Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Rolling Stones Sang It

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Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is
Now you always say
That you want to be free
But you'll come running back (said you would baby)
You'll come running back (I said so many times before)
You'll come running back to me
Rolling Stones

Where does the time go? It certainly is not on my side. I am so far behind.

One great thing about having a bed and breakfast is when guests return and return and return. It is like the song claims "
You'll come running back". Actually, it is only great when you categorically enjoy the guests. Such was the case most recently when Beth and Bob returned for, geez, I have lost count now as to how many times this makes.

Beth is a nursing professor and a lawyer. She was here on a Fulbright a few years back teaching home health nursing. Bob is a retired microbiologist who was a contributing scientist to identifying the coding of DNA chains. I could be wrong about the details. I only just passed microbiology barely, because the Kreb’s Cycle made no sense to me whatsoever. Add to that the gram stains you had to add to some cultures to see the little buggers. Good grief! I spend hours trying to remove some stains, not create them.

Yet again, I digress. Beth and Bob were in one room. In the other corner, in boxing parlance, or the other room as in B and B vernacular, were Dr. Laurel Benson, her sister Karen (a physician’s assistant) and their maternal aunt Marilyn (a retired English teacher). Laurel works with Ron’s, now our grandniece Andrea in Colorado. We met her at Andrea’s wedding in Florence last year. She came to our wedding in April. The three of them had just disembarked from a river cruise and extended their stay in Budapest for another two nights.

This is the general idea of what was going on at our place. Yes, all of the above peeps cared for themselves during the day; we totally sucked up all of their friendliness. Socialization here is feast or famine. During this time, it was a feast. 



Speaking of feasts, 9 of us went out for dinner. That is another story entirely.

The negative side to this is their leaving. Yes, we hate to see great guests leave, but we even hate it more when they do so at 4am. We have never let a guest leave without our being there to offer nourishment and to escort them out. Laurel and her clan were up at 4:30 am and the following day, B and B were ready to make their kitchen entrance by 5:30. This really throws off my sleep cycle, which is way out of whack at the best of times.

I am still having problems with the cut on my foot. One would think that with all of the medicos around me, I would partake of my own private clinic. However, being Italian, martyrdom is part of the gene pool. If it gets worse, I will see my regular doctor.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing Footsie

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This is difficult to explain at times, but I have problems with my metatarsal bones in my feet. Normally they should extend straight out, but I have to be the black sheep. My metatarsals bend downward protruding through the skin. This causes major calluses to form, which in turn causes major pain when walking.

For years, I have gone to podiatrists who have created what are known as appliances for my shoes, but this has never been a proven solution. Those made of leather would eventually fall apart while those made of acrylic were damn uncomfortable. Eventually, one foot doctor suggested surgery. Having inherited this from my mother, yet another nasty body attribute she shared in her gene pool, I knew surgery was not a sure fire option. Mom had the surgery, was out of work for 6 weeks and four years later, the problem returned. My doctor was honest enough to share the long term risks. 

Finally, one doctor offered the suggestion that Birkenstocks would lessen the pain as their insole was similar to the appliances I used. They were correct. When I had to play dress-up, I used the Birkenstock leather insoles for my shoes. Perfect!

When I started having back issues, my massage therapist noted that my feet were still getting callused, though they were not painful as before. What he noted was that it was throwing my gait off just enough to also throw my back out of alignment. His suggestion was getting a pedicure to have the calluses cut down. Each trip to the podiatrist in the past, the doctor did the same thing, he trimmed the calluses.

For the past 4 years, once a month, I visit the pedicurist. I have had utter faith in her, watching as she sprayed her tools with antiseptic spray and has others soaking in a tray. Last year, just as a cautionary measure, I mentioned I am diabetic. Knowing the risk of foot problems with diabetes, it was wise to err on the side of caution.

