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Little Swimmer & 4th of July Fun!!!!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Well, A achieved his goal and he and I swam an entire half mile alongside each other on Thursday. I was so proud of him! I could see that, after three days of swimming, his endurance was better and he was doing two full lengths and barely getting winded. He bragged to everyone that he swam a full mile this week!

You know what really ticked me off, though? At Day Camp, he asked his counselors if he could swim laps during pool time and they told him he couldn't because they don't want "immature swimmers" in the lanes. He told them he swam 1/4 mile two days I'm a row and wanted to reach his goal of swimming an entire half mile and do you know what those jerks told him??? "I don't think it's possible. You won't be able to do that." Omg!!! FU%&ERS!

Anyway, he DID it and it was POSSIBLE. SO THERE.

We had a lovely 4th of July. Took the kids to a great parade and then to Lake Lemon for swimming and a picnic dinner and fireworks.

Occupy Bloomington (with my friend, Mary, and her 7 kids)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIPPER15 7/7/2014 8:56PM

    Well done A!! Lovely firework pics!

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LINDAK25 7/5/2014 10:30PM

    emoticon emoticon He did it! Fantastic!

Looks like you had a great 4th of July. You got some great pictures of the fireworks, too.

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KRYSTALLA 7/5/2014 5:50PM


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CINDHOLM 7/5/2014 3:51PM


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JUNEAU2010 7/5/2014 2:40PM

    How very cool! That young man is empowered now~! emoticon

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MSTWOMOONS002 7/5/2014 2:03PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Thanks for sharing your wonderful blessed 4 of July picnic Congrats to A what an awesome accomplishment, more & more experiences like that and we'll see him in the Olympics--Move over Michael Phelps. A's going for the Gold

That lake looks mighty inviting to a desert rat like me. Take care & be well

Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon

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PATTISTAMPS 7/5/2014 10:43AM

    What a wonderful 4th! You are building such memories for each of your family members! Including yourself! The camp counselors are obviously afraid of any liability, so telling him he couldn't do it was an easy out for them. However, you may wish to discuss with them that a more reasonable response would have been that we are not allowed to have swimmers younger than or smaller than XYZ to swim laps. Probably a truthful answer, and certainly better than "no way"... donkey heads! (substitute any other appropriate words there... LOL)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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YOGAGIRL289 7/5/2014 10:30AM

  Congratulations to A on his great accomplishment!

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ALICE_TENNIS 7/5/2014 9:35AM

    Your son just learned the valuable lesson that there are always people who tell you, "no, you can't do that" which means you just go out and prove them wrong. emoticon

I'm glad he's got you "in his corner", cheering him on. Your success & commitment inspires others!!

p.s. Your fireworks photos are great! You're quite the photographer!

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HOLLYM48 7/5/2014 9:27AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Thanks for sharing your awesome day with A and your fun evening!

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REGILIEH 7/5/2014 9:17AM

    A perfect family day!

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TIMEHASCOME56 7/5/2014 9:16AM

    I can tell you all had a great time emoticon

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More Bonus Boy & Veggie Food Pics!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Well, if you read yesterday's blog, you'll be wondering how A is doing with his "training". We went to the pool today and he and I swam laps together. He got his 15 lengths in (another 1/4 mile!) and I got my 30. We had so much fun together and he was even more proud of himself today than he was yesterday! He SHOULD be proud! It's a BIG deal! He is DETERMINED to swim a full 1/2 mile tomorrow. Ay, the energy of youth! My body is like SERIOUSLY SORE, you guys!

We've truly had a great week together! On Monday, I actually picked the boys up from Day Camp and surprised them by taking them out for frozen yogurt. We took a lot of funny pictures and I posted them on Facebook with the following captions....

Torturing the bonus boys and making them eat frozen yogurt and ride waterslides. #EvilStepmother #Mwahahaha

The torture continues... #EvilStepmother

That night, a very happy and tired A gave me the sweetest hug and said, "You are the BEST stepmom. You are NOT an evil stepmother."

He and I have really bonded a lot this week. It's been a perfect past few days!

Mr. T and I have stayed true to our vegetarian diet for the past couple weeks. Thought I'd share some more delicious pics. It has been anything but boring and we haven't really had any cravings for meat or anything. Granted, we have had a harder time letting go of dairy completely...in fact, still working on that. But we have SIGNIFICANTLY cut down on the dairy, so baby steps. Right? :) One more week and it will be a habit!

Tarragon roasted butternut squash and red onion, with sauteed kale and red wine reduction over whole wheat pasta (a Mr. T custom creation)

Chana Masala (aka Chickpea Curry) with homemade Naan

Curry Roasted Butternut Squash and Toasted Coconut with Spicy Peanut Sauce over Brown Basmati Rice (a Mr. T custom creation)

Fresh Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Cucumber and homemade Red Wine Vinagrette with Roasted Butternut Squash & Garlic on top of Sauteed Kale and a sprinkle of Mozarella (a Leah day-before-payday-using-all-the-veggies-we
-have-left-in-the-fridge custom creation)

And my personal favorite this week...it was SOOOOOO good and even better leftover!

Polenta Black Bean Burgers on Toasted Ciabatta served with Guacamole and Grape Tomatoes and Roasted Butternut Squash, Zucchinni, Tomatoes & Onion

Every day, we think of more creative recipes and everything we have had has been filling and delicious. I never imagined this sort of diet would be this amazingly yummy and easy to follow. You just have to have plenty of variety and creativity!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIPPER15 7/7/2014 8:55PM

    emoticon So glad the boys are bonding

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JUNEAU2010 7/3/2014 11:03PM

    What a great week! Between the bonding and the food - woohoo! My stepmother is fabulous! You will be so for those boys!

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CINDHOLM 7/3/2014 5:50PM


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MSTWOMOONS002 7/3/2014 2:01PM

    WOW you are doing so good, I'm about a week behind you, Cheese is the hardest thing for me to just cut out, yet I'm doing it. I don't miss the meat either. It's just a little hard to cook for one, my hubby's not all in on this more plant based diet. Which is fine for him.

I feel better, cleaner, the first few days I had what I termed as a detox headache, thankful that's over. I can hardly wait for payday so I can go get new vegi's & grains at the health food store.

Thanks for sharing the photos the boys look like they really suffered, LOL Glad to hear your swimming again. Hope you both form a lasting bond for life.

Take care & be well have a happy weekend enjoy the 4th emoticon emoticon

Many Blessings Always Debby

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ARUNNINGKAT 7/3/2014 12:55PM

    So glad you are having fun with the bonus boys! Love the photos! They look like they are full of personality!

Your food looks so delish!

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PATTISTAMPS 7/3/2014 12:49PM

    I am SO not a fan of veggie burgers, including the ones made by my friend's company, Bahama Rice Burgers. BUT... those black bean Polenta burgers sound YUMMY! And I love all the creative ways you are using squash!

Those boys are so special! And the fact that you get to bond with them with and without your birth kids makes it even better. They obviously have a lot of fun with you, but it seems like they also respect you, and that is great. You are doing a great job with merging your families!

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ALICE_TENNIS 7/3/2014 11:09AM

    making memories with your kids!!!!! emoticon

The food looks A-MAZING! You're doing a great job of keeping it interesting + making it tasty + keeping it simple. Hope you're enjoying your success all around!

Happy Fourth of July! emoticon

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WHITNEYLD 7/3/2014 9:17AM

    Interesting recipes!

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OLIVIANIGHT 7/3/2014 7:13AM

    Good grief, those photos could turn the most hardened meat-eater vegetarian. They look awesome!

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ALICIA214 7/3/2014 12:57AM


There are so many more tasty veggie recipes available now we can enjoy meals without meat and not miss it..

emoticon emoticon

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REGILIEH 7/2/2014 10:27PM

    The food looks incredible!!!

Bonus boys are so cute!

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LINDAK25 7/2/2014 10:24PM

    Great that both of you are getting in your laps! Fantastic!

Ha! I love your evil stepmother pictures. So funny! It's fantastic that all y'all get along. Good for you! Oh, that food looks so good. (Fix me a plate, I'll be right over.) My husband likes to make curry with cauliflower. I love chickpeas, too. Have you ever tried socca--it's a crepe made with chickpea (graham) flour. Yum.

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My Stepson, The Hero!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Had to pick up kids from Y Day Camp today and decided to let them swim for a bit. My goggles were broken, so no freestyle for me.


However, instead of lounging in the hot tub, I swam 1/2 mile backstroke instead. Whoa! That was a whole different workout! Shoulders shoulders shoulders!!!

