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.


Friday, 8 March 2019

A winter harvest makes a delicious meal

Dear Family & Friends

Despite the cold winter season, there were still a few garden food harvest for the kitchen. One of them , the Jerusalem artichoke. It stays buried underground and won't get affected with the severe cold season. We dug them up only when we need to cook them and they remain so crispy and delicious.

my cleaned winter root veggie - the Jerusalem Artichoke

Another no frill, no fuss  veggie during the cold season are the collections of  brassica plants like the kale, collard greens and brussel sprouts etc... These plants don't mind the bitter cold, in fact they produce a more sweet green leaves during cold season.

my girl collected an assortment of leafy greens and herbs to incorporate in our rice dish

With the above winter harvest of chopped Jerusalem artichoke and brassica leaves, plus a few fresh herbs of sage and rosemary, I'm cooking a rice rissoto/paella-like dish. I just sauteed everything with rice and added some sausages till slightly cooked. Then, I added some water and seasoning to further cook it till all liquid gets absorbed. This makes one complete balance meal for us.

With our family, a warm homecooked meal is a great comfort and it makes everybody smile with appreciation. That's one meal done during this week, tomorrow I'll think of another one for everyone. Hope you have a nice day too:)


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Steamed hot buns for lunch

Dear Family & Friends

Our dear neighbour, Boris, had his enormous 150 kilos piggy processed sometime in one cold January day. It's their yearly local tradition that they do. I don't have the stamina for this but it is part of life for many. Most of our village neighbors never shop in city supermarket for their food as they are more or less self sufficient in their ways. 

freshly steamed hot buns with pull pork fillings

That day, they passed on to us a piece of the meat and I've slow cooked it till it's so soft, then decided to freeze it afterwards as I have already planned my menu for that week. So, this week I decided to incorporate and make use of my pre-cooked ingredients from the freezer for our meal.

My girls are sometimes picky when it comes to meat dishes. But using up meat in small portion, specially wrapped beautifully inside a steaming hot bun, you would think they were born carnivorous! They simply love buns, but it's not what I often choose to do - due to my lazy streak when it comes to preparing meals:(

We're all having a busy working week. It's one of those days when we all appreciate quick hand held meals as we all rush back to our waiting responsibilities for the day immediately afterwards.

I hope you are having a blessed week too.


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Stress makes us ill - part 2

Dear Family & Friends

When your blood circulation is good, you won't get stressed easily. This is a fact. The people who gets most stressed are those who are lazy. Once your blood is not circulating well, it's difficult to feed oxygen to the brain and you start having all negative thoughts which leads to stress.

There are ways to fight back stress - and that is to RELAX:
  1. do the inhale & exhale breathing exercise - out in your own garden for fresh air
  2. drink 8 glasses of water a day (4 warm water & 4 cold water - just my variation on the menu:)
  3. go out and take in morning sunshine
  4. sweat your body out
Remember that when you are full of negative thoughts, it's impossible to see any goodness around you. Everything starts from the top of your brain. Of course, being healthy is also important. So, it is wise to top your body with good nutricious food that have vitamin C, calcium, beta carotene which is helpful in stress prevention too.

Well, hopefully this has been a helpful post and a beneficial one. I have plans to chill out and enjoy the day, to take advantage of the deep blue sky that's there waiting for me. I wish you a lovely day too.


Thursday, 21 February 2019

Stress makes us ill - part 1 of 2

Dear Family & Friends

Lately I have been learning a lot about 'stress' which is very prevalent these days and how it affects our health. Stress means a mind that's full of negative thoughts, which makes our brain impossible to instruct the body to get healed, for all healing comes from within out, from the head down: mentally, physically and emotionally.

There are signs to know that you are stressed:
  1. general irritability, depression, fatigue and weakness
  2. emotional instability, tension, anxiety and boredom
  3. inability to concentrate, general disorientation and trembling
  4. insomnia, diarrhea, indigestion and or constipation
  5. migraine headache and pain in the neck or lower back
  6. lost of appetite or compulsive eating
  7. smoking alcoholism and drug addiction
  8. stuttering and grinding of teeth

I have ways to combat stress, and I will post the part 2 of this topic next week. For now, let's chill out and always remember that there is hope that is before us each day. 

