Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Our Lavender Pathway

Dear Family & Friends

Every year we enjoy the beautiful fragrance of lavender bushes in our garden. Each year it gets even more productive as it gets bigger and bigger. With their presence, the garden is just so busy with fluttering butterflies and buzzing bees of all sorts. It's all day party out there:)

This is about a metre wide lavender bush

From year to year, I collect lavender flowers to dry and put into sachet...but I've got one too many already. I think this year I will have a break and just use it as part of our garden mulch. Once the blooms are over and all our garden bees and butterflies are fed, we will prune the bushes and a second smaller flower flush will come up again later.

the front row lavender bushes are older and the back rows are catching up in size too

Having planted many lavender bushes all around the garden makes a spectacular sight to look forward to every summer and the garden smells so lovely too:)

lavender bushes surrounds me in my temporary working area where I start seed sowing 

Two years ago, I planted two rows of lavender to form a pathway in our garden, leading to the vegetable garden area. It didn't took long and slowly, it's forming a long hedge as planned. The best thing with lavender bushes is that it doesn't require much care. No watering needed but a hard pruning is important, once the bloom is over to maintain a healthy and robust shaped bushes.

our lavender pathway hedge that leads us to the veggie garden

My husband still insist that I keep growing more bushes- What?! More?! If I can think of more space to fill, perhaps I would. For now, we are all happy with them.

Gardening is so rewarding chore. Hope you are encouraged with yours too.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

It's cherry season in our garden

Dear Family & Friends

Cherries are very beautiful fruit trees. Before we get it's fruits, the trees will exhibit beautiful blooms - the spring time cherry blossoms. It smells so good and bees literally gets drunk in their frenzy.

spring time cherry blossoms

Like the plum trees, some of the cherry trees bear fruits in late spring to early summer, while others will deliver it's fruit much later in the summer.

flowers developed into fruits

We have a few cherry trees in the garden. Some are of sweet variety while others are sour cherries. The sweet cherry is much prefered, but sour cherries are also good for baking, juicing and turning into compote.

our harvest yield

When it's cherry season, the initial harvest is such a welcome, but subsequently, after eating a lot of  it, the fruit acidity can sometimes be too much. Thus, we end up preserving or freezing to enjoy them once again, when the season is over.

ready to eat fruits
The sun is getting fierce as summer sets in. A glass of homemade sour cherry juice is much needed these days to keep hydrated. We don't have a juicer machine, but there's no need for one, as we just pit a few cherries into a glass, smash it with spoon and top it up with cold water.

Hope you are enjoying your day too.


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Hanging a scroll and cabinet curtains

Dear Family & Friends

A few years back, we went to visit a cousin in the UK and she took me to see her brother-in-law's family.  I always remember their kindness when they set up a big impromptu special hot pot meal that day. It was truly special. Then, I was also given this Chinese scroll which he personally wrote. For years I kept it as it was not possible to hang it up in our home. Lately, we found - just the special spot and a perfect place for this special scroll in our apartment:)

my special chinese scroll gift

Likewise, this week we finally got to hang up my hand stitched curtain I sew for our homemade kitchen cupboard too.

our own designed kitchen cupboard

We bought this second hand cabinet set but it was not meant for kitchen fitting. Since we saw it to be the most potential one for our given tiny space, we adapted it to our needs. The open shelves doesn't conceal much of our stored stuff....but it wasn't a big problem. I simply hand sewed a curtain for it...and in minutes...we got the perfect solution. :)

with just a very simple hand sew curtain, it makes all the difference

Decorating our tiny apartment is a long process for us. We take time, we make things, and slowly we see everything coming together perfectly. I think that's important of all, enjoying our input together as part of family fun.

We still got a few more bits to finish here and there, but no rush, that's for another day again.

Wishing you a good day too.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Fascinated with the beauty of a century egg

Dear Family & Friends

When my children were small, the eldest one is a bit particular with her food because she uses pre imagination before eating. Then the day came when I tried to introduce her to one of my favourite delicacy - the century egg.

