Monthly Archives: December 2008

Cat is out of the box…

Therapy for the neurotic woman in me… I am not sure if I talked about this on the post that I didn’t publish… Many of you wonder how I have time to take care of twins, work, cook, knit and crochet… So it’s time to let the cat out of the box… I am not an Angelina Jolie in disguise… I don’t take care of kids on my own -neither does she-, and look fabulous at the same time (Angie is a winner in this case)…  I am a “jack of all trades, master at none”… I like doing things and stuff and I like doing “different” things… Except for my housewife, wife and mother role I have to say, none of the above is a priority… I just do it when I have time… Also I have a great helper… Not because he sometimes reads this blog, but because it’s true and known… My husband is a great helper around the house and for sharing the care of the kids…

I also have a great brother in law, who my kids adore, who is a great cook and also a great babysitter, dogsitter and housesitter… In addition to this, I have great friends who help me and my husband constantly. When we go out to visit them or when they come, I don’t have to do anything they do everything…

So with all the leftover energy, I cook, I knit, and I crochet… Especially during the cold winter months when we are mostly inside… Yesterday, I was working on blanket number 2 -which will be referenced here shortly-, and I just didn’t like it… So I frogged it… Both my husband and BIL (brother in law) couldn’t believe it, and tried to talk me out of it… I frogged it with a smile and continued from where I left off… 5 minutes later my husband looked at me again… I guess he was trying to figure out why on earth I was going through so much trouble making this blanket at this day and age, where I could buy one much better and much prettier for less cost (yarn is expensive people, because it’s not made in China) …. then I think he had an “awakening” moment and said “I guess this knitting thing is like fishing”… hmmm… that also made sense to me, in a way sometimes the people closer to you know your “crazy stuff” and find meaning in them…

Actually, I tend to cook, clean and knit more when I the times are stressful… I guess it is something that I can focus on, that by each knot, by each garment, something is in my control and I am mostly happy with it… or if I am not happy I can change it…

Here are a few project of the last few weeks… here’s “THE CAT”…

The Cat

The Cat


She is a trial cat, my first ever crochet toy.. I am planning to make a good one for a close friend who loves cats and this one was just to get practice… Kids love it and call her name all the time!!! You can find the pattern for this cat and some more at http://www.crochetkitten.com/

The other projects mean a lot more to me… Two close friends are expecting baby girls… one is due in January and her blanket had to be finished first… It turned out very good, and it was really fun to make… I used Vanna’s choice yarn by Lion Brand… the color options are beautiful… so this is “Sophia’s blanket”, and it’s made with much love…

Sophia's Blanket

Sophia's Blanket

The pattern for this blanket can be found under http://www.ravelry.com. Ravelry is an online crochet and knitting society… It’s a free service and it’s a knitters dream come true. However, you have a wait a few days to become a member since their server is swamped and can only accept limited number of members each day… If you are a knitter you should be on there, don’t waste time!!!

Blanket number 2, is in the works… picture will be coming soon… it’s for the spring baby girl… it’s almost the same theme, similar colors… it’s still in my hands… I put the finishing touches on Sophia’s blanket on the day I heard my Mom’s passing, and started Baby #2’s blanket the next day. So both blankets are very important to me… and helped me so much through the grief process…

Crunchy and yummy...

Crunchy and yummy...

And just to add some New Year cheer, here’s my perfectly addictive “meringue cookies”… you cannot get away with eating one… they are so easy to make… just wait until you have a recipe that calls for “egg yolks”.. and use the whites for this recipe… it’s a guaranteed winner with everyone and here’s the link for the recipe… the secret is to bake it in low temperature, 100 C or 200-250 F for at least 45 minutes… http://www.teatime-blog.com/turkce/2006/01/22/karamelli-damla-beze/ 

I will post English translation under my blog soon…

Happy New Year to everyone. It has definetely been a bittersweet holiday season for me… I cannot express my gratitude with words for the friends and family who called, emailed and left comments…

Until next time…. Love and many hugs, g.

good bye…

Mom's birthday...

Mom's birthday. September 2008, Istanbul.

I thought whether I should write this blog post or not… I actually had 1 more post prior to this when Mom was spending more time being sick then being well… I decided against publishing that post…

But I know many of my friends who read this blog wonder about my Mom’s health and they just cannot ask me all the time… and they also wonder how I am coping… so here’s a long post about the subject and probably I will go back to my knitting, cooking posts from now on…

My Mom has finished her “mortal” life last Wednesday morning, Istanbul time. We got the news Tuesday night at 10pm our time… That day around 5pm, while playing, M asked for grandma… which is not that weird, since we go through pictures almost on a daily basis so that the kids can know their relatives, close friends back home and won’t forget faces. Then around 8pm, while changing sheets I felt something, some form of peace then some form of sadness… But I have been going through so many emotions for the past few months, I didn’t think too much of it… That same day I had a plane ticket to Istanbul that was purchased a month ago. Then Mom didn’t want me to come, I was planning to take the kids to see her and spend time and celebrate the New Year. She just didn’t want us to go…

I have been a proud daughter… It was an honor to be brought up by Mom. If I had a chance to choose, and maybe I did, I would have chosen Mom again. We were a good match. We got along pretty good, she said I have always been a good kid from the start. I think we just were a good match. Because I can be a pain in the neck at most times, and I don’t have an easy personality… So I just cannot imagine being an “easy” baby or child. But Mom has just been so cool about my tantrums and when people don’t get worked up by my tantrums I am managable… I calm down easily… My tantrums usually last 30 seconds to 1 minute I think. So my Mom mostly told me to either “calm down you are exaggurating” or just ignored me and told me “aggression” was something I inherited from my Dad’s side and that there was nothing we could do about that problem… 🙂

Mom had a hard childhood… Very hard that I don’t want to get into details here. She didn’t share the information with most people and only with people she knew well… She lost her father when she was 3 years old and things went downhill from there… She has been on her own after 15 years of age… She met Dad when she was 28 and from then I think she had a pretty good life… She loved life and her life would make a good movie if one can portray her well… She knew life and was mostly OK with the things it threw at her and our family… She lived by the belief that as long as we had each other as a family and as long as we were healthy there was no reason to be unhappy. She was a happy, genuine and wise person…

At times when I had trouble… I would whine and bitch about things or life in general. She would listen and summarize it in a sentence… and mostly I would know that I was dwelling in details that made no sense… She just knew how to teach life to a child, a teenager, a grown up woman. She didn’t have long “advise sessions” like Dad, but rather short sentences or advise at the right time… Of course she had the typical mother breakdowns when we were little… she was not perfect… she also wouldn’t let us do this or that, that made us upset… I would do the same things to my kids though, your parent is supposed to be a parent first, then a friend.

I have no regrets… Mom lived life fully and I have no regrets as a daughter. There is nothing that I would have done differently if I was given the opportunity. We always knew we loved each other and didn’t sweat the small stuff… I learned so much about building a “female relationship” from Mom that I was able to have great girlfriends… I didn’t have too much trouble in my role as a mother, because I tried to do what Mom did… I just followed her steps and so far my kids are mostly happy and healthy…

My Mom was a private person… a woman of few words to people who she didn’t know… She hated big funerals which happened frequently in our hometown… She loved my friends visiting when I was in highschool and when I went back home… She loved a crowded house with friends… She had a very small funeral that my Dad tried to keep private and my friends who heard were able to attend…

So how am I coping? I think I am coping as well as I can… After the first hour I heard about it, I asked my husband to start the movie that was stopped after the phone call. He told me that I reacted like my Mom. If there was nothing that can be done she always thought it was best to go on with life as it should… The natural way was the best way to follow… She always thought “death” was as natural as “birth”… And she was always in good terms with natural things… As I mentioned before she somehow seemed to know the “rules of the game of life” which most people struggle to figure out. I am just upset that I will miss her very much… That she would have made a darn good grandmother and my kids will not even remember her… they won’t remember her cooking, how her eyes sparkled when she saw them… But I am also glad I had her for 35 years… I don’t think I have the right to be upset or angry. My Mom was a “planner”. She planned everything. Our house was always organized, she always had 3 meals planned, shopping done, things taken care of without our knowledge… And she had a calm and cool about all these things when she did them. She was a “virgo” woman… Organized, wholesome, practical… If there was any planned day to die, she died on that day. She died on a day that I don’t have to work when I live in any Western country. She died on the day that my 2 other aunts died so the family can come together… She died on the day when we can all go visit her and celebrate her life if we choose to… she also died at the time when I cannot attend her funeral… which I have no regrets… if there was one day that I didn’t look forward to, that is the day of my Mom’s funeral…

Knowing what I knew about Mom, I think she is at a very good place. That she is very happy… She just was a happy soul…I think she had graduated from the “test of life” with flying colors. I think when we die there is always the “relief” that our soul finally reaches… The body is very limited… it’s imperfect and mortal… whereas the soul is limitless, it learns, develops and shines… As humans we are limited to our 5 senses and tend to think that we dissappear when we die… but “what a waste” it would have been if the creator has gone through so much trouble to build the “life” to have our souls live for a limited amount of time… and to create such a challenging world, just so perfect… so limitless but within limits… What a waste if Mom’s soul has dissappeared with the moment of “death”… she had learned and taught so much in life, it just makes sense for it to continue on a different, much better level… she just deserves it… so I tend to believe and she believed that we were greater than life… That as humans we were limited, but as souls we were not… It was her time, a time well planned… when she knew I probably didn’t need her that much, that my life was so frantic, busy with kids, busy with life in general that I would have taken her loss well… I think if she had to choose, that she also chose or faith chose cancer as the way of death, that gave me a chance to go back home for 4 months to just spend time together… and gave a chance for everyone around her to just enjoy her while she was with us… I have to admit, cancer kicked our butt as a family… just caused so much bodily suffering for her… I would have wished otherwise, but it was what we were given and we made the best of it I guess. I am just glad she is no longer confined to the limits of her body.

Mom was a woman of plans and organization. I am almost sure her place in the other life is pretty good, that it smells good, and feels like home already… I am sure she is organizing, decorating and maybe cooking wonderful things even there (if the souls still enjoy food in afterlife, which I hope we will continue to do)… and that one day she will meet me when my time comes and we will reunite again… Until then, I have a family to take care of… a wonderful husband and 2 curious, energetic wonderful kids that give me so much joy each day… I only wish I could be half the mother my Mom was and will have a chance to be with my kids as long…

Good bye Mom, you will be sorely missed…

What’s cooking today?

Trying to decide “what to cook” occupies a substantial part of my day. I usually have a plan, and I am used to cooking after I come home from work. With the arrival of the kids though, I have more pressure… We leave work by 5:05pm, and we are usually home by 5:15pm (did I say, Memphis was a very easy city to live in?) With 2 toddlers getting into everything, I start preparing something. I need to serve food for the kids by 6:00pm. My husband helps with controlling the kids, they are in the pantry stealing rice crackers, then they throw potatoes, then they grab the dogs’ food from their bowls and put them in their water, then they get into the recycle bin and try to drink diet coke from old cans… One by one, we tell one to quit something, then the other finds the next adventure. It’s always the same routine though. Toddlers, just like dogs, love routine. So as soon as A enters the kitchen, he looks at the dogs’ bowls, if there is food in it, he grabs a handful and puts it in the water bowl… M is always in the pantry, fishing for crackers, cookies or something of that nature…

In the meantime, something is always cooking on the stove… Pasta, brocolli, meatballs, peas, beans are frequently on the menu. Just last month, I broke down and allowed some frozen food to enter the menu. It gets more and more complicated as I try to make everything from scratch. It is how we were raised in Turkey, but it just doesn’t fit with the American way of life. The grocery stores are just not as easily accessible, we don’t have help at our homes, we don’t have fresh fruit/vegetable bazaars, and we don’t have butchers that we can call for home delivery… It was just too much pressure and too many screaming babies for me to make everything from scratch for every meal. We already have 90% organic meals in our home and I thought some frozen precooked meals weren’t going to hurt anyone. I bought potstickers, panko-breaded tilapia, meatballs and whole wheat chicken nuggets from Costco… and I highly suggest them for mothers who are looking for healthy and easy to make foods. They have 0 transfat in them and no preservatives etc…
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Still, most days of the week, I am in the kitchen after the kids go to bed. It’s easier to cook, and a lot more fun when I don’t have to stop hands from getting into trouble… I usually cook or prepare something that I can put together in 15 minutes for the next day… So here’s one of my secret weapons. I always have 2 whole chickens in my freezer. When I run out of ideas, I put one out before I go to work and it’s thawed when I get home. I put it in a pressure cooker with veggies and it is ready in 15 minutes. It is so tasty and versatile I can make at least 3 main dishes with it the next day… I use the stock for soup, usually chicken noodle. Then the meat is either eaten just as it is, or baked for 15 minutes with tomato sauce, or used in chicken salad. Tomorrow we are having our favorite Chipotle Chicken Salad. -chipotle is a smoked Mexican pepper-. Finally I use the fat and remaining stock for rice, and the liver and other cutlets goes in the dogs’ bowls.

Pinto beans cooked in olive oil

Pinto beans cooked in olive oil


I also made Turkish Pinto Beans tonight. I don’t make this dish a lot, although it’s one of my favorite. I never saw frest pinto beans in the US, but my brother in law found them dried a while back… he boiled some and put them in the freezer. He is also a great cook and helps me a lot in the kitchen. I just thawed the beans out, added potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, lots of olive oil and it’s ready… For those of you Turkish folks living in the US, you can buy dried pinto beans… Most people buy kidney beans thinking it’s the same thing. Although kidney beans and pinto beans look similar when they are cooked, the taste is very different. And uncooked, kidney beans are red, and pinto beans and speckled…

I don’t need to think about food tomorrow, and that is big weight off my shoulders… When my family eats healthy, I am happy…

So what did you cook tonite?? -trying to get some ideas here 🙂 –