Two of the three trips next year are mostly planned and am feeling pretty good about it. It wasn't my intention to organize both at once but once I started calling and emailing about info, availability etc. and happened upon people who were exceptionally great at responding, things just fell into place.
Have gone back and forth about 20 times with representatives for each country so it made sense just to commit rather than wait and get back to them in a couple of months. Some aspects of the trips required advance deposits to secure spots. And because the people I corresponded with also assumed a certain amount of knowledge, it challenged me to get my Learning On quick in order to respond properly.
I'm making this sound far more involved than it really was. When your knowledge base is pretty much zero, anything new is a big deal. Good thing I like maps as most of this was logistic planning. Other aspects were variations of what I already know such as train, bus, ferry scheduling, albeit in a different language and some I cannot buy without an agent, but there is lots of support out there.
I find myself in the strange position of knowing where I'm going and big picture of what I will be doing once I arrive but with no flights (yet) to get there or for once I'm there. Completely opposite from how I normally approach things. Usually I am seat sale driven as it is commonly the single largest expenditure for me. Already started buying appropriate clothing and supplies.
However there are no current flight sales to where I'll be heading. Not expecting there to be much give in price as I'll be travelling during high season (unusual for me). Same for trip number three if I get my way. In fact, I'm giving up skiing this year just to go.
I know you have all been sitting on the edge of your seats awaiting the riveting conclusion to our washing machine woes, so here it is... : )
The saga has ended with the purchase of a new set after all. The part came on time but when D removed the back part of the motor, a crack was discovered in the actual basket/drum. Normally a warranty issue (25 year coverage on the part) but because the washer came with the house, we don't have a receipt to prove it. To purchase it will cost in the $400 range, so we opted to just replace the set.
The manufacturer gave us a refund on all the parts once he heard what we discovered, which was awesome. And D found a local fellow who will take away our washer for free and will give us $50 for the dryer.
Poor D felt completely defeated. He wanted so badly to be able to fix it (be the hero) and save us the cost but it just didn't make sense. We tried hard. That's good enough for me. Currently the washer is back ordered so it won't be here until next week. We are going with Samsung this time.
Moving on, D is trying to talk me into letting him change the brake pads on our cars. Yeah... I don't know about that... Washing machines are not in the same league as brakes -- A Safety Issue. Apparently it is "ridiculously easy" and there are tons of videos on it... Admittedly I haven't done any research on it but the idea makes me even more nervous than not getting my passport back in time.
Because I've been actively avoiding dairy when I'm in North America, I've not had any of Starbuck's signature festive coffees for the last couple of years. I used to enjoy their peppermint mochas a lot. They were like dessert to me.
For those out there who are also on the dairy free, soy free bandwagon and don't mind indulging in a little liqueur, D has come up with a fantastic substitute. It's basically 1/2 cup of dark roast coffee or espresso shot, 1/2 cup of dairy free creamer (I use rice milk. Coconut creamer works too) frothed up using espresso machine, 1/2 shot crème de menthe and 1/2 shot of crème de cacao. Voila! A grown up substitute. (modify the volume amounts according to your tastes)
And in case you have been wondering just what to do with your no-longer-pumping detergent dispenser that is part of your kitchen faucet? And you've tried to dilute your detergent, clean it out and put it together again etc.?
Know that you don't have to replace the entire thing (meaning the brush nickel part, in our case), for about $40 no matter what they say. You can just buy the plastic pump part on its own, at a plumbing supply store for $12 and pop your existing pump head on it.
You will probably want to find the part number from the manufacturer in advance to make the transaction easier. In our case, it was a "special order" and took 3 weeks but we finally got it. In hindsight, probably should have ordered 2 of them.