Thursday, November 29, 2012

My hair

So I've been planning on doing a blog post about my haircut.  I wanted to wait for the new look to kind of settle in my own mind before doing it. But fate and facebook intervened when a photo of me decorating the club Christmas trees showed up on my timeline. So I guess it's time.

In preamble, here are a few facts about me and my hair.
1) I have great hair. Fairly thick, medium wavy.
2) I hate having hair on my neck when I'm hot. I have to put it up.
3) I can not accomplish much of anything when with hair in my eyes and face. It has to be pinned back out of my face for me to get anything done.
4) The result of numbers 2 and 3 is that I wear my hair up about 90% of my life.
5) I just turned 40.

The combined result of these facts is a new do'.  About a month ago I took some pictures with me, walked in to Pretty Man Woman salon in the alley and asked Mustafa, who looks like Antonio Banderas Turkish brother, to cut it off.  Getting a haircut in Turkey can be somewhat of a claustrophobic experience as there are always at least 2 and sometimes 3 people hovering around you. One to cut, one to brush hair off you, hold the dryer or comb or whatever, and one to sweep up the hair under your feet. I don't enjoy it. But I like the cut. It feels good.

I admit that it doesn't look much like the Sharon Stone pics I brought in but I think that's mostly because with the weight of length off, my hair is curlier.

One of my concerns about cutting it off was how it would look with my roundish face and um. . . thick figure.  All plus size models have long hair and bigger gals are advised against having short hair cuts.  But I think it looks okay on my body.  I am consciously trying to lose my vanity as I get older.  And with short hair, I don't look like a model or the heroine or a young sexy babe. But I look like me. And looking like me is okay.

The reactions have been interesting. One of the gals on the street said, "Wow, that must have taken a lot of courage to do that." I took that as a great compliment.  Because it did take some courage. My favorite Turkish checker at the commissary winked at me and told me I looked younger.  Brannick didn't like it, although he did like the AWFUL highlighting job I had done a week later and then had to get fixed. Geoffrey likes it.  I know one of my brothers-in-law will hate it. My sisters will be surprised and then tell me they like it and that it makes me look like our mother. What do you think? 

Carson's birthday

Last of the birthday stretch. Carson is now officially a teenager!!  My efforts to come up with something unique and fabulous for each birthday this summer/fall had just about been exhausted. But Carson's recent re-reading (listening) of the Lord of the Rings series gave me an idea. I commissioned my talented friend Jayne to make me a Lord of the Rings cake.
The elvish writing on the outside is the actual script from the inside of the ring. 

She even made it marbled inside. 

It turned out pretty darn amazing!! Carson requested lemon cake and Jayne said she was so happy to be able to do something other than chocolate!  Carson was so tickled with it.

I was also smart enough to take Brannick shopping with me at the BX. I had waited too long to order in gifts and was despairing at what to buy him here on base. But he came up with some great ideas, the best of which was this pleather jacket. Since he is still growing (daily it seems like), we didn't want to go with a more expensive real leather yet but this jacket looks and feels great. And Carson loved it. We also got him a more comfortable seat for his new bike and a few other small things.

If anybody can tell me how to flip a picture I would appreciate it!

Geoffrey took him on an outing to Adana to have dinner and find the RC store and the go-cart track. They had quite an adventure but in the end they decided to order an RC truck off the net. It should come soon.

Carson has handled this drastic change so well. I see a new confidence in him as he gets older. Sometimes that confidence means that he is a more daring in annoying his sister, but its still a good thing. Over Thanksgiving he even said he was thankful that we were able to move around so much! I was surprised and grateful. I don't know that I would've handled so much change as well when I was a teenager.

Quilting in Turkey

     Disclaimer: this post is not strictly about adventures in Turkey (although it does include a trip to a Turkish fabric store). But at least one of my quilting friends wanted to see what I have been up to sewing wise.

