Guest Post – How to Accidentally Only Spend $5 in 5 Days in Istanbul

23 Mar

This post is written by Emily Behar, my fellow Portu-gal, during her recent trip to Istanbul. Enjoy!

I’ve been in Istanbul for three days and so far have spent only $3 – now I’m on a mission to make it 5 days on $5! (Suck it Seth Kugel!)

I arrived in Istanbul on Saturday and spent the day browsing around Beyoglu – the trendy, modern part of town. Istiklal Caddesi is the main drag, filled with international standards: starbuck, sephora, Armani, and a surprising amount of Tommy Hilfiger knockoff stores. (Niffy – your more fashion-forward self might be able to explain the Tommy Hilfiger phenomena. I don’t get it). I grabbed a sandwich for $1 (the English on the menu translated to ‘scrambled lamb,’ but whatever it was, it was delicious). Other than that, I just browsed, bought nothing.

I ventured out to dinner Saturday night, and after painfully trying to navigate Istanbul’s side streets, I found Asmali Cavit – a very cute restaurant that had been recommended to me by a friend (and mentioned in this nytimes article). The restaurant, however, was full. Defeated, I left when, wait! The owner of the restaurant chased me down and said that 3 customers had invited me to join their table. I crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t kidnap or kill me, and took them up on their offer. I spent the night eating and drinking with an American expat, her Turkish husband, and their 60 year old scruffy Parisian friend Pierre. They ordered me everything on the menu, demanding that I have an authentic Turkish dining experience. By the end of the night, I was filled with food and sufficiently drunk off raki and they wouldn’t let me pay!

On to Sunday: spent the day in the old city visiting the mosques and bazaars. I didn’t buy anything out of principle against the vendors’ incessant squawking.

After a day of walking, I ate a delicious fish sandwich by the boats on the Golden Horn – fishermen catch the fish and grill it on the boat then throw it on a hoagie roll with some lettuce and onions. Bones, scales, skin and all. I think Amoroso’s has a secret pact with the Turkish government to share their bread supply – the rolls are identical. I got sick Sunday night, which was a bummer, but at least I didn’t spend any $ on dinner! At this point, it’s two days and I’ve spent $2.

Monday: The day’s adventure was out of walking distance and I needed a metro card (which was going to throw off my up-until-this-point practically free trip). But while chatting with the cook at breakfast about her crepes (did I mention that breakfast at my B&B is free, huge and delicious), she told me that she wasn’t using her metro card for the day and promptly gave it to me. Score! I had free access to all the trams, buses and funiculars. Bought another street sandwich ($1) for lunch, this time it was a chicken kabab. I walked to Ortakoy to catch an afternoon boat ride up and down the Bosporus, but made a tactical error and forgot to check what time the boats leave. I was stuck waiting for 2 hours. The only thing around was a book vendor so I bought an Agatha Christie book (slim pickings, don’t judge), which set me back another $0.75.

That night I went to dinner with Murat (the owner of my b&b aka my best friend). He took me to a restaurant that seemed very ordinary at first – but he walked us through the kitchen, kissing and hugging all the chefs, and two floors up a secret staircase to a weird mess hall filled with Turks and cigarettes and raki and live music and strangely no roof. He ordered me everything from spicy shrimp, to anchovies, eggplant dip, unidentifiable fish, fried cheese, meat-filled pastries, some weird seaweed concoction, and of course an always full glass of raki. At the end of the meal, Murat wouldn’t let me pay.

The streak continues!

Happy Birthday Sissy!

15 Mar

Happy birthday to the best big sister in the world!!

I am so lucky to have such an amazing, smart, beautiful, funny, talented, impressive sister. I am grateful that you are there to guide me, let me dress you, and most importantly always have my back no matter what.

I will always look up to you, even when we are the same height.

Oscars Roundup: All the Gossip Minus Any Mention of Who Won

29 Feb

I look forward to the Oscars all year, and this year I would have rather had a colonic, I’m not kidding.

Mon dieu, this is what it's like at the Oscars?

Suffice to say this was the worst Oscars in history, from the clothes, the host, the films nominated and most certainly that weird Cirque du Soleil performance, this show stunk. So let’s not even bother talking about it any more, it gives me heartburn. Let’s move onto the Vanity Fair party because that’s where all the action was.

So that's where they have been hiding the glamour!

