Mommy Review Monday: Dyson v8 Animal Vacuum Stick

This vacuum really sucks!

Ok, ok….I’ll cut out the cheesiness for now.

But really, this vacuum has been worth every penny.  It’s so great we named it:  Mike Dyson.  I know, I know….I said that I’d cut out the cheese.  I couldn’t resist though.

Is there anything sexier than a man doing household chores?!? Ladies, my husband is the best…and not just because he vacuums the floor…although that does help!

Here’s what we both like about it:

  • It’s rechargeable.  It’s got a little bracket that you hang on the wall, clip it in, and it’s charging.
  • It picks up almost everything.  When I say almost anything- stuff smaller than penny size for the most part.
  • The brush bar easily rotates around, making it easy to get under our kitchen cabinets, corners, and around the kitchen table (where we need it most).
  • It’s got a canister vs. a bag and is very easy to dump out with what they call the “hygienic dirt ejector.”
  • The filter is washable.
  • It’s very light, so much so that the kids can easily use it all over the house.  No more excuses.  Actually, it’s one chore that they don’t mind.
  • It cleans both hard floors and vacuums.  Our living room rug is a shag.  Just imagine how much it collects with 4 kids constantly playing on it- not to mention movie nights, eating dinner on it.
  • It’s got multiple configurations- from vacuuming the floor, to the furniture, to hard-to-reach ceiling corners) thanks to the different attachments.
  • It has regular and higher power suction (we only use the max power for the shag rug).  In the max power mode it runs up to 7 minutes but up to 40 minutes in the regular suction mode.  Vacuuming more than 40 minutes honestly sounds horrible to me so it’s not an issue for me.

Here’s Mike in his handy dandy charger. We put him conveniently on the wall in the laundry room, which is right next to the kitchen, where he gets the most use.

Here’s what I think could be improved:

…..

Soooooo, I couldn’t come up with anything so I asked Garen.  He also doesn’t have anything bad to say about it either.

Now that I think about it, it is quite an investment at roughly $400.  We bought ours at Bed, Bath, and Beyond after Christmas and used a 20% off card and a few gift cards so it was actually only about $225 for us after that.  And Mike Dyson been worth every penny for the convenience he provides us.

If you’re looking for a vacuum that is lightweight, convenient to use, and works really well, this is it.  I’ve not used the many other models but I’m sure they’re all pretty good as well.  Here’s the link to Dyson, where they have all of the models of the sticks (they just came out with a v10, which runs up to 60 minutes in case you MUST vacuum an extra 20 minutes).

Happy Mommy Review Monday everyone!

Disclaimer: I didn’t get paid for this and I haven’t had anyone from Dyson asking me to write a glowing review in exchange for a free vacuum but I’d probably be willing to take them up on that offer if their others work as well. Hint, hint, Dyson folks!

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Blueberry Crumble Pie with Shortbread Crust

I love blueberries….any way you fix them.

Growing up, my Grammy made a lot of blueberry muffins, blueberry cobblers, and, occasionally, a blueberry pie. For quite a few summers in a row, one of my Uncle Mo’s good friends provided a steady supply of fresh blueberries.  Grammy always froze them and we had (almost) fresh blueberry baked goods all year round.  I can still easily bring to mind the smell of freshly baked blueberry goodies, no matter how they were baked.

I like to take advantage of getting them fresh, while they’re in season during the summer.  Garen brought home a few boxes of blueberries from our new Kroger (which I’m currently loving) on Friday.  I had initially bought them to make muffins but didn’t get to it Saturday morning so I decided to bake a pie for us instead.

As a side note, I use a lot of frozen blueberries throughout the year for baked goods and they work well too but fresh blueberries are easier than thawing out frozen ones.  I’m letting my lazy-mama features shine brightly, right?!?

This Blueberry Crumble Pie with Shortbread Crust is an modified version of a recipe from Williams-Sonoma and you can find that recipe here.  Below is my adapted version, which includes a fantastic shortbread crust.  I honestly can’t remember exactly where the crust comes from- I think a combination of Pinterest and blog posts, plus a little bit of trial and error.  Wherever it came from, it’s the one I like to use- I’m too much of a perfectionist to even attempt making a regular homemade pie crust since they always turn out looking terrible for me and it drives me bananas! If you don’t like thick crusts, this one is not for you.

