Reason #832 Why I Love Working At Home With Pete

July 02, 2012   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations   //  By: Emily   //  37 responses

As of Friday afternoon…

We're engaged!

So we rejoiced with celebratory coffee, wine, cupcakes, and IKEA all weekend long. DIY projects and work, we did not.

Thanks to everyone who saw our subtle little announcement on instagram and twitter and extended well wishes!

Mowed Over

June 29, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Supporting Sponsors, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

Hi there. This post was made possible by Black & Decker—they sent me a 36V lawn mower to chase around my yard after participating in the #KICKGAS blogger event in March. The review is my own (both positive and negative), and publishing a review wasn’t required as part of the deal, I just thought it was worthwhile for those shopping for cordless, battery-powered lawn mower options.

Why not start out with a real-life vid, filmed by Pete. I’m not super chatty on camera but I think it gets the point across just fine (I figured any audio would be replaced with music like my tiller and trimmer reviews, but then I nixed the music plan so you could hear this baby purr). Never fear, I did supplement the video with texty captions. So go ahead, enjoy it in silence.

Back up for a minute. A little bit about me and my lawn mowing experience:

  • I was hired as the family “groundskeeper” during high school. It involved mowing my parents 1.5 acres of open, grassy, gloriously woven-with-hard-to-mow-around-gardens in exchange for cold hard cash that I bought things like overpriced American Eagle shirts with. I should probably put this on my resume.
  • Dad claims his lawn mowers were self-propelled but I doubt it. If they were, I never once used the feature. Just another trigger on the machine that I didn’t know how to work. I could fill it up with gas, I could pull-start it, and I could push it. #groundskeeperfail
  • From pushing the lawn mower all those summers, I had great arm muscles. Also, a great SPF-approved tan. And I tried to dribble lemon juice in my hair for eco-friendly hair streaks. For real. Not really relevant here, just a factoids that someday I’ll want to read back upon myself.
  • In the time since I bought my house, I’ve had two gas lawnmowers. One, a freebie find that was rusted out and probably older than I am, but always started, and worked well. Last summer or so, I upgraded to an old one that my Dad had retired but stored away. It’s a little hard to start, but bigger than my rusted out model and still gets the job done. I’m saying this because if you think you have to spend a lot of money to get a good lawnmower, you’re wrong.
  • I can push-mow my entire .10 acre lot in 20 minutes or less. Easy peasy. Why people have riding lawnmowers on <.5 acre lots in the city, I have no idea. And yes, if you do and you can still walk, I’m looking at you.

Until I had tested out the 36V cordless lawn mower at the Black & Decker blogger event, I had still never experienced the thrill of self-propel. In my old age, I’m a little bit kurmudgeonly about giving up all control, but I think I’m getting used to it.

What’s to get used to, you ask?

Well, it goes damn fast. Even on the turtle setting. I haven’t tried rabbit because I’m afraid of running over my dog by accident. As you saw in the video, sometimes he decides thoughtfully to gnaw on a stick in my path. Smartie pants.

Turtle to rabbit on the Black & Decker 36V lawn mower.

When it comes right down to it, self-propel is not my friend. I imagine that most of you reading this are used to it, but for me it’s uncomfortable and feels a little out of control; I can’t pull back and clean up a missed edge easily. I can’t make quick pivots in the grass without feeling like I’m switching gears at the wrong time in a stick-shift. I don’t drive stick-shift either, although I know how to, sort of. Maybe there’s a trend here.

While self-propelling during long stretches of lawn, it’s comfortable. I can see it being great in my parents yard, where you’re pacing up and back the 200-ft. lawn all day, but in the little lawn, I just prefer pushing and maneuvering the mower myself because every 8 steps, you’re turning directions.

And that brings me to my second (and only other) beef: Without self-propel activated, it’s heavy. A full body workout. Heavier than my old gas mowers, most of this can be attributed back to the battery since you saw me pulling the body of the mower out of the shed pretty easily before the battery was clipped into place. Maybe you’re just thinking I’m a weakling now, but I have some muscles. I often carry 37-lb. bags of dog food through PetSmart without a cart, 2x8x12 boards through Lowe’s, and on occasion I burst my muscly knees through my jeans. The above video, and this picture, are evidence of that denim destruction:

Me, mowing the lawn with my new Black & Decker mower.

Pete, on the other hand, loves this mower.

There are some things I do like too:

  • It’s really quiet. I don’t feel like I’m waking up the neighbors if I mow at 8AM. I don’t feel the need to wear ear protection (and I’m kind of anal about ear health in my home improvement projects).
  • The height adjusts really quickly, easily, and evenly. And I can set it so low that it mows the lawn like a fairway (always the part of the golfing experience that I’m most impressed by: course maintenance).
  • It’s the first time I’ve owned a mower that bags (or mulches) the grass. Win. No grass cookies for Cody to eat and digest, it’s just neat and clean.
  • The battery lasts. We were told that the 36V battery would take care of 1/3 an acre per charge, which I realize is a lot less than many of you might have to mow, but we can get through our 1/10-acre lot and our neighbor’s identical lot (because Pete’s nice like that), and only lose one bar of charge. Pretty good, if you ask me.

Aw yeah, maintaining charge.

I’ve had this mower for about a month now, so the review isn’t based on my first user experience. If you’re in the market and you have additional questions, feel free to drop a note in the comments and I’ll be happy to try and answer.

If you’re looking for a quiet, eco-friendly, cordless lawn mower solution (and happier with self-propelling action, which I assume most of you are), consider the Black & Decker 36V mower. 


DIY Network: Picnicking Like A Pro

June 28, 2012   //  Posted in: Beach, DIY Network Projects, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  one response

… although, what’s there to be a pro about when you’re picnicking?

We’re picnic lovers. After all, we spend our days hunting beach glass, getting manicures and pedicures by trudging through the natural sand, and, well, eating a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs all summer long.

In this week’s post on DIY Network, I showcase a few of my recent picnicking finds. Tools of the picnicking operation, if you will. Tools that can turn even the novice picnicker who brings a turkey sandwich to the beach into someone who’s going to find themselves sitting out underneath a tree lathered with SPF 30 and tending to their grill whilst chomping on three bean salad. Just check it out, and start to plan for the weekend.

Life is good. Go have a fun picnic.

Life’s good. Have a picnic.