Monday, 23 October 2017

Bee keeping is an easy passive income source

Dear Family & Friends

Our CEO is back on track with the inspiring concept of keeping bees. He got all the reason for that: First of all, he loves honey. Keeping bee is also a very good passive income - that means you can generate income without having your physical body to generate it, except for very minimal attention from time to time. The price of honey is not cheap because it is a natural good food and it can keep a long time too.

putting our honey into jars

An old village grandfather is mentoring our CEO on beekeeping. It's true that he got stung by the bees on a couple of times when he tried to refill their sugar water needs and topples it all up that the bees got threatened with what he was doing. Now that he is more calm and relax, he is able to perform better and no more fear of being stung. Bees don't like stinging people...because it means death to themselves:(

our very own honey with hint of herbs from our garden - superfood concocted by the bees

We are hoping to build up our bee colony in the near future...we will see how we can come up to fulfill this plan. We want to give more homes to these magnificent creatures. For now, I have all the reason and incentive to go for a beautiful natural garden...my share of inspiration for this venture. Gardening has become more meaningful, it is no longer a chore:)

Wishing you a wonderful week.

Yours

Thursday, 19 October 2017

the vintage russian bike

Dear Family & Friends

These days people tend to want to throw old thing in exchange for new ones. Perhaps for image reason? In our family, we value things of old. Many years ago, the landlord of the apartment we were renting during the first few years in Bulgaria, kindly gave us their very old Russian bike - Balkan brand. We were happy to have it.

Our old Russian, very heavy and sturdy bicycle

To date, it's my big girl's most favourite bike. She wouldn't want to change it for a new one. It draws a lot of attention from people. Some locals joke that during their great grandparents' day, this bike was their dream goal in life!

Our girls are trained and taught not to conform for no valid reason, nor be swayed by people's thoughts or opinions about them. Both are very confident about themselves: the good moral values they hold that we diligently imparted. They are very capable of thinking outside the box.


to date, the old russian bike is still very much in used:) and well loved too!

In fact this week, our big girl got her first ever job search and interview which she applied for at the newest office business park,  near to our city apartment. She cycled there for her appointment - on her old Russian bike and even managed to park it safely in the business center - guarded by the security guards, of course! :)

Life is good...Hope you have a fun day too.

Yours


Sunday, 15 October 2017

the beginning was an ugly garden

Dear Family & Friends,

In the beginning, our garden was ugly...full of rubbles, brambles, tall self seeded weeds...because it was abandoned for years before we got it.


We got our acts together and tidied up to see what we've got. Not much, but realized it was big enough garden size for us.


We didn't know much about gardening, but we tried our best in what we do and are not afraid to work hard.


Man, woman and children were employed...as a family unit, for there was no one else except each other.


On our own, we did vast improvements...and made wise plans. God helped us all along.


We made used of what we have in terms of material resources too.



Another season arrived and we kept plodding on for the job is still going on - steady but surely.


Some of the existing trees needed to be taken out for it was too old and unproductive.


Hard laborious work, but we employed our two hens to help us along. They did a great job too:) Scratching for garden pest, pooping to contribute to the garden's fertility.


Soon, we were ready to plant new fruit trees. We planted a lot of  trees of various kinds.



We also planted small plants, perennials shrubs, herbs, flowering bulbs and we became very confident indeed.



It was a continuous work. Day after day and season after season.


We worked mostly with our own hands.


These days, the garden is completely transformed. The investment we invested in the beginning, the hard work we put in, etc...we are now reaping our rewards.



Our garden is filled with various food that nourishes us without chemical toxins. It's a natural garden where all sorts of garden friends and foes co-exist..everyone contributing, to come up with a balanced ecology - a naturally healthy happy environment.


Every year, the garden gets more and more beautiful and productive in it's own way. It's a happy place to be in. For humans and all creatures great and small:)

Don't be intimidated with hard work for every reward is not far away:) Have a good day.

Yours

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

our garden tortoise is angelic

Dear Family & Friends

I'm not one of those who enjoy pets inside the house. I feel they have more freedom if they live in their natural habitat. Besides the chickens that we have - who often times horrifies our neighbor when they see them free in our garden,  scratching to their hearts content. We made a fenced ran for them but I think their fence got a secret gate where they go in and out...done with the aid of our other free roaming pet tortoise!

our pet tortoise with a halo in our strawberry patch

Well, this tortoise is absolutely no bother to us. He roams around the whole garden, digs a hole to bury half his body when he wants a long sleep. He goes into the chicken run to enjoy the company of the hens, eats and forage anything he fancy from the garden and he knows exactly what is good food for him. He also likes human company. Often when he hears us out in the garden, he is also nearby.


our tortoise knows which strawberry to pick

A free roaming, self sufficient tortoise is a perfect pet....he brings a lot of smiles to our faces. When strawberry season comes, he competes us for the ripest, sweet red juicy fruit there is to get. We have one patch of strawberry that we surrounded with a mini fortress fence of roof tiles around it, while we allow him to go for all others he could find. But no, he still wants what is growing inside that fortress. Often times, he climbs in with much struggle, falls on his backside, and tries again. Occasionally he succeeds with the challenge.

tortoise's left over

The girls think he is an angel of a tortoise...that they even gave him a halo for his photo shoot! Not all the time...because as you can see, he grabs the reddest strawberry and just have a little nibble, only to go find some more!! Oh well...at least he is one quiet pet and smart enough to look after himself:)

Hope you are having a wonderful day like us.

Yours

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Black Sea Holiday Trip For This Year

Dear Family & Friends

In Bulgaria, we are surrounded with mountains where it is cooler, but for the summer, we also have the option of the seacoast to go to. One of the advantage we have here is the weather...with seemingly endless sunshiny days throughout the year...with just the temperature cooling up and down that marks our four seasons.

I spent my time under this umbrella with our picnic paraphernelia...and laugh at their antics at sea

The locals would spend and enjoy their summer in the Black Sea Coast. Although there's no white sand to boast about but it's a seaside where one can go to cool or find a way to escape intense summer heat. Thus,  it is common to be asked 'Have you been to the seacoast already?' during the summer.

This is the Marina a few minutes away from the resort 

Since our children don't go to school, we always take our holiday break out of season when holidaymakers have finished theirs. It's less crowded, no car traffic, easy to find parking etc... As our two girls refer themselves as 'the serious swimmers', they prefer the privilege of an empty pool so they can swim freely without bumping into someone else.

the sea view in front of our two storey masoinette accommodation

Nezebar is an old town, a little island that is pretty and popular - of course it goes without saying...very touristy place too. The last time we were there was a traumatic holiday experience, many years ago. One that I will always remember because it brought me lots of tears caused by 'power struggle' and 'bitter attitude' in the group. I'm so spoiled with the unity within our little family of four that, other than that, I wouldn't find holiday enjoyable any other way. It's not the place, it's the company that matters.


blessed with a perfect weather 27C with cool breeze

This year, we had our family holiday weekend at a big hotel resort complex in St. Vlas. There were around 10 outdoor pools...but the girls preferred the indoor one because it's bigger and non-chlorinated. It was time for lots of swimming for the two mermaids- both in fresh water pool as well as in the sea. They also did surfing with their little boards:)

the resort is large and not too busy by this time as most are back to school and work

As for me, the highlight was a relaxing time at the resort with lots of eating. I also enjoyed their vast garden full of mediterrenean fruit trees and perennial shrubs where gardeners kept it all looking good. I got so inspired looking at their plants that I popped into the gardeners office to ask for permission to pick some of the dried flowers with seeds to take home. I'm so enamored with their fig and pomagranate trees. I mentally noted how I could apply some techniques in our own garden too.

