How To Clean Your Bombilla

This post may not appeal to every one of the regular visitors to, but there continues to be a stream of traffic landing on my previous post, “Clean Your Bombilla“. This post is mainly for you, new and random cyber-guest! (And fellow yerba mate aficionado!)


Yesterday I decided it was time to clean my bombilla again. (You may recall my post, referenced above, about discovering that I ever had to do such a thing at all?) As with the first experience, I was astonished by what I discovered!

I noticed some yerba stuck in the little slots at the bottom of the bombilla, and I couldn’t get them out. When I looked closer, I thought I noticed some buildup of the fine, powdery dust packed into the bottom, too. Gross! But what to do?


I decided to try to loosen it by just knocking the end (rather gently) against the table. What happened then was the big surprise (and forever changed the way I will clean my bombilla!)

The end came off!

This was a fantastic revelation. (I was actually pretty excited!) I’d always struggled to get the pipe cleaner all the way down to the bottom from the top part of the bombilla. Now I had easy access to it!

I began sliding the pipe cleaner in and even scrubbing a bit more with it toward the bottom (that had never really been cleaned) and it got very dirty. Large amounts of blackish stuff was being scraped out, then rinsed out, and this process continued for a couple minutes at least. I made sure to clear each of the slots too, since I had better access to them.

Today I read that using baking soda can help get the inside of the bombilla clean, too, but it seemed to work just fine with the pipe cleaner and hot water.

Finally, after I was satisfied with the clean water flowing through the bombilla, I reassembled it, and quickly added yerba to my mate (and a couple teaspoons of sugar) and enjoyed free flowing yerba mates for the rest of the morning! ¡Unos mates muy sabrosos!

It’s funny how I keep learning new tricks with this mate drinking… very much by accident!

mate y bombilla

On Chick-fil-A… and diversity in general

Chick-fil-A Eat Mor ChikinFirst, I am not really a big fan of Chick-fil-A’s food. (But my wife really is, so it’s a special treat when we are in Chick-fil-A territory!) Thus, this post is not really about their food, or their fun kid’s meal toys, or the fact that they play Christian music in their restaurants, nor that they are closed on Sundays.

But you probably already knew that.

If you haven’t heard—and, well, it’s possible that you haven’t?—the Christian-owned, alternative-to-cows restaurant has been in the news for the past month thanks to remarks that company president and COO, Dan Cathy. Here’s what he said:

Re: the “crisis of fatherlessness”

As an employer, first off, just from that perspective, I see it as a real crisis, in the sense that there is a certain amount of emotional DNA—there’s physical DNA obviously that comes from the dad and also from the mom, but beyond that—there’s some essential emotional DNA that God intended for us to give, from a mother and a dad that, we observe over our life as children—in infancy, and then growing up—that we can only get from our dad, and we can only get from a mother. And we’re to get it in a home, dynamic environment where they’re interrelating together, to build the stability and the self-esteem that God wants us to have to get through our teenage years.

Now when we don’t have one side or the other, you know, I just have to tell you, I think we’re just emotionally handicapped. Doesn’t mean we can’t survive and have a happy life, but it means that we’re gonna have some odds stacked against us. Hopefully there can be somebody that intervenes to help make that up for us. But, uh, to have so many people today that are growing up in homes where they don’t have a mom and dad—I’ll tell you, as an employer, it makes it that much more difficult for us, because we sometimes actually have to have a parenting role.

As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And, I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.

Wait. Is that all?


Where is the controversy? WHERE is the “anti-gay” that peppers every headline on from every “news” organization?

No really. Where is it?

See, so much of what we hear (and react to) is hype. And it’s predetermined. “What? Someone promoted a traditional, Mom-and-Dad-in-the-same-home family?? THEY HATE GAYS! Boycott!! Tell everyone you know!!!” And then the reaction, “What? They’re attacking my favorite Christian restaurant for speaking the truth against legalizing gay marriage??! Get out and support them! Buy ‘mor chikin’! Tell all your friends!!”


First of all, if you have the time, please listen to this clip—the one that started this recent fury… I mean, flurry of activity on the blogs, social media, and news sites. The whole Dan Cathy interview starts around 21:28, and the part quoted above starts at 29:43. Cathy was a guest on the Ken Coleman Show (never heard of it…) on Father’s Day weekend, talking about his Dad, and his own marriage of 40-plus years to his one wife, and the benefits of a Mom-and-Dad, stable family. Listen:


People. Please. PLEASE. Stop the knee-jerk reactions. Your favorite commentarians (that’s not a word) are NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Probably not usually right. Take a breath… use Google (or other resources… talking to actual people is good, too!) 🙂 and try to find what is actually being said. If the headline says “Anti”-anything, plan on doing some major filtering. Find quotes, but find LONG quotes. Look for the sources of those quotes (like the show above).

I just can’t believe the agenda that nearly everyone has, one way or another. Truth does not appear to be as important as being first to post, or furthering one’s own worldview—whether or not the item being discussed actually supports or even has anything to do with said agenda.

I will keep pounding this drum till the cows come home. Listen to each other. Go to the source. Believe in each other.

We have to stop using the word “anti” unless it’s really true. Pro-traditional family is not anti-anything! (Except anti-non-traditional-family? But it’s still not anti if it’s FOR something.) Aren’t people who want women to have the choice to end a pregnancy nearly always referred to as “Pro-Choice”? But the opposite side of that argument—those who are actually against abortion—are called anti-abortion-ers. (Though, that side prefers Pro-Life, I believe.) That seems to be a case where words are used correctly.

But what Dan Cathy said, and those who think traditional, one man, one woman, married for life family is a better option (or, the best option), can not be labeled “anti-gay”—or anti-anything—when they are promoting, not protesting.

He is welcome to believe and even promote what he believe (unless it actually injures someone else, or keeps them from doing the same), and everyone else can listen (or not) and then respond (or not) as they see fit. But, as I said above, the response should follow really listening. Not just a knee-jerk (“pre-programmed”) response to a second-to-forty-fourth-hand report about what “someone said”.

There are many more articles to read. Please browse at your leisure.

And be nice.


Chia SeedsWe all know the tune to those words (I’m sure you were just singing it as you read them) and we also probably all chuckle at the thought of those funny little (gag?) gifts from the 90s. (Yes, I know, they’re still around!)

This week, though, a friend recommended them to me in a non-gag way. (Some might think I should not add the “non”…)

You can drink them.

Yes. Drink.

Apparently, chia seeds are a great source of fiber, omega-3 fats, and other pretty nifty stuff our bodies need. I am one who needs a tad more fiber (your welcome for my restraint of further elaboration) so I was definitely game to give them a try.

I purchased seeds from Amazon, but today I found a site that offers them a tad cheaper, and this article mentions Whole Foods as a place they can be procured.

The way I was instructed to consume them was to first soak them in water. This releases a gel as they absorb the water around them (up to 9x their weight, I believe I read somewhere). The seeds (and gel) are tasteless, but the gel has a consistency something like tapioca pudding. We added it to a fruit juice, so it’s a bit like a juice with extra pulpy-pulp.


There seem to be numerous resources available to study up on the health benefits of chia seeds (and there appear to be many of those). I’m glad for a different source of fiber (eating high fiber “sticks” has been my main source for many years) and look forward to seeing how it helps over the next couple weeks.

Plus, who doesn’t love singing that little ditty? 🙂

Detective Dad

Sometimes as a Dad, you find yourself in the role of detective. The cases are often thrust upon you quite circumstantially. There may not necessarily be a victim, who comes to you asking for the mystery to be solved. Often, the clues lie before you and it’s up to you, Detective Dad, to solve the unexpected puzzle.

Today was such a day.

This time I found myself sorting through the various clues in reverse order. I had dismissed them previously, as just a normal part of the managed chaos of a home with a two- and a three-year-old. With such folk around it is not uncommon to find a toy here, a puzzle piece there, an article of clothing pretty much anywhere. Very easy to think nothing of such “clues”—missing the fact that they point to a great, unsolved mystery.

The final piece of the puzzle today was the sugar bowl spoon.

As I began to prepare some yerba mate this morning, I opened the sugar bowl to discover that the spoon was coated in sugar. This happens, of course, when the spoon has gotten wet and then is placed once again into the sugar bowl. Being quite fastidiously against this action, I knew instantly that my sugar had been “disturbed”.

A quick recall of (many) past events allowed me to quickly piece together the evidence and reach a(n easy) conclusion. Pieces of evidence like the cars discovered in the hallway… the sugar bowl on the floor, rather than in its proper place—which I had overlooked before, since on occasion in my haste I have left it there, not properly replaced to its comfortable home amongst my various beverage supplies. Everything was pointing convincingly to the obvious culprit.

You see, a while ago Cameron discovered that there was a quite readily available supply of the white stuff just a staircase away. And often, it was completely unguarded! What more could a two-year-old sweet tooth as for???

Now it seems he has gotten a little better at covering his tracks, though. Previously I would find the sugar bowl, lid off, sugary spoon on the carpet, surrounded by piles of white crystalline evidence everywhere. (Plus, stray crystals in and around the various mugs that surround its normal resting place.)

Once—and only once—I found the lidless bowl ON my comfy reading chair, much of the contents all over the cushion, the footsool, and the surrounding floor are.

As I said, that only happened once. 🙂

Another time, the sugar bowl evidence—coated with dampened sugar—hidden around the corner in a narrow storage alcove, well out of view of any who might stumble upon his enjoyment of the “forbidden” treasure.

He’s no dummy. And he sure loves his sugar!

So today, thankfully (I think?) there was only the mess of a wet spoon returned to my sugar bowl. Otherwise all is well. Not sure how much he ate, but the bowl is only half-full now … could he have eaten half?? Hopefully not, for his sake!

When I next speak to Cam, I’ll remind him again that this delight is off limits. Again. Not sure what effect it will have. I’ll just have to keep a vigilant eye towards all those small evidences of crimes against my beverage stand.

And for now… remember to lock the door. 😉

[RCS] Ordering Online from Mark’s Pizzeria

Mark's PizzeriaFrom time to time here at, I’ve made a point of sharing things that we’ve come across that are a great value, or just simply worth the price of admission. (There’s even a tag for it.)

Since December 31st, I’ve taken a slightly new approach to producing content for this site. I will be publishing one post per day, rather than several posts whenever—or, no posts ever. So far it’s been great for me to write again (I really do enjoy it) and it also prevents me from overwhelming you, the reader with my writing binges! 🙂

Now that there is a regular schedule of posts, and since I often have recommendations for you of really cool stuff we’ve come across, I decided I’d try to make Sunday’s posts about that very thing: Really Cool Stuff. For short, you’ll see the tag “RCS” before the specific title for the post.

Now, for today’s Really Cool Stuff!

Alright, I may be behind the times, but… ordering pizza online is just so great!! I recently “took the plunge” with our local pizzeria (who has several locations all across western New York) and ordered a sheet pizza online, hoping I could set it to be ready a few hours later in the day.

I could do that, and so much more!

As a web designer, I think I have to say that Mark’s online ordering system lacks a bit in aesthetic and even functional/practical layout, but it definitely does what it needs to do.

Let’s say you’re just ordering a pizza (not any of their other menu items). You choose the size, and then your toppings—which you have full control over with double, light, and half-the-pizza options—and then when you’re ready, you check out. (Mark’s likes coupons, so there are plenty of coupons to choose from in the checkout process, we always get a discount!)

And you also get to choose when you want the pizza to be ready for pickup, or the time you want it delivered. You can add a tip with your online order, too!

I’m pretty sure that I’m never going to NOT order online (from Mark’s) again. And, because they make it so easy (and fun!) that also means we really won’t be ordering any pizza from any other pizzeria. (Unless they offer a similar online ordering system!)

I still prefer ordering food in person, but since you usually order pizza over the phone, anyway, there’s no reason not to give Mark’s online ordering a try! (Unless of course, you’re nowhere near a Mark’s Pizzeria… then it won’t work so well.)

Hope you get a chance to check that out. Maybe today? Sunday is a great day for pizza! (Football games are always better with pizza…) And we’ll have much more Really Cool Stuff for you each Sunday for as long as there’s cool stuff, and!

Enjoy your pizza!

Tradition, Tradition!

Traditional New Year's Day meal, pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn bread

As far back as I can remember, my family has always celebrated New Year’s Day with a big meal featuring pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. My dad enjoys throwing in some baked clams, but I’ve chosen to leave those out of our version of the family tradition… 🙂

This year was no different. Even though we’d been packing a bunch in between Christmas and Ian’s 13th birthday celebrations, and despite the fact that I had been feeling pretty sick the night before, I still managed to get the pork loin in the oven to slow roast overnight and we had a delicious meal for a late lunch the next day.

It’s said that having this meal on New Year’s Day leads to a prosperous year, but I’m really just glad for the fun of making it and the tastiness of eating it! Plus it’s a favorite of just about everyone in our family (and friends we’ve gotten to share the meal with, too!)

A slightly more odd tradition that we keep in the Campbell household is celebrating Three Kings Day, which we’ll be doing tomorrow morning! This is because of the few years of my childhood that were spent in Caracas, Venezuela. Three Kings Day is celebrated in many hispanic countries, including Venezuela! Our version may be a bit modified, but it suits us, and is mostly in the same spirit, I’d say.

Every January 5th, we leave our shoes out by the front door, ready to be filled by the three wise men. They leave us gifts, just like they did for Jesus. We can leave straw for their camels to eat, but usually don’t do that. 🙂 In the morning, we come down to find a small gift and usually some candy left in everyone’s shoes. Fun!

And, every once in a while, we’ll bake an oven-safe trinket into a cake and then whoever gets the piece of cake with that item in it gets to be KING for the day! We’ve modified this a bit, too, in that we know the King of kings, we try to be a king in the way he was: serving, not being served. (And yes, the kids still want to do it!)

Speaking of knowing the King of kings…

After reading many of her favorite mom/big-family blogs this Christmas season, Jen thought it might finally be the year to “do Christmas differently”. We’ve had a pretty typical Christmas tradition of lots of gifts, and the big family Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa’s, and so on. This year she thought we could focus more on the reason we’re celebrating: it’s Jesus’ birthday! (At least, the day that is celebrated.)

We’ve tossed some of these ideas around for the past several years, but we decided to really do it this year. First, we each drew a name of someone else in the family, and got just one meaningful gift for that person. (So, still gifts, but much less about gifts for us.) We spent as much or more money giving gifts to Jesus. How, you ask? Matthew 25 says, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you are doing for me” (my paraphrase), so we did that! We bought (via World Vision this time) 13 small farm animals for people who could use them for daily sustenance. It was really cool to see the kids excited to do it! And it was so nice to have the focus much less on the gifts (and the getting) and much more on Jesus, and the incredible Gift of his becoming a man that “…all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

We also made a birthday cake, of course, and had a great time celebrating Jesus’ birthday! (We’re pretty good at celebrating birthdays around here!) Hoping that this becomes our family tradition as the years go on. And I’m sure there will be some great modifications along the way.

Born 4 BC? 2015 in 2011!

Note: we based the “age” upon a birth year of 4 BC… thus the 2015. (Though, if you count the year 0, wouldn’t he be 2016?) 🙂

Do you have family traditions from your childhood that you have continued with your family? Any new ones you’ve begun with your own family? Comment below! Subscribe & Save's Subscribe & Save

My wife recently discovered a great program that offers it’s users called Subscribe & Save. It not only offers a decent discount on the regular price (which is already usually discounted from retail price), it also allows you to have items you regularly purchase automatically delivered to you at that reduced price. (And somehow Jen arranged for a 3-month trial of their shipping upgrade service, Amazon Prime, so everything is shipped for free!)

Not every item at Amazon is eligible for this Subscribe & Save service, but I happened to noticed on Monday that it does apply to Big Train Chai, of which I happen to be a very big fan.

I did the math on what I usually order, and what was offered for the Subscribe & Save service, and it was rather shocking: for $16.47 (the current Subscribe & Save price), I got about twice the amount of chai that I would usually get from Amazon for $18! Crazy!

Big Train Vanilla Chai - 1.9lb containerThen I did a bit more of the math…

  • (2) 1.9 lb cans of Big Train Vanilla Chai = (25) 16oz drinks = $16.47
  • (3) 12 oz bags of Big Train Vanilla Chai = (15) 16oz drinks = $18
  • (1) 12 oz bag of Big Train Vanilla Chai (from any retail store) = (5) 16oz drinks = $10
  • (1) 16 oz cup of Big Train Vanilla Chai (prepared, at a coffee shop) = $4.25

So, with Subscribe & Save I end up saving 86% on what it would cost me to buy 25 cups of chai at my favorite coffee shop.

I guess their service is quite appropriately named!

We Campbells highly recommend checking into it for the stuff you buy regularly. We are now “Subscribe(d) and Sav(ing)” on chai, and diapers! Have a look and see if you can find a great deal for yourself!

Subscribe & Save

PopTarts Rewards

PopTarts Rewards

Ahh, PopTarts… the great American breakfast treat! 🙂

Jen purchased a box of Apple Strudel PopTarts for me last night, and this morning when we looked at the box, we noticed a little promotion they have going currently called PopTarts Rewards. Apparently they are wanting (needing?) people to try all of their flavors. The incentive towards this end is a little code on each box. When you collect five codes, you get one prize. You can do that up to five times. (But you can only get one code per flavor…)

The prizes you can choose from include 5 music downloads, a free movie ticket… AND… 2 FREE BOXES of POPTARTS! Who doesn’t want free PopTarts!?? 🙂

So head on over to their PopTarts Rewards site and check it out. Then head to your grocer and try out some new flavors.

(And no, I was not paid to write this… I’m just a fan.) 😉

Clean Your Bombilla

Yerba MateSo … I had a “first” experience today, as a mate drinker…

I was drinking “unos mates” for the first time in a week (we were gone, visiting family in Ohio last week) and as I was drinking, I noticed that no liquid was coming through the bombilla, so upon a quick visual inspection, I found the culprit: a big chunk that was stuck at the very tip of the straw. Big meaning, it filled most of the opening!

I chuckled, and thought nothing of it, really… just needed to fish it out.

Then I started to think… Wait… how’d that get there?

Still confused, I went to get a toothpick to fish it out, and when I did it was black, and resembled very fine yerba dust compacted over the years I have been drinking mates! Um…. gross!!

Undaunted, I then tried to clean out the entire bombilla … but, don’t really have a tool for doing that. I rinsed and blew through it and nothing more came out. Satisfied (mostly), I filled up the gourd again and began drinking the mate.


This time, a lot more. I must have loosened them up! Anyway, more and more came out—all the same stuff—so I got a toothpick again and dug in as deep as that would go, about an inch and a half. It was nearly packed full of this black gunk! SUPER gross!!! I can’t believe that I’ve been drinking through it, actually!! 🙂

So… today… lesson learned. CLEAN YOUR BOMBILLA!!!!

Pizza Makers

The kids got to be pizza makers for a night!We decided, sort of last-minute, to head out to one of our favorite places last night (Leo’s Pizza) and take advantage of the kids eat free Tuesday special ( …we have a lot of kids!!) We also got to drop by and celebrate a birthday with some friends, so it was a fun night out!

But the bonus for the night was, just after we were served our food by the guy who runs the place. He has taken a liking to our family, especially our cute kids. As he served the pizza he said to the boys, “As soon as you’re done, I have a ‘special mission’ for you, so let me know when you’re done.” We didn’t have any idea what he meant, but couldn’t wait to find out!

Once they were ready, the boys—and Kirsten—went over to “report for duty” … and that’s when the fun began!

They were outfitted with aprons (Kirsten’s needed a bit of help as she’s still a bit short…) 🙂 and then they proceeded back to the kitchen. He showed them around a bit and then got out a ball of dough for Ian to pound, Alex added the sauce, Kirstie added the cheese, and they all chose and added their own toppings! They threw the pizza in the oven and got to take home their first made-by-themselves pizza! 🙂 It was really cute, and so fun!

Click the picture of our little pizza chefs above to see the larger version (though, it’s a bit fuzzy since it was just from a cell phone). We already liked Leo’s Pizza, but I think we might like it even a bit more, now!