What Everyone Waits for Every Week

Good evening to you all. This is the last Thursday Rundown before it is officially our wedding month! Let’s get started…

Futuristic Bus – This is not a joke. Trust me, this is legit. In China, they want to create buses that will drive on roads but be suspended in a way that would allow normal traffic to travel underneath. Just this picture below is nuts but type in “China futuristic bus” on Google and watch the video to really be blown away. My biggest question is how would these buses bypass tall delivery trucks and other large vehicles? If anyone can do it though, it would be the Chinese. After I watched the absolute spectacle Beijing put on for the 2008 Olympics, I am convinced there isn’t anything that country can’t do.

The bus concept developed by the Chinese would in theory completely pass over regular traffic.

The bus concept developed by the Chinese would in theory completely pass over regular traffic.

Small Taste of NASCAR – Last week, I went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway with a couple other people from work. Coastal Carolina University has a NASCAR Truck Series driver we sponsor (he is a student here) and we went over to cover him as he prepared and competed in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 . Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Heavy rains caused the postponement of the race. It was still cool to see an iconic track and meet up with our driver and his crew.

My credential from last Friday.

My credential from last Friday.

Casper: Thank you to Timehop for letting me know that the movie “Casper” hit theaters 21 years ago today. The funny thing is that Sidney and I caught the second half of the movie about a month ago. How can any of us in the 20-30 year old range ever forget when Casper becomes an actual person and dances with Christina Ricci? Definitely one of the best moments in cinematic history.

This scene though.

This scene though.

Golf Update – Last fall, I wrote about taking golf lessons. Sidney and I took them as a couple at River Oaks here in Myrtle Beach. This spring I took eight solo lessons at our golf course here at Coastal Carolina. I finished my last instruction session on Monday. The latter lessons I took at CCU made me into a much more confident golfer. In fact, I am comfortable actually hitting the course for a regular round. A co-worker and I hit the links a couple weeks ago and we will do it again tomorrow. Thanks to Joey Marosz for being such a great instructor. I am excited for my dad and brother to arrive so we can play a round during the wedding week!

Wedding Update #33 – The biggest news I have to report is that Sidney and I requested and received our marriage license! In South Carolina you have to visit the courthouse and formally apply for the license. After you pay $50 and fill out paperwork, you then must wait 24 hours until you can pick it up. I snagged it yesterday and this afternoon Sidney delivered it to the church!

In other news, the teachers at Sidney’s school threw her a special bridal party. She left work that day with a super nice vacuum. I also received a nice surprise in that my aunt and cousin will be making the trip to Myrtle Beach to enjoy the wedding festivities. We are just 16 days away from the big date!

Sidney and I outside the courthouse on the left and our wedding license on the right!

Sidney and I outside the courthouse on the left and our wedding license on the right!

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I hope your Memorial Weekend gets off to a great start. Thanks for your readership and I will touch base soon. Don’t Blink.

My Wacky Method for Losing 30 Pounds

A great thing about keeping a blog is that it will hold you accountable. If you write something in it, unless you want to show thousands of people that your word means nothing, you must follow through.

At the start of 2016, I wrote about how I had let my eating habits spiral a bit out of control. With my fondness for delicious Southern cooking coupled with the holiday food binge I went on in Spokane, I was not looking my best. Frankly, I was looking really chubby!

In December I was looking plump.

In December I was looking plump.

With a wedding and a Cancun honeymoon only five months away, I knew I had to make some changes. In order to ensure that I would look respectable for the big events, I wrote my intentions out in that blog post I penned in early January. It helped me reach my goal.

Unfortunately I take too many selfies and not enough full body shots. On the left it is me in December and on the right it is me in March.

Unfortunately I take too many selfies and not enough full body shots. On the left it is me in December and on the right it is me in March.

Between January and April (I am no longer dieting) I lost 30 pounds. It was a slow process as I only would lose typically 1-2 pounds per week but it certainly added up after a few months. I didn’t go on any special diet. I didn’t count calories. I didn’t consult an expert. In fact, most people would probably say that what I did was backwards and unhealthy. However, I did what made sense to me and what I knew would work.

