Serious About Salad

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I’m a salad-bar-aholic. There, I said it.

Yes, it’s true. I love salad. I love salad bars. Now, my germaphobic friends are cringing, I know. But what can I say? I like to live on the edge. The reason I love the salad bar so much is simply that I like being able to have complete control over what’s going on that plate. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve ordered something other than a salad (in a non-bar restaurant) because I don’t want to go through the exercise of saying something along the lines of, “I’d like the grilled chicken salad BUT without onion, cucumber, celery, or egg.” And, many times, I’ve (logically) asked, “since I don’t want onion, cucumber, celery, or egg, could you put on some bacon bits or olives or something instead?” Of course not. That would mean they’re interested in making the customer happy, and they really couldn’t care less about that. With a salad bar, I avoid all of this awkwardness and annoyance.

I can build that salad with whatever I want and no one can tell me not to! The problem is finding any place with a salad bar anymore. I mean, it’s even hard to find a crummy salad bar. So, when you come across a good one, you want to stick with it!

This brings me to Jason’s Deli. I have been there twice now and both times have gone straight for their salad bar. OH MY GOD. If you haven’t checked this out, and if you’re a salad fanatic like me, get in your car now. This is the bar of bars. The choices are beautiful and bountiful! Romaine, spring mix, spinach, Kalamata olives, green olives, artichoke hearts, pickles, beets, cheddar, parmesan, pepperoncini, bell peppers, croutons, carrots, jalapenos, sunflower seeds, almonds, bacon…just to name a few! Lots of dressing choices, mini-muffins, crackers, and Jason’s deli flatbread crackers with sesame seeds & pepitas. Heaven!

Of course, there’s a lot more to Jason’s than just the salad bar. Throughout their menu, they feature organic, healthy ingredients, vegetarian dishes and a lot of gluten-free options. I’m also a big fan of soup and I can’t even begin to remember all the soups they had available the other day. I remember vegetarian vegetable, organic tomato basil, and broccoli cheese. My mom had the manager’s special which was a cup of broccoli soup and half of a “pastrami meltdown,” which contained beautiful pink pastrami piled on fresh bread with caramelized onion and melted cheese. You can see Jason’s menu here.

And the “icing on the cake” is the NON-high fructose corn syrup soft serve ice cream which is gratis with your meal. What a sweet little touch, huh? This place serves really fresh, good tasting food and offers choices to satisfy everyone, including kids. Of course, for me, it’s the bomb-diggity salad bar of salad bars! If you haven’t checked it out, do yourself a favor. It’s right on Gervais in the heart of the Vista…you can’t miss it.

Savannah’s Soldiers

By: Katie Austin

Thanksgiving morning started off with me leafing through the many sale ads in the newspaper while sipping coffee with The Today Show playing in the background.  I would look up once in awhile to watch the segments that caught my ear, but for the most part, I was happily enjoying the peace and quiet while planning which stores to go to on Black Friday. I was planning my attack to get a chunk of our Christmas shopping finished, so it was going to take something special to lure me away from the sales.  Then, it happened.  I watched the story on Savannah’s Soldiers and I knew then that I wanted to tell my Every Woman blog family about it!

Savannah Maddison Ogden is an 11-year old girl with an inspirational story. When her friend’s father was deployed to Afghanistan, she was sad for her friend and wanted to do what she could to help her friend through it. She wrote a song for her friend to show her support, but she felt that wasn’t enough.  Savannah wanted to do more, not just for her friend’s dad but also for others who had been deployed for a long time.

I can’t imagine my parents going away for that long,” the 11-year-old told the Today Show. “That would crush me.”

She and her friend tried to think of ways to support the troops.  They quickly realized that the way they could comfort the soldiers who are so far away from home would be to send them heartfelt letters expressing their appreciation for the soldiers’ sacrifice.  The idea was to get kids of all ages to write letters.  Savannah and her family would gather the letters, then split them into groups to mail overseas.  That’s when “Savannah’s Soldiers” was born. Since then, the campaign has already encouraged kids to send more than 10,000 letters to troops in Afghanistan.

Savannah's Soldiers

What started out as a local effort is growing by the day!  In the beginning, Savannah and her friends collected approximately 30 letters each week.  Now, as reported on the Today Show, Savannah is speaking at schools and events to encourage kids to write to the soldiers who have been deployed overseas.

“Anything from home always makes you feel good,” Capt. Bryan Durham told the Today Show. “When you get a letter from a little kid saying, ‘Good job,’ ‘We’re thinking of you,’ ‘Thank you,’ you can’t explain it.”

Savannah's Soldiers2

One of the reasons why I wanted to pass this along to my Every Woman Blog family was to spread the word to others, get our kids to mail letters in, and support Savannah!  I am so inspired by this 11-year old girl from Florida and she makes me want to be a better person.  This was exactly the story I needed to hear on Thanksgiving, as this is the time of year to count our blessings and to thank those that sacrifice every day to fight for the freedom we take for granted.

Savannah, thank you for reminding us that there are many soldiers spending time away from home this holiday season and that we need to let them know thankful we are for all that they do every day for our country.  You are a true inspiration to so many, and I, for one, am thankful for all that you are doing!

Be sure to visit Savannah’s Soldiers Facebook page or website!

Katie Austin

Six Ways to De-Stress During the Holiday Mess

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

The decorations have been in the stores for weeks – in some cases, even months- but now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday season is here!

This season already seems different for me, probably because we are closing in on the first year without Dad. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate and enjoy the season, but my priorities have shifted. Spending time with family and friends seems so much more important than decorating the house or searching for the elusive “perfect gift.”

That being said, the holidays bring their own set of stresses, no matter how you celebrate. When I saw a teaser for Six Steps to a More Stressless Holiday Season in my 5 a.m. Twitter feed, I clicked the link, and I’m glad I did. These tips will help anyone manage the holidays better, but two of them resonated with the way I’m feeling this year: “Keep Your Side of the Street Clean” and “NO is Not a Four-Letter Word.”

Number 3: “Keep Your Side of the Street Clean,” is all about owning your behavior and reaction, not letting someone else hijack your happiness. That’s a good rule all year long, but especially during the holiday season.

Number 4: “No is Not a Four-Letter Word,” reminds us that we have the right to say no to anything that will take the joy out of the season for us. As women, we have a tendency to worry more about others than ourselves, but I’m learning that it’s not necessarily bad to be selfish. The cookies for your work party don’t have to be homemade. Everyone appreciates gift cards. And no one will notice if you wear the same festive sweater to more than one party.

If all else fails, try one of these great “on the spot” time-tested meditation techniques from David Magone, founder of PranaVayu Yoga. Whether you’re stuck in maddening traffic, behind a full cart in the express check out lane or have just run out of holiday cheer, these will help you de-stress and reconnect.

Happy Holidays, Y’all!