Last week, it was a little quiet around here...I mean, crickets were chirping. Well, there's a good reason for my absence! I was on a Maytag Brand Ambassador trip! I got to stay in the oh-so-gorgeous Real Whirled House in the quaint lake town of St. Joesph, Michigan, and I also got to go to the World of Whirlpool in bustling downtown Chicago. (Go Bears!)
This trip was exciting for me for a lot of different reasons. First of all, my husband is originally from the Chicago area, and during my trip, I got to meet my Mother-In-Law, Dan's biological mother, for the first time. (HE hasn't even met her yet!) Also, we are die hard Chicago Bears fans. In addition to that, Dan's family owns a summer house in Harbert, Michigan, not too far from St. Joe. So in a lot of ways, by venturing to this region, I got to share parts of my husband's life that I hadn't experienced before, like seeing the Windy City and seeing the beautiful little lake communities on Lake Michigan where he spent every summer growing up. How cool is that?!
But the main thing that was super cool was that I got to learn SO much about the Whirlpool Corporation, who makes Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, and Whirlpool products. (Just to name a few!) 8 Maytag Moms were selected for the Real Whirled experience, and we got to get an inside look at this iconic brand, and even got to check out things behind the scenes.
I would love to take this opportunity to share the highlights of my trip with you all, and share some of the things I have learned. I am fairly sure that I know more about appliances than your average person now, and I went home feeling so much more confident about my already amazing Maytag kitchen appliances!
The Real Whirled House
The 8 Maytag Moms arrived at the Real Whirled House at the same time. This is a beautiful condo that is 2 levels in St. Joseph, Michigan, about 2 hours from Chicago. When we stepped into our temporary home, we were greeted by this cheerful bear....as well as tons of appetizers and champagne. The wines were actually sourced from local, Michigan wineries such as Tabor Hill, which is a brand I am already quite familiar with since my Father-In-Law always brings us wine from this vineyard on his way back from their summer home.
The Real Whirled House is absolutely gorgeous. It has 8 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, and 4 fully-equipped kitchens! Of course the kitchens are outfitted with only the best Maytag and KitchenAid products. One kitchen actually has the same exact appliances I do, so it was nice to enjoy something familiar during my stay!
I loved the decor in the Real Whirled House. There were wonderful accent pieces, tons of candles, and the place smelled absolutely amazing. The folks at Whirlpool really went out of their way to make this condo feel like home to us Maytag Moms.
Dinner at Bistro on the Boulevard
After we got all settled in to our posh new surroundings, we went out to dinner with Kasey from MomCentral (LOVE her!) as well as members of the Whirlpool team. We dined at an upscale restaurant on the Bluffs in St. Joe's called Bistro on the Boulevard. Their seasonally changing menus feature one-of-a kind appetizers, entrees, and desserts made with locally sourced ingredients. The Bistro was named “Region’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant” by Shore Magazine and is one of only two Southwest Michigan restaurants to boast Wine Spectators award of excellence for “one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world".
As soon as we entered this establishment, we were greeted by a spectacular Christmas tree. (The folks in St. Joseph really get into the Holiday spirit!)
We were seated at a nice table and served drinks and appetizers first. I ordered a fruity concoction that was full of coconut, and reminded me of something tropical. Yum!
We also got to enjoy some appetizers before dinner. My favorite was the Charcuterie Platter, which included local cheese, cured meats & antipasto. This was absolutely delicious! Of course I didn't eat the eggs or the salmon, but the rest was fantastic!
For the main course, I ordered the Blackened Ribeye. This was served with Chorizo mashed potatoes and creamed kale. My steak was juicy, well-seasoned, and cooked to absolute perfection. The potatoes were flavorful and had a little zing from the spicy Chorizo. The kale was creamy and delicately seasoned, rounding out this meal perfectly.
Exploring St. Joseph, Michigan
During our stay, we also got to explore St. Joe a bit. We went to have lunch at a great little place called the Pump House Grill one day. Sadly, I was starving and didn't take any photos of my meal. I got the Pump House Burger, which is a half-pound of premium beef topped with cheddar, bacon jam, and crispy onion straws. It was delicious!
