20 random facts

I have seen the whole ’20 random facts’ thing floating around Instagram and blogs so I thought I’d join in on the fun!  Here are some random things about me that you may or may not know:

1.  I am an only child and if you’re wondering whether or not I was/am spoiled, the answer is yes.

2.  My mom is Italian (she was born in Italy) and my dad was Canadian with German and Irish blood (he passed away when I was 8).

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3.  I was born in Toronto, Ontario and have never lived anywhere else!!

4.  I have visited Italy, Switzerland (only for a day!), Costa Rica, Aruba, Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and a few states – New York, Florida, California and Arizona.  I’d like to see Chicago and Las Vegas next!

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5.  I hate wearing bras and pants (unless they have an elastic waistband).

6.  My favourite healthy foods are sweet potatoes and avocados.  My favourite not-so-healthy foods are pizza and burritos.

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7.  I don’t have feeling in part of my bottom lip.  This happened after I had my wisdom teeth taken out a few years ago.

8.  I love flat diet coke but very rarely drink it.

9.  I have a hard time sleeping at night if my room is messy.  Things have to be in order for the next day mostly because I like to hit snooze repeatedly in the morning and have to be able to find everything when I’m hustling to get to work!

10.  I worked in retail for all four years of my undergrad + one year of teacher’s college.  I worked at The Bombay Company, American Eagle, Pottery Barn, Jean Machine, Aritzia, Holt Renfrew, and my favourite – Michael Kors.

11.  I hate the taste of alcohol.  Yes, even wine!

12. I met a handful of my closest friends through Instagram and blogging. This little blog of mine has brought me @runemz, Danielle, Coach PK, Robin, @sarademuch, @shannondempsey, Angela, and Jess. Some of us talk almost daily and I really don’t know what I’d do without these girls.

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13.  I have never made myself a cup of coffee!  I’m not one of those people who drinks it daily so the only time I ever really have one is when I’m craving a fancy latte from Starbucks (probably once or twice a month).

14.  Foods I will not eat: meat, fish, sushi (even vegetarian), and eggs.  I will eat eggs if they are baked into something like a cake but I absolutely cannot eat them solo.

15.  I haven’t read a non-running related book in an embarrassingly long time.  Any recommendations??

16.  I’ve been told I look like Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey and Emily Blunt.  Random assortment of celebrities!!  I don’t see a resemblance to any of them!

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17.  I hate shopping in messy stores.  I have anxiety when I walk into places like Zara, H&M or any department stores.  That’s probably why I spend all my money at Lululemon.  Everything is neat and easy to find.  Bonus: all of their pants are stretchy.

18.  Applying makeup is like rocket science to me.  All I know how to do is brush bronzer all over my face and put mascara on my eyelashes.

19.  I have horrible short-term memory.  I will go upstairs to get something and forget what it is by the time I get there.  Or I’ll attempt to email someone and quickly forget and become distracted doing something else.  Don’t mess with my long-term memory though.  I will remember something you said or did to me 10 years ago.

20.  I cannot solve a crossword to save my life but am pretty good at solving sudoku puzzles!

Tell me something random about YOU!

Thinking Out Loud #48: Let’s talk Instagram

Happy Thinking Out Loud Thursday!

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I’ve decided to do things a little differently this week.  Usually my TOL posts are just random lists of things I feel like telling you guys but today I’ll be thinking out loud about Instagram.  Let me preface this by saying I am no guru nor am I an Instagram sensation.  I don’t have a million followers nor do I have the desire to acquire that many.  That was never my intention when I started my account.  I do, on occasion, receive questions about how I made my connections and built a following.  I thought I’d put together a blog post about what I personally think helps build a solid and appealing Instagram account.

Post quality photos.  This one may not matter to a lot of people but for me, quality images keep me coming back and make me want to follow you.  I like clear, colourful, fun photos that are easy on the eyes and make me smile.  I can think of a handful of my favourite accounts when it comes to great images:

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Clockwise from top left: @heatherrosescott, @fitandyy, @kimberleydt, @jennamchugh

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Clockwise from top left: @wholelivinglauren, @almondbuttersaurus, @kneadtocook, @forkandbeans

I know we are not all pro photographers or own GoPros, can’t bend the way Heather does, probably can’t make our food look as good as those foodies do, we don’t always have perfect lighting/utensils/bowls, and maybe don’t own all the cool gear that Andy wears in her rad photos….but we all have the ability to make things look decent, right?  If we are posting to Instagram, we all have smartphones which are capable of taking pretty good photos.  Nobody is going to say “HOLY THAT LOOKS SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!!!” on a blurry, fuzzy photo of last night’s soup.  You know what I’m saying?  Do your best!

Use hashtags!!!  There are hashtags for everything and they are a great way to find people who share similar interests.  Use hashtags and people will find you, it’s that simple.  Are you a runner?  Look at other runner accounts and see what they use.  Some popular ones are #runnersofinstagram, #instarun and #runhappy.  Are you a foodie?  There are TONS that you can use and choose according to what “kind” of foodie you are: #vegan, #glutenfree, #paleo, #eatclean, etc.  Are you into lifting and fitness?  I don’t know many of these so I just creeped some accounts and they use things like #fitfam, #fitlife, #girlswithmuscle, #bodybuilding, etc.  Do you have a dog and want to connect with other dog lovers?  Use #dogsofinstagram, #igpets, #instapuppy, and so on.

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I personally don’t mind hashtags and find a lot of humour and entertainment in some of the more random ones but I know there are people who don’t feel the same way.  If you still want to use them but don’t want to have a mini essay as your caption, it’s a good idea to put them in your comments instead (that way they kind of “disappear” as more people comment).  I’ve recently started doing this and think it’s a great way to still have them attached to your photos but not take away from the caption in itself.  Does that make sense?  Here’s an example:

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To make this easier, I have all of my hashtags saved in my “notes” on my phone and then can just copy and paste them into the first comment on Instagram.  The ones I use obviously only apply to running so I will only paste them to running-related photos.

A lot of companies have specific hashtags they use and will often search that hashtag to view the photos people post.  Heck, they may like your photo so much that they repost it on their own accounts!  Some of the ones I use are #MilesChangeYou (Mizuno), #BestLifeProject (Vega), and #KeepItTight (ProCompression).  Just make sure that your hashtags are in line with your photos and you’re not using #MilesChangeYou on a picture of your dog or baby or protein smoothie.  Easy enough, right?

Like and comment on photos.  This is another way to have people find you.  TALK TO THEM.  Kind of like a real life relationship.  You can’t just sit back and expect to make friends.  Tell people how awesome they are, congratulate them on a race, ask questions (if you have any), tell them their breakfast looks delicious, etc.  But be genuine.  People will start to notice if you leave a thumbs up emoji on every single one of their photos just for the sake of leaving a comment.  Sometimes emojis are the only thing that can accurately express what you want to say – I get it.  I often leave the “laughing so hard I’m crying” emoji on some funny photos because it more accurately represents my actual face than me saying “that is funny”.  It’s also hard to comment all the time and people don’t expect it, so don’t worry.  We don’t have a million hours in a day.  Just try to connect with people in a way that shows that you care when you have the time.

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Engage with people who like and comment on your photos.  This is time consuming, yes, but it’s kind of like blogging.  If people comment or ask you questions and you just ignore them, what makes you think they are going to want to come back?  Relationships are two-sided and require a little bit of reciprocation.  It is nearly impossible to respond to comments on every single photo (or blog post) but try to engage with people as best as you can.  I like to be as personal as possible and respond to people individually when I can (rather than grouping 8 people together in one comment).  Sometimes when a bunch of people leave similar comments or ask the same question then yeah, the whole grouping thing is justified and makes sense.  But I think it means a little more when you take a second or two to address someone individually.  Maybe it sounds silly but think about responses you’ve gotten – don’t you feel a bit different when someone says “@____@____ @____@____@_____ thanks everyone!” vs. “@the_athletarian Thanks Christina!  Hope you have a great day!”?  It’s just that personal touch that I know I appreciate so I try my best to do it too.

These two might be more of a personal thing but I like consistency and variety.  Post enough so that you maintain your presence on Instagram (AKA people remember who you are) but don’t be excessive to the point where people are going to be like “HER AGAIN?!”  It’s a fine balance!  I typically post once a day, sometimes twice…but there are days that go by where I post nothing.  I also like to see variety.  I gravitate towards people that share more than just one thing.  I like to see selfies, run photos, your family and friends, delicious food, funny quotes, etc.  Maybe that makes me creepy but I like when I know more about a person besides the fact that they can run fast or squat a million pounds.  Of course there are some accounts I follow that are strictly food or running inspiration but for the most part, I like getting to “know” people.

