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Shopping for a new car, it can be a challenge…OK, it’s a royal pain in the butt sometimes, but cars are necessary to most people and their livelihoods. I’m in the market for a new car, but how did I decide which one?

Last time I bought a car, I admit that I did it based solely on looks. Much like relationships based on the same reasoning, it was a bad idea. My Beetle is temperamental at best. However, I still have strong feelings for my car. I do love it. This is what my #NewCarFace looked like when I bought it. It was love at first drive. promotion #NewCarFace

Now, it’s 12 years later and my life has drastically changed. I need a vehicle that can handle the polar vortex that likes to hang out in Minnesota during the winter. Not to mention the potholes in the spring and summer that look like someone took a jackhammer to each and every street in the Twin Cities.

Older and wiser, I know to do more research when new car shopping. I need to dig beyond what the thing looks like. is a great place to compare makes and models, learn about gas mileage and what’s in stock at your local dealer.

Also,, known for taking the drama out of car shopping, is giving people a chance to win up to $25,000 to pay off their car loans.  All you have to do is show your new car face. See my picture above?  That’s the type of photo you need to enter the contest. You need to be in the photo with a car. It can be your current car or a car you’d like to have some day, but a car needs to be in the photo and so do you. And of course the folks want to


There are three ways to enter, but you can only have one entry in total. Got it?

On the  Twitter: Tweet a photo of your new car and a happy new car face. Use #newcarface and mention @carsdotcom in your tweet.


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Legal stuff you should know:

  • Participants can only submit 1 entry during the promotional period
  • Encourage readers to visit for more examples of #newcarface entries, additional contest details and rules.
  • Open to legal US residents (excluding MD, NJ and TN), 18+ who hold (or whose immediate family member holds) a qualifying vehicle loan or lease. Begins 7/29/14 at 8:00:00 am CST and ends 1/2/15 at 12:00:00 pm CST. Prize value up to $25,000. Subject to the Official Rules at See Official Rules for full details, including eligibility criteria and qualifying vehicle restrictions. Sponsor:, a division of Classified Ventures, LLC.
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A year in my life: Fortune favors the bold

MovingToMinnesota-NonChronA year ago today, I was at the airport in Sacramento picking up Paul.  We were about to embark on the adventure of our lives because both of our lives were about to change drastically, but for the better. I was moving to Minnesota for love.

Yes, I was taking a huge risk, which some people probably thought was stupid or foolish. I had quit my stable job with bosses who appreciated me and my work and likely would have kept me around for as long as I wanted or needed.  I enjoyed working with them too.  They were very supportive, funny, and all around good people. But, something even better was in store for my life.  I knew I had to take a chance. It felt right deep in my soul.

The move to Minnesota

We had set aside three nights to move my stuff and ourselves to Minnesota from Sacramento. It took us almost five. You can read the moving to Minnesota saga here:

Slowly, we settled into life with each other.  There were small things we had to get used to, like sharing a bed with someone else. When you’ve spent your entire life sleeping alone, it can take some time to get used to sharing a bed. Now, it’s weird to go to bed without someone lying next to me. I noticed that the other day.

Life in Minnesota

Our comfort with each other isn’t a neglectful one that popular culture likes to portray about couples. It’s a settling into a happy life. Maybe it helps that both of us are in our 30s. OK, I’m almost 40, but my point is that we’re both fairly well adjusted adults who try to keep our egos in check. Something that makes for a boring romantic comedy.

Since moving to Minnesota, I’ve learned much about my newly adopted home.  It’s full of interesting things to do and see, lots of fairs, festivals, and markets, as well as the second most popular state fair in the U.S. I’ve also survived one of the most brutal winters in the past 50 years. Overall, I’ve realized that you have to enjoy each moment you can. Life is short, so don’t waste it.

The past and the future

Two years ago, or even five years ago, I had no idea that my life would change so dramatically. I was utterly single and weary of dating. Dating is not for the faint of heart. You have to be able to take rejection much like a salesperson.  Except, it’s not some product or service people are rejecting, it’s you.  But, as painful as it was, it was for the best. It took a long time but I found the best guy for me.

Over the past year, we’ve shared many laughs and a few tears. We’ve grown closer with each passing day and I have never been so happy.  Yes, that’s cliche, but it’s the truth.

I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll have.

Car shopping and other nightmares

Minnesota, you are forcing my hand. What the heck is up with your roads?  I thought the roads in Sacramento were bad.  Uh, no. They are fancy and fine.

I’ve heard a saying that Midwesterners have…”There’s two seasons here. Winter and road construction.”

