Friday, 19 May 2017

Gardening wise...

Dear Family & Friends

My journaling seems to be about gardening these days...but this is the time of the year...and I really can't help it. I hope that you will join me in this enjoyment - for it's just pure joy - being out in the greenery.

Our entire village population is now busy with growing food in their gardens. I'm constantly amazed with all the hard work they do...putting me to shame because most of them are old people. Retirement is not a concept. Today I'm going to show you just one photo of Baba Maria (grandma Maria) garden when my daughter visited her yesterday.

THIS IS NOT MY GARDEN. This is Maria's garden - a typical garden in our village

Baba Maria lives on her own and like many, she manages her garden herself without any garden machinery - just hand hoe tool!! Yet it is all neat, everything in straight line, and very productive too. There's a lot of planting because this production will be food for the entire year. But sad to say, to achieve this...they have to use chemical spray. Now.... that's a big No NO for me:(

THIS IS MY VEGETABLE GARDEN.  A vast difference from our neighbours' one


Most of them are not impressed with my chaotic gardening style...and they think it is because I'm a foreigner and I do things differently, or don't know how to do it right??! 

I admire their neatness...but I don't agree with keeping the soil bare and exposed. I like to work with nature and I have to respect and keep my environment from any poisonous chemicals. My style of vegetable garden bed are very different from theirs. Although I maintain veggie beds, I don't grow them in a monoculture way. I mix and match different veggie in several group with a bit of flowers here and there. This deters and confuses the pest from attacking the plant that they are looking for. 

my walking onions, is starting to produce little onion bulbs

In contrast, my garden is also very full all year round with various plants. Most of my neighbours have their garden all cleared up once summer harvest is done. ...perhaps a few winter veggie in autumn but mostly everything is put to rest with clean soil - not even a weed in sight, till spring. Although I don't work as much as they do - strength wise, yet growing as many perennial plants and leaving plants to self seed keeps my garden looking busy all year long.

a closer look of the top head - I think they look like the Medusa 

Talking about perennial plants, I must show you my favourite onion: the walking Egyptian onion. These grows all year round...they survive winter freeze and at this time, they are producing little bulb onions, not underneath but on top! They look like Medusa:) If I don't harvest the bulbs, it will bow down to touch the ground and grow more onions!! Just one of my garden secrets...having free food from the garden without doing too much work is to plant plants that grow themselves:)

Let's be wise in all our ways. Then, we learn to enjoy the free gift of life:) Have a good day!

Yours

Monday, 15 May 2017

Enjoy a good life

Dear Family & Friends

Our CEO, who is also my garden Assistant, always enjoy his part time gardening works. He normally does the things that I'd find too heavy and hard to tackle. He finds gardening relaxing and Saturdays are the usual free days for these.


another beautiful day to get to the garden and work some fun

Lately, it has been hectic for him to fit in Saturday gardening into schedule as  he got another project that he focuses on. But when he finds a few free hours during his week's schedule, he couldn't resist the garden visit.

except for our persimon tree (still just about budding) all other trees are already filled with lots of new leaves 

A garden shouldn't be seen as a chore...it is something to be enjoyed. So long as we plan it well and work with nature. Perhaps we notice that in a forest, no one does the gardening, yet it maintains just as well - if not better.


tiling needs precision with level as you work your way up

These days, our CEO is busy with finishing the bathroom works for our city apartment. He works on our apartment decorating project only on Saturdays or when free days present itself.

we didn't realized that subway tiles would take more time and effort because of their size.

It's a good little project because it gives him some challenges as he learn to do things that he never thought he could do! His confidence and skills grows in leap and bounce:) He is happy and we are all happy for him too!

it's almost there... but we never rush ourselves. a day at a time:)

Our two girls never cease to admire their father's hard working character. It's always a good testimony to other people around us. It sets as a role character model in our own family. The important thing is that at the end of the day, when you achieve something through honest good work, you feel like you met life with satisfaction and joy.

Life is too short, so enjoy it. Enjoy your day and stay happy:)

Yours

Thursday, 11 May 2017

May Gardening 2017

Dear Family & Friends

We had T-storm almost every day for a week: Sunshine, then the wind blows, and in comes T-storm, sometimes the rumbling comes in with a drizzle or a torrent of rain, at times just dark clouds which clears up again to welcome back sunshine! I still say it is a perfect spring weather. No complaint whatsoever. I love being in our garden - protected in a bubble world full of plants, and so with the rest of our family crew:) Here's why - as I share with you some photos to cheer your day too:)


Granny's Bonnet (aquigelia)  shooting it's flowers skyward

The perennial Granny's Bonnet are left to self seed where they want. I noticed they like being closed with the Lavender plants. These flowers are beautiful. They come in many forms and colours but I only have pink ones, some darker than the others. Nonetheless, all beautiful:) Some seeds landed in my vegetable patch...I don't have the heart to pull them out even if I want that space for my veggies...After all, they attract many bees to the veggie patch too!


My veggie patch beds edged with flowering chives on each sides. A trench is in between as my walkway

There's also clamps of chives which  my two girls planted in rows two years ago. We lined them to act as veggie beds' edging. Now the strong big clamps holds the soil of the beds up and it also attracts many bees. 

I was transplanting some plants onto the bed this week and it was a bit too crowded for us all. Bees and butterflies were also working in the same area and they were all at my backside - literally!!


Row of rustic looking wooden stakes are placed in the middle of the beds for my tomato plants

At the end of the veggie patch is the area where the chickens are. They are my curious audiences whenever I garden. This week I ramp in some rustic looking A-frame wood stakes for my tomatoes in the middle of most veggie beds. Every time I hit the metal tube with the hammer to created a hole for me to put the wooden stake in, the chooks make a corresponding noise...the good fun we all had!


Can you see some green sprouts shooting out of the recycled wooden stake I used?

In my kitchen garden, I also placed a few wooden stakes which I'm growing some climbing green peas and later on I will plant in my cucumbers in the same row. I usually just pick up leftover long stems of fruit trees for my stakes. I also use some long cut stems of a plant which our big boss took  steal from our village forest.  Lately, I noticed that the stakes are all sprouting with green shoots!

My lavender bush edgings

The perennial lavender bushes are all growing very robust and are already shooting out lots of flower buds. From two parent plants I bought almost five years ago, I have succeeded in growing rows and rows of lavender from mere cuttings to fill our garden with. Even the two mother plants are still going very strong and are now so big a bush! I probably could fill up big pillows with dried lavender flower this year. The CEO is still insisting that I propagate some more! More??!

old frying pan recycled to house a stonecrop/hen and chick plant

By our water well...which have kept me so busy lately, as I manually draw water by throwing bucket down to get free water for my new seedlings, a sedum plant was growing where I had to stand on...so I took it out and planted it in a frying pan. Then, I sat it on top of a cherry tree stump. It will be beautiful once the pan has fill itself. I'm sure it will bring me some pleasure in due time:)

So, that's how part of our garden is looking for the moment and all the fun that had been done. I hope you get encouraged in your garden too. It's good for physical exercise and good for the soul:)  Wishing you a good weekend ahead:)

Yours

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The rowing canal of Plovdiv City

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family enjoys living in our village home, yet, we also like to visit our city apartment every week...it's not the city buzz we are after...it's that piece of oasis where peace and quiet prevails. Five minutes walk from our apartment complex is a little forest area that leads to a big 8 kilometers open air, oval man-made rowing canal.

the hanging solid concrete bridge mid-way the oval rowing canal

It's an oasis for city dwellers....many people takes refuge to enjoy a quiet walk, cycle around on specified cycle lanes. Others would do roller blading as it's all flat and paved for that sort of activity too:) A good family destination.

cycling and walking lanes around the canal

Recently, the city of Plovdiv have invested on cycling lanes in the city centres, making it all very attractive and safe. We are a great fan of this idea:) I feel so proud of this city. 

the vast water content of the canal, where fresh water fish resides as well

From time to time, there's local and international rowing competition in this canal. We often see rowers doing their practices while their coach cycles around the oval canal, shouting some encouragements to their trainees. There's a rowing school in the area and other sports in the vicinity.

