2016 Review FunkTravels Blog

REVIEW: 2016 – You were a big year

2016 Review FunkTravels Blog
(photo cred to libbyasaystudio.com)

While it is safe to say that we are happy to see the new year, 2016 will always be one to remember for our family!

Several words come to mind as we think back to our year: Anticipation, preparation, happiness, sadness(Both the sadness of mourning and the joyful kind that comes with change), transition, struggle, identity, finishing, loneliness, longing, dreaming, adventurous.

As I was considering how to write about 2016, it truly centers around one major event….


Jason and I (plus our 8 bags) moved to Turkey.


Before moving we made the most of traveling to the states (mostly via my work conferences) and spending time with family. These little side trips took us to Minneapolis, Manhattan(Kansas), Chicago, Washington D.C. and Denver. Somewhere in there we celebrated our 2nd Anniversary! (Click on the links to take you to the podcast episode.)

I ran a half marathon in Chicago with my sister and mom.


Over the course of 6 months, we sold/gave away most of our household and then stored the rest of it. (episode 11)

(photo cred to libbyasaystudio.com)
2016 Review FunkTravels Blog
(photo cred to libbyasaystudio.com)

Jason found his first client that hired him KNOWING we were going to be living internationally (and it has worked so well!).

After 3 years as a study abroad program assistant Iowa State, I moved on so that, together, we could pursue this move.

In July, we moved out of our first home together.(Episode 14)

In August, we left our 6 (now 7) nieces and nephews behind. Oh and the rest of our family. (jk, we love ya’ll too!) Which also meant that we missed meeting our new niece born 3 weeks after we left the states.

In August, we also left an amazing church and community of people.

Due to the coup in Turkey, we delayed our entry into Turkey and had the unexpected joy of spending a month with Jason’s cousins in Spain. While in Spain, we took a road trip through the Andalucia Region and spent the night in Morocco. (episode 15 and episode 16)

From the end of July to October 5, we lived in someone else’s home, hotel, Airbnb, apartment, or tent (yes, we count those 2 nights!).

In October, we signed a year long contract on a newly renovated apartment (episode 18) in Izmir, Turkey. You can listen into our podcast episodes to hear more about the long saga of acquiring gas for hot water, dropping a 10 foot pipe down 6 stories, and the leaky roof… (episode 19, episode 20, episode 21, episode 22)

In the Fall, we took a course about language learning and then implemented our plans towards slowly learning Turkish (and figuring out how that will work for us).(episode 19 and episode 20)

(photo cred to April Woodbury)

We visited Ephesus with friends from Iowa living in London. (episode 20)

In November, we spent Thanksgiving in Istanbul with old friends.(episode 22)

In December, we enjoyed some time away on our #funkchristmas2016 tour in which we made our way through Switzerland, France, Germany, and Prague (episode 23 and episode 24).

We somehow managed to be right on budget with our moving fund which has allowed us to rent an apartment, set up accounts, get our visas, buy furniture, and take some language.  Now we are back to our monthly budget!

Crazily enough, that international move means we spent about a 3rd of our year living outside of the U.S.A.!


Leaving my job. I will say that my job at the beginning wasn’t all roses, but over time it grew into a job I really loved. I enjoyed my co-workers and miss that community dearly.

The failed coup in Turkey (episode 12 and episode013). While we did make the most of this, the events that have been happening in Turkey made the 2 months leading up to our move MUCH harder for people to celebrate with us about.

Being the better of our 2 vehicles, my car’s transmission went out 1 week before our move overseas. And with that, so did about $4,000 of moving money we hoped to have as a little extra backup. However, we are thankful that our car at least made it to the end! (episode 14)


In January, I convinced Jason that we should have a shared project of podcasting our way through our move(episode 1). One year later, our little side hobby of podcasting about our life changes and international move is still going strong. The first four episodes talk about our past travels to San Francisco, Boston, Italy, and Dubai. Our most listened too, Episode 9 announces our move and explains our decision to move overseas. Episode 13 premiers our first guest speaker!

