Friday, March 11, 2011

Product Review: Bissell Little Green ProHeat

Other than Dalmatian puppies, I'm not much a fan of spots on anything. I admit, an occasional leopard-print skirt it cute, and I certainly adore polka dot designs on just about anything. But spots on my new carpet? Well, that's just an uninvited guest that couldn't be gone quickly enough.

When I was deep-cleaning our new home before we moved in, I accidentally spilled some soapy water on the carpet near the entrance to our Master Bedroom. Despite scrubbing hard then putting every fan in the house towards it to dry, it began to collect any bit of dust that it met. Just a few days later, a big, black spot had developed.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I see that spot every time I come into or leave my bedroom. My eyes just naturally fall towards it since it is such a difference from its surroundings. It makes a statement, so to speak, but not one that I've been excited to acknowledge. I've tried not to let it bother me, but it just felt so out of place! And, despite it being caused from soapy water way back when, I still felt like it made my house look dirty. I hated that. My house may be called many things, but dirty it isn't!

I went crazy on Amazon a few days ago and bought some things to help keep my house clean. One of them was the Bissell Little Green ProHeat carpet cleaner. I've been drooling over it in stores and online for months now. And I certainly did my fair share of research to make sure people liked it. I was result-driven in this purchase...I wanted that dirty, soapy spot to be a distant memory in my fading past. So I clicked the mouse a few times, and a few days later marveled that it was already on my doorstep!

This morning was the time to crank it up. I couldn't imagine another day living with that spot. It was either him or me, and I decided to stay. I assembled the machine, added the cleaning solution and hot tap water, plugged it in, waited for the heater light to illuminate to show me the water was hot enough to work, and then sprayed the area to pre-treat. After five minutes of letting things get acquainted, it was time to suck it all up! I turned on the machine once again and started scrubbing with the brush. It was sucking the entire time I worked, and I imagined all those dirty little soap molecules being eliminated forever. After scrubbing, I sprayed and sucked while adding a little bit of pressure. Soon, I was just sucking with even more pressure on the brush head. These "dry" sweeps helped the solution and dirty water to be sucked up into the dirty tank.

Did I mention this thing has two tanks? One holds the cleaning solution/water mixture. The other is the holding tank where all the misbehaving dirt from the carpet hangs out. The tanks never mix, so there is no risk of bad stuff going back into the carpet.

I kept sucking with the brush until I felt I had sucked enough. Then I turned off the machine and took it to the kitchen for a bath. I washed out the brush head and the dirty tank and left them to dry. Since I still have lots of cleaning solution and water in the clean tank, I can leave it in for the next use.

After waiting a painstakingly long four minutes, I decided to vacuum the room to help the drying process. And the "after" pictures are taken shortly after vacuuming! It still has a little more drying to do, but I don't see a spot anywhere! IT WORKED!

I feel like the machine and all components are very well made. The hoses actually click into place when in use (and even when being stored on the unit), so there's never a worry of things coming loose during a rigorous scrubbing session. It's light-weight and very transportable. And it's green. I just like the whole kit and caboodle!

Not that I'm going to start being sloppy when carrying buckets of soapy water, but I now don't have to wait seven months to remedy any future stains that might pop into my life. This thing also works on upholstery, too, so I can fix my new sofas if anything happens to them!

I'm really excited about this whole situation. Should I be so easily amused about things that clean?

** Disclaimer** Bissell doesn't know who I am, but I've been admiring their products for a while. I have one of their vacuums, after all! I just wanted to share my positive experience with my new Bissell product. They don't give one hoot about me...and I prefer it that way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not An Advocate For Schizophrenia

We've been dealing with a porch light possessing "issues" since just a few weeks after moving in. One of my first tasks after getting the keys was to rid the entire house of all brass fixtures, and that included replacing the old, worn-out porch light. We decided to be hip and cool by getting a motion-detecting light and quickly found and ordered a perfect solution on Amazon. John's dad, while acting as my house slave during our first week of home ownership, changed the light out for us.

