Amazon Shipping Increase: Will You Still Shop There?

I may be the last person to hear about this, but it looks like Amazon has increased their free shipping threshold from $35 to $49 (on qualifying purchases). That’s an increase of $14 and the biggest one I can remember.

I may be dating myself, but I can remember when it went from $25 to $35 and people were outraged. At the time, Amazon blamed the rising cost of shipping, but what’s their reasoning now? Stamps are coming DOWN in price by 2 cents.

The fact that this change wasn’t advertised tells me that they know it won’t be well received. I for one used to love the free shipping option. I would buy gifts for my niece on Amazon and have them sent directly to her because she lives across the country. At $25 it was a great deal. At $35 I would justify spending a little more to get the free shipping. At $49 I can’t see it happening. I’ll switch to Target – Red card holders get free shipping and it doesn’t cost you $100 a year to be a card holder.

On top of their rising prices, more and more Prime members are speaking out about delayed shipping time. Free 2-day shipping is translating into a week or more to get items because of delays in processing. For a business that makes its money selling and shipping goods, slow shipping and rising costs may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So how will you handle the shipping increase? Will you finally join Prime or will you take your business elsewhere?

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Product Review: Philips Pasta Maker

My family loves pasta, and making fresh, light, homemade pasta has always been a culinary dream of mine. Unfortunately, making pasta is a messy process that requires a lot of stuff. You have to mix the dough, roll it out, cut the pasta or send it through a shaper. There’s a lot of steps, so it’s no wonder most people  prefer to just buy it in a box.

One day I was browsing my local yard sale site and I saw a posting for the Philips Pasta Maker. I scored the machine new in box for $10! That’s a $290 savings off the retail price!

pasta

The machine comes with 4 die (lasagna, spaghetti, fettuccine and penne), a recipe booklet, 2 measuring cups and a scraper device for cutting the pasta as it comes out of the machine. It’s very well built and the silver front you see in the picture that says “Philips” is actually heavyweight metal. It’s solid.

I washed all the parts and let them dry before giving it a go. I added 2 measuring cups of all purpose flour and 1 measuring cup of 2 eggs and water. (The eggs were from my chickens.) I put on the penne disc and let the machine work its magic. It really was as easy as the online videos made it look.

The result? Meh. Doughy. Very chewy. I wasn’t impressed with the first run-through. The penne was very starchy and absorbed nearly all of the sauce I put on it, thickening the rest of the sauce to the point where it was more like a pudding than a sauce. I was disappointed and glad I only paid $10 for it.

I set the machine aside for a couple of days while I decided whether I wanted to re-sell it on the yard sale site or try again. My husband told me to try again and I looked up some tips on the internet for getting lighter, better pasta. One that stood out was to add more water and a touch of olive oil – the tip was from Philip’s own website, so I felt like it was trustworthy enough.

Again I set up the machine, but this time with the spaghetti die. I added 2 parts flour and 1 part egg/water. Then I added a little more water. I finished it off by adding about a TBSP of olive oil. I also stopped the machine and scraped the sides with a rubber spatula since I noticed the first time that some of the liquid ran down the side of the mixing chamber and never got incorporated.

The results were much better. The pasta was lighter and came through the disc easier. It had a slight yellow color rather than the stark white color of the first batch. It was a little stickier than the first time, so I would recommend NOT letting the fresh spaghetti heap up on a plate like I did because it will sort of form a clump. Use a pasta rack or even a cookie sheet with wax paper.

I boiled the spaghetti in water for about 4 minutes, which was too long. There was a thick starch foam on top of the water again. I drained and rinsed the pasta this time to help with that, but it still thickened my sauce uncontrollably. I wonder if semolina flour would prevent that? The texture of the pasta was better – much less dense and chewy. More like the homemade pasta I remember my nonni making.

At this point, I don’t think I have my recipe down yet, but I definitely see the potential. Changing my flour and letting the pasta rest more spread out will help. I’ll try again in a few days.

My overall rating? 4 out of 5 stars. The machine has the potential to be great and it’s definitely easy to use, but I think it requires a more expensive flour to work well. I would never buy this machine for $300.

