Category Archives: Joy

Christmas 2019: a very merry rumination

My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.

I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.

In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.

GIVING

More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.

So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.

Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.

MUSIC

I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.

I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.

Such as:

  • Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
  • Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
  • Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
  • “Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
  • “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k

MOVIES

While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.

Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.

FOOD AND DRINK

Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.

I actually wrote about my own personal Esther a while back, before the wonderful Wanda Sykes named her: https://pollyannaspath.com/?s=about+my+belly+fat

But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.

What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!

DECORATING

When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.

I personally love it!

I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!

Thankfulness Equals Happiness

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Later tonight my spawn and spawn’s spawn will be here in my house. That is my focus. My priority. I am so full of joy that we will all be together for this holiday weekend. I am one flipping fortunate broad.

But first I shall blog.

I think it’s important to count our blessings, whatever they may be. This past Sunday at church, our friend who led the children’s message read a book aloud about thankfulness. It ended with the line “We are not thankful because we are happy. We are happy because we are thankful”. Simple and true. Here’s just a few examples of what I am thankful for in the here and now:

  • The comforts of my Colorado home

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  • My smart, beautiful, capable and kind adult kids

  • Hubs and our wonderful grandson

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  • This guy

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Radar loves his pineapple turned pac-man chew toy

  • My sense of humor. It gets me through a lot. This commercial is SO me.

 

 

  • Meaningful work. In my job, I get to procure nutritious and delicious food for aging adults. And give it to them. What a joy this is for me.

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A Thanksgiving card from an appreciative food bank client

  • Writing my blog. I think back to my much younger self knowing it would blow her mind if she knew then that once she turned 50, she’d be pouring out her feelings, thoughts, and dreams out into the universe via a home computer. And that people would actually choose to read it.
  • That these two were my parents. This will be our first holiday season with both of them gone. It is so bittersweet for me. I’m grateful they are no longer suffering and beyond grateful for all they taught me and the love they gave.

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Life is good! God is good all the time!

 

Please join with me in the spirit of Thanksgiving and share pics of what you are thankful for in the comments!

Happy-Thanksgiving-Quotes

 

 

 

The Radar Diaries

Well, you all knew when Hubs and I adopted Radar, you were going to hear all about it, right?

We’ve had him now for almost 3 months and so far, so good. Mostly.

On the bright side, he has brought us a lot of joy. Ironically, the wonderful dog trainer who we see every Sunday is also named Joy. I like to think that is no coincidence. Radar is a happy-go-lucky, people loving pup. Just a little rough around the edges.

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A brief respite among his shedded fur after some crazy random running around as I was writing this post.

Radar is also the most distractible dog I’ve ever seen. For now, I think that can be blamed on him still being a puppy (the initial guess was he was 18 months old when we adopted him, and according to Hubs, German Shepherds do not fully mature until they are 2 or even 3). Pre-Radar I took great delight in seeing the bunnies when I was out walking around the hood. Now they are my nemesis. On account of the fact that Radar either wants to play with them or wants to eat them. He demonstrates this desire by pulling as hard as he can on the leash that I’m holding so tight my fingernails are making imprints into my palms. The upside to this is that he has increased the speed of my reflexes, as I’m usually able to tell him “leave it!” and yank him to the other side where the bunny is no longer in his line of sight. Of course, he isn’t dumb and he is very obsessive, so there’s usually a few quick turns back so he can give that bunny the evil eye. Then we carry on, at least until the next bunny appears. Fucking stupid bunnies.

Contemplating my next purchase…

Then he can’t see those dumb bunnies!

I won’t even go into the trauma I experienced the other night, whilst taking the little shit best dog ever out to take a shit. Bottom line, two smaller dogs invaded his space  came into our shared front “yard” (we live in a townhome community, people) with their owner and he couldn’t resist bolting toward them, tail wagging, ready to mix it up (undetermined if that was in a good way or not, it’s all a blur to me now). I acquired a banged up knee and a bruised dog mommy ego. Tears were shed.

I may have to take my neighbor, Robin, up on her offer of a dab of CBD infused peanut butter for Radar’s Kong toy. She said it works wonders for her two doggies. Though Hubs  refers to it as “snake oil”, so that may be a hard sell.