The century egg

From the name century egg itself, she quickly concluded that it is old and rotten food. Once it was peeled, she was convinced that her thinking was right because it looks black in comparison to ordinary boiled egg. She refused to taste it. Those days I had all century eggs to myself as there's no other takers in our family.

a beautiful snowflake imprint on the century egg was formed

But time moves on, the girls became older and wiser. They realized that what mother likes to eat must be good. Century eggs are specially preserved eggs. It's either you like them or not. Just like the blue cheese, moldy and fermented, odd but delicious. I'm all for strong food taste.

Gone are the days, when I have special delicacy food all to myself. Now, my little family are all sharing them with me. Yes, we have to divide and have equal shares to everything these days.

ordinary boiled egg halves and a century egg halve to the right

Somehow I'm glad that the girls broaden their thinking ways in many aspect...well, I don't mind sharing either.

Hope your day is wonderful. Keep happy.


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Bird Cage Lighting Feature

Dear Family & Friends

This week we had the opportunity to finish our own designed lighting pendant for our city apartment. It didn't cost much and it's one of it's kind as it's all conceptualized and crafted by our family team. Another project that brought us joy.

our very own crafted bird cage lighting pendant

This project was not complicated and we are so pleased with the outcome. We found this very pretty decorative bird cage and we also bought a few pieces of feathered crafted birds online, shipped for free, from China.

it's decorative and it's also a lighting feature

There's a small light bulb which was thread through on top of the bird cage. It's really that simple and very effective.

our three quiet greeters

Since these birds are not real, they don't mind being pretty in their equally pretty cage. They bring smiles to our faces upon entering our apartment:)

All for now. Sending you good wishes for the week.


Friday, 25 May 2018

Learn a language - Focusing on Chinese Language

Dear Family & Friends

It's no secret that China is the next superpower of the world. So many things are changing so fast.  Are you keeping up with it all? Are you prepared? We firmly believe in guiding our children in life. Like most parents, we want the best for our children. One thing I encourage our children is  to learn foreign languages.

China these days...

When I started teaching them their ABC's and 123's at home, I also start introducing them to foreign language learning. No interest whatsoever - but I never gave up. When we left UK to make a new home in a foreign land, something clicked and the girls realized the importance of having language skills. Now both are linguist with 4-5 foreign languages they can switch on to.

The man is writing beautiful Chinese words on park pavement with brush and water

Language learning is a long process. My girls learn their languages by self teaching. As a mother, my role is to keep encouraging them. Top priority in our list is to learn the Chinese language, partly because it is our heritage, but most of all - it is the most beneficial language to have these days.

can you read the written characters?

Chinese is not an easy language. It requires a lot of memorization as they don't have alphabet to lean on. But, as you know it's not an impossible language to master as there are millions of Chinese people who speaks, read and write it!

Kind and humble character traits.

With the knowledge of the Chinese language, life would be easier when you go to China to discover the new world's superpower! You'll discover and understand such beautiful country and most kind and humble people in the world. Oh yes, of course you can explore the Chinese cuisine more if you can read the menu too;P

just one of the many regional chinese cuisine to try.

Not being a racist, but just giving an honest opinion on what best language to learn for the moment - both for career, business or travel success. I have always been so keen in learning languages but these days...I must admit that an old brain needs a lot of new brain cells to keep going. LOL

Wishing you a beautiful day!


