Winter White: Hot Choclate & Cashmere

It's snowing in Istanbul. And as we enter the weekend the city has hidden under a white blanket.
I on the hand have twinkling Christmas lights, hot choclate, cashmere throws and a good book on my mind.

Here's to the weekend.

A great book "My Berlin Kitchen"

Twinkle twinkle little star...

And hot choclate ....


Crete: The Descendants

I know its almost winter when I write this entry. And I know some may have say that I had completely forgotten about my blog in the last 9 months. The truth of the matter is I didn't, I just put it to rest. But this is not our topic now.
Crete is.

Crete is an island like a turtle. It doesn't let time get to it. It sets its own pace of life.
We went to the island this summer for a wedding and had an overwhelming experience in just 72 hours. I had always been keen to go, my grandmother's family is originally from there and for some reason at some point your life you begin to want to understand what it was all about.

Us heading to Crete.

I was overwhelmed by the hospitality, the familiarity of the smells and relations.
One product that is a part of our kitchen ever since my dear friends Christina & Thaleia introduced to me in my university years is "Dakos". It is dried barley rusk bread.In Greece it is used to make bruscetta like mezes etc.
At home, I love to make it a part of the salad as it soaks up the tomato and salad dressing of olive oil,salt, lemon juice and pomengranate syrup and makes an amazing composition.

Here is my recommendation:
Salad ingredients: All to be mixed up.
2-3 tomatoes (peeled and diced)
2-3 cucumbers (peeled and diced)
1 red onion (peeled and diced)
2 slices of white cheese of your preference
2 dakos'
some olives
a sprinkle of  fresh oregano,parsley, salt

For the dressing: Place all of these in an empty bottle and mix up.
Juice of 2 lemons
3 table spoons of olive oil
1 table spoon of pomengranate juice

Ta taaa....(well it looks something like this :) )

You will need a car or scooter, something with wheels to get across the island which is suprisingly more about the mountains than the sea- or at least that was my impression. We visited Crete with a 1,5 year old restless boy so my recommendations will also be more child friendly.

Sightseeing recommendations:
Beaches :
  • Elafonisi... a very nice beach.
  • Vai beach, near the ancient town of Hamos .
  • The deserted island of Spinalonga. Which is located very close to the town of Agios Nikolaos is a name you may remember from Victoria Hislop's novel "The Island". It is the island where the leper treatment was done. These days however it is a nice location to swin, just across from Spinalonga there are nice many swimming spots on Elounda.
  • Streets of Chania

    Streets of Chania

  • Iraklio to drink Greek coffee for hours and watch people go by like a true Aegean person.

Morosini Fountain at Iraklion.

Archeology& Historical sites:
  • Knossos
  • Church of Agios Nikolaos. Very nice frescoes.
Let me add that there many many more, but these are the only ones I have recognized.Open to all additions and recommendations!

  • First up "bougatsa" at Kipkop. Very nice. This fluffy pastry is filled with cream like goat cheese and reaches perfection with subtle sprinkle of cinnamon!
  • Thalassino Ayeri at Chania (Vivlaki 35, Halepa) is a local seafood taverna spot highly recommended by the NY Times post on Crete.
  • As is I strenatou Bloumosifis at Vamos.
  • For ice cream Yiannarakis at Iraklion is recommended.
  • Spinalonga, where Kyra-Maria the cook will tell you tales of the island
  • At Chania, Pigadi tou Tourkou- aubergine balls are a classic dish, across the street Vineria is supposed to have the best pannacotta in town.For afternoon coffee (of course!)  Palace Hotel is recommended.

Rustic treats:
  • Pefki village. In all frankness it took us a while to get there-top of the mountain. For us it wasnt that exciting because it was very similiar to most of the Turkish villages. However, it may prove to be interesting for visitors that are not from this part of the world. When we arrived at the village we learned from the signs that there was one taverna in town.Found a parking spot, which was kind of awkward as well and asked the people in the car next to us how the taverna was, would the recommend it? The answer is "very drunk".Since we were starving we entered anyway which turned out to be very calm and easy going place with good simple food. I've shared pics below. 
  • Vineyards of Sitia. I did not go personally but it was in my list of places to see if time had permitted.

                                                           View of Pefki Village


Remembering `Funny Face`

I won`t say much and let the pictures do the talking. I should have lived in the 1950`s...

Some of my favourite clothes from Audrey Hepburn`s film Funny Face (which were incidentally designed by Hubert de Givenchy):


Childrens Books

Which books are your favourite reads to your kids?

Apart from the more traditional my very first words, fruits (and the likes) types of books Can and the whole family is into pop-up books. My husband wasnt very into them in the beginning but I think he likes them now too :)

Our favourites:
1)`Little Penguins` by Jovilet/Fromental (gift by Auntie Selen)

2)`Moomins:Most magical pop-up book` (gift by Auntie Selen)

3) `A Very Hungry Caterpillar` by Eric Carle

4) `A walk down Sesame Street: pop-up book`

The Great Outdoors

For some one who hasn`t been blogging for the past one month, 5 posts in one night is pretty good I`d say? :)
Can you tell that Can is asleep?

With spring hopefully arriving in 5-6 weeks I am already ahead of myself making plans as to what we should do to take Can to the great outdoors. Whether it be camping, a forest walk a trip to the beach or the local farms I intend to keep him out as much as possible.

And yes there is a touch guilt of the working mother in this undertone. But we all comprimise and I guess this is an ongoing dilemma that we all experience.

Now onto some options;

1. Tatuta.org has access to all the ecological farms around Turkey, that are registered with the Bugday Organization. Of these I have found Gundonumu Farm an interesting option as it is very close to Istanbul and has over 150 cows! :) That means lots of fresh milk , and I think they also deliver this to your homes daily if one prefers. More on that later when I make it there.

(picture is taken from Google search engine results)

2) Sunday walks at the Belgrad forest- a great 6km walk is ideal for family time and keeping fit:)

3) Uzunya, Garipce or the Prince Islands for some fresh sea air...

4) Sundance Camp at Antalya has been recommended by a friend (Esra) but  we have yet to check it out.

For more ideas on what to do with kids around Istanbul please visit:

Motherhood blogs

Two of my favourite blogs are Elizabeth Street (http://elizabethstreet.com/) and A cup of Jo by Joanna Goddard(http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/).

`Elizabeth Street` is a style and city guide for mothers across the world.
`A Cup of Jo` is more miscellanous but I love her posts entitled `Motherhood Mondays`. Here is one of my favourite posts:

Do you have any tricks to make your kids feel loved?

A weekend getaway: Lavanda Boutique Hotel

Getting Can out of the city life is another topic that is on my mind these days.

And I am open to all recommendations; where do you go with your kids? What do you recommend for a great day outdoors?

Lavanda Boutique Hotel, located about an hours drive from central Istanbul en route Sile is a great escape from the city. Unfortunately, the place isnt very kid friendly( they accept babies younger than one yr old as an exception, but do not accept kids younger than 15) but its great for a couples hide out.

Since Can is younger than 1, he made it there twice ! And yikes he really enjoyed the French style cuisine of the hotel :) Especially the fish with mashed peas.

The website of the hotel is: www.lavandaotel.com

And here are some of our pics and pics from their website:

Local foods: Organic market at Bomonti, Istanbul

Based on my previous post on the importance of shopping locally produced foods I`d like to introduce you to the Organic Food Market at Sisli Bomonti.

This market has almost become a weekly routine for the family. We initially started going there when our now 10,5 month old son Can started eating solid foods, took it a step further to do the whole shopping for the house from there (we might as well eat healthy eh?:) )

Eating seasonally and organic, free of pesticides is not as costly as one thinks when this market is put into perspective. Once you become a member to Bugday Organization- they have a stand in the market- you actually get 10-15% off at the stalls and you have donated to an NGO devoted to sustainability and organic farming in Turkey.

Oh! and there is a food stand of the most amazing `gozlemes` - a Turkish pancake like delicatessen- that is simply my motivation to go there!

Below is a pic of of Can and Ladin ( Can`s friend)  that appeared on Gurme Bebek`s facebook page- particular thanks to Esra Sert author and partner to the site; www.gurmebebek.net. Also worth checking out if you are in search of recipes for your little ones!

A Spoonful of Sugar

With the raging weather in Istanbul its a forced holiday for some of us. The rest is unfortunately dealing with the monsterous traffic that I have a habit to avoid if and when possible.

This has given me a chance to indulge in some good reading which I dont get a chance to do very often. `A Spoonful of Sugar: Old fashioned wisdom for modern day mothers` by Liz Fraser has become a favourite read.
The book is based on conversations with Liz`s grandmother who is living in Scotland. I found alot of issues and tips I could relate to and it was wonderful to remember them again.

Some of `Granny`s Pearl of Wisdoms` include:
- When you cook food at home, you know whats in it because you do it yourself. Flour, salt, sugar eggs- and thats it! no hidden extras.
-If you buy local and buy freshyou`ll cut down on most of the junk in your diet immediately and not have to worry about how much you eat- you`ll be healthier and happier.
-Children need fresh air every day and all you have to do is get them out. Once they are there they`ll find something to do - to keep warm if nothing else!Just open that door, and send them out for an hour.
-Your primary role as a parent is a carer, whether your children are well and ill, absent or present. A child who is unwell needs their mother or father there to take care of them- and no job should come in the way of that.

Yes, of course we all know these. But its a nice reality check dont you think?
Any motherhood tips from your grandparents that you`d like to share?