Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to One and All!

Today is probably my favorite holiday of the whole year.  We decorate our house modestly, though I'm thinking I may amp it up next year (I say this every year) because there is just so much cool stuff out there.  I cruise Pinterest and pin tons of decorating ideas.  There are just so many ways to decorate and I love them all.  We do run into a bit of a cramp with a child's birthday during the month so we have to decorate after that is all put away - hence why the 'amping up' never happens I think. Regardless, the kids love playing with the decorations that we put out for at least a few weeks before we transition to the next holiday.  Their favorites this year have been the ghost and bat pillows and the plastic pumpkin treat buckets.

We also took a trip to the pumpkin patch and purchased over 40lbs of pumpkins.  Yep, you read that correctly - FORTY PLUS POUNDS!  We spent Monday night carving the guts out of those pumpkins - a good time was had by all.  Thankfully this year I remembered to bring the pumpkins inside more than 24 hours in advance so they could warm up and we weren't freezing our little fingers off.  Frost bite from pumpkin guts is something I never hope to experience - though I think I've come close.  Alas this trick worked!  The pumpkin goo was warm and toasty and it was so much easier to carve as well.  Both my husband and I were very happy with the results.  We will light candles in our pumpkins tonight and put them out on our front step to welcome all of our trick or treaters!

I also planned a very special dinner menu before we headed out for our trick or treating. We will be having jack-o-lantern grilled cheese sandwiches (grilled cheese sandwiches cut out with a pumpkin cookie cutter - I also drew on eyes, a nose, and a mouth with balsamic vinegar), bloody spider soup (tomato soup with a yogurt web), and monster chompers (apples slices held together with peanut butter with marshmallow teeth).  This is a change up from what we usually have.  Honest to Pete for the last eight years (I'm so sorry #1!) we have had mummy dogs (hotdogs wrapped up with crescent dough with mustard eyes), witches coins (carrot cut into circles), monster blood (ketchup), and tombstone tots (tator tots).  Last year, #1 was not excited at all with my special menu and was like, "oh no, not again."  So that's when I decided I needed to switch it up.  I sure hope they like it.  If you need some Halloween dining ideas, please check this site out - I get a lot of inspiration from these girls: our best bites Halloween food.

After dinner, the kids get all loaded up with their warm clothes first and then get their costumes on. Unfortunately we live in an area where Halloween is super cold and to avoid not having full viewing pleasure of our costumes, we put long underwear and jackets underneath our costumes.  Thankfully this year, it was pretty easy to do this with both of the kids costumes.  Some years - I'm having princess flashbacks - it was much more difficult.  I usually end up taking the kids out around the neighborhood so I can get some exercise and to monitor their manners while Thew stays home to answer the door which he thoroughly loves (I'm not 100% sure about that statement actually.)  Sometimes he terrorizes the kids that come to the door but I think both parties think that it's kind of fun.  Who knows, everyone has their role and we all do them very well.

When we get home, but only after trick or treating at our own house, the kids will dump out their candy and oogle over it all.  #1 will immediately start sorting it because I'm sure she has to report the next day in school how many of each kind she received.  I really love that about teachers, because it's not like we just were out all night and then we have to do homework when we get home - thanks guys!  #2 will just stare and then start asking how many he can have before he goes to bed.  If there are any new candies, I'll make sure to nab them so I can check them out first.  We wouldn't want our kids to get any bad candy, now would we?  Of course we expect all of their loot before anyone can have a bite, thank you freak-a-zoids from the 80's with your razor blades and poisons.  We end up throwing some out each year but then the rest goes to work with Thew.  Ever notice how office people end up eating all that crap within minutes?  It's amazing to me.

After putting the kids to bed with dreams of snickers, M&Ms, and Reese's peanut butter cups in their heads, I'll plop down on the couch and enjoy some Halloween TV of my own.  Oh what a beautiful time we will have had!

I'll report any updates on Friday!

Until Next Time,
J.K. Sasse

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

9th Birthday: A Love Letter to My Daughter

Before October is officially over, I wanted to make sure I posted this love letter to my daughter who turned nine this month.

Dear #1,

You are nine years old!!! I can't believe it.  I remember clearly the day you were born.  I was exhausted from your birth as it was a doozy but so excited for you to be here.  You were super small (3lbs 7 oz) but 100% perfect.  I loved you from the minute that I heard your cry, for you see I didn't get to hold you until the day after you were born.  You were 6 weeks early and we did not plan on your early arrival.  The medical staff wanted to make sure that you were stable before we could hold you and when I did, my love for you grew one hundred times over.

