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

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

Repairing a braided kitchen rug

Golden Retriever; braided rug; sewing

We have had a braided rug in our kitchen (in front of our counter that we do most of the standing) for a long time.  Well, it has been starting to fall apart (the clear thread has been breaking, etc) for a while, BUT Pepper (the 9 month old Golden Retriever puppy) has decided recently to ‘help’ it fall apart.


So, I decided to sew it back together (and then I will take it to the laundry mat so it is clean).

What I used:

-Heavy Duty Mattress/seat ‘curved’ needle

-Coats Extra Strong Upholstery Thread  (much stronger than invisible thread/fishing line)


The curved needle made this job a lot easier than I expected.

It still took some time since almost every time I sat on the floor to work on it Pepper decided she wanted to sit on me or the rug.

sewing, braided rugThe rug is finished and the thread blends into the rug so you can’t see it unless you are looking for them.

Yeah – Another item off my To Do List.

What project have you finished lately? – H

Spring Break – a week of many firsts

We decided to go camping for our Spring vacation in March 2013.  We went to Bishop, CA (just south of Mammoth Mountain, but definitely warmer than where we are from) for a few days and then we went into Death Valley National Park for a few days.

Some of the firsts:


– First time Pepper (8 month old Golden Retriever puppy) slept outside (you could tell she was nervous with the different sounds, etc).  We took her portable crate and set it up right outside the tent and chained her to the truck.  You could tell she wasn’t happy since in the morning she would try to get her nose into the tent zipper so we would allow her in the tent.  (I think this is what added to our zipper breaking – see below.)


– First time Pepper went on long hikes and she did well with her doggy backpack (she carried her own foldable water bowl, a few doggy cookies and some plastic bags).  The spot in the left (above the horizontal line [dirt road]) is our truck.  Pepper did good hiking up and down that trail.


– First time my family officially went bouldering (rock climbing without the ropes).  Our daughter has started enjoying rock climbing and there are some places near Bishop, CA which are famous for bouldering (some friends go down a lot so they loaned us a crash pad and a book with routes to take on the rocks).

Eureka Sand Dunes, Death Valley

– First time we drove into Death Valley National Park on the dirt/graded road from Big Pine, CA (about 2.5 hours to the Mesquite Campground and it goes by the 700 ft Eureka Sand Dunes).  Pepper and I stayed at the truck since she is not allowed on trails, etc in National Parks (she had to stay in the campground, on dirt roads or near the paved roads).

– First time we camped in Mesquite Campground (north end of Death Valley near Scotty’s Castle).  We had a couple of days/nights with high winds (storm heading into California, but it didn’t get to us) – the tent poles are luckily built to bend or our tent probably would not have stayed up.  (We heard from a neighbor that the campground was flooding the previous week due to the rain.  I guess we should be thankful we only had the wind.)

– First time our tent got a rip in it and the first time the zipper broke.  We think the tent ripped when we moved it from our first campsite (on the inside of a loop and closer to the restrooms) to the campsite on the outside edge of the park -less people walking close to our tent and no mouse running through the campsite in the evening like we had the first night 🙂 .  Pepper was much calmer the second and third nights.  The rip has already been fixed and replacing the zipper is on my ‘To Do’ list before our next camping trip.  We realized our tent is about 20 years old so that is not bad.  I don’t think replacing the zipper will be hard, but I will report after it is finished.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

– First time we went to the Racetrack playa (2.5 hour drive each way on a dirt road from the Mesquite Campground).  The racetrack is where rocks mysteriously move on the playa and leave a trail behind them (no one has ever seen them as they moved, just the path after the fact).  This was another place Pepper and I had to stay at the truck.  Luckily we parked in such a way that we stayed in the shade the whole time.

Rhyolite, Ghost Town, Death Valley– First time we went to Rhyolite (old ghost town between Beatty, NV and Death Valley National Park).  We were able to walk Pepper around the town.  There even is a house that  was made from old glass bottles.

