Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sushi Chef (Say that five times fast!)

I love me some sushi. My whole family does.  This sounds rather sophisticated until I add that our favorite place to get sushi was our local San Antonio HEB. (That's a grocery store for you non-Texans).  Our HEB happened to be pretty high class and had its own sushi bar where they made fresh sushi everyday. It was good! San Antonio Rolls, Firecracker Rolls, Dragon Rolls - yum!

Here in Turkey sushi is significantly more trouble to come by than just popping it into the cart with the eggs and milk. So when I heard there was a sushi making class offered this month I jumped at the chance.  Originally I signed up Brannick to go with me, as sort of a celebration of his last day of work. But Brannick hasn't been feeling well so Carson enthusiastically offered to take his place. 

And so in support of Asian Pacific Heritage Month we showed up at the Airman Family Readiness Center ready to make some Sushi!
 Rolling it in the bamboo mat is the tricky part. But with a little instruction Carson got it down.

 Ta-daa!! Turns out Carson rocks at this. Look how perfect those slices are!
 Then it was my turn. I took it to the next level and wrapped it with the rice on the outside. Cuz I'm that cool.
 As evidenced by my completely cheesy grin.
We left the event full of good sushi and a sense of accomplishment. And at Carson's insistence we stopped by the BX and commissary to purchase a rice cooker and all the ingredients to make sushi for the whole crew.  So tonight is Sushi Night at the Ewings!! Come on over!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My totally awesome globe-trotting parents!

In April my parents came for a visit along with my mother's sister, Aunt Geri. We spent a week traveling around here locally and then went on a much-anticipated Greek Island Cruise. It was an amazing time. Everyday I looked at my children and thought, "Remember this! Remember this!" And I truly hope they do. Partly because we saw so many beautiful places and things. And partly because they had two weeks with their wonderful grandparents. This is something a lot of kids, including most of my siblings and their children, can take for granted. But a military family can't. Time with extended family is rare and precious time.

Having them along really made the experience. So instead of doing a travel log of all the places we went to, I thought I'd just do a montage of parent photos and tell you a bit about them along the way.
This is my mom - LaVonne. If you look up the word 'enthusiasm' in the dictionary, you would find her picture.  She is always smiling and often singing. My kids made a game out of trying to come up with words she couldn't use in a song. The only one they stumped her on was 'crowbar'. This is her best imitation of a Roman goddess statue at Elaiussa Sebaste.
This is my dad - Brannick. He is still Superman to me. He is wise and gentle. I was never ever afraid of him as a child. The nicest thing he ever said to me was that if all the things I had accomplished were taken away, he still would love me and be proud of me for just the person I was.
Here they are at the White Valley at Cappadoccia. They loved staying in the cave motel and seeing the cave churches. I had forgotten (or didn't ever know) that my dad is claustrophobic but he enjoyed the tour of the underground cities all the same.
 Mom holding a hedgehog. I really wanted to show my parents a hedgehog. The night we went out looking for them we were unsuccessful in all the usual spots. So we turned around and headed back home. And then I spotted this little guy in the side yard of a nearby house. As there are no hedgehogs in the States, they were pretty tickled to get to see one up close and personal.
 On the hike back up from a cave called Heaven - near a huge pit called Hell. This was a strenuous hike with something like 400 unevenly spaced stairs. But my parents are in great physical shape and handled the hike just fine. We were all glad that we were visiting in the springtime and not the hot summer!

My mom at the Women's Market -she purchased this vest from the woman who made it. And even though she speaks no Turkish and the woman spoke no English, my mom was so excited and admiring of the vest that by the time she paid for it the woman was kissing and hugging her like they were old friends. The same things happened at the Incirlik Thursday market with aTurkish man and a pair of cheap shoes (well, less kissing).  My mom has that effect on people. She doesn't just make friends, she makes fan clubs.
Dad at a Mosaic Museum in a town not far from the base. Soon after we left the town, heading for Snake Castle, I got hopelessly lost. I could see the castle but I couldn't get to it. We ended up far off course in an unfamiliar city. Normally this would completely freak me out but my dad has always had a encouraging effect on me. We have a long history of me doing things that terrified me (ferris wheels to rock rappeling) if and only if my dad was there beside me.  As it happened, some nice Turkish men who spoke no English but noticed our obviously American behemoth car lead us out of the city and back to the main highway.
One of the reasons we chose a Greek Island cruise is that 30 some odd years ago my dad traveled to some Greek Islands to buy sheep for Iranians. Intrigued? Well, that is another story but he remembered the Greek Islands as some of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. So he was pretty excited to see Greece again and we were excited to go with him. Even if we didn't buy any sheep.
Santorini - rode donkeys up the steep hill from the dock to the mountaintop towns. How many retirees can say that?
 The Parthenon in Athens. Bucket list - Check.
Mars Hill. Where Paul preached. Which was a pretty gutsy thing to do considering that the Parthenon is right behind him. Before coming to Turkey, my mom did extensive research on Paul and his travels. She was so excited to visit Tarsus, Ephesus and Mars Hill. They've both been to Jerusalem before but like me before coming here had no idea how much Biblical history is in and around Turkey.
 Speaking of Ephesus. . . .
And here's Hieropolis. We fit both of these lovely Turkish Roman ruin sites before and after our cruise.  I'm pretty sure my parents were stuck in the Rome airport back in the 70s with three little kids and no diapers due to a canceled flight. That little adventure left no time for touring Roman antiquities. Who knew that coming to visit the same daughter who wore her dad's hanky tied around her tush in lieu of a nappy on the next flight out of Rome would remedy that?
I haven't covered even half of what their visit entailed but that's okay. This photo shows pretty well how the visit felt to me.  So Happy Mother's Day and Happy Father's Day Mom and Dad. Thanks for coming to visit us. Thanks for being the wonderful parents and grandparents that you are. Thanks for making all of us feel so loved.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bond Girl for a Day

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Month! A big thank you for all the fellow military wives who have helped me keep my sanity over the last 12 years. And another big thank you to all those non-military wives (and their husbands) who have been my friends and my support in so many ways.  If heaven is as I expect, then someday you will all understand what an impact you have had on my life.

So today was a pretty good day. There was a trip organized for military spouses to go visit the James Bond Bridge and hike in a nearby Karaisali canyon. It's called the James Bond Bridge because scenes from the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, were filmed on the bridge. To the locals it is known as the Varda Köprüsü bridge, the German bridge, or the Devil Bridge. Whatever you want to call it, it's a pretty awesome bridge.
 Built in 1909 by the Germans (hence the name), it was part of the Istanbul-Baghdad railway line which connected Berlin to Basra enabling the direct shipment of oil to Germany.  So this bridge is over 100 years old and its still in use! 
 Here's me, pretending I'm a Bond girl. Not really. To be honest, I'm not that much of a Bond fan. It always bothered me that one night in bed with him would make the sexy Soviet spies change sides. Yeah, right. Go peddle your sexist drivel somewhere else. But the bridge was impressive.
I've always wanted to do one of these trick shots.
Here is me standing in the middle of the bridge. My leg bones are only hurting a little. (Does this happen to anyone else when they are on a height?)
Last one of the bridge, I promise. But it really was cool. Oh, and if you have seen the movie and are wondering where the tunnel into the mountain at the end of the bridge is, that was movie magic. No tunnel. No mountain.

After the bridge we hiked the Karaisali Canyon. The canyon has sheer rock walls with a river at the bottom and looks very much like something you'd see in southern Utah or even near the Grand Canyon.
 After hiking an easy 45 minutes we could see this waterfall. It was on the opposite side of the river from the trail but there was a nice picnic area where we could stop and eat our lunches in the shade. There were newly built covered wooden platforms that were lovely.
 The water was cold but felt good! I freaked out some of my fellow spouses by hopping stepping carefully out to this rock. (The water around me is quite deep.) But I didn't fall in and we made it safely back to the bus.
All in all it was a great day to get off base and see something new and a wonderful chance to get to know some of the spouses better.  It's such a small base and you see the same faces all over the place but don't always have a chance to get to know people.

Being gone all day on this trip meant typing up History exams for child 3 and 4 last night, rushing through an Algebra lesson for 1 and 2 this morning, throwing a roast into the crockpot for chimichangas 15 minutes before I left, hoping someone would remember to go pick up number 5 from the bus this afternoon, and leaving quite a few things undone that needed to get done. But I'm so glad I decided to go anyway. Sometimes its nice to get away from all the responsibilities and just have some fun. And it's nice to be appreciated!

Being a military spouse has lead me down roads I never would have dreamed of, both literally and figuratively. It has tested me, tried me, and strengthened me and occasionally come close to breaking my heart.  I am a different kind of person than I would have been without these experiences. I hope a better one but maybe just a more flexible one. And one who is grown accustomed to saying goodbye, both to my husband and friends, far more often that I'd like to.  One thing I do know is that I have a closer relationship to my children than I would have had in a civilian life.  I'd say that is pretty great perk.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Henry's quilt

Remember when Delaney and I went up to Germany to visit my friend Jayne who was stork-nested up there to have her baby? (Read about that here.) Well, Jayne is back in Turkey with her two cute kids and a darling little baby boy named Henry.

We threw a small shower for her in our church women's group.  From the seven women there she received a star shaped crocheted blanket, a knitted stuffed rabbit, a crochet teddy bear, an embroidered receiving blanket and two handsewn hooded towels. We are a talented bunch!

Anyway, here is my contribution.  A few months ago I showed Jayne three different fabric options for baby boy quilts. She picked Ten Little Things. So using Amy Smart's Off-Set Square Tutorial, I made this quilt:
 All of the prints are from the Ten Little Things line. The solids are Turkish cottons purchased in Adana. They seem to be good quality but I still worry that they won't hold up as well as the prints.
 I love those owls. They are so cute!
For the backing I used everything I had left of the asterisk prints in brown and blue. The middle bit is a Turkish cotton. It seemed to fray easily so I serged it to the other pieces and then put a straight seam just inside the serging.  When my mom came to visit I asked her to bring me some Heat N Bond. She did, but when I went to use it I realized she had brought me the no sew kind. And they aren't kidding. You really can't sew through it very well. So I used a blanket stitch to sew down the applique and then echo stitched around each letter so I could see from the front where to avoid when I was quilting it together.

That wasn't the only bump in the road either. My machine went all wonky on me when I tried to free motion stipple this quilt. After a two days of frustration I finally got it to behave again and was able to finish the quilt without the thread shredding every two inches. Yay!

Jayne loved it and hopefully, as it turned out to be fairly large for a baby quilt, Henry will love it for several more years to come.