Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rubies: Gathering the Moments

The month of rubies flew by.  I know July's birthstone is a ruby because it's my birth month.
But I didn't realize it's the most valuable gem, and represents love, health and wisdom. 
Hmmm . . .
July flew by, as all months seem to do. Since we were on three continents this month 
(though that's debatable since Istanbul is in both Asia and Europe), 
we spent some time recovering from jet lag.
Highlights included: our last day in Istanbul and then a few days in Munich;
grateful to be back in the USA for Independence Day; witnessing Little One's first
tubing experience; a rather unique book club with the author at a peach stand;
a quick day at the beach; all the while enjoying exceptionally gorgeous crepe myrtles; 
a craft day with Little One, and loving our garden produce. 
And grateful for it all.

Now I wish August could/might/would be slower! 
Connecting to Mosaic Monday for the last time   Thank you Mary.

Monday, July 28, 2014

a boat on a boat

My sister is coming and I'm cleaning the kitchen. Actually I'm past needing a sparkling clean house when guests arrive. I like tidy, but I'm learning to let things be as they are a bit more.

I do appreciate an impetus to get something badly needed done. And the occasion of her visit was just what was needed to give me a nudge into my kitchen.

A little dust had collected on our beautiful cut glass "banana boat." I carefully washed it and dried it to a beautiful shiny gleam
And at that moment I felt close to a woman I could never
 have known, my great-great grandmother. I got to
thinking about it being in her hands as she wrapped and packed
 it somewhere--a trunk possibly--for their voyage to America.
A recent widow, and not unfamiliar with tragedy 
(their family business, a large factory, had succumbed
to a fire and they lost everything before her husband died.)
I wonder what made them come to the new world--
125 years ago now--a lone widow with her 
two  teen-age daughters.
I also wonder what made her choose this piece to bring. 
Did it hold special meaning for her? It's still in perfect
condition, and it surely holds special meaning for me. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

to market, to market

Five hundred and fifty-three years old? That is one of the oldest places I've been 
in--anything older was also on our trip to Istanbul. 
The Grand Bazaar, inside the walled part of Istanbul 
was just amazing--and busy and hot--and easy to get lost in. 
The Gardener was ready to sit down and have a coke. But I knew if I was going to shop 
it would have to be now. Our guide gave us very little time as we had colleagues to 
get to the airport. She gave us tiny maps of the maze of corridors, 
all looking the same, and pointed to the fountain where we would meet in 40 minutes.
We all split up and I sped off, totally bewildered. I could not even see the
 tiny map to follow it;  I didn't find much for little girls and nothing for little
boys . . . all the while the gorgeous scarves and pottery kept calling me. 
I seemed to have lost my skill in bargaining, and not knowing the language 
never helps. Crowds, pushing, noise, while all the time sweat running
down my back and feeling thirsty, yet wishing for a WC … I pushed forward,
 keeping an eye on my watch and wondering what I'd do if I got lost (no cell phones here). 
I did buy a scarf, and some small dolls and then rushed to 
find my way back to the fountain. I had memorized some landmarks near it.
I was so glad to see the familiar-looking fountain. But no one I knew was there,
and then I realized the landmarks were also not there. More than one fountain?
Of course that made sense. Mild panic set in as I set off again, breathing a prayer
and trying to use some innate sense of direction.
And I found "our" fountain, and our friends, and my Gardener.
And I was so grateful to have experienced the amazing Grand Bazaar.
Joining Mosaic Monday

Monday, July 21, 2014

over tea

Even on a summer day I love a good cup of hot tea in the afternoon. And I still haven't learned to make a decent glass of southern tea. In spite of the "northern invasion" down here, if you ask for tea in a small town "local" you will get a tall glass of sweet tea. In the city, though,  they may now ask if you mean sweet, unsweetened, or hot.

But since it is too hot to chat over the fence I'd suggest a cup of tea inside, and a catch up on bits and pieces such as:

I am enjoying the bonus of our hot summers: the crepe myrtles. They seem to be blooming better than I ever remember before. The colors are deep and it is always a wonder to me how they stand so straight and tall, absorbing all that heat and looking so wonderful . . .
. . . except after a torrent of rain such as we had today. Now they are dipping to such an 
extent that the Gardener is concerned. He even took his umbrella, went under and gently 
shook water off some of the boughs. (I also love our pink sidewalks!)
My favorite summer fruit: cantaloupe, blue berries and strawberries. 
So good and so good lookin'.
Another favorite fruit: our abundant and luscious tomatoes. The 
Gardener has done an exceptional job with them this summer.
And he finally agreed to grow zucchini so I've been working on new recipes. 
But our frig drawer is full as I can't quite keep up with them. 
And who wants to see someone coming towards them with an armload of zucchinis?
Except for this one. It was an armload of one zucchini. It was hiding in the garden.
 We took it to the kids and I wonder how they used it.
 I seem to be doing all the talking so here's the last thing. Little One came for the day last week 
and we had fun doing lots of projects including making cottage cheese. In fact,
we were both quite exhausted at the end of the day.
One thing we did was to sew a simple skirt for her. But first we went to a 
fabric shop so she could pick out fabric and choose matching thread.
I didn't even think about the possibility of there being  P r i n c e s s   fabric for sale.
I admire her ability to make a decision and stand firm on it.
And it never occurred to me she would want a maxi! 
Good thing cutting it to length was the last thing we did!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

miss muffet

Home made cottage cheese. Have you ever tried it? It's a cut above store bought. When we lived in Africa I made it fairly often as we couldn't buy any there.  I was thinking about it recently … and how we made it in later years with homeschool kids as a "science experiment." Since not-so-Little One was over the other day, we decided to give it a whirl. After it was finished, we used the cheese in some open-faced broiled sandwiches and the Gardener remarked right away how he detected an improvement in flavor.