All very peaceful, quiet and safe -  sitting in bench and watch people goes by

Our little family finds it therapeutic to do cycling fun. Some of us, except me, cycles a complete circle of 8 kilometers at least twice, making it 16 kilometers without puffing!! I like sitting on a quiet bench and watch them pass by:) It's very entertaining too;P

the abundance of clear blue skies is one of the pluses here

In five minutes, we're all back in the apartment, replenishing food calories. We live a good and simple life of which we are thankful of each day. I'm so blessed with this little family...each one very happy and content, without bitterness in life. I pray it is the same with you all too:)

Yours

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Our food forest garden

Dear Family & Friends

Our CEO was talking to a guy in Germany about our garden and after sending him a photo of it, he invited him over to be his guest in Germany for consultation on his vast garden. Then husband admitted that our garden is basically the 'wife's' project...so, I also got invited to be his guest. To be honest, I don't think I can claim to be an expert and therefore not keen on the offer. The truth is: although I enjoy gardening, yet I have no intention to be a slave to it since I just take an easy maintenance in the most natural sort of gardening style.

This is what our mid-spring garden looks like now - packed!

In Bulgaria, we have very intense dry summer...this last for about three months from June to August...long enough to drive me crazy. Over the years, I have to come up with a solution and that is to create a micro-climate. As summer heat is not normally accompanied with humidity, we can bring coolness by just planting trees to create shade.

some of our fruit trees were grown in recycled yogurt pots not too long ago
Our garden is not massive but it is big enough. By now, we have planted around 40-45 fruit trees within our enclosed garden walls. That's a lot of fruits to come. We are starting to reap the rewards. There's about all sort of fruits you can imagine - non-tropical ones of course...such as apples, pears,  peaches, plums of green, red and purple variety, sweet and sour variety cherries, quinces, apricots, mulberry, persimmon, pomagrenate, figs, almond nuts, hazelnut, chestnut...not including the rows of grapes, kiwi and berry bushes like gooseberries, raspberries, goji berries, aronia and strawberries. They are all self sustaining with very little maintenance involved. Growing trees is much easier than maintaining a grass lawn! The fact that we now took out the lawn in favour of a fruit orchard:) The best thing I've done!

not too long ago - trees were with blooms - they rapidly changed and progress on
My food forest dream have been created and it's not difficult to aim for. I go to the garden and I thank God for He basically makes them grow and sustains them for me. Our job is to harvest and enjoy the fruit of our labour...perhaps a little bit of pruning - 'IF' needed. As for making it fruit, well, that's not my job...the bees pollinate each tree one after another! As for fertilizing for the health of the trees, well, keep it messy, let the leaves drop without clearing them up and keep bushes around it to house creatures who will do the feeding for the trees.

now, the fruit trees are well into leave stage with  the flowers swelling into fruit form

Trees takes in their water from deep grounds. I don't water trees except when they were newly planted. No work - yet, they provide us all the shade to shield us from intense summer heat with their full on leaves, and by winter we get back all the sunlight to keep us warm as they drop all the leaves down and mulch their surroundings to keep the water they need from evaporation:) Amazing design!

trees are beautiful in every season - they change from stage to stage

No more garden secrets...all my dirty gardening habits are out...but I tell you..that's the best thing I've learned in life that makes sense - natural gardening:)

herbs such as chives, lemon balm grows along side with flowers of all sorts

Perfect spring time season...I'm off to enjoy some gardening work. BTW, we had -2C for two nights in a row last week (in mid spring!)...it burned the tips of my bigger potatoes, beans and tomato plants, including my mulberry tree that started budding after winter hibernation...- sad....but I don't worry about those things...they recover fast - back on track:)

In life, not all problems are really problem...so enjoy and always look to the good side:) I'm happy and you should be happy too!

Yours

Friday, 28 April 2017

Sunrise and Moonlight

Dear Family & Friends

This photo was taken at around 6AM in the early spring. It's a very beautiful morning ...as usual:) The sun and moon are registered in this one photo.

sunrise and moonlight

I'm not sure if you could see it clearly ... there's a quarter size moon on the upper right side of the photo in the blue sky...at the same time - the sunrise!!

Now, my husband is proving his point that our earth is not round, nor is it orbiting around the sun base on this matter. What do you think? Could he be true in his observation? Have you ever thought about these things? - a flat earth?

So many things to tackle this coming days...both in our village home and the city apartment with home, work and school life, but we are all looking forward to a good weekend as always. Hope you do too:)

Yours

Monday, 24 April 2017

Giving old furniture a new life - Family Teamwork


Dear Family & Friends

Sometime ago, we bought a second hand furniture which fits in perfectly for our apartment kitchen. The size was perfect but the colour is not. We prefer old furniture because they are sturdier than the new ones sold these days. An added bonus for our choice was that: the four pieces of furniture cupboards which is equivalent to eight sections...was only 140 Euros for the lot!

An electric sander makes work easy:)

The restoration project is worked on by our big girl, under the supervision of her father. The furniture has to undergo a lot of sanding as we want to paint it afterwards to fit in our design concept.

but of course, nothing beats the human touch:)

An electric sanding machine is handy, but from time to time, hand power is also need for specific hard to get corners.

working to give an old furniture a new look

We are so blessed with teenagers who are just happy to take responsibilities. Our big girl can't wait to see the finished furniture restoration she's doing. Every step and progress is counted as reward.

the temporary workshop is located in the front garden

The next step after sanding is the painting job. By this time, the furniture gets a new look...just what we wanted and envisioned it to be. 

this is the last step - the painting fun

Section by sectioned has been done and soon it will be a part of our apartment kitchen.

it's all coming together

There's also an armchair that we are working on for the apartment. This week, we finally managed to find sponge material for the seat...and I'm set to finish the cover etc... Not a complicated work and I'm pleased with it. I'll try to share with you the finished work next time.

another fun project - re-upholstering an armchair with new cushion seat

It might sound that there's always a never ending work and project...but working together as a family team is something very rewarding for us. I count this a great blessing:)

the best team project is found in the kitchen area:)

In the kitchen...my little girl is also very happy to spent her time making these time consuming homemade wrap. After training her, she's an expert on these now. I prepare the stir fry veggie fillings, plus the sauce , and she supplies me with the crepe-like wrappers. Another family team work. Then we all enjoy it together afterward:) It always taste good like this...

I hope you enjoy your family circle and maintain unity as always...for there's nothing better than that. Wishing you all a good day:)

Yours 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Already half way through spring

Dear Family & Friends

One by one our fruit trees displayed their best blooms, and the faithful and hardworking bees pollinates them during their daily visit. There's always a tree full of blossoms in our garden because different fruits displays their blooms on different stages one after another depending on their variety. The last fruit tree in our garden to bloom is the quince tree.

fruit trees blooming one after another

Somewhere under one of those fruit trees, is a pile of chopped and dropped trees branches for composting. Somebody stood and contributed his liquid gold onto the pile of compost to activate it even more, and the unexpected warm shower woke up our tortoise from his 7 months slumber! to the delight of the two girls. ...as they have been wondering where and when he would make his appearance once again. 

Our tortoise finally woke up after 7 months...and very hungry!

The weather is warming a degree higher each week...my seeds are fast germinating in the recycled pots. One by one, I transplant them to their final destination in our vegetable garden where they will continue to grow for our kitchen table.

potted seeds sprouted

Recently I've just gone mad on anchovie little fishes. They cook so fast, rich in calcium and you eat the fish - bones and all! I remember eating them as fritters when I was young...so I went to find this recipe and been making them almost every week!

anchovie fritters


We are half way through our spring season - already! Hope you are all doing well and happy where you are:) Enjoy your day and stay happy - for the best is yet to come:)

Yours

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Come outside - miracles are waiting everywhere

Dear Family & Friends

Spring time always brings out the beauty in the garden... but it is not just confined in one place. We went exploring in our village and we saw a long procession of caterpillar crossing the road.

moth caterpillars crossing the road enmass

It's fascinating to watch them all linked up together as they walk to their destination. These caterpillars will eventually turn into moth but they could be destructive when a very large numbers of them come and feast on pine trees.



tag along caterpillars

All is peaceful and quiet in our little village. From the top of the hill we see fields that are slowly worked on, for this is the time and season for it.

view of our little village from the hillside

 In our weekend trip to the city, spring also makes people come out more in the open from their apartment dwellings. We saw a group of people enjoying a hot air balloon ride on this warmth day.

hot air balloon ride

Well, we also spotted a pink vintage car on the road...I suppose this is in keeping with the spring time mode:)

Old Russian car still good!

