Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Chips and Orange Extract

It was a snowy day once again and I enjoyed being a temporarily stay at home mom once again. These muffins with chocolate chips and orange extract proved to be this week's treat. If you feel like treating yourself as we did, just let me know. The recipe is a super easy one. 

chocolate chips keep melting

it's snowing outside

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happiness

I just love these photos. They just remind me of all the happy moments I've had so far. Each wave of memory pelts my mind in circles whenever I look at them. Thanks for these great pictures, Emir. 

Milou and mum


Monday, December 27, 2010

Cultural Heritage

Sarajevo is a city of wonders to me. You need a manual to guide you here. Anything may happen when least expected particularly when the customs are concerned. Look at the two photographs, for instance. The first baby on Father Christmas's knees is my husband and the photograph was  taken in December 1978 in Sarajevo and the second one showing Milou with Djeda Mraz (as Father Christmas is recognised here) was taken two weeks ago here in Sarajevo. Apart from the fact that Milou takes after her super dad, there is something more blazing in both photos: Having a Santa Claus set up to take pictures with children regardless of their faith - an old Christmas tradition in Bosnia.
Milou's super dad with Djeda Mraz (1978)
My husband is a Muslim and muslims do not celebrate Christmas and so there would practically be no place for Father Christmas in his life. However, it has been extraordinarily normal to have a photograph with Father Christmas here in Sarajevo and all of my friends here (Bosniaks, Serbians and Croatians) told me they all have one in their family albums. Interesting, isn't it? I think the former Yugoslavian multiethnic society which was based on the concept of brotherhood and unity worked so well  that even today it is almost impossible to tell which custom/tradition belongs to whom. Customs from different ethnicities in the country were always welcomed as they are now. Well, after the war (1992-1995), nationalist overtones about anything concerning the "other" have been heard more frequently than before but the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian cultures have melted in such pots so harmoniously that it would be unfair to label this custom (having a picture with Father Christmas) only as a Christian custom. 

Milou with Father Christmas (2010)



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Noah's Pudding

Ashura is the word we use to call Noah's pudding in Turkey. Making ashura at home and sharing it with neighbours (regardless of their faith) is a common practice among Muslims and Christian people in the Middle East. It's claimed this dessert was the meal Noah cooked when the ark beached on Mount Ararat. It was made with all the leftover pieces in the ark's pantry - primarily grains, dried fruit and nuts. Here in Sarajevo, nobobody has ever knocked on my door and offered a bowl of newly made ashura yet. So, Milou and I decided to sharpen all the color pencils at home to make ashura with our own recipe using the leftovers. The result is awesome: Look at the colours and shapes like the ingredients in ashura symbolizing love and peace. 

Ashura with Milou's recipe
And the next day a friend of mine, Hilal,  who is from Turkey and lives in Sarajevo, saw the picture on Facebook and wanted to make a surprise for us: Traditionally prepared real ashura! To be honest, it was one of the best ones I've ever tasted. Good job, Hilal! 

Traditionally prepared ashura by Hilal

grains, dried fruit and nuts Milou and I could supply

nuts and pomegranate seeds to finish the dessert
If you feel interested you can reach detailed information about Noah's pudding at the page of Rumi Club at University of Massachusetts and if you'd like to give it a try, check this recipe at 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Steps

It's been a while since Milou started standing against the couch, sliding along it and even standing solo, though, we need a few weeks more to take the first steps alone. I've noticed I'm using 'we' instead of 'she' or 'our' instead of 'her' when it comes to talking about Milou's own walking experience. It's probably because I've been sharing her every milestone together but I think there is something beyond it: She hasn't grown enough to realise what's going on around and I feel I'm one of those few to record and remember each milestone like walking on behalf of her. I'm noting down every detail as 'we' leave them behind. If you examine the pictures below, you'll see similar expressions on the adults' faces surrounding the little stepping babies. Whenever Milou stands solo - ready to step toward independence - I feel as if they were my own first steps and get excited blended with a sense of happiness. A big smile of confidence follows wiping all 'our' worries off  'our' faces. 

by Johann Victor Kramer

 The First Steps by Frederick Arthur Bridgeman

 The First Step by Jozef Israels


The First Step by Pierre Auguste Renoir

First Steps by Vincent van Gogh  

Monday, December 20, 2010

UHU

Uhu means owl  and it's been there all those years. Shame on me. 
The word uhu means owl in German and the popular adhesive brand UHU has been using this word to sell its products worldwide. I noticed this only a few days ago. Although millions of people in Turkey -including me -  have been using UHU for decades, I am hundred per cent sure that no more than 1 out of 1000 people has ever wondered what the word itself means. It's just lack of curiosity. I felt so embarrassed when I realised I spent years so uninterested about something I'm so familiar with. Well, then I wondered why the company owners chose to name their branded products after an owl. I do not have the faintest idea. Have you got any idea?
   
