Savory Spice Shop Southend {Giveaway}

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Great news for my local readers! I’m giving away a gift set of four of my favorite spices from/courtesy of Savory Spice Shop Southend!

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It’s funny, I get emails fairly frequently from people/businesses wanting to do giveaways here on TCL, but I’m pretty picky. And Savory Spice Shop didn’t even ask me to do this giveaway…I asked them! I was originally just hoping they’d let me give away a bottle of the Homestead seasoning since I keep talking about that one. But, Amy (the owner) helped me come up with the idea of featuring some of my personal faves in a gift set. Woohoo!

I thought this would be something that the Eat in Month challenge participants may be interested in since I keep blogging about some of these spices and how they make great quick-fix meals. I’ve also had the idea in the past to do more giveaways for challenge participants. Maybe I can work out something for Eat in Month 2014?

Anywho, I’ve just fallen in love with the spices at the Savory Spice Shop since they help me keep delicious and healthy eats in my busy life. I’m a believer in the power of the spice!

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So, if you live in Charlotte, and you’re interested in getting some free spice goodies, read on.

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I recently swung by the spice shop to pick up some granulated onion for a recipe (coming soon).

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And, while I was there, I heard that this Mt. Elbert All-Purpose Seasoning is their current hot seller. I had to get a bottle to try. Side note: I’ve actually tried it since taking these photos, and it is great!

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And on that same trip, I dropped off this – a gift set of some of my favorite spices. I had picked it up earlier and taken it home to shoot some photos to share. This was my drop off trip to return it to the shop for safekeeping for the giveaway winner.

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Wanna see what’s inside?

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Not only do you get four of my favorite spices, you get some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves (they upgraded to the California bay leaves since that’s the type I purchased at the shop and use at home), nutmeg, a chili pepper, and a whole star anise.

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And for the spices, one lucky winner will receive:

  • True Ceylon Cinnamon, Ground – “real” cinnamon (future post on this to come one day)
  • Team Sweet Mama’s Kansas City Rub (so good rubbed on chicken or steak – blogged about here)
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Fine (similar to the one I used for these homemade pink-salted caramels)
  • Homestead Seasoning (my current signature and most useful fave – great on everything – from meats to vegetables – blogged about here)

***

*HOW TO WIN*

How to enter (I like options, so here are a few ways you can play):

Rules:

  • Entries must be posted by Saturday, 1/26/13 11:59pm ET to count
  • Winner must be able to pick up the gift set from the Savory Spice Shop {Southend}, Charlotte, NC location (off South Boulevard)
  • Winner will be randomly selected
  • For each entry to be counted separately, please post one comment per entry method
  • Winner will be notified via email, so a valid email address is required

Everyone’s a winner: I also have a special treat for you. If you go by the Savory Spice Shop in Southend (Charlotte, NC) and tell them The Chic Life sent you, you’ll get a free sample bag (while supplies last) of spice goodness!

Thank you Savory Spice Shop Southend for this tasty giveaway! Good luck!

Pantry Clean-Out and Eat in Month Groceries

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I’m so glad to hear so many people are joining in on the Eat in Month challenge! Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with people sharing how they’re getting ready. The theme of the day seems to be prep, mostly stocking up on groceries. It’s a good strategy and one I started on the other day while I had some free time.

I spent a good portion of Sunday prepping for Eat in Month as follows:

  1. I removed any old/expired foods from the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
  2. I assessed what I had remaining and what I thought I needed (as far as solid staples) and made a shopping list.
  3. I went grocery shopping, focusing on getting staples that were on sale.
  4. I re-stocked and re-organized (grouping like items) the new and old staples in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

I gotta say, this is definitely a great way to start the year. I feel like I have a great grasp on what foods I have and I’m ready to tackle the new year eats-wise. And I just love how everything is so organized! Here are some photos of my pantry and the groceries I picked up:

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{Before}

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{After}

I still want to get some more storage containers, but I’m researching good options. I’m considering just getting larger mason jars, but I’m not sure they’re the most efficient. I definitely want to get glass containers. Do you guys have any recommendations?

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I love having frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer at all times. The vegetables make a great, last-minute side and can also be thrown into soups and noodle stir-fries.

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I love broths for quick soups, to cook grains, or to make simple sauces.

