Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye and thank you, 2011!

Niskayuna Art Out 201114

It might sound strange but when I woke up today the first thing I wanted to do was check my social media accounts. No, I'm not that kind of person, who sleeps with her cell in hand, looking for updates on her FB throughout the night, but today is different. So, why the sudden curiosity, you'll ask. Well, it is quite obvious I think-  today is the last day of 2011 and people like to share with their friends what kind of year they had. I wanted to see how everyone felt about 2011 and what a better way to do that than to sneak a peek of their statuses and blog posts, tweets etc.

Usually, that's a very depressing thing to do, because people mostly complain what a horrible year they had, all the losses it brought them ( from love, to money, to keys and change), and overall it's a New year's cocktail as I call it. What's a New year's cocktail? Well, it's a large glass of misery, with a dash of hope, some dreams sprinkled on top and  then mixed with enthusiasm for the upcoming year. 

Today I saw quite a different picture and I must say this caught me by surprise. 
If you look at the world news, 2011 was a difficult year so I absolutely didn't expect the first thing that I read about sending this year off to be " I love you 2011" .  And this was just the beginning!  Everyone I know felt kind of the same way- grateful for what they got, with high expectations for 2012 and kind of sad 2011 is going. 

I am happy that even though I know everyone had less than a perfect year, these people found it in their hearts to be thankful for everything they got or didn't get. I have to admit, this is the first year in a long time I didn't hear anyone complaining and it is more than refreshing. 

What kind of year I had? 
I honestly feel that was the best year I had in a long, long time. It was a difficult and stressful one, yes,  but it was full....of LIFE. 
I finally felt like I was living to the fullest potential of "living" I can imagine. Maybe there is more, maybe I didn't get all I could get or didn't give all I could give, but that's not how I feel. I definitely got more than I expected and I gave away more than I ever imagined I could. I met so many new friends, I can hardly count them, I got so much love and appreciation
 that I feel blessed! Therefore for me 2011 was (finally) a year of balance and inner peace.  I don't feel as restless as I did and as corny as it might sound...I am happy, today, and yesterday, and the day before.

I don't wish for a perfect 2012, nor I wish for the same year as 2011, not at all. I don't wish YOU that too. I wish for a year of BALANCE, I want a year I will regret to see going, just like 2011.

Farewell, my friend , 2011! Although I don't wish we meet again, I know you won't be soon forgotten! 

To all of you - I thank you for the support and love you've given me! My family and I are wishing you a Happy New Year and may the next one be a year you will miss when it's gone!






Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simply Maria

It is more than a year, since Maria and I spoke about guest blogging. She wrote about me in the Summer this year, and I...with all my engagements and stuff, managed to translate and post her piece today, the first day ( and last as it turned out) of my winter break.
It might have taken me longer than I expected, but I am glad I can give this post as a Christmas gift to you, so you can get to know an amazing Bulgarian woman, which has often served as my inspiration, and to her, as amazing as she is with everything she does. I won't try to describe Maria for you. She is like Sofia( the way she sees her)- you have not only to see her, but to feel her, to breathe in her creative fragrance, to touch her work and overjoy looking at her images.

She cannot be simply categorized or defined.

She is unique, positive and dangerous creative power, you can only get to know by yourself.
She is simply Maria.

Here she is:

* I have tried to stay close the original text as much as I could, but I made minor adjustments in the text to express Maria's thoughts better in English.

".....Annie has invited me to be her guest blogger so long ago, that I feel uncomfortable even remembering, but I wanted to gather a collection of pictures, which will give a better understanding of how I see my favorite places in Sofia,their faces, colors, impressions, and memories.
I don’t believe I have succeeded of course, because in order to understand a city you have not only to see it, but to feel it, to smell it. I chose my pictures to show details of the city, because I believe this is how people who haven’t seen it will understand it better.

For these people, who have visited Sofia or live here, these pictures will remind them to look not only at their wrist watches, cell phone screens or the top or their shoes.
If you are sightseeing, remember- to see you always have to look up.Sofia is one of the cities you have to see.

