Momma Told Me: September 2013

Blog Archive

Holiday Entertaining With #StarburstCandyCorn + Sequin Mask Craft

*** I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Starburst. I received product samples to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating. All photo contained below are property of Momma Told Me Blog 2013.
Mardis Gras Mask
Momma Told Me: Just because you grow up, doesn't mean you've outgrown it.

I've discussed, in the past, Momma's distaste for excessive holiday decoration and hoop-lah. In general it was the unpacking and packing away of the decorations, and the cleaning up after the large parties and gatherings, she didn't care for. She loved the attention of the festivities, while they were taking place. As an adult, now with my own home and family, I can see through Momma's colored glasses a little better. Sure, there's that third week in January where you seriously wonder if you can somehow transition the Christmas tree into a 'year-round celebration' shrub, for the sake of not wanting to disassemble it. And there's always that dull ache as you toss your meticulously carved pumpkin, sunken and moldy, into the dumpster. The holidays are a lot of work; but that's what makes them so magical.
Of course, with Fall now officially upon us, the first holiday to hit the calendar is Halloween. This is one holiday, argued time and again, for it's 'validity' as a serious event. Some of my friends adamantly say it should o0nly be celebrated by children, or those with young children. I cite million dollar events, such as Six Flag's Fright Fest, and Knott's Scary Farm, as an indication that this holiday knows no age. Like most things, the younger at heart you are, the more magical they will seem. And few things bring back my childhood magic as quickly as a favorite candy. The rustling of a wrapper, the glistening foil of a molded chocolate, or the scent of warm apple cider in the air. And, when it comes to fall confections, none is debated more than the classic striped candy corn; re-imagined this year by Starburst in a new fruity variety.
If sugar inspires me to childlike whimsy, than the colors found inside the new bags of Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn really get my senses excited. Featuring Pink, Red, Orange, and Yellow striped candy corn in Strawberry, Cherry, Orange, and Lemon flavors these soft candy corn chews are the perfect answer to your classic candy corn aversions. Only on shelves for a limited time, Starburst Candy Corn is perfect for adding a splash of color to your Fall and Halloween decor, just ask starlet Tori Spelling, who has teamed up with the brand to offer us some great entertaining tips and inspired crafts. Pipe some Rice Krispie squares with a row of fruity candy corn, or use these colorful sweets as a cupcake topper. Layer the colors in mini mason jars with festive ribbons and tags as favors for your guests, or hot glue a ring of Starburst Candy Corn to some cheap napkin rings for an instant festive hit. You'll find these, and many more of Tori's craft and entertaining tips on the official Starbust Candy Corn Facebook page.
Having just turned 11, Sabrina has decided she will no longer be partaking in the Trick Or Treating portion of the upcoming holiday. Not having to chaperone this Halloween festivity means we've suddenly had out night open up. We're considering a casual get together, okay, a party, among friends; but I've been struggling with transitioning our decorations from childish to adult sophistication. In addition to the Creative Candy Corn Cobweb featured by Tori, I've been working on some decorative masquerade style masks that can easily transition from Halloween to Mardis Gras next year. Before I began my project I was sure to separate the  candy by color and consistency. Crafting with candy can be tricky to navigate, and quality control is essential; though 'tasting' the go-backs is equally enjoyable.
Halloween Mask Craft
I'll admit, I didn't really have a game plan when I set out to make my first mask, and I'd never done it before. I had no visual cues, though I'm sure there are countless templates and ideas online- I simply let Tori's creativity inspire me. Well, that, and it's much easier to be inspired when hopped up on the fruity goodness of Starburst Candy Corn. I'm a perfectionist, so I'll admit, when I laid those first sequins down on that paper mache mask base (purchased for less than $2 at the local craft store), I had some anxiety. Thankfully, it turns out sequins are very friendly to flyaway glue gun strings. Simply use a damp paper towel to gently wipe them away when you're done. As fun as making masks is for any age, this particular project requires time, patience, and basic glue gun safety, so it's best to tackle this project during mom time.
Mardis Gras Mask Craft
The Strawberry Starburst Candy Corn happened to match my hair quite nicely, so I ended up using them as 'lashes' for my mask. I'd originally intended to add more candy corn, but I'd forgotten how heavy the dense sugar is, and ran into a few issues with quality control (my mouth). When I'm done with my masques I hope to mount them above the mantle for the season, and pull them back out again in March (Mardis Gras). Starburst Candy Corn are already on shelves near me, most recently spotted at Target and Walgreens. Whether you're planning a big 'Ball' this year, or having a quiet Halloween at home, let the styling ideas of Starburst and Tori Spelling inspire you to magical heights! Have you ever crafted with candy before?

