I Am No Longer a Black Thumbed Vegan

FOOD

For the last day of VVC, I was only there for breakfast before I had to head to the airport.  Once again though, it was awesome!

this version had tacos and hashbrowns!  If I were smart, I would have put the hashbrowns in the taco...but the shells were just too small for that.  Plus a slice of toast with coconut butter spread and a slice of vegan cheese.
this taco version had tofu scramble and hash browns! If I were smart, I would have put the hash browns in the taco…but the shells were just too small for that. Plus a slice of toast with coconut butter spread and a slice of vegan cheese.

At the airport I had more time to kill than I planned, and stopped for a mimosa and olives.

a drink and my Surface.  A girl needs little else....
a drink and my Surface. A girl needs little else….
other than, perhaps, olives.  Life would've been complete if I had popcorn too....
other than, perhaps, olives. Life would’ve been complete if I had popcorn too….

Once I was home though, the big heavy meals had to end.  I realized that I usually have a very light breakfast – a smoothie – maybe a mid day small snack, and then lunch and dinner.  Well, at least lunch…but that’s a topic for another day where I psychoanalyze my overly hectic life and inability to always eat consistently.

Anywho….

Breakfast yesterday morning was a green smoothie in my new smoothie jar!

mint chocolate smoothie.  So Delicious coconut milk, banana, vanilla, spinach, and raw coco nibs.
mint chocolate smoothie. So Delicious coconut milk, banana, vanilla, spinach, and raw coco nibs.

Lunch was a taco baked potato.  Seriously, I love taking a baked potato and filling it with taco stuff.  In this case, it was black beans, vegan sour cream, and topped with hot sauce.

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Dinner was a salad with lettuce I GREW.  Yes, I yelled just there.  I’m growing things, and this is monumental.

fresh lettuce, clipped from my garden and into the spinner!
fresh lettuce, clipped from my garden and into the spinner!
freshly picked radishes to add to it
freshly picked radishes to add to it
turned it into a meal-salad by adding some cooked brown rice, arugula, tomatoes, and black beans.  Topped with a homemade strawberry dressing I made two weeks ago.
turned it into a meal-salad by adding some cooked brown rice, arugula, tomatoes, and black beans. Topped with a homemade strawberry dressing I made two weeks ago.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Directions

  • I feel silly here…but blend it.  Eat it.
really yummy salad dressing.  Olive oil, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard.
really yummy salad dressing. Olive oil, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

 

This morning I was in a rush, so after my morning java on the back porch, I noshed a banana on the way to work.  Thankfully, I stock my desk with emergency meal things, and had this oatmeal once I got there and ran into my morning meeting.

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It’s possible I was in a rush, because I actually made my lunch.  Another ginormous BAS (big ass salad, for new readers!), but this time using some homemade tangy soy yogurt and salsa as a dressing.

I also whipped up some tofu eggless salad, and made a sammich.  My favorite sammich, actually.  This version had sliced up silken tofu (the Mori-Nu in the sealed package, not the fridge version), so Just Mayo vegan mayo, yellow mustard, turmeric, diced white onion, and diced sweet pickle.  I didn’t measure, but it’s pretty straight forward to figure out.  Put on rye bread with tomato and lettuce.

all packed up!
all packed up!
BAS
BAS

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For dinner, I made slow cooker red beans for red beans and rice.  Stupid simple really.  Recipe is a family fav from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook, but in the slow cooker with half the water and no meat.  Easy peasy.

FITNESS

Well, it’s entirely possible I lost my running shoes.  Or perhaps I left them in my hotel room in Austin in order to make room in my tiny suitcase.  Yeah…that’s probably more likely.

Though in my defense, they’ve been dying a slow death, and in my last run in TX, the sole tore apart.  And I haven’t made it to the store to buy new ones.