In Bulgarian: Поканата на Ани да гостувам в блога й е от доста отдавна, чак ми е нудобно да спомена. Исках да събера снимков материал, който “говори” повече, мои любими места в София, образи, цветове и впечатления, спомени. Не успях да направя точно замисленото, но в крайна сметка, градът не може да се предаде напълно, трябва да се усети, помирише, види. Исках снимките да са детайли, мисля че така най-точно се възприема от хора, които не са го видяли. А на тези, които са го посещавали или живеят тук, им напомня да не гледат единствено в часовника на ръката си, дисплея на мобилния си телефон или върха на обувките си. Всеки град трябва да се обикаля с високо вдигнат поглед. София също.

My Sofia street curbs

Sofia is my city, without a doubt or a question. I have lived in the suburbs and abroad, but Sofia always calls me back. Sofia makes me breathe, in spite of the polluted air.
Sofia makes me smile, in spite that everyone around me is not smiling.Sofia makes me feel free, in spite of all the people and traffic.
I have dreamed of returning to Sofia much more than I have dreamed visiting any other place.In Sofia, the curbs of the streets are mine- I have been walking on them forever. They hold my memories, they remember my footsteps, they remember my heels breaking on them and my shoes been taken off, so my feet can feel the warmth of the street.
Sofia’s buildings know me. They have been witnesses of my life and everything that has happened to me, my happiness, my disappointment, my choices and tears.
Even if someone paints the whole city in gray, Sofia will always be full of color for me- a little indulging, in slow motion compared to the big cities, but nevertheless life in her will always flow faster than the smaller cities. In Sofia each street and place has their own smell. The smell of violets, of smoke, of grass, of ice cream, of banitsa, of hair spray, of paint, of gas.

Sofia is not Paris, Rome, London or Barcelona. She doesn’t have to be. Sofia is her own unique city and for me it is like a harbor, in which the sea suddenly went dry. Sofia always calls me when I need it the most, especially when I don’t realize it.
Sometimes I want to go back just to touch something I love, to hear words, which I know, to run through a busy street that I know.There is a lot I don’t like about Sofia, but I don’t necessary feel the city has to change right away, because Sofia has its own pace, no matter how much people want to change that.
My favorite streets are so specifically chaotic for Sofia, that there is no way you can confuse them with any other city. Sometimes these streets are narrow and cluttered, but they are still beautiful to me, reminding me of a time I was in love, kissing on the curb, or when rain has been poring over me, while my umbrella was safely tucked at home, or when someone has called me to come back, and I couldn’t hear from the noise the cars made. In Sofia you can sit in a cafe and forget that the world turns. In Sofia you can make miracles happen- you can be invited, accepted, find a safe harbor, you can open your window in the morning and see the whole city from it. You can also go skiing after work, to celebrate until 8 am and have a breakfast at noon. You can smile to someone and they can ask you “Why are you smiling?” in return.

Sofia can also be strange, unwelcoming, sharp, gray, dark and shady, yet Sofia can also be full of sunlight, fragrant, open, friendly, pink.Don’t walk through Sofia’s streets with your head down, look at the buildings, look at people’s eyes, smile at the kids, sit on the benches on the street, turn your head after the beautiful ladies that walk by, drink your coffee slowly in a bohemian chair, feel the wonder of Sofia’s quirkiness and don’t look for logic in it- sometimes there simply isn’t any logic. Sofia has to be touched and felt, and her many faces sometimes can confuse you…

In Bulgarian: Моите тротоари
София е моят град. Без съмнение и въпросителни. Опитвала съм и провинцията, и чужбина. Но София винаги ме е привиквала обратно.
София ме кара да дишам дълбоко – въпреки мръсния въздух. София ме кара да се усмихвам – въпреки намръщените хора. София ме кара да съм свободна – въпреки пренаселеността и трафика.В София съм мечтала да се върна по-силно, отколкото съм мечтала за което и да било пътуване.В София тротоарите са мои – вече съм стъпвала на тях. Попили са спомените ми. Отеквали са моите токове. Чупили са се. Били са сваляни, за да усетят топлината на паважа.В София сградите ме познават. Ставали са свидетели на моя живот и на моите случки. На моите радости, разочарования, решения, сълзи.Дори някой утре да боядиса всичко в сиво, София за мен пак ще е цветна, леко декадентска, мудна в сравнение с големите мегаполиси и нервна в сравнение с малкия град. 

В София всяка улица и място имат своя аромат. На виолетки, на дим, на цигари, на трева, на сладолед, на банички, на лак за коса, на блажна боя, на бензин.София не е Париж, Рим, Линдон, Бареселона. Не е и нужно. Тя не подражава на никого.София за мен е пристанище, в което морето внезапно е пресъхнало. София ме вика винаги когато имам нужда от нея, но не го осъзнавам.Понякога искам да се прибера само, за да пипна нещо, което обичам. Да чуя думи, които са ми познати. Да пресека тичешком някой булевард с кратък светофар.Много неща в София не ми харесват. Но не държа да се променят бързо. Защото освен свои управници, градът има собствен ритъм, версия, тласъци. И те не зависят само от хората.

В София имам любими улици - толкова специфично и хаотично софийски, че просто не можеш да ги сбъркаш. Улици, които ще се пръснат от еклектика, теснотия и скупченост, но пак са привлекателни. На чиито бордюр си сядал когато си бил влюбен. Или те е валял дъжд когато чадърът ти си е почивал вкъщи. Или някой те е викал да се върнеш, а ти не си го чувал от шума на колите. В София можеш да седнеш в някое кафене и да забравиш, че светът бърза. Можеш да направиш дребни чудеса. Можеш да бъдеш приютен, приет, поканен. Можеш да отвориш сутрин прозореца и да видиш целия град. Можеш да отидеш на ски в края на работния ден. Можеш да празнуваш до 8 сутринта и да закусваш на обяд. Можеш да се усмихнеш на някой и да те попитат „Защо”.

София може да бъде и странна, и враждебна, и остра, и сива, и тъмна, и прихлупена. Може да бъде и слънчева, ароматна, отворена, приятелска, гостоприемна, розова.Недейте да се разхождате в София с наведена глава – разглеждайте сградите, срещайте погледите на хората, усмихвайте се на децата, сядайте на пейките, обръщайте се след красиви жени, пийте кафето си бавно в бохемско кресло, учудвайте се на странностите й и не търсете логика – понякога такава просто няма.София трябва да се пипне и усети, многото й лица понякога объркват... 

Sofia believes....


Sofia measures time passed....

Sofia grows old ....( *this is a picture of old street names and homes)

Sofia is vain.... ( street market for antiques)

Sofia has it's own tune...



Sofia flies...

Sofia is in bloom...

Sofia is in love...

Sofia reads... ( Tzar Shishman street)

Sofia is lonely...

...and not that much.


Sofia changes...

Sofia lives...

Sofia is full of symbols and memories, that sometimes take her breath away...




Sofia remembers...


Sofia has fun...

Sofia paints...

Thank you, Maria, for a wonderful day in Sofia!
* If you want to learn more about Maria, check out her blog: 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to school thoughts

It is amazing how time flies...
Today your kids are babies and smell of milk and honey, snuggling close to your breast, tomorrow they are going on the bus by themselves. Yes, my little one is not so little anymore. Sigh. I wanted to share with you what her teacher gave the parents on the day before school but bring a box of tissues nearby.

I gave you a little smile 
as you entered school today. 
For I know how hard it is to leave 
and know your child must stay. 
You've been with her for five years now
and have been a loving guide,
but now, alas, the time has come
to leave her at my side. 
Just know that as you drive away 
and tears down your cheeks may flow,
I'll love her as I would my own
and help her learn and grow. 
For one day I will know
how quickly the years do pass
and that soon it will be my turn
to take my child to class.
So please put your mind at ease
and cry those tears no more,
for I will love her and take her in
when she comes through the classroom door. 

Sniff...
And yet, I am happy too, because she loves it and because it's perfect for her, and also because she is happy and that's what's all about, isn't it?
Ellie06
It warms my heart to see how she and her brother stick together like glue and paper, all grown up in the world of education. Ah, my third grader and that wonderful pre-teen age. He questions, but still acknowledges authority, so much fun to have a conversation with him. They make life interesting, right?

