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Scattered Sundays

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Nothing new or exciting happened this week, so let’s chat about some life updates on things we’ve already discussed. Let’s gooooo!

It’s now been 6 weeks since we got our (used) Nissan Leaf, Lando CaLeafian, and it’s been mostly great! I love a lot about EV life and also have some regrets about this particular model.

Pros: It’s been bonkers amazing for saving money on gas. As I mentioned before, we are high mileage drivers. It’s based on where we live (zero stores are walkable and our preferred grocery store is a 20-mile roundtrip) and just the fact that we have kids and those kids do things.

Locally, the price of gas has dropped about $.80 in the last 6 weeks but it’s still always more expensive on the West Coast than in other parts of the country.

Based on an average price of $5.15 per gallon (it was around $5.79 when we got the Leaf and is now $4.59 on average), the combined MPG of Troy’s ancient truck and my Subaru (Subbacca), and miles driven since mid-July, since getting the Leaf we have saved $773 in gas.

Since Lando has become part of the family, I have only filled up my Subaru twice. Before it was at least once a week. Yep, we drive A LOT.

For the most part, we have not had a bump in our power usage by charging at home. And that’s all thanks to our solar panels (an update on those in a bit!) and the very sunny mid to end of summer we’ve been having.

The one time I had to pay to charge the Leaf, it was $8.60 at a public charging station for a full “tank”. My brother-in-law who is much better at figuring out all the detailed math of things, calculated that on average for charging many EVs, it is about $1 per an equivalent gallon of gas.

When Troy doesn’t have the Leaf at work, we use it for everything around town. Since the fuel is “free”, we find ourselves doing more things just for fun than we ever would have if it meant paying for gas.

The kids want to go to Target to walk around? Sure, let’s go. Target is an hour roundtrip which means I’d never go for just no reason and would always combine it with other errands all in the same area.

Another thing I like about the car is that the trunk is huge. Like HUGE for a small compact hatchback. The trunk is way bigger than any of the Civic hatchbacks I drove in my youth, and also bigger than the Civic sedan I once had.

The car is also incredibly fast. Most EVs have a lot of torque which means they can get up to speed very quickly. We drive the car in “eco mode” about 90% of the time because it reduces the “get up and go” power of the car and thus it extends the range of the battery. Just like if you drive a gas engine car on cruise control for better MPG.

But when the car is off eco mode, it’s FAST. And it’s very easy to switch back and forth between modes.

And this doesn’t show me in a very positive light and lays bare my inherent momentary acts of pettiness, but I use this speed to occasionally show off. Again, I’m not proud.

There have been a few times when I’m coming up to a red light and there is a large vehicle in front of me. And IF the left lane is empty and IF the vehicle has a “prius repellant” bumper sticker near their tailpipe, well my pettiness mode activates.

I’ll move over to the left lane and once the light turns green I will freaking SMOKE THAT TRUCK OFF THE LINE. Like I’m a half mile ahead before they’re barely in first gear. And I giggle each time and then put the car on eco mode and try to remember that I’m almost 41 and should be better than that. But I’m not.

Cons: I hate hate HATE the backup camera and radio in this car. It’s like 2003 technology at its absolute worst and it’s in a 2019 vehicle. My 2016 Subaru base model Outback had way better technology than this 2019 vehicle.

The Leaf is one of the most affordable EV models out there and my guess is that it is because they give you the absolute bargain basement crap for radio/backup camera. That being said, Troy’s ancient truck doesn’t even have a backup camera.

One of the oddest parts of their system is that your phone will not stay connected to Bluetooth without jumping through a ton of hoops. I don’t put my hands on my phone while driving, so being able to answer or make calls hands-free is something I have come to rely on.

The mileage range for the battery is also pretty low (~160 miles) compared to newer EVs and the Chevy Bolt (~247 miles). At the time we bought the Leaf we could not find a used Bolt in our price range anywhere in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. Not a single car!

In hindsight, I wish I had paused and waited 2-3 more weeks and looked harder for a Bolt. I think it would have made a lot more sense for our lives. We have made the 160 range work but there have been two times where things got a little dicey and I really could have used a longer range.

