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Istanbul, Turkey travels

My friend Liz asked if I was interested in a women only, guided tour of Iran. Indeed I was, so we worked out the details and got everything booked.

Iran requires a guide for US citizens and also does not allow for any stay longer than the dates of the tour. I wasn’t happy with going directly into a tightly scheduled tour from a full 25 hours of sleepless flights and airport transfers, so we planned for a four day layover in Turkey to recover.

Several weeks after booking the tour, all the posturing by the US government/president took place and travel to Iran was downgraded to a level four for safety (do not travel).

Liz and I were able to cancel the tour, extend our stay in Turkey, and tack on an additional two stays in Athens and Mykonos Greece.

Our experience in Istanbul was amazing! The first thing that struck me are the cats. So many cats everywhere. Hoards of cats.

We watched a fabulous documentary “Kedi” to better understand Turky’s relationship with cats as a community. Highly recommend!

The cats are free and belong to no one, but the entire community takes care of them: feeds them, builds shelters along the sidewalks and in parks, keeps an open tab with vets for the occasional medical need or spay/neuter.

There are also stray dogs, but not so many. When a stray dog gets fixed they get tagged in the ear to identify it has been done.

The food is so fresh and delicious. We took a food tour and sampled the breakfast, lentil soups, kebab, mezzes (small plates), Turkish delights, tea and coffee.

The tour guide had us doing shots of “hönönö” and in true Zoë fashion (awkward in a group strangers), I immediately dropped mine all over the floor.

Liz and I booked a spa day at a Hamami. The one we went to is next to a mosque, and built by a famous arcitect for mosques. I didn’t tour any mosques but the bath house felt like one.

We laid on hot marble, looking up into the dome. Cut-outs in the shape of stars, hexagons and circles let beams of sunshine pour through above us. We were washed, scrubbed, and massaged. I felt like a baby, or bourgeoisie getting a royal pampering.

One unique experience for us westoners is the call to prayer that gets sung out over loud speaker five times a day. The first one is quite early and part of it translates to “prayer is better than sleep.” ha! I actually quite liked it and will miss it.

And a few more scenes from around town.

Jason turned 49 and summer knitting and concerts

Jason turned the big 4 9. Wow! Every year is “the big…” now.

We went out for lunch and had dessert and drinks at home. Woohoo!

(Xander did not go out for the lunch, so is missing from the photo)

I have been hit with the knitting bug all summer. I finished one sweater, started a second, and have a goal to use up a stash of cotton yarn on market bags.

We’ve been to a few concerts over the summer. A very rained out Jim James concert at the zoo with Lotus and Xander. It was too much rain and we had to leave early.

Then Xander, Jason and I attended a nice and dry Dido concert. It was so good! And we were introduced to Ria Mae, the opener, who is now a new fav.

And lastly, Lotus, Jason and I attended a Takénobu concert. Cello music addiction all summer!

Long time no post

What’s up with us? We had a lazy summer and my garden sucked.

We jumped on the “whole food, plant based” diet trend, which is basically vegan but without oreos. I signed up for the meal planning service at Cleanfooddirtygirl.com for some variety and we end up eating things like this BBQ tofu hoagie thing…

We have been making a lot of bread! I’ve been making regular yeast bread forever but recently got into sourdough. Jason is managing the starter and we have both had a successful bake. So good!

First loaf, kinda flat but phenomenal taste!

This multigrain seeded bread is going to be on the regular. It tastes good and lasted the longest without mold.

Jason’s first try poofed up right away!

Oh and sourdough proofs in these special proofing baskets to hold the shape. I was so proud of my bread,,I had Jason take a photo of me with it. Haha!

Zombie Jesus Day

The kids do love their holidays.

My little Valentines

The kids woke up to their yearly Valentine’s spread. Jason and I haven’t really done anything special for a couple years, since our two nights away at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, and thinking it might be time for something soon.

Chocolate pancakes with a strawberry compote, ooh la la!

Lotus is 8

Lotus had a fun birthday! She wanted breakfast out, Topgolf, and then home for cake and family gaming. It was a cozy family day.

Lotus and I head to the beach

Lotus has been eager to go on our special trip, to make up for missing out on Europe. Well, it won’t make up for EUROPE but her current stamina is great for short trips.

After listening to her consider trip ideas for the umpteenth day in a row, I asked her if she wanted to pack up right then and there and head to the beach for a couple nights. We did just that and had a great girls-only trip.

I also got to try out my crazy sweater I recently finished knitting. It has lumpy, bumpy sleeves and got quite a few looks. Good or bad, I am not sure.

My mom trying on the sweater…

Feeding the seals…

Next, Lotus and I want to take an overnight train trip together.

Isaac turns 17

Donuts, hanging at home and then movies with his friends, Isaac had a nice birthday!

My Isaac sure was a sweet baby, and always a great son. I don’t know how I got so lucky!

Afternoon Tea in London

For our last day in London, we did a posh afternoon tea at a place called the 108 Brasserie.

The path to the restaurant is a narrow pedestrian path cut through tall buildings and lined with shops. Very nice!

Found Jason a fancy cap in this little hat shop.

Halloween 2016