DOUBLE WHAMMY

I’m not quite sure who pressed the fast forward button on my life, but I’d like them to SLOW IT BACK DOWN.
I swear I was just unpacking, wearing jean shorts, and trying to figure it all out. Now, I’m living on the go, bundled in multiple layers (and beanies!)…and still trying to figure it all out.

August and September were FULL of old & new - friends, food, experiences, and more!

FOOD THINGS

I know the debate in chicago is always about deep dish - I did try gino’s east - I still am not the biggest deep dish fan, but it was pretty damn good!
Another place I always hear about is big star - this queso fondido - oh boy is good (although I would still prefer la vecina’s)
atwood - cute little place off of michigan, I without a doubt need these plates in my life & my crab cake sandwich has me itching to book a flight to the east coast.

coffee shops consistently steal my heart -

  • two zero three - trendy little spot in the bottom of the virgin hotels

  • sparrow coffee - a naperville spot with homemade syrups and amazing outdoor seating

  • sawada - ah, this place is home to me. the black camo latte is a must try - hojicha tea, a green tea roasted over charcoal, as the base along with espresso

  • the cutest little sign in a glenview starbys

this is just a glimpse of the homemade goods -

  • avo breaky toast with farmer’s market tomatoes & sourdough

  • veggie bowls - literally every meal at home

  • granola - essentially just an avenue to make your apartment smell amazing

ALL ACCESS > ALCOHOL

although football has been a huge part of my life the past 5 years…i’m not the biggest football fan. so heading back to iowa city for the home opener, was a little anticlimactic. not only were majority of my friends working the game, i am used to having all of the access and i have literally no access. don’t get me wrong it was greaat to see everyone (especially my nuggets), but I’ll take all access over tailgating anyday.

also, I’ll never pass up a time to get all the goods iowa city has to offer - mainly marquee.

  • stracciatella - now if you’re a newb to the blog, you don’t know that this is god’s gift to earth in form of carbs & cheese

  • salad - its an obligatory order…I’m obsessed with the pickled onions

  • CRUDO - (the one with greens) - parmigiano, caciocavallo, garlic, back pepper, arugula salad, prosciutto

    • Insanely fresh tasting, the caciocavallo was the main flavor profile for me

  • Boop There It Is - Garlic, basil, spinach, tomato, caciocavallo, pecorino, ricotta salata, lemon

    • I literally could eat this za every single day, simple enough but the flavors compliment each other perfectly.

the new kid on the block (literally) is 400 rabbits - a speakeasy in the back of La vecina. The production of the craft cocktails are seriously impressive.

my last mandatory stop while heading out of town is dash coffee - always a little sassy.

TIME FRIES BY

As yall know by now - MY NEW JOB IS working for a french fry company. something that they put on for all the zones was a potato iq …yes an entire trip based on potatoes.

we learned about our generations of fries, all about our plants, and had a cook-off. And yes, my team won. I had the opportunity to put faces to names and meet a lot of new people - some that I get to call friends!

we were also insanely spoiled on this trip. one night we were at a beautiful vineyard - with honestly one of the best meal's I’ve had. another night, we rented out a wood fired pizza place and were wined & dined all night long. also, let’s please look at this view I had every morning.

FRIEND THINGS

so thankful to be in a location that lets me see some of my favs - casual catchups in iowa city, all of the sporting events with my bestie’s fam, and cheering on the hawks!

finding friends is such an interesting thing - how do you even find them? thankfully there have been a couple avenues to explore & engage in some pretty awesome peeps.

mutual friend introduction that ended in an absolutely amazing spread on the rooftop.
Church friends that start at a coffee shop and end with whiskey & the deepest most meaningful conversations.
was fortunate enough to see a super talented girl sing & praise in worship.
lastly, but not least - a friendship that i’ve been super thankful for. not only is my friend awesome, but her fiance slays the kitchen. they also have some pretty bomb friends that are always down for a game night….pizza & laughs. count me in.

IOWA CITY IN THE CITY

One of the perks of living in a major city is that the big headliners come to Chicago to perform. Now two of my best friends are BIG JoBros fans. Yes…the Jonas Brothers. Although I only knew about 5 songs, I can’t deny the bros put on one hell of a concert and it was an amazing night.

The more important thing is the food…We tried out the newest place on the riverwalk - Portofino. The view is amazing, the ambiance screams Italy, and we all know I don’t stray from pizza, bubbles & bourbon.

  • Portofino spritz - grapefruit, prosecco

  • Focaccia di Stefano - Thin, Crispy Sheets Of Ligurian Focaccia Stuffed With Stracchino Cheese

    • Take what you think of focaccia and throw it out the window - this is like the best cheesy cracker you’ll ever have

  • Burrata Diavolo - Spicy Tomato Sauce, Imported Burrata, Mama Lil's Peppers, Prosciutto

    • This was spiccccy - the flavors were on point, but I could have used a little bit more burrata to calm down the spice. And I mean, who doesn’t want more cheese?

  • Due Funghi - Roasted Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Porcini Crema

    • I LOVE MUSHROOMS! I can’t fully explain the flavors of this za, but my mouth just started salivating if that tells you anything at all.

  • WTF: whiskey tango foxtrot - buffalo trace bourbon, lemon, grapefruit, amaro

    • Who doesn’t love a drink called WTF?

FALLING IN LOVE

now, I’ll be honest - this transition has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. i’ve tried to take this fear that I’ve had moving to a new place and just thrust all of my courage into this huge place with endless opportunities.

I think moving to a new city, I thought I would be a new person. All though, running through the city can be a GREAT stress reliever after a long day at work…the verdict is still out - I am NOT a runner…But I DID run a 5k. Granted, they did hand out mini Stan’s donuts throughout the race and a full size circle of heaven post race…but I still did it.

One of the best things about this city is the markets & fairs everywhere. I am definitely not numb to the fact that I am so blessed to have all of these beautiful gems at my fingertips. Whether that be the farmer’s market full of the freshest goodies or art fairs where people’s talents are on full display. I have the hardest time at the fairs, I literally want to buy everything - so I grab all the business cards and look ‘em up later.

The city has also opened up SO much opportunity for me. For one, I love walking everywhere that I can. Your eyes are opened up to so many more things and even silly things (like this pizza tootsie roll pop that I, of course had to stop and take a picture of).
One thing that I am very grateful I stumbled upon is Breakthrough - is an organization that focuses on a radius on the west side of Chicago. I started with a simple block party and have transitioned into 8th grade girls mentoring…let me tell you, I’m learning a LOT.
Lastly, is the start of O/Groups - which are the small groups with my church, Oasis. It is such a blessing to have a young community to meet up and be vulnerable and grow with.

Also, can we talk about these VIEWS?!

FAITH THINGS

This city has made me grow in so many ways, but thankfully it has always had me grow in my faith. to really let go & trust. I’m by no means great all the time, but the more I dive in - the more I feel at peace.

This place I call home, oasis is such a strong community - gah I love them.
all of the doodles as I journey my way through the bible.
witnessed about 100 high schoolers get dunked as they declared their faith for jesus - I barely know the kids, however I couldn’t help the tears streaming down my face as I was able to see all of this happen in front of my eyes.

when all else fails - buy New necklaces, get in some family time, read inspiring quotes & eat ice cream cones.

TIME TO REFLECT

I’m a broken record and stating that this was yet again another crazy month - with a lot of travel, family, and time to reflect.

FOURTH OF JULY

We all know the 4th of July is a day of remembrance and reflection, but now that will forever have deeper meaning. As the holiday was coming up, I already made plans to fly to Dallas on the 4th to spend some time with family; however a few days prior we found out that my Uncle had a severe heart attack and had been critical in the hospital ever since. When I touched down in DFW, we received the news that my Uncle had passed away. I couldn’t have been more thankful to have been with parents during this time - it made me appreciate so much more the couple days I had with them and so grateful that I had booked this trip home.

The sister & bro-in-law drove in for dinner and we all gathered around for a teary cheers, delicious food & overly loud fireworks. Mom & dad served up these street corn nachos, burrata tomatoes, ribs, and fresh fruits.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT

The rents and I took advantage of one day in Dallas with rooftop drinks before they headed to Pella, IA to be with my aunt.

This allowed me to spend some unscheduled QT with Mikeezy - which of course included Summie snuggles and deep convos over old-fashioneds.

REFLECTING & REMEMBERING

I was fortunate to be able to head to Pella myself and spend time with my aunt, g-rents, cousins, and additional family.

It was a blessing to be able to go through boxes of memories and spend time reflecting on my Uncle Dave. I found this sweet poem as well as an old photo of my mom (who looks exactly like me as a child).

My dad and I were also asked to speak at the service - Dave read a note written by one of Uncle Dave’s sisters and I read quotes picked out by the grandkids. It was amazing to see everyone who came out to love & remember Uncle Dave throughout the days I was there.

PARENTS IN THE CITY

The parents then made their way to Chicago for an originally planned trip. It is always sad that sometimes it takes hard moments to realize how lucky we are - but this time was a great opportunity to soak in all the good times with all of the family.

My mom found these awesome events through SoFar - they are “secret gigs & intimate concerts”. You sign up for a neighborhood, then 2 days prior to the event you receive the address and you don’t know who is playing until you show up. We were all a little skeptical as we had no idea what to expect, but it was one of the most fun night that I’ve had. Our venue was an event space mansion with 3 VERY talented singers/rappers.

Of course, there was some boozing - like beers for breakfast at Chicago’s 2nd oldest tavern - (after lots of walking), wine for happy hour (in my aunt & uncle’s beautiful remodeled kitchen), and old-fashioneds for dinner at Sal’s Trattoria (because why not).

This is the SMALLEST glimpse of all the food we ate. Avocado toast at Public House, the most AMAZING cinnamon buns at Gemini (I also had a salmon platter), Greek chicken at a new neighborhood gem Avli (we also had tarama & saganaki).

My aunt & uncle never disappoint with the goods - hummus platter, caprese skewers (Trisha where you at), and a home cooked dinner…which was MUCH needed after all the eating out.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

The traveling continues as I head to Iowa City to move out of my old apartment and officially say goodbye to IC. We all know I am obsessed with Sam’s baby, Marquee, however he has a new kid on the block - La Vecina and OMG yall…

Needless to say - Brandee and I ordered EVERYTHING.
Queso fondido - chorizo rojo, chile toreado, ancho chile, queso mixto
Avocado Tacos - crunchy avocado, sunflower seed, walnut salsa macha, pickled jicama, cilantro, chipotle aioli, coconut cream
Aguachile de Camaron Ceviche - grapefruit, pineapple, shrimp, guajillo chile oil, crispy garlic, avocado
Pulpo Veracruz - grilled octopus, crema de aji amarillo & saffron, olive chimichurri ** THE BEST THING EVER
Rumchata Tres Leches…do I even need to explain.

The last shot showcases the insanely beautiful open space kitchen where EVERYTHING is wood fired. My only great is not being more hungry to try more things…I can not wait to go back and try more things on the menu. Way to go Sam…way to go.

HUSTLIN’ FRIES

The best holiday ever lands in July…National French Fry Day! With my job, I had two food events - one celebratory event & one food show - both full of fries & fun.

SISTER SISTER

With work taking me back to Dallas, I got yet another couple more days with the fam. This included sister walks & coffee time at Merit, insanely solid sweat sessions at Fit Social Club, falling in love with this spot Brewed & Pressed, and of course Summie snuggles.

HOME AT LAST

There was VERY minimal time in the city but I still managed to try a new coffee shop, Dark Matter, which fits my dark & twisty needs; enjoy my favorite morning sunsets; and hit up an indoor farmers market, Bellis. Not pictured - the one thing I hate about traveling is missing my Sundays & Wednesdays at Oasis, I still managed to make a few - but am so thankful for the community I’ve begun to build and the power I’ve been able to see.

IN WITH THE OLD

Although the pod took a July hiatus, I continue to cruise through the Old Testament and doodle along the way.

THE REFLECTION

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This month took a toll on me - mentally and physically, but it really caused me to reflect on so many things. How blessed I am - The fact that I am able to travel around, spend time with family and friends, and build new relationships is AMAZING. I look back on where I was a year ago this month, and I am BLOWN away. I was struggling with a relationship, a job and with myself. I have been able to reflect on how fortunate I am to have the people I have in my life, to be able to LOVE people and to SHOW them love, TRUE LOVE. It’s always cheesy to say this when bad things happen, but show people you care. Show up, pick up the phone, send the text - never regret going unsaid. Build the relationship, with your family, your friends, and most importantly with God. Be thankful that we have that opportunity every single day.

TIME TO STEP INTO AUGUST WITH NO BULL - TO WORK HARD & PLAY HARDER





Figuring out my “new”

Well yall…I thought April to May was crazy, but the past 5 weeks have been insane and a LOT has happened. Here’s a look at all the travel and little bit of word vomit.

IOWA CITY

May as well start off with a bang right? I had a quick little visit back to Iowa City, for a few small life moments 😉

I mean for starters…I got baptized. HA…just something small right? This was definitely an out of body experience, that I cannot really explain at this point, but felt so blessed to go back to my home church, tell my story & be surrounded by those that started this journey with me.

A marquee stop was a MUST, as well as one of my good friend’s wedding – which was an ABSOLUTE blast. I mean I DANCED…if you know me at weddings, this is not a thing, so it was a pretty BFD.

IDA-WHO?!

As yall know my know, I work for a potato manufacturer, which means their HQ is in Idaho (ironically majority of our potatoes are NOT grown in Idaho…if you want some Potato 101 – hit me up. )

WHO KNEW IDAHO WAS SO BEAUTIFUL?!?! Seriously, these views were insane. Our VP of Marketing drove us around town and showed us some amazing parks that blew my mind.

Downtown Boise had many great foodie choices (again surprised), and we went to Alavita– I opted for a 120 day barrel aged Manhattan & pan seared halibut. We all shared this board, which was an interesting twist on a charcuterie board – you were able to pick meats, cheeses, and jars. My favorite was the salmon rilette jar.


My coworker and I also made Bardenay our stomping ground for the week for some easy apps and cocktails. Another pleasant surprise? They served Fresca…FRESCA! Nobody serves Fresca. Tequila Fresca is now my new favorite drink. Oh and don’t worry, we tried some product - here we feature some seashore puffs with fry sauce…with is another thing that I learned about in idaho.

FRIENDS IN THE CITY  

One of the best parts of this city is the attraction for people to visit, including my best friend Trisha! Last time we were in Chicago together, it was for our Chicago Food Fest, but this was a lot more tame. Not pictured: the belly laughs, the multiple hour long talks sitting on the floor, fitting 3 people in a queen size day bed.

We started at Pops, because this girl doesn’t come to the city without going to Pops. The Bellini Coupette is always a showstopper for the peach gummy. I also tried a new one for me – El Diablo - which featured smoked salt and it was FIRE. This was followed up by a journey to Royal Palms, which was definitely a journey as we were thrown into a blast from the past of oldschool Florida country club. . Where we watched some of our friends play shuffle board and gorged on late-night food truck grilled cheese. DISCLAIMER: Our “late night” was approx. 9:30, with us landing in bed with popcorn by 10. Seriously a night out of my dreams.

Another one of our friends came to the city to join us…and yall I LOVE hosting people. Ask Trisha, I was giddy making this charcuterie board and planning to have 3 people in my solid 450 sq ft apartment. We putzed around town for drinks and ended up at Barrio. I was trying to be “healthy” and ordered a salad…little did I know it would be larger than my face. But don’t you worry, I did not disappoint and cleaned my plate - and let me tell you it was amazing, the chicken was the showstopper. We ended the night at the Roof on theWit for a cocktail and late night views. We were a little out of place in our leggings while everyone started rolling in with their go-to club dresses.

BRUNCH BUDDY

Do you ever meet somebody online and think…why aren’t we friends?! Well that was the story for me and my friend, Kelsie. She lives in the city and once I moved here we knew we had to meet up, so we have decided to take the city one brunch spot at a time.

We have only marked two places on our list, but we have a loooong way to go. First was Whisk, where the whole restaurant is dedicated to Ron Swanson and let me tell you….I am here for it. The second was Princi, which I guess is a Starbucks Reserve…but yall, let me tell you about the za’s. You walk in and there is a whole counter of endless focaccia style pizzas. Dead. Done. Goodbye.

DISCLAIMER: From here on out is a bit of a word vomit. If you are only interested in the food and don’t really care (don’t blame ya) then I’d recommend to skip to the Recipe Roundup for June.

