I love a vacuum – Dyson DC41 Animal

If you haven’t figured out by my blog title I am an Engineer (Electrical) by degree and sometimes I can act like a nerd (did I really just admit that?).

Pepper (the now one year old Golden Retriever) decided in late April/May to lose most of her winter coat (and I mean tons of hair) in a few weeks. Considering she is only allowed in our great room / kitchen you would think our old vacuum cleaner would be able to handle it.

dyson, review

Well, it didn’t – we could still see fur on the carpet after vacuuming and it was starting to overheat every time I went to use it.

At that time Target, Kohl’s, etc were running big sales (think Mother’s Day presents) on the Dyson vacuum cleaners.  I have always thought that the Dyson Vacuum was a pretty neat design (engineer coming out in me), but I had never considered buying one due to the cost.  But, when I found out that they were highly rated for pet hair, on super sale, etc I seriously started looking at them.

I had to order the unit online and when the Dyson DC41 Animal showed up it was pretty easy to put together and start using.

I go so MUCH dirt, sand, dog hair out the first time I used it I had to get out the scale and weigh it (yes, I weighed it) – 12+ ounces of ‘stuff’ came out of my carpet!  (I told you I have some nerd tendencies in me.)

dyson, fur, dirt, sand, review

Dirt, fur and sand that the Dyson DC41 picked up the first time

I am happy to report that the amount of dirt, sand, pet hair definitely went down after the first few uses, but I usually have to empty the canister twice between vacuuming the whole house.

The model we bought also came with different attachments which I have used a few times: for cleaning couches, etc.

One feature that I didn’t realize it had has come in handy – I am able to turn off the bristles and ‘suck’ the dirt off the tile and throw rugs.

The unit also has washable filters and I just washed them out for the first time.  Besides doing that I also used the air compressor and blew out the vacuum (canister, hose, {any part that looked like it could hold dust},  etc).  I was shocked at how much dust came out (I was even filthy afterwards).

Note: I also wipe down the outside of the unit with a damp cloth after vacuuming the house since there is usually some fur ‘stuck’ (due to static cling I think) to the unit.

Since my last vacuum lasted about 10 years (I wasn’t even able to get a new HEPA filter for it anymore) I decided even though this one cost more it was worth it (especially when I saw how much dirt, sand and pet hair the old vacuum wasn’t getting out of our carpet).  I am hoping that by removing some of the dirt, etc from the carpet my allergies will not affect me as much either.

What is the latest appliance you bought that you ‘love’?

Note: I got nothing, but a cleaner house for this review  🙂

Later – H

Thumbprint Wedding guest sign

One of the presents we did for Chris and Naomi’s wedding was a Thumbprint sign.  I had seen similar ideas on Pinterest (yes, one of my favorite places on the internet), but the niece asked for a custom ‘Up House’ (with thumbprint ‘balloons’ lifting off the house).  So, the daughter helped create the Up House board.

At the wedding we used permanent Ink and tried to suggest that people put their thumbprints in the general area that the balloons would be.  Well, as you can see from the end result that didn’t always happen (I know most of the stray balloons happened after we were manning the guest signature / thumbprint table).

After the wedding we brought the sign back home and the daughter used my scrapbooking chalk to make the faint extra balloons.  When it was all done I think it turned out great.  Now the happy couple have an art piece to remind them of their special day.

wedding, thumbprint, custom

Some hints if you decide to do one of these:

a) Make sure you use permanent ink (for the thumbprints and for the drawing)

b) Have baby wipes handy to get the ink off the guest’s hands (that was an after thought, but I am so glad I brought them)

c) Use blank paper, etc to block off the areas of the board you don’t want people to mark with their thumbs

What do you think?

Later – H

Projects to complete this summer

Hope everyone is having a good summer.  We had some record  breaking hot days, but recently it has been nice (before it get record breaking hot again).  I recently read the post ‘Ten Things This Summer’ on the ‘A Passion for Applique’ blog:   http://apassionforapplique.blogspot.com/  and that got me thinking.  She listed the ten things (sewing projects) she wants to finish this summer.

I recently spent two days straightening, throwing out items, etc in the back room (where company stays and where my projects are stored).  It looks a lot better, but I am realizing I have a pile of unfinished projects  I want (and need) to work on.

