Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Barbados: St James Church

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Istanbul continues to surprise me. I was in the central part of the city today trying to find the address for a meeting I was going to, my translator and I were staring up at the buildings trying to decipher the signs when suddenly someone came up to me and said hello. The surprise was that I knew him. I've spent less than 5 days total in Istanbul (which is a city of 14 million people) so saying I know no one is accurate. But on my first visit I scouted apartments for my team to live in and met several landlords. The guy on the street was one of those landlords (and who owned the apartment I really wanted to live in but was to far away.) His memory of me, and stopping to say hello on a busy street totally charmed me and convinced me I'm going to love getting to know people here.

Now, back to my vacation.....

After spending the morning in Bridgetown, we found a driver who gave us a tour of the Island - such a beautiful place. We stopped at the St. James church in Holetown and I fell a bit in love with this little treasure.

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When I was tracking down a song to go with this post I kept thinking church which led to Eric Church, but since I'm not in a twangy mood today I had to keep thinking. Then I remembered a great song from the Donnie Darko soundtrack (which I love, but I've never seen the movie, is that weird?). Here's The Church with Under the Milky Way.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Barbados: Around Town

I made it back to Istanbul after a couple of days of travel, which wasn't as bad as usual, because I somehow got upgraded to first class on the longest leg (Chicago to London) what a treat. Because work is going to be so crazy for the next several weeks my posts are going to be heavy on photos and short on words. I have a ton of photos from the Caribbean and even Switzerland I haven't shared yet so I hope you don't mind taking a visual vacation with me. First up Barbados.

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We spent a good share of the morning walking around the downtown area of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. While it wasn't my favorite stop on the cruise, it was a very colorful place.

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I kicked off my cruise with Barbados' most famous musician, but really can you ever get enough Rhianna? Only Girl in the World
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Beach Thinking

As the waves roll in
I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks thinking about a quote from Anna Quindlen I saw on Smart, Pretty, Awkward:

"I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me."

There are times in my life when I forget that I am the only one with the power to make those changes in my life I've been seeking. Running across this quote was a great reminder that I need to step up and take control.

I'm headed back to Istanbul tomorrow and plan to stay for about a month. Work is going to be absolutely insane, I'm just praying I'll be able to keep up.

I hope those of you in the US are enjoying the second great holiday this week: Black Friday. I'm planning to avoid it, but you never know what my mom and sister will talk me into.

A perfect Kings of Leon song, Beach Side, came on while I was sitting on this amazing beach in Antigua - I love it when shuffle works that perfectly. Pin It

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico beach
We started (and ended) our cruise in Puerto Rico. I fell in love with the old fort and only wish I'd booked a later flight on our last day so I could fit in old town.

Fort Walls
Fort Chapel Entrance
Fort Look-out Point
Fort Light House

This last shot was what I saw as I borded the ship, proof that in the right light everything can be beautiful, even temporary structures.
Ship Boarding Structure

When I think of music and Puerto Rico I immediately think of Menudo - I remember watching their TV show on Saturday mornings as a kid.  I had such a crush on little Ricky who only got better with age. Ricky Martin: Maria

For those of you in the US - Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope you have a great time with your families/friends and that your travel is as painless as possible.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Toes in the Water

I'm just back from one of my most relaxing vacations ever. I've never been a beach person so I didn't know what to expect of this trip when my friend suggested a Caribbean cruise - but since it was something I've never tried, in places I've never been, I decided to give it a go. (How I managed to live in Rio just blocks from the beach for 2 years and not discover the joys of sitting on a lounger under an umbrella and watching the waves roll in I'll never know.)

Last week:
  • I completely unplugged. No internet, TV or phone and it was just what the doctor ordered.
  • I went through a bottle of SPF 70 in 5 days and parked myself under an umbrella at the beach each day. And yet, I managed to miss a strip on one leg and came home with a burn stripe. I even came home with tan lines - something which between my fair skin and the 70 SPF, I thought was impossible.
  • I ate seafood every day - it was heaven. 
  • We won't even talk about the number of desserts that were consumed....

I'm still going through my photos, but so far I'm very pleased with the quality I got from my little point and shoot (I left my dslr at home since I decided to do the cruise with only carry on luggage.) I'm hoping editing the photos over the next several days will keep the spirit of relaxation with me as I try and catch up with real life this week.

I found myself singing this song every day as I brushed the sand off my toes. Zac Brown Band: Toes
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Monument

Istanbul Park
As I walked from the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sophia I passed this monument.

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I didn't take the time to figure out what it was a monument to, or why it was there.

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I just stopped because I liked the way the sun was hitting it and making the gold mosaics sparkle.

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And the way the birds were lined up so neatly across the top, barely moving, they almost looked like they were a part of the monument itself and not just sitting there resting.

I hope you have an amazing weekend planned - how many of you are gearing up to travel next week (American Thanksgiving?) What are your tactics to make the trip less painful?

Speaking of birds, I haven't posted anything by Eva Cassidy in a very long time, here's her amazing "Songbird."

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Inside the Sofia

Hagia Sofia 5
I only got 4 photos inside the Hagia Sofia before the battery on my camera died. I somehow managed to leave the charger in the US - lesson to self, ALWAYS check the bag for the camera charger before going on a trip.

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I can't wait to go back and get another go at taking photos here - there are so many shots I wanted to try.

Hagia Sofia 3
I'm kind of obsessed with the way the hanging lights look like halo's hovering over the heads of the people inside, so cool.

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When was the last time you got somewhere with a dead camera battery? Or is it just me that those kind of things happen to?