This contrast shows how fat I really was!

This contrast shows how fat I really was!

Ready to hear about the Brent Diet?

During the work week I clamped down. Without any modifications, I ate the exact same thing each and every day. For breakfast I would have half of a peanut butter sandwich. For lunch I would enjoy a whole peanut butter sandwich and a banana. For dinner I would have a Celeste personal pizza, a few carrots, and either a cup of applesauce or another banana. I know what you are thinking…he ate pizza Sunday through Thursday and lost weight?! Darn right I did!

I took this photo in March of one of my dinners. I ate this every night for the first three plus months of the year.

I took this photo in March of one of my dinners. I ate this every night for the first three plus months of the year.

When the weekend rolled around, I had my cheat days. Sidney would make me buttered noodles on Friday night and then we would typically go out to eat on Saturday night. I would then usually splurge on the scrumptious Sunday midday meal that the Mathis family usually has. When Sunday night came around it was back to pizza, carrots, and applesauce.

Gee, it kind of sounds like I was eating horribly, huh? Well, most likely I was. But it was a significant cut down from what I was eating before. I also did a couple other things that probably contributed to my weight loss…

First, I increased the intensity of my workout regimen just a bit. Even though I was still working out five times a week during my heavy days, I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could. I picked up the pace once January hit.

The photo on the left was me right when I returned to Myrtle Beach after the holidays. The photo on the right is me in April.

The photo on the left was me right when I returned to Myrtle Beach after the holidays. The photo on the right is me in April.

Secondly, I completely stopped eating between meals. I also cut out sweets entirely. With desserts, candy, and chips out of the picture I was able to slim down.

I weighed in once a week. Visualizing that date with the scale each Friday after work helped motivate me to stick with the program. Like I said, the process was slow. Some weeks I wouldn’t even lose ONE pound. But I held on and tried to look at the bigger picture.

Like I said, I am no longer dieting. A couple of my loved ones asked that I stop losing weight. I am back to eating ice cream and enjoying balanced dinners. However, I am making sure not to lose complete control. I still weigh myself on a weekly basis and after four weeks of eating normally again, I am still 27 pounds down from January.

It was a long process to slim down but I am now back to eating ice cream!

It was a long process to slim down but I am now back to eating ice cream!

So until I come close to approaching 200 pounds again, I am not going to eat a personal pan pizza for a while. When our wedding week arrives in a little under two weeks, I will be able to say that I accomplished my goal. Don’t Blink.

A Burning Question About French Fries

Recently I stumbled upon a pretty cool graphic. Well, I actually didn’t stumble upon it, my brother sent it to a group message I am included in (he would be so angry if I didn’t give him credit). The image he sent is a ranking of various types of french fries. It is a well-done graphic with fun illustrations and descriptions.

This list ranking french fries is pretty cool.

This list ranking french fries is pretty cool.

I like french fries but I am not obsessed with them like my fiancé is. Sidney seriously lists french fries as her favorite food. So although she might be better suited to address this list, I decided I would steal a possible blog takeover topic from her and weigh in on it myself.

Sidney loves french fries, especially fries from Five Guys.

Sidney loves french fries, especially fries from Five Guys.

So, before I rip the graphic for two main reasons, let me again heap praise on it. Like I said, I love the aesthetic appeal (nothing is more beautiful than french fries, right?) of the image and I appreciate the depth it goes into. I found it cute how the illustrator included smiley fries and I like the noted distinction between some of the closely related fries such as Belgian, steak cut, and chips. I also agree that waffle fries and garlic fries each deserve a spot in the top five.

Although not in my top five, I do enjoy curly fries. Sidney and I enjoyed these during the Fourth of July in Walla Walla at Pioneer Park.

Although not in my top five, I do enjoy curly fries. Sidney and I enjoyed these during the Fourth of July in Walla Walla at Pioneer Park.

However, the first issue I have is a type of fry that not only didn’t make the top five but didn’t even crack the list! Where is any mention of spicy fries?! Hello?!? How could such a glaring mistake be made? Nothing is better than eating a burger with a large side of fries that pack a punch. Not only do spicy fries add great flavor, they also look great on a plate. There is just something visually satisfying about crispy orange-toned fries covered in seasonings resting on a white porcelain plate backdrop. Major snub for sure.

My second issue winds me up even more than the omission of spicy fries. Riddle me this: How are TATER TOTS included on a ranking of the best styles of french fries?

Tater tots are in no way, shape, or form a valid excuse for french fries. Could you imagine if you were at a restaurant and you ordered fries and they brought you out tater tots? I realize that tater tots share a common ingredient with french fries but I don’t see how that puts them into the same class. Pizza and nachos both use cheese as their main ingredient but a pizza isn’t a plate of nachos and a plate of nachos isn’t a pizza. You know that ridiculous question people always debate….is a hot dog a sandwich? The answer is obviously NO but even that inquiry deserves more consideration than if a tater tot is a fry.

Probably worst of all is where tater tots land on the list. There is no way you can tell me that a side item that doesn’t even belong on the list in the first place is given the bronze medal. To put tater tots ahead of 18 other legitimate versions of french fries is an insult. That #3 ranking needs to be rescinded immediately.

At a restaurant in Spokane called Selkirk, they make snow capped fries. It is a favorite of Sidney and I.

At a restaurant in Spokane called Selkirk, they make snow capped fries. It is a favorite of Sidney and I.

Tater tots…really? Does anyone out there actually agree with its inclusion on the list? If so, I would like to hear from you. Additionally, if you have any thoughts on this list in general don’t be afraid to sound off. Sidney, if you are reading this I am sure you are craving something right about now. Don’t Blink.

Ice Cream Pie

Growing up in my family, especially the latter half of my time under my parents’ roof, we enjoyed a certain birthday treat tradition. My mom didn’t bake traditional cakes for our special day. Instead, she made ice cream pie.

This is what my mom's famous ice cream pie looks like.

This is what my mom’s famous ice cream pie looks like.

When one of our birthdays rolled around, we could expect a dangerously delicious dessert to commemorate it. Ice cream pie is not for the faint of heart. It is a rich treat that will leave you full. It looks as good as it tastes.

My mom’s ice cream pie is a chocolate brownie crust layered with premium ice cream and topped with candy, sprinkles, and chocolate sauce. Each bite is an absolute delight as the ice cream melts in your mouth while you savor the chewy crust.

Here is a look inside the ice cream pie. So good.

Here is a look inside the ice cream pie. So good.

What makes these pies so much fun is that the birthday person gets to customize it. For example, my mom always made my pie with peanut butter ice cream. She made my dad’s pie with Cake Batter ice cream from Cold Stone. She made my sister’s pie with double fudge brownie ice cream. She then topped it with whatever candy we wanted and drizzled our preferred sauce on it.

Me with the best birthday treat ever.

Me with the best birthday treat ever.

If you recall, last week I had Sidney try five different cookie dough ice cream brands. As you can imagine, we had a lot of it leftover! Since I am not into wasting food anymore, we wanted to make sure it went to good use. Sidney decided to use my mom’s recipe to make a huge ice cream pie out of it.

This past weekend actually wasn't the first time Sidney made my mom's recipe for me. She baked one up this past October for my birthday (please excuse the awful Instagram filter).

This past weekend actually wasn’t the first time Sidney made my mom’s recipe for me. She baked one up this past October for my birthday (please excuse the awful Instagram filter).

Yesterday at our Sunday dinner, Sidney’s family tested out the cookie dough ice cream pie. They loved it! With this confirmation that it isn’t just my family that finds it somewhat tasty, I decided to share the recipe with all of you. Here is how you make ice cream pie…

Ingredients (crust):
1 package of devils food cake mix
¾ cup of chocolate frosting
¾ cup of water
¼ cup vegetable oil

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pan. Beat all ingredients for two minutes at high speed. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 25 minutes. DON’T OVER BAKE. Now spread ice cream so it covers the crust. Add toppings. Freeze.

