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 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.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Merry Christmas Dear Friends and Family

I just want to wish my dear friends and family who are Eastern Orthodox or Coptic Orthodox and are celebrating Christmas on the old calendar (Julian), a very Merry Christmas.  Tonight, January 6, 2016, is Christmas Eve and tomorrow, January 7, 2016, will be Christmas or the Feast of the Nativity.


With my best wishes for a joyous Feast,


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Please Take a Moment to Vote ABOVE!

As we're all getting a fresh start into 2016, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy this little community of fellow bloggers.

Your comments and insight mean so much to me!

And I want to make sure my blog is a place you enjoy visiting...If you'd please take a moment to vote (above) for your top 2 subjects of what you would enjoy reading about on Lilly My Cat, I would appreciate it!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Hello my friends.  It's the start of a new year and for lots of people that means changes and new beginnings.  If you're a long time reader of my blog, you know that I love my crochet hooks and knitting needles.  But, like all of you, reality comes first and for me that means taking care of my business responsibilities.  I thought I would share some of my insights about the following.  I'm not professing to be any type of expert and the following are just my thoughts...

Property can be a great asset if it is purchased under favorable conditions.  The real estate bubble that burst a few years ago was a wake up call for sure.  Investing in real estate should not be thought of as a get rich fast transaction.  Maybe you are looking to purchase a home but do not want to finance or qualify to obtain a bank loan.  You might want to look at buying a home on a real estate contract directly from the sellerYou will still need a down payment but that can be negotiated with the seller.  There will be closing costs that need to be paid by both the buyer and the seller.   

Here's a scenario:  you are renting a home and the landlord offers to sell you the home on a real estate contract.  You currently pay $1,650/month in rent.  The purchase price will be $295,000 at 5% interest over 30 years with $10,000 down payment.  That means your monthly payment for interest and principal would be approximately $1,530.00/month; less than your current rent.  But, you will also be required to pay the property taxes and insurance on the property which will add approximately $500/month for a total of $2,130.00.  But wait, the mortgage interest you pay and the property taxes you pay are deductible on Schedule A of your annual Federal Tax Return which will save you money on your taxes since these amounts are deducted from your adjusted gross income. And, you will be a homeowner and building equity each month with every payment you make. 

Frequently I read where someone wants to pay off their mortgage.  This is a great idea but there are other options.  If you have a low interest rate on your mortgage, take advantage of that cheap money and use any additional funds you may have to invest in additional property.  Here's a scenario:  You have a job which enables you to pay your bills and your mortgage.  You have extra money that you can save to make a down payment on an investment property.  You rent out the investment property and the rent from that property makes the mortgage payment on that property.  You now have an asset that is making you money and at the same time you are gaining equity in the property.  Just be careful when it comes time to pick that investment property.  Remember, location, location, location and beware of high HOA (home owners association fees) as this can take a bite into your profit.  And, I would recommend you stay away from "adjustable rate mortgages" as you are exposing yourself to a lot of liability if you go this route. 

I wish I lived in the center of a big, bustling city as I love public transportation.  But, as I've only lived in small, isolated towns or in big suburbs, a car has always been a necessity.  Sometimes as vehicles age, the costs of keeping them running can be very costly.  I love the idea of buying a new vehicle at 0% interest or even 1.50%. There are some great deals out there to be had.  And, you might also want to look at leasing a car.  It's going to depend on what type of vehicle you are looking for as to whether it is financially a good idea.

There are plenty of bargains to be had out there.  As I mentioned before in my blog, TJ MAXX is probably my favorite store.  You can find many name brand items such as Calvin Klein, DKNY, Ralph Lauren and many more.  And, if you're into gourmet bakeware/cookware you can find Emile Henry and Mauviel copper ware, too.  My local Ross gets name brand clothing and when I shop on Tuesday, I get a 10% off discount for being over 55 years of age.  Just remember that you'll never know what you will find at these stores so you may need to shop there often to see if you can find what you need.  Online you can find bargains, too.  My daughter loves Tory Burch and Kate Spade.  If you sign up on their websites, when they have a sale, it can be quite reasonable.  I always buy my items at a discount or on sale and I hate to pay shipping! 

Growing up my parents were not big fans of life insurance or other types in investment.  After my mother passed away, my father invested in short term nursing home policy.  Unfortunately, he did have to use this policy as he was in a nursing facility his last year.  And, this policy paid out as promised.  At that time, both my husband and myself purchased a policy for long term care.  Back in 2003, the costs of my father's care was over $5,000 month.  This can easily eat up a persons savings very fast.  If I continue to pay the annual premium for the policy we have for the next 20 years, it still will be less than the cost of one year in a nursing home without any insurance.

From the time when I was in junior high (now called Middle School), I dreamed of traveling.  That was in the mid 60's and I think it would have been the perfect time to discover the world.  Lots of people have hobbies which they are passionate about; our family likes to travel.  I think I'm the guilty one who led them down this path :)  The world is such a small place today that it's quite easy to get from point A to point B.  You might say you will never go on a cruise but  there are bargains to be had on cruise lines especially during the month of January.  And, if you live near a port city then you have it made as you don't need to purchase any air fare!  A couple of pointers for cruising; it's great for a families since everyone has their room and all the food they desire.  If you enjoy wine, most cruise lines allows you to bring on board a bottle or two.  You can enjoy all the ships amenities onboard for very little or no cost. But, be careful booking expensive excursions onboard.  It can easily eat up a budget.  My daughter is an expert on port excursions and she does this for us at very little cost.   If cruising is not for you, then have you thought about Airbnb?  It's a website where you can book lodging all over the world.  It's usually someone's home that they are renting out.  We've used this service many times, always with great results.  And, it's much cheaper than staying at a hotel.

I'd love to hear from you if you have any comments or questions.  I promise I'll get back to posting about my crafts.  There's a project I completed for Christmas and I'm excited to share the results with you.  And, I hope your New Year is off to a great start.  It is here at Lilly My Cat :)

My best to everyone,