Friday, March 28, 2008

Roomba 510 review: Initial thoughts was running a deal I couldn't pass up, the Roomba 510 for around $140 (after a google checkout rebate). I guess the 510 has been discontinued, so it is available at a good price. I've been wanting a Roomba. Actually, that isn't true. Recently I've really been hating vacuuming and sweeping my floors. I read on-line reviews and decided I had to have one.

The Roomba 510 is an entry level Roomba. It wanders randomly over the floor and vacuums. It doesn't dock, schedule, or use the lighthouses. It will use the virtual wall. I do wish it could charge itself, but I wasn't willing to pay $100 to get a model that would do that. I figure for $100, I'll pick it up and plug it in.

The Roomba was bigger than I expected. In my head, I pictured something the size of a dinner plate. This is larger than that. It is about 3" tall. It feels sturdy (read heavy) when you pick it up. It isn't as loud as I had feared.

I charged the Roomba overnight like the directions said. Then I pressed the "clean" button twice and off it went. (Actually, my three-year-old son pushed the button. He'd been begging for the honor.) The first area it cleaned was the "L" shaped main level of my house consisting of my dining room (parquet floor), kitchen (vinyl), and front room (carpet). It did a great job. It was able to get under my dining room chairs and get the crumbs under the table. It was able to handle a few, small, welcome mats I have scattered around. It also went under my couch (brave robot). I was worried it would get stuck because it can only barely fit. It did get stuck once, half in and half out, but the rest of the times it manged to get out just fine.

It is much quieter than my vacuum or my my dust buster. It does have a high pitched motor noise that is a little obnoxious, but if I go up stairs, down stairs, or shut the door, I can hardly hear it.

While it was cleaning, I emptied its dust bin when I noticed Roomba seemed to be having trouble picking up dirt I could see on the floor. Boy was the bin full...three times. I comfort myself by thinking most of it must have been under the couch :) I don't anticipate having to keep an eye on its bin now that the first cleaning is done.

I quickly learned that, when emptying Roomba's bin, I needed to be holding Roomba over the trash. Dust goes flying. I also learned that everything I read in the forums is true: open the bin over the trash, clean the filter, and clean the hair off the edges of the brushes. I didn't think I'd have the "hair around the edges of the brushes" problem since I don't have pets, but I must shed more hair than I think I do, because Roomba found plenty.

I've run Roomba on every level of my house. It did a fine job. I am cautiously optimistic. I am happy with my purchase so far. I don't think it could fully replace a real vacuum, but it will keep my house cleaner. I think I will also keep my house less cluttered, since I don't want Roomba to bump into things. And now I don't have to pick up AND vacuum.

  • Stand up fan - I have a big stand up fan that has a sloping base. Roomba climbs up on that and gets stuck
  • Bathroom rugs - the rugs in my bathroom move around easily. Roomba got suck in my bathroom because he pushed up the rug and thought it was a wall. I think this problem only happens with rugs that move. If rugs stay put, he handles them just fine.
  • Used fabric softener sheets - I had a bunch of these on the floor of my room since I fold laundry on my bed. The sheets fall down and I don't always pick them all up right away. Roomba got these stuck in all sorts of weird places, including one jamming its wheel.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times. Sitting on the couch while Roomba cleans underneath it is a weird experience.
  • Under my bed - I haven't cleaned under there since about 2005. It went under there and industriously cleaned.
  • Stairs - It is so fun watching it go right up the edge of my stairs and turn around.
  • Best find in Roomba's bin - small orange plastic frog about 1.5". It also found a pin from one of my husband's shirts. I'm grateful Roomba found it and not my foot.
  • Best find - Roomba pushed out from under my bed the case to my children's Uno cards. I've been looking for that for a month.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crock pot bean soup

This is a recipe I came up with. The red beans will make their own broth that "feels" meaty.

1 c small red beans
1/2 c pinto beans
1/2 c garbanzo beans (or chick peas)
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro, tied
1 small can diced green chillies
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chilli powder
1 sprinkle crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can beef broth

night before (optional): put beans in crock pot and cover with about 1" water.

next day: add all other ingredients and cook on high 2 hrs. or until beans soften, then cook on low until dinner time. Remove cillantro bundle and discard. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

You can also just start this the day of. If you start beans around 1:00 on high, they will be done by dinner time. pre-soaking just speeds up cook time. Watch this recipe because if the beans absorb all the water, there won't be any broth for the soup :)

Americanized version of Baba's Cabbage Soup

This is based on a recipe I got from my grandmother of a soup her mother (Baba) used to make. I simplified it and left out things I hate like sour kraut and lima beans :) It involves pork ribs, cabbage, beans, and potatoes and is a great comfort food. My kids eat it like crazy.

Baba's Cabbage Soup (Americanized)

1/2 bag Coleslaw mix
4 med potatoes, pealed and diced
1 can white beans (great northern, etc.), rinsed and drained
1 med onion, diced
1 can chicken broth
later: 1 pack pork ribs (bone in preferred)

mix ingredients in soup pot and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 min. - 1 hr.

mash potatoes, I just stick a fork in the pot and squish some of the potatoes.

Add in pork ribs and cook an additional 2 hrs. Add additional broth or water if needed.

Pepper to taste.

This soup will be very think, more like a stew. Add more chicken broth if it is too thick.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mother's Day Vase with cute flowers

I made the cutest Mother's Day presents for my mom and mother-in-law. (If you are my mom or mother-in-law stop reading now, unless you really want to know what you are getting.) I made a flower arrangement of grandchildren. This was one of those projects that actually came out as cute as I had hoped. I got the idea from a Paper Crafts magazine. I also lucked out because Michael's had a big sale, so I got the vase and rocks at a great price. See the finished product here.

river rocks
rub-ons for the vase
bamboo skewers (like the ones you grill with)
scallop punch
2 circle punches that nest in the scallop (or a colluzzle) (1 3/4" and 1 1/4")
pattern paper and coordinating card stock (I used pretty in pink, real red, bashful blue, apricot appeal, and wild wasabi from stampin' up)
pictures of people small enough to fit inside the smallest size circle punch
small ladybug or butterfly stamp

1. Apply rub-on to vase. Put rocks in vase, you'll want it about 3/4 full unless you are putting Styrofoam at the bottom. Tie ribbon around jar neck.
2. To make the flowers, Punch scallops out of pattern paper. Punch larger circles out of coordinating cardstock. Punch out pictures using smallest circle punch.
3. Glue picture into circle, then the circle onto the scallop.
4. Cut the bamboo skewer to the desired height. (I used a pair of garden shears.)
5. Glue flowers to skewers. (I used glue and a glue dot.)
6. Make leaves by punching out circles with either size of circle punch then cutting in half. Glue the halves together at an angle so they make a wide "V". Attach leaves to skewer.
7. optional: Stamp ladybug or butterfly and cut it out. Glue it to one of the flowers.
7. Place flowers in vase as desired.

Friday, March 07, 2008

My Stampin' Up haul

My friend and I hosted a stampin' up party about a week ago and our goodies have arrived. I got a few stamp sets, watercolor crayons, and a mat pack (oh, and new blender pens). I really like the watercolor crayons so far. The main thing I don't like is that using them is like coloring with crayons, so it is harder for me to be precise, but I can handle that with a blender pen. The main thing I love is that everything I color looks so much better because all the colors in one family go together. I'm looking forward to playing with them some more.