Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Photos: 2010














Year in Review: 2010

1. What did you do in 2010 that you have never done before?
I rode Big Thunder Mountain! (Yes, that is kind of a big deal to me. It's symbolic in a way only I may be able to appreciate.)

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more for 2011?
I believe in goals more than resolutions. I crossed some off my list in 2010--most notably, establishing a cleaning routine that works for me, and finally organizing my closets--and replaced them with new goals as they presented themselves. I still have some items on that list that need work. I'm ok with that. It means I still have some living to do.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth in 2010?
Oh my goodness, yes. My very first nephew was born in early June. And two of my dearest friends back in Connecticut had sweet baby girls toward the end of the year.

4. Did anyone close to you die in 2010?
Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit this year?
I stayed right here in the United States. In fact, I barely even left my state. It seemed more people came here this year & I kinda liked that!

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I would like a little less personal drama. While I am sure there are life lessons to be learned from them, I could still do without it.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 21, the day the drama descended.

8. What was your biggest struggle in 2010?
Despite the drama, I didn't struggle with finding peace, for which I am grateful. I have a pretty strong core to rely on & an equally strong support system to shore me up when I need it. What I struggled most with was my insurance company, but I finally got off the hamster wheel & moved forward again.

9. Did you suffer any illness or injury in 2010?
I don't think you can call it either injury or illness. I just discovered I have a fibroid that requires some attention--around which all this drama has swirled.

10. What was the best thing you bought this year?
I bought precious little this year, except for my car. And while I like it far better than its predecessor, I wouldn't say it was my best purchase. I was kind of hoping to put that purchase off for a while longer. I think my best purchases were the gifts I was able to find for loved ones.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My support system for rallying around me when I needed it most.

12. Whose behavior disappointed you?
I can't really think of anyone. I've weeded out so many of those responsible for disappointing me in the past.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Paying off bills & living expenses. I am so looking forward to the day that I can say into my savings!

14. What did you get really really excited about this year?
Seeing the Sox play at Fenway again. Getting to go to the All Star Game. Playing at WDW not once, but twice with Nichole & Daniel. And getting to meet K!

15. What song will always remind you of 2010?
"Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you: much happier, much nicer or richer?
I never know how to answer this one... I hope I am nicer. I'm pretty consistently happy from year to year now. And what my bank account lacks is made up for exponentially by the wealth that truly matters.

17. What do you wish you had done more of?
Reading books, maybe? I am pretty content with how I invested my time.

18. What do you wish you had done less of?
Worrying. It accomplishes nothing except for stalling progress.

19. Did you fall in love in 2010?
That's not really on the "To Do List" anymore. ;-)

20. What was your favorite TV Program in 2010?
I never pick one. This is no surprise to anyone anymore. Dexter. Grey's Anatomy. Fringe. The Big Bang Theory. The Good Wife. Parenthood. Best new show of 2010? Blue Bloods.

21. What was the best book you read this year?
Deep Drive: The Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within (Mike Lowell, Rob Bradford)

22. What was your greatest musical discovery this past year?
While I am hesitant to call it a "great musical discovery," I was really moved by Faith Hill's "A Baby Changes Everything."

23. What did you want and get?
An approval from the insurance company for an MRI.

24. What was the best movie you saw this year?
"True Grit," followed closely by "Red."

25. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
This year was number 34. I don't really make a big deal of my birthday. Not a fan of the attention. I'm fine with a quiet dinner out.

26. What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
Getting to meet my nephew in person.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion statement this year?
Classic Dawn: comfortable, with a healthy amount of Red Sox.

28. What kept you sane this year?
The people I rely on when the chips are down.

29. What celebrity did you fancy the most?
Does Mike Lowell count as a celebrity? Because I was pretty much a broken record, it being his final season before retiring & all. Who will I stalk fancy in 2011 though??

30. Who did you miss this past year?
Most people I love, unfortunately.

31. Who were the best new people you met this year?
I got to meet K as I mentioned. And I also got to meet some of Troy's family.

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year:
Sometimes life is going to slap you right upside the head. You'll be amazed at the people who will step up to make it ok.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stone wall.

photo by StripeyCat

Back around Thanksgiving, I was wandering through blogs, happily soaking up all those photos of leaves that everyone shares. And then I got to that stone wall. I had forgotten how much I love an old stone wall. I didn't even realize how much I missed them until right then. We don't have them down here, at least not like they do back in Connecticut. All those imperfect old walls, some haphazardly slipping apart in places as time & the elements wear away at them. Stone walls with so much character and so rich with history.

I've let that photo sit in my mind, coming back to look at it again & again, as the thoughts & emotions it stirred within me sorted themselves out. Almost in the same instant I saw that photo, I had asked its owner for permission to use it here, knowing a blog post was trying to surface.

My Gramp used to build stone walls when he worked for a nursery as a young man. As we would drive down various roads in our town, he would point out to me the ones he helped build, sometimes telling me a bit of a story, but mostly just pointing it out, being a man of few words. My eyes would gaze at each wall. I would try to picture my Gramp as this young man, the one who built the walls. And even as I grew old enough to drive these same roads myself, I would catch a glimpse of the walls & remember who constructed it, remember the days of my childhood, perched in the seat of the brick red-orange 1976 Dodge Ram beside a mountain of a man.

I don't know how many of these walls are still there, having outlived the progression of time, environment, the ever-changing landscape, and my Gramp. But I think about them now. I wonder. I can still picture them because he took the time to point them out to me.

I think of that strong young man, younger even than I am now, and the strong grandfather I knew. And there is a bittersweet tug at my heart when I remember my Gramp as his own memories failed him. I don't stay there long, I don't dwell on those last years, because that's not who he really was. Oh yes, I loved him just the same, but he was so much more than his body betrayed him to be in those final days. As the years pass, I realize that his mind crippled by the vicious Alzheimer's has given me a gift of appreciation. Because I can remember. I can recall him as he was for most of my life: strong and quiet, larger than life but with a warm kindness. I can bring to mind the days we spent together, the things he showed me, the stories he felt worthy of sharing, the qualities he instilled in me. I can wander along those stone walls in my memory as they amble away in their crooked imperfect beauty, dipping out of sight between hills or behind trees or around a bend...only to appear again, just a bit further up the road.

