Settle down 

Oh my lord. 

Moving plus school starting up again sure is a hand full! 

And yes,  even though we are  just downstairs, it was still a hard move! Because we are literally starting from 0. You have no idea how much you collect through years of living until you start from scratch again. I can’t say this enough. 

But I must admit I’m all about those new appliances (even if the bill made my eyes tear up a little). 

So, deepest apologies for not posting, I know I should be better… But I’ve been swamped with house projects after coming home from work.  

But I am alive and relatively well! Nothing a little chocolate can’t fix…! 

My Best Friends are Kufar

Let me tell you about my two best friends. 

They know who they are. 

They came into my life at very different times, and I believe, very different reasons.

  One of my oldest friends, let’s call her Brown Eyes, went to high school with me.  Funny enough, she was a relative of someone else I was friends with, and we never really spoke until we ended up in the same homeroom class. She saw me through a lot of my firsts (first real boyfriend, subsequently the first heartbreak, first time moving away, first year at uni, and when I first met my hubby!)… And I’ve seen many of hers as well.  

 My other best friend, let’s call her Blondie (which she embraces fully, don’t worry), dropped into my life unexpectedly in the last year of my undergrad. This was also one of the hardest times in my life, because my husband had to move to another state for school.  But she filled a hole in my life and brought a lot more than I had expected. We both were in the middle of our personal growth, and we kind of fed off each other and took the best from each other and left the worst. I was looking for a roommate and she was looking for a place to live.  Funny enough, she overheard me telling someone about my problem during class (we were both food science majors, but never really talked before)… And the rest is history! 

Oh yeah, 

And they are kufar. 

For those who don’t know, kufar means “non-Muslim”  in Arabic, and if you didn’t already know,  it’s not very nice.  Honestly, I hate that word. 

 (I’m using it now to make a point) 

 We became close (my best friends and I) before I converted to Islam.  And they are STILL my best friends afterwards. Even though they are still in the states! 

Why? Isn’t their lifestyle contrary to my religious values? 

Maybe.  But they don’t bring that part of their life into our friendship.  

They’ve never tried to bring me to a bar.

They’ve never tried to make me hang out with guys (beside saying hi to their significant others).  

They never questioned my wearing hijab or hinted that I don’t have to wear it. 

They never judged me for the level of Islam I’m at right now. 

And they have always encouraged me to keep learning about my faith, even though it isn’t theirs.

They enjoy talking with me about it! 

They even say Maşallah and ask me to pray for them. 

An atheist and a  Christian have been more understanding and supportive of me than most Muslims I have met (particularly the ones in Turkey).  

And that’s why they’re still my best friends. And why (outside of this post) I won’t call them or any other non-Muslim kufar.  

Being Muslim isn’t necessary to be a good person and a good friend. 
 

Turkey 245: Your Guide to Snacks pt 1

Say what you will about Turkey, but their snack game is fierce. 

I wouldn’t consider myself too much of a junk foodie. I’m not so much into cookies and cakes, and only a few chips tickle my fancy. That is, until now! 

How is it possible that I love Turkish junk food so much? 

Anyway, check out my (long overdue) faves list below. Make sure to check the description for any American dupes! Cheap subs are not just for makeup anymore… 

Dude. These chips tho. Specifically Patos sweet chili pepper… Corn chips with a zing, this tastes just like cool ranch doritos for half the price! 

I’ve found this at bakals (corner stores) and Migros

Eti cin (et-E-jin) 

My, hands down, favorite cookie. It’s a shortbread cookie with a gummy orange center and sprinkles.  There are other flavors but orange is the real OG. This is special to Turkey and I need to bring some back with me! 

Found in  bakals and Migros 

Cerezza (cheese and onion) 

Think crunchy cheetohs… But sour cream and onion.  That’s cerezza  PEYNİR AND SOĞAN flavor.  This gets 5 stars from us,  as it’s our favorite junk food. 

Found in bakals and migros

(sorry the next pictures are upside down… I have no idea why…) 

 I’m not a stranger to haribo (in America the Turkish made haribo were the only gummies without pork gelatin that I could find).  The classics are delicious! But there’s also FIZZ haribo! A haribo with a lemon sour sugar coating that is ever so slightly effervescent.  The fizz worms are my favorite (not seen here). 

Found in bakals,  some A101, Kipa, and Migros

I’m not big on chocolate,  but these are really good.  Cookies with milk chocolate stars and white chocolate filling.  They’re a bit rich but perfect when you have a craving. They are my favorite chocolate cookie.   

Found in some bakals, Kipa, and migros

 Not your momma’s rice cakes.  These are a mix of corn and rice that look like standard rice cakes, but taste like lightly salted, no butter popcorn.  A good snack for those wanting something salty but low calorie. 

Found in migros. 

Most of these can probably be found in Kipa or any other large general store, but I never bothered to check for anything but the ones listed as “found in kipa”.  

I’ll probably have a few installments of this as I eat more and more junk :).  

Elbow Room

Great news! 

The renter downstairs (bottom floor, flat 1 of 3) has moved out! 

You know what that means? 