This pie crust is perfectly sized for my favorite pie dish. (I’ll have to share the recipe on another post- again, lazy-mom) One of these days I’m going to splurge and get the red pie dish. I started with the white version since I’m such a matchy-matchy person and white is easier to match with other dishes if you’re taking a pie somewhere.  I digress….

Here’s my version of a Blueberry Crumble Pie with Shortbread Crust with a few pictures:

Ingredients

  • Shortbread Crust
  • 1-1/2 C plus 4 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
  • 1 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cplus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 16 tbsp (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5 cups blueberries

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Make the shortbread crust and transfer to a 9-inch or 10-inch deep pie dish. Press into the pan.  If you have another recipe for a pie crust or a store-bought one, you can use it if its big enough as well.
  • In a large bowl, mix the 1-1/2 cup flour, 2/3 cup of the brown sugar, the 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tsp. of the cinnamon. Put the butter pieces on top and toss with a fork or your fingers to coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips (or, if you’re fancy, a pastry blender), work the ingredients together until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Set the topping aside.
  • In another large bowl, combine the 5 cups of blueberries, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 Tbsp of the flour. Gently stir to evenly coat the blueberries.
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp granulated sugar over the bottom of the shortbread crust. Pour the filling onto the crust, spreading it evenly.
  • Sprinkle the topping evenly over the blueberry filling.  (You may have extra left, depending on whether you use a 9-inch or 10-inch pie dish.  This makes great topping for muffins as well and can be refrigerated for a few days.)
  • Bake the pie until the crust and topping is golden brown and the blueberry filling just begins to bubble, 45 to 55 minutes.
  • Serve at room temperature, warm, or cold. Garen and I both like it cold better.
  • It goes perfectly with ice cream, whipped cream, or cool whip.

Speaking of cool whip…

To add a little more sweetness to our night and go along with the pie theme, we played the Pie Face Showdown. I had forgotten how much fun this is for the kids.

The mess was worth the fun….plus, we did this right before bathtub. Easy as pie! (Pun intended).

I hope everyone’s Saturday (and Sunday) were as sweet as ours!

Disclaimer- I’m not being compensated for any of this content and I’ve not been given these products that I’ve linked too.

Photo Friday: Liz VS. Granite Counter-top

Liz VS Granite Counter-top. Spoiler alert: the counter-top won.

I know that technically it’s Saturday but the internet gods were mad at me and wouldn’t upload it last night.  It is what it is.

Two days before we left for our family vacation, I was delivering some tools to of my best and biggest customer’s offices. I caught my foot on the threshold as I walked in.  I flew forward, boxes and all. As I did I thought to myself in what seemed like slow motion, “Ooooooh Nooooo! I’m fallllllling!” And as I barreled forward my next thought was, “I’mmmmmm goooooooooing to hiiiiiiiiit the countertop.”

The next thing I knew I was bouncing off of the corner of the countertop, the boxes of tools flying through the air, as I dropped to the ground.

Then almost everyone in the office was looking down at me on the floor and asking if so was ok. I quick felt my head to make sure I wasn’t gushing blood. It wasn’t bleeding, but I felt this nice egg sized knot.They quickly got me some ice and trucked me off to see a doctor. I was fortunate and it wasn’t fractured and I may have had a slight concussion but nothing too severe.

What was damaged the most was my pride. A LOT.

Following my pride, the next most injured part was my vanity.

Remember in the first paragraph when I said that we were going on vacation. It was a cruise vacation…complete with tons of pictures and the opportunity for me to get dressed up every night for dinner.

The doctor told me that I would have a bad black eye. By the next day, this is what it looked like. Lovely….But still not too bad yet. But I was worried about it so I went to Ulta to get help from the experts. They helped me find some concealer and heavy coverage makeup. The trip resulted in this:They did a decent job covering it up but the worst was yet to come.

I woke up the next day and looked like this. It was Schlitterbahn day so I didn’t even bother with makeup.

By day 3, post accident, I looked like this.Just in time for Day 1 of the cruise!

I tried finding some sunglasses before we boarded the cruise that would hide it and still be light enough to rock glasses inside….none of which looked great and I’m pretty sure the Target people thought I was in an abusive relationship….