They aren't unlike memories really, these stone walls. They might be messy & out of balance in areas. They might disappear from view & then resurface again a little later. They may not be perfectly straight and vines may climb the rocks, slightly altering the wall's appearance. They might look as though they cannot stand the test of time...and in some places they may not. But their structure is solid and it can withstand the harshness of relentless years. In the end, the stone wall stands for a long long time before it once again becomes the loose stones from which it was formed, unless someone chooses to take it down.

I cherish these memories, because now I can remember for us both.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Want Wednesday: December 29, 2010

**While I have been all about creating my own "personalized" cookbook of sorts, I Want to add The Food Substitutions Bible to my bookshelf. It looks super useful!

**I am pretty resourceful in the kitchen (by product of being very low on storage space!). I use a fine mesh strainer for sifting flour when I need to. So, yes, resourceful, but not so easy to accurately measure. When I go home & my kitchen has magically tripled in size, I Want this Flour Sifter.

**It occurred to me over the weekend, as I scrolled through hundreds of channels, looking for something suitable for background noise, that easily 80% of the channels I pay I will never watch. Sure I scroll through the 450-bajillion when "nothing is on" but I don't ever *find* anything on those "other channels." Some people respond to this by canceling their cable service, but *that* is not going to happen in my home. See, I watch enough tv that it justifies the expenditure--I just watch it all on maybe 25 channels in all. What I Want is "cable a la carte" where I can select & pay for the channels that actually get used.

**Even though I am still happily in the midst of my Winter stash of scents (and yes, still some Autumn ones because they still "work" for me in Winter as well), as soon as I see the previews, I can't help it. I Want to sniff the new Spring Yankee Candle scents!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: December 27, 2010

Monday: Grilled chicken sandwiches.
Tuesday: Scalloped Potatoes & Ham. Have to use up those Christmas leftovers!
Wednesday: Leftovers.
Thursday: Ravioli with ground sausage, salad, garlic bread.
Friday: Bonefish Grill for New Years Eve.
Saturday: Chicken Turkey Tetrazzini. Using up the last of the Thanksgiving turkey from the freezer.
Sunday: BLTs.

Notes from last week's menu: Friday became just the hot dogs; neither of us were that hungry it turned out. The Egg and Sausage Bake was a keeper but we tweaked the recipe to use less bread next time. And Paula Deen's Fancy Green Beans were very simple & very yummy, but it made a LOT.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Right Now: December 26, 2010

Outside my window... there is no snow. Not much further north of me, it looks quite different out others' windows though!

I am thinking... how it intrigues me when baseball players have limited no-trade clauses that routinely give them the option to veto a trade to both the Yankees & the Red Sox. It makes me curious what their reasoning is. Not that I am offended in any way. I just wonder if it is the the AL East they want no part of? Organizations as dominating as Boston & New York? The whole "fish bowl," "Pressure-cooker" environment? I'm just plain curious, because I read it fairly frequently.

I am thankful for... friends that allow me to "hold my cards close to my chest" until I'm ready to share what's on my mind. And then, they listen.

From the kitchen... I keep thinking of making some M&M cookies. Chocolate with my limited edition mint M&Ms is so appealing to my taste buds, I'm thinking!

I am wearing... yoga pants & a long sleeve tee. And my blankie.

I am creating... the framework for my 2011. I just love a fresh new planner. I cannot go digital on this. Something about all those blank pages & a pen in hand...

I am going... to miss football on Sunday nights. There's *nothing* on tv.

I am reading... all the baseball news I can get my hands on. Give me some Pitchers & Catchers in Fort Myers already!

I am hoping... for the best, while still trying to keep myself realistically prepared.

I am hearing... the wind. It is howling like crazy out there.

Around the house... it is still Christmas-y. That makes me very smiley.

One of my favorite things... flickering candlelight.

I don't understand... where 2010 went. The years really do fly by at an increasingly alarming pace.

I wish... my girls lived closer.

A few plans for the rest of the week... MRI, short work week, early New Years Eve dinner & moving the gift wrap boxes into storage. I sure know how to leave everyone wishing they could be me, huh?

A picture to share...


Let it snow.

With the northeastern section of the country getting blasted by wintry weather, I have snow on the brain. I suppose I am guilty of romanticizing snow, being some nearly nine years removed from having actually seen it with my own two eyes, beyond one fantasy-glimpse of it against street lights last Winter--much less shoveled or attempted to drive in it. That's what time & distance afford us: the opportunity to filter out the parts we don't wish to recall, leaving a picture perfect memory remaining.

Perhaps it is also the Christmas season that has a Winter wonderland dancing through my mind's eye as well. As much as I don't miss the slush and the sodden grey-brown mess that gathers along the edges of the roads, I would love to step outside into a world of sparkling white for just a while. When you have "real Winter" year after year, I think you don't realize that parts of it don't exist under any other circumstances, that just cannot be replicated.

For example, the muted hush. I've never heard sound dampened like this anywhere else in nature. The snow seems to absorb almost every noise, dialing it all down to a quiet murmur, not much more than a whisper really. There is a peacefulness all its own in this muffled stillness. I remember walking through the snow, the only sound that really seemed to register was the squeak-crunch of the snow itself beneath my footsteps. (That squeak-crunch is another sound I've never heard anywhere else.) In fact, in the very stillness, I could almost swear I heard the actual snowflakes landing as they drifted down from the heavens.

