Friday, February 26, 2010

Tortalitza the Tortoise

Tortalitza  out of hibernation.

The weather is getting warmer and signs of spring are abundant. Almond trees are blossoming and my daffodils have bloomed. Another sign that it's getting warmer is that we can now find our tortoise "Tortalitza" roaming around the garden. She's come out of hibernation and is now ready to eat my lettuces once again. Whenever I plant any variety of lettuce she prefers it to the other green plants or weeds that I'm not growing to eat.  Izabella is so happy spending time with her tortoise and by now it seems the tortoise is happy to see her. Foti has a tortoise named "Skorouli" but he's a little more evasive and difficult to find. Maybe he's still hibernating, hopefully we'll find him soon because the property needs to be tilled. 

Izabella took her to visit the neighbors & she peeks from her temporary confines. I do think she's adorable. 

Tortalitza is a Spur-thighed/Greek tortoise. You can find tortoises wandering the countryside and often stopping traffic. We don't take special care of her since we let her live in a natural environment in our garden. Although, we do make sure that there's always water available and that she's locked safely in her portion of the garden. If she wanders away from her enclosed space, Tarzan gets a hold of her and chews on her shell as well as tosses her around like a ball. We found Tarzan with her last year and he seriously damaged her shell. You can see the damage that he incurred in the first photo. She's healed well and again, we need to keep her out of his reach. 

Izabellae enjoys Tortalitza's company

Our weather forecast for the weekend is fantastic (15 C/59 F) and we're planning to spend most of our time outside and Izabella will most definitely be enjoying the company of her tortoise. There's a lot to look forward to. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy 101 Award

Happy 101 Award

I can't think of a better way to start my  week than sharing an award that I received from one of my blog friends, Bhavesh Chhatbar.His blog is called Blog.  Bhavesh is an avid photographer as well as a fantastic blogger. His photos are amazing!  Recently he has started a new site where his photographs are available for purchase. I think it's a wonderful idea and I wish him the best of luck with his new venture! And there's more,  if you love his photos you can subscribe to Wednesday Wallpapers. Subscribers will receive one free wallpaper every Wednesday. Another excellent idea! Thank you for this award Bhavesh, you're an inspiration and I'm humbled by your gesture.

Now on to the formalities of accepting this award...

There are some rules with the award:
1. Copy the award image into a post.
2. List 10 things that make you happy.
3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day.
4. Link to their blogs.
5. Notify the award recipients.
6. Award recipients link back to sender's blog.

10 things that make me happy

1. My family & friends-a given. My family is my life & I can't imagine it without friends.
2. Photography-I feel like I can't breathe if my camera isn't with me. Seriously.
3. My pets-my 2 dogs!!
4. Traveling-love new people, places & experiences.
5. Gardening-love growing my own food & enjoying my flowers.
6. Music- would do anything for a live mariachi band right now.
7. Food-my favorite is Mexican!
8. The Arts-all arts!~ Especially the theater.
9.  The sea-a day on a quiet beach is so therapeutic.
10. Blogging-without blogging I wouldn't have met so many remarkable people or made such wonderfully,  fantastic friends!

10 Bloggers That Brighten My Day

1. Jes- Prospero's Cellphone
2. Liz- The making of
3. Jude- Caridad in Crete
4. Maria- Organically Cooked
5. Tobias- tobias cooks! 
6. Spuds- Carrying a Cat by the Tail
7. Gingeyginge- The Adventures of Gingeyginge
8. Krisno- My Life, My Sharing
9. Ivy- Kopiaste.. to Greek Hospitality
10. Phivos-Travelling-ταξίδια & Phivos Nicolaides

I wish I could have chosen more than 10!

Finally, here's the link to the post in which Bhavesh passed on the award- Blog: Happy 101 Award

Thank you Bhavesh!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kozani Apokries/Carnival 2010- part 2

Our carnival adventures on Saturday were fantastic and the weather wasn't uncomfortable. For some reason, the weather forecast wasn't discussed before our trip and nothing was said on Saturday, which isn't normal. We're always talking about the weather and what to anticipate. I think  that we were so wrapped up in the event and keeping the kids entertained that we forgot about the weather.  The photo above was taken early Sunday as I was taking Gigi for her morning walk. The streets were quiet, clean and nearly empty. The weather was mild. 
I returned from our walk and sat down with a cup of coffee and the next thing that I noticed was that it was snowing. Fantastic! The kids love snow and so do I!
As the time passed and the parade was about to begin we were a little concerned only because none of us had the proper shoes for this kind of snow. It was coming down fast and it was a very wet snow, everything was getting wet. We didn't change our plans but we were worried about just how long we would last. 

 This is what it looked like as we ventured out to watch the parade. What a difference a few hours can make! It's the same street that I had photographed early that morning. 

Snow-covered carnival decorations. 

Nearing the center. 

A "big wig" enjoying souvlaki as he walks in the snow. 

 In the center just before parade time. 

A balloon vendor seeks relief from the snow. 

The first parade float...a giant cigar-smoking cupid. 

Children dressed as Christmas trees. The snow was a great prop for this costume. 

Cute costume! 

Despite the wet snow the dancing continued.

These women were having so much fun. They would run out into the street and dance during the parade. Their enthusiasm was infectious! 

The man in the pink wig is the last of the very few photos that I took at the parade because we didn't stay long since we were all soaked and my camera was getting wet. We left the parade early to go home and change our clothes and watch the remainder of the parade on TV. 
Having dried off,  we ate a great dinner and napped so that we would be ready to visit the Fanoi later that night. 

