Sunday, March 08, 2015

Read of the month: March

I draw a lilac girl building a universe. A couple of days later I read about a lilac girl who is the universe to a little boy... in Murakami's latest book.
"The Strange Library" is a very odd little book, weird and wonderful at the same time.
The reason I love Murakami's stories so much is that he has the ability to break open all that is
natural and real – and let loose all the magic and weirdness in the world. "The Strange Library" is
no exception.
The story itself is simple: a young boy stops by his local library on his way from school, in order to return books and check out others. What happens instead is that he's locked up in the library's reading room by an evil old librarian. He must face all his worst fears and find a way to escape, or else face a terrible death in the hands of the scary old man. It is the type of plot you would find in a children's book and in fact, it easily reads as a children's novel. However, a lot of elements of previous Murakami stories are present, twisting the story to a dark mystery.
What I loved most about the book was, naturally, the quirky illustrations. They turn the book to a beautiful visual diary, adding much value to the reading experience... which is no more than half an hour or so. Perfect for your weekend read... and a keepsake for your Murakami collection.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Building a Universe

I'm building a universe while listening to this

Monday, January 26, 2015

The importance of resolutions

A couple of days before the end the year I accidentally found my list of New Year's resolutions for 2014. It was a proper list: fifteen goals – some as simple as forming a couple of good habits, others somewhat challenging – like running a half-mararhon – third a bit too ambitious – like overcoming fears and stepping out of my comfort zone. 2014 was a nice year. I actually managed to finish a half-marathon. Twice. I bought myself a lunchbox and discovered the pleasure of home-cooked lunches. I moved to London for the summer and although I needed some time to get used to everything (let's just say it... I hated London in the beginning), I actually met a bunch of cool people, learned a whole lot of new things and visited some wonderful places there. I also tried the Sorting Hat, which directly falls into the category "childhood dreams come true". Resolutions for 2014: done, done and done. Resolutions for 2015: more, more and more. The list is open and growing.
I'll make sure I travel more in 2015 (there's a separate list with dream-destinations, of course). I will do the best that I can to finally finish my studies once and for all (a thing that is constantly giving me headaches). I will learn more - design-wise, cooking-wise, communication-wise, life-wise. I will do more sport (who's getting at 7am every other morning to go to the gym? I am!) and I will definitely try to find time and draw a little more. I will keep a diary (this blog being a part of it), I will take pictures, I will read more and by the end of the year I'll be more than glad to see a better version
of myself.
That's why I find resolutions so important - because I like to have a plan, I like to know where I'm headed and what I can do to improve the things I do and the things I see. Setting actual goals is the best way to boost your motivation and give direction to what you want and what you need. It doesn't have to be a list of resolutions – but it's a good start of the year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Totem illustration

I'm here.
I've been keeping myself busy for the last couple of months, but now I'm here. I'm full of ideas and plans and recipes for this year - I've written tons of lists and resolutions already, per usual. 2015 is going to be amazing. 
Totem is my last illustration for 2014, here's to a lot more in 2015. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Weekly Menu

Making a weekly menu plan might sound complicated, but it's actually the easiest thing to do. It might require some time up front, but it's definitely worth it in the end. 
Planning your menu for the  upcoming week gives you the opportunity to make a well-balanced and diverse diet, and saves you a lot of time, money and effort. And it's fun. It's real fun. I should have started with that. 

To make things prettier, I've made a cute template you can download from here. You can plan your healthy drinks and snacks, too - so you can always know what you have in store. 
Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to plan a meal for every single night. Think of three balanced meals you'd like to prepare for the week. Think about what you would like to eat, what is good for you to eat – and jot it down. With the visual in front of you you can make sure you are getting all the daily nutrition you need. 
Once you have your menu planned, it's a lot easier to shop groceries for the week and not get  tempted by guilty pleasures. You'll start paying a lot more attention to the food you're eating and – hopefully – get inspired to cook your own meals more often. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Щ is for shtu-ka (pike)

Illustrating cyrillic letters might just be my new November tradition. This time, Щ is for shtuka (Bulgarian for pike), FCP is for Fox Capture Plan and this November, exactly like the previous one, is for tangerines and hot jasmine tea. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jewellery Fox Box DIY

