Happy Thanksgiving, America!

At this very moment, we hope you all are enjoying some late-morning football, smelling delicious things cooking in the next room, OR are the ones preparing those lovely Thanksgiving staples we all adore.  We definitely wish we were there!!

Well, let us tell you guys about what weˈve done instead of being there... 

When we were told we would live in Plovdiv, we found out that it was tradition for the married couple living there to host Thanksgiving.  Weˈre so glad we accepted the "challenge," because having thirteen guests for an early Thanksgiving this past Sunday was amazing!

As you can imagine, it was quirky, to say the least, finding and "tweaking" the ingredients of many of our favorite dishes.  It was also interesting trying to fit that many people in a 700 sq. ft. apartment (thank God for a closed-in balcony!).

So, long story short, here's what our 15-person Thanksgiving Party looked like:

Macaroni and Cheese (from scratch)

MMMMMMM..... thanks, Joan!

Delicious carmelized apples... thanks Joe!

Two dining-room tables & a coffee table (all in a row to make one long table), 2 couches, 2 borrowed stools, 2 of our stools, and 5 of our chairs...  Thanks, Vania & Stefan for letting us borrow your stools!

A very full kitchen... and, with that came lots of help!

Lots of hanging out on the balcony, waiting on the food to be ready, and watching Joe work his caramelized-apple magic... good job, guys!

ɛnjoying good drinks...

Lots of TURKEY!  This was a huge success... mostly because Vania & Stefan ALSO let us cook one of our 2 turkeys (9 lbs. each) in their oven.  We couldn't have timed this delicious meal without their oven.
You guys rock!

We also had squash (tasted very similar to sweet potatoes), mashed potatoes...

green beans, stuffing...

rolls, and trushia (a pickled Bulgarian winter favorite).

And, that's not even including dessert!

Jake, my long-lost red-headed brother, your pumpkin pie was superb!  ɑnd, Jackie, your bruschetta was delish. Canˈt wait to finish off your cookie recipe!

Besides the fact that this woman made some killer apple pie, she was a life-saver!  This being our first time hosting Thanksgiving, she brought experience & major talent to the table.  Couldn't have done all this without her!  Weˈre SO thankful she lives only ʒ0 minutes away.  We love you, Joan!

One must keep in mind that finding ingredients for Аmerican Тhanksgiving cuisine, utilizing multiple kitchens, and having enough dishes (though we're only living here for 27 months) are quite the hurdles.  Because of that, this post might seem more focused on the food aspect of Thanksgiving, this year.

But, it would not have been Thanksgiving without our PC buddies.  Thanks, you guys, for coming to our home for Thanksgiving, for cooking and bringing food, for helping clean up afterwards, and for just being Аmerican together for one day.

Weˈre truly thankful to God, this Thanksgiving, for your support and empathy on this journey in Bulgaria!

Happy Thanksgiving, Аmerica!  ʀest assured we are representing you well... even on Turkey Day!

ʀandall and Joy


Joy: "Cherpi" for Luke

One of my favorite things about Bulgaria is this whole "Cherpi" concept.  This basically means if there's even the slightest reason to celebrate, do it, and do it with style... with chocolates, with buns, with rolls, with cake, etc.  When you have something to celebrate, you "cherpi"... you buy chocolates, cake, buns, crackers, drinks, etc. and give them out to your co-workers, friends, students, teachers, neighbors.  You tell them what you are celebrating, and they "wish" good things for you!  Good health, good luck, success, long life, and the list goes on.

Having experienced this many times since living here, I've realized that Bulgarians do a MUCH better job celebrating than Americans.  Not only do they celebrate our normal festivities (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, new babies), they ALSO celebrate name days, getting a new house, a new job/first salary... they even say "Happy New Hair-do" if you got a new hair cut!

I've thought to myself several times that I can't wait to "cherpi" for something...

So, today, I implemented this wonderful part of their culture at my school by...


He was born on Thursday, October 27th.  He was 7 lbs. and 15 oz. and 19 inches long.  And, guess what!  He has RED HAIR!
This is very exciting and SO worth celebrating!!

I had these pictures printed:

Isn't he the most adorable thing!?  Ah!!

I wish I could pinch his cheeks SO BAD.

Along with those pictures, I made some banana muffins and cinnamon cake, and bought chocolates and one of their famous sweet breads (all sweet things for this sweet little boy, one of my colleagues said!):

My colleagues partook of these goodies and "wished" Luke wonderful things: long life, good health, success, health for his family, and much, much more.

I loved this most, because I already want to shout to the rooftop that I have a sweet, cute new little nephew... and, in Bulgaria, it's expected!

Luke, I can't wait to see you, kiss your cheeks, and rub your red-headed little head!

Aunt Joy