New Blog

Hi all,

New blog:

Blogger works better with photos, and it’s overall just easier to use, so now that I found a way to link my posts directly to Facebook, I’m gonna do a blog over there. Maybe that means I’ll write more.  Hey, crazier things have happened.




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Winter Blues

Not gonna lie…I kind of gave up  on this thing for awhile. It’s hard for me to be at all inspired when I feel like the world has ended and I live in an inescapable tundra of snow, clouds, and doom (oh shush, I’m not being that dramatic). I’m sure most people in the Midwest have heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but for those of you who are blessed with sunshine and warmth year-round…it sucks. Some people aren’t affected by winter at all, but let me tell you: I am not one of those people. I hit full hibernation mode a couple of weeks ago when it was beyond freezing cold outside, and had already been leaning that way for the past month or so anyway. It gets to the point where I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, have trouble sleeping even if I do stay in bed, have no energy, am cold no matter how many layers I have on, don’t want to do anything with anyone because that would involve me setting foot outside, etc., etc., etc.

I know, I know, boo-h00 and “would I like some cheese with my whine?” (yes, please).

That being said, I have been keeping myself as busy as possible with various activities in an attempt to ward off my winter blues:


Okay, so really just one singular craft, but give me some credit; I’ve never tried to do anything like this before in my life, and this actually took much longer than you’d think. This one is pretty big, so I’m hoping to make a medium-sized one and a couple of smaller ones to balance the whole thing out and create and mobile of sorts. Coming soon? We’ll see.


No photo for this one, though I’m sure that would be amusing for all. I’ve done yoga off and on a few times in my life, all using a DVD, but I decided it was time to give classes a try. My friend Kezia had been going to Corepower classes for a couple of months, so I decided to join her and see what I thought. The great thing about Corepower is that they give you a free week to see what you think of them,  so I had nothing to lose. After that, they’re kind of pricey…but they do this cool Work For Trade thing where if you clean for a couple of hours a week, you get unlimited yoga free in any of their studios. I’m currently on the wait list for that deal, but am going to dish out the cash for a membership in the meantime, because that’s how awesome I think the classes are. They do all hot yoga (except for some level one classes) which means that the room is heated (to varying degrees depending on the class) with humidity, so you’re dripping (sometimes streaming) sweat the entire time and are completely drenched when you’re done. I happen to be a person who loves to sweat, so I totally dig these classes.

Dark photos

I’m a big fan of natural light and sunshine, so I’ve tended to shy away from taking photos indoors in dark settings, but this winter I branched out a bit, and got a lot of good practice in! Some of my favorites throughout the winter:


Beyond that, I have become obsessed with reading articles from and So that took up a lot of my time this winter, along with watching Dexter and Mad Men and all of my other millions of shows on Hulu.

Yikes, this has been a wordy post.  One more thing before I go, though: do you know that the word “gregarious” means? My friend Dave and I did not (even though we thought we did). We had been having a discussion about using words that sound big and smart, and thinking we know what they mean, but not really being sure…and while we were listing off words to each other, I threw out the word “gregarious”, and my friend Carly decided to look it up. Everyone around was generally in agreement that it meant something along the lines of “spunky, outgoing, energetic, full of personality”. Right?


Here is what it means:

1. fond of the company of others; sociable.
2. living in flocks or herds, as animals.
3. Botany –  growing in open clusters or colonies; not matted together.
Being smart fail. Ah, well, you win some, you lose some.


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Flashes of Color

I have to admit something: I’m a sucker for advertising. Throw in a catchy song, a lot of sunshine and nature and happy people, and I’m all yours, baby.


This isn’t the exact ad that I saw, but I couldn’t find that one anywhere, and it’s pretty much the same…it makes me want to hop in a Ford and get my life on. And while I tend to hole up and hibernate the winter away, I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of getting out a little more than usual and embracing the cold as something I only need to put up with when I’m on my way to and from various activities. You do not OWN me, below freezing temperatures! I am in control, and you’re all in my head.

I also wear two pairs of leggings underneath my pants every day. Why did I never do that before? So much warmth I was missing out on!