This last week, when I went in for my monthly, Suzie cut the side of my foot. It took all self-control not to leap out of the chair. It was not until I watched her sopping up blood that it dawned on me the depth of the cut. She apologized, showed me she had cut her own finger earlier that morning and moved on.

After finishing, she put two Band-Aids on the wound. When home again, I had Ron replace them with a larger pad covered with triple antibiotic cream. Nightmares ensued about gangrene or some other nasty disease. I am a slow healer, but I am comforted in knowing that I am just borderline diabetic.

Until this heals completely, I can only put my best foot forward while kind of hopping on the other.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Saint Coemgen Adds Another Point to Carbon Paper

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I love getting reader comments. They allow me to look at things from perspectives I would not otherwise think about. One final note from me before moving on to the comment sent it... When I taught elementary school, at Halloween time, I would use carbon paper to create a ghost on white paper. Then dunking the paper in water made the ink run, giving it an extra ghostly appearance. The 3rd and 4th graders loved it as a simple art project.

Saint Coemgen has left a new comment on the post "Adrianna Responds to Carbon Dating...":

While everyone can appreciate your preference for NCR paper, your own link to Wikipedia also highlights known issues with NCR paper. Such as, despite the modern reformulation of NCR paper, the chemicals used in NCR paper are still toxic to users of this paper specifically, and are an environmental issue in general. The fact that a "Public Health" worker rather uses carbon paper should give you pause and something to think about.

Also do consider that since carbon paper can be reused hundreds of times, it is long term cheaper to use than NCR paper. A fact that a "budget" nomad should appreciate.

You make find it antiquated and humorous, but many others still find it useful and practical. You can even still today easily purchased carbon paper from Amazon in the USA.


Ryan: Anyone interested in ordering carbon paper through Amazon.com here is the link.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Migrating Social Skills

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The beginning of this week has been the highlight of our social calendar. Our friend Kat, who is also from the US, has a kitchen the size of a truncated Hobbit Hole. This has enticed her to come to our place every Sunday for the last few months to cook dinner.

She plans her menu, shops for the ingredients, and then invites a couple of others over for dinner. One regular is our mutual friend Dan and the other is our new Dutch tenant Arnold. Ron makes a huge salad each week basically because everyone craves his homemade dressing. If it weren’t for the salad, they would be willing to drink it from glasses.

On Monday, we had a former Fulbrighter here for the night as a B & B guest. Years ago, he was a Fulbrighter in Pécs working with their hospice program. John has an MBA as well as a Masters in Nursing. He spent one night with us last week before heading to Pécs for a hospice conference. He was scheduled to return home on Tuesday.

Most of Monday, we continued our journey down memory lane with stories we had not had time for the day he arrived. John and his partner, Mike married in Washington, DC in September, 2014 on their 25th anniversary as a couple. We had the opportunity to meet Mike multiple times in the past. He is as wonderful as John is, making a delightful couple. We had to do the wedding pictures both ways. We looked at his; he in turn looked at ours. Of course, I had to credit our friend Jennifer Norcross with the idea for the Iowa capitol tour. It would not have occurred to me, but for which I am still grateful.

Monday evening, John took us out to dinner. We trolled the Gozsdu Udvar checking out the restaurants. There are numerous choices now, but we settled on Café Vian. István provided excellent service.

Tuesday was a bit different. For months now, a woman from Los Angeles had been trying to do a home exchange with us. When I firmly stated I was not interested in LA, she tried negotiating a triangular deal where we would go to London or Florence where she had banked time with other exchangers. As tempting as London sounded, the timing was not good. With each request, I had to decline.

Being tenacious, she continued to write me for Budapest material. I was happy to comply and send numerous e-mails like stuffed envelopes with tourism information. She finally found an exchange on Castle Hill on the Buda side. She suggested that when they arrive, she and her travel companion take Ron and me out for dinner as a thank you gesture. I have to say that many have offered this form of thanks after pummeling me for the nitty-gritty details of the city and then after they are set to arrive, I never hear from them again.

