Family * Travel * Food

Meet Our New Family Member, Bob #bobsweep

A couple weeks ago, we welcomed a new addition to our family. I can't even begin to tell you how happy and proud we are. He is perfect in every way!

Introducing, Bob. Bob came into my life to make my homemaking duties a whole lot easier. He sweeps, mops and vacuums on demand. This gives me fewer household chores to have to do which means more quality family time or even "me time". Moms need a break too!

bObsweep robotic vacuums are so easy to use. I received the bObsweep PetHair in the color rouge to test out in my home. This was a perfect choice since we have a dog who sheds everywhere. I find myself having to vacuum and sweep daily, and it gets tiring lugging a traditional vacuum all over the place. Bob comes packaged perfectly in a neat box with everything you need to get started. It comes with a remote control, accessories, charging unit, and instructions. I suggest you take a few moments to read the instructions and let your bObsweep charge fully before you attempt to use it.

I found that Bob bumped into the furniture a whole lot when I first used him. As time has gone on, he seems to be a lot smarter maneuvering around spaces. I love the remote control function for when I need to have Bob clean areas where I need to avoid certain spots. It is very important to be sure the floors are clear of loose cords and objects that you don't want to get sucked in. Bob is strong and can pick up toys and pens (ask me how I know). It is very easy to empty the dirt receptacle and I am always so shocked at how much it picks up!
Pretty impressive and disgusting at the same time, huh? 
Let me tell you, Bob is powerful. I must warn you if you have little ones to monitor them when Bob is in operation. We don't want itty-bitty finger or toes getting run over just in case they get a little too curious. It is recommended to clean the rotary brush (cleaning tool is provided) for any excessive hair or stringy items that can easily wrap around it. Also be sure to keep an eye on the filter to make sure it's not clogged. There is a nifty side brush that is so good for cleaning along walls and furniture. The bumper on Bob is really effective in protecting your furniture from getting damaged. I also love that it easily adjusts to different flooring types and heights with ease.

I really love how you can command Bob to return to his charging station when it is in range. My guests are so jealous of entertained by him. My son is even learning how to use the remote so he can guide Bob safely through different rooms. This is probably because he doesn't want any of his LEGO pieces to go missing :)

You can "adopt" your very own bObsweep PetHair and other bObsweep products through their website as well as on Amazon. This compact machine is sure to become a very important member of your family! We love the difference he has made in our busy lives. Be sure to follow bObsweep on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for product updates and promotions.

I received a bObsweep unit in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own as always. 

Easy Recipe-- Mini Cheesecakes

If you love cheesecake, are pressed for time or feel like you are a baking-dummy, this recipe is for you. It requires so few ingredients and bakes up in just 20 minutes. 
2 8-ounce packs of cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla or almond extract
12 vanilla wafers
Fresh fruit or topping of your choice

To make:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with 12 paper cups and place one vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup. Blend cream cheese with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until mixed. Add eggs, one at a time until well incorporated and then vanilla extract. Fill each cup with cheesecake mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and let sit out on a cooling rack in the muffin pan for about 20-30 minutes. Transfer pans in to refrigerator and chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight is best.
These mini cheesecakes are delicious with fresh berries and are great for portion control. You can double the recipe for parties.  It's so easy and absolutely delicious.  I have been making them for 20 years now! It's a family favorite. Let me know if you try this recipe. Enjoy :) 

The Most Perfect Garlic-Ginger Salmon {Recipe}

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you may know that I love to cook! I prepared some salmon the other day that was out-of-this-world and wanted to share the recipe with you all. This ginger-garlic salmon has so much fresh, savory flavor and pairs well with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. My husband absolutely loved it! No lie, if we weren't already married, he would have proposed! 
-Fresh salmon fillets (I used 2 very thick ones)
-1 extra-large clove of garlic
-a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled (using a spoon for peeling makes it easier)
-a small handful of fresh cilantro (you can substitute with parsley if you don't like cilantro)
-1 fresh lemon (cut up a few slices to top salmon)
-Assorted dry seasonings. Here are my favorites minus the salt.
-thin slices of salted butter

Set oven on high broil. Rinse salmon fillets in cold water and dry completely with paper towels. Place fish in foil-lined pan. Use a fine grater to grate garlic and ginger. Finely chop the cilantro and mix with garlic and ginger. Sprinkle seasonings on salmon to taste (do not add salt). Rub garlic, ginger and cilantro on fish, top with butter and lemon slices. Use remaining lemon to squeeze over fish. Place fish in oven under broiler until you start seeing a little brown color. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees until cooked to your liking. If you want it a little browner, remove foil before fully cooked and let it go for a few minutes uncovered. Enjoy!
Let me know if you try this recipe. Follow the hashatags #howtokeepahusband and #momfilescooks on Instagram for recipe ideas and cooking tips.

SPARQ Home Soapstone 16" Pizza Stone Review

I received a Soapstone 16" Pizza Stone from SPARQ Home for review. I have always wanted a pizza stone and couldn't wait to try this one out. I was so impressed with the way the pizza stone was packaged. It was wrapped with such care and detail that would ensure your stone would not be broken upon delivery to your home. 
The actual pizza stone is beautiful! I was wondering how on earth you are supposed to bake on it since it resembles something you can serve on. I decided to bake a frozen pizza last night. I preheated my oven and let the stone preheat for about 5 minutes before putting the pizza on it. The stone is very dense and heavy so it gets very hot. I was afraid that it would get too hot and burn the pizza crust underneath. I was pleased that it did not end up burning and my pizza had the most amazing crunch. Sometimes when I bake frozen pizza, the crust will brown too fast and the inner part of the bread will not bake enough. My pizza stone baked the pizza to perfection! It tasted like we got it from an authentic pizza restaurant. My family loved the texture of the pizza crust. I don't think I can ever eat frozen or homemade pizza unless it's baked on my Soapstone.  It was really easy to clean and because of how heavy it is, I will store it inside my oven.

Look at how gorgeous that crust is! Isn't the pizza stone so pretty too? 

Some details of the SPARQ Home Soapstone Pizza Stone: 

This Soapstone 16" Pizza Stone allows you to cook like a pro. Handcrafted from one solid block of soapstone, this durable pizza stone does wonders in baking with its even heat distribution.

The 16" is great for entertainers to host pizza night or can function as a cheese board to pass around the room. These stones are stain-proof, naturally non-stick, and can be used on the grill or in the oven to prepare that perfectly crisp, never burnt pizza you've been craving. All sizes are also available with a marble trivet, making these serving pieces oven-to-table.

Our 16" stone is handmade by SPARQ in Colorado by the guys who know soapstone and understand its amazing qualities. Plus, our pizza stones are eco-friendly because they are handmade with soapstone from factory excess.

The Pizza Stones come in 10, 12 and 16 inch sizes and can be purchased with a serving trivet. The 16" is such a good size and retails for $69.95. Once you use this stone, you will ditch your old pizza baking methods. I think I will try to bake cookies on it next. Any of these stones would make a great homewarming gift, hostess gift, wedding gift or even Mother's/Father's Day gift.

To find out more about SPARQ Home products, visit them online and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received a product sample for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.


Kicked-up Baked Beans (Easy Weeknight Recipe)

Need a quick meal idea for the work week? Try my easy Kicked-up Baked Beans and have a hearty meal on the table with minimal effort. 

2 Cans of Bush's Grillin' Beans (I use 1 Bourbon & Brown Sugar and 1 Steakhouse Recipe)
Andouille Sausage (or your favorite sausage) cut in small chunks
2 tbsp very finely diced onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder
cracker pepper to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar
a few dashes of Cajun seasoning  (I like Tony Chachere's)

Heat oven to 375 degree. Place beans in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add sausage and remaining ingredients. Lightly stir to combine everything. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Enjoy over your favorite rice.

You can easily adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. Andouille is spicy so you have to go easy on which seasonings you add. Let me know if you try this recipe.

Cleaning up the sick germs with CleanWell

We are going on week 5 of sick germs circulating in our household. As soon as one person gets better, another gets sick. It has been an ongoing battle and I am sick of it! Thankfully, I received some cleaning products from CleanWell just in time to clean the sick germs up.
CleanWell products are made with botanical ingredients to help kill germs and disinfect surfaces safely. This is especially good when breathing problems, small children and pets are involved. I love that these products have no harsh fumes and will give me the same results of chemical cleaners. I love the wipes for quick clean-ups on counters, tables and even the dog kennel. I tried the all purpose cleaner for the first time and was quite pleased with the results. I really like it for sanitizing the toilets seats, bathroom and kitchen sinks. It has a nice scent without it being overpowering. I am always careful about what I use around my younger children since they are allergy sufferers. I really like the CleanWell line of products and highly recommend them. There are sold at many retailers nationwide and you can check out their store finder for a specific location.

Be sure to check out Cleanwell on the web, Facebook and Twitter for product updates.

I received products for review purposes and all thoughts/opinions are my own as always.

