May: Meatless Challenge – Baked Ziti with Sharp Cheddar & Baby Bellas + Core Bamboo Large Color Board Product Review
I make a pretty decent baked mac and cheese, but I've been feeling like something is missing. For our Meatless May Blogger Recipe Challenge, I decided to see what I could come up with. Hubs had brought home an extra container of mushrooms despite his mushroom reservations. (Love it when he brings extra food home that I love cooking with.) I had plenty of noodles, and cheese is regularly stocked up in the house. The few things I really needed were dried marjoram (I still really don't know what this is), and a couple of leeks. I have to say, I'm never going back to regular ol' baked mac and cheese again. This recipe was phenominal. Everyone in my house loved it (except my picky eater of a daughter). The best part, is that it's prepared like you would prepare a baked mac dish. Super simple and that's just the way I like it to be!
For this recipe I'm also reviewing a Core Bamboo cutting board. They were SUPER generous and sponsored our entire group this month by sending along their Large Color Board in magenta and a few extra goodies including their matching Madrid Utensil Set, and a matching Easy Grip Rolling Pin.
- 1lb - Ziti
- 8oz - Baby Bella Mushrooms (Chopped)
- 2 - Leeks (White Parts Only. Quartered Lengthwise then Sliced)
- 3 TBSP - Salted Butter
- 1/4 Cup - Flour
- 2 Cups - Sharp Cheddar (Divided into 1.5 and .5 cups)
- 3 Cups - Milk
- 1 TBSP - Dried Marjoram
- 3/4 to 1 TBSP - Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tsp - Salt
- 1/8 Tsp - Nutmeg
- 1 Cup - Regular Panko
- Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. At the same time bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add in mushrooms, leeks, and marjoram. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until mushrooms become soft.
- Add into the mushrooms and leeks the flour and combine.
- Quickly whisk in warmed milk.
- Allow mixture to simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add in salt, pepper, mustard, and nutmeg.
- At the same time the mixture is simmering, cook your ziti according to package instructions. Remove from hot water when noodles are just barely done. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Combine sauce, 1.5 cups sharp cheddar, and noodles. Pour into an 8"x13" baking dish.
- Top with remaining sharp cheddar and panko.
- Bake 30 minutes or until top becomes a golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.
I absolutely love my Large Color Core Bamboo cutting board. I've owned several Core Bamboo boards in the past, and currently have a massive one that I use almost every time that I cook. My husband actually bought several of the large ones for Christmas gifts when they were on sale on some deal site a few months back. However, there's just something about the magenta coloring along the outside of this board, and the unique contoured shape it has that makes this rank up to at least the #2 spot out of all of the cutting boards I have owned and still do own.
"This large bamboo cutting board is ideal for all food prep, presentation and serving. Made of durable, long-lasting renewable bamboo that is harder than most traditional hardwoods, this magenta accented board won't dull knives and are maintenance free. Prepare everything from weekday meals to Thanksgiving dinner with these durable cutting boards or present your newest culinary creation at your table with pride." ~ Core Bamboo
One thing that I love about bamboo boards is the fact that they're less absorbent than wood ones and is a natural anti-microbial, which means less bacteria remains on the board. Personally I wouldn't suggest using this board for cutting meat (but I've definitely done it myself and the description says all food prep is fine). Because bamboo is a grass, bamboo cutting boards are considered more eco-friendly than boards made from other materials. Bamboo grows quickly and regenerates itself as long as the roots remain intact. Bamboo is stronger than maple, extremely lightweight, and best of all it won't dull your knives. Core Bamboo goes a step further and makes all of their products from 100% organically grown bamboo. They make sure their adhesives are food safe and water based, in addition to using top grade oils, and and a lacquer from natural cashew trees. I love that their cco-consciousness doesn't just stop with their products. Whenever possible Core Bamboo also tries to use recycled and eco-friendly packaging materials. Awesome!
Like I said, I love this board. It's the perfect size for large quantities of vegetable cutting, and it fits nicely on my over-crowded counter. It's extremely easy clean and always comes out looking beautiful and like it's brand new. I will be honest and say I've put my into the dishwasher the few nights that I was feeling lazy. This is not recommended (but it's easy to clean by hand). It is recommended that to extend the life of your board that you use a food-safe mineral oil every now and again when your board starts getting that "tired" look. From my experience in the past with bamboo boards this is when it starts to dull a little and there are some knife marks in it.
Make sure you take the time to find Core Bamboo online and browse around. You will LOVE their awesome selection of products, the unique designs, and how beautiful everything is. You can also find Core Bamboo on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Definitely a brand worth checking out. (I could honestly say I'd die happy if my entire kitchen was stocked up with their products.)
*I received the above mentioned products free of charge from Core Bamboo in order to facilitate this recipe and review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
April: Canning Challenge – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe + Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses Review
Thankfully we had a rainy day yesterday so I could knock this recipe out. I've never made Roasted Butternut Squash Soup before. Or really any sort of squash soup except for that zucchini one from last month. This recipe for the April Canning Challenge is very simple, and all of the spices are pretty much to taste. I didn't measure much of anything but I can give you the guidelines based around what I did.
