Thursday, June 30, 2011

wetting your appetite for Greece

Well I have to say that Greece and a string bean budget are very much on opposing teams. However we stayed within our budget!!!!!!!!!!!
Greece is breath takingly beautiful, I had no idea how mountainous it was.  We drove almost the entire length of the country and there were very few moments where the sea or mountain or both were not in plain view.  

Ok family of 5 in Greece.  Here is where we stayed and this is what we did ~ the things we loved and the things we didn't love so much.

We stayed at Kairos Gardens the first 4 days of our trip. It only took us 4 hours to get to our first destination. Here is the website. The owners are truly dear.  He is Greek and she is Norwegian and have had this place for 4 years. She gave us a very good deal and I know if anyone else would want to stay you could bargain too. Here are a few of the pics of the place.  It was the best spent money for the amount of space, recreation and beauty.   Plus there are several places to visit all within an hour's drive or less.  It is in a very small village next to Kavala.

The view from our front balcony. We heard the church bells ring every morning.


My daughter and I went on a nature walk and within 15 mintues found these five different fruits.  It was fun and fascinating to walk in the orchards and to see the beautiful pomegranate trees with their red flower blossoms.  We learned a lot that day and my daughter had a fabulous time and then took all the unripe harvested fruit and made soup. :)

The great thing was it was so close to the beach in a little town called Nea Peramos. We went everyday and it was free entertainment for the kids and we enjoyed it also. It was very clean and the beach was sandy. 

For the four days we ate all our breakfasts at the villa and took a picnic lunch every afternoon on our trips to the beach or our time in Philipi and for dinner we ate at the villas restaurant.  Truth is the food we were able to eat at the restaurant was the best we had the whole time in Greece.  Also they catered some to the needs of our kids and that was so helpful!! (Little side note here..I ate cereal every day!! Fun little dance was required for the variety of cereals that were availabe in Greece.)

From there we traveled to Kastraki which is surrounded by the mountains and the large rock formations of Meteora where there are monasteries carved into the rocks. 

There are lots of camping sites and they are very clean and more than sufficient to meet the needs of a family. The one we stayed at had a wonderful pool with a GREAT view. (great is very understated) Camping was more then we excepted because they charge for your car space too. :(  However it was a beautiful location and I would recommend it to anyone.
It is called Camping Vrachos.  It was 25 euro a night. (50 lira or $35)

We camped two nights. It was a riot. We were surrounded by lots of Europeans from Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Norway. We felt very comfortable to be ourselves and very safe. It was a delightful experience.
The tent only fit three of us so Dave and our little guy slept in our van.
What did I tell you... string bean budget. So many campers came so well equipped with campers and all the fun fineries of camping and then there was us, this crazy American family living in Turkey with our little tent.  LOL. The kids loved it.  One of the first things Autumn did was make us a little broom to sweep out our tent..she used a stick and a bunch of leaves and tied it with a string. :)

On our way to the pool.

Honestly Meteora's views and scenery were spectacular and absolutely breathtaking.  There are 7 monasteries that you can visit and climb up too.  We climbed up to one and toured in our car for the others.  The last one we visited was so majestic, I believe that view will be etched in my mind forever.  Taking pictures of all of it was pointless I didn’t even try. Pictures could not do it justice…especially with our camera.
From there we traveled to Athens. We had a day and half there. We left for Turkey the day the protests and riots started. We were so grateful for the timing. Honestly Athens was my least favorite place but we had one of our best family days there. 

We went to the Attica Athens Zoo in the morning and then the Acropolis in the afternoon and ended with a walk along a breezy boardwalk where we got the girls pictures drawn and picnik at the National Gardens. The weather was delightful and the children were amazing and very flexible that day and they had a wonderful time. We ended the night with getting lost driving on the streets of Athens where there is no such thing as a left turn. Athens was a nightmare to drive around in.

While in Athens we stayed in Centro Residence. It is a apartment complex with the individual apartments rented out like hotel rooms. It was sufficient for our family and provided free and secure parking but the neighborhood was a little shady and there were barely any windows in our apartment. However for what we wanted it suited us. We slept great there and there was plenty of room and a kitchen very adequately equipped for our needs. We barely stayed there other than to sleep. However if we wouldn’t have booked so late for our time in Athens we think we could have gotten a hotel. The Centro Residence only had someone there to let us in and show us our room or for emergencies. So we were on our own in Athens and we got lost more times then I care to say.

