Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


A Saturday Afternoon

people watching on a Saturday afternoon

Today I am balancing the urgent need to prepare for our trip with the desire to be completely lazy.

So far, both sides are pretty neck and neck.

(it helps having an ambitious man around to get tasks done!)

I dragged myself out of bed and away from the great book I’ve been reading (A Light Between Oceans) in order to write up a few blog posts. I am setting them to auto-post while we’re away. I hate to have things go completelyquiet around here for 2 weeks. And I’m sitting on some great stuff that I have been dying to share.

But, oh! How very excited I am to be leaving for 2 WHOLE WEEKS! Fourteen days! A fortnight! Etc., etc., etc.

It’s about damn time my husband and I took our honeymoon!

Because it is utterly unromantic, my laptop (and all the time-sucks it contains) is staying at home. But I will be taking my Kindle and iPod. So there may a few short updates and blurbs from me here and there whenever I can snag a few minutes alone with some wi-fi (images of a quaint piazza-side café, espresso/gelato/beer in hand, children laughing and playing–a girl can dream, right?!).

Please keep your lovely comments and emails coming. I won’t be able to approve comments (yep, I still moderate–have had some creeps lately) or reply to everything right away, but I promise I will as soon as I can.

Well, I better get back to editing photos and writing blog posts (not to mention packing). I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday Saturday (cripes, I don’t even know what day it is!) afternoon.

Really. NO sarcasm intended!

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.


P.S. If you’d like to see what I’m reading, connect with me on Goodreads. I’m always on the hunt for my next read, so I will definitely follow you back.

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Tourist For a Day

It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed today. The past few days at work have been absolutely crazy.

I definitely needed a day in the great outdoors to get my mind off of things.

I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than by playing the part of tourist in Denali National Park for the afternoon.

…albeit a younger, less persnickety type (cruise tourists can be…a handful–hence the crazy week at work).

After sleeping in a bit, I got up, packed a day bag and caught a shuttle bus into the park.

After a drive out to Savage River (pics to come tomorrow), I stopped by the park Visitor’s Center. I haven’t been inside the VC since 2008, when I spent hours per week there as part of my shift. I ordered some lunch–the “Polychrome” panini and an Alaskan Summer–at the Morino Grille, found a nice spot on the deck, and devoured more of my current read, Good Time Girls.

*book review post coming up. it’s a GOOD one!

After lunch I caught the last few minutes of Heartbeats of Denali, the park movie. I’ve seen it at least a good 50 times. It never gets old.

Next up was a walk along some nearby trails.

My camera has been lonely the past month or so; it was high time I gave it a workout!

It’ll be another week or so until the fall colors are out in full force, but they were pretty darn lovely today.

Some fresh air, sunshine, and amazing scenery was just what I needed to recharge and refocus.

One. More. Month.

Gotta run now. There is laundry to be done and a beer to be enjoyed.


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Randomly Me Monday: Volume Four

Continuing my “About Me” posts this week with Volume 4.

Previous posts: 1, 2, 3,

Thought I’d play it a bit more tame this week and list some of my favorite movies and books. Five of each sounds good!


  1. Amelie–this is by far my favorite movie of all time. It’s completely charming and heart warming with that bit of quirkiness that I love. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do. Riiiiiiiight NOW! … What are you waiting for?!
  2. Robin Hood–yes the version featuring Kevin Costner’s slaughtering of an English accent. I have no clue why I like this movie as much as I do (I love most period movies when it comes down to it), but I’ve liked it since I was a kid. One time when I was sick I watched it four times in a row.
  3. Love Actually–not only one of my favorite Christmas movies, but one of my favorite in general. I love the multiple storyline type of movies and this one is probably the best. It’s done by the same people who did About a Boy (another fave).
  4. Cast Away–I love anything with Tom Hanks, but this one is one of his best. I don’t think there is another actor on earth who could captivate an audience without speaking for 1/3 of a movie, but he managed it in this one. And Wilson? Not gonna lie, I tear up when he floats away.
  5. Super Bad–I am a sucker for crude comedies and this one rules them all. I am shocked by half of it, but in that it’s-so-awful/gross-it’s-hilarious sort of way.
  6. Newsies–I know every song, dance, and character (well, most of the characters) name by heart. My BFF and I have watched this movie dozens of times and it never gets old. I am not a huge fan of musicals, but this one doesn’t count. Vintage Christian Bale? Not too shabby! LOVE. IT.

(couldn’t stop at just 5 for movies!)

It’s really hard for me to list my favorite movies as I am such a huge movie buff that they change depending on the mood I am in (except for Amelie, that will always remain my #1). I’m also a big fan of inserting random movie quotes into everyday conversation. I love when people get it and play back, but it’s a tad embarrassing when they have no clue what I am talking about. Thankfully, my close family and friends usually get it!

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East of the West: On NPR and my Kindle

I recently downloaded the book East of the West: A Country in Stories by Miroslav Penkov. In a weird coincidence, I came across an article on today about the writer and the book: Bulgarian Writer Finds His Voice In English.