This month (or next month depending on what the bloggers are feeling), Ozeri has been generous and has sponsored the entire Blogger Recipe Challenge group. For this particular review I decided I would love to try out the Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses. I don't have anything like them, and have really been wanting to make soup shooters. I think they just look really fun, and less dishes to do if you just drink it right from the glass!
- 1 - 3lb Butternut Squash
- 1 - 14oz Can of Chicken Broth (Use your favorite kind)
- 1/2 - Yellow Onion (Chopped)
- 1 - Anju Pear (Peeled & Chopped)
- 2 TBSP - Butter
- 1.5 Cups - Water
- 1/3 to 1/2 Cup - Heavy Cream
- Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Nutmeg & Curry Powder To Taste
- Sour Cream for Garnish
- Preheat oven to 425F Degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Cut squash in half. Clean out the seeds. Brush on 1 TBSP of butter. Salt & Pepper generously.
- On a rack in the center of the oven, roast squash for 50-60 minutes. When squash is done you should be able to insert a fork easily into the flesh.
- Set pan with squash aside on a cooling rack until cooled enough to spoon flesh out and discard the skins.
- In a large sauce pot saute onion and pear in remaining 1 TBSP of butter until soft. This takes approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Add water, chicken broth, and squash to the onion and pear.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes while breaking up any large pieces of squash.
- Add salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg & curry powder to taste. (I went heavier on the salt and paprika, and did a pinch of curry powder and a dash of nutmeg.)
- Remove from heat & add heavy cream.
- Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until smooth and creamy.
- Serve hot & garnish with a small dollop of sour cream.
The Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses are PERFECT for serving soup shooters. Because they're insulated and made with borosilicate these stunning glasses work well for hot and cold beverages. That's right. You could have a hot cup of coffee in these glasses and you won't burn your hands. Heck, I still burn my hands on my coffee MUGS.
- Set of 4 heat and shatter resistant borosilicate glasses that each hold 8 oz
- Stronger and more durable than common glass, each glass features a wraparound contour that provides a natural aesthetic grip.
- Patent-pending double wall design that suspends drinks within an inner wall, creating an engaging optical effect.
- Designed to keep your hands cool with hot drinks, and free of condensation with chilled beverages.
- Completely dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe.
You have to admit these are pretty nifty looking. The double wall design creates a unique effect, and adds a little something extra to the overall plating of the food. The wraparound contour is not only aesthetically pleasing, but makes the glasses comfortable to hold. I tend to have the dropsies and break a lot of things, and loved that the glasses felt more comfortable and easier to grip while holding.
I sent a couple through the dishwasher last night and they held up beautifully. I'm always wary about sending new glass through a dish washer, so just in case they didn't hold up, I would have only been out 2 glasses. These are definitely some of my favorite kitchen items, and I can't wait to make more soup shooters. Maybe I'll get creative with drinks next time around too. The possibilities are endless!
Make sure you check them out on Amazon. Looks like they're on sale right now too. Originally priced at $48.95 as of right now you can get a set of 4 Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses for $29.95 + FREE shipping! Also make sure you keep up with what we're doing in the recipe challenge too. More Ozeri products will be reviewed including knives and pans.
*I was provided the Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses free of charge from Ozeri in order to facilitate this recipe and review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
April: Canning Challenge – Pineapple Jam Recipe + Can It Yourself with the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Kit
I've never canned anything in my life before. My grandmother used to can strawberry jam every year, and sometimes she'd let me help when I was a kid, but doing it myself? Yeah, right. Our Blogger Recipe Challenge group was generously sponsored by Fagor for two of our recipes this month. We were each provided with a Duo 9-Piece Pressure Canning Kit. Have to admit, I took one look at the box and packed it away until last minute because I was pretty intimidated. I've always wanted a pressure cooker because they can save BIG time when cooking (and you can practically cook everything in it), but for canning purposes? Save me!
I decided to go for something relatively simple for my first try. So, here's a Pineapple Jam Recipe - originally found on Canning Confessions. (Only 4 ingredients!)
- 4 Cups - Freshly Chopped Pineapple
- 2.5 Cups - Granulated Sugar
- 1 - Lemon (Seeded & Thinly Sliced w/ Peel)
- 1 Cup - Water
- (1/2 Package of Pectin - OPTIONAL)
- Sterilize your jars and lids. (You can do the stove top method or possibly the dishwasher method.)
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Stirring continuously, melt sugar, and bring to a boil until mixture has thickened and reached the gel stage. (This is where I was a little unsure of what it was supposed to look like, and to avoid having a runnier jam I might suggest using a little pectin to make sure it gels properly.)
- If mixture is a little chunky, you can take an immersion blender to it to smooth it out a little.
