Cheap vs Quality

I know! I know! I know!

Yes, I know sometimes going cheap is a waste of money. There are so many examples of this that I should know better.

Well, here’s one of my “cheap” vs “quality” stories.

I began using my china teacups about 2 years ago. I even took one to school to drink my hot tea in. The students were intrigued with the idea of “fancy” cups for my hot tea. I did find them a little small but at work, that is a positive in case I spill – less mess to clean up. At home, I just make more cups in an evening. Does anyone use their saucers?

At home, I put the china teacup into the dishwasher (top shelf) without another thought. My china pattern, Noritake Shenandoah, has a platinum rim and are dishwasher safe on the china/delicate cycle. I never use that cycle unless the entire load is china/crystal from a holiday meal. The teacups have never shown signs of the platinum rim chipping or fading as you can see in the above photo. The one at school looks just like new and is hand washed every afternoon before I leave – well back in the day when we had school at school.

About a year ago, I purchased some white coffee china mugs from Bed Bath & Beyond. I figured as long as they looked ok, it was better to buy the “cheap” ones. They were $11.99 each but with a 20% off coupon, they were $9.59 each. They have a larger volume than the teacups that came with my china (14 oz vs 8 oz cups). The white mugs can also be used with the Christmas dishes as well as dessert plates from John’s Nana. Win Win! (I also considered Lenox Federal Platinum white china mugs – they retail for $34.99 each and are the ones Kiddo #1 has – no problems with platinum rim on hers.)

Well, here is a picture of the “cheap” china mug vs the “quality” teacup. I cycle through the cups so one is not used more than the other, usually because the other is in the dishwasher. The other picture is one I’ve regularly used compared to a new rarely used mug.

If these were my “good” china, I surely would be upset at the quality! This is ridiculous!

Is it worth returning them? Nope, I’ll still drink from them. I figure when one finally has the platinum gone, I’ll move to the next one. By the time we can entertain again, maybe all 6 will be without a platinum rim and guests won’t have any idea! Maybe I should purchase the 6 Lenox mugs I originally nixed because of cost next time we are near a Lenox outlet – definitely cheaper than $34.99 each there.

Do you have any examples of “cheap” vs “quality” items?

Instacart – We finally used it

Well, I finally did it – I ordered something from the grocery store using Instacart. I’ve always resisted using the app – surely I can do my own shopping. Why pay someone to do something I can do?

With the pandemic lockdown in full effect in Southern California, I figured I would support someone else’s income and keep us out of stores as much as possible. Our usual perishable shopping has been Walmart pickup for the last 9 months.

Our niece, who works for Instacart corporate, has been encouraging us to try it. Grandma is a “member” and frequent user. If my mother-in-law, age 89, can navigate the app, surely I can. (side note: I’m mother-in-law’s tech support.)

Last night about 7:30 pm I went to the app and selected the grocery store in our neighborhood. I selected 15 items. Some were items Walmart didn’t have when we placed our pickup order last weekend. The order was “assigned?” to Shopper “Joshua” immediately. Then it was changed to Shopper “Jose”. No idea why or how it was changed. Kiddo #2 said it must have not been worth Joshua’s time since it was a small order.

When Jose got to the store, he let me know he was beginning and would update me along the way. The app has a special texting feature built in. I did let him know it was my first time and he replied “It’s my pleasure I hope I can make your experience amazing!”

He was so helpful – sending pictures of the shelves if something was out and wanting to know if I saw something else I would rather he pick up. It was as if I was right there! I guess they do this for every order but it sure felt special to me.

About an hour after placing the order, the items had been delivered and put away! I’m sure it would have been longer if I had left the house when I started.

$10.52 for peace of mind – worth it on an occasional basis.

Actual ReceiptInstacart charge
Service Fee0$2.49

Follow Up to Skin Care Post

Hello everyone! We are still around, just crazy busy starting school.

This is a follow up to my skin care post found here.

I’ve been using the CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C serum ($24.99 at Ulta) almost every morning for a little over 2 months. I still have plenty left – a little bit goes a long way! I use about a pea-sized amount for my whole face. At this amount, it will last the rest of the year!

