Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Gluten Free Challenge Pt 1: Days 1-4

*Eye roll* Why are you jumping on the gluten free bandwagon?

Back in August, I started having trouble with my left leg going numb when I laid down to sleep at night. Within a few weeks, it started happening at odd intervals throughout the day as well. After about a month, it spread to my left arm, then my right arm. About a week and a half ago, my arms stopped going numb and I started having constant, searing pain. I’ve quit smoking, started seeing a doctor, started seeing a neurologist, had 3 MRIs in 4 weeks (I should have the results on the last one soon!), and still don’t know anything.

Another blogger suggested that it may be gluten ataxia, which you can read more about here, or just go Google crazy–there’s a lot of information out there to sort through.

I started out what I thought would be a one-week challenge, however, based on my research, it can take months to get gluten out of your system and heal enough to feel any kind of relief.  So, I’m probably going to be eating like this for a while, depending on what the doctor says. I’ve decided to document the first week of this insanity here.

Day 1: This can’t be that difficult, right?

I tried browsing recipes on Allrecipes.com, my go to site for food….but filtering for gluten-free foods was a bit tricky. It was much easier on eatingwell.com. This is the part of the show where I started to obsess over cake and bread and crackers. Good grief, when did crackers become the enemy? I finally decided that coming up with a full week’s worth of dinners was too hard when I really didn’t know very much about gluten, so I just came up with two meals: Quiche and Enchiladas.

After work, I hopped over to WalMart to grab a few supplies. Cue the nightmare music.

Hummus is universally safe apparently and there were lots to choose from. Just try finding a cracker to have it on. I googled “gluten free crackers walmart” on my phone and came up with a brand, but couldn’t find it in the store.

I very easily found a gluten-free cake mix. For $4.64. I can get a regular cake mix for $1 at Aldi! I seemed to recall an episode of The Biggest Loser where Chef Rocco Dispirito made something with chickpea flour. That’s what I need! Alternative flour! I went up and down the baking aisle 4 times before I finally found a tiny little bag of soy flour. For $2.08. It was the only alternative flour I could find. I grabbed it, complaining all the way. At least there was a bread recipe on the back. Easy peasy.

When I got home, I saw that the bread recipe called for wheat flour. This is going to be a long week, isn’t it?

Day 2: Brought to you by the number “5!”

I sat down and made out a week-long gluten free meal plan and Scott and I went to Aldi to pick up a few additional provisions for the week. Aldi has gotten some good reviews for their prominent labeling of gluten free foods, so that helped a lot, but it was still confusing. Why is a can of pinto beans gluten free but refried beans aren’t? Why did someone have to put wheat in the beans just to mash them?

We got just about everything we needed there, and then we decided to check out the west side WalMart (I went to the store on the east side of town the night before) and see what kind of gluten free products we could find. I bought a bag of cookies and a box of cookie mix. The already-made cookies weren’t bad.

After WalMart, we headed to Natural Grocers, a store Scott has wanted to check out for a while, but not I. I can’t go to Natural Grocers! I don’t do yoga, I don’t drive a Prius, and I don’t hate chemicals. I love chemicals. Ammonia and bleach are some of my favorites.

Despite not wearing skinny jeans or a peasant skirt, I found Natural Grocers to be quite accessible. I was able to find gluten free everything. Noodles, bread, flour, condensed soups. I picked out a loaf of tapioca bread to try out, partially because Scott thought tapioca would be the yummiest, but mostly because it was the cheapest.

Here’s the financial impact: everywhere we went, there was a common theme: A gluten free item was right about 5 times what I would pay for the same item with gluten.

That evening, I made truly homemade enchiladas. I even made the sauce from scratch. The corn tortillas were store bought, but I was still proud. After 2+ hours in the kitchen, I had prepared a feast of enchiladas, mexican rice and refried beans–all homemade, all gluten free. I greatly prefer flour tortillas to corn, but I can adjust. The beans were great and the rice was magnificent!

Day 3: No Problem

I skipped breakfast and ate leftover enchiladas for lunch and supper. Man, I love going on autopilot.

