Thursday, 25 August 2016

OH JOY!

Dear Family & Friends

We have typical summer with constant sunshine... and that makes my garden so thirsty everyday!!  I'm literally like a madwoman whose hands seems to be attached to a garden hose 24/7!! It's a never ending chore...but I must admit that after watering the garden, everything cools down...microclimate - that's what my daughter told me! At least, inside our four wall domain!

temperature within is slightly cooler than past this wall out onto the street
Hot days of summer makes my brain sluggish...just on constant sleep mode - not complete shut down at least! Everyday meal planning seems a struggle. It's good that my little family are very patient with me all the time! OH JOY!

cooking a quick pancake meal again...

For this week, I fed them nothing but my pancake invention (a couple of times in a week!!)...just altering what I put in it! Most of the time veggie mix like grated carrots, grated zuchinni, chopped up chives, chopped up purslane...whatever I get out of our garden that day!

one big pancake instead of the usual little burger size

Mixing everything with egg savoury pancake batter...and by using Kefir instead of milk...it gives a soft texture with cheesy taste. Another lazy trick of mine is to pan fry it as one big pancake - like doing a tortilla. That way, it's faster and I don't need to endure the heat from cooking longer than necessary. Once cooked, cut in wedges and eat with cucumber or tomato salad! No one complains..My JOY!

  
Sid with our garden tortoise - who loves the summer heat

Out in our garden, this mascot called 'sid' is playing around. We got him free from Lidl after spending 100 euros of shopping spree! None of us are of toddler age...but we were so excited to collect stickers for every 10 euros spent...in hope that we could get a little free toy!...and we did! (actually, the kind cashier cheated and gave us extra 3 stickers just to help complete our goal LOL) Our JOY! 

Sid talking to the rooster?

Now that we got Sid home with us....he just have to have his photo shoot with our garden friends...our teenage girls' fun time activity - that is!! Their JOY!

Building and rebuilding of the wall

Since there's a delay in the completion of our city apartment, focus on DIY works at home is done instead. The outside wall is constantly polished and repolished to a perfect look. Someone in our family just seem to love the rebuilding of the wall activity...I thought it all looks good and finished! But day after day...whenever he got the time...he's out there tinkering this and that again ...his JOY!

Yes, count it all JOY, even when summer heat brings headaches and sleepless nights! Then, start all over again tomorrow. After all, summer is just but a season. Hope you are enjoying your day today with JOY too!

Yours


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Live at peace with everyone

Dear Family & Friends

Last week, the contract agreement for our tiny city apartment to be handed to us expired. Legally, we can get our agreed monetary compensation from the owner for failure to meet the deadline....it's half the price of the apartment. That would be easy money...but, we rather not fight for it. After all, we intend to use the apartment from time to time...and the property owner, as well as the property developer, are also taking some quarters for themselves in the same building. If we are going be neighbours, we better live in peace with each other.

Car parking spaces at the back of the apartment have yet to be done 

Although we are a bit disappointed that we cannot be there at the agreed time...yet, we are not in a hurry for it...except that we told our visiting friends to use it on their visit in October. Perhaps we still got the time to get it all ready for them. For the meantime, another meeting with the property owner and the developer to sort out another short extension time is set.

The side entrance to the apartment building is still in working progress

Life is not always straight forward...there's bumps along the way...but we must get on. Sometimes patience and wisdom is required.

Work at the apartment complex seems to be rather slow, although rails on balcony is now on.

Back in our home garden, with the very hot and dry week, incessant watering is required!! The soil is turning into cement...I constantly try mulching them with my chop n drop method...but even our weeds are refusing to grow as they require water too! Building our mulch is the way to go but we have to find more resource...another trial along the way! We got promises of T-storm ( in fact a few couple of them this week)... but the rain seem to always evade our village, while places just 5 minutes away from us get the torrent! All the time!! What can I say??!! That's part of life...we all get it in many different ways!!

I still rejoice despite of the petty bumps...at least I survived from choking on a piece of apple this week!! Most important, my little family are happy and healthy...and the girls are diligent in all their ways as always:) Yes! I got it all sorted! Hope you see and get all things bright in your way too.

