Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Messy Mixed Money Messages


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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


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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Nostalgia Lasts a Lifetime


Nostalgia comes in many forms. Our friends Bill and Walker sent this video about the 1950s. Cultural icons, even fads, last for more than a few years, but the memories they create continues for a lifetime. 

Some of the pictures in this video literally brought tears of happiness thinking back to times of less stress, less worry and being oblivious to the problems of the world around me.

Enjoy scenes from my childhood. I was an avid reader and collector of all the comic books shown. The automat was my favorite restaurant treat in NYC.

I am curious as to which pictures create a clueless association for some people. There are things shown without a reference to what they were used for, so it may be confounding. Hit me up with an e-mail (drryanjames@gmail.com) if you cannot find the answer.

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Traveling with Critters


We have a couple here from Melbourne, Australia as B and B guests. They were due to arrive a day earlier, but they were unfortunate to have been victimized by an air traffic controller strike in Florence, Italy. It only lasted for 2 hours, but enough time to disrupt the entire schedule. They arrived the next day after the airline bused them to Bologna, putting them up in a hotel.

They settled in and went out to see the city, but first presented us each with a Bubi bottle. I have had these on our Wish List for the longest time. It was a thrill to get them; they refused reimbursement, which was even more surprising.

They had left their bedroom doors open so as Ron went into the bathroom to start some laundry, he caught a glimpse of their bed and called me. Later, Jamie showed us a card game he customized as a gift for Susan. Each card had the picture of one of her numerous stuffed animals. They travel with 3 of their critters in tow.

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Color Me Abstract


There seems to be an evolution of public murals being painted on sides of buildings. Bland, grey concrete walls are being transformed into visually appealing masterpieces. 

There are a few around that are magnificently realistic causing the observer to take a second look before realizing it is a painted surface. 

Most recently, we witnessed the scaffolding being assembled on our street, within our block. This is the result. It is modern, abstract, interesting mix of colors; it reminds me of E.T. 

In Progress
Completed project
On the opposite side of the building, another painting is in progress. I will be curious to see the result.
Mural 2 just starting

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Friday, September 05, 2014



Our friend Dan had to go to immigration this last week. He came across this sign and snapped a picture.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

With Sympathy ~ Annette Schneider Smith


My last years of high school were spent in New Lothrop, Michigan where I attended St. Michaels High School. There was no apostrophe, before anyone writes to correct me.

These years were some of the best of my youth, even when being an active gay teen in a town with a population of 1,000 people was at times devastating. My entire graduating class was 52 students, but one young man died in a car crash before we reached our senior year.

All of students were related by less than seven degrees of separation in this farming community. I was not only from out of town, I was from out of state making me a rare anomaly. They loved when I spoke because they enjoyed razzing me about my accent. The sound of their speech was out of place for me too, but since my father was from this area, it did not quite sound as foreign to me.

When we graduated, the school closed up. There was an initiative passed in Michigan that cut all funding to private schools. It was many years before I returned to Michigan and even longer for a class reunion. Being our class was so small it came upon one or two people with the motivation to get something rolling. I attended the 26th year reunion with Ron in tow. No one thought about a 25th year reunion until it was too late. There was some hesitation in bringing my male partner to meet my former classmates in this very conservative Catholic community. He was a hit. The only thing they objected to was his little ponytail that he sported at the time.

Today, I received word that a second classmate has passed away: Annette Schneider Smith. I am deeply saddened by this news. Our classmate Karen Wenzlick is always excellent about keeping us informed with all classmate events. Regardless of the short time spent with these people, they contributed to the person I am today for which I am grateful.

Using Firefox, Chrome, and IE try to find the obituary online, the connection timed out making it a useless and frustrating experience. I called the funeral home in Michigan to explain where I live, who Annette was to me and what I hoped to achieve. The young woman who answered the phone said she was just on the funeral home site without an issue. After assuring her that I used every Google tool to find the various ways to infiltrate their database, it was useless. She then offered to send me the information. After offering many platitudes of thanks, I hung up and waited.

After refreshing my mail several times with impatience, her mail finally arrived. This is what she sent.
I hope this works!

She did insert the real URL, but I changed it not to cause embarrassment. I had one of those HOLY COW ~ DUH!! hit my forehead in exasperation times.

Well, after several more e-mails, she finally came through.

Annette, I have not seen you in years. We have not been in touch, but you still live on in my heart and wonderful school memories.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Absolutely Fabulous


At the risk of bragging, but hell, why not...the party was fabulous. We ended up with 19 people. Scheduled for 6-9pm, people started arriving at 5:45 and stayed until 10pm. Most of the Fulbrighters who came were probably under 30 with 2 exceptions. All but 2 were non-professors. Two of them brought their husbands. A third was to bring her husband, but he didn’t make it. Two others sent a Yes RSVP, but did not show. It was wonderful to have such a turnout!

Our friend Kat helped out by making prosciutto egg muffins for me the day before. I created my usual artichoke dip, which turned out different (I am guessing it was the Hungarian cream cheese). I wrapped bacon around dates and dried apricots, then broiled them. 

Originally, I was going use a cookie cutter on the pizza dough to make mini serving sized pizzas. The only non-Christmas cookie cutters I could find were hearts, so I went with that. Unfortunately, even after partially freezing the dough, it would not pull away from the cut portion. As a last resort, the pizza sheets of tomato and spinach pesto were cut into squares.

To round it off, we had mango chutney with cranberries over cream cheese, duck liver pâté, peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and then the usual snacks including pretzels, peanuts, cheese sticks, and assorted crackers. Everything was a hit!

Ron had visited TourInform and the transport offices. He had a new transport map, Funzine magazine, bicycle map, culture schedule, and some other things for each person to take home when they left. It was a smashing success. 

Of course, I hardly left the kitchen other than to serve, but I was happiest doing it. My Italian heritage invokes my love to feed people. The food was divided between the living room and the kitchen, so I was able to socialize with those who ventured forth.

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Party Time


Each year we try to host some type of welcome for the Fulbright group coming to Hungary. Generally, we wait until the end of their orientation, but years past have shown this is not the prime time. Not all of the incoming group will be working in Budapest, so after they finish orienting themselves, they take off for various parts of the country. Some, never to be seen again, but us at least. 

This year, we wizened up and are hosting it pre-in-service. It worked. We have 26 people coming tonight. 

Busy times!

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