Tag Archives: Istanbul

Long Time Gone

17 May

I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy lately.  Being a SAHM (stay at home mom) and being a SAHM in Turkey is making me lose my mind! I’m feeling isolated and bored.  My good brain cells are fluttering away.  I can barely put a decent sentence together for my blog.  So yes, I’ve been a Debbie Downer.  Now it’s time to take my mother’s favorite advice and put it into action.  

In 8th grade, when I was sooooo depressed about being away from first boyfriend for the summer, Kay suggested I find 5 positive things about my day and write them down. To this day, when I start whining about my life she says, “Ann write down your positive things.” I’ve decided to kick Kay’s idea up a notch.   It’s going to be my positive photo diary.  Simply, I’m going to take pictures of things that make me happy throughout the day.  Now I just wish I could get a picture of my neighbor who always wears the most amazing wolf jacket.  It’s like something you’d see in Montana.  I’ve never seen another Turk with anything like it!  

Here are my entries in my Positive Photo Diary for today:

Vibrant Orange Flowers

Vibrant Orange Flowers

Beautiful flowers in our garden

Beautiful flowers in our garden

Giant flags blowing in the wind

Giant flags blowing in the wind


First Impressions

20 Sep

I’ve lived in Turkey for a little over three years and I still can’t speak Turkish.  It’s a bit embarrassing.  Now that I’m home with Willy Wonka I thought I might take some Turkish lessons.  It could be fun to shock my in-laws with a few ACTUAL Turkish sentences.  Right now I just throw a few words together and gesture a lot.  It’s like I’m constantly playing a game of charades.  So today I decided to look back on my old Turkish notebook.  It’s a big mess of Turkish vocabulary and grammar paired with a few journal entries from when I first moved to Turkey.  Here are a few of my first impressions of Turkey from when in I lived in Antalya.

June 13, 2009

Who knows if I can make it here for another six months or even a year.  I will try my hardest but everything is what you make of it.  Some thoughts:

My teeth are getting stained.  It’s gross, but I can’t stop drinking khave and çay (tea and coffee).  Good thing I know the word beyaz (white), so I can ask for the “beyazing” strips at the store.

Turkish food is AMAZING.  I just wish EVERYTHING wasn’t tainted with parsley.  I’m really into lamb chops, yogurt, rice, salad, and most of the other food.  It just seems all the restaurants serve the same thing.  Here there is a standard, it just varies in quality from place to place.  Someone needs to find something crazy to do with köfte (meatballs).  Finally, the desserts need some revamping.  Give me chocolate!

Traditional women who work in the fields appear all the same.  All have extremely colorful cotton pants, a mismatched shirt, and a head scarf.  Typically they are overweight although it looks like they’ve been on their feet for too many hours or carried too much weight. They walk like they are in pain.  Their leg bone structure resemble the St. Louis Arch or like they’ve just been on a very long horse ride.

I still haven’t found a moment to cook Turkish food this week. I do now realize there is a wonderful variety of Turkish food.  Parsley has grown on me, although I do prefer that people use it in moderation.  There are also many ways to cook kofte.  

One of my favorite old pictures. A few guys just sharing some raki. They found a way to beat the heat.

Small Goals

17 Sep

Babies eat all your “you” time (duhhhhh).  I’m lucky if I can peacefully use the bathroom during the day.  If the baby isn’t crying while I’m in the loo one of my animals wants to join me.  I guess they figure it is a great time to be pet.  So by 2 pm I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing but haven’t had a moment just to relax.  I need to start charting my activities. What am I doing from 8 am to 2 pm? Rather than making grand plans for the day I pick one “me” thing I want to achieve.  Showering doesn’t count, although it should because it’s not an easy task with a baby.  I am mastering the skill of doing my make-up with one hand; eyeliner is still challenging. 

 Today I my “me” goal was to finish Willy Wonka’s memory jar.  For a few weeks I’ve been writing memories and milestones with the date on small papers and putting them in a jar.  I’ve got a pen and precut papers in the jar to make things easy.  When the jar starts to fill I’ll take out the papers and paste them into his scrapbook (which hasn’t been started).  As I kid I always wanted to hear funny stories about when I was a baby so hopefully this will  be entertaining for Willy Wonka when he is older (or terribly embarrassing).  Here are the pictures of his finished jar. 

Willy Wonka’s Memory Jar

Background paper from a H&M gift box.

Carrot and Apricot Rolls

15 Sep

Last year I took a Turkish cooking class.  It was only one day but we made many of the classics; two different types of dolma (stuffed graped leaves and stuffed zuchinni), mucver (zuchinni fritters), borek, apricots filled with clotted cream, and many salads. Our instructor had a large personality and didn’t hesitate to scold us if our technique wasn’t correct.  She was also a bit baffled that my friend and I didn’t know any Turkish dishes to cook for our Turkish significant others.  We couldn’t speak Turkish, FAIL. We couldn’t cook Turkish, FAIL.  I’m sure our instructor was wondering what these Turkish boys were doing with girls like us.  Luckily there was wine at the end of the lesson and all our short-comings as future Turkish wives were forgotten.

