The Plan

A couple of months ago the plan was to bring in the new year with our closest friends and family in the desert..camping. It all sounded great until a few days ago when the plan started to sound…let’s say…mentally challenged.

Winter decided to make an appearance in Arizona!   We haven’t seen any snow in the suburbs outside of Phoenix but it rained all day yesterday and it was less than 30 Fahrenheit for the low. We would have died in our sleep. No doubt about it.

Jason and I thought it would be a better idea to have the celebration at our place. Have a nice cozy fire in the backyard (yep, on a NO BURN DAY, we would’ve totally done it) with our friends and our dogs and our drinks. That plan was perfect and the best thing about it? We wouldn’t have to drive anywhere…

For the most part, everyone was all in but…there’s always a but…they all have children under twelve. Of course the children would have been welcome BUT.. we have nothing entertaining at all for children to do in our house. They would have been bored to crazy.

Plan C…get our daughter to drive us to our friends house and then we could take a taxi home! Brilliant! 🙂 But…she left and went up north with her friends AND..that would mean we would be leaving our fur babies at home..alone…scared..to deal with the loud firecracker noises.

In the end, we decided to stay home with our fur babies and power through episode after episode of Orange is the New Black season two. In between we ate a delicious Jager Schnitzel with hunter sauce, beets and mashed potatoes courtesy of chef Jason. There was also whiskey and wine..of course.

Happy New Year people! In my heart of hearts I wish nothing but peace, love and prosperity to er’yone! 🙂

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Adventures in Camping..

Physically, I am not here today. It’s been a super long work week and I am so ready to start the weekend. I find myself daydreaming about my last weekend adventure with friends and the Mr.

The dogs, myself and the Mr. piled into the Tacoma and drove up to the Wal-Mart (yea, yea, yea..shut it…). Immediately, I am a teeny bit irked..Why oh why would we have not gone to the store the day before to get the food necessities? Now, certainly someone was going to have to stay..in the parking lot…with the dogs..while the other went into the abyss that is Wal-Mart.

We both knew who was going to play what role..no way was I going to go in..Mainly, it’s not my favorite place but secondly, I would inevitably forget important things..The man is MUCH better at making sure we have all we need.

Our friends met us, the “boys” went shopping and us ladies hung out in the parking lot all fancy and what not with my dogs. Who, by the way, were terrorizing anything and anyone who may pass by on foot or wheels. So embarrassing – I have NO control over those monsters.

About an hour later we were on our way!

Northbound to cooler weather. Or so we thought..It was dry and 90, the sun was piercing and we didn’t really quite know exactly where we were going. I loved it. Investigating our state for a fun new spot!

We stopped in Clarkdale, which is a neat quiet little town that I think I could live in.. While the guys figured out which way to turn, Amy and I got out to explore.

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This is a little tourist/gift shop. I didn’t go in – only peaked through the window. Amy said they had soaps that she wanted to by but we never went back..

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Interested in the art, I wandered across the street until I was told… “get back in the truck, lets go”!

Pavement to off road we enjoyed the bumpy ride, the breeze and of course the scenery. Untouched Arizona really is beautiful. When I first moved here (a gazillion years ago) I did not appreciate the desert landscaping at all..I thought cactus were ugly and I very much disliked the color brown. Cut to today..I can choreograph a simple dance based on the different arm poses of each cactus and brown? I look good in brown earthy tones so, were cool too.

Our second stop was Sycamore Canyon.

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Mental notes were made..we must come back and do the hike down the canyon and long the river when we did not have the dogs and when miss Amy was fully recovered from a recent surgery…

The breeze was nice and it looked like a storm was rolling in from the south (no such luck). Strangers and their dogs were making the way up the path from their hike and our four legged terrorists were on full guard..which could only mean..Time to go!

One more stop as made for a view and a beer!

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This seemed like a nice place to camp for the night but we all voted to press on to see what else was around the corner..

Thankfully so!

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No long after we found the “perfect” spot to set up!

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I was secretly thankful Amy was instructed by her doctor to remain on light duty for a few more weeks post surgery. She was not able to help Danny out with camp set up so it made me not look so bad being my normal not so helpful self. 🙂

While the guys made our home for the night all cozy Amy and I played around with our cameras and be silly..with the aid of boxed wine of course….

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Yep, this one was all my idea haha…I decided it would be so funny to pretend like we were leaping off the edge of the cliff..convinced?

All too soon, our view of the beautiful blue sky, the red painted mountains and the green lushness of the Sedona-ish valley were drowned out by the light of the moon and darkness had fully taken its place.