That’s all I can think of for now.  Like I said, I am no expert and this is all based on my personal opinions and experience.  Different things may work for different people.  If there is anything I forgot to mention that you can think of or if you have any questions, leave a comment below!  I’d love to hear opinions and thoughts about this!

Have Friday EVE!!!

Marathon Monday: getting back on track

Happy Monday!  Hope you all had a great weekend!  I have no complaints about mine.  I went to dinner on Friday night to celebrate a good friend’s 30th birthday (pizza!)…

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…then out to dinner again on Saturday with my cousins (falafel tacos!)…

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…and topped it off with a glorious 10 mile run OUTSIDE in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday!  WHAAAAAAAT?!  Looks like the weather made a turn for the better and I cannot be happier.

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I’ve decided to get back to my Marathon Mondays because I finally feel like I’m getting myself back on track.  March was a hard month.  Coming back after a marathon is really, really hard for me.  I was finding every excuse to “start fresh next Monday” and it just never happened.  To top it off, I got sick at the end of the month and fell short of my 100-mile goal.  I was still sick during the first week of April but feel like I made a comeback and things have finally started looking up.

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Here’s how last week went down:

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 7 mile tempo @ 8:17 AP -> 2-mile warm up, 7:54, 7:48, 7:36, 7:24, 1-mile cool down

Wednesday: 3.5 miles @ 9:02 AP

Thursday: 6.25 miles of interval training @ 8:32 AP -> 2-mile warm up, 6 x 2:00 hard (@6:49-6:59)/2:00 easy (8:57-9:14), 1-mile cool down + 3.75 miles easy @ 9:32 AP (**10 miles total**)

Friday: OFF

Saturday: 3.1 miles @ 8:51 AP + strength training + 10 minutes elliptical

Sunday: 10 miles @ 8:30 AP

Total: 33.6 miles

I’m pretty happy with how the week went and am actually really looking forward to racing this weekend.  The 10K distance really scares me for some reason.  Well, every distance scares me but the idea of going balls out for 45-ish minutes is already giving me anxiety.  I think I’m meant to be more of a slow and steady runner but I still like to challenge myself with shorter races from time to time.  If anything, it’ll give me a good idea of where I’m at right now and I can work from there to set some new goals for the rest of the year.

I’m still deciding on a fall marathon and questioning whether or not I actually want to run another one – haha!!  Committing to the training would definitely be easier because I have the summer off but I don’t know if I’m ready for those 3+ hour long runs again!!  Maybe I can recruit a marathon training buddy or join a run group of some sort to make them easier.  I’m okay doing up to about 16 miles alone but anything longer than that makes me go a little nutty and I start questioning my sanity.

Anyway, lots to think about!

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Thinking Out Loud #47

I was off from work yesterday so I intended on getting my Thinking Out Loud Thursday post up on time but for some odd reason I am more productive with the whole blogging thing on work days.  I think because I’ve got my day planned out and a schedule to follow, I’m able to manage my time a little better and use my empty slots to work on posts and respond to comments.  When I’m home I feel like I find a million and one other things to do and then by the time I get to bed it becomes another one of those “I guess TOL will go up on Friday again!” #whoops

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1.  Speaking of going to bed…I got zero sleep last night.  We had a ridiculous thunderstorm and Princeton was terrified beyond belief.  He was shaking so much that my whole bed was moving and I was so worried for him that it was hard for me to get some shut eye.  He wouldn’t even lay down.  Just literally sat up and stared at my window (even though the shutters were closed) all night.

2.  I think it’s perfectly normal to go on two runs in one day.  I don’t do this often but yesterday was an exception.  I woke up and decided to do some interval training.  I’m trying to do one tempo run and one interval workout each week.  Now that I have no need to run super long distances, I’ve got the time to focus on speed and I’m kind of loving it!  The workouts make me feel like I’m going to barf but once I’m done, I feel really accomplished.  This was run #1 yesterday:

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3.  After I ate dinner I heard something being dropped at my front door and when I went to go see what it was…..

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HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!!!!!!  How can you have new Mizunos show up and not take them for a run?!  My stomach was completely full of tortellini and it probably wasn’t the best idea to hop on the treadmill but I just ran super slow to get a feel for the Wave Riders.  An easy 3.75 miles (to make it an even 10 for the day) and I think I’m already in love with these shoes.

4.  I plan on taking them out for a longer test drive this weekend OUTSIDE because LOOK AT THAT FORECAST!!!!

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I anticipate a lot of running around the streets of downtown Toronto in SHORTS!  Maybe I’ll make up some sort of adventure along the way.  Run to different donut shops in search of the best one?  Take as many selfies with random dogs I see along the way?  Anyone have any other ideas??

5.  Does anyone else get ponytail headaches when their hair is too long?  I swear the only reason why I cut my hair is to avoid this.  Running with a super long ponytail is so painful for me and after yesterday’s morning run I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  I called my hairdresser and he was able to squeeze me in between clients…

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He chopped so much off but my hair grows so darn fast so I’m A-OK with it.  Less hair = less weight = faster run times.  Right? ;) Also – if anyone can teach me how to blow dry my hair so that I can make it look like that every day, that would be great.  I can never, EVER get it to look the same as Rafi does.

6.  His salon is right next-door to a Popeye’s and I had some Popeye’s dollars hanging out in my wallet so I got me a free Quest bar.

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It’s been a while since I had one.  I think I developed a temporary aversion to them after my post-Arizona Quest Bar binge in 2013.  Long story short, they are much cheaper in the U.S. so I bought seven boxes to bring home with me and basically ate one for breakfast, lunch and dinner almost every day.  It was a horrible, legitimate addiction to Quest Bars.  I quit cold turkey and since then, buy one once in a while when I’m on the go and need to reach for a healthy-ish option…or when I have Popeye’s dollars in my wallet.

7.  Did anyone else read this article about what The Rock eats in one day?!  The guy eats so. much. cod.  And so much food!  I know he’s a big guy but 2 cups of rice is one serving for him!!  SO crazy.

8.  Speaking of food, I’m going out to dinner tonight for my friend’s 30th birthday.  We are going to an Italian restaurant which leaves me in a bit of a predicament – PIZZA or PASTA?! #toughchoices

Have the best weekend ever!  GET OUTSIDE!

WIAW: that whole “free speed” thing

Remember when I talked about “free speed” and how it changed my outlook on eating?  Well, that went out the window over the Easter long weekend.  Anyone else plough though a Costco-sized bag of Mini Eggs?  I felt like I needed another four days off to nurse my sugar hangover.

Anyway, I’m doing my best to get back on the wagon because I have a 10K race in 11 days and I was hoping to PR.  Not sure how that’s going to pan out since I’ve been pretty lax about things since Phoenix.  I’m still going to try!!  And if eating well is going to help me get there, bring it on.

I’m participating in Jen’s WIAW this week to show you yesterday’s eats!

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Breakfast is a recycled photo from the summer because I didn’t decide to document my day until after I had finished eating.  I had the exact same thing though – oats mixed with Vega Performance protein + chia seeds + almond milk, topped with berries + banana + almond butter.

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Once I was all digested I ran my first real tempo in forever.  I wanted to be sure I could hold a few consecutive sub-8 minute miles and I did –> 2-mile warm up, 7:54, 7:48, 7:36, 7:24, 1-mile cool down.  I have to run a 7:15 average if I want to get a sub-45:00 at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K…which sounds completely crazy to me but you never know unless you try, right?!

I refuelled with some lentil loaf (from the Oh She Glows Cookbook) and roasted sweet potatoes + ketchup.  Hit. The. Spot.

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Dinner was Gwyneth Paltrow’s Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Mustard + leftover sweet potatoes from lunch.  Kara Goucher recommended the cauliflower recipe on her Instagram.  It’s from Gwyneth’s cookbook titled “It’s All Good” but I was able to find it online (several sites have it but I got it from here).  It’s really good but the next time I make it, I’d probably cut the oil in the dressing by half.  It was a little too “wet” for me!

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Non-pictured snackage: almost an entire bag of sweet potato crackers from Costco with hummus + salsa.

There you have it!  My super exciting day of eats.  I just realized I didn’t eat anything green yesterday besides the bits of parsley in that cauliflower dish.  Whoops.  I’ll try an eat a salad at some point today!!!

Have a great Wednesday!

Why I don’t blog every single day

There are people who blog every day, sometimes twice a day.  I am not one of those people.

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Here is why. (P.S. I love that emoji ^)

For starters, my days are not that interesting.  On weekdays I literally run, work, eat, take Princeton for a walk, and try to answer emails.  On weekends I run, eat, take Princeton for a walk, and try not to turn my computer on because I like taking breaks from it.  If I blogged about what I did every day, you would probably stop reading.  I am not a very exciting person and really enjoy both my evenings and weekends to relax, do some food prep, mayyyyyybe go out to dinner, and if I’m feeling REALLY crazy – I’ll go see a movie.