I still order fabric off the internet - the blessings of having an APO address. In fact the only Black Friday shopping I did was for fabric! Two different sites and I'm not admitting what the total damage was. But this month I did venture down into Adana to visit the 5 story fabric shop. I dutifully brought my camera to document the trip. And then failed to take a single picture. ... .sorry.
     The bottom level of this fabric store was where the cottons were sold. Other levels had suiting/shirting fabrics, home decor fabrics, and drapery fabrics.  The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with shelves full of bolts of fabrics. In front of the walls are counters. And between the walls and the counters are clerks. You aren't allowed to go behind the counter yourself and look at the fabric. Instead, you indicate to the clerk which bolt you would like to look at. He (they were all men) will bring it down and unroll it on the counter so you can feel it. He will do this again and again and again until you have a whole mess of bolts on the counter.  Then when you decide what you want and tell him (by the meter), he grabs a meter stick does a rough measure in the air with the fabric and cuts it with scissors. No careful smoothing on a flat surface to ensure exact measurement. But it works. He then keeps the fabric and begins to write up a ticket. When you are done with all your purchases at that counter he will give you the carbon copy of the ticket and keep the original and the fabric. The check-out is at a high counter near the door. You hand that clerk you carbon ticket and pay, after which another clerk will give you your already bagged fabric as you walk out the door.
       The quality of the fabric is not five star, $10 per yard standards. But its not cheap Walmart fabric either. Somewhere in between. And quite a bit of it is double width. So one meter of fabric is a LOT of fabric. The prices were 12 Lira for the double wide and 7 lira for the single wide. So that's about $7 per yard and 4$ respectively. Not bad.
         I didn't go in there looking for anything specifically but I did buy several different black, white and red fabrics. And then I saw a double wide width that reminded me of a fall color scheme and a maple leaf quilt block that I wanted to try. So I bought the backing and then then matched some solids for the leaves. I probably won't cut into these for a while but it was fun to get them and fabric doesn't go bad.

       Meanwhile, I have been doing some sewing. I've made three baby quilts in the last month or so. The Primary president in our branch had a sweet little girl named Magnolia. Maggie for short.  I don't have a lot of girly baby fabrics but I did have some leftover ladybugs from the Grouchy ladybugs wall hanging I did for my sister and some leftover flowers from a skirt Delaney made. So I found some more scraps and came up with this:

Its a disappearing nine patch. A little small but its a great size for tucking around a car seat.

In looking through my scraps I realized how much orange I had. So the next baby quilt, which was for Ayten's new granddaughter was destined to be orange.  This one was just off-set bricks. I used scraps of yellow minky in both, which made for some lovely softness but was a pain to work with.  This one finished out much larger, a good crib size.
Isn't she a lovely model?

Because of the strict rules here about American military goods getting onto the black market, you have to be very careful about giving gifts to Turkish people. And they have to be careful about accepting them. So Ayten had me drive her to the gate, and drop her off. She walked through on her own, and then I walked through with the quilt in a bag and gave it to her outside the gate.  Since I had not used anything from the exchange or the commissary,  I thought it was alright to give it to her. She said her daughter loved it and it was 'cok guzel' which means very beautiful. The baby was her first and was named 'Yamer.' 

The third quilt was for my next door neighbor's new baby. She had not found out the sex beforehand so we didn't know it was a boy until he was born. I was relieved because I didn't think I could come up with another girl quilt.  I did have plenty of boy fabric, including some leftover tumbler blocks from Evan's space quilt. Remember that one?

Well, I had enough tumbler blocks to do a quilt center and enough leftover scraps to do two borders (with a little fudging) and the binding all from the same line of space fabrics. Not enough to do the backing but I did have something from a clearance sale at Creative Sewing Center in Texas that would work. (In fact, I think I like it better than the backing on Evan's quilt.)

I finished this on in one day, thinking that I would take it to the new mom when I brought part of a meal. But, then the neighborhood ladies started talking about doing a baby shower and then my neighbor had to go back to the hospital for two more days (she's home and okay) so that turned out to be over-ambitious. I like how this one turned out.

Future quilting plans? Well, Brannick is dying for me to make his Edgar Allen Poe spiral quilt. He's been a bit jealous of these baby quilts. And I've been considering sending a quilt up to Frank and Crystal in Germany as a thank you for being such wonderful hosts. With all the scrapbooking I need to get done before Christmas ordering deadlines, I'm not sure that is feasible but we'll see.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My first Carpet Party

      Last night I went to a carpet party. A what? A party held at a carpet store during which you eat a delicious Turkish meal, learn about carpet types and quality, and then mingle with the carpets. At this point it becomes a bit like clubbing. You are encouraged to take off your shoes, walk around on the carpets, touch them, examine them from different angles to see the colors change. And if one of them really strikes your fancy you can take it home for the night. Or a few days. This practice is called 'dating' a carpet. You can see how things work out before making a more permanent commitment. Of course, this lead to several funny comments about maintaining your standards while dating- not getting horizontal,  staying out of bedrooms, etc.
This is Lisa and Michael - our hosts for the carpet party. Michael is somewhat of an expert on carpets. They have a collection of 30. They have a rotation schedule of sorts to give them all some floor time. Its like he's a carpet polygamist!

        Near the end of the evening the power went out. We wondered if it was a deliberate move on the part of the shop owners to really lower inhibitions and get the carpet chemistry going. But as the whole block was without power, we reconsidered. In any case, it did create a romantic ambiance that my friend Melissa couldn't resist. This carpet was the softest one we had feet-felt and with the lights off she gave in to temptation and rolled around on it. I caught her with my flash camera. The owner saw the picture and asked if he could have a copy. He's thinking of producing a 'Carpets Gone Wild' DVD.
        The floor roll must not have been as great as she was hoping however, because although I gave her first dibs, Melissa decided NOT to take this lovely thing home. So I did.  It is truly so soft and has a gorgeous tree motif on it. And because I know you are wondering - its price (discounted just for the party) is $750.  It fits perfectly at the end of my bed.  I haven't rolled around on it. Yet.

      I also took home this one - which is much bigger and has a striking color combination of navy and aqua that doesn't really show up well here. Its price tag is $1750. I probably won't buy either of them. I have a rule about never owning anything whose value would force me to do bodily harm to my children when they damage it.  So this will be just a one night stand sort of thing.
      Geoffrey was not able to attend the party. He was on call, had spent all day at the clinic working and seeing patients. So I wanted to take home a carpet or two to show him.  I'm sorry he couldn't go as he would've really enjoyed learning about all the different types of carpets and the regions they come from.
     There will be more carpet parties and I'm hopeful he will make it to the next one.  I'd like to go to one held by a merchant who sells the less expensive machine made carpets. I hear that those guys play fast, loose and cheap. Yee haw!

Startling update:  Geoffrey loved the carpets I brought home!! We invited Lisa and Michael over this evening to tell us more about them and about carpets in general. And we are considering keeping BOTH the carpets.  I'm not sure which is more shocking - the fact that we are considering buying two carpets that together cost more than my first car or that my husband actually liked the two that I picked out and wants to commit to them without going to check out every other carpet in the store himself first!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hedgehog hunt - Success!

This past weekend we have had visitors from the Bulgaria Sofia Mission. Elder and Sister Bower, who live in Istanbul, came to visit our little branch of the church here in Adana. The branch members all took turns having them for dinner. Ours was Saturday evening.

I made Cafe Rio salads and Apple Pie Cake for dessert. We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed visiting with the Bowers. They lived in Hawaii for most of their lives and raised their family there. They also served as mission president for the Fiji mission. As missionaries they now teach institute and seminary classes and help train church leaders in the Istanbul branch.

After dinner we gave them the option of playing games or going for a walk in search of hedgehogs while we let our food digest. They chose the latter. Sister Bower brought her camera and I fervently hoped that we would find some hedgehogs for her to photograph. We did!! We found the first one over near the perimeter fence. Geoffrey and Brother Bower were standing there talking for a while. Once we caught up, they moved on down the path, not realizing there was a hedgehog just 5 feet behind them.

The trick is to look for lumps on the grass.  Some of them are just lumps but others will be cute little spiny potatoes with legs.  I noticed a lump on the hill and told Evan to shine his flashlight on it. Sure enough, it was the biggest hedgehog we have seen yet.  The Bowers were fascinated and Sister Bower got several cute pics of it.  We all touched its spines (which don't come loose or have poison) and then nudged it into a ball so they could see how completely it rolls up.

After a while we walked on some more. Near the tennis courts Evan found another one! We've never found two hedgehogs on the same hunt so this was a personal best! We tried to get this one to run away so the Bowers could see how cute their little skittery legs are. But he was determined to stay where he was.  Oh well.  On the way back home we were also able to show them examples of the spotted frog population and the huge nasty spiders that live in holes in the grass here. 

Sister Bower told me today in church that her favorite part of this trip was the chance to be in the church members' homes and visit with them. They were not expecting that and had really enjoyed it.  I hope our hedgehog adventure will be a pleasant memory for them and maybe a good story to write home to their kids.  And now when we get up to Istanbul we will have some friends to take us around to the sites of the city. So bonus for us!

BTW - if you are thinking of trying this at home, I'm afraid that won't be possible. There are no indigenous hedgehogs in the Americas.  Or Australia. But you can buy them as pets. Just sayin'.

P.S. There are also 4 young elders in Istanbul right now. They are only here on visitors visas and not allowed to do any active proselyting. But it's a start!