Posts Tagged ‘Target’

Must-Haves

Although I don’t usually plug specific consumer products on my blog, I recently came across two items that are must-haves.  I decided to share information about them here.

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While shopping at Target I noticed a water bottle made by Brita that contained a filter good for 300 uses.  The filter does not purify bad water, it simply makes drinkable water more palatable. It’s not something I’d need in Maine – – our well water is truly fantastic – – but  I thought the Brita bottle could be very useful in my hometown, where the water coming out of the faucet is downright gross.  It stinks of chlorine and goodness knows what else; it’s often murky with white matter floating in the glass right after you pour it from the faucet.     The tap water in my hometown is so bad  that even  my dog won’t  drink it, and this Brita water bottle was not only re-usable, the water really did taste better.  I knew it would be a great choice also for travel.  Since you can’t bring in any quantity of liquid over 3 oz. past security, I could  bring the bottle empty and then refill it at a drinking fountain inside the airport.  If you’ve ever been in LAX or Newark, you know how bad the water is from the drinking fountain, and the Brita filter promised to rectify that issue.  Plus, the water sold in airports and other tourist venues is grossly overpriced at $3 – 4 per disposable bottle. Besides the expense, I hate the idea of buying one-time plastic water bottles due to the tremendous waste they create. The price for the Brita was $16, but since the replaceable filter can be reused up to 300 times, I thought it was a bargain, especially with my upcoming trip to Israel.  In Israel the tap water is safe to drink but is often murky, very hard,  and the taste leaves much to be desired.

 

 

A couple of weeks later I was shopping in my favorite store:  Costco.  I noticed a two-pack of these towels, which promised to keep me cool.  I had tried similarly made towels before, but found the material to be rubbery and clammy.  The mini towels sold at Costco were instead soft and velvety.

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To derive maximum benefit, the towels are taken out of their air-tight plastic containers, soaked in cold water, and then all excess moisture is wrung out.  When the towel  is folded and draped around your neck, it retains cool moisture without feeling clammy or getting your clothes wet.   This special towel has many obvious uses (great for keeping cool when hiking, going to the gym, or playing sports) but it’s also terrific for women experiencing hot flashes.  To keep it moist when not in use, you store it in the included airtight plastic container.  If you let the towel dry out, you simply need to re-moisten it with fresh water and wring it out.  It is machine washable, too.  The price at Costco is $14 for the 2-pack, and is well worth it.

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In Search of the Perfect Clothesline

(click to enlarge)

 

Because we are living mostly off-the-grid and are highly dependent on sunny days for our electricity, I needed a washing machine that used very little electricity or water.  Our water comes from a well, but its source is hundreds of feet below the ground.  To get it up to the surface requires a 3/4 horsepower pump – which uses electricity.  So the less water used, the less the pump has to work.

We also want to avoid wasting water, because that flows into our septic system.  A full septic tank is not a pretty smell.  Do you feel frustrated and unfulfilled by your current job?  Realize that there are people who make their living doing nothing but pumping out septic tanks day in and day out, in all kinds of weather.  Makes you start appreciating the persnickety boss and suffocating cubicle at your current place of employment, doesn’t it?

If there is cloudy weather for days and days, and our battery supply is depleted to the point of no electric service, we do have two possiblities:  one is that we simply flick a switch and we are reconnected to the grid via our local power company.  When we’ve had to rely on this, our electric bills have typically been $10 – $25 per month.  The reason they’re so cheap is that we’ve invested a lot of time and thought into how we can cut down on energy expenditure.  Our house is super-insulated which means in summer we don’t need a/c even on the hottest days; in winter it retains heat so well that the woodstove is more than adequate and at times we’ve even had to crack open a window because it gets too hot inside the house!

We’re extremely careful about turning off lights that aren’t in use and using power strips that can be easily turned off to avoid energy vampires.  Most of the lights in the house are LEDs, which use much less electricity than CFL bulbs – – only 10 watts per fixture.  These look like any old recessed lighting fixtures, but they give off wonderful light, are much more pleasing and softer than CFLs, yet more natural looking, brighter and more intense .  I highly recommend them to anyone considering an update to their home’s lighting system:  www.cree.com

We put the largest windows on the south and west sides of the house.  On clear winter days the sun’s rays are absorbed by the glass and warm up our rooms nicely.  This is known as “passive solar.”

There are some things in the house that are powered by propane gas: our back-up heating  system, our kitchen range, our hot water, and our generator.  If we have a week of no sunshine and then there is a major storm and the power lines are down (and this happens a lot), the generator is a life-saver.  The downside, besides the noise, is that propane gas is rather expensive.  We have a 1000-gallon propane tank buried underneath the ground, but at $2.30 a gallon, it’s not something you want to drain quickly.  That’s why we don’t have a clothes dryer – – it eats up too much propane gas.  When I cook, it’s usually on top of my stove, because I find that using a pressure cooker cooks food very quickly and uses a whole lot less gas than if I bake something in the oven.