Spring brings another new season...we are still keeping check with our goals whatever the season...always very thankful and contented for life is good in Bulgaria. Hope you are keeping the same outlook. Stay happy for there's nothing better than that:)

And, don't forget to come outside everyday because miracles are waiting everywhere:)

Yours

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The up and coming Ikea competitor

Dear Family & Friends

Our two teenagers are very united with our little family... they so appreciate that we bought this little city apartment which is theirs. The great thing is that, they both understand that there's a great deal to work for in life. Every Saturday, we go there for a bit work...and holiday fun in between! It's not completely finished, yet it can be called livable already.

the furniture restorer's workshop

For the meantime, we need to build our kitchen units which has to be personally designed in order to maximize the space area, as no ready made kitchen unit for sale qualify the specification we require.


Another one more to go....

We bought cupboard furniture that fits in size but not the right colour, to convert into our creative kitchen we have in mind. That's when our ingenuity comes to play. We have to refurbish it. Our big girl is so committed with the idea. Everyday, she works on this 6 parts furniture: sanding bit by bit using machine sander and hand-power for the nooks and crannies. It's a lot of work....before we are able to paint it to fit in our design concept.

She's really doing a very good job - so proud of our hard working teenager

The work and responsibilities we present to our teenagers are 'well' taken as opportunity to develop strong characters that is needed these days for a successful life. They still got the responsibility of finishing their educational studies at the same time. With this, they develop a work life balance...able to tackle and arrange their own daily schedule to accomplish their responsibilities.

If only I can send you the fragrance of these flowers...

Everyday I see my big girl juggling school work along with pressuring herself to finish the furniture restoration, as she is so keen to see it installed in the apartment as soon as possible. Her father would always remind her to take the time in order to give the very best of her work as oppose to rushed job performance. Patience is an important virtue too:)

At least part of her time when she works outside, in my front garden, to sand the furniture, she's filled  with the fragrance of my hyacinth blooms...yes, there's no better workplace than this:)

Keep motivated in life, for life is meant for good.. and it is good:) Have a good day!

Yours

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Colour me beautiful

Dear Family & Friends

With the change of weather, we can't help but enjoy it. We have good intentions of visiting our city apartment each Saturday to do some work, but for the past weeks, no much progress or work done because we're just enjoying our time there!! So, this Saturday, our CEO said he is not taking us 3 ladies with him. He is serious in doing some task on his own!!

colour me beautiful!

Aw??!! Yes, we're banned...but life is still good, days are never ending rays of sunshine. I'm sure sooner or later we will say we have enough...but for the moment, we just got to enjoy what is before us:)

Our garden, the place where I get to admire the Great Designer's handiwork:) Awesome!

No need to go too far, just wander into the garden...there's just so many beautiful and inspirational things to see.

white blossom of the plum tree

Most of the fruit trees are in full bloom - putting out flowers even before their leaves. The whole tree just bursting with hundreds and hundreds of little flowers that smells so fragrant! ...and the buzzing of visiting bees are literally too noisy - but it's a nice noise to my ears:)


blue grape hyacinth

On the ground, buried bulbs are back with their spectacular flowers. They come back every year - roughly at the same time and place. Isn't that amazing! A few bee species visit each and everyone of them too:)

new leaves emerging along with the blossoms

On some fruit trees, as the blossoms are aging a bit, new fresh leaves are emerging ...all leaves shiny and clean:)

blazing red orange

Endless sunbeams, plus cool air...we are blessed with a good measure of them...day after day:) If it is possible to post them to you...I certainly would:)


sunset in our village

If a picture paints a thousand words, then I'll surely paint these things that we see surrounding us:) The old folks that remains in our village knows this secret beauty so well.

the left handed artist at work

We are ever so grateful for all these beauty that surround us too. If we have this good, I really wish you have them too!! - even more...if there's such thing:)


we also call this painting job:)

Some of us paints nice picture paintings, but some of us...also do some serious sort of painting too. I'll share with you on that on my next post...because it's also very good:)

Have a good day and keep rejoicing.

Yours