Thursday, February 28, 2013


Well, I'm a day late for WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, but I didn't want you to think I'd abandoned all crafting, so here's the latest photo of my Stanford iPad Case.  More details once it's finish, which will hopefully be this weekend.

From top left: front, back, inside panels

Friday, February 22, 2013

Turkey, for real

Disclaimer - this is a photo heavy post
We'll hopefully be back to our regularly scheduled crafting programming this weekend, but for now, here's a more thorough review of our Turkey vacation. In 10 days, we took 5 flights, visited 5 cities (plus a few other little towns), saw countless mosques, and took 1064 photos.  Narrowing that down to a manageable amount was tough, but I think I succeeded.  I left out pictures of the majority of the mosques and I'm going to try to limit the writing so this post doesn't go on for days.
So here goes:

We started our trip in Selçuk (pronouced Sel-chuk), which is a small down near the Aegean Sea.  We stayed there primarily due to it's proximity to Ephesus, which was a major Roman city during the first century B.C. and is now reconstructed ruins.


Library of Celsus
While in Selçuk, we also visited Sirince (pronounced Shirinjay), which is best known for the fruit wine produced there.  After doing a tasting that included quince and cherry (which tasted like cough syrup), among others, we bought a bottle of melon.

Next, it was on to Izmir, which is the third largest city (by population) in Turkey and sits right on the coast of the Aegean Sea.  Unlike many of the other places we visited, Izmir is not very touristy, but it did have a few neat sites, included a huge bazaar (in which we got lost), an ethnographic museum, and the Agora. There was also this really neat clock tower (saat kulesi) that was built by French architect Raymond Charles Père in 1901 as a gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm II to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II's rule.

Saat Kulesi
There were hoards of pigeons around the clock tower that kept flying, as a group, in random directions.  Nostalgia struck Mr. T and he bought some (overpriced) seeds from someone sitting in the square to feed them, so they kept flocking around us.  Apparently he used to do this as a child in India.
On our third day, we flew to the town of Göreme, which is in Cappdocia. This area is know for the fairy chimneys and valleys that were formed when Mount Erciyes (Erciyes Dagi) erupted a few thousand years ago.  It's a quite touristy region and there are a few staple activities:

Sleeping in a cave room.

Taking a hot air balloon ride to get an aerial view of the landscape.

Hot air being blown into the balloon.

Landscape of Göreme

There were at least 80 balloons in the sky.

Fairy chimneys (the phallic structures) and Uchisar castle in the distance.
Mr. T helping to get the air out of our balloon when the ride was over.

Uchisar Castle from the ground.
Fresco in a rock church at the Göreme Open Air Museum
Graves in a structure at the Open Air Museum.  People back then were very small.
Erciyes Dagi in the distance, from the top of Uchisar Castle
Finally, it was on to Istanbul! My favorite thing about Istanbul is the juxtaposition of historical sites (like Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque) from Byzantine and Ottoman times and the bars, restaurants, culture, etc. of a modern day European (and Asian) city.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the Iznik tiles inside). One of our favorites of all the mosques we visited.  We went back a few times.

Blue Mosque at dusk
Me with my head covered (clearly, I still need some practice) inside the Blue Mosque.
Topkapi Palace - primary residence of Ottoman Sultans, now a museum with lots of artifacts
Mr. T in front of the Ayasofya (known in English as the Hagia Sophia). Originally a church built by Emperor Justinian in the 500s, then converted to a mosque in the 1400s, and is now a museum.
Inside the Ayasofya, from the balcony.
One of several mosaics that are currently being restored inside the Ayasofya. AMAZING! Each pieces is about the size of a pinkie finger nail.  So small!
Basilica Cistern - cavernous space underneath Istanbul that was used to store water during Emperor Justinian's reign in the 6th century.
One of two Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern.  No one is clear as to why or how they are there.  Or why they're not upright.  The other is a bit bigger and upside down.  Both serve as the base of columns in the northwest corner of the cistern.
We took a cruise on the Bosphorus River, which separates the European and Asian parts of Istanbul and connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. This is a view of the Bospohrus Bridge from the river,   The bridge was completed in 1973 for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Turkey.
Fortress of Europe on the western bank of the Bosphorus
Fortress of Asia on the eastern bank of the Bospohrus.  There's not as much remaining as the Fortress of Europe (it's 50 years older), but a few towers are visible behind those houses.
We caught a futbol match.  So much better than any sporting event in the US!  The crowd is so much more enthusiastic.  The only comparison I can think of is an entire stadium full of just the student section at a Michigan football game (or presumably any student section, but I'm a Michigan Wolverine, so...GO BLUE!).
Spice Bazaar! I think this was one of my favorite places in Istabul because of the vibrant colors.  Everything is way overpriced.  We bought a few spices from stands right on the edge or just outside the official market building and they were 1/4 to 1/3 the price of the same spices inside.  But I love the way everything is displayed! In case you're curious, we got some sumac, whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, Ottoman spice (whatever that is), and 1.5 kilos of dried apricots for me!
Olives at the Spice Market
Drying peppers and maybe some eggplant and mushrooms.  I couldn't tell.
More dried veggies and sponges!
This was my favorite mosque - Rüstem Pasa (Pasha). It was built in 1561 by Mimar Sinan for Rüstem Pasa, the son-in-law and grand vizier to the Sultan Süleyman I. The plethora of expensive Iznik tiles that decorate both the interior and exterior demonstrate how corrupt Rüstem was, managing to stash enough money to pay for such extravagances. 
Sure is pretty though! I'd love to make a quilt that looks like this.

