Tuesday, April 26, 2011

International Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı)

This past week has been an exciting holiday for kids here in Turkey. April 23 is Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı which is literally translated as "The Holiday of National Sovereignty and Children's Day".

All over the country the week of April 23 is celebrated with spectacular activities, and thousands of children come to Turkey from all over the world to stay in Turkish homes and join in the celebrations.

Did you know that Children's Day actually originated in Turkey?

There's also a very interesting history behind how it came about. On April 23, 1920, during the War of Independence, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was born out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. On this day, Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, dictated his vision for modern Turkey - independent, secular, progressive and republican. He proclaimed the new Turkey to be "a state of the people and a state by the people" declaring all citizens - men and women, rich and poor - to be equal before the law.

And to commemorate this great day for Turkey, Atatürk gifted April 23 to the children, entrusting in their hands the protection of this sovereignty and independence.

A day dedicated to the children of the world is a lovely way to show our appreciation for the creators of our future.

In our house though, everyday is Children's Day.

More than 1 & 1/2 years later ...

It's finally working! The sewing machine, that is. After receiving the desperately needed parts from my brother when we met up in Australia a couple of months ago, we took the machine to several machine mechanics to replace the parts. Of course, owing to my luck when it comes to this bloody sewing machine (you might remember this, this and this post about my sewing machine frustrations), none of the mechanics seemed to have any idea whatsoever and we ended up with a machine with brand new parts that still did not work!!!  Finally Murat decided he'd had enough and decided to have a go at fixing it himself. It took him approximately 10 minutes and it was done! Fixed! Just like that! Whoop Whoop!

That was back in February, then we moved, and it was only today that I nervously unpacked the machine and decided to actually start a project for the first time.

As I was plugging it in and turning it on, I half expected the thing to blow up or disintegrate or dissolve into a puddle of shiny slime. But none of that happened. It was still working!

So I had the idea to do something about a hole in one of Ky's t-shirts. A sneaky applique cover-up. Not such a difficult project to ease the machine into. For me it was simply a matter of drawing a shape onto paper, cutting it out, pinning it to some material, cutting that out, pinning it to the holey t-shirt and putting it under the foot of the sewing machine. It was then the machine's job to stitch the fabric to the t-shirt...

It's a guitar ...

A bit crooked but let's all pretend it's meant to look like that.

A close up of the skillful work of my beautiful machine

These are the holes I covered, a result of an overzealous grandmother's stain removal attempts...

Ky's latest "smile!" pose

It turned out great! I'm so happy that I have a working machine. I have about ten thousand projects in my ideas box that need fruition.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Much Needed Renovations

Since moving (and I use this term reluctantly because we were only supposed to be here for a few days) back to our house in Ankara, we've been very busy with some much needed renovations.  The house is relatively new - construction and most of the renovation was completed less than 3 years ago.  But there were many many things, both big and small that we planned to do one by one over a period of a few years.  As it turned out, we ended up moving to Antalya for a couple of years and of course all the renovation plans were still waiting for us when we returned.

The biggest and most important renovation is exterior insulation.  During construction, this was somehow overlooked...  With winter temperatures in Ankara typically dropping to lower than -15 degrees celcius, this is a pretty major oversight!

Murat's poor parents, who recently moved in to look after the place, suffered through a long and freezing cold winter bundled up in the basement with a little wood stove to keep them warm and to avoid having to spend a fortune heating the entire house.  The basement, mind you, is pretty much fully self-contained.  Unfinished but livable ... barely.

After we moved in and experienced the sub-zero temperature inside the house for ourselves, we decided the insulation could wait no longer.  Despite the huge expense, this became the first thing on our renovation list and we've been diligently researching materials, collecting quotes and comparing quality of service and cost of materials.  We're still working on that....

In the meantime, we installed a kitchen!

Since we're back home together with the in-laws for the time being, we all decided it would be nice to finish the 'granny flat' downstairs so they could have their own comfortable private space (and we could have our space too).  The first job on the granny flat list of renovations was installing the kitchen they brought over from their old house.

Unfortunately, it wasn't just a matter of fitting the pieces together and screwing them to the walls.  Water pipes had to be moved (within the concrete walls and in the ground outside) and electrical outlets had to be repositioned...

Murat and a family relative worked really hard to get all this done over the course of about a week.

After that, there was a lot of cutting up and rearranging of the original kitchen, building of new cupboards, extending benchtops, placing of splashback, and all the other bits and pieces that go along with trying to fit a big old kitchen into a small space...

And finally, the actual installation and finishing touches were completed.

It took a few weeks, lots of sweat, a bit of swearing, lots of trips to the hardware store for buying and exchanging materials, and quite a bit of patting themselves on the back, and finally it was finished and the Babanne (grandma) was cooking up a storm of borek, backlava and bulghur pilavi.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Delivery!

Have a look at what arrived today!

4 kilos of lovely yellow farm fresh butter and 2 1/2 kilos of farm fresh cheese!

We buy our cheese and butter from hubby's family home town of Rize.  Rize is a little village on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, very close to the Russian border.  It's a truly beautiful little piece of heaven on earth.  Famous for tea, the village is almost hidden amongst tiered tea plantations covering entire sides of mountains.  It's so green and so lush and the air is so crisp.  The few farmers who don't grow tea, tend small herds of goats and cows which they care for as though these animals are members of their own families.   What a perfect place from which to get our dairy products.

Guess where we're going to holiday when the weather warms up?

Here's a couple of pictures of me in Rize from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Hat

Even though he spent most of his two year old life in the nude (in hot hot hot Antalya), Ky doesn't want to play with his 'baby' when it's not wearing any clothes.  It is pretty cold here though.  Hopefully he's not becoming a prude and is just being compassionate.  Anyway, I've been meaning to make some clothes for the doll but just haven't felt motivated until the other day when I felt an intense desire to make him a hat!

I found this ball of pure wool in a bag and thought, "Rasta hat" and this is how it turned out.  Not quite the traditional rasta colours but I think it turned out really cute.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Work in Progress: Crocheted Wool Blanket

Last year I learned to crochet.

I started my crochet schooling by looking at a couple of tutorials online, and whipped up a couple of balls of yarn worth of granny squares.  It was fun!  I still haven't decided what to do with said squares yet though....  Anyway, I told my mum how much I enjoyed crocheting those pretty granny squares and she subscribed to 'The Art of Crochet' for me.  As well as heaps of patterns for various clothing and household things, each weekly edition also comes with a ball of yarn and instructions for completing a single crochet square using different techniques, with the eventual aim being to complete a huge and very cute baby blanket!  I picked up the first 20 editions while I was in Australia and diligently crocheted the 20 squares.  I can't believe how much fun I had learning the various stitches.  What a nerd!

Anyway, while waiting to return to Australia at the end of the year to collect the rest of the magazines, I've been making a blanket!  I'm definitely not the quickest crocheter in the world and this blanket has been occupying most of my evenings after putting the babe to sleep.

It's almost done and here's how it's looking so far:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A little bit of spring

As a write this, it's 2.5 degrees C outside and snowing.  For those of you who work on the other scale, that's 36.5 F.  In everyone's language, that's bloody cold for the middle of spring!

I'm getting rather antsy about the weather and really need the 'real' spring to start.  As much as I hated the 40C plus weather of last year's summer in Antalya, lately I find myself constantly fantasizing about sweaty afternoons on the beach.

The other day, the tree on the footpath in front of our house was pruned.  In my desperate need for a bit of spring in my life, I snapped up an armful of branches, brought them inside, cut them into just the right sizes and stuck them in an old champagne bucket.  Within a couple of days, the buds on each branch started to bloom!  They may be extremely ugly flowers, but watching those buds open to reveal new growth inside, makes me feel so happy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Face!

Well, it took approximately 2 minutes to finish the little doll's face.  Another reason to love the simplicity of Waldorf-inspired dolls!

The hardest part was choosing the colour thread!  I didn't have the exact colour I wanted for the eyes and I didn't want to buy new thread for the sake of about 20 centimetres so I grabbed some too dark blue and some bright dark green thread, twisted them together and created blue-green eyes.

I had a similar problem with the mouth.  I had only bright red and bright pink thread which would be entirely too .... bright!  So I grabbed the pink, and some light brown, twisted them together and wah-lah! - the result was a much more 'manly' lip colour.

Now for some clothes.  Afterall, as Ky keeps reminding me "çok soğuk! bebek jacket!" (translated: "Very cold! Baby jacket!")

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Little Waldorf Companion

I love Waldorf dolls.

picture borrowed from Maria Ribbeck 
picture borrowed from Gopita
picture borrowed from The Parent Vortex
Waldorf dolls are intentionally simple.  They have no facial expression and no brightly coloured doll 'make-up'.  They certainly do not have batteries and do not move or make robotic doll sounds.  The reason for their simplicity is to inspire imagination and creativity (two characteristics I believe are vitally important to encourage in young children).  Also, waldorf dolls are made with love from natural materials like cotton and wool using traditional European doll-making techniques.  Their natural softness makes them oh so cuddle-icious! 

I believe all children (girls AND boys) should have their own "babies" to love and hold and take care of.  Young children are naturally very self-focused.  Early childhood is the time for the child to learn all about his or her self and how the self relates to the rest of the world and vice versa.  Most children love dolls because they remind them of themselves.  Children can learn so much through doll play.

So for ages I've been wanting to make a little companion doll for Ky.  But to make a true Waldorf doll, seemed to me, to be a bit beyond what I was capable of.  So I kept putting it off (while often browsing through how-to doll making sites) until I happen to stumble upon an already made basic doll body while shopping with my mum when I visited Australia recently.  It was the perfect canvas for the little baby I had in mind for my little baby.  I bought it immediately!  It's made of calico and stuffed with some kind of soft stuff (I'm determined to continue imagining the soft stuff is beautiful organic wool, when deep down I know it's most likely synthetic stuffing).

I also bought a single ball of lovely multi-coloured wool for its hair.  I love this wool!  The beautiful sheepy colours and the varying thickness is so yummy.  I imagined a wonderfully messy dreadlocked pony-tail for our little doll.  But I had absolutely no idea about how to attach the hair.  Luckily, I found this simple tutorial from Crafty Sheep and within 20 minutes I'd crocheted-up a little cap.

As you can see I didn't worry too much about being neat with my sewing.
It was time-consuming sewing the cap onto the doll but worth it once I started hooking the pieces of hair onto the cap.  It was so easy and so satisfying watching the hair sprouting and transforming the naked doll body into a baby with character.

only his back bald patch to go
How's that for a full head of hair?
Before the hair, Ky was not at all interested in the doll.  But even before I'd finished the hair, he was asking me "Kaya's baby?"

How's he looking so far?
It was a very cute thing to see Kaya cuddling his naked, face-less baby.  But he wasn't entirely happy.  He asked me "jacket? eyes?"

I think I'll start with the eyes.  Once he's got a face, he'll be a real baby doll!