Along with the hush comes another favorite characteristic: the softened edges & colors of the world. The fluffy blanket draping itself over all the stark jagged edges of a November landscape in little puffs & drifts, curling around tree trunks, layering itself over matted brown grasses. There is nothing left harsh or lonely when the snow perches merrily on its surface. And while the snow itself sparkles & glistens as the wind & sunlight play with the white upon white, dazzling the eye like so many piles of diamond dust, it seems all else takes a humble supporting role, allowing the snow to shine alone. The shadows are a pale lavender. The sun warms the world to a soft rosy pink in the morning & gives it a vague golden sheen as it begins its descent. And with nightfall, the snow itself seems to emanate a gentle blue, glowing from within, enhanced with color or golden creamy white when Christmas lights are hidden beneath.

Snow makes the whole world appear filled with wonder & awe. I remember that it never got old, to peer out my window, greeted with a world wrapped in snowy white delight. And since I no longer have to bundle up & burst into the frosty cold to clean off my car or clear a path, I am content to let it snow in my mind & remember just its beauty.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Let It Be Christmas

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the hearts of all people both near and afar
Christmas everywhere
Feel the love of the season wherever you are
On the small country roads lined with green mistletoe
Big city streets where a thousand lights glow

Let it be Christmas everywhere
With the gold and the silver, the green and the red
Christmas everywhere
In the smiles of all children asleep in their beds
In the eyes of young babies their first fallen snow
Elderly's memories that never grow old

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the songs that we sing and the gifts that we bring
Christmas everywhere
In what this day means and what we believe
From the sandy white beaches where blue water rolls
Snow covered mountains and valleys below

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas
Christmas everywhere

~Let It Be Christmas (Alan Jackson)~


Friday, December 24, 2010

A Baby Changes Everything

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Shepherds all gather 'round
Up above the star shines down
A baby changes everything
Choir of angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
A baby changes everything

~from "A Baby Changes Everything" by Faith Hill~


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Want Wednesday: December 22, 2010

**I Want to take a sleigh ride at Disney World.

(photo from the Disney website)

**I Want to tramp through about ten inches of freshly falling (yes, still falling, not already fallen) snow, get my cheeks all rosy & my lungs aching with the cold, and then tumble inside, shedding my layers of bundled up warmth, so I can curl up in front of a crackling fire with a blanket & a mug of hot apple cider, and just sit there, admiring the Christmas tree by the window while the snow continues to float silently from the evening sky.

**I Want everyone to feel as blessed as I do, as content with life, as well-loved, before ever touching a single gift that can be found under a Christmas tree.


One-Word Sarcomical Sunday #20

One of these days, I'll be caught up & actually post this *on* a Sunday. Until that elusive day...

Sarcomical's rule: one world and ONE WORD ONLY.

1. Your holiday decor: Lovely.
2. The weather where you live this time of year: Perfect.
3. Your favorite smell of the season: Evergreen.
4. Your favorite beverage of the season: Cider.
5. Something you wish you could avoid during the holidays: Negativity.
6. What you typically bring to the potluck: Shells.
7. What you wish people would stop bringing to the potluck: Peppers.
8. A word to describe how you feel about the word 'potluck': Alarming.
9. What is on your feet right now: Sneakers.
10. How many layers you are wearing right now: Two.
11. Where in the world you would rather be right now: Home.
12. Something that makes you feel invigorated this time of year: Chill.
13. Something that makes you feel challenged this time of year: Deadlines.
14. A cold weather comfort food you crave: Chowdah.
15. Something you wish you were doing right now: Relaxing.
16. Something you SHOULD be doing right now: Paperwork.
17. Your opinion of snow: Christmas-y.
18. Your opinion of those big furry-looking hats with earflaps: Fudd-like.
19. A tradition you'll be sure to keep this season: Lights-seeing.
20. A tradition you'd like to start this season: Clueless.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: December 22, 2010

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Yankee Candle Scents for Christmastime

1. Mistletoe
2. Balsam & Cedar
3. Christmas Cupcake
4. Christmas Cookie
5. Gingerbread
6. Red Berry & Cedar
7. White Christmas (This one was retired & I have been waiting for its return for years. *So* excited they brought it back for this Christmas!)
8. Hollyberry (retired)
9. Frosty Air
10. Jack Frost


Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: December 20, 2010

Monday: Chicken (marinated in Dale's), wild rice and peas.
Tuesday: Meatloaf Patties, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower with cheese.
Wednesday: Lasagna, garlic bread, salad.
Thursday: (new recipe!) Egg & Sausage Bake, and some fresh fruit.
Friday: Hot dogs and cheese sticks. (Going for quick & easy here...and no leftovers.)
Saturday: Ham, mashed potatoes, (new recipe!) Paula Deen's Fancy Green Beans, salad and rolls.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: Wednesday ended up being a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants skillet meal with a salad because we couldn't find the crock pot chicken & dumplings kit we've used in the past, and I needed to leave for church, so dinner needed to be quick. We're going to have to research chicken & dumplings recipes to make it from scratch now (which is usually better anyway, I know).

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Right Now: December 19, 2010

Outside my window... it's been a bit damp & chilly all day.

I am thinking... this lazy weekend is exactly what I needed.

I am thankful for... nationally televised Patriots games, since that is the only way I get to see them play most of the time. (Shallow? You betcha. But I'm grateful for little things like this too.)

From the kitchen... leftover homemade clam chowdah. Delicious. I may or may not have considered licking the bowl.

I am wearing... yoga pants & my long sleeve Patriots tee.

I am creating... happiness.

I am going... to stay up & watch the Patriots do their fool best to lose this game. ARG!

I am reading... nothing. I miss reading. I need to get my daily routines back on track. Christmas prep got me all off kilter.

I am hoping... this week finds a way to fly by when I'm at work but slow to a crawl when I am at home. I don't want Christmas to be here *quite* yet.

I am hearing... the Patriots-Packers game on tv & very little else. It's getting late.

Around the house... is clutter that I am trying to ignore tonight. I can tackle it tomorrow.

One of my favorite things... is a room lit only by a Christmas tree.

