Sunday, October 30, 2011


It snowed last night, and though we refused to turn on the heat in protest of the early onset of winter and the thought of an early spike in heating costs, we did take other measurements to winterize the place--like pulling out storage bins full of scarves and mittens (I'm wearing both as I type this); putting our heated mattress pad, down comforter, and flannel sheets on the bed, and rearranging the bedroom so we'll be closer to the heater when we do cave in to the thermostat. 

We moved the bed from this side of the room...
To this side (which was seriously lacking in feng shui)...
 So that now, it looks like this...
We even found a multipurpose use for the aforementioned storage placing them at the bottom of the bed, we can set up our computer there and watch television shows and movies under the comfort of  warm blankets.  
The rearrangement also provided me with the perfect excuse to hang up my lantern from Turkey. Prettyyyyy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Along the Ipswich River

A few weeks ago, Tommie and I used a Groupon to rent kayaks from Foote Brothers Canoes and paddle a few miles up the Ipswich River. We went back to the area on Sunday to walk along the paths that wind through Bradley Palmer State Park and explore the footbridges we had recently paddled alongside.

We took Maya with us because she loves woodsy paths. She does not, however, love horses, and apparently this is a popular spot for riding. Tommie thinks her growling and barking is a "short-man complex"--that she's jealous of their long, lean legs. We tried to avoid the riding trails, but at one point had to outrun a pack of riders like we were trying to escape from the headless horseman. 
We won't be able to take these walks for much longer with winter on the way. We haven't minded the mild weather this fall, even if it's yielded unimpressive foliage for coastal Massachusetts. Soon everything will be covered in white anyway. It's important to enjoy the last few weeks before hibernation begins.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For the Love of Lanterns

In college, I had visions of covering the entire ceiling of my dorm room with lanterns. Those white cement cells were just begging for some lively pops of color and cozy accents. At the risk of being a one-woman fire hazard, I didn't cover the whole ceiling, but I always strung a few lanterns from the corners to brighten up the space. I think this is where my obsession began.
I admit, I'm easily distracted by cool lighting, which is why Tommie had to literally drag me out of the lantern shops in Turkey. I bought one--and would have bought more if I had a better way to transport them. They were really pretty with intricate glass mosaic patterns and copper-colored bases. Some day, when I'm old and completely off my rocker, my ceiling will look like this. Tommie gets scared when I say things like this because he knows I mean it.
I have a bunch of lanterns left over from our wedding as well. Our venue was a blank white space, and I knew from the onset I was going to liven the place up with lanterns. I got an awesome deal buying used turquoise lanterns on and placed bids for different sized yellow lanterns on Ebay. My parents helped put little LED lights in them so they flickered at night without needing to be plugged in.
If the innkeeper would have allowed it, I would have hung 100 more from the ceiling (I think Tommie and my parents are thankful we were capped at 40). You can never have too many lanterns if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Travel Observations

On our way home from Turkey, I made a list of quirky observations that weren't necessarily listed in our guidebooks. Here are some things we came across that we didn't necessarily expect.
* Turkish people didn't like, or did not understand, my first name: Amber. If I introduced myself, I would have to repeat it several times. One man asked if that was a popular name in America. All the hotels I checked into insisted on calling me by my middle name "Elizabeth." My theory is that Elizabeth is an acceptable and better-known English name, while Amber doesn't necessarily sound like an English-speaking woman's name.
* Turkish dinner typically starts with some kind of lentil soup and always ends with tea. They drink tea consistently throughout the day.

* Aside from "street food," the cost of meals is more expensive than you might think. Chicken and bread is affordable, while most other meals are on par with what we would pay in Boston for dinner.
* Every mosque emits the Islamic prayer from megaphones perched on the marionettes five times a day. It's part of the sensory experience of being in another country with a different dominant religion. Typically, the prayer lasts for about five minutes and we got used to it, but on the last day of Ramadan it lasted for an hour during the wee hours of morning--at least it did where we were staying that night. It got the dogs, donkeys, and roosters in a tizzy, and the pillow on my head did not drown it out.

* When it comes to driving in Turkey, it's every man for himself. They have rules, but I think they are only made for breaking.

* Public transit in Turkey is leaps and bounds ahead of us. The trams were modern and ran often--the buses too. Our train ride to Selcuk was the nicest train we've ever been on.
* Some toilets (such as the one in our hotel in Olu Deniz) could not handle toilet paper. Hotel management requests that you throw all waste tissue in the trash. Gross! Never become a cleaning lady at one of these places.

* If you are an animal-lover it's sad to see all the stray dogs and cats around. At least it's minorly encouraging to see how the dogs buddy up with other dogs and even people, like the vendors who frequent certain streets. Also, the stray cats pose and sleep in the cutest places--I think it is their ploy to get fed.
* Do not attempt to walk on the Mediterranean beach sand without flip-flops in mid-day heat. Tourists, like us, look really stupid making a mad dash to the water while screaming, "My feet are on FIRE! THEY'RE ON FIRE!"
* Cigars and cigarettes are censored on T.V. with a little flower icon. Ironic since almost everyone in Turkey smokes. 

* There is an underlying prejudice against interracial couples, even from the younger generation of Turks. We explained to one young man that it didn't bother us, and that it is becoming more acceptable in many parts of the U.S., but he told us even seeing interracial couples portrayed on American T.V. shows upset him. The funny thing is this man supports Obama, and wasn't keen on us reminding him that Obama is the child of an interracial couple.
* People stay up late. I know I have the stamina of an 85-year-old, but when I went to bed at midnight, there were still tons of families hanging out in the square below us. Hoards of young children would be playing on the playground until 1:00 a.m., maybe even later, I don't know...I was sleeping. We do commend the city for having a playground smack in the center of Ortakoy--their "rich neighborhood." That would never happen in snobby sections of America. It was nice to see families down there interacting and gave the area a strong sense of community.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Craigslist Finds: Kitchen Island

With the new kitchen gadgets Tommie and I received for our wedding this summer, we were in desperate need of more cabinet space. Our kitchen has only two functional cabinets for storing pots and plans, and we had already piled them up so that every time we needed something it was like playing a game of Jenga to pull out a pan and not cause an avalanche. 

Since we rarely eat at our dining table (pictured above), we opted to replace it with a big kitchen island. I found this beast on Craigslist for $200.
It's a solid piece of furniture that's even wired for electricity should we ever need it. I rarely spend this much on used furniture, but decided since this is not some rickety, fake wood island on wheels--and I saw some of these listed for more than $200--we were getting a good deal. The owners also threw in a large marble cutting board for us. On top of that, I sold our Ikea table and chairs on Craigslist for a profit of $75. Luckily it fit in the back of the Forester and when we got home we just gave it a good cleaning and decided to replace the old country-looking drawer pulls with more modern brushed silver hardware ($15 for six at Home Depot).
Now we have a proper place for our mixer, dutch oven, blender, and pressure cooker and a much better, counter-height surface for food prep.