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Home Improvement Shopping Adventures

July 14th, 2020 Comments off

Saturday 06/27 we did a little shopping out in Geneva. Our first stop was At Home to look for patio furniture. We arrived as soon as they opened and while they didn’t have anything we liked, all was not lost – we found a shower curtain, rings, and placemats.

At Home Purchases

Unfortunately the white shower curtain makes the master bathroom tub look dirty (because it’s off-white), so we ended up getting a grey/cream striped shower curtain from Target instead, and moved the white one to the guest bathroom.

Target Shower Curtain

Tuesday 06/30 we made a quick run out to the Walmart in Elk Grove Village to buy this awesome patio rug that I saw online only to learn their website lies and there were none left in stock.

Walmart Patio Rug

I could order it from Amazon if I was willing to pay $62, but I’m just not. I wish you could order it from Walmart to be shipped but it’s not an option. I keep looking elsewhere for rugs but am not having any luck. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will drop in price on Amazon. Or we’ll find something even better. I feel like (most) things happen for a reason.

We did come across this adorable welcome mat while at Walmart.

Welcome Mat

I’ve been keeping my eye out for a hefty welcome mat for years and this one is not going to be blowing away, I will tell you that! Only $12.

Friday 07/03 we decided to visit IKEA. Since they didn’t open until 10 am, we stopped at Dollar Tree first. The one we visited (in Villa Park) is the biggest DT we’ve ever been to which make social distancing easy. They were listed as having an expanded craft section but it didn’t really feel that much larger than the DT’s near the house. I did appreciate the wider/shorter aisles to avoid other people, though.

IKEA ended up being a bust. There was a line around the corner from the entrance and they were just letting everyone in at once (unlike Trader Joe’s when we visited – they would stagger people entering the store). We left without even going inside. Our fault for not realizing that just like Joe, many people were off work for the 4th of July holiday. Couple that with their late opening (10 am) and it’s not too surprising how busy they were.

Thursday 07/09 we went to Goodwill to look for a mantel clock and a container to keep the dishwand in by the sink. Struck out on those things, but found this beautiful white vase for $3.

White Vase from Goodwill

We also went to Dollar Tree and I got this woof sign that I used command picture-hanging strips to put above the wall decals that were already there.

Woof Sign

We ended up going back yesterday (07/14) and it was much less crowded. Ironically enough, we didn’t get the main item we were there to get because it was out of stock (despite saying otherwise on the website). I did get this cute planter for my succulent, though, so all was not lost.

In addition, we got a new light for the dining room.

IKEA Light

We have been wanting to replace our foyer light since we moved in (16 years ago) but have put it off because it requires obtaining scaffolding to reach the ridiculously high ceilings. We decided we’re going to do it very soon, however. The problem is we haven’t been able to find a light we liked. The other night it occurred to me that we could find an inexpensive light for the dining room and move the light that’s there now to the foyer.

Current dining room light (to be replaced by the IKEA light discussed above)

Dining Room Chandelier

We just need to buy a longer chain. We rarely use the dining room light anyway because we dislike over-head lighting. Not only does making the switch make sense, it saved us money. We’re also planning on replacing the ceiling fan in the living room so we bought a new one from Lowes yesterday for $95 (they sent me a $5 off coupon).

Hunter Fan (Lowes)

I’ll include photos of the entire before and after once the work is complete.

Recent Purchases (aka TikTok Made Me Do It)

June 15th, 2020 Comments off

TikTok is a bad/good influence; I’m learning about all kinds of great products. I’m also spending money, so there’s that. I’ve justified it because I was too sick to do any gift buying/receiving for Christmas or my birthday, but at some point I’ll probably need to slow down. Until then, though, I’m going to post about the neat things I’ve been purchasing.

Car hooks are such a genius idea. I originally purchased this set:

Car Hooks 01

While they fit both cars fine, I was a bit annoyed that the metal was already rusting. Plus, they just didn’t look all that nice. So I ordered these instead, and returned the other ones.

Car Hooks 02

Only $6 for four, so we keep two in each car. We no longer have groceries rolling around the seats.

I love my Simple Modern water bottles. I’ve been using a 22 oz purple bottle since August 2017 and a 10 oz black one since March 2018 and haven’t felt the need to purchase any other bottles since. When I learned that you can buy a boot that fits both sizes perfectly, I was intrigued. It comes in all sorts of colors but I chose black so it would match both bottles I have, and even Joe’s blue one.

Water Bottle Boot

Since the bottles are metal, one risks scratching any surface you put them on, not to mention the noise they make when you set them down on a hard surface. The boot solves both those issues. It’s like having a drink coaster everywhere you go. I no longer have to worry about ruining my wood nightstand or have trouble locating the coaster in the dark when I get a drink of water in the middle of the night.

For years I’ve been using shelf liner to separate our pots and pans. It definitely helps keep the bottoms from scratching, but does nothing to protect the sides. This set of 9 protectors solved that issue.

Pot Protectors

Pot Protectors In Action

I love them, and while they’re not cheaper than Dollar Tree, they’re made of a sturdier material and are more aesthetically pleasing.

Speaking of DT, here’s a recent haul from them at the end of May.

Dollar Tree Haul

I also got this cute pinwheel, although it’s already tearing because, well, it was $1.

Pinwheel

It was the first time we shopped at Dollar Tree in months. I really missed it, but unless you get there when it first opens, it’s just too anxiety-inducing with their narrow aisles, which is why we’ve yet to shop at Aldi.

It’s helpful having a shower head with an attached hose when trying to give the dog a bath, or just cleaning the tub and shower. Our current hose was a bit on the short side, however, so I ordered this one from Amazon and love it.

Shower Head

Not only is it longer which makes cleaning much easier, but the hose is very lightweight and doesn’t twist up like the old one. It also doesn’t build up with water and make freaky sounding noises. At $20 it’s a steal; we ordered a second one for the guest shower.

Noticed a chip in our heavy glass measuring cup recently, so we chucked it in the recycle bin and I ordered a set of three plastic measuring cups from Oxo. Only $17 at Amazon.

Measuring Cup Set

I love how you can see the measurements from above. I just need to break myself of the habit of using them to mix up sauces and marinades, because the plastic does scratch fairly easily, even when using the silicone whisk I recently got from Dollar Tree. I have plenty of other bowls so I need to stop being lazy so my measuring cups will look nice for a long time.

Edited 06/17 to add these items we recently got (not influenced by TikTok):

We’ve been letting Wookie upstairs lately, and she’s even been sleeping in our bed (thanks, people who feel the need to set off fireworks a month leading up to 4th of July), so I decided to get a small garbage can with a lid for the master bedroom. This plastic one was only $15 on Amazon and it’s quieter than the stainless steel one in our guest bathroom downstairs (it clangs and bothers my broken right ear).

Simple Human Garbage Can

Wookie never messes with garbage but you can’t be too cautious when it comes to a dog. I was putting the old one up on the counter just to be safe, so now I don’t need to do that. I really want to buy a larger version of this for the kitchen but they start at $50 so I need to think it over.

We just received and installed this awesome under the cabinet jar opener ($13 on Amazon).

Jar Opener

No more struggling to open jars. Plus you can’t even see it’s there unless you know to look.

Categories: Photos, Shopping Tags:

Adventures in Shopping

May 19th, 2020 Comments off

The other day I went to put on my sneakers and something was poking the back of my ankle. Apparently the plastic along the back of the inside of my shoe had broken. Joe used one of his tools to snap enough of the broken piece off so it wouldn’t poke my foot, but I decided it was time to replace the shoes. I just checked now, and it turns out the shoes were purchased in January of 2017 so they had a long life.

I like black sneakers since they tend to go with most of my outfits, so I went to Kohl’s website to look for new ones. They were having a nice sale on my favorite sweartshirts of all time – Tek Gear Fleece Crewneck, which I discovered at Savers a couple of years ago. Sadly Savers is still closed right now so I can’t get them for under $5 but they were only $8 at Kohl’s (normally $20) so I excitedly ordered quite a few. Once all was said and done, even with the sales and coupon codes I found online, my total was around $150. I ordered eight sweatshirts and two pairs of shoes. Two of the sweatshirts were only available via curbside pickup and the rest were slated to be shipped to the house.

Mere hours after placing my order I was notified that two of the sweatshirts were cancelled because they were out of stock. The next day two more were cancelled. One from the pickup portion of the order was ready so we went and got that, but I waited until the rest of my order was shipped to try anything on. Oh, and by the time they shipped some more were cancelled, so in the end I got two of the eight sweatshirts I ordered, and both pairs of shoes.

On top of that, even though the sweartshirt I picked up, and the one that was shipped to me, are the exact same style and size, one fits better than the other, so I have to return one. I ordered a pair of Filas again since they were under $30, and a pair of New Balance because they were cute even though they are nearly twice as much. Interestingly enough, the Filas are way more comfortable even if they aren’t as cute, so the New Balance pair will be returned. I did pretty good guessing the proper size at least! It seems I fit into anywhere from a 7 up to an 8 and a half depending on the brand (I ordered a size 8 in both).

So – ordered ten items, only received four, and am only keeping two. Not great odds. I have to say, the experience has soured me on ordering from Kohl’s again. Perhaps this is some weird one-off, but I fail to understand how Kohl’s inventory system works where they will allow me to order items that really aren’t in stock. Isn’t me placing the order in essence reserving the item? I guess not. Super annoying!

I’ve recently become addicted to the app Tik Tok. There are so many interesting people on there! They also inspire me to step up my organization game (even though I’ve gotten next level on it lately). I ended up ordering over $100 worth of items at The Container Store on Sunday, but the best part is I only spent $9 out of pocket thanks to the digital gift cards I used as part of Discover’s cashback rewards program. I used $90 worth of rewards to get $100 and we still have over $200 of rewards waiting to be used. Looking forward to getting my items and writing more about those in a future entry.

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Adventures In Grocery Shopping

May 18th, 2020 Comments off

We’ve been having some interesting experiences with grocery pickups/delivery since this pandemic started.

We tend to alternate between Meijer and Mariano’s because of reasons that will become apparent shortly.

Meijer – Pros

– Meijer’s orders are handled by Shipt and their employees have been nothing short of awesome. They communicate very clearly, are friendly and efficient, and deserve every cent of the tip we give them. They let you know when they are shopping and text updates as they go.
– Once your order is complete you can see what you originally ordered vs what you actually were charged for.
– Everything is paid for online and you can rate and tip your shopper after picking up your order.
– The prices you pay are the actual store prices (at least from what I can tell, although we don’t get a Meijer receipt so I could be wrong about that).

Meijer – Cons

– The produce at Meijer isn’t the best quality.
– There’s a $5 pickup fee.
– If you’re not careful when editing your order, you might run into issues where items you thought were deleted from your cart are still there and items you thought were added are not.
– Sometimes the groceries are ready before/after your selected pickup time. The shopper can’t store them in a cooler so you have to be flexible about when you can get to the store.

Mariano’s Pros

– Their produce is very fresh/good.
– They keep waiving the $5 pickup fee.
– Even when they pick your order early (which they have done every time, by a few hours), they store it in coolers/freezers so nothing goes bad.

Mariano’s Cons

– They only tell you about substitutions after shopping your entire order.
– Mariano’s can’t text you so they call (if they call at all – we didn’t hear a thing on our very first order until it was time to pick up our groceries).
– They aren’t as conscientious as the Shipt people. Our last order included a bagged salad where most of the lettuce was already brown. It hadn’t yet reached expiration but I could see the rotten food even before opening the bag so they should have noticed it too. An order prior I asked for two cans of golden mushroom soup but I got one golden and one called beefy. Since it’s for a recipe I don’t want to mess with using something different that could affect the outcome.
– You have to pay to pay at your car and they don’t accept tips because everything is handled by their own employees. Also the person who brings out the groceries isn’t the one who shopped your order.
– Your original order is obliterated once they have fulfilled it so if you want to keep track of what was ordered vs what you got you need to PDF the order page ahead of time.

Last week we decided to try Target grocery delivery which is also handled by Shipt but through the Target website so we could pay with our Red Card (fun fact: Shipt is owned by Target). Our shopper was great, but for whatever reason we were charged $10 for delivery even though it showed as $0 as I was building the cart and even after placing the order. In fact, I checked the order during the time it was being shopped and it still said $0. I assumed it could see me logged into my Shipt account, or that they waive the delivery fee on the first order, so imagine my surprise when I got an email after the delivery showing we were charged $10. Frustrating! Equally frustrating was that when I called the wait time was over an hour. I ended up sending a message via their website. I will call again later this week if I don’t hear anything by then.

Update: I never heard back from Shipt so I called them and the woman was less than helpful. My friend suggested using the chat feature on the Target website so I did that and they agreed to refund me. I got half back to my Redcard and the other half back as a gift card, which I found strange, but whatever. I’m just happy they refunded me and now I know not to believe the site if it says the delivery is free.

I really cannot wait until this pandemic is over and I can shop for my own groceries again. In addition to the little errors the shoppers make, I myself keep making mistakes I wouldn’t make if I was at the store. I accidentally ordered chunky peanut butter instead of creamy and I ordered a really small tube of cinnamon rolls. Nothing earth-shattering, clearly, but just annoying.

Also, I really enjoy shopping for food. I just don’t feel comfortable with the potential exposure right now, although we are planning a trip to Costco later this week. I hope it goes ok. We drove past it today and they don’t seem to be limiting how many guests go inside anymore. I need to check their website to see what the latest protocol is.

Also also, we had to stop by the UPS Store today to process a handful of Amazon returns and while the employee was technically wearing a mask it does little good when it’s just hanging around their neck. The customer in front of us only had his mask over his mouth but not his nose. Now, I get they are super uncomfortable, but they are also useless if you’re not going to wear them the right way. /rant

Categories: Shopping Tags:

New Vacuum Cleaner

April 20th, 2020 Comments off

We recently purchased a new vacuum cleaner to replace the one we’ve had since moving into our current home nearly sixteen years ago.

I looked online at different models, and really liked the tools/features Bissell offered at an affordable price ($110 from Amazon). It also didn’t hurt that it’s my favorite color. :)

Bissell Cleanview Swivel Rewind Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

The day after it was delivered, I vacuumed the house and there was so much dust (which looks like sand in the canister) and dust bunnies it was unbelievable! Granted, it had been two weeks since we last vacuumed (we usually do it weekly), but I was still shocked.

I vacuumed again four days later and while the accumulation wasn’t as much as before, there was still a decent amount of dirt in the canister. Since we don’t wear shoes inside, we wipe Wookie’s paws after every walk, and she doesn’t shed, it’s amazing to me that so much stuff had accumulated so quickly. I can see and feel a difference in the carpet – its fluffier and literally looks cleaner. I guess that old vacuum just wasn’t doing its job.

I initially had mixed feelings about the new vacuum, and while I like it more after using it a few more times, it’s still not perfect by any means.

Pros

Powerful suction – lets me clean the bare floors without needing the attachments.

Lightweight – makes it easy to push and carry upstairs.

Convenient storage – the cord is stored in the machine and rewinds with the push of a button and all the attachments clip securely to the unit.

No bags or filters that need to be replaced.

Dislikes

I don’t like how dusty the machine gets when emptying the canister and there’s no HEPA filter (apparently Bissell doesn’t use HEPA in ANY of their vacuums for some reason).

It tips over easily when using the hose (even if I have it right next to me) so I’ve been hit in the head multiple times already.

It’s loud (88 decibels), so I need to use ear protection.

It sucks up small throw rugs (like ones by our doors or in the bathrooms) because you can’t reduce the suction power, so vacuuming those has become a two-person job – Joe holds them down while I vacuum one end, then flips it around to do the other side.

I might be expecting too much for the price of the vacuum. Plus how would I even return it during this time, or find one that doesn’t do the same thing without spending 3-4x more? It probably isn’t worth the hassle. I’m sure I’ll adjust to all its quirks in due time. Plus it does in fact clean very well which is the whole reason we bought it.

Categories: House & Home, Shopping Tags: