Friday, June 30, 2006

Start 'em early

Hey, it's never too early to get kids helping around the house. ;) This is the same little boy who would cry and make me carry him every time I vacuumed just a couple of months ago. Now he chases after me and tries to "help". He also has started to help clean up after meals by trying to drag is high chair back to the kitchen, hands over his dishes and cup when he's all done and he even took out a tissue and "cleaned" the tablecloth after dinner one night. :)

I haven't posted much lately since there's just not alot going on. After finishing my May Project Spectrum I thought about finishing my blue one for my birthday, instead, I ended up not sewing anything for about 3 weeks. When I got around to pulling blues for the project, I realized I don't have nearly as many bright blues as I thought so it kinda took the steam out of getting anywhere with that. I've finally got the pieces cut and am sewing on it a little each day, but I haven't put that much time into it so it's no where near done. Oh, well, maybe by the end of the week.

I've gotten sucked in to watching the World Cup games. I'm not normally much of a sports watcher but watching these games has been quite interesting. At least on the international field, soccer players behave much better than other sports players I've seen both on and off the field. They also work alot harder. Can you imaging running back and forth over the length of a football field for 90 min. with only one 10 min. break in the middle. No time outs, no huddling, no waiting for commercial breaks. And the collisions that happen! I'm not pulling for any team though I was pulling for Ghana after watching them play their first game. Those guys just try so hard! They actually made it to the second round but ended up losing to Germany I think. I can't really remember now. It all kinda blurs together after the first few games. It's fun to watch though.

Other than soccer, the kids are keeping me busy just keeping up after them. Mustafa loves to make "stuff" so he's constantly roaming the house looking for usable materials for his next project. He even tried making a catapult after seeing one of the models that was made for "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King". But he gets frustrated easily too and just couldn't understand why his made with straws, thread and popsickle sticks didn't work the "first" time! He hasn't quite got his head around the whole trial and error concept. So we had a little discussion about how long it takes to get things right where we talked about Edison inventing the light bulb after more than 400 tries. Amazingly a few days later there was a cartoon that included Edison. It was one of the old Tennesse Tuxedo cartoons.

Safiya and Zahra hate to be left out of the mess making, er, crafting so they each made tissue box aquariums yesterday complete with hanging fish and sea horses. Mustafa decided he'd much rather make bigger fish and hang them from the ceiling...All over the house! I told him if he wants to decorate with fish then they stay in his room only.

Dh bought a lot a couple of weeks ago for an insane price. The lot's only about 1 1/2 times as big as our townhouse lot in VA. On a per acre comparison, it would have cost around $245,000/acre!!! But it's in a development where there is already water, sewer and electricity, paved roads, trees that are a couple of years old and even some playground equipment installed even though there are very few houses built. Right across the street from our lot will be a park, so that's another perk and future selling point.

If you got through all of this, thanks for reading. I'll try to post more often so that the posts will be shorter. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 18, 2006


It seems that I have more in common with other Bloggers than I already knew. Many of us have June birthdays. My 32nd was on the 4th. I had asked dh to pick up some cakes from a bakery the day before. He usually forgets my birthday or remembers late in the day so I didn't tell him why I wanted the cakes. I just said since he was heading that way on an errand he could pick up some cakes from this awesome bakery. :) Cake here is usually sold as slices by the kilogram. They also sell whole cakes but we usually just get the pre-sliced, that way you get more variety. Most bakeries sell rollete, which is a cream-filled jelly roll type or cream-filled two layer slices with various toppings. This bakery tops their cakes with fresh fruit slices trapped in flavored gelatin. It sounds odd but is really very tasty. Dh brought home a 2 kilo box filled with strawberry-topped cake, rollete and a flaky Danish type pastry that tastes a lot like doughnuts. And he remembered my birthday.

We didn't really have any plans for the day since it's a holiday here and we didn't expect much to be opened. We ended up going out to look at various pieces of land we are considering buying as an investment. Land here is not as cheap as you might think. Most of what we saw was about 40 minutes outside of the city with almost nothing on it except one plot that was part of a development that has 40 newly planted trees with drip irrigation on a 1/2 acre plot. That one we could get for the low, low price of about $11,000. Note that is without anything else on the plot, i.e. no electricity, no water, no phone, no nothin' except an excellent view! Most of what we've seen here runs about $10, ooo or more per acre. Just for a comparison, a couple of years ago, my mom bought 15 acres about 20 min. from Memphis for a whopping $3,000 an acre! Just recently, DH found a 3 1/2 acre plot, again with nothing on it but it does have access to water, electricity and phone. We're hoping the owners will take about $30K for it but we'll just have to wait and see.