My mom gave a Halloween theme to this pie.

My mom gave a Halloween theme to this pie.

Believe me, it is worth it to try this dessert at least once. With the summer approaching, there might not be a better time to whip it up. Don’t Blink.

Resisting the Urge to Throw Out Food

While I sometimes might hang on to old documents and cards too long, the same can’t be said for food. Since the time I moved out of my parents’ house, I have been religious about throwing out items in my refrigerator past the “best by” or “use by” date. Just the notion of rotten milk or moldy bread was enough for me to dispose of food no questions asked.

As I have lived ten years as a bachelor, I naturally threw out lots of unconsumed food. Although I do have an appetite and eat more than I should, it still takes me longer to eat a large pack of muffins than it would a family. Thus, it became habit for me to “donate” recently expired goods to the landfill.

Like I said, I took the “best by” labels very seriously. Half eaten bags of carrots, practically full gallons of milk, bunches of bananas, barely used taco shells, and items from the bakery were all put out of their misery by me the second they reached their expiration. Sadly, I frequently used to even toss food a day or two away from its “use by” date.

I recently read a very informative and in depth article on how these “best by” dates are pretty much myth. It turns out that these tags aren’t even federally mandated, it is just merely an ESTIMATE from the manufacturer on when the item will be at optimal freshness. In other words, the date on the package is NOT a warning of when the food will go bad.

The article explained that this is a harmful issue because it takes a big toll on the environment. Valuable land and water is used up to produce food that goes wasted. Furthermore, the carbon footprint associated with wasted food worldwide is more than 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

So while I do care about the environment and while I do find that carbon dioxide number alarming, I am more appalled at my own personal waste of food AND money.

Think of it this way: I eat sandwiches for lunch and I often throw half-eaten loaves out at the end of the week just because of the “best by” date. I have purchased a $4 loaf of bread pretty much weekly over the past ten years. Since I throw away half of the product at the end of the week, that means I waste about $2. If I multiply 2 (the dollar amount) by 10 (the number of years) by 52 (number of weeks in a year) I arrive at a waste of $1,040. Mind you, this is just bread and doesn’t begin to cover all the other food I have liberally disposed of over the past decade.

To be honest, I will probably still err on the side of throwing out food well before it starts to go bad. However, I will do my best to not have such a heavy hand moving forward. Food doesn’t become poisoned the second it reaches a “use by” date. I need to take this for fact, stretch my dollar, and help the environment at the same time. Don’t Blink.

Running It Down on Thursday

Happy May 19th Day to you! Here we go with the Thursday Countdown…

Perfect Wedding Gift – This past weekend, Sidney and I received a pretty awesome wedding gift. Her parents have a great relationship with their next door neighbors and they are close to Sidney as well. Last Saturday, Sid was visiting with her parents at their house. She called me over saying that the neighbors had a wedding gift for us to open. I arrived and we went next door. The nice neighbors gave us a gift bag that had a gas can in it. After taking the container out and examining it, their garage door opened up and there was a lawn mower waiting for us! What a generous gift and what a fun way to give it. Thanks Sue and Jerry!!

Take a look at our brand new lawn mower.

Take a look at our brand new lawn mower.

Two Years of Timehop – On this date two years ago, I wrote about how I downloaded Timehop. Eventually I would write a whole post about the app. Today though I must call it out for being wrong. Under the two year banner for May 19, it has a photo of me with my neice. Nevermind the fact that I took this photo last July. The most glaring error of all is that Mikalya wasn’t even alive two years ago. I am still a Timehop fan but it sometimes has inaccurate information. 

This DID NOT happen two years ago. An embarrassing error for Timehop.

This DID NOT happen two years ago. An embarrassing error for Timehop.

