Category Archives: appliances

Kenmore Intuition 28014 Canister Vacuum Review

Kenmore Canister VacuumI was offered a chance to review a Kenmore vacuum cleaner and after a bit of research decided to try my first canister vacuum. Consumer Reports liked the Kenmore Intution 28014, I thought I might, too. We also have a flight of 14 stairs that’s easier to vacuum with a canister than a traditional upright. We also have hardwood or tile floors throughout the house and will be adding rugs eventually. The Intuition is well-suited to go from one surface to the other with ease.It also comes with pet-hair removal tools, whould I lose my sense and agree to the dog that everyone else in the house seems to want.

Given the shiny blue exterior and high tech look, I convinced my husband to give it a try. And after he vacuumed up I made him write a review. Score!

It’s probably cliché to review a vacuum cleaner by saying it sucks, but Kenmore’s Intuition really does. I haven’t used a canister vacuum since the 1970s. Owning one disappointed me because, with the stand-up version my mother had gotten rid of, I could pretend it was a microphone and perform my Elvis impersonation.

With the full brush head for carpets.

The Intuition not only picks up dirt and dust far better than I recall from the Gerald Ford era and anticipates our house full of hardwood floors, but comes with features that, while intuitive in some cases, certainly improve the vacuuming experience.
My wife, the blogstress, is nearly a foot shorter than me, and the Intuition comes with an easy-to-adjust telescoping extension wand. The two nozzles that come into contact with the floor nest into each other and snap easily into place. Well labeled foot pedals help identify how to take the wand out of the nozzle assembly, so you can attach accessories and go at harder-to-reach spots.

Attachments like brushes and crevice-getter-atters snap into pre-defined spaces in the body of the motor unit

With the smaller head for hard surfaces.

(which Kim calls “Scooter”). Not that you can’t lose them, but it’s just a little bit harder. The spring-loaded extension cord winds up at the press of a foot pedal and the buttons to turn the unit on and off and change from carpeted to hardwood floors are near your fingertips so that you don’t have to crouch down to do anything. A lit-up display explains what mode you’re in and how much sucking it is doing.

The canister body itself has a built-in handle and can be moved upright or lower to the ground. The unit is much lighter than I remember canisters being when I was 10 years old. Is it because of more plastic or because I’m bigger? Who knows?

In any case, the vacuum does a great job, especially on our stairs, which have always been difficult to clean. Hand vacs never have the power to do a decent job and uprights are difficult to manipulate on stairs. The Intuition with its extendable wand and extra-long hose have made it easy to safely and completely vacuum every part of the stairs. And because it’s light and compact enough, carrying it up and down the stairs is not at all a hassle and it consumes a modest amount of closet space.

This was the vacuum cleaner we’ve been waiting for to tackle our hardwood floors and stairs. We look forward to many years of keeping the house clean with it.

One-touch controls in the handle.

We were provided with this vacuum for cleaning and review purposes. The vacuum retails for roughly $450 and is available at Sears and through online retailers.

Moen MotionSense Touchless Faucet Earns a Golden Hammer Award

Golden Hammer from Reluctant RenovatorWe’re awarding our first Golden Hammer! It’s an honor we give to recognize excellence in product design, innovation or customer service. The new Moen MotionSense Faucet earned this award due its innovative functionality–it’s touchless! (And pretty.)

MotionSense is great for families and foodies.

It’s perfect for the home cook who finds herself elbow deep in ground turkey as she’s mixing up meatballs or burgers and doesn’t want to touch the faucet with her germy hands.

It’s also great for young children who can’t reach the faucet handle and want to wash hands or get a drink of water.

And it’s pretty useful when washing dishes by hand. Water on. Water off.

Watch the video to learn more about the MotionSense and see it in action. (Seriously, peeps. It’s less than 2 minutes long. If you can’t find the time, you need to read this.)

The MotionSense is EPA WaterSense certified.  It will be available in the fall of 2012 at finer kitchen design outlets later this year. Look for a less expensive version with the same technology at your favorite Big Box in 2013. Chrome, oil rubbed bronze, and “spot resist” stainless finishes will be available with a price of around $650 depending on the finish.

moen motionsense faucet

Stayed tuned for more eye-catching favorites from my time at KBIS, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. MotionSense is the only Golden Hammer recipient from the show, but there will be more Golden Hammers awarded in the coming months, as well as a few Rusty Nail awards, the GH’s evil twin.

No compensation was received for this post. The MotionSense was my top family-friendly pick from the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

All Washed Up in the Laundry Room

We split a useless old mother-in law kitchen on the second floor of our house and into our master bathroom and an upstairs laundry room. It’s great not having to lug basket after basket of laundry down two long flights of stairs to the basement and then back up.

I show off the highlights of the new space in the video.

 

I’m glad we were able to re-use the old kitchen cabinets. DH brought them upstairs and I had kinda shoved them into the space with the original white laminated top, which fit the cabinets, but was too small for the nook in the laundry room. This was too sloppy looking for my GC, so at his urging, I bought a new budget friendly top and he framed it all out, calling it his Chanukah gift to me. I still need to paint or stain the cabinets, to complete the look, but believe me, it’s so much nicer than my makeshift attempt to fill the space.

As noted in the video, I think our Whirlpool Cabrio is too large. It does a fine job of cleaning the clothes, I just wish wish we’d one with a slightly smaller model. If there’s interest, I’ll provide a more in depth review of the machine.

Speaking of laundry, I heard the siren song of beeps (rather annoying tones, actually) calling me upstairs to finish off a load. Until there’s a machine that sorts, folds and puts away the clothes, I think laundry will always be a drag. DO you have any tips to make it fun?

The Chicago Fridge

Food cooling on porch

Steaming hot chili cools off in the Chicago Fridge.

