2016 archive

The Best Vacuums for Hardwood & Carpet

First and foremost, it’s important to know that I loathe cleaning, so for me, part of what makes a product good is if it’s easy to use and cuts down on the amount of time I have to spend using it.  Makes sense, right?  Along with getting new floors comes the added responsibility of caring for them properly.  My hunt for a great vacuum started some months ago and since then, I’ve found a vacuum, a cordless vacuum, and a carpet washer that I love. These are my tried and true cleaning favorites.  Today, I’m sharing each of these products with you.  This is NOT a sponsored post – just sharing my finds with you in case you like them, too! Affiliate links below.

When evaluating a product, you first have to identify what features are necessary and important to you.  For me, I considered the following:

  • Easy to use
  • Efficient
  • Powerful
  • Convenient
  • Useful Features
  • Portable
  • Low Maintenance Costs
  • Easy to Clean


Favorite Vacuum: Shark Rotator Powered Lift Away Professional

Shark Rotator Lift Away Professional


I had another vacuum for years but it always clogged {mostly pet hair stuck in the hose} and eventually, I grew tired of fussing with it and looked for a new vacuum.  For me, a lift-away vacuum was a must.  At the time, I had carpet on my stairs and needed to be able to easily use the vacuum on the stairs, but also, I like to vacuum the sofa cushions from time to time and so like to hold the vacuum in my hand as I do so.  I also wanted a vacuum that was very powerful, could be used on both carpet and bare floor, and one that wouldn’t clog.  I also prefer bagless vacuums given my low maintenance cost requirement.

I tried four vacuums before I decided on the Rotator Professional, including one other from the Shark Rotator series.  Here’s why I love the Rotator Professional.


  • Super powerful – I had just vacuumed my rugs when I tested out the Rotator Professional.  I was horrified to see the canister immediately fill with dirt and dust after just a few passes on my shag rug.  How much dirt had been hiding in there?!  I’m still trying to convince myself that Shark hid some dirt on the vacuum to make me think it was picking up more than was there but no, the truth is, it is so powerful you’ll be amazed what you’ll find hiding in your carpet.
  • Easily changes from an upright, to a handheld, to a canister!  Yes, it comes with a second base that allows it to function as a canister!
  • Handle removes in two different areas to extend your reach
  • Comes with various tools for crevices, pet hair, dusting, and a hardwood floor attachment
  • Economical compared to its main competitor, Dyson
  • Easy to clean the dirt chamber
  • Doesn’t clog


  • It’s heavy, so while the lift-away part makes it portable, you wouldn’t want to carry it far
  • Given the strong suction, it’s a bit hard to push on rugs with a high pile


Not too many Cons with this one!  I do truly love this vacuum and am amazed by how much dirt it pulls up and how many different configurations it has so that you can reach almost any spot in your house!


Favorite Cordless & Handheld Vacuum: Dyson V6 Motorhead Cordless Vacuum

Dyson V6 Motorhead

When  my new hardwood floors were first installed, I found that I needed to clean them more often since dirt and debris shows more easily on dark floors versus light.  Initially, I just swept them every day but quickly realized that the broom left behind dust that was still visible on the floors.  I decided I needed a vacuum for the hardwood.  The Shark Rotator Professional mentioned above does work on bare floors, but it’s a bit heavy and not as convenient and easy to use as a broom, so I decided to look for an alternative.

I LOVE my new Dyson V6 Motorhead.  It is so lightweight and convenient that it’s just as easy to use as a broom.  Since it’s cordless, I can quickly move throughout the house and because it’s powerful, I haven’t yet found anything that it doesn’t pick up…plus it doesn’t clog!


Here are my personal Pros and Cons after testing and using it throughout my home.



