About Me

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year!

I hope all problems we all encountered will remain in 2012 and 2013 will be a much better and prosperous year. 

Peace at Home, Peace on Earth!

courtesy of designtutorial.com

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More on my Goals of 2013

As a part of my 2013 goals, Mom and I decided to start a diet and not tell anyone. She is planning to spend most of the winter with me. We shall go see a dietician (covered by our Social Security) and support each other. She will need to return to Ankara to have a cataract surgery in March. Until then, we are not telling anyone that we will be doing this. Hopefully, we shall lose enough weight to surprise my sister by then.

We plan to go for long walks when the weather permits it, use the stationary bike at home and some home exercise DVDs. I think support is the most important thing when you are trying to get rid of debt or lose weight. So, I am hoping we will benefit from this undertaking:)

Since we shall not eat out much, this will also help our budget.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goals 2013

I was very hesitant to establish financial goals this year because of the irregular income stream I have to deal with for the first time in my life but, I did it anyway. I just kept the consultancy income estimate at a very modest level and found out that, it may be a tight year. I am glad that I sat down to make these calculations because, honestly I was not thinking it would be tight at all. It always pays to do the math I guess. Of course, the consultancy income may be more than what I estimated but, that is not something I will count on.

So, here are my goals:

1. Contribute the maximum to retirement that will be matched by the Government by 25% from Feb.13-Dec.13.
2. Have a mini vacation with Mom.
3.Have a vacation with friends from the US if they can make it to Turkey this year. (This may be a little on the expensive side but, I am thinking of ways to make it affordable already).
4. Have the apartment painted.(Not a big ticket item).
5. Keep on paying the rental apartment debt.

I had posted that I would work on Thursday and Friday and was  very happy about that. Unfortunately, the Customer postponed the scheduled visit. No big deal but still...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Can you say "No"?

I chatted with an old friend of mine couple of days ago over a cup of coffee. For a long time, I have always thought that her family was taking advantage of her just because she is a really really nice person. They step on her like a door mat all the time and I have known her for over 20 years. To me, it is sad.

As usual she was complaining about her sister and her parents and suddenly I realized that, her family is not the real problem. It is her inability to say "No". She feels bad when she refuses them so she almost never declines anything.

There is nothing wrong with saying "no" when you do not want to do something. I am not talking about being selfish here. I am just saying if you will feel bad about something later and resent it, do not accept it in the first place. There is only so much one person can do within her/his schedule, abilities, patience and stamina. It is absolutely OK to say "no" when you know you need to.

I never had her kind of problems with my family because I think we all have a sense of sharing the load when things must be done. Besides, we can openly tell each other whether we can do something or not without getting anybody's feelings hurt. We know and accept what each other likes and dislikes. This does not mean we do not argue, we do but, we never stop talking to each other or apologize.

I love my family to the moon and back but that does not mean that I would always accept anything and everything they may ask. I know they feel the same and it's OK.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why do people save things for special occassions?

Today mom showed me a beautiful leather handbag that I had given her more than 20 years ago. She never used it because, she saved it for special occassions and perhaps forgot it for some time. The bag must have cost me the half of my salary back then.

She asked me if I would like to have it and I said "Well since that you are not using it why not?"

I am not upset. Over the years I bought many things for mom and she used most of them till they basically fell apart.

However, I have a problem with saving beautiful things for special occassions. When is a better time than now?

When I was a kid, many people had a "guest room". Some people still do. That usually was the largest room of the house originally intended to be the family room. It would be expensively furnished and decorated and would be kept closed most of the time. The room would be barely used and some women even covered the furniture with throws or sheets so that the furniture wouldn't get dusty or fade.  Even as a kid, that was such a stupid thing for me. After all, why shouldn't I enjoy the best room and best furnishings that I can afford?

Who knows how long we shall live or how long we will have the good health to enjoy our belongings?


Monday, December 24, 2012

Update on the Family Situation

I came to Ankara last week and stayed with sis and BIL. Mom was already staying with them, cooking and keeping them company.

Yesterday we came back to my mom's home.

Things were looking good as far as her MIL and FIL were concerned until last night. Last night the MIL had another massive stroke wiping out all the progress she has made in the last two months. She was at a therapy  center when the stroke came, so they immediately notified my sister and her husband and transferred the patient with an ambulance to the hospital. Her MIL is now in ICU and her situation is critical.
Everyone is devastated. Such a horrible day...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

courtesy of designtutorial.com

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy New Year!

Peace at home, peace on earth!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Debt gives me an itch...

Ever since I got rid of Debt 1, I find myself crunching numbers to see if I can pay the rest. Well, that will mean dipping into my EF and I shouldn't do it. An EF is for emergencies only and paying a debt less than 9,000 USD in 18 months is a wiser thing to do while building a stronger EF and investing in my BES.

I must keep reminding myself that my contributions to the BES are much more valuable than reducing that small debt. After all my contributions will be matched by 25% by the Government, come 2013. This is something they are doing to lure people into setting up and funding personal retirement funds which I have been doing since 2004 a little after the system became available. I know it will be for a limited time once enough people start understanding that social security will not be sufficient and start contributing. I am sure the amount the Government is matching starting in 2013 will be reduced. Until then, I should take full advantage of this and it means maxing out my contributions.

So, stop itching!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two More Days of Work

Today I received a call from my colleagues and they asked me to go to the new client on Thursday and Friday in Izmir next week. This is great news! I did not think there would be more work before the end of the year. It is only two days but still better than none.

This is also a good sign that shows there will be more work on January and February. Yay! Hopefully a good start for 2013...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of Financial Goals - 2012

It is time to review the financial goals I had set early 2012 and see how I did.

I do not calculate my Net Worth. So, my financial tables do not include the two apartments and the car I own nor the small debt I have on the second apartment. What I track of is a basket that contains the following:

Emergency Fund (Cash and two short-term interest earning accounts)
BES (similar to a ROTH)
Stocks
Gold (Coins and a gold account at a bank)
Foreign Currency (USD)

For privacy reasons, I am sharing them as graphs only. Below is what they look like:

2012 Actual

2012 Goal


I have exceeded some of my goals because the Turkish Stock Exchange did comparatively well this year. I am short on my cash goal, the Emergency Fund: (Well... If need be, Gold and USD can easily be converted to cash). 

I think it is worthwhile to mention that my EF is sizable. It is not a small one. Right now, it is a few months of my living expenses. My original goal was to make it 8-9 months worth of living expenses but, alas!

I own the apartment I live in free and clear. No mortgage on that. I owe less than USD 9,000 on the rental unit. That debt will go away by May 2015 if not sooner. 

I am already in my semi-retirement so, it is important for me not to have debt. As soon as I pay for the rental fully, I will feel very relieved. Until then, I am allowed to worry a little.



























I have exceeded some of my goals because the IMKB, the Turkish Stock Exchange did comparatively well this year. I am short on my cash goals:( Welll... If need be, Gold and USD can easily be converted to cash.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Prayers are with the Families of Sandy Hook Elementary School

I cannot believe the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I can only imagine the families who lost their inncocent little kids must be devastated and the surviving kids will forever be scarred.

My prayers are with those who were affected by this horrible event.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Need to go to Ankara

I was planning to go to Ankara to spend the New Year's with my family, but I need to go earlier than I originally planned. My sister's FIL had a back surgery on Wednesday and it will take some time for him to recuperate. Her MIL will likely go into a physical theraphy center this week for at least three weeks. Both my sis and BIL are emotionally and physically drained running between home, work and hospitals and doctors' offices. BIL is an only child so he lacks the support of siblings and his only pillar is my sis.

I think I will hit the road on Monday. I am planning to stay until the 4th-5th of January and take mom with me coming back home. This way, she will get to spend some time in Istanbul which she loves and my sister will not have to think about her while her in laws are healing. Actually, mom is pretty good on her own but still, at least every weekend sis tries to spend time with her especially now that I am back in Istanbul.

