Tag Archives: Events

26 — The (Birth)Day

Since my birthday was on Sunday, Mark decided to give me something really nice for my birthday — a beautiful Sunday brunch at a restaurant called Castaway, which I’ve actually written about before.

We had so much fun, ate so much food, and drank SO much champagne. Well, I did. I put the “endless” in “endless” mimosas.

Anyway, Mark and I were sure to take a picture with their pretty Christmas tree before I got silly brunch.

We’re cute.

Soon enough, however, we were seated.

We got started right away with the mimosas (I wasn’t messing around).

And then, it was time to eat!

There were SO many options from which to choose. There was a breakfast bar, a homemade omelet station, an oatmeal bar, a Meditteranean bar, a Mexican bar, a seafood bar, a make-your-own pasta station, and a huge dessert area. I might even be missing a few things.

My first plate:

That’s a cheese blintz, scrambled eggs, potatoes with peppers and onions, and a tiny almond croissant. I had only a bite or two of everything, though I did mostly finish the potatoes and eggs.

There was also a cappuccino station, which was awesome.

Mark tried to put whipped cream in mine. It didn’t work out so well.

It’s okay, though. I went back for another.

Much more manageable. 🙂 Especially since the other one looked like this after a while.

Embarrassing.

Anyway, we digested for a bit and then went back for more. This is mac n cheese, beans & rice, cheesy broccoli, a stuffed grape leaf, and orzo salad. My eyes were a lot bigger than my stomach. I could barely make dents in most of this, though I did love and nearly finish both the mac n cheese and orzo salad.

It was a carb fest.

And don’t forget, I was still drinking.

At this point, I couldn’t really bear to eat anymore, but Mark (who had been to this brunch before) told me dessert was the best part. So, I went and got samples of all of the things I thought looked good.

That being said, this is all I ate of that plate:

What a waste. 😦

I was also surprised with a piece of tiramisu with a candle in it!

This wasn’t so much “eaten” as it was “posed with.”

Being full stopped me from eating the cake, but did not stop me from downing my mimosa(s).

Happy birthday to meeeee!

Poor Mark.

After we finished eating, we went outside for the lovely view.

And, since we clearly hadn’t taken enough pictures, took some more.

As my sister said on the phone when she talked to me twenty minutes later, “Hey, Drunkie.”

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent shopping at the Americana in Glendale (I got myself some birthday presents in the form of some fun shirts at Forever 21!) opening presents from other people, taking more pictures with each other, and finally, eating the tiny amount of Chinese takeout that I could stomach while watching Happy Endings.

Some presents highlights include…

A homemade ornament from Mark, which is supposed to be us dancing but kiiiind of looks like we’re making out.

What a creeper.

A really cute shirt from my friend Jacky…

An incredibly thoughtful, healthy, low-sugar focused gift from my fiend Claire, who reads KWH (hi, Claire!):

Those are coconut crystals, agave, and dairy-free chocolate chips.

Isn’t that the sweetest, most KWH-friendly gift, ever?

I was also graced with many a card, an un-pictured gift card from my lovely friend Amy, and many, many a bottle of wine.

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I guess people think I like wine?

Thank you so much to everyone for making my birthday special, but thank you especially to this guy, who made it perfect.

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I am a very, very lucky girl.

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26 — The Party

Hi, friends!

So, I turned 26 on Sunday. Yes, twenty-six. TWENTY. SIX.

When did I get so old?!?!

Whatever. I’m not thinking about it. Instead, I’m basking in the glorious pictures that resulted from my party on Saturday night. Wanna see? Good. Because that’s the post I have for you today. A picture post! Hooray!

And of a cocktail party, no less. Everyone had to look pretty — and they did.

(Don’t worry, I’ll be back with recipes soon enough).

Those are my lovely friends Amy and Claire. You’ve seen then both before.

Below, we have take number one…

… and take number two with my friends Caitlin (great name, right?) and a different Amy.

Lauren, who has been on the blog a thousand times…

Isn’t she gorg? And BTW, that hot dress I’m wearing? It’s hers. I love that girl.

That’s Spencer. Isn’t he a cutie? Don’t worry, you’ll see him again .

Hey! You know her! Hi, Katherine! How HOT is she?!

Two of my favorite ladies:

Combo friends pic:

Plus another Claire. Don’t you love her bow?

And Mark! Want some boy eye candy? Check it!

You’re welcome.

Spencer even “ruined” (okay, improved) a picture Claire and I tried to take together.

It’s okay, we still got one in.

<3.

P.S. — You’ll see the AWESOME gift she gave me tomorrow. 🙂

All co-workers! Catherine, Kaitlyn (another great name), and Jacky. Pretty girls!

Two of my favorite boys:

That’s Ben and Cliff. Ben’s single, ladies. Cliff isn’t (sorry).

I love that picture.

Didn’t everyone look beautiful? I’m so glad I had a cocktail party.

Oh, and there was cake!!!

My friend Laura made these delicious cupcakes.

And, in one of the absolute best surprises of my whole birthday, MARK GOT MY FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKE RECIPE FROM MY MOM!!!

Words cannot express how happy this made me. (That’s why I needed the caps, bold and italic.) I wish I had my reaction on camera when I found that out.

Mark executed it perfectly.

P.E.R.F.E.C.T.L.Y.

I know for sure because I had a little piece last, too, and it was just as good as I remembered. Love you, Mark. And I love you, Mom! Thanks for coordinating that!

Thank you to everyone who came to my party!

Back tomorrow with a recap of the actual birthday. 🙂

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Early Friendsgiving

I have somany recipes coming at you in the next few days, but I first want to share that I’ve already had a Friendsgiving! That’s a Thanksgiving with friends, just in case that was in any way not clear.

This was a potluck, meaning that everyone brought something. I brought Maple Acorn Squash — AKA the recipe you get to look forward to tomorrow — and Praline Spice Cookies — AKA the recipe you get to look forward to on Wednesday. 🙂

Anyway, Friendsgiving. I’ll break it down for you.

The Guests

(That’s me with Laura, one of the lovely hosts!)

(The girl with the awesome turkey hat is Amy, the other lovely host!)

Oh and my favorite guest (sorry, friends), Andy!:

You’ll see many of those faces repeated at the Thanksgiving Mark and I are hosting on Thursday!

The Food

Homemade Pumpkin Hummus with carrots:

 

Pumpkin bread with homemade butter (OMG good), cheese & crackers:

Yummy pastry puffs (one of these became my main dish):

Bacon Corn Muffins (I couldn’t have these):

Maple Acorn Squash:

(That’s mine! I swear it looked nicer than in that light.)

Turkey, of course (which I also, obviously, couldn’t have):

Cauliflower Gratin (soooo good):

Sweet Potato Casserole:

Sourdough & Wild Rice Stuffing and Spicy Mac & Cheese:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Garlic Button Mushrooms (one of the top two dishes of the night, to me — I cannot WAIT to recreate these!):

Harvest Rice (which I somehow missed!):

Balsamic Glazed Onions (the other highlight of the night — again, I cannot wait to recreate this dish!):

Those were so good that I couldn’t not post the picture, even thought it (the picture, not the dish!) was so terrible.

Pumpkin Biscuits with Cinnamon-Honey Butter (AKA crack butter!):

Beer Apple Pie:

Bourbon Cheesecake (SO GOOD!):

Pecan Pie & Ice Cream (both Pumpkin & Vanilla):

And Praline Spice Cookies (my other contribution):

There was so much food that I only took a little taste of (nearly) everything. My dinner plate:

And I somehow lost the picture of my dessert plate, but I only (barely) had room in my stomach for a tiny sliver of cheesecake and a tiny scoop of pumpkin ice cream.

I’m still full.

Anyone else already have an early Thanksgiving dinner this year?

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HalloWeekend

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I had a crazy weekend of celebrating Halloween. Much crazier than it should have been while I was still recovering. Not all good crazy, either. But a lot of it was good!

I started my Friday night at Halloween party #1 of the weekend. This party was thrown by Mark’s friends Marcy and Emma, whom I met that night.