According to the Ulta website: “Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum with hyaluronic acid is formulated with 3 essential ceramides and 10% pure vitamin C – visibly brightens while helping to restore the protective skin barrier. This serum has a potent antioxidant L-Ascorbic acid (the purest form of vitamin C) that helps to even skin tone and continuously brighten skin while providing antioxidant benefits. The serum’s gentle, lightweight formula helps restore the protective skin barrier and improve skin hydration, leaving skin soft, radiant, and healthy looking. Skin appears visibly brighter and even toned with improved texture.”

Did it brighten my face? Maybe. Did it improve hydration? Yes. Did it make it appear more even toned? Maybe Did it improve texture? Yes

In the evenings, I apply a small amount – about a pea-size to each half of my face – of the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer Fragrance Free ($38.99 at Ulta). This one also still has plenty in the jar and will probably last the rest of the year.

According to the Ulta website: “Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer penetrates deep into skin’s surface layers. Olay’s proprietary blend of vitamin B3 + retinol complex hydrates skin for 24 hours for a bounty of benefits. You’ll see visible improvements in fine lines and wrinkles, smoothness, brightness, firming, dark spots, and pores. Retinol24 delivers all of these benefits with virtually no irritation. This fragrance and dye free moisturizer absorbs quickly and goes deep into your skin’s surface layers so you wake up every morning to younger-looking, radiant skin. Use Olay daily for 28 days and see true skin transformation.”

Did it improve fine lines and wrinkles? Yes, under my eyes. Did it improve dark spots? Not really. Did it reduce the size of pores? Not really. Do I wake up every morning to younger-looking, radiant skin? Not really. Did I see true skin transformation after 28 days? Not really.

My face does seem smoother to the touch. The area under my eyes seems less wrinkled. There is less redness on my cheeks.

Overall, I’m torn if I would recommend the products, especially considering their initial costs. They do seem to last longer than I anticipated.

Here are the before and after pictures of my cheeks and nose. In the before picture I was smiling so that’s why my cheeks look a little different. I think I had the flash on for the after picture as well.

What do you think? Any obvious difference?

Day 87 of Isolation – skin care

While Kiddo #2 was home on Saturday, we had a discussion about skin care since her surgery scars are still very visible. We went down a rabbit hole on the internet researching scar care which leads to overall skin care which lead to skin care for “aging” skin. [Some call it “mature” skin. Nice ways of saying OLD!]

This is not a typical topic for me to write, talk, or even think about. I rarely use makeup and haven’t really worn it much in my life. I always had acne breakouts made worse whenever I put anything on my face and gave up trying about 30 years ago. [Having 2 small children might also have played a role!]

Even mascara went since it made wearing contacts uncomfortable. I would rather see and not have glasses slipping off my face than have mascara on.

So here is my usual skin care routine for the last 30 years – wash my face (and body) with Dove Beauty Bar. {Link just in case you’re interested – I don’t make any money on my links.} When they came out with the Sensitive Skin version years ago, we switched to that. John doesn’t really care what soap I put in the shower. He uses whatever is there. I also only use the bar version – less environmental impact than the plastic bottles for the liquid body wash version. I added the Clinique Moisture Surge Hydrating Supercharged Concentrate most mornings about a year ago. I also don’t use facial sunscreen unless I know I will be out for extended periods of time.

So now back to our “findings”. Apparently, vitamin C serum and retinol are the go to things for healthy “aging” skin. So I am going to perform a month-long science experiment.

Question: Will Vitamin C and Retinol products have a visible effect on my facial skin?

Research: Many sources – it was an internet rabbit hole! Vitamin C serum and retinol are the go to things for healthy “aging” skin.

Hypothesis: If I used Vitamin C and Retinol products every day for a month, then I will see visible positive changes in my facial skin.

Experiment: I will use CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C serum each morning after washing face with Dove Beauty Bar and follow it with my Clinique moisturizer. Each evening after washing my face with Dove Beauty Bar, I will apply Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer Fragrance Free. I’m not going to explain why I picked these brands, never having tried serums or night moisturizers before. Thank you Ulta for curbside pickup!