If you are interested in the prices we paid for each place and the cost of food and restaurants I would be more than happy to give you the info.   Traveling to Greece for us was a wonderful experience.

Our favorite place was the villa and the landscape there is so rich and full.  There was so much for our kids to do there.  Collect sea shells, play in the little park at the villa, collect eggs from the chickens, play with the huge container of legos that was provided, swim, picnic, etc. 

I know that there are several of you that read my blog that live here in Turkey. I am putting together a pdf file of our time in Greece ~ How much we paid for car insurance, gas prices,camping prices, the cost of food and restaurant prices etc. Also our likes and disikes. I hope to have it finished soon and will post it for you all.  However if you have questions before then please e-mail me.
Enjoy, my sweet friends and good night from my west corner in Turkey. It just rained and it feels nice and cozy to me tonight. ~ It is good to be home so we can rest up for another adventure.  Where should we go next?

~Becky (ok I think I will award myself for my longest post yet..ugh)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hi from Greece on a string bean budget. :)

Just wanted to share a few brief moments of our Greece family vk.

We have been planning this trip for a year now and here it is.  We live close to the Greece border and we were able to attain Greece insurance on our van pretty easily so off we went.

We packed up a small cooler of groceries and off we went. We drove across the border from Edirne, Turkey and headed toward a small little village/town near Kavala. 

Our plan:  4 nights in a villa, 2 nights camping close to Meteora and then 2 nights in an hotel/apartment in Athens.

We are currently in the little town (village) staying at this villa that is family owned. They live downstairs and they rent the entire upstairs out. There is 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms. They also have a little restaurant and two other studio villas on their property. Last night we ate at their restaurant Mythos and WOW the food was amazing!  The villa itself is perfect for families.  I look forward to sharing more and how we have managed to take this trip on a string bean budget :) when we return, until then here are some pics of our first leg of our vk/adventure. 

This is the little restaurant that is on the same property as the Villa  it is open only to their guests. 
It is only outside seating. They even had a bucket of toys for the kids while we waited for the food.

We have feta cheese inTurkey but this was differnt and they made this feta and pepper chees dip that was wonderful.
The other salad shown is a Greek salad. :)

This is an eggplant dish.  It was very tasty. 
David had a Grilled pork chop..of course since we can't get pork in Turkey.
David and I both are both pretty curious about the differences in Turkish and Greek cusine.

The beach is a ten minute drive from where we are staying. 
The views here are full of vineyards and mountains and olive trees.  It is a beautful place. The villa is great and I don't have to clean it when I leave.  (oh the perks to a mommy. :))

Ok my dear blogger freinds off I go, we are going to explore some large caves  this afternoon. :)Thank you for following along, I feel honored to have you with me on this journey.
 Let's see how we do on keeping to our budget on this trip..I'll see you in a week and let you know. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Balcony Herb Garden

My husband has always wanted to tend a small garden and I love the green of the outdoors.  So, while we were in the States last summer we bought some seeds at an 'end of the season sale' and brought them back to Turkey.

My husband and kiddos toiled a very 'little' and had loads of fun planting.
Seeds are such an amazing thing. 
Such little things that produce such a variety of pleasure.
It is such a great learning expierence for the kids. I love them getting their hands dirty this way.

The fun thing is for the first week every morning my husband and kids were out on the balcony checking to see if anything had come up.  My husband has faithfully tended our little herb garden and as you can see it has been sucessfull.

We have lettuce, fennel, jalepeno peppers, basil, mint, cilantro and oregano. 
We have harvested some of our cilantro already (we can not find cilantro here in Turkey) and it has been really fun to eat!!

The kids love going and picking the herbs for dinner!!
We have found a fun contentment in our 'little' balcony garden this year and are thinking of grander plans for next year. :)

She is without a doubt a fun and goofy kiddo!!
Just a little FYI ~ seeds can be used well past the expiration date.  So if you see some seeds on sale past expiration grab 'em up.  You may want to plant a few extra but we have used ours a year or more past the date with no problems.

