The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Tax refund is here

I just received my tax refund for $232. That’s not bad, I guess, but I always get the feeling that I’m missing out on deductions that I could/should be taking. I currently do my taxes on my own using free software, so if anything’s wrong, it’s entirely on me.

Maybe next year I should have some pros go over my books and file my return for me. That way, I can review what they do and make the same moves in subsequent years. I’ve heard good things about russalleninc.com, so I might just send them an inquiry. It can’t hurt — and might even result in a lower tax liability, which of course would be a win!

Cast Iron Cookware

I’m not much of a cook, but one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to make at least seven more “elaborate” meals. (Obviously, for someone who tends to survive on BBQ chicken and meatloaf, my definition of “elaborate” will be quite different from yours.)

Anyway, something I’ve noticed on a bunch of the cooking sites and message boards I’ve been checking out is that most everyone seems to recommend using cast iron cookware. Apparently this makes a huge difference in taste as well as preparation. I just have the cheapest cookware I could find at Wal-Mart, so I wouldn’t really know.

Just to test this theory out, I’m thinking about buying a small cast iron skillet to start with. If I like it and if it’s easy enough to care for, then I might move on to additional accessories.

So now I just have to find a cheap one…!

Saxophone for Beginners

Now that my son has been taking guitar and keyboard/piano lessons for a while, one of his cousins wants in on the musical action. But this boy, who’s 12 years old, wants to play the saxophone instead of guitar. So of course my sister and her husband have been searching high and low for a good beginners sax.

I don’t know if they’re actually going to end up buying one, but I’ll send them the link above just in case.

And now we need to start recruiting a few more of the cousins so we can get a real band going!

Cyber Monday Deals — Happening Now

Were you able to take advantage of any Cyber Monday deals today? I was pretty busy for the most part, so I didn’t have a chance to look around much. I checked the usual suspects, like eBay, Amazon, Overstock, etc. but nothing really caught my eye. I haven’t bought anything yet; however, there are still several shopping hours left in the day, so who knows what will happen between now and midnight!

Happy Thanksgiving!

No shopping post today. I just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re able to spend the day with loved ones. And as you enjoy a massive feast while watching football on TV, please do take a moment to reflect on all the blessings in your life and give sincere thanks for what you have.

(BTW, if you’re planning to camp out for some kind of Black Friday shopping deal, stay warm and stay safe!)

iPad Air vs iPad Mini Retina

I’m thinking about getting a new iPad, as I’ve had my iPad 2 for a while now and want to pass it on to a family member to replace his incredibly sluggish first gen iPad.

Of course, Apple just released some new models, including the iPad air and the iPad Mini with retina display. From what I’ve read, the two devices are virtually the same in every respect — except for screen size. The iPad Air gives you slightly more real estate at a cost of $100 above the Mini price.

I’m currently leaning towards the iPad Air, especially since I do a lot of work on the device. I can’t imagine trying to use a small screen all day for my spreadsheets and word processing documents. I often struggle with the iPad 2′s screen size as it is.

Anyway, I’m going to take a closer look at these two products the next time I visit the Apple store. I know I’ll end up getting one of them. I just don’t know for sure yet which it’s going to be.

Gore-Tex Rain Gear

I just spent about $175 on a Gore-Tex rain jacket and hat so I can keep up my outdoor running routine even in bad weather. Now I’m scouring the weather forecast for the next rainy day so I can test out my new purchases. Usually I hate rain, but I’m crossing my fingers for some now!

Merrell Pace Glove Review

I’ve been running in my Merrell Pace Glove shoes for two weeks now and feel ready to pass final judgment on the product. I can’t continue using these shoes.

I actually like a lot of things about them: the zero-drop heel, the soft and flexible upper, etc. But what makes these shoes unwearable for me (at least for running) is how hard the soles are. My big toe mound (sorry, don’t know the medical term for the area) really suffered whenever I hit the ground in these Merrell Pace Glove shoes. Long runs of more than 10km became unbearable because of the pain.

I’m a forefoot striker and am used to minimalist shoes, so my problem isn’t a matter of experience. I really wanted to like Merrell, but the Pace Glove just doesn’t fit my style.