Daffodils are perfect for me.

by Kristen on April 15, 2014 · 11 comments

in Gardening, Photos

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I post a picture and just a few words.

picking spring daffodils

We’ve established before that I am very not awesome at gardening, but despite that fact, our daffodils manage to be beautiful each year.  (Mostly because they require no attention. ;) )

And voles don’t eat them, which is the main survival requirement for anything in our yard.

cut daffodils

P.S. I found this helpful list of bulbs that voles hate. Based on this, I’m definitely not wasting money on tulips anymore and I think I might add some muscari to our yard this fall.


My washing machine, it is fixed.

by Kristen on April 14, 2014 · 57 comments

in Fix-It!

This is good news indeed.

repairing a whirlpool direct drive washer

Our washer started having some weird symptoms a little while back, and they exhibited themselves only when I washed several loads right in a row.  The first load would be fine, but then on the second or third load, the spin cycle would do a weird stopping thing, almost like it was getting caught.

We did some googling, replaced a small part which didn’t end up fixing the problem, and then we decided that we would like to pay someone to fix this for us because the problem didn’t seem to be super obvious or super common.

So, I hopped onto Angie’s List and found a small one-person appliance repair company.

This is usually my preference when I have to hire someone because bigger companies have more overhead (office, receptionist, etc.), and when I have an issue like this, I prefer not to speak to a receptionist! It’s so much nicer to be able to talk to the repairman directly because then you can ask some questions.

Anyway, when he came over, of course the washer wouldn’t make the sound.


He checked the machine over thoroughly and said he was pretty sure the only thing it could be was the transmission, and left me with instructions to wash lots of laundry and to take video of the washer misbehaving.

(This made me really happy that I finally have a smartphone…it was so easy to take a video and text it on over to him!)

So I did, and once he saw the video, he felt positive that the transmission was the issue.  It took a few days for the part to come in, but he told me I could do laundry in the meantime which made for a happy me!

When he came back to install the part, the whole job took him probably only 30-45 minutes, and that included him doing a thorough cleaning of my machine, which was pretty dusty and dirty underneath the cover.

whirlpool washer taken apart

(If Mr. FG and I had attempted this repair, I am positive it would have taken us far, far longer!)

It turned out that the clutch on our machine was worn, but fortunately he had ordered one of those just in case (and it was only a $15 part).

Now my machine is running like new and I am so happy!

(Incidental tip: the black stuff inside the outer drum is soap buildup and to prevent that, he said to run a large empty load with hot water and a cup of powdered dishwasher soap once every few months. The chemicals in the dishwasher soap dissolve the laundry soap buildup.  He said this is especially important to do in front-load washing machines.)

The Cost

The total cost for both visits, the parts, and the labor was $250.

About half of that was for parts, so we really only spent an extra $125 for the luxury of having someone else do the work.

This is the first time Mr. FG and I have paid someone to repair our washer or dryer, and I’m so glad we chose to this time around.  The fixes we’ve done ourselves in the past have been pretty simple, but this one was trickier to diagnose (Our very experienced repairman had never seen a whirlpool transmission behave this way before!) and the labor was a lot more involved than our previous projects

We could have spent a lot of time and money trying to fix this ourselves and may still not have figured it out, and having it up and running in short order was very worth an extra $125 to me.

Fix or Replace?

When I mentioned we were fixing our washer again, a reader (Hi, Reese!) left a comment wondering how we decide whether it’s worth it to fix our machines instead of buying new ones.

For the washer, the answer is pretty easy…we’ve heard from several sources (including the repairman who fixed our machine this time) that our KitchenAid/Whirlpool direct drive washer is the best washer out there.  They don’t make them anymore and apparently the newer machines are much more repair-prone than this one.

An advantage to this older machine is that it is made well and the design is very simple. Nothing is computerized and there aren’t even any belts that can wear out.

Anyway, because this is a great washing machine, we’re pretty committed to fixing it no matter what.  We have a new clutch and transmission now, we already replaced the lid switch and the agitator, and the repairman said the brake and motor are in great shape, so we should be good to go for a while now.

I don’t know how awesome our dryer is, but it’s a pretty simple design too (nothing computerized!) and I’m inclined to keep repairing it as long as we can.

We’ve done several repairs to each appliance ourselves, and I believe that so far, we’ve put less than $100 in parts into the machines not counting this recent $250 repair bill.

Even with the recent repair, we’ve only put $350 into these appliances, and that doesn’t come close to the cost of a new set.

Then there’s the fact that throwing appliances away is kind of not awesome for the environment AND the fact that even if we did spend money on new ones, they’d probably break more often than our old ones…so all told, repairing vs. replacing is definitely a smart decision for us.

My washer and dryer won’t win any beauty awards, but hey, they live in an ugly, unfinished laundry/storage room, so they kind of go with the rest of the decor.  ;)  And most importantly, they clean and dry my clothes, which is what really matters.


Joshua’s 52 Project post: Mesmerizing


Of banana muffins and cilantro and blackberries and cucumbers…

April 11, 2014
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Every week, I post a picture of the food that has gone bad over the last seven days. Why do I do this? Because in March of 2008, I finally got fed up with the amount of food I was wasting, and I thought that showing my waste to other people would motivate me to […]

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Wonton Soup and Egg Rolls

April 10, 2014
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On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I post a picture and just a few words. Because hard as I try, there are just some days when dinner cooking doesn’t happen and Chinese carryout comes to the rescue.

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Without frugality, none can be rich…

April 9, 2014
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“Frugality is so necessary to the happiness of the world, so beneficial in its various forms to every rank of man, from the highest of human potentates to the lowest laborer, and the miseries the neglect of it produces are so numerous and so grievous that it ought to be recommended for every variation of […]

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Goodbye, (first) compost bin.

April 8, 2014
Thumbnail image for Goodbye, (first) compost bin.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I post a picture and just a few words. After six years of exposure to the elements, my very first Rubbermaid compost bin has bit the dust. The plastic had gotten so brittle, I could barely keep the bin together as I hauled it to the curb. It was time to […]

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