In March we had a crawfish boil… in IOWA. Our long time friend, Mandy ‘B’ and her husband hosted a group of friends at their home, and we somehow managed to store a massive box of overnighted crawfish into our refrigerator (which then leaked into the rest of our fridge… but #WORTHIT).

In April, I took a day photography workshop with Alex+Val Education, and it was SO helpful. It has really given me more confidence in how to use my DSL camera on manual settings. I also purchased a new 50mm lens which I LOVE.

We both agreed that spending our first week in Turkey sailing was one of the best decisions yet. It is definitely NOT something we EVER thought we would do. Ok, maybe I thought I would, but Jason had no plans too. This experience was even better because Jason celebrated his 30th birthday on a catamaran on the coast of Turkey. Our sailing buddies, the Rowells and the Parrots, helped us share the experience via epsiode 17.

(photo cred to www.ericandashley.com)


Best Purchase: Hands down, my GAP overalls.

Similar ones here.

Favourite TV Show: We went through a quite a few tv shows, beginning with Grimm and finishing the year with The Blacklist. But by far, I would say that Broadchurch is a MUST watch.

Catie’s Jam: Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake

It is the new Happy by Pharrell Williams song of 2016, and song is better to watch with the video while you listen, at least the first time!


I will be the first to admit that our year could look pretty and perfect to outsiders, but as you can see above there was some really hard moment. I found myself more than once crying. Some times it was from the deep loss of identity and community. Other times it was over my nieces’ invitations to come play, but having to say no because we are choosing to live 3 plane rides and multiple time zones away.

While it has been extremely hard to leave family and friends back home, this change has also been so growing for our marriage. While it is exciting to fulfill our dreams of living internationally together, there were a lot of hard conversations due to missed expectations and frustrations which thankfully followed with many more opportunities for grace and forgiveness. God is faithful to continually supply grace and love towards us, and we too much extend it towards one another. He has also given us new friendships, a new home, strength and support every step along the way.


I am busy making our home cozy and studying language as well. Now that we have hot water and a dry roof, it seems like 2017 is starting off wayyy too smoothly. Jason continues to work with his U.S. clients via his software consulting business, Tough Space. So far it has been working well, but it is also a balancing act as we try to set up our home and learn Turkish as well.

The podcast will continue into 2017 on the same schedule! Other thank that, we have been looking into some other online entrepreneurial projects. Maybe you will see some of that down the road!

But for now, THANK YOU for being part of our 2016 move and following along on our adventure. We are excited to see what 2017 will hold!

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

EVENTS: Mavibahçe Organic Market

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

In my opinion, Mavibahçe, also know as Blue(Mavi) Garden(Bahçe), is one of the nicest malls in Izmir. This shopping mall looks massive from the outside, but once you enter, you will see a beautiful open garden in the middle with all the stores line the perimeter. But we can chat more about that another time.

November has been a gorgeous month so far. Fall time has slowly crept into our days bringing the cold air with it. But the warmer days are still found every so often. This made for the perfect day to have a little organic market in the center garden of this mall.

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

During my previous time living in Turkey, I was still learning how to chop up veggies and cook much less did I care what I was actually eating. Eight years later (and some quirky food habits like kombucha and homemade cashew butter), I have been a lot more curious as to what foods I can find here in Izmir and how I can continue some homemade/healthy options. So far, I have been greatly impressed by what options are available here.

I am not a huge organic guru, but I have slowly been learning more about where my food comes from and what I am putting in my body. In the process, I have come to a new appreciation for those who work to keep their products chemical free via their convictions about pesticides and toxic residues.

So when a new turkish friend as if we wanted to meet up, we were totally up for his suggestion to meet at the Organik Pazaar (Organic Market) at Mavibahçe. This activity was organised by the Association of Ecological Agriculture Organization with the support of the Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock Ministry officials and the participation of the European Union. While it was small, the 12 vendors provided a wide option of products such as fruits, veggies, honey, bread, beauty product line and even organic cotton clothes for adults and children. All vendors have a certification paper that shows their products meet the standard to be classified as organic.

