Friday, 24 November 2017

the last pickings of summer in the garden

Dear Family & Friend

At the start of November, we had two consecutive nights of below freezing temperature. I feel sad to see how some of the plants got completely burnt of extreme cold overnight. Beautiful the day before, and soggy and wilting the next. It's time to move on...season dictates our movement in life.

picking some more chili peppers, my last harvest for the year

I've read that I can bring my pepper plants indoor during the winter and would probably survive and have a head start by spring time. I always plant my peppers from seeds as annual...but since I didn't have enough time to do a lot of things I planned to do, I will have to experiment this next year.  

our last harvest of basil from the garden for this year

Herbs such as basil is a 'must-have'. They are very handy for kitchen use and really brings up the level of deliciousness to any simple dish...it's also nice to eat raw. I have to collect their seeds and sow them again next spring so we can enjoy them once again. When basil starts flowering, it is also a great attraction for the bees - same with mint flowers, it send the bees frenzy!

got to have more hosta planted for this beautiful white fragrant flower next year

This year, I reminded myself to propagate my hosta plants so we can have more of these beautiful and very fragrant white flowers around our garden. Hostas dies back once our cold season arrives, but they will grow back in spring. Thus, before they disappear I must divide the plants by digging up the roots and subdividing it.

These are just some of the chores I need to do in the garden at this time. Life gives us a variety of interest as we go about out daily work...each day and season is unique...it's never really the same...so do enjoy each day:)

Yours

Monday, 20 November 2017

Lacto fermented cherry tomato recipe

Dear Family & Friends

Lacto fermented food are good for your body.We need probiotic to keep our stomach/guts healthy with good bacteria to fight off the bad bacteria. Once in a while I make pickled veggie for this reason. It's delicious, healthy and very easy to make. You know by now that I'm not one that likes to stay in the confine of a kitchen cooking intricated food. I work very quick and likes no fuss cooking but at the same time I hold great responsibility in providing the best food for my family.

lacto fermenting some of our cherry tomatoes

We still have the last few cherry tomatoes in the garden even as autumn crispy air is already with us. It goes without saying that most of us have gone off with the idea of eating fresh summer garden tomatoes as salad. So, I gathered my tomatoes and decide that it's time to start making my lacto fermented tomatoes for the season.

  1. First, make the brine water:  2 tsp of sea salt to dissolve in 1 cup of water ratio. (non iodised salt as they have chemicals, and use distilled water - boiled water will do me).
  2. Fill a glass jar of ripe cherry tomatoes. Prick them with fork or knife -to absorb the brine. Along with the cherry tomatoes, you can add you choice herbs such as dill, celery, pepper corn,mustard seeds - whatever you fancy. I like mine simply with slices of garlic.
  3. Then, pour in the brine solution. If you have grape leaves, put one on top to keep tomatoes from floating. Grape leaves got tannin and this will also keep your veggie in brine crunchy. Otherwise, it's also ok without. Most important is to keep the tomato submerge in the brine. 
  4. Loosely cover with lid and let it sit in room temperature for 2-3 days to ferment. Some frothy bubbles will occur.
  5. Keep it for another week in the refrigerator to develop further taste. The longer you keep it, the stronger the taste. It will keep for 3 months in the fridge if you don't eat them all that quick, like we do;P
A way of preserving tomatoes - easy and healthy snack food

This lacto fermented tomato is typical Russian/Bulgaria way of preserving tomatoes for winter...after the tomatoes are eaten, the brine water is also drank for health benefit:) We're having our fermented tomatoes before winter arrives:( ,  as I only managed to make two bottles for this year...I'll do better next year:)

Yours

Thursday, 16 November 2017

garlic here, garlic there, garlic everywhere

Dear Family & Friends

My dream of pickled garlic for next year might finally come true 8 months from today. I aimed to plant 200 garlic this autumn and I did. The seed bulbs were ones from my harvest this year, as I managed to grow big healthy looking bulbs. But then, that left us with limited supply for the kitchen use as I've only planted around 80 garlic bulbs last year. In reality, I should have 80 garlic cloves this year but only around 60 were harvested.

unharvested garlic bulb start sprouting in clumps

You see, along the way during it's growth period, someone decided to help me in my gardening and mounted a lot of soil onto my vegetable bed where my garlic was growing!...I was furious and accepted that I lost a few plants. I should have just chilled out...because those garlic I thought was buried alive under an avalanched of dirt were still OK even though I couldn't see them anymore.

got to dig the clump and divide and replant individually

A year onward, the missing garlic bulbs - the unharvested ones, start popping themselves up in clumps of green new leaf growth. I was happy to see them again. I dug them out so carefully, divided  each clumps into bulbs, all with healthy roots, and planted them in given individual spaces. I kept finding garlic clumps in the garden that I ended up with additional 100++ garlic  - planted out.

pre-peeled garlic can be frozen for future use

Garlic are so easy to grow and one that you should plant because it's expensive to buy, specially if you eat quantities of it. It's a very good food. a natural anti-biotic. We don't have a medicine cupboard in our home...no tablets, or pills lurking around whatsoever. When virus comes bothering (which is very rare), we grind garlic and eat them with toast...or, if you are like my husband, he just peel and eat them as it is. He would really stink but any colds, swelling, infection, pains immediately goes away:) It's very effective! ... I find garlic sweet and delicious - just frying them in little oil with some left over rice, plus a pinch of salt, makes the best garlic fried rice anytime - yes, better than any steak meal:)

Wishing you a great week. Mine looks a bit of stressful journey ahead, as I anticipate a lot of unexpected work...but I'll see to it that I will overcome it all.

Yours

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Processing homemade food all week

Dear Family & Friends

Just as I was about to finish the task of peeling all of my garlic cloves for storing, my girl asked if I am aware of the big 50 kilo rice sack - that's full of sweet pepper, sitting in the carport area? What?! I went to check....I almost cried....this will be one big and long job for me...hundreds and hundreds of mini sweet peppers inside! I have to wash them all one by one...then, I have to start thinking what to do with them. It's a gift from our neighbour Maria... not ungrateful, just overwhelmed.

The sackful of Sweet pepper is almost emptied

I'm not one who likes to waste food....so I have to be creative to come up with variation use of sweet pepper. In my chest freezer, I have already frozen 10 litres of pre-cut sweet peppers to use for future meals in stew, mix with stir fry, soup,etc. It freezes well and comes very handy. So, I chopped and frozen another 10 litres more.

never ending prepping of the sweet pepper harvest

Perhaps, I can pickle some of these peppers, but not everyone enjoys vinegary things as much as I do. I have to rack my brain for more ideas and certainly not the time to complain. With an extra small freezer in our city apartment, I can fill it with ready made food for my big girl's consumption, as she starts staying there during the week for her first employment journey. So, my other little girl helped me stuff the sweet peppers with precooked rice, herbs and grain mixtures this week...it took us all morning but they will be well appreciated later. I count my blessings.

dehydrating sweet peppers

This time I also tried dehydrating some for pepper flakes. I kept on trying and testing if it was dried enough -by popping them into my mouth, in the end, I only have a handful of dried sweet peppers. After grinding it, I don't think it will amount to anything! but not processing more as my poor old legs were screaming at me for being on it - literally all morning! So, my day came to a close:)

bits of sweet peppers for garden composting materials

For the next few post, I will share about fermenting veggies that we do here. Tis the season of preserving some of our produce because it's all good for our health and will probably get you inspired too, if not already doing so.

Yours

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The making of our personalized kitchen unit design

Dear Family & Friends

Time came when we have to install a kitchen unit for our tiny apartment. There was no suitable kitchen unit sold that would look nice and fit in our tiny space. We had to improvise and design our own...and that's the best part of it! Our brains start working...and creativity comes into place. We had to maximize our given space and the only way is to personalize a design.

a second hand shop that sells all sots of home furnitures and knick knacks - and the cupboard we saw

From a second hand shop, we saw this set of display cupboards...hmmm...not the right colour but it looks the right size for what we have in mind. We told the shop keeper we want them for kitchen unit. He said: 'This is NOT a kitchen unit and NOT a suitable one either.' We said: 'we will make it suitable'...he thought we were crazy but sold it to us for a good price anyway.



the cupboard was bought and in the processed of transformation

We brought it home and dismantled the units. We measured it and we're happy with it's slim line size. The set came with eight separable cupboard units. We only need the four and a half, but the extra units will be put to use somewhere. So, work commenced.


first... it was sanded

The units were sanded by our hard working girl. Then, it was painted over.


worked outside as it needed drying and painted again for a couple of times

Quite a lot of work as we have to have few units done.


the unit is now transported to where it will be assembled

We brought the painted units to the apartment and it fitted perfectly for the given space.

not exactly the sink I wanted but this was our only choice as we need the smallest size

A kitchen unit needs a kitchen sink of course. So we had to look for the smallest kitchen sink we could find. Not much choice....in fact there is only one, despite the fact I wanted a decorative printed ceramic basin, yet we had only this choice to take. That will do.


sink base was built to sit on top of the unit

Remember the cupboard was not meant for a kitchen unit. Not the right height to sit a kitchen sink for that matter either. But nothing is impossible. We planned for that ...and that is, to build one!


the cupboard was assembled as our kitchen unit, basically done but the area is still on working progress. 

At this point in time, we assembled it and was pleased with the project. We have yet to further decorate this space...but for now, it is already a functional kitchen unit area:) That second hand display cupboard which we bought for under 150 euros, was redesigned with simple ease and it looks perfect!

see how it fits in perfectly for the given small space? :)

Our main goal was to make this small open space not exactly looking like a kitchen..as we only have this space to use as kitchen, dining area, and lounge...and probably an extra sleeping area when needed! Ah...it is a challenge when you are only given a very limited area to plan and make it functional and aesthetic for a little family accommodation....but there's always a way.

There's more to come on our never ending and ongoing home and apartment projects... but that is for another day as we keep reaching our mile stone. For now, I wish you a good week - as always.

Yours

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Say hello to Gashti

Dear Family & friends

Our old Swiss Apenzella rooster has not been looking well, he's been with us for a long time and is considered to be very old by now. The last time I saw him, he was dust bathing under our peach tree. Just few hours later, he went missing. We never saw him again. Did he flew out past our garden walls? What happened to him? We asked around our neighborhood...he'll easily be identified because he is a beautiful decorative rooster...but we never saw our rooster Lindt again:(


this is Gashti - a little chick rooster going on peep peep peep!

In our village, everyone looks out for each other - the locals are very caring in their own ways. A village grandfather told the girls not to worry, as he would like to give them a decorative rooster from his flock as a replacement gift.

Today, the grandfather knocked at our door, with a little rooster under his arms. He said to the girls: 'Look, this rooster wears a special knickers/pants ... a long one down to his knees:)'. The rooster got long feathers frilling around to the top of his feet. You can imagine it to be similar to 'the begone underwear' that people used  to wear in olden days:D So we call our rooster  'Gashti' - which means underwear:)
see the extra feathers frilling on his feet?

It's such a beautiful sunny autumn's day... I got to go back and plant some more garlic...another 50 more and that makes 200 garlic bulbs planted! When you plant in good bulbs, they normally all grow well. Garlic is worth planting as it's an expensive health food. So, if each garlic bulb produces around 10 cloves each...that would be 2000 cloves to eat next year! Ha ha! I can't wait....no one will dare come near me by then - that will truly be a peaceful living:D

Here's good wishes for your day and have a lovely week too.

Yours

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

It's beginning to look like autumn

Dear Family & Friends

Summer seem to have left us sooner than later. With the arrival of almost a week load of rain, all of a sudden, when sunshine came back, we noticed autumn is here. Yikes!.. time is ticking faster than I want it to...I have yet to plant my garlic - all 200 of it for this year!..to keep the vampires out:)

wild fruit trees

I wasn't given any notice by the migrating birds, but I think they have already left and headed back to Africa as they do yearly. Yes, the swallows, the hoopoes and the storks. Their presence usually marks the beginning of spring to beginning of autumn. Bon voyage till we see each other next year again:)

autumn skyline

Our village home is now ready for the change of season. Logs were ordered, an essential  need to keep us warm in the winter. Rather late this year due to many home improvement projects here and there that kept us busy. Thus, we had to pay high price for wet logs:( At least we know we have spare supply to use, as there's still plenty from last year's leftover. Logs are delivered by a lorry who just dumps them by the garage entrance. Then, our little family rallied together to ferry these cut logs with several wheel borrow trips back and forth to our barn in the garden. This year, our neighbor helped in and he got some 'laugh along' and shared a gossip or two.

local forest where logs for winter comes from

There are certain seasonal things we do as time dictates. Our family certainly enjoys these routines together...work for us is fun. I'm proud to say that having well trained our girls, is a great contribution to all the joy we find in life...a fun filled united family is precious.

Hope you are enjoying your week too.

Yours

Friday, 27 October 2017

creative works done for this week

Dear Family & Friends

We have amazing talented folks in our household that I just have to share with you. Our 15 year old bought a child's skirt on sales. ..it was cheap and she likes the material. Of course it  won't fit her but she wanted to turn it into a blouse for herself! By recycling the material and sew a  blouse she designed herself! She is a genius:)

an off shoulder blouse designed and hand sewn by our 15 years old

She enjoys sketching fashion clothes, she loves to look nice, she is creative and she taught herself to do sewing as well!

our fashion designer modeling her own clothes

What I'm proud of is their attitude in life. My children never demand anything from us... nor are they attracted to the many unnecessary gadgets and stuff that normally children acquire these days. By not having everything is only a good thing, because this is what makes them creative in their ways. 

this is hand stitched, almost like machine sewn:)

Since our old sewing machine is not functioning anymore, she patiently sewn this blouse by hand. She stitched it so neatly that you would think it was done by a sewing machine! Our two girls always makes us proud as their parents:)

working on a mini sink base to be laid on top of a slim cupboard. 

On the other hand, our CEO himself made a work of art! ...built a personalized small kitchen sink unit, using recycled material that a builder's merchant gave him for free. Since we couldn't source a mini-sink to sit on top of a slimline cupboard that we have on hand...we therefore have to design and make our own! 

It's all very exciting in our home with lots of ingenius ideas flying everywhere. Hope you're all having good fun too.

Yours

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