Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to (Properly) Clean Your Water Bottle

I'm trying to do better at drinking more water.

I've found that I drink more water (without consciously thinking about it) if I drink out of a straw or straw-type water bottle as opposed to out of a glass or open container. Not sure why, I just do.

I really don't like to reuse a water bottle more than a few times before I was it. Just doesn't seem clean to me.

So I swish some hot, soapy water around and run some through the straw and wipe around the mouthpiece.

Then the other day I was looking closely at my Camelbak water bottle, and this is what I saw:



You see that?!


Besides sparkly lip gloss smudged on the outside of the mouthpiece, there was "stuff" on the inside, too!

I started yanking on pieces so that I could thoroughly clean the mouthpiece area.

I never realized the mouthpiece came off; this could explain why it was accumulating/growing gunk.


So, fully disassemble your water bottle.


Besides using hot soapy water, you can also rinse with a vinegar wash.

You can use one part vinegar to one part water.

Please, do not use bleach on things you will eat off of. It's just not safe. Vinegar has the ability to kill bacteria, too! You can use vinegar to sanitize so. many. things.

Your humidifier.

Your floors.

Toys.

We also purchased a bottle brush to clean the insides of our water bottles. It came with a little end piece with an itty bitty brush on it.


Perfect for cleaning the mouthpiece!


Now you can thoroughly clean your water bottle!

Scrub gently with a brush.




Especially if you use a vinegar solution, make sure to 

Rinse well.


And of course, 

Allow pieces to FULLY air dry before re-assembling.


So now you know!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September's Downtown Dinner Date

Well we sure picked a humdinger of a night to have a date night in Nashville. I stayed a little bit late at work, traffic was horrible on the way home, and it was pouring rain. I was trying to hurry so we could get to Nashville at a decent time.

But then I heard on the radio that Taylor Swift was having day 1 of her concert in Nashville. That pretty much convinced me that we SHOULD NOT venture downtown tonite. 

Too wet, too late, and too busy. 

So once again, our date night stayed in Clarksville. 

Chris had done some research by the time I got home and picked out a restaurant: The Cumberland Grille. 

Sounds fancy! I imagined a sophisticated, dimly lit bar and grille with prices on the menu listed as "14" instead of "14.00". 

Here is a photo of the restaurant I pulled from Google Earth:



Hmm, not quite what I was expecting.

Next door is a flower nursery. It literally looks like two buildings (and their parking lots) were glued together.

The parking lot was the size of a large driveway. There was a bit more parking in the back.

An interesting first impression, for sure.

We parked in the back; the front and side parking was full. That made me feel a bit better that they appeared to be busy on a Friday night.

We walked around to the front in the drizzling rain, and were greeted by a old-house smell upon entering. And not like an "ooo, grandma's cooking" smell, just old house smell. 

The tables, chairs, and decor were very basic, the carpet looked dingy, and it definitely had that "ma and pop" restaurant feel to it.

The hostess was friendly and quickly seated us in a booth in the back of the restaurant. There was a small bar and one tv with a football game on. We checked out the menu and quickly spotted our favorite appetizer - fried pickles! Of course we ordered them.


They were hot, crispy, and pretty good. A tad salty for my preferences, but overall we liked them. Chris ordered the Surf and Turf, which came with a side salad and a side for $17. I got the Catfish Dinner (insert Luke Bryan song here) and mine also came with a side salad and a side, in addition to my hushpuppies and white beans. I think mine was $11. Pretty good values!

The food was decent, not great. My catfish was my favorite part. The fish was piping hot, crispy, and flaky. Chris's steak looked good, but he said it really lacked any flavor. Our waitress was very friendly and attentive to our needs. Perfect service. She did a nice job handling the large party seated near us with a SCREAMING child and some very bizarre ordering preferences (who asks for a Caesar salad with salmon and then later asks for RANCH as the dressing AFTER the order has already been put in?!)


On the way home, we were deciding what to do for the rest of the night, a wave of nausea hit me. My stomach was NOT happy. I realized that everything I ordered was fried. Not a smart choice. We don't eat fried food very often. I don't know why I wasn't paying more attention to what I ordered. Some Sprite calmed my belly down, and we ended the night with a movie at home.

And then I showed Chris a new iOS 7 phone feature for the camera - hold the "take a photo" button, and it takes photos like crazy! Like 3 per second!

Ok, that's not exact, but it takes them crazy fast!

I used to hold that down and let go of it when Duke was holding still to get the best shot; I guess I can't do that anymore! But we had some fun with it:
That's it! The night probably could have gone a lot better. Chris and I both agreed we would not be returning to that restaurant. The service was the only good thing about that visit. I am hoping next month we can finally make it to Nashville for our Downtown Dinner Date. Third time's a charm, right?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Freezer Breakfasts!

