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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Glimpse of Budapest via Five on Friday

Lilly thanks everyone for your kind comments in regard to her blog post last week.  It's been a busy week here with my little grandson staying with us since his parents have the flu.  But, unfortunately, he came down with the flu yesterday after school so now he's back home.  I feel so bad for all of them being ill but hopefully they will recover soon.  It's scary for my little grandson and little baby granddaughter :(

I thought I'd go down memory lane a bit and share some photos from my trip to Budapest, Hungary from 2014.  It's not been quite two years since I visited this amazing country.  Hungary always brought to mind the Gabor sisters; Zsa Zsa and Eva who were quite popular when I was young.   We had the pleasure to stay at an Airbnb apartment which was still furnished in it's mid century style.  The owner's father was a graphic artist who designed the Hungarian coat of arms.  Below is a photo of that design which was in the apartment. 

The graphic artist who designed this modern coat of arms was Piros Tibor. And, here's another pencil drawing of the design.  He originally lived in the apartment we rented and is now owned by his daughter.   

Here's another view of the interior of the apartment.  I found this ceramic tile stove quite fascinating as it is the original one that was used to heat the apartment. 

The apartment had a long, narrow balcony with quite a nice view of the city.  You can see the unique architecture and the beautiful church to the left of this photo. 

This was my first trip to Hungary.  The closest I had gotten to this area was Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2004.  This photo shows a courtyard with the building on the left housing a public market.  It was quite fascinating going inside and seeing all the fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats and dairy.  Almost all the attendants wore white outfits with matching hats.  It reminded me of a picture I had seen of soviet Russia from years ago.  The selection of food items was really quite good. 

I might add that Hungarian beer and their world famous goulash made with Hungarian paprika are delicious!

Budapest is quite a large city and encompasses a large area.  My husband found someone to chat with at opera square one afternoon.

The architecture was fascinating although some parts of the city look a bit weary and worn out.  I got a different feel from Budapest; not a happy, lively feeling.  I don't know why. To me it was a bit of a ghost feeling.  The economics of the country is another subject.

But, it is a city filled with lots of history.  Almost at every corner as seen by this special marker.

Budapest like Vienna has a rich history of coffee houses.  And, they are still alive and operating today.  I love this feeling of going back in time.

Here's a better view of the chuch across the street from where we stayed.  Do you see the hill in the background?  That is the Buda side.  We stayed on the Pest side. 

I love trains and wish we had a train culture here in America like they do in Europe.  Here's the interior of the Budapest train station.  Again, the design was amazing!

And, look at these windows from the train station!  If you recall a few months ago, Syrian refugees were stranded at this train station in Budapest trying to get across the border to go to western Europe.

I love looking at old buildings and trying to peek inside and imagine who lived there and what their life was like.  Here's another photo of the street scene across from where we stayed looking down the street from the other side. 

Budapest is a lovely city with a long history.  We left Budapest via train and went to Vienna which to me was totally different in feeling.  Although, at one time they were the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  

Here's some interesting facts:
1.  Buda is built on the hills above the Danube River and Pest is built on the flat plains.  Hence, the name Budapest.
2.  It is a city known for it's Gothic architecture.
3.  There are over 1,750,000 inhabitants in Budapest, as it is the largest city in Hungary
4.  The Hungarian language is not related to any other languages.  It is a Uralic language and is somewhat similar to Finnish and Estonian.  
5.  Hungary is home to the luxury brand Herend Porcelain factory which produced many fine objects for the aristocracy of Europe.  You can buy modern day pieces of Herend Porcelain in Budapest today.    

It's Friday again so you can find me at Amy's Five on Friday.   I always look forward to this link party as I've made so many friends.

Wherever you are, I hope you are well and safe.  Be careful out there as the flu season has started to take hold.  Until next time,

my best to you,


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lilly's Five on Friday

Meows my dear friends. It's me, Lilly, writing today's post since my Mom has been a bit busy this week.  She's been busy taking care of my little nephew, Oliver and he keeps her very busy indeed.  His parents home had a water leak in the concrete slab and the home is in a state of chaos due to repairman, plumbers, and everything else.  I feel so bad for them but things will get better.   Up in Washington state, where I'm from, we don't have water lines laid in the concrete but down here in California everything is different.  But I can't complain about California as I love the weather and the geckos. And, we've had great weather this week. 