I loved it. Until we tried to get it to work properly.

Unbeknown to us, we accidentally bought a Schizophrenic porch light. It turned on with the switch but would then turn off after just a few moments. If left on, it would continually flick on and off at random. And the darkness would always occur when people were walking to or from our door. Needless to say, it wasn't quite a hospitable environment in which to welcome guests. "Oh, we're so glad you're here!" (Light goes out and casts everyone into utter darkness). Nobody believed us that we were happy to have them over.

So we finally did something about it the other day. John attempted a re-wire to get rid of the motion-detecting ability. After such a sporadic lighting experience, we wanted just a normal porch light that would remain on anytime the power was supplied. However, in attempts to make it work properly, we heard a popping noise and subsequently lost the light forever. I was secretly glad...I had experienced enough sorrow over one form of illumination and wanted to move on to a fresh, new start! We hopped online to find a new light.

I was surprised at the limited selection, no matter where we looked. It needed to have a Brushed Nickel Finish to match the house numbers and doorbell. This brought the selection down to almost nothing. And our house simply isn't a carriage-light type of house. We are anything but traditional, and I'm rather proud of that. So we finally stumbled upon the only light in the world that didn't require an accompanying horse to be tied out front to match. Luckily, it was available at the local Home Depot. I ran to get it yesterday and prepped it for installation for when John got home from work.

The new light went in without a hitch, and I am thrilled with the modern look. It goes without saying that having a functional, non-delirious light is just an added bonus. We will never let Schizophrenia have such a prolonged impact in our lives again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Giving Tree

The time came to kick our newly-adopted child outside. One can only drop so many leaves and blossoms before starting to become a burden on gracious hosts...

A month ago, we received this beautiful little Meyer Lemon Tree as a house-warming present from John's aunt and uncle. It's been spending most of its time inside, since freezing temperatures have wreaked their havoc on several nights these past few weeks. We sent it outside to play during the day so the sun didn't forget its existence. Last week, when the weather turned gorgeous at last, we moved the lemon tree to the backyard full-time to help it get acclimated to living in the wild yet again.

Yesterday was the day to plant! John carefully measured where to dig the hole. He allowed for room to walk behind the tree, even when it is fully grown. Isn't he a smarty pants? I simply watched the master work his magic, and before long we had a planted lemon tree in our backyard!

We soaked the tree twice. We will soak it once more today, then place our mulch on top before soaking again. It is critical this first week for the tree to get plenty of water so the roots feel safe enough to start working in their new home. I'm learning so much about growing things already!

I am so excited for this little guy to start giving us fruit. I use lemons all the time in cooking and baking, and it will be so much fun to skip (yes, skip) out to our tree to get what I need. Honestly, the grocery store will go bankrupt without me this year! What a liberating feeling to stick it to the produce man.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's Curtains For Me

It's been pure joy to see this living room coming together, and so quickly, too! One week ago, we brought home two new couches to a practically-empty room. Despite checking TJ Maxx for the past four months, I hadn't been able to find my lamps. Last Wednesday, however, they magically appeared and I brought them home! Then, when I went to run some errands to stay out of John's way as he worked from home on Thursday, I stumbled across my perfect curtains! I knew what I had in mind and just had to wait for someone to make them! They were the perfect combination of blue and green and would bring some much-needed color to the room. Honestly, who knew perfection could come in such wonderful packages?!

Thank you, World Market!

I ran next door to Target to buy the curtain rod, then called my sister to plan out an installation day. Someone had to iron these things, after all! She was available the very next morning to come help me put everything up. Believe me, it's always nice to have someone double-checking Micah Math.

I am in love with this room. Every time I walk past, I want to sit down to enjoy it. It feels so welcoming...something I've been striving for. We even had the curtains up in time for the waffle party on Saturday, and everyone loved the changes that have been made. It's heavenly to have the first visble room more on par with the rest of the house.