We had a good Spring Break.  We did come home a day early since the wind was so high the tent was bending/making noise all night long for two nights.  Also, after driving on all of the dirt roads everything was DUSTY.  If it could not be thrown in the washing machine it had to be wiped off or have the air compressor blow it clean.

We have had two flat tires on our truck since we bought it (1998) both on dirt roads.  The first one was years ago and we were a long way away from anything and the spare was low on air.  Luckily we made it to a very small town and they loaned us an air compressor.


This time we got one coming back from the Racetrack playa.  A family heard the noise and stopped us (they had gotten a flat tire on the way into the Racetrack playa).  This was the first time we had a shredded tire.  Luckily the spare was full of air, etc so we didn’t have a problem putting it on.  We went out to Beatty, NV and the tire place had an used tire (our size!) that we bought for $30 as our spare.  The place told us that they get about two vehicles a week coming in that had a flat tire from the Racetrack playa road so we were not alone.

What adventures have you taken lately?  -H

Sewing Retreat and Pepper

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while.  I have a bunch (over 10 and counting) of posts to get done, but figured I would start with a new one first.  Dana – thanks for the nudge 🙂

Last weekend I had the chance to go to a multiple day Sewing Retreat in Virginia City, NV.  One of the projects I brought with me was a Rag Quilt that was completely cut out and given to me by the local Quilt Guild – all I needed to do was sew it together and then trim the edges to give the ‘rag’ affect after it is washed.  I think it turned out pretty good.


This quilt will be given back to the Quilt Guild so it can be given to someone in the community.  I was able to spend a few days with some long-time friends and meet some new friends.  Now to decide if I want to join the Sewing Guild that meets in Reno…

I sewed on a few other projects, but none of them are finished yet.  I will post them when they are done.

As a side note you get to see 9 month old Pepper the ‘red’ Golden Retriever.  I found out today that when I wanted a photo of just the quilt she decided she wanted to be in it, BUT if I just try to take a photo of her she turns away, etc.  I guess I will have to act like I am taking a photo of something else to get photos of her from now on.

So, what projects have you been working on lately?  One of the bloggers I follow has been trying to finish three UFOs (unfinished objects) monthly.  I start with that intent, but lately I have been adding way more projects that I have been finishing.  Time to make a list and try to stick to it.

– H

Walmart update and something weird happened today…

Well, I did go to our local Walmart this week looking for black cord elastic (see a previous post about Walmart coming to town).  They had a map of the store near the door so I was able to quickly find the fabric / craft area.  Bad part – they didn’t have any black cord elastic (only white); Good part – I check their fabrics and found some material with ‘shoes’ on it – perfect to finish a project for a friend that likes shoes.  So, I did buy one yard of the material and headed for the cashiers after I told the lady that this was one department they should definitely keep.

Now one of my problems with Walmart: I was there mid-morning on a Monday, but there were multiple people in each line and they were moving so slow.  I finally moved to one of the self-service lines and the person in front of me couldn’t figure out how to use the computer system to pay (the employee kept having to come over and clear the machine and have him try it again).  Luckily, the guy waiting for the other self-service line saw that I only had one item and allowed me to take the register that was in front of him when it was open.

So,  Walmart did have at least one item I needed and I will try them when I need a basic craft/sewing item or maybe a piece of fabric.  A friend reminded me that there was a smallish fabric store (in the next town 30 minutes away) that would have my black cord elastic at a good price (and they still cut you the length you need instead of having to buy a prepackaged item) so I bought it there when I was in town.

Weird thing that happened today:  We took Pepper the Golden Retriever puppy (7 months old as of yesterday) for a walk on a new, paved trail nearby.  Well, before we got far away from the car she pooped so I bagged it up and took it back to the car (leaving it next to the front passenger tire) since there wasn’t a trash can available.  We went on the 2+ mile round trip walk and were deciding how we were going to get rid of the bag – put it in the back of the car to take home, find a trash can nearby, etc.  Well, we got back to the car and the bag was gone!  There is no way someone would thing that bag had something valuable (smelly!) so we are stumped why someone would take it.  I guess we were the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness,

Later – H