Monday, January 30, 2023

My Favourite Muffins

In the days before Christmas we got a package we had ordered on AliExpress, containing 500 muffin liners. And that's how it all started :)))

I began experimenting with a simple vanilla muffin recipe, trying to perfect it to make exactly 12 puffy and delicious muffins. 

After several iterations, I found this to be the final (so far) perfect proportion of ingredients:

  • 180 g flour
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g yogurt
  • 80 g milk
  • 40 g sunflower oil
  •  pinch of salt
  • 5 g baking powder + 2 g baking soda

To the above I might add vanilla, chocolate drops, cocoa, lemon zest, grated chocolate, raisins, nuts, etc.

Preparation: Mix and stir the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir. Distribute in 12 muffin forms and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for approx. 20 min, until a toothpick test shows the muffins are done.

 I've made these entirely chocolate flavoured, adding 25 g cocoa to the mixture

I tried them with lemon zest, lemon flavour and lemon icing

I tried them marbled

and even with pears in a cake form. And they tasted perfect with coffee every time!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Two Years on Duolingo


This past week I began my third year of language study on Duolingo! I believe that this is the longest I've committed to any activity that requires every day efforts and I am actually quite impressed by Duolingo gaming strategies which have managed to make me, a notorious quitter, stick to their routine.

Regretfully, I had to abandon my Spanish lessons completely. Unlike other polyglots, I am clearly unable to separate new to me languages and as my German grew, Spanish began to mess with my capacity to remember new words. I might return to it in a few years, if I get so ahead with German as to feel secure in my fluency in it, but I doubt it. Anyway, for now I've prioritized learning German and I still feel highly motivated.

My German routine lately includes about 45 min on Duolingo in the morning, while drinking my coffee and breakfasting, about 15 min on Anki flashcards (alas, I skip days and I sometimes skip adding new words - unlike Duolingo, Anki feels like a chore), reading Harry Potter in German and in parallel the Bulgarian translation (I'm currently on the third book of the series, but I'm moving with a pace of less than a page a day, so it's a slog), 15-20 min on Duolingo in the evening, usually revision exercises at the Legendary level and occasionally a grammar video on Youtube. It might sound a lot, but after 50, at least for me, language acquisition feels like a tango - a step forwards, two steps backwards, so I need lots of repetitions in order to retain new words. 

Despite the slow progress I am definitely recommending Duolingo to anyone, who feel they might spend their time on their phone more productively than simply scrolling through FB, IG and the likes. Needless to say, I wish I was paid by Duolingo for endorsing them, but I'm not :)))

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Galaxy Nightgown

My second pattern make from the 2023 Make Nine List - the Tranquil Nightgown by Love Notions.

I bought the pattern at the end of 2022 with a nightgown for my mother in mind. Of course, I could have adapted any t-shirt or knit dress pattern for a nightgown, but I liked so much the crossover details at the hems and the faux wrap top, that I was certain I had to have that pattern. 

The fabric is a gorgeous double knit, very easy to work with in a print, that reminds me of stars and nebulae. And I was lucky to have just the perfect color fabric for the trims.

I chose size M for my mother and I made the gown without any corrections, but for some 3 cm, which I added to the length as my mother wanted her gown almost ankle long.

I already sent the gown and she tried it. The sizing is perfect, but the neck-opening is to wide for her liking, so I will have to take it in next time and I have given her some suggestions how to remedy the gown I've sent her. And there will be a next time - I am already planning another nightgown for her, but a short-sleeved version out of lighter material for the summer.

Size: M, elongated by 3 cm
Fabric: cotton double knit, 1.5 m
Time to make: 4 days

I am so in love with the trim details on this gown, that I definitely plan to make myself a blouse, using the same pattern. Not that I need many new blouses, but ... maybe I do :)

Monday, January 23, 2023


Yesterday was probably the last of the mild spring-like January days this year, with temperatures above +10C. The forecasts for the coming fortnight unequivocally speak that winter is finally coming and the temperatures are expected to fall in the range of -5 to +2, which isn't that bad, but still - not a spring weather yet.

For our weekend hike we chose a new trail not far from home - to the Monastary of Kokalyane and then up to the ridge of the mountain to the Sacred Oak place.

The trail starts from the so called Devil's bridge, a stone bridge over the Vedena river near its inlet into the river Iskar.

The trail to the monastery is narrow and steep, about 2.5 km long.
Hike info:

Destination: Sacred Oak  (1080 m) round trail
Mountain: Plana
Total length: 8.5 km
Elevation gain: 450 m
Total duration (plus picnic):3 h
Average difficulty: 4 / 10

The forests in this part of Plana mountain consist of many oak trees, some hundreds of years old.
Right across the road and the river Iskar is Lozen mountain and the Urvich fortress. Here and there among the trees we could glimpse the on going excavation works there.

The Monastery of Kokalyane is one of the 14 monasteries that were built around the city of Sredetz (old Sofia) during the medieval times. The whole place was called The Sredetz Sacred Mountain (Sveta Gora), by analogy with the Monastic Community on Mount Athos in Greece.

We had a quick glimpse of the monastery grounds and the church and continued our climb up the narrow path to the ridge of the mountain.

Although the trail is not long, some 5 km from the bridge to the meadows on the ridge, the slope is steep and the elevation gain is significant. We quickly found ourselves again swimming in sweat and took off our jackets.

The change of view on the ridge was so impressive - after the steep narrow trail in the thick oak forest we were suddenly walking along level paths by yellow-brownish meadows.

Vitosha looming on the horizon.
An old oak tree. A few meters away from it lived one of the oldest trees in Bulgaria - The Sacred Oak (Кръстатият дъб) - over 1000 years old. Unfortunately in 2010 it was destroyed by treasure hunters, who dug up its grounds in search of gold and the tree fell soon afterwards :(

Me-made items, worn on this hike:

Husband: boxers, orange hat, Fire socks
I: lingerie, Grasser blouse, cat hat, Borika gloves, knitted socks

We had a quick lunch on the meadows and headed back to the Devil's Bridge, following an alternative path through the forest.

And back to the river Iskar

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Sinclair Lotte Blouse

 And just like that I made myself another Sinclair Lotte :)

Alex's and husband's recent blouses left me with substantial pieces of soft cotton viscose knit fabric in colors, that go just perfectly together - black and brick, and besides, I had just the pattern for a colorblock blouse - the Sinclair Lotte Hoodie.

For this iteration of the pattern I chose to use two of the elements I discarded in my first Sinclair Lotte - the thumbhole cuff and the double color cowl.

The thumbhole cuff was actually probably the first element that truly attracted me to this pattern - my hands are constantly cold in winter and I love long sleeves and long cuffs, which I can pull over my hands. In this regard I am funnily the opposite of my husband who is invariably annoyed with long sleeves.

Initially, while I was planning the blouse, I thought of adding just a simple neckpiece around the neck, but then I found that I would have sufficient fabric remnants to make a cowl. Mine is not as high as the pattern's cowl goes, as I didn't have enough brick fabric, but I think it is long enough to give a nice drape around the neck.

Size: Petite (152-160 cm) XS (US 2)
Fabric: cotton viscose knit, brick and black
Time to make: 3 days

I didn't have a piece, long enough for the entire back, so I had to think of colorblocking it too. I'm still not sure whether my decision to cut the back horizontally at the shoulder blades level, like in most blouses with yokes, was correct or should I have kept the tilted colorblock line of the front. Either way, I am sure it would have looked good and I like the simplicity of the back the way I made it. I might try the tilted line some other time.

I am really very, very pleased with my blouse, I adore the color combination and the only thing that I might do differently the next time is to add 2 cm to the length of the body. I used to hate long blouses, but I am strangely making mine longer and longer lately. Maybe it's just a phase :))

Monday, January 16, 2023

Polovrak 2023

We are continuing  with our exploration of Lozen mountain. After Pancharevo, Bachun and Lanina Mogila, this Sunday we drove to the village of Dolni Lozen and climbed Polovrak. The peak is one of those we climb at least once or twice a year, but this time we decided to make the hike around it with a twist.

The forecast for Sunday was sunny with some clouds, but somewhere around 11 AM, when we started up the trail, the clouds were densely covering the sky and the temperatures were definitely low, though above zero.

A view to Sofia valley from Lozenski Monastery:

Hike info:

Destination: peak Polovrak (1182 m)
Mountain: Lozen
Total length: 10 km
Elevation gain: 420 m
Total duration (plus picnic and rests): 3 h
Average difficulty: 3 / 10

The northern slopes of the mountain above the monastery were covered with a thin layer of snow - the rain that fell in Sofia during the week must have been in the form of snow in the mountain.

Me-made items, worn on this hike:
Husband: men's boxers, Knip Mode cargo pants, orange hat
I:  socks, lingerie, Raglan Burda Top, "Page" hoodie, CC copycat hat, Borika gloves, scarf in backpack

On the peak
We climbed the 420 m elevation gain at a very brisk pace and I arrived at the top bundled up in all of my layers of clothing and totally wet from sweat - a mistake I often make and I should remember to avoid!
Unlike last week, when we leisurely basked in the warm January sun, we had our picnic at the top a bit in a hurry. As we were quickly losing heat and freezing in our sweat-soaked clothes, we speedily had our snacks and went downhill the opposite, southern side of the peak.
The twist of the hike - on the way back we chose a new to us path, away from the popular and quite frequented marked trail. It was very nice, adventurous and definitely worth the hike.

Even the promised sun appeared somewhere around 14 o'clock.

I definitely liked that path, probably even better than our usual route to Polovrak. It's a good thing Lozen mountain is so well trodden and there are multiple paths through it, all one needs is navigation and a good map. How did we ever live without OruxMaps :)