Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sorry for the Hiatus...

It has been a challenge to write lately. I will be back in a few days hopefully.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Trip Part 2 - Sadness

After staying in Manhattan, I headed upstate to visit my friends; a very nice couple with whom I used to work for the same company.

My girlfriend's mom was very sick and at the hospital for a while. I knew this prior to my visit but, what none of us knew was that she was to pass away on the second day of my visit.

I did not know what to do. Initially, I thought staying with them through the funeral was what I needed to do. However, my girlfriend was so overwhelmed that, we had a heart-to-heart talk and she thought it would be best to change my plans to go to see my other friends down south rather than hanging around. She was having some issues with her daughter and she just had too much on her plate. So, I talked to my other girlfriend to tell them that I would be going to see them earlier than planned and she and her husband said they were thrilled to have me over earlier.

I headed south and stayed in Roanoke over night. It was a long drive and I was completely exhausted by the time I reached the hotel. Both my girlfriends checked on me to see that I arrived in Roanoke safe and sound.

The next day, it was a much shorter trip to South Carolina.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

My Trip Part I - New York City

I was hoping to post while on vacation but, it did not happen. I will write about my trip in a few posts.

I landed at JFK on the 22nd of August. We got delayed at Heathrow so, we landed around 6 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. After going through Customs and gathering my suitcase, I took the Air Train to Jamaica Station and figured out how to get to the hotel I had booked in NYC. A nice young guy kindly helped me to carry my suitcase up the subway stairs. I am forever thankful to him since I was very very tired.

By the time I reached the hotel, it was well past 8 p.m. I checked in and headed straight out to grab a bite.

The next day, I basically walked around the city at my own pace and used the Subway to get to Chinatown, Little Italy and the Village. It was great to be able to walk in the streets of New York after many years.

The day after, I decided to go to Staten Island. I had lived in Ny for over 3 years and have never been to Staten Island. So, it was a first. It was a nice day and I took in the sights of the new skyline of Manhattan. Had a nice lunch by the sea front.

I walked around the Central Park, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, went in and out of stores and walked and walked.

On Tuesday, I did a little bit more sightseeing and in the evening, I got the car I booked from an Avis very close to my hotel. I took the car and then collected my suitcase and bags from the hotel. I drove more than an hour towards north to visit my friends who live close to Poughkeepsie.

As a child I used to read Trixie Belden books and used to wonder what kind of a place Poughkeepsie was. In some of the books that city is mentioned quiet often. It was fantastic to see my friends after 7 years. Stay tuned for Part II.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

I am an alien.... I am a legal alien....

After a long flight delay in London, I made it into NYC after 9 p.m. yesterday. Right now I am at Ferrara in Little Italy. It has been over 20 years since I have been here last time.
 I LOVE NEW YORK!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ready!

Luggage? Check!
Money? Check!
Passport? Check!
Carry-On? Check!
Medicine? Check!
Online Check-in? Check!
Boarding Pass? Check!

Pheww!

I hope to continue posting while on vacation. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Goal for Tonight

My goal for tonight is to be done with packing and close my suitcase! Then I need to put some things back to where they belong.

I need to purchase a couple of medicines I take regularly. I thought, I had bought enough. Good thing that I decided to pack them yesterday night. If I had realized that I were running short on some medicine on Friday night, that would not be good.

Tomorrow night, I will be working on personal care and making some notes before hitting the sack. I will probably have to get up around 5 a.m. in the morning.

Yesterday, I had my period. I am glad because, it will be somewhat manageable on the day of my flight. Usually Day 2 is the worst and I hate being stuck on a plane for a long time with that. Believe me it happened more than once.

I need to purchase a couple more gifts tonight and then I am done.

I have decided to take my hard cover suitcase instead of the soft one which is a bit smaller. I still haven't decided on the duffel bag yet. I must take appropriate measurements of it. I think, it is oversized and a bit heavy even when empty. If I do not take the duffel bag, I may have to purchase another suitcase which I truly do not need. There used to be very inexpensive but gigantic suitcases in Chinatown NY. We could never use them more than three times at most since they fell apart quickly but, they were like 20-30 USD so, that was not a big issue.

It looks like I am very short on casual summer clothing. I have only one pair of cropped pants and just a couple of shirts. I think a visit to Dress Barn and Lane Bryant is in order.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Last 3 days!

I cannot believe, I have only 3 days left till my big vacation.

So far I have;

1. Started packing.
2. Found the locks, and belts for the luggage. Tags are not cooperating and are hiding somewhere.
3. Completed my list of the people who asked for things and for whom I will be buying gifts and gift ideas for each.
4. Took measurements of my sis and BIL last weekend.
5. Washed everything that I would need to take with me.

I still need to:

6. Die my hair.
7. Make a list of what I need to buy for myself.
8. Find small gifts for three young ladies between the ages of 18-26. I think I will get authentic silver necklaces for each of them.
9. Complete packing.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Vacation Prep on Full Speed

I am trying to get as much work done as I can before, I leave for my vacation. I still have 10 days to go but, that's not a whole lot of time.

So far,

1. Made my packing list.
2. Got all the medicines I will take with me
3. Found the American plugs for my chargers
4. Wrote an e-mail to my friends in the U.S. and to my sis regarding my itinerary so that, they will know my whereabouts since, I will be doing a lot of driving and staying at hotels.
5. Got most of the cash I might need. Still need to buy a little more next week.
6. Checked out some of the places I want to see online and made notes.
7. reserved the shuttle service from and to the airport.
8. Found the space bags

I need to;

1. Actually take out the luggage and start packing
2. Find the locks, tags and belts for the luggage.
3. Complete my list of the people who asked for things and for whom I will be buying gifts and gift ideas for each.
4. Take measurements of my sis and BIL this weekend since, they have lost a good deal of weight lately due to my sister's illness.
5. Die my hair next week.
6. Make a list of what I need to buy for myself.
7. Find small gifts for three young ladies between the ages of 18-26. I think I will get authentic silver necklaces for each of them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Excited with Anticipation

I have got only days to my big vacation. My fear of flight is showing his ugly head which I am trying to stomp on.

