Category Archives: Travel

This is What Democracy Looks Like

What a wild two and a half months. In January, some friends and I attended the Women’s March on Washington, which was, for lack of a better word, surreal. We were so fortunate so be apart of “herstory,” and hear from many of the people who have stood up for women’s rights throughout the past 40+ years. Here’s a brief rundown of that weekend:

The night before the march, I visited with my dear friend and fellow activist, Christin, and stood in line for three hours  – yes, you read that right – to pick up some souvenirs from a special pop-up shop. The camaraderie in line was incredible – we shared pizza and stories, and drivers honked and cheered in support of us. I was interviewed by a Danish journalist for Jyllands-Posten, and it was pretty cool to hear his perspective. Jorgen had spent some time in Georgia at Jimmy Carter’s home, and was eager to talk about his experiences with the former President. img_0523

After the pop-up, I stopped in a bookstore whose name I now forget, and picked up a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves from 1972 – hand stapled and everything! The record cafe nearby, Songbyrd, was pretty cool, too, but I resisted the urge to buy any vinyl, due to difficulties getting it back home.

My friend, Bridget, hosted me at her house with her sweet corgi puppers, Pebbles and Skylar, and has the most comfortable bed EVER. She also spoiled me rotten with her amazing cooking! I had to get up pretty early Saturday morning to take the Metro into the city to meet Liz, her daughter, Abby, and their friend, Aleia, and it was none too easy get out of that comfy bed. Nevertheless, I did, and with a bit of trepidation for what the day might bring. The Metro ride was eerily quiet, with us marchers gearing ourselves for the day. Once we hit our stop, however, it was mind-blowing to see the amount of other people getting off with their signs, hats, and jubilance.

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Liz and I had to meet a reporter from my station’s DC Bureau for an interview and in a sea of hundreds of thousands of people all gathering in the same place, this was no easy feat! We found each other and ultimately landed in a prime location for the event.

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Liz being interviewed by Gray Reporter, Peter Zampa

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Gloria Steinem

 

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Angela Davis

Again, we stood for hours. But it was so worth it. We shared snacks and helped each other see better, and supported each other in general. Mid afternoon, we finally began to march. Onlookers cheered from the promenade of the Newseum, and people came from every direction. I cannot stress how many people were there – they took up every.single.street. We opted to stop at the Washington Monument, rather than continue to the White House, as it was already so late and we were pretty much starving at that point. Marchers left their signs on the lawn, and it was a sight to see.

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Exhausted, but fulfilled, we went on the hunt for food and ended up in a Greek restaurant in Alexandria. Every. single.place was PACKED.

I spent the rest of the weekend visiting the US Botanic Garden, the National Women’s Party Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a brief stop at the National Gallery. I also had the pleasure of meeting my mom’s old college friend and art historian, Peter Lukehart, and had the most delicious lavender hot chocolate ever. My bff, Crystal, and her other bff, Catherine, had come into town and we spent a weird night at an underground goth dance party, because why not? Photos from the rest of the weekend will be saved for another post.

Just when I thought things would be back to normal, a month later, Liz and I found ourselves with Maxine Waters, Jehmu Greene, Tom Perez, Bob Bland, and Howard Dean at the DNC Winter Reception. Saving that story for another blog post, as well!

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Food, Glorious Food

I really love food. I mean I really, REALLY love it. While eating lunch, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner. It should come as no surprise, then, that when visiting other cities, meal planning is high on my list of priorities.

While I had some favorites to hit up in Olympia & Portland (hello, Big Tom’s!), I was eager to explore other restaurants. To be honest, I would have been fine with fries and goop from Big Tom’s the entire time, but I think that my traveling companion might have bickered!

We actually spent a good bit of time at the Olympia Farmers Market, sampling all the goodies that vendors were selling. We tried homemade macarons (passion fruit for Travis & me, peanut butter for Peter & Nicole), the delicious homemade sauerkraut, freshly picked cherries, and tayberry & marionberry jams. We got up early one morning to get breakfast there so Peter could try the Cap’n Crunch shake, and I had an enormous vegan breakfast sandwich.

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breakfast of champions

I wish we could have taken home all of the plants, fruits, and veggies at the market. I am going to order some of the tayberry jam from Johnson Berry Farm because it’s just so good! The tayberry is a cross between a Scottish raspberry and an Aurora blackberry, and it’s a perfect blend of sweet and tangy.

