Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Rock!

Or at least our party did!  We had a blast, so many of our friends came.  There was good food (I love potluck) and music, as well as liberal drinking, all the makings for a merry time.  Our different groups of friends got along really well and started to make friends with each other.  The party became standing room only, and was generally  fantastic.  Unfortunately we were so busy hosting we forgot to use our camera.  Hopefully some of our friends took pictures and I will share those. 

The party was really great because it made it feel like Christmas.  It has been a little difficult for me, as this is my first Christmas away from my family.  The Christmas party was great for two reasons. First it kept me busy, second it was a blast and brought the “feeling” of Christmas.

I have been trying to focus on creating new holiday traditions rather than grieve for the old ones I can not participate in this year due to geography.  For Christmas Eve we went to a Symphony Concert which was really fun.  The music was lovely and it was something to really make the evening feel special. Tomorrow Bulent’s whole family is coming over for dinner.  It will have to be buffet style to accommodate everyone.  While the preparations for hosting  large party then a large dinner party so close together are challenging, it is worth it.  They have been so inclusive of me in their holiday traditions, I wanted to reciprocate and involve them in mine.  Plus it feels more like a holiday when your house is full of people.  Also when there is lots of wine—that makes it holiday-ish too.   Yes, I am Irish.  Can you tell?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Roasted Chestnuts and Winter Nights

Last night we went to a popular nightlife street in Ankara.  Not a clubbing street, but lots of pubs and cafes.  Mandiras and restaurants.  Live music poured out of most cafes.  We walked the whole length of the street, peeking in stores, watching people.  All along the street there are men with carts selling roasted chestnuts.  So wonderful!  They are cheery spots of of light against the dark street.  The carts are heated by wood, a little stove at the bottom, a metal sheet with holes  letting the warmth and smoke heat the chestnuts.  The nuts were warm and smoky, just delicious.  We walked the rest of the street with out treat until we found a cafe with live blues. After music and coffee we wet out into the blustery and cold night.  It is finally starting to feel like winter. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parties Are Supposed To Be Fun!

Unless you are planning them.  So this is to be my first big party, ever.  I have hosted large dinner parties, but not full scale bashes.  I am slightly nervous about it.  Part of it is that I don't know everyone will fit in the apartment, also I am hoping that many people will come.  It is also less common (meaning not at all) to use disposable plates or cups.   Which is great for the environment, but not great for me.  We only have the dishes that my school provided with the apartment.  That means I have two dinner plates, four dessert plates, three soup bowls ( I already broke the 4th) and two wine glasses.  Unless I buy some disposable plates and cups, the people will just have to look at the drinks, or swig out of the bottle.  Which could be fun. 

I have brought the American tradition of potluck to the party aka I can’t afford to feed and liquor forty people.  I will be attempting to make eggnog, cookies and mulled wine(Thanks Barbara) as base items on the buffet. Perhaps their will even be some pizza on the horizon.  Please suggest easy to make apps and desserts or magical hosting tips!   

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas is Coming!

We have a Christmas tree, it is decorated, there are lights.  It is official.  I am grown up-ish.  The tree may be fake and only four feet tall, but is is cheery. 

I am also holding a Holiday party.  There will be wine and food, and if I can make it—Eggnog. 

Right now Ankara is cold and dreary and rainy.  I don’t mind the cold so much, but I wish the rain would switch over to snow.  Then the world would be ready for Santa, because I know I am!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kurban Bayram…Way Late

Last week was Kurban Bayram or Eid al-Adha, the second religious holiday after Ramadan.  It is a festival of sacrifice, and charity.  Animals, usually sheep and cows, are sacrificed to represent Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.  After the sacrifice a certain percentage of the meat is donated to the poor.  The rest is divided among the family.  We received some very fresh lamb that day.

The other practices of Bayram are family visits and memorial visits.  Usually the first or second day of Bayram the family visits the cemetery and pays respect to their dead.  We (the entire extended) visited the cemetery where Bulent’s grandfather.  The cemetery in Ankara is huge.  There are only two in a city with a population of over four million.  The monuments stretch as far as the eye can see.

The visits start out at the oldest relatives home, and progress down the line.  First his grandmother’s home, then his mother’s, then his Aunt’s and his Uncle’s, then our home.  We visited two homes a day, until we reached ours.  At the visits tea and snacks are served, usually one salty and one sweet.  You can not refuse.  So Bayram becomes a time of visiting and eating, and eating and visiting.  

Bayram also coincided with Thanksgiving, which was great.   I only had to work half a day on Thanksgiving and have Friday and Monday off.  We had a great Thanksgiving with friends with all the trimmings.

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Yay for Turkey and stuffing!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday then Bash

Last week was the Kurban Bayram, the Islamic holiday of sacrifice.  I will give details later but I am recovering.  We had a half day of work on Thursday which was great because it coincided with Thanksgiving, then Friday and Monday off.  A short week of work really, but it has really smacked me around. I have not been sleeping well, just waking up in the middle of the the night.  I keep thinking it is time to get up and then it is 2am.  That is the problem about going to work when it is still dark.

The two days off from school apparently gave my students rule amnesia and they have been particularly challenging.  There is also an exam coming up and I am trying to stuff their heads full of knowledge, and they would rather play.  It has made for a stressful week.  Tomorrow I have a conference to go to, so no sleeping in.  However I am looking forward to it, and as I am a participant not a leader I am not expecting it to be a difficult day.  It is weeks like this which make me am glad I love teaching.  Actually liking what I do gives me more patience.

More will be forthcoming about the Kurban Bayram as soon as I am not sleep deprived.