~off I go to nibble on fennel (just kidding) :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Simply w/ love ~DIY ribbon bookmarks

I made these 'sweet simple ribbon bookmarks' for some of my most cherished people. ~ They did not cost very much time or money and they fit perfectly in an envelope but I made each of them with a specific person in mind. ~  

Ribbon is so accessible at the Bazars here, and fairly inexpensive to buy, so my 'use what you have' theme came in handy for me on these little gifts. :) 

Gifts the joy and the dilema.
This year I committed to being more faithful at sending birthday greetings and gifts to family back in the States. Sometimes the joy of giving a gift can be stripped by feeling the pressure to get something just perfect (which for some reason tranfers into dollar signs $) or something unique (which transferss into lots of time), or for me trying to figure if my package will make it back to the States. So I have committed this year to giving 'simply with love'. I remember my sweet sister-n-law sent me a can of 'Rebublic Tea'(ginger peach!!) with a note of things she liked about me taped to the front for my b-day... as you can see I left the note attached to the can of tea just like it came almost a year ago. (this tea is some of my favorite so I use it sparingly since I cannot get it here) anyway my point..simply sent with love a gift means so much and it DOES NOT always have to cost lots or money or time. Not that investing time and money in a gift is a bad thing but for me it cannot be every person I give a gift too. I don't want to give out of obligation and pressure, I want to give freely out of love and a smile. ~

         Here is a quick picture tutorial for Ribbon Markmarks:

I hope you enjoy the simplicity with me
My little note on this tutorial is: remember to singe the bottoms of the ribbon so they do not frey.
All you need to do is take a lighter and allow the flame to singe the very bottom. Maybe just try one for practice before the orignal so you get the hang of it.
Some days I make things so complicated, however today I am enjoying simplicity ;)
from my west corner~ Becky


Friday, June 10, 2011

Giveaway winner

Hi there to each of you who entered the fabric giveaway.

We have a winner... and the winner is...Ruth. (mattandruth)
(I have no other contact info~ so Ruth  please contact me.
My e-mail address is and I will send you your gift on Monday the 13th)

Thank you for all who signed up for this giveaway, hopefully you will be the next winner.

This giveaway was a learning expeirence for me and soo much fun.  I really enjoyed this.  However I think I didn't quite hit the 'fun' factor for all of you living in Turkey with the fabric giveaway. What would be fun to receive?  Were there some of you who read the Giveaway post and didn't sign up becasue fabric isn't your thing? I would really like your feedback, so here are a few options. 

Would you like:
*Craft Supplies
*Homemade items (becasue I am going to become one amazing sewing crazy lady, just you wait. ):)
* or any other ideas

I really would love to hear, so please leave a comment with what you think would be a fun giveaway. I would like for this blog to cultivate a following here in Turkey and encourage others to 'use what they have' and help inspire creativity and hope. 

Please if you live in Turkey and read this blog I would LOVE your feedback. Really, give me an ear full, I'm listening. My brain is full of ideas and is always runny with colors so I would love to hear what others here in Turkey would like to see more of.  Also if you enjoy this blog spread the word and share my link with others, I would like that very much.

Ok off to put my girlies to bed.  ~ in the west corner. Becky

TP roll Robots invaded our home

We had our DEAR DEAR friends from Isntabbul visit us a few weeks back and like always when they come and stay with us it is like a breath of sweet air.  We love having them.  Each time they come we seem to need to find something to do with our kiddos ~ they have 2 and we have 3 in one apartment for 3 days.  So this time around my friend and I started grabbing stuff and a robot emerged and tada an army of tp roll robots invaded our home and the fun lasted for hours. (literally) (We did one of our silly snack Saturdays based on our robot day.)

The supplies :
Tp roll
Tin foil
Water bottle tops
Water bottle cut up
googly eyes
pieces of cut up paper (from previous project)
Small pieces of fabric
pipe cleaners
tooth picks
Colored pencils..
obviously all this is NOT necessary for a tp robot but
like I siad we were just pulling things out and having fun with it all.
Really this post emphasis my theme right now 'use what you have' . I think sometimes you would be surprised what you have in your house to make fun creations with your kids.   


I was in the process of making the kids some kind of robot station but just couldn't finsh and it soo didn't matter.  They siad this was the robots headquaters and off they went imagining away, putting this here and that there. This piece of cardboard has been used two other time in our sweet shop and in our makeshift movie theater, I think it has finally seen it's last days. :)

The fun thing about kids is you give them an idea and they run with it.  I absolutley love the fun creations they made. 