I don't understand... why the Patriots cannot stop the Packers (with their backup QB no less!) from converting a third down.

I wish... everyone could feel as lucky as I do.

A few plans for the rest of the week... a four-day work week, wrapping a few more gifts, church on Christmas Eve and some quiet relaxing at home.

A picture to share...


Saturday, December 18, 2010

20 Questions: December 18, 2010

1. What is your favorite movie of the romantic comedy variety?
Several come to mind, but I think the Steve Martin remake of "Father of the Bride" remains at the top of my list.

2. Gloves or mittens?
Gloves. I don't feel as clumsy when my fingers are still able to operate independent of one another.

3. What books are waiting on your nightstand to be read?
Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits. Born to Play: My Life in the Game. Game of Shadows.

4. If you could trade places with any of your friends, who would it be?
I wouldn't. I think stepping into someone else's life, no matter how idyllic it appears from the outside, comes with a host of things one cannot anticipate. My life if pretty awesome & I wouldn't trade it for any other.

5. If you could have ONE thing (money is not an option) in the entire world, what would it be?
Lifetime Red Sox tickets, not just to home games, but any Sox game I felt inclined to attend.

6. What are you looking forward to most in the next six weeks?
Celebrating Christmas.

7. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The Christmas Eve Candlelight service.

8. What three things do you think when I say 'south'?
Civil War. Southern drawl. Florida.

9. List five things in your refrigerator right now.
Pickles. Green beans. Egg nog. Bacon. Yogurt.

10. What is your favorite name that starts with the letter H?

11. When did you last cry?
Saturday morning. Not a bad cry. Just teary-eyed. A song got to me while I was driving to my hair appointment.

12. What is the best part of Winter?
Crisp air. (And being cozy on the couch with a snuggly blanket.) (And Christmas trees.)

13. Are you shorter than you mother?

14. Describe your current life in one (ONE!) word.

15. Would you ever want the super power to read the thoughts of others?
I almost said 'yes' and there was a time would have wanted to, just to know the truth. But you know? I don't think so. I trust the people in my world now. And I wouldn't want to ruin surprises. And everyone needs the solitude of their own thoughts--I would want my loved ones to share them when they were ready to put them into words. And then there's the fact that I wouldn't be able to mute the thoughts of people I wasn't interested in knowing and just... ::shudder:: No thanks.

16. When was the last time you rearranged your furniture?
Ha. Other than moving my cabinet from one wall to the other (and scooting the file cabinet, couch & end table over a few inches to make room for the Christmas tree) that would be never, since living in this apartment. There's just no other configuration that would work with the combination of furniture I have & the space allotted to me.

17. Which kind of Oreo cookies do you like best?
It's a definite tie between the original Oreos and the golden ones (vanilla cookie-vanilla frosting).

18. Do you get annoyed easily?
Not typically. And when I do, I tend to get over it quickly. I don't like being unhappy. Life's too short.

19. How do people know what you want for Christmas or your birthday gifts?
I keep a well-maintained, frequently-updated wish list & often link to it on Facebook, just so no one has to actually me for it. There's a link in my blog sidebar too. I am not a fan of being asked what I want for gifts. It leaves me feeling on the spot. This way, gift-givers can peruse, choose something in their price range that they are drawn to & know that I will love it.

20. What are the first three movie quotes that pop into your mind?
"I like smiling. Smiling's my favorite." (Elf)
"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends." (It's a Wonderful Life)
"Cause the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet and you bet big, then you take the house." (Ocean's Eleven)


Thursday, December 16, 2010

In appreciation.

I've spent many years now lamenting the loss of Autumn that came with my relocation to Florida. While many places enjoy fall foliage, a New England girl is hard-pressed to find any that can compete with the fiery blaze of leaves painted by Mother Nature in the northeast. Each Autumn, I recalled crisp October afternoons with trees holding their red and orange and golden leaves high against a vibrant blue sky, with those that have fallen, raked into enormous piles or scattered by the wind, left to gather into multi-colored drifts.

And I gave a cursory glance around me, dismissing the palm trees with a sigh.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself wandering aimlessly around Disney property, taking in the sights & smiling at the Christmas decorations. I was crossing through the parking lot at the Contemporary, making my way toward the boat launch that would eventually take me over to the Wilderness Lodge. I turned my face upward to let the sunshine warm my cheeks, slightly rosy from the hint of an early December chill in the air when the unexpected caught just the corner of my eye. If I hadn't been intent on soaking in my surroundings that day, I might have missed it once again.

The sun was shining through the leaves on the trees, making them glow.

It caught my breath & carried it away on the breeze.

There it was: *my* Autumn. This beautiful place where I now live offers a more subtle version of my favorite season. The colors aren't as blazing, but they are warm & cheerful. The leaves don't make mountains--we don't have mountains in Florida anyway--but there are enough to crunch through, if you seek them out. And I hadn't. In eight Florida Autumns, I wistfully recalled what had been and failed to see the beauty before me as a result. It *isn't* the same, and yes, I will always love a New England Autumn better than any other, but the soft loveliness that arrives later & with less fanfare here on this peninsula can still be admired.

I just have to remember to turn my face upward, to seek it out, to appreciate what I have. The reds and the oranges will always be at their most magnificent against a vibrant blue...and when the tenth Autumn of my Florida residency rolls around, I won't forget the lesson I learned this year.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Want Wednesday: December 15, 2010

**I Want to watch Home Alone and the only channel playing it is HBO...which, of course I do not get. I may have to suck it up it & buy it at this point.

**I Want to get all my Christmas prep finished. It's

**I Want to get a wireless remote for my camera. I hate rushing to beat the timer.

**I have wine glasses. They are cheap & kinda boring. I don't drink very much wine at home, so it's difficult to justify upgrading to anything better, but if I did, these Kirsi wine Glasses from Crate&Barrel are the ones I Want. I love the swirly etching.

**Would you believe the only pitchers I have ever had have been plastic? There is just something so lovely about a real (read: breakable) pitcher. I Want this Le Creuset Stoneware Pitcher in Cherry Red. Love.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: December 14, 2010

Top Ten Christmas Movies & Shows I *Must* Watch Every Year

1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas
3. The Polar Express
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
5. The Nativity Story
6. Elf
7. A Christmas Carol
8. A Christmas Story
9. Home Alone
10. It's a Wonderful Life


Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: December 13, 2010

Monday: BBQ chicken, boiled potatoes (with butter & a little salt--yum!) and corn.
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad.
Wednesday: Chicken & dumplings.
Thursday: Tuna casserole.
Friday: Fish sandwiches with a Steamfresh veggies & pasta side dish.
Saturday: Clam Chowder.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: Stuck right to the planned menu.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Right Now: December 12, 2010

Outside my window... there is no snow. This is the one time of year I *really* wish for a freak snowstorm (and I would just stay home, cozy & warm, watching it through the window).

I am thinking... about donuts because my last pack of SoftLips came with a bonus "sugar & spice" flavor that tastes exactly like powdered donuts. Every time I apply some, I want donuts.

I am thankful for... quiet Sundays spent at home after a busy weekend.

From the kitchen... comes a steady stream of handfuls of peanut butter M&Ms. I am so addicted.

I am wearing... flannel pj pants & a tank top. And a blankie. ;-)

I am creating... a cookie-baking list. I *really* need to get cracking on this...

I am going... to be a busy busy Christmas elf the next few days.

I am reading... very little at the moment.

I am hoping... I can get my Christmas To-Do List finished in time. Everything needs to be crossed off by this coming Thursday.

I am hearing... Sunday Night Football.

Around the house... is dust. I need to dust. I hate dusting. It makes me sneeze. (But I don't hate it as much as cleaning ceiling fans or scrubbing the shower.)

One of my favorite things... Target pj pants. I have tested out pj pants from many different sources. Some cheap, some more expensive (but purchased on sale, because that's just how I roll). I won't get them anywhere else anymore. It doesn't matter if they are cotton or flannel, long or capri-length, they are the most comfy pj pants ever, they come in fun prints & colors, and the hold up really well. It doesn't take long for me to change into them when I get home in the evening.

I don't understand... what is gong on with my hair. I am still almost a week away from my regularly scheduled trim & it looks like I have been trapped on a remote island for six months. It's like I am one of those Play-Doh factory people & someone squeezed the hair out of the holes in my head.

I wish... Christina Aguilera would stop singing Silent Night on my radio. That is the most singularly painful rendition of that song I have *ever* heard.

A few plans for the rest of the week... baking, church, wrapping of gifts, a trip to the post office & a badly needed haircut.

A picture to share...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Want Wednesday: December 8, 2010

**I Want to add this snowman from Hallmark to my tree. He would fit in so perfectly with all the shiny, sparkly lovelies already on my tree...

**I have several completed Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collections. I haven't found a new one in a while that I *really* wanted to start, but I Want to start the Oh So Sweet! series. I love this cupcake!

**I have to be honest, I don't have the need (nor the space) to add another platter to my collection, yet I Want this one from Crate&Barrel. I love that it is more wintry than just Christmas-y. I love that it looks as if a chunk of ice with snowflakes trapped in it was cut out from a larger body of frozen water.

**While I'm at it, I Want this platter from Target as well. My favorite shade of red & I *love* snowflakes.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: December 7, 2010

Top Ten Most-Played Christmas Songs on my iPod

1. "Let It Be Christmas," Alan Jackson
2. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" The Carpenters
3. "The 12 Days of Christmas," Straight No Chaser
4. "White Christmas," Martina McBride
5. "Who Comes This Night?" James Taylor
6. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," Jewel
7. "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Sarah McLachlan
8. "Baby It's Cold Outside," Lady Antebellum
9. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," Bing Crosby
10. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," Frank Sinatra


Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: December 6, 2010

Monday: Steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli and a salad.
Tuesday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner.
Thursday: Soup & sandwich.
Friday: Company Christmas party.
Saturday: Undecided - possibly something at WDW?
Sunday: Something quick & easy, not sure yet.

Notes from last week's menu: The Easy Cheesy Chicken Bake was super easy & very satisfying--great comfort food!--and will be a keeper. Saturday ended up being Wendy's as I had been on the go all day, hadn't eaten much & subsequently gave myself a headache; whatever was quick & easy was the winner!

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Friday, December 3, 2010

One Word Sarcomical Sunday #19

It's been ages since Sarcomical posted one of these! Even though I'm way late & it isn't Sunday, I *had* to play along.

Her rule: answer with one word & ONE WORD ONLY.

1. Something you wish there was more of: Compassion.
2. Something you wish there was less of: Car salesmen.
3. A breakfast food you loathe: Oatmeal.
4. A frequent subject of your bad dreams: Killers.
5. Something you like about November: Brisk.
6. Your favorite place to pass time alone: Thoughts.
7. The last thing that made you cry: Song.
8. A personality trait you find annoying: Condescending.
9. A personality trait you find endearing: Bubbly.
10. The last thing you pretended to like but didn't: Instructions.
11. The last author you were reading: Oke.
12. Your favorite party game: Scattergories.
13. The scenery you are drawn to most in nature: Sky.
14. Something you're not sure you could give up for a week: Chocolate.
15. An animal you wish you could keep as a pet: Squirrel.
16. Your favorite herb: Basil.
17. Your most recent amazing meal: Thanksgiving.
18. A sound that drives you crazy: Rattling.
19. A sound that calms you: Rain.
20. What you want to accomplish tomorrow: Decorating.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Right Now: December 2, 2010

Outside my window... I see a reflection of the lights on my Christmas tree & that makes me so happy.

I am thinking... it's good to be cozy on the couch.

I am thankful for... warm blankies & peanut butter M&Ms.

From the kitchen... will come some hot apple cider very soon. Perfect for a chilly Winter evening.

I am wearing... flannel pj pants--purple with a snowflake print--and a long sleeve pajama tee.

I am creating... my To-Do List for the weekend.

I am going... to shred some old paperwork that doesn't need to clog up my files anymore.

I am reading... some very inspirational blog posts.

I am hoping... we are done with the 80-degree weather for a while now.

I am hearing... Christmas music on the radio all day & loving all the classics that get mixed in. Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. And all the old favorite carols, songs & hymns. It's like a time machine straight back into some of my most cherished memories.

Around the house... things are finding new, homes, better suited to their purpose. I like that feeling of accomplishment.

One of my favorite things... is silver garland reflecting multi-colored Christmas tree lights.

I don't understand... how it's always the same (annoying!) song playing on my alarm clock every morning at 5:45 when it goes off. For weeks now, I've been greeted with "Hey Soul Sister." I thought I was golden when the station my clock-radio is tuned to switched to Christmas music on Thanksgiving. Starting Monday morning, the first time my alarm had been set since the change to Christmas music...and I was screeched awake by "all Mariah Carey wants for Christmas." And every.single.morning since then. Silver lining: I get up immediately.

I wish... my friends all knew the same peace & contentment I do.

A few plans for the rest of the week... some organizing, some reading, some planning, some DVR & some Disney Christmas.

A picture to share...


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: November 2010

A photo of me:
I didn't exist in November, I guess.

1) Candle scents this month:
Mountain Lodge. Napa Valley Harvest. Maple Pancakes. Cinnamon Stick. Farmers Market. Orchard Pear. Autumn Fruit. Be Thankful. Macintosh Spice. Vanilla Pumpkin. Cranberry Chutney. Vineyard. Cinnamon & Sugar. Fall Festival. Creamy Caramel.

2) What I am reading this month:
Magazines & blogs. I need to start a new book.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
Coincidentally, all three of these songs had to grow on me. I would immediately change the station if they came on...until this month. (This will NOT be the case with Train's "Hey Soul Sister" which grates on my nerves like nothing has since the appearance of James Blunt, singing "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover.") "As She's Walking Away," Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson. "My Kinda Party," Jason Aldean. "Say What You Need to Say," John Mayer.

4) Movies I saw:
Dial M for Murder. Wizard of Oz. Ocean's Eleven. Red.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
Sheldon giving up his spot to Howard , the ultimate sacrifice, as an apology (The Apology Insufficiency--The Big Bang Theory). Debra's line: "I'd rather put out a campfire with my face." (First Blood--Dexter) Pretty much the whole episode of Blitzgiving (How I Met Your Mother). The two most recent episodes of Dexter--Teenage Wasteland and In the Beginning--have been deliciously good; it says something when you cannot wait for the next episode before the credits even finishing fading in on the episode you just finished watching!

6) Something yummy I made:
I tried a new recipe for pumpkin cupcakes for Thanksgiving's dessert & I am almost drooling just recalling how delicious they were!

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Biergarten. Yak & Yeti. Via Napoli. McDonald's (on the night I unexpectedly needed to buy a car from start to finish & didn't think car-shopping/signing-my-life-away on an empty stomach was a good plan for anyone who needed to be within a half mile of me). Macaroni Grill.

8) Something that made me laugh *and* cry:
The look on Daniel's face (hee hee hee!) when the squirrel (oh ha ha haaa...) stole the entire (HA!) piece of bread (tee hee!!) RIGHT OFF HIS PLATE! (Bahahahaha!) And the (hahahahahaha ::gasp:: hahaHA!) spy story Nichole & I created as a result. (BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! ::wiping tears from face::)

9) A goal I had for this month:
To get my bathroom, storage & bedroom closests cleaned out & organized. The bathroom closet is done. The storage closet has been cleaned out & just needs to be organized. The bedroom closet needs some attention still but it's coming along.

10) This month I looked forward to:
Spending some time with Nichole & Daniel at WDW. Cooler weather.

11) Something I want to remember about this month:
It is not by chance that my friends share the most poignant quotes or thoughts at precisely the time I most need to hear them.

12) A photo I took this month:
The squirrel that made off with Daniel's bread.

::trying to control the laughter::


Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: November 29, 2010

Monday: Hamburger Helper and a salad.
Tuesday: (new recipe!) Easy Cheesy Chicken Bake
Wednesday: Leftovers.
Thursday: Kabobs. Wild rice.
Friday: Hot dogs & sauerkraut. Oven fries.
Saturday: Not sure yet. Depends on what the day holds.
Sunday: Leftovers?

Notes from last week's menu: Thanksgiving was a great success. I added one item though, a last minute dessert decision to try a new recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes and they were so so good. By Saturday, we needed a break from the leftovers & I needed to get out of the apartment, so we saw a movie (Red) & then went to dinner at Macaroni Grill. That broke up the monotony on several fronts & I was able to finish up the leftovers on Sunday.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: November 22, 2010

Monday: Ham steaks, scalloped potatoes, steamed broccoli & a salad.
Tuesday: BLTs.
Wednesday: Breakfast-for-dinner.
Thursday: Turkey & gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, carrots & cranberry sauce.
Friday: Leftovers.
Saturday: Leftovers?
Sunday: Leftovers?

Notes from last week's menu: Last week got *all* messed up, thanks to my car giving me the final flip-off, resulting in Tuesday evening spent sitting in a dealership; Tuesday's dinner became a quick stop at McDonald's instead. The Baked Ziti got pushed to Thursday. The kielbasa got pushed to Friday. The pizza got pushed to Saturday. And the Easy Cheesy Chicken Bake will be rescheduled some time during the week following Thanksgiving.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

20 Questions: November 21, 2010

1. Sour cream goes on:
Baked potatoes. Pierogies. Quesadillas.

2. How do you feel about Wednesdays?
They're ok. It's the middle of the week, so with my glass-half-full mentality, I'm halfway to the weekend. During Advent & Lent, we have midweek church services, which have always been some of my favorites. I'm especially fond of this week's Wednesday since it's doubling as Friday.

3. What was your eighth grade teacher's name?
Mr Moll.

4. What is your favorite food that begins with the letter G?
Green grapes, nice & cold. Goat cheese in pasta runs a veeeeeery close second though.

5. If you could go back to in time for a day when would you go back to?
No one particular day. Just an ordinary day when my Gram & Gramp were still alive. One where I could sit in the kitchen with Gram or on floor in front of the couch, asking questions & listening to stories.

6. What kind of cheese do you like on your hamburgers?
I usually leave it up to Troy. Could be anything from Colby Jack to Swiss to Provolone.

7. How many songs are on your iPod?
787. And a wish list at least that long. I love iTunes gift cards!

8. Name one (and only one) fruit and one vegetable that you would choose to stop existing, you dislike them so much?
Fruit: bananas. And I cannot think if a vegetable I hate enough to actually make it stop existing, because what if there is a recipe out there that will allow me to love sweet potatoes or winter squash? Can I just place two votes for bananas?

9. What was your favorite book as a child?
Every year, I looked forward to the Christmas season when Dad would put out his special holiday books & the first one I would reach for (and then over & over again until they were tucked away again for another year) was Jolly Old Santa Claus. The illustrations in it still suck me right in, they are so beautiful. They don't make the edition my Dad had, but it is mine now. I look forward to putting it out every year. Hmmm... I think I need to introduce this treasure to The Precious...

10. Which one of your friends do you think would make the best doctor?
HA!! Nichole. Without a doubt.

11. What should you be doing right now?
Relaxing. It's Sunday. Sunday is a day of rest. (And I also finished today's project to organize the bathroom closet.)

12. What is the most commonly used color in your home?
I think it's a tie between shades of blue & shades of brown.

13. If you had to spend the entire day as a Disney princess, which would you choose to be?
Aurora. You may know her better as Sleeping Beauty.

14. What television series finale did you particularly enjoy?
I love the way they wrapped up Friends, although I'm still not over the fact that it's over.

15. What is your favorite dessert?
Yes, please! Seriously. Ice cream, cookies, a piece of pie, a slice of cake, a brownie, a handful of M&Ms. I'm not picky. And I probably won't turn it down.

16. Where did your last plane ride take you?
To Boston, to see the Sox with some of my favorite people.

17. If you had to describe today using one word, what would it be?

18. What drink do you typically have nearby when you're lounging around at home?
A glass of water.

19. Looking at your MP3 player, what song do you play the most?
"Why Don't You & I," by Santana featuring Chad Kroeger.

20. What did you last watch on tv (or DVR as the case may be)?
CSI: NY, Hide Sight.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Right Now: November 18, 2010

Outside my window... there is a rare moment of non-activity for this time of day.

I am thinking... this week has felt about a year long already & somehow it is only Thursday.

I am thankful for... a fast-approaching four-day weekend.

From the kitchen... has come a really revised menu this week.

I am wearing... Jeans, sneakers & a top with this pattern:

I am creating... a plan for re-organizing my three closets.

I am going... to count the minutes until lunch today. I am starving!

I am reading... my new car manual. There are a lot of features I didn't know I had!

I am hoping... things settle down again for me very soon. I like my nice quiet, boring life much better than all this drama & excitement.

I am hearing... some birds chirping in the bushes, sandblasting, someone walking around upstairs & a chair rolling across the floor. See how rare that moment of silence was just since I filled in the first line?

Around the house... I'm decluttering in a major way & re-organizing. The chaos was suffocating me.

One of my favorite things... is Method hand soap. Sweetwater & the the limited edition holiday Hollyberry scent. After I wash my hands, I may or may not be guilty of smelling them repeatedly just because they smell that good.

I don't understand... those car commercials that run this time of year. You know, the ones that center upon giving a brand new car as a gift. Just who is this target audience? Who gives a whole new car as a Christmas present? And are these people paying it all up front or just presenting a new car with the big red bow and oh-by-the-way? I also got you something else that will be arriving in the mail called The Payments. Just call it the gift that keeps on giving.

I wish... my car had not picked *now* to express that my feelings toward it over the last eight years and ten months have been entirely mutual. I wasn't really planning on acquiring a new (to me) car or, more specifically, a car payment. Merry Christmas to me? Guess I know who those commercials are for after all. Hardee. Har. Har.

A few plans for the rest of the week... include re-organizing, cleaning and some DVR-clearing. I want to get those first tow out of the way so that after Thanksgiving, I am free to enjoy the holiday festivities at WDW!

A picture to share... of the new-to-me car. (It's white, not light blue, but that's what you get from my cell phone.)


Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: November 15, 2010

Monday: Pulled pork sandwiches and corn on the cob.
Tuesday: (new recipe) Baked Ziti, with a salad & some garlic bread.
Wednesday: Leftovers.
Thursday: Kielbasa with sauerkraut & pierogies.
Friday: Pizza.
Saturday: (new recipe) Easy Cheesy Chicken Bake.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: I ended up having some chicken noodle soup on Wednesday as I fought off a cold. Saturday, we grabbed a couple of subs from the deli at Publix.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Food & Wine Festival 2010: The Finale

I'm still not sure how we found the room for this last round after all the food we consumed all week. I'm not even sure how I've managed to be hungry at all since then, although truth be told, while I am *starving* at meal times, my appetite is easily curbed.

I started with something I had been curiously eying since I first laid eyes on this year's menu.

Nanaimo Bar.

I don't even know where to start. The chilled-brittle chocolate layer on top? The dense brownie-like bottom with it bits of chopped nuts (and, I'm told, coconut flakes, though I didn't personally detect them)? The cool creamy custard sandwiched between the two? If I weren't so stuffed to the gills, I would have had at least two more of these.

But I had to leave some of the remaining stomach real estate open for...

Kerrygold Cheese Selection. Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie.

Oh. My. Word. That fisherman's pie. You should just drool now. It was like a shepherd's pie but not. It was so so yummy. And the perfect comfort food for a chilly Winter evening. I do not even have the words. Also? I need that recipe. And then there was the cheese plate. The little cup held an apple chutney--tart/sweet and a pleasant surprise against the flavors of the cheeses--and the brown bread was heavy nutty bread, which I bet would have been amazing warm. The cheese on the bottom, the Ivernia, was the sharpest of the three, and was a lot in texture like a Parmesan. The one on the top was an Aged Irish Cheddar, less sharp but still with a bit of a bite. My favorite was the long piece in the middle, the Dubliner, which was milder & very creamy.

From here, we left for a reprise of the waffle in Belgium, and then moved along to several other locations where I passed in light of "saving room" because ohmigosh was I full. I finally located a corner of space when we arrived at...

Roasted Corn and Cheese Empanada. Pascual Toso Torrontes.

Nichole & I split this one. The corn & cheese tucked into the pastry was wonderful. A little heavier than I anticipated (or maybe that was just because I was STUFFED) but very tasty. I liked the wine, but at the time we were too busy laughing for me to have retained anything more to share about it.

Before my final stop of the day for seconds on the heirloom tomato salad in the United States, there was one last dish on my list of must-tries. So we doubled back to...

Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw.

This had a bit of kick to it, but the lettuce helped to cool it off just a bit. It was a messy taste, though not as messy as its counterpart from an earlier round (the Barbecue Short Rib). And I may or may not have washed it down with another glass of the Black Raspberry Rice Wine--the world will never know. ;-)

The only complaint I really have about Food & Wine Fest? That my stomach isn't big enough to hold more. There were far too many options for a girl with decision-making issues and ridiculous levels of yumminess that I wish I could have tried more than once. That's really not much of a problem, though, is it? =) Already looking forward to 2011.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Right Now: November 11, 2010

Outside my window... it's almost dark already. I think I am probably one of the few people who doesn't hate that turning the clocks back means it's not light out as late into the evening. It feels cozy to me.

I am thinking... mosquitoes should be outlawed in the middle of November. Sheesh! *Two* of them in the apartment tonight!

I am thankful for... those who have served this great country, keeping its citizens safe & protecting the freedoms we have here.

From the kitchen... came some creamy garlic noodles & corn to go with the BBQ chicken on the grill.

I am wearing... red track pants & a tank top.

I am creating... a WDW Christmas plan. There are so many special holiday events & so much beautiful decorating that I want to see.

I am going... to have a nice quiet low-key weekend.

I am reading... lots of blogs this week, in an effort to finally catch up on my Google Reader. Almost there!

I am hoping... to get up bright & early to get my sheets & towels washed this thing Saturday morning, before the laundry room gets busy.

I am hearing... the end of Jeopardy.

Around the house... is clutter. It is maddening. It will be corrected this weekend, now that I've recovered from last week's fun but busy plans.

One of my favorite things... is Dunkin Donuts Apple 'n Spice donuts.

I don't understand... how Derek Jeter won a Gold Glove over the Rangers' shortstop, Elvis Andrus.

I wish... people wouldn't touch things on my desk at work. It drives me nuts!

A few plans for the rest of the week... are mundane: housework, errands, relaxing.

A picture to share... found at Hollywood Studios last week, this just cracked me up.


Food & Wine Festival 2010: Round Five

We started Saturday's excursion just after the World Showcase opened for the day with...

Strawberry Angel Verrine. Dark Chocolate Sensation. Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rose.

What? You don't believe in starting a meal with dessert or having champagne at 11am? Sometimes you just have to live a little. I kind of expected to like the Dark Chocolate Sensation better (because, hello, CHOCOLATE) but it just seemed heavy to me. This may or may not have had something to do with the fact that it followed the extremely light & delicate Strawberry Angel Verrine, which was all airy angel cake with strawberries & cream & a wee bit of custard. Not to mention, I went with the sweetest BUBBLES! they had to offer. Not saying the chocolate wasn't good, though, because it was. I just liked the strawberry dessert more.

Once I had licked my plate, we set sail for...

Cheese Fondue with Croutons and Roasted Potatoes. Nueske's Charcuterie Plate with Applewood Smoked Beef, Duck and Ham.

First, there is just no way that melty cheese can possibly be bad. As for the smoked meats, I liked the beef the best. The duck was a little too...something for me. The ham was just ham, which I have on my own frequently.

We stayed "local" for our next tasting, hopping just one booth over to...

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta.

The soup was creamy cheesy goodness with a bit of potato in it. The sausage & polenta were tasty, but I enjoyed them less than the soup. I really only had a taste of each. We were sharing so we had room to try more things in...

Creme Brulee au Chocolat au Lait

I'm pretty sure very few desserts provide more satisfaction than the tapping of the caramelized sugar on the top of a creme brulee. It was surprisingly light, both in taste & texture, but so very yummy. Just enough sweet, just enough chocolate, just enough weight to it to be enjoyable without leaving me too stuffed to move on to...


I had been waiting on this dish forever, it seemed. And it was so worth the wait. That was a little piece of pork-stuffed cabbage heaven.

It took some time to free up some more space. I had a nibble of dishes Nichole & Daniel were sampling but really just enough to get the flavor of it (my rule for photos was it had to be something I ate at least a whole mouthful of, so nibbles didn't count) but it took me nearly a full lap to find the space for...


This was delicious. I wasn't sure what to expect from the description: Chocolate-Covered Butter Cake. Now I know why they left it at that. It couldn't have been put into words. The butter cake was rich-tasting but not at all brick-heavy. The chocolate frosting was lick-the-fork-clean good. And the coconut was just the right addition. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have selected a better way to end this round.

Just one last circuit remaining...


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