Evol rules my world

Since I previously posted about food, let me spend a few minutes talking about a food I really like, evol.

I work 30 minutes from my home, and the distance makes it impossible to go home for lunch. I don’t want to spend too much on food, and the options near my workplace are limited. I also am sometimes limited on time for lunch, and I rarely cook dinner so have few leftovers. What to do? Frozen dinners.

evol frozen dinners
evol has a lot of vegetarian options include two versions of ravioli.
evol frozen dinners have points
Save the points on the box for cool tshirts and goodies. What a great branding idea.

Hey, I know it sounds awful, but they’ve come a long way. When I first started eating frozen food, the pre-made dinner options were pretty awful – high in calories and fat. Since that time, they’ve come a long way. The brand I especially like is evol. They have a variety of vegetarian options that I dress up with low calorie goodies like hot sauce, fresh tomatoes, and green peppers. They are relatively low in calories with each dinner clocking in under 400 calories. The lasagna and mac and cheese are higher, so consult the box.

Finally, they have an evol community option. Each box contains points printed on the box. Collect the points, and you can send your points in for cool t-shirts and other neat stuff. It’s great branding, and the community gear options are very nice.


evol hoodie
I traded in 200 box points for this awesome hoodie. Even more great branding. Now I’m wearing their brand.

Idaho Candy for the Weird

I recently returned from a trip to Boise, Idaho. Although born and (mostly) raised on the East Coast, I lived in Boise as a child and for a year after graduate school. My parents returned to Boise in 1996 and have been there ever since. I visit every few years and always make a stop at Idaho Candy.

Idaho Candy is one of the few remaining independent candy companies in the country, and you don’t get to stay independent making knockoff Snicker’s bars or pseudo Kit Kats. Their candy is different and kind of odd. I adore it.

The signature bar is a Spud, “a wonderful combination of a light cocoa flavored, soft marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut (Sorry, no potato!)”. Coconuts are a little like mushrooms and olives, you either love them or hate them. I’m in the former camp for all. They also make candy coated peanuts and a huckleberry candy bar, the huckleberry being well known in the area.

The original factory still resides downtown, and you can buy candy and t-shirts in their small store front. It’s old-timey and delightful.

If you want to learn more about Idaho Candy, how candy is sold and made, and independent candy companies in the US, I’d recommend Candy Freak by Steve Almond. Almond is currently known as the co-host of Dear Sugars, a podcast with Cheryl Strayed. I’d recommend it as well.

Even the packaging on the candy is old timey. I wouldn’t want it updated. It will never compete with MM Mars or Hershey so why try.


The Friendly Toast

Finding the world’s greatest breakfast place is usually my husband’s job when we are on vacation. Breakfast is very important to him, and since we often skip lunch, he wants something substantial and good. This sometimes means an uncomfortably long early morning walk or a dead end when we find the perfect place opens too late. (We’re early risers.) In New Hampshire, we found this nifty place in Portsmouth, The Friendly Toast. It turns out the Portsmouth location is the mother ship as this is a chain now has outposts in Boston (Back Bay) and Cambridge. The menu was eclectic and vegetarian friendly, which is important for us. I had veggie biscuits and gravy for the first time ever.  The decor is pure kitsch to match the menu and the groovy staff. You can check out their decor on their website under “Our Gallery of Goodness.” Highly recommended.

Table Decoration Kitsch galore at The Friendly Toast

The Press Hotel

I just returned from a trip to New England that started in Portland, ME. My husband and I did some quick math and figured out it had been 8 years since we stayed in Portland. The Press Hotel was our first stop. This hotel did not exist on our last visit, and I found it utterly charming. It was housed in the former home of the Portland Press Herald, the largest newspaper in Maine. It operated here until 2009. The decorators included some completely wonderful type and print references throughout the building to reference its history. Highly recommended. Tips: Use the valet parking. It really is cheaper and easier than parking your own ride. They sell the lovely cup pictured below, but at $30, I wasn’t willing to risk it breaking in my luggage on the flight home.

Press Hotel Mug
Custom made cups in the room was a beautiful touch.
Accent wallpaper with type
This accent wallpaper in the hall referenced Portland and Maine.
Type on a carpet
That’s not an optical illusion. The type falls off the wall and onto custom made carpet.
Hotel room number
Hotel room numbers were projected via a clever light fixture. ADA compliant signs are underneath.
Type embroidered on a chair
A bit of filler text embroidered on the back of the office chair.

A Little Spray Paint

This little seating area was in Portland, ME. Someone took a can of spray paint to some inexpensive chairs and created a lovely little outdoor space on a budget.

Gold chairs
Someone spray painted these chairs for a rather lovely effect.

Urban/Rural Divide

Interesting article on the urban/rural divide from New York Magazine. Cities always faced formidable challenges including deindustrialization well before rural areas, but their concentration of activists and ability to share solutions allows them to overcome setbacks and tackle problems effectively. I know I felt a strong pull to rejoin our fair Northeastern city when we bought our home in the NW end in ’05.

“For most of us, living in cities means living close to those who are both like us and not. Even just walking down a city block means having no idea who will cross your path, what they believe, or how they will behave. Strolling is a succession of chance meetings, the vast majority of them superficial. At times, a dense neighborhood can feel like a village, where you bump into friends or revive dormant acquaintances. At other times, it means confronting a vast and entrenched homeless population. Urbanites take this haphazardness for granted. We have the ingrained habit of sharing space, of encountering difference, of swimming in the collective soup.”