Are Robotic Vacuums Any Good?

If you are looking at vacuum cleaners, and doing your research like you should, you have probably come across robotic vacuum cleaners. The most famous in the list is the Roomba. They are oh so tempting. The idea of never having to vacuum again is such a dream. These vacuums are not for everyone though. Some will love them and some will consider them an extremely expensive mistake. Is one of these time savers for you? Keep reading and find out.

iRobot Roomba

A Robotic Vacuum Cleaner May Work If

  • You do not have a lot of pets.
    Too many pets will leave too much pet hair on the ground. Robotic vacuums have limited vacuum power and capacity when compared to standard upright vacuums.
  • You have a lot of hard surfaces.
    Lets face it, they work much better on hard floors than carpet.
  • You keep a neat house.
    They handle the vacuuming but they do not pick up clothes and clutter. A messy house will wreak havoc on your vacuums ability to navigate.
  • You have a small household.
    The less people that you have in your home, the easier it is for your vacuum to navigate and handle the soil.

ILIFE Robotic Vac

A Robotic Vacuum May NOT Work If

  • You have more than one pet.
    Too many pets produce too much hair and dander. They can overwhelm a robotic vacuum which has less capacity than standard vacuums.
  • You have stairs.
    No robotic vacuum can clean stairs. You would need to get two robotic vacuums and a standard vacuum to do your stairs if you have a multi-level home.
  • You have many levels in your home.
    Do you have a sunken living room or other variations in floor height? A robotic vacuum may not be able to handle the terrain.

Samsung Robot Vacuum

Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Tips

  • Start off with a good traditional vacuuming.
    Robotic vacuums accomplish their goal through frequent light vacuuming. Start off with a clean floor so that your vacuum can maintain it instead of struggling to clean it.
  • Empty Your Vacuum Often
    Try to empty the dust cup on a daily basis. Robotic vacuums are small with limited carrying capacity.
  • Keep clutter off of the floor.
    Obstructions can cause havoc on your vacuum. Keep clothes and other clutter off of the floor.

Top Picks For Robotic Vacuums

Posted in Home

$20 Date Night In Austin

austin-cheap-dateDating in Austin, TX can be expensive. The sky is the limit when it comes to potential spending but expensive dates are not always the way to go. Are you trying to impress your date with how much money you can spend or do you want them to get to know you? A better approach to dating is to go cheap and see if the two of you connect. To help you out, here is how you can have a cheap date for under $25 in Austin. Yes, it really is possible.

The trick to dating on the cheap is to look for deals. There are always new places opening that are giving out deals in order to establish themselves. They will provide their services for next to nothing in hopes that you come back and tell your friends. In addition, because they are new, they are often trendy new additions to the city and you and your date could be the first to hit popular locations. To find these places, check Groupon. Here is an example of what is on there right now, right now being when this post was written.

  • Entry for two to the Austin Toy Museum for $10. Who doesn’t like reminiscing about their youth.
  • A 2 hour canoe rental for just $15. Tour Lady Bird Lake and get to know eachother.
  • $14 for admission for two to the Austin Zoo.
  • Admission for two to the Austin Aquarium with activity tokens, just 20 Bucks.
  • Austin Spurs, minor league basketball tickets, for just $9 a piece.

As you can see, there are a lot of cool cheap things to do in Austin. Why not check out what is available right now on Groupon. Click here to check out current deals. 

Posted in Relationship

$20 Date Night In Minneapolis

minneapolis-cheap-datesAre you single in Minneapolis and looking for a cheap date night idea? Are you married with kids and need an inexpensive night out. Believe it or not, you can have a good time in the city for cheap because there are always deals to be had. Here is how you can find a cheap date in Minneapolis.

The trick to finding a cheap date night is to look at the daily deal websites. These are full of businesses trying to make a name for themselves. To do this, they are willing to slash the prices on their services. Here is an example of some of the things you can find on Groupon. (All of the items below were current deals as of the writing of this post.)

  • Distillery tour for two, just $14.
  • Two hours of bowling for $18.
  • Wine and cheese tasting for two, $20.
  • Dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, $12.
  • Two tickets to the Crayola experience for $19.98. Different and fun.
  • Admission for two to the Museum of Russian Art, $9.