4-out-of-5-stars1

 

 

Dear Pope: Tear Down the Walls! (Or you’re not a Christian.)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard that the Pope made some nasty comments about Donald Trump regarding his desire to build a wall on the U.S. – Mexico border. His catty and very un-Papal commentary mentioned something about how anyone that would want to build a wall at a border must not be a Christian. We should build bridges, not walls. Blah blah blah, poor people.

I dare him to lead by example.

For those that don’t know, Vatican City is surrounded by HUGE WALLS. It is guarded and the influx of visitors is tightly controlled. They make sure everyone that comes in gets the back out and you can’t just wake up one day and decide you want to live there.

Heck, you can’t even go visit the city if you’re not dressed appropriately.

So instead of making ridiculous statements from your Papal plane, maybe the Pope should SHOW us how to be the type of Christian he says we should all be. (P.S. WTF? I thought you were worried about global warming. Shouldn’t  you be flying coach with normal people instead of trotting around in your private plane? Take a page from Al Gore much?) Tear down those walls that surround the Vatican and open up that luxurious palace to the poor and homeless. Feed them, cloth them, educate them and build bridges. The Vatican is monetarily rich, but the people that would (literally) kill to live there rather than on the streets are rich in culture, right? Isn’t that what he was saying about illegal immigrants headed to the U.S.?

Oh, and no worries about terrorists or security or any of that nonsense. People are generally good if you just open your arms and tell them about Jesus. It’s not like the walls were originally constructed to protect Vatican city from Muslim extremists or anything… oh, wait…

So to clarify – I’m not rooting for Donald Trump to win in any shape or form, but I think the Pope was a wee bit of a hypocrite when he said Donald Trump must not be Christian for wanting to build a wall on the Mexican border and put a temporary ban on Muslim immigration in name of national security. Regardless of whether you like his ideas or not, you have to see how ridiculous it was of him to criticize Donald Trump for basically emulating the Vatican’s security ideas – which by the way have kept it safe for hundreds of years.

If You Want it, Come and Get it.

It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook yard sale sites. Very few sites tick me off quite like our local freebie site.

I’m pretty sure the people that use it only access Facebook once a week, from the library. Recently, I put up 2 freebie posts. One was for a laundry lot (some tide pods, some liquid detergent, etc.). My post mentioned my strange pickup availability and a deadline for when I wanted it out. Almost immediately I had someone interested in it. I posted a comment telling her to PM me less than a minute after she wrote “interested”.

In the 30 seconds between when she wrote interested and when I wrote for her to PM me, she must have boarded a plane for the Amazon Rainforest because she is nowhere to be seen. She didn’t PM me and she didn’t comment again.

No big deal though, within 15 minutes of posting I had 5 people that wanted the laundry lot. One of them had messaged me right away, saying to let her know if the first person passed. The morning after posting, I messaged the #2 person letting her know that #1 had fallen off the face of the planet. When would she like to pick up?

Radio silence. For 7 hours. Since she had PMed me first, I knew my message didn’t go to her “other” folder or wherever the heck Facebook dumps things these days.

So now I’m waiting on #3 to ignore me. I told #2 I was moving on (that didn’t get a response either) and I tagged #3 in the post to have her PM me. We’ll see if it ever happens. I have a feeling I’m trashing the detergents because it’s not worth the time or effort required to get rid of them otherwise.

Snow Day!

Today is my daughter’s very first snow day in her academic career, and that calls for some super special snow day activities. If you’re looking to make your snow day extra fun, here are some ideas on how to mark the occasion:

 

  • Make cookies – There’s something magical about baking when it’s snowing out!
  • Build a snow man – This is obvious, but so much fun! Come in for hot chocolate when you’re finished.
  • Paint in the snow – You can bring some indoors in a pan, then paint in it using food coloring diluted in water.
  • Make paper snowflakes – It’s a seasonally-appropriate indoor craft.
  • Have a movie marathon – My daughter is 6… seems like a Princess Diaries marathon is in order!
  • Play board games – It’s family game night all day!
  • Do a bedroom makeover – When you’re stuck indoors, you might as well do a little cleaning. Make it fun by calling it a makeover. Put up new posters, rearrange furniture and find creative ways to add color.

 

How do you like to enjoy your snow days? Leave some ideas in the comments below.