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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkish Latte!

Throw a latte lover in the jungle and she'll whip you one up with coconut milk.

Or so the saying should go.

Mommy needed a latte when Starbucks was too far. So she employed all her resources (and Google) and invented her own twist on the traditional Turkish coffee. 3oz Turkish muddy coffee topped all the way up with hot frothed milk.

I am still campaigning for a cappuccino machine for our 7th wedding anniversary.

Trail mix musings

The best trail mix I'd ever had had to be Sherri's bowl of insanity at Karma Kids NYC while training for teaching yoga to kids. It might have been effected slightly by the amazing mind set I was in in those times...all healthy and om and centered and whatnot.

The second best trail mix might be the one I mixed tonight in my Turkish kitchen. All full of delights that I collected over the course of one night and two..count 'em...TWO shops! Malatya Pazaar and Koylu Peynircilik, both found in my amazing neighborhood within walking distance of my apartment.

I started out small...

...but ran short of space and I had only added about half the goodness.
So I enlisted the otherwise rarely used soup bowl.
Yum. Now it's all in there.

Dried bananas, pineapples, papaya, apricots (Wizard's dad's own), cranberries (yaban mersin in Turkish FYI), and kiwi. Hazelnuts, cashews and peanuts cover the nutty department while shelled sunflower seeds add a band or at least a pretty heavy pattering of vitamin E.

What yummy goodness would be in your dream trail mix?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One of those legendary times...

Wizard's sister Mubareh, sifting through their dried apricot depot. We have 2 kilos of these coming soon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This post shall have no pictures

And you can blame my kids for that.

On Saturday we took a trip out to Torium, the biggest shopping mall near us. It boasts many international brands not found in other smaller malls like, Nine West, Marks and Spencer, H&M, Mango, Zara, Pull&Bear, Gap, Sephora, and Swatch. Not to mention, an indoor snow play ground complete with hills to sled down. Skis and snowboards can be rented as well.

As for us, we'd have enough of snow the last winter to last for a life time. So we shielded our eyes from the evil white condensation and walked on.

At first, it seemed like it will be an easy day out as they do provide a 50 minute free play area pass for kids's Monster's age. I spent those 50 minutes flying around H&M trying on clothes.

After that, it was all downhill. Monster tried several times to run away from us (but that's hardly anything new), tried to take off her clothes in a changing room. At Mango she nearly pulled down a rings display, had a meltdown at a shoe store, and lastly jumped off a stool at the food court banging and cutting her lip against the table. We ate food to the "music" of her continuous whining, and the intermittent gagging from Falafal who insisted on biting of chunks of potato fries stolen from the table.

We still managed to keep our spirits up until it was time to go home. We missed the last free bus service provided by the mall that takes you home so we had to hop onto a crowded mini bus. It still would have been fine if BOTH my kids didn't decide that this was the perfect time and place for having a the middle of armpits and asses and bags hitting me in the head and Falafal clawing my scarf off my head.

Falafal was still easy to handle, all I had to do was take him out of the carrier and let the crowd entertain him (or was he entertaining the people?) Monster continued to whine and cry and poke me in my ribs asking for more space (we did manage to get a seat thanks to a friendly rider). By the time we neared home, I had resorted to tuning out to my own kids pretending they were not mine, even considering giving up ONE for adoption (only as a joke of course). Then I felt sorry for the people who would adopt them and decided to do this kindness to humanity and raise these devils on my own.

One thing was confirmed though and I informed Wizard of this too: I am good with these 2 kids! I have no wish to go through these days again with another 3 year old and a 6 month old. We'll have to tolerate Falafal since he's here anyway and hopefully make the 6 year old Monster take care of his 3 year old issues (muahahaha). No way am I messing up this situation any further.

Of course, Wizard laughs at me and goes "In a few years you will want another baby and you know it."

So I had to tell him "I shall write a detailed blog post on what happened today and use that as a hormonal deterrent."

So here it is, the post that shall be tagged so I can read it "when hormones attack my brain cells" and I am conned into wanting another child.

Are there days when you want to contact a child psychologist just to explore your options, or contact a mental hospital?

Friday, September 30, 2011

That one image...

Every time I head out in the world, I am always on the look out for that one moment in time captured in a photograph that can sum up my life. I have yet to find that one image that will contain my life inside a frame...

I am not even sure if it is probable. My life has been so complicated from the very beginning. I used to think my early years were probably incident free but came to realize that they still had a great impact on my adolescent years. There is a 6 year old hiding in my heart and she remembers everything.

