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VERY Displeased with Retail Stores Lately…

October 11, 2010

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WARNING: Rant ahead. If you only like to read happy flowery post, please skip this post and read my others! LOL

You’d think that will ALLLLL the heavy competition steeped against retail (local) stores these days, they’d be willing to bend over backwards to offer quality products and good service. Nope! I have had a very bad week with several of my local retailers, enough to sour me something serious. I do a lot of online shopping, so I guess I am spoiled. The online stores treat me well, offer deals and discounts, and ship the stuff (most of the time) extremely fast. AND they also send the CORRECT products!

We got a new washer this past week. New York State has this great rebate program going on right now (on a first come/first serve basis). Our old washer was 17 years old, and had sprung an oil leak while in the basement. I didn’t want to have oil all over my new kitchen flooring…. and rather then pay an appliance guy to labor over a very old model, we just decided to get a new one. And with the rebate, we got a phenomenal deal! But time is of the essence with these things, ya know? We have to submit the rebate information before the time/money is out.

So we had the washer delivered. Well, KIND OF. They called at SEVEN O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, said they’d be here at 9am, and showed up at 8am. šŸ˜ Then, they delivered the wrong model!!! They delivered the store display model!! It had dents and dings and no manual and NO rebate information.

So I had them send it back. I wanted my new washer. It took them all day to get their act together, and finally arrived at the end of the day (I do wonder if they installed my washer at someone else’s house and had to make a switch before coming to my house… hmm…) …

So they finally delivered the new washer… it was not in the original box… but on a dolly, uh huh…. but it came WITHOUT the manual and warranty and REBATE INFORMATION!

šŸ™ Yeah, you can tell where this is going.

So the delivery guys promised me they would have the information for me first thing in the morning– they’d place it in my mailbox.

Never came.

OK, so maybe they are busy delivering wrong appliances to everyone and are so very, very busy. I waited til the next morning.

Never came.

:S Hello, we have to get that rebate info in! And I want my manual!

Well, I called the store, and basically got the run around. The guy in the appliance department said that he had checked the washer before sending it on to the delivery guys, and he had included the manual with the washer, it must be there. And then he said I don’t need any more rebate information, because the store receipt will do. Yadda yadda. He *basically* called me a liar because he said he included the manual with the new washer and I must be wrong…. and *basically* called me dumb because he says I don’t need rebate information when I said I did (he later changed his mind when he remembered that we need the paperwork because they hauled the old washer away).

It’s really a shame. I spent upwards of $5000 at this store this summer, renovating the kitchen. I won’t directly name the store, but they are a national home improvement center that isn’t very High’s in my opinion… :-p I’m sure they must be busy with lots of sales due to the state rebate opportunity, but I would LIKE to have my purchased, proper appliance delivered AND I’d LIKE to have all my paperwork!! What the heck am I paying them so much money for?!?!

I think I love online shopping more and more…

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Buying Household Supplies Online

October 11, 2010

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Hey! I have some great news for you online shoppers and deal hunters! Buy.com has a new department called Household Essentials! You can buy household cleaning supplies, dry goods, bath and shower supplies, baby stuff, pet supplies and more in the department. I LOVE it. I dislike shopping at retail stores very much– the traffic (which is INSANE around here), the crowds, the cranky people, the rush-rush-rush of the rat race…. I like to buy stuff online as much as I can. Buy.com has been a Godsend during our renovation– I’ve ordered quite a bit of stuff from them. It not only saves me money but saves me time, too.

Buy.com combines the bets of the best in online household stores: Alice, ANTOnline, Baby Universe, Tool District, UnbeatableSale and others. The prices are very good and the shipping is free. Plus, Buy.com provides some really nice specialty items for great prices! If you like to make gift baskets for the holidays, you can order all sorts of delectable, exotic products and have everything shipped to your door. Can’t beat that!

