Taking Back My Twenties

Dirty 30

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 | 4 comments

Hello and happy Monday! We had a big weekend over here because we celebrated Matt’s 30th with all of our Dallas friends.

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I made a big spread of food including both new and old recipes. I made salami chips which were a hit – dipped in spicy hummus, they were amazing!

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Of course, after our trip to Turkey, I had to have feta and olives – the best combo ever.

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I also tried a new recipe for caribbean shrimp – the marinade was delicious and it would have been even better with fresh shrimp (i used frozen).

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And a kale, quinoa, and apricot salad. I think I’m done making healthy salads for parties because no one eats them. This was a good recipe and I’ve been enjoying the leftovers, but next to party foods, kale just can’t compete!

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The rest of the food included caprese skewers with pretty summer tomatoes, and the un-pictured, never-fail party foods: Mexican bean dip and pigs-in-a-blanket (I used spicy chicken sausage for these this time and people loved them).

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So many friends came to celebrate Matt!

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Cake, duh!!

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We consumed beverages like 20-year-olds and then headed out to a fun bar for some dancing.

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Oh my goodness, it was a blast. Happy birthday one last time, Matt!

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Bodrum Birthday

Posted on Jul 14, 2014 | 8 comments

Hello!

I’ll spare you the details of my low-key weekend at home and share the last of my Turkey pictures!

After our time in Istanbul, we traveled to the beach town of Bodrum along the Aegean coast. I was really, really excited about this part of the trip, but after the whirlwind of the city, I hadn’t thought much about it. I think Matt and I were both blown away when we arrived and saw how ridiculously beautiful it was. We didn’t stay right on the water to save some money, but our hotel had a breathtaking view from a hill overlooking the city and harbor, so it was fine with me!

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I knew the town was old, but I didn’t realize how much history there was until we started walking around the city and learning more about it. On our first day we explored and visited the ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! We probably could have spent another whole day going to historical sites (the castle looked so neat), but we had a birthday to celebrate!

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We walked down to the harbor on our first night and discovered tons of waterfront bars – reminded me of the cove we’d go to in Mykonos every night before dinner on our honeymoon!

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One thing I forgot to mention in my previous posts are the cats in Turkey! They were everywhere and the locals and people working at restaurants kept them well-fed and gave them attention, so it wasn’t a sad situation (or at least didn’t appear to be) like some of the other places I’ve visited where the animals are thin and sickly.

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This was the view from our dinner table down to the docks where the cats were waiting for scraps of seafood.

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Anyway, back to the birthday. Matt turned 30 on the 3rd, so I wanted to do something extra special for him. It didn’t take much research to discover that renting a gulet, or a traditional wooden boat is a big thing in Bodrum. A friend of mine had also done this and highly recommended it, so I made arrangements with a wonderful lady to hire the Adorya gulet for the day.

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Matt didn’t know a thing about it until the morning of, when I gave him a pair of sunglasses and a card that explained the surprise. He was one happy 30-year-old!

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The boat was absolutely amazing and the day was right out of a fantasy….by far the best excursion I’ve ever done!

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We sailed into quiet coves and swam in the brisk water,

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we snorkeled (but didn’t see much),

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we drank beers while floating on noodles,

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and jumped off the top of the boat.

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Our captain prepared an incredible fresh lunch of salad, fruit,

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and fish caught that morning.

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Of course, I arranged for a bit of cake:)

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It was seriously one of the best days of my life.

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After the boat trip, we rested and then strolled into town for dinner. We took a break from Turkish food and had dinner at a Spanish restaurant called La Pasion.

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We sat in a beautiful courtyard and had tapas. I think we ordered 7 and all of them were phenomenal. I’m so glad we found this gem!!

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We went to this one bakery every night in Bodrum to pick a dessert to take back to the hotel. I think Matt’s birthday is about the only day he’s willing to eat dessert with both lunch and dinner!

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On our last day in Bodrum, we took a bus over to the beach side of the town and spent the day at a beach club.

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The view was great! We had crazy winds, so we wrapped up in towels to stay warm and watched the huge beach pillows blow into the water. It was cozy.

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We had one last dinner in the harbor, and then it was back to Istanbul for the long trek home.

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Looking back at these pictures, it’s like the whole trip was a dream. I know I am very fortunate to be able to travel and I’m so thankful that Matt and I had the opportunity to visit such an amazing part of the world and celebrate a fun milestone on a gulet:)

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Turkish Delights

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 | 5 comments

The food in Turkey was ridiculously good. And oh so fresh!

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There were markets with beautiful fruit. I had sooo many cherries at breakfast every morning. Given that we were near the water, there was also wonderful local seafood and we enjoyed seabass 4-5 times during the trip.

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The Turks start their meals with mezes, small dishes or snacks that are usually served cold. I was obsessed! The only problem was that we would often order a couple and eat them with lots of bread, and then be too full for our entrees:)

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Another dish I was in love with was warm hummus served with hot pastrami. I could eat this for days.

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For snacks, we would sometimes stop by one of the many juice stands for freshly squeezed juice,

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or duck into a spice store for giant medjool dates.

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And the bakeries, oh the bakeries, were delightful, and on every corner. Matt and I made it our goal to try all the varieties of baklava and would search for the best-looking bakery after dinner each night.

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Waffles stuffed with toppings were also a thing over there. Although it doesn’t look as delicious as it tasted, this soft waffle was filled with dark chocolate, caramel, bananas, strawberries, and sprinkles; it was to-die-for.

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I drank lots of Turkish wine. Although most food in Turkey was less expensive than in the US, the alcohol was pricey. I stuck to local Turkish wine and beer, because cocktails were $15-$20! The Turkish reds weren’t too flavorful (although we had one or two good ones), but the roses and the whites were great. I’m not usually a rose girl, but I got into them on this trip. Side note: the bar below is called Mikla and had the most incredible views of the city. You MUST go for a drink if you are ever in Istanbul!

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The local beer, Efes, came in a dark variety that both Matt and I loved.

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We had many wonderful meals, and I obviously didn’t document all of them, but here are a few highlights:

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Meze by Lemon Tree (above). I choose this for our last night of the trip (we were back in Istanbul) because the menu is mostly modern mezes. We ordered 6 cold ones and 3 hot ones and every dish was incredible. It was phenomenal.

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Another great restaurant was Banyan in Ortakoy. Although this restaurant was Asian fusion and not Turkish, it had the most beautiful view of the water and I had to share the caramelized sea bass and quinoa shredded salad picture because it was probably the best salad I’ve ever had!

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Lastly, we had a really nice meal on our first night at a modern Turkish restaurant called Lokanta Maya

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Above are shredded wheat balls stuffed with feta and honey and below, fried zucchini.

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We also had fresh clams and more seabass!

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I think the Turkish food was my favorite part of the trip! After avoiding dairy for most of this year, the feta and yogurt tasted extra heavenly. Aside from being uncomfortably full some nights, I didn’t have any issues with bloating. I was religious about taking my probiotics while traveling, and I think they are making all the difference (either that or I’m just not stressed about finding a job anymore:) Anyway, I’m just so thankful that I was able to enjoy all the Turkish food and still feel pretty good!

I’ll share some pictures from Bodrum and Matt’s 30th next!

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