Tuesday night, Elyse and Leslie came over for a glass of wine and then the 4 of us went out for dinner. We tried the newish restaurant on our street, Mazel Tov. It opened in July of this year. Both ladies were so delightful, we will meet up with them again when they return from Eger.

With all of this social activity, we are having a difficult time returning to the stove. Adding insult to injury, Kat is going back to the US for 2 ½ weeks, so there may not be any Sunday dinners for a couple of weeks. Since we have done our share of cooking and hosting, we have tried to coerce Dan and Arnold to step-up. We will see.

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Adrianna Responds to Carbon Dating...

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Adriana Penco left a comment on my post "Carbon Dating or Dating Carbon":

"Well... I have to say that we in Argentina still use some carbon paper ... To keep a mandatory copy of hand-written invoices for instance. Or in any hand-written form that needs one or more copies. You can easily get them at any stationery shop. This is common in South America, so I'd imagine that in a lot of other places it is too."


What I thought was one of the best inventions leaving carbon paper for time capsules was the invention of NCR paper. Even here in Hungary all of our invoice books use NCR and not carbon paper. This is why I was so shocked the district office was not using it. NCR comes in multiple colors and can be printed to order just like any other paper product.

Definition of:NCR paper

"A multiple-part paper form that does not use carbon paper. The ink is adhered to the reverse side of the previous sheet. Originally developed by NCR Corporation and known as 'NCR brand, carbonless paper,' it has also been called 'no carbon required' paper." PCMag.com

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Carbon Dating or Dating Carbon

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This comment was sent by Jennifer Norcross, a former Fulbrighter, a high school English teacher, and a friend. I thought it was too funny not to share. On second thought, it really makes me feel old.

"I really had to laugh at the mention of carbon paper!!!!  I never worked with it myself, but remember it from my student days… mainly my elementary school days!!  When a colleague retired a few years ago and she cleaned out her files, she found many examples of it.  I remember she brought one exhibit down to my room to show me, and when I noted that in the year in which it was dated - 1973 - I was in kindergarten, she agreed that it was time to throw it out :)"

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Friday, October 10, 2014

A Taylor Without a Needle and Thread

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An endless time ago, in a cyberspace far, far away, I had enrolled us as participants for Workaway. If you have not heard of Workaway, you are amongst the majority. For as ingenious as the concept is, it is still one of those best kept secrets. It doesn’t intend this to be the case, but with enough information on the Internet to populate a galaxy if it were paper based, Workaway is just a tiny, insignificant note among the heaps.
To quote from their site “Workaway.info is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travellers (sic), language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities.”



If farming is your thing, then you will want to know about WWOOF World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Both organizations offer people of all ages to avail themselves of new experiences.

Shortly after signing up with Workaway, we received dozens of requests for volunteers. At the time, my main objective was to find someone with SEO experience to assist with my three professional websites. Those who were qualified wanted a stay weeks long. Those who could accommodate a short stay had no experience in SEO. After tweaking the needs multiple times, it seemed less than likely for us there was no match made in heaven or in virtual reality.

As a last ditch effort, I changed our needs to one less arduous. I was looking for someone who had talents and expertise in Photoshop or Lightroom. With over 7,000 photos on my computer, there was a need to cull from the herd those that were salable. Once that was done, there were spots or objects that needed ‘healing’.

After receiving a request from Taylor, I knew she was the person for the job. She claimed she had the skills I needed and only wanted a short term stay. Multiple e-mails later, she appeared at our door late in the evening, but was ready for work the following morning.

Taylor endeared herself to us immediately. She is intelligent, hardworking and courageously has embarked on an around-the-world trip for one year. After careful planning, she arranged her airline ticket with over 15 stops in various points in the world. To extend her budgeted money, she has wisely involved herself in Workaway to ease the pain of paid accommodations. As it turned out, Taylor edited over 1,500 photos in her short stay with us, but more importantly, she carved a place in our hearts. We included her in a couple of special dinners held at home with friends and she joined us for beers with a group of my former students.

