Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Origin of the Tortilla – Valley Scene Magazine

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Link to the online article –  http://www.valleyscenemagazine.com/cooking/
 

The Origin of Tortillas

 

As I attempt to eat these chips and salsa while drinking a margarita without making a mess on my laptop, I will also attempt to make your tummies growl with this peek into the origin of the ever so loved – Tortilla.

 

First, we must delve into some early history – so take notes, there will be a quiz when were finished. In the 16th century, the Aztec Empire in Mexico was ambushed by a fleet of Spaniards led by Hernán Cortés. When his army anchored off the coasts of Mexico, Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, sent them lavish gifts and plentiful nourishings in hopes to keep them at bay and away from their capital city. Well, that plan sure backfired. The gifts of gold and such just compelled Cortes and his men want to search for their original destination – and they went a huntin’. After a period of devastating battles, Cortes had claimed victory and the capitol was destroyed and replaced with Spanish monuments and laws. But as much as they changed the appearance of prior Aztec region, they could not demolish the deep and rich culture which thrives even today. And part of this culture was indeed the wonderful foods that had been around for centuries. And may I now, introduce the loved…the versatile…the tasty – Tortilla (take a bow, tortilla).

 

Maize (now known to us as corn) was a principal food for the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans and countless groups of North American Indians. It supplied them with starch and protein which is what gave them their necessary energy.  No part of the grain was wasted and the Incas even were known to produce ‘chica’ which was a beer made from maize.

 

The maize was typically dried and ground into a powdery substance known as mesa. In those days this was the process the women endured making the beloved tortilla:

 

          A woman working with a stone slab known as ‘metate’ would grind the soaked kernels into mesa.

 

          She would then take a piece of mesa, about the size of a golf ball, with her wet hands and pat the dough until it is flattened into a round cake less than an 1/8 of an inch thick.

 

          The cakes (raw tortillas) would be tossed onto a hot pan, known as ‘comal’, for just a few seconds on each side. They would brown slightly – and viola!

 

Used as bread, plates, forks and spoons there were and are many ways to eat a tortilla which is commonly referred to as ‘the bread of Mexico’.  Ohhh, those tacos filled with meats and cheeses…or those burritos stuffed with beans and rice…even the wonderfully saucy enchiladas – tortillas have brought joy to our taste buds time and time again.

 

Stated by The Tortilla Association (TIA), “Thanks in part to the widespread popularity of Mexican and Southwestern cuisines, Americans love tortillas. In fact, tortillas are more popular today in the U.S. than all other ethnic breads, such as bagels, English muffins and pita bread.”

 

They also found in an Industry survey in 2002 that tortillas gained 32 percent of the sales for the United States Bread Industry and that they followed bread sales by a mere 2 percent!

 

Not too long ago, grocery store tortillas came in two forms – flour, being the soft white kind and corn, being the yellow, crunchy variety. Today there is a plethora of types available: whole wheat, gluten free, roasted red pepper, jalapeno, tomato and garlic, low carb and so many more. And this isn’t even including the shelves stocked with copious assortments of tortilla chips.

 

Perhaps you would like to make your own tortillas. For you adventurous, kitchen lovers out there, here are a few recipes:

 

 

From Cooks.com here is a very simple recipe for homemade corn tortillas:

 

Ingredients:

1 c. cornmeal
1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. salt

 

Directions:

Pour boiling salted water over cornmeal and stir. When cornmeal is cool enough to harden, shape into then flat cakes and cook on an un-oiled hot griddle until brown on both sides. Makes 8 servings.

 

 

 

From Mex-recipes.com this is recipe for flour tortillas:

Ingredients:
 2 cups all purpose flour
 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
 1/2 tsp. salt
 1/2 tsp. baking powder
 3/4 cup warm water

Directions:
In a bowl, blend flour, salt, baking powder and shortening until it resembles fine meal.

Add warm water, a little at a time, to flour mixture and toss until liquid is incorporated. Water amount will vary with different flour types.

