August Life of Late

Do you ever have those days where you just feel on top of the world?  My mind starts bouncing at a millions miles a minute, which is mostly due to the pure energy, adrenaline, too much sugar/coffee pulsing through my system, and post-exercise high.  So, all of this will either help me power through the work day or cause severe ADD.  Issues, obviously.

While I really cannot believe that summer is almost to a close, I’m excited for what the fall has in store.  More on that later but for now, I wanted to recap some of what’s been going on in the city for the past few weeks.

AUGUST LIFE OF LATE

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Running around town and seeing all the cool sites with my blends 🙂 My girl – Carrie – was traveling up and down the east coast and was ever so sweet to stop in for a quick jog and sushi/froyo dinner.  Seems to be our ritual 🙂

IMG_5723Announcement: There is a MICHEAL’s CRAFT STORE NEAR ME! Oh how I miss my arts and crafts.  The only Michael’s I knew of was on the upper west side and that’s a bit far to justify.  However, this little section of the west side is daaaangerous.  In the span of three blocks we have the following: Michael’s crafts, Harmon’s beauty discount store, the Container Store, TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Trader Joe’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

IMG_5733Chilling Walking until we have blisters.  My buddy AJ was down from Boston for the weekend and so it was ever so necessary to explore up and down the island.  Most of our items on the checklist have been included in my NYC Summer Explorations Part 1 and upcoming Part 2.

IMG_5768 NOVEMBER PROJECT

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now a NP-NYC Convert and will rep it wherever I go.  If you haven’t heard all about it from Sarah (Baltimore tribe) or Ali (NYC tribe), you must check it out.  I followed Ali’s posts for awhile and decided to take the plunge.

What do you know?  This lovely Grant Memorial happened to be the location of my first Friday NP workout.  Sure the 5:15 am wake up was killer, but people do it all the time, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?  It was absolutely the most amazing environment and community.  Gone are the days of club soccer teams and high school cross country, where your teammates are your best friends.  Yet, this community feeling and work hard/play hard mentality still exists out there! Healthy living for the win here.

IMG_5772 Thank you November Project for taking and posting some of the most flattering and non-flattering images of our workouts.  But really, the level of photography used can either highlight how much fun you are having in such a picturesque environment (even the streets by the pier) and how unattractive working out can be sometimes.  If only we were like this ridiculously attractive guy running.

Maybe I’ll try taking selfies with all the good-looking people in my next race like this girl did.  Props my friend, props.

IMG_5782One of the best salads I’ve had all summer.
~ Bacon, lettuce, corn, tortilla chips, tomatoes, feta, lemon vinagrette ~

IMG_5792~ Summer Streets ~
For about three weeks in August, NYC shut down motor vehicle traffic on Park Avenue and then opened up the lanes for biking/running/walking/roller-blading.  They had rest stops every 10-15 blocks and even offered free bike and roller blade rentals.

IMG_5798 I was feeling the need for something sweet and stopped by The City Bakery for its famous chocolate chip cookie.  Yes, this is the size of a softball and it was delicious.  Quite rich and heavy on the sugary side, but well worth the $3.50.

IMG_5816 The NP annual “Better than Bedtime” event.  Everyone was to arrive in pairs, although we obviously broke that rule.  My friend Marnie + Tracy + I dressed up as dominoes or a pair of die – pick your fancy.  From there, we all ran the streets of New York for a solid 4 miles.

IMG_5822 Just casual planking in the middle of a NYC street fair.  No big deal

IMG_5796Enjoying Chipotle salads after working out.  Nothing in the world like a bit of Tex-Mex.

IMG_5847 Waking up to work out for this view

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Happy Hour Hopping at the Hudson Hotel 

As you can see, my brain tends to jump back and forth and can sometimes drive my friends insane. My family has gotten used to it and my mom likes to call me Tigger (except for the time I was an Eeyore thanks to high school/college anxiety and stress).  Good to know I’ve bounced back.

How are you spending this lovely summer weekend?

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Summertime with Momma in the City

That’s right, not only is it officially summer, but Momma Fuelling was in town for a fabulous girl’s weekend ~ shopping ~ eating good food ~ exploring and more.

