Sunday, December 20, 2009

How To Write Books For Children

Recently I was at the local library with my children and my eldest daughter could not find enough books on the shelves that suited her tastes. It is a small library and even though I thought there was a good selection of books for her age bracket (she is 7 1/2 and an excellent reader), she had already read all the "girly" books that were there and would not consider bringing home a book that was not about princesses, unicorns or anything else in that style (luckily the librarian found a book with pink pages that my daughter had missed).

I can't afford buying a lot of books: I usually buy books for my kids at Christmas, along with one other gift, but other than that, all the books we read come from the library which is near free. Another problem for me is that my daughter is a fast reader: after less than an hour from being home from the library, she said she had finished her first book so I asked her what the story was about to see if she had really read it, and she had! (Do they teach speed reading in primary schools nowadays?)

I then thought that it might be a good idea for me to try and write stories for children; after all, if my kids are not satisfied with the choice that's available in the library (or go through books like bullets), why not make up stories that are specially designed to suit their tastes in books? I started searching online for free courses or advice on writing for children and even though I am still not sure whether I am going to take the plunge or not, it could be one of my resolutions for 2010. If you have ever thought of writing for children, here are some of the resources I have found online:

http://www.write4kids.com/
http://www.howtodothings.com/careers/a2910-how-to-write-childrens-books.html
http://www.howtobooks.co.uk/leisure/writing/how-to-childrens-book.asp

Writing for children may not be for everyone but this seems like the right choice for me right now and I have an excellent critic right here at home with me (there could be two by the time I get to finish anything resembling a story, as it looks like my youngest daughter will soon be able to read on her own too). I'm not sure I can make it, but I'll never know if I don't try, right?


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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Booted Out of Squidoo But Still on Associated Content.

During the summer I received an email from Squidoo asking me to review my lenses that were apparently too spammy for their standards.

I had a lot of other things going on in my life at that time and just ignored the request so now my lenses have been deleted. I know some of them were set up merely to promote some Clickbank products so I accepted being "fired" without too much damage to my ego. If my lenses have been deleted I guess an awful lot of lensmasters have been given the boot too because my lenses were far from being the most spammy but if Squidoo's owners want to improve their standards, that's up to them. I can set up another account with them but I don't think I will.

One thing I used to find difficult with Squidoo is that if you really want to make money with lenses, you have to build a lot of them: at least 100. Making 100 lenses might not be so hard over a period of time, but when you think that they all need to be updated regularly, 100 is an awful lot, especially if you want to have a life!

I'm finished with Squidoo but I am going to try and write more articles on Associated Content. Not only writing articles are less time-consuming than building Squidoo lenses but the fact that once they have been published you don't need to go back every 5 minutes to update them is a big plus for me; I like to finish something and then being able to forget about it, especially since I am still earning money every month for articles I've written 2 years ago.

Sure I can't promote affiliate links on Associated Content but to tell you the truth I didn't earn as much as I would have liked on Squidoo promoting affiliate links, be it through Squidoo's own affiliate programs or my own links, so I'm thinking of maybe setting up a blog where I could write some reviews and promote some affiliate products (probably not Clickbank either, something more real that the average person would find useful). I'm not going to do this straight away, as I find that I really don't have time for anything more right now, but maybe next year, when both my children have the same school hours (these school pick-ups are really killing me, there is something not quite right about the Irish school system!).

So here's just to let you know what I'm up to. If you're interested in reading my last articles you can read 5 Top Website Resources for Easy to Make and Cheap Halloween Decorations, which came in very handy for my children this week (the house is now full of ghost and pumpkin garlands as well as bats made out of empty toilet rolls), or, if you'd rather cast a money spell (yes there is one about winning the lotto, but remember if it's too good to be true...) read 5 Free Spells Websites for a Spooky Halloween and if you like them, please share them online!


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Friday, October 2, 2009

Free TV on the Internet

Oops, didn't realize it was so long since I last posted here. Since I last wrote a blog post I moved house and learned DIY - well I bought myself a cheap drill and phone my ex whenever I need curtain poles or shelves installed; I haven't actually used the drill myself, why should I when someone is willing to do the work for free?

Anyway, enough talk of how to abuse your ex, let's talk about free TV: when I went to see my sister last summer she gave me her Dexter boxset and converted me: so after watching Dexter series 1, I was craving for more, especially since I had read that the series 4 was going to be aired on TV soon. I rented the Dexter series 2 in my local Xtravision but the shop assistant told me that the series 3 had not been released yet (at least not in the region 2, which my DVD player and I live in), so I decided to look around on the World Wide Web and found several websites where I could watch TV for free.

Here's what I found so far: depending on where you live, you can watch shows that have been broadcast on your local TV stations; these are the safest to view, in case you're worried about nasty viruses or the law: in Ireland for example, you can catch up on your favourite soaps and shows on the RTE player or the TV3 catch up website. A useful website for the Irish language lovers (or simply students who have no choice but to learn Irish) is the TG4 website, where most programmes are in Gaeilge. If you live in the UK you should definitely hook up with the 4oD website (from Channel 4): they have a much more exciting selection of series but are unfortunately not accessible from Ireland.

There are a lot of Free TV websites but I must say that I find most have crappy content and I would stay away from others that require you to install a toolbar or download software. For Free Internet TV that won't install spyware or adware on your computer, I recommend the following:
- http://www.freeetv.com;
- http://www.tvchannelsfree.com;
- http://www.worldtvpc.com/;

My personal favourite, despite the fact that there are pop up ads that may discourage you from viewing anything on offer, is Project Free TV: it has everything under the sun from Little House on the Prairie to Weeds and, yes, this is where I have been catching up with my favourite anti-hero Dexter. I am not sure of the legality of the website so I wouldn't advise anyone to download any episodes (it says you can download full HD episodes with Vuze) but I am pretty content with my now bloodshot eyes (some of the episodes are a bit out of sync, funny to hear Rita talk with Dexter's voice and vice-versa sometimes and the episodes are watchable but still not the best if you're a bit fussy about the video quality).

If you don't know what I've been talking about, don't worry: it took me a while to differentiate between Internet TV, catch up TV, streaming, downloading, etc... Here's an interesting article for all Internet TV newbies: read The Definitive Guide to watching Internet TV on PC.

PS 1: Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any crap that might get on your computer if you ever decide to download anything through any of the above links; I am also not responsible for any trouble you may incur with the law. If you're unsure whether any website you visit is legal and don't want to run any risks, just don't go there!

PS 2: To the idiot who put a CPA ad which require visitors to complete a survey in order to access the site (which I haven't listed here by the way): I got the hell out of your site and am not coming back; this kind of thing annoys the crap out me and I guess I'm not the only one who won't be staying on your website (really, how stupid can a webmaster get?).

Update: Project Free TV has unfortunately just disappeared but I have just found the next best thing with Free Online Episodes; not so many oldies there like She-ra, Inspector Gadget or Mac Gyver (sigh!) but still lots of excellent shows (Dexter of course, Damages, Nurse Jackie...) so I think I'll hurry and catch with what I've been missing before this one disappears as well.


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Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm Taking Time Off

I know my blogging has been pretty slack for the last few months, but it's about to get a lot slacker, at least for the next month or two.

During the week, I have been offered social housing and it looks like I will be moving in about 4 weeks (Whoo Hoo!). I know this is not a reason for slowing down in itself but considering the fact that I am going on a two-week holiday (which has been planned since January), I think I'll be spending the 2 remaining weeks packing, cleaning up, buying furniture for the new house (I was renting a furnished house) and negotiating my leaving notice with my landlord (it's normally 56 days and I don't feel like paying rent on 2 places at the same time).

Be confident that I will also be practising my negotiating skills with electrics and furniture stores, as buying a number of items from one store should entitle me to a big discount!

The good news is that I'm finally getting a permanent place to live (or at least long-term) and that I will be once again (I already bought a car this year) putting my money back in the economy: I'd better start writing a list because the amount of stuff I have to buy is scary!

In case I'm not back by then, Happy Easter to everyone and keep me a chocolate egg!


