Friday, April 30, 2010

Hitachi Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill and Impact Driver

I'm a planner (in all caps). So if Father's Day is 2 months away and I haven't figured out my husband's gift, I'm behind schedule.

In truth, I'm working on a rain barrel (post coming soon!) and our drill died. I need a new one to finish it, and Father's Day is conveniently close, but...shh! Don't tell him.

Shopping for a drill turned out to be like shopping for a digital camera or a computer--the choices overwhelmed me. Prices range from $30 to several hundred dollars. There are many different brands. And each brand has a variety of cordless drills.

So, I called my brother, a tried and true handyman, who also makes purchases very carefully. He guided me on my choice--he loves his Makita. However, he said, "If you're in the market for a cordless drill, you might as well get an impact driver." Huh? What's an impact driver? He explained that it makes driving screws easier, that he uses his 95% of the time (his drill the other 5%), and that he could never work without one again.

So I proceeded to look for a set: cordless drill + impact driver. Finally, I narrowed it down to two:

Hitachi KC 10DFL

  • 10.8 V Lithium Ion Cordless Drill (DS 10DFL)
  • 10.8 V Lithium Ion Cordless Impact Driver (WH 10DFL)
  • 2 batteries that are interchangeable, a charger, and a nifty bag

Makita LCT203W
  • 10.8 V Lithium ion cordless drill (DF030DW)
  • 10.8 V Lithium ion cordless impact driver (TD090DW)
  • 2 interchangeable batteries, a charger, and a nifty case
  • $149 in-store @ Costco (or @

My brother told me to get the Makita. He's had his for 10 years and has loved it. I read this review and this review. Both sets include the same features. Costco has an AWESOME return policy. The Hitachi set has a 10-year warranty.

I bought the Hitachi. Why? It's hard to say. I'm quite sure I would be happy with either one. I think the Hitachi edged out the Makita, because it was $10 less, and I was already at Lowe's. (Costco's next door, but I was tired...)


  • The voltage levels were a little confusing to me. The Hitachi and Makita at 10.8 V is actually the same as many other drills advertised as 12 V. You get 12 Volts at maximum power, but the average over the life of one charge is 10.8 Volts.
  • Here are some other resources I used: Consumer Reports Home and Garden Blog,, Cordless-Drill-Reviews, Popular Mechanics, Consumer Search, How Stuff Works.
  • To all the women out there: Don't be afraid of power tools! Just start off by squeezing the trigger a second or two. Pretty soon you'll be the next female version of Bob Vila.
  • The combo kit provided the best value. Priced separately, the Hitachi runs $200 or more. The Makita tools separately will cost you about $200 as well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Better than Meds

Enjoy some free therapy on my niece's blog.
Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bavarian Fruit Torte using blackberries on sale at Sprouts

Starting tomorrow blackberries are on sale at Sprouts for 88 cents (per 6oz container). I'll be hitting the store tomorrow so I can get last week's deals, too (cantaloupe, 2 for $1)!

Need ideas to put the blackberries to good use? Try Bavarian Fruit Torte. I have added it to my repertoire of favorite dessert recipes.

Bavarian Fruit Torte

Shortbread crust:

1 1/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1 t grated lemon zest
1/4 t salt
2/3 C finely ground pecans
8 T butter
1 large egg yolk
1/4 t vanilla

Bavarian filling:

1/2 C fresh lemon juice
1 C sugar
3 T water
1 1/2 envelopes gelatin
1/2 t orange flavored extract
2 C whipping cream
2 C strawberries (diced)
2 C seasonal berries

For crust:
Whisk together in a bowl or process in a food processor for 10 seconds the flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and grated pecans. Add butter. Mash with the back of a fork or process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix with a spatula or process just until the dough comes together in a ball. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Thoroughly prick the bottom with a fork. Bake in a 400 F oven for 18 to 22 minutes, or a deep golden brown. Chill 15 minutes.

For bavarian:
Stir together juice, sugar, and water. Sprinkle gelatin over and soften 1 minute. Heat over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved. Add orange extract and set pan in cool water. Whip cream separately; add gelatin mixture when cooled. Fold in strawberries and pour into springform pan. Chill for several hours and serve topped with mixed berries.

This recipe comes from a few different sources. I got the original recipe in the mail as a realtor's advertisement; however, I didn't like the crust in that recipe. I combined Joy of Cooking's recipe with another one I found online.

Speaking of blackberries, would like to know how my garden grows?
These are the wild blackberries that we have trained to our side of the fence. They should produce bountifully this year. I can't wait!

  • Here are some healthier modifications to the Bavarian Fruit Torte recipe: use whole wheat flour in the crust and substitute light whipped topping for the whipping cream.
  • Make sure you chill the torte long enough. It may end up slumping off your springform bottom and all over the counter, perhaps even dripping onto the floor. How would I know, you ask? No comment....
  • I have tried using just blueberries, just strawberries, or a mixture of strawberries and blackberries. I think any combination of berries would taste great!
  • I highly recommend Joy of Cooking. You can find it for less than $10 here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Additional 50% off at Children's Place

Winter/Spring clearance season is upon us again....
Head to Children's Place to find great prices on clothing for your child.

Click on the image to find your nearest store.
  • Find additional clearance online.
  • If you get invited to lots of baby showers, this is a good opportunity to stock up on baby gifts. My mom taught me to buy baby clothing gifts a little bigger (18 mo to 3T). New moms tend to receive plenty of newborn clothes, but not much else.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Additional 40% off at Ann Taylor Loft

My little sister used to work at Ann Taylor, so I got a lot of discounts and hand-me-"ups". She got me hooked on Ann Taylor for dressy fashion and Ann Taylor Loft for more casual fashion. Even though she doesn't work there anymore, I still love to hit their clearance sales like this one.

My picks:


  • Take 40% off the lowest listed price. That will be your final price.
  • Check your local Loft location, where they might have a bigger selection and even deeper discounts.
  • I am willing to pay a little more for Ann Taylor/Loft clothing, because they are good quality. My sis started working there about 15 years ago. I have some classic Ann Taylor items in my closet from around that time that I still wear, and they still look great.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Urban Outfitters $5 Sale

Urban Outfitters has a bunch of stuff on clearance for $5 or less--mostly accessories, but worth checking out.

Here are my faves:
Kiss Me I'm Irish Tee (this one's for you, Heather)
  • The sale is online only. To make it worth the shipping, get a lot, or share an order with a buddy.
  • Even though this sale is advertised as online only, my guess is that the store has a lot of great clearance, too!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels

Travelocity just added a new service: Top Secret Hotels. It works just like That is, you see the price, the general location, and the hotel rating, but not the name, before booking the hotel. After you pay, then you find out the exact hotel. I generally book hotels this way. Never have I experienced disappointment in the value. More often, I have been pleasantly surprised (once to the utmost) at the level of luxury for the amount of money.

Also, I have taken advantage of Travelocity from the start (years before my husband began working for its parent company). My experience with their customer service has been fabulous and they consistently have competitive rates.

The combination of Travelocity with my favorite hotel booking method fashions my perfect universe.

Even better, right now they have a promotion for a 2+ night hotel stay. Here are the details:


If you haven’t seen the exciting news already, Travelocity is pleased to announce its brand-new product: Travelocity Top Secret Hotels. It's the new, easy way for our customers to get unpublished discounted prices (up to 45% off) on 3- and 4- star hotels. We also let customers know the price upfront, so there's no guesswork when they book and no hassle of bidding (like some of those “other” guys).

In fact, a recent customer paid only $101 for a 4-star hotel in Chicago that normally would have cost $207. And a customer headed to San Francisco paid just $112 for a 3-star hotel which normally cost $202. Impressive indeed! And now we’re going to fill you in on a little secret on how to save even more.

Want an answer to “Can you get me a discount on travel?”

Yes! First encourage your friends and family to visit our site and book a Top Secret Hotel with their American Express card and enjoy $20 off a two+ night Top Secret Hotel stay when they enter the promo code AMXSECRET20. Don’t have an American Express card handy and need to use a different card? We’ve also created a “secret” introductory Friends and Family promo code, SECRET 20 they can use for a limited time as well.

Happy travels!

The Travelocity Team"

  • The hotel booking is non-refundable. So be certain of your travel plans before paying.
  • You can either use the link above to visit the Travelocity Top Secret Hotel website, or you can simply start your hotel search on the Travelocity home page. The results will include a Top Secret Hotel option at the top of the hotel list.