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Cleaning Up With Libman {review & giveaway}

My old house was about 1400 square feet. My new house is about 3200 square feet. As my mother pointed out, perhaps a little rudely, that’s a whole lot of house for me to keep clean. (Meaning she doubted I could/would.) And she’s made it clear that she’s not helping me. Neither should she, and that’s fine. I have a few tricks up my sleeve. But, rather than just closing off half the house when we’re not actively using it, having some excellent tools makes the job easier.

Just before I left Toronto, the Libman Company contacted me to see if I’d have a look at a few of their cleaning tools. I arranged for them to send the package to my new place, which meant I didn’t have to move my old brooms and mops. Even better – the new, clean house is now being kept clean with new, clean tools. Sweet!

The Libman Company is US-based, but they have product available in the Canadian market as well. Not the whole line, but a good assortment. I had a browse and chose a broom and dustpan, mop and bucket, plus a dust mop, so I have the essentials covered. Here’s what I chose, and what I think –

Libman dust mop, broom with dustpan

Precision Angle Broom with Dustpan

I love the size and angle on this broom, and the stiffness of the bristles.  The bristles are strong and tightly packed, so dirt particles don’t sneak through. I’m also finding these bristles are great for attracting and grabbing the masses of cat fur found all over this house. After I empty the dustpan, I just use my hand to pull the fur away from the broom and dispose. The dustpan attaches to the broom handle, so it’s always there when you need it.  And, on top of the great performance, I love that the broom fibers are made from recycled PET soda and water bottles. Keeping plastic out of landfills is a big concern, so thank you to Libman for finding a new life for these bottles.

Upright Dustpan

So, I probably didn’t need a second dustpan, but my mom has one this style, and I was a little jealous. My back appreciates that I don’t have to bend over to collect and empty whatever mess I’ve swept up. I’ve been using this one in my laundry room, where I am constantly sweeping up stray cat litter. The dust pan is wide enough for a variety of brooms, and it has “teeth” at the back to clean things like cat fur off your broom as needed.

Tornado Mop

It’s been a long time since I used a string mop, so I wasn’t sure how I’d make out with this, but it does a great job. The mop head is quite large so you get good surface coverage. fabric bands prevent tangling, and the polyester yarn resists odor-causing bacteria, so the mop doesn’t get stinky. I especially like the “grip and click ratchet wringer.” This feature lets you wring the mop out easily and thoroughly without getting your hands into the water. Super easy! And, the mop head is machine washable, easy to remove and replace.

Libman Tornado mop

This image is from Libman, and it shows the mop fully extended.

 

Libman tornado mop

And this is my (used, therefore a bit dirty) mop after I used the ratchet wringer to wring it out.

 

4 Gallon Clean Rinse Bucket with Wringer

This is a great size, and a good, multi-purpose bucket. The wringer basket can be removed if you aren’t using it (Tornado Mop doesn’t need it, for instance). You can use one side for clean water and the other for wringing out the dirty water. One thing I have felt weird about with mops and buckets is how quickly you end up mopping with filthy water, so this is a draw for me. Or, you could use one side for water, the other for cleaning supplies, or whatever works for you. It’s like having two buckets on one handle.

Microfiber Dust Mop

Oh, how I love my cats. Oh, how I hate their shedding. The shed is particularly strong at this time of year, since they are switching over from their winter to their summer wardrobe. I run this over my hardwood pretty much daily, and it easily grabs and holds the dust, dander, and fur that is attempting to take over. The cleaning pad is removable, machine washable, and reusable. Yay! And the mop comes with a specially designed comb to remove the dust, dirt, and pet hair you pick-up if/when it won’t shake free. The comb attaches to the handle so it won’t get lost.

 

So, yes, I’m pleased with each of these items, and especially impressed with the broom. I didn’t think I could get excited about a broom, but there you go. Also, it’s certainly a bonus for me that the company colour is green – my favourite! Just another reason to love these cleaning tools. Now I just need to remember to keep using them. I know the best way to keep my home clean is to do a little every day. But some days I need to be reminded to make the time to tackle just one room, or run the dust mop over the main floor. If I ever finally get unpacked, I’ll settle into a rhythm I’m sure.