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Renovation Thoughts Too Short for a Blog Post

August 9, 2010

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I’m spending money like a drunken sailor. Actually, worse than that– I’m spending money like Congress. Oooo watch the dollars fly! OK, I KNOW we need the cabinets, the countertops, the lumber, the flooring… and I’m not going bananas buying the luxury items. But even the cheap stuff is expensive! I have never spent this much money before in my life, ever.

I have been finding some really great deals on stuff, though. I needed a pull-out trash bin system- you know, one of these things:

The larger ones at Lowe’s are about $300. Yes, THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. For two plastic trash cans, metal drawer hardware, and the pieces of wood for it. WOW. Selling kitchen remodeling supplies is quite the racket, eh? I was not going to pay $300. I didn’t have the time to make my own roll-out thingie, either… so I found that exact setup on eBay. I won the bid! $117!!! It’s still a heck of a lot of money, but I’m glad I got it for so much less money.

I am loving my local Grossman’s Bargain Outlet store lately. I bought my cabinets from them (more on that later). I had to make two trips to get my cabinets, to two different Bargain Outlet stores. This is because they didn’t have all the cabinets in stock that I needed. And I just didn’t have the cargo truck equipment to haul everything around at once. :S

Here are the cabinets I purchased:

Bargain Outlet was having a “Wheel-O-Discount” promotion when I bought them. You spin the wheel and get anywhere from 5% to 50% off your entire order. Wow! So i rang up a big bill, and spun the wheel!!! What did I get, what did I get?? 5%. šŸ™ I was pretty sad. I got an additional 10%, though, for signing up an account with the store… but I was pretty bummed.

Well, we had to go to Bargain Outlet again, and I bought up another big bill of stuff (not as much as the first bill, but pretty big). I asked my son to spin the wheel.

HE GOT 50% OFF!!!!

I couldn’t believe it! Why didn’t I have the kid do it for me the first time?! Oh well! I saved almost $500 off my order. I was so excited!!! The clerks are the store were all real sourpusses, though. LOL.

It is possible to buy building supplies online. So far, I have ordered wallpaper, a stove range hood, a dishwasher, a kitchen sink, gas space heaters, countertops, Tung oil, network equipment, trim molding, plumbing supplies, and cabinet hardware. Some of the best stores I have ordered from include:

Lumber Liquidators
DoItBest.com
HomeDepot
Lowes
eBay
PEXSupply.com
Buy.com
NorthernTool.com

These stores have been pleasant to deal with, have great prices, and their shipping and delivery is great. There is also NO WAY I could have purchased these things at the stores and hauled them home. I have only a minivan. It will hold 4×8 sheetrock and plywood sheets (yay!), but there are no vans to hold anything beyond that. So I have relied heavily on delivery. It costs a little (most of the time) but it has saved me endless labor (and saved my van from the heavy loads).

Once we finish the Sheetrock and the painting, the renovation will start to get interesting and more fun. The photos will have more interest, too. There are a LOT of loose ends to wrap up, though. I realized the other day– while the construction schedule ends right around the last week of August, I will be working on this project at least up until December. I still have lots of trim work, custom cabinets and pantry shelves to make, decorative accents to paint, heaters to plumb and install, a few interior doors to install, and more. Whew!

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Rethinking My Air Conditioner Ban

July 8, 2010

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As a kid, air conditioning was an extravagant luxury, meant for stores like Macy’s and really rich people. Back then, when it was 90, 100 degrees during the summer, we sweated it out. Yes, yes! I am now old enough to tell stories of how we “roughed it” when WE were youngsters!! I’ll spare you the stories of how we had to walk UPHILL 20 miles to school– BOTH ways!!

Anyway, I’ve lived without air conditioning all these years, and have survived! But now that I am updating the electric at the house, and now that I have a billion computers and electronics running in my home office every day, and now that it’s been in the mid-90s ALL WEEK and I am at the end of my tolerance level, lol…. oh, and now that Al Gore says global warming is practically HERE and will kill us all if we don’t DO SOMETHING– I am thinking of getting a small unit for the office. šŸ˜€ How cool is that? LOLOL

Problem is, all my local Big Box stores are sold out. Can you believe it?!?! They can’t keep these things in stock?! Hello, it’s summer! lol.. anyway… I am glad I am not at the mercy of the guy who orders the inventory at the local Big Box stores. Because I have Buy.com!!! Buy.com has stuff in stock! They have some really great prices, too, on name-brand air conditioners!

This is the Frigidaire FRA082AT7 Window Air Conditioner, providing 8,000 BTUs (enough to cool a 350 square foot room). I think it’s great! It plugs in to any three-prong outlet (although I recommend a dedicate circuit for something like this). It also has an anti-bacteria filter that helps prevent air-borne bacteria and odors. Nice! It’s $200 with shipping. And it’s IN STOCK. It fits in the window… which means I would have to fix my 100-year old window to get the thing open, yeah…. fun… it’s something I *have* to do, anyway.

I love Buy.com. They have everything, and lots of stuff is usually free shipping (and it’s very fast shipping, too). Plus, their prices are great. They are always having some sale or another– the electronics prices are incredible.

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Home Depot Coupons and More!

July 3, 2010

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Ooo here’s a very nice online coupon site for you frugal folks: Savings.com. They even have promo codes for Home Depot! Home Depot coupons, codes, and discounts are very, very hard to come by. I have already spent $3,000 at the blasted place. It WOULD HAVE been nice to have saved a couple of bucks there had I known about promo codes earlier!! Oh well, my purchases aren’t all done yet (we do have to get sheetrock, cabinets, countertops, and flooring yet). So I’m glad I found this website. There’s a really nice promo code for free shipping for Home Depot on purchases over $249– that’s a great savings because shipping is EXPENSIVE. I ordered a 100-pound, cast iron sink and it cost a pretty penny to get here. And I haven’t been looking forward to picking up my own 100 sheets of sheetrock.. so now I can have it delivered. šŸ˜€

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Changed My Mind With Lighting

June 25, 2010

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Choosing lighting for the kitchen has been really difficult for me. The kitchen is very large, 12 x 23, but it has a lot of angles and doorways. And the ceilings are 9 feet. I eventually chose two sets of chandeliers, which I absolutely love.

mylights

But I can’t say I have been 100% settled with the choice of chandeliers. They would certainly spit out a lot of light, but they would also generate heat, and could possibly be more costly to have on (certainly more costly than fluorescent lighting).

My kitchen gets very hot in the late afternoon. It is situated on the southwestern side of the property. Dumb, I know. I didn’t plan it! But the sun comes blasting through the windows in the summer. And the area right outside the window is a HUGE asphalt parking lot (I didn’t do that, either!!). The house used to be a parsonage, and was once connected to the church nearby. The previous owners installed a HUGE parking lot right outside the back door all the way over to the church. It gets pretty hot. I have planted trees to provide shade, but they’ve only been there a few years. So it’s HOT in the summer.

Plus, I will be installing a gas space heater in the kitchen. I will eventually save up money to purchase a very nice little gas fireplace, to create a small “hearth” in the location, but for now, it will be a gas heater. And I’ve been reading that if you have a gas heater, you should either purchase a blower unit to move the heat around ($150 additional), or install ceiling fans to move the air.

CEILING FANS!

HamptonBayfans

So I got them. Two of them. šŸ˜€ I think they will be perfect. I’m going to return the chandeliers. I love them, but the fans are much more functional and just as beautiful.

That’s renovation for you. I think it’s impossible to have EVERYTHING pre-planned. Things change. For example, we had no idea we would have to change the heating system in this house, until we opened walls and saw the condition of the ductwork. Unfortunately, things like this have broken the budget, but at least we are making the house more efficient, more comfortable, and more valuable. So I’m rolling with the punches these days. There really isn’t anything you can do.

Anyway, I’m pleased with my fans. I’ve read through the manual and I really like Hampton Bay brand. The manual is in ENGLISH and it actually makes sense!

TIP: Never install a ceiling fan using a plastic ceiling hanger work box. Use a metal box, it’s much, much sturdier. šŸ™‚

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What Women Want: DUCT TAPE

May 13, 2010

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This woman, anyway.

I am dissatisfied with the duct tape at WalMart. That is, the stuff is useless!!! It doesn’t stick, hello?! Blahhh.

I am a duct tape fiend. We love duct tape. I think every old house homeowner loves duct tape. It comes in SO handy: for furnace seams (temporary of course), holding old door joints, taping window cracks, sealing doors and windows, wrapping around pipes for a temp fix, “fixing” soles of shoes that have come unglued…. etc etc etc…. but it’s kinda important to find duct tape that, like, WORKS. So I’ve been hunting around for the glorious duct tape.

Can you believe that Buy.com even sells DUCT TAPE?!?! Every kind of duct tape you can imagine! Intertape Polymer, wide, High Performance, Gorilla Duct Tape, duct tape in designer colors, “Sumo” duct tape, duct tape sheets and even transparent duct tape! All those choices, what is a girl to do?!

I think I’ll just get one of each, please. šŸ˜€

That”Sumo” duct tape sounds terrific. LOL. And the HIGH performance stuff. I have to seal a billion doorways and heater vents… and I can’t have the junky, cheapo duct tape flopping off in the middle of my project, now can I?! And we all thought Buy.com sold only electronics! I love Buy.com. They have a huge selection of… well, everything! Prices are great, shipping is free on lots of stuff, and Buy.com takes PayPal as well as a variety of other payment choices. Be sure to check them out if you need vacuum cleaners or parts, dishware, linens, books, clothes, shoes, tools, and tons of other stuff. AND DUCT TAPE! Yay!

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What to Get Mom for Mother’s Day

April 28, 2010

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THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ‘BOUT.

If she’s anything like me, she wants that honking baby hanging from her tool belt, MMMHMMMMM!

When my kids wonder about what to get me for Mother’s Day or my birthday, I’m pretty predictable. I want the POWAH!!!!! That is a Rockwell 14.4-volt cordless drill with LIFETIME battery warranty. Sweeeet. At Buy.com, of course. I also like the Skil model, but that’s sold out. Oh, and Buy.com has a kickin’ Grinder Buffing Polishing Machine for only $50!!!

But what I really need is a nice garden hose and a hot plate. Because we’re going to be without a functional kitchen until August…. *sigh* The garden hose must be potable because we’ll be getting our drinking water from it, and washing our dishes in a basin outside; and the hot plate will be our only way to make tea and cook meals, because the stove is going to be in storage for a while. Kitchen renovations are SOOOO scary. I get this funky butterfly feeling when I think about it too much….

Anyway, Buy.com makes the transition a little easier. I can use my KICKIN’ power tools (every mom’s dream right?!) and get some great deals on everything from the PEX fittings to wall paint to the pots and pans. Buy.com also has some terrific weekly sale on electronics, too. I’m holding off on getting a laptop until the kitchen is done…. lol. I can’t wait until it’s all over and I haven’t even started!

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Energy Efficiency is Finally “In”!

April 22, 2010

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Some of you readers know about my unusual background: in the mid-80s, my folks ditched the corrupting influences and expenses of suburban life to go live on a mountain. As a teenager, I helped log trees for firewood, harvested edible weeds for eating, and learned how to make my own clothing, conserve energy and water, and etc. We never got “off the grid,” so to speak, but we learned to be frugal, be wise with what we had, to create as little waste as possible, and to learn to live off the land and our own resources. We eventually sold the property as we kids grew older, but it was a really rich experience for me then. It was unique, too– while the rest of society was looking toward Yuppiedom, we were becoming Hillbillies, lol.

Well, we didn't exactly go THAT far...

But today, saving energy and reducing waste is BIG! I’m so glad to be able to be a part of it. I have long believed that we must be good stewards of God’s good earth and of all the good things He’s given us. We’ve really tried to incorporate good stewardship with what we do here in this house and yard. We try to keep an eye toward future technology, but only future technology that helps us to serve God better, to be smarter in our consumer choices, and to reduce waste and inefficiency.