Here are a couple of adorable/ scandalous pictures of Mark with his friends:

The party was lots of fun — complete with a chalkboard paint-covered coffee table.

I loved that.

I also loved Mark’s costume. He was “World Peas.”

He is so clever. He made that costume himself!

I had to leave that party early because I had another party to get to, right down the street. Little did I know just how far away I was.

Why? Oh, because my car battery had died. No big deal.

Mark jump-started it for me while I sat helplessly in my car because hobbling on crutches didn’t go well with jump-starting it myself (not to mention that I had no idea what to do). I then had to drive my car around for over an hour while, admittedly, I kind of bawled my eyes out.

It wasn’t my finest moment.

Anyway, be proud of me. I dried my eyes and still managed to make an appearance at the second party.

Ignore the fact that the makeup had sort of smeared by then.

I made it to this party partially because I wanted to see a bunch of my friends in their Flintstones costumes.

Totally cute!

I didn’t last long at that party, but that’s mostly because it had already been so, so late by the time I’d gotten there. I didn’t get home until 2:00AM, which is pretty late for this old-lady-on-the-inside.

I got in my car on Saturday afternoon to bring it to the mechanic so I could get my battery tested, only to find that my car had died AGAIN. No, I’m not kidding. By some ridiculous stroke of luck, though, it actually turned on on my sixth try and I brought it straight to the mechanic.

So, you know, that’s how my Saturday afternoon went.

Happily, I pepped up enough to go out on Saturday night. Mark and I had had big plans to hit all three of the parties to which we had been invited that night, but when reality set in, we realized that my knee could not handle parking and walking to three different parties.

So, we just chose the one where we knew the most people.

But first, we had to get ready. My costume on this night was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. I went as Katniss from (duh) the Hunger Games.

I didn’t purposefully make that “I think I’m a model” face, FYI. I actually didn’t know Mark was taking it yet and was waiting for him to tell me he was about to. And then this ended up being the only non-blurry one. I felt the need to tell you this for the purpose of saving my dignity.

Anyway.

Mark made everything! He made my bow, arrows, the case for the arrows…

… and even my very own Mockingjay pin:

Is he freaking amazing, or what?

Here we are together that night:

He repeated his costume because it was too damn good not to.

Here are a few of our other friends in costume:

My bow and arrows were very popular that night.

And I was good! I stayed seated for a lot of the night.

It’s super awkward to be seated while everyone else is standing at a party, but it was worth it to save me from unnecessary pain.

On Sunday, Mark and I went to a pumpkin patch, for which Mark had purchased LivingSocial deals for both of us.

It was… well, it was a dump. See for yourself:

Not quite the way it was advertised.

Not to mention the fact that the deals Mark got were for “admission” to the pumpkin patch, when there was no actual charge to get in. Needless to say, Mark called and let LivingSocial know what was up. Fortunately, they have pretty good customer service and gave Mark his money back to spend on other LivingSocial deals.

Other that that, too, Mark and I were still able to make the most out of the experience by taking silly pictures.

It was nice to spend the weekend with Mark, who managed to make it a lot of fun despite how badly it could have gone (with my car, etc.). How many times can I thank my lucky stars for him?

What was/ is your Halloween costume? How did you celebrate this weekend/ how are you celebrating tonight?

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Day 4: Does Wine Count As Alcohol?

So, I’m not going to lie to you. In no way, shape or form did yesterday fall underneath my self-appointed rules. I won’t even try to pretend.

It’s all Fresh & Easy’s fault, really. I mean, they sent me three bottles of wine and asked me to try them all in one night. What’s a girl to do?!

In truth, though, I had somewhat failed the day before I even got there. Not terribly — in fact, even with the wine, I think I did alright — but, you know, accountability and all.

At least I started out with a workout: 35 minutes on the elliptical (at 5:30 in the morning, no less!) and 45 minutes of a strength training class (super heavy on the arms and I can feeeeel it today!).

And I was on point with breakfast, at least.

I had a cottage cheese bowl. It’s high-concept, watch out — it’s a yogurt bowl, but with cottage cheese instead of yogurt.