That is just a very small sample of what is going on in Minneapolis for cheap. There are literally hundreds of other great deals to chose from. Why not check out the Groupon website and see what is trending now. Click here to check out current deals. 

Posted in Relationship

$20 Date Night in Sacramento

sacramento-cheap-datesThe Sacramento dating scene is exciting but it is also very expensive. You could blow hundreds of dollars on a date and not get to know anyone any better than you could on a cheap date. In fact, you are probably more likely to connect with someone on a low key cheap date than you are on a big expensive extravaganza. A cheap date is often slower paced and much more casual.

So, what exactly is cheap and how do you find cheap date ideas. Well, let’s set our budget at $20 and to find dating ideas we are going to look at daily deal sites. I like Groupon. Here is what you can do on Groupon right now, as of the writing of this post, for under $20.

  • Tickets to Fairytale Town. What a great whimsical date idea. Tickets are just $12 total during the week and $15 on the weekend on Groupon.
  • Roller skating for two, just $13. Can’t skate? Even better.
  • Wine and appetizers, just $20 for two.
  • How about an urban scavenger hunt for two for just $20.
  • Two ours of bowling, just $18.
  • Mexican dinner for two, just $16.

That is just the beginning of the deals available. You literally have a hundred options here so you can find a cheap date that fits anyone. Want to see what is available now? Click here to check out the current deals at Groupon. 

Posted in Relationship

$20 Date Night in Nashville

nashville-20-cheap-dateDating in Nashville can be quite expensive if you are trying to impress. Movies, shows, concerts, they all add up. Besides the expense, dates often get to be too much. Your date may be more turned on or off by the experience more than the person because you are doing too much and have too little time to talk and relate. Sometimes the simple dates are the best. Pick one inexpensive activity and stick with it.

But how do you find ideas for inexpensive dates when everything seems to just cost too much? The best way is through daily deal websites such as Groupon. Let me tell you what you could do right now as of the time I wrote this blog post.

  • Dinner for two at a Chinese restaurant for $12. That’s right $12 and that includes appetizers at a well reviewed Chinese establishment.
  • Dinner for just $14 at an Italian Restaurant.
  • A holiday bar crawl for $8 each.
  • A wine tasting for two for $10.

Pretty good selection and that just scratches the surface. So, if you are looking for a cheap date in Nashville for under $20 why not check out Groupon. Click here to see what deals are on now. 

Posted in Relationship

Ironing Tips

Ironing, most of us hate to do it and would rather get it over with as soon as possible. Here is a collection of ironing tips that will help you do just that.

  1. You should iron clothes when they are slightly damp. The extra moisture in the clothing will help remove wrinkles.
  2. Empty the water from your iron immediately after you are done, while the iron is still hot. The heat from the iron will help remaining moisture to evaporate.
  3. To iron sleeves without creases, you can insert a rolled up towel into the sleeve.
  4. Use distilled water in your iron to prevent mineral deposits from forming inside your iron.
  5. A piece of aluminum foil placed under the ironing board cover can double the effectiveness of your irons heat.
  6. Never iron a piece of clothing that is not freshly cleaned. The heat from an iron can set a stain.
  7. Use back and forth motions of the iron and avoid making circular motions that can damage clothing.
  8. Organize your ironing based on material so that you improve your efficiency and avoid using too high of a heat on delicate materials.
  9. Use starch lightly. A light coat of starch is better than a heavy one. Extra starch can make a piece of clothing uncomfortable to wear, make it wrinkle faster and can burn into the bottom of your iron.
  10. Keep a bottle of distilled water handy. If you make a mistake, you can lightly spray the clothing and red it.
  11. Allow clothing to cool for an hour before wearing in order to allow creases to set.
  12. When ironing shirts, start with the sleeves. Then when you are doing the body last, they will be dangling off the sides and are more likely to not become wrinkled again.
  13. Iron clothing right out of the dryer so that there are fewer wrinkles to deal with.
  14. Turn your iron on to the highest temperature allowed for your material. Check the label for guidelines. The hotter the iron. the faster the work but never use more heat than is suggested by the manufacturer.
  15. Worried about damaging the appearance of shiny garments? Iron them from the inside out.
Posted in Home, Laundry

Easy Way To Keep Flies Out

There is nothing more annoying than those little flying pests. They get in the house and can be a devil to get rid of. What is worse is their hit and run tendencies. The love to land on your arms or face and then take off before you can swat them. What makes it worse is that you know that they started life off inside a piece of poop or rotting food. Little winged feces spreaders. So, how do you keep them out of the house? Easy.

What you need is a screen door. Not the standard sliding screen door, no you need a walk through one. It is essentially two pieces of mesh fabric with magnets int he middle to quickly allow it to open and close. It does not give the flies time to get in your home before it closes behind you. Trust me, these things work great.

Choosing A Walk Through Screen Door
The key here is not to go cheap. You can spend as little as $15 on one of these or as high as $50. The cheap ones are cheap for a reason. They will not stand up to the daily use. They have thin mesh that tends to unravel and come apart. They also do not have a good door attachment method and too few magnets to close quickly. I like this one. It is a best seller on Amazon and features a thicker mesh fabric and a fast closing magnet system. Got problems with Flies? Give it a try.


Check Prices On Amazon.

Posted in Home

Should I Buy A Bradford or Cleveland Pear?

If you are considering an ornamental pear tree and have been to the big box stores, you have probably noticed both Bradford and Cleveland pears. The trees seem quite promising with their uniform shape and great fall and spring color. There are in fact one of my favorite little trees to plant. If you have done much research on the internet though, you will see that these trees are much maligned. Searching for the variety that is best to plant will probably lead you to question planting one at all. Well, I still think they are a worthy tree and before I tell you which variety I think you should plant, let me address some of the negatives about this tree that you may or may not have already seen.

They are short lived trees, often needing replacement in 40 years.
So what! Do you plan on staying in your home for 40 years? Probably not.The National Association of Home Builders says that the average homeowner will spend 13 years in their house. They have shorter lives because they grow very, very quickly. This means that you will actually get to enjoy the benefit of a full size tree during your home ownership. Sure, you can plant a Live Oak and it will last longer but you will never get to truly enjoy it.

They put on leaves too early making them susceptible to spring storm damage.
I will take that risk to have a tree that gets its leaves earlier in the season and holds on to them much longer. Do the people who say that think poorly of every evergreen tree in existence.

The Spring Flowers Smell Rancid.
Too each his own. I personally do not feel that they smell that bad. No, I will not be making a bouquet of them but they are not that bad. They are however incredibly beautiful in full bloom.

They Can Be Invasive.
Yes, they can be but so can a lot of other plants. Always stick with one cultivar of the tree to prevent cross pollination. Plant all Cleveland or all Bradford, do not mix them.

They Have Weak Branches That Break.
Yes, they have weaker branches than many trees. This is due to both the weak crotch of the branches and the fast growth of the wood. The faster a tree grows, the softer the wood. It is a tradeoff to having a tree that grows quickly. To minimize potential damage, trim your trees up, removing many of the lower branches and thinning them out. You can also buy the Cleveland Pear which has improved branch strength. Which brings me to the answer to the question.

So Should You Plant A Bradford Pear Or Cleveland Pear?
Plant the Cleveland Pear if you have a choice because it will have stronger branches and all of the benefits of the Bradford Pear.

Posted in Home

A Great Little Portable Backup Generator

If you have ever been without power for an extended amount of time, you know that having a backup power generator is very important. This is especially true if you live in an area with extreme cold or extremely hot temperatures. I myself live about an hour away from a major city but I have a lot of sketchy back roads to travel and an iffy power grid. This means that if I lose power in an ice storm, for example, I might be out of power for some time and may be unable to travel to a location with power. Because of this, I needed to choose a backup generator. Here is what I learned.

Generator Type

There are two main types of portable generators. You have the construction style generators and inverter generators. The old fashioned construction style generators are a cheap and dirty way to make power. They are very loud and they produce “dirty” power. Electronics like computers and televisions will not like the power in most cases and you can destroy some pricey electronics with them. The noise also means that you need to place them a good distance from the house and if you have neighbors, you might wind up irritating them.

For me, the only real choice was the inverter generator. They are a bit more expensive but they produce clean power that is safe for electronics and they are rather quiet. You can stand next to one of these things and hold a normal conversation without screaming. This means that you can place them close to the house and run a smaller cord to your home. Just keep ventilation in mind.


