Danactive Yogurt Drink from Dannon Really Works

danactive, yogurt, health, immunity, systemLast year at this time I was sick constantly. I think the combination of everyone in this office having too much to do, not enough sleep and riding public transportation every day is a ripe situation for illness to hit and spread. I had a cold/cough thing on Thanksgiving last year and was also pretty sick over Christmas. I was also sick around New Years and about once a month until around May. I know there are a lot of reasons one can get sick, but it was really common here in this office last year and it has started again.

But this year I have been drinking danactive yougurt drinks from Dannon every morning since October and I have also been drinking more water. I wasn’t too sure about these danactive things but the package said that 70% of your immunity/system comes from your digestive system. Woah! I didn’t know that. My digestive system is always pretty messed up. I won’t get into the details but it’s always been weird so I figured I’d be a good candidate for this. So I started taking it and I haven’t been really sick since. I still have allergies and I still have other health problems but no colds, flu, coughs or fevers even though the people around me all have them about once a week. I am not sure exactly how it works but I think they explain more about how it keeps bacteria and viruses from entering through your digestive system with these good- bacteria. But that is a sketchy explanation at best.

It doesn’t help that nothing in this office is ever cleaned and and the air is re-circulated in a small area. I have to wash my hands as soon as I get here and after touching any doors or elevators. But I did that last year too. It’s just the danactive that is different this year. I am glad they made this product available I hope it helps more people stay healthy like it has helped me.

July 5th 2008 Update: Some lame-ass thinks this post is fake and somehow a paid ad for Danactive. I just wanted to say that it is not in any way an ad or paid for. I literally spent most of last year sick with a long list of minor illnesses that ranged from sore throats to colds to the flu. I was sick at least once a month and I missed a lot of work. This year I started taking vitamins, walking more, washing my hands a ton and drinking danactive. I think they all helped me stay much more well this year and I did not miss nearly as much work as I did last year. Why would that be so unbelievable that I would blog about feeling better? I blog about everything else. People should really think twice before making assumptions and inventing stories about people’s blogs who they don’t even know offline. You never know, someone might just call you a splog right back.

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Getting a good deal on a new computer

It’s always tought deciding which computer to buy and knowing what a good price is for the options you want. The last time I got a new computer I ended up shopping around for a while and then getting one built for me. I have noticed though that you can get a pretty good computer at a lot less than what I paid a year and a half ago. They can be really reasonable despite all the options. Discount computers are a lot more likley to be available also because the holidays are coming up. If you are looking to buy one soon you should subscribe to some email newsletters from the stores you might buy from. Many places send out email alerts about discounts to members before letting the general public know. Some places even have RSS feeds available that update with new offers throughout the day. This also helps you spot a good deal before anyone else. And lastly there are usually some local newspaper inserts that have discount coupons for some additional discounts from time to time. It’s good to keep your eye out for those as well. All these strategies should get you a good deal on your next computer.

Food Catering for the Holiday Parties

I was at a dinner the other night and was surprised that the people attending were oblivious to the cook’s time and work put in to the dinner and were generally acting very un-enthusiastic about it. And yes, it wasn’t fancy or anything but still, where are their manners? What do they expect? I have no idea but it made me think of what I would do if I ever was in the position to host something and I had to involve food in the event. Two past companies for catering came to mind. I am no cook, not even when my life depends on it, so catering is the most responsible thing to do when food and guests are coming over. One great caterer is LaBelle Catering in LaGrange, IL and another that is good, but not quite as good as LaBelle, is The Perfect Dinner in Oak Park. They both specialize in pre-cooked meals either for a family or catering an event. Labelle has more options, better packaging to retain freshness, better taste with more seasoning and higher prices. The Perfect Dinner has good food, but avoid the chicken and twice baked potatoes because both become really dry when refrigerated there at their store all day. (they cook in the mornings) I have had 3 dinners from there and the salmon and rice was great, the house salad was to die for, and the steak was luscious. It’s just the potatoes and chicken that they don’t season enough or keep any moisture in or liquid. Both places deliver anywhere in the Chicagoland area and with advance notice are great for catering holiday Christmas parties and work related corporate events. The broccoli salad at La Belle with peanuts and rasins is the best salad ever. You have to try that if you call them. Check out both these great food catering businesses this holiday season if you need a caterer.

Advertising makes you less sensitive to price changes

Ah, so now they find this out? A new study says that a lot of advertising bombardment of customers makes them less likely to be sensitive to price changes.  I wondered why I could go buy the same things at the grocery store month after month and the cost seems to always be a little bit more. They must know to blast the TV and Internet with ads and a flashy new campaign saying why to prefer their brand and then hike up the price 15%. Well I guess it is predictable though. If you build value in a brand people are more likley to prefer it regardless of price. Hello luxury brands. So raising the price when it is prefered and top of mind does logically make sense. So we, as consumers have to be more careful of buying things because of ads and careful about price comparison when we are in the shopping isle at the grocery store. Is it really a better deal? Better whip out the calculator and find out.

When did shoes get so expensive???

I was just at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue at lunch because I had to buy a gift certificate for someone’s birthday coming up. It is a store that almost everyone likes because they have stylish and high quality clothing and accessories for sale. It is always a pleasure to shop there and the sales people are some of the most helpful I have ever met. But where do they get off charging $269.00 for a pair of shoes?