  • At under 5lbs. it is very easy to lift and easily portable up and down stairs
  • Quickly converts from a full-size cleaner to a handheld so that it can be used in the car, outside, etc.
  • Powerful and can be used on both bare floors and carpet, easily pickup up dust as well as larger items.
  • Doesn’t scratch the hardwood floors
  • Convenient and easy-to-use wall mounted charging station {I’m actually super impressed with the design of the charging base!}
  • Ball head maneuvers quickly to turn corners and change direction, even with just one hand
  • 20 minutes of cleaning time per charge so I can cover the whole house
  • Comes charged and ready to use
  • Easy to follow instructions, although it’s so easy to use that it’s really self-explanatory
  • Very good quality – solid not flimsy
  • Comes with three additional attachments for various uses



  • The price.  It’s high even if you find it on sale!  You have to think of it as an investment and you’re paying for the features and quality.
  • To operate you have to hold the trigger down and although it’s easy, it does become tiresome
  • The air exhaust is strong and blows on you as you’re cleaning….of course, if it’s a hot day I suppose the vacuum could double as an air conditioner!
  • To dump the debris from the container, you need to use two hands.  I actually wouldn’t have even thought anything about this except that compared to my Shark Rotator Professional which requires only one hand, it seems a bit less convenient.


If picking up pet hair from carpet or upholstery is necessary, try the V6 Animal.  If you need a dusting cloth, try the V6 Absolute.



Favorite Carpet Washer: Bissell ProHeat Lift-Off 2x Pet

Bissell ProHeat Lift-Off 2x Pet


With kids and pets and shoes there’s just no way I can avoid the need to wash my carpets – and even my upholstery – from time to time!  So far, I’ve had no issues with my Bissell and in fact, love it!

I debated whether to show you this picture….it’s embarrassing.  This is the top of my stairs and by far, the spot that gets the dirtiest.  Here you can clearly see which areas I’ve cleaned and which I haven’t.




  • Effective – does a great job getting tough spots out
  • Lift-off canister makes it portable for spot cleaning and/or upholstery cleaning
  • Smells great – this might sound silly, but the cleaning solution smells really good and the carpet feels softer once it dries
  • Very easy to use and the results are instant



  • Hard to clean the dirty water reservoir
  • Need to make several passes over the wet carpet to pull the water out
  • Not for use on high pile carpet, as the suction isn’t strong enough to penetrate too deep



As I mentioned at the beginning, cleaning is just not high on my list of Likes….actually, it doesn’t even make my list!  These products have all worked really well for me, though.  If you want to see some more of my favorite cleaning products, you can find my Top 10 here:



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Decorating: When Good Enough is Enough

Let it be known that when it comes to decorating, sometimes, good enough is enough!!

I was reminded of this concept as I sat in the ever-darkening evening light on Saturday frantically trying to compare various shades of white so that I could pick just the perfect white for my baseboards and door casings that will soon be installed.  This was of course after I had dragged the family around for an hour from paint store to paint store so that I could pick up swatches from each major brand of paint because of course, each one had a different set of whites from which to choose!  Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee? Or maybe Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee? What about Simply White or White Dove?  Decorator’s White looks nice, too and the name sounds promising, doesn’t it?!



Each white has a different undertone and would give a different look and feel depending on what I chose so I had to make the right choice!  As I sat in the dying light holding up one paint swatch after another, it hit me….this wasn’t fun.  And worse yet, the stress I felt was of my own creation.  Up until that day, I had always been happy with Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee and the way it looked in my home.  So if I was happy, what compelled me to think I needed to look at ALL the whites and make sure it was just the perfect one for me?  I liked Swiss Coffee and sometimes, isn’t good enough good enough?!?!

When I was little, my dad brought home a training video his work had provided about the differences between men and women in business.  I don’t remember the story exactly but the premise goes something like this:

Kill the Little Black Dress

A husband and wife go shopping for a black dress the wife needs to wear to an event.  At the first store, they immediately find a black dress that fits perfectly and looks nice on her.  The husband {foolishly} thinks their shopping trip is over!  They came, they saw, they conquered, right?  Wrong!  The wife likes the black dress but wonders if it’s the perfect dress.  Might there be another dress out there that is better than the one she found?  So she continues searching for hours at various stores trying on dress after dress to find just the perfect choice.  For the husband, his mission was to Kill the Little Black Dress.  For the wife, she needed to see all the choices available and compare each one before making a final decision.

And this was exactly what I was doing Saturday night…  I was comparing all the shades of white when really, I should have just Killed the White Trim!  I love decorating but even I have my limits.  Yes, often times my limit is dictated by budget, sometimes space, but one limit that is often overlooked is just the basic idea that sometimes, good enough is enough!!  When it comes to your home, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be trendy, it doesn’t have to look like a magazine, it just has to feel like you.