Yours

Monday, 15 August 2016

It takes a village to raise a child

Dear Family & Friends

With the food abundance we experience specially at this time of the year ... we often wonder why the villagers are pouring and sharing their produce with us, knowing very well we also grow the things they grow - perhaps not as big and vigorous, but nonetheless, I try my best to grow what we can and know how in our garden for the family's needs.

the Balkans - child's painting of one of the girls
Then, it occured to me that whenever villagers shares their produce with us, they always say - 'take these for the children.' No ill feelings...not that we adults don't need to eat and share it too...but what they are saying is that children are growing and nutrition is vital for growth.

village hens - child's painting of one of the girls

There's a saying that says: it takes a village to raise a child. ..and this is very true to where we presently live in. For the years we have been living here, villagers known or unknown to us,  had been so kind to our children: sharing fruits and veggies, and even teaches them courteous manners like addressing every elderly with honour and respect as what and how a family does to each other.

the cheerful cycler - child's painting of one of the girls

Our two girls are bigger now...yet, they are still very much the children of this village. I'm so glad we have and are given the opportunity to live here. Our two girls understand these and are grateful too:)

Life is not complicated...at least not in this part of the world. Hope you have a beautiful day today, with lots of blessings too:)

Yours

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Getting two new beehives

Dear Family & Friends

For two years, we kept a beehive in our garden which we bought from a local villager. Sad to say, we lost them in early spring this year. We still couldn't understand how it happened...but it was a very devastating experience. Nonetheless, we won't take it as a defeat.

our two beehives

Our fifteen year old daughter has been teaching English to a local little girl about her age. In exchange: she asked if her grandfather could supply us with a beehive family to replace the one we lost. They were pleased with the idea and are giving us two beehive families:)


To see a field of sunflowers always brings multi-joy:)

The  grandfather managed to secure two swarms for us:) For the moment, the hives are still with him as he is getting them established in their new homes. Once their hives has enough honey to sustain them, they will be handed to us to stay in our garden.


Sunflower field in our village

There's vast sunflower fields in our village area. Our two beehives are in the vicinity, so they can get and store more food as they settled in their new home. The kind grandfather visits them in the field and brings water to feed them.

This is a carrot that has bolted into flower to produce seeds for the next season:)

We are excited to have another chance of beekeeping venture. For the moment, I'm planting as many bee friendly plants in our garden, especially those early flowering ones for the benefit of the bees, and other beneficial insects which will make a happy garden - and a happy gardener:)

Hope you are keeping a happy and content - sending you wishes of a perfect weather today- one that is not too hot/and not too cold ...your way:)

Yours

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Making a garden room

Dear Family & Friends

As years pass by, slowly I see our garden getting more established. The trees are taking shape, the perennial plants are happy where we planted them as they come back year after year. Annual plants are left to seed, so they can replant themselves the following year. Our goal is to have minimum maintenance garden...and it is taking place:) 

In progress garden room project by the water well area

Gardening is not a big chore...only if you choose it to be. Having found some inspiration, we recently made a garden room around the water well area. With just a few long straight tree branches we stole took from a nearby private land forest (there was no one to ask), we simply attached it to four post. This year I planted bottle gourd to climb over it to form a green living wall. A wooden cover is also made to cover the top of the well. The next thing I plan to do is to stick a mosaic tiles around the well structure. That's coming soon as time permits. Planned projects sometimes take time...but it's all part of gardening...a day at a time!


Stone crop sedum started to bloom

The ground around the water well is poor and sandy. But I've noticed that the stone crop sedum I've planted last year started blooming! Obviously the plant likes the stony soil in that area.

...with pretty pale pink colour

There's a lot of pleasant surprises I find in the garden...the beauty of this sedum flowers are just some of the little joys that I think everyone should have from time to time. Have you found some time to enjoy the beauty around you lately?