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Comfort food - congee

Dear Family & Friends

Recently someone is our home wasn't feeling good due to sore throat that he completely lost his voice. Our home was quieter then;P Perhaps his recent food indulgence on rich, oily or spicy food took the toil. So, it was time to clear the stomach and cook simple comfort food like congee. With added cups of herbal teas from the garden, he got back his voice back in no time.

a bowl of Chinese congee

As I was given a very special and unusual gift of 'century eggs' by my clever daughter - I decided to cook and share a nice treat for everyone. A dish of chinese congee with century egg. It's nice for people who are on the mend and always a comfort food for me:)

To cook:
  1. Wash 1/2 cup of white jasmine rice and soak for at least an hour.
  2. Drain the rice and marinate it with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp of cooking oil.
  3. Marinate also 1 cup of minced pork with 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch and pinch of salt. set aside.
  4. In a pot, bring 2.5 liters of water or stock to boil, then add the rice. After 10 minutes, turn down the fire to simmer for 40 minutes till rice is broken. Stir several times to avoid rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place the marinated pork and 1 peeled and chopped up century egg in with the boiled rice and continue to simmer for 5-8 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Transfer into serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped spring onion and coriander. Serve and enjoy!

Easy to make and as always enjoy every good meal with your family too.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Children are a blessing

Dear Family & Friends

Today I'm just thinking of the importance of families. Everyday I wake up with such grateful heart that I have a family with me and we stand united and very interdependent on each other. We can spend all night and all day, recounting the joy and blessings of having our two girls...for indeed they are.

my daughter took this photo of the cutest baby she ever saw - she said.

Proverbs 29:17 says:  Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;     they will bring you the delights you desire.

if only we could take him home with us.

Our parenting secret is, of course, based on this very Proverb.

Well, just a short note from me and I wish you a happy day with your love ones too.


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Create a micro climate to grow some exotic plants

Dear Family & Friends

There's so many exotic food that I can only dream of as it can't be bought or be found here. I'm not one to be defeated, so I set a goal to grow them if I could. Climate is usually one factor that's makes it all a big challenge. 

one of my exotic plant veggie that I treasure a lot:)

Not everything will grow easily unless you plant native plants, but with patience and a little bit extra care and attention, I find that we can grow some tropical plants by creating a micro-climate in the garden. 

my precious kang kong or water spinach grown in pots

The easiest way is to develop a natural garden. Plant trees, in layers which includes shrubs, down to ground covering plants. Aim to protect soil from moisture evaporation...it makes a lot of difference to the surrounding area.

some plants are started in pots to assure they get more care before transplant onto the ground

Every year our garden grows dense as I allow nature to have a say in how I garden. I noticed a lot of insect species taking residence in our garden and they all contribute their labour as fair exchange. I also noticed a lot of bird species - day birds and night birds. I learned to identify them by the call they make. To see all these creatures in our garden - simply brings a lot of joy.

luffa growing on trellis for cosmetic use or for food!

As for growing some of my exotic veggies...I noticed that some of them can be grown successfully in parts of my garden as I provide a micro-climate to aid them a bit.

my polyculture vegetable plot - with veggies, flowers and herbs all together

It's been so pleasant to do gardening chores for the moment, although it can be tough on an old body...but gardening is still the most therapeutic activity there is. So, I hope you are enjoying your garden too. Wishing you a good day.


Saturday, 5 May 2018

The garden is getting Mad-er

Dear Family & Friends

If your garden looks like everyone's garden, it is not yours...so they say:) Well, in that case, my garden is certainly mine:) There's a mix match of colours, mix match of vegetables and flowers in certain areas and most of all, weeds were allowed to grow too! There's lots of beneficial garden creatures, along with garden pest - good looking or ugly, they all got the right to live in my garden!

plants, insects -  all co-exist together happily

Our neighbor insist that we go and look at her spring gardening accomplishment. Her garden is a typical well kept garden, absolutely clean - not a weed in sight, all veggie plots are lined so straight with seedlings of just carrots popping up! I'm impressed, how she have the strength to clean up her garden and soil  -exposing it to sun and wind. Then she taught me that her secret weapon is the chemical spray - :(  !! I left her garden with a very heavy heart:(

every plant finds it's space

At least in the four walls of my garden, creatures - whether friends or foes are all dancing in joy. At the moment, the silver dollar plant seems to be dominating the space with it's intense coloring, sometimes too painful to glare at. In between everything, the spring bulb flowers of tulips and daffodils are tailing off, yet their leaves are still happy to be amongst the rest of the flower bushes, as they still need to get and store food into the bulb for next year's performance once again.

