Small Business Saturday

I want to start writing a little more about other people, and how we can do our part helping from home, if at all possible. I set up a few interviews with nurses — friends and strangers alike — to tell us about what it’s like in the COVID units, but today I want to write about some small businesses worth supporting. It’s been surprisingly difficult for me to find places to support, as I think a lot of them aren’t circulating on social media platforms as much as they could be.

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Barrel Oak Winery
While other businesses pushed to stay open and keep selling their products no matter what, Barrel Oak Winery quietly closed and said that their customer’s health was their number one priority. I absolutely love a company that genuinely cares about its customers, and this winery is particularly amazing because of the love they have for dogs! It’s my favorite winery in Virginia because of all the pups you get to meet when you go to the winery. They’re currently offering free shipping and some pretty good discounts when you buy in bulk. Check out their website today to stock up for the coming weeks of quarantine.

Buskey Cider
This is one of the first places I found strictly from social media. I had been looking for a place to get a few nice summer drinks from, and Busky Cider looked promising, as they had fun flavors of hard cider like tart cherry and peach iced tea. They were super accommodating with delivery, and very friendly and appreciative of business when I called them to set something up. I later learned that they had so much business in my area that they were going to make regular trips back, which is fantastic. If you live somewhere in Virginia, check out their schedule and they are probably delivering near you at some point. They’re really hustling and deserve some good business!

Grocery Delivery
Notice how I didn’t put a company name here? I have found some people on Facebook who have done grocery runs for me, or referred them to friends and family. This is fantastic because the individual gets to keep 100% of the profit, plus the tip. It’s a difficult time for everyone, particularly people who’s livelihood has been affected, so this is a great way to really reward someone for their hard work. I also have looked into it, and it seems like certain big retailers have stepped up during this time to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs, and companies like Walmart are offering good benefits to working during the pandemic. If you use these services, just be sure to tip the best you are able. People who are working out right now deserve hazard pay, and we can provide that by offering generous tips.

All Good Things
I am obsessed with letter writing, journaling, gift giving, and everything of the like. This is the cutest website I found that opened in July 2017. It’s normally open for business in Dallas, TX, but in the meantime you can shop online and follow them on Instagram for some really fun, creative posts.

Pronto
The sisters who created Pronto opened shop in January, and have been still selling online throughout the pandemic. In short, their work does print, ship, design, social, and event branding. Their Instagram is bright and cheery, and offers a little taste of what they do in their feed.


Finally, I know some really fantastic girls who own their own boutiques. If you’re feeling like you want to dress up a little more — or find cute, comfortable loungewear — during these quarantine times, check out each of these and support a small business to update your wardrobe.

August Bay
August Bay is currently having a sale, giving 25% off cozy clothing items that are perfect for relaxing indoors while staying cute. I’ve been conflicted some days of wanting to feel cute and be comfortable, and cute sweats are a perfect marriage of the two. August Bay offers free shipping and returns for all purchases, so there’s no harm in shopping up a storm on their website.

Clothed in Strength
Clothed in Strength is the cutest etsy shop around. From inspirational phrases to Christian messages, these tees are well-made and affordable. There is currently a 15% off discount on the site, too!

Ever Row
Ever Row was created and owned by sisters, and gives the best summer vibes on my Insta feed. It actually usually has 2 stores in South Carolina, so it’s really important to shop online until they’re able to get back to selling things like usual. Right now there’s free shipping on any order. The site is super easy to navigate and fun to shop through.

Mini and Mine
This is the CUTEST site for mommy daughter matching outfits. Mini and Mine was actually started back in February, right before all the COVID-19 stuff started escalating in the United States. It’s a monthly subscription service — that you can start and cancel at any time — that sends you a set of matching tees for your child and you to wear together. It’s such a fun idea, particularly for quarantine pictures in the coming months. Follow their Instagram page to see the last couple of sets — and some pretty cute mother daughter duos.

