Sunday, November 24, 2013

Batson's Favorite Things 2013

I checked out Oprah's Favorite Things list recently. Sorry, O, but I can't say I'm intrigued by almost any of it.

To counteract that list, I'm presenting to you today: Batson's Favorite Things 2013.

10. That 70's Show (the complete series)

You can find this series at various places online, but I got this for under $40 at Sam's Club recently. Talk about an amazing deal! Considering The Big Bang Theory is going for around $30 a season, I was thrilled to see this deal.

I know it's all about supply and demand. That 70's Show ended in 2006 has been played several times over in syndication since then. One day the complete series of The Big Bang Theory may be going for $35 too.

If Sam's Club is offering up That 70's Show for $39.95, I'm taking it!

Outside of a handful of other sitcoms, That 70's Show is my favorite. It's one of those shows that you can put into the DVD player and watch at all times, no matter what you're doing. You can watch it while you're busy cooking, while you're doing laundry, while you're hanging out with friends, or while you're by yourself and relaxing after a day of work.

9. iKlear

I got this bottle of iKlear in 2003. 10 years later and it's still around -- still taking care of business. All it takes is a couple quick squirts of this and your nasty, mangled, fingerprinted Redbox DVD that's been used a dozen times over will sparkle like new.

Obviously it won't get rid of scratches, but it will prevent a scratched DVD from skipping for two hours.

A complete kit is available at Walgreens for $25, but you can get the bottle by itself for under $10.

My bottle is now just under half full -- after 10 years. I'm pretty liberal with my use of it too, so get someone two bottles of this and he or she will be set for a years to come.

You can use iKlear on computer screens and various other electronics as well. The majority of my use is on DVD's though.

8. 3D Paper Christmas Glasses

These are really cool if you're going to look at Christmas lights. They're paper, so they're lightweight, and the glasses aren't tinted, so you don't lose any visibility at night.

The glasses basically turn each point of light into various 3D, Christmas-themed shapes when you wear them. So instead of seeing a regular red colored light, you see a collage of miniature, red Snowman. There are snowflakes, snowmen, Rudolph, and Santa shapes available, among others.

I got my set at Lowe's (I think for about $4 a piece). I haven't seen them on display in the store yet, but they are available at Lowe's online website. I also ran across this link, which says that the glasses are no longer available online. I'm not sure if they are selling the remaining stock they have or if the product will be back in stores this December.

If they are, I'd recommend getting some.

7. Magic Eraser

If you've been a little lacksidasical or maybe in complete slacker mode like I am sometimes, you can get a nice layer of grime that forms in various spots in your bathroom.

Maybe underneath the shampoo bottles? That's a spot I sometimes forget to clean. Or maybe on the bathroom baseboards? That's another spot that doesn't always get the attention it probably deserves.

If you have some grime, there's a good chance -- I'm talking 98% -- that Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser will take care of the problem.

All you do is wet it with water (don't even need Soft Scrub!) and wipe away. You have to use a little bit of elbow grease, but you don't have to wear your arm out the way you'd have to with a regular sponge. I don't know how they make this product so effective. I don't know if they have chemicals in it that react with H2O or what.

All I know is that it gets rid of the grossness. They should put that on the box because that's exactly what it does. Adding to its greatness, you can get a four pack for about $4. Can't beat that.

6. Egg Muffin Pan

I love scrambled eggs, but I hate cleaning the frying pans afterward. Even if I wash it right away, there's this circular egg coating that needs to be scrubbed off the pan. I also like to make scrambled eggs sandwiches. The problem with that is: sometimes those scrambled eggs fall out of the sandwich.

About a year ago I discovered this amazing little device while walking through the aisles of Target: the egg muffin pan.

I bought three more since then and use them several times a week. You break an egg into the container, mix it up with a spoon, flip the lid over the top and microwave that sucker for about a minute.

The result is a fluffy, yellow, in tact scrambled egg that's perfect for a hamburger bun or croissant.

