Archive for July, 2011

Tag, you’re it!

This isn’t my “7 Links” post. Not yet.

So, I’m having a crappy day today. I’m still struggling with the acceptance of an unfortunate situation which I cannot change, and right now, it’s making my day pretty tough. In turn, I’m feeling down about myself, and a lot of negative thoughts are creeping around inside my head. So, in tune with Caitlin and Operation Beautiful, as well as taking my very own words of advice behind the reasons for starting this blog in the first place, I’m going to create my own blogger-tagging post to remind myself of just a few of the many, many reasons I have to be happy. As I said before — sometimes, it’s the little things.

I want each one of you who does this following me to list five things that give you confidence and that you really love about yourself. They can be physical (toned arms!), mental (brilliant at math), emotional (supportive), totally random (makes perfectly symmetrical pankcakes) or anything else you can come up with. All that matters is that these things make you, you.  I’m sure there are maaaaany more than 5 wonderful things about all of you fabulous bloggers out there, but sometimes we all need just a little reminder — or a kick in the pants! — to let us know how fantastic we really are. This is in no way tooting your own horn or being conceited – just some positive energy to put out into the universe. I can’t wait to hear what other bloggers have to say, and to learn a little bit more about the things that make each of us special and beautiful.

Keepin’ things positive, oh yeah! :)

Please write your own, then tag five other bloggers!

Laura’s 5 Things:

  1. I absolutely love my green eyes. Most people have brown or blue eyes, but I don’t see emerald pairs like mine out there very often. They make me feel beautiful and unique.
  2. I love that I’m comfortable enough with myself to say whatever is on my mind without much censoring. While this can sometimes get me in trouble (!), I think it makes up a big part of my personality, and I really like that about myself.
  3. I have (or at least hope I have!) a natural talent for writing that I wouldn’t give up for anything. It means the world to me that I can sit down and start writing without hesitation.
  4. I care deeply about and greatly appreciate my friends and family, and try to always let them know. This seems to be a rare thing sometimes.
  5. I think my girls look pretty great in a low-cut dress :D

Sorry…had to slip that last one in there! Hahahaha.

Now…for the fun part!

Tag, you’re it!

  1. Ali from FoodFitnessFashion
  2. Gretchen from Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
  3. Sarah from Run Sqrl, Run!
  4. Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers
  5. Allie from Picky Eating RD

Have fun, ladies!! :)

Tell me, what do you love about yourself?

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July 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm 10 comments

Sometimes, it’s the little things

Hi, friends!

I am currently up late, icing my knee because it is throbbing. It has been all day. It’s kind of starting to freak me out how much this pain has progressed, so I’m really glad that I have a physical therapy appointment on Monday. A healthy 24 year-old should not have this much knee pain. Blegh.

I kept up and iced last night too, while watching the presidential address.

I didn’t have much energy to make a fancy or involved meal, so I rolled with some gluten free Amy’s mac and cheese. I’m not sure why I had GF instead of regular or whole wheat, but I like rice pasta so it was fine with me! I made a big serving of Brussels sprouts to have on the side. Perfect quick but relatively healthy (as opposed to takeout, which I would have done in this situation in the past!) meal for a takin’ it easy kind of night!

—————————————————–

Last weekend I had originally planned on joining some friends over in Michigan to celebrate a birthday on the beach, but the plans were a little too last minute and ended up falling through. I didn’t mind so much though, because my brother and sister-in-law had invited me over to their new apartment in Old Town for some barbecuing, drinks and chillin’ with my parents and my sister-in-law’s parents, who we all get along with very well. It was such a blast — the perfect day :) Sometimes, it’s the little things.

There was lots of food, including Lisa’s (my S-I-L) delicious homemade caprese pasta salad, along with some orzo and quinoa salads as well.

It was so good, I had to actively prevent myself from devouring the entire gigantic bowl she had prepared. Props to the chef!!

While the boys worked the grill, I had some tasty chilled  Riesling.

Before long, Lisa had brought out the fixin’s for the grilled food. Again, I had to watch myself as not to drool all over the food.