 My Mom has never been a morning person but lately she's been getting up early for whatever reason (insomnia maybe) and she's been getting some great sunrise photos.  Here's one from this week. 

And, here's another one.  Look at the intense color of that sky.  Of course, I'm still asleep at this time of day since my feeder doesn't go off until 8:00 AM each morning!

We were watching the news the other night when they mentioned the sunset and my Mom popped out on the upstairs balcony and took this photo.  I've never seen such a pink sky before.  It was really impressive for our part of the world. I wish she would have shared some photos of the beautiful green hills we have now that we've had some rain this winter.

You might have read about my Mom's Undulating Waves Scarf. It was one of her WIPs that she finally finished.  She had been working on a simple crocheted blanket but needed a bit more brain energy so she pulled this out of the closet.  It's done (thank goodness as it bothered me too.  I sat there everything night listening to her struggle with the placement of these beads).  It's been sent off to a dear friend of my Moms.  You can read her Ravelry notes here.

My Mom loves link parties so today I'm linking up with Amy for her weekly Five on Friday. And, since I have the pleasure to write this post today, I want to send my meows to my dear furry friends:  
Ling Ling and Maggie at Beatrice Euphemie
Tilly at Writing from Scotland 
Simba at Teresa Kasner  
George at Remembering the Old Ways
Cait Sith at Land of the Big Sky
and to all my other furry friends who at this moment I can't recall their names.  I hope you are all warm and safe this winter season.

If you'd like to leave a comment, it would make be purr.  I can read pretty good now that I'm 11 years old.  I wish you a purrfect weekend!

Meows and hugs from


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Music of Life

I used to play the piano.  It seems likes ages ago but at one time, I was really quite interested in my music.  Probably when I was in second grade, I began piano lessons.  We lived in a small town in Idaho and I went once a week to the local music store for my lesson.  My Mom then changed teachers and my new teacher was from eastern Europe; I don't know from where as all I remember is her accent.

All those years, I had an old upright piano that was quite sufficient.  We moved back to my hometown of Ellensburg, Washington in 1965.  I was in 6th grade and my piano teacher was just around the block from where we lived.  My Dad found this piano for me at the college (it's now called Central Washington University), and we bought it and brought it home when I was in high school.  It's been with me every since.

A few years ago I tried to find out when it was made but didn't have any luck.  It's a Ludwig piano and from our move to California it has gotten a few nicks in it's body.

It's a shame that my piano sits all by itself in a empty living room (it's filled with furniture but no people).  So, today I went in and pulled out my old piano books.  My piano teacher, Mrs. Hertz, was a wonderful lady.  Oh, how I wish I could meet her today as I would so appreciate her love of culture and music.  She insisted that I only learn/play classical music.  I loved Chopin and I loved playing Clementi sonatinas as the fingering had to be just right to have your hands float (fly) across the keys. 

At one time in my life, my fingers could float across all those keys.  Here's what I found remaining of my favorite piece I played in high school for a piano recital; Malaguena.  I loved this piece as it featured some selections that were played quite boldly.  Now, I don't even know if I can read this music to make it sound like anything!

I had much better luck today playing this sonatina.  I remember the fun part was the fingering as I mentioned above.  I used to play these pieces over and over again in my head years ago.

Also found in my piano bench was my old piano notebook with my teacher's notes.  She wrote quite illegible, didn't she?  Do you make out the $3.00 price per weekly lesson; unheard of now days.  Mrs. Hertz lived in a stately, old two story home.  I remember her dining room with Wedgewood Queensware dinnerware.  In her conservatory/sun room where I waited for my lesson to begin, it was filled with intellectual literature to read.  No tabloid magazines allowed!  Her husband, Dr. Hertz, was the head of the music department at the college.  My teacher was a very special person who really wanted her students to excell. 

