Thursday, July 28, 2016

Celebrating a Birthday in Sicily

Hello dear readers. I'm back home in hot, southern California.  My trip home was quite uneventful (thank goodness), and all is well here.  Lilly was so happy to see me.  Our good friends came by each day and provided excellent "catsitter" service.

While my family and I were on vacation, my daughter celebrated her birthday.  We were in the port of Messina, Sicily on her special day and mother and daughter went to Azienda Trinita where we toured the botanical gardens and enjoyed an authentic Sicilian cooking lesson.

We arrived late morning at the estate and this is the church across the street from the property...

Here is one of the buildings with it's beautiful garden architecture . . .

My daughter, Heidi, on her birthday at the estate . . .

We took a tour of the gardens on the estate before the cooking lesson.  I loved this quaint pond on the property . . .

There was also a small vineyard.  The current owner of the property is an landscape architect along with being a botanist.  We picked lemon leaves off the lemon trees to use for the cooking lesson . . .

The main course consisted of meatballs wrapped in lemon leaves . . .

This is a photo of Maria who was our teacher.  She is originally from Rome .. .

The first course consisted of zucchini ribbons in a vinagrette . . .

The lemon leaves wrapped meatballs before cooking . . .

We retired to the rustic style dining room and awaited for our food.  It had such an authentic, rustic charm . . .

This property has been in the same family for eight generations.  Salvatore Bonajuto is the current family member who is in charge.  The property is not that large but it does have some separate cabins you can rent.  We met a nice couple from the Netherlands who had rented from Airbnb and they accompanied us on the garden tour.

Our cooking lesson included these five items:
     - Antipasto (zucchini ribbons with lemon vinagrette and grated parmesan)
     - Carponata (eggplant and tomato served on bread)
     - Polpettine (meatballs wrapped in lemon leaves)
     - Spaghetti Eoliani (pasta with fresh tomato sauce)
     - Torta (Apricot tart made with a buttery crust)

And, we drank a red table wine made from the estate's vineyard.  It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon together, mother and daughter, doing one of our favorite things; cooking.  When we returned to the ship, we celebrated in the evening as all of the family was present.

I hope that you dear readers are enjoying your summer holiday.  We returned home Tuesday evening and have been busy taking care of our home and garden.  My husbands tomato plants were stripped bare by some large, pesky tomato worms :(  But, the fig trees are bearing figs so that is good.  Please feel free to comment and share what has been happening in your part of the world.

With my best wishes,


Linking with: Five on Friday . . .


Thursday, July 21, 2016

In a Turkey Coup

Hello my dear friends.  It seems ages since I've written but it's only been two weeks.  It's been a busy time for me and my family since leaving on our Europe adventure on June 17th.  I've visited lots of places and have discovered some new and exciting places too.  I thought I'd share a little bit of what's been happening...

We've been in Turkey for almost three weeks.  After our ten night cruise, we stayed in Barcelona for two nights.  Getting to Turkey was a bit of a problem since our flight from Barcelona to Istanbul was cancelled; they put us on a different flight that arrived at a different airport in southern Turkey.  Luckily, my dear son had a shuttle waiting for us that whisked us off to our home in the south central coast of Turkey.  It felt so good to have finally arrived even though it was early, early morning.

We adjusted quite easily to our home since we had done so much work on furnishing it back in November.  But, this time the weather was a bit hot and humid for us.  Now, after being here for this period of time, we have gradually gotten used to it.  We leave the doors and windows open and let the sea breeze be our air conditioning.

Friday evening, July 19th, my husband had retired for the night and I was reading some article on the internet.  I couldn't get the Facebook link to load.  I didn't think much of it until I received a Viber message from my daughter telling me that Turkey is in the midst of a coup.  It was probably just before  11:00 or midnight (sorry, but my phone clock was off).  She was worried as was I a bit.  I turned on the TV and the two Turkish channels (which I couldn't have understood anyway), were off the air.  Luckily, BBC and Euronews along with RT were on and broadcasting at that time about the tragedy in Nice.  They soon switched to Turkey and what was happening.

All seemed to be quiet here in the mountains above the sea but my daughter wanted me to take some precautions like register with the State Dept., etc.  I messaged my son, whose home is next door, and he and his work colleague got in the car and went downtown where they filled the car with gas, bought tons of water, food, and went to the ATM to get some money.  My son said there were lots of Turkish people at the ATMs getting out Turkish Lira since they didn't know what was going to happen.  I stayed at home, watching the news and listening for anything out of the ordinary.  The only thing I noticed was that Facebook and You Tube were blocked along with the two Turkish TV channels.  I stayed up until around 2:30 AM and then went to sleep.

The next day, all of us read the read and followed the happenings as best we could.  My husband gained the most info from the Arabic TV channels that we receive.  This is when I found out that the US had blocked all flights flying into Turkey and flying out of Turkey to the US.  This was not good news as I felt so bad for those people who were in the midst of their travel plans to return to the US.  Luckily for us, we had a place to stay and our schedule was flexible.  It wasn't until late Monday that I received an email from the State Department saying that flights to and from the US would resume on Tuesday, July 19th.  If this flight ban would have stayed in place, we were going to fly to Kiev for a couple of days.

As of now, everything here seems normal and quiet.  The goat herder pictured above still takes her goats on their morning walk in this beautiful, nature filled area where we are.  And, the Turkish people have been so kind to us.  

It will soon be five weeks since I've left home and upon reflecting what has happened during this time period, it really saddens my heart:

1.  June 28th - 3 suicide bombers attack Attaturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 40 killed
2.  July 7th - five police officers are killed in Dallas, Texas
3.  July 14th - 84 people are killed in Nice, France
4.  July 15th - coup in Turkey, many lives lost
5.  July 17th - 3 officers killed in Baton Rouge

and the list could go on and on.  The world is such a small place right now and somehow we are all connected.  At the beginning of our trip, I enjoyed watching the international news and getting a break from our presidential race.  I found it quite fascinating to follow the Brexit happenings and see how swift a new Prime Minister was elected.  After all what has occurred, I am planning to maybe take a little break from reading or watching the news.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those in our world who have been affected by such tragedies.

On a brighter note, I'll be home in a couple of days.  I'm excited to see Lilly my cat and get back to my routine.  And, I should have a completed knitted item to share with those of you who knit.  And, lastly, I do have some fun photos to share, too.  I hope each and everyone of you are enjoying your summer.  I'd love to hear from you if you have the time.

With my best Wishes,


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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Visiting the Ancient World of Ephesus

Hello dear readers.  Sorry that I have been away for awhile.  My family and I went on a little adventure and now we're back to our routine.

We met in Athens, Greece and this time the whole family was all together.  It was my first time being in Greece and it was quite an adventure since they were in the midst of a heatwave.  On the last day, in the midst of the sun's relentless rays, we ventured to the Acropolis.  It was pretty amazing.  Although, I was a bit scared walking over the slick stone pavement as it was like walking on an ice rink.  The last night we went up on top of our apartment and sat down to enjoy this amazing view.  Sorry for the bad photo but it was the best I could manage.

My daughter stayed with her dear friend Demetria and we stayed at a Airbnb apartment we rented.  It was delightful to partake of the hospitality and delicious Greek food that Demetria and her dear family prepared for us.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law, also accompanied us on this trip. Here's a photo of the whole family.  From the left is my little grandson, my daughter, my little granddaughter, my son-in-law, me,  my husband, my son, his fiancĂ© and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

We embarked on our cruise ship in the port of Pireaus and our first stop was Kusadaci in Turkey.  We visited the ancient site of Ephesus.  This ancient city was discovered by the British architect John Turtle Wood back in the mid 1800's.  Excavations were later carried out by a German archaeologist.  

This is the Temple of Hadrian which was built sometime around 118AD to 138AD.  It is located on a street named Curetes Street which was one of the main streets in Ephesus.  

This is the ancient great theatre in Ephesus.  It began construction in the third century BC.  It has a capacity seating for 25,000 people.   It was used for concerts, plays, various discussions and also for gladiator fights.  
I think the "shining star" of Ephesus is the Library of Celsus.  It was originally built in 117AD to 125 AD to house manuscript scrolls.  The scrolls were kept in niches on the walls.  The library's capacity could hold up to 12,000 scrolls.  It was named for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, whose tomb was beneath the ground floor.

Upon entering the ancient site of Ephesus, you see this stone carving of the Goddess Nike.  Again, I was quite taken back to see how this has survived all these many centuries.

A visit to the ruins of the Basicilia of St. John was also on the agenda.  I even found original tile floors from the time when this basicila was built in the sixth century.

Above is a photo of the tomb of St. John the Apostle, the writer of the Bible's fourth gospel and the book of Relevation.

Speaking of the Bible, in the middle of this photo you can see a single column; it is what is left of the Temple of Artemis, AKA Temple of Diana.  The Apostle Paul speaks about this temple in Acts 19.  

It was a very warm day when we toured Ephesus but well worth it.  I would love to go again and see something that maybe I didn't see the first time.  It brought a smile to my face to see this lovely Ephesian cat :)

There are so many things about Ephesus that I feel I've barely scratched the surface.  But, here are a few more interesting facts:
1.  Today, Ephesus is near the present day city of Selcuk, Turkey in the Izir Province, off the coast of the Aegean Sea. 
2.  Ephesus is cited in the book of Revelation as one of the Seven Churches of Asia; book of Revelation 2. 
3.  Ephesus was the site where three ecumenical councils where held; 431AD, 449AD and 475AD.
4.  According to the oral tradition of the Orthodox church, St. John took the Virgin Mary to live with him upon Christ's crucifixion and they made their way to Ephesus, Turkey.  You will find the House of the Virgin Mary where Mary may have spent her last days there. 
5. Originally, Ephesus had a harbor on the Aegean Coastline.  The harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River.  

I've never traveled to the Holy Land and hope to one day, but the opportunity to see this ancient city was the next best thing.  I hope to go back again one day for a longer visit.

Thank you for stopping by today.  There's lots more I have to share with you another day.  I've missed hearing from you and wish you all the very best.

With my best wishes,


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