So, other than the Challenge Wall hanging Quilt that I need to start (for the local Quilt Guild contest) I think I need to work on my unfinished project pile.   Here are the first few of the projects I want to finish this summer:

1) This hooked rug is almost done, but I needed to find a darning needle so I could finish the outside binding.  Well, in the ‘big clean’ I found a darning needle.

hook rug, DIY

I am happy to report this is now DONE and being used in front of my bathroom sink area.  (Boy that felt good.)

2) I need to finish the quilt for the couch for when Pepper (Golden Retriever) is allowed to get up on it.  I have decided I would rather stop fighting her from getting up with the family and just have a quilt I throw on before (so I don’t have to deal with her dog hairs on the couch).  I need to cut the front and back to the same size and sew them together.  I am thinking of trying some Machine Quilting at least around the outside portion of the quilt.  (Leah Day has some YouTube videos that show Machine Quilting on a regular sewing machine so I want to give it a try anyways.)

Pepper, quilt

I got the back and front sewn together (straight lines for now, maybe I will add some Machine quilting also), but I still need to trim and add a binding.   At least the way it is now it can be put on the couch when Pepper wants to jump up.  Pepper ‘photo bombed’ the photo 🙂

3) Turn up a few pairs of Jeans.  I have a few pairs that need to be turned up, but haven’t got there yet.  I found a way to turn them up and keep the original hem.  I printed out the instructions since I shared it with my 4-H Teen Sewers this last year.  I will find the original post and link to it after I get a pair turned up.

4) Scrapbook – this is a never ending project and there is no way I will ‘finish’ it this summer, BUT I do want to put in the first year photos of Pepper (the Golden Retriever) into a Project Life album.  I usually do Creative Memories albums (with embellishments, etc), but I wanted to try the Project Life concept out with Pepper’s photos.  I have the supplies, but have barely started it.

5) Potholder with Scallops – In the Spring I took a class on how to do a Scallop edged potholder.  It took all three hours to learn how to make the scalloped edge and I never got back to finishing the potholder.

6) Pocket for hanging small quilts – I made some wall hanging (quilts) years ago, but didn’t know about making rod pockets for the back.  So, I took down the quilts, washed them and have made rod pockets so I can hang them back up.  Now to get them sewn onto the back and get the quilts back up on the wall.

7) Remember the post about the Dresden Plate class I took in the Spring?  Well, I never got back to finishing the first plate.  I have decided to finish at least the first plate and turn it into a wall hanging.

8) ‘Coffee’ cup wrap.  I don’t drink coffee, but I do occasionally buy a Tea or Hot Chocolate from Starbucks.  Instead of getting the cardboard wrappers I decided to make a material one that I can leave in the car.  It shouldn’t take long to finish the one I started.

I think this is enough of a To Do List for now.  It will feel great to get these done and off my mental radar.

Photos of completed items will be posted as I get them finished.

What is on your mental To Do List that wouldn’t take long to finish (once you started)?

Later – H

Dirty / Clean sign on Dishwasher

So, quite a few years ago I made this Plastic Canvas / Cross-stitched Dirty / Clean sign for our Dishwasher.  I had a hook on the dishwasher that it hung off for years.  Well, fast forward a few years and we got a new Black Dishwasher.  I bought a package of small Clear Command Hooks.  I love the hooks, but the ‘hook’ portion is not as big as the old white hook (which was still attached to the dishwasher when it was removed) and the sign fell off when the dishwasher door was opened (which was getting really annoying).

cross-stitch, cross stitch, DIY

I finally realized that one way to solve the problem was to add a magnet to the back of the sign.  I went to Michael’s and found the package of Business Card size magnets (and of course used a 40% off coupon).

I first just peeled off the backing of the magnet and pressed it onto the sign.  That lasted for about a week before the magnet stayed on the dishwasher door and the sign was on the floor 😦

DIY, cross-stitch, cross stitch

Then I realized that I could use the Hot Glue Gun  to glue the magnet to the back of the sign.  Amy – did you catch that I actually used a ‘blogger’s tool’?

So, I think that solved the problem.  The sign has probably stayed on the dishwasher door for at least two months.  Hopefully it doesn’t fall off again.

cross-stitch, cross stitch, DIY, magnet

This was definitely cheaper than buying/making a new Clean / Dirty sign for the dishwasher (even though I love the look of the signs made with the Scrabble Tiles).  Maybe if I find some Scrabble Tiles at the thrift store I will make a new one.

What small project have you worked on lately?

