Cordless Snow Joe can blow!

So I’ve been busy moving into a new house…. or rather a new to me house.  There are plenty of things that need to be done.  The previous owners did a lot of great updates that I would have done like the flooring, high efficiency furnace etc.  However, they didn’t care about cabinet or closet organization, but that’s another gripe for another post.

There are plenty of pros to owning a single, detached house when compared to a home owners association (that’s run like a militant condo).  The only con so far is that I have to take care of my own landscaping.  This means in the dead of winter, I have to dig myself out of snow storms.  Given my larger lot, 2 car wide driveway, a 10′ long walkway, it’s a back ache.  I had bought a wider, multitasking snow shovel.  The shovel is great for pushing snow, but it still requires muscles and physical labour.  Being a petite, female, it’s not what I’m built for.  I noticed neighbours had driveway markers for a snow clearing company.  I called them and received a quote for $190 for January-April 1.  The fine print said they will only come and clear out the driveway if the weather is FORECASTED to dump 5 cm of snow.  I interpreted this to mean, if it calls for 4 cm, and the wind blows more on top and buries you, good luck with that.  So I figured I’d take a gamble and take my chances.  Well the first 5cm snow fall came, blew more into the driveway.  It didn’t “look” like a lot, but it sure did weigh enough.  By the time I finished pushing and lifting the G4 to clear the driveway and walkway, my back was aching, and the rest of my body was soaked in sweat.  I needed a 1 hour nap afterwards.  When I woke up, I had to start researching snow blowers.

Everyone I know has a gas snow blower.  It has more power to clear the wet heavy stuff, the wheels are powered so all you have to do is steer, no cords to deal with.  The downside is they can be loud, environmentally unfriendly, and the engine requires maintenance.  My car is the only engine I want to care for and frankly, I’m not interested in fixing engines.  Electric snow blowers are maintenance free, and cheaper.  The downside is, you have to have a receptacle handy, and a long power cord with the right gauge to support the amps of the snow blower.  These long, thicker, outdoor power cords could be more than half the cost of the electric snow blower.  Just when I thought I was going to pull the trigger on an electric snow blower I noticed that Lowes had a choice of a battery operated snow blower.  I couldn’t believe my luck!  Snow Joe iON is a cordless, electric snow blower!   I decided to go through Ebates.ca to order my new snow blower and get my 2% cashback from Lowes at the same time.  If I’m going to buy it anyway why not right?  I picked it up at the store and was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to get it out of the car since a Lowes employee helped load it in my trunk.  I was surprised at how light it was.  It’s about 40 lbs and the box has handles on the side so it was just bulky and awkward, but manageable.  Most of it was already assembled.  This video shows how easy it was to put together:

IMG_1334Voila!  The cutest little snow blower I have ever

seen!  I think it must have been designed for women in mind because it’s so light weight and compact.

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So I shoved the battery in, pressed the button to make sure it was fully charged and gave it a go!  I made one trail out of the garage just to see if it could cut through the fresh snow that fell last night.  I was quite impressed that it was able to blow through 8″ of snow pretty clean.
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I started to dig into the right side of the driveway in order to blow all the snow to my yard on the left because I’m sure my neighbour on the right wouldn’t appreciate more than her fair share of snow in her single car driveway.  So I would say that the snow built up over 10″ as I moved towards the left and knew that it was really working hard.  It’s also around the time I noticed I had kicked the led light on by accident so that may have eaten some of the battery.  The battery did start to die as I was clearing the mounds of snow in front of my door and steps.

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I finished my front steps and tidied up the driveway with the G4 shovel which was quite manageable since Joe did the lion’s share of the work.  I brushed the snow off the poor little guy and put him away in my garage.  Since he’s so small he fits perfectly on the side of the garage with my car inside.  By tucking the handle forward, it’s easy for passengers to hop out of the back and walk around it.  IMG_1347

I slid the battery out and when I got back inside I put it in the charger where it’ll take 2-3 hours to recharge.  I’m hoping the cost of a replacement battery comes down so that I can pick up another later, probably from Amazon at some point.  I had my doubts but I’m very impressed and happy with this cordless Snow Joe.  It gives you the cordless freedom of gas, but without the maintenance and gas emissions of electric.  Since it’s small and lightweight, it’s really easy to store.

New Year, Same Resolution

Back from Christmas break and two weeks of over indulging.  My clothes have been getting noticeably tighter and more uncomfortable.  Since I tend to hang my clothes dry I can’t blame my clothes for shrinking.  This leaves the only conclusion – I’m getting FAT!

Every year we all promise ourselves we are going to lose weight, eat better, and work out.  All too often people make promises to themselves, get overwhelmed and dive into a pie.  It’s ok to fall off the wagon and into a pie during the course of a year.  Don’t feel completely defeated.  Pick yourself up, wipe your face and try again.  Your resolution should be to Keep Trying.  Don’t quit trying!

Studies show that  if you wear a pedometer, you tend to walk a little more, take the stairs and at the end of the day, you’ve lost extra calories!  I highly recommend the Sportline Traq Pedometer from Running Room.  Unlike other pedometers I’ve had, this one is digital!  It doesn’t depend on you clipping it on your waist and specific orientation.  It can detect your motion even if it’s in your pocket or purse!  Of course you do have to measure your stride length, age, weight and the rest is automagic!  What surprised me after the first use was that it keeps track of the total time you move.  It’s disturbing to know that after an 8 hour day of working in an office, I walked only 1 hour total!  These are stats that motivate me to get off my butt more.  If you purchase this online, you can use ”JANFEB2013” to save 20% off your whole purchase until the end of February.  So if you don’t have the proper footwear, and apparel for running, add it all to the cart now!

I would also recommend getting a calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal.  It’s free, and has a huge database of foods.  If it isn’t listed in there, you can use the camera to scan the barcode and it automagically creates the entry with all the dirty details!  You can also put in recipes and have it break down the calorie count for a serving portion.   I’m a huge fan!  The one thing I don’t like is, no matter if you’re a man, woman, tall, short, young, old, the default calories it sets per day is 1200.  This can be dangerously low depending on the variables I mentioned.  I’d recommend speaking with your doctor before starting any program.  Since my doctor tells me I’m pretty darn healthy I tend to figure out how many calories I need from online calculators.  Based on this calculator, I change the 1200 calories to the number listed for ”If you reduce your current caloric intake to insert number here calories per day you will lose one pound per week without exercise.”

So far I’ve lost 1 pound.  Losing 1-2 pounds a weeks is a pretty healthy pace.  If I lose a more significant amount of weight, I’ll go back to the calculator and see how many calories I need and adjust accordingly.

Irish Stew, Don’t Mind If I Do!

After a quick search I had versions of all the ingredients for this Irish Lamb Stew Recipe.

1 1/2 pounds thickly sliced bacon, diced
6 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut
into 2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups chicken boullion
4 cups diced carrots
2 large onions, cut into bite-size pieces
3 potatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Instead of “real” bacon I’m going with turkey bacon.  I picked up a 3 pack from Costco for $11.99.  Using my digital scale, 1.5 pounds, is about 2 packs of bacon.  I also only had 700g of lamb, instead of the >2100g/6 pounds this recipe called for.  I’m not sure how the heck Danny O’Flaugherty is able to prep this stew in 20 minutes, but I’d love to know his secrets.  I’m thinking he has a robot to peel his veggies (note to self, invent culinary, veggie peeling robot) and bought a better cut of meat so he didn’t have to spend a crazy amount of time trimming the fat.

I tried the sauté function on my new gadget.  The turkey bacon was done in minutes.  I

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scooped that out and put in the lamb.  It browned up in around 5 minutes in the turkey, bacon juice.  Dumped in the rest of the ingredients.

To convert a recipe into a pressure cooker recipe, you should reduce the cook time by 70%.  Doing some “fancy math”: 2.25*(1-.70)*60min =40.5 minutes   Let’s see if we can cut down the 2.25 hour cook time down to 40 minutes.

*40 minutes elapses*  Tada!  I think a lot of the potatoes and onions couldn’t take the pressure and were vapourized in the making of this stew.

Irish stew completeIt certainly smells great.  The taste – pretty good.  If I were to do this again I would add only 1 pack of turkey bacon.  Half the lamb still turned out pretty meaty in my opinion.  I would certainly lay off the salt out of the mixture.  I think the turkey bacon had enough sodium in it to make my face pucker.  I’m pounding back a lot of water here just to put moisture back in my mouth.  I would also add in more potatoes.

Pressure cooker

The title describes both my life and my new toy!  Instead of studying for my final, or working on my course project, I was compelled to procrastinate and create a blog!

I have been using a slow cooker for 10 years now.  I truly love my crock pot, but these days I’m usually pressed for time (even when I’m not trying to waste it).  As I was sifting through my weekly flyers a new gadget leaped off the page and hit me in the face.  Of course I had to run out and buy it with a 20% off coupon!  The Breville Fast Slow Cooker  may be the newest gadget to change my life since the crock pot!

I have a bunch of root veggies piling up from my organic baskets that I have delivered to my door and some lamb that might be going bad in the fridge so I will attempt to make my first pressure cooker stew.

I know I will lose the manual eventually, so here’s a soft copy for future reference.