Monday, April 17, 2017

That Natural Beauty

For a while now I have been thinking of trying out dying my Easter eggs with natural dyes, but for the last couple of years I have been too lazy or too pressed for time to do it. I had heard that the process is more time consuming and strenuous, so I was a little hesitant, but then again, I knew it would be a nice change to use something that nature has given us instead of those artificial store-bought powder colorants. Get back to basics, so to speak.


So this year was the year! I bought some purple cabbage, turmeric and onion peels (I had to buy the onions or scout supermarkets that had more peels left over in the onion bins - now that was not weird at all :) let me tell you), and I set out to make my eggs. I did a lot of research online, and I discovered that there are many methods to choose from, but in the end I made the purple cabbage and onion peel colorant in advance, boiling the ingredients for about 40 minutes, and then storing them in the fridge. Then on the next day I boiled some of the eggs in the colorant water, then left them to cool while still in there.

The color from the onion peels was rich, but not as red as I had seen on some websites. Mine was more of a rusty red-orange, which was still rich and deep, but not the Easter red that I was imagining. For the Easter red, I used a bit of store-bought colorant on a few eggs. The blue from the purple cabbage, however, was a thing of true beauty. Such a wonderful, gentle watercolor-y shade, the blue eggs are definitely my favorite. The Rusted Ladle has a great blog post about blue eggs and ways to make a marbled or speckled egg for the Easter table, and that was a huge inspiration. I left a couple of the eggs to soak in the colorant overnight in the hopes of getting a deep blue color, like some websites suggested, but the color didn't deepen as much as they were showing. Basically, when you use natural dyes, the results are not always predictable, but they are fun and the colors are light and airy, painterly and wonderful.



As for the yellow, I made the turmeric solution while boiling some of the eggs and then added the eggs to the colorant later. If you use white eggs, you will get a gorgeous yellow color like buttery spring sunlight. Very, very nice. For green, you can soak the eggs in the yellow solution and then in the blue one or vice versa. The greens are also surprisingly nature-like, fresh like springtime.

All in all, I would say that the experiment was a success. I would still like to research more ways to make a more vibrant red, but the other colors were lovely, and my egg plate looked like a watercolor Easter rainbow.



More resources: http://www.marthastewart.com/267850/dyeing-eggs-naturally

And for an extra tasty finish - my homemade Easter bread (this year it turned out extra delicious) and my solution to store-bought Easter bread leftovers - Easter croque monsieur (pan baked Easter bread, glued together with melted chocolate and garnished with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar). Enjoy the photos because the real thing disappeared very quickly :)

  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

On changes

2016 has been a conundrum.

For me, it was full of travel, and exciting travel at that. I was a globe trotter, a wanderluster, an airline frequent flyer. Something I've always dreamed of being. I loved the new experiences, views, and tastes, although I always faced them with careful planning, I guess to counteract my fear of the unknown. I saw the sun rise over Machu Picchu, I lit candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I ate tapas in Barcelona and drank Aperol Spritzers in Italy, went to a SPA in Romania and had dinner in a palazzo in Mdina in Malta. All of these amazing experiences were stuff that dreams are made of, moments that I never thought I'd be able to experience, but I did. That's something to be grateful for, and I am. The best moments of my year were at those trips.





At the same time, 2016 was not all happy moments for me. It feels almost unappreciative, ungrateful and even whiny to say it, given how many people dream about some of the trips that I have been able to take, but I have not been as happy as I have wanted to be. Sometimes it felt like a struggle. There were disappointments - in people I thought close, in the way some situations have unfolded, in the inability of people to step outside themselves and understand others, in the atmosphere at the office, even in my own inability to make the changes I need. Maybe I needed to learn some lessons. Maybe I was holding on to a past and a closeness that was no longer there, and I needed to snip those invisible threads holding me to move on. Maybe I need to learn that not everything people do is a reflection on me, or somehow my fault, but more of a reflection on them and their own character. I don't know if I've learned that lesson yet.

And while this year has cast an unflattering light on some relationships, it has illuminated others once again. There were people I feel immensely thankful for, like my family, like friends that feel close despite being thousands of miles away, and old friendships rekindled. I know that for some of my married/in a relationship friends it is hard to relate to my suddenly single and not as happy self, so I am very grateful for those who have been there for me and who have taken time out of their lives and plans to support me. I am trying to be there for them as well.



As for this year's resolutions, there are some big ones and some small ones, but hopefully they will all bring me joy. Some of them I have done and loved, but somehow have never gotten around to doing again, so I think now is the time. Others are new and exciting. I would appreciate any help with making them come true, as well as any company - so message me if you's like to be part of these.

Here they are:
- swim in a waterfall
- go on a photography trip
- get a tattoo
- fall in love
- spend all day outside
- go ice skating
- update my Behance profile
- stop feeling guilt
- fly with a balloon
- brush up on my Italian


But what is more, I will try to embrace change, make it mine, make it exciting. 2017, here I come. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Baking

This year's Christmas baking was very successful, if I dare say so myself. Every year I aim to try out a few new recipes - it's my thing. I like trying out new things, and since I don't have that much time during the year, the holiday season seems like a good time to finally do it. Besides, home-made cookies and candy make for great Christmas gifts.

