Sunday, May 07, 2017

Review of Maryland Lottery's Ultimate Riches Scratch Off Game

On April 24, 2017, the Maryland Lottery came out with it's latest $1,000,000 prize scratch off game called Ultimate Riches. Like all $1,000,000 prize games, the tickets sell for $20 each. The game features 5 so called games with 25 chances to win a prize though the thing that really matters in my opinion is the overall odds of winning which are 1 in 2.96 (Source: one of the tickets I bought with my own money i.e. I don't get paid any compensation from the Maryland Lottery and I don't have any connection with them) which is average for this kind of scratch off game. Most games of this sort tend to have an overall odds of winning of 1 in 3.

The tickets resemble Maryland Lottery's previous game called Instant Millionaire with a winning number at the top of 5 columns and 5 numbers below each winning number. You try to make the winning number with 1 of the numbers below in 1 or more of the columns/games. There is 1 big difference in the Ultimate Riches tickets vice the previous Instant Millionaire game - there isn't any chance of an instant win. In the Instant Millionaire game, Maryland Lottery offered the player a chance at instantly winning either $100 or $50. In the Ultimate Riches game, there isn't ANY instant win feature which is a surprise to me. It's common to have one in the games I've seen.

Top prizes for the game are $1,000,000; $50,000; and $10,000. Interestingly, the Maryland Lottery continues its trend of offering more top prizes in the $1,000,000 prize games. It used to be standard that there would be 3 such prizes. In this game, the Maryland Lottery offers 7! Also, they offer 13 $50,000 prizes and offered 59 $10,000 prizes (there are 57 left at the time of this post). Keep in mind, that with more top prizes, there will be more tickets put out overall for the game (based on the increased number of prizes I've seen and the overall odds of winning anything). One nice thing for those who like this game is that it also means the game will be out longer because of the increased number of tickets.

Overall, the only thing I was impressed with concerning this game was the increase in $1,000,000 prizes. Otherwise, this is a pretty boring game though if you want a game where you'll find out quickly if you won or not, this might be the game for you. This game doesn't take a lot of time to play unlike other games like Maryland Lottery's $2,000,0000 Fortune game where you have to check 40 numbers to see if you matched. Due to the high number of tickets, this game should be very easy to find throughout Maryland. Good luck to all players out there!

Ben Ami Chardonnay Review

While on a champagne buying trip at Total Wine & More in Laurel, Maryland, I stumbled upon some Ben Ami Chardonnay. I tend to prefer white wines to red though I've heard the reds are better for you health wise. Another thing that appealed to me about this wine is it's made in Israel. I haven't forgotten the Globus tour I did of Israel and some of my incredible adventures there then like looking down from Masada or floating in the Dead Sea. So, I bought a 750 milliliter bottle of the wine to try it.

I found it a nice chardonnay. I can't tell you what flavors it might hint of or what it might rate to a wine connoisseur. I'm definitely not a wine connoisseur myself. I just know if I like a wine or not. In this case, I did like it. Also, I felt it was reasonably priced at $14.99. Total Wine offers the wine through Winery Direct which means you get an extra 5 reward points per dollar i.e. 15 reward points per dollar spent on this wine vice the normal 10 point per dollar.

In regards to finding the wine in the Total Wine stores, you may have to look in the Kosher section (they have one) to find it. The wine is certified Kosher (it has the circle with a K in it on the bottle).

Overall, I was very pleased with this wine and would buy it again. If you want to try a nice Israeli chardonnay, you might want to try this one. It's a nice wine at a good price. Happy drinking all!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Review of Progresso's Southwestern Style Corn With Potatoes and Peppers Soup

A while back, I bought 3 or 4 cans of Progresso's Southwestern Style Corn With Potatoes and Peppers soup at the Jessup, Maryland Dollar Tree. For a $1 a can, the soup was worth trying in my opinion and, Progresso makes some very good and easy to prepare soups (see my previous review on Progresso soup).