In all honesty, if January continues to be as fun as it’s been so far, and February and March follow suite, winter is going to fly by, which is perfectly fine with me. I’ve started exercising again, which totally changes my outlook on life, as usual (this time maybe I’ll keep it up for longer than a couple of months), and I’ve decided to become crafty! The project I am working on right now is a photo globe. We don’t have a ton of decorations in our apartment, so I thought I’d try my hand at making something myself…so far I’ve done this much:

But I plan to finish this weekend, since I have Monday off! Photos to come.

Besides that, I just received a few goodies from Photojojo, including some awesome color flash filters that I am now absolutely obsessed with, a Bokeh kit, and a fisheye lens adapter. That is more than enough to keep me busy for the next couple of months. Thank you, Photojojo, for helping me spend my hard-earned money on sweet toys.

One more thing before I go: parking’s been kind of tight around Minneapolis because of all of this glorious snow, so I’ve had to go above and beyond my usual efforts just to find a spot on the same block as my building. So then tonight, I got back from a party at my grandparents’ house, and you want to know what I realized? I can parallel park. What? When did that happen? Thank you, Uptown, for having really bad winter parking and teaching me valuable life skills as a result.


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Bucket List

I recently joined this web site called MeYou Health, which issues a Daily Challenge to motivate its users to be healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally. The challenges involve a whole range of activities. After I joined yesterday, my first challenge was to do ten bicep curls with each arm. Today, my challenge is to share five things that are on my bucket list. My bucket list happens to be ridiculously long, so I decided to close my eyes and point at the list (yes, there is a physical list) and choose five things randomly that way. Here’s what I ended up choosing:

  1. Write a children’s book [side note: weirdest thing about this one is that this was an example of something that could be on your Bucket List in the Daily Challenge email – I guess it’s too predictable, but it’s been one of my dreams since I was a child myself, so I’m okay with that]
  2. Go to Patagonia
  3. Live in (at least one) different state for an extended period of time – school doesn’t count [going to be crossing this one off soon!]
  4. Learn Norwegian
  5. Learn how to make cheese

Doing this made me realize that I haven’t been updating my Bucket List as much lately.  Gotta get on that.



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Happy New Year!

Happy 2011, all! I see that I’m fulfilling my once-a-month posting quota, which is good, but one of my resolutions for this new year is to actually write more, since it provides a release for me and makes me happy. And instead of saying “so we’ll see what happens”, this time I’m saying: IT WILL HAPPEN. Just watch me. This is my year.

Other resolutions for the year include, but are not limited to:

  • Move every day. Beyond just walking from my desk to the bathroom and back while at work, or from the futon to the kitchen and back where at home. Maybe I’ll have more solo dance parties, or maybe I’ll actually start taking regular advantage of that super cheap gym membership I have.
  • Think positive. Because if I’m being completely honest, I usually don’t.
  • Eat less Goldfish. Starting after I finish this massive carton sitting right next to me.
  • Embrace my love of music again. I seem to have forgotten about it in 2010.
  • COOK! I got lots of great cookbooks/food books for Christmas, so no more excuses about not knowing where to start. My parents got me the Betty Crocker cookbook, for pete’s sake. You can’t get any more basic and simple than that.
  • Embrace winter? Okay, but only if the temperature stays in the 20s and 30s.

There’s a lot more, but I’d say that’s a pretty good list to start with.

I sat around for a long time today, creating a new blog and then deciding not to use it, and then revamping this one a little bit instead. Part of my inspiration for this blog-filled day was a newly discovered photographer/blogger named Kelle Hampton. She has the life I would love to have someday, complete with warm, sunshiney weather year -round, beautiful photographs, and fantastically adorable children. And, unlike many other people with similar lives and blogs, she doesn’t pretend to have everything down or that her life is perfection. And that’s the kind of inspiration I need to get me to the place I want to be. Because perfect I am not.

Anyway, check out her blog:

I’m feeling very distracted as I write this, because I am playing my new Mason Jennings vinyl and I keep singing along with him instead of thinking about the sentences I am writing. Let me tell you: Mason Jennings singing “Your New Man”, a mug of green tea in my hand (side note: this is my mug, no joke) and the radiator gurgling and hissing in the background, filling the apartment with heat, is not a half bad way to spend an evening.