Recently I have discovered how much I love breakfast. I have a bit more time in the mornings now I'm not waking up so early. In high school and college, I never really had much of an appetite before the sun came up. I really enjoy my days when I can have a slow start to my morning and cook up some eggs or french toast and savor a cup of coffee.

The mornings I do have to get to work, I find I am so disappointed that I have to grab a quick bowl of cereal, a granola bar, or worse...nothing at all.

The husband OBVIOUSLY needs a strong breakfast - he has morning PT and a full day of work (in a building with no A/C, mind you), so I realized I needed to find a solution to these early/busy mornings. Sacrificing, or having a sub-par breakfast, is just no longer an option for me.

After dragging my feet for a week or two, I finally buckled down and prepped my freezer breakfasts!

English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

Cook your bacon

IN THE OVEN,

ON A BROILER PAN.

I will never cook bacon any other way again.



Crack an egg into a spouted cup, and gently break up the yolk. Try to keep the thick albumin intact.

The what?

Basically the egg white has two parts, the thin and thick part.

Just google "image of a chicken egg diagram" and you will see.

Keeping the thick albumin intact will keep your egg from running all over your pan while you fry it up.

Pour the egg into your buttered pan.
 

My oven is not level, so my egg ran to the side of my pan. I was hoping to cook more than one at a time, but I decided not to.

Can you see the thicker egg white oval surrounding most of the yolk? That is the thick part of the egg white. When undisturbed, it shouldn't really spread like this egg did.


If your egg runs like mine, don't worry - use a glass to cut out a circle in your egg to make it fit on your english muffin. 

And keep the scraps - you can use them in breakfast burritos!


One down, 11 to go!


I had to drag Duke's bed closer to the kitchen so he could watch without being in the way!


What. A. Face.


I think he could smell the bacon cooking and it was driving him crazy!


I had quite a time trying to get my bacon cooked. I turned on the oven to preheat, and shortly thereafter, I smelled something burning. I was thinking to myself, I wonder what was the last thing I baked that's cooking off right now...

 And then the burning odor got really strong, so I opened the oven to see what was going on...
I vaguely remembered someone putting their child's leftover plate of food in the oven last week at the Platoon BBQ we had at our house...and there it was, all melted/burnt in the oven. I freaked out, and did one of those I-don't-know-what-to-do-first-so-I'll-just-turn-around-in-circles-for-a-few-seconds dances before I could comprehend and respond. It just so happened I had a floor fan in the next room and placed it in front of the open oven and aimed it AWAY from the smoke detector and whipped open a few windows. I used kitchen tongs to pick all the food and the melted plate out of the oven.

Small little setback.

But the bacon turned out great!

Later, I saw that Duke had crept closer.


Once all your sandwich components are prepped, you can now begin assembling sandwiches!
I sliced the bacon into thirds, and I used the same circle cutting technique on the cheese slices.
Just be sure to do them one at a time or else they will all stick together!

While toasting my english muffins, not even browning them, it set my smoke alarm off. Great. Scared me and poor Dukie.

I'm sure the cats hid under the bed upstairs, too.

MOVING ON...

English muffin bottom:


Cheese:


3 Bacon strips:


Egg:


English muffin top:


Then little Dukie decided not to listen to my command, and while trying to run away from me, he crashed into his water bowl (which I had just filled up) and spilled it allllllll over the floor.

I practically needed a mop.

So he got sent to his kennel.

Which is on the other side of the kitchen, so at least he still got to watch.


All wrapped and already in the freezer! I labeled them with a "B" for bacon, in case I made any more sandwiches and used sausage or canadian bacon. It's always good to know what's inside random stuff in your freezer!



Breakfast Burritos

At this point, I was really tired from my eventful cooking project. I looked around at my dirty kitchen (it was a mess, despite the nice photos), and after a few seconds of debating, I washed my skillet for a second time and got out the breakfast sausage to start assembling my burritos.


I saved my cheese and egg scraps from cutting circles so I could use them in my burritos. I used two rolls of sausage and I think I used 18 eggs...

Cook everything up, and assemble your burritos!


I wish I had some peppers. Or jalapenos. I think I would have added those.

I labeled these with an "S" for sausage. It made 13 burritos.


And during all this, I browned some ground turkey, and made some rice for a mexican "one pot" dinner!


Bag up the burritos and freeze 'em.

I

Was

Tired.

Bulk cooking is definitely exhausting, but SO worth it. Now we have 25 days of grab-and-go breakfasts!