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Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

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FOODIE FANTASIES

many a night i spent dreaming up ways i could make a food delivery service come to fruition.  i’d turn over scenarios in my head… catchy names, food truck artwork,  meals that would be eaten easily while standing or sitting in the grass, visions of hipsters noshing on a paper lined boat of my fabulous ‘something or other’ and posting about it on twitter or the FB.   i imagined rolling through Larryville in my converted mail truck throwing peace signs out the open door/window here and there.  rocking out to death cab for cutie… wearing an apron with the words ‘SHARE GOOD VIBES’  on it.  i could finally get that cute little spoon tattoo on my hand at the base of my thumb!   and then maybe later a santoku knife on my other wrist (cause you know you’re always thinking about your NEXT tat the minute you leave the parlor)…   this is literally how i would fall asleep more nights than i can remember.  i still do sometimes… even though i have done the homework and know how hard it is to turn even a meager profit while manning a food truck biz.  it is a labor of love, as a brick and mortar restaurant would be as well.  be prepared to be married to it they say.  fourteen hour days are the minimum, with sixteen hour days being more realistic, after preparation, clean up, book keeping, and maintenance woes on a daily.  not to mention finding a co-owner, helping hand or hired staff you can trust and rely on always.  not a good look for a wife and mother of two.  life is hard sometimes.  you know what you enjoy doing… you know you are good at it… you know people would LIKE what you sling… but you meet roadblock after roadblock when thinking of how you can get there.  more often than not, it’s money.  things cost money. A LOT of money.  to get a food truck up and running and stocked with equipment, etc etc- you’re looking at at least 30G’s start up cost… rockstar trucks decked out with bells and whistles… 70 G.  but hot damn are they beautiful.   if i was rich/ aka a trust funder or one of those lucky SOB’s who hit a powerball ticket with a group for 4 mill a piece… Hell to the Yezzesss i’d be all over this.  i’d service private picnics or corporate events…  do festivals and fairs… have FUN with it.   but for now, i am a nurse.  i make a fine and comfortable living doing it.  make no mistake in thinking me ungrateful for said career.  i worked hard to become a nurse, and it was not easy.  i feel proud of this accomplishment in my life- especially deciding to do it late, as i was about to turn 30 and already working as a social worker after college.   nursing has been good to me.  to us.  but this post is about passion.  about the Foodie world that exists in my mind.  so i do what anyone in this situation would do.  i think small.  what can i do that would simulate being a part of the food service industry while allowing me to harness some of my entrepreneurial spirit???  i seek out small groups of people that would like me to cook for them.  ie: a pediatrics office full of busy, hungry medical professionals who get an hour lunch break each day;  a group of hungry policemen who are notorious for working up appetites  while out fighting crime.  the latter had me cooking for them a week before Christmas this year… and they were pleased as punch with the whole foodie event!   prior to this i cooked for my co-workers, who also found the whole delivery yummy and satisfying!   so i am having fun with it… but on a small scale.  my food truck is my silver Subaru… and i am finally using up some of the hundreds of containers i bought online late one night when i was feeling extra ‘ready’ to make this REAL.   after all, a girl’s gotta dream.  if you never CHASE you dreams you will never CATCH them.

micro side salads
micro side salads
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
small batch homemade vinaigrette
small batch homemade vinaigrette
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce

 

garlic bread - lined up like little soldiers
garlic bread – lined up like little soldiers
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.

Synchronicity

so i go through spurts where i plug through a span of days taking care of business, nose to the grind (ok i lied, those words have never been used to describe me) and in general ‘making it happen.’  — i’m getting my 7-8 hours of sleep, i’m packing lunches, i’m sipping coffee, i’m feeding my family, i’m working on my body, laundry,  ironing, dusting, vacuuming, organizing, homework, tending the tots… wake up next day, repeat.  you feel me.  ……and then i will have these days…. these lovely transcendental days… where all my mind wants to do is think about WHY…. yes why….and wonder… how….  and swim in my intuition… and realize how in charge of my life and my thoughts i really am… and find connections in how i got to my ‘here and now’…  and i think about, without that, not this… and if not this… then that…. and well, today is one of those days…. and on days like these… not much gets done (in the way of tasks, etc)  because it is a most delicious place to be in… and i have a hard time unfocusing my mind and my SELF to become again alert to less meaningful activity.  have i lost anyone yet??  anyway… this is the part of me that loves to write and create and.  just.  be.  sadly, this is a part of me that many others never get to meet.  my co-workers? never.  being a nurse requires critical thinking and continuous interruption of thought as a rule.  discussions are scientific, as they should be when focusing on physical medicine, especially in an emergency medicine type setting.  my friends?  maybe a smidge.  even in the best scenario, ie: a quiet dinner over drinks, where discussions can flow and evolve… interruptions exist. our phones, the food, time constraints, things you hold back saying, counter opinions, a loss for words.  even some of the best philosophical conversations i’ve had with others, were mediocre at best.  sometimes i think booze or drugs could help elicit a response… an openness… a lovely path upon which the conversation can bounce and bumble and frolic….  and ripen.  even with this goal in mind, both have at times left me a blubbering mess, incapable of a clear thought. lol. it’s a fine line… one i tend to have trouble walking and balancing on.  my family? again, a smidge.  some reading this will assume transparency where husband and wife are concerned… but i can assure you, such is not the case.  although i have had the quintessential words uttered to me (on numerous occasions) “i know you better than you know yourself”… which i always laugh at hysterically.   the human mind is a miracle unto itself… and a proclaimation like that… well, i would never claim such a feat.  there are things about my spouse i would never even pretend to understand, reaching far into the psychological aspects of parenting and his childhood… analysis far outreaching my capabilities.   my point in all of this??  if clarity is even seldom found amongst ourselves, in our own minds, with our own private knowledge… HOW can we ever expect others to see who we really are?  inside each of us is a gem.  a precious gem.  we can choose to polish it, or chip away at it… both of which others get to see from time to time as they catch a glimpse of our gems in living our lives…  when others see your gem, will they smile at its shine, will they envy its beauty,  will they sadden at its cracks, look away from its blackness,  grab a cloth and help polish, or grab a hammer and help destroy?  (damn that was good, i should write that shit down and publish it!!!!)  (goodness i wish the right person would discover me one day and get me the hell out of medicine. lol.)  a while back, i read a portion of a blog article on success in life, and key ideas for happiness as a way of life… you feel me.  well, a portion of this article never left me, and i use its concepts often in my daily life.   here it is:

Gratitude and Appreciation as a Secret for Success by Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success.

The best attitude you can possibly aspire to express year-round is one of gratitude and appreciation.
Being truly grateful for what is already present in your life will automatically and effortlessly attract more good into your life.
Make a conscious decision to appreciate and acknowledge all that you have already been blessed with. These emotions are of the highest vibrational frequency, and through the Law of Attraction they will attract even more to be thankful for.
Try to be grateful for even the difficult and challenging situations that arise in your life.
It is often through these situations, that we experience the most profound spiritual and emotional growth. You can learn to view each apparent obstacle as an opportunity to develop a new quality, strength, skill, insight or wisdom and be grateful for the lessons. Each challenge is an opportunity for growth and expansion.
Rise to these occasions, and appreciate all that you are learning in the process. Keeping your attitude positive and appreciative through these times will not only help to avoid attracting more of these difficult situations into your life – it will also create a field of positive energy that will attract more of what you do want.
“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely
the attitude of gratitude is the most important,
and by far the most life-changing.”
– Zig Ziglar

A Token of Gratitude
Try carrying a small token, stone, crystal, or some other meaningful object with you each day in your pocket. Throughout the day, each time you reach into your pocket for your money or keys it will serve as a tangible reminder to stop and think of something you have to be grateful for. This is a great way to increase your awareness of all that you have to be appreciative of.
Take a moment to breathe, and really feel the emotion of gratitude. This simple mindfulness technique helps to raise your vibrational frequency and keep you in a state of constant gratitude.

Your Gratitude Journal
Start keeping a daily Gratitude and Acknowledgement journal. This is a necessary and valuable tool in the development of your growth and awareness. This book is not intended to be a long, drawn out “diary” sort of thing, just a short, simple list of things you are grateful for on that particular day. This is a place to honor and appreciate the good in your life.

Gratitude:
Each evening, before going to bed, take a few minutes to review your day. Think about the day’s events. Become aware of how many good things actually happened on that day, and remember to appreciate even the challenges that you encountered. Select the five things, or people, or events that you are most grateful for. There is no right or wrong here, just whatever, or whoever you are sincerely grateful for on that particular day. It may be the warm sun on your face, a cool breeze, a kind word, a friend, or just feeling good about what you got accomplished that day. It may be the way you handled a particular situation that would have thrown you into a tailspin in the past.
Anything you are grateful for. As you write them in your journal, feel the gratitude and appreciation. Give thanks.

Acknowledgement:
Take a moment to acknowledge the changes that are occurring for you personally. Write them down. Acknowledge just how well the Law of Attraction is working in your life. Write down any specific event where the Law of Attraction was at work- the parking space you envisioned, the meeting you wanted to schedule, the bonus check you received, the grade you wanted, the person who said yes when you asked them out.
Miracles can and do occur on a daily basis. They are happening all around you. Honor them, and notice them. Through acknowledgement, you will become more and more aware of the amazing synchronicity that is already at work in your life.
Make the time you spend in contemplation and writing in your Gratitude and Acknowledgement journal a sacred part of your daily routine.
Your continued expressions of joy and gratitude will draw even greater joy, love and abundance into your life.
You will begin to notice a change in your perception of each day‘s events. You will become more aware of the positive things that happen all around you every single day. Your focus will shift, your energy will shift, and you will begin to appreciate how blessed you already are. And … the Law of Attraction will respond to the higher vibration you are creating.
Enjoy the journey.
Live each day in joy and gratitude.

good stuff. believe me when i tell you… it’s all true.  i’m living it.  it works dude.  give it a shot… what do you have to lose? other than negativity maybe.  so the title of my blog is something i’ve been looking into more recently.  the concept of synchronicity.  first introduced in the 50’s by psychologist Carl Jung.  talks about ‘meaningful coincidences’.   cliff notes version: in my own words-  tells us that life is not a series of random events, but each of us holds power and insight to express and create order in our lives… a spiritual awakening- by simply being mindful more times than not…  of events and ideas and objects around us.  this higher awareness in turn can have an avalanche effect on other parts of our lives… seemingly unrelated, but in fact… meaningful.  to the average person, it sounds like a crock of bullshit, but to me… i find this kind of thing absolutely intriguing.   obviously i’m not the only one… for there are too numerous to count articles on this subject… and leading into Buddhist principles and zen masters teachings… one could get lost in the beauty.  in fact, this whole thing has been compared to the Buddhist principle of  ‘pratityasamutpada’… (don’t ask me to pronounce it)… think Karma… think ‘this is, because that is’… etc.

wikipedia tells us a bit about it (that long word above) through a translation by Thich Nhat Hanh (a famous Zen master) :  ‘~In the sutras, this image is given: “Three cut reeds can stand only by leaning on one another. If you take one away, the other two will fall.”  For a table to exist, we need wood, a carpenter, time, skillfulness, and many other causes. And each of these causes needs other causes to be. The wood needs the forest, the sunshine, the rain, and so on. The carpenter needs his parents, breakfast, fresh air, and so on. And each of those things, in turn, has to be brought about by other causes and conditions. If we continue to look in this way, we’ll see that nothing has been left out. Everything in the cosmos has come together to bring us this table. Looking deeply at the sunshine, the leaves of the tree, and the clouds, we can see the table. The one can be seen in the all, and the all can be seen in the one.’

i dig it yo… i could spend hours on this stuff… well, i just did.   become present.  love your life and live your life. 

peace and love yo.

taking it back… simplifying and satisfying

settle in… i’m about to be on a roll…

in a world of instant conversations, voice to text phone capabilities, and watching the three scrolling dots for the rest of the conversation to be typed… it’s easy to get caught up in the hurried pace of everyday life.  it’s easy to get stuck there on a daily, actually.  marching forward through your day, refueling with Starbucks mid afternoon,  texting home for updates or eta’s, updating your Facebook status (telling 479 people how you’re ‘feeling’ via a smileyface and one word)… all of this… minute by minute… hour by hour.  we are enveloped by information via technology every waking hour on a daily.  a sound emitted from a purse across the room can signal an event, or incoming information… causing us to scurry over like tiny lab rats and press and swipe for enlightenment.  sometimes, frankly, it’s all a bit much for me.  look around you in a waiting room nowadays.  magazines sit… untouched… as 80 percent of those sit, staring at their phones- completely oblivious to happenings around and beside them.  their dainty fingers scrolling, scrolling- or furiously typing with thumbs.  man and woman sit across from one another in restaurants, with nary a word between them… staring at their phones.  hubby and i have witnessed it, many a datenite…. and actually have fun doing so.  it is funny and sad, all at the same time.  sometimes, and i can’t speak for everyone obviously- but sometimes i long to really connect with others.  more than the written word can offer.  WAY more.  to hear and see and smell someone in front of me- and just talk.  -and i’m not talking about a big production where you have to get together and go out for a bite or a sip… i’m sometimes talking about just a random joe as you wait in line at the grocery store.  making a comment on something in their cart- throwing them a bone and seeing if they bite.  those tiny three minute conversations i’ve had with people in line at Whole Foods sometimes have been known to lead me to my next book choice, or a new way to roast vegetables, or a new cafe i hadn’t heard of.  i feel like we are losing this act of conversation in today’s society, and it saddens me greatly.  granted, we all have days where we would be happy if we didn’t have to talk to anyone, and could hide in bed all day watching Frazier re-runs and eating Fritos- licking our fingers between grabs. (guilty, true story.)  i get that.   it’s the fact that we are all in such a hurry most of the time that brings me down.  hurry through the ATM, swipe and go at the gas pump, enter your order for a sandwich without having to say two words to anyone (well maybe two- thank you – that’s two) – bag your own groceries- swipe your card- use a toll road- zoom through with your computerized pass- zoom zoom ZIP…  embrace the pace. where did all the small talk go?  for me, i find this fast paced life a bit toxic at times.  there are days where i truly feel myself being sapped of healthy energy,  and sadly most of those times it is when i am at work as a nurse- lol.  it’s not that i don’t enjoy nursing and helping others- actually-  quite the contrary.  it’s the logistics that get me down. the charting, the paperwork, the hurrying, the worry about wait times and quick, expeditious visits, all in the name of the almighty dollar.  many of my favorite nursing tasks are the ones that cannot be hurried.  inserting an IV into a patient for hydration, irrigating their ears to clear the wax,  cleansing and dressing a bad wound, removing sutures, applying a splint to a fractured limb.  just yesterday i had a lovely patient who told me i had the most calming demeanor and an amazing touch.  it was a meaningful comment in the middle of a ‘HURRY UP’ busy shift.  WAY meaningful.   i long to slow down… often.  i long for simple, easy days doing things i love.  i long to mother my children the way my mother – mothered ME.  taking time to read stories… eating lunch at two because we were so involved in coloring and creating and loving and laughing and snuggling that we forgot what time it was.  too happy to feel hunger.  that’s a good place to be my friends.  i find myself there when i’m sewing sometimes, or when i’m writing.  i forget to eat.  when i am home, i am in my zone.  i love my house with a part of me most will never know or meet.  my home is my center. my balance.  i knew it about ten minutes into the showing when we first looked at it.  hubby and i went home that night- looked at eachother- and i think we separately knew we had just fallen in love.  with a house.  he had dreams about it for several nights, as did i.   i drew a picture of it the next morning over coffee with colored pencils from memory. (which i still have)  come to find out, the previous owner did the SAME THING the day after she and her partner looked at the house prior to buying.  the house is enchanting, and i honestly feel that the house picks its owners.  each of them grabbing it with two hands and transforming it in the image of themselves.  it happened.  and it continues to happen as my creativity catches fire each day i’m off and at home.  healthy behavior and a balanced mind come from our inner selves.  deep deep within… where your quirks and fears huddle.  the most important thing you can do for yourself, and for your well-being is to figure out what makes you HAPPY. i mean, reeeaallllly  figure it out.  and then (and this is the hard part in our modern lives) MAKE ROOM FOR IT.   no excuses.  make room and time for it.  be selfish.  tell people NO once in a while. you can’t be all things to all people and make everyone happy.  it’s impossible and you will kill your spirit doing it.  carve out time for yourself.  when you find something you love doing, do it.  do it often.  for me it is cooking.  for me, it is food.  i like to talk about food. i like to write about food. i like to prepare food.  i like to photograph food and arrange it in a visually appealing manner.  i’ve been laughed at, believe me.  but i don’t bat an eye.  to me, food is art.  it is art that fuels us, body and soul.   most of all… i love to EAT. GOOD. FOOD.   of my many varied interests, (and i have many) – food trumps them all.  i challenge each of you to find your inner ‘HAPPY’.  it need not even be an activity, for some, it is a person.  therein should your focus lie… nurture that love, that activity.  get better at it.  and in turn, YOU will be better.  happier.  more filled up. satisfied.  life is short.  cliché, yes.  but sometimes we all need reminding.  

peace and love yo.

wonderful world of Etsy

i have to say i am very excited about the recent opening of my Hotbox Hipster etsy shop- and i felt it was very necessary to share this information on my food blog! many of my blogging friends have varied interests, to say the least, and i happen to be one of them.  not only do i enjoy cooking and baking,  but i also enjoy knitting and sewing and writing and jogging and photography and entertaining and interior design and food styling, and the list goes on and on….  so i decided to share one of my variants with my food loving community. i have created an Etsy shop, with the Hotbox Hipster’s name,  to market my unique gooderies to the general public.  my goal is to create items/gifts that are hard to find in the big box stores… items made with love… peaceful love.  i’m trying to create an even mix of children’s items, lady goods, and household lovelies.   each item will be wrapped with colored paper from sustainably managed forests, and tied up with happy hemp twine. i will ship in a recycled brown grocer’s bag – meaning the whole packaging itself can be reused in it’s entirety.  two percent of my total sales each year will go to a local green project in my community. giving back is important, and one of my favorite quotes says it best… “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up doing nothing for nobody.”  check me out yo!  http://www.hotboxhipster.etsy.com

(PS- i commissioned my artist friend, Julie Schuler, to design and create my avatar -aka logo- and she did an amazing job, capturing my varied interests… the go green tee, the food skewered onto knitting needles, the scarf in progress around my neck, the recycle symbols in the name, and my running shoes and shorts. she is truly an amazing artist- and her paintings are out of this world. click on her name above to fall into her world.)

hipstercolor1

 

 

spags 101

today happens to be what i believe to be – the sweetest day.  it is friday friends.  it’s a loaded gun.  it’s a full glass of water… or wine for that matter.  it’s the start of a playful tumble down a soft and cool grassy slope… the kind where you pick up momentum, laughing all the way. friday is a segway into uncharted territory… the wild and wonderful, or the lazy and delicious.  if you’re like me… it’s a little bit of both. always.  friday holds the promise of 2.5 days of undictated control.  you’re craving oatmeal cookies at ten pm?? giddy up. we can sleep in on Saturday- but for now LET’S BAKE.  (take those capped words how you wish… i won’t tell) – if your night is in… pop on some tunes after the tots go to bed, and take some time to reconnect with your husband/wife/partner. ask them about their challenges this week. talk about a dream you had last night. ask them what their favorite thing is about your home… about your body… listen to them. don’t interrupt. think about why you choose to spend time with this person. what is YOUR favorite thing about them? i can assure you that connections like these will have your weekend off to a fabulous start. tackle a saturday project together. be playful while doing so. always. decide on some dinner together. emphasis on together.  pour their sunday morning coffee. memorize how they take their coffee. suggest you cook their favorite meal later today. offer a way they can earn that meal… whispering or a hand written note usually works best, P.S. 😉  the take away point as i face a fun filled weekend ahead on this lovely temperate friday in the Burgh is this… look at every day as a vacation. when you are not at work, don’t be at work. leave it behind… it never runs out on you, this i promise. look at every evening as an event. ex: it’s TUESDAY bitches!!! i’m gonna stop off for my favorite bottle of wine, grab my tot’s favorite cookies at the grocer, download that new Beiber song that’s been in my head, fix a nice meal for my fam, clean up in the morning (an awesome tip to harness the shiz out of your evening), put a few drops of green food coloring in the tot’s bath to color it like the sea, they pick their bedtime books… but make them tell YOU a story as well. make up an incredibly ridiculous story for them right before you tuck- and give them a jumping off point for their dreams. (be prepared to do this every night… they’ll ask.) then get your dupa back to that reconnecting i talked about at the start of the spill. pat yourself on the back… and thank your Creator… whomever you believe that to be. tomorrow is a new day. bet the farm it’s gonna be great.

the four minute veggie
say ‘i love you’ with this stellar dessert next august.
anticipation

 

 

 

 

embracing social media. period.

giddy up. i’ve discovered Tumblr. a place where i can unleash all of my food pictures without restraint.  i went with the hotboxhipster title, and plan to link the two social media sites so they’re nearly seamless. you can jump into my blog from Tumblr, and vice versa. it’s also much easier to upload video clips there, so i’m planning to start some vlog snippets… just some ten second kitchen shenanigans… allowing the world to meet the real me. the dumb ass. the mad hatter.  like when i’m deciding on chinese takeout, and i become a short asian man who is repeating the order… (begin funny voice) ‘ahh… Happy Family… excellent choice, uh huh uh huh….’  or when i have a mouth full of brownie and i start fake crying about how the world is against me and my only friend is the brownie. i love acting like an ass, it puts me in such a great mood. my favorite thing is when hubby breaks into full out yinzer mode and starts conversing very loudly with me. i crack up every time- and it makes any situation hysterical. i’m gonna get him on my page- for shiz. so yeah, Tumblr. it’s cool, i dig it. enjoy the pics yo. www.hotboxhipster.Tumblr.com 

 

 

snappy space saver… in seconds!

 

hotbox clipster
get it up and keep it clean!

 

tight space? i’ve got answers. if you love cooking from all of your favorite food magazines, but dislike the drips and spatters the production leaves behind on the pages, you’re gonna love this idea. if you’re anything like me, you can tell your favorite recipe chocked mags from their sad appearance alone. the humble way they are holding together the lovely  warped pages, wet from who knows what or when!  improve your cooking area lickety split with this snappy hotbox idea. Take a skirt hanger with some sturdy clips and attach your magazine (or paper recipe for that matter) ensuring a firm hold. Hang from a cabinet knob or handle in the general prep work area. Get cooking! Not only have you saved your magazine or recipe from walking away with an olive oil facial, you’ve now freed up at least a foot of counter space for you to work on!  L O V E – I T……. (sing songy sassy voice)

cook over high heat for five minutes

spags in red
relaxation 101

these are the first key strokes toward a dream of mine for many a change of season. the year has just turned fresh, and i decided… why keep dreaming?? Make it happen sister. my love for cooking has been a rock solid one for greater than ten years now, since i was gifted a fire engine red KitchenAid mixer. one of the first things i whipped out was a Pavlova… with fresh whipped cream and seasonal fruits. i was smitten. the posts to follow will contain some of my tried and true recipes ~ chocked full of wacky measurements and explanations along the way for why you ‘need’ to do it this way or that.  the bulk of these recipes have been stuck in my head for a decade, and will finally make their way to some formal arrangement.  this will delight not only myself, but i’m sure the many lovelies over the years who have asked me for the recipe to this or that… only to have me forget the request and fail to deliver.  my apologies en masse.

i am admittedly a dump cook, and thrive on grabbing recipes by the arm and yanking them around a bit.  these new recipes will someday become old faves, and that, my friend is what it’s all about.  it’s food evolution…. one household at a time.  discovering what works – what doesn’t – and wondering why.  it’s the wonder that the passion clings to.  once you gain the confidence in your cooking skills, the possibilities are truly endless.

video tutorials will appear for your viewing pleasure as well. special guests will rotate, and the vino will flow alongside the food. a G rating can almost never be guaranteed, aside from maybe my initial clip on how to section a grapefruit like a rockstar.

begin fun. begin creative river flow. begin opportunity.

take one pee pee step away from The Man.   prestige worldwide baby!!!!

eat.peace.love.and renew you.

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a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

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