Finally, I just wanted to inform everyone that I had the best New Year’s Eve I have had in a long time. Lots of friends, music, a crazyloud bus ride, an English pub with a Beatles cover band, and a large slumber party at the end of the night. AND no one cried or got in a huge fight (as far as I know). I really couldn’t have asked for more. Here are some photos from the beginning of the night (I ditched my camera and let other people take pictures after we left the apartment):

Thanks to everyone to came. What a night.


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Mac & Cheese

Hi, it’s me again. Just wanted to pop in on here with a quick note about how much I adore me some mac and cheese. Most days, I find it difficult to cook up a substantial meal that involves many specific ingredients (not to mention cooking utensils and pots and pans that I definitely do not own yet), but mac and cheese never fails to step in and save the day.

I have been an avid cheesy mac lover since I was a kid, but once I started college I took it to a whole new level. As in…mac and cheese became the majority of my diet. Heck, it’s easy to make, tasty, and it fills the belly right up…especially when you eat the entire box yourself. I’m not ashamed (okay, maybe a little) to admit that’s usually what ended up happening. But let’s not focus on the little details, right? The point is this: mac and cheese is AWESOME.

I still eat mac and cheese like a madwoman, but my tastes have changed a bit, and as I have grown, I have tried to make my cheesy noodle habit a little more grown up as well. And by this, I mean I now add vegetables to my mac and cheese most of the time, and sometimes, SOMETIMES, I don’t eat the whole box in one sitting. Also, whereas Kraft used to be my go-to cheesy choice, Annie’s has now won over my heart. Annie’s has a great selection of largely organic options, as well as whole wheat pasta and real cheese powder (or at least as real as cheese powder can be). I’m not saying you should eat it four or five nights a week like I do, but it’s easy to make and while, yes, it is more expensive, I at least feel better about putting less toxic stuff in my body. It’s a lesser of two evils situation. And let me tell you, some whole wheat shells with real white cheddar cheese mixed with chopped red peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms and accompanied by a great glass of red wine actually makes for a pretty classy meal. Or, at the very least, it looks pretty and puts veggies in your tummy.

Also, I ran out of all food about a week ago and only remembered that fact once I got home from work after staying late and not eating lunch, so I gave in and ran over to the gas station half a block away from my apartment and grabbed a box of Kraft instead. I came home, boiled it up, dumped milk, butter, and the cheese powder in…and instantly thought to myself, “Why do I smell dog food?”. Seriously. It smelled horrible. So just give Annie’s a try. Once you do, you’ll never go back. Ugh, I love mac and cheese.

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Okay, so…my life isn’t very slow. As a matter of fact, it’s kinda busy and fast. Let’s be real: I’ve had plenty of chunks of time where I could have written a post for this blog in the past month, but I always ended up using that time to catch up on my Hulu queue, or to actually take the trash out and do the dishes, or to join a gym and work out (could it be?!). But now it’s snowing, which means I am not setting one foot outside of my door for the rest of the night, and that leaves me with zero excuses not to just sit mah butt down and write a little posty post.

I am not the kind of person who deals well with taking on all of the responsibilities, however big or small, that are required when transitioning to adulthood. I am instead the kind of person who deals with it by putting everything off and making everything harder for myself. Please click on the image below to go to a blog I posted on my Facebook earlier this week…it describes exactly how I feel. The girl who writes the blog is super funny and very talented and describing the mind of an overwhelmed twenty-something like myself.


Anyway, because all of those responsibilities exist, I remain in a constant state of frazzledness, especially when I am sitting in my cubicle from 8 (okay, 8:30) to 5 and thinking about how many things I have to do after the work. So instead of letting life unfold day by day, I’ve been stressing about not getting every load of laundry done or forgetting the butter at the grocery store. This, of course, leaves me hardly any time to actually just chill out and write in a blog or read a book. But in the past month, I think I’ve finally started coming into my own. That’s not to say I don’t still have a minor freak out at least once a week (or once a day), but…I feel myself adjusting. It’s been a slow process (it only took eleven months!), but I think I’m finally getting to the point where I can accept that I am not going to be able to get everything done by my own self-appointed deadline, and that is okay. It really is.