(It looks like the story was actually on an All Things Considered broadcast, but since I can’t stream audio or video here, I had to make do with the article!)

Amazon’s summary of the book:

A grandson tries to buy the corpse of Lenin on eBay for his communist grandfather. A failed wunderkind steals a golden cross from an Orthodox church. A boy meets his cousin (the love of his life) once every five years in the river that divides their village into east and west. These are Miroslav Penkov’s strange, unexpectedly moving visions of his home country, Bulgaria, and they are the stories that make up his charming, deeply felt debut collection.

In East of the West, Penkov writes with great empathy of centuries of tumult; his characters mourn the way things were and long for things that will never be. But even as they wrestle with the weight of history, with the debt to family, with the pangs of exile, the stories in East of the West are always light on their feet, animated by Penkov’s unmatched eye for the absurd.

I haven’t started reading it yet, but It seems like it will be a good read.

I’ll let you all know what I think!






The Hunger Games Trilogy

Since selling my car I have ridden public transportation (SLC’s TRAX light rail train system) to and from work. To keep myself occupied (and limit my obvious staring and people watching) I have started reading on my Kindle a lot more.

A few people recommended the Huger Games books to me, so I went ahead and downloaded them (I am a sucker for a good review). Turns out some pretty famous authors also like the books (Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer (UGH), and Rick Riordan).

In fact, Stephen King had this to say:

“[The Hunger Games] is a violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense…I couldn’t stop reading.”

The books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay) are written by Suzanne Collins and follow teenager, Katniss Everdeen, during her struggle to survive the “Hunger Games.”

While the books are written for “young adults,” I found them to be a fast read, quite interesting, quick-paced and well written. The concept itself is pretty fascinating.

I love reading and don’t really have a preferred genre. So “young adult” books are fine by me (just look at my intense love of Harry Potter)!

Anywho, here’s a quick blurb about the first book:

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I was sad to finish the series. I highly recommend the books and hope see more from the author soon.

Lucky for me the books are being made into movies! I don’t usually like the movie versions of my favorite books very much, but I’m still pretty stoked that I have them to look forward to. Wonder if they will air in Bulgaria…

If you’ve read them let me know what you thought!


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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

As I am a huge fan of reading and all things “list-y,” I thought this list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, was pretty interesting. Although, there were some omissions that I thought were odd.


I skimmed through it and it seems that I have only read about 20 of the 1001 books.*Gasp*

I got a Kindle 3G for my birthday and have already downloaded over one hundred books, most of them from the out-of-copyright, pre-1923 category as they are free. I am on a very tight budget right now (saving for my move to Bulgaria and my wedding), so free is perfect for me!

I suppose it also helps that I am a big fan of the “classics” anyway. Jane Austen is my favorite.

A good portion of the 1001 books on the list were written before 1923.

I know it’s a little early to be setting New Years resolutions and goals, but I’m doing it anyway!

My very realistic and obtainable goal for 2011 is to read at least 12 more books from the list. Should be easy-peasy as there are at least 12 that I have been meaning to read for a long time anyway.

I have to just say that I REALLY love my Kindle! I have always been a reader, but over the past few years I was reading more textbooks than novels. Now that I am done with school, I want to get back into the habit of reading instead of watching TV. Already I am doing it. I am almost done with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, though I still watch more TV then I’d like.

So there we go, the first of many 2011 resolutions/goals!


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Kindle Envy

My 25th (gasp!) birthday is coming up next month and I have been thinking about what I may want as a present.

Kindle 3G

I’m not a kid anymore (HUGE revelation, right!), so obviously I don’t get lots of gifts (nor do I expect any). However, my Mom and other family members usually, and very generously, give me some cash.

More and more I have mulled over the idea of getting a Kindle. At first the thought of not having an actual book turned me off. I love the smell, the weight, the texture of the paper. I really thought that there was no way a flat, cold, plastic, rectangle could match the allure of a good old-fashioned hard back.

Now, after hearing only great things about the Kindle (e-readers in general, but particularly Amazon’s Kindle), I am almost convinced that I need one.

With the big move overseas rapidly approaching, I am thinking more and more about the things that I will want to pack and take with me. I have hundreds of books in my room and hundreds more in boxes in my basement. Obviously I can’t and don’t want to pack a bunch of book to Bulgaria. But I still want to be able to read when and where I want to. And because I don’t know yet where I will be living-Sofia has bookstores with English language books, however the smaller villages probably won’t-I think the Kindle is a great idea. Plus, most books downloads are $9.99 or less, you really can’t beat that!

Today I was comparing the two models I am considering, the Kindle Wi-Fi and the Kindle 3G. I would love to go with the cheaper model (the $139 Wi-Fi version), but the $189 version boasts free 3G and global wireless coverage.

Another great thing about the Kindle (and other e-readers) is that I can download over 1 million, out-of-copyright, pre 1923 titles for FREE! How awesome would it be to have access to all of Jane Austen’s works in one place?

Ok, so I think I have officially talked myself into one! Guess I’ll have to wait until next month to what the Birthday Fairies bring me!