Now, you are a thriving third grader.   You are over 50lbs with long lanky limbs, delicate fingers, vivid blue eyes, blondie-blonde-blonde hair, and beautiful dark long lashes.   You are sweet, kind, generous, loving, shy and outgoing at the same time, strong, lively, and brave.  You are a good daughter, a loving big sister, and a fantastic friend.

You are super duper smart and work so hard at your school assignments.  You bring home the best school grades and report cards, we are so proud of you. Besides that, your teachers and friends adore you - what is there not to love??

I enjoy watching you be very active in many activities, like swimming, cheer, dance, softball, and Girl Scouts.  You have blossomed into a little athlete and enjoy being with your special group of friends.  You are so lucky to have this group of friends always at your side.  They are all very nice girls and I hope you are all BFFs for a very long time!

There have been times over the years that I have wanted to jump in and solve all of your problems but have realized that you handle things pretty well.  You are mature and wise beyond your years and you think through situations with a kind heart even though what you receive in return is not the same all of the time.  I know all of this is a learning experience for you yet it is still hard for me to watch. I want to protect you forever because you'll always be my little girl.  I know deep down you need to experience these things like the bully girl who claims to be your friend but tries to intimidate you and others into doing what she always wants to do.  I know I need to step back and let you experience life - the ups and the downs. It will make you a better person and ready for the world but not for another 9 years - because up until then you are all mine girlie!!!

You are growing into such a wonderful young lady. I am proud to be your mother and am so proud of you in many ways. You have exceed my expectations of having a daughter and I love you more than infinity! 

I love you with all of my heart,

P.S. Next year you'll be in double digits - what will we do then!!!

Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Freebie: Two Halloween Shows You'll Want To See!

Last week, I let you know about the Halloween children's show: "Toy Story of TERROR!" and while I was researching additional airing times for that one, I found two out that the Smurfs and the Grinch have great Halloween shows too. Who knew, Cindy Lou Hoo?

Sunday, October 27 on ABC Family:
ABC Family premiere of "Dr. Seuss' Halloween is Grinch Night" (7:00 -7:30 AM ET/PT)
Television premiere of "The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow" (7:30 - 8:00 AM ET/PT)

Both of them are on in the morning on a Sunday and frankly at a time before I want to be getting everyone up so I will be DVRing these two.  Since I could not find any other air times for this I wanted to tell you before they aired.  I have not seen either of these shows therefore I cannot give you a review but hey - this is a Friday Freebie so score for you.  Set your DVR and watch them later on - I'm sure your kids will thank you!

Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gee Eff- Part 2: Why My Family Went Gluten Free

Last week I gave you all the low-down on why I had to go gluten free.  This week, I'm going to explain why the whole family went gluten free and how we did it.
So now that I was terrorized by the fact that I could no longer eat bread, I decided to half heartedly go gluten free.  You know, mostly at home eating gluten free but when I went out into the world, it was a free for all including gluten!  By doing this, I relied on grocery store shelf products that were gluten free and didn't make anything from scratch - mostly because gluten free (GF) bread is readily available on the shelf or freezer.  My favorite is actually the Schar White Bread - it costs just about $6.00 a loaf and lasts me roughly a week.  Yep, I was spending $24 a month just on bread that I ate for breakfast.  This did not include the crackers, rolls, and other breads that I was buying too. Most of them were three times what regular gluten laden products cost. At the time, I didn't really care though because it was just me and the cost was not that significant.
Then that fall (I found out about me in the summer), #2 was chronically sick with infection after infection.  It was crazy especially since he just had his tonsils out and I did not expect this at all.  I had already taken him to an allergist and every single test had come back negative.  At this point I felt my only option was Nutritional Response Testing (NRT).  We had done this with him as a baby to see if he was not tolerating his formula and other baby foods but didn't really have any luck since he was so young.  The process is also a tad iffy to me, even to this day.  They have you hold on to a vile of the item they are testing against you and then see how your muscles reflex to it. With children they have to be held by an adult and have the test done through the adult. This just seems so wacky to me and unreliable.  I did it anyway because we were desperate for our little guy to be well.  Every single vile tested negative except for.... wait for it.... WHEAT!
At this point our entire household went gluten free since now half of the family had to live gluten free. I threw out tons of open packages of gluten laden food and started replacing it with only gluten free foods, but that quickly started to rack up to some pretty significant dough (no pun intended) now that I was buying for four and not just one.  I knew that if we were going to be gluten free long term that I was going to have to start making stuff myself and from scratch.  This is when I turned to amazon and started researching cookbooks.  I bought a ton and to start used Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour products. 
It was a rocky start. I have tried tons of on the market loaves of bread all at several dollars a pop and the only one that is remotely ok to me is Schar white bread even though it was not whole grain. I just used my last loaf and I swear I'm going to tackle a bread recipe this week that will be our standby - even if it kills me (UPDATE: I tried this week and was successful! YEA ME!).  Thank god, Auntie Annie's brand offers GF mac-n-cheeses that the whole family will eat - straight from a box.  Otherwise, I make all of our home goods like cookies. donuts, cupcakes, cakes, etc..  all homemade - you name it, I make it all from scratch, including rolls, pizza crusts, and so much more.  Yep, it takes a lot of planning and more time to do this but isn't our health really important? 

The worst part about it all was that we went 100% gluten free in our household the first part of December.  That meant that I needed to come up with a gluten free Christmas menu that would knock everyone's socks off.  I had my work cut out for me. The cookbook that I naturally turned to was Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, by Nicole Hunn.  It literally had everything in it that I needed to make our Christmas day dinner 100% GF all in one cookbook and the ingredients weren't completely wacky.  I made GF rolls, gravy, chocolate skillet cake, stuffing, and even green bean casserole.  It all turned out great.  After a successful meal and an entire day spent in the kitchen making it, I announced to the family and our guests that everything was gluten free.  They exclaimed, "Oh but surely the cake wasn't, it was so good."  Yes people, it was and eating gluten free doesn't mean you are destined to a life of eating food that tastes like crap. It just isn't so!
As a little side track - just this month, I made 5 dozen cupcakes for #1's birthday parties:  1 dozen white, 1 dozen yellow, and 3 dozen chocolate with Nutella cloud frosting - they were to die for and everyone loved them.  For my daughter's last cheer practice, I made pumpkin spice chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting.  Again, they were a huge hit and people could not believe they were gluten free.  They all were and they all tasted great because GF food tastes great when you take the time and energy to make it correctly.
Any way, back to the original tale..... At this time, the only person 100% gluten free all of the time was #2.  He didn't have a spec of it unless it was an accident somewhere and they didn't know about his lifestyle.  I was still eating gluten when I was out and about.  Then in early winter of the following year, I was retested.  My thyroid antibodies had come down significantly (by 100pts).  It dawned on me that if this happened just by cutting out gluten at home, think of what it would be if I did it 100%????  That is when I went 100% gluten free - inside and outside of the home.  It has not been the easiest to say the least but we either bring our GF foods with us to the restaurant or we get creative with the menu. 
One point I do want to make about us is that we do not watch cross contamination very well.  True celiacs, cannot eat food that was touched by a gluten food, fried in the same fryer as gluten food, or created with the same dishes, pots, pans or utensils that have touched gluten.  For these people, it is a true life threatening allergy.  #2 and I just have intolerances, so to be honest, I just have not been that great about the whole cross contamination issue and we seem to be doing ok.  In fact, both of our health's have improved drastically.
Going gluten free has been the best thing that our family has done.  Besides improving my health - I have more energy, I sleep better, my skin is better, etc... I have not checked my thyroid antibodies in a while, but I'm almost sure they are way lower than they have been in years. As far as #2 goes, people have commented on the fact that he no longer has super dark circles under his eyes and generally looks great.  Our dentists have raved about the health of our gums for both us and we have different dentists.  This is not a coincidence.  It is fact. 
Will we keep this up long term?  For me the answer is yes.  As I get older I know it will only get worse, so there is no going back. Technically, they say that #2's future NRT tests could come back negative for wheat and then he can start eating it again, but I think - will he start to get sick again?  will it be a few years and then he has to go GF again?  I don't know, so for now, we are sticking to GF eating for the both of us.  Obviously we have some genetic deal going on here and if he can do it now while he is a kid, it will be so much easier as he gets older because he'll already like naturally gluten free foods like fruits, veggies, dairy, and lean proteins.  There are so many GF pastas out there that he can turn to and even bread.  Though I do have visions of sending him to college with a mini freezer full of all his GF foods so he doesn't have to come home every weekend and get some of my stash.  I laugh at myself for thinking about this as he is on 4.5 years old.  I have plenty of other obstacles to hurdle first like b-day parties, sleepovers, and camp.  I know we'll make it through even though it will be hard at first and who knows, by then his college campus may already offer all gluten free options. Gluten free living has come a long way in a few short years, so I can't even imagine what it will be like in 13 years from now!
More to come on being GF.  I have many blog and cookbook reviews to help you navigate as well as some recipes up my sleeve to help you out with your GF cooking and baking.
Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

P.S.  Happy 40th Birthday to my bestie!!!  You know who you are!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Review: Gluten Free on a Shoestring

So, I let the cat out of the bag.  I am living a Gluten Free lifestyle with my family.  In order to do this, it takes a village, because baking/cooking gluten free can be extremely difficult.  After I accepted my fate, I went directly to Amazon to search for some cookbooks.  The very first one I found was Gluten-Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn.  (FYI: I plan on doing a review of each of her cookbooks but for now, it's the blog's time to shine.)

When the book arrived and I started to read it, I found out that this author had a blog.  What?  Honest to Pete - I was not into blogs. I mean, I knew people had them but I did not regularly follow or read any.  Zero - Zilch.  Until this one....

The Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog ( speaks to me.  The photos are superb - you not only get finished product photos but step by step process photos to make sure you are on track. The writing style is witty and informative but not over the edge by any means.  And the recipes - THE RECIPES PEOPLE - are out of this world. Nicole posts every day unless she's working on a cookbook project but even then it's at least 3-4 times a week.  I find this 100% fantastic and I wonder how she does it.  She develops all of these recipes herself and has shown us a tiny glimpse of her process.  It is truly amazing.

Not only does her blog have oodles of recipes that you need to have in order to feel normal living gluten free, but she has deconstructed a number of  the 'on the market' gluten free flour blends and completed bake offs, so we would know how they performed in each baking situation.  These posts are definitely worth going into the archives for to see which one will fit your lifestyle and needs.  On top of all of this, she has also given us the actual break down of how these flours are made up so you can construct/mix them yourself and save oodles of money doing so.  (Select the "gluten free flour" button on the lower right hand side of her home page to link directly to this information.)

Usually at the end of the week (and not every week, because she likes to keep us guessing), she creates a montage of some sort.  One week it may be gluten free muffins, another week it's donuts, and yet another (like last week) it was whoopee pies!  So now she is sorting through the archives for us and collecting like minded recipes in one spot for our easy reference.  That is a blogger who appreciates her audience and is here for you. Yes - I mean you! and me too of course!

Another thing I really like about Nicole is that you feel like you get to know her but not in a creepy way.  She shares personal stories about being gluten free and how it affects her family of five.  You know how hard it is if you're gluten free to live a 'normal' foodie life, so having someone that understands and is dedicated to delivering replacements is a big deal.  A really big deal. So for that, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Though her cookbooks focus more on the cost savings regarding her method of baking/cooking gluten free, the blog does not go into this detail on a daily basis.  She does comment on where she sources her individual ingredients as far as which products are the best quality and price.  She shares storage solutions, and other money saving tips but if you are looking for more of this, then her cookbooks are the place to get the skinny, not the blog.

Nicole loves comments on her posts, so I try to leave a word of thanks or appreciation to let her know that all of her hard work is not wasted on the internet black hole.  She almost always responds, which is also super cool.  Through these postings, I have met a few GF ladies who live close by and have become friends.  Something that I never thought would happen nor was I looking for such an enhancement to my life, but surprise! - it did and that my friends is heartwarming.

So now it's time for me to rate this blog - again using a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is the worstie, worst, worst and 10 is the bestie, best, best):

Photos:  9
Writing Style:   9
Quality of Posts (recipes): 9
Frequency of Posts:  10
Overall Rating: 9

Please go check it out, even if you are not gluten free, you'll be bamboozled by Nicole and her blog as well!

Until next time...
J.K. Sasse

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Freebie: Toy Story of TERROR!

Ok friends, this is going to be quick and dirty - but hey, it's an extra post on a Friday no less - so score for us all!  I love holidays and I really love Halloween.  I'm not sure why to be exact but I do in a serious way.  So when I saw that there was going to be a Toy Story Halloween special on, I had to DVR it for me and the kids.

This week, ABC aired a new cartoon which I'm sure you'll add to your archives: Toy Story of  TERROR!  It was another wild adventure that the toys have gone on but this time, all of Bonnie's toys are a long for the ride too.  Bonnie and her mother are on a road trip and have to make an unexpected stop at a roadside motel where creepy things start to happen......

My #2 who is 4.5 years old, was mesmerized by this short little Halloween ditty.  He did not think it was scary, though I do think some parts can be taken as a little frightening by younger kids.  So I'm not sure I'd let kids under 3 years old watch this.  But for 3 and up, this is a great little piece that they will enjoy over and over again - like us.  We've seen it every night since it aired and I'm sure we'll tee it up again tonight before bed.

Now, that I've intrigued you, I'm sure you'll want to watch it for yourself.  So I googled when it would be on again and here is what I found from

October 19th, 8pm EDT - ABC Family
October 20th, 7:30pm EDT - ABC Family
October 25th, 8pm EDT - Disney Channel
October 26th, 11am EDT - Disney Channel
October 28th, 7:30pm EDT - Disney XD
October 29th, 7pm EDT - Disney XD
October 30th, 7:30pm EDT - Disney Junior
October 31st, 5pm EDT - Disney Junior
November 27th, 9:45pm EDT - Disney Channel

Even though it will not be on syndicated television again, if you have cable, you can set it and record this for years of enjoyment!

