Thrift shopping: Where to secondhand shop in Sofia?

Since I was a little girl, fashion has always been one of my biggest passions. I still dream that one day I will have a closet overfilled with designer clothes, bags and shoes. I will walk the streets of my city with the same sense of style and confidence as Carrie Bradshaw from the Carrie Diaries. Growing older and facing the sad reality that I have to live on a budget made my dreams of becoming a fashion icon pretty much impossible. Thankfully I found a smart solution to my problem. You are probably wondering how come can one wear fashionable and trendy clothing pieces and still not break the bank. Well, here is the secret – thrift shops. Yes, exactly. The second hand shop, from where most of your grandma’s clothes are from. I know it may sound odd, but most of my most worn and favorite clothing items are thrifted from local second-hand shops. Of course that not every single thrift shop in Sofia hides a gem inside and it really takes time and patience to find a good one. Here is where I come and save you time and worries. In this blog post I am going to share my favorite second-hand places.

1.Frea – I am starting off with probably my most adored second-hand shop – Frea. Sadly they still don’t have a permanent store in Sofia, but you can find their pop up shop every so on. But don’t worry even if you hadn’t had the time or opportunity to check out their amazing selection of clothes in the pop up shop, they have 4 other major stores in Plovdiv and a web-site, where you can find high-fashion foreign brands for normal pricing.

http://frea.bg/

2.Modeteka – Next up on my list is Modeteka, which is a bit more on the pricier side since most of the clothing are from high end brands. This is the place I go to when I invest in something more expensive, but I am still not willing to spend a fortune. The shop is also situated on one of the central streets in Sofia, so it is fairly easy to find. Another great thing about Modeteka is that every first 3 days of the month you can bring your own clothes and carefully pick with the friendly staff, which ones could go for sale in the shop. If the clothing gets sold you get 50% of the profit but if it doesn’t they return in to you.

Adress: Petar Parchevich 62

3.Mania – If you are Bulgarian, you have definitely heard the catchy theme song of Mania shop, which was all over the radio a few years ago. The reason why I’m adding it to my list is just because, it has several stores all around Sofia and Bulgaria. As well as two sections, which consist of cheap and expensive. The Mania shop I visit most of the time is located in Hali market right next to “Serdika 2” Metro station. Even though the shop is big, the clothing items are displayed very nicely and you can easily find what you are looking for. I normally go to this thrift shop when I am searching for something more casual or a basic item, which I will redesign and personalize afterwards.

4.The second-hand shops around the Women’s market – they may be a bit of a wild card, but definitely should be visited. Sofia is a city fulfilled with small thrift shops, especially in this neighborhood. Be aware that not every time you go in one of those shops you will find a real treasure or something very special, but the prices are cheap. If you go with a friend it could also turn in a fun activity.

*my favorite are: Zig Zag(Knyaz Boris 1 165-A);

Mupet Mag(Pozitano street);

Shik Shik(Iskar street, 100m from Rainbow Factory)

5. Events and garage sales – To be honest most of my clothes I prefer to get at special second-hand festivals or pop up shops. The reason why I enjoy it so much is because most of the times you buy them directly from the owner himself and you have the chance to actually talk to them. Also at most of those events you can buy sweet treats, which is always a win win. During the last few years Sofia has grown drastically culturally and more and more young people organize innovative and fun events. My favorite events are organized by: Basic Market, Bitaka. You can visit their Facebook pages and learn when and where their next event will take place in.

A picture from Frea’s last pop up event – my favorite Bulgarian chef Bozhana Katzarova preparing amazing sweet treats

5. Remix and Shedd – Both of those shops are online and even have special phone apps. I honestly haven’t used any of them, but they were recommended to me from a few friends, so I had to mention them as well. The best thing about them is that you can sell your clothes, which you don’t wear anymore and earn some money in a easy way.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shedd/id915706402?mt=8

*My moms closet – Recently I have noticed that most of my clothes I get complimented on, have belonged to my mom. I know it may sound a bit too odd but I have always admired my mother’s fashion taste and especially her style during the 90s. You’ve probably noticed that many high end designer brands are influenced by the style trends during the 90s, 80s and 70s for their newest collection. That’s why I would recommend raving your mother’s or grandma’s closet, because you never know what kind of trendy item you might be missing. For example I recently found a vintage Versace sweater, which my mother hadn’t worn in years.

Versace sweater from my mom

Well, thats all from me now. I really hope that all you fashion babes find this blog post helpful and leave me a comment with your own favorite second-hand shops.