Like many of Chicago’s mid-century homes, we have an enclosed porch (AKA 3-season room, bonus room or Florida room) off of the kitchen at the rear of the house. Ours is in need of an overhaul, but when we asked our general contractor to jack up a corner of it, he cautioned us that what we thought might be a $400 job, could turn into an expensive rebuild.

We decided to live with the ramshackle look a bit longer. It’s vintage chic, right?

Even in its rundown condition, the room has its uses. Even, nay, especially, in the 4th season. The uninsulated room is like a second, giant refrigerator. But it wasn’t until Jen saw me place a setaming bowl of chili on the porch to cool that I heard the room referred to as the Chicago Fridge.

We often place hot items out there to cool rather than overwork our fridge. In the dead of winter, we can freeze things, too.

Now that it’s warming up and we can use the room as more than an extension of our refrigerator (and garage and mudroom), I’m dusting, scrubbing and organizing it. I’ll be back soon with pictures.

Do you have one of these fab little bonus rooms?

 

So This is What the House Looks Like

boxes everywhere

This is the tween's room. To be fair, the dresser for the empty drawers up front is still at my parent's and the large boxes in the background are part of a fort system, but much of what I classify as crap really does belong to him.

The house is amazing. Setting up and settling into the house? Not so much fun, but a joy nonetheless. Our move-in is a process rather than an event because we are doing most of it ourselves, bringing box after box after box from my parents’ house into ours.

I’ve been referring to much of the stuff we are moving as crap, but I’m trying to put the kabosh on that. If it’s crap, why bother bringing it over?

So I’m trying to appreciate our many possessions. At the same time, because we’ve been living with my parents for so long (over 3 years!), we’ve accumulated quite a bit since we pared down our stuff for that transition in 2008.

We must have 30 board games, 5-6 of which actually get played more than twice a year. So it’s either time to eliminate or start holding more family and friend game nights.

And our wedding crystal and fine china? As much of a virgin as I was on our wedding night. Wait, no, that’s not the right analogy. Let’s just say we’re both gently used, okay?

We have several small kitchen appliances: rice cooker, ice cream maker, bread maker, crock pot, coffee maker, but in the week or so we’ve been in the house, all have been used multiple times, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to store these away for easy use.

That’s the issue right now, simply finding right place to keep things at least on a temporary basis. I can assure you the right place is not in boxes scattered throughout the house.

Which is why I’ve yet to share the big reveal- boxes are scattered throughout the house.

I’m not putting too many photos of our messy house online, but if you’re up for it, I am entertaining visitors and offering tours. I promise I’m working on getting the place clean and organized. I can’t wait to show it off.

 

Here's a similar view from back in June. We squared off the roof and bumped out the wall with the window. Larger room= larger mess. *sigh*

 

A Quick Update

tween room painted gray with Benjamin Moore

Me: You sure you want to paint your room blue? Tween: Yes. Me: Sure? Tween: Yes. Me: Okay, I'm going to get the paint. Tween: No, make it gray.

Sorry, I don’t have time for deeply reflective end-of-year navel gazing at the moment. I’m working my way through a client project and my boys are on school break. I decided to use this first week of break to practice with my Science Olympiad team. I’m coaching food science and scheduled my group for three, three-hour sessions. We’re capping off our marathon sessions with a Cookie Cafe tonight at the new house.

Only it’s still a construction zone.

That was not the plan.

You know that scene in Poltergeist where the mom is running down a hallway to get her daughter only the hallway starts stretching out before her getting longer and longer?

I feel like that mom.

The end is in sight, and each day there’s a little more progress, yet the end goal seems to be moving further and further away.

At any rate, our appliances arrived last week. I was certain that we were to be called within 30 minutes of delivery, so rather than wait around the house, I ran errands close to home, waiting for The Call. It never came and it turns out my painter signed for the washing machine, dryer, disposer, microwave, dishwasher, range and refrigerator.

Yeah, he’s helpful like that. I wasn’t so thrilled with our appliance provider, though.

Our counter tops were installed earlier this week. It was touch and go for a while there. We hit a major road block a few hours into the day, but managed to get things resolved without any f-bombs, threats or extra money spent, unless, you count the “beer money” we gave the installers when they finished up.

We decided to hire a painting crew–yes the same one from the thing on the living room ceiling (which they were very agreeable about resolving). As power painters, I thought they’d be in and out in a few days. They are not.

Which is good.

The paint crew of 2-3 guys is doing an astonishing amount of patching, especially on our old walls. I would have only spackled over a few of the larger nail holes. So far, the pros seems well worth the money. I’ll chime in when the work is done.

Only the painters’ work is not done because all of the trim isn’t in yet.

All of the trim isn’t in yet because we were waiting on some of the new doors.

Oh, and install on our luxury shower? Delayed due to a tile issue. The issue was noticed and resolved in the same day, but not in enough time for the plumber to finish his job. Which means he’s coming back…when? Good question.

And how could I forget? The fancypants new bed sleep system arrived. It showed up the afternoon of the nearly-botched counter top install. I was nervous about getting the heavy mechanical base up our flight of stairs and maneuvered into the room, so it’s just as well I wasn’t there to fret about it. Apparently workmen do not appreciate it when you anxiously stand over their shoulders watching their every move (nevermind recording it for. your. blog). While the delivery men were making their way up the stairs (with the help of our painters!), I was stranded in a parking lot, waiting for a knight in shining armor to show up from AAA and jump my car.

Speaking of the sleep system, remeber this?

Actually, I feel like I’ve cleared my head a little now that I’ve written this post. And watching that video I shot the day we closed on the house, I realize how far we’ve really come.

Spam commenters and internet stalkers aside, I’d love to have you over in the new year! Just gimme a few more days weeks months to get ready.