What Daughter Says: Add some extra color to your holiday this year with new Starburst Candy Corn and inspired crafts.

Are You Commercial? Logo Party by @SpinMasterGames Review

**** I received the following game from Spin Master Games, in exchange for my honest opinions. No further compensation was provided. All photos below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2013.
Logo Party
Momma Told Me: Quit the mime impression and just say it already!

Growing up I was always fascinated by 'adult' games. The men in our family would always gather to play 'cards' during reunions and holiday events, and sooner or later the women in their lives would coax them into a drunken game of Charades or Trivial Pursuit. Charades was always my favorite. Though I was too young to play, I'd sit on my grandma's staircase, legs danging through the posts, and stifle giggles as the revered adults in my life made a mockery of themselves. Half the time I didn't understand what was going on, but the shouting and wide arm movements never lost my interest. Of course, the next day, once we were back at home again, I'd pester Momma to play a game of charades with me, and she'd remark that I was 'too young'. Naturally this gave way to a puffy, angry, red face, and a series of wild impersonations and mime like displays on my part. I was determined to prove her wrong, but she never gave in.
Logo PartyLogo Party Tiimer
The concept of charades is a classic one that has been molded into a series of games through time. Unfortunately, this style of game is most successful when played in groups, and can even develop crucial communication and teamwork skills. When Spin Master sent us one of their hottest Fall 2013 games, Logo Party, Sabrina (11) was immediately excited by the concept of 'acting.' However, Logo Party, as the name indicates, is intended to be played in groups of 2 or more (4 player minimum). So, until we could get our next block party game night going, I agreed to be the official 'guesser' and allow Jay and Sabrina to draw, describe, and act out the various logos for me.
The premise of the game is very simple. There is a basic game board with alternating colors from Start to Finish. Each player moves one spot at a time, so every player will be expected to touch each space on the board during the game. Players take turn drawing a card from the deck and locate the Logo that matched the color board space they are currently on. The alternate side of the card will advise whether the player has to act, describe, or draw the logo. Players describing may not spell words or sing jingles or songs, and players acting may not use props or point to objects in the room. If a player correctly acts/describes/draws their logo they get to advance one space on the board. There is a provided timer, which we found to be the game's only hiccup as it can be a bit stiff to use, which determines the length of time each player will have to complete their action.
Logo PartyThere is a fourth card category, Reveal, which brings in a unique interactive aspect to the game. Remember that timer I say was a bit 'stiff,' that's because it doubles as a card revealer for this portion of the game. Simply pull the timer top all the way up and slide the reveal card along the guides on the back. Then set the timer off and it will slowly push up the reveal card over the edge of the timer to reveal a photo logo. Surprisingly, this proved to be one of the tougher commands in the game. While players could easily recognize the logo in their head they seemed to have a harder time putting the words together than if it were being described or drawn.
Logo Party Reveal It

In all, we had a blast playing Logo Party, and enjoyed it's simple set up to quick play. Many of the logos were above Sabrina's (11) years, though, and we found we had to give a few hints here and there to get her started. However, the logos she instantly knew created some true magical moments- including a burger drawing followed by a crown (Burger King), and a shrimp like lobster for Red Lobster. Jay also drew the above bowl of cereal and a slightly mutated 'toucan' for Fruit Loops, as well as the 'Gold Soap' bar for Dial. Logo Party would be an excellent office party game, or holiday gathering game to bring participants of all ages together. There certainly are some logos in there some of the older adults might not recognize, where the younger kids could really help out! Logo Party is sold online at fine retailers such as Amazon, and in stores nationwide at Walmart, ToysRUs, and Target.

What Daughter Says: Practice your acting, and put your advertising knowledge to good use with Logo Party.

#ClubFreshStep: The Origin Of Cat-Bearding Discovered + A Fresh Step Solution

Cat Bearding
Momma Told Me: Have you scooped the litter box today?

At this time in my life, I don't have any kids. I do, however, consider pets to be the next closest thing to having children. If anything, they are even more 'child-like' than human kids; as human children eventually learn to communicate their needs through verbal speaking. My four-legged kids have to manage their own form of communication through ankle swats and loud purrs. In fact, that's precisely how I ended up with our first cat- shortly after I'd been married, to test the strength of my husband and I's skills at raising and caring for another living being.

And, while I didn't carry her in my womb for 9 months, the search for Ms. Truffles was almost as long, since I began at the end of 'cat season.' (I'll be honest I had no idea there was such a thing- we seemed to see stray kittens year-round). Finally, when I was about to give up, Truffles found us. At a nearby chicken farm, covered in fleas and huddled, terrified, in the back of an over sized crate. There were roosters making loud noises below her, giant German Shepards sniffing  at her face, and she was the last of her litter remaining, weened just a little too soon. I was in for a whole new world of kitty kisses and cat litter.
Happy Kitty
I took that scraggly black and white ball of fluff home, with a $10 'rehoming fee,' and we have been inseparable ever since, straight through two moves and a divorce. We now have other pets, but Truffles is my baby, a true 'Momma's girl.' She won't eat her dinner if a stranger pours it for her, she plays 'mouse fetch' with me while Jay's at work, and she insists on sitting on the toilet while I shower, for fear the loud, wet, 'shower' will swallow me whole. Truffles has her own Facebook page (with near 2k fans) and her own blog, as well as a magnet on my car professing my love. Some might think I rescued her from the life of a stray, but the truth is, she really rescued me. Everything except for my nose, that is.

I grew up with cats, spending the first half of my life in a condo, that was all we had room for. And Momma, with a compromised immune system, promptly taught me all about the joys of being a responsible pet owner. We had one litter box by the front door, and I was in charge of keeping it spotless. (I'm not exaggerating, I'd get updates from Momma when a cat would even walk past the litter box.) Today, Truffles (5) is a picky cat, set in her ways. When she was 1 we taught her to use the human toilet, which worked well for about 6 months until she decided she didn't like the little 'splash' of water that would come back up at her when she did her business. Shopping for litter can be confusing, check out our Google+ Album to see more on why we decided to make the switch to the new Fresh Step formula.
Fresh Step Odor Shield
Today we have 2 litter boxes, one in the living room, and one in our bedroom (for times when we have to tuck her away while guests are over, or the front door needs to be open an extended amount of time.) I was uneasy about putting a bathroom, because that's what it is, isn't it, in our bedroom- so I've been on the hunt for odor controlling litter ever since. As I mentioned, Truffles is not easy to please. If she feels her litter box has not been kept up to her standards she will protest and do her business on the mat right outside it! And, if she doesn't like her new litter, she'll transition to one box, instead of both, doubling the amount of work for Mom.

Recently we discovered a new and improved blend of Fresh Step Odor Shield scoopable cat litter, infused with carbon and plant extracts to eliminate odors naturally. Thanks to a new 42lb value bag at Sam's Club, you can stock up on this new formula and score double Paw Points for a limited time. What are Paw Points? This is Fresh Step's new loyalty program for pt parents who buy their product regularly. It's as simple as joining the Paw Points loyalty program online at the Fresh Step website, then entering the codes you find on the specially marked packages. You'll easily rack up points with the 42lb Odor Shield bag at Sam's Club, and be on your way to free cat litter, exclusive discounts, and even adorable cat posters in no time.
Shelter Donation
Adopt A Shelter Cat
I know you're dying to hear how the new litter stacked up with Ms. Picky (Truffles) in our home. As it turns out, if cat's could speak, that is, I'm fairly certain she'd give it a 5 fish review. A few months back I'd switched our household to a new litter and we'd be seeing signs of protest. No sooner had I poured the new carbon and plant extract infused litter into Truffles' box than she felt the need to make a personal inspection. her approval was stamped as only she could, and we've been enjoying a much more pleasant home since. In fact, Truffles loved it so much, we decided to add a package to our quarterly delivery to the local animal shelter.

