Linen Decorative Cord Cover

Amazon has apparently blocked Hobby Lobby from their website so I had to make a page to link to these awesome cord covers. How lame is that. Anyway, I need a couple of these for the condo!

Replacing Our Water Heater

We have a Lochinvar model ETN065-423 high efficiency , 65 gallon, 65,000 BTU water heater, made by Bradford White. It needs to be replaced.  American Home Shield (our home warranty company) offered me a ‘standard 50 gallon tank with mixing valve’ replacement since 65 gallon units are no longer available … when I ask them for details about the 50 gallon tank (brand, btu, recovery rating, anything) they say they don’t know; no one will know anything about the until the unit is delivered.  Whaaaaaaat?  Obvs I am not going to agree to that.   Time to figure out how to buy a water heater.

sizing recI spoke with Dan at Bradford White and he gave me a lot of good info.  He said no way will a 50 gallon hot water heater be enough to suit our needs since usable hot water is typically about 75% of the tank capacity.  He directed me to their Sizing Calculator and it showed the minimum for our household (3 people, 2.5 baths, appliances and a 55-60 gallon Jacuzzi tub) is a 75 gallon hot water heater with 76,000 BTU (Model RG275H6N) or two 40 gallon tanks.  Then I go to AO Smith’s website and it shows 50 gallon high efficiency tanks that claim to heat a tub up to 80 gallons.

Things I learned today:

First Hour Rating.  Higher is better.  An FHA of 122 (our current heater) can put out 122 gallons of hot water in the first hour. After that the tank will need to recover before it can put out more.  On average an 8 minute shower will use 17 gallons.  The average dishwasher uses 6 gallons.  The average washing machine cycle uses around 40 gallons.  So a 50 gallon tank with 40k BTU might have a FHR of about 77.  You could take one shower, do one load of laundry, and one load of dishes before the hot water ran out but that’d be it.  Forget about a second person taking a shower or godforbid, a bath.

Uniform Energy Factor.  Higher is better.  And a gas EF of > .82 (or thermal efficiency > 90%) qualifies you for a $300 federal tax rebate.  I can’t find an EF on our current heater’s label.  It could be that wasn’t a thing in  2000 or whenever they made this thing.

More Rebates!  NM Gas Co offers a $300 rebate on condensing water heaters with a UEF of .87 or a EF of .90

Unfortunately I don’t think any hot water heaters that have an atmospheric vent qualify.  All the super high efficiency models have power vents.  I’m kicking around a 75 gallon Bradford White (model RG275H6N) and it’s UEF is .59 so no rebate for me.  It appears that once you get over 50 gallons, efficiency is hard to achieve.

Recovery Rate.  My Lochinvar is considered high recovery.  Lochinvar rep said an equivalent unit is rated 67 gallon per hour recovery @ 90 degree rise (which doesn’t seem very high to me). The rise is the difference between the ground water and the temperature at which you set your water heater.  So if my ground water is 45 degrees and my hot water temp is set to 135 (90 degree rise) it will recover 67 gallons of hot water every hour. I was told to look for a high demand quick recovery heater by my favorite HVAC company in Albuquerque, Fix Right.

Can your gas line handle the BTUs?  I called NM Gas company and Jeffrey in customer service said the plumber will let you know when they do the install if your current setup can handle the increased btu or if you’ll need to replace your meter.  He assured me that if the meter needed replacing NM Gas would be able to come out the next day to do it.  Good thing because the hot water heater won’t not be able to run if the gas line can’t support it.  There is no cost for the meter itself but I will be charged $70 an hour for their time.  He said it should only take an hour.  He obviously doesn’t know me.

What size PVC venting?  2″ 3″?  Can that be swapped out easily enough?

Is altitude an issue?

Warranty.  I’m not sure what the different warranties are but it looks like 6 years might be the average.  I would prefer a 10 year warranty to cover the time I plan to be in this house.