If I can run a few errands for them while I'm in Ankara, I know it will be appreciated. I need to consume what's in my fridge until Monday. I am going to be out on Friday night but, there's still plenty of time to clean out the fridge. I hate it when food goes to waste.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Non-Touristic Attractions of Istanbul: Eminonu Part 2

I went to Eminonu today and came home with four pashminas and two sets of  brass mortar and pestle (one is for sis). It was so crowded that I totally forgot to take the pictures of the shops but I have some neat pictures of my motor boat rides.

I did not feel like I would be able to walk around much buy I did OK. If it wasn't so cold and if I was feeling better, I am sure I could walk more. I did not buy unnecessary stuff. There is only my sister's father in law left on my gift list. I will pick up a shirt or a sweater for him.

Here are the pictures as promised:
Starting Point Kadikoy



A Car Ferry
Eminonu Outside of the Spice Bazaar

A typical ferry crossing the Bosphorus
Heading back to Kadikoy


For a while, I tought, we were on a collision course with this big guy

Haydarpasa Train Terminal


Pulling back from Eminonu

The colors were more vibrant, my phone camera did not do justice

Up on the hill, you can see a glimpse of the Topkapi Palace

Another shot of Topkapi from afar


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Non-touristic Attractions of Istanbul: Eminonu Part 1

Tomorrow I will head to Eminonu to complete my gift list. Eminonu is right by the Spice Bazaar and very close to the Grand Bazaar. The prices are much better than the Grand Bazaar for similar items. I do not say that Eminonu offers the same variety that the Grand Bazaar offers but, it still is a vast shopping area.

It is crowded and it appeals to lower income level shoppers the most. Some days you find nothing that you need or want, some days you can score real well. Each time I go there (may be twice a year), it is an adventure. I am determined to take pictures and post them along with my finds tomorrow. I will be on the lookout for pashminas and/or scarves, sweat pants, pajamas or nightgowns and a brass mortar and pestle if I can find one.

Today it was rather chilly so I could not sit at the outside benches of the ferry. Tomorrow I will bundle up and sit outside and take pictures. A ferry ride across the Bosphorus with a cup of tea is priceless.

I walked 6,000 steps today. I have a step counter app in my cell phone. Tomorrow, I will do just as much if not better.

Irregular Work

Last week and the week before last, I was swamped with work. This week nothing! Nothing at all. I do not know if there will be any work until the end of this year. Yikes! I knew the work and the income would be irregular and I was financially prepared for this yet, it is still scary.

The company I work with is a little disorganized. They rushed me last week and today I received a phone call from them inquiring about a package of documents I have delivered on the 5th of December! They have a very heavy workload but it looks like the customers are pulling them in all directions and they cannot plan the business well.  I think they are trying to close some of the projects and bill the Customers this month. The lack of new work may be due to the year end, I do not know.

Initially, I had asked them to guarantee me at least 4 days a month on the average so, I will give them 6 months to see what the average comes to. If they cannot keep me busy at least 4 days a month, I will tell them we cannot be exclusive. There are other companies interested in doing business with me so, I may talk to them. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paid the highest interest debt! YAY!

I have closed the 12.60% interest debt. I feel very good about this. Unfortunately the Ticker Factory is malfunctioning and I cannot update my ticker ruler above. (UPDATE: The ticker is now showing the current status:)

Now I have only 16,000 TL (less than USD 9,000) left to pay till May 2014. I am happy!

I will not meet my cash goal at the end of the year but getting rid of a part of the debt was more important to me. Hope, I will make enough money on the consultancy business so that, I can get rid of the rest in the first 6 months of 2012.

This was my big New Year gift to me! Isn't that a great gift?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shopping for a baby

Today I went out to get a gift for the cleaning lady's new granddaughter. She will be born in a few weeks.
I am not used to shopping for babies and I wanted to get something practical for the new mom-to-be.

I got a three pack of bodysuits, and a one piece pajama. I did not buy a very small size and opted for a 9-month old size. I also got an exhange card in case they may want to get something else. Baby stuff is expensive when you know you are paying so much for so little material.

It took me at least an hour to select the gift but everything was so cute and it was lot of fun to shop for a baby:) Hope she will have a long, healthy and prosperous life.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nothing special

I delivered the project on hand on Wednesday and now I do not have any new assignments.

Yesterday, I had my brake pads changed. Although the technician told me they would still be good for another 5,000 Km., I thought it would be wise to replace them since I am planning to do some driving in the winter. I already have my winter tires installed on the car. I wasn't feeling comfortable with the brakes as they were. Better be safe than sorry

Yesterday I also exchanged a sweater I bought for my uncle as a New Year's gift, picked-up two funny T-shirts for Sis and BIL. I am almost done with my shopping and I did very very well, way under my budget.

Today I woke up at 8:30 although I went to bed at 2:00 a.m. I dyed my hair, paid some bills online and made lunch with enough leftovers for tomorrow As I am typing this, I am getting ready to chat with a long lost, recently found friend on FB. After our little chat, I will make a Tiramisu for a friend of mine who invited me over to dinner. It is a simple recipe with store bought cake. I will be making it for the first time, but I think I can make it.

I am busy but not rushed. It's a good feeling. Hopefully, the weekend will be like that too.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

My interesting tenant

I have an investment property in Ankara and the day I moved out, my tenant moved in. At first I was reluctant to rent my apartment because I do not like to deal with unpaid rents or damage in the apartment. I put it up for sale but, there weren't buyers around and the real estate agent talked me into renting. He promised I would never have to deal with the tenant and that he would take care of it.

The first month's rent plus a deposit of two months rent was handed to me when I gave the keys and signed the contract. The second month's rent was not deposited on time. I called the real estate agent and it turned out that the tenant was having trouble with my account number which is weird so he sent the rent to the real estate agent and he forwarded it to my account. OK fine. I gave them another account number.

December rent was again delayed. I called the apartment management to see if the monthly maintenance fees were being paid or not. They weren't paid either. So, I called the real estate agent again.

He talked to the tenant and again he is having trouble with my account. So, he sends the real estate agent 3 months worth of rent plus the overdue maintenance fees with interest. Weird huh?

Now I have December, January and February rents. Until March, I will not have to worry about rent.

I have to go back to my calculations to see if I can close the smallest debt with the highest interest AND make maximum contributions into my retirement account next year. If I can, I will.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Made up dinner: Turned out pretty good!

I do not know about you but I never stick to a recipe when I am cooking. Sometimes I totally make up new meals like the one I made tonight.

I had leftover lentils cooked with a bit of ground meat. I had pre-cooked red kidney beans and had some leftover broccoli. I put them all in a pot, added some tomato sauce and sprinkled it with some cajun seasoning and let it simmer for about 5 minutes till the broccoli cooked. I had them with some whole wheat crackers because I was to lazy to make rice or potatoes to go with it.

It was a good dinner. Lentils, red beans and broccoli... Healthy and hearty in this cold winter day.

Oh yes! The winter finally arrived here. We saw some snow, a lot of rain today and it is pretty cold outside.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Financial Choices

I had mentioned that the debt I had taken out for the rental apartment was three parts. Here is what is remaining:

Debt 1: 5,903 TL at 12,60%
Debt 2: 8,693 TL at 11,52%
Debt 3: 7,350 TL at 11,03%

I can only earn around 7,5% interest on my savings account. Earlier, I had decided to pay Debt 1 by mid-December. Then, it hit me! Starting January, the Government is going to match 25% of personal retirement funds!

Our system is a lot different than what you are used to. First of all we have a Social Security System which is not doing real well. I am barely past 45 and I was able to retire this year. So, obviously this system is not sustainable in the long run. Few years ago they pushed the retirement age in increments but, the effects will be seen much later. Therefore in 2004, a legislation passed for personal retirement. This is thought to be a supplementary system for the Social Security. Up until this year, I would document my contributions to my employer and I would receive a tax refund. A lot of people could not take advantage of this so the Government decided to match 25% of all contributions. Of course there is a cap.

