All posts by Rhonda

I'm a 51 year old lover of life, family, friends, and creative writing (amongst numerous other activities, people, animals, big ideas, and things). I am a native Minnesotan transplanted to the Denver metro area from Wisconsin due to a job transfer for my fabulous husband. We are empty nesters, with two terrific adult children living their own lives, one in Indianapolis and the other near Green Bay, WI. I am and always have been in my heart of hearts, a writer. I was a case manager/social worker for many years in Wisconsin and am now ready for my new chapter in life as a writer. I enjoy writing about day to day (mis)adventures I experience in my new Colorado environment, the people I love and those that inspire me, places I've traveled to, music that makes my world go 'round, politics and current affairs, and general observations and ideas about life and ideas on how it could be improved. My hope is that my blog will be interactive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Write now: Just the Facts, Mostly

 

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Let me start by saying I don’t have enough time to write or read these days. This is the bottom line, so I’m going to cut to the chase.

Facts:

I have been using what time and mental energy I have this past week working on my first blog post for the non-profit I work for. I just submitted it to our Executive Director today. This is a gamble for me as I haven’t worked for her for too long a time so I don’t have a good read on how she will respond to it: aka if it’s good enough to be published on our website.

But it’s not in my hands anymore so I’m going to do my best to just let. it. be.

Hubs and I will be leaving soon to spend a few days in Minnesota with my side of the family. First “activity” on the agenda upon our arrival is to attend the burial of my mom’s ashes at the cemetery. It felt so weird to write that sentence. Mom passed back in late February. I’ve accepted this. Yet this will be the first time since that we’ve gone back to my hometown. Suffice it to say I’m feeling emotional about it. Unsettled.

On the up side, I am thoroughly enjoying the companionship of our new pup, Radar. He’s so very smart and is now doing very well at our weekly obedience training sessions (likely because they are being conducted on a one-on-one basis with the trainer). I’m anticipating missing the hell out of this mutt while we are away. And anxious about how he’ll do amongst the other dogs where he’ll be boarded.

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Crazy mutt!

 

Summer is nearly half over. I can hardly believe it. It’s truly been great so far however, for which I am grateful. We have many activities to look forward to between now and the end of August. The one I am probably most looking forward to is the Wisconsin cabin getaway, where we’ll be bunking with my in laws, my sister in law, and our beautiful, smart, curious, funny, delightful 5 year old grandson. There’s a couple of concerts and a visit here in Colorado with Spawn #2 in the mix as well.

I could say that due to all this busyness the frequency of my blog posts may decrease. I don’t intend for that to be the case, and in fact my fear that this blog will suffer as a result of blogging for my work website, may very well ensure that I will indeed continue to publish a post each and every week.

Often, as a matter of fact, because I have so much I want to write about on this blog, I can envision increasing my posts to twice weekly.

But…time. Right? There never seems to be enough of that stuff.

That is precisely why this particular post is not being posted today, which is Wednesday (my usual time slot). I’m aiming for a post next Wednesday where I will share in more detail where my head is at regarding writing/blogging. Hint: it’s all over the fucking place.

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My draft folder has 18 sorta started blog posts at the moment. Makes me wish I could take a whole day (or 5 or 8) to go into “boss bitch” mode and edit the crap out of it. I would feel so much more settled if I could somehow make that happen.

Maybe this time when I’m on vacation, I will actually use the chromebook instead of just slugging it from airport to airport, to the motel and to my sister’s house. Now that’s an idea. One of so, so, so many.

I hope you all hang in there with me.

In the meantime, enjoy a little flashback in time from my teenage years!

 

 

 

Woo hoo!

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Mona at  https://www.waywardsparkles.com/ nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Yay!! I would be doing cartwheels but I’ve never had the physical coordination or strength to do such a thing.

Instead, I’m going to follow the rules.

And once I’ve followed the rules below, those bloggers who accept my nomination are to follow the rules as well.