Another thing that makes me wish we had waited for the Bolt is that the Leaf has a different input option for Level 3 chargers (the ones you see out in public that are super fast) vs almost every other EV out there.

It’s called a CHADeMo charger whereas almost all other EVs use something called a CCS charger. Most public chargers I’ve been to have only ONE CHADeMo charger out of 8 total chargers. And Electrify America won’t be installing new CHADeMo chargers in some states.

There was an incident during Jack’s soccer tournament where I was looking for a public charger and all the CHADeMo ones were broken. It made me nervous and I hated not having additional options/choices.

Teslas have different inputs as well and there are a ton of aftermarket adapters to allow Tesla owners to use the CCS public chargers. To date, there is not a single one that I can find for Nissan.

I’ve talked to Nissan dealers and they also don’t know about any available. That sucks as it would increase our public charging options by 700%.

As of 2022, all of Nissan’s new EVs use the CCS plug to make public charging much more streamlines. This is something to consider if you’re in the market for a used Leaf in the future. Let our mistake help you make a decision that works best for you.

It is what it is at this point, and I am hopeful that someone will create an adapter in the future. We only ever need public charging maybe 5-10x per year. In those moments we can always take my (gas) car, but I can’t tell you how nice it is to NOT fill that thing up with gas as much as I used to.

Bennett turned the corner after his tonsil surgery last weekend, but as of Tuesday, he seemed 100% back to normal. To the point where he was being so loud and bonkers, we were kind of missing the “recovery phase, Bennett”.

For the first week, Troy and I had taken turns sleeping in his room on his trundle bed. After that, we realized that it would be a lot more comfortable for Bennett and a parent to sleep in our king-size bed, and for the other parent to sleep in Bennett’s bed.

Wednesday night was the first night we put him to bed without any pain meds at all. He had been sleeping very well through the night for the last few nights but we were still giving him a little hit of Tylenol before sleep.

He’d toss and turn a bit from discomfort around midnight but would be able to go back to sleep with a quick snuggle or back rub. At 2 am on Thursday morning, he woke up with leg cramps; something we haven’t seen in two weeks.

They’re so painful for him and often take 1-2 hours to pass and for him to go back to sleep. It was like his body flipped a switch from a super painful throat to painful muscle aches. And perhaps the pain meds were also keeping the leg cramps at bay.

Alert: we’re on top of this and working with our ped on an EDS diagnosis, AND I had chronic leg cramps as a kid. We know all the things and we are not in search of suggestions/solutions/MLM products.

Thankfully because he was feeling so much better this past week he was able to go to a day camp. He loves this camp and one of his little besties was there this week. Everyone in the Cook family was happier to have him out of the house for a few hours a day.

A month or so ago I shared that we got a new pan organizer for our kitchen. Our previous one was plastic and only lasted 18 months before our heavy pans shattered it. I did a lot of research and ended up getting this metal organizer that is designed to hold cast iron cookware.

All the photos showed it being used upright, but it was too deep for our drawer. I took a chance that I could lay it on its side, and it has worked beautifully! I never hold my breath anymore while putting a skillet back in the rack.

a display from a solar panel app.

On Thursday we officially met our goal of having 70% of our energy needs produced exclusively via our solar panels. Our solar company explained that 70% of our yearly production (March 1 thru March 1) would happen from May through early September.

The panels were installed and online in mid-April, but our spring and early summer were SO weird and cold. I’ll fully admit that I was nervous about hitting our goal, but July and August have been sunnier and hotter than normal and we were off to the races.

Our peak production day was in July when we produced a whopping 74.1 kWh in one day. July’s average was 56.1 kWh produced per day. In August (so far) we have been averaging 51 kWh produced per day. The biggest difference in production is that the days definitely start getting shorter in August.

As fall is fast approaching, our production levels will start to plummet soon. We’ll eke out the remaining 30% of kWh production very slowly between September and next March. November is typically our rainiest and grossed month of the year, so I’m assuming we’ll barely produce anything that month.

And because it seems like some people coughMTGcoughcough seem to think that solar is a bad idea because “the lights won’t work at night” (🙄) that is um, false. Because…science and the power of net metering. Maybe look into it?

The only time we have been been in the dark at night is when we’re eating dessert and hiding it from the kids.

Our very sunny and hot summer has also made me so very happy that we have a clothesline. Even on an overcast day, our expandable/retractable clothesline can dry at least three loads of laundry.

An electric dryer is one of the biggest energy drains in most (American) homes. Line drying outside isn’t possible all year in my climate, but using a clothesline for 3-6 months a year still makes a huge difference in energy output.

And remember my mantra to embrace “B- work”? Focus on what you can do and not everything that you can’t.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

I started a new series called “Significant Others”. From the website: “Significant Others is a narrated, nonfiction podcast about folks just beyond the spotlight of history. Each episode tells the story of a talented, difficult, and little-known individual who altered the destiny of their better-known partner, child, sibling, or friend, and impacted the world they left behind.” (source)

I very much love history and this podcast combines history with excellent storytelling and fun voiceovers by some celebrities such as Nick Offerman.

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Angela left this five-star review on our Whole30 Pot Roast {Pin this recipe}:

This was delicious! Followed recipe except subbed tomato paste with a pinch dried basil for marinara, and did not put any veg except onion in the instant pot. I’ve never been a fan of carrots and potatoes cooked with roast. Made mashed potatoes and green beans as sides. Thanks for sharing a great and easy recipe!

shredded pot roast and veggies on a grey plate.

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

Freezing BasilLearn all the tips and tricks for how to freeze basil to build a freezer stash of this incredible herb. Freezing basil is a great way to preserve it without needing to know any special kitchen skills. {Pin this tutorial}

frozen basil leaves on a gold baking sheet lined with parchment.

Air Fryer Curly FriesThese frozen Curly Fries in the Air Fryer are so deliciously crispy. Baked, not fried, this easy air fryer side dish is simple to make and cooks in only 15 minutes. {Pin this recipe}

a white bowl with air fried curly fries with 2 bowls of dipping sauce.

Drying LimesLearn all about drying limes in a food dehydrator or in an oven. Dehydrating lime is a simple project for adults and kids and makes amazing additions to sweet and savory dishes. {Pin this tutorial}

a white bowl of dried lime slices on a marble board with whole and halved limes.

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

  1. Canning Peaches – like sunshine in a jar that you can enjoy all year long. {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce – use up all those delicious garden tomatoes in this simple recipe. {Pin this recipe}
  3. Canning Pears – the first time in the top 5 this year! Welcome to pre-fall, everyone. {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! Oh, and did you know you can FREEZE these? {Pin this recipe}
  5. Canning Whole Tomatoes – delicious work for all the prepping squirrels chasing summer. {Pin this tutorial}

MEAL PLAN

Monday:: Troy is making dinner and we will happily eat it!

Tuesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Wednesday:: Air Fryer Taquitos, Garlic Butter Rice, and veggies.

Thursday:: Troy is making dinner and we will happily eat it!

Friday:: TBD, it’s our final big adventure day before school starts and I’m not sure what time we’ll be home.

Saturday:: Movie night – popcorn and leftovers.

Sunday:: Testing a new recipe for fall content.

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9 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Congrats on the EV! My husband switched to an EV (Chevy Bolt) a year and a half ago when his gas car was totalled when someone ran a stop sign, and it has been the best thing ever. We were also a high-mileage family (he commutes, one kid was in ski club 2 hours away each weekend, one kid commuted to college, etc), and we are now saving about $800+ per month in gas costs (I’m on the west coast of Canada where gas is more expensive). I’m now on a waitlist for a Bolt EUV, and can’t wait. Too bad there is such a long waitlist!

    • Since you all do snow sports and I know Western Canada can be like Seattle when it snows (everything shuts down because there are only like 5 plows total), have you looked into the new
      Subaru EV? From what I can tell, it’s the size of the Forrester. And I love how my Subaru handles in the snow.

      • Yes, actually we did. We looked into quite a few options. However, we are in the midst of some transitions: I’m actually moving my youngest son into his dorm for university today, and our eldest son has also moved out. Our daughter is moving home, but I won’t be doing all the sports runs, etc. anymore! So, there’s really no need for a bigger vehicle. The Bolt EUV can easily manage my husband’s and my skis, etc., and it’s much easier to drive a smaller vehicle in Vancouver than a bigger one (omg, the traffic and parking!). The Bolt he’s been driving has handled snow really well up at the cabin, we just make sure we put on snow tires for winter. Plus, we know he fits in it (he’s 6’6″)!

  2. No suggestions, just sympathy for Bennett’s leg cramps. I’m still haunted by the leg cramps my twin used to get as a kid – she’d wake up screaming like she was being murdered slowly. Hang in there! I hope for restful nights for all in the future <3

  3. Based on what you said about the podcast, if you haven’t read Marie Benedict, you might really enjoy her books. Historical fiction that is super well-researched about women in history who have been overlooked, marginalized, and whose stories have so far gone untold. What brought it to mind is a book called The Other Einstein  about the brilliant Marie Einstein who made her own contributions to science and actually probably gave Albert the idea for the theory of relativity.  I truly love all of Marie Benedix books.

  4. We are using a LOT less gas also but for a different reason.  My husband’s truck suddenly started falling apart and Carmax still offered us a truly stupid amount of money for it.  We sold it and are temporarily a one-car family.  What we’ve learned was that we were being VERY wasteful.  We both work on the same military base, where our children also go to school.  But most days we were driving 30 minutes each way separately just because one of us needed to go in earlier or one of the kids had practice after school.  Yes, it’s less convenient to ride together and have to be there longer, but we’re using half the gas.  We’re going to buy a second (more fuel-efficient) car when prices get a little less crazy but we’ll continue to drive together most days.

    I’m glad Bennett is feeling better!  I hope the leg cramps will soon be a thing of the past as well!

    • 1) amazing they still gave him a good deal for that, and YAY for unloading a vehicle before it became a problem!
      2) yes, re-examining our actions can be so important. And after a while you might find out that driving separately still works sometimes and that’s ok!

  5. I do have a question about your solar panels, that probably lies along the lines of your cough*cough callout, but I’m going to ask anyways hahaha. I completely understand that since you are hooked into the grid, you get lights/power at night….but what happens during the zombie apocalypse? Say the grid goes down, and you have no power for an extended period of time….will your solar panels still power your house (at least) during the day (maybe not at night since there is no grid+no sunlight+you didn’t do the battery option), but will it power directly while there is light? Is that a thing?

    • The answer I have for you is the most annoying one of all – “it depends”.

      I just have to disclose that what I don’t know about solar could fill an ocean. Everything I’m about to say is based on my understanding of what we have learned. Huge margin of error potential here! 🙂

      1) our solar company no longer installs battery systems because they’re SO expensive (for the customer) and they have found they’re not all that reliable yet. As battery capacity and dependability grows, this may change.
      2) Many people with solar have a backup generator that can (I believe) be powered by solar during the day and normal generator fuel (gas) in the evening. In this case (as I understand it), the solar company can create a switch to flip from the system to the generator. If the power goes out, you flip it and then the solar starts powering the generator. We didn’t go this route because my dad already has an automatic backup generator for his portion of the house and we can hook into his power via extension cords if needed.
      3) the new Ford Lighting (basically their F-150 as an EV) has been designed to be a generator. So, you can “power” portions of your house via extension cords using that battery. Our solar company CEO was high up on the waiting list for this truck so they’re using his truck as a testing ground before rolling it out to any customers who have the Lighting. We’ve been on the waiting list too but were late to the game. This link has more info on the power capability.

      I’ll add that the cost of the base model of the Lighting is still $25-30k LESS than the cost of solar a battery system.

      4) Our solar tech guy said there is talk that our power company might create mini “hubs” for neighborhoods so that anyone with solar gets to generate and save electricity to these hubs and stay powered up during outages. He said this has been talked about for years but nothing has happened. Which makes me think that somewhere this is actually happening with other power companies? Perhaps with the growth of solar’s popularity, this will potentially be something that happens down the line.

      We went into this knowing that our system was designed to offset our power usage and that during a power outage we’d be pretty much in the same position as others.