Friday, March 20, 2020

5 Items I Buy at The Dollar Tree

These are my 5 go to items that I purchase at The Dollar Tree store.  YMMV (your mileage may vary) if you use a different dollar store.  Unfortunately, not all items are a dollar in some dollar stores.
Pillar jar candles... Don't burn that $20.00 candle you've been waiting for a special occasion to light, when the power goes out.  Six of these take up about a 6X9 inch square of space in your cupboard.  No scent, long lasting, uses all the wax up so they are efficient, glass jar candles are safer, and they are 1 buck each.  Store on the top shelf, out of the way, and you will be ready for the next power outage.  While you are there buying candles, buy one of those lighter for lighting the BBQ.  They are perfect for lighting these pillar candles and they are just a buck to buy.

Reading glasses.....$1.00 a pair.  There are serious ones
 or brightly colored ones. 
Buy a couple of each style.  One for the purse, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, one for the top of your head, and of course one to hang from the neck of your shirt.  I have been known to wear two on the top of my head at the same time. But I am fancy like that!! Seriously, if you are over 40, invest a buck or 2 in some of these readers.  Your older self will thank you.
I love these boxes of aluminum foil in pre cut sheets.  They are perfect for baked potatoes or making a packet of veggies or fish for the grill.  No more messing around with trying to rip off a piece that is actually square or rectangle.  Mine always wads up on the little saw blade and the only thing that gets cut are my fingers.  Buy 2 and you will never look back.  Of course you will always need a roll for when you have a large pan to cover but these sheets are perfect for those smaller items.  Your fingers will thank you. 
And  while we are talking about aluminum foil lets also talk about aluminum baking pans, the throw away kind.  If you look closely you will find pans that also have plastic (some red some clear) covers.  These usually come two to a package for $1.00.  I use them when I make cold appetizers or for appetizers that I need to cook like smokey links wrapped in bacon or dates filled with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.  I make them ahead of time but don't fully cook them.  Then when I get to my destination I put them in the hostess's oven for a quick warm up and finish up the baking.
  Hot appetizers are so much better when they are hot.  Especially if there is bacon involved, nobody wants cold bacon.  They want bacon, just not cold.  These are also great for when you want to bring home some leftovers from your sister's house.
And finally I am going to wrap this up with the wrapping paper and bow aisle.  It is shocking what the stores that specializes in cards, wrapping paper, and bows will charge for just a bow.  At the dollar stores you buy a bow, a roll of wrapping paper, and a card for what they charge for a card at those fancy schmanzy stores.  If you sell items on the Internet and use tissue paper to wrap your item before you ship, then you need to check out the dollar store for tissue paper.

I hope this will save you some $$$.  

The next few months are going to be stressful for everyone.  If we all have a little patience and work together, we can get through this uncertain time.  Know that at the end of the day you, me, and everyone around the world will be one day closer to having this  time behind us.

In the mean time
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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dremel 3 in 1 Ultra-Saw Review

Sometimes a big circular saw just doesn't cut it and when that happens, this is the saw that you need.
Roger has been putting off fixing some of the poorly installed patches in our wood floors.  From what we can tell the patches were done when the radiators were removed and forced air was installed.  Some of the patches look like a chainsaw was used to cut the floor boards and then to make matters even worse, they filled the void with plywood.
So when Roger came home with this saw I knew our floor catastrophe would soon be a thing of the past.

According to Roger, he needed a small circular saw so that he could do plunge cuts.  A regular circular saw is too big and the small oscillating saw is too small and the blade gets too hot, too fast when cutting oak.  Kind of a Goldilocks predicament.  
The saw was a good price at 99 bucks and came with the four blades in the photo above.  He priced out those blades individually and the cost came to around 80 dollars.  Now subtract 80 from 99 and that makes the saw $19.00.  Not too shabby.
The saw also came with a nice canvas bag for storage.  Too bad I didn't get a clearer photo but the wind was blowing at a steady 20-25 mph and today it is very cloudy and windy.  But I think you can see that the bag is a convenient accessory. 

I prefer a canvas bag with a handle over a hard shell case because they are easier to carry. Please somebody tell me that they too, dropped a hard shell case full of bits and now have a case that will not stay closed. I am hoping to snag another canvas bag off of eBay and use it for my other two Dremels and all the little bits and bobs that make the tools so useful. 
Right now we are taking advantage of the no snow condition to fix some privacy fence at a house we plan to sell in the fall.  Roger used the new Dremel 3 in 1 to cut off some lengths of small fence trim.  I am looking forward to using the attachment for sanding /paint removal.  That is the bumpy blade on the right side.  I swear I am either removing paint or putting paint on.

I did do a quit search on eBay to see what the prices were for this saw and I did see some for less but then I noticed they were refurbished.  I have never had any luck buying refurbished items.

I will update the saw review after we have used it for other projects.

But in the meantime remember to 

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Presto Pizzazz Plus

Recently I ran across a Presto Pizzazz Plus rotating pizza oven for 5 bucks.  My sister has a rotating pizza oven and if my sister has one then I need one too, right?

