Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Downton Abbey Obsessed

DA

Fact: I love history, the English countryside, sparkly jewelry, beautiful clothing, intrigue, and smart-mouthed old ladies. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I am in absolute love with the BBC TV show, Downton Abbey (like most of the world).

If you’ve never seen the show…well, I feel sorry for you! It’s completely addictive and a lot of fun to watch.

The show is centered around Downton Abbey, the stately home of the Earl of Grantham and his family. The first season starts just as the Titanic sinks and the Earl’s heir, a passenger, is presumed dead. English inheritance laws dictate that the three Grantham daughters cannot take over the estate when their father dies. From there, chaos and shenanigans ensue, between the family themselves as well as their staff.

My favorite character is the uppity grandmother, Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess, played by the marvelous Maggie Smith. Her one-liners (or zingers, as some people are calling them) are hilarious!

dowager

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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.

#firstworldproblems

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

W.

: : :

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Randomly Me Monday: Self Portrait and Currently

For this week’s post, I’m switching things up a bit from last Monday. I came across this link-up on Baby in Bulgaria and clicked over to The Paper Mama to see what it was all about.

Maybe it’s a generalization, but I think very few women love having their photo taken, and fewer still jump at the chance to post photos of themselves on the internet.

But I think self-portraits are important. Too often women focus on documenting their kids, travels, home, etc., and forget about documenting themselves. I try to post photos of myself on my blog every so often even if I don’t think the photo is the most flattering (they rarely are!) because I think it adds a bit of a personal touch to my posts. Yes, they are usually the awkward arm-out photo with the hubby, but that still counts, right?!

This photo is unstaged and has no interesting background. No distractions. I just grabbed the camera and snapped a pic. It’s me in this moment; blemishes, tired eyes, comfy clothes, and all:

Currently I am…

Obsessing over…

Makeup. I have a bit of a fetish for cosmetics and I watch far too many YouTube “beauty guru” videos. It’s a guilty pleasure. All I can think about is buying new products! Luckily, there isn’t a Sephora in Bulgaria! Oh wait… Just Googled it, looks like there is one in Sofia. Greaaaaaaaat. 😉

Thinking about…

My upcoming 3rd summer working in Alaska. It will be the first time I have been there without Vince and I am trying to put on a brave front. I just have to focus on the good stuff: spending time with friends, lots of time outdoors (in gorgeous Denali!), Alaskan Summer and Amber (my two favorite beers), and delicious Prospector’s pizza!

Anticipating…

Warmer weather. We haven’t traveled nearly as much as I thought we would have by now and I am so looking forward to better weather so that we can explore more of Bulgaria.

Listening to…

Seeing how Pandora and Spotify are blocked in Bulgaria, I am only left with YouTube to access music (my iPod is all but dead). Recently I have been enjoying Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, Lana Del Rey (trying to decide what I think of her), and Jonsi.

Eating…

Just finished a cup of Nescafe 3-in-1 and some vanilla wafer cookies. I am hoping the coffee doesn’t keep me up all night!

Wishing…

Our car is having some issues. I am really hoping the problems aren’t major and don’t cost us a ton!

***

Anywho, I just really enjoyed the idea of this link-up and I like reading what others are up to. I hope you do as well!

W.


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The End of an Era

As this post goes up, I will be sitting in a dark movie theater in Fairbanks, Alaska waiting for the last Harry Potter film to start. That’s a whole lot of awesome with quite a bit of sadness mixed in.

I adore the Harry Potter series and, like The Lord of the Rings, seeing the last film will be bittersweet.

It’s definitely the end of something special. Reading the last book was hard but knowing that there were still a couple of movies to look forward to helped.

Personally, I think most of the movies are pretty well done. Usually, I prefer the book over the movie, and with HP that is the case, however, the movies bring everything to life. Some things are as I imagined and some things I think could have been done better.

The 2 hour drive to Fairbanks will be more than worth it, I am sure!

I’ll let you know what I think!

(And yes, I realize how nerdy I am!)

W.

 


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Recent Buys {That I LOVE!}

 

Admittedly, I have had a wee little shopping problem lately. I think do that when I get stressed. Thankfully, its slowed way down (I kind of had no choice).

*Vince, if you are reading this, I promise it’s not as bad as it looks! I love you! ♥

I did get some great stuff though, and thought I’d share:

  • This cute and quite useful hard-plastic cup from Wal-Mart (AKA Satan’s Five & Dime). They are quite the rage and I see why. You get that “fountain” beverage feel even when you are, like me, drinking water (I rarely drink soda). I tend to reuse plastic water bottles, which as it turns out, isn’t all that healthy what with the chemicals and leaching of the chemicals (it’s all very scientific). So this cup is perfect (and BPA free!). It’s also insulated and keeps my ice water icier for longer! Oh, and the polka dots? So cute!

  • Essie fingernail polish in Turquoise and Caicos (THE perfect match for “Tiffany Blue”) and Eternal Optimist (a pretty, rosy pink). At $8 per bottle, it’s spendy, but is probably the best nail polish I have ever used. It’s all I can do to not go out and pick up a few more bottles!

