October 2008


So after a short while of agonizing over what to wear to the ball (seriously, that makes me feel like Cinderella.  Either that or like I’m talking about high school prom.), I think I’ve decided to rebel just a wee bit and not wear a floor-length skirt/gown.

I have a couple of old bridesmaids dresses, as I mentioned before, but when I pulled them out to actually try them on, they looked too bridesmaid-y.  I also have that one formal skirt, but need a top (like this one).  I also considered ordering a new dress, and particularly loved this one, this one, and this one.  The real problem is that I’m pretty sure that whatever would fit this year will not fit again later, unless I happen to need another formal gown when I’m nursing our theoretical next child.  Plus, I’m not totally sure what size to buy so the idea of ordering a dress over the internet only two weeks before the big event and counting on it a) getting here and b) fitting seems a little more stressful than necessary for what should be a fun evening.

So I think I might just wear my qipao/cheongsam after all.  It’s beautiful, it’s below the knee, and I think it looks pretty formal, so there.  According to about.com, technically “evening formal” could mean anything from a cocktail dress to a full-length evening gown.  Besides, I love that dress and I don’t know when else I’m going to wear it.  It’s not exactly the most versatile piece I’ve evern owned, although it is stunning enough to make up for it’s impracticality.

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After three weekends in a row of not being here in Ankara (two in Istanbul and one in Cappadoccia, more on those later!), we finally made it back to our church today.  This is the second congregation we’ve attended since we’ve been here, and so far we both feel like it’s where we should be.  They’re just re-starting small group meetings after the summer, and we’re pretty psyched about that.  There are two different groups we’re praying about…one is the “charismatic” group and one is the “family-friendly” group.  The charismatic group meets Monday nights and the family group Thursday nights, so we’re considering trying to make it to both this week to see how we feel after actually being there for a session.  They both run from 7ish until 9ish, which is a little iffy with Stephen’s normal 8pm bedtime, but that’s why we bought a pack n’ play, right?

The weather is also definitely turning fallish now…today I think the high was maybe 60 degrees.  Now that I figured out how our radiators work I’m pretty confident we won’t freeze to death this winter.  We have a central thermostat, and I couldn’t figure out why the radiators didn’t seem to be kicking in when the temperature in the house was below the one I set until our friend Craig mentioned that their radiators are connected to their hot water heater.  Sure enough, we had to switch our hot water heater over to the winter setting and then the radiators worked like a charm.  It pays to have an engineer as a friend, and not just because he lets us borrow his drill!

The other thing we accomplished this weekend was buying Danny a tux for the Marine Corps Ball in November.  I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to wear…I have one or two bridesmaids dresses that are options although not totally the preferred option, one very pretty floor-length skirt that I wore to my bridal shower 9 years ago that I think I could make work if I get a nice dressy black top maybe with some black beading, and my qipao (aka cheongsam) from Beijing two years ago.  The qipao doesn’t actually count as formal wear I don’t think since it’s only about tea-length, but it’s so stinking cool.  Also, the fact that I can zip it up after having a baby when it was tailored for me before I was pregnant kind of makes me proud.  I think I’ll probably end up going with the skirt…it’s this dark burgandy-esque color, that rustly fabric that looks almost black in shadow but is actually dark red, and it has some tulle underneath.  I’m sure there is a name for the style, but I don’t know it.  It’s very simple but pretty, and it’s floor-length.  The trick will be finding a top.

I tried to e-mail most people who I think are actually still reading the old blog, but apparently blogspot.com is now banned in Turkey so I’ve moved!  I’ll post again soon with some of our recent happenings (two trips to Istanbul, one to Cappadoccia, visits from Jessie & Alex and Maryan, Stephen’s first cold and much much more!).  I’m just so glad I could import the old posts from blogger — the thought of losing those was about to make me cry!

A few weeks ago, Danny and I tried our hand at canning for the first time. It wasn’t necessarily a complete success, but it was much more successful than not, which is great for an experiment! We’ve now canned whole tomatoes, apricot jam, peach jam, hot pepper jelly, mint jelly, marmalade, apple butter, dill pickles, pickled tomatoes, mango chutney, and freezer jam (peach and apricot). The apricot jam, marmalade and hot pepper jelly haven’t really set as well as I would like, but the peach jam is amazingly tasty and set nice and firm. We haven’t opened up the apricot jam to taste it, but I imagine it probably tastes great even if it is a little runny. We also made and froze a bunch of stewed tomatoes. The mango chutney is supposed to sit and mellow for two months before we use it, so we have to wait until mid-November or so before it’s really ready. The jury’s still out on whether we’ll actually be able to resist opening one up before then to test it out. 🙂

There’s something so satisfying about seeing all of the pretty jars lined up in the closet with their bright colors. The pepper jelly is particularly striking I think (it’s the fourth from the left in the picture above). When we taste tested it, it was a little hotter than I expected, so I will probably have to use it sparingly, but the flavor is really good and Danny will likely want to eat it with a spoon once we open one of the jars.

Canning and pressure cookers seems to be one of those things that a lot of people are afraid to try, but I have to say that we love both of them. I love that I can use my pressure cooker to make great chicken stock in an hour that would normally take half a day of simmering, or make fall-apart stewed lamb. I also love the idea that some of the great tomatoes that were at the farmer’s market this summer are still waiting for us to enjoy them this winter. Not to mention that there’s something so gratifying about being able to offer houseguests homemade jam with their toast in the morning!