Something that brought me back to the simpler things in life was one my of my tutor sessions last week. I volunteer for a program that is a part of PPL (Project for Pride in Living), tutoring two girls once a week, and then once a month getting together with a larger group of tutors and tutees (hehe) to do a fun event (bowling, rock climbing, etc). Anyway, on Monday I was tutoring one of my little girls (seven years old), and she decided that for our fun time after the reading and homework part was over, she wanted to play with glitter. I tried to steer her in a different direction (“How about this really fun puzzle of a monkey?!”), but she remained insistent. So I grudgingly grabbed some glue, some colorful foam pieces, and the bag of silver glitter (whoever bought that and then put it in plain sight of the kids was obviously not thinking ahead), spread a couple of paper towels to catch any excess glitter, and let her go to town.

It was immediately a mess. A sparkly, completely unavoidable mess. Glitter in her hair, on her jacket, on my face, on the floor, on the table. Luckily, some was actually sticking to

the glue on the foam pieces as well, which was our original objective. She informed me I had to put glitter on something too, so I grabbed a little yellow piece in the shape of a dragonfly and sprinkled some glitter on. She helped by telling me it wasn’t enough and dumping more on for me. We ended up laughing as glitter flew everywhere and doing a wiggly dance to shake as much glitter as possible off of our clothes. As I wiggled around shaking my knees and and arms and watching my little tutor girl do the same, I was overcome with a sense of calm. I brought her and her art project home, successfully covering the inside of my car with its own layer of glitter, and since that day, whenever I get stressed out, I remind myself of how I felt in that moment. Everything I’ll be okay. I mean…why stress when you can just play with glitter instead?

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Shopping at Whole Foods

I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods for the first time yesterday. My go-to store since I started consistently grocery shopping last spring has been Lunds, and while they have a good selection of produce (as well as a fairly good selection of organic and local items), I had been itching to give Whole Foods a try. I put it off for awhile because I got comfortable at Lunds, but last night I decided it was time to see what I thought. I went there alone, which gave me ample time to wander the aisles and explore a bit (I am not a speedy shopper). And let me tell you: it is quite the experience. I might be a bit biased, since I am a teensy bit obsessed with eating well and buying organic and local foods, but I felt healthier just walking through the doors with my cliche reusable bags slung over my arm (side note: for every reusable bag you bring in to use at Whole Foods, you can get either a ten cent refund or make a ten cent donation to a local organization).

They have an amazing selection of organic foods (though not many more local foods than Lunds, and Lunds has signs that indicate which produce is locally grown, whereas Whole Foods does not). It was so nice to be able to walk through the aisles and know that I could find an organic version of whatever vegetable or fruit I wanted. True, organic foods do cost more than conventional ones, but I find the benefits of organic – both to my personal health and to the environment – to be worth the extra dollars (I’ll write more about prices in another post; for now check out this article on the Mayo Clinic web site that outlines some of the basic differences between organic and conventional – not using pesticides is one of my main reasons for choosing to buy organic in every case possible).

The layout was the same as other grocery stores – whole foods (ha), such as produce, along the outer edges, processed foods (chips, crackers, granola bars, etc.) in the middle. Not knowing where everything was resulted in a lot of wandering, but it was a calming experience for me; I feel at peace and in control when I can look at the products, read the ingredients and nutritional information for myself, and select the food that I think sounds the best. I easily spent over an hour filling my cart. The store itself was smaller than Lunds, so if I continue to go there and get used to the products they have and where everything is, I think that amount of time will decrease.

There are a lot of different reasons that we buy the food we buy, and it’s always interesting to me to see what other people are putting into their carts and wondering why they are buying one product over another. The whole thing is just very complex. I often miss the good old days when the cupboards would magically restock themselves every Monday with all the food I wanted and needed; now I have to make those decisions for myself, and factor my budget in, and I often find myself wondering how my mom did it, not to mention all of the other things she did for my brother and I while we were growing up. Kudos to you, Mom…it’ll be awhile until I get to that point.