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Do You Know Who Your Facebook Friends Are?

I have just read an article on Yahoo News about an English prison officer being arrested for having criminals as some of his Facebook friends.

Of course the fact that he had these people as friends on his Facebook profile was not the only reason while the guard was arrested; the article mentions he had a photograph of him and a convicted fraudster on his Facebook profile (if you don't want to get caught, don't show off with your criminal friends!) as well as the fact that he had been supplying mobile phones and other banned items to inmates of the prison where he worked.

I went on a mad rampage a few months ago, adding lots of "friends" which I didn't know as I was hoping to get people to access my blog and posted items such as Squidoo lenses and Associated Content articles through my Facebook profile. I may have been naive but I never thought I might be unknowingly adding people who may be bad news.

I am not a prison guard or any other kind or Government employee but for my own sake I'd still rather not have any connections with criminals. I think I have a bit of decluttering to do on my own Facebook account: I am planning to reorganize my friends into categories (never thought I might even talk like this about my friends, I'm scaring myself!); of course I'll keep the people I know outside the Internet (I have a cousin who is a policeman, I'd better warn him in case he would have any dodgy friends), I also want to keep all my fellow bloggers, Squidooers, Associated Content producers, etc...

There is a saying that says "Keep your friends close and your ennemies closer" but I'd rather keep any ennemies as far away from me as I bloody can!

PS. You can still add me as a friend if you like, just add a quick note saying how you found me.


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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lazy Advertising

Last week I received my car insurance newsletter in the post, and in the enveloppe was a sticker designed to display their insurance claims phone number on the inside of the car and their logo on the outside.

While the displaying of the sticker is optional, the incentive to stick it on the car's windows is pretty good, as the insurance company has "sticker spotters" on the roads all over the country who will enter the registration numbers of the cars they see "wearing" their stickers into a monthly draw in which 5 people will win €200. At the end of the year there is another draw in which the big prize is a brand new VW Golf.

I guess that getting their customers to display a logo on their cars must be cheaper than TV advertising or paying for ad spaces on the back of buses: €31,000 (the total value of all the prizes to be won, including the car) plus the cost of printing the stickers as well as relying on word of mouth (which is a big thing in Ireland, since everyone seems to be related, or at least know someone I know) is not that big a budget for a national insurance company.

Another scheme the same insurance company has is "recommend a friend", where people who recommend that company to a friend can get a €50 discount on their next renewal date (which also makes people want to stick with the company to avail of their discount). So I've calculated that for a policy worth €400 (which is what they have quoted me for my next renewal date, as I was trying to get last year's insurance on the cheap), I'd have to get 8 people to take up a car insurance with them in order to get it for free.

I am a bit surprised to see no group on Facebook called "help X get free car insurance" yet but who knows, I might try and set up my own one of these days!


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Brainstorming the Nation

Not everything is bad about the current recession! At least some people are trying to turn this situation around and find new ways to deal with it. I wish I would have thought of this before, but I didn't, so I'll talk a little bit about the Ideas Campaign here instead.

Well, I guess most of you are now aware of the fact that our Govermnent, even though trying to help the country out the recession, has put its foot into it more than once and is being crticized by anyone left, right and centre (me being in a prominent position).

We were nearly on the verge of an Irish revolution against the Government (which wouldn't really achieve much, since all political parties are the same in my opinion, and I would really resent power-hungry Enda Kenny to be our next Taoseoich; Eamon Gilmore, maybe, but then again...) when Sharon Dove came up with the concept of asking people for ideas that could be implemented in order to get us out of this mess. It's a simple concept, but someone had to come up with it!

So now that the Ideas Campaign is live, anyone can contribute to the economic recovery of Ireland; it doesn't matter how small or big your idea is, it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor or in between, famous or not, as long as you have an idea you should submit it on the Ideas Campaign website. I have submitted 3 ideas myself this morning and I am feeling good about this whole Democracy thing.

Even if you don't think you can come up with an idea, you should still visit the Ideas Campaign website, read the content and maybe taking a look at the different categories you can submit to will inspire you (that's what worked for me). Just remember that no whingeing is allowed, so stay positive.

