Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekend Adventures: Navarre

This past weekend we took a little road trip up to the Florida Panhandle to visit some friends of ours.

You might remember them from our wedding – they got engaged the day before Dan and I got married. And they got married on the beach a few months later.

Both of them serve in the military. One is active duty Air Force and the other is in the Navy Reserves. He is currently stationed near Navarre and they recently bought their first home. We've been dying to visit them and see their new place, but couldn't find the time to do it.

Two weeks ago, I got a call about a surprise birthday visit. Who could say no to that? So Friday after work, Dan and I loaded up the car and drove the 7 hours to Navarre. It was pretty late when we got into town….

Keep in mind, that’s Eastern Standard Time on the radio. Technically, it was only midnight Central Standard Time when we got there. But our bodies didn't know the difference.

The birthday boy was totally surprised! I wish I had gotten a picture of his face! But cell phones and going from dark to lighted rooms just doesn't work well.

The next morning we all woke up, made breakfast sandwiches, and hung around the house for alittle bit.

Then we headed out to Navarre Beach for their Fun Fest event. The event was pretty small – a few vendors selling art & crafts, a local dance troop performed, food trucks – the typical small town festival.

 We headed out to the water to check it out.

I can see why they call this the Emerald Coast. Beautiful, clear, green water. Too cold for our likes though. We just dipped our toes in it for a few minutes before heading back to the car.

Later that afternoon, our friends got a call from someone who was interested in buying their truck – that day! As in, he wanted to buy it in the next couple of hours. So, after taking a quick tour of the military base and making a bunch of phone calls to the bank and the buyer, we headed out to Pensacola and sold their truck. Luckily we were there this weekend, because that truck was their only vehicle. They’re planning on downsizing to a car and will hopefully find one this week (they've rented a car for the time being).

We headed out to a place called Helen Back for dinner.

Our friends said they had the best pizza around. Plus, they had outside seating that would let us catch the Fun Fest fireworks. My opinion of the place: really crowded (UFC fight night), horrible appetizers (I could make better – no joke!), terrible service (I don’t know if the girl was on something or what), decent pizza (which we only found out after we had to send the first pizzas back because they were made wrong), and really expensive considering the quality of food and service.

After dinner we went back to our friends’ place and watched a movie until we were all too tired to keep our eyes open. Sunday morning we had to say goodbye and make our way back home.

I seriously can’t wait to visit them again! Although, maybe next time they can come visit us and see where the retirees all hang out in Florida.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Front Loaders

The last time I talked about our tiny laundry room, we added some wicker baskets from the thrift store for organization and it looked a little something like this:

About a month ago, our dryer went on the fritz. You might remember this Instagram picture of us drying our clothes in the master bathroom…

Well, that was only the beginning. Let me begin by saying that our dryer is OLD. The only good part about it? It was free - a wedding gift from my uncle - so we can’t really complain. But, after using it for over a year, it was starting to fall apart. It was getting louder and louder. I’d try scooting it on the floor thinking it was unlevel. Sometimes that would work, but most often it didn't.

Then, one night, the noise was so loud I swear all of our neighbors could hear it. It was this weird grinding noise, eerily similar to nails on a chalkboard. Well, at least the noise made me cringe like nails on a chalkboard do. I’m cringing now, just thinking about it… So, we stopped using the dryer. Instead, we’d wash our clothes in our apartment, then lug the wet clothes downstairs and to the complex clubhouse and use their dryers. Only their dryers were expensive! $1.50 for one load! And that one cycle didn't even dry our clothes out all the way. Luckily our roommate found a Laundromat in town that was much, much cheaper.

We really struggled with how we wanted to fix the situation. Try to fix it? Hire someone to come out and fix it? Buy another second-hand dryer on Craigslist? Or bite the bullet, upgrade, and buy new?
Being that our dryer was old and was second-hand, we didn't have the manual to it. Dan tried googling for the manual – and all he could come up with was a similar model. The prognosis? It was either one of two things. It could be the drum pads (I forget the technical term for these now…) were worn down and the drum was rubbing against metal as it rotated. Or it could be the ball bearing. We assumed it was the drum pads. So, Dan googled around some more to figure out how to get to the drum pads. After dinner one night, I walked over and saw this:

I don’t know why I was surprised that there was so little going on underneath, but it seemed pretty simple. Dan found the drum pads, discovered they were worn, then realized that the underside wasn't all that bad. So, all he did was flip them over. Ta da! He put everything back together and loaded up the dryer for a test spin. No noise! For about 10 minutes anyways….
So fixing it was out. We didn't feel like hiring someone to fix it – too much hassle. Next up: Craigslist. We searched all over Central Florida. Maybe we’re too picky, but we didn't see anything that we liked. And most people were asking $300+ for the set. All we wanted was the dryer. And paying even $100 for a used, beat up looking dryer just didn't sit right with us. Seemed like Craigslist wasn't going to be the right route for us either.
That weekend, we decided to shop around and price new washers and dryers. We figured if we were going to upgrade our dryer, we might as well upgrade the washer too so that they were the same models. Besides, we've been talking about upgrading them anyways once we move out of the apartment, so why not just go ahead and do it a few months early?

To say we experienced some sticker shock is an understatement. Who knew washers and dryers were so darn expensive?? It didn't help that we were drawn to the front loaders. And we preferred grey over white, red, or blue. I still can’t figure out why grey (not stainless steel, like in the picture above) cost so much more than any other color.
After having our bubbles burst, we revisited the idea of buying used. We stopped in the middle of our shopping trip to have some lunch and made a pros/cons list of buying new versus buying used. In the end we decided that buying new was the right route for us. There was only one more problem lying ahead of us: money.

Since going through Financial Peace University, Dan and I have always maintained a minimum $1,000 emergency fund in our savings. But we realized that a thousand dollars wasn't going to cover this appliance purchase. We didn't feel comfortable completely depleting it either. So that meant we needed to save up for them. That meant more nights spent at the Laundromat. No more eating out. No snowball payment on Dan’s car. Every penny we could pinch from our budget went towards our washer and dryer.
It took a month, but we did it! Two weekends ago we went out and bought our new washer and dryer. We bought white, LG front loaders (you can see them here and here - funny thing is, they're now priced $75 lower per model than they were when we purchased them!) from HHGregg. Why HHGregg? Well, they came recommended from some friends of ours. Plus, they shopped around online, found the cheapest price, and matched that price for us. We thought they had free haul away and delivery, but later found out that you had to pay for it up front and got a gift card later in the mail once you filled out the rebate paperwork. We hadn't budgeted for delivery…. which put us $50 over our max budget. We told the sales guy that it just wasn't going to work and that we’d be back in 2 weeks when we had more money in our account. He asked us to wait and talked to his manager. Not only did they chop off the $50 for us, but they took it down another $40 beyond that – and we still got the delivery rebates. Plus, when they were delivered, there was a scratch on the washer door, so we're suppose to get a $75 refund. At the end of it all, our final cost will be $1,610.21.
We had to wait a week for delivery, but they are here!

It’s honestly sad how excited we are about two large chunks of metal. I think what feels the best though was being able to save up for them and tell the sales guy he could keep his store credit card.

They both stick out past the door frame slightly, but it doesn't really bother us. The curtain that is normally hanging up in that doorway covers it all up. Unfortunately, the washer door opens in the wrong direction. But we're hoping that when we get our own place, it won't be a big deal. The only other change we had to make to the laundry room was to move the cats' litter box to another room. 

Oh, and I bought a yard of fabric from JoAnn's to cover the washer. Why? Well, we wanted to set all of our stuff on top of it (dryer sheets, loose change jar, etc.), but didn't want to risk scratching it up. My mom gave us a scrap piece of shelving liner to place underneath the fabric to keep it from sliding around. We talked about doing the same thing to the dryer, but we decided that we liked the dryer bare so that we can use it as a place to fold all of our clothes.

I went for something that had blues and greens in it. The fact that there was a brown stripe to match the curtain was pure coincidence! And for around $5, it's the perfect way to add a little bit of color and pattern to such a tiny room.

So there you have it, our new washer and dryer. We seriously couldn't be happier with the pair. It makes doing laundry seem less like a chore.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Scary Things

Since first hearing the news about Boston on the way home from work yesterday, I've seen this quote pop up a few times in my news feeds:

I had not heard this quote before yesterday, but it makes a lot of sense. And it got me thinking....

A lot of large-scale tragedies have happened in my relatively short lifetime. Many while I was a kid. I never realized how many until I was teaching a lesson on the Clinton and Bush administrations the other day and we were talking about the different attacks that had occurred during those 16 years.
Although I don't remember it, the first World Trade Center bombing happened when I was 5 years old. 
I can recall the Oklahoma City bombing. I was in 2nd grade. Students in our school wrote poems and drew pictures to send to the families affected by the event, and our words and images were turned into a book. 
In 5th grade, the shootings at Columbine happened. I remember the news reports. I remember the atmosphere at school changing in the following days. But I don't remember being scared. Maybe I was still too young to understand? 
September 11th, 2001, I was sitting in my eighth grade English class when our principal came over the intercom and announced the attacks. None of it made sense at the time. Why would people do something like that? Now when I look back and watch the footage from that day, all I can focus on are the faces of the first responders as they headed towards those towers and wonder if they ever made it home that night.
West Virginia Tech. Fort Hood. Aurora, Colorado. Sandy Hook Elementary. And now, Boston.
I've started to lose track of all the crazy things that have happened in our world. I fear I'm starting to become desensitized to it all. Yes, I hurt when I see these things on the news. Please, don't misunderstand me. But I'm starting to notice that with each event that happens, those feelings of shock and raw emotions don't last nearly as long as they use to.

I think what scares me the most, though, is that these events and all their craziness will start to become "normal." I think about my students - they were only in kindergarten or 1st grade when 9/11 happened. I think about how much they've witnessed in their 15-16 years on earth. I wonder if events like Boston, or even Sandy Hook, are just another news story to them. They didn't even bring it up today in class... I wonder if they realize that it wasn't always this scary out in the world - you weren't constantly looking over your shoulders or suspiciously eyeing the person next to you. Or maybe it was and I was, again, too young to realize it.

We need to remember that there is still good in this world. There are still "helpers" out there. Extra prayers should be said today. Not just for the victims of Boston and their families. But also for those firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics who helped. For the bystanders who put others before themselves. For the nurses and doctors who cared for all of the hurt and wounded. We need to remember them in our prayers as well.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...