I’ll share my experimental results around July 8th. Both products first used on June 8th.

Day 75 of Isolation – new lights

“We” (it was definitely not a joint effort!) finally got around to installing these extremely bright LED lights in the garage. The box says 300% brighter – I’m going for about 1,000,000 times brighter!

They really are beyond bright!

John spent most of the day working on it, between going back to Home Depot to get the actual electrical fixture and wiring stuff, assembling the wiring stuff and installing onto the rafter.

I am very grateful – no more darkness in this corner of the garage! Our electrician friend also ordered LED bulbs to go in the other fixtures in the garage. They should arrive tomorrow!

It looks like we need to declutter again now that we can see in this area!

the darn spice cabinet

I’m not even sure why I opened the spice cabinet this morning.  It still hasn’t come back to me.  But when I opened the cabinet, there were 4 new bottles of spices lined up across the opening.  John went shopping!

But then I inspected them more closely.  All 4 bottles were for spices we already had plenty of!

First thought – “OMG How much did that cost?”

Next thought – “This cupboard is a disaster!”

Imagine the “heated” discussion we had about the purchase of spices!  After decluttering the cupboard, we have a lifetime supply of ground cumin, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, Old Bay, ground ginger, poultry seasoning, and whole allspice.  All are duplicates of full bottles.

So in all, I decluttered 6 bottles of consolidated spices and old stuff (Fruit Fresh anyone?  And how about an old Mrs. Dash?)

I was able to consolidate the Old Bay and garlic powder.  Both had a large container and a small container.  (Note:  Our Old Bay large container (6 oz) is nothing compared to that found in the cupboard of a Marylander!)


Sorry not before and after pics of the cupboard but here’s the bag of duplicates.  They are going into the pantry with the new understanding that John is not allowed to purchase spices without “prior approval” (or at least making a concerted effort to confirm a duplicate doesn’t exist.)


Some Weeks Should Never Be!

This was one of those weeks which should never be experienced by any homeowner!  To those of you who recently mentioned you love being a renter – I agree with you when stuff like this happens!

Our hot water heater decided to spring a leak Monday afternoon.  John had to take 2 days off for estimates and replacement.  He received estimates for both a traditional water heater and a tankless version.  Needless to say, traditional water heater got installed on Wednesday.

Thursday evening, we heard a weird noise – almost a gurgling sound.  When we went into the master bathroom, the toilet bowl had very little water and there was a weird coating on the floor of the shower.  Yep, the sewer line was backed up.  A call to Roto-Rooter was made – $500 minimum charge to come immediately or $250 to come in the morning.  John took Friday off!  It seems the main sewer line has a crack and roots entered and blocked the flow of YUCKY stuff from our house.  Roots are now gone but a decision needs to be made about the cracked pipe.  Maybe next month??

$2500 later we have hot water AND our sewer line is cleaned out.  Gotta love home ownership!!



How Many Miles Have I Walked in 2018??

As you may recall, I got an Apple iWatch Labor day weekend.  I’ve been faithfully wearing it to track my steps.  The only drawback I have is that the app that comes with it (Activity) doesn’t calculate a total for the month or an average for the month.

To solve that issue I use the Accupedo app.  It records all the stuff from my watch/Health app but also totals the steps for the week, month, and year into a nice graph.  Love this app!


Unfortunately I still have to add up the miles manually using the “History” information.  Easy enough to do, just annoying.  You can also tell when I changed from using my phone as my pedometer to the watch.

So here are my totals for 2018 since getting this awesome “pedometer”:

I can’t believe I’ve walked 235 miles!  If 4 months was 235 miles, a year would be 705 miles.

GOAL FOR 2019 is 1,000 miles!

Still Can’t Believe We Did It!

This falls into one of those “I can’t believe we did this!” situations.

And “I still can’t believe we did this!” a second time.

A couple of months ago, a couple friend invited us to the shooting range.  We agreed, figuring what’s the worst that will happen – if we hate it, nothing in our life changes.  If we like it, it is another activity we can do with this couple.  This is the first “I can’t believe we did this” moment.