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nothing like fresh washington cherries

Once in Portland, I had to take Peter to Sushi Ichiban, where my friend, Ainsley, of Palate Polish, hipped me to their “Eliza” roll last year. I could go on and on about the amount of premium quality sushi that you get for next to nothing, but I won’t since I think I already did that on a post from last year. 😉

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oh, eliza

While I follow a primarily vegan diet, I have a weakness for fancy ice cream. After seeing numerous friends posting about Salt & Straw, I knew we’d have to go. There are, fortunately, several Portland locations, because the first one we went to had a line that wrapped around the block. The second one had a line, as well, but we only ended up waiting about fifteen minutes and it was every bit worth the wait. I tried to convince Peter to get the Fish Sauce Caramel with Palm Sugar flavor off of their Fermentation Series, but he wasn’t having it. Instead, he chose the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate with Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and I got Honey Lavender and the Sourdough with Chocolate and Cherries off of the June Fermentation menu. I’m looking at the July menu currently, and trying not to cry because the flavors of the Berry Series look amazing. Portland Creamery’s Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero & Gin Spiced Blackberry Jam and Chocolate Chips? I’m dying. And now, thanks to Salt & Straw, I have been ruined. We got ice cream at Bluebird in Seattle, which was also good, but it just wasn’t the same. I am beyond tempted to join the “Pints Club” and have it shipped to my door…

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honey lavender & sourdough w/chocolate & cherries

While wandering around Portland, we had a light dinner at Maurice, a sweet French & Scandinavian luncheonette named after the owner’s rabbit! The airy, white interior, is filled with a mismatch of tables and chairs, vintage tins & flatware, marble counters, & a fully stocked bakery case of impeccable sweets. It’s the kind of place where you’d pop in for a quick fika break, have a first date, or a dinner party with all of your girlfriends. Peter enjoyed a vegetable risotto while I dined on a cool melon soup and beet & strawberry smorebrod.

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melon soup with crusty bread & tomatoes


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beet & strawberry smorebrod

Because we enjoy the art of dining so much, we drove into Seattle one evening simply to have dinner in Chinatown. Upon entering Ping’s Dumpling House, you feel like you have been transported to a rural Chinese home. The inside looks nothing like what you would expect from the outside – it’s far better. And then there are the dumplings. We were pretty hungry, so we ordered up a feast containing two types of dumplings (mixed vegetable and wood ear mushroom), a large bowl of “almost tofu,” and a giant vegetable steamed bun. All of this was served alongside a pot of hot tea and several sauces with which to dip your dumplings. I don’t think either of us really expected just how many dumplings would arrive – we ended up with about two dozen total! Much like at Sushi Ichiban, we left stuffed while at a bargain price. While I probably wouldn’t buy much from the adjoining market, I would highly recommend the restaurant section to anyone and everyone.

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dumplings for days

The best meal we had, however, came from Nicole. Being able to just sit at their home and eat pasta with our friends, Boston Terriers begging at our feet, was so nice. Nothing beats a bowl of noodles with fresh veggies from the market and a glass of wine!

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mmm gluten

I’m heading back to Philly and into NYC toward the end of the month and have already begun my food research. High on the list are Russ & Daughters, a snack of Peruvian Fries from VStreet, and 35 cent pretzels. If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

A Song for You

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of the Carpenters. I’ve got most of their albums, am working towards collecting all of the 45s, and have gotten my hands on and read as many books as possible, not to mention seeing all the E! specials, the movies, etc. I have a low singing voice, so I think part of my love for them is due to the fact that I can actually sing along and hit those low notes – gone are the days of me being a 1st soprano!

When googling distances from where I was staying to other areas of California, I realized that I was only 45 minutes from the Carpenters’ house in Downey, and about an hour and a half away from the mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Memorial Park. Since that was pretty close to Malibu, I decided to make the pilgrimage to Karen’s grave and then drive down some of the PCH afterwards. I’m still not exactly sure how to describe the experience.  Their music, as silly as it may sound, has been there through all of my ups and downs, so it was a really meaningful experience to get to “visit” her.

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Karen and her parents are all here

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Pink drumsticks

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it was a super windy day!