Money-saving tip for buying butter in bulk #HouseWifeLife

I have a new love and he goes by the name of Sam, Sam's Club to be exact! I have become such a fan of buying in bulk. One thing that I have contemplated on buying for months was butter. It comes in 4 one-pound solid blocks. I spend a small fortune (about $3.50-$4) in the grocery store on butter in sticks, so getting 4 pounds for $8 is a bargain! 
I finally broke down and bought it this weekend and came up with a great solution. Why not make my own sticks? All I did was set out one block of butter on the counter for no more than 30 minutes. Next, I took a knife and sliced straight down the middle and then did the same with each half. I wrapped each quarter in wax paper. I put them in a zipper storage bag and placed the remaining 3 solid blocks in the freezer. The savings is worth the extra effort!

My latest homemaking find: Bounce Ironing Spray

I recently stumbled upon a product while I was shopping in Publix and knew I had to try it out. It is Bounce Ironing Spray. It's supposed to remove wrinkles as you iron and give a starched feel. The bonus is the signature Bounce freshness. I put it to the test on some of my hubby's shirts. I like the spray bottle instead of an aerosol can. It does not flake or leave any residue and his shirts had that starched feel which he really loves. 
The best part was the fresh scent of clean laundry. I have been ironing garments in batches and noticed that the Bounce scent stays on for days. If you are a fan of that fresh laundry straight out of the dryer scent, then I recommend you try this! Oh, and you must actually iron clothes :) I will warn you though, you have to use this in an open area because the scent can be overwhelming. If you get to try it, let me know what you think. 


Homemaking tip | Cook dinner early

I have been a homemaker for over 19 years now and I LOVE my job! I have met a lot of new wives and even new homemakers over the years and they ask me for advice on how I keep everything together. Aside from having my planning book, I do a lot of things at unusual times. I cook dinner (yes dinner) before 11:00 AM during the week. I know you are wondering why I do that. I find that when my husband is at work and the kids are at school, I get so much more done. By the time school lets out and my husband gets home, I am not trying to rush and exhaust myself by having to figure what to make for dinner at 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening.
By cooking my meal in the morning, I save myself the drama and can enjoy my family at dinnertime, stress-free. What I do is cook my meal and pack everything up in containers. I let it cool down for about 20 minutes and I place it all in the refrigerator until later. This also allows all of those good flavors to set in and the food tastes even better than it would if it came straight off the stove. I also don't have to worry about washing dishes, pots and pans at night. It really helps out a lot and I pack any leftovers up for my husband to take for lunch the next day.

Homemaking really comes down to time management. I like to get most of my "work" out of the way before my crew gets home. It gives me more time to focus on things they may need me to help with or just to have a more relaxed evening. A more relaxed mother and wife makes for a happier household!

If you have any homemaking tips you would like to share, I would love to hear them!
Shelly, Mom Files

A must-have for any parent | How I stay organized

I have been a stay-at-home mom/homemaker for over 18 years. One of the most important parts of my job is organization. I have to keep up with all appointments, school events, activities, sports, bills and everything else in between. I have found the best way to keep it all together is with an organizer. I specifically use one that is made for students. The reason why is the layout goes according to the school week. My life revolves around the kids so my calendar needs to do the same. Student organizers are also a lot cheaper compared to the traditional ones you find in the office supply stores. Those can run you $20 or more!
I bought mine at Target last year right at the start of the school year for about $8. I found out that if you wait until about the second or third week after school starts, they go on clearance for 50% off and eventually 75% off. I love the size of this one because it is big enough to write everything in, but small enough to throw in my bag if I need to. My husband has one and so do the girls. We all can't live without it! Since the last month of the organizer is July, I have to make sure to get a new one soon. I have tried putting appointments and events in my iPhone but I more prefer the old-fashioned method of writing it down.

How do you stay organized?
Shelly, Mom Files

#sponsored Get your dishes sparkling with Cascade Platinum Pacs and enter their #MyPlatinum Instagram contest

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I want to share a confession with you all. I sometimes get so exhausted from a full day of being a stay-at-home mom and homemaker that I leave dishes in the sink overnight or even forget to turn the dishwasher on. It happens and I usually end up regretting it! I can't stand dealing with all of the stuck-on mess the next day. I received a bag of the new Cascade Platinum Pacs to try out and the first thing that stood out to me was that it was their "Ultimate clean for dishes" and required no pre-rinse, fights grease and can even power through stuck-on food particles.
I am one of those moms that rinses the heck out of everything before putting them into the dishwasher. I decided to be a rebel and put crusty, dirty dishes in the washer for maybe the first time in my life! I even dared putting my plastic storage containers with a greasy film in as well.
I popped one of the fresh smelling pacs into my dishwasher and fired it up. I had no real expectations. It seems like most brands claim to do the same as the Cascade Platinum Pacs and I always end up with a film on my dishes. This time was very different. My dishes came out absolutely sparkling and gleaming! From each pot, pan, plate, glass and flatware... all of them came out beautiful!
You see this pot? It has stuck-on rice on the bottom and it is also 18 years old. Look how shiny and clean it is! I usually have to hand wash and scrub my stainless steel pots and pans. Cascade Platinum did the trick! I couldn't be happier! My previous dishwasher detergent will be getting the boot now that I have upgraded to Cascade Platinum.  