I always enjoy home-made gifts so much. It's both the gift itself and the fact that the person took time out of their daily schedule and routine to make it that makes it twice as precious as a normal gift, in my opinion. I have so little free time that I always appreciate when someone just as busy has made something for me.

But back to this year's baking - the recipes I tried out turned out to be amazing - coffee crinkles and Oreo truffles with black and white chocolate. They were sooo tasty, I almost kept them for myself instead of giving them as gifts to my team at work.

The coffee crinkles were soft and chocolaty and coffee-tasting and completely amazing - they are easily a contestant for the title of my favorite cookies ever. The recipe is from A Baker's House.



The Oreo truffles were also quite nice and creamy, and I used some nice cooking chocolate for dipping, which totally made a difference. My advice is to use good quality chocolate for such things whenever you can. The recipe is from here: Cooking Classy.


All in all - a good holiday baking haul and an excellent selection for this year's Christmas gifts.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

#seenfromtheair

I love sitting in the window seat when flying, and for a while now, I've been snapping photos from the air. I've actually gathered quite the collection of interesting aerial views, and I thought it was time to gather them in one place and share them - hence, my new Instagram profile seenfromtheair.

If you make me go up to the tenth floor of a building and have me go out to the balcony to look down, I'd be mildly terrified, but put me at the window seat of an airplane and I can spend half the journey looking down at the world in fascination. It is an interesting contradiction, but one I am grateful for because it allows me to enjoy my time in the air fully.

I love how you can see things in a different way when you are up above: the way a city is organized, the progression of low residential construction slowly growing into taller structures and skyscrapers as you get closer to the center, or sometimes the sudden jutting up of the buildings as if out of nowhere, the parks and fields, the rivers winding through or the sandy and rocky seashores. I hope you will enjoy my collection as well and follow it as it grows.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Art Is Everywhere

My college friends Leo (from Brazil) and Ana (from Equador), who both now live in London, were here in Bulgaria for a quick vacation. We traveled around for a couple of days, visiting cities, nature reserves, monasteries and old towns, but throughout the trip, the one trend that emerged - apart from the nice weather, good food and great company, of course - was the beautiful art we encountered everywhere. Whether it was frescoes in a church or graffiti on a wall in the neighborhood of Kapana in Plovdiv, I soaked it up and enjoyed it all. I am loving the way street art can transform a place; the kind of art that embraces the city and is embraced back by it. I get quite annoyed at the aimless scribbles that vandalize buildings, but these works of art are something else.








It's interesting to go from street art to religious art, but they are both gorgeous in their own way. I'd been to the Rila Monastery and Bachkovski Monastery back in the day, but I'd actually forgotten how beautiful these places are. The frescoes are exquisite, and as an artist, I couldn't stop looking. It was a feast for my eyes!






Sunday, May 1, 2016

Easter Impressions

I am enjoying the Spring weather this year, even the rainy days. There is something very soothing and rejuvenating about the green grass growing an inch overnight, about the clouds rolling in front of the mountain outside my window, to be chased away by the sun in the afternoon, about the smell of wet earth and the sound of birds chirping. It reminds us that we are alive.



This year I am very very happy with my Easter eggs - normally I can sort of get nice colors in the end, but only after an exhausting afternoon of cursing the egg dyes that refuse to color the eggs, the blue that turns muddy or the yellow, which dyes my hands, but nothing else. This year there were a few dyes that I wasn't so happy about, but all in all, egg painting was surprisingly easy and mishap-free, and it took me only about an hour. Yey!



This Easter was also special because I have now been to Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, an exotic and very engaging company team building that featured also a tour of Tel Aviv and some beach time at the Dead Sea. I brought back the 33 candles that you are supposed to light from the holy fire in the church and then extinguish, so this year I lit one of these special candles in my house, wishing for love, health and harmony in my home. I need it.



Happy holidays, everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Morning Rain Is Falling

After an extremely productive Saturday - two presentations written, three loads of laundry done, the first layer of a new painting finished, and my nails manicured :) - my Sunday dawned rainy and slightly lazy. Of course in this case the best thing is to cuddle under a blanket with a book and a cup of tea, which I did for a bit before heading out to lunch.

I was shopping for a gift for a friend of mine on Thursday evening, and after hours of going from store to store and not finding anything she would like, I took a short break and headed to the bookstore to clear my head. I ended up buying a couple of books, and one of them was an amazing edition of E. E. Cummings poems in Bulgarian, published by Жанет 45, which became an instant favorite. The poetry is great (which I knew already), but I was also really impressed by the design of the book and the illustrations by Liuba Haleva. Luxurious paper that feels like satin, a matte laminated cover and thoughtful graphics in red, black, white and gold make the poetry book an experience for all your senses. I loved curling up with it and listening to the rain pattering gently.






Also, I couldn't refrain from sharing a photo of my savory plant - I bought it from a garden store two weeks ago and ever since then it has been growing like crazy, much to my dismay and pleasure, of course. It has brought a definite springtime spirit to my house, and I love it. It smells of new beginnings, and herbs, and nature, and home.

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