Day 4: Adventures in Bread

I can eat my potato soup!

A few weeks ago, I started making my own soups and freezing them in individual bowls rather than buying canned soup for lunch every day.

Unfortunately, I have an affection for noodles and dumplings that is just uncanny. (Hehe, un-can-ny! Get it?)

Fortunately, I started using instant potato flakes as a thickener for soups instead of flour, so my potato soup is safe!

I packed a bowl of potato soup in my lunch and a sandwich made with the Tapioca loaf I purchased at Natural Grocer. The slices are tiny, but whatevs. I need to eat lighter anyway. It’s a little dry, but so what? Well, it’s kinda rubbery. It’s kind of…

EXACTLY LIKE EATING A DIRTY OLD SPONGE FROM THE KITCHEN!!!

I tried to dip it in the soup and let it soak, but it was no good. I was eating a dirty old kitchen sponge sandwich. Tiny as it was, I couldn’t finish it. It was too horrible. So, I ended up spending 3$ on a tiny loaf of bread I can’t even eat. I guess I’ll never get the ol’ budget under control.

On the way home, I stopped at WalMart to do some more hunting and found gluten free Bisquick! Finally, a lucky break! It just costs more than twice as much as regular Bisquick for a box half the size (I’m sure it’s meant to even out to 5x the price per biscuit) but it’s Bisquick! I can have biscuits and dumplings and pancakes and waffles and pot pies!!! Woot!

Had it really only been 4 days since I had bread? It seemed like it had been much longer. The mix looked legit, but the directions were a tad bit different. It called for shortening to be mixed in with it. Wha??? Whatever, I did it. For good measure, I also mixed in some cheddar cheese, parsley and garlic powder. Mmmmmm, garlic cheddar biscuits! I love it!

They looked amazing! Amazing! But the true test is taste, right? The taste was…different. The texture was perfect, but all I could taste was the shortening. Maybe margarine next time? (I detest butter–margarine all the way!!!) When I dipped the biscuit in the broth from my soup, it tasted just like a biscuit!

So, in the battle of the bread, we have one major failure and one victory. I’m excited to experiment more with the biscuits, but as much as they cost, they may be only an occasional treat. Based on my research, that may be the rule for all breads.

So Far…

I learned a lot in just a few days. Maybe 2 days after I bought that bag of soy flour, I realized what a ridiculous thing it was to do. So far, I haven’t starved, but we’ll see. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of my gluten free week. If there is a conclusion.

Categories: Eat Better, Everything Else | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vol 7

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I am officially a farmer! I harvested my first crop of spinach, and doesn’t it look delish? I actually planted a mesclun mix, but the spinach grew so high, so fast, and so thick that it blotted out the sun for the rest of the greens. I was so excited about a week of garden fresh veggies…and then it turned out to be just enough for each of us to have one helping of creamed spinach. Oh well, we can always grow more. It was wonderful!

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After reading about Death by Bread at The Holy Terra, I decided to try a gluten free week to see if my numbness and pain would go away. I started Wednesday, so it’s not like I’ve actually gotten anywhere yet, but sheesh! Gluten intolerance is expensive! There was a teeny, tiny section at Walmart with gluten free items, and then we went to Natural Grocers, and of course, they had tons of stuff. For a price. I’ll go into more detail in another post. It’s been…interesting. If nothing else, this week should show me some empathy for those who live with food allergies/intolerance.

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Scott and I are quickly approaching our 5 year anniversary! How exciting! We still don’t know how we’re going to celebrate. We’ll probably do dinner and a movie because we’re too lazy to get creative. Anyone have any movie recommendations?

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Did you know I have a sister site? Literally! I know what you’re thinking, Patron Saint of Lack of Commitment? Patron Saint of Phobias, ADD, and Hypochondria? Nope, it’s The Variant Purist. It’s my sister’s semi-Catholic blog. What’s semi-Catholic? Let’s just say she’s more indecisive than I am. Betsy is currently attending RCIA and still uncertain about joining the church. Please pray for her on her journey. For lack of a better picture, and because my anniversary is coming up, enjoy this picture of the two of us at my wedding:

I’m the one in white.