Form dough into a ball and kneed on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide, and make 12 smaller balls. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.

Cooking Tortilla:
Roll each ball of dough on a floured surface to make 6 or 7 inch sized tortillas. Place on a pre-heated griddle or cast iron skillet and cook till medium golden on both sides.

Remove to a basket lined with a cloth towel or put between towels until cool. After the tortillas have cooled completely, store them in a plastic bag. This recipe will make approximately 12 flour tortillas.

 

Tortillas have become to bread as salsa has become to ketchup. Mexican traditions are deliciously becoming more mainstream every year. As our tables and stores reflect that, so do our pallets. Needless to say, I will be having Mexican food tonight because in my attempts to make your tummy growl…mine is sounding like a lion over here!!

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Friday July 27, 2007

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I am so friggin pissed off. I wrote for an hour….very long blog…it wouldn’t publish so I copied it and it STILL won’t paste and seems to have disappeared!!!!!!! OH MY GOD. That makes me very angry.
 
 

So, I will write this in Word and paste it here. Flipping, friggin, bbahdhaksjhfkjsdfhksjdhg…

 

Anywho…..

 

So, my mom is likely having surgery next week. We were hoping that she would be able to have it done as a laparoscopic procedure, but it turns out – that is not an option for her. That is such a disappointment. So now the surgery will be more invasive with a longer recovery time and hospital stay. I cannot wait until it is over. I hate worrying about this all of the time. I will not be able to stand seeing her in pain, so I really hope they are able to control that well. I bought her a couple books, a robe and a night gown to help keep her comfy during recovery (which should be about 6 weeks).

 

I am not sure how much I will be on next week – the hospital is in Milwaukee and I will want to see her as much as I can. But I will update when I can. Please keep her in your thoughts!!

 

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Today I went to a chiropractor for the first time. My neck pain is still here and it has been about a week now. I really liked her. She was very nice and explained EVERYthing which is especially good for OCD-types such as myself. She examined me and I have a couple vertebrae in my neck that have fused together and a couple in my back which have shifted. Just pressing on those areas and I knew something was off. One spot in particular – when she pressed on it, it was SO tender. Right at the base of my head and not even the spot that has been bothering me this week – the other side. Anyway, once I felt it, I realized that I often massage that area subconsciously and have for many years. Especially when I have one of my bad headaches. She thinks that my headaches could very well be linked to that problem. She also said that one in particular will be more difficult to loosen, but it shouldn’t be a problem. She gave me an adjustment and it was so weird!! I have always been a cracker. And by a cracker I do not mean a Caucasian – though I am. I also do not mean a saltine – which I suppose I could be one of those too. But I have always cracked my knuckles, neck and back ever since I was a kid. But man, today, I heard things crack that I didn’t even know I had!! At one point I CRACKED up (sorry) because it sounded so ridiculous…like an off stage sound effect or something. I really hope it helps – especially at 20 bucks a pop.

 

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I have been in the process of looking for a dress for my brother’s wedding which is in 28 days. I am having a God awful time. I HATE to shop. And I hate my body. In the past 2 weeks I have had to shop for a dress and a swim suit. Can you say PURE HELL??!! Can I not just wear a moo-moo for the rest of my days??

 

Anyway, I found the dress pictured below online and I really like it. My mom also likes it and even agreed to pay half. But I think it is so ridiculously priced I don’t want to buy it on principle!! Well, that and I am broke. But it does meet the requirements I have been looking for: A non-V neck (my cleavage is out of control and needs to be hidden) and a non-waisted dress. This combo is SO hard to find. Anyway, what do you think of this dress??

 

 

 Dresses - ROMANTIC CHARMEUSE TRIM DRESS

 

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So, the kids are doing well. Mackenzie is in summer school and she goes on some elaborate field trip (water parks, rock climbing, fun zones…) every single week. Don’t kids ever just have to PLAY anymore…use their imagination?? It is like they need constant stimulation and entertainment. It is really quite ridiculous really. She will be starting second grade soon and I know she will be excited. Time really flies.