- Ladle mixture into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
- Using the Fagor Pressure Cooker/Canner, place jars into 2-3 inches of hot water, close lid and lock.
- Over high heat on the stove pressurize the cooker. Cooker should also be on HIGH.
- Once cooker is pressurized bring stove heat down to medium and pressure cook jars for 10 minutes. Lids should either pop inside of the cooker or once set out to cool.
- Naturally release pressure by turning dial to "off". Once pressure is released, remove jars to cool and set for 12 hours.
I am SO glad I got used to using the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Kit. It was AWESOME and really super easy. (I think canning in general is kind of a pain, but if you're going to do it, you might as well do it with some pretty great equipment.) It came with just about everything you'd ever need too.
- Includes: Duo 10 quart 18/10 Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker/Canner. Can be used for both pressure cooking & pressure canning.
- Home Canning Cookbook with recipes
- Canning Rack
- Stainless Steel Funnel
- Stainless Steel Ladle
- Jar Lifter
- Jar Wrench
- Bubble Freer
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- Works on all domestic cooking surfaces: gas, electric, ceramic & induction
- Instructional DVD
- User’s Manual
- Pressure Cooking Booklet with Recipes
There are so many great features about this pressure cooker/canner that make using it super simple. There is a 3-way locking mechanism that prevents unlocking the canner if there is ANY pressure in it. This is just fantastic because I'm a klutz and impatient. Talk about a bad combination. This safety feature definitely saved my fingers from getting burned off. The pressure indicator is also nice to have. It's small. but designed in a very obvious yellow color. When it pops up, that means there's pressure in the pot. When it's down, that means it's safe to open. See? Easy peasy.
Absolutely love all of the lifters that came with the kit, and having a nice stainless steel ladle and funnel is great. I didn't have either of those on hand so it was a great addition to the kit. Plus, I can use them for other things around the kitchen.
My favorite addition though to everything is the cook book that is included. There are recipes for EVERYTHING. From meat and jams to salsas, and cheesecake. Yumm! I can't wait to try out more of these recipes. I have a few of my own ideas swimming around in my noggin that are just dying to be tried. This has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment, and all fears and apprehensions are gone. Bring on the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Set!
Make sure you check out the other recipes from this month's challenge. Many were created to use with the Fagor Canning Set!
*I received the above mentioned product free of charge from Fagor in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
"So Long, Sad Walls!"
About a week or so I was contacted by Minted to see if I'd like to work with them on a product review (and giveaway). I have been aware of Minted for awhile. There are some stunning wedding invitations on Minted, birthday invitation, party supplies, journals, stationary, and occasion cards, however I wasn't in need of any of those items. As I kept browsing I found out that they also offer Wall Art Prints! In December we moved from Maine to Virginia and have realized that we have more open wall space. A LOT more open wall space, and all the walls are an off-white color. Can you say BORING?! Minted was awesome and sent a 16" x 20" limited edition, unframed art print titled "Cherry Blossom Tree" by artist Niniane Wang to help with our bare wall conundrum. I figured since we're super close to Washington DC and have been loving Spring, what better way to celebrate our move than by hanging up Cherry Blossom art!
Now, the last time I bought any sort of art print was while I was visiting DC several years ago and was at an art museum. (I still have it too and it hangs by my stairs.) I really have no idea what I'm looking for as far as quality and archival abilities go, but Minted seems to have it down so you don't have to worry about it. They also ship FAST.
"Minted's Art Prints are printed on museum-quality cotton rag archival paper with archival pigment ink. The result is a stunning, museum quality print with rich and vibrant colors. This paper and print method is used on all Art Prints. For protection, each Art Print is shipped in an acid-free and lignin-free sleeve." ~ Minted
And, because it's a limited addition print (only 1,000 made in that particular size), you know you're going to have a relatively "rare" piece of quality art hanging in your home! I have to admit I was a little wary about how these prints would be mailed. I'm used to things arriving in tubs, and this creates a slight problem because it takes forever to flatten them out. Minted however places your print in a lignin-free and acid-free sleeve packaged inside a sturdy cardboard envelope with two additional pieces of cardboard to make sure the print stays flat and wrinkle-free.
What I thought was a super awesome touch was the card of authenticity that was included with the print, and a little thank you note from the artist. I can't wait to get the print up on my walls. I was hoping to have a photo ready for ya'll with it hanging up, but we just haven't had the chance to go out and buy a frame. However, I promise you that the print looks EXACTLY like it does on the Minted website which is AWESOME. There wasn't a difference in color at all. It's nice to know that if you're going to buy something you can't see in person, it's going to look the way it's meant to once you get it into your home. Definitely a place I would order more Wall Art from, and the next time I need some snazzy invitations or cards, I'm definitely checking out their site FIRST.
"I am overjoyed that you've chosen my artwork. Thank you with all my heart!" ~ Niniane
Make sure you take the time to find Minted on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Minted also has an Inspiration Wedding Board Challenge going on where they are giving away $4,000 worth of Minted goodies! There are weekly winners through 4/29 so if you're interested you'd better get a move on.