This really doesn't have anything to do with music, but I found this watercolor in my piano bench; it's been there for years and years.  It was painted by my 7th or 8th grade classmate, Ellen Sogge.  If I recall, her father was a professor at the college when he went on sabbitical to Africa and he took his family with him.   (I just goggled this and found out he went to Malawi; all those years I thought they were in Kenya).  I met Ellen when her family returned to our small town as we had classes together at Morgan Junior High.  Our English teacher was so taken with Ellen's adventures in Africa that she and her family took a trip to Kenya the next year.  The teacher was Miss Anna Shuck.  I'll never forget her as she was the type of teacher who wore black dresses and was very strict.  The odd thing I remember most vividly is the support hosiery she wore.  She would tell us how she sent the "runned" hose to Frederick & Nelson Department store in Seattle to be rewoven.  Imagine that today!  (do people even use the word hosiery?)  She lived with her sister and mother.  Neither she nor her sister were ever married.   Miss Shuck won a raffle with the local Catholic church which was a trip to Hawaii.  Instead of going to Hawaii, she used those funds for the Kenyan trip.   I often wondered what happened to Ellen.  I believe her brother graduated from Harvard and went on to marry a girl from the east coast.

Do you remember seeing those stuffed animal cats that are all curled up and sleeping?  Well, here is Lilly all curled up and sleeping today.  I love this cat so much...

I hope you have enjoyed this look back into my youth, music, hometown, long lost friends, and of course, Lilly My CatToday I'm linking to Amy's  Five on Friday party.   I'd love to hear about your week.

With  my best wishes,



Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Taste of Turkey the Country

Do you ever long to be somewhere and in your mind you visualize the setting, the sounds, the sights?  I used to do that a lot.  In my younger years, I loved to read non fiction books about far away places.  One of my favorite subjects was India.  All through those early years, the closest I got to far away lands was Egypt.  And, for many years, I kept those sights and sounds in my mind but times change and so do places.  In the old days (1970's), there was a suburb of Cairo, Maadi, where you could find beautiful tree lined streets with villas and hanging bouganvilla and plants.  But, with the need for space to accommodate people, these have steadily disappeared.  I longed to find a place where I could sit and smell the country (yes, I love the smell of Egpt), and experience a tranquil setting.  For me, I found that place in Turkey.

It was really by chance that we discovered this country.  Originally, I watched a program about Piran, Slovenia on the Adriatic Coast.  My son was home and I told him I wanted to visit Piran so we began brain storming as to how to plan a trip.  He then said why don't we visit the southern coast of Turkey.   Long story short, we ended up going to Istanbul that year and we were hooked; we didn't visit the Turkish coast until the following year.  I thought I might share some fun photos from my last visit to this amazing country.

Turkey was the Ottoman Empire for over 600  years.  It spanned far and wide and was also an important part of the old Silk Road.  Needless to say, spices in Turkey are everywhere.  Here's just a small glimpse of what is available.

 I think next to spices (or maybe before) is the love of Turkish tea.  It's served hot (really hot) and in small glasses with plenty of sugar if you wish.  I'm a big tea drinker so this lifestyle suits me fine.

I know I've shared this photo in my blog before but these are 5000 gram packages of tea.  That's over 11 pounds!  Huge bags...and that's a samovar in the bottom left.  The water is heated in the body of the samovar and a strong tea mixture is made and put in the teapot.  To make a glass of tea, you pour a little of the strong tea into your glass and dilute it with the steaming hot water.

One sunny afternoon my husband and I decided to walk down the road to the outdoor cafe for an afternoon refreshment.  It's not a restaurant in the normal sense as it offers outdoor seating and different little areas where you can sit and enjoy the nature.  We chose to sit on the roof top under this beautiful grape arbor.  Wow!  This is one of those pictures that was stored away in my mind from reading all those books long ago...it was heaven.

The hostess at this outdoor cafe asked if we wanted tea and "cigara".  I had forgotten that cigara were little spirals of baklava dough filled with cheese and fried.  They were delicious.

And, best of all the view was amazing. I could have sat there all afternoon drinking tea.

After discovering more about Turkish cuisine, I really believe they are the forerunners of this delicious cuisine that reached all over the Ottoman empire.  Here's a picture showing Turkish style pizza being made on type of a wood burning stove.  The inside is a mixture of feta cheese and herbs.

If you had read my post about our home in Turkey, you might remember that we ordered our furniture from Ikea.  I was missing one of my dining room chairs and supposedly they had shipped it to us and it was at a shipping company downtown.  My husband and I set off one afternoon to find the place but to no avail.  But, we did find a lovely little sidewalk restaurant where we had a delicious lunch.  This was the Turkish salad we ordered.  I love the way the tomatoes and cucumbers are chopped so fine.  And, of course it featured nar eksili sosu which is a thick, pomegranate syrup.  Delicious!