Happy Friday!
J.K. Sasse

Thursday, October 17, 2013

GEE EFF: Why I went Gluten Free, Part 1

Lately, it seems like it is very vogue to go gluten free.  You'll lose weight, or you'll feel so much better they say.  Just stop eating anything that has wheat, rye, barley, smelt, or kamut in it.  You will come closer to the Gods then you ever thought imaginable. Sure, people, sure. *SNORT*

Come on, who doesn't love a freshly baked roll with butter oozing down the side.  I'll tell you who, this girl.  I grew up on freshly baked bread and rolls.  My Mom baked it every single weekend and then we ate it all week long. It was the bestie, best, best, I tell you!  I loved it and to this day, I daydream about it. Not. Kidding.

My maternal Grandfather is from German descent.  He used to tell me that all Germans loved their bread.  He used to take special trips into town each week, just to buy bread.  That was it, just bread, nothing else.  He served it with every single meal as a side dish to just with milk (in milk toast) as a snack.  He loved bread, I think, more than life itself.  I must get this obsession from him and it is a perfectly normal obsession I think.  It could be worse for cripes sake.  As I got older, I moved towards the healthy stuff like whole wheat or better yet, sprouted.  I was healthy plus I got my coveted bread.

Then, I found out that I had some pretty terrific thyroid health issues.  Now, I had been expecting this.  Thyroid disease runs rampant in my family on both sides, maternal and paternal.  My sister got it when she was just sixteen and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after the birth of my first child (it is commonly onset after childbirth). I got my synthroid (synthetic thyroid hormone), took it daily, and life moved on --- with bread!  But even with the synthetic thyroid replacement meds, I still didn't feel the greatest.  I had a multitude of symptoms:  adult acne, bad breath, sores in my mouth and on my tongue, tingling extremities, signs of early menopause, infertility, swelling in the hands and feet, vitamin D deficiency, mood swings, short temper, anxiety, dark circles under my eyes, pale skin, chronic fatigue, sinus pressure, and sleeping issues.  Now, these didn't happen all the time though some are more chronic like the pale skin and dark circles but the sores in my mouth were intermittent and very painful.  My regular practioner, who I love dearly, referred me to an endocrinologist who basically said, he just didn't know, "all your numbers are normal."  So I took it that I was just a whiner - I mean look at that list - and I moved on, just trying to get by day by day.

I was ordering vitamins from a friend of mine, who also happens to be our old neighbor who I know has had a myriad of health issues along with her kids, and she mentioned that maybe I should try a holistic approach.  Now, she has given this advice to me before with #1 when she was a baby and it did not turn out so great, but that was 8 years ago and I am not an infant.  Maybe I needed to check this out.  So I made an appointment and went.  It turns out that my thyroid antibodies were off the charts - like 100x what they should be. OK, then.  Now what?  Well the only thing you can really do, they told me, is to go gluten free.  Gluten what?  I was being a smart ass. I had heard of it, of course, it was the cool thing to do, but I love bread. I eat it EVERY DAY PEOPLE!  I started to feel the anxiety creep up on me (I also have some food issues but that is for another post) about eliminating something completely from my diet.  How was I going to do this?  Would it even work? How would my family react? Will I ever get to eat bread again? The horror!

That's it for today, I'll continue this topic in another post next week.  Stay tuned!

Until then,
J.K. Sasse

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Product Review: Burger King SatisfriesTM

One night after working all day, attending school conferences for #1, picking up #1 from the after school program, and on our way to cheer practice, we needed dinner.  We were rushing to the practice site when we saw Burger King and I thought, "well, it's not the healthiest choice, but a girl (or girls in this case) have got to eat!"  So we rolled on in to the drive thru.

When I was reading over the sign, I kind of got excited when I saw that they were offering the new SatisfriesTM.  I heard about these new fries through the Hungry Girl daily email communications as being a better alternative to BK's current fry options.  Burger King is marketing them as having 40% less fat and 30% less calories than their traditional french fries.  They also say they are cut directly from the potato and are crispy on the outside while being light and fluffy on the inside.  With that said, I placed my order for a large SatisfriesTM.