A man drinking wine that was offered at the fanos. He was one of many that led the dancing & singing around the fire. 

A little snow doesn't bother me and  I still  enjoyed dancing around the fire.

The band at a fanos.

Enjoying a complimentary tiropita while taking a break from dancing. See the man with the plate behind me? He was offering the pies. 

After dancing at three separate fanoi, we stopped for some souvlaki

While we waited for our souvlaki, I heard a "Ho Ho Ho" in my ear and received a nudge on my shoulder. Why, it was Santa Claus offering free wine. Thank you Santa, you are too kind!
Finished with our souvlaki, we tucked into a local bar filled with familiar faces for a few more beverages. Our coats and hats were wet and we were still shivering but we managed to enjoy a few more hours of carnival before we headed home to change into warm, dry clothes and finally, get some rest. Despite the snow we had a wonderful time. 


Watch this video to see how much fun it is to dance around a fanos!


Leaving Kozani ,we had a beautiful view of snow-sprinkled mountains

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kozani Apokries/Carnival 2010-part 1

Last Friday, if you were to ask me what we were doing over the weekend I would have told you that I was resting, recovering from the flu. I wasn't going anywhere and I probably didn't want to see anyone. I had a fever, made myself soup and took refuge under my covers, no plans of emerging for a few days. was the final weekend of Apokries/carnival and my kids wanted to go to visit their yia yia and enjoy the festivities in Kozani as is our family tradition. So, Saturday morning I woke up feeling better and let the kids know I would be willing to go out of town for the weekend. I packed our bags and we headed out. 
Typically, I take hundreds of photos and it's hard for me to choose which ones to share. Because of this I've decided that I'll start this post with what we experienced on Saturday and will post the events of Sunday separately. So here's  a bit of what happened Saturday (Feb. 13)...

Shortly after we arrived we went out shopping. Izabella still didn't have a wig and we knew we'd find one in Kozani. We were met by the first of many travelling bands accompanied by dancing men. I love this! These bands have been parading through Kozani for the entire week, from morning until night. 

The streets are full of costume shops and all of them have funky mannequins modeling carnival accessories. I think I'll use the above photo as a profile picture in the future. Sleek...

A shot inside one shop. We did find a wig for Izabella and she was thrilled. 

Before she wore her wig she had to try on my mask. 

Here she is, our little Hannah Montana

And naturally, all of us had to try on the wig. In fact, it caused a bit of a problem...Alexandra HAD to have one. So, my sister-in-law set out with her to find the same one. Unfortunately, we bought the last one of its kind and Alexandra didn't want anything else. After two trips to the costume shop, we found our little doll a wig that was suitable for her...

and here she is. She loves this wig and wouldn't take it off for two days. She even embraced the wig as she slept. I think it's hilarious. 

Back to the carnival...
Fanoi were lit on Saturday and of course there was live music and dancing around the fire. 

This guy delived  a fanos and  free tiropitas (cheese pie).  It's traditional for tiropita to be offered at each fanos.  I was told that this is the fourth year that there was a travelling fanos, bringing the fire to different neighborhoods.  What a great idea! 

My favorite part of carnival every year is watching dancers in traditional costumes. I love the festive atmosphere. 

A crowd gathers in the center to enjoy the live entertainment.

 I call this Izabella's paparazzi shot. She looks like a celebrity ducking the camera! 

There was a giant green gummy bear. If you don't know this annoying gummy bear by now, here's a link to a video. The kids love this bear and can play the gummy bear song for hours. It's torture. 

Cotton candy & lollipops.

Who doesn't love cotton candy? 

Myself with my little blondes! 
We were out for a few hours but decided to stay in for the remainder of the night because we wanted to rest for the parade and other parties on Sunday. Although, we didn't get much sleep since my in-laws live right in the center and the music didn't stop until sunrise. Live bands, bars, party goers, fireworks and horns all night. Even if I didn't sleep, I didn't  mind since I'm finally used to it and it's part of the experience. 

Here's my little Jedi on Sunday morning. Things started to get messy!
To be continued...

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day I'll simply share one of my favorite songs, sung by one of my favorite singers. 

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carnival/Apokries Party

Last Thursday, Carnival/Apokries started in Greece. It's one of my favorite times in Greece because it's another reason for the kids to get dressed up. We attended our first party last weekend and the kids had a great time. I loved it because I was able to sit back, sip coffee and have an adult conversation as I watched the kids dance and play with their friends. 

The entertainer that was hired for the party was excellent! She kept a room full of kids entertained for more than two hours. I made sure to get her number for our future parties. She's perfect!

Even Foti enjoyed dancing, which is rare. He wore his Anakin Skywalker costume complete with his lightsaber. 

Anakin Skywalker!

The costumes were so colorful. Girls typically wear frilly, princess- type dresses. All of the girls looked very pretty.

Although we have a lot of princess costumes, Izabella chose to wear her rock star costume. She's officially obsessed with Hannah Montana. Because we still haven't found her a blonde wig, she asked if we could color her hair. I thought that was pretty cute, but the anwer is "no". We'll keep looking for a wig!

Alexandra wore her ladybug costume. She danced and twirled all night! 

My munchkins had a blast throwing streamers and confetti at me all night. I think that I was probably the only mother allowing my kids to cover me with confetti again and again. They laughed so hard  that I couldn't refuse.  Remnants of the party were my hair, in my purse, in the car, in my shoes and even  in my kitchen. 

 At the end of the night... 
We were very  tired and ready to go home, eat some popcorn and watch a short movie. This party was fantastic and we're looking forward to more celebrations this weekend. Maybe I'll even wear a costume, who knows?