7th House on the Left

****THIS GIVEAWAY IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING ENTRIES****
Scroll down to see who won!

Today, we’re really excited to announce that our friends at Black & Decker are back, and they’re giving a lucky reader one of our favorite cleaning gadgets: the Black & Decker Steam-Mop with SmartSelect™ Technology.

Since we’ve been married, we’ve used two other steam mops, and they were great. We love the idea of killing tons of bad bacteria without using chemicals (which is awesome for small pets like our little guy), and steam is great for getting up stuck-on grime without having to get on the floor with the scrub brush. Since switching over to the Black & Decker Steam-Mop, it’s been like opening a whole new level of cleaning with steam. In other words, it’s everything the “other guy” wasn’t.

First of all, this may seem like a simple improvement, but it’s one that immediately caught our eyes: it stands up straight on its own. Unlike the “other guy”, it’s nice to be able to click it in place and walk away for a second. Also, it stops the steam when you place it in the upright position. Our old steam mop would just sit there and steam the surface it was sitting on – which isn’t good for certain surfaces like hardwood floors.

Speaking of flooring, the Black & Decker Steam-Mop’s SmartSelect Technology is our favorite feature. About 85% of our house’s flooring is hardwood while the other 15% is tile. The SmartSelect dial allows you to choose your surface (Wood-Laminate, Stone-Marble, or Tile-Vinyl) and the Steam-Mop automatically releases the right amount of steam for the floor you are cleaning. This takes the guessing out of wondering if what you are doing is good for your floors.

black and decker

One thing Ash keeps pointing out when she uses the Steam-Mop is how easy it is to maneuver. The head pivots a full 90 degrees in either direction, making it really easy to get around and under furniture. Yet another thing the “other guy” didn’t do.

The B&D Steam-Mop’s light changes colors when it’s heated up and ready to be used (which only takes 15 seconds). When using our old steam-mop, I would get impatient and try to use our old steam mop before it was ready to go and the only way to know it was ready was by the steam pouring out of it.

black and decker

I realize it probably seems like we’re just pitching an informercial here, but we really are huge fans of this gadget and really enjoy using it. According to Ash, let’s just say she thinks she has the entire family’s Christmas & birthday presents picked out. And… in my best Pat Sajak voice… we know one of our lucky readers will too once they get their hands on one! Here’s what you need to do…

PRIZE: One (1) Black & Decker Steam Mop with Smart Select™ Technology (Valued at $127!)
2 CHANCES TO WIN: 1) Leave a comment on this post with the words “Steam me up, Scotty!” (that was my idea… can’t you tell?) 2) “Like” Black & Decker on Facebook and leave a second comment here to let us know.  If you already “like” B&D on Facebook, let us know what your favorite B&D tool or gadget is!
NUMBER OF WINNERS: One
PRIZE SHIPS: Anywhere in the US or Canada
GIVEAWAY WILL WRAP UP: Friday, August 5, 2011 @ Midnight EST.  As usual, to keep things fair and squre, you can have up to two entries per email address.  The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced right here on Saturday, August 6, 2011. Good luck everyone!

If you want to read more about the Black & Decker Steam-Mop and see it in action, visit their website here for more information and a demonstration video (and yes, it actually works as well as it does in the video!).

AND THE WINNER IS…

Congratulations, Melissa! We know you will love your steam mop as much as we love ours! A big thank you to Black & Decker and to everyone who entered. Check back soon for another giveaway opportunity!

As always, our comments above are our true and honest opinion, and we were not persuaded in any way to make positive remarks about this product.

HIS + HER FAVORITE THINGS

posted by Greg & Ashley  /  12 Comments

It’s that time again! Time for us to feature a few of our current favorite things. First up, here’s Greg’s:

1. Washing Machine Hamper – We need a new hamper. Recently, we’ve actually been using an old white plastic one that would look more at home in my old dorm room (not a classy place) than in a home. Ash wants to get one of those nice espresso wicker ones at Target. Me? My vote is for this one! It would certainly make laundry a little more fun. Now if only it was really a washing machine you could move from room to room… I think CB2 would be on to something.

2. Tape Dispenser – Another favorite from CB2 is this early 90′s flashback tape dispenser. It’s kind of funny to think of stuff from my childhood as truly “retro”, but this is pretty cool looking. It hearkens back to the days of my prized Garth Brooks cassette tapes, and I think it could be right at home in my “modern geek chic” office.

3. Indie Rock Poster Book - A cool mix of music and art for your coffee table or office. I’m a big fan of eclectic artwork, and I have an equally eclectic taste in music, so this is right up my alley. Best of all, by buying this book, you’re helping a worthy cause. Royalties go to charities supported by Yellow Bird Project.

4. Pivot Power Surge Protector - So I’m a huge fan of non-standard power strips. Being a tech geek, I have a lot of gadgets with power bricks that take up a lot of space. This one swivels so you can use all six outlet pods. It comes in handy when you need to plug something in the wall in a tight space or around furniture.

5. The Seven Year Pen – I’m a huge sucker for nice pens. This Swiss-made pen is able to write 1.7 meters (that’s 5.58 feet for us in the States) a day for 7 years. As much as I love my Inka, this one seems like a great pen to keep at my desk. As little as I write, this pen would might even last for much, much longer than advertised.

6. Google + - If searching Google is “Googling”, and using Facebook is “Facebooking”, then what do you call using Google Plus? “Google+ing” just looks funny. Anyway, I’m currently loving Google+. For me, Google+ is what Facebook was to MySpace: trimmed down and packed with all the essential features. The only problem is you need an invite to get in. So, if you’ve got a friend who’s on Google+, make sure you ask them for an invite and check it out!