When I spoke with Moreno Plumbing (the service hired by AHS) I was told that brand names don’t matter.  “All water heaters are made by the same one or two manufacturers then companies like Rheems and State stick a label on it” … Dan at Bradford White says that is absolutely not true.  But we already know that BW made the Lochinvar unit in 2000 so it’s definitely sorta true.  So I pulled up the the Energy Star certified hot water heaters and despite being different brands, these 75 gallon units are identical:  A.O. Smith, American, GSW, Reliance, State … so who actually makes them??

You’ll need to bring your new hot water heater up to code.  We have new code requirements that didn’t exist when they built our house in 2000.  Some of the non-covered items that I need to pay for to bring it up to code:  3″ leg drips ($65), Earthquake straps ($75), expansion tank ($195) and permit ($100).  The insurance company doesn’t cover any of these costs so my out of pocket should be $435 based on the contract.

We also have a hot water recirculating pump that is mixing the hot water into the cold somewhere.  We are hoping it’s at the valve so that needs to be replaced as well.

AHS contract items

E. 5. WATER HEATERS COVERED: All components and parts, including tankless water heaters and circulating pumps, except: NOT COVERED: Auxiliary holding or storage tanks – Noise – Fuel storage tank and energy conservation unit.

A. 4.  For covered malfunctions, unless otherwise specified in this contract, AHS will repair or replace the covered item. AHS has the sole right to determine, according to the terms of this contract, whether a covered item will be repaired or replaced. When making repairs, AHS reserves the right to rebuild existing parts or components and/or to install rebuilt parts or components. When making replacements, AHS is responsible for installing replacement equipment and parts of similar features, capacity, and efficiency, but not for matching dimensions, brand or color. AHS is not responsible for matching any feature of an existing item that does not contribute to the primary function of that item.

I called AHS and got transferred to the authorizations department.  Randy told me that since a 65 gallon tank is no longer available, AHS will only offer a 50 gallon replacement despite that fact that 50 gallons is utterly insufficient for our needs.  My other option is to pay to upgrade to the 75 gallon or take their cash out offer of $1130.  I already left a message for Ernie @ Moreno plumbing requesting an estimate for the 75 gallon upgrade so I guess we will see what they come back with.

Unfortunately a week went by with no return call from Moreno.  I called Moreno again on 4/24/18 and spoke with Laura.  She said she gave the message to Ernie and also discussed it with her office manager who was going to call me.  She said she would give them the messages again.  This is pretty standard in Albuquerque.  It’s amazing how much you have to pester people to work.

On 4/26 Moreno called and said they have never had to give an estimate on an upgrade before (that is typically the responsibility of the insurance company) but she will call AHS and figure out what they want her to do.

May 7, 2018 No call back.  No one from Moreno plumbing called back.  It’s really incredible to me how bad service companies are in this city.  I called at 10:30 am and the phone went straight to voice mail which said if we don’t call back within 24 hours to call them back.  Seriously.  I hopelessly left a message for her to return my call.  Will see what happens.

May 8, 2018.  Surprise!  No call back from Moreno Plumbing.  Called again at 9:41am.  Got voice mail.  Again.  Left a message that I will call AHS and ask for another plumber since Moreno is unable to schedule an appointment.  Crystal called me back immediately.  There were apparently no notes on my account so I had to explain the situation again.  She said she is short handed but will contact the owner and see what’s going on.

Fun Fact.  Per Consumer Reports, heating water constitutes about 20% of your gas bill!  I hope that when we replace this we will see our bill go down a bit.

Albuquerque’s Immigrant Friendly Status Reinforced

Council Bill CS R-18-7 passed Monday night, strengthening Albuquerque’s Sanctuary City status. The Ordinance vote was 6-3 (democrats to republicans, respectively).

Sponsored by Klarissa Pena and Pat Davis.  4 other Councilors voted in favor of the resolution:  Isaac Benton, Cynthia Borrego, Diane Gibson and Ken Sanchez. Republican Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones and Don Harris (district 9) voted in opposition to the measure.

The resolution states that Albuquerque is a “safe place for immigrants from all countries, as well as for war refugees, people of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.”

If you’re curious, City Councilors are elected in staggered 4-year terms. Terms end in November, with the swearing-in ceremony generally scheduled in early December.  The terms for Council Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 began December 2017. The terms for Council Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 began December 2015.

In other news, 5 days ago Mayor Keller decriminalized marijuana.  Didn’t hear a peep about that.  The fine for possession of up to 1 oz of marijuana is now $25. Our last  mayor vetoed the measure in 2015.

My First Meal Kit Delivery – Hello Fresh

I didn’t think to write about our meal kit experience until after we received and finished cooking.  But we were so impressed with the whole process I thought I’d spend a few minutes putting my thoughts down on LED.  So here’s our story…

The decision to try a meal kit delivery came easy.  I love to cook and consider myself somewhat knowledgeable in the kitchen.  But I wanted to try some new recipes and new techniques.  Plus it looks super easy and everyone seems to be doing it. And since Hello Fresh has the most attractive signup bonus right now (they are offering $40 off your first delivery) …  Shut up and take my money.

I was able to create an account with my Facebook login (love that).   I chose the Classic Plan which consists of three meals a week that feeds two people for $59.94 ($9.99 per person per meal) and within seconds I was off dinner shopping.

They offered up 13 choices.  Impressive.  But a couple of them were marked as ‘Premium’ and carried additional charges of $5 per person.  Up-selling. Pass.  However all the meals looked clean, simple, and reasonably healthy.  We decided on The Pat Lafrieda Hamburger with Balsamic Onions and Crispy Cauliflower Oven Fries, Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Pesto Pasta Salad, and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potatoes and Zucchini.

Our meal kits arrived in an insulated box.  The meats were nestled between two ice packs, and the other ingredients were packed by recipe in individual brown paper bags.  As advertised, we received pretty much all that was needed for each meal (think hotel room service sized bottles of mayonnaise and salt / pepper packets).  I have always had a problem making and buying too much food.  This may help my eyes, stomach and pocketbook align better.

We decided to try the burger meal kit first.  Start to finish it took about 45 minutes.  They claim this is a 30 minute meal so either I’m not hustling or they may be fudging on the estimate a bit.  Either way, it was not cumbersome or chaotic.  The instructions came on a 8.5″x 11″ glossy heavy paper with step by step instructions that anyone could follow.  It even outlined which kitchen tools you would need (pans, bowls, sheets, etc).  I was  impressed.  The calories for this meal totaled a whopping 840 though (78% of what I typically eat in an entire day) so I know to keep an eye on that moving forward.

BurgerI dove in … made the burger, made the cauliflower fries, sauteed the red onions, made aioli (their version is to mix garlic with mayo but it was good enough), plated everything, and it looked great.  And even better, it tasted great!  I’d never topped a burger with balsamic red onions and the cauliflower tossed with panko and olive oil tasted like scallops, I kid you not. As simple as it sounds, this was a fantastic meal.

ChickenTroy made the Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Pesto Pasta Salad a couple of days later.  It seemed to take him about the same amount of time and again, fairly simple concept, great execution of flavor.  This meal also had more calories than I would typically consider (830) so I ate a smaller portion and Troy had it lunch the next day.  Win-Win.  This was a very summery meal.  And it was so nice to have pesto without all the work typically involved.

PorkOur third and final Hello Fresh meal was Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potatoes and Zucchini.  This one also took about 45 minutes and made a bit of a mess using a cast iron skillet, two baking sheets, plus misc knives and utensils and separate cutting boards, but it was worth it.  Perfect portion sizes (although I did add a small yellow squash to the mix that I happened to have on hand) and the calories were more reasonable at 570.  I’ve never put cilantro on roasted squash, and I learned that I seriously need to learn how to make demi-glace sauce.  It was yummo.  Troy said it was his favorite.  I’m sticking with the burger as my fave.  But I thought all three were terrific.

And as I scanned the recipe cards for this post I noticed that they include wine pairings for each meal too.  I wish I would have seen that!  The hubs and I loves us some wine.  But probably good that I didn’t add any more calories to dinner anyway.

So all said and done I was really happy with Hello Fresh.  Especially since I got all three meals for about $20 after the refer a friend promo (if you sign up with my link you’ll also get $40 off, and I’ll get $20 off a future order, FYI).

I will most likely buy from them again, but first I want to try Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Chef to see how they compare.  Hopefully Casey will jump in and help.  I think it would be a great way to learn to cook.  Will keep you posted!

Bon Appetite!

Confirmed my account is cancelled on 9/20/17 but will likely go back.


Meal Kit Delivery – Plated

Plated:  $30 off first delivery thanks to a Google ad.  No way to sign up through Facebook and their form auto fill didn’t accept all fields.  UI was not as friendly or inviting.  Delivery day options:  Wednesday or Friday only.  I chose Wednesday.  Option for 3 servings (not just 2 or 4) and 2 to 7 meals a week.  I’m not sure if raw food should keep in the fridge for 7 days but these are great options.  I chose 3 servings, 4 meals, $119.40 ($9.95 each).

Taste profile… I likey.  Lots of ethnic dishes that I had never heard of.  Made me excited to try it out.  15 recipes to choose from.  It charged me immediately upon ordering.  It didn’t matter that I was not going to receive my first shipment for possibly weeks.  It automatically chose Coconut Quinoa Bowl, Curried Lamb Tacos, Korean Turkey Burgers and Taco Salad but there were 16 recipes in all!  I was able to swap so my final four came down to


It also gave me desert options for Nutella Mouse Pie or Blackberry Jam Crumb Cake. Meh.

I swapped around and ended up choosing Korean Turkey Burgers, Crunchy Chicken Milanese, Blacked Salmon Sandwiches and Curried Lamb Tacos.  As I browsed the other weeks I see a lot of these meals repeated so you have plenty of opportunity to try them all.  You are able to modify your box up to 7 days in advance.  I guess these places have a lot of prep work because that seems to be pretty standard.

Alas, Plated doesn’t seem to do wine pairings.

Refer a friend program is similar to Blue Apron’s.  You earn invites with paid boxes.  Their Send A Free Box says “You’re just a few Plated dinners away from unlocking free boxes to send to friends! Check back here soon.”

Home Chef:  Hayley sent me a coupon for $30 off.  Free delivery with $45 order.  That will be my next home food delivery.  Other options:

  • PeachDish
  • Terra’s Kitchen
  • Chef’D
  • Purple Carrot
  • Green Chef
  • Takeout Kit
  • Green Chef?  Marissa has code …
  • Sun Chef

I find that I like an early week delivery since work nights are where I struggle the most.   It’s a shame Tuesday isn’t an option for most of them.  I’d also like a way to easily share these menu options with my husband and daughter so they can choose what they want as well.  Maybe a family login option.

Monday morning before my scheduled delivery I got an email about this weeks box.  Love that idea.  I was able to forward it to my family so we could make plans.  I searched my inbox to see if Blue Apron or Hello Fresh did the same thing.  Blue Apron did.  They sent an email a week prior with ‘next week’s’ menu with the subject line ‘Last chance to choose next week’s meals’ as well as a ‘Your delivery is on its way’ email.  Hello Fresh sent an email saying the box was on the way but it didn’t include the recipes.

9/20/17 Cancelled subscription

Rattlesnake at the front door

20228566_10154597025595614_2508479976721094213_nSo we discovered this guy curled up behind the planter at our front door.

Our front door.

The city came and got him but now I’m very upset at the serpent trespass and want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  I did a little google searching and there doesn’t seem to be a foolproof way to get rid of snakes in the yard.  I mean there are snake repellent products that you sprinkle on the ground that smell funny and supposedly keep the snakes away but the reviews are mixed at best.  I’m not going to install a snake fence.  I will be cutting down the big grassy plants that they like to hide under, but I can’t take out all of our landscaping.  Our house backs the foothills of the Sandia mountains so snakes are always going to be there.  I just want to keep them there and out of my back yard.

I’m considering a snake trap but I’m afraid I’ll just catch the lizards (which the snakes are probably coming here to eat anyway).

