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MX Lava Custard Mooncake

Mid-Autumn Festival is on Friday, September 13th. Not only did we buy our mooncakes early this year, we already finished our entire box. Instead of the usual mooncakes, I tried a box of MX Lava Custard Mooncakes 美心流心奶黃月餅. So good.

I find that the standard mooncakes with lotus paste and salted yolk to be heavy and dense. One sliver is more than enough. And, at the end of the night, I am begging the guests to take the leftovers home.

In contrast, these are light and bite-sized. The serving recommendation is to re-heat for a few seconds in the microwave. It does make a difference in the temperature of the mooncake, but the center doesn’t much change texture. At first, I was expecting the custard to stream out like with a chocolate lava cake. I tried varying the heating times, but no amount of heating produces that effect. Still, it’s a great alternative to the traditional mooncake and a perfect size for a snack.

Marina is selling the MX Lava Custard Mooncake for $59.99. That was the best price I found. 99 Ranch was selling the same mooncakes for $72.99.



It’s March already. TurboTax Deluxe + State 2018 Tax Software is the version for most people and includes one state download. TurboTax Premier + State 2018 Tax Software adds guidance for investments and rental property . Finally, TurboTax Home & Business + State 2018 Tax Software adds features for the self-employed and independent contractors.

While I really appreciate the convenience of Costco, I prefer some purchases to go through Amazon just because I have an online record of all my previous orders.


Contigo 20 oz Thermalock Water Bottle

The Contigo Thermalock water bottle is a great deal at Costco. With a capacity of 2½ cups, it keeps my cold drinks cold throughout the day and allows me to monitor my fluid intake more easily. This was my first insulated water bottle. Of course, the first thing I did was test whether it could keep cold drinks and hot drinks at a stable temperature. It works so well that I have not grabbed my other uninsulated water bottles at all.

The positives are (1) it’s insulated; (2) the $6.50 per bottle price; and (3) the strap that keeps the cap attached. The design is a bit utilitarian. Not as good looking as the S’well, but also not four times as expensive either.


Lexar SSD at Costco

Costco is selling a 512GB Lexar Portable SSD (SL100) for $124.99. That’s an odd product since the SSD really shines as an internal drive. For an external drive, I’d rather pick-up a large capacity external hard drive than a bunch of smaller capacity SSDs.

There are quite a few listings on Amazon and eBay reselling this unit for a lot more. And all they show is the cardboard placeholder from Costco.

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iPad Pro at Costco

Apple sells the 128GB iPad Pro with Wi-Fi for $949.00. Today, I spotted the iPad Pro for sale at Costco for $896.99, a savings of $52.01. On Amazon, I see it selling for $100 above Apple’s listed price from 3rd party retailers (but fulfilled by Amazon).



Lodge Cast Iron Skillets at Costco

Costco is selling a set of Lodge cast iron skillets for $36.99. The skillets come in 10.25-inch and 12-inch sizes. I started using the 12-inch one at first, but switched over to the 10.25-inch skillet just because I had a lid that fit that skillet perfectly.

For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of getting a cast iron skillet, but avoiding it at the same time. My concerns were about the (1) weight, (2) bare handle, and (3) maintenance.

Lodge Cast Iron SKillet

In terms of weight, I don’t find using the skillet to be too strenuous. I leave it on the stove top, and don’t touch it too much while cooking. As for the bare handle, Lodge included two silicone handle holders. However, I did see some heat damage to the silicone handle holder after one week of use.

As for maintenance, the skillet comes preseasoned. The pan isn’t too difficult to clean and adding a light coat of oil after cleaning has been sufficient so far.


Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream at Costco

For a long time, I wasn’t sure if the manufacturer’s instant rebates at Costco were true discounts. After some tracking, I’ve concluded that they are. So, when I see a temporary discount, I usually stock up on that item.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

Now back to the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. Last year, Costco was selling the same item for $11.49 – $4.25 = $7.24. A year later, the original price has dropped 50 cents, but the manufacturer’s instant rebate was reduced by 25 cents, leaving a net savings of 25 cents.

I am always pleasantly surprised when prices go down.


FileMaker Pro 14

FileMaker alerted me that a new version was available. When I looked at the pricing webpage, I had an Adobe déjà vu moment when the prices were displayed per user per month. However, when I scrolled just past the middle of the page, FileMaker showed me the individual pricing. For FileMaker Pro 14, FileMaker charges $329 for the full download, $349 for download with CD/DVD, $196 for the upgrade download, and $216 for the upgrade download with CD/DVD.

On Amazon, the FileMaker Pro 14 Upgrade Download Mac [Download] is also $196. However, the FileMaker Pro 14 UPG Retail Box version is $177.99. I don’t understand how the retail box version could be priced lower than the download version. While the retail box version is $18 cheaper than the download, we have to factor in sales tax. My local sales tax rate is 8.75%, which will be assessed on the retail box, but not the electronic download. The final price will be $193.56 for the retail box and $196.00 for the download.

So, the electronic download costs $2.44 more, and can be downloaded instantly either from Amazon or FileMaker. Since the pricing is the same, you get to decide whether the money is split between FileMaker and Amazon, or whether FileMaker gets to keep the whole pot.

For the retail box, you save a couple bucks and get the product in a couple of days. The local government gets $15.57. Of course, the amount depends on your location. For states that do not collect sales tax, the retail box would be the counter-intuitive bargain.


Wang Noodles

I first discovered Wang fresh noodles at 99 Ranch Market. The noodles come in three varieties, udon (thick), knife-cut (flat), and somen (thin). My favorite are the thicker udon or knife-cut noodles. Now, 99 Ranch is not exactly the Asian Whole Foods.


So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Korean supermarkets (i.e., Galleria and Hankook) were selling this same brand of noodles for less. Much less. $2.99 instead of $5.39. I would expect that supermarkets would have a 10-15% price difference on certain items, but for 99 Ranch, of all places, to charge 80% more was quite shocking!


Ever since I discovered this, I have been checking noodle prices every time and this price disparity is quite consistent.


TurboTax: Amazon v. Costco

With just over a week before tax day, I was asked if I had purchased TurboTax yet. Since Costco is usually quite competitive, I had taken a photo of the TurboTax kiosk a few weeks back.


Amazon was selling TurboTax Premier for $54.99. At first glance, the price may seem to be the same. However, if you look at the footnote on the Costco price tag, it says, “Sales Tax on the pre-rebate price.” At the local Costco, a sales tax rate of 8.75% translates into a sales tax of $6.12.

On Amazon, you have two options. You can purchase TurboTax as a CD or as a download. As a CD, the sales tax will be $4.81, so you will already be saving $1.31. However, if you purchase TurboTax as a download, California will not assess any sales tax on the transaction.

Your sale of electronic data products such as software, data, digital books (eBooks), mobile applications, and digital images is generally not taxable when you transmit the data to your customer over the Internet or by modem. However, if as part of the sale you provide your customer with a printed copy of the electronically transferred information or a backup data copy on a physical storage medium such as a CD-ROM, your entire sale is usually taxable.

See Publication 109, Internet Sales.