When looking for a washing machine, I first went to www.energystar.gov This was very useful also when looking for a refrigerator.  You can find out how much energy a particular appliance consumes, and compare different brands.  I found out that a medium-size Miele washing machine was the lowest for both electricity and water use, and it had excellent reliability ratings.  I wasn’t scared off by the smaller capacity, since I’m doing laundry for only 2 people these days.

There is only one problem with a Miele washing machine: the price.  At $2,000 – $3,000 there is no way I was buying one – – new, that is.

Thank you, CraigsList!  A guy in New Hampshire was selling his as-new Miele machine for $1200.  I waited a couple of weeks and then I emailed him.  “I noticed a couple of weeks ago you were selling a Miele washing machine.  There is no way I can pay you $1200, but if you’re willing to take $450 cash, I can be there tomorrow and take it away.”

It even came with an extended, transferable warranty.  I was very excited.  And, I’m happy to report, it does live up to its promise.  Our Miele washer really does get the clothes cleaner, using a bare minimum of detergent, water and electricity!

Hanging the wash is a work in progress, however.

Our laundry smells of fresh mountain air – it’s wonderful.  And we have lots of trees from which to string a clothesline!

A sunny November morning

But the trees have to be at least 20′ apart and here the woods are too thick.  And the line can’t be too far into the woods, because of mud in the spring and snow in the winter.  The clothesline has to be in an area of sunlight, because the cold temperatures and short days in the fall and winter mean the laundry will otherwise not get dry.  Location, location, location!

I do have a single clothesline strung, but am looking into stringing more on the side of the shed.  That’s when I found the Cord-A-Clip.  Even though we did not end up getting a Cord-O-Clip, as I watched the info video on YouTube, I got positively teary-eyed.

It made me think of my mother-in-law, a’h.

My mother-in-law was a TV addict.  She always felt grateful for television.  When she came to this country after the War, she didn’t understand or speak English, and everything and everybody was so different from what she was used to.  She had no money, but she did have a husband and two small children to nurture.  Rent had to be paid and food had to be put on the table.  There was no time to go to night school – – there weren’t enough hours in the day between caring  for the children, and she and her husband working their heads off.

At night when things quieted down, my mother-in-law watched TV.  She learned English from “I Love Lucy” and “Bonanza.”

But as that age of innocence devolved, TV embraced the culture of marketing.  And with it was born “As Seen On TV.”

My mother-in-law was its biggest devotee.

To my mother-in-law, if something was As Seen On TV, it was irresistible.  A product had to be good if it was clever enough and wonderful enough to be As Seen On TV!!!  Soon, the mail carrier  and UPS man were on a first-name basis with my mother-in-law, due to the weekly arrivals of innovative gadgets that were all stamped, “As Seen On TV!”

In her later years, she was thrilled when WalMart and Target created special sections in their stores, whose aisles were limited to items that were As Seen On TV.  It made shopping so much faster – she only had to go to that particular aisle when looking for presents to buy for her family!  Because if it was As Seen On TV, it was surely the most unique, clever and perfect present in the world!

When I saw the Cord-O-Clip, I knew my mother-in-law was smiling down at me from Above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4RLDKKdoQQ

If my mother-in-law were alive, I imagine this Chanuka we would have gotten presents marked “As Seen On YouTube!” because towards the end of her life, she really loved shopping on the Internet . . .

We miss her!

More shopping: Trader Joe’s comes to Maine!

Maine is a mostly rural state with lots of little towns. Even the big cities (Bangor, Portland, Augusta, and Lewiston-Auburn) are really little cities.  When something novel happens here in Maine it is BIG news.  And tomorrow’s opening of Maine’s first Trader Joe’s is, as one reader of the Portland Press-Herald newspaper declared, “the most exciting event in Portland’s history!”  Another writes, “Is it too early to proclaim opening day as a state holiday?”  They were not  being facetious.

Alas, Maine’s new Trader Joe’s is a 90 minute drive from our house.  That’s nothing compared to the devotees who regularly drive 3 hours to stock up at Trader Joe’s closest store unitl now, in Boston.

The other day I was doing errands in North Conway, New Hampshire, which has a giant outlet center with every possible type of upscale designer and regular store, 2 supermarkets, and a Walmart.  I got into a conversation with a 20-something woman who moved there only 2 years ago.

“Is there anything you miss?”  I aksed her.

“Yeah,” she sighed. “I’d kill for a Target!”

http://www.pressherald.com/news/sneaking-a-peek-at-joes_2010-10-28.html

http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3475/ItemId/14027/Default.aspx