Thursday, November 26, 2009

Technological Thanksgiving

I had a lovely Thanksgiving meal tonight.  Bulent and I were invited to a friends, where there was great food, good conversation and good friends. 

After I came home I got a call from my parents on Skype.  They had brought their laptop to Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin’s house.  They turned Skype on and then passed me around.  I spoke with my Nana, my parents, my cousins and aunts and uncles.  I spoke to my brother and his random friend who he brought to dinner. 

It was fabulous.  I got to see and talk to everyone and feel that even though I am over 5000 miles and 7 time zones away.

Today I am thankful for family, for their love and support, for friends and this amazing adventure I am on.

My Thanksgiving Tradition

I have hosted Thanksgiving for the last three years. This year is my first year that I am not hosting.  Because I lived in San Diego and my whole family lives on the East Coast Thanksgivings usually included close friends rather than family. To that effect I began to create my own Thanksgiving traditions. I will share with you the most fun: The Apple Cider Martini.

Delicious, simple, and makes Thanksgiving a party!

Apple Cider Martini

2 parts Apple Cider

1 part Vodka

Place vodka and cider in martini shaker with several ice cubes and shake well.

Strain ice out and pour into martini glasses with cinnamon-sugar rim.

If you cannot obtain apple cider, "Simply Apple" juice works well as a substitute.

Cinnamon Sugar Rim

Mix equal amounts cinnamon and sugar. Pour onto plate. Use a lemon slice to moisten rim of martini glass. Dip rim in cinnamon and sugar so that the rim is evenly covered.

Warning: Serve these only after you have finished cooking. I cannot recommend using the stove or handling hot dishes while drinking these tasty martinis. Trust me. Please.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life as it is …

Life is progressing here in Turkey.  I finally feel as if we are settling in.  We have bought a car. We have recovered from H1N1.  Life is good. 

Last night to celebrate our auto purchase we went out to an Asian restaurant for dinner.  Turkey is still new to ethnic food, and sometimes restaurants which serve such food can be hit or miss.  Mostly miss.  However, we have been to this particular restaurant before and it is ALWAYS good.  Not only is the food fantastic but the service is wonderful.  The assistant manager recognized us when we came in, so we received amazing service, such as complimentary jasmine tea and extra tidbits.  But the kicker is the left-overs. 

I ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp (that is the other lovely thing about this restaurant-they have Chinese, Japanese and Thai food).  It was a large serving, but I was starving.  I ate about 2/3rds but didn’t want to stuff myself.  I asked them to pack up what was left over, it wasn’t a meal but it would be a nice snack.  A little later the assistant manager came over with the package.  He apologized, they had thrown out my leftovers by accident.  So he had them cook me a WHOLE new order, and that was what he was sending home.  He was apologizing because it took longer. 

How wonderful is that!  It is pretty typical that in the service industry people go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant.  That is one difference between the US and Turkey.  People are proud of the establishment they work in, from the busboy to the waiters.  They consider the restaurant their territory and extend you, their guests, every hospitality they can.  They couldn’t be nicer, even if you were a guest in their own home.  This changes the experience in a restaurant significantly.   I had a lovely lunch of Pad Thai today, and very much appreciated the manager’s kindness. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Day I Begged a 14 Year Old for MONEY

Seriously self-loathing.  Right. Now. 

So I have no money.  I have money but I don’t *have* money.  I have a bank account, I have a salary, hell… I got a bonus for Turkish Teachers’ Day.  But I still don’t have a bankcard.  I have no way of getting easy cash. 

Tonight, someone was supposed to come and fix my washer.  But at 7 pm I figured they weren’t coming and when Bulent left to meet friends it didn’t occur to me to hit him up for cash for the maintenance man.   So when maintenance men did come at 8pm, I had no money.  Not to mention I was in my pajamas.  So he “fixes” the washer,** and then reasonably asked for 20 Lira.  Well, I had 5 Lira, in coins.   I frantically called my friend who lives in the building, to see if she would loan me money.  She wasn’t home.  Her husband said he would loan me the money and then asked me who I was.  I was so flustered that when I called I forgot to identify myself.  So in my PJs I took the elevator 8 flights and borrowed money from my friend’s son because his father only had 10 Lira.  When I knocked, behind the door I heard the Velcro on his wallet rasp, and I died a little inside.  I thanked he profusely and ripped the money out of his hand and took the elevator ride of shame down to my floor where the confused maintenance men were waiting outside my apartment.  I gave them that, and a tip (in coin,) and stumbled into my apartment to wither in the agony of shame.   

