Thursday, 20 October 2016

The doorbell

Dear Family & Friends

Our door doesn't have 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 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:)


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.


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 :( 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 secret surprises!

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


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Black sea holiday food

Dear Family & Friends

Follow on to last week's post, I'm sharing here some more fun time which added up to our family holiday! Yes, we love eating. There was a big selection of breakfast buffet provided for by the hotel.

A selection of our breakfast buffet
A big choice of continental breakfast:  cereal selection, cold cut meat, eggs, cheeses, bread rolls, fruit and veggie slices. Then, they also included some local breakfast fare consisting of banitsa (puff pastry with salty cheese), fried donuts called mekitsi, olives, and crepes with choices of fruit jam, honey and chocolate spread.  The fun part was the inclusion of cakes and the local baklava dessert, which is made of puff pastry with crushed nuts and honey rolled in with lokum (sweet jelly) was so intensely sweet...and I had that for breakfast as my first choice! YUM...with cups of capuchino! I know I'm being naughty to enjoy dessert for breakfast....but I deserve it.. after all, I was on holiday.

I had dessert for breakfast - but.... I deserve this because I'm on holiday:)
Holiday stroll brought us to meet lots of street food. Not every street food appeals us...but we were drawn to fried fishes. It's natural to conclude that they get their fishes fresh from the bounty of the Black Sea because fishermen's boats line the coast. Anything fresh is unbeatable!

Street food snacks found in the seacoast area 
So, we snacked on fried fishes while we were there. Must be the top highlight of our holiday!

more seafood kitchen - seafood taste better when you can also see the sea:)
Our little family is not a great fan of eating in restaurants. I have a very sensitive stomach that reacts easily to anything that is not agreeable! Besides, some of us just don't have the patience of sitting in the restaurant to wait for orders to arrive etc... and the unavoidable situation of getting trapped in the clouds of smoker's cigarette puffs is also a big issue!!

the last of the Tsa-tsa little fish snack...the bigger red fish is called barbon - all so good:)
We saw lots of grilled food that is typical in Bulgaria. We didn't have any as we're not really great meat eaters. I must admit that I always pack some instant noodles and snacks with's my security measure. During holiday breaks, it's better to be safe than sorry... the last thing I would like to happen is to cause stress for my little family whilst they're having fun on holiday.

Other restaurant menu billboard to check out - not just seafood...
There's lots of choices and reasonable accommodation and places to go to in Bulgaria. It's best to do your research before hand. For our two nights three days weekend holiday for a family of only cost us a total of 150 euros for everything! -  food expenses, big apartment hotel accommodations, car petrol...there and back! The added bonus was that we found it more relaxing and hassle free than a booked flight holiday somewhere else! Local holidays are better overall:)

The best thing about holiday is the happy time we make together as a family. Hope you had your good share of holiday memories already done, if not yet...go and share one together:)


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Peaceful holiday by the sea

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family is so used to peaceful life in our village that when it comes to choosing just have to have more or less the same peaceful atmosphere. Off we went for a long weekend to the Black Sea. Summer holiday season is over by this time. Everyone is back to school and back to work. The intense summer heat has dropped...but it is still perfect for us, that we would still call it our summer holiday....and it is peaceful time:)

I'm a whippet, didn't go for a swim in the sea but enjoyed crochet and chocolate bar time instead:)

Most of the big holiday resort hotel by the coast closes down by end of September. In fact we were the last guest accommodated to book for the long weekend that we had. 

Our second night spacious  two bedrooms apartment hotel accommodation complex -for just 10 Euros/person!!

Since most of the holiday makers and guest already had their fill...everything seems quieter by then and we had the hotel pools all to ourselves. OK..probably the water is not as warm compared to some weeks ago....but our family team swimmers are strong that even a slight drop of temperature is not a bother!!

A relaxing family time in the jacuzzi - so relaxing we just had to put our feet up!

Other hotel facilities like the jacuzzi and saunas were left all to ourselves too. So we all put our feet up...and felt so much at home:) Everything seems for our private use but the price rate was charged to us for a much lower rate as it is already an off peak season! Now, that's what we call 'a good deal'! 

we took long walks on sandy beach

We had the use of the beach and sea coast all to ourselves too! OK was not that quiet ...because we still managed to get a glimpse of couple naked men flaunting their goods  in  places like this!!

we had empty beach to enjoy to ourselves - no need to swim into each other!

I have no photo to share with you of what I'm talking about big girl didn't want it on her camera!!...thus there's no evidence of this in this blog post HA! HA! It's a shame that our seacoast these days are slowly infiltrated with such scenes!! The decay of our modern society...I'm sorry I don't approve this...but I will now digress from this topic for my own sake and sanity!

Sunny days with cool air...just perfect!

Our two girls are like mermaids...they just love swimming and made the most of the sea and the hotel pools all throughout the day. In between, we took some moments to explore the surrounding nature to appreciate it's beauty.

chilling out as the day comes to a close

It was also a time for our family to take moments of just relaxing. We all need to take some quiet moments and some breaks from our daily routine once in a while to get refreshed.

the smell of sea plus seaweeds reminds us of the summer seaside holiday
Part of a memorable seaside holiday is of course the enjoyment of eating seafood. Even better than fish and chips is the deep fried littles fishes that we snacked on. It's called 'tsa tsa'...even the name is so cute...freshly caught by the fishermen from the Black Sea bounty!

deep fried little seafood - we can snack on this all day without complain:)

We all agreed that we should probably have to make more of this weekend family trip whenever we see a slot in our's good for our family and we always enjoy each other's company because we all seem to share the same likes:) - just pure pleasure!

From our family to yours....I wish you a good happy family time as every family deserves it! Have a wonderful day with each other too!


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Sibling's Joy

Dear Family & Friends

Our two girls have two different personalities despite the fact that we brought them up in exact similar ways. That tells you that everyone of us are born with a very special design - not factory made!! Thus we always end up not exactly alike!

Some years ago, the older of the two girls wanted her ears pierced to wear pretty earrings. We took both girls to have it done at the same time. The younger one wanted the idea too but she had lots of fearful thoughts. She braved it but literally 'threw up' after the piercing was done...My poor child!!

homemade earring collection organizer

Yet, just after a year, the older sister who initiated the idea didn't want earrings afterall, but the younger one carried on enjoying the routine of daily coordinating her earrings with her's just her joy and interest.

Big sister helped with this earrings organizer project for her younger sibling 

So it came to pass that all of the earrings the older sister were passed on to the younger sibling, who's just happy to collect them all. She is an organized girl (again very different from the other sister) and she wanted to keep her collection in order. With the help of the quick thinking older sister, they came up with a homemade organizer using some of the craft materials we have on hand.

Big sister got a good bargain for her little sister:) They were both joyful:)

It gives me happiness to see that despite their different character and personalities, these two sisters are always there for each other. They tend to share each other's joy and give each other every support. And this is my greatest joy as their mother who believe in teaching them daily - the values of life.

I find that whatever we sow in life, is what we will reap. So, let's keep sowing good seeds and not get tired...for soon we will reap the harvest. Happy gardening to you...whether it's in bringing up children, earning a living, or literally - sowing seeds in the garden.


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'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:)


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

On Language Learning

Dear Family & Friends,

I've recently picked up a language book from our 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 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.


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 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 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:)


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 need a lot of it because they just shrink once cooked.'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:)


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.'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:)