Hope you have a lovely day that will bring you great joy too:)

Yours

Monday, 1 August 2016

The joy of collecting seeds

Dear Family & Friends

Summer is the time when you can take advantage of collecting seeds from your garden...either for kitchen use or for re-sowing back into the garden, without having to go and buy for more.

These are Lunaria flower seed heads

During the week, I have been busy and patiently collecting all of the Lunaria/Silver Dollar flower seed heads. The dried seed pods were peeled one by one so that I can use the empty flower seed pods on stem for flower arrangement. Some seeds were sown back into the ground directly so we can have some of the earliest spring flowers for the bees to feed on next year.


Inside each flat heads are flat seeds

Much earlier in the season, there were brassica plants, lettuces, radishes, chards, chives and onions that bolted as summer heat arrived...so after drying them....I managed to collect bottles of seeds and stored them. Most of them can be sown latter this summer for autumn and winter veggies. The cycle goes on in our garden. These work routines give me a lot of comfort.


The Lunaria seeds are attached to a papery case

More seed collecting will go on till autumn season... I always collect my summer flowering Zinnias seeds to spread them out in the garden for next year and to keep friends and families supplied too:)


After peeling off the seeds, I'm left with silver case still attached to it's stem

Oh the joy for collecting free seeds!! Whether you collect seeds or not at any season of the year, I wish you joy in whatever you are presently occupied in too!

Yours

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A dog who loves flower came to visit

Dear Family & Friends

While doing some work outside by the roadside garden of our home, a stray dog came by. He looked hungry, so the two girls went in the house to get some food for him. He happily ate it.

a stray dog came passing by... and we served him a dainty sandwich...

He hang around for a while to watch us tend the little garden by the roadside.

afterwards, he helped himself to a stem of summer flower we were growing...

The next thing we knew, he went and grab a stem of rudbeckia flower that we grew in our roadside garden.

He stayed awhile to watch us worked, then, he got up and remembered to pick up the bloom

He carried it with him...and I think he is taking it back to where he lives. I've never seen a dog who knows how to take cut flower home...perhaps, it's for his girlfriend!

I'm sure he said thank you and goodbye as he heads home taking the flower with him :)

Glad this dog got a sandwich from the girls that day and even had a helping with a beautiful cut flower to take away:) We haven't seen the dog come by again...perhaps he got married and life got busy.

Oh...just a silly dog story for you today. But I do hope you have a good day and wishing you - all good things your way too:)

Yours

Friday, 22 July 2016

Our summer entertainment?

Dear Family & Friends

'Have you been to the seacoast?' That seems to be the frequently asked question ...at least in this part of the world. You see, summer equals seacoast holiday!! Nothing more complicated or dreamed of for our village people. Life is simple:)

Flowers that say: it's summer time:)

When the Black Sea of Bulgaria settles down in the population count of holiday makers, we'll take our turn to visit:) We opt for a quieter holiday - right here. There's just too much going on around the world recently. It's more peaceful and safer where we are.

She's about to doze off...

For the meantime, in our home garden...it's enough to see and observe our chickens falling asleep...yes, quiet entertaining LOL!

I told you...she's gone to dreamland!

Summer heat induces day sleeping - siesta - to many of us! So with our chickens too! 


Notice the two hens singing to put the rooster to sleep?

I think those two chickens were singing lullaby till the rooster on the left fell asleep! At least, that's what we thought was going on looking at this photo!

Sweet red gooseberries

The garden is giving us some fruity berries compensation at this time! We have strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries...not many, but enough for the girls to keep on going back and forth for snacking! There's blueberry and chokoberry fruit buds too (for the first time)...but still waiting for a full formed fruit! 

Although there's lot of unsettling moments in the world around us...it is best that we focus ourselves to an orderly home first and foremost - the simplest form is the best...yes no need to get anxious about everything else. I wish you all calm and peaceful week!

Yours

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Summer food in bulgaria

Dear Family & Friends

The abundance of summer is always something to look forward to. In Bulgaria, we notice that people tend to eat what is in season. So, when you go to restuarants...everyone serves the same cucumber and tomato salad in their menu. It is best to go for the seasonal salad too - for it's freshness.

A plate of summer meal

We don't normally get fresh summer salad varieties during the winter season...but comes summer, we eat nothing but these...day after day. Fresh cucumber and tomato salad, mixed with yogurt - which is an all season fare, along with the white salty feta like cheese called sirene.

A local fruit market with variety of seasonal fruits

When it comes to fresh fruits...there's also a great variety...but they mostly come in season. Every homes in the village got fruit trees in their garden....abundance and surplus are always going around...we just have to eat a lot more till we're so bloated with liquid. Not complaining at all...afterall, you must understand that we do get very hot summer's days and all these fruits and vegetables are but the best choice food to bring us comfort. Yes, eating in season is for a reason:)

Our neighbours know we also grow the typical local fruit & veggies in our garden...but now and again, bags of same fruits and veggies are passsed on to us via the garden wall/or through the gate! We just got to eat more fruits and veg...Yes! salad everyday for the moment! Wishing you a lovely and fruitful summer.

Yours

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Trading day by the garden wall

Dear Family & Friends

It's weekday morning, we stumbled on the idea the night before to solve the problem of two fighting roosters...but none of us can solve the dilemma. Then we thought of our faithful neighbour! So off we popped our head across the wall to our neighbour's garden. Husband and wife were out early with their garden task. Upon hearing us, they dropped everything and sorted our cockerel for the freezer.


We do have gates...but to see neighbours, we use this garden wall ...
We couldn't ask for better neighbour than this. They never expect anything back from us for any kindness...but since they love our homemade bread, we got one ready for them. They really think it is a special 'English' bread. The truth is: it's just a simple bread machine loaf.... but it is always nice to see smiles from their faces whenever freshly baked bread is passed over the garden wall.

Beyond this wall.. is our neighbour's garden
A few minutes later, a voice was calling us over to the wall again.... This time, our neighbour is passing us a big bag of their just harvested potatoes. The garden wall between us was indeed a busy trading place that day.

enough cucumber and tomato harvest - for the usual summer salad fare

By midday, all trading were completed. As for us, nothing more simple and satisfying for lunch... our fresh potato gift of the year turned into Kartofellsalat (German potato salad)! Always a great hit in our house...and paired with quick to cook Wurst (German sausage) too! No Sauerkraut but we had cucumber and tomato salad from the garden instead. Everyone was filled and felt happy:)

I wish you a good week as always...and nice, kind loving people to surround you too:)

Yours

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Overcoming Summer's Heat

Dear Family & Friends

Summer in Bulgaria is hot but if you stay in the shade...it is bearable. Inside our house is cool...even though we don't own an airconditioner! Since I like being outside...so we hang a recycled net in our tiny little patio area. There - I can enjoy some garden breeze, hear the buzzing bees, without having to endure the presence of FLIES!!

my little corner for this summer

For the moment, the biggest lavender bush is just next to the patio and the buzzing bee noise is just music to my ears as I sit in the patio! Now and again I catch a glimpse of different butterflies stopping by to sniff the flowers too. 

a quiet company of mine in our garden

I'm trying to overcome the misery of intense summer heat here and I want to see and focus the summer goodness instead. Life is good...remember...in the beginning God created everything beautiful and He said 'it is good'...The 'good' still remains despite mankind's rapid growth in self-love, greed and wickedness. (Sorry for groaning again...I just have to stop reading daily news!!)

Today I want to wish you all things 'good' for this week and always be an overcomer:)

Yours

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Keeping cool this Weekend

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family is great fun. We share and like a lot of simple things in life. Being appreciative and united all makes a good day. Another hot summer's day to enjoy together. Off we went to find respite...where else but the usual rowing canal.

food we can eat with our hands and a bench to sit on is all we need for party time

Armed with a  plate of 'banitsa' - a local puffed pastry filled and rolled in with white feta cheese. 

one yummy banitsa

We sat on a park bench, savouring a warm delicious snack while over looking across the canal - there's a line of men fishing! Fishing is not normally allowed ...but perhaps this is a special day for it!

just being near the water vicinity seems to bring cooling effect on us for the summer

The light breeze of the man-made lake did cooled us a bit. Happy and satisfied with our little family outing, we head back home...

all sorts of plants growing together in harmony - keeping each other in shade

Back to our beloved happy garden and the little home we love the most. Hope you have a beautiful and fulfilling day just as we did:)... despite the turbulence and chaos created in daily news propagandas, (just don't believe everything you read)...most important is to keep your home and family in order and everything else will work well. Keep calm and be wise!

Yours

Monday, 27 June 2016

Our happy garden

Dear Family & Friends

First of all, I want to say that I'm proud of the Brits who made their brave stand for their own country! Blessings for the coming success!

It's summer time, the heat is increasing, the garden plants are all going crazy with super growth, lots of food and beautiful chaos. The bees, butterflies and all other beneficial garden creatures are all frenzily busy all the time. The new lot of chickens bought earlier in the Spring are now growing big. They too are happy as we move them about in the grass lawn pecking and scratching for food insects and clipping the grass and weeds, at the same time fertilizing the soil:) Yes, it's one big happy garden!

From under our grapevine area, you can view part of the garden where our chicken tractor is.

Yet, we find that the mobile home we made for the chicken is not good enough. So we recently made it higher for the chickens to be able to roost on at night when they go to sleep. It's now a two storey mansion...with a summer look, just by adding an old chewed up parasol!! Rustic look huh?!

This is our latest chicken tractor mansion - summer looking with a chewed up parasol for joy of the hens

As you can see, their previous house was just a tunnel made out of tubes...and as weeks pass by, we noticed they started flying to the roof top of the low tunnel to sleep. It's amazing that the tunnel took all their weight!!


Last week, the chicken mobile tractor was just a tunnel - and they all perch on top to sleep for the night!

Now, in their new mansion, there's perches to perch on...so far, they are not using it. The first night in their two storey mansion...they all flew up to the roof top and it collapsed. We fixed it again and hopefully tonight...they will learn to perch on the inside perches and not on roof top! Our silly chickens can really be silly sometimes!!

This week, the tunnel was rennovated and turned into two storey mansion...so they can have indoor perches

As a family, we all seemed to get entertained by the chickens in our garden from day to day...oh...it's never a dull day in our happy garden... We are still working on this model of a light-mobile chicken tractor..if I've got more updates...you'll surely be told.

For now, I wish you good week ahead and hope that it is pleasant where you are. It is very warm here and I'm literally wilting in this weather, but..this is summer and it is just for a season...I might as well try to see the joy out of it! Wish me all the best!

Yours

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Building our Mud Wall


Dear Family & Friends

Long time ago, they used to build houses and walls with mud bricks. They use mud (of course) along with straw and other organic materials and mould it one by one. It is a skill! It retains heat in the winter and keeps the house cool in the summer. I can tell you this because our house is made of three feet thick mud walls! It is a well insulated house:)

A wheel borrow load of mud bricks
These days, people uses red bricks/blocks because of convinience...but it is not the same! We found a house in our village, who decided to tear and replace their broken down property mud wall with cement blocks. So, we asked them if we could have their old mud bricks. They were just so happy to part with it and we were so happy to have this precious commodity!


Extending around two layers of mud bricks to add the height
A section of our front property wall is not high enough that if you're very tall, you could easily tip toe to see us inside our property. So, we decided to build it higher.

Layering very strong sun baked mud bricks with more mud mix to bind it together

It feels better when we have more privacy from public eyes, just by adding another two layers of mudbricks, two feet wide:) This very strong wall will last for hundreds and hundreds of years!



The wall is now higher after father & daughter worked on it for just a couple of hours 

We still got a few ready made mud bricks..so we are thinking of some good projects to put it to use. For now...we're still pondering on things.


Recycling free mud bricks that we salvaged from the village

One man's rubbish became another man's treasure. We are easy to please...but we are very convinced it is the other way around. In fact, if we haven't found the mud bricks...we were all ready to home make our very own! Phew! That would have been much harder!

All for today. I wish you a good and profitable week too.

Yours