Getting my geek on
In: Uncategorized4 May 2006
As the foster mother of four puppies, and the adoptive mother of two so-so potty-trained adult dogs, I’ve found the SpotBotÂ® to be a real time-saver. (Not to mention saving my back, my knees, my carpet, and my security deposit.)
The SpotBotÂ® is a compact deep-cleaner (not a steam cleaner) and runs on AC power. There is a plastic tank on each side of the cleaner; one for the water/formula solution, and the other for the collection of the dirty water. There is a control panel on the top of the unit, directly under the handle, that sports sleek silver buttons for the set-in stain and fresh stain settings. There are also buttons for stop and pause/resume. An approximately 6-foot accordion hose wraps around the base of the cleaner and snaps into place; the head for the hose snaps onto a separate docking area. The bottom of the unit houses a large round brush/beater bar combination that is approximately 8.5 inches in diameter; it rotates in a clockwise motion above the dirty carpet area. Sixteen ounce bottles of Little Greenâ„¢ formula and OxyGenâ„¢ formula are included. (I primarily use Bissellâ€™s Pet Odor and Stain Removalâ„¢ formula, which does a fantastic job of removing the odor and stains that accompany pet accidents. I used the Little Greenâ„¢ formula and was impressed with it as well. I havenâ€™t yet had to use the OxyGenâ„¢ formula, an oxygen-boosting stain removal accelerator and pre-treatment, although I have to believe it works just as fantastically as their other products.)
The clean and dirty tanks snap in and out with ease. The clean tank is clearly marked with fill lines for formula and water on one side and OxyGenâ„¢, formula, and water on the other. I have a minor quibble with the design of the wedge-shaped clean tank. It canâ€™t be placed flat for easy filling as the fill opening is in the base of the tank, and the plastic cap protrudes about an inch-and-a-half, making the base uneven. The clean tank must be held upright in one hand while the formula and water are poured. The dirty tank is also wedge-shaped and marked with full-line and I recommend that you empty it before you reach the line. Lately Iâ€™m having issues with my dirty tank leaking a bit so Iâ€™m trying to empty each time I use it. (Note: Iâ€™ve researched this issue on Bissellâ€™s site, and it may be due to user error. I have removed some dog hair that might have been preventing a good seal from being made and Iâ€™ll monitor the situation and post as necessary.) Emptying the tank is easy, as is rinsing residue from the tank.
Although two of the puppies have since been adopted since I bought the SpotBotÂ® from Target two months ago, we still have two puppies, plus the two adult dogs, and the SpotBotÂ® gets a pretty steady workout. It has performed consistently – and amazingly – well, removing set-in stains, as well as fresh ones, with ease.
I primarily use the SpotBotÂ® for cleaning up puppy piddles, so the majority of my use is for fresh stains. However, I do agree with the poster who finds that the set-in stain setting does a better job overall, and this is the setting that I usually use.
Since my puppies donâ€™t usually have accidents that are more than nine inches in diameter, it is easy to place the SpotBotÂ® on top of the accident, hit the set-in stain button, and walk away. (Donâ€™t walk too far, though, because the cycle-complete beeping can only be silenced by physically pressing the stop button on the unit.) Upon completion, my personal preference is to move the SpotBotÂ® off of the cleaned area to allow the slightly damp carpet to dry completely. (I finger-rake the area after drying to avoid a living room full of â€œcrop circlesâ€.)
The brush accessory does a fine job on stains larger than nine inches in diameter (think adult dog.) As mentioned previously, the brush head and hose each dock securely onto a plastic protrusion. The button to uncouple the docking is slightly depressed and very small, making it a bit difficult to uncouple, even for me who has moderately long fingernails. (If you donâ€™t have fingernails, good luck.) The head itself has a row of brushes for scrubbing, and a trigger for spraying solution. The suction is excellent and I rarely have to make more than one or two passes to remove all liquid from the carpet.
(Do be sure to put the hose back after use because hands-free doesnâ€™t work while the hose is unwound.)
For set-in stains, the SpotBotÂ® is just as amazing. I used the hands-free, set-in stain setting on a black stain I couldnâ€™t get out of my beige carpet, and six minutes later it was gone â€“ like it had never even existed!
In closing, I agree with the Amazon reviewer that said the SpotBotÂ® is worth at least three times the going rate. (I paid $79 at Target.) It performs magnificently and is so simple to use that no one in my family has any excuse for not getting a stain cleaned up immediately. The one problem Iâ€™ve had with it (the dirty tank leaking) was easy to identify and remedy (I hope) using Bissellâ€™s excellent online support documentation. (I havenâ€™t had to use their toll-free customer support line, but they get high marks on the Amazon.com reviews.) If youâ€™re considering buying this, you canâ€™t go wrong. Get going and get off your knees!
In: Uncategorized3 May 2006
Conveniently located at the intersection of Jones and Grant Roads, Forgetta’Bout It is more than a place where two roads come together – it’s where live music and Houston meet.
Forgetta’Bout It, or FBI as it’s affectionately known by the regulars, has always been active in growing and promoting the local music scene. Long a favorite of some of the hottest local acts, the 24-foot stage and in-house PA and lighting systems are also attracting national touring bands such as Stryper, L5, Barefoot Bride, and Bang Tango.
Forgetta’Bout It doesn’t feature one type of music, although hard rock and heavy metal acts do play there frequently. However, it’s not unusual to find tribute bands to such diverse acts as the Beatles, Tin Lizzy, the Eagles, Def Leppard, and Journey playing there, either.
When youâ€™re done boogying on the huge wooden dance floor, thereâ€™s plenty more to keep you entertained. You and your friends can shoot pool, throw steel-tip or soft-tip darts, and play shuffleboard, all while keeping up with the latest sports and events on FBIâ€™s 25 TV sets.
A free Texas Holdâ€™Em poker tournament is held every Monday night from 7-10 p.m, and every Wednesday is open mic night.
Forgettaâ€™Bout Itâ€™s full bar is staffed by friendly bartenders and wait staff, and features the requisite draft beer, mixed drinks, and shots. FBI is also available for private parties, complete with catering.
In: Uncategorized26 Apr 2006
Sylvia’s Enchiladas, located at 12637 Westheimer Rd, Ste 140, Houston, TX, 77077, is located just west of the Westheimer and Dairy Ashford intersections in the bustling Westchase section of Houston. Tucked away in a strip mall, incongruously located next to a giant McDonald’s, it’s easy to miss this cozy eatery amid the convenience stores and fast food joints that clog the landscape.
Step inside, though, and the frenetic energy of the outside disappears. Inside the light is soft, and the hum of conversation is punctuated by the clink of silverware and the rattle of ice cubes. You’ll be greeted warmly, perhaps by Sylvia herself. A trim, aristocratic woman, Sylvia practices hands-on management, personally querying diners as to their experience. Indeed, her presence is felt throughout the establishment, from the quaint collections of miniature tea sets artfully arranged in the nooks and crannies of the dining room to the framed portraits of the proprietress smiling down on diners from the surrounding walls.
Service is responsive and patrons are usually seated immediately. However, as Sylvia’s becomes more and more popular, there are nominal wait times of ten-fifteen minutes at peak times, so plan to arrive early during these times.
Bottomless baskets of tortilla chips are served with bowls of salsa, which is a good thing because the smells wafting from the kitchen will soon have your stomach growling.
The menu boasts 18 varieties of enchiladas, from the classic enchilada entrÃ©e featuring cheese, chicken, or beef enchiladas with chili gravy, to the more exotic offerings such as Enchiladas Tampico, an enchilada loaded with tender, sautÃ©ed shrimp and topped with a Spanish-style sauce. My personal favorite are the Enchiladas Monterrey, stuffed with a succulent filling of melted Monterrey Jack cheese and smothered in Salsa Espanola, a red salsa with beefy chunks of tomatoes. (Beef and chicken are also available for carnivores.) The Crystal City enchiladas are just as tasty, bursting with fresh spinach and covered in a tomatilla sauce. Classic Mexican fare such as tacos, chalupas, and quesadillas aren’t forgotten, either, cooked up with just as much care and flavor as their enchilada counterparts.
Be sure to save room for dessert. Sylvia’s is known for its Tres Leches dessert and serves two varieties – pastel and chocolate. Creamy flan topped with a warm caramel sauce, sopapillas, and chocolate cake are also great ways to end your meal.
Dining is casual and the entrÃ©es are reasonably priced, with the average cost being around $10. There’s a fully stocked bar with the requisite frosty margaritas, and an outdoor dining area as well.
For a complete menu and more information, visit Sylvia’s on the web at http://www.sylviasenchiladakitchen.com/.
In: Uncategorized23 Apr 2006
When my daughter and her best friend received their band performance gowns the night before the concert, the only choice this non-sewing mom had was to use Stitch Witchery to take up the hem. (Stitch Witchery is a bonding tape that melts when ironed, effectively gluing the fabric together.) The gowns â€“ long, black, polyester numbers â€“ each had about a foot of excess length, but the Stitch Witchery did a good enough job until I could get it to Spirit Alterations a week later.
The lady that helped me was very nice and patiently accommodated two giggling teenage girls. Thankfully the girls managed to hold still while the lady pinned the hem, however, even if they had been squirmy (think little kids), her hands were steady and I think she would have pulled it off with aplomb.
We didnâ€™t need them right away, and even though she could have had them done within a day, we opted to pick them up about two weeks later. When I picked them up, the hems were perfectly straight and exactly the right length. The dresses were ironed and hanging neatly on their hangers, ready to go to the next concert. (And God bless her, she managed to get the Stitch Witchery residue out, too.)
I absolutely recommend Spirit Alterations, and will definitely use them again. They are located at 1660 S Dairy Ashford Street, Houston, TX, 77077, on the northwest corner of Dairy Ashford and Westmere Streets.
Note: They are listed in the phone book as Spirit Cleaners, however, the signage clearly identifies them as Spirit Alterations.
I blog of gadgets and digital hijinks.