A Peaceful Cave Village in Cappadocia, Central Turkey

What can I say really, except that Cappadocia is a magical place. After spending some time in Istanbul, we relocated our journey to Uchisar, a small town in Central Turkey. It was an incredibly quiet, peaceful place after having been in a big, crowded city. Cappadocia is best known for it’s cave homes and underground cities. (Oh, and for hot air ballooning… that post is coming up soon!) Some of the caves are still people’s homes, while others have been converted into hotels and bed & breakfasts for visitors. Cappadocia333 We were lucky enough to secure a cave bed & breakfast called Taka Ev. The owner was always there to help, made every arrangement for us from airport transportation, to our rental car. We had such an amazing time staying there!Cappadocia297 Our room was set back into the mountain just past this sitting area.Cappadocia006 Cappadocia007 Cappadocia008 And it was indeed a cave! Some of it had been renovated to be certain. But the seemingly random hole in the wall to the left of the bed… well, that was once used for crushing grapes to make wine!Cappadocia001 Cappadocia003 Cappadocia004 The town was a combination of caves, homes and business that partially used caves, and structures that were built on the mountain (rather than in it). They used materials that blended seamlessly into the mountain and surrounding landscape.
Cappadocia134 Cappadocia136 Cappadocia137 Cappadocia138It seemed that every hill was speckled with caves that had been dug out hundreds and hundreds of years ago. And many of them were easy to access. You could just walk right into one and check it out. Sometimes you could even clearly see the distinction between a living room, a room for cooking, and a room for sleeping, really not at all unlike a small suburban house.Cappadocia293 Cappadocia159 Cappadocia160 Cappadocia162 Cappadocia168 Cappadocia169Nearby in a town called Goreme (a little more highly traveled by out-of-towners) we went into their open air museum, where they had some incredibly elaborate, almost high-rise style cave structures to wander through.Cappadocia248 Cappadocia234 Cappadocia252 Cappadocia255 The most incredible thing about the open air museum was that there were several ancient Christian sanctuaries with these unbelievable frescos painted from floor to ceiling. We got in trouble for taking these pictures, but I had to include them… and trust me, these weren’t even the most amazing ones there! The columns were perfectly carved and the colors were so vibrant. There was one sanctuary (no pictures, sorry) that actually had the only known depiction of Jesus as a teenager!Cappadocia240 Cappadocia247 Cappadocia246 We made sure to do some hiking through Love Valley. Some of the vegetation reminded me of California in the summer. This farmer had a business set up, off the main road and out of sight. You wouldn’t know it was there unless you hiked by like we did!Cappadocia189 Cappadocia202 Cappadocia230 See why it’s called Love Valley? No I’m not joking, that really is why it’s called Love Valley.Cappadocia195 We also did a little hiking through the valley just below Uchisar. There is a footpath that connects all of the towns in the nearby area, so you can easily walk from Uchisar to Goreme and beyond.Cappadocia353 All along this path we came across small local farms. Everything seemed to grow without effort, and we only ever saw one person, or maybe two (usually an old couple) tending to the farms.Cappadocia361 Cappadocia364 There is actually a small wine industry in the area as well, and they really were good wines! Any vineyard we passed by seemed tiny, but thriving.Cappadocia378 In some areas they had even gone so far as to terrace up the hill to make more space.Cappadocia379 Cappadocia167 We spent some time wandering through the “downtown” if you can even call it that. Yes, we did indeed bring home a Turkish rug, and it came from this shop. The owner was such a friendly guy and had grown up in the area. He had this incredible collection of keys. There must have been hundreds of them!Cappadocia323 Cappadocia328 Cappadocia324 We loved coming across this group of men hanging out on a bench in the middle of town. They were happy to pose for us, and I like to imagine they’ve been friends since they were kids. Who knows, but don’t they look like it?Cappadocia409 Looking at these photos again, it’s surreal to think we were ever there. Admittedly we didn’t do as much site seeing as maybe we should have, but we were all so relaxed and felt so peaceful there. It felt natural to just rest, wander, and enjoy the view.Cappadocia316 This last photo was taken the morning we left as we were just about to get into our shuttle to the airport. It was so hard to leave! We hope to get back there again one day.Cappadocia481Wouldn’t you love to take a nap with this view in the backdrop?

This Week I Loved…

Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, and the Steep Canyon Rangers…

…And this buffalo blue cheese burger in Park City, UT.buffalo burger

My mom-in-law’s watercolor exhibit.Utah_July002

Hiking with my niece.Utah_July009

And perhaps even better this glimpse of my husband building a fort with her.


