Mom Hack: Camelbak Bottles

Camelbak Mom Hack

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This…this is the water bottle that saved my sanity.

Camelback Water Bottle

Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but not by much.

About a month or so ago now, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Large Families on Purpose by Erika Shupe. While we don’t have a large family by most standards and certainly not as large as Erika’s, her organizational tips and tools are right up my OCD alley. She lives with her husband and their nine children in an 1100 square foot house in Washington state. Every space, every minute, every car, every closet, every cabinet is meticulously organized, and this organizational masterpiece is cataloged on her site. I’m considering moving in.

When I got to her post about the sippy cup madness, I knew I’d found a fellow sufferer.

In our house lives this little person. His name is Ty.

Ty Ring Pop

He likes to swim, nap, watch Curious George, take long walks on the beach, share Ring Pops with his sister, and eat the straws off of his sippy cups. Yes, we feed him regularly.

Exhibit A:

sippy cups edited

And while this, in and of itself, is reason enough for me to chuck the sippy cup altogether (choking hazard much?), there’s also the matter of the sippy cup cabinet.  Every time I reached into that dad-gummed thing, something fell over, creating a domino effect. I’d spend the next half-hour trying to figure out which straw went with which cup and where the blue top was.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Enter Erika’s post. She blogs that she invested in Camelbak water bottles for all of her children. The gist is that she uses the smaller-sized bottles, like Ty’s dinosaur bottle, for the smaller children, while big kids get a full-sized bottle. Every kid gets a different color. Each morning, one of her older children fills each child’s bottle with water, and the bottles are stationed, all day, at each child’s place at the kitchen table. No more kids asking for a drink of water…constantly. No more spills. No more, “Whose cup is this?” No more, “Where’s your juice?” No more finding cups of milk days later in the toy box. No. More. Eating. Of. The. Sippy. Straws. Over.

Throughout the day, she has an easy read on how much water each child is drinking, which may not be a huge deal in the soggy Northwest, but here in Texas, it’s a thing.

I loved this idea so much that I bought, that very day, this bottle for young Ty. They’re a little bit pricey, but at the rate we were chewing going through sippy cups (and my sanity), this has saved us a half-ton of money.

Camelback Water Bottle

Each day he drinks out of it, and I keep a mental note of how much water he’s had in the 100-degree Texas heat. Each evening I rinse it and lay it out to dry. Every so often I run it through the dishwasher. And the best part? He doesn’t chew the straw!

I loved this idea so much that, when my punk nephews (Auntie Heather loves y’all!) were coming to Texas for a visit, I bought them each one, too.

nb collag 2

They’re a little bit pricey, but at the rate we were chewing going through sippy cups (and my sanity), this has saved us a half-ton of money.boy got a different color and nobody got their juice stolen. Eeeeeeeverybody’s happy. I’d have paid twice that for the sheer argument-less value alone!

Now that The 30-Day Exercise Challenge is upon us, I’m thinking of getting one for McKenna (age 14) who’s going to be Shredding with me (not by choice but graciously, nonetheless) and, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get one for myself.

I love this turquoise color. It makes me feel peaceful. When one is Shredding anything that makes one feel peaceful is more than welcomed.

Camelbak bottles are BPA-free. They have glass options too, but that doesn’t fit a two-year-old’s lifestyle. They also provide a lifetime guarantee on them. Finally, and this is my favorite part, the straw and spout are easily replaced by purchasing an inexpensive straw kit. I got the boys’ bottles at Target, but they are sold wherever sporting goods are. Amazon has them, too.

Now, go forth and reclaim your sanity, Mama!

Something I Love. It’s Colossal.

No, really. It’s Colossal.

About every 15th harvest or so, I buy new mascara. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. It’s not that expensive, really. Somewhere, in the deepest, darkest recesses of my childhood, I guess I picked up a use-it-until-it’s-gone mentality. This applies not only to my make-up, but also to a myriad of other things in my life. If I buy something that doesn’t quite make the cut, I’ll use it up rather than throwing part of it away, which is wasteful in my frugal brain.

Case in point: Equate cotton rounds. I’m working  my way through a package right now. I have little bits of cotton all over my face. And in my hair. And on my clothes.  Take my word for it: spend the extra dollar to get name-brand cotton rounds.

Anywho, this harvest was the 15th one in my mascara cycle, so I hunted around for a new tube.  I wanted my lashes to look like Kim Kardashian’s without having to go through the torture of applying falsies or the expense of having some woven into my natural lashes.

Yes, you can buy a weave for your lashes. No, I haven’t done it. Yet.

