Tag Archives: family and friends

Expat Living- Friends


“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”

One of the most difficult things about being an expat is making and keeping friends. Expat living can be a very transient lifestyle, people are always coming and going. It can be very rare that you are in the same place, with the same people for very long.

Here is how it starts, when you first move to a country, you try to be friends with any one who speaks the same language as you. Maybe they work with you, maybe you meet them in a classroom, or maybe you over hear them speaking English in a Starbucks and you start up a conversation with them. Whatever the reason, the commonality of language is the key factor.

You realize that you are only friends with that person because of the language. That they are a person who, in your normal life, you never would have been friends with. Sometimes that is a good thing, and you’ve opened yourself to a whole new kind of person and friendship, and sometimes it isn’t.

Then, you start to become more picky, just speaking the same language is no longer enough, you start to look for friends who you actually have something in common with, or dare in say, like.

And then once you’ve settled into a routine with this friend, coffees, shopping, even play dates with the kids you both have, it is time for one of you to move on.

What do you do? How do you deal with this revolving door of friendships?

Keep in touch! You never lose a real friend. They are always with you, and these days it is even easier to keep them with you. Facebook, Skype, text, keeping in touch is not as difficult as it once was.

Keep making friends. You can never have too many friends. You don’t need to replace them, just make room for everyone.

Keep your options open, yes you are no longer going to be friends based solely on English, but give someone who you wouldn’t normally be friends with a chance, maybe she is ten years older than you, or not married, but perhaps there is something else that that you two have in common.

Since I started my life as an expat I have had some of the most amazing friends, people who have been through all of the major and minor moments in my life with me. I am truly lucky.

In the last few years I have had to say goodbye to so many of these amazing friends, and looking towards the summer, I am dreading saying goodbye to two more amazing people.

This is the life of an expat.

You can’t close yourself off, as my grandmother used to say, every stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

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Pineapple Cupcakes

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As I’ve mentioned, I have an amazing husband, but there is one thing about him that can be a bit much… He is football (soccer) crazy!

Turkish league, Spanish league, English league, Champions league, Premier League (how do I know all this?!), he watches it ALL! Basically if there is a match on, he will watch it!

Now that we have been married for so long, I no longer feel that I need to fake like watching football, so I don’t. I leave him alone to watch the matches. He seems to like this, he gets himself a snack and a drink, and watches his matches and tries not to wake us all up when he is yelling at the tv.

The only time he doesn’t like watching the matches is when it is a ‘big’ match, like a Derby (when two teams from the same city play against each other).

A couple of weeks ago, such a match came on, the two biggest Istanbul teams were playing against each other, so Seyfi invited two of his friends over to watch the match.

What worked out great is that the guys all got together at our house for pizza and beer, while the wives and kids got together at one of the other houses to hangout and avoid having to watch the match!

It’s so great when both the husbands and wives are such great friends!

Since my friend was going to be making pizza for the ladies and kids (which was some of the best pizza I’ve eaten in a long time) I thought I would make a dessert to take over for all of us.

I wanted to make cupcakes, but I didn’t want them to be your regular standard chocolate cupcakes (besides, one of the kids doesn’t like chocolate). I decided to make pineapple cupcakes, because lets be honest, who doesn’t like pineapple?

These cupcakes turned out really nice, not too sweet, just right.

It ended up being a good night for all of us. Seyfi’s team won, and I got to hang out with my ladies. Don’t tell Seyfi, but with the European Championship coming up this year, I may ended up watching a match or two, just to have an excuse to invite friends over…

Pineapple Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple slices

Cream for whipping

Put five rings of pineapple into the food processor and add your other wet ingredients. Once they are blended, add the dry ingredients until it all comes together to a chunky (from pineapple) batter.

Pour into paper lined cupcake tray and bake until golden about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool.

While the cupcakes cool, pour the whipping cream and about four tbsp of the pineapple juice from the can into a bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until firm.

Cut the remaining pineapple rings into quarters.

Spread the whipped cream over the cupcakes generously, and garnish with a piece of pineapple.

While in Istanbul- Çengelköy


Today we did my absolute favourite thing in Istanbul. We packed a breakfast, bought some pastries, and went to a tea garden in Çengelköy on the Bosphorus and enjoyed the morning.

So many people go to Istanbul and never get to the Asian side. They see all the ‘big’ sites, and head home, but there is nothing like sitting in a tea garden, eating simits and borek (pastries), drinking tea and feeling the breeze of the Bosphorus on your face, especially if there are no other tourist about to ruin by raising the prices!

Now, I am not saying, don’t go to to the big sites, they are breath taking and worth seeing. However, if you have an extra day, take a ferry over to the Asian side, especially to Çengelköy or Beylerbeyi (there is actually a beautiful palace there to see), hangout with the locals, and (in my opinion) enjoy my favorite part of Istanbul.


We had such a lovely morning here with our friends (who are two of the most interesting and kind people I have ever met), it truly is my favorite thing to do in Istanbul, I wait for it every trip we take here.

I’ve always said that I would never want to live in Istanbul, but if every day could be like today was, I might be able to change my mind…

While in Istanbul… Istanbul Aquarium

My original plan for this trip to Istanbul was to stay at my in laws, and go as far as the Starbucks in the shopping centre next door… That isn’t happening.

Today we went to the Istanbul Aquarium. It was amazing! If you are ever in Istanbul, and looking for something different to see, I would totally recommend visiting it!

The layout is very interesting, the have arranged it by body of water, Black Sea, Atlantic Ocean, etc…


Lots of different types of fish…


Hands on learning…


Different views of the fish…

We had a lovely day… Where are we off to tomorrow? I’ll grab my Starbucks to go!

Pull apart Cinnamon Bun Bites


Would you like to know something that I’ve been missing since moving abroad? English Magazines! Specifically cooking magazines.

Sure, I can find English magazines if I want to pay a fortune for them, but a magazine is not a book, so why am a paying the same price for both?

Luckily, for my birthday, Seyfi bought me an iPad, and guess what I can do on my iPad?

Buy English, cooking magazines for normal price!

I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, and Food magazine. I’ve been quite happy with both of them, and often find recipes to make.

This month, in Martha Stewart Living, I found the perfect recipe for the brunch we had at our place last weekend, Pull Apart Cinnamon Bites.

This is actually a wonderful idea for a big brunch because, when you have got lots of food choices, who wants to be eating a great big cinnamon bun? This way, you can pull off as many or as few cinnamon bites as you’d like.

Warning! This recipe takes a long time to make! I had to get up at three to get the whole thing started to be ready for my guests…

That being said, it is totally worth it!

Pull Apart Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living April 2012

Cinnamon Bites:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp dry yeast
Approximately 4 cups flour (plus some more for dusting)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, (1/2 stick melted)
2 tbsp cinnamon

Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

In a large bowl, gently combine the water and the dry yeast. Let it rest for about 8 minutes (it’ll be foamy when ready).
Add in 1/2 flour and mix to a paste. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and flour kneading together to a soft doughfor about 3 minutes. Knead in a stick of butter and continue to knead the dough for ten minutes on a floured surface. Cover with plastic and let rest do 2 hour.

Melt 1 cup of butter, and combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar. Butter your baking dish (I used a round cake pan).

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Once all the dough has be rolled into balls, take each ball, first dip it in the butter, than roll it in the cinnamon sugar. Place in the cake pan in a pile. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Cook for 55 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the baking dish.

Mix together the icing sugar and milk, drizzle over the cinnamon buns after they’ve been out of the oven for at least fifteen minutes.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No Bake Gluten Free Lemon Cheesecake


We have got a group of friends here in our neighbourhood that we just loving getting together with. The wives all get along, the husbands all get along, the six of us all get along, in fact, the kids all get along.

There is only one problem, if the adults want to just hang out and chat inside, it can be quite difficult because the kids always seem to need someone.

We have found a solution for this, parents only meals. Once and a while we get together without the kids. We enjoy a meal and a great conversation, and can completely relax.

This weekend we had everyone over to our place for brunch. Seyfi and I decided that we would do a buffet style brunch, everyone could help themselves and just relax and chat away the morning.

We prepared lots of different things, some Turkish, some North American, some with gluten, and some without.

For Seyfi it is really important that we have enough gluten free food for everyone to at least be able to try some. He doesn’t want to have a separate plate with gluten free food on it for only him.

For me, it is really important that we have a few different options of gluten free food so that he doesn’t have only one option, while everyone else has lots of options.

So for the brunch, when I was planning the dessert, I’d planned to do my Earl Grey Chocolate Cake (with gluten) and try making a Rolo Blondie (gluten free).

Unfortunately, the blondie did not work out, tasted delicious, did not look that way… So, I thought I’d make a no bake cheese cake.

This cheesecake is actually really easy, and super delicious. The crust is made out of speculoos cookies (ginger snaps) and lemon curd.

Usually, Seyfi thinks he doesn’t like cheesecake, but after eating half of this one, I think he’s changed his mind!

So here’s the recipe:

No Bake Gluten Free Lemon Cheesecake

For the crust:

100 grams Gluten free Speculoos cookies (or ginger snaps, with to without gluten) crushed
2 tbsps sugar
6 tbsps melted butter

For the cheesecake:

200 grams cream cheese (one package)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the top:

3/4 cup lemon curd

To make the crust, mix together the crushed cookies, sugar and melted butter. Press them onto your pie plate coating the bottom, and up the sides if necessary. Put it into the fridge.

To make the cheesecake, whip up the cream until you have soft peaks. In a separate bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Fold the heavy cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cookie crust and put in the fridge for an hour.

Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese layer and put in the fridge for at least an hour, or until ready to serve.