The best part, though, was when I told my stepson, A, that I swam 1/2 mile, he was so impressed and wondered if he could do it.

After a few lengths of the pool, he exclaimed, "This is ADDICTING!" So, for the next half hour, I watched this rather uncoordinated asthmatic kid determinedly struggle up and down the lane 15 times. HE SWAM A QUARTER MILE!!!!

AND, all on his own, he devised a "training plan" to swim 1/4 mile today, 1/4 mile tomorrow and a full 1/2 mile Thursday (for a total of 1 mile this week). It was so adorable. He asked, "Leah...can we swim laps together?" Awwww! The kid is only 9 yr old. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!!!

There's nothing I love more than seeing an active kid - especially when it's a kid who has not had the best examples in terms of adults who model healthy behavior. In fact, downright TERRIBLE examples of health...obesity in this house and awful sickness and morbid obesity in the other. UGH. But I love that we are now getting healthy as a family. And I know we have a LONG way to go, but at least we are headed in the right direction!

I've also just been informed that lap swimming is THE best exercise and activity for kids with asthma! Perfect! It was so meaningful and special to watch the switch flip in his mind and to see him get a little spark of passion for something. I know that if he keeps going, he could improve his form and who knows? Ironman someday???


The rest of the night, he was just on Cloud 9. He kept hugging me and saying over and over, "You are so awesome! Leah, you are so awesome!" It was really precious.

It just goes to show...people are watching. And you may inspire someone when you least expect it...after a regular old, non-PR run-of-the mill workout.

Get out there and do it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIPPER15 7/7/2014 8:51PM


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BESSHAILE 7/4/2014 6:45AM

    Way to go! Both of you.

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ARUNNINGKAT 7/3/2014 12:51PM

    That is so wonderful! emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 7/2/2014 8:16PM

    I have tears in my eyes! How fabulous!

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MSTWOMOONS002 7/2/2014 5:04PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATTISTAMPS 7/2/2014 11:19AM

    Leah, your blogs always touch my heart! Your bonus son is amazing, and so are you! I hope he is able to keep this up and build up his endurance and strength, as well as his confidence. Kids are so awesome! Have a great 4th of July weekend!

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MOM-MOM8 7/2/2014 7:01AM


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CINDHOLM 7/2/2014 6:58AM


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ISLAMOM 7/2/2014 6:40AM

    awesome and adorable!!

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STRONG_SARAH 7/2/2014 2:01AM

    Great inspiration for him and motivation for you. All-in-all a great day!

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REGILIEH 7/1/2014 11:12PM


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LINDAK25 7/1/2014 11:01PM

    Good for both of you!

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ALICE_TENNIS 7/1/2014 10:38PM

    You can encourage each other along. Our kids are watching us a lot closer than we realize . . . emoticon

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SHOAPIE 7/1/2014 10:13PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Meeting the Family

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Today, Todd took me for the first time to one of his extended family events, the annual Family Reunion. So, apparently they don't get together too often (only a few times a year), but when they do, EVERYONE goes and it's a BIG deal. So, as you can imagine...I was a little nervous!

We pulled up to this place in the woods surrounded by trees...a beautiful log cabin! Just GORGEOUS!!!

I was introduced to a veritable crowd of people - Todd's Dad has something like 5-8 siblings. Lol. I can't remember. So I met all of them and all their spouses and their kids...and THEIR kids. I spent a lot of the day trying to get familiar with all their little families and figuring out "who goes with who".

It was SO much fun! Everyone was SO interesting and intelligent and kind and welcoming. My goodness, they are some seriously fascinating people!!! And the kids are ridiculously amazing!

They had the most incredible spread of food! I literally FILLED a plate and every single thing on there met our requirements of vegetarian. All of it was delicious and I'll tell you what...the beer was a-flowin'! Lol.

I'm just so grateful. Not only have I been blessed to have a second chance at true love with a man that I respect the hell out of and who treats me like a queen and so passionately cares for me...but I ALSO get to inherit this ridiculously talented, amazingly kind, fiercely loyal clan on top of that? My cup runneth over. And every single person asked about my kids too...and made it clear that they were also welcome into the family, no questions asked. I'm just stunned. I'm so indescribably happy. I LOVE my life!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMMINATOR 6/23/2014 11:16AM

    What a gift! Enjoy!
and Congrats!