“Meatless” balls with roasted red pepper sauce

It’s December, the temperature outside is below 0 degrees. Meaning that the only thing I am willing to do in this freezing weather is to sit at home and enjoy myself. But let’s be honest what’s a perfect day at home without a favorite comfort meal? As every other Sunday when I have finished all my work, I like to head to the kitchen and experiment with different ingredients and dishes. This particular Sunday I was craving a comfort meal, which could still be healthy and delicious. Inspired by the famous American recipe – meatballs in tomato sauce, I came up with the so called “meatless” balls, which consist of buckwheat and spices. To level up the traditional tomato sauce, I added some roasted peppers, which gave the dish a nice kick. Since I felt like my Sunday experiment was successful, I decided to share it with you. It’s fairly easy to make and it is perfect for a family lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

For the “meatless” balls:

1/2 cup of buckwheat

1 carrot

1 onion

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Paprika

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Parsley

2 tbsp. Flour

*Note: feel free to replace the buckwheat with lentils, chickpeas or any other legume

Salt & Pepper

For the sauce:

1 can tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

3 roasted peppers ( you can also use raw)

1 tsp. Basil

Salt & Pepper

1 tsp. Spicy paprika(optional)

Salt & Pepper

What to do?

  1. Cook your buckwheat according to the instructions on the package until softened
  2. Meanwhile, cook onion and carrot in a pan with some olive oil until softened
  3. When your buckwheat is ready, drain it and wash it thoroughly with some cold water to stop the cooking process
  4. In a blender, process first the parsley, veggie mixture and spices
  5. Add the buckwheat and blend again
  6. Transfer in a big bowl add the flour, mix with your hands and start forming medium sized balls as you would to for regular meatballs
  7. When done, place in the 190 C preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown
  8. While waiting for the meatless balls to cook, make the red pepper sauce
  9. In a pan add some olive oil and roasted peppers
  10. Cook for about 3 minutes and add the spices
  11. Pour the tomatoes along with a dash of sugar
  12. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened
  13. When ready, process the sauce in a blender until smooth
  14. After your balls and sauce are done, it is time to plate
  15. In a spaghetti bowl, place some of the sauce on the bottom and put your balls on top, for some additional color chop up some parsley
  16. **For extra flavoring feel free to also add some Parmesan or any other kind of cheese

I hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know if you end up making it!!

Aubergine couscous salad

This summer I rediscovered once again my obsession with aubergines. Spending almost a month in Greece, the one thing that I consumed every single day was and honestly I never got tired of it. When I came back home I still found myself craving and wanting to have it on a day to day basis. Inspired from my trip to Morocco this year, especially the traditional spice mixture from its cuisine, I created this simple and quick cous cous with aubergine. As most of my recipes it takes almost no time to make, it tastes delicious and you can eat it on its is own or serve it as a side to your main dish. The best thing about it is that it’s budget friendly and you most probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of cous cous

1 large or 2 medium sized Aubergines

Feta cheese(optional)

One bunch of mint leafs

1 lemon

1 tsp. Cumin

1tsp. Paprika

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 cup – walnuts

Olive oil

What to do?

1. Cut the aubergines into round circles and place them on a baking sheet

2. Salt them and let them sit for 15min. – in this way you dry out the moisture and make them taste less bitter

3. After the time has passed brush them with olive oil and place in the 180 preheated oven until ready( 20-25min.)

4. In the meantime mix the half a cup of cous cous with a 1tsp. Olive oil, the zest of one lemon and a few fresh mint leafs

5. Pour hot water over the cous cous mixture and let it sit for around 5 min. or until all the water is absorbed

6. Fluff the cous cous with a fork

7. When your aubergines are already baked, chop them into small pieces and add them to the cous cous

8. Season with your remaining spices, chopped mint leafs, juice of one lemon and generous amount of olive oil

9. Roughly chop the walnuts and add them on top

There you have it! A simple and delicious weekly dinner or lunch idea! Hope you enjoy it!

LOOK BOOK : Autumn Vintage

I don’t know why but when the beginning of Autumn comes, I get very nostalgic and that definitely reflects on my overall style. I’ve always adored vintage fashion pieces and from time to time when I lack a style inspiration, I look threw my mother’s clothes from the 90s or scroll threw some vintage fashion Instagram accounts. Soon enough I concluded that during this time of year my style consists mainly of second-hand clothing items or borrowed clothing pieces from my mother and grandma. For this reason, I decided to create this mini look book, in which I have styled my two current favorite vintage pieces. Along with my fellow friend and talented photographer @m.art.in.photo, we shot this vintage detail editorial.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The shirt in this look book is probably my favorite thrifted item. I got it about a month ago from a small second-hand boutique located in Sofia on Angel Kanchen street. Its vintage Ralph Lauren, which I got for 12 leva (or around 6 euro). If that isn’t a good deal, than I don’t know what is. The best thing about wearing the shirt is that whether you style it with jeans or a skirt, it adds a very subtle touch of class to the whole look.

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Sunglasses: H&M

Jewelry: unknown

The bag I got from a random shop in Fez, Morocco, but I am sure you can find a similar one almost every where since they are so trendy right now. For example I saw nice models in Zara.

The jeans were worn by my mother about 20 years ago and have stayed in her closet ever since. About a year ago, she gave them to me and until now, they are one of my most worn piece. I think that they are the perfect denim color and compliment my style and fit really well.

I really hope you enjoyed this mini look book. If you would like to see more amazing photos, go follow @m.art.in.photo on Instagram!

5 – Minute Chickpea pancakes with avocado basil cream

We all have those days where we want to cook something special for ourselves or our friends and family but don’t have that much time on our hands. One of my favorite bloggers Deliciously Ella inspired me to develop a quick and easy recipe that will definitely wow the crowd. Continue reading “5 – Minute Chickpea pancakes with avocado basil cream”

A beginners guide to a healthy lifestyle

Hey lovely people! Today I was feeling inspired and thought that it is time for me to share how I manage to maintain my mindful and healthy lifestyle. Hearing the word healthy probably the first association that pops into your mind is diet and weight-loss. Well this blog post has nothing to do with that. I just want to give you some simple tips, which can drastically change your mindset and body in a positive way without harming your psyche or making you starve.

1. Sleep more – I am sure you have heard this one at least a thousand times from your parents or overly protective grandma, who is concerned about your well-being, and it may be hard to admit but both your grandma and mother were right this time. Good night sleep plays an essential role in our physical life, because without it our body does not function properly. When you don’t sleep enough your cortisol(stress hormone) rises and in many cases can lead to fat gain. Without the needed sleep our brain activates and starts searching for food. You have probably noticed that after a long night out with your friends, you end up stuffing yourself with all the leftovers in the fridge the day after. Due to the lack of sleep our brain hunts for food, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

2. Eat 5 times per day – this one is most certainly my top tip and my most followed rule. Dividing my food into smaller meals through out the day has helped me reduce my weight and helped me feel fuller. Eating 5 times a day stops you from feeling hungry and doesn’t allow you to overeat. For example I normally have 3 main meals(breakfast, dinner and lunch) and two snacks in between(fresh fruit, raw bars, nuts).

3. Drink more water – Although this may sound a bit too cliched, it definitely shouldn’t be missed. If you have payed even a little attention in your biology class in school, you are aware that the human body is made out of approximately 60% water. Our body uses all of that water in all of its cells, organs and to help regulate the temperature and other bodily functions. In other words water plays the leading role for good health and well-being. Not only does it increase our metabolism, but it also cools us down in the summer, helps us digest food and alcohol faster, and on top of that fools our body when hungry. Next time you think your stomach is empty, don’t head immediately for that tempting box of Oreos. Firstly drink a glass of water and see whether you are still feeling hungry. *Bonus tip – if you don’t like the taste of plain water, simply add some lemon or fresh fruits in it.

4. Take your time – The benefits of slow eating are numerous. Not only that it helps for better digestion, better hydration, easier maintenance of your desired weight, but it also makes your brain realize when you are actually full. We all have a very fast and buzzed life, so we rarely have the time to sit down, enjoy our meal or even chew it properly. What I would suggest doing is to try and take all your time during lunch break. Switch off your phone or any other devices that may bother you and just rest and truly enjoy your meal. Trust me, this will not only help you lose weight, but it will save you from consuming a couple of additional calories.

5. Move it, move it – We have all been told that physical activity plays a vital role when wanting to lose weight. Well, that may be true, but lets be honest it is almost impossible to hit the gym everyday. But what we can do everyday is walk. Whether you plan to go to school or work on foot, take your dog on a walk or even stroll through the park with a friend, all of this benefits your body and health. Not only that in some cases walking can save you money from public transport and taxis, but it also refreshes your day and makes it much more enjoyable. I personally have set an everyday goal of 10,000 steps per day. If you are someone like me, who also doesn’t enjoy doing intense cardio work-outs, you can take up yoga classes. A few months ago I started doing yoga more regularly and I can really see the positive change it has done to my mind and body.

6. Self love – My last tip may sound a little bit too psychological, but don’t underestimate it. From my personal experience I have learned that when you learn to love yourself and your outer appearance that is when you can really follow the desired healthy lifestyle. No matter how many hours you spend at the gym or how many unhealthy foods you try to restrict from your diet, at the end of the day, all that matters is how you actually feel on the inside. Every person has a different body type, which is often controlled by our genetics. For this reason you must understand that you are beautiful just the way you are and all your little blemishes make you special and unique.

Lastly, I would like to make a disclaimer that I am no professional expert and all the tips are based on personal experience. I really do hope that some of them really help you live more mindful and healthy.

Rome: NON-touristy guide

In the beginning of August my two best friends from middle school and I spontaneously decided to pack our suitcases and go on a low-budget trip to Rome. Since we all had visited the city before, we really wanted to experience Rome in a more local way and do things off the beaten touristy track. Although it was a bit hard to avoid all the touristy sights, we still managed to see the city in an entirely new light.. In this blog post I am going to share with you my favorite things we did in Rome and I would strongly recommend you doing at least a few if visiting the Italian capital.

1. Explore the local districts of the city – Apart from its beautiful center, Rome has many other neighborhoods such as Trappicino, San Lorenzo and etc.. They are often underestimated or unknown by most tourists. My personal favorite district was Trastevere. Situated on the other side of the river, Trastevere is full with small boutiques, local restaurants and bars, and breathtaking historical buildings. While we were there we also walked around the Botanical garden, which unfortunately didn’t have such a wide variety of plants, but was still a nice place for wandering around and taking cool pictures.

Botanical Gardens

2. Do your sightseeing at night – As you know Rome has become one of the most preferred and common tourist destinations in the world. Due to its many historical sights the capital is filled with tourists all year round. If you are a person who dislikes crowded and hectic places, but still want to explore the ancient sights, then going on a night trip through the city is your savior. After sun dawn, at around 11/12 at night, most of the tourists are already exhausted from their long day of sightseeing and go back to their hotel rooms. At this time the streets get emptier and you can really get a close look of some of Rome’s most famous sights. All the buildings and monuments are lit up nicely and in my opinion look even better than during the day. If you are not a night owl and care about your good night sleep, another good time to avoid the touristy crowds, is really early in the morning.

National history museum

3. Simply wander – The city is full with small streets and hidden corners, so don’t be scared to get lost. When wandering in the small streets without a guided way you never know what you might find. What my girls and I loved to do was to sneak in some of the buildings when the door was open and sit at the patio of the building, if of course there was one. And even if at some moment you feel too lost, don’t worry about asking a local to show you the way. Italians are known to be very friendly and warm, so I am sure that they would love to help you.

hidden patio we found

4. Eat – You already are aware that Italian cuisine is awarded to be one of the best and most adored in the world. When staying in its capital, you shall forget about dieting and truly enjoy all the food choices you have. Wherever you turn around you can smell and taste amazing and reasonably priced pasta, pizza and gelato.

5. Start your morning at a local cafe – Another very common thing you will find everywhere around Rome is good coffee. To be honest, the best coffee is not at a fancy cafe or at a hipster trendy café. If you really want to sip on some real Italian espresso, go to your next door cafe and enjoy your 80 cent coffee alongside some delicious homemade pastry.

Pizza from Bonci Pizzarium
Dinner at Obicá

6. Grab a drink and hang out in Piazza Madonna dei Monti – Rione Monti is a very trendy neighborhood among young Romans. There, the locals like to shop in the alternative boutiques or hang out with their friends after work or on the weekends. After the sun sets down, the small square turns into a vibrant meeting point for creative and stylish people. My girlfriends and I decided to walk around Monti and eat some pizza and pasta at local Italian restaurant. After fulfilling our stomachs with delicious Italian goodness we went to buy some ice-cream from “Fatamorgana”(outrageous flavors) and sat with a bottle of wine at the piazza. While drinking my wine and chatting with my girlfriends, for just a moment I felt as if I was living in some kind of parallel perfect world.

7. Rent a bike – my best friend is a really big fan of biking in general, so when she heard that we have a bike rental place just a few blocks away from our airbnb, she just couldn’t miss that opportunity. At first I was a bit skeptical to ride a bike in Rome, because most of the streets are very small and crowded and also there aren’t many special biking routes. Surprisingly, at the end of the day, I was actually happy with the whole biking experience. Not only that it saved us time and money from going to one point to another, but we also rode along the river, where there were not as many people and you could get a beautiful look of the city. If you don’t feel sure in your biking skills, you could also sign up for a guided biking tour!

View from the river

Places we ate at: Frigidarium – Rome’s first gelateria

Ginger – great place for a healthy meal

Fatamorgana – extraordinary and non-traditional ice-cream flavors

Bonci Pizzarium – most famous pizza place in Rome and a definitive must on your foodie list

Obica – mozzarella bar – great place for cocktails and finger food

That’s all from our small vacation in Rome. Hope this non-touristy tips really help experience the city in a whole new and exciting way.