A Giveaway

Could you use some new cleaning tools? Libman has graciously offered up a prize pack for one lucky reader. The prize will include the same five items I received for review.  Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59 pm ET, June 24. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents, excluding Quebec. Best of luck!

 

 

Disclosure: I received complimentary review product to support this post. No financial compensation was or will be received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

 

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American Standard’s Speed-Connect Faucets – A DIY Dream! #RMBReno {review & giveaway}

I feel like we’ve been in a pretty constant state of renovations for the past year. It started with Hubs wanting to tear down a wall in the basement and create a man cave of video gamer and musician dreams. That meant the living room was turned into the family room, complete with a sound system, and speakers hung from the ceiling. Then we went completely nuts and hired contractors to come in and do the kitchen. (Love the final product!!) Of course, there’s still this vain hope that one day I’ll finish turning my grown step-son’s bedroom into a functional home office, but for now I work in there surrounded by boxes and bins and unopened gallons of paint. One Day.

The thing is, once you start renovating it’s hard to stop. You finish your kitchen, and suddenly your bathroom looks so very shoddy. Bathroom done? The wall colour in the master bedroom is so 1992, and the lighting is terrible, so on you go. I doesn’t help when the contractor who did your kitchen keeps pointing out things they could work on next, if only you’d toss the cash his way. But I digress.

Once the kitchen was done we did start looking at the bathroom upstairs. It’s all grey fixtures and grey tile and could definitely use an update. It’s also super tiny, so we spent some time looking for a vanity we could fit in there to replace the horrible, grey pedestal sink. And then, in a moment of serendipity, I got an email asking if I’d like to review one of American Standard’s Speed-Connect Faucets. So I guess the reno was meant to be!

We had decided to go DIY on the bathroom to save some cash, and, well, because I enjoy DIY. This line of faucets is perfect for a DIY lover as they really are quite simple to connect. They come with just 4 parts as opposed to the typical faucet installation with 14, and word is they install in one third the time. Having not installed a regular faucet recently I can’t specifically confirm that, but I can say installation basically involved placing the escutcheon plate, dropping the hoses down through, tightening a washer underneath, and screwing the hoses on to the water supplies. Done and done.

Times Square Monoblock Faucet
The faucet comes with this small plate as well as a larger one in case you need to cover a three-hole set-up.

Our new faucet is the Times Square Monoblock Faucet. I fell for the sleek, modern look. The lines and monoblock structure make it a great choice for a small space as well. Not having the hot and cold taps on the sides means less visual noise, and it looks great on the super slim vanity and sink we found.

Times Square Monoblock Faucet

This faucet is all metal construction, with a ceramic disc valve cartridge for smooth operation and no drips. It really moves like a dream. And there’s a hot limit safety stop built in that limits the amount of hot water allowed to mix with cold – super feature for families with young kids!

How did our installation go? Well, the first step was getting the old faucet off, and that was actually a big deal. I had to bring in reinforcements (Hubs) because I simply couldn’t loosen the nuts, screws, or anything. Also, our old sink was very awkward to get in under and there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver a wrench. The whole process of getting the old faucet and sink out and new vanity in took way more time than thought it would and delayed the new faucet installation, but we got there. Just something to keep in mind as you plan your own renovations.

As I mentioned above, installing the new faucet was beyond easy. The most difficult part was tightening the washer underneath to keep it stable. And that wasn’t difficult at all, just a little tricky to position the wrench correctly to get at it. And that’s a comment on the shape of the sink underneath, not the faucet itself. The flexible supply lines and the stainless steel drain cable are pre-assembled to the faucet, so that saves three connection steps (and time) right away.

We did have some trouble with the drain installation though. The concept is very straightforward, and the drain itself was easy enough and sealed perfectly just by tightening the top and bottom pieces together. Our difficulty was with the stopper. For some reason we couldn’t immediately get it to connect to the lever mechanism the lifts it up and down. I’m not sure what we were doing wrong, but we got it after a couple of tries.

Times Square Monoblock Faucet
Isn’t she pretty?

Bottom line, I would recommend this line of faucets for any DIY bathroom or kitchen reno. Great quality and easy to install. A new faucet adds a whole new look to your bathroom (or kitchen!) It’s available in both Polished Chrome and Brushed Nickel finishes.

