Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


Beauty Favorites

Over the past few years I have become very interested in makeup and beauty products. I can almost entirely blame this change in myself (the girl who didn’t wear a lick of makeup until she was about 20-years-old) on the YouTube “beauty community.” Essentially, this community is group of women (and some teen girls) who make videos on beauty-related topics. I stumbled upon a few “gurus” several years back and I have been addicted ever since. It’s a guilty pleasure that I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon!

Typical video topics include: makeup tutorials, shopping hauls, empties (products they have used up), monthly favorites, blog-like tags, and celebrity-inspired looks.

Because of the huge success of many beauty gurus (Michelle Phan, the original YouTube beauty guru, is now a millionaire because of her video sponsorship’s and partnership with YouTube), every 13-year-old with a camera and some makeup now plops themselves in down and talks about beauty, and more power to them!

One afternoon a few weeks back I was lovingly playing with my makeup and decided to do a post on my favorite beauty products. It’s a far cry from actually making a YouTube beauty video, but I don’t see that ever happening!

This list isn’t comprehensive as the vast majority of what I own is back in Utah, but these are the things I love the most and chose to haul over the Atlantic with me.

I like reading blog posts like these because it helps me discover new products and hear people’s opinions.

Alrighty. Here we go!


Beauty Favorites-EyeshadowBeauty Favorites-Eyeshadow

As a redhead, I have to be a bit more careful when it come to the makeup colors I wear. I’m a fairly conservative person when it comes to this stuff anyway, so I am ALL about the neutrals!  It’s rather sick how much eyeshadow I have, but I can’t seem to help myself!

-Too Faced Natural Eye Palette

-Wet ‘n’ Wild trio in Walking on Eggshells

-Maybelline Color Tattoo (cream shadow) in Bad to the Bronze

-Urban Decay Naked Palette (I bought Naked 2 online awhile back and can’t wait to get home and use it!)


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Super Duper HUGE Announcement Time!

Hmm. Where do I even start?! (and NO…I am NOT pregnant!)

First off, I want to thank all of you, both regular and new readers alike, for supporting this blog endeavor of mine. Girl Meets Bulgaria has been  a way to keep family and friends updated with my life; my inspiration in down times; a place to share my adventures, dreams, and struggles; and a creative avenue where I can explore my passion for photography and writing.

When I started GMB over two years ago, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to where it is today. I have readers in over 100 countries, a growing Facebook page, and connections with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Even though the next few months hold a lot of changes for this blog, I sincerely hope you stick around with me through the journeys that lie ahead.

With that, I’d like to let everyone know that Vince and I are moving back to the the U.S.!

His immigration has been in the works for awhile now and barring any hiccups, should be finalized by the end of the month. Returning to the states was a hard decision for us to make. We’ve been together nearly 5 years now (holy cow! where does the time go?!) and throughout much of our relationship we’ve talked about settling in Bulgaria and making it our home. I knew it would be hard once we had kids to be away from my family and friends in the states, but I thought we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

After my stay here last winter and another summer in Alaska, we began to see that living in Bulgaria posed a lot of challenges to building our life together and starting meaningful careers. Sure, there are TONS of perks and advantages to living in Bulgaria (ahem, can you say TRAVEL!)  and many people are very successful here; however, it just didn’t feel as “right” for us as it once did. Vince is, of course, very sad to leave his parents and friends, but he is excited for the opportunities available to us in the U.S. and we hope to visit Bulgaria often. This country will always hold a very big part of our hearts and be a significant part of our life together.

OK. So are you ready for ANOTHER big announcement?

We’re moving to Alaska permanently! 

I was recently hired in a year round management position with Princess Cruises in Alaska and could not be more excited! Vince and I had already planned on returning to Denali this summer for what was likely to be our last time, when a full time, year round position opened up I knew I had to apply. Princess is an incredible company to work for and after 3 summer seasons, I am thrilled to be starting a career with them (looks like I’ll be using my tourism degree after all!).

Alaska has become a second home to us during our many summers spent working in Denali. Moving there permanently is a bit of a daunting prospect, but with so much to do and see, we are very excited to be making such a big change. Frigid (and dark) winters at-40 below should be interesting!

We will be living and working outside the tiny town of Trapper Creek (pop. 423) at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge (about 2 hours north of Anchorage). The lodge is very remote (i.e. completely by itself with nothing around for miles) and sits a mere 40 miles from the base of majestic Mt. McKinley. All 20,320 snow-covered feet are visible from the lodge on clear days; it’s a breathtaking sight!

I’m about to become a mountain woman, ya’ll! 😉

Things are happening very quickly and I will be leaving Bulgaria next week with Vince to follow early next month. My first stop is Utah for a visit with family and friends as well as life maintenance things (moving to another state requires some logistical shuffling) and major shopping trips–no more company-provided uniforms for me! I have to buy a completely new professional wardrobe. After that I am Alaska bound!

