Lost in hell

The refrigerator saga continues . . .

After cleaning and some airing-out time, we decided that the second-hand smoke contaminated refrigerator we bought in April just wasn’t going to cut it.  I reposted it to Craigslist, and we sold it at a small loss (actually $5 more than the $80 we paid for the fridge, but we also paid $20 for delivery).  I was just happy to have it gone (just in time to put Roadrunner in the garage!).

Of course, the fact that it didn’t work out meant that the search continued.  I hunted through CL adds over the weekend, and found a promising option in South County.  Last night, I headed down to check it out, knowing that if it was a go, we’d have to return another time with a rental truck (despite the extra trip, we didn’t want to rent the truck not knowing if we’d buy it).

I had the address and looked up directions ahead of time, but my notes and small, rough sketched map were no match for the suburban subdivisions.  When I reached a fork in the road, I chose the left (and ultimately correct) fork, but, after driving about a mile on a hilly and curvy road, not seeing my turn-off, I decided that I should have chosen the right fork, so I turned around and back-tracked.

I repeated the hilly, curvy mile thing on the right fork, and came to a dead end.  I partially retraced my path on that road, then pulled over and called the seller.  After she figured out where I was, she told me that I needed to go back to the road that forked to the left (yes, the one I started out on), and go just a bit farther than I had initially.  Grr!

At that point, I just wanted to be done.  I didn’t want to retrace my route, and I most certainly didn’t want to return another time with a truck.  I called Matthew, teary eyed, and told him he needed to talk me out of just throwing in the towel and heading home without even seeing the fridge.

I finally decided that even though it was annoying as heck, I’d already gone most of the way to this house, so I may as well see the stupid fridge.


The entire time I was driving around this place, I couldn’t imagine who in their right mind would want to live in a place like this: no connectivity, ugly McMansions, cars required to go anywhere.  Ick. Blech. Blah.

I was also amused by the yard signs reading “No cell phone towers in my neighborhood.”  People, the picture above is not a “neighborhood,” and, if you hadn’t chosen to live out here, you might not need a cell phone tower.

Anyhow, I finally found the correct road and arrived at my destination (my gas light was starting to flicker at this point, not helping my mood any).  I took a quick look at the fridge (including sticking a thermometer in to make sure it was, in fact, cold), and told the seller we’d think about it and get back to her.

I was never so glad to leave that subdivision behind, and, later, when I crossed back into city limits, I almost cried tears of joy and relief.  The River de Poo never looked so good!

Once home, I informed Matthew that if he wanted to rent a truck and go back out there to get the refrigerator, that was fine, but I wasn’t going near that place again!

*Purchase is pending negotiations with the seller.  If Matthew does go to get it, I’ll give him very good directions — I’m actually fairly decent with directions (and quite good with nice, normal grid systems), and now that I’ve done it correctly once, I know I can do it again, I just have no desire to return to hell.


In the last several months, we had to replace both a toaster and a toaster oven.  Both of the now-dead appliances were pretty basic, no-frills items, but they did their jobs.  And then they stopped.

The toaster conked out first.  In the few weeks it took to settle on a replacement, having the toaster oven as a back-up was really nice (if less efficient than using the toaster for simple tasks like toasting bread).

I first turned to Craigslist, hoping for a decent used toaster, but that effort was unsuccessful.  Whenever we’re buying new, we try to read some reviews to help pick a good value product.  Unfortunately, most reviews don’t provide a good test of lifespan, unless the product dies very quickly.

We opted for this rather basic model, and chose the standard dial rather than the digital display, since a digital display seemed like one more thing that could break.  We’ve had the toaster for a number of months now, and so far, so good.

Then, several weeks ago, our toaster oven started malfunctioning.  The heating elements on the bottom were getting hot, but those on the top were not.  The top heating elements are essential to the “broil” function, which is something we use a good bit, for broiling tofu, asparagus, etc.

I succeeded in finding a replacement on Craigslist.  The replacement is actually an upgrade, I guess, to a much larger toaster oven that includes a convection oven feature.  The thing is, the small toaster oven was really pretty ideal for our needs, which included broiling small batches of things and reheating things that we wanted to crisp up a bit, like pizza and croissants.  When not in use, it stored easily under the counter and didn’t take up precious counter space.