The ML Edit
The homepage says, “Cabin Fever: shop the chilly day essentials,” which feels perfect for this crisp April day. Check out the company’s Instagram feed for a good feel on what their vibe is, and feel good about your purchases, knowing you’re supporting someone’s livelihood.

TJ’s Tuesday Fall Favorites

Alright, so I still have not done a pumpkin post, not because I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s lately, but because there honestly isn’t as much pumpkin stuff as I remembered in the past. Sure there are a few sauces and baking mixes, but I remember years before having a million pumpkin things I was excited to try. One of these weeks I’ll muster up the energy to find five pumpkin things I’d like to try, but until then we’re going to do a few of my favorite fall items.

1. Envy Apples
Envy apples are freaking amazing. Like, they’re the best apples you’ll ever eat. They’re super crispy and taste like a more tart version of their cousin, the Gala apple. Trader Joe’s is kind of cool too because they charge you by the fruit, not by the pound, so you can just pick out the best apple of the bunch and feel like you’re getting a great deal.

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2. Cinnamon Bun Spread
Have you ever smelled a candle and wished you could eat it? If candle eating resonates with you, this jar of cinnamon might just be your thing. The texture is almost like melted wax and if I could waft the scent around my home, it would smell like fall potpourri. I’ve read quite a bit about this cinnamon bun spread before, but never tried it until a couple of days ago. When I was at TJ’s contemplating this purchase, I saw that the first ingredient is honey, which I’m all for. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m kind of glad I got it and I have a feeling I’ll crave this spread anytime I light a fall candle in my home. It should last me the entire season. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a better way of eating it than on the back of a shortbread cookie!

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3. Organic Strawberries 
Fall isn’t necessarily known to be strawberry picking season, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled how fresh the strawberries were from over a foot away. These ended up being so good that I ate the entire box in two sittings — and already went back for another bundle I’ve almost finished.

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4. Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Halloween is coming up, which means it’s time to break out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except these are even better. I sometimes get a stomachache from eating too many, so be careful how many you let yourself have because they’re addicting!

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5. Pumpkin Dog Treats
I think it was a real missed opportunity not calling these Pupkin Treats, but it is what it is. Jax and Macy both love these dog treats that are made with real pumpkin. As I was writing this I thought about how I was going to tell you that they smell just like a human pumpkin snack, and it dawned on me that I might be able to take a bite and tell you whether or not it tasted like one, too. I went to check the ingredients and here’s what I found:

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Okay, I know what wheat is and despite being gluten-free, a little won’t kill me. Pumpkin is fine, so is cane molasses. So far so good! Typical Trader Joe’s, making dog treats something good enough for humans to eat. Bravo. Canola oil is another check next to “human ingredient,” and so is ground cinnamon. I don’t know what citric acid is, but I’ve also seen it on my own nutrition labels before. What in the world is “Mixed Tocopherols?!” My laptop is recognizing it as a word, but I certainly don’t. First possibly scary ingredient, but I’m assuming it’s a pretty typical preservative (which, in anyone’s defense, can be scary in human foods too). Lastly, Rosemary extract. Something I am familiar with. Well, I guess I gotta go for it then! For the sake of the blog.

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I took a bite on my Instagram story earlier and it was totally gross. Despite smelling like a biscotti I would be happy to dip in my coffee, it tasted like crunchy, wheat flavored cardboard. I have no idea why Jax and Macy love these so much, but I see why in my 28 years on earth I’ve never had the desire to try a dog treat. I could have gone my whole life without making this weird decision.

Anyway, I know I posted a little late today, but I hope you find something new to try next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Please don’t let my poor review of dog treats and candle flavored cinnamon goo deter you from trying something new or getting a treat for your pup while you’re out. I promise they’ll like it!


Read more about other Trader Joe’s favorites here

Krista’s Kitchen: Coconut Curry Chicken

I took a survey on my Instagram last week, and found a lot of people were interested in having me write about what I cook. Let me begin with this: I am not a chef, and before Robert and I got married we joked about how he would be doing all the cooking since I couldn’t even make simple grilled chicken without completely burning it. Like, I would char it completely to make sure it was cooked thoroughly. Now, though, I am all about creating recipes that are super easy, healthy, and tasty. I think cooking is fun, and I am surprisingly capable after learning more about different ingredients. I want to make recipes that literally anyone can do, and without all the work of measuring out ingredients and being hassled with following something exactly.

Today, I want to share my newest creation that I can actually take 100% credit for! I made it last night with some ingredients I picked out from the store, and I was actually anticipating to get a major fail blog post out of it. My coconut curry chicken is now Robert’s favorite dish I’ve ever made, though, and he said he gives it a 9.8 out of 10, which is the closest to perfect he’ll ever get. He said this was comparing it to restaurants and every kind of food he’s ever had. I asked if he’s ever had a dish that’s a 10 before, and he said no. Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty proud that this was ranked as one of the best foods in his book!

Okay so it’s really easy to make, but before getting started I want to preface this post with something. I cook by eyeballing everything. I compare this to playing music by ear; you don’t need to have measuring cups or any sort of help reading exact numbers for my recipes. I’ll explain how I make everything based on ratios or describing how much flavor you want in a recipe. This, in my opinion, makes things a lot easier and more customizable from person to person. I typically make enough food for 2, so just add more however much you think you need when cooking for a bigger party. Here goes nothing!

Coconut Curry Chicken

Krista’s Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients: 
Chicken Breast
Ground Turmeric
Curry Powder
Chili Powder
Chopped Garlic Cloves
Lime Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Jasmine Rice
Coconut Milk
Carrots
Butter
Ground Cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F.

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No, I don’t believe in measuring cups, but this was a good one to display the rice in.

Step 2: make the coconut rice.

Coconut rice is one of my favorite things and is so easy to make! Literally all you do is dump the coconut milk (I love the organic coco milk from Trader Joe’s) into a pot on the stove, cover, and heat until it begins to boil.

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Just a heads-up, if you get the milk with a normal amount of fat in it, it might be partially solid. The first time I made this I threw out the milk because I thought it went bad since it was solid, but it’s supposed to be like this! It will melt into a liquid once it begins to boil.

Once the coconut milk is boiling, add a pinch of salt, and dump in about 3/4 the amount of rice as there was liquid. An easy way to do this is just measure it in the empty coconut milk can.

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Once you pour the rice in the pot, re-cover it, turn the heat to “medium low,” and cook without stirring until the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.

Now, let’s move on to the main dish while the rice cooks!

Step 3: Put the seasoning together.

Seasoning chicken is surprisingly easy. The only things I used were turmeric, curry, garlic, lime juice (sorry I put a photo with a lemon, but I changed my mind at the last minute and am not professional enough to retake the photo. Plus, using a lemon instead will not kill you, and is a fine substitute I’m sure), salt, and pepper.

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Start by putting three shakes of chili powder into a mixing bowl. Then, put in a very generous amount of curry powder. After all, the dish is called “chicken curry,” so we need this flavor to really stand out! Add about half the amount of ground turmeric as there is curry in the bowl. I just eyeballed all of this to be more than enough to season the chicken breast with, that way I didn’t have to make up a mixture again or have a naked chicken.

Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, then stir in enough EVOO to turn the mixture into a little bit of a liquid, but still smell primarily like curry. If it smells too much like EVOO, add more curry and turmeric until the marinade smells like seasoning again. Squirt in as much lime (or lemon) juice as you think seems good. I used one of those premade lime juices that you keep in the fridge, and put in about 6 drops. Chop up a few garlic cloves and toss them in there, too. I really roughly chopped it, which is why you can clearly see chunks of garlic on my finished product. I bet you thought those were peanuts or some sort of fancy topping. Nope, just good ol’ garlic!

