Monthly Archives: December 2011

Zojirushi “Fuzzy Logic” Rice Cooker Giveaway

rice cooker with fuzzy logicWhat can I say? As a woman in my mid-40s, I’ve accepted that there are some tasks I will never master. One such task is cooking rice. Really. It sounds simple enough- rice, water, pot, flame- I just never get it right. So I was intrigued when I was offered the chance to review the Zojirushi Micom Unamami Rice Cooker/Warmer.

In recent years, I’ve admired the Japanese appliance line at the International Housewares Show. And I sometimes wear a Zojirushi apron embellished with their happy elephant mascot when I cook, thanks to a Clutter Cast from Kim Tracy Prince. And given that I can’t cook rice worth a damn, I decided a Zojirushi rice cooker was just the thing I needed for my new kitchen. (Okay, one of many things.)

I love the handle that makes the unit so portable, but I’ll admit that at first it seemed like the cooker had a lot of bells and whistles (or songs really, it plays Mary Had a Little Lamb when it starts up) and the directions were confusing.

Then I found the set written in English and decided to give it a go.

Still, I had one of those, “Why did I bother with this?” moments. After all, I have a rice cooker–my husband.

And then.

A little electric song indicated that my rice was ready and Oh. My.

It was perfect.

So perfect that I wound up cooking four batches of rice in three days (a lifetime record!). And I don’t think that a single grain was left over.

While fuzzy logic seems to be my m.o. it doesn’t always work in my favor. However, fuzzy logic is also behind the technology that helps this rice cook each batch of rice, whether brown, white, sushi*, etc., to perfection. The easy-to-read LCD panel spells out all the many choices (and has a clock). People, this rice cooker is so high-tech that ThinkGeek sells it.

But wait, there’s more!

It has slow cooker functions, so it can be used to make soup, or just keep your batch warm while you run the end-of-day carpools that always interfere with getting a hot dinner on the table. Along those lines it also has a delay timer, a feature I’ve not yet tried. And then there’s that umami setting that takes rice to a new level by gently soaking and steaming it.

The unit is easy to operate, simple to clean and did I mention the flip-up handle that makes it so wonderfully portable? Invite me to a party and ask me to bring rice!


Or win one of these Zojirushi lovelies for yourself.

To enter:

1. (Required) Comment once on this blog by 11:50 PM CST on December 22, 2011 (Happy Chanukah!) for a basic entry. US addresses only. No purchase necessary to win, but the winner must be 18 years of age. The prize has a retail value of approximately $150 -180. Winner will be randomly chosen by the WordPress plug-in, “And the Winner is.”

You can also have up to five optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry and come back to let me know you did.

3. “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook and come back to let me know.

4. Subscribe to our newsletter, Progress Notes. We send one update a month featuring our progress and advising you on our fabulous home product finds and giveaways. Come back to let me know.

5. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can keep up with Reluctant Renovator video blogs.

6. Follow @RenovatorKim on Twitter.

Winner will be chosen and notified by December 23, 2011 and will have two days to respond to me. If no response if received, a new winner will be chosen.

 Disclaimer: I was sent a product to review. All opinions are my own. Except for the one about me not being able to cook rice- that is the opinion of my family as well. The company will be shipping a similar product to the contest winner in early 2012.

* I had to wing it when I used brown sushi rice, my fifth batch in the unit. Do I use the sushi rice setting or the brown rice setting? I wish I remembered which one I chose, because I need to try the other one next time. See? Damn my fuzzy logic.

Kitchens, Bathrooms and Floors: Home Renovation Week 12

We’ve got kitchen cabinets! We’ve got a base coat of paint (in some areas)! We’ve got tile (mostly)! Check it out on this week’s video update with an included bonus update on our feathered floors.

The Thing That Does Not Belong on the Living Room Ceiling

peeling crack in ceiling

This literally appeared overnight. Each of the peeling sides is about 3 inches long.