I know. I just blew your mind.

 

Into the mix went:

  • 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • 1/4 banana
  • ground blueberry flaxseeds
  • cinnamon

This combo is really working for me lately. It keeps me full, it has lots of protein, and it has such a variety of flavors and textures that it keeps my tongue interested (TWSS). Oh, and — SPOILER ALERT! — it’s been working so well for me that I actually had it for breakfast this morning, too.

Sheesh. You might as well not even come back for tomorrow’s post.

Annnnnyway. I was on point at lunch, too.

I had the… exact same salad that I had for Monday’s lunch. What can I say? I like to repeat good meals and I like to use the ingredients I actually have in my fridge.

Into the mix went:

  • romaine
  • lentils
  • baby bell peppers
  • yellow grape tomatoes
  • feta
  • cucumber
  • three cheese balsamic vinaigrette

Yum!

It was after lunch that I started to get into trouble. See, I totally forgot to bring an afternoon snack yesterday and I had to scavenge in the unfamiliar-to-me office kitchen when I got hungry. I ended up finding some Kashi bars, which might not be on my plan, but were definitely the healthiest option available.

That was Dark Mocha Almond, or something like that. It was alright, but nothing to write home about. I’ve definitely had better Kashi bars.

Then, when I got home, I got the party staaaarted!

Actually, that’s sort of a lie. By “getting the party started,” what I mean is that Lauren was held up at work and was late, I tried (unsuccessfully) to tide myself over with a low-fat cheese stick, and then eventually realized that I had a responsibility to Fresh & Easy, who had sent me the wines, and needed to start drinking them on my own so I could participate in the tweet-up.

To explain, Fresh & Easy sent us the wines and had us all do a live twitter tasting together. It was a cute and unique concept and I thought it went pretty well. But, obviously, it wasn’t going to work unless the people to whom Fresh & Easy had sent the wine participated, so I took one for the team and broke open the white by myself.

One is the loneliest number…

What’s that they say about drinking by yourself?

I was really pleasantly surprised by this wine. I actually loved it. I’m not a Chardonnay fan and thus expected not to be a fan, since Chardonnay was the first wine listed in this blend. In fact, I opened this wine first because I like to save the best for last and I figured I’d get the one I just knew I’d like the least out of the way. But I was wrong! This wine, called Ma Cherie, was a mix of three whites — Chardonnay, Voignier, and Grenache. I’d never heard of Voignier or Grenache before but after last night’s tasting of this blend, I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m a fan of both — especially because they masked the taste of Chardonnay!

Fortunately, I only got through that one small glass before Lauren joined the party and worked on catching up.

It was a this point that I opened the red (a blend called Doon Buggy) to let it aerate a bit, as suggested by Amanda and Andy in the tweet-up.

It was also at this point that I quickly assembled our easy (and coincidentally entirely Fresh & Easy) dinner.

We split this turkey chili (which has incredible nutritional stats, by the way — this container has 2.5 servings of 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 12 grams of protein each — ridiculously good!).

I also sliced up two whole wheat tortillas to make homemade tortilla chips!

This seriously could not have been easier. I set the oven to 400 degrees and cut the two tortillas into little triangles. I then laid them all out individually on a pan, sprayed them with canola oil, and sprinkled them with sea salt. I set them in the oven looking like this:

… and took them out five minutes later, looking like this:

 

Easy as pie. Wait, no! Way easier. And soooo yummy.

I served them alongside the chili (which was microwaving while I baked the tortilla chips).

In case you couldn’t deduce this yourself from the picture above, I topped the chili with dollops of nonfat greek yogurt and sprinkles of shredded cheese.

This dinner could not have been easier or more convenient. It literally took five minutes to assemble from start to finish, it was pretty darn healthy, and it was inexpensive, to boot! Win.

Meanwhile, during those five minutes, Lauren entertained herself by taking pictures of herself with the wine. She’s like a blogger in training, or something.

After we finished dinner, I rinsed out our glasses so we could move onto the Doon Buggy.

I then tried really hard to get good “pouring pictures” while I was doing the pouring myself…

…which really just did not go very well.

Oops.

Anyway, speaking of failed attempts, Lauren and I then tried to take a picture of ourselves with the wine. We took about ten. Here’s a sampling.

Man.  Maybe we should stop drinking so much wine.

Speaking of the wine…

It was lovely. And it actually grew on me as I drank more of it. It was a rich wine, with a lot of body to it. It felt soft, somehow. I wouldn’t suggest mixing it with the acidic, citrusy white in the same night like we did, but — separately, I thought the Doon Buggy was a very nice wine that would go smoothly with a solid meal.

At some point during this bottle, Mark came home and joined the party, too!

We actually managed to finish the Doon Buggy between the three of us, as well as half of the Ma Cherie. At this point, however, we were wined-out. We never made it to the third wine. We may be lushes… but we’ve got to stop somewhere.

Don’t you worry. That third bottle will be making an appearance on KWH sometime soon.

Oh, and even though wine surely should have counted as dessert, I also decided to have one of my pieces of Ghiradelli Intense Dark 72% chocolate.

Sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Anyway, like I said, yesterday clearly wasn’t on the plan. However, I think I did alright, considering how badly it could have gone. I also know that this week will have two nights of drinking. Last night, obviously, was one, and the other one will be tonight because I’m going to a party with drinking games and I know I won’t be able to help myself (I love me some flip cup). But — all in moderation, right?

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Cheese & Chocolate Night

As a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I’m pretty lucky. I get sent samples of some really cool things sometimes. Most recently, one of these cool things was a $25 American Express gift card to participate in the Sargento Taste Test.  Another was a box of samples from Ghiradelli Intense Dark Chocolate.

The offer from Sargento was meant for an educational cheese tasting experience, in which we were to compare Sargento natural cheese to any processed cheese. We also were given enough money to also buy cheese pairings of our choice.

Along with the Sargento cheese you see above, I bought:

Processed Mild Cheddar, Swiss, Colby Jack and Pepper Jack…

Woven Wheat Crackers, Butter Crackers and dried apricots…

A Mixed Red and a Merlot…

And a baguette, which Mark modeled beautifully.

Adorable.

Our friends Ryan and Chris were able to join us for the cheese tasting experience.

Sargento guided us through this experience.

1. Look at the cheeses. Natural cheeses, like cheddar, come in many different colors, but in general an understated and non-glossy appearance. Processed cheeses, however, have a luster or shine to them, even after their plastic is removed.”

2. Touch the cheese and feel its texture. Bend the cheeses. Natural cheese texture can vary by cheese variety, but will normally break in an authentic fashion when you do this. Processed cheese is characterized by a smooth, rubbery and artificially pliable texture, and often can bend and fold without breaking… It can sometimes even feel ‘mushy.'”

3. Smell the cheeses like you’d smell a glass of wine. Natural cheeses’ aroma will vary by cheese type, and the range of smells span adjectives like earthy, nutty, and fruity. Processed cheese is usually lacking in a strong aroma, but can have cooked milk notes due to its heating process.”

4. Taste the cheese. Natural cheeses have an incredible array of flavors — from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp. The dominant characteristic in processed cheese is often described as salty. Take note of the characteristics of the cheese, the intensity of the flavor, the saltiness, sharpness or fruitiness of the cheese.”

The way we used the Sargento cheese, specifically, was to create our “main course,” if you will. I think I’ll call them… pizza dippers.

We used the bread and the shredded cheese…

… along with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Basically, we sliced the baguette, then toasted those slices for about 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then we took the toasted slices out, drizzled them with olive oil and topped them with salt, pepper and cheese, and then put them back in the oven for a few more minutes (until the cheese was melted).

Once they were out of the oven, we dipped them in warm roasted garlic & sweet basil tomato sauce.

It was very popular. We finished the entire baguette between the four of us!

Once we finished that baguette, the dessert portion of the evening came about.

It was Ghiradelli Intense Dark Chocolate time!

You might not be able to tell in the picture, but… Mark and I had already made a serious dent in the Sea Salt Soiree bar before the party.

Oops.

We tried the (rest of the) Sea Salt Soiree, 72% Cacao Twilight Delight, and the 86% Midnight Reverie.

Each of them was delicious. but I’m particularly fond of the Sea Salt Soiree. I love sweet and salty!

This was a perfect end to the evening!

“Ghiradelli Intense Dark chocolates deliver luxuriously deep and velvety chocolate in a variety of cacao percentages… and sophisticated flavors… This line of 100% all natural chocolates delivers unrivaled chocolate intensity in a delicately thin chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt slowly in your mouth.”

I actually think these rich bars offer the perfect dessert. I could absolutely be satisfied with just one square.

Pretty nice night, right? I had so much fun and loved the guidelines given by each brand!

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Best Day EVER!

So, I don’t know if you could tell from the subject of this post, but, um… Saturday was the BEST DAY EVER!

Why, you ask?

Well, on Saturday, I not only went to Disneyland for free, but I also saw my favorite band, Hanson.

Best day ever right?

You see, it all started with this guy.

This may sound lame, but, ever since high school, I’ve gotten very used to going to Hanson concerts by myself. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have a best friend, Molly, who also loved the band. But since then, I’ve had more trouble. See, a lot of people have this stupid misconception about Hanson and I have had a hard time convincing friends to spend money to come to concerts with me. And, well, I’d rather see my favorite band perform alone than not at all.

Anyway, happily, that has all changed now! A new friend of mine, Amy, also loves Hanson but hasn’t seen them in years. And as it turns out, she had another friend, Jodi (an even newer friend of mine now!) who also loves Hanson.

You may remember Amy from that Disneyland post a while ago. She just so happens to be that same friend who is a Disney employee. And this concert just so happened to be at Disneyland. Seriously, the stars aligned for this day.

So, yesterday afternoon, we did Disneyland. 🙂

So ticket number two came in to play for the day!

This was the first instance of ridiculous savings for the day. Since all three of us got in for free, we saved $315 dollars right there ($105 per ticket).

We went to California Adventure first.

But before we did anything else, we needed to get some lunch. We were also starving. So, we went to the Brea Bakery, where I got chicken and apple salad in a bread bowl. It was more bread than salad, but… whatever. It was delish.

That was instance number two of saving money — $6 there, so that’s now $321.

After we ate our weight in bread, it was time for rides!

We did Midway Mania (love!)…

Tower of Terror…

And the new Little Mermaid ride. Fun!

We then headed over to Disneyland…

… where we were greeted with a parade!

I love it when parades are thrown in my honor!

That’s what was happening, right? 😉

At Disneyland, we hit the three mountains: Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain — which Jodi had never been on before! We took a picture while in line for that one to commemorate the occasion.

I also took a picture of two of my favorite characters, ever.

Hooray!

Soon, it was time to head to dinner because, um, we had a concert to get to!

We decided not to bother with waiting on line for the concert and to instead linger over dinner and drinks. Our feet needed a break.

We were also all craving burgers. So, naturally, we hit ESPNZone.

…Where, no joke, they have TVs over each bathroom stall.

And yes, I did take a picture from the toilet. I’m classy like that.

Dinner was amazing and I cannot believe how much I consumed. I got a Pomegranate Margarita to start…

Yumsauce.

And then I devoured my cheeseburger and fries.

I’m not kidding. Check it.

What up.

Seriously, you work up an appetite standing in line for hours and walking everywhere!

Oh, and that was instance number three of saving money — $7 at dinner, bringing us to a total of $328.  We also saved four more dollars when Jodi bought some candy, so we saved $332 total — awesome, right?

Then, finally, it was time to see Hanson at the House of Blues!

WOOHOO!

First, we saw Meiko as the opening act.

She was good and I liked her music a lot, but… I think she’s better for a background CD on a long car ride than as an opening act.

We then waited almost an hour in the way too hot club until Hanson came on. We distracted ourselves by taking sweaty pictures.

Sexy.

And then… HANSON!

God, I love them.

Seriously — BEST DAY EVER!

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