Cash for Clunkers: Appliances Edition

Your days are numbered, my friend.

Your days are numbered, my friend.

Ohh, the things that excite me these days. Honestly, if you told me 5 years ago that I’d be this pumped for a new fridge, I’d have laughed at you.

When we bought our place, we knew the fridge and dishwasher were on the old side, but now that we’ve lived with them for a year, we’re more than ready to replace them. The fridge sounds like an airplane taking off whenever it runs, so bad that if we’re watching TV in the living room, we have to turn the volume up.  If you’re on the phone with someone in the kitchen when it starts revving up, you have to relocate. It’s bad.

And, I wish we could ignore our dishwasher for another year or so, but its time has come. It doesn’t clean our dishes, the water makes our dishes smell funny, and it runs water back up into the sink. Disgusting.

So, if you haven’t heard about it, there’s a new Cash for Clunkers program in the works specifically geared toward getting rid of energy-eating appliances in favor of newer, more efficient models. Consumer Reports offers more details:

As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration is encouraging the purchase of energy-efficient appliances through the $300 million State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program, which will dole out amounts that could reach $200 per appliance if you buy Energy Star-qualified models.

You don’t have to turn in your old appliances to get a rebate, but since the only other option is to donate your old ones or try to pawn them off on craigslist, states are expected to offer some sort of recycling plan. Each state makes its own decisions on how much people will get for the rebate. Here are the funding allocations for each state and the Frequently Asked Questions about the program. Seems states will hopefully be funded by November 30th and consumers will be able to access the rebates shortly after. I’m psyched, mama needs a new fridge!

October 25, 2009 at 10:07 am 2 comments

My Cold Weather Rut

It’s happening again – it’s becoming that time of year when it’s too cold to get out from under the covers in the morning, the time when I would rather grab an extra hour of sleep than get up and work out, and the time when general laziness seems to win over, well, anything else. I’m pretty sure I’ve dealt with this every year since college, but for this year in particular, it seems so difficult to overcome. On some occasions, I trick myself into thinking that I’ve gotten a grip on it by popping up at 6:00 a.m., putting my contacts in and brushing my teeth, and then… crawling back into bed. It’s never been THIS bad.lazy morning

Let’s put this into perspective:

The Bad – when I crawl back into bed, I miss my workout (I have even less motivation to work out in the evenings, so it’s not an option) and wind up feeling guilty. Eight times out of ten, I reset the alarm clock, ignore it when it goes off, oversleep and either rush through my morning routine or wind up being late to work.

The Good – when I get out of bed (and stay out of bed) when my alarm clock goes off, I work out, which sets the pace for my day. I’m energized, feeling motivated and generally satisfied with myself because by 7:00 a.m. my workout for the day is done.

So, I’m on a mission. Drew Tarvin at Brazen Careerist offered tips on how to wake up early, and I was inspired. Well, until about 6:00 a.m. the next morning. But, since I’m putting it out there by blogging about it, I’m officially commiting. I don’t intend to follow EVERY rule he offers up, but there are a few I’m going to try out, including:

  1. Set an alarm you’re happy to wake up to. When I first got my Blackberry, I settled on a cute little video game-sounding ringtone. The ringtone is still peppy; I am not. I’m torn between Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dance Floor” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. Okay, probably Glee’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, but a good song no matter who sings it.
  2. Set a short goal. Anyone who knows me knows that I can be a little hard on myself. Actually, someone once told me that I am so hard on myself, that I must be paying penance for something I did in a past life. Well, I’m going to try to ease up on this by setting more attainable goals for myself, starting with: I will get up and work out 4 mornings this week.
  3. Drink some water. I have no reason not to try this one. I have water, I have a nightstand to put it on so that it’s ready for me first thing in the morning. We’ll see if it works.

Any suggestions for powering through this week? My willpower’s still on vacation from the summer, so I’m ready to put it into full gear with any of your tips!