I don’t know exactly where I am going to take this blog. I am thinking a new name is inevitable–I figure it’s about time for some major changes anyway. I do know that I will keep it up and post as often as I can! Going from unemployed with endless amounts of free time to working full time will obviously affect my blogging habits, but I fully plan on blogging well into the future.

Whew! What a post, right?

Here’s to moving forward and new adventures!


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I thought I would forgo the picture and travel madness that have consumed my blogging lately and instead update you all on the recent happenings in my little corner of the world… 

-Vince is away on a business trip to Stara Zagora. Not having him around to pester and giggle with is getting to me (and it’s only been one day!) His work said I could go with him but I’ve been there already and I figured I should stay home and get some packing and cleaning done.

-We are moving out of our apartment this week. We’re saying goodbye to Sofia and moving back to Smolyan for a bit.

-Having to give up my apartment on the whim of our landlord and real estate agency for showings is really starting to grate my nerves. I finished reading Maze Runner on my Kindle in the span of two days when I had to go out and sit in the car while our landlord showed our apt. to prospective tenants. It’s just too darn cold to sit out on a bench and read!

-I’ve managed to keep a plant alive since December! We bought this little beauty at Carrefour before Christmas and it’s still hanging in there.

My cute plant

No idea what kind of plant it is, but it’s cute!

-I found a new favorite cookie. These suckers are DE-LISH! They vaguely remind me of Paradise Bakery’s sugar cookies. Yum!

Butter cookies--Mmm!!

Butter cookies. Mmm!

-I spotted the first of the martenitsi stands last week and boy am I excited! Baba Marta is on Friday! I love this time of year in Bulgaria!

-We are hoping to attend this year’s Pesponedelnik/Kukeri festival in Shiroka Laka this weekend. We went last year and it was awesome! We’ve been invited back by the town’s mayor so we are really going to try and make it, even though we will be tired from moving and driving.

-Vince and I went out to dinner at Made in Home over the weekend. While the service was horrendous, the food was yummy and it was a fitting end to our time in Sofia as it was the first restaurant we ate at after moving to the city.

-The strikes and demonstrations continue in downtown Sofia. Bulgaria is without a government and things look like they will get worse before they get better.

-For Valentines’s Day, we went out to dinner at Pizza Niagara (some of the best pizza I’ve eaten in BG) and to a movie; Identity Thief. I needed a good comedy! Movie popcorn in Bulgaria is SO much better than in the states. I don’t quite know what it is!

-Lauren’s post on pancakes made me laugh because Vince is a pancake (crepe?) making machine–it must be a Bulgarian thing! I wake up to a delicious breakfast every weekend. He specializes in Nutella (or whatever knockoff we happen to have at the moment) and banana. They are amazing!

Rollin' up the banana and crepe (pancake?)

Ventsi: The Great Crepe Maker!

Nutella and banana crepes

Reddit. That is all.

I know I’ve been alluding to big changes for Vince and I in the very near future. I apologize for the vagueness; it will all be revealed very soon!

What have you been up to lately?!


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Me=Tattoo Free

Every so often I mull over the idea of getting a tattoo. No roses, butterflies, or horrible tribal design for me. No, I know exactly what I would get and why.

Even with this certainty, it never fails that the second I start seriously considering the idea of getting inked, I have horrible nightmares of getting some huge monstrosity that cannot be removed. I wake up from these dreams and immediately swear off ever considering the idea again. Too permanent. Not for me.

Slowly the fears fade away and the idea comes back.

So what would I get if I did decide to go through with it?

A compass. A nautical or Mariner’s compass, to be exact.

"Tuvieron mucha mar y más que en todo el viaje habían tenido"Back tattooTattoo additionsArt Nouveau Styled Compass Rose

None of these are exactly what I would choose, but they are in the ballpark.

If I were SUPER daring, I might even add an excerpt from one of my favorite quotes by Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

I love the design and how it would symbolize my passion for exploring the world and taking grand adventures, both in travels and life in general.

Alas, Vince doesn’t like tattoos and because I have such doubts, I am pretty sure I’ll never go under the needle, but it’s still fun to look at designs now and then!

For all you tattoo-free peeps, do you ever consider getting something done? If so, what?! For those of who do have them, do you ever regret it?


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Iced Tea and Kidney Stones

Iced tea for me

You know that feeling when something you thought was good for you actually turns out to be the opposite?

Yeah, that’s what happened to me recently when I read some articles that were published late last summer detailing the links between drinking iced tea and developing kidney stones (oh, the joys of browsing Reddit!). Contrary to what many of the articles say, there was no study done on the issue. Rather, a Urologist at Loyola University hypothesized that because iced tea (all tea, really) is high in oxalate (what the majority of kidney stones are made of), it can increase development of stones.

I LOVE tea and iced tea especially. In fact, I rarely drink soda and over the summer I drank iced tea all day every day. I practically mainlined the stuff. Employee dining at the lodge where I work in Alaska has a soda machine that has tea and rather than drink soda or the odd-tasting tap water, I drank the unsweetened iced tea. I thought I was being all healthy and whatnot.

Ice Tea at Borough Market

So how does all this apply to me?