1. Mod Multi Shoulder Tote – I’m what you would call a tote-junkie. I have come to grips with my “addiction” and am living by the rule “If one comes in, one gets donated”. So far, it’s been working out pretty good. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to “window shop” for totes every now and then. This tote, from Paper-Source, caught my eye recently and I’m having to refrain from clicking the “add to cart” button. I love it because it’s roomy, has long handles, a graphic pattern, and it’s made from 95% recycled post-consumer material. It would be a perfect “errand running” tote.

2. Lagoon by Martha Stewart - We recently used this paint color for a project (which we will be talking about on Wednesday!) and ever since, I’ve been looking for anything and everything to paint that color! I’m not sure if it’s too much for an entire room – though, I must admit, I’m rather tempted to amp up the color in the laundry room! Sooner or later, I will find another place to use it. It’s a very cheery, happy blue, but it’s classic and chic at the same time. And it’s Martha Stewart. What’s not to love?

3. Camera Pencil Sharpener – In the digital age, it’s sometimes easy to forget what using an old fashioned pencil is like. It sounds weird, but it’s true! I like to keep pencils around the office for sketching out quick ideas, but sometimes I forget I have them. On that note, I think this camera pencil sharpener is pretty nifty. It’s one of those things you wouldn’t buy for yourself but would love to give (or receive) as a gift.

4. Orla Kiely Pencils – When I came across the pencil sharpener (#3) on the Paper-Source website, I saw these nifty pencils in the “PS Recommends” window nearby. I blame my love for these on the fact that its Back-to-school supplies season and it’s hard to resist.

5. Book Book iPad Cover - Finally, I cute and well-functioning iPad case! Simply put, I LOVE this iPad cover. Not only is the outside cover super classy (and fun) but it’s very convenient too. Unlike other iPad covers, the Book Book turns into a fully-adjustable, hand-free stand. If you like to read books on  your iPad, like I do, you’ll really appreciate the “book like” feel it gives you when your reading. It’s the best of both worlds!

6. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home - I ordered this cookbook a few days ago and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I’ve never had homemade ice cream that actually tasted good, and I hear this book is the answer. We first heard about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream on the Food Network when they featured her Queen City Cayenne ice cream on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Oh, and how awesome is this… you can mail-order ice cream directly from Jeni’s! This would be a unique gift idea for that foodie friend of yours that is hard to buy for.

7. Decorate by Holy Becker – This is one of those hardback books that you’ll love having sit on the coffee table but is really useful too! This book is chock full of ideas, solutions, shortcuts, floor plans, and tips from designers such as Jonathan Adler and Amy Butler for every room on every budget. In my opinion, it’s a must have for anyone who is interested in making the most of their home.

That’s the round up of our current favorites. Do you have any new favorites you’ve encountered this month? Share your findings with the class!

We were not paid or perked to include any of these items in our Favorite Things line up. Like every month, they are our honest-to-goodness favorites. Some links include affiliates.

When it comes to gift-giving around the holidays, the worst feeling in the world is thinking of a special gift for someone but not having enough time to make it happen. We don’t want that to happen to you! Check our top five favorite thinking-ahead gift ideas…

1. A Piece of Ireland – Nope, not a snow globe with a leprechaun in it. A honest-to-goodness piece of land IN Ireland. Okay, so it’s only 1 square foot of land, and you can’t build on it, but isn’t that an awesome gift? For $49.99 per plot, you can own a piece of the Ireland countryside and help to preserve it for future generations. I did this for Greg our first Christmas and he totally geeked out over it. He’s traveled all over the UK, but he’s never had the chance to go to Ireland! This idea makes it to the “thinking-ahead list” because it takes a few weeks for processing. When you get your packet in the mail, you’ll receive a certificate of ownership, deed of assurance, a photo of your plot (perfect for framing when you give the gift!), as well as directions to your plot if you ever make it to the Emerald Isle.

2. 365 “I Love You”s - This idea is really simple, but it’s something simple that would mean a lot to your special someone. All you need is 365 small pieces of paper, a jar, and a little time. Just write a message on each piece of paper and place them all in a jar. My mom and Aunt did this for my grandparents for their anniversary a few years back. Shortly after, it became a family joke when someone did something for you, they’d say, “Just stick it in the jar!”.

3. A Corner on the World Wide Web - If you have a friend who wants to start their own business or a daughter who is interested in blogging, a domain name is the perfect gift. If you happen to be tech savvy (or know someone who is), you could even go ahead and get them started by setting up a simple website or blog design. If you are looking to do a quick website, we recommend Showit and a template from SiteHouse by Promise Tangeman. Promise is a crazy talented graphic designer, and it shows in her templates. They’re unique, oozing with style, totally customizable, and affordable. For as blog templates, check out The Cutest Blog on the Block or Shabby Blogs.

4. Commissioned Art Piece – For the art-lover in your life, a one-of-a-kind art piece is the ticket! Etsy is full of artists offering commissioned pieces for affordable prices (like the piece above by Kristen Daughtery). To find an artist who will create a custom piece just for you, just put “commissioned art” in the search box on Etsy.

5. DIY – A DIY project might sound like a no-brainer, but for me, Christmas DIY projects always come to mind when the hustle and bustle is well under way and there isn’t much time left for crafting. If you get started now, you can go ahead and start collecting your supplies and maybe even pre-make a few things as well. For a plethora of Christmas projects, just search for “Christmas DIY” over at Pinterest. You’ll be amazed at the amount of high-quality, awesome projects you’ll find – like the Gift Card Snow Globe above. So fun and clever! For more of my “pinned” DIY projects, visit my board here.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Share your ideas with us in the comment section…