Where I once could be caught grabbing anything in sight to cover my nose from the smell of the litter box, newspapers, nick-knacks, even the cat (how do you think cat-bearding got started?), I can now go an entire day without realizing it's there. So, reason stands our local shelter, with an astounding 200+ felines this month, could benefit from the odor eliminating power of new Fresh Step. In fact, we stopped by the Kitty Kottage on our visit to check out some of the shelter's star adoption candidates. With the powerful odor control harnessed within new Fresh Step Odor Shield, there's fewer excuses than ever not to adopt a that feline you've been wanting to expand your family.
I'd intended to get some adorable cat-bearding shots of the super-star kitties, while at the shelter, but it turned out to be 'cleaning time' for the volunteers at the Kottage. Instead I had a chance to talk litter control and animal control with the County official in charge of feline adoptions. Not only did we learn that there were 5 litter boxes in that 6 cat room alone, but that the shelter often has to operate with donations alone- So they don't always have the highest quality litter. I'm sure our 42lb bag will certainly come in handy in this special visitors room for prospective pet parents! We also learned that the county shelter, and many others like them, rely most on adoptions (not donations and volunteers) to remain operational. The best way to help a pet in need is to give it a loving, long term, home!

In conclusion, if you've considered adopting a cat, but have fears about litter control and odor; pick up a box of new, improved, Fresh Step Odor Shield at your local Sam's Club and put those fears behind you. If you already have a beloved fur baby, stop posting all those adorable cat-bearding shots as you try to mask the smell, and make the switch. But, before you do,be sure to head on over to the Fresh Step and Social Fabric Cat-Bearding Contest and link up your cat-bearding photos, for a shot at a $1000 prize bundle! Entering couldn't be more easy, and you can link up to 15 photos to maximize your chances. I repeat, Cat-Beard, Link Up, Switch Litter, and Win Big!

What Daughter Says: Forget the darker side of cat-parenting, breathe easier with a new, natural litter infused with plant extracts.

Cat Bearding Contest

@InfluensterVox: The New Colgate #SlimSoft Brush Provides Maximum Power, Gently

*** As an Influenster network member I received a Colgate #SlimSoft VoxBox in exchange for my honest feedback on various social media channels. No further compensation was provided. All photos below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2013.
Colgate #SlimSoft Brush
Momma Told Me: Beauty can be painful.

I'm here today to defend tooth brushing. 

Some say it isn't glamorous- but I often argue it's one of the most crucial steps in a woman's daily beauty routine. Sure, there was a time when I was a child where I'd get caught chewing on my brush to pass the time until Momma's timer went off. But things have changed. My relationship with my brush has evolved since then. We've grown tight. Well, actually, we've grown slimmer, together.

Your smile is statistically shown to be the most likely attribute to catch any prospective client, employer, or mate's attention first. What does your smile say about you? There are a few things I simply cannot start my 'day' without; making my bed, taking a shower, and brushing my teeth. Why? Because I simply don't feel right flashing my pearly whites while my mouth feels dingy. I am hyper sensitive to even the smallest morsel of food and debris wedged between a tooth or gum. I will sit and pick at it until I'm certain the offending speck is gone- and that's not very sexy, is it?
Colgate SlimSoft
In April I had a long overdue procedure to remove an 'extra' tooth I had growing under one of my Anterior Cuspids. I'd known about it since I'd had my Wisdom Teeth removed in high school, but had elected to forgo the additional procedure at the time, of fear of how much it would cost my parents. Flash forward 8 years and the bugger is pressing up against a nerve- it was time to go! I digress; this procedure left a rather big hole under two of my teeth, and involved the displacement of my gums temporarily, requiring excess healing. To put it bluntly, I was in need of a new, softer, yet still just as effective, toothbrush. Out went my old Colgate companion, and so began the search for a new one. I'd always used 'Hard' head brushes in the past, so transitioning to a 'Soft' head brush was very concerning for me. I simply didn't feel as though my mouth was getting as clean.

When #InfluensterVox informed me they wanted to send me the latest Colgate oral care technology to review I was intrigued. Not only did the new #SlimSoft Gliding Tip (also made in Pro Tip) brush offer improved reach and targeted efficacy, but the ergonomic design was far less intimidating than my current manual brush. Colgate SlimSoft is a big deal for what it does and doesn't have; 17x slimmed bristles and 35% more bristles overall. That means a unique tactile experience when brushing, and a positively radiant fresh smile. The brush hardly looks worthy of doing cartwheels; there are no bendy head gimmicks, no fancy patterns of colored bristles, no replacement head indicators- it's about as plain as a brush can get (visually).
Colgate SlimSoft
However, when paired with Colgate Total Advanced toothpaste, I enjoy a gentle cleaning massage that is pleasantly tingly. My gums, which are still sensitive easily accepted this new routine without complain. After my first use I noticed that my mouth felt fresh, longer, and I had significantly less 'picking' at me teeth through the afternoon. In fact, instead of reaching for a toothpick, I prefer to go to my #SlimSoft, and simply brush my teeth again, after a harsh meal.

Ultimately, I am most surprised as to how powerful the brushing experience feels, while still utilizing soft, flexible bristles. These thinner bristles reach between my teeth (which are tight even to floss), and deep along my gums for maximum plaque removal that makes brushing a vital part of my beauty routine again. After all, when your mouth feels fresh, you can't help but want to flash a beautiful smile!

What Daughter Says: Don't let your oral care routine step on your toes. Choose a gentle brush, with extra power to deep clean, for a beautiful smile.

@FellowesInc Saturn 95 Laminator Project Ideas + Penny Wise Office Giveaway~ 10/8

**** I received a Saturn Laminator compliments of Penny Wise Office Products and Fellowes, in exchange for my honest opinions. No further compensation was received. All photos below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2013.
Momma Told Me: If you treasure it, protect it!

Growing up, we were always the house on the street with all the gadgets, and latest technology. We had 3 PCs in the mid-80s, and an office full of the latest appliances and electronics. Looking back, I realize I used to take this for granted. I'd bring in beautifully bound reports with laminated covers and wonder why my reports sparkled more than those of my friends. Didn't everyone have a copy machine at home? Wasn't a laminator as common as a Polaroid? The truth is, my parents probably spent a small fortune to have these 'cutting edge' consumer products; while owning your own office components today is much more affordable. Companies such as Fellowes have been leading office innovation for decades, and strive hard to tailor their products to their consumers with multiple levels of sophistication and cost to fit every need.
Fellowes Saturn Laminator
The Fellowes collection of personal Laminator machines are named after planets, with the Saturn falling mid-range, with three hot/cold laminating depths, while the more professionally suited Neptune can process documents up to 12.5" wide and 7 mil thick. Choosing the right laminator for you can be a little overwhelming, but the company has a complete guide to cover hot/cold laminating specifications, as well as necessary document sizes and thickness. The Fellowes Saturn 95 Laminator sells for just over $100 at Penny Wise Office products, and is the perfect starter laminator for those beginning to dabble in basic lamination crafts (jewelry creation), or simple office organization and memory preservation.
Fellowes Saturn Laminator
Fellowes laminator sheets
Fellowes Saturn 95
I still recall our family's first laminator. It had a bulky roll of 'film' that I'd have to fuss with to pull apart, and half the time I'd break the lamination is I cut too close to the document seal. Then there were the basic safety concerns of a hot surface, high energy use, and complicate operation (nor was it very quiet). Using the Saturn 95 for the first time was equal to a breath of fresh air- Not only were the illuminated buttons easy to navigate, but the operation of the machine was whisper quiet. My new Fellowes laminator came with a package of lamination pouches which were easy to organize (for maximum space management), and bypassed the traditional fuss of lamination rolls and feeding. Operation was as simple as allowing the unit to heat up, selecting the optimal thickness of the items being laminated, then inserting the lamination pouch, sealed end first, into the front of the unit. The Fellowes Saturn 95 then 'grabs' the pouch and automatically feeds it through to the opposite end.
home made bingo cards
It had been a few years since I'd last invested in a laminator, and the operation was night and day. I couldn't believe how cool to the touch the front of the machine was, during operation, or how utterly silent the process was. It was so simple our 10 year old (with an adult watching) could do it- and boy did she get a kick out of seeing her favorite drawings 'preserved for all time.' Naturally, having a Fellowes Laminator around will come in handy for various projects, especially school projects, throughout the year; but there are many creative uses for a home laminator too. When I make 'meals in a jar' this holiday season I will be laminating my recipe cards to tie to the lids. Children's parties can come to life with home-made 'Pin the Tail' games, or custom Bingo cards (use candy for markers), templates for which can easily be found free online. You'll also find a great assortment of office supplies and project tools, as well as Laminator sheet refills at Penny Wise Office Products, online and through their catalog.
home made place cards
lunch time notes
I also got a head start on holiday entertaining when I made a few Name-Tag samples for the Thanksgiving table, and our lunches got just a little more magical with some re-usable joke and encouragement note cards to slip into Sabrina and Jay's lunches. Laminating items can also easily transition them into an easy clean surface for chore charts, grocery lists, and more. Use Expo or Sharpie markers to write on the laminated surface and wipe off with a gentle alcohol/water spray. It's really that easy! Having a laminator in the home is not the first thing one thinks of when they're shopping for home office necessities, but the whole family is sure to find a much needed use sooner or later (my money's on sooner). What would you do with a home laminator?

