Saturday, April 19, 2014

Palm Sunday in Sofia: In Pictures

Last weekend was Palm Sunday, which is known here in Bulgaria as "Flower Day" or Цветница. Everyone that bears the name of a flower, tree, shrub and so on has a name day, which probably amounts to half of the population, so it is usually a day of many celebrations. More than a few of my friends celebrate their name days on Palm Sunday, as well as my close friend Lilly.

This year it was a day of celebration for me as well, as I had gotten some good news during that week, and I had finally received my MBA diploma. After so much work, long days and weekends spent in front of the computer, I was more than eager to graduate, and I had been expecting the official document for some time now. Getting it felt like the closure of a chapter in my life, and it felt great, like a tangible accomplishment. Therefore, I decided to celebrate my degree with my parents and Pavel with a nice brunch at Cactus, one of our favorite restaurants downtown. After that, we went to light a candle in a nearby church and took a long walk, ducking into various quirky stores along the way. The streets were full of people, and flower sellers were camped outside the churches with tulips, lilac and the traditional willow branches.

We browsed around a very interesting bookstore / novelty shop on Shishman Str. called Elephant, which has painted murals on the outside and an inside full of banners, flags, books, mugs, pins, and various other curious objects, and we bought fresh-from-the-oven loaves of full-grain hand-made bread from a recently opened bakery nearby. During the past few years, Shishman Street has gradually turned from just one more shopping street to an artsy, boutique-y, organic bakery and trendy bar sort of street, where you are sure to meet a friend no matter what time of day or night. I few years ago there was a Sofia Breathes day on that street, which I wrote about here.

It has been quite a while since I had had such a leisurely day outside, and I enjoyed myself a lot by soaking up the springtime city atmosphere. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and one I hope to repeat soon.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fall Couples Photoshoot with Lilly & Sasho

Back in the fall I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with one of my favorite couples - my close friend Lilly and her man Sasho. It's always wonderful to see two people in love, and it was even better this time because it involved people that I care about. I have always been a sucker for romance, so I jumped on the chance to photograph them with the beautiful fall foliage of South Park in Sofia as a backdrop. 

I like South Park as a photo shoot location because it has beautiful ponds and a variety of trees that make for an interesting setting. A few years ago I did another couple's photo shoot there (read more about it here), but while that one was in the spring and featured a lot of blooming trees, this one was all about the red and gold colors of October. I never got around to posting them last year, but I came across them last night, so I thought I'd share.

I am available for couples sessions, so feel free to contact me if you'd like to request one. Enjoy some of the photos from this beautiful fall shoot!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Just last week I sold an abstract landscape that I had painted back in my Colby years, so I am quite excited. This is an oil on canvas that was a plein air assignment for one of my painting classes, and I painted this view of the Colby lake in the spring. By the way, I guess I should give a shout out to my painting professor at Colby, Bevin Engman. Her classes were hard and a ton of work, but it is her classes that got me started on the kind of abstract art that I do and sell now. I would have never followed such a path in art if it was not for her and her encouragement to study color carefully. I think I've come a long way by taking her class and continuing to paint after college. Still, I quite like how this painting turned out back then, and it seems that people liked it enough to buy it. The frame gave the work a finished look, so I thought the final product looked great.
Stay tuned for more art news to come!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yes, now there is snow

Call it luck or coincidence, but only a couple of days after my whiny lack of snow post, we are having an all-out fluffy day-long quiet snowfall. It's great. I've had tea and feta cheese sandwiches in bed, reading a book and watching the snow fall outside my bedroom window, the mountain covered in clouds. I'm enjoying myself. I might even head out for a walk in the snow, who knows :)
Oh, and if you look closely at the photo of the tree above, you can see a couple of birds perched on it. I actually didn't see them when I was taking the photo and only noticed them when I uploaded it on my computer. I love little surprises like that!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Snowless Winter

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but I seriously miss snow.

Despite the fact that I was a February baby, born smack in the middle of winter here in Bulgaria and no stranger to freezing weather and snowstorms, I never liked the cold very much. You'd think I learned from that as I older, but I guess I didn't, since I went to college in Maine of all places. In my defense, it didn't occur to me to think about the climate when applying to college. In the past five years or so I have gotten progressively cold-averse, spending winters huddled under blankets, with thick socks on my feet and multiple layers of clothing. I also tend to crank up the heating in my house, much to Pavel's chagrin, who went as far as going out on the snow-covered terrace in his underwear one morning last year to cool off. It was hilarious.

Through all these snowy and cold winters, whenever I would shiver, and that was often, I would think about what it would be like to live on Bora Bora or at least somewhere like California. I thought I'd have a blast with the lack of winter, maybe making an exception for the winter holidays. I am a sucker for a white Christmas.

So guess what? This winter we've had exactly one snowfall here is Sofia, which was back in November or something, and since then it has been completely dry with the occasional week of thick fog. No snow. Above 0 C temperatures. I should be in heaven right now. Except I'm not.

