Friday, September 5, 2014

Brand Matters

After a somewhat trying evening of raising my tiny mammals - one tearing around the house dancing on every possible surface, the other crying inconsolably unless you hold him on your knee and look him directly in the face AT ALL TIMES - I was looking forward to getting on to my laptop to veg out, accompanied by some microwaved popcorn. I'm that classy. 

I certainly didn't grow up with microwave popcorn, but my husband recently introduced me to it, and it's kind of delicious. We quickly ate all the bags he'd bought, so I bought another box when I went grocery shopping, but got the store brand instead of the nicer brand because - duh - it's cheaper. And it's not like microwave popcorn is some gourmet treat that requires expert crafting. Or so I thought... 

The off brand microwave popcorn I bought is SO salty that the corners of my mouth hurt after having eaten the whole bag (I couldn't let it go to waste....). It doesn't have that little bit of sweetness that the nicer brand has, which makes all the difference. Anyway, lesson learned - brand matters when it comes to microwave popcorn! Most of the time, I head straight for the cheapest version of what I need, but there a few things that I get picky about. Here's my list! 

Handwashing soap - I'm not the biggest fan of Bath and Body Works in general, but I must have their foaming hand soaps in my bathroom. I love the way the scent really lingers on your hand, and the foam soaps last so much longer than regular liquid soap, and don't get slimy like bar soap. They're cheap too! B&BW has a sale about every other day, and you can usually snap a bottle of soap for $3, which lasts almost a year in our house (I'm the only one who uses soap, apparently). 

Shampoo and Conditioner - I never used to believe all those commercials about what such-and-such a product did for your hair or how some women swear by one particular brand. But at some point, I switched from Herbal Essence shampoos to Pantene, the ones that come in enormous pump bottles from Costco. I really like the smell and my hair was noticeably silkier after using it. Bonus points that my husband likes it too, so we can share our hair product and keep the bath less cluttered. 

Yogurt - I am very picky about my yogurt. I don't like it lumpy, I don't like it watery, I don't like it tart. What I do like is Yoplait - it's irresistibly smooth and sweet. I also love the brand El Mexicano, which is a line of drinkable yogurts. Those are the only two I will eat, unless it's plain yogurt for cooking with, in which case I go with the cheapest option. 

Diapers - Those Luvs commercials are kind of funny, but they also make me a little bit mad because I think Luvs is the worst brand I have ever used. I can't remember what I didn't like about them, I've blocked it from memory. Instead, I use Parent's Choice from Walmart, which are the cheapest available diapers that I know of, but they happen to be better than Luvs, in my opinion. I did notice that a box of Target diapers I got as a gift worked better than Parent's Choice, but in general, I'm perfectly happy with Parent's Choice. 

Gum - This is a matter of preference, but my favorite gum is Eclipse Polar Ice. I love the icy spicyness of it. It makes your mouth feel truly cold for a bit. (and pink grapefruit tic tacs, none can compare!)

Sippy Cups - Most of them are bogus, and leak everywhere. But not these ones. I'm indebted to their inventor forever.

Toothpaste - Again, matter of taste, but I finally found one I really like, and Jonas likes it too, so it's here to stay. Crest Regular Paste, opaque light blue paste with some sort of minty flavor. It may mean I'm becoming set in my ways, but you know you're making it when you settle on the perfect toothpaste in life.  

Mascara - I imagine there's something fancier and nicer than what I use, but for now, I always get Maybelline Volum' Express The Falsies in blackest black, not waterproof. The waterproof works well, but a little too well for someone who doesn't take their make up off other than by showering (so then I end up with constantly stiff eyelashes that tend to break off more when I rub my eyes). A new bottle can go on a bit wet, so I try not to sneeze or blink too much, but it soon thickens to a nice consistency to apply, and it makes a noticeable difference on my eyelashes. 

Liquid Eyeliner - Kat Von D's Ink Liner (black) all the way! You ladies know there are a million ways to do a cat eye, and none of them are easy (for me, at least). I like this brand because it is liquid, which gives the line a sharper look, but the tip is a very firm brush (not felt and not an easily flexable brush). My one complaint is that if you make a mistake and try and go back over the line once it has dried, the new coat will remove the first layer and you have to start all over. It also needs to be reapplied every few hours, though I am not one to avoid touching my eyes when I have make-up on. 

Cake Mix - Most of them are decent, but Duncan Heinz (especially the Devil's Food Cake) can't be beat. I don't know why, because it's been too long since I tried any other brand. However, I do know that DH mixes are dairy free, which is doubly awesome if you have to be off lactose when you're nursing or for some other reason. 

Dishwasher soap and toilet paper - I don't have a favorite brand for either item, but I steer clear of the cheapest option; you may as well hand wash all your dishes and wipe your bum with tissue paper. 

Perfume - I don't know if it's the actual quality of Escada, or just the way it chemically reacts with my skin, but most of their perfumes stick to me and remain fragrant (and revitalized when exposed to heat) significantly longer than any other perfume I've ever used. You know what I'm talking about if you've found your signature scent. 

Swaddling blankets - You can not beat the softness, flexibility, and size of Aiden and Anais blankets. They're almost a cheesecloth fabric, which makes them breath well and double as nursing cover ups and car seat drapes. They're finally coming out with cuter patterns too. 

As I get older, I end up with more opportunities to try truly nice things, even if they're hand me downs. Sometimes it's truly amazing to see how much better the best quality products are, especially when it comes to clothing, shoes, and make-up (thus far in my experience). I can't afford to buy the best of everything right now, nor is it a priority of mine to save up for them at this point, but I now know that if I someday have the means to buy great quality products, there are some things that really are worth what you pay for them. 

What products do you buy a very specific brand of, and why? 

And P.S., the better brand of microwave popcorn is Act II, in case you were wondering. 


  1. I can't believe how many of these are the same! I'm almost embarrassed when I go into Bath & Body for a new soap stash, and I don't know why. I guess I think they're kinda cheesey, but whatever, their soap is amazing.

    Heinz ketchup. It seriously has to be Heinz. Generic ketchup is the worst!

    Maidenform bras. I swear there's something weirdly shaped or proportioned about my boobs cause seriously no other brand of bras fits right. Even fancy ones at nice department stores.

    Still looking for the perfect brand of jeans... Someday.

    1. Dude, try Trader Joe's ketchup. I swear you will never go back. :)

    2. How funny that you feel the same about Bath & Body!

      And I envy that you've found the right bras, I'm still on the hunt.

    3. I hardly every use ketchup, but I will have to compare now!

      Have either of you ever made your own? I've heard THAT is the best, haha.

    4. I haven't made my own, but I've had it and didn't care for it. I'd have to reframe it in my brain as "chilled tomato topping" or something. ; ) It's just one of those things.


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