Bloglet: Ramblin’ Ramblin’

April 30, 2011

We gave our neighbors a ride into Madison yesterday and decided to maximize our almost $4 a gallon gas usage by running some errands.

It all worked out beautifully because we ended up on the east side of town.

First, we stopped at the Habitat ReStore. This place is the mecca of all us lower middle-income folks remodeling on a shoestring. (You also see a lot of tradesman with rental properties haunting the place.) My husband needed some flat hinges and another set of bi-fold closet doors to complete a Murphy bed project for one our sons who lives in a tiny city studio apartment. The doors cost about $3 a pair, and he is using them for the sides, top, and doors of the wall cabinet he is constructing. I also found some replacement suction cups with hooks for rehanging a window birdfeeder that keeps (annoyingly) falling down.

We almost scored on a water saving toilet. I called home on our ($19.99) Trac phone to get feedback from my husband. I was pretty sure of what we would need but wanted to be sure that he thought we should spend the money right now.  They were selling tanks for $20 and bowls for $30. (We paid over $300 for out Kholer toilet. It was most expensive part of our bathroom remodel.) Unfortunately, the tanks didn’t match the bowls, and the parts aren’t interchangeable.  You could search and buy a tank for the bowls, but the Kohler tanks had discontinued bowls! The potty parts were causing such a ruckus that they finally took them off the floor. Too many people were asking questions and running the volunteers ragged! (These water-saving toilets are expensive but pay for themselves eventually.)

Then we stopped at an appliance parts and service shop to pick up a replacement part for a dehumidifier I found last year. I paid $30 for it and another portable late-model unit. (My husband completely finished the basement about 10 years ago, but it always needs to be dehumidified from spring to fall so things don’t start smelling mossy.)  The part cost $6 and now the dehumidifier works fine.

Since we were in the neighborhood and in need of a new microwave (See my April 18, 2011 bloglet, “The Days After the Microwave Died. “), we stopped at the Maytag Clearance store to see what they had “in stock.” They had two countertop models and a bunch of over-the-range hanging units. Hanging models can be used on the counter if you remove the light bulb. (You don’t want to accidentally turn it on and scorch your counter or start a fire.) Some people will hang them under a cupboard if they have room. They are quite bulky because of the fan and light underneath.

After another call home, I chose the smaller of the two countertop models. I rejected the Kitchen Aid because it has a bad repair history according to Consumer Reports. (It is important to do your homework before buying any kind of appliance or housewares.) The new Whirlpool microwave cabinet is bent a bit out of shape, but it works fine and has a one-year warrantee just like all other new products Maytag sells. It cost a little over $70, which is a good price for a new name-brand nuker. (Yes, you can pick up comparable microwaves at garage sales for a lot less, but I’ve been burned before and it costs money to dispose of them.)

It turned out to be a pretty good trip to town. Begonia

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