Proper Nesting Finally Commences

So on fridge arrival day, I was up at the crack of dawn excited to do laundry. You know you’re a grown up when…

The most pressing thing to wash were my whites, including my sheets. I love how those sheets feel on my bed, but as I expected, they have been a giant pain in the ass to keep looking nice. Now that I have a proper laundry room and all the time in the world to let my sheets sit under the sun without stressing that a dog will eat them, maintenance will  become a lot easier. I can apply Zote soap to stains, scrub on the washboard, and then throw everything in the wash.

The extra time in the sun makes such an incredible difference — a yellowing pillow case looked a bit better when it came out of the washer and was snowy white by the time I brought it back inside!

I left the fridge unplugged until about 9PM, so about five hours. The opposite of riveting 44-page manual said that it could be plugged in immediately and I knew it had not been transported horizontally, so that was really an over abundance of caution on my part. Before plugging it in, I gave it a wash inside and out with a solution of water with vinegar and a few drops of dish soap, but only used water and vinegar for the inside of the water dispenser tray and the dispenser mechanism itself. The inside had a “new fridge smell” that was incongruent with the outside appearance and the wash really help get rid of that plasticky scent. I set both the freezer and fridge controls to “óptim,” filled the ice cube and water dispenser trays and went to bed hoping the ruckus the fridge was making was only the compressor firing up.

Yesterday morning, the fridge was dead silent. I did a quick search on “digital inverter compressors” and learned about this new (and rather awesome) fridge compressor technology that means that fridges are quieter and more energy efficient. An RV fridge is entirely silent and I have a hard time getting used to the hum of a fridge in the background, so this is yet another lovely bonus feature!

By late morning, I trusted the fridge enough to transfer the contents of the old one over and was champing at the bit to get groceries, but had no time. It was going to be a stupidly long day, something I am so over and which I hope will not repeat itself again. I fired a client this week, something that has been a long time coming that will allow me to provide better service to my other much better paying clients and free up a couple of hours a day. So maybe I will succeed in my goal of a more “normal” schedule starting in January.

The last two weeks, water delivery was at 4:30, so of course the doorbell rang at 3:30 yesterday just as a client Skyped in for training! But, hey, I’m not complaining. Better early than not at all! I’m so glad I have the water delivery worked out. I go through about a gallon a day (as I go through 2 x 5 gallons in 10 days), depending on how much I’m cooking things that need water, like rice or pasta. So a jug a week means I never risk running out.

Today was rather like Christmas continuing to come early as I got two Amazon packages delivered rather than just the one I expected. I don’t know if this applies to shipping to Canada, but Amazon.com now has extraordinarily good shipping rates to Mexico and super fast transit times! I still much prefer to shop locally for instant gratification, but if I simply can’t find something, I’m so glad to have both Amazon.com and Amazon.mx as backups. I start with .mx and if they don’t have something, then I look at .com. With everything I’ve shopped for so far, if it was a good price and had free shipping on .mx, it was prohibitively expensive to buy on .com and if it was expensive or unavailable on .mx, then I was going to get a good deal on .com.

As a point of comparison, I really wanted a fancy notebook that would have cost me 50USD to ship to Mexico this summer. That was never going to happen. With the new global shipping program, I’m getting the notebook for 23USD. Wow!

The most pressing thing in my orders was a seven-port USB hub. I have bought I don’t know how many hubs over the years, including several purchased here everywhere from Office Depot to Waldo’s, that have simply not worked. It was getting to be ridiculous so I found the best rated seven-port hub on Amazon and ordered it. This was one of those items that was more affordable on the .mx site and pretty much the same price as if I had bought it in the States on the .com site. So far, it’s working. Yay!

The nice-to-have thing in the same .mx order was a TP-Link WiFi extender to get internet upstairs. It was actually less expensive here in Mexico than it would have been in the US!

This product sounded way too good to be true — almost plug and play, double the original coverage, and only about 25CAD? It took me about five minutes to unbox it, muddle through the technical jargon, determine that the easy method wasn’t going to work, set it up through the nearly as easy secondary method, and go from not being able to download email upstairs to being able to stream Netflix! What a great product!

