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Review of Eureka Maxima 4700A Upright Vacuum

I went for the Maxima primarily because I am cheap. After months of watching my nearly four year old Dirt Devil miss fuzz or string or many tiny particles, we decided a new vacuum was in order.

I had a few priorities. Cheapness I already mentioned. Our house is small and we have mostly hardwoods which means that I do not want to buy a Dyson for a handful of area rugs. With the hardwoods in mind, I also wanted something that could do a basic sweep on hard floors as well.

Finally, I had been fed up by the constantly troublesome adventure of looking for vacuum bags with the Dirt Devil. This also was a major sticking point for me. I can’t remember now which size mine was (B, Y, U?). I do know that it was apparently the size which is never available in my local grocery stores or in my local Target, Walmart, Kmart.

So my needs drew me to the Eureka Maxima 4700A. This was a vacuum seemingly made for me. 12 amps-about as powerful as I have seen. Bagless, Micro-filtration with a very easily emptied dust cup. A couple of tools, like the wand I occasionally use on the floor moulding or on the grill of the bathroom fan. 25 foot cord. This baby looked like it had it all.

I found mixed reviews for it on, but decided that the majority of the negative reviews sounded either like inappropriate condemnations (something like, “I gave this product 1 star because it arrived late”) or the customer had received a lemon (“mine blew up the first time I used it”). In either case, buying locally with the option of returning it would solve most of those potential problems.

Hence, I am now the proud owner of a Maxima and I am loving it. It really picks up everything on the rug (something I began to doubt was possible for a vacuum when I was making excuses for the Dirt Devil-and yes I replaced the belt). It is a little more iffy on the bare floors. You are still going to have to Swiffer, but I wasn’t ever really expecting much. The Maxima was not intended to be a mop. So I am still simply pleased that it picks up large items.

The dust canister is really very simple to clean out, but every once in a while you will have to wash off the filter. It does cake up after a while and require a run under the hose or faucet. Also, be sure that you let the filter dry completely before putting it back into the dust canister.

My biggest disappointment was that I paid 69.99 for it at Sears. We were on a tight schedule and I had not seen it offered at Lowes for 60.82. With gas prices I was not going to be saving a nickel after a return trip to Sears and then one to Lowes. This would be especially true if I caught a lemon at Lowes after knowing that I did not already have one from Sears.

The Eureka Maxima 4700A has served us admirably for upwards of three months, and I couldn’t be happier.

Product Review: Sweepeze Automatic Vacuum And Dustpan

I came across a Sweepeze a few years ago when I was looking for an automatic vacuum cleaner. I wanted a whole-house vacuum system, but realized it would be difficult with my old house and its plaster walls. I had seen some heaters and small AC-type units that were self contained and fit below the floor, so that it looked like a vent. I wondered if there was a vacuum that functioned like this. Instead, I found a separate, self-contained unit that was part vacuum and part dustpan. Here are my thoughts on the unique gadget known as the Sweepeze.

The Sweepeze is a small box with a hole near the bottom and a knob on the side. It look deceptively simple. The unit actually contains an electric eye system. If dust or crumbs break the beam of light between the eyes, it turns the powerful vacuum on for a few seconds. The knob on the side also allows you to set it to go off occasionally on its own. I personally do not care for this setting, because I’d rather have the dirt gone immediately and my cats were very frightened when the Sweepeze went off.

The best way I’ve found to use the Sweepeze is to leave it in one place and sweep around it. When the entire kitchen is swept, I sweep the dirt into the machine, and it vacuums it all up. Then I turn the knob to turn it off. It would sound to someone who hasn’t used the machine that this is a silly way to spend about $50, if all it does it replace a dustpan. But to me, the cost is worth it. I am able to do more housework, because I do not have to find the dustpan, which is invariably not with the broom. Also, for those with a Swiffer, it’s especially useful. Swiffers are great for picking up dust, but don’t do as well when kids have dropped actual pieces of food. With the Sweepeze, I can simply run through the kitchen with a Swiffer after each meal, sweep it into the Sweepeze, and empty it once a day. Also, for those with back or joint problems, it is extremely helpful. Instead of bending and holding a dustpan, they can sweep the crumbs into the Sweepeze and empty it even less often. Several of my older relatives think it’s a great gadget to help them keep up with their housekeeping, without causing them pain or wearing them out. Also, it uses a HEPA filter, so when the dust goes in, you can be confident that it’s actually in. Finally, who hasn’t struggled with being the only person in the house and needing to sweep something into a dustpan? It’s very difficult for one person to maneuver, and you end up needing a third tool, a small hand broom, to sweep things into the dustpan, which you then carry to the trash. The Sweepeze canister holds a lot, and you can go quite long without emptying it. It’s great for automating your cleaning routing.