IMG_5047_Fotor_CollageThursday night we met up with some family friends and ate oodles of delicious pizza and gnocchi at the ever so popular Eataly.  I’m truly blessed to have these guys on the east coast since they are pretty much my east coast family.  I love it!

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First thing Friday morning, we set out to New Jersey to visit Hoboken.  The real search was to find a jewelry store that my mom’s college friend had started.  Apparently it was called Anastasia’s Accessories but sadly has since closed down.

It was not a total fail since I had never been to Hoboken and we soon found ourselves outside the famous Cake Boss Bakery.  Obviously we had to get in line and see what the real atmosphere was like.

IMG_5047_ Fotor_CollageJust look at those monstrous cookies and cakes!  All the fondant!

Since it has become such a big deal, that there is a line outside the bakery and a man giving numbers for when you enter the store.  After we picked up our sole cannoli (later to be put in the freezer) we headed back into the city to do some shopping. 

The rest of Friday was spent cleaning my apartment top to bottom.  No really, Madre, bless her, got right in the tub with a toothbrush and cleaned all the grout and tile.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  But really, I don’t think I’ve seen my place this spotless and it’s sort of incentive to keep it up.  I did try to pick up a bath caddy but had the most difficult time getting it to stick to the wall.

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Friday night was a night on the town ~ A quick dinner at TGI Fridays (keeping it classy) before watching Motown the Musical.  I was so looking forward to the music as much of it was on the local stations I listened to growing up.

IMG_5047_Fotor _CollageTHE BLACK & WHITE COOKIE ~ Two flavors living in perfect harmony (homage to the Seinfeld episode)

A New York classic that may have been consumed three days in a row.  It’s safe to say I’ve found a new favorite dessert (or just add it to the list).  I had to include the picture of cookies at Pick-A-Bagel where they create separate cookies, for those who like one flavor over another.  My mom and I were laughing all the way home about this.

Both Saturday and Sunday started off with a light jog down the east river trail.  Even though we were walking all over the city, it was helpful to start off on the right foot and of course work up an appetite for the fabulous food we planned to indulge in.

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Literary adventure on Saturday – a trip north to Tarrytown and Sunnyside, NY where we visited Washington Irving’s estate (post to come soon…I’m sure y’all are dying for some English gossip 😉 but really, it’s a neat trip).

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Then for dinner we went to Pete’s Tavern where O. Henry (author of Gift of the Magi) was a regular.  My mom had spotted the tavern back in November and kept telling me to test it out.  I had no clue what she was talking about even though I walked past the place almost every other day.

It’s safe to say I had one delicious burger with sweet potato fries and my mom had the most amazing turkey burger.  I have no idea what seasoning or sauce they used but I was hooked!

IMG_5047_Fotor_ CollageWe wrapped up the weekend with another run along the east river trail (got to get this girl back in shape…slowly but surely) and then dressed up for brunch at The Boathouse.  I have certainly lucked out with weather because it was another brunch to remember.

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Today she heads home and it’s back to work I go.  Looking forward to the summer days ahead and hopefully a Fourth of July fete.

“Family is not an important thing.  It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox. 

Mrs. Field Meets the Valley

Cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Nature Valley bars.  What do all these glorious things have in common?  My quasi-experimented recipe – Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies.  Sure I love my regular chocolate chippers but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve graduated to the extra crunch with chocolate chip oatmeal.  Then, with my granola-parfait obsession, I figured why not break the cookie barriers?  I mean, I’ve already conquered the Junk in Da Trunk, so granola should be a seemingly easy addition.  I didn’t want to go into as much of analysis of the chocolate chip cookie as this writer did and pulled a typical Kaitlin – throw all the ingredients together and hope it works out.

The inspiration started awhile back when my mom sent me a torn out recipe of such cookies.  Then let’s add in the fact that I came home from the 2014 Blend Retreat with oodles of trail mix and granola swag, including Nature Valley Granola. SCORE!  I’ve been a loyal Nature Valley customer for over 8 years.

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The sweet and crunchy taste reminds me of high school days and pre-cross country snacks and helped aid many tedious college group projects.  The really helped me get through the group dynamics more than the projects but that’s a story for another day.

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Cookies
~36 cookies

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter (or coconut oil) softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cup chocolate (preferably dark chocolate chips/chunks)
1 cup granola
1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

1. Stir together dry ingredients – flour, granola, salt, and baking soda and set aside. (Preheat oven to 350F while mixing the dough)

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2. In a different bowl mix the butter for about 30 seconds.

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IMG_5070Of course it’s normal to watch TV while baking.   Just don’t get distracted trying to translate the soccer matches from Spanish into English while you are mixing ingredients. 

3. Add in sugar and continue to beat. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

IMG_50724. Slowly add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

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5. Lastly, add in the chocolate chips.

IMG_50776. Divide up the dough using tablespoons or your own hands.  Separate on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 9-10 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown.

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7. Cool on a cookie sheet or serve up warm with a beverage of your choice.  I’m partial to a tall glass of milk – regular or almond 🙂
*Cookies can covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to three months

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I’m almost positive this came from a Rachel Ray recipe, but am not 100% sure as it wasn’t on the tear-out recipe that my mom sent.  Oops.

*Although we were gifted bags of Nature Valley granola, this post reflects my own thoughts on all products 

Re-creating a Classic: The Samoa

I’ve finally gotten my act together and taken a full day of pictures of my food so I can participate in the weekly Peas & Crayons festivities.  No, I’m not asking for a gold star or round of applause, but I now understand how it can be a struggle when you are constantly on the go.  However, the real gem comes later on in this post when I re-create one of people’s favorite Girl Scout cookies, the Samoa.

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While my daily schedule is pretty routine – wake up around 7, make myself look presentable, head to the subway around 7:30/7:40, enter work between 8:15/8:30, lunch around 12:30, gym at 6:15, etc. – my eats are not at all routine.  This comes from last Thursday, yet another day of stormy weather for the east coast.

IMG_2854_Fotor_CollageSubway snack – Coco Cafe – a new favorite that somehow hydrates and dehydrates you at the same time

Breakfast – Banana bread, orange, coffee, and yogurt

Lunch – Since it was a stormy day, our bosses treated us to Lenny’s (apparently a popular sandwich spot out here?) I went for the tuna/lettuce/roasted pepper/grain bread and saved the other half for Friday

IMG_2867Oh you know, just a casual view of Central Park

Snack #1 – few pieces of chocolate from my boss’s office because I was having what my mom calls a “low” moment and wanted to avoid all the client emails I had just received.  Wasn’t the best candy, but live and learn.

Another positive to the afternoon was the fact that we were able to leave the office a bit early so we could navigate our way home before the next wave of snow hit.  I debated going to the gym but decided a baking project and dinner/Olympics viewing with my friend, Laura, and was more of the mental-happiness I needed.

IMG_2854_Fotor_CollageSnack #2 – Almond butter + celery

Dinner – Thai take out

Dessert – What I’m sure most people are interested in…GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!

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Oh memories of being a Girl Scout.  The meetings in our elementary school cafeteria, singing songs, attending summer camps, and competing to sell cookies so we could get worthless prizes.  I actually managed to make it all the way from kindergarten through senior year of high school and I even earned my Gold Award.  But I’m sure most people associate Girl Scouts with the delectable boxes of sugary goodness that come around each winter.

There are the classics such as Tagalogs, Thin Mints, and Samoas.  Growing up I was not a fan of Samoas and it must have been the coconut that threw me off, grainy and foreign looking.  Also how can you begin to compete with Tagalongs and the ultimate pairing of peanut butter + chocolate?  But, when I finally tested one out, there was no turning back.  

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Many of you might know this cookie as a “caramel deLites” as Girl Scouts feel the need to re-brand their products based on geography, new marketing strategies, or just because they can. Who knows but they truly are delightful combinations of coconut, caramel, chocolate, and shortbread.

I’m surprised that I haven’t been prey to Girl Scouts selling the goods at the local grocery stores, but indeed they have been missing in action.  So, when I found this recipe online one day, I knew I had to make it a reality.  Maybe it’s just me, but there are so many recipes I want to try, yet I rarely ever make it happen.  All excuses aside, I’m trying to be more experimental in the kitchen this year.

