The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Ferrero Rocher Raffaello Chocolates

ferrero-raffaello I don’t eat chocolate all that much, but one of my favorite products is from Ferrero Rocher. This company makes a bunch of different chocolates, and their absolute best creation, IMO, is the Raffaello variety. This is essentially a round ball of white chocolate covered in shaved coconut. Inside is a delightful center of more chocolate, as well as some kind of nut. I gather from reading product descriptions that it’s a hazelnut, but honestly, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from anything else.

Anyway, these Raffaello chocolates are so good that I don’t dare buy more than the little 3-pack at any one time. Otherwise, I would certainly gorge myself on them and turn into a fat blob sitting on my couch eating bonbons all day! If you’ve never tried Ferrero Rocher products, you absolutely must start with the Raffaello variety. They’re amazing!

Photoblocker Spray

photoblocker-spray Have you ever gotten a ticket from one of those traffic cameras mounted all over the place? I personally haven’t, but I know plenty of people who’ve been nabbed that way. These cameras are usually set up at traffic signals, and catch you for a variety of infractions, including speeding, illegal turns, and running red lights. They take a picture of your license plate, send you a ticket, and you’re stuck footing a big fine.

Some people don’t think this is fair, and are fighting back with products like Photoblocker Spray, a clear substance that you spray on your license plate. It doesn’t look like anything is actually on your license plate, but when a traffic cam tries taking a picture, the substance reflects the flash from the camera, rendering the photo unreadable.

Pretty cool, huh? I don’t know if Photoblocker spray is illegal or not, but from what I’ve read online, I think it works for a bunch of folks. That leads me to believe we’ll have new rules and regulations on the books soon saying that you can’t try to obscure your plates in any way. But until then, I say go for it!

Barry Bonds Replica Jersey

bonds-replica I have a confession to make: there’s a Barry Bonds replica jersey buried in one of my drawers somewhere. I didn’t buy it myself, but a misguided friend who lives in San Francisco sent it to me as a birthday gift a long time ago. This was before Bonds was busted for using an HGH supplement, so his reputation wasn’t as tainted as it is now.

Anyway, I have NEVER worn the jersey at all. I just came across it the other day as I was doing some spring cleaning. It still has the tags on it and everything. Ordinarily, I’d put this up on eBay, but come on — who would buy this jersey now?

So, it’s going to be used as a dust rag for the rest of spring cleaning, and then it will be unceremoniously pitched in the trash. There’s not a player on the planet that I loathe more than Barry Bonds (except maybe A-Rod right now). What a disgrace to MLB!

DIY Shopping

We went to the home improvement store today to buy some boards, nails, paint, and wall brackets so we can complete a few DIY projects around the house. We’re basically making a bunch of simple shelves so we can take advantage of unused space for extra storage.

The first thing we’re going to do is install a shelf in the kitchen for food items that we often use, but that can’t fit in our cupboards. The pantry is not actually in the kitchen, and it’s just a hassle to have to walk over to it for the items I need when I’m cooking. A shelf on the back wall next to the refrigerator ought to do the trick.

Next, we’re going to make a shelf for our iPod speaker system — in the bathroom. Jerry likes to listen to music when he’s taking a shower, but the counter that the iPod speaker sits on is kind of far away from the tub, which means that he has to crank the volume up (annoying me to no end in the process). So we’re going to put a shelf nearer the tub to solve this problem. It won’t be as fancy as the high-end audio racks I’ve seen at electronics stores, but it’ll get the job done.

And finally, I need another shelf for books. As much as I try to stick to ebooks these days, it’s not always possible to find the titles I want in electronic format. So I’ve still been buying paper books now and then, and I’ve got absolutely no place to put them!

Obviously we have a busy weekend ahead of us….

Alden Grace Grand Opening Sale

Regular readers of this blog know that I love Alden Grace personalized stationery. They offer high-quality products at truly affordable prices, and make me wish that I had more occasions to use up my stationery so I can keep buying new stuff.

Anyway, I’ve been on their mailing list for a few years now and always like to look at the new sales they have. The current one going on right now is simply too good to pass up, so I think I’m going to order something even though I still have stationery left over from my last order.