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KALEWINE 6/22/2014 10:36PM

    Sounds awesome!

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LINDAK25 6/22/2014 6:57PM

    Life is so much sweeter when you're surrounded by love.

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MOM-MOM8 6/22/2014 6:43PM

    So Happy for You!! I found the 2nd time was great. emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 6/22/2014 5:47PM

    I am so happy for you! I know, since I don't have this, how much this particular cup overflowing would mean!

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PATTISTAMPS 6/22/2014 1:02PM

    You make me cry... I love this post! And I'm so very glad that the family is so welcoming! It was an experience I didn't get with my DH's family... and he is now estranged from them. Makes me sad for him. But you, my friend, bring my joy when you share yours! Thanks!

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MSTWOMOONS002 6/22/2014 12:26PM

    All I can say is be prepared for more & more love to flow into & through your family stand with arms wide open and enjoy the love Drink it in; Truly Love is all you need.

Plant a garden of love,allow love to grow like a weed the more you pull it up the more it grows back so let it grow, give that love away, then you'll get more then give that away too, and so it goes on & on.

The only thing is you have to love yourself first, because you can't give away the love you don't already have enough of yourself. Once your all full up then just give it away to all the other people you know who could use some love in their lives. Then you'll have more to give away.

I am so happy your life is so wonderful & loving now You deserve it. emoticon

Take care & be well find joy inside each day. We are the ripples in God's pond.

Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon

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CINDHOLM 6/22/2014 11:59AM


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SNOOPYLINKOS 6/22/2014 8:23AM

    Wow! What an awesome family! I love how accepting and friendly they are. You are one lucky gal!

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PHOENIX1949 6/22/2014 1:11AM


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REGILIEH 6/22/2014 12:03AM

    You deserve it! Enjoy!!!

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A Foray Into Vegetarianism - Photos & Recipes!

Friday, June 20, 2014

What a lovely response to my blog yesterday about the documentary, "Forks Over Knives", and Mr. T's & my decision to change our eating style to a plant-based, whole foods mentality!

Since yesterday, I have learned (for those interested) that, if you go to the Forks Over Knives website ( www.forksoverknives.com/ ), you can find out where you can watch the film online. I believe it's $9.99 to buy it on iTunes and $3.99 to watch on Amazon. Of course, the best way is to watch it FREE on Netflix. But not everyone has that option! You can also view the trailer there, get 12 pages of awesome veggie recipes, and read all sorts of cool testimonials about people whose lives have changed as a result of switching to this way of eating.

I thought it might be fun for you to see how we are starting off...in picture form. No one starts off really wonderfully, but I think we've been eating pretty well this past week...and, lucky for you, I snapped a few photos AND I've included recipes!

Hint: My honey uses a website for most of the gourmet-esque meals he makes me and I don't think he's ever made anything that wasn't delicious when he used this site. It's food52.com/recipes . He's been using this one for years...so it's not strictly vegetarian. It has all sorts of stuff! And it's all delicious!

First vegetarian meal (cooked by my darling) was AMAZING!
It was Tarragon Lemon Summer Squash Soup & Sauteed Corn, Green Onions, and Shiitake Mushrooms

A lot of interesting flavors here!

In the soup, he substituted coconut milk (in the can) for the cream and used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It was exquisite and really yummy the next day for lunch!
Recipe here: food52.com/recipes/22700-tarragon-le

In the corn, I was surprised to find that the mushrooms were very "meaty" and mimicked the texture and flavor of beef!
Recipe here: food52.com/recipes/6285-sauteed-corn

My love's next attempt at a lovely vegetarian dinner was a Spark Recipe - SP_Stepf's Technicolor Pasta! :)
Recipe here: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai

We actually didn't use whole wheat pasta. We like Barilla Plus (in the yellow box), which has added protein and it gives a whopping 17g protein per serving. We had kale on hand, so we used that instead of chard (even though I love chard more than kale!) We substituted white onions b/c that's what we had at home. Instead of feta, we just used a sprinkle of parmesan on top.

And lest you think we only eat gourmet all the time, here is my "sad desk lunch" from yesterday (except, it wasn't that sad because it was DELICIOUS! And filling!)

