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Napa Valley: 5k, Wineries, Pup

Happy Monday! I have a fun weekend to share with you all!

My parents and I went to Napa Valley and took the pup. The whole area is actually really dog friendly, so we had no trouble finding a place to stay, eating out, and visiting wineries with a dog in tow.

The real motivation for this trip was actually to run the Silverado Trail 5k. I ran this race 2 years ago but did the half marathon. I have to say, as I sipped on my wine the day before the race, I kept saying, “wow, I’m so glad I’m not doing a half marathon.”

We left around 11:30.

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And arrived in St. Helena in time for a late lunch at our favorite, the Bistro!

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I started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. When in wine country, right?

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I love these big, clear, beautiful glasses.

We split a grilled artichoke.

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For my meal, I actually tried something different from my typical avocado salad! I had a salad with apple, pineapple, feta, and grilled chicken with a mango honey vinaigrette.

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Despite sitting in a car for 2 hours prior, Chloe was an angel thanks to a new bone that completely dyed her paws pink.

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Next, it was time to make our typical St. Helena stops. The pet store, because Chloe obviously needs more toys.

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Olivier, an olive oil and gourmet foods store for balsamic vinegar and truffle oil and salt.

And of course, Woodhouse Chocolates.

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Then, we checked into our dog-friendly cottage at a bed and breakfast in Calistoga. (Complete with kitties!)

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After watching an hour or so of a very depressing Giants game, we headed to dinner at the dog-friendly Calistoga Inn and Brewery. Beer flight to start.

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For my pre-race meal, I had a grilled chicken salad and a side of creamy parmesan polenta.

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For dessert, we shared lemon-blueberry icebox pie.

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Before I knew it, it was 5:30am on race morning! I made sure to keep my Achilles warm all morning before we left. Thankfully, I woke up with it feeling awesome. Chloe was WILD when we arrived at the race. She’s been to a few races now, and she goes CRAZY when she sees me run away from her. She seemed to know what was going to happen, so she was all over me all morning! She almost completely took me out when we were waiting for the race to start, so when I wanted a pre-race pic with her, she had to be at a distance.

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(Look at those views in the background!)

I was fairly bundled up because temperatures starting in the 40s and I’m a baby, but it was clear it was going to quickly turn into a beautiful day as the sun came out.

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A few minutes after 8:00, we were off!

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The race started on a track, and as we left the track, everyone in the front (including me) turned the wrong way! We were quickly turned back around, but that was not expected!

I actually took some photos as I ran because it was so beautiful and I ran with my phone.

This was a smaller race. I think the half was actually the biggest race. I found myself pretty close to the front of the pack, although I was definitely feeling faster than normal also.

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The 5k and 10k started together, and before I knew it I was at the 5k turnaround. And suddenly…there was almost no one in front of me. There was a group of 3 wayyy in front (like 4 minutes ahead of me), but there was nobody near me in front or behind for a pretty big distance. What?? It was the craziest feeling to be running alone near the front at a race.

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And then we were done!

I love how Chloe is airborne in this picture as she comes to greet me post-race.

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I was really happy with how this race went! I was hoping for 8:30ish pace because I wasn’t sure how my Achilles would hold up, but I felt good so I went with it. My Achilles got sore within the first mile, but it wasn’t sharp and it didn’t get worse. I actually beat my pace from my last race a month ago, despite hardly running at all during that time thanks to my tendonitis. It really goes to show you how effective cross training is!

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After the race, we walked to a coffeeshop, Yo El Rey,  for breakfast and coffee.

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I had a decaf iced latte (it warmed up a lot outside!) and a GF apricot muffin.

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We got cleaned up (well, I got cleaned up) and checked out of our cottage and then headed to V. Sattui. I went there with my dorm last year and really liked it, plus it’s dog-friendly!

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They have a really nice deli there, plus BBQ on weekends. We bought a couple of bottles of wine to drink outside with lunch. My wine of choice was the Sauvignon Blanc, which I remembered enjoying from my previous visit.

