Florida Weekend Photo Dump

I’ve been to Florida a bunch of times since I started blogging.  Each trip has some of the same and always adds something new and exciting.  Like bumping into one of my readers at the airport before 6am…ha ha!

 

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Hope you enjoy these pictures of family fun in the sunshine (aka photo dump)!

 

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I already miss that sunshine!

 

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Hope your weekend involves mojitos and sand between your toes!

#ThrowbackThursday #GrandpaAl

I intended to do a Marvelous Monday post about my wonderful weekend celebrating my Grandpa’s 102nd birthday in Florida.

 

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But instead, I’m turning it into a #ThrowbackThursday dedicated to the man of the hour month!

 

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Grandpa Al and I in the early 80’s

 

I can’t even find the words to describe how meaningful it was to celebrate this exciting milestone with a man who is adored and respected (and very well known), not just for being 102 years old, but because he is a truly kind and happy person.  Love you Gpa!

What Do You Do?

In all seriousness, what will I blog about when there are beautiful blue skies and no weather to complain about?!

Luckily my ticket to Florida to celebrate the birthday of #Grandpa Al in April just got booked, so we will find out : )

 

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Onto another serious matter…Dinner!

Food Bloggers-What do you do when you make a great recipe but don’t get a good picture of it?!  Last night’s meal was Crockpot Chicken Pesto from my 150 Healthiest Crockpot Recipes Book (seriously everything I make from here is golden!).  Tuesday morning, I chopped the shallots.  Tuesday afternoon, the BOY did the rest.  Note: this was an easy recipe that I might have done ahead of time but we didn’t have room in our fridge for the full crockpot and I didn’t want chicken sitting out all day.  End Note: I really didn’t think it was necessary to take a picture of the shallots.

 

Tuesday was a longer day than expected and I came back, just drained!  I walked in at 9pm not even sure if I was going to eat dinner, but the sweet smell of pesto did me in.  I took a small bowl of the chicken and mushroom mix and ate it standing while I unpacked my bag, debated doing some work, and changed into my PJ’s.  I then proceeded to clean up the kitchen putting dinner in a tuperware in the fridge.  It didn’t even occur to me to take a photo and I certainly didn’t have the energy to stage it as a real meal (like with veggies and some rice).

 

But, this dinner was fantastic, so I’d hate for ya’ll to miss out, but a blog post without pictures?  That is so not me!

 

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Insert random picture of car covered in snow this morning…

 

And so I have decided to share the link because this recipe is worth checking out and then post about this recipe in full the next time the BOY cooks with the crockpot : )  No, I will make it way before then!

 

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As a consolation, I do have an updated photo from yesterday’s chili to show you, and I can tell you that it is filling and fantastic!  And totally worth making for one last pre spring crockpot recipe!

 

 

Ok, so what do you do when blog posts don’t go according to plan?

Marvelous Monday {Florida Edition}

Marvelous is spending the weekend with your happy and healthy grandpa celebrating his 101st Birthday. 

 

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Need I say more?!  Even though #Grandpa Al hasn’t totally taken off, I know that pictures and birthday wishes are abuzz on Facebook between grandpa’s family and friends!  Thank you all SOOO much for all  of your warm wishes!  They made me smile and I know if grandpa understood a blog (or knew how to use a computer), he would appreciate them too!

 

Here are a few other Marvelous Moments from this weekend in Florida!

 

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Marvelous is….

 

Waking up in Florida

 

Running along the Beach

 

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Spending time by the pool catching up with cousins

 

Eating oysters with my brother and his marvelous gf

 

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Looking through old family photos

 

Hearing old family stories

 

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Participating in a special Saturday service

 

Watching grandpa make his own dinner (at 4:30pm)

 

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Having cocktail hour on the lenai

 

Making Memories!

 

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I hope that you had a marvelous weekend!

What have you been up to???

#Grandpa al

So truth be told, I don’t really understand the whole hashtag thing, but I think my grandpa deserves one!

 

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Why?  Not just because he is turning 101 years old this weekend!

 

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But because he exercises every day, still drives, has a great sense of humor, surrounds himself with friends young and old, is thoughtful and caring, tells stories of the old country, stays strong and independent, and is somewhat of a legend in these parts with all of the stories that my family tells about him (basically to everyone we meet)!

 

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You can read my Mom’s post about him!  Yes, she has a blog too and you should totally check it out!

 

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Last year’s 100th Birthday celebration was a blast, and I am looking forward to spending the weekend with my family in Florida celebrating this inspiring man once again.  #GrandpaAl!

 

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I’m sure there will be plenty of stories to share when I return!  So while I am gone…

Spend your weekend like Grandpa Al and celebrate each day like it’s your birthday!

 

 

If that’s not something to hashtag about, then I don’t know what is : )

Friday and Florida

Ah, Friday!  Finally an evening to be home before 8pm, have dinner with the BOY, and sit my exhausted butt on the couch to watch Pitch Perfect.  Oh, and blog about our weekend trip to SarasotaOne week ago, the BOY and I boarded a plane for the sunshine state.  We had a slight complication as the BOY got a flat tire on the way to the airport.  Luckily, we were close enough to swing back home to switch cars.

 

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However, my car (having spent the night of the snow storm outside) was buried under thick, heavy snow.  We hurried to clean off my car and move our luggage.  I hate feeling late for the airport, so I definitely had a knot in my stomach as I drove us to O’hare.

 

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We made it no problem and a 20 minute delay seemed like nothing compared to all of the cancelled fights throughout the country so I felt thankful to be boarding the plane.  I alternated between reading and snoozing while sipping on my Starbucks.  We landed, caught a cab to our hotel which was only 10 minutes away, and checked in. 

 

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As we walked into the hotel, we were greeted by two of my close high school friends.  I love how life works out that way!  They were heading out to the beach as we were heading up to our room to change out of boots and winter gear and into shorts, tshirts, and sunglasses.  We walked a few blocks into downtown Sarasota which had plenty of options for lunch.  It wasn’t until we were seated outside at a little café ordering lunch and a cocktail that I finally exhaled and FELT like we were on vacation.  I knew it was going to be a relaxing few days!

 

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We had a nice mix of down time and wedding festivities ahead of us.  I spent Friday afternoon catching up with friends by the pool at our hotel.

 

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By 5pm, I was eager to get in a run before sunset.  I laced up my tennies and headed for town.  Last minute I decided to turn onto a large, steep bridge over to Bird Key making my way all the way to St. Armand’s Circle.

 

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I made it home super sweaty (when was the last time I ran in the heat?) and with enough time to shower and watch the sun set from our balcony.

 

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The BOY made us a dinner reservation at a place on the Marina overlooking some ginormous yachts.  We both love seafood and Sarasota is definitely the place for fresh fish.  Afterwards, we attended a cocktail hour hosted by the bride and groom.  It was wonderful to catch up with some old friends, and we were home and in bed early after a long day.  Saturday night was the wedding, but we had the day to spend at the beach.  We hitched a ride to Siesta Key to bury our toes in the white sand.

 

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We found the perfect sand bar to wade in the crisp water looking for seashells.  After which, we lounged in the sun under a clear blue sky enjoying the warm weather and eclectic mix of company.

 

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It was amazing to see people biking on the beach, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t jealous!

 

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After the most enjoyable day, we had just enough time to fight the crowds back into town, grab a quick bite to eat (fish tacos and truffle fries), and shower before the wedding.

 

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When you combine a beautiful evening, with a stunning hotel, and an amazing couple, it can only be described as magical.  The wedding was personal and sincere, and I was so happy to be part of this special event!

 

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Cocktail hour took place in the garden at sunset.  A truly breath taking scene!

 

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The BOY and I enjoyed the entire evening and were actually the last to leave the wedding : )  After midnight, as the wedding guests retreated to the bar, a few of us made our way to the hotel pool and hot tub.  Needless to say, I awoke the next morning with frizzy hair and wreaking of an over-chlorinated pool.  The BOY and I had no plans for Sunday, so we took a taxi out to Lido Beach.

 

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We took a long stroll down to the end of the beach overlooking Long Boat Key enjoying another spectacular day!

 

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From the beach, we walked a few blocks to St. Armand’s Circle.  After Friday’s run, I was eager to get back.  Per our taxi driver’s recommendation, we ate lunch at Columbia Restaurant.  The Spanish food was incredible and possibly the best meal we had all weekend!  With an afternoon Indiana game ahead, the BOY suggested cocktails and basketball.