We also explored several little shops and boutiques. My favorite was Moxie's, which is an upscale clothing store that carries brands like Karen Kane and Jagg Jeans. Another great one was a little shop that carries tons of local Michigan merchandise like jams, wines, and art.
After we had full bellies and got some retail therapy in, we ventured out to the beach! It was very, very cold, so there was no frolicking in the sand. But we did see some beautiful views and got to enjoy the (arctic) breeze coming in off of Lake Michigan! I can definitely see why this region was somewhere my husband spent a lot of time as a child!
Maytag Moms Can Cook!
We got to get a quick reliability cooking lab from Lyn, a published cookbook author and Whirlpool employee. She had a ton of great tips for us, from choosing the proper bake ware for desired results, to how to get the best performance from our Maytag appliances.
She even brought us a dinner menu complete with recipes, and we split into 2 teams to make our own dinner! I have always loved to cook, so I felt right at home! One team made pasta, cookies, and salad, and the other made broiled hamburgers, baked potato soup, and a cheesy foccacia bread. (I was on team Hamburger!)
Our meal was pretty good, but nothing like what I make at home. I guess I am a more experienced cook, so I add a lot more flavor to my own meals. The recipes we were provided were very basic though, to accommodate all skill levels. Still, the experience and the meal were both rather enjoyable!
Whirlpool Test Labs
We got to spend quite a bit of time at the Whirlpool headquarters in St. Joseph, Michigan. This, my friends, is where everything happens! From design to quality testing to product concepts, it all happens behind these doors.
Interesting fact: Whirlpool actually got their start RIGHT HERE, in this very building, 100 years ago! The company name has changed, the building has been expanded, but the core values and dedication to providing excellent products to their consumers has never wavered a bit!
Once we got inside, we were amazed to see this awesome mural in the lobby that chronicles Whirlpool's long history. Of course we had to get our picture taken here!
While we were at Whirlpool, we got to meet and speak with several of the top engineers. We also got to witness first hand the massive amount of quality control testing that takes place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whirlpool takes great pride in their appliances, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve performance and make sure these products will be dependable over many years.
I also would like to point out that every single person we had the honor to meet has been with Whirlpool for 20+ years. This says a lot about this company and the way they treat their employees. At Whirlpool, it's not just a workplace, it really is a family. I love that!
Here is a bit from the laundry labs. See how all of the machines are hooked up to odd looking devices? These actually monitor exactly what is happening inside of the machines under a variety of closely monitored industry tests. Each machine is fed the same amount of detergent and clothing, as well as different variables like sand, to test just how well the machines hold up in real world conditions. (Like peoples' homes!)
We learned all about Whirlpool's laundry testing, and it gets pretty in-depth. Not only does Whirlpool adhere to industry tests, they have quite a few of their own that exceed industry standards. Of course these are top secret, and I am not allowed to divulge this information. But let me assure you, Whirlpool goes to great lengths to make sure they take care of any issues before their products make it into your home. They test everything to and even beyond the life expectancy of their products. It's this dedication to quality that ensures you have a reliable product that lasts for many years.
We also got to learn a great deal about kitchen appliance testing at the Kitchen Labs. Many of this testing is top secret and photos were not permitted. Again, the folks at Whirlpool run thousands of controlled tests over the course of the year, and each test is done to find ways to improve their products.
While I cannot talk about most of the tests that happen behind the scenes, I can share this one with you! This is from the Dishwasher Labs. Each and every day, lab techs and engineers apply food to these dishes in a very controlled, systematic way. For example, these plates have egg, mashed potatoes, coffee grounds and jam, and meat sauce applied to them in the exact same amounts every single day. Then they're run through the dishwashers in the lab in different ways. Some are washed with clean dishes to check for redepositing of soils, and others are run in different rack positions. These folks test so many different variables, all in the name of bringing superior performance to their customers.
Want to know something awesome that I learned? This threw me for a loop! Did you know that it's actually BAD to pre-wash your dishes before using the dishwasher? It's true! You should not pre-rinse or wash your dishes before loading the dishwasher. I repeat: DO NOT PRE-WASH YOUR DISHES!
I never knew this, and was quite shocked to learn it. I actually spent so much time rinsing and pre-washing my dishes before this trip because I thought it was the right thing to do. Well, it isn't. As a matter of fact, it can be harmful to your dishes! The best thing to do is to scrape any huge chunks off of your dishes without rinsing completely, and then just run the dishwasher. The machine as well as your dish detergent will do its job, leaving your dishes clean. If you pre-wash and remove all food residue, your dish detergent can actually harm the finish of your dishes over time. Who knew?!
My teen is absolutely thrilled at this news, by the way. He has been yelled at SO many times for not rinsing his dishes when he's through with them. Guess I won't be harping on him anymore!
We also got to see just how the inner-workings of a dishwasher operate! This was really neat! They have a few units with transparent, sealed doors that allow the engineers to see exactly how the water is spraying inside the machines.
We had a great time learning all about Whirlpool appliances and the company's commitment to excellence. I left feeling so much more confident in my Maytag appliances after seeing just how much thought and attention to detail goes into every single product Whirlpool releases.
Goodbye, St. Joe....Hello, Chicago!
Finally, it was time to bid farewell to the Real Whirled House and make our way to Chicago to visit the World of Whirlpool. I was so excited to finally see the city my husband was born in, as well as the home of Da Bears!
We were greeted by one of the Whirlpool staff members and escorted to the World of Whirlpool. This place is amazing! When you enter, there are plush, purple seats in a gorgeous lobby. There are also outdoor dining terraces that would be amazing in the summer time. Every inch of the World of Whirlpool had and lovely decor, too.
First we were taken to one of the Maytag Kitchens where we were served lunch that was prepared by a talented, creative gourmet chef. Yes, our meal was, as my son put it when I showed him the photos, "Fancy-Shmancy". Whirlpool definitely knows how to make a gal feel special!
After our delicious lunch, we got to tour the World of Whirlpool. I was drooling over all of the beautiful appliances. Especially the KitchenAid Stand Mixers! I have wanted one for many, many years and they had so many on display here, including one with the Ohio state seal! (Did you know that a huge percentage of Whirlpool products are made in Ohio?!)
We also got to see some kitchens straight out of MTV Cribs. Okay, well they could be featured there. These are Jenn-Air Luxury Appliances, and they are simply stunning. Maybe one day, after I win the lottery, I will have something similar. Wait...I don't even play the lotto...That's okay. My Maytag appliances are awfully pretty, too!
After ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the great kitchens and appliances, we made our way to the Clock Tower for dessert. This was too neat! We even got to see them install the Christmas lights!
There are nice balconies outside of the Clock Tower, and we saw some breathtaking views of downtown Chicago. How amazing is this!?
Finally it was time to sit back, relax, and have some wonderfully decadent desserts. It was a nice way to end an amazing trip, and I was sad to see our time at World of Whirlpool come to an end.
We had Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies, Star Anise & Juniper Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Mousse with Caramel Sauce. Yum!
Overall, I had such a wonderful time during my stay in the Real Whirled. I met some amazing bloggers, finally got to meet Kasey from MomCentral, my favorite blogging network, and I even got to get to know some of the Whirlpool brand team members. Everyone was so nice, and they really made us all feel like welcomed guests.
I also learned a lot about the Whirlpool family of brands and about my own appliances. I came home with a wealth of knowledge and even started using my appliances in more unconventional ways since I understood all of the settings better! I already knew that Maytag was synonymous with quality and dependability. Now I know that this isn't simply a marketing ploy. It's a promise, and a commitment to their customers. The folks at Whirlpool strive to be the best in the industry, and they have definitely succeeded, in my humble opinion. I am proud to be a Maytag Mom, and I know one day, my Sophie will be a Maytag Mom, too!
I would like to sincerely thank the Whirlpool team and MomCentral for allowing me to experience the Real Whirled. I had a wonderful time, and am proud to be a part of the Maytag family!
***Disclosure: I wrote this post participating in an Maytag Moms Ambassador program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with a trip to the Real Whirled house to facilitate my post.***
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I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud mama of two munchkins and a teen. You can read more about me HERE. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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