With the internet and sites like Pinterest, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and perhaps a bit envious.  Never before have we been able to so easily see what others have! And because I feel a bit hypocritical since I always show you pretty pictures of my home, let me be honest.  I have kids, a dog, a cat, and birds.  My house is NEVER clean except for when I’m photographing.  And even then, only the room I’m photographing is clean!  I don’t live in a magazine.  I live in a home with my family and our home is our sanctuary, sometimes clean and pretty, but often messy and disorganized in the chaos of daily life with kids who have busy schedules.  And I wouldn’t change it for anything.  This is my reality…after all, why should a guest room sit pretty and empty when according to my daughter and her friends, it makes the perfect fort!



Just remember that decorating should be fun.  Be yourself, decorate with things YOU love and accept the fact that sometimes, good enough is enough.


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Flooring Spotlight: Options for the Look of Hardwood

Hardwood floors have a very timeless and elegant look to them and often, add value to a home.  While style and color trends tend to change for hardwood, the use of it still carries a lot of cache.  If you’re looking to install wood floors in your home, you might find that there are so many options available that it can be overwhelming!  And it used to be that if you wanted hardwood floors you had to buy, well….hardwood floors, of course!  Not true these days!  There are several different types of flooring that can give you the look of hardwood without actually using wood, so we’ll take a look at each one below.




Solid Hardwood

{via GoHaus}

{via GoHaus}

Solid hardwood is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  The boards are made from a single, solid piece of lumber typically ranging from 3/4″ to 7/16″.  Solid hardwood is available as both pre-finished or raw.  Additionally, given its thickness, it can be refinished after years of wear and tear, giving it a very long life. Since it is a natural wood product, it expands and contracts with humidity and as such, room for movement needs to be accounted for when installing.  Additionally, it is generally not recommended for areas that attract moisture, such as bathrooms, basements, or even concrete subfloors.


Engineered Wood

{via GoHaus}

{via GoHaus}

Engineered wood is also considered real hardwood because the top layer of the floor IS real wood.  It is made up of three of more layers of either high-density fiberboard {HDF} or medium-density fiberboard {MDF} with a veneer of real wood bonded to the top.  Each manufacturer of engineered floors has their own method for creating the individual planks that they feel gives their boards maximum strength and durability.  Additionally, manufacturers have different thicknesses of the veneer, some of which can tolerate one refinishing and others that cannot be refinished at all for risk of sanding down to the MDF core.  Since the top layer is a veneer, engineered floors are only available pre-finished, but because of the way in which they are manufactured, they are more heat and moisture resistant than solid hardwood,, and thus can be installed in a wider variety of rooms.  Additionally, they are less expensive than solid hardwood.


Laminate Wood Floor

{via Pergo}

{via Pergo}

Laminate flooring is a synthetic material designed to look like real wood with a non-resilient {or hard} top surface.  What’s interesting is that one of the layers is actually a picture layer designed to look like whatever species of wood it is replicating!  Underneath the photograph layer is the inner core, constructed of HDF.  Laminate {Pergo is a well-known example} can often have a hollow sound when you walked on it though, but whereas laminate used to look very fake, but modern laminate has become quite sophisticated and stylish.  Given its synthetic composition, it is more durable than real wood {both solid and engineered} and a fraction of the price, although it still isn’t suitable for wet areas and doesn’t quite carry the same cache as real wood.


Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is basically an upgraded, thicker version of vinyl flooring that comes in “planks” to help mimic real wood.  It is very cost-effective and is also waterproof and therefore, suitable for damp areas, unlike wood or laminate flooring.  Vinyl is a resilient surface, meaning that it has some give when you walk on it but the downside is that as such, it can be dinged and is not able to be repaired or filled like wood can be.



{Wood tile via Mannington}

{Wood tile via Mannington}

You can now get the look of wood in a highly durable ceramic or porcelain tile suitable for all areas of the home.  It is the most durable of the wood floor options, but can be cold on the feet given that its composition.  It is also more time-consuming to install and so installation costs can often be more expensive than they are for laminate or vinyl.


Modern technology has given us lots of great options for every price range and every room.  So, if you want the look of wood in your home, consider all the options before making your decision and choose the one that best meets your aesthetic, location, durability, & price needs!


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