As this soup is in the Southwestern United States of America (USA) style, I knew it was going to have some zing i.e. be a little hot. That's typical as far as I know of with foods from the Southwestern USA. This one does though I found it to be a good all vegetable soup. According to the can I opened, you'll get 1/2 a cup of vegetables per serving (2 servings per can). Calorie wise, each serving serves up 110 calories which isn't bad in my opinion. The soup doesn't have any Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and is low in fat (just 15 calories of fat in a serving per one of the cans I bought). Each serving has 680 milligrams of sodium for those who are watching their salt intake. 2 grams of sugar per serving are also included in each serving for those watching their sugar intake..

Like all Progresso soups, the soup is very each to prepare. You can place it in a covered dish in the microwave and heat it between 2 and 4 minutes or heat it up on a stove.

Each can comes with a 10 cent coupon for Box Tops for Education which you can give to whatever deserving school so, they can get needed school supplies. I sent a bunch of the coupons to St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota to help them out though you my reader are welcome to send them to whoever you like or throw them out with the can.

Overall, I was pleased with this soup and give it 2 thumbs up. I was particularly pleased with the price I paid at Dollar Tree for it though it can be hit and miss finding this soup there. I visited their store at Springfield, Virginia and didn't see a single can of any of their soups there. If you like a vegetable soup with a little zing in it, this could be the soup for you. Bon Appetit!

Note: the soup does contain milk and wheat ingredients in it for those concerned about such things (Source: one of the cans of the soup I bought).

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review of Maryland Lottery's Uno Scratch Off Game

Yesterday, while playing some Maryland Lottery scratch off games at a Citgo gas station in Laurel, Maryland, I saw they had a $3 game called Uno after the famous card game. I decided to play it.

The game features 21 hidden Uno cards in 3 rows of 7 with 4 bonus cards to the right for a total of 25 at the top of the ticket. Below the cards are 6 horizontal rows of cards with hidden prize amounts to the right. The rows come in 2 card sets of 5 cards, 6 cards and 7 cards. You scratch off hidden cards at the top and then see if you have a match in any of the horizontal rows. If you do, you scratch that card. When you've scratched all the cards in a horizontal row, you win the prize to the right. As far as I can tell, the prize amounts to the right are random i.e. you won't win a bigger prize for successfully scratching all the cards in a 7 card row vice a 5 card row (I scratched all the prize amounts on 1 ticket I bought to see if there was a difference).

Prizes run from $3 to the top prize of $30,000. There are 4 - $30,000 prizes, 25 - $1,000 prizes, 459 - $500 prizes and 5,029 remaining $100 prizes as of the time of this post (Source: the game's webpage at the Maryland Lottery website) with lesser amounts going down to $3. As the game had just come out yesterday, this is why all the top prizes are still available barring a few $100 prizes.

Overall odds in this game are 1 in 3.83 which isn't very good in my opinion though the cheaper scratch off games tend to have worse odds compared to the $20 games which usually run around 1 in 3. I guess they have to make up the money in the game by not having as many winners.

The game does qualify for Lottery Reward points.

Overall, this game will appeal to people who like the card game Uno or who like to scratch as there is a lot of scratching in this game. The game can be suspenseful in that on repeated tickets I played I had multiple lines where I got down to 1 missing card. So, I kept wondering each time I scratched if the needed missing card was going to show up. On my fourth go at this game, it did (won $3). I found it a nice game though I confess I like Maryland Lottery's Treasure Island $3 game better (see my earlier review on this game). Like the Treasure Island game, I'd recommend you double check your ticket to make sure it's a winner or loser as you might accidentally miss one of the cards in the rows in the lower part of the ticket that would make you a winner. Good luck to you all.

As a reminder, please do remember to play responsibly. The odds aren't in your favor of hitting it big at these scratch off games though they're better than the odds in either Megamillions or Powerball.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review of Maryland Lottery's Treasure Island Scratch Off Game

My apologies to my readers on this review. I've been meaning to write it for a while and, I didn't get around to it till today. Today, I guess I have a surprise urge to write stuff. Anyway, on to the review.

If you like to scratch a LOT on the scratch off games (I have a co-worker who does), you'll love this game because there is a LOT of scratching involved though not as bad as Maryland Lottery's Lucky Seven Game book they had a while back.

The Treasure Island game was launched by the Maryland Lottery on December 27, 2016 (Source: the Maryland Lottery webpage; http://www.mdlottery.com/games/scratchoffs/ then look for the Treasure Island game). According to the webpage, as of March 18, 2017, the game has five out of eight $30,000 prizes left, fifteen out of twenty-two $1,000 prizes left and seventy-two out of one hundred and four $500 prizes left. Those are the big prize amounts in this game. There are smaller amounts all the way down to $3 which is what the game costs to play.

How the game works: The game has 3 ships at the bottom of the ticket. You start scratching where each ship begins and, you go the direction each arrow points (either up, right or left). Along the way, you'll uncover symbols or prize amounts with arrows directing you which way to go. If you hit a skull & crossed bones with the words Game Over, the game is over for THAT ship. Remember, you have THREE ships paths to follow i.e. you have THREE chances to win a prize.

There are 3 ways you can win in this game:

1) make it all the way to one of the four prize areas - you win the prize you uncover.

2) uncover 3 identical symbols (either a gold bar or key) in all three ship paths, you win $25 for the key, $50 for the gold bar.

3) uncover 3 identical prize amounts in all three ship paths, you win that amount.

At times, even though these directions which I took from the game webpage should be clear enough, I've found I've had to check my ticket with a scanner at the place I bought the ticket or with the Maryland lottery app which will tell you if you have a winning ticket or not (though it won't tell you how much annoyingly). I had one case where I had three $3 winners in a row and didn't know it!

Overall odds of winning in this game are 1 in 3.85. You can do better or worse than that. I've had both happen.

One neat thing the Maryland Lottery did to promote the game is they created a page where you can get your pirate name! I tried this and ended up with the pirate name - Jolly Davy. I have no idea where it came up with this name as my real name is Ron. Guys AND Gals can get their pirate name at:

http://www.mdlottery.com/promotions/treasure-island/

Overall, I've found this a fun game to play vice playing for the $30,000 prize (though I wouldn't turn it down if I hit it to my surprise). I feel this is a cheap game (I usually play the $20 games) to play. It is eligible for Lottery Reward points so save your losing tickets so, you can claim the points on the reward webpage or by using the reward app.

Lastly, please be responsible while playing. The odds aren't in your favor of hitting it big so do play responsibly (i.e. don't play with money you can't afford to lose like your rent or electric bill money). Best of luck to you all!

Update May 7, 2017: I discovered you can use the Maryland Lottery Rewards application (app) to check tickets to see if you won. A big plus of this app vice their normal lottery app is not only will it tell you if you have a winner, it'll tell you how much! This is becoming my go to app when I'm playing Maryland Lottery scratch off games. Also, it may be obvious what you've won in other games unlike this game BUT, it doesn't hurt to have confirmation from the Maryland Lottery on your win.

Review of Old South Pickled Okra

I've been a fan of pickled okra for some time. I've tried various brands of it. My one complaint about the item is that it can be expensive. Talk O' Texas offers a very good okra pickle product but, it costs over $3 for a 16 ounce jar of the stuff. This is why I went in search of a good BUT cheaper pickled okra product. I believe I found one in Old South Pickled Okra. Their 64 ounce jars cost $5.69 on the Walmart website and, Walmart offers free in store pick up or free 2 day shipping on orders of $35 or more ($5.99 if the order is less than $35). As far as I know, Walmart doesn't offer this product in their stores (I don't remember seeing it there though I'll have to check the next time I visit one).

On the product itself, I found it to be pretty good pickled okra. It's crunchy which I like and, they put small or medium okra pods in the jars. One annoyance I've had with Jake & Amos's pickled okra is sometimes they put large pods in their jars. The large pods can be chewy and practically inedible (overall they make a very good product too). Another plus of this product is the price. $5.69 is a good price for 64 ounces of pickled okra as far as I know.

Overall, I've been very pleased with this product and plan to buy more of it from Walmart. I am going to see if they carry it in their stores (stay tuned for an update if they do) as that would save the hassle of having to order it online and then either picking it up at one of their stores or watching for it to arrive via whatever shipping company Walmart offers the free 2 day shipping with. I give this product a 2 thumbs up. Happy munching all!