How does the perfect jewellery box look?
Mon will show you how: she has created the cutest little fox box to hold all precious things. It's a fox. It's a box. It's everything you've ever wanted. 
You can turn a plain wooden box into a cute treasure-holder fox in 4 simple steps. Here's how 
Mon did it:

Take out your colour pencils, brushes and acrylic paint, put on some good music and let's get started. Draw a quick sketch of a fox face, or use Mon's sneaky little foxy as inspiration. Using a light orange pencil, draw thin guides on the top of your box. Apply two coats of acrylic paint and let it dry for about half an hour. 
Once the paint is completely dry, you can start adding details and patterns. Use an earbud dipped in paint to easily create a dotted pattern in the inside of the box. Let it dry again and you're ready to put your most precious things inside. Your fox will keep them safe.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lego Lunchbox: puff pastry pizza

Lego lunchbox today:
broccoli + yellow and white cheese + olives puff pasttry pizza 
orange + grapefruit juice
Roo'bar for dessert

Preparing puff pastry pizza is as easy as making a pizza crumpet. It can be assembled in minutes and it tastes so good. You only need to unroll the pastry and put your favourite ingredients on. I layered white cheese, brown olives, yellow cheese and broccoli and baked the whole thing for about 15-20 minutes. Lunchbox packed, thermos packed and I'm ready for a whole day at the Uni. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2 reasons for a happy dog

Dexter sleeps in on a Saturday. He is still sleepy while I put my winter coat on and get ready for our morning walk. He yawns lazily as I put his leash оn. Poor Dexter  – he has now idea that today is 
the day he's been waiting for so long.
It is snowing outside for the first time this season. Not too heavily – but enough to make a golden retriever the happiest dog in the world. I remove his leash and he starts running like crazy, making impossible u-turns, his back paws sliding like he's a cartoon character. He stops every now and then to eat some snow (I try to be the voice of reason but he's a rebel, I give him that) and then rushes off again. Funny how he can run in the snow for so long, but finds it boring when I take him out for
a jog.

As Dexter runs giddily from one end of the park to the other, an old girlfriend of his appears out of nowhere. She waits patiently next to me for Dexter to notice her which takes a good ten minutes or so. Dexter finally comes to greet her and a couple of minutes later they are both running and rolling in the snow. His girlfriend is not as excited about the snow as she is to be seeing Dexter – but he's a little too preoccupied to notice. Or, as I suppose, snow is, after all, a little more exciting than girls.

After a whole hour of snow adventures we finally get back home. We make lunch, brew tea, and hide under a warm blanket. It's a nice Saturday.
Happy first snow!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things I Like in London: Portobello Market

Remember my story about Columbia Road flower market being my favourite market in London? Forget it. It's only half true now because, yes – the smell of lavender and freshly cut grass and all sorts of herbs mixed together is wonderful – but I've found a new love. It's called Portobello Market and things are really serious this time. Have you ever seen Notting Hill? Because that's what started
it all. 
Notting Hill is a romantic comedy where young Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts meet on Portobello Road 142, and almost instantly fall in love. It's really sweet and made me want to see all the colourful buildings and queer shops for myself. And door number 142, of course. 

Notting Hill (the actual place, not the movie) looks a lot different than any other part of London. Narrow roads meander and curve, revealing beautiful architecture. Victorian terrace houses are squeezed tightly into the available space, creating intimate atmosphere. Even on a grey gloomy weekend day the place is vibrant and rich in colour: bright yellow facades, pumpkin-coloured doors, baby-blue terraces, lavender window sills. 
Portobello Road is, of course, full of people, especially on market days. People from all around London – from all around the world, actually – have come to see one of the oldest and most famous antique markets, that is nearly 150 years old. It's a place for precious antiques, quirky fashion, delicious food, books and music. Portobello Road is also home to the Grade II Electric Cinema, one of Britain's oldest cinemas.
On busy days, market stalls stretch a mile along Portobello Road. Even heavy rain can't stop hundreds of traders from selling all sorts of just about everything. You can eat delicious french banana chocolate crepes and try fashionable winter coats all in one place. You can find antique gems like a hundred year old mechanic watches, pearl necklaces, diamond rings, letterpress stamps, silver cutlery... the list could go on forever. 

