7th House on the Left


posted by Greg & Ashley  /  15 Comments

We’re back with our monthly installment of our favorite things. Speaking of which… according to last week’s reader survey, roughly 97% of you who participated said “His & Her Favorite Things” is your favorite 7th House feature! We were happy to hear that because we really enjoy putting these together every month and letting you guys see into our brains a tad more. On that note, let’s get started…

1. Cool Jaz Guitar Ice Cube Trays – These ice cube stirrers are cool in their own right, but I see a multitude of other drink-related uses. I’m thinking you could freeze some sort of strawberry-flavored concoction with these and serving them with lemonade. Yes?

2. Cholula’s & Tabasco Chipotle - I don’t like hot sauces that are hot for the sake of hotness. I like to enjoy the flavors and I only add a hot sauce if it really brings something to the table. Separately, these are two of my favorite ways to amp up the flavor ante on things like Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. Together (with just a touch more Chulula’s than Tabasco in the mix) they make one of the most amazing spicy steak sauces ever. It brings new flavors, but it doesn’t mask the steak itself. This all may sound odd, but it’s is absolutely something you have to try – even if you don’t like hot sauce! Ash has always hated hot sauce and these days she’s putting this stuff on everything.

3. Web Mail Notifier – I know everybody has desktop notifications and smart phones that let them know when they have an email waiting for them, but sometimes you just need a quiet reminder that “You’ve got mail.” This email icon sits on your desk(top) and lights up when you get an email. This is great when you want to turn the cell phone off and close Outlook, but still want the choice of checking your email if you get something in. I might grab one of these as soon as I organize my desk a bit better.

4. Falling Skies- I’m pretty sure those of you who have been reading the blog for a while have caught onto the fact that I’m a huge geek. Well, I’ve been waiting for something (anything, really) to replace all of my favorite sci-fi shows that have been cancelled. I’m looking at you, Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The Event is pretty cool but it hasn’t satisfied my need for sci-fi. I crave something that hearkens back to Stargate: SG-1 or Star Trek: The Next Generation (remember, geek?). As it turns out, Falling Skies on TNT fills that need – even though it’s slightly campy and the acting iffy at times. So make sure you set your DVRs to record a re-run of the pilot and second episode, then clear your schedule for Sunday at 10PM ET. On Tuesday when you go back to work, none of your buddies at the water cooler are going to be talking about it, but you’ll have something to talk about with the guy who fixes your computer!

5. Z Gallerie Roadster - I’m normally not a home-decor-accessory-picker-outer (I tend to leave the decorating to Ash) but I think this metal Roadster from Z Gallerie is pretty cool. Seeing as how this is a rarity for me, it made it to my favorite things list.

6. Black & Decker Drill Bit Set - My father-in-law is a really handy guy, so he has a lot of tools. Since we moved in the house, when a project needed to get done around, I would typically end up having to borrow something from him to make it happen. Well, drill bits are my first step to tool independence. I’ve had a really nice cordless drill for some time now, but I realized the other day, I’ve never had any drill bits of my own. I decided now was the time to stop borrowing what I could have for myself, so I went to Lowe’s and bought this nice assortment – that I ended up not needing for the project we were working on after all. Yeah… sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles, but now I’ve got drill bits on hand if I ever need them!

7. Nike+ GPS iPhone App - This Nike+ GPS app is great for its intended use (distance running), but it’s also great for tracking your distance while walking and biking. Ash and I have been using it a lot recently and it’s making workouts a lot more fun. Is it a little gimmicky to have famous athletes cheering you on from recorded messages? Sure. Does it help? Possibly. When you’re trying to push out that last bit of distance, any encouraging voice is a good one. Definitely worth the $1.99.

I’m going to preface my favorite things line up with the fact that I did not realize four out of my nine picks were Martha Stewart until we were about to publish. I guess she’s just that awesome.

1. Martha Stewart Recipe Box – I keep most of our recipes in a binder but from time to time, I have a recipe card that I want to keep around and this box is the perfect place to keep them. It looks very vintage and is the perfect size – not too big, not too small.

2. Bailey Table Lamp - I’ve had my eye on this lamp for months. Literally. Months. Last week on my daily Z Gallerie stalking session, it finally happened, it was on sale! Not just any sale, 50% off! So I snatched up two of them faster than you could say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious“. They haven’t been delivered yet, but I’m incredibly excited about their arrival. Their new home will be in my office or our bedroom (once we get a new bed). Decisions, decisions.

3. DL Rhein Zig Zag Embroidered Pillow – Chevron is all the rage right now. It doesn’t seem like anyone can get enough of it – including myself! I’m loving it even more in this striking tangerine orange color.

4. Oversized Square Sunglasses - I’ve been crushing on these Tory Burch sunglasses for weeks! I am a firm believer that every girl needs one good, stylish pair of oversized sunglasses… plus a big bag, lip gloss and your good to go ; )

5. 3-Cup Batter Dispenser - I don’t know if it’s the fact that I totally miss baking (due to the lack of a kitchen) or I have an odd obsession for kitchen gadgets; regardless, I really think this Martha Stewart Batter Dispenser is super nifty. It can already think of three uses – including making those cupcakes a little more symmetrical.

6. Martha Stewart Living iPad App - I don’t even buy the paper-style magazine anymore because this app is just that good! If you are an iPad owner and what to be wowed, you must download at least one issue (I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked thereafter!). The app itself is free and the issues are $3.99 each. Every issue is full of instructional videos, “live” title pages, and audio features. If there is a recipe or project you want to print out, no worries, there’s a “print” feature too. Martha is just too cool for school.

7. WalMart Commercials - Have you seen the new WalMart commercials?!? Seriously. Every single time they come on, I have to rewind them to watch them over and over. This one in particular is my favorite:

Seriously?! “Yeah, he’s gonna look like a baby…” And that face when he turns over. Hilarious!

8. Martha Stewart Melamine Bowl Set - It’s rare to find large mixing bowl sets in such stylishly vibrant colors. I want to snag a set of these before they stop making them! Don’t you hate it when that happens?

9. Free Philosophy Water Bottle - Ya’ll have probably figured out by now (from past Favorite Things features) that I’m a HUGE Philosophy fan. Seriously, I could go on and on about my love of Amazing Grace, Hope in a Jar, Vanilla Birthday Cake Lip Gloss… Yeah, case in point. Anyway, when I stocked up last week, I also got a spiffy Philosophy water bottle. For a Philosophy fan-girl like myself, it’s pretty spiffy.

Well, that’s it for this month’s edition of our Favorite Things! Do you have any current favorites?

It’s time for your well-deserved vacation and you’re busy packing all of the necessities for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But don’t rush out the door too fast! Here are nine things you need to remember before you head off for your vacation destination…

1. Turn off any breakers that won’t be needed while you’re gone. This can save you a pretty nice little chunk of change. Sure, you could just leave everything in the “off” position, and you’d still save some money, but many modern electronic devices still draw power even when they’re “off”. By turning off your breakers, you’re also doing a lot to lower the risk that your electronics will be hit by a power surge while you’re gone. Of course, don’t turn off the breaker to your fridge, air conditioner, or security system. You’ll still need these things (among a few others) to be running while you’re gone.

2. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Many people rush out the door dreaming of sandy beaches and not thinking about what their house might look or smell like when they get back. Before you leave, clean out any perishable items that might go bad while you’re having your fun in the sun. That way, your house doesn’t smell like a garbage dump when you walk in the door upon your return. Take the perishable food over to your parents’ or even a local food bank.

3. Clean, bleach, and plastic wrap your toilets. Yep, you read that right: plastic wrap. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, clean your toilet with your normal cleaning supplies to make it nice and clean. Who wants to come back home to toilet bowl rings? Then, pour in some bleach. This helps prevent mildew, which is part of what creates that musty smell in your house while you’re not there. This last (and strangest) step is optional, but great for people in warm, humid climates taking extended vacations. Tightly wrap plastic wrap over the bowl like you’re trying to seal up leftovers (that is, air-tight). You see, in warmer climates, water can evaporate from the toilet bowl and allow sewer/septic gas to leak into the house. You don’t want that. It’s smelly and can even be dangerous.

4. Set your air conditioner to a reasonably high temperature. Just bumping your temperature up a few degrees will allow you to save a decent amount on your power bill. However, setting your AC to 80 degrees (that’s about 27 Celsius for our metric friends) or more will cut your energy bill down significantly. Just remember that if your AC isn’t running much, it’s not taking the humidity out of the air, so be conscious of what the things in your house can tolerate. For example, musical instruments made from wood (guitars, cellos, pianos) don’t tolerate high heat or humidity very well, so if you have a high-end instrument, set your AC at the point where it will kick on every now and then to keep the temperature and humidity in check.

5. Turn off the water. Well, turn if off to whatever extent you’re comfortable. This is a matter of personal preference and may depend on how long you are leaving your house. Some people shut off water to their entire house while they’re gone. This takes the pressure out of your plumbing and ensures you won’t spring any costly leaks. Of course, turning it back on underneath the house right after a long car or plane ride isn’t exactly fun, so you could just hit the shutoff valves at each of your water-using appliances. The most vital are the washing machine, any leaky faucets, toilets that run constantly, etc. Of course, fixing these things before you leave would be nice, but not everybody may have that kind of time.

6. Buy timers for a couple of the lights in your house. These create the illusion that your house is still occupied, even when it’s not. Some timers even allow for different settings for different days. This is the kind of timer you want to buy. If all of your lights come on at the exact same time every night, it’s going to be rather obvious that they’re on a timer. Set each of your two (or more) timers to come on and turn off at different times each day. You might even set them to turn off or on near the same time to simulate someone coming home or going to bed.

7. Try not to order anything for delivery while you’re gone. Or, if you do, have it delivered to a friend or neighbor. There are two reasons behind this: 1) You don’t want whatever you ordered to sit outside for weeks on end. 2) Some professional criminals follow delivery trucks around to see if anybody answers the door when the driver knocks. This, along with leaving the packages on your doorstep while you’re gone, leaves the impression that you’re not around.

8. Remove any hidden keys. If no one is home and your neighbors aren’t extremely nosy, a burglar has virtually unlimited time to look around your house for keys. Make sure he doesn’t find any.

9. Recruit a friend to go by your house from time to time. You don’t really need to give them a key, either. All they need to do is pull in, make sure there aren’t any packages at your door, grab your mail, and ensure nothing looks broken or vandalized.

Do you have any helpful tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comment section!

Suitcase photo found here. Plastic wrap photo found here. Toilet found here. Light timer photo found here. Slight altered key rock photo found here

Scroll down to see the winning comment chosen by Random.org…

Summer is here and it seems every Saturday morning we wake up to the sound of lawn mowers, trimmers, and mulch trucks. While we’ve been focusing primarily on the inside of the house we’ve been gearing up for some more exterior projects. We’ve been keeping up with helping the grass be all nice and green, pressure-washing and whatnot… but when it comes to actual landscaping… baby steps, people!

Last week the folks over at Black & Decker sent two packages to our doorstep. It was… drumroll… their new Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer and Sweeper! Knowing that B&D makes good quality products, we were really excited to break them out of their boxes and put them to work.

After some minor assembly and charging of the batteries, I headed outside to break them in. The first thing I noticed was that these tools are light. Actually the Sweeper was so light, I wondered if it could actually blow anything around! The build, quality, and finish on these tools is something B&D could definitely write home about. Everything fits together nicely, and while they’re made of mostly plastic and aluminum, the tools seem thick and sturdy where it counts. As long as you don’t abuse them, they would hold up for a very good amount of time.

First up to bat, the Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer/Edger

I fully expected the trimmer to do its job, and it performed just as well as I thought it would. I wouldn’t go trying to chop down any small trees with it (Yes, I tried. Sort of. It was a weed turned small tree. Don’t ask.) but it does a great job on hard-to-reach grass underneath the edge of bushes, shrubs, etc. This “little” guy would be great for those quick jobs where a gas-powered or corded trimmer would be too cumbersome… Like that line of grass that sticks up right next to the front steps you’ve neglected to trim because you would have to spend ten minutes pulling out the big trimmer for 30 seconds of work. We’ve totally been stalking you (kidding!).

Another perk of the B&D Cordless Trimmer is the adjustable angle on the handle. It’s smooth to click into place and makes the trimmer even easier to maneuver. A total plus in my book!

Another really cool feature on the trimmer is the edger setting. You loosen a piece on the shaft, turn the head 180 degrees, then lock it back down. Then you can pull out the guide, place it on the edge you’re trimming, and just slide it along. My only criticism here is the guide could stand to have some rollers or something to make it easier to slide along rough/hard surfaces. Overall, the trimmer did it’s job really well in both the “normal” and “edger” positions.

Next up to bat, the Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper

The sweeper is pretty simple (hence the lack of pictures) and easy to use as well. Now, earlier I voiced my doubts about the performance due to the blower being unbelievably light. Well, my doubts were laid to rest the first time I flipped the ON switch. This little guy packs some punch for its size! We successfully swept up all of the grass clippings that we had created with the trimmer, and did so in short order. I will definitely use it to keep the car port cleaned out and “sweep” the driveway from time to time.

Pretty cool, right?! Here’s what’s even cooler… the very generous guys (and gals) at Black & Decker are giving one of our lucky readers their very own Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer and a Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper!

PRIZE: One (1) Black & Decker 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Grass Hog Trimmer/Edger and one (1) Black & Decker 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper. A $200+ value!
2 CHANCES TO WIN: 1) Leave a comment on this post with the words “RECHARGE MY YARD!”. 2) “Like” Black & Decker on Facebook and come back here and leave a second comment letting us know (Don’t forget to enter their Recharge Your Life Sweepstakes for the chance to win a $2,000 Gift Card and tons of B&D tools! It’s a Win-Win!). If you already “Like” B&D, tell us what your favorite B&D tool is.
NUMBER OF WINNERS: One, Uno, Un, Eins… you get the picture.
PRIZE SHIPS: The US of A & Canada
GIVEAWAY WILL WRAP UP: Friday, July 1st @ Midnight EST. As usual, to keep things fair and square, up to two entries per email address. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced right here on Saturday, July 2nd.


CHRISTY B! Congratulations Christy and we know you will enjoy your new Black & Decker yard tools! Have fun “recharging your yard” this summer!

Even though the folks at Black & Decker were super nice by gifting us these spiffy tools, the above comments were not persuaded in any way and as always, this is our honest-to-goodness opinion.