Sunday, January 4, 2015

Soft Pumpkin Cookies and Goodbye Vacation



Like I said in my slice-and-bake cookies post, I have decided to let loose during the holidays and indulge in making and eating some homemade sweets. This year I made a ton of tikvenik (pumpkin pastry with cinnamon and walnuts) for our Christmas and New Year celebrations, but I ended up with a piece of leftover pumpkin that I didn't use. I was wondering what to do with it (it was not enough for my favorite baked pumpkin soup) when I came across a recipe for soft pumpkin cookies on Food for the soul. It just so happens that I do usually like my cookies soft, even chocolate chip cookies, so I though I'd give the recipe a go. I changed the filling a little bit, though: instead of cream+sugar+butter+curds+mascarpone, I did a simpler cream+a little bit of powdered sugar filling, and for the marmalade filling, I used my homemade quince marmalade without much added butter. I liked the recipe, and the cookies turned out very delicious indeed. I will enjoy them on my last day of freedom before the work week and the work year officially starts :)



Thursday, January 1, 2015

All That Happened in 2014



So, what happened in 2014?

Commissioned art (read more about one of the pieces here)
New job!
Team building in Verona and the Tyrolean Alps
Greek road trip to Thessaloniki, Lefkada, Meteora and Katerini
Two weddings: being a bridesmaid at my friend Lilly's and a guest at the other wedding in Arbanasi  (read more here)
Museum Night in Sofia
One Design Week in Plovdiv (read more here, here and here)
Product training in Osijek, Croatia
Reenactment of the April Uprising in Koprivshtica (read more here)
Day trip to the Krushuna Falls
Holiday parties and reunions with friends
10 year reunion at the American College of Sofia
Some articles about me (read here and here)

and that's just in brief :)

And what to expect (and hope for) in 2015?

More commissioned art.
New products in my art shop (stay tuned!).
Travel, travel, travel! Somehow it always seems like I don't travel enough, even if this year alone I had three trips abroad and many more around Bulgaria. I am kicking off next year with a birthday bash with friends in London, and we'll see how it goes from there.
One Design Week again, and maybe this time I will try to participate in the bazaar if I have time.
More weddings coming up.

And let's hope for:
Healthy lifestyle and lots of movement
More time spent with friends
Only happiness on the personal front

New year, here I come!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Holidays

The holidays are usually my time to take a stab at new recipes, especially if they involve baking and sweets. I have given myself a free pass from my healthy diet for the month of December, so cookies were definitely on my agenda. I even had the grand plan of making big batches of cookies as Christmas treats, but between reunions with friends, collage making, and cooking for dinners and parties, I never found the time. Which is why these are not Christmas cookies, but New Year's Eve cookies :)


I seem to have a habit of trying out recipes from Smitten Kitchen around Christmas (two years ago it was the clementine cake, for example), and this year was no exception. The challenge was making slice-and-bake cookies, and I dare say that they turned out pretty good. I haven't been the best at making cookies in the past; I seem to be so afraid of having them be raw that I end up overbaking them and having to eat a batch of close to "break your teeth" hard cookies. Not this time. I have learned my lesson. I left them in the oven for just the right amount of time, and I took them out even when they still looked a bit soft to me, but it was the correct thing to do. They turned out just right.


I modified the recipe a little bit by making the cranberry version of the cookie with coconut, and I also made a chocolate cookie with mini chocolate chips and walnuts, which turned out very tasty. There is a fancy hotel close to my office where we usually have work events, and they always serve cookies like these at coffee breaks. Now I can make my own coffee break at home. Since I don't drink coffee, it will be more of a tea break. With cookies.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lilly & Alex Wedding Invitation Design

It's been months now since my close friend Lilly's wedding (you can see Lilly & Alex's engagement photos here), but it was one of those beautiful events that you won't forget for some time. As a bridesmaid and the "artistic one" in our group, I was tasked with the extremely important and highly classified mission of creating and printing the wedding invitations.


Lilly had decided that the color of the wedding (apart from the obvious white) would be purple, so it was logical that the invitations would have to follow this color scheme. At first I thought that it would be nice to create a monogram / logo for the wedding like I did for my friend Dani's wedding here, and I actually came up with some pretty good designs that you can see below. They feature the first letters of their names in the Cyrillic alphabet.