In lieu of the above, doesn't it make more sense to contribute more to the personal retirement and get the 25% government match? It is free money so, why not take it?

Yes, I would like to see the debt gone earlier but, the logical thing to do is to up the retirement fund contributions. In the personal retirement system, the earliest date that I can be eligible to retire is when I am 56. That is still 11,5 years away. As long as I can contribute to the system, I will receive the Government match. Not bad huh?

The debt will still be paid as planned.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Joneses

Have you seen the movie? I am watching it for the first time as I am typing this. What a story. It is sad how people envy each other and can be influenced so easily. I even caught myself thinking what product was making Demi Moore's hair so great. Silly!

Many years ago, I was the head of a team of 7 people. The company was not doing too well and the HQ decided to downsize our unit and finally merge with another. Once this has been made public, I gathered my people and advised them to avoid frivolous spending because, almost all were looking to buy a house or a car at the time. Nobody was expecting to see the changes happen in less than two years but still, I personally wouldn't want debt on my shoulders if I had to leave the company so, I felt it made sense to warn them.

In less than a month, 3 of them bought brand new cars with 36 month payment schedules. When asked, one of them said instead of buying an apartment, she decided to get a new car so that the debt would be less. Yeah, really clever.

In about ten months, things have rapidly changed and since I was upper management, I was offered a nice package if I resigned on my own along with the other managers. I took it. The team members stayed with the new company and were gradually let go sans any package.

The money I had received was substantial. Since I had been driving a company car prior to parting ways with the company, I did not have a car of my own and needed to get one.

I could have easily bought a brand new car with cash but, instead I called the leasing company who provided our company cars knowing that it would be returned to the leasing company. I asked them if they could offer a price on my car and they were happy to give it to me at a very competitive price way below the market rate. I knew that they already had quiet a bunch of second hand cars and selling them is hard work.

This was in 2006 and the car was a 2003 model. I was the only driver and I knew it was in good condition. A year later when I joined a new company which gave me another company car, the leasing company helped me again selling the car at the same price. I am still grateful to them.

I think it pays to be nice and ask for things. You never know how much help you can get.




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Knitting a Blanket


I am not much of a knitter but, I think it is pretty cheap therapy. If you do it while you watch TV, it takes the guilt out. I am currently knitting a blanket for mom. It is for next winter because, that is when I will be able to finish it at this pace.  It will look like something like this, I hope:)



So far I have been able to finish the first 5 pieces

I have knitted a similar one for my sis and she likes it very much.

The yarn is pretty cheap and I think I will have quiet a bit of left over yarn for smaller projects such as learning different stitches. I have never been able to find a nice fitting knitted hat for myself. I might try making one and try to improve my knitting skills which are basically at kindergarten level...

Friday, November 30, 2012

When NOT TO visit Istanbul

Many people think that Turkey is an exotic country probably warm all year round with deserts and camels and everything. Not so! 


First, thank God we have no deserts (they are not exactly fun) and the only camels you will see are for tourists only. Second, the country is between latitudes 35° and 43° N and longitudes 25° and 45° E. This means we enjoy all 4 seasons here in this country.

For detailed info you may check out  Wikipedia. Another fun fact: There are a few skiing areas within 4 hours of driving distance from Istanbul. 


I think the worst times to visit Istanbul are between late October- late March. It is usually pretty cold with lots of rain and some snow. July and August are also terrible choices unless you want to melt your brains.

My favorite time frame is between early April-mid June. In the spring you can see beautiful lavender colored flowers and tulips all over the city and taking a boat trip along the Bosphorus will present you with stunning views. Since it is not so hot and humid yet, it is possible to take long walks and spend lots of time outside. You can make the most of this city if you walk around especially in the historic peninsula.

Mid September- late October is another good option to see Istanbul. The weather is mild and quiet nice during early Fall.

Istanbul gets some snow during the winter but it does not last long as it does in mid Anatolia and eastern Turkey. Since Istanbul is a coastal city, the climate is somewhat milder. However, even a mild precipitation cripples the city traffic beyond comprehension. 

So, if you ever want to visit this very historic and cool city, let me know. I can give you some tips as to what not to do. As for what to do, I know you guys do a lot of research before visiting places, so may be you can give me tips about that!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is for you procrastinators!

I needed to get some work done today. I prepared everything last night so that, after my breakfast it would be so easy to start concentrating.

So, today I sat down and checked my e-mail, checked some blogs, read online editions of various newspapers, made lunch, made coffee, made dinner, looked for a cabinet I need online, did a load of laundry but, WORK!

As I was looking for more reading material, I came across this blog post. I am going to try the timer trick and reward myself for every interval I am productive. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don't Go Window Shopping

When I was living in Ankara, I would take my mom to a mall almost every weekend since there is not much else to do in a place as boring as the capital city of our nation. Besides, mom gets tired very easily therefore, a mall where there are many options to sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee seemed like a good choice to spend time.

Even if we had nothing to buy, we would always get something we thought we "needed" or spent money on coffee and a dessert or ice cream or a bite to eat. Do it every weekend and it adds up real quickly.

Now that I am back in Istanbul, I am not spending time at malls at all. In the last two months, I think, I have been to a mall just once to buy myself a couple of tops I needed. I ended up buying nothing because I could not find anything appropriate. I was in and out in a matter of 20 minutes. Had I chosen to window shop the rest of the mall, I am sure I would get something I actually do not need or at least sit down a for a cup of coffee and a desert.

Mindless wandering at a mall without a real purpose will make you spend money however trivial it may be. After all money does not grow on trees.

So what do I do when mom is visiting Istanbul? Istanbul is on the Bosphorus so it's very scenic. I sometimes pack a thermos full of tea, something to eat and we go sight seeing. Yes, taking the car means spending money on gas but it is not all that much. Besides, I plan my grocery shopping around these little excursions and save money on gas. We almost never go to malls here. My mom does not stay longer than three weeks so the expenses I incur while she is here are minimal and she likes to treat me as well. These visits are mini vacations for her.

I will go to Ankara for the New Year's and I am hoping to take her back with me. I am sure she will like that. I do enjoy spending time with her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boiling Pasta

They say that the water you boil your pasta in has most of the vitamins and nutrients in the pasta and by throwing it out, you are wasting it. I do not know if this is true but wasting water does not make sense to me anyway.

I usually cook my pasta in very little water and by mixing the pasta frequently, I let the it absorb all the water and if it is not cooked yet, I just add some more water. This way there is no water to dump when you are done. However, sometimes it is not easy like when you are using large pasta such as penne. I then use more water but take the pasta out and use the remaining water to make a soup. This is an especially good strategy when I am making meat filled dumplings (manti).

I have a water saving strategy for the shower as well. The hot water is centrally heated at my apartment. They have these meters that they track our usage and the Apartment Management bills us depending on the usage. I have realized that I let at least half a bucket of water run before I can comfortably step under the shower. So, I keep a bucket by the bathtub and save that half a bucket of water to later dump in the toilet. It is so easy. I am probably saving very little money but knowing that a large portion of the human population has very limited access to water, these tactics make me feel like I have done something that has value.

Paint Smell

Our apartment complex is still under the big insulation project. Finally, they started painting the exterior and the interior of my building and the paint smell is giving me a gigantic headache.

I have put plates with vinegar around the apartment. It is supposed to help with the smell, supposed being the operative word here.

Whenever I open the windows more paint smell come in and they haven't even painted the back side of the building yet.

Any suggestions to deal with the smell of paint?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Budget for Gifts

We are not Christian and we do not celebrate Christmas here but decorating, gift giving and having a nice turkey dinner for the New Year's is tradition in my family. I know it sounds weird, like Christmas and Thanksgiving bundled for 31st of December. Not everyone celebrate the New Year like we do in Turkey. It is even frowned upon by some, since it looks like a Christian tradition. I do not care what anybody else thinks. It makes me happy to decorate my home and give gifts to my family. I like welcoming and celebrating the New Year.

