I had a great weekend. This was the first weekend in a while that we had hardly any plans — just had some friends over for dinner, which was fun, rather than a hectic commitment.
That means I actually had a chance to get things done.
1. I installed a dishwasher.
I started on Saturday by forcing my family out to our local Lowe’s to purchase a dishwasher. Well, first, on Friday, I pulled out the old dishwasher and tried to run it. We think it was leaking because the pump broke — sad but true. And we decided to replace the dishwasher because we cook all the time, and our kitchen has three squares of counter space — so using one square up with our dish drying rack just wasn’t cutting it. (We did have our lowest-ever electric bill in October, probably because we weren’t using the dishwasher, but our gas bill was nothing to write home about.)
Friday night, we visited the Sears Appliance Outlet, which is rumored to have great deals on appliances. I am sad to report those rumors are false. The Sears Outlet mostly had Bosch appliances for $900. Nothing under $400 except one special-order dishwasher — and no amazing eco reports, either. Lowe’s had a broad selection. We were pretty tempted by a couple of the Bosch machines, which have high customer satisfaction and low energy use … although I have heard several reports that their control boards tend to burn out. And part of their energy savings come from not having a heated dry — but I turn off the heat dry, so hopefully that will break even.
We wound up buying a Frigidaire machine that costs under $300 and uses just over 6 gallons of water for a normal wash cycle. We saved another $150 by driving it home and installing it ourselves. I’ve never installed an appliance like that, but with the help of Mr. Cheap for the manly-man parts (like helping me carry it and pulling out and pushing in the water inlet pipe), I did it. It took about three and a half hours before and after our dinner guests, but it worked beautifully to clean just about all the dishes from dinner for six. And to my relief, the top edge is straight across — the old one was installed crooked.
Now I’m just hoping we can get someone to take and reuse our old dishwasher instead of sending it to the landfill.
2. I made my own yarn.
Remember back in August, when I bought a spinning wheel? I’ve been working/struggling with it off and on since then. In late September, I hit a yarn shop in Wheat Ridge and bought 7 ounces of dark brown baby alpaca top. (At least I think it’s top — I’m still learning the spinning lingo, and believe me, it is almost a full foreign language! It’s a batch of soft wool, combed into long strands; 7 ounces looked like a wig made of fuzzy hair smoothed barely into submission.)
As I began to spin, I realized I’m probably kind of crazy to start with this wool — it is pretty slippery and not nearly as clingy as some kinds of wool. This means it was tricky to start to spin. But I finished it all, and last night I plied it (spun the two strands together) into real yarn. I think I only saved $6 or $10 from what the yarn would have cost to buy … and the finished professional yarn would have been better than mine is … but it’s a small price to pay for the learning experience.
Next step: Knit it up into some fingerless gloves I can wear while I work — and that will save money by letting me keep the heat a little lower this winter. And they’ll be luxurious — baby alpaca is incredibly soft fiber.
The other added benefit of doing it yourself is knowing who did the labor and under what conditions.
3. I celebrated the end of daylight savings with a morning run.
Technically, this doesn’t save me money right now, because I am keeping my gym membership for yoga classes and occasional treadmill visits. But when I first started running and walking occasionally, I did it outside because for no cost beyond a good pair of running shoes (perhaps an $80 investment for the year) I could get a great workout.
I am a fan of multitasking my exercising – on the treadmill at the gym, watching some trashy TV show while listening to my iPod and possibly also reading a magazine, if I’m on a bike instead of a treadmill. But exercising outside has its own charms. Seeing the neighbors, enjoying the camaraderie of other exercisers, and in my neighborhood, running on a nice dirt path under the gorgeous trees on a wooded parkway.
If you are very cheap, on a Monday morning like this one, an outside run also allows one to peruse the neighbors’ trash. I almost picked up a funnel, and composters would have found a raked-leaf paradise out there. (Again, I deplore our city’s lack of yard waste recycling – you have to drop leaves at a designated site, and most people don’t bother.)