Saturday, 12 December 2009

Who Ordered Snow?

Well we woke up this morning to find that the weather forecasters were right - it had snowed overnight and is still snowing lightly now. Everything looks very wintery and dare I say it - Christmassy! Maybe it's hint that I should let the kids put the tree and decorations up.

So this morning we've been outside to get the horses and donkey some hay and water and also fetch in some logs for the fire. Wood burner lit, outdoor clothes now off and I'm warming through nicely with a hot cup of coffee and debating whether or not to add a dash of Rakia to it just for medicinal purposes!

Tonight I'm having a break from cooking as we're going off to visit my sister in law for pizza and alcohol, it's not often we drink but we do enjoy a good knees up now and again which usually means we play cards, have a laugh and generally put the world to rights over a bottle of vodka! Should be a fun night and she doesn't live far away so it's easy to get home too.

I've taken some photos of our surroundings today but admit that I forgot to take the camera outside with me and only realised after I'd removed my over trousers, coat and gloves so I've cheated and snapped some pics from the upstairs windows for you to have a look at.

The photo's look a bit dark and it's not really like that here today so I'll come back later and try to upload some better ones. Part of the problem could be my ultra slow internet connection!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Hopes and Expectations for 2010

I've been thinking a bit about what 2010 might bring and in reality I have no firm ideas. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball that would let me see the future but I guess some of the things still to come might not be what I'd like or expect.

As for hoping, well that's one thing that anyone can do, plus it's free! We can all dream and wish we'd won the lottery or invented something that saved countless lives. I'd just like to know that things will be all right in the end, not that things aren't good as they are but some things in particular could be better. Money is a concern here, we don't have huge savings or any investments to fall back on, but we don't lead an extravagant life either and don't want to.

I'd really like to be able to get the renovations of the house and bungalow finished over the next year, even to the point where the bungalow could have some paying guests staying there. Renovating a house on s small budget takes time, especially as hubby has done most of the work himself and will continue to do so when time/money allow.

Another on my list of "would likes" is a sofa! We've managed with a cheap sofa bed for 2 years now and I've hated the thing since day one lol it's functional but doesn't look nice and is very uncomfortable. Wish I'd been able to bring my 2 big, lovely, sink into sofa's from the UK but we couldn't fit them in the van or find storage for them until the majority of our stuff got shipped over. There are a few other things I miss from the UK and some things that we really shouldn't have brought as we don't use them and haven't done since they arrived. If I had to do it again I'd leave the dishwasher and tumbledryer and have brought wardrobes and of course the sofa's.

I also still miss our horses we had back in blighty, in particular my lovely Friesian X gelding, Sol, who I'd had from him being a year old and watched him grow into a fantastic looking animal with a temperament to match. Riding him was fantastic and he was a wonderful and loyal friend. Bringing them with us was an option but in my heart I knew that they'd be miserable in a horse box for the 4 days travel here so I made the best decision for the animals and sold Sol and Flint our young horse and gave away our old pony Rob and my very behaviourally challenged pet pony CJ, both to lovely homes. One day I'd like to track them down and find out how they're doing as I lost the new owner's details when my old UK mobile phone sim card disappeared. I hope they're still happy and well cared for with their owners.

In the new year I'm planning on posting about the pitfalls and common traps that catch people out when buying/living in Bulgaria. Plus some helpful hints to avoid being ripped off etc. And of course still waffling away about everyday things and hoping that someone out there in cyber space is actually reading this blog and getting a few laughs out of it!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Having a PJ Day

Today's been wet, windy, cold and dull, even the horses weren't too keen on being outside and have happily spent part of the day in their stables. I really must get round to sorting through our tool room to find wellies and boots that may be in there for the bad weather which we're expecting this weekend.

We'll be able to have more PJ day's soon cos it's cold enough now to be wearing winter over trousers so no-one will know what I have on underneath lol, coats and things were sorted a few weeks ago and the kids have even found their gloves from last year. Winter is closing in fast now and it seems ages since we've been able to wear sandals and shorts!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

And again the fridge was bare!

I'm amazed at how much the kids can eat these days - no sooner do I seem to get back from shopping and the fridge is empty again. Food that used to last us weeks now lasts only days and every attempt I make at stocking up on things doesn't last long at all.

In reality they don't eat any more than other kids their age, maybe I eat a bit less than I used to  so it seems like they eat more, but we all enjoy food.Going back to basics has helped bring about a renewed interest in things like hot pot, casseroles and soups and just as simple meals during the summer like seasonal salads with home made burgers or something similar.

My cooking has changed a fair bit since moving here and I now make more things from scratch than ever - sauces, jams, chutney, broth, soups etc. Cooking is something I can do but don't always enjoy, I used to class myself as a "Can cook but can't be bothered" but I'm finding that I'm starting to enjoy it more and love to potter about in the kitchen and preserve things.

