Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day Shenanigans

Christmas morning we decided to go out and make a video tribute to Marty Stano's Awesomefeet video shot in Detroit. Here is what we came up with. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

34th Street Light Bonanza

This picture is sparkling! What wonders the world has to offer.
Whether I want to or not, I always tend to get into the 'holiday spirit.' I am a sucker for lights, presents and endless baked goods. So, even though we don't celebrate Christmas ourselves, I still like to participate in all of the bonus fun this time of year. I have been hankering for a good Christmas lights display but haven't wanted to dish out twenty dollars to drive around for a few minutes looking at really over the top light show. 

You may notice that this picture, too, is sparkling. Picasa has done its witchery to my pictures. And I like it.

Mid-week my friend Sarah asked if we wanted to go to Baltimore to check out the lights on 34th Street on Friday. A shout out to one of my favorite movies and Christmas lights? Yes, please.

Dylan McDermott in a turtle neck? A young Matilda? This movie has it all.
Feraz, Sarah and I met up in Dupont Circle and made the road trip to Baltimore. It took almost an hour and a half in which time we ate almost a whole box of chocolates and read this step-by-step commentary on why Love Actually is the worst movie of all time. I made that link extra big so you might actually click on it and see the light if you haven't already. Seriously. Worst. Movie. Ever.

Don't they know it's spelled "Happy Holidays"??
Since it was such a beautiful night, we joined a throng of people who were taking in the lights. Sarah warned us that she had read on the 34th Street website that the area had gotten a bit more dangerous so if someone suspicious approached us, we were to call 911 or better yet, "scream for help."

This picture is SNOWING! What the who what is going on? It's a miracle. On 34th Street?!
Luckily there was no occasion to scream for help. Except, maybe for one time when a young man dressed as an elf ran down the street yelling "Santa is coming!" What excitement! What joy! We waited and a lady said, "Santa isn't coming, he ran by yelling that an hour ago." Sarah explained that he meant that Santa was coming on Christmas. I wanted to yell, "HELP! PLEASE BE MOREE MORE SPECIFIC WITH YOUR HOLIDAY CHEER YOUNG ELFIN MAN."

From the House of Pleasant Living.
This picture makes me want to check out google street view of this block.
On the way in, we had passed an exciting looking place called the Papermoon Diner.  Although it is a little bit arrogant, the diner accurately is described as "eclectic" and "eccentric" on it's website. There are strange mannequins outside with utensils for hair and an army of toys inside. The whole place had a Bjork meets spoiled, slightly psychopathic child feel. In a good way.

The food was pretty decent and it was a fun place to eat. I'm not sure if I would go out of my way to eat there again but it is definitely worth checking out once. 

We wondered what it said about us as people when we passed this on the street and all three of us wanted to eat here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ecuador - Ten-Year Anniversary Trip

The view from our first hotel.
I have been meaning to post pictures from our Ecuador trip for a long time but the sad thing is that I lost  almost all of the pictures from the trip! Every time I would sit down to write the post I would feel too bummed that all the pictures were gone (and for someone who doesn't remember anything like me, all the memories too).

Luckily, I have over twenty pages of journaling from the trip that I look forward to reading with Feraz. When we went on our five-year anniversary trip to Costa Rica, we made a bucket list of things we wanted for our relationship by our ten year anniversary. Sadly, I have no idea where that list is now, but I do remember that one of the funny things we wrote on there was to stay within five pounds of the weight we were then. Hahahahahahaha. Ha. Well, on that note, here are some pictures from our trip!

Happy camper on our balcony.
Happy camper at our first meal in Ecuador.
Stunning bus rides.
I had great aim with that thing. I would have been good in the wild.
This guy wouldn't have made it.
See what I mean?
What the heck is that thing?
This guy had a more approachable vibe.
The boat that took us down the Amazon. 
The sweet little hotel Feraz booked for our anniversary.
It had its own llamas!
Our cabin. A man made our fire every evening.
Feraz was genuinely trying to be nice here but this picture makes him look like a horrible foreign tourist. 
You know. 
On our actual anniversary day. One of the few pictures we have together but lets be real, I'm posting this because my cheekbones look good and you can barely see my second chin. 
You can see the rest of the pictures I uploaded over here

Monday, December 16, 2013

Comedy, DC Rollergirls and Movies Galore

The mascot trying to cheer on his losing team. 

This weekend started off with checking out some local comedy at the Big Hunt in Dupont. Feraz was late so I escaped the cold by wandering into a bookstore. It is such an incredible feeling to be surrounded by all those stories. I love writing but sometimes I wonder what the point of adding one more story to the millions of stories that already exist. Then I think- what an amazing thing to potentially be able to give someone? That wonderful escape that so many authors gave me. To help take people from the ordinary and mundane to a world full of people and places that once only resided in an imagination. Even if I have to spend ten, fifteen years on my book, I will finish it and in its own way, it will have meaning. I had forgotten what a safe haven bookstores are.

Back to the comedy. We have been trying to get out and support local comics whenever we can and its been fun to see some of the same comics in different venues. It's amazing how sensitive all of the comics are to the audience. The same jokes are received so differently by different rooms. I don't know if I'll ever have the guts to try to do stand-up comedy but watching young comics is a great way to learn. On Friday, we saw at least three comics just completely choke. One poor girl was so panicked that she just stared out at the crowd saying things like, "Oh, man. This is not going good, is it?" Dead. Silence. I tried to give her lots of smiles and thumbs ups but she was on a sinking ship. There was nothing to be done. Another guy we had seen about a month ago told the same jokes that fell somewhat flat previously. On Friday, the room ate it up. People were laughing so hard that he had to pause his set at times.

After the show, we stopped by Krispy Kreme and got some donuts for our ride home. In our car. Although it was nice not having a car for a long time, there is something wonderful about just getting in your car on a cold night and zooming home as Queen blares and you have a sing-along between stuffing donuts in your face.

On Saturday, I began a marathon of movies. Over the two remaining days of the weekend I watched: The Other Woman, Clueless, She's All That and Charlie Bartlett. And maybe one more movie... It was wonderful.

Between the movie watching, we made it out to our first ever Roller Derby. Ever since watching Whip It, we had been meaning to go. That movie seems like it was incredibly accurate in capturing the derby world. The girls were so tough. It is an intense sport and while watching, I went from really, really wanting to do it to thinking how the hell are they out there doing that?! We watched two "bouts" which are like matches. Each one is made up of two periods, lasting thirty minutes each. Then there are jams, jammers, the pack, blockers and a host of other derby terms that you can pick up pretty quickly (especially if you are sitting next to someone friendly who is willing to explain the rules). If you are free one weekend and looking for some thing different to do, definitely go check out the Rollergirls. You can find their full schedule at this link.

The rest of the weekend was spent baking, eating, cooking, eating, driving around and looking at Christmas lights (we've decided that our neighborhood has the best ones), drinking warm coffees and visiting friends.

I like to write these little recap posts because I know that one day I'll look back and I'm going to miss this. On Sunday night as we drifted to sleep, Feraz said, somewhat sadly, "One day we are going to look back on this and it will all seem so far away." He has a point. These are wonderful and carefree days. But I remember that when we lived in Istanbul, I used to think, "These are the best days of our life. How will it ever get better than this?" And I guess I have found that each phase, each test and trial, each new season, reveals its own beauty and perfection. Somehow, there is always a new adventure waiting. 

Friday, December 6, 2013


These last few months have been some of the happiest of my life. There have been adventures, dinners, walks, movies, books and so, so many walks and chats with Feraz. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving in DC

She was an all right bird.  
This year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving and was lucky enough to have my mom and sisters stay with us. I got sick for the first time in years the week of Thanksgiving and was afraid that I would have to order some Kebab Palace for the meal. But I pushed through and got a somewhat edible Thanksgiving dinner on the table!

It all started on Monday when we went in search of our fresh turkey. There was some confusion about whether there was a fresh turkey available at the first place we went to, so Feraz and I ended up at different butchers. While I was trying to justify buying an 18 pound turkey to myself (the only size the other butcher had), I got a call from Feraz saying that the original butcher had found a 12 pound turkey. What? Found it? "Lets get it!" I told him.

As we were walking around Safeway gathering up last minute groceries, Feraz looked at me in pity.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I feel bad for you. Cooking the turkey is going to be nasty."

"Yeah. But I've done chickens before. I'll get through it."

"But you have to cut the head off this time."




I may have said some things to Feraz that I'm not proud of. But really, if you are at a butcher, shouldn't you ask him to take the head off???

This guy is lucky he is so cute.
We got home and for a moment, we thought the head had been cut off. We pulled the turkey out of the bag... and nope...there was the head. Its little turkey face just looking out at us. I quickly covered the head back up with the bag and then got to work. In Feraz's defense, he offered to take the head off. This is coming from a guy who gets queasy handling cleaned chicken breast. It was a noble gesture and probably what saved him from sleeping on the couch. (Do people actually ever make their husbands sleep on couches?)

In the end, in a few days of complete head cold haze, the turkey, the chicken biryani, the trifle dessert and all the sides got made. And best of all, I got to spend time with some of the people I love most. Pictures below!

Photo courtesy of my sister.

Carving in style.

Thanksgiving Celebrity.
I love my mom. She added "Taco" to the Celebrity bowl.
The awesome photographer! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Custody - Book Review

One of the advantages of being married to a librarian is that every now and then he brings home books that the library no longer wants and we might not have otherwise picked up to read. This is how we came into possession of In Custody by Anita Desai.

The simple take away from the book, for me, was that when you have a boring, predictable life- be careful what you wish for. You may soon be wishing for that simple life back.

The book follows the life of Deven, who is a professor of Hindi while his true love is Urdu, specifically Urdu poetry. He has the opportunity to interview, who he thinks is the greatest living Urdu poet, Nur, and the journey that this initial opportunity leads him on is nothing that he expected it would be. His idolization of Nur is called to question when he sees the reality of Nur, the human being. Despite many signs that he should abandon the project, Deven forges ahead and risks his marriage, savings and reputation. He is so desperate to have the life of glory and renowned that he once thought inevitable for himself that he is blind to the impossibility of the task before him.  In the end, it seems all is lost but Deven still rationalizes his choices and feels, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that he has come out ahead.

I struggled through parts of the book that I thought were slow and it was frustrating to watch Deven make bad choice after bad choice, not seeming to be aware of his own agency in his misery. Despite its weaknesses, the book successfully captures universal themes of aspiration, disappointment and myth-making. It can offer great perspective to the careful reader.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cranium, Cards Against Humanity and Celebrity

This weekend consisted of a lot of game playing. On Friday night, we headed over to my brother-in-laws where we cooked up salmon, potatoes and spinach. After eating dinner and putting the baby to sleep, we started a non-commital game of Cranium.

I had wanted to own Cranium for a long time but was hesitant to drop $30+ for a game that might just end up in a pile of unused stuff. Last weekend we stopped by Goodwill to drop some stuff off and I convinced Feraz to let me poke around inside. Feraz tends to want to avoid this because the whole point of going to Goodwill is supposed to be to get rid of stuff. It was a good thing we went in. From across the store I glimpsed the Cranium box amidst other dirty, unloved toys. I waited a bit for a family who was closely examining a Fisher-Price push lawnmower before I finally nuzzled past and reached up for the game. I tried to be as casual as possible so they wouldn't try to intercept but soon realized they were clearly not interested as they moved on to examining a very loved teddy bear. It was pretty gross touching the box. It was covered with a very thick layer of dust. The kind of dust that has been there so long that it has solidified. I looked around to make sure Feraz wasn't looking and started to wipe off as much of the grime as I could with the sleeve of my sweater. Some might question the logic of ruining a $50 sweater to get a $30 game on the cheap but SHHHH, I WAS THIS CLOSE TO GETTING A DEAL!

After I got the box sufficiently clean, I opened it up to examine how much of the game was still there. To my surprise, the inside was in pristine condition. Someone else had been the victim of buying the game and leaving it unused in a corner somewhere. I showed Feraz the $3.75 price tag and after he examined the contents, he reluctantly agreed that we should take it home. Score.

When I got home, I took off the lid and gave it a wash with water, dish soap and an old rag. In thirty seconds, it looked brand new and acceptable to take to the in-laws house. Now back to our regularly scheduled story. We started playing the game thinking we would do a few turns and call it a night but once we started, we had to finish it. Before we knew it, it was close to midnight. The girls won. Duh. It was a lot of fun and definitely worth the $3.75. (Truth be told, we may have had $30 of fun.)

The next night we headed over to my friend Sanwaree's house for another game night. We ate some Bulgarian food and played Cards Against Humanity. I had never heard of this game before but it is like an adult version of Apples to Apples. It is not for the faint of heart but for our group that likes to push the offensiveness boundaries- it was perfect. I would recount some of the funniest sayings of the night but some things shouldn't be memorialized on a blog.

After that we played Celebrity. It's a great game because you don't need anything except a few pieces of paper, pens and a group of people with creative ideas. Since the group writes the clues, the game never gets old and can include a lot of funny personal jokes and digs. Most of the group hadn't played it before and picked up really fast. The girls won this time too. But the scorekeeper (can't remember who it was...) may not have been completely reliable.

Finally we rounded up with a game of limericks. Each person in the group got a piece of paper. We each wrote the first line and passed it to the person to the left. Once the poems were all complete, we read them out loud. Although we might not have been the best group of poets, we did get a lot of laughs. And revealed some psychological abnormalities amongst us.

We didn't end up getting home until two in the morning. It was the latest we have been out together (other than cousin's sleepovers of course) in a long time but it was fun to just relax and enjoy hanging out instead of having to worry about ending the night because it was getting late.

The rest of the weekend was filled with some Safa time, watching Catching Fire (snoozefest), getting a speeding ticket (not me for once!) and having lunch over at our friends. Now its time to get into full Thanksgiving prep mode! Four days until Turkmageddon in our house!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


We hosted Friendsgiving at our place on Sunday. Sadly, I didn't get many pictures but trust me, it was amazing.

Some of the food goodness. 
We played a lame game that ended up being a lot of fun (to me at least). We had everyone write something they were thankful for and put it in a bowl. We told everyone not to make it something too obvious. We then read each thing and we had to guess who wrote it. Cheesy, I know. But it led to a lot of laughs. I recommend doing it! We then put the leaves on our "Gratitude Tree". I just came up with that name believe it or not. Feraz is begging me to take down the tree because he thinks its ugly. A for effort I say!
The leaves we have so far.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

a return to love

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
a return to love - marianne williamson

Monday, November 11, 2013

being five was bomb

I don't usually post these types of articles but I LOVED this one. Enjoy! Especially if you are an 80s child.

My favorite image:



Friday, November 1, 2013

Cat Cupcakes

Sometimes I like to make cat cupcakes. Especially for people I love.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from Frida!

I had a fun Halloween and even got to see a few trick or treaters. Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Feraz Turns 34

A few weeks ago we received the approved home study for our adoption.

One of our favorite lines in the home study was, "Mr. Ashraf is a 34 year old Indian man."

Feraz read it and laughed but a sad laugh. "That looks pretty bad, doesn't it? A 34 year old Indian man."

Although Feraz hadn't quite had his birthday yet, I think seeing that big number scared him a little bit.

When looking for balloons a lady actually said, "There is a helium shortage. You aren't going to find any helium in this town." We found some. Booyah. 
I decided that I would help make Feraz's birthday great and filled of love so it would help him see that even though the years passing by is scary, those years have given us time to fill our lives up with happy memories, friends and more reminders of the beauty of life.

Cake time.
We kicked off his birthday activities in Michigan where I threw him a Surprise! party at Lucky Strike.

Kids in good position.
The best part of this party was that Feraz was actually surprised!

The next day we went to my parents and my mom took us out for a birthday lunch since we wouldn't be able to go to dinner that night because of my cousin's wedding.

This is not my Mom.
On the morning of Feraz's actual birthday, I woke him up with breakfast in bed and a card.

Feraz was too tired to eat and asked it I could put it in the microwave. Breakfast in bed always works on TV!
I decorated our ugly wall with a Congratulations! You are a 34 year old Indian man sign. I just used little index cards and wrote funny inside jokes and song lyrics on each one to make it a bit more personal.

I think he liked it.
That evening we went out to dinner with a couple of friends at a little hole in the wall like place that Feraz wanted to check out.

Afterwards, we went to Courthouse cinema (the BEST movie watching experience!) to see Captain Phillips. All in all, it was a 10/10 birthday!
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