If we actually want to bake anything, we usually do so in a quantity that exceeds the capacity of even a large toaster oven, and thus necessitates the real oven.

The new toaster oven (bottom) could eat the old toaster oven for breakfast!
The new toaster oven (bottom) could eat the old toaster oven for breakfast!

This new toaster oven is a bit of a beast, and more toaster oven than we really need.  It’s too big to fit under the counter, even if I wanted to be moving it around all the time, which I don’t, given it’s bulk and weight, so it’s permanently using counter real estate.  While I haven’t tested it yet (time to pull out the Kill-A-Watt meter), I imagine it chews more energy that our previous, much smaller toaster oven, because there is more space to heat to the desired temperature.  If we were using that space, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but, most of the time, we are not.

I spent the first week with the new toaster oven seriously questioning my purchase.  The previous owner had attempted to clean it, which was nice, but the oven cleaner fumes coming off the thing were overwhelming, to the point of potentially rendering it unusable.  I placed an open container of baking soda inside for a few days, but it had little effect.

Then I found a suggestion to place a pan of water in the oven, turn it to 400° F, and leave it on until the water came to a boil.  I decided it would take a really long time to boil an open pan of water in the oven, so I cheated a bit, and preheated the water in the microwave, then poured it into a metal bread pan in the hot toaster oven.  I left it in, with the oven on, for about 30 minutes.  Lo and behold, this did the trick, and we now have a fully usuable, de-stinkified toaster oven!

New to us: Shopping Craigslist and garage sales

I grew up with garage sales being a fairly regular Saturday morning activity, but it’s something that’s seldom been part of my adult life.  If I wanted to spend my weekends driving all over the metro area, I’m sure I could score a few good bargains, but if I’m in search of a specific item, it’s easier to turn to Craigslist.

I also strive to limit driving with Craigslist (CL) hunts, usually only looking at ads that list a location within five miles (or a bit more if it’s in a direction that I would be headed by car anyway, like near my MIL’s).  Biking to CL pickups is ideal, of course.

I found myself in just such a situation when I responded to an ad for a booster seat in “South City.”  The term encompasses a rather wide area, so I was delighted to find that the seller lived in my neighborhood, just seven blocks away.  Better yet, when I arrived to pick up the seat, she let me do some early shopping from her selection of toddler boy clothes that she was preparing for the neighborhood garage sale, so, for a very good price, and very little effort on my part, I took care of most of Gabriel’s winter clothing needs.

As an added bonus, I met another mom in the neighborhood, who we’ve since run into at the playground a couple of times, and who offered to contact me as her 4-year-old son continues to outgrow clothes.

While I prefer new to used in almost all areas anyway, used kids’ pajamas are particularly good in my book, since they likely have lower amounts of potentially toxic fire-retardant chemicals remaining.*  As an added bonus, somebody looks absolutely adorable in his “new” footie pajamas, and I rest easier knowing they’ve been through a number of wash cycles.

NOT spontaneously combustible, but possibly in danger of death by cuddles

Though I wasn’t initially planning on it, I took the time to check out some of the neighborhood garage sales that weekend (it was an organized event with over 30 sales on one Saturday).  Instead of lots of driving and in and out of the car, I spent a couple of lovely hours on a fall morning biking around my neighborhood.  For less than $15, I picked up five DVDs, a nice baby gate, and a couple of new toys for little Pookie.

I didn’t find anything that I was REALLY looking for (e.g., nice shoes for Gabriel, a coat rack for our front stairs), and it was money that I would not have spent if I hadn’t gone out, so I think it’s for that best that my garage sale-ing is self-limited.

*”Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled ‘fire resistant’ will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes.”  Source here — see bottom of page for specifics on pajamas.  It’s not like mattresses or sofas or babies sleeping sweetly in their pajamas are prone to spontaneously bursting into flames.  It’s disgusting that the widespread use of TOXIC fire-retardant chemicals was introduced primarily as a precaution for fires started from another chemical nightmare — cigarettes.