March 30, 2012


Back in Istanbul after a marvelous tour of the western half of Turkey. A couple more days to soak in the sights before we head home.

Yesterday, the agenda included a tour of the Topkapi Place, and it is well worth a visit. I love the idea of relics. Are things holy because they just are, or because we assign holiness to them? Some of the wonderful items on dlisplay include the rod that Moses parted the Red Sea with, the beard of the prophet, bones of St. John, etc. Fab.

I have so much to digest and process. Have been journaling through-out the trip, and I do believe that journaling helps me absorb what I am seeing, feeling, experiencing. Thank goodness - otherwise, I might just explode!

March 29, 2012


So wonderful to get the chance to explore sites that I have read about for years. The library at Efes was certainly one of the highlights of this trip.

March 28, 2012


Have I mentioned yet how much I love Turkey? Love it.

As I strolled through the magnificent Aphrodisias Archaeological Site yesterday, was thinking of my nephews and nieces. They are up on the Greek and Roman gods - thanks to the Percy Jackson books - and would have loved the Aphrodite Temple as much as I did.

March 27, 2012


Just when I think I have seen the most incredible sights in Turkey, I find one even more sublime.

Oh, the wonder that is the Pamukkale Hierapolis Ancient City. The light blue of the pools formed by the calcified water. Walking through the ancient city. Fields of red poppies. The beauty of snow capped mountains. Could have spent days exploring. So many wonders, so little time.

March 26, 2012

Marvels of Cappadocia

Loved this area of Turkey. There are wonderful hikes, and the scenery is spectacular. Thousands of years ago, people used to live in man-made caves: both under and above ground. Some still lived there until fairly recently, when forced to move to apartments by the government. Rock slides were becoming a hazard.

Pics are of the exterior of the church of El Nazar, and a view of Uchisar. Fascinating.

On the Med

Left Cappadocia yesterday. Made our way over the beautiful Taurus Mountains, and kept going South until we ran into the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.

Stopped in Konya along the way to see the Mevlana Muzesi, where Rumi is buried. Home to the whirling dervishes, this is one of the pilgrimage stops for Muslims. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many pilgrims - cannot help but be affected by such powerful emotions.

March 23, 2012

Artisans in Cappadocia

There is something magical about watching master artists at work. Will post a short video when I get home. Here is an example of their skill with ceramics.

March 22, 2012

Sensory overload

Turkey is a feast for the senses. So much to take in. Here is a pic of the fab Spice Bazaar.

March 20, 2012


I gets shivers just thinking that I am in Constantinople. I am having flashbacks to history lessons I took as a kid. and books I've read since then. Stories that come to me through the mists of time.

I am on sensory overload of every kind. I love the mosques. The call to prayer reminds me of being a kid, and home. I stumble over history at almost every step. The weather has been fabulous. The food is delicious. And oh, the dessert shops. Why are they in every corner?

Tomorrow we head to Ankara. Capital of the Ottomans. There I go getting chills up my spine again.

Happy Equinox.

March 19, 2012


Merhaba from the lovely city of Istanbul.

Am jet lagged, but so happy to be here. I love this city. It is so vibrant, and chock-full of history. There are wonderful things to gawk at everywhere you turn. We are having wonderful touring weather - sunny and high 50s.

Really needed to stretch our legs after that cramped flight, so have been doing quite a bit of walking since we arrived. Joined the sunday promenade through Gulhane Park yesterday. Strolled over to see the outside of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia. Am in awe.

Today explored the Grand and Spice Bazaars. Love the colors and the smells. Am on sensory overload already. Need to spend some time with my journal and digest my experiences so far.

Need I mention that I have already sampled the Baklava? It is sooo good.

March 17, 2012


Much needed after a 4 hour delay getting out of Boston. The plane finally shows up, and then we have a flat. Guess we will need that fixed in order to land.

Book Link

Discovered that Boston Logan has the best airport bookstore I've ever seen. A new, indie style one. If you are traveling out of terminal A, and you forget to pack a book - no worries.

Our long journey has started. Is it time for a snack yet?

March 16, 2012

One more day ...

Today is it. I gotta get it all done today. We leave for Turkey tomorrow. Stay tuned for stories from another land.

In the meantime, realize this morning that I am missing one of the bag of snacks I had bought for the trip. Well, did not loose it so much as eat it. Oops. Good thing I got extra.

I'm not a fan of TV. You know me you know that. But I do enjoy certain shows. I watch them online whenever I please. And I am a sucker for musicals. Don't get me started on The Sound of Music.... Well, happened to stumble upon SMASH and quite like it. Yes, it is really a soap opera with musical numbers I know. Umm, and just so you know, it is dangerous to snack and watch this show at the same time. They should have a warning at the beginning and every 20 minutes after. This journal spread is a sketch of two of my fave actors in the show. Pen and markers. The background was leftover inks from another project.

