Costco Shopping – January 19, 2018

5th Costco shopping in 2018 – $32.23 (today) / $181.84 (this year)

As usual, I didn’t buy anything special today. Boring..

I took passport photo today at Costco.  I have no plan to leave country.  I always keep my passport current just in case.

Costco Membership Fee Increased. Time to downgrade?

I didn’t know annual membership for Costco was increased in July 2017.  Since the fee increase took place 6 months ago, 50% of you have already renewed membership with increased rate. But, there are about half of us, including me, who didn’t know about price increase.

$120 plus tax is $131.40.  In order for executive membership to pay for itself, You need to receive $65.70 on 2% rebate check (make qualifying purchase of $3,285.00)

4 years ago I spent $5,249.50 – My executive membership paid for itself and then some.
Last year I spent $2,929.00 and I just received a check for $58.58.  This check doesn’t pay for my executive membership. In fact, I lost $7.12. I may have to downgrade my membership… we’ll see…

I spend less money at Costco now.  I have everything I want (TV, Clothes, Kitchenware..). I don’t have much more to buy at Costco except food items. It is interesting that I shop less at Costco now that I have more money.


Costco executive member 2% rebate check for 2017 purchases
(received January 2018)


Costco executive member 2% rebate check for 2013 purchases.
(received January 2014)

I want to see Milky Way

I would like to see the best view of Milky Way Galaxy possible with my own naked eyes, preferably at some place in the continental US (48 states). I guess I will take a trip for 1-2 nights.  I am willing to spend x amount of money.

I can use your help.  Let me know if:

  • You own or know airbnb location where viewing of Milky Way is possible.
  • If you know places where I can go to view Milky Way.
  • If you know astronomy clubs you can recommend.
  • If you want to go with me or meet up with me there.
  • If you know of Milky Way viewing events.
  • If you have anything to tell me about it.

So far, all I know is that the best time to view Milky Way is Summer months centering July.  I have about 5 months (20 weeks) to get ready.  So, search is on.

The only picture of Milky Way I photographed so far.

PS. Next on my list is to see Northern Lights (Aurora) – This will require me to travel to Alaska or Canada.   After that, I will travel to Texas or New York to see Total Solar Eclipse in April 8, 2024.

Back to work / Song of the Month

My song of the month
Gal Costa & Caetano Veloso – Sorte

There are some leftover candies at work, but we are now back in full working mode.  2017 was a relaxing year for me, except it ended with a bang.

I came to work and got my morning coffee. I set at my desk and played my favorite song of the month. Before start working, I looked at the other side of my cubicle.  The wall looked beautiful with morning Sunlight.  I can see shapes of leaves from a tree outside. It’s hard to describe but that moment was personal and enjoyable. It felt like my whole life story was painted on that wall.

‘Life isn’t that bad’  I smiled as I sipped coffee.

Song of the month:

Gal Costa is one of my favorite singers. She’s in her mid 70’s.  She’s still alive!!  As far as I am concerned, she and her duet singer Caetano Veloso are legends in Brazil and Latin music in general.

She sings in Portuguese and I don’t understand a word she says, but I love this song so much it makes me want to cry.  It’s just so beautiful.

If you liked the song, watch this video.  it’s cute.  It’s the same song live, from 1985.

Costco Shopping – January 11, 2018

3rd Costco shopping in 2018 – $13.12 (today) / $144.15 (this year)

It was a lunch time Costco shopping.

I ate a hot dog first.  I should try that new salad, but I wanted some meat… and Pepsi.  Celery and spinach are for Vitamix juice.  I bought my Vitamix blender 6 years ago.  I still use it twice a day. Chicken BLT salad (2 pack) was for my lunch at work.

Sorry about low quality pictures.  I forgot to bring my camera to Costco.

Costco Shopping – January 9, 2018

2nd Costco shopping in 2018 – $43.76 (today) / $131.03 (this year)

I went to Costco today for paper towels, sugar snap peas, minced garlic, and some salad for lunch at work.

Then I found this funky noodles.  It’s Long Kow Organic Bean-Vermicelli Noodles.  You can do a lot of things with these noodles *IF* you have some basic cooking skill.  After soaking them, I would mix it with random vegetables, or I can put it in random soup.  It’s a fun food product that I can enjoy once in a while.

The noodles are available at Costco Business Center website

Product detail.

