May 27, 2010

Frugal Food Eater...Restaurant.com and mall food. Aloha Oregon

    You and I know that mall food is vastly underrated.  Because it is so close and easy to use, we seem to think that the food value ($$$) + food quality (****) can not be good.  How wrong we can be!
     We were out shopping yesterday and decided to use a Restaurant.com certificate that was about to expire to get some Mexican food.  The certificate was for the Mazatlan Mexican at 20413 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy in Aloha, OR (urban spoon info).  The exterior was nothing to shout about but when you stepped inside, you could see the effort that had gone into making this eatery look and feel authentic.
     The Mazatlan Mexican restaurants are a franchise but the service and food does not give you a franchise feel.  It is many time better than our "big box" restaurant in a mall close to us.
     We ate the fajitas yesterday...they were the best we have eaten in a long time.  I think we just loved fact that the flavor was a little different than the standard American Mexican fare.
     Our restaurant.com certificate required we buy $20 worth of food so we could use the $10 off.  The food portion of our bill came in at a little over $20 so we saved the $10 on the bill.  We left a 15% tip of $3 so we walked away with $7.00 in our pocket.
     FRUGAL???  Maybe so...but I will NOT eat bad food to save money!  We have health issues that have to be dealt with so we are careful.
    Give this neighborhood mall restaurant a try.  I think you will like it.

b
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May 24, 2010

10 Things About Buying a New Car...we saved some money!

     We just bought a new car today.  Phew!  Trust me there is a reason why we only do this every nine years!  But there were a few things that were different this time around.  We actually enjoyed the experience.
  1. Interest rates for those of us with good credit are REALLY LOW!
  2. The gadgets on cars are absolutely amazing.  Because the interest is low we can afford better stuff.  Blue Tooth, Alarm Systems, Tire Pressure Warnings, Sound System that searches for the kind of music you want, 4 wheel drive, etc.
  3. More power!  We purchases a Subaru Outback Limited. We found the size and configuration to be perfect and the 2.5i  4 cylinder had a lot more power that the old Forester.
  4. Our American Express Credit Card paved the way for Fleet pricing on the car saving us several thousand dollars.
  5. We discovered that we we could do most of our research and decision making before we even left home.  By going to American Express Auto Purchase Program, we could compare prices, amenities and view the interior of all those cars we felt might be in the running.  That site is available to you even if you don't have a card.  This is good information to have even if you don't have the card.  More information makes you a better bargainer. 
  6. The warranty we got this time was 6 years.  We both like that a lot.
  7. We are a lot smarter...we did not get the service package when we found out it would only save us $70 over the length of it's use.  Ask how much it will save you.  The service package was only good at the dealership we bought it at.
  8. Sales practices by car salesmen may have changed in the last nine years...for the better.  At any rate it worked that way for us.
  9. We discovered that you can get a good price even if you don't trade your car in and it is a whole lot easier.  We liked that a lot.
  10. Dealers will take your credit card for $2000 on the down payment.  Airline miles are a good thing.
    I don't know about you but I hate to feel like I have been taken.  This is the first time in many years I have walked away from the purchase of a motorized vehicle that I have had a good taste in my mouth.  That, my friends, is a very good thing.
     Incidentally, Brian at Royal Moore Subaru in Hillsboro, Oregon is a very good person to deal with.

b
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May 21, 2010

Fatal Mistakes...choosing the wrong physician and Valley Fever!

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) de...This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a highly magnified view of a tissue that had been infected with Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
VALLEY FEVER
My husband and I returned recently from ourwinter in the sun. We lived in Arizona for 7 months this year. The weather was cool, we had lots of rain and the wind seemed to blow more than usual. I don't have the statistics so this is just what I observed.
The coccidioides species of fungi that cause valley fever are commonly found in the soil in certain areas. These fungi can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil, such as farming, construction and wind. The fungi can then be breathed into the lungs and cause valley fever, also known as acute coccidioidomycosis (kok-sid-e-oi-doh-mi-KOH-sis).
It turns out that these are the perfect conditions for a fungus that cause the disease Valley Fever (coccidioides [kok-sid-ee-OI-deze]). Rain helps the fungus grow and wind spreads it around. The Mayo Clinic, a facility in Phoenix describes the disease a follows:Symtoms include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain — varying from a mild feeling of constriction to intense pressure resembling a heart attack
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint aches
  • Red, spotty rash
They are estimating that maybe half of the people that live in the areas where the fungus grows are infected...it stands to reason because it is very difficult to avoid breathing in and out!  The people of the southwest should be very grateful that the medical community is aware and prepared to care for those that suffer the worst of symptoms.  Those of us that travel home with the condition are not quite so fortunate.