With that said, it was my extreme pleasure to ask a few questions of home safety expert John Drengenberg, the Consumer Safety Director at Underwriter Laboratories (UL). Since we are going to be renovating this summer (kitchen, dining room, and installing new plumbing and electrical wiring), I asked John’s advice regarding these things. I tried to keep you guys in mind, based on comments and articles you have brought up in the past.

Here are the questions I presented:

1. I’ve seen ads on the Internet for a small rooftop windmill device that the homeowner can install on their house roof. Are these for real, and could they truly generate enough energy for the homeowner to make this worth their time and effort?

2. Regarding “vampire” electronics, those appliances that use power even when they are “off” (such as televisions and DVD players): my readers and I hate these things. Is the manufacturer required to label the appliance as an energy hog? How/where can we find a list of appliances that do not continue to suck energy even when off?

3. How accurate is the Energy Star rating? I’d heard through the grapevine that the majority of appliances were receiving the rating, even when these appliances were not truly energy-efficient. Is this true?

4. I’m renovating my kitchen this summer (I have an 1855 house and the last plumbing and electricity updates were in the 1940s). It’s a 100% DIY project- we’re doing the electric, plumbing, installing cabinets, etc ourselves. My readers are going to experience everything we do as I blog about it. I’m looking for ways to make my home more energy efficient, and also have an eye toward the future (appliances, wiring, design). Do you have any recommendations as to what I can do or include in my kitchen to make it (and my home) energy efficient?

Check out John’s answers to my questions in the video. And John– THANK YOU so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Your information is so helpful. šŸ˜€

If you go to the Underwriter Laboratories website, you can find a ton of information about energy-efficiency, buying and using products safer for the environment and families, and get information about terrific community projects. There are videos, too. I have found the folks to be very generous with their advice and attention– do check them out whether you are remodeling or not. I know you will find something helpful.

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Going With PEX Plumbing

April 22, 2010

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When I gut the kitchen in a few weeks, all the house plumbing will be exposed for us to see. I’ll be able to view the condition of the pipes and see for myself how miserably the system was installed previously. I’m expecting to find a disaster behind the plaster and lathe, so we’re gearing up for replacing everything. Unfortunately, even though I live a mere 30 minutes from the Copper City (Rome, NY), copper is very expensive. It’s also difficult to install (propane torch and soldering). We’re going to be doing the bulk of the plumbing ourselves, so we’ve opted to go with the PEX system.

In a nutshell, PEX is like heavy-duty garden hose. You use the piping for your water supply system. The pipes come in lengths anywhere from 5′ to 1000 feet, so the only connections you’d ever have to make are at the supply in the basement and at the fixture shut off valve. No joints, elbows, or fittings in the walls. VERY nice. PEX has been used in Europe for over 30 years now. I first heard about it on This Old House about 10 years ago. I’m looking forward to using it. The Family Handyman has a good article about it, too.

Right now, I’m shopping around for supplies. The PEX piping is not terribly expensive (a fraction of the cost of copper!), but the crimping tool is $100 or more, and the fittings are rather pricey (it’s a good thing I don’t needs loads of fittings). I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see that my favorite online store, Buy.com sells PEX supplies! There’s not a ton of PEX, but enough to make it worth my while, especially with the piping. Buy.com has everything! I used to go there once a week or so, to check out their great sales on electronics every week, but then I started to peruse the store for my household stuff, like vacuum cleaner bags, cleaning products, garden products, and hardware. They also have a ton of books on home improvement (and some great textbooks, too).

So I’m happy. I’ll be saving a ton of money on plumbing by doing it myself, and doing it with PEX. I have a lot of homework to do– right now, I’m learning about pipe diameters for optimal water pressure. I’ll have more on PEX as I go along, and definitely give my opinions about installing the system. You already know my opinion about Buy.com– they rock!

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