I ended up with these, which I unfortunately lost on a gigantic floating slide in Cozumel. They worked while they lasted.  img_3537Better losing them than my red wayfarers that I wear 95% of the time.

This is what I looked like after I lost the glasses in the beautiful ocean!  You’ll notice that the reef-safe sunscreen didn’t rub in all that well, which is a whole other review….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, and don’t I look beautiful for formal night (Day 2 of the cruise)???  Sorry for the bad quality of the picture.  You’d think as many photos as we take, we could’ve had someone take a decent picture of us on formal night…. 01f75b00d0b47579a3c41b63c10a583ac9a1cb23caBy Day 4, I was looking even better (and getting better with my makeup too)….plus, I learned to make a towel animal. Can you tell what it is???

By now my eye is almost back to normal after two weeks. Now I just look like I’ve done a terrible job with my makeup smeared under my eye or like I’ve not gotten any sleep.

I learned a few things from this:

  • Don’t carry too much stuff when going up steps and you can’t see your feet.  I have a background in safety.  You’d think that I’d practice what I preach.  The good this it wasn’t “a recordable” injury.
  • If you’re going to have a fall, don’t do it in a customer’s office.
  • When you see someone with a black eye, chances are they weren’t in a bar fight or being abused. It’s easier to ask what happened than to stare.
  • If you do stare at them, try to control your shock or surprise. Seriously people!
  • If you hurt something above your eye you’re going to get a black eye and maybe even a red eye too if you’re lucky like me.
  • I have a German hard-head. My husband has known this for a long time, as have my parents. But for the first time, it came in handy since I didn’t have a fracture.

There you have it. The story of Liz VS. granite. I lost…but at least everyone got a good laugh out of it

Happy Photo Friday!

Sprinkler Saturday

What do you do when it’s hot outside and you need to keep the troops entertained???

Go outside and play in the sprinkler!!!

And Garen got out his fancy lenses to capture a few quick photos. I think they turned out pretty cool, don’t you?!?

My Dad turns 60

Growing up, and even in the recent past, my mom has told me, “You are just like your Dad….”

Man, what a compliment.

My Dad is one of my heroes.  It’s no secret that I adore him.  I’m proud of his accomplishments throughout his career, but I’m even more proud of the man he is personally.  Here’s a few things that I love about him:

He takes things as they come.  He has more patience than any person I have ever met….even Garen and that’s saying a lot.  He’s generous and truly believes in doing what’s right, even if it’s not the popular thing to do.  He’s got faith in what he believes in, even when others around him may doubt.  He loves my mom, his soulmate, with all his heart.  He taught me to get up early and to become a lover of all things breakfast-related.  He treats everyone with respect….and I truly mean everyone.  He can and will talk to anyone.  He is so very smart but also has common sense, which doesn’t always come packaged.  He loves a great debate.  He is passionate about whatever he sets his mind to.  He is a perfectionist and he goes further than measuring twice to cut once.  He can rock a sweater or turtleneck like nobody else I know.  He always wants to find better, more efficient ways to do things.  When he gets on a kick- whether it’s making bread, buying classic wool shirts on Ebay, or designing a custom anchoring system- he focuses in and perfects each process.  He admits when he’s wrong, quickly apologizes, and, on the flip side, also forgives quickly.  I believe him when he says he can fix anything but a broken heart.  And he can build just about anything too.  He believes in good shoes.  He’s an Eagle Scout.  He loves to read, listen to books, go to classes, and is a true life-long learner.  He is not afraid of change.  He’s hilarious and can find a way to make almost anyone laugh….or at least shake their head and grin.  He is an excellent friend to many.  And he truly is an amazing father and now also a wonderful YaYa to five grandkids and four grand-fur-babies, plus a grand-cat.

I could go on and on.  Really.

I’m sure, if you know him, you’d be able to add a few things too.

If you’re reading this, Happy 60th Birthday, Dad.  I hope you know how much I love you and how proud I am to be your daughter, employee, & friend.  I’m so glad for my kids to get to call you YaYa.  

To everyone else– enjoy the photos.  There’s nothing like looking at old photos to provide a bit of entertainment.  Genes run strong in our family, both on the Odom (Dad) and Bottlinger (Mom) sides, right?!?  Most of these photos were from the slideshow that Joe put together for Dad’s 50th surprise party that we pulled off, plus a few since then.  Yes, Mom, that means that I have found the video.  Hallelujah!

The above photo is from Mom and Dad’s 60th Birthday trip.  They climbed Machu Picchu.  Yes, I know they’re awesome!

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Thanks also to Joe for putting the man hours into getting these photos together.

Mommy Review Monday: Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

I love my Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan. I bought my first one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club. In the last year or two it hasn’t been sitting evenly on my stove-top. I believe, between Garen and I, one of us probably washed it before it was completely cool, causing it to warp. Easy mistake and it wasn’t a huge deal but I planned to replace it and just kept forgetting every time I went to Sam’s.

Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

My birthday came along and Garen gave me a new one. Yea! I kept the old one in case I need a second one to cook two things at once. We even named the new one.

Peter. Peter Pan.

Garen gets the credit for that little piece of humor.

Likes:

  • Price. At $26.98, if it only lasts a couple of years that’s still awesome.
  • Non-stick. It is super easy to clean. That’s a must in our house.
  • Dishwasher safe. It barely fits into the bottom rack but it does. Most times we just wash it by hand though because it’s so easy to clean. It’s always nice to have the option to be a little on the lazy side though.
  • Size. At 14″, it’s big enough to cook a nice one-pot dish or about 3-4 pancakes at a time. That’s important when you’ve got lots of mouths to feed.
  • Cooks well. I should start by saying that I’m not a chef. However, for the dishes I make it seems to cook pretty well. Especially for the price.  If you’re a chef, this may not be the quality you want but it works great for me, as an amateur on a budget.
  • Long life. Despite us warping it, it has held up well. I am pretty good about not using metal utensils with it so that does help. I would imagine it’ll last another 10+ years if we take care of it.

What I would change:

  • An Additional Handle.  I’d add another handle. It’s pretty heavy to handle if you need to move it when it’s fully loaded.  Imagine draining meat.  I can do it with one hand but it’s a job.  Thankfully I’m always lugging around one (or more) toddlers and have forearms of steel!
  • Ovenproof. I wish it could be put in the oven. It is what it is. You can’t have you’re non-stick skillet and bake it too….or at least not in this price point.
  • Add a Lid. I wish it had a lid. Again, I could probably pay more and purchase one that came with a lid or potentially find one that would fit right. When I need one now, using foil works pretty well for a poor man’s lid.

Member_s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

This may be one of my next kitchen purchases: Tramontina 3-Piece Deep Sauté Pan Set (Assorted Colors).  It seems to do everything that I listed as “likes” above and then all of the things I wish it also had.  Plus, it comes in red, which is awesome!!!

In the meantime, I still love my big commercial kitchen frying pan and my sweet hubby for giving me Peter Pan!  What’s your favorite stove-top pan?  I’d love for you to share!

You gonna eat yo cornbread??? Best. Cornbread. Ever.

Every time I cook cornbread, Garen and I have a little giggle over the quote “You gonna eat yo cornbead?” from the movie “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

Yes, I am ALWAYS going to eat my cornbread.  Every. Time.

Especially if it’s the sweet kind.  I found this wonderfully tasty and easy recipe a while back from Kimber’s blog, The Pinning Mamma, which is fantastic and definetly worth checking out.  The recipe is suitably called Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread.  If you like a sweeter, more moist cornbread, you will LOVE this recipe.  Did I mention it pretty inexpensive too???  The Jiffy boxes are always cheap.  Plus, who can resist using those cute, classic boxes?!?

I’m one of those people that will often times alter a recipe to make it my own.  This one, though, I didn’t because I feel like it’s perfect just the way it is. I did choose to make muffins vs using a pan/dish.  This saved me a few minutes AND it’s easier for serving I think.  Here you go:

Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Can Creamed Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients until combined (I always use my KitchenAid because that’s just what I prefer)
  • Scrape mixture into an 8 x 8 or 2.2qt- 2L (small rectangular Pyrex) glass baking dish that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  I used my muffin pan.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until center is just done.  In my muffin pan, I baked them to 18 minutes but I would say probably 13-20 minutes would be the window, depending on your type of muffin pan.  Mine is a thick non-stick.

There you have it:  Cornbread that will make any dish just a little bit better.  Enjoy!

We ate ours this week with Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style and Instant Pot Black Beans.  They didn’t last long.  Yummy!