Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Istanbul not Constantinople

Warren and I squeezed in our last child-free trip for a while this spring. Suffice it to say, perfect timing. We flew to Spain, but first spent 24-hours in Istanbul.

Warren had the bright idea to just show up without hotel reservations (a prospect I had a hard time getting behind) and take the first hotel shuttle that showed up at the airport. Luckily, this worked and we got a great deal on the Wyndham we ended up staying at. So we dropped our stuff off, and headed downtown.

First stop: Topkapi Palace.

We actually didn't get to go in because about a million other tourists had the same idea we did, but at least 20 minutes before we did. Next time!

So then it was off to the royal tombs surrounding the Hagia Sophia. 

It didn't take me very long to become obsessed with: 1. medallion ceilings; and 2. tile work. All those sultans can't be wrong, right? Warren was incredibly patient as I snapped iPhone photo after iPhone photo of the detailing.

Let's also talk about the incredible woodwork and inlaid mother-of-pearl. Those Ottomans, I tell you!

We then walked next door to the Hagia Sophia itself. Unfortunately, a lot of it was covered in scaffolding as they restore it, but there was still plenty of gold leaf to be seen. It was fascinating to see Byzantine iconography juxtaposed with Quranic calligraphy. 

And Warren and I in front of the ablution fountain outside the Hagia Sophia.

Maybe my favorite part of Istanbul was the Basilica Cistern across the street from the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. This is definitely a hidden gem, but we absolutely loved it. It's an underground cistern the Byzantines built which was forgotten about after it became an Ottoman city. It's totally eery and romantic. I only have one picture because it was here that my battery died.

I tried but failed to persuade Warren to get a picture here. You know those kitschy stores they have at the beach where you can pay to take old-timey photos of yourself and your friends dressed up like you're in the Old West? They had a stall like that, except with Ottoman costumes. Absolutely ridiculous, and a total once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but Warren's pride stood between us and the greatest Christmas card ever and Warren's pride won.

We also visited the Blue Mosque, the Sultanahmet Mosque, the Spice Bazaar, and a few other mosques we found en route. I love that Istanbul is so walkable. At the end of our day, we had the ultimate feast of baklava and Turkish delight at the Grand Bazaar. To die for. 

Turkey, we'll be back.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hush Puppies, Staw Hats, & Magnolias

The weekend started out with a dairy-fueled binge at Cook-Out (adios, dairy-free lifestyle!), which almost could have been the highlight of the whole weekend, if we didn't frequent our local establishment quite so often. Ahem. After our pulled pork and oreo milkshake coma wore off, it was off to Charleston. (We may have eaten at a Cook-Out there, too. What can I say... we're addicts.)

Our first stop was the house where part of The Notebook was filmed (I wasn't a fan of the movie - anyone else out there? Anyone? - so it wasn't ringing any bells for me), but which is now crammed chock-full of antiques like elephant feet footstools, Tiffany chandeliers, and "we're not allowed to tell you who painted that for insurance reasons" paintings. The gardens were lovely.

French Huguenot church

We also walked through Battery Park, down Rainbow Row, through a bunch of historic graveyards. It happened to be the weekend of the Spoleto Festival so we got to savor gyro sandwiches for lunch on Saturday.

We made our way to the Charleston Farmer's Market, where we promptly dropped an absurd amount of money on straw hats (we rationalized it by reminding ourselves that we currently live on a beach, and are moving to the Middle East, so it's an investment, right?).

But those straw hats saved us when we took the ferry to Ft. Sumter. Don't we look like responsible consumers of sunshine here?

I'm going to miss these spur-of-the-moment road trips in a few months. Did you know that Bahrain is just four times the size of DC?

... Did I mention we're moving to Bahrain?

Sunday, May 5, 2013


1. Giving this dairy-free business another month, then I'm calling it quits. I haven't seen a noticeable difference with my skin yet, unfortunately. I think I'll try going gluten-free next, but I'll admit that I'm much more reluctant to take that plunge. Dairy-free was almost too easy - there are dairy substitutes for everything, and I do mean e v e r y t h i n g. I bought coconut flour in preparation, though. I choose to believe that coconut can make anything taste better.
2. We turned in our billet list and should hear back soon. I have to stop myself from day dreaming about living in Spain, or Italy, or Hawaii, because that's how you wind up in Mississippi, if you know what I mean :)
3. I took a gardening class last month, and I'm itching to get some garden urns and plant lots of flowers. Unfortunately, not having a porch or balcony kind of precludes that. I think when we move I'm going to have to hold out for some outdoor space. At least a window box.

I have a few projects I want to try this summer when the weather (finally) gets nice, and W and I have a few trips planned before we move. Can't wait to find out where we're headed!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Ever since I turned 23, my skin has gone haywire. You've probably noticed. Last spring, I got tested for food allergies and went through a brief phase where I cut out dairy, malt, bananas, chocolate (!), oats, and rice after the results came back with high sensitivities toward those foods. A second ENT I went to, however, told me that the test I'd been administered was highly controversial and if someone's going to tell me that it's okay to eat chocolate again, well, who am I to argue? Needless to say, I started eating all those foods again. 

Then I read this blog post and shoot, I think I'm going to try to cut out dairy and chocolate again. (I'll probably hold off on washing my face in coconut oil.) But of course this will have to wait until after the holidays, because self-control is one thing, and self-loathing is another :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

On Friday, Warren got promoted to lieutenant and I had the honor of pinning him. To celebrate, we went out to lunch with a few of his coworkers at our favorite sandwich shop... and continued the eating-out spree all weekend.

Congrats, W!