Friday, February 20, 2015

A book to read: The American Mission

I read the excerpt on Diplopundit.

I think I have to buy it on Amazon.

Food in Istanbul

It's become clear that all the moaning I did about the weather in Istanbul last week was unwarranted.  Look at Istanbul now:

Last week today, we were standing right there.  It may have been cloudy and rainy, but it didn't shut down the airport at all and I didn't fear slipping my way down cobblestone streets.  Thank you Weather Gods.  Though admittedly my photos would have turned out prettier with snow instead of gray haze.

While in Istanbul we ate quite well.  TripAdvisor is a wonderful thing as we discovered that three of the highest rated restaurants in Istanbul were next door or across from our hotel.

Seriously.  I want to eat from these dishes All The Time.  Who wouldn't??  The restaurant is the Babylonia Garden and Terrace (#31) and had a fireplace.  Unfortunately the fireplace was right by the door, so the warmth was regularly replaced with a draft.

And what was under the cover was just as wonderful as the dish. Chicken over pureed eggplant.

TripAdvisor recommended the pumpkin desert.  I do not.  Chunks of raw pumpkin, frozen, and soaked in a sweetener with pistachio crumbles, along with a tahini sauce and a molasses sauce.  Unless that sounds awesome to you, give it a pass.

Wandering the streets one day, we bought a bagel-like bread spread with Nutella.  Nutella makes everything delicious.

That night we ate off more beautiful dishes with great food.  Albura Kathisma (#66) had mood lightening and an awesome selection of seafood.  My meal of monk fish and Ian's of giant prawns...

Our friends went for the house specialty, a meal cooked in a clay pot over a fire, broken open and served right at the table.

With, of course, dessert of chocolate souffle and ice cream.  Because even though I couldn't finish my pile of monk fish, there's always room for dessert.

What really makes the restaurant great is that, like Amman, you can't dig anywhere in Istanbul without hitting ancient ruins.

Part of the restaurant has a glass floor....

...and the ruins are remarkable.  It's a slow process unearthing the rooms and arches, but worth seeing if you have the opportunity to pop down for a visit.

Hello Snow!

It seems that every week the weather gurus claimed another blizzard was on the horizon.  While last night's snow wasn't quite a blizzard, we did get about 9 inches on the ground, and 13 inches on stuff like tables.

Snowy day calls for fresh bread.  This is the second attempt at making bread this month and it finally turned out.  It smells great and we're waiting to cut into it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Home from Istanbul

The kids survived :)

And so did we!  I present... a few photos...

Tour guide took this one.  Not sure how this shows
the Hagia Sofia!  Though we look pretty cute.

The riot police prepping before the student protest, outside the
window at lunch.

The Grand Bazaar, which was totally awesome.  Especially
if you get off the main drags.  Lots of very cool alleys to explore.

One of our favorite spots, the Basilica Cistern.  With carp!
And Medusa!

The Suleyiman Mosque.  Look close and see the
ostrich eggs, which were historically used to
attract bugs and spiders.

Had a GREAT trip with Erin and Jason.  Thank you so much for
letting us crash your party!

"Hagia Sofia with Funky Tree."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hair cut achieved.

Haircut, done.

Braces are still on.  Should be out of them by the end of the year. Al hamdalila.

When they come off, new glasses and another haircut.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jordan is in Mourning

It's no surprise that the best writing on the tragedy that has hit Jordan comes from Donna.  Donna doesn't live in Amman anymore, she's off to grayer pastures in Moscow, but living in Amman for 4 years leaves a mark.  I don't care who you are, you leave here changed.

Jordan fights, and fights hard, to stay moderate and peaceful.  It's not an easy job, and it's certainly not getting any help from its neighbors.  Look around, people, and recognize what Jordan has overcome year in and year out, look at the pressures from all sides to NOT be moderate.  To NOT be peaceful.  In fact, Jordan takes in nearly 1 million refugees, a strain on everything Jordan has, but the King reinforces that those who need help will not be turned away.  The support will not be stopped, and neither will the constant refusal to be pulled one direction or another, away from being a peaceful and solid country. I have much greater respect and understanding now than I did in Aug 2013 of how remarkable Jordan is and how much it needs to be protected and supported.

Jordan is a miracle, really.

So do me a favor and read Donna's post on The Evil and The Good.  Those barbarians don't represent faith, or God, or Islam.  The don't represent the people of the Levant or Iraq or Syria.  And they certainly don't represent the people of Jordan.

Our coworkers (I should note: both Moslem and Christian) are stunned. They are angry. They are hurt. Today the people of Jordan mourn the horrific loss of one of their own. And we mourn with them. Because that's what humans do.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bidding on the Brain

Nope, not bidding yet, but definitely getting into the mindset.  Four years is a long time to be at Post.  Too long for this family.  Settling in, feeling comfortable, both good things.  Getting bored (ask my husband), not a good thing.

Will we make our last 18 months count?  We're going to try.  Listen to us... "last 18 months."  For those on 2 year tours, 18 months IS the tour.  For those on 3 year tours, 18 months is only 1/2 way.  For us, we're starting the countdown.  What can we do in 18 months?  Well, lots of stuff.  There are plenty of places in Jordan we have yet to experience.  An overnight in Wadi Rum for one.  I'm trying to build a list and schedule out 12 places to go, one a ~month (skipping R&R month and a few others) and I'm open to suggestions.  It's a challenge because there are monthly trips with my job (I try to avoid some of them) and really, on the weekends usually our big goal is to do nothing but hang out at home.  Boring for the kids, awesome for the adults.

Today the boys are off to paintball with friends.  There's a newish place called Blu Tactical that is way closer than Mountain Breeze (which is having great deals right now, no doubt due to the increase in much closer and presumably better paintball places). They'll have fun.  I'd wanted to go to IKEA since it's in the general area, but apparently they're carpooling and taking my car which leaves me at home to use my new Little Green Machine on the curtains.  I lead a charmed life some days.  I may also work on crochet animal parts.

Rebecca's community service project for this year is to make animals for a local orphanage, so I'm pitching in to help figure out the directions and get a few put together as guides. I'm usually pretty quick, but it's taking me at least an hour for each part, which is crazy long.  Right now I'm making bodies and she's making legs as all the patterns have the same base parts. 

Or maybe I'll just spend the day scrapping last summer's trips.  If I can't plan for the future just yet and I decide cleaning curtains isn't really going to entertain me, I'll just live in the past for a few hours and review some of the great trips we took last year.