Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friends and Followers

It's been a good weekend, a nice mix of relaxation and activity. Yesterday was Scott's 29th birthday (happy birthday to my favorite guy!), so we celebrated by having dinner at Gibson's on Friday night with his family and then going to the Bulls game with a whole group of friends last night.  Throughout the weekend, I got to catch up with lots of people - my work ladies during happy hour on Friday, Scott's family, our Chicago crew, and a few Notre Dame friends.

I drank wine, ate delicious food (steak/twice-baked potato/carrot cake, homemade blueberry-banana pancakes, beers/hot dog/nachos, quiche/french toast/latte at brunch, BBQ chicken pizza), wrote the beginning of my fiction story for my writing workshop, read some of a book for fun, went for a long walk with a friend, attended Mass, got a much-needed good night's sleep.  (Clearly, I love food....)

The bottom line is that I realized how happy I am when I get to spend time with people - to catch up, laugh, eat, and just generally have a good time.  And while I can't be with my family very often, I really treasure my time with them.  (So good to see my sister A last week!  And I can't wait to see my two youngest sisters next weekend, J & J!  Then the rest of the fam in March...)

Through blogging the last almost-six months, I have also developed new relationships via my blog.  I have reconnected with wonderful people in my past, as well as "met" new connections.  I have been pleasantly surprised when others tell me they have learned or tried something new after reading my blog.  Reaching out with my writing and my life, sharing what I love to do and the small things that inspire me, has only expanded my community and brought me even more inspiration.

I know there are a few of you who enjoy reading my blog but have not yet said "hello" :)  I would love to hear from you - whether it's your first visit or fiftieth!  Please drop me a note in the comments section (choose a profile in the drop-down if you have one, or just select Name/URL and type in your name... don't forget to "validate" by entering a code if it requests one!).  Or join as a follower of Inspiration and Rough Drafts.  From my own experience, I have found that being a participatory part of the blogging world really makes an impact on other bloggers, readers, and contributors.  It only builds the "conversation" to be more robust and helpful to all.

Thank you to my readers and fellow bloggers for support and inspiration... There is much more to come!

The girls enjoying July 4th in Chicago (2010)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crazy-Good Turkey Taco Meatloaf

Yes, meatloaf... and it is crazy-good.  While at the grocery store this weekend, we came across ground turkey on sale, and I was inspired to make this Turkey Taco Meatloaf from the Hungry Girl cookbook.  (I love southwestern-style flavors, if you can't tell.)  Although I hadn't made it in awhile, I guessed the ingredients from memory... so it's definitely easy.  Oh, and I even made it after the disappointing Bears loss and a few beers.... so it is really fool-proof.

Like all recipes from Hungry Girl, this meatloaf is also a healthier version of the real deal with plenty of flavor.  Even if you eat multiple servings (and for a full meal, you probably will and should), you won't need to feel guilty.  Plus, it's a nice sneaky way to incorporate more veggies into your diet - one of my not-set-in-stone New Year's resolutions.  I haven't tried it, but I bet you could sub in any type of veggies, black beans, etc.

Crazy-Good Turkey Taco Meatloaf

1 pound raw extra-lean ground turkey
2 slices fat-free cheddar cheese (since I used a 9x9 pan instead of a loaf pan, I needed three pieces... and I used American cheese because it melts sooo nicely, even if it's not uber-healthy)
1/2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix, dry
(To be honest, I estimated all the above ingredients and it still turned out great!  No need to be exact...)

Salsa not pictured
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook peppers and onions for 3 minutes over medium heat in a pan sprayed with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine onions and peppers with turkey, corn, and seasoning mix.  Spread half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray (a loaf pan would be about 9'' by 5''... or in my case, use what you've got... a 9x9 pan and cook it up to 15 minutes less since it is not nearly as thick).

Layer two slices of fat-free cheese on top of the mixture (try to keep slices away from the pan's edges).  Evenly top with the remaining meat mixture.

Pour the salsa over the top of the loaf.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Top loaf with shredded cheese (which I accidentally did before cooking, as shown above, but it still turned out well).  Return loaf to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.

Makes 6 servings (technically...)
Per serving (1/6th of loaf) if prepared as original recipe: 127 calories, 1 g fat, 688 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 22 g protein

It may not look pretty, but it was delicious.  Scott was a fan too!  Let's just say there was not much left as far as leftovers.

Now I am off to yoga and fiction writing for the rest of the evening... hope everyone is staying warm!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

From Antique Printer Tray to Pretty Jewelry Display

Repurposing and finding new uses for old things is super creative.  Not only can you solve a problem, get yourself organized, recycle something, show off a bit of history... you can also end up with a very pretty finished product.

In the case of this project, which transforms an antique printer tray into a jewelry display, I really fell for the history of the original piece and the beauty of the end result.  The creative mind and talented hands behind this project belong to Yoko, the owner of Lucy & Larry and a friend of mine from college (we share many a memory from living in the same dorm, attending business and marketing classes, and working on group projects together!)

Take a peek at her awesome "before" and "after"... and then pop over to her blog for the step-by-step details.

With my love of all things publishing, as well as my appreciation for antiques, I really enjoyed her fun fact about printer trays:

Printer trays were used between 1890-1960 to hold the various pieces of an alphabet set... these trays were organized in font families and stored in vertical racks - which is where the terms "upper case" and "lower case" came from.

Yoko also recently started her own jewelry collection.  When I asked her about how she got started, she gave me the scoop.  I think when it comes to a topic someone is passionate about, it's always best to hear it in her own words:
You know when you are looking for the perfect necklace or set of earrings to go with an outfit, then you come back defeated after an afternoon of shopping because you just couldn't find what you had in mind?  I got sick of that and decided to take matters into my own hands. I got started on my own, relying on books and online tutorials, then luckily I discovered a coworker who has been making her own jewelry for years. She sat down with me after work one evening for a few hours and really helped me nail the basics.
Now that I actually knew what I was doing, I was hooked!  Once I made a few items for myself, I started making jewelry as gifts, and then I got to the point where I was making things just to make them, because it was fun.  A year and half later, at the rate I was going, I knew it was time for me to open up an Etsy shop. I'm still keeping my day job! I'm just looking to sell a few pieces every now and then to help fund my hobby. If anyone wants to keep tabs on me, they can do so at I hope to launch by February 1!
She has a whole gallery of gorgeous jewelry on the site, but here are a few of my favorite Lucy & Larry creations...

A bride on her wedding day - photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography

Back of the bride's necklace - photo by Melissa Regan

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing as an Expression of Life

While I was home for Christmas, I read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.  It's a classic writing book, full of advice and encouragement.  I know I've shared a couple posts about writing lately, but I have found that many of these ideas can apply to life in general and can provide inspiration for other non-writing areas.

Here are 10 quick quotes from Writing Down the Bones to give you a boost of energy and motivation, to push you to do what you want to do most.  These words definitely inspire me...

* Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things.  Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot.  And don't think too much.  Just enter the heat of the words and sounds and colored sensations and keep your pen moving across the page.

* Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write.  In the middle of the world, make one positive step.  In the center of chaos, make one definitive act.  Just write.  Say yes, stay alive, be awake.  Just write.  Just write.  Just write.  Finally, there is no perfection.  If you want to write, you have to cut through and write.  There is no perfect atmosphere, notebook, pen, or desk, so train yourself to be flexible.

* Writers write about things that other people don't pay much attention to....  A writer's job is to make the ordinary come alive, to awaken ourselves to the specialness of simply being.

* When you bake a cake, you have ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda, eggs, milk.  You put them in a bowl and mix them up, but this does not make a cake.  This makes goop.  You have to put them in the oven and add heat or energy to transform it into a cake, and the cake looks nothing like its original ingredients...  In a sense this is what writing is like.  You have all these ingredients, the details of your life, but just to list them is not enough.