You can connect with American Standard on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

A Giveaway

I love my new faucet and how easy it was to install, and American Standard and I would love for you to experience one of their Speed-Connect Faucets for yourself! One lucky RMB reader will receive their choice of one of the following faucets from this collection! The value of the faucets ranges from $239 to $425. Winner will choose one of:

·         Times Square Monoblock Faucet
·         Fluent Monoblock Faucet
·         Fluent Centreset Faucet
·         Town Square Monoblock Faucet

Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm EDT, May 23. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. Best of luck!

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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Keep Working Hands Feeling Soft & Healthy with Crabtree & Evelyn {review & giveaway}

I spent the vast majority of the long weekend in my garden, digging and weeding and planting. Over the next few months I will continue to spend every moment possible out there digging in the dirt. My garden is my happy place. But that happy place can really do a number on my hands. Forget manicures! These hands work hard, and I’m lucky I can keep even short nails, let alone pretty polish. I often don’t even wear my gardening gloves, particularly when I’m weeding. The gloves make it harder to feel for and grip the smaller weeds.

Digging and pulling and scraping and drying out my hands in the soil leads to the need for lots of hand washing, which can also be very drying for the skin and nails. If I were more vain about my hands I guess I wouldn’t garden at all, but as it is I just look for quality products to help me combat the worst of my offenses. And I’ve had great success with Crabtree & Evelyn. They have a line of liquid soaps, creams, and treatments specifically for gardeners.

The Gardeners collection is ideal for hands in need of a little tender loving care. Gardeners hand care is blended with natural ingredients and botanical extracts inspired by an English herb garden with notes of rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme and oak moss. They smell so fresh!

I’ve used the Gardeners Hand Therapy in previous years and love the rich, silky feel of the cream. Ingredients include macadamia nut oil and shea butter for a luxurious treatment that soaks in quickly, leaving hands feeling soft and nourished. The Gardeners Liquid Hand Soap combines soothing herbal extracts like alfalfa, carrot root and chicory leaf to deliver gentle cleansing and conditioning, as well as naturally deodorising sage, rosemary and cucumber. I keep these two next to the kitchen sink so I can wash and moisturise each time I come in from the garden, as well as to give my hands a treat after washing the dishes. You don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate this duo!

The Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Duo comes ready to gift, in this gorgeous botanical box. You can purchase online or in-store, and it retails for $40 CDN. I’m currently using the box on my desk, holding note cards and pens. It’s too pretty not to keep out on display!

A Giveaway

One lucky Raising My Boys reader will receive their own Gardener’s Duo gift package, including the hand soap and hand cream, in this beautiful box. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, June 5. Giveaway is open to both US and Canadian residents. Best of luck!

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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Breakfast in 5 Minutes! #BTS Mornings Made Easy {Giveaway}

Mornings are crazy around my house. Not least because I am so not a morning person. Everybody in theory knows to keep out of my way until after I’ve had at least one cup of coffee, but really Mom is in pretty hot demand, even when I’m not fully functional. Trying to get everyone fed and out the door on time is a challenge, so quick solutions are important to me. Also, two words – dashboard dining. It’s a big thing in our busy family, so breakfast that can be grabbed and eaten on the way to work, school or camp is a bonus!

That’s why I love this sweet little addition to my kitchen:


Hamilton Beach® Breakfast Sandwich Maker
• Quick and easy to use – just put your ingredients in, close the lid and in 5 minutes you have a fully assembled breakfast sandwich ready to go.
• Cook delicious breakfast sandwiches in the comfort of your own home
• Use your own fresh ingredients, including eggs, cheese, and much more! Endless combinations beyond the typical eggs, bacon, and cheese!
• Quick and easy recipes included
• Fits English Muffins, most bagels, and biscuits

Honestly? So quick and so good. My breakfast sandwiches don’t come out quite so pretty as the one in the video, but they do come out cooked and tasty. I did find that I had to spray the surfaces with oil the first few times I used this, to keep the egg & cheese from sticking, but the surface seems to grow more non-stick as you use it over time. If you find your sandwich is sticking in the rings when you go to release it, just give it a little help with the back of a butter knife around the edges.