After working steadily through the afternoon, I finally headed out to get some groceries. I’m still waiting for some PayPal transfers so I couldn’t go and do the huge run I wanted, but I still had a comfortable budget to get some basics that will cover the next several days as well as some little treats for the house. For what I wanted to buy, I chose to go to Bodega Aurrera, but had to nix my plans of walking when it started to torrentially downpour as I was heading out. I’m still pretty sure that I could have walked there faster than drive!

There, I was annoyed to find a pink garage can for my office on a clearance rack — I bought the same model in purple this summer for $20 more. 🙂

I found these adorable and perfectly sized baskets with a woven pattern for my fridge:

There were so inexpensive and the perfect size for my pantry shelves that I am going to go buy several more. I may even shake things up and get a few in the lime green! 🙂

(No, I have not started drinking Coco-Cola. The pizza places keep ignoring my requests for them to not bring it even though it’s included! I gave one to my mecanico neighbour and keep forgetting to pass him these.)

By the way, my fridge was on sale at Bodega… for $7,999 ($1,000 less than new full price at Coppel). They also had the just over $5,000 nine-cubic-foot Daewoo I’d seen on Coppel’s site and my Mabe washer for $1,000 more. I was going to stop at Bodega on my way to Coppel and if I had, I might have made a disastrous mistake!

Last thing to show off is that I’ve been super annoyed with the grey hand towels for my bathroom, but replacing them wasn’t a priority until I found these for just $20 each!

There is getting to be way too much turquoise and matchy-matchyness in the house, a trap I fell into with Miranda, so I made sure to get a cheap plastic pitcher for dishwashing rinse water in a colour that I don’t have in the rest of the house. 🙂 That turquoise is everywhere right now and must be the colour of the season. Contessa would be heaven. 😉

It’s funny how a fridge that works as it should and a washing machine have so magically transformed my life and exponentially increased my enjoyment of my new home. It felt magical this morning to be able to pop my favourite dress (and a few other pieces) in the wash and to have them all clean and dry by the time I was ready to head out. Soon, the fridge will be full of everything I need to make a myriad of healthy dishes with ingredients sourced from all the specialty shops in my neighbourhood and nearby. Slowly, but surely, I am inching my way to the life I envisioned I would build for myself in this house!

Coppel Delivers!

I did some research about stainless steel rusting and bubbling last night to see if there was anything I should do to make sure that cosmetic issues with my new fridge don’t become functional problems. I immediately got results from very, very, very unhappy Samsung fridge owners. As it turns out, the issues with my new fridge are a well known manufacturing defect that has been going on for a long time that Samsung apparently doesn’t care about as they consider it to be merely a cosmetic defect.

This might sound like bad news, but it was actually good news to me. Out of all the complaints I saw, there was only one person who complained about the fridge operation itself. There were no problems of actual fridge function issues even after several years with the rust and bubbling happening, not even with the water dispenser. So now I know that except for the dents, the fridge’s cosmetic issues are normal for that brand and not indicative of where and how it was stored.

If I had paid full price for this fridge and it started rusting on me, yes, I would have been pissed off. But I got it for better than 50% off with full disclosure! I really don’t care to a point that the fridge isn’t pretty as long as it works well.

By about 3PM today, I was starting to lose hope that the fridge would arrive, but, of course, it finally turned up. I was really pleased that the parking around my service entrance was clear as that meant a straight shot from the truck to my kitchen. One of my neighbours is always parking in front of that door and I can never guarantee it’ll be clear. I am refusing to be annoying about telling people not to park in front of my house (unless it’s in front of the garage door I use!) even though the landlady said she absolutely did not tolerate it and would frequently call for a tow! But if I know I’m going to need parking in front of a particular door at a given time, I advise both of my neighbours who park in front of the house (one being the mechanic) and they are really good at remembering to stay clear.

I have a question I should have asked the guys today, but I didn’t have the right vocabulary for it — why don’t Mexican delivery people use a dolly? It might be an expense for a guy with a small shop, but can’t Coppel afford one for its drivers?!

At any rate, it is here! 🙂

Both sides are scratched up a bit, but it’s the doors that really that really took a beating.

Freezer door:

And the infamous damage around the water dispenser. Boy do I get why folks were pissed off that Samsung was all, “Meh, it’s just cosmetic. We won’t cover the repair.” You can see at the very left a bubble that if pulled on would likely take half the finish off the door.

The inside is sufficiently roomy!

