Three hotel stay tips: how to stay clean

hotel stay tipsHere’s the thing: Hotel rooms are dirty.  Sure, they might look clean, but trust me, they aren’t. I’ve got a few tips to satiate the germaphobe in us all. Read on if you want to know how to stay clean in a hotel room!

Hotel stay tip #1: Lysol everything

Seriously, I carry small cans of the stuff with me when I travel and spray down the whole freaking room as soon as I put down my luggage (not on the bed). Start with the TV remote, then move on to the bed. Pretty much spray down any surface you might touch…especially the door handles and light switches. Continue reading

Have you heard of IT’S-IT ice cream sandwich?

Unless you’re from northern California, odds are you have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s sad.

IT'S-IT, WTF-Amy, ice cream, sandwich

I’m talking about the IT’S-IT ice cream sandwich…well, it’s the best ice cream sandwich,ever.

I’ve driven past the factory in the Bay Area and you can smell the oatmeal cookies baking.  Oh the cookies!

Add to that a big old scoop of ice cream.  My favorite was chocolate, but that was elusive.  Vanilla was the most common and so was mint for some reason.  Cappuccino was the back up for the chocolate. Continue reading

Wine Review Chateau Julien Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

WTF-Amy-Wine-Review-Cabernet-SauvignonI’m not sure how I found this wine from the Monterey/Carmel Valley region of California, but am I happy I did. Sadly, I haven’t been to this winery, but their website had a really cool map showing the different viticultural areas in the Monterey area.  I’ve been to Monterey several times.  It’s just wonderful.  Then again, most of the California coast is wonderful. It’s funny, but a good wine smells like a hutch that used to be my great-great grandmother’s.  For some reason, that piece of antique furniture smells like a good wine. So, what is Cabernet Sauvignon? Aside from red wine, obviously.  But according to Wikipedia (sorry for the reference), it’s one of the most widely recognized red wine grape varieties in the world.  Apparently, some time in the 17th century someone (a monk?) happened to cross a Cabernet Franc with a Sauvignon Blanc (both great wines) and voila! A delicious grape was born. Continue reading

Travel Goal: Visit all 50 United States

Travel, Goals, United States, AmericaMost people seem to think travel should involve far off, exotic places.  I aspire to see Iowa.  Seriously. One of my travel goals is to visit all 50 states.  So far, I’ve been to 25.

I set this goal one day after reading a blog post about life goals.  The term “bucket list” seemed too dark.  I liked the positive vibes and came up with a 50 state travel goal. Continue reading

Naughty wine no-no’s

Wine no-no's WTF-AmyYes, I am guilty of doing some things with wine that would make certain people gasp.  Please, learn from my mistakes. Like your parents told you, do as I say not as I do…yeah, I know. It doesn’t work.

WTF-Amy’s Top 4 wine no-no’s list

  1. Ice cubes in white wine.  My sister and I are guilty of this crime against wine.  You can see the evidence in the above photos. Yes, it waters down the wine and it’s especially heinous to do this to good wine.  It’s one thing to do it to a bottle of two buck Chuck, it’s another to do it to a $30 bottle from your wine club.
  2. Dinner parties. Some good advice I once read said that you should only bring a bottle of wine you are willing to lose. That doesn’t mean bring a crappy bottle. It means you might not get to drink what you bring, but taking it back would be so bad, so you should bring something good enough to share, but won’t break your heart if you don’t get to drink it.
  3. Milk or milk products in wine glasses.  Wine glasses can pick up odors, so no matter how much you clean them, there could always be a rotten milk smell to the glasses…slight as it might be.
  4. Filling the glass to the top.  I’m OK with this one at a restaurant…because I’m probably paying by the glass, but otherwise, no. The wine needs to breathe and I’m a little clumsy. Picking up a full glass is pretty much going to result in a nice red spot on your lovely white tablecloth. Do us all a favor and adhere to the 2/3 rule.  There’s always more wine in the bottle…or another bottle.

Are there any other wine no-no’s that should be on this or future lists?

Family Connection Travel: Santa Barbara Mission

The other day was DNA day, which got me thinking about family.

Previously, I lived in California. My father’s side of the family settled much of California. They came up from Mexico (which as then part of Spain) in the late 1700s and founded many of the big cities. One such city is Santa Barbara. About 5 years ago, I visited there for the first time.

What a lovely place! If you live in California, I highly recommend you visit. If you don’t…I still recommend you visit. Continue reading

Five Road Trip Tips…say that five times fast.

5-Road-Trip-Tips-WTF-AmyA year ago, I went on the road trip of my life. I packed up my Beetle and moved from California to Minnesota to move in with my then boyfriend (now husband). I picked up a few road trip tips along the way. Like don’t drive through Wyoming in months that aren’t June, July or August or you’ll get trapped by a snowstorm.

My family was big on road trips when I was growing up, so I’m a pretty seasoned road tripper. Is that like a Day Tripper? Now I’ve got that song in my head. Continue reading

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies-WTF-AmyI’m not a fan of fancy cookies. Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it tastes good. The first cookie I ever learned to make from scratch were chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is fairly simple, but making a good cookie takes talent.

Or maybe it just takes scientific knowledge? I’ve always thought baking was more scientific than cooking. You can’t really fudge the basic ingredients too much.  I mean have you ever forgotten to put enough flour in a batch of cookies?  How about the baking soda? You can forget to put salt on meat and it will still be edible.  In cookies? Not so much.

But, how do you get chocolate chip cookies to be soft?  The trick I’ve found is brown sugar.  This recipe only uses brown sugar. Also, I add in a teaspoon of molasses to give it a little more softness. I could probably add in a tablespoon and it would be OK, but again, science.

The best recipe I’ve found comes from Crisco. Odd, I know, but I use Butter Flavor Crisco in the recipe.  I swear it’s the brown sugar that makes it so good.  I suggest you get dark brown sugar.  Also, don’t cheap out on the chocolate chips. Use good ones like those by Ghirardelli or Guittard.

Anyway, here is the recipe if you are too lazy to click through to the Crisco site.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Recipe from: http://www.crisco.com/Recipes/Details.aspx?recipeID=2102
Ingredients
  • ¾ stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¾ cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions
  1. HEAT oven to 375ºF.
  2. COMBINE shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
  4. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.
  5. TIP * If nuts are omitted, add an additional ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

 

I think chocolate chip cookies are my favorite not only because of the chocolate, but because of the memories of childhood they evoke. Memories of baking them with my mom, eating them with my sister…good times. What’s your favorite kind of cookie?