Sunday, March 27, 2022

Lakatnik 2022

Yesterday was kind of a repetition of a hike we did last year in March - to the marvelous rocks in the river Iskar gorge near the village of Lakatnik. After the winter-like weather during most of March, yesterday was a very spring-like day, sunny and warm, with blue skies and spring flowers. Still, spring is late this year not only in Sofia, as the trees in Lakatnik hadn't yet bloomed here as well.

When we go to far away and interesting places I usually take my camera, but as I photographed the place extensively last year and had a picture heavy post on the blog, at the very last minute I decided to  leave the camera home and take a few pictures with my phone - something I am doing more and more often lately, choosing comfort before photography. Maybe I am getting older, or wiser, who knows :)))

:The underground river, a tributary to Iskar, which springs above the ground at the beginning of the trail, was remarkably full watered this spring.

:We entered again the Temnata dupka cave and visited the colony of bats, living there

:The entrance of Temnata dupka cave

Hike info:
Destination: Lakatnik Eco Trail
Mountain: the Balkans
Total length: 10.3 km
Elevation gain: 300 m
Total duration (plus rest): 3 h 20 min
Average difficulty: 3 / 10


:The gorge of the river Iskar is truly amazing

:The memorial of the September 1923 workers' uprising

Me-made items, worn on this hike:
Husband: men's boxers, Knip Mode cargo pants
I: lingerie, Purple hoodie, CC copycat hat in backpack


:We had our picnic here, on the rocks, with a priceless view to the river and its meanders

:The village of Lakatnik

:The river Iskar, the longest river (entirely on the territory) of Bulgaria

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Hoodie and Flared Leggings

I fell in love with that hoodie from BurdaStyle 03 / 2022 from the moment I saw it. I had no idea out of what fabric I wanted to make it or if I needed another hoodie, but I knew I just had to try these sleeves. And so, I bought the pattern.

After I printed and assembled the pattern and went through my fabric stash, I decided on this purple fabric, sort of french terry, but not quite (purl knit?). I laid out the pieces of the pattern on the fabric and found that I had enough left for a pair of leggings as well. But only if I cut it all not along but across the grain.

I am usually very strict when it comes to following the grain of the fabric, but in this case the fabric had an unusual warp knit and high elasticity in both directions. And a defect right along the middle fold, where it had faded from long stay in the shop, I guess. So, I decided to risk it and cut my hoodie and leggings set across the grain. Thus I was able to lay all the pattern pieces on both sides of that middle fold, without cutting into the faded line - win-win.

I made almost no mods to the pattern but my usual shortening to adjust for my height and I also made the hood double, as the single layer hood in the pattern didn't look professionally finished at all.

Fabric: warp knit, sort of french terry, cotton/polyester
Size: 36, shortened
Time to make: 4 days 

The pattern of the hoodie was obviously influenced by the Mother of Pearl original design. I am really glad that Burda adapted the extravagant pattern for home sewing and I hope to find other similar patterns in their next issues too.

Size: S, shortened and modified
Fabric: sort of french terry
Time to make:  1 day

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Polovrak in March

Although today is the official beginning of spring, it is still nowhere to be seen around Sofia. The temperatures in the morning are around -8C and gradually rise to 2C at noon, even the low mountains like Lozen are still covered with snow.

For our hike this week we chose again the village of Lozen and went up a well know and popular peak - Polovrak. The weather was cloudy and coldish, the track was well trodden. However it was frozen, especially in the lower parts, where the alternating sunny days and freezing nights had covered the ground with slippery ice and made walking difficult and trickier.

:The Lozen monastery

Hike info:
Destination: peak Polovrak (1182 m)
Mountain: Lozen
Total length: 10 km
Elevation gain: 420 m
Total duration (plus picnic and rests): 2 h 45 min
Average difficulty: 4 / 10 

Me-made items, worn on this hike:
Husband: men's boxers, Knip Mode cargo pants, knitted socks, scarf in backpack

I:  socks, lingerie, Rotonda Sweater, CC copycat hat, Borika gloves, scarf in backpack

:The view from the peak

:We had our lunch on the benches near the memorial

:The snow on the southern slopes of the peak had began to melt at some places and the crocuses had hurried to show their blooms

:The dogwood trees are about to bloom

Monday, March 14, 2022


March is my month of Austrian cuisine. So far I've tried two traditional Austrian dishes - Spätzle and Apfelstrudel. The Spätzle was fairly easy and came out well, but the apple strudel will take some practice. I made it today with a lot of help from my husband, who peeled and sliced the apples, after we binge-watched half a dozen of videos on strudel recipes. In the end we chose this recipe by My German Recipes.

I think, as a first try with this tricky dough, my apple strudel came out fairly decent, but not perfect. The dough was too much for one strudel and next time I will try to make the strudel with half of the dough. The legends that you have to be able to read your newspaper through the stretched dough have their reason - the thinner it is, the crispier and tastier the strudel is. 

Another note - I followed the recipe and my apples were slightly sour and tart, I also added the juice of half a lemon, as the recipe calls, and as a result the filling is not sweet enough. Next time I will omit the lemon juice, it would be better if the filling is sweeter. Of course, may be the problem is that we didn't have any vanilla sauce or ice cream and served it with chilled white wine for desert, a sweeter addition could have made a difference.

Here are the ingredients I used:

For the dough:

  • 400 g flour
  • 150 ml lukewarm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil

For the filling:

  • 800 g peeled and chopped apples
  • 140 g sugar
  • 50 g bread crumbs
  • 70 g butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • cinnamon
  • confectioners sugar

I baked the strudel at 190C for 1 hour, until golden. I also made a small bun, filled with pear jam, from the cuttings of the dough.

I am not perfectly happy with my first strudel, but making it was definitely fun and I will try it again. And of course, if all of the attempts at the perfect dough fail, one can always use filo pastry :)

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Peak Bachun

This year March seems to be the coldest month of the year - the temperatures are well bellow zero at night (-10C recently), it's been snowing almost every day (at least in the mountainous regions, like Sofia), spring seems so far away and I can't wait for this long winter, constant crisis and streams of bad news to be over!!!

Last weekend it snowed / rained almost incessantly and we missed our hike, but this Sunday was at least partially sunny with very little wind, so we decided to have a tiny little and easy hike (ha, so we thought!) near Sofia. 

The first part of our plan was correct - Gorni Lozen is really only 15 min away from home by car, which is part of of the reason why Lozen mountain is one of our preferred destinations. The other part of the plan - the quick and easy hike, for which we didn't even bring any food or refreshments, just a small bottle of water, turned out to had been reckoned wrong.

The recent snowfall had provided a thick snow cover on the ground. The paths out of the village were trodden at the beginning, and we happily hopped along under the gorgeously blue skies and white trees. Until we reached a resting place with some benches, where our path stopped. 

Hike info:

Destination: peak Bachun (1150 m)
Mountain: Lozen
Total length: 7.5 km
Elevation gain: 400 m
Total duration (plus picnic): 3 hours
Average difficulty: 5 / 10

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

However, a roundabout path to another peak had been trodden, so we decided to follow along it, despite the detour, hoping that there might have been tourists in our direction.

But no, soon we came to a place, where we had to abandon the traced path and take the trail to the peak, wading through the deep snow. It was steep and difficult and lonely, but we did it - we traced a path in the snow and climbed the peak!

The view from the ridge - Rila and Iskar Reservoir.

Peak Bachun (1150 m)

The peaks of Lozen mountain, some of which we have climbed before


and Vitosha

The descent was so much easier - we climbed the peak in two hours and descended in less than an hour.

I liked the place and now I'm planning a spring/summer climb of peak Bachun, but from another starting point.