Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  We missed seeing so many of you and it was a weird adjustment for me to be away for the holiday.  Matt has missed several Christmas' with family due to work, travel, etc. but in all my 30 years I have never missed a Christmas at my mom's house.  I suppose the times they are a changin' and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Putting on Christmas yourself is hardwork!  I'm still exhausted!

Anyway, we have been festive little bee's this holiday season and we still have more yuletide cheer to spread this week too!  We kicked off our holiday weekend with a visit to the Nutcracker at the Sofia Opera House.  The place is beautiful...and tickets are so cheap!  I was worried that I might be bored or that the ballet may not be my cup of tea but I absolutely LOVED it!  Matt struggled to stay awake during the first half but fought through like a trooper.  I'll definitely go back to see more shows I wonder if I would like even more ballets.  Below is a picture of us at intermission having a little champagne.

Of course, I can't go anywhere without something comical happening.  So during intermission we finally got our champagne just in time for intermission to almost be over.  So I had to "chug" mine.  Heaven forbid I waste a $1.50 glass of champagne-right?  So as we were walking back towards the door to the theatre I burped so loud from my chugging session.  It echoed off the walls of the intermission area.  Awesome.  Then I decided I better run the the restroom quickly with one of the girls we were attending the performance with.  Well, we got locked out of the show!  I guess at these types of places the doors literally lock from the outside.  The people would not let us back in, thankfully the girl I was with is Bulgarian and was fussing with the folks to let us back in.  The poor guys were watching the ballet alone.  All I could picture was us being stuck in the hallway outside of the ballet and the guys having to watch the whole second half alone.  Finally my Bulgarian friend convinced the staff to let us back in.  Of course it was mid performance and we had to step over a ton of people to get to our center row seats.  So embarrassing! Below are some shots of downtown that night.  It was a warm, foggy evening.  Kinda cool.  We were able to see some of the decorations all lit up.

Onto Christmas Eve.  So for Christmas Eve we decided we would throw a party.  I did no prep work before hand because I had had a rather busy week so on Friday morning we had to do all of the cooking and cleaning for the party that night.  We worked hard all day!  Below is a picture of me before all of the guests arrived.  I was so worried noone would show!  Instead, we had a great showing and ended up staying up till almost 4am...4AM on Christmas Eve!  Crazy.

A picture of our Christmas Tree.  Our family totally spoiled us!  None of my presents for Matt arrived in time for Christmas so we are spreading Christmas out for a while until all of his things arrive!  My friends 11 year old walked into our house and said "Wow, you guys have way more things under the tree than we do!"  Awesome-huh?

A picture of some of the food...of course half devoured by the time a remembered to take a picture.

We figured that everyone would head home early since it was Christmas Eve.  Then as the night went on people started saying things like "well, I have to stay until midnight so we can cheers christmas"  like it was new years eve!

And then, this crazy storm came through.  It was almost like a summer thunderstorm.  It was pouring down rain and the wind was blowing like crazy.  Our power even went out for a bit.  So some of the party goers decided to stick around and wait out the storm.  So what do you do on Christmas Eve in the middle of a thunderstorm?  Take tequilla shots, of course.

After I night like that, this is what you look like when you wake up on Christmas morning.  We were so struggling!

Christmas Day was weird.  It was 60 degrees and bright and sunny.  The crazy storm the night before cleared away all of the smog and it was the warm super clear day.  Kinda cool, except I really wanted a white christmas plus we were too tired to enjoy the weather.  Below is a picture of one of Matt's gifts to me.  An apron and a meat tenderizer.  Sweet, think he's trying to send me a message?  ;)
 Matt opening a picture of one of the gifts I bought for him...

Some of our friends had us over for christmas dinner, they slightly delayed dinner time given our shennaningans the prior evening but we had a delicious meal and realxed at their house an watched movies all evening.  It was fun. Yesterday we headed to a St. Stephen's Day party and had more delish food with great company.  But, as you can see I put the camera to rest after Christmas morning.

Tonight we are having Christmas Part II as some more things arrived in the mail for Matt today.  They are wrapped and under the tree waiting for him to get home.  Given that today is an extension of Christmas I can say I finally got a white Christmas.  After 60 degrees on Christmas Day, it's snowing here today.  I'm loving it!  Everything looks so pretty covered in snow.