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We bought some nice herb gouda with GF crackers, and I had a caesar salad.

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Thanks to past Aurora’s blogging, I remembered the creme brûlée there was insanely good. Past Aurora was definitely right. YUM.

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And some scenes from V. Sattui. The grounds are beautiful.

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Wine train^

When your glass is empty so you just take a picture with the whole bottle:

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On the way out, we stopped at the gelato cart. My mom and I split mango.

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Out final stop was the dog-friendly Mumm, which specializes in champagne.

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I’ve actually only had Mumm sparkling rose, so I was excited to try some of their other bubbly!

We snagged a table outside and did a toast trio tasting.

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Chloe actually nearly broke half these glasses. She was sitting calmly under the table when another dog came by and barked at her. She jumped up, barking, knocking all the glasses. SOMEHOW, the only casualty was a spilled half glass of champagne, thankfully!

Then, it was time to head home. Near home, we actually tried to get the Unicorn frappuccino (hey, apparently I’m a sucker for marketing. We were all curious!) but the Starbucks we stopped at was all out. Darn.

After a race and wine tasting all day, I was in need of nutrients and hydration! I broke out our new aged white balsamic and made a salad, along with egg whites and fancy cheese, and leftover roasted sunchokes.

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For dessert, I tried making flapjacked cookies with greek yogurt instead of butter or applesauce, and I think I liked how they came out! I think I didn’t cook them enough though. Interesting, they were much lighter in color and fluffier! Huh! I also added some Easter m&ms.

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And that, my friends, is a wrap!

Full Day of Eating—Not Quite Right

Hello, hello! I’m off to Napa Valley later this morning, but first I’m hitting you with a full day of eating from Friday!

I started my morning with 20 minutes of HIIT on the spin bike+a Blogilates Ab workout.

8:30am: Breakfast

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2% plain Greek yogurt with sunbutter and KIND cinnamon granola+a navel orange from our CSA.

12-1pm: Lunch

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Another smoothie! This one was a much more drinkable texture and tasted amazing, but I could tell it wasn’t enough food/calories. Half a cup of frozen blueberries, a handful of spinach, 2/3c milk, and half a packet of flapjacked chocolate protein smoothie mix.

3:15pm: “Snack”/Lunch #2

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Leftover roasted carrot, grape, and quinoa bowl (with chicken) and a probiotic drink. Yeah, I need to stop packing meals immediately after eating breakfast when I’m full because this wasn’t enough calories either. I was physically full thanks to the volume of fizzy drink, but I was pretty hungry by dinner and feeling depleted.

This day of meal was a little bit of a fail because I didn’t get enough food in early in the day, so I was a little too hungry at dinner, and I had a lot of calories to make up which doesn’t make my body happy.

This day of work was SO much quieter than the previous day which was very much needed.

7pm: Happy hour+dinner.

When I got home, we split a new craft beer 3 ways. Then, we got takeout from our favorite Mexican place, which I honestly don’t think I’ve had in over 2 years.

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I got teriyaki tacos: rice, peppers, chicken, teriyaki sauce, fruit, cheese. I skipped the flour tortillas and ate the insides.

On the side was a simple salad with goat cheese and white balsamic, carrots dipped in guacamole, and a few bites of my dad’s rice and corn tortillas.

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8pm: Dessert. Chocolate halo top, half a piece of banana marble bread from the freezer, fudge sauce, and whipped cream.

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9pm: Typical rice cake snack. Why is this so good? Half whipped berry cream cheese, half whipped chive cream cheese.

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I definitely feel like I could have done better with this day of eating. Honestly, I know how much food I need numerically and I should have trusted that, rather than decided, hey, I’m not hungry now so I won’t be later. Oops. Lesson learned.

Check back in Monday for a recap of our Napa adventures, and to see how my Achilles fares with a 5k race!

Full Day of Eating (New Plan)+Best Frittata

Hello, hello! Before I get into a full day of eating from yesterday, I wanted to share a frittata we made the other night that was inspired by our CSA box goods.

The frittata had a little spinach, steamed broccoli, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper, and some interesting onions from our CSA. They looked sort of like massive green onions, but with red bases. Either way, delicious! We topped the frittata with truffle goat cheese (OMG yum) and served it with basic green beans also from the CSA.

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I’ve mentioned before that with my work schedule, I don’t get lunch until pretty late, and what I was trying simply wasn’t working for me. I tried to figure out what wasn’t working and brainstormed a solution. I think it was a success! Here’s a day of eating implementing what I came up with.

I went to a 6:15am spin class first!

7:30am: A more normal breakfast. Flapjacked muffin+amazing mango.

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Lunch: 11:30-2 I made a smoothie that I could sip on around lunchtime, which worked out really well because it’s hard for me to get a break to eat something but it’s much easier to grab a sip of something here or there. The only fail was the smoothie was super thick and hard to drink without a spoon. And I made a giant mess that morning making it.

I used half a flapjacked strawberry banana smoothie mix and added 2/3c milk, half a frozen banana, about 2/3c frozen strawberries and a handful of spinach.

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I put it in one of those thermoses that supposedly keeps things cold forever.

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Work was absolutely insane yesterday. I knew I was in trouble when I walked in and multiple people told me how happy they were that I was there (I work the later shift). The first thing I did upon walking in was get bitten by a supposedly nice cat, and it just went downhill from there. It was one of those days where I just felt really incompetent. I know how to do any normal things, but some treatments I just haven’t seen before and therefore don’t know how to do. The smoothie was a godsend for keeping my energy levels up and not praying for my lunch break because…

3:55pm: Lunch. Normally I get lunch around 2:30 or 3, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. I packed leftover frittata and some GF crackers. Plus a ginger chew.

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4:15pm: Lunch dessert. Normally I stay away from work treats, but this was so needed. It’s a mint ice cream filled cannoli, that I ate the center out of.

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8:30pm: Dinner. Normally I don’t eat that late, but I ended up staying until a quarter to 8, and when I got home I had to immediately strip down and shower because I was working with a possibly contagious dog. Do not cross go, do not put anything in your mouth, straight to the shower. I had a favorite Cooking Light meal (already made) of a Roasted Carrot, Chicken, and Grape Quinoa bowl. I think the yogurt-cumin-carrot-grape/raisin flavor combo is one of my favorites (which is why I loved one of our sun basket meals so much!) On the side were roasted sunchokes. I saw this in the CSA and decided to go for it.

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They tasted sort of like roasted beets, but less earthy. I’m not 100% sure how they were prepared, but I think it involved boiling and then roasting, and some sort of garlic thyme seasoning. Served with ketchup, because hey, it’s a root!

For dessert, I felt like I needed quite the bowl. I heated up part of a frozen GF brownie and served it with vanilla Halo Top, hot fudge, and whipped cream.

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While watching a show with my parents, I also dove into a little bit of Easter candy.

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I definitely think my new plan helped how I felt throughout the day, so I’m happy about that! Hopefully today will be less crazy, and it will still all work out!

 

Why Bodybuilding and Fitness Youtubers Appeal to Me (But I’ll Never Compete)

Hello, hello!

I have something a little lengthier to talk about today, but first I wanted to touch on a few eats!

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Monday night, we had grilled pear and grilled chicken salads with goat cheese. You can definitely grill pears, and they’re definitely delicious! On the side was roasted sweet potatoes (I could seriously eat these all day, every day).

Leftovers became my lunch salads two days in a row, but with champagne vinaigrette and fig goat cheese.

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Wednesday night, we had to break out the champagne one last time for vet school applications because I got called off the wait list at Cornell. I ended up declining (brrr), but I had originally stayed on the wait list because I wasn’t sure what I would decide if the choice came. Excuse the interesting outfit, it is courtesy of the need to change out of scrubs after work.

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For anyone interested, I do plan on talking about my vet school application process at some point, in case some pre-vet runs across it.

Dinner was BBQ chicken salad with guacamole.

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Aaaand onto today’s topic. This was something I’ve been thinking about for the past few days, and finally decided to touch on it.

I was at a party with college friends I hadn’t seen in a while last weekend, and one of them commented that I look fitter. This was really interesting to me. Because honestly, I feel like I look fitter, but it’s really hard to judge myself, you know? This had me thinking about some changes I’ve made. I mentioned about a month ago that I was stepping up my diet, and I do think I’ve made some progress since then, and it’s honestly been really easy.

If you followed my transformation story that I posted last year, after gaining weight in college, I lost around 20 pounds over the course of my senior year. One of the biggest reasons I was able to do this was I had a shift in mindset; after dealing with stomach issues, I now had to eat to feel good and feel healthy (which I discuss in this post).

I think one of the most significant changes in my mindset was taking the emotion away from food. Suddenly, my health and how I was feeling was more important that looking a certain way, or weighing a certain amount. I also got to the point where I was comfortable with myself and I trusted my body to not freak out after overeating here or there, which took away a lot of stress. Sure, occasionally I emotionally eat. But it’s not every day that I feel the need to stress eat, so when it happens, I let it happen (or look for a slightly healthier alternative) and accept that as part of life, and know that one day or one meal won’t change anything in the long run. *That being said, if you find yourself stress eating every day, I think it’s important to look at the root of the problem (why are you constantly stressed?) and change something, because constant stress is not sustainable.*

In the last year or so, I started watching fitness youtubers. I watch them for meal ideas or workout inspiration, but it turns out, a lot of them do bodybuilding competitions. It seems like every youtuber has done a bikini show at some point. I find body building incredibly fascinating. It’s science and the knowledge of the human body in its purest form: you eat xyz, you do xyz workout, and these changes happen as a result. I think it’s so cool. You make changes in your input, and the body changes as a result. The current trend is to track “macros” or the macronutrients carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and eat them in a certain ration to achieve results. I think this is a really cool manipulation of the human body. That being said, I can confidently say I will never count macros because 1. that is way too much effort and 2. I don’t have any goals serious enough that any of that really matters.

One thing I’ve been enjoying lately is listen to fitness podcasts while walking Chloe. The only one I’m really listening to now is Amanda Bucci’s podcast, and it’s interesting to hear some of these discussed in more detail, as well as to hear more background about other “fitness personalities.”

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(As seen on today’s walk.)

The podcast I listened to today was about building muscle and losing fat. It got me thinking about my own food and fitness direction in comparison. In terms of “goals,” I can’t say I have any desire to do bodybuilding, no matter how trendy. Nothing against it, but I really do what I do to be athletic. Some of these body builders consider low intensity cardio versus HIIT and talk about specific training splits. I’m just not that serious, and really just have the goal of being athletic (and i guess look athletic as a byproduct?). In my line of work, I have to be able to hold a 100 lb dog and be in weird positions restraining animals for long periods of time, and contort myself to something with an animal such that the animal is more comfortable and less stressed (our comfort never matters, haha!). I like to be able to run fast (relatively) and lift heavy things and feel strong. That’s my goal. Training for life, right? And it’s totally fine to have different goals!

What I was bringing this back to was that I like the bodybuilding approach to food and fitness in the way that it takes the emotion out of food. It’s science, which is what rely appeals to me. While I don’t count macros, I do count calories. And because I’ve gotten to the point where there’s not as much emotion attached to food, they really are just numbers to me that I can manipulate. I’ve learned what numbers (and at what time) work for me, and I can objectively shoot for those. I’m OBVIOUSLY not perfect, but the numbers and data driven approach really does appeal to me.

That all being said, another thing that I think helped me progress a lot was being honest with myself. The last couple of weeks, with a new and funky eating schedule, I tried one approach but felt blah, and often found myself craving more things. I took a step back and said, “hey, this isn’t working for me, knowing what I know about my body, how can I change things?” I think in the past, I might have thought, OMG I’m overeating, what’s wrong with me, let’s do this extreme! Versus now, I unemotionally analyze what the problem might be and try to solve it.