The chicken kabobs came out first. I didn’t know they were an option so I hadn’t requested one, but thankfully my mama let me have a bite…or three :)

My brother’s amazing corn recipe came out next. It smelled so good!

By this point, I was ready for the main event — my mouth was watering!

Thankfully, the burgers were ready!

The delicious smells invited some visitors of the canine variety.

That’s Mason, my nephew :) He gets his good looks from his auntie Laura! :)

…Perhaps that’s where he also gets his mischievous and sometimes naughty behavior from…

That’s their neighbor’s dog, Jake. As I snapped a picture of Lisa petting him, Mason decided to make himself the star of the shot. Check out that sneaky little devil!!! What a punk!

After Mason had his own pee incident, more drinks were served.

And I insisted that everyone pose for some more pictures. Say cheese!

Hi, momma!! She looks too cute in my hat :)

My wonderful dad. It’s hard to get him to do a normal smile, so I was thrilled with this picture!

My brother, however, wasn’t as thrilled.

He may or may not still think of me as his annoying little sister :D

Aren’t they such handsome fellas??

Mason came in for some more glamour shots.

He really is too adorable. Tough to photograph, though! Lots of blurry shots, and I had to lure him with the promise of blueberries to get him close enough!!

Our friend Andrew stopped by.

We had some amazing dessert…brownies with fresh berries!

They were so good! I definitely had two or three. Nothing beats summer berries. Well, okay…brownies are a close call!

And as it got darker, a few more drinks were had ;)

All in all, it was the perfect day and evening full of friends, family, laughter, and delicious food. I couldn’t have been happier. Life is good :)

July 27, 2011 at 3:09 am 9 comments

Makin’ my heart happy

A few wonderful things to start off the morning:


This was playing on XRT on my way into work. Nothing gets me going like the blues…I am flat-out obsessed.

The auction results for The Great Fundraising Act — holy moly!

Jojo’s kind words.

Getting tagged in Ashley’s 7 links.

 

Happy Tuesday!

July 26, 2011 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Mini chocolate doughnuts – taste (and look) naughty, but they’re not

Oh, hey. Did ya see that I made some doughnuts the other night?

Sidenote: which spelling do you prefer — donuts or doughnuts? I switch back and forth…can’t make up my mind!

My friend Laura and I decided to stay in Friday night and watch movies/make doughnuts with the new mini doughnut pan I got last week! Don’t they look super neat??

I modified an EatingWell recipe for healthier chocolate donuts, and it went down like this:

Laura’s Inappropriate-but-Healthy Mini-Chocolate Doughnuts

Modified from EatingWell Sept/Oct 1996

If you’re wondering why they’re named as such, see my prep video.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour: half oat, half whole wheat, or whatever mixture of whole grain flour of your choosing
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt + squeeze of fresh lemon juice (this makes a buttermilk-like taste!)
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch or two of coffee grounds — this will bring out the chocolate flavor

Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk of choice — I used vanilla soy, but will use almond next time

Doughnut-makin’ time:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. If you are using regular size and not mini doughnut pans, bump this up to 400. Thoroughly coat the molds of mini-doughnut pans (I only used one, but this made ~3 batches) with cooking spray. Sprinkle molds evenly with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, shaking out excess.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk egg and egg white in another bowl until frothy. Add brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; whisk until smooth. Add yogurt, oil and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  3. Scoop batter into each prepared mold, smoothing the surfaces with a small spoon — you will want it to be about 1/3 of the way filled. Bake until the tops spring back when touched lightly, about 8 minutes. If you are using regular doughnut pans, you may need to cook slightly longer. Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool.
  4. To make glaze: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough of the milk to make a smooth, thick glaze. When the doughnuts are completely cool, pick them up with your lovely fingers and dip them into the glaze and let stand until glaze has set. For a thicker glaze, repeat .
These were tasty and not overly sweet. I think I might experiment with the recipe a bit, but this is a great base recipe and is quite easy to modify to fit your tastes and whatever you have on hand (e.g. buttermilk can be used in place of yogurt, applesauce can be used in lieu of oil, a flax egg to make them vegan, all-purpose flour can be used in place of whole grain, etc.). I’d really like to figure out how to ma these with stevia to cut down on the sugar content, and I think next time I might add some melted baking or bittersweet chocolate to make them taste a little richer. Different flavors for the glaze, shredded coconut or sprinkled toppings would also be good too!
I brought my camera to document the process, but forgot the CF card. D’oh! So the phone was the only thing around — sorry, peeps!

whaaa? all the ingredients together now!

we ran out of counter space, so...we used a footstool. shutup.

giving Vanna White a run for her money

still stirring....yogurt makes it thick!

scooping into a well-oiled pan...that long turd-like thing is a knife covered in batter, hah

tasty batter!

success!

These guys turn out pretty little, so I had more than my fair share of them. I ended up staying over at Laura’s that night so as not to get lost in the mega-storm of the century, and had a few alongside some coffee for breakfast in the morning. Delicious! :)

Yesterday I had a pretty decent day. I slept in, spent some time lounging around and reading in bed, went for a long and schwetty run (it’s sooo humid in Chicago!), then showered and met my friend Dan at Wicker Park Fest. I showed up kind of late because I didn’t want to deal with the crowds and the heat, but I did manage to see two great performances: Joe Pug (I love his name, hehe) and Blizten Trapper. Both bands were awesome — we had such a great time singing and dancing along. (I was standing directly to the right and behind the girl at the very front in the picture on Blitzen Trapper’s website…so bummed I didn’t make it into the shot!)

It was a neat evening.

Hope you’re all having a great Monday! I’m off to get some more work done. On the agenda tonight: finishing up my laundry (blegh), cleaning, making some Greek quinoa salad for lunches this week, and stopping by my friend’s open mic night to say hello. Catch ya later!

July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm 4 comments

Things not to do with donut holes

This is what I do with my Friday nights. Especially when hanging out with my best friend Laura.

Warning: if you don’t like dirty words and or inappropriate usage of kitchen tools, you may not want to watch this video. Over and out.

Untitled from Laura on Vimeo.

July 23, 2011 at 2:32 am 6 comments

Fire + ice

Good lord, has it been hot in Chicago lately. I have taken to wearing either next to nothing (while at home only, of course), or workout/wicking clothes most of the time because it’s literally like an oven outside this week. Yesterday’s heat-inspired outfit at least looked somewhat put-together:

I feel like my head looks awkwardly huge here…but yeah, that’s my new Lululemon CRB (cool racerback), a hat to cover up the major sweaties/greasies and some cool, comfy LOFT shorts. Flip flops were obviously worn as well.

This was worn as a work from home outfit, but my working was intended to be at the Caribou nearby. Unfortunately, I got there and paid for a drink before finding out that their WiFi wasn’t working! I feel like that is kind of a big deal for a coffee shop where people sit around and work, so I was pretty annoyed that they didn’t have some sort of sign up or something. Small potatoes, but still. Hmph.

I decided to just go back home and finish my work there. I had rented a Zipcar at 6 o’clock to run some errands, so I didn’t want to waste time walking around to another coffee shop when my apartment was much closer. Still though, I hate being cooped up inside all day. At least it was a good day to hide out in the AC.

It was also a beautiful night for colors in the sky.

Isn’t that incredible? I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it looked at dusk.

Even though I have AC in my apartment and it stays pretty cool because it’s so small, I haven’t wanted to use the oven at all — something about hot food or standing over a steamy pot just makes me want to gag. Tuesday night, I made an Amy’s frozen veggie lasagna that was actually really good. I can’t remember what I ate on the side, but it was some sort of vegetable….

The portion size seemed just right (enough to feel slightly indulgent and filling, but not too huge where it was overly filling or had too many calories). The veggie filling was also nicely bulked up, and while I would have preferred whole wheat pasta, the organic ingredient list was nice. I highly recommend it!

