Tag Archives: beer

When in Philadelphia…eat all of the vegan food

Greetings, folks! We returned yesterday from our eastern seaboard adventure. We decided to keep our summer vacation cheap and simple by visiting friends in Philadelphia. Driving the 13 hours and sleeping on our friends’ trundle bed proved to be the most fiscally efficient way to get out of town for a few days, and it made for quite the vegan adventure. Can I just say that I loved Pennsylvania way more than I anticipated? Largely this is due to the complete lack of research I did (I am a control freak and I plan our vacation itineraries to a T–but since we were visiting friends, I relinquished my inner control freak and got to do this crazy thing called “going with the flow”). The small amount of research I did do before we embarked on our journey was to scout out some restaurants along the way where we could pick up some filling vegan fare. Man oh man, did I luck out.

I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do on vacation, but what I lack in pictures I will try to make up for in vivid descriptions of the sumptuous fare I indulged in. Let’s start from the beginning: I packed a lot of vegan snacks for the road. Bananas, clementines, pumpkin clusters, cashews, and clif bars, oh my! Unfortunately that was where the healthy eating began and ended. I indulged in so much fatty delicious food that I fear it will take me a month to burn off all those excess calories. Point in case, I nearly croaked during my treadmill run today after my week of splurging.

Cleveland

Drew Carey would have you believe that Cleveland rocks, and while I can’t say definitively that it doesn’t, it was definitely the low point of our trip. We arrived in Cleveland at about 11:30 pm eastern time. We intended on waking up around 7 so we could make it to Cleveland Heights to grab breakfast at one of the few restaurants in the area that offers vegan breakfast substitutions, Tommy’s, but 7 turned into 8 and we didn’t hit the road til 9. By the time our not-so-trusty GPS navigated us to Cleveland Heights, it was already 9:30, and we didn’t exactly have time to linger over breakfast. We wanted to check out the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but breakfast took longer than we’d anticipated so we didn’t get to spend near enough time in the museum. I’d go back just to do the museum again, but there didn’t seem to be much else in town to warrant a second trip.

Tofu scramble with fruit and dry wheat toast at Tommy’s

The tofu scramble was okay but the broccoli was a little on the (monstrously) large side. It was a good, hearty breakfast before the second leg of our journey, though.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entrance. I don’t know what the plaque below the guitar said, but the building is sort of reminiscent of the Louvre, no?

The line for tickets was crazy long and we sped through the museum like it was our job. We picked up some collectibles on our way out (a shot glass for him, a pint glass for me) and were back on the road by noon.

Philadelphia

I expected Philly to be dingy and gross, thanks to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In fact, it wasn’t (at least, Center City wasn’t). The best part is how vegan-friendly this city is. Even the most carnivorous of restaurants has at least one vegan option, for the most part. I’m always surprised by that as I hail from a very un-vegan friendly suburb of Chicago. We arrived around 6:30 pm and immediately set out to one of our friends’ favorite restaurants, Wrap Shack. I ordered the vegan volcano on a spinach wrap (not pictured, due to my excitement and ravishing hunger) and DAMN was it delicious. Black bean hummus is apparently a thing, and a delicious thing at that. We shared a pitcher of Yuengling, which might not be a vegan beer, but I’m less anal about that. We needed a drink and we wanted to have an authentic ole time in Pennsylvania.

We wound up at several bars that night and drank all of the beer in sight. Center City at night on a Saturday is just lovely and we had a blast.

We ended up at a bar called BAR (insert hipster joke about how it’s so cool that you’ve probably never heard of it) where “pickleback” shots are the specialty. I was too chicken to try one but it’s just a shot of whiskey chased by a shot of pickle juice. Our more courageous friends tried it and said it was delicious.

Sunday was my birthday and we spent it at a Phillies game, followed by a trip to a few bars and brew pubs. Monday, both of our friends were working so we spent the hot-as-balls day in Old City checking out all the historical sights, including the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin’s grave. But first! We went to Green Eggs Cafe, where I had the most delicious tofu scramble to date (not pictured) which was served with rosemary potatoes. I would go back to Philadelphia just for those potatoes. No joke.