UHU products have always been in yellow and black tubes in many different shapes. 
UHU has become the by-word for any adhesives in Turkey. The word UHU has been widely used by everyone there for years to describe, point at or ask for 'glue'. When you say, for example, "Have you got any glue?", you would probably hear someone around replying "Glue? (with a confused expression on their face) I've got UHU. It works, want some?". People have definitely stretched the meaning to fit different contexts where any gluing is needed. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pucca Funny Love


Duran is a precious young man in our lives. He loves Pucca and watching her funny love adventures. His birthday is on December 2 and he just turned 23. We decided with Milou to make a Pucca costume and 'Happy Birthday' card so that I could take photographs and send them to Duran as our birthday gift. 



We finished the whole costume, make-up and shooting all in just one hour. I cut and reshaped my red blouse into Pucca's plain red dress and then cut off the feet pieces of a pair of black tights to make Pucca's hair. After stuffing two lightly blown balloons inside the feet parts, I stitched them into the main part I cut from the upper part of the tights. I added leftovers from my red blouse to finish. I think the buns look a little bit over-sized but the result is amazing, isn't it? Duran loved it. Nothing else matters. 






Thursday, December 16, 2010

Schwarzer Peter / Episode II

Schwarzer Peter himself 


Yahoo Weather Alert's warned me by an e-mail this morning that it will snow lightly and the temretature will drop down to -6 °C during the day. No surprising weather forecast. It's quite an ordinary warning for Sarajevo people to hear these days and it poked me to pass the day away at home with the second set of cards in the Schwarzer Peter game box I mentioned in the previous post. Here is the second pack featuring forest animals in pairs. I'm posting some of them with their titles I translated  from German. All the illustrations, although the set is a new edition, remind me of those old children's books we read when, as the publisher - Ravenburger - says on its official website, ''playing was more than just passing time" and "being together was better than being alone". The pictures and the game itself are just beautiful. 


Mr. and Mrs. Owl
Mr. Tom and Mrs. Cathy
Mr. and Miss Monkey

Mr. Checkered Pants and Mrs. Poodle

Mr. and Mrs. Frog

Miss Mouse and her distant relative young Mr. Mouse

Mr. and Mrs. Fox
Mr. and Mrs. Hedgehog

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter in Sarajevo

Front cover illustration featuring Schwarzer Peter
      
Winter has arrived in Sarajevo and the snow made me remember a box of cards Milou had received along with some toys after her arrival. I'd totally forgot about them.  It is the traditional German card game known as "Schwarzer Peter" or Black Peter which is a similar game to Old Maid. The cards were printed in Germany by Ravensburger. We found actually two sets of cards inside the box. The first group of cards with illustrations by Wolfgang de Haen on them were designed in pairs plus the  Schwarzer Peter card. The two cards in each "pair" are related by subject matter, but each card has a different illustration. Here I'm only posting a few of the cards illustrating winter days. I love them and I'll start playing with Milou right away today. The temperatures drop down to minus I don't know what here in Sarajevo and we won't be able to step outside the door most of the time during the following few months. We'll definitely have great time at home with these cards while I introduce Milou winter activities.

Milou's super dad shovels snow every day.


We haven't made our first snowman yet. 

Bobsleigh riders: Milou and twin cousins.

Skiing lessons will start soon. 

Remember to feed the ducklings in the park. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Salt is not always white.

Salt has always been white to me. I could even tell you right now two tales about salt and its whiteness. Whenever I was asked to name things in white, salt was always one of them - until today. I was reading the February volume of Restaurants & Institutions* magazine and for the first time in my life saw that salt could be found and served in different colours. Hawaiian sea salts which are specialty finishing salts, for example, are red or black. Sel gris or a by-product fleur de sel are gray salts from France. Murray River is peach-coloured flakes from Australia and Peruvian pink or Pink Himalayan, as you can easily guess, are found in pink crystals. I stared at the photographs in the magazine for quite some time in amazement while all my rigid patterns along with all those ordinary images of salt were melting away. Though, the idea that a Peruvian villager or a Himalayan caravan driver would probably claim that salt is normally pink as I used to claim it's white relieved me a lot. I am far happier now both to have made a personal discovery and to have realized that I need to learn a great deal more about cooking starting with the basics. 

 Restaurants &Institutions magazine, February 2010, page 24

 Restaurants & Institutions magazine, February 2010, page 25
*a long standing publication on the food-service industry but shut down last April because  it was "no longer profitable". 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bored to Death

How can I control my life when I can't control my hair? I need to pay a visit to the nearest hairdresser's.
Window of a hairdresser's in Travnik

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"You a terrible singer, mum!"

Me, just talking to record. 
That's what Milou will say the day she becomes big enough to tell the difference between who is a good singer and who is not. I am definitely a tone deaf singer. I find myself singing different notes every time I sing the same song. What is more, I can't remember the words to any kind of song - even a simple lullaby. Thank God, Milou doesn't have a concept of pitch and she is too young to know the words. However, I feel terrible whenever I hear a friend around lulling her baby to sleep with a soothing song.  I feel terrible because I fear my bonding experience with Milou would be lacking something without singing lullabies. I even once asked Zahra - mom to a- month-old baby boy - to sing a lullaby to Milou for a change. Well, knowing what's what, I am trying to find solutions to my terrible singing sessions: I have bought albums with various lullabies from all over the world. I just sing along. At other times I just make up words for my instant homemade lullabies and keep trying to make those moments irreplaceable for Milou. 


It works. 


                                        video

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time to Recycle!

We have many worn out items at home. A little creativity always helps us find a new use for them - like Daddy's old worn out gloves. It takes only a few minutes to cut the fingers off and make them into finger puppets even with the rips in them. A few touches of liquid corrector and color pens make them look like what you would like to see them - a 60s hippie girl,  a saxophonist from old New Orleans or just a lovestruck boy with plaster on his head. A tea box with straws and two bottle caps become a Hawaiian icon - Lono - to guardMilou's toys against visitors.

Daddy's worn-out gloves became Milou's new finger puppets
  

Lono
 
                       

Monday, December 6, 2010

“The Second Coming”

It's time to go back home to Sarajevo once again. At Istanbul Ataturk Airport I couldn't find a proper place to carry the tickets before boarding and then..

                                                     W.B. Yeats - The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Friday, November 5, 2010

Tempus Fugit

I am allergic to kiwi fruit and so is my father. We both have the same symptoms in response to contact with the fruit. The day I realised this fact only 3 years ago was the day I stopped thinking that I did not belong to my parents. For years, I ridiculously waited in vain to discover that my father and I did not have the same genealogy just because we never sang in chorus all our lives. Never. We were always either at daggers drawn or ganging along. It has always been an unstable and unbalanced relationship. The day I watched his eyes go itchy, sore and watery and then his tongue, lips and throat get swollen after he swallowed a tiny slice of kiwi fruit was the day a sudden sense of belonging erupted in the pit of my stomach leaving no place for absurd suspicions about my ancestry.  It may sound funny but  it was a cushioning relief to see him in a new light - as my father.


                                                                Happy birthday daddy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Disappointment


Princess Milou and I are in Istanbul visiting my family.  Milou qualifies as a lap child so purchasing one ticket we took a straight flight from Sarajevo. Milou kept climbing up the seatback to show her blowing rasperries to the rest of the passengers all the flight long. One of the flight attendants even reminded us once more to keep the seatbelt fastened with all her politeness. Her eyes, though, were telling me that she could see how impossible it was to do so. A lovely couple from Katar was particularly interested in Milou and  she did all her best to attrack their attention while they were having their snacks. Well, she didn't take a nap during the flight but since it took only 1 hour and 20 minutes there isn't much else to report. 

Her super dad doesn't complain about it when we leave but I feel as though I stole all his joy away. So I'm describing the truely priceless happiness in my parent's eyes when they hug Milou at every opportunity- to make things easier. Anyway, Milou obviously has forgot everyone in the family since our last visit that’s why she's been spending that warming up time with the grandparents and 15-year- old uncle Furkan. I felt totally disappointed to find Milou crying whenever I leave the room or having a lot of difficulty falling asleep. I had made a long list of things to do and imagined my little Princess would spend all those hours while I'm out peacefully with her grandparents at home as she did last time we came three months ago. However, it seems unlikely for me to leave her alone with her grandparents to enjoy Autumn İstanbul.   So I still feel disappointed to see that warming up time is getting longer and longer. Perhaps I am a bit impatient to expect things too soon to happen - they say so.  

'Disappointment' by Furkan Ozer

Here is a picture drawn by Milou's uncle Furkan at the age of 4.  I've kept it all those years because it has always reminded me the exact expression hung on my face when I graduated from university as the top scoring student. I had been expecting life would  turn into  something different or turn me into someone different and realizing I’m no different the next morning was just frustrating – an unfiltered disappointment.