I’m also not the best/most talented runner so I assume that people don’t really care about the details every day – how fast I went, what I ate, how I refuelled, etc.  If I have a really great run or I feel like I learned something while running one day, I share it, but do you guys really want to know that I ran 3.1 miles three times over the long weekend?  Probably not.  I was sick, they were slow, and 2 out of 3 of the runs were on my home treadmill so I stared at a brick wall while I was running.

I’ll never have one of those journal-type blogs so that’s why I enjoy participating in linkups.  It shakes things up and I get to talk about specific things on certain days.  I used to have my own Marathon Monday posts (training updates/weekly workout recap) which will probably be coming back soon; sometimes I take part in Jen’s What I Ate Wednesday and talk about a day’s worth of eats…though I haven’t done this in a while; and I try to make the effort to join Amanda with her Thinking Out Loud Thursday posts each week because I love that it’s open to randomness and I don’t have to make any sense that day.  If I miss one of these, it’s usually because I feel like blogging about something else.  Or maybe I just didn’t have the time or motivation.  Every week is different for me!

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I never want blogging to feel like something that I’m pressured or forced to do.  There may be a an entire week that goes by where I just don’t have anything to say so instead of throwing a nonsense post together, I just wait it out until I’m inspired again.  Then there are weeks where you can’t shut me up and I blog every day.  These weeks are few and far between but when they come, I just roll with it and tell you guys everything I’m thinking.

I’m sure if blogging was my job then things would be different, but it’s not.  I don’t make anywhere near enough to be able to support myself by blogging alone so I teach most days a week and do other little fun projects when the opportunities present themselves.  For now, blogging remains my creative outlet where I can talk about my life and goals, keep track of my training and accomplishments, all while connecting with awesome people.  So far it has worked wonders.  I’ve done things I’ve never even thought of doing, met people who are now my best friends, and proved to myself that I am a lot more capable than I think.

Bloggers – what approach do you take when it comes to blogging?  Every day?  Monday/Wednesday/Friday?  Whenever you feel like it?

Non-bloggers – tell me about your weekend!  Did anyone celebrate Eater or Passover?

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I know it’s technically not Thursday but I still like to participate in Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud posts and right now it seems as though Monday, Wednesday and Friday are when I get my blog posts up.  So you’ll get them a day late…unless I’m having one of those weeks where I blog every day (which is rare, but does happen sometimes!).

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1.  Remember back in February when I was so excited about my new Jawbone and tracking my steps and sleep?  Well what I didn’t tell you is that I lost my charger in the second week of February and failed majorly at my #GetOutAndGo goals.  I contacted my local Staples store and they told me they didn’t sell these particular chargers…so I went on to contact Jawbone via there website and it seems as though you can purchase spare chargers if you live in the U.S. but not Canada.  Awesome, right?!  I never lose anything so I felt like a big idiot and an even bigger idiot when I opened one of my dresser drawers last night and it was staring me in the face.

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We are back in action.

2.  I no longer hate lotteries as much as I used to (I blame the NYC marathon) because I got an email this morning confirming my acceptance into the Nike 15K here in Toronto this June!  I have a funny feeling everyone who applied got in buttttt whatever.  It’s still super exciting and I cannot wait to run it!  It will be taking place on the island and should be a HUGE party.

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3.  To celebrate, I went out for a run even though I still feel like absolute death.  It was 14*C when I left the house and I could not pass up the opportunity to go for an easy jaunt in the beautiful sunshine.

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Everyone around here is prepping their Good Friday meals – I could smell food as I ran by some houses!  Made me hungry!

4.  My pre-run fuel of choice:

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Custom M&Ms!  I won two glass containers of these at my friend’s baby shower on Sunday because I was the closest at guessing how many there were.

5.  Princeton got a long walk in today too :)

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6.  New Pro Compression socks of the month are out…40% off with code “BOLD”.  I bought myself the Boston ones so that I can bust my @$$ to get there…and actually wear them…in Boston!

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7.  I saw this on Lori Laughlin’s Instagram and just about died.  SO CUTE.  Wonder if they make my size?!

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8.  If you celebrate Easter of if you love pancakes and bunnies, I came across these two really cute creations:

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The one on the left is from Taste of Home and the one on the right is from Fork and Beans.  If you have kids, I’m sure these will be a hit!  Or you can just make them for yourself.  That’s probably what I’m going to do.

I’m off to get ready for some family time!  I hope you have a wonderful day!  Happy Easter, Passover, and weekend!