We made a pitstop at an all-vegan pizzeria after touring Old City, which was kind of sketchy but hit the spot.

Daiya and seitan pepperoni pizza

Before leaving Tuesday morning, we stopped at Greens Eggs Cafe again and I had some delicious vegan french toast that rivals that of Herbivore in San Francisco.

This came with non-dairy whipped cream and strawberry deliciousness. (This one isn’t served with rosemary potatoes, so we shared an order, obviously.)

Gettysburg and Pittsburgh

We decided to stay in Pittsburgh on the way back to attend a Pirates vs. Cubs game. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but my boyfriend’s life goal is to tour every ball park in America. Every city we go to, we either attend a game or a ballpark tour if the team is traveling. We had great seats in left field, three rows up, and a home run was caught four people down in our row. So, I was even on TV! How’s that for exciting?

Before Pittsburgh, we stopped in Gettysburg for about an hour and toured the battlefield. It was interesting and I’m glad we made it there.

We didn’t have time for vegan food pit stops in Pittsburgh, aside from some game time food…

Don’t let the name fool you: these are just fries seasoned with Old Bay. We first discovered Old Bay seasoned food in Philly and apparently, it travels as far west as Pittsburgh. They serve the fries with a cheesey sauce that I obviously didn’t eat. I think I need to buy some Old Bay!

While we didn’t have a proper meal, we did hang out at a couple of bars after the game. Penn Pilsner is pretty delicious, I found out, and Iron City isn’t so much. As we were driving back to our hotel, we somehow ended up at a casino (my first time) and apparently, I’m pretty good at Roulette. We each decided to play with just $20 and we won $30. I said I’d never go to a casino but somehow, after a few drinks, I was convinced. When in Rome…

And that was that. Sweet home Chicago was ours for the taking again at around 4 pm yesterday, and I went back to work today. So much good food, so much great beer, and so much fun with friends. We can’t wait to travel again. It was a whirlwind!

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there’s a place up ahead and i’m going…

There’s a time and a place for CCR, and that time and place is the classic, all-American roadtrip!

We’re taking our third trip of the year and things didn’t pan out quite as they were supposed to. Flight prices rose and unforeseen bills popped up (like the $600 I had to spend to fix the A/C in my car). So, instead of flying to Philly to visit our friends, we’re driving!

Some cringe at the idea of driving for 13 hours, but I say bring it on! We drove the same distance last year around this time–to Denver–and it was the time of our lives. My boyfriend has never been much of a fan of the classic roadtrip, and unfortunately my vision for us (singing along to CCR) is never fully realized, and is instead replaced by reality (me humming CCR quietly to myself as he snores in the passenger seat), but that’s okay! The thing I love about a good roadtrip is a) I haven’t seen much of the middle states, and a roadtrip is a great time to pay those states a visit, and b) I kind of love anything I get to build a soundtrack for. I’m a HUGE music nerd and I get super stoked about making the roadtrip playlist.

As a vegan, the stress of traveling tends to develop a new dimension. Some cities are more veg-friendly (San Francisco, Denver…), but then we find ourselves hanging out at halfway points (Cleveland) and finding a suitable vegan eatery is a tad more challenging. Or, there’s always that pesky little problem of being outnumbered once we get to Philly (three omnivores to one vegan) so at least a few days of my trip will be spent foraging, and probably eating my fair share of clif bars. (…And french fries. and beer.)

We’re running short on time, as we’re leaving straight from work on Friday so we can make it to Cleveland Friday night as a stopping point. Clearly, as the resident music nerd, a trip from the midwest to the eastern seaboard wouldn’t have been complete without paying the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a visit. From there on Saturday, we’ll drive straight to Philly and spend two days there. Monday, as both of our friends are working, we have the day to ourselves, where we’ll be eating at a vegan pizzeria that I’ve already scouted out. Tuesday morning, we take off for Pittsburgh (possibly taking a detour to Gettysburg, because why not?). We’ll be spending a short while in Pittsburgh so we can catch a Pirates vs Cubs game and eat some more yummy vegan fare. Wednesday morning, we’ll take off for the last leg of our trip so we can be back at work on Thursday. It’s a whirlwind!

I’ve never been further northeast than Columbus, OH, so if you’ve been to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Philly, I’d love to hear about your favorite vegan restaurants. Pittsburgh and Philly don’t seem to be too difficult–it’s Cleveland I’m worried about!

I hope to return next week with photos and stories of my travels. My birthday is this Sunday and drinking good beer with good friends in a new city isn’t too shabby of a way to celebrate.

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run, sweat, drink beer

I’m down 17 pounds. I’ve finally (FINALLY!) run 3.1 miles straight through without a walking break in sight. I’ve been sweating my ass off both in the gym and in my car, whose lousy A/C decided to crap out during the biggest heat wave of…ever, as far as I’m concerned. And now I have two glorious days off (the weekend before the weekend!) and I’m going to drink some beer and get all self-congratulatory about meeting my short-term goals while still trying to keep myself in check so as not to deter myself from continuing on to the next leg of this journey: the long-term goals.

Happy Fourth!

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don’t cry for me, oniontina

I am taking a short break from cooking and cleaning for my little gathering tonight to report that onions made me cry not once but twice today. I mean tears pouring from my eyes. I’ve gotten a little misty-eyed chopping onions before but NOTHING like today. It was pure misery.

Onions are sadistic little bitches.

The official spread for tonight includes…

  • Fresh salsa
  • Quinoa black bean dip
  • Tortilla chips and pretzels
  • Buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch
  • Four small flatbread pizzas (one vegan for me, one vegetarian for my friend, and two sausage for the boys)
  • Vegan rocky road cookies (this time featuring macademia nuts!)
  • Hummus and veggie tray (provided by my wonderful friends)
  • Lots and lots of beer

It’s definitely way more food than four need, but we’re feasting if not for just the enjoyment of it! I don’t get to see these friends often as they live quite a hike away, so why not?

I hope to post some pictures of the deliciousness tomorrow. I’ve been nomming on the cookies all day, I have to admit. I made them really small so I almost don’t feel guilty for already eating 3.

The funniest thing I heard yesterday came from my coworker, whom I told I was hosting a small gathering. “Well what are you going to do? Play games, watch movies? You just don’t strike me as much of a drinker at all.” Ha! Bottoms up!

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pasta, pasta, pasta!

I’ve been eating a ridiculous amount of pasta the past two days. Carbo overload! Yesterday’s chickpea piccata turned into today’s lunch, and then I borrowed ANOTHER recipe from Turning Veganese–vegan alfredo! So yummy and satisfying. And super bizarre that the protein content of the recipe all resided in the sauce. I’m still getting used to these vegan oddities.

Super delicious and I’ll be eating another heaping serving for lunch tomorrow. It’s a good thing I’m still keeping up with my workout routine or else I’d have to feel really guilty about all the pasta I’ve been consuming!

I also rewarded myself when I got home from my workout with a beer (yikes, that’s a bad habit). I need to start looking up calories BEFORE finishing the beer because man oh man, my beer was 200 cals! At least I only had one. And at least the UFO Hefeweizen I consumed was vegan (I think), which I was unsure of since I couldn’t locate it on Barnivore. I went straight to the source and visited the Harpoon website, which had this to say:

3. Is Harpoon beer suitable for vegans and vegetarians?

Yes, the only animal products used in beer production is isinglass (which is a dried swim bladder of a tropical fish from the Sea of China) or gelatin. These products are used typically in the production of ‘cask’ ales, the unfiltered ones served through a beer engine at bars that cater to beer connoisseurs. They’re very, very rarely used otherwise, although some brewers will use them to prepare a particularly hazy beer for filtration. At Harpoon, we never use either for our regularly produced beers.

So I don’t know… the beer WAS unfiltered, and they’re saying they don’t use isinglass/gelatin, but I suppose this statement could be open to interpretation. And, shucks, my favorite beers are the unfiltered ones. I don’t like the sound of this. 😦

I have a little bit of silken tofu left over from the sauce I made, and since I’ve never used the stuff before tonight, I’m saving it so I can experiment with smoothies this weekend! I already made my smoothie for tomorrow’s breakfast (I make my smoothie when I get home, freeze until I go to bed, then stick in the fridge and it’s the perfect temperature and consistency when I drink it at 6:30 am!) but I’ll see what I can whip up on Saturday morning in the smoothie department. I’m warming to the magic bullet, especially after the success of the alfredo sauce this evening. I’ve found that the kale in my smoothie combination blends really well if I give it time, but I’ve been adding blueberries the past two days and the blueberry skins never really blend. Ah well. It’s just fiber. 🙂

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let it snow.

Well, the Chicagoland area is getting pummeled by some delayed snowfall and it has made for an interesting 24 hours.

I didn’t have time to write yesterday and I broke some of my rules (namely, the not-drinking-on-weekdays rule) but I decided yesterday’s incident could easily be considered an extenuating circumstance. On my way to work, I got a flat tire (on the highway). Having never had a flat before, I didn’t realize it for a while. I had to call my boyfriend to ask him for help (I was only about 5 miles from work and no one I know is anywhere near there to help me–I’m fortunate that my boyfriend’s work isn’t too terribly far from mine). What seemed like it would be an easy fix turned into an hour-long nightmare. Apparently, I don’t get my tires rotated enough, so the tire was frozen to the wheel well. He couldn’t get the tire out and I don’t have AAA or roadside assistance so we had to call the non-emergency police… jesus. So the guy came and was very nice, hammered the tire out and we got the spare on, all was good. At this point, my boyfriend decided to call into work because for his line of work, it’s better that he miss an entire day than come in late (something about his daily quotas…not sure). SO, since he wasn’t going to work anyway, we decided to switch cars and that way he could take mine to get a new tire put on.

I pulled out of the shoulder and continued on my way to work without checking my phone until I exited the highway. Six missed calls and one frantic voicemail–get this, after I drove away, he went to start the car and the battery was dead. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? So I went to call him back and his phone was going straight to voicemail. Shit! I thought his phone had died, too. I finally got a hold of him and I guess the highway patrol helper had to come back and jump the car. Oh man. Long story short, it was an expensive day–but my mechanic was awesome. Turns out, I didn’t need a new battery yet, the car just died because I left the lights on during the whole tire debacle. Instead of being a slimy mechanic and installing a new battery anyway (like most would to make an extra buck), he was straight with me and didn’t do it. I really love my mechanic. It’s so hard to find an honest one, especially in this economy, and his kindness was much appreciated after the craziness that was yesterday. I’m only $188 in the hole instead of the assumed $400+. 🙂

Then today, the snow hit. All day I was trapped in the office worried about my drive home. I made a big mistake by taking the highway home (thinking the roads would be more clear)–no. Ridiculous stop-and-go traffic for 45 minutes. By the time I exited the highway and was halfway home, it was already 4:45–the time I am usually home. Finally, at 5:20, I pulled into my street, which had yet to be plowed, planning on parking in the funeral home. I was told when I moved in that, because there’s no lot for this building and because my landlord’s family has owned these two properties for 100 years, they’d struck a deal with the funeral home and we’re allowed to park there. I normally park on the street but obviously, with all the snow, I was planning on parking in the lot. Well. It hadn’t been plowed and was closed off by traffic cones. Are. You. Kidding. Me. Luckily I just noticed that the parking garage 3 blocks down is 24-hours (and free), but considering my luck, I didn’t think there’d be any spots. I was lucky enough to find one, but now I have to live in fear of someone fucking with my car overnight AND I have to wake up super early and strap on my winter boots to walk 3 blocks at 6:45 tomorrow morning. Cool. Let me tell you, having not been prepared for all this snow today, walking 3 blocks in ankle-deep snow wearing heels and no socks is NOT delightful in the least.

I’m trying to find a bright side but it’s definitely getting harder…at least tomorrow is Friday.

In the wake of this car/snow catastrophe, instead of cooking something interesting and not-processed (like that damn squash that’s still sitting on my counter staring at me…) I came home yesterday and whipped together a vegan pizza and had two beers. As punishment for breaking my rule, I will be avoiding alcohol one day this weekend. I just don’t need the extra calories!

The pizza was okay…better than it looked, that’s for sure. This was my first rendez-vous with vegan “cheese” and it wasn’t that bad! It just wasn’t very melty and thus, the presentation of the pizza was a little bit lacking. Next time I make a vegan pizza, I think I’ll try to make my own crust and my own sauce instead of buying the pre-made stuff…although the pizza sauce I did use (which was organic) was DELICIOUS. I added some dried oregano, fresh minced garlic, and hot pepper flakes. It was spicy and delicious. My boyfriend found it to be a little too spicy for him, but I love spicy. If I haven’t broken into a sweat and my mouth isn’t burning by the end of consuming stir fry or pizza, I’m just not satisfied. 🙂

Tonight I wanted to cook something simple but satisfying so I decided on breakfast for dinner and made some tofu scramble (with nutritional yeast, fresh minced garlic, a sprinkle of cajun seasoning and chile powder, and a little bit of turmeric, plus veggies of course) and it was great. No pictures for that one. After trudging home in the snow, I couldn’t be bothered to make it look nice or snap any pictures.

So off to bed I go. Tomorrow is a new day. And to add to my bucket list, I need to learn how to change a god damn tire! I felt so helpless and I normally pride myself on my independence. Being completely at the mercy of others on the shoulder of the highway during morning rush hour traffic is simply not acceptable.

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friday night breakdown.

Whoa. I just completely, totally broke down. Like, cried like a helpless baby in front of the fridge because we’re out of the beer I wanted to drink kind of a breakdown. Irrational, ridiculous, embarrassing breakdown. This entire day was this breakdown’s foreplay. Now I’m sitting on the other side of the meltdown and I think I can logically break it down (whoa, pun not intended) to make this all make sense.

CHANGE

As of Monday, I have decided to do a number of new things and I think my poor little soul wasn’t prepared. I’ve, for the most part, changed my diet. I’ve decided to stay positive and optimistic instead of retreating to comfortably numb cynicism. I have opted out of boozing on non-weekend days (major shock to the system, lemme tell you). I have thrown myself into this blog to document my pathway to positivity.

As a result of these changes, I:

1) have not been sleeping well. at. all.

I normally retreat to bed at a very early time (usually out of boredom, not necessarily sleepiness). This week, while I wanted to sleep, I couldn’t! My mind has been racing. I actually take this to be a good thing: instead of slumping into hours-long sleep, I’m actually sleepless due to the excitement of major life changes. However, that doesn’t get me out of waking up before 6:00 for work each day…so the lack of sleep has started to wear on me.

2) have been having major. major. MAJOR. headaches.

Over a year ago, I was concerned about my relentless headaches. Saw a neurologist about it, had an MRI, yadda yadda yadda…there might be something minor wrong with my nervous system but there is nothing wrong with my brain. Magically, the headaches subsided after I stopped worrying about all the things that might’ve been wrong. I’ve been largely headache-free since–until now. I’ve been going to sleep with headaches, waking up with headaches. This has been never-ending headache week.

3) have been possibly ignoring work issues.

As a means of being more positive, this means much of the work shit has remained untouched and stuffed down. There’s probably only so much of this I can take before I explode. My boss almost brought on the trigger of that tipping point. Today’s breakdown was little about work, but how long can this go on before an inevitable work meltdown?

4) have not really been eating.

I’ve been too busy at work, haven’t had any money in my account to go grocery shopping, haven’t been feeling up to cooking long-winded dinners…so I’ve just been eating less. And today when I couldn’t lunch at work because there was no time for a 30-minute break, I think it all finally caught up to me.

5) have been probably going through beer withdrawal.

I used to drink daily and now I’m limiting myself to weekends. Seeing that the fridge lacking the ONE beer I wanted (Breckenridge Agave Wheat) was the trigger of my Friday night breakdown (crying–no, SOBBING–in front of the fridge and saying “that was the last straw! that was the last straw!”)–I might venture to say that the lack of drinking is shocking my system just a bit.

Once I addressed my basic needs (cried a little and felt emotionally satisfied; chowed down on coconut curry, which I’ve been craving for days; drank half a beer; changed into my PJs), I felt better.

I just freaked out a little bit. I told James I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t kid myself and change the way I think and behave–I alluded to the fact that I’m not strong enough to be different than I was. But that’s not true. I think this week was just overwhelming. I now have a clear mind. I now see that this is going to be a long process–but damnit, I’m going to find happiness, some way or another. Here’s to hoping that the breakdowns come few and far between from here on out.

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things to do differently in 2012

I’ve already made mention of the fact that I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions–however, there are a few things I aim to do differently this year–or maybe just some things I plan on considering. Without further adieu, below are my New Year’s non-resolutions.

  • Be Kind

This one goes without saying. It’s easy to be a dick. It’s easy to be a less-than-stellar friend. It’s easy to find yourself victim of “flight” instead of “fight.” I’m a person who is easily irritated by others’ bad habits and I’d like to not be that hateful girl in the corner anymore. This year I vow to try to find kindness.

  • Think Mindfully

Thinking mindfully (or, thinking in the present) is something I’ve learned much about in my yoga practice. I was recently reading How to Train Your Brain to Get Happy, which mentioned the positive effects meditation can have on the brain–such as stimulating the limbic system (the brain’s emotional network). I used to find meditation cheesy–before actually trying it–but I have to say, I feel completely at peace and rejuvenated after taking savasana in class. This year I vow to think more mindfully.

  • Immerse Myself in Causes

A few months ago, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was stuck in a post-grad rut and I was searching for something that would feel meaningful to me. The end result was a volunteering gig with a local no-kill shelter. I love animals and both of my cats were rescues, so it seemed right to me that I would volunteer my time to help a local organization succeed, since I’m not exactly in a spot to donate financially. While this is all well and good, the gig is only 2 hours/month. I can do better than that. This year I vow to find more causes to immerse myself in.

  • Drink Beer Only on Weekends and Special Occasions 

I write this as I sip a Breckenridge Agave Wheat from a frosted Sam Adams mug (hey, I had today off since New Year’s Day fell on a weekend, so this is totally a “holiday”!) I absolutely love craft beer. I live too close for comfort to Binny’s. While I can’t blame my expanding waistline entirely on beer, I’d have to say it’s a pretty big culprit. The uppermost shelf of my fridge is almost entirely taken up by various beers right now. I bought my boyfriend a subscription to the “beer of the month” for Christmas. We love beer. And we need to stop drinking so much of it. This year, I vow to not come home on any idle Tuesday to crack open a cold one and veg out on the couch–I vow to drink beer only on weekends and special occasions.

  • Consider Veganism…?

About six of my 23 years have been comprised of vegetarianism. I only recently started to entertain the idea of becoming vegan. To be honest, I love cheese. I am a cheese-loving vegetarian, period. I also have a huge sweet tooth, and while vegan baked goods, I’ve found, aren’t terrible, they’re certainly no match for red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I took a 1-day vegan challenge just a few days ago, and it spilled into being a 2-day vegan challenge. It would have been three if it wasn’t for the damn cupcakes I just mentioned that I baked on New Year’s Eve. I even found that many of my favorite beers are vegan-friendly! My two days of veganism felt really good and clean and had me aching for more healthy choices. I don’t think full-time veganism is a commitment I’m ready to make (especially since I love shoes and the majority of my shoes are leather…sigh), but it’s something I’m toying with. This year, I vow to eat less animal products–for my health and for the planet.

  • Be Honest

This is a straight-forward one. I wouldn’t admit to a vegan friend that I don’t think I could be vegan because I love my leather shoes–but hey, look, I just admitted it here. Honesty. Get some.

  • Not Find Myself on a “Diet”

Last, but not least–this is probably the most important non-resolution I have this year. I could stand to lose a few (several) pounds–but! Diets don’t work. At least, not for me. They work for a while but then I binge on all the amazing foods I’ve been depriving myself of, and then I gain all the weight back and then some. This is common and can be avoided by a simple lifestyle change. This year, I vow to change the way I live my life with the planned outcome that I will lose some weight and feel better about myself.

What are your non-resolutions?

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