When the kids were little we went to a cheese factory and saw that the process is quite similar to making cottage cheese at home, just on a larger scale. It's interesting to read food labels and see how many (processed, of course) foods contain whey.

To make the cheese, simply: bring 1/2 gallon 2% milk just to a boil over medium heat, stirring slowly. Remove from heat immediately and stir in 1/2 cup vinegar. Here comes the most fun part: watch the curds separate from the whey while you sing "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey." You may get the question "Why would a spider sit down next to a little girl?"

Let rest with lid on pan for 10 minutes and then pour into colander lined with cheese cloth or a thin tea towel. Put the colander in a bowl if you want to reserve the whey for other cooking. Drain for 20-30 minutes and then remove from towel and place in a bowl. Add a little salt to taste or other seasonings and stir in small amount of milk if desired (to make it more like store bought.) I figured the cost is about the same as buying it already made. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

the peach stand

It all started when Nancy chose to stay at a guest house or b and b rather than a hotel. In 
the charming, antiqued-filled guest room where she stayed, there was a trading book shelf. 
"Help yourself to a book and leave one of yours for someone else." 
A particular book caught Nancy's fancy, connecting with her southern roots. Though 
she had no book to leave in its place, she asked her gracious hostess 
if she could just have the book, a book called Clover, written by Dori Sanders. 
Already in Nancy's mind an idea was spinning. Maybe her book club could read the book 
and visit the very peach stand the book centers on.
And that is just what we did. Clover is a young girl of ten, being raised by a single dad. 
The day he marries a white woman, he is tragically killed in a car "wreck" 
(as they say in the south) and the white lady becomes Clover's stepmother. 
And then we learn about the adjustment that young Clover goes through, 
along with other rich tidbits about life.
So on a hot summer morning we had a "field trip" kind of book club meeting, and drove
 south an hour to a town also called Clover. Just outside the town, the author works the 
fruit stand on her farm. We hung out with Dori, bought her peaches, and then settled down to talk in 
assorted chairs she had gathered from around the farm. We marveled as she chatted 
about her life as an author and told stories, all while greeting customers who came 
by as if they were old friends (which they probably were.) 

The author has also written two other books, one being a southern cook book. Nancy treated us to a peach muffin recipe from the book, along with southern tea.

After our time with Dori, we drove into Clover and enjoyed lunch at the "local."

An unusual but memorable book club meeting!
peach photo by N.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Looking Up

After we took off our shoes, put them in a provided plastic bag and covered my head, we entered the Blue Mosque, well known for being one of the finest examples of Istanbul's Imperial Ottoman mosques. Built between 1603 and 1617, it's magnificent cascade of domes draws you to look up (click on photo for better view.) The blue tiles (more visible in second photo) are the reason for it's name, and indeed I so enjoyed all the blue. It is amazing to think of such a thing built by hand so many years ago.
Six minarets are part of the mosque.
Yes, I was there. 

Friday, July 11, 2014


I did not have time to work on this photo challenge other than to look through
my photos. These all happen to be with my phone camera and tweaked 
a bit in PicMonkey or iPhoto. This young friend was perched on top of
a playground slide. He's already a great thinker,  and I can't wait to see
what he's going to be in this world when he's older.
This photo is untouched and is of my date for a milkshake yesterday.
His baby sister a few days earlier in her colorful life jacket and sunhat.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Lagging Behind

"All experience is an arch to build upon."
 ~Henry Brooks Adam
"I'm coming, I'm coming," I would frequently call out as the Gardener and 
the others we were with would look back to find me. I do lag behind when we 
are touring somewhere because little scenes, potential photos, call out to me, 
compelling me to stop and quickly grab a photo. 
I can't help myself.
I am drawn to arches, windows, flowers, bicycles … and more!
These posted here were all in the center of Munich, on a rainy day. 
Buildings soold they could tell many stories. And all filled with arches.
The Gardener recognized this immediately as where Hitler 
gave a speech or two or three in the city square.

And, a coffee house, Cafe Tambosi, where Mozart hung out.
That was awhile ago! It's Munich's oldest coffee house.

Monday, July 07, 2014

breakfast away from home

 Every day for the two weeks we were on the other side (almost) of the world, we were served cucumbers at breakfast. That's both in Turkey and Germany. This photo is the Turkey breakfast, which always included a variety of cheese with tomatoes, egg, olives and some sort of just baked bread. And watermelon at all three meals each day. Even better than the breakfast, was the al fresco dining overlooking the Marmara Sea, a part of the Mediterranean.
We were very busy with the meetings the Gardener was there for so did not see as much
as we would like, but it was an amazing experience none the less.
I kept asking myself what the country of Turkey reminded me of. Europe? Asia? 
(Istanbul happens to be a city in both continents!) There were mosques everywhere, and the 
call of the minarets in the distance and close by. I finally decided I should stop thinking
 about it and accept it as Turkey, certainly like no where I have been before!
I find myself quite exhausted after this trip, 
and ever so slowly beginning to catch up on things.

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