Jun 22, 2009

Let Him Eat Cake

The other day I realized that Derek never officially had a Birthday cake since we were out of town and in good wifely fashion I decided to whip something up...OK whip something up is an understatement I found out about the world of Fondant Cake Making! 
Now, because the cake was #1 my first attempt at Fondant and #2 the most time I have EVER spent on making a cake I felt it was blog worthy.

Happy be-lated Birthday Derek!

P.s Don't click to enlarge the image, it is like an impressionistic painting. From far away it is Ok but up close it is a big mess.

p.p.s You enlarged it anyway didn't you

Jun 19, 2009


Istanbul, Turkey
 OK of all of the places thus far that I have been to Istanbul is by far one of the coolest, in my opinion. It has something like a 80% Muslim population so Mosques are as abundant as LDS Chapels in Utah. There is nothing like falling asleep to the soothing sound of a prayer blasting through the city.
Plus the Art History nerd came out in me as I was able to see some historical sights that I never dreamed I would get the chance to see.

Above is us at the Blue Mosque and below we are in front of Hagia Sophia! Now I will openly admit that I got a little bit teary eyed when we first saw Hagia Sophia.  I know, I know,  I should get out more if seeing a church gets me that excited,  it sure makes me sound like a BLAST to hang out with... poor Derek got himself a bit of a geeky wife.

This is the Evil Eye that is seen everywhere in the city. People believe it keeps bad karma away so they have these eyes hanging on their jewelry, in their doorways, key chains, on china, pretty much anywhere you can think of.

The best and real reason why we came was for the opening of NuSkin Turkey! Sueda and Murrat have been working very hard for the past 15 months to get the country open and now it finally has all payed off. Derek is on stage below giving the worlds best spiel.

Check out all of the upline support that flew in from all over

Another pic to add onto the funny sign portion of the trip. 
All across Europe cigarette companies have to put  huge caution labels on the boxes that inform people of smoking hazards. This was Murrat's subtle reminder

Below Sueda and Murrat are signing up Ali Shen the self proclaimed "Tiger" of NuSkin Turkey

The second portion of the trip I realized after reviewing the pictures I took consisted of me eating and taking pictures of the food but with names like Turkish Delight you know it is bound to be great


For our 11 hour flight back to NYC we scored first class seats making it a  great ending to a great 18 day trip.
Me rocking the fully reclined chair and movie portion of the flight, oh and an entertaining read for those looking was My Sister's Keeper,  it will definitely suck you in.

Derek after dinner, note the table cloth that they place on the trays. Now that's fine dining

Of course the socks that come with the first class package, I am wearing a couple pairs so don't think that my feet are really that stubby and square.

It feels really great to be home or at least to be able to wash and wear clean clothes.  For trip details ask Derek about how many times we had to drive back to cities and towns to pick up left items, or about the off the wall hotels we stayed in and homeless friends we made along the way in Metros. Really to sum up this trip I am with Lady Gaga, "Da da doo-doo-mmm just dance!"

Jun 14, 2009



Tiblisi, Georgia

We took the overnight train from Armenia to Georgia. The train ride totaled about 14 hours long which is not bad considering the train got up to a good 45 mph! The train ride simply was like the worlds slowest train wreck with shaking, screeching, and bending and it lasted all night long as if to echo the sound of the failing Titanic. It was fun to do once but one time is all I would recommend again to echo seeing the film version of the Titanic which is good to see once.

Lucky me I got top bunk

The Toilet that emptied onto the tracks

This was some of the scenery we saw on our way, look at all those sheep!

First thing that the missionaries in Armenia told us was that there is a McDonalds in Georgia!

The best part about the McDonald's was their version of a drive through Window. Now you don't have to bother with opening a door to order you can just walk right up to an outside window (walk through window) and order your food! 

Being in a foreign country is always entertaining when it comes to reading how signs and menus have been translated. Below are a few favorites of the Georgian Cuisine and street signs.

Just in case you got lost on your way up one of the 4 stairs to the Whiskey house they had these helpful signs. One more subtle suggestion and Derek might have gone all the way inside.

The city was really beautiful! It had several mosques and churches all within walking distances complete with all the flavor and history that one could hope for.

We had a day of flee market shopping where we were able to buy some fabulous paintings that were fabulously priced! My best find was this 1950's Soviet Camera called a Kiev. You may not know but I have a weakness for old quirky cameras like the Holga, pinhole cameras, or Diana's. I just absolutely love them! Here I find this crazy Soviet camera in a flee market and take a chance on it not knowing whether it works or not. We spent the whole day shooting with it and to my delight we develop the roll and find that it actually works! Best day ever!

One big tourist attraction in Tiblisi is the Sulphur Baths. I know right how can you relax to the smell of sulphur but we did it and got their version of a massage along with a full body exfoliation, done with a rough glove that literally smelt like a foot.



We were here for Derek's 24th Birthday! So, what he wanted to do more than anything was  #1 go on a hike #2 use his SteriPEN. So, we hiked to the top of this Church which had a spring at the top and we also found it is the Georgian version of Temple Square . When we got to the top there were about 7 brides running around getting their photos taken. 
For the extended story of the hike ask me later about stumbling into a Georgian military outpost, complete with soldiers and fox holes...

In the church they gave me a scarf to cover my head with and I asked out of curiosity why they do this and they said, "Because Mary did." Good enough for me, so I tie it on bandanna style before I look around and see that there is a very chic way to wear the scarf...I guess it's the Pirate in me

Next we are off to our last part of the journey in Istanbul, Turkey for the opening of NuSkin Turkey!

Jun 10, 2009


 Telling people we are in Armenia is kind of like "Where's Waldo" most people have no idea where we are or why, but we are back to Derek's mission!  The picture above is of Mount Ararat it is now in present day Turkey but is known as the mountain on which Noah landed the Arc and it is our view from our first hotel.

 Yerevan is the capitol city of Armenia and it was our first stop. The Soviet Union is still pretty prevalent in its influence here from all of the soviet statues that are placed all over to promote country pride to the very Russian food. Above we are next to the Mother of Armenia statue and below Derek is eating one of his favorite dishes, Khachapuri! Another thing about Armenia is they use a system of traveling called Marchutinis. They are van's that become packed with people commuting... and smelling their best.


A growing awareness in the media has been on the Armenian Genocide that occurred on 1915.  Somewhere around one and a half million Armenians where killed by varied techniques that later Nazi Germany would use in their own holocaust. The museum there was a very sobering experience and below is the monument they made for all those who fell victim.

Armenia is full of beautiful churches and you can bet I made Derek take me to the majority of them.

The next part of trip was us road tripping it across the country! Thanks to two members that let us rent their car, Jora and his brother Valer. This is us just leaving the city.

Here come all of those Church Pictures. Armenians pride themselves on being the first Christian nation in 301 A.D

We went to another church that is situated on an island surrounded by Lake Sevan. Derek could never swim as a missionary now he is getting ready to strip and try out the water.

Ok this lake translated means "Clear Lake" although it was not that clear. But one of the Birthday presents I let Derek buy himself was a new water purifying devise called a SteriPEN. In short, it's a pen type thing that uses UV light to purify water. After Derek explained all this to some Armenian guy he of course dares Derek to try purifying the lake water... Thinking that this pen sounds like some kind of scam... So Derek does it. He said it still tasted like lake water but he was excited that it was now drinkable. 

Feeding some ducks. 

We went to visit some people here in an area of town where everyone lives in sheds called Domiks. They have been living here since 1988 when an earthquake forced them to leave their homes. 


Another stop on the road trip was Garni. This pagan temple is found in a town that just celebrated its 4170th year birthday. It's crazy to be in a place with that kind of history!

Derek made me hike up to this spot with him for a picnic. It would have been great had the wind not almost carried me away. Here's Derek holding me down...

Armenia is full of inspirational pastoral settings.

Our hotels were all over the spectrum. This is one of the highs...
It is called the Tufenkian Hotel, very posh and after the other places we stayed it felt like a palace!


These holes in the ground are storage units that were used by the church for their food and drinks. 
Derek of course had to hop in one...because he is a boy


I was trying to get warm  in the little sunlight that I had, those churches are surprisingly cold  so I look a little more enlightened that I actually am


I will leave you with a scenic shot as I could only show you some of the highlights of the trip and had to leave out many hilarious stories. Our next part of the adventure begins on an overnight train  to Tiblisi, Georgia where will we be for the next 6 days!