 

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He didn’t have to ask me twice to spend Sunday Funday with a Mojito in the sun!  We got back to our hotel with enough time for a dip in the pool and nap before one last seafood dinner with the bride and groom and a few of their friends who had also stayed the extra night in Florida.

 

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Monday morning came way to quickly.  I pulled out my running shoes for one last 70 degree winter run.  This time, I stayed along the bay.  There is just something about running along the waterfront that I love!  By the time I came bounding back into the hotel room, the BOY was starving and ready for breakfast.

 

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We had a fresh and filling breakfast at the Toasted Mango leaving more than enough time for one last swim.

 

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Do I even need to tell you how hard it was to leave all of this and pack up for the airport???

 

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But sadly we did!  Our weekend was so bright and wonderful.  The BOY and I had some time to relax, and we returned feeling rejuvenated and already talking about our next vacation!  I’m hoping that just looking at these pictures will keep me warm through the last few weeks/months of winter.

Good Bye Sunshine State

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So, I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post that we are back in town after an absolutely incredible weekend in Sarasota, Florida.  I so appreciate everyone’s travel wishes!!!  We easily made it down to Florida and then spent 4 days exploring the city (despite all of my trips to Florida, I rarely make it to the gulf coast) and catching up with old friends.

 

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We buried our feet in the sand…

 

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Kept cocktails in in hand…

 

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Splashed around in the pool…

 

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Drank green smoothies to stay cool…

 

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Walked around town…

 

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And dressed up to boogie down…

 

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We admired the setting sun…

 

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But way too soon, our trip was done!

 

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Isn’t that always the case?!  We’ve got a busy week ahead, but hopefully I’ll find some time to drop in and share a few more photos and stories.

 

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Sending warm wishes from the sunshine state your way!

Travel Plans (I hope!)

So…we are going to Florida!

 

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Hooray! Finger’s crossed this snow storm subsides and our plane is able to take off tomorrow! 

So that we can leave this behind…

 

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Oh and this too!  Picture below is from tonight’s big storm.

 

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Somehow this trip just snuck up on me, and I haven’t even dug out my warm weather gear yet.  The BOY and I are spending the weekend in Sarasota to celebrate the wedding of a long time friend of mine.

 

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This is us on the first day of kindergarten

 

This week has been a busy one rescheduling patients and getting ready for the trip.  Obviously, meal planning has been non-existent, and I have been relying on some of my quick and easy favorites for dinner.  ie Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers, turkey sausage, frozen veggies, and baked sweet potato.  I whipped up a batch of Taco Soup for lunch and a batch of homemade energy balls to snack on throughout the week.  I even have a few leftover for the plane.

 

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I found this homemade LaraBar recipe on Snack Therapy, and it was right up my alley.

 

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Dates + Peanuts = Healthy and Delicious Snack Balls

 

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The first step is to chop up your dates until a large ball is formed.  Then add in the peanuts and process until smooth.  This might take a minute or two, so be patient.

 

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Then push the dough into bars or roll it into balls.

 

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These balls make the perfect afternoon pick me up.

 

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Their sweet and salty combo will satisfy any craving!

 

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Speaking of amazing and satisfying….I just received a huge box of KIND bars!

 

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A HUGE Thank You to Averie for this generous giveaway!  I have always wanted to try the KIND granola and even the BOY said he would eat these healthy bars.  KIND bars are one of my favorites!

 

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They came at the perfect time for me to take on our trip, and I stocked a few away in my carryon!

Needless to say, you won’t be hearing from me for a few days.  Unless of course our flight gets canceled in which case my next post won’t be so friendly.  The good news is…I will have plenty to eat : )

 

More of my favorite homemade bars and bites…

PB&J Bars

German Chocolate Fudge Bites

Fig and Date Energy Bites

Almond Butter Cacao Balls

Afternoon Energy Bars

 

 

Peanut Butter Date Bars

From Snack Therapy

 

Ingredients

1 cup pitted dates, grossly chopped

1 cup peanuts

 

Directions

Place dates in food processor and process until combined.  Scrape sides and add in peanuts.  Process 2-3 minutes until mixed completely, scraping the sides as needed.

Press into the bottom of a pan or roll into balls.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Optional: stir in extra peanuts or roll in raw coconut

 

 

What do you snack on when you travel?

Crunchy Cookies IV

Just when you thought you couldn’t handle one more cookie or chocolately sweet recipe before the holidays, I have another installment of Crunchy Cookies to share.

 

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This recipe is similar to one you’ve seen on the blog before, but the toffee adds enough of a twist that I thought it was worth sharing.

 

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The other reason I just HAD to share this recipe is because everywhere I bring it, people rave about it.

 

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Plus, these cookies are loaded with chocolate, pecans, and toffee, a beautiful combination…especially in this crispy cookie bark.

 

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And if you are looking for a last minute dessert to make for the holidays, here it is.  If you really want to make cookies, but aren’t in the mood to scoop lumps of dough onto cookie sheet after cookie sheet, this one slab recipe bakes up quickly and once cooled, you just have to break it into dozens of pieces of crunchy cookies.

 

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So simple…right?  You can save all of the little crumbles to snack on before hitting your holiday party!

Happy December 24th Ya’ll!

 

As we speak this posts, I will be high above the clouds flying home to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the rest of my winter vacation.  I don’t have to be back at work until January (Hooray!).  It was a special treat to be in Florida with my Dad, Aunt, and Grandpa.  There were so many exciting things to do that the 5 days just flew by!  I’m looking forward to my next trip down south!

 

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In case you were wondering, this is my 100 year old grandpa and I dancing outside the diner after lunch today!

 

 

Toffee Cookie Brittle

From Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

 

Ingredients

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1½ sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2  cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup crushed toffee (ie Heath or Skor)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

 

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

-In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

-In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown and granulated sugars and vanilla extract until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a large spoon, slowly add the flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. The dough should appear to be smooth. Stir in the toffee and pecans.

-Spoon the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of empty space on all sides. Use the palms of your hands to pat the dough into an even layer about 1/2 inch thick and 13 by 9 inches. The dough should be patted out slightly thinner at the edges.

-Bake the brittle until it turns golden and the edges turn light brown, about 19 minutes. The brittle may be fairly soft when warm but will crisp as it cools. Let the brittle cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

-Using a large metal spatula to guide it, slide the large cookie onto a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t worry if the cookie breaks; it will be broken into irregular pieces, anyway. Break the cooled cookie into 2- to 3-inch pieces. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.  Freezes well.

 

 

Love the Crunch?

Crunchy Cookies

Crunchy Cookies Part II

Crunchy Cookies Part III

A Cold Front

Along with most of the country, the cold front has arrived in Florida.  Yes, the Floridians have busted out their winter’s best sweaters, socks, and jackets.  When I was little and we used to come down here every winter break, rain or shine, my brother and I would be swimming in the pool.  As an adult, I am not so brave!  Instead, my morning exercise consists of a walk with my Aunt and Dad in long sleeves

 

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I’ve been trying to get myself into a senior yoga class, but I have been met with some resistance.  I fully understand that I will be sitting in a chair throughout the class and love the idea.  When I explained to some friends my plans for winter break, they immediately referred to the book turned movie In Her Shoes where Cameron Diaz hides out at her grandma’s retirement community.  Yes, my trip is something like that EXCEPT that everyone I know in Florida is super active and exciting.

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With the onset of ‘cold-ish’ weather these past 2 days, I have been keeping myself busy

 

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Reading by the pool

 

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Covered by a towel as needed

 

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Luckily, the sun is warm and welcoming, so it is easy to spend time outdoors.  Yesterday afternoon, however, we explored the local indoor Flee Market.

 

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Strolling along the stalls of jewelry, clothing, and Florida trinkets and making our way through the fruit and vegetable market.

 

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We took a quick break to snag a New York style Nosh.

 

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And a pickle on a stick to go.

 

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This afternoon, we worked our way to the clubhouse for happy hour.

 

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It’s 5:00 somewhere…Chicago to be exact!  Then went out for an amazing Italian dinner.  Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to get back up in the 70’s (Hooray!) so I can hit up the pool one last time before heading home!  But, I will be back indoors at some point tomorrow because I am eager to get my hands on this pile of recipes from my aunt and my grandma.  I’m hoping to scan as many as possible into the computer for upcoming baking projects.

 

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Sounds like another busy day…because it is!  I have a lot to fit in since tomorrow is my last day in Florida.  It’s amazing how much family fun you can pack into just a few days. 

 

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How are you keeping busy this cold front?