Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roomba to the Rescue

Last week Rob came home with a little surprise. We had been watching "Flipping Out" the night before and the housekeeper, Zoila, hated the Roomba because she thought it was replacing her. Rob has always wanted a Roomba and I would just roll me eyes because it doesn't make sense to spend nearly $200 on something we should be doing frequently. Queue Criagslist, where Rob was able to find one for $80!

Now I've changed. I love it. We turn it on 2-3 times a week and it cleans up all the cat hair. You still need to vacuum too, but now the Roomba just gives you a hand during the week when you don't have time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bedroom Inspiration

I've been looking for some inspiration lately for the bedroom that we'll be building in the attic. This week we finally started to meet with some contractors and discuss options, ideas, and timelines with them. It's crazy to think that we'll finally be finishing a project that we meant to complete almost 3 years ago, but we never really got around to spending the time or the money. All in all, I hope that we make a decision soon and start to work on the construction in November! I've been tasked with compiling ideas and I'm posting a few now. Are there any that you like?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hockey Town

A few weeks back Rob got connected with a guy who was looking for a defensive man on his hockey team. Rob has been itching to play hockey again since we moved to Seattle, but teams to join are tough to find. He got lucky and he now plays on Sunday nights. Last night was big time because they played at the Everett Events Center where the SilverTips play!

I'm not going to lie, I don't get hockey. I am a sports fan, but I just don't understand the rules. Sounds crazy from someone who spent 5 seasons at Michigan Tech! I don't even know what the blue line is. But I will go cheer on my favorite hockey player any day. (Full disclosure: I brought a book to the arena to read too).

The Greasy Weasles lost 2-4. Humph.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vancouver, WA Tri

I've been horrible about updating the blog, but moving into the fall months it should be easy if I can get Rob's help too. Anyway, I wanted to post about a special Duathlon / Triathlon that Rob and I did together down in Vancouver Washington. It was the weekend after labor day.

Allison's Triathlon: There were only about 60 participants and it got off to a great start with the swim. However, the bike, which was supposed to be for beginners quickly turned sour. It was 14 miles of pure hell. Nothing but large rolling hills. By about 4 miles in, I was already walking my bike up hills. I am not too proud to walk up hills but I will die before I DNF (Do not finish). Finally when that part was over, moving in to the run was a breeze but my legs were already fried. I finished. I guess that' good.

Rob's Duathlon: Rob rocked the Duathlon, what else would I expect? He set the 5 K Race time at somewhere around 8 minutes. Then he rocked the bike. Only a small problem at the end during the last part of the run. It was hot as hell and he thought he might pass out so he stop for a few minutes. Either way. He did great. I cant wait to get him in more next year! Also 0 He won 2nd Place (out of 4). :)

Even though it was hard it was still fun. Probably the best way to shed 1500 calories before breakfast.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Salute the Jeep. Embrace the Nerd Mobile!

The time has come to put my beloved '01 Jeep Cherokee out to pasture.

Since downsizing to a 1-car family, our wheels are more for utility than image. For several reasons... We don't drive to work. We sold the "fun" MINI and kept the very "practical" Jeep. We despise traffic congestion, therefore city driving is my least preferred option. We love a great road trip - but we'd prefer it free of gridlock and freeway parking lots. The last thing we want to become is smug, but we just don't drive much anymore...

When the Jeep was stolen about a month ago, we had to consider a replacement car. It had been a spot-on reliable utility, and we had no intentions of replacing. We just wanted that Jeep back. Acknowledging it might never be found, we took the advice of our insurance agent and got a few 1-day rental cars to look at used cars on the weekends. We hoped to find something approximately the value of the Jeep, to avoid dipping substantially into savings. We were primarily interested in wagons or small SUVs, since we need a practical, economical, and utility vehicle that could measure up to our Jeep.

I previously owned a Subaru Outback wagon, and despite high repair costs, it was a pretty good car. The Jeep wasn't great on gas, but considering how little we drove it, that really didn't matter. So, we foraged for something similar to these. Had a hard time finding a decent wagon in our price range ($7-9K) because they are popular in the Pacific Northwest and tend to hold value pretty well. After a rather hilarious experience that reinforced everything behind the sleazy used car salesman stereotype, we quickly exited the market for dealer used Volvo XC70 wagons. There were plenty of other small SUVs, but almost all were simply above our price range or had too many miles.

After a couple of weeks, we had a lot of leads. But nothing really stood out. Frustrating.

Our last mid-size "default" rental car was a 2009 Chevy HHR 2LT, a car we had neither driven nor knew much about. I don't intentionally snub brands, but I never owned a GM car either. Maybe it finally felt like a nice handling rental car. Maybe it was the handy aux/in for iPod. Maybe it was the very comfortable leather seats, zippy 4-banger, ABS, traction control, and did I mention unexpectedly good handling? Maybe it was because it was a bright sunny day, and since selling the MINI we had been sunroof-deprived. Maybe it was all these things to really enjoy driving this car while looking at used cars. It might have had more interior hauling room than our Jeep, definitely had more spacious back seats, had as much roof storage, and had lots of extras mentioned above. The only downside seemed to be no 4-wheel-drive. But, since ice is a bigger problem than snow in Seattle (no ABS in the Jeep made that very exciting), maybe I'd actually get to use my tire chains next year. So, the next day we included used HHRs it in our online scouring. After looking at and driving several, we quickly concluded we were somewhat spoiled by our loaded rental car. The LS base model cloth interior is a bad choice (stains easily) and the smaller 4-cyl is, well, too small. The LT models are higher price (there is a top SS-model, but let's be honest - it is ridiculous). We were soon in the same boat as the small SUV and wagon searches, struggling with high prices and high miles.

About a day later Allison stumbled upon a Vancouver WA craigslist ad for a fully loaded '06 HHR LT with fairly low miles and a good price. We made plans in the next week to meet the seller, review & drive. Finally, a promising lead!

Two days later and after I was convinced it was gone for good, our Jeep was recovered by the Seattle police! Unfortunately it had extensive (mostly cosmetic) body damage. No observed mechanical damage, but the body repairs exceeded its value. Bummer. It was processed a total loss by my insurance company, and I was back shopping for a replacement.

We kept the plans and met the lady selling the HHR the next weekend, and it was perfect. I had already done the VIN checks and Carfax reports, and everything checked out clear. So, after a little negotiation we became the happy owner of a shiny "newsed" car!

We fully admit this is not a car for many would brag. We have already taken a lot of ribbing from friends, ranging from its high amount of "chrome per square inch," or simply "you bought what? on purpose?" I welcome this harassment! I simply was unaware there were higher end HHRs with such nice features. In the end, the numbers and search criteria met. We proudly brand it our "nerd mobile" and aim to enjoy for years and years.