So I’ve made it my mission cook one Turkish dish a week and coban salad (tomato, cucumber, onion, lemon, oil) doesn’t count.  I invited my cooking class companion over this week to help me with my first week as “Turkish Chef!”  The recipe I picked is from Turkish Meze by Ghillie Basan.  This book is full of outstanding mezes (small plates) and the photographs are mouthwatering.

Turkish Meze by Ghillie Basan


8-10 carrots, cut into thick slices

2-3 slices of day old bread, ground into crumbs

4 scallions

½ cup of dried apricots finely chopped

3 tbsp pine nuts

1 egg

1tsp of Turkish red pepper

1 bunch dill chopped

1 bunch basil chopped

salt and pepper

flour for coating and oil for frying

Mint Yogurt (combine all):

1 cup thick plain yogurt

Juice of ½ lemon

1 large clove of garlic minced

1 bunch of fresh mint finely chopped

Steam the carrots until soft enough to mash

Attempting to make bread crumbs. Cooking isn’t easy with a baby!

Bread crumbs, scallions, and apricots

My co-pilot on this mission.

Mash the carrots and combine with all the ingredients. The colors are fantastic.

Form into rolls, balls, small patties (whatever you want) and fry for 8 minutes.

Here is the embarrassing part; my picture of the final product is just awful.  I was holding a fussy baby and with the potential for screams to erupt at any moment I couldn’t focus my iphone properly. So here is the blurry finished product.  

A really bad photo of a really yummy thing!

I’ll be making these little rolls again. With all the fresh herbs and apricots the fried rolls really pop in your mouth.  The mint yogurt sauce was beyond delicious.  I’ll make it just to slather on other things such as kofte (meatballs).

DIY: Owls

11 Sep

Owls are the new “it” thing for baby rooms.  There are so many owl themed nurseries, toys, and crafts.  For Willy Wonka’s nursery I had to resist being sucked in by all the owly stuff, but for my first (and only) diy project I caught owl fever.  Here is a picture of the adorable mobile by craftschmaft.com. 

Owl Mobile from CraftSchmaft.com
$9 downloadable pattern

The mobile uses tiny baby socks.  I searched the Internet for days for something brightly colored.  I’m not talented in the craft department; usually my projects look less professional and more kiddish. My owls aren’t perfect, but I still find them charming.  Sadly I’ve yet to hang my finished mobile in Willy Wonka’s room.  He has birds over his bed so the owls will go over his bookcase.  I just need to convince my husband to bust out the drill (cement walls in Turkey). Here are my finished owls:

Willy Wonka’s brightly colored owls

Interesting tid bit.  I was showing the girls at school all the cute owl themed things.  They weren’t quite as enthused because owls here are bad luck.  An owl hooting on a roof means that bad luck or death will come to your family.  OH BOY I can’t wait to dress Willy Wonka in his owl patterned onsie, everyone in the mall will go running.

Old Navy One-Piece. I can’t wait for Willy Wonka to rock this!

Imported from the good ol’ US of A!

10 Sep

I went to the US in January of 2012 and shopped my pants off.  After visiting a few Turkish baby stores (ebebek, Joker) and comparing prices on amazon.com, I realized prices were out of control in Turkey.  For example the Bumbo chair, US cost is around $35 and in Turkey it’s 124 TL (conversion 1.8 TL to $1).  I also couldn’t find certain products in the Turkish stores such as Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads.  So I made the “smart” decision to do the bulk of my baby purchases in the United States.  I went order crazy.  A stroller and car seat combo, a bathtub, a Bumbo chair, bottles, bottle dryer, ear thermometer, clothes, an Ergo carrier, and the list went on. 

 By now you’re asking yourself how was I going to get all these wonderful things to Turkey?  I do get two free checked bags, but those obviously weren’t going to fit all my purchases.  Luckily my FIL “knows” someone at a well-known shipping company who could help us maneuver the costs.  Wahoo!  I continued to shop.  It must be noted that I asked multiple times my limit on number of boxes and the size of boxes that I could ship.  Each time I received the same answer, “whatever you want.”  Well with that answer I continued to shop. So a few days before my return trip I went to buy the boxes; I needed some really BIG boxes. The largest box could was similar to a coffin for a short person. I packed in all my baby goodies, filled out the paperwork for customs (yes of course the value of all these items is only $100), and taped them shut.

Just a bit of the loot

 My extremely kind father broke his back carrying the 50+ pound boxes to the nearest shipping store and I headed back to Turkey.  I was so excited to get the boxes that I stalked their every move on the Internet.  Finally they arrived!  Nothing was lost in transit and I had totally outsmarted the extremely overpriced Turkish baby stores! Or had I?  As the boxes arrived in Turkey our connection at the well-known shipping company decided that coffin sized boxes were a bit over his “hook-up” limit.  We were now faced with a 3,000 something Turkish Lira bill.  OH NO, OH NO, OH NO!!!!! Luckily my FIL came to rescue, after all I had asked multiple times about my shipping restrictions . . .

