Friday, January 31, 2014

BOGO Cheerios coupon

Hurry, this is limited to 1 Million downloads - go here and download a coupon for a Buy One, Get One Free Cheerios coupon.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

bzzagent product review: Schick® Hydro Silk® Sensitive Care® Razor

Today I got a package from bzzagent - yeah! It contained the product for my latest campaign, the Schick Hydro Silk Sensitive Care Razor.I am very excited to try out this product because it is made specifically for the dry skin that many of us suffer from in the winter months.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Silky smooth legs during shaving and beyond are now within reach!
The Schick Hydro Silk Sensitive Care Razor applies hypoallergenic moisturizing serum infused with shea butter to the skin while shaving and with its 5 curve sensing blades, it can guarantee a close, but silky soft shave! best of all, the moisturizing serum will continue to moisturize your skin long after you are done shaving since it continues to hydrate your skin for another two hours. Talk about a spa-like treatment while shaving!

Disclaimer: I was provided a free sample in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and have not been influenced by bzzagent or any third party.

A big thank you to Kroger for a nice weekend surprise

Soon it will be Super Bowl time and companies will spend millions of dollars on commercials to drum up business. This morning the S. Roxboro Kroger in Durham did something that may in the long run be more effective in bringing business to the store.

I was shopping again for bargains this morning and ended up with some good deals. including the Mountain Dew Kickstart, which was the Friday Freebie download. On this note, please make sure you sign up for a Kroger account and shopping card so you too can benefit from the weekly free download. A review of the Mountain Dew Kickstart will follow soon. It is a new product that combines fruit juice with Mountain Dew and it intended to be a morning beverage.

Anyway, while I was hopping at Kroger, I saw a staff member putting some flowers into the shopping cart of another female shopper and figured that the lady had purchased the flowers and had just gotten them specifically wrapped. But then I was asked whether I wanted some flowers too. I rarely splurge on flowers, but I do enjoy flowers and have planted a lot of flowers in my garden so I can enjoy them throughout the year. Now it being winter, there are no flowers in my garden and so I accepted the offer. I was handed flowers that had previously been reduced for quick sale and happily carried them home.

As I said, it may not mean millions of Kroger funds spend. But to me and several other shoppers it made for a nice surprise. I put the flowers into two small vases so I can enjoy them in my kitchen and the office and they brighten up the place. Again, thanks Kroger  - it is sometimes the little things than can make a big difference!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - some nice cut flowers from Kroger as a weekend surprise!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Coffemate Brew Crew - it may be over, but Coffeemate continues to show class and rewards its former crew members!

I used to belong to an online community sponsored by Coffeemate called Coffeemate Brew Crew. You would get regular surveys about products and could participate in hosting events or submit stories related to Coffeemate. I regularly participated since you would get points for completed surveys that you could then turn into gifts selected from an online catalog.

Surprisingly and pretty much out of the blue, we got note last year that the Brew Crew would be dissolved. But Coffeemate in the same notice stated that the points would be turned into gift cards, so I did not feel cheated out of my time. I realize that a lot of companies start online clubs and initiatives, some work out, some don't. It is up to the company to make the shareholders happy and sometimes an online model just is not working out. Now Coffeemate could have simply ended the Brew Crew, thanked us for our engagement and left it there. No, they offered gift cards from multiple retailers at a nice amount (not the $5 gift cards) and this shows that Coffeemate really meant it when they said thank you for your time.

But imagine my surprise when I found a little box in front of my house today that also came from Coffeemate. I was wondering about just what gift card I would get when it needs to be shipped in a box, but Coffeemate decided to provide each Crew member with a little gift. We got a nice purple mug, a spoon and a coupon for a free Coffeemate product. Yes, this gift package is not the lottery jackpot in terms of monetary value, but it goes a long way in showing that Coffeemate truly appreciates its fans. Will you see posts with that Coffeemate mug prominently displayed on this blog? Probably and I link all posts to social networks, so more exposure for Coffeemate. I will use my new purple mug in part because I think it is really cute, but also because I am glad that companies like Coffeemate are still around that actually appreciate their customers.
Now do not get me started on Time Warner Cable ;(
copyright Durhamonthecheap - a nice surprise gift box with mug, spoon and coupon from Coffeemate!
Disclaimer: I received the gift package from Coffeemate as a thank you for being a member of their online community. The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by Coffeemate or any third party.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Restaurant review: Hong Kong located at 4711 Hope Valley Rd Durham, NC 27707

So this has been my go-to Chinese place since I first moved to Durham a long time ago (in 2000). I have never even gone through the trouble of seeking out another Chinese take out place, I just stick with Hong Kong and their Hot and Sour soup. I usually get a main dish to go with the soup to have enough for two people and lately we have been in love with fried Crab legs and french fries. I know not what you expect from Chinese take out, but it is so cheap, we can actually afford to stop by twice a month and get restaurant quality food at fast food prices. Total price for an order of Hot and Sour soup (quart size) and crab legs with French Fries is $7.90 - enough for 3 to 4 single servings.

So here is a video entry describing the main dish and following are two images of the dish, the second one showing the size of the crabmeat included in the dish. And I should mention that the dish runs around $4 - fast food prices, but restaurant quality food that is always freshly prepared. The link to the yelp reviews is here and you can see the affordability of this place is mentioned several times by reviewers.

My video review of the fried crab legs and fries from Hong Kong Restaurant; of course the phone had to ring at the very last moment of the video. But I left the ringing in to explain the kind of abrupt ending to the vlog.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - huge portions at low prices, enough for two people to fill up on!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - plenty of crabmeat in the dish, all freshly prepared and for less than $4 total!
So next time you are in the mood for cheap Chinese-American food, give Hong Kong a try, cheap eats, freshly prepared to order and filling enough for two people!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bargain shopping at Kroger: Christmas cookies on clearance

Kroger on S. Roxboro in Durham, NC put their Christmas cookies on clearance. You can pick up regular sugar cookies with Christmas motifs for $1 (down from $10) or a plate with Italian-style cookies for $4 (down from $15 for 2 pounds). Hurry, this will not last long!

Best of all, the cookies are good until March. So you can stock up and enjoy for weeks to come. I picked up one of each and figured the Christmas cookies will go first. The Italian assortment will be saved for later.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - $1 and good until March 2014

copyright Durhamonthecheap - $4 and good until March 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Money saving tips for 2014: saving a little bit at a time and keeping a better eye on expenses

I am sure with the economy the way it is, everyone is still concerned with bank accounts and trying to limit expenses. So here are a couple of money saving tips that do not take a lot of time and allow you to monitor your expenses better. I have been living very frugally for years and do not spend hours each week clipping coupons or buying groceries in bulk.

  1. Pay with cash: Look over your weekly expenses for items such as groceries, make up, clothes and daily evils (coffeehouse coffee, donuts, lunch). Then take the average of that amount or even a little bit less, if you want to reduce expenses and start saving more, and take that out of your account in cash each week. I usually go to the bank on Saturday and take out my weekly "allowance" which covers groceries etc. Gas is my largest weekly expenses and so this I pay by credit card whenever necessary. Using my cash allowance I limit myself to this amount each week. When that money is gone, no more eating out lunch or coffeehouse coffee and certainly no more Dunkin Donuts pastries. This way, I can easier limit my weekly expenses. 
  2. Start an expense book. Get a bill organizer with 12 compartments (or simply add 12 sheet protectors to a binder) and start writing down what you spent your money on. I have been keeping an expense book for years and dutifully once a week write down what I bought throughout the week. I sort the columns by payment method (cash, check, credit card etc.) and also mark all tax deductible expenses. This way I can see where my money goes and I too sometimes realize that I may have splured more than necessary, even if I stayed within my weekly limit. This expense book is making it easier for me to cut back on small expenses, like the coffee treat or the fast food snack from McDs. In addition, come tax time I can easily sort through my deductible expenses and save a bunch of money trying to find the necessary receipts. All relevant receipts are organized by month in my little bill folder.
  3. Invest in a small, reasonably priced chest freezer. I have always had a freezer since I was a poor graduate student. How else would I have benefited from really good weekly sales? If they had a sale on fresh meat, I would buy the family pack and store portions in the freezer. The same is true now for my vegetable garden and any clearance items I find at the grocery store. If there is 50% off on vegetables or meat or even frozen foods, I stock up and put it in the freezer for later use. You can get a decent freezer for about $250 and it will pay for itself within a couple of years since you now can stock up on bargains. In addition, you will save time by cooking large pots of chili and soup. I usually make a crock pot full of soup or chili, then freeze portions for lunch throughout the week or to have extra for a quick dinner. This makes it easier to avoid eating out for lunch and also makes it less likely that you will resort to buying pizza every week because you had no time to fix a quick dinner after a long day at the office.

Lastly, do not be afraid to buy sale items at the grocery that are marked down for quick sale to free up shelf space or because they are close to the expiration date. Buying these items does not mean you are poor. It simply means that you know that milk is good for 7 days past the expiration date and the frozen Italian dinner will last another month in your freezer. I sometimes catch the faces of people that look with a form of pity on me when I unload my marked down items at the cash register. I keep thinking that part of what allows me to live a life in which money worries are not a daily routine is the fact that my grocery budget is very small. In addition, you will be surprised how many of the marked down items are actually marked down because a store is discontinuing a line of products and simply wants to clear the shelves.

Book review: Merlin's Shadow (The Merlin Spiral) by Robert Treskillard

The author Robert Treskillard is a self-described a Celtic enthusiast and this becomes clear in this second installment of his Merlin series.After reading Merlin's Blade, I was excited to read the second book Merlin's Shadow because the story of King Arthur and the role of Merlin have been fascinating me since childhood. I often was disappointed by books, especially young adult books, that tackled this subject. But Mr. Treskillard does an outstanding job of bringing the time period and its characters to life in a way that teenagers can enjoy these books and appreciate the story.

In this book, the action picks up from the first book and continues to explore the battle between Merlin, his friend Arthur (the future king) and the mortal enemy of all good, Vortigern. Merlin is on the run from Vortigern and seeks shelter in the fortress of Dintaga. Having lost his king and Arthur still a young boy, Merlin faces more danger and single handled must now protect Arthur and his group from enemies, including members of Merlin's own family.

This book is a vivid description of the life of Merlin. The characters are well developed and the language is age appropriate for teenagers. What I appreciate about these books in particular is the fact that the heroes are real-life heroes, even though they are based on fictional characters.What makes them real life is the fact that these "heroes" are not flawless. The heroes have doubts, grow weak, fail at time and, this is most important to me, learn to overcome failure and doubt and move on.

available at here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third party. 

Bargain hunt at Kroger - a rare treat and then some!

I withdrew my usual weekly spending money this morning and decided to go to Kroger to check out any clearance items and see whether I could find some cheap bread. In case you did now know, Saturday mornings or weekday evenings after 6PM are a great time to stop by the S. Roxboro Kroger in Durham and see what reduced for sale items you can find. They often reduce baked goods, including really good bread and cakes to half-price. In addition, they got two locations in the store for reduced frozen items and regular grocery items. Check the store out and you will be surprised what you can find.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - bargains at the local Kroger store in S. Durham
So what did I get this morning for less than $13 total? I ended up with 6 Fage Greek Yogurt, which I love and especially at a price of 68 cents each. The Jeno's personal pizza was the free Friday download. I have never had this pizza before, but they are available in combination or pepperoni flavor. I bought the hash browns on sale for less than $2 because having the diced frozen potatoes at home is so convenient for fixing a quick meal either at breakfast or dinner. For dinner this weekend, I picked up some baby bellas reduced for quick sale. I love the flavor of portabello mushrooms and they go well when added to diced vegetables and potatoes in a pan dinner.

I also scored for 99 cents a large container of fried ice cream from the Kroger brand. I love fried ice cream and so getting this flavor so cheap is a real treat. Add a scoop of that to a waffle cone and you have summer in a second with that dessert. I also have some fudge sauce left in the fridge and this ice cream covered in some hot fudge sauce is a fancy, but affordable dessert. I also picked up some rolls reduced for sale and this will get toasted, covered in ham and cheese for a quick lunch this weekend. Similar to Hawaiian Toast, the mild flavor of the rolls goes well with warm ham and cheese. If you put the rolls covered in your favorite meat and cheese topping under the broiler for a few second to get the cheese melted and bubbly, you have a flavorful and quick lunch.

Lastly, my personal favorite and a treat that will only be purchased if the product is reduced for quick sale - McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives. I love these English digestive biscuits. I know the name sounds a little bit weird, but these are so good. You only need one of these, which are covered in rich milk chocolate, and a cup of hot tea to be in an English Ms. Marple heaven. These biscuits are quite rich, about 80 calories a piece, and when paired with a cup of tea, the whole wheat flavor and the milk chocolate are perfect for a nice strong Assam brew. Here is the website for these little morsels of luxury. Best of all McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives contain no artificial flavors or colors, and no hydrogenated fat. I am absolutely in love with them. I bought all the chocolate flavored ones, but left a couple of the original ones in the store. They were reduced from $3.99 to $1.00 and at that price, they are a true bargain!

Product Review: Herbal Essences Volumizing Naked Volume Bundle

I was able to sample the new Herbal Essences shampoo "Volumizing Naked Volume" thanks to a sponsored campaign that provided me with a $50 gift card to Walmart to order the product online. In the beginning of January, the product will be available in stores and you do not have to order online. The online order combined with store pick up was really easy. I had set up an account on and entered my gift card to make sure I was all set. Ordering a couple of kits took a few minutes and then it arrived within a couple of days at my local store. 
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the products look like designer products and the scent is great and refreshing!

At the local store during in store pick up was probably the only time I would give a negative rating to the whole experience. The wait was so long because, even though it was before Christmas and returns should have been fewer than after the holidays, I waited about 30 minutes in line because my local Walmart store has pick up in the same line as returns and seemingly customer service in general. Thank god the company in line made up for the wait because we literally had a grand old time poking fun at the "excellence" in customer service we were experiencing, recounting stories of equally disengaged service staff at other places (the local post office comes to mind as usual) and so the wait took less of our nerves than otherwise. But it got a little bit intense when one staffer simply walked away. Several customers tried to call attention to the headless, make that staffless, line that had now formed using tactics such as punching numbers into the payment pin reader or tapping fingers on the counter to whistling loudly. Finally someone asked whether this line would get another staffer, which caused some thankful nods from everyone in line, stopping just short of applause.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - picked up my new shampoo kit from Walmart.
Finally having my package in hand, I verified in the store that I had the correct product because I was not willing to stand in line again and certainly not after the holidays when returns would peak. I took my purchase home and when I opened the first kit, I was really impressed. The packaging was impressive, well conceived by Herbal Essences and nicely accompanied by the inserts that call attention to the main message of the product, the lack of artificial and possible dangerous ingredients for your hair. I was actually in love with the product right there and then because everything looked clean and healthy, if packaging can appear that way.

copyright Durhamonthecheap -great packaging, nice enough to hand out as a gift!

As I had stated in my earlier review, the Naked in the title refers to the total absence of heavy residues, dyes and parabens - all things that can weigh your hair down and make it appear limp. Therefore the Naked Volume kit is great to revive your hair and give it volume that lasts. I tried it out and the hair feels clean, shiny and really looks fuller.

I have applied the Volumizing Souffle per instructions and one word of advice, you only need very little to see a significant effect. This product is fantastic to boost your hair volume and it will last all day. There is no need to carry hair spray along with you because applying the Volumizing Souffle in the morning will last you until the evening. I even got my hair wet one day when getting caught in a rain shower and was worried that my hair would end up looking flat, but the Herbal Essences Volumizing kit left my hair still full once it dried again. Overall, I am very happy with this product. It works great, the scent is nice and you can really tell a difference in how your hair holds up compared to some other volume-promising products on the market.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - I love that the kit contains everything you need for pampering yourself
 Disclaimer: I received compensation to order the kit through Herbal Essences. Nevertheless the opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by Herbal Essences or any third party.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Quick dinner: Mrs Paul's Sandwich Fish Fillets - spicy version

Kroger had several frozen fish varieties on clearance and I picked the Mrs. Paul's Sandwich Fish Fillets in the spicy version because they seemed like a nice variety to the usual battered fish that is available in stores.
Heating the frozen patties up for 28 minutes at 425F, then toasting some buns and topping the fish sandwiches with tartar sauce and onion slices makes for a nice dinner entree. The buns are regular size hamburger buns that I found on sale at Kroger, the tartar sauce is from Aldi, which has in my opinion a better tartar sauce than the name brands sold at most grocery stores. 
So is the fish fillet spicy? Yes, it is definitely packing some heat and prepared according to instructions it results in a nice crispy sandwich that can use the tartar sauce to balance the heat from the fish. I also added some peas for the vegetable course in had dinner prepared in 30 minutes.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Mrs Paul's Sandwich Fish Fillets with some onions and tartar sauce!
So next time you are looking for a fish product that is easy to prepare, but not the standard fish flavor of fish sticks or breaded fish from frozen boxes, try the spicy sandwich fish fillets by Mrs. Paul's and add some spice to your fish dinner!