You have to fling the bird past those blocks, then blow it up

So then I said, let's call my alter ego Dick

One of these is not like the others (funny)

One of these is not like the others (talented)

"I didn't think that bitch Meryl Streep deserved it either!"

"Man I told you Tower Heist was a bad idea but you wouldn't listen"

Still waiting to solve that man or Muppet conundrum...

"Who's ready for me to host next year?"

Oil Slick

24 Feb

When I was in my youthful teens I encountered more than my fair share of breakouts. I scrubbed like a madwoman, smeared cream all over my face and blasted myself with acids to try and get perfect skin. Now that I am in a more mature phase of life, my skin has luckily evened out and I have taken away some lessons from my earlier regimen. All those scrubs, peels and creams tend to dry out the skin and make matters even worse. I have now completely converted to using oils.


The discovery of oils has led me to lube up almost every part of my skin and hair regime and I have never been happier. These products help to lock in moisture to the face and body, which makes it less likely that your skin will have to overproduce oil and thus cause a blemish or two.  And I know what you are thinking, she must be a shiny mess, but I am not I promise. Below are a few highlights from my oily new lifestyle.


Olio Lusso face oil

This Olio Lusso face oil changed my life. I got a sample at Barneys after reading every single person on Into the Gloss espouse it’s merits. This might be the greatest beauty PR blitz known to man but I like to think that its just that good. Its a mixture of 13 essential oils and smells amazing. A little goes a long way – my sample lasted me 2 months after which I just had to break down and buy it. Simply dab 2-3 drops on your hands, then massage into a clean dry face. Hydration central!


Organic coconut oil

A yogi friend of mine is a devotee of the all natural beauty blog No more Dirty Looks and turned me onto using coconut oil.  She told me to use it on the ends of my hair, to remove makeup with it, and as a general all purpose body moisturizer. You can even fry up some Malaysian delicacies if you have time, it is truly all purpose! I tend to use it as a body moisturizer and makeup remover, just mix a little in your hands and the hard waxy substance instantly melts into a light and refreshing oil. The smell is not overpowering and it really does lock in moisture for a long time. I bought a jar at Whole Foods and have never looked back.

Fresh body scrub

Ahhh Fresh products. The smell of this Brown Sugar Body Scrub is intoxicating and it leaves a wonderfully moisturizing oily residue. I guess the phrase oily residue doesn’t sound appealing, but trust me this is a delight. I tend to use this in the winter when my skin is extra dry. One word of caution – this makes the shower extra slippery, so watch out!


Moroccan oil

At this point Moroccan Oil is somewhat of a cliched recommendation (or I guess as much as an overpriced hair oil can be considered cliche…whatever) but I really do love it. Again, a little goes a very long way and the smell is very earthy without being patchouli-esque. I have a little bottle of this stuff and probably restock every 6 months. I like using this all over my hair when it is air drying, and on the ends every few days between washes to keep my ‘do looking smooth. It is a great investment and the perfect end to an oil filled beauty routine.

Quick and Easy Kale Chips for Andrea

31 Jan

My friend Andrea is an Ivy League smartie but is a total dumbass in the kitchen!

In an effort to save her from a lifetime of yogurt and frozen dinners, I am trying to teach her how to cook extremely simple and easy dishes so that she doesn’t starve.

Kale chips, yum!

Ok Andrea (and others) for the kale chips you need:

  • Kale
  • Olive oil
  • Good sea salt such as Maldon
  • Red pepper flakes
  • A baking sheet (that flat pan you make cookies on)
  • An oven heated to 400 degrees

Now that you have your supplies, rip up the kale into palm sized pieces. The kale will shrink in the oven a bit so don’t make them too small.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Don’t overcrowd or layer the kale pieces or they won’t cook as evenly or get as crisp.

Rip up your kale and lay it flat on a baking sheet.

Next drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes.

Toss the kale with your hands so that all pieces are coated evenly and then spread back out.

Put baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Kale should be crispy and may be brown or even black in some parts. That’s ok!

Lookin crispy

Now you have an easy, delicious and nutritious snack that is also quasi-addictive. Next week I am going to teach Andrea how to boil water and then move onto advanced scrambled egg making.