One downside is the fact that it only works on hard floors, so it is not the whole-house vacuum I was hoping to find. It is a good alternative though. And as I mentioned, pets are very frightened of it, especially when it comes on without warning. Also it is necessary to have a place flat enough to have the entire base flat against the tile. The reason for this is simple. If the dust goes under the electric eye, it will not turn the machine on, and it is also much more likely to get trapped under the machine and not sucked up. This is fine for hardwood floors and floors with large tiles, but those with small tiles would have problems.

Despite the drawbacks, it’s a great gadget. It lets my kids sweep, without having to master how to hold a dustpan. And unlike dustpans, which leave behind a little line of dust that is always impossible to sweep up, the Sweepeze always gets every crumb and speck of dust. I love this, and I don’t know how I swept my floors without it.

Poker Party Food That’s Quick and Easy

If you’re like my husband, his idea of cooking is to open a can of prepared chili con carne. In fact, he went out and bought at least FIVE of the 40 oz.cans of this inedible stuff, because he isn’t really a chef. The group always has chili, and I was out of town and, therefore, couldn’t make the home-made version.

The poker players didn’t much care for the canned stuff, so I was left with several 40 oz. cans of this stuff to get rid of. And no way was I going to eat it in its unadulterated version. Therefore, I scanned several cookbooks but came up with my very own recipe for a Taco Casserole, based on several different versions. This filled two large casserole dishes, and would easily feed at least 8 hungry men, who could dish it up and slop it down, as men are prone to do while playing poker late on a weekend.
Taco Casserole that Feeds a Poker Gang

2 lbs. of ground chuck or, if you prefer, a better quality of hamburger…say ground round.
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped
6 ribs of celery, chopped
16 oz. (or slightly more) of diced tomatoes
The 40 oz. can of chili con carne..The Big One
Buy a couple pacakges of different types of corn chips (these can be flavored ones, plain, whatever)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 cups of Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Brown the beef. You will probably need to separate the recipe into 2 frying pans, as this is going to make a lot and go into 2 casserole dishes, when done. Line the bottom of a greased 2-quart casserole with corn chips….about 1/4 inch of crushed ones. (I used a mixture of different kinds.) Having combined the ingredients, pour the meat mixture slowly over the crumbled corn chips at the bottom of first one and then the other casserole dish. Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to each of the two casserole dishes, sprinkled over the meat mixture, which has been sprinkled over the crumbled corn chips. Top each casserole with 1 cup of the shredded Cheddar Cheese, placed on top of the rest of the corn chips. I probably used at least one entire 10 or 12 oz. bag of corn chips, but, since I was mixing various kinds, it might have been more. There was about 1/4 inch of crushed ones on the bottom and fewer on top. Put in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake until it is bubbly, the cheese on top melts, and you check to make sure that the interior of the dishes are hot. Remove from oven, place a serving spoon in the dish, have some beverages ready for the hungry poker players, and, as an accompaniment, possibly provide a tossed salad or some bread. If you have one of those home breakmakers, as I do, that is a big hit to go with it. Garlic bread purchased at the store would also make a nice accompaniment.

The recipe tastes like tacos, but without the bother of actually making tacos, and makes for an easier-to-eat poker party dish! Nobody will go away hungry.

2011 Oscars — Predictions And Odds And Upsets

The 2011 Oscars are upon us. The 83rd incarnation of the Academy Awards ceremony, the biggest night of the year for the celebrated actors, film-makers, and those within the movie industry that hope to attain a measure of acknowledgement for work well done in the previous year.

With the awards comes the attention of the media with countless articles on who will win, can win, doesn’t stand a chance to win, doesn’t deserve to win (or be nominated), and countless other angles (like worst movie nominated for Best Picture and lists of actors that should have won). The prediction lists this year seem to be centered on “The King’s Speech” for Best Picture Oscar. In fact, the predictions (and the betting odds) have come to favor primarily the same names throughout the categories.

It is difficult to find anyone, critic or blogger, that does not think that “The King’s Speech” will win for best movie of the year at the 2011 Oscar ceremony. There are those who think that “The Social Network” deserves it more, like Matt Holmes at Obsessed With Film, but will not win it. The same goes for the other big categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Even the oddsmakers are predicting wins for “The King’s Speech” as Best Picture. lists all the favorites, with those that many pick as “locks” for wins, like Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.

However, there are a couple of awards that might prove an upset.

One of them could be the Best Director award. Bodog puts David Fincher, director of “The Social Network,” as the most likely winner. This might be the members of the Academy’s way of throwing “The Social Network” a consolation prize. However, David Karger at “Inside Movies” points out that “The King’s Speech” has won the trifecta of guild awards thus far: Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. He also adds that other movies that have done so in the past have gone on to win Best Picture five out of the six times it has occurred.

The second could be the Best Actress award. Portman has swept all the major awards for this category. She also won Best Female Lead (the same as Best Actress) at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards. As Paul Sheehan points out at “Gold Derby,” it might just mean a loss for Portman at the Oscars. Why? Because of the 48 Independent Spirit Awards’ acting winners over the years who were also nominated for Oscars for the same role, only 10 have won both. Portman, James Franco (Best Male Lead), John Hawkes (Best Supporting Male) won 2011 Spirit Awards and are nominated for Oscars, but only Portman is expected to win, so a win by the other two (and going against the odds) would really be shockers. Add to that Hollywood favorite Annette Bening (who hasn’t won an Oscar) as a strong contender in Portman’s category for “The Kids Are All Right.”

So are there any real reasons to watch what has in recent years become a long and laborious consumption of over three hours of our time to see the winners turn out to be the 2011 Oscar winners that were predicted? Sure there are. The Oscars are always full of fashion and pageantry, gaffes, crazy and/or funny acceptance speeches, amusing moments, endearing moments, and upsets that keep us interested to the end — which, despite a parade of oddsmakers and critics, both amateur and professional, telling us who the winners will be, could very well include Best Picture.

“Winter’s Bone” or “Toy Story 3” just might win for Best Picture. Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) could win for Best Actor. Michelle Williams (“Blue Valentine”) could take home the Best Actress trophy. Mark Ruffalo (“The Kids Are All Right”) could win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Seven Reasons Why Twitter is a Great Social Media Tool for Writers

If you haven’t become Twitter-crazy just yet, you may soon find yourself building up a list of tweets to share your thoughts with the world.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that makes it easy to capture a few wise words of the day and transmit them to the blogosphere. Since you’re limited to writing only 140 characters on Twitter, you’re left with thinking on very succinct terms – haiku style – and can publish your idea, quip or insights via the web or a text messaging device. If you’re a writer, Twitter is an immensely valuable tool for practicing your craft and building an online reputation. Here are just seven reasons why Twitter is a great application for writers.

  1. Connect with other writers. Perhaps the most obvious reason to use Twitter is to connect with other like-minded folk; even if you’re already on Face book, promoting your work on Stumble Upon or have your own blog, Twitter can be added to your social media list and help you connect with your fans in a fresh new way. Try it. You’ll like it.

  1. Tweets make your thoughts short and sweet. A goal for many writers is paring down their work to a few lines or paragraphs. Thinking in ‘Tweet mode’ means you’re forced to cut down the extra words and deliver your point in 140 characters or less. Sure there are programs out there that can manipulate Twitter and lengthen the limit, or you could just write a series of Tweets and post them in succession. But that just takes the fun out of Twitter, and may even be a violation of Twitter Etiquette. Follow the rules and you’ll sharpen your writing skills in the process.
  2. Every tweet helps you practice the ‘art of articulation’. Articulating a fresh new idea every day is a great habit for writers. Jumpstart your brain into creative mode with just one clever idea, comment or quip, and you’ll set the foundation for a creative day. Make Twitter your daily habit, and you’ll be cranking out words for your articles, blogs or any other creative writing project in no time.
  3. Fresh and simple platform to promote your own work. And recommend others. Twitter gives you a chance to add a URL to each post, so if you have published work to share with your followers, use this as another opportunity to promote, promote and promote. Turn your URL into a ‘tinyURL’ to meet the character limit.
  4. Makes blogs and writers’ websites easily accessible for brainstorming and linking. Love the work of another writer? Find them on Twitter and follow their posts to catch their latest thoughts, URL links and ideas. This is a handy research strategy for content on your own blog, and other writers and bloggers can trackback to your blog if you decide to tweet about it.

  1. Catch random creative ideas and channel them into a tweet. When your creative cup runneth over, Twitter is a great way to channel those ideas and publish them in real-time. Give your brain a break when those creative ideas run well beyond your daily limit, and tweet about them. Sometimes thoughts just need to get out of your system. (Use this one wisely)
  2. Instant gratification of publishing your thoughts to the world. If you’re already blogging, you’ve probably experienced the joy of publishing your ideas and thoughts instantly. Now Twitter lets you do this on a smaller scale, giving you yet another reason to think, write, think, write and write some more, which may helpful to you regarding your concern on how to get instagram followers?

Whether you’re a veteran writer or just starting out with online publishing, Twitter is a great application to practice your skills and get involved with a growing community. It’s free to join, and you can find fellow writers and friends using the handy ‘Find and Follow’ feature.