However, because Lilly and Alex wanted their wedding to be elegant in a classical way, the couple and I decided to use a more timeless approach and simply have their full names arranged together in a beautiful script. Next came the actual invitation. I created three different designs as a starting point in order to be able to give the couple some food for thought and see what kinds of styles they like.








They liked both the design with the bride and groom and the delicate flowers and ribbons design, but they ended up choosing the bride and groom. I made some tweaks to the text and visuals, we decided on a Pantone color to be used, and, finally, I had a beautiful design ready for printing.



We decided on a white pearl paper, which is a standard choice for weddings, but a really elegant one. The combination between the purple color and the pearly white turned out to be sparkly and beautiful.




In addition to the invitation and envelopes, the couple decided to give the modern version of a "mixed tape" as party favors, namely a "mixed CD" with the favorite songs of the bride and the groom. I designed the CD and its packaging in the same style as the invitation, and printed it on the same pearl paper. The guests loved these party favors - they were a big hit!




As finishing touches for the wedding I also created a label for the special wedding rakia, a traditional Bulgarian fruit brandy, as well as a label for the wish book for the bride and groom that you can see below. All in all, it was an elegant affair with elegant stationary and design.


And here we are, the bridesmaids, in all of our purple glory :)


Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Good Life: Wedding Gift Abstract Collage

I was at a lovely wedding in Arbanasi yesterday, a mere day after Pavel and I got back from our Thessaloniki-Lefkada-Meteora-Paralia Katerini Greek trip, so it has been an eventful two weeks. Just before we left for Greece, however, I decided that I had to add a little something to the customary money envelope that everyone gives at Bulgarian weddings (for those of you who don't know, pretty much nobody here registers for gifts when they plan their wedding, so guests usually contribute money instead of presents at the celebration in order to avoid a "two juicers and three toasters" situation). I was rummaging through my tempera painted paper stash, and I found such a vivid piece with a warm orange and magenta base and violet and green accents that I decided it was perfect for a wedding gift collage. I added another fiery orange piece and a green accent, and the end result is below.


I called it "The Good Life" because it is colorful, dynamic and rich, and I hope that the bride and groom enjoy the best life possible together. If the wedding is something to judge by, I think that they will do just fine. I think that the guests, and especially the best man, who danced away the night and even took a dip in the pool with his clothes on, had tons and tons of fun.

Here is "The Good Life" again:



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Poetry: Commissioned Original Artwork

Some time ago I sold my painting Beginning through my Etsy to a woman in the US. Little did I know that this client was no other than the Baltimore-based art consultant Robin Bozzuto. Later she and her partner Lexie Greene (Bozzuto Greene Art) contacted me to discuss the opportunity to paint commissioned works, which, as you can imagine, I was very excited to do. Luckily for me they had a client who was interested in my work, and this is how I landed my first big commission, a large painting with dimensions 132 x 66 cm.



The client wanted the painting to have a color scheme similar to a painting I sold a while ago (Back to Life), so I the work turned out really beautiful with its pale yellows, whites and fresh blues. I added a touch of pale pink here and there for visual interest, and I am very happy with the way it turned out. It reminded me of morning light through the branches of a blooming tree, and the mood the artwork creates when placed in a room is very serene, yet cheerful. Packaging and shipping the work was quite the interesting experience, but thankfully I had Pavel and his Toyota 4Runner to assist me in the task :) I’m not sure I would have fit the package in my car. As you can see on the photo below, it is pretty much as big as I am.



I really hope the client likes the work; I have certainly enjoyed painting it.

You can read more about Robin Bozzuto and Lexie Greene here and at their official website.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stardust Original Artwork

I love giving red paintings as gifts to friends because they are vibrant and full of life, but last week I decided to break out of this tradition. This time when I decided to paint something as a birthday gift for a friend, I thought I would do a piece in dark blue. I kept picturing something fresh and crisp, with a sort of "starry quality," which I ended up calling "Stardust." It has a new home now, and I hope its new owner likes it.

Also, stay tuned for more artwork news from me. Just last week I finished my first big commissioned work, which is now drying and waiting to be shipped. Fingers crossed that everything will be fine! I will post the image once I mail the canvas.

So here is "Stardust":





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