Using the Nest Thermostat: Turned On for Winter


It’s weird, but it started when I was a kid and my dad would argue with us whenever we used the heater. The heater was never to be turned on before Nov. 1, but even then, that day was only a baseline minimum. The goal was to try to hold out days longer before turning on the heater. This year, we’d been cruising along, cold, but not that cold, until this morning when I lost hope that the sun would eventually warm the house above 62 degrees. It was time to fire up the Nest.

Our Nest was installed six months ago at the end of our remodel, and our builder kept pushing me to relocate it to somewhere more visible because the interface was so pretty. He wanted it to go where our alarm panel is located, and while the Nest is prettier than the alarm panel, when entering the house with kids and groceries, I’d rather the alarm controls be in the easy to reach location. Because of that, our Nest is nestled into the dark hallway in the kids’ wing. (I’m using wing about as loosely as it can be used. Nook may be a more accurate word.)

I was certain the Nest was trying to cook us alive during the first few weeks while it got to know our schedules and temperature wants. I’d check and the heat would be set to say 69 degrees, but later after feeling flush, I’d see the Nest was cranked up to 90 degrees. It wasn’t the kids playing with it, even though I may have accused them of that. It was just the Nest figuring it out. After many temperature adjustments and cursing at it, it’s regulated itself. We turned it off in August when the air conditioner was no longer needed, but I changed that this morning, turning it back on and switching it to heat.

It is possible to have both hot and cold systems operating at the same time, but we overrode that option in the beginning when the a/c switched on a few times when the house temperature was low enough to require heat. Running the a/c needlessly bothers me more than turning on the heater before Nov. 1.

The Nest goes to sleep, but pops awake when someone walks closely by, displaying the temperature for all to see. I love to wave my hand near it to see the temperature appear. I just did it – the house is 77 degrees with the heat set to 64. The Nest heated the house to 66 degrees this morning, which was the target temperature until 3 p.m. The sun finally warmed us up the rest of the way, but if the hallway temperature dips below 64 degrees before 7 p.m., the Nest will kick on. The night time and overnight temperatures will be lower than 64. The worst thing about the learning curve is that the Nest will sometimes kick on during the night. We never had this with the a/c, but it happened with the heat in the spring. When I’m fast asleep and snug in my bed, I don’t want 90 degree heat blowing in my face. That’s when the cursing happens.

We’re happy with the Nest, especially now that I no longer think it’s trying to cook me.

Tasting Menu Yesterday, Leftover Burger Today

tippytoes-smashburgerYesterday, I made my own Smashburger, and that was after eating almost their entire menu. During a Smashburger tasting lunch for media, we were given the opportunity to make our own burger, starting with smashing the beef patty. Of course, they have the thing down to a science about how and how long to smash, and it was fun to give it a try myself. Man, working a grill is hot, hard work.

Too full for one more bite, I took the Smashburger patty home and ate it today for lunch. The thought of eating leftover fast food makes me uneasy, but Smashburger is not fast food. Casual food, yes, but not standard fast food. The burger was made fresh yesterday and tasted great warmed up and served over salad today.

The leftover burger reminded me of a friend of a friend in college, who passed out in her bed following a late night, post-drinking fast food run. She fell asleep with a cheeseburger in her hand, and woke up in the same position at nearly noon the next day. That’s when she looked at the cheeseburger with surprise, and ate it. A cold, congealed, plasticky burger. She ate it. That happened.

Our Day in the Country with Hip Chick Farms


Meet Franny and Lola, the best donkeys I’ve ever met. Not that I’ve met a lot, in fact, these are probably the first two I’ve ever met, minus the living nativity scene from my childhood. Lola was like a dog in that where ever I went, she went. I’d walk off, then a minute later, would feel something at my side and sure enough, it was Lola. We had a connection. Some people have soul mates, I have a soul donkey.