Later – H

Gluten-Free Baked Fried Chicken

When I found the link to the Baked Fried Chicken (not gluten-free) on Pinterest:

http://thewondertwins.blogspot.com/2011/10/mondays-menu-baked-fried-chicken.html

I knew I had to figure out how to make it gluten-free for my family.  This recipe is a HIT with my family.  Up until now I had only done it with skinless/boneless chicken breast, but today I decided to do it with skinless chicken thighs.

I use my version of Season All (without the curry) – another one of my posts:       http://wp.me/p2CNE7-5O

Here are my revised instructions:

Place thawed chicken breast tenderloin (or I have used thighs) strips in a bowl of milk. Let soak for 20-30 min.
Mix in a Gallon Size Ziploc or Large Bowl:  
1 Tablespoon  Season All  – I used my version of this –        http://wp.me/p2CNE7-5O
3/4 teaspoon Pepper
1 cup Flour  (Gluten-free  with no xanthan gum)
2 teaspoon Paprika
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into a few pieces and place in a 9×13 pan. Melt butter in pre-heated oven.
Spread melted butter around the bottom of the pan. Lightly spray the pan, if needed, to make sure that there are no dry spots.
Shake excess milk off of chicken and completely coat each piece with the seasoning mix. You can either shake the chicken in the bag, until coated, or dip each piece in the bowl until coated.
Place each piece of chicken in the pan.
Cook for 20 min. Turn each piece of chicken and continue cooking for 20 more minutes, or until cooked through.
(I cooked the chicken thighs for 30 minutes, turned and then cooked for 30 additional minutes.)
Here is a photo of a piece that was reheat the next day:
   Enjoy! – Hgluten-free, gluten free, chicken

My version of ‘Season All’

When I found the recipe for Baked ‘Fried’ Chicken (my gluten-free version will be posted soon) I knew I had to change it to gluten-free, but I realized I didn’t have Season All in the house (and wasn’t really sure what it was).  So, I did a Google search for a Season All recipe:

Here is the original recipe for Season All Seasoning Blend that I modified:  http://www.food.com/recipe/season-all-seasoning-blend-224441

When I started to make it I realized I didn’t have any curry in the house.  So, I made the spice mix without it.  My family liked the flavoring of the Gluten-free Baked ‘Fried’ Chicken better than the taste of KFC chicken.  I wonder if the KFC spices has curry in it…..

So, here is my version of the Season All

1 cup salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon allspice

3 Tablespoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 Tablespoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together and store in a cool, dry place.

 

Enjoy – H

Crockpot fall off the bone ribs!

Hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July!  Since the local grocer had ribs on sale I decided we would have them last week, but we decided it was too hot to even cook them outside on the grill.

So, I wanted an easy (and hopefully cooler) way to cook the ribs so I went Google searching with the words Crockpot and Ribs.

I wish I came up with this idea since the ribs turned out SO good!  Here is the link to the site I used:  http://www.mylifeasamrs.com/2011/05/crockpot-bbq-ribs.html

The ribs I bought came pre-rubbed so all I did was cut the rack in two and put them in the crockpot.  I cooked mine on Low for 6 hours and then kept them warm for a few hours.

Husband put them on the grill (with the BBQ sauce), but he only flipped them a couple of time before the meat was falling off the bones!

So, I forgot to take a photo of the ribs prior to eating them, but here is a photo of a few ‘clean’ bones that the meat fell off the bones by itself.

crockpot, ribs, delicious

 

Depending upon what is in your rub or BBQ sauce this could definitely be a gluten-free meal.

 

Enjoy! – H

Naomi & Chris got married!

The day finally arrived for our niece’s wedding.  It was a great location (outside with a HUGE Oak Tree in the background) and a lot of work/fun decorating for it.

One present I made was the Guest Signature book using their Engagement photos (using a deal I got through Shutterfly – see a previous post).  I also found out that the American Craft Slick Writer pen worked the best (it was hot so I am guessing the ink dried faster than the article even stated) – see this link for the data I found:

http://forums.adoramapix.com/entries/21294567-Best-pen-for-writing-on-photobooks-

I think it turned out great, but I didn’t get a photo of a signed page (or get to sign the book yet) since it was put in their car before they drove off from the wedding!  Her mom and dad didn’t get to sign it either yet so we will sign it the next time we see the book.

But, I figured out a way to link to a modified version of it on Shutterfly. ( I didn’t think it was right to post their full names or my family’s so I removed those from the shared copy of the book.)

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=wQcNmjNu1Zs2rkY

I will post a photo of the Thumbprint board after the happy couple gets to see it.

Later – H