Now we're back into our own cosy home, ready to take up the hectic list of schedule we know that is ahead of us. First, the laundry.... Ah, but before that, I hope you are all well and wish you a good week too:)

Yours 



Tuesday, 3 October 2017

homecoming bees part 2

Dear Family & Friends,

Following my last post, our village grandfather came to check our beehive to confirm if there really is a bee colony that settled in our empty hive as we suspect. He opened the hive...Lo and behold - we've got a miracle! We danced a dance of joy:) Oh, I can't tell you how happy that made us.


checking our beehive

Indeed it is a miracle. First of all it is very very rare that bees would swarm and get into an empty beehive by themselves. Secondly, It was around July or August that they got in there...the height of summer....it's too late for them because if they swarm, it normally happens in Spring time.

honey bees busy keeping their home in order

Our once empty beehive now got a tenant! There's a queen, eggs and even new babies already inside:) Our worry is that as we're entering autumn ....we need to get them strong for the winter season. Plants that hold nectar for their food to sustain them is winding down by now....so we need to help them by feeding them sugar syrup for this time.

Last year we were told that 40% of the bee population in Bulgaria died because of our severe winter. We have to be prepared for this and we will see to it that we insulate their home the best we could.


a valuable piece of our real estate

I'm so encouraged to have left my garden messy...plants going into flower looking scrappy...but they hold some food for our bees. We are now back with a noisy garden...exactly the noise that I want to hear everyday - bees buzzing all around me:):) Our bees are back home!

beekeeping in our garden

We thank God for this wonderful miracle. This is a big gift for us...and we did nothing for that matter. Moneywise, what would a bee colony cost? -  about 60 euros...but ours was given to us for free and most of all, there was no work involved from us:)

Hope you have a wonderful day like we have here.

Yours

Friday, 29 September 2017

homecoming bees?

Dear Family & Friends

Four years ago, we were dreaming of becoming beekeepers. A village beekeeper was happy to sell us a family of bees for 30 euros. A village grandma was happy to donate us her broken down beehive. Our CEO fixed it and we ended with two beautifully rennovated houses for the honeybees. We then purchased all other equipments like honeycomb frames, wax, smokers, protection hats etc... The kind beekeeper expert transfered the bee family into one of  our prepared hives.

beekeeper's place

After a year and a half, there were spare honey we could harvest for ourselves. Perhaps, we took one too much honey, or perhaps we were not prepared with a better insulation for the beehive as we had a harsh winter that year. By spring, we noticed we lost our bee colony...Have they left? Have they all died? The garden was eriee,  so quiet. It was strange for I love garden noises from the bees. We were devastated for we lost our bee colony.

our two real estate properties for the bees

The following year, another beekeeper promised to look out for bee swarm for us as he can't spare to sell us some of his bee family. It was hard to find swarming bees, but he got one for us:) He offered to care for them at his place before handing it over to us once they've settled down. Unfortunately, his own established bee colonies didn't like the presence of our new colony...there was a fierce battle! We rescued our beehive and quickly brought it over to our own garden premise...sad to say, they didn't survive the trauma...they became the casualty. Another great big lost ...another devastation for us.

interior of a beehive

We became a bit discouraged about the whole idea of beekeeping. With an empty beehive in the corner of our garden, it's all a reminder of our past sadness..Once in a while, I visit the bee area and one day, I noticed a few bees going into the hive....Are these bees scouting for a new home? Could I convince them to settle in? Perhaps they are just there gathering all the honey  left by the last lost bee family. We hoped for miracle: we hope a bee family will come to stay. Would they? Have they?

We will find out when a village grandfather will come to our house on the weekend to check it all out for us...for now....the story is to be continued. Till then...

Yours

Monday, 25 September 2017

Watermelon chutney - a slow cooker recipe

Dear Family & Friends

As summer comes to an end, prices of watermelon keeps on dropping down too. It's the best fruit to eat to quench summer thirst and to cool oneself. It is so cheap to buy and we mainly get them from roadside vendors. At the back of the vendor's van or car boot are big juicy heavy fruits...it's basically cheaper than supermarket prices. A kilo of watermelon is just 10cents Euro!! We easily eat 5 kilos in one sitting and that's not even a euro!!

that's the temporary summer roadside fruit vendor

Our chickens love the watermelon rind too! Sometimes, I even share the rind with them...it makes nice for stir fry, as pickles, or chutney for ourselves.  Yes you can cook them by just peeling the hard outer skin. Almost a no waste fruit.