The sun is shining clear and I'll be out and about to check on my seedlings. Perhaps, I could pull up some Jerusalem artichoke that was left buried underground all through the winter cold to use today. 

I wish you a good day too.


Saturday, 16 February 2019

You are stealing the future of your children and grandchildren

Dear Family & Friends

I was listening to a speech of a young 15 years old Swedish girl - Greta Thunberg before the UN and this particular sentence impressed a deep impression within me. She said: 'you said you love your children above all else, yet you're stealing their future in front of their very eyes.'

As a full time dedicated mother, it made me think a lot. I definitely wouldn't want to be remembered as one mother who failed her children and the next generation of grandchildren and great grandchildren. I might not be around to live that long, yet I know I'm responsible and accountable for the future of the generations to come.

I just can't afford to be selfish because life goes on for generation to generation.  I definitely can't steal from my own loved ones. I'm here to build them up and never for destruction.

Just my profound thoughts for today. I'll be out to enjoy with my work plans set for the day, and hope you have an enjoyable day to look forward too.


Monday, 11 February 2019

One fishing day

Dear Family & Friends

One summer, a long time ago, a friend invited our family to join him on his favourite fishing activity. He also wanted us to come and ride in his very interesting vintage Russian car called Lada. It was such a great privilege because these cars are very rare now.

Precious old Russian car called 'Lada'

We've never been on fishing expedition before and it was such a special trip for us that to these days, we still cherish this wonderful memory of a lifetime.

a quiet and peaceful lake to spend the day fishing

The fishing lake was big and we didn't know it exist nor it's a place where one could actually go fishing, were it not because of this friend.

assembling all the fishing gears for the day

He brought and set up all his fishing gear and he gave us the opportunity to do fishing with his guidance.

not big fish but we got something:)

Yes, we managed to catch a few little fishes and we now have an understanding what fishing is about. It's definitely a peaceful and quiet activity.

our catch for the day

At the end of the day, he brought his catch back to his mother, whom our girls call 'baba' meaning grandma. She cooked it and we also shared and tasted grandma's cooking. 

The most special thing of all, this Bulgarian family has been our very first Bulgarian family with whom we felt safe to be with as they embraced us with their unconditional kindness in every simple way.

Happy memories in life is very precious indeed. We cherish it and we realize that there's always good things in life. Hope you have an encouraging day today too.


Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Most loved garden friends - the bees

Dear Family & Friends

I often wonder where all my garden friends go to get the protection from a harsh and cold winter like ours. One thing I know is that our honeybees are keeping themselves in the hive we provided for them and they have enough honey to keep them fed till spring comes.

Yes, spring time  is still a long way off - at least a month from now. Nature has a way of survival, hibernation is one of them. We try to leave as much garden debris like leaves, twigs, old plants around for our garden friends to hide and make homes.

In our garden we have several bee species. Only the honeybee makes honey for us, but we still want all the other bees because they also contribute so much to our garden ecology specially the pollination process of plants.

There's bees that are very tiny, bees that makes a lot more noise than others, and bees that are so big that it can scare you when you first see it, but in reality, they are as friendly as all the other bees. 

Some of our bees are stingless but others do have stinger although it's never their intention to use it on us, unless they are greatly threatened.

Well, I do miss the joy of watching my garden friends in our garden...but it won't be long for spring time is just around the corner.

Hope the joy of the season whether it's summer, winter, spring or autumn will bring you all hope today too.


Friday, 1 February 2019

10 reasons to grow your own food at home

Dear Family & Friends

There's 10 reasons to grow food in your own garden home:

  1. It's real fast food! Just walk out into the garden and harvest a meal:)
  2. You can save money. Because home grown food cost only a fraction of what it cost in the shop.
  3. It got better taste. Fresh fruit and veggies harvest picked at it's peak readiness taste amazing.
  4. It will improve your health. Not only garden produce is good for you, gardening is good exercise and can reduce stress and anxiety too.
  5. It's rewarding. To watch a seed or a transplant grow into a mature food producing plant is very satisfying.
  6. Self sufficiency. The more self sustaining you are, the less you need to rely on others to ensure your needs are met.
  7. It gives you the opportunity to connect with nature. Gardening brings you in alignment with nature's life cycle: birds, bees, plants, soil, fungi etc.
  8. You get access to rare varieties of food. There are so many rare varieties you can plant at home that you can't find at the market.
  9. A free hobby or entertainment. Although you may invest some money into the garden, the act of gardening is free and enjoyable hobby too.
  10. Opportunity to leave your hand print. Gardening allows you to leave your hand print where your footprint once was.

This year, I'm hoping that I can give all my best to obtain a better home grown garden and I just can't wait for the warmer weather to come and help me out to fulfill this goal:)

Hope you are looking out to accomplish your goal and be better than me:)


Sunday, 27 January 2019

There's no better place to live than here

Dear Family & Friends

Life in the village where we live is the best - one could ever wish for. It's peaceful and a very safe place to live in. The residents looks after each other with kind generosity and everyone goes about working in their own land. The people here are very humble in their ways, and no one feels greater than anybody else.

In our quiet streets, you see people walking about as they share their life tips with each other. People cycles around in their old bikes to get to their intended destination around the village, otherwise they still use their horse and cart to go to work in their field. Life is simple.

In early mornings, we see grannies or grandfathers already out shepherding their flocks of goats and sheep. Donkeys are walked to their pasture land for the day too.

On non-school days, we easily see children playing in the middle of the street, having clean fun as what children should. Every elderly resident seems to take responsibility in guiding and have a lookout attitude towards these children.

Equally, we catch glimpse of farm animal such as goats and their kids playing by the road side too!

It's one happy place...we call this our home and our family just loves it here. For us, there's no better place than this.

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The Craftsman's Mindset

Dear Family & Friends

Brining up our children is a very serious business for us. We sacrifice a lot for them, to give the very best care for their physical, mental and spiritual needs - without ceasing. It's all worth it. Our two girls were homeschooled right from the beginning. Their characters were formed with training and guidance and it's an ongoing goal for as long as we live.

Gone are the days when I hold their hands as I lead them to learn the basics of reading, writing and counting...and what great joy it was to personally see their strength and progress:) These days our training is focused on binging them to become a successful young adults. 

Father and daughter

It's time that they become an apprentice in learning the basics of life. As they journey on, they add their own style and attain mastery. I'm sure that they'll be so good that the result can't just be ignored. To do more of what really matters is a Craftsman mindset.

Be encouraged as we all take our responsibility in life. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead too.


Thursday, 17 January 2019

Handmade lifestyle

Dear Family & Friends

I enjoy a handmade lifestyle. When days are dark, short and gloomy, I find comfort deep within my thoughts. My hands are busy at the same time, sewing some project - this time another seat cover.

Once seated and engrossed with what I'm doing, it is very hard to get up and think about the hungry tummies in our home. So, I employ the help of one of the girls with request for a crunchy but still runny sunny side up egg, placed on top of a piece of toast. Yum...That's just what we need.

Life couldn't get better than this:) Hope yours is as good too!


Saturday, 12 January 2019

I pickled green apples today

Dear Family & Friends

The autumn apples that was harvested are still as good and crunchy throughout the winter months if stored properly. Although not a fan of apples, yet from time to time, I would appreciate it if it is eaten with  salt or soy sauce. Since we still got a boxful of green apples from our autumn harvest, I thought I would try to pickle it for a change.

Quick pickled apples are like magic in a grilled cheese sandwich.

In a bottle, I sliced in green apples. Then, I poured in my pickling liquid and let it sit for a day or two to infuse and pickle my apples.

For the pickling liquid ingredients, I used: 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cinnamon sticks and 1/2 ground ginger. Mix altogether and pour into the jar of sliced crispy green apples. Refrigerate overnight before eating. It will keep up to a week.

It's as easy as that. Nice to eat as snack and it didn't take long to make and eat it :)

Enjoy your day today.