The pizza oven looked like it was only used one or twice.  The pizza tray was in perfect condition without any scratches which is good.  It didn't come with a box or instructions but a quick look on the Internet and I found all the info I needed.  So I said 'sold'.
The oven has a heating element on the top and on the bottom.  This speeds up the cooking time and insures that the items (yes items because you can cook more than pizza) are cooked all the way through.
The first item I tried was a $5.00 uncooked, medium sized pepperoni and cheese pizza from the Walmart deli case.  Medium is the biggest you can cook on the Presto Pizza Plus.  Which is fine because Roger and I only buy medium pizzas. But it's not a problem for a larger family or party because you can bake the next pizza while people are munching on the first pizza.  A medium size pizza takes 16 minutes.  We have since cooked a meat lovers pizza and it was another success.
Here are the pros and cons of buying a Presto Pizzazz Plus rotating pizza oven.


It bakes a great pizza.
It is not overly large so it should fit in your pantry.
In 16 minutes you can bake a pizza.
You no longer have to leave the house to buy a pizza.
You can also bake cookies, frozen pizza rolls, taquitos, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
In the summer you can bake a pizza without turning on your oven and heating up the entire kitchen.
Saves on electricity because it is just 16 minutes of 110v versus 25 minutes of 220v.  No preheating with the Presto Pizzazz Plus.
You will love the smell of fresh baked pizza.


No on/off switch.  The oven starts rotating when you plug it into the outlet.  But it doesn't start heating until you set the timer.  We might add an inline switch later if it continues to bug us.

Seriously, I am thrilled with this item.  Next up, I am going to make a pizza using pizza dough from the freezer case and my recipe for BBQ chicken pizza.  If you saw my chicken noodle soup recipe where I use leftover roasted chicken from Sam's Club, this is the same chicken that I use for the pizza.
If you have kids that have sleepovers or you have family movie night, then the Presto Pizzazz Plus is perfect for you.  You can rent a movie, buy two fresh uncooked pizzas from Walmart, buy a large bottle of soda, and pop your own popcorn all for under 16 bucks.  Compare that to taking the family out to a pizzeria, then to a movie, where have to buy sodas and popcorn and before you know it you have spent 60, 70 bucks and on top of that, you had to get out of your pajamas and put on real clothes.  Having to put real clothes on during the weekend is a deal breaker for me.

You can also bake cookies with the pizza oven.  How many times have the kids asked for fresh cookies but you really don't want them to eat 2 dozen cookies.  Buy the roll of cookie dough and only cut off enough pieces for everyone to get 2 cookies.  Place the rest of the roll in a zip loc baggie and put back in the fridge.  Portion control without the kids knowing.  

 FYI....the Presto Pizza Plus has a black tray and the original has a silver tray.  The manufacturer added the word plus when they relaunched the item and wanted consumers to know that you can bake other items with the Presto Pizzazz Plus oven.  Other than that, it is the same pizza oven.  Oh by the way, do not cut the pizza on the tray.  Move the cooked pizza back to the card board it came on and then cut it.

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Installing the Nest Gen 3 Learning Thermostat Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1,  click here.

Now comes the part that gives you control over your stat 24/7 no matter where you are currently located.  Installing the phone app and syncing to your WiFi allows you to lower your temperature setting on your furnace while you are away, so that you can save your hard earned cash.  But it also allows you to come home to a warm house by using your smart phone to turn the thermostat back to it's normal temp before you arrive home.

Along with changing the temperature inside your home, you can monitor how much energy you have used and get extreme temperature alerts before your home gets too cold.

  I'm sure you have read the horror story of a family on vacation in January, who arrive back home to find that their furnace had stopped working, and all the pipes had frozen and burst.  Now they have to gut their home, deal with an insurance company, buy all new furnishing, mourn the loss of non replaceable items such as photos and heirlooms all because their furnace stopped working.  If only they would have had a warning that the temperature in their house was dropping.
Let's get started.

The first step is to download the Nest app (blue logo with white house) onto your smart phone.  When the download is complete you will find the Nest logo on your phone and click to open.

Nest will walk you through the process of syncing with the WiFi.  You will need to know your password or PIN number of your WiFi.  Our PIN number is on the bottom of the Internet modem in the world's tiniest font. The most important part is giving your Nest thermostat permission to use your WiFi.  Once that happens your new Nest thermostat can start learning your family's habits and will know when to lower your home's temperature in the winter, when to rise the temperature in the summer when the air conditioning is running and no one is home, and this will also allow Nest to alert you to dangerously low inside temperatures.

Our Nest thermostat also needed to give access to Consumers Energy and permission to monitor and adjust our usage during peak use time in the summer.   This was done through an email sent from Consumers Energy and was the easiest step of the entire process.

Our Nest Gen 3 Learning Thermostat has been up and running for over a month now without any problems.  The instructions said that it could take the thermostat between 30 to 90 days to learn our habits so I have not noticed any lowering of temperature at night or while we are away.  But to be honest I really have not been monitoring that closely.  As long as the house is warm, but not too warm when we are here, then I have no compliant.

I will do an update sometime in the spring after the Nest has learned what it needs to know and by that time we will have received 3 or 4 monthly bills from the utility.  

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