Golden Globes Roundup: When Jane Fonda Is Best Dressed, It’s All Downhill From There

19 Jan

So the Golden Globes happened and everyone looked like crap. I am not going to mince words (when do I ever?), but from a fashion standpoint this years awards season is off to a worse start than George Clooney’s claim that he is heterosexual. Seriously though if Stacy Keibler (is that her name?) is your best chance of a beard in a pinch then this country really is going down the tubes.

Let’s start with the good…

Janeeeeeeeeeeeee Foundaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (Oprah voice)

Jane Fonda in Jack Gussio

Jane Fonda is 74 and knocked it out of the park. I can’t even find a photo of her from the actual red carpet because this old broad couldn’t be bothered to stand next to the dumpy modern day starlets and have her picture taken. But when she took the stage to present I knew she was the night’s winner. She looked hot, age appropriate and a little daring. A triumvirate that no other woman in Hollywood even came close to that night.

Runners Up

Nicole Richie in Julien MacDonald, Salma Hayek in Gucci, Nicole Kidman in Versace and Viola Davis in Pucci.

The fact that Nicole Richie made my list should be an indication of the slim pickins available at the Golden Globes. That being said my favorites all skewed slightly robotic and I am not just talking about Nicole Kidman’s face. I am a sucker for sequins, bodycon and a stud here and there, especially at the Golden Globes which are supposed to be the “fun” Oscars. Viola Davis did not fit in with this trend but I just thought she looked smashing…great color, INSANE body and her hair and accessories really made the look complete.

Great Night for Plus-Sized Gals

Very few women are the size of a toothpick and that can make dressing for an awards show extremely difficult, especially since most designers are clamoring for the most skeletal woman on the red carpet. That being said I thought that the more voluptuous women were some of the best dressed.

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji, Melissa McCarthy in Badgley Mischka and Amber Riley in Badgley Mischka

And now for the bad…

2012 Mila Kunis: 2002 Gwyneth Paltrow Wants Her Dress Back

Last year Mila Kunis was on every best dressed list and this year she is wearing an ABS version of Gwyneth‘s biggest mistake. Fashion cycle, you are a cruel mistress.

Auditioning for Little House on the Prairie Remake

Amanda Peet in Marc Jacobs and Jessica Biel in Elie Saab

Sigh…Amanda Peet you are really cute and I wish you were my celebrity doppelganger…so why are you wearing this tutu gone rogue?

Jessica Biel…someone needs to have an intervention with you, seriously. You supposedly just got engaged to Justin Timberlake and this is what you are wearing?!?! This shmata?!?! Whoever told you that you looked good before you walked out the door should 100% be fired because your outfit was a nightmare.

I really hope people bring it for the Oscars this year or else I might have to stop caring about this pointless pageantry altogether. In case you are wondering where I developed my fashion rage, below are a few choice comments from my mom during our 3+ hour long gchat during the Globes.

Ann Spector’s Greatest Hits

Mommy: Madonna aka Miss Kabbala was wearing a cross the size of the Chrysler Bldg

Niffy: Are you still crushing on viggo mortensen?
Mommy: Yes, good memory

Mommy: Why is he groping her?  Why didn’t he shave wth a new razor?

Mommy: Is his wife also a midget?

Mommy: Helen Scorcese could have gotten her hair done…

Resolutions for the Year of the Dragon

4 Jan

According to a random website I googled about Chinese Zodiac signs, 2011 was the year of the rabbit.

2011 was cute, furry and a little gamey. This year it is all about the dragon; a fire-breathing, ass kicking, but hopefully not scaley, dragon.

Last year my resolutions were ok – blog, travel, feel proud of myself, blah blah blah. While I achieved many of these goals, I unfortunately failed to even attempt my most basic resolution which was to learn how to poach an egg. Its ok though, poached eggs were so the year of the rabbit, for the year of the dragon my resolutions are:

  • Workout twice a week (ha, yea right…except I already went to Pilates and just signed up for a non-refundable boot camp so breathe my fire!!!)
  • Do not buy any clothing for the first 3 months of the year
  • Eat more oysters, sushi, and vegetarian dishes
  • Travel, travel, travel. Fingers crossed for a big trip to Greece and Turkey, or to Spain.
  • Update this blog once a week at least. Last year I had a few gaps but definitely an improvement from 2010 (the year of the tiger)

So if you see me in 2012, hopefully I will be wearing the same clothes as last year, looking fit, and slurping down an oyster on the Aegean sea.

Happy New Year!

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