Alden Grace recently renovated their website to make it easier to navigate, and to celebrate the occasion, they’re having a Grand Opening Sale. From now until March 31, you can get 25% off your order by typing in 25DISCOUNT at checkout. There’s free shipping too!

As I said, this deal is really good, so I’m going to get some folded notes that can be used as thank you cards. I can’t wait to play around with the different color and graphic combinations to come up with a good design!

Attention Kmart Shoppers!

When I was a kid, my family used to shop at Kmart all the time. Back then, Kmart and a place called Venture were the only discount stores in the Chicago area, since neither Target nor Wal-Mart were around yet.

I absolutely hated going to those stores because I was always worried that my friends from school would see me shopping there and would make fun of me. Never mind that if they saw me there it would mean that they were shopping at the “generic store” as well; my 10-year-old mind didn’t work that way. So I would spend the entire time scanning all the other customers to make sure that I didn’t run into anyone I knew.

The worst part about these shopping excursions had to be when we went to Kmart and it was time for one of their Blue Light Specials. An announcement would blare over the loudspeakers, “Attention, Kmart shoppers…” and then one of those infamous blue emergency lights would start whirling and flashing to signal a special discount. My mom would always race around to try to get to the discounted item and check it out before other shoppers snapped it up, which was enough to make me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

Of course now that I’m older and have a child of my own, I fully understand the reason for shopping at discount stores. I admit I was a brat when I was a kid; thank goodness my boy isn’t the same way!

Window Shopping

cotton-pants I just got done with my taxes, and it turns out that I owe about $150 this year because I didn’t keep up with my estimated tax payments. This wasn’t a bit surprise, and the number is actually quite manageable — except that my first quarter estimated tax payment for 2009 is due on April 15 as well. So, I actually will end up paying about $400 instead of just the $150.

Because of that, I have to limit myself to window shopping for a while, which obviously stinks. It’s crazy how many things I end up falling in love with when I know that I absolutely cannot buy them. For instance, earlier today I saw some gorgeous area rugs that would look great in my living room, and an awesome pair of light cotton pants from the Gap that would be perfect for summer. But I had to just call upon my willpower and keep right on walking without whipping out my wallet.

I hate that I have to pay the IRS instead of being able to treat myself to a couple of nice things. Oh, well, at least taxes only come around once a year!

Cetaphil Antibacterial Soap

cetaphil-soap I have very sensitive skin, so it’s tough for me to find a decent, affordable facial cleanser that won’t cause irritation or breakouts. I’ve been using Purpose by Johnson & Johnson for the past 10 years, and while it doesn’t irritate my skin, I have a feeling that it’s not a strong enough cleanser. I still get a lot of clogged pores when using Purpose, so it’s not doing much to help in that respect.

So after reading about some different products, I decided to try Cetaphil Antibacterial Soap. This item is not advertised as something that can help prevent acne, nor is it even specifically a facial cleanser. It’s an all-purpose “gentle” soap that can be used on hands, face, and body, but lots of people have reported that it’s effective at unclogging pores — probably because of its antibacterial properties. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

First of all, Cetaphil soap is very soft and gentle. I am always worried about trying new products on my face, but I could tell almost immediately that Cetaphil wouldn’t cause any problems for me. Still, I have to be cautious, so I only used it once a day for the first few weeks, while continuing to use my Purpose bar once a day as well.

After encountering no problems, I switched over to Cetaphil only, and have had mixed results. On the one hand, it does seem to work slightly better than Purpose as far as cleansing and unclogging pores. My face feels a lot cleaner after using Cetaphil than after using Purpose — but that might be a psychological thing. On the other hand, Cetaphil seems to dry my face a lot more than Purpose ever did. I think my skin eventually got used to the Cetaphil effect because now things seem to be ok, but for the first few weeks, I was extremely flaky.

Overall, I don’t think Cetaphil is all that effective at fighting acne, and probably wouldn’t do anything for severe cases. But again, that’s not what it’s designed for. It works wonderfully well as a gentle cleanser, though, so if you have sensitive skin and are looking for a cheap product that won’t cause redness and irritation, then give Cetaphil a go!