Radar has gifted me with flashbacks to when our spawn were toddlers as well.

Examples:

Just like when my kids were little, I can be made to feel bad about my parenting skills. Like when Radar got himself kicked out of the group beginner obedience training at PetSmart. It was our second time there, and while we had high hopes that the furry devil was going to be at least somewhat calmer this time, that is not how it went down. He pulled Hubs and I around. He barked in his loud and scary (to those not used to it) way, which echoes in the store. He was a very distracted distraction for the other canine participants. So that was a bust, causing me to feel that “mommy guilt” that I had shed 10+ years ago.

We are now doing one on one training and this has been quite helpful as well as enlightening. Thank the good Lord for Joy!

When our spawn were toddlers, pooping in the approved receptacle (that would be the toilet, if you wondered), Hubs and I get so excited when this dog poops in the proper receptacle (that would be outside, people). We have figured out that within 7 minutes of chowing down his food, he must have a bowel movement. If we foolishly miss the opportunity to take him out, he will evacuate his bowels on the floor. Lucky for us, he now only does this on the tile floor directly in front of our front door, so clean up is easy! Not like we want to clean up poop of course. But at least it’s not on the carpet. We take our wins when we can.

How about the rest of you dog ‘rents? Trying out some new lingo here based on Spawn #2’s millenial vernacular. How are things going? Please share pics of your furry companions in the comments!

P.S. Funny story that I remembered after watching this sweet music video….when grandson Christopher was about 2, we would ask him “What does the doggy say”? His response: heavy panting. Ha ha!!

It’s your day, Gorgeous Grandmas!

Today is the holiday you didn’t even know existed, ladies! It is Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day!

While searching the interwebs for writing fodder (aka for shits and giggles) a couple of months back, I decided to search for national holidays to see what came up. Once I saw that 7/23 was Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day, I put it on my calendar to remind myself of it.

You’re welcome!

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As any of you who have been following my blog likely knows, I am a grandmother. My  my very first post, in fact, was inspired by this fact.

And like any legit Grandma, I am sharing pics of my beautiful, smart, and witty grandson with you all.

 

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Newborn Christopher on his first visit to Grandma’s house

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Christopher and I, a few years later on a visit to see Grandma in Colorado

How Gorgeous Grandma’s Day came to be (I did the research, man): In the early 80’s, a 50 year old recent graduate (woo hoo!) from Wellesley College decided that there needed to be a special day honoring Grandmothers. She felt that for many people, the title “Grandma” evoked an image of elderly women who had little to contribute to society. She was thinking about grandmothers over 50 who don’t conform to that image, so she decided to flip the script. She recognized that grandmothers can be not just wise, but also sassy, ambitious, and energetic.

In honor of Gorgeous Grandma’s Day , and because as you all know, I like to share, here’s some anecdotes from interactions I have had with Christopher.

Recently during one of our weekly video chats, Christopher happily declared that he’s going to first grade, “after I finish Kindergarten!”

Then there was his 4th birthday celebration here with us in Colorado. At the end of a busy day checking out the Denver aquarium and having a special lunch, while awaiting his birthday cake, Hubs looked across the dining room table and said with a chuckle in his voice, “Well, I know that some of us are going to sleep really well tonight”. Christopher’s response? “And that would be me”. Ha ha!

What kind of Grandma am I? A Gen X one for certain, who likes to focus on the future:

Like watching the movie “Ugly Dolls” with him and having a discussion about it; seeing how he feels about people who are different than him. How they are treated and should be treated.

The kind who can’t wait to see him play with Radar. I suspect they will be best friends.

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The one who hopes to be present when he earns his first belt in Tae Kwon Do. Or plays in his first organized sporting event, such as baseball or soccer.

My wonderful mother in law, who is seriously the best grandma any two kids could have, has been known to say “If I knew how much fun it was to be a grandma, I would have done that first!” While of course technically impossible, I get the gist. And I really appreciate it.

Fellow grandma’s, how are you going to celebrate this special day, now that you are aware of its existence?  Please share pics of your gorgeous selves and/or anecdotes of your gorgeous grandchildren in the comments!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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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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!