Christmas means cookie time at the Dixon house. In years past I would start early in November and fill my deep freezer with dozens upon dozens of cookies. Not just lunch-box cookies, I would make miniature cream horns, cream wafers, Scottish shortbread and miniature nut rolls, thumbprints, pizzelles, ginger snaps, rolled sugar cookies, buckeyes, fudge, Greek pastries, etc. I usually gave more away to friends, teachers and family than we kept for ourselves.

I was a stay-at-home mom then, and I could devote the time to baking. That is not the case now with all of my duties as TheBAG Lady. Other than Pillsbury slice-and-bake sugar cookies -- my son's favorite - I have abandoned baking this year.

My dear husband has stepped in and started baking a few batches of shortbread. To do it right, one needs a stand mixer. The other night, in the middle of beating the butter, the mixer died on him. So I headed to Kohl's with my 30-percent-off coupon to purchase a new one. When I priced the KitchenAid mixer, I had sticker shock. Even though it was what I wanted, I decided to go with the Sunbeam, which was less expensive.

Upon opening the box, we discovered the instructions book was missing. Still, we set it up, and he proceeded to pick up where he had left off the other night. It was a debacle. The bowl would not lock in place, and it was impossible to use.

We cleaned and packed it back up, and I headed back to the store to return it. For my trouble the customer-service department gave me an additional 15 percent on top of the 30-percent coupon, plus I have $30 in Kohl's cash to spend after Christmas. So I really did well, even though I did not intend to spend money on a mixer right now.

The moral of the story is that cheap is not always the best value. When making a major purchase, buy the best quality that you can afford that will last and give you the greatest value. For now happy shopping!

Laurie Dixon, TheBAG Lady