Croft, here is my very nice portable ice cube making thingamabob. Once the cubes are frozen, you twist that knob in the front and, in theory, they should fall into the container below so you can make more ice cubes until the container is full.

THIS is what my last fridge was missing, a description of what each value is!

Now, here is the surprise of all surprises. I am shook. I had no idea this even existed. Can you understand what you’re looking at?

That’s a container to fill with water for the dispenser! So instead of having to fill a jug and open the door many times a day, I can just fill the dispense once or twice and then dispense water through the door! What a gift!

I was told to let it sit for 24 hours before plugging it in, but that’s not happening. I’ll plug it in before bed, fill it with some water bottles in the morning, see how everything is Friday morning, and then, hopefully, go for the grocery run of all grocery runs!

The Hollywood Life

Some of the most fun work I do is transcribe raw audio used in the movie editing process. I have worked directly with some directors and producers and also indirectly as a subcontractor. It was really exciting the other day to get confirmation that I got my credit for all the work I did on Freedom for the Wolf:

But even more exciting are the movies I get to work on as a subcontractor. These are major movies, often in franchises that I love. I get to transcribe hugely famous actors and see how they behave in candid situations. As if that wasn’t sufficiently rewarding, these jobs pay really, really well.

When I first started with this transcription firm, I had to prove myself. I didn’t often get assigned these jobs. It was only last summer in Bulgaria that I got a chance to do any significant work on one of these projects and since then, I’ve steadily gotten more. Now, I’m at the point where I can request as much of this work as I want and it’s given to me! I must have proven myself!

This past weekend, I worked mega overtime finishing up work on one of these movies and made enough money that I knew I could go hunting for both a fridge and a washer this week. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off getting both, but I knew it wasn’t an entirely impossible mission as I had a budget of $9,000 (about 600CAD) to work with — yes, my rent amount, coincidentally enough!

Money from my PayPal accounts finally landed last night and so, after completing my most urgent work of the day, I headed off in search of my appliances. I’d done tons of online research and had an idea of what brands and models I could expect to find and their rough list price.

A very nice lady who lives on the other side of my neighbourhood and who has been here for about 30 years told me that I should start my search at the Coppel department stores, not Walmart or grocery stores like Chedraui, and certainly not the favourite expat destinations of Liverpool and Costco. She explained how Coppel makes its money from offering credit so there can be deals to be had for those paying cash. She further narrowed things down by saying that the Coppel at Plaza Dorada generally has a good selection and that there are other stores all around it where I could look if they couldn’t help me.

So off I went to the Plaza Dorada Coppel today. I had a look at their fridges and was disappointed because there was nothing for less than $6,000. Not a problem for the fridge price, but there was no way I could swing an automatic washer as well. A twin tub model like I have at Haven, no problem, but I really want an automatic.

I flagged down a clerk and said I was looking for their cheapest, most basic fridge-freezer. I knew that both Mabe and Daewoo have a 9-cubic-foot one for around $5,000 that looked good on my computer screen and that Coppel carries, so I hoped that maybe they had a warehouse.

Nine cubic feet is quite a bit smaller than I planned on getting but is going to be just fine because I’ve… drumroll please… decided to keep the other fridge! It came to me the other night that I should, especially since I have room for it and I know how it behaves. The hot season is going to come before I know it and I am going to struggle with not enough cold space. I know I can trust the freezer on the used fridge, so there goes my need to buy a deep freezer. The fridge itself can hold all manner of things that won’t be harmed by freezing and that won’t last on the shelves next summer, from cheese to chocolate, nuts to flours.

So back to Coppel today and my fateful meeting with the man I will dub the Appliance Faery (AF for short). AF sized me up and said, “Would you mind one that’s dented?”

“Show me, please,” I asked eagerly. He took me to a different part of the store and pointed to the fridge in question.

It was uuuuugly. Oh my goodness. It wasn’t just dented. It had scratches and there was rust and bubbling around the water dispenser (further reason to ignore it). But I was assured it was new, came with the same (piddly) warranty as any other fridge, and that the defects were all cosmetic.  And at 11 cubic feet, it was the perfect compromise between my huge current one and a disappointingly small basic model.

So here is what a brand new one looks like. It is a Samsung:

The price? $4,249. Full price is almost $9,000. 🙂 Delivery tomorrow between noon and 5PM included!