When it was time for Taylor to move on, next stop Istanbul, we were close to tears. Still, Taylor shared the link for her blog, so we can continue to feel close to her and her adventures. She is a good writer and has some great photos. Let me share the link with you here.

No needles, no thread, but Taylor did an incredible amount of sowing herself into the fabric of our lives.

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Saturday, October 04, 2014

Public Health Inspection Lends a Hand

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A little over a week ago, Ron received a phone call from the district health office. Apparently, the public health department needed to inspect our apartment. This was new and different, but since the caller did not speak English well, it was really a crap shoot determining the fundamental reasoning. She eventually offered the briefest suggestion that it was due to our having a KFT, one of the many types of Hungarian corporations. He was assured that the person coming spoke better English and could explain in better detail.

He was able to hold off the appointment until yesterday. We had friends coming to visit for 5 days as well as B and B guests coming and going. Although we can control our own cleanliness habits, we cannot monitor and demand our standards from those using our rooms. This is especially true when people are paying for the opportunity.

Luckily, all friends, guests, and wanderers were gone by 11am this Friday when Krisztina was due. We had our cleaning person on Thursday afternoon to do a once over, but we were in generally good shape other than stripping and remaking the beds by 10:45am on Friday morning.

Normally, something like this would put me in panic mode tending toward throwing me over the edge, but for some strange reason, I was rather relaxed about it. Perhaps it was the fact that I know our place is kept clean all of the time. Having owned a restaurant many years ago, I knew the Public Health officials intimately and had undergone numerous inspections. My fierce competitor two blocks down the street made it his secondary business to ensure my business catered to being harassed. This did give me some insight into what inspectors look for, but my observational skills were honed working in child protective services.

At 11am on the dot, the bell rang. We let in a young woman who introduced herself as Krisztina. Her English was good. She looked in the small bedroom, then the large one while asking how we accommodated up to 7 guests. Satisfied with our answer, she stuck her head into the large bathroom, and then later commented that having the second half-bath was a good idea. Finally, she asked if she could sit at the kitchen table to write her report.

While she was writing, she asked if we kept cleaning supplies. When I assured her there were supplies in multiple storage areas, I proceeded to show her. She stated that if we use “regular” cleaning supplies like what we had been using, we would have to buy a permit from the city for 7,500 Huf. Though this wasn’t an unreasonable amount, I did not see any reason to pay for something every other household was using. However, I did share that our primary go to cleaner was white vinegar. She was reassured.

When she sat down to write her report, she pulled out carbon paper. I had to stuff down a burst of laughter. I sat there fascinated that carbon paper still exists. When NCR paper was invented, I thought it was the best invention since mail order shopping. Really? Carbon paper in 2014?

Last of all the final result was that we have to post an ‘authorized’ No Smoking sign on our door and outside somewhere, we need to have a ‘smoking area’. Our smoking guests are less than 2% of the total, so it is really a no-brainer, but something else to tick off the neighbors. She gave us the website where it could be downloaded. I went to get it printed out; we no longer have a printer. They are in place and we are in compliance.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Messy Mixed Money Messages

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Can we say ‘mixed messages’ without cracking a smile, grin, or grimace? Today’s news held two interesting tidbits that seem to contract each other or at the very least make one go "Huh?"

Portfolio.hu, generally more of an economic Hungarian news source in English had a story titled Hungary general government debt at 85% of GDP. The first paragraph is as follows. 

“Hungary’s general government consolidated gross debt at nominal value (or Maastricht debt) was 85% of gross domestic product at the end of the second quarter in 2014, financial accounts data released by the National Bank of Hungary showed on Tuesday.” 

You can read the rest of the story here.

Then over in RouteNew.com: the world air service development magazine, an article discusses how the Chief Commercial Officer of the Budapest airport, Kam Jandu, is trying to negotiate with one of the American airlines to recommit to direct flights between Budapest and the US. New York City would be nice, but they have their sites on somewhere farther west. Delta did have direct flights in the past, but they dropped the route. United also tried, but the company lost interest as well.

However, this is the interesting sentence that provokes the mixed message. “Growth in Hungary is strong and it also has one of the highest GDP growth rates in Europe.” 



Granted, I am not an economist and those who have more knowledge in this area than I, may just disagree with me. Yet, I stand by the claim that one of the highest GDP growth rates is less than stellar when compared to a debt at 85%.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

According to My Mom

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At the risk of demasculinizing myself, I have to say Ron and I went to a ‘darling’ little café today called According to My Mom. Okay, darling is not the most masculine adjective, but you know the old adage “when the shoe fits…” It was darling, without a doubt.

It is the only way to describe this tiny nook of an establishment that looks like it was decorated by a country French Provencal stylist. Bouquets of lavender are hanging in the windows, sharing their shade of muted purple which has been painted on two walls. The distressed white wood staircase, tables, and chairs blend perfectly to create an overall French countryside sensation.

Although there is an abbreviated breakfast or brunch menu, today, we just wanted to explore this place that had caught our attention this last week as we strolled by.

The owner is smiley and delightful. She convinced us to try her homemade carrot cake. It took little arm twisting since this is my all-time favorite, but we did ask for one piece with two forks. The lovely lady, cut the serving in half, placing it on two plates. Each plate had five fresh blueberries alongside the cake. It was moist and delicious, a perfect accompaniment to my café latte and Ron’s freshly made lemonade.

I can only blame the sugar rush as the cause for my not making a note of the exact address. However, I can say that it is placed on the left hand side of Wesselényi utca between Nyár utca and Nagy Diófa utca in the direction of the Dohány Synagogue.

Bon appétit!



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Friday, September 26, 2014

Feeding the Soul One Bite After Another

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We were headed to what we thought was a new vegetarian restaurant that former B and B guests had recommended. It is not that we are vegetarians, but we do like to sample new places and generally vegetarian restaurants are economical. Lunch time would be especially cheap, not need a large meal.

When we arrived at the address, one quick look at the menu outside assured us that a vegetarian restaurant would not be serving duck sausage or pea soup with ham. Good grief, they are right across the street from a synagogue. Have they no shame? The pork offerings should have been hidden under a lift up flap of paper at least. Nothing on the menu appealed to our mindset of vegetarian headset. Our wallet was not overjoyed either.  We moved on right next door.

Okay, don’t lambast me for this. We settled on Soul Food where I ordered a chili lime burger and Ron had Jambalaya. Okay, okay, we both ate meat. That was not the point of eating out, but rather to try somewhere new.

First I was asked how I would like my burger cooked. I thought this was a trick question. I had only heard it in Budapest once before when apparently the waiter didn’t understand the answer.

OMG, the burger was served with the most delectable bun I have ever had married to a burger. The top of the bun had a yellow drizzle on it, I presume it was the mango. Between the bun and the burger, I had to stretch wide to bite. The mix of flavors was so astonishingly luscious while at the same time dripping sauce down my hands, lips soaking my moustache, I didn’t want to lose a drop. Cooked exactly the way I directed, it was definitely one of the best burgers I have had in years.

The French fries that came on the side were spiced, cut thin, but still moist inside. What a ménage à trois this group made: bun, burger, fries.

Ron and I exchanged tastes. His Jambalaya had perfect spices to enhance the sausage, but not overwhelm the delicate taste of the shrimp.

This is a repeat place. The owner told us they add items to the menu about every three months. I spotted ribs go by that had me licking my chops like Pavlov’s dog. Fortunately, I was stuffed from the perfectly cooked hamburger.

Soul Food VII. Kazinczy u. 32

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Hello Kitty!

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Shamefully, we only discovered this place because a couple of our B and B guests mentioned wanting to visit. Budapest has outlawed dogs in establishments, so we could not figure out how they could get away with this.

Regardless, the idea is great. We only had drinks and only saw pastries, so there is not an extensive menu. We did get cat snacks and had two visitors immediately. Other cats were curled up on beds, chairs, sofas, and in the play area.

There are cats of all varieties, so you will not be disappointed if you have a favorite. This is a purrfect way to spend a relaxing hour. You can approach them, but not pick them up. If they make it into your lap, it is fine.

Remember petting an animal reduces stress. Being a tourist or even a resident can be very stressful.




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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stamp it On - Lock Key in Love

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This photo was taken in Cadiz, Spain. It made me think of "Lucky in Love", which transformed into the pun "Lock Key in Love". I added the pun to the photo and then submitted it for approval as a USPS postage stamp. It was approved today. This is my 2nd customized stamp.

This is legal US postage. I think it would be great for Valentine's Day cards, engagement announcements, wedding invitations, or just for general mailing.

You can order it in sheets of 20 here.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Open Wide and Bite

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After seeing this venue being "trialed" on an ExPat group site, we decided to give it a shot. Having pulled pork on the menu was the clinching factor.

Clean, simple decor with most of the seating along the right hand wall, prepares you for enjoying the food, without being overly stimulated by the scenery.

Our server apologized that the menu was only in Hungarian. This could be a major drawback for the traveler and hopefully it will be rectified in the near future after their trial run is completed. We could read the menu so we ordered the New York and Roasted Pulled Pork sandwiches.

What arrived were mounds of shredded pork piled onto a cushiony bun baked on the premises. The pork had some BBQ sauce, a dab of relish; each had a small side of coleslaw, and a generous portion of French fries. There was no way to bite into the sandwich without first cutting it in half.

It only took one bite to transcend into ecstasy. This is without a doubt the best pulled pork sandwich I have eaten, including those in the US. By the time I had consumed the first half of the sandwich, I was full. However, the second deadly sin - gluttony, forced me to finish the rest of the meal. The French fries were cut with a V-blade, not my favorite. Much of the potato is cut out leaving little flavor and an overly crunchy French fry. The coleslaw, on the other hand, was heavenly. It was so fresh tasting; you could imagine the cabbage having been shredded minutes before being served.

To accompany the meal, we had a lager craft beer, locally made. It had an incredible bite to it that satisfied our thirst while stimulating the taste buds enriching the food's flavors.

Trying to replicate American cuisine, the majority of the menu items are various types of burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. There are some Mexican food choices such as burritos and quesadillas. They had my heart at pulled pork.

Adding to the overall pleasure was the excellent service. We were well cared for without being doted on. Our first server was willing to do any translation of the menu if needed.


We wish them well; we will return with friends.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Humor Me

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In my case, it is after I hit Publish. Either way, until this blog becomes a paying venture, you will just have to overlook mistakes. I am a better editor when there is a financial reward. I am kind of like Pavlov's dogs in that respect. 



 

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box Yet Again

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Desperate times call for desperate measures as the saying goes. I could say that I have begun feeling a bit of desperation creeping into my life. For the last year or more, I have sensed my creative side had been on the wane. In an attempt to refresh or reboot my creativity, I read a half dozen books on the topic. Still, my creative mind was as sharp as an overripe cantaloupe.

Without having university courses to prepare for has given me much time for exploration. With this in mind, after investigating print on demand companies, I decided to contract with Zazzle. The concept is easy. After creating a design, it gets uploaded to my virtual store where I then apply it to any number of products running the full range - A to Z. When someone orders from my site, Zazzle creates the final product, delivers it, and guarantees your satisfaction. Then, I get a small commission. 

This may not make me rich, but it has helped my creative side. In order to showcase the line of products, I have created a different blog BudgetNomad World Store which you can find here. Do start with the Global Shopping page to find the URL in or closest to your country to reduce shipping costs.

There are other money making ideas in the works revolving around shopping, so keep tuned.

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