  • Bean-Vermicelli
  • Noodles made from bean starch
  • Organic
  • Vegan, non GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Halal
  • 29.6 oz

blendSMART Raffle Winner

Congratulations to Lori for winning blendSMART makeup brush.  Thank you for participating Christmas raffle. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

And, thank you, blendSMART for making this Christmas more enjoyable.

blendSMART is Rotating Makeup Brush that’s highly rated at Amazon and Sephora.  Costco is selling them for $69.99 each.  This set sells for $110 outside of Costco.  It comes with 3 brush heads (Blush brush, powder brush, & foundation brush).

If I wore makeup I would try blendSMART. Just saying…  check it out.

Split Pea & Ham Soup – Kirkland Signature Recipe

I make ham dinner for Christmas.  I buy my ham from Costco, of course.  New years day is when I enjoy split pea & ham soup.  I make split pea soup with leftover ham bone. I follow the recipe that comes with the ham.

Except, I do things little differently.  I put less ham.  I don’t put salt and pepper. Ham is salty already, and I can always add them later.  When it comes to water, I put just enough amount of water to start.  I would add more water as needed.  Starting with less water is much better than starting with too much water – because there is no going back if you end up with thin soup.  You don’t need to think too much about how much water is needed.  You can just eyeball it and add more water as needed.  The soup will tell you how much water is needed. 

To make the soup, you have to be the soup.

Also, I put a few bay leaves that’s not in the recipe.

The soup was amazing good.  I ate half and put the other half in the freezer.

Split Pea and Ham Soup - Costco Recipe

Kirkland Signature Split Pea & Ham Soup Recipe

Kirkland Signature Spiral Sliced Ham

Costco Shopping Jan 3, 2018

1st Costco shopping in 2018 – $87.27 (today) / $87.27 (this year)

I didn’t know Costco had eye/vision health care supplement, Ocusight.  I am intrigued by it.  I will try and see if it does anything to my eye health.  My eye health is not too bad, but it’s been bothering me lately (detail skipped). I will keep you updated on my experience. 

Turkey Jerky is a treat (for myself) for the weekend. Salad is for my lunch at work. Box of chips should last about 6 months. I buy them because they are tasty AND they are on sale. I should not buy any more of these chips, because I want to live healthy and long.  What’s the point buying expensive vitamins when I eat even more amount of bad food.

Instant coupons saved $17.70

That’s about it, boring…  (forgot to buy minced garlic)

I cannot believe Christmas is over. Now I have nothing but work… working forever… 🙁

Costco Alamo car rental VS Alamo Insiders discount

This is a real life example of car rental pricing comparison between  Costco’s Alamo car rental VS dealing with Alamo directly with insiders discount. 

Costco provides rental car services from Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.  I only had time (and energy) to experiment with Alamo. I like Alamo more than the other three.  Alamo suck less.

First, I joined Alamo’s insiders membership 2 months ago.  I now receive insiders discount (5%).  I’ve been receiving newsletters and special offers.

FYI: Alamo’s insider discount is supposed to be 5%.  But, non-members get “Pay Now” discount which is exactly as same as insiders discount.  Basically, I pay the  same amount as non-members.  In return, I receive ton of newsletters.

Below is my real-life final price on my rental car.  This is BEFORE adding insurance, XM radio, etc…

Conclusion – Maybe people who travel a lot will have different outcome. But, in my case, Costco is cheaper and better than dealing with Alamo directly. I had to spend many hours to come up with this conclusion. I should have trusted Costco and saved the hassle.  Also, in my particular case, their insider membership is useless, a joke.  With Costco car rental program, you cut the crap and get the best price.  

Also, if you use Costco Citi Visa card, you get 3% cash back on qualifying travel. I am not sure if Alamo is qualified.  I will be using a different credit card that I get 5% cash back on rental car.

Below – screenshots

Alamo – via Costco. The actual amount I paid was $121.10.  I shall add insurance.  I am likely to be driving in snow.

Alamo – member/insider pricing before adding any extra fees such as insurance. With insiders discount, it still costs $4+ more than Costco’s regular price.

Happy New Year – 2018

Happy new year!!  Good Times!

It’s almost new year, just 4 hours to go.  I am not doing anything special.  I am home alone and relaxing.  I shall make coffee and watch TV. 

To celebrate new year, I ordered a pair of Italian boots from England. 🙂

Please stay healthy.  God bless you.