Lola and Franny are six months old and live at Hip Chick Farms in Sebastopol. I’ve written about Hip Chick Farms before, and if you live in California, you need to try their chicken. For those not nearby, but in the West, check your local Whole Foods. It’s really quality food that is perfect to keep in the freezer for nights where soccer runs long or for when watching football or when the kids demand chicken fingers.

Other than Lola, Franny, and the rest of the great company with whom we spent Saturday, those sandwiches in the photos made the day. Not an exaggeration, they were good. Good enough that Kevin asked me to ask Chef Jen how to make the slaw. It turns out I didn’t need to – they handed out the recipe.

Chef Jen’s Hip Chicken Finger Sandwich with Spicy Slaw


  • 1/4 cup each purple and green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients and let sit for 20 minutes.


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • one clove of garlic, chopped

Use a hand whisk, a blender or an electric mixer. Slowly drizzle the oil into the egg while mixing until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. Add salt, lemon juice, and garlic.


  • 2-3 Hip Chick Farms Chicken Fingers, ready to eat
  • 1 soft sandwich roll

Split the roll in half, slather both sides with aioli, add chicken fingers with slaw on top. Enjoy the best chicken sandwich in town! (The sandwich recipe belongs to Chef Jen and Hip Chick Farms)

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Thank you to Hip Chick Farms for inviting us out for a fabulous fall day in the country. We had a blast.

How to Tell the Age of Your Tires

I learned a helpful bit of information that I thought I’d pass on. It’s easy to determine the age of your tires with the manufacturing date printed right on the tires. Tires have a tire identification number that is a string of numbers with the age in the last four. The first two numbers are the corresponding week in the year, remembering that there are 52 weeks in a year, and the second two numbers represent the year. For instance the tire below was made in mid-December 2012.


As someone who needs to purchase new tires soon, I thought this was helpful. I trust the place I buy my new tires will be selling me brand new ones, but if I suspect a scam, this would be the place to look. Of course, if the tires were used, it would show on the tread, yet more likely to happen is paying full price for tires that have been sitting around for a long time. Tires have a life expectancy of six years, and I want as much of that time to be spent on my car.

I learned this tip and many other driving skills that I will be writing about during a Ford Driving Skills for Life training in Virginia last week. If you have a teenage driver, this free program is important to attend. The program tours around the country and is worth watching to see when it comes nearby. 

Review: Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver


The game: Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver.

Rating: E (Everyone)

Version we tested: Nintendo Wii U

Our experience: Many video games with an E rating don’t always appeal to the thrill ride my seven-year-old wants, which is an ongoing struggle. He sees commercials on TV for violent games, and recently tried to arrange a playdate with a friend, so that they could play his friend’s Halo 4 game. Umm, no way.

Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver is a great option. It’s not a game for little kids – it feels slick and it’s definitely a challenge, which makes it feel more mature, even though it is rated E. We received a free copy to try out at home, and while I thought it would only be for my son, we each took a turn.

I played first and it was much harder than I expected, even on straight aways. This wasn’t a game for moms. My son played next and he fared better, but it was tough. He played it for a while, trying different courses, but never getting as far as he’d like. One great thing is that the game allows you to quickly try again, which meant the game kept him engaged even when things weren’t going as well as he’d like. My 10-year-old played it next and she loved it. She handled all of the challenges, and liked the many options for teams and races. My husband liked it, too. He did much better than me, too.

My son said “it’s cool that there are a lot of vehicles to drive, but on the motorcycle one, it was hard to get it to do stuff.”

Downsides: The game allows multiple players, but they cannot race each other directly. It was a one person at a time game. (If this is wrong, let me know because we really tried to find away to let people race each other.)

Conclusion: It is a cool game. It feels like a mature game for kids not old enough for teen and adult games, which satisfied my son’s needs. My daughter and husband still think it’s fun after playing it a few times. It was too hard for me to stay on course, but then this game isn’t for me. It’s sufficiently challenging, is fast paced, fun, and lacks violence, which makes it a winner.

Disclosure: As mentioned in the review, we were sent a copy for free. All opinions are my own.