Last night, I went all cold and picked up some sesame tofu (marinated but I don’t think they were fried) from the Whole Foods prepared foods case. For some reason I don’t really like the way sesame oil smells, even though I like how it tastes, so the smell kind of put me off and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m so glad I tried it though — it was AMAZING!

(Sorry for all the crappy camera phone pics). I know this doesn’t look like much, but I promise it was delicious. If you see these, definitely give them a try! I also picked up a lemon-lime Zevia because I was craving soda. To continue with the no-cook theme, I made another massaged raw kale salad. This time, it was just kale, olive oil, sea salt, white balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. I topped it with grape tomatoes.

I love how easy this is to make, plus I feel like I’m eating superfood when I make it (I guess I am!). It’s perfect for hot nights.

So this morning, I finally got to see my doctor regarding the knee pain I’ve been experiencing. I’ve had knee problems for a long time, but they’ve never really interfered with my life like they have been doing lately. I know it’s in part due to my increased running, but I know that that’s just what intensified the problem, not what caused it.

I got up early to work from home for an hour or so, then headed out to see the doc before going into work. My doctor confirmed my suspicions in that it’s not my IT band and likely not my actual knee that’s causing the problem, but it’s actually “further upstream” in my hip. My right hip is tighter and slightly higher up than my left, causing a misalignment and subsequent knee pain. Some physical therapy focusing on hip stabilizing and strengthening, as well as strengthening my gluteus med muscles, should really help, so she wrote me a scrip. I can’t wait!

Doesn’t she have such nice handwriting for a doctor? I seriously love my doc — she is a D.O. as well as a licensed clinical social worker, and puts a lot of focus on holistic health, and always recommends natural and healthy alternatives like yoga, whole foods and natural supplements. Please let me know if you live in Chicago and would like a recommendation! I can’t speak highly enough about her!

When I got to work, I had not one, but two Amazon packages waiting for me. I seriously have a problem! I worry someone is going to nominate me for Hoarders soon…

One item was super-relevant to the doctor’s orders today.

She told me I need to be icing both sides of my knee for 15 minutes every day, twice a day (wow!) so I’m glad this came in the mail. I know I can use frozen peas, but it will be nice to have at least one “real” ice pack since I don’t have any. I still got a bunch of other stuff too though.

I know, I’m insane. Look at all those boxes! But I got some fun goodies, including:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book I’ve been wanting to read forever
  • A kitchen scale which will not only be useful for cooking/baking (weight is much more reliable than volume), but also occasional portion checking
  • A 4-pack of dark chocolate roasted almonds that were WAY cheaper than at the store. Can keep some at work for afternoon snacks, some in gym bag, some at home!
  • A (not pictured) locking glass shaker bottle that I will use for transporting smoothies!
  • Another fun surprise that will be revealed soon!

Love. Love love love love love. This is a clear case of the wild hair syndrome, but whatever – I know I will use all this stuff, and I am really jazzed about the new book. I’m also super excited that Mel offered to lend me her Hunger Games books! Thanks, Mel!! :)

Just for fun, here are a few more 5k pictures.

This was my post-race brunch:

Not sure if I remembered to mention the bacon in that brunch or not, haha.

cutie-pie Amy

Amy's face describes exactly how we felt at the end

anguish!

I am going to get back to work, but I hope you are all having a wonderful day and aren’t melting in this heat. I’m going to try to make it to the gym tonight as my knee is finally feeling a little better, but I’m still wary of busting it up even more. See ya!

July 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm 7 comments

Candy + My Second 5k

I wanted some candy the other day, so I busted out my candy bowl.

My kind of candy doesn’t look like most candy, though.

There is just something about a big bowl of fruit that makes me smile :D

Oh, hey — you know what else makes me happy? Did I mention I ran my second 5k on Saturday?

It was H-O-T outside that morning, oh my. The race started at 7:30 and it was already at least a good 80 degrees out. I ran with Amy again this time around, which again was such a wonderful part of the experience. We seem to be able to push each other at just the right times and in the right ways — she likes to go faster than I do, and I tend to take fewer breaks, so with that push and pull, we do better together than I think we would apart.

We pushed through the first mile without stopping, but needed a break soon after that because it was so hot out and we were both needing a break. There was an air quality alert over the whole weekend, so the air felt very thick and smoggy — blegh, not the best weather for running.

Thankfully this time around, I had a new tool in my arsenal…

please excuse the scary post-gym look I have goin' on

That’s right — I got a Garmin!!! I feel like a total poseur wearing this behemoth around, but it really motivates me to see my pace while I’m running, and pushes me to kick it up a notch when I slow down. It also really surprised me to see how fast I run when I’m on the road and not on the treadmill!

After working my way up to faster and longer runs for months and months at the gym, I can actually keep a pretty decent pace — for me, that is (I am in no way fast, and probably never will be). I had always thought I was much, much slower out on the road though, so it really surprised me to see that my pace wasn’t that far off when I took the Garmin out on its first run the other night. It’s still not as fast as I am on the treadmill, of course, and I need to take more frequent jogging or walking intervals, but I don’t suck as much as I thought I did! Who knew!

So back to the 5k — the Garmin helped keep us from taking off too quickly after our walking intervals, which was important because again — IT WAS HOT AS HELL OUTSIDE. There was a decent breeze, but the sun was really just beating down. The distance indicator was what really helped, because for whatever reason, there didn’t seem to be a 2 mile marker! When you’re new to doing races, that 2nd mile mark is a really important motivator.

Even though we stopped at the water station almost at the start of the second mile, Amy and I started to feel a little lightheaded and she even said she started to shiver by the end of the second mile, so we really had to step it down a notch which was somewhat disappointing to both of us. Before the race started we had both said we wanted to beat our last time, but would still be thrilled just to finish. At this point, we were both saying how glad we were that we hadn’t committed ourselves to beating the first time, haha.

A few walking breaks and lots of back-and-forth inspirational yelling, we got about halfway through the second mile and really started to slow down.

On a side note: Amy kept thinking I was saying, “You’re doing great” when I was actually saying “We’re doing great!” which cracked me up because had I said “you’re,” I think it would have sounded so condescending! If anything, she is a better runner than I am!

This was where the people started lining up along the course and were cheering us on, which as I explained after my last/first 5k, meant the world to me. I wanted to hop over and kiss them, I was so grateful!!

Unfortunately, there was also a huge soccer game or some sort of event going on, so at certain points around the course, we would pass a big tent of people grilling hot dogs and burgers. Seriously, guys — when you’re hauling your semi-out-of-shape ass through the last leg of your second ever race at 7:45 in the morning in 90 degree heat, the absolute last thing you want to smell is a friggin’ smoking piece of meat. I kind of wanted to vom.

I did, however, enjoy the smell of meat at SausageFest

When we finally got to 2.75 mi, we started to perk up again, and then — like magic, we passed a setup where a group of people were playing Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, and as we were passing them, we heard, “Go, go go go Johnny, go!” Amy and I both got huge grins on our faces and got ready to finish strong. Even though we were huffing and puffing and feeling like we were going to absolutely die, we ran our fastest to the finish line.

And then, we immediately collapsed onto the ground.

They had medical personnel ready at the finish because it was so hot, and they also had fan/misting stations and tons of water and ice waiting. Amy and I both said we felt like we might puke or pass out (not really, but kinda….), so we grabbed some water and just sat immediately to catch our breath. We must have really looked like we were in bad shape, because some guy ran over and asked if we were okay. We half panted, half answered him yes, but apparently didn’t sound very convincing, because he asked us again! Haha. Had I had the energy, I would have laughed, but all I could do was chug water and, you know..not die.

He offered to grab us popsicles, which we gladly accepted, so after he bolted in the other direction and returned shortly after with the 911-popsicles, we hoisted ourselves up and found some shade to cool off. Amy’s temporary roommate (who is from Paris!!! How neat!) was nice enough to come out and cheer us on, so she joined us for a popsicle and some post-race treats as well. The poor girl had to sit there and watch us pant like overheated dogs though! Hah.