My basic routine now is making a list once a week right before I go to the store, grouping all of the similar products together so that I know I won’t have missed anything in any one section. I like the method of having a list stuck to the fridge so I can write down what I need as I discover I need it, but my list is generally pretty small still, so the once a week thing works for me. My cooking skills are also still pretty basic, so I don’t need a lot of extra ingredients. I just try to buy a large variety of vegetables to saute together for dinner every night and to use as part of my lunch that I bring to work every day, and a large variety of fruits to snack on and eat for breakfast. Then I throw in some kind of bread and pasta, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, and beans and I’m good to go. As I start creating meals that involve more ingredients, it’ll take more planning, but for now I just grab the things I think I’ll want to eat for the week, and do what I can with them.


Green chard

I also try to buy at least one new thing every week and do some experimenting with it, just to broaden my knowledge on what is out there to eat and which foods I enjoy preparing and eating. This

week I bought some chard (gross-sounding name, pretty delicious leafy green) and sauteed it up with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and mushrooms last night for dinner. Simple, tasty, and nutritious. Someday I plan to move beyond sauteing…but for now, just the fact that I am not cooking out of a box is good enough for me.


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Couscous and beans

…and some mac and cheese. And peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. And carrots. And grapes. And bread with olive oil.

The above may or may not be what I ate for dinner tonight.

Sometimes I find myself being the victim of watching what I eat so carefully all day long that when dinnertime comes, all I want to do is gorge. Usually it doesn’t go as far as it did tonight…but what can I say? I was hungry. Luckily, the food I was eating was all fairly healthy for me (with the possible exception of the mac and cheese); it was just the portion size that did me in. Food baby to the extreme.

As you can see, it was all fairly simple to make…which is a good thing, because the kitchen has less room than my stomach. I just boiled up some water, and while the noodles were cooking, poured some organic black beans in a pot to heat up and sautéed some red pepper, a few mushrooms, and some slices of green zucchini. Sounds innocent enough, but when you proceed to eat half the beans along with all of the vegetables and the entire box of mac and cheese, in addition to the other foods I mentioned above…it gets to be a bit much.

Moral of the story: eat more throughout the day. I’ve heard differing theories about snacking during the day vs. not snacking, but I think that if you don’t eat three giant meals a day on top of snacks in between, there is no reason one shouldn’t be able to eat an apple and some trail mix during the afternoon. That’s going to be my biggest challenge…not eating an entire bag of Goldfish as a “snack” (are you beginning to see a pattern here?).

Anyway, I’m still proud of the food I made, because I also FINALLY made couscous, which I have been planning on doing for literally two months now. It’s ridiculous how long it’s taken me to just do it, because it ended up taking less than ten minutes of my time, and now I have lunch for work for the rest of the week. I’m already an instant couscous champ. And since I still have half those beans left, all that’s left to do is throw some veggies in tomorrow morning, and I’m ready to go. I’ve heard whole wheat couscous (or whole wheat anything, for that matter) is the way to go, so that’s what I bought…and organic, at that. The taste test is yet to happen…I’ll let you know what I discover. And speaking of whole wheat, I read an interesting article last night on Marion Nestle’s blog about whole wheat in processed foods like breads…beware the labels. Today’s post on her blog is about food labels too…it’s a pretty interesting read. The things no one tells us…

One more thing before I go: I biked to work today! This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but the only other time I’ve biked to work was a few months ago during one of the hottest days in the summer (and those of you in Minnesota know how hot this summer got), which was a HUGE mistake, because I ended up soaking wet with sweat in the locker room of the parking garage of my office building. I had no choice but to stand around in the bathroom stall, letting myself drip dry…and that was in the morning. The ride home was even worse. Needless to say, it was hard to get myself motivated enough to give it another try…but one of my coworkers has been biking to work since the snow melted, and she convinced me to give it another chance. So I did, and I can proudly say that I arrived at work almost completely sweat-free, albeit a bit late because I misjudged how long it would take. I’m lucky, because the route I can take to work involves almost no busy roads; I cruise down a residential street for awhile, hop on the Greenway, and then that dumps me onto Nicollet Mall, where my office is, which is only buses, taxis, and bikes. If I had to use busier streets without bike lanes (or even with lanes, in some cases – I have seen many a biker almost taken out even if they’re staying in their own lane), I would probably be a bit more hesitant to use that method of transportation for my morning commute. I also noticed that I am a super nerdy bike girl – apparently nothing says dork in the urban biking world more than capri sweatpants, tennis shoes, my running watch, and a giant blue helmet – but I’m not trying to make a fashion statement. Maybe I’ll try wearing jeans and sunglasses and foregoing the helmet (don’t tell my mom) during the weekend sometime, but for now I’m just trying to figure out a way to be more active, since I seem to be in an exercising rut right now. But more about that another time. I’ve already rambled too much for one night.