For about seven bucks, I now have lashes that appear to be longer, thicker, and fuller than they really are, thanks to Colossal. That is, I have them right up until I wash my make-up off, at which point, I couldn’t care less, because then I’m home for the evening with a plan to sit on the couch in my pj’s and watch Manhunters.

We really know how to get down out here in the boonies.

Seriously, buy the Colossal. It’s good stuff.

Over and out,

AinW

Note: Maybelline has no clue that I am endorsing their product. However, if anyone has a Maybelline connection and would like to inform them that I am selling their mascara for them for free and guilt them into providing me with a small stipend, I’m happy to relieve them of their burden of guilt. Guilt relief is just another free service I offer here.

The Perfect Cuban

One of my favorite things on this earth is a Cuban, but I’m very picky about my Cubans.  The perfect Cuban has nothing to do with cigars.

And, although we love Lucy, own DVD copies of the show, and watch them regularly, this is not the perfect Cuban, either.

The ultimate, perfect Cuban looks something a little more like this.

Crusty bread, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, creamy mustard, and pickle all pressed together into hot, melty, Latin goodness.

Prior to a recent quest for the perfect Cuban, my favorite one of these gems was actually at a little restaurant I like to call the Cheesecake Factory.  Here’s a peek.

Not bad, right?  I’ve also tried the Cuban at Bahama Breeze.  Not bad, either, for what a person can find in a decidedly non-Cuban environment.

However, knowing there was something better out there for me and dedicating myself to culinary excellence, I embarked on a multi-day journey in search of the perfect Cuban.

First, I tried this one.

Not bad. And the plantain chips were good, too. After I sprinkled some sugar on them. The bread, however, on this one left a little something to be desired, and the mustard was not creamy. Just French’s. Nothing wrong with French’s; it’s just not for a Cuban. The perfect Cuban.

Next, I gave this one a shot.

The mustard was creamier, but the bread was still lacking. And there’s not enough meat. I’m a carnivore. I need my meat!

Hoping that the third time was the charm, I gave this beauty a shot.

Perfect bread.  Perfect mustard. Perfectly roasted pork. Perfect ham. Perfectly melty cheese. Perfect pickles. Perfection. Made by a Cuban. Person, not sandwich. Or cigar. Or Desi Arnaz.

Where I found it might amaze you.  The perfect Cuban sandwich may or may not be served at the same place where one can rinse out his or her, um, unmentionables.

Ain’t no shame in my game.

Adios,

AinW

The Good Stuff

There are a few things I prefer these days. I was thinking you’d want to be apprised of the situation.

Thing 1:

These little jewels taste just like plain M&M’s, but with a hint of coconut.  And they remind me of the beach. It might be the coconut tree on the front of the package.

Here’s the thing: my household family members and I were biologically formulated for life in a warm climate, but currently live in a place where the temperature can range from 8 to 80. In the same week.

Sometimes, when I’m freezing here in the tundra and need a trip to the beach, I eat these with my eyes closed and pretend. I’m overlooking Diamond Head. The wind is blowing in my hair. Or, better yet, I’m on the North Shore, eating a burger from Kua Aina, watching the surfers.

Anywhere but the tundra.

It’s a limited edition. What that means is that I may or may not have stockpiled these somewhere in my house and will be rationing them to the masses once they go out of production.  I’ll be like Joseph in Egypt during the seven years of famine. Yes, I’ll be wearing the crown. No, I’ll not be wearing the loin cloth.

Thing 2:

All the oatmealy, mapley, brown-sugary goodness with lots more fiber. Quaker says that one packet has more than 40% of your daily fiber requirement. Layman’s terms: two packets have 80% of your day’s fiber requirements. It may or may not be a good idea to eat 80% of your daily fiber requirements at one sitting.

I’m not saying I did. I’m just saying you’ll want to think that one through, just in case.

Thing 3:

Crunchy. Cheesy. Salty. Good.

Thing 4:

Yes, I realize that two of these four things are oatmeal.  I can’t help it! It’s good! It tastes good. It’s good for one’s cholesterol. It keeps me from freezing here in the tundra.

This stuff really is good.  For a buck-99, I get 250 calories worth of creamy oatmeal which is chock-full of raisins, dried cranberries, brown sugar, maple syrup, and big chunks of crispy apple.

The best part? They sell it all day long…not just during the breakfast run.

There you have it. Go out and get these things today. I won’t be making any money on them because neither McDonald’s, nor Quaker, nor Mars, nor Frito-Lay knows who I am.  I’ll get my payment when you come for your coconut M & M rationing.

Prepare for the prices to be up. Way up.

Over and out,

AinW

Brownie Minis: Buy a Hundred Boxes!

Here’s something I’m lovin’ these days:

Chocolate two days in a row?

Addicted much?