Here they are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Respond to the questions (see below)
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award themselves and ask them to share 5-10 random facts about themselves (I’m sharing 5 myself-again, see below)
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award icon (so many to choose from!) in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on their blog post.

First off, a big thank you to Mona! We both recently discovered each other’s blogs and I am very surprised and honored that she thought well enough of my blog to nominate me! I look forward to being amused and inspired by Mona and her blog for a long time to come.

Now here’s the part where I nominate 5 other bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/. This woman has quite the way with words. She is insightful, clever, funny, and kind. I look forward to reading her posts every week. 

Alice @ https://lutheranliar.com/. I came upon her in a Facebook bloggers group (Blogging and a Beverage) and she never fails to crack me up with her true life stories for which she always punctuates her blog posts with the best (often nostalgic, which I totally dig) pictures. 

Annie @ https://givememeatloaf.com/. Like Alice, Annie also includes awesome pictures in her blog posts. Usually they are of delicious food she has eaten, some during her travels and some made by her and/or her adorable husband in her own kitchen. Her posts are fun to read and often inspire my foodie and travel tendencies. 

Then there’s Katie @ https://fattymccupcakes.net/. This lady is freaking hilarious! She tells tales of her struggles with weight and of  her travel adventures. Katie also is a master of sharing her comedic take on real life observations and annoyances. 

And finally, there’s Nicole @ https://entertainingmess.wordpress.com/. Her posts are thoughtful and well-written. Very sweet and authentic.  She often writes about her journey as a mom to two young kiddos and she sometimes shares recipes with us. 

I have great hopes that the above nominees will play along here and include 5 random facts about themselves. I say this because I think they are all awesome!

********5 Random Facts About Me**********

  1. I played the clarinet from middle school through high school. While I hated having to wear the odd-looking, heavy and hot Q-Tip shaped helmet while marching I absolutely loved the whole experience. However, I am certain if you gave me a clarinet right now there’s no way I’d be able to play a recognizable tune on it. It’s not like riding a bike for me. Not like I can ride a bike anymore either, folks, but that’s another story for another day.

  2. I have a brother who is 10 years older than me. I didn’t know until I was 14 that we didn’t have the same father. While completely shocked, it didn’t really matter; it didn’t change how I felt about him at all. But again–shocking.

  3. I say this with cautious optimism (knowing there’s a million different reasons, some I haven’t yet imagined but probably will because I’m an overthinker,  that this won’t come to fruition): I have recently been tapped to write a weekly blog for the non-profit I work for. Yikes! I’m nervous but excited. Wish me luck!

  4. I have never been to Europe. Of course, I want to go there (who doesn’t right?!). I actually have peeps who live there and it would tickle me so to visit them in their natural habitat. Hubs and I are shooting for a trip to Europe in 2020.

  5. I find the concept of having a “spirit animal” quite fascinating. Without a doubt, mine is the body of a turtle and the head and tail of a squirrel. Because as a blogger (and a 52 year old slightly out of shape white American female), I am physically a bit of a slow mover. But I suspect I have a tad bit of ADD as during my waking hours, my brain is swirling with plans and ideas. I really need to have an artist I know and love draw me a portrait of this mystical creature. Spawn #2, I’m looking at you.

Mona included the John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” in her “Sunshine Blogger Award” nomination post, which I love. I am following suit. Yes, I am being a copy-cat.

Caveat: While I am a humongous Beatles fan, I decided to do something different and use this funky, creative version instead of the original.  Aren’t these kiddos so cute?!

Thanks again, Mona!

 

 

 

 

Bingeworthy TV

I was planning on putting on my “reviewer of t.v. fare” hat on and wax on about how I love the Amazon Prime series “Catastrophe” and how you should all watch it.

But then I caught the Netflix series “Dead to Me” and decided you need to watch that one too.

First things first.

About Catastrophe: this show is, to me, the perfect blend of romance and humor. The writing is simply brilliant. And the very last episode was perfection. So unlike every other show that has a sucky last ever episode. Every single person who worked on this show in any capacity will benefit from this being on their resume.

Weirdly, the last episode included a joke about ceramic bananas (in reference to one of the main characters mom, played by the late great Carrie Fisher). While I believe one could posit that this is a great name for the next great rock band, in the vein perhaps of Greta Van Fleet, I related to it on a personal level.

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This ceramic banana bowl was bequethed to me by my grandmother-in-law before she passed. It now sits as a “catch all” atop my dining room table.

 

Short description of this show: it’s a highly relatable, humorous tale of a marriage between middle agers Sharon, from Scotland, and Rob, from the good old USA. It’s set in England. The two meet, get between the sheets in record time, and before you know it, they are married and Sharon is pregnant. They muddle through life together, have another kid, and presumably live happily ever after (that is why the last ever episode ROCKED.)

Here’s a clip that I think gives you a taste of how this show rolls.

 

Other factors at play throughout the series include both Sharon and Rob’s struggles in their careers (she an elementary school teacher, he an ad man), their periodically dysfunctional family members and friends, and Rob’s struggle with alcoholism. The two of them banter just like real life married people. I so heart this show.

Now onto “Dead to Me”. This show is about sisterhood. The two main characters, played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are tied together by fate. One accidentally kills the other’s husband with her car (it was dark out and they didn’t see him in time), and they wind up in group grief therapy together. The two actresses play off each other so well. Their character’s personalities are quite different, which makes for interesting dialogue. There are twists and turns and plenty of drama, but plenty of laughs as well. I found it incredibly easy, not to mention enjoyable, to watch episode after episode in the span of a couple of weeks. This first season had a “holy shit” sort of ending which makes me so curious where the writers will take the story next. I can only assume there will be a Season 2.

I have recently begun watching “Little Big Lies”, which may be my next bingeworthy series. I was interested in watching it largely due to the actresses in the series: Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Laura Dern. Shailene Woodley. Zoe Kravitz.

Now, I have only watched the first 5 episodes of Season 1 thus far, so for anyone who has seen the entire series: No spoilers, please. I love surprises!

My take on this show (aka why I find it bingeworthy): it is set in beautiful California. The camera work showing scenes of the ocean is spectacular. The characters live in beautiful homes and have fabulous wardrobes.

I think the opening credits provide an excellent example of the aesthetics in this show. And this song is gorgeous, right?

Beyond the aesthetics is the complexity of the five primary female characters. They are all dynamic, multi-layered, strong women. They are moms first; they fiercely love their children. They have love/hate relationships with each other and in some cases with their spouses. The superb acting and storytelling are highly compelling. I just know there are deep, dark secrets going on under the surface and I am looking forward to their unveiling.

So tell me, my fellow bingers, what shows are bingeworthy to you? Please share comments on the shows I mentioned if you have also found them bingeworthy.

A supposedly simple trip to Target

Like everyone and their brother (and sister, and second cousin twice removed and ex-mother in law and all their old high school friends), I ventured out for a Target run on Saturday morning.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I picked up the cutest summer tank top; navy blue with little pineapples sprinkled all over it. It was $9 on the clearance rack. I couldn’t resist.

I waltzed through the aisles, enjoying some “me” time, congratulating myself in my head over the smart purchases I was making.

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Then, as I was about to open up the freezer door to procure the Cool Whip needed to make what Hubs refers to as my “Boob Cake” (explanation and recipe will be found at the end of this post), which was to be shared at a BBQ with church members that evening, I was approached by a bespectacled woman with jet black hair in her 60’s who announced that she and her friend were with the “Church of God”. I told her curtly that I had my own church, thankyouverymuch. That shut her up right quick.

In retrospect, I should have retorted that I in fact was a member of the “Church of Satan”. You know, just to see the look on her face.

