prefer to have cooked meat stored in the freezer than raw meat...that's just my quirky ways...and it all helps my day's planning.

Life is perhaps mundane and filled with everyday chores...but it is good. Hope yours is keeping you challenged in good way too.

Yours

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Fruits for the sweet tooth

Dear Family & Friends

We all like sweet food in this little home...specially fruits. I think most people do. We seldom buy fruits, except for watermelon which is so cheap in summer season. Otherwise, fruits can be expensive to buy in the quantity that we eat! As we grow them in our garden, it's a great money saver for us and when the season arrives, we can have them to our hearts content. Guaranteed organic too!

gooseberries are long gone..like most berries, they're garden snacks only

We only eat fresh fruits when it's season dictates. That's when it taste the best with full flavour of what it really is. Most of our fruit trees, shrubs and vines are still young, so it's not giving us great big quantity but definitely enough for us because the variety comes in succession. Some extra can be frozen for cooking and baking use later in the year, if any.


it's rare to see grapes displayed in our kitchen coz it's usually eaten from the vines!!

Sometimes, some fruit varieties never even reach our kitchen table....it's being snacked right from the garden source!

a better fruit peach yield this year - but eating so much gives a sour tummy

Fruits always taste good in the beginning...but as it comes in torrent, it loses it's magic appeal. Mostly because some fruits are acidic, that with much consumption- it sours one's stomach. So, it pays not to be too greedy.

our figs just loves to snag on our garden walls.

The one fruit tree that we all like and could consume a lot is Figs! It's very sweet and not acidic unlike most fruits. Not many homes in our village grows them.They are limited edition because they say it is not as easy going as other fruit trees. It grows and propagates easily but it needs shelter from the wind and our severe winter temperature, to survive. But as our garden is surrounded by walls...it works well with us and so I got carried away with my planting of at least a dozen of them on every wall area - with no regret:)

Almost half of them are now matured enough to give us figs...This year, it looks like there's more fruits...I hope I could have spare to make some dried fruits out of it. Dried figs taste much sweeter and it's the best snack ever! We occasionally buy them from shops but I think it is better if we make them ourselves. It will be cheaper and cleaner food for the body too.

If you've got space in the garden....it's really a good idea to grow fruit trees, shrubs or vines. There's nothing better than a fruitful garden:) Hope you are enjoying your garden too!

Yours

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

This year's summer is intense

Dear Family & Friends

It's one crazy summer this year. We had longer spell of heat wave (up to 43C outside under the sun!) which causes a lot of T-storm. Some of my poor pepper plants just start curling up their leaves. I water the garden non-stop and am so grateful that we have two underground water well in the garden and some summer sporadic rainfall to draw water from:)

wind blows fiercely bringing in sudden dark clouds - T-storm.

The garden insects seems to be busy as usual...I don't think they are bothered with the heat...for as long as there's flower nectar to gather. My mint bushes and calendula are keeping them all very happy at this point.

the garden friends seems happier when it's hot

In Bulgaria, tomato plants seem to grow without care. My own tomatoes plants have never been given much attention this year...I meant to tie them up as they grow, pinch the side shoots etc... but with the intense heat, I just couldn't physically afford to stay out there to do all these jobs...so they grow messy but still giving us lots of fruits. If I'm this successful, you can just imagine how our neighbours are doing with theirs. They grow theirs better than we do.

just one of these tomatoes is already an equivalent of two tin canned tomatoes sold in supermarket!

So, we end up with tons of tomatoes coming from everywhere...our garden, our neighbours' garden. I've freeze them for later use, but the freezer is now full. I have to start processing and canning them because I don't know what else I could do with them. So, there will be tomato jam, tomato sauce and I'll probably try tomato ketchup and dehydrating some of my cherry tomatoes for snacks.

another bowl of  raw food - called salad

Sometimes I do get overwhelmed with processing tomatoes, although it is coming out of our ears but I must remain grateful...eating seasonal food is for a reason...God knows why tomato has to be abundant for us during the summer season...but He also gave us extra to have them for later too.

You know what we are having for lunch? A piece of freshly baked bread with slices of juicy tomatoes and basil leaves, plus a drizzle of good olive oil...No heavy meals for us during summer season. We just get too lazy to eat these days ..tis the season for fruits and lots of liquid intake. 

Hope you're making the most out of your season where you are too.

Yours

Friday, 1 September 2017

our little forest garden

Dear Family & Friends,

With the long summer heat wave this year, plus crazy short T-storms in between that only brings humidity but not enough rain water, our garden is still covered with all sort of plants - including weeds! At least it is not brown and bare...and every plants acts as protection for the microbes in the soil and garden insects. It also form some needed shades for us too:) We have a forest garden.

our forest garden

Forest garden is diverse planting of different layers of canopy trees, shrubs and layers of understory plants. It's a mixture of everything edibles both for humans and the ecology. With all sorts of plant variation in one place, it could look beautiful - or to others untidy. But remember tidiness in the garden costs a lot of energy...of which is not necessary.

underneath fruit trees are other beneficial shrubs

We plant trees and surrounding it we also planted shrubs, herbs and ground cover plants - all useful species - edible or for medicinal purpose. There's plants for pollinator to up the garden's productivity. There's nitrogen fixer plants for the health of our soil, and we plant plants for structure as well.

this is an earlier photo around May...it was already looking chaotic...months on - worse!

At present, most of our fruit trees are still young but we are already starting to reap the reward of our investment, specially those that we planted five years ago.  We have variety of fruits ripening on timeline.
plants are all happy crowding each other...to the benefit of the garden friends

We have been having peaches to eat on daily basis. The figs are ready next. Then, the grapes, pear, apples, and last, the quince. They ripen in stages according to their variety till almost to the end of the year! We planted a few more variety of other fruit trees, the last couple of years.... they will eventually add to the fruitfulness of our garden later on.


on closer look.... this is just one of our happy garden friend:)
Planting fruit trees is one passive income that you can earn from....specially when fruit prices these days are getting more and more expensive to buy. Money that you save, is money earned!

Wishing you a good week:)

Yours

Monday, 28 August 2017

Growing in unity

Dear Family & Friends

Every day is party time in our little home....that is...when we can set some free moments. Everyone of us seems to be busy with our individual responsibilities. We all stay at home together and we all work from home...doing paid jobs or non-paid jobs. It's a good thing as it keeps us out of trouble:)  

little party time

The girls used to play with many little toy collections...but gone are those days. They have grown  out of it:( These days, they prefer working at anytime...and they are just as happy. Responsibilities in life makes everyone feel valuable and able!

little assortment of toys the girls used to play with lots of imagination

Today, I felt a bit sad when my girl shared about a village girlfriend who comes with them to the scout group, a few years back...This girlfriend is now hoping for a 'chef' career opportunity but finds it hard to land a job even as a hired helper in the kitchen:( I feel helpless to hear about this kind of situation.

I'm a firm believer that if at all possible, it is best to aim to be an entrepreneur rather than be employed by others... I can't be responsible for every child in the world...but I do feel that every children needs the guidance of the parents in life, so they can stand with confidence in their life's journey. 

Growing the family in unity is utmost important for a successful individual. Falling out with each other - specially with family, friends, or neighbours...is just plain bad idea. You can avoid people if you don't agree with each other but never fall out.

Well, hope you enjoy a lovely day today and the whole week too:)

Yours

Thursday, 24 August 2017

mother & daughter wrap invention

Dear Family & Friends

My little girl and I are very good kitchen partners. I don't enjoy long drone out process of preparing meals but she doesn't mind. I don't enjoy cooking when the weather is hot but she doesn't mind. She is just a joyful Kitchen chef...no complain whatsoever. 

mother & daughter's salad wrap

I don't take advantage of her but I do feel guilty that she would cook a meal for the family without winching. So today I told her that we will create a new meal invention - together:) Neither of us uses recipe in our kitchen...it's all based on what we think it should be. Anyway, our kitchen is never equip with all the ingredients listed in cookbook recipes...so we never bother to conform with it:)

files of crepe wrap courtesy of my little girl

As she enjoys cooking, I gave her the more difficult task. I told her to come up with the most delicious crepe for a savory dish. and she did. It's so soft, pliable and taste so delicious too! For ingredients, she used flour, salt, kefir, egg and a chopped chives. Mixed to crepe batter consistency. 

my cucumber, tomato, garlic and basil salad

On the other hand, I did the filler for the wrap...maybe we can call it vegetarian popiah or lumpia or spring rolls. ...only...it doesn't not involve any cooking. I just chop tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and basil. Together it was mixed with olive oil, vinegar, salt and sugar. Nothing complicated:)

a wrap & a salad mix is a good combination

With our twin effort...it was a meal to remember all week. We all wanted more than 3 rolls each but that was all we had:(  oh.... I'm sure there's more to come in the days ahead.

our veggie salad roll

If you entrust home chores to children at a very early age.... you can also share the joy of their being more responsible in life as they grow up. My girl is now very capable in the kitchen....she is at a stage where she can give any dish a twist with success and confidence:) 

Ah...I feel so blessed with my little family... God is good and I'm forever grateful:) Hope you have a blessed day too:)

Yours

Sunday, 20 August 2017

A work - life- balance

Dear Family & Friends

It's Sunday, our family weekend rest day! As usual, we have time together to share God's Word, we pray together as a family and we also share practical encouragements and discuss plans for the week to come. For the rest of the day, we have our rest and relaxation time.

It's hamburger weekend in our home:)

We're not really big meat eaters and every vegetarian dish is preferred by most. As we have plenty of time on hand, we decided to do a hamburger day. I'm not so keen on grilling outdoors as flies get excited by it all too! Nah!..so, it's a once in a while thing that we do here.

Most of us enjoyed this casual food...but I still prefer my veggie with rice!

Having a relaxing day as a family even just once a week is vital and fun for unity. Mind you, our family is always together...not a bad thing because we do enjoy each other's company.



a before photo of the apartment toilet that's been worked on for months on end

Yesterday, being Saturday, we were all out in our city apartment. Each one doing his/her share of job. I've been blogging about this project and up to now, we're still working on it. Not a big project, but we try not to be stressed about it....we work according to what we can do. As we always say: we're almost there!

an after photo, as of yesterday...Almost there. Just need grouting and fixing in new sanitary fixtures

There's always some sort of project that keeps us going. When the apartment is finished...we think there's the village home kitchen rennovation to do next... it needs one. Then, perhaps work on the idea of putting a front porch, etc.... yikes, our list could go on and on! Again, we will take things as it comes...afterall, it's just a project to keep us going in life:)

a white subway wall tile and a mediterrenean design floor tile, all yet to be grouted ...it'll be nice:)

Week by week... work is important for us. It's part of our life. We are called to work... if we are to eat, we have to work. Remember that work is also fun:) Have a happy week!

Yours

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Recipient of a bountiful harvest

Dear Family & Friends

After 2 days of proper rain, we're in for more sunny days. Out in the garden, I can hear neighbours harvesting their garden goods by the wheel borrow loads...sometimes they have to come and borrow ours too, in order to contain their yearly bounty. I also went out to check my garden ..yes they're so over grown...but mostly of weeds;P

two boxes filled with garden harvest from our neighbor this week


Then, over the wall, our next door neighbour was calling us to receive trays of various garden goodies. We're the village's yearly recipient of their bountiful harvest. Sometimes, I think we don't really need to grow any for ourselves because...like it or not...we always get good harvest poured in from various villagers. The gift we receive is more than enough for several meals and I always end up preserving them in quantities too! I'm just growing things for fun...but they grow it the serious way.

just to show you how big these tomato gift we got from next door neighbour!

Our neighbour just feel so joyful in sharing their goods. They say that it all just grow in abundance, a blessing that they just need to share:) They are happy that we are here to receive and enjoy them! So today, we had super fresh veggies for our lunch - all for free! ..and there's more to come:) Life is so rich here and they don't cost a penny.

Hope you stay as blessed as we are:) Have a good day.

Yours

Saturday, 12 August 2017

pickled peaches

Dear Family & Friends

Our two little peach trees are loaded with fruits this year...unfortunately, it didn't occur to us that the tree branch couldn't take the weight. A branch broke and down came about 30 unripen peaches with it:( Next year, we should know better and we will either prop the branch or take out some baby fruits out to avoid branch breakage.

the peach fruit around May this year...and it carried on growing bigger....

The sad thing is that the peaches are a bit rosy by now but not really ready to be eaten. Yet, not all is lost because I realized we could actually pickle these unripen peaches. This is what I did and perhaps you would be interested should you have unripen peaches on hand.

2 pounds fresh peaches (about eight that are hard but with rosy color)
2 cups white rice vinegar (I used ordinary fruit vinegar)
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups cold water

Wash and dry the peaches, do not slice or peel them. In a big jar, put the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. Stir well, then add the peaches. Then, cover the jar tightly and refrigerate for 3 days before using. These peaches will keep in the refrigerator for at least six months.

Any pickled fruit and veggies are always well received in our home. I myself love things that are pickled in vinegar...it's good for the health of a stomach;P Although we lost the possibility of juicy sweet ripe peaches...yet it gave me the opportunity to make this pickle:) There's always good things in everything.

Hope you can try this too.

Yours

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Our Job Needs To Be Efficient

Dear Family & Friends

The two girls are still working for their homeschool certificates, at the same time, they have their share of daily household chores, and they also maintain their part time job which earns them more than the UK's legal minimum wage for their young age, right in our own home! They hold much more responsibility in life than I did when I was their age! Most likely they are more smarter and intelligent than I was, but I do believe that I could take some credit... as I took a great deal of training them at home:) It's all paying off:)

perenial plant -echinea, is not only a beautiful long lasting flower but it is also good for medicinal herbal tea

Guiding and training your own children is most important. That's number one priority in life if you want to have happy, secured, and responsible children. That's my top job priority... all others - secondary. 

As much as I love gardening...yet, I always want to find ways to minimize work...you probably can't take short cut on bringing up children, but you can with gardening:)


this carrot wasn't harvested and it ended up producing beautiful flower and later seeds to grow again

Besides the annual veggies that I grow for our food like tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes etc... I'm gearing towards growing more perennial plants...or ones that would just self seed. I always believe that I should also be able to enjoy the garden, rather than be it's slave.


harvested a vast amount of lavender flowers - great for house scent and potpourri

There's so many beautiful plants that would just take care of itself in the garden with minimum human interference. ... Planting fruit trees is one of them. A job which is done only once - the initial planting...and after a couple of years, most hard work is just the harvesting. If you allow plants to produce seeds and leave them to fall on the ground (like tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens etc...) they will grow themselves. No need to clean up the garden and disturb the soil. Doing so, you 'll find greater joy as nature is very capable of producing great fruitful surprises for you!

I love how our garden is getting more established - the natural way. It's the Head Gardener - up there - that is doing the work....God allows us to benefit the joy of gardening:) Afterall, He designed the garden of Eden right from the beginning! Gardening is His idea:)

Enjoy your day and your garden too!

Yours

Friday, 4 August 2017

Enjoying summer's meal - our way

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family always have good appetite! No one's afraid of carbohydrate because there's always lots of work to do around here that it's all easily burnt up:) I'm number one avid fan of rice...a simple steamed rice with lemon grass  thrown into the rice cooker. It fills the kitchen with good fragrance...

my typical and favourite meal

In summer, the rice cooker deals with the cooking itself. Great for a chef who wants to keep cool and collected. Rice is always great with veggies...either fresh veggie or very quick stir fry. Then, I simply defrost my pre-cooked stew...and there goes a good summer's balanced meal for the family:) - without much work!!

rice sandwich

We can play and be creative with our steamed rice....make them look like a sandwich, which becomes a nice finger morsel food for the summer.

our alternative sushi - yum!

If fed up with rice, my little girl would always volunteer to make her quick creative pancake - savoury or sweet....just place your order. These pancakes cook very quickly too:)

pancake incorporated with fruit or veggies - anything goes - they're good

Otherwise, I have the other big sister, who would just be too happy to go out in the garden and collect fresh veggies for quick salad mix.

summer's typical salad - cucumber and tomatoes - with or without dressing:) 

Dessert can be part of our summer's menu...just approach any fruit tree in the garden and check if they have anything nice that would be available for us to take and enjoy. Usually, our fruit trees are very generous:)

figs are perfect dessert...just take a bite and gather some more from the tree

Summer is the time when you don't want to do much work because the heat can really drain you out....but we still need to eat...and if we need to do that....we can do it the enjoyable way:)

Just to leave a note... This week we had a visit from two policemen in uniform. Where in the world do you get this personal service?! They came by in their car to our house for reason of checking on us...if all is OK. We are known to them as the foreign family living in this village. They left reminding us that if there's any problem, we should know where to call for help. As all is well, we bade each other good day.  Life is good. Hope yours is too. Enjoy your day!

Yours

Monday, 31 July 2017

Homemade plum vinegar

Dear Family & Friends

When our fruit harvest comes...it's not time to complain. It's a blessing! It's free! It's clean healthy food that we all need. But I must prepare to work hard because when they come, they come in torrent! With our present plum harvest, we've been eating them fresh, dehydrated them as dried fruit health snacks.  I've also made a few bottles of 'umeboshi' - a Japanese salted pickled plums - using unripen plums - I will try to write about how I do this - next time.

Processing our plum harvest
For this time, I made some plum vinegar. Vinegar is an amazing product...good for health and for organic safe general cleaning product to use in the house. As always, anything we can make ourselves at home is always superior than what's available in shops. The shop bought vinegar is good to use as cleaning product, but homemade fruit vinegar is best for our health food consumption:)

and other fruits that we gather from the garden.


Here's a simple method of how to make fruit vinegar:

Deseed the plums or roughly chop the fruit you have on hand. (you can use any other fruits too like apple, banana, pineapple etc) and put them all in a  glass jar. For 2 cups of fruits, add 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of sugar to it. Cover it to prevent bugs and dust from getting in and leave it out of direct sunlight to ferment quietly for 2 months. After that time...strain the liquid and you now have healthy vinegar to add to the dishes you make:)

In the process of fermentation, if you see scum forming, don't worry... it is just the cellulose formed by the acetic acid bacteria present in nature and all unpasturized fermented food. It happens when airborne wild yeast starts feeding on the sugar present in the fruit. Yes, there's always bacteria present in the air that we breath...just part of our life whether we want it or not:)

homemade food is the best....but it requires time and effort


Now, there's nothing difficult in making homemade healthy food - is there? Making homemade vinegar is definitely one of them.  I enjoy giving my family the best I could...it always brings joy. Hope you enjoy your family too - with caring and sharing:)

Yours