Friday, January 18, 2013

A long overdue finish - Color Clams

This is my clambake quilt based on Emily Herrick's tutorial found here. It's a great tutorial and went together pretty quickly. I made the top a while ago, like maybe a year?? I used a collection I found at JoAnns and some other fat quarters here and there. I wish I could remember the name of the collection but I'm sure its not available anymore anyway.  I think this was the probably the second non-baby quilt top I finished.

After it was done I quilted both the cream and the butterfly borders. And then for some reason I can't remember, I went ahead and put the binding on. Probably because I had it finished and ready to go.

But I couldn't decide how to quilt the main portion of the top, where the clams are. Because the binding was on and it looked like a finished quilt, my family began using it. It's a great testament to the quilting basting spray I used that the layers never came apart with all the loving it got. I made sure it never got washed and intended to finish quilting it just as soon as I came up with some amazing quilting design that my limited FMQ skills could manage.

That miraculous idea never arrived and due to some timing issues with my machine my FMQ skills have decreased and I find that most quilting I do these days is with my walking foot.  But this week I decided that it was time to get this off the UFO list!! Since we were all so used to seeing the quilt with no quilting in the center, I decided that I would just stitch in the ditch around the clams. Its not spectacular quilting but at least now I can wash it! And I kind of like that the all the great fabrics and colors of the clams aren't covered by stitching.

The butterfly border fabric is my favorite.  Its so cheerful and such a great combination of darks and brights.

The daisy backing is a fabric I bought on clearance at Hancocks when I first started to quilt.  If I remember right it was $1 per yard.  It is good fabric and if I had known what I was doing I would've bought the whole bolt. As it was I think I bought 5 yards.

Finished dimensions are 71 in by 63 in.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tarsus - Second Visit

This weekend our little church branch had a couple of distinguished visitors. The president of the Bulgaria, Sofia Mission President Wilstead and his wife came to visit our Adana Branch.  For my non-Latter Day Saint (Mormon) friends, all those young men and young women with the white shirts and ties and name tags are organized into geographical units called missions. A married couple is called to serve as the president and matron of a mission for a time period of three years. The size of a mission can vary greatly from several in one state or small country to a big one encompassing two relatively large countries. In this case, all of Bulgaria and all of Turkey are in the same mission.

At present, LDS missionaries are allowed in Turkey for three months at a time, on tourist visas. They are not allowed to actively proselyte but they can serve others and the can answer questions and teach people who seek them out and want to know about our doctrine. President Wilstead is hopeful that soon the Turkish government will allow missionaries to stay in country for longer periods and to teach more actively.

But there are two branches in Turkey, one here and one in Istanbul, and a number of other smaller groups and these fall under his leadership. Hence the visit.  As when the Bowers visited, different families volunteered to provide various meals and facilitate other parts of the visit.  We signed up for leading an excursion to Tarsus on Saturday morning.

We ran into a slight problem when the base was closed due to a planned anti-American protest in Adana but Colonel Bowen and his wife were planning on coming with us and Colonel Bowen was able to get permission for us to drive through Adana and on to Tarsus.

We stopped at Cleopatra's gate (see my previous Tarsus post for details about the gate.)
Left to right, some Turkish guy photo-bombing, Col. Mark Bowen, Me, Geoff, President and Sister Wilstead
Then we went to St. Paul's well. They were both brave enough to drink the water. Which really does taste pretty good and although I can't vouch for any healing properties, I can say that I did not get sick from the metal cup used by thousands of tourists. Maybe that is proof enough.

Then we tried to find a site that even the Bowens hadn't seen on their many trips to Tarsus - the mosque where the prophet Daniel is supposed to be buried.  There is another site in Iran that is also supposed to be the tomb of Daniel so who knows, but we wanted to try and find it.  What we found was an old looking mosque completely under construction and inaccessible. By looking through a chain link fence we could see between two ground level arches into a lower room. Perhaps this is where the tomb is located?
We're not entirely sure although we were told by a passerby that we had found the right place. Nearby we saw the old Turkish bath houses whose white dome rooms I didn't take a picture of, and another mosque. This mosque, called the Ulu Cami or Great Mosque was built in 1579. Since we had scarves for the ladies with us, we decided to go in and look around. There were only a few men inside. They were welcoming and friendly.  We saw the Imam sit at a pulpit  and begin to read from the Koran. The inside was a large long rectangle with the women's partition way down at one end. After a few minutes, we were told that a service would be starting soon and we could stay but we would need to go behind the partition.  As we had other things to see we opted to leave then so as not to disturb the service.

President and Sister Wilstead in front of the Mosque.

Just outside the mosque was a small covered bazaar. Of course we had to stop and shop a bit. I found a melted glass evil eye pendant, two great tie-dyed scarves and two woven table toppers. Sister Wilstead bought several small pouch purses for all the sister missionaries to carry their phones in.
Our last stop was the waterfall - the right one. It was great to see it in day-light and with all the rain we've had recently it was lovely.

Did you know that after conquering the known world Alexander the Great took a bath here, caught pneumonia and then died a week later in Syria? Now you do.

We had planned to eat lunch at the waterfall restaurant but the Bowens told us that the service was way to slow for our time frame. So we drove the hour + back to the base and stopped at the Turkish restaurant just inside the gate. But as luck would have it a huge group of Turkish soldiers had just ordered and we didn't have enough time to wait. So we ended up at the BX food court eating Taco Bell.  It was a bit embarrassing as we had hoped to treat them to some great Turkish food. But then again its not like they can get Taco Bell everyday there in Bulgaria! And they were very gracious about it.

Geoffrey and I were able to hear President and his wife speak at some afternoon adult training meetings and then again in Sunday Sacrament Services. In addition, they did a youth evening meeting which all of my teenagers attended. They were wonderful teachers and speakers and really brought the Spirit to our meetings. And there were a lot of fun to go sight-seeing with! I hope they are able to visit again while we are stationed here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mountain Retreat

Just a day after our castle hunting trip, we had another opportunity to do a short day jaunt. This time with a Turkish man who works here on the base with Geoffrey. His name is Orhan and he had offered to take us up to his summer palace in the mountains.

Delaney and Carson had a youth laser-tag outing that day and Brannick was still in Austria (still not jealous) so we just took the youngest two boys with us.

It was wonderful to spend the day with Orhan, who was educated as a translator and speaks perfect English. He taught us to call him Orhan Bey. Bey, or hanim for a woman, is a term attached to the first name. It indicates great respect and affection.

His summer palace was up in the mountains just above a village. It was in a gated neighborhood of about 30 homes. To our American eyes it looked more like a condo than a cabin. He was obviously very proud of it, hence the palace nomiker, and showed us every thought-out detail he had planned into its building.  He has saved most of his career, first to buy the land and then to have a house built on it. Being able to have his grandaughter and his friends visit his palace is a dream for him.

Like most residents of Adana, he and his family live in an apartment. So they don't have yards.  Having a back yard to garden in was a real treat for Orhan and he had planted 30 fruit trees in the last couple of years. There are all small now but he is going to have quite an orchard eventually.
 Here is the front of Orhan's palace. It has three bedrooms and a European bathroom upstairs. Downstairs is a living/dining room, a kitchen and a Turkish bathroom.
 This is the view from his large back patio. That and all the fruit trees. It's very beautiful.

While they were out inspecting his trees, Geoffrey noticed that one of them was slightly out of alignment with the others in the same row. So the two of them dug up the sapling and moved it.  Four inches.  Those of you who know my husband well aren't surprised by this. The boys and I stayed inside where it was warm and ate Chocolate Chex Mix.

After the fruit tree was moved we decided to drive up farther in to the mountains. We had brought a tire tube with us in hopes that the boys could sled but we didn't see any significant snow. We did see a lot of goats.
  Just after I took this picture, a man came running toward our van waving his arms at us.  We stopped and Orhan asked how we could help. It turned out that this man, a teacher, and his children had gone hiking to try and find some snow. As we were now really far above the village it was obvious that they had hiked a long time and a long way.  The younger children, who had to be 6 or 7 at the most, were exhausted and they wondered if we could give them a ride.

We had taken the mom bomb mini-van on this trip and already had five people in the seven passenger vehicle. But Evan sat on Geoffrey's lap and Rory sat on mine and we crammed six more people in the van for a very cozy drive down the mountain.  Turks don't seem to worry much about seatbelts or car capacity so we felt very Turkish and just went with it- glad to do a good deed.

After a nice dinner during which the waiter tried to convince Rory to stay and go live with him, we drove back to Adana and dropped Orhan off at his apartment.  On our way back to the autobahn we passed an ice cream shop.  Geoffrey decided that we should stop and get some Turkish treats. We each got a single scoop of ice cream and then a variety of other treats to sample.
This is like shredded wheat and pistachios soaked in honey. Yummy!

Cookies and truffles.
As usual, Geoffrey was joking with the salesclerks, who didn't understand a word he was saying but thought he was hilarious.  He does tend to resort to some interesting sign language when trying to surmount a language barrier. As we got up to leave they came over with their phones and wanted a picture of themselves with our family.  I'd love to know what caption went under that facebook post. It will possibly include the words, "Crazy Americans".

We got back fairly late, tired but happy.  I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 3:30 am before going to bed myself to grab a few hours of sleep before going to pick up Brannick from his trip!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Accidental Roman Ruins

Some of your know that my oldest son spent the December 29th through January 6th in Austria with the Club Beyond Youth program. He snowboarded and went sightseeing in Innsbruck, got kicked out of a mall for some harmless male teenage goofiness and generally had an amazing time.  And now he has an Austrian stamp in his passport.          And I wasn't jealous.           At all.    

Okay, maybe that's a complete and utter lie and I desperately wanted to be a teenager again and have that kind of opportunity. But to make ourselves feel a little better, the rest of the family took a few day trips while Brannick was gone.

On New Year's Day we drove a little over an hour away to Black Castle. Somehow we managed to not take any pictures so you'll have to use your imagination for this one. The castle was on a good sized hill which was mounded up for the express purpose of improving the view from the castle for security purposes. It is in line with several other castles, all of which can see a signal from the two adjacent castles.  We started out exploring a hole in the outer wall and following a small trail that lead around the outside of the castle. After a good bit we realized that what we were following was a game trail and not really wide enough for people to pass through the thorn bushes unscathed. But we managed to get all the way around the castle and back up inside it.  The great thing about exploring ruins like this in Turkey is that for the most part, there is no regulation and no provisions for visitor safety. You are there completely at your own risk and avoiding the gaping holes and crumbling walls is your responsibility. That makes things interesting with young children to say the least. Rory and Evan both did great and we clambered on top of walls and down into rooms and all around.

A few days later we set out to see Kiskalesi - the twin castles. One is on land and the other is out in the sea. I really wanted to take a boat out to the castle in the sea.  We were almost there when we saw some amazing ruins on the side of the road. As in Roman ruins. Pretty well preserved ones.
An Amphitheater

A stone sarcophagus with lid. There were dozens of these all along a small dirt road above the amphitheater.
This building, just below the amphitheater, was three different things over the years. First it was some sort of interior courtyard. The remains of a huge tile mosaic were excavated in several different areas.
After that, it was a Roman agora, or shopping center with various shops. Lastly, it was an early Christian church. Carson is standing in one of the two naves above.
And here is Delaney standing in the baptismal font.

There was no fee to see this place but there was a Turkish man with an official looking badge kind of hanging around.  He motioned for us to follow him and took us up above the church site and to the left of the amphitheater.  Then he lead us down a narrow stone staircase.
Me, disappearing into the earth.

The staircase without me obstructing it.

The stairs led quite a ways down into a very large room. It had high arched ceilings and stone walls on all four sides. I have no idea what it was used for and wished that our guide could have told us.
But it was a cool discovery all the same.

On the other side of that arch is another room the same size.  HUGE!
Before we left I had the kids do Roman Statue imitations because, that's just what you do when you have a perfectly good empty Roman plinth in front of you.

We did eventually make it to Kizkalesi but as it is not tourist season, there were no boats to be had. This is as close to the castle as we got. I was a little disappointed but we'll try again.
Why we both look so pained in the picture is beyond me. Its not like the sun was in our eyes or anything.
We'll go again in the summer.  The story of that castle is Grimm fairy tale material. A king was told by a fortune teller that his baby daughter would be killed by a snake bite. So he built this castle out in the sea and raised his daughter there, away from the danger of serpents. But when the daughter was a young woman she reached into a basket of fruit that had been brought over from the mainland, and was bite by a snake hiding inside. She died. The end.  (I'm sure Disney would have found a way to bring her back to life.)   Apparently the same story is told of a castle near Istanbul so it's a great story but not necessarily a true one.

With some daylight left we drove on a bit further to Silifke and checked out the HUGE castle overlooking that town. This proportions of this castle were mind-boggling and I wish we had flashlights and another hour or two to explore it all.
Here is one corner of the outside wall. The metal sign is the Turkish flag, of course. I think they must have had this for New Years, which is a big holiday over here.
One corner of the castle. Large rooms through each of those doorways.
Watching the city light up underneath us was very pretty.
So maybe it wasn't quite on the level with a week in the Austrian Alps, but it was a great little trip with my cute little family.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Word for the Year 2013

Happy New Year! Or as they say in Turkish - mutlu yilar!  That actually means happy new years, because they want all your years to be happy ones.

One of the quilting blogs that I love - Crazy Old Ladies - had a great post about choosing a word for the new year. As opposed to making a list of resolutions that will be forgotten by March, she and others are choosing one word to focus on and live by for the year.  I loved this idea and thought for a few days about what word I would choose. I liked her word - Joy, but that didn't seem right for me.

In the end, I chose Faith.  I tend to have a problem with doubting myself.  I sometimes have anxiety about my choices and how they will influence my future and that of my children.  And I think that the antidote to all that worry is an increase in faith.  Have you heard the expressions about faith and fear not existing in the same heart at the same time? And that worry is a lack of faith? Well, I'm going to put those to the test.

I want to have more faith in myself - that my efforts really are enough with the Lord's grace. That the decisions I made in the past were good, inspired ones. And that I really can handle my life and its challenges.

I want to have more faith that God has a plan for each of my children. That He can help them overcome their challenges, develop their talents and lead them into a bright future. I have often struggled with feeling overwhelming responsibility for my children and their futures that totally discounts God's role in their lives.

I want to have more faith in God's love. More faith in His ability to heal what needs healing. I want to internalize better how His grace makes up for my many imperfections. And by leaning on that, I want to be more accepting of myself, flawed as I am.

Finally, I want to do better at practicing my faith. Doing those small but significant things each day that allow me to live my religion or faith to the best of my ability. I want to show devotion through obedience and consistency.

I have a necklace that came to me in a roundabout way. It has three keys hanging on a chain. The keys say faith, hope, and charity.  On Sunday I removed the hope and charity keys and wore the necklace with only the faith key.  I am going to try to wear that necklace often this year to remind me of my resolution word.

One more thing - I am trying a new practice. Its not a resolution, just a different way of doing something I already do, keeping a journal. I saw this idea on pinterest and wanted to try it. I purchased this calendar notebook from the BX.
It has enough room on each day to write a paragraph or so. So each night before bed I write a short paragraph about the day. Its a great way to journal without the pressure of writing long thorough descriptions of events. I'll still do some longer journaling from time to time in my other journal as well. But I'm super excited about doing mini-journaling everyday.

Anybody else trying something new for the new year?