March 15, 2012

What I'm doing instead of packing

The good news is that I have a packing and to-do list. The bad news? I'd rather go shopping for additional snacks for the trip.

And of course had to stop in at the book store. And get a cup of tea. And relax with with a book and some magazines. While there, a "gaggle" of women arrived and settled at a table near me. I could not resist. Dug out my sketch book and a pen. One of the woman and I made eye contact. She knew exactly what I was doing. Her reaction? She sat up straighter. Love that.

I am not a total slacker. I have checked off many things on my list. I even got a hair cut today. Yes I know all about the notion that one should cut hair at least two weeks before an event or photo opp. But what the heck. That is what hats are for. Well, am off to sample some of the snacks I got for the trip - after all, I do want to make sure that they are not poisoned.

March 14, 2012

Flowers [2]

Yes, I should be packing for my trip. And checking off items on my to-do list. But I would much rather brew a hot cuppa tea and curl up with a good book. Not that I am not excited. I am. Crazily so. Turkey! Cannot wait. But I have two and a half whole days to clean and pack and do all that other stuff. In the meanwhile am immersed in the lives of fictional Turkish and Armenian families. Delish.

Here is another flower page. I love it. It is exactly my style. Sketch with words. So me. Flowers from home. I really miss Kenya at times. This was one such day. My Mom was a Biology/Chemistry teacher, and we used to have early morning and late night flower hunting trips, looking for specimens for her class practicals. Such wonderful memories.

Tried out my new Koi watercolor set. Sumptuous color. Do I pack it for my trip? Traveling light. Light and lean - that is my travel mantra. We'll see....

Recent Reads

25. The Oracle of Stamboul
I continue to be immersed in books set in Turkey in anticipation of my upcoming trip. Decided to try this book based on a reco from a BOTNS reader, and I liked it.

I'm in an audio book groove at the moment, so listened to this book on walks, and doing chores around the house. The story is set in the late 1800s Istanbul, and is about young Eleonora Cohen, a savant. I loved how precocious she is, and how well read. Her passion for books, and her brains often gets her into trouble in a world where to stick out is not a good thing. While it was a fun story, I thought that the author lacked the skill to add much depth to the characters, and ambiance of the city.

26. Frommer's Turkey
As guide books go this is a good one. Not great, but good.

27. Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!)
This is the 4th or 5th time I've read this book. I keep journals on trips. Well, travel art journals really, and I read this book before trips to remind me of some really great tips.

March 13, 2012


Less over at artjournaling has a cowboy challenge. You can read more about it here.

I do believe that I watched every cowboy movie ever produced as a kid. More than once. My Dad was a huge fan, and we kids knew no better. Was thinking about those fun memories as I played with this page.

Not having grown up here, I expected to see cowboys everywhere when I first arrived in the States. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I realized I would not be hanging with cowboys. Well, I seek them out every chance I get, and have loved the rodeos I've attended.

Cowboys. Indians. Outlaws. Swooning women. Oh my. I remember an incident when I was working with young girls in an after school program, and this little girl asked me if I was Spanish. No. I am Indian. She looked at me with a puzzled expression. "But, I thought all the Indians were dead", she said. And she was only five years old. Sigh.

Acrylics and markers.

March 12, 2012

Flowers [1]

The Sketchbook Challenge theme for this month is flowers. I realize that though I love flowers, I do not sketch them. Not really sure why. Maybe because I find it hard to capture their ethereal nature. So, here on this almost summer-like day (in early March!) is one of my flower pages from my journal. The pages get cropped on my scanner, but you get the idea.

The background paper and acrylic wash was already there. Added the flowers with ink and markers and a water brush to spread some of that marker around.

March 11, 2012

March 10, 2012

Close Ups

Realize that I had not yet posted these pages from last month. The sketchbook theme for Feb was close ups, and I immediately thought of close ups of the alphabet and butterfly wings - both of which are wonderfully abstract shapes. Ink and watercolors. I used pearlescent watercolors on the alphabet page which has a fun metallic sheen that is hard to capture with a photo.

March 9, 2012

Finding your muse

For all you creative souls out there, Alisa Burke has posted a free mini-class.
You can find it here.

Travel prep

If you know me at all, then you know that the first thing I've been working on for my upcoming trip is the list of books I'm taking along. Well, that and my snack list. I've got Turkey specific books, plus about 75 other books from my TBR list loaded onto my nookie. And I've got several audio books on my iPod. I'm taking along a small personal library, and it all fits in such little space. Love that.

