Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm usually not that into crime fiction but...

"I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don’t like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I’m a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life."

This is Philip Marlowe. The Big Sleepwas the first in the Philip Marlowe series by Raymond Chandler who began writing his published novels during the depression.

Ian Rankin wrote the introduction and says that it is one of the best crime novels he has ever read and that it "opens with my favourite paragraph in all crime fiction and doesn't let up until a wonderfully written coda."

He also observes that Chandler is the "king of the one-liner." My favourite line so far is "Her eyes narrowed until they were a faint greenish glitter, like a forest pool far back in the shadow of trees." But I also love the one Rankin picked out: "He wore a blue uniform coat that fitted him the way a stall fits a horse."

I often pick books based on their cover (I know, probably not the best way but it seems to work for me) and I love this one! The cover artwork is by Steve Marking and seems to be styled after the design legend Saul Bass. Saul Bass did lots of film title design (think Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' and Scorsese's 'Casino', among many others). There is a great article on Bass over at the design museum. Don't you just love his work? I do.

Monday, July 28, 2008

We are all fine

Just a quick post to let you know that Senol, Yashar and I are all fine. The bomb that went off was on the Asian side of Istanbul (we are living on the European side) and it wasn't near Senol's family either. The scenes on the news look horrific and my heart goes out to all the injured and the friends and family of the people that died.

**edit: Sorry, the bomb actually went off on the European side, but a long way away from where we are living. Thanks for the correction!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

4 Mevsim

I love this bed linen from 4 Mevsim (meaning 4 seasons). The website says that the design used symbolises 'manhood, power and royalty'. I just think it looks pretty! They also stock gorgeous natural soaps and beautiful linen, cotton and silk pestamel (the towels used in Hamams). They have a few shops here in Istanbul, but you can also buy online - yay!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Feed me! Feed me!

I couldn't decide on just one photo so I picked a few action shots. I can't believe how quickly he is growing! He's starting to change from a baby into a little boy! Anyone have any good recipes to try out on him? (and Emily I don't mean feeding him a lemon wedge!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nonna Rosa's Lendichia

We had some fantastic house guests recently. They were great company, kept Yashar entertained and made us all a yummy dinner! Even Yashar enjoyed it.
This is a lentil stew type dish that would normally be served with pasta through it. We had the left overs with fresh bread, yogurt and fresh tomatoes. Delicious!

I hope they don't mind me giving the family recipe away. Here is Nonna Rosa's Lendichia:

200 grams lentils
1 large onion (coarsely chopped)
2 carrots
2 capsicums
2 ripe tomatoes
2 sticks of celery

Soak lentils for 1 - 2 hours
Heat olive oil in a medium pot and sweat onion until soft.
Dice tomato and add to pot and cook for approximately 15 minutes (until soft).
Dice all other vegetables and add to pot. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain lentils and add to vegetable mixture.
Add water to pot to just cover mixture. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

My contribution was this yummy drink. Just frozen guava juice, some mint and a splash of vodka. A perfect summer evening!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How to bankrupt an empire

This palace almost bankrupted the Ottoman sultans when it was built in 1853 and when you go there you can see why. Dolmabahce Palace was truly amazing. The scale of the palace was incredible and impossible to capture in photographs...well at least in my photographs.

Instead I tried to capture more of the detail. This was also hard as the palace was quite dark and you were ushered through the 110,000 square metres quickly. This photo to the right is a sink!

The fabrics were rich and sumptuous with beautifully detailed floral patterns. You could easily spend hours here.

The grounds are gorgeous, with well maintained gardens full of huge old magnolia trees in bloom, all right next to the Bosphorus waterfront.

The photo to the right is not the palace - it's just one of the gates! And below that is the head maid's room.

The real highlight though was the drive there! Well maybe not highlight, maybe excitement is a better description, or even better 'the drive that scared the pants off me!'

I was happily driving along, secretly impressed with my progress in driving in the crowded Istanbul streets. We took a few turns into the back streets to try to find a car park. Sure, I can handle this, I thought. The roads were a little steep, but fine, so we continued along. Until some how we ended up in the steepest, narrowest cobbled streets I have seriously ever seen. I truly thought the car was not going to make it up! My stomach was jumping, it was about a 70 degree incline! The car's engine was about to cut out, and half way up the 'cliff face' was a street going off to the right. Should I turn or continue up? No time for do I get out of here?!!!

We decided to turn and just as we started to go down another very steep little street we spied a guy hanging out of a window so stopped (with difficulty - the handbrake wouldn't hold) and asked him. He motioned that we should back up and continue on the other steep street. Aghhhh!

With a lot of difficulty and encouragement from the passengers, I attempted a reverse handbrake start (with the handbrake not holding!) and along came another car in front, flashing and beeping their horn. Give me a break!

With a lot of burnt rubber, a worn clutch and plenty of cheers from the others in the car I made it back onto the other road. Then we got some sweet revenge - the tooting car couldn't even make it up the hill! We all laughed (mostly from relief) and little Yashar even had a chuckle.

I was pretty much ready to fall over and be carried to hospital after that! Mum, I hope you are not reading this! But if you are, we are fine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Yashar loves to have the wind blowing through his hair and the ferry trip over to the Asian side of Istanbul was the perfect opportunity. Although instead of a nice light summery breeze there were strong winds trying to blow you overboard! But the intrepid little traveller braved the winds with a smile. We hurried back into the shelter of the car straight after this!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Antalya was gorgeous.

Colourful and bright.


The old part of town was beautiful to stroll through in the early evening.

It was full of natural beauty.

Blue waters.

First swims!

A perfect way to end the visit from my sister and her family. It couldn't have been better.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A liquid lunch

Ok, so I have talked about smoothies before and, you know, it is such an important and potentially life changing topic that I thought it was important for me to discuss this issue again.

I saw this post over at Soule Mama about strawberry smoothies so quickly rang Senol to tell him to get some ice cream on his way home. We already had a huge punnet of raspberries so I thought 'perfect - this could be lunch!'

I like my smoothies super thick so for these I used about a cup of ice cream, a cup of raspberries and a teaspoon of honey, blended them and then I put a few more raspberries on top.

Man they were good, sitting out on the balcony, eating them (they were very thick - so guess more like a dessert than a smoothie), feet in the sun, head under the umbrella. What could be better? ...well...maybe a little vodka could be added to the mix.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I thought I would take a short break from all my sightseeing news to show you the toy bag I just finished.

You might remember that I was working on this a long time ago. Well, in my highly motivated state this week I finally got it finished!

I am pretty happy with how it turned out and am looking forward to using it for visits to 'Baba-Anne's' (Grandma's) and when we catch up with friends and having it filled up with plenty of entertainment for Yashar.

The fabric I used is made by Cosmo Textiles. They have quite a few cute fabric designs, but the site is mostly in Japanese so a little hard to navigate.

I also lined the bag with some cute blue patterned vintage fabric and used some interfacing in between the pieces of fabric so that it was nice and thick and sturdy.

Anyway, it took a while but the timing turned out to be just right for summer with that big dripping

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The bird house

Imagine getting this design brief:
Design me a house for resting and guests, two floors, located in gorgeous garden surrounds, overlooking the Bosporus - oh - and make it look like a bird house.

Sarı Köşk was designed in the 1870's by the Ottoman architect Serkiş Balyan with this concept in mind after receiving this 'interesting' request from the owner at the time, General Khedive Ismail.

Painted yellow for the same reason, Sarı Köşk is now open to the public and has a huge buffet style breakfast, including delicious Turkish pastries and amazing looking sheets of honeycomb, with the honey dripping off ready for your toast! It is owned by the Istanbul council which has a policy of making Istanbul's parks and historical buildings open to the public at reasonable prices. Excellent.

Sarı Köşk is in Emirgan Park, a huge park with forest areas, water fountains, playgrounds and masses and masses of flowers.

We had a gorgeous morning there with my sister and her family, filling up on pastries and cherry juice and then walking it off through the cool forest and parkland. I love going to huge parks like this when the weather is hot. All those shady trees, lush grass and the fountains really do make it so much cooler. Sure, you could go to an air-conditioned shopping mall to get out of the heat, but this is so much more fun and leaves you feeling all good inside!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Entering the Harem

Cimill, a 'Keeper of the Harem' at Topkapi Palace Museum sums it up well:

"As visitors enter the door of Topkapi Palace Harem their sense of anticipation is tangible. Even today they envisage the possibility of meeting an odalisque, her long skirt trailing on the ground as she walks. The word harem originates from the Arabic harîm, comprising the concepts of secrecy, inviolability and sacrosanctness that pervade the very walls of this place and marked life here over the centuries that it was a closed book to strangers."

The Harem is intriguing. It suggests the hidden, the secluded and the sensual. But also myth and misunderstanding. The Harem refers generally to the private quarters the Sultan himself, princes and of the women of the palace including the wives of the Sultan, his mother, his children, many other female relatives, maidservants, slaves and also to the eunuchs.

Visitors are asked to remain quiet, preserving the sacrosanct atmosphere. I felt like a voyeur, sneaking down forbidden passageways, peeking around corners and through windows. If there had been curtains I would have wanted to hide behind them and watch the secret life of the Royal Court.

Instead there were helpful guards, ropes, signs and other tourists taking snapshots. I suppose some things are best left to the imagination.