However, we are not into excessive number of gifts. We usually buy one gift per person or may be two. I like giving practical gifts such as clothing items. This year I am buying gifts for the following people:

Mom
Sis
BIL
Uncle
BIL's mom and dad
Cleaning Lady (that will actually be a baby gift for her third grandkid)

I am going to establish a budget for each person and will try to stick to the overall budget I will set.

Even though, I will be visiting them, I will end up cooking and that also means grocery shopping. I like roasting a whole turkey and neither mom nor sis does that. They make side dishes but since I like the Thanksgiving menu so much, I prepare traditional American side dishes as well. At the end of the day, we end up with plenty of leftovers, full stomachs and happy people:)

When I was living in the US, I used to spend Christmas with my American friends at their home and it was a lot of fun. I still remember how the kids attacked piles of gifts and ripped the packages in a matter of minutes. The first time I saw how many gifts they were getting, I was amazed. Then I got used to it too:)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Oh! What a mess!

If you could see my apartment right now, you could be in tears. I almost am. I never anticipated this window business to be so messy. Although the three guys putting up my new windows are very careful, the apartment  is a mess. It is also taking way more time than I thought. My living room is almost done, my bedroom is half done and the spare room still requires lots of work. It is 2:30 p.m.

I just cannot wait to see these people out of my apartment. It is freezing today and it also looks like, it will rain some time during the day.

When they leave, I must vacuum and dust my bedroom thoroughly and change my sheets. Even though the bed was covered, there was so much dust that, I have to change the sheets. After cleaning up my room, I think I will shut myself in there until the cleaning lady gets here on Monday or Tuesday. I am in no condition to deal with the rest of the apartment.

Aaaaaargh!


Friday, November 23, 2012

New Windows

No, I am not talking about the Windows 8 but, rather my actual windows.

I forgot that the new windows will be here tomorrow. My vertigo is still bad but I think, I can sit still while the guys install the new windows. I am hoping they will do a clean job. If not, I will just clean up as much as my vertigo allows me and call the cleaning lady next week.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vertigo Attack and lost days of work...

So much for being happy about a four day work week. This morning due to a bad vertigo attack, I had to cancel my trip to the Customer site so, this week ended up being a two day work week. Bad for the budget but not so bad after all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all American Friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Expense Tracking and Paying Debt

It is the 21st of November and I am proud to say, I have tracked every penny I have spent. I think this may finally become a habit. So far, I had 8 no spend days which is very good.

I have realized that, now that I am tracking my expenses, I tend to be more careful with what I spend. If I reach for a "want" item rather than a "need" item, it makes me think twice.

Mom gave me some cash today. Apparently, I have done some shopping for her few weeks ago which I have completely forgotten. She is funny that way. Whenever I shop for her, she insists on paying. I think I can make the cash in my pocket last until the end of the month.

My sister and my BIL had unexpected expenses lately due to her MIL's situation so, I offered to make a double payment to them. The debt I have for the rental apartment was three parts. Since both of them are in banking they could get a better rate than I could for one part of that debt. So, they took out a loan and I pay them every month. My sister accepted that offer. I have also decided to close the smallest part of the three part loan so, hopefully by 11th of December, I will have shaved a very good portion of my debt.

I will post the numbers later on. Can't wait!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Stupid, stupid me!

I admit I am not a very organized person. The other day it almost cost me a bundle. Well, it has probably cost some electricity anyway. I have realized that, the freezer door was not shut properly. When I looked inside, I saw quite a bit of snow-like ice which never happens since it is a no-frost fridge and realized that since I was not placing things in there carefully but rather cramming everything, the door somehow did not shut well. If I hadn't seen it that day and left for my week-long trip, I am sure all food in there would be spoilt.

This is downright stupid of me. After all it is a matter of minutes to organize everything in that little space.

When it comes to organizing anything around the apartment, I suddenly become to Guru of Procrastination. Even small chores seem like big burdens. Why am I like this? I gotta get my act together. I remember how proud I had felt when I had organized my shoes few weeks ago. Besides such chores actually have theraphy effect since they do not require a lot of thinking.

On the other hand my mom is the Guru of Organization. Everything in her apartment has a place and at any given time during the day, if you look at her apartment, you will see that nothing is ever out of place. Most of her rooms look like there is nobody living there. After every meal, she meticuluosuly cleans up and leaves her kitchen as if it has not seen any action for days. So, how could her own daughter be so messy?

I am not happy with myself lately...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Never Ending Laundry...

You would think since I live on my own I wouldn't have so much laundry. Not so. All day today, I washed 6 loads and my bathroom towels are spinning right now as the 7th load. I am so glad I now have two drying racks.

I do not have a designated laundry day. I have two hampers: One for towels and sheets, one for everything else. When my hampers start looking full, I sort the laundry out and start washing them. I almost always have a full load except for fragile items. I use about a third of the recommended detergent and almost always use cold water. I had been using a real old wash machine which used tı belong to my mom. It was old but it was a great machine. Now, I have one of those energy efficient machines which use very little water. It just bothers me that with so little water, does it really clean the clothes? Then I remember that my clothes do not get really soiled or dirty. Well, I am still getting used to it. Also, the new machine is a bit smaller than the old one so, a full load is somewhat smaller too.

It feels like after I empty the hampers they start filling up by themselves as soon as I turn my back. Weird huh?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Busy week coming up

Next week, I shall be working for four days, two in Ankara, two in Iskenderun. There is a good chance that I will spend Wednesday with mom and sis so, this is another good opportunity.

I was not expecting November to be this busy. When I decided to leave my regular job and take part-time work, I calculated that a minimum of 4 days per month on the average would keep me in an OK income zone (of course with the help of my rental and SS income). Anything above 4 days is good. Last month I worked a total of 7 days and this month, I think I will exceed 8 days by the end of the month. Of course this is not indicative of anything in such a short time. I need to spend a whole year to see the average number of days I can work. Surely summer will be much slower.

I am trying to figure out what to pack since Iskenderun is probably much warmer being a coastal city in the south.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Business Trip and Counting My Blessings

I am on a business trip for two days in Ankara which gave me the opportunity to see my mom. I was not expecting this trip so I was surprised when I got the call the day before.

I truly love my mom and my sister. They are the most important people in  my life. Although I could not see my sister this time, I was sure glad to see mom and spend some time together. I woke up this morning prepared tea, took out the breakfast tray and hit the shower. After drying my hair and dressing myself, I woke my mom up and we had breakfast together. I am blessed to have a great family and I am hoping to be with them for many years to come in good health. I only wish my dad was still with us. He was a terrific parent too.

The Customer turned out to be a very interesting one. They have a ton of work they must be performing soon but I have observed a lack of motivation and capability among the people. It looks like top management support is not in place which explains a great deal. It is a bit of a toxic work environment for most.

I am thankful for the choices I have made so far. My last work place was similar and I remember how unhappy I was.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blogging in a foreign language... English!

English is not my native language but, I am very comfortable reading, writing and speaking it. I try reading originals instead of translations, watching original movies instead of dubbed versions to keep my English alive.

Language is a strange thing. If you do not use it, you are bound to lose it. So, since it is not a part of my daily life, I decided to have this blog in English in order to meet blogging buddies and keep it a part of my daily routine. Is it much harder than writing in Turkish? I do not think so. Of course my vocabulary is not as rich as my vocabulary in my own language but still, it is not that hard to write a blog in English.

I remember the first day I had arrived in the US. In fact it was the very first time I was abroad, the very first time I was on an aircraft and the very first time I was away from my family, alone. (and I ended up in NY!)
I have checked in to my room at the hotel and turned on the TV. There was commercial of Shop-Rite and I could not understand a word of it! It was so strange to my ears... After all, I had learnt English at Turkish Schools taught by Turkish teachers. I was not exposed to the American accent much. The guy who interviewed me for that job which landed me in NY, spoke a very "clean" English so, the interview had gone very well but the stupid commercial made me depressed!