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I’ve started a new fitness routine, and it’s highly controversial. I call it Rosary Yoga. The numbness in my arms and legs has slowly turned into searing pain. I’m still awaiting a diagnosis, but there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of things it could be at this point. In just about any of the possible outcomes, yoga is recommended to strengthen muscles, alleviate pain and maintain balance. Literal balance, not mental. I’m literally trying not to fall over. Anyhoo. Yoga happens to be very controversial and there are very good reasons for it. However, it just so happens to be the best solution for me right now. So, I invented Rosary Yoga. I throw in my rosary meditation CD and hold each pose for 2 Hail Marys. I think it’s positively genius, and will start a new Rosary Yoga movement. Or people will just whisper about how crazy I am. Like that’s anything new.

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Speaking of controversial, I have a few issues with Halloween, however, the biggest one is that I just don’t care about it anymore so I usually don’t get any further than that. That’s especially sad considering the fact that Scott and I had our first date on Halloween, 7 years ago! Oh well. I would discuss my Halloween issues further, but there’s the whole “don’t care” thing. I look forward to All Saint’s Day and I’ll let Dr. Taylor Marshall tell you all about Halloween. Wonderful article. I read the whole thing, even though I don’t care. He’s that good.

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Who else is ready for Advent? I’m still hoping to get all of my Christmas shopping done early so I can enjoy Advent for what it is instead of stressing out. My husband’s family is quite large, so we’ve been debating on just drawing names so we can pare down the number of gifts to worry about. It just seems like every year, I want to have a peaceful, meaningful Advent, but I always get sucked into the gift-buying mayhem. Maybe this year?

For Thanksgiving, I’m seriously considering freezing as many dishes as I can ahead of time so they can be easily prepared the day of. I don’t even know where we’re having Thanksgiving (large family and all that), but it couldn’t hurt to be prepared!

That was really weird, right? One minute we’re talking about me eating spinach out of the backyard, the next it’s Halloween and Yoga-but-it’s-okay-I-did-the-rosary-with-it. Then outta nowhere, I’m like, Merry Christmas!

Good grief. Check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes and hopefully fewer shenanigans.

One more thing. I think it’s worth noting that I spelled shenanigans right on the first try.

Categories: 7 Quick Takes Friday, Everything Else | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Being a Wife: Sometimes You Don’t Have to be “Right”

About 6 years ago or so, Scott and I went to a bridal shower. It was supposed to be men and women but, as these things usually turn out, there were mostly women at the event. Come to think of it, the groom-to-be wasn’t even there. The hostess’s boyfriend was present, and he and Scott hid in the corner for most of the event. I sat on the couch, wishing I could hide in the corner, too.

Most of the ladies in attendance were single or divorced, which made the “advice” game a bit idiotic interesting. It wasn’t really a game, per say, but everyone anonymously wrote down a piece of marriage advice on a little card, placed it in a basket, and the bride-to-be read all the advice aloud. I smiled to myself when I wrote down my advice. Scott and I weren’t married yet, and we’d only been dating for about a year, but I’d already learned a lot about the impact of the little things. “Surprise him with a romantic dinner…especially if you’ve been fighting!”

After Scott and I had our first argument, I was horribly upset. I hated the tension it put between us, and I wanted to take an eraser to that fight so we could be happy again. My previous relationships never made it past the first fight, and I just knew this one wouldn’t either. We’d only been together a few months at that point, but I couldn’t bear to lose the happiness we had together. After the fight was settled, the tension still hung in the air between us. I needed to make a gesture, take him on a romantic date–something! But I didn’t have any money to do anything.

So, I invited him over after work. I lit candles. I made Hamburger Helper. Hey, it’s what I had! He was probably dreading coming over to see me after our fight, but when he walked in and saw the candles, the dinner, and me in my fanciest dress, all of the tension was gone. I felt the anxiety melt away as we sat down together, happy again, no longer worried about that stupid fight. It was perfect.

I was confident when I put my advice card in the basket that it was a gem. Let’s just say I was the only one who thought so.

I don’t remember the exact advice on the other cards, but I remember the gist of it. “Tell him to do as you say. You are the boss.” When my advice was read aloud, it was ridiculed. “Who wrote that down?!?!” someone shouted. “Yeah right! Have him cook for you! I’m not cooking for my husband! Especially when we’ve been fighting!” The general consensus was that he’s always wrong, you’re always right, and make sure you get your way. Or else! And make sure he knows you’re not his maid and you’re not his cook!

It’s in our human nature to be selfish, to want to be dominant. When I look around at failed relationships, the most common themes I see are a complete lack of willingness to do anything for the other person, and an unshakable determination to be right and have your own way. How can we say we love someone with all our hearts, forever, but refuse to do anything in the relationship? How can we be so unyielding and so domineering that we put being right and having our way in front of our relationships? Just making a gesture to show your love doesn’t make you a slave, and neither does letting the person you love have their way.

Just ask Scott: I like to have my way and I like being right. We can’t drive to the grocery store without me correcting him on which lane to get into and when to change lanes. Doing laundry is a challenge because clothes have to be folded the right way–aka my way. And I cannot tell you how hard it is to hold back from going into gross detail as to why you have to get into a certain lane at a certain time and why shirts should be folded a certain way.

The last few months, I haven’t been feeling like myself. I’ve been back and forth to the doctor, poked, prodded and scanned, and there’s still more to come. I don’t know if it’s just from anxiety, but my energy level is zero. I feel exhausted constantly, and I’ve fallen behind on the housework. Without complaining or waiting to be asked, Scott started doing the laundry. He’s even made an effort to fold things the way I like them to be folded. He hasn’t mastered it by any means, but he’s put forth a real effort. It’s the little things, after all, that make you feel loved and protected.

I recently started following Hallie Lord, aka Moxie Wife on Facebook, and she’s been doing a marriage challenge with a different task for each day. Here are a few samples:

Happy Sunday, pretty ladies! I just love today’s marriage challenge! Are you ready for it? Simply “leave him a sweet note.” What fun!

Tomorrow’s task is another sweet one, my fellow marriage challenge participants! “Kiss your husband the first time you see him in the morning.” Well, that shouldn’t be too hard. 😉

Sounds easy, you say? Brace yourself for the toughie:

Oh, girls. We should probably start praying for one another right now. Tomorrow’s marriage challenge? “Go a whole day without correcting your husband.” Good luck! 😉

Now, I just started following, so I haven’t been doing the challenge….yet. When I saw that last one, I knew immediately that I needed to follow along, even if I’m a few weeks behind. Somewhere along the line, I turned into the stereotypical nagging wife and left the eager to please, young girlfriend behind in the dust. In a way, our relationship has matured. I’m far more willing to stand up to Scott than I was back then, and if something he does bothers me, I need to let him know–to a point! But while I’m just as likely to admit fault when I do something to hurt him, I’m less likely to make a romantic gesture in an attempt to erase the hurt. At some point, I allowed my want to control things get in the way of making his happiness my priority. Is our marriage failing? Absolutely not. But I do everything I can to make sure Scott knows at every turn that he is loved and the he is my top priority? No, I’m afraid not.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in the Lord. –Colossians 3:18

Probably the most hated verse in the Bible. However, you have to keep in mind:

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them. –Colossians 3:19

It’s about serving and loving each other to build each other up, not trying to beat each other into shape. It’s easy to forget that in our me-me-me culture. But we’re supposed to be separate from the culture. I’m not talking about any radical changes, just making an effort to do a little something for him every day, to put his needs before mine.  I think it’s time for a 30 day challenge; to make myself a little sweeter, and maybe rediscover the woman who cared more about being in love than being right.

Categories: Everything Else, Marriage, On a personal note... | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t I Just Feel Like a Camel?

Last weekend, I went to a baby shower for my oldest friend. We’ve known each other since kindergarten, and it’s so wonderful that she’s having a baby girl next month! We don’t get to see each other very often, and I hadn’t seen the house she and her husband bought before.

It was nice.

I loved how the kitchen had two entries, one from the hall and the other from the dining room, which was roomy and cozy all at the same time. I loved the bathroom with the big jet tub. And the walk-in closet that was bigger than my bathroom, and had room enough for a vanity. I wasn’t fond of the tile in the bathroom, but whatever. I like color and no one else does. That kitchen was just perfect, though.

I immediately started looking at houses online, and thinking about how horrible our house is. Granted, if I would just take a few days to do the touch-up painting, it would be much improved, but why settle for improved when we could buy something nicer.

Covet, covet, covet. And what’s worse, I thought nothing of it. “It’s just what people my age do,” I told myself. What? It’s what people my age do? What does that even mean?!?!?!? Despite the nonsensical nature of my quest, I continued exploring more expensive houses

My reality call came a few days later as I was reading Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthot on my lunch break. The first few chapters have gone by at a break-neck pace, running down the societal conditions, the philosophers, the publications,  everything that created American-style Christianity. As we move into the rise of the prosperity theology, Douthot points to (naturally) the story of the rich young man we also read about in Sunday’s gospel this week. I suppose God knew I needed a double dose of this story this week.

And when he was gone forth into the way, a certain man running up and kneeling before him, asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may receive life everlasting? And Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? None is good but one, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, bear not false witness, do no fraud, honour thy father and mother. But he answering, said to him: Master, all these things I have observed from my youth. And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: One thing is wanting unto thee: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. Who being struck sad at that saying, went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.  Mark 10:17-22

It’s one of the pillars of Christ’s message here on earth. Sell what you have to benefit the poor. When the disciples don’t get the picture, Jesus gives one of His most famous (and famously misinterpreted) analogies:

Picture courtesy of my mother-in-law. No seriously.

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus again answering, saith to them: Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God? It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. –Mark 10:24-25

I read a few years ago, that Jesus most likely actually said “rope” instead of “camel” just then. Makes a heck of a lot more sense. In Bad Religion, however, Douthot points something out about this story that I hadn’t thought of before..

 Who wondered the more, saying among themselves: Who then can be saved? –Mark 10:26

This message wasn’t something they smugly accepted, given their lack of riches. These guys walked away from what little fortunes they had. They walked away from comfort to follow Christ in poverty and yet when they heard this, they got worried. Whether it was a rope or a camel or a piano, they heard Jesus talking about them, not some rich guy. Why were they worried about it? Because they understood the message. It’s not about having money, it’s about desiring it.

For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows. –1Timothy 6:10

Once again, it is not having wealth that stains our souls, it is seeking it. I could be doing something worthwhile. Reading a book, watching a mass, cleaning the house–Scott would love that! Instead, I’m sitting at the computer, looking at houses, slowly increasing our maximum price range, because I want what everyone else has. What I have isn’t poisoning me, it’s what I’m chasing after.

I keep banging my head up against this wall. One minute I’m not concerned with material things, the next, I want to burn every possession I have and replace it with something “nicer.” For every time I push these desires aside, they rise up again 100 times. Sometimes I think I just can’t get my head straight.

And Jesus looking on them, saith: With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God. –Mark 10:27

Here I am, big clumsy camel, trying to work my way through the eye of the needle. Not because of what I have but because of what I want. God’s love is stronger than that. We forget that. We may say it and say we believe it, but at the end of the day, we let ourselves believe that our weaknesses are stronger than God. Every time we say, “I can’t help it. There’s no getting around it,” we are disbelieving the promises of grace.

Pope Benedict reminds us that God’s love is stronger. 

Jesus, however, understands the deep desire that exists in this person and, the Evangelist notes, turns a loving gaze on him: the gaze of God (cf. v. 21). However, Jesus also realizes what the weak point of that man is: his very attachment to his many possessions; and so he proposes that the man give it all to the poor in order that his treasure — and hence his heart — will no longer be on earth but in heaven, and he adds: “Come, follow me” (v. 21). But, instead of accepting Jesus’ invitation joyfully, the man went away sorrowfully (cf. v. 22) because he can not break away from his riches, that will never give him happiness and eternal life….. The history of the Church is full of examples of rich people who used their possessions in an evangelical way, even attaining holiness. Let us only think of St Francis, St Elizabeth of Hungary or St Charles Borromeo. May the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, help us to accept Jesus’ invitation joyfully, in order to enter the fullness of life. –Pope Benedict XVI

Aren’t we fortunate, that despite our many temptations, we are given, not only the fullness of grace, the very spirit of God to guide us, but also such a multitude of examples, of people who lived the gospel. They walked in the footsteps of Jesus to make it easier for us to see those footsteps and follow after.

With the election approaching and everyone talking about the economy and what’s in it for their checking account, let’s all pray that we may be invested in what really matters and not distracted by material wealth. Once again, I’m renewing my commitment to love and share what I have, and to truly be thankful for what God has given me, rather than being envious of what God has given someone else.

And I will try to remember that too many accessories clutter a camel.

Categories: Chasing After God, Everything Else, Meditations, What the Catholic Church Teaches | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vol 6

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After two MRIs and more Doctor appointments than I would like to count….we still don’t have a diagnosis. At my most recent follow-up appointment, I was advised that I have a tiny cyst on my brain that’s not the cause of the numbness in my left arm and leg, and besides that, nothing conclusive. So, we’re doing more blood work and another MRI! Sweet! The 1st MRI was my back, the 2nd was my brain, and the 3rd will be my cervical spine, aka my neck. One may wonder why they didn’t just do all in 1 shot. Actually, I’m glad they didn’t. Because that would have meant about 1.5 hours stuck in here:

…listening to this:

…and I would have had a definitive diagnosis of insanity with a prescription for this…

So, doing all 3 MRIs in 1 shot would be a bad idea. However, since my next appointment isn’t for another two weeks, I decided to wait until next week to do the MRI. Because sometimes you need a week off from having MRIs.

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I have a confession to make. I forgot to register to vote. Scott is so ashamed of me! Especially after I posted about learning the importance of voting. I really did intend to. I really did, I just forgot. I’m blaming the cyst on my brain.

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Yes, I plan on blaming a lot of things on the cyst on my brain. I paid good money on that MRI. I expect to get some mileage out of it.

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I posted earlier this week about the importance of being meek and I prayed that I could obtain this virtue. Of course, I had a horrifying day at work which came to a head with me crying in the bathroom because I just couldn’t stand to put up with anyone’s nonsense anymore. Once I made it home, I realized I had been under spiritual attack all day. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a St. Michael medal? I think I know what tomorrow’s prayer will be!

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Mmmmm. It’s worth getting married to be able to stay home on Saturday night and chow down on this yumminess.

The past few weekends, we’ve had date night at home, and I’ve fixed this amazing Chicken Parmesan Bake recipe twice. It’s supposed to be the most pinned recipe on Pinterest? I’m not on Pinterest. I pinned this chicken with my fork. And I put it in my mouth. It’s such an easy, and yet fancy dish. Oh, and since I didn’t use the whole jar of chunky marinara sauce, I used the leftover sauce to make English Muffin Pizzas so none of it went to waste.

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I picked a radish out of my garden. It wasn’t ready. Dang it!

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Yep, I’m not just excited, I’m ALL CAPS EXCITED!!!

An Affair of the Heart is this weekend in Oklahoma City. Every February and November October, my sisters-in-law and I go shop, hang out and eat Indian Tacos. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. I’m hoping to get a serious jump on Christmas shopping, get some fresh air and exercise (lots of walking to do!) and just relax. I think it’s going to be a good weekend!

Now that is just beautiful.

Let’s see, I’ve posted pictures of an Indian Taco, an MRI machine, a Chicken Parmesan casserole, and a strait jacket….Head on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes and less crazy talk!

 And then my kids started asking me why they should wear clothes or brush their hair since we never see other human lifeforms, and began developing startlingly close relationships to their imaginary friends, and I promptly signed them up for 1,000 activities.  –Jen @ Conversion Diary

Or maybe more crazy talk. Whatevs.

 

Categories: 7 Quick Takes Friday | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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