The goal? To help bring awareness of organic products to the people of Izmir.

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe


Our loot you ask?

Celery root with baby celery stalk. I have found that it is still really hard to find celery here! Celery stalks are part of our Louisiana ‘Holy Trinity‘ of foods, but here they mostly just use the root for meze(little sauce appetizers) and soups. But we found some at this market!

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar

Cute little mandarine oranges with the sweetest taste from the cutest old turkish man at the market.

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Free box of testers from a local beauty product line, Iva Natura, made locally in Izmir in the Bornova neighborhood. I am actually really excited to learn more about this company. In the last year, I have slowly change most of my products over to a more natural non-toxic beauty routine for a few reasons I can tell you about in a future post. Since living in Turkey will make it hard on shipping, I have been hoping to find either something more local or european products to replace them in the future.

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Other vendors:

Simurg Tasarim – Organic Clothing

Yerlim – Organic Food

365 Organics – Organic Food and Home/Beauty Products

Macrocenter – Grocery store with organic products

More info about the event here and here.

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

What do you think of organic products?

Is this a market you would attend?

Until next time…

Izmir Organic Market Organik Pazaar Mavibahçe

FOOD: Aşure – Noah’s Ark Pudding

Cheers to the first post about FOOD. Cheers to not just any food, but TURKISH food!

And yes, you read that right! We are here to chat about Aşure. So how do you say it properly? The ‘a’ is an ‘aah’ sound while the ‘new-to-you’ letter ‘ş’ is pronounced like the English ‘sh’ sound. The ş with the ‘ur’ is similar to ‘shur’. Finish it off by saying the ‘e’ like the letter ‘A’ and you basically speak Turkish now.

Ok, not really. But you at least learned a new Turkish word: ‘Aah-shOOr-EY’

First off, aşure is not just a Turkish dish. Other cultures throughout central Asia and the middle east share a similar type of dish. This dish is special to Turkey because the actual site of the historical Noah’s ark is said to be in eastern Turkey. Hence, aşure is also known as Noah’s Ark pudding. Originally a Jewish celebration, this dessert also marks the rescue of Moses from Pharaoh during which the Hebrews fasted. Sunni Muslims also connect this period during the year with the deliverance of Moses. Aşure is traditionally served on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharrem, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

But before Moses and the deliverance of the Jews, the dessert come from the story of Noah and the great flood. When the waters receded after the great flood, Noah took whatever he had left from their food storage and toss it into one pot. As you will see below, there are quite the diversity of ingredients (some I would not normally put together!).  This large pot of food kept everyone well and alive until the waters finished receding. For this reason, aşure is usually made in large quantities and is shared with neighbors and friends standing as a symbol of friendship, diversity, and unity.


What’s in it? Quite the assortment of grains, nuts, fruits, and sugar. It may contain but isn’t limited to: walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, apricots, raisins, currants, figs, chickpeas and navy beans. Depending on the family and region, ingredients like chestnuts, lima beans, bulgur wheat and pieces of fresh coconut will also be added. Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and another lesser known spice to westerners, cardamon, can be a main contributor to the sweet taste. So basically, anything goes.

FunkTravels Asure

The great plus about living in Turkey full-time is getting a home-cooked, traditional dish of aşure hand delivered by a neighbor. Just this last week, our 3rd-floor neighbors shared this sweet gift with us.  While I enjoyed it warm and cold, Jason wasn’t a big of a fan of it either way. The taste is a little … unique, but well worth the trying!

For recipes on how to make it yourself at home, click on some of the links below:

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Recipe

Turkish Food Recipe

All About Turkey Recipe

Video of the recipe

Questions for you:

Have you tried this before? Did you like it?

What do you think? Would you try this recipe at home?

If you do, let me know how it went and what you thought about it. You can always follow us through our move from the USA to Turkey via our 50 episodes of the FunkTravels Podcast.

See you next time!