Now, how to get the Chatty Cathy's to shut up? Here are some good things to consider:
The Misanthrope’s Guide to Reading While Traveling (or How to Be Left Alone)

March 8, 2012

Journaling with kids [Part 1]

I love journaling with my nieces and nephews, and do so every chance I get.

For my Dec 2011 visit with my nieces, I made simple 6x6 journals to take along. I folded 6 pages of 6x12 cheapo watercolor paper into one signature, cut wall paper for a soft cover, and stitched the whole thing together with a simple pamphlet stitch. The kids and I made time every day during my visit to play in our journals. Ink, watercolors, markers, glue sticks, collage, etc. Such fun.

Here is the journal that Bella created:

Angry Seas

So, we are expecting temps to be almost 70F in the Boston area today, which gets me thinking about sailing season. A friend send me a link to a video, and I gotta tell you, I think I got sea sick sitting on my couch. Just to be clear - I do not go out sailing in seas like this.

You can see the video here.

March 7, 2012

Recent Reads

23. Culture Shock! Turkey
New author #15. Read this one in preparation for an upcoming trip and found it interesting. These guides are not travel guides per se, they describe local customs and etiquette. So, I now know, in case it comes up to give a woman an odd number of flowers, and not to take wine as a hostess gift. See what I mean?

24. Gardens of Water
New author #16. I listened to the audio version of the book and really liked it. The story is set in the environs of Istanbul after a devastating earthquake. We follow the story of how a Kurdish family and an American one intersect, and how both are changed in ways they could not have imagined. The novel explores the tensions of holding on to traditions in a changing world, the effect of outsiders, political/ethnic tensions, the strain that growing up creates between a father and his daughter, the struggle of a girl to find her self-worth in a society that does not encourage self-expression. It is not an easy story, and I found myself shaking my head much of the time, but I liked how the story explores major themes in the particulars of these characters.

2012 reading goals:
Authors new to me = 12. YTD = 16. (Have decided that there is no need to continue tracking this one. Check and check.)
2 books by Charles Dickens. YTD = 0 (Currently reading Bleak House)

March 6, 2012

Custom Labels Tutorial

While making a new travel journal for my upcoming trip to Turkey, I decided to create labels with the names of the places I will be visiting. This is a fun and easy way to play with basic office supplies, and I thought I'd make a quick video to show how I do this.

The power of introverts

Susan Cain has a book out that is on my TBR list.
To see her TED talk on the topic click here.

March 4, 2012

Recent Movies

I love movies. Always have. But not so much the ones that Hollywood makes these days. Guess I am not in the 15-25 year old demographic they are wooing. And I know I'm an old foggie, but does anyone else miss those huge old-style movie theaters? The ones with balcony seating? Anyways here are some movies I've seen recently on a much, much tinnier screen.

1. Warrior
This is one of the better movies I have seen lately. The story of a broken, dysfunctional family, and how a father and his sons navigate the wreckage of their relationships. I would not consider this a sports movie, though much of the action centers on MMA (mixed martial arts). While I found myself cringing during the fight scenes, I loved how the movie explores physical damage versus emotional/psychological damage, and how the former heals faster and cleaner.

2. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
No. No. No. This is what I kept saying - aloud - throughout this movie. I loved, loved the book. A beautiful and heartbreaking story that the movie version made boring. Sigh.

3. Water for Elephants
I loved this book as well. Such a wonderful read. The movie was not great, but at least it was not boring. The vampire dude should stick to vampire roles - though I do not like him in those either. The star of the show other than Rosie, the elephant, is Christoph Waltz who plays the ringleader. His acting is luminous.

March 3, 2012

Paper Love

Hello. My name is Elizabeth. And I am a paperholic.

I love paper. Always have. And even though I love the ease of doing things electronically, I still collect paper. I have paper coming out the wazoo. I might even be considered a paper hoarder. I simply cannot walk past pretty paper. I put a moratorium on all new paper purchases a couple of years ago (though I do fall off the wagon now and again), and am slowly making my way through my stash.

Maybe you are like me, and find some paper simply too good to use. Umm, what are we saving it for? My mantra is: I can always get more. I can always get more. Last week I finally went through my entire stash of 9x12 cheapo watercolor paper (gasp!). I must admit to a twinge of withdrawal symptoms, but I have several pads of larger size paper still waiting for me, so it is not like I am bereft of paper. Though am wondering if I have enough for the post-apocalyptic world .... I digress.

I am currently surrounded by stacks of paper. Not hidden away, but out in the open. Why? Because we have finalized our travel plans, and heading to Turkey in a couple of weeks. I am vibrating with excitement. Remember my over-excited post? Well, have been rather excitable lately.

In preparation for the trip am making a new travel journal - so much fun to create - and have dived into my paper stash looking for candidates who want to go to Turkey with me.

Thanks for checking in. Stay tuned for further updates.