I did look for an ATM when I walked the dog later, but there were none.   And so, back to the original plan, when Bulent gets home I will hit him up for 20 so I can give the teenager back his bus money. 


**The washer was not broken.  We had been putting soap in the wrong slot. In our defense there are three slots and no labels.  So he explained what spaces to put the soap and the fabric softener, and I pretended I wasn’t an idiot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How Lazy Can I Be?

Pretty lazy actually.  Tonight I had McDonalds delivered to my door.  They do that here.  All the fast food places deliver.  They have little mopeds weaving their way all around the city delivering Big Macs and Whoppers to the lazy and hungry.  You should see these deliver guys.  They drive on side walks, against traffic on one ways.  They cut across 4 lanes of traffic only to lift tri bike over the median and go the other way.  The food’s travels serve only to make it tastier.  That and they walk it right to your door. 

Let me explain lest you think me  a total sloth.  I have lost 2 kilos with the flu.  That is about 4 pounds.  Bulent’s mother was very kind and brought over food, however, it is very flavorful. Turkish food tends to have quite a bit of spice, not spicy, but very flavorful.  The smell of such food has done a number on my stomach over the last week.  However, the doctor chastised me and ordered me to eat protein, and definitely not the plain yogurt I had been living on for a week.  Hence the McDs.   A nice big hamburger patty that has no spices, and only a medium about of taste.  Bonus, since I did not have to cook it my kitchen does not smell like meat and won’t make me want to throw up every time I walk by. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Excuse for Not Blogging

I have not been writing lately.  As usual I have an excuse.  I have been sick.  I developed a fever in Antalya which morphed into nightly fevers and a nasty cough.  Some of the kids in the first row of my classes started donning masks.  Seriously.  The doctor prescribed two days of rest, so I do not have to get up and function normally tomorrow.  This made me have tears of gladness, I have lost m voice on and off for the past two weeks and alternate between wounding like a person on their deathbed and someone who has smoked unfiltered cigarettes for 50 years (neither is ideal.)  Do you know how children act when you can not raise your voice?  Soft whispers do not encourage discipline. 

I will be fine in a day or two, and I always like to look on the positive side.  I have not wanted to eat alot, and mostly have been eating yogurt, so I lost a couple of pounds.  I also have been coughing so much that I am developing a 6 pack. It helps distract me from the feeling my muscles are ripping apart. That is called an Ouchie Booboo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Swine Flu Vacation

Last week school was cancelled in Ankara due to Swine Flu precautions.  So we went to Antalya in southern Turkey on the coast of the Mediterranean.  We had a fantastic time, though I did come down with a fever—though not Swine Flu.Antalya

The Antalya coast line.  Can you see the Taurus mountains in back?  They are so gorgeous, craggy and sharp.  They loom over the coast and are very visually interesting against the blue sea.


We also visited Kaleiçi, an area in Antalya, which has charming cobblestone streets and Ottoman houses. It is an historical district, absolutely adorable and picturesque.  There were museums and shops and boutique hotels galore.


I found a great shop with handmade goods, tablecloths, blankets, and wool knit items.  I bought a couple of sock booties.  As for authenticity, I haven’t worn them yet because they still smell faintly of sheep. 

Hadrian’s Gate runs through Kaleiçi. It was built in 130 AD when the Emperor Hadrian visited the city.  They built the clear bridge over the original entrance.  It really is amazing.  Underneath you can se the deep ridges worn into the stone from carts going in and out of the city or thousands of years.

067 It is really neat to see  how the city sprung up and wrapped itself around the old Roman ruins.


We were also there for Turkey’s Republic day.  However, that deserves a post all on its own, which is forthcoming.