October 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Things I Love That I Haven’t Bought Yet: Mostly Useless Housewares

Once in a while I stumble upon these websites that have the most creative, fun, and slightly kitchy products, and I want to scoop them up either for myself or for friends and family. Recently, I realized that I’ve built up a small collection of these sites, but have never pulled the trigger on buying anything. With Christmas approaching (yup, I went there), the wheels are turning and I’m starting to get a few ideas for gifts… for myself, mostly. Among them:

happy birthday cake mold

Happy Birthday Cake Mold from The Spoon Sisters. Of course, in order to have a reason to buy this, I’d have to start baking, which might actually make me second guess this purchase, but it’s still a really cute idea. Wish they made others that you could customize. I’d buy a mold that said “Hands off, bitches.”

key pete Key Pete from the Spoon Sisters. This little guy is so cute that I kinda want to buy a bunch of them and hang my utensils around the kitchen. Weird, I know. If he were gumby-like and you could move his arms, I’d hang my necklaces all around my bedroom. I’m sure Shawn would love that.

mixstix_648

I love these Mix Stix from Friend & Friends. Oh, you probably didn’t know that I am quite serious about my drumming when we play Rock Band. One day I will take real drum lessons, but until that day, I definitely need to get these mixing spoons. Hm. I might even consider cooking if I had them.

il_430xN.86598301

Okay, this isn’t even suggestive. It just puts it right out there. Barring the fact that this Get to the Point Wall Decal would require us to have nice glass shower doors (definitely not), I would totally grab these decals because they’re silly and fun, and I’m sure it would make guests feel a little awkward. Worth it!

September 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm Leave a comment

My New Favorite Dish: Tomato, Sausage and Pecorino Pasta

You guys know that I struggle with meals that call for more than 4-5 ingredients. I get bored and whiney and most certainly screw something up. But, this dish was so easy and had so much color & aroma that I actually thought I was doing it wrong. I thought, “it can’t be this easy!” and I must’ve checked the recipe a million times to make sure I had everything in there. And, this was the first meal I’ve made where I felt comfortable enough to exercise some creative freedom and make some swaps to the recipe. Let me tell you – it had so much flavor (which is not something I can usually boast) that I’ll most definitely be making this my “go to” dish.

tomato-pasta-ck-1918479-l

Seriously, how good does this look?

Ingredients

  • 8  ounces  uncooked penne (I’m a sucker for the Barilla PLUS line)
  • 8  ounces  sweet Italian sausage*
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  vertically sliced onion
  • 2  teaspoons  minced garlic
  • 1 1/4  pounds  tomatoes, chopped*
  • 6  tablespoons  grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  cup  torn fresh basil leaves*

*I made my own changes here – since Shawn has a thing about the consistency of tomatoes (he freaks out because they’re squishy), I left the tomatoes out of the recipe and instead mixed the dish with marinara sauce at the end. Also, since I find fresh herbs to be a waste of money (seriously, you use a fraction of what you buy and the rest goes bad), I just used regular basil from the spice rack. Finally, I substituted sweet Italian sausage with Al Fresco chicken sausage, which is incredibly good and much healthier. Specifically, the sundried tomato flavor was a good choice for this recipe.

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
  2. While the pasta’s boiling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I removed the sausage from the casings just by slicing it length-wise and pulling off the casing, then chopped the sausage into small pieces. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to ensure that the sausage cooks through.
  3. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes.
  4. At this point, the original recipe said to stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Instead, the pasta was good and ready, so I drained it and combined it with the sausage / onion / garlic mixture in a giant serving bowl.
  5. Stir in 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. The original recipe also suggests you sprinkle it with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil, but I just added basil. It already had so much flavor without a ton of the cheese, so you’re doing yourself a favor by cutting back.
This is the nutrition information from the original recipe, but I think with my substitutions above, you might even save yourself a few more calories.
  • Calories per serving: 389
  • Fat: 10.7g (sat 4g,mono 4.5g,poly 0.7g)
  • Protein: 21.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 53.5g
  • Fiber: 4.5g

September 15, 2009 at 7:54 pm 1 comment

To Decorate or Not to Decorate

I’m stumped. Remember back when I had spring cleaning wishlist? Well, that was short lived. It took about 4 months to cross two things off of that list (numbers 1 and 2, if you’re curious). I’d like to continue making progress toward finishing up that list, but I’m torn about what to do with number 5, my desire to find a new home for my make up, which currently sits in a small box on top of our bathroom counter. You see, the issue is bigger than just finding more storage – I could easily buy one of those over-the-toilet shelving units. The issue is one of making small changes to a room when we have bigger plans for the space down the line.

For instance, this is the 3/4 bath off of our bedroom:

IMG_0101

Outdated. Boring. In desperate need of a facelift. But, with wedding plans fully underway, we don’t necessarily want to part with a big amount of money to overhaul our bathrooms (yes, both of them need a makeover). Ideally, we’d like to DIY the bathrooms with new vanities, tile flooring, travertine showers, modern water-conserving toilets and additional storage. Not exactly a simple weekend project.

But, as my wish list suggests, I hate when things don’t have “their place”. My make-up should not just sit on the sink counter. I want to put it away somewhere.

So, what do I do? Do I give it some minimal effort now – some paint, a new mirror, some storage – or put up with an ugly, limited bathroom for the next year until I can do it right?

September 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm 1 comment

My One & Only Diet Tip

Most people who know me are aware that I work out pretty regularly. When it comes to food, however, I have less self control. Though I tend to eat healthy, or at least choose healthier options of the crappy stuff, I don’t beat myself up when I give in to a couple (orrr ten) indulgences. But, since we moved out of my dad’s house, we’ve been much better about eating healthier.

Why? We don’t have a microwave. That’s it! You want to instantly start eating healthier? Get rid of your microwave.antimicrowaveAt first we had no microwave because 1. the condo didn’t come with one over the stove/range, and 2. we had have very little counterspace. We always assumed we’d buy a microwave to go over the stove, but when we realized that our 1986 kitchen didn’t allow enough space for one, we just never got around to figuring out an alternative. Now it’s become a strategy. At first it was hard to get used to reheating leftovers in the oven, but food tastes just as good as when it was first made, so it’s worth the extra few minutes of preparation. And while I miss the ease of the new Steamfresh veggie bags, it’s really just as easy to pour the bag out and steam it on the stove.

A big weakness for us used to be frozen dinners and paninis; we’d always choose an inconvenience-free sodium-filled side over something we’d make ourselves. I know, it’s easy to eat like crap even without a microwave, but it has really made a difference considering how lazy I am when it comes to food preparation. I used to just pop in a bag of popcorn or nachos with melted cheese when I had a craving for something crunchy, but now it’s too much of a pain to make either without a microwave, so I usually just grab a handful of Wheat Thins or go entirely without.

Any other unusual, non-obvious tips for eating better?

August 3, 2009 at 7:16 pm 1 comment

Cross-posted: 5 Rules for Putting Yourself First

Last week I wrote a blog post on the “5 Rules for Putting Yourself First” for Girls in Tech, an organization focused on the collaboration, promotion, growth and success of women in the technology sector. I’m on the board of directors for the Boston chapter. I figured it was appropriate to cross-post here because this advice can apply to those women who are in their twenties and trying to figure it all out. Jobs, relationships, new apartments or houses, new routines – it can easily get overwhelming. Not sure about you, but I often find myself trying to do as much as possible all the time, and sometimes you just need the reminder to slow down and put yourself first.

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I talk about the wonders of technology. Gadgets, social networks, search engines, software, mobile innovation.. hell—even the remote control on my air conditioner. It’s these technologies we turn to in order to save time and make things quicker and easier. But ironically, it’s the time we save using technology to do more and more. We have gotten so good at multitasking that our lives are becoming more hectic than ever. And the “we” I’m talking about is women.

Where am I going with this? Kim Wroble and Lorian Williams-Willis of Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago paint a great picture:

“You are the last to bed at night and the first one up in the morning. You are a mom, wife, sister, friend, playmate, student, cheerleader, career woman, organizer, vacation planner, finance manager … the list goes on and on. While managing all these different roles, who cares for you?”

Economy notwithstanding, it’s important that we stay in tune with our pace to make sure we’re not overextended. We’ve gotten so used to this “make it happen” mentality that we often push our own emotional and mental boundaries to get things done. There are many more incredible technologies awaiting innovation, and as they become available, there will be new chances for us to squeeze more into our schedules. So, let’s keep the mental breakdowns to a minimum, shall we?

Read the rest here…

August 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

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