The next day at work, they placed me in the cubicle of a dear friend who had a very strong Boston accent! He was a wonderful person and he loved to listen to my adventures every weekend, but that is another story for another post.

I think in about two months, I have acquired a nearly NY accent and my vocabulary expanded. It was a very good experience. My strength comes from the fact that I imitate others well and I am not bashful. I do not care if I make mistakes and if people correct me. I learn the correct way and move on. Some people are embarrased to make mistakes and their lives are harder in a foreign country. I was with a bunch of Turkish colleagues and most of them had that problem.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

What's in my cookie jar?

I shouldn't be eating cookies. Let alone eating, I shouldn't be even looking at them. I am obese and I will tackle my weight issues in the very near future. This year I have gone through a detailed check-up and the last doctor's visit I must make is on Monday. I have to see an orthopedist for my tendons and ask for exercise advice. After that, I will start seeing a dietician.

So, what is in my cookie jar? Extra light bulbs:)

After I moved back from Ankara, since I have taken down the light fixtures, I ended up with quiet a few light bulbs. Their boxes were long gone and I was looking for some place safe and out of the way to put them. I suddenly remembered my sunflower cookie jar was empty  and I could put my light bulbs in it. Now, that is what I call re-purposing:)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Changing the windows...

It looks like I need to be spending some money changing my windows. My apartment is about 15 years old. It is a sturdy building but not without problems. Looking carefully into the water leakage problem, I have realized that, some of the problem is due to outside wall issues and some is due to the current windows with roller shutters that I have. Outside problems will be fixed by the contractor as promised by the management (I hope) and I have decided to renew the windows to take care of the other problems.

To be honest I was using the shutters only when I left home for prolonged periods of time and at night when I wanted to keep my window open. I am on the entrance floor so, the shutters provided some security. The shutter boxes into which the shutters roll up are a mess. They get very dirty over time and it is not easy to clean them. I have decided to get rid of it all and get brand new windows without shutters. For protection, my new windows will be inward awning with a lock mechanism. 

There are three windows that need to be replaced so, I will be spending something in the neighborhood of 2,300 TL. (approximately USD 1,285). Furthermore, I will have brand new screens fitting each window. I think it is a good deal. The money is going to come out of the house repairs fund I had been setting aside. I knew my apartment would require some repairs sooner or later and was prepared for that.

I will buy a storage closet for my balcony in the next few months and I will have the entire apartment painted in the summer. I was preparing to do that in the spring but the contractor told me that it would be best to have the apartment painted in August because when the walls get the humidity once, it is not easy to get rid of it completely. Hopefully I will not need to spend any more money on the apartment until 2014 except for a few minor things here and there.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grocery Shopping

I went grocery shopping and spent 166.46 TL today. My normal weekly spending is much less than that but I have purchased some detergent to last me for quiet a while. I also bought some helva, a jar of peanut butter, honey, milk, tomato puree and rice which are staples for my fridge and pantry. They are supposed to last for a while too.

I have given up eating chicken because they say chicken are pumped with antibiotics and hormones and they are bad for health. So, I bought some turkey meat instead although the selection was somewhat limited. Turkey is not popular in Turkey:) Therefore, I am planning to purchase a big bird for the New Year's which is the only time turkey meat is abundant and freeze most of it for later.

Also, I like to eat a lot of fish during the hunting season that is between September 1st-Mid April. Lately blue fish is abundant and I am hoping to get a good deal next week to stock up on some. I did not get any fish from the store I went to. I have a fish place at the Kartal Fish Market. I am planning to go there after my doctors appointment on Monday. My tendons are acting up again.

I am very proud of myself because lately I have started eating fruit. I bought a pineapple, two different kinds of apples, mandarines (my favorite) and japanese persimmon or trabzon hurmasi as we call it.

The vegetables did not look good so, I bought just a couple of things to cook tomorrow for the weekend. I may consider going to an open market on Saturday for fresh veggies even though I hate shopping on the weekends.

I am meeting a friend for coffee late in the afternoon tomorrow and then I shall be seeing another friend over the weekend. Hope, the weather will be nice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Always consult others before major purchases

Since I have been living on my own for quite a while, I am used to making my own decisions. I consider myself generally very good in decision making. I never rush. I always look for alternatives and evaluate them long enough before major purchases.

However, I am not so good about putting the word out and consulting others. Strange for someone who makes a living  as a consultant:)

I am 45 and I have been wearing glasses since I was 8. So, prescription glasses have always been an important purchase in my life. Normally, I do not wear brand name clothing unless things are purchased at deep discounts or from outlet stores. Glasses are a different story. I almost always go out for purchasing glasses telling myself:" I am not buying an expensive brand name this time!" and end up with expensive glasses.

The last 4 frames I have purchased were: Silhouette, Versace, Gucci and Armani. I do not know how I ended up buying glasses that cost more than 1,000 TL each time (lenses included).

Things have changed this year. I mentioned to a few friends that I was sick and tired of overpaying for expensive glasses and one of those friends told me about an excellent place to get my new glasses. I got a brand new pair of Lacoste glasses(yeah, I know another brand name) and new lenses for my existing Silhouette frame for....... drum roll please.....525 TL!

I will include friends and family in my search process from now on. Got my lesson...



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Travel Plans for 2013

I am scared to make plans for the future because by now, I have learnt that unexpected may happen and jeopardize all plans. So, I am going to be cautious here.

I have lived in the US for over three and a half years in the past and I miss it. So, I would like to spend a 4 week vacation in the US in 2013. My favorite season is the Fall so, I am hoping to do this in October-November.

During my last visits to the US, I went to Las Vegas and Chicago but, I miss NYC very much. I would like to spend some time around NY or may be; spend the entire time there.

However, I would like to see Seattle very much also. I am thinking of a road trip from San Fransisco to Sacramento and then to Seattle. I like San Fransisco a whole lot so, it wuld be nice to see it again. I have been to Sacramento just once and since it was a brief business trip, I could not see much.

So, I may fly to NY and fly over to SF and spend 7-8 days doing the SF-Sacramento-Seattle thing, go back to NY and spend the rest of the time around the tri-state area. This is a more expensive option than, just staying around NY. If I spend the entire time in NY area, I will probably stay at an extended stay type of accomodation with a small kitchen and spend way less money.

This vacation can only happen if I can average at least 6 days a month doing consulting work between now and next September. So, I will just keep my fingers crossed, hope for the best and look for inexpensive car rental and accomodation options starting early spring. I can buy the airline ticket with my CC points so, that is not a concern.

It is amazing that there are 5 daily direct flights to NYC from Istanbul nowadays. Turkish Airlines has three direct flights a day, Delta has one, and so does United. It takes 10-10,5 hours on the way to NY and 9,5 hours on the way back.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Track Expenses

This month I have decided o track my daily expenses on a daily basis. I have tried it before but was unsuccessful. Hopefully this time I will do it.

Weekend did some damage to my pocket but it was not too bad besides, it was planned. I get together with a group of friends every month and those nights are usually expensive. We almost always have an excellent time and these meetings happened even when I was living in Ankara. I would set a date and everyone in the group (6 people) would keep that date. We were colleagues until 2006 but then everybody started working for different companies but our ties were so strong that we kept seeing each other.

Today, I steamed some cauliflower, made rice and green lentils. So, for tomorrow, I do not have to worry about what to cook. I think I will freeze some of the lentils for later.

I am thinking about making pizza on Wednesday. I bought some whole wheat flour and I would like to try baking a bread and since the oven will be used anyway, I can have pizza for dinner.

Now, I must go get some work done.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Half of the Debt Is Paid! YAY!

Today is the day that marks the completion of the half of the payments of my investment apartment debt. It was a 36 month debt and as of today 18 months are gone!

It really is a good feeling. Actually I do have enough money to close the rest of it but, then I would become very vulnerable for emergencies so, I keep the money in savings and keep on making monthly payments.

It's a good day!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Irregular Income and Automated Payments

Up until now, I had a monthly salary paid the last day of each month and it was pretty easy to automate almost all payments.

