Sunday, February 26, 2012

Turkey in February

One of the neat things about living in Israel is that you are a short flight to so many interesting locations. Last weekend, we got to realize a longtime dream to visit Istanbul, Turkey. Seriously, folks, we have owned a Turkey guide book for six years!

I wouldn't necessarily recommend going to Istanbul in February because (get this) it is FREEZING COLD. But, on the bright side the prices are a cheaper and it is definitely not as crowded.

My favorite memory of Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You walk in and you are speechless, surrounded by gold and light, looking up at a ceiling that seems to float in the ether. Well, the pictures simply don't do it justice, but I will share our attempts to capture it.

The Hagia Sophia was originally built in 360 AD and it changed the history of architecture. The one we saw was the third structure to stand on that ground (built in 532 AD). It suffered from earthquakes and was converted into a Catholic church, a mosque, and now a museum.

This picture (below) is the interior of the Blue Mosque, or the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, which sits across from the Hagia Sophia. It was built in 1616 AD.

Other highlights of the trip: dinner at a tavern in Beyaglu and a cruise of the Bosphorus. Below is my husband's favorite picture from the weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skiing on Mount Hermon

This weekend, we went skiing on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights. 3,000 ft above sea level, we could still see in the distance the second lowest place on earth, the Sea of Galilee. We went on a Sunday, which is a working day here, so it was less crowded than it would have been. Much to my surprise, however, most of the people who came to the mountain purchased lift tickets simply to ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain, sit in the lodge, and then ride back down. They were dressed like they were going skiing, but without any skis.

We had a very nice time. There weren't a lot of runs, but it was pretty steep and a good workout. It was nice treat for my husband and I who love to ski/snowboard but haven't had the opportunity for a few years.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Decorating on the move

Developing your own personal decorating style can be difficult, whether you are renting or (like me) have a job that requires you to move every few years. Here are a few photos from my space, captured on my iphone, and some tips.

1. Order the Domino Guide to Decorating, which teaches you how to define your own style and execute professional looking rooms. Yes this is possible even with drexel heritage furniture. Our personal style is mod/farmhouse. As you can see, it is whimsical, but we think it works.

2. Collect pieces that say something about you. A lot of the pieces I own are from flee markets, antique stores, and auctions in Ohio; and the art is either from friends or relatives (I have the wonderful luxury of having a MIL, aunt, and great uncle who are all visual artists; an aunt who is a fab interior decorator; and a long line of antique-hunters that goes back to my great-grandmother). Life after Jerusalem recently wrote a post about Foreign Service Officers telling a story with their houses/apartments (read it here).

3. Find the cheaper alternative. Can't paint? Try a wall sticker to make a statement or large prints of your favorite artwork. Can't wallpaper? Try framing large swatches of fabric to use as wall hangings.

4. Read magazines and blogs and bookmark things you like. Your dream house/apartment will be easier to pull off if you can visualize it. Even better if you can find DIY tutorials like my friend Mandy's. If you pull of something fabulous, share it!

Any tips of your own to share? Favorite sources of inspiration? What two words describe your personal design aesthetic?