We keep a supply of fully cooked bacon and sausage in the fridge to make these. Hubs likes sausage, egg & cheese, while I go for bacon, egg and cheese. You can add whatever cooked meat you like, veggies, or more! The sandwich maker takes just a couple of minutes to pre-heat (a light goes on to let you know it’s ready), then you add your bottom bun, cheese, meat, etc., slide over the divider, then crack in your egg, add the top bun, and close. Next, walk away and finish putting on your make-up, or making your kid’s lunch. After 5 minutes, go back and slide out the divider to drop the egg layer onto the bottom, and enjoy!

This is also a great little appliance to send off to college or university with your big kids. It takes up so little room, and, combined with their mini-fridge, would be a great addition to any dorm room. You don’t need to be skilled in the kitchen to make and take a tasty and protein-filled breakfast to your first class. Especially for any of our not so wee ones who seem to have trouble listening to their alarm in the a.m., this could be a big help to get their day started right.

A Giveaway

How would you like to make easy & delicious breakfast sandwiches at home too? Hamilton Beach Canada is giving one of my lucky readers their own Breakfast Sandwich Maker to start their day off right. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, September 15. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was or will be received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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David’s Condiments – Heart Healthy, Great Tasting, Local {Review & Giveaway} {TGCBB}

The Great Canadian Blog Bash

I was recently invited to a special BBQ event, where I was introduced to a local company and talented chef (though he calls himself a chef-in-training). David’s Condiments is based in Toronto, and is entering its third year of operations. This company’s story is one of small business blossoming and success, beginning with production and distribution operating right out of David’s own kitchen. Today you can find his rubs, marinades and pastes right across the country in a variety of specialty and gourmet outlets as well as in nationally known restaurants.

David’s Condiments grew out of a personal tragedy and very real health concerns. David lost his father to complications after cardiac surgery, and then watched his father-in-law survive the same surgery just weeks later. When his father-in-law was placed on a strict low sodium diet, the whole family suddenly became much more aware of salt content in foods and became careful label readers. Having identified a lack of low sodium gourmet seasonings on the market, David worked to develop his own, for his family’s use. Following raves from family and friends, David’s Condiments was born and the line greatly expanded.

The recipes for these seasonings are all low sodium, with no added salt and no artificial preservatives. The flavour comes from the various herbs and spices used, and you would never know there’s no salt in your meal!

At the event we were treated to an array of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, all made with David’s own seasoning mixes. A dash of seasoning, a splash of olive oil, and on to the grill. Easy and delicious.

Our menu for the day

I had a hard time determining which course was my favourite. I loved the grilled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus done with the Special Steak Rub. It’s a really versatile mix, reminiscent of Montreal Steak Spice, without the salt and preservatives. We usually grill our asparagus with oil, salt and pepper, but I’ve told Hubs to try this run out next time. The striploin, my favourite cut, was awesome. The rub gave a great taste but didn’t mask the flavour of the beef. David recommends letting your steaks sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before grilling. Don’t marinate, but add a splash of olive oil while resting. Then sear the steak before adding seasoning to seal in the natural juices. It was divine!

His line also include a Caesar Salad paste. It is certified gluten-free, with no dairy, no eggs. It also comes in a vegan version, with no anchovies. Just combine 1 part paste with 2 parts olive oil to make a dressing. Or spread it over pieces of baguette with a little oil, then heat in the oven or grill to make a yummy garlic bread. The Caesar salad we enjoyed at the event was yummy, but, because I’m me, I would add some parmesan to it if I served it at home. I’m a big parm fan! But, I love that these are so heart healthy and safe for different dietary concerns as well.
Overall, I was very impressed with this line of condiments. Taste was great, and the heart healthy aspects definitely appeal to me. Plus, I like to support local and small business wherever I can. Currently I have two beer can chickens roasting on my grill, seasoned liberally with the David’s Condiments Chicken Rub. The smell is fantastic!
One final note – as part of David’s commitment to heart health, a portion of all proceeds from the sale of his products goes towards the creation of an education program for heart patients as they return home from the hospital. A great cause to support!

A Giveaway

Sharing the great taste! One lucky Raising My Boys reader will take home a prize pack of three rubs from David’s Condiments, as pictured here. This includes the classic Special Steak Rub, plus the slightly spicy Peri Peri, and the delicious Chicken Rub.  Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below, and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, July 11. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway