Category Archives: Gadgets & Goodies

Beating the Heat: Evaporative Cooler, Portable AC Unit, or Fan?

Happy Friday, friends! A couple weeks back, LA was hit with a brutal heat wave. I can be kind of a baby about the heat, so let’s just say I wasn’t pleased. Our apartment has a wall AC unit in the living room, but it is expensive and completely ineffective unless you have it blasting on high and are sitting on the couch right in front of it.

See the unit hiding back there?

See the AC unit hiding back there?

And no, despite the odd placement and picture, the couch does not block the AC from working/circulating. Unfortunately, it really only cools the one room (and not well unless we want to spend a fortune), leaving our kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom sweltering hot. If I am a baby about dealing with the heat during the day, you should see me at night when the heat is keeping me awake!

We usually have an old, cheap, crappy bedroom fan, but it has been on the way out for a few months now. I finally put the last nail in its coffin by karate-chopping it to get it oscillating again… it didn’t work like it usually does (sometimes it stops oscillating and whacking the top usually gets it back on track!). Instead I killed the fan. Funny story: Walker mentioned this to one of his coworkers, who we have hung out with socially a few times, that I broke the fan by smacking it and his response was, “Oh, I see. She’s one of those girls that gets really frustrated and starts slamming things around, huh?” Yikes. Quite a reputation that I’m building out there. Thankfully, Walker laughed and assured him that I was not, but I think his mind was made up. He thinks I am a violent psychopath. I digress…

Anyway, after the homicide of our bedroom fan and upon the arrival of the torturous heat wave, we decided something needed to be done. After browsing Craigslist for places we could move and realizing that this was a preposterous and financially impossible solution to our cooling issue, we began to brainstorm more plausible answers. This brought us to the question:

Evaporative cooler, portable AC unit, or a new fan?

Our first instinct was that a portable AC unit would cost the same as running the window unit, but it would be the most effective and we could bring it into the bedroom at night. After a few seconds of research, though, we realized all “portable” AC units have to be vented with a giant hose out a window. Unfortunately, the layout of our apartment and the shape of our windows make that horribly inconvenient, if not impossible. Plus, you need to buy a kit for each window you want to use, so it can get pricy and super annoying. So portable AC got scratched off the list.

That brought us to an evaporative cooler. For those of you who don’t know what a evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler) is, it basically uses evaporated water to cool a room. Since it adds humidity to the air, it really only works well in dry climates. Since LA is pretty dry, we figured it could work here. Plus, it is energy efficient (MUCH cheaper to run then AC) and fully-portable (just needs an outlet). After reading a billion reviews, which were split between “this is an amazing miracle product” and “this is a piece of crap” with no middle ground, we decided to give it a go. We figured that if it was so black or white for people, we would know pretty quickly which camp we would fall into. After gallivanting all over town to find the one we wanted, we brought home this bad boy: the KuulAire Port-A-Cool.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

We opened it up and were put off to find out that it was wet in there! It had clearly been used, drained, and returned before (without the remote and instruction manual, mind you). That should have been our first clue. My cockeyed optimism got the best of us though, so we took it out of the box, filled it with 4 gallons of water, and hit go. It felt like a mediocre fan. I thought that maybe it just needed some time to get going, but after using it all afternoon and all night, it was nothing but a miserably humid $200 fan. FAIL.

We were so disappointed, so we followed the cue of whoever bought this before us and drained it, packed it back up, and returned it in the same state we received it (and let the store know of what was missing, of course, so that they wouldn’t sell it to someone else like that).

So we finally resorted to plan C, buying a new tower fan. We splurged on a fancy Vornado brand fan, since we have been (forgive the pun) blown away by their quality in the past.VornadoFan

We brought it home, plugged it in, and enjoyed a nice breeze. We have had it for a couple of weeks now and couldn’t be happier. It’s a great fan… thank goodness. The heat wave ended but I’m sure we will be having many more before the summer comes to a close. At least we are ready this time… and I will try not to smack the fan around so that it lasts us! ;)

School Storage Cart

I’m baaaaack! I have been working hard to figure out a good life/work/school/blog balance and I am getting there. I still haven’t had time to edit all of our wine country photos so that post is on the back burner for now.