Buoyed by my luck, I asked about washers. Best they could do was a Whirlpool for about $6,500. That was never going to happen! So I said I’d just take the fridge.

AF left me in the capable hands of a cashier and once the transaction was complete, I went back to look for my fridge to take pictures. AF apologised and said it was already on its way to the loading dock! Which reminds me of the other reason I was told to go to Coppel — their deliveries are efficient!

I thanked AF again and went next door to check out a store called Elektra that appeared to have some appliances. A clerk approached me and I asked if they had any inexpensive basic automatic washing machines.

She took me to a cute a 16KG Mabe that Coppel was selling for $7,000 so I said that it was too expensive. She looked confused and pointed to the price tag. They were on sale this week for $4,599!!! But I was cruelly disappointed when I was told that that price did not include delivery. I stood there for a moment trying to decide if I was going to go through the trouble of arranging a flete (mover) or if I should look for something else when the lady said cautiously, “If you don’t mind paying $100 more, we can arrange the delivery for you tomorrow.” Let me remind you that “$100” is about 6.76 CAD. Done and dusted for $4,699!

It’s quite small, but should be perfect for a household of one as I rarely do big loads when I have my own washer and the ability to wash as I go.

Extraordinarily pleased with having come in under budget, I celebrated by spending part of the $52 left over on some very nice ice cream. 🙂

I should have both appliances sometime tomorrow. Which means I can start catching up on laundry and go grocery shopping Thursday morning!

I am so happy to have been able to get both machines today as they were the missing pieces to fall into a proper homekeeping routine. I should be able to get a stove next month and then the house will really be like heaven. 🙂

The stove has involved some really hard research, but I’m pretty sure I finally found it, although I have to go check it out in person to confirm it has a broiler. The first test of quality for the stove will be that it have cast iron burner grates, which eliminates anything by Mabe. I thought the next brand up in terms of quality and price was Koblenz but I discovered that there is an in-between brand, Acros! I thought Acros and Mabe were equivalent, but Acros is definitely a bit higher end and they have several ranges with cast iron grates and ovens that seem decent. Their top-end model is several thousand pesos cheaper than the cheapest Koblenz. So once I verify in person what online research tells me, I should be able to get myself a stove around this time next month. Woot, woot. 🙂

The final thing will be a mattress, but, again, there’s absolutely no rush on that, which is lovely indeed.

I definitely shouldn’t drop any more significant amounts of money this month, but boy is good to be over the hump and on my way to a comfortable life here. I am feeling very, very grateful.

I got in and not even a minute after I’d come into the house, my doorbell rang. It was one of my Amazon packages. Talk about timing! I’m incredibly amused by how both US and Mexico Amazon decided to send out each piece of my orders separately so I’m expecting a present to myself most days this month. Rather like an Advent calendar, I suppose. 🙂

Which reminds me, if you’re going to do any shopping at Amazon.com this month, could you please do so through my affiliate link? It won’t cost you anything extra and will greatly help the family to which I donate the gift certificates. I’d love for them to have something to be grateful for as well in this quite challenging time of the year. Thank you!

Monday Lull

I had quite a bit of transcription to do this morning and so I was at up and at ’em rather early to get it all done by about 11AM. This would give me time to go run a few errands before a 3PM Skype call with a client for training on my new position.

I was chained to my desk all weekend, so I was desperate for a leg stretch. I decided that I would go to HSBC to make a withdrawal as I literally had only 50 centavos (3 cents CAD) on me and while there, I would pay my internet bill. I would then walk to a Pollo Feliz (Happy Chicken!) restaurant since I’ve been very curious about them since I first came to Mexico and yet never made it to one. I’m not thrilled with the couple of chicken stands near my house since I find they’re not very good value so I thought I’d see how a chain restaurant compares.

Here’s my route. Yes, I use the beer store around the corner as a landmark. What can I say, it’s convenient. 🙂

HSBC’s ATM was feeling generous today and gave me almost only 50s, saving me the step of having to convert bills. I then went to a teller to pay my bill for Izzi (internet). I knew I would have a fee doing it that way versus going to their store, but this was way more convenient.

First thing that happened is that the teller rifled through a bunch of notes and then scribbled things on the piece of paper I gave him with my “reference” (not account) number for Izzi. He would later hand it back to me to see that he’d added a transit code and other information to make it easier for the next teller to take my payment.