Some left over party beverages on the balcony today and the view from our balcony today.

We have another busy week ahead of us.  Christmas Part II tonight, dinner with friends tomorrow, and then we are headed out of town!  I'm so excited to finally be going somewhere!  In Bulgaria there are lots of spa hotels because of a plethora of thermal/mineral springs.  So we are headed to one of them for 2 nights.  Matt is, as expected, thrilled at the thought of 2 nights at a spa.  hahaha.  We head back New Years Eve with no real plans...I'm sure something will pan out between now and then.

Hope you guys enjoy the week!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from Bulgaria

So I have been super duper MIA from this blog and it kinda makes me sad.  So get ready for a super duper post, I hope now that we finally have the ability to upload photos I can keep up a bit better. 

We've had an eventful couple of months.  We (well, I) had a fantastic visit back in the states!  I had three weeks of friends, family, shopping, an awesome bachelorette weekend for one of my most favorite of people, and a great Thanksgiving with both my family and Matt's family.  Poor Matt worked a TON for two solid weeks and then got sick on his one week off.  I think he still had a nice time being back in the states.  And was back to reality and back to Bulgaria.  We literally were silent on the cab ride from the airport.  The good news is, our shipment of our household items arrived the day after we arrived home so I was busy unpacking and organizing.  Usually this is soothing and calming for me (as many of you know, if I'm stressed you can find me organizing my closet ;))  but settling back into our life here was surprisingly hard for me.  Which I'm sure wasn't pleasant for Matt (actually, I know it wasn't.)  We got back and nothing.was.easy.  at all.  Our cat was sick and crying non-stop, our internet was out, and I was so irritated that I can't drive or speak the language in this place. 

But, since then all that has passed and the kitty seems to have recovered and we have been busy decking the halls.  During my "bad week," as I like to call it, I was also super bummed about our Christmas plans.  Meaning we have none except to stay here in Bulgaria.  Matt had a totally different perspective of how our Christmas would be and he pulled me out of my rut on that one too. 

So anyway, without further ado FINALLY here are some pictures that prove that we really are living in Bulgaria :) 

 A Bulgarian street shot.
 Some Bulgarian Christmas decor, haven't seen it all lit up yet (they decorate very late here)
 I used to know what this monument was dedicated to, but I can't remember.  This is basically right in the city center and across from the iconic Cathedral pictured below.
 Side shot of the Cathedral.
 I'm so proud of this picture, not sure why since you can't even really see the pretty gold rotunda thingys on the roof
 Always pumped for a photo op...
 This is a markets across the cathedral.  They have a ton of icons and other 'authentic' Bulgarian goods.  I come here when I need something Bulgarian for a gift (or for me.)
Another shot of the market with the Cathedral in the background

Another downtown shot.  I had my first Bulgarian sushi experience on the corner here.  There's a place called Happy Sushi which makes me chuckle.  I experienced my first sushi roll with fried chicken inside.  It was actually delicious, I would consider it sushi, but still delish all in the same.

The Russian Church.  I think this is definitely my favorite church in Sofia.  I'll have to go inside and check it out soon.

Just another street

I don't know, but I had to capture it.  I don't think this would really be considered a gypsy, maybe just a guy rolling his boxes to the trash bin...not sure..

A street dog.  He had a buddy following behind him who looked injured.  The dog situation is getting really sad this time of year.  They are so cold and hungry.  I think the dogs on my street are plain angry.  I've been barked at much more than normal.  I hear that a lot of the dogs wont survive the winter (not surprisingly) but still awful.

Ok, this one is a good view of traffic in Bulgaria.  The car in front of us is literally stopped in the middle of a traffic lane with his hazards on.  Bulgarians don't use hazards just for emergencies.  They use them to signal to you that they are stopping, for whatever reason.  There's a mall to the right of us and I decided that this man had dropped his wife off to do some Christmas shopping and was sitting here waiting for the middle of the road.  The other car of course is trying to make a left hand turn in the middle of stopped traffic.  It's a wonder the have such road rage here.  Since we've been back I've seen two vehicle altercations where people literally get out of their cars.  Each time I am waiting for a fist fight to begin but it never does. 

And here is our little Christmas tree. 

Had to add a little Eastern European-ness to our Christmas decor...some festive matryoska dolls.

