Monthly Archives: July 2011

Shopping Haul Fail

Between the extreme heat, gallstone* troubles that landed me in the ER and our AC breaking down just as an HVAC guy was headed to our house to give us an estimate on system improvements, we had quite an exciting week. Not in a good way.

When I thought about the medical bills in addition to the $750 it will cost to fix the AC (the part won’t be in until next week), I just couldn’t find the mojo to buy anything beyond what was needed to get the Teen off to overnight camp, which I took care of at Kohls.

* Horrible pain; it was as though my gall bladder was in labor for several intense hours. There’s a good chance it will come out later this year. I know this is not uncommon for women of childbearing age- you have any insights or experience with this?

Is Induction Cooking Right for My Family?

induction cooktops do not get hot

The pot gets hot, but pad is just a bit warm.

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to the Chicagoland appliance Mecca, Abt (mmmm, free cookies). We checked out refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers. We also looked at the various ranges and cooktops. I was surprised that I didn’t see any induction ranges. What up? An employee told me that induction ranges were not on display because they have few successful buyers, meaning that not many people buy them and of those who do, a noticeable percentage return their units. I’ve heard this about induction from other appliance sales and repair people.

On the other hand, I’ve heard so much about the benefits of induction cooking from the PR arm of appliance companies.

Interesting, no?

Which brings me to this recent musing on the matter, which I originally posted on my personal blog, Hormone-colored Days.

I recently had a chance to visit the World of Whirlpool Product Experience Center in Chicago and learn about their new appliances. The Whirlpool lines include Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid and Jenn-Air. I showed up with a special kitchen issue of Consumer Reports in hand because I am that dorky and many of Whirlpool’s products received top ratings.

Knowing I have a kitchen and bath(s) redo, not to mention a new laundry room in my future, I thought this event would provide a good opportunity to learn about new appliances and visit with some of my blog friends.

Chicago is also home to the Kenmore Live Studio (a former client). I think it’s interesting to note the different approaches these two companies took. Whirlpool’s Center is quite, sophisticated, elegant and elite.

Kenmore, on the other hand, is practically a fishbowl. Located in a busy part of the city, in a street level corner studio with glass walls, Kenmore is for the people. And by the people, too. Parent groups, bloggers, even the Confection Industry trade group have used the space. It seems to me anyone with a good idea and a bit of enthusiasm can host a program there. They even launched their own reality web show.

One thing both Whirlpool and Kenmore have in common is their love of induction cooktops. Their PR folks proclaim that induction cooking is the wave of the future.

Induction cooking is, well, let’s just call it electro-magnetic magical and note that in order for it to work, you need ferrous, or iron-containing pots and pans (hint: a magnet will stick to them). Seriously, though, here’s a read about the science behind induction cooking.

Induction cooking is the most fuel efficient way to cook.

Not only does it waste less energy, but it heats up more quickly.

It’s safer if you have little ones around because the cooking element heats up the pot, not the surface. Therefore if junior turns the stove on and there’s no iron pot on the element, nothing will get heated up- there’s no danger of burns or burning down the house. Cool, huh?

So why aren’t the masses rushing to buy induction cooktops and ranges?

The unit may require an upgrade in your kitchen wiring.

You may need to buy new pots and pans. Out of the dozen or so pots and pans around my parents house, I only found one ferrous pot. This adds an expense to an already expensive new appliance. Also, of the many pots and pans on the market, only a few lines have labels noting compatible cooking surfaces. I’m not in the habit of bringing a magnet when I shop. Are you?

If you have a gas stove, it’s likely cheaper to use than induction, even though it’s not as energy-efficient.

I think another key deterrent is that few people know someone who actually owns and cooks with an induction cooktop. Who wants to be the first of their friends to take a gamble on such a costly purchase?

I don’t know if there’s induction cooktop trade group, but I think a massive sampling program is in order if appliance manufacturers want induction to catch on.

When I worked with Kenmore, they provided a handful of bloggers with induction cookpads, which not only made for the fabulous swag, but in hindsight, was a brilliant move. (Even more brilliant because the pad came with an induction-friendly pan.)

I have one of those induction pads and plan to experiment with it in the coming weeks*.

We’re rewiring the entire house, buying new appliances and gave away/sold/tossed our scratched up old pots and pan, so many purchase barriers have been eliminated. However, out kitchen has natural gas service, which means low operating costs, and likely a lower appliance purchase price, as well.

We could stick out necks out and go induction. Or we can stick with a gas range.

What do you think we should buy?

Do you have induction? (This is difference than a glass top electric unit.)  Do you know someone who has an induction cooktop?

I want to thank the folks at Whirlpool for an informative day (read a more detailed account over at West of the Loop) as well as as kitchen design an appliance inspiration, not to mention one of the best meals I’ve had all year.

*Given the lag time from draft to posting, I already started playing around with induction a bit more and will share my findings at Reluctant Renovator.

What are you doing? Enter our Housemoon Getaway!

I appreciate you stopping by this blog on a Saturday and all, but maybe Kohler Kidz activity listyou need something a bit more exciting to do on the weekends. How about a little down time in Kohler, Wisconsin? Let me help you with that. Click to enter to win a Kohler Kidz Getaway at the Inn on Woodlake.

Feeling Powerless

We knew the house was due for a major upgrade of electric service and budgeted accordingly. electircal service enters houseNot only was our panel out of date (cloth insulated wires, anyone?) but we new we needed to amp up in order to accommodate the conveniences of modern life- microwave ovens hair dyers and such. Not only that, but building codes just aren’t what they used to be. Hopefully that’s a good thing; it’s certainly costing us a bundle of money to upgrade. You see, right now the wires that bring service to the house enter the building just outside my son’s bedroom window.

I get tingly just think about it.

Not in a good way. That is potentially very dangerous!

Note: this is the room of the boy who stuck tweezers into an outlet just a few years ago. Thankfully it was a GFI outlet and the tweezers had rubber tips. The circuits were tripped and we might have needed to replace the outlet, but fortunately no other harm was done.

So, yeah, this has to be relocated per code.


This was one of the first tasks on our to-do list. We got three quotes, selected one and then were ready to roll. But need the approval of the power company before we can relocate the lines.

I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but in recent weeks, Chicago has been host to some pretty horrific storms.  Trees down. Hundreds of thousands of people without power (including us at times).

One of my boys on a felled tree.

The power company has been devoting mucho resources to clearing trees and fixing lines. In fact, they’ve been bringing in crews from nearby states to help out.

Which means that piddly matter like inspections for residential service upgrades fall low on the priority list.

The power company is scheduled to come out Wednesday, but guess what? As I write this Friday morning, all hell is once again breaking loose outside- lightning, crashing thunder, driving rain, strong winds. Uh, I should probably shut down the computer….

At least we sealed up the foundation crack in time for these summer storms.

From Useless Old Crib to Handy Magazine Rack

magazine rack from crib side railsI first learned of this simple project crib side rail magazine holder from the lovely Asha at  Parent Hacks, who in turn heard about it from a reader who read about on the design blog OhDeeDo. The idea stuck with me and when I saw a “doll crib” at a moving sale in my neighborhood, I briefly considered making an offer, until I saw the price tag labeled $10. I only wanted one siderail and I wasn’t willing to pay much for something that would surely annoy my husband.

So I passed up the doll crib that day, but saw sitting in pieces just two days later on the curb on garbage day, which as I’ve mentioned is the code for “free to a good home!

The Universe practically forced the small side rails upon me.

I think the magazine rack is kinda cute and useful.

DH hates it. Even for free.

Garage Sale Shopping Haul: Weekend of July 17, 2011

Though I can imagine the smoke coming from DH’s ears when he sees this because, 1936 typewriteras he will surely remind me, we’re not quite ready for items like this, I am super excited by my latest find. And it was such a deal! For only $20 I got what I peg as a 1936 Royal typewriter with a case (portable!).

Both are in very good condition. I haven’t inserted paper and, at any rate, I imagine the ribbon has dried out int he last75 years, but the keys work and the little bell dings when it’s time for a carriage return. I can’t wait to show my boys how I used to write my school papers.

For the record, I’m not that old, but I did tap out my share of homework on an electric typewriter, followed by a word processor and finally a TRS-80 green screen, because we we cutting edge.