Anyways, those were just some thoughts for me on this Wednesday. I’m off to get my allergies retested, which should be interesting! You know I’ll share that later!

Easter Weekend

I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter, or just weekend if that’s not your thing!

Saturday, I had work all day and then met up with my family for dinner by work. I had a salad with dried cranberries, gorgonzola, chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette.

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Naturally we had to get froyo as well. I had triple chocolate, chocolate sorbet, and taro with chocolate covered raisins. The taro was a fun, different flavor!

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After dinner, we began dying hard boiled eggs.

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Later that night, I went to a college friends’ party and saw a ton of people who I haven’t seen either since graduation, or since before going to St. Louis in August! It was really nice to catch up with people and hear what they’re up to now. I ended up staying up far later than planned, but it was definitely worth the next-day drowsiness!

My first order of business on Easter Sunday was a 3 mile run. I’m signed up for a 5k in Napa this coming weekend, and the most I’ve run post-tendonitis is 2 miles. I knew 3 would be a bit of a push, but I wanted to try it out. It felt totally pain free for 1 mile, then a little sore from 1-2, but not getting worse, and then maybe a tiny bitter better at the end? Not a bad pace either, which I was happy with! The struggle was my achilles felt better at a slightly faster pace, but my running fitness has definitely declined a little bit!

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I returned home with plenty of time to get ready for Easter brunch.

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We met up with my college friend (her family is back in Tennessee), my sister and her fiancé, and my grandma and uncle at a nice hotel with a fancy Easter buffet lunch/brunch. While I decided it would be worth it to have some gluten for Easter, it was really nice that everything was labeled, and there were some GF options, so I could be smart about what I wanted to use my gluten allowance on!

Here are some pictures of the buffet:

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We started the meal with a bottomless champagne toast!

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I started my buffet experience with breakfast.

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My main item here was the cheese blintz that I ate the inside of. I figured I should have a little substance there too, and the beet hummus cup was too pretty to pass up! I got a few pieces of cheese with fig spread and honey, and then saw gluten free muffins and had to snag a cranberry one! It was SO good!

Plate 2 was main course items. I remembered how much I enjoyed the jasmine rice before, so I made sure to get that again. (We went here for Easter 2 years ago).

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I also had chicken, sushi, and a salad with quinoa, butternut squash, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.

Then, it was time for dessert! I made sure to take lots of pictures of the full set up, because #priorities.

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Different desserts were definitely passed around the table a bit, but here was mine:

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Oreo cheesecake (SO good), flour less chocolate cake (disappointing), chocolate mousse cup, chocolate covered strawberry, mini raspberry cheesecake, and the highlight and my main gluten splurge, bread pudding with vanilla custard sauce. YUM. I definitely didn’t come close to finishing this, but I left not feeling like death, so that’s always a positive!

After our big meal, we were lucky enough to catch a break in the rain long enough to go outside and hunt for Easter eggs.

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Yes, 4 college graduates did an Easter egg hunt. No complaints here. I definitely munched on candy while surveying our treasure!

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So, who wears them best?

We spent the rest of the afternoon sipping tea and chatting, before I brought my friend home.

My appetite after a big meal surprised me, and I definitely was craving veggies post-Easter candy. Naturally, dinner was an Easter egg open faced sandwich, with a simple side salad.

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Monday morning, the Easter fun continued with a very festive breakfast post-Crossfit.

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Before lunch, we went to the grocery store and happened to find breadfruit, which I’ve been dying to try. I’ve heard it tastes like a cross between a mango and a pineapple.

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I thought it was good, but definitely different. It’s not juicy at all. And I have no idea how to eat or cut it. But it’s a fun fruit!

Lunch was egg salad on GF toast, salad, and cheddar popchips.

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Which brings us to now. I’m leaving to teach spin in a little bit, and have a game night with friends planned later tonight. I hope everyone has a good week!