I have done yoga and home workouts like boxing that don’t require shoes…

LIFE

Well, it’s been a crazy few days!  My last day in Austin was only a partial day because I had to catch my flight.  Even leaving early, I didn’t make it home until after 1 am my time on Monday morning!  Part of that was weather delays, and part just the drama of traveling.

The last pics of the fun stuff I got at VVC!

new buttons to feed my obsession!
new buttons to feed my obsession!

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Sights from the airport….

Texas is a very proud state.  Which I find commendable.  I do find it weird that they emblazon their state on everything though.  I saw Texas pasta, signs shaped like Texas everywhere I went, and so on.  These were at the shop at the airport.
Texas is a very proud state. Which I find commendable. I do find it weird that they emblazon their state on everything though. I saw Texas pasta, signs shaped like Texas everywhere I went, and so on. These were at the shop at the airport.
and so was this guy.  Sorry it's blurry, I was circling for a few minutes trying to figure out how to take his picture without being obvious.  He's a hipster cowboy!  Big had, handlebar mustache, big belt buckle (but of something kinda hippie), what looked like pajama pants, and cowboy boots.  I had a hard time not staring.  I've never seen one before :)
and so was this guy. Sorry it’s blurry, I was circling for a few minutes trying to figure out how to take his picture without being obvious. He’s a hipster cowboy! Big hat, handlebar mustache, big belt buckle (but of something kinda hippie), what looked like pajama pants, and cowboy boots. I had a hard time not staring. I’ve never seen one before 🙂

I got home, and M was still awake.  D had to work nights starting that night, so he was already gone.  He did turn down the bed though, and leave me this sweet note!

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Then I did some unpacking and the girls had a blast with that.

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Then it was work and busy, busy busy!  Lot’s of snuggly cats though.

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Ginny figured out how to stack her toys and play with both at the same time...
Ginny figured out how to stack her toys and play with both at the same time…

Perhaps even more exciting is seeing how much my garden has grown!  I tried once – about 14 years ago – to grow a garden, and it was a colossal failure.  This was pre-vegan days, and pre “wanting to be one with nature…but not get it on me” days. Well, I still don’t like nature on me so much, but I’ve really wanted a garden.

I’ve also never successfully kept a house plant alive, though I stopped trying about 15 years ago.  After all, dead plants give room character.

I’ve become obsessed with it, to where I inspect it several times per day and get totally excited about every little sprout and flower.

In the 3 days I was gone, I swear I was like a freaked out new mom.  Has anything new grown?  Look how big it’s gotten!  Like I left my newborn and missed her first word or something.

But alas, I digress.  The most important thing is that it’s growing!  Food is sprouting – heck, even harvested radishes already!  So now I am convinced that should civilization fall, I can still take care of myself and my family and grow food!

No longer will I be known as “she of the black thumb” and “the vegan who kills all plants”.

MY HOW MY GARDEN GROWS!!

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No morning pics yet this week.  R had an ortho appt today and yesterday she stayed home.  Perhaps the rest of the week!

 

 

Everyone Should Pop Up for Dinner!

Okay, this post is going to be exclusively about dinner last night.  Yes, it was that epic that it gets a whole post on it’s own!

I met Fran Costigan (@goodcakesfran) on the plane last Thursday on the way to Austin.  Immediately, it felt like we’d known each other for years.  I love it when that happens!

Anyway, she invited me to a pop up dinner that was held last night by a group called Supper Friends here in Austin.  It’s a multi-course plated dinner that’s served in a lovely place called the Swoop House.  They have rotating guest chef’s, and in honor of our vegan bloggers conference, the dynamic brother duo of Chef Chad Sarno (@chadsarno) and Derek Sarno (@wickedhealthy) were the hosts of last night’s Supper Friends.

Fran, Colleen (co-founder of VegNews magazine), and I uber’d it over to Swoop House to begin our dining adventure.

First – the location.  It’s a house in an older neighborhood that has been repurposed to be a pop-up dining location.  The grounds were gorgeous, and the inside was adorable as well.

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As soon as we walked in, we were each given a glass of white sangria and the canapés were passed around.

these were amazing!  There was a slight kick of heat to the jam that made these delicious.
these were amazing! There was a slight kick of heat to the jam that made these delicious.
another amazing dish that, from what I hear, tasted just like lox - but made from carrots.  Genius.
another amazing dish that, from what I hear, tasted just like lox – but made from carrots. Genius.
this blintze was also divine.  And I have to say, incredibly cute in it's tininess.
this blintze was also divine. And I have to say, incredibly cute in it’s tininess.

After hors d’oeuvres were served, we were all invited to find our way to our assigned seats to begin the meal.

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my seat!
my seat!
the menu
the menu
I met this very lovely woman - Whitney - who works for Miyoko's Kitchen.  She's from the same hometown as D, so that was a fun conversation!
I met this very lovely woman – Whitney – who works for Miyoko’s Kitchen. She’s from the same hometown as D, so that was a fun conversation!

The first course came out, and it was simply amazing.  Called Golden Beets, it was beets three ways with a merlot gel, candied pecans, grapefruit, vegan cheese and horseradish.

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The second course came out, which was a Ricotta & Tomato dish paired with a 2012 Sangiovese wine from Italy.

Again, a totally perfect dish.  The tomato confit with leeks and the crispy bread was so luscious.  And the ricotta spread and the dehydrated tomato slice just made all this excellent.
Again, a totally perfect dish. The tomato confit with leeks and the crispy bread was so luscious. And the ricotta spread and the dehydrated tomato slice just made all this excellent.

The third course was called Wicked Nicoise.  I think this may have been the most talked about, because Chef’s Chad and Derek managed to make something that looked and tasted like a hardboiled egg – from tofu and potato!  The olive dirt on the bottom (which isn’t dirt, by the way!), green beans, and mustard seed vinaigrette made this so perfect.  It was paired with a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.

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The fourth course was my favorite!  A Spring Ravioli stuffed with spring peas fava beans, mint, and other herbs, with a sherry parmesan cream sauce.  It’s one of those dishes that feels creamy and indulgent – but not heavy.  Which was really the whole meal, now that I think about it!  It was paired with a 2012 Seven Hills Riesling.

I have to learn how to make this!
I have to learn how to make this!

The fifth course was a King Scalloped Mushroom.  It was served with asparagus, corona beans, and sorrel pesto.  It was paired with a very yummy 2012 Pinot Noir.

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The final dessert dish – called Drunk Fruit – was also completely life altering in it’s yumminess.  An amaretto gelato with berries, melon, fennel, white balsamic and pistachio.  Paired with a 2012 Moscato.

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So that was the food!  The company was also completely amazing, and I admit to feeling star struck more than a few times.  At my table, aside from Fran, Colleen, and Whitney, was Miyoko Schinner – who revolutionized vegan cheese.  Here’s a link to her three books if you’re interested.  I can tell you that I’ve EATEN her cheese all week, and you should be interested!  (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mikoyo+schinner&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Amikoyo+schinner).  She also started Miyoko’s Kitchen, a wonderful vegan business that is making and marketing vegan cheeses to establishments and groceries.  I’m hoping it’ll be at a Whole Foods near me very, very soon!

Oh, and there was Ellen Kanner, author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost, Allison from Seed Food and Wine in Miami, Betsy from Delicious TV and Vegan Mash-Up.  I also got to talk to the lovely couple behind Olives for Dinner.

Of course, I had to get a picture with the Chef’s!  I tried to convince Chad to move to Virginia, but I don’t think he’s interested.  He has an culinary course that I just may have to take!

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watching them work with such focus was a great addition to the dining experience.
watching them work with such focus was a great addition to the dining experience.

After dinner, it was an Uber ride back to the hotel with Fran and Colleen, and a lovely feeling of having one of the most satisfying meals of my life.  So yea.  GREAT time!  This was my first pop-up dinner experience, but hopefully not my last!

Veganism, Activism, Food, and Having a Famous Daughter

FOOD

I believe I warned you all in my post yesterday.  I have food pics.  Lot’s of food pics.  Mainly because I’ve had lots of great food!

I admit that the food gluttony didn’t start until later in the day yesterday than planned.  After my run, I grabbed a banana at the hotel, and had intentions of grabbing a light lunch in the University of Texas – Austin area (which is where I’m staying).  Long story, but that didn’t happen.

BUT…that’s not to say I starved all day.  In fact….this happened…

I hit up Whole Foods to grab a bite.  Sadly, the pho was flavorless (no pic), but this...this was brilliant.
I hit up Whole Foods to grab a bite. Sadly, the pho was flavorless (no pic), but this…this was brilliant.
there were several food trucks at the Vida Vegan Con Bazaar.  I didn't get anything, but I was tempted by the vegan corn dog!
there were several food trucks at the Vida Vegan Con Bazaar. I didn’t get anything, but I was tempted by the vegan corn dog!
Arlo's - which I also didn't partake of, but heard was awesome.
Arlo’s – which I also didn’t partake of, but heard was awesome.
yet another food truck that I didn't get anything from....but it sounded great.
yet another food truck that I didn’t get anything from….but it sounded great.
I DID, however, eat here!  The Vegan Nom is a very vegan-famous taco place here in Austin, and I just had to have one.  This is the Jalisco.  I could eat it every day!
I DID, however, eat here! The Vegan Nom is a very vegan-famous taco place here in Austin, and I just had to have one. This is the Jalisco. I could eat it every day!

And then there was today!  Both breakfast and lunch were buffets as the conference – but make no mistake.  I hear “buffet”, and I picture Golden Corral or some cafeteria type place.  These buffets were ridiculous.  And I mean that in the best possible way.

this was my plate - though I wish I had snapped a shot of the spread.  Breakfast taco with chorizo, tofu, black beans, and yummy toppings.  And potatoes and a slice of toast with Earth Balance coconut spread and a slice of vegan cheese.
this was my plate – though I wish I had snapped a shot of the spread. Breakfast taco with chorizo, tofu, black beans, and yummy toppings. And potatoes and a slice of toast with Earth Balance coconut spread and a slice of vegan cheese.
lunch was this crazy deconstructed bowl line - can't even describe all the ingredients, but mine had kale, spinach, brown rice, quinoa, kale chips, roasted chickpeas, roasted cauliflowers, and a creamy ranch sauce.  my most epic BAS in a long time. I also double fisted the desserts.  Coconut panna cotta with toasted quinoa and spicy pineapple, and a blood orange tapioca with crispy ginger.  Freaking ridiculous.
lunch was this crazy deconstructed bowl line – can’t even describe all the ingredients, but mine had kale, spinach, brown rice, quinoa, kale chips, roasted chickpeas, roasted cauliflowers, coconut bacon, and a creamy ranch sauce. my most epic BAS in a long time. I also double fisted the desserts. Coconut panna cotta with toasted quinoa and spicy pineapple, and a blood orange tapioca with crispy ginger. Freaking ridiculous.

I’m going to dedicate a separate post to dinner tonight since I’m going to a supper club hosted by Chef Chad Sarno and his brother.  Should be pretty freaking amazing.  Or freaking ridiculous, since that appears to be the word of the day.

FITNESS

After my run yesterday, I showered and cleaned up, and it was still too early for lunch.  So…I decided to go for a walk around the University and kill time.  Then I decided I wanted to walk to Whole Foods.

In the end, I walked 8 miles AFTER my morning run.  Yeah, no guilt in that last taco I ate 🙂

random sighting on my walk.
random sighting on my walk.

This morning when I woke up my hips and calf muscles were tight – I’m assuming from the hills!  I opted for a half hour of yoga in my hotel room before getting ready for the day.

LIFE

I learned that Whole Foods originated right here in Austin, TX, so I just HAD to go see the mother ship!  She was beautiful.

seriously, there were multiple restaurants and bar areas INSIDE.  I want one...
seriously, there were multiple restaurants and bar areas INSIDE. I want one…

Then it was off to the Marchesa Hall & Theater for the Vegan Bazaar.  It was open to the public, which was really awesome.  There were the food tucks, of course, but also vendors galore as well as tables for various animal activist groups.  It was awesome (aka, ridiculous).  I personally picked up a t-shirt from the Compassion Co, a tank from Herbivore Clothing, a mason jar smoothie thing from Meaningful Paws, some stickers and buttons (I LOVE buttons), and this gorgeous bag for my daughter A from Cykochik.

one of the vendor tables!
one of the vendor tables!
my new t's!
my new t’s and smoothie/juice jar!
bag for A!  It's called Love Bunnies.
bag for A! It’s called Love Bunnies.

There were also many great speakers and demos, including a great one from Fran Costigan that I really enjoyed.

As for today – today was the first full official day, and it was amazing (or ridiculous!).  Both yesterday and today, I got to connect with new and familiar faces alike.  I’m planning to do a recap post with links to all these great people, so I encourage you to check them out when I do.

the selfie I sent to D since I can't see him today.  Clearly excited, right?!
the selfie I sent to D since I can’t see him today. Clearly excited, right?!
the conference Swag Bag of Wonder!  Conferences where you get tons of free food and fun stuff is excellent.
the conference Swag Bag of Wonder! Conferences where you get tons of free food and fun stuff is excellent.

Breakfast was with Amey from Vegan Eats & Treats, and her wonderful mom!  Her mom and I had a long and delightful conversation about healthcare.  She’s been in women’s health her whole career, and is heavily involved in the Santa Cruz community.  She shared some amazing programs they have launched, and it was just an amazing time.

I had a similar conversation with Jessica from Sprouts & Chocolate.  Totally delightful.

These conversations were revolutionary to me.  In vegan circles there is certainly a LOT of conversations about health.  Typically those I’ve heard or been involved with are related to personal health.  My personal passion (other than veganism of course!) is in global health – and I loved finding and talking to so many people who were interested or engaged in the state of healthcare affairs in their communities – who are interested in making a difference on the policy side as much as within their own lives.

I took a break and sat outside to type out some of my session notes!

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In order to not write a total novel, I will recap the sessions in future posts after I’ve had a chance to distill some of the messages and what they mean to me – and not just ramble on and on.

So summarize this post, it’s been another remarkable, enlightening, and inspiring day at Vida Vegan Con Austin!

And of course on the home front…pictures!

All weekend long, I’ve had people come up to me and tell me how much they love the morning pictures – how it’s the first thing they see in the morning.  Amey told her mom how much R smiles now that she has braces and how adorable they are.  How the love they have just shines through each picture.  I told R today that she’s famous, and that everyone looks forward to her and her dad’s pics every day.  Then I told D that I needed a morning pic, even though it was a weekend.  I didn’t want to fend off a mob of people looking for one!

So, here’s today’s morningpic!  Right after R woke up.

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And a selfie of D in the pool!

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And my first harvest!  A radish – that grew this big from a seed 6 weeks ago!  Caterpillars have decimated the leaves, so D pulled one.  Said it was spicy and awesome!  Can’t wait to get home and eat these bad boys.

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Pinch Me. I’m in Vegan Heaven!

FOOD

Okay, I will start off by saying I’m at a vegan bloggers conference, so buckle up for a couple of days of me drooling over all the vegan eats that other people make!