We received our order and started towards the park where we could enjoy our meal, but I couldn't wait. I just had to have a hot SatisfriesTM (FYI: there is not a singular way to say this product, like "Satisfry", this baffles me).  I plucked a hot steamy SatisfriesTM from the bag and noticed that yes, it is a thick crinkle fry, they were a light golden color and looked appetizing. With that said, I am not overly found of crinkle fries, but these are thicker than the average crinkle fry so I had high hopes.  I bit into one.  It was pretty crispy, so that was good.  Then the middle came. Blech. It was a little too meaty for me, or do I say potatoey - is that a word?  It was almost like eating a dry steamed or baked potato with nothing on it.  Now, I like a meaty fry like a steak fry but then I need oodles of condiments like ketchup and mayo to make it worthwhile.  I think if you are going to start adding that kind of calorie and fat laden extras to a fry that is trying to claim it has less calories and fat, then you are not really gaining anything in my mind.  I have no problems eating the regular French fry product without any condiments, not even ketchup.  You just don't need it to cover a dry potato taste and texture like you do with the SatisfriesTM because it doesn't exist.  For those type of people that really enjoy crinkle fries I think they'll like these but note, you'll most likely have to add your own salt because mine came completely salt free and without any condiments (i.e. ketchup).  Granted I was going through the drive thru at the peak dinner time hour, but these are pretty standard things to get with fries.

Needless to say, I went to cheer practice completely unhappy with this part of my meal.  I couldn't even get #1 to have some of them so they wouldn't go to waste.  Thank god, my whopper with cheese (and no bun) was supremely excellent! You win some, you lose some.

Overall, I am giving this product the following rating based on a scale where 1 is the absolute worst and 10 is the bestie, best, best:

Appearance: 6
Taste: 3
Texture: 4
Overall Rating: 4

Will I purchase this product again.  Probably not.  I just did not find them as enjoyable as the traditional French fry and let's be frank people, if I'm going to eat fries, then let's go for it.  Eat something that you like and enjoy.  Then move on.  Do not waste your time on something that you do not enjoy. It will not satisfy you and you'll go looking for more.  That completely defeats the purpose. 

I'd like to hear if others have tried these fries and what you all think about them!

Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

NOTE: Burger King has not sponsored any part of this post.  I purchased the SatisfriesTM with my own funds and the review of this product is my personal opinion.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

PSA: Skype - The New Internet Dating Forum (?)

Skype is a widely used tool around the world for people to connect online so they can see each other face to face.  It is a tremendously wonderful application and I am so glad that someone was genius enough to create it so we can all stay connected face to face.  It also has become super duper creepy - at least for me anyway.

My husband travels a fair amount for his job and we also have a family member in a different state.  We use Skype to have the opportunity to see each other rather than just email, text, or talk on the phone. It's so good to see someone's face, their expressions, their baby belly, or whatever it is that they have and you miss seeing. When we use it as a family, it is like my husband isn't really gone which is very nice for all of us back on the home front.  Our extended family decided to get Skype accounts, as well, so we could enjoy it with all of our distant family friends that we do not get to see regularly.  NOT to get dates.  Here's where I'll elaborate.

Several weeks after signing up and using Skype, I started getting invitations from men other than my beloved Thewber.  Some were just "Hey, wanna chat?" to long winded dialogues about themselves and how they want to find love.  Sort of like those creepy spam emails you get from whack jobs in some other country who want a green card, sex, or all of your money.

At first, when I got a couple invitations, I thought, "Oh, they must mean some other Sasse" and just declined because I wasn't the gal they were looking for.  But then they started to get more intense, sending pictures, and writing long winded stories about themselves.  To be honest, all of these guys were pretty good looking and I thought, A. these are not their real pictures and they found some stock photo on the net somewhere or B. why are they doing this? they could totally find a date the old fashioned way - by getting out there and meeting people face to face or even online. 

I will tell you, for those of you that have tried this Skype hook up deal.  It. is. creepy. I don't know you, and for you to randomly send me (or anyone else) an invite to chat or become your 'beloved', is weird.  Social skills are something that the internet has taken away from us and I get that.  We are so used to just being at home in our jammies watching movies and surfing the net.  I get it, really I do.  But it is critical for us to keep up the human element of getting to know someone like when they are sitting next to us or across from us live and in person.  To touch their shoulder and laugh when they say something funny or embrace after having a great time out together.  Ultimately this is what you are looking for and it's only going to happen if you do it the way that society deems acceptable. 

Now, I've been dating Thew or married to him for over 13 years, so I've got all the love that I can handle right now, so I'm not exactly out there looking for this kind of stuff, but if I were, here's what I would do:

1. Join a reputable internet dating service like I mentioned above. 
  • It works and some of them even will match you up beforehand so you don't even have to search. SCORE, people! I have a few friends that have even found their soul mates and have gotten married after using these services.
2. Go to a speed dating night at a local bar or pub.
  • I'm sure you can find these in your local area and personally I think they would be a total hoot, even if you don't find 'the one'.  You'll meet a bunch of people and find new friends if nothing else and friends always have more friends, so you just never know.
3. Join a club or group that specializes in something that you like to do. 
  • Now, I know a lot of us join groups that are focused on a topic that we are interested in and the majority of the time, it involves the same sex as us, but this is ok. Those people know other people and you never know, a lady just might show up at the golf range and can out drive you with an iron no less.  Now, wouldn't that be an easy way to go up to her and ask her how in the heck she learned to do that?
4. Check out 'single' options at your church, community centers, or neighborhoods. 
  • I know, this sounds totally lame, but give it a chance at least once.  I've heard of several people who have met this way.
5. Join message boards or other types of online group chats so you can get to know people a little beforehand. 
  • This will make it less creepy when you send them a request on Skype to chat at an individual level.  I did this a lot in college actually.  This was back before the 'internet' even existed if you can believe that (to my defense it took off my senior year).  I used to join chat forums through a green screen computer and it went fast - scrolling constantly when everyone chimed in.  It was hard to keep up with at first but after a while I got the hang of it.  It was fun, it improved my typing skills, and it was way easier than meeting people in the bars.  I got to know quite a few people from that and then ended up having email or phone friendships with several.  I did not think that was creepy at all because it wasn't just random. I knew a little about them and they knew a little about me and we wanted to know more.
6. Ask family and friends for help.
  • Most of them already know that you are single and looking for love so why not just simply ask them for help?  Most of them already want to help, so just let them.  You never know and by getting to know more people who know even more people that will increase your chance of meeting someone interesting.
7. Join a local face to face dating service or find a real live matchmaker.
  • In my area, we have individuals that act as matchmakers, just like Patty on Bravo (the Millionaire Matchmakers).  We also have several face to face dating services that will match you with clients as well.  I think this is so fascinating, the process, the meet and greets - all of it.  Definitely worth checking into if you want something on a more local level and face to face so you can get going on a relationship right away.
This is a pretty good list if you ask me, and some of them get you out there and some of them allow you to do this in the privacy of your own home, so you can wear your jammies or your lucky duck hat or whatever it is that you like to do in the privacy of your own home.  So use it and please, please people, for the love of Pete (or Stan or Kyle - you get the picture), do not randomly try to hook up with people on Skype.  No one likes a creeper and you are better than that.  I know it.

Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

If you have not read my definition of PSA, please do so here.  It's a hoot!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PSA: Defined the "Sasse" Way

As I get this blog up and running, I want to make sure I define some terms and make some things very clear.  I've been drafting a lot of "PSA" (public service announcement) posts and thought, 'you know what, this deserves some attention. People need to know where I'm coming from.'  So here it goes, my first blog definition:

Public Service Announcement otherwise known as "PSA" defined by J.K. Sasse

Public Service Announcements are just my way of telling you about things I have experience with and I want to share it with you, the public, in order to assist you in some sort of fashion or for filing away for future reference.   I want you to have a starting point or hear how it went for me and/or my family. It does not mean that I have a medical degree, an early childhood degree, a psychology degree, or am an expert by any legal definition of the word on the subject.  I am a mother, wife, daughter/daughter in-law, employee, volunteer, crafter, scrapbooker, cook and many other things, all in which I have oodles of experience with.  I want to share these experiences with you so that you too can benefit from what went well and what didn't go so well.  These PSAs, I hope, will help you if you too need to go through something similar or provide it to someone that you may know going through the situation.

I have found these types of blips of wisdom to be invaluable when I hear them from others like friends, co-workers, family or even from blogs like this.  I will not only include these tidbits from other folks but include my experiences as well.  I want to share the love - share it I say.  It would be selfish of me to keep it all bottled up just for myself, now wouldn't it?

What I do not want anyone to get confused with, though, is that this is something that came from a medical doctor or some other kind of specialist with that specialist degree that practices this stuff every single day.  (This is my disclaimer and I'm sticking to it.) Nope, it's coming from someone who lives life and has had oodles of experiences, even at the very young age that I am.  It deserves to be shared because as we all know "it takes a village" people - a very huge village.  If you take advice from my blog great - but always run it by a professional first if you feel nervous or are unsure.  This is also my disclaimer that I cannot be held liable for anything that you choose to do based on a post that I write.

So from now on, if you see PSA in the title, just know that this is a little bit of "Sasse" wisdom coming your way.  I don't mean to offend or anything like that, I just want to educate and help my readers because really, it's all about you guys!  Thanks for reading.....

Until next time,
J. K. Sasse

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recipe: Homemade Tartar Sauce

This is my first official recipe that I have posted - yahoo!  It's a doozy too... not really, but it's quick and easy.  It has also become the condiment of choice around here for dipping - who knew!

Last weekend, I made a wonderful shallow fried flounder recipe that I received in my 'weekly' from my Weight Watchers meeting the prior week.  It noted that it should be served with tartar sauce but we did not have any. I find it hard to keep bottled tartar sauce in the fridge since in the past it was very rarely used and super duper loaded with calories and fat.  Then I remembered that I saw a tartar sauce recipe in Cooking Light, but I could not for the life of me remember where the heck that particular magazine was (big surprise), so I winged it AND I made it lighter. 