Review of Wegman's Loose Tea Selection

One of the things Wegmans supermarkets has really impressed me with is their loose tea selection. In some supermarket chains, you'll be lucky if you find any tins of loose tea. For tea aficionados, loose tea is the way to go even though it does create more of mess as you have to clean the diffuser or the tea pot out afterwards depending on how you have the tea steep i.e. does it float loosely like in my Teavana Teaperfect tea pot or does it steep in a diffuser where the tea floats in a holed container (many times of some kind of metal) of some sort. Loose tea supposedly brews a better cup of tea as you can get more of the ingredients in the tea vice ground up bits example: in the Wegman's Masala Chai Black tea blend I tried this morning, one the spices in it is cloves. When I spooned out the tea into tea kettle, I could see entire cloves in the mix.

Wegmans offers an incredible 51 tin selection of loose teas where customers can scoop out what blend they want into seal able bags which you then put on a scale, enter the product code, find out how much your quantity of the tea will cost and if it's agreeable with you, hit the print button to where it prints out a sticker with the name, amount, price per pound, price of the purchase and a bar code that you can scan at the register scanner.

Prices on the loose tea vary depending on how fancy a blend you're buying. Wegmans sells Brazilian roasted mate tea for $14.99 a pound. The chai I tried was $29.99 a pound. They have an organic Assam tea for $35.99 a pound and, I believe they have a Japanese green tea which sells for $99 a pound. Keep in mind a pound of tea will go a long way as you'll only be using one teaspoon or more per 8 ounce cup of tea.

The chai tea I tried this morning had a nice flavor though I did brew it longer than the recommended time as I like a pretty strong cup of tea. I plan to try other blends of theirs and see how they stack up.

I do have one complaint with them though the problem may be with just their Columbia, Maryland store. They can be bad about keeping the stock on the shelves. I visited their Columbia store to get some the mentioned Masala Chai tea and, they were out. A sales assistant told me they should get it back in within a week. They didn't. After repeated visits where they were still out, I went to another Wegmans (their Crofton, Maryland store) where I was finally able to buy some of the tea.

Overall, as I mentioned, I've been really impressed with Wegmans choice of loose teas. They also offer tins of Twinings loose tea which I like. Wegmans in my opinion is one chain that offers one of the best selections of tea among supermarket chains though I understand that folks in the United States of America aren't the biggest tea drinkers. Still, I give them a big 2 thumbs up on them for this. It's one thing I really like about their stores and will keep me coming back to them. Happy tea drinking all!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Jailbreak Infinity Amber Ale Review

When I visit the Total Wine store in Laurel, Maryland, I'll make it a point to try some beer or ale I haven't had before. Sometimes, it's in preparation for a future trip example: I tried Kingfisher Lager recently because it's sort of Indian. It's brewed in the United States under Indian (India) supervision. As I'll be touring India next year with Globus, I wanted to try some of their beer and see how it is.

In the case of Jailbreak Infinity Amber Ale, what makes this special to me is that it's brewed in Laurel, Maryland. I haven't visited the microbrewery where presumably they brew the stuff but, it is neat to me that it's brewed in the town I live in like National Bohemian is special to those in Baltimore even though that beer isn't brewed there any more.

Anyway, in the case of Jailbreak's amber ale, I found it to be a nice ale though I'll readily admit I'm not any kind of aficionado on ales. If I like it, I say so. If I don't, I say that too.

Total Wine sells Infinity Amber Ale in 12 ounce 6 pack cans for $10.99 which isn't cheap but not exorbitant in my book either. I suspect it's not a bad price for a microbrewery.

Overall, if you like ale, I think you'll like this one. I'll have to check and see if you can buy it at the brewery and if so, at what price. That would be neat to be able to take a 6 pack home with you after trying it at the place it's made. Happy Drinking All!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Review of Maryland Lottery's $2,000,000 Scratch Off Game

My apologies to any followers I might have. I didn't realize I didn't post anything for February 2017. I have lots of ideas for future posts and have even done some research for a few of them. I just haven't gotten around to making myself sit down and knock out some of them. Fortunately, here's one post I will get done in a timely fashion.

While visiting my friend Larry (retired city mail carrier) at his liquor store in Woodbine, Maryland, I decided to play Maryland Lottery's first ever (as far as I know) $2,000,000 scratch off game. According to the game webpage, the game was launched February 27, 2017. Tickets cost $30 vice $20 for the $1,000,000 prize games (seems like a better deal as you spend an extra $10 and could win twice as much money). It offers five $2,000,000 prizes, sixteen $50,000 prizes, sixteen $5,000 and numerous prizes of $500 to $30 (over 500,000 $30 prizes alone). At the time of this post, none of the big prizes had been claimed yet.

In regards to the game, one of the tickets I bought with MY own money (I don't get anything from Maryland Lottery for doing this and all opinions expressed here are my own and not in any way connected with the Maryland Lottery), states the games OVERALL odds of winning are 1 in 2.82. You can do better and, you can do worse like I did the first time I played this game (I hit a $30 on my 4th try). The ticket states on the front of it that Maryland Lottery is offering over $90,000,000 in total cash prizes. Each ticket offers 40 chances to win (again according to the ticket I bought). There are 6 numbers at the top of the ticket that you try to match and 8 rows of 5 numbers below your winning numbers. Make sure you scratch all 8 rows (I goofed on this and didn't for my first 4 plays on this game). There is an instant win symbol in the game which is a gold bar. You find a gold bar symbol and, you win instantly whatever prize is below it.

Concerning the $2,000,000 prize, the ticket I bought states that the $2,000,000 is paid over 20 years like Maryland Lottery does with its $1,000,000 games. There is a cash option which will be less than the $2,000,000 you would get through a 20 year annuity. According to my ticket, you have 60 days to decide which option you wish to take (20 year annuity or all the cash up front minus taxes).

For your information, the game does qualify for Lottery reward points with the player getting a minimum of 30 points for a ticket.

You must be 18 years old or older in order to play the game (lottery rules).

Overall, I thought this was a nice game with the only thing special about it being the $2,000,000 prize. As far as I know, this is the first scratch off game that the Maryland Lottery has offered with such a large prize. I know the Michigan Lottery has offered such large prizes in scratch offs as I remember seeing a $2,000,000 game and a $4,000,000 game there while visiting my Dad 2 years ago. Good luck to any players out there.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review of Dollar Tree's Peruvian Hat

I believe this was a very lucky find on my part. I don't remember which Dollar Tree store I found the hat in. One annoying thing about the Dollar Tree chain is the inventory can vary from store to store. I remember this being true with a waiter's cork screw I searched for. You couldn't find one in the Laurel or Jessup, Maryland stores but, they had them at their South Lyon, Michigan store (I was visiting my Dad at the time).

The hat as far as I know, it does have a Peruvian design. A label on the hat says it's made in China. Annoyingly, I can't find a label saying what it's made out of. A true Peruvian (as far as I know) would be made out of baby alpaca or alpaca wool with baby alpaca being softer. I know this from when I did an absolutely awesome tour of the country years ago. I very much doubt the hat is made of alpaca wool though I can't prove that.

The hat does a good job of keeping my head warm and, it has flaps that come over my ears covering them as well. It had cords on the side that if need be, you could tie though you should't have to. The hat looks nice in my opinion.

Overall, I consider this hat to be a great find at whatever Dollar Tree I found it at. Sadly, I've been to 8 or 9 different Dollar Tree stores and, I only found this hat at 1 forgotten store. I wish this hat was more widely available as I think it's a really good deal for folks who want a good hat to keep their head warm during the winter. For a $1, it's an absolute steal. I give this product 2 big thumbs up! Stay warm all!

Review of Dollar Tree's Battery Powered Tooth Brush

I saw one of these at Dollar Tree's Laurel, Maryland store and decided to try it. After all, it only costs a $1 so, if it turned out to be junk, no big deal.

I found out the tooth brush vibrates vice having the brush head swivel. I don't think that'll do as good a job cleaning your teeth vice if the brush head swiveled. I ran into a problem with the battery compartment. It kept coming out while I tried to brush my teeth with the brush causing it stop working. The last straw with this item was when bristles came out of the brush head while I was brushing. To me, this says the item is very poorly made.

Overall, I was very unimpressed with this item and definitely wouldn't recommend it. I give it 2 thumbs DOWN! The only consolation I can take is it cost me just a $1 which is very cheap in my opinion. In this case, I suspect I got what I paid for. Cheers all!