Do you think bird spikes placed behind planters and bushes might deter them from curling up in nooks and crannies?  Have you successfully stopped snakes, specifically rattlesnakes, from sharing your living space?  If so, please share!  I’m desperate to keep my 10 pounds of fluff safe from a snake attack.

Using Points in Las Vegas

I haven’t seen any updated charts so I’m making my own.  These are current as of June 6, 2017

  • Excalibur 12,000 points $30 resort fee per night (Royal Tower Queen)
  • Luxor 12,000 points $30 resort fee (Pyramid Deluxe Queen)
  • Monte Carlo 15,000 points $30 resort fee (Deluxe King Room) Cancel 72 hours Prior To Arrival
  • New York New York 15,000 points $35 resort fee (Park King)
  • MGM Grand 15,000 points $35 resort fee (West Wing King)
  • Mandalay Bay 20,000 points $35 resort fee
  • Signature at MGM Grand 20,000 points $35 resort fee
  • Vdara 20,000 points $35 resort fee
  • Mirage 20,000 points $35 resort fee
  • Aria 25,000 points $39 resort fee
  • Bellagio 25,000 points $39 resort fee
  • Delano 25,000 points $35 resort fee

These are all MLife properties so be sure to give your membership number when you log in!

Do I want an Apple Watch?

apple-watchSo the series 2 Apple Watch came out, and much like the iPhone 7, it’s expensive.  Still.  I think I want it.

We popped into the Albuquerque Uptown Apple Store last night and checked them out.  My favorite was the 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop but I think I would rather the 38mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with the white sport band … or shoot.  Maybe the black band.  I don’t know.  Maybe both!.  The magnetic strap seems like it could fall off pretty easily and I want to be able to wear this to the gym.  One of the selling points of this watch is that the straps are so easily interchangeable.  I fully plan to buy the Hermes Leather Tour knockoff band (MSRP $489) for a measly $63 on Etsy and maybe one day the Milanese strap too (there’s a knock off for it on Amazon).

PRO TIP:  If you shop through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall you’ll get 2 points per dollar bonus!

I’m looking forward to comparing it to my Fitbit, that I just started using again and is currently in the process of being replaced under warranty.  (The usb plug plastic broke into pieces so it’s no longer chargeable.)  Fitbit has come a long way with their app and I really dig it, but I will be able to play Pokemon on the Apple Watch so … I think I have to go with that.

Other than that I’m not sure what all the Apple Watch does.  I know I won’t be able to see the 38mm without my glasses, but the 42mm was just too big for my arm.  I’m just doomed to wear readers.  At least until they perfect the KAMRA inlay surgery (and have a few more years of history to prove it’s effectiveness).

Merry Christmas to me!


Get In The Starwood Game

swingbatterbatterSo I’ve played the Get In The Game contest a couple of times now… basically it’s a baseball simulation game and it takes about 2 minutes to play.  You can earn Starpoints, Amazon Gift Cards, and more.  Since I am not a fan of the MLB I find this to be one of my least favorite games to date.  Still I participate in almost all of the free points programs I can, even if it’s only a chance at a win.

Starwood is my favorite hotel chain so I spend the most effort trying to accumulate points with them.  Hotels range from 2k to 25k points per night, with most of my favorites being 7k to 12k.  With their fifth night free bonus, we have stayed at a lot of beautiful properties around the world for free!  We earn points mostly through our credit card spend (1 point per dollar spent).  They have a promotion now where if you apply for their American Express card and spend $3,000 within 90 days you’ll get a whopping 35,000 bonus points!  That’s the highest bonus I’ve ever heard of (normally the bonus is 25,000).  What will that get you?  You could stay three nights at the Sheraton Kauai or five nights at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for free!  Sheraton has hundreds of properties around the world to choose from (and I’m more than happy to help you get as much bang for your buck as you can if you need help).

They also have a refer a friend program, so you can earn an additional 5,000 points for each friend you refer that gets their credit card!  So if you don’t have a Starwood card yet do me a favor and apply through my referral link.  Drop me a line and I’ll have one sent to you right away.

Safe Travels!