First week home

13051503_10110653896502894_7792154153027034704_n

Hey there, I’ve been home for just over a week and it’s been great, but it’s time I stop ignoring my blog! There’s so much I should be writing about, so I need to make myself sit down and start writing again. I figured I’d start with a brief check in, but I’ll write about much more in the weeks to come.

Since being home I’ve enjoyed all the great food I’ve missed out on, especially my first trip to Boise Fry Company, which I intend to write about over at ABoiseLife.com.

Boise Fry Company

The food was great, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Boise!

I picked up a Samsung Gear VR which has been a pretty cool experience. One of the first things I did was boot up Minecraft VR and it’s a mind-blowing experience for sure!

Gear VR

I’ve enjoyed messing around with my new gaming PC, and tried my hand at Dark Souls III. It took a few days but I finally beat the first boss (technically just the tutorial boss) but am once again finding it difficult to progress past the very first section of the game.

I’m contemplating downloading Battleborn today (for the Xbox One), because I’ve been wanting a shooter I can fire up when I just want to play something casually. Rocket League is a great game to fire up and waste some time with, but I just want to shoot things!

Thanks, as always, for reading what I have to say, and I hope to bring some significant content back to the blog within a day or two! Until then I’m going to keep relaxing and enjoying America!

13094344_10110690304121734_2190485331381656583_n

Trying Soylent 2.0 — The future of food?

I first heard about Soylent from The New Yorker as I read the intriguing article “The End of Food” in the May 12, 2014 issue. After reading the article I definitely wanted to try the product, however I never got around to ordering some until last week. I eventually ordered a 12 pack of Soylent 2.0 and it arrived a few days ago.

Soylent 2.0

The first thing I noticed is the simplistic packaging and bottle design. The bottle is a white, barren space, lacking any eye catching branding aside from a small logo near the bottom of the bottle. I’ve found that the absence of any significant branding has made people more likely to ask what I was drinking, which makes the simple design an effective marketing choice.

Upon opening my first bottle I noticed that Soylent doesn’t have any sort of smell or odor like I expected (I had expected it to smell gross). After I took a sip I was again surprised to find the drink tasted incredibly neutral. I’d describe it as a liquid slightly thicker than water with a hint of a milky taste. It’s easy to sip and leaves no real aftertaste. It’s much easier to drink than most protein shakes or products such as Slim Fast.

Soylent 2.0 bottle

The real question is whether or not it works. So far I can report that it is incredibly effective as a meal replacement. I’ve tried Slim Fast before, hoping for a quick, easy to prepare lunch for work, but it never left me satisfied. Soylent, however, does the job quite well. I’ve sipped on a bottle of Soylent for breakfast and dinner so far, and both times the bottle satiated my hunger and left me full for hours. I’ve found it best to sip on Soylent over an extended period of time, rather than chug it down, as this seems to help the full feeling last longer. Add an apple or banana and you’ll be full and ready to start your day.

So far I’m impressed with Soylent. I’m looking forward to keeping a bottle in my backpack as I go biking, hiking or camping after I get back to the U.S.

You can get your Pumpkin Spice Latte fix early!

pumpkin spice latte early

While logging into the WiFi at Starbucks yesterday I saw something wonderful. An ad for early access to the coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte.

To get your PSL fan pass, head over to this link and type in the password (‘Pumpkin’). You’ll then be asked to type in your phone number and you’ll receive your very own PSL fanpass which when shown to a barista should allow you to order the Pumpkin Spice Latte before its official release.

I’m looking forward to trying this out later today. Fall is on its way, and the best part of Fall is the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte!

PSL fanpass

Rockstar Boom! Whipped Strawberry

rockstar boom whipped strawberry

Does lightly carbonated strawberry milk sound appetizing to you? If so, you may want to check out Rockstar Boom! Whipped Strawberry, a new type of Rockstar energy drink (also available in Whipped Orange).

I saw these in the store the other day and decided to give one a try. The drink is less carbonated than other Rockstar energy drinks which makes it go down smoothly. The strawberry flavor is incredibly potent, and tastes like a mix of strawberry milk or a Jolly Rancher. The drink is incredibly sweet, almost in a bad way, and features 66 grams of sugar in a single can. It has less caffeine than a Rockstar Punched, with 160mg per can while also containing 2000mg of taurine.

I can’t say that I enjoy the flavor at all, so I’ll be sticking with the Sugar Free Rockstar Punched for my drug of choice.

Idaho’s First Panera Bread (in Nampa)

chipotle chicken panini

This past week Idaho’s very first Panera Bread opened in Nampa, and I finally made it out there this evening. One of the things that saddened me when I got stationed in Idaho was that there were no Panera Bread’s in the entire state! How could that be?! Well I can finally get my Panera Bread fix twenty minutes outside of Boise. Previously I could only get my hands on the wonderful Chipotle Chicken Panini while I was on leave back in Pennsylvania or TDY to somewhere like Florida.

I’m glad Panera has finally made it to Idaho, however I do hope they open a store in Boise before too long so I don’t have to make the drive to Nampa. Something is better than nothing at least.

The experience was a little hectic, this being the location’s first Friday evening since it opened. The restaurant was packed and the line was long and slow moving. It seemed everyone had a lot of questions as they made it to the registers to order, which I can understand as many might not have ever eaten at a Panera before. There was a staff member handing out menus to those waiting in line and answering any questions they had which was nice, however I’m not sure it made things quicker. This wasn’t so much the staff’s fault, it was more slow moving customers, but again this was all to be expected.

I’m sure I’ll be making many more trips out to Nampa for Panera Bread lunches in the near future. Now if only Yuengling could make its way out here!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

This morning, as I was picking up an after work snack, something caught my eye at the checkout. There was a display filled with Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bites, and I knew I had to try them. People love chocolate and people love caffeine, so why not combine the two? Each bite contains 50mg of caffeine, or roughly half a cup of coffee’s worth (according to the packaging). They were about $0.63 each, so I grabbed two.

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

 

The chocolate bites tasted smooth and very much like any other chocolate bar (nothing strange to them at all). I feel like they’d make a great companion for a cup of coffee if you want a little extra kick delivered via delicious chocolate. If you happen to see these bites (they also come in bars) at a checkout counter go ahead and give them a try, they’re quite enjoyable!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

How Yelp convinced me not to check out The Counter in Meridian

So when I’m looking to check out a new place to eat (or shop / drink etc.) the first place I usually check is Yelp. It’s incredibly useful to read other people’s reviews and to discover whether people tend to react positively or negatively to a business.

One such business I wanted to check out was The Counter, in Meridian. I had heard they have some pretty tasty burgers, however Yelp seems to tell a different story. The business has a 2.5 star rating after 54 reviews, so wasn’t off to a good start in the first place. However, the business owner’s response to one review in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.

The Counter Meridian

The tone of the business owner in this response does not come across as professional at all. Upon reading this response I decided I would not even give The Counter an opportunity to disprove its overwhelmingly negative reputation on Yelp. The owner also copy and pasted a rebuttal to several negative reviews, which comes across an impersonal attempt to save face.

So congratulations John H. of The Counter, you have succeeded in making me not want to frequent your restaurant. Heck, based off the Yelp reviews alone I probably still would’ve given the place a shot, but now I’ll never set foot in the place.

Brunch at Fork and coffee at Java Hyde Park (Boise)

This past weekend Vanessa and I checked out few great Boise food destinations that we had often heard about but never got around to going to.

On Sunday we rode our bikes downtown to have brunch at Fork and it was well worth it. First of all the Sunday morning ride was pleasant and we were able to get nice outdoor seats right as we arrived.

Fork Boise brunch

It was nice enjoying breakfast downtown and I think weekend brunch at Fork is going to become something of a tradition for us. The coffee and food were great, I enjoyed Market Breakfast (over hard) and Vanessa had the Fork Benny and both were delicious! I highly recommend having brunch at Fork if you ever have a late start to your day on the weekend.

On Monday morning we rode over to Hyde Park in the Northend to check out Java Hyde Park. We usually just end up going to Starbucks, but we decided to try something new for our morning coffee. The ride was pleasant and we were excited to get some coffee and baked goods. The first thing we noticed was just how packed the place was. All of the outside seating was occupied and the line was out the door and down the stairs! I’m not sure if it’s always that packed or if the holiday had something to do with it. Either way it was worth the wait! I got the Bowl of Soul mocha and a cherry turnover and we walked up to Camelsback park to enjoy our coffees.

Java Hyde park

I highly recommend picking up a coffee from Java Hyde Park and walking around the area as you enjoy it. The Northend is a really neat area of Boise and I highly recommend hiking the trails in Camelsback Park as well!

Giving up soda and energy drinks

797323_orig

Most people know that drinking soda, energy drinks, and a variety of other artificially sweetened drinks (even fruit drinks) are terribly bad for your health. Yet we continue to do so, and why not, just about everyone does it.

It’s easy to think like that, but the health benefits of giving up sugary drinks far outweigh the enjoyment they may bring. I’ve been drinking energy drinks for years and thought very little of the damaging habit. However, last summer I tried to give them up. I didn’t make it very long before I was entirely miserable and started drinking them again three days later. I transitioned to sugar free drinks, telling myself it was the lesser of two evils, and continued on with my life.

The fact is, even sugar free or diet energy drinks and sodas are just as bad for your health as those with all the sugar and calories. Studies have shown that even if a drink has no sugar or calories your body won’t be able to tell the difference and will still produce fat.

Last Monday I decided to try to kick the habit once again. To continue being able to function I replaced my two energy drink a day habit with coffee. I started grinding my own coffee beans and have enjoyed making and drinking coffee in the morning instead of downing an energy drink. I cut soda from my diet as well, and only drink coffee and water on a daily basis. I’ve seen many benefits almost immediately.

First of all, I no longer suffer from a lunchtime energy crash. Usually I would have a second energy drink shortly before lunch and would down a Diet Coke with my lunch. Now I feel awake all throughout the day after only having a single mug of coffee in the morning. I drink water throughout the day and with every meal and it feels great! I’ve also added fruit, vegetables and nuts to my daily routine. I snack on carrots and almonds and enjoy an orange or some pineapple with lunch and dinner.

I’ve also started to lose weight already. I had been exercising regularly for awhile (I run 3 miles at least three days a week, if not four, and do ab exercises and weightlifting on non run days) though I hadn’t been losing as much weight as I had hoped. Replacing health damaging drinks with water should get me the results I’m looking for.

My six days without soda and energy drinks has been enjoyable so far. At dinner on Friday I was tempted to order a Coke, yet resisted and went with a water instead. At the movies later that night I again drank water and felt much better for it.

I challenge you to make the switch from soda to water with me. You’ll be surprised at just how great it might make you feel!

Surge!

amazon prime pantry box

Surge (the late 90’s to early 2000’s soft drink) has been back since the Fall of 2014, but it’s only today that I’ve managed to get my hands on some. For quite awhile when I’ve checked Amazon the stock was low and the prices were skyrocketing (as much as $40 for a 12 pack) which kept me from ever ordering any. However, now that I have Amazon Prime, I was able to order two cases and throw them in a Prime Pantry for around $30.

Prime Pantry is a service that charges a flat $5.99 shipping fee for whatever you can fit in the box (for example, the 12-pack of Surge takes up 30% of a 45 pound box).

surge prime pantry

This was the first time I’ve used Prime Pantry and it was incredibly easy and pretty convenient. The box shipped quickly and arrived within a week of placing my order. The box was packed neatly and everything arrived intact.

So, just how was it to taste Surge for the first time in over 10 years? It was nostalgic, that’s for sure. From the instant I cracked open the can I was brought back to the days of all night Goldeneye sessions on the N64, stacking an unhealthy amount of cans as the nights wore on.

I’m glad Surge is back. Maybe someday we’ll see the return of my all time favorite soda, Pepsi Blue or heck, let’s bring back Vault (the red variety!) while we’re at it!

Cheers!

Photo on 2-5-15 at 12.19 PM #4