And my little Kindergartner made "the paper" as they say. She gave 2 interviews that day. Here is one of them:
http://www.niskayunaschools.org/district/news/2011-12_news/20110909_fulldayK.htm
( here was supposed to be a picture of her brother but Flickr doesn't like me today.)

A


Friday, August 26, 2011

Being 5....

This was one of the nicest birthday parties we had so far. I was worried that I won't have time to organize everything because I was at work, but with good planing and with smart ideas to save time, I think we all did great. Not to mention we did a little renovation ( pictures to come) of the house and this the week before the birthday party.

You can take a look of some of the decorations in my previous post about it, and here is the finished table:
Ellie 5th B-day Party 101

Please, excuse the quality of the pictures, they were take with my phone, because my camera died just when the birthday party started.

The games and crafts we had outside and the cake and pizza inside. I think it worked out wonderful, otherwise I would have had to switch between food and craft. This way I prepared everything in advance ( the little pink bags hold the craft parts).
Ellie 5th B-day Party 115


And here is the cake :
Lalaloopsy cake02

And the birthday girl with big smile :-)
Ellie 5th B-day Party 130

This is a picture of some of the crafts the kids did. I thought a door hanger will be the perfect craft for a Lalaloopsy birthday party, because her Pillow Featherbed doll has a pet sheep and she likes to sleep.
Ellie 5th B-day Party 144

The games included a version of "Hot potato", balloon popping, marshmallow tower. We also had pictures of the Pillow Featherbed doll for coloring.

It was fun, but I'm so glad it's over. LoL Until next year.

Annie

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ginormica

If you have seen "Monsters Vs. Aliens" you know who I'm talking about. That's the name we gave to the blueberries we picked at the farm this week.
See for yourself:
Blueberries 201103

Not to brag, but these blueberries were the rule, not the exception. I have never seen more ginormous or more flavorful blueberries as these, honest! I think this is some special kind of blueberries, because at the same farm there were bushes with smaller( normal) kind too.
Blueberries 201101

I couldn't even take a picture of the biggest blueberry we've found ( my son ate it by the time I got my camera) but it was more than an 1.5". What did I say? GINORMOUS!
These blueberries were the perfect additions to my summer yoghurt deserts in a cup. YUM!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cherries in the rain

 Cherries 201102

It's a week after I actually went cherry picking in the rain, but I still wanted to share with you something, a story about positive thinking and how it really works. Am I writing this about you...or just to remind myself when I'm feeling down, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that for once I felt like I made the right choice how I feel and the result was wonderful.
I won't go into to much specifics, but last Sunday at home started very dramatic. On top of that it started raining cats and dogs outside. It had all the promise to become a dreadful and long...long day BUT the moment I opened  my eyes I refused to let that happen. So, in spite of the rain, I planned for the us to go cherry picking. I knew that is going to stop the moment we go there and trust me, few things can compare with the taste of fresh cherries dressed in raindrops!
After we came home it was wonderful to see my whole family pitting cherries, the kitchen smelling of caramel and then to taste the delicious white cherry jam we made.
So sometimes, when life gives you rain, turn it into tea and drink it with ...white cherry jam!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When it rains it pours...

For those of you who have kids I won't be saying anything new- kids grow up too fast. 
It feels like it was yesterday when my kids were babies and were needing me all the time and although I'll never admit it, I liked it. To be needed so much can be addictive. And it was. 
That's why I didn't see that coming. 

In December a very talented lady who's blog I follow posted that her son initiated sleeping in his own room by himself. I read that post then and I thought how true it sounds and how I hope that my kids won't need separate rooms anytime soon.  I was terrified of the idea not only because of them but because of me as well. We have 3 bedrooms - one the kids were using, one for me and my better half and one was used as an office/art/craft/guest room. Giving up my work space at the same time when I'll be getting used to the idea my kids need their independence would have been tough and I knew it. 

So you can imagine how I felt when on 22nd of December we had a family meeting ( to discuss some issues going on like - she did it, he did it) and this came up as a solution to their frustration from sharing a space. I was stunned. Just a week before I said I won't be doing that, because there is ( and I quote) " no way to find space for all the stuff in the guest room". My only hope was my husband at this point, because I know how much he hates renovations, remodeling and everything that starts with RE. ;-) Boy, was I wrong! In 14 years that we've been together that was the only time I heard him not only wishing to participate in arranging separate rooms for the kids, but actually suggesting it! And all of that 2 days before Christmas. 


I thought this is crazy, that there is no way it will work ( mostly because I didn't want it to work) but everyone was so eager...so wanting me to figure out a way to make it work  ( as always)...that I couldn't let them down. 

It was ( and still is) very hard on me though. I haven't said anything to the kids, because I don't need to burden them with all of that since they are so happy they have their own rooms for themselves but I felt so robbed of all the things I was used to- them being together and the security I felt in that, having my own space, where I can work and not be disturbed, and finally having a bedroom where I can relax and rest. My everything felt invaded- my space, my soul, my emotions. It was such a mixed feeling- being happy for them being happy, but being sad for them being happy and being sad for me. 
I'm better now and trying to "invest myself" in redecorating their " grown up" spaces so they feel even more comfortable in their rooms, but it's not easy. 

I'm a creature of habit and I liked my old bedroom, it was peaceful and calming. Nothing close to the Grand Central that my bedroom is now,  with all the art/craft stuff, the huge bed, the computers, books etc. And I swore before that I would never have a computer in my bedroom. :-( Not to mention that my current bedroom was redecorated as a double kids room just a year before ( you probably remember the post about it) and I really liked it, but it was a kids room.

So very soon I'll post pictures form before and after so you can see what I've been working on. 


Have a wonderful Sunday!


Annie

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New year Banitsa lucky verses in English- Novogodishni Kasmeti

New Year’s Eve and New year’s day  in Bulgaria are celebrated pretty much as everywhere else. However, one part of the tradition that is preserved to present days is the Banitsa s Kasmeti. 
*** Milk and cheddar banitsa***
 Banitsa

Traditionally Banitsa s Kasmeti is a round cheese and eggs phyllo dough pastry that has the Kasmeti (lucky verses) wrapped around European cornel branches  and baked with them. In the first minutes of the New year the banitsa  is placed in the middle of the table then the oldest woman in the house turns it 3 times clockwise and cuts a piece for everyone. Usually you get the piece that is closest to you.
*** Turkish borek***
turkish borek


A Kasmet is a little piece of paper with a lucky verse that is believed to hold a magical power to bring luck to you next year. Traditionally these verses were consistent of only one word like Helath, Work, Baby, House etc. Nowadays Bulgarians are using rhyming verses that bring more fun to the tradition.  One other change in the traditional way is that today each Kasmet is wrapped in a piece of foil and then placed in the banitsa. This is more practical since it keeps the paper from getting greasy and makes the reading and unfolding easier. 

***My Kasmeti this year***
Banitsa s kasmeti3

Four years ago I started looking for Kasmeti in English, because I wanted to share this tradition with my American friends but I couldn't find any. So, I decided to sit down and write them myself. Since then I have shared these Kasmeti with a lot of friends- Bulgarian and English speaking and I decided that instead of sending the Kasmeti each time in an e-mail, I can just post them as New year's present for all my readers to use.  

*** Traditional banitsa***
Mlechna banica

*One other way to use these Kasmeti is to wrap them in foil over a toothpick ( if you don't want to bake them in the banitsa) and then cut the banitsa in small pieces and place one on each piece. I did that for my son's school, since it's much more easier for the kids to get the bite sized pieces. 

Disclaimer: Although I am providing these files for everyone to use for FREE, I would like to ask you to be respectful of my time and effort and to show the courtesy to give me credit by providing a link to the original source- my website, if you decide to post them somewhere on the web. Thank you!

 So, here is my present to you( click on the link to download):

New Bulgarian Lucky Verses in English ( Kids and Adults)



Happy New Year Everyone!
Annie

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