I’ll admit that I probably should have stuck with my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction. It has no calories.  However, I understand that chocolate has health benefits that Diet Dr. Pepper just doesn’t have.

I “understand” that because I like it better.

End of discussion.

The other day, I was waiting for a four-hour cheer practice to end browsing my local Wal-Mart when I spotted this:

“Hmmm…” said I. Interesting.

I reached in, pulled one box off the shelf, and turned it to the side. This is what I saw:

You  mean I can have two of those suckers for just 150 calories?  That’s only 3 WW Points! That’s in my Points budget! SOLD!

And I threw a box in the buggy.  Just one because you never know about these things.

When I got it home, there was even more good news, besides the fact that the 150-calorie bit was right on the front of the box…not my most observant moment.

Everything you need, save a little water and Pam, is inside the box!  Just mix the, um, mix up with a few tablespoons of water, drop some into the INCLUDED pans, and bake.

That’s it!

And taste?

Warm, fudgy, chocolately, brownie goodness.

Going back to buy a thousand boxes,

AinW

P.S. Pillsbury was kind enough to post a “modification” on the back of the box whereby you press a small Reese’s peanut butter cup into the warm brownie bites as they come out of the oven.  Then, when they’re cooled you frost them with chocolate icing.  I’d like to thank the Dough Boy for attempting to sabotage my journey.

In closing, I’d like to say this, “It won’t work, Fatso!”

That is all.

Not a Great Value

Wal-Mart and I are in a relationship.

He (I’ve decided Wal-Mart’s a “he” because I’m decidedly heterosexual and it would be awkward otherwise) provides me with a plethora of bath products, Tylenol, bubble vests, and, on occasion, new tires for Lucy. Oh, and he never runs out of Peanut M&M’s. And all for a low, low price.

He’s the perfect man, really.

My love for his Great Value products is well-documented. However, I did want to take a moment to let you in a little secret: not all Great Value/Equate products are worth buying. I know. Take a moment and contain your horror.  I’ll wait.

The following is a list of items that you’ll want to buy in the name-brand version. Buy Great Value canned goods, cleaners, pain relievers, and body wash, but know this: the Great Value/Equate version of these products just won’t work. Spend the extra.

1.  Soft DrinksBuy Coke products, not Dr. K, Dr. Thunder, or Dr. Oz. Wait, they don’t sell that there. That’s for sale on Channel 3. Oh, and while I’m at it, please, whatever you do, don’t bother with Pepsi. Smells like feet and tastes like Linberger. Cheese. Ugh. But that’s just me.

2. Kraft cheese slicesThe GV stuff doesn’t taste as good and doesn’t melt as well on a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. Guess who, in my house, requests these on a recurring basis.

3. Little Debbie snack cakes Stick with what works. They aren’t that expensive to begin with.

4. Paper towels and toilet paperThere are some items you just need to be certain of, if you know what I mean.

5. Feminine hygiene productsYou’ll just have to trust me on this one.

You can now shop the Wal-Mart armed with knowledge. You can thank me later.

Inching closer to a tryptophan coma,

AinW

Colorful, Insulated Cups

At our house, we’re loving these:

Awhile back, Starbuck’s came out with some great, insulated cups with a permanent straw. I saw one. I wanted it. I lusted after it because I’m a water addict. I’m drinking water constantly, and bottled water gets expensive after awhile.  I’m what you’d call a heavy drinker, and I need solutions, people!

When I went to the Starbuck’s (that was back in the day, when I actually had access to a Starbuck’s…oh, for a caramel apple cider…*sigh*), I learned that the insulated cups cost a whopping $15!n Each! For a cup? Uh, no.

Well, this weekend, the Diva, Big Daddy, and I went to town, and we did a little shopping at Old Navy. When we were in the check-out line, I spotted these babies.  They were only around $5 each, a complete deal considering how much we could be spending on bottled water. The best part? They are insulated and, therefore, don’t sweat like the regular cups in my house.

I hate sweaters. Sweating cups, I mean.

We got 3, in different colors, so we know whose is whose.   I’ll give you $10 if you can figure out whose is whose. Okay, so I really won’t, but I bet you can figure it out. I mean, Divas need pink cups, right?  Big Daddys get blue. And me? I get what’s left over. Clear. the one with water. Natch.

Go to Old Navy and buy a thousand.

Happy Weekend!

AinW

P.S. Old Navy has no idea who I am. They are not giving me any type of kickback for marketing their product, though if any of you knows how I could get some, let me know. I’m not above it. Don’t judge me. You’re not above it, either.

Update (11-8-10): Mads notes these could make great stocking stuffers, too.  Go talk to the fat man, y’all!