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Eating With Friends

Michael Pollan has quite the knack for reading my mind sometimes. I check his web site regularly for new articles that he has written, but there hasn’t been a new one up since May; that is, until yesterday! He posted a mouth-watering article entitled “The 36 Hour Dinner Party”, about a weekend spent with a group of people all creating different aspects of different meals together in an earth oven and and over a nearby fire pit. It’s got a very peaceful vibe about community and taking time to prepare all aspects of a meal, and the relationships you build during that time. It also made me super hungry…so many delicious foods! I aspire to someday having a garden and the ability to host something like that. Read the article here.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than creating good food with good friends. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after eating a communal meal with a group of friends a couple of weeks ago – which is why that article was so awesome to read. My friend Elena has an adorable little apartment of her own on the second floor of the house of her landlord, Joe, in Minneapolis. She has people over for dinner from time to time, but a couple of weeks ago was the first time I was able to attend.

It was make-your-own pizza night (just like the article!), so we all (a group of about fifteen people) contributed ideas about what we wanted on our pizzas, and then divided up who would bring what. I chose the task of bringing fruit, and ended up bringing whole oranges, apples, and pears, along with raspberries and strawberries, which I cut into smaller chunks and mixed in a bowl with grapes. Yum, yum, and yum. Others brought the cheese, some vegetables, meat toppings, and dessert.

All the toppings

All the toppings

A lot of the veggies actually ended up coming from Joe’s garden; I got there early and helped Elena out by running down to pick basil, zucchini, and peppers, along with an eggplant that didn’t quite make it onto the pizzas…I was feeling ambitious (hey, if Punch Pizza can do it, why can’t I?), but quickly realized it would take more prep than the other vegetables (some possible roasting or baking ahead of time). Baby steps.

People started trickling in as we finished cutting up the fruit and veggies, and pretty soon we were starting to construct our own pizzas. The dough (whole wheat dough, recipe provided by my friend Sam) was already prepared, courtesy of Elena. It was a pretty sticky, so our friend Alison (homemade pizza expert extraordinaire) advised that we knead some flour in to help it stay together, and off of our hands, a little better.

Pizza construction

Pizza construction

Let me quickly digress: I  know nothing about making homemade pizza. I was wholly impressed by the dough that Elena made, and Alison directed many of us through the whole process…but honestly, beyond the dough (which I’m going to try to make on my own sometime soon), it’s a super simple meal to make. We cooked each pizza for fifteen to twenty minutes (about the time it takes to cook a frozen pizza), monitoring them based on how soft or crunchy we wanted them to be. All it takes are some good toppings and lots of cheesy goodness. I was pretty surprised by how easy it was.

For toppings, I decided on a layer of mozzarella cheese covered in red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, basil, and zucchini, covered by another layer of cheese. Into the oven it went, and out it came twenty minutes later, round and crisp and absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. I paired it with a good ol’ Fat Tire, and I was a happy camper.



The rest of the night was taken up by eating, laughing, drinking some good wines and beers, and overall enjoying each others’ company. A few of our friends had run in the Twin Cities Marathon earlier in the day, and seemed very content to sip a beer and chow down on pizza and fruit, followed by some great desserts.

I left that get-together with a great feeling of contentment, fully reminded of just how wonderful it is to have friends who are willing to take the time to cook a meal, however simple, and to slow down and enjoy time together on a Sunday evening. Elena is planning on having more Make-Your-Own nights (could tacos and burritos be on the menu?!), so I look forward to more good times ahead.


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