Pecan Thursday Rundown

We had a couple days of beautiful, humidity-free days here in Myrtle Beach. But the typical South Carolina summer weather has returned. Before I melt, let me get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Meeting a Star – Today I had the opportunity to meet Nikko Austen Smith, a cast member on the OWN television show “Queen Sugar.” How did such a thing happen? Well, Nikko is actually a CCU alumna. In fact, she just graduated in May! She auditioned for the show right before commencement and got the role. She returned to campus today to give an interview about all the exciting developments in her life (as always, Robin Russell did a spectacular job). She was gracious enough to grant me time to take photos and video of her for future social media content. Nikko is an individual with a BIG personality and no ego. It was a pleasure to meet her.

Nikki Austen Smith and I this morning (I did not mean to focus the photo on me…I feel like a jerk!).

Subway Drive Thru – Depending on where you live in the country, you might have Subway restaurants with drive thrus. Here in South Carolina, it is very common. As we can all guess, ordering a hamburger at a drive thru is much different than ordering a sub sandwich. A lot more can go wrong when you are ordering different types of breads, cheeses, veggies, and sauces. Because of this, I usually just go inside at Subway and order at the counter. Last Saturday, with Sloan comfortably in her car seat, we decided to use the drive thru. Although the sandwich artist only made one error on my sandwich (I didn’t want it toasted) it was the wait that made me wish we had went inside. With only a couple cars in front of us, it took about 15 minutes for us two get our two subs.

A photo I took at the Subway drive thru last Saturday.

A Resemblance? – On Sunday, I sent a photo to our very active Reser Pride 5.0 text messaging thread (it includes my immediate family and our significant others) of Sid, Sloan, and me at the bowling alley. It took just a second for my brother to respond with “Brent! Sloan looks just like you in that photo.” You be the judge. Here is a comparison that includes the photo that I sent to our text group and a couple photos of me when I was young.

Do you see a resemblance? The photo in the top corner is just a zoomed in photo of Sloan from the family photo. The two other small photos are of me.

Flying with Baby – A year ago on this date, Sloan flew on an airplane for the first time. We stressed ourselves out over how she would do on a cross country flight but she ended up doing great. If you are flying with a child for the first time, just make sure to relax and don’t care what other people think. For the most part, passengers will be understanding. Next week, Sloan will embark on her third plane trip. Traveling with a 16-month-old is different than traveling with a 4-month-old or a 9-month-old (Sloan’s ages on her other two trips) but we know she, and us, will survive.

Sidney and Sloan on the plane exactly one year ago today.

National Pecan Pie Day – Today we recognize one of the best desserts there is in this world. Treating yourself to a warm slice of pecan pie every now and then, especially on National Pecan Pie Day, is always okay. BUT, let me just reiterate that my Southern friends have it correct when it comes to the pronunciation of pecan – it is PEE-can, not PEE-con. Come on everyone, you pronounce it phonetically. Okay, enough with my lecture, go enjoy some dessert.

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Things are getting very, very busy for our family. Hope everyone else is in a good spot right now. Thanks for taking time to read my blog and I wish you a wonderful summer weekend. Don’t Blink.

The Tiny Price Hikes That Matter to Me

I am so thankful for the dramatic decrease in gasoline prices. It still seems almost too good to be true. I used to dread looking at gas stations signs advertising the price of a gallon but now I look at the 30 different ones I pass on my way to work each day with jubilation. With the complete transformation of gas prices from a once outrageous amount to a now laughably affordable amount, price increases elsewhere don’t register with me as much. However, there are three price hikes outside of the gasoline world that I have noticed very clearly. Do let me tell you what they are.

$5 Footlongs at Subway – Much to my horror, my classic Cold Cut Combo sub sandwich I purchase EVERY TIME I go to Subway is no longer $5. In fact, when I went and bought one at my local Wal-Mart Subway yesterday, I had to fork over $6.01 for my cold cut. This one hurts. The $5 price for a fresh meal was fair and it was a deal I had taken advantage of for probably five years. To have this sudden change slipped under my nose didn’t make me jump with joy. Oh well, I rather pay $6.01 for a sandwich as opposed to $4.03 for a gallon of gas.

It brings me great sadness to say goodbye to $5 footlongs.

It brings me great sadness to say goodbye to $5 footlongs.

Redbox Rentals – From reading the paper and seeing online reports I knew this one was coming but it still doesn’t mean I like it. In Montana and Washington I was paying in the ballpark of $1.20 per Redbox rental. When I moved to South Carolina I was paying around $1.30 which was increased I believe because of tax but nonetheless still a really cheap price. Last month renting a movie from a Redbox kiosk went up quite a bit percentage wise. I am now paying $1.61 a movie. Let me make clear that paying $1.61 for a couple hours of entertainment is still a darn good bargain but it is just the psychology of it all that messes with me. I was once paying a price that was closer to $1 than it was to $2. Now I am paying a price that is closer to $2 than $1. As someone who rents a lot of Redbox movies and who sometimes forgets to return the disc the next day, this does cause a minor impact. Good thing I have had some good books to read lately.

A Redbox rental is closer to 2 than it is to $1.

A Redbox rental is closer to 2 than it is to $1.

Rent Going Up – My one-year lease at my apartment complex expires in late April. Yesterday I received notice of my renewal options. Unfortunately, the “You have been such a good resident so we are going to lower your monthly rent” was not an option. As I know is common practice, my rent per month if I am to sign a new lease will increase. If I don’t want to sign a full year lease at the new price, I can pay month-to-month at a rate that is +$150 the new monthly rate for the year lease. As I am already paying on the high end for my living arrangements, I wasn’t too particularly thrilled with the increase. However, I do understand the economics of “market price.” I just wish there was at least a rent freeze for residents who are responsible and respectful.

My rent is going up!

My rent is going up!

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The best thing about these three increases? In the long run they are wiped out by the low price I pay to fuel my car. So I need to shut up and stop complaining about paying a buck more for a sandwich and a few cents extra for a movie rental. My transportation is essential, stuffing my face with footlongs and watching trashy movies are not. Don’t Blink.

My Favorite Fast Food Place

This Christmas my wish list was pretty much fulfilled because I got the one gift I wanted the most! No, not a GoPro, not a kendama, not accessories for my iPhone, not even a pack of socks. What made me bursting with holiday joy was when on a couple of different gift opening extravaganzas I ripped open a gift box that had what I really wanted…Subway gift cards!

The Subway gift cards I got for Christmas.

The Subway gift cards I got for Christmas.

I am a mega Subway sandwich fan. By a large margin it is my favorite fast food restaurant (Taco Bell a distant second). If I pick up dinner before I go home, if I am traveling, or if I am working late and need food, Subway is my choice to fill up on. I love it and I get hungry just thinking about sinking my teeth in one of their sandwiches.

Rest assured everyone, I haven’t fallen for the Subway marketing BS that says their sandwiches probably equate to the healthiest meal on earth. I think the whole Jared diet plan is a complete scam. While I would say Subway can be a healthier option than McDonalds or Wendy’s, I do know that SW can push on the calories. Unless you are eating a flatbread veggie six inch sub each time you go, make no mistake about it, sandwiches in general are not the healthiest food choice. Especially if you get a foot long, choose a bread with cheese on it, add sauces, and then decide to order chips and a drink with it, you are looking at a pretty fattening meal. But come on, that is what makes it so good!

So I am definitely guilty of my first two ways of “fattening up” a Subway trip. Unless I am going in for lunch, I am always getting a foot long and my all-time favorite bread is the Monterey cheddar…YUM! Can anyone guess what my sub of choice is? What’s that you say? Oh, you don’t care?!?! Of course! But let me tell you anyway….COLD CUT COMBO…every single time! Subway’s cold cut combo never gets old for me and it is always $5 so it is also a complete bargain. Although I don’t get chips and a drink with my subs I must admit that I always am tempted to get the jalapeno variety while I am paying.

I like nothing more than a fresh cold cut combo from Subway

I like nothing more than a fresh cold cut combo from Subway

I think one of the reasons why I love Subway so much besides of it just tasting good is that it is so readily available. There are Subways everywhere! When it comes to the city of Missoula, I think it is an understatement! We have Subway sandwich shops all over the place. You can find various locations on the same streets, you can find them in shopping areas, you can find them in a few convenient stores, you can find one in our mall, and you can even find one in our Wal-Mart! It doesn’t really matter where I am at in Missoula, I am always walking distance from a Subway.

With so many different locations and with my tendency to never really just settle on a certain one, you tend to find out that not all Subways do things the exact same way. Depending on the place I go to the sandwich artist always seems to fold my meat onto my sandwich in a different way. Some lines go from left to right while some go from right to left. Some carry soup while others don’t. Some participate in certain national promotions while other locations act like they have never even heard of them before. Some locations will always bag your sub and put napkins in it while others will just wrap your sub and hand it to you. Some stores will use shredded cheddar cheese while most every other store will use sliced cheddar cheese. However, I like these little eccentricities of each Subway. It keeps things interesting and encourages me to explore the city.

A sneak picture I took at the east Broadway Subway in Missoula

A sneak picture I took at the east Broadway Subway in Missoula

With all the differences of each different Subway sandwich shop there is one thing that they all have in common: That oh so amazing smell! Besides ice cream shops, there is no other place that smells better than a Subway restaurant. That heavenly smell of fresh baked bread mixed with the fresh ingredients mixed with the marinara from the meatballs produces one of my all-time favorite smells. There needs to be an air freshener called “Subway Sandwich Restaurant”. I would definitely buy it.

Sadly, my gift cards from the holiday season are just about exhausted. Lately I have averaged around 2-3 trips to Subway a week. Definitely not the best of habits but I simply love the sandwiches and my stomach definitely feels way better after eating a sub rather than a taco or burger. So go ahead and call me “Jared” if you want but remember I am not doing the walking and I am not losing the weight. EAT FRESH. Don’t Blink.