Until then, here’s some highlights from my week!

my son had a Memorial Day pool party, so it was typically picnic fare.  Veggie burger and a cold spicy rice salad for me!
my son had a Memorial Day pool party, so it was typically picnic fare. Veggie burger and a cold spicy rice salad for me!
I absolutely love watermelon and this time of year makes me so happy :)
I absolutely love watermelon and this time of year makes me so happy 🙂
more watermelon snacks!
more watermelon snacks!
Wednesday was a two Tofurky Kielbasa kinda night.  I was so stuffed, but it was great.
Wednesday was a two Tofurky Kielbasa kinda night. I was so stuffed, but it was great.

On my way to the airport yesterday, I stopped at Tropical Smoothie Café for a breakfast smoothie.  Pomegranate plunge + greens is my current obsession.

Not long after arriving in Austin, it was off to the Vida Vegan Con meet up at Buzz Kill!  I had a chicken salad wrap (vegan, of course), very berry lemonade (it claims there was vodka in it, but I’m not so sure!), cookies and cream coconut ice cream, and a beer.

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FITNESS

The only day this week I’ve missed a run was yesterday, and that was due to travels.

I mostly run in my neighborhood, but actually went to Oak Grove Park on Wednesday.  I was going for a longer run in the heat of the day, so I really wanted the shade I can find there.  It was a nice change of pace.

I have to say, I’m loving the new house and pool.  Nothing like jumping in and floating about after a sweaty run!

Today I ran near my hotel in Austin, TX.  The weather is similar to VA, so the hot and muggy doesn’t bother me, but holy crap, the hills!!!  I’m so not used to them, and my pace suffered.  I’m sure my legs will be angry too.  I may end up on the hotel treadmill tomorrow!

post Texas run!
post Texas run!

Other than that, I’ve done a few bodyweight workouts from my Microsoft band.  Squats, crunches, things like that.

LIFE

On the work front, it’s been a short week.  Monday was a holiday, and I am on a mini vacation Thursday and Friday!  So no complaints there.

had a late conf call with someone on the west coast - I was already home for the evening, so this was my "office" - the outdoor screened in deck!
had a late conf call with someone on the west coast – I was already home for the evening, so this was my “office” – the outdoor screened in deck!

M had a gaggle of people over on Monday to swim and hang out, and R had a couple friend over as well to swim and play video games.  A went out with friends, so all told, very nice Memorial Day.

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We’ve all gone swimming most days – especially R.  D got home from work on Tuesday and found her like this…

Then it was off t0 the third and final Vida Vegan Con – vegan bloggers conference – in Austin, Texas.  It’s only been one day, and already it’s been so memorable.

I had just boarded my flight from Atlanta to Austin when Fran Costigan (http://www.francostigan.com/) tweeted to see what other VVC people were on board!  I replied I was, and we met up at baggage claim and shared a cap to our hotel.

About a half hour later, I went up to her room, and her room mate is none other than Terry Hope Romero (http://veganlatina.com/)!  I have so many of her books, and she’s like this vegan punk rock cookbook goddess.  And she hugged me.  I tried very hard not to geek out (but failed).

Fran and I cabbed it to the pre-conference meet up, where I got to see and meet SO many people – new friends and old, it’s impossible to list them all.  But here are a few 🙂

JL from JL Goes Vegan 

Demetrius – vegan extraordinaire and producer of the amazing film Vegucated

Dan – one half of the blogging duo The Gay Vegans, who I just couldn’t stop hugging.

Brit – goofball vegan from Seattle (that peer pressured me into eating ice cream.  Really, it was her fault).

Chad Sarno – famous vegan chef…bought me a beer and I was again having one of those “pinch me” moments.

Dianne and Jenna from New Jersey (http://www.diannewenz.com and http://good-good-things.com).

Not to mention a whole ton of other people, and despite the storms and dreary weather when I arrived, it ended up being a wonderfully sunny and hot evening.

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So yeah – now it’s day 2 of 4, and I can’t wait for all the fun this afternoon and evening will bring!

Of course I cannot sign off without the latest #morningpictures.  It was cute how many people last night commented on them 🙂

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