Saturday, October 26, 2013

Getting ready for winter

Today I went to the Nissan dealer's service shop to get my blown headlamp changed. The guy who helped me there saw that I was almost there for my 90,000 Km. maintenance, he told me about the promotion they were offering. Seems like a very good deal. Next week I am travelling but the week after next is a good time to take advantage of the promotion. I expect to save at least 30% off the regular fee. The package they offer does not cover everything that should be covered by a 90,000 Km. service so, they will do the additional work at the regular fee but the total will be inexpensive.

I also went to the tire dealer to get my tires exchanged with the snow tires they stored for me. For a small fee they store tires and it is worthwhile because, I do not have any place to store 4 tires.

A few days ago I took down the winter shoes to the lower racks in my shoe cabinet and stored the summer shoes on the upper racks. When a season is over, I take all the shoes down, clean everything, get things repaired if there is a need and put them away in good condition. This way I never have to deal with surprises. My go-to shoes for every night occasion, a suede pair with kitten heels needed fixing and cleaning so I got that done too.

I tried on all the winter pants I had from previous years. It looks like I will not be able to wear any of the pairs I wore during the last two years because they are too BIG:) I am grinning ear to ear as I type this. So, I moved on to some almost new pairs two sizes small. I have three pairs even smaller which I hope to wear in the spring.

The shelves in my wardrobe require attention so the next thing on my agenda are those. 

Tonight after midnight we are switching to winter time which means by 5:30 p.m. it will be dark from now on so, I think winter is here already...


Friday, October 25, 2013

Finally!

Tonight I set up my old laptop to rip my music CDs into mp3 files. My new laptop is an ultrabook so, it doesn't have a CD drive.

I am not a big music fan. I generally listen to the radio when I am driving. On long distance trips I listen to the same MP3 player over and over again. Back in the early 90s I was a member of a CD club in the US and bought some nice CDs. I also have a nice collection of 70s music which I love the most.

I will load the entire library onto my new ultrabook and re-load my MP3 player whenever I want to. Since I am going to give my old laptop to mom, she will have all the music as well. I am also planning to back-up my music on an external hard drive.

I also emptied my purse and laptop case to get rid of all the junk that creep in while I am looking at another direction and changed my purse. I am not the kind of woman who would change purses according to outfits. When I start using one, I use it for weeks even months until it is so heavy that I have a back-ache just lugging it around. Then I dump it on my bed, get rid of the junk re-organize what is necessary and change it. That is what happened tonight.

I am determined to cure my insomnia so, I stayed up all night. I will stay up during the day too. I am sure I will be able to go to bed by 10 p.m. tonight and go back to my regular sleep routine.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

My grandmother (maternal) always made her own yogurt. She used to buy fresh milk twice a week from a farmer neighbour and made her own yogurt which was thick and a bit on the sour side just as I like it.

Lately I had been reading a lot of articles and comments as to how store bought yogurt contains preservatives and how unhealthy those might be. I do not know if they are all true but, making yogurt for my grandma was such a simple job.  I have inherited her liquid thermometer and I remembered at what temperature she used to put in the starter to her yogurt. That inspired me to trying my hand in making yogurt yesterday. Initially I was going to buy organic milk and organic yogurt for a starter but using expensive ingredients in an experiment did not make sense to my frugal side. I bought Daily Milk which is a bit expensive than the other type that comes in cartons and would last for weeks. I used regular store bought yogurt for a starter and it turned out to be a major success!

My yogurt tastes sweeter than my grandma's but it is still very good. So, next time I am going to use organic ingredients. After all, I need organic yogurt just once and after that, I will use my own yogurt to start the next batch. Since organic milk is on the expensive side, my homemade yogurt will not be frugal but it will be healthy. Being a yogurt monster, I deserve the best:)

Here is my recipe:

1 Lt. fresh milk (34 fl.ounces)
2-3 tablespoons yogurt

Mix the yogurt well and set it aside on a counter top in a small bowl. (It has to be at room temp when you need to use it)
Boil the milk while stirring it frequently so that the bottom of the pot doesn't get burnt. After the milk boils, keep stirring and boiling it down  for another 5-10 minutes.