“Money Monster” – On Friday night, Sidney and I went to the theater to watch “Money Monster.” The movie stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Clooney is an over-the-top money analyst television star and Roberts is his director. A disturbed man who had his savings depleted by bad advice given by Clooney on the show, takes the television host hostage during the live program. Sidney really enjoyed the film and gave it two thumbs up. I thought it was good but I didn’t necessailry like the villain (the person who took Clooney hostage). I just never got that cold and sadistic vibe I like from deranged characters. However, it is an action packed film.

Revised NBA Finals Pick – A few weeks ago I stated I wanted a Golden State vs. Charlotte matchup in the NBA Finals. Well, since the Hornets didn’t even make it out of the first round I have known that I would need to make a revised pick. I am hoping we get to see the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors duke it out for the championship. Just with the amazing ride the Warriors went on this year I think it would be a shame to not seem them in the finals. However, it wouldn’t bother too much either if the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled the upset and represented the Western Conference. I am adamant about my pick on the other side though. Although it doesn’t look like it is going to happen, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals. Slim chance. Enjoy the basketball, folks.

Wedding Update #32 – Sidney had her bridal shower last weekend and in addition to the lawn mower we received some fabulous gifts. We met with the church last night to finalize our liturgy. Now, when it comes to St. Andrew (where we are getting married), we just have our meeting with the priest and the rehearsal to go before it is showtime. Also, earlier this week we narrowed our song choice for our first dance to three finalists. And, believe it or not, we just now decided on which one we will use! It is a special melody indeed. Only 23 days to go!

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I wish you all a great weekend. Unlike last week, I don’t have a big idea for what I will write about on Sunday but I promise I will provide you with something. Don’t Blink.

Disagreeing With Dear Abby

As I have mentioned before, I read the advice columns. Many times I will just read the question from the puzzled reader and skip out on the advice from the “expert.” However, earlier this week I read a question that was interesting enough for me to read the response.

Here in Myrtle Beach the local newspaper runs Dear Abby. In the Monday column, a high school teacher wrote in. She explained that a fellow teacher had a fundraiser where she sold brownies for $1. A student came along and cleaned her out of the brownies, buying every single one. He then proceeded to re-sell those brownies for $2 each to his classmates during lunch. The teacher who wrote for Abby’s advice praised the student for his entreprenual spirit. However, her co-workers didn’t. The fellow teachers thought it was wrong to profit off a fundraiser. Talk about a dilemma!

Abby responded by siding with the person who wrote in. She explained that the young man was entitled to do whatever he wanted with the brownies. Never one to miss out on the opportunity to slip in a zinger, Abby added “If other students were willing to spend $2 for $1 brownies, well — that’s capitalism.” Nice one.

Here is my opinion. Please, take it or leave it…

I disagree with Abby and the person who wrote in declaring that the student should be praised for making a profit. However, that doesn’t mean I agree with the reasoning offered by the other teachers either.

I think it was in bad taste for the student to buy the brownies and then re-sell them. But I don’t believe it was wrong from the standpoint that he was profiting off of a charitable cause. The fundraiser had a maximum amount of money it could make with the prices that were set. The noble cause reached the maximum goal as the product completely sold out. The money was raised and the effort was a success.

With that said, I think the student acted inappropriately. In my eyes, what he did was incredibly disrespectful to the teacher who originally sold the brownies.

I think it is safe to say that the teacher put some planning into the fundraiser. Most likely she baked those brownies or at least made arrangements for someone else to make them. She arrived on campus and put herself out there by selling treats for a good cause. The product of her labor should have ended with the selling of the brownies and the enjoyment of them by the student and whoever he wanted to give them to (free of charge). The fact that the student bought her out and then immediately started re-selling them doesn’t sit well with me.

Although probably not his intention, the actions of the student is a slap in the face to the teacher. He showed her up in front of the whole school by making it look like he was more savvy than her. What he did displayed no appreciation for the efforts of the school employee and minimized the teacher-student relationship.

I do wonder what the teacher felt like as she watched the student sell her brownies. I bet it was a personal blow and a direction she never thought her good intentions would take.

How about you? Do you agree with Dear Abby and the teacher who wrote in? Do you agree with the co-workers? Or do you side with me? I am interested to hear your opinions. Don’t Blink.

For those curious, this is the question and answer as it appeared in Monday's Dear Abby column.

For those curious, this is the question and answer as it appeared in Monday’s Dear Abby column.

Eating at a Brazilian Steakhouse

It seems as if most people have dined at a Brazilian steakhouse at least once in their lives. Whether they were on vacation or celebrating a special occasion, it appeared majority of the people I talked to had crossed it off their bucket lists. For a lover of food like myself, it might come as a surprise that until recently I had never had the pleasure of eating at a Brazilian steakhouse before. That all changed last night.

Sidney and I celebrated our two year anniversary of being together by dining at Rioz, a Myrtle Beach Brazilian steakhouse that has a superb reputation in an area boasting one of the highest restaurants per capita ratios in the world. Both of us had wanted to eat at Rioz for a while so last night’s occasion provided the perfect opportunity.

This is what Rioz looks like from the outside.

This is what Rioz looks like from the outside.

For those who don’t know, a Brazilian steakhouse is a restaurant that provides diners with unlimited cuts of various meats. Employees walk from table to table with big skewers of different types of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. The restaurant personnel know to approach your table by looking at a card. If you have it flipped to the green side, the meat offerings will come; if you have it flipped to the red side, you will be left alone.

Sidney and I at our table at Rioz.

Sidney and I at our table at Rioz.

Actually though, the meat gorging is just one part of the experience. Let me now specifically tell you about the special meal Sid and I had at Rioz…

The place is supposed to be almost impossible to get a table at without waiting a couple hours. Because it was a Monday night, we were seated immediately. Our server greeted us as we sat down. As he gave us the “ground rules” of how the restaurant worked, a basket of rolls appeared between us. It would be like that the whole night…while you have a head server, a large team of restaurant employees take care of you, often working so efficiently that you don’t even notice them.

After the introduction, we went to the salad bar. At Rioz, as I am told is the same with other Brazilian steakhouses, the salad bar is outrageous. You just don’t have the freshest veggies, dressings, bacon, and croutons tempting you. Rather, you have items that make it more like a buffet than a salad bar. Fruits, cheeses, soups, potatoes, pasta, breads, noodles, sushi, beans, and so much more are available to enjoy. The price includes unlimited trips.

The salad bar at Rioz is extremely impressive.

The salad bar at Rioz is extremely impressive.

Even though throughout the day I told myself not to load up at the salad bar so I could maximize my meat intake, I still put too much on my plate. It was all good though because it tasted excellent.

My salad plate complete with pasta.

My salad plate complete with pasta.

Sidney and I finished our salads (and other items) and then bravely turned our cards from red to green. It was kind of a bizarre moment. I was expecting to be inundated with employees putting their skewers under our noses but there was a calm before the storm. It took a few minutes for us to be worked into the meat rotation. During this time, we were brought over mashed potatoes and served fried bananas and polenta.

Then the meat started coming. Each particular employee would come over and announce what was on the skewer and then it was up to us to either say “yes please” or “no thank you.” Before I knew it, I had top sirloin, filet mignon, and parmesan crusted pork loin on my plate. Okay, hold up.

This was my first round of meat at Rioz.

This was my first round of meat at Rioz.

Sidney and I turned our card back to red and started to really dig in. Drinks were refilled promptly and more mashed potatoes were brought to our table. We took time to really enjoy what was on our plate and I even tried Sidney’s lamb. We were already full after that first round but we knew we had to make ourselves vulnerable to the Rioz wait staff once again. The card went from red to green and the men with skewers returned.

My beautiful fiancé enjoying her dinner at Rioz.

My beautiful fiancé enjoying her dinner at Rioz.

