Sunday, March 31, 2013

Q1 2013 is over

I cannot believe a quarter of the New Year is already gone!

I have;

- Settled in my apartment in Istanbul, and got rid of clutter with the help of my mother,
- Started a diet program which hopefully will help me become healthier,
- Worked part-time and made money,
- Planned for some home renovation projects,
- Spent lots of quality time with mom,

and so far, I am happy with my Q1. My financial figures are in line with the goals I had set prior to 2013.

Hopefully I will;
- Re-do my bathroom,
- Change room doors and room frames,
- Have the apartment painted,
- Lose 6 kgs,
- Take a mini vacation (already paid for) with mom,
- Work and make some more money,
- Get rid of some kitchen wares and replace them with new ones if really necessarry

during Q2.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Did I say Spring?

I thought it was supposed to be just 16 degrees Celsius but it turned out to be 25! That's almost summer weather! 77 degrees Fahrenheit! Shocking!

Spring!

Spring seems finally here. Istanbul is covered with beautiful flowers and lots and lots of tulips of all colors. It is supposed to be 16 degrees celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) today.

I was sick since Tuesday but, yesterday I felt like going out. I went to IKEA and got the lamp I needed. Then I went to a furniture store to see pull out couches but found the prices too expensive. Then, I decided to head back home but I came accross a Michelin tire store and decided to see if they carried what I needed for the summer. I had already checked the prices earlier so I knew what a good price should be. They gave me a slightly better price and the option to store my winter tires for just 50 TL (USD 27,75). So, I had my tires changed. They also told me my winter tires were in real good shape and I did not need to buy new ones for next year which made me real happy:)

I came home and my friends called and begged me to join them for dinner. The seven of us get together every month. I figured, I could go since I was feeling much better. So, I did and had a good time. I came back at 01:30 a.m. and went to bed. I am still feeling at 90% but, I will go out and get some fresh air along with fresh groceries at a nearby open market. Here is my shopping list:

Fresh Artichokes
Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh peppers
Cucumbers
Carrots

Since, I shall be traveling Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I do not need more stuff.
I will also pick up a small container of yogurt, a bag of whole wheat bread. and some eggs. I already have plenty of fish and meat patties in the freezer so, I do not need any meat. May be just a little turkey for variety.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Unplanned Spending

I just bought mom a new bed as an early mother's day gift. She needed a new bed but was procrastinating so, I decided to gift it to her. It is an upholstered storage bed with a full orthopedic mattress. The upholstery will perfectly match the rest of her bedroom furniture. Besides, it was a real good deal due to a major sale going on.

I shall pay for the bed in 12 months with my credit card. Total cost is only 1,000 USD and the payments shall start in July. I always pay my credit card in full. To this day I never paid a penny in interest. Although this is unplanned spending, I can make room for it in my budget.

It is a blessing that I can still afford these occasional splurges despite being semi-retired.

Now the biggest expense ahead is re-doing the bathroom and having the entire apartment painted. I think, I would also like to change all the room doors and ddor frames. There are only 6 doors to be replaced. Once I am done with this, the only thing remaining is re-doing the kitchen. I am planning to do that in 2015, not earlier. I would like to be done with home payments before I incur any other big expense. After I am done with the kitchen, I will be all set as far as my apartment is concerned for at least 15 years. I shall probably have the apartment painted just once during that time. The paint we use is washable so every spring the cleaning lady brings her sister and they wash the walls together. It is a tough job but after they are done, the apartment sparkles.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Loser

I forgot to post how much weight I lost within a month.

Drum roll please...... 8,3 pounds! Pretty good isn't it? Most of it is water but it is only natural and I am very motivated. Onwards and downwards:)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Busy Days Ahead

Starting this Monday, I will have my hands full. I have two meetings on Monday and need to drop by a friend's office as well. Tuesday, I need to work from home and on Wednesday mom and I have appointments at the dietician's office. We also need to find a gift for my BIL. Thursday and Friday, I will be traveling for work and on Saturday, mom and I will be heading to Ankara. Mom doesn't drive so it is a 4 hour trip for me. Saturday and Sunday will be spent with family. 

I will most likely travel the week of the 25th as well. When we find out when mom is going to have her cataracts procedure, I will plan the rest of the weeks ahead. 

I am not complaining, I'd rather be busy than bored.

I am planning to volunteer for an NGO active on educational issues. One of the meetings tomorrow is about that.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stocking up on fish

We are fast approaching the fishing ban by the end of March and I decided it was time to stock up on fish. I plugged in the freezer since the freezer of the fridge is not big enough for the job. Besides we have frozen tomatoes and lots of bread in it.

We went out to a fish market and bought 6 seabreams, 6 seabasses, 2 kgs. of bluefish and 3 big bonitos for a little over USD 100. We shared one of the bonitos for dinner. Mom caramalizes some onion and cooks the bonito slices with that. It's very very very tasty. Yumm!

I carefully packed the fish and put them in the freezer. We now have about 20 portions of fish. We usually eat fish twice a week so that is only 5 weeks of worth of fish. May be next week, we shall visit the fish market again.

I almost always make the fish in the oven with very little oil. We have it with a salad and a couple of slices of whole wheat bread. That is a satisfying and nutritious meal. Easy as well.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Having a conscience, having a family...

Today, I had the pleasure of having coffeee with an old co-worker and a dear friend. There were many things we had to catch up on and I could not believe it was already two hours when it was time to leave for our other engagements.

We covered many topics some of which were about the whereabouts of some  former colleagues. My friend told me about one of them in particular which made my heart ache for his kids. I remember that guy when he was head over heels in love with his present wife. He basically worshipped her and wanted to get married as soon as possible. When they got married, he was the happiest person on earth. Apparently, within the 6-7 years I have not seen this person, his wife had twins and this guy had to switch jobs a few times. He has resigned from his last job for no good reason and spent the last two years pursuing a dream depleting the family savings and having fun while his wife, and her parents kept pressuring him to get a decent job.

Recently my friend and this guy got together over a cup of coffee and this guy told my friend that he will soon walk out of his marriage because having a family was "just too much" for him and that he wants to have his own life... It is not like he wants a divorce from his wife, he wants a divorce from all his responsibilities!

Excuse me! Is that so easy to leave your family to be free and to live the life of your choosing? Why did you get married and had kids in the first place? Even if you get a divorce, the kids are still yours too and you have to provide for them, you have to "be there" when they are growing up. I am very upset about that nice girl who became his wife. I do not understand whether he has any conscience or not. He may have understood that the life he chose was not what he wanted but, this does not qualify him to walk out on his kids.

I do not have kids but I was very lucky to have an excellent set of parents so, I know a thing or two about families...


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Momzilla! The Declutterer:)

My mom is a neat freak. Her apartment looks like there is noone living in there during a normal day. She puts everything back in their places when she is done with them.

She meticuluosuly keeps an organized kitchen and cupboards. Every couple of months, she takes down all wardrobes and goes through them. Noone can be so organized and neat. She just cannot stand clutter and mess. The other day she hung some laundry to dry on the drying racks and I swear even the hung laundry looked neat and organized.

According to her, I am very messy but to other people, I am quite normal:)

When I came back from Ankara, even though I had not acquired much stuff, I still had difficulty to find a place for everything. I tried my best for a few weeks and then got tired and let go. Then I went back to spend the New Years with the family, then I was busy, etc. etc.

Now that mom is with me for a while, my apartment got a lot neater. She helped me declutter and get rid of stuff that I had no use for. She went through all wardrobes, cupboards, boxes and had me sort out stuff I wanted to hang on to and get rid of.

She could make a living working as a declutterer.

Now I am looking around and I am very pleased with what I see. I love you momzilla!:)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tracking Spending

I had started to track my expenses but after I went to Ankara for the New Year, I ignored it. January and February came and went and I tracked nothing. Mom is with me so she pays for some groceries and meals out too but still, I think I spent more money than I should have and there is no record to analyze that yet I somehow attribute this to the doctor visit and blood works before seeing the dietician and the dietician visits. Also, I purchased our mini vacation in May in Bodrum.

I have decided to track my spending in March. I think it is very important to see where the money goes.

I have a budget system that worked for me many years but now that my income is comparatively lower due to my semi-retirement, I think I should be a lot more careful. My budget categories include:

Savings (I pay myself first)
Utilities (itemized)
Insurances (itemized)
Taxes (itemized)
Charity
Car Maintenance
Miscellanous (a catch-all category for groceries, meals out, gas, health related expenses)

I am either allowing very little for the miscellanous or overspending in that category and the only way to find out is by tracking the money.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wanna compare grocery prices?

I went grocery shopping yesterday and I bought some staples and some detergent. I did not buy any vegetables because I like to purchase fresh produce at the open market close to where I live.

The meat products I have purchased are good for over two weeks for mom and I. The detergent will also last us for quiet a while. We will go through the yogurt in 4 days:) And yes, that is what the dietician approves.

TL USD
3lt liquid detergent (colors) 9,9 5,50
4lt bleach 2,9 1,61
1,5 lt bathroom cleaner 6,9 3,83
24 pack feminine pads 8,25 4,58
3 Kg. powder detergent (whites) 15,9 8,83
Pastırma (beef bacon) 29,55 16,42
1,6 kg. minced meat 38 21,11
0,5 kg chicken breast 4,75 2,64
2 Seabreams 12,09 6,72
Wheat Crackers 3,52 1,96
2,250kg. Plain yogurt 5,99 3,33
4 simits (think sesame bagel) 3 1,67
3 loaves of whole wheat bread 10,5 5,83
151,25 84,03

Today I went to the open market and for 21 USD, I bought the following:

2 Kg. cherry tomatoes
2 bunches of chard
1,5 kg leek
4 oranges
0,5kg green peppers
1 kg. cucumbers
A bunch of broccoli

I do not have the itemized prices on these. These will last us a week but, I may purchase additional fruit and some salad greens during the week.

So, how does Turkish prices compare to your country? I did not do the math to convert the weight and volume units from metric to imperial but, 1 kg is 2,205 pounds, 1 lt is 33,81 fl.oz.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Effects of the Diet on my Grocery Shopping

I do not have a strict budget for my grocery shopping but, I know the good prices on many staples and I shop accordingly. My grocery shopping got pretty simple due to the menu plan the dietician gave me. Here is what my shopping list looks like:

Whole Wheat Bread
White Cheese (similar to Feta but not as sharp)
Plain Yogurt
Vegetables
Salad Greens, Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers
Fresh Fruit
Walnuts

I have not purchased any meat or beans for a while since we had stocked up on them a couple of weeks ago and I had quiet a variety of beans in the pantry. We usually cook three vegetable dishes per week. We alternate between fish, red meat, poultry and beans. Since I am no longer buying junk food or any processed food, my grocery shopping is cheaper. Fish is cheap and I am planning to stock up on it these days for those months when there will be no fresh fish or when fish will be at a premium.

The daily menu is:

Breakfast:
Whole Wheat Bread
Walnuts
White Cheese
Cucumber,Tomato

Snack: Fruit

Lunch:
Veggie dish
Yogurt
Whole Wheat Bread

Snack:
Crackers and Yogurt
or a Cheese sandwich

Dinner:
Meat/Fish or Poultry
A big salad
Whole Wheat Bread

Snack:
Fruit and Yogurt