Butterflies in my stomach and tons to do before I leave... Crazy days ahead...

I need to drop my mom off at her home in Ankara this weekend. I will also spend a day at the Ankara office on Monday so, that basically leaves me less than 4 days to put together my luggage. Since I have the list made for that, I think, I should be just fine.

I must find where I have put the luggage tags and extra belts just in case the suitcase decides to burst. I also do know where my travel pillow is. I found all US plugs that I had accumulated over the years so, I have enough for each charger.

I need to book a shuttle to and from airport early next week via my credit card company. They have a good service provider and also their lounge at the airport is very good.

I have purchased enough US dollars for this trip and can withdraw money from any ATM if I need more cash.

Do I sound excited? Yes I bet! Just wishing that everything will be just fine and I have a great vacation. I am hoping the flights will be nice too.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Killer Headache and High Blood Pressure...

I had a nightmare so, I woke up with high blood pressure and a terrible headache attached to it today.

I was able to control the BP but the headache is persistent. Every time I went downstairs at the office, it felt like my brain was floating in my skull and bumping against it.

The day is almost over with very little stuff that I have accomplished. I finally caved in and swallowed a painkiller. We'll see if it will work.

The weather is also horrible with extreme humidity. I think we shall end up growing giant gills to get oxygen. I just want to go home and go to bed. Poor me...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Was a nice day...

Yesterday was a nice day. I had a meeting at a Customer at 4 p.m. and after the meeting I decided to head home instead of going back to the office.

I called my mom and took her out for an excellent dinner we both enjoyed. I also enjoyed a nice cold beer.

After dinner we strolled around a little bit at a mall and headed back home. It is too hot these days, so, I avoid going outside. After we came back home, we watched an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles as I did a load of laundry and went to bed early for a change especially because, I needed to get up early to finish up a contract.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Eccentric (read Weird) Bank Teller!

I shall be spending about 20 days in the US in less than three weeks so, I got to have some cash on hand. I do not plan to carry a wad of cash on myself, therefore, I am bringing a cash card that I will be able to use with a small fee for withdrawals. My bank charges USD 1.5 each time I use an ATM abroad regardless of the amount I take out. The down side is that they do not allow me to withdraw the USD sitting in my USD account but rather take out TL from my regular checking account, convert it to USD and sell me that money. This way the fee seems small but they make money over the exchange rate. Whatever... We are not talking about huge amounts here.

So, yesterday I went to a bank close to my office and told the teller that I wanted to purchase some US Dollars and since I prefer to have small bills such as 20s and 10s rather than 100s, I asked them nicely if I can have the total amount in 50s or smaller bills.

The teller took out a huıge bundle of various types of bills and told me he could only give me 50s while I clearly saw that, there were lots of 10s and 20s hanging from the bundle. I said: "Well, can you at least give some 20s and 10s, may be about 150 USD worth or so?" He said "No. You see, if I give them to you I will not have much left." Huh? Well, HELLOOOO? What is a bank's job? Why do they provide you all those bills in the first place? To sell it to people who need it. Right? Apparently that is not what this guy thought.

As I figured it would be meaningless to argue, I grabbed the 50s and went back to work.

I purchase the currency solely from banks because, I certainly do not want to come accross counterfeit money. The safest thing is to go to banks but, they do not like to carry small bills.... or sell them in my situation. Sigh....

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sam was right! .....The End of Toilet Paper Saga

Remember this post from last year? I congratulate Sam from It's me Sam for guessing it right. All those toilet paper rolls lasted me exactly 18 months. This weekend I realized that, I was opening the last 24-roll pack.

Now, I am on the lookout for good deals. However, I do not think, I will buy as many as I did last time:) Wonder why?

I do have a big stash of paper towels though. Don't know when that happened. Those should last me a year. if not more. Sigh...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Vacation Check-List!

I am very excited about my upcoming vacation in the US. It is going to be a 20-day trip so, I must make sure that I will take what I will need; no more no less. I am planning to shop in the U.S. therefore, I should be able to have ample space in my two pieces of luggage. I will have opportunities to do laundry so, I really do not need too many things.

I am planing to take a giant duffel bag along with a large suitcase. I am assuming the suitcase will fit in the duffel bag so, on the way to the U.S., I will not have to pay for extra luggage.  I do not have a carry-on. I may end up buying one from the U.S.

Here is my Check-List:

To wear on the plane:
Shirt
Sweat pants
Athletic Shoes


Purse/Handbag
Passport
Money
Credit Cards (2)
Cash Card (1)
Presciption Medicine to last for 20 days plus extras just in case
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Hair Brush
Deodorant
Wet Tissue Pack
Travel size Hair Spray
Tablet PC and charger
Two phones and charger
Outlet connector for US
A Shawl
Small notebook and a pen

Luggage
Gifts
Sunglasses and a hat
Bath sponge
Q-Tips
Moisturizer
Couple of emery boards
Tweezers
2 pairs of pants
2-3 Shirts
Lightweight cardigan
Flip-flops
Bathing Suits (2)
Peshtemals (Hamam Towels to use as towels or at the beach)
Beach Dress
Underwear and socks (old ones will be tossed)
Nightgown
A roll of small baggies and two plastic containers to pack liquid purchases.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

This year the summer did not hurry to get here and up until the mid of last week, the weather was pleasant. Temperatures were lower than normal but, starting by the end of last week, the humidity and the temperatures both rose and the wind died down quiet a bit.

Mom and I were out shopping on Saturday for my upcoming US trip. I was looking for gifts for my friends and decided on Turkish towels, pistachios and Pistachio Turkish Delight (some sort of soft candy). We went to a large department store run by one of the biggest textile companies in Turkey and lost ourselves among soft, fluffy towels. I liked one kind and mom liked another kind so, we ended up buying four of one kind and three of the other. We also bought traditional hand-woven hamam towels (peshtemals) for every one of my friends. Those hand-woven hamam towels are great as towels, pareos, shawls, lounge chair covers and even as extra sheets when you do not particularly like the bed sheets at a hotel. They are so versatile. I own probably a dozen. They get softer and softer as you use and wash them and last a very long time.

