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Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving (to those who celebrate)!

I hope your day is filled with doing the things you love with the ones you love. I hope your bellies are happy and your hearts are full. I hope you cherish the time spent with family and friends and realize there is much for which to be thankful.

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XO,
Lizzie

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Eating + Dressing Through Polar Vortex Round One

Somehow this day flewwww by, yet I don’t feel like I got anything significant accomplished. Anyone else ever feel that way?

LUNCH

Around 1 p.m., I toasted a  slice of ezekiel bread and added 1/4 avocado + 1 slice deli turkey. I enjoyed my avocado toast with a side of homemade trail mix (toasted almonds, unsalted peanuts, reduced sugar craisins).

avocado

close up

I typed up some notes for a presentation I have due tomorrow before bundling up to brave the elements. I really shouldn’t complain because I know the coming months will be ten times worse than this week. I’m already ready for spring break –> do you get those when you’re a non-student? I can’t remember 🙂

zara

I bought this Zara blanket scarf (for 50% off!) a few weeks ago. I’m a bit on the fence about it – I wore it for the first time last weekend and was sweating the whole time. I find it slightly overwhelming to wear unless the temps are below freezing like they were today. I know it will come in handy for polar vortex 2015.

If you didn’t live in Chicago last winter, this is what I looked like for two months.

polar vortex

So attractive!

I had a babysitting gig this afternoon where I enjoyed a few slivers of a donut(s). The pieces may or may not have comprised a whole donut 😉

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To negate the sugar overload, I also devoured a honeycrisp apple + peanut butter.

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FYI: apples are best served over downtown Chitown.

***

On the menu tonight are turkey burgers + side salads. If you haven’t caught on yet, Bobby and I have some favorite dinners that we keep in rotation. I plan to switch things up more often so as not to bore myself you.

Have a great rest of your night!

XO,
Lizzie

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When Motivation Wanes

Hi friends – happy Hump Daaaaaaaay to you! (mike mike mike)

LAST NIGHT

There’s always at least one night per week that I don’t feel like cooking dinner, and last night was it. We typically order something or have a “fend-for-yourself” meal (which usually means avocado toast for me and frozen pizza for Bobby).

Welp, this happened instead.

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And I’d been lyin’ to you if I said it wasn’t delicious.

close up

Dinner was followed by this + about 15 Bit-O-Honeys.

reeces

I will never be “perfect” 100% of the time when it comes to eating a healthy diet, and I’m okay with that. I am learning that the 80/20 rule is how I want to live my life for the rest of my life, and feeling “guilty” for eating mac-and-cheese and candy every once in a while is just redonkulous.

BREAKFAST & WORKOUT

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When I woke up this morning, I did not feel like working out; I slept poorly, had a headache and was full of congestion. Exercise just didn’t sound like fun. So, I ate my breakfast (baked egg muffins + ketchup) and worked on my computer through the morning.

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Around 10 a.m., I threw on my workout clothes and headed downstairs to the gym. I told myself that I could quit halfway through if I really didn’t want to finish. This is my “don’t make me do this” face.

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I used this interval workout from my Health & Fitness Pinterest board:

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I actually really liked this one! It went by so fast because the intervals are shorter – gotta love that. I followed up my cardio with this BeFIT Yoga video.

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Though it was tough to find that motivation today, I am so glad I did!

The ratio of me wanting to workout versus not wanting to is probably 50:50. I wish I could be that person who intrinsically wants to exercise seven days a week, but I don’t think that will ever be me.

What helps me get off my butt is to think about:

  • How great is feels to work my heart muscle
  • Feeling and looking good in my skin
  • The importance of exercise to my mental health

What motivates you to get to that group exercise class or go on a long run? 

Claire recently wrote a post about the “all or nothing” approach to fitness that I really enjoyed reading. Check it out if you’re struggling with this as well –> A Healthy Life is a Journey

XO,
Lizzie

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A Killer Workout + Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake [Recipe]

Hi there!

Let’s pick up from where we left off this afternoon, shall we?

WORKOUT

Around 3 p.m., I started craving a snack and opened up one of these, a chocolate chip cookie dough Lara bar.

lara

While eating my snack, I caught up on a few thank you notes before getting ready for spin class.

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I am always so impressed by how fit, strong and motivating the instructors are at Fly Wheel, and I know it’s part of the reason I’ve fallen in love with the classes. There literally hasn’t been an instructor that I’ve disliked. The guy I had today looked like a professional athlete, and did the entire class (while yelling over the music or singing the lyrics) on his bike without losing a breath. It was like nothing I’d ever seen and so inspiring!

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I felt like the instructor really pushed us and I loved it. You could say it was a successful workout.

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Worn out & sweaty 

I hobbled home and jumped in the shower before getting dinner started. I saw this guy in our fridge this morning and I knew I wanted to do something with him.

spaghetti squash

I thought I’d pinned a spaghetti squash bake on Pinterest, but when I looked for the specific one I couldn’t find it. After some perusing (and still not finding the original pin), I found this recipe on Popsugar.com and made it my own based on what ingredients we had on hand.

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with basil leaves2

Bobby and I both ended up loving this, and I will definitely be making it again.

cheesy squash

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake (*modified from PopSugar.com recipe)

*Vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 whole spaghetti squash
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. jarred minced garlic)
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tub fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 C shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 C shredded parmesan
  • A few basil leaves (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Poke spaghetti squash all over with a knife and cook in the microwave for eight to 12 minutes until soft. While that’s cooking, add the oil, garlic, pepper, onion, and carrots to a pan, cooking over medium heat until onion are golden brown.

3. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and with a fork, scrape the flesh from the peel. It should flake off easily in strings, resembling spaghetti. Place the spaghetti squash flesh in a casserole dish. Add the cooked veggies, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese and most of the shredded cheeses and mix well. Sprinkle leftover shredded cheeses on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. With five minutes left, place torn basil leaves on top of pasta and bake for remaining time.

4. Serve & enjoy!

***

While we were eating our dinners and just chatting, Bobby looked over and noticed Baxter on top of the stove licking what remained of the pan! We found it hilarious because we had no idea how long he’d been over there. When he looked up, he was like a deer in headlights, with a tiny dot of dinner on his nose.

baxie spaghetti

Can you spot it?

XO,

Lizzie

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I Wouldn’t Touch an Olive With a Ten-Foot Pole

Hey guys! Hope you’re hump day is going great. This morning, I had plans to attend a spin class, but ended up canceling it late last night and reserving the same class for this afternoon. I’m happy with my decision considering this morning was absolutely gorgeous.

coffee

When you’re on the balcony, Baxter is never far behind. Can you spot him?

BREAKFAST

I enjoyed my coffee on the balcony in the glorious sunshine. But then I remembered that we have no porch furniture, and drinking my coffee standing up didn’t sound as good as drinking it sitting down. Baxie agreed.

baxie sun

I spent the morning catching up on my favorite blogs and news sites. I am so happy that election commercials will simmer down now. Those things are in such poor taste and I can’t even stand to watch them. It’s cool that we have a new governor. Change is good sometimes.

Kimberly at Penny Pincher Fashion shared some fabulous picks from the Nordstrom fall clearance sale. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I had no clue this sale was happening. Though I would love this and these and this, I’m going to refrain from buying anything and put myself on an austerity plan until Christmas.

After about an hour of perusing blogs, hunger struck. I threw the following ingredients into the blender to make a breakfast smoothie: handful of spinach + 1/2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk + 1/2 banana + 1/2 C frozen cherries and blueberries +1 scoop About Time vanilla protein powder + 5 ice cubes.

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The rest of the morning included lots of this,

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And this,

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LUNCH 

For a break, I went out downstairs to pick up our dry cleaning and mail before assembling a salad for lunch. Bobby ordered dinner last night for himself, but he needed me to also get something in order to hit the delivery minimum. I had already eaten my own early dinner, so I ordered a salad to be consumed for lunch today. Talk about meal planning!

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I had to bribe Baxter with a piece of chicken on the floor so I could take this photo

It consisted of romaine lettuce + mozzarella + provolone + grilled chicken + red peppers + tomatoes + chickpeas + olives + croutons + a creamy greek dressing. I removed the olives because I hate them, and the croutons because they were soggy. I ended up eating all the toppings and some of the lettuce (like I always seem to do) mostly because the whole thing had a hint of olive-taste which I cannot handle. I added a pear on the side to make it a more fulfilling lunch.

Lunch got me thinking about which foods I dislike. For me, it’s all kinds of olives, mushrooms (though I like the soup?), grapefruit and pumpkin pie. I remember absolutely loving olives as a kid too. And I adored shrimp as a child, couldn’t stand it as a teen, and now it’s one of my favorites. Taste buds are weird little creatures. What about you?

  • What foods do you hate the smell/texture/taste of? 
  • Are there any foods you hated as a kid, but like now? Or vice versa?

I’ll be back later with a dinner and workout post. Have a great afternoon!

XO,

Lizzie

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Favorite Celebrity Halloween Costumes

I updated the “About” page today, so be sure to check it out! I had good intentions to wake up early this morning to get in a short yoga sesh before my day of classes. I guess good intent goes out the window when you snooze your alarm and wake up just in time to scarf down cereal and head out the door. :/ We just won’t count today, mmmmkay?

cereal

Kashi Heat-to-Heart + reduced sugar craisins + unsweetened vanilla almond milk

I’m excited to take a morning Fly Wheel class tomorrow. It’s by far my favorite of the Class Pass studios in my neighborhood, and if it wasn’t so freaking expensive, I would sign up for a membership. I wish I had discovered my love of spinning earlier in life!

Since today was less than noteworthy in the food and exercise department, let’s move on to a more fun topic: a round up of my favorite celebrity Halloween costumes. As we didn’t end up dressing up on Friday, I’ve been feeling rather envious of those who did. So, without further ado, my top five favorite costumes worn by celebs on Halloween this year.

  • 5. Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan as the OINB cast – Michael Strahan as Crazy Eyes! Does it get any better?

kelly ripa

  • 4. Katy Perry as a cheeto – I love when gorgeous celebs down play their looks on Halloween. To me, it shows they’ve got some humility and a sense of humor!

katy perry

  • 3. Colton Haynes as Princess Fiona from Shrek – this is just too good, considering he looks completely unrecognizable. Here’s the side-by-side comparison.

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  • 2. Neil Patrick Harris and family as the cast of Alice in Wonderland – I’m a sucker for a family theme, and his twins are absolutely the cutest things ever.

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  • 1. The ladies of the Today Show as SNL’s Mom Jeans skit  – I honestly cannot get over this one! The wigs kill me and there’s just something so funny about mom jeans.

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Have a great evening!

XO,

Lizzie

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A Jam-packed Monday

Hi there!

Today was quite the productive Monday full of paper writing, two meetings, a quick workout and a healthy dinner tag teamed by Bobby and yours truly. But first,

BREAKFAST

The past few mornings I’ve woken up with major carb cravings and I don’t know why. I’m not much of an oatmeal girl, so I usually resort to cereal or a breakfast sammy (like yesterday’s). This morning, I poured a bowl of Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted cereal with 1/2 banana + unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I love Kashi for the natural ingredients, and this particular kind for the low sugar.

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After devouring breakfast, I spent some time – admittedly in my jammies – working on a paper that I have due this week and watching the Today Show. Meghan Trainor was on to sing All About That Bass. I guess I’m new to that train, but what a great song! I felt myself smiling like a goober while actually listening to the lyrics.

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I’m all about that female empowerment!

I jumped in the shower to get ready for my lunch meeting that was just a few blocks from our place. Since, I haven’t been working since my internship ended in October, I had fun putting together a business casual outfit. Ha!

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After lunch, I headed straight to the cutest little coffee shop where I had planned to meet a new mom for whom I might start babysitting. I was sitting there for a good ten minutes before I realized that I hadn’t changed my watch to reflect Daylight Savings, and was an hour early! I ordered a mango iced tea and scavenged in my purse for the chocolate I’d saved from lunch, and browsed Pinterest until our actual meeting time. It turned in to a nice like hour of relaxation.

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After my meeting, I spent a good ten minutes bobbing and weaving through workmen around Michigan Avenue who were stringing Christmas tree lights. Is it really that time of year already? Not that I’m complaining! I’ll probably tune my Pandora to the Holiday Pop station in the next few weeks 🙂

WORKOUT

I quickly changed into workout clothes when I got home after briefly catching up with Bobby. Our weight room has been closed for construction, so I’ve been doing more cardio than usual lately if I’m not taking a Class Pass class. I used this workout that has been sitting on my Pinterest board for a while now. I never run at 6.5, so this was more challenging than I’d expected!

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Bobby and I threw together a speedy dinner – Amylu cheddar turkey burgers and side salads (chopped romaine + cucumber + carrot + craisins + almonds + Bolthouse Farms yogurt ranch). I was so hungry that I completely forgot to snap a picture, but I did get capture evidence of my post-dinner handful of Garrett’s Popcorn 😉

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The savory-sweet combo is SO addicting!

We’re currently watching Girl Interrupted and I have plans to make my favorite pumpkin mug cake for dessert. I’m hoping to get in some yoga before my school day starts tomorrow, even if it’s part of a DVD or YouTube video. Here’s to a just-as-productive-Tuesday!

XO,
Lizzie

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Amateur Blogger

Hey there!

I set off with the best blogger intentions today. I dusted off my ‘ol digital camera and brought it out with us today so I could start taking “real” photos, instead of iPhone shots. Turns out, I threw out the computer cord in my July move! Go figure. My camera is at least four years old, so here’s hoping that Best Buy carries a cord replacement. *fingers crossed*

Anyway, on to much more exciting things –>

LAST NIGHT

I babysat for a new-to-me family.

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My standard babysitting uniform = skinny pants + oversize flannel (excuse the weird half-smile!)

When babysitting parents tell me to “help myself” to anything for dinner, I tend to take them seriously. Kitchens with little kids can be a black hole of junk food, so I always try to make something relatively healthy. I put together a colorful salad, some crackers with laughing cow light swiss cheese and strawberry preserves, with fresh strawberries on the side.

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Quite the random combo!

I followed that up with a number of fun-size Halloween candies and my new multi-vitamins – SmartyPants brand – that I ordered from Amazon this week. I LOVE gummy vitamins (obviously because they taste like candy), but I don’t love the weird additives. SmartyPants are the first ones I’ve tried that use organic ingredients and I’m loving them so far.

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I was born with grandma-like palms!

BREAKFAST

I was starving when I woke up this morning! I quickly threw together one of my favorite breakfasts, this sweet-and-savory egg sammy that I originally found on Julie’s blog.

My version includes:

  • 1 ezekiel english muffin
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • strawberry jelly
  • 1 piece reduced-fat swiss cheese (I used a wedge of Laughing Cow light swiss because we were out of deli cheese)

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Also enjoyed aside an un-pictured mug of coffee

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Up close and personal

After breakfast, I prepped these stuffed peppers for dinner, but of course all the photos are on my camera. Later, Bobby and I went to get our flu shots (ouch), then headed out to my most favorite destination on earth……..TJ MAXX! TJ Maxx is to me what Target is to most ladies. I go in there looking for pajama pants, and come out with caramel corn, flax seeds and a new iPhone case. Today was no different 🙂

I have some school work ahead of me this evening, in addition to watching Nick Wallenda live in Chicago. I’m convinced he’s absolutely crazy!

nick wallenda

Who does that for FUN?!

XO,

Lizzie

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4 Years in Chicago

Happy November 1st!

I love the beginning of a new month – it always feels like a fresh start and the best time to set goals for the rest of the week/month/year. Starting this blog has been floating around in my head for 5+ years, and growing it into a legit hobby is my goal for the rest of 2014 and beyond. With that said, I wanted to post about all the experiences I’ve had since moving to Chicago on October 20th, 2010. When life events/decisions are happening, I don’t always take the time to reflect on how said event/decision is shaping the course of my life. Looking back over the past four years, SO much has happened!

  • I moved from small town Louisville to the bright city lights of Chicago for a PR internship. I only had two friends here, was basically living off minimum wage and was working a job that I knew was temporary, but I still had the time of my life! It was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, but I’ve never looked back.

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The scene during a run on the lakeshore path in summer 2011

  • I met one of my best friends, Natassia, through one of the most legendary friend-meeting-stories ever. I used roomates.com to to find a random(!) gal to live with when I first moved. She knew Natassia through studying abroad in college. The roommate situation only lasted that first year, but Natassia and I immediately hit it off and we’ve been through many adventures together ever since. She left me for San Francisco 1.5 years ago (which I visited for the first time last month), but she has been back to her favorite midwest city multiples times!

natassia

An oldie but such a goodie

  • I found my true career path by working PR jobs that I hated. I never felt at home in the business world. I’m very relational by nature and after some major soul searching, networking and my own research, I determined that a masters in social work would afford me the skills to provide clinical therapy, what I believe to be my ultimate calling in life.

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I hope all therapists feel this way? 😉

  • I adopted my first child…fur child, that is. Baxter (otherwise known as Baxie/Man/Dodo/Stool Man/Littlest Boy), came into my life after a year or so of volunteering at a local animal shelter. I’m actually obsessed with him, even when he climbs my closet, and wakes me up at 5 a .m. with wet toilet paws.

closet baxie

Climbing my clothes to reach the top (two apartments ago)

  • I met, and later moved in with, the love of my life, Bobby. We started dating in April 2013, and moved in together in July 2014. He makes me laugh so hard that I cry, he teaches me to have more fun in life, and he understands my intrinsic nature to be an introvert. He also sometimes helps with the dishes and has happily assumed his role of cat daddy.

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What’s wrong with this picture?

  • I competed in a pageant (Miss Illinois USA)! It was a lifelong dream of mine that I decided to pursue at the ripe age of 26. I spent three months preparing my body and mind for four intense days of rehearsing, competing and interviewing. It was completely exhausting, but absolutely worth every second. I’m planning to write a blog post about my experience at some point.

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The hair in this photo is particularly noteworthy. 

Phew! I didn’t expect this post to be so long-winded. I think it’s always fun and important to reflect on what you’ve learned or how far you’ve come in recent years. That’s what our twenties are for, right?

***

I’m babysitting for a few hours this evening, and hoping to get ahead on some school work while doing so. Before that, it’s 30 minutes on the dreadmill and a quick shower. Have a great Saturday night!

XO,
Lizzie

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Happy Halloween & First Ever Blog Post

Halloween seemed like the perfect reason to write my first blog post. It is my favorite holiday, after all. We’ve had plans for weeks to attend a friend’s party, but after witnessing the freezing temps, torrential hail/rain and brutal wind all day, we decided to make it a Halloween at home. My hippie-like Mother Nature costume will have to wait another year.

I was really just excited to wear this Claire’s headband that my mom bought for my costume while she was in town last weekend.

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That place is such a goldmine for cheap accessories. No wonder I loved it so much as a tween.

Now moving on to the beginning of my day…

This morning started with catching up on e-mails, phone calls, and organizing the photos on my laptop (excitinggggg stuff). Before lunchtime, it was a quick cardio session in our building’s gym while reading the November Lucky <– as a magazine connoisseur, I found this particular issue to be rather un-inspiring and void of real content. Though, Rose Byrne is a total babe.

Lucky

After Bobby got home, I made him watch Hocus Pocus. I’d been saving it in our DVR all month for the perfect dark, cold and spooky day. I was appalled that he’d never seen it! I remember being utterly obsessed with that movie as a kid, and begging my mom to take me on a trip to Salem, Massachusetts.

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After we relaxed for a bit, I started on dinner. I quickly threw together one of my all-time favorite quick meals: The Pioneer Woman cold-oven salmon and these insanely delicious brussel sprouts. I originally found both recipes on Pinterest at least a year ago. I also added half a sweet potato for each of us that I baked a batch of earlier in the week.

Sizzling away…

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I enjoyed mine with a side of Sauvignon Blanc,

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and this handsome guy wondering where his plate was.

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On the docket for the rest of the evening is a scary movie and maybe some of this book I picked up from our building’s take-one-leave-one bookshelf (I’m convinced the author’s name is fabricated!). I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery, especially this time of year.

book

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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