THE WRONG DOCTOR
That is where choosing the right doctor before you travel is very important.  When you come home with a strange disease you have contracted while traveling you need a go to a physician. Immediate care will not be able to deal with this.  We are experiencing this very thing right now. While my husband's Internal Medicine doctor is a very nice man, he is not prepared to deal with diseases you may contract during travel.  We had to instruct him on what he needed to do to test for the disease. We only suspect that my husband is infected. If our doctor had been a little sharper my husband would have been tested three weeks ago.

At the time we sought the doctor's assistance, my husband was ill with pneumonia and had been running a very high fever all the time we were traveling home.  He has had every one of the symptoms listed above accept the joint pain.  In retrospect, we should never have left Arizona in the first place...but my husband is very quiet about his illnesses and I just did not realize how ill he was until his temperature went up two days into our travels. Sigh.

FINDING THE RIGHT DOCTOR
This is what we did. We began to search for a new doctor...and a new hospital. We live in a big city so we can do that. As we began to narrow down our search we found two doctors that fit our needs.  Then we checked references online.  By going to a website called U Compare Health Care, we were able to find just the information we were seeking. I then went to the clinic personally to visit with the receptionist and just look things over.  It was every bit as good as the references indicated. I made an appointment for an initial examination but could not get him in until early in June. If we had been in the right clinic to begin with, the delay would not have happened.

As an added note, we are scheduled to see a pulmonary specialist in a week.  His doctor recommended we go to this type of specialist and referred us to someone he knows personally.  I have lost trust in doctors that get referral fees from their doctor friends so I did some research. I found a specialist that works with a group that deals only in this type of problem.  I just want to make sure we get this right...finally.

I hope you have learned something here...I certainly have. Waiting until the big problem arises before you seek out a good doctor may be dangerous and could even be fatal! Keep your fingers crossed for us...I hope it all works out. I just thought you needed to know.

b

May 18, 2010

Lental Garden...great Indian food in Beaverton, Oregon

     My husband and I have used restaurant.com for quite a while now.  You can go online and create an account that allows you do buy "gift certificated" for $10-50 at a very low price.  These will be on sale occationally for $2.00!  The restaurants you choose will have some specification for use of the certificates...maybe only after 5:00 or only for dinner.  They will also require that you spend at least twice what the certificate is worth and you can not apply drinks to the amount required.  Not all the places are wonderful but if you want you can get a deal on a newly opened location for an established business.
     On Monday night we used a certificate we bought a little less than a year ago for a Indian restaurant called Lentil Garden (reviews here).  Indian cuisine is very popular in this part of the Portland, Or. metro area.  Not only do we have a lot of Indian families living close by but we also have a young, hip population that loves ethnic food.  We have tried several of the Indian restaurants in the area and this one was by far the very best.  The spices were....spicy...not salt over loaded. You could order the degree of spiciness you desired.   I had an okra dish seasoned with garam masala that was tasty beyond reason.  Our food was served family style with sides of either Jasmine rice or nan bread.  The decor was not lavish but the room was very clean and well organized.   The family that runs the restaurant was eating in the back.  It just had that authentic feel that I like.  I would give the place at least 4 stars for the quality of the dishes.  And I thought the service was perfect.  Good, good, good!
     Oh, did I mention we had a certificate for $10's, ordered a around $24.00 worth of food and would have added at least 15%.   We paid $17.00 including the tip.  We were very pleased.  If we had ordered just the $20 required, our bill would have been around $14.  They did add the 15% tip to the bill.
     Lentil Garden is located at 18033 NW Evergreen Parkway.
     I just thought you would want to know!

b

I hear there is a restaurant downtown called Ghandi's (reviews here)  at 827 SW 2nd Ave that is even better.  We will need to try that one day soon for lunch.  I noticed that Yelp had 21 reviews.  We also so have a restaurant called Swagat (reviews here) located at 1340 NE Orenco Station Parkway here in Hillsboro, Or. We have eaten at this restaurant and it has it all...decor, service and very authentic Indian cuisine.
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May 12, 2010

2x Clothes Detergent Use....Avoid Costly Mistakes!

Sandy River dam...source of Bull Run water.
    Don't you just hate it when you call the repair man for a cost of $110.94 to find out you have been using your 2x Kirkland liquid washing machine detergent wrong?  Apparently, following the directions on the container is not a good idea!  Let me tell you the story.
     My husband and I have lived in our condo for 9+ years so the appliances are not new.  When the washing machine decided to overflow, leaving a puddle of water in front of the machine, we thought we were due for a new appliance.  While having new stuff is very cool, I do like things that work and are paid for.  So I called the repair man.  In the mean time, I had quit washing on the super sized setting because every time I did, water was on the floor.  It was a little scary.
    The repair man came the next Monday and my husband followed him upstairs.  They couldn't have been up there more than 5 minutes when I heard my husband calling my name.  He and the repair man greeted me at the top of the stairs.  They wanted to know how much detergent I was using.  I knew right then I was in deep trouble...I wasn't sure why but it just follows that when something is wrong, I am to blame...like night follows day.
     It turns out that in Portland Oregon metro area we use Bull Run Reservoir water...pure snow water from the slopes of the Cascade Range.  People around here claim it is the best water in the nation.  The bottle direction do not apply.  The repair man gave me a demonstration with machine insides exposed.  When I used too much detergent, the foam overflowed onto the floor during the spin cycle.  The repair man suggested I use 1/4 the detergent called for on the bottle and feel the water to see if it is slick.  If it is, that is plenty.
     WHO KNEW!  I wrote him a check as he continued to talk about how to wash clothes correctly!  I don't want to do that ever again.  $110.94 is too much to pay for a lesson in washing.  Interestingly enough, he said that this kind of service call was not unusual in the Portland area.
     As a side note, we had to replace a dishwasher because the dish detergent ate the pump up....to much soap.  That repairman suggest we use less than half what the soap manufacturer recommended.  How could I have not seen the connection!
     Now you are in the loop...don't call the washing machine repairman until you check your soap usage and use less soap in your dishwasher.  You dishes and your bank account will thank you!

b
note: Incidentally the repairman also cautioned against using Kirkland powdered detergent...it will erode and ruin you washing machine!
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May 10, 2010

TV EARS...HOLY COW MARIE, THEY WORK!!!

Image via Wikipedia
Hearing impairment
note:  Here is a small disclaimer.  I do not get paid by any of these people.  I just tell you what I like!
Our New TV Ears  (We are the proud owner of TV Ears.  That is what this story is about.
     Can you hear me now?  If you live with someone that is deaf you have probably used the Verizon catch phrase. I used to think it was funny but as I grow older the fun has worn off.  Every volume knob is set to 10 (full blast) and old men carry on conversations with each other that would make a great comedy sketch.  And the gifts.....what can I say? 
     I can hear just fine (well sort of)  but my husband is just a mess. Our children love us and want us to have anything that will make our life better/easier.  Bless their little peeked heads, we do appreciate any attention we get.  (Can you see where this going?)
   When my husband's last birthday came around my daughter started talking about getting him a set of the TV Ears you see advertised.  I was less than enthusiastic I suppose.  I like the TV on full blast even though I do not have a hearing problem. :)  Low and behold, here came the TV Ears in the mail.  My husband was very skeptical so I explained that it was okay, I would use them too and we could both benefit from them.  I did manage to slip in the fact that he was MUCH worse off than me.  He didn't like it but I felt better.
     This weekend we plugged the TV Ears into the back of our cable box, charged the head set and began using them.  (note:  You will need an adapter if you do not have a cable box.)  HOLY COW MARIE!!!  Those things are wonderful.  You can have the TV on mute and the head set still works.  He can watch TV in bed and I can sleep. You can adjust the volume on the set and turn the sound down when the commercials are on.
    Why didn't we do this a long time ago???  Well actually we did.  We bought and returned other types of devices.  The difference here is the TV Ears are not cumbersome, they do not hurt your ears or give you a headache, the headset is wireless and they were affordable. I see that you can buy them on Amazon for $50.85 and get free shipping! Or you can go to the website for the device and they cost about the same after using a coupon.   WHAT A DEAL!!!!
    I give this device a complete thumbs up...try them out and see what you think.

b
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May 9, 2010

Downsizing to 351 square feet! What more could you want?