Estelle, Amy and me

Aren’t our pink race shirts fun?

I still can’t believe how sweaty we were! Holy unflattering picture.

sweaty beasts

I am so, so glad I bought that visor last week; it really helped to keep both the sun and sweat out of my eyes, and it’s from my favorite brand — Mizuno!

We walked around for a bit and took in the post-race sights and goodies. I stopped at the New Balance tent where the guy on staff told me I desperately need physical therapy because my glute meds are insanely weak. He was super attractive and was sitting there telling me that my butt muscles were inadequate. This was sooo awkward.

When I finally got home around 10, I immediately hopped into an ice cold shower and rinsed off, then climbed into my bed and positioned myself directly next to the air conditioner. After sleeping for a good hour and 45 minutes, I climbed out of bed and made myself the perfect post-race treat: a Fitnessista Green-a-colada!

Into the blender went Fage 0%, unsweetened original PureAlmond, a stevia packet, unsweetened organic shredded coconut, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, vanilla SunWarrior and a big ol’ handful of spinach. It was so insanely tasty I could barely contain my delight. I totally slurped this bad boy down. What do you think of that color? Gross or delectable?

After some putzing around the apartment, I cleaned up a bit then met up with my sister-in-law Lisa and my friend Allison for brunch around noon. We hit up Jack’s on Halsted and I feasted on 2 poached eggs, a piece of whole wheat toast, some fruit and some breakfast potatoes. I also snuck a few of Allison’s fries, and treated myself with a victory mimosa :) I earned it!

Allison and I wandered around DSW for a bit after to escape the intense midday heat, and I walked outta there with two pairs of shoes! One was a pair of sandals that were on clearance that I have already worn three times. The other was a pair of Saucony running shoes that I thought were great in the store, but I realized after testing them on the treadmill that they don’t provide the cushioning/shock absorption I need on my forefoot, so they will have to be returned. I’m not at the point in my running yet where I can run in a minimalist shoe, so the bouncier, the better!

Because I am out of my mind, I went home, changed, and went to the gym! I had so much energy after the 5k and nap that I really wanted to hit the treadmill and do some body resistance exercises. Probably not the smartest choice, but oh well. I only did about two miles and kept it really leisurely on the recumbent bike while reading Redbook. The real magic happened when I did some glute med-isolating exercises, per Mr. Sexy New Balance Man’s instructions, and then some serious foam roller torture therapy. My IT band was obscenely tight, as were my hips, so I could tell it was desperately needed. I took my time and stretched after, and felt immensely better. I think that’s why I’m not really sore today.

Thankfully, this guy arrived in the mail while I was at work today:

That’s a Tiger Tail! I got one per Tina’s recommendation so I can foam roll in-between gym visits, and I’m so glad I did. It can’t quite match up to the giant foam rollers they have at the gym, but I just don’t have the space for one of those right now, so this works great. As a bonus, it works on my neck and shoulders, which feels like a great, deep-tissue massage!!

After the gym yesterday, I made a nourishing meal that my body was really craving.

Salmon! I defrosted a wild Alaskan salmon filet from Whole Foods while I was at the gym, then when I got back, I preheated the oven to 375 and heated up a skillet. After warming up some Pam spray, I seared both sides of the filet for about 30 seconds, then popped it into the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Before putting it into the oven, though, I crushed some black pepper and sea salt on both sides, then topped it with a simple lemon butter sauce:

  • 1T butter, melted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt + pepper
  • 1T honey
It was sooooo tasty. I used about half of the sauce before cooking, and put the rest on after. It made the salmon so flavorful and a little sweet, which really made it special.
The broccoli had some spritzed olive oil and a sprinkle of Pecorino cheese.

 

Well, this was a looong post and I need to get to bed and snuggle with a very impatient kitty. Keep your eyes peeled for a seriously sweet recipe on my next post…

Have a great night, and if you’re from Chicago, make sure to look at my Chicago Blogger Meetup post!

July 19, 2011 at 3:11 am 9 comments

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