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Almost Like Samoas

Cookies
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (*I used coconut sugar)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut Caramel Topping
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
18 oz caramels
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Dip
2- 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 Tbsp coconut oil

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Cookie Instructions

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Make sure to mix completely in between each addition.
3. Add the milk and vanilla extra, blending until the dough begins to come together.
4. Separate the dough into 2 parts and press it together to make 2 round disks. Wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Roll each disk out onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick.
7. Use two sized cookie cutters to cut up the dough.  *I used the top of a jar lid and a water bottle cap.

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8. Re-roll and repeat process until the dough is finished.
9. Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake ~10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.
10. Allow cookies to cool completely.

Coconut Caramel Topping

1. COCONUT – Take 2 cups of coconut and spread evenly across a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place in the oven ~10 minutes (shifting after 5 minutes so it doesn’t burn)
3. Remove and place into a bowl with remaining cup of coconut.
4. CARAMEL – Melt the caramels, milk, and salt (*double boiler recommended yet I don’t own one so I just had to make sure it didn’t burn or stick to the pot)
5. Once fully melted, remove from the heat and pour about 2/3 of the caramel into the coconut bowl.

Putting the Cookie Together

1. Take a cooled cookie and spread caramel over the top and sides.
2. Press some of the caramel mixture onto the cookie and return to the parchment paper.  Allow to cool completely.

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3. Melt the chocolate chips + coconut oil.
4. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in chocolate and place on waxed/parchment paper.
5. Drizzle chocolate in a artful (spastic 😉 ) manner over the tops of the cookies.
6. Allow to cool completely.  *Recommend placing in the fridge/freezer for 15 minutes or even over night.

*Adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter

IMG_4530Were you a Girl Scout?  Do you have a favorite Girl Scout cookie?

Holiday Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Starbucks arrived a few weeks ago, Santa and his elves have infiltrated the commercials, and decorations have exploded throughout every department store, especially the Container Store.  No.  You have no idea how excited I am for this time of year simply because of the decorations, the music, the decorations, the gift wrapping, and warm drinks.  Did I mention decorations? I even found a how-to video on the Container Store’s website on how to make a pom-pom bow.  It’s safe to say I’m already making a holiday season bucket list.

IMG_1060I am the one in the family who LOVES to gift-wrap.  My grandma Nance does a mean pom-pom bow and I get my precision from my dad.  My family would joke that I could get a job as a dolphin trainer who braided hair and gift-wrapped on the side.  That and I could be a personal organizer.  Well, the last one still isn’t out of the question, but for now it’s desk-job for the win. 😉  I may need to pick up a side job during the holidays, just to feel a bit more comfortable.  Although, it’s tough with scheduling holiday visits, actual work, and making friends on the side, but that’s the part of growing up, right?  I guess for now I’ll play it cool and it’ll come down to how my credit card bill is looking.

See, it’s important not to let the holidays overwhelm you.  It’s all meant for great fun, but I agree, sometimes it become too much, especially if it starts SO early.  Try to look at your favorite parts of the holidays.  For me, I adore the various catalogs that are published by each store.  I don’t see it as “what I want to buy”,  I see it as endless options of furniture arrangement, brilliant ways people decorated their seemingly spotless home (which doesn’t happen in real life), and the potential that a blank canvas has, if you will.

I try to maintain a certain level of excitement, not too much so that when it’s over, there isn’t huge depression or disappointment (although it can be quite anti-climatic), and yet just enough that I feel totally included in every song that is sung. This is already sounding a little too “Whooville” peppy but hey, it’s what makes the season, right?

So, when’s the prime time to whip out the Christmas cookies?  Hope and I stumbled upon some of these recipes on Pinterest and decided a chocolate crinkle cookie would fit our need for chocolate and baking desire.

Per my usual routine, I scoured the internet for a few different recipes, one of which was the lovely Williams Sonoma, and cultivated one of my own.
As these chocolate cookies bake, they puff up and crackle, so they are called crinkle cookies.
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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (topping)
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz chocolate, chopped (I used a dark chocolate bar from TJ’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Mix flour + baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter and add in the chopped chocolate.  Stir until completely melted.  Add in eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder, and sugar.

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  • Pour in the dry mixture and beat on low until well blended.

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  • Set bowl in the fridge for ~1 hour.
  • Put the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and set aside.

Cookie Time

  • Preheat an oven to 350°F and set a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Use a tablespoon and scoop out about 1″ worth dough.  Form a ball with your hands and roll in the powdered sugar until covered.  Place the dough on a sheet , spacing about 2″ apart.

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  • Bake for about 9 minutes until the tops start to crackle.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool.

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These make for an excellent holiday or housewarming gift, or scrumptious for a cookie exchange.

When do you start celebrating the holidays?  Do you have a favorite seasonal cookie or treat?

What I Love About Fall Food

Before I jump into this week’s munching roundup hosted by Jenn at Peas & Crayons, I’ll go ahead and share a few of my random thoughts.

Kate Spade needs to stop advertising its sales.  Or I should just avoid all means of accessing shopping stores, websites, or literally freeze my credit cards.  There is just too much good stuff out there.  And there need to stop being sample sales next to my work.  Right now Under Armour is literally one block away and they have SO MUCH and decent prices.

I also need to create a massive buffer between me and any type of candy.  Usually I’m good about spreading out my sugar intake and saving up for the good stuff.  I don’t know what happened Monday but I must have had some underlying stress combined with lack of sleep that prevented me from realizing I was full and altering my willpower.  Oh well, what’s done is done.  I did whip up some good junk in ‘da trunk cookies to take to work and my roommate gave two thumbs up.  This helped me get rid of some of some ingredients in the kitchen.  I try not to house too much junk in my apartment, just because I know myself and know that I will dive in whenever is around, especially if I’m a bit stressed.  Eva Longoria claims the no sugar diet helps with energy and sleep.  I think I might try my hand at it.  Although I have a few sweet treat recipes coming out in the next few weeks, so no guarantees.

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made these while riding Monday’s sugar high.  The plan was to use up any remaining candy in the house and instead bring them to work for my coworkers. 🙂  They pretty much loved me and hated me at the same time. 

One more random thought – has anyone heard of the Mercury Retrograde?  Where Mercury is in such a position that impacts our communication and makes technology go haywire?  This would sort of make sense why my phone keeps acting up, I never hear it when it rings, it continued to drop calls yesterday, the washing machines in our apartment complex don’t work (one even ate my $20…I had a lovely conversation with the company about that), and the computers at work keep breaking.  Don’t believe me? Check out this Huffington Post article on the matter.

Their recommendations: editing, revising, reviewing, research, relaxing, and regrouping. Also, cleaning out clutter, organizing and catching up on paperwork are highly favored during this time. Above all, remember that this is a magical time to reconnect with the past while revisiting abandoned projects and renewing old relationships. Have a magical retrograde!

So onto food, food, food.  Breakfasts have been anything from bagels from our company’s Thursday bagel delivery to pumpkin overnight oats to a Shakeology smoothie to go.  This morning in particular I threw in half a large frozen banana and a handful of spinach.

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In terms of lunch, I finally got into the habit of prepping meals for the week on Sunday, which saves some money by not eating $12 salads every day.  As of late, lunches consist of quinoa, pepper, carrots, spinach, green beans, and hummus.  I might not be eating enough protein since I end up hungry throughout parts of the afternoon and am pretty much starving by dinner.  As you can see, the snacks are distributed throughout the afternoon and if I’m lucky, avoid most of the candy.  That is, “if” I’m lucky.

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Does anyone watch Revenge? I’m starting from the beginning on Netflix and it’s too good.  Not to mention the attractiveness of the cast 😉

IMG_0958This is my favorite dinner by far – salmon with some type of squash or sweet potato and some sauteed kale.  Add a dollop of ketchup and mustard and we are good to go.  I was still hungry after my body pump class, so some peanut butter and almond milk was added to the late night mix.  Maybe I should add some more pumpkin to my daily routine 🙂

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Here are some of my favorite recipes thus far (some are oh-so-old and desperately need to be recreated) –

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And yes, a recipe for this will be happening SOON.

Do you find yourself hungry throughout the day?  What are your favorite snacks?  Favorite fall foods?

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” – Anna Freud