Storms over the mountains on our drive home from Utah.Utah_July051

And this peach salad I made for a school-related gathering.
peach salad


A Weekend in Utah

Over the weekend the hubby and I headed by car up to Southern Utah to visit his parents. While it was a short trip (essentially just an extended weekend), we were able to pack in a lot. And as an added bonus, my brother-in-law (my husband’s brother, that is), sister-in-law, and our niece and nephew came into town a couple days before we had to leave. It was a great family reunion of sorts. Utah is an incredibly beautiful state, and we were even able to squeeze in an overnight trip to Park City.


Once we got into Park City, we were starving and ended up finding a place called the No Name Saloon. I loved all the stuff they had hanging everywhere. Antiques, license plates…Utah_July060

Even a whole motocycle, just hanging from the ceiling.Utah_July059

And this buffalo head, directly under which I happily ate my buffalo burger with blue cheese and bacon with a cold beer. Yum!Utah_July053

After a meal we headed to the Deer Valley Resort for a concert: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers! It was all general admission lawn seating (a bring your own picnic kind of affair) and people were lined up all the way around the corner an hour before the doors opened just to get a good spot. Utah_July066

Steve Martin is an absolutely incredible banjo player, and the entire band was made up of extremely talented musicians. And Steve Martin delivered his jokes with hilarity in a way that only Steve Martin could pull of.

Plus Edie Brickell made an appearance to sing with the band.Utah_July058

After we got back to Cedar City area (where the in-laws live), my mom-in-law had a reception for a local gallery display of watercolor paintings where a few of her pieces were displayed. It was such a treat to see her paintings on show for all to see!Utah_July001

One day we took a short hike through the land behind their house. They have an incredible view, and built the house to be mostly self sufficient: solar power, well water, and they even have a few gardens thriving around their property where they grow vegetables, fruit, and herbs.Utah_July015

We were able to get a pretty good view of a hawk’s nest in the rocks across the way from their property. We could hear baby hawks screeching, but couldn’t quite see their little faces.Utah_July019

There was an incredible wash of rocks and tree debris resulting from a huge flash flood about a year ago. It had a huge effect on the nearby area, and since it had been over a year since we were last there it made the landscape look quite different than when we last saw it!Utah_July021

Since it was a quick trip, we didn’t have a lot of time to hike around nearby Bryce and Zion National Parks, but we did do a quick hike with the whole family in the morning of the day we left. It was a great, easy hike to take our 5-year-old niece on. The path is near Kolob Canyon just on the edge of Zion National Park and wanders back and forth over this shallow stream. We were able to point out a few tadpoles to our niece, and she loved getting her feet wet on such a hot day!Utah_July039

The whole weekend was like a rock-hunting expedition for our niece, and I’m pretty sure she fancys herself an archeologist or paleontologist now!Utah_July036Have you been to any of the National Parks in Utah? What’s your favorite?

Art Deco Meets Science at the Griffith Observatory

Last weekend, a dear friend was visiting from out of town. She used to live in the LA area, and when asked what she wanted to do with her short time here she didn’t hesitate to answer that she wanted to visit the Griffith Observatory!

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

One of the many great things about it is that it’s located in Griffith Park, which some call the Central Park of Los Angeles. Lots of trails for hiking and running, one of which goes directly up to the observatory. (You can also drive right up to it from the other side, but there’s something satisfying about hiking up that steep hill to the reveal of this nugget of Los Angeles history.)

Hiking in Griffith Park

A little backstory of the observatory from the official site:

Exploring the Observatory’s past starts with namesake Griffith J. Griffith, whose plan for a public observatory was as visionary as it was audacious. From Griffith’s bequest in 1919 to the Observatory’s dedication on May 14, 1935, the story shifts to the astronomers, architects, and public leaders who made his vision to reality. From there, the Observatory welcomed 70 million visitors and became the world’s leader in public astronomy, a story told in the context of the building’s four Directors.

In 2002 they closed it down for a few years for some major renovations, and when it opened back up people were so excited that you had to make arrangements in advance just to get in. (Don’t you just love it when people get so excited about science?) Now that the withdrawal symptoms have subsided, it’s easy to go, although still crowded on the weekends.

the front entrance to the observatory

Designed by John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley, the building acts as a science museum and planetarium, hugged by art deco perfection! Geometric art deco design details are everywhere, and the beautiful restoration has left the building crisp and pristine so you can clearly see all of the careful work that was put into designing it. And since art deco was all about honoring the classic themes in architecture while also celebrating the age of the machine, it’s the perfect backdrop for the history of the world as viewed with new, ever developing technologies.


art deco dentals

These art deco styled dentals frame the front entry way into the building. And radiating horizontally outward are geometric S-like embellishments, familiar in many deco designs of the time.


art deco detail

This detailing follows the building all the way around to the back side, where you can see more of the familiar embellishments and tapered lines so familiar to the style.


art deco design and detail

The observation dome atop the building fits with the age of the machine.


a view of the observatory from behind

The first thing you see when you walk through the front door is this incredible Foucault Pendulum. “The 240-pound brass ball, suspended by a cable 40 feet long, swings in a constant direction while the Earth turns beneath it.”