We have been a little bummed that we don't have a fireplace here so Matt downloaded one for us for our tv.  ha!  P.S.  Can you see the Command Center to the right of the TV?  It takes a lot of cables and cords to run this operation here!

Matt's mom sent us his most favorite Christmas ornament ever, he says his family has had it for as long as he can remember. He was so pumped when we received it in the mail today.  I asked him about the gold garland.  He told me this is a recent addition to the ornament.  He said that he added it maybe around high school time because he really wanted to highlight the monkey on the tree. ha.  
This picture was taken forever ago but I wanted to show you our itty bitty little elevator.  This elevator is why I always take the stairs when I am alone.

And as for me, this is what I have been up to lately.  Seriously.  I have been knitting.  I was invited to a "Stitch and Bitch" gathering last week and have busily been knitting away ever since.  I probably logged 4 solid hours of knitting this weekend (between tv and football time) and this is how far I've gotten.  Also, there's a huge hole in the middle of my knitting.  But I'm proud of my little project and dare to say that I may even order myself some tools and yarn online.  You better watch out, next Christmas it might be scarfs and hats galore over here :)
So that was a lot.  This week is a busy week and I am praying HARD for a white Christmas, although it looks like I may not be in luck.  I'm headed for my first Bulgarian hair appointment, we are headed to the Nutcracker one night this week and then we are hosting a Christmas Eve party at our place.   Hope you guys are enjoying a wonderful holiday season!  We miss you all dearly!!

Monday, November 1, 2010


So today is a Beautiful fall day in Bulgaria.  Today is a day that I've decided I like our new home.   Excited to great the day (and trying to ignore the fact that I'm coming down with the sniffles) I set out this afternoon to run some errands.  Matt is in desperate need of having his suits dry cleaned and with our upcoming trip it was critical to get the dry cleaning complete this week.   So I head out to the dry cleaners for the first time.  I have a huge bag, I look like the bag lady.  I walk into the Eco dry cleaners and cheerfully great the two ladies working behind the counter.  One starts speaking bulgarian and I say "ahhh, i'm sorry.  Engleski?"  And she says "no, Francois but no Engleski" and laughs at me with a tone that says "you stupid American."  I begin to unload my bag o' clothes onto her counter and she begins saying "no, no, no."  I stop and say "what?"  She points to the cat hair and one of Matt's pants. 

Sidenote:  This weekend I asked Matt to pull out all suits that needed dry cleaning and he "threw" them in a chair in our bedroom.  Chloe loves this chair, so this meant that Chloe laid all over the suits for the entire weekend.  She looked like she was in heaven, actually.  I never made her move because I thought "what does it matter?  We are taking this suits to be cleaned anyway." 

So the dry cleaning lady asks if the hair is from a dog or cat.  I tell her a cat.  She proceeds to tell me no, no, no.  She will not dry clean these items for me.  I proceed to pull out every article of clothing in my bag and find one suit that she agrees to dry clean.  Then, I get all pissed that she's not going to dry clean the rest of my things.  After all this IS a place where you bring clothes to be cleaned!  Why was she refusing service to me?  So I say "you know what, never mind.  This is ridiculous."  At this point I'm quite positive she can understand me just fine since I've been communicating with her in English the whole time.  I storm out of her store with my huge bag and head on my way.  I'm now on the brink of tears.  Then I realize I've turned the wrong direction out of the store so I have to turn around and walk PAST the darned store again.  I'm sure those Bulgarian women were sitting in there reveling in their meanness. 

I proceeded to walk to the embassy with my huge bag of clothes.  I heard there was a dry cleaner there.  Matt calls during my walk and finds the whole scenario hilarious since he asked me this weekend if we should remove Chloe from the pile of suits and I told him not to worry about it since we were taking them to be cleaned anyways. 

So, I go to the store at the embassy that handles dry cleaning.  I ask her if there is an issue with the cat hair, will they clean my clothes?  The lady looks at me like I have 6 heads and says she's never heard of such an issue.  Our clothes will be ready on Thursday.  We'll see how they turn out....

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Not So Movie Star

So as many of you know, one of our most exciting adventures in Bulgaria thus far was that I tried out for a movie and actually got a part.  The move is called Spiders 3D.  I was given the part entitled "Old Lady" and my ONE line was "Are you ok?"  (I was to shout this to the lead actress.)  To make it even more exciting I would actually be paid for my time as well!  I signed a contract and all.