We are finally moving out of this flat (3rd of 3)!!! I could dance and cry for joy simultaneously. I’m not exaggerating. 

Of course the apartment will need a bit of sprucing up.  It is, after all, about 30 years old.  Nothing a fresh coat of paint and some new floors can’t fix! There’s nothing like a little renovation! 

Plus I need a side project.  

Meanwhile we are also working to finish the second floor construction, but now that can slow down as other things have been popping up in our lives lately…more to talk about later. 

Check out our new floors! We only put them in the sitting room and bedroom, but we are so impressed we are thinking to put them everywhere… But that costs money. Crossed fingers we can do enough to be able to move within two weeks! 


new floor in the bedroom! It’s amazing how much it brightens the whole room!

Old furniture frames the renter left behind need to be broken down for fire wood… But the kitchen  cabinets are solid! Old floors are ugly, but a carpet can fix that.  Or maybe more new floors? 

Throw Your Hands in the Air

And wave em like you just don’t care! 

Which I am. 

Because I don’t. 

Being a teacher is hard, yall. Especially to spoiled, arrogant children.  

Not all of them are bad, but some are.  I honestly believe a hand full of these kids wouldn’t spit on someone if they were on fire. 

This is especially true for my 9th graders.  Two of the four classes are just hopeless.  It’s not like they can’t do the work, they just won’t.  I’ve tried everything.  Picking up unfinished activities in the main course English book, playing games, watching videos, teaching something else in English (e.g. Slavery in the US), projects, the works.  Nothing. Works. 

And I’m sad, because there are at least three students that are actually interested in the topics and want to learn. They even apologize for the others’ bad behavior. But if I have to call the counselor and the principal five times because they are so incredibly rude (I mean, standing in class, shouting to each other, sleeping, talking back in turkish as if I dont understand), I’m not going to waste my time. 

I did my best. I’m just going to be a babysitter for the 40 minutes that class takes in a week. Usually the good students gravitate to me and practice their English 1 on 1 with me anyway. 

Because this negativity just isn’t conducive to my 2017 resolutions

Happy New Year! (plus a Güveç recipe) 

Today we rung in the new year with one of my all time favorites! Enjoy!


Ingredients
 

1 kg cubed beef

2 small onions, diced

4 Charleston peppers, diced

3 sweet sıvı peppers, diced 

5 tablespoons crushed tomato

2 tablespoons tomato /pepper paste

Sunflower (or canola) oil

Butter, margarine, or tereyağ 

Salt to taste

Cumin to taste

Black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

**note: you should use a stoneware pot (it’s not 100% necessary but does make a big difference**

Preparation

1. Cube the beef to the size of your thumb.  Stew beef can be used for this recipe, as can a lean cut.  I prefer stew beef. 

2. Put oil and butter in a 3:1 ration (oil:butter), enough to cover the bottom of your pot with about 1cm standing. Add the meat and close the lid, cooking on high.  Stir occasionally until the meat is nearly browned (it’s OK to have some raw spots). 

3. Add the tomato or pepper paste (or a blend) and stir, letting the paste melt into the simmering oil/butter/grease. Prepare your arteries mentally.  

4. Add the diced onions and peppers.  Also add your spices and salt (personally, I like 2tsp black pepper, 1tsp cumin, 2tsp crushed red pepper, and 2/3 tablespoons of salt.  The salt is determined by if there is salt in your paste or not.)  Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft. Around 8 minutes. 

5. Add boiling water until the meat is just sticking out of the water.  Cover the exposed meat with the crushed tomatoes.  DO NOT STIR . Simply press the tomato lightly into the water. 

6. Cover the mouth of your pot with tinfoil, putting the lid over the tinfoil to create a seal. You should see the foil poof up from the steam.  Move your pot to the smallest eye of your stove, and turn it on low. It should barely be seeping out steam from the lightness of the boiling inside (this is crucial!). Let cook for about 1.5 –  2 hours on low until meat is tender. 

Serve with warm bread or rice. Maybe some pickles too! 

You can’t go wrong with Güveç! 

Afiyet olsun! 

 

New Years Resolutions 2017

As 2016 draws to a close I find myself looking forward more than back. I dont particularly care to reflect on the previous year, as it has been a real struggle for me. 

 Honestly, I’m  just not happy.  I’m not.  I don’t want to call it depression because I never went to the doctor for a diagnosis (mostly because I don’t have a history of depression, so any negativity is just situational right now and I don’t want to medicate for that). I can’t really pinpoint when I took this turn, since it’s been just a constant stream of disappointment and struggle. 

On top of general money moods, I’m angrier, swearing more, praying less, feeling ungrateful, picking fights, being petty… 

 I know it’s mostly related to my living situation.  Having no space to call my own, no privacy, no ownership of my life. Not to mention my grandmother passed away somewhat suddenly last month. 

I’m not ready to talk about that just yet. 

And of course I haven’t seen my family for over a year. We talk, but it’s not the same. 

Turkey is wearing me down. 

I’ve found myself pushing against the Turkish language, the culture, and even sometimes I won’t eat the food. I don’t know how to describe this feeling but to say I’m not me anymore, and I don’t like it.  I don’t like this homesick, hate my life, and hate everyone around me feeling. 

But I let myself be a victim of my circumstances, and no one/ nothing can affect me if I don’t let it.  

So in 2017 my resolutions are these:

1. Boost my imaan : I need to make an active effort to reconnect with my religion. A religion I actually chose myself. I thought being in Turkey would make it easier, but I think it’s been harder.  Either way, I need to get back into prayer and listen to more religious lectures. 

2. Count my blessings: Every day I want to reflect on at least 3 things I should be grateful for. Even the small things, like hot soup on a cold day.  When I start looking for the good instead of the bad, I know my mood will improve. 

3. Take control and live NOW: I’m going to do more to have more of an influence on my own life.  I intend to start that by moving out of this flat before winter is over, but that’s a post for next week. And instead of waiting for things to happen, I will take an active role in my fate and live in the now. 

4. Swear and complain less: In the states, the majority of my friends don’t swear terribly much.  I also made a concerted effort to not swear either. But here… Well, I have been seriously slacking.  And all I ever talk about are the bad things that are happening to me and how miserable I am (sorry,  friends) .  No more! The occasional venting is ok, but I don’t want to complain more than once a week. Let’s be honest, cold turkey isn’t going going to work. 
I know it’s cliche to make resolutions, but it’s something I need to do.  Be it December or June, positive changes are never a bad thing… 

What are your resolutions? 

What Did I Eat?! 

Last Sunday hubby, BIL, and I went out for the whole day! We cruised all the holiday deals to find hubs some winter boots, winter dress shoes, a nice jacket, among other things, for an event coming up soon.  We really nailed it on the shoes and jacket! 

While we were out we stopped at a tiny hole in the wall restaurant (literally a hole in the wall, which I’ll post about separately) for fish sandwiches. So. Good. And fritter style! It’s been forever.


 Afterwards, we went to smoke hookah/nargile because we were feeling feisty.  Unfortunately our adrenaline didn’t last and we got tired very fast.  Subsequently, we rushed our smoking and ended up feeling not so good. Hubby’s head was spinning and I was choking on it and my stomach burned.  Not to mention the service was terrible.

Otherwise, a good day.  

And then Monday came. 

My stomach was on fire! It wouldn’t stop burning and flipping as if I’d be sick immediately.  I drug myself to work though, and couldn’t even make myself eat at lunch, for fear of vomiting.  Same for dinner.  Didn’t touch it. I drank marjoram tea to try and help settle my raging insides, but it only helped a little. 

Next morning I ate one plain scrambled egg.  Breakfast was one bowl of soup, and a spoon of erişte. I still wasn’t feeling too good. Zero appetite and stomach pain (but more boiling than burning this time). Had a bowl of soup for dinner and my stomach was bloated to that of a 6 month old pregnant lady. 

What the heck did I eat?! 

Yesterday I managed a few spoons of every food at lunch and dinner.  But still no appetite. Just today I finally had enough of an appetite to enjoy my food, but still half of my normal meal.

Besides stomach anger, you don’t want to know how else my insides were punishing me.

I have no idea what I did.  At first I thought it was from the nargile, but four days of unease?! I thought it might have been the fish, but we all ate the same thing and only I’m suffering. 

Why me? 

Season of Salad

While summer is usually when you’re looking for something cool and refreshing like salad, most greens flourish in the winter months. 

 I’m a huge lover of salad.  All salad. Beet salad, bean salad, potato salad, cease salad, dinner salad, chicken salad…  Come at me bro.  One thing I had never tried before coming to Turkey, however, was boiled celery salad. 

And was I missing out! 

What is actually found in Turkey is celeriac, a type of celery grown for it’s root rather than the stalks (the latter being the one we know and love in the US).  There is a slight taste difference (in that the celeriac has a stronger flavor) and I think I like celeriac better. 

Much more interesting! Because: salad! 


Ingredients

1 celery root/stalks, chopped 

1 carrot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, grated 

Salt to taste

Olive oil to taste

Lemon juice to taste 

Preparation

1. Boil the chopped celery root and stalks (or just the leftover stalks if you need the root for something else) and chopped carrot together.  Boil until soft. 

2. Drain the water (which can be reserved for soup if you like). Let the celery and carrot cool in a bowl/on a plate. 

3. Grate your garlic onto the boiled veggies.  Don’t limit yourself.  The only thing better than 4 cloves of garlic is 5 cloves of garlic. Add olive oil, lemon juice (from a lemon! That preserved stuff is gross), and salt. 

4. Mix well and serve luke warm or cold. 

Afiyet olsun! 

Tile Day

Today we went shopping for bathroom tiles and balcony laminate. 


We also looked at Parque for the rest of the rooms, but didn’t settle on anything yet.  I think we can find a better deal. 

We perused other odds and ends as well. 

We did settle on a bathroom design! 

Not the sink or toilet though.  Also too expensive. 

We also bought a nonslip laminate for the balcony. Not in love with the color, but it was the only nonslip option. And I’m a clutz and a half so… 


Slowly yet surely we are making progress on the second floor.  Too slowly. Not surely enough. 

But it’s better than nothing.