     Real Simple magazine featured an article this month called Happily Ever After in 351 Square Feet. I found it interesting that the magazine found this so extraordinary. The young couple  lost their 1400 square foot house to a fire and decided to use insurance money to build a work space on their property instead of a new house.  They took two small cottages that had been given to them and joined them together creating a small home.  They chose to remain childless so the neatnik couple were managing perfectly.  The design for their house was not what I would choose.  They created a kitchen that was oversized and lived in a separate room that included a combined living room and  bedroom.  I think that if they had taken a look at our Park Model design they would have found some very good ideas for optimizing their space.  After all, these little houses are designed to use every inch of space either for storage or for living.  The kitchen you see above has a full sized stove and sink.  The young couple admitted that they did miss these amenities...I don't.  We have an apartment sized stove and dishwasher.  I like that a lot.
Typical Park Model Design by Cavco
Our fire place fits in corner cabinet.
     Downsizing may be something you dread but it really is a wonderful choice.  We have learned that living with small things...appliances, closet, bathrooms, and kitchens does not mean we have sacrificed comfort or even luxury.  We have a tiny fireplace that heats the living room/kitchen and a dishwasher that washes all the dishes even when we entertain for 6 or more.  After living in 350 square feet in Arizona for 7 months of the year our condo here in Hillsboro, Oregon feels enormous and we can not imagine ever having enough dishes to fill that dishwasher.
     Unfortunately, we are like gold fish...we grow to fit the size of the space we have.  Before long I am filling the dishwasher every day and sometimes twice a day.  My closet become cluttered with things I don't want or need and, because I have a separate room to iron in, I let the ironing go until I am absolute out of anything to wear...even pajamas! I have come to see it as wasteful and unnecessary.  We will downsize here in Oregon too when the time is right to sell our condo.  I love living in a space that has everything on one floor and I can smell the coffee brewing in the morning.  I like it when I can sit in the next room and still talk with my husband.  All I really require is enough room to cook, some kitchen gadgets and a few pots to plants herbs and flower in.  I am a very simply woman.
     We have always tried to live small even when we owned bigger houses.  It will not be hard for us to live small wherever we are.
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May 8, 2010

PREVENT FATAL FIRES...I discovered candlelight without danger!

This article in the Oregonian got my attention yesterday.  The headline read, "Deadly fire...." and told about an accident at a assisted living facility in Tigard, OR during the month of December.  It began...
Death is no stranger to assisted living facilities.
Susan K. Friedrich died Dec. 21 after suffering second- and third-degree burns to nearly half her body. Caregivers at the Park Place assisted living facility in Tigard allowed a lit candle on Friedrich's coffee table next to her recliner, even though Friedrich's health issues rendered her immobile....The evening of Dec. 20 was peaceful at Park Place. Friedrich, as was her custom, bedded down in her recliner in front of the television. Someone, it's not clear who, lit a candle on the coffee table....It was a Christmas candle and Friedrich liked the Christmas tree smell. Oregon Live
     I could only think Old people like beautiful things too So when the lady living in a Sunset Management Company assisted living facility here in the Portland Metro area asked to have a scented candle lit beside her chair, I could almost understand why the aid granted her wish.  After a word of caution about extinguishing the candle, the aid left.  A few hours later the candle ignited the room and Susan K Friedrich had been fatally injured because a scented candle was left unattended.  What a terrible shame.
   
SCENTSY WARMER...MY NEXT PURCHASE!
THE SOLUTION
MY SCENTSY WARMER Full-Size Scentsy Warmers make a statement in any room. With so many styles, colors and finishes to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect accent to complement your decorating style. One could be the inspiration for your next room makeover!
Plug-in Warmer
      After looking at and trying several different types of scented candle solution that could be used safely,  I have come to love one product in particular.  It is a pottery light put out by a company called Sentsy.   These beautiful scented wax warmers are a lovely additions to any decor.  The containers are lit from within with a 25 watt light bulb and the cord has an easy switch to turn the light on/off.  A  dish designed to hold  the wax is placed over the opening on the top of the light.  The plug-in model has a small indentation in the top where the wax can be added and it runs on a regular night light bulb. There is a switch on the front of this plug-in light. You just put a small piece of the scented wax in the dish, turn on the light and the wax melts slowly as a lovely aroma fills the room. 
The website states that the Scentsy Bars (wax) are specially designed wickless candles, perfectly suited for all Scentsy Warmers. With convenient break-apart sections, you can divide one bar into different warmers or mix and match scents.    When you are ready to turn the light off, you just flip the switch and the wax solidifies again for reuse at a later time.  The wax lasts a very long time.  The scents range from floral to sea breeze...some are stronger and some are very light.  They can even be combined to create the scent that you prefer.  My personal favorite is this month's scent call Clarify.
     I own two of their products...one is a beautiful ceramic piece that sits on my mantle and the other is a plug-in that I move from room to room. They have even come out with warmers and scents for men.  Not only are they good at home or in assisted living facilities but I think they would be wonderful in veterinary clinics, offices, coffee rooms, real estate open houses or even that smelly bathroom at work.  And what about gas stations? Don't you think they should put them in their bathrooms.  YUCK!
     I do not sell these but boy am I good customer.  My consultant, Mary Grace (click to visit her website), went into business this winter...right after her 70th birthday.  She has had wonderful success selling to the snow birds in her RV Resort.  These people want the joy of candles without the mess or danger.  She sells on her website and is at home in Great Falls, MT now where she will be holding open houses throughout the summer.  You can find more information on her website if you live in the area.
     Can you imagine...beautiful AND safe!  What a perfect combination.
     I just thought you would want to know.

b

You might also be interested in Trader Joe's dripless candles

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May 4, 2010

Urban Legends...The Eye of God

Is this the eye of God?
Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases."
    Nobody loves a good urban legend more than I do...they set me off on a search for the truth and that is a good thing. My latest urban legend quest started this morning when I received an email about "The Eye of God". This urban legend has been circulating since 2003 when the image of Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases" was originally published by NASA.
The email went like this (I did not edit the email):
This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA.  This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years.  This photo has done miracles in many lives.  Make a wish. you have looked at the eye of God. Surely you will see the changes in your life within a day!!!  Whether you believe it or not, don't keep this e-mail with you. Pass this at least to 7 persons.  This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope...Called 'The Eye of God.'   Too awesome to delete.   It is worth sharing.
   
    The truth is that only three years later the image of another nebula was published by NASA and reproduced on the Fox website.  Fox said, "The Hubble Space Telescope's legendary Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 has produced one of its last images, a gorgeous shot of a planetary nebula." The camera that took this images was replaced shortly after this image was taken.  Space ship Atlantis visited the Hubble Telescope to complete the task.  Now I think that is inspiring!


     This email contained a beautiful thought and I would never doubt that people will gain comfort from such an image.  I, on the other hand, found the information about the image and all the others taken by Hubble astounding.  I find the talents man has received, used and prospered from inspiring.  But then I am funny that way.

b
Links
Best Hubble Images of all Time
Fox and Giant Eye in Space
Urban Legends (Eye of God)
Hubble's Greatest Hits
How to Slow an Urban Legend

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May 3, 2010

Hoover Dam By Pass Bridge Pictures...2010




Clouds hang over the Colorado River canyon.

     This the third time we have crossed Hoover Dam in less than two years.  (See previous articles) Each time I have taken pictures from every angle that I could get in position to click...I never leave the car and we never stop.   Occasionally I reach across my husbands lap and click in the general direction of what I want to capture.  Really, it actually works sometimes.  This year the weather was cloudy and cool so a mist hung over the landscape.  This gave us a whole different kind of beauty.  
We cheered when we saw the profile of the bridge!
     The keystone had been put in place on this gigantic arch and concrete spans awaiting the placement of the decking are in place all the way across.  The decking is  installed on the east end of the bridge already.  Roadways approaching the bridge are being constructed but are far from complete.  I did notice that RV's are allowed on the road across the top of the dam right now but are being inspected thoroughly.  I don't know if this is always true.  Trucks are not allowed. 
RV inspection point.
View from the dam level up to the by pass bridge.
We cheered as we rounded the corner and could see the span connected.  We had been watching and waiting for this new engineering feat to become a part of the long Hoover Dam history.  What an amazing thing.                                                               
b
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May 2, 2010

Travel Quiz...Am I tired, drunk or am I in ?????

Welcome to Oregon signImage via Wikipedia
     We have traveled up the road from Arizona to Oregon and back again so many times I have lost count.  It is almost like getting and up in the morning every day of my life.  You would think that we would become bored with the routine...in both cases.  Yet we don't.
     Today I have a little quiz for you.  We have been in five state within the last 4 days...Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho.  We stayed overnight in the three difference towns...Wickenburg, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Ogden, UT.   Let me give you a little guessing game and see if you can guess which state we were in:
  1. We drove so long we could not get into the restaurant across the street from the motel. When we get that tired we get silly.  When the restaurant owner let us in after we tapped on the window and begged to be fed, he thought we were silly and if you were silly then you must be drunk.  What state were we in?
  2. We arrived in town after 4 o'clock in the afternoon and the little store we like to visit was closed.  What town were we in?
  3. We stopped at a gas station to buy fuel, a human pumped our gas AND the fuel was cheaper than anywhere on our trip.  What state were we in?
ANSWERS:
  1. The little community is called Wickenburg.  This sleepy little town is a perfect tourist stop with a museum, abandoned mine and golf course. 
  2. We were in Utah where alcohol has only been legal for a few years.  I suppose after we ordered craft beers he just made the leap from very tired to drunk.  He was a nice man and we thanked his sister as we left the establishment.  Our behavior probably was a little wonky but even sober people have lots of fun!
  3. We were in Oregon where voters continue to reject bills that allow self-serve gasoline.  We have figured out that if we were to give up this service, the price of gas would NOT go down.  
           Have a wonderful day.  Tomorrow the pictures of the Hoover Dam Bypass project.  It is very exciting!!!

      b


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