Really?  Have you seen your roads Minnesota? Holy crap.

Look at this road….LOOK AT IT!

StPaulMNPotholesI would say 85% of Saint Paul’s roads are similar to this one.  There is about a half mile of Snelling Avenue that isn’t too bad. Yes, you should gasp in horror. It’s awful.  Minneapolis isn’t that much better.

So, after the winter from hell we get potholes on parade.  My car really can’t take much more. The poor thing is 10 years old. It has 98,000 miles on it. It’s time to retire the old gal.

Now I am faced with what vehicle to purchase.  I’d much rather go to the dentist and the gynecologist on the same day.

After some research, it seems that all wheel drive would be best for shitty road conditions. Also known as ice and snow. Apparently, the sub-sub-sub zero temps are an anomaly, so I’m not going to take that factor into consideration when deciding on a vehicle.

Then there’s the whole financing research to fry my brain…oh and let’s not forget the fun negotiation that will inevitably happen. Good thing Paul & I watch lots of Pawn Stars to sharpen my haggling skills.

By the way, the first person who says something to me about cup holders and their importance to my car purchase decision, gets kicked in the groin area.

I’m more interested in shit that matters like reliability, gas mileage, and overall cost to own. Oh yeah and taking on potholes like a boss. I mean you see those photos. It’s not like you can dodge those suckers. It’s pretty much off road driving on a road.

Minnesota: The land of never ending winter?

MinnesotaWinterHumorYesterday, I had a mental breakdown. The drive home was so frightening that the moment I saw Paul, I burst into tears.  I was so happy to be alive and needed to relieve the pent up stress from white knuckle driving through downtown Minneapolis.

Honestly, why do you people live here? Do you not know California exists? I kept thinking to myself, “Why am I putting myself through this? Why is anyone driving? This is so dangerous.”

My first winter driving in slick conditions and it’s one of the worst the locals can remember. Also, I just hate driving in general.  Icy roads exacerbate my fears. It’s not the roads that scare me; it’s other people.  People are stupid and they drive.

Did I mention a bus slid past my car? Yes. A. Bus. A few inches to the right and I might not be writing this blog post.

So, my Beetle has to navigate along icy streets while I pray idiots in vehicles of varying size don’t kill me.

You know how people drive when it’s sunny and warm?  They do that when it’s -1 and icy snow is compacted beneath their tires.

Do you see that top photo?  That’s what the streets looked like last Saturday.  They still look like that on Tuesday.

I’ve reached my breaking point with this weather.  I worked from home today because I just couldn’t bring myself to get into the car.  I could feel a panic attack welling up inside me as I laid in bed trying to will myself to get out of it.

This craptastic weather is supposed to last for another week or two. Can someone please help me maintain my sanity?  I’ve thought about seeing a therapist, but I have a feeling it would go much like Sheldon talking to Leonard trying to overcome his stage fright. I would not be impressed.

The one and only time I’ve ever gone to a therapist, I remember thinking, “So, I’m not screwed up. This lady is pretty much giving me the same advice I’ve heard from my parents and my friends. I’m done here.”

I think my problem really stems from an overload of stress.  This winter is HIGHLY stressful to everyone.  Add to that planning a wedding, which I’m excited about, but is a stressor nonetheless.

Tomorrow the forecast is supposed to be god-awful again and driving conditions around the Twin Cities are not going to be improving. Paul’s class was canceled tonight “due to the impending weather” as he put it.

So, will winter ever end or have we entered another ice age?

Be back soon: Gone winter crazy

My first winter in Minnesota and it’s awful. Honestly, do you people know California exists? I now understand why people thought I was nuts for moving here.  Love does make you do crazy things.

I mean what the hell, Minnesota? Getting to the grocery store is a freaking chore. I’m not used to having my movements so restricted. I used to be annoyed by the rain.  What a fool I was.

The thought of going out to dinner exhausts me. Do you know how much effort that will take?

I’m tired of having to wear 5 layers of clothing just to ensure one of my extremities doesn’t fall off while getting out of the car. I’m tired of worrying that the oil in my car might be too frozen for it to turn on after a day of work. I’m tired of seeing the Wind Chill Advisory and a temperature well below zero as the high…THE HIGH!

When I was getting ready to move out here, I was worried about road conditions. Someone made a flippant comment about it not being the 1800s and not driving a wagon.

Um, dude. You have NO idea.

Snow blowing across the road makes me cringe. Ice on the road is frightening. I know now just how stupid people are in their cars.