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This is a random mix of items here. I don’t drink soda very often, but I like having some light options when the mood strikes. I love having the ginger ales they sell at health food stores around – they have great ingredient lists. This one in particular is sweetened with honey and pineapple juice. I also really love Cascal. Fresh fruit is a must – we almost always have bananas and apples. Snack bars are also a must, but I didn’t see any that had a good sale price. I love these Green Superfood bars, but they’re a little more expensive than I want to spend for pantry snack bars. I try to stay under $2. Larabars are my favorite, and I like to get big boxes of them at Costco.

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Pasta and sauce = easiest last minute dinner ever. We have a quasi-homemade beef sauce that we make when we don’t know what else to eat. I should probably share that recipe with you guys. Maybe in the next week or so? But, if you’re really desperate, you can just cook pasta and add this sauce and call it a night.

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Various tomato products are great for some many things – to add flavor to soups or make quick sauces.

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Here are some more great pantry staples – tomato paste – to add to sauce and soups. Garlic – good with almost everything. Panko breadcrumbs – makes a simple and easy dinner when paired with chicken.

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I’m not vegan or dairy-free, but I prefer non-dairy milks to make oatmeal or smoothies.

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Tofu – an easy way to bulk up protein when you haven’t been to the store recently. I like to add these to soups or noodle stir-fries, and it’s great marinated in soy sauce and then roasted. I love yogurt for a filling but healthy snack – straight-up or topped with granola. Eggs – a great, quick protein and a breakfast staple in our house. We love fried eggs or egg bakes with whole grain toast.

***

I’m thinking of re-writing my pantry tips post. I read the one I did a couple years ago, and it’s still good, but I think I have a couple more tips, and I’d definitely like to update the photos. Any interest?

Anywho, I’ve got some ideas for quick and easy meal ideas, and I made a new soup recipe that would be great to make for a cozy meal. Plus, it makes lots of leftovers that you can freezer for later. I think frozen soup is going to be my life saver this year as far as the challenge goes.

Reader question: What groceries have you gotten recently?

Small Business Saturday 2012

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Some of my Zumba friends have been asking me for a tour of the local farmer’s market, so I decided what better day to do it than Small Business Saturday.

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We enjoyed a sweaty, Saturday morning Zumba class and then all headed over to Atherton Mills for an afternoon of local shopping fun.

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We first grabbed lunch at Luna’s Living Kitchen. I posted photos of my delicious quinoa-kamut burger on twitter and Instagram. My friend Dion commented about how consistently good this place is, and she’s so right. Every time I come here, I get the quinoa burger. And every time, it’s beautifully presented and tastes so fresh, inspiring, and nourishing. The restaurant and food have such positive energy that I just love coming here.

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When I did the Atherton tour for bloggers, Lynn told us about the barista at Monk’s Groovy Beans. She was trained in Washington and makes a mean latte. There aren’t many places around here where you can get such a beautiful drink. Of course, their booth was our next stop.

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We also shopped around the market checking the fresh pasta…

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…and terrariums! I didn’t even know the market had these, but I really want one for my office now. I like the one on the right with the pink-veined leaves. The prices ranged from about $40-60 for most of the ones I saw, but you can apparently design your own if you want!

We also checked out the other booths at the market to see their offerings, like: probiotic pickles, locally made jams & jellies, roasted nuts, handmade soaps, handmade neck & eye pillows, handmade chocolates, and various other goodies.

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We next took a quick trip to Vin Master, followed by a trip to the Savory Spice Shop, which may be my new favorite place in town. I just love looking at all the cool spices and herbs and getting ideas for delicious things to eat and drink.

***

Here’s what I brought home from our field trip:

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Soothing, handmade neck and eye pillows filled with organic flax and lavender. These are handmade by Lotus Rouge and available on Etsy. I think they’d make a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. She even put a drop of your choice of essential oil on the pillows for you.

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Two pink lady apples from Simply Local.

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I picked up a couple things from Whispering Willow:

  • Lavender Dyer Sachets – use these in place of chemical-laden dryer sheets to give you clothes the fresh smell of lavender. I’ve been wanting to try these for awhile, and my friend Lindsey got these and said she likes them
  • Grapefruit soap – made with clay!
  • Orange lip balm – a clean balm with real ingredients, not chemicals

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I picked up this bottle of Balinea from Vin Master.

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And the Savory Spice Shop gave away these goodie bags for a limited time to celebrate Small Business Saturday. There are some cool things in here, so I can’t wait to try them.

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I also selected the following to bring home to make delicious things later (from left to right):

  • Chardonnay Fumee de Sel – I should have never taste-tested this one because as soon as I did, I knew I wanted to take some home. It was almost $9 for the bottle, but I’m excited to enjoy it on various eats later. If I remember correctly, the salt is infused with the smoke from chardonnay barrels. Cool, right?
  • Medium Yellow Curry Powder – I’m thinking this will make for some great, quick-fix dinners very soon
  • Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend – great for seafood! And more quick dinners.
  • Organic French Thyme – I needed some more thyme, but don’t we all?

My friends and I had a great time shopping at these local businesses, and we’re planning to do another round soon. Three cheers for supporting local, small businesses!

Reader question: Did you celebrate Small Business Saturday? Where did you go and/or what did you get?

Busy Doing Life

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This week has been such a whirlwind but in a totally awesome way, of course! I think I averaged coming home Tuesday – Thursday after 10 pm each night! Phew! That’s right…I left my house around 8:30 am…and got home nearly 14 hours later. Busy means good, though. I have lots of fun stuff ahead.

And as for the fun this past week, here’s what you missed…

I taught Zumba three days in a row this week! I subbed a class for another instructor who is on vacay. That’s a whole-lotta-Zumba, peeps! It was so fun, though. I had special guests show up to my Thursday class – my very first participants. As in, they were there the very first time I taught a whole class by myself. They were regulars for awhile but have had some personal stuff keeping them from class. I was SO excited to see them again, though! They made my day!

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(photo credit – Healthy Tipping Point)

After Zumba on Wednesday, fellow instructor Sarah and I met up with bloggie friends Katy and Caitlin for froyo!

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(photo credit – Healthy Tipping Point)

And then on Thursday, after Zumba, I ran into Caitlin again (along with two of my fabulous new participants – hello Carmen and Katie!) at the Ben Does Life event. I also had the pleasure of meeting the very cool Ben of Ben Does Life.

If you haven’t seen his inspirational video (about his 120 lb weight loss), here it is:

This is a MUST watch! ;)

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And since I haven’t shared any grocery shopping photos in awhile…here’s what I got at Trader Joe’s yesterday: yerba mate tea, Larabars, Soy corn dogs, feta cheese, vegetable broth, vanilla soy milk, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, honey and a special ingredient – chocolate cookies!

I have a bunch of cookies and cream themed recipes in mind…be on the look out for those! ;)

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I also got spinach, Canadian bacon, raspberries, organic hot dogs, baking chocolate, chocolate chips, yogurt, and brussels sprouts.

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And in the eating arena, here’s what I had Friday night: a new recipe to hide vegetable servings – Potato-Cauliflower mash with fresh herbs. (nom!)

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Salad

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Tri-tip with a new dry rub recipe (perfect for when you have steak but nothing to go with it, sauce/toppings-wise).

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And have you seen one of Bailey’s best begging tricks? It’s hard to not give him a bite of steak when he looks this cute. :lol:

Trading Up my Saturdays

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When I was in my early twenties, Saturday morning often meant a groggy morning after a long night out with friends. Even if I didn’t drink very much, I still stayed up too late and didn’t get enough sleep. Nowadays, I still don’t get as much sleep as I want, but I love that my Saturday mornings are now so peaceful and start earlier.

(note: most photos on this post taken with my iPhone, since I kept forgetting my DSLR at home! Whoops!)

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Gone are hours wasted in front of the TV “waking up”. Instead, I wake up eagerly looking forward to our weekly trip to the farmer’s market.

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Sometimes I’m so excited, I even dress up a little.

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Our Saturday morning farmers market habit has grown with us. At first just hubby and I went. Then, we started taking Bailey. Now, I’m even making friends with some of the people at the market and look forward to a casual conversation with them every week.

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And another tasty tradition is enjoying the eats at the market. Roots food truck always has something yummy ready for breakfast. On Saturday, we enjoyed an egg sammie with pickled cabbage and an egg/potato hash. Yum!

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I found something new this week – locally grown rice! I didn’t know any markets around carried the stuff, but here it is. I got some of the brown after chatting with the lady working the booth (I think she’s the owner?).

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From the same vendor, I purchased one life-saving strawberries and mint “lollies”, made with strawberries from the creator’s garden! So cool, right? Mostly, I wanted the treat for the coolness factor since it was a hot-hot day!