Seriously. Who has that kind of money to spend on something as utilitarian as shoes? First the $500.00 handbag came into existence and now they want us to pay $250.00 or more for shoes? I think not!

I thought it might just be one pair that was fancy or by a big name designer but I picked up 4 more pairs all over $250.00. In fact I couldn’t find any pairs of shoes in any style for less than $100.00. What would the people who buy and wear these shoes while walking right next to me on Michigan Ave think of my $30.00 Target ankle boots that are 2 years old and have the heels worn down at the outsides and occasionally slip and I have to catch myself? I’m not poor. I make a good living, I just can’t justify spending that much money on something you will purposely wear on the pavement outside and will get ruined or worn out in a year or less. They are just shoes!

Maybe my black target ankle boots need to be thrown out, but I have a backup pair already waiting. I just haven’t had the time to break them in a bit so I don’t get blisters walking downtown. Yes, that’s 2 pairs of boots for $60.00. Still not even near spending $269.00. In fact over the summer I bought 2 pairs of flats for $25.00 each and last year I bought a pair of flats, a pair of wedge heels and the backup pair of Target boots. All $30.00 and under. That’s it. I don’t buy many shoes at all, and the requirement is that they be somewhat comfortable and black. I only wear black shoes. It’s most practical.

The only down side to this is that I know the shoes I buy are made in China. I hate that I am weakening our economy by buying imports, but the expensive ones at Nordstrom aren’t from the U.S. either.  They are all from China too, just more expensive on markup. So, it’s a lose-lose proposition and I choose the more financially responsible route.

So, I guess I am not the target of Nordstrom’s marketing. But who would want to be? Ok, if you are a Billionaire, go ahead, buy whatever you want. But the rest of us just end up with a lot of credit card debt if we cave in and buy stuff from Nordstrom all the time. So I would rather not have the debt and have my old boots any day of the week.

What groceries people buy…

Last weekend I was at the Jewel food store and I was waiting in a long line with all the other working people who had the 2 day weekend to get all their shopping and household chores finished and I couldn’t help but notice what other people were buying. I get picked on a fair amount among friends and relatives for not knowing how to cook. I can boil and egg, make fried eggs, scrambled eggs, an omlette, pancakes, french toast and bake cookies but that’s about it. If it’s not for breakfast or with an egg I probably can’t cook it. Especially if it involves meat and no grill. I am the kind of person who thinks that putting a frozen lasagna in the oven for a hour is both cooking and stressful because I am not really sure how to operate my oven. (although I bought this place 6 years ago)

What I was suprised to find was that it looks like I am not the only one who occupies this category of shopper. And I wonder if I am this way because I want to be, and I find things that are no-cook to support my needs? Or if I was driven this direction by the prepared foods movement that all the food manufacturing companies have invented and deposited in my grocery store? The age old chicken or egg question?

As I looked around at the people’s carts in line around me I saw a lot of similar things to what I had in my cart. Bread and sandwich makings, salad vegetables, frozen vegetables, frozen lean cuisine, yogurt, fruit like apples, grapes and peaches. Sports drinks, mostly by people who look like they haven’t played a sport in at least 10 years, packaged snacks, granola bars, chips, dips, soda, milk and cereal. None of which require any cooking at all.

Where was the Martha Stewart clone with the flour, eggs, paprika, spices, sugar, rare vegetables, fresh meat and freshly grown herbs? Isn’t that what they put in the grocery store commericals and print ads??

So, we still have that image of a grocery store as a place to buy raw ingredients but we don’t actually buy them. Why don’t they advertise grocery stores as no-cook grocery stores? That would be a niche for people like me. Nothing for me that isn’t coming out of a cardboard box please. Oh right, those stores are called convienient stores.

I wonder if it is our societal laziness and procrastination that leads us to this place where we consume foods manufactured with ingredients from China (which has no FDA regulations) and consume additives that we can’t pronounce while trusting the agribusiness and food manufacturing companies the whole time. We really have no idea what the effect will be on the lifespan of our generation who was raised on Chef Boyardee rather than Chef Mom the cook. Will average expected lifespans shorten? Will we all shrivel into a lump of red number 5?

I am not sure, but if I can be a Martha Stewart fan and not know how to cook a chicken to save my life it is possible that at some point the grocery stores won’t carry the ingredients anymore and only pre-prepared foods. I think sometimes that living more organic and less processed would be good for me and for our country as a whole, but alas, I have no idea how to do that and working 50 hrs a week doesn’t really allow for a cooking class. So I guess I am not going to find out…

Christmas Shopping already? Yes!

Yes, I am thinking about the holidays and shopping already. I have started to make a list of gifts for family and friends but what I actually get will depend on what is available as I save money across the next few months. I know that friends, parents, significant others, siblings and coworkers are hard to buy for depending on what they like and do for fun. I have always taken pride in being able to find unique gifts that are particularly fitting to each person and are exactly what they need and want. So this year should not be any exception. Here are some tips I use for always getting good presents for people I know.

First off, I use online shopping coupons any time they are available. You can do a google search for the store you need when you are at checkout and find what you need to save an extra 10% or get free shipping.

Second, I try and take note of anything that people are interested in as hobbies or sports to find something within the range that they would like. I also listen closely about if they need something mundane but important and they haven’t had the time or money to get it.

Lastly, if they are the person who has it all and nothing is of particular interest, or they live far away, I usually go with a gift card certificate for a store they like. Target Coupons, Old Navy Coupons and Amazon Coupons are always great for most people.