I love mayo as much as the next guy, but honestly, that may be the reason I'm in weight watchers, so alas, I've been trying to add fat free Greek yogurt in equal parts to mayo when called for in a recipe. I've been doing this a lot lately and it is getting rave reviews from the family.  My husband says it tastes lighter and less heavy like the real stuff, this is awesome since he normally doesn't like this sort of product.  The kids say, "It's just plain good, Mom." It works people - really! Since I made this recipe up with a vague recollection from something I saw in Cooking Light, it's best not to contact them and complain if you hate it, but I'll bet your tator tots that you'll love it!!

Homemade Tartar Sauce
makes about 1 cup of sauce

1/4 C. light mayo
1/4 C. fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 C. dill pickles, chopped finely
1 1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice (or maybe it was a tad more)

Measure out mayo, yogurt, mustard, and lemon juice into a small bowl. Measure dill pickles and chop them finely on a cutting board - it will look like a lot but it's all good.  Add them to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

You can make this ahead or just before using it, either way it will taste great.  This should keep in the fridge for a long while, but I suspect it will disappear quickly.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

J.K. Sasse

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blissfully Unaware

There are so many reasons why I love my daughter whom I lovingly refer to as #1 but I think one of the main reasons is that as an almost 9 year old (her birthday is this month!) she is very naïve. 

We were chatting about her day after I picked her up from school last week .  She suddenly exclaimed, "Mom, someone did something very bad at school.  They wrote the "F" word on one of the walls."   I told her that was awful!  Then I asked her what the "F" word was.  She threw her hands up in the air and said, "That's just it, I don't even know!"

Certainly I had to contain my laughter but it wasn't too hard because I was beaming with pride.  How did I get so lucky?  Here is my public school attending third grader and she doesn't even know common swearing lingo - even the big daddy, like the "F" word has escaped her grasp.  This is amazing and great.  Amazing that she retains her childhood even in this technological over load of a world we live in.  Great that she didn't know and didn't really care to seek it out.  It was a bad word and that is all she needed to know. End of story.  Man, I love that kid.

I was so proud, that I told this story at a scrapbooking night that I went to this past weekend and the ladies there were like, "Well, she doesn't ride the bus.  If she rode the bus, she'd know this stuff."  I thought about that and wondered, what in the heck goes on when riding the bus?  How is it any different than the before and after school program that she attends?  She is with a ton of kids, like on the bus.  She is integrated with all grade levels, like the bus.  They talk to each other and play with each other, just like those kids on the bus.  Is there some kind of phenomenon going on during a ride on the school bus that I don't know about? I seriously doubt it.  So, the bus excuse has been debunked as far as I'm concerned.  Maybe this is just one of her traits that makes her who she is.  That's ok, isn't it?

Though I love this trait of my daughters, sometimes I get worried.  She still thinks some TV shows and cartoons are real.  We talk about it a lot especially when she starts talking about them like they are apart of every day life.  I will say something like, "Aren't we lucky that we get to watch TV shows with talented actors that make it seem so real?"  I'm hoping to nonchalantly plant seeds that things on TV or the computer are not always what they seem to be.  Though being naïve at nine years old is something that I'm extremely proud of, sometimes it can be troublesome, mostly because I'm just not sure all of the time, how to handle it but for the most part this is a positive situation.  With that said, several questions run through my mind:  What are the appropriate ages for kids to learn about certain things?  You know what "things" I'm talking about.  Is it up to me to educate her or let her navigate for herself which potentially could contain the wrong information from unreliable sources?

I certainly do not want her going to high school thinking that Disney creates reality TV but I also want her to just be a kid.  I want her to retain her childlike wonder for a long time.  Is that so wrong?  I want her to have a "childhood" in all that the word means, as too many children don't get this luxury.  They have to grow up to fast and become aware of things that kids shouldn't know for years and years at an early age.  It's a double edged sword and I know this.  So for now, I think I'm just going to go with it.  She certainly will not go to high school in her car booster seat (I hope) so why would I think she'll enter 9th grade being a completely 'out of it' teenager?  Even if she is slightly unaware, I say, score for me and my husband.  It will keep her out of trouble and hopefully she'll focus on what is important like getting good grades, excelling at her activities, having fun with her friends, and just being a kid.  Then I can actually go to bed at a reasonable hour since I won't be worrying about her when she is at a football game on a Friday night in those years.

There is nothing wrong with being blissfully unaware, especially for our children.  I'm going to ebb and flow with how things go over the next few years and hopefully we'll navigate the hurdles and celebrate the wins as they come.


Until next time,
J.K. Sasse