Here's a slow cooker watermelon rind chutney that I made today. This would be good to pair with grilled BBQ.

In a slow cooker, mix together: 5 cups of watermelon rind...peel the outer hard skin and cut into small pieces, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 4 cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp pepper, 2inches grated ginger, and 1 sliced chili pepper. Cook on high for 5 hours. It's that easy. Put the chutney in a jar and refrigerate. It will last a few weeks. The flavour will increase even more after 1 to 2 days after cooking.

very cheap watermelon all filed up inside the car

Well, I've been busy preserving and storing food like a little squirrel while we are in the season of abundance. It's always good to have homemade ready food to eat. This food will keep us happy for weeks and months.

Since our garden failed to come up with cucumber this year for various reason, so.. we made use of watermelon rind as good substitution. Everything works for good as always:)

Hope your week is good and a beautiful one to enjoy too.

Yours

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dilema of the elderly folks

Dear Family & Friends

It started yesterday when my little girl asked her big sister to delivered her freshly baked half loaf of bread to our next door neighbour. So big sister walked over to their main gate and saw the 93 years old grandmother sitting by the door. As she hand over the bread, the grandmother started crying. She said: 'I now can't see much. I can't walk properly since I broke my hips 10 years ago, and I can't hear clearly either. The only thing I still have is my mind.' My girl told her: 'It's OK grandma, I can still speak to you - close to your ears, so you can hear me.'

our local village grandmothers

How lonely it must be for this elderly grandmother:(

Today whilst in our garden, my girl is more sensitive to the grandma's dilemma. She heard the grandmother crying aloud, calling: 'where is everybody?' She got her son and his wife living and taking care of her in that house, but during the day, they are involved in their daily works. So, my girl felt compelled to check her out if she is OK, but noticed that there's actually someone there with her.

in a quiet world

Probably, she felt lost and very alone in her own world without her sense of hearing and sight:( Or perhaps, as my girl says, she's also losing her mind because she cries everyday. Sad as it might be, but at least she is under the care of her faithful and loyal family.

The journey of life can sometimes be tough. Somehow, I'm pleased that the girls have the opportunity to see and feel this aspect of living in a real world scenario around them. They understand compassion for fellow humans and knows the importance of showing them dignity and honour.

But let's not forget to look to some positive bright side of living too. Have a good day.

Yours

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Old ladies do dream dreams

Dear Family & Friends

My big girl came back home after her cycling exercise around the village. As usual, she encounters people to chat along the way. Don't tell me she has no social skill being a home-schooler... for she is very capable of talking to old and aging folks, little tyrant toddlers, mid agers and teenagers alike...in the foreign languages that she is equipped with! ..in both local and overseas situations. Yet, when you look at her...she is a quiet sort of girl.


my perception of what my neighbor thought I look like....


Today we had good laugh together as she relay me about a conversation she just had with a local village grandmother. The grandmother told her that she dreamed about me last night - although, she says, she have never seen me before. Now, that's what we call real dream:D  I wonder what I look like in her dream?? Yes, old people still dream dreams:) I'm no exception!


one exotic beauty ... I hope? !

Well, it seems like summer is chilling out a bit as we face the end of season. We enjoyed a few T-storm with a bit of rain that helped me out with my watering the garden chore. I'm grateful because then, I use some of that time catching up with my sewing craft project.