Here are a few of the amazing items I can’t live without for Baby Willy Wonka!  It’s time for some product promotion!

Why did it take me until Willy Wonka was five weeks to purchase the Halo sleep sack?  It keeps him asleep and therefore gets me more sleep! My parents think he is going to be an Irish dancer because his arms are always pinned down to his sides. Riverdance here we come! 

Gripe Water or in our house we call it “magic water.”  Yes it’s helpful for gas and hiccups, but it also works wonders for crying fits.  Just one squirt and Willy Wonka instantly calms.  I dribble one small drop on his pacifier and he settles.  He also loves the taste. 

This is one of my favorite toys.  I like the fabrics and colors, and there isn’t too much happening on one toy.  I’m the crazy mom who uses this toy to teach her 10 week old son about the food chain (actually his Grandma started it.)  It goes something like this, “the fish eats the cracker, num num, then the bear eats the fish, num num.”

This froggy mat is so soft.  Whenever I put Willy Wonka on it he knows it is time to play.  We do tummy time (which Willy Wonka loathes), practice our vowels, and look at our toys on it. 

This elephant clock is one of my favorite elements in the nursery and one of my post popular pins on Pinterest.  Check out the website, there are great clocks.  

-The nursing bras I’ve found in Turkey are NOT good.  They are so unflattering and you can’t wear them with any stylish tops.  Here are three I love from the States:

  • My nighttime bra.  It’s so easy and comfy.
  • This bra was perfect for the early days of nursing.  Because it comes in S, M, L you don’t have to worry about a specific size and therefore can buy it before the baby comes.
  • This bra has an underwire!  It offers lots of support and it isn’t difficult to nurse even though it has an underwire.

Where are all the rainbows, butterflies, and other shiny things?

8 Sep

Happy Rainbow

“When I first looked at my baby I felt a love for him like nothing I’ve experienced before” or “It was the happiest moment of my life.” How many times did I read something similar to this before giving birth?  From the sound of it the baby comes out and so does a magical fairy dust that causes instant, ultimate love and euphoria. 


Needless to say this didn’t happen for me.  I guess the fairy skipped my room because I was left feeling overwhelmed and guilty.  After coming upstairs from my surgery I looked at this beautiful boy in the bassinet and felt excitement.  He was so tiny and soft, and yes perfect (I had a c-section, no misshapen head for Willy Wonka).  If you read my previous blog you know I had a parade of visitors starting before I had the baby until 10:30 pm.  I never had time to process my emotions or sit alone with my baby.  So at 7 am , after a night of nonstop nursing, my husband left to fetch my mom.  That’s when the dark clouds came rolling into my room.  I looked over at my baby and started to cry. 


Sadly, I didn’t feel some euphoric love.  When I looked “the baby” I just kept telling myself “I don’t know this baby.”  My belly felt empty.  There were no more movements; kicks, hiccups, or pushes.  The baby inside was no longer and I felt empty.  I knew the baby inside of me, but I just couldn’t connect with the baby in the bassinet.  Why wasn’t I feeling the like the whole world was rainbows, butterflies, and other shiny things? 


When we got home things didn’t improve.  Between the constant nursing, sleepless nights, and dirty diapers I felt like I’d never be normal again.  Truthfully I still don’t feel “normal.”  I’d cry at least once a day.  I believed myself to be neglecting my animals, so I felt guilty. I didn’t instantly bond with my baby and still didn’t feel like he belonged to me, so I felt guilty.  I felt more bonded to my cat than my baby, so I felt guilty.  You see the pattern? Why didn’t anyone tell me it wasn’t rainbows, butterflies and other shiny things? 


Let me tell you now it doesn’t happen like they say on the “mommy blogs.” Yes maybe you’ll be lucky and get the special fairy dust, but for me it took weeks to bond with Willy Wonka. Did I love him? Yes.  Did I feel a connection to him like I’ve never felt with anyone before? No.  It wasn’t until I received an email from a dear friend who told me the first few weeks with her first were some of the crappiest (my words not hers) in her life that I let go of the guilt.  At eight weeks I’m still adjusting to life with Willy Wonka.  We’re bonded. I love and adore him I wouldn’t want to miss a morning with his silly faces that look like an old man.  It wouldn’t be a morning with Willy Wonka and mommy without me shouting “grandpa face!!!” as he wakes up.  


Maybe new moms feel too guilty or embarrassed to talk about that instead of feeling over the moon about their new arrival they feel sad, blue, depressed, guilty, overwhelmed and a crap ton of other non rainbowy words.  It’s true, it sucks at first and it gets better.  Soon hearing a huge fart will entice all those shiny feelings. 


My Life

Postcards from Istanbul

Istanbul Experiences and Insights

OkobojiCreaseys Community Site

Growing Up Willy Wonka