1. James Foods Caterer’s Select Chicken Pot Pie – Just discovered this fabulous product last week at my local Bi-Lo (the company tells me Ingles, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion carry their products, too). The pie provided four ample servings and costs around $8, so it’s a great value, but more importantly, it tastes like your grandmother made it! Even my son commented on the flaky, tasty crust—and he is not a man to notice things like that. Plenty of chicken, bright, plump peas and carrots, well seasoned, and went from frozen to dinner plates in an hour and a half. Not low-cal or low-fat, but it is a pie, after all! I’m keeping several in my freezer from now on.
2. Diner’s Choice Orange Herbal Tea – Found this little jewel of a bargain in Big Lots back in the fall. Amazingly, they’ve had it in stock ever since, but I live in fear that one day, I won’t be able to find it, so I’m trying to track down the manufacturer. It’s excellent tea—smells heavenly, has the perfect amount of orange flavor, and it is A DOLLAR A BOX. Yep, 18 cups of morning bliss for a buck. Sorry, Twinings; you’ve lost me as a customer for a while.
3. Jolly Time Healthy Pop Crispy White Naturally Flavored Microwave Pop Corn – I like my popcorn pure—no butter, no oil, and no (or minimal) salt. Do you know how hard that is to find? Thank you, Jolly Time, for giving me what I want. 250 calories for the entire bag (3 bags to a box), and if I add thirty seconds to the “Popcorn” setting on my microwave, virtually every kernel pops into a beautiful, white fluffy…um…whatever popcorn becomes when it’s not a kernel anymore. Bonus: Jolly Time is a family owned company and has a great website: http://www.jollytime.com/.
4. Pantene Ice Shine Shampoo – I’ve used Pantene products off and on over the years and found them to be good, if not electrifyingly different. I’ve also been known to ask women with gorgeous hair what kind of hair products they use and, very often, the answer is “Pantene.” Ironically, almost every stylist I’ve ever known condemns it as a horrible brand which will ruin your hair; not sure why unless they view it as a threat to their own ridiculously overpriced products. In any case, I bought my first bottle of Ice Shine about a year ago because the clean, clear packaging was so appealing. It is awesome shampoo—for my hair, at least—which is long and fine. People actually comment on how shiny my hair is! (Lots of other positive experiences with it reported on Epinion.) Besides being shiny, my hair also feels healthier than it ever has, and it’s easier to manage. I have a brilliant and gifted stylist (bless you, Natalie Brown!) who deserves much of that credit, but I think Ice Shine deserves some, too. So imagine my utter horror when I discovered that Pantene has discontinued this product!! Go figure. But that explains why there are bucket loads of it sitting at Big Lots; stock up, people!
5. Glad Press’n Seal Wrap – I’ve lost my religion more than once trying to put plastic wrap on a bowl of leftovers that wasn’t made of glass or CorningWare. And what’s the point of covering it with aluminum foil if you have to replace that with plastic wrap to reheat it? Press ‘n Seal is a miracle product. It saves frustration, time, and money, because it sticks to ANYTHING, instantly and easily. It even has a little stretch to it so you can eke out that extra eighth of an inch you need to seal things up tight. I am amazed how many people I talk to who don’t know about this product. Hie thee to the paper goods aisle! You and your leftovers will thank me. It comes in handy for a thousand other tasks as well; check out some creative ideas here!
6. International Delight French Vanilla Coffee Creamer – I love chai, but I refuse to pay $4+ for a cup of flavored water and a squirt of steamed milk. With this yummy stuff, I don’t have to. One tea bag, a cup of hot water, and a dollop of Delight, and I am a happy girl. They make lots of other mouthwatering flavors, but I keep coming back to this one. Other brands are not as good; accept no substitutes! Next time you’re cold, try this tasty warm-up: a packet of hot chocolate, a cup of boiling water, a splash of Kahlua, and a big dollop of IDFVCC. Happiness, thy name is hot beverage! More recipes (theirs, not mine) at http://www.internationaldelight.com/Recipes.
7. Shout Stain Remover – Other stain removers don’t work. Period. I’ve stopped experimenting. Tough stains sometimes require a second application, but I am constantly amazed at what Shout can do. I got grease spills all over the front of my favorite turquoise turtleneck last weekend (stir fry with no apron; dumb, dumb, dumb) and I was sure it was ruined. Wrong! Just like their advertising promises, I Shouted it out!
8. Blue Mountain.com – My husband once remarked that I spend more time picking out a greeting card than I do picking out a house. Yeah, well, greeting cards are important to me—but they’re not worth what most of them cost these days. Blue Mountain has a huge selection of everything from inspirational to interactive e-cards, with new ones added all the time. And if you don't think you can bring yourself to give up the real thing, you have the option to print out your cards and mail them. $10 a year lets you send unlimited cards plus gives you two additional accounts to share. My favorite features: a reminder service that lets me know when someone’s birthday is coming up, and the ability to schedule a card whenever I have time or happen to think about it, then have it delivered on the appropriate date.
9. Constant Contact – For years, I struggled with sending out my newsletters and publicity materials through e-mail. Outlook was a joke, Yahoo and I almost came to blows, and Google wasn’t much better; mail servers are simply not designed for mass mailings. Then I discovered Constant Contact, an e-mail marketing company that is specifically designed for mass mailings. Literally overnight, my life became infinitely easier. Literally. I was so impressed, I asked if I could become one of their “solution providers,” so I could help people learn how to use this wonderful service. If you send recurring mail to a mailing list of more than a hundred people, Constant Contact will make your life better overnight. It runs about $15/month, depending on the size of your mailing list; you will have SO much fun using their templates and images and features, and you will LOVE being able to track and monitor your marketing materials. If you’re interested, let me know; maybe I can get you a deal.
10. Your Daily Poem – Don’t like poetry? That’s okay; most people don’t. But will you give me sixty seconds a day for one week—that's a measly 7 minutes of your life!—to see if maybe, just maybe, imbibing a bit of poetry might actually turn out to be fun? There’s even an option for a weekly or monthly poem if you don't think you can handle a daily dose—but you’d be shocked by how many poetry-haters have grown to LOVE starting their day with Marge Piercy’s advice on what to do with excess zucchini or Shoshauna Shy’s confession that a foreign accent makes her blood sizzle like butter in a skillet. Hey, it’s free, it’s fun, there’s a comment box so if you hate the poem you get to SAY so, and you can cancel your subscription at any time, with no lip from me. How fair is that?