I can't believe I came up with 3 ideas! What next? Maybe I should go into politics, I am ready to lead this country (God, I'm starting to sound like Enda Kenny; I'd better go and splash some cold water on me now).


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Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Hate Internet Marketing Freebies!

I wanted to write a post about how you can get Clikbank products for free and I remembered that I had seen some before when I scrolled down the bottom of my clickbank portal.

So I decided to take a closer look at my own Portal to see if there was anything worth downloading; I have just spent a few hours downloading Internet Marketing freebies and I haven't even started to read them yet!

I am not complaining about the fact that I am getting lots of stuff for free; it's just the way that this stuff is being made available to me that I have a problem with. I understand that the bottom line is that the Internet Marketing Experts, or Gurus, as they like to call themselves are trying to sell me something, and so their download pages all contain these annoying OTO offers (One-Time-Only). I know how to skip them and I don't care that my email address is probably now included and even triplicated in about 157 new email lists.

It's just so confusing that when you sign up to one freebie, the devil then tempts you with another 4 or 5 extra free bonuses and who am I to say no to the devil? Exactly! So here I go, sign up to A and then get not only A but B+C+D+E; Then I go and sign up to B because I can't remember that it's one of the bonuses I have already downloaded and they give me F+G+H+I and so on...

Anyway, now I've got some reading to do and probably also lots of lists to get unsubscribed from. I guess this is when I'm supposed to give you the download link for one of the free products but since I was in a frenzy and can't even remember all the new IDs and download links I must have created, all I can tell you is that if you hate Internet Marketing Freebies as much as me, go to your own Clickbank portal and scroll down to the "Recommended Free IM Product Resources"; if you haven't got one you can go to mine here (you can also get one for free through the same link, but that's only if you want one).

The guru said I had to taunt you so here's some of what you can get for free:
- 15 Free niche E-books with master resale rights and sales pages;
- E-book Auction Cash: How to make a killing selling E-books on Ebay in 5 easy steps*;
- PLR Fortunes: Huge master resale rights package;
- PPC Giveaway: Ebook about how to make a fortune with Google Adsense.

These are just the main free products; if you decide to get them, watch out for the unanounced free bonuses!(Damn these Gurus).

* Update: Ebay doesn't allow the sale of Ebooks anymore but it could be worth checking out other auction sites that permit this; just check the terms of your chosen auction site (thanks to the Knowledge Lady for pinpointing this).


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do You Use Webtext?

I'm not sure what other mobile phone company doeas this, but I'm with O2 and I have just found out that I can save a bit of money every month by using Webtext instead of using the traditional SMS method.

I am not a big texter (I probably send a maximum of 10 SMS's per month) but for someone who uses SMS a lot, I think that, if they are not doing it already, using webtext is a much cheaper option.

Webtext is the same as SMS, except that you use your computer to send messages to other people's mobile phones. For people like me who have not been born with texter thumbs, there is also the advantadge that you type an ordinary message from your computer (a bit like sending an email) using your regular computer keyboard.

O2 provides its customers with 250 free webtexts per month, whether they are on a bill contract or on a prepay package while Vodafone and Meteor give their customers 300 free webtexts per month; if you are with any of these mobile phone providers, all you have to do is register on their website for free and start using your free monthly allowance.

If you are living in Ireland and are thinking of switching mobile phone provider, check out this Callcosts.ie; it is a comparison website that will let you enter your average daily or monthly usage to help you work out which package is the best for you moneywise. If you think you are paying too much for your broadband or home phone, you will also find options that suit you on the same site.

That's all from me for today, so don't forget to give your thumbs a rest thanks to free webtext and good luck with your bargain hunting!


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beware of Facebook Ads That Are Scams

I have just logged on to Facebook and saw an ad that I just had to click on to learn a little bit more about it:

The ad said the following:

Mum makes $5000 online - See how I made $5000 online as a stay at home Mum.


