Upgrading My Life

Every year I try to invest in at least one thing that will improve my quality of life.

In 2017 I invested in a refurbished desktop computer to make writing easier.

In 2018 I invested in some shelves, a number of books to educate myself, and a larger monitor so that I could see the screen on my computer better.

This year your friendly neighborhood cheapskate invested in a washing machine.

While I don’t mind going to the laundromat, my schedule has become so hectic with work that I dread taking time away from my day to load up, drag the stuff the few blocks to the laundromat, and listening to screaming kids as I spend my hard-earned cash washing up. I’ve debated the individual merits for at least a year or so even on this website, and I finally located a machine that will pay for itself quickly. It’s not as large or as fancy as the kid wanted but it will wash about 95% of my laundry so I am content.

I paid a bit under $80 for the washer, a warranty, and one of those little floaty lint catchers, and have been busy wearing it out ever since. With the chaos of these past few weeks I was overdue for a trip to the laundromat so I had a good $30-$35 worth of laundry to wash. Just getting the mess caught up would put me halfway towards paying it off, I realized when I saw the price on Amazon.

For several days after it arrived I kept that little machine busy every single moment I was at home. I quickly discovered that the fill hose it comes with is virtually useless; even if you rig it up to your sink, it is so small that it takes ages to fill the wash tub. It’s a much quicker process to just fill up a couple of buckets and dump it in.

To use the washing machine, I simply place it in my bathtub and position the drain hose so that the water goes straight into my drain. I fill it up with buckets from the faucet, adjust the knobs, and putter around doing other things as it does its thing. To dry, I hang them up on my drying rack after I spin them out.

The laundry completely dries in just a few hours.

Now that my laundry is caught up I simply wait until I have a small load. I stick it in the washer either before or after my work shifts depending upon my schedule.

It is truly a game changer.

You don’t know how useful something is until you do without it for a time. I’d never much thought about how convenient having a washing machine could be until I lived for years without one.

Even better, now that I have a washing machine again I’m able to reduce how much money I spend, not only at the laundromat, but around this house, cause this girl is going back to using cloth for a number of items again. I’ve already went back to using my handkerchiefs to blow my nose instead of bathroom tissue. I’ve went back to using cloth even for cleaning up nasty messes since it’s no big deal to toss a couple of really dirty items into the washer and knock them out in an individual load.

I’m even seriously considering going back to using family cloths instead of purchasing bathroom tissue, but that’s still up for debate.

For the moment I’m simply going to savor the fact that I can wash laundry whenever I want while I debate the merits of investing in a small dryer.

What have you done to upgrade your life so far this year? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Life Without a Coffee Maker

Growing up as a child, I recall the time when my parents decided they were tired of instant coffee and switched to drip.

Every year or so they had to replace that stupid machine, sometimes twice a year. Every time the latest machine went belly up they would gripe about how cheap things were made. Even the expensive coffee makers would die in a short span of time!

When I reached adulthood, I ended up marrying an inveterate coffee drinker. He would drink anything, so long as it was coffee.

For the first few years coffee was brewed in an electric percolator – I guess it tasted alright for he drank it – I wasn’t in a coffee phase so I never tasted it!

Eventually we moved on to a “real” drip coffee maker. Determined to ensure my husband (and myself by that time) had good coffee I would clean the machine out with vinegar – only to have the machine die the next time we used it.

I thought it was a fluke, so we purchased another. I didn’t clean this one for almost a year, but when I did – alas, I killed it too.

When I stopped trying to clean the machines, they would last a long time before eventually going to coffeemaker heaven, but go they all eventually did.

Sometime after moving out on my own I realised that I didn’t really drink enough coffee to justify a coffeemaker taking up space on my counter, yet I did not want to have to keep instant on hand. For a time I attempted to find a consumer solution – single cup coffee makers, smaller coffee makers, coffee makers on clearance – all of these solutions still left some sort of monstrosity sitting on my precious countertop for the rare times when I wanted a good cup of coffee.

Currently I have a percolator pot, but instead of perking the coffee I generally boil the water in my teapot and pour it in to get the equivalent of a drip. It isn’t bad, but still I have this pot taking up space in my cabinets for the rare time I get the taste for coffee.

I have heard that a French Press would be a good space-saving solution for those occasional cups of coffee, but there you go with the consumer bit. Always we seem to think (myself included) that we have to buy something to solve a problem. I honestly don’t want to buy anything unless I have to, and considering that this metal stovetop percolator has no moving parts to die, I guess I’m stuck unless someone has a better idea.

The thing is, I don’t even know if I would like the coffee that a French Press makes. Why spend that money on something that I don’t know if I will like? It would definitely take up less space, and I could put my percolator on Freecycle. Hey, perhaps I could offer a trade in a classified – stovetop percolator for a french press? Then I could try it without having to “buy” it in the traditional sense.

Does anyone have any thoughts on living without a traditional coffee maker? What do you do in a minimalist kitchen when you want the occasional cuppa joe?

Update: I posted a “want to trade” ad on my local isp’s classifieds in hopes of exchanging this percolator for a french press. Hopefully someone out there has a french press they are willing to trade. If so, I have reached a non-consumer solution to the issue (fingers crossed.)