We had a warm fire (not that we needed it for warmth – even after the sunset the weather was still about 70 Fahrenheit). Have you ever smelled Juniper wood burn in a camp fire? It’s delightful!

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Around the fire we ate the best cheeseburgers – well, maybe not the “the” best cheeseburgers but honestly…the Mr knows how to make a tasty burger!

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Oh and there were hot dogs too. The guys left them out overnight as some sort of experiment and surprisingly enough..they had not been eaten by any wildlife…

Earlier, while the Mr was setting up camp I had asked him what kind of wildlife we may run into out here and COYOTE could not have come out of his mouth any faster..literally he spewed out “coyote” before I had finished my question.

This scared me but lucky for me…I forget easily and I paid no mind to wildlife thereafter..well until…

Bellies full, camp set..the four of us sitting around the fire talking, listening to music while I sang loudly along to my bestie and (obviously) having a few drinks. We had seen a couple of camp fires about a mile out and below our area so it didn’t surprise me to hear a loud “woooooooooooo” coming from the wilderness. I, of course, excited to share with our neighbors that we too were having a great time so I answered back with a louder, “WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOO”.. The guys quickly jump to their feet and got pistol ready… apparently….I was answering a COYOTE… some may now call me forever the coyote whisperer :/

Just as fast as the guys became pistol ready (which was really sexy..by the way…very manly) I rounded up all three dogs and made them get in the truck until I was told we were safe enough.

The drama combined with the box o’ wine made me sleepy..I crawled into the tent and that was the end of my fun for the night.

Come sunrise, I was the first and only one up and about. Normally, when we camp with the dogs they go bat shit crazy, can’t relax and bark at every little noise. Not the case this trip! It was so quiet and the pups chilled out in the tent and waited for their master to wake up…not me…

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This one, though..may have been a little on guard. 🙂 She didn’t move from that spot for like a half hour.

It wasn’t too long after we had to pack up and head out..the stupid sun was coming out to burn us alive.

So long magical Sedona…

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Arizona Style…

You know you have lived in Arizona for too long when you agree to someones crazy a$$ idea when they say…”Hey, we should go to the desert and take band photos”!

The date was August 31st, it was oh about 110 Fahrenheit and super sunny. I am pretty sure that around the time we left, 16:00, it was the hottest part of the day too. 

The trip was two fold, the guys wanted to get their trucks in 4×4 mode and they needed some updated band photos since the recent departure of our guitar playing friend Craig.

Cooler filled with ice, beer, ciders and burgers we headed up to the Table Mesa exit for some off road and photog fun!

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Our first sign of what was to come was the huge bright orange warning:  ROAD DAMAGE

On the drive up I noticed off to the east of the highway some significant flood damage. We had some good monsoon storms about a week ago and the nerdy people that build their lives and homes in the Arizona riverbeds (yea..I’m judging 🙂 )

…sure paid a good price.

There were trees, cacti, bushes, buildings not very well built, furniture, etc all washed away down the length of the river bed. I would have liked to have had some photos to share with you but honestly I was so wowed I completely forgot to grab the camera.

Back to our road! We met up and traveled east..passed through a rickety fence and as we passed by I see another warning. ROAD IMPASSABLE. Still..we continued on..

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Hmm..conundrum. The 4 wheel drivers assessing the situation.

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Odd enough, I was wearing my vans instead of flip flops so I decided to walk across to test the waters. You know..check out how deep the water was and point out big ole boulders in the wash. The water came up to the middle of my thigh (which if you know me…really is not that tall) and there were a few boulders the guys needed to avoid. Of course I was not done with my assessment before my mister jumped in the Tacoma and cruised across!!

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Success!

Along came the others. There was only one little hiccup. One of the trucks didn’t have enough clearance to cross so we decided to stay where we were instead of leaving the low rider and driving another five miles to the ancient ruins. All was not lost though..the band photographer got some good shots of the guys in that perfect little spot anyway. You’ll have to check http://www.hogjawmusic.com or look the band Hogjaw up on Facebook to see those as I didn’t take the pics so I don’t have authorization to share. 🙂

I can share some silliness those so keep reading for those little shots!

Those on foot walked across the “pond” to get to the other side.

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Before the sun went down all the 4×4’s crossed back to the other side.

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While the guys were taking pictures, the ladies enjoyed the scenery and company.

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And then the shenanigans began!

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BOONES FARM! The epitome of teenage drunkenness trouble in a bottle..at least it was in the 90’s haha! Come on now, you lie if you say you never sneaked a slug off the Strawberry Hill back in the day! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beerfest 2014 ~ 10 Year Anniversary

The first weekend of August, for the past seven or eight years (I can’t remember which), Jason, me, the dogs and our daughter head up the hill to the Mogollon Rim with oh about 100 of our “closest” friends to participate in the annual event which is names…Backwoods Beerfest.

Beerfest was started by a close friend of ours ten years ago this year… we missed out on the first two or three but have not missed one since.

If you live or have heard of the hellish hotness that is the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix metro area) you can bet your life we all become super excited to beat the heat, lose touch with the modern world, drink, connect with friends and become one with Mother Nature herself.

Weather wise..we never know what we are going to get..some years it is in the 80’s, dry and hot and some years it’s nothing but torrential rains..this year..we we lucky to get the best of both worlds.

My friend and I sent our other halves up the hill a day early so they could grab a sweet spot and set up camp. We would have loved to go up with them but we had to work…BOOO…who am I kidding 😉 it was the BEST rolling into camp with everything set up already!

This was home for three days and two nights. The mister is so good at making sure everything is as perfect as can be for his lady..his mutts and his self.

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I really should not have allowed an entire week to go by before I told you my story because I’ll be honest..I don’t remember much 😉 It is after all…BEERFEST *should be deemed…drunkfest!*

Thinking about it now..I know we arrived around 4 in the afternoon on Friday the 31st..That’s all I remember from that night..not because I was wasted but I think the events of Saturday completely overshadowed my first night in the woods. Holy crap..honestly..there is nothing significant that I remember from Friday..it’s like it didn’t even happen. I do know..it was lovely to be there..the weather was perfect and I behaved myself…as much as this kid can…

The next morning was full of relaxation..

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Even the mister enjoy the most comfy spot in the house..

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There were more than a few “nature walks” ~ My major complaint of Beerfest…It is neat that a bunch of people come together BUT..that also means I have to walk like 1/4 mile just to pee……I know..I know..they have private toilets available for camping but I’m sorry..to me? That’s just gross..

 

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This year, someone bought a live pig, raised it, slaughtered it and brought it to camp for a pig roast.

* Side note: what is a better word for slaughter? The person(s) who raised this pig and “sacrificed” it for the sake of our tummies treated this little guy so much..I mean SO MUCH..better than ANY animal we could ever buy at the meat counter in our grocery stores..to use the word slaughter or sacrifice seems inappropriate. *

Anyway, here is the little guy who served us so selflessly

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They started Mr. Piggy around 0530 because he needed to roast for like 8 to 10 hours.. I had coffee and continued my stent in the hammock until my friends woke up and made me a bloody mary. So good..the perfect amount of horseradish and olives and vodka and mary mix and whatever else goes into the making of this morning treat! Another one of our camp mates had made a bloody maria..I am not a big fan of those. I had one sip and didn’t like it. I will give it just one more “shot” but it will have to be a different tequila..Jose..is NOT a friend of mine..I am pretty sure the end result will be the same. Mary will win over Maria.

Sometime in the day the rain came in and was more than welcome..her timing was perfect too, rain for a few hours, stopped in time for all of us to gather around the beer tables for the annual tasting! Let the fun begin!

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Yup, someone brought these flamingos and I LOVE this idea 🙂 NOTHING screams “I am a redneck” more than pink flamingos in your front yard and a rebel flag hah!

There was, of course, even event security 😉

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I mean really..with all of these people here combined with all the beer..you would think it was needed ** Luckily..all was good and I think the shirts were just for fun **

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Shortly after, the rain started again and we all ventured to the pig for some delicious snack time.

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Yup! Red solo wine cup and BBQ topped with cole slaw. We know how to camp. 🙂

Sadly, No more pictures of this day… it’s just as well though because had I been running around the forest with my camera..it would not have survived..at least I had enough sense to put it away during the torrential down pour.

That was the beginning of the end for me woooo partay time! Box o’ wine was flowing, red and white. I am pretty sure I made it to all the campsites to spread my joyful cheer until I was poured into my tent for the night. I did not even care that my sleeping bag was soaked along with my pillow and the rest of my clothes. Did you know that when you buy a tent it does not already come waterproof?? That is the goofiest thing ever. A tent is to protect you from the elements..you would think one of those elements would include RAIN..nope.. you buy a tent..you have to water proof it. Apparently the mister knew of this because he said he has a spray that seals the tent..but for whatever reason..didnt do it. Word to the wise..

The next morning we took our sweet time, packed up, said our goodbyes and headed down the hill.

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Until next year Rim….photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Girls Day Out…

Crap, I was supposed to wake up, at the latest, 0700. The plan was to hit the 0915 Power Yoga class at Sutra Midtown ~ the drive is a little over 15 miles.

Yea, well Kiah didn’t wake me up until after 0800..no way were we going to make it.. Instead we figured we could make it to the Basic Yoga class at 1045, be done in time for lunch! Perfecto!

We left in a timely manner but stupid construction put us a little bit behind schedule..that and the weirdos on the road doing like five miles UNDER the speed limit..Honestly..I really don’t understand..

I wanted to take some pictures of the place for the you all but we got there just in time to toss our belongings into a cubby and head to class!

From the spacious front room – decorated with super cute yoga apparel along with walls clad with amazing local art – the front desk attendant walked us through the clean hall and into the “dungeoneaque” practice space. The entry door was really neat..it was made of iron and had welding marks.. like it was a bunch of little iron piece welded together..and it was a sliding door.

The room was dimly lit and was full of aspiring yogis in savasana setting all intentions. Kiah and I followed suit.

Just like myself..my yoga practice has been random and inconsistent. With that said..My skill level is somewhere between a beginner and the intermediate level. These past few months have set me back so my STRENGTH is totally at a beginner level.. This class actually worked out pretty well.

The instructor reminded me of Seth Meyers a little (1st impression) as the class (slowly) progressed..I was beginning to work deeper into going back to the basics. Damn…that was tough. I forgot how much hard work it is to build strength. I was surprised my legs were so weak, my wrists had a hard time holding on and that I actually broke a sweat. 😉 Mr instructor did such a great job at reminding us to root ourselves and to keep breathing. Those who don’t yoga..yes…we doing yoga…must sometimes be reminded to BREATHE 😉

Although I would have much preferred an intermediate class (they flow faster and require less strength..in my opinion) it was great to get back to the basics and the instructor did a wonderful job at reeling me back in. I will definitely be back to see what else Midtown Sutra has to offer!

And…next time I go back…I will take pictures..the vibe of the place is excellent..you have to see it..

After class, we jumped into the ridiculously HOT car (thank you to the brilliant man who invented window coverings for cars!!!) and drove downtown for a little lunch.

Again..traffic was HORRIBLE..guess who forgot this weekend was Phoenix COMICON.?? Yep..me..bad decision but we stuck it out. I am pretty sure we drove around for like 25 minutes trying to fight traffic and figure out how to get to the restaurant before finding the parking garage adjacent to out destination.

Walking to the Pizzaria Bianco was like walking in an oven..People..it’s friggin HOT here.

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I have been obsessing about this place for months having heard it was one of the best pizzas in the nation..naturally I was curious!  Surprisingly, the wait was not too long and we were seated within two minutes of arriving. The inside is super small, the tables too close together and the acoustics are not that great..it was loud. We opted to dine outside. Thankfully, there was a little bit of a breeze, some shading and we had cold cold drinks..I prefer dining outdoors so I was completely OK with it.

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The staff was wonderful. So attentive but not annoyingly so…and the lady who brought us our AH MA ZING pizza margarita even entertained us and took a picture of me and my lovely when I asked her to. 😉 Thanks lady!!

Now..check out the goods:

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Thin crust with just the right amount of crunch with every bite. The freshness of the tomatoes and sauce is well worth the 15.00 we paid for this little pizza. The mozzarella cheese was perfect and the basil…mon amie…I am not a pizza expert and have no idea what constitutes the best pizza in the nation but I would imagine this place deserves big props for what they create.

Here’s a tip thoug…if you are dining with a male…you’ll need to order  two pizzas…Kiah and I could have probably eaten one per.. we are thanking ourselves for not because that would have been glutenous of us but..we totally could have..

We tossed around the idea of checking the menu again for maybe some dessert or a salad..luckily we just paid the check and left.

Half way home Kiah spotted a little cupcake shop she’s been wanting to try out so I swung around and we went in.

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The Treehouse Bakery is a vegan bakery..

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The selection was not big but they did have the vanilla, chocolate and an interesting combo of strawberry basil..I am curious about that one so I just might have to go back for that one.

The lady behind the counter amused me when I asked her to find the biggest one because Kiah and wanted to share one 🙂 and then she offered to us this  cappuccino hazelnut delight!

I am not sure how, without butter, she made the frosting taste so buttery but it was super good!! Glad we stopped. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Problem?