Even though I grew up with a father who hunted, I was never allowed to go with him or to even think of touching one of his guns.  My father had a very “Guns are for guys” mentality.  (Actually, a lot of things were for guys and not girls.)  I had never touched a gun, John hadn’t touched one since basic training in 1975.   I’m a pretty hard-core gun control person – I don’t have a problem with people waiting to make purchases; guns should be locked up at all times; you name it, it probably applies to me, or really close to my beliefs.  John has always wanted to have one while we travelled but I resisted.

Well, we had a great time shooting the “twister” target.  I was surprised I even hit it!  K brought 5 different guns and his wife, K2, brought her 1.  We spent about 2 hours at the range shooting all of them.  K is extremely knowledgable and has a concealed weapon permit in California so I know he has been checked out and tested.   K2 took the CW course with no intention of carrying, but wanted to know all the laws and procedures just in case something happened while her husband was carrying his.

Here are my first 2 rounds.  Evidently, this makes me a good shot.

IMG_4892 (2)

A couple of weeks later, we went with them again.  It was just as enjoyable!  Maybe even more so since I knew I would be able to hit the target.  It was an exciting adventure!

This last weekend, we went with them for a third time.  After breakfast we went with them to the gun shop, figuring we would purchase the ammo they were replacing since they have provided everything thus far for our outings.

Now for another “I can’t believe we did this!” moment.  We purchased a gun.   John is happy we will have one with us while we travel.

We are not the least bit annoyed/disappointed/angry we have to wait 10 days before we can pick it up from the gun shop.

  • Please check my background!
  • Make me take a test!  We both took the California gun owner test (and passed!)  Why did we both take it?  I wanted to be sure we both could pass!
  • Make us wait 10 days!  Not a problem here.
  • Make us wait 31 days before we buy another handgun – OK by me!  How many do you need at one time??
  • Prevent me from carrying it all the time – another OK by me!
  • Monitor how much ammo I’m purchasing – another OK by me!

I don’t think there is a single gun law in California I disagree with.  Will being a “gun owner” change any of this?  Probably not!


Finally a “pedometer” I like!

Years ago, I purchased the Jawbone UP.  It worked perfectly until it didn’t!  The company sent a replacement for it since it was under warranty.  Again, it worked perfectly until it didn’t.  I liked it so much John got the UP24.  I upgraded to the UP2 that latched and then that one failed.  Trying to replace the new one coincided with the downfall of the company and they never sent a replacement (so sad – it really was a decent device.)  We both like the app and features offered.


John was getting tired of his UP catching on things and wanted to upgrade.  With all the UP drama,  John opted for a FitBit Surge.  It has been a very dependable device for him.  John recently upgraded to a FitBit Versa and LOVES it!

Sorry no pic of his watch/tracker.

I tried finding a pedometer app for my phone that had many of the features I liked on the UP.  I have tried too many pedometer apps to document.  They all have slightly different features.  The downfall is that you need to carry your phone with you for every step since they use GPS tracking.  Now the search was on for an armband.  This also didn’t work as well as I had hoped.  Something about doing EVERYTHING with the armband on was annoying.

But I think I have found my favorite activity tracker – an iWatch 3!  I really didn’t want a fitbit when we were making the transition.  It seemed too ugly and big.  So here I am with a watch face that is definitely larger than the fitbit but so much more versatile.  It’s comfortable too!  I also picked the Sport Loop band instead of the traditional Sport Band.   I’m so glad I waited!

IMG_4908 (2)

I’ve had the iWatch for a month now – purchased on September 1 intentionally.

I walked 55.79 miles in September.  121,617 steps according to the Accupedo app (that’s a separate post)  I moved about 4053 steps a day.  Not perfect but it gives me a baseline to work with.

Now to get back up to my 10,000 steps a day!


Guess we really need no-spend months now!

So you know those stupid postcards places will send you in hopes you are an impulse purchaser???  Well, they got to us!

Last Friday we received a postcard from Winnebago Motorhomes.  All it said was “Look at our new models”.   We are were not in the market to replace Winnie (so we thought!), but what the hey, let’s look on the website and see what’s new.