Yes, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but a little more information can't hurt, right? So I clicked the ad and was taken to a page that looked like a blog called "Amy's Income Blog". The post read how a stay-at-home mum from Ireland made a monthly income of $5000 online with a programme that costs $1 and that is called Earn Google Cash. Since I am also in Ireland, I thought this might be worth a try and I clicked on the Earn Google Cash link to see what this programme was all about; I mean, it has the word google on it, and I'll find out soon enough if this is a legitimate new programme from Google or if it has one of those flashy "spammy" sales letters, in which case, I'll forget all about it. So on I clicked and I was taken to a page that said:
We're sorry! This offer is not available in your area, you will be redirected shortly.
(Oh, how I hate those!). Remember how I said this woman wrote she was in Ireland, like me? Well it seems she's just a big fat liar, and just by looking at her blog a little further, my opinion that this is a scam was confirmed: her page url http://www.amysincome.com/?t202id=24138&t202kw=
really looks like an affiliate link to me (the person who bothered putting up the ad on Facebook could have at least cloaked their affiliate link!), moreover, she spells "husband" "husand", not as bad as me spelling it "husbank" ($$$!), but still, this doesn't look very professional to me. Don't tell anyone, but I flagged this particular ad as a scam on Facebook (I feel like such a troll right now!).

A little more online research and here's all the praise I could find about this Earn Google Cash system. click the following links to learn more:
http://www.reviewopedia.com/www.earncashfastwithgoogle.com.htm
http://electronplumber.com/10-ways-to-spot-an-internet-scam-google-cash-too-good-to-be-true
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=48061309f684ad4c&hl=en.

So, made you mind up yet? I just don't want to say to you later on : "I told you so!"


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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Do Not Follow These So-Called "Recession-Proof" Systems to Make Money!

I am sure that, like me, you have come accross a number of online sales-letters that guarantee a "proven" way to make money during the recession. I haven't signed up to any of these systems, so how do I know they are scams?

Well, for one, when was the last time there was a Worldwide recession? Not so long ago actually, but one big difference was that in the seventies and eighties, there was no Internet, and the only way for normal people like you and me to make money was to hold on to their jobs or to have the "Idea of the Century" and the means to make it come real by investing in a brick and mortar business. So maybe some people have found a way to beat the recession, but when they tell you they have a proven way to do it and they'll "let you in on their secret" in exchange for money, run away as fast as you can!

I could also make a sales-letter because, yes, there are some areas in which people have to spend money, recession or not, but I'm not that sleazy so I'll let you in on my own secrets right now and you don't even have to pay me or sign up to anything, because these are things that anyone can figure out for themselves. Here are some recession-proof niches you can capitalize on (if you want):

- Write about the recession, how we got there, how to get out of if (if you can write that book, please send a free copy to all World leaders);
- 101 ways to save money (or any other number you can think about);
- Anything relating to being friendlier to the Environment (it should be easy since it usually goes hand-in-hand with saving money);
- If you're a brainy scientist, find a way for people to create their own energy to power their homes and cars (I have this picture in my mind of having the TV linked to an exercise bike so that my kids can only watch TV while exercising, then I didsmiss the idea when I visualize myself on the same exercise bike but linked to my computer!);
- Price-comparison websites;
- Jobseeking, upskilling;
- Research and development of new sources of energy (whatever happened to water-fuelled cars?)

I can think of a whole lot more areas that are either not being affected by the recession (like parenting advice) or positively affected by it (everything related to saving money).

I'd like to think that everything is not as bleak as it seems and that all the people who have been badly affected by the recession can see some light at the end of the tunnel. It's not a matter of saying "Yes we can" anymore, it's a matter of actually doing it!

Internet Junkie for President!


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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bargains and Special Offers Websites and Forums

If you're looking for ways to save money, it is worth checking out online forums where people share their finds of bargains ans special offers.

If you live in Ireland, check out Rollercoaster.ie (a parenting forum that was recommended to me by my doctor a few years ago); not only you can get excellent advice and support from other parents if you're worried about your little ones but they have also recently added a section called "Bargains and Special Offers" where you can find anything from the cheapest pizza to the cheapest medicine and vitamins.