 

Speaking of time flying…where the hell did my baby go?? Someone took away my little baby one night and replaced her with this little person who talks back, makes jokes and insists there is a monster in her shade. Her latest thing – she will be in a room and announces, “I not being naughty….but don’t come here – okaaaaayy???” Derrrr. She cracks us up though. Everyday it is something new that makes us do those hidden crack ups. At least she stopped swearing. LOL. That didn’t last long, but we were worried there for a while.

 

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I wanted to give a shout out to Jack. I haven’t talked to him in quite a while. I need to give him a call. But in the meantime – in case he reads this, which I highly doubt – I just wanted him to know that he does pop into my head and I do miss talking to him!!

 

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 Charlie and I are going to Florida in about 6 weeks. My body is so not ready – but I am. Ocean, sand, waves, salty air, warmth…can someone explain to me why in thee hell I live HERE??

 

I really have been working on the weight thing. The past few weeks I went from doing 30 mins on my treadmill a day to 60 mins. Yet the scale isn’t budging. I am also day 3 into the Slim Fast diet. Totally lame – and expensive. So I am not sure how long that one will last.

 

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Well, I better get going. Nutter Butters is up from her nap and I am being beckoned to the Polly Pocket corner. Why can I not be beckoned to the nap corner?? I also have 2 more CD reviews to write. Ugh. Why do I even bother? Its not like I get paid. Hell, I don’t even get a thank you. I am sure no one even reads them, so what is the point???

 

Complain complain….I know…I know….

Monday July 23, 2007

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Hi there everyone. I hope you all had a great weekend. The weather here was great. I wish I could say I took full advantage of it – but I didn’t. Oh well. Next time.
 
Saturday we did a bit of shopping so I could look for a dress for my brother’s wedding and a swim suit for vacation (and maybe swim classes for Cassidy). Dresses and swimsuits are my most depressing things to shop for – as most women probably. But I hate shopping to begin with – so the whole thing makes me uber depressed.
 
I have been increasing my exercise to vomitous (only because I hate exercise to begin with) levels. I have been on my treadmill EVERY day for at least an hour a day. I am doing lunges constantly and my arm weights almost everyday. This weight just doesn’t want to budge. Very frustrating.
 
I wish I could say these are my biggest stresses, but no. My mom is in a lot of pain due to her enlarged kidney. They did a test on Friday and found that there is a blockage that has caused her kidney to fail – probably many years ago. She has decided that she wants to have it removed ASAP because the pain is genuinely affecting her life.
 
She will be in contact with a Dr. in Milwaukee this week and hopefully they can schedule the surgery soon so it can just be over with. The waiting is the worst. We are also hoping that the surgery can be done laprascopically – which would mean less pain, less hospital stay and less recovery time. So – I am really crossing my fingers for that option.
 
I hope we can find out more today.
 
Several times a year something happens to my neck. It gets really painful and stiff and I cannot turn to one side. I have no idea why this happens but it is a pain in the…well…so yesterday I basically laid around and did very little. Did my treadmill (of course) and watch a couple movies while doing some laundry. I watched ‘The Dead Girl’ which was actually quite good. Fabulous acting by some wonderful woman actors. And I also watched ‘Diggers’ which was okay. Interesting enough. 
 
This morning my neck still hurts and again I feel like doing nothing. I will give Cass her bath, either play in the yard or go to the park and that is about it.
 
Anyway, hope your day is a good one. Talk at ya soon.

Glory – Glad You Asked

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Here is the link to the online article:
 
 

Reader asks, “I’m in an airplane, it’s about to land, plane is above the cloud, it’s sunny, lookout the shady side of the plane, and see a round rainbow with the silhouette of the airplane in the center. What is this phenomenon called? I saw it once in Hawaii and once at Mitchell.”

