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Q&A | Four quick ones!

Sometimes I get Q&A submissions that require a whole post (like the one about patience), but today I’ve got a few quick ones.

You mentioned LED  twinkle lights in a Thankful Thursday post. Can you show us a photo and tell us which ones you have?


twinkle lights on a wall.

Sure! Zoe had a string of them last year, and then when we needed to decorate our Cookie Monster tree last year, we bought a second string.

How to make a Cookie Monster Christmas tree

The lights look a little bit purple in this photo, but it’s just an illusion. They really are white!

If you are curious about the Cookie Monster tree, here’s the whole story.

white lights ona gray bedroom wall.

Anyway! You wanted links to the lights:

Here’s the starter pack we have.

And then the extension pack is here.

tiny lights on a gray wall.

We got the starter pack back in 2018 and that string is still going strong. So, that’s a pretty big thumbs up for the longevity of the lights.

May I ask how and where you store your sewing machine when it’s not in use? I keep thinking about wanting to get one someday, but I’m not sure how bulky they are and if they typically come with some kind of storage box/vinyl cover or bag for them. If it takes up a lot of space, then it may be a no-go for me. I just keep remembering back to my mom’s old sewing machine back in the day and it was HUGE with a giant plastic box that it was stored in . . . !


I just keep it on a shelf in our lower-level office room.

a white sewing machine on a closet shelf.

It’s not super convenient to have it there, but I don’t really have a good place to keep it out all the time. Plus, since I mend only occasionally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have it sitting out all the time.

So, it goes in the closet, on top of my sewing box and I just grab it when I need to use it.

I really enjoy your bread recipes – they all turn out great! Your French bread is SO easy! And now that I finally have a stand mixer, I’m digging into them even more.

I found your recipe for potato bread, and you mention that you might try it with whole wheat. Did you ever try that out? I know I can just swap it out for about half of the flour, but wondered if you liked the flavor.

Also, I can’t figure out if I should make sandwich bread with all-purpose or bread flour. How do you decide which to use? (other than following the recipe, that is).


I’m so glad my bread recipes are working well for you. Yay!

I’ve made potato bread with a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat flour and that works just fine. Give a try and see what you think!

oatmeal bread cooling on rack

Bread flour has a high gluten content, so it makes breads a little chewier. This is awesome for things like pizza crust or French bread, but not as good for things like cinnamon bread or egg bread.

So, when I want something to be chewy, I reach for bread flour, but otherwise, I use all-purpose.

And for all non-yeast baking, I use all-purpose flour.

I was wondering if you can do an update on how you like your Miele vacuum?

Also, wondering your thoughts on this:  My 10 year old Dyson needs a new hose, so I bought it.  The reviews on the new Dyson hose (not a knock off) say that it only lasts a year.  So, would your replace the hose every year for $40-$50 each time or do you eventually just buy a new vacuum?  This is a frugal issue I struggle with and very much would like your opinion.


(Poor K, this question has been sitting in my inbox for several years. Ummm, better late than never?)

Overall, we like it! It’s still working well and it’s got good suction all these years later.

Blue Miele twist vacuum.

(In case you missed it, back in 2013 our original vacuum had a kid-induced tragic end to its life, and we bought a Miele to replace it.)

This is the longest I have ever owned a single vacuum, so I think the $399 price tag was worth it.

Right now, our cost has averaged out to $50/year, and I imagine that will keep going down because it doesn’t seem like our vacuum is anywhere near dying!

A vacuum hose.

Of course, a few years ago, we mostly got rid of our carpet; we just have a big rug in the living room and then carpet in three bedrooms. So, our vacuum doesn’t get quite the workout it did a few years ago.

And as of last winter, we got a robot vacuum, but that mostly runs on our hard floors, not on the carpeted floors. So, I’d say the robot vacuum has not significantly reduced the amount that we use the Miele.

A black robot vacuum on a wood floor.

Now, about the Dyson hose issue: based on the fact that my Miele has lasted eight years (which averages out to $50/year so far), I think it would make sense to upgrade to something like a Miele. I’d rather make a one-time purchase than buy hoses every year.

I don’t think Miele makes uprights anymore, but I saw some used/refurbished Twists available on sites like eBay or Mercari.

Also, you could check a vacuum store/repair shop in your area as well because they sometimes sell used vacuums that are in good shape.

Readers, if you’ve got input on any of these questions, add your advice to mine!

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Thursday 16th of December 2021

All Miele products are awesome! Here in Germany you can buy replacement parts as well but I have never needed anything for our 8 year old vacuum. The washing machines are also great . We buy them used. My last one lasted over 16 years…11 with us.


Thursday 16th of December 2021

I got a Miele compact a few years ago (thanks to your review of vacuums) and I love it. I just looked, and here in Canada it’s the same price now as what you just quoted you paid for your upright, so it’s probably a bit less in the US.


Wednesday 15th of December 2021

When we moved and I got my own office, I bought a secretary-style desk to go next to my computer desk. I keep my sewing machine in there so it's out of sight but super convenient to use. I know not everyone has the space for that but it's been an awesome solution for me! It's a great little workspace for lots of things.


Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Shark Navigator owner here, I liked my first one so much I bought a second many years later for the basement. I don't like to carry it up and down stairs. They are not the same quality material wise as the older versions. Hubs found an Animal Dyson someone was throwing out. He could not get it to turn on, he cleaned the filter which was completely plugged and it turned right on. I gave it to my son who has a golden retriever, he needed it more than I.


Wednesday 15th of December 2021

We have a Miele canister vac, bought ten years ago and still working well, for the heavy cleaning and use a robot vac for the every day floor dusting. The Miele was caught on a great sale and I was attracted to it because I have terrible allergies, which did improve after we started using it. I suspect it could use a tune-up because it used to nearly suck the upholstery off the chairs at a medium setting and now it takes the high setting to do that. Our three long-haired dogs do give a vacuum a work-out.

All my sewing stuff, my out-of-season clothes, our luggage, and heavy winter bedding are stored together in a closet three and half feet wide and one hanger deep. It's a masterpiece of organization, but the sewing machine does sit out on an writing table style desk that is now my sewing table because I use it constantly. I sewed a cover for the machine to keep the cats from playing with the spool of thread on top. :)

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