Additionally, Minted is also offering my DealPeddler readers a giveaway for a $65 Minted Credit! This credit is enough for a 11"x14" or 11"x11" non-personalized art print. You'll be able to enter the giveaway [HERE] once it is live. Giveaway is open to legal residents of the USA who are 18+ and complete the mandatory entries. Giveaway will run for approximately 1 week.
*I received the product(s) mentioned above free of charge from Minted in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
Picture it. It has been a long grueling day. The kids have been possessed by the, I'm-Not-Going-To-Listen Demon. The pets have left a massive mess on the floor. Dishes are piling up. Dinner needs to be made. Then you see it. The unopened bottle of wine you were saving for such an occasion. You take it out of the rack, grab your corkscrew wine bottle opener and get to it. Thirty seconds in and you're still twisting the screw down into the cork. A minute in and you're wondering why the cork isn't coming out. Two minutes in and you've now successfully broken off bits of the cork that fall into wine that you still can't get to. Five minutes in and the cork has been pushed completely into the bottle, essentially ruining it, but you just don't care and start downing it without bothering to use a glass. ...Sound familiar? Sometimes I could personally bypass all of that drama with a loud yell to the husband in the next room. "HONEEEYYY!!! I CAN'T OPEN THE WINE. GET IN HERE!" But, when he's not home? I was usually SOL.
"Ozeri is also an emerging brand in the consumer marketplace. Ozeri products are made available to the consumer through an efficient business model. Unlike competitive brands, with Ozeri products the final price borne by the consumer is not burdened by advertising, the marking and other traditional costs that support brand equity. The Ozeri brand is instead built on the relationships formed by touch-points that countless guests have with our products at vacation residences around the world." ~ Ozeri
When Ozeri offered to send their Prestige Electric Wine Bottle Opener for a review I was beyond stupidly excited. Not only could I open a bottle quickly by myself, but that also meant I could open MORE within a shorter amount of time. (Have I mentioned how much I love wine?) This baby is SLICK and very simple to use, which as you know by now means that if I can figure it out without an instruction manual, anyone can use it.
The Prestige Electric Wine Bottle Opener is cordless (so when you're doing charging it you can put the cord away while keeping the base and opener at an easy access spot in the kitchen) comes with a charging stand, cord, foil cutter, and an aerating spout. I did realize you technically don't need the foil cutter. The opener is strong enough to go right through the foil, and I haven't had any pieces of the foil break off while using it. (I'm also lazy and prefer as few steps as possible to get into my "happy juice".) I also thought the foil cutter was a little cheap. But, as an added bonus it's kind of nice to have on hand. I don't use the spout either, however there's nothing wrong with it as far as I can tell. I just don't find that necessary, and I'm not really a wine snob so I rarely worry about aerating.
- As seen in restuarants, the Ozeri Pro Electric Wine Opener makes opening wine bottles easy and entertaining.
- New improved 2nd generation battery opens up to 40 wine bottles on a single charge.
- Opens a bottle of wine in just seconds with push button ease.
- Ultra-light cordless design features an ergonomic rubberized soft grip that fits in the palm of your hand.
- Includes an elegant recharging base, compact foil cutter and a bonus pourer and stopper.
The Prestige Electric Wine Bottle Opener says it can do 40-80 bottles on a single charge. I've never had more than 6 bottles in my house at once so I can't tell you how true that is. If it is true, I think they'd have to be opened relatively quickly and consecutively, because I found that if I didn't charge my opener after 3-4 bottles spanned out over a week or so, the charge would die. That's not a huge issue for me since I'm not a restaurant, and I have a plug right where I keep my stand.
I love that it fits my hand easily so it's comfortable to hold onto while using. And there are only two buttons.... up and down. Just place the opener over your bottle of wine (hold the wine bottle tight or else it'll start spinning), and just push the down button until the cork is fully released from the bottle. To get the cork out of the opener, just press the up button until it falls out into your hand. Super simple. It doesn't leave any cork bits in the bottle, and gets you into it within a matter of seconds.
I absolutely LOVE this product and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a wine drinker. Easy to use, affordable (can be purchased on Amazon or Sears.), and really makes life a LOT easier when it comes to opening those darn bottles. This is one of the most used kitchen gadgets in my house, and has definitely already proven to be worth more than what it sells for.
* I was provided a product free of charge from Ozeri in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
When I moved in with my husband he had this Vicks warm mist humidifier thing that you put in Vicks oil and it would help clear your sinuses when sick. I LOVED that thing and always used it for my kids and myself. (I wasn't really a fan of smearing the Vicks rub all over our chests and under our noses, especially since the smell just lingered.) Anyway, I was really excited to have a chance to review a new Vicks Humidifier product. We decided not to bring the old one with us from Maine to DC just because it was old and grungy and we really didn't have a lot of extra room in the vehicles.