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Step 4: Prepare the chicken.

I always start off by patting the chicken breast dry with paper towels, and placing it on a cutting board. As I mentioned before, I don’t know a lot about cooking, so I probably hack off a little too much of the chicken. Are those white things veins that need to be gone, or fat that is chewy and gross? Or is it just part of the chicken breast? Regardless, the shape of my chicken sometimes isn’t very pretty because of my lack of knowledge.

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The chicken before I did a lot of unnecessary chopping
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Chicken after I got rid of the suspicious white stuff

Then, cover both sides with salt and pepper. This is a step I only take because I have watched enough of The Food Network to know that it’s an incredibly professional move.

After that, throw the chicken into the sauce and cover it completely. I mixed all the chicken around a ton so it would be evenly coated. Put it on a baking sheet and cook until the chicken is white throughout. You can Google “How long do you bake chicken?” to find more answers on food safety and such. I don’t want to be responsible for any food poisoning, and honestly I just cook it until it seems ready, then cut into it to be sure that it is no longer pink.

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Step 5: While the chicken is cooking, you can take care of the carrots. These are literally the easiest thing to make of all time.

Start by chopping up as many carrots as you’d like. I did four for two people, but they were enormous since they weren’t organic and were likely genetically modified. I don’t typically go this route, but the organic bag was way too big and heavy for me to carry, so here we are with these four foot long vegetables.

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Then, let some butter melt in a saucepan. Once again, put in as much as you’d like depending on how fattening you’d like this meal to be. You could also use EVOO or some other ingredient to sauté. I don’t think it really matters.

Toss a bunch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt on the carrots. I love cinnamon, so I don’t think you can really have too much of it.

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Cook until soft, stirring on occasion. It takes maybe like, 5-7 minutes?

Step 6: Cook everything until it’s all done, then put it all together on a plate. I don’t really know how else to end this, but I think you are capable enough to finish dinner on your own. I certainly have no idea what I’m doing and was able to execute it alright.

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I’d give this recipe an 8/10. I really liked it and am craving it again now that I’m writing about it and looking at all the photos. Minus the ones of the raw chicken — raw meat really grosses me out, which made me almost decide to not include those photos. I think they were necessary to break up the steps and make this an easy read, though.

Please let me know what you think of this if you decide to make it, and if you’d like to see more of this! Since I love to cook now I might be doing a few recipes each month, rather than a million Instagram stories that will disappear.

Friday Favorites: Summer Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve written little product reviews, so I figured it was about time I did a post about some of my favorite things for summertime. Since I have POTS and really need to focus on health and hydration, this is going to be all about healthy living this summer. Let me know in the comments if you have a great recommendation of things for me to try while it’s still hot out!


1. nuun Tablets

nuun tablets are my favorite thing to keep me hydrated when it’s hot out — and really throughout the year. I have a terribly off electrolyte and sodium balance in my body, so these little tablets are perfect to put in my Smart Water to keep me feeling good. My favorite flavor is watermelon, but I also like the lemon lime or strawberry lemonade nuuns!

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2. Mission Towel

My mission towel has kept me from fainting a good handful of times. My body overheats really easily, which causes my heart to race and blood pressure to drop way too dramatically. This is a huge nuisance, so anytime I go someplace outdoors I take my towel in my purse and just add water to activate the cooling cloth. I put it on my neck to lower my body temperature, and it really does work wonders. I think even just normal people who hate the heat or athletes would really benefit from having one of these!

3. Cotton Candy Grapes

CC grapes are literally my favorite summer snack. I could eat an entire box of these in one sitting if they weren’t so filling! (Note: I’ve never known grapes to be a filling food, which just shows how much I must eat at snacktime.) Please, if you’ve never tried these, go to the store and get them before they’re out of season. They aren’t genetically modified; I don’t know how they get the grapes to taste like this, but it’s wild!

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4. Rodan + Fields Foaming Sunless Tan

The products that initially drew me to Rodan + Fields were the Unblemish regimen and the Lash Boost, but I quickly discovered that their sunless tanner is incredible. I’ve never been someone who likes to sit out in the sun, but I love the way my skin looks with a nice brown glow. I had trouble finding a self tanner that wouldn’t streak or make my skin look orange (I’m looking at you, Tan Towel!), but somehow the foam makes it a lot easier to get full coverage and make the bottle last well into the summer. It was funny the first time I tried it because it was right after my beach trip, and Robert told me my tan looked really nice. I proceeded to lecture him about how I don’t get a really dark real tan, since I am careful to keep my skin protected from UV rays.

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5.Greek Yogurt

But not just any Greek yogurt — Maple Hill Creamery Greek yogurt! The cows are 100% grass-fed, and appear to live a pretty good life in their family-owned farms in New York. I am all about treating animals well, plus this yogurt is easily the best I’ve ever had. I got on the Greek yogurt bandwagon pretty early on, back when I was in high school and it was just becoming a popular thing. I’ve tried a lot of different types, and this is by far my favorite.

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BONUS: Root Beer Floats

This was the float that started it all. I went to a Bachelorette party last month and one of the bars we ended up at had root beer floats. While everyone else got a nice glass of wine, I decided to go ahead and treat myself to an ice cold float. I’m not much of a soda drinker (And I know I promised this post would be healthy — which is why this is a bonus item!), but this is easily my new favorite splurge.

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Officer’s Ball

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen photos and little stories from this past weekend, but I am going to write a little about the ball, as promised.

Robert and I made our way to Richmond on Friday after my physical therapy appointment. I love traveling with him because we always have something to talk about and don’t just sit and listen to music the entire time.

We were hungry, so we stopped off at a little diner along the way.

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As many of you know, I am now gluten-free (And don’t eat nighthshade veggies, a few random fruits, or very much dairy) so it’s always a little annoying trying to find something good to eat. I was a little concerned about diner food, as it’s sometimes not the freshest produce, but I can almost always find something to eat anywhere.

Guys. I need to go back and get the name of the diner, because this was some of the best restaurant food I could have asked for! They had homemade hummus and the freshest fruit I’ve had at a restaurant. So good!

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After that we hit the road again, and enjoyed each other’s company until we finally arrived at our hotel. Robert carried all of the bags with the exception of my purse and pillow (I do not travel light now that I have POTS to care for!), and we rested a bit before getting ready to go out to dinner and to the rest of the Army events that evening.

I chose the restaurant we went to — Texas Roadhouse — and we had a nice time catching up with some of Robert’s friends before going back to the hotel and mingling in some of their hospitality suites. I am still incredibly new to all things military so it’s kind of overwhelming trying to follow some of the conversations. My go-to move is smiling and nodding when someone says something I don’t understand. I’ll ask one or two questions, but I don’t want to essentially be quizzing officers on what their career entails, so I try to remember my questions to ask Robert later in the evening.

The next morning I woke up and ordered room service while I listened to a book on tape and got ready for the day. This was not only a ball, but it was also some sort of Officer’s Conference, so I attended the “military spouse” meeting that morning. After that I enjoyed more room service, and talked to my best friend while I waited for Robert to get back.

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There’s something really relaxing about pampering yourself in a nice, soft hotel bed. Every time I sleep over somewhere I feel inspired to redo my room in the simplest way with just a giant, fluffy white comforter and maybe even a butler to bring me breakfast in bed. My dream Sunday mornings involve hot chocolate, pancakes, warm blankets, snuggling, and a good rom com.

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I slowly munched on my food as I got ready for the evening gala. I had a blast trying on my dresses again and trying to figure out which one to wear, along with what lipstick color I wanted to pick for the occasion. I know, I know — I could have done all of this at home. It was hard picking which dress made me feel better that day.

Up until the evening before I thought I would be wearing this formfitting white dress. I liked that it was elegant, a little sparkly, and perfect for springtime. The back had a gorgeous cutout, and although it wasn’t the princessy look I initially wanted to go for, I felt really good in it. At the last minute, though, I decided I liked my second option just a little bit better.

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So I went with a blue dress instead!

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We had a really nice evening filled with conversation, food, and meeting new people. It wasn’t really what I had expected — the major complaint was that there was absolutely no dancing — but I still had a nice time and loved having the opportunity to dress up. Not to mention I got to see Robert in a dress uniform, which was kind of a fun occasion! I also didn’t feel way too sick until the end of the evening, which is always a major plus.

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I told Robert that since there wasn’t any dancing that he would have to take me to another ball in the near future. After all, that was what I was looking forward to the most! I’ve never been to such a fun, fancy event with a boyfriend before, so we’ll just have to go to another that will have a DJ who will play Usher, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez so we can dance the night away.

Table For One

One mission for my time being single is to be really comfortable being alone. Even when I had a long-term boyfriend I was able to work on this and enjoy my own company because we were long distance for several years of our relationship. I’ve always felt pretty secure going places by myself but since I am an extrovert I love spending my time with people — I just also realize it’s not realistic or healthy filling all of my time being surrounded by loved ones.

Anyway, I’ve been planning fun dates by myself lately and am excited to share stories from several of them.

I’ll start with my date in New York.

When I went to the city with my mom she had some business to take care of, so I was on my own for a day. It was nice being back in the city; one of my favorite things about living there was just exploring new places all by myself. New York is a fantastic place to be single. There is so much to do and are so many fun people you meet along the way through all of your solo adventures.

I decided to begin my day by going to a fancy restaurant alone. This has been one of the goofier things on my bucket list, but why not cross it off while I’m in the greatest city on earth? I found a restaurant right next to The Plaza that was overlooking Central Park.

One of the waiters immediately greeted me and asked, “How many for brunch?”

I replied, “Just one, thank you.”

Maybe I was imagining things, but he gave me a kind of funny look as he walked me to a table. He sat me at a 4-top and asked again — just to be sure– “Will someone be meeting you here?” To which I replied, “No.”

I kid you not this happened five times. I didn’t keep my phone out, as I wanted to truly enjoy a dinner date by myself, but I kept a mental tally of how many people seemed shocked I was dining alone. It reminded me of this clip from Impractical Jokers:

Other than being bullied about not having any friends to go out to eat with, my solo date was really nice! I splurged and treated myself to a bunch of my favorite breakfast foods, and enjoyed people-watching by myself. I had such a nice time, in fact, that I am going to continue taking myself on little dates every once in awhile. I would highly recommend a date with yourself to kind of recharge at the end of a busy work week.

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Or if you don’t think of yourself as good company, I would also highly recommend myself as a date. Feel free to buy me brunch anytime and exchange for feeding me I will give good company and embarrassing stories to tell for years!

Today’s lesson: The biggest perk of being your own date is being able to eat as much as you want and not have to worry about someone else getting “food envy” when you order what is clearly the best thing on the menu. Like, seriously, people need to back off. #hangry

Hello From The Other Side

Dear Torchy’s,

I live outside of Washington DC, so we are over 1,000 miles apart. I used to date someone from Texas, so I got to visit you regularly, but he and I broke up awhile ago and I haven’t been back since.

I miss you, Torchy’s. What I really miss most is your queso. I never even liked dip until I tried yours, but I quickly became addicted. Every time I’d go to Texas I would make sure to visit you several times a week.

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Photo courtesy of @torchystacos on Twitter

So I have a crazy request.

Could you please send me the recipe so I can make my own here in DC? It doesn’t appear that you are moving here anytime soon and I’m not sure that I’ll ever find anyone who makes queso quite like you.

Love Always,
Your Biggest Fan