Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2013 - No comments

Assorted Holiday Happinesses

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

The holidays passed in a delightful blur of holiday-ness, and I didn't really have time to catch my breath, let alone blog about anything.  Now that the last truffle has been eaten and, as of tonight, the last guest has flown away, I am collapsing in an introverted heap in my room, never to come out again.  Or at least until tomorrow when I am helping friends move.  :)

December held plenty of shareable moments and document-worthy creative projects, so I thought I'd just make a collage of all of them for posterity and your viewing pleasure.  

(Click the image to see it a bit bigger.)

1.  Christmas truly begins with the decorating of the tree, and in our house, that always meant watching It's a Wonderful Life while we hung ornaments.  As a kid, I thought it was soooo long and boring, but now it's one of my very favourite movies.  One of the joys of 21st century technology is being able to watch the movie and decorate my little tree in Turkey whilst messaging Mom back and forth as we quote our favourite lines.  

"I wish I had a million dollars!  Hot dog!"

2.  I baked dozens upon dozens of cookies - stars, trees, gingerbread men, angels and snowmen.  Then the kiddos came over and we busted out the frosting and sprinkles and had a decorating extravaganza!  

3.  The kids are definitely at the perfect ages for getting creative with their cookie decorating. We're way past "How many sprinkles can I possibly fit on this thing?" and have moved onto "What do you think of the pockets on my gingerbread man's overalls?"

4.  It was unanimous - our favourite cookie of the year was definitely the melting snowman.  

5.  One day, my roommate came home with a surprise for me:  she'd discovered a store selling macarons!  The glory has come to my city!

6.  A bummer of a day was turned upside-down when the postman knocked on my door holding a parcel from thoughtful friends in Nashville, complete with Christmassy Andes Mints!

7.  Bath and Body Works candles have kept my room smelling festive all season.  I like the Spiced Apple Toddy one in particular.

8.  These scrappy Christmas tree cards were so much fun to make, look adorable, and literally take like five minutes each.

9.  My Christmas present to myself:  a pair of cozy new brown and blue slippers.

10.  Having found out about the macaron source in town, I got a box and cut them all in half so the kiddos could sample them, since they'd heard me talk about them so much.  My favourite reaction:  "You're right, they DO taste like clouds!" 

11.   My mom has kept me well-stocked with caffeinated Christmas decorations over the years, so now my tree looks like a Starbucks commercial!

12.  Perhaps my favourite decorations:  my nationalistic crescent and star baubles.

13.  The only thing more fun than opening your own present is getting to open someone else's!

14.  These Santa boxers made an appearance in the White Elephant gift exchange (a.k.a. The Steal Game - a time-honoured tradition) three years ago and were won by our 70+ year old home-school teacher.  She took them home with her to Florida, and when she came back this year to teach, she brought them all the way back just so she could "regift" them at the exchange this year.  (Thankfully she didn't end up with them twice!)

15.  I scored big in the White Elephant game and got one of the only gifts that wasn't a joke:  smoked salmon all the way from Canada!

16.  These smiles are one of the best parts of every Christmas.

17.  For about three days, it looked like Charlie's chocolate factory had exploded in our kitchen, but the truffles turned out great!  My favourites were definitely the espresso ones.

18.  It was the second time we'd spent Christmas with our Swedish friends who live in another city, and some of their traditions are starting to feel traditional to me, too.  My favourite?  Disney cartoons at promptly 3:00 on Christmas Eve.  It's the same set every year - Goofy driving a trailer, the mice making Cinderella's dress, the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp....and apparently the whole country sits down and watches them!  They were dubbed in Swedish, so I had fun making up my own dialogue and picked up a few vocab words, too.  :)

19.  Another bonus to spending Christmas with Swedes:  smoked reindeer on crackers!  Yum!

20.  We have a terrible time finding wrapping paper here, but were finally able to find some on the 23rd at a big store.  I stocked up for next year!

21.  I had fun making my own gift tags this year.

22.  You mean your Christmas Eve party didn't include a little Gangnam Style?  (Sing along with the translated English lyrics - it's way more entertaining that way!)

23.  A friend of the friends we visited for Christmas had "connections" on the US military base nearby and was able to score eggnog!  Now THAT made it taste like Christmas!  (photo:

24.  My roomie got me this AMAZING serving set.  It matches my crescent and star baubles and all my Ataturk coffee mugs.  :)

25.  Spend Christmas with a Swede and you, too, could end up with one of these cool reindeer cookie cutters!  Next year, we'll be adding Rudolph to our cookie repertoire....

26.  The same friend who bought me the cookie cutters also knows of my love for macarons and found me some at Caribou Coffee.  I was so touched!  :)  Looks like they're becoming more widely available in Turkey.  I feel some Macaron Crawling coming on....

27.  Christmas morning is for PJs.  Especially when the electricity and water are off and you can't shower anyways!  (Note the baby bump in the middle - two months til she shows her little face!  If you can't see her, it's due to the fact that the guy at the pazar claimed that those crazy fuzzy PJs were one size fits all....)

28.  After stockings and presents....Settlers!

29.  I have this thing about keeping my presents under the tree long after Christmas.  Maybe it has something to do with not knowing where their new homes will be and dreading the cupboard rearranging that will have to take place.  But, really, I think it's just a way to savour the afterglow.  

30.  A friend made these amazing Christmas cupcakes for our New Years party.  Dark chocolate, espresso and allspice with cream cheese frosting.  Yum.

31.  Found these fun napkins at the same place as the wrapping paper.  Turkey has come a long way in festive paper products!

32.  This recipe is a keeper:  Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake.  I wish I'd made two!  I think I'm going to need a pair of those one size fits all PJs soon.....

33.  The opening of a Bath and Body Works here this fall was huge cause for celebration, but I was bummed when I learned they wouldn't be getting any of the Christmas scents this year.    But my kind roommate knows that it's tradition for me to wear Vanilla Bean Noel lotion every winter, and she had a friend trek across Istanbul and buy a bottle and bring it down when she came for New Years.  I'd been stretching the last few drips from last year's bottle to make it last - now I can really slather on Christmas!

34.  We went downtown on New Years Eve to watch the fireworks, and they were amazing!  I didn't take my big camera down with me, so all I got were some lame iPod photos, but they were glittery and shimmery and beautiful - some of the best I've ever seen.  And right over our heads, too, so that every boom shook my sternum.  Loved it.

35.  "Mutlu Yillar" - "Happy New Year" painted on a door in the old city.

36.  When I took the last of the trash out after our New Years Day gathering, I stopped by the neighbourhood mailbox and, lo and behold, there was my first Christmas card!  It was mailed on American Thanksgiving and just got here now.  That thing spanned from one end of the holiday season to the other!

And with that, I bid the holidays farewell and embrace 2013 with great gusto.  (But the tree may stay up another week or two.....)  :)