Before summer is over... we dream of taking our usual short family holiday break. There's lots of choices to go for. Our CEO is working it all out for us:)

Hope for dreams... it's good to dream dreams:)

Yours

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Make haste wisely

Dear Family & Friends

It helps to rehearse my day's work by writing it all down before hand. This helps me accomplish and reach some daily goals. because... there are certain days when it seems like the hours in the day is just not enough...sometimes it's my energy level that is not enough. 


my yo yo floor rug is getting bigger

Without planning, it's most likely that some projects I started will never get to finish. I've been working on sewing multicoloured yo-yos with hope that I could clear up recycled scrap materials and end up with a beautiful floor rug too. This is done only when I get in between free time. 

everyday there's meals to eat

With a family to look after, there's always home cooked meals that has to be prepared every day...then  the clearing up etc. Just the every day thing that you do in a home easily fills the time.

the garden hose in the garden is my constant company

With most days pretty sunny.... the garden often wants some drink too. Certain part of our garden which I have to water manually with garden hose. It does take a while.

canning good food ... all will be consumed before then.

Then, there's always the chore of canning and preserving the produce that we get out of our garden at this time of the year. The preparation, cleaning and processing does take time too. 


garden harvest, chop, wash and getting it ready for the freezer

With some reliable kitchen gadget like the slow cooker - it helps as long as I organize myself. I've learned to take advantage of it for the cooking process. I then don't have the need to watch it boil over or get burned. While it is cooking slowly, I can do other chore freely. I prefer making ready made food and freeze them for later use. The hard work now means I won't have to do them later.

tomato quiche - quick and easy:)

This week was all about preserving tomatoes. Made a lot of tomato sauces for pasta and stew..I'll sent some to our city apartment freezer for when the girls stay there, they can just defrost and have homemade ready food to eat. Bottled chutneys to accompany sandwiches or as side dish for later on. Even just having precut and washed veggies in the freezer is always a help as prepping before cooking all takes time.

While I feel energized with the weather cooling down... I make haste. ...yes, there's a lot of 'slow cooked meat stew' which I like to do... I prefer to have cooked meat stored in the freezer than raw meat...that's just my quirky ways...and it all helps my day's planning.

Life is perhaps mundane and filled with everyday chores...but it is good. Hope yours is keeping you challenged in good way too.

Yours

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Fruits for the sweet tooth

Dear Family & Friends

We all like sweet food in this little home...specially fruits. I think most people do. We seldom buy fruits, except for watermelon which is so cheap in summer season. Otherwise, fruits can be expensive to buy in the quantity that we eat! As we grow them in our garden, it's a great money saver for us and when the season arrives, we can have them to our hearts content. Guaranteed organic too!

gooseberries are long gone..like most berries, they're garden snacks only

We only eat fresh fruits when it's season dictates. That's when it taste the best with full flavour of what it really is. Most of our fruit trees, shrubs and vines are still young, so it's not giving us great big quantity but definitely enough for us because the variety comes in succession. Some extra can be frozen for cooking and baking use later in the year, if any.


it's rare to see grapes displayed in our kitchen coz it's usually eaten from the vines!!

Sometimes, some fruit varieties never even reach our kitchen table....it's being snacked right from the garden source!

a better fruit peach yield this year - but eating so much gives a sour tummy

Fruits always taste good in the beginning...but as it comes in torrent, it loses it's magic appeal. Mostly because some fruits are acidic, that with much consumption- it sours one's stomach. So, it pays not to be too greedy.

our figs just loves to snag on our garden walls.

The one fruit tree that we all like and could consume a lot is Figs! It's very sweet and not acidic unlike most fruits. Not many homes in our village grows them.They are limited edition because they say it is not as easy going as other fruit trees. It grows and propagates easily but it needs shelter from the wind and our severe winter temperature, to survive. But as our garden is surrounded by walls...it works well with us and so I got carried away with my planting of at least a dozen of them on every wall area - with no regret:)

Almost half of them are now matured enough to give us figs...This year, it looks like there's more fruits...I hope I could have spare to make some dried fruits out of it. Dried figs taste much sweeter and it's the best snack ever! We occasionally buy them from shops but I think it is better if we make them ourselves. It will be cheaper and cleaner food for the body too.

If you've got space in the garden....it's really a good idea to grow fruit trees, shrubs or vines. There's nothing better than a fruitful garden:) Hope you are enjoying your garden too!

Yours