What Daughter Says: Preserve memories, and make life a little less messy, with a Fellowes Laminator.

One Momma Told Me reader will win a Saturn 95 Laminator, from Fellowes and Penny Wise Office!

2013 Fall Fashionista Events Lookbook + $540 Ju-Ju-Be Bags Giveaway

*** This is a Fashionista Events opportunity. Momma Told Me, Fashionista Events, or Still Blonde After All These Years is not responsible for prize distribution.
        The Fall Fashionista Event is almost here, with 100+ fashion loving bloggers coming together to give you the web's largest, and only, fashion only giveaway event! In addition to special event giveaways, such as this Lookbook Preview Giveaway, there will be over $26k in prizes to be won- You just may want to take the day off of work for this one ladies and gents. Momma Told Me  is providing two prize bundles at this moment; $125 to In Bloom By Jonquil, and a Men's Fashion bundle featuring Hey Dude Shoes and WeWOOD watches! Not only is In Bloom gorgeous, but the WeWOOD watches are eco-friendly and brilliantly beautiful. Mark your calendars for the Fall Fashionista Event Oct 3-9!
Ju-Ju-Be Lookbook Giveaway Prizes: Packabee, BeFabulous in Earth Leather, BetterBe

The Fall Fashionista Event is  hosted by Still Blonde after all these Years and Modly Chic with the event co-host,  K Squared Glamour. These talented ladies have come together to bring you an extra special kick off prize in the form of a Lookbook preview. What is a Lookbook? This is where you'll get the first look at some of the fight-worthy prize bundles the fashionistas have put together for you. Simply scroll on down to the linky and click to hop from one blog to another to see the brands and blogs that will be participating in this year's Fall event.

While you're here you won't want to miss out on your shot at winning 1 of 3 amazing Ju-Ju-Be bags (shown above). Ju-Ju-Be is our Lookbook sponsor for the Fall Fashionista Events Giveaway 2013! They have provided us with three of their darling bags. Up for grabs is the PackABe , the BeFabulous in Earth Leather, and the BetterBe. These beautiful bags that can also be used as everyday totes or high end diaper/parent bags, helping transition the parenting world into chic fashion. Ju-Ju-Be bags are machine washable (practical), feature metal hardware and crumb drains, as well as a picture pocket and teflon protector coating.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, for the Fall Fashionista Lookbook:

 The Fall Fashionista Lookbook features many of the sponsors for the Main Event and for individual blogs hosting as well. The event's main prizes total over $1000, including a $300 Main Event Prize. Did you know that in addition to their amazing coupons, they also have coupon codes to use when shopping online? More sponsors will be added to the event and Lookbook everyday, so be sure to check back and make a list of your favorite products and bloggers. Then you'll have the perfect plan of attack to really win during the Fall Fashionista Events Giveaway which takes place Oct. 3-9. Take a day, or two, off work and don’t miss this event!

A Fresh Take On Sushi- A Family Friendly Chili Lime Chicken Sushi Recipe!

Chili Lime Chicken Sushi
Momma Told Me: You never know, until you try it!

