Thursday, September 28, 2017

Back to LoveLea!

Our trip to Lesbos was so refreshing and beneficial that I couldn't withhold my readers from my experience. So I spent 3 posts almost fully to our trip. By doing this I neglected to tell you about my leather work and it really occupies a big chunk of my world. This posts is almost fully dedicated to my leather activities.

For almost 3 weeks I didn't touch any leather. To get the hang of it again,  I started with some easy stuff, but easy doesn't mean ugly or unsightly or boring. Turkish people are very found of beads warding of the evil eye. Since I am in Turkey at the moment what more natural than creating such wards. I didn't created anything  against the evil eye before, because I couldn't find nice beads: I don't want to use plastic or acrylic beads. A couple weeks ago we went to Ayvalik and when we visit Ayvalik we always try to pay a visit to a marvelous store, Anatolian Arts ( The have beautiful ceramics, glassware, jewelry, too bad their website isn't up to the shop. There I found some glass evil eye ward off beads. They are rather big and showy and really need a simple necklace as to not distract from the bead. I made 3 simple ones, 2 with a slide knot and 1 with a closure. When I was a girl scout we learned how to tie this knot to secure our hat. My God, I loved that hat, I was so proud of my hat.

LoveLea leather necklace with blue evil eye bead and slide knot

Lovelea: leather necklace with orange evil eye bead and slide knot

Lovelea leather necklace with dark red bead

Remember my first post? I told you about my sister Lieve who got everything started. She mailed me a couple days ago for some cable holders. I made already some for her and now she needs bigger ones to hold her cell phone cable. The big one has a diameter of 19 cm, the smaller one 15. She is like me and likes things simple, pared down but with bright colors.

LoveLea: 2 leather cable holders. 

She is a faithful reader of my posts and my LoveLea facebookpage; she fell in love with a bracelet I posted there: nice yellow leather with a dashing white metal clasp favoring 2 serpent heads holding a closing circle within their mouths; I do the stitching by hand with good linen thread and it turns out just superb. The one I posted on my LoveLea facebookpage measures 22 cm and is too big. Now she has one custom made.

LoveLea: yellow leather bracelet with metal serpent head clasp

LoveLea: yellow leather bracelet with metal serpent head clasp, detail.
Pinterest (very dangerous website; impossible to just have a look) mailed me some pins yesterday, mostly about furoshiki bags. I had done some research about them a while ago and seeing all this colorful bags (I am a bag freak, all kinds of bags), they got my interest again. Furoshiki bags are just genius, simple but genius. Everything Japanese IS genius! I admire what they do so much! On my search for leather working tools, I came across some Japanese tools and they look fantastic and sophisticated; at the moment I don't want to spent a lot on tools, but when my business will rock the sky, definitely I will treat myself on some Japanese tools. In the coming week I want to learn more about furoshiki and will tell you all about it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Molyvos (or should I say Mithymna) and Filia

Molyvos or Mithymna

The city of Molyvos, near the sea, has two names: Molyvos and Mithymna. Molyvos is the name used during the Middle Ages or according to an other source: the name used during the Ottoman period. Nowadays you see mostly Mithymna but because I keep forgetting the modern name, I prefer using Molyvos.

Molyvos with its towering castle looks very inviting; you park your car just outside the city from where you have a magnificent view of the city.

Molyvos castle, Lesbos.

From there you take a small, narrow winding street up to the castle. (There is a car route directly to the castle and then you go down to visit the city, but this way is much more fun.)

Molyvos, winding street going up to the castle; courtesy of Suat Özönder

The winding and shaded streets remind me of Agiasos, a small town on the slope of Mount Olympos, at 475 m height, known for its pottery and woodwork. Molyvos too sells ceramics, among other things. I bought an oven dish some years ago and I love using it because of the colors, the shape and.... because it washes so easily, the food doesn't stick to it. Along the main winding street are restaurants with fabulous views, pastry shops, ceramics shops, postcard shops, the usual souvenir shops and the more refined ones,

Molyvos, Lesbos: view from a restaurant.

Molyvos, Lesbos: shaded streets selling souvenirs; courtesy of Suat Özönder

 and I left my heart at "Istos", an unpretentious shop from the outside, in the A. Kyriakos square. A young couple, both framers, run this shop selling all kinds of pictures and images, mostly of Lesbos, a lot of them impeccably  framed by the couple; I was so focused on the pictures, it was so terribly hot and the lack of time makes that I only remember clothes and some  mugs as other articles in the shop; their business cards says: hand-made Greek objects, but I couldn't tell you what else they had besides clothes and some mugs. You definitely should visit this shop when you are in Molyvos! and the square it is on is very picturesque and inviting. Molyvos has great and sophisticated shops!

A. Kyriakos Square at Molyvos, Lesbos
Mansion at A. Kyriakos square, Molyvos, Lesbos.

Do you love cutwork embroidery? I do! It is simple, yet sophisticated, it has a quiet but strong presence and is always elegant. Greeks like it also: their curtains are in it, their table cloths, even restaurants like "Kalderimi" in Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, use them.

Molyvos: cutwork embroidery

How about this one: a curtain in a restaurant we went to in November 2013 in Parga, Greece; a very very picturesque small city with a castle, a small monastery on a tiny island in the bay and many more.


We decided to take an other route back to the hotel and good for us, we found the small town of Filia on our road. At a small distance from the city, we got out of the car to take pictures of 2 very special houses along the road. They are a good example of the style of the houses in this town: natural stone and bricks are used and mixed together.

When we got out of the car and looked around, we saw that the city had a mosque; that meant that the city had a long history; we decided to pay Filia a visit. Entering from the side where the minaret stood, there was a nice surprise: we saw a small, lovely 3-arched bridge in true Ottoman style, obviously not in use any more even the riverbed was only faintly visible.  On our way back to the car, we crossed the senior in the picture; he just said: "Turk"! We were much intrigued by his spontaneous remark: was he a Turk, still living among Greeks? was he referring to the mosque? what did he mean? We tried to start a conversation, but obviously he only spoke Greek and we didn't get any more information out of him.

Filia: 3-arched Ottoman bridge; courtesy of Suat Özönder.

We parked the car and went for the minaret. It is mostly intact, the mosque too but is used as a warehouse. It was surrounded by a fence so we couldn't take good pictures or have a good view.

Filia: view of the mosque; courtesy of Suat Özönder.

On leaving the city, we saw that there was much more to see and decided to come back to visit Filia some other time in the future. 

Momardica charantina

 Momardica charantina or bitter melon, bitter gourd.

Have you ever seen this plant? Do you know this plant? It is the momardica charantina or the bitter melon or the bitter gourd. According to an ancient  Greek theory, the plant itself  tells us what you can use it for, what it benefits are. What does it looks like to you? Doesn't it resemble the inside of a stomach? Yes: if you cut the fruit in pieces, clean it from the powerful colored red and sticky seeds and let it steep in olive oil for some weeks, if you then take a table spoon of the mixture on an empty stomach, it'll heal your stomach problems; it is also good for the skin and contains antibiotics. This decorative fruit is ripe in this season and if you don't have them in your garden, maybe your neighbor has some to spare! I made a collage with the clear green leaves and a tiny yellow flower, that becomes a hard to discover green, unripe fruit; when it turns bright orange in September, it is ripe; dry the seeds, store them well to plant next year!

See you, Lesbos! 😢😢😢

Lesbos, as seen from Turkey at a wonderful sunset.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The austere Limonos Monastery near Kalloni

Go visit the Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

The Limonos Monastery, with its square, straight, masculine, rigorous  and unimaginative layout  is the opposite of the feminine, intimate, exuberant and straight forward  monastery of Mysionitissas. But the vegetation, the older buildings and the chapels in the environment give it a lot of charm.