Instead, I am so excited to tell you that I figured out a storage solution for all of my (many) school supplies. I had no idea that I was going to be receiving so many supplies as a part of my program. Since I didn’t want to be taking trips out to the garage for all of my everyday stuff, I needed to figure out a way/place to keep the supplies in the apartment. Easier said than done!

I pondered the predicament for a couple weeks, bummed that the only option seemed to be cramming another bookshelf into the apartment (and trust me- there is no convenient place for another one!). I was (trying) to catch up on reading blogs on Friday when I came across Cathy’s post at Adore Your Place that featured Ikea’s Raskog Kitchen Cart. I have been in love with this adorable turquoise cart since the day they came out with it but never had a need for it. But once I saw the cart, I knew it was the perfect solution for my storage problem. I decided to move the empty guitar case next to the fridge to the garage and place the cart ($49.99) in it’s place. Not only is it small and tucked away, but it is portable and I can roll it out if I am working on a project!

Before:Kitchen Progress 1

Now: (yay!)

SchoolCart2 SchoolCart1

As you recall, storage for my school stuff was one of my apartment resolutions for the new year! We can scratch one off the list!

1. KITCHEN LOVE – Since we didn’t quite get to this in 2012, I would love to get our kitchen project underway early this year!


2. ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE! – We need to do this every year! We got a bunch of Christmas gifts (books, DVDs, etc.) and have no where to put them so we need to do some spring cleaning to make room.


3. STORAGE SOLUTIONS – Now that Walker and I have lived together for over a year, we have slowly filled up all of our current storage. Aside from putting everything in the garage, we need to come up with some new ways to add storage (especially for books, DVDs, CDs, and school supplies!).


4. NEW COFFEE TABLE AND RUG – Our current coffee table is hanging on by a thread! We absolutely need to save up and replace it. We would also love to get a new, upgraded rug for underneath… class up our living room a little! :)


5. SCHOOL WORKSPACE – I love our writing desks but I am going to be doing a lot of drafting and projects that take up much more space/storage for school. We need to figure out a way to make a little more space for doing schoolwork, which is going to be really tough!

As for the extra books, DVDs, and CDs, we decided that we will have to weed out some of the old stuff and put it into the garage to make room for the new stuff. We simply don’t have enough room for everything. However, the garage is just out back so none of our stuff will be too far away! I am just happy that I figured out an easy, cute (and portable) way to store my school supplies close by. :)


That Time I Ruined My Birthday Surprise

But I didn’t mean to! Let me explain…

After I got back from orientation, I had a list of the specific supplies I would need for school.  A little panicked that I would have to scrape some money together for a (portable for space reasons of course) drafting table, I got a bit nervous.  I had the genius idea to check Craigslist for the off-chance that someone was selling a portable drafting table and to my great surprise, there was!CraigslistAd

You can’t tell from my screenshot but the table was quite beat up but for $30, who can be picky?! I figured I could scrape by with a shoddy board and emailed the guy. When Walker got home I told him about my find.  He said that it was great and to keep him posted.  An hour later the guy emailed me back that he was around all night and that I could come pick it up. I was about to hit send on an email back saying I’d be over shortly when Walker sighs and says, “Wait. Don’t go. I got you a drafting table for your birthday…”

I was really, really pumped for a second… and then immediately felt guilty for ruining the surprise! I had no idea though and was just getting so excited about school! You can’t blame a girl for being a super nerd, can you? I must have caught this problem from my dad because he ALWAYS unintentionally ruins his gift surprises (my mom can vouch for that!).

Turns out it was kind of a good thing that he got to see my excited reaction when I ruined the surprise because when the table was delivered the next day, there was a giant picture of it on the outside of the box. Who does that!? I brought the box inside on my lunch break and I would have found out then anyway. Way to go, Amazon.

Anyway, he apparently still loves me despite my surprise-spoiling because that amazing man is taking me to wine country for the weekend! We leave in a few hours and I can’t wait! Hitching Post steaks and Pinot, here we come!! :)

(and then I get to come home and play with my awesome new drafting table!)