As I proceeded to gather the rest of the items on my shopping list, I found myself seething about this interaction. I went from ” I ought to notify Target management that these church people are accosting random shoppers” to “this is precisely what turns people off to church/religion”, to “how condescending that this woman would presume that I am not an upstanding church member and Christian”?

So there went my Target shopping buzz.

Once all my items were in my cart, I moseyed over to one of the checkout lines. I’m thinking to myself “it feels so oddly quiet and still. And why are the lines so freaking long?”. I was informed by the woman in front of me that there had just been an announcement that all of the registers were down. Uggh.

So while processing this information and determining what choices I could/should make in this situation, my eye catches a cool looking Led Zeppelin t-shirt worn by a slightly disheveled looking middle aged guy with glasses. He then turns his back to me.

You know how in public sometimes, you happen upon men (and sometimes women, to be fair) who have chosen to wear ill-fitting pants? Like saggy-ass pants hung low enough to see a little crack?

Well, this guy went above and beyond in the saggy-ass category. His entire,  bare, mind you-as in Full Commando, skinny ass was on full display. And it appeared to have a rash on it. He didn’t pull up his drawers for a full 3 seconds, so that is how I was able to ascertain that he is in need of some diaper rash ointment. Perhaps that is what he had in his bucket.

Wow. Just wow. Right?

Then a young female Target employee notified all of us that complimentary Starbucks was available for the taking and that they would save our filled shopping carts for up to two days. I opted to abandon my cart and head to the Starbucks inside the store. The line, of course, was far too long to justify a free Chocoloco latte chai frappe cappucino, so I headed out and purchased my grocery items at the Sprouts next door.

Now that the sheer horror of the downed registers has passed, I will be making a quick trip to Target in the next couple of days.

God, I hope that damn pineapple shirt is there waiting for me.

Strawberry Banana Marquise (aka Boob cake):

Quick story about this, my favorite favorite summer dessert: I found the recipe online eons ago and printed it out. First time I made it, I marveled at how pretty it looked, what with the fluffy white Cool Whip covering the mound of angel food cake/vanilla pudding/bananas combo with a whole strawberry perched on top of it. Hubs advised me it looked like a big white boob. Hardy Har har.

Here’s the recipe:

Keep in mind the whole process, start to finish, takes about 4 1/2 hours!

Ingredients:

1 12-16 oz. prepared angel food cake

2 cups sliced strawberries (plus 9 whole strawberries for garnish)

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1  3.4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 1/4 cup skim milk

2 ripe bananas

1  12 oz. container Cool Whip

Line a 3 qt. bowl with plastic wrap. Slice the cake into 20 pieces. In a small bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the strawberry preserves and set aside.

In a medium bowl, prepare the pudding according to package directions-but only use 1 1/4 cup milk, stirring until the pudding thickens. Fold in 2 cups of the Cool Whip; refrigerate the rest.

Slice the bananas into the strawberry mixture and stir well to coat them.

Cover the bottom of the lined bowl with 4-5 cake slices. Cover with half  of the strawberry-banana mixture and spread evenly. Cover with half of the pudding mixture and spread that evenly. Add a layer of cake slices (maybe 7), pressing lightly. Repeat layers of strawberry-banana mixture and pudding mixture. Finish with a last layer of about 8 cake slices, pressing lightly. Wrap bowl in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, remove outer plastic wrap and cover bowl with serving plate and invert. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Frost with remaining Cool Ship. Slice the remaining strawberries in half lengthwise and space evenly around the bottom of the finished marquise. Slice to serve.

 

This darn dog

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In my most recent post, I introduced you to this guy. His name is Radar and I am in love with him.

He’s approximately 18 months old (no way to verify as he was rescued as a stray in Houston, Texas this past April). He’s a German Shepherd mix, and we suspect part of that mix is black lab (which to me is a very very good thing as I’ve always thought they were the best breeds ever. Besides Bichon Frises of course: RIP Homer. He passed just before Christmas 2013).

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I can only surmise this photo was taken prior to bathtime. Or else he was embarrassed because he needed a grooming!