We also saw the New Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, Little Ayasofya, Grand Bazaar, and Nuruosmaniye Mosque, and a lot of other things, including a bunch of stray cats that we fed with food bought from the animal bazaar (just outside the spice bazaar).  Oh, and we had a Turkish bath.  So weird to have someone else wash me, but 100% worth it!  We went to a place called Cemberlitas, which was built in 1584 by the primary Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.  He also built the Süleymaniye Mosque and 300+ other structures.
So, that was a bit of a slide show and history lesson, but the moral of the story is - if you get a chance to go to Turkey, DO IT!  Now I'm off to have some baklava!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why, hello!

There's been a bit of a radio silence here because I was on vacation.  Mr. T and I took an amazing trip to Turkey!  I'll post some more pictures once I get them uploaded and sorted, but for now I have a few that I took with the iPad because the fam wanted to see photos immediately. (Note: I only in did this in settings where no one could see me.  As wonderful as it is, an iPad is not a camera. I always think it's weird when people take them to museums and monuments to take photos.  I see it all the time on the National Mall and it makes me chuckle and feel slightly embarrassed for that person. Thankfully ours is a mini so it's slightly less cumbersome.

Izmir, Turkey - view from the harbor over the Aegean Sea
Goreme, Turkey - view over the town.  The shorter, pointy structures are called fairy chimneys.  They were formed when a volcano erupted a few million years ago.  The minaret in the center is a common site in turkey.  It seemed like there was a mosque on every corner.  We saw some beautiful and historic ones in Istanbul that I'll post pictures of later.
Istanbul, Turkey - view from our hotel room over the Sea of Marmara.  All those lights in the water are ships.  And in the bottom left corner you can sort of make out the arches that are part of the old wall of the city that protected it when it was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.  It was amazing to walk around Istanbul and see historical structures like this right next door to modern European buildings.
And, since this is a crafting blog, here's a hat that I finished literally minutes before leaving for the airport (the photo is actually at the airport...). I made it with the fancy yarn mom got me after my first attempt was too small.  And thank goodness I had it because it was quite cold most of our trip!


Also, here's a random photo I took in the airport when we were leaving.  I've never seen this before, but I think it's pretty neat. A friend who travels a bit said she's been seeing them pop up lately, which makes me wonder what the previous system was...


Thursday, February 7, 2013

A hat!

I made a hat last night.  It was a spur of the moment thing because I decided I needed a new hat. I used some of the fancy yarn Mom got me last year.

I really like except for one thing - it's too small!  I was hoping beyond hope that 50 yards would be enough, but it wasn't.  It just covers the top of my ears, which is too small for me.  I don't wear hats often (they don't work so well with curly hair), but when I do I prefer full ear coverage.  I'm going to try again tonight with another of the skeins Mom got me. 

On another note, I sent some cards today and was enthused about my closure method, so I thought I'd share. (Don't worry, I licked them too.  These stickers are adorable, but definitely not enough to seal an envelope).

Have a good Thursday!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lucky Stars BOM - January

Here is my January block for the Lucky Stars BOM hosted by Elizabeth of Don't Call Me Betsy.

Fabrics: Dear Stella, Denyse Schmidt for JoAnn, Kona, unsure about the yellow

Elizabeth has been having some trouble with her email delivery system, so I haven't received the February pattern yet, but I've seen some great ones popping up in the flickr group