Through all my whining about winter, I never factored in the fact that having lived in a four-season environment my whole life, my body is used to a certain progression of the weather. Now that the progression is all out of whack, my body feels uneasy, like it's waiting for something to happen, and yet nothing happens. It's like being suspended in the same late fall, early winter season for months and months, and it's annoying me. I remember back when I was living in London, I had a similar problem with the lack of sunshine. It was seriously messing with my mood in ways that you don't pick up on at once, but they are there, and they pile up.

So can I have some snow please? Not asking for a full on snowstorm, just one tiny quiet pretty snowfall. I promise I'll try not to whine about snow next winter...maybe.

What do you think? Have you experienced unexpected discomfort related to the weather somewhere?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013: A Year in Review

Time for a Year in Review.

Looking back at my blog during 2013, I am sorry to say I did not write much. Even came as far as skipping two whole months - October and November. This sucks. Hopefully, with my MBA out of the way, I will be able to post more.

2013 was both better and worse than 2012. I managed to squeeze in two great trips, which made me very happy in view of the last few years of OK, but not awesome vacations. I toured the US with Pavel for three weeks, attended my five year college reunion, and even passed through London on the way back to see a friend. I also spent a long weekend in Brussels and Bruges with my cousin, which turned out to be quite the pleasant retreat in between school terms.

Something great that I did in 2013 was finally opening that Etsy shop of mine, and actually selling four paintings! I am so glad about being able to earn some money through my art, and this year I will try to paint more and take care of my shop.

As for the negatives: stress, stress, work, stress, stress, stress. I feel burned out, to be honest. Also, as I have often said, stress is bad for your health, literally, and I think that I am suffering some of the consequences. Long days, barely managing to eat lunch at 4 in the afternoon in front of the computer, weekends spent inside writing papers, evenings at the office instead of at dance class, they have all taken their toll on me, so now I need to make sure I have a better balance for my health.

Looking at last year's resolutions, though, I think I did pretty well in that respect. It was the first year when I put them formally in writing on my blog, and it has helped me stay on track. I was not perfect, but then again, who is? So here is my retrospective:

1. Graduate with an MBA. Check! I am sooo done with studying! Having a demanding job and a demanding graduate program was hard as hell, I have to say. Still, the grades from my final class are out, so now I am just expecting my diploma. Yey!
2. Do more of the things I love and connect more with the people I love. Opening an Etsy shop: check! Spending time with people I love: I could have done better on this one, but now that I am done studying, this one will resolve itself.
3. Socialize. OOkay, this needs work. Like, major work. With my job and school, I have become a recluse, which sucks big time. This resolution will be transferred to 2014.
4. Look well-groomed all the time, not just sometimes.  I did OK on this one, I am proud to say. There is still room for improvement, but I am definitely taking better care of my appearance. I am also very happy to say that I have found some great cosmetics and make-up products that work well for me. One of my friends used to say that every woman should have her pamper beauty kit of quality cosmetics, and I think she is right. I feel good using the Bioderma line for problem skin, my Estee Lauder lipstick, my Clinique Superbalanced makeup, my Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette, and my latest favorite find - the Chanel Inimitable mascara.

Next up on my blog, expect my 2014 resolutions! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Holiday Spirit

On the last day of the year, I thought I'd share a bit of holiday spirit by posting some pictures of some of my old and new Christmas tree ornaments. Back in 2008 when I was graduating from Colby, my parents and I spent a weekend in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, and on one of our strolls in town we ended up going into a Christmas store. I have always loved the Christmas season, by my family also really liked the idea of getting ornaments when we travel, so that our tree is a collection of memories, rather than just a pretty decoration. I am trying to keep that up with my tree; I love browsing through Christmas decor, and I usually buy at least one ornament every year to shake things up. This year I got a very cute wooden owl ornament from a Christmas shop in Boston near Quincy Market, and I also got a small white dove ornament and a cute angel ornament from a Christmas shop in Bruges on my travels. It's really fun to look at my tree and remember what I did and what places I visited.

So here are some of my favorite ornaments (although not all of them). I did try to limit myself and not photograph every single ornament on the tree, after all :)

My owl from Boston kind of reminds me of Harry Potter, even if it is not white, so I jumped at the chance to charm my tree into something more Hogwarts-related. Yes, I am a bit geeky at times. Next to it is the angel I got on my trip to Bruges, which you can read more about here.  

Next in line is this adorable elf that I got this year from a seasonal Christmas shop here in Sofia. It is so cute with the pointy hat, the scarf and the presents. On the right is a reindeer that I got last year from another shop in Sofia.

I actually couldn't limit myself to just one ornament this year, and I ended up getting another dwarf/elf from the same shop that I got the one above. I love how rich in detail these figurines are. Also, I got two balls with silver, gold and bronze flowers, which go really well with the while-silver-gold theme of my tree and are so very beautiful.

And, well, check out this gorgeous holiday candy....mmmm! I don't think that this is going to last until next year.

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