Foucault Pendulum

Gradually it will knock over each of these pegs, in demonstration that Earth is indeed moving all the time.


pegs demonstrating Earth’s rotation

And then when you look up, an incredible mural of astronomy, philosophy, myth, exploration, and art.


mural on the ceiling above the pendulum

Inside, they have an entire wall dedicated to the periodic table of elements.


periodic table of elements

Each glass square contains the actual element. So if you were ever wondering Scandium looks like, now you know.


actual elements on display

They also have an actual working Tesla coil.


Tesla Coil

It is VERY loud when it fires off, but it’s still super cool to be able to see and hear the power of electricity.


Tesla Coil in action

And for the amateur astronomers out there, wouldn’t you just love to take home this you? Pretty!


an astronomer’s dream telescope

There is so much more to see than just these little nuggets. There are exhibits demonstrating the earth’s rotation, the solar system, geological phenomenons, and even a live image of the sun on which you can see solar storms happening in real time! What more can I say except that you must see this place for yourself.


deco design and astronomy symbols in the main lobby

On your way out, one more nod to the art deco design of the building, a back lit display of symbols of astronomy.


Hollywood sign right next door

I always like to take a moment before I leave to enjoy the views. The observatory sits a top a hill with views in almost all directions, and the famous Hollywood sign is right next door!


the view of downtown Los Angeles

In the other direction you can see downtown LA.


the view of the ocean

And on a really clear day, you can even see the ocean from here! It seems so close by!

Have you been to the Griffith Observatory? What was your favorite thing about it?

5 Activities to Avoid Glowing Rectangles

Technology is great. It allows us to video-chat with friends on the other side of the world; look up the answer to random questions within seconds; navigate our way to someplace we’ve never been before, just based on an address. We work more efficiently because of email, entertain ourselves with tv shows and movies, and play video games “to maintain peak hand-eye coordination.”
When you have a desk job like me, you spend your entire day looking at a computer monitor. On top of that, if you’re in the entertainment business like me, many times you are stepping away from your computer monitor only to look at a tv monitor or film screen. Or someone else’s computer monitor. And we all know how prevalent cell phone use is. Not to mention e-readers and tablets. That’s a lot of strain on your eyes over the course of a day!

Realizing that we have a habit of coming home from glowing work rectangles only to immediately sit down at our home computer or turn on the tv, the hubby and I decided to institute one evening a week with no glowing rectangles allowed. We are calling it “No Tech Tuesday.”

In honor of stepping away from the glowing rectangles in your life, here is a list of 5 activities you don’t need computer technology to enjoy.

Play a Game

Whether a board game or card game, this is a great way to pass the time! Try choosing a strategy game like Risk or Settlers of Catan, or a word game like Scrabble or Bananagrams to keep your intellect extra engaged.

Read a Book

You can’t beat good old fashioned story-telling with words! Chose a fiction book like Water for Elephants for a quick entertaining read that lets you easily escape into another time. If you’re more interested in stories about real people, you might try Me Talk Pretty One Day for a laugh out loud account of David Sedaris’ life, as told by David himself. For history and science lovers, try Bill Bryson’s funny yet eye-opening A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Work on a Craft Project

This could be the perfect opportunity to work on that scrap book you started five years ago. Or better yet, learn how to knit or crochet so you can make that scarf you always wanted to try to make. For a bigger project, maybe refinish that chair you found at the flea market last week, or repaint that old dresser you’ve had for years. The sky’s the limit, just follow your ambitions!


Physical Fitness

Use your extra time free from your computer to take a hike, a walk, or go for a run. And I mean it, leave that iPod at home. Use the sounds of nature (or the sounds of your city) to motivate you on your journey! Maybe even take a moment to chat with a fellow hiker you meet along the way; embrace that human interaction! If you’re not much for walking or running, try taking that yoga or pilates class you’ve been meaning to try. You won’t regret how good you’ll feel afterwards!

Cook or Bake Something New

Remember when you were perusing the internet last week and saw that amazing recipe for a double fudge chocolate cheesecake? Or what about that delicious sounding lamb osso bucco recipe you saw the other day? Even if you’ve never cooked or baked anything in your life, now’s the time to give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose. You’ll probably learn something new and have a delicious meal to follow!

What do you do at home to relax and rest your eyes from a technology-filled day?