There is a movie studio here in Bulgaria that films all sorts of movies- Bulgarian, Italian, American.  I think Val Kilmer has done some shooting here, Donald Sutherland and I even want to say Christian Slater.

I went to the Studio to audition, sign my contract and do a wardrobe fitting.  The whole experience was quite hysterical.  So last Saturday was my "filming day."  My car arrived to pick me up at about 8:30am and we headed for the set which was a Bulgarian Business Park that had been re-done to look like a New York City Street.  As you'll see from the pictures, they had American cars, signs, etc.  I'll be very interested to see the movie when it is released next year just to see if I recognize some of the stuff.

So upon arrival to the set I was taken to my "trailer" which was basically a trailer divided into 3 "rooms." One for each American that was filming that day.  I met the other 2 American dudes that would be filming that day as well.  The only other folks with their own trailers were the lead actress Christa Campbell and Patrick Muldoon.  Note:  for any former Days of Our Lives fans, "Pat" was the former Austin on the soap opera.  How funny is that?

We were told to immediately change into our wardrobe so that the wardrobe folks could approve our outfits and then we would head to hair and makeup.  We sat around for a long while then eventually went to make up.  Then we sat and we sat and we sat.  Eventually one of the Assistant Directors came and got us for lunch.  This was the first time we walked through the set.  We were amazed.  A whole army had been trying to get this movie together while we were sitting in our trailers that were heated and stocked with food and drink.  When we walked into the place where lunch was served, it was dead.  That's because the only people served food ahead of us were the 2 stars of the film.  After we were served we noticed that the rest of the crew were being led into eat.  How funny is that?

After lunch we were told that they were having some troubles with the 3D cameras and we were asked if we were able to come back the next day.  I, of course, immediately said I was available- this would mean two whole days of pay!  Wooohooo for me!  So, we continued to wait.  There was a catering cart on set that we could visit free of charge.  On a coffee run we noticed they had beer in there.  So around 3 o'clock we went and helped ourselves to beers.  After our first round we still had no word on the filming schedule so we helped ourselves to two more beers.  At this point, one of the ADs came and told the guys they would be filming their scene.  I asked if I could tag along.  Mind you, I was supposed to be wearing a suit for my scene.  I had on my suit shirt (untucked), suit pants, my uggs, and a puffy coat.  I followed them down to set where everyone started frantically asking me where the rest of the outfit was.  I said that I hadn't realized I would be filming and they said "no no, you must have your outfit."  So an AD rushed me back to my trailer to get my suit jacket and heels.  We proceeded to sit around for a very long time where people were constantly asking us if we needed chairs, coffees, snacks, etc.  We were just in awe of the entire filming production and forgot that, to them, we were VIPs.  hahaha.

The guys ended up filming their scene, I wasn't able to film mine before they "called it a wrap" for the day.  I received a call today that because of the filming schedule my scene had been  Kinda makes for a lack luster ending but the whole experience was hysterical AND I still get paid!

Below are some pictures that one of the guys shared with me. When they were filming I took over the camera and tried to capture as much as possible. 

I love this one.  The cop cars had "NYCP"  versus "NYPD"-  guess you probably have to pay for the rights to NYPD.
If you look closely the sign reads "welcome to New York"
 They even had american cars with pretend NY state license plates
A New York City Street also known as a Bulgarian business park.

 The above makes me laugh because they are american trashcans and mail boxes next to the Bulgarian trash can.

 My trailer- I like how they changed me from "old lady" to "Woman"
 Oh, if you look closely you'll notice my coffee.  Even regular coffee is served like a shot of espresso.  I need like 10 of them to feel like I've had a "real" cup of coffee!
 Inside of the trailer
 The stars taping an action shot, running across the street
 This one is really funny.  As they were filming, they realized there was a bulgarian sign in the camera shot (if that's the right word?)  A man literally shimmied up the pole to try and remove the sign.  Ultimately, they ended up just turning the sign in a different direction
Front shot of the Bulgarian sign (I, of course, have no idea what it says!)

That's about all.  While it turns out I wont be in a movie, the whole thing is pretty funny.  I think that next time they are "looking" for extras I will probably try out again.  Makes for too good of a story not to try-right?

Hope you guys are all well!