works_for_me_wednesday_button1This week, my Works-for-Me Wednesday post is a selection of product reviews. I love trying new items… but I also get very upset when they aren’t what I expect. Therefore, I want to share a few tidbits about some items I’ve used in the last few weeks.

This spaghetti sauce from Kroger was on sale for $1, which is cheaper than even the Walmart brand! I don’t like pasta, but I cook it occassionally since my boyfriend loves it. I made chicken parmesan with this sauce… and it was amazing!! The sauce has a nice depth to its flavor, and it’s not too sweet like many sauces are. It also really imparts a cheesy flavor. I highly recommend it, especially for $1!

 These are a few of my Oxo Good Grips Pop-Up containers. I know, I said I don’t like pasta… but how could I resist how pretty it looks in these containers?! ;) I love how they stack. It really makes the pantry look nice, even if I’m the only one who ever sees it. I also like that I know exactly how much of each thing I have.  The negative would be the price. I’ve received most of mine as gifts. On the couple I did buy, I used a 20% off one item coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond. For me, they are definitely worth the price!!

I spotted these cappuccino coolers on the clearance shelf for 25 cents, so I decided to try a box. I think these are regularly $2.50ish per box. I think that is kind of an outrageous price! Granted, however, that it is cheaper than buying something at Starbucks. To make, you open the packet and pour into a cup of milk and stir. Pretty easy and quick! The taste was OK… obviously not a $5 Starbucks drink. :) My final determination is that they are worth 25 cents but not $2.50!

I tried a new type of apple this week – Rome apples. They are, to put it mildly, horrible! My main issue is that the texture is very grainy. It’s like eating couscous! Secondly, the flavor is bland. It’s not sweet or sour. I chopped one up to eat, dividing it into 8 pieces. I ate one piece and was disgusted. So I took it downstairs to my boyfriend. He immediately counted the pieces remaining – 7 – and suspected that I had tried one and hated it. I guess I need to get some tactics. :) Anyway, I chopped up the two apples I had bought and made Pioneer Woman’s Apple Brown Betty… it was much better received in the warm, brown-sugary form. :) 

 I’m not really a hairspray girl. This probably stems from fourth grade, when I went through a “phase” in which I would wet my hair, spray it with Aquanet, comb it into a style, and then spray again. It’s painful to even think about!! But, alas, I have had side sweepy bangs for the past couple of years. And unfortunately, I have a natural cowlick-part-sort-of-thingy going on in the front right in between the bangs. This makes hairspray a necessity. I chose this one because it wasn’t Aquanet or Suave… and also wasn’t $5. It was right around $2.89, which I hate to pay, but I think it will last a long time.

The first time I used it, I realized point #1: remember to take off your glasses before spraying. Duh! And point #2: when you have taken off your glasses, close your eyes!! Duh! This stuff is great… light, not too sticky, and frizzy-defeating. It kept my bangs as they should be. I love it!

Lastly, I share with you some delicious Peeps. I love Peeps. I just can’t explain it! But… I really, really, really (!) love them stale. That’s right, open the package and leave on the counter for 4-6 weeks until they are crusty. Admittedly, it concerns me that they have enough preservatives to stay squishy that long out on the counter. I also have a difficult time staying out of them long enough to let them stale, as evidenced by this photo. If you’re not convinced, leave just one Peep out for a few weeks and try it. You’ll never go back!!

For more Works-for-Me Wednesday tips, visit We are That Family.

Works-for-Me Wednesday!

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So it’s the backwards edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday, which I am excited for! All through my college years and the first few years in an apartment, I had less-than-adequate baking sheets. They were brown and dingy, somehow becoming yuckier and filthier with each use. I gladly trashed those terrible pans, and slowly, I have been able to add higher quality items through the last few years.

Last Christmas, I got a gift card to Williams-Sonoma, a store that I dearly love, yet can’t afford a single thing in. I splurged and got several nice items, including a new half sheet pan. I was so excited!! I quickly put it to use. Unfortunately, my new sheet pan has the same grossness as the old. I tried to scrub it, but just managed to scrub off the finish instead in one big spot. So, give me your tips and suggestions! No, I’m not even willing to post a photo, because I’m that annoyed! Yes, I’ve tried baking soda, Borax, SOS (bad), a sponge, hot water soak, Dawn, Dawn Power Dissolver (amazing for stovetops though!)… but I’m open to any new secret you have!

Gift giving is expensive…

Gift giving is expensive, so this year, I made it my goal to reduce the amount of money we spend. I find that hard to do because we have such generous families and friends who are always gifting us waaaaay more than we could ever gift. Anyway, I am trying to make as many of the gifts as I can.

For my friend’s housewarming party, I made some of Bakerella’s Puppy cake pops. Man, these were hard to make! You can see below the final product, which is not as cute as Bakerella’s, but it’s a start. :) Also included in the cake pop “bouquet” is a Target gift card because regardless of money-saving measures, Target can be considered a life necessity.

I am also making all the cards we give. They are just way too expensive in the store. Even the $1 cards multiplied by the 5-8 birthdays per month add up by year’s end. I’ll post some of my creations soon.

I love saving money!

The teensy tiny itty-bitty jar of poppy seeds on the right was $3.99. The giant jar on the left was only $1.99. I was very happy to find this at the Christmas Tree Shop store that recently opened in my area. They aren’t even expired. ;)

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DSC_0012, originally uploaded by Adventures in Amberland.

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DSC_0012, originally uploaded by Adventures in Amberland.

$7,500… what to do?

I’ve been reading this great blog, Mrs. Micah’s Finance for a Freelance Life, for awhile now. The blog features all sorts of information on debt repayment, credit cards, home mortgages, etc. It’s very helpful for me in particular because Mrs. Micah is dealing with car payments, credit cards, school loans, and such. All right up my alley. :)

So, I posed a question to Mrs. Micah:
As a first-time homebuyer in 2008, I received a $7,500 tax refund this year. The deal is that the government will take $500 out of my tax refund every year for the next 15 years until it’s paid off. Additionally, if I move before 15 years, I have to pay off whatever is left immediately. (Not too worried about this, for various reasons.)

Anyway, I took the money. So, should I pay off debt with the money? Or should I just put the money in savings for emergencies? Or should I put it aside in case I move in 5 years? I’m just not sure what is the most financially-responsible thing to do. Perhaps you could address this in a post, as I know there are probably many other people in a similar situation.

Mrs. Micah broke down my question into a few easy parts and laid all the information out. And now I know what to do. So if you’re looking for a great blog on money written in regular words and spoken by someone who knows what it’s like, visit www.mrsmicah.com.

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