This is Halloween

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A spooky full moon on a night of decorating

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Crafted from After Eight wrappers

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Oops.

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I was a holiday spirited homebody this weekend.  I was too overwhelmed at this point last year to appreciate the season, but now that I’m a little more put together, I realize how important it is for me to celebrate this time of year.  Back in the States,  Halloween was basically  a month long for me.  While I can’t celebrate on the same scale I did before, I’m determined to do as much as I can.  A weekend full of DIY decorations and some Tim Burton movies was a pretty good start.  It takes a little extra effort as an expat to make a new place feel like home, but it’s so worth it. .

Chasing Fall

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I may or may not have had two pumpkin spice lattes

Sweaters, boots, bright colored leaves, cold air, Halloween, the promise of a new school year, and pumpkin everything.  I love it all.  Fall has always been my favorite season, for so many reasons.  Unfortunately, few places seem to be able to match the cheery vibrancy that an American fall captures so well.

When I first moved here last year, I kept waiting for the leaves to change and the fall spirit to soar.  It didn’t.  What I found instead were grey skies, lots of rain, and a lot of mopey people.  No Halloween, no pumpkin patches, no cider mills.  It’s really just not the same.  Honestly, this is the time of year that homesickness hits me the hardest.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for my long break to be in October and November instead of July and August.

I don’t want to fall into a rut the way I did last fall.  This year, I’m determined to get into the spirit, even if the weather doesn’t exactly match.

Here are a few things I’d love to do to make this season a little more snazzy:

Make some home-y fall recipes.  I’m thinking pumpkin pie and lots of chili.

Decorate.  My husband and I plan to get crafty this weekend and make some Halloween decorations and watch scary movies.  I can’t wait!

Play with yarn.  Nothing says fall like cozying up with my crochet needle and making some cool scarves.

Find some foliage.  I need colorful trees in my life!  Turkey is mostly pine, but we’re thinking of heading to the Belgrad Forest once it cools down a bit more around here.  Also, I’m strongly considering a weekend trip out of the country before the season is over…I’d love to go to England or Scotland!

Make a playlist.  My music taste definitely changes with the seasons.

Any other American expats out there who miss this time of year?  I feel like it just isn’t the same anywhere else.

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Apple picking, back in the college days

 

What’s in A Cup of (Turkish) Coffee?

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If you ever come to Turkey, you will soon become acquainted with Turkish Coffee, or as they call it, Türk kahvesi.  It is vastly different from what most Westerners consider to be coffee, so some people like it and others don’t so much.  I happen to be a HUGE coffee drinker and I love myself a good, strong cup of black coffee (which is a little hard to come by in Turkey), but luckily, Turkish Coffee has slowly started to grow on me.

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Turkish Coffee at Rixos in Eskisehir

Generally, Turkish coffee is served in a small coffee cup called a fincan with a side of Turkish Delight, otherwise known as lokum.  It is served in a small amount like an espresso and has a thick, somewhat gritty texture (which is what turns some people away from it) and a layer of foam on top.  It is also not the kind of coffee one can easily drink black.  I usually have at least 1/2 a cube of sugar in it.

I’ve been drinking Turkish Coffee pretty much since I got here, but only recently learned about the art of reading Turkish Coffee grounds when I noticed so many of the Turkish teachers doing it in the tea room at school.  Similar to reading tea leaves, Turks will look into their empty fincans for shapes and patterns left by the foam and coffee grounds to tell them what’s in store for their future.

Here’s just a quick little guide to reading your Turkish Coffee cup, just in case you  have access to Turkish Coffee and you’re interested in giving it a try:

Step 1:  Get your Türk kahvesi.  You can order it at a cafe or restaurant, or if you have a cezve, you can make it yourself.

Step 2:  Drink your coffee, but leave the grounds and just a tiny amount of the liquid to swirl them around.  I only mean a drop or two…otherwise it will all just fall out of the cup when you turn it over.

Step 3:  Put the small coffee plate over the top of your empty coffee cup and gently tip it over.  Leave the cup turned over on the plate for about five minutes.  The allows the remaining foam and grounds to drip down and dry up.

Step 4:  It’s time to predict your future.  When you look at your cup, you should see  some shapes and patterns, like so:

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In this particular cup, I noticed a mountain shape, which apparently means “a great ambition.”  The interpretation of symbols can vary according to the cup reader.  The best advice I’ve gotten is simply to have fun with it and think about what the symbols I find mean to me personally.

So far, I haven’t found any grims, so I guess I’m doing alright.  🙂

 

The Turkish Art of Construction-Watching

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After such a lovely vacation in Greece, it’s been hard to readjust to the ol’ grind back in Turkey.  This past week has simultaneously been slow and crazy trying to settle back into a bit of a routine for these last few weeks of school.

Even though I’ve been here for almost a year now (how is that even possible!?), I’m still learning something new about Turkey every day.  My most recent discovery is the traditional Turkish pastime of watching construction.  The school is currently undergoing some construction for a new Arts building (yay!), so there’s been a lot of digging, drilling, and demolition around here lately.  To me, it seemed like nothing special.  If anything, it was a bit of a nuisance to have to try to teach a class through all the racket.  The students, however, seemed fascinated by what was going on.  I had to coax my 10th graders away from the outside railing to actually come to class.

Initially I thought it was just a silly excuse for students to sit outside and duck out on a few minutes of class, but it turns out the love of watching construction is a legit thing here.  Even after classes, students were crowded in droves to watch all the action.  Even some of the cats were watching!  I finally had to ask what it was all about and the students explained that it was very normal for families to sit outside, drink some hot tea, and just watch construction.  It’s a soothing sight for many Turks.

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at the thought of sitting and watching a large yellow drilling machine tapping at a few measly bricks all day…to me it seemed just a notch above watching paint dry.  Still, I felt like I had to at least give it a try, so as the sun was setting, I stepped out to one of the balconies as the sun was setting to see what the hype was.  It turns out it was a pretty nice way to spend the evening, although to be fair, I think it was more about the nice weather and the sunset than it was about the drill.  Also, I didn’t have any tea handy, so I guess it wasn’t the full experience anyway.

Oh, Turkey.  Seni seviyorum!