Saturday, January 29, 2022

Pancharevo 2022

I know we were at Pancharevo last month, but in these short and cold winter days nothing beats only a 20 min drive from home!

When last night husband and I discussed where to go hiking on Saturday, we thought of several places where the winter conditions could be bearable. I don't mind and actually enjoy snow but unfortunately husband absolutely hates wading in deep snow. So, the places we had in mind were low mountains with open ridges, with low chances for deep snowdrifts. However, most of the places we had in mind would require at least an hour and a half drive in one direction and lately I feel so not inclined to travel for hours just for a short hike. So, when husband proposed Pancharevo, again, I leaped to the suggestion. 

:The low temperatures of late have frozen big parts of the lake

:A view to Pancharevo village from the trail
:The trail climbs steeply over the lake through pine, oak and mixed forests. It was well trodden, there wasn't much snow, but the fluctuating temperatures of the last few days had made some sections of it frozen and slippery
:The Pancharevo lake from above

Me-made items, worn on this hike:
Husband: men's boxers, Knip Mode cargo pants, Beige sweater, knitted socks
I:  socks, lingerie, Cabled Top, CC copycat hat, Borika gloves, scarf

Hike info:
Destination: lake Pancharevo
Mountain: Lozen
Total length: 8 km
Elevation gain: 130 m
Total duration (plus picnic and rests): 2 hours 30 min
Average difficulty: 2 / 10


:Ducks on the ice
:Graffiti at the abandoned seating area by the lake. We had our lunch here, by the lake


Friday, January 28, 2022

Hoodie Johnny by Vikisews

And here's the second of my finished sewing projects this year, which is also one of my selfless sewing items in the Make Nine list - a hoodie for husband. 

I have two Burda men's patterns for hoodies, both with raglan sleeves and kangaroo pockets. When I discussed with husband the plans for his hoodie, he however did not like them much. So we browsed through the men's patterns on Vikisews site and found this FREE! pattern with set-in sleeves and side pockets, which was exactly what husband was looking for.

The body of the hoodie is ingeniously divided into three parts - front, back and side panels and the pockets are added in the seams between the side panels and the fronts. Because husband's favourite colors are red and orange, he chose again a red lining for the inner part of the pockets and the hood and I think it suits the dark grey color of the outer fabric just perfectly. 

I bought (for 0 RUB) size 46 and made it almost without modifications. My preliminary measurements of the pattern pieces showed that the width and the length fitted husband exactly as he wanted the hoodie to fit, I only added 3 cm to the sleeve length (which might have been actually redundant). However, I haven't properly washed the fabric yet, only steam blocked it, so I wanted to have room for eventual shrinkage.

The only proper modification of the pattern I made is the hood, which is supposed to be cut in one piece, with a seam on the top to form the curve. I prefer a classic two-piece hood, so I modified the pattern piece. I installed rivets for a drawstring and bought a proper string, but husband said he always found drawstrings annoying, so for now he hood is left stringless.

And another small modification, born more out of necessity than deliberation - I added two 9 cm pieces of fabric to the hem ribbing. My ribbing was a tube only 90 cm wide, when cut, so I needed to elongate it and I decided to make it like in some commercial blazers with fabric patches next to the zipper. I actually like it very much like that.

Size: 46
Fabric: sweatshirt fleece, polyester knit lining
Time to make: one week

Husband is demonstrating his contrasting red pockets, matching the red pockets of his Jack Sweatpants, another pattern by Vikisews I made for him as a Christmas present. BTW, in these photos he is also wearing a Burda Longsleeve I made for him last autumn.

French Apple Cake

This year I am more than usual drawn to challenges, especially such including lists. It is probably the structure and feeling of accomplishment lists provide, together with the boost of dopamine one gets from checking the items off the list.

The first of these challenges is Make Nine, of which I have already made two items (the second is to be revealed very soon, I hope). Then, I recently came upon Clean Lady's system for cleaning your house and maintaining it decluttered and clean - a problem that has always pursued me and bothered me. I watched a number of videos, read some of the posts on her blog and have decided to give it a go in February, following her Homekeeping Calendar - a neat sheet of lists for every day of the month with a number of tasks to accomplish for the day. Seems interesting and doable and I am really curious if it'll be better than my haphazard approach to cleaning and tidying. 

And the third challenge I have decided to uptake - International cooking. Recently FB offered me 10 Classic French Recipes Easy Enough to Make Anytime and I got hooked. First I planned to make all of the listed recipes, but then it occurred to me, that I would like to try other cuisines too, so I've decided to make 2022 the Year of International Cuisines. Each month I'll try at least five recipes from some region of the world. And because it was these French recipes, that gave me the inspiration, January is the month of France. So far I made the Omelette (not much different from what I usually do, but there were a few useful tips, like keeping it moister and the dragging to create waves); the Pommes Persillade - these took some time to prepare, but were undoubtedly worth it and a hit at home. The Omelette and the Persillades are definitely worth becoming a staple in our kitchen.

The third recipe is the French Apple Cake. It is very moist and buttery and though kind of similar in the form of products and method of preparation to a cake I often make at home - the Hooligan cake, the different proportion of the products used and most of all the amount of butter, make it taste distinctly unlike the Hooligan.

So, here are the products and methods I used to make my cake:


  • 3 average apples Golden delicious variety
  • 100 g butter (unsalted, as is usually sold here)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 2 eggs size L
  • 2 vanillas, a pinch of salt
  • 60 ml golden rum

I peeled and diced the apples, beat the eggs with the sugar, added the butter and the rum and then folded in the flour with the spices and in the end the apples. The resulting batter was very thick and not at all runny as most cake batter is. I baked the cake at 180C in a preheated oven, for about 35 min.

After the cake cooled, I served it with coffee for son and myself and tee for husband. And then I remembered to sprinkle powdered sugar on top :)

So, impressions: Husband loved it. He is a fan of butter and cakes and the more the butter the better. Son and I, however, were frankly disappointed. I don't like so much butter in my cakes, it overpowers the taste and does not allow the top to get meringue-like and crusty - the feature we all like most about the Hooligan cake. So, no, I'm happy I tried it but in this case I'll stick to my similar but different old recipe.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Blue ITY Tunic

And here's the last thing I made in 2021 (finished on December 26th, to be precise) - a tunic out of a small piece of nice ITY fabric.

This was again one of those small cuts I find sometimes in the local fabric shops, less than a meter long, which I find a sweet challenge. As I am small, I can usually easily get a top out of such pieces. In this particular case I wanted to combine it with a remnant from another ITY fabric - white with blue hearts, the same blue as this navy ITY. And I even bought the dress pattern with these two fabrics in mind.

The pattern is Burda #117 08/2021, made in two complementing colors. My idea was to make the front and the back out of the white ITY and the sleeves and the skirt out of the blue. Nice idea and I might actually one day bring it to fruition with some other pieces of fabric. However the cuts from the white ITY turned out to be too small and strangely shaped and I could not fit the body pieces of the dress, however I tried. So, I decided to make the whole thing out of the blue ITY and to cut it as a tunic, similarly to the tunic, shown in Burda #109 06/2021, which I also happen to have.

I should probably mention here that the tunic was initially intended for Gaby and I was hurrying to finish it before her flight back to Vienna. She was totally on board with the idea for the color blocked tunic, but when she saw the finial all navy result, she did not like it and left it to me.

Demonstrating the ruffle on my sleeve :)

Because I was making the tunic for Gaby, who is some 3 inches taller than me, I did not make any corrections to the length of the body, I simply cut size 36 and cut the skirt about 14 cm long from the waist. Unfortunately, the fit turned out rather loose and unflattering and if I were to make it again I would have to introduce some crucial corrections to fix it.

Size: 36, cut to tunic length
Fabric: ITY
Time to make: 3 days

Despite the somewhat unflattering fit, the fabric and the pattern are very easy to wear - the fabric is very fluid, doesn't wrinkle and the color is pretty basic and universal, so I expect this little top will actually get a lot of wear once we are out of the -14C temperature range (the forecast for tonight).

Sunday, January 23, 2022

One Year on Duolingo

This weekend I am celebrating my whole year, 366 consecutive days as of today, on the language study platform Duolingo. I am one of those people (I believe the majority of all people) that like to start things on the first, on Monday, on New Years' day. However, when on January 22 I decided, finally, to check out Duolingo, I didn't expect to find it so delightful, so engaging and satisfying, that a year later I would be celebrating my first milestone streak. Had I known, I would have chosen a first, or at least a Monday :))

Anyway, I started with Spanish, which I later found out to be the best developed and curated of all the language courses, with its own Podcast and loads of Stories. As I already had some knowledge of Spanish, I did the test and the platform placed me somewhere in the middle of the second level, I think. Just a few minutes a day, sometimes with only two or three stories, but never skipping a day, I gradually worked my way to the Diamond league and to the end of the Fourth Unit, trying to complete every unit at least to the golden and most to the legendary level.

Then on October the 1st I added German to my Duolingo practice and things changed a bit. Probably because German is a language I started learning from scratch, I got so engulfed in it, that I stopped my progress on Spanish and concentrated all of my efforts on getting forward with German, alternating between German through English and German through Spanish (thus keeping my Spanish alive, if not kicking).

Would I recommend Duolingo - definitely yes, especially for languages, which are popular and the courses are well made, like Spanish, French and German. There is, for example, a distinct difference between my two German courses - German through English is well balanced, well spaced, with lots of grammar and vocabulary tips and it has stories, which are really great for learning the spoken language. German through Spanish is very chaotic, random and uneven, the tree is short and there aren't any stories. I work with it, because it is a double challenge, but if it was my only German course, I would find it rather frustrating. Besides my two German courses, I use additional grammar videos on Youtube and I plan to add written grammar exercises when I get further in the language, eventually.

Even if I don't get anywhere near to being able to communicate in German or Spanish, I still find the platform perfect for working adults, who can spend half an hour a day learning a language instead of browsing FB or IG. Duolingo is now part of my morning coffee routine and I am truly happy I gave it a go a year ago.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Denim Jacket

Ta-da! The first finished sewing item for 2022 and the first of my Make Nine - the denim jacket.

We were very lucky today, that the weather cleared a bit, the sun shone brightly and the temperatures rose from -10C in the morning to about 4C in the early afternoon, when we took these photos in the local park. Of course, we had a nice stroll afterwards, basking in the sun, and of course, I had my winter jacket on right after the last photo was taken :))

The pattern is Burda #109 02/2010, a cropped denim jacket, designed for shorter women (height 160 cm). I chose size 18 (S) and made a proper muslin first. Based on my muslin, I narrowed the back by 2 cm, shortened the sleeves by 2 cm and shortened the sleeve heads by 2 cm. 
I had a very small piece of denim fabric I took from the scraps bin almost for pennies last summer. I never imagined it would be enough for a jacket, I took it with the idea to make a mixed fabric denim jacket as I saw in Knip Mode last year. However, I was able to squeeze almost the entire thing out of this small unevenly cut piece (between 75 and 85 cm long, 150 cm wide), only the inner piece of the collar is cut from old jeans.

Another modification I made to the pattern - I made the yoke pieces single layer. I would have done it even if I wasn't short of fabric, as I think this is a warm weather piece and the double yoke out of denim would have been redundant. 

General first impression - a very good pattern, which I would definitely recommend. Because of the cold weather outside I am modelling it with jeans and boots, but I think it will be perfect with spring and summer dresses. 

Size: 18, modified
Fabric: denim
Time to make: two weeks

I definitely like the tailored design of the jacket and I think Gaby might like one for herself too, if she needs a light and cropped denim jacket.

A view from the park to the snow covered peaks of Vitosha:

Monday, January 17, 2022

My Make Nine in 2022

This year I decided to take part in the popular Make Nine sewing challenge. The idea is to plan and then sew during the year nine clothing articles according to some criteria, relevant to the pledging sewist. 

My Make Nine are a motley crew - some are patterns I have been planning last year and even the year before, but never came to making them and others are specific clothing items, which I want to sew and the pattern might be the one I have or another I might buy in the future.

The first six are things I plan to make for myself and the last three are items for each of my other family members.

So, this year will be the year of jackets, I have planned at least three:

1. Denim Jacket. I had in my stash KnipMode #12 03/2020, but last year I came upon a Burda pattern of a denim jacket for shorter women, so this is the pattern of my choice: Burda #109 02/2010

2. Biker Jacket. In this case I know I want the type of item, I'm still not sure about the pattern. I already have two Burda biker jacket patterns bought, I'll have to study them carefully and make a choice.

3. Fleece Jacket. I have Burda 6337 from their 2019 catalogue and I'm planning to make the version with the hood, maybe.

The second category of items is dresses and pants. I have planned two dresses which I really want to try.

4. Burda #126 01/2015 is very feminine with interesting shoulder details. I plan to make it out of light viscose and short above the knees

5. Burda #118 07/2018 has been on my radar since I saw it on Carolyn's blog. She made it again recently out of another gorgeous fabric and published a video tutorial  - how can I resist :)

6. The last item I want to make for myself is cargo pants. The pattern I have is Burda #120 08/2019, but I might choose another pattern if I come upon a more suitable one; and I am definitely making them out of sturdy cotton material and not silk or viscose, as in the photo.

My selfless sewing plans include 

7. Hoodie for my husband. He likes this pattern by Vikisews, I have also bought two Burda patterns, so it'll be one of these.

8. Summer shorts for Alex. I know he likes this style of shorts, hopefully he might enjoy a pair made by me. The pattern I have is Burda #137 04/2016

9. And the last item is something I know Gaby would appreciate - a dirndl for Oktoberfest. I have no idea what fabrics I'll find in Sofia, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Of course, I'll sew many other things besides these nine, but I think it might be interesting to have a plan this year. And if I fail in making these nine or in the course of the year lose interest in any of them, I might swap them for other patterns, no pressure.

And because the year started more than two weeks ago, I have already made some progress on my Make Nine plans. Stay tuned for a very weather inappropriate first finished item for 2022 - the denim jacket :)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Simeonovo Lakes 2022

Today's hike was an impromptu hike from Dragalevtzi to Simeonovo lakes.We started this morning to Aleko hut, and though we were within the time frame private cars are allowed on Vitosha, there were too many cars on Aleko, so the traffic police had started to stop and turn back cars some 5 km before the hut. The day was glorious, sunny and warm and the road was so overfilled that the only place we managed to find to park the car was near the Dragalevski monastery. I say near, as the official parking lot was full and the additional extension on the road nearby was quickly filling with turned back cars.

Despite the disappointment, we quickly reorganized our plans and decided to go to Simeonovo lakes along the 5 km trail from Dragalevski monastery. We have actually never hiked this trail in winter and it was really different and unrecognizable from how we've seen it before.

:Aleko's Waterfalls, beautifully frozen

Hike info:
Destination: Simeonovo Lake
Mountain: Vitosha
Total length: 10.4 km
Elevation gain: 180 m
Total duration (plus picnic and rests): 3 h 30 min
Average difficulty: 3 / 10

 :We had our lunch on a sunny spot near the river Starata reka

Me-made items, worn on this hike:
Husband: men's boxers, Knip Mode cargo pants, old sweater I knitted pre-blog, knitted socks, hat
I:  socks, lingerie, Grasser sweater, CC copycat hat, Borika gloves, scarf

:A view over Sofia

:As our trail ended at the Dragalevski monastery, we went in to have a look at its beautiful grounds