CHICAGO, COFFEE & CONFESSIONS.

I don’t know if y’all know, but this is a pretty-cool city. I will confess this hasn’t been the easiest transition, but also hasn’t been the hardest. I didn’t realize how much of a routine I had in Iowa City, until it was taken away. Once the moving high and miscellaneous travel died down, I realized how alone I was. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a cry for help – its just an adjustment. I have people in Chicago. I have a good group that I know I can call if I want to do anything or need anything. The only thing is I had MY people in IC…the ones where you show up unannounced or sometimes “doing something” is watching Netflix. It has pushed me to grow so much and to be so much more comfortable with myself and EXPLORE! Lucky me, I am in one of the best cities to explore. I have been able to get out and just do what feels good to me at that moment.

One of those things is trying new coffee place every week. So far I have tried Hero – a small little joint in an alleyway, Fairgrounds – this is in the bottom of the infamous Cindys sports club building, fun hipster vibe; and my favorite so far, Groundswell – a spot in the West Loop that serves a golden milk turmeric latte, which is apparently my new jam

This city has so much more to offer than I ever thought. One is night time views at the Riverwalk (having a drink in hand doesn’t hurt), where you just happen to run into a friend from middle school church. Or even going to a concert…BY MYSELF. I was looking to see what events were happening to avoid traffic and saw that Jimmy Eat World & Third Eye Blind were performing close to me. After debating all day, I said screw it, bought a ticket and ventured out. It was GREAT (minus the 2 hour delay due to weather). Lastly, but definitely not least…I have been running. Now if you know me, you know that is practically a cardinal sin – but after 12 hours of being inside an office/car the fresh air has been calling my name. And I have been pretty impressed with my distance if I do say so myself.

GOD IS GOOD

That’s the facts of it all isn’t it? As I continued my church shopping, I thought it would be a good idea to do a “double-header” day going to two services back to back. I felt so good about my dedication to finding my new “home”, and then Chris Durso dropped some (truth) BOMBS at Oasis as he was the guest pastor that day. He preached on Student vs. Scavenger - how so many of us are scavenging for someone/somewhere to get A word rather than going to THE word. It really opened my eyes how I have been “scavenging” for a new home. I have let my heart settle at Oasis and as soon as I did that I have made a few small connections that make a community seem very hopeful.

I am just thankful for my walk in faith right now – I would have never thought in a million years that Wednesday Night prayer meetings and Sunday mornings would be my highlights of the week. I always leave on such a high and am trying to stay within that feeling everyday. To live in the scope that “comfort is not a solution to seek; rather, it is a by-product we’ll reap when we stay close to the Lord.”  Another piece of this faith journey has been sharing my story and how much I have realized that touches over people. With that, I wanted to hear more on other people’s stories and lives. I love talking about food, fitness, and faith and so I decided to start a podcast about all my favorite F WORDS! But don’t worry, I am not losing the slicebaby appeal – so I introduce you to SLICE UP YOUR LIFE. I have only started to dabble, but look forward to talking to more people and hopefully touching more lives.

Check out episodes – HERE or search Slice up your life on apple podcast.
WANT SOME RECIPES? CHECK OUT THE JUNE ROUNDUP

July, I’m not sure I am ready for you, but there’s no turning back now.

RECIPE ROUNDUP (JUNE)

Turns out, being away from my apartment for 12 hours everyday has made it a little difficult to cook every night…so I became a new found meal-prepper. Now let me say, I totally understand the reasoning and convenience of meal-prep, but I genuinely LOVE cooking a fresh dinner every night. HOWEVER, walking in the door at 6:30 pm, starving did not work out well (cue ALL of the snacking). I found a balance of meal prepping for the week and diving into all the yummy fresh meals on the weekends.. Oh I also have started to use Himalayan pink salt and I am never going back.

SLOW MORNINGS

My ideal morning is sleeping until about 7:30 , reading a little bit, followed up by a solid sweat sesh in and then eating a massive breaky.

SHAKSHUKA

Okay I'll admit I cheated and bought the TJs starter kit, but still made it my own

  1. Chop up zucchini & spinach, saute & add shakshuka kit
  2. Follow instructions to add eggs to "wells"
  3. Sweet tater chips - slice thinly and broil on each side about 3-5 minutes

THE REPEAT

Now don't get me wrong I LOVE bread, but I cannot have that in my house so rice cakes win. They bring so much flexibility. Oh also omelette is a must.

  1. Sautee all the veggies (mushroom, spinach and peppers, etc)
  2. Pour 1/2 cup egg whites over veggies and cover and let cook on medium/low heat until eggs are settled (fold and you have an "omelette")
  3. Top rice cakes with all the things - my favorite is avocado, chicken & a RUNNY egg.

THE STAPLES

As I mentioned - meal prep has become a thing for me and TRUST me, NONE of these are difficult by ANY means.

FRITTATA

Makes 3-4 servings

  1. Saute your choice of veggies (I opted for diced bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini)
  2. Transfer veggies to greased baking dish
  3. Scramble 4 eggs and .5 cup egg whites and pour over veggies
  4. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until eggs have settled

SALAD

  1. Roast julienne sliced peppers & carrots on 400 for about 30-40 minutes
  2. Cook up some chicken and shred / dice
  3. Mix 1 bag of arugula & crunchier salad(my fav is the cruciferous crunch from TJs but their cole slaw is solid too).
  4. Add the chicken & veggies and dress with the TJs Green Goddess

BLENDED BURGERS

Makes 3-4 servings

  1. Dice and saute 1 cup of mushrooms, spinach and 1.2 bell pepper
  2. Mix with ground turkey (1 pkg - 16 oz)
  3. Season like crazy with garlic powder, spanish paprika, s&p and a little chili flake
  4. Form into pattiese and cook in coconut oil about 4-5 minutes each side

RANDOMS

Whether it’s satisfying my late night sweet tooth or making goods for others, these have more than sufficed.

DATE BARS

You need: 1 cup dates, 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup PB *optional - honey, cinnamon, chocolate

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor - add honey / PB to make sticker and come together
  2. Place in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and form into one large bar shape
  3. *Optional but advised - drizzle with melted chocolate
  4. Freeze for 1+ horus and slice up!

CINNA CAULI BITES

*inspo from @lettuceturniptheeats on insta

  1. Bake TJs cauli gnocchi at 400 for 20 minutes
  2. Mix with 1 tbsp coco oil & cinnamon
  3. Bake for another 15-20 minutes
  4. Now I stopped here, but I do think the drizzle that she commends would be killer ideas (which was cocoa oil & syrup)

That’s all folks.

Honk if you love fries!

Now as you may have read, I just started a new gig with a company NAMED Lamb Weston - aka a potato company - aka FRIES! It turned out that the week I started was also NR (no not guns, restaurants.) so there were many activities on the horizon. One of the main items on the agenda was the Flavor Forays BBQ and Cook-off., which is said by food industry insiders as a “must attend,” and I wouldn’t disagree.

FRY TRUCK

This year was the 22nd annual event and my company was one of the sponsors. I really had no idea what to expect other than the fact that we were going to facilitate a fry-truck. I walked into Galleria Marchetti, which is a gorgeous indoor/outdoor space that I can only imagine hosts its fair share of weddings, and right there was this beaut of a food truck


The set up was sweet - people were able to walk on up to an iPad and select their type of fry:

  • straight cut

  • crisscut (aka waffle)

  • puff (aka tot)
    Then they were able to select their toppings:

  • Windy City Smoke - pulled pork, fennel cole slaw, bbq sauce & smoked salt

  • South of the Border Spice - skirt steak, elote, chihuahua cheese & tajin

  • Golden Asian Fusion - roasted cauliflower, fried carrots, orange soy glaze, cured egg yolk

The South of the Border seemed to be the hot pick of the afternoon…I’m just not a big corn lover (I know, I am a disgrace to Iowa). The WIndy City was all that you would imagine it would be - creamy and refreshing with the slaw that is always the best companion for some solid bbq. I opted for Asian Fusion crisscut which was best described as an explosion in your mouth, which seemed to be pretty accurate. I thought crisscut would be the perfect base for this set up - you know a little more surface area for the goods. This held true, but it also made it a full hands on experience. I will say, if you wanted a more classy eating option - I’d go for the puffs…a little more fork friendly.

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Here’s to me hopefully not gaining the Fry Freshman Fifteen.