"The V3900 Vicks® Cool Mist GermFree Humidifier kills up to 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and mold in the water prior to producing a cool mist. In addition, you also can add in the soothing relief of Vicks vapors. In other words, if better breathing is your objective, you just might have found a cooler, GermFree answer." ~ Vicks
Vicks offered to send their Vicks V3900 Cool Mist Germ-Free Humidifier for review. For the most part I really like the product, but I do still have some mixed feelings. Overall I thought the design of the product was great. I loved the handle on the top, and that when I'm filling it, it lays flat on the counter so there isn't any spilling. It's a very easy contraption to figure out even if you didn't have instructions on hand. I love how large the water container is so it lasts a good 18-24 hours depending on your settings without having to refill it and refilling is a breeze and how large the vent on the front is. I appreciated the large filter, and that there is a little scent pack of Vicks Vapors included. As frivolous as it sounds, I also really loved the color.
There are a few issues I did have though. I REALLY wish the water container on the top somehow latched/snapped down into the base. I have two toddlers, also referred to as terrors, who immediately figured out how this thing worked. To be fair the manual does say not to place where children can get it... but if you have toddlers with curious fingers they WILL find a way to get to it. Off came the top making a lot of water spill onto the floor. (I'm not even sure how that was possible since there's a little stopper that releases water when set down into the base.) Out came the filter. At one point my daughter even figured out how to unscrew the stopper from the hole where you fill the container. Thankfully at that point it was empty. The Vicks V3900 Cool Mist Germ-Free Humidifier has a front vent. That's great if you have a place to put it on up off of the floor. The only issue with that is you're warned not to put it on wood furniture. I only HAVE wood furniture in the rooms where this would be used. So, it has been on my floor blowing the air down at ankle level. I'm not so sure how effective that makes the product in my home. The only other things I really didn't care for are the parts that are disposable and will need to be replaced such as the filter (ever 1-3 months) and the scent pad. But that little gripe, that's mostly because I'm lazy and forgetful.
For the size of the room, I thought the humidifier worked relatively well. I placed it in our living room that is VERY open. I think this particular model might work best though in a smaller more closed off room. I do love that the impurities from the water are filtered out before being released as a cool mist. I'm not really a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, but I still like to try to keep my living space as healthy as possible. The sound of the humidifier is relatively quiet too which is great. And because it has a sleep setting it makes keeping it in the bedroom a viable option. (I sleep with the windows open so it wasn't tested in my bedroom specifically, but I could see using this in my older step-daughter's room.) Like I said earlier, I still like this product. It might not be the best fit for my home with the kiddos and lack of suitable sitting places for it, but I found that it worked well, and was easy to use which is super important when purchasing a new product.
* I received a product free of charge from Vicks in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
For those of you that have been long-time readers of my site, and especially for those of you who remember the last review I did for Bissell, you should remember how much my children hate vacuums, and how much I too hate to vacuum. I really just hate to clean in general. However, now that we've moved into a new place that pretty much has wall to wall carpeting in EVERY single room, I'm going to have to keep up with the cleaning more than I'm used to.
Anyway, awhile ago (I know, I'm awful and kind of sat on this review for quite awhile) Bissell sent their Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper for me to review. I finally decided to charge it this afternoon and use it this evening. With all of the moving, including pieces of boxes breaking off, tape pieces finding their way into the carpet, setting up the Christmas tree and getting fake needles everywhere, and my old ornery cat not being able to figure out that the litter stays IN the litter box, it seemed like a great time to try it out. Plus, we left our actual vacuum cleaner in MAINE.
One of the reasons Bissell offered to send the Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper was because they knew I had cats from the previous review. Supposedly this bad boy is supposed to easily pick up things like cat litter, even off of a hard floor. I figured as much as I loved the Bissell Natural Sweep, I would certainly love a battery powered sweeper even more. (Guess what? I was right.)
"The Perfect Sweep Turbo® Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper provides a convenient and easy way to pick up daily dirt and unexpected dry messes in between routine vacuuming. Since the rotating brush is battery powered, it can quickly sweep up debris large and small with little effort on your part. With a slim design, the Perfect Sweep Turbo® is perfect for leaving sitting out or in a nearby closet for quick pick-ups throughout the week. Since the sweeper also has edge brushes and a 60 minute cleaning time, you can keep up with dirt build-up along baseboards and in corners too." ~ Bissell
I only charged the Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper for maybe 3 or 4 hours before using. (I got excited and trashed the instructions before even reading them.) I have a blogging friend who charged hers overnight. It seemed after 3 or 4 hours there was enough charge to do at least two rooms and then some. I went over my living room which is rather large, and the small bathroom that has linoleum flooring. I even touched up the kitchen a tad just to try it out on the laminate wood flooring.
Oh. My. Goodness. The Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper worked like a gem. I really couldn't have asked for anything better (other than an actual corded vacuum with major suction). But, for in between cleanings, this thing performed AMAZINGLY. I honestly hadn't realized how much stuff had ended up on my floors since we moved in Friday afternoon. There was dog hair, pieces of the Christmas tree, dirt, lint, and everything else under the sun in the catch-all compartment of the Perfect Sweep Turbo by the time I was done. And, other than not being able to get deep into corners, this puppy picked up ALL of the cat litter that was lying around on my bathroom floor.
I have to say that I LOVED how quiet this was. The kids didn't freak out. The dog didn't freak out. Even the cat didn't go running to hide under the bed. It wasn't silent, but it was definitely SO much quieter than a normal vacuum cleaner. And, it picked up just about all of the visible crud on the floor... and then some. After only going over the living room, and bathroom, I had FILLED the catch-all compartment. It's not a very big compartment, but the fact that it picked up THAT much stuff off of my floor I thought was really impressive. But, it also makes me want a real vacuum cleaner. However, for those in between cleanings, this is PERFECT. (It's also perfect until I can go out and purchase a new vacuum cleaner.)
I also really, REALLY loved how easy it was to assemble. (By now you should know that I live by the KISS motto. Keep It Simple Stupid.) Once again I didn't even need the instructions. There were a total of 4 pieces for the handle, all of which easily screwed into each other. Then just snap the handle into the base and you're ready to plug it in and start charging it. The handle lays almost flat so you can get under furniture pieces that sit a little higher up. Turning it on and off is a breeze too. Just push your foot on the very obvious black section of the base and it turns on. When you're done, just push your foot down on it again, and it's off. Easy peasy!
I haven't had to use it for 60 minutes at a time, but Bissell's website says that on a full charge, the Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper is able to maintain its cleaning power for up to a full hour. I certainly believe it. This is yet another product that I will replace once this one wears out. I LOVE it. I've already shared the link with my personal friends on Facebook. Definitely a great product to have on hand for simple, and quick floor cleanings.
*I received the Perfect Sweep Turbo Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper from Bissell free of charge in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
I'm not the household chef. I rarely cook, so having a great set of knives was really not on my priority list. I figured a knife is a knife and as long as it cuts through whatever I need it to, then everything is hunky-dory. However, the current set of knives I own have, for all intents and purposes, practically stopped functioning. It shouldn't be difficult to slice through some bread, or an apple, or even a steak for that matter. If those simple tasks were difficult, then it must really stink for my husband who does most of the cooking. Heck, even one of our favorite knives that we use nearly ever day has had the tip of the blade broken off. At least as far as I know, it never made it into any of our food. So, breath a sigh of relief because we're still alive with no internal bleeding going on.
Now, if you watch TV, I'm sure you've heard of Miracle Blade. The knives that never need to be sharpened and seem to slice, chop, and mince without any effort. Miracle Blade was awesome, and sent their 13-piece World Class Knives set with 4 additional steak knives, and their World Class Knife Block for me to try out. Woohoo - working knives in the kitchen once again! This is really quite an impressive set, and for only about $80+ shipping you can get the entire 13-piece set. In my opinion, that's a pretty decent price, especially when these knives are advertised with a retail value of $400. Plus, we all know a great knife set isn't usually easy on the wallet.
The 13-piece World Class Knives Set includes 2 slicers, 1 carving knife, 1 rock & chef, 1 chop and scoop, 1 filet knife, 1 cheese knife, 4 steak knives, 1 paring knife, and 1 pair of kitchen shears. I also loved that they included 4 additional steak knives to fill up the World Class Block. I haven't had an entire set of knives... ever. So, I honestly just stood back for a couple of minutes and admired a FULL knife block with MATCHING knives. It's a pretty darn good looking set if you ask me.
I was honestly a little skeptical. I heard of Miracle Blade on an infomercial, and I know first hand how some of those products can be kind of.... eh. We wanted to make sure to give these knives a good long test before writing this review. We've used the knives on EVERYTHING. Vegetables, fruit, bread, steak, pork, cakes, brownies, cheese, etc. The only things we haven't needed is the filet knife and the kitchen sheers. But, they're super sharp and seem like they would work very well for their intended purposes.
My favorite knives out of the set are the chop and scoop, the slicing knives, and the steak knives. I think these are truly the most versatile, which means these have been used the most. I really love the chop and scoop for smashing and dicing garlic, chopping onions, and even making my own bread crumbs. The slicing knives work great on tomatoes, and softer foods, and the steak knives slice through a pork loin like it's butter.
The knives are very comfortable to hold, and easy to use. And, even though we don't have a dish washer (I'm the dish washer), I've still found the knives to be very easy to clean. The food doesn't stick, so there is minimal elbow grease needed. I just use a soapy sponge, and give a quick wipe down and they're back to looking like new.
The only knife we were a little less than impressed with, was the cheese knife. We found that it didn't work all that well with softer cheeses. Maybe it's not supposed to? But, since we only really purchase block cheeses of Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Cheddar, etc. we haven't been back to use that knife since trying it out the first time.
The Miracle Blade World Class Knife Block is a really beautiful addition to my kitchen. It's sleek, and fits the knives just perfectly. The World Class Knife Block is handcrafted from exotic woods and designed exclusively for the World Class Knives so there is a specific spot for everything, including the kitchen sheers. Although the knife block doesn't come with the 13-piece Miracle Blade World Class Knife Set (you can purchse it separately), I'm really glad this was part of the review. It's great to have some place attractive to store an entire set if knives.
Make sure you visit Miracle Blade online and on Facebook. I think a set of these knives would make a fantastic gift this holiday season for any of those home chefs in your family.
Miracle Blade has also offered up a FULL set of World Class Knives, plus an additional 4 steak knives, and their World Class Knife Block for a giveaway! Total prize value is $140 ARV. Giveaway is open to legal residents of the continental USA who are 18+. Giveaway will start 11/18 and run for approximately 1 week. When the giveaway is live you can enter [HERE].
*I received the Miracle Blade World Class 13-piece knife set, additional 4 steak knives, and the World Class knife block free of charge in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
Unless you're a super awesome DIY-er or an extremely savvy thrift shopper, home improvement and decorating can get really expensive. Area Rugs, in my opinion, tend to be one of those items that falls into the "really expensive" category. And, while they're nice to have and can improve the aesthetics of just about any room, are also some of the more expensive decorations and tend to get overlooked. I happened to stumble across Rugs USA one day during one of my internet searches, and was immediately drawn in by their tagline; "Designer Living. Designed for Less." Hmm... "designer" is good, and "less" is even better! Then I noticed that they also offer free shipping on all United States orders, and guarantee their prices so that they will price match and BEAT anybody competitor's prices by 10%. Ding, ding ding - I think I found a winner!
Rugs USA sent a selection of rugs that they carry, and said I could choose one to review in my home. Something about the Surya Bob Mackie Moderne Brown Rug screamed (size 3' 3" x 5' 3"), "This is the one!" The design was just absolutely stunning, and since our house has a lot of brown in it, I figured it would fit right in. For whatever reason I've always been drawn to mandala type artwork. I fell in love with the design so quickly that I happened to pick out the rug before even reading the description. Much to my surprise and delight the Surya Bob Mackie Moderne Brown Rug is 100% New Zealand Wool.
"Legendary fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie has designed a collection that fits his unique style. The patterns, inspired by his costume and formalwear designs, reflect an elegant lifestyle. The hand tufted wool rugs are highlighted with art silk adding to the glamour of the collection." ~ Rugs USA
One of the things I loved about Rugs USA is that they have a vast selection of brands. Surya happens to be a brand I had never heard of before, because let's face it, I don't do a lot of rug shopping. When I found out that Surya originated in India I couldn't have been more thrilled. I've always wanted to visit some day (I actually had my visa, passport, and plane ticket and then last minute decided not to go), and the Surya Bob Mackie Moderne Brown Rug brought a little bit of my dream of traveling directly into my home.
- Collection: Bob Mackie Moderne
- Brand: Surya
- Material: 100% New Zealand Wool with Viscose Highlights
- Weave: Hand Tufted
- Styles: Contemporary Rugs
- Origin: India
- Available in the following sizes: 2' x 3', 3' 3" x 5' 3", 5' x 8', 8' x 11' and 2' 6" x 8'
Surprisingly, finding a place to display this gorgeous area rug was more difficult than I anticipated. My house, as I've said in many reviews, is less than beautiful. It's old, small, cramped, had hard wood floors, nasty linoleum, and with 5 people living in it is stuffed full of... stuff. Because the rug is smaller than something I'd normally purchase, there weren't too many places that I had available. Thankfully the rug was small enough, so moving it from room to room in order to find the perfect place wasn't too difficult.
The first place I put it was right in front of my dresser. We have a giant dresser, and even though a carpet isn't necessary, it was kind of nice having something to step on while digging through trying to find my clothes. It also kind of brought the room together just a little bit more. The second place was in the hallway leading to our staircase. The hallway is generally very drab, but I have an antique trunk that needed a decorative partner. The final place I tried it was under my antique desk and chair out in the living room, and that's where I decided to leave it. I don't have an actual office, so I've claimed a small little corner of the living room, among all of the toys and electronics, as just mine.
I absolutely adore this rug, and the quality is apparent the second you step foot on it. It's so soft, and your feet sink right into it. It's also a heavier rug. Even though it was smaller which made it easier to move around, it was still a good bit of work just from the weight of the underside and wool material. The only thing I was slightly disappointed with is that the entire design doesn't show up. I had figured that the design would be scaled down to fit on the entire rug, however when comparing the smaller 3' 3" x 5' 3" rug I received to the product image on the website, I realized much of the design I fell in love with was missing. I think this would be something I keep in mind when purchasing rugs in the future, or perhaps ask a customer service provider how the design is transferred from one size to another.
Otherwise, I'm thrilled with the product I received from Rugs USA. I could browse through their site all day. Not only do they have rugs which is a given considering their name, but also furniture, pillows, lighting, bedding, clocks, mirrors, and art. Talk about one stop shopping. If I had an unlimited budget I would make a considerable bet that this is the first place I would go to find items for my home.
*I was provided a product free from Rugs USA in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
Once upon a time, there was a house that was always clean, and everything in its place. It sparkled and shined from top to bottom, inside and out, and everyone was amazed and wanted to know the secret to keeping the house so clean. Just kidding. That never happened. In fact, I would probably be fired on the first day of house cleaner training. I honestly think I may be allergic to it. Not the chemicals or any cleaning solutions, but the idea of cleaning makes me want to crawl back into bed and stay there.... forever.
But, cleaning must get done, right? So, let's back up just a bit so I can get to my review. I have the worst floors. Most are raggedy old linoleum, some are tile, others are hard wood, and we have a few area rugs. Do you know how much of a pain in the... uh... neck it is to keep those floors clean? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it was just me living in my home. But, nooo, there are dogs, cats, kids, the husband, and the occasional chicken and goat that stop by for a visit. (Not kidding.) I just cannot keep up with the floors. Using a mop is absolutely disgusting. The water becomes so nasty, and really all you're doing is just pushing dirty water around an already dirty floor. Then those Swiffer things. Talk about a waste. One pad would only clean maybe one section of my floors, and I'd still have to go over them several times. So... and this is super embarrassing.... I don't think my floors have actually been CLEANED (other than swept or vacuumed) in about a year.
HAAN has been very generous, and offered me the choice of one of their steam mops. I decided to go with the HAAN Agile SI40 Sanitizing Steam Mop.
The HAAN Agile kills 99.9% of household germs, bacteria and dust mites without chemicals.
- Swiveling low profile head
- Removable Water Tank
- Machine Powered Steam Pump
- Ergonomic Handle
- Storage Hook
- Power Cord Management System
- Steam Head with 15 Steam Jets
I figured that the HAAN SI40 Agile Steam Mop looked easy enough to put together and didn't appear to have too many parts when looking at the product description. Again, I like things SIMPLE. Plus, the more parts there are with something, the more parts I'll lose. The HAAN Agile SI40 Steam Mop came with 2 Reusable Ultra-Microfiber Cleaning Pads, Floor Protector/Resting Pad, Carpet Glide Attachment, Lime and Scale Remover, Users Manual and a Warranty Card. See? Easy enough.
I gave the manual a quick once over just to make sure everything appeared as simple as it looked, and quickly snapped it together. There are really only four parts to the steam mop, other than the attachments. The base, the center pole, the handle, and the bottle that holds the water. It was time to test this baby out. I decided to try out the carpet attachment. The HAAN Agile SI40 Steam Mop sanitizes and refreshes carpets. It doesn't clean them. But, my living room carpet was a little bit smelly since my cat decided to pee on it, and my dogs lay on it if they're locked out of my bedroom. The steam mop literally was ready to go in about 60 seconds. It made a few clunking noises, but the paperwork said that's normal for first time use. The only thing I kind of wish, was that the water bottle was a little bit bigger. After thoroughly steaming the area rug, I only had about half of a bottle left - definitely not enough to do all of the floors in my downstairs. The carpet attachment glided effortlessly across my rug. I don't know why I found that surprising, but for some reason I expected it to catch a little bit.
Changing out the attachments was pretty easy too. You're not supposed to mess with them while there is still steam coming out, or wile it's hot, so I gave it about 10 minutes, and then put on one of the Reusable Ultra-Microfiber Cleaning Pads (it velcros) and decided to give my kitchen a go. This room needed it the most. We had food stains (red juice drink, coffee, etc.) and layers dirt masking the true color of the floors. I couldn't believe how much grunge and grime the steam mop actually picked up. It was rather effortless. There were some areas that needed a little extra pressure added to the steam mop, so I used my foot to push down on the base a bit and that seemed to do the trick. The extremely dirty parts needed additional time spent with the steamer, but overall it went SO much faster than a regular mop or one of the Swiffer things. Seriously - look how much grossness this picked up! Honestly I haven't used any other steam mops for laminate floors, but I think this one did a pretty bang up job.
I truly loved how simple this piece of equipment is. I appreciated how quickly it was to put together, how light weight it is, and how quickly it was ready to use. Even what seemed to be an extra long cord was a great feature, and it can be wrapped up around the hooks on the back, just like you would a normal vacuum cleaner. The Reusable Ultra-Microfiber Cleaning Pads are washable. Although using a washing machine is said to reduce their usability more quickly, it's great that I can just toss them into the washer instead of having to throw them out after each time I decide my floors need a cleaning.
HAAN has generously offered all of my readers a code worth $15 OFF the HAAN Agile SI40 Steam Mop! Use code OCTDPR at checkout on the HAAN website. Coupon is valid from Sunday, Sept 30th at 12:01am to Sunday, Oct 14th at 12:01am.
*I was provided a product free of charge from HAAN in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.