Perhaps, it is merely wishful thinking...wanting to go back to those days when we were living our life not aware of how it will change our future. Had I known about my future, I might have stared at a neighbor's garden a little bit longer, committed to memory the feeling of stealing falsay from a tree a little bit harder. I would have asked another question or two, I would have acted to certain people differently. More kindly.

Had I known. Had I known my life will be so interesting in the future, I would have felt better about the mundane little things that brought me down.

I confess, it will be a hard task to find an image that will sum my life in a photograph. Yet, I keep on searching... for me it's the journey that is the adventure, not the destination.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Got Milk?

Sure, I have some recent unforgettable moments too, like the one with Wizard's sister in law showed me her milk cabinet filled to the brim with packaged milk. I naively asked her "Won't it all go bad? Why isn't it in the fridge?" As if I've never seen UHT treated milk before. *Sigh* It was becoming a fad as I left Pakistan in the fall of 2003 and we did prefer it over unpasteurized milk because our milk man kept trying to keep the traveling milk cool by melting ice blocks in the milk blocks that had been sitting next to horses and their copious dung!

(Side bar: When we moved to Lahore from Karachi in the summer of 1997, my brother wondered why his hair was turning a slight shade of green by each evening. A kind cousin explained it was the dried horse dung hanging in the air over Mall Road.)

To be honest, I'm not convinced that UHT treated milk is good for human consumption. I'm of the times when unpasteurized milk was boiled twice and cooled before drinking and that was that. We never got sick, and certainly were not lactose intolerant. I do remember the first few times we started drinking Haleeb Milk (Pakistan's UHT treated milk brand), yes, it caused a number of issues with too many bathroom trips afterwards. I never really connected the two.

All I know is, you can't make yogurt with UHT treated milk and that is cause for concern hahaha.

Edit: Since I started writing this post, I have discovered the existence of unpasteurized milk in Istanbul as well. I'm seriously contemplating switching us all back to that.

I'm curious to what my few readers think. Please share your experience with unpasteurized, pasteurized, and/or UHT treated milk.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turkish surprise number 19

Occasionally, hubby will bring something new from the market and ask me "Did you have this in Pakistan?"

Thank you for rubbing in the wounds my love, no, even if we did I won't remember it because I haven't been back in ages!

This time though, we had an interesting argument. He brought back "Kızılcık," a small berry that grows on trees the height of apple trees. It looks like a cross between cherries and cranberries. My first bite into it, I was extremely tart! While I was trying to bring myself back from tart-induced-confusion, Wizards exclaimed "I KNEW you'd like it!"


I about died from the possibly poisonous berry and what part of my flailing for water and gacking into the sink did I look like I enjoyed it?

"Oh you ate the unripe one, they still need to sit and ripen a bit."

Why thank you for that important piece of information!

Three days later, I bit into the now darker berry tentatively. There was still a hint of that fruit of death tartness, but it was more pleasant this time. The flesh left my mouth feeling dry and it reminded me of...


Could it be? Have I found jamun in Turkey?

Jamun you see, has some beautiful memories associated with it. It gets harvested from tall trees late summer into the monsoon season. My earliest memory of Jamun happened at our neighbor's home where older girls seasoned the purple berries with salt and pepper. With the jamun in one bowl, and another bowl held over it, they would shake the berries till the salt made some of the juice start leaving the fruit. "To lessen their tartness," they explained.

Most other times I ate jamun, the memories were ruined by the stupid worms creeping out just before we were about to pop the entire thing in our mouths. There were a few times when after finishing off half a bowl of the purple fruit, we'd realize that every berry was in fact compromised and o.m.g. we already ate like half a kilo of worm infested fruit!!!!

Thank fully, the worm prefers to reside not in the flesh of the jamun, but the seed. Or so I like to tell myself every time I remember that god damned (yet extremely tasty) fruit.

To replicate the same memory, I seasoned kızılcık with salt and pepper, shook them till they got watery and inspected for worms.

No worms.

As I dug into my bowl of jamun-related-but-better berries, I realized, I had found yet another silver lining.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Very Own Pepper Chain

Drying peppers grown in Wizard's family garden in Malatya.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monster's first "person" drawing!

Monster, 3 years and 3 months old. Draws her very first person drawing =) Complete with eyes and NOSE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Salma Said It: Daddy would have Killed you!

Every time I am cutting watermelon slices out, slicing precariously close to the whitish parts, I know I'm NOT doing it right. As it is, Wizard happens to be a scrooge about wasting food, so in spite of all my pleadings that "the white part is NOT for eating, it is the reason you get stomach ache after eating watermelon" he refuses to let me waste it. So I continue the atrocity that is, not sparing the white, and cut it out as Wizard showed me.

Alas, every time I cut a watermelon at my sister's house, she never misses a chance to tell me (accompanied with a dramatic gasp) "If Abbu (our late father) was alive, he would have killed you." You see, my dad loved watermelon and took delight in cutting and delicately picking out the seeds out of single bite pieces for his family. He would NEVER have left the white meat on.

Each time Salma tries to keep me from adding on the pale pink and white meat on to the watermelon slices, I think to myself "But Wizard will kill me if I waste the white part and HE IS ALIVE!"

Here you go my love, enjoy the stomach ache that is sure to follow.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cultural Nuances

Add this to my list of cultural food that I laughed at and then ate my words because I loved them!!!

Sure, it looks innocent enough. Kinda like, Tang, no?

Except, this baby is going to get a HOT bath!
And no, it doesn't have Vitamin C in it, although that would have been a great idea.

The two other foods that I initially laughed at and then later loved are "Ketchup with Omelette" (Thank you Sadia and Omer!) and Mexican Mangoes with Hot Sauce. I kid you not!!! You'll thank me for pushing you over the prejudice! TRY IT!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ozturk Family's first day out

A candid shot of Father and Daughter at a doner place in Taksim Square, Istanbul. August 3, 2011

Just a regular breakfast table

The Wizard choreographing the breakfast table while I snap away--July 18, 2011

Another door, another world, another life...

(Avcilar Sahil, July 17th, 2011)
The Ozturks have moved....

One of our dreams is finally materialized...of living in Istanbul!

We took a chance, at adventure and here we are. It seemed like the right time to escape USA and spend some time with the other part of the family for a while.

What happens next, is still up in air, while we tread smoothly, waiting, patiently for our feet to touch the ground.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monster's New Castle

Wizard brought this home yesterday for the princess. She was so excited she actually slept with the unopened box next to her bed.
This morning I tried to set it up...well the box said "Sets up in minutes." Minutes, my ass! I had to spend quality time trying to figure out first, where the slots for the stilts were and then, how the heck do I set it up from the outside???
I think Discovery Kids saw the original European models of stilted tents but only saw the equipment, not how they are set up. FYI Discovery Kids, the stilts go INSIDE sewn, protected tubing that children cannot mess with, and the insert points for those tubing are OUTSIDE the tent where the parent can easily reach them.
Unless you honestly thought a 3 year old will be able to set it up from the inside.
If you are going to copy a design at least make a more than half assed attempt at cheating.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

So it starts...again.

Look carefully, that my friends, is a poop stain.
I'm not quite sure if it's from today or from yesterday. What I do know is, I wore this skirt to the dentist...he may or may not have seen it.
The End.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sleeping in Simon

April 2nd, 2011 Mr. B, joining the family breakfast table.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March 25th, 2011

Mr. B, born March 25th, 2011 at 8.03am at home. Weighing in at 6 lbs and 6 oz, 20 inches long...a peanut. Photograph taken at day 3:

Knitting Projects

Long ago I'd read somewhere, "if you learn knitting by knitting a scarf, that's all you'll ever knit!" So after I did learn knitting by knitting a scarf, I promised myself I'll try my hand at more complicated things. So here are the projects I've made so far:
These still need to be lanolized but are going on the squishy's bum soon! Just as soon as he grows enough to fill them in =)

Monday, March 21, 2011

More DIY projects

After finishing several double sided wipes, couple of wool soakers, this Mama was feeling confident enough to try her hand at DIY changing pad covers.

The fact that store covers are 16.99 each and I'm short on cash to spend on pretties was another factor pushing me.

I found a cute tutorial online here, and this couldn't have been easier! Even without a sewing machine, it just took a little more careful than usual hand stitching, and the result is spectacular so far. The measurements and instructions are spot on and easy to understand, and I bet it would have taken me even less time had I been using a sewing machine. Without a machine, it took me barely under an hour to size up, cut down and stitch up. I still have to go around making the tube to feed the elastic through it, which I'm judging from my own speed will take less than 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monster's last ride

In this particular carrier at least:

Just look at that face!!!

In preparation for Falafal

I'd been busy making a wrap out of Osnaburg and needed to fancy it up. Wizard wanted elephants, so I found elephants.
And then, decided, that Wizard needed a carrier of his own:
So I got him a black Maya Tei from the For Sale or Trade forum on TheBabyWearer.Com and made this:

Who says babywearing has to be expensive?
Cost of Osnaburg+zigzag hemming for shrinking+supplies $49+, Cost of Maya Wrap $60.

February Memories

Sledding through the neighborhood
Menands, NY

Monday, February 14, 2011

My dancing Ninja

I asked Monster to strike a pose and this is what she gives me:

I really do think she's about to pounce! After many blurry pictures of begging her to stop moving (how DO you make a toddler stop moving??? Benadryl? But how do they pose?), we had one worthy of sharing.

Well, it's better than the rest of the 15 shots I took...

Thank you Emilie for the gorgeous gift =) You, Miranda and Bruce are one of the kindest people I came to love in Sunnyside, NY! We miss you *muah*

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My first Granola made at home

Granola is the one thing that even Wizard doesn't hesitate from splurging on regularly. If I can find it for cheap, his eyes light up and he chalks the store down as the preferred granola source for a long time.

I got some great/cheap/tasty/crunchy granola from the Honest Weight Food Coop here in Albany but something got me thinking, and I picked up rolled oats, organic raisings, dried cranberries too. One month later, I gather all required ingredients including real maple syrup and hunker down to look up recipes.

By the time I find one that I like, we've drained the maple syrup on the Fluffiest Pancakes on the Planet. Shucks!

Plan B, honey. Now, honey is not cheap! Especially the one Wizard has in his browser Favorites and that he orders every few months. More on that later when our next order comes in.

I had to improvise and keep costs down, so instead of the fancier $10 variety, I picked up a Hannoford store brand blue berry honey...which isn't bad, not bad at all.

I mashed up a few recipes to include all the ingredients that I did have, and exclude the ones that I didn't. This was the base recipe:


2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar*

Smattering of ground cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp+2 tsp canola oil

Two drops of vanilla (I hate the artificial vanilla I have at hand)

Mix all dry ingredients together, I added chopped cashews and hazelnuts, maybe a fistful.

Mix all wet ingredients well and pour over the oats, nuts combo. Stir together well and spread out on an ungreased baking sheet. I took bunches of oats and squeezed them into balls to make them stick to each other. Then stuck in a preheated over at 345 degrees for 10 minutes.

Facebooked for 10 minutes, thought about Nutella and how I must. not. buy. another jar.

Came back, stirred the now nicely toasting oats and added a handful of raisins and cranberries. Stuck back in the over for another 5 minutes.
I love looking at my jarful of homemade granola =) All it needs is a little yogurt topping, maybe a a tablespoon of strawberry preserve and it makes the crunchiest parfait I've ever had.
Of course, I eat it most regularly to make my midnight cereal snack crunchier =)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


In school, I used to be obsessed with creating geometric snowflakes. While girls were doodling FLAMEs with their names and names of cute boys, I was busy with filling my notebook with snowflakes everywhere. Drawing them inspired me, so it is no surprise to me that watching snowflakes stick to my car window made me want to take photographs again....even in this dreary snowpocalypse weather.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Place, Same old Me

Like a new chapter of a story, our January started.

On the morning of January 1st, in the midst of mountains of snow from the blizzard, my brother, Wizard and his friend C started emptying out our Sunnyside apartment. One by one, my memories were taken down and out: the dreamcatcher hanging in the foyer because I didn't know it was a dreamcatcher until a friend told me, the kitchen shelf that caught a small fire when Monster stuck a plastic bowl inside and turned it on just before heading out with Wizard and which I discovered just before I went for a shower! It was trashed of course.

I had packed all the fridge magnets the night before and emptied it out. I hated staring at that white blank piece of thing: it had suddenly lost all personality.

In my mind, I held on to the thoughts of my friends and who will still be here when I make my way back. I hadn't even left Sunnyside yet, and was already dreaming of coming back in a year.

By 4 o'clock--5 hours off schedule, we were ready to strike the tarmac. My brother left with the uHaul first, C and his girl friend took my brother's van and Wizard, I and Monster led them into Albany.

Late into the night, the men worked to heave everything up into our third floor apartment. It will take even longer for me to put everything in its place not just for organization, but to also restore some of the character our knick knacks collected over the years tend to bring to our space.

I'm still working on it. I had to work on getting Monster to accept this space as her new home first though. Only recently does she not yell at me angrily when I say "we're going home" and drive her to this apartment. The first few days, she'd think we're going back to Sunnyside everytime we got into the car. It broke my heart and it took a lot of strenght to not break down into tears in the middle of I-87 South and just keep driving till I entered NYC.

Even now, whenever I am driving along this route, I have to fight the urge to miss all exits and just keep going South, south to my home.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not here, not for now

365Tasveerain will be going on a temporary hiatus, until I find my will to take pictures and write about life again.

Till then, send positive vibes towards the general direction of Albany, NY. I'm sure the sheer force of gravity of my specific blackhole will attract them all in. Many thanks, Ayesha