You see, I suffer from kidney stones. Err, stone. Luckily, I’ve only had one so far and I try to do all that I can to prevent more. They are horrid little beasts!

Now I am heartbroken that I can’t drink my weight in iced deliciousness everyday like I once did.


Do any of you suffer from devil kidney stones? Are you as devastated by this news as I am? Discuss! 


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13 for 2013


Well, folks, it’s officially February! The first month of 2013 has already come and gone.


I’ve had the beginnings of this post in my drafts since early January but never managed to finish it up…until now.

I am a firm believer that it is never too late to set goals and go about tackling them. That being said, I have never been one to set New Years Resolutions. OK…OK… That’s not entirely true. Let’s just say that I’ve never been one to actually accomplish any News Years Resolutions. Like most people, I start out energized and motivated, but just a few weeks later I’ve pretty much forgotten that I even set resolutions. So instead of “New Years” resolutions, I am just setting 13 regular old resolutions to achieve at some point in 2013.

Pretty vague. I know.

But that’s how this girl rolls.

I know I keep alluding to big changes ahead for Mr. Hubs and I, but it’s still just a little too early in the game yet to spill all the beans. I am bursting to tell you all what we have in store for us this year. SOON! Suffice it to say that 2013 is going to be our most life-changing year yet. We’re talkin’ fireworks exploding, Hallelujah music here folks!

(well…maybe not quite that much, but awesome, nonetheless!)

And no. I am NOT pregnant!

13 Resolutions for 2013:

(in no particular order)

  1. Read everything I currently have downloaded on my Kindle. No more downloads until I start reading what I have!
  2. Save more and spend less. This is a BIGGIE! Getting in control of our finances and planning for the future is extremely important to us this year.
  3. Make a bigger effort to keep in touch with family and friends, especially when I am out of the state (Utah) or country. I stay regularly connected with my mom and a few friends, but I can always find more time to send a nice note or email to those I haven’t heard from in awhile.
  4. Take more control of my blog and learn some basic coding and design. Because of the changes ahead for Vince and I this year, I am seriously thinking about making some major blog changes. I’ll let you know if/when that happens!
  5. Clean up my diet. I have been eating really well since getting to Bulgaria but there is always room for improvement. I would still like to try out a vegetarian diet for a month to see how I feel.
  6. Actually try to learn some Bulgarian (beyond the basics) and use it! I’ve been in BG for 3 months now and my Bulgarian has not improved much. I do find myself understanding snippets of conversations here and there, but that’s about it!
  7. Continue to work on my photography skills and tackle a few new techniques. My photography has come a long way since getting my Nikon DSLR (aka, my baby) for Christmas in 2010. I still have TONS to learn, however!
  8. De-clutter and focus on being more organized. AKA stop being such a slob!
  9. Speak (& think) kinder. Sometimes I have a bit of a potty mouth and also say things I shouldn’t. I truly want to strive to have a more positive attitude, both in how I project myself to others and internally as well.
  10. Settle down (a bit) and work on finding a career that I am passionate and excited about. I will always be a vagabond at heart. I have come to realize this. However, it’s also important to me to set down some roots while Vince and I start/raise a family. Don’t get me wrong, there will be LOTS of travels throughout, but we’ll have a home base where we can return to to regroup, relax, and plan our next adventure!
  11. Prioritize time (home/work/hobbies/internet/etc.) As much as I LOVE this little bloggy of mine, I spend far too much time on the internet and computer and not enough enjoying nature, engaging in hobbies, and just being. Between blogging, surfing, social networking, uploading and editing photos, and working, a huge chunk of my time is spent staring at a computer screen. I want to get out more and spend more time with Vince and friends. I know the web will always be a big part of my life but prioritizing how I spend my time online is crucial to keeping my brain from turning into complete mush.
  12. Write! I sat down a few days ago to write out a blog post on paper (thought this might make it easier to organize my thoughts) and I seriously had forgotten how to form letters. Alright, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the pen definitely felt foreign in my hand. I used to journal and take notes a lot and I would like to get back into that routine.
  13. Cross at least 5 items off my “30 Before 30” list. The big 3-0 is quickly approaching and I have not made much progress on my goal list.

Yeah. That last one is a goal to meet some goals. It’s like Goal Inception! 🙂

What are you resolving to tackle this year? Please Share! I love hearing what other people find important in their lives.


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2012: A Year in Review


It’s hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. This year has been very eventful indeed and saw me moving from America to Bulgaria, confronting life (and a fair amount of culture shock) as a new expat, exploring my new home, venturing back to Denali, Alaska for a third summer working for Princess Cruises; time spent at home in Utah with friends and family, another leap across the pond to Bulgaria, and reveling in a ridiculous amount of incredible travels.

While part of me is sad to see such a jam-packed year pass, the rest of me is looking forward to the BIG changes and adventures that 2013 holds. There is already a lot in the works and Vince and I are excited for everything to come.

As I reflect back on 2012 and all that I have experienced, I wanted to share some of the highlights from this year that made their way into blog posts.

(It’s a long one guys!)




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