What is gluten and why are soooo many many Americans now all of the sudden “allergic” to it? I am a little curious about the answers to these questions but not enough to do hard core research to find out. I am certain the research would take too much time, I would forget half of it and end up down the internet rabbit hole super quick like!

So, I just want to start off by saying..I am NOT allergic (that I know of anyway) to gluten. I don’t even know if I have a “sensitivity” to the stuff. What I do know is that I have eczema and it SUCKS. Having eczema has made me more insane than “normal” and has caused me to spend endless time on the internet researching ways to get rid of this this BS..

I’ve learned stress is a huge contributor. HA! This one is funny because, I don’t think I was stressed out but maybe I was…whatever. Once an itch spot pops up..THAT..creates more stress which makes the problem even worse. So ok, let me RELAX my mind.. ohhhmmmm

Pollen is also a problem..along with dust…Awesome..I have three dogs and I live in a friggin DESERT. I better take my daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin B6, zinc…like 50-80mg a day…and zyrtec. I use Eucerin for eczema for cream.

THEN..I don’t even know how I found it BUT…white vinegar…it burns like hell but it worked..For like two weeks I walked around the house and work with a squirt bottle of vinegar. Everyone I know absolutely hated the smell so be prepared for your family, friends and co-workers to turn their noses up at you 😉 Eff ’em…seriously…it’s painful but takes the itch away.

In the last week, I have added Nasacort and tanning beds along with red light therapy. I slather myself in coconut oil after every shower and guess what? For three days I have been symptom free!

Sucky part? I have tried so many “tricks” I don’t know if one, a combo or all of them have been the remedy. 😦

My point to all of this is in my research I have also found that gluten is the devil and could be another contributing factor to my ailment. I am going to attempt a 30 day gluten free diet. Today was day one.

Go ahead and laugh..I am laughing…I am well aware that I have a terrible follow through track record but for the moment it’s a goal. I will keep you posted throughout the 30 days – periodically – only for my accountability. 😉

Tonight’s dinner was super easy, not any kind of fresh but it was gluten free.

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Please note! The mushrooms may or may not be completely gluten free… I ate them but only because I am not allergic .I am only testing a drastic reduction and elimation  as much as possible. Their could be cross contamination in the mushrooms depending on the soil or which they were grown…you’d honestly have to contact the farmer to truly find out. Every other ingredient boasts “Gluten Free”

Those noodles??? Oh..em…gee..you cannot even tell they are not “real” noodles. The mister didn’t even know!!

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First, I splashed a dash of avocado oil, removed the sausage from the casings and tossed them into the skillet. I threw in the entire carton of sliced mushrooms, squished three garlic cloves onto the mess and let that cook for a bit.

Sprinkled some fresh chopped basil, poured the sauce over top and let simmer for a while….Until the mister and I were HUNGRY..

Then I started the noodles. It does seem the gluten free noodles take about 3-4 minutes longer to be done than regular noodles.

Voila! :

 

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SO..DARN…DELICIOUS..

 

 

 

Back to Our Roots

I am a either a hypocrite, lazy or just ignorant. I am leaning more towards..chosen ignorance. Here’s the deal..I despise big commercial farming. BUT I am also super guilty of buying beef, chicken and other meat products from the grocery store and I KNOW..they come from big commercial farms. It’s easy. I try try try…as much as humanly possible to buy local and grass fed meat products but let’s face it…it’s really not that cheap and not that easy to come by…

This weekend Jason and I spent some time with friends who have land and live off of it as much as possible.

Bonus number 1:

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A little Chardonnay patch of their own. I would not choose a white BUT…hey..they have a choice and good on them!! 🙂

Bonus number 2:

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They raise their own beef. This is where I get torn.. I actually had to walk away for a few moments and take other pictures in and around the area because..I knew..those moo cows were inevitably going to be on someones plate in about a year. Luckily for those moo cows..our friends freezers a full for the time being.

I WISH..I had the ability..will power..or whatever..to become a vegetarian because I am truly AM a sympathizer. But..I also..like the taste of meat and I know the human body actually needs it..it’s what we were designed for. This is where I become torn. I love the idea of knowing where my food comes from, what my meat has been raised on and also knowing that my food has never once been treated inhumanly. This..I can 100% guarantee..is the case with these cows featured in this blog.

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The cycle starts with education. I was raised..not in a bad way..but like a lot of Americans..not knowing any different. Our food comes from the grocery store. That’s just the way it is. I think it’s important we teach our kids and grand kids how people survived before the “Big Mac”..Let’s get rid of the options..go back to the rustic days and live off the land!

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I’ll get to that point one day..I am realizing the importance of such things more and more..everyday..