I LOVE Tiffany Blue

  • An adorable bow necklace from Target (on sale!). I didn’t have any rose gold in my jewelry collection, so I was happy to snag the last one they had.

 

The next few items were a complete splurge and totally frivolous. I have been watching far too many Youtube beauty “Guru” videos and suddenly I am a makeup junky. That’s how I roll. I tend to see something interesting or creative and have to do it myself. This can be seen in the copious amounts of scrapbooking supplies, yarn, how-to books, beads, etc. spread across my room (and in boxes in the basement). I usually start off strong but lose interest quickly (something I am trying to work on). But I figured spending some money on makeup isn’t a huge deal, I do wear it daily after all.

Anywho… On to the purchases:

  • Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette.  I LOVE the eyeshadow colors in this set. As a fair-skinned redhead, neutrals are my friend. I was SO happy to get one of these. As it turns out, they are like the Tickle-me-Elmo (insert any hard-to-find product here!) of eyeshadows. They are sold out everywhere! There are huge waiting lists and I even heard girls wait outside stores for the doors to open the morning after a shipment comes in. I am a sap for things like this and simply had to have one largely because everyone else had to have one. After stalking Sephora.com for a week or so, they showed up one morning and I pounced (the story is a lot longer and entails Sephora’s website crashing, buying them from Amazon who then sold out and cancelled my order, then finally getting them again from Sephora. My friend A. suffered along with me). I wore a few of the colors today and they are pretty. Probably not worth all the hype (and money), but I am still glad I got one.
  • Too Faced Natural Eye Palette. I picked this one up when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get the Naked palette. Looks like I am set for eyeshadow for the rest of my life!
  • Not going to detail each thing, but I got a bunch of stuff from the ELF cosmetics website (it’s also sold at Target). It’s super cheap – both in price and quality. An entire 12-piece brush set was only $5. The tiny little hairs that fall out and onto my face reflect the price. A few of the things are good, but I probably won’t repurchase many of the items.
  • To hold all my new goodies (and the other stuff I already own and never use), I got a Caboodle makeup case. I think I had one of these as a little girl so it was probably nostalgia that caused me to overlook the tweeny look of the thing. I mean purple is my favorite color, but wow.

Makes me feel 12 again!

Lastly, the thing I am most excited about…

  • A UNIVERSAL VOLTAGE GHD straightener and hair dryer (with a cute bonus heat-proof bag). I think I may have mentioned it before, but I was super sad to find out that I would not be able to bring my CHI straightening iron to Bulgaria. Apparently, using a voltage converter with high-end appliances causes them to die (read:explode). I have extremely thick and frizzy hair, so a straightener is a must. The kit was expensive, but I got a great deal at Costco. The straightener alone sells for $205 on GHD’s website. I tested it out and it’s amazing! I love my CHI but this GHD beats it hands down.

So, what exactly does this post prove? Well,  clearly that I like to make up words (WordPress is yelling at me for “icier,” “spendy,” and “tweeny”) and also spend money that I don’t have!

I like to think that all these things were necessary purchases for my move… That will make me feel better when I get my credit card bills, right? 😉

And I am suddenly wondering why I am writing a post about my shopping habits. Maybe it’s my own version of a “haul” video (again, I have got to lay off the YouTube beauty videos).

Talk to ya’ll soon (with a better and more meaningful topic. I hope).

W.


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Netflix. The best invention ever?

I’ve been a subscriber to Netflix for years. I can’t remember why I first signed up but it was likely to rent some obscure film or TV series and have it delivered to my house. Now, I rarely watch an actual Netflix DVD. I utilize their “Watch Instantly” feature and stream movies and TV shows to my laptop.

Their streaming selection leaves a lot to desire, however it is getting better. They recently signed a deal with Relativity Media and they’ll soon have new release movies soon after they leave theaters. Why do I care? Well, I love TV/movies. More specifically I love independent, foreign, weird, off-beat, old and random TV and movies. I love the worthless mainstream crap too, I just happen to favor oddball programming. Luckily, Netflix offers both. And because I am cheap and refuse to pay for satellite/cable, I have no other options!

Take my Netflix recently watched list:

  • The Office Complete Series (British Original-Gotta love Ricky Gervais)
  • Wallace and Gromit
  • Wuthering Heights (BBC production)
  • Pushing Daisies Complete Series
  • Zach Galafianakis Live (I would marry this man)
  • Bright Star
  • The Piano Teacher (French-kinda weird, don’t recommend it)
  • Grey Gardens (both the original documentary and the new mini-series)
  • The Business of Being Born (really interesting documentary, makes me rethink having my future kids in a hospital)
  • The Orphanage
  • Born Into Brothels
  • Monsoon Wedding (Bollywood Baby!)
  • Paper Heart (Micheal Cera, I adore you)

I could go on and on. I clearly need to spend less time in front of my computer!

I’m really hoping that with how popular/successful Netflix is becoming, they will beef up their streaming options, especially in the foreign, documentary, and comedy genres.

If you haven’t already signed up, do it!

On that note, I am off to re watch The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson is a genius!

Chao,

W.