Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Stay Cool During Summer (Through Your Mouth)

Living in Southern California, in an area where summer means you could vacation on the Equator to cool off, we’ve made it a family tradition to take a trip to Northern CA every June to visit Mrs. Dude’s sister and her family. The sisters have fun, the cousins get to play and we all cool off. This summer, however, things were a tad different.

Sure, we made the trek and everyone had a good time, but this visit was as hot and humid as a bonfire in a sauna. And they don’t have air-conditioning, like most homes in the area, because it never gets hot up there. (Except when it does.) So I took it upon myself to figure out alternative method for cooling the gang off.

California is in a drought so running through the sprinkler is off-limits.

Taking an ice bath sounds cool, but I imagine hypothermia isn’t too much fun either.

Creating a vision board with images of igloos and glaciers could help with mind over matter, but I 
doubt that would satisfy my scorching inner core. 

As I sat there contemplating options, I heard an alarm go off in my brain with the perfect solution. Well, actually it wasn’t an alarm as much as a cacophony of annoying rhythmic earworms designed to draw children out of their homes by that fellow every parent hates, AKA the Ice Cream Man.

Thankfully my kids are not yet fully aware of or attuned to his jingle-jangle but I had an idea, so I headed to their local grocery store for A) a few precious moments in free air-conditioning and B) some cool delicious treats.

I’d heard that Klondike recently added some heavy hitters to their classic brand of ice-cream bars, but I wanted to find out for myself. Thankfully with 4 adults and 4 kids staying under one hot tin roof, I had the perfect sample size to not feel guilty about trying out a smorgasbord of Klondike’s newest creations.
I was impressed by the options I discovered, as I was previously only really familiar with the old-school Klondike chocolate-on-vanilla variety. After looking over their lineup, with choices like Heath Bar and Rocky Road, which took up almost its own section in the freezer aisle, I settled on a quartet of diverse options for every palate in the house. Also, I didn’t rush my decision as the A/C felt as amazing as the ice cream options looked. 

I’d heard about Klondike’s new Kandy Bar lineup and was tempted by the Cookies and Cream option, which is my 5 year old’s favorite flavor, but wasn’t sure if he’d be down with the white chocolate shell. Luckily there is an Oreo option in the regular collection which made for a great alternative for my picky eater. On the flipside, I debated the Mint Chocolate Chip classic-shaped variety, but opted to give the Kandy Bars’ Mint Fudge Cookie a shot because it had a few extra bells and whistles to nom. Peanut Butter anything has long been my jam, so Reese’s was a no-brainer for the cart. Cookie Dough is another one of my favorites, as it is for pretty much everyone I know.

My choices waiting in the freezer.
After dinner that night I opened up the freezer and the sampling began. With three 6-packs and one 4-pack (the Kandy Bars), we had at least 22 opportunities to try things out without anyone having to share. To make sure everyone got to try everything, however, we did some slicing and dicing of the bars, quartering them to afford everyone ample chance without over committing.  

I immediately jumped into the Reese’s bar and that classic PB flavor did not disappoint. Rich and creamy peanut butter is always the perfect answer, no matter the question. Next I decided to give the brand new Cookie Dough bar a whirl, since cookie dough has long been one of my go-to ice cream choices. I like my cookie dough ice cream to be full of chunks and, when I unwrapped it I was disappointed to see that unfortunately that wasn’t the case with these, which contained “ribbons” of cookie dough, per the wrapper. I wanted to like this one, I really did, but to be honest, it tasted like Vanilla ice cream with just a miniscule hint of cookie-dough flavoring that only an ice cream sommelier (if there is such a thing) could sniff out.
I wish the Cookie Dough had been a little more doughy. 
The Little Dude is an Oreo aficionado, so we split one of those next. It was definitely a good choice, like a classic Cookies and Cream kicked up a notch. Definitely a solid selection.

Mint Fudge Cookie is the way to go. 
Finally I dove into the brand spankin’ new Mint Fudge Cookie choice from the Kandy Bars collection. These deviate from the classic Klondike square shape and are shaped like, you guessed it, (rectangular) candy bars. This one was nails. The mint ice cream was light enough to be the perfect balance for the rich layer of fudge lying atop it. The dark chocolate crunch-filled outer shell really made this the best of the 4 options we tried. I only wish it came in a 6-pack, rather than 4, because these went like hotcakes, which would definitely NOT be a good flavor for Klondike to expand into.

Overall, I was impressed by the diversity of Klondike’s 12 different options, especially since I was previously unaware that they made anything beyond their original classic chocolate shell on vanilla ice cream style. I give them credit for trying to mix things up with some new varieties, even if they weren’t all my cup of tea.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Klondike. I received free product coupons to facilitate my review as well as compensation for my participation.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another Independence Day Loop Around the Blogosphere

It was a holiday weekend and I had Friday off from work. The zoo kicked things off and the beach wrapped it up. In between came a long day in the pool leading into a night spent watching the summer sky become splatter-painted as we celebrated our nation’s birthday. I’m tired. And busy. And often lately I’ve been tired of feeling so busy.

Zero score and four years ago on Independence Day 2011, I sat down at my laptop and started typing. I only had one son and he loved naps, just as I did the simultaneous several free hours they afforded me every afternoon. I miss those days. Life is different now. Mrs. Dude and I are the proud owners of two sweet and occasionally sour sons who, as of just a few weeks ago, combine to take zero naps on a daily basis. My older son ditched his afternoon delight shortly before his brother was born and in a couple short months, the younger and Littler Dude will turn 3.
A few hours after my first post, July 4, 2011
The calendar seems to turn faster every day, week and month and my two babies have become boys. I miss the babies, but enjoy being able to have a two-way conversation now and again. They both sleep about 11 or 12 hours per night, which seem to go much quicker than the other half-day which often moves s-l-o-w-l-y, even when filled with amazingly fun activities. Also, especially when dinner is about an hour away and 60 minutes feels like 600 thanks to the constant snack requests Mrs. Dude and I field.

We’ve been fortunate to have some incredible experiences as a result of this little blog. Many I’ve shared and countless more I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t quite had the time to finish. I frequently think of the tired movie trope of the wannabe writer longing to publish “The Great American Novel”, but settling for being a teacher, actor or whatever, and I find it oddly parallel to my blogging own writing situation. I wish I published more, I really do, but those afternoon hours my boys once filled with sleep (and I with writing), they now want to use for playing, swimming and silliness which, like naps, are finite activities with a likely expiration date of about 10 years when they become tweens and teens who will want nothing to do with me.

So I brainstorm ideas in the shower, when I have no ability to type and the Great American Blog Post once again eludes me. I have a folder filled with dozens of drafts I haven’t finished, or whose timeliness has passed, and wonder if I’ll ever make the time to post them all. There is funny stuff, sad stuff and random ideas which could go either way. I want to push them out. I need to push them out. The thoughts in my head need to be released, but I have to make the time. And I will. Just after we finish putting this puzzle together, then making dinner, bath and bedtime, laundry, dishes and those precious few ZZZZ’s I so long for.

For better or worse I’m still here four years later, which was inconceivable to me on July 4, 2011, when this all began with a very sleep boy and some random silly thoughts. Please stay tuned for there IS more to come, and thanks for sticking with me through it all. Your eyes on my words mean more than you know. 

The Dude family, 4 Independence Days later


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