Monday, January 27, 2014

Worth the money, or OHHH HONEY??

My first car was a 1990 Honda Accord LXI with a five-speed, and as a teenager growing up in Southern California, the vehicle proved to be as reliable as my Avon-selling bus driver…loyal, simple, not terribly sexy, but incredibly efficient.  A few years later, wearing a heavy coat of attitude, I upgraded to a more fancy, flashy, sporty German car, packed with amenities the 2014 Honda's have yet to offer. Those amenities meant very little, however, when the car spent more time in the mechanics garage than mine.  After two years of heartache (and buckets of cash later) I traded that fancy display of nonsense in on another reliable Honda.  No, I'm not the new spokesperson for Honda Automobiles, but the same hasty decisions are made in homes every day.  As we roll towards the time of year when people spend tax refunds oh home upgrades, many make mistakes by splurging (when they otherwise wouldn't if strapped for cash) on more expensive, flashy high-end brand names.  I'm here to tell you to save the money and just go bland with the brand, especially if you plan on selling.  Here are just a few of the problems I have found with common upgrade mistakes:
It's safe to say just about everyone on the planet these days wants STAINLESS STEEL everything. Miele (pictured above) is used in many higher-end homes and costs a fortune (average price is $2,600).  A few years ago in California only ONE Miele representative existed for the entire state, and only Miele reps can repair broken or misbehaving appliances.  And, yes, they misbehave on a regular basis.  What I also found when dealing with the frustration of fixing a broken dishwasher was the sleek new feature of locating all of the buttons on the top of the unit, hidden under the countertop when closed (an example in the photo above).  The problem here, when the unit goes into "steam-dry" mode it was shorting out because the moisture gets trapped under the countertop above, thus overloading the mechanism on top.
Solution…buy a good old GE or KitchenAide for far less with front mounted controls. If you are shopping for new appliances, invest a few bucks in Consumer Reports magazine for the latest on the greatest!
If you are choosing a new sink, my advice is to head to a store that displays every kind at customer level (some places hang them out of reach) so you can sample all..are you a double sink person, stainless, porcelain, or other?  Stainless, believe it or not, is the most durable, easy to clean and often the least expensive.  Porcelain is easy to chip and impossible to fix and I always mount sinks UNDER the counter..much easier for cleanup and more streamlined.
Right around the time I bought the fancy car in college I also splurged on expensive pots and pans.  All-Clad was my brand of choice at the time, and while I only cooked top ramen at the time, those pieces are still in my pantry today!  Am I suggesting you bust your budget on expensive pots and pans? Nope, not at all..I've found that Lodge Ware Cast Iron (make everything from stock pots to cowboy pans) are incredibly durable, very inexpensive and last forever (6 qt Lodge Stock Pot is $36 at Target and similar All-Clad is $214 at Williams Sonoma).
Have a question about what to buy when? Email me at and I'll throw my two cents at you before you spend yours!