 

The phenomenon this reader is referring to is called ‘glory’.  It can also be known as anthelion.  Glory happens when the plane is flying in the sunshine above the clouds and only if the sun is behind the vessel. The view is caused by diffraction of the sunlight. The rainbow is seen because the cloud droplets reflect the lights back to our eyes. The rings of color can vary in size and sometimes there may only be one ring while other times there are many.  The halo and the shadow of the plane are always seen together – as the circumstances must be just right. And what is being seen is called an anti-solar point, which is an imaginary point that is exactly opposite of the sun. The physics being the phenomenon are truly not understood and what is known is far beyond my scientific grasps. 

 

Before airplanes, this gorgeous view could only be seen by those who happened to be atop a mountain. In those days the sight was known to some as the heiligenschein or the Specter of the Brocken.

 

This phenomenon is quite complex for a simpleton like myself, but I found it to be very interesting and look forward to hopefully seeing one with my own eyes some day. 

Have a Heart, Give a Heart – Glad You Asked

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A Reader asks:

 

The recent plane crash in Lake Michigan revealed that a lung donated in Wisconsin was being transported to Michigan.  For several years, Wisconsin built up its organ donor program by emphasizing that Wisconsin residents would be given first priority for organs donated by Wisconsin residents.  Has that situation changed?  If so, how? 

 

Gwen

 

Great question, Gwen and thanks for asking! As I have recently started watching the new show Heartland – organ donation has been on my mind as well and I find the topic very interesting.

 

To research your questions I called The Wisconsin Donor Network and spoke with a very helpful woman, Colleen.  In short – her answer was “No, that procedure has not changed.”

 

She further explained that when a donor becomes available and organs are viable for transplant, the first places they check for recipients are St. Luke’s in Milwaukee and Froedtert and Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.  If there are no eligible recipients at those locations the search goes on to UW-Madison and then regionally (Michigan, Illinois, etc.). Then, if there are still no candidates, a  national search begins.

 

So, organ transplant speaking, we can certainly say that Wisconsin does it’s best to serve their own first. Not only do we have each other’s backs – but our hearts, lungs and livers as well!!

 

On a personal note – I urge everyone to become a donor…it could be the best thing you ever do!! Have a heart – give a heart J 

Light Bulb Disposal – Glad You Asked

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Here is the link to the online article (as you may notice, they did not print exactly what I wrote  )

 

http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2007/07/17/local_news/22143800.txt

 

 

Reader asks, “With the new energy efficient bulbs, it says they have some sort of mercury in them and not to dispose of them in the garbage. How do you dispose of them?”

 

Thank god for this question being assigned to me – because I had NO idea these bulbs could not be put into the regular garbage! But sure enough, upon inspection of the fine print of my energy efficient bulbs (that happen to be in just about every light socket in my home) – it certainly does say right on there “Contains mercury – do not dispose in garbage”. Boy.

 

So, I called the City of Racine Public Works Department. I was informed that Racine CITY and Sturtevant residents can dispose of these and other household hazardous waste items at the Household Hazardous Waste site which is located at 6200 21st Street just north of Sam’s Club.  As I said, this site is ONLY for these residents and you will need to show driver’s license or a property tax bill as proof of residency.  The site is open every 3rd Saturday from 8am – 1pm.

 

I, living in Mount Pleasant, was curious as to where a non-city resident would be able to dispose of these bulbs. After contacting The Village of Mount Pleasant I became aware that if you live in Mt Pleasant or Caledonia – its not just the light bulbs that are screwed. Apparently the hazardous waste site for these areas had been funded by government grants and that grant was not approved for this year. I was basically told that our best option was to find a person in the city who can dispose of them for us.

 

So, if you live in the City of Racine – you are set and now know where to go. If you live in Mount Pleasant or Caledonia…I hope you have some city friends and if not – time to make some!! 

