Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How do you stop giving gifts?

I have a rather small family. Including my sister's in-laws, we are a family of 10. Not all of us exchange gifts either but gift giving has become a hassle during the last few years.

When I travel to the US, I buy gifts for everyone but when it comes to Birthdays and the New Year, it is mom, sis, BIL and I who exchange gifts. Truth be told, none of us need anything. This year, I bought a watch for my sis which she did not need and took mom to Italy for their respective birthdays and will be giving a gold coin to my BIL. Gold coins are a popular gift/investment in this country.

My mom gives gold coins to all of us but I think she is tired of doing even that.

My sister is pretty terrible in gift giving. Last year she gave me a silver ring which I never wore because, it is really not my kind of ring and this year she gave me another silver ring which had a problem so that she needed to return to the store and I did not receive the replacement yet. She is trying but, buying gifts is not her thing. Some people are like that so, I am not criticizing her. My dad was a great gift buyer and so am I. Mom and sis? Not so much.

Mom recently declared that we should stop giving gifts. To celebrate birthdays, we will only go out to dinner and be done with it.

I am fine with this decision. I am sure when I go to the US, I will buy gifts for everyone but, that is my thing. I never expect anything in return. Whenever I am shopping, I come across things that they would like or need and I get them. I do not go out of my way for gift shopping. So, this works for me.

I am so happy that after this last gold coin gift, I will be done with this. Yay!

I also belong to a group of friends that play Secret Santa for the New Year. I think, everyone dreads picking a gift for me because I am overweight. It is next to impossible for them to find a clothing item. Even I have trouble finding clothes so I cannot blame them. I keep getting real nice, good quality shawls and scarves each year. This year I must tell them in advance that I do not need anything in black or gray. Shades of blue and green or a rich burgundy are all welcome :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Walking Distance!

Last night, I walked to the Studio apartment from work. It took me 34 minutes and 3047 steps. A total of 2.2 km. Well, my back hurt, I was cold and I had to stop to take a break twice! It wouldn't take 34 minutes if I didn't stop.

Today, I called a colleague and told her that I was heading to work and as she was passing by she could stop to get me. I walked more than half of the distance without stopping by the time she came by to get me. So, YAY ME!

I am planning to walk to and from work at least three days next week. I will up my distance slowly since I do not want to overdo this and cause an injury.

I realized that I am in real bad shape. It is not just the weight. I must be able to walk for a full hour without stopping before I start any other form of exercise.

Over the weekend, I am planning to walk too. I have become way too lazy.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Such a Blast!

I've had the best of time during the last four days at my High School Reunion. The resort was amazing, the food, the service were superb but most of all, it was such a great time with my old friends.

We spent the days at the beach and the nights having lots of fun.

I also took the opportunity to relax. I did not touch desserts and drank very little. The sea was a bit wavy but I still went in. The pools were gorgeous and I also had some Spa time.

I came home in the afternoon and decided to take a nap and slept for three and a half hours! At the moment as I post this, the washing machine is on serious duty.

Beautiful people, wonderful time! I am so glad I went. It was totally worth it.

It is time to go back to work and real life...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

High School Re-Union

Tomorrow and on Friday, I am off. There is a 4-day High School re-union at a resort hotel down south on the Mediterranean.

About 140-160 people will be attending. I am just hoping that the weather will be nice enough to spend time on the beach. 

This trip has been paid for months ago and the plane ticket was really very inexpensive. The hotel is an all-inclusive type of place and my only out-of-pocket expenses will be parking at the airport and may be a few extra drinks or something.

I am looking forward to this not only because I will be seeing my old friends but that, it is an opportunity to relax a little as well.

This will be the last trip/small vacation I will be taking this year. 

I was not a popular kid at school but had enough friends and High School was a pleasant experience in my memories. No traumas or anything....

I got to know more people during these re-unions and made friends with them. It is always nice to get together and chat, share a few drinks and laugh a lot. In the past we used to have a formal night but not this time. I rebelled against formal dresses and most of the guys agreed with me. So, I am wearing a pair of jeans, sneakers and a nice top for the Gala Dinner. I may put on a little make-up but that's all. I no longer care about impressing other people. whatever makes me feel good, I do it. Fitting in is not an absolute necessity. I can be different and I am comfortable with that.

Some friends of mine never bring bathing suits because they are fat. I am fatter and yet I love the beach and spending time in the water. I refuse to be judged by other people about my looks and I refuse to avoid something that gives me pleasure just because others may not like it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Number Crunching...

As we are approaching the end of the year, I decided to look at my savings goals for the year.

I did not like what I saw since, I will not be able to meet my savings goal. Here are the major reasons:

1. I have decided to step in and help a family member and I gifted the money.
2. I have budgeted for a lower cost, in-country vacation but decided to take mom to Italy for her birthday.
3. I went to the US for a business trip and spent some money on shopping which was not budgeted.

I was a bit bummed about this but then I remembered to check my numbers by December 2015 and was surprised to find out that by the end of the year I will have increased my savings by 67%! Now, that is a great achievement.

I will plan more carefully for next year factoring in some unexpected expenses. I should have a miscellaneous category in my budget.

Still it is too soon to be thinking about the end of the year so, I will just focus on spending wisely. May be I can make up for a little bit of the gap between my goal and my end of year outlook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pictures from our Italy trip!

I am not good with picture taking. But here are some I took during our trip:

 Our tiny rental car. Isn't it cute?

Lake Maggiore

Lake Como



Lake Garda (I think!)


Monday, September 5, 2016

Crazy vacation in Italy!

Mom and I went to Milan for an 8-day trip. We rented a cute Fiat 500 to roam around Milan. It was extremely tiring since I had to do all the driving but, also a great vacation in many ways.

We landed in Milan on a Friday afternoon and got our car and headed towards our hotel. After check-in, we decided to have dinner somewhere in Milan and get a feel for the city.

On Saturday, we went to Lake Maggiore and drove on one shore up to the Swiss border. It was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at many little towns to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

On Sunday, we visited Lake Como and went to Bellagio with a car ferry. It was also stunning but also very crowded. Como is the "in" place where many famous people own houses. We took a ride up the mountain and saw more spectacular views and took an alternative route back to Milan driving by farms and cheese factories.

On Monday, we drove to Genoa and it's shore a little bit but were less than impressed. I think, we could have skipped Genoa. On the way back, we had dinner in Torino and totally fell in love with that city. It was absolutely very green and beautiful. If I had to live in Italy, that would be the city I would love to live. That was a fun day since we literally had breakfast in Milan, lunch in Genoa and dinner in Torino. I am very much used to driving in a very congested city but, the Italians drive like crazy on the Autostrada (Highway). They drive way past the speed limit.

Tuesday, I did not feel like doing anything. We slept in until noon and then strolled around a mall. Had dinner in Milan at a really nice place where the locals would go.

On Wednesday, we decided to go see Lake Iseo which we instantly fell in love with. I think Lake Como is highly overrated. If I could, I would own a place by Iseo. Such a beautiful and peaceful place. We drove all around it.

Thursday was the day we decided to take the Milan Sightseeing Tour. The Red Line was the best. The Blue and Green Lines were just OK . The Duomo Cathedral and the Castle Sforzesco were magnificent. We were totally exhausted mainly due to the hot and humid weather at the end of the day.

Friday was our last day of vacation so we went to Verona. Took the sightseeing tour there as well. Such a beautiful little city! I am so glad, we did that. It wasn't in our early plans. On the way back to Milan, we visited Lake Garda and had dinner by the Lake.

On Saturday, checked-out, went to the airport and got delayed nearly two hours due to the air traffic not over Milan but over Istanbul and by the time we reached home it was already 7 p.m.

Tried to take it easy on Sunday but there were loads of laundry and a lot of stuff to be put away and I think, I need a vacation to just RELAX.