For my dead battery, here is Bobby Long's "Dead and Gone." Pin It

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia 1
I'm still in the Caribbean, but thought I'd share more of the photos I took on my day playing tourist in Istanbul.

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The Hagia Sofia was dedicated in 360 AD (the current structure was built in the 500s AD) and has been a basilica, a mosque and is now a museum. It is famous for its massive dome and, at least according to wikipedia, it changed the history of architecture. I'm not a history buff, or an even an architecture guru, but I do know it was an amazing place. Just knowing that it's been there for nearly 2000 years was enough to blow me away.

Today's song is one I can't get enough of, Peter Bradley Adams: "The Longer I Run." Pin It

Friday, November 11, 2011

Inside the Blue Mosque

I'm actually back on an airplane today I'm starting to have airport deja vu - on Sunday I flew from Istanbul to Geneva, on Wednesday I flew from Geneva to Salt Lake (through Paris and New York) and today I'm flying from Salt Lake to San Juan (through Dallas), where I'm getting on a cruise ship headed to the Caribbean.

It does make my life sound pretty cool - but before you think I'm too lucky, just think of all the hours I've spent sitting in a cramped airplane and how many times security lines I've had to go through, not to mention how messed up I am when it comes to time zones. Still, I wouldn't miss this vacation for anything, we've been planning it since January, and I've never seen the Caribbean so it should be a fun adventure.

Now, back to Istanbul and more of the Blue Mosque - this time from the inside:

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I'm passing through Barbados on this trip, so here's a little of Barbado's most famous export, Rihanna: Umbrella. Pin It

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Blue Mosque

Blue mosque
My work life continues to be crazy. I waited a week and a half in Switzerland to get the go ahead to go to Istanbul and after a couple of days there I was already falling in love with the place. Then, on Friday I got a call asking me to head back to Switzerland as soon as I could, which turned out to be Sunday morning. This gave me part of the day Saturday to play tourist.

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I decided I would try and fit in a visit to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), Hagia Sofia and the Grand Bazaar.  I only brought my point and shoot camera on this trip and I discovered as I entered the Hagia Sofia the battery was dead, so it is a good thing this is just the first visit of many.

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I'm headed back to the US today, so I'll leave you with the rest of my photos from the outside of this amazing mosque built in the 1600s.

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I've listened to a lot of Laura Veirs lately her songs have been a good fit for my mood, her "Life is Good Blues", is a particular favorite. The song starts with the line: "Life is good when you dance all night." That line reminds me it's the little things that can really make life good.

So, tell me what is making your life good right now?

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Monday, November 7, 2011


Payer Time
On Saturday I went to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) it was amazing.  I have a ton of photos to get through, but the first thing I did when I got back to the hotel was pull this set off the camera.

In Prayer
As I was leaving the mosque the sun was shining in through a set of windows just as a group were beginning their prayers.

At Prayer
Only moments earlier the mosque had been filled with tourists snapping photos, but as they all left there was a sense of quiet that filled the enormous room as a few men began their prayers. As amazing as the architecture and design of the building were, they had nothing on that quiet moment of peace and I'm so grateful that was the moment I happened to pause and notice the people and not just the architecture.

Alison Krauss - A Living Prayer

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Your Mind

I woke up Tuesday morning in Switzerland to an email telling me to find a flight that day to Istanbul. This trip was finally on!!!

I wish I could tell you all about Istanbul and share photos - but the truth is I've been so crazy busy that the only photos I've taken are of the inside of hotels and apartments.

A friend I met shortly after I moved to Brazil (who, like me, moves a lot) gave me some advice I still try and live by: for the first 3 months after you move anywhere, anytime someone invites you to do something you have to say YES. Doesn't matter how tired you are or what else you have planned, you say yes.  It forces you to get out and meet people, see things and when people see you out it encourages them to get to know you and to include you in invitations.  Soon you are part of a network of friends.

With his advice in mind, when the contact who was helping me look at apartments invited me to join her at an event mid-afternoon I said yes.

Source: via Sonik on Pinterest

Which is how I found myself standing in the middle of an amazing designer's (Ozlem Suer) studio, with a group of Istanbul's "ladies who lunch" watching an intimate fashion show.  The clothes were to DIE for, the models were so close I could reach out and touch them and the ladies who attended were so chic and elegant. They were drinking champagne and Chambord eating elegant finger foods and amazing desserts.

I felt like I'd stepped into the most amazing world.  I hope the rest of my experiences here are equally jaw dropping and unexpected.

This song is an old one, but when I saw the models walk through the house in their amazing dresses on those insane shoes their attitude brought this video to mind - and it is a good reminder to me to stay open to the possibilities here.  En Vogue: Free Your Mind
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pinterest Challenge 2

It's time for another Pinterest Challenge - and I'll admit, I'm cheating a bit this round. I'm out of town for a while, so I'm going to share a couple of projects I finished before I left - the first challenge had me so pumped up on projects I just couldn't stop.  First up, my ombre dresser:

The Inspiration

My Version    
This was such a simple way to give a fun splash of color to some very boring nightstands.

Next up - and even easier, a towel rack necklace holder.

The Inspiration

My Version
The necklace holder came together when I ran across the two towel bars for $2 in the As-Is area of Ikea - don't you love it when you find exactly what you need for next to nothing?

I love that my necklaces are easy to see - it means they get worn more often.

I listened to Priscillia Ahn's new album while I painted - the whole thing is great, but this track is a favorite: I Don't Have Time to Be In Love Pin It

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