Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the dark crystal

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Nope, not this one....

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...this one.

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This asshole and a bunch of his smaller cronies tortured my husband for 2 weeks. 

It started one Sunday afternoon, in late January. Danny came running up the stairs to lay on the bed next to me, gasping for air and telling me his back hurt really bad. We thought it was a muscle spasm. I've never seen him writhe, sweat and moan in pain before. After an hour or so, he went to the bathroom and then he felt better. TMI (as someone with ongoing intestinal issues, I thought maybe he was just a bit backed up, but nomypoopisjustfineneveraskmeaboutiteveragainhowcouldyouwhy. I've found that people that don't have poop problems are horrified that people that do talk about them! with each other! in public! Hey, just knowing that I'm not alone helps, ok? Geez.)

He had another episode on Wednesday, so I called the Dr and made an appointment, but since he's never been to this particular Dr, we had to wait for a longer appointment time. His appointment was for the next Monday morning.  Then the weekend came. Saturday and Sunday were particularly bad, he was in bed the whole time dying and writhing. He was on the floor half the night, contorting himself into crazy positions trying to crack his back, trying anything to get the spasming to stop. On Sunday night, he said he was having bladder pain, and then I knew it wasn't muscular. It had to be internal. I added the bladder pain to his symptoms, (of course I had been googling) and kidney stones popped up immediately. 

We went to the appointment and after a lot of questions and a pee test, the Dr confirmed my suspicions. (Googling your symptoms isn't always bad) He said that Danny had probably passed stones during each of the episodes, and that the last one must have been larger because there was blood in his urine. He ordered a CT scan and bloodwork. 

We went and got the bloodwork done, and collected the giant jug that he had to pee in for 24 hours (yes, it's as gross as it sounds) The next day we went to the hospital to get the CT scan. Danny was in disbelief. He just thought he was having muscle spasms, and was a bit freaked that we were in a hospital. He got the results that day, (so nice!) and they saw that he still had a 4mm stone left to pass. 

He wasn't too thrilled. The stones form in your kidneys, pass through your ureter, down to your bladder, and then out through, well you know. The ureter is only 3-4mm wide. No wonder he was in so much pain! Having a sharp rock shoved all along your insides, ugggghhhhh! They say it's men's version of childbirth, and I believe it. Except that you never know when it's going to happen. That was the hard part for Danny to deal with, and being an anxiety ridden person, I totally get it. 

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Say hello to our first born, Rocky Horror.

He felt horrible all week. Friday night was particularly bad, I don't think he got much sleep. But Saturday morning came, and Danny yelled at me to come and look- yes, at his pee, but far more importantly, the large stone had passed! And you could see it! Gross!

I told him to save it. He laughed and said ew, no way.

But he did.

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It's a crumb, really. But it's very sharp, all around.

To prevent these sorts of stones forming, you should drink lemon juice in water regularly. But he won't do it. He loooooves lemonade, so I guess that's good enough. He's been drinking it like crazy ever since. 

I'm so glad it wasn't something worse, because there are far worse things than kidney stones. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

cookie monster

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If you've been following me on instagram, you've seen allllll the cookies I've been baking lately. I love cookies, and I will not give them up just because wheat makes me sick and sugar give me zits. So, here we go. Deliciousness!

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1 cup browned butter, at room temp    *see notes!

(or 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp)
1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar 
1 egg, plus one egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups gluten free flour    **see notes!
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 bar of the darkest dark chocolate you like, chopped
(1/4 cup coconut chips)

*You need to make the brown butter beforehand. I use Plugra or Kerrygold unsalted butter. It needs to solidify again before you can bake with it. The best way to do this is to follow these instructions for making brown butter. The brown butter gives these cookies a depth that is just amazing. It goes really well with the coconut sugar. If you want, you can substitute regular butter. But try the brown, it's soooooo worth the extra time!

**I tested this recipe with two different gluten free flours: the Cup for Cup brand, and almond flour from Digestive Wellness. I like the Cup for Cup the best. I found it at Whole Foods. The almond flour is okay, but I like the texture of the other better. The almond flour you can get at the grocery store (Bob's Red Mill) isn't ground finely enough for baking. Believe me, I've tried it and the texture is strange and very un-cookie like. It's better suited to savory dishes.


Brown your butter, and let it cool on the counter. It will take a few hours, or overnight. I like to keep it in a glass measuring cup, stirring every so often so that the milk solids get distributed evenly. 

Heat your oven to 325.

Measure out your dry ingredients into a medium bowl and set aside.

Put the browned butter and the coconut sugar into your stand mixer's work bowl. Fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high for 3 minutes. 

Add the egg, stir to combine, then add the other yolk. Once it's incorporated, add the vanilla. Beat on high for 5 minutes. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks (and coconut) and mix until just combined.

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Scoop out using a blue handled scoop or a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Place on a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet, 6 to a pan. Bake for 10-14 minutes, the edges will be browned and the middle will look set.

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These cookies are darker than normal cookies. It's the coconut sugar. They will look a lot browner than normal cookies. 

Makes 10 large cookies, with a little leftover cookie dough for you to nom on.

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Most of the batches I made, the cookies were too fragile and crumbly. They were good, but I had to bake them in mini pie pans or they would spreaaaad out like crazy. Spread out they were too thin, they tasted much better when they were thicker. I didn't want to saddle you guys with having to bake cookies in a special pan, so I kept working. And hooooooray! 

So get out your mixer and bake some cookies!

My favorite chocolate and coconut chips to use:

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86% chocolate is the darkest I can find at Whole Foods. I loooooove it. It's so smooth for such a high cocoa content! The darker the chocolate, the less the sugar.

I'll have a square or 2 of this after dinner sometimes. It totally satisfies my chocolate cravings.

Dang coconut chips are delicious. I found them at Safeway. I used to buy the trader joe's brand, but it has sugar. The Dang ones don't!

Friday, March 14, 2014

paleo-fied, a novel

It was October, and I had just had my yearly super fun visit to the Dr.

When the nurse weighed me, I almost died. I knew I had gained weight, but I was 10 pounds heavier than I thought I was! Over the summer I had been eating "heathy" and was going to the gym. I thought I was doing good, but damn, ten pounds? I also had just gone bra shopping- and had to buy a D. A D!! Whoa. My wedding ring had been so tight on my finger that it was giving me a rash. I had to take it off. I hate being without it my pretty pretty diamond!

With these 3 things, I decided drastic measures needed to be taken. One of Danny's colleagues is Paleo, and lost 60 pounds in a year. And our friends Aniyia and Marco have been Paleo for years, and swear by it. So I did some research, and asked Danny to join me.

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Hint water is amaaaaaazing. My favorites are the blackberry and the watermelon.

30 days. We could do this. But we needed some help. I went by Whole30's website and used nom nom paleo's recipe app's 30 meal plan. I made the first weeks grocery list, went to Whole Foods and thought my cart looked totally foreign filled to the brim with eggs and veggies. Then I almost fainted when I saw the total- now I know why people call it Whole Paycheck!

I also visited the butcher, he's within walking distance and features all grass fed and pastured meats- and he's cheaper than Whole Foods.

Every meal was fantastic. We had bacon and steak and green beans and cauliflower fried "rice". The recipes are so flavorful. The first week was rough- even though I was eating really good food I had no energy and was feeling pretty awful. I spent a lot of time reading in bed. The only thing I could really do was cook.

My head was so foggy, I couldn't really focus and I just felt sick. When this continued into the second week, I grew concerned. I read up on "wheat withdrawal" and it seemed to fit my symptoms. I decided to add dairy back into my diet- adding some carbs seemed to help some people. I found some greek yogurt with a low sugar content (plain greek yogurt is just too tart for me) and organic cheese sticks. I eat the yogurt, and apple and the cheese for breakfast. (I got sick of eggs for breakfast reaaaaaal fast.)

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Easy Paleo Frittata from nom nom paleo.

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Chorizo with peppers and eggs from nom nom paleo.

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Asian Cauliflower fried "rice" with fried eggs from nom nom paleo.

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Sweet Potato Hash with fried eggs from nom nom paleo.

It totally helped. I tolerate dairy just fine, so that's not an issue. Even though we were eating plenty of food and feeling full, both of us still felt "hungry" all day for the first 2 weeks. It was odd, feeling full and hungry at the same time. I guess it's your body adjusting to burning fat instead of sugar. We didn't miss bread or pasta. Which is so strange to me- I looooove bread.

But I did crave sugar. OMG did I crave sugar. Not treats like cake or cookies or ice cream, but just sugar. Eating brown sugar by the spoonful seemed reasonable and totally normal. It did go away though, just gradually.

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On day 31, we had cheat day. I made waffles for breakfast (Danny's favorite) and I had a can of Dr Pepper waiting in the fridge for me. After about an hour after breakfast- I got the worst headache ever. And whole body achiness, like I was getting the flu. I laid in bed the rest of the day (no joke) and swore off wheat and sugar forever.

Then we traveled to Utah for Thanksgiving. We tried to eat as Paleo as we could, but it was hard. So many of my favorite foods- like brugges chocolate waffles, potato naan from Bombay House- off limits/not worth it. But there were some compromises- like Kneader's turkey bacon avocado sandwich was a no-no but the salad version wasn't. I tried to eat my Vegetable Coconut Korma without rice, but indian food without rice is not nearly as good.

Old habits die hard, and I allowed myself to drink Dr Pepper while we were there. Something about being home just isn't right without it. I noticed that sugar didn't affect me nearly as negatively or as quickly as wheat does, which made me very happy.

What I did notice, however, was about a week later, once we were back in San Fran, is that I was breaking out like crazy. Like so so crazy. Huge hormonal cystic breakouts. The worst was on my face and back, but also on my chest, neck, arms and upper legs! So sugar gives me zits. I thought that was a myth! Dammit!

I continued to have Dr Pepper throughout December. I swear, having a cold one while I sew or do anything requiring brain power helps so much. I can get SO MUCH done when I have one, versus what seems like slow brain function and less creativity without it. I hate to admit this, but it's true: quitting soda is 100x harder for me than quitting drinking alcohol was. I mean, drinking alcohol for me meant bringing out the Mrs. Hyde in me, so the stakes aren't nearly as high with soda. But still, that seems ridiculous, right?

After awhile, it wasn't just the zits. I felt crumby. Gross. So I knew I needed to cut it out again. And I did. I think so far this year, I've only had 2. That said, I decided to drink diet Dr Pepper instead. But you can't have your cake and eat it too. Shortly after I started drinking it I started getting restless leg syndrome at night! I couldn't sleep and would just lay there for hours, sometimes until sunrise, until my body would quiet down and I could sleep. more aspartame! Why are all diet sodas sweetened with aspartame? It sucks.

Also- while drinking aspartame, I started craving junk food. Chips! Candy! When I'd go to the store I'd buy a few candy bars and a bag of chips. I'd eat them in the car while driving home. I'd want candy for breakfast instead of my yogurt and apple and cheese.

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I was trying to be good in February- but then I made the mistake of buying the Momofuku Milk Bar's cookbook. For a baker like me, taking on a culinary challenge is the most fun thing ever. So I started baking cookies on the weekends, trying out the new to me methods and recipes.

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Corn cookies are amaaaazing!

But wheat, man. Does it ever make me ill! Gah. I looooove chocolate chip cookies, So I decided to try and Paleo-fy them. And after quite a few batches of cookies, lots of butter and Ghiraradelli chocolate, I am proud to say that I have a working recipe, and I'm ready to give it to you. Watch for an upcoming post all about Paleo-fied cookies!

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More info on eating Paleo:

I have a few digestive issues that have been bothering me for the past decade, like (ready for TMI?) dumping syndrome: the valve in my stomach that keeps the stomach acid in is faulty and randomly "dumps" all my stomach acid into my intestines causing serious, awful, IfeellikeI'mdyingyoushouldprobablytakemetothehospitalbutI'lljustlieonthecoldbathroomflooranddieslowlyOMGIthinkI'mdying pain.

I also have GERD, which I was taking antacids for every single day. Short version- I have low stomach acid, it doesn't break down my food properly (especially wheat) making excess gas in my intestines and causing sloooooow digestion, the gas pushes up my stomach, then the acid that is left in my stomach gets pushed into my esophagus, causing heartburn. Also, I was so bloated that I looked pregnant.

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I eat an apple everyday, I have for years. Supposedly the pectin in fresh apples helps that stupid valve stay shut. and it did help, immensely in fact. I went from a few episodes a week to once or twice a month. But it would still get triggered sometimes and I would be in hell. It was so random, I could never figure out what was causing it.

During my research into "wheat withdrawal" I found this article about GERD. Totally informative and amazing and so full of great information. On his recommendation, I started taking HCI, an acid, before I eat a meal. If I boost my low stomach acid, then my food will get digested properly and I won't have excess gas and bloating and heartburn.

And guess what? Both problems have been solved. If I forget to take my pills before eating I will get heartburn. And if I eat wheat a few days in a row, my dumping syndrome has been known to return in full agonizing force on a totally random day that I haven't eaten any.

So do I have celiac? I don't know, I haven't been tested. Most people with celiac have serious digestion issues with wheat right when they eat it. Mine is probably an allergy, since it affects my head, and it seems to affect my nervous system too. I should get tested.

Another thing about going Paleo- it's effing expensive. I hate to admit it, but we are spending 3x's as much on food than we were. For organic produce and grass fed meat! Nothing processed. Seems SO insane! When I told Danny how much we were spending on groceries a month, he was silent. I thought he was mad, but he says it's ok. He's happy eating Paleo with me, so if that's what it costs, then we'll pay it.

I have been shopping at Safeway again though, they have much more organic produce than they used to. They are very competitive with Whole Foods, and most of the time I like their produce better anyway. It seems like they are better at resourcing locally than WF is. (IMHO). I've also been trying to only buy organic if it matters. I buy the Dirty Dozen organic, but everything else I buy conventional.

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Green beans and Chicken Roti from Olivier's.

I buy ground beef, chicken breasts, and steak from our local butcher, Olivier's. I buy ground pork, beef and pork roasts from US Wellness Meats, online. Their prices are great, and the beef bottom round roast is THE BEST roast I've ever had. And it's shipped frozen to your door. So awesome.

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Big-O Bacon burgers with arugula and Guacamole from nom nom paleo.

I don't like ghee, so we use butter. Either Plugra or Kerrygold. Both of which I can buy at either Safeway or Whole Foods. Lucky, lucky me! I cook with coconut oil and occasionally with grapeseed oil. We looooove coconut oil around here!

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For recipes, I use nom nom paleo's app and Well Fed 2. I have the original Well Fed, but I don't really like it. I have paleo-fied a bunch of our old favorites, like meatloaf and meatballs and enchiladas.

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Years ago, I used to be vegetarian, then I was vegan. Even though I like meat now, it was haaaaard to get used to eating so much of it. Our meals never centered around meat before. They more centered around pasta or rice, with veggies and meat as sides. So it was quite an adjustment for me- but for Danny, he was in heaven! It was like he got Sunday dinner everyday!

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Crispy Smashed Chicken from nom nom paleo and Broccoli Salad from Well Fed 2.

Right now, we have added brown rice and potatoes back into our diet. But not very often, and certainly not as often as we used to eat them. Danny dislikes sweet potatoes, what a weirdo!

And fruit. If I can't have sugar, I'm going to have fruit. Some paleo peeps are totally fine with fruit, some won't touch it.

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One of the things that I found while looking for a Dr Pepper replacement is Criobru, roasted cocoa beans that you brew like coffee. It has theobromine which is a cousin to caffeine, so it gives you energy but isn't as jarring as caffeine. I'll probably do a separate post about it later.

Want stats?

Ok, here you go. (I do take progress shots, but I am NOT putting them on the internets.)

This is just diet. I haven't have the motivation to exercise, until just this week. My friend Allison has been killing it on instagram lately, and she's inspired me to get back to it.

October 6, 2013

Weight: 164
Arms: 13
Waist: 31
Hips: 37
Thighs: 24
Upper bust: 37
Bra size: 36D
Under bust: 34

November 10, 2013

Weight: 158
Arms: 13
Waist: 3o
Hips: 36
Thighs: 21
Upper bust: 36
Bra size: 34C
Under bust: 33

January 18, 2014

Weight: 153
Arms: 12.5
Waist: 30
Hips: 36
Thighs: 21
Upper bust: 36
Bra size: 34C
Under bust: 32

March 14, 2014

Weight: 150
Arms: 12
Waist: 30
Hips: 35
Thighs: 21
Upper bust: 36
Bra size: 34C
Under bust: 32

Even though I was cheating with candy and treats- I've still been losing weight. I swear it's the gluten, or the lack of it anyway.

I've always had a boyish figure- small boobs and no hips. But I've been feeling really straight up and down over the last few years- until January when I took my measurements and saw (gasp) my waist was noticeable! And it's become even more so since then. I know I'll never be curvy, I don't care about that, but a little curve would be nice. And exercise will give me that. I just need to do it.

Any questions? Man, that was looooong.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

regional candy swap!

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Heidi Kenny of mypapercrane always has the best ideas. She did a candy swap last month- peeps signed up, she paired them up based on our geographic locations, and we all went out and bought candy to send to our partners.

Heather got my some amazing chocolate from Holstein's- the place where the last shot of the Soprano's was filmed. Very New Jersey! (and I ate almost all of it already)

I, being totally obsessed with Japanese candy, went to Japantown and loaded up. I looked up what "regional" candy was in California, and I was quite disappointed. Abba Zabba? Charleston Chew? Gah. Like I'm gonna send someone $15 worth of that lame candy! I did get some Ghirardelli chocolate though- so I did sort of send something regional. 

Think of me as an asian candy missionary- spreading love through Japanese sugar. Now my partner, Heather Donohue will know the exquisiteness that is Hi-chew, and she can develop a healthy addiction to Ramune gummies too.

That was fun! Let's do it again!!!

Monday, March 3, 2014


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We went to a superbowl party, can you believe it? It was hosted by our friends Mary and Chris, whom we met at Jane and Visnu's wedding. So, most of the people that went to Thailand were there. It was a ton of fun to see them all. 

We all want to go on another trip together, since we did so well the first time around, and as strangers! We'll see....

Megan and Moustafa brought this apple pie, it was to die for. I almost died from the gluten after eating 2 slices, but it was worth it. 

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I've been working on new outfits and hairstyles for my dolls, what do you think??

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So cute, right?

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Teeny tiny bunny! This is the Miss Maggie Rabbit pattern, but half size!

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Size comparison.

I've sent the quilts off for quilting, can you tell? I can't wait to finish them, so I'm biding my time making lots of tiny things.

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Love bug.

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Happy Valentines candy.... so not supposed to be eating this!

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Have you read The Cuckoo's Calling???? It's amazing!

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We watched Coco while Jane and Visnu were in Japan... so she brought me candy! Yea!

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See? I'm obsessed with tiny things right now. 

These are for Lindsay loo's American Girl doll. Her birthday is in May, so I've been making lots of doll clothes for her. Aren't these tiny Toms so cute?

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Yea, the quilts are back! Now I'm sewing on the binding, and noodlebug is "helping."

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My corners are getting better!

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My attempt at cherry pie cookies! They need work, but they were delicious.

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Quilts are finished, lint rolled, photographed and sent out. Phew! 


Hello, gentle readers.

It's been awhile.

I fell out of the blogging habit. My computer broke. My camera broke. My blogging fate was nearly sealed...

...then I was like "what the hell happened to 2013?" It went by so fast- and I didn't really remember it. 

So, two months in to 2014 I decided to play catch up. It's been a doozy. Going through a whole year of photos- especially a year that we traveled so much...we are world travelers now!

So pardon me- I will be blogging all of last year, cheating by backdating. So if you read this in a reader type thingy- it'll probably clog your feed. Sorry bout that. 

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Matilda says hi!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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Finally getting some real progress done on the twin's baby quilts! They were born On December 18th. Little cuties, I can't wait to meet them!

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I made a little chihuahua for my friend Kimberly.

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More quilty progress!!!!

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I had to order the sashing fabric for the twins quilts, so while waiting impatiently and still feeling quite quilty, I started another quilt. 

Hahahaha I'm so crazy sometimes.

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Stenciling gold gems for a new project that you won't see for quite some time....

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...and working on some BMO's for Danny. He wanted one for his birthday, and since I'm terrible/hate making patterns, it's taking me awhile to get just right.

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Cheating on my diet with some killer chocolate chip cookies. NOM.

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Whoa, guys. My hair is sooooooo long! Yea!

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Yoga and a nasty looking smoothie. It's the strawberries and spinach, mix those and you get brown.

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Reading the Adventure Time comics before bedtimes with my man.

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Yea, says noodlebug, lets roll on the floor together!

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My most hated chore is cleaning the glass doors in the shower. You have to get in to scrub them, meaning you pretty much have to be naked and taking a shower to do so. 

Ugh, so not having glass shower doors if we ever own a home.