Happy Birthday to all of the bloggers and loved ones out there.

And in honor of National Ice Cream month (whenever it is) here are some tips for enhancing this summertime treat.
Instead of tossing out the crumbs when you finish a package of cookies, put them in a baggie in the freezer for instant ice cream topping. I also use brownie crumbs. Cake crumbs could probably work too. I just put them all in one bag so there's lots of variety in every bowl.

Ever try making your own chocolate syrup? It's super easy and only takes about 5-10 min.

Stir together 1/2 c. cocoa and 1 c. sugar in a small saucepan until all mixed up. Stir in 1/2 c. cold water. Heat medium until it boils. If you want thin syrup, take it off now. If you want it thicker, let it boil up to about 2 min. I stir it occasional during this time. Let cool. Add 1 tsp. vanilla (optional). Pour into a clean, dry jelly jar and store in the fridge. Mine keeps very well for more than 2 weeks.

Enjoy! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Waterfall trip

This is a bad picture of us but a pretty good shot of the falls. If you look just to the right of the falls there is a little cave like opening that people kept hiking up to to sit in a watch the water and the people below.

On June 5th, we head out at about 7 a.m. for a trip to a waterfall about 2 hours from us. Mohsen's mom, two of his sisters, a brother-in-law and two year old niece came along too. Because there's not always a lot on the road between one town and the next, people often go on trips with two cars just in case. Although, from what I've seen on our trips, there are plenty of other cars on the road with usually very helpful and handy occupants. We left early since 1) it was a holiday and we expected it to be crowded and 2) SIL said her car doesn't have ac so they didn't want to travel in the heat of the day.

The drive up was very pretty and cool since we traveled through the mountains. When we got close to the waterfall we had to go up a side street which cut through an older, poorer part of the nearby town to get there. Here, a lot of the houses were make-do affairs made with field stones and stripped limbs. It really makes you appreciate what you have. This road, like many side streets was narrow with barely enough room for two cars to pass. As we got closer to the waterfall, there were places where the road seemed even more narrow with a rock retaining wall on one side and the mountain's valley falling away to the other side and no guard rails.

We got to a point where it was clear that we couldn't drive any further since cars were parked on one side of the road and people leaving the falls were taking up the rest of the road so we pulled close to the valley edge of the road and got ready to walk the rest of the way. This was about 9:30ish. Mohsen's family hadn't eatten breakfast yet so that had an impromptu breakfast of cucumber and cheese sandwiches with tea next to the car. The kids and I ate before we left but lately they seem to have turned into hobbits and wanted "Second breakfast". We had brought food for a picnic lunch but decided it wouldn't be worth it to haul it up with us since we didn't know exactly how far we had to walk.

We wove our way through on-coming (though slow-moving) traffic, parked cars and other pedestrians, many of whom were loaded down with baskets and bags for their own picnics. It took us about 15 minutes to get from our car to the official parking lot for the waterfall. From the parking lot, you can see the top of the waterfall off in the distance over the tree tops but it is impossible to judge the distance. The path leading up to the waterfall was much like the road, narrow without guardrails despite a few precarious spots where someone could easy go over the edge and have a nasty fall. This fact didn't seem to bother anyone else though and certainly didn't bother the many people who had set up picnic sites off the trail close to the river complete with tents and even bedding in many places. At one point, the trail leads to steps carved out of the rock which were a bit steep. My MIL had bad knees so she opted to sit off to the side in the shade and wait for us to return. It's a good thing she did because the steps would have been quite difficult for her but the kids loved it. I think it lent the journey an added sense of adventure. On the way up stairs, one man was coming down carrying a complete Iranian twin size bed roll with blanket and pillow on his shoulders. (The mattresses are like tri-folded futon mattresses and pretty heavy.) We also passed other camp sites close to the river/mountain stream. The trail leads you right into the base of the waterfall where you have to pick your way across the rocks unless you want to get your feet wet. My kids were in heaven. If she thought she could get away with it, I'm sure Zahra would have tried to go for a swim in the icy water or at least splashed and jumped around enough until she was soaked from head to foot. She is most definitely a little waterbaby. :) I tried to stay relatively dry at first but gave up when Mohsen wanted to get a picture of us and I ended up standing right in the stream. This, of course, made it ok for everyone else to at least get their feet soaked by standing in the ankle deep water. It was very cool and refreshing with the canopy of trees shading us from the sun quite nicely. It was quite crowded with people climbing just about everywhere, enjoying themselves thoroughly. It reminded me of one trip we made to a waterfall in MD years before where a bunch of kids had made their way to the top of the falls, although this waterfall was much taller.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, we decided it was time to head back down. The trip down the stairs made me appreciate just how steep they were in some spots. A mountain goat probably would have felt quite at home there if not for so many visitors. After a potty and juice break, we started back to the cars. We didn't go very far before DH and BIL decided it would be better to go get the cars and have us wait with the kids where we were. DH had carried Reza most of the time and I think his shoulders were getting tired. We stayed in the shade while the kids entertained themselves by throwing rocks in a little stream just off the road.

Once DH and BIL returned with the cars, the real adventure began. Getting down from the waterfall was a major test of patience and logistics. Remember this is a narrow road with more people coming every minute. It turns out that at one point, not far from where we had parked, people had taken it into their heads to park on BOTH sides of the road! In a way, I can't blame them since their other options would be trying to get by the cars coming down or directing everyone behind them to go in reverse down the road until they could find a spot. At one point we seemed absolutely stuck with cars on each side of the road and a few more trying to come up. There was one spot where no one had parked so we were eyeing that until a carload of guys swooped in to park there. Then two of them hop out and start directing us to just come on through. The space here was so narrow that I could (and did) touch the car parked next to me with my forearm resting on my car door and I'm sure dh could do the same! I'm still not sure how we made it but I praised dh profusely for his excellent driving skills. I probably would have just parked myself right there in the middle of the road and refused to move until the other cars did. This was probably around 11:30-12. We thought it was crowded when we got there but by the time we left people were parked all the way down the road, probably a mile or more away from the falls with plenty of others trying to make their way up the road. Now, before you go getting the wrong idea, I've heard that places like the Grand Canyon are like this too during the summer months. Bumper to bumper and going no where fast.

We thought we'd try and find a place to have our picnic lunch somewhere on the way back but as I've said before, Iranians love to picnic and anywhere there was even a remotely suitable spot was already occupied. So, after trying several different spots we decided just to head back home. We ended up not getting home until just before 3:30. We had eaten some snacks in the car but it was a good thing we had the picnic food ready to go because everyone was hungry. I just had to pull it all out and set it up inside.

It was a nice day but I'm not sure we'll be making that trip again. The road up the falls was just too crazy for my taste and stressful for dh too. I think we'll leave it to the more adventurous souls. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Picture redo

Here are the two pictures I blogged about before but didn't show up in the posts. The first is from the mountain road we were on coming home from the waterfall and the second is us at the waterfall.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 12, 2006

Waterfall teaser

I don't have time at the moment to write about our adventurous trip to visit a waterfall last week but thought I'd post a teaser photo, if Blogger cooperates this time. The kids are begging for breakfast so I have to keep this short. The picture is of me, Mustafa and Reza standing in the water at the bottom of Morgan waterfall about 2 hours north of Shiraz. You can't see our feet but trust me, we were in the water. My feet were purple/black for most of the week because the dye ran when my shoes got soaked. :D

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Making blogger behave

It seems that sometimes Blogger behaves better if I post directly from Blogger every now and then so here is a boring little message and a picture of the mountains we were driving through on June 5.

Mountain traffic 2

Here is a little bit better shot with the shepard looking pointedly at us to get moving already! What's not that uncommon in this shot is that cars had to go single file to pass this particular road obstruction. You tend to come up on quite a few places where only one car can go at a time. I'll write more about our adventurous trip to the waterfall tomorrow to explain what I'm talking about. Posted by Picasa

Mountain traffic

I thought you might all enjoy a picture of the traffic we encountered on a trip to visit a famous waterfall here. Now, to be confused. This is a rather unusual sight which is why I took the picture though we did encounter a herd blocking the road both going and coming back. (This is coming back.) We were way up on mountain roads seemingly in the middle of no where but saw these sheep as well as other herds grazing on distant hills, farmers plowing fields with yolks of oxen, and lots of boxes of bee hives set up along hills and valleys.

I'm sorry the picture's not better. It's a bit difficult to get a good picture from inside the car with a sleeping baby in your arms. (Carseats are a rarity here.) I don't know if you can tell but there are about half a dozen babies in the back of the herd. The shepard on the donkey was an older man and apparently a bit annoyed with us that we wouldn't just go around like everyone else, but hey, I had to get the shot! :) I'm grateful for:
the abundance we've been blessed with
cool mornings with the windows and front door open
getting my morning started with a fun walk accompanied by music from Sting Posted by Picasa