Now, if you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall this post, nearly a year ago, where I whined about how I was yearning for something new in my life. I was mostly referring to my wish to adopt a dog.

It took more time than expected for Hubs to truly come around to the idea of becoming dog owners again, but I am grateful that it did.  If we had rushed into it, say 3 or 6 months ago, we wouldn’t have wound up with this pup.

Let me tell you the story of how he came to be ours.

We stalked petfinder.com for a couple of weeks. We discussed the type of dog we both wanted: medium sized, on the younger side but not a puppy; friendly, smart, and trainable. We thought we were going to adopt a similar looking dog named Kodiak; alas, he was adopted by another family before we got a chance to meet him.

But then! An email appeared from the foster mom telling us there was a chance that Kodiak would be relinquished due to the child in the family possibly having allergies to him. After a couple of days and no updates, we decided to resume our search and found another GSD mix named Finn who we thought would be a perfect fit.

On 6/1 (coincidentally, eldest spawn’s 27th birthday), we drove out to the mountains to meet Finn. It turned out that there were two other dogs up for adoption at this same home for us to meet. We visited with the foster parents for a good long while, the whole time Finn checking us out from afar but never getting very close. While handsome, healthy, and playful, he was quite the skittish pup.

Then the foster mom brought out “Leroy”. He was also a German Shepherd mix, but with much more prominent “radar” ears (you do know where this is going, right?). He ran up to us immediately, tail wagging. He gave us kisses then ran off to play with the other two dogs.

It was abundantly clear that we had found our canine match.

So we brought “Leroy” home that same day. His foster parents told us that the folks at the shelter he was at named him “Leroy”. On the drive home (of course with a trip to PetSmart first for a crate-which was nylon and is already destroyed but that’s another story), we pondered changing his name. We didn’t settle on anything really, and figured we would just go with “Leroy”. But after about 24 hours and my MIL stating he didn’t look like a “Leroy” and the fact that the old song “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” was stuck in my head, which felt like a bad omen to me, we decided “Ringo” was going to be his name.

You know, after my favorite Beatle (only sorta-what right minded Beatles fan could pick just one favorite?)

So the following Monday we took “Ringo” to his first vet appointment (where he barked so loud, tail wagging mind you, that we had to be placed in an exam room as to not scare the other dogs and people any longer). We presented him as “Ringo” though the vet tech referred to him as “Boogaloo” (which truly endeared me to her).

Then we came home. Hubs started tossing around the idea of re-naming him once again. After all, he hadn’t had enough time to get his doggy self accustomed to any one particular name by this point in time. Hubs suggested “Doppler”. Seriously. Did I mention he was a meteorologist? I countered with “Radar”. We agreed with those awesome ears, which point in opposite directions at times when there are new sounds to process, this was a fitting name. So we are sticking with it.

Now we just need to call the vet’s office to let them know we are big ‘ol flakes who tried out three different names for their new dog.

 

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Nerding out on playlists and a new friend

I appreciate a good song. Just like when I was a teenager and I would tape the top 40 countdown directly from the radio (anyone remember Kasey Kasem?), I’ve got loads of thoughtfully put together playlists on my tablet.

One such playlist I titled “Current Faves”. It is a work in progress, but so far I’ve got 18 songs on it. It’s my way of staying current. But not so current that it’s loaded with pop hits from BTS or FXY or whatever the youths are listening to on their Ipods. This playlist is mostly focused on a genre I have been digging for the bulk of my adult life: Adult Alternative. While most of my other playlists are chock full of songs that would be considered “classic rock” or “pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s”, my “Current Faves” playlist is comprised of songs that were put out in the 2000’s.

Such as:

Informer by Snow. I heard this song for the first time while listening to “The Current” on the MPR station out of the Twin Cities. I often listen to this program on my tablet as they always play a solidly eclectic mix of upcoming and formerly upcoming artists, and I often hear songs I have never heard before.

Now onto my “Current Faves” playlist. 

I’m not necessarily what one would refer to as a fan of rap or hip-hop, but this song has such a catchy melody. It reminds me of songs by the artist “Shaggy”. I think my friend CJ at Feeding on Folly would concur.

Take a listen and you may see what I mean:

I defy you to not shake your booty to this!

A couple of months ago, Hubs and I caught the band Greta Van Fleet on SNL. We really dug them. They, to me, are reminiscent of classic rock bands from the 70’s (Led Zeppelin especially comes to mind). I’m always intrigued by band names, including of course this one. It’s not like there’s a lead singer by the name of Greta. The band is comprised of male millenials, after all. Turns out, the band was named after one of the band members grandmothers. Isn’t that the sweetest?

Don’t you just love how this band looks like it just walked out of a 70’s supergroup album cover? And the lead singer! What a pretty face he has, right? He kinda reminds me of Marcia Brady’s crush, Davy Jones.

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I’ve also got a couple of Elle King’s songs on this playlist. She is something else! Feisty, talented, and entertaining! She makes no apologies for who she is and what she represents.

Check this out:

 

Next month, Hubs and I are finally going to see a show at Red Rocks, after living about an hour from there for almost 3 years. Honestly, our decision to purchase tickets to see the Head and the Heart there was more directed by cost (some of those shows are ridiculously expensive!) than anything else. However, I knew a couple of their songs and since purchasing the tickets have been listening to them more and more.

I have so far added their songs “Rhythm and Blues” and “Missed Connections” to this awesome playlist.

Now, there’s one song I’m going to be putting on a new playlist I’ll be creating: The Ultimate Classic Rock Jam playlist. It’s inspired by our new housemate, Radar.

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Prepare to read anecdotes about this dude, folks!

 

 

Foodie Food Pics

So I’ve got a gazillion pictures on my cell phone of food with no place to go. Yes, I am one of those people. 

I tend to not post these pics on social media because, well…they are not necessarily well received. People find it silly. Annoying. Pointless. 

Truth be told, they are probably right. 

But the thing is, I have a blog. And I am a foodie. And I love to cook. Well, most days anyway. When I’m not feeling the cooking mojo, I like to eat out. Try new foods, new places. And on top of it all, a large chunk of my job is running a food bank.

Thankfully, my dear Hubs is also a foodie (though he isn’t necessarily a fan of this particular term-don’t ask me why). He and I quite enjoy partnering up in our cozy (aka small) townhome kitchen and whipping up tasty meals on a pretty regular basis. 

What makes it, um..interesting, is that I have a tendency to want to follow recipes to a “T” and he is a little more free-wheeling. He tells me that cooking this way indulges his creative side, which as an IT professional during the daylight hours, is a beneficial exercise. So, for the most part, I go with it. We decide which tasks each of us will do and we carry on with it. 

Now for my food pictures. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this pic of the nachos we made, which were loosely based on Chrissy Tiegen’s recipe in her new “Hungry for More” cookbook. 

Pay no mind to my naked foot and focus on this beautiful plate of nachos. I never said that I was particularly skilled at taking pictures of food, people. They were scrumptious! Fresh mushrooms on nachos was a revelation for us. As I recall, the primary difference in our version of this recipe was we added chunks of pre-cooked chicken breasts. It was a meal unto itself. 

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Below I present you with Food pic #2. It’s a chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, slathered with homemade pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese with brown rice and succulent mushrooms on the side. Super simple to make, healthy, and delicious! This is actually on the menu for tonight. 

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Then there’s this gorgeous plate of authentic hummus I enjoyed with warm, fresh pita bread at a middle eastern restaurant in Kansas City when we visited friends there in February. 

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I recently made a pineapple upside down cake and brought it to work. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic below of the jar of maraschino cherries used in this recipe. “Real Cherries * May Contain Pits”. Quite the metaphor for life, don’t ya think?

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Come on, fellow foodies-share your food pics in the comments!