The thing that does not belong on the lovely, white,  freshly painted for the first time in 10 15 20 years, living room ceiling is a crack. I had just finished admiring the sheen of my clean new kitchen cabinets in the morning light when this caught my eye as I was floating dreamily out of the house.

{sound of a needle scratching a record}

Perhaps it’s a stress crack. Hello! I’m the one who’s at the cracking point, why does my ceiling get to break down first?

Or it could be one of a handful of things.

I called our painter and told him he’d need to stop over and see this. But before I went ballistic on him, I stopped over to visit my buds at the local Benjamin Moore store learn about the potential causes. You may recall that Benjamin Moore is the paint sponsor for Casa de Renovation, and I’ve been spending a lot of time at my local Epco/JC Licht Ben Moore store.

I wasn’t concerned about the Benjamin Moore paint or primer, indeed, our painter told us that we were using “the best.”  I was concerned that this crack looked like something more.

Something bad.

And expensive.

Not that I’m one for drama.

At any rate, I had a friendly informative chat with Benjamin Moore store manager. This in turn, will help me have an informed discussion with our painter and our general contractor. One of the things I really appreciate about our GC is that whenever I approach him with sort of a panicky tone, he always responds with a matter-of-fact, “Okay, let’s check this out” or “”Here’s how I will fix it the way you want.” So let’s hope that’s how this will go.

And the painter has told me he will patch it up at for free.

But I’m concerned that there is a bigger issue with the ceiling. I *might* have heard the walls whisper angrily, “Get out! Get out now!” It’s not like blood spontaneously began dripping down the walls, but as I took a closer look at the areas near the cracked portion, I got a feeling that there is a large issue at play.

Then again, what do I know about any of this? Do you have any ideas?

At least the kitchen looks nice.

Success in the Kitchen but a Failure in the Living Room?

kitchen without cabinets

One week ago.

Tuesday’s kitchen install went well (at least as far as I can tell). The crew finished up later in the day and I didn’t have enough light to snap good pics because there are only two functioning lights in the house. I stopped by this morning to take some shots and bask in the glow of my new kitchen.

Oh, did I bask.

Take a peek at my smooth ginger cabinets.

updated kitchen view

As seen from the dining room:


kitchen walls down to the studs

One month ago.

Check out that same view now.

rehab kitchen with cabinets installed


I was calmed by the thought of how smoothly the install went, delighted at our good fortune as we move ahead, and eager for the counter top installers to come out and measure taking us to the next phase.

And then.

And then on my way out of the house, passing through the living room, I noticed something, something bad, that did not belong on our freshly painted ceiling. More about that tomorrow.

The giveaway for two passes to Sky High Sports is still running. Have you entered?


Kitchen Cabinet Install: Today, It’s for Real

partial kitchen cabinet installationUnfortunately, I missed it. The Tween had a fever and sore throat, so I ran him to the doctor. DH had a doctor’s appointment of his own today and was able to let the guys in and get a peek at the action before heading off to his appointment.

To recap: while my dream kitchen (well, the affordable version of it, anyway) was being assembled, I was at the doctor and pharmacy with my son. I might have gotten in on some of the big install, but I was home trying to get him to take two teaspoons of antibiotic. Unlike the Teen, who used to sip his meds as though relaxing with a fine cordial, the Tween has never liked taking medicine. The process of getting the Tween to swallow the two teaspoons of meds took no less than 30 minutes.

It also involved whipped cream, chocolate syrup and, literally, a spoonful (or two) of sugar.

And a few tears.

Some of them might have been mine.

He should be feeling better soon. I might be having PTSD form the medication ordeal, though. Hopefully he will be on the upswing soon and I’ll make it over to see the kitchen.

Forgive me for posting this photo from last week. I’ll be back with new ones soon.

Home Renovation Week 10: Video Update

Here’s the latest behind-the-scenes look at casa de renovation!