Beach-less Week at the Beach 

If you follow my Instagram,  you’ll know I just got back from a week at the beach! 

 But I never actually got to… You know… Go to the beach. 

The struggle of being a not-fully-functioning adult is that you are at the whim of your caretakers. For the weekdays, they were my in laws.  Love them to death, but there’s only so much old folks can do before they get tuckered out. I got to look at the water but not actually put my feet in the sand. 

Hubby joined us on the weekend, but he slept the majority of the day so we couldn’t go to the beach then either. We did spend the entire night (until 3am) out on the town, but still no beach! We went back Sunday in the afternoon to beat the traffic. 

It was still a lot of fun! 

But hopefully we will get another chance soon. The summer is still young! 

Turkey Day!

This past Thursday was my first Thanksgiving ( Turkey Day) in Turkey.

However, there was no turkey.  This is the first year that we didn’t have at least a piece on Thanksgiving, and this is the second Thanksgiving I didn’t spend with family (the first being my first year in Florida).

Still, I was able to skype with my family before they had their turkey meal.

That’s what it’s all really about though, isn’t it?  Family, friends, and being thankful for what you have.  Hubby and I decided to start some of our own Turkish/American Thanksgiving traditions!

But turkey will be making a comeback, if I have anything to say about it!

*btw, I apologize these aren’t as detailed as my usual posts, I was in a rush to get them up before it was way past Thanksgiving. Thanks for your understanding 🙂


My First Bayram, Day 4

*September 27

The last day of bayram started with our very lazily rolling out of bed, filling the coming autumn chill in the air.  You know how that coolness makes you want to hibernate?  Yeah, getting up was a challenge.

Anne made a special baked bread slices with a cheese/egg mixture on top- I really enjoyed it (recipe to come?), and also prepared some boiled eggs.  When spicing them up, she confused cinnamon for cumin…so that was a very interesting breakfast.  No matter, I still liked it!

We pulled the lamb leg out of the fridge and hacked away at it!  We were planning on making mangal later in the day when Baba got home, but it was rather late by then.

The following day we were planning, again, to make mangal but, yet again, the sun set too quickly.  We ended up preparing the lamb meat in the mangal marinade and cooking it in a pot. It was sooo good!

The marinade consisted of sunflower oil, yogurt, salt, cumin, black pepper, and thyme.

I usually don’t go for pure lamb- it’s a little…I don’t know, I just don’t like the taste of the fat. But this lamb? SO GOOD!

So that was my first bayram experience!  I hope to have a bayram with fewer surprises next time!

BTW I apologize for the lack of pictures in my bayram posts…there was really no opportunity to take any

My First Kurban, Day 1

*I wrote this post on Sept 24 but had to wait until I had internet access to post it…so use your imagination and transport yourself back to Thursday…thank you J

For those of you who follow me regularly, you will have deduced that today was my first day of kurban bayram as a Muslim!  This isn’t my first bayram, since Ramadan just came and went in June/July- but this particular bayram is special because it is the first one I get to spend in a predominantly Muslim country!

Imagine spending Thanksgiving in Germany…that’s basically how Ramadan bayram felt to me this year.

When I found out that Kurban (sacrificing bayram) was around the corner a few weeks ago- I started counting the days! I was so excited!

-for those of you who are not familiar with Muslim holidays, Kurban celebrates Abrahams being willing to sacrifice his son for Allah, but then not having to.  We are told to slaughter a sheep or cow in remembrance, and give 1/3 of the meat to the poor, 1/3 to your neighbors, and 1/3 for yourself.  There’s a lot of other stuff, but that’s the gist.  Some people may think it is barbaric to slaughter an animal for religious reasons…but if you eat meat, you have no argument to give 😉 anyway…

And now I am sitting in my room making a quick write up of my first day!

It was not at all what I expected!

And I don’t mean that in a good way.

The day started out pretty good, with hubby rolling out of bed around 7am to make it to the mosque with his brother and father in time for the special bayram praying that one does. When they got back, Baba gave me some money (instead of wrapped presents you get candy and money).   Anne and I were whipping up a few extras for breakfast (fried eggplant, etc.) and everything seemed to be right on track with expectations.  I picked out a nice bayram outfit the night before and was all excited to get to wear it!

Well, it turns out that something went down and Hubby went back to the city without even eating breakfast to settle it out. So, that wasn’t exactly the kind of turn I was expecting. Bummer.

I spent the whole day sitting around waiting for the bayram festivities. Around 3pm I started wondering if anything was going to happen- and I had no one to ask since Hubby left.  Anne and I decided to make some dolmas- and who should show up right when we put them on the stove than the neighbors from hell.

  • Back story, the neighbors from hell are the people who live behind us at the beach, we share about 6ft (that’s 2 meters for you metric folks) of wall with them…so they are more catty-corner I guess…but anyway, apparently they kick up a fuss every five minutes for the stupidest things…like apparently we took up 3 ft of their garden before? Somehow I find that hard to believe, particularly when Baba and Anne measure twice and cut once, you know what I mean?  Anyway, one of our trees on that back portion recently dried up and died.  Come to find out, someone threw salt all over it.  –

They came with these fake smiles on their faces wishing us a happy bayram- then immediately launched into GOD knows what.  I really am not certain, but I think it has to do with the extra construction supplies we store in the back yard, the water pump, and possibly run off from the shower drain…which doesn’t even drain in the back of the house.  In any case, I spent a good hour and a half listening to them yelling in the back yard, which prompted more neighbors to come over and try to smooth out the rough edges.

This is bayram for goodness sake!  Doesn’t anyone have any respect??  And if the back yard is ugly- the backyard that takes up all of 2 meters of your eyesight in the back of your house- don’t look at it!  It’s actually a pretty easy fix!  I can’t wrap my head around how ridiculous the bits of the conversation I could pick up actually were.

And the worst part?

We served them coffee and chocolate.

Why in the world would you give goodies to a couple of jerks who came up in your house to yell in your face?  That’s something I just don’t understand about Turkish culture.  In the US, if you roll up on my lawn and start something, you are going to experience some unpleasantness.

(according to hubby it wasn’t really a fight/yelling- more of a discussion…but to my American ears, it was not ok)

We ended up with 4 guests, Baba, Anne, and brother in law all incredibly loud in the house.  I just sat back and started reading my Turkish lesson book.  Too many people for me, thank you! Good thing I was completely ignored- because without hubby, I couldn’t handle that much action.  Family is one thing- they know who I am, my limitations…but strangers? I can’t.

Finally they left and we were able to eat our dolma in peace.  After eating we went to the beach and watched the sunset.

Without hubby.

It wasn’t nearly as nice as it is when he’s here.

Now we’ve come back to the house- it’s about 8:32pm…and I’ve worn my sweatpants all day, and I don’t think we are going to be doing any family visiting today.   Fortunately, there are 3 more days of bayram left.  I hope tomorrow holds more promise.

Happy Mothers’ Day/ Anneler Gunu Kutlu Olsun!

I want to take just a brief moment to say Happy Mothers’ Day to all of those moms out there, and thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place through the next generation.

Also, thanks to my own Mom, who struggled through single parenthood to give me and my brother the best (and safest) shot in life.  I am always grateful for everything you’ve given up for us so that we could have more.

Lastly, thank to my mother in law, Anne (turkish word for Mom, to make the distinction) who accepted me without question into her family when I showed up on her doorstep in Turkey with her eldest son.  Despite the huge differences in language and culture, she loves me as a daughter and I love her as a mom.

  So Happy Mothers’ Day/ Anneler Gunu Kutlu Olsun ❤  Give your mom a hug today.

  Kirk bir kere mashallah

One year hijab anniversary!

Today is my one year hijab anniversary (give or take) and also World Hijab Day 2015!  While one year is a short time in comparison to the 24 years I’ve been on this earth, I must admit that I have learned a lot in that small amount of time. Not only have I learned more about myself, but also a LOT about other people and their perceptions of the world and me, in hijab.  I thought I’d hash out a few of the things that I have come to find out in these last 365 days.  I hope this helps others as they embark on this journey of hijab as well.

1.  You can’t (and shouldn’t try!) to please everyone.

Even when wearing hijab, if not because of it,  people will love to judge you.  The worst part is that most of the judgement will come from other muslims! One person will think you are too conservative because you wear hijab, but the next person thinks you are too liberal because you wear jeans.  But you know what?  Their opinion doesn’t matter!  You didn’t put on hijab for people, you put it on for Allah, because you feel it’s important for your growth spiritually. As long as you feel good about how you wear your hijab, no one else’s opinion matters.

2.  You are a strong and independent woman! Skin doesn’t determine your strength!

Don’t be fooled by cultural feminists, you don’t need to show some skin to show your strength and independence as a woman.  While some women feel that showing cleavage and leg empowers them as women, I feel like my hijab empowers me.  While this is a topic for its own post…in a nutshell, hijab doesn’t mean you can’t speak out or have an opinion.

3.  Fabrics matter.

Check out my previous post on fabric choices for keeping cool despite the weather.  Yes, it makes all the difference!

4.  You will be treated differently

No matter what people tell you, you will be treated differently.  Your friends will need to adjust to you as a hijabi (if they knew you before covering), especially if you partook in activities that are unbecoming of a muslima.  For instance, now that clubbing and drinking are a no-no, some friends may not find you as interesting or fun to hang out with.  You know what? That’s ok.  For every person that thinks you are boring, another person finds you inspiring! I have a friend who loves to discuss my (and her) spiritual journies, including coming to hijab. Once on the city bus I saw a girl wearing a scarf loosely over her ponytail, and when she saw me she straightened the scarf to cover her head completely, and then smiled at me. I smiled back.  You are making a difference, whether or not you see it.

Also, sometimes you get the stink-eye, but other times you are treated with the utmost respect.  I was flabbergasted when a young man (maybe a bit younger than me) stood up on a crowded bus to give me a seat.  That never happened to me before I covered.  Could it be that maybe there was just one gentleman on the bus that day? Maybe, but when it happened a few more times I started to think it wasn’t coincidence.

5.  People are going to assume

People are going to assume that you think a certain way or believe a certain thing because you wear hijab.  They think they know why you started to wear it (ESPECIALLY if you just got married to a muslim). Don’t let that get to you!  If you weren’t being stereotyped for wearing hijab, you’d be stereotyped by your race, or your style, or having tattoos, or your hair cut, or your accent… people always want to fit others in a little box, and you don’t need to worry about that.  Just keep on keeping on, sister. Their assumptions don’t define you.

6. Everyone’s journey is different

Some people struggle with their hijab, but others find it easy.  Just because you are having a hard time and those around you take it easily doesn’t mean that you are a lesser person or your iman (faith) isn’t strong.  Similarly, if you find hijab easy while others are struggling, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing it wrong.  Everyone’s journeys with hijab and iman (faith) are different, and you can’t always compare your experience with someone you know.  However, there is someone out there who feels the same as you do, so don’t feel alone!  Some days I find hijab easy, while other days I get so frustrated with it I don’t leave the house!  We will even fluctuate in our feelings sometimes, and that’s normal.

I hope these insights help you, and I still have much to learn.  If anyone out there is reading this, I would love to hear your own lessons you’ve learned in the comments!

Holiday break, School to date, and Everything in between

Season’s Greetings all! 🙂

With the end of the semester comes SO MUCH TO DO as many students know far too well.  Alhamdulillah, there is one and a half weeks left of classes!  For my husband and I, that’s one and a half weeks left of classes…FOREVER inshallah!  We should both be done with our course work, as long as our grades are sufficient.  I can’t speak for him, but I have two exams and two papers left as assignments before the term is over.  I have actually finished those papers already, so all that I have left are finals in three weeks (Yes, we only have half a week of classes the second week of december, and then the third week of December is finals week, no classes and only exams.)

Additionally, my research is going in the right direction, mashallah!  I have sampling to do in two days, then another set next week.  If I am lucky (and inshallah I am), the sampling next week may complete my third set of trials (I have four trials total, two are completed and two are still running), with the last one not far behind!  If I stay on this path and hammer out my thesis in a few months, I could graduate in the Spring if my advisor and committee agree! THIS IS SO EXCITING!  And no, I’m not sure what I am going to do after I graduate. It all depends on what the hubby is doing.  There is potential that we could leave for Turkey permanently this summer, but that situation is always in a state of flux, so I can’t be sure.  I am planning on applying to jobs in the area so that I could get some work experience and a paycheck until we leave the country.

Thanksgiving break was VERY well deserved, and today is the last day.  We had off school Wednesday through Sunday, but unfortunately I had to be in the lab for experiments every day except today.  However, I only had to spend a short amount of time (less than an hour) there daily, so it wasn’t too terribly bad.  Besides that, I haven’t done much of anything school related these last five days!  I should probably run my current data sets through JMP and obtain some statistical results to show my advisor before leaving for the Christmas break, to further encourage him to give me the green light for Spring graduation… but vegging out on the couch while playing video games is so great ;).

After finals we plan on returning to the home state for a week, inshallah.  I can’t wait to see some old friends and enjoy a bonfire in the backyard!  We both wait all year for this trip to see my family, it has been a whole year since we have been home! I miss my family! Most of the Christmas shopping is done before we go this time, alhamdulillah.  Last year we tried to purchase Christmas presents in the three days before Christmas, and I have no idea why we thought we could manage that. It was a mad dash, for sure.  We purchased a leather jacket (as requested) for my brother, I’m drawing a portrait of my grandparents in their 30s for them, I’m thinking a spa-treatment style hand cream for my mother (she works at a dog grooming salon and spends her whole day with her hands in dog bath water), cologne for the hubby (Dolce and Gabbana The One for men…go, smell it now if you haven’t had the pleasure) and possibly a dressy watch or new wallet, and I bought boots and a new scarf for myself 😉 Can’t forget my Christmas gift to me  ;D.  I still have to determine what to buy my friend(s) for Christmas, but some of them read this blog so even if I did know what I was getting them… IM NOT TELLING!

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Why would muslims celebrate Christmas? Isn’t that haram?  Well, technically, celebrating the birth of a prophet is not allowed.  Mohammad SAW explicitly told the muslims not to celebrate his birth as the Christians do for Jesus.  Well, Christians believe Jesus is God, but the concept of birthdays is the same.  So why do we do it?  Well, it’s a family and cultural tradition.  Do I believe Jesus is God? no.  Am I spending time with my family and buying them gifts to commemorate his birth? No.  Christmas break is the only time I can see my family, and I love them and miss them so I am buying them gifts. So am I buying gifts for Christmas? I guess not really, I’m buying “I missed you guys so much, here is a token of my love” gifts, but since it is Christmas time and I have been celebrating Christmas my entire life, I guess the term just stuck. I feel completely ok with doing this, and if you don’t then you don’t have to 🙂

Happy (maybe?) New Year!

I know I am a little late for the well wishes, but I have been thoroughly enjoying my holiday.  By enjoying, I mean laying in bed, using my new coffee maker to get me out of it, then baking and cooking all the day long.  It is so sad that this wonderful vacation will soon be ending.  I suppose I can relive it by a quick recap.

We drove from sun up till sun down (literally!) two weeks ago to visit my family in the best state there is.  I really did miss it!  What a difference you can see though, when driving north.  From lush green grass that enjoys the belated winter to dead white grass and stark naked trees!  Ironically it was gloomy and gray our first few days there, but that’s ok!  We stayed for Christmas and it was great spending time with my grandparents, mom, and brother.  Incase you were wondering, I got everything I wanted for christmas ;). We left and headed south on Dec 30 and actually got back earlier than I anticipated, despite the heavier traffic (I think it was my strategic speeding). We brought in the New Year by my husband waking me up twice in a ten minute time span to give me my New Years kiss.  I am getting old!!

For christmas I received a baking stone from my mom, and I must suggest everyone invest.  It made a huge difference for the frozen pizza we bought the day we returned (poor broke us).  Also, my husband commented that it made my fresh baked french bread better, but I may have been jadeed on that because the bread went flat when I tried to pick it up and put it on the preheated stone…I bet it will make pita bread delicious!

Also, my brother bought me some fancy-schmancy markers that are supposed to be similar to copic (these are called spectrum noir).  I will post my first attempt at using those bad boys separately.

In other news,  on this gloomy, rainy, horrendous day that should only be spent under a blanket, I must drag myself to the University to sign my letter of assignment.  Basically, it is stating that I understand my scholarship and will stay here and do my TA work fror the semester (or they can make me pay back the money).  I find it very frustrating that my advisor got a hold of these letters the day I left for vacation. Coincidence? Probably.  I need to go to the office and fix an error in my schedule before tomorrow anyway.  The new semester starts on the 6th and I am quite anxious…