There is some egg residue left over in the egg muffin pan too, but there's a lot less than if you would've made the egg in a frying pan. Plus, it cooks a lot faster in the microwave than it does on the stove.

Sometimes I'll break out the old frying pan again, but, for the most part, I'm now an egg muffin egg maker.

5. Red Robin Tornado Glass

I ran across these cool looking glasses when I was eating at Red Robin a couple months ago. They're not new, but they're new to me.

I usually ordered the tasty chocolate milkshake whenever I went to Red Robin, but when you order mixed drinks, you get a hand-crafted, tornado-shaped glass. Who knew?

Anyway, you can purchase the cups for about $8 from most Red Robin locations.

"We offer Red Robin glassware and a limited variety of other Red Robin logo merchandise. You can check availability or submit a request to purchase Red Robin merchandise by sending us a General Comment through our Contact Us page," it says on

Whether you're putting alcohol, water, soda or milk in that glass, it's probably going to look pretty cool.

4. Blue Parrot Bluetooth Headset

I've been through a few bluetooth headsets. None of them seem to work as well as the Blue Parrot brand though. Road noise was always audible with other brands, but when I got the Blue Parrot, people on the other end of the line couldn't tell if I was outside or inside.

Over the past couple of years my bluetooth has picked up a little more static. It also doesn't completely block out the wind when I'm outside.

However, that may be due to the fact that I once dropped the speaker end of it into a glass of apple juice. I pulled it out right away and wiped it off. Maybe it's in my head, but I don't think it's worked as well since then.

Nonetheless, it still works better than the other brands I've tried. When it comes time to get a new one, I'm sticking with the Blue Parrot brand.

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness DVD

Who wouldn't want to own the best movie of the year on DVD and/or Blu-ray?

At the end of last year, I knew I was going to see Star Trek at the theatre. I expected Star Trek to be good. I didn't expect it to be good enough to warrant three trips to the movie theatre to see it though. Two of those trips were at a cheap theatre, but still. I went to see it three times and then bought the DVD and watched it again.

I'll probably have another viewing before 2013 is over.

It surprised me just how much I liked it. After all, I've always been a Star Wars guy -- not Star Trek.

J.J. Abrams brought this updated set of characters to life though and I'm now hooked. 2009's Star Trek was good. Into Darkness was better.

2. iHome

I've never been one to buy large surround sound stereo systems, whether it's for my car or home. Maybe I'm not picky enough, but the radio, a boom box from Kmart or my laptop has always been good enough for me.

That's why I like my $20 iHome. It's small, it is compatible with an iPod and it's mobile. You don't need to hire a moving crew to transport this from your house to your car. If I'm going on a road trip and want to listen to music on my iPod, I take my iHome with me. A car with an iPod connection would be even handier, but I don't have one of those, so I make do with the iHome system.

This little machine runs on the power of a handful of AA batteries -- 4-8 of them. I use the iHome system about three times a week for at least an hour, so it gets decent usage. The iHome doesn't drain too much battery power, either. I've had to change the batteries out twice in about 5 years. I hate appliances that seem to require a battery change every month.

1. Espresso Pillows

I saved the best for last here. If anyone who is reading this has not tried one of Trader Joe's espresso pillows, go out and buy a can now. Here are their store locations. If there's not a store in your area, order it online (although that option is about double than the in-store option).

If all else fails, bribe someone who can go to Trader Joe's and get you some. Blackmail is an option too.

These candies are tiny, crunchy toffee espresso bits covered in dark chocolate. They pack such a burst of flavor that one or two of them after dinner qualifies as a dessert. The taste buds are satisfied. You don't need a big dish of ice cream when you have espresso pillows.

If you're worried about your weight, don't worry. I think there are about 10 calories in a serving. 1 serving equals about 20 of them. I swear, 20 of them will make you forget all about Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger or whatever other 300+ calorie-filled candy bar you favor.

I don't know what to say other than: they're absolutely delicious.

There you have it. Now there are 10 more options for you to consider before you go gift shopping this Thanksgiving/Black Friday. If you weren't enthused with Oprah's list, hopefully one of these items helped you out.

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