My poor car has taken one hell of a beating….Not from the snow, but from the horrible potholes riddled throughout the streets of Saint Paul and even Minneapolis.  Sorry, dude, but my Beetle won’t roll over the 4 inch pothole as quickly as your SUV. Deal with it or tell your council member to get off his/her ass and fix the roads.

Speaking of…there are roads that don’t get plowed. I’m dead serious. They are side streets and have a giant layer of snowy ice lining them. How the people who live on them deal with that crap is beyond me.  I’d be the crazy lady dragging a giant bag of salt up and down the road, cussing the government the whole time.

How many more days until spring?  I keep day dreaming about it and summer, which is a clear sign I’ve lost my mind because I usually hate summer. Now I understand why it’s so much better.  You don’t have to be holed up in your house shaking your fist at the weather person. You can actually leave whenever you want or need. Ahhhhhh, the freedom.

All venting aside, I wouldn’t leave this place without Paul. Being able to laugh with him, snuggle with him and generally enjoy life with him does make all this crap worth it.  Besides, it won’t be winter forever, right?

Driving Nice: That’s not a lane, Minnesota

Growing up, I heard my parents talk about how awful the drivers in New Jersey were. We lived there briefly when I was child, but it was long enough to put an indelible mark on my family’s collective psyche…and my accent sometimes.

Regardless, when we moved back to California, any time someone would drive poorly, they always made a Jersey Driver comment.

Minnesota, you are giving New Jersey a run for its money.

Minnesota Drivers

Seriously, do you see that above photo?  It’s on 7th Street in Minneapolis.  Those cars on the far left in the second photo are NOT IN A LANE! That’s where cars park. Do you see the parking meter? There’s a big red arrow pointing at it. That means that’s where cars park. And it’s not one of those no parking during commute hour things either. I’ve seen cars parked there at the same time before the photo was taken.

Since none were there for whatever reason that day, drivers who were turning left just made it into a lane rather than wait in traffic for the light to change.

Now, I’ve seen some crazy shit go down while stuck in traffic in San Francisco. When you are trapped in traffic, you do tend to lose your mind.

These people WERE NOT trapped in traffic. They were just being jerks.

But, it’s not just this instance.  I’ve seen it all over the Twin Cities area.  Yes, I used to see people in Sacramento go around someone who is turning left in front of them (HOW DARE THEY TURN LEFT!!!), and I see it here, but it’s far, far worse.

Why are you all in such a hurry?  It’s not even cold yet, or so I’ve been told.

Luckily, the red light running is not as bad here as it was in Sacramento.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is still a decent amount of people blasting past the red, it’s just not as frequent.  I’ve actually gone a whole week without seeing it happen…well, maybe more like five days.

Here’s one thing I’ve come to realize, bad driving is universal. It’s just the type and flavor that can change.

Whiskey Tango Plates

WhiskeyTangoToday while driving back from lunch, I noticed an odd Minnesota license plate.  Now, Minnesota has a TON of different kinds of license plates on the road.  Just look at this 11 page list from the Department of Public Safety.  Yep, 11 pages!

Regardless, I thought I’d seen one before and had wondered at its plainness…which usually is reserved for government type vehicles.

When I googled “white Minnesota license plate with black letters” the phrase “whiskey plate” showed up in the search results.  Ignoring that, I clicked on the description on the OMG! Facts page that said something about special DUI plates.  That’s right Minnesota has special license plates for people who have had two or more DUIs in the past 10 years or who have been caught with a blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit or higher.

Twice the legal limit is what we all know as fall down drunk.

While some of you might be thinking that’s kind of hardcore…it is. And I’m all for public shaming.

Now before you get your britches in a knot, the offender only has to have the plate for one year…but they have to have them on ALL of the vehicles they own.  So not only are you wearing the scarlet letter, but if your name is on the title of your kid’s car…so do they!  Fun for the whole family!

I saw some article where a guy was complaining about the fact that now everyone is his small town knows his business…because of the white license plate. Dude.  Get a grip. People in your town know your business, white license plate or not.  That’s how life in small towns work, right?  You can always move to a different state.

Speaking of public shaming, I found this website where the author was doing nothing but posting photos of various. Granted it doesn’t have many entries and they stopped updating it back in 2009, but my point is this is what I warned you all about on the internet.  Personally, my favorite photo is the one (or two) of the car with the Whiskey Plate outside of a liquor store.

Of course, now, every time I see a car that is driving like a jerk, I wonder if they have a whiskey plate.

Side note: If you search for Minnesota whiskey plate, you will get a shitton of attorney websites.  That’s some good SEO!