As angelic as I like to believe I was, Momma and Pop recount my childhood with a different style of reverence. Momma was a fairly good home chef with a fresh take, whether she was baking from a package, or scratch; but I was also a pretty stubborn palette. Once I had has something in a category, and decided I didn't care for it, the entire category was then off limits in my mind. The biggest example, in this case, being fish. Pop loved a heaping pile of freshly fried fish sticks (the kind you get from a jumbo bag in the freezer at your local grocer); unfortunately  the greasy 'fish' smell, paired with the chunky mayonnaise-like tartar sauce had my mouth saying 'no' long before my first bite. I sat at that table, the first night those fish sticks appeared on my plate, and refused to take a single bite. My resolve lasted long after the table was cleared and my, now cold, plate remained in front of me. Scrunched nose, I was promised I wouldn't be grounded if I ate one, single, bite. I did, and that was the last time 'fish' touched my lips for several years. Oh, the many hungry nights I spent skipping dinner!
Kraft Fresh Take
Chili Lime Panko Fresh Take
Some parents have the gift of patience. Instead of having an 'all or nothing' mentality, or simply making an entirely different meal each time they want to eat something their child doesn't, they find creative ways to introduce new food. I have a girlfriend who will tell her 10, 8, and 3 year old children to simply eat a bite of something, without any introduction. She aims to get the food in their mouths before explaining what it is, so their first impression is of taste, not title or contents. This sneaky chef approach drives her fiance mad, since he considers it 'tricking' the kids. I see both sides of the line, but I've found this tactic can be similarly applied to adults as well as kids. You don't have to reinvent an entirely new recipe to get your family and guests to try new cuisine. My secret? I rely on easy dinner and meal aids such as Kraft Fresh Take.
Chicken Sushi Ingredients
Kraft Fresh Take Chicken
Kraft Fresh take comes in 9 unique varieties ranging from Spicy Chipotle Cheddar to Rosemary and Roasted Garlic, and essentially consists of a bread crumb and Kraft shredded cheese mix. I first discovered #FreshTake when it launched, and was lucky enough to get a sneak peek as one of their first demographics. In the beginning my endeavors consisted of hymning and hawing over how easy it was to toss any protein in the snap seal pouch, shake, and toss on a baking sheet. Not only did these unique coatings offer a lot of bold flavor, but a wonderful crunchy texture our family instantly loved. For months I used Fresh Take as a meal aid for busy nights when I'd forgotten I had pork chops in the bottom drawer, or didn't have the time to cook from scratch. Then I discovered that there were recipe ideas on the inside of the packaging, as well as an entire collection of meal and snack ideas on the Kraft Fresh Take website.
Chicken Sushi at home
Kraft Fresh Take Chili Lime Panko Chicken
I began to feel a little more empowered. As Kraft released more and more new flavors like Cheddar Jack and Bacon, or Smokey Mesquite BBQ, I found new ways to cook with Fresh Take. I tried new proteins, I whipped up a delicious omelet, some Chipotle deviled eggs; and I kept a stockpile of Fresh Take varieties in my fridge at all times. When the Chili Lime and Panko Fresh Take came to a Walmart near us (see more in my Google+ here), I knew my first taste deserved something special. Inspired by the 'Panko' bread crumb base, which called to my tastes for fine Japanese cuisine, I told Jay adamantly, "I'm going to make sushi!" With a furrowed brow he looked at me confused, as I continued, "And, even better, I'm going to make it without fish!" We both love sushi, but I'd never trust my culinary knowledge, or knife skills to raw fish, so this seemed like a reasonable compromise.
Chicken Sushi Roll
Chili Lime Chicken Sushi
As it turned out, a new printable coupon had just been released on the Walmart website for $.99/1 bag of Kraft Fresh Take. When I arrived at my local store I was tickled to find the everyday low price cheaper than my usual grocer, and snagged two bags for less than $1 each! When I got home I pulled out the ingredients I'd had on standby, since I received a sushi kit years back as a gift, and went to work at my first attempt at home made sushi. (Yes, this was my very first attempt- so, if I can do it, so can you!) I added a little Sriracha sauce to a whipped raw egg and rolled my thin cut chicken strips in it, before dunking 2-3 pieces in my Fresh take bag and shaking vigorously. I'd then carefully lay each piece on a pre-greased cookie sheet and allow them to cook while I made the fresh Sushi Rice, tossed in rice vinegar (for flavor).

Honestly, the entire process was more than easy- it was fun. I enjoyed carefully slicing my chosen roll ingredients (fresh cucumber and avocado), and the challenge of working with sticky rice. I loved the color and texture my Fresh take coated strips added to the roll, and even scraped the baked 'crust' off the cookie sheet as a 'crunchy roll topping.' But most importantly, I truly felt a sense of pride when I was done. I'm not sure why I'd envisioned my first sushi roll coming out melted and mis-shapen, but the end result was quite contrary. Not only does is Chili Lime Chicken Sushi recipe easy enough for a novice chef to tackle, but the compliments at any Fall football game, or even from a picky young eater, are sure to be worth their weight in gold. I'm off to pat myself on the back!

What Daughter Says: See food differently and experience a Fresh Take when you reinvent classic cuisine with new flavors!