Limonos Monastery complex, near Kalloni, Lesbos

The new building, a huge 2 floored square with the church in the middle of it and the well right next to it has integrated the old quarters, dating from the 16 century; you can visit the cell of it's founder, St Ignatios who started the monastery in 1526. Unfortunately at the moment most of the complex is uninhabited, only 3 monks live in this big monastery. It used to be a center of professional education.

The cell of St Ignatios, founder of the Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: upper floor of the old part  

The Limonos monastery has a very valuable museum with Byzantine and post Byzantine manuscripts, icons, documents, Ottoman ferman's, sacred vestments, liturgical vessels, holy relics and folkloric exhibits, manuscripts of the founder St Ignatios. It is forbidden to take pictures and they don't have a catalogue, which is a shame; I can't give any example of the beauty of the museum.

The  main church and the courtyard were forbidden for women, but this year, when we visited, they didn't seem to care and the writing, forbidding the women to enter, wasn't there any more. Thus I could visit the courtyard, but the church was closed to the public. Inside the church are images of animals and plants, so they say.This images are reflected in a wood carving: the church has a gallery on 2 sides and one of the wooden pillars supporting the gallery has a beautiful, sensual wood carving, showing a bee among leaves.
Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: wood carving in the church's gallery 

Outside the square are older quarters and courtyards where peacocks stroll around and their plaintive and shy cries for attention fill the air.  But they are very timide and I didn't get a picture of them.
Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: older part of the monastery outside the square

The monastery is constructed upon a very big plot and it is sewn with small chapels constructed by individuals who want to be near the monastery, spend their day in meditation, a small opportunity to live as a hermit. A chapel under construction proofs that this phenomenon, urge, need still exists.

Limonos Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos: one of the may chapels outside the enclosure

The golf of Gera

Lesbos has 2 big bays, actually they are more like inner seas. The big one is the Kalloni Bay and the small one is the Gera Bay. Both of the bays flow into the Aegean Sea. The Gera Golf is more picturesque with its summer houses on one side and woods, forests and some villages on the opposite side. Especially the point where the golf goes over into the sea is very lively and colorful, with a lot of traffic going on.

Confluence of the Gulf of Gera and the Aegean Sea
Sitting on a cliff and looking down at the different types of vessels is peaceful, soothing and interesting; seagulls follow the fishing boat, crying for food  and cormorants like to rest on a big rock before diving down to catch  their supper. We once counted how long a cormorant can stay under water and it was a little bit more than a minute. While atching, you have to be very attentive to discover where they come above water.

Golf of Gera, Lesbos: cormorants sitting on a rock

Turkey is just a couple of miles away and on a clear day you can see buildings, the sun reflecting in windows being opened, wind mills, etc. In fact, the distance between the island and Turkey is so small  even cell phones operate under their proper operator!

The Golf of Gera, Lesbos, flowing into the Aegean Sea with colorful, rusty fishing boat and Turkey in the background

I didn't intend to spent more than 1 week on telling about our trip to Lesbos, but there is so much to tell and to show about this fabulous island. Next week will be the last post about Lesbos: I have two more places to tell you about: Molyvos and Filia.


Now that we are back home, the neighbors visited, shopping and laundry done, the house cleaned, the garden tended, I found time to add some items to the shop of my fbpage: Lovelea. I made a collage out of leather bi-colored, minimalist but chic bracelets and a set of black leather choker and cuff in Western style, but you can  get them separated.The link to my fbpage LoveLea and my shop is on the left side of this post.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Still in Lesbos: mansions and monasteries

Mansions at Polychnitos

I'am a house freak, not every house, but old houses; whenever I see an old house, my blood rushes through my veins, my hart beats faster; their stones, wood, their energy makes me feel alive, makes me feel part of something bigger, that I am not alone. It makes me wonder about the people that lived there. And Lesbos is full of old, nice, small, stately or picturesque houses. Greek people love their houses, care for them. If you are like me, go visit the city of Polychnitos! The city is a collection of magnificent and more humbler mansions!

Mansion at Polychnitos

But this one is my favorite:have you ever seen a more striking front? I haven't. So simple and yet so impressive ànd humble; it says: here I am but in a very casual way, self-confident. Look at the color of the walls: pale cream that matches the pink stone, the cream of the walls blends with the green of the shutters! And the green of the shutters connects with the darker green of the pine tree.

Favorite house! 
Look at the pink color of the stones.

Birds at the Wetlands of Kalloni

The inner sea of Kalloni leaves land wet in the bay of Kalloni; this wet lands attract lots of birds, the salt pans in the bay provide food for flamingos and other birds;  we saw grey herons and white herons and some others birds, name unknown to me, We couldn't stop the car to take pictures of the herons but I was able to get some cute pictures of flamingos from the sturdy bird watching post.

Flamingos at the salt pans of Kallonis

2 Flamingos at the salt pans of Kalloni
Near the salt pans, there is a place where sheep graze; because of the heat, they huddle together in the shade. Can you imagine having wool in your stash from these sheep???? wouldn't it be great to knit a sweater with this different shades of black and brown and some white? This white sheep are really white, not cream, snow white!

Black, brown and white sheep at Lesbos

The Myrsiniotissas Monastery and Limonos Monastery near Kalloni, Lesbos

On the 5th day of our stay we visited 2 monasteries. The Myrsiniotissas Monastery is well hidden from the road. It is a nunnery with only 3 nuns left, so I was told ; we only saw one, an experience in itself! This monastery is very special to me because of its layout; it has 3 portals/gates each corresponding to different stages, each stage closer to the main church, closer to God. Outside of the monastery is a fountain and a small chapel; by a brown wooden door you enter the first courtyard, really only a paved court with its own chapel, a bit bigger than the chapel outside. Then comes another portal with a resting place before you enter the second courtyard and after you enter with flowers in containers.

Portals at the  Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos
and then the last gate where an piece of paper asks to be dressed decently. (It says: it is up to the visitors conscience what decent means! pretty democratic!). And this part is like paradise: on the left, the sunny side, are the most beautiful flowers in containers (what an awful job to water them!), on the right are rooms/cells  and in the middle the big church, the church for the nuns.

Most inner garden at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

The right side of this third part of the convent consist of 2 long row of rooms above each other; the rooms have windows looking towards the sea and only doors on the inner side. The open corridors are lined with chairs and sofas.

2 floors of cells at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

On the mountain side are much older rooms and small cell's, a space enclosed on 3 sides  with  an oven fed with wood and room for doing the laundry. When I descended the steps, leaving the oven behind me, I came eye to eye with a nun. I looked at her, surprised to see her because she was hidden by a wall. I looked at her and she looked at me, with inscrutable eyes and big glasses, then I moved my hand inviting her to go ahead and she went her way. I looked for a seat and sat down on a bench, next to my husband. I felt I had let go of a chance, I chance to get answers on all the questions in my head. I said: I should have spoken to her. He answered: why didn't you. I left and went up the same stairs my woman in black went, found the only room with an open door, shoes left outside on the door mat. I knocked on her open door, nothing, knocked again, no reaction, knocked a third time and then somewhere a phone rang and she came to her door. When she saw me, she stopped abrupt, looked at me; after 3 rings, the phone stopped, I think it was a code, you'll understand why I say this. Without thinking I used my hands instead of my voice, my index finger went between her and me; she kind of looked annoyed, didn't speak and then I moved 2 of my fingers over my mouth from left to right, meaning your mouth is closed? and she nodded her head and then I left. I had no right to bother her, I was in her home after all.

We left to visit the Limonos monastery, also very interesting but in another way. We had visited the place before, but wanted to visit it again. I want to take my time telling you about it, I ll leave this story for next week.

The event of the year (in my town), Pro's of having a dog, How I excorcise inspiration; My revamped quote!

The event of the year Last Friday it was my daughter's birthday and it was the first day of Suikerrock, a 3 day rock festival in our...

The event of the year (in my town), Pro's of having a dog, How I excorcise inspiration; My revamped