I will buy the pistachios and the candy later on. Saturday was a good day because, we were at an air-conditioned mall. On Sunday, we were supposed to go out for breakfast to Ortakoy and take a nice boad ride on the Bosphorus. However, it was so hot that we could not even dare to get out of the apartment. We stayed home and tried to relax. I do not have air-conditioning at home because my apartments is really nice and cool during the summer. During the hottest year, I might need an air-conditioner for a maximum of two weeks or so. I get by without one. I have a fan I use during the hottest days of summer.

I have less than a month to go on my big vacation and very excited with anticipation. I am hoping it will be a nice trip. Trying not to jinx it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Car Wash

So, how often one gets her/his car washed? This morning I dropped my car at the car wash right by where I work. I will take it back at noon.

It is always such a joy to get the car cleaned inside and out and enjoy the ride. However, that lasts about two days in this city where so much construction is going on. Very dusty!

Istanbul is a giant construction site. Everywhere you go, you see high-rise buildings popping up. It is almost impossible to keep the car nice and clean for very long. Plus, it rained almost every week this year since the summer decided to postpone her appearance this year.

I get my car washed every three weeks or so but, I always feel like at least the outside should be washed more frequently. It is not a lot of money. I can get my car hand washed inside and out for less than USD 10 including the tip.

The area where I live is going to be the Financial Center of the city and HQs of several banks along with the Central Bank of Turkey which will be moving from Ankara to Istanbul. Why? Just because the President wants it so. There is no logic in this whole matter but, if I get started about the President, I may get myself in serious trouble. So, let's leave that subject alone.

Istanbul is already overcrowded and congested. There is absolutely no point in moving more people into it. Although, I love this city, I may have to move out some time in the future. The good thing is my small two-bedroom apartment is constantly appreciating in value and whenever I decide to move out (if I ever do), it will buy me a much bigger and nicer place somewhere else.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why I never give up budgeting

I had a budget even as a young kid. I would plan how I would spend or save my allowances. I always had a "fun" category in my budget. I still do.

When I read other blogs I see everyone has a different approach to budgets. Everyone also has a different way of dealing with gift expenses. For instance Gill from That British Woman posted "How far do you think ahead?" today which inspired me to write this post.

I am not good at depositing a certain amount in a jar or box. The part of the reason is, I grew up in a high inflation environment. Although it is not the case now, I still like to have my money earn some interest instead of sitting in a jar. The inflation is still high in this country when compared to developed nations. I can earn about 10.5-11.75 % on TL deposits and about 2.30-2.50 % on my USD accounts per year.

Here is how my budget works:

I use an Excel Sheet on which the top few rows are for my income. I have a regular salary, a retirement income and a rental income there.

Several rows are dedicated to monthly expenses and bills such as utilities, taxes, insurances, cleaning lady and etc. I have a general category for spending that includes all my grocery spending including personal hygiene items and clothing needs. This entry is not exactly the same for each month. I know when I usually shop for clothing so, I bump up the numbers a little bit for those months. I have never been ablo track every penny and make a zero-based budget. My budget guides me not to over-spend and save each month. My savings are also on my budget so I know exactly what I am saving and how.

I have an Emergency Fund, a TL savings account, a USD savings account, and a Retirement Fund in addition to a small stock portfolio in an investment account. Each month I allocate some money to all these accounts right when I get paid so, I do not overspend. If anything is left over at the end of the month, I put that sum into one of my savings accounts. For instance if the stock exchange is doing poorly, I buy stocks, if USD is comparatively lower, I buy US dollars, etc.

I also have a row for gifts and a row for charity. I know when I will be buying birthday and New Year gifts so, I plan ahead. I also give planned sums to charities every month. This is so much easier to manage.

So far, this approach has worked for me. My budget extends to several years ahead. I know things may change but, I like to be able to plan and project big expenses of the mid-and long-term.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How I saved some serious bucks!

I had mentioned that I had bought a tablet PC to use at home and take with me to vacations. I am so glad I did! It cost me the equivalent of USD 374 and saved me about USD 270 if not more. How?

It has GPS so, even without a data plan, the built-in GPS is excellent. I have downloaded a couple of different navigation apps to use during my stay in the USA. This way, I will not have to rent a GPS from the rental company which would cost me USD 270 before taxes. Yay me!

Besides, the 10.1 screen is excellent for navigation. I will be making some serious mileage while I am in the US so, this is great.

I am slowly getting used to using it. There are so many features that I haven't yet tried. I no longer carry my laptop home during the week. It is so light and the S-pen that comes with it, is excellent.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Need to purge...

Before my visit to the US, I need to purge my wardrobe. I am tall by my country standarts at 5'9" and I am also overweight so, it is a hassle to find good fitting clothes. Some stuff I have are past their life some time ago but, I held on to them.

Now that I am going some place where I can shop, I need to get my act together to get rid of what needs to go. 3 TLs to 1 US Dollar will not make it easy to shop this year but, I will not splurge. I will get what I need and what I will wear. I am out of even simple daily wear. No athletic shoes are required because they are practically coming out of my ears.

What I have to purge is not limited to clothes really. I am sure there are many unused items, books, old receipts and paperwork and etc. I am just soooo lazy to go through the house. If I were moving, I would have been obliged but now that I have postponed the idea, there is no motivator.

I just got myself a new tablet PC which I had been eyeing for a long time. The price finally dropped and I grabbed one just in time because there are talks about raising taxes on electronics. This is my belated birthday gift to myself. I think, it will be a great help during my vacation and I do not need to drag my heavy work laptop home everyday. I have a very old laptop at home but, it is past its economical life and is getting extremely hot. It is also very slllllloooooowwww...



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blessings

Earlier this year, things were not looking good. We had a health scare due to an autoimmune disease my sister was diagnosed with. My previous part-time gig as a consultant was not going well. I thought money would be tight and a nice vacation was out of question.

Today, we know that my sister's condition is under control. Her lab tests have improved and her doctor is not concerned. Thank God!

I now have a new job which is paying real well and I was able to plan a nice vacation in the US.

A health scare, a job loss, income reduction, major repair bill, anything unexpected can happen anytime... This is why I like to be financially secure. So, first my sister's health improvement, then my new job are true blessings and I am so thankful for them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A surprise for my beloved Sis!

I am going to start working full time in July and I will not be able to go on a vacation with mom this year. She is not coming with me to the US this time.

So, I was thinking of going to Izmir to visit my sis and BIL with her this week. I am not working on Thursdays and Fridays and I thought a long weekend would be nice. I wasn't going to share my plan with my BIL either but, I needed his help to find out if they had other plans for the weekend. So, we partnered up in crime and found an echological new hotel not too far from Izmir and I made reservations for all of us. Mom and I are going a day earlier. They will be joining us on Friday night. My sis thinks that her husband reserved the place to surprise her and she has no clue that we will be there. Heh heh he! I love surprises! Planning and executing them even more...

Friday, June 12, 2015

Came to get mom back!

I had taken mom to her home in Ankara a couple of weeks ago so that she could vote in the Turkish General Elections. Now it is time to get her back.

Yesterday I took my own car which I had left in Ankara to the car service. There is a bit of work to be done before taking it to TUV for inspection on Saturday. My car is 5 years old and there is no point in selling it since my uncle goes to Ankara on a weekly basis and needs a car. Besides, when mom is at her home, he runs her errands too.

Today, I have a work related meeting. There will be errands for mom in between all these tasks. I am planning to drive back on Sunday. Good thing that I had a relaxing weekend last week. This one sure looks busy.

Starting in July, I will be working full time. Mom will stay with me till mid-August. I will take her back and then leave for the US for three weeks. I am kind of sad that we haven't been able to take a vacation together this year. I asked her if she wanted to go to Rome and she declined this spring. She loves the US but when she is with me I cannot stay with my friends and get to see them as much as I want. Also, she slows me down. So, although I had asked her if she wanted to go to the US, she declined. I must think of a nice vacation with her next spring. I know she wants to go to Greece or Italy.

I am planning a small getaway to İzmir to see my sis and BIL next weekend with mom. Details on that, later.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Rental Apartments Fiasco

Yesterday, I met two brokers and saw 7 apartments in the area  where I work. I am no construction expert or an engineer but, most of the places we saw had problems. There were cracks on the walls and when I asked about them the brokers shrugged it of by saying that the buildings settled since the area was earlier a very arrid place (read swamp). That's not good.

I know mom wants to access shops and everything easily but, the apartments in that area are built rather poorly, despite the fact that they are luxury apartments with very expensive rents and maintenance fees. They are built on former river beds apparently.

Istanbul is very close to a fault line which is expected to produce a large scale earthquake anytime so, the strength of the construction is very important.

It looks like there are only a handful condos out there which are sturdy enough and their prices are extremely high. May be I will have to get used to the traffic...

Also, most of the apartments had open kitchen plans which I truly dislike. I cook a lot and use sauteed onions and garlic. I also bake fish quiet regularly. Open kitchen is a bad idea for Turkish Cuisine.

The master bedrooms were mostly OK but the second/third bedrooms were extremely small.

So, I will keep on looking around and learning about condominiums. I shall see if I can find something that is both sturdy and comfortable. Bah!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Personal Financial Decisions and Income

I have worked for 25 years with full time jobs and fixed incomes. Then I switched to a consulting career and had to deal with a variable income scheme. Even then, some portion of my income was fixed so, it was not too bad. The fixed part was and still is enough to cover my fixed expenses.

I am back to what will soon become a full-time job. I will still have my passive income so, this truly is a great opportunity to save like crazy. I am determined not to cave in to an inflated life style with the exception of a rental apartment.

My current residence is too far from work so, I am planning to move closer to work. My apartment will not generate enough rent to cover my new apartment's rent in this new area. There will be a significant difference. It doesn't have to be that way but, as my sister and her husband had to relocate due to work, I like to have mom with me. We are practically living together 9 months out of a year. She needs to be able to go out and walk around a little bit and do some shopping in order not to be bored. Therefore, I am obliged to rent a place within a very specific area and that area is expensive. I consider this a small sacrifice though.

This year I am taking a 3 week vacation in the US. I have planned and budgeted for this for a long time so, no it is not a mindless splurge. I will be staying at some friends for some of the time so, my hotel costs will not be a budget buster. I have a set budget and will stick to it.

Although, our lifestyles inflate with the increase of our incomes, this doesn't have to be. I promise myself that, I will not be splurging and that I will be making wiser choices to tuck away as much as I can. I am not suddenly going to become tight-fisted either. I think moderation is the key in every aspect of life.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Got something serious on my mind...

Yesterday I had a very relaxing and fun day with my old colleagues at Buyukada, the largest of the Prince Islands. Good food, lots of laughs and a good deal of walking around... Gill, I am sorry I did not take any photos. My bad!

I have another set of old colleagues whom I see very frequently but lately, I started having second thoughts about the dynamics of this group. Something has changed and I am not sure I like it. This is really difficult to explain but, it seems like there may be something more than just friendship in some people's minds about some of the others in the group. There are 3 guys and 4 ladies including yours truly in this group.

One of our girlfriends is getting a divorce and the other is not too far from the same situation with her husband. So, obviously these ladies are in a vulnerable state. They are very close friends. They seem to be having some romantic thoughts about their future sort of like a twentysomething would envision. Being a realist, I think they are opening themselves up for further disappointment.

What bugs me is not just this. There are two guys in this group who seem to be interested in either of these ladies. May be both of the guys like the same person but, I am not sure. I am just feeling uncomfortable when around them. This started a few months ago when we even did not know about the divorce situation. There is nothing out in the open but, I sensed subtle signs.

Last time we were together was a disaster. The girlfiriend who is getting a divorce got herself very drunk, totally out of character and, although I was ready to go home, they insisted on going to a bar after dinner. Two of our friends apologized and went home. I should have done the same thing but I was really worried that the remaining people had too much to drink and could put themselves at risk. Besides I had my car to take them all home as I  always do. So, leaving them behind with no car at night seemed wrong. Being the only sober person, I felt I had to hang with them. It was a huge mistake on my part. That night, I noticed more of what I had sensed earlier.

One of the guys insisted on going to a particular place and made us walk for a good 15 minutes. When we reached his suggested place, at the entrance, I told them that I was ready to call it a night and that I decided to go home. The place did not look right to me and the three bodyguards at the entrance were just too much. When I anounced that I was going home, the rest of the people decided not to go in as well. So, our friend who suggested the place got pissed and started an argument with me. Unfortunately, I was tired and fed up so, I ended up arguing with him instead of keeping cool.

Ever since that night, I was feeling that may be I needed a social break. However after yesterday, I realized that I do not need a social break but, rather a break from the group I have belonged to for such a long time.

I do not want to get together with them as a group anymore and I have no intention of sharing what I feel with any of the others.

Any suggestions?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Random Post

Today is my day off so, I slept in until about 10:30 a.m. Then I pulled my sheets off and washed them. They are now hung between two open windows. The cleaning lady comes tomorrow so, I need to put some stuff in order. I need to go through my wardrobe but, too lazy to do that.

The dish washer was full so I started that. I am now making a grocery list while drinking coffee. When I am done, I will go shopping.

Tomorrow, I will be meeting two old colleagues and we shall be going to the Prince Islands in the afternoon. They are really nice guys and I haven't seen them in ages. Hope, it will be a nice day. The weather ischilly today but, I am hoping tomorrow will be nicer.

Today is a nice, relaxed day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

No Spend Week!

I hereby oficially declare this week a no spend week! 

My spending has been spiraling out of control lately so, I decided to hit the brakes.

My car is provided by the company and all car-related expenses are paid. Lunch is also provided via my employer through a special debit card that can be used in various places around where we work. We have a kitchen at work where there is a sandwich maker. They provide breakfast staples so that, one can prepare a nice breakfast for herself.

My fridge and freezer are well-stocked for dinners.

I have also decided to be by myself during this week. Mom is back at her home until mid-June. So, instead of playing the social butterfly, I am staying home the entire week. I need some alone-time. Who knows; may be I can end up doing something useful like getting rid of some junk to make it easier for me during the move.

Someone at work mentioned that he has a friend who wants to rent out his apartment around where we work. I am hoping to go see the apartment this week. If I can rent directly from the owner, that would be really great. This way we can both eliminate broker costs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When is the best time to move?

I need to move to where my new job is. The traffic in the morning is bearable but, in the evenings I cannot come home before 8:30-9:00 p.m. no matter what I do.

I have made up my mind to move but I am still contemplating about the time to do this. The schools will be closed around mid-June and most people who intend to move will probably do so after that before vacation. However, the Ramadan starts in June and although I do not observe it, a lot of people will do. Therefore, it will be tough on moving people to work without food and water during the day. It will be very hot as well.

Many people will go to their summer vacation spots during the Ramadan so, I am hoping that the traffic will be better. Besides at dinner time, many people are off the traffic to eat the first meal of the day. Therefore, I can take advantage of that time zone to drive back home.

My vacation is between August 22-September 10. So, may be I should move before the vacation but after the Ramadan. This window is about one month. It should be sufficient for me to find a place and move. I will rent out my own apartment but, there is no rush in that.

It would be best if I could rent a place starting in August and move before my vacation. This will also let me put away some money because a move may be expensive. Thank God, I have a small apartment and not a lot of belongings.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A visit to the Cardiologist

Today I took my mom and my sister's father-in-law to the cardiologist as they get checked every six months. I also made an appointment for myself with their cardiologist to see how I was doing. She is a very careful and good doctor.

I got an examination by the doctor, got an EKG and an Echocardiogram along with blood tests. It turned out that my heart is in tip-top shape. The doctor told me that despite being a high blood pressure patient for the last 17 years, and despite my weight, there is no damage to my heart. I think this is a gift and I should try losing some more weight and exercising to keep this gift in good shape.

Mom and my sister's FIL are also well and under control so, all in all this was a good day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yes Mom!

I do not know if anybody is familiar with the old British TV series "Yes Minister!" which later became "Yes Prime Minister!"Sometimes, my life feels like that.

My mom is an interesting lady. She has a big heart, she is funny, she loves her family to the moon and back, she loves watching volleyball games and she is very very very tidy. This wonderful mom has one small fault (as for me). She wants everything her way, all the time and fast. She is very demanding when it comes to certain things like general housework or errands outside. When she has time to think things through, she usually comes around and agrees with me. (Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and hug and kiss her every day and tell her I love her all the time and I mean it but I am also getting old).

A few days ago I asked her why we were rushing to go to Ankara on Thursday. I told her that I was tired because of all the driving I do and it would be best if we were to go to Ankara on Friday. After all, I will stay there for a week, take her to doctors appointments, do her shopping and everything else that she needs. She looked at me very seriously and told me: "You never understand me, do you?" I said "Ok mom sorry if I missed something. We will go on Thursday as you wish".

Last night as I was coming home around 10 p.m., I noticed that someone broke my parked car's left rear-wiev mirror. I am now driving a company car and I had decided to take my own vehicle to Ankara so that my uncle can drive mom around when she needs it and whenever he is around. So, my own car is the vehicle I need to drive to Ankara.

I went inside and told mom that the mirror needs to be fixed on Thursday before we hit the road. Meanwhile my car is stuffed with things to be donated to a charity in Ankara and mom wants them dropped off before we go to her home. Now, getting the mirror fixed may take some time and the road is around 5 hours. The charity place may be closed by the time we reach Ankara. I also asked her not to wake me up too early in the morning because I need my sleep if I have to drive for 5 hours and the repair shops are never open before 9 a.m. anyway.

Apparently, she got upset because what she wants cannot be complied with but she also came to understand that Friday was a better option to hit the road. So, this morning she said "Why the rush? Go get the car fixed tomorrow and we can go to Ankara on Friday on a timely manner and drop off all that stuff".

I said "OK Mom!"




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Property Taxes and Retirement Funds

In my country property taxes are not as high as they are in the US. Although I do not understand why we have to pay taxes on our residences; since it is the law, I pay them. In my opinion, one residence should be exempt from taxes. Actually retired people who own just one home are exempt from taxes but, property is a popular investment item.

Normally I pay the property taxes in two installments as allowed but, this time I just caved in and paid taxes in full for my residence, my rental property and mom's residence. Thank God, the property taxes for the other apartment I bought from my uncle early January, starts next year.

You may be wondering how much I paid for three apartments.... I paid just about USD 450.- for all.

My residence has the highest taxes, about half of the above number goes to my small two bedroom apartment since, Istanbul is more expensive than Ankara and my neighborhood is considered nice. Mom's home is a larger apartment which is also in a good neighborhood but, Ankara is cheaper.

I also decided to pay extra towards my retirement fund since it will be matched by 25% by the Government. This way, I made the maximum contribution that will be matched by the Government. Early June, there will be elections in Turkey and I am afraid Government will stop making this contribution or at least lower it to a smaller percentage.

Up until 2003, there was only Social Security in this country and now there is a supplemental system similar to 401Ks and/or Roth IRAs. I think ours is a hybrid of both. It is called a Personal Retirement System. I was skeptical at first but decided to join it in 2004.

Since the funds and the companies who were offering this were new, I was lost for quiet a while and did not earn much on what I contributed. The first 3-4 years were lost years. After I started reading about the retirement funds in the USA, I understood the logic and strategy and started making meaningful contributions and selecting better funds. It will hopefully be a nice chunk of money in 2023. You can either cash all of it or get paid over a period of time until the funds are depleted. With today's rules, it seems to be a wiser choice to cash it but, who knows how it will be regulated in 2023?

So, today I paid my taxes and made a good contribution to my retirement fund. I do not have to think about these things until January 2016. Happy!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Refrigerator Issues

I bought my refrigerator back in April 2004 when I also bought my current residence. Up until last week, I never had any issues with it. Last week we started getting an alarm and the lights on the panel started blinking. Sometimes it would go back to normal by itself, sometimes I needed to turn it off for a few hours.

On Friday, the fridge started to sound the alarm and decided not to go back to normal. May 1st is an off day so I did not expect any technicians to be on call but, surprisingly they were. It cost me about USD 140.- to replace the electronic card that controls the fridge. Ouch! But then again, it is not so bad in 11 years is it?


Saturday, May 2, 2015

I hate it when people...

I hate it when people want to operate on their own timing and totally disregard your schedule when you need to do something together.

I will turn over the laptop I was using from my previous consultancy job so, I spoke to my friend last week and told her that the computer was ready and that I would be happy to drop it off at her place. She suggested to do it over the weekend and told me she would call me.

Today mom and I went to a Farmer's Market, did some other shopping and came back pretty tired so, around 4 p.m. I dozed off and slept until 7 p.m. or so. When I got up I took my cell phone tp look up something and realized that my friend had sent me a message asking if we would meet today. The day for me was over by that time. I am sorry but I am not dragging myself out in terrible traffic because she cannot plan her day and let me know in advance. I will drop the laptop off at her place tomorrow night and be done with it.

This is not the only friend who does this. There is another who would call me up to say: Hey T'Pol, I am going to have a manicure appointment in an hour and then I will have about an hour to have coffe with you before I do such and such.." Usually her plans would require me around where she lives which can take an hour to drive to when there is traffic. I am sorry, I do not operate that way. Yet, they never learn...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Coffee: A job perk!

Despite being a Turk, I drink Turkish Coffee occasionally. I prefer brewed coffee with milk and lately I had been spending way too much money at the popular coffee chains like Starbucks, Cafe Caribou and Cafe Nero.

Then I started working and I think one of the best perks of my new job is free fresh brewed coffee ready all the time! Love it! I have a cup in the morning and another in the afternoon. That's plenty for me.

I think, I am getting used to my new job fairly fast. I hope to work here for a very long time.

Driving to work is a hassle but; I am determined to move in July.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Big, big, big vacation plans!

I haven't been to the US for the last five years. I have been looking forward to a visit for a loooong time. It is an expensive vacation so, I was saving diligently for this goal and now that I have enough to cover this vacation, I communicated with my American friends as to when they will be available and....drumroll please!.... bought my tickets!

I intend to spend a lot of time with my friends this time. I had mom with me last time and my sister and her husband before that so, I could not get to spend as much time as I wished with my friends.

I have met them through work back in early 1990 and during the three years I spent in NY, we became real close friends. Despite the physical distance between us, we kept in touch and I visited them every two-three years. It is more difficult for them to come visit me due to some health issues.

I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed so that I can have a nice vacation. I will be in the NY area and then I will drive down to SC.

I had been dreaming of a long road trip in the US. This will not be it but, hopefully for my 50th birthday, I will give myself the gift of a long road trip from Niagara Falls all the way down to Key West. That will be the next vacation that I will save up for.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Owning more than one needs and sharing...

There is a war going on in the neighboring countries so, thousands of people from Syria and Iraq are fleeing to Turkey. A friend of mine got involved with fleeing Iraqi Turkmens and he started a campaign through Facebook.
Family after family leave their homes, come to various cities and try to live here. They need everything. I try donating food items through an organization but, I also decided to share the stuff I own but, do not truly need.

So, mom and I sorted through my belongings and came up with the following to donate:

Two 100% Wool blankets (I have a centrally heated home and I never need these)
Two twin size sheets and matching pillow cases
One comforter
A curtain
Some old hand towels and some new hand towels I just bought at a very good price (40 towels in total)
Three pillows
Some fabrics for their sewing atelier

I can get very inexpensive fabrics so, I will buy some more to add to the sewing atelier stash. I am also planning to buy toys when I go to Ankara for the kids. I will buy some soap as well. My sister gave me a shoe and closet organizer with fabric covers. They are already in my trunk.

I will have to look in the kitchen and decide what I can give away. I probably have more glasses and dishes than I need. I also decided to give away all the cutlery I currently use. I have a whole set I use only for "company". This is stupid. I never entertain anyone at home. Besides, I think I should use my best stuff for myself. Why wait for company? I do not have kids so, after I die most of my stuff will be given away so what's the point in using old things and keeping nicer stuff in drawers and cupboards?

Now that I will get paid a good salary, I can donate more food on a regular basis.

I also donated some books last weekend to a local library. I will donate some more. As I do this, I will get rid of stuff that no longer work. A printer, old electronics, cables that have no use anymore. Spring was late this year and so was my spring cleaning mood I guess...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

If it comes at the right price...

A friend of mine asked me what kind of a company car I was getting. When I told him the make and model, he made a face to indicate that he did not like it. I told him that the price was right. That should have set him straight.

They gave me a compact car by American standards. Here it is considered a good sized sedan. It is a 2015 brand new car, automatic w/air conditioning and electric windows. I will be reimbursed for gas. Repairs, insurance and all those things are covered by the company. What more do I want?

My own car is a lot humbler, old and has lots of kilometers on it. So, what is wrong with getting a brand new car at zero cost?

I specifically asked for a standard car even though, I was asked if I had a preference. I do not need to impress anyone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Carelessness or Accident? Result = Unexpected Expense

This morning I decided to swing by the gas station close to work and get some snacks. (I know, I know bad idea... I should have thought about it earlier and bring something from home or get something from the grocery store over the weekend).

Anyhow, as I was trying to cross the traffic at the roundabout, although I had noticed that there was a sharp pavement edge, I managed to hit it with my right tire... Hard...

I lost the hub cap and the tire hub got dented... Badly... All of a sudden I overreacted just like Matt described few days ago  over at Blogging Away Debt. I got really mad at myself and immediately called up the Nissan spare parts department at a not-so-local dealer and they gave me the pricing for both. Ugh!

Then I started to calm down. I am getting a company car this week so, this is not an immediate expense. If the tire is not badly damaged, I might get away with only buying the hubcap. Usually they can fix dented hubs but. I guess I will find that out on Friday when I go to get my tires switched.

Thankfully the set of tires I have on will be thrown out. They are snow tires and I used them for 4 years. Next winter they will be replaced. I was thinking of switching to regular tires last week and I am glad, I did not.

Soooo, I am much more relaxed at this point.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Job = New Home@New Continent?

Probably all of my readers know that a small part (Thrace) of Turkey is on the European Continent and the larger part (Anatolia) is on Asia.

My current home is located on the Anatolian side and I have to cross the Bosphorus each day to get to work. According to this article from The Washington Post, my city is The World's Most Congested City. It takes me more than an hour everyday just to drive 20 miles each way. My total commute time is not less than 3 hours. I have to cross either of the two suspension bridges connecting Asia to Europe or take the car ferry which goes to a farther part of town. The car ferry is not a real option.
So, I started thinking about renting a new apartment very close to work and becoming a landlady for the second time. I already have one tenant living in my Ankara apartment.

My apartment will not generate enough rent to cover the new apartment's rent because, that part of the city is an expensive neighbourhood. However, I think this is still a good idea given that I will be saving tons of time and will be able to keep my sanity. My commute will be down to 15 minutes or so. That is very significant.

I jotted down a quick budget for a move and decided that the best time would be in July. I will be able to save an important sum to cover the move and by July, I will probably know whether I like this job and will be working for quiet a while or not.

So, I think, I am 2-3 months away from a move and I need to purge, purge and purge.

I started by going through my library. Yesterday, I donated about 50 books to the local library and I am sure, I can donate another 50 if not more.

Exciting times...


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

First Day, New Job-3

My first day at my new job was very nice. Everybody is younger than I am so, it is easy for me to introduce myself as an advisor/consultant with significant experience.

I asked for the current contracts and started looking at them to familiarize myself with the business. Noticed some things that can be improved.

I also attended a weekly status meeting of the Sales Department and got quiet a bit of info about the customer and their sales counterparts.

So far so good...

Thanks to all the well-wishers out there!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Job Offer, New Job-2

I have been working part-time since September 2012. It was not easy to adjust to a fluctuating pay but, I was able to manage it due to my passive income. Recently, I was not feeling very comfortable about working with the team anymore. There has been some issues that affected my motivation. I started questioning my decision to work part-time as a consultant.

I like the flexibility, meeting new people and the work. However, it has certain difficulties such as fluctuating pay and the constant anxiety about new projects. I think I do not have a big enough nest egg to feel very secure. I own two apartments free and clear, have a small passive income and yet I am only 47.

A couple of my old colleagues asked if we could go into consulting business together and suggested we do some brainstorming. Despite my second thoughts about consulting, I decided to give it a shot with my friends. That is something I will continue on the side.

While all these were happening, someone I had done business in the past asked to re-connect. This is a very smart young man who is a sizeable business owner. We had done business in the past and started a habit of having a cup of coffee once or twice a year even our paths diverged. I was happy to re-connect and we chatted for quiet a while few weeks ago over a cup of coffee. He had been diagnosed with a bad illness and have been through some rough patches and he and his wife had a baby boy. So, he started having some anxiety issues about the future. You know my sister has been through some rough time too so, we established a new bond. He asked me my opinion on how to take his business to a new level. We decided to get together once again so that I could get to know his business a little better.

He invited me over to his office a couple of weeks ago and we had another long conversation. He asked me if I would like to work with him. That was quiet unexpected. I said I would consider it but I could start part-time since I still have some consultancy obligations.

When he sent me his offer. I was really surprised at his generosity. So, after I considered it for a couple of hours, I accepted to start working with him for three days a week starting this week. My only request was to take a week off in May for my and mom's yearly check-ups and 3 weeks off in August-September for an already planned vacation in the US.

This is still too good to be true so I am praying, it is not a dream and I will be happy here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wish me luck please! New Job-1

I unexpectedly got a job offer from someone I have known for a long time. We used to do business in the past and after we went our separate ways, every once in a while we communicated and had a cup of coffee.

It has been quite some time since I had seen him. We met a couple of times, then he offered me a job. It is an offer that I could not refuse. For the first few months I will work only three days a week just to see if we can work this out. I have been away from the IT industry for a long time so, I do not know how much value I can bring to his business.

So, please please wish me luck! I really would like this to work out and become a full-time job by September and would like to work for a long time.

I am excited!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

One Item off my TO DO LIST

I took care of the shoes. I even cleared out a whole shelf for mom. She can put 6 pairs in there.

Yay me!

May be I will attack the medicine drawer today. It is something I can do while watching TV and chatting with mom.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

TO DO LIST... The question is: Who's gonna do all this?

Here is my To Do List:

- Take down all the shoes, clean and put away winter boots and shoes, get rid of the ones no longer worn.  DONE!
- Take an inventory of unnecessary pots and pans and take them to a charity.
- Take an inventory of towels and linens, put away old ones to be taken to a charity.
- Go through the closets, put away winter stuff and bring out seasonal items. Clean up the closets.
- Go through the books and decide which will be given away, which will be kept.
- Go through work-related material and toss away what is not needed.
- Re-organize the medicine drawer
- Re-organize underwear and sock drawers
- Organize the china cabinet

OK... Just looking at this list, I feel exhausted. Need a nap... Now.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Project

I haven't been working for the last 6 weeks. We had some problems with our Project Manager and the Customer expressed their dissatisfaction with his contribution. We got real upset because my other team-mate and I had been doing real well and had started enjoying the project.

When the Project Manager got back to us regarding what has happened, I told him that we had lost a lot of reputation with the Customer and that it was none of my fault and I would have to withdraw from the project. After all, why go somewhere you are clearly not wanted? My team-mate did the same and actually more. He pretty much burnt the bridges with the Project Manager and I do not think they will be working ever again.

Long story short, there is a new project which will require me working 2-3 days a week. I hope this one will be successful. Although, I missed the income, I was glad I could spend some time with sis, mom and BIL. I also was able to rest because all that driving and long hours at work five days a week was draining me. I like to work part time.

Anyway, tomorrow is my first day on the new project so, wish me luck!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

DOCTOR vs DOCTOR

A friend of my sister suggested her to see another doctor. Her own (now previous) doctor was also suggested by one of her doctor friends and is known to be very good in his area of expertise. However, he was a bit distant and did not provide much needed details for her that made her anxious. He was cool about the problem but was not very reassuring. Plus, everything we read on the Internet was pretty bad and we almost believed she would not be able to reach 60 (she is 41 now).

Her husband told me that on several occasions he caught her crying thinking her days were numbered. This has broken my heart too.

So, when a friend of her with the same diagnosis suggested her the other doctor, she decided to give him a shot. The new doctor spent close to 40 minutes with her examining her from head to toe, looking at her lab and biopsy results and most importantly talking to her and her husband. He said that second stage meant nothing, that he still has a patient living quiet normally since 1992 when he was diagnosed at the 4th stage. He told her to become more active and maintain a healthy diet. She has been already losing weight due to eating healthy and he told her not to overdo it and feel deprived. He also told her that her high blood pressure is more of a problem than her condition. My sister laughed at that because all women on my mom's side has high blood pressure and we accept is as the family norm and a part of our lives.

My sister told me that her husband felt like getting up to hug and kiss the doctor because he was sooo upset and stressed about the possibility of losing her untimely. I think I can fly over and hug and kiss him too.

My sister will see him in two months with her lab results so that he can assess the dosage of the medicine and adjust it if necessary. She sounded wonderfully happy on the phone. She absolutely loved this new doctor. What a relief! He gave us hope and brightened our outlook of the future.

The personality of the doctor is so important for the patient to feel at ease. I am sure the other guy is excellent but he dis not speak much and was very brief in his dealings with her.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Frugal Retail Theraphy

I know the heading is an oxymoron but I needed a couple of things and I decided to take advantage of the winter sales. Besides I had been feeling down due to my sister's health lately.

I am pretty big as per the standards in my country so, it is a hassle to find good clothing items my size in Turkey. I am an American size 20-22 W. Marks and Spencer is little help and is outrageously expensive. They carry pants in my size but they do not carry any in Long. I am 5'9" so, Medium pants are always short.  Tops usually fit though.

So, I paid a visit to a Marks outlet and found two tops. One can be worn under a jacket and is dressy, the other is more for daily wear over jeans. I also bought a pair of dressy but comfy flat shoes from Nine West. They had been marked down. The bone behind my right foot makes it impossible to find comfortable shoes so this was a real blessing.

This is the shoe I got:
GRİ/SİYAH/LACİVERT SÜET NWFACETYME

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Don't Know What To Think or Feel...

My sister's biopsy confirmed the chronic life threatening disease to be at it's 2. stage. Her liver is currently fine but the biliary ducts are slightly damaged. Her doctor is away in the U.S. until Monday but, she contacted another doctor and was basically told that, she will be put on medication and most probably she will be OK for many years.

I would like her own doctor to come back on Monday and tell her what he thinks and what she should do.

I am 7 years her senior. It just breaks my heart to think that I may outlive her. I hope, I will not. I cannot deal with that. From now on, all my life I shall be praying that she will outlive me.

Hopefully her medication will work, hopefully the condition will remain stable and she will live a long life. It just kills me that there is no way of knowing this.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Please pray for my sister...

I know there aren't many readers who read my blog. Those who are out there, would you please pray for my sister? She is going to have a liver biopsy on Monday. I am hoping that her condition is diagnosed at an early stage and she will have a long, full life despite her sickness...

The past few weeks have been very hard for her and for us too. Please, please pray for her...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stop Blogging...

I haven't been posting lately. I do not know if I want to continue blogging or stop. I follow other blogs and quiet enjoy that.

I will have to think on this...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

An account of 2014

I have exceeded my financial goal for 2014 by 3,4%. It could have been 9% but, I had to help out a family member.

This year will be a tight one I think but, I will hope for the best.

I have decided to fund my retirement account in January for the full year. There is a 25% match by the Government which will not last forever so, while it is still available I will put in 80% of the maximum to get the match. I wish I could put in the full amount. May be later on.