One cannot go into the mausoleum, but can peek inside. The marble on Karen’s reads, “A star on earth, a star in heaven.”

While I’ll never get to experience seeing Karen Carpenter, being able to do this was just as worthwhile. Although windy, it was quiet and peaceful, and I sat for a little while, lost in my thoughts. Sure, the drive was a little out of the way, but it was absolutely worth it to be able to thank her for everything she’s meant to me.

And yes, Savanna, I cried.

 

Boston Beach Party

Friends and family asked me if I saw any celebrities in California, and my response was, “yes, the four-legged kind!” Rosie’s Instagram friends are pretty much legendary.

I met up with Jamie, whose pups are Peanut Girlfriday and Butters, and with her was also  Cricket Outlaw Moonshadow, who she was taking care of for the day. When we got to the beach, Coach was holding court, running around and keeping all of the Barktechtives in line. It was so nice to meet Jamie, Tammy, Lisa, and all of Rosie’s friends! Because it was Zoie’s birthday the following week, her momager brought treats for all the dogs, and was kind enough to send one home with me for Ro. It was an all-dog meet-up, but the Bostons definitely outnumbered all the others – about a dozen of them! I Facetimed with Rosie, so she could “attend” the meet-up, too, but she was unimpressed, having been awakened from her afternoon nap. I also Facetimed with Nicole and Travis, so that Lucille and Kumba could take part, as well. It was such a fun afternoon-I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

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Cricket, Peanut, & Butters

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Hi, Coach!

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Peanut and Butters having a drink

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Happy Birthday, Zoie!

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Ziggie & her momager

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Chunk of nocluelulu putting on his speedo

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Coach is ready for his close-up

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Boston moms unite! (s/o to Tiger’s Den Vintage for my Member’s Only jacket!)

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Jamie & sweet Peanut

So, Jamie is pretty much the best. We went to lunch after the meet-up and I, overwhelmed by so many amazing Bostons, lost my mind and managed to lock my keys in my car. She stayed with me the whole time while we waited for the company to send someone over to unlock it. I can’t wait to see her again and hit up Disneyland for some Dole Whip!

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Barktechtives group photo

Look at all of those beautiful squishy faces! We really are a cult of Boston Terrier owners who just want to hang out together and talk about our dogs – and it’s so much fun! These fur babies are so amazing – they do SUP, surf, ride in motorcycles, are detectives, and all-around sweethearts. Everyone was so welcoming (and tried to convince Rosie and I to move out there!), and I’d love to visit again this summer with Rosie, who, by the way, is also a member of Barktechtives! Newport Dog Beach is really great, and everyone has been working really hard to save it from becoming just another beach. You can help by signing the petition here!

So, did I convince you to get a Boston yet? 😉

Sweetheart Day, pt. 2

I’m very lucky to have a partner who humors me when I say that we should go to the Korean spa and get naked with a bunch of strangers. Being a nude model, I don’t mind shedding my clothes around people, and this is a far more relaxing (and warmer!) way to do it. Naturally, Jeju has segregated locker and bath areas, so we were only able to go to the large saunas and restaurant together. Even then, I like to be as warm as possible, so while I spent much of my time in the Rock & Salt sauna & the steam rooms, he prefers cooler temperatures and enjoyed the frigid meat locker known as the Ice Room. Off our separate ways we went!

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restoration in the Jewel Sauna

Once most people pulled out their mats to go to bed, we headed back to the hotel. At only $25 for 24 hours, I’d have no qualms about staying overnight! But, it was nice to fall into that big king-sized bed, replete with fluffy pillows and hotel amenities. The hotel in which we stayed was a childhood favorite, full of gardens inside and out – including a little Japanese one! We overslept, but still had plenty of time to get in all of our planned excursions before heading home. We hit up The High first, where we were pleasantly surprised to find free admission due to a big family festival they were having that day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the museum that crowded! It’s nice to be able to go there and the Columbia Museum of Art and experience all the different events both museums have to offer.

I’m a big fan of the American and Folk Art wings, and had to take the opportunity to snap photos of work by some of my favorite artists – Bill Traylor, Joseph Stella, and Howard Finster, just to name a few. I’ve got my eye on a Bill Traylor anthology, as well as a Walker Evans one they have for sale in the museum shop. They may have to come home with me on our trip to see the Basquiat exhibit!