Over the summer I made lots of jam and experimented with some marmalade too, it must taste ok as we've almost run out already so I'll have to dig through the freezer and see what bags of fruit I have stashed to make some more. The only thing left is a solitary jar of quince marmalade that we found today and mixed with some plain yogurt for dessert. At least it'll give me something to do for a while tomorrow, there's no tea to cook as there hopefully will be enough of the leek and potato soup I made tonight left for tea and lunch is usually sandwiches. I'm planning on making rice pudding too and am looking forward to that almost as much as another helping of soup!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Christmas Preparations

I use Facebook a lot  to keep in touch with friends and family and am reminded daily on how long it is until Christmas. Some people seem to be very excited about the forthcoming holidays and others have a definite "Bah Humbug" attitude.

I'd class myself as somewhere in the middle, not one to rush around and make sure my tree was up by 1st December but I do like Christmas and enjoy seeing the place decorated and the excitement grow in the children. I've promised the kids that they can put the tree and decorations up 10 days before Christmas, we did bring all that stuff from the UK and it's quite nice having something to remind us of years past.

We had hoped to be eating pork and turkey this Christmas with all the trimmings, plans were tentatively made, a piglet was bought to be fattened up and of course we bred some turkeys this year too. At this moment the turkeys are in the garden eating and hopefully putting on a last spurt of weight, the pig is in the barn with her sister and eating well but still too small to warrant eating! So maybe I'll have to go buy a piece of meat and our piglet gets a reprieve for a while.

On the other hand - Our female pig, Charlotte is starting to really look pregnant and the local pig expert says she is. So in about 5/6 weeks time we hope to have piglets here. Apparently anything between 8 and 15 is normal, once they're weaned we will be selling some but may keep one or two to rear for us to eat. We also have 2 piglets here from the same breeder as Charlotte came from last year, seeing them close together it's amazing to actually see how much Charlotte has grown in a relatively short time - she must be at least 150 kilo's now and we think she's bigger than last years boar.

Recent Weather

Up until the weekend the weather was lovely, sun shining daily and temperatures in the high teens during the day, brilliant for this time of the year.

The last few days however, have been foggy, dull, damp and much cooler. It's really starting to look like winter has found us. The trees are almost bare now so the wind fall apple supply for the animals has dwindled to next to nothing and time is running short for our young male turkeys too!

The latest on the weather forecast is that we're in for snow from friday, temperatures are set to drop with a windchill of up to -9 on some days.......not too good then, best sort out hats, gloves and woollies for everyone beforehand!  We have plenty of firewood but will have to set some time aside and log some more up and also split it down, it's not much fun trying to use a chainsaw in a snow blizzard!

I'd better try and get out to do some stock up shopping before the snow arrives too as we aren't sure how long it will last or how severe it will be. Last year we were stuck in the village for 3 weeks and were really glad of the food we'd stock piled in the chest freezer! The local shops do open but don't carry a huge range of products, mainly basic Bulgarian provisions like rice, bread, beans etc.

The kids are looking forward to the snow, son says he wants to try using a broken skateboard as a snowboard lol, best get the camera ready for that! Daughter says she won't be wearing ski trousers to school as they're not fashionable - that may be true but they keep you warm and dry so are essential in the winter months here, have mine all ready and wouldn't be without them! Although I'm not a fashion victim and prefer to be warm than trendy any day - the kids laugh at some of the things I wear but isn't that normal?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Something Smelly

Occasionally there's an awful smell in our house and over the last few days it's started again and was getting stronger! Yuck

Through past experience we now know what causes the smell and unfortunately we are part of the problem! Not that we smell bad but it's to do with how we try to keep the house rodent free. Now I'm all for healthy living, not putting chemicals on our garden produce and eating less fat etc, but rodents I just don't like and have no problem in baiting with poison inside the house - well away from the cats and dogs though of course!

We use a combination of poison (bought locally over the counter very cheaply and legal) and traps, although not the humane traps as I prefer to kill the vermin quickly rather than just catch them over and over and not actually cut the population down! Anyone living in a rural area will know that mice coming in is normal in the winter and as people who keep farm animals know you'll always get rats where horses etc are as the food supply is usually good. Based on this we expect a certain amount of vermin and do try to limit the food they have access too. Our problem is that although the poison works and kills them quickly, sometimes a mouse or rat dies in our ceiling cavities and then we get "The Smell". It really does pong and is quite easily distinguished from other bad odours.

Part of today has been taken up removing ceiling panels in our kitchen to find a critter, we knew it was there but weren't sure which panel it was inside.....3rd time lucky and we had a body! That's the second one since September. The question now is what happens when we actually get round to plastering the ceiling? At least this time my underwear draw doesn't seem to be affected and I don't have any new crotchless knickers!