Take a thick and big towel lay it down some place that will not be disturbed at least 6 hours. Place a glass container in the middle of the towel. Pour in the hot milk in the glass container which has a lid but do not put the lid on just yet. Wait until the milk cools down to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Take a few table spoons of the cooled milk into the yogurt bowl and mix it well and slowly add the yogurt milk mixture to the milk and mix well. Place a sieve on top the glass container instead of the lid and gather and wrap the towel around the glass container to keep it warm. My towel was not big so I used three kitchen towels to wrap my yogurt. I left it for 7 hours. After that, I unwrapped the towels and just put the lid on the glass container and put the yogurt in the fridge. It should stay in the fridge undisturbed for at least 4 hours to set well. I allowed mine overnight. That's what grandma used to do. So, you can make your own yogurt today to be eaten for tomorrow for just a little work.

I think I will be making most of my yogurt myself.

If it doesn't set, you can always boil it for 15 minutes and whey it out to get some sort of soft cheese so, it is really not wasted.

The heat of the milk may vary if you are living at sea level or at a high mountain level a bit. You may check that out on the Internet. I live pretty much at sea level.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 Financial Goals Review

I just sat down to evaluate my financial goals for 2013.

I set goals in the following categories:

Cash Savings
Retirement Account
Stocks
Gold
US Dollars

I have already reached the overall total TL amount at today's exchange rate, gold prices and BIST Index. However, I am cash short because the home renovation project I completed made a bigger dent in my budget that I had originally planned.

Here is the situation:

Cash Savings: -26%
Retirement Account: +4%
Stocks: +33%
Gold: -4%
USD: +8%

I think I will sell some stocks to give myself a bit of a breathing room. I just don't know when I should do this though.

Overall I think I am at a better place than I will be by the year's end. I do not know how much income I will be able to bring in November and December so, I may end up not meeting my overall goal. I will probably miss it by 2-3% which will still be OK.

I will start setting goals for 2014.

Monday, October 21, 2013

So far no bad news...

I went to the much dreaded doctors appointment and came back with a prescription. The ultrasound did not say there was anything bad. I am scheduled for a pap next month. I am also expected to use the medication for three months and then see if I can go back to my regular schedule without using the medicine. If all is well, all is well if not the doctor will look into it further... That sounded weird...

I still feel very tired and I am glad I will not be travelling this week.

Tonight I am going to have a nice big salad. There is lettuce, arugula, avocado, chopped turkey meat and walnuts. The dressing will be extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate sauce. The turkey leg is in the pressure cooker as of this moment. When it is done, I will let it cool off and then shred some of it on my salad. Rest will be used for two more days. I will use the stock in a soup which is a good idea for the chilly weather. I have plenty of onions and half a bottle of red wine so a French Onion soup sounds good.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Can't figure out a heading for this post...

Tomorrow I go see the OB-GYN which is not something I am looking forward to. I guess I will not learn immediately what the heck is wrong with me just tomorrow but I suspect perimenopause if not anything worse.

I never realized how drained I was during all the bathroom and painting adventures. I needed solitude badly.

I am going back to being who I was gradually but I suspect if the initial signs of menopause is making me so moody, I am in for the ride of my life for many months to come.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Having a terrible time... (Serious venting here so beware)

This was supposed to be a long and nice week spent with family by the Mediterranean. It started last Friday and turned into a nightmare yesterday evening. I am now at my apartment in Istanbul. I slipped out at 7 a.m. and drove 720 Km. to Istanbul stopping only to get gas.

My mom is probably not going to talk to me for how long I do not know. My sister sounded understanding but I am not sure she understands me. My uncle... Well I do not care what he thinks of me. My brother in law may also be hurt for me ruining their vacation but, my vacation is ruined too.

Yesterday night I threw a fit, a big one but I just could not stop myself. I just could not stop myself from being angry with... everything. My head feels like it will explode.

This might be due to my last period which started 15 days late and which hasn't stopped in 21 days. This is a religious holiday week so I just made an online appointment with a doctor for Monday.

I feel totally out of whack. I feel hurt and I want my family to understand that I do not like to be treated the way I am being treated by them but my mom is stubborn and I am sure she thinks she has no fault over what happened but she does. I love her. I go out of my way to do things to please her. I do not expect a Thank You because she is my mother and she deserves all of my attention. However, she wants everything her way. She scolds me like a child. If I am around she keeps ordering me around to make tea, to serve tea, to get this or that even though my sister and BIL are younger than I am. She treats them like guests and me like help I guess.

All through Saturday and Sunday, I cleaned my uncle's filthy apartment. He does not live there all the time. He is very very very sloppy. He came and went to the place several times and did not clean a thing. There were foot marks all over the place and the toilets had never seen a brush before. I scrubbed the floors, cleaned all over the kitchen and brushed the toilets to get all the filth out. I even washed the windows because mom wanted so. I am not mentioning all the laundry he had left. We washed them and hung them to dry. Thankfully mom did not attempt to iron the shirts or make me do that. She is 70 and I do not want her to get tired over these things. I made sure she did not overexert herself. So, my wonderful vacation with the family started with non-stop cleaning for two days. As I was trying to figure out what to get for dinner on Monday night, mom got very impatient at the store. I had her call my sis and her brother to see if they would be able to make it for dinner and both said no, so I was trying to decide on something to fix for the two us and she just basically yelled at me to hurry up. I am 47 for Pete's sake! People turned to look at us. I was so embarrassed that I grabbed something and rushed ourselves out.

I hung my face and as I was fixing dinner for us, my uncle pops in, hungry and then my sister calls to say they are famished and they are coming for dinner. I told her to get what I got from the store so that we could all have the same dinner together. She decided to go to McDonalds instead. Meanwhile I had been bleeding like crazy for 3 weeks and I was tired physically and mentally.

Yesterday, my sister, her husband and I went to the beach even though I would not be able to swim. I just wanted to get away from home a little bit because mom was still angry with me for being upset because she doesn't think she yelled at me at the store.

While we were out, I walked in the sand so my feet got dirty. When we got home, mom opened the door and she was still cross with me so I asked my uncle if he could get me some paper towels so that I would not bring sand home. He was standing 5 steps away from me washing something in the kitchen and he starts saying things like oh! how I know how to use people, how I start ordering things the minute I set foot at the apartment and what not and in return I said a few words to him and walked over to the bathroom. (I just could not believe my ears. I scrubbed the toilets in his apartment. Is that how he thanks me?) I went to the bedroom and sat on the bed to calm myself but I could feel the anger rising from my toes to my brain and I lost it. I just lost it and could not stop myself. I yelled at my mom, my sis and my uncle and blamed them for mistreating me, disrespecting me and hurting my feelings. For a second, I even considered jumping off the 6th floor. I still shudder at the thought. I wanted to leave immediately but mom and sis wouldn't let me go on a long road trip at night. So, early this morning I left while everyone was sleeping and I turned off my mobile phone. I cried while I drove and felt awful most of the trip.

I was supposed to stay until Monday, and bring mom with me to Istanbul. I just could not wait until Monday. I just cannot handle anyone around me. I want solitude and I know mom will make me suffer for this. She is probably not able to comprehend how dare I left her like that. Now she has to go back to Ankara with sis and BIL. She will make me pay for this rubbing my nose into it... I want to go to sleep and sleep for a hundred years and wake up to a brave new world...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2014 and 2015 Financial Goals

I have decided to make both 2014 and 2015, years for saving. There are a few mini vacations that I plan to take with mom and one big one to the US but other than those, there are no splurges on the horizon for me. The 30th High School re-union is sort of expensive but only for two nights at a luxury resort. That's not bad.