* You can't straighten up during writing and then hunch back down when you let go of the pen.  Writing can teach us the dignity of speaking the truth, and it spreads out from the page into all of our life, and it should.  Otherwise, there is too much of a schism between who we are as writers and how we live our daily lives.  That is the challenge: to let writing teach us about life and life about writing.  Let it flow back and forth.

* So even though life is not always so clear, it is good to express yourself in clear, affirmative statements.  "This is how I think and feel."  "This is who I am in this moment."  It takes practice, but it is very rewarding.

* The writing process is a constant source of life and vitality.

* Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say.  Go a little further.  Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.  Probably that's why we decide we're done.  It's getting too scary.  We are touching down onto something real.  It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.

* Let go completely.  Let yourself totally be a writer from now on.

* In knowing who you are and writing from it, you will help the world by giving it understanding.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Classes and Community

Busy week with school and work picking up the pace... plus I'm trying to actually use my gym membership a bit.  I just have a quick tip for any of you who have resolved to write more or improve your writing this year.

A few years ago, way before I started my master's program, I found myself itching for a little writing instruction and academic thinking.  After a couple online searches, I discovered StoryStudio, a wonderful organization here in Chicago that offers tons of writing classes and other events, such as Write-a-Thons and seminars. 

I tried a one-night workshop to test the waters before signing up for Creative Writing I and Freelance Magazine Writing.  More recently, I attended a great Saturday session with a literary agent who explained the whole book publishing process to our group of about 20 people.  It was fascinating... and I came away from the event informed and inspired.  (If you want to learn more about how StoryStudio began, here's the full background story, straight from the founder and director!)

The studio has grown a bunch over the last couple years, and new classes are beginning next week as well as later this month.  Check out StoryStudio if you want to explore the writing world and establish a commitment, whether it is for a one-night workshop or an 8-week class.  Though the cost can seem steep, it is a good investment and less than the cost of a graduate school course (plus putting down the money will give you another reason to stay committed to class!). The enthusiasm and passion of the instructors and other students will definitely boost your own spirits... and your writing skills.

Here's a rundown of upcoming classes, pulled from the StoryStudio e-newsletter I received today:

One-Nighters Next Week:
Jumpstart your semester with a night of writing! You non-fiction folks should go with Writing Your Life (Tuesday, Jan 18 -- register by Friday!) and fiction people should head for Starting the Story (Wednesday, Jan 19 -- register by next Monday!)

Eight Week Classes Coming Up: 
Beginning Monday, January 24 (sign up by next Wednesday)
Creative Writing Fundamentals
Craft of Personal Narrative
Craft of Short Story

Beginning Tuesday, January 25 (sign up by next Wednesday)
Craft of Writing for Children & Young Adults
Craft of Novel Writing
Creative Writing I

Beginning Wednesday, January 26 (sign up by next Friday) 
Novel Workshop
Short Story Workshop

Beginning Thursday, January 27 (sign up by next Friday) 
Business of Freelancing (6-week)
Personal Essay Workshop

Classes That Only Have a Few Spots Left (So You Should Probably Register Today)  
Craft of Freelance Writing
Fiction I 
Craft of Novel Writing

StoryStudio is also hosting a Write-a-Thon this coming Saturday, January 15, from 9 am to 7 pm (for a small admission fee).  Stop by anytime to take advantage of this great space and work on your writing for as long as you like. Happy writing!

*I am not receiving anything from StoryStudio for this post... I am simply a supportive, satisfied customer and love to encourage others to write!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Make a Change - It's All In Your Head

I may be a goal-oriented person, but the thought of New Year's resolutions intimidates me.  Maybe it's because I'm a perfectionist and I know that most resolutions are broken almost immediately.  Personally I think the reason people (myself included) cheat on their resolutions is that they make goals that are too extreme or don't fit into their lifestyle.  Making a change or breaking a habit can take some time, a few attempts and failures, before reaching success.

This week, I came across a couple articles involving the mindset behind making changes...

"The If-Then Solution" by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.
January/February issue of Psychology Today (a fascinating magazine!)

Halvorson recommends making a plan using the "if-then" technique, which helped her meet her goal of exercising three times a week in 2010.  An if-then equation makes your resolution specific and helps you build good habits.  Simply structure your statement:

"If X happens, then I will do Y.  X can be a time and place, like Monday at 9 A.M., or it can be an event, like the arrival of the dessert menu at a restaurant.  Y is the specific action you will take whenever X occurs."

The great news is that people who employ this technique are two to three times more likely to succeed than those who don't.  And it works for all kinds of goals and behaviors, not just exercising or eating right.

Why does it work?  First, our brains are wired to think in the "if-then" sequence since we use it all the time to unconsciously guide our behavior, so when we set up an "if-then" plan, the situation (X) and the action (Y) become linked in our minds.  Secondly, that X situation becomes "highlighted" in our minds, so without even being aware, our brains are "looking for" X to happen and Y can then follow automatically.  With this process, we don't have to use a ton of willpower and self-control since we have already decided what action to take in a certain situation.

If you want to read more, Halvorson talks about this topic in a recent blog post.

"Nurture the New You" by Kelly McGonigal
February issue of Yoga Journal

In reading this piece, I learned that using self-compassion, rather than berating yourself, can be more effective in changing one's behavior.  As the article states,

"... Self-transformation doesn't happen overnight, but you can overcome negative patterns one step at a time.  If you are gentle with yourself and accept your setbacks with compassion, you can change your life for the better."

When I don't check everything off my to-do list, or when I don't eat well or go to bed early enough, I usually get mad at myself internally.  This article says those negative internal thoughts indicate that I am mixing up my behavior with who I am, blaming myself or putting myself down rather than seeing that behavior simply as a pattern or habit I want to change.  Just because I act on a negative habit or don't complete a goal doesn't mean I am a bad person.  In the studies referenced in the article, people who were more self-compassionate "were less upset by failures and less likely to obsess about them.  They were less defensive and more willing to take responsibility for the outcomes."

I loved this part of the article: "When you're self-critical, you treat yourself in ways you would never want to treat someone you love: beating yourself up for every imperfection, punishing yourself for any weakness, and discouraging yourself from going after what you really want.  Self-compassion provides the supportive emotional environment necessary for change. ...Without the usual guilt, shame, and self-doubt, you can look at yourself clearly, make conscious choices, and take the right steps."

So how do you cultivate self-compassion?  When you find yourself thinking negatively, replace the thought with something positive.  Start viewing your behaviors as something you do, not a part of yourself that you need to "fix."  And when you slip up, don't criticize youself and let it spiral into giving up completely.  Instead, acknowledge how you can change your behavior in the future.  Take responsibility and then take care of yourself.  Self-compassion will give you the strength you need.

Monday, January 3, 2011

20 (Moderately) Healthy Foods I Love

I love food way too much to go on a crazy restrictive diet.  Instead, I look for tasty and convenient items that are moderately healthy.  It's all about lots of flavor and quick prep/portability.

Since it's too easy to get into a food rut... which is super boring and causes me to dive into my favorite food groups (cheese and chocolate)... I like to refresh my menu line-up with ideas from family, friends, websites or magazines.

In an effort to share some suggestions (hey, aren't we all attempting to be a little healthier in the new year?), I thought I'd give you all a peek inside my pantry... and fridge and freezer.  Here are twenty of my top "moderately healthy" foods (in no particular order):

1) Del Monte Fruit Naturals - Pineapple or Red Grapefruit

2) Activia Light Yogurt - Vanilla

3) Sabra Hummus - Roasted Pine Nut

4) Lipton Diet Green Tea - Citrus
*A huge favorite of my sisters and mom!

5) Frontera salsa - Corn & Poblano

6) Frank's RedHot sauce
*Great on chicken!

7) Edy's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy ice cream
*Single-serving cartons are 150 calories each!  (Other good treats to satiate a sweet tooth: fat-free Fig Newtons and sugar-free chocolate pudding cups...)

8) MorningStar Farms veggie burgers
*My favorites are the Chik Patties, Spicy Black Bean Burger, and Grillers Prime (despite the photographic evidence, I do not enjoy Grillers Chik'n - accidentally grabbed the wrong box!)

9) Birds Eye Steamfresh packs - broccoli, green beans, peas... even roasted potatoes
*Only takes a few minutes in the microwave

10) Eggo Nutri-Grain waffles

11) Any brand of mini whole-wheat bagels
*I freeze them so they don't go bad before I get a chance to eat them all.

12) Jennie-O Turkey Meatballs

13) Swiss Miss hot chocolate
*For chocolate cravings!

14) Crystal Light Lemonade

15) Reduced Fat Wheat Thins

16) Any brand fiber chewy bars (especially peanut butter flavored ones)

17) Tuna in water
*I like to toss tuna into pasta or mac & cheese with some veggies, or I mix it up with some low-fat mayo on toast with melted cheese for a tuna melt.

18) Uncle Ben's Ready Whole Grain Medley - Santa Fe or Vegetable Harvest
*90 seconds in the microwave (can you tell I like my microwave?)

19) Frosted Mini-Wheats
*Gotta have a little frosting with my shredded wheat!

20) Baked Cheetos
*I can't give up my junk food and I'm not a huge fan of "baked" chips... but these actually taste like the real thing - maybe even better!

What are your favorite "healthy" snacks?  As I continue to strive for balance and moderation, I'd love to incorporate a few new foods into my pantry, fridge or freezer.  Any recommendations?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our New Year's Eve Celebration

On New Year's eve, my initial countdown consisted of watching the hours and minutes until 9 pm... when guests would arrive at our condo.  It was a busy day and a very fun night!  I was really excited to try out some new recipes as well as mix up some family classics.

Friday, December 31, 2010

10:30 am - Put away Christmas decorations, dispose of our bone-dry, needle-shedding tree, and build my menu of recipes and grocery list.

7 Layer Mexican Dip
Won Ton Appetizer
Italian Appetizer Bites
Tortilla Rollups
Cheeseball (plus other cheese and crackers)
Chex Muddy Buddies/Puppy Chow
Giant Cupcake Cake
Veggies and Dip (store-bought platter with spinach dip)

12:30 pm - Grocery shopping (with the usual stop by Starbucks along the way!)
1:30 pm - Lunch

2 pm - Giant Cupcake

Scott's parents gave me this fun cake mold for my birthday, so I decided to start off by getting the cake into the oven so I could assemble and ice it later (stay tuned for that part!).  The mold instructions call for typical cake batter, and I decided to get creative with chocolate cake for the base and white cake for the top.  I also used the insert piece which gives the base an indention, which can then be filled with any type of filling (in my case, more icing!).

2:20 pm - 7 Layer Mexican Dip (from my mom's recipe collection)

1 can refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
#1) 1 carton guacamole
#2) 1 8-ounce sour cream
#3) 1 chopped onion
#4) 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
#5) 1 chopped tomato or jar or chunky salsa, drained (I used salsa)
#6) 1 small can green chilies, drained
#7) 1 bag of grated cheese (I used Mexican cheese but you can use any type)

Mix together the refried beans and taco seasoning.  Spread into bottom of a clear bowl (it's fun to see the layers from the side).  Layer the rest of the ingredients in order and serve with tortilla chips.

2:50 pm - Cheeseball

I already posted this recipe here, but this time I sprinkled some chopped pecans on top.  The cheeseball was a hit at the party!

3:10 pm - Tortilla Rollups (another recipe from my mom's collection)

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
Salsa to taste
1 small can green chilies, drained
Green onion (I used a couple stalks)
12 ounces shredded cheese (I just used one bag)
8 flour tortillas

Mix all ingredients.  Spread mixture over each tortilla.  Roll up jelly-roll style.  Chill, cut and serve with additional salsa. [I waited to slice the rollups until right before the party.]

3:45 pm - Italian Appetizer Bites (originally published in Family Circle magazine, my mom passed it along to me)

This recipe is a good, hearty one - especially when the drinks are flowing.  I found myself describing it as an Italian quiche of sorts since it contains layers of meat, cheese and egg.

Makes: 32 pieces. Prep: 15 minutes. Bake: at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 pound sliced deli salami
1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese
1/2 pound sliced boiled deli ham
7 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 jars (12 ounces each) roasted red peppers, drained

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Unroll 1 package of the crescent rolls and use dough to line the bottom of prepared baking dish.  Pinch the seams together with fingers.

2) Cover rolls with half of the salami, provolone and ham.  [I cut the meat into pieces first to spread it evenly.]  Lightly beat together 6 of the eggs and the Parmesan; pour half evenly over the top.  Top with half of the roasted red peppers.  Repeat layering with remaining salami, cheese, ham, egg mixture and peppers.  Top with remaining package of crescent rolls.

3) Lightly beat remaining egg and brush over the top.  Cover dish with foil; bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 30 more minutes.  Cool for 1 hour; cut into 32 squares and serve.  [I held off on cutting into pieces until right before the party.]

4:30 pm - Assemble cake

I leveled the bottom of the top piece with a serrated knife.  For the icing, I whipped up some of my mom's buttercream icing (butter and powdered sugar with a splash of milk... or water when one is out of milk).  I filled the indention with icing and spread some around the top of the base to help glue the two pieces together.  After placing the top on the base, I iced the whole top like a cupcake and added a ton of rainbow sprinkles.

5 pm - Chex Muddy Buddies or "Puppy Chow" (recipe on the back of the Chex cereal box)

9 cups of Chex cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1) Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

2) In 1-quart microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on high  minute; stir.  Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.  Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage bag. [I simply added the powdered sugar into the bowl and stirred it well.]

3) Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag; shake until well coated.  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.  [I skipped this step since I combined everything in the bowl.]

5:30 pm - Won Ton Appetizers (my mom received this recipe from my grandmother)

While I was home over Christmas, my mom told me that this appetizer was a complete hit at her recent holiday parties.  After our NYE party, I can vouch for the popularity - multiple people let me know that this dish was their favorite of the party!

Won Ton or Mini Fillo shells (I only bought 30 mini fillo shells and had leftover filling - would recommend about 45 shells, can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store)
1 pound of sausage crumbled up, cooked well and drained
1 chopped red pepper
8 ounce bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
Mexican cheese (I used cheddar since I finished off the Mexican cheese with other recipes)

1) Cook shells as directed in advance.  [The kind I used required 5-8 minutes of cook time at 350 degrees.]

2) Mix sausage, red pepper, and ranch dressing.  When ready to serve, spoon above mixture into the pre-cooked shells.  Put shells on a pan or baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on top.  Cook at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  [I waited to complete this step until right before the party.]

6:15 pm - Relax a bit and eat dinner.
7:30 pm - Shower and get dressed.
8:15 pm - Cut tortilla rollups and Italian appetizer bites.  Bake won ton appetizer.  Plate everything.  Start up the music... the soundtrack for the evening was provided by my lovely and very hip younger sister J :)  (Thankfully, Scott cleaned the condo while I cooked, went to the liquor store and set up the bar!)

9 pm - Party time!

Midnight - Toast the new year with champagne and cake!

Hope everyone had a fabulous New Year's eve!  As Scott said in his toast at midnight, be sure to take a moment to count your blessings.  We are so fortunate to have such amazing friends and family.  2010 was a year I will never forget... and I am excited for everything 2011 has in store!


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