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“The Lion and the Bear”

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close-up of “Purissima,” Joseph Stella

After the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch from the food carts positioned outside of the Woodruff Arts Center (a veggie burger & plaintains for me, pasta and spicy meatballs for him!) and skipped down the road to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Tropical Rotunda is just full of the most perfect plant species, especially all of the varietals of Philodendrons.

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I’ve never been one who favors photographing flora, but I have to admit that I do enjoy taking portraits of strange plants and curious leaves.

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a close-up from the High Elevation House

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your cliche “hand on plant/#liveauthentic” photo

During our visit, we delighted in the Nepenthes, or Asian Pitcher Plant, exhibit. I love love love carnivorous plants, and these were a sight to see!

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brightcups

sweet nectar

 

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next painting subject?

I’m working on a couple of photo series’ right now, as well as some smaller watercolors for another project, and trying to decide which one I want to go with for an upcoming show in the Fall. Plant portraits are weighing heavily on my mind, and I certainly have more than enough photos from which to choose now!

Speaking of photography, my boyfriend is also a talented photo-maker, and he surprised me with an image of a really special moment. We went to a Clinton rally a couple of weeks ago, where we got to hear former President Bill Clinton speak, and I even managed to take a selfie with him! While taking said selfie, my sweet beau jumped on the risers and snapped a photo of us, and gifted me a print of it for the holiday. I ran around the station with it, proudly sharing it with everyone and anyone, and now have it hanging up behind my desk. It was such an honor to meet him, and to have that second captured in time truly is a treasure. #endgushing!

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You’re due for a Rosie post, so look for one soon highlighting the her souvenir from Philadelphia and her Valentine’s present. She’s also highly in need of a bath, so I may give you a glimpse into what a spa day looks like for her!

 

Sweetheart Day, pt. 1

This Valentine’s Day, we decided to get away from it all and headed to Atlanta for a quick, but relaxing, overnight trip. About a month ago, I had booked an appointment with Radiant Human at Young Blood Boutique to have my aura photographed, and couldn’t decide if I should just drive up for the day solo and then have a quiet Valentine’s Day at home or if the boy and I should go together and explore. We like a challenge, so we decided to go for it and pack in as much as we could in those 24 hours!

Our first stop was at Argosy so I could get my cards read by my friend, Katie, of Psychic Joy. She was eerily accurate in December, and I was curious as to what she and the cards had to say a couple of months later. She was right on the money again! You should definitely check her out during one of the Argosy Swaps, and take a look at her goods at Psychic Joy Shop.

Surprisingly, I had overlooked Young Blood each time I was in the Highlands, always spending the afternoon in Highland Row Antiques digging for records, jade dishware, & vintage adornments. Nutmeg Vintage is without a doubt my favorite booth, so give her some love next time you’re there! As for Young Blood, they carry almost all of my favorite brands – Mudpuppy CeramicsNative Bear, Portland favorites Betsy and Iya & Imaginary Authors, & Group Partner, just to name a few. I managed to get away without causing too much damage, with a long-coveted tee from Otherwild, some chocolate from Compartes, and the most adorable plum-flavored lolly from A Secret Forest.

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also shown: a lovely labradorite I picked up for some extra good energy

I’ve been dying for one of Michael’s All-Seeing Eye Hand Amulets, and now I’m obsessed with his decal adorned skulls, particularly the boob one! Seems like it would be pretty perfect for my desk at work, no?

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Getting my aura photographed was all that I hoped it would be. Christina is so kind, and she took the time to explain what the colors of each person’s aura meant. The purple/violet color at the top represents my consciousness – being a visionary who is  unconventional, non-judgmental, playful, loves to be inspired and delight others. The red right represents the exterior, the energy pushing out, or how the world sees me – strong with great will power, someone who looks to new beginnings, leadership, action, and practicality. It is encouraged to get plenty of exercise and get into nature to achieve balance. As for the lower left-hand, that represents how I see the energy coming in, or the lens in which I view the world – a blue color stands for depth of feeling, trust, devotion, loyalty, nurture, personal relationships, supportive, intuitive, and sensitive, and it is recommended to pursue creative endeavors. I’d say that’s me in a nutshell!

