Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Another gardening year

Dear Family & Friends

Our spring this year seems to drag on longer with it's cool spell. So that so, my seedlings in pots are taking it's time with it's growth and I'm getting impatient as I want them to be transplanted sooner than later onto my veggie garden.

the gardener's hat on pole while the gardener is taking a short break

The sun shines and is warm during the day, but at night it can still be a bit cool. While many of the plants seems to be on steroid with their growth, other more heat loving ones just refuse to speed up.

the sun shines on

As this impatient gardener doesn't like to waste time, I've decided to subdivide my globe artichoke for the purpose of multiplying it. So this day I went with my division and multiplication system.

4 years ago, I started with 6 seeds to grow my first globe artichoke. From then on, I kept propagating it as it's a nice and elegant perennial plant that can withstand our winter and produces edible beautiful flowers too. This year, I finally got 30 plants in total. It should be enough from now on.

newly propagated globe artichoke - they will settle on soon:)

There so much to do in the garden at the moment, but each year I cover each space and gradually I am getting there. I feel I am achieving and I'm happy with all the work there is.

Hope you are having a happy day too.


Friday, 17 May 2019

Creative fun food this week

Dear Family & Friends

Here are some of the creative and fun food that came out of our home kitchen the past weeks. Some done by my assistant two chefs, my ever reliable girls, who loves creative cooking and eating... oh...they just enjoying everything that they do...including work - without any complain ever:)

I really can't remember what this above serving was made of...all I know it was delicious and done specially for me by my little girl:)

This bowl of rice brought great joy to my big girl's day. As you can see, it was nothing special, just some steamed rice, with sunny side up eggs and a vegetarian terriyaki side dish in it.

We called this a mini pan fried salami pizza - it was cooked very quickly...quicker than any pizza in town:)

Everything is done so simply in our little home. The best thing is that in whatever little and insignificant way, we all see the great joy out of it.

Life is about enjoying every little thing, including the routine of eating meals every day. We're grateful there's always food to nourish us, no matter how simple it is. Enjoy each of your day too:)


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Starting my tiny balcony garden

Dear Family & Friends

In our village home, my garden is sometimes too big for little me...but in our city apartment we only have a very tiny balcony gardening space. Making me think I am BIG :P.  The balcony garden is nice and sunny yet there's nothing much that I could think of growing that would not demand much responsibility as I don't go there often enough.

our tiny balcony garden in our apartment

The balcony area is open yet under cover. If I want to call it a balcony garden I must at least grow some greenery to soothe the eye. I've decided for now that I will grow succulents as they don't require much watering and care. At the far end of the balcony, I'm trying my best to grow a quick climbing perennial plant to give a bit of pivacy to our little space.

tiny but a perfectly nice sunny spot and under cover too:)

So that's our apartment tiny garden to start with for now:) It's a no work garden but you know my village garden is a never ending pottering area in comparison. Gardening gets us going - it's a happy therapy in life:) we must have a garden of some sort as much as possible:)

Enjoy your day too.


Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Sting nettle vs Stingless nettle plants

Dear Family & Friends

Last time, I wrote about nettle soup. This time, I want to introduce you a bit of this nettle weeds that we have in our garden. There's two kinds of nettle plants that I allow to grow: both spring time food - one is loved my the bees and the other by the humans:)

sting nettles - they are edible weeds

Our family eats the new growth of 'stinging nettle' in spring time. Mainly as soup because that's all I know how to cook it. Once the plant because old, the leaves gets tough and it's not so nice to consume anymore. By then, this plant becomes food for certain garden butterflies who loves it too. I also use this plant to make natural liquid fertilizer for my garden plants by soaking it to compost in water before use. As you can see, this stinging nettle is a very versatile plant.

stingless nettle or known as dead nettles

The other nettle plant we allow to grow in our garden is the self seeded 'dead nettle' plant. This is an early food source for the bees. The bees really loves the nectar of these flowers. It's a nettle plant but it doesn't have the sting when you touch them. Once the bees finish with this plant, I simply chop and drop them in the garden to nourish and enrich the soil.

varigated vinca

It sounds like we just have nettles growing in the garden...well not so, because for the moment I'm also enjoying the rampant growth of the vinca plants and a lot more...because spring time makes every plants happy. Hope you're having a happy day too:)


Thursday, 2 May 2019

We eat weeds - the nettle soup

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family have developed a more refined taste over the years. I asked them if they fancy a spinach soup or a sting nettle soup - its kind of a silly question because I already knew what they would answer - only the very best, when it comes to making choices!

super green nettle soup on offer in our kitchen only in spring time

If you haven't tried nettle soup, it's about time. Nettle are considered most dreaded weeds - they sting your skin with their hairy stems/leaves, and it hurts. But I still grow them in my garden because they taste delicious - something like spinach, only better:)

clean organic stinging nettles in our garden for a nutricious soup ingredients

It's a perennial plant and in spring time it's the best time to enjoy them as they start their new growth. With a few chopped up potatoes, sautee it with herbs of your choice till the potatoes cook, then add a big bunch of young nettle shoots and top up with boiling water or chicken stock. That's quick nutricious soup all done. My girls like it a bit pureed with immersion blender afterwards. 

so much tarragon and parsley growing in just this little area

With the nettle soup, you can sprinkle some black pepper and add extra virgin olive oil. This makes it more delicious. Green soup don't stay long in our kitchen - not a drop gets left in the pan either - and nettle soup is only on offer in spring time!

There's just so much good food found in the nooks and crannies of our home garden - I love that we learned to enjoy eating weeds and you actually can't buy them from any shop/supermarket. Got to let weeds grow too! Enjoy your day.


Saturday, 27 April 2019

Perfect everyday

Dear Family & Friends

Everyday seems to be a perfect day over here. I love to live in the garden all day long if at all possible. With the 42 fruit trees planted in our garden and each one of them are coming back to life after their winter hibernation, it's simply a beautiful sight to watch:) The bees are as happy as I am.

perfect blue sky

Inside our home is just as happy place as it is in the garden. My little family are busy with their individual works and they are all taking the challenges before them with joy. I am truly blessed indeed. In days like these, I just keep on sowing seeds and propagating plants everywhere to keep my garden soil well covered later on. I suspect it will be a long hot summer ahead...yikes!

blossoms and new leaves: all promising new life and new hope 

I'm predicting I will have so much excess food harvest to feed an army in a couple of months to come too. Since there's only four of us in our family and our whole village is as rich in their yearly food abundance, I'm hoping to share our excess to strangers living in the city this year. Share it with anybody who would accept our garden food offer. It would be an interesting thing to do : to distribute fresh organic food for free in a car parking area near our city apartment. We will see if my plan will materialize... I'll work on it and will let you know.

For now, I must get back to my work - my happy work outside on a perfect day. Hope you do the same too and enjoy your day.


Monday, 22 April 2019

The sight and sound in our garden

Dear Family & Friends

There's no air traffic control in our garden, but all flying garden residents and visitors alike seems to manage well. It's just one very busy and noisy garden for the moment with so many species of birds, bees and butterflies, plus a host of other garden friends enjoying spring time.

The flowers on our fruit trees are all giving their best, one after another. All calling the attention of the pollinators.

There's definitely plenty of food for our honey bees, as well as other species of bees around. I just love the thought that they can all get their food/nectar from our garden without any harm of chemical spray.

Besides the spring blossoms from our fruit trees, there's also lots of random self seeded flowers and plants on the ground as food source variety on the menu for all the insects and wild life too:)

To watch all the frenzy activities going on our our garden is just pure joy. The noise is intense and a happy one.

apple blossom

I could stay in the garden all day long to enjoy the sight and sound, but alas, I've got to get back inside the kitchen to cook our family meal...but tomorrow is another day to look forward to once again. I hope you are having good time jut as I am. Enjoy your day.


Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Untidy garden is a must

Dear Family & Friends

In our home, I like to recycle as much as possible. It concerns me when I think how much we fill our bins with our everyday waste. So, I gather all paper packaging like egg cartons and shred it to reuse as mulch for my garden. This enriches my soil, at the same time, it also saves water moisture content for a healthy garden.

I shred and recycle paper, cardboards to use as mulch for my garden

The last thing I want is a bare, clean, tidy garden. What we humans perceive as tidy, organized and orderly,  is to nature and natural beings: barren, bleak and inhospitable place.

It's not easy to see but there's goji berry plant propagated and growing where I placed mulch

What I understand my garden environment needs is a lumpy texture with lots of niches and habitat for all sots of creatures to live in or to eat from, and with building materials for their nesting homes including our soil which is made up of live microbes that sustains our plants - including our food sources too.

this long row consist of about a dozen of young goji berry - I need to keep them moist at this time and mulching helps.

As our growing season is here, I'm very busy mulching our garden with recycled materials which eventually is enriching my soil for free. It looks unsightly at first, but eventually the plants grows to cover the mulch that's surrounds their roots and in a few weeks the mulch will decompose and enriches the soil too. 

How's your gardening? Hope you are enjoying a garden too:)


Friday, 12 April 2019

Drawing faces

Dear Family & Friends

I'm one frustrated artist but I'm still not giving up. I always wanted to draw, but drawing people are my worst drawing skill for a subject.

pencil colour sketch of a fantasy girl

Be it a fantasy face...No, it turns out to be a scary portrait!!

my first attempt of drawing a man's face via real sit in model during my children's art class session

Be it a real model sketching which I secretly did, during one of the art session of my daughters, where everyone was busy sketching this middle age male model...that too, turned into a scary art portrait!!

another portrait of a man but this is a dual work between me and my then 8 years old daughter

Then, with the help of my then 8 years old daughter, this portrait of another man turned out better...but I think that was not really a credit to me.

my first house sketch - just using free ikea stubby pencil...will do better next time:)

So recently, I decided that I turn my interest into drawing house structures instead. I'm lovin it and I think this is what I want to focus on from this time onwards. I don't have the right ink pen to use for the moment, but I plan to get one as a special treat the next time I pop in town to an art shop.

There's so much to do each day but sometimes there's so little time to fit everything in. Nonetheless we just have to take each day at a time. Hope you have a lovely day and week too.


Sunday, 7 April 2019

We can just pick food for free

Dear family & Friends

We have no excuse why we can't address our need for food. We have no excuse in saying that vegetable these days are getting expensive so we sacrifice and budget on those things. For it is possible to enjoy vegetables without the need to buy. We can pick food for free.

flowers, veggies and herbs all packly grown in this garden area
Vegetables can be grown in containers, including recycled containers, even when you got no garden. We can afford to eat vegetables that will improve our health and save us medical bills. Perhaps we can only manage to grow little with our given space, but being able to grow our own organic food is better than none. The benefit is great and we must start and try at some point. Who knows what opportunity will open up afterwards:)

Our spring growing season is now here. Busy as it could be, there's nothing better than to grow and fill every nooks and crannies with all sorts of plants in the garden. It gets better each year too. Hope you are enjoying your garden too.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

The burger weekend

Dear Family & Friends

In our home, everyone is engrossed with their individual work, joyfully doing what they do:)  We all have dreams, though not all of them are achieved yet, but we keep making plans and moving forward to reach the goal.

Success isn't always measured in whether or not you have met all your life goals, sometimes, it just means having them in the first place, and refusing to give up. As long as you are always having a hope, always moving forward and taking chances, and steps to achieve it..

this homemade burger filled me up to the bream!

Thus, last weekend I made it a burger weekend just to spice our simple life. It's nothing special, but it's something that we don't often do in our home...(in terms of eating burger, that is. LOL)...yet it brought in smiles.

some of us can manage two burgers...

My week was filled with grateful thoughts. I give God the constant glory for keeping and guiding my little family. Training our girls is paying off but I don't rest in the laurel, after all it is a  parents' mandate. Let's live for what today has in store and always look forward to tomorrow. 

Hope you enjoy your day and the morrow too:)


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Mini tomato snack assortment

Dear Family & Friends

I saw this product sold in the supermarket last year. It's nothing special except that they package it nicely as assortment of mini tomatoes handy for snacking. I'm all for healthy snack, but it was a bit pricey for a handful of mini tomatoes. I could never make myself pay for that...but perhaps it's the novelty idea.

very expensive mini tomato snack assortment sold in supermarket

This year, I'm reminded about it and so I'm growing a lot of mini tomato variety in my garden. I have been growing a few variety of tomatoes for years and we have a particular very sweet one which we like a lot as it taste more like grapes than a tomato. Various colors of mini tomatoes is also very attractive.

I'm challenging myself to come up with better assortment of snack tomato like ones sold in supermarket. Perhaps I can sell them for people to enjoy without paying such high price. Let's see what I could do with my challenge this year.

By this time, I've already sown seeds and planned for my spring garden. It's an exciting season to look forward to and I hope you are also excited with what's ahead too:)


Saturday, 23 March 2019

New favorite: the apricot tree blossom

Dear Family & Friends

Sometimes it feels like spring has arrived, other times the wind chill brings about some doubts. This causes me to be as pickled minded as the weather. Should I start my gardening fun or shall I delay it a bit further on before I do my frenzie seed sowing? 

an apricot tree waking up for springtime with its blossom

As I look around, I know some of our fruit trees are already telling me that spring is now here. My two Apricot trees has already put out their white flower petals with a matching red base that was once a bud covering, and is now cupping the white bloom.

just look at these two tiny flowers that popped out of the main tree trunk

Fruit tree blossoms are so beautiful and uniquely intriguing! Some of our fruit trees put out the flowers on their bare tree branches before putting out any leaves as a sign that they are now awaken from their long hibernation mode. Others would put leaves buds first and along comes the blossoms. Yet, there's other fruit trees that puts no flowers at all,  but will produce fruits nonetheless, as the case with fig trees.

the shiny red tinted tree branch is another beauty bonus

Several species of fruit trees in our garden brings out their own characteristic and beauty as spring times arrives. With great joy, we appreciate each of them - designed and created so beautiful in their ways by the Maker! It's all genius to me and every year I stand amazed:)

Hope you are having an amazing day too:)


Monday, 18 March 2019

My happy book

Dear Family & Friends

While waiting for the winter season to passby... I decided to have a look at my happy book. I haven't opened this pad for a couple of years, and it brought back memories of the things I did in the past.

my sketch book is called 'happy book'

There's not many things to see in my happy book because it has yet to be filled up whenever I can get my hand on it.

my happy book contains a few drawing/artwork in it

Inside, there's a few drawings I did in the past: some nice, and some not so nice. but it's all an amateur artwork.

a visiting guest also contributed an art drawing in my happy book

A couple of drawings in my happy book are done by a visiting little daughter. It certainly brought some smiles as I go over the pages looking at some of the artworks:)

Time is an interesting aspect of life. The past and the future...but I do enjoy the present time, and always aims to make the most out of it. Hope you are enjoy your day everyday too.


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

What to do with Jerusalem artichoke

Dear Family & Friends

Last week I wrote about Jerusalem Artichoke as one of our winter crop found in our garden. This root crop looks like ginger, but it's more of a healthy potato alternative for diabetic people. So, it can be cooked and used just as you would with a potato.

Although, this plant is so much easier to grow and store than potatoes in my opinion. It doesn't get attacked by pest, it produce a beautiful sunflower like flowers in the summer, and we only harvest the roots to eat by leaving it buried in the ground and stays fresh all throughout the winter.

This is Jerusalem Artichoke that's cooked and eaten more like you would a potato
Jerusalem Artichoke is also known as sunchoke. I cook them in stew dishes, or incorporate it with rice risotto. I enclose another recipe that I do with it and it is a delicious one to make too:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs small Jerusalem artichoke, scrubbed and quartered
salt and back pepper
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in large skillet. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stir occasionally until Jerusalem artichoke are fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.

uncover skillet and cook till water evaporates and Jerusalem artichokes begin to brown and crisp, about another 8-10 minutes. transfer to a platter.

add rosemary and butter to skillet and cook till butter foams. about 4 minutes. Remove from the fire and add the balsamic vinegar. Pour this brown sauce over the cooked Jerusalem artichoke. Enjoy.

We are enjoying our weather here as if early spring has already arrived. Hope you are having a nice day too.