You can get these things in all sizes from several hundred watts to over 5000 watts. A small inverter generator would allow you to power your computer and maybe a television but that was not my point. I want to be able to power some heaters and maybe an emergency window unit air conditioner, not to mention the refrigerator. This means that I would need a unit capable of 2000 to 3000 Watts. This size would allow me to run my window unit with the television and occasionally turn off the ac and run the fridge to keep it cool. This size unit should be capable of making just about anybody happy.


Price is largely dependent on the wattage that you choose and of course the name brand. Honda is king of the hill when it comes to generators, but you would pay big bucks for it. A Honda inverter generator in the 2000 to 3000 watt area would be over $2000. I want to keep it under $1000 but still have something reliable. This means checking reviews and doing a bit of research. Here is what I chose.

Champion Power Equipment 3100 Watt Inverter Generator

This little unit fit the bill. When I purchased it, it was under $800 and is capable of 3100 starting watts and 2800 continuos watts. Perfect for my needs. The reviews were also excellent and it was capable of running for 8 hours on a 1.5 gallon tank of gas. Not bad. In addition, it seemed to be well designed with a handy folding handle and a weight of under 80 pounds. This should do nicely. Check it out for yourself.

Check Prices on Amazon.


Don’t Forget

You will need a way to get the power into your home. Don’t skimp on the cables for safety sake. You can get a couple of heavy duty cables to connect to the standard outlets or you can do what I did. I got this handy cable that connects to the RV outlet and will provide me with one 30 amp circuit with three outlets. At 25 feet. it has plenty of length to get the power to my home and it is cheaper than buying two heavy duty standard cords.

Check Prices on Amazon


Posted in Home

My Experience With Sewer Gas Odor

There is nothing worse than the smell of sewer gas in your home. This is especially true if you live in the country like I do because we have septic systems or on site sewage disposal units out here. The close proximity of the waste storage unit to the home makes the potential odor from uncontrolled sewer gas even more pronounced. Recently I had an issue with a hard to cure sewer gas odor coming from one of my bathrooms and this is what I learned.

For starters, I learned that most odors are caused by a malfunction of your P Trap. Every drain that leaves your house has a little curve in it that traps water. This water forms a physical barrier to keep sewer gas out of your home. If this water drains from the P Trap, you can get odor from the drain. The tricky part is finding out why your P Trap dried up and correcting the issue.

The most common reason is that the drain does not get used often. If it does not regularly see water, the water in the drain will simply dry up from evaporation. Easy enough to fix, just run water into the drain for a minute and voila, you have a functioning P Trap and your odor should disappear. Sure enough, I have a tub in the offending bathroom that never gets used. I ran the water for a minute and the P Trap in that drain was surely good to go. Well, maybe not. In a couple days I noticed an odor again.

So what else can cause a P Trap to dry up? Well it turns out that every drain must also have an air vent that will exit through the roof. If you go outside your home you will see a few open top pipes sticking out of your roof. They don’t put caps on these because if it rains, the water entering them would just flow down the drain. Problems can occur if these pipes get clogged. When a drains vent is clogged, it will suck the water out of nearby P Trap when it drains. Then you can get odor out of the now dry P Trap. The solution to a clogged vent is to take a hose up on the roof and run some water down those vents to make sure they are clear and free of birds nests, etc. I did this to all of the vents in the area of my problem and crossed my fingers. But alas, a few days later, there was that offending odor again.

So now, I am getting pretty frustrated and am ready to just put corks in every drain in the bathroom. I am 90 percent sure it is coming from the shower drain at this point but I can not seem to stop it. So, I pop the screen off of the shower drain and take a good look into it with a flashlight to make sure that there is water in the P Trap. It was recently used so there was water in the trap but there was also something else, hair. Long hair. It wasn’t enough to clog the drain but it was long enough to potentially slowly wick water out of the P Trap and dry it out. I cleared the clog, put the screen back on and once again crossed my fingers.

In Conclusion
So, did it work? I am happy to say that it has been over a week now and I no longer have that horrible sewer gas odor in my home. So, If you have a persistent problem with sewer gas in your home and nothing else has worked, take a good look inside those drains. It might be something as simple as hair wicking the water out of the trap.

Posted in Home