Here's something interesting. In the documentary, they talked about how, after going meat and processed food and dairy free, they could now REALLY taste all their food. I felt that way yesterday with this very small, but flavor-packed lunch. Fruit has never been so sweet and vegetables so powerfully delicious. I do believe my body is starting to crave it.

Another great side effect is that I am coming in exactly on track with my daily calorie numbers, according to the food tracker. Hence, the rapid weight loss.

So, I know this change in eating patterns does worry some people...especially in terms of PROTEIN. In a plant-based diet with plenty of variety (beans, legumes, leafy greens, soy, etc), it is not difficult to get the daily recommendation of protein, but I have been watching it carefully this first week. I found this article very helpful on the subject of protein for vegetarians: www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,207

And this morning, I went a little crazy at our co-op grocery!

Look at all this yummy goodness! A prepared salad, a bagel and hummus and coffee and edamame salad for today's meals. Then, dried red lentils, green lentils, organic couscous, coconut granola, brown basmati rice, organic quinoa & some nutritional yeast. This is about 10 meals worth of stuff...all for about $30. Add some veggies and we're set! No one can tell me it costs more to be healthy. Meat is SO expensive! And with the money we're saving on that, we're getting fresh produce. Great deal!

I know this is not for everyone...and not everyone will be on board. That's OK. I'm just over the moon excited about how our family's health is going to improve. And the fact that Mr. T has jumped on this train with me...with no resistance whatsoever and with full commitment...I can't even explain how that makes me feel. Neither of us has ever been with a partner that actually cared about health enough to make real changes. It's an exciting journey together and I'm so glad to have him by my side in this.

Til tomorrow...lemme know what else you want to know. I'm an open book!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIPPER15 6/21/2014 10:43PM

    I have been enjoying a sandwich made with sautéed portabella mushroom on wheat toast spread with avocado. It is very filling and yummy. emoticon

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LINDAK25 6/20/2014 10:31PM

    Oh, yum! Your soup and corn look really good. Mushrooms are really meaty. They can add a nice texture. Lentils cook up so quickly, that it's easy to add them to a meal. I like quinoa for breakfast. Yes, I make it sweet. Another recipe I like to make uses sweet potato (cooked and cubed), chick peas, and steamed kale sautéed together with finely chopped onions, garlic, and cumin (seeds and powdered).

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JUNEAU2010 6/20/2014 8:49PM

    That soup sounds absolutely fantastic!

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PHOENIX1949 6/20/2014 3:20PM


Appreciate additional info on viewing the film.

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ARUNNINGKAT 6/20/2014 2:40PM

    Your meals look amazing! And I agree. Your body does change and you start to crave real food. If I am eating healthy good, I find that fast food just tastes yucky when I do try it and I crave fruits and veggies. Kind'a nice really! I just have to be sure and listen to what my body is saying. Haha emoticon

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MSTWOMOONS002 6/20/2014 1:25PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Thanks for all that info, I'll go check out Netflix for this afternoons tv viewing now that all the gardening is done.
Thanks for sharing the yummy recipes can't wait to try them, I love brown rice & bella mushrooms it always makes me full & satisfied plus I think the mushrooms help my arthritis.
Way to go I hope you & the family enjoy this new healthy lifestyle. Do you let the kids help prep the vegi's?? Wish we had a co-op here by us.

Take care & be well enjoy each precious moment in your life, it's the gift.

Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon emoticon

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GINA180847 6/20/2014 1:00PM

    Thank you! My husband has expressed a wish to go vegan and I am picking up ideas here and there. For sure the squash soup and corn with mushrooms sounds delicious. I need to shop to make it happen.

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ISLAMOM 6/20/2014 12:39PM

    wow! everything looks delicious!! am very interested in seeing the documentary and I have netflix so no excuses...will try to get my hubbie to watch with me since he is also recently getting interested in eating better. thanks for sharing!

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PATTISTAMPS 6/20/2014 12:38PM

    It looks yummy! I am so happy for you and your wonderful new life! I know that there are always things that are not perfect, but you have got as close as possible, I think! The level of caring and sharing that you and Mr. T have is so special! And I really am going to try my 2 meatless days a week. If I am happy, I will try more...

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ALICE_TENNIS 6/20/2014 11:58AM

    Some people think vegan is boring, but your creativity (& photos) prove otherwise! Enjoy!

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