Now:

Social Security Payment: End of every month
Consultancy Income: Don't know when yet. I must claim expenses and then, bill the company.
Rent Income: Between the 1st and 3rd of each month if the tenant pays on time

Also a friend of mine is paying me back for a trip I had to arrange for her with my credit card. She called me to ask if it would be OK for her to pay on Monday and I agreed since it is not a significant amount. The credit card company divided the whole cost of the trip into five installments so, I had told her to pay in installments too.

I actually do not like it when the credit card company has these promotions where they divide the payments without asking me first.

So, I thought, I would have enough money for the early bills this month, but I think I miscalculated a little bit therefore, I must deposit some cash to my account tomorrow.

I think I must keep extra cash in my account. I really do not like to do that though. I rather like to see my money in my savings account earning interest.

I must get used to paying more attention to my account balances and automated payments from now on.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When I was young...

Thank God I have not started saying "When I was young..." yet. May be in 10 years or so...

My grandparents used to complain that nothing ever tasted like when they were young. To them, apples were no more the apples they knew, bread was not as tasty as the bread they used have, nothing was ever anything like they knew when they were young. Mom sometimes does the same thing.

Is it really so? Or, is it people's taste buds changing over time? Today, I made some sort of a very simple pastry my grandma used to make. It smelled the same, yet did not taste the same. Or so I thought...

Is it us? Or is it really the ingredients? Does everything taste better for kids? Do we develop a more refined palate over time? Do we get spoilt?

But, the most important question is: Am I getting old?

:) :) :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flooded Guest Room!

Istanbul has got nothing to do with the massive hurricane hitting the east coast of the US. We just had some rain, may be a couple of hours, not more. Early this morning I walked into the guest room to get something and realized that there was  quiet a bit of water. It is a laminate surface and luckily I had not put the carpet back which I had rolled and put away while I was not living here. The carpet is nothing fancy but it still is a handwoven Turkish carpet and it belonged to my uncle before he had passed.

I ran to get towels and dried it off and started looking around the window to see if there is a leakage but, it was all dry. Then I examined the wall further and realized that the water is somehow seeping through the wall! Don't ask me how, I don't know.

The stupid contractor is totally behind the schedule with the insulation project and before they were able to complete the whole apartment complex, rain season started and I am the one who has to suffer!

As soon as the clock hits 9:00 a.m. I am calling the super and showing the mess I got. I do not care if they have to re-schedule their work but that wall gets prioritized. This has never happened before and I am in shock as to how that could happen. I am very very pissed. If they do not act quickly, I will have a lawyer friend call the management office although, in this country lawyers are not as scary as their US counterparts.

I hate to say this aloud but, I am not sure if these idiots will be able to fix it. I am so glad that I have postponed the interior paint project till spring. Before everything is fixed outside, I am not painting the interior and ending up with chipping walls. Arrrrrgh!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I have friends living on the east coast of the US so, I am worried about them. 

I hope everyone will be safe and the hurricane will not be as bad as predicted.

Be safe everyone!

7 hour driving adventure

I had to go to Ankara to help my sister and her husband a little bit because they were overwhelmed with caring for his family. Mom is trying to help them out by staying with them a few days to cook and supervise the cleaning lady but, there is only so much she can do and she is old too.

Actually mom had an episode of a nose bleed herself too but luckily hers was not so bad and possibly due to the blood thinners she has to use.

I came back yesterday and it took me 7 hours to drive back which usually takes no more than 4 hours. I drive a stick shift so, imagine driving in stop and go traffic for over two hours as I approached Istanbul. I need pain killers for my aching legs but I need to work so, I do not want to feel drowsy. There was a religious holiday and a lot of people went away and it looked like everyone decided to return on the same day. Today is a national holiday but I guess people wanted to come home a day early and rest.

I was totally drained but as soon as I got home I hung up my flag for today. October 29, 1923 is the day Turkey became a republic and a new country. At that day, the new constitution replaced the old Ottoman constitution by the Turkish parliament. It is a big deal for those of us who are keen  followers of Ataturk, his principles and ideals and who believe in secularism and the modern Turkish Society. I am not going to talk about politics here but I do not like where we are headed for the last few years and I do not appreciate the present prime minister.

I had cooked for long holiday but since I had to go to Ankara, I took all the food to my sister's which she really appreciated. I must go shopping but I think I will do it tomorrow with other errands. Today, I will make do with what I have at home since, I must work and complete a report.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Caring for the elderly

I had mentioned that my sister and her husband are having a tough time because of her MIL's cerebral hemorrage. She has been in the hospital ever since and things are not improving. It is unlikely that she will get better and walk again. She is not much aware of the situation or her surroundings either. Some days she recognizes people, some days she can not. She is unable to speak and move her right hand and right leg.

My brother in law is devastated. He is an only child and his mother's situation is very difficult for him. His father was staying at the hospital during the night and he was staying during the day but his days off are limited and he must get back to work soon. His father recently had an episode of high blood pressure and a massive nose bleed. Since he was at the hospital, they were able to treat him quickly. He is 74 and is totally drained so, my sister and her husband hired someone to stay with the patient at night. 

It looks like they will require 24 hour care at home and at the hospital so, today I e-mailed my yahoo groups to see if someone can recommend an agency or care-takers that they know of.

Nursing homes are not popular in this country and they are always considered as a last resort. 

I keep praying for the family. I hope I will pass quickly and never need any care when it is time. May God have mercy on everyone...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One shopping tip that does not work for me...

You know they always tell you never to go grocery shopping when hungry. I agree with that because, I realized more than once that whenever I shopped hungry, unhealthy snacks hop into my cart. That's bad. However, when I'm full, I tend to not buy even necessary things because they do not appeal to me. I came to realize why that happens.

I do not plan menus at all because, my mood changes even during the day let alone the week. Being a Gemini may have something to do with that but, I do not know really. When I tried to come up with menus for the whole week, I almost never stuck to that list. That means many things get thrown out. That's very bad.

So, my shopping list would have entries like fruit, veggies, meat but does not go into details as to which fruits or veggies or whether I should buy chicken, red meat or turkey. I look for good prices and fresh looking veggies and fruits. When I am full, nothing looks good. So, I end up buying very few items and when I get back home and when it is time to cook, I have not much to cook... Now, how do I deal with that?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hair... No, not the musical!

I hate going to the hairdresser's. I hate when someone washes my hair, gives it a cut and styles it. I feel like running away from it if I can.

Some women love going to the beauty parlor. They soak their feet in water, get a pedicure (yuck!), get a manicure and have their hair done. If they have the money, they would probably go every day. I'm not like that. I have a manicure occasionally and try to prolong it's life so that I do not have to go back. I dye my own hair and have a very simple cut so that it only needs to be trimmed may be twice a year.

You guessed it: It is that time of the year. Actually, it is way past the date I should have had my hair trimmed. I postponed it for too long and now my hair is unnecesarily long. During the summer, I could get away with air drying it but from now on, I need to blow-dry it because it is getting cold. Besides coloring it is also a hassle. I need a good 3 inch trim if not more.

One of these days, I will have to go. Arrrggh!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pizza for One

I like pizza very much but I am tired of the commercial pizza out there. So, I have decided to make my own pizza at home and tried a few recipes and came up with this simple recipe for just one person:

Dough:

1 cup flour (next time I will try half a cup whole wheat, half a cup regular)
1/2 package dry yeast (4-5gr.) (about 0.15 oz. or so)
1 table spoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Warm water enough to make a soft dough

Sauce:

Tomato sauce or puree
Oregano
pinch of salt
garlic or garlic powder

I knead the dough a couple of minutes and then shape it into a ball and put it in a bowl in some place warm.

When the dough doubles in size, I knead it for a few seconds and pat it onto a pan, on baking paper. No rolling pin is necessary.

I place the pan in the oven at around 400-420 F or 200 C for about 6-7 minutes.

I take out the pan and put the sauce on the semi-cooked dough and put my toppings. On the top I sprinkle the shredded cheese. I put this back in the oven till the pizza dough is nicely browned for about 15-20 minutes. If I make more, I tend to eat more so this is a perfect size for a filling portion of pizza.

It is also very easy to double,triple or quadruple this when you have company or if you want to freeze some dough for later.

I like vegetables for topping and use what I have on hand. If there is not much, then it is just a cheese pizza:)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Until Further Notice Thou Shalt Not...

Until further notice I am banning myself from purchasing sheets and towels with the exception of bath towels for guests. I have noticed that my guest towels are no longer soft and fluffy so, I will be on the lookout for deep discounts. Remember T'Pol: No sheets, no towels!

Today, I have arranged my towel and sheet drawers and purged quiet a bit. It feels very good when I'm done with such chores but I almost always procrastinate before I start. When I'm done with this post, I will polish the shoes.

I think, I need to give up a few more pairs of shoes because, I am running out of enough space. My limit(spacewise) is 34 pairs and I am over that. Truth be told, I only wear about 5-6 pairs constantly. The rest wait for a special occasion or a time when my feet are not swollen. No shoes until winter sale season too! I am going to need to replace a couple items during sale season.

This week I am going to see an orthopedist since my feet are killing me and I would like to start long walks in order to lose weight. However, I do not want to hurt myself trying to walk on problematic feet.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shoes!

I finally attacked my shoe racks today. I should have checked the shoe polish before I took down all the shoes. All my black shoes and boots need a good polish and I'm all out. Tomorrow morning, I will have to run to the store and get some. A couple of pairs need some minor repair so, I can also leave them with the cobbler.

It looks like I shall donate two pairs of shoes and a pair of suede boots I have not been able to wear due to my swollen feet.

Monday is the day I go to the charity I donate my stuff. I think I have more stuff to wear at home than I need so I may take another hard look at my closet during the weekend.

I cooked today so, I am all set for the weekend. I have a few hours of work I need to do and some chores.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

My New Office: Starbucks

The insulation project at my apartment complex is still going on and today the workers are drilling holes on my walls again. I think the noisy part of the process will be over in a day or two for the front of the apartment but the back will be done later.

I needed to work so, I escaped from home to Starbucks again. This place is becoming my new office. They have nice work tables and plenty of electrical outlets for the laptops. I am happy and believe it or not I get more work done this way. Thanks Starbucks!

I was complaining about their prices but the amount of time I spend here justifies that. After all, you cannot sit at another cafe for four hours when you just order a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. The place is very large and it is never full so, I do not think it is unethical. Besides, I haven't heard Starbucks complaining about their customers for remaining too long.

You can see professionals having meetings, doing some work on their laptops, students studying and people busy reading, writing you name it. This place is very accomodating.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chores and Work

When I brought more of the stuff I had left behind, my apartment turned into a chaotic place one again although it's not as bad as it was.

Here is today's chores:
1.Fold the laundry (half done)
2. Re-organize the sheet and towel drawers
3. Start the dish washer (Done!)
4. Do work related chores for at least three hours
5. Change the bed (I need a lightweight comforter now that it started cooling down gradually)

I will first start doing some work because it is an activity which earns money. I will have a half hour break during which I will attack the rest of the laundered stuff and change my bed. I will make a coffee and go back to work. Sheet and towel drawers may wait a little longer.

Generally speaking I have more chores around the apartment and I will post a long list later on.

I have the TV on with the Easy Listening Channel on. The background is a slide show of beautiful foliage stills. Gotta get to work now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Family and Tough Times

I came back to Istanbul today. My heart feels a lot heavier than it is. My sister's mother-in-law is the sweetest, kindest person I have ever met so, her situation is making my heart ache.

We never consider how vulnerable we are... My heart goes out to my BIL(I actually call him my brother) and sis but practically there is absolutley nothing I can do for them.

Life was not yesterday and is not tomorrow... Life is today, this very moment so, I think we should try to make the best of it while we can.

Few months ago when my sister was helping her MIL, she found many unused sheets, bed covers and such and asked her why she was not using them and she told her, she was keeping them for later. Which later? We do not think she will ever go back to her home again. If she survives this, she will probably need care the rest of her life.

Tomorrow, I will pack my old stuff for charity and pull out my new sheets and new towels and start using them...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bad News!

My sister's mother-in-law had another episode of cerebral hemorrhage the day before yesterday. Her first was four years ago and she had managed to regain most of her abilities. She had not lost any motor skills but this time her right side is completely numb. Yesterday she seemed to be doing OK but today she was not at all responsive. We are praying that she will recover from this one as well.

I postponed my trip back home until tomorrow. I am also upset for my sister and my BIL. Very difficult situation:(

Thursday, October 11, 2012

At Customer Site

I am stuck at a Customer Site till tomorrow evening. It is interesting, a bit challenging and surely time consuming. Time just flies by. The only problem is I have to work on documents generated by others a long time ago and everything needs to be updated and simplified when necessary. That, I find a bit difficult to deal with but, I do have a better understanding of the system now and that's getting better by the day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RED!

I dye my own hair every two months or so. Yesterday I bought a hair color slightly different than the one I normally use. The color I use is reddish brown. My own hair is boring brown, so I like the reddish glow. It looks healthier, suits my skin color and I like it quiet a bit.

Have I mentioned that I bought a slightly different color this time? It turned out more red than....ever!

I think I might like it;)

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Good Beginning for The Week

Today, I woke up at 7:30 by myself which is incredible because I almost always need my alarm to go off and I had trouble falling asleep last night.

I showered, gathered my things and headed for the nearest Starbucks for breakfast and for doing some work on the project that I am trying to get familiar with. I put in three hours of solid work which was really good. I started to get a better understanding of the project at hand and I started moving a lot faster with what I have to do.

I went to IKEA to exchange some covers I had bought for the love seat and also to pick up a couple of items for mom. After that I went to the REAL right next to IKEA to look at suitcases but I was neither impressed by the quality nor the prices. I picked up some trash bags, Himalayan Salt, hair color and diswasher detergent. They had the store brand on sale so, I am going to give it a shot. It was significantly cheaper than the other detergents.

I dropped by the Pharmacy to pick up my thyroid medication and came home. After resting briefly, I pickled the peppers and the beets I had bought last week. The beets will be ready in 4-5 days but the peppers will need at least three weeks. I made myself dinner and I would like to work another couple of hours after I post this. So, I am pretty happy with what I have done. Oh! And by the way, I walked 5000 steps doing all these chores. I know the ultimate goal is 10,000 steps but after a very sedentary life, I cannot change my ways so drastically.

It also rained quiet a bit today and I feel the temperatures are falling fast. The Fall is finally here. I am sure during my drive tomorrow, I shall be able to see nice Fall colors but, it is never like New England. I miss the Fall of New England. I am hoping and planning a three week vacation next Fall.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Working At Home: Pros and Cons

Working at home is quiet a new thing for me so it does have some challenges. When you walk into an office building, just merely going in there sets the tone for the day and one can concentrate on work with fewer distractions as opposed to working at home. When you are home, there is always something to do around the house such as putting another load in the washer or cleaning the top of the kitchen counter or any other chore you may imagine.

Remember when you were a student, before exams you probably procrastinated as much as possible figuring reasons not to sit down and hit the books real hard? (If you don't... Well we are not all nerds, some people will remember that!!) I find myself in the same situation. Part of the reason is that I am being brought on board a project which has been going on for over two years and the documents I must go through are not complete and it is rather boring. And may be I needed a bit of a down time before I started working. There are still tons to do around the house but this is not a big and real excuse so, I need to pull myself together.

So to be true to the header here are my pros and cons:

Pros:

1. You can work literally in your pajamas or comfy home clothes.
2. You do not need to wear make-up or shave every day.
3. You spend way less money on work clothes.
4. Costs associated with going to work is way down and limited only to those times you need to show up at a customer's office.
5. You eat at home more so that is less costly and more healthy.
6. You can set your own schedule most of the time. Work at night, sleep in until late.

Cons:

1. It is distracting.
2. There is no socializing with co-workers.
3. Most of your friends are working regular jobs so, socializing with them is also limited.
4. I tend to snack more often when I am bored so eating can spin out of control.

Pros outweigh the cons so I am most determined to make this work. Here is my plan:

1. Get up fairly early every day i.e. not later than 8:00 a.m max.
2. Make the bed everyday and never walk around in pajamas or nightgowns. Always be in presentable clothes so that if the door bell rings or if I need to rush out, I can.
3. Set a specific time to sit down and work both in the morning and in the afternoon and stick with my schedule.
4. Spend at least an hour outside even when the weather is bad.
5. Pull out the menus the dietician gave me and stick with those meals and snacks.
6. Go to bed at midnight, the latest.

I wonder how other people cope with this situation. May be I should look up some blogs on the issue.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Progress

So far the apartment looks more normal with the exception of too much laundry. I am hoping to wash, dry, fold everything and put them in all the appropriate places by the end of this weekend.

I have a business trip coming up on Tuesday which will allow me to see my family in Ankara and bring some more of my stuff next weekend if not all. The winter tires are the highest priority on my list. I am pretty sure, I can also bring everything at my mom's. The rest may stay in the apartment's storage.

I am having bad cramps today due to my period but I am also glad that it started today and will be over before my upcoming trip. I hate it when I have my period during trips. Vacations can be planned around it but business trips are not like that.

I am so much used to not having TV that, although I have the cable hooked up, I am not watching it. Today I turned it on scanned the programs a little bit and just turned it off.

Yesterday I ran all my errands as planned and visited and stayed for a while with my friend who had a surgery. She is doing very well and hopefully the pathology results will come clean. That is what her doctor thinks anyway.

I went grocery shopping today and have everything (but coffee) that I need till Tuesday so I do not need to get out of the house at all. If I feel up to it, I may walk to the Starbucks nearby and buy some coffee to make at home. I used to buy Kenya coffee but recently I think I need a bolder flavor so I must remember to look at their web site. I drink one or two cups of coffee a day. If I am outside and if I feel like one, I might have Turkish coffee but I never make it at home. I guess I had made too much of it when I was young, for dad and grandma after every meal at home:) I brew Turkish tea at least once a day and usually have 2-3 cups.

I would like to conquer some house chores and some work related reading over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Public Transportation in Istanbul: Frugal and Fast!

As a person attached to her car ever since she got a driver's license, I must say, I am enjoying the public transportation options that Istanbul has to offer. I still do not recommend anyone to try to use the public transportation during the rush hours (yes plural in this city!).

However, if you are flexible as I am, there are plenty of options in this overly crowded and busy city. For instance, tomorrow I have a few errands to run around the city. Here is what I am going to do:

I will take my car to the Kozyatagi Metro station which is about 5 minutes from my home. I will take the Metro (the Tube if you are British, the Subway if you are American) all the way to Kadikoy. I will hop on a ferry to Eminonu or Karakoy and walk to pick-up my prescription glasses. I will then take the Tram to Kabataş and ride the Funicular to Taksim where I will get on the Metro to Mecidiyekoy to visit a friend at his office. Then, I will probably take a taxi to Okmeydani to a hospital in order to visit a very close friend who will be out of surgery hopefully by then.

The best thing is that I use an Istanbul Kart on all these vehicles which makes it real easy.

If I take my car, all these are still doable but the amount of time I would spend just sitting in my car and the stress of finding a suitable place to park does not make it logical. Besides, I love having tea on the ferry crossing the Bosphorus and I will make sure I will post some photos later in the week. And of course, this not only saves time but plenty of money as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fresh!

Yesterday night, I changed my bed and took a shower before I went to bed. My hair smelled fresh and so did my sheets.

Today, when I woke up, I opened my window and inhaled the fresh morning air.

For lunch, I had a fresh salad with smoked salmon.

I went to a meeting and when I came back, I found my house nice and clean thanks to my cleaning lady.

October started fresh and I am happy because I am done putting everything in it's place. I no longer need to jump over cardboard boxes or bags.

What a fresh day! What a nice beginning!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Today I have accomplished quiet a bit of work around the house. It still looks horrible but not as bad as it was couple of days ago.

I cleaned and re-organized the closet in my bedroom. I still need to sort through clothes to donate. I was hoping to do it as I was cleaning it but since I must wear some of them to see if they fit or not, I just could not do it.

I am hoping to put the guest room in order on Friday since I must attend a meeting tomorrow. I am planning to take down the closet at the entrance and go through my shoes during the weekend. There are boxes of shoes I could not bring so, I know I have more shoes than I need.

I have asked the cleaning lady to come on Monday. Before she comes in everything must be placed in closets or drawers so that she can truly clean. Hopefully next week I will be done.

I just cannot imagine how it is going to be in the spring when I will have the apartment painted. I am also planning to re-model the bathroom and the kitchen in the next 2-3 years if I can set aside the funds.

Here is what I am planning to do:

1. Pay the investment apartment debt. (2013)
2. Have the apartment painted (2013)
3. Have a nice vacation in the US. (I already have enough miles to cover the airline ticket).(2013-2014?)
4. Re-model the bathroom (2015)
5. Re-model the kitchen (2016)

The dates are of course tentative with the exception of number 1 and 2.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Home

Now that I'm home there is major cleaning to do. My apartment was cleaned quiet a few times during the two years I was away but, now it needs a thorough cleaning. I am thinking of emptying every cupboard, every drawer and every wardrobe, giving it a good scrub down and getting rid of unnecessary items and putting everything in place. This is a major undertaking.

I am thinking of calling my cleaning lady twice this week. I have a meeting on Monday during which I will find out about my schedule with my new job. Once I know my schedule for the week, I am planning to call her.

Today, I shall try to clean up the kitchen cupboards myself and do a little grocery shopping. Once the kitchen is done, I am sure I will feel a lot better.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I AM HOME!

This morning my sis and mom came to help me load the car. Sis did an excellent job and was able to fit everything. I think when I told her I might end up leaving some of the stuff with her, that was enough motivation:)

I handed the apartment keys to the real estate broker, took the two months worth of deposit from him, kissed mom and sis and hit the road.

I was home at 5 p.m. with everything unloaded. I feel extremely tired but very happy.

I hope my tenant will pay his rent on time so that I do not have to worry about a thing. There is quiet a bit of unpacking to do but I am OK with that. Home, sweet home!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yikes! Stuff will not fit...

I am almost at the end of my packing spree and I do not think, I will be able to fit everything in my car on Saturday. I must carry some of the stuff to my mom's home so that she can keep them for me until my next visit. My winter tires would also not fit so, those too need to be picked next time as well.

After the movers pick up the stuff on Friday, I shall need to bring everything that will ride with me to the entrance and then take down the curtains. I shall take the curtains to my mom. She will wash and keep them since I do not need them anymore. On Saturday, I will come banck to the apartment put everything in my car, give the keys to the real estate broker and head back to Istanbul.

So far, I think I am at 90% as far as packing is concerned. I hope to be done tomorrow.

This has been a harder job than I anticipated but so far I have done well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hate packing!

I always thought there were not much stuff to be packed but I could not be so wong! Sorting through drawers, bags, cupboards... I am just so tired of looking at documents, throwing away useless receipts, notes, old shopping lists, etc.

I want to accomplish quiet a bit today so that I do not panic during the week because apparently, there is a lot be done.

Here is  my To Do List:

-Separate clothing items I would need until Friday and pack the rest.
-Vacuum the rugs, roll them up and tie them. 
-Run the diswasher one last time after dinner and start packing the kitchen.
-Pack-up the toiletries that will not be needed immediately.
-Pack the shoes
-Empty the drawers by the bedside and gather all medicine together getting rid of expired items.

I was hoping to take back everything that was left with my car but now I have a feeling that I do not have enough space. I may put some of my stuff in the storage area in the basement of my apartment and get them next time I'm in town. My winter tires are already there.