 

 

Fishing Pier Woes – Glad You Asked

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Here is the link to the online article:

 

http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2007/07/14/local/22138381.txt

 

 

Journal Times reader asks:

 

The old section of the south pier is badly in need of repair.  A big 5 foot section has fallen away, where you have about one foot if pier section left to walk through.  Other large cracks have also developed and are falling away, and if this isn’t corrected, we will lose the pier altogether to the elements.  Many people use these piers for fishing.  Who is responsible for maintaining both the north and the south piers infrastructure, and why aren’t they being maintained?

 

Thanks,

 

Bob W.

 

 

Well, Bob, at first I thought I wasn’t going to get anyone to own up to the responsibility for the piers. I first contacted the City of Racine Parks Department who then referred me to Racine County Public Works who tried to pawn me back off onto the Parks Department. But before too long, I did receive a call back from Glenn Lampark, an employee with the Racine County Public Works, and he did in fact assure me that they were responsible for those structures.

 

Lampark informed me that the county does periodic monitoring of both the South and North Piers and that they are aware of the deterioration.  Some repair was finished a few years ago on one section of the South Pier. And while there is no current plan in place to repair the existent damages, they are reviewing the matter. He said that it was primarily an accessibility issue and not a structural one as the pier itself is stable.  He says it is the outer concrete portion that needs to be fixed, but the pier is in no danger of completely disappearing.

 

Much of the South Pier is still just fine for fishing according to Lampark. The Eastern portion especially is used frequently. And there is always the option of using the North Pier.

 

So, while I went fishing for answers in hopes there would be some good news for you, Bob…turns out there may be bigger fish to fry in the budget and that this wouldn’t be top on the ‘to do’ list. However with ample options for fishing in this city (be it lakes, rivers, ponds or streams) – I am sure the local anglers can always find a place to cast their line. Keep reeling ‘em in!! 

My Mom

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I just got back from staying with my mom last night. She called me yesterday morning to tell me some scary news. Well, first, her lower back has been in pain for about 2 years. She has gone to her Dr and Chiropractors. It had been getting worse and she finally went in for an MRI. She assumed she would probably need to get cortisone shots or something – that there would be back damage for whatever reason. Anyway, apparently they saw something on the MRI that suggested she had a problem with her kidney. The next day she had a Cat Scan. This was Thursday and Friday. She didn’t tell me until Saturday morning because she knows how much I worry.
 
It turns out that one of her kidneys has completely lost function. It is not working at all and likely has not for quite sometime. Her blood work is all great and normal. She is very healthy otherwise with perfect BP, Lipids and blood sugar. She is not overweight and only 53 years old. No reason to ever suspect something like this. We are assuming it is a congenital problem she may have been born with perhaps.
 
Her GP told her that she will need to have it removed or it could cause toxins in her body that would be fatal. She is seeing a urologist tomorrow and probably a nephrologist shortly thereafter.  The surgery will likely have her in the hospital a week or so with another 6-8 weeks of recovery. She will then be depending on the one kidney.
 
Needless to say, I am very scared. I can think of nothing else for more than a minute. I cannot lose her. I couldn’t handle that. So, I may not be on so much. I will want to be with her as much as I can and at the hospital as much as I can. But, like I said, we dont know too many details right now.
 
I love her so much and she is my closest friend. My only friend. Not just my mom. I am sure she knows that. Ugh. This whole thing is making me sick. Literally. I threw up (TMI  – I know) tonight. Why can’t things just be happy and smoothe EVER.

Friday July 13, 2007 – ooooo scary…..

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Long time, no write. Man…what a busy time it has been!!
 
Charlie was off for 11 straight days and went back to work on Wednesday. Things are starting to feel normal again, but not quite. I am sure next week Cass and I will get back into the swing of things.
 
During that time I did not get on the computer much…and I actually liked the break!! We remodeled our small bathroom and it looks great. I have some pictures in the July 2007 Album. And I bought a new Story People print for above the john. I just love it. I love all of them though. I am not a huge ‘artsie’ person…but I just love those prints. Here is a picture of the one I purchased:
 
 
 
 
It is a bit hard to read here, but this is what it says:
 
Make sure you got clean underwear, she always said, in case you get in an accident & I always figured that’d be the least of my worries, but now I’m older & I see there’s a lot you can’t control & some you can control & clean underwear is one of those you can. For the most part.
 
I just love it. My favorite is also in there on another wall. That one says:
 
What are the rules? I said & she said, Do exactly what I want whenever I want, make no demands of me whatsoever & love me forever, no questions asked & I said, how do you win? & she said, you don’t understand. I’m the only one who wins & then she laughed & clapped her hands. Isn’t it a great game? she said.
 
Anyway, I love the new bathroom and the hardwood flooring.
 
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We had a cookout on the Fourth of July. It was nice. I was BEAT tho. I started cooking and cleaning 2 days prior. Charlie was working on the bathroom and new back door. I made WAY too much food. But it was a nice time. Wish people had stayed longer. So much work into it and everyone had to leave by 4. It was a long day for everyone, I know. Plus people had other engagements as well. I was so happy to see my friends John and Tom who I hadn’t seen in a long time as well as all of our family.
 
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I have really been stressed out lately. So last Sunday I went to Pleasant Prairie to stay in a hotel for the night. It was relaxing. I ordered two movies – Waitress (soooooo excellent) and Reign Over Me (also good, but not quite as good). I got some room service. I painted my nails. And I just lazed around. It was nice, tho I have to admit…not nearly long enough to get over all this tension and stress. Hopefully our trip to Florida will be long enough for that. That is early fall. The next day Charlie and Cass came down to get me and we went swimming in the hotel pool (it was almost 100 out those 2 days) for a while, walked around the outdoor outlet mall and got some lunch. It was a good day.
 
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An old friend of mine – one of my best friends in life – got married at the end of June. She moved out to Maine years ago and I see or talk to her very rarely. Paige and I lived together for a while when I was 18 (and stupid and irresponsible). After that, we never seemed as close…which made me very sad as I felt I was the cause of that. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding 4 years ago and does make it home to visit every couple years. Anyway, she was in town this week for a visit after her wedding. She had a casual reception for her Racine people at the Yacht Club. It was so nice to see her and meet her family. I had never met her husband before now and he is really nice and seems very down to earth. Her 6 month old daughter is SOOOOO adorable. I almost thought about baby-napping her. Anyway, they left this morning and I am bummed. Didn’t get much time to spend with her. And if you read my posts regularly or know me fairly well…you know I do not have many friends. I have had a handful of very close friends in my life and they all seemed to have half way disappeared. Paige, Kim, Tony, Kevin, Erin, Tina, Laura…if I hear from them at all it is via email. They are all out of Racine now…expect Kim And Kevin may still be here…not sure. Anyway…it is hard to make new friends. I want REAL relationships and am not good at the whole surface fakey fake thing.
 
ANYWAY….I will miss Paigella. And I hope it isn’t too long before I see her again.
 
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I am really at a crossroads, I feel. Either I decide to stay stagnant and make no changes in my life right now. Or I really pursue getting a part time job (had a phone interview this week for a CSR at Johnson Financial). Or I may take a two day Reiki class after which I (if everything goes well) can practice Reiki on others. The Reiki class is about 150-200 bucks and I just don’t know if I want to spend that not knowing how I will feel about it all or how it may affect my anxiety or heart issues. With getting a job…I haven’t worked in 4 years about. To have to wear office clothes, be on a schedule, bring Cass to daycare much more often…it is all just scary. The typical Heather wants to take the easy (but not always easy) road and stay put until Cassidy starts school. But there is a lot that can be gained by getting out in the world again. Adult interaction, extra money (which we seriously could use) and just using my mind. I don’t know. I think I am waiting for some big sign. Think it will happen???
 
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Well, ’bout time for me to get some stuff done now that she is down for her nap. Talk at ya later 🙂