They have our current motorhome floorplan!  It is new and updated!  I happens to be a foot longer with an extra slide-out in the living area.  WOW!  We both said “I wonder how much different it is?”

The Old floorplan


The New floorplan – we have the table and chairs option with a buffet and retractable TV as well as the overhead loft bed.

So we search the RV sites and (unfortunately?) there are 2 at the RV place about 10 miles away.  What the heck, let’s go look!

Saturday we wander over and look.  The first one (2018 model) is really dark on the inside and while basically our floorplan, it didn’t really wow us.  Then the salesman says he has one on the lot that is on sale (about $50,000 cheaper)  because it is a 2017 edition.

OH MY GOSH!  It was love at first sight!!  We can’t believe someone hasn’t purchased this one!   We gush over it and then say goodbye.

When we got home, we measured the front driveway and (unfortunately??) the new one would fit in the driveway.  Now the real dilemma begins.  Do we want to trade up??

Our old motor home is a 2006 with 65,000 miles on it.  Any vehicle 12 years old will undoubtedly will begin to have problems at some time when we least expect it.  We have seen that some RV parks only allow vehicles under 10 years old.  Some also only allow class A.  Our old one is a class C.

After weighing the pros and cons of the purchase, we decide to go back for another look.  This time we are leaning towards purchasing.  As we approach it, someone is looking at it and acting like they really like it.  My gut does a flop and says “you can’t have it.  It’s ours!”

In case you can’t tell yet, we bought it on Sunday!  We were convinced to start this entire endeavor by a 20 cent postcard!  Can’t wait to pick it up!!

Air Fryer Experiment

Mother-in-law purchased herself an air fryer – and got to purchase a second one for 1/2 price! The joy!!

So she gave us one – not that we really need it!  We decided to test it out.


  • The chicken was awesome.
  • It thoroughly cooked a whole chicken in about an hour (35 minutes each side).
  • It didn’t heat up the entire house!
  • homemade gluten free onion rings were not awesome – sorry no pic – they were not photogenic!
  • Cleanup was a breeze.

Final decision:

  • Kiddo #2 lives in an apartment without air conditioning.  We are finally experiencing normal temperatures but we have had 100+F days until last week.
  • Kiddo #2 works really long days – average day is about 14 hours, 6 days a week.
  • Kiddo #2 would benefit more than us with the mini convection cooker.  Cook a chicken on her day off and have food for the week!
  • Air Fryer is going to Kiddo #2!  She is actually looking forward to cooking whole chickens since Costco is too far from her now.  She was spoiled living in DC when it was 2 easy walking blocks away.

Instant Pot purchase, brown rice

We did it – we joined the fad by purchasing an Instant Pot today.  Why??  Our decades old crockpot “died”.  It has several dents and the handles have fallen off.  The High setting is too hot, low setting too low, and the warm setting doesn’t warm.  The lid handle was the recent calamity.  We adapted but it was getting to the point of frustration.  While researching a replacement (we use our crockpot frequently!), I stumbled upon a cookware category – Multi Cooker.


For those of you like us who had no idea this appliance existed, it is basically a combination slow cooker, rice cooker, and pressure cooker.  We have a rice cooker we love and a pressure cooker that is only used when canning due to its size (23 quarts).  Not realistic to use to cook dinner.

The idea of pressure cooking is intriguing.  Cook it under pressure in less time.  The Instant Pot has a 6 quart capacity.  Our old crockpot was 5 quart so not much difference here.

Tonight we tried making brown rice in the Instant Pot.  On the stove top, it takes about 50 minutes and we have to worry about burning or undercooking.  With our Zojirushi rice cooker, brown rice takes about 50 minutes BUT is always perfect!  Even if we leave it on warm for hours after it cooks, it is still perfect.

You get to stay!!

The Instant Pot brown rice was not perfect!  It cooked in about 25 minutes (a plus) but after sitting on warm for about 30 minutes it was on the dry side.  Guess we will keep the rice cooker.

Now to experiment with the pressure cooker feature!

If you have a great recipe for this device, let us know!