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New Year Pinhole Exchange

pinhole exchange

I participated in a New Year Pinhole Exchange this year.

You have the option to choose who you want to send pinholes to, or you can choose to send xx number to a random selection of photographers. I chose the latter. I had the computer choose 20 random pinhole photographers.

I received these gorgeous pinholes so far and had the great pleasure of finding lots of new pinhole photographers that I didn’t know.

I can’t wait to participate again next year!!

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Istanbul Coffee Festival, CupsOn.Me, and MOC

My friends and I went to the Istanbul Coffee Festival a few weeks ago and had a great time. I’m more of a tea drinker, but I enjoy the occasional frothy cappuccino or iced americano. It was in Karaköy at the Galata Greek School, built in the late 19th Century (the building was gorgeous!).  There were samples galore, coffee inspired art, live jazz, a handmade market, and even a blackout. Most of the cafes inside were brewing coffee mad scientist style and I loved looking at the contraptions.

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During the blackout we talked to a woman from CupsOn.Me, an app that shows you where the nearest cafe is located, and allows you to generously buy a cup of coffee for a friend. I’m not sure how that part works, but I think the friend would get an electronic coupon. If you’re buying for me, I like tea (çay), hot chocolate (sıcak çikolata), cappuccino, and iced americano’s!

Yesterday a friend and I tried a new (to us) cafe in Beşiktaş but it was freezing inside and they didn’t have what we wanted to order so we left. I used the CupsOn.Me app to see what was around us. I saw MOC (Ministry of Coffee) which is one of the places we tried at the Istanbul Coffee Festival, so we headed there. It was perfect! It was warm and inviting, great atmosphere, we were surrounded by gorgeous people, the balcony was ideal for people watching, stray dogs wandered in and out all day, delicious food (I had a Spanish omelet and carrot cake, my friend had avocado toast and a chocolate tort), good wifi, and the jasmine green tea was the best I’ve ever had. MOC has definitely earned a spot on my cafe rotation. 

…back to the coffee festival.


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There was one thing we tried that was absolutely terrible, one sip was all we could handle before seeking out the nearest trashcan. Nitro Brew, a coffee brewed like beer. It was the first thing we tried and from the photo you can see we shared a small toast, anticipating something delicious. I dare say, try it at your own risk.

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I went to the seaside this morning hoping to pinhole super thick can’t see in front of your face fog, but there wasn’t any. Instead I found millions and millions and millions of sleeping jellyfish nestled between the boats and the sidewalk.

Eyes wide with delight, I was oohing and aaahing up and down the seaside, and all the fishermen were smiling and saying günaydın (good morning in Turkish). Oh, I left China, and moved to Istanbul…I know it’s been a while since I blogged.

Such a magical morning!

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The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

I finally made it to The Great Wall in China. For the rest of my life when people ask, “Oh, you lived in China. Did you go to The  Great Wall?”, I can finally say YES! It only took me 3 years to get there, but I made it!

It was exactly as I imagined, an impressive masterpiece. Walking on history, we climbed the steps of one of the most famous structures ever built. I recalled the days when the existence of  The Great Wall was the most I knew about China.

Friends advised that we hire a driver (700RMB, roundtrip), go to Mutianyu, and get there early. It would also be my recommendation to you. The drive was about 90 minutes, through small towns and fruit orchards, and at 8:30 it was quiet and calm. The air crisp, the crowds not yet arrived. In a word, perfect!

We took the cable car to the top, turned right and walked to the end of the wall, looked at the unrestored part overgrown with trees standing like proud soldiers, walked back, AND took an awesome toboggan down! I recommend waiting as long as you can after the person in front of you, the more space between you and the person in front of you, the faster you can go!

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu
That’s the unrestored part of the wall.



The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall at Mutianyu



Things to remember:

*I recommend hiring a driver to take you there. It’s about 700RMB, depending on who you get. The driver will wait for you so you can stay for as long or as little as you like. Your friends in Beijing or your hotel can help arrange this for you.
*Arrive early to avoid crowds.
*Wear comfy shoes, there are a lot of steps!
*At Mutianyu, you can go left or right after the cable car. Left is easier, right is more difficult. If you go right and walk to the end you can see the unrestored part of the wall.
*Even when buying water you must haggle or you will be charged 10RMB for 1 bottle (outrageous!!). Don’t pay more than 5RMB for a bottle.

*When taking the toboggan down, wait as long as you can before taking off. The more space between you and the person in front of you, the faster you can go, go, gooooooooo!!!!!


Dr. Ho, Chinese Medicine Man


Dr. Ho, 91 year old Chinese medicine man in Baisha, China, posed for a pinhole portrait!


I was traveling through Yunnan Province and that morning had received some potentially sad news that someone very dear to me might have cancer… again (turns out she didn’t!!). During breakfast I was inquiring about what to do in Baisha, and my hotel told me about Dr. Ho, who will let me touch his baby soft skin, and has cured many diseases, including cancer.


While meandering around the tiny village of Baisha, I found him and his lovely wife. When I arrived he was showing off his German language skills to a German family. His wife was sitting on a bench along the wall and Dr. Ho was the star of the show. Before I could tell him about my friend, he started pointed out articles framed on his wall, his backyard, and his baby soft skin! He was such a delightful man.

Once I told him about my friend he got to work on making a 3 month supply of tea straight away. All tea ingredients are found in his backyard garden and on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Watching him work was an an experience I hadn’t imagine I’d have in China. His workroom walls were lined with powered herbs and secret ingredients. I can still smell that wonderful Chinese Medicine smell!!

He gave me the tea with instructions, a way to reorder, and left me with the advice that smiling and being happy is the best medicine. If you’re interested in learning Chinese medicine and acupuncture, he takes the occasional student!
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Lian Hua Shan Park

Today I walked through Lian Hua Shan Park (Lotus Flower Mountain Park), with my friend and her husband. We were doing a pinhole maternity shoot, but I managed to snap a few photos along the way.

When we reached the top the sky was so interesting.


It was threatening to rain the whole morning, but we only got caught in one shower, and it was so beautiful to watch the rain fall on the lake and lotus flowers.



On our way out of the park, I saw one of those Chinese things I only hear about. Getting married here is a big deal, and it must be done at a young age. Soooo parents and grandparents will post ads in parks to grab the attention of other parents looking for their single children. So crazy!





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From my iPhone

Wow! I’m moving up in the world. I’m writing this blog from my iPhone. Technology is crazy wonderful.

I haven’t been blogging, but life has definitely moving at lightening speeds.

I had a goal of scoring more than 550 in WWF. Can you believe it!!! I did it!!! Now I have to get over 600 points. Also at this very moment, I have won the last 10 out of 10 games. If you want to play with me, I’m daisyjellybean.