He then asked me if I’m a client of HSBC. I said yes and passed over my card. He swiped it, tapped some keys, and then asked for how much I wanted to pay. I told him $600 and passed the bills over. He processed that and then told me there was a cost for the deposit. I can’t remember if it was $10.70 or $17.10, but whatever it was was less expensive than the time and gas to go to Gran Plaza.

That was it! Izzi’s “how to pay” web page says that a payment at a bank should reflect on my account within 24 hours. So I made a note to double check my web app. When I paid at the Izzi store last month, my web app immediately updated with the new payment.

I headed north up the Prolongación Paseo de Montejo and eventually turned west to go back to Calle 60. Along the way, I was puzzled when I passed a random carambola lying in the middle of the sidewalk.

I looked up and was awed.

I had no idea that carambolas grow in Mexico! I always thought they were a Southeast Asian fruit!

I got to Pollo Feliz and was surprised to see that it is both a proper sit down restaurant and a takeaway stand — it’s the Mexican Nando’s! I chose to eat in since I was famished. A half chicken was about $75. The server said it didn’t come with anything, but there were already totopos, salsa, two kinds of onions, and tortillas on the table so I declined a side. He rather pushed and I decided to try “cebollitas,” which, based on the grocery store, I expected to be be green onions.

Well, the onions were small regular onions grilled just the way I like them. OMG. 🙂 Now that was quite a find! The chicken was absolutely wonderful. Between paying $75 for a scrawny chicken with sides I’m not fond of and getting this meaty bird, there’s no contest. And, yes, they deliver. 🙂

Needless to say, I took home leftovers. The purple veggie is pickled onions Yucatecans eat the way that Sinaloans enjoy chiles curtidos, but they’re not spicy. Between those, regular raw onion, and grilled onions, I was in heaven! I had two very reasonably priced lime agua frescas ($20 each) with this as well. With a tip, I came out at $160. Very reasonable, especially for the quality of the food. I was most impressed. I also have to remember their desserts as someone came by with a tray with slices of four different cheesecakes that looked wonderful. I could see myself walking all the way up there one evening for such a treat. 🙂

Heading south on Calle 60, I passed this wonderful place selling Christmas trees and poinsettias — so pretty and it smelled like Canada. 🙂

One thing I love about walking around a city is how you find things that you miss when driving. I took so many notes on my walk of places offering things I need. I was delighted when I passed on store that had something on my “YOU REALLY NEED THIS ASAP!!!” list. I call it a vadrouille:

In European French, that’s a mop, but in québécois, it’s a a big shaggy broom for collecting dust. I have something like 2,700 square feet of floor to upkeep (yes, yes, that’s ridiculous, my house is huge, I know, I know!) and a broom isn’t cutting it. A vadrouille would let me quickly dust all the floors every day or two to cut down on how often I need to wash them.

The vadrouille was only $95. The man asked me if I speak good Spanish. After I said yes, he explained that I have to treat the mop with this product (spraying it on) and then let it dry for four to five hours before using the vadrouille or it would not work. I figured it had to be some sort of oil to attract the dust. The product was $50. So $145 all-in, which sounded like a good price and I liked that I was buying from a little shop in my neighbourhood instead of a chain store.

I came in and treated the vadrouille. The product was foul. I still can’t place the smell although I know I know it. It’s almost like an oily turpentine and it took a lot of work to get the smell out of my hands! Needless to say, I treated the vadrouille outside, where it is now drying. I just did a search and “tratamop” is a an actual generic product here so I should be able to find more easily if that shop were to close down.

It was then time to head home and get back to work!

I’m taking it easy with transcription this week since I’m training and I also hope to be able t0 go buy a new fridge and, once it arrives and has had time to settle before being plugged in, go get some much needed groceries. I was shocked and rather disappointed that a transfer came into my HSBC account in just two business days when it’s normally at least four and that I’m still waiting on a transfer to my Scotiabank account because it would only be two and it’s now been four…  But of course! Anyway, maybe I’ll get to go fridge shopping in the morning and if I’m really lucky, they’ll be able to deliver in the afternoon so I can get groceries on Wednesday…

Well, back to work I go. I thought I’d be done by now (5PM), but I decided to get this post out instead. 🙂