I found another good site that should be of some interest particularly for people in the U.K.: Money Saving Expert talks about everything to do with money and they also have a forum where users post all their money-saving tips, coupons codes, freebie lists, and where you can find any kind of money advice.

If you're not fond of online forums, you can always write your shopping list while checking out the bargains at your favorite supermarkets by visiting their websites; this way you can decide if you should have the half-price steak or the 30% off chicken and where to shop in order to find the best deal overall. Here are my favourite shopping websites for groceries:

- Aldi: click on your country and check out the current week's special buys; this website even has a great selection of chef's recipes using the ingredients you can find there. A great way to eat great food at low prices!

- Lidl: this is the same style as above, with also links to recipes containing a handy shopping list. After looking at the list of countries, it looks like this chain only exists in Europe so if you're outside, try the Aldi above.

- Supervalu may be slightly more expensive if you use it for all your grocery shopping, but they do excellent promotions so if you only buy the bargain products there, you may actually save more than if you buy everything in one discount store. (P.S. check out their €1 offers this week!).

- Tesco also has a good website and here you can also shop online if you can spare the cash for their delivery costs; you can check all their prices as well as the current special offers but I don't find this site very friendly; however this is very useful if you don't own a car.

- Dunnes Stores: I haven't been using this site but felt I had to include it as it is one of the main grocery shops (they also do clothes and homeware) that can be found in Ireland; I don't think you can shop online with this one but check out their special offers; I'm not too crazy about the fact that these include mainly branded products that, even with the discounts, often don't come as cheap as the supermarket brand but you may be able to save money on the meat products.

Once again, my advice is to shop around to save money but be careful not to spend more petrol running around looking for the best bargains; if you can save €10 by buying all your groceries at shop A in one week, don't go to shop B in the same week just to save €0.20 on one product.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lightbulb Moments: Cash in Now!

While I was browsing for some affiliate products to promote, I was suddenly hit by an idea to earn money. It's a bit naughty so I won't reveal my exact plans just now, but be assured that it's all above board.

It's a bit fuzzy in my mind right now but I can already tell you that it involves creating a new blog, one or more Squidoo lenses and some YouTube videos.

Well, in these recessionary times, one must be inventive to succeed! It might take me a while to put my new plan into action, but in the meantime I can alway deposit my next Clickbank cheque that is due to arrive very soon: Money, Money, Money...


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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Benefits of Careful Spending and Saving

Hi and a Happy New Year to everyone!

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and please accept my apologies for not posting earlier: Christmas shopping, a new computer course I've started locally (free of course!), and my taking up again of my old knitting hobby (after buying a big bulk of yarn on Ebay I've decided to knit sweaters for all of the family, I'm only halfway through but still enjoying it!); add in the mix a bit of pure lazyness and you get 2 whole months of this blog not being updated!

Anyway to get back to my topic, after about 2 whole years of hard savings, I've finally managed to change my car!

Before:
A Seat Ibiza costing me a bundle on motor tax due to its powerful engine, which is a feature I don't need, doing most of my driving in town or on Irish roads where speed is a no-no (pot-holes and cie...), central locking and passenger window out of order, faded paintwork with moss growing out of the rubber joints, a tyre that seemed to leak air even though my mechanic assured me there was no puncture:


After:
A neat and very sleek looking Hyundai Accent with "all mod cons" (remote central locking and immobilizer, air-conditionning, CD player, front and back electrical windows, electrical adjustable mirrors), not new but it feels like it is, extremely pleasant to drive (if only we were not on this small island, I'd drive it all the way around the world right now!):

(Ok, I know I haven't parked very well but what do you want? I'm just a girl after all!)

I'm sorry if this post feels like I'm boasting but I just had to share the joy! With all this talk of recession, I just wanted to say that all's not bad; I have lived for the last few years as if I was in a recession so now that prices are coming down, I'm coming out and even if the banks go bust, who cares? All my money's been spent on my new toy!

P.S. I don't really mean that; I know that a lot of people are going through a rough time right now and I hope that things will soon get back on track for everyone (except maybe those who've helped making this whole mess; you know who you are!)


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