As if the market stalls weren't enough, surrounding Portobello market are lots of unique independent shops and pubs and restaurants. You can grab a cup of bubble tea and visit the Japanese stationary shop, find a street sign with your name on it or try all the quirky sunglasses in the world until you find the perfect pair. 
Portobello has loads of character, a melting pot of people from all around the world and lots of good food. If you're in London right now – go discover a great treasure whenever you get the chance. If you're someplace else – don't worry! Hugh Grant is great in Notting Hill.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Read of the month: "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage"

Murakami can never disappoint. At least not me.

I've been waiting for his latest novel ever since I finished 1Q84. I found London marketslavender fields and weekend burritos a bit more exciting than reading, but somehow managed to fit this brilliant 300-page story into my busy schedule. Murakami is that good.

You cannot pass a book called "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage", even if you're not a Murakami fan. The title is mysterious and inviting - and you know that the story would be just as weird. But leave the title - you cannot pass a book that looks like that. A true piece of art.

The story tells of an ordinary "colourless" Tsukuru Tazaki whose friends one day mysteriously announce that they no longer want to see him or talk to him or be friends with him any more. His life then stops. He doesn't know how to react, what to feel, how to handle the situation. As time passes, the wound grows deeper. Two decades later - he's never been able to understand exactly what went wrong. One day, with the help of someone, Tsukuru decides he can no longer live without knowing the whole truth. He tries to collect all the pieces of his past in order to carry on with his present.

Colorless Tsukuru's mystery is solved towards the end, but - as usual - a greater mystery remains unsolved. The novel feels like a puzzle and only when you read it you'll find out that there's a 
missing piece. 

Brilliant Murakami, as always. Easy to read - not so easy to understand.

P. S. - the limited english edition comes with a bunch of stickers inside. Could this get any more awesome?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Things I Like in London: Lunch at Barbican

For me, London works like this: I see something for the first time and I hate it. I see it again and think to myself - well, it's not that bad. Third time is a charm and I fall deeply in love. 
It took some time before I fell in love with Barbican. I first saw it on a sunny Saturday morning and wasn't at all impressed by the Brutalist architecture. Being raised up in post-communist Bulgaria makes massive concrete buildings a little less exciting, I guess. Besides - gloomy London is grey enough. 
Barbican Centre is, for starters, a lot of concrete in one place. Cold, monochromatic and out of place - at least that's what my first impression of it was. I surely needed time to find the beauty of it. 

Somehow I didn't feel like Europe's largest performing arts centre should look like this. It took me some time to get used to it and start to see that it actually has character. It is distinctive. And yes, it is out of place in the middle of London, but in a good way. Not such a bad place after the second visit, that's for sure. 
With multiple performing arts venues, galleries and theatres side by side, the Barbican is the essence of the "big idea" architecture. That's what makes it magnificent. It pulls you in like a labyrinth and you become an explorer, discovering what's down this hallway, what's up these stairs, what's around the corner or hiding behind that column. I only visited one exhibition (robot snakes are a little less terrifying than real ones - although I don't want to meet either anytime soon) and couldn't get lost inside - but I'm sure that finding your way through numerous galleries and halls would be even 
more exciting. 

Barbican's a good place for art. And theatre. And films. And music. And lectures. But let me tell you what it's really great for: lunch. I fell in love with Barbican... at lunchtime. 
It only took a nice lunch from the nearby food market to make me realise that, after all, Barbican is actually nice. It's not at all cold if you eat a warm buckwheat crepe there. It's not monochromatic if you walk around the place in your multi-coloured kicks. It is definitely out of place, but - after all, I am too.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Lego Lunchbox: pizza crumpets

Lego lunchbox today:
pizza crumpets
love tea - rose, chamomile and lavender
Nakd raw bar for dessert

When I first came to London I was curious to try three things: liquorice, Marmite and crumpets. Marmite is good, liquorice is really good, but crumpets... Crumpets are the best.

Crumpets go well with everything - peanut butter, jam, chocolate, cream cheese - whatever you prefer. But the best way to eat a crumpet is to make a tiny pizza out of it. That actually might be the easiest way to prepare a pizza - and a good one, too. Just add your favourite pizza ingredients on top of a crumpet and bake for a minute or two. Easy as that. And de-li-ci-ous!