I would like to accumulate as much money as I can in my savings account for the next two years. Why?

1. I need to re-do the entrance, the kitchen, the flooring and I need to change the doors in my apartment. This is going to be a very big expense. It is definitely a need and not a want. I am hoping to live in this apartment for as long as I can. The kitchen needed an update even when I bought the apartment but, I held back.

2. I need to start a car fund. My 2010 Nissan Note is at 86,000 Km. I am hoping to drive it for as long as it is safe but I do not know how long that will be. Therefore, it is wise to start putting away money for that. I am hoping to keep my current car until 2018 if not more.

3. I need a vacation fund.

I am currently putting the maximum amount in my retirement account that is matched by 25% by the Government. So, my savings toward 2023 are consistently growing.

I am targeting to keep enough money in my Emergency Fund to cover my expenses for a full year. I am halfway there. I already have a fixed amount of passive income. I calculate the difference between my budget and my passive income and come up with the EF number. I usually add another 10% to be on the safe side. Why is my budget exceeding my passive income? Because I have the rental property debt and some other payments.

By May 2014, I will be done with the rental property debt and the installment type payments. That is quite a chunk of money. I am hoping to set up the above 3 funds with that amount.

By June 2023, at the age of 56, I would like to rely solely on my passive income at that time and be financially independent. I am going to put every effort into making this possible.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What is wrong with me?

I do not use any cosmetic products at all. I do not wear make-up either. I look younger than my age and I think it's because I am fat. The fat kind of hides away the wrinkles.

My 30th High School re-union is coming up in May and I suddenly started thinking I should be looking good at that event. No, there is no old flame that I need to impress or anything like that. Rather, I think there are really gorgeous looking women among my old school mates. Some of them did not look so well when they were younger. I hate Facebook for making me feel self-conscious.

Lately I had been looking at my face with a criticizing eye and today I bought myself a night cream and an eye cream. I had done that before many times and ended up throwing all the creams out when I could not remember when I had bought them. I cannot fall into that womanly routine, where you cleanse your face and put on your creams at night. I do not know if I will make a habit of that now.

I did not buy a day cream because I do not like the feel of cream on my face. It makes me sweat.

I also took close-up pictures of my face and eye area to experiment if the creams really work. I do not really think they do but one can hope, right?

My period has been delayed twice lately and I am thinking I may be entering menopause. I should see a doctor and I think I just realized that I am getting old and there is no turning back. I have never felt this strange before but, I feel like I have missed some things in life and there is no way of getting or doing them now. That is weird because I had always thought I had lived a nice and fulfilling life. Strange, very strange...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The results of Murphy's visit

I had a towel warmer radiator installed in the bathroom. For about a week everything seemed OK. But after that, I saw that the radiator was dripping. I initially thought it would be something easy to fix but alas! Mr. Murphy made sure that at least 6 tiles have to be taken out, some more dust to be produced, the piping needs to be changed again. This also means the fresh coat of paint outside the bathroom will be damaged because of the piping. Yikes!

The contractor was upset and he is prepared to fix the problem but I am traveling this week. Next week he will open up the problem area, fix it and leave it open. Since I shall be traveling due to a national holiday, I must find a friend who will be staying in Istanbul to check my apartment at least twice while I am away. Arrrgggh!

When I return, hopefully, he will close up and I must have the entire wall re-painted. The paint will probably not match so, may be I should use a dark shade just on that wall as if it was done for aesthetic reasons...

I have also discovered that the paint contractor did a sloppy job in some areas and called him to give him my feedback. He will come to fix the problems but, I do not expect much since some of the work cannot be redone. It will be like doing everything all over again and frankly, I do not have the patience for that.

When I am ready to re-do the kitchen, replace the doors and the flooring, my entire belongings will be put in storage. I promise...