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I returned home with quite the stash: cabbage, kale, blueberries, brown rice, and 25 year balsamic vinegar. This is the nicest bottle of balsamic we’ve ever purchased, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying the higher quality…and therefore better flavor. Perhaps it’s time to make more focaccia?

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After dropping Bailey off, we headed out to run more errands.

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We stopped at Zoe’s Kitchen for lunch. I was really impressed with their menu and tasteful vegetarian selections. Although I’m not vegetarian, it tells me that they’re really thinking about the quality and content of their meals, which I appreciate.

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Although it was hot outside, we ate al fresco to enjoy the fresh air.

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I got 2 (maybe 3?!) vegetable servings with lunch between the cabbage slaw on my grilled chicken pita and the roasted veggies. Again…impressive, right? ;) This is a great spot for Project Veg-Up participants needing eats on the go!

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Hubby got the chicken kabob plate.

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I noticed this Fine Cooking magazine while I was out running errands. Look familiar? ;)

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And as the day came to a close, we had a few more fun activities in store. We saw the Hangover 2 (funny, but not as funny as the first)…

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…and then a late outing to Barnes and Noble. I just can’t spend too much time here browsing books and magazines and finding new reading material to take home. I got 3 magazines, and I’m hoping to try out some yummy new recipes this summer with them!

Just like my Saturday mornings, the evenings are a lot different from those spent in my early twenties, too. If I wasn’t working in a restaurant, I was probably staying out too late with friends. And while those were fun days, and I’m glad I had them, I’m also glad to be enjoying more low-key times nowadays. I like to think of it as trading up my Saturdays.

How have your weekends changed over the years?

Return to Real Food

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Saturday was a fabulous day!

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We started at one of my favorite places – the farmer’s market.

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Bailey was as social as ever.

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Hubby and I found lots of fresh veg to buy.

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We got some organic kale, bok choy, power lettuce mix, and snap peas.

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Then, I managed to talk (my meat-eating) hubby into getting a late breakfast at Luna’s Living Kitchen. I’ve been wanting to come to this place for forever! I used to frequent it back when it was called Real Food Charlotte, and I’m so glad it’s re-opened.

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I enjoyed lunch al fresco with my two favorite boys – hubby

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and Bailey.

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Hubby got the parfait with coconut yogurt, hemp granola, blueberries, and goji berries.

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I got the buckwheat blaster

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“This meal is the brother of the Swiss Alps creation (Bircher Muesli). It is the perfect game of the buckwheat, dates, apple, coconut, and nutmeg.”

I was reminded how much I like this place by the yummy food. I also found out the restaurant is now open for dinner Monday – Thursday. Woohoo!

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Next up – a shopping trip at Crate & Barrel! Photos of my goodies next time. ;)

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And since we were in the area, we hit up The Cowfish!

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It was hubby’s suggestion, too!

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I got to pick the entree, so he picked the appetizer.

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Crab Rangoon dip.

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For the entree, we got one of their specialty rolls. I forgot the name, and it doesn’t appear to be on their online menu.

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Basically, it had shrimp tempura (with coconut flakes), kani, cucumber, with avocado and papaya and coconut flakes on top.

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The roll was some sort of specialty today and by purchasing it, they donated 20% to Loaves & Fishes.

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It was a good excuse to try a new roll that sounded really tasty.

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Next up – a makeover! I got a mini facial at Origins. I’ve been a die-hard Bobbi Brown fan for the last 10+ years, but recently, I’ve been thinking of switching to more natural skin care. Since my mom started using Origins, I decided to check it out.

They did a scrub, a serum, a moisturizer, eye cream…plus a mineral powder, concealer, lip gloss, eye makeup, and mascara! Fun!

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Ta-daaaaa! I thought it looked pretty good, but I don’t wear much face makeup day to day and probably won’t be buying the make-up products. As for the skin care, I’m a firm believer in testing before you buy. So, I got enough samples of the scrub, moisturizer, and serum to last about a week. We’ll see how my skin looks then. :)

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The fun just kept going…next up we saw Bridesmaids. There were some graphic scenes I could have done without, but overall, I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was really funny. There were some parts I wish they would have tied up better, but it was worth watching. :)

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And finally, we ended the day with a pizza dinner in and watching some TV at home and just relaxing. I’m feeling much better, but still dealing with some residual fatigue from being sick last week, so I didn’t really want to do anything too crazy.

Have you seen any good movies lately? What did you see and do you recommend them?

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