The entree, "Turkish breakfast" is a popular item all over Turkey.  Prices vary anyway from 15TL (Turkish lira) to 25TL per person.  Here is the vast array of dishes that was served to us one morning.  And, of course it came with a double teapot (it's shown in the far right background), with tea in the top teapot and boiling water on the bottom.  

I've collected Middle Eastern cookbooks for 40 years as I love making Egyptian food.  But, now I'm wondering if Turkey was the master chef who passed on their cuisine to these other countries.  Here's some fun facts I found out...

1.  I'm sure you seen or eaten Turkish Delight, that wonderful chewy confection that can be flavored with mint, rose water or nuts?  It was created by Haci Bekar as he was the confection chef for the Sultan back in late 1700's.  His descendants still operate this business today.

2. Turkey has some of the most delicious tasting nuts.  Did you know that 80% of the world's hazlenuts (filberts) are from Turkey?

3.  Borek is one of my favorite fast food treats.  It's a very thin dough filled either with meat, cheese of spinach and baked.  Kind of like a savory baklava.  It's funny because I ate this same thing in Croatia.  I think the Ottomans left their mark of food all over.

4.  Cig Kofte are meatless meatballs.  They are derived from what I know as Lebanese Kibbe, the raw meat variety.  But, cig kofte are vegetarian, made with bulgur wheat and spices and tomato paste. It's served on a piece of lavosh with lettuce.  It's one of my favorite new foods.  But, be careful as they like to put a spice hot sauce on the mixture.

5.  One afternoon I was walking downtown, away from the tourist area, and I came upon display of goatskins that were filled with something.  I later found out that this was tulum cheese.  Tulum is a goat milk cheese that is ripened in a goatskin.  How fabulous is that!  Next time, I'm going to buy some and taste it.

I'm going to sign off now since today my internet connection has decided to act up.  I think AT&T may have a problem today.  I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my new found favorite place and I'd love to hear from you if you have a chance.  Stay safe wherever you are!

take care,


I'm linking to the following parties - please check them out!
1.  Five on Friday ...
2.  Willy Nilly Friday 5 ... 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Rain, Flowers and Knitting

Hello my friends.  Thank you again for your votes in my survey and also welcome to my new followers.  My house is finally back to normal (if that really exists) as my Christmas decorations are all safely tucked away until November.    This week we had rain...lots of rain.  The weather kept me busy since I was on school drop off/pick up for my little grandson.  I enjoy this new responsibility since my daughter is busy with my new little granddaughter.  For years, I lived south of Seattle were gray skies and rain were a common occurance.  But here in southern California rain means a totally different thing.  We experience severe downpours here.    Due to the wildfires that have taken place the last few years, when it rains there can be extreme flooding and mudslides.  Luckily, our area is not affected by these hazards but my heart goes out to those whose homes are in these areas.

Below is a photo of the gray skies  from my home .  Those hills in the background were a beautiful shade of green early last year.  But due to the severe drought they quickly became brown.

The past two days we have had sunny skies.  Here's a photo of the beautiful morning sunrise.

But, today's sunrise was even more amazing with all those colors in the sky.  The clouds are back this afternoon and we may get a little more rain this coming week.  But, that's OK as everything is so clean and green.

As usual, I planted some paperwhites and they seem to have taken off quite well.

A couple of them are blooming.  I love seeing these flowers take shape each year.

 On a crafty note, I pulled out this beaded scarf that I think I began back in 2013.  You can see my Ravelry notes here.  (I love the way your WIPs can "hibernate zzz" on Ravelry!  Anyway, I'm hoping to get it finished this week.

My blog friend Christine who is an extremely accomplished knitter,  shared her experience knitting a beautiful Norwegian style (fair isle) sweater that featured steeking.  Her post so fascinated me that I requested this book as a Christmas gift.  I don't know if I'll ever get around to knitting such a masterpiece but I may try a few practice swatches. 

One last thing I wanted to share.  I went to the dentist on Thursday and as I'm always careful where I park my car, I chose an end parking space.  I no sooner pulled into the space when I heard the funniest sound; at first I thought it was my car engine like a squeaky fan belt (do cars still have fan belts..).  But, it was a flock of birds up in the tree next to me.  I didn't pay much attention since they immediately flew away.  Well, it was a big mistake as when I returned to my car an hour later it was a mess!  Yup, and the rain had stopped.  Needless to say, I came home and washed it off which meant I had to dry it as our water is so hard it leaves spots.  I don't know what type of birds they were.  It was such a unique chirping sound all in unison.

Enjoy your week wherever you are.  Again, I appreciate your friendship :)

My best to you,


I'm linking with with:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Five on Friday with a Recipe

Hello my dear friends.  Thank you for all your kind comments from my previous blog postings.  I know they were a little different than my usual posts.  However, it always warms my heart to hear from you.  And, sometimes I feel I need to mix it up a bit and write whatever I think about.  The holidays are over and things are getting back to normal.  We've had the first of the el nino storms this week and we really got a soaking!  But, I'm not going to complain as we really need the water here in our state.   I'm excited to be back this week and linking to Amy's fabulous  Five on Friday.

Awhile back I saw a recipe for broccoli gorgonzola cheese pie on a blog that I was reading (sorry folks, I can't remember which blog.  If it's your blog, please let me know).  But, the recipe's origin can be found here.

Note: There's two parts to the recipe; the crust and the filling.  For the bottom crust I made a single pie crust using 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all purpose flour with a little salt and 1/3 + cup shortening.  I prebaked the pie shell until it was lightly browned.

I bought a large broccoli head and cut it into smaller florets.  I put them in a dish and microwaved for about two to three minutes or until tender...

I sauteed some sliced mushrooms and leeks.  (I used frozen leeks and it was not a good idea). Use fresh leeks if you can or leave them out and substitute with something else if you wish...

I made a cream sauce to bind the filling together.  Since I stay away from dairy (cow's milk dairy), I used almond milk...oops, I forgot to add a teaspoon of dijon mustard after the sauce is done...

Before putting the filling into the prebaked pie shell I made, I scattered some goat cheese (I substituted goat cheese for the gorgonzola) in the bottom of the pie shell and then added in the broccoli mixture and sprinkled the remaining goat cheese on top...

I topped the pie with a ready made puff pastry sheet cut out to fit the pie shell.  Be careful and don't press the edges together or else the pie won't puff (this happened to me so that's why I'm letting you know :)

I baked the pie in a 365 degree oven until puff pastry was browned and puffed...

It made a nice, vegetarian dinner entree with salad served on the side...

There is a couple of things I would change next time.  I would use less goat cheese (I think I used 5 ounces) and maybe add a bit more flavoring to the mixture like soy sauce and/or dijon mustard.  This pie also tasted good the next day warmed in the microwave.

Now in order for this post to "qualify" for Five on Friday I will share these five ideas about puff pastry:

1.  Pepperidge Farm is a well known brand of puff pastry.  But, if you live next to a Persian or international grocer, you will find puff pastry in squares or sheets at a much cheaper price. Buy some and keep them in the freezer for a fast appetizer or dinner entree.

2.  For a quick appetizer, cut puff pastry into 1 1/2" squares, place how many you want on a baking sheet, put a dab of onion jam* in the middle and top with a teeny tiny piece of cheese. Bake and enjoy!

3.  Take a square of puff pastry, cut on the diagonal and fill one edge with cheese filling**.  Fold over and crimp together and sprinkle a bit of sesame on top.  Bake in a hot oven until puffed and browned.  These look beautiful piled high on a platter and served at a party.

4.  Don't throw away leftover puff pastry after cutting out the top for the pie.  Cut the odd shaped leftover pieces into smaller pieces and sprinkle a little cheese on them and bake as normal.  They make wonderful little additions to serve with the salad.

5. Ah, I forgot what I was going to write for #5 but I will say that Lilly loves to nibble the little pieces of puff pastry!  (She's a funny little kitty)...

Again, I want to thank you for all your comments and for taking time to visit my blog.  I read each and every comment.   Enjoy your weekend and if you have time, I always enjoy hearing from you wherever you may be.

with my best wishes,


* Beekman Blaak Onion Jam would work great or Fortnum and Mason's Highgrove Onion Marmalade. 

**To make an easy cheese filling, take one small potato and bake it until tender.  Remove the peel and mash in a bowl with a potato masher.  Add in about 3 ounces of feta cheese (or cheese of your choice).  Add about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs like thyme and parsley and season with a bit of black pepper.  Add in one beaten egg.  Mix mixture well and take a heaping teaspoon and place on pastry to make cheese puffs.