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Christina is based out of Portland, but is constantly on tour photographing auras. I urge you to check her dates and see if she will be in a city near you so you can do this, too! It is an experience I will always treasure – and definitely not a bad start to a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend! Next up, Jeju, the High, and the Botanical Gardens!

Motownphilly’s back again

I’m super hungry today and all I can think about is the amazing food I ate in Philly. Because Crystal works at VStreet, that was my first stop the night I arrived, where, as I mentioned previously, she had saved me a soft serve “Cruise Ship:” piña colada ice cream with chunks of pineapple upside down cake and a cherry on top. It’s seriously what dreams are made of – vegan ice cream perfection!

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cruise ship soft serve

After a day at the Mutter Museum and Chinatown on Friday, I met back up with Crystal at VStreet for dinner and I seriously thought they might have to roll me out of there. She hooked me up with some appetizers to start – mint chutney green beans with papadum and Peruvian fries with aji Amarillo, cilantro, dried olives, & peanuts. I could eat those fries everyday – not to say that I’ve ever met a potato I didn’t like BUT these were some of the best I’ve ever had. The Indian-spiced green beans had a really commendable flavor, as well.

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mint chutney green beans

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Peruvian fries

For my main course, I ordered the Korean fried tempeh tacos. Large pieces of tempeh were cradled by a soft tortilla and enrobed with radish kimchee, grilled tomato sriracha and sriracha thousand island dressing. I added some other sauces, whose names I forget now, but both of which added an extra kick of heat to the tacos. I’ve been imagining them all day! Perfect for a taco cleanse, eh? Even though I was pretty stuffed, I couldn’t leave without another dish of soft serve, and they sent me out some of their caramel popcorn, too. By this time, the snow had begun to fall and snowpocalypse was on the way, so I decided to get a cab back to the house in order to beach out on the bed and contemplate the bad decisions I make in life. 😉 The best part – all of it was vegan!

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jumping on the taco diet bandwagon

I love eating at local spots when visiting new places, and enjoying the most authentic food as possible. No chain restaurants for me! On my list of foods to eat was Polish or Russian food. Since we were snowed in and couldn’t get into NYC, we had to pass on Russian fare, but were able to hike over to Port Richmond for Polish dishes. The aureate decor included disco balls and the sound of Polish soap operas permeated the acoustics of the bar – New Wave Cafe was the very epitome of authenticity. Every Eastern European meal must have hot tea, and they fortunately had some chamomile (I’ve been caffeine-free for two years now!), so I imbibed on that while Crystal tried one of their Polish beers. We split some potato and cheese pierogis with sour cream to start and I was in absolute heaven. Coupled with the fact that The X-Files was to premier that night, it was just too much for me, and I may or may not have started crying over anticipation of the rest of our meal and seeing Mulder and Scully again.

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pierogi!

Crystal ordered stuffed cabbage (I love making a vegetarian, Lithuanian version at home) with a side of mashed potatoes and beet salad, and I got potato pancakes and sauerkraut, accompanied by sour cream and applesauce, of course. The beet salad was definitely the best I’ve ever had – sweet, tangy, sour, earthy, and savory. All the flavors balanced each other perfectly. I wish I had gotten some borscht, too!

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eastern european bliss

Because we traveled far and wide to eat, it didn’t take long to get hungry again. My next request was for some legit Italian food. Thanks to the snowstorm, a lot of places were closed, but we traversed through the Italian Market, anyway. Though on the hunt for spaghetti and/or pizza, Crystal took me to Rim Cafe, where Rene made me a $12 hot chocolate called a “Volcano.” I ordered the 80% dark chocolate ganache “Lava,” but I considered trying the mascarpone one! Topped with more ganache, dark and raspberry chocolate shavings, it was incredibly decadent. I also ordered a mini cannoli, but I’m sad to say that it wasn’t very good – didn’t even touch Deborah’s at Yo Pizza. Watching Rene make the hot chocolate while surrounded by “Godfather” paraphernalia was an experience, nonetheless. If I had had an extra $100 to spend, I would have tried them all!

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“Lava” (apologies for the out of focus photo)

We did end up finding some pizza and spaghetti to round out the evening, and my appetite was finally satiated. I’ve been thinking about those damn tacos all day, and seriously considering trying that taco cleanse – tacos every day can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT???