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.

Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthy on the Road

I’m on the road a lot for work. Eating healthy on the road is hard. Extra hard when you love food and you use food as a way to keep you entertained and/or you have a 3-4 hour drive.

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately to make it work:

  • Pack my lunch and snacks when I can. Keeping easy-to-grab stuff is good. Examples are:
  • Yogurt
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, and clementines that are prepackaged and easy to take with you
  • Light popcorn
  • Bags or containers of easy to munch on veggies.  My favorites are carrots and sweet snap peas.
  • Boiled eggs.  See my post on cooking these in an instant pot.
  • Healthy muffins
  • Nuts.  I actually don’t do this because I don’t feel like the “juice is worth the squeeze” calories-wise but these are super healthy for you in moderation.
  • Pre-made salads or bistro boxes.  I’ve not done this yet but I know a lot of people that do.
  • I’m still scoping out the best places to eat out but my favorite go-to is Panera Bread.  There are so many healthy options there and I always get a fruit cup as my side.
  • When I eat at a place with customers, there are typically not all that many great options- even the salads are horrendously high in calories and fat.  I stick mostly to the vegetables- as long as they aren’t a casserole or in a sauce.  If I can’t find anything, I’ll go with a baked potato (sweet potato if they have it) with sour cream on the side and a side salad with extra tomatoes, no cheese, and dressing on the side.  It’s hard.  I’m not going to lie.
  • When they sit those chips and salsa down in front of me or that delicious smelling loaf of bread, its soooo tempting.  I try to think about my end goal and resist.  I drink a sip of water every time I want a bite of it.
  • If I have a customer that says they don’t want to choose or I know they like sushi or seafood, I’ll often times suggest this because it’s an easy one for me.
  • If I’m spending the night out of town, I try to stay in a place that has a mini fridge and microwave.  I can either pack something in my cooler to bring along or I’ll sometimes make a run to the grocery store for a frozen dinner and some fruit or yogurt for a sweet ending.
  • I pack a couple of drink mixes (either Crystal Light or Kroger’s brand) with me to satisfy my sweet cravings and help my water intake.  Win-win.
  • Sometimes when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time for getting a healthy meal but know I need to have something decent, I’ll run into a convenience store and grab a banana and a Muscle Milk protein shake.  Most stores now have bananas (and if I’m lucky a few other options too).

What are you’re beat healthy eating tips for the road? I could use the recommendations!!!

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

Snacking Healthy: Salted Chocolate Coconut DeLight

My adventure on Noom and my new healthy lifestyle continues. (if I was saying this out loud I would’ve used air quotes around healthy lifestyle) And as I continue to Noom right along, I’m learning how to better use my very limited calories to the ensure I’m satisfied from not only a hunger standpoint but also a craving side as well.

You see, I have a sweet tooth. Actually, I’m pretty sure all but about five of my teeth may be sweet teeth- two for breads and carbs, one for burgers, one for seafood, and one for prime rib. You get the picture though. I need my sweets.

And I don’t mean fresh fruit….although I do enjoy that.

Because of my sweet teeth, I’m always looking for a good way to satisfy them. And I found one that I’m currently obsessed with. I actually plan the rest of my day’s meals around this sweet snack.

Yes, I really think it’s that good. And I’m going to share it with you because, unlike the two toddlers running around my house, I like to share things. So here it goes.

I call it Salted Chocolate Coconut DeLight and it’s only two ingredients:

  1. Dannon Light and Fit Greek Yogurt- Toasted Coconut Vanilla (only 80 calories)
  2. Endangered Species Chocolate Bark- Salted Hazelnut (about half a serving or two larger size pieces) crumbled

That’s it. You probably thought as much as I praised this sweet treat that it would be something complicated. Instead it only takes a few minutes to put together. And even less to clean up. That’s a winner in my books.

Plus, I buy these Greek yogurt cups at Sam’s in a box with Lemon Merengue and Strawberry Cheesecake, which are also pretty fantastic. The bark came from Walmart and wasn’t cheap but was worth it.

Enjoy and happy snacking!

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!

Hippity Hop-pity, Easter’s on It’s Way: Easter Bunny Garden with Peeps

My Mom always sang us the “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” song around this time. And, between her and Grammy, we were sure to have plenty of candy, including Peeps! I honestly don’t think you can have Easter without these sugary, marshmallowy, packages of cuteness.

Yesterday, I needed to make a run for some labels at Dollar Tree and, as I expected, the Easter section sucked me in. Have I ever told you that I’m in love with the Dollar Tree? So many wonderful things only priced at a dollar. I got some extra-fun goodies for Easter baskets so it was a successful trip, especially since I managed to get the labels, which is what I made the trip for.

I also bought some peeps and some gummy carrots. I have been waiting on an opportune time to make “dirt cups” with pudding and some crushed up brownies I had leftover in the freezer for a while. The moment I saw the peeps next to the carrots, I knew it was the perfect time to put these gardens together for the kiddos.

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsAnna was super excited and helpful with our fun little project. Thank goodness it was an easy one…. although we did have quite a bit of “dirt” on the floor.

We made the chocolate pudding together and processed the brownies. Anna got to scoop the “dirt” (processed brownies crumbs) into the bottom and top of the dishes. Then she got to top the garden off with a gummy carrot and a Peep.  You can use processed Oreos too but I needed to use the brownies and they were tastier than the Oreos I’ve used for this in the past.

Anna’s last job was to lick the bowl. I wish I’d taken a picture of her chocolate-covered face because it was adorable and disgusting at the same time!

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsEveryone except Kate dug into their cup o’ dirt (She oddly enough doesn’t really like sweets much. It’s mind boggling that she’s mine!). Kate actually spit it out and said “Yuck, dirt!”

Even Garen enjoyed them. Ok, maybe not the Peep or the gummy carrot but he quickly ate the rest of it. The smiles and laughs made it all worth the time…and honestly, this was a pretty easy dessert/craft project. That’s the best of both worlds!

Enjoy!!!

This post is all my own opinions.  I’m not getting a kick-back from Peeps or Dollar Tree.  I just happen to be a satisfied customer.