I literally save ALL my tp rolls.  I know it sounds crazy but really they are the easiest things to collect and you can create so much with them. I had enought tp rolls to supply a whole class room of kids for this project.

So if you have kids start hording your tp rolls, they will come in handy.  :) 

~ from my west corner


Monday, June 6, 2011

My life in color

Please all you living in Turkey click on this link and sign up for the fabric giveaway!!!

At the Bazar. (Pazar)
My outdoor Craft store. :)
This is where I find my pieces of ribbon and buttons and an occasional piece of fabric.


My outdoors.
This is where I find moments of hope and some
moments of laughter.

This is where you can get a cup of tea. lol :)
Beauty, charm and enjoyment are found everywhere. 

or if you rather you can come over to
my west corner in Turkey and share a cup with me. :)

I am finding contentment today in the little splashes of color God has put around me. 
I do miss my family lots today so I thought you all could drop over for a virtual tea:) and enjoy a bit of life and color in my little west corner of Turkey. ~

Thanks for dropping by.  ~ Contentment is often a choice.

Again if you live in Turkey I have a giveaway planned for June 10th. You comment that you want to win, there will be a drawing on the 10th of June and I send the winner the 'package of care' June 13th. All you have to do is comment or send me an e-mail..easy peasey!! O kadar.
  Hadi ya~ bak  Giveaway LINK

Friday, June 3, 2011

DIY Tiered Skirt

For everyone living in Turkey ~Click HERE for details on the fun Giveaway.

Well I promised to share with you how I made this skirt for my newly 5 year old. 

Here's the skirt in action.
There are MANY SO MANY tutorials out there on how to make a homemade skirt.  I am not going to attempt to re-invent the wheel, however there are a few things that I wish I would have known earlier and had pics for ~ like how to gather a skirt for a ruffle, so I will share those things with you plus a wonderful resource for making tiered skirts.

Well here is where I picked out my fabric and then got the measurments for what each tier needed to be.  Okay STOP there, how did I figure out the measuremnts?

This great 'skirt measurent calculation tool' does ALL the work for you.
 (i love it i love it) All you need to do is measure the child's waist and then know the length of the skirt you want.  I just measured another skirt my daughter had that I liked the length for.
Then the 'calculation tool' gives you measurements for each tier up to 6 tiers.
Here is my fabric cut from top to bottom tier. 
Each piece is folded in half~ they fold out the long way.

If you are interested in making a tiered skirt
please follow THIS link.
It is one of the best I have found for newbies like me.
 The pictures are clear and there are several for each step.
The following pictures and instructions are the ones I would have liked for reference and clarification.  Many times tutorials 'assume' you know something that you may or may not.
I hope these are helpful.
 How to gather a skirt for a ruffle
*I draw a line with one of my girls washable markers all the way across the length of the fabric.
*Then I take a needle with an extended amount of thread that will go the length and more of the fabric piece.
*I sew like you see in the picture below. It is a quick stitch so that I can pull on the thread and it will gather easily and then pull out after done sewing. The thread is not doubled.
*This is the ruffle after sewing my way thru the length of the piece of fabric, pulling slightly and arranging it.
*I then pin this piece to the next tier and sew on. After it has been sewn on I pull out the yellow thread I used to make the ruffle.  Again this LINK shows all the directions for pinning and sewing in detail. (I did sew the rest of the skirt with my sewing machine just the ruffle part I did by hand.)
Ironing for the elastic waist band

*Ironing is necessary in sewing and makes everything so much simplier.
*For the first tier fold over a small bit and iron, then fold over again about 1/2 in. to 1 in. depending on the width of your elastic and iron down the fold. This picture is the 2nd fold.
*This is where you will sew to make an opening for the elastic you eventually pull through.
This LINK that I shared above shows you how to do that.

Oh and yes it was made with lots of my very own tag of love to go with it.:)

Now every time the 'tag' bothers her she can think of me. :) lol Watch me have to cut it out eventually.

Enjoy and please let me know if this has been helpful to you. ~ Becky

~Don't forget if you live in Turkey to leave a comment or e-mail me for the
fabric GIVEAWAY.  Click here for details. Now you have the perfect thing to make with the cute fabric. :)

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