These days, so many of us love to snap photos of our delicious dishes we have prepared to share across our social networks. Since we eat with our eyes first, presentation is everything! With that in mind, Top Chef judge and editor of Food & Wine magazine, Gail Simmons, has partnered with Cascade to discuss why presentation is just as important as preparation. Check out this quick video from Gail sharing some plating tips. You can also access more videos and information on the Cascade Facebook page

Right now, Cascade is having a  "My Platinum" Instagram contest to show off your sparkling dishes and glasses. 
To enter, check out the Cascade Platinum page and here is some info: 
Show Us YOUR Sparkle & Win!
So show us how sparkly Cascade® makes all YOUR pots, pans, plates, glassware and silverware!
Enter† Cascade's #MyPlatinum Instagram Contest for a chance to win a KitchenAid® Kitchen Makeover and a 1-year supply of Cascade®! Weekly entries have a chance to win a KitchenAid® Dishwasher and six-month supply of Cascade® too!
Besides being a member of Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #MyPlatinum and tag @MyCascade to be eligible to win! 
Cascade will pick 2 weekly winners each week and one final grand prize winner. You might just be one of the lucky ones! Good luck. 
Shelly, Mom Files

I love to iron and that makes ME crazy?

I have been seeing a lot of talk lately on Facebook and Twitter about ironing your clothes. I find is astonishing that a great majority of people don't even own an iron. Some said that they have one, but would have no idea of where to find it. There were a few, very few that religiously iron. I enjoy ironing. Each and every morning, I iron my husband's work clothes (even on jeans day). I can't wrap my mind around the thought of my husband going into work in a wrinkled shirt or trousers. I feel like it is a reflection on the type of housewife that I am. It's my job. Call me old-fashioned, because I am... and rather proud of it too. It's funny that others think I am the crazy one because I do iron! I am thinking they are the crazy ones for walking around with wrinkled clothing on.

About a month ago, my beloved purple Shark professional iron died on me. I was devastated. I only had it for a little over a year and it quit on me. I really didn't want to get a new iron because the one I had was everything I wanted in an iron. I knew I had to get a new one right away because I could not find my back-up iron. Hey, doesn't everyone have a back-up iron? *winks*
I went to Walmart which is where I got the last one and they were completely sold out of the one I wanted. I had to get an iron right away because... because I just had to! I went with a Hamilton Beach which I grunted and groaned about. I did not want that brand but the alternative was going to several other stores and that was not what I felt like doing. It cost me about $30 and you know what? It actually works quite well. I loved my 1600 watt iron and this one is 1500 watt. I don't really see any major difference except the last iron had a larger soleplate.  It has a super long cord and great steam action. It also has the auto shutoff feature if the unit is left on for 15 minutes unattended. It was a great purchase. I really hope it will last me at least a year. I might consider purchasing a second one as a back-up since it was so inexpensive.

Another item I bought was the Faultless Maxx starch in the spray bottle. I usually get the one in the can and I am now trying to figure out why I have been doing that all these years. The Faultless Maxx is awesome and does not spray unevenly like the aerosol cans do. It also has a nice, light fragrance and leaves a crisp finish. I am so happy with my purchases and always looking for ways to make my homemaking more pleasurable. If you are looking to buy a good iron at a decent price, I recommend the Hamilton Beach Professional Iron with the stainless steel plate as well as the Faultless Maxx starch.

P.S.- YOU better not be laughing at me! :)

This is not a sponsored post and I purchased the above items myself. I just wanted to share my thoughts since I loved the items so much.
Shelly, Mom Files

The newest additions that make me love homemakin' even more

Last week, I witnessed something horrific that I hope I never have to go through again. I watched the top heating element in my oven burn and spark from one end to the other. I was devastated. I use my oven almost daily... sometimes even up to 3 times a day. What was I going to do? I have nagged expressed to my husband over the last 3-4 years how much I would love to upgrade my range and have a convection oven. We made plans to do this next year but I had to do something soon. I searched online and looked at dozen of ranges from different stores. I already knew that the option of convection would more than likely not be in my price range. I was so surprised when I found one that was affordable . I went with a Frigidaire Speed-Bake range from Lowe's. I would have loved the smooth top but since I cook in cast iron pots and pans a few times a week, I knew it wouldn't be a good choice. I had to stick with the old school electric coils. I am SO happy with my purchase and since Sunday, I have baked different things a total of 8 times. Hey, I need to get my practice with the convection feature!
I am loving the gorgeous color I have been getting on my sweet baked goods and the less baking time as well. I just roasted a whole chicken today and it was perfectly brown and crust on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside.

Another item I got this week is the Silpain baking mat. I reviewed the Silpat late last year and was excited to see what the Silpain was like. Silpain is different from Silpat because the surface is like a fine mesh that is made specifically for baking doughs and breads. 

I made my Cheese Spinach & Artichoke Crescents on the Silpain and I could see the difference with how nice and crusty the crescents came out.
Of course, there was no sticking so I was very pleased with the results. I am already making a long list of things I want to bake in the very near future. I better make sure to incorporate some low-fat and healthy items with the desserts and pastry ideas I have in my head :)

I just had to share my newest kitchen toys. If you own a convection oven and have any tips you can share, I would greatly appreciate it!
Shelly, Mom Files

Easy Shrimp & Grits {Recipe}

I made this yummy shrimp and grits dish for dinner last night and it was so good, I thought I would share my recipe. It was very easy and doesn't require a lot of ingredients or time. This was my first time cooking this particular dish and I honestly didn't know what to put in it. We were in Whole Foods (my new favorite store) and picked up a 2-pound bag of peeled and deveined Key West shrimp. I came up with the rest of the ingredients off the top of my head.
What you need:
1-2 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp rinsed and dried (I used 2 lbs)
1 lemon (I used organic Meyer)
Your favorite dried seasonings (you can see my usual ones here)
Sriracha hot sauce (optional but recommended)
3-4 tbsp pure butter
1 small chopped onion
couple cloves finely minced garlic
fresh, chopped Italian parsley
chopped roma tomatoes
Your favorite brand of grits cooked the way you like it.

What you do:
I like to get my grits started first since they take longer to cook than the shrimp. I cook mine for a minimum of 20 minutes and add some sea salt and a couple tablespoons of pure butter.

Next step is to season your shrimp with what you like. Avoid salt because some seasonings have enough salt in them already.

Heat a large skillet on high heat and add 2 tbsp of your butter. Add your chopped onion and saute for a couple minutes. Now add your shrimp and garlic and cook them for a few minutes. Squeeze in a little sriracha to taste and some lemon juice. Now add the rest of your butter (this helps make a sauce). Last, toss in your Italian parsley and chopped roma tomatoes. Take your shrimp off the stove so your tomatoes don't cook. Serve your shrimp over the grits and enjoy!

This meal took me about 25 minutes to make and my family LOVED it. It cost us about $20 for our family of 5. Not bad considering what a restaurant would charge for this! I think next time I will add some fancy cheese to the grits and maybe even some fresh chopped chives or scallions at the end of cooking.

Let me know if you try this recipe!
Shelly, Mom Files

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

I discovered these wonderful potatoes that Publix carries called Potato Inspirations. I decided to try them out since they were on sale. They came in a few different varieties, but I decided to go with the Honey Gold. They are smaller than a golf balls. I remembered a recipe I saw Michael Symon make and thought I would try to replicate it. The only difference is he fried his potatoes in bacon fat instead of baking them. Yeah, I didn't have a half gallon of bacon fat laying around so I had to improvise!

1 bag of Honey Gold Potato Inspiration potatoes or 2 pounds of very small potatoes of your choice.
a few tablespoons of olive oil
dry seasonings of your choice. I used sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, Cajun seasoning and Badia Complete Seasoning which are my staples.

All you do is rinse and boil your potatoes (whole) in salted water until they are starting to get soft, but not cooked all the way, about 9-13 minutes. Drain potatoes and smash each one with just a little bit with the bottom of a cup or small plate. Toss smashed potatoes in olive oil and dry seasoning and roast in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes. They come out slightly crisp on the outside and super buttery and creamy on the inside. I baked mine on the Silpat mat so they did not stick or brown unevenly.

What a wonderful side dish this is! I am going to try it next time using two different types of potatoes. I might make them for Thanksgiving too. They are so easy and delicious!

This was NOT a sponsored post :)
Shelly, Mom Files
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