I'm not done yet. In fact, I need your help.

What do I do with this corner?!

Should I hang a beautiful streamlined chandelier to add more traditional elements to the room? How about a huge arc lamp with a linen drum shade? Maybe a tall bookcase? I want something useful and pretty to fill this space, especially vertically.

Show me your design skills and let me know your suggestions! I'm baffled and slightly indecisive...for now.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Not The Ugliest House On The Block

Today was a day I've been dreaming about for months. It was finally warm enough to plant some pretty plants out front. It was high time for landscaping duty!

We went to Home Depot around 10:30 AM after hosting a breakfast waffle party for some friends from church. Patient John let me wander to find exactly what I needed for the spot out front. He was even good enough to voice opinions now and then. I had drawn up a map of where things should be planted (nerd alert!). We needed one big plant (3-4 feet in diameter), three medium plants (about 2 feet) and two small plants (1 foot in size). After checking out the new selection in the garden center, we selected some pretty things to brighten up our yard!

The Lineup

The Big Plant: we couldn't find anything that size, so we ended up transplanting a bush from the side of the house. It will work for now...and if it survives the violent move, it will have a happy home out front to first greet visitors. I like's a pretty light-green color that is different from everything else we planted.

The Medium Plants: three were purchased. First, a sweet Dwarf Mock Orange Tree, which is a dense, beautiful bush. It is already full-size, so we were able to plant accordingly without planning future growth. Second, a Pink Breath of Heaven. It's an evergreen, which means it will look great all year long. It also blooms pretty little pink flowers in the spring, and already some are peeking through near the base of the plant. Finally, we bought a Natal Plum, which has thick, gorgeous leaves and will be any shape we want. I love it and can't wait for it to grow to maturity...about two feet in diameter.

The Small Plants: two cacti were selected to stay true to the Arizona roots. We planted a bright yellow Golden Barrel cactus to add  some color. We also added a mature Crosby's Prolific succulent, and I love the shape and size. It looks like it will bloom some stalk flowers, which will be pretty. These guys are both low-maintenance. Actually, everything we planted will be very little work! That's just how we roll. I wanted it to look good without a whole lot of work from us. No one in our house has time to baby plants.

So it's easy, right? Just dig some holes, throw some plants into them, fill them with dirt, water, repeat. Right? As we were digging the first hole for the big plant, John hit some rock and cement. Apparently, a coi pond used to inhabit this space...and instead of getting rid of all the concrete before filling it in, the previous owners just broke up the pieces a little, then buried it. Awesome. So we dug and dug and dug until all the rock and cement had been removed. After three hours, we were finally ready to start putting things back in! It definitely counted as my workout yesterday.

Once all the plants were in and the dirt was filled again, about four tons to be exact, it was time to water. We soaked it using water cans and our rain barrel...that thing is proving to be pretty handy! After all the babies were soaked, it was Mulch Time! We found a smokin' deal about a month ago for $4 mulch at $0.96. So we got a little carried away and bought enough to hopefully do all of the landscaping jobs we have in mind. I love how the black mulch contrasts against the pretty green plants and our house. It just looks so...finished! Now I just have to be patient to wait for the plants to grow to their mature size. I am sure carrying on lengthy conversations with them will help in that regard.

Even though the project ended up taking a lot more effort than we were expecting, the results were certainly worth it. We are both so tickled with how it looks! The best news of the day? Just as I was hoping, John mentioned changing the other bushes in front of the windows to match. It will look SO much better if we just tear everything up and start from scratch. He hasn't let me tear anything out, and it's been killing me. I think he might be on board now that he has seen its potential. Fingers crossed!

Our curb appeal became a little more appealing yesterday, and I have a strong, patient, hard-working man to thank for it. Just for the record, I was in there digging just as much. Oddly enough, photo evidence is mostly lacking of such endeavors.

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