This time around I found my plate topped with bacon wrapped chicken, bacon wrapped beef tenderloin, and more top sirloin. Sidney gave me most of her garlic steak as well. We ate this round much more slowly and although I considered turning the card back around one final time for possibly one more cut of meat, I thought better of it.

This was my second round of meat at Rioz.

This was my second round of meat at Rioz.

However, we couldn’t properly celebrate our anniversary without getting dessert. The staff could sense we were finished and they elegantly cleaned off our table and the young lady with the dessert cart appeared. After tossing around many options, we settled on splitting the crème brulee.

It wouldn't be an anniversary without dessert.

It wouldn’t be an anniversary without dessert.

You might be curious about pricing. The meal was worth the triple digit figure I was originally presented with but because of an outstanding 50% off buffet coupon that Sidney’s mom gave us, it was a real bargain at just $61. Great food, great service, and a great experience.

Either way you look at it, the check wasn't that bad.

Either way you look at it, the check wasn’t that bad.

Although I am craving the Rioz meats as I type this, I think it might be a while until we go back. Why? Because I really think my body needs all the time it can get to work off the million calories I consumed. However, I thoroughly enjoyed each one. Don’t Blink.

A Sweet Two Years

I really do think there is something to be said about fate. I moved to Myrtle Beach at the end of April 2014 to take a job at Coastal Carolina University. The big relocation was 90% about the professional opportunity and 10% about the weather. Not knowing how long I would be in the area, I never thought once that I would find love and meet the person who I would spend the rest of my life with.

May 16, 2014. Two years ago on this date I met Sidney for the first time at the pool of my apartment complex. Shortly thereafter we went on our first date. After that, well, the rest is history.

This is Sidney and I on our first date almost two years ago.

This is Sidney and I on our first date almost two years ago.

Despite the disorienting hot temperatures of that Friday afternoon and the slight buzz I was enjoying as I tried to keep up with the heat, I knew Sidney was special. What I didn’t know was that an invisible countdown ticker was immediately activated in our hearts. The number was 756.

This was Sidney and I on our one year anniversary in Savannah.

This was Sidney and I on our one year anniversary in Savannah.

Yes, 756, the number of days separating us from that first meeting at the pool to our eventual wedding date on June 11. As the time has ticked away, our love has grown. When that countdown reads multiple zeroes just 26 days from now, we will have made the ultimate promise to each other, a promise that first started developing that great afternoon two years ago.

Today marks the THIRD May 16 we have spent together. We are off now on our anniversary dinner.

Today marks the THIRD May 16 we have spent together. We are off now on our anniversary dinner.

Although we are excited to start counting wedding anniversaries, today’s two year anniversary of being together will do just fine. Sidney, thanks for being my puzzle piece. And God, thanks for our sweet fate. Don’t Blink.

The Battle of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Creams

For my big Sunday blog post, I wanted to write about a couple of my favorite topics I have covered in Don’t Blink before. One is ice cream (here, here, and here) and the other is taste tests. I combined these two joys of mine to create an intriguing and nerdy investigation.

I once ate seven scoops of ice cream in five minutes.

I once ate seven scoops of ice cream in five minutes.

Besides the three originals of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, there is another major player when it comes to ice cream flavors. Can you guess it? If you even care a small amount about ice cream you know I am talking about chocolate chip cookie dough. It doesn’t matter what brand you buy, what parlor you visit, or what gas station cooler you raid, chocolate chip cookie dough will be offered. It is an institution in the ice cream world.

We all know that all ice cream isn’t created equal. Even with vanilla, I could give you three different brands and you would be able to tell a difference between each one. However, with chocolate chip cookie dough, the variations in a scoop of generic product compared with a scoop of the Baskin-Robbins version are numerous. Besides the ice cream itself, you also have the quality of the cookie dough, the amount of cookie dough per serving, the size of the cookie dough, and the quality/amount of the chocolate chips/chocolate chunks.

An incredible cookie dough ice cream sundae Sidney and I once devoured.

An incredible cookie dough ice cream sundae Sidney and I once devoured.

So while the perception is that the premium brand of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is superior to the generic brand of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I wanted to test it out to be 100% sure. Today I went to a couple different stores and bought five different chocolate chip cookie dough ice creams.

Representing the generic group, I purchased the Great Value Wal-Mart brand and the Lowe’s Foods brand (for those out west, Lowe’s is a major grocery chain out here on the east coast). Representing the premium brand, I bought Ben & Jerry’s (how couldn’t I?) and Blue Bunny. Representing the middle of the line so to speak, I also bought a tub of the Breyers stuff.

This is the lineup of different cookie dough ice creams I bought this morning.

This is the lineup of different cookie dough ice creams I bought this morning.

Striving to be completely scientific and unbiased, I had Sidney serve as my official taste tester. I served a small scoop of each ice cream to her in an unmarked paper bowl. I then asked for her input!

Going in order starting with the best, here is how Sidney ranked each chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream along with her comments on each.

#1. Great Value (tasted first) – In an absolute shocker, Sidney identified the Wal-Mart brand cookie dough ice cream as her favorite. She said the ice cream was creamy and the cookie dough very tasty. She adamantly thought that the Great Value brand was Ben & Jerry’s. At under $3 per gallon, the Great Value ice cream was by far the least expensive but according to Sid’s taste buds it was the best!

In  the surprise of the century, Sidney liked the Great Value cookie dough ice cream  the best.

In the surprise of the century, Sidney liked the Great Value cookie dough ice cream the best.

#2. Lowe’s Foods (tasted third) – Continuing the surprising results, the Lowe’s Foods chocolate chip cookie dough dairy dessert was rated second best by Sidney. Although she commented that there was only a fair amount of cookie dough pieces in the dessert, she liked the vanilla ice cream the most out of all the selections she tasted today. So there you have it, two generic brands take the top two spots.

Coming in second place was the other generic brand, Lowe's Foods.

Coming in second place was the other generic brand, Lowe’s Foods.

#3. Blue Bunny (tasted fourth) – Although the Blue Bunny brand is third on the list, it is number one for presentation. When you open up the tub, the ice cream is molded into little hills mixed with cookie dough swirls. It makes for easy scooping. Sidney said the ice cream tasted similar to the Great Value version but it just didn’t have enough cookie dough. Also, Sidney thought the cookie dough swirl was a caramel swirl. Additionally, Blue Bunny says the ice cream is cookie dough flavored but it really just tasted like vanilla.

In the middle of the pack was ice cream powerhouse Blue Bunny.

In the middle of the pack was ice cream powerhouse Blue Bunny.

#4. Ben & Jerry’s – If you told Ben or Jerry that their ice cream finished behind Wal-Mart and a couple other brands, neither would be very happy. However, it is what it is. While Sidney gave them points for having the largest pieces of cookie dough, it didn’t make up for the fact that the pieces were too few and far between. But get this, she was less than impressed with the ice cream itself. Sidney said the vanilla ice cream tasted artificial, a major slap in the face to a company that prides itself on being all-natural.

In a million years I never thought Ben & Jerry's would be so low on the list.

In a million years I never thought Ben & Jerry’s would be so low on the list.

#5. Breyers – In the past I have praised this ice cream brand but it didn’t live up to my praise in the blind taste test. Sidney thought the ice cream tasted the most artificial out of them all. She commented that the small pieces cookie dough just didn’t taste very good. She also noted the lack of both cookie dough and chocolate chunks in the dessert. It was a bad day for Breyers.

Bringing up the rear was Breyers.

Bringing up the rear was Breyers.

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So now we have four gallons of ice cream plus a pint (Ben & Jerry’s) in the freezer. Brenda and Steph, if you are reading this, please come over and take some ice cream off our hands. Hope everyone enjoyed the review. Again I will reiterate that I was surprised by the results. I guess it is never smart to immediately discredit generic brands. Don’t Blink.