Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Years Eve in Istanbul

Hey all - I just wanted to post this in case anyone was reading about Istanbul and things to do. One of these is a great deal, the other is a super-posh club that'll still be pretty fun to go to for New Years in Istanbul. Celebrating the change from 2010 to 2011 can be done in style and cheap, if you're like my expat friends. If you're in Istanbul for New Years, come join me at Romeo & Juliet, or if you want a super-swanky night check out 360 or one of the other mega-clubs, because it'll be a great time.

Here's the information for the parties:
A Dog Day Afternoon Presents....2010: Good to the Last Drop

Celebrating New Years Eve in Istanbul, Turkey

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 Cheap European Vacation Spots

I read an article on Forbes.com recently about the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2010/10/29/countries-where-dollar-goes-furthest-exchange-rates-personal-finance-cheap-travel.html?feed=rss_finance"&gt;Eight Countries Where the Dollar Goes Furthest</a&gt;, which got me thinking of the cheapest places to visit in Europe. Of course, it's much cheaper to visit Eastern Europe than Europe proper - and that's reflected heavily in the list. Although Portugal didn't make the list of absolutely dirt cheap European vacation spots, it is on Forbes's list as the only affordable Western European country to visit.

Without further ado, the 5 cheapest vacation spots in Europe are:

1. Turkey
While Istanbul remains expensive compared to the rest of the country, even Istanbul is cheap compared to most American, Canadian and European cities. It's quite possible to live and survive on 30 lira a day, including going out for drinks.

2. Hungary
Budapest remains a favorite of frugal travelers worldwide. With an amazing historical distriction, a vibrant clubbing and bar scene, and cheap alcohol, it's a particularly good location for travelers who want to save money.

3. Montenegro
Although I have not been here, every person I have ever met who has is deeply in love with Montenegro. It is supposed to have some of the most stunning landscape possible - and, despite being on the Euro, is supposed to be extremely affordable.

4. Slovenia
Another cheap European spot, Slovenia is nested between Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria and as such is an excellent country to go to if you want to visit multiple countries. Like Montenegro, Ljubljana has beautiful natural landscaping including mountains, caves and lakes, along with a lively nightlife. Of course, it's not as cheap as it used to be before adopting the Euro, but it's still an affordable European vacation destination.

5. Poland
If you don't want to go to Southeastern or Eastern Europe, why not try Poland in Central Europe? Krakow has some amazing tourist destinations. Some, like Auschwitz, focus on the horrors of the holocaust. Warsaw, too, has a large population and a number of tourist destinations. Not surprisingly, hard liquor is quite cheap here.

Picture by Jon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Lemon-Pepper Peas and Onions Recipe

Surprisingly, I was unable to find this recipe on the internet, so wanted to note it down. It's a cheap, tasty side dish that has an interesting and different flavor from normal pea dishes.

1 medium bag frozen peas
1 jar baby onions (these may be in the vegetable aisle, or may be near the alcohol)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons salted butter

Take frozen peas and fry using only a few Tablespoons of butter. When peas are nearly ready (only a few minutes of cooking), add onions, lemon juice, pepper, and butter, and stir. Cook until peas are ready.

As with most Thanksgiving foods, these taste delicious when mixed in with mashed potatoes!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not completely finance related, but great nonetheless

I was reading one of the legal blogs in my Google Reader (Above the Law), and came across an article about why BigLaw (top firms) should get rid of their summer associate programs. For those of you not in the know, these are positions after the second year of law school that almost always translate into a job after the third year of law school. Mentioned in the article is the following sentence:
"Summering law students just had to avoid doing something epically stupid like jumping naked into the Hudson River."
The article then links to another article which details a bit more of the story.
I interned in New York in 2006 at a corporation, and let me tell you, this girl was the talk of the town. I'm not going to say every student working in the city heard about her, but I'd wager a large proportion of them did. What a great thing to be known for!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nigerian fraudsters

Things that annoy me:
Nigerian fraudsters.

I lost my Blackberry while in the US taking the bar (oh dear blog, how long it has been since I have written in you!). I bought one at the store because I felt terrible for losing it, but upon return my boss informed me she would just buy a new one, so I'm up one Blackberry (and down a few hundred bucks). I put it for sale on Craigslist to try to recoup the cost, and have gotten some wonderful responses.

Things I have learned:
Nigerians say "make research", much like Turks.
"my son is in west africa making a research his birthday is coming up
soon and i want it to be shipped down to him
his name is Ekpunobi Fortune and his address is no 13 Egbonnaji
street achara layout,Enugu.Enugu state,Nigeria.and also please send me
your paypal account so i can make the payment as soon as possible"

An astounding number of members of the global commuity have sons/nephews working off the "West Coast" of Africa.

It is easy to fool Nigerian fraudsters into giving you their address and getting their hopes really high up.

Me: Yes Inquirer I do Still have This Item for Sale. Which Item was It that You wanted. Also I prefer Pay by Paypal if That works For you? (note the not so subtle sarcasm at their referencing me "seller", the phone as an "item" and, when I reply "which item", responding: "i mean the item you want to sell." That came from Janet Brown, who helpfully provided her address:
Name: janet brown
Address: Alpha photos building, apata
City: Ibadan
State: Oyo
Zip code: 23402
Country: Nigeria
Phone#: +2347037893102
so i will be waiting to hear from u


Sadly, when I informed Janet Brown that I also wanted a notarized copy of her passport before shipping, she stopped responding.)

And finally, there was the offer I received today, which was just spiteful (email chain below). As a note, it's generally not a good bargaining tactic to offer 100 euro and then agree to 1000 euro - totally not the sign of a scam at all!


it is ok by me i just want to get it for my cousine and the adress is

Felix Odiatu
D'Rovans Hotel Ring Road,

--- On Wed, 3/10/10, I wrote:

From: Me
Subject: Re: Brand New Blackberry Curve 8900 - TRL700 (Taksim)
To: "Caco Collinz"
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 3:04 PM
- Hide quoted text -

What your cousine adress is wonders I is? Also 1000 Euro I want phone for you to have, ok? is? D o y o u t h i n k t h a t i s o k i w o n d e r ? ? ? : o )
What Pya a pal for? I want pay you me not your pay friend a.

On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 4:59 PM, Caco Collinz wrote:

From: Me
Subject: Re: Brand New Blackberry Curve 8900 - TRL700 (Taksim)
To: "Caco Collinz"
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 2:53 PM

Thanks for the mail i said that i what i ant to offer you including shipping and handling abroad to my cousine scholling in Nigeria .
so get back to me with your paypal.email.so i can remmit the fund

are you joking? do you have any idea what the exchange rate is or did you just puke out a number you thought would be close? i said "FIRM PRICE" and you offered 100 euro?? good luck in life bro.

On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 4:50 PM, Caco Collinz wrote:

ok i will give you 100 euro because i di deal with euro and i want you to send me your paypal email so i can proceed with the payment or if you don't have one you can register at www.paypal.com , immidiatelly you sign up just send me you email for paymenr
Looking to read fro you soon

--- On Wed, 3/10/10, I wrote:

From: Me
Subject: Re: Brand New Blackberry Curve 8900 - TRL700 (Taksim)
To: "Caco Collinz"
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 2:36 PM

It is for sale and the price is final.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two for One Recipe

I made cauliflower curry tonight, complete with real Thai chilis. Cauliflower is abundant in Turkey this time of year, and is relatively cheap elsewhere I've been, so I wanted to share two recipes that are cheap, delicious, and cut down on wasted vegetable scraps: Cauliflower Curry and Cauliflower Kinpira.

Cauliflower Curry
2 onions
3 tablespoons oil
5 cloves garlic
2-6 hot peppers, depending on desired kick
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons coriander
1 Cauliflower head
1/2 lemon
several cups water
yogurt and/or cooked rice, if desired

Heat oil on medium heat in saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients. Chop onions and dice garlic and add to oil. Dice peppers and add to onion mixture along with spices. Heat until onions begin to brown. While cooking, cut up cauliflower into large chunks that are about 1.5 to 2 inches long and wide. Set aside and save all leaves and any stem. Add the cut cauliflower florets to onions along with 2 cups of water. Mix and cover. Cook 20-30 minutes, stirring several times, until cauliflower is tender, adding more water as necessary. Add lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, mix, and serve, salting as desired and garnishing with cilantro. Can be served with yogurt, rice, or bread.

Cauliflower Kinpira
I got this idea from Just Bento as a way to use all parts of the cauliflower.

Cauliflower stem and leaves
Sesame oil (the original recipe recommends dark, but I use light since I already have it)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, white or black

Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Remove the very base of the cauliflower stem if it is hard, discolored, or very tough. Slice the remainder of the base along with the leaves into very thin matchsticks. While cooking, add red pepper. Cook until soft - I've found it generally takes about 10 minutes, but depending on how thinly you cut the cauliflower it may take less time. Add soy sauce and sesame seeds, mix, and remove from heat.

I will say that the first time I had kinpira, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but by the second and third times I tried it I loved the taste. It has a unique flavor, so don't give up right away if you aren't sure about it!

Curry picture by sassyradish, Kimpira by MwaO

Friday News Roundup

This is the first installment of my weekly news roundup. Let me know if there are any articles you think are important for expats or personal finance!

    Suze Orman's Save Yourself Promotion with TD Ameritrade - from Barganeering - an offer which has apparently been going on for a while. The offer is that if you set up direct withdrawals from your account and put in at least $100 every month, at the end of 12 months you can get an extra $100 from them. It says you must be a U.S. resident, but I'm willing to bet it will work for citizens living abroad and banking back home.

    * Wisebread's reviews of paid survey websites. As you already know, I think survey websites are an okay way to earn some extra money, especially while abroad - I'll be sure to check out some of the ones I haven't already registered for.

    * The US Dollar is getting weaker. Bad for the US, good for us abroad! I know I almost had a heart attack a few weeks ago when I saw the exchange rates, where the US dollar was hitting record highs.

    * Slate's commentaries on ways to network, including one man's desperate attempts to get a job. More reasons why jobs abroad could not only solve a present unemployment problem but also help you stand out at jobs later in life (I've added emphasis):

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an unemployed person in this recession will remain jobless for about five months. Competition for the few available jobs is rough; every position is met with hundreds or thousands of applications. Stearns is just an extreme example of what's become a mantra for employment consultants these days: When you're looking for a job, do whatever you can to make yourself stand out.