silver dollar plant with it's intense color and butterflies loves it:)

Although I allow weeds to grow in my garden, yet from time to time, I still have to maintain (to some extend) their numbers. Some of them can be very aggressive and would dominate and suffocate the rest of the more vulnerable plant. I find a lot of vine weeds coming up and it's beyond my strength to eradicate it, but if I meet it's roots, I normally pull them out to control them a bit.

curly wurly roots of the vine weeds

There's a lot of things to do in the garden but at least the weather is still pleasant to compensate the long hours that I need to do the work. I also see to it that I stop for a little break in between to appreciate everything. I let my imagination run wild thinking of all the food and fruits to come, as I look at the blossoming garden. It's going to be another fruitful year.

every flower pollinated by the bees on this tree will turn into a cherry fruit

With my small battery pack capacity and a garden that is big enough for a tiny woman, gardening is the hardest chore but it's one of my most favourite thing to do...it keeps me going!!

I must go back to  my work and I'm leaving good wishes to you - for a lovely week:)


Monday, 30 April 2018

Hanging blinds as partition

Dear Family & Friends

Recently we came up with an idea of using a roller blind to serve as a partition for our city apartment. I'm so pleased with the out come too:)

hanging a fabric blind as a partition wall

As the apartment area is small, we have an open space of kitchen and lounge as one area. So, the concept of this partition came handy to partly block off the kitchen area specially when we leave it messy!

this partition can still show our messed up kitchen area with a slat design look

The blind fabric design we chose gave us the choice to either make a solid cover or a partial slat view. The decorating of our apartment is taking a while, but we don't have the sense to hurry it all. It does takes time to think and come up with materials that we like to use and put up...but we're getting there slowly. The next thing to think about is the lighting features.

this way - a solid closed partition

We are in the process of making our own pedant light feature to hang up, except that we still need the extra material needed for it. I will share it with you next time. ...once it's done. For now, I wish you a good day.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Fruit trees blossoms

Dear Family & Friends

It's the season of fruit tree blossoms over here. Every year it never fails to bring us the same excitement to see and enjoy the beauty of our fruit trees blossoms. It smells so good and if you come close to it, the noise of the buzzing bees on the flowers are deafening.

our young purple plum tree with it's record breaking blossoms this year

We have lots of blooms from our plum and cherry trees for the moment...and I can't help but imagine the many fruits I would be eating from it. - my greedy thoughts!!

clusters of flowers to keep the bees happy

So grateful for the hundreds and hundreds of bees in the garden who are all working so hard in pollinating each and every flowers so that it will turn and form into a fruit for us. I feel so happy to watch them in their madness. I can tell you that our bees here are certainly overfed!

this is our favourite crunchy sweet cherry fruit tree

It was just a month ago when all of our fruit trees were bare looking, lifeless while they hibernated for the winter. Then slowly a miracle happens and they all woke up to put up flower buds and new leaf buds on every stems! Everything is so fresh and new...isn't that something to be excited about?!

Sending you all good things and wishing you a lovely day.


Friday, 20 April 2018

No nakedness allowed in the garden

Dear Family & Friends

Another beautiful day to play with in our garden...So, we took advantage and enjoyed the most out of it. We worked hard but it was a kind of work that we get so much pleasure despite the aches and pains for overdoing things once again - Ah...that's gardening:)

no nakedness is allowed in the garden

With the constant sunny days we have here, it is wise not to leave the garden soil bare and naked under the sun. We have to care and respect our living soil. There's lots of living microbes in the soil and other creatures, all vital to keep the soil healthy in order to produce healthy plants and good food for us to grow in our garden. A cover would keep our soil moist and stops rapid evaporation.

my lemon grass is mulched with grass clippings to keep it warm and moist

We let weeds grow along with all the purposely planted plants because a living plant creates a biodiversity of nutrients to feed the soil. With all the dense growth, it also acts as a ground cover. But as spring progresses on, the warmth sunshine makes all the plants grow crazy that we have to somehow cut them back and we use it as a mulch resource - back into the garden:)

our fruit orchard area where we gather tons of garden mulch resource

Another good thing with these free resource is that: these self seeding weeds produces a lot of flowers that feeds the bees and butterflies in our garden too. It's a winner's concept:)

one of the many variety of dainty weeds we use for mulching

At the end of the day, we've collected buckets and buckets of green mulch - all for free, and I placed them on top of garden areas to act as a cover to the many seedlings that are popping up - in fact I mulched every bare soil that I could see:) So pleased with all the works done and earned another goodnight sleep in the process Zzzzz:)

my front garden bed all thickly mulched up:)

Gardening is such a good therapy for all. Hope you are enjoying your garden too:)


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Sleepover for an old girl?

Dear Family & Friends

Such a beautiful time of the year over here - season wise, and there's equally lots of new stages and chapter of life that is opening up for our family. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed how blessed we are. It's all exciting but sometimes 'old me' is hesitant of moving forward as I find comfort in familiar and routine ways of life.

cool and sunny - just lovely:)

This week I took a  'sleep over' invitation. Not typical of this old girl but I was game to give some pleasure to our two girls. Yes...just a sleepover in our city apartment and I tried my best to make it as exciting as it sounds. The apartment is nice and my two company are even nicier - but I lasted only a night, as I really prefer our village home.

our city of Plovdiv

This week we also shared challenges as daughter 1 faces a new direction in her career. It was only five months ago when she started her very first job with a British owned company. After only two months, she knew it was not the job she likes to invest her life in. 

As parents, we do all our best to help and guide our children. With her skills and talent, we guided her to easy transition. It literally took her only 40 minutes from the time she sent in her CV to a big Chinese firm, and got an immediate job interview offer!! She really surprised us when we heard her speak Mandarin and wrote in Chinese for this position! I can't tell you how she can speak the language because we don't speak it at home and she have never been exposed to a Chinese speaking community or school?! We're proud of this girl:)

a road pavement - Do you see it as flock of flying birds?

We believe this year is going to be a great year and we're just at the start of it:) Our CEO says I have to start running and just go for it. I can't and am not allowed to be an old girl. Hope you are staying on top of a good year too!


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Our Garden - is our holiday destination

Dear Family & Friends

It's madness in our garden. The bees are so noisy buzzing everywhere as they visit one flower to another. Our ground is covered with hundreds and hundreds of blooms from bulbs plants, weeds ground cover, perennial plants and the fruit trees are also starting to put out their blossoms. It's such a happy place. It brings me lots of smiles as I watch everything coming back to life, every plant looks so fresh and new. With warm sunshine and blue skies, there's no better place to be in.

these succulent plants gets red tints with lots of sunshine

The garden itself is a holiday destination for our family. It's more like a working holiday whenever we are in the garden for the moment. Our family enjoy working together. It's time to do pruning of our roses, sowing annual seeds, propagating to multiply our existing plants etc... Such rewarding job:)

a butterfly on the anemome flower
Most days I go to bed with an aching old body due to all the garden works done,  but once in bed, I just can't wait for the morning to come again, as I look forward to be back in the garden to do more gardening jobs of growing and sowing plant seeds that I enjoy so much!

butterfly and chamomille
Watching plants grow, some planted by me, while others just comes up by themselves, is one big miracle. Although I've sown some seeds - but I definitely am not the one who makes them grow and bloom:) 

Happy gardening to you...sending you our lovely sunshine wishes:)