Sunday, July 24, 2011

Photo Class

I took a photo class today. It was so much fun!
The thing I was most nervous about was the one hour live model shoot. It's one thing to take pictures of your kids, but how was this going to work??
As I looked through my pictures, my discomfort was pretty obvious. I didn't fight my way around the other photographers to get close enough to get a decent shot. I ended up with a lot of elbows in the shots

and a lot where the backdrop just didn't cover enough of the area behind the models.

After about the halfway point, I wandered over to one of the two instructors and told him about my frustration with the backdrops, and how I wanted to try for different angles but the backdrops kept me from being able to do that.

He understood, and pulled me aside to see things from a different view. I'm not sure if he'd already found the view and was waiting for someone to show it to, or he came up with it, but it was very cool.
Then he started tweaking my camera settings and making me zoom in closer, and actually step closer.
Until I got *the* shot.
The shot.
He had told us at the beginning that he wanted us to give him our memory cards so he could critique some of the pictures. But after I got this shot, he told me he really wanted to make sure he had my card. To make sure I got it to him and that I reminded him that he wanted to see that picture.
I was obedient ;)

While we ate lunch, the two instructors looked through some of the cards and chose some pictures to go over after lunch.
He walked through a bunch of them, things that were good and things not-so-good.
Then he showed my first picture...and then the second one.
And said it was one of his favorites from the whole shoot today.
And had me acknowledge myself as the one who'd taken the picture.

Granted, he had a lot to do with the shot, but it still felt absolutely incredible.

So if you see a redhead floating on air sometime today, wave!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Contests: A request

I'm SO excited!
I've been chosen as a finalist in a contest for the place where I get my pictures printed, . They chose 14 pictures out of 100, one of them being mine, and now people are voting for their favorites. The top 8 pictures will be featured on the paper packs they send to all their new customers. How amazing would it be if my daughter's beautiful face was on one of those papers?!??!

So...would you mind taking 30 seconds and helping me out?

There are two ways to do it. If you're on Facebook, go to their fan page here, "like" it, and then "like" the picture of Jasmine here.
this is what you're looking for:

If you're not on Facebook or don't want to do it that way, you can email it to them. Go here to see the pictures, and then email them here  with the name of the picture ("Howdy, Girl!") and that will get me a vote too!
(please only vote once) :)

Thank you!!! I'll know in a week if I won and I'll be sure to let you know!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot hot hot

I don't usually complain about the heat here, because it's short-lived and a billion times preferable to the horrible long winters.
But this is a tough week to get through in this non-central air house.

We have a puny window a/c in the kitchen, and three fans pulling the air from the kitchen into the rest of the main floor.
It brings it down to a cool 84 degrees. (don't know how humid it is in here, but it's still pretty sticky).

Today and tomorrow are supposed to be really hot, and then back below 90 for the following three days.

Right now I'm wondering how wise it was to buy a house with a boiler/radiator system of heating the house, which means we can't do central air. It seemed wise enough in March, but right now central air has a lot more appeal!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Home from Istanbul

I suppose we're still technically in Constantinople, since Aya Sofya is still in my line of vision!

The only thing added to this after the picture above is a sign made by Bekah announcing its name.

And now to some food pictures with recipes:
Coban Salatasi (Shepherd's Salad)
cucumbers (the tiny ones are sweetest and closest to what you get in Turkey)
olive oil
lemon juice

This is a terribly non-specific recipe. Just cut up the vegetables and combine. I think I used 4 small cukes and 2 large and one small tomato, and a bunch of scallions (greens only). You can use the whites but they're a little more onion-y and I knew my kids would revolt.
Then add a bit of olive oil (roughly a tablespoon), a couple dashes of salt and a bit of lemon juice. Combine, taste, and add more of whichever there isn't enough of!

Ekmek (bread)
(it doesn't usually come out this flat. I didn't add enough flour. Didn't affect the taste, though)

1/2 oz/15 g fresh yeast or 1/4 oz/7 g dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 fl oz lukewarm water
1 lb/450 g/2 c white flour
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 fl oz cold water
scant teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F
Cream yeast with the sugar in the lukewarm water until frothy
Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast and the cold water. Draw in a little of the flour from the sides to make a smooth batter. Sprinkle a dusting of flour over the surface of the batter, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and leave the batter to sponge for about 20 minutes. Remove the cloth, draw in the rest of the flour, and knead well. Continue to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.
Pour the oil in the bottom of a bowl, flip the bread dough over it, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and leave the dough to prove for a few hours until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down, knead it again on a lightly floured surface and mold it into the shape you want. Place it on a floured baking tray and leave to prove again under a damp towel. Once it has doubled in size, you can score it with a sharp knife, glaze it, and sprinkle it with a variety of seeds. For a simple plain loaf just brush a little milk over the surface to harden the crust.
(*note: I didn't put the milk on the surface because I wanted to leave it vegan. It was still nicely crusty!)

Bake it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, then turn it upside down and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. It should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Leave to cool a little on a wire rack.

And the rest of the spread!

Here's a hint. Turkish food is labor-intensive. None of it (that I've made) has been terribly difficult, but it all takes a long time. There's nothing "instant" about any of it, even if I cut corners and grill the meats on my George Foreman grill. I still had to start it 1 1/2 hours before we planned to eat it.

So what I'm trying to say is: go ahead and try any of these recipes. You just might not want to plan to make them ALL. Or even more than one at a time!!

And now the rest of the recipes:

Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye (Green Beans in Olive Oil)
1 kg green beans
1 cup olive oil
3 medium size onions, chopped
2 large tomatoes
1 green pepper (I always leave this out)
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar

Remove the two ends of the strings of the beans, trimming the two sides. Cut them in half. Wash and drain.
Heat the olive oil. Lightly brown the chopped onion and the green pepper cut in 3-4 pieces. Add the tomatoes peeled and cut into small pieces (*I never bother peeling the tomato. Too much work and I've never been bothered by the peels in the finished dish*) Add the beans, salt and sugar. Mix well. Pour in just enough warm water to cover them.
Cover and cook on low heat for one hour, until the beans are tender and the sauce is reduced.
Let cool before serving.
(*I like this cold. As in, throw it in the fridge. It works out to be like a cold green bean salad*)

Cacik (garlicky yogurt)
*awesome for a hot day!* similar to tzatziki sauce, but is used as a side dish or a cold soup
plain yogurt
a couple cloves minced garlic
cucumber cut up as small as you can get it
chopped fresh mint

Mix yogurt in a bowl with garlic and cucumber. Add fresh mint to the top. Is best with an hour or two in the fridge to let the flavors meld.

I'll write the rest of the recipes another day. I'm tired and the recipes aren't in the room with me right now.

So, to conclude, a picture of Jasmine, headscarf worn in the style of the village women of Turkey:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting ready to visit Turkey

I go back and forth on which blog to post this on. We're doing it for school, but it's become much more than that.
This one won. Congratulations,!!!

We've spent this week creating the beautiful Byzantine church, Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) ready for showing off for family and friends.
You can see the progress of the exterior here.
Today I started cooking the things that don't have to be prepared last minute.
Yogurt, two appetizer/spreads, and a yummy green bean side dish. I'm not making a full meal...I'm not quite that crazy. But I'm making enough that it's two days in the kitchen! (Turkish food is labor-intensive)

Yes, I really was using all those cookbooks at the same time. As well as the hand-written recipe.

No, I don't think I made anything wrong. I hope.

After lunch (chicken nuggets; I wasn't up to making anything else!), we went onto the porch and started gluing small pieces of construction paper to the insides of Ayasofya. It was quite the activity.

We kinda ran out of steam, though.

We went out later and finished all the paper that was still waiting to be adhered.
I'm planning to have more paper cut up and let the kids who come be a part of "history" and help make the "mosaics." Though I haven't figured out how to keep it from getting too messy.

Still to do: finish cleaning, put the yogurt in the fridge when it's done incubating, and SLEEP.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A list

1. Yesterday I started planning a bit of a detour in school. Between "ancient history" and "medieval times," we're adding in a week to look at Byzantine Turkey.

2. Suddenly this week can't end soon enough.

3. I found all my Turkish pillows and scarves. The girls are so excited.
I told them to look "happy without smiling." That's tough for them. For me, too. 
Turks aren't big into the grins we Americans give to the camera. 

4. The next week of scheduled school has us making a mosque as the hideaway. So we're one-upping them. This coming week, we're creating Aya Sofya as a Byzantine church, and the following week we'll convert it to a mosque, complete with white-washing the mosaics on the walls.

5. Is it Monday yet?

6.We're also having a Turkish Open House, inviting people to stop by and taste Turkish food (lots of eggplant and yogurt are on the grocery list now) and see their creation.

7. The girls have already learned how to welcome guests appropriately.

8. If you've never been kiss-kissed by a four-year-old, you're missing out.

9. Last night we had thunder and blue skies for a half hour. The clouds finally came overhead.
10. The dark clouds weren't quite this dark. I over-photoshopped it.

11. Whoops.

13. I can't count.

14. Did I tell you I'm a finalist in a photography contest? More details will be coming in the next couple weeks. Warning you in advance that I may be begging for votes.

15. It's time to go. Bekah's asking me to translate everything into Turkish. Talk about a mental's been 10 years since I moved back!

Monday, July 04, 2011

When's New York's Birthday?

Jasmine is so confused.
New York...Buffalo...America...they're all "where we live" and she has no idea which one she really means to refer to.
To help things along, we've been referring to today as America's Birthday over and over again, to help them get the idea. It usually works.

The kids have been enjoying SchoolHouse Rock lately. Jasmine loves to ask me what each song is about, and when we'll learn that (and what subject it falls under). She and Bekah can now sing the multiples of three thanks to "Three is a magic number," and they know a little bit of history, science and government.
And the other day, Jasmine came down in "costume" and made me guess what she was.
thanks to her props and pose, I was able to figure it out:

Isn't she much cuter than the Green Lady??
Bekah had to be one too, but since the Statue of Liberty was already taken, Jasmine had a new suggestion: She could be the Statue of New Mexico!
(no picture of her, unfortunately)

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends and family! I love being an American :)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Trying new things

Last night I did something completely new: Irish Dancing!
I loved it. It was exhausting and SO much fun. I can't wait to go back!

Tomorrow Jasmine, Bekah and Hudson are getting a day out with their Auntie and Uncle. They're going to the zoo. Jasmine's been counting down for the past few days. They are all so excited!
So Josh and I will have most of the day free. How exciting is that??
And in spite of my natural tendency to say "what can we clean?!" we're working at finding fun things to do.

So we're looking into things that we've never done, or not since kids...maybe trying a shooting range, or a horseback ride. He called about using his Father's Day present (a half-hour flight) but they're booked for the weekend (big surprise).

Can't wait to see what we do and how much fun we all have!!

I played Hangman with the kids for the first time today. 
Well, the girls. Hudson thought he was playing too....

They loved it. They wanted to lead.

We ended up with a very confused leader: