Saturday, November 8, 2008

Getting Old

So I haven't blogged for a long while. My excuses are as follows; a.) I've been working (at work and at home) so much that I haven't had time and b.) I've been working (at work and at home) so much that I have done or encountered pretty much nothing worthy of a blog. However, just having been inspired into a HUGE rant by a very stupid woman at SMILE ADSL (I don't recommend unless you'd like to be really ripped off) I thought a Blog might help. Then I saw this tag from Stranger and thought it might be less destructive to complete this instead for your entertainment and see if I still feel like a RANT at the end...

At a certain age women should know put on make up properly, er, still not there
At a certain age men should stop waiting for other people to pick up after them and understand that women like surprise presents (OF ANY KIND) and know that if they start balding they should just get it all shaved off.
When I was a kid I thought I would be an air hostess and that I would travel to lots of different countries that way.
Now that I am older I HAVE travelled to lots of different countries, although not as an air hostess, and only realise how many more countries there are yet to travel too...
You know you are too old to be cool when someone who is potentially older than you calls you TEYZE (Aunty in Turkish but usually reserved for ladies significantly older than yourself)
You know you are too young to be old (and I steal this answer directly from Stranger because it is woefully so true) when you realize you have no retirement whatsoever, no plans or means of acquiring one, and you just go "Oh, well. It'll sort itself out."
When I was in high school I listened to the music of oooh I have to dredge my memory, but I suspect there was quite a lot of the likes of the Cure, Def Leopard, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, Elton John, Madonna, U2, Roxette, Oasis, REM, red Hot Chilli Peppers, Backstreet Boys, Counting Crows, UB40 and GOD knows what other horrors.
Because I'm now too old to be cool (some would say I never was :)), I'm listening to some Turkish Pop and any songs with video clips entertaining to a 1-year-old
On my last birthday a good friend of mine came round and cooked lunch for us and there was cake....
The year before that,... well I can't remember that long ago it seems- I guess I was 5 months pregnant! It would have been a weekday, so I was most likely working...
On my next birthday I want to be somewhere different for a change.
The best birthday present I ever got was .... well I'm sure I've received lots of lovely presents but none really stand out from the others... that or I've got a memory like a sieve!
The first time I felt grown up was when I was about 5 and went on a plane for the first time by myself. I got to hand out the sweets :)
The last time I felt like a kid was... well I do spend rather a lot of time in the playground these days. The other day there was noone else there so I slid down the slide with Arwen and happily discovered that my butt is in fact NOT so big that I can't fit down the slide! (I was concerned enough about this not to try it in the prescence of others)
When I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown it changed my life. Whoever thought that a book about religious history could be so page-turning? Not a very deep answer I know but it was the best I could do. Those of you who know me well, know that I like my books and films light- there's enough serious stuff in real life. I did read a super-USEFUL book last year that made a big difference to me, and that was The Baby Whisperer. Every expecting or new Mum should read.
Last year was really a learning curve, or perhaps the start of a REALLY long learning curve; really difficult, really amazing...
Next year I hope I will become master of my own work-life!

Monday, August 18, 2008


So now I'm not pregnant anymore, I shouldn't be having cravings-? Not that I really had them when I was pregnant, but you're supposed to right? It was a good excuse to just have things that you like all the time anyway....

So now that there is a tiny bit of a summer lull at work, my Assistant DoS and Bad Influence Number One MAO and I have been craving the donut. and the cupcake.

I don't thing she's pregnant either, we're just a little bored of profiterol and bisküvi and want what we can't have (easily), that is DELICIOUS donuts and cupcakes. Now MAO lives conveniently near a Dunkin Donuts, about the best you can do in the land of Baklava (also nice in its own way, but so AVAILABLE), so she's been scoffing donuts and real coffee all weekend and is now taunting me with tales of that and the apparently Fabulous Tim Hortons (Donut Mecca of Canada), which she also can't go to at the moment but would like to.

So Dunkin Donuts are a bit few and far between here in Istanbul (probably for the best really), and I do like a good Turkish desert- Ekmek Kadayıfı with Kaymak (bread absolutely soaked in gooey syrup served with clotted cream.... mmmmm

But sometimes you just want one of these.....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Steph's tül perde nightmare (net curtains)

So I've been quite busy lately hence no insights or ranting. However, for one reason or another I have been looking at flats on the internet (we kindof sortof thinking about buying/ renting a cheaper place/ also helping new teachers look for places etc) and would like to share a few of my findings and thoughts on the matter.

There's a website that's very popular here for buying, selling and renting all sorts of things from cars to pet cages to houses and its called , which means 'from the owner', although the majority of things are not actually from the owner. Its only in Turkish, so most readers won't be able to look at it, but with a bit of a search you can find good places (we found our old Rümeli Hısar flat on there) and you can also see some of the scariest 'decor' you can imagine (and beyond). I wish I'd saved some of the photos I have come across in the last few months because there have been some UNBELIEVABLY tasteless items; of course now that I'm looking for some horrendous examples to attach to my blog, I can only find lüks (luxury), sıfırlanmış (completely redecorated) and Çok Şık (er, very chic- that is definitely debatable though!). I did manage to find a few gems though that I will include for your entertainment. Anyone say MuMu?? Is that what they are called??!
There are a couple of things that seem to be either absolutely STANDART (say STUN-DART- you MUST have these otherwise your place will be totally uninhabitable); these include the çelik kapı (steel door, very important for security), parke (parquet floor) laminate or otherwise, pimapen (white metal window frames, there are many companies that make these (pakpen, adopen, winpen, whateverpen) but they are all the same and unless you want your house to be 'not modern', you'd better get some, saten boya (glossy paint (!!), and of course a Kombi (thermostat heater control thing which puts you in charge of when you have heat)....

Then there are other er, desirables, for example a portmanto (enormous cupboard thing by the front door to put all your shoes, your slippers, guest slippers and jackets in), a 'Hilton' lavabo/duş kabini (I think this is one of those things that has taken the brand name of the most popular manufacturer, but it basically means a new- and STANDART- toilet/ shower stall), some panjur (metal blind things that you can roll down over your windows so your house is like a bunker), and it should be kartonpiyerli; as far as I can tell, this is the kind of white plaster pelmet thing that cover the curtain tracks....

As far as I'm concerned, you'd also definitely also want to have an asansör (elevator), a balkon (balcony), not be on the bodrum or zemin katlar (basement or ground floor), have or be near an oyun parkı (playground) and to be tertemiz (spotlessly clean).

Now of course after you rent/buy the place, you MUST have it repainted (by a painter at excessive cost, not by yourself) and get some new NET CURTAINS; The title of this blog actually in honour of my Mother-in-law. She is kind of obsessed by net curtains, although from the evidence I've seen, this certainly isn't specific to her. She has been hoping, hinting and occasionally directly asking that we get net curtains for the past 6 years. She is quite persistent because she hasn't given up yet, but she does not yet know the depths of either my stubbornness, or my aversion to net curtains. I hate net curtains. Especially ones like this that go up in the middle:
Now I can see why you wouldn't want your very close neighbours in the next apartment looking straight into your salon (living room) and luckily I have avoided the problem by only living in flats so far with noone directly across from said salon. I've kept (normal) curtains or cane blinds closed in the bedroom and I don't really care if someone quite far away can kind-of see into the kitchen. However, there must be a better option than the standart white often frilly variety- some kind of organza-type folding blind maybe??
I thought this subject would come to a head when Arwen was born and my Mother-in-law started spending 4 days a week staying with us, but luckily our current house looks out on a park and is not overlooked by anyone, except in the kitchen where the panjur can be kept down. Of course it was not going to be acceptable that Arwen's room had no tül perde as, you know, the DUST (read: the DEVIL) would get in, and so (rightly assuming that I was not planning to get any) my sister-in-law (also afflicted by the love of net cutains) made some, came over and hung them herself :) They're actually quite nice for a little girl's room as they have butterflies and flowers on them and coordinating normal curtains in pink so I didn't protest.... and its been all quiet on the curtain front for a while now... until last night!

We were looking at a house for sale in a site (housing complex) and it happened to be the garden floor flat. It looked really quite nice (all the above mentioned requirements + security and a swimming pool). Mother -in-law liked it too and said that it was lovely and all we would need to do is get it painted (it was a brand new building) and er, get some tül perde..... as you would......

I'm kind-of worried that I might wake up one day and all the windows might be covered in drapey, frilly tül perde!!!

So, here are a few other scary (and scarily common) things I found for your entertainment...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Non-sweaty things I'd rather be doing

So its at least 35 degrees out and sunny and humid. I've just been home for lunchtime baby-feeding. It was hot; sweaty mummy, sweaty Arwen, sweaty sweaty sweaty euwch! She didn't seem phased by the sweating at all, having a great time almost walking, circumnavigating almost the whole house -still holding on for now :) Happy to see her mummy which is ALWAYS nice :). But as I left to come back to work and sweatily waited for a taxi and then had a sweaty non-airconned taxi ride, I was thinking of stuff I'd rather be doing instead of going back to office (even tho it is air-conned) in no particular order....... such as:

(yes many of them do revolve around water: pool, beach, sea, river...)

Swimming in the blue blue sea at Büyük Çakıl Plaj,
Kaş and then having yummy fried kalamari, homemade chips and salad at Che's next to the beach.

Lying in the Pool at the Divan Kuruçeşme overlooking the Bosphorous or at Park Orman (haven't done either of these for years since now prohibitively expensive, but did once spend many a summer day here and there when I was a free-wheeling teacher-type!)

Swimming at the beach in Wildwood, NJ, kind of a cheesy place, but many a cool refreshing swim/ boogie-board was had there in-between shifts...
Swimming off a gulet on the meditteranean coast near Fethiye and then having a yummy lunch on the boat.

Sitting in the House Cafe in Ortaköy with a huge iced coffee and the best brownie everrrrr. (I'll put a few like this in so they don't seem to ALL be about swimming!)

Looking down on all the fabulous pools all down the cliffs from a breezy cafe at the top of the Caldera in Santorini while having a delicious Greek salad and some delicious pork döner (mmmm)... and then, er, going for a swim in one of them. Or at Perissa Beach; black sand beach on the other side of the island.

Having a swim at the rooftop pool in Changi airport Singapore between flights on the way to NEW ZEALAND!!! :)
Swimming at Kaiteri Beach or Breaker Bay in NZ or some nice clean river over that way....

SWIMMING at Waikiki Beach (or ANY beach really in Hawaii) or Ilıca Beach in Çeşme, or the beach on the Isla Mujeres in Mexico, or Kaputaş beach near Kaş, or the Lemonakia Beach on Samos

or or or ....

......just anywhere really!
As you can see, I'm not very good at putting the pictures in, but you get the point :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nazar Boncuk.... the Little Magic Stone that protects one from the *Evil Eye* This is a typical item, a specialty of this region everyone takes home as a souvenir. It's called the Boncuk (pronounced "bon-jook"),the little magic eye-shaped stone that protects one from the *Evil Eye* . You will see this blue glass accessory everywhere in Turkey. But what is behind this superstition? Apparently.... (edited from somewhere on internet can't remember where!)

Once upon a time (yes, it starts like in a fairy tale) there was a rock by the sea that, even with the force of a hundred men and a lot of dynamite, couldn't be moved or cracked. There was also a man in this town by the sea, who was known to carry the evil eye (Nazar). After much effort and endeavor, the town people brought the man to the rock, and the man, upon looking at the rock said, "My! What a big rock this is." The instant he said this, there was a rip and roar and crack and instantly the immense and impossible rock was found to be cracked in two.

The force of the evil eye (or Nazar) is a widely accepted and feared random element in Turkish daily life. The word *Nazar* denotes seeing or looking and is often used in literally translated phrases such as "Nazar touched her," in reference to a beautiful young woman, for example, who mysteriously goes blind.

Another typical scenario: A woman gives birth to a healthy child with pink cheeks, all the neighbors come and see the baby. They shower the baby with compliments, commenting especially on how healthy and chubby the baby is. After getting so much attention a week later the baby gets ill. No explanation can be found and it is ascribed to Nazar. (Although it may also have been any one of the following: sweating, drinking cold water or sitting in a draught between an open door AND window, sleeping with the window open, not wearing slippers or eating yoghurt and fish together) Compliments made to a specific body part can result in Nazar. That's why nearly every Turkish mother fixes with a safety pin a small Boncuk on the child's clothes. Once a Boncuk is found cracked, it means it has done his job and immediately a new one has to replace it.

Its a very interesting tradition and an attractive accessory and needless to say, Arwen has many a little boncuk; on her stroller, to pin on clothes, in her room...
(A with travel-boncuk pinned on.....)

I only have one thing to say and that's that repeatedly hearing 'Nazar touched her' when I'm trying to understand why she is crying, er, doesn't really help. Luckily she doesn't cry that much (Maşallah Maşallah a thousand times Maşallah!- I should also say that after saying something like that to further protect her from the Nazar! AAAARGGHHH :O) )

Everything in our house is dangerous

I didn't know there could be so many potentially dangerous things in a house for a baby. Of course there is the obvious stuff like cleaning fluids under the sink, sharp objects, loose buttons. Arwen has just dicovered that she can open cupboard doors and drawers, and this has opened up a whole new world of dangerous stuff. She had been content with banging her head on the floor/ door/ wall/ metal radiator but now there's more...

For example before we were being careful to put our shoes away in the hall cupboard so that she wouldn't get hold of them for a wee taste-and-chew, but now she can open that....

She could already seek out the remote control from wherever we had hidden it (meaning we usually can't find it ourselves and watch a lot more babytv than we would like). Now she finds it, pulls the back off and bashes it on the floor till the batteries fall out. You can guess what happens after that...

She always wants whatever is just out of reach, especially plates of food, cups of tea and glasses of water, telephones, anything she shouldn't have really...

Currently sporting a bit of a brusied cheek from an encounter with a chair and a drawer (at same time!) :O(

According to a website I found, these are some of the things we should be doing:
  1. Take a new look at your house from your baby’s level and clear all surfaces at or below your chest. There's a LOT of stuff at that level...

  2. Install rubber stoppers for the top of doors, so they only close a bit and baby’s little fingers won't get pinched but remove the rubber tips so baby doesn't choke on them. Lucky we can't get these here then, sounds like it's more dangerous than the door! I think we'll go for number 9 on the list instead.

  3. Use plug covers that look like an outlet, but have to be twisted to work. Duct tape?

  4. Install magnetic cabinet and drawer locks, which are trickier for little ones to learn to open. Duct tape?

  5. Use a mesh gate because baby is less likely to get hurt and it works well for large doorways. Sounds like a good idea... where can I get one of these?

  6. Doorknob covers stop your toddler from being able to open the door and run out.

  7. Install a deadbolt or chain at the top of exterior doors, so your toddler doesn't open the door and run out. This seems to be a popular activity this opening the door and running out!

  8. Use a toilet lid lock. Enough said! I think we'll just be keeping the bathroom door closed fullstop- there's a whole lot of danger-stuff in there...

  9. Drape a cloth diaper over the door top to keep baby from getting hurt, shutting the door.

  10. Install cover guards for sharp table corners. Luckily we have a soft edged leather-covered coffee table thing or there would be a whole lot more bruises by now...

  11. Use a TV guard to stop TV play. It covers all the controls. mmmmm

  12. Visually inspect the floor for small objects every time you enter a room. I do, there are a lot...

  13. Remember, if they aren't meant to have it, they'll want it, so move it! Why is this?? She has a lot of lovely toys that should be 100 times more interesting than some skanky old computer cable/ dustbunny from behind couch/ any piece of paper-magazine-newspaper/ radiator knob with flaky paint...

  14. And, on a less serious note: Eat all the chocolate that comes into the house. It's not good for your baby’s health. I liked this idea by far the best! :) I am implementing regularly...

My Mother-in-Law says Allah protects all babies- Inşallah! :O) Hope someone is!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

its noisy out...

Turkish people tend to get really enthusiastic about things, which is really nice actually, it shows they have a pulse :)
However, now we have a small baby who actually likes sleeping (at several times throughout the day and (most of the) night and its hot so we have the windows open, I realise how this often manifests itself in a lot of NOISE.
Added to this, we live right next to a park very popular of a warm summer evening and at the top of a valley that collects and amplifies all the Ezan (calls to prayer) from many a Mosque below.... And of course Istanbul is a huge city with many many people living in apartments, so there's bound to be more noisy than er, smaller less crowded places....
So I'm currently inspired to write this blog entry by last night's particular noise:
They've set up an open-air cinema in the park below our house. I don't know what they are playing, since I can't actually leave the house in the evening, but it was a noisy, explosiony action thing, it finished late (after we'd already been woken by the evening Ezan) and when it finished everyone went (loudly) to play in the park and (loudly) home.... There was a lot of waking up.

Some other popular noise-making opportunities include:
  • Weddings (driving round continuously beeping car horn, sometimes firing gun)
  • Someone going to military service (see above)
  • Almost any football match club or international (again see above and add some loud shouting, 'singing' and cheering) During the recent European cup games being in our house with the windows open was like being in a giant stadium. Good for Murat because he didn't feel so alone watching the match by himself but bad for baby... I went to bed, but I know they didn't win just because we didn